IN WHAT CAVERN OF THE DEEP  by Robert F Young  Snow lay along the cliff top and more snow was slanting in over the Atlantic

IN WHAT CAVERN OF THE DEEP  by Robert F Young  Snow lay along the cliff top and more snow was slanting in over the Atlantic

IN WHAT CAVERN OF THE DEEP

by Robert F Young

Snow lay along the cliff top and more snow was slanting in over the

Atlantic, pitting the leaden waves that one by one were assailing the

narrow strip of beach at the cliff's base. The trees along the cliff

top were black, their leaves long torn away by November storms. The

cottage sat some distance back from the trees, bluish smoke rising

from the chimney and fleeing with the wind. In front of the cottage

and on the edge of the cliff was a small gun-emplacement, and beside

the emplacement, mackinaw collar raised against the slanting snow,

David Stuart stood.

And he, took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones

out of the brook and put them in a shepherd's bag . . . and his sling

was in his hand . . .

Many summers had fled the cliff and the cottage, many springs and

falls. Winter loved to lash the gentle grass that grew before the

door, to whip the trees that stood along the cliff top, to belabor

the little beach that lay below . . .

In the cottage, storm-bound they had lain, flesh against flesh and

breath to breath warding off the bitter cold. Winter had tried with

all its might to destroy the fortress that their love had built

around them and they had laughed in darkness, laughed in warmth,

knowing that the fortress would not fall.

But now the fortress was gone.

Snow stinging his face, David looked out to sea. He looked for gold -

the gold of a woman's hair. For golden tresses kelp-bed vast, for

shoal-shoulders surging with the sweep of cyclopean arms; for the

tempest-thrust of mast-long legs. There would be gulls and dolphins,

too, if the reports were correct - the gulls circling high above her

spume-crowned head, the dolphins romping all around her. Out of the

deep she would rise, as golden as the sun - comely as Jerusalem,

terrible as an army with banners - and then his huge horrendous sling

would speak, and she would be no more. . . .

How lovely was thy gentle forehead - how beautiful were thy feet with

shoes!

The wind took on an added sharpness and David turned his head to

shield his numbing cheeks. The cottage came into his line of vision,

and as he stood there gazing at the memoried winter-bower a girl came

out and started walking toward him through the day-before-Christmas

snow. A heavy

coat muffled the tall figure he knew so well; a woolen kerchief

restrained the dark brown hair that sometimes fell about him in the

night. The clear grayness of her eyes was forever taking him

unawares, and it did so now as she came up to him and said, "I

made some coffee, David. It's on the stove. Drink some and then lie

down."

He shook his head. "I'll have a cup, and come right back."

"No. You've been up all night. If she comes, I'll call you the

minute I see her. You'll have plenty of time to align the gun."

Awakened by the thought of sleep, his tiredness rose up and tried to

overcome him. He fought it back. "The wind is raw," he

said, "You should have brought a blanket to wrap around

you."

"I'll be all right."

He said, "I wonder if she's cold."

She said, "You know she can't be. That she's not human any more.

Go inside and sleep."

"All right - I'll try."

He hesitated, wanting, to kiss her. Somehow, he could not. "Call

me if she comes then. Call me anyway in three hours."

"I put some blankets on the sofa. It's warmer there. Now don't

worry - everything will be all right."

He left her side and walked across the snow-covered lawn. Victorious,

his tiredness climbed upon his shoulders. They sagged beneath the

crushing weight. He felt like an old man. Old before I am forty, he

thought. Old before I am even thirty-five.

This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite

thee...

It was warm in the cottage. Wood that he had split the day before

burned brightly in the fireplace, the reds and yellows of the flames

playing over the blanket covered sofa. David removed his mackinaw and

hung it on the rack beside the door. He hung his hat beside it and

kicked out of his galoshes. The warmth laid soothing fingers upon his

brow. But he knew that he could not sleep.

The aroma, of, fresh-brewed coffee came from the kitchen, and he went

out into the little room and poured a steaming cupful. All around

him, memories hovered: in plate and bowl and saucer, in pot and pan

and stove; in the color of the curtains, in the panels of the walls.

Honeymoon mornings she had made coffee, fried bacon; broken eggs into

a crackling pan. The table where they had breakfasted stood like a

shrine in the middle of the floor.  Abruptly, he turned and walked

away, leaving his coffee forgotten on the stove.

In the living room again, he sat down on the sofa and took off his

shoes. The heat of the fire reached out and touched his face. His

woolen shirt began to prickle, and he removed it and sat there in his

T-shirt and his trousers, staring at the flames. He could hear the

wind and her name was on its breath. Helen, it whispered again and

again. Helen!...  Far out to sea, the sunny tresses he had once

caressed spread out like golden kelp-beds; far out to sea, the lovely

head he had once cradled on his shoulder plied cold and dismal waves;

far out to sea, the supple body be had once adored rolled to and fro

in leviathan undulations...  In the gray morning light he saw that

the backs of his hands were glistening with tiny drops of moisture.

He stared at the drops uncomprehendingly, and as he stared another

one appeared. He knew then that they were fallen tears.

I

Oddly enough, he had received an impression of tallness the very

first time he saw her. The impression was a false one, arising from

their different positions - she had just stood up on the raft and he

was climbing onto it - but in the years that followed he never forgot

how goddess-like she seemed when he emerged from the blue water at

her very feet and gazed up at her. It was the first faint sounding of

a leitmotiv that was destined to grow in sound and grandeur until it

dominated his life.

The fullness of her pectorals and the deepness of her chest led him

to suspect that she was an excellent swimmer. Her long legs, smoothly

yet powerfully muscled, strengthened the suspicion, and the golden

cast of her skin did nothing to disaffirm it. But she was not a

particularly tall girl, he saw when he stood up beside her; tall, yes

- but no taller than the five feet, four necessary to put the top of

her golden head on a level with his chin. The brown-haired girl who

had also been sun bathing on the raft and who had also stood up was

unmistakably the taller of the two. She gave David a penetrating

glance out of cool gray eyes, then donned a yellow bathing cap.

"Come on, Helen, we've got to dress for dinner'' she said to her

companion, and dived into the water and struck out in an easy crawl

for the white strip of beach with its decor of piers and cottages.

The golden girl donned a white bathing cap and was about to follow,

when David said, "Don't go yet - please."

