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The Maracot Deep (1929)

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Author Topic: The Maracot Deep (1929)  (Read 2061 times)
Kothar Bishop
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« Reply #30 on: October 28, 2007, 03:03:15 pm »

Then suddenly the great bell pealed out once more. Its harsh clamour
jarred upon every nerve. I sprang to my feet, and Scanlan sat up in
bed. It was no ordinary summons which rang through the old palace. The
agitated tumultuous ringing, broken and irregular, was calling an
alarm. All had to come, and at once. It was menacing and insistent.
'Come now! Come at once! Leave everything and come!' cried the bell.

'Say, Bo, we should be with them,' said Scanlan. 'guess they're up
against it now.'

'And yet what can we do?'

'Maybe just the sight of us will give them a bit of heart. Anyhow,
they must not think that we are quitters. Where is the Doc?'

'He went to his study. But you are right, Scanlan. We should be with
the others and let them see that we are ready to share their fate.'

'The poor boobs seem to lean on us in a way. It may be that they know
more than we, but we seem to have more sand in our craw than they. I
guess they have taken what was given to them, and we have had to find
things for ourselves. Well, it's me for the deluge--if the deluge has
got to be.'

But as we approached the door a most unexpected interruption detained
us. Dr. Maracot stood before us. But was it indeed the Dr. Maracot
whom we had known--this self-assured man with strength and resolution
shining from every feature of his masterful face? The quiet scholar
had been submerged, and here was a superman, a great leader, a
dominant soul who might mould mankind to his desires.

'Yes, friends, we shall be needed. All may yet be well. But come at
once, or it may be too late. I will explain everything later--if
there is any later for us. Yes, yes, we are coming.'

The latter words, with appropriate gesture, were spoken to some
terrified Atlanteans who had appeared at the door and were eagerly
beckoning to us to come. It was a fact, as Scanlan had said, that we
had shown ourselves several times to be stronger in character and
prompter in action than these secluded people, and at this hour of
supreme danger they seemed to cling to us. I could hear a subdued
murmur of satisfaction and relief as we entered the crowded hall, and
took the places reserved for us in the front row.

It was time that we came, if we were indeed to bring any help. The
terrible presence was already standing upon the dais and facing with a
cruel, thin-lipped, demoniacal smile the cowering folk before him.
Scanlan's simile of a bunch of rabbits before a weasel came back to my
memory as I looked round at them. They sank together, holding on to
each other in their terror, and gazing wide--eyed at the mighty figure
which towered above them and the ruthless granite-hewed face which
looked down upon them. Never can I forget the impression of those
semi-circular rows, tier above tier, of haggard, wide-eyed faces with
their horrified gaze all directed towards the central dais. It would
seem that he had already pronounced their doom and that they stood in
the shadow of death waiting for its fulfilment. Manda was standing in
abject submission, pleading in broken accents for his people, but one
could see that the words only gave an added zest to the monster who
stood sneering before him. The creature interrupted him with a few
rasping words, and raised his right hand in the air, while a cry of
despair rose from the assembly.

And at that moment Dr. Maracot sprang upon the dais. It was amazing to
watch him. Some miracle seemed to have altered the man. He had the
gait and the gesture of a youth, and yet upon his face there was a
look of such power as I have never seen upon human features yet. He
strode up to the swarthy giant, who glared down at him in amazement.

'Well, little man, what have you to say?' he asked.

'I have this to say,' said Maracot. 'Your time has come. You have
over-stayed it. Go down! Go down into the Hell that has been waiting
for you so long. You are a prince of darkness. Go where the darkness
is.'

The demon's eyes shot dark fire as he answered:

'When my time comes, if it should ever come, it will not be from the
lips of a wretched mortal that I shall learn it,' said he. 'What power
have you that you could oppose for a moment one who is in the secret
places of Nature? I could blast you where you stand.'

Maracot looked into those terrible eyes without blenching. It seemed
to me that it was the giant who flinched away from his gaze.

'Unhappy being,' said Maracot. 'It is I who have the power and the
will to blast you where you stand. Too long have you cursed the world
with your presence. You have been a plague-spot infecting all that was
beautiful and good. The hearts of men will be lighter when you are
gone, and the sun will shine more brightly.'

'What is this? Who are you? What is it that you are saying?' stammered
the creature.
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