Ahead of him, behind some low hills, he could see a dull red glow. The ship, he thought. Astro may already be hovering over it, and so gloriously coloured and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light, but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some city, for it was not really a cave, but a vast underground city whose wide, marble streets stretched away to an inferno of flame and lava. By the terrible light was lit up a great white palace with its gold-tipped scrolls, and closer to me, the golden temple of the Sun, with its tiers of lustrous yellow stairs—stairs worn by the feet of many generations rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light.
Before he had gone far he observed that the landscape was growing more distinct—was brightening. Everything was suffused with a soft, red glow in which he saw his shadow projected in the road before him. Always the shadow was before—always the light behind, “a still and awful red.” Suddenly the wheel glowed red with a soundless explosion. Its flaming fragments died in the void. But it was not the wrecked cars from which rose such wails of despair and agony that held my attention, but the cavern itself. Something glowed in the semi-darkness ahead like a pile of hot ashes on the ground. Do you observe this red glow,—dusky, too, amid all the brightness? It is the token of his presence; and even now, methinks, it grows redder and duskier, like an angry sunset.
The red of the sky-glow suddenly faded to orange. Up through the roof of the casting room crashed a huge, glowing sphere then floated. But looking at the countess, as she bent forward to receive it, he fancied that the red glow of the gem tinged all her face, and gave it an ominous expression. Many passages of past times recurred to his memory. A preternatural insight, perchance caught from approaching death, threw its momentary gleam, as from a meteor, all round his position. All this while, its ominous tinge of dusky red had been deepening and darkening, until, if laid upon white paper, it cast the mingled hue of night and blood, strangely illuminated with scintillating light, in a circle round about. But this peculiarity only made it the more valuable.