Silver Dome by Harl Vincent
In her deep-buried kingdom of Theros, Phaestra reveals the
amazing secret of the Silver Dome.
n a secluded spot among the hills of northern New Jersey stood the
old DeBost mansion, a rambling frame structure of many wings and
gables that was well-nigh hidden from the road by the half-mile or
more of second-growth timber which intervened. High on the hill it
stood, and it was only by virtue of its altitude that an occasional
glimpse might be obtained of weatherbeaten gable or partly
tumbled-down chimney. The place was reputed to be haunted since the
death of old DeBost, some seven years previously, and the path which
had once been a winding driveway was now seldom trod by human foot.
It was now two years since Edwin Leland bought the estate for a song
and took up his residence in the gloomy old house. And it had then
been vacant for five years since DeBost shot himself in the northeast
bedroom. Leland's associates were sure he would repent of his bargain
in a very short time, but he stayed on and on in the place, with no
company save that of his man-servant, an aged hunch-back who was
known to outsiders only as Thomas.
Leland was a scientist of note before he buried himself in the DeBost
place, and had been employed in the New York research laboratory of
one of the large electrical manufacturers, where he was much admired
and not a little envied by his fellow workers. These knew almost
nothing of his habits or of his personal affairs, and were much
surprised when he announced one day that he had come into a sizable
fortune and was leaving the organization to go in for private research
and study. Attempts to dissuade him were of no avail, and the purchase
of the DeBost property followed, after which Leland dropped from sight
for nearly two years.
hen, on a blustery winter day, a strange telephone call was received
at the laboratory where he had previously worked. It was from old
Thomas, out there in the DeBost mansion, and his quavering voice asked
for Frank Rowley, the genial young engineer whose work had been most
closely associated with Leland's.
"Oh, Mr. Rowley," wailed the old man, when Frank responded to the
call, "I wish you would come out here right away. The master has been
acting very queerly of late, and to-day he has locked himself in his
laboratory and will not answer my knocks."
"Why don't you break in the door?" asked Frank, looking through the
window at the snow storm that still raged.
"I thought of that, Mr. Rowley, but it is of oak and very thick.
Besides, it is bound with steel or iron straps and is beyond my
"Why not call the police?" growled Frank. He did not relish the idea
of a sixty or seventy mile drive in the blizzard.
"Oh—no—no—no!" Old Thomas was panicky at the suggestion. "The
master told me he'd kill me if I ever did that."
Before Frank could formulate a reply, there came a sharp gasp from the
other end of the line, a wailing cry and a thud as of a falling body;
then silence. All efforts to raise Leland's number merely resulted in
"busy" or "line out of order" reports.
Frank Rowley was genuinely concerned. Though he had never been a close
friend of Leland's, the two had worked on many a knotty problem
together and were in daily contact during the nearly ten years that
the other man had worked in the same laboratory.
"Say, Tommy," said Frank, replacing the receiver and turning to his
friend, Arnold Thompson, who sat at an adjoining desk, "something has
happened out at Leland's place in Sussex County. Want to take a drive
out there with me?"
"What? On a day like this? Why not take the train?"
"Don't be foolish, Tommy," said Frank. "The place is eight miles from
the nearest station, which is a flag stop out in the wilds. And, even
if you could find a cab there—which you couldn't—there isn't a taxi
driver in Jersey who'd take you up into those mountains on a day like
this. No, we'll have to drive. It'll be okay. I've got chains on the
rear and a heater in the old coupe, so it shouldn't be so bad. What do
So Tommy, who usually followed wherever Frank led, was prevailed upon
to make the trip. He had no particular feeling for Leland, but he
sensed an adventure, and, in Frank's company, he could ask for no
rank was a careful driver, and three hours were required to make the
sixty-mile journey. Consequently, it was late in the afternoon when
they arrived at the old DeBost estate. It had stopped snowing, but the
drifts were deep in spots, and Frank soon found that the car could not
be driven through the winding path from the road to the house. So
they left it half buried in a drift and proceeded on foot.
It was a laborious task they had undertaken, and, by the time they set
foot on the dilapidated porch, even Frank, husky and athletic as was
his build, was puffing and snorting from his exertions. Little Tommy,
who tipped the scales at less than a hundred and twenty, could hardly
speak. They both were wet to the waist and in none too good humor.
"Holy smoke!" gasped Tommy, stamping the clinging snow from his sodden
trouser legs and shoes, "if it snows any more, how in Sam Hill are we
going to get out of this place?"
"Rotten trip I let you in for Tommy," growled Frank, "and I hope
Leland's worth it. But, darn it all, I just had to come."
"It's all right with me, Frank. And maybe it'll be worth it yet.
Look—the front door's open."
e pointed to the huge oaken door and Frank saw that it was ajar. The
snow on the porch was not deep and they saw that footprints led from
the open door to a corner of the porch. At that point the snow on the
railing was disturbed, as if a hurrying man had clung to it a moment
before jumping over and into the drifts below. But the tracks led no
further, for the drifting snow had covered all excepting a hollow
where some body had landed.
"Thomas!" exclaimed Frank. "And he was in a hustle, by the looks of
the tracks. Bet he was frightened while at the telephone and beat it."
They entered the house and closed the door behind them. It was growing
quite dark and Frank searched for the light switch. This was near the
door, and, at pressure on the upper button, the spacious old hall with
its open staircase was revealed dimly by the single remaining bulb in
a cluster set in the center of the high ceiling. The hall was
unfurnished, excepting for a telephone table and chair, the chair
having fallen to the floor and the receiver of the telephone dangling
from the edge of the table by its cord.
"You must have heard the chair fall," commented Tommy, "and it sure
does look as if Thomas left in a hurry. Wonder what it was that
The house was eerily silent and the words echoed awesomely through the
adjoining rooms which connected with the hall through large open
"Spooky place, isn't it?" returned Frank.
nd then they were both startled into immobility by a rumble that
seemed to shake the foundations of the house. Heavier and heavier
became this vibration, as if some large machine was coming up to
speed. Louder and louder grew the rumble until it seemed that the
rickety old house must be shaken down about their ears. Then there
came a whistling scream from the depths of the earth—from far
underground it seemed to be—and this mounted in pitch until their
eardrums tingled. Then abruptly the sounds ceased, the vibration
stopped, and once more there was the eery silence.
Rather white-faced, Tommy gazed at Frank.