She regarded him curiously and he saw that the September sky had

copied its color from the blue of her eyes." 'Please? Why

please' ?"

"Because I'll probably never swim out here again and find

someone like you standing in the sun," David said. "Because

I'm a miser as regard to moments, and when I find a golden one like

this I'm compelled to do everything I can to keep it from slipping

through my fingers before I get a chance to hoard it."

"You're strange. Do you joust with windmills, too?"

He smiled. "Sometimes."  And then, "I already know

your name," he went on. "Or at least the first part of it.

For the record, mine's David - David Stuart."

She removed her bathing cap, and her golden hair came tumbling softly

down around her cheeks and neck. Her face somehow managed to be both

oval and heart-shaped, and the line of her eyebrows was a logical and

natural extension of the delicate line of her nose. "For the

record," she said, "the last part of mine is Austen."

She seemed to make up her mind. "Very well, I can spare a minute

- three, if I skip my shower. But no more than that."

She sat down in the sun, and be sat down, beside her. White caps

danced around them on the blueness of the lake and above their heads

a lofty family of cirrus clouds hovered sedately in the sky. "I

thought I knew everyone at the resort by this time," she said.

My sister Barbara and I have been here for almost a month. You must

be cryptozoic."

"No," he said, "I just arrived this morning. Not long

ago, I found myself the inheritor of quite a number of things, among

them a beach house. I wanted to get some benefit out of it before the

season died."

"You won't get very much. Tomorrow's burial day, you know."

"Not for my season. I've struck Labor Day from my calendar. I've

always had a penchant for September beaches, but this is the first

time I've ever had a chance to indulge it. I'll probably hang around

here till October, keeping company with the herring gulls and old

memories."

She looked out over the dancing water. "I'll think of you when

I'm back in the salt mines laboring over dictation pad and

typewriter."

The line of her neck and chin was faintly childlike. Somehow, she

made him think of a little girl. "You're hardly more than

nineteen, are you?" he asked wonderingly.

"I'm twenty-one, and secretarial school is far behind me. I

wanted to go into training and swim the English Channel, but my

sister Barbara, who is wise in all things, convinced me that I should

settle for a more staid career."

"You don't look like your sister," he said. And then,

"Tell me about your swimming."

"I took the women's long distance A.A.U. championship in 1966.

Does that contribute anything to your-golden moment?"

"It enhances it no end. But it also gives me a feeling of

inferiority. I can't even swim a mile."

"You could if you went about it right. Swimming is a more

natural form of locomotion than walking is." She donned her

bathing cap again - this time for keeps - and stood up. I'm afraid

your three minutes expired some time ago and now I really must

go."

He stood up beside her. "I'll swim in with you," he said.

They dived together, emerged glistening in the sun, and struck out

for shore, she with a lazy play of arms and legs, he with a laborious

side stroke. On the beach, water dancing down her smooth tanned skin,

she said, "I hope the moment makes a distinguished addition to

your collection. And now, I must run."

"Wait," he said. "I wouldn't be a true miser if one

golden moment didn't make me greedy for another."

"But one more will only make you greedy for, still another

-isn't that so?''

"It is a sort of vicious circle, at that," he admitted.

"But I can't help myself, and time is running short, and -"

"I'll be at the pavilion with Barbara tonight," Helen said.

"You may buy me one glass of beer, if you like - but only

one." She turned and ran toward the flight of stairs that

climbed the low bank along whose crest -the summer cottage stood.

"Good bye now," she called over her shoulder.

"Good bye,'' David said, the late afternoon sunlight warm upon

his back, the song of her sounding deep within him. Yes, she was the

one; he was sure of it now. The song said so over and over. His

footsteps were airy as he made his way toward the beach house. There

was none like her - none, the song sang. None like her - none.

Arrayed beside her, the windfall of his inheritance was a scattering

of withered apples. She was the single golden apple that had not yet

fallen and he would climb high into the branches of the tree and

taste the golden sweetness of her and put to rout the hunger of his

lonely years.

His uncle's beach house - he hadn't yet grown accustomed enough to

his new way of life to think of the various items of his inheritance

as his own - was one of the three residences among which the old man

had rationed the last years of his long life. The other two were a

cottage on in isolated section of the Connecticut coast and a

bungalow on Bijou-de-mer a small island in the Coral Sea. In addition

to owning tile bungalow the old man had also owned the island, and on

it in his younger days be had pursued two of the very few hobbies he

had ever permitted himself - the cultivation of rice and the

production of copra.

The beach house was more than a mere summer home - it was a young

mansion. Compared to it, the ordinary resort cottages brought to mind

a collection of caretakers' dwellings. On the beach side, a green

lawn patterned with elms and weeping willows spread lazily down to a

low breakwall. The motif of trees and grass was repeated on the east

and on the west sides, and was varied slightly in the rear by a

blacktop driveway that wound in from the resort road to a three car

garage.

American Colonial design, the house stood three stories high.  A high

ceilinged living room ran the entire width of the first story and

from the living room two archways led respectively to an elaborate

dining room and a king sized kitchen. The second story was given over

to a spacious den,  a period-piece bar, a large library, a three

tabled billiard room a big bathroom and a huge master bedroom. The

third floor was devoted entirely to guest rooms, each of which had

its own bathroom. The servant quarters were just off the kitchen and

could be reached by a separate outside doorway. This was the doorway

David used. He hadn't as yet shed the awe of the rich that his

middle-class parents had instilled in him before they broke up, and

he felt more like a trespasser than he did an owner. Moreover, the

mere thought of getting sand on the thousand-dollar living room rug

appalled him.

The servants had been discharged after his uncle's death, and, other

than making arrangements with someone in the nearby village of

Bayville to come around twice a week and do what needed to be done to

keep the grounds, he had hired no one to replace them. Even if he had

known exactly how to go about getting a butler and a cook and a maid

he would have balked at the idea, not because he considered it wrong

for one human being to wait on another but because having always done

for himself he instinctively shied away twin the idea of having

someone else do for him. Besides, all his life he had yearned for the

privacy that only wealth can bring, and now that he had it he had no

intention of sharing it with strangers. After undressing in the

modest guest room that he had chosen for his own, he shaved and

showered in the adjoining bathroom. For the evening he donned a

slacks and shirt ensemble that had cost him more than he used to pay

for his suits. "For casual wear," the clerk ha

 d said, but David felt anything but casual as he stood before the

mirror and surveyed himself. He felt stiff and awkward and out of

place, and he looked exactly the way he felt.

