The Shadow and
the Flash by Jack London
When I look back, I realize what a peculiar friendship it was.
First, there was Lloyd Inwood, tall, slender, and finely knit,
nervous and dark. And then Paul Tichlorne, tall, slender, and finely
knit, nervous and blond. Each was the replica of the other in
everything except color. Lloyd's eyes were black; Paul's were blue.
Under stress of excitement, the blood coursed olive in the face of
Lloyd, crimson in the face of Paul. But outside this matter of
coloring they were as like as two peas. Both were high-strung, prone
to excessive tension and endurance, and they lived at concert pitch.
But there was a trio involved in this remarkable friendship, and
the third was short, and fat, and chunky, and lazy, and, loath to say,
it was I. Paul and Lloyd seemed born to rivalry with each other, and
I to be peacemaker between them. We grew up together, the three of
us, and full often have I received the angry blows each intended for
the other. They were always competing, striving to outdo each other,
and when entered upon some such struggle there was no limit either to
their endeavors or passions.
This intense spirit of rivalry obtained in their studies and their
games. If Paul memorized one canto of "Marmion," Lloyd memorized two
cantos, Paul came back with three, and Lloyd again with four, till
each knew the whole poem by heart. I remember an incident that
occurred at the swimming hole—an incident tragically significant of
the life-struggle between them. The boys had a game of diving to the
bottom of a ten-foot pool and holding on by submerged roots to see
who could stay under the longest. Paul and Lloyd allowed themselves
to be bantered into making the descent together. When I saw their
faces, set and determined, disappear in the water as they sank
swiftly down, I felt a foreboding of something dreadful. The moments
sped, the ripples died away, the face of the pool grew placid and
untroubled, and neither black nor golden head broke surface in quest
of air. We above grew anxious. The longest record of the
longest-winded boy had been exceeded, and still there was no sign.
Air bubbles trickled slowly upward, showing that the breath had been
expelled from their lungs, and after that the bubbles ceased to
trickle upward. Each second became interminable, and, unable longer
to endure the suspense, I plunged into the water.
I found them down at the bottom, clutching tight to the roots,
their heads not a foot apart, their eyes wide open, each glaring
fixedly at the other. They were suffering frightful torment, writhing
and twisting in the pangs of voluntary suffocation; for neither would
let go and acknowledge himself beaten. I tried to break Paul's hold
on the root, but he resisted me fiercely. Then I lost my breath and
came to the surface, badly scared. I quickly explained the situation,
and half a dozen of us went down and by main strength tore them loose.
By the time we got them out, both were unconscious, and it was only
after much barrel-rolling and rubbing and pounding that they finally
came to their senses. They would have drowned there, had no one
When Paul Tichlorne entered college, he let it be generally
understood that he was going in for the social sciences. Lloyd
Inwood, entering at the same time, elected to take the same course.
But Paul had had it secretly in mind all the time to study the
natural sciences, specializing on chemistry, and at the last moment
he switched over. Though Lloyd had already arranged his year's work
and attended the first lectures, he at once followed Paul's lead and
went in for the natural sciences and especially for chemistry. Their
rivalry soon became a noted thing throughout the university. Each was
a spur to the other, and they went into chemistry deeper than did ever
students before—so deep, in fact, that ere they took their sheepskins
they could have stumped any chemistry or "cow college" professor in
the institution, save "old" Moss, head of the department, and even him
they puzzled and edified more than once. Lloyd's discovery of the
"death bacillus" of the sea toad, and his experiments on it with
potassium cyanide, sent his name and that of his university ringing
round the world; nor was Paul a whit behind when he succeeded in
producing laboratory colloids exhibiting amoeba-like activities, and
when he cast new light upon the processes of fertilization through his
startling experiments with simple sodium chlorides and magnesium
solutions on low forms of marine life.