"No wonder old Thomas beat it!" he said. "What on earth do you suppose
"Search me," replied Frank. "But whatever it is, I'll bet it has
something to do with Leland's strange actions. And we're going to find
He had with him the large flashlamp from the car, and, by its light,
the two made their way from room to room searching for the iron-bound
door mentioned by Thomas.
They found all rooms on the first and second floors dusty and unused
with the exception of two bedrooms, the kitchen and pantry, and the
library. It was a gloomy and spooky old house. Floor boards creaked
startlingly and unexpectedly and the sound of their footsteps echoed
"Where in time is that laboratory of Leland's?" exclaimed Frank, his
ruddy features showing impatient annoyance, exaggerated to an
appearance of ferocity by the light of the flashlamp.
"How about the cellar?" suggested Tommy.
"Probably where it is," agreed Frank, "but I don't relish this job so
much. I'd hate to find Leland stiff down there, if that's where he
"Me, too," said Tommy. "But we're here now, so let's finish the job
and get back home. It's cold here, too."
"You said it. No steam in the pipes at all. He must have let the fire
go out in his furnace, and that's probably in the cellar too—usually
hile talking, Frank had opened each of the four doors that opened
from the kitchen, and the fourth revealed a stairway that led into the
blackness beneath. With the beam of his torch directed at the steps,
he proceeded to descend, and Tommy followed carefully. There was no
light button at the head of the stairs, where it would have been
placed in a more modern house, and it was not until they had reached
the furnace room that they located a light fixture with a pull cord.
An ordinary cellar, with furnace, coal bin, and a conglomeration of
dust-covered trunks and discarded furniture, was revealed. And, at its
far end, was the iron-bound door.
The door was locked and could not be shaken by the combined efforts of
the two men.
"Have to have a battering ram," grunted Frank, casting about for a
"Here you are," called Tommy, after a moment's search. "Just the thing
we are looking for."
e had come upon a pile of logs, and one of these, evidently a section
of an old telephone pole, was of some ten or twelve inches diameter
and about fifteen feet long. Frank pounced upon it eagerly, and,
supporting most of the weight himself, led the attack on the heavy
oak door with the iron bands.
No sound from within greeted the thunderous poundings. Clearly, if
Leland was behind that door, he was either dead or unconscious.
Finally the double lock gave way and Tommy and Frank were precipitated
headlong into the brightly lighted room beyond. Recovering their
balance, they took stock of their surroundings and were amazed at what
they saw—a huge laboratory, fitted out with every modern appliance
that money could buy. A completely equipped machine shop there was;
bench after bench covered with the familiar paraphernalia of the
chemical and physical laboratory; huge retorts and stills; complicated
electrical equipments; dozens of cabinets holding crucibles, flasks,
bottles, glass tubing, and what not.
"Good Lord!" gasped Tommy. "Here's a laboratory to more than match our
own. Why, Leland's got a fortune invested here!"
"I should say so. And a lot of stuff that our company does not even
have. Some of it I don't know even the use of. But where is Leland?"
here was no sign of the man they had come to help. He was not in the
laboratory, though the door had been locked from within and the lights
left burning throughout.
With painstaking care they searched every nook and cranny of the large
single room and were about to give up in despair when Tommy happened
to observe an ivory button set into the wall at the only point in the
room where there were no machines or benches at hand. Experimentally
he pressed the button, and, at the answering rumble from under his
feet, jumped back in alarm. Slowly there opened in the paneled oak
wall a rectangular door, a door of large enough size to admit a man.
From the recess beyond there came a breath of air, foul with the
musty odor of decayed vegetation, dank as the air of a tomb.
"Ah-h-h!" breathed Frank. "So that is where Ed Leland is hiding! The
secret retreat of the gloomy scientist!"
He spoke half jestingly, yet when he squeezed his stalwart bulk
through the opening and flashed the beam of his light into the
darkness of a narrow passage ahead he was assailed with vague
forebodings. Tommy followed close behind and spoke not a word.
he passage floor was thick with dust, but the marks of many footsteps
going and returning gave mute evidence of the frequency of Leland's
visits. The air was heavy and oppressive and the temperature and
humidity increased as they progressed along the winding length of the
rock-walled passageway. The floor sloped, ever downward and, in spots,
was slippery with slimy seepage. It seemed that they turned back on
their course on several occasions but were descending deeper and
deeper into the heart of the mountain. Then, abruptly, the passage
ended at the mouth of a shaft, which dropped vertically from almost
beneath their feet.
"Whew!" exclaimed Frank. "Another step and I'd have dropped into it.
That's probably what happened to Leland."
He knelt at the rim of the circular opening and looked into the depths
of the pit, Tommy following suit. The feeble ray of the flashlight was
lost in the blackness below.
"Say, Frank," whispered Tommy, "turn off the flash. I think I saw a
light down there."
And, with the snapping of the catch, there came darkness. But, miles
below them, it seemed, there was a tiny pin-point of brilliance—an
eery green light that was like a wavering phosphorescence of
will-o'-the-wisp. For a moment it shone and was gone. Then came the
dreadful vibration they had experienced in the hall of the house—the
whistling scream that grew louder and louder until it seemed they
must be deafened. The penetrating wail rose from the depths of the
pit, and the vibration was all around them, in the damp rock floor on
which they knelt, and in the very air of the cavern. Hastily Frank
snapped on the light of his flash.
"Oh boy!" he whispered. "Leland is certainly up to something down
there and no mistake! How're we going to get down?"
"Get down?" asked Tommy. "You don't want to go down there, do you?"
"Sure thing. We're this far now and, by George, we're going to find
out all there is to learn."
"How deep do you suppose it is?"
"Pretty deep, Tommy. But we can get an idea by dropping a stone and
counting the seconds until it strikes."
e played the light of the flash over the floor and soon located a
smooth round stone of the size of a baseball. This he tossed over the
rim of the pit and awaited results.
"Good grief!" exclaimed Tommy. "It's not falling!"
What he said was true, for the stone poised lightly over the opening
and drifted like a feather. Then slowly it moved, settling gradually
into oblivion. Frank turned the flash downward and they watched in
astonishment as the two-pound pebble floated deliberately down the
center of the shaft at the rate of not more than one foot in each
"Well, I'll be doggoned," breathed Frank admiringly. "Leland has done
it. He has conquered gravity. For, in that pit at least, there is no
gravity, or at any rate not enough to mention. It has been almost
completely counteracted by some force he has discovered and now we
know how to follow him down there. Come on Tommy, let's go!"