He drove into Bayville for dinner. Shadows were long upon the lawn

when he returned, and he sat on the colonnaded porch till they grew

longer, till they fled before the soundless footsteps of evening;

then he set off down the beach toward the pavilion he had never

visited the place, but he recognized it the minute he saw it

sprawling on the shore, its lights leaking through its poplar-guarded

windows and spilling onto the sand. The second he stepped inside, he

felt lost. Young people lined the bar and crowded around the tables.

All of them it seemed, were talking at once, and their voices

blending with the juke-box blare created a background roar that was

downright nerve-racking. This is a place for children, not adults.

David who was only twenty nine, felt forty.

He edged into a narrow space at the bar and ordered a beer that he

didn't want. He was beginning to wish that he hadn't come; then he

saw Helen and Barbara come in and take a table by one of the wide

windows that looked out over the lake. He ordered two more beers, and

carrying them along with his own, made his way across the crowded

room. Helen's eyes were on him all the way and when he set the three

glasses down on the table at the end of his precarious journey she

rewarded him with a warm "Hello". "This is David

Stuart, Barbara," she said to her companion. Turning back to

David she said, "This is my sister Barbara. She writes love

stories for the magazines." Barbara gave him a long cool glance.

She was wearing a white dress that brought to mind a Grecian tunic.

Helen's dress was pastel pink, and clung like morning mist to her

golden skin. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins

which feed among tile lilies . . .

"You are the David Stuart I read about some time ago, aren't

you?" Barbara asked him after he sat down. "The one who

harvested the golden grain?"

David nodded. "My uncle's golden grain."

"Helen wouldn’t believe me when I told her you were filthy

rich."

"You talk as though being rich were a crime."

"It's only my envy showing. I have no uncles, but if I did have

you could depend on everyone of them being as dirt poor as I

am."

"Well I have no uncles either," Helen said, "and I

don't feel a bit bitter. Do you like being rich, David?"

"I don't know I haven't got used to it yet."

"You should read Fitzgerald," Barbara said. "He had a

complex about rich people. Perhaps you have read him."

David nodded. "Poor Julian."

"Poor David," Helen said. "Get off his back, will you,

Babs?" Then, to David, "I've been thinking about what you

said about gulls and old memories. It will be nice after all the

people have gone."

"But not after you've gone. I wish you could stay."

"I wish I could too. But come tomorrow night it's back to

Buffalo."

"And back to Steve," Barbara said. "Don't forget

Steve."

"Steve?" David asked.

"Steve is her true love. Didn't you tell him about Steve,

Helen?"

"Don't be such a shrew, Barbara. You know perfectly well I

haven't had time to tell him about anything."

David looked into his beer glass. He should have known there would be

a Steve. How could there help but be?

Barbara was speaking again: "What will you do with all your

delightful dough Mr. Stuart? Buy a yacht?"

He forced himself to smile. She was beginning to bug him a little,

but he wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of knowing it.

"I already have a yacht. What I'd like to do is buy a typewriter

and write the Great American Novel."

Barbara shook her head. "You won't though, because you won't be

pressed. Great books are written by men who need the money they bring

in. Take Balzac. Take Dostoevski. Take - "

"Why not take Flaubert?" David interrupted. "He wasn't

pressed."

"Not financially - no. But you may rest assured that he was

pressed in, other ways." She looked at him keenly. "I don't

think you are Mr. Stuart. I'll bet you've never written anything in

your whole life."

David grinned. "Oh well, it was only a passing thought. Probably

what I'll really do is buy a castle with a moat filled with Cutty

Sark and drink myself to death. Does that fit your preconception of a

parvenu any better, Miss  Austen?"

"Much better." She raised her glass, took a single sip out

of it, and set it back down on the table. She stood up. "I'm

going to turn in early for a change, so I'll be on my way."

"Wait, Babs," Helen said.

"I can't. Don't forget to tell him about Steve now."

Barbara walked away. Helen stared after her angrily. "I can't

understand it - she's never acted like that before."

David said, "I have a hunch she doesn't like me." He

touched glasses. "I know you said only one, but please drink up

and have one more."

"No - one's my limit. Anyway, I think I'd better be getting back

to the cottage too." His disappointment must have shown on his

face, for she added, "But you can walk me home if you like, and

we can sit on the beach stairs and talk for a while."

"Fine. I don't like it here anyway."

Outside, she removed her shoes. "I like to walk barefoot on the

sand."

He took them from her. "Here, let me carry them."

The stars were out, but there was no moon, and the shoreline lay in

pale and dreamlike darkness. The lake sighed at their feet, and a

warm breeze breathed against their faces. They passed dark blurs of

blankets and heard lovers whispering in the night. When they came to

the stairs, Helen said, "This is where I meant. I've sat here

lots of time, looking at the stars."

"All alone?"

"Yes, all alone. You're the only boy I've met this summer."

David laughed. "I haven't been a 'boy' for quite some time."

"To me, you seem like one. Shall we sit down?"

The stairs were narrow, and they had to squeeze to make it. They sat

there side by side, shoulders touching. "You were supposed to

tell me about Steve,'' David said. "Remember?''

"There isn't much to tell. I've known him for about a year. He's

asked me to marry him several times, but somehow I couldn't say

'yes'. I guess it was because I didn't know for sure whether I loved

him or not."

"Didn't?"

"Did I use the past tense? Yes, I guess I must have. Because I

do know for sure now."

"That you do love him?"

"That I don't."

David realized that he had been holding his breath. He expelled it

softly. "I think I'd better tell you a little bit about

myself," he said. "I'm frightened of my wealth, because in

my heart I'm still poor. You get so used to being poor that you

accept it as the normal order of things, and if you become rich

overnight you try to reassure yourself by continuing to associate

with the people you associated with when you were poor. And then you

find out what kind of people they really are. They drive you from

their doors with their envy and they hound you in public places, and

there you are, stranded between two worlds - the old one that no

longer wants any part of you and the new one that you're too timid to

enter. I'm at sea in another respect too. Somehow, I've always had

the notion that books are as important to a man as his daily bread,

and I've spent half my life reading them. Good books, bad books,

mediocre books - all kinds of books. When my mother and father got

divorced

  - that's why my uncle disinherited them, incidentally - I was old

enough to take care of myself, and I quit school and went to work.

