Page:Avon Fantasy Reader 10.djvu/52

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up on tongues of crimson flame washed over the Bowl brim, at which both clutched spasmodically, then lay still, clutched in their combined grip, to stare at that rainbow arch which still quivered and pulsed over the Bowl.

They knew the others had arrived. They heard the clear sound of bell chime, the song of the spheres. They saw Captain Ek at the Bowl brim fighting the grasp of Bjornsen and the two mechanics, but he shook off their detaining hands as if they were the fingers of children. Then the queenly figure smiled and winged above the arch, remained poised between earth and stars, and from that circle of dancing Nymphs came a young figure, golden-haired, warm-tinted, straight and strong, with her eyes downcast. And up the gleaming Arch toward her Captain Ek went. They saw that his face was suddenly young, his body slender, and he wore the look of youth.

There was one moment he stood clear against the glory, then her arms lifted, enfolded him, and the Arch was one arc of a wheel that revolved slowly as man and maid descended into the white central flame, and whirled faster and faster until human endurance broke before that vast and dreadful radiance.

Yet Crayne was not unconscious. He realized that the Light was gone except for the stars and soft aurora and that he was being carried over the hummocks and stretched on the couch of the Birmingham cabin. He was wakened in time by the sound of hammering as the mechanics repaired the broken wheel-axle and leaking cylinder. He felt Murphy sit on the side of the couch and clutch his wrist, and when he opened his eyes, Murphy was grinning.

"We got it," he said, "an' we got it good. Little lump o' rock it looks like. And we went for a swim in Bimini. Boy, oh boy, I'm only waitin' to try out that there youthstuff back home! But"—his grin was sobered and his voice slightly hushed—"the old man got across. And Bjornsen's gone."

"Bjornsen?" cried Crayne, jerking upright.

"Yeah. Nobody thought of him goin'. The ol' captain shook 'im off like a terrier shakes a rat, an' went. An' the wheel began to turn, they said, an' Bjornsen ran out on one o' the spokes an' the dames caught him, an' he was gone. They's just the two mechs an' Mose, an' you an' me. An' the boat'll be ready in an hour or so. An' here's all we got to show for that dip into glory water."

Murphy rolled two objects that looked like fragments of black glass, flaked unevenly; and, touching them, Crayne felt a tingling as of a mild galvanic battery charge, which was not so much sensation to the fingers as of ceaselessly working energy of the mass.

"Mose decided they was black diamonds an' he's bin cuddlin' 'em considerable, an' it's a funny thing but his wool is white as ours and losing its marcel kink."

"White—ours?" asked Clayne.

Murphy snatched a tiny shaving mirror from the wall and thrust it into Crayne's hand; then pulled off his fur cap. The boy's young face was framed