And, suiting action to his words, Frank jumped into the mouth of the
pit where he bobbed about for a moment as if he had jumped into a
pool of water. Then slowly he sank from view, and Tommy followed him.
t was a most unique experience, that drop into the heart of the
mountain. Practically weightless, the two young men found it quite
difficult to negotiate the passage. For the first hundred or more feet
they continued to bump about in the narrow shaft and each sustained
painful bruises before he learned that the best and simplest method of
accommodating himself to the strange condition was to remain
absolutely motionless and allow the greatly weakened gravity to take
its course. Each movement of an arm or leg was accompanied by a change
in direction of movement, and contact with the hard stone walls
followed. If they endeavored to push themselves from the contact the
result was likely to be an even more serious bump on the opposite side
of the shaft. So they continued the leisurely drop into the unknown
depth of the pit.
Frank had turned off the flashlamp, for its battery was giving out and
he wished to conserve its remaining energy for eventualities. Thus
they were in Stygian darkness for nearly a half-hour, though the green
luminosity far beneath them grew stronger with each passing minute. It
now revealed itself as a clearly defined disc of light that flickered
and sputtered continually, frequently lighting the lower end of the
shaft with an unusual burst of brilliance. Remotely distant it seemed
though, and unconscionably slow in drawing nearer.
"How far do you think we must drop?" called Tommy to Frank, who was
probably fifty feet below him in the shaft.
"Well, I figure we have fallen about a thousand feet so far," came the
reply, "and my guess is that we are about one third of the way down."
"Then this shaft is over a half-mile deep, you think?"
"Yes, at least a thousand yards, I should say. And I hope his gravity
neutralizing machinery doesn't quit all of a sudden and let us down."
"Me, too," called Tommy, who had not thought of that possibility.
his was no joke, this falling into an unknown region so far beneath
the surface of good old mother earth, thought Tommy. And how they
would ever return was another thing that was not so funny. Frank was
always rushing into things like this without counting the possible
cost and—well—this might be the last time.
Gradually the mysterious light became stronger and soon they could
make out the conformation of the rock walls they were passing at such
a snail's pace. Layers of vari-colored rock showed here and there,
and, at one point there was a stratum of gold-bearing or mica-filled
rock that glistened with a million reflections and re-reflections. The
air grew warmer and more humid as they neared the mysterious light
source. They moved steadily, without acceleration, and Frank estimated
the rate at about forty feet a minute. Then, with blinding suddenness,
the light was immediately below and they drifted into a tremendous
cavern that was illuminated by its glow.
Directly beneath the lower end of the shaft through which they had
passed, there was a glowing disc of metal about fifteen feet in
diameter. They drifted to its surface and sprawled awkwardly where
they fell. Scrambling to gain a footing, they bounced and floated
about like toy balloons before realizing that it would be necessary to
creep slowly from the influence of that repelling force which had made
the long drop possible without injury. Gravity met them at the disc's
edge with what seemed to be unusual violence.
t first it seemed that their bodies weighed twice the normal amount,
but this feeling soon passed and they looked about them with
incredulous amazement. The metal disc was quite evidently the medium
through which the repelling force was set up in the shaft, and to this
disc was connected a series of heavy cables that led to a pedestal
nearby. On the pedestal was a controlling lever and this moved over a
quadrant that was graduated in degrees, one end of the quadrant being
labeled "Up" and the other "Down." The lever now stood at a point but
a very few degrees from the center or "Zero" mark and on the down
side. Frank pulled this lever over to the full "Down" position and
they found that they could walk over the disc with normal gravity.
"I suppose," said Frank, "that if the lever is at the other end of the
scale one would fall upward with full gravity acceleration—reversed.
At zero, gravity is exactly neutralized, and the intermediate
positions are useful in conveying materials or human beings up and
down the shaft as desired. Very clever; but what is the reason for it
In the precise center of the great cavern there was a dome or
hemisphere of polished metal, and it was from this dome that the eery
light emanated. At times, when the light died down, this dome gleamed
with dull flickerings that threatened to vanish entirely. Then
suddenly it would resume full brilliance, and the sight was marvelous
beyond description. A slight hissing sound came from the direction of
the dome, and this varied in intensity as did the light.
"Gosh!" said Tommy. "That looks like silver to me. And, if it is, what
a wealthy man our friend Leland has become. He has spent his fortune
well, even if he used it all to get to this."
"Yes, but where is he?" commented Frank. Then: "Leland! Leland!" he
is voice echoed through the huge vault and re-echoed hollowly. But
there was no reply save renewed flickerings from the dome.
Leaving the vicinity of the gravity disc, the two men advanced in the
direction of the shining dome, which was about a quarter-mile from
where they stood. Both perspired freely, for the air was very close
and the temperature high. But the light of the dome was as cold as the
light of a firefly and they had no hesitancy in drawing near. It was a
beautiful sight, this dome of silver with its flickering lights and
"By George, I believe it is silver," exclaimed Frank, when they were
within a few feet of the dome. "No other metal has that precise color.
And look! There is a wheelbarrow and some mining tools. Leland has
been cutting away some of the material."
Sure enough, there was indisputable evidence of the truth of his
statement. And the material was undoubtedly silver!
"Silver Dome," breathed Tommy, holding a lump of the metal in his
hand. "A solid dome of pure silver—fifty feet high and a hundred in
diameter. How much does that figure in dollars and cents, Frank?"
"Maybe it isn't solid," said Frank dryly, "though it's worth a
sizeable fortune even if it is hollow. And we haven't found Leland."
hey circled the dome twice and looked into every corner of the great
cavern, but there was no sign of the man for whom they searched. The
wheelbarrow was half filled with lumps of the heavy metal, and maul
and drill lay where they had been dropped by the lone miner. A cavity
three feet across, and as many deep, appeared in the side of the dome
to show that considerably more than one wheelbarrow load had been
"Funny," grunted Tommy. "Seems almost like the old dome had swallowed
At his words there came the terrific vibration. The light of the dome
died out, leaving them in utter darkness, and from its interior there
rose the mounting scream that had frightened old Thomas away. From so
close by it was hideous, devastating; and the two men clung to each
other in fright, expecting momentarily that the earth would give way
beneath their feet and precipitate them into some terrible depth from
which there could be no return.