Since then, I've worked at all sorts of jobs in all sorts of

different places. I drove trucks, I delivered mail, I pumped gas. I

did this and I did that, and all the while I read, read, read. For

about six months I worked on a Great Lakes ore boat and studied

navigation in my spare time, but that didn't suit me either, and I

finally ended up in Lackawanna working at Bethlehem Steel.  When my

uncle died I was working the swing shift, and reading 'The Forsyte

Saga' in my spare time in a cheap roominghouse. You can't imagine

anything more incongruous than that - or anything more pathetic.

Beware of the man of many books who can't put what he's read to

practical use. Beware of the dreamer. There, you can't say you

haven't been forewarned."

"Weren't there any girls?"

"A few. But the only ones that meant anything to me were the

ones I met in books."

"It's a shame your parents couldn't get along. Did they try to

contest the will?"

"My father did - my uncle was his brother. But it was no dice.

As soon as I get straightened around I'm going to set up an annuity

for him, and one for my mother too. They're both remarried and

they're well off, and both of them have children and neither one of

them likes to be reminded that I'm still around; but it wouldn't be

right if I didn't do something for them."

"It's good to be kind to your parents. I never knew mine."

"You're an orphan then?" David asked.

"A foundling. Sort of a freakish one. Barbara's father -

afterwards he became my father, too - found me one winter when he was

vacationing in Florida. I was lying on a public beach, and I was

naked and all tangled up with seaweed and I looked as though I was

half dead. I wasn't half dead though -I was very much alive. But I

couldn't walk and l couldn't talk and I had no memory of what had

happened to me. I still haven't. When dad adopted me and brought me

home he estimated my age to be ten years and figured out the day and

the year of my birth accordingly. He was a widower and had no other

children except Barbara. She and I grew up together in his house in

Buffalo. My first memory goes no further back than my eleventh

"birthday." I could walk and talk by then, though not very

well. After that I recovered fast, but what I recovered from I've no

idea, and I don't think any of the doctors dad took me to have

either. Anyway, I wasn't mentally retarded, and with dad's and

Barbara'

 s help I easily made up for all the school I'd missed, and managed

to graduate from high school before I was eighteen. Dad gave me his

wife's name and when he died three years ago he left the house to

both Barbara and me. It's a fine house, and we've lived there ever

since. She does all the managing of course - she's three years older

than I am. Three years is quite a lot when you're young."

"Eight must seem an eternity,'' David said. Suddenly he snapped

his fingers. "I'll bet that's why your sister doesn't like me -

she thinks I'm too old for you.''

Helen shook her head. "No, that's not why. Barbara's very

broad-minded about such things. Besides I think she does like you.

Sometimes she's hard to understand." She stood up. "I must

go in now, I'm afraid. May I have my shoes please?"

"I'll put them on for you."

When she did not demur, he knelt before her in the sand. Her feet

were pale blurs in the starlight. His fingers trembled at the touch

of her smooth cool skin. He slipped each shoe on gently. The

starlight seemed to intensify, to become rain, and the rain fell

soundlessly all around him in the soft summer night. For a moment he

could not breathe, and when he could he said, still kneeling in the

sand, "How beautiful are thy feet with shoes!" He felt her

hand touch his hair, rest lightly there for a moment, then fly away.

When he stood up, she stood up too, and standing as she was on the

first step she was slightly taller than he was. Her starlit face was

very close. The leitmotiv sounded again when he kissed her, stronger

this time, then faded away as they drew apart. Yes, it was true, his

heart sang. She was the one, and there could never be another like

her. "Good night," he whispered gently into her hair.

"Good night," she whispered gently back, and he stood there

in the sta

 rlight listening to the sound of her retreating footsteps and long

after he went to bed he heard  them in the deep dark recesses of the

night and in his dreams he saw her starlit gentle face again

and rejoiced in her starlit gentle kiss. There was none like, none.

None like her. None.

II

The wedding had been a modest one. It took place on the twentyfourth

of December of that same year in a little church not far from where

Helen and Barbara lived. Barbara was bridesmaid, and for the best man

David chose the only friend he had thus far acquired in the new world

in which he had recently taken up residence - Gordon Rawley, the

youngest member of the law firm that had handled David's uncle's

affairs and that now handled David's. That same day, David chartered

a plane and he and Helen flew to Connecticut, and night found them in

the little cottage on the cliff. They could just as easily have flown

to Florida, but both of them liked white Christmases too well to

sacrifice this one - the loveliest, probably, either of them would

ever know - on the altar of the tropics.

They remained in the cottage two weeks, hiking along the snow-crowned

cliffs by day and drinking German beer in the warmth of pine knot

flames by night. Mornings, they slept late, and afterward they

lingered over second coffees at the little table in the kitchen. It

was here that the Great Inspiration was born. They would go for a

long cruise in David's yacht, the Nereid, and visit his island in the

Coral Sea!

The Nereid was in Boston Harbor. After hiring a navigator and a crew

they set out on the 29th of January and braved their way down the

wintry coast. When the Panama Canal was behind them, David took

advantage of the serene Pacific days and nights and, with the

navigator's help, supplemented his knowledge of navigation to a point

where he could have plotted the course himself. Time passed swiftly.

March found the Nereid passing between the Solomons and the New

Hebrides and not long afterward, Bijou-de-mer was raised.

David's uncle had loved Bijou-de-mer the way Stendhal had loved Milan

but to David it was it big disappointment. He had expected to find

the sort of colorful tropical paradise that travel brochures depict;

instead, he found an overgrown cocoanut plantation and an expanse of

neglected rice fields. Backgrounding the cocoanut groves and the rice

paddies, was a series of jungle-clad hills. There was it good-sized

harbor, however, whose waters were deep enough for a small ship to

anchor and whose beach pure coral. An aged pier jutted from the

shore, and beyond the pier a trail led from the beach to a low

embankment that ran between two acreages of rice paddies to the hill

on which the bungalow stood.