It was in their undergraduate days, however, in the midst of their
profoundest plunges into the mysteries of organic chemistry, that
Doris Van Benschoten entered into their lives. Lloyd met her first,
but within twenty-four hours Paul saw to it that he also made her
acquaintance. Of course, they fell in love with her, and she became
the only thing in life worth living for. They wooed her with equal
ardor and fire, and so intense became their struggle for her that
half the student-body took to wagering wildly on the result. Even
"old" Moss, one day, after an astounding demonstration in his private
laboratory by Paul, was guilty to the extent of a month's salary of
backing him to become the bridegroom of Doris Van Benschoten.
In the end she solved the problem in her own way, to everybody's
satisfaction except Paul's and Lloyd's. Getting them together, she
said that she really could not choose between them because she loved
them both equally well; and that, unfortunately, since polyandry was
not permitted in the United States she would be compelled to forego
the honor and happiness of marrying either of them. Each blamed the
other for this lamentable outcome, and the bitterness between them
grew more bitter.
But things came to a head enough. It was at my home, after they had
taken their degrees and dropped out of the world's sight, that the
beginning of the end came to pass. Both were men of means, with
little inclination and no necessity for professional life. My
friendship and their mutual animosity were the two things that linked
them in any way together. While they were very often at my place, they
made it a fastidious point to avoid each other on such visits, though
it was inevitable, under the circumstances, that they should come upon
each other occasionally.
On the day I have in recollection, Paul Tichlorne had been mooning
all morning in my study over a current scientific review. This left
me free to my own affairs, and I was out among my roses when Lloyd
Inwood arrived. Clipping and pruning and tacking the climbers on the
porch, with my mouth full of nails, and Lloyd following me about and
lending a hand now and again, we fell to discussing the mythical race
of invisible people, that strange and vagrant people the traditions of
which have come down to us. Lloyd warmed to the talk in his nervous,
jerky fashion, and was soon interrogating the physical properties and
possibilities of invisibility. A perfectly black object, he contended,
would elude and defy the acutest vision.
"Color is a sensation," he was saying. "It has no objective
reality. Without light, we can see neither colors nor objects
themselves. All objects are black in the dark, and in the dark it is
impossible to see them. If no light strikes upon them, then no light
is flung back from them to the eye, and so we have no vision-evidence
of their being."
"But we see black objects in daylight," I objected.
"Very true," he went on warmly. "And that is because they are not
perfectly black. Were they perfectly black, absolutely black, as it
were, we could not see them—ay, not in the blaze of a thousand suns
could we see them! And so I say, with the right pigments, properly
compounded, an absolutely black paint could be produced which would
render invisible whatever it was applied to."
"It would be a remarkable discovery," I said non-committally, for
the whole thing seemed too fantastic for aught but speculative
"Remarkable!" Lloyd slapped me on the shoulder. "I should say so.
Why, old chap, to coat myself with such a paint would be to put the
world at my feet. The secrets of kings and courts would be mine, the
machinations of diplomats and politicians, the play of stock-gamblers,
the plans of trusts and corporations. I could keep my hand on the
inner pulse of things and become the greatest power in the world. And
I—" He broke off shortly, then added, "Well, I have begun my
experiments, and I don't mind telling you that I'm right in line for
A laugh from the doorway startled us. Paul Tichlorne was standing
there, a smile of mockery on his lips.
"You forget, my dear Lloyd," he said.
"You forget," Paul went on—"ah, you forget the shadow."
I saw Lloyd's face drop, but he answered sneeringly, "I can carry a
sunshade, you know." Then he turned suddenly and fiercely upon him.
"Look here, Paul, you'll keep out of this if you know what's good for
A rupture seemed imminent, but Paul laughed good-naturedly. "I
wouldn't lay fingers on your dirty pigments. Succeed beyond your most
sanguine expectations, yet you will always fetch up against the
shadow. You can't get away from it. Now I shall go on the very
opposite tack. In the very nature of my proposition the shadow will
"Transparency!" ejaculated Lloyd, instantly. "But it can't be
"Oh, no; of course not." And Paul shrugged his shoulders and
strolled off down the briar-rose path.