Then the sound abruptly ceased and a gleam of light came from under
the dome of silver. A crack appeared between its lower edge and the
rocky floor of the cavern, and through this crack there shone a light
of dazzling brilliancy—a warm light of rosy hue. Wider grew the
opening until there was a full three feet between the floor and the
bottom of the dome. Impelled by some irresistible force from within,
the two men stumbled blindly to the opening, fell to the floor and
There was a heavy thud and the dome had returned to its normal
position, with Frank and Tommy prisoners within its spacious hollow.
The warm light bathed them with fearful intensity for a moment, then
faded to a rosy glow that dulled their senses and quieted their
nerves. Morpheus claimed them.
hen Frank awoke he found himself between silken covers, and for a
moment he gazed thoughtfully at a high arched ceiling that was
entirely unfamiliar. Then, remembering, he sprang from the downy bed
to his feet. The room, the furnishings, his silken robe, everything
was strange. His bed, he saw, was a high one, and the frame was of the
same gleaming silver as the dome under which they had been trapped.
The arched ceiling glowed softly with the same rosy hue as had the
inner surface of the dome. A large pool of water invited him, the
surface of the pool being no more than a foot below the point where it
was built into the tile floor of the room. A large open doorway
connected with a similar adjoining room, where he suspected Tommy had
been taken. On his bare toes, he moved silently to the other room and
saw that his guess had been correct. Tommy lay sleeping quietly
beneath covers as soft as his own and amidst equal luxury of
"Well," he whispered, "this doesn't look as though we would come to
any harm. And I might as well take a dive in that pool."
Returning to his own room, he removed the silken garment with which he
had been provided and was quietly immersed in the cool, invigorating
water of the bath. His head cleared instantly.
"Hi there!" called Tommy from the doorway. "Why didn't you wake me up?
Where are we, anyway?"
With dripping head and shoulders above the water, Frank was compelled
to laugh at the sleepy-eyed, wondering expression on the blue-jowled
face of his friend. "Thought you were dead to the world," he returned,
"you old sleepy-head. And I don't know where we are, excepting that it
is somewhere under the silver dome. What's more, I don't much care.
You should get into this water. It's great!"
o saying, he dived to the bottom of the pool and stood on his hands,
his feet waving ludicrously above the surface. Tommy sniffed once and
then made a quick dash for the pool in his own room. He was not to be
outdone by his more energetic partner.
A half-hour later, shaved and attired in their own garments, which had
been cleaned and pressed and hung neatly in the closets, they settled
themselves for a discussion of the situation. Having tried the doors
of both rooms and found them locked from the outside, there was no
other course open to them. They must await developments.
"Looks like Leland has quite an establishment down here inside the
mountain," ventured Tommy.
"Hm!" snorted Frank, "this place is none of Leland's work. He is
probably a prisoner here, as are we. He just stumbled on to the
silver dome and was captured by whatever race is living down here
beneath it, the same as we were. Who the real inhabitants are, and
what the purpose of all this is, remains to be seen."
"You think we are in friendly hands?"
"These quarters do not look much like prison cells, Tommy, but I must
admit that we are locked in. Anyhow, I'm not worrying, and we will
soon learn our fate and have to be ready to meet it. The people who
own this place must have everything they want, and they sure have some
scientific knowledge that is not known to us on the surface."
"Wonder if they are humans?"
"Certainly they are. You never heard of wild beasts sleeping in beds
like these, did you?"
ommy laughed at he examined the exquisite hand-wrought figures on the
silver bedstead. "No, I didn't," he admitted; "but where on earth did
they come from, and what are they doing here?"
"You ask too many questions," replied Frank, shrugging his broad
shoulders. "We must simply wait for the answers to reveal themselves."
There was a soft rap at the door of Frank's room, where the two men
"Come in," called Frank, chuckling at the idea of such consideration
from their captors.
A key rattled in the lock and the door swung open to admit the
handsomest man they had ever set eyes on. He was taller than Frank by
several inches, standing no less than six feet five in his thin-soled
sandals, and he carried himself with the air for an emperor. His
marble-white body was uncovered with the exception of a loin cloth of
silver hue, and lithe muscles rippled beneath his smooth skin as he
advanced to meet the prisoners. His head, surmounted by curly hair of
ebon darkness, was large, and his forehead high. The features were
classic and perfectly regular. The corners of his mouth drew upward in
a benign smile.
"Greetings," he said, in perfect English and in a soft voice, "to the
domain of Theros. You need fear no harm from our people and will be
returned to the upper world when the time comes. We hope to make your
stay with us enjoyable and instructive, and that you will carry back
kind memories of us. The morning meal awaits you now."
o taken aback were the two young Americans that they stared foolishly
agape for a space. Then a tinkling laugh from the tall stranger set
them once more at ease.
"You will pardon us, I hope," apologized Frank, "but this is all so
unexpected and so unbelievable that your words struck me speechless.
And I know that my friend was similarly affected—We place ourselves
in your hands."
The handsome giant nodded understanding. "No offense was taken," he
murmured, "since none was intended. And your feelings are not to be
wondered at. You may call me Orrin."
He turned toward the open door and signified that they were to follow
him. They fell in at his side with alacrity, both suddenly realizing
that they were very hungry.
They followed in silent wonderment as Orrin led the way to a broad
balcony that overlooked a great underground city—a city lighted by the
soft glow from some vast lighting system incorporated in its vaulted
ceiling high overhead. The balcony was many levels above the streets,
which were alive with active beings of similar appearance to Orrin,
these speeding hither and yon by means of the many lanes of traveling
ways of which the streets were composed. The buildings—endless rows of
them lining the orderly streets—were octagonal in shape and rose to
the height of about twenty stories, as nearly as could be judged by
earthly standards. There were no windows, but at about every fifth floor
there was an outer silver-railed balcony similar to the one on which
they walked. The air was filled with bowl-shaped flying ships that sped
over the roof tops in endless procession and without visible means of
support or propulsion. Yet the general effect of the busy scene was one
of precise orderliness, unmarred by confusion or distracting noises.
rrin vouchsafed no explanations and they soon reentered the large
building of which the balcony was a part. Here they were conducted to
a sumptuously furnished dining room where their breakfast awaited
During the meal, which consisted of several courses of fruits and
cereals entirely strange to Frank and Tommy, they were tended by Orrin
with the utmost deference and most painstaking attention. He
anticipated their every want and their thoughts as well. For, when
Frank endeavored to ask one of the many questions with which his mind
was filled, he was interrupted by a wave of the hand and a smile from
their placid host.
