March 30, 2016

the uttermost hanging over

I invoked, in utter desperation, the awe with which, as his hints and my experience implied, Esmo was regarded by his neighbours; and slender as seemed this support, it did not fail me. The Regent's countenance fell, and I saw that I might depend at least on his passive compliance. Clasping his arm with my left hand, I said, "Pull back with all your might. If I go over, you shall go over too." Then pulling him down with me, and stretching myself over the precipice so far that but for this additional support I must have fallen, I reached Eveena, whose closed eyes and relaxing limbs indicated that another moment's delay might be fatal.

"Give me your hand," I cried in despair, seeing how tightly she still grasped the tough fibrous shoots growing in the crevices of the rock, whereof she had taken hold. "Give me your hand, and let go!"

To give me her hand was beyond the power of her will; to let go without giving me hold would have been fatal. Beaching over to the uttermost, I contrived to lay a firm grasp upon her wrist. But this would not do. I could hardly drag her up by one arm, especially if she would not relax her grasp. I must release the Regent and depend upon his obedience, or forfeit the chance of saving her, as in a few more moments she would certainly swoon and fall.

"Throw yourself upon me, and sit firm, if you value your life," I cried, and I relaxed my hold on his arm, stretching both hands to grasp Eveena. I felt the man's weight on my body, and with both arms extended tothe edge, I caught firm bold of the girl's shoulders. Even now, with any girl of her age on earth, and for aught I know with many Martial damsels, the case would have been hopeless. My whole strength was required to raise her; I had none to spare to force her loose from her hold. Fortunately my rough and tight clasp seemed to rouse her. Her eyes half opened, and semi-consciousness appeared to have returned.

"Let go!" I cried in that sharp tone of imperious anger which—with some tempers at least—is the natural expression of the outward impulse produced by supreme and agonizing terror. Obedience is the hereditary lesson taught to her sex by the effects of equality in Mars. Eveena had been personally trained in a principle long discarded by Terrestrial women; and not half aware what she did, but yielding instinctively to the habit of compliance with imperative command spoken in a masculine voice, she opened her hands just as I had lost all hope. With one desperate effort I swung her fairly on to the platform, and, seeing her safe there, fell back myself scarcely more sensible than she was.

The whole of this terrible scene, which it has taken so long to relate, did not occupy more than a minute in action. I know not whether my readers can understand the full difficulty and danger of the situation. I know that no words of mine can convey the impression graven into my own memory, never to be effaced or weakened while consciousness remains. The strongest man on Earth could not have done what I did; could not, lying half over the precipice, have swung a girl of eighteen right out from underneath him, and to his own level. But Eveena was of slighter, smaller frame than a healthy French girl of twelve, while I retained the full strength of a man adapted to the work of a world where every weight is twice as heavy as on Mars. What I had practically to do was to lift not seven or eight stone of European girlhood, not even the six Eveena might possibly have weighed on Earth, but half that weight. And yet the position was such that all the strength I had acquired through ten years of constant practice in the field and in the chase, all the power of a frame in healthful maturity, and of muscles whose force seemed doubled by the tension of the nerves, hardly availed. When I recovered my own senses, and had contrived to restore Eveena's, my unwilling assistant had disappeared.

Posted by: rniceert at 04:25 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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