Dip the pen of a Frank Belknap Long into a bottle of ink and the result
is always bound to be a scintillating piece of brilliant imaginative
science fiction. And he's done it again in the tortured story of Sally.
by ... Frank Belknap Long
Sally watched the molten gold glow in the sky. Then knew she
would not see her son and her husband ever again on Earth.
Sally Anders had never really
thought of herself as a wallflower.
A girl could be shy, couldn't she,
and still be pretty enough to attract
and hold men?
Only this morning she had
drawn an admiring look from the
milkman and a wolf cry from
Jimmy on the corner, with his
newspapers and shiny new bike.
What if the milkman was crowding
sixty and wore thick-lensed
glasses? What if Jimmy was only
A male was a male, and a
glance was a glance. Why, if I
just primp a little more, Sally told
herself, I'll be irresistible.
Hair ribbons and perfume, a
mirror tilted at just the right
angle, an invitation to a party on
the dresser—what more did a girl
"Dinner, Sally!" came echoing
up from the kitchen. "Do you
want to be late, child?"
Sally had no intention of being
late. Tonight she'd see him across
a crowded room and her heart
would skip a beat. He'd look at
her and smile, and come straight
toward her with his shoulders
There was always one night in
a girl's life that stands above all
other nights. One night when the
moon shone bright and clear and
the clock on the wall went tick
tock, tick tock, tick tock. One
night when each tick said, "You're
beautiful! Really beautiful!"
Giving her hair a final pat Sally
smiled at herself in the mirror.
In the bathroom the water was
still running and the perfumed
bath soap still spread its aromatic
sweet odor through the room.
Sally went into the bathroom and
turned off the tap before going
downstairs to the kitchen.
"My girl looks radiant tonight!"
Uncle Ben said, smiling at her
over his corned beef and cabbage.
Sally blushed and lowered her
"Ben, you're making her nervous,"
Sally's mother said, laughing.
Sally looked up and met her
uncle's stare, her eyes defiant.
"I'm not bad-looking whatever
you may think," she said.
"Oh, now, Sally," Uncle Ben
protested. "No sense in getting on
a high horse. Tonight you may
find a man who just won't be able
to resist you."
"Maybe I will and maybe I
won't," Sally said. "You'd be surprised
if I did, wouldn't you?"
It was Uncle Ben's turn to lower
"I'll tell the world you've inherited
your mother's looks,
Sally," he said. "But a man has to
pride himself on something. My
defects of character are pretty
bad. But no one has ever accused
me of dishonesty."
Sally folded her napkin and
rose stiffly from the table.
"Good night, Uncle," she said.
When Sally arrived at the party
every foot of floor space was taken
up by dancing couples and the
reception room was so crowded
that, as each new guest was announced,
a little ripple of displeasure
went through the men in
midnight blue and the women in
Nile green and lavender.
For a moment Sally did not
move, just stood staring at the
dancing couples, half-hidden by
one of the potted palms that
framed the sides of the long room.
Moonlight silvered her hair and
touched her white throat and arms
with a caress so gentle that simply
by closing her eyes she could
fancy herself already in his arms.
Moonlight from tall windows
flooding down, turning the dancing
guests into pirouetting ghosts
in diaphanous blue and green,
scarlet and gold.
Close your eyes, Sally, close
them tight! Now open them!
That's it ... Slowly, slowly ...
He came out of nothingness
into the light and was right beside
He was tall, but not too tall.
His face was tanned mahogany
brown, and his eyes were clear
and very bright. And he stood
there looking at her steadily until
her mouth opened and a little
gasp flew out.
He took her into his arms without
a word and they started to
They were still dancing when
he asked her to be his wife.
"You'll marry me, of course,"
he said. "We haven't too much
time. The years go by so swiftly,
like great white birds at sea."
They were very close when he
asked her, but he made no attempt
to kiss her. They went right on
dancing and while he waited for
her answer he talked about the
"When the lights go out and
the music stops the moon will remain,"
he said. "It raises tides on
the Earth, it inflames the minds
and hearts of men. There are
cyclic rhythms which would set a
stone to dreaming and desiring on
such a night as this."
He stopped dancing abruptly
and looked at her with calm assurance.
"You will marry me, won't
you?" he asked. "Allowing for a
reasonable margin of error I
seriously doubt if I could be happy
with any of these other women. I
was attracted to you the instant
I saw you."