"It is quite clear to me that you have many questions to propound,"
said Orrin, "and this is not a matter of wonder. But it is not
permitted that I enlighten you on the points you have in mind. You
must first finish your meal. Then it is to be my privilege to conduct
you to the presence of Phaestra, Empress of Theros, who will reveal
all. May I ask that you be patient until then?"
So friendly was his smile and so polished his manner that they
restrained their impatience and finished the excellent breakfast in
And Orrin was as good as his word, for, no sooner had they finished
when he led them from the room and showed the way to the elevator
which conveyed them to the upper floor of the building.
From the silver-grilled cage of the lift they stepped into a room of
such beauty and magnificence of decoration that they gazed about them
in wondering admiration. The paneling and mouldings were of hammered
silver that gleamed with polished splendor in the soft rose glow of
the hidden lights. The hangings were of heavy plush of deep green hue
and bore intricate designs of silver thread woven into the material.
At the opposite side of the room there was a pair of huge double doors
of chased silver and on either side of this pretentious portal there
stood an attendant attired as was Orrin, but bearing a silver scepter
to denote his official capacity.
"Phaestra awaits the visitors from above," intoned one of the
attendants. Both bowed stiffly from the waist when Orrin led the two
young scientists through the great doors which had opened silently and
majestically at their approach.
f the outer room was astonishing in its sumptuousness of decoration
and furnishing, the one they now entered was positively breath-taking.
On every side there were the exquisite green and silver hangings.
Tables, divans, and rugs of priceless design and workmanship. But the
beauty of the surroundings faded into insignificance when they saw the
A canopied dais in the center of the room drew their attention and
they saw that Phaestra had risen from her seat in a deeply cushioned
divan and now stood at its side in an attitude of welcome. Nearly as
tall as Frank, she was a figure of commanding and imperious beauty.
The whiteness of her body was accentuated by the silver embroidered
and tightly fitted black vestments that covered yet did not conceal
its charms. A halo of glorious golden hair surmounted a head that was
poised expectantly alert above the perfectly rounded shoulders. The
exquisite oval of her face was chiseled in features of transcendent
loveliness. She spoke, and, at sound of her musical voice, Frank and
Tommy were enslaved.
entlemen of the upper world," she said gently, "you are welcome to
Theros. Your innermost thoughts have been recorded by our scientists
and found good. With a definite purpose in mind, you learned of the
existence of the silver dome of Theros, yet you came without greed or
malice and we have taken you in to enlighten you on the many questions
that are in your minds and to return you to mankind with a knowledge
of Theros—which you must keep secret. You are about to delve into a
mystery of the ages; to see and learn many things that are beyond the
ken of your kind. It is a privilege never before accorded to beings
"We thank you, oh, Queen," spoke Frank humbly, his eyes rivetted to
the gaze of those violet orbs that seemed to see into his very soul.
Tommy mumbled some commonplace.
"Orrin—the sphere!" Phaestra, slightly embarrassed by Frank's stare,
clapped her hands.
At her command, Orrin, who had stood quietly by, stepped to the wall
and manipulated some mechanism that was hidden by the hangings. There
was a musical purr from beneath the floor, and, through a circular
opening which appeared as if by magic, there rose a crystal sphere of
some four feet in diameter. Slowly it rose until it reached the level
of their eyes and there it came to rest. The empress raised her hands
as if in invocation and the soft glow of the lights died down, leaving
them in momentary darkness. There came a slight murmur from the
sphere, and it lighted with the eery green flickerings they had
observed in the dome of silver.
ascinated by the weaving lights within, they gazed into the depths of
the crystal with awed expectancy. Phaestra spoke.
"Men from the surface," she said, "you, Frank Rowley, and you, Arnold
Thompson, are about to witness the powers of that hemisphere of metal
you were pleased to term 'Silver Dome.' As you rightly surmised, the
dome is of silver—mostly. There are small percentages of platinum,
iridium, and other elements, but it is more than nine-tenths pure
silver. To you of the surface the alloy is highly valuable for its
intrinsic worth by your own standards, but to us the value of the dome
lies in its function in revealing to us the past and present events of
our universe. The dome is the 'eye' of a complicated apparatus which
enables us to see and hear any desired happening on the surface of the
earth, beneath its surface, or on the many inhabited planets of the
heavens. This is accomplished by means of extremely complex vibrations
radiated from the hemisphere, these vibrations penetrating earth,
metals, buildings, space itself, and returning to our viewing and
sound reproducing spheres to reveal the desired past or present
occurrences at the point at which the rays of vibrations are directed.
n order to view the past on our own planet, the rays, which travel
at the speed of light, are sent out in a huge circle through space,
returning to earth after having spent the requisite number of years in
transit. Instantaneous effect is secured by a connecting beam that
ties together the ends of the enormous arc. This, of course, is beyond
your comprehension, since the Ninth Dimension is involved. When it is
desired that events of the present be observed, the rays are projected
direct. The future can not be viewed, since, in order to accomplish
this, it would be necessary that the rays travel at a speed greater
than that of light, which is manifestly impossible."
"Great guns!" gasped Frank. "This crystal sphere then, is capable of
bringing to our eyes and ears the happenings of centuries past?"
"It is, my dear Frank," said Phaestra, "and I would that I were able
to describe the process more clearly." She smiled, and in the
unearthly light of the sphere she appeared more beautiful than before,
if such a thing were possible.
On the pedestal which supported the sphere there was a glittering
array of dials and levers. Several of these controls were now adjusted
by Phaestra, the delicate motions of her tapered fingers being watched
by the visitors with intense admiration. There came a change in the
note of the sphere, a steadying of the flickerings within.
"Behold!" exclaimed Phaestra.
hey gazed into the depths of the sphere and lost all sense of
detachment from the scene depicted therein. It seemed they were at a
point several thousand miles from the surface of a planet. A great
continent spread beneath them, its irregular shore line being clearly
outlined against a large body of water. Here and there the surface was
obscured by great white patches of clouds that cast their shadows
"Atlantis!" breathed Phaestra reverently.
The lost continent of mythology! The fabled body of land that was
engulfed by the Atlantic thousands of years ago—a fact!
