Then came a real difficulty. It will be better appreciated when the men’s childish nature is borne in mind. Their patience was terribly strained in their attempts to make the sparks fly into the tinder. Again and again one of them would throw the rocks angrily to the ground, fairly snarling with exasperation.
However, the other would immediately take them up and try again. Neither man had a tenth the deftness that is common to adults on the earth. In size and strength alone they were men; otherwise—it cannot too often be repeated—they were mere children. All told, it was over two hours before the punk began to smolder.
“By Mownoth!” swore the herdsman, staring reverently at the smoke. “We have done a miracle, Dulnop—ye and I! Be ye sure this is no dream?”
Quite in human fashion, Dulnop seriously reached out and pinched the herdsman’s tremendous arm. Corrus winced, but was too well pleased with the result to take revenge, although the nature of these men was such as to call for it.
“It be no dream!” he declared, still awestruck.
“Nay,” agreed Dulnop. “And now—to make the flower grow!”
It was Corrus’s lungs which really did the work. His prodigious chest was better than a small pair of bellows, and he blew just as he had been told in the vision. Presently a small flame appeared in the tinder, and leaped eagerly upward. Both men jumped back, and for lack of enough air the flame went out.
“Never mind!” exclaimed Dulnop at Corrus’s crestfallen look. “I remember that we must be ready with leaves, and the like, as soon as the blossom appears. Blow, ye great windmaker, and I shall feed the flower!”
And thus it came about that two men of Sanus, for the first time in the history of the planet, looked upon fire itself. And when they had got it to burning well, each of them stared at his hands, and from his hands to the little heap of “flowers”; from hands to fire they looked, again and again; and then gazed at one another in awe.
AT HALF COCK
Rolla and Cunora searched for hours. They followed one creek almost to its very beginning, and then crossed a ridge on the left and came down another stream. Again and again Cunora found bits of mineral such as would have deceived any one who had been less accurately impressed than Rolla. As it afterward turned out, the very accuracy of this impression was a great error, strange though that may seem.
Finally Rolla glanced up at the sun and sighed. “We will have to give it up for this day,” she told Cunora. “There be just time enough to return before night.” Neither said anything about the half-rations upon which they would be fed in punishment for running away.
So the two started back, making their way in gloomy silence through the woods and fields of the valley. Cunora was greatly disappointed, and soon began to show it as any child would, by maintaining a sullenness which she broke only when some trifling obstacle, such as a branch, got in her way. Then she would tear the branch from the tree and fling it as far as she could, meanwhile screaming with anger. Rolla showed more control.