Besides keeping a sharp eye out himself from the flying bridge, Randolph St. Cosmo had also posted lookouts forward and aft with the most powerful binoculars on the ship.
Having just missed intercepting the Expedition steamer at Isafjörõr the boys turned north again, continuing their pursuit yet somehow at each step just missing the vessel, now owing to a contrary wind, now an erroneous report over the wireless or a delay in port because of the late return of some crew member who proved to be spectral at best, the "extra man" of Arctic myth.
The Étienne-Louis Malus was named for the Napoleonic army engineer and physicist who, late in 1808, looking though a piece of Iceland Spar at the sunset reflected from a window of the Luxembourg Palace, discovered polarized light.
Built only a few years before, in clapboard siding of a vivid cream color, roofed in gray shakes shade or two lighter than the outcroppings and stone walls that surrounded it, the Hotel Borealis, where the Expedition had set up headquarters, presented at one corner a curious sort of open turret, whose slender white columns supported semicircular balconies on the first and second floors, and above them held up a conical roof, almost a steeple, with a high finial that carried a weather vane and some wireless antennas as well.
The Transnoctial Discussion Group met in one of the lounges in the basement of the hotel, located well out of the earshot of other guests who might have wished, for example, to sleep.
The sun came up a baleful smear in the sky, not quite shapeless, in fact able to assume the appearance of a device immediately recognizable yet unnamable, so widely familiar that the inability to name it passed from simple frustration to a felt dread, whose intricacy deepened almost moment to moment ... its name a word of power, not to be spoken aloud, not even to be remembered in silence.
About mid-morning, Constance went to the ridgetop looked down the long declivity, down the shorn hills, and saw that the miniature ship that had once lain waiting here, securred only by the lightest of kedgework to the Harbor bed, seeming sometimes to tremble with its desire to be away, had gone at last, bound for seas more emerald, aromatic winds, hammocks out on deck.
From the Journals of Mr. Fleetwood Vibe-
At the Explorers' Club today, the less fashionable one, seeking refuge from the pestilential rains of the District, everyone mingling in the anterooms, waiting for the liveried Pygmies bearing their Chinese bronze dinner gongs to announce the famed Gratuitous Midday Repast.
Leaving the Arctic wastes, Inconvenience pressed southward, using as much fuel as they dared, jettisoning all the weight they could afford to, in a desperate attempt to resch the city before the steamer Étienne-Louis Malus.
Kit didn't get to meet his benefactor until the weekend of the Yale-Harvard game, on a clouded and windless late-November day, in a side room of the Taft Hotel.
Kit had wandered down to the stables, where he was presently joined by Dittany Vibe, her eyes sparkling from beneath the brim of an all-but-irresistible hat.
R. Wilshire Vibe had not endeared himself to his nephew with his current "show" African Antics, featuring the catchy
He was only faintly visible in the dark, at a window on the haunted floor of the house, almost a fixture in the room from some previous era, there for some outdated domestic purpose.
Taking quick looks behind him on the trail, Lew Bsnight was apt to see things weren't necessarily there.
Lew left the little rough-milled shed of a printer's office and headed back down the valley.
Next time Lew got up into the embattled altitudes of the San Juans, he noticed out on the trail that besides the usual strikebreaking vigilantes there were now cavalry units of the Colorado National Guard, in uniform, out ranging the slopes and creeksides.
Back in Denver again, Lew returned late to his room, discovering from all the way down the hall that the day wasn't close to being over yet, for though the transom came drifting the scent of a burning leaf that stirred in him, as always, mixed feelings.
Back in Chicago, Nate, in his own paper homeland again, kept wasting Agency money rattling off one telegram fter another.
By nightfall they were among old Anasazi ruins up west of Dolores Valley someplace.
By the end, Webb Traverse had worked his way up to shift boss at the Little Hellkite workings.
Mayva knew she'd been there.
If it was love, it was less than two-way.
"You've done these before, Mr. Kindred?"
Deuce's sidekick, Sloat Fresno, was about twice his size and thought that Deuce was his sidekick.
The company inspector said, "You've been high-grading, Webb."
It was to be a trail of pain, Deuce trying to draw it out, Sloat, closer to tealities of pain, trying to move it along.
