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the ship. He had stamped upon the black and white squares, pounded upon the floor of the dark
corridor, but no chime, either harmonious or dissonant, had answered and he heard only the noise of his
own making.
As he sat and inspected this cunning creation of some long-dead artist, he felt that even his solitude in the
lonely dragon-ship was preferable to this, for there he had no simulacrum of lif e to torment and tantalize
him. He remembered how his old white bearded godfather Merlin had amused him when he was very
small by causing a man-shaped mandrake root to leap and prance before him to make him laugh. He
smiled.
He knew the spell. Should he try it now? And then, like a whisper in his ear, the thought came to him that
there was no need of magic, either white or black.
Upon this ship he had but to command to be obeyed. There was nothing to suggest this idea; it was but a
random fancy. There was no one, no thing, to command; yet it set him thinking further.
On the back of the swan-ship, awaiting the stroke of the monster, he had not asked for help. He had
commanded it!
 Help me fight! he had ordered and the unknown benefactor had responded.
Smiling a grim, twisted smile at his own ridiculous folly, he looked straight at the beautiful statue and
muttered:
 Come here and talk to me if you can!
And with a tread that was feather light, the metal girl quitted her pedestal, advanced toward him and,
when two strides away, sank upon her knees with bowed head, murmuring in soft tones like a muted
golden bell:
 I am here! What does my lord require of his servant?
4  The Ship from Atlantis
To say that Gwalchmai was not surprised would be untrue, and he did recoil, as any other man might do,
but he replied readily and after the first start he felt no thrill of fear. She was too lovely to be anything but
kind and gracious, and the sweet voice, though metallic in timbre, charmed his senses.
 Tell me of yourself, he requested.  How did you come to be here and from what land? Are you the one
who blasted the monster? Are there others of your kind and will they be friends with me or must I fight?
Her expression did not change, nor did she move from her knees as she began to speak.
 When I was human and warm with life, my name was Corenice. With my father, Colrane, a star-seer, I
dwelt upon a mountaintop in the drowned land of Poseidonis. Is the name familiar to you? The Aztlanian
shook his head.  I feared it, she mourned.  Even the memory of my lost homeland has passed away and
I alone remember. Know this then, man: Poseidonis, an island continent, broad and powerful as it was in
my youth, was but the tiny remnant of a mightier land, Atlantis, which perished for its sins.
 Because the people were wicked, in each of their generations the Spirit of the Wave sank miles of
sea-coast, giving meadowland, farms, villages and cities to the finny people of the sea.
 Still they did not give up their sin, for they did not recognize it as sin, at that time, and the dry land
dwindled during the centuries.
 What was this wickedness? Gwalchmai asked^ curiously.
 Murder, the unforgivable sin! The wanton slaying of man by man the sin which men call war!
 Atlantis was the mistress of the world. Her colonies and tributary nations covered the globe. She had
won them and what she termed glory by the sword, and in the ,eyes of the Gods she was no more
than a loathsome sore, polluting even that which remained clean. Through the ages she was punished by
earthquake and fire, by volcanoes and the encroaching sea, until only Poseidonis remained.
 At last, though late, a new generation forswore the ways of war. They developed beyond the simple
worship of the visible and its symbols and came to adore the Spirit of the Wave. Immediately they began
to thrive. The sea took no more land. As they learned to live peacefully, waging no more wars,
demanding no more tribute, Ahuni-i, the Spirit of the Wave, took human shape and came to live among
men, in the form of a beautiful woman.
During this recital, she had not altered her expression or her position hi the slightest and her voice, though
melodious, came in a monotone. Gwalchmai interrupted.
 Will you not rise and be at ease? You should not kneel to me.
She did not move.  I cannot, hi this body, do aught else than obey a direct command. It was created to
serve and its actions were determined by the patterns built into it by the constructor. If it is your pleasure
that I rise, you must command me to do so, or give me the power of independent action, thus letting my
mind control this artificial body as it suits me.
 How can I do this?
 There is a stud between my shoulder blades. Turn it thrice to the right and I will be able to act at my
own volition.
The stud was not hard to find, for it was the only blemish on her exquisitely perfect back, but it was
difficult to turn, being circular and very smooth. Finally he managed the required number of turns and the
metal girl rose.
Now she was no longer a statue, but a person. She turned her face toward him and smiled. He found her
now far lovelier, being animated, than he had thought when she seemed to be only an image. Corenice
walked away a few steps and returned to him, a soft musical chiming accompanying all her movements,
as the metal parts of her body functioned in the manner for which they were intended.
He concluded that hi Atlantis great artists had once dwelt.
She took his hand and drew him down beside her, to sit at the edge of the fountain. Her hand seemed [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]