In back of the bungalow there was a shed containing a generator, but

the generator had seen its better days, and David couldn't get it to

work. The bungalow, however, was in halfway decent condition, and

there were plenty of candles available. He and Helen made the

necessary repairs and cleaned the place up; then they settled down to

a halcyon life of swimming and fishing and general all-around

loafing. She loved the sea, and awakening mornings and finding an

empty pillow beside his own he would look through the bedroom window

and see her romping in the distant surf and sometimes swimming out

into the blue waters beyond the place where the Nereid lay at anchor.

Upon her return, he would bawl her out for her recklessness, but she

would. only laugh, and say, "Don't be an old woman David. The

sea will never harm me."

They remained on the island for a week. Probably they would have

remained longer if the rainy season hadn't set in. David had heard

about the rainy season, but it was necessary to experience it in

order to believe it. The rain fell in blankets and water rushed down

from the hills turning once-gentle brooks into raging torrents. The

rice paddies didn't just fill - they overflowed - and sometimes

moisture hung so heavily in the air that it seemed to be raining

inside as well as outside the bungalow. Everything was damp - the

clothes they wore, the books they read, the towels they tried to dry

themselves with, the sheets they slept on, and the food they ate.

David endured it for three days, said, "I've had it, Helen -

let's go home."

He decided not to go by way of the Panama Canal this time, but to

proceed to Tacoma, Washington, and leave the Nereid with Reese and

Harrison, Inc. - a shipbuilding concern in which he owned stock. The

yacht needed innumerable repairs, and even though he knew that in the

end the money he would save would be negligible, it pleased him to do

business with a company that in part belonged to him. Rather than

keep the navigator and the crew on his payroll any longer, he let

them go at the end of the voyage and paid their plane fare back to

Boston. Then, after turning the Nereid over to the ship-building

concern and leasing space for it at their private dock, he bought

plane tickets and he and Helen returned to Buffalo. They spent the

summer at the beach house, and in the fall they rented a duplex on

Delaware Avenue and moved into the city.

David had yet to decide what he wanted to do with his life, and now

he began trying this thing and that. But without the immediacy of

having to make living to goad him on, his pursuits invariably fell

into the hobby category. He bought the most expensive electric organ

he could find and he and Helen began to take lessons. It required

less than a month for them to realize that at best their playing

would never be anything more than wooden, and at Helen's suggestion

they abandoned music and took up painting. David fared no better in

this second field of endeavor than he had in the first, but Helen

proved to have a latent talent of sorts, and in a matter of weeks she

was turning out canvases that were remarkable for their subject

matter alone. David found some of them upsetting and one of them he

found downright frightening. It depicted the interior of a huge

cavern. Dominating it was an eerie castle built of crude stone

blocks. Its towers were disproportionately tall and were c

 overed with a slimy green growth that faintly resembled ivy. In

places, the "ivy" had torn loose, and was trailing outward

from the towers like ragged pennants streaming in a wind. The windows

were high and narrow, and the darkness behind them was unrelieved by

so much as a single light. The atmosphere was unearthly. It had it

cobalt-blue cast, and it was shot with strange rays and filmy

phosphorescences. As though to intensify the unpleasantness of the

over-all effect, Helen had painted in a scattering of weird piscine

birds. He thought, for some reason of Shelley's 'The World

Wanderers', and the lines:

TeII me, thou Star, whose wings of  light

Speed thee in thy fiery flight,

In what cavern of the night

Will thy pinions close now?

When he asked her what the painting was supposed to signify, she

seemed confused. "Should it signify something?" she asked.

"Well I should hope so! How else can you justify it?"

She Iooked at the bizarre scene for some time. At length, she shook

her head. "I just painted it - that's all. Maybe it's surreal or

something. But if it has an underlying meaning, I don't know what it

is."

He let the matter drop. However, he disliked the canvas intensely,

and never went near it again.

At this time the leitmotiv, which had lain dormant in the orchestral

background all these months, sounded once again - this time loudly

enough for him to hear it.

For some weeks he had been aware of a change in Helen's habits, but

he had been unable to discover its cause. Formerly, she had gone to

visit Barbara once or twice week, and often the two of them had

attended Saturday matinees together and dined out afterward. Now,

Helen stayed at home virtually all of the time and once, asked her to

go to a concert at Kleinhan's Music Hall with him she declined with a

vehemence that startled him. It was shortly after this incident that

he noticed that she had taken to wearing low heeled shoes. When he

asked her why, she said that her back had been bothering her lately

and that site had hoped that low heels might help it.

He thought no more about the matter. Then, not long afterward when he

was going through his mail one afternoon, he came across a statement

that floored him. It was from a dress shop that Helen had never

patronized before, and the amount ran way into four figures.

Nevertheless, it was not the amount that astonished him - it was the

list of items she had bought. For it added up to something more than

a mere total - it added up to the fact that she had bought a new

wardrobe.

Thanks to his insistence that she deny herself nothing, she already

had more clothes than she knew what to do with. Why, then, should she

suddenly have taken it into her head that she needed new coats, new

dresses, new shoes, new negligees, and new underthings? And why had

she kept their purchase a secret?

Maybe she hadn't meant to keep it a secret. Maybe it just seemed that

way to him because he hadn't been home the day the clothes had been

delivered. Still, it was odd that she hadn't made any mention of the

matter- unless she wanted to surprise him. But if she wanted to

surprise him she had waited a little too long.

Leaving the statement on his desk, he left his den, crossed the

living room, and ascended the stairs to the second level. Helen had

converted one of the three bedrooms into a studio, and she was there

now, hard at work on a new canvas. He paused in the doorway, drawing

a long draught of her loveliness and drinking it down to the last

drop. It was one of those phenomenally warm days that sometimes occur

during Indian Summer and she had removed her shoes and stripped down

to her slip. Her legs seemed longer and more graceful than ever, her

arms and breasts and neck more goddess-like. A playful October wind

was wafting through the open window and ruffling a series of

impromptu bang's that had fallen over her forehead.

She was so absorbed in her work that she didn't notice him till he

went over and stood beside her. Even then, she didn't look up, but

went oil painting. The scene taking shape on the canvas was a

disquieting one. There was a chasm-like valley filled with strange

green plants, the tenuous filaments of which were growing straight

upward in defiance of the law of gravity. Scattered over the valley

floor were hundreds of tiny green disks and farther up the valley so

deep in the background as to be barely discernible, was a series of

upright rib-like timbers. In the foreground stood a copper-banded

chest of the kind associated with seventeenth-century buccaneers, and

on top of it lay a human skull.