As they were passing through Cortez, the notorious local gunhand Jimmy Dropp happened to be out of the Four Corners Saloon pissing in the alley, when next thing he knew, there were Deuce and Sloat with Webb slung over a packhorse between them, on the way out of town.
To help him through mine school, Frank had borrowed some mondey from his brother Reef, who in those days was known for promoting quick cash from the air.
The depot at Nochecita had smooth stuccoed apricot walls, trimmed in a somehow luminous shade of gray-around the railhead and its freight sheds and electrical and machine shops, the town had grown, houses and businesses painted vermilion, sage, and fawn, and towering at the end of the main street, a giant sporting establishment whose turquoise and crimson electric lamps were kept lit all night and daytime, too, for the place never closed.
Stray, as it turned out, was real pregnant.
In the middle of the night, the schoolteacher next door was out on the second-floor veranda prepairing meals for the next day.
Telling Stray, that was another story.
The girls were sorry to see them go, or said they were but Cooper? you would have thought it was the end of the world.
It was well up into Utah.
At night from up in the hills, the first glimpse of Jeshimon was like a religious painting of hell used to scare kids with in Sunday school.
During the ride back up to Telluride, among tablelands and cañons and red-rock debris, past the stone farmhouses and fruit orchards and Mormon spreads of the St. Elmo, below ruins haunted by an ancient people whose name noone knew, circular towers and cliffside towns abandoned centuries ago for reasons no one would speak of, Reef was able finally to thing it through.
They stood huddled together in Lone Tree Cemetery, the miners' graveyard at the end of town, Mayva, Lake, Frank and Reef, beneath the great peaks and behind them the long, descending trace of Bridal Veil Falls whispering raggedly into the cold sunlight.
Back at the grimly daylit parlor of the house, "Here," Mayva said to Reef.
Back in Nochecita, back from burying Webb at Telluride, blowing up a few company outbuildings on the way back just for drill, equipment sheds reduced to sawdust, electric power junctions that filled the skies with great disaster, Reef found Stray in a particular serene state.
"Home at last!" cried Neville, "home from innocent, all but oppressively wholesome America!"
As if innocence were some sort of humorous disease, transmitted, as in a stage farce, from one character to another, Lew soon found himself wondering if he had it, and if so who he'd caught it from.
At first a greenhorn as to the true nature of the work, Lew depended on traditional readings of the Tarot deck, which in London in those days were pretty much referred to the designs provided by Miss Pamela ("Pixie") Colman Smith under the guidance of Mr. Waite.
As autumn deepened, Lew could be noticed hurrying from place to place, as if increasingly claimed by a higher argument-tensely vertical, favoring narrow black ovvercoats, slouch hats, and serviceable boots, a trimmed black moustache settled in along his upper lip.
It was decided that Lew should go up to Cambridge with the Cohen to meet Professor Renfrew.
It was raining when Lew arrived in Cambridge.
"Enjoyable visit?" the Cohen inquired a little too offhandedly, as if a practical joke were to unfold.
Across the city noontide a field of bells emerged into flower, as the boys came swooping on over Murano, above wide-topped, red-clay chimneus the size of smokestacks, known as fumaioli, according to the local pilot, Zanni.
"First," advised their cicerone in the matter, Professor Svegli of the University of Pisa, "try to forget the usual picture in two dimensions.
One day Miles Blundell, off on one of his accustomed fugues through Venice, pauzing to gaze at ruined frescoes as if they were maps in which the parts worn away by time were the oceans, or to contemplate some expanse of Istrian stone and read in its naturally cursive markings some commentaries on a forbidden coastline, stepped across in what later inquiry would suggest was the prophetic vision of St. Mar, but in reverse.
Around dawn, as if it had just occurred to her, "But-aren't you supposed to be with your unit?"
The Inconvenience was in a remote part of the Arsenale, out of dry-dock at last, shining ans shipshape and somehow increased in size.
Pedestrians below were moving at their accustomed gaits, sitting at the tables in front of Florian and Quadri, if Francophile raising toasts to Bastille Day, feeding, photographing, or cursing the pigeons, who, aware of some baleful anomaly in their sky, stuttered wildly into the air, then, reconsidering, settled, only to sweep a moment later heavenward again, as if on the strength of a rumor.