Tommy glanced at Frank, noting that he had withdrawn his gaze from the
sphere and was devouring Phaestra with his eyes. As if drawn by the
ardor of his observation, she raised her own eyes from the sphere to
meet those of the handsome visitor. Obviously confused, she dropped
her long lashes and turned nervously to the controls. Tommy
experienced a sudden feeling of dread. Surely his pal was not falling
in love with this Theronian empress!
Then there came another change in the note of the sphere and once more
they lost themselves in contemplation of the scene within. The surface
of the lost continent was rushing madly to meet them. With terrific
velocity they seemed to be falling. An involuntary gasp was forced
from Tommy's lips. Mountains, valleys, rivers could now be discerned.
hen the scene shifted slightly and they were stationary, directly
above a large seacoast city. A city of great beauty it was, and its
buildings were of the same octagonal shape as were those of Theros!
There could be but one inference—the Theronians were direct
descendants of those inhabitants of ancient Atlantis.
"Yes," sighed Phaestra, in answer to the thought she had read, "our
ancestors were those you now see in the streets of this city of
Atlantis. A marvelous race they were, too. When the rest of the world
was still savage and unenlightened, they knew more of the arts and
sciences than is known on the surface to-day. The mysteries of the
Fourth Dimension they had already solved. Their telescopes were of
such power that they knew of the existence of intelligent beings on
Mars and Venus. They had conquered the air. They knew of the relation
between gravity and magnetism but recently propounded by your
Einstein. They were prosperous, happy. Then—but watch!"
Faint sounds of the life of the city came to their ears. A swarm of
monoplanes roared past just beneath them. The streets were crowded
with rapidly moving vehicles, the roof-tops with air-craft. Then
suddenly the scene darkened; a deep rumbling came from the sea. As
they watched in fascinated wonder, a great chasm opened up through the
heart of the city. Tall buildings swayed and crumbled, falling into
heaps of twisted metal and crushed masonry and burying hundreds of the
populace in their fall. The confusion was indescribable, the uproar
terrific, and within the space of a very few minutes the entire city
was a mass of ruins, fully half of the wrecked area having been
swallowed up by the heaving waters of the ocean.
haestra stifled a sob. "Thus it began," she stated. "Trovus was
first—the city you just saw—then came three more of the cities of
the western coast in rapid succession. Computations of the scientists
showed that the upheaval was widespread and that the entire continent
was to be engulfed in a very short time. The exodus began, but it was
too late, and only a few hundred people were able to escape the
continent before it was finally destroyed. The ocean became the tomb
of two hundred millions. The handful of survivors reached the coast of
what is now North America. But the rigors of the climate proved severe
and more than three-quarters of them perished within a few days after
their planes landed. Then the rest took to the caves along the shore,
and for a while were safe."
She manipulated the controls once more and there was a quick shift to
another coast, a rugged, wave-beaten shore. Closer they drew until
they observed a lofty palisade that extended for miles along the
barren waterfront. They saw a fire atop this elevation and active men
and women at various tasks within the narrow circle of its warmth. A
cave mouth opened at the brink of the precipice near the spot they
Then came a repetition of the upheaval at Trovus. The ocean rushed in
and beat against the cliff with such ferocity that its spray was
tossed hundreds of feet in the air. The earth shook and the group of
people around the fire made a hasty retreat to the mouth of the cave.
The sky darkened and the winds howled with demoniac fury. Quake after
quake rent the rugged cliffs: huge sections toppled into the angry
waters. Then a great tidal wave swept in and covered everything,
cliffs, cave mouths and all. Nought remained where they had been but
the seething waters.
ut some escaped!" exulted Phaestra, "and these discovered Theros.
Though many miles of the eastern seaboard of your United States were
submerged and the coastline entirely altered, these few were saved.
Their cave connected with a long passage, a tunnel that led into the
bowels of the earth. With the outer entrance blocked by the upheaval
they had no alternative save to continue downward."
"They traveled for days and days. Some were overcome by hunger and
fell by the wayside. The most hardy survived to reach Theros, a series
of enormous caverns that extends for hundreds of miles under the
surface of your country. Here they found subterranean lakes of pure
water; forests, game. They had a few tools and weapons and they
established themselves in this underground world. From that small
beginning came this!"
Phaestra's slim fingers worked rapidly at the controls. The scenes
shifted in quick succession. They were once more in the present, and
seemed to be traveling speedily through the underground reaches of
Theros. Now they were racing through a long lighted passage; now over
a great city similar to the one in which they had arrived. Here they
visited a huge workshop or laboratory; there a mine where radium or
cobalt or platinum was being wrested from the vitals of the unwilling
earth. Then they visited a typical Theronian household, saw the
perfect peace and happiness in which the family lived. Again they were
in a large power plant where direct application of the internal heat
of the earth as obtained through deep shafts bored into the interior
was utilized in generating electricity.
They saw vast quantities of supplies, fifty-ton masses of machinery,
moved from place to place as lightly as feathers by use of the gravity
discs, those heavily charged plates whose emanations counteracted the
earth's attraction. In one busy laboratory they saw an immense
television apparatus and heard scientists discussing moot questions
with inhabitants of Venus, whose images were depicted on the screen.
They witnessed a severe electrical storm in the huge cavern arch over
one of the cities, a storm that condensed moisture from the
artificially oxygenated and humidified atmosphere in such blinding
sheets as to easily explain the necessity for well-roofed buildings in
the underground realm. And, in all the speech and activities of the
Theronians, there was evident that all-pervading feeling of absolute
contentment and freedom from care.
"What I can not understand," said Frank, during a quiet interval, "is
why the Theronians have never migrated to the surface. Surely, with
all your command of science and mechanics, that would be easy."
"Why? Why?" Phaestra's voice spoke volumes. "Here—I'll show you the
nd again the scene in the sphere changed. They were on the surface
and a few years in the past—at Chateau Thierry. They saw their fellow
men mangled and broken; saw human beings shot down by hundreds in
withering bursts of machine-gun fire; saw them in hand-to-hand bayonet
fights; gassed and in delirium from the horror of it all.
They traveled over the ocean; saw a big passenger liner the victim of
torpedo fire; saw babies tossed into the water by distracted mothers
who jumped in after them to join them in death.
A few years were passed by and they saw gang wars in Chicago and New
York; saw militia and picketing strikers in mortal combat; saw wealthy
brokers and bank presidents turn pistols on themselves following a
crash in the stock market; government officials serving penitentiary
terms for betrayal of the people's trust; opium dens, speakeasies, sex
crimes. It was a fearful indictment.