A girl who has never been
asked before, who has drawn only
one lone wolf cry from a newsboy
could hardly be expected to resist
such an offer.
Don't resist, Sally. He's strong
and tall and extremely good-looking.
He knows what he wants and
makes up his mind quickly. Surely
a man so resolute must make
enough money to support a wife.
"Yes," Sally breathed, snuggling
close to him. "Oh, yes!"
She paused a moment, then
said, "You may kiss me now if
you wish, my darling."
He straightened and frowned a
little, and looked away quickly.
"That can wait," he said.
They were married a week
later and went to live on an elm-shaded
street just five blocks from
where Sally was born. The cottage
was small, white and attractively
decorated inside and out.
But Sally changed the curtains, as
all women must, and bought
some new furniture on the installment
The neighbors were friendly
folk who knew her husband as
Mr. James Rand, an energetic
young insurance broker who
would certainly carve a wider
swath for himself in his chosen
profession now that he had so
charming a wife.
Ten months later the first baby
Lying beneath cool white sheets
in the hospital Sally looked at
the other women and felt so deliriously
happy she wanted to cry.
It was a beautiful baby and it
cuddled close to her heart, its
smallness a miracle in itself.
The other husbands came in
and sat beside their wives, holding
on tight to their happiness. There
were flowers and smiles, whispers
that explored bright new worlds
of tenderness and rejoicing.
Out in the corridor the husbands
congratulated one another
and came in smelling of cigar
"Have a cigar! That's right.
Eight pounds at birth. That's unusual,
isn't it? Brightest kid you
ever saw. Knew his old man
He was beside her suddenly,
standing straight and still in
"Oh, darling," she whispered.
"Why did you wait? It's been three
"Three days?" he asked, leaning forward
to stare down at his
son. "Really! It didn't seem that
"Where were you? You didn't
"Sometimes it's difficult to
phone," he said slowly, as if
measuring his words. "You have
given me a son. That pleases me
A coldness touched her heart
and a despair took hold of her.
"It pleases you! Is that all you can
say? You stand there looking at
me as if I were a—a patient ..."
"A patient?" His expression
grew quizzical. "Just what do you
"You said you were pleased.
If a patient is ill her doctor hopes
that she will get well. He is
pleased when she does. If a
woman has a baby a doctor will
say, 'I'm so pleased. The baby is
doing fine. You don't have to
worry about him. I've put him on
the scales and he's a bouncing,
"Medicine is a sane and wise
profession," Sally's husband said.
"When I look at my son that is
exactly what I would say to the
mother of my son. He is healthy
and strong. You have pleased me,
He bent as he spoke and picked
Sally's son up. He held the infant
in the crook of his arm, smiling
down at it.
"A healthy male child," he said.
"His hair will come in thick and
black. Soon he will speak, will
know that I am his father."
He ran his palm over the baby's
smooth head, opened its mouth
gently with his forefinger and
Sally rose on one elbow, her
tormented eyes searching his face.
"He's your child, your son!"
she sobbed. "A woman has a
child and her husband comes and
puts his arms around her. He
holds her close. If they love each
other they are so happy, so very
happy, they break down and cry."
"I am too pleased to do anything
so fantastic, Sally," he said.
"When a child is born no tears
should be shed by its parents. I
have examined the child and I
am pleased with it. Does not that
"No, it doesn't!" Sally almost
shrieked. "Why do you stare at
your own son as if you'd never
seen a baby before? He isn't a
mechanical toy. He's our own
darling, adorable little baby. Our
child! How can you be so inhumanly
He frowned, put the baby
"There is a time for love-making
and a time for parenthood,"
he said. "Parenthood is a serious
responsibility. That is where
medicine comes in, surgery. If a
child is not perfect there are
emergency measures which can be
taken to correct the defect."
Sally's mouth went suddenly
dry. "Perfect! What do you mean,
Jim? Is there something wrong
"I don't think so," her husband
said. "His grasp is firm and strong.
He has good hearing and his eyesight
appears to be all that could
be desired. Did you notice how
his eyes followed me every moment?"
"I wasn't looking at his eyes!"
Sally whispered, her voice tight
with alarm. "Why are you trying
to frighten me, Jim? If Tommy
wasn't a normal, healthy baby do
you imagine for one instant they
would have placed him in my
"That is a very sound observation,"
Sally's husband said.
"Truth is truth, but to alarm you
at a time like this would be unnecessarily
"Where does that put you?"
