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|The First Men In The Moon||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
The Giddy Bridge
|Page 2 of 7||
We seemed to be marching down that tunnel for a long time. "Trickle, trickle," went the flowing light very softly, and our footfalls and their echoes made an irregular paddle, paddle. My mind settled down to the question of my chains. If I were to slip off one turn so, and then to twist it so ...
If I tried to do it very gradually, would they see I was slipping my wrist out of the looser turn? If they did, what would they do?
"Bedford," said Cavor, "it goes down. It keeps on going down."
His remark roused me from my sullen pre-occupation.
"If they wanted to kill us," he said, dropping back to come level with me, " there is no reason why they should not have done it."
"No," I admitted, "that's true."
"They don't understand us," he said, " they think we are merely strange animals, some wild sort of mooncalf birth, perhaps. It will be only when they have observed us better that they will begin to think we have minds"
"When you trace those geometrical problems," said I.
"It may be that."
We tramped on for a space.
"You see," said Cavor, "these may be Selenites of a lower class."
"The infernal fools!" said I viciously, glancing at their exasperating faces.
"If we endure what they do to us"
"We've got to endure it," said I.
"There may be others less stupid. This is the mere outer fringe of their world. It must go down and down, cavern, passage, tunnel, down at last to the sea - hundreds of miles below."
His words made me think of the mile or so of rock and tunnel that might be over our heads already. It was like a weight dropping, on my shoulders. "Away from the sun and air," I said. "Even a mine half a mile deep is stuffy." remarked.
"This is not, anyhow. It's probable - Ventilation! The air would blow from the dark side of the moon to the sunlit, and all the carbonic acid would well out there and feed those plants. Up this tunnel, for example, there is quite a breeze. And what a world it must be. The earnest we have in that shaft, and those machines"
"And the goad," I said. "Don't forget the goad!"
He walked a little in front of me for a time.
"Even that goad - " he said.
"I was angry at the time. But it was perhaps necessary we should get on. They have different skins, and probably different nerves. They may not understand our objection - Just as a being from Mars might not like our earthly habit of nudging"
"They'd better be careful how they nudge me."
"And about that geometry. After all, their way is a way of understanding, too. They begin with the elements of life and not of thought. Food. Compulsion. Pain. They strike at fundamentals."
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|The First Men In The Moon
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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