This was the beginning of it. Both men attacked the problem with
all the tremendous energy for which they were noted, and with a rancor
and bitterness that made me tremble for the success of either. Each
trusted me to the utmost, and in the long weeks of experimentation
that followed I was made a party to both sides, listening to their
theorizings and witnessing their demonstrations. Never, by word or
sign, did I convey to either the slightest hint of the other's
progress, and they respected me for the seal I put upon my lips.
Lloyd Inwood, after prolonged and unintermittent application, when
the tension upon his mind and body became too great to bear, had a
strange way of obtaining relief. He attended prize fights. It was at
one of these brutal exhibitions, whither he had dragged me in order
to tell his latest results, that his theory received striking
"Do you see that red-whiskered man?" he asked, pointing across the
ring to the fifth tier of seats on the opposite side. "And do you see
the next man to him, the one in the white hat? Well, there is quite a
gap between them, is there not?"
"Certainly," I answered. "They are a seat apart. The gap is the
He leaned over to me and spoke seriously. "Between the
red-whiskered man and the white-hatted man sits Ben Wasson. You have
heard me speak of him. He is the cleverest pugilist of his weight in
the country. He is also a Caribbean negro, full-blooded, and the
blackest in the United States. He has on a black overcoat buttoned
up. I saw him when he came in and took that seat. As soon as he sat
down he disappeared. Watch closely; he may smile."
I was for crossing over to verify Lloyd's statement, but he
restrained me. "Wait," he said.
I waited and watched, till the red-whiskered man turned his head as
though addressing the unoccupied seat; and then, in that empty space,
I saw the rolling whites of a pair of eyes and the white
double-crescent of two rows of teeth, and for the instant I could
make out a negro's face. But with the passing of the smile his
visibility passed, and the chair seemed vacant as before.
"Were he perfectly black, you could sit alongside him and not see
him," Lloyd said; and I confess the illustration was apt enough to
make me well-nigh convinced.
I visited Lloyd's laboratory a number of times after that, and
found him always deep in his search after the absolute black. His
experiments covered all sorts of pigments, such as lamp-blacks, tars,
carbonized vegetable matters, soots of oils and fats, and the various
carbonized animal substances.
"White light is composed of the seven primary colors," he argued to
me. "But it is itself, of itself, invisible. Only by being reflected
from objects do it and the objects become visible. But only that
portion of it that is reflected becomes visible. For instance, here
is a blue tobacco-box. The white light strikes against it, and, with
one exception, all its component colors—violet, indigo, green,
yellow, orange, and red—are absorbed. The one exception is BLUE. It
is not absorbed, but reflected. Wherefore the tobacco-box gives us a
sensation of blueness. We do not see the other colors because they
are absorbed. We see only the blue. For the same reason grass is
GREEN. The green waves of white light are thrown upon our eyes."
"When we paint our houses, we do not apply color to them," he said
at another time. "What we do is to apply certain substances that have
the property of absorbing from white light all the colors except those
that we would have our houses appear. When a substance reflects all
the colors to the eye, it seems to us white. When it absorbs all the
colors, it is black. But, as I said before, we have as yet no perfect
black. All the colors are not absorbed. The perfect black, guarding
against high lights, will be utterly and absolutely invisible. Look at
that, for example."
He pointed to the palette lying on his work-table. Different shades
of black pigments were brushed on it. One, in particular, I could
hardly see. It gave my eyes a blurring sensation, and I rubbed them
and looked again.
"That," he said impressively, "is the blackest black you or any
mortal man ever looked upon. But just you wait, and I'll have a black
so black that no mortal man will be able to look upon it—and see it!"
On the other hand, I used to find Paul Tichlorne plunged as deeply
into the study of light polarization, diffraction, and interference,
single and double refraction, and all manner of strange organic
"Transparency: a state or quality of body which permits all rays
of light to pass through," he defined for me. "That is what I am
seeking. Lloyd blunders up against the shadow with his perfect
opaqueness. But I escape it. A transparent body casts no shadow;
neither does it reflect light-waves—that is, the perfectly
transparent does not. So, avoiding high lights, not only will such a
body cast no shadow, but, since it reflects no light, it will also be
We were standing by the window at another time. Paul was engaged
in polishing a number of lenses, which were ranged along the sill.