"I simply spoke my mind as the
child's father. I had to speak as
I did because of my natural concern
for the health of our child.
Do you want me to stay and talk
to you, Sally?"
Sally shook her head. "No,
Jim. I won't let you torture me
Sally drew the baby into her
arms again and held it tightly.
"I'll scream if you stay!" she
warned. "I'll become hysterical
unless you leave."
"Very well," her husband said.
"I'll come back tomorrow."
He bent as he spoke and kissed
her on the forehead. His lips were
For eight years Sally sat across
the table from her husband at
breakfast, her eyes fixed upon a
nothingness on the green-blue wall
at his back. Calm he remained
even while eating. The eggs she
placed before him he cracked
methodically with a knife and
consumed behind a tilted newspaper,
taking now an assured sip
of coffee, now a measured glance
at the clock.
The presence of his young son
bothered him not at all. Tommy
could be quiet or noisy, in trouble
at school, or with an A for good
conduct tucked with his report
card in his soiled leather zipper
jacket. It was always: "Eat slowly,
my son. Never gulp your food.
Be sure to take plenty of exercise
today. Stay in the sun as much
Often Sally wanted to shriek:
"Be a father to him! A real father!
Get down on the floor and play
with him. Shoot marbles with
him, spin one of his tops. Remember
the toy locomotive you
gave him for Christmas after I got
hysterical and screamed at you?
Remember the beautiful little
train? Get it out of the closet and
wreck it accidentally. He'll warm
up to you then. He'll be broken-hearted,
but he'll feel close to you,
then you'll know what it means to
have a son!"
Often Sally wanted to fly at
him, beat with her fists on his
chest. But she never did.
You can't warm a stone by
slapping it, Sally. You'd only
bruise yourself. A stone is neither
cruel nor tender. You've married
a man of stone, Sally.
He hasn't missed a day at the
office in eight years. She'd never
visited the office but he was always
there to answer when she phoned.
"I'm very busy, Sally. What did
you say? You've bought a new
hat? I'm sure it will look well on
you, Sally. What did you say?
Tommy got into a fight with a new
boy in the neighborhood? You
must take better care of him,
There are patterns in every
marriage. When once the mold
has set, a few strange behavior
patterns must be accepted as a
matter of course.
"I'll drop in at the office tomorrow,
darling!" Sally had
promised right after the breakfast
pattern had become firmly established.
The desire to see where
her husband worked had been
from the start a strong, bright
flame in her. But he asked her to
wait a while before visiting his
A strong will can dampen the
brightest flame, and when months
passed and he kept saying 'no,'
Sally found herself agreeing with
her husband's suggestion that the
visit be put off indefinitely.
Snuff a candle and it stays
snuffed. A marriage pattern once
established requires a very special
kind of re-kindling. Sally's husband
refused to supply the needed
Whenever Sally had an impulse
to turn her steps in the direction
of the office a voice deep in her
mind seemed to whisper: "No
sense in it, Sally. Stay away. He's
been mean and spiteful about it
all these years. Don't give in to
him now by going."
Besides, Tommy took up so
much of her time. A growing boy
was always a problem and Tommy
seemed to have a special gift for
getting into things because he was
so active. And he went through
his clothes, wore out his shoes
almost faster than she could replace
Right now Tommy was playing
in the yard. Sally's eyes came to
a focus upon him, crouching by a
hole in the fence which kindly old
Mrs. Wallingford had erected as a
protection against the prying inquisitiveness
of an eight-year-old
determined to make life miserable
A thrice-widowed neighbor of
seventy without a spiteful hair in
her head could put up with a boy
who rollicked and yelled perhaps.
But peep-hole spying was another
Sally muttered: "Enough of
that!" and started for the kitchen
door. Just as she reached it the
Sally went quickly to the phone
and lifted the receiver. The instant
she pressed it to her ear she
recognized her husband's voice—or
thought she did.
"Sally, come to the office!"
came the voice, speaking in a
hoarse whisper. "Hurry—or it will
be too late! Hurry, Sally!"
Sally turned with a startled
gasp, looked out through the
kitchen window at the autumn
leaves blowing crisp and dry
across the lawn. As she looked
the scattered leaves whirled into
a flurry around Tommy, then
lifted and went spinning over the
fence and out of sight.
The dread in her heart gave
way to a sudden, bleak despair.