"Ah, no," said Phaestra kindly, "the surface world has not yet emerged
from savagery. We should be unwelcome were we to venture outside. And
now we come to the reason for your visit. You come in search of one
Edwin Leland, a fellow worker at one time. Your motives are above
reproach. But Leland came as a greedy searcher of riches. We brought
him within to teach him the error of his ways and to beg him to desist
from his efforts at destroying the dome of silver. He alone knew the
"Then you followed him and we took you in for similar reasons, though
our scientists found very quickly that your mental reactions were of
entirely different type from Leland's and that the secret would be
safe in your keeping. Leland remains obdurate. He threatens us with
physical violence, and his reactions to the thought-reading machines
are of the most treacherous sort. We must keep him with us. He shall
remain unharmed, but he must not be allowed to return. That is the
story. You two are free to leave when you choose. I ask not that you
give your word to keep the secret of 'Silver Dome.' I know it is not
he lights had resumed their normal glow, and the marvelous sphere
returned to its receptacle beneath the floor. Phaestra resumed her
seat on the canopied divan. Frank dropped to a seat on the edge of the
dais. Tommy and Orrin remained standing, Tommy lost in thought and
Orrin stolidly mute. The empress avoided Frank's gaze studiously. Her
cheeks were flushed; her eyes bright with emotion.
Frank was first to break the silence. "Leland is in solitary
confinement?" he asked.
"For the present he is under guard," replied Phaestra. "He was quite
violent and it was necessary to disarm him after he had killed one of
my attendants with a shot from his automatic pistol. When he agrees to
submit peacefully, he shall be given the freedom of Theros for the
remainder of his life."
"Perhaps," suggested Frank, "if I spoke to him...."
"The very thing." Phaestra thanked him with her wondrous eyes.
A high pitched note rang out from behind the hangings, and, in rapid
syllables of the language of Theros, a voice broke forth from the
concealed amplifiers. Orrin, startled from his stoicism, sprang to the
side of his empress. She rose from her seat as the voice completed its
"It is Leland," she said calmly. "He has escaped and recovered his
pistol. I have been told that he is now at large in the palace,
terrorizing the household. We have no weapons here, you see."
"Good God!" shouted Frank. "Suppose he should come here?"
e jumped to his feet just as a shot rang out in the antechamber.
Orrin dashed to the portal when a second shot spat forth from the
automatic which must certainly be in the hands of a madman. The doors
swung wide and Leland, hair disarranged and bloodshot eyes staring,
burst into the room. Orrin went down at the next shot and the hardly
recognizable scientist advanced toward the dais.
When he saw Frank and Tommy he stopped in his tracks. "So you two have
been following me!" he snarled. "Well, you won't keep me from my
purpose. I'm here to kill this queen of hell!"
Once more he raised his automatic, but Frank had been watching closely
and he literally dove from the steps of the dais to the knees of the
deranged Leland. As beautiful a tackle as he had ever made in his
college football days laid the maniac low with a crashing thud that
told of a fractured skull. The bullet intended for Phaestra went wide,
striking Tommy in the shoulder.
Spun half way around by the impact of the heavy bullet, Tommy fought
to retain his balance. But his knees went suddenly awry and gave way
beneath him. He crumpled helplessly to the floor, staring foolishly at
the prostrate figure of Leland and at Frank, who had risen to his feet
and now faced the beautiful empress of Theros. Strange lights danced
before Tommy's eyes, and he found it difficult to keep the pair in
focus. But he was sure of one thing—his pal was unharmed. Then the
two figures seemed to merge into one and he blinked his eyes rapidly
to clear his failing vision. By George, they were in each other's
arms! Funny world—above or below—it didn't seem to make any
difference. But it was a tough break for Frank—morganatic marriage
and all that. No chance—well—
Tommy succumbed to his overpowering drowsiness.
he awakening was slow, but not painful. Rather there was a feeling of
utter contentment, of joy at being alive. A delicious languor pervaded
Tommy's being as he turned his head on a snow white silken pillow and
stared at the figure of the white-capped nurse who was fussing with
the bottles and instruments that lay on an enameled table beside the
bed. Memory came to him immediately. He felt remarkably well and
refreshed. Experimentally he moved his left shoulder. There was
absolutely no pain and it felt perfectly normal. He sat erect in his
surprise and felt the shoulder with his right hand. There was no
bandage, no wound. Had he dreamed of the hammer blow of that
forty-five caliber bullet?
His nurse, observing that her patient had recovered consciousness,
broke forth in a torrent of unintelligible Theronian, then rushed from
He was still examining his unscarred shoulder in wonder, when the
nurse returned, with Frank Rowley at her heels. Frank laughed at the
expression of his friend's face.
"What's wrong, old-timer?" he asked.
"Why—I—thought that fool of a Leland had shot me in the shoulder,"
stammered Tommy, "but I guess I dreamed it. Where are we? Still in
"We are." Frank sobered instantly, and Tommy noted with alarm that his
usually cheerful features were haggard and drawn and his eyes hollow
from loss of sleep. "And you didn't dream that Leland shot you. That
shoulder of yours was mangled and torn beyond belief. He was using
soft nosed bullets, the hell-hound!"
ommy, these Theronians are marvelous. We rushed you to this hospital
and a half-dozen doctors started working on you at once. They repaired
the shattered bones by an instantaneous grafting process, tied the
severed veins and arteries and closed the gaping wound by filling it
with a plastic compound and drawing the edges together with clamps.
You were anaesthetized and some ray machine was used to heal the
shoulder. This required but ten hours and they now say that your arm
is as good as ever. How does it feel?"
"Perfectly natural. In fact I feel better than I have in a month."
Tommy observed that the nurse had left the room and he jumped from his
bed and capered like a school boy.
This drew no sign of merriment from Frank, and Tommy scrutinized him
once more in consternation. "And you," he said, "what is wrong with
"Don't worry about me," replied Frank impatiently. Then, irrelevantly,
he said "Leland's dead."
"Should be. I knew we shouldn't have started out to help him. But,
Frank, I'm concerned about you. You look badly." Tommy was getting
into his clothes as he spoke.
"Forget it, Tommy. You've been sleeping for two days, you know—part
of the cure—and I haven't had much rest during that time. That is
"It's that Phaestra woman," Tommy accused him.
"Well, perhaps. But I'll get over it, I suppose. Tommy, I love her.