Deuce and Sloat were sharing quarters at Curly Dee's spread down the valley, where Curly and his woman ran a sort of road ranch for fugitives, ten-dayers, threats to society, and ssorted cases of moral idiocy-a squalid, undersize bangtogether sagging between its posts, whose roof might as well have been made of window-screen, for all the good it did in a storm.
What was it, exactly, that had started in to ringing so inside Lake, tolling, bone deep, invisible in the night ... was it the way his face that morning, even with the smoke in the room, had slowly emerged into clarity?
Later they glared at each other, up insomniac in the new-sawn wood and paint smells of the room they shared.
"This . . . is . . . disgusting," Sloat shaking his head, "I mean I'm fixing to lose my damn lunch in a minute."
The snows lengthened down the peaks, and soon the white-throated swift had taken wing, the shooting and headbreaking in town got worse, the military occupation began in November, and then deeper in the winter, in January, martial law was declared-the scabs came to work in relative peace, business was slow for a while in town but picked up, and Oleander Prudge made her debut as a nymph du pave, miners who thought who knew what was coming away bewildered, shaking their heads.
She was a virgin bride.
They woke up in the middle of the night.
Inside of a week of the wedding night, Deuce and Sloan thought they would go off on a short tour of the region.
For a while then, it settled into a three-party household of dubious coziness.
"She's all right," Deuce confessed to his partner, "for being such a pain in the ol'bunghole."
Well, it could have been the cactus that mysteriously exploded next to his head one day down in Cortez, or maybe the ace of spades that arrived in the mail soon after that, but at some point Deuce had to gently start breaking it to Lake that there just might be some people after him.
In any case it was all getting too complicated to last, and the day finally did come when Sloat rode off up the trail headed vaguely sout, the air unnaturally still that day, the dust he raised behind him refused to settle, only growing thicker, until it seemed he had transmogrified into a creature of dust miles long, crawling away, Deuce leaning on the fence watching the dusty departure for the better part of an hour, silent for days after ...
After Webb was buried, and Reef had gone his way, Frank, fearing for his own safety, had glided back down to Golden on winds of inertia, considered asking around to see if anybody was looking for him but thought he knew the answer to that one.
Having come west to search for Aztlán, the mythic ancestral home of the Mexican people, which she believed to be located somewhere around the Four Corners, Wren found more than he expected to.
One night they were on Seventeenth Street again.
After passengers for Telluride had changed at Ridgway Junction, the little stub train climbed up over Dallas Divide and rolled down again to Placerville and the final haul up the valley of the San Miguel, through sunset and into the uncertainties of night.
That evening at supper in the hotel, through the windows, he watched a troop of state Guardsmen on their way down Mainstreet heading down the valley west of town.
By the time he came creaking back to his rooms at the Sheridan, after stopping down in the bar for a steak whose volume he estimated to run above half a cubif foot, Frank had contracted a case of the rampaging Meldrumitis, having hear of little else all day.
At the Rodgers Brothers' livery stable next morning, more horseless riders than Frank had seen in one place outside of downtown Denver at lunchtime jostled after some advntage not clear to him right away, snarling at each other ominously and, wherever they could find room to, pacing about, puffing cigars old and new.
The "vacancy" at the Silver Orchid turned out to be a space between two walls, way in the back, reached through a valse fireplace.
"As a Mex, maybe," figured Ellmore Disco.
Tengo que get el fuck out of aquí, "Kit reckoned.
Kit dreamed he was with his father in a city that was Denver but not really Denver, in some kind of strange variety saloon full of the usual collection of lowlifes, though everybody was acting unnaturally well-behaved.
Not a word then from any of the Vibes about his father, not even from Colfax-no condolences, inquiries as to Kit's current state of mind, nothing like that.
They sat in a masonry transmitter "shack"designed by McKim, Mead and White, gradually getting used to being alive and on dry land again.
Next morning the boys hitched a ride on a market wagon heading in to New York.
In the bright light of day, the figures still looked sinister-not gargoyles, not that elaborate, but with something purposeful about the way in which, denying the whole structure, they strained outward from the façade, erect, clenched, trying to escape the conditions of human shelter, seeking the outside, the storm, all that freezes, roars, goes lampless in the dark.