As she turned from the phone
something within her withered,
became as dead as the drifting
leaves with their dark autumnal
She did not even pause to call
Tommy in from the yard. She
rushed upstairs, then down again,
gathering up her hat, gloves and
purse, making sure she had
enough change to pay for the taxi.
The ride to the office was a
nightmare ... Tall buildings swept
past, facades of granite as gray
as the leaden skies of mid-winter,
beehives of commerce where men
and women brushed shoulders
without touching hands.
Autumnal leaves blowing, and
the gray buildings sweeping past.
Despite Tommy, despite everything
there was no shining vision
to warm Sally from within. A cottage
must be lived in to become a
home and Sally had never really
had a home.
One-night stand! It wasn't an
expression she'd have used by
choice, but it came unbidden into
her mind. If you live for nine
years with a man who can't relax
and be human, who can't be warm
and loving you'll begin eventually
to feel you might as well live
alone. Each day had been like a
lonely sentinel outpost in a desert
waste for Sally.
She thought about Tommy ...
Tommy wasn't in the least like his
father when he came racing home
from school, hair tousled, books
dangling from a strap. Tommy
would raid the pantry with unthinking
zest, invite other boys in
to look at the Westerns on TV,
and trade black eyes for marbles
with a healthy pugnacity.
Up to a point Tommy was
normal, was healthy.
But she had seen mirrored in
Tommy's pale blue eyes the same
abnormal calmness that was always
in his father's, and the look
of derisive withdrawal which made
him seem always to be staring
down at her from a height. And
it filled her with terror to see that
Tommy's mood could change as
abruptly and terrifyingly cold ...
Tommy, her son. Tommy, no
longer boisterous and eager, but
sitting in a corner with his legs
drawn up, a faraway look in his
eyes. Tommy seeming to look
right through her, into space.
Tommy and Jim exchanging silent
understanding glances. Tommy
roaming through the cottage, staring
at his toys with frowning disapproval.
Tommy drawing back
when she tried to touch him.
Tommy, Tommy, come back to
me! How often she had cried out
in her heart when that coldness
came between them.
Tommy drawing strange figures
on the floor with a piece of colored
chalk, then erasing them quickly
before she could see them, refusing
to let her enter his secret
Tommy picking up the cat and
stroking its fur mechanically, while
he stared out through the kitchen
window at rusty blackbirds on
the wing ...
"This is the address you gave
me, lady. Sixty-seven Vine
Street," the cab driver was saying.
Sally shivered, remembering
her husband's voice on the phone,
remembering where she was ...
"Come to the office, Sally! Hurry,
hurry—or it will be too late!"
Too late for what? Too late to
recapture a happiness she had
"This is it, lady!" the cab driver
insisted. "Do you want me to
"No," Sally said, fumbling for
her change purse. She descended
from the taxi, paid the driver and
hurried across the pavement to the
big office building with its mirroring
frontage of plate glass and
black onyx tiles.
The firm's name was on the
directory board in the lobby, white
on black in beautifully embossed
lettering. White for hope, and
black for despair, mourning ...
The elevator opened and closed
and Sally was whisked up eight
stories behind a man in a checkered
"Eighth floor!" Sally whispered,
in sudden alarm. The elevator
jolted to an abrupt halt and the
operator swung about to glare at
"You should have told me
when you got on, Miss!" he complained.
"Sorry," Sally muttered, stumbling
out into the corridor. How
horrible it must be to go to business
every day, she thought wildly.
To sit in an office, to thumb
through papers, to bark orders, to
be a machine.
Sally stood very still for an
instant, startled, feeling her sanity
threatened by the very absurdity
of the thought. People who
worked in offices could turn for
escape to a cottage in the sunset's
glow, when they were set free by
the moving hands of a clock.
There could be a fierce joy at the
thought of deliverance, at the
prospect of going home at five
But for Sally was the brightness,
the deliverance withheld.
The corridor was wide and deserted
and the black tiles with
their gold borders seemed to converge
upon her, hemming her
into a cool magnificence as structurally
somber as the architectural
embellishments of a costly mausoleum.
She found the office with her
surface mind, working at cross-purposes
with the confusion and
swiftly mounting dread which
made her footsteps falter, her
mouth go dry.
Steady, Sally! Here's the office,
here's the door. Turn the knob
and get it over with ...