Finally she laid her palette and brush aside and faced him.

"Something on your mind darling?

He forced his eyes away from the canvas. "Yes. I thought we

might go out to dinner tonight. Don our glad togs and do the

town."

Her blue eyes absconded. "No, I don't think I'd care to tonight,

David."

"But why not? It's been ages since we've gone anywhere . . . I

should think you'd want to show off some of the new things you

bought."

Her eyes came back, rested briefly on his face, then ran away again.

"You got the statement then. I was going to tell you, but

somehow I -" Abruptly she turned away and walked aver to the

window and looked down into the street. "Somehow I just

couldn't," she finished.

He went over and took her shoulders and turned her around.

"Don't be upset - I'm glad you bought new clothes."

"I wouldn't have bought them, only-" Suddenly she raised

her eyes. "Look at me," she said. "Can't you see

what's happening?''

"I am looking at you. What is it I'm supposed to see?"

"Look harder." She moved closer to him. "The top of my

head used to be level with your chin - remember? Now look where it

comes to!"

His first impulse was to laugh; then he realized that his lips were

brushing her forehead and that her hair was level with his eyes.

Instinctively, he stepped back to see if she was standing on tiptoe.

She was not. For a moment, he could not speak.

"Now you know why I don't go anywhere any more," she said.

"Now you know why I avoid Barbara. Seeing me every day, you

haven't noticed; but other people would. Barbara would. When you

don't see someone every day you can spot a change in them the minute

you lay eyes on them."

"And this - this is why you bought a new wardrobe?"

"I had to - don't you see? Oh, I let the hems down on my dresses

- that, was no problem. But finally it reached a point where the

dresses had to be let out, arid I didn't know how to do it and I was

afraid to hire someone to do it for me for fear they'd guess the

truth. You see, I'm not just growing taller - I'm growing bigger too.

My feet are growing bigger, my hands are growing bigger. I can't even

wear my wedding ring any more. I -"

He took her in his arms before the tears had a chance to begin. ''But

don't you see," he said, "that what's happening to you is

perfectly normal? You're supposed to grow until you're

twenty-five!"

"I'm supposed to fill out, yes - but I'm not supposed to grow

taller." She rested her head on his shoulder. "Let's not

pretend, David, I've known for a long time that I was growing taller

- that I'd never even stopped growing taller. But my growth-rate was

so gradual that I didn't think anything about it. Now, it's begun to

accelerate. I've grown two inches in the last two months! I'm three

inches taller now than I was when you married me! I'm ten pounds

heavier!"

"All of which makes you the exception that proves the rule but

which certainly doesn't mean you're going to go on growing

taller."

She didn't seem to hear him. "With high heels on I'd be as tall

as you are!" A shudder shot through her. "Oh, David, it's

not fair!"

"I'll tell you what," he said. "Tomorrow, we'll pay

your family doctor a visit and let him put your fears to rest. But

tonight, we'll get dressed and go out to dinner, and afterwards we'll

take in a show. You've been cooped up here for so long that you've

imagined yourself to be taller than you really are. Why, I'll bet it

you measured you'd find that at the most you've only grown half an

inch!"

"Don't you think I have measured? Don't you think -"

"All right then - you have. But it's nothing to worry about.

Come on, get ready and we'll go. If there's any worrying that needs

to be done, I'll do it."

All the while he was getting dressed he tried to convince himself

that there was none, but he didn't quite succeed. He didn't know very

much about gigantism, but he knew enough about it to ruin his dinner

and to spoil the movie that they went to afterward. If Helen really

was suffering from the condition, her continued growth wasn't

necessarily going to stop at three extra inches and ten extra pounds.

It could go on and on till she turned into the freak she already

imagined she had become.

But Doctor Bonner, Helen's family physician, didn't share David's

premonitions. After giving her a complete physical, he said that he

had never seen a healthier woman. There was no indication that normal

ossification hadn't occurred, and she showed no signs of the physical

weakness that usually accompanies gigantism. Like David, he didn't

believe that she had grown nearly as much as she thought she had, and

he told her that she had gotten herself upset over nothing. "I

hereby pronounce you physically sound," he said. "If you

suffer from any more growing pains," he added with a grin,

"be sure to let me know."

"I don't think he believed a word of what I told him,"

Helen said on the way home. "Why, he treated me like a little

child!"

"But don't you think," David suggested, "that part of

it might be your imagination? Maybe you grew an inch, or maybe even

an inch and a half, but three seems a little far-fetched."

"But I tell you that I did grow three inches! Three and a

quarter inches, in fact!"

David laughed, "All right - I won't argue with you. But

apparently they're perfectly normal inches, so I don't see what harm

they can do. It's stylish for girls to be tall these days."

Suddenly, she smiled. "Well if you don't mind I certainly

shouldn't. Do you know what? - I think I'll go see Barbara this

afternoon."

She did, too. She returned, radiant. "Barbara didn't even notice

till she saw that I was wearing low heels. It's funny, isn't it, how

everybody thinks they're the center of the universe and that if they

even so much as comb their hair different, the whole wide world will

sit up and take notice right

away? I feel like celebrating. Do you think you could stand a date

with the same girl two nights running, Mr. Stuart?"

"Only if she happens to be a lovely number I happen to know.

Let's go as we are - I know a small cafe where it won't matter what

we wear."

"I'll redo my face and be with you in a minute."

The evening that followed, he reflected afterward, constituted the

last carefree hours they ever spent together. During the next week

Helen grew another inch, and by the end of the month she was as tall

as he was.

III

The second time they had visited him Doctor Bonner's professional

joviality had failed to manifest itself. Doctor Lindeman, the

specialist to whom he promptly referred them gave Helen another

complete physical, but he couldn't find anything wrong with her

either. He asked her to tell him the history of her life, and after

she complied he questioned her about the years preceding her eleventh

"birthday". But she could tell him nothing. Finally, he

made arrangements for her to spend a week under observation at the

hospital to which he was attached. At the end of the week he didn't

have any more idea of what was wrong with her than he had had at the

beginning of it.

They tried other specialists, both in Buffalo and in other cities.