Suddenly, after a pause in the conversation, he said, "Oh! I've
dropped a lens. Stick your head out, old man, and see where it went
Out I started to thrust my head, but a sharp blow on the forehead
caused me to recoil. I rubbed my bruised brow and gazed with
reproachful inquiry at Paul, who was laughing in gleeful, boyish
"Well?" he said.
"Well?" I echoed.
"Why don't you investigate?" he demanded. And investigate I did.
Before thrusting out my head, my senses, automatically active, had
told me there was nothing there, that nothing intervened between me
and out-of-doors, that the aperture of the window opening was utterly
empty. I stretched forth my hand and felt a hard object, smooth and
cool and flat, which my touch, out of its experience, told me to be
glass. I looked again, but could see positively nothing.
"White quartzose sand," Paul rattled off, "sodic carbonate, slaked
lime, cutlet, manganese peroxide—there you have it, the finest
French plate glass, made by the great St. Gobain Company, who made
the finest plate glass in the world, and this is the finest piece
they ever made. It cost a king's ransom. But look at it! You can't
see it. You don't know it's there till you run your head against it.
"Eh, old boy! That's merely an object-lesson—certain elements, in
themselves opaque, yet so compounded as to give a resultant body
which is transparent. But that is a matter of inorganic chemistry,
you say. Very true. But I dare to assert, standing here on my two
feet, that in the organic I can duplicate whatever occurs in the
"Here!" He held a test-tube between me and the light, and I noted
the cloudy or muddy liquid it contained. He emptied the contents of
another test-tube into it, and almost instantly it became clear and
"Or here!" With quick, nervous movements among his array of
test-tubes, he turned a white solution to a wine color, and a light
yellow solution to a dark brown. He dropped a piece of litmus paper
into an acid, when it changed instantly to red, and on floating it in
an alkali it turned as quickly to blue.
"The litmus paper is still the litmus paper," he enunciated in the
formal manner of the lecturer. "I have not changed it into something
else. Then what did I do? I merely changed the arrangement of its
molecules. Where, at first, it absorbed all colors from the light but
red, its molecular structure was so changed that it absorbed red and
all colors except blue. And so it goes, ad infinitum. Now, what I
purpose to do is this." He paused for a space. "I purpose to seek—ay,
and to find—the proper reagents, which, acting upon the living
organism, will bring about molecular changes analogous to those you
have just witnessed. But these reagents, which I shall find, and for
that matter, upon which I already have my hands, will not turn the
living body to blue or red or black, but they will turn it to
transparency. All light will pass through it. It will be invisible. It
will cast no shadow."
A few weeks later I went hunting with Paul. He had been promising
me for some time that I should have the pleasure of shooting over a
wonderful dog—the most wonderful dog, in fact, that ever man shot
over, so he averred, and continued to aver till my curiosity was
aroused. But on the morning in question I was disappointed, for there
was no dog in evidence.
"Don't see him about," Paul remarked unconcernedly, and we set off
across the fields.
I could not imagine, at the time, what was ailing me, but I had a
feeling of some impending and deadly illness. My nerves were all
awry, and, from the astounding tricks they played me, my senses
seemed to have run riot. Strange sounds disturbed me. At times I
heard the swish-swish of grass being shoved aside, and once the
patter of feet across a patch of stony ground.
"Did you hear anything, Paul?" I asked once.
But he shook his head, and thrust his feet steadily forward.
While climbing a fence, I heard the low, eager whine of a dog,
apparently from within a couple of feet of me; but on looking about
me I saw nothing.
I dropped to the ground, limp and trembling.
"Paul," I said, "we had better return to the house. I am afraid I
am going to be sick."