Sally opened the door and
stepped into a small, deserted reception
room. Beyond the reception
desk was a gate, and beyond
the gate a large central office
branched off into several smaller
Sally paused only an instant.
It seemed quite natural to her that
a business office should be deserted
so late in the afternoon.
She crossed the reception room
to the gate, passed through it,
utter desperation giving her
Something within her whispered
that she had only to walk across
the central office, open the first
door she came to to find her
The first door combined privacy
with easy accessibility. The instant
she opened the door she
knew that she had been right to
trust her instincts. This was his
He was sitting at a desk by the
window, a patch of sunset sky
visible over his right shoulder. His
elbows rested on the desk and his
hands were tightly locked as if he
had just stopped wringing them.
He was looking straight at her,
his eyes wide and staring.
"Jim!" Sally breathed. "Jim,
He did not answer, did not
move or attempt to greet her in
any way. There was no color at
all in his face. His lips were
parted, his white teeth gleamed.
And he was more stiffly controlled
than usual—a control so intense
that for once Sally felt more alarm
There was a rising terror in her
now. And a slowly dawning horror.
The sunlight streamed in,
gleaming redly on his hair, his
shoulders. He seemed to be the
center of a flaming red ball ...
He sent for you, Sally. Why
doesn't he get up and speak to
you, if only to pour salt on the
wounds you've borne for eight
Poor Sally! You wanted a
strong, protective, old-fashioned
husband. What have you got instead?
Sally went up to the desk and
looked steadily into eyes so calm
and blank that they seemed like
the eyes of a child lost in some
dreamy wonderland barred forever
to adult understanding.
For an instant her terror ebbed
and she felt almost reassured.
Then she made the mistake of
bending more closely above him,
brushing his right elbow with her
That single light woman's
touch unsettled him. He started
to fall, sideways and very fast.
Topple a dead weight and it
crashes with a swiftness no opposing
force can counter-balance.
It did Sally no good to clutch
frantically at his arm as he fell,
to tug and jerk at the slackening
folds of his suit. The heaviness of
his descending bulk dragged him
down and away from her, the
awful inertia of lifeless flesh.
He thudded to the floor and
rolled over on his back, seeming
to shrink as Sally widened her
eyes upon him. He lay in a grotesque
sprawl at her feet, his jaw
hanging open on the gaping black
orifice of his mouth ...
Sally might have screamed and
gone right on screaming—if she
had been a different kind of
woman. On seeing her husband
lying dead her impulse might have
been to throw herself down beside
him, give way to her grief in a
wild fit of sobbing.
But where there was no grief
there could be no sobbing ...
One thing only she did before
she left. She unloosed the collar
of the unmoving form on the floor
and looked for the small brown
mole she did not really expect to
find. The mole she knew to be on
her husband's shoulder, high up
on the left side.
She had noticed things that
made her doubt her sanity; she
needed to see the little black mole
to reassure her ...
She had noticed the difference
in the hair-line, the strange slant
of the eyebrows, the crinkly texture
of the skin where it should
have been smooth ...
Something was wrong ... horribly,
weirdly wrong ...
Even the hands of the sprawled
form seemed larger and hairier
than the hands of her husband.
Nevertheless it was important to
be sure ...
The absence of the mole
Sally crouched beside the body,
carefully readjusting the collar.
Then she got up and walked out
of the office.
Some homecomings are joyful,
others cruel. Sitting in the taxi,
clenching and unclenching her
hands, Sally had no plan that
could be called a plan, no hope
that was more than a dim flickering
in a vast wasteland, bleak
But it was strange how one light
burning brightly in a cottage window
could make even a wasteland
seem small, could shrink and
diminish it until it became no
more than a patch of darkness
that anyone with courage might
The light was in Tommy's room
and there was a whispering behind
the door. Sally could hear
the whispering as she tiptoed upstairs,
could see the light streaming
out into the hall.
She paused for an instant at the
head of the stairs, listening. There
were two voices in the room, and
they were talking back and forth.
Sally tiptoed down the hall,
stood with wildly beating heart
just outside the door.
"She knows now, Tommy," the
deepest of the two voices said.
"We are very close, your mother
and I. She knows now that I sent
her to the office to find my 'stand
in.' Oh, it's an amusing term,
Tommy—an Earth term we'd
hardly use on Mars. But it's a
term your mother would understand."
A pause, then the voice went
on, "You see, my son, it has taken
me eight years to repair the ship.