But there's no chance for me. Haven't seen her since the row in the
palace. Her council surrounds her continually and I have been advised
to-day that we are to be returned as quickly as you are up and around.
That means immediately now."
"Good. The sooner the better. And you just forget about this queen as
soon as you are able. She's a peach, of course, but not for you.
There's lots more back in little old New York." But Frank had no reply
to this sally.
here came a knock at the door and Tommy called, "Come in."
"I see you have fully recovered," said the smiling Theronian who
entered at the bidding, "and we are overjoyed to know this. You have
the gratitude of the entire realm for your part in the saving of our
empress from the bullets of the madman."
"Yes. You and your friend. And now, may I ask, are you ready to return
to your own land?"
Tommy stared. "Sure thing," he said, "or rather, I will be in a few
"Thank you. We shall await you in the transmitting room." The
Theronian bowed and was gone.
"Well, I like that," said Tommy. "He hands me an undeserved compliment
and then asks how soon we can beat it. A 'here's your hat, what's your
hurry' sort of thing."
"It's me they're anxious to be rid of," remarked Frank, shrugging his
broad shoulders, "and perhaps it is just as well."
"You bet it is!" agreed Tommy enthusiastically, "and I'm in favor of
making it good and snappy." He completed his toilet as rapidly as
possible and then turned to face the down-hearted Frank.
"How do we go? The way we came?" he asked.
o, Tommy. They have closed off the shaft that led from the cavern of
the silver dome. They are taking no more chances. It seems that the
shaft down which we floated was constructed by the Theronians; not by
Leland. They had used it and the gravity disc to transport casual
visitors to the surface, who occasionally mixed with our people in
order to learn the languages of the upper world and to actually touch
and handle the things they were otherwise able to see only through the
medium of Silver Dome and the crystal spheres. Further visits to the
surface are now forbidden, and we are to be returned by a remarkable
process of beam transmission of our disintegrated bodies."
"Yes. It seems they have learned to dissociate the atoms of which the
human body is composed and to transmit them to any desired point over
a beam of etheric vibrations, then to reassemble them in the original
"What? You mean to say we are to be shot to the surface through the
intervening rock and earth? Disintegrated and reintegrated? And we'll
not even be bent, let alone busted?"
his time he was rewarded by a laugh. "That's right. And I have gone
through the calculations with one of the Theronian engineers and can
find no flaw in the scheme. We're safe in their hands."
"If you say so, Frank, it's okay with me. Let's go!"
Reluctantly his friend lifted his athletic bulk from the chair. In
silence he led the way to the transmitting room of the Theronian
Here they were greeted by two savants with whom Frank was already
acquainted, Clarux and Rhonus by name. A bewildering array of complex
mechanisms was crowded into the high-ceilinged chamber and, prominent
among them, was one of the crystal spheres, this one of somewhat
smaller size than the one in the palace of Phaestra.
"Where do you wish to arrive?" asked Clarux.
"As near to my automobile as possible," replied Frank, taking sudden
interest in the proceedings. "It is parked in the lane between
Leland's house and the road."
Tommy looked quickly in his direction, encouraged by the apparent
change in his attitude. The scientists proceeded to energize the
crystal sphere. They were bent upon speeding the parting guests. Their
beloved empress was to be saved from her own emotions.
Quick adjustments of the controls resulted in the locating of Frank's
car, which was still buried to its axles in snow. The scene included
Leland's house, or rather its site, for it appeared to have been
utterly demolished by some explosion within.
ommy raised questioning eyebrows.
"It was necessary," explained Rhonus, "to destroy the house in
obliterating all traces of our former means of egress. It has been
commanded that you two be returned safely, and we are authorized to
trust implicitly in your future silence regarding the existence of
Theros. This is satisfactory, I presume?"
Both Tommy and Frank nodded agreement.
"Are you ready, gentlemen?" asked Clarux, who was adjusting a
mechanism that resembled a huge radio transmitter. Its twelve giant
vacuum tubes glowed into life as he spoke.
"We are," chimed the two visitors.
They were requested to step to a small circular platform that was
raised about a foot from the floor by means of insulating legs. Above
the table there was an inverted bowl of silver in the shape of a large
"There will be no alarming sensations," averred Clarux. "When I close
the switch the disintegrating energy from the reflector above will
bathe your bodies for a moment in visible rays of a deep purple hue.
You may possibly experience a slight momentary feeling of nausea.
Then—presto!—you have arrived."
"Shoot!" growled Frank from his position on the stand.
Clarux pulled the switch and there was a murmur as of distant thunder.
Tommy blinked involuntarily in the brilliant purple glow that
surrounded him. Then all was confusion in the transmitting room.
Somebody had rushed through the open door shouting, "Frank! Frank!" It
was the empress Phaestra.
n a growing daze Tommy saw her dash to the platform, seize Frank in a
clutch of desperation. There was a violent wrench as if some monster
were twisting at his vitals. He closed his eyes against the blinding
light, then realized that utter silence had followed the erstwhile
confusion. He sat in Frank's car—alone.
The journey was over, and Frank was left behind. With awful finality
it came to him that there was nothing he could do. It was clear that
Phaestra had wanted his pal, needed him—come for him. From the fact
that Frank remained behind it was evident that she had succeeded in
retaining him. A sickening fear came to Tommy that she had been too
late; that Frank's body was already partly disintegrated and that he
might have paid the price of her love with his life. But a little
reflection convinced him that if this were the case a portion of his
friend's body would have reached the intended destination. Then,
unexplainably, he received a mental message that all was well.
onsiderably heartened, he pressed the starter button and the cold
motor of Frank's coupe turned over slowly, protestingly. Finally it
coughed a few times, and, after considerable coaxing by use of the
choke, ran smoothly. He proceeded to back carefully through the drifts
toward the road, casting an occasional regretful glance in the
direction of the demolished mansion.
He would have some explaining to do when he returned to New York.
Perhaps—yes, almost certainly, he would be questioned by the police
regarding Frank's disappearance. But he would never betray the trust
of Phaestra. Who indeed would believe him if he told the story?
Instead, he would concoct a weird fabrication regarding an explosion
in Leland's laboratory, of his own miraculous escape. They could not
hold him, could not accuse him of murder without producing a body—the
corpus delicti, or whatever they called it.
Anyway, Frank was content. So was Phaestra.
Tommy swung the heavy car into the road and turned toward New York,
alone and lonely—but somehow happy; happy for his friend.