"Nonsense, old man," he answered. "The sunshine has gone to your
head like wine. You'll be all right. It's famous weather."
But, passing along a narrow path through a clump of cottonwoods,
some object brushed against my legs and I stumbled and nearly fell. I
looked with sudden anxiety at Paul.
"What's the matter?" he asked. "Tripping over your own feet?"
I kept my tongue between my teeth and plodded on, though sore
perplexed and thoroughly satisfied that some acute and mysterious
malady had attacked my nerves. So far my eyes had escaped; but, when
we got to the open fields again, even my vision went back on me.
Strange flashes of vari-colored, rainbow light began to appear and
disappear on the path before me. Still, I managed to keep myself in
hand, till the vari-colored lights persisted for a space of fully
twenty seconds, dancing and flashing in continuous play. Then I sat
down, weak and shaky.
"It's all up with me," I gasped, covering my eyes with my hands.
"It has attacked my eyes. Paul, take me home."
But Paul laughed long and loud. "What did I tell you?—the most
wonderful dog, eh? Well, what do you think?"
He turned partly from me and began to whistle. I heard the patter
of feet, the panting of a heated animal, and the unmistakable yelp of
a dog. Then Paul stooped down and apparently fondled the empty air.
"Here! Give me your fist."
And he rubbed my hand over the cold nose and jowls of a dog. A dog
it certainly was, with the shape and the smooth, short coat of a
Suffice to say, I speedily recovered my spirits and control. Paul
put a collar about the animal's neck and tied his handkerchief to its
tail. And then was vouchsafed us the remarkable sight of an empty
collar and a waving handkerchief cavorting over the fields. It was
something to see that collar and handkerchief pin a bevy of quail in a
clump of locusts and remain rigid and immovable till we had flushed
Now and again the dog emitted the vari-colored light-flashes I have
mentioned. The one thing, Paul explained, which he had not
anticipated and which he doubted could be overcome.
"They're a large family," he said, "these sun dogs, wind dogs,
rainbows, halos, and parhelia. They are produced by refraction of
light from mineral and ice crystals, from mist, rain, spray, and no
end of things; and I am afraid they are the penalty I must pay for
transparency. I escaped Lloyd's shadow only to fetch up against the
A couple of days later, before the entrance to Paul's laboratory,
I encountered a terrible stench. So overpowering was it that it was
easy to discover the source—a mass of putrescent matter on the
doorstep which in general outlines resembled a dog.
Paul was startled when he investigated my find. It was his
invisible dog, or rather, what had been his invisible dog, for it was
now plainly visible. It had been playing about but a few minutes
before in all health and strength. Closer examination revealed that
the skull had been crushed by some heavy blow. While it was strange
that the animal should have been killed, the inexplicable thing was
that it should so quickly decay.
"The reagents I injected into its system were harmless," Paul
explained. "Yet they were powerful, and it appears that when death
comes they force practically instantaneous disintegration. Remarkable!
Most remarkable! Well, the only thing is not to die. They do not harm
so long as one lives. But I do wonder who smashed in that dog's head."
Light, however, was thrown upon this when a frightened housemaid
brought the news that Gaffer Bedshaw had that very morning, not more
than an hour back, gone violently insane, and was strapped down at
home, in the huntsman's lodge, where he raved of a battle with a
ferocious and gigantic beast that he had encountered in the Tichlorne
pasture. He claimed that the thing, whatever it was, was invisible,
that with his own eyes he had seen that it was invisible; wherefore
his tearful wife and daughters shook their heads, and wherefore he but
waxed the more violent, and the gardener and the coachman tightened
the straps by another hole.
Nor, while Paul Tichlorne was thus successfully mastering the
problem of invisibility, was Lloyd Inwood a whit behind. I went over
in answer to a message of his to come and see how he was getting on.
