View Full Version : First Men in the Moon, The - Herbert George Wells

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06-01-2007, 11:49 PM
Chapter 6 - The Landing on the Moon

I REMEBER how one day Cavor suddenly opened six of our shutters and
blinded me so that I cried aloud at him. The whole area was moon, a
stupendous scimitar of white dawn with its edge hacked out by notches of
darkness, the crescent shore of an ebbing tide of darkness, out of which
peaks and pinnacles came glittering into the blaze of the sun. I take it
reader has seen pictures or photographs of the moon and that I need not
describe the broader features of that landscape, those spacious ringlike
ranges vaster than any terrestrial mountains, their summits shining in the
day, their shadows harsh and deep, the gray disordered plains, the ridges,
hills, and craterlets, all passing at last from a blazing illumination
into a common mystery of black. Athwart this world we were flying scarcely
a hundred miles above its crests and pinnacles. And now we could see, what
no eye on earth will ever see, that under the blaze of the day the harsh
outlines of the rocks and ravines of the plains and crater floor grew gray
and indistinct under a thickening haze, that the white of their lit
surfaces broke into lumps and patches, and broke again and shrank and
vanished, and that here and there strange tints of brown and olive grew
and spread.

But little time we had for watching then. For now we had come to the real
danger of our journey. We had to drop ever closer to the moon as we spun
about it, to slacken our pace and watch our chance, until at last we could
dare to drop upon its surface.

For Cavor that was a time of intense exertion; for me it was an anxious
inactivity. I seemed perpetually to be getting out of his way. He leapt
about the sphere from point to point with an agility that would have been
impossible on earth. He was perpetually opening and closing the Cavorite
windows, making calculations, consulting his chronometer by means of the
glow lamp during those last eventful hours. For a long time we had all our
windows closed and hung silently in darkness hurling through space.

Then he was feeling for the shutter studs, and suddenly four windows were
open. I staggered and covered my eyes, drenched and scorched and blinded
by the unaccustomed splendour of the sun beneath my feet. Then again the
shutters snapped, leaving my brain spinning in a darkness that pressed
against the eyes. And after that I floated in another vast, black silence.

Then Cavor switched on the electric light, and told me he proposed to bind
all our luggage together with the blankets about it, against the
concussion of our descent. We did this with our windows closed, because in
that way our goods arranged themselves naturally at the centre of the
sphere. That too was a strange business; we two men floating loose in that
spherical space, and packing and pulling ropes. Imagine it if you can! No
up nor down, and every effort resulting in unexpected movements. Now I
would be pressed against the glass with the full force of Cavor's thrust,
now I would be kicking helplessly in a void. Now the star of the electric
light would be overhead, now under foot. Now Cavor's feet would float up
before my eyes, and now we would be crossways to each other. But at last
our goods were safely bound together in a big soft bale, all except two
blankets with head holes that we were to wrap about ourselves.

Then for a flash Cavor opened a window moonward, and we saw that we were
dropping towards a huge central crater with a number of minor craters
grouped in a sort of cross about it. And then again Cavor flung our little
sphere open to the scorching, blinding sun. I think he was using the
sun's attraction as a brake. "Cover yourself with a blanket," he - cried,
thrusting himself from me, and for a moment I did not understand.

Then I hauled the blanket from beneath my feet and got it about me and
over my head and eyes. Abruptly he closed the shutters again, snapped one
open again and closed it, then suddenly began snapping them all open, each
safely into its steel roller. There came a jar, and then we were rolling
over and over, bumping against the glass and against the big bale of our
luggage, and clutching at each other, and outside some white substance
splashed as if we were rolling down a slope of snow....

Over, clutch, bump, clutch, bump, over....

Came a thud, and I was half buried under the bale of our possessions, and
for a space everything was still. Then I could hear Cavor puffing and
grunting, and the snapping of a shutter in its sash. I made an effort,
thrust back our blanket-wrapped luggage, and emerged from beneath it. Our
open windows were just visible as a deeper black set with stars.

We were still alive, and we were lying in the darkness of the shadow of
the wall of the great crater into which we had fallen.

We sat getting our breath again, and feeling the bruises on our limbs. I
don't think either of us had had a very clear expectation of such rough
handling as we had received. I struggled painfully to my feet. "And now,"
said I, "to look at the landscape of the moon But It's tremendously dark,

The glass was dewy, and as I spoke I wiped at it with my blanket. "We're
half an hour or so beyond the day," he said. "We must wait."

It was impossible to distinguish anything. We might have been in a sphere
of steel for all that we could see. My rubbing with the blanket simply
smeared the glass, and as fast as I wiped it, it became opaque again with
freshly condensed moisture mixed with an increasing quantity of blanket
hairs. Of course I ought not to have used the blanket. In my efforts to
clear the glass I slipped upon the damp surface, and hurt my shin against
one of the oxygen cylinders that protruded from our bale.

The thing was exasperating - it was absurd. Here we were just arrived upon
the moon, amidst we knew not what wonders, and all we could see was the
gray and streaming wall of the bubble in which we had come.

"Confound it!" I said, "but at this rate we might have stopped at home;"
and I squatted on the bale and shivered, and drew my blanket closer about

Abruptly the moisture turned to spangles and fronds of frost. "Can you
reach the electric heater," said Cavor. "Yes - that black knob. Or we
shall freeze."

I did not wait to be told twice. "And now," said I, what are we to do?"

"Wait," lie said.


"Of course. We shall have to wait until our air gets warm again, and then
this glass will clear. We can't do anything till then. It's night here
yet; we must wait for the day to overtake us. Meanwhile, don't you feel

For a space I did not answer him, but sat fretting. I turned reluctantly
from the smeared puzzle of the glass and stared at his face. " Yes,"I
said, "I am hungry. I feel somehow enormously disappointed. I had expected
- I don't know what I had expected, but not this."

I summoned my philosophy, and rearranging my blanket about me sat down on
the bale again and began my first meal on the moon. I don't think I
finished it - I forget. Presently, first in patches, then running rapidly
together into wider spaces, came the clearing of the glass, came the
drawing of the misty veil that hid the moon world from our eyes.

We peered out upon the landscape of the moon.