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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 357 pages of information about When the World Shook; being an account of the great adventure of Bastin, Bickley and Arbuthnot.

“Nor do I understand how all this can be, Yva,” I said feebly, for she dazzled and overwhelmed me with her blaze of power.

“No, you do not understand.  How can you, when even I cannot?  Thus for two hundred and fifty thousand years I slept, and they went by as a lightning flash.  One moment my father gave me the draught and I laid me down, the next I awoke with you bending over me, or so it seemed.  Yet where was I through all those centuries when for me time had ceased?  Tell me, Humphrey, did you dream at all while you were ill?  I ask because down in that lonely cavern where I sleep a strange dream came to me one night.  It was of a journey which, as I thought, you and I seemed to make together, past suns and universes to a very distant earth.  It meant nothing, Humphrey.  If you and I chanced to have dreamed the same thing, it was only because my dream travelled to you.  It is most common, or used to be.  Humphrey, Bickley is quite right, I am not altogether as your women are, and I can bring no happiness to any man, or at the least, to one who cannot wait.  Therefore, perhaps you would do well to think less of me, as I have counselled Bastin and Bickley.”

Then again she gazed at me with her wonderful, great eyes, and, shaking her glittering head a little, smiled and went.

But oh! that smile drew my heart after her.

Chapter XX

Oro and Arbuthnot Travel by Night

As time went on, Oro began to visit me more and more frequently, till at last scarcely a night went by that he did not appear mysteriously in my sleeping-place.  The odd thing was that neither Bickley nor Bastin seemed to be aware of these nocturnal calls.  Indeed, when I mentioned them on one or two occasions, they stared at me and said it was strange that he should have come and gone as they saw nothing of him.

On my speaking again of the matter, Bickley at once turned the conversation, from which I gathered that he believed me to be suffering from delusions consequent on my illness, or perhaps to have taken to dreaming.  This was not wonderful since, as I learned afterwards, Bickley, after he was sure that I was asleep, made a practice of tying a thread across my doorway and of ascertaining at the dawn that it remained unbroken.  But Oro was not to be caught in that way.  I suppose, as it was impossible for him to pass through the latticework of the open side of the house, that he undid the thread and fastened it again when he left; at least, that was Bastin’s explanation, or, rather, one of them.  Another was that he crawled beneath it, but this I could not believe.  I am quite certain that during all his prolonged existence Oro never crawled.

At any rate, he came, or seemed to come, and pumped me—­I can use no other word—­most energetically as to existing conditions in the world, especially those of the civilised countries, their methods of government, their social state, the physical characteristics of the various races, their religions, the exact degrees of civilisation that they had developed, their attainments in art, science and literature, their martial capacities, their laws, and I know not what besides.

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