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|The Door in the Wall And Other Stories||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
The Country of the Blind
|Page 6 of 17||
"Where does he come from, brother Pedro?" asked one.
"Down out of the rocks."
"Over the mountains I come," said Nunez, "out of the country beyond there--where men can see. From near Bogota--where there are a hundred thousands of people, and where the city passes out of sight."
"Sight?" muttered Pedro. "Sight?"
"He comes," said the second blind man, "out of the rocks."
The cloth of their coats, Nunez saw was curious fashioned, each with a different sort of stitching.
They startled him by a simultaneous movement towards him, each with a hand outstretched. He stepped back from the advance of these spread fingers.
"Come hither," said the third blind man, following his motion and clutching him neatly.
And they held Nunez and felt him over, saying no word further until they had done so.
"Carefully," he cried, with a finger in his eye, and found they thought that organ, with its fluttering lids, a queer thing in him. They went over it again.
"A strange creature, Correa," said the one called Pedro. "Feel the coarseness of his hair. Like a llama's hair."
"Rough he is as the rocks that begot him," said Correa, investigating Nunez's unshaven chin with a soft and slightly moist hand. "Perhaps he will grow finer."
Nunez struggled a little under their examination, but they gripped him firm.
"Carefully," he said again.
"He speaks," said the third man. "Certainly he is a man."
"Ugh!" said Pedro, at the roughness of his coat.
"And you have come into the world?" asked Pedro.
"OUT of the world. Over mountains and glaciers; right over above there, half-way to the sun. Out of the great, big world that goes down, twelve days' journey to the sea."
They scarcely seemed to heed him. "Our fathers have told us men may be made by the forces of Nature," said Correa. "It is the warmth of things, and moisture, and rottenness--rottenness."
"Let us lead him to the elders," said Pedro.
"Shout first," said Correa, "lest the children be afraid. This is a marvellous occasion."
So they shouted, and Pedro went first and took Nunez by the hand to lead him to the houses.
He drew his hand away. "I can see," he said.
"See?" said Correa.
"Yes; see," said Nunez, turning towards him, and stumbled against Pedro's pail.
"His senses are still imperfect," said the third blind man. "He stumbles, and talks unmeaning words. Lead him by the hand."
"As you will," said Nunez, and was led along laughing.
It seemed they knew nothing of sight.
Well, all in good time he would teach them.
He heard people shouting, and saw a number of figures gathering together in the middle roadway of the village.
He found it tax his nerve and patience more than he had anticipated, that first encounter with the population of the Country of the Blind. The place seemed larger as he drew near to it, and the smeared plasterings queerer, and a crowd of children and men and women (the women and girls he was pleased to note had, some of them, quite sweet faces, for all that their eyes were shut and sunken) came about him, holding on to him, touching him with soft, sensitive hands, smelling at him, and listening at every word he spoke. Some of the maidens and children, however, kept aloof as if afraid, and indeed his voice seemed coarse and rude beside their softer notes. They mobbed him. His three guides kept close to him with an effect of proprietorship, and said again and again, "A wild man out of the rocks."
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|The Door in the Wall And Other Stories
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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