Page:Ballinger Price--Us and the Bottle Man.djvu/79

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sea. I think you left me—or I left you—with a soft and hideous something resting upon my shoulder.

Sirs, it was a Hand, a webbed hand, and turning, I looked straight down into another pair of flat dark eyes. They belonged to a creature not as tall as I, and certainly not human in shape. Arms and legs it had, of a sort, and scales, also, and finny spines, and a soft slimy body. Then, through the door which led to the silver street, I saw more of the creatures, and more,—a soft, hurrying crowd patting over the ingot blocks which paved the road, peering in at the door, beckoning with webby fingers.

My helmet smothered the cry I gave as I struggled against the horrible resistance of the water toward the door. Out in the street the mer-crowd surrounded me, fingered my arms, looking at me with unfathomable, disc-like eyes, black as ink. With dawning comprehension it came over me that these creatures inhabited the desolate, sea-filled city, lived in the mighty golden halls that once had echoed to the footsteps of Peruvian kings, fared about the rich streets where coral now grew instead of tree and flower.

The things were speechless, with no seeming means of communication, and I saw, too, that they