On the train trip east, Dally kept pretty much to herself, there being nothing, as she quickly learned, quite like the rails these days for cowboy poets, who aling with confidence men, R-girls, and purse-thieves, could be encuontered on every train west of Chicago.
In New York at last she stood out of the traffic watching shadows of birds move across sunlit walls.
At this stage of his career, Con was just managing to come up every week with the rent on a failed dime museum he had purchased for a song, whose goudy sign in front redesignated in McVeety's Theater.
They took the sixth Avenue El downtown and got off at Bleecker Street.
The Zombini residence, which Dally recognized from her now-battered copy of Dishforth's Illustrated Weekly, was an extensive "French flat" in a recently-erected building on upper Broadway, which Luca had chosen for its resemblance to the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy and referred to as grattacielo, or skyscraper, rising as it did twelve high-ceilinged stores.
Dally had imagined once that if she ever found Erlys again, she'd just forget how to breathe or something.
The one time Mayva and Stray met, it was by pure accident, over in Durango.
It had never been Reef's intention to be part of any outlaw dynasty.
Yes, well Stray and him, they could talk about it. Some.
"You're back in a hurry."
Which was how Reef came to take on the guise of East Coast nerve case Thrapston Cheesely III, learning to look sicker than he was, to dress like a dude who couldn't sit a horse on a merry-go-round, sneaking into Denver to take dancing lessons from a certain Madame Aubergine, swearing her to secrecy under pain of an ancient Ute shaman's curse.
"We look at the world, at governments, across the spectrum, some with more freedom, some with less.
Everybody at the Deux Espèces was waiting for his own particular outlaw-friendly ship, of which there were several out on the sea-lanes at any given moment ... as if here had once been a joyous mythical time of American Anarchism, now facing its last days after the Anarchist Czolgosz had assassinated McKinley-everywhere it was run, Anarchist, run, the nation allowing itself to lapse into anotehr cycle of Red Scare delusion as it had done back in the '70s reaction to the Paris Commune.
The night before Wolfe sailed, he, Reef, and Flaco stood down by the river, drinking local beer out of bottles and watching the fall of night, "weightless as a widow's veil," observed the young Irishman, "and isn't it the curse of the drifter, this desolation of heart we feel each evening at sundown, with the slow loop of the river out there just for half a minute, catching the last light, pregnant with the city in all its density and wonder, the possibilities never to be counted, much less lived into, by the likes of us, don't you see, for we're only passing through, we're already ghosts."
Frank was to spend months that seemed like years traipsing to no purpose around an empty shadowmap, a dime novel of Old Mexcio, featuring gringo evildoers in exile, sudden deaths, a government that had already fallen but did not yet know it, a revolution that would never begin though thousands were already dying and suffering in its name.
So, iron on iron and headlong as fate, Frank and Ewball were borne into the Bajío on the eve of a turn in history.
Carrying dark-lanterns, they entered a smooth-walled, vaulted corridor.
"Ridin with anarchists now, got-damn never thought I'd be doin this..."
After a day and a half's journey, El Espinero led Frank to a long-abandoned silver working, high over the plain, where nopales grew and lizards lay in the sun.
"Hungry?" said El Espinero.
Frank knew that El Espinero's wife was neither mute nor shy, having heard a number of animated conversations in, he guessed, the Tarahumare language among the three of them, but she never spoke a word to Frank, only looked at him with great sympathy and directness, as if there was something so obvious he ought to be seeing, which she wanted to tell him about but for some reason, some imperative of the spirit, could not.
In New York for a few weeks of ground-leave, the boys had set up camp in Central Park.
"We'uh movin offa duh Gophiz's toif inta Hudson Dustuhs tevritawvry now ... leastways whut use ta be till dese damn bushwahs stawhdit slickin up da place," Plug informed the boys as their party made its way westward and south, in the fog, which had now grown general.
At Candlebrow U., the crew of the Inconvenience would find exactly the mixture of nostalgia and amnesia to provide them a reasonable counterfeit of the Timeless.
"You've been walking, unaware, among them since you arrived," Alonzo Meatman was saying.
Soon the crew began to find evidence of Trespass everywhere, some invisible narrative occupying, where it did not in fact, define, the passage of the day.