None of them could throw the slightest light on the cause of Helen's

gigantism. Meanwhile, she continued to grow, and as her size

increased, so, too, did her sensitivity. To ease her embarrassment,

David began wearing shoes with Cuban heels. For a while, he was able

to maintain the illusion that she was no taller than he was, and when

she continued to grow he managed to maintain the illusion for a while

longer by having a shoemaker increase the thickness of the heels. But

it was a makeshift subterfuge at best, and at length he abandoned it.

By this time, Helen was two inches taller than he was, and almost

equaled him in weight.

The only aspect of her affection that enabled her to endure it was

the fact that she grew proportionately. For all her budding

gianthood, she still possessed the same symmetry and grace she had

known before, and whenever he saw her at a distance with no familiar

objects to compare her to she looked exactly as she had looked a few

short months ago. But this perspective was soon denied him, for the

time came, as he had known it would, when she refused to leave the

apartment.

Keeping her supplied with food posed no problem as yet, but keeping

her supplied with clothes did. Her shoes, her dresses, her coats -

everything had to be made to order. In view of the fact that she no

longer went out, the coats could have-been dispensed with, and she

even said as much; but David wouldn't hear of such a thing. He was

determined that she should have clothes for all occasions, whether

she wore them or not.

When their first anniversary came around, she was six feet, six

inches tall. The only visitor she allowed in the apartment was

Barbara, and it was Barbara, dropping in every other evening who was

making it possible for Helen to go on. David did all he could to keep

up her morale, insisting over and over that he loved her more than he

had before; yet even through she knew he was telling the truth, the

knowledge wouldn't have been enough to sustain her. She needed

additional assurance that she was still wanted, and Barbara supplied

it.

If anything, David's wife was even lovelier on this their first

anniversary than she had been the day he married her. Her complexion

should have been sallow from lack of sunlight. Instead, it was

radiant. Moreover, her skin had a golden cast, and seemed to glow as

though strange fires burned within her. For weeks, he had hoped that

in honor of the occasion she would consent to go out to dinner with

him. But when the occasion actually arrived even he was dubious about

subjecting her to such an ordeal, and he was more relieved than

disappointed when she insisted on staying home.

He had a magnum of champagne sent up, and engaged a catering service

to prepare and deliver a special wedding dinner. With Helen's help,

he set up the Christmas tree he had brought home that afternoon, and

afterward they trimmed it together. Then they exchanged presents. For

David, Helen had bought - via Barbara - a calendar wristwatch. For

Helen, David had bought a new easel - taller, but not-obtrusively so,

than the one she had - and a dozen canvases. They toasted each other

in champagne, and sat down to dinner. That evening didn't begin to

compare with their first evening together in the Connecticut cottage,

but the hours were precious for all that, and David knew that he

would never forget them.

Christmas went its way. The New Year honked its tinselly horns, and

then was heard no more. Helen continued to grow. Her growth rate

involved a form of arithmetical progression now, and it seemed to

David that every day she became perceptibly taller. And as her height

increased, so, too, did his desperation. There was utterly nothing he

could do. She was so sensitive about her condition by this time that

she wouldn't have consulted a specialist even if he or Barbara could

have found one capable of helping her. What bothered him almost as

much as her ineluctable increase in size was the effect that severing

herself from society would eventually have upon her. And there was

yet another source of worry. He loved her more than he ever had, and

she returned both his affection and his passion; but there was a

ludicrous quality about their relationship now - a ludicrous quality

that had imposed a psychological handicap upon a race that was

already half lost. The knowledge that event

 ually the race would be lost altogether preyed upon his mind with

greater and greater frequency as winter gradually gave way to spring

and the young giantess in his house attained ever more terrifying

proportions. He began awakening just before dawn and lying sleepless

between cool sheets, staring at the outsize bed next to his own and

listening to her breathing and sometimes his thoughts would match the

gray cast of the early morning sky and the grayness would linger with

him all through the day.

No, it could not go on like this. There was nothing he could do about

her gianthood, but there was something he could do about her

environment. The beach house, with its high ceilings and its

commodious rooms, would do for now. Later on, more permanent

arrangements could be made. But he needed help; he could no longer

hoe his row alone. On a rainy evening late in April, he went to see

Barbara.

The rain was coming down in sheets when he parked his car in her

driveway and ran across the lawn to the verandah. As he climbed the

steps, deja vu transiently tinged his thoughts, bringing a frown to

his forehead. Was Barbara somehow associated in his mind with rain?

Would she be someday? . . .

From beyond the door came the clatter of typewriter keys. He rang the

bell, and the sound ceased. Presently he saw her coming down the

hall. She was wearing slacks and an old sweater. Her dark brown hair,

always recalcitrant, had an almost savage mien about it as it tumbled

halfway to her shoulders. Her cool gray eyes seemed to see him

standing on the verandah even before she switched on the outside

light. They registered surprise for a fleeting second, then returned

to their coal gray selves. "Come in, David," she said,

opening the door. "It's not a fit night for either man or dog to

be abroad."

He almost abandoned his plan then and there. He had never been able

to cope with her cynicism because he had never been able to determine

how much of it was directed toward him in particular and how much of

it was directed toward the world in general. Only his desperation saw

him through.

Barbara helped him off with his trenchcoat, hung it on a rack in the

hall and showed him into the living room. "How's Helen?"

He shook his head. "The same."

She sat down on a low-backed sofa and he sat down facing her in a

low-backed chair. Through a doorway on his right he could see the den

in which she had been working. A rebuilt standard stood on a desk

cluttered with papers. There were reference books piled everywhere.

At the rear of the living room, another doorway gave into an

unlighted dining room. On the wall above the sofa hung a framed

collotype of Sargent's "Daughters of Edward D Boit". David

remembered the picture well from the days when he was courting Helen.

He leaned forward, rested his elbows on his knees and looked down at

his hands. "Barbara, I want you to come to work for me. I want

you to help me take care of Helen."

There was a silence.  Presently a lighter clicked on and a moment

later a bluish veil of cigarette smoke came between them. Finally, he

heard her voice: "You're like everybody else in this tinkertoy

utopia, aren't you? You think that the whole thing was set up for you

and you alone, and that when crevices appear in your walls everybody

should drop whatever he or she is doing and come to help you shore

them up."