And in eight years a man can
wither up and die by inches if he
does not have a growing son to go
adventuring with him in the end."
"You have read a good many
Earth books, my son, written
especially for boys. Treasure
Island, Robinson Crusoe, Twenty
Thousand Leagues Under The
Sea. What paltry books they are!
But in them there is a little of the
fire, a little of the glow of our
"No, father. I started them but
I threw them away for I did not
"As you and I must throw
away all Earth things, my son. I
tried to be kind to your mother,
to be a good husband as husbands
go on Earth. But how could I
feel proud and strong and reckless
by her side? How could I share
her paltry joys and sorrows, chirp
with delight as a sparrow might
chirp hopping about in the grass?
Can an eagle pretend to be a
sparrow? Can the thunder muffle
its voice when two white-crested
clouds collide in the shining depths
of the night sky?"
"You tried, father. You did
"Yes, my son, I did try. But
if I had attempted to feign emotions
I did not feel your mother
would have seen through the pretense.
She would then have turned
from me completely. Without her
I could not have had you, my
"And now, father, what will
"Now the ship has been repaired
and is waiting for us. Every
day for eight years I went to the
hill and worked on the ship. It
was badly wrecked, my son, but
now my patience has been rewarded,
and every damaged astronavigation
instrument has been
"You never went to the office,
father? You never went at all?"
"No, my son. My stand-in
worked at the office in my place.
I instilled in your mother's mind
an intense dislike and fear of the
office to keep her from ever coming
face to face with the stand-in.
She might have noticed the difference.
But I had to have a
stand-in, as a safeguard. Your
mother might have gone to the
office despite the mental block."
"She's gone now, father. Why
did you send for her?"
"To avoid what she would call
a scene, my son. That I could not
endure. I had the stand-in summon
her on the office telephone,
then I withdrew all vitality from
it. She will find it quite lifeless.
But it does not matter now. When
she returns we will be gone."
"Was constructing the stand-in
"Not for me, my son. On Mars
we have many androids, each constructed
to perform a specific
task. Some are ingenious beyond
belief—or would seem so to
There was a pause, then the
weaker of the two voices said, "I
will miss my mother. She tried to
make me happy. She tried very
"You must be brave and strong,
my son. We are eagles, you and I.
Your mother is a sparrow, gentle
and dun-colored. I shall always
remember her with tenderness.
You want to go with me, don't
"Yes, father. Oh, yes!"
"Then come, my son. We must
hurry. Your mother will be returning
any minute now."
Sally stood motionless, listening
to the voices like a spectator
sitting before a television screen.
A spectator can see as well as
hear, and Sally could visualize
her son's pale, eager face so clearly
there was no need for her to
move forward into the room.
She could not move. And nothing
on Earth could have wrenched
a tortured cry from her. Grief and
shock may paralyze the mind and
will, but Sally's will was not
It was as if the thread of her
life had been cut, with only one
light left burning. Tommy was
that light. He would never change.
He would go from her forever.
But he would always be her son.
The door of Tommy's room
opened and Tommy and his father
came out into the hall. Sally
stepped back into shadows and
watched them walk quickly down
the hall to the stairs, their voices
low, hushed. She heard them
descend the stairs, their footsteps
dwindle, die away into silence ...
You'll see a light, Sally, a great
glow lighting up the sky. The ship
must be very beautiful. For eight
years he labored over it, restoring
it with all the shining gifts of skill
and feeling at his command. He
was calm toward you, but not toward
the ship, Sally—the ship
which will take him back to Mars!
How is it on Mars, she wondered.
My son, Tommy, will become
a strong, proud adventurer
daring the farthest planet of the
You can't stop a boy from adventuring.
Surprise him at his
books and you'll see tropical seas
in his eyes, a pearly nautilus,
Hong Kong and Valparaiso resplendent
in the dawn.
There is no strength quite like
the strength of a mother, Sally.
Endure it, be brave ...
Sally was at the window when
it came. A dazzling burst of radiance,
starting from the horizon's
rim and spreading across the
entire sky. It lit up the cottage
and flickered over the lawn, turning
rooftops to molten gold and
gilding the long line of rolling
hills which hemmed in the town.
Brighter it grew and brighter,
gilding for a moment even Sally's
bowed head and her image mirrored
on the pane. Then, abruptly,
it was gone ...
This etext was produced from Fantastic Universe May 1954.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
typographical errors have been corrected without note.