Now his laboratory occupied an isolated situation in the midst of his
vast grounds. It was built in a pleasant little glade, surrounded on
all sides by a dense forest growth, and was to be gained by way of a
winding and erratic path. But I have travelled that path so often as
to know every foot of it, and conceive my surprise when I came upon
the glade and found no laboratory. The quaint shed structure with its
red sandstone chimney was not. Nor did it look as if it ever had been.
There were no signs of ruin, no debris, nothing.
I started to walk across what had once been its site. "This," I
said to myself, "should be where the step went up to the door." Barely
were the words out of my mouth when I stubbed my toe on some
obstacle, pitched forward, and butted my head into something that
FELT very much like a door. I reached out my hand. It WAS a door. I
found the knob and turned it. And at once, as the door swung inward
on its hinges, the whole interior of the laboratory impinged upon my
vision. Greeting Lloyd, I closed the door and backed up the path a few
paces. I could see nothing of the building. Returning and opening the
door, at once all the furniture and every detail of the interior were
visible. It was indeed startling, the sudden transition from void to
light and form and color.
"What do you think of it, eh?" Lloyd asked, wringing my hand. "I
slapped a couple of coats of absolute black on the outside yesterday
afternoon to see how it worked. How's your head? you bumped it pretty
solidly, I imagine."
"Never mind that," he interrupted my congratulations. "I've
something better for you to do."
While he talked he began to strip, and when he stood naked before
me he thrust a pot and brush into my hand and said, "Here, give me a
coat of this."
It was an oily, shellac-like stuff, which spread quickly and easily
over the skin and dried immediately.
"Merely preliminary and precautionary," he explained when I had
finished; "but now for the real stuff."
I picked up another pot he indicated, and glanced inside, but could
"It's empty," I said.
"Stick your finger in it."
I obeyed, and was aware of a sensation of cool moistness. On
withdrawing my hand I glanced at the forefinger, the one I had
immersed, but it had disappeared. I moved and knew from the alternate
tension and relaxation of the muscles that I moved it, but it defied
my sense of sight. To all appearances I had been shorn of a finger;
nor could I get any visual impression of it till I extended it under
the skylight and saw its shadow plainly blotted on the floor.
Lloyd chuckled. "Now spread it on, and keep your eyes open."
I dipped the brush into the seemingly empty pot, and gave him a
long stroke across his chest. With the passage of the brush the living
flesh disappeared from beneath. I covered his right leg, and he was a
one-legged man defying all laws of gravitation. And so, stroke by
stroke, member by member, I painted Lloyd Inwood into nothingness. It
was a creepy experience, and I was glad when naught remained in sight
but his burning black eyes, poised apparently unsupported in mid-air.
"I have a refined and harmless solution for them," he said. "A fine
spray with an air-brush, and presto! I am not."
This deftly accomplished, he said, "Now I shall move about, and do
you tell me what sensations you experience."
"In the first place, I cannot see you," I said, and I could hear
his gleeful laugh from the midst of the emptiness. "Of course," I
continued, "you cannot escape your shadow, but that was to be
expected. When you pass between my eye and an object, the object
disappears, but so unusual and incomprehensible is its disappearance
that it seems to me as though my eyes had blurred. When you move
rapidly, I experience a bewildering succession of blurs. The blurring
sensation makes my eyes ache and my brain tired."
"Have you any other warnings of my presence?" he asked.
"No, and yes," I answered. "When you are near me I have feelings
similar to those produced by dank warehouses, gloomy crypts, and deep
mines. And as sailors feel the loom of the land on dark nights, so I
think I feel the loom of your body. But it is all very vague and
Long we talked that last morning in his laboratory; and when I
turned to go, he put his unseen hand in mine with nervous grip, and
said, "Now I shall conquer the world!" And I could not dare to tell
him of Paul Tichlorne's equal success.
At home I found a note from Paul, asking me to come up immediately,
and it was high noon when I came spinning up the driveway on my
wheel. Paul called me from the tennis court, and I dismounted and
went over. But the court was empty. As I stood there, gaping
open-mouthed, a tennis ball struck me on the arm, and as I turned
about, another whizzed past my ear. For aught I could see of my
assailant, they came whirling at me from out of space, and right well
was I peppered with them. But when the balls already flung at me began
to come back for a second whack, I realized the situation. Seizing a
racquet and keeping my eyes open, I quickly saw a rainbow flash
appearing and disappearing and darting over the ground. I took out
after it, and when I laid the racquet upon it for a half-dozen stout
blows, Paul's voice rang out:
"Enough! Enough! Oh! Ouch! Stop! You're landing on my naked skin,
you know! Ow! O-w-w! I'll be good! I'll be good! I only wanted you to
see my metamorphosis," he said ruefully, and I imagined he was rubbing
A few minutes later we were playing tennis—a handicap on my part,
for I could have no knowledge of his position save when all the
angles between himself, the sun, and me, were in proper conjunction.
Then he flashed, and only then. But the flashes were more brilliant
than the rainbow—purest blue, most delicate violet, brightest
yellow, and all the intermediary shades, with the scintillant
brilliancy of the diamond, dazzling, blinding, iridescent.
But in the midst of our play I felt a sudden cold chill, reminding
me of deep mines and gloomy crypts, such a chill as I had experienced
that very morning. The next moment, close to the net, I saw a ball
rebound in mid-air and empty space, and at the same instant, a score
of feet away, Paul Tichlorne emitted a rainbow flash. It could not be
he from whom the ball had rebounded, and with sickening dread I
realized that Lloyd Inwood had come upon the scene. To make sure, I
looked for his shadow, and there it was, a shapeless blotch the girth
of his body, (the sun was overhead), moving along the ground. I
remembered his threat, and felt sure that all the long years of
rivalry were about to culminate in uncanny battle.
I cried a warning to Paul, and heard a snarl as of a wild beast,
and an answering snarl. I saw the dark blotch move swiftly across the
court, and a brilliant burst of vari-colored light moving with equal
swiftness to meet it; and then shadow and flash came together and
there was the sound of unseen blows. The net went down before my
frightened eyes. I sprang toward the fighters, crying:
"For God's sake!"
But their locked bodies smote against my knees, and I was
"You keep out of this, old man!"! heard the voice of Lloyd Inwood
from out of the emptiness. And then Paul's voice crying, "Yes, we've
had enough of peacemaking!"
From the sound of their voices I knew they had separated. I could
not locate Paul, and so approached the shadow that represented Lloyd.
But from the other side came a stunning blow on the point of my jaw,
and I heard Paul scream angrily, "Now will you keep away?"
Then they came together again, the impact of their blows, their
groans and gasps, and the swift flashings and shadow-movings telling
plainly of the deadliness of the struggle.
I shouted for help, and Gaffer Bedshaw came running into the court.
I could see, as he approached, that he was looking at me strangely,
but he collided with the combatants and was hurled headlong to the
ground. With despairing shriek and a cry of "O Lord, I've got 'em!"
he sprang to his feet and tore madly out of the court.
I could do nothing, so I sat up, fascinated and powerless, and
watched the struggle. The noonday sun beat down with dazzling
brightness on the naked tennis court. And it was naked. All I could
see was the blotch of shadow and the rainbow flashes, the dust rising
from the invisible feet, the earth tearing up from beneath the
straining foot-grips, and the wire screen bulge once or twice as their
bodies hurled against it. That was all, and after a time even that
ceased. There were no more flashes, and the shadow had become long and
stationary; and I remembered their set boyish faces when they clung to
the roots in the deep coolness of the pool.
They found me an hour afterward. Some inkling of what had happened
got to the servants and they quitted the Tichlorne service in a body.
Gaffer Bedshaw never recovered from the second shock he received, and
is confined in a madhouse, hopelessly incurable. The secrets of their
marvellous discoveries died with Paul and Lloyd, both laboratories
being destroyed by grief-stricken relatives. As for myself, I no
longer care for chemical research, and science is a tabooed topic in
my household. I have returned to my roses. Nature's colors are good
enough for me.