He lifted his gaze to her face. Her gray eyes were even cooler than

they had been before. "You can go on writing," he said.

"There shouldn't be too many demands on your time - and I'll pay

you whatever you say the job is worth."

Money heals all wounds, doesn't it, O, noble physician? Well, I can

assure you that it won't heal mine. But that's beside the

point." She got up and walked over to the mantel arid leaned

against it, staring at the wall. Abruptly, she turned and faced him.

"Yes. I'll come to work for you, noble David. But not because

you've offered me a sinecure that won't interfere with what,

presumably, I really want to do. I'll come to work for you because

you've provided me with an escape route from futility. Because you've

freed me from the necessity of writing simpering boy-meets-girl fairy

tales to earn my daily bread. I'll wash and I'll iron, and I'll cook

and I'll sew, but I'll never again demean my intelligence by using it

to turn out fairy tales about silly paper dolls who meet each other

on planes and trains and rafts and fall two dimensionally in love

between Lucky Strike and Betty Crocker ads. Yes, I'll come to work

for you, noble David. Indeed, I will!"

Dismayed, he said, "But I don't want you to give up writing,

Barbara. That's the last thing in the world that I want."

"But don't you see? - it's what I want. A person can go on doing

something in good conscience only so long as she believes in what

she's doing. But when she stops believing, it's time for her to stop.

I should have stopped long ago, but somehow I couldn't bring myself

to. Now, I've made up my mind... How tall is Helen now?"

He shrugged. "An inch or so taller than when you saw her last. I

suppose I guess it's a process that goes on forever."

"Well she can't go on living in that apartment - it must seem

like a prison to her. We'll have to take her some place else."

He nodded eagerly, aware that his burden had already grown lighter.

"Yes. We can stay at the beach house till the cottagers start

coming out. She'll have plenty of freedom there. Meanwhile, I can

look around for a better place if I have to. I can buy a whole farm

and fence it in. An isolated one with a big house. There're plenty of

them in the hills beyond Bayville." He got to his feet.

"I'll go out to the resort tomorrow and get the place ready. You

can be packing and making arrangements to close up the house, and

later on in the week I'll buy a van and we'll move."

She faced him across the room.

"I make lousy coffee, but you're welcome to a cup before you

go."

"I think I'd better take a rain check.." (Now why had he

used that expression? He wondered.) "Helen expects me back right

away."

"You still love her very much, don't you?"

"Of course."

"I'll bet you'd still love her if she grew to be a hundred feet

fall . . . Would you?"

He felt uncomfortable. "I suppose I would."

The cool eyes were full upon him.

"And it came to pass in an evening tide that David walked upon

the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman

washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

. . . And thus did David see Bathsheba and fall in love. But unknown

to him he was victimized by a state of mind and a set of

circumstances, and regardless of what woman he had seen at that

particular moment he would have fallen in love."

"Which means?" David said, frowning.

"That Bathsheba was in exactly the right place at exactly the

right time. I'll get your coat."

He followed her into the hall. Outside, the rain drummed on the

verandah roof, made gurgling sounds in the eave troughs. Her hand

touched his as she helped him on with his coat. It was the briefest

of contacts, but suddenly he knew. Knew the way it was with her and

the way it might have been - and still might be - with him. And

simultaneously he knew that far from simplifying his problem he had

merely complicated it.

She opened the door. "Good night," he said without looking

at her, and hurried out into the rain.

IV

The last shoemaker had laughed in his face, and it seemed that he had

been walking now for hours. He knew that this could not be so, that

the time-lapse had been to it large extent subjective. Hours would

have brought on the winter night, and dusk was still on hand. Lights

were more in evidence, though street lights and car lights, and the

lights of colored bulbs strung on pine and spruce and ornamental

arborvitae. Barabbas would have loved such a gaudy display, and maybe

that was where everyone had gone wrong in the first place. Paying

lip-service to the one and groveling at the feet of the other. Tinsel

twinkles like a two-edged sword, merchants are highwaymen in houses.

Give us this day your daily dollar, for ours is the kingdom of

commerce. It was 'Barabbas - not Christmas - Eve'.

David fed the iron kettle of a gaunt, bell-clanging Santa, and turned

down a different street. The lights were coming into full bloom now -

the reds and greens and yellows of the Druid lights and the bright

glares of the automobile lights and the fluorescent fires of the

store lights. The garden of the city knew not Gethsemane, but it knew

Prosperity. Hordes of last minute shoppers trooped in and out of

doorways. Carolers raised pious voices to stars that neither heard

nor cared. The annual emotional binge was at fever pitch. Tomorrow,

there would be relatives and turkey, and stodgy afternoons.

Dusk, then sleep . . . the rude awakening. Even Barabbas should have

known that gold and glitter do not make for better dawns.

Snow began drifting down between the rows of buildings in large and

gentle flakes. The poetry of earth is never dead… but ah for the

poetry of a new pair of shoes!

There was a shoe store up ahead but David's footsteps did not

quicken. It was the creators of shoes whom he sought, not the

sellers. Today, "shoemaker" was a misleading word. It meant

"repairer" not "maker". Today, machines made

shoes, and vague people in vague factories helped the machines along;

but for one man to take on the job alone, for a shoemaker to make a

pair of shoes?

"You must he craze, mister. I fix the shoes - yes. Make the

shoes? Make such big shoes? You must be craze!"

When he came abreast of the shoe store he stopped and looked into one

of its two windows. It was the woman's side, and all manner of

feminine footwear was on display. There were high-heeled shoes and

low-heeled shoes and shoes with pointed toes; there were scuffs and

step-ins and sandals. A pair of white pumps caught his eyes, and he

stood there staring at them, shoulders hunched against the cold and

the snow and the passers-by, ears deaf to the Christmas carol oozing

ingratiatingly from a loud-speaker above his head. The sighing of the

lake along the shore came sweetly back to him; he smelled the

sweetness of the summer night. Kneeling before her in the sand, he

slipped the white pumps on her feet, his fingers trembling to the

touch of her smooth cool skin. The starlight seemed to to become

rain, and the rain fell soundlessly all around him... How beautiful

were thy feet with shoes! . . .

Sitting in the house that afternoon, he hadn't been able to stand it

any longer. The small house on the hill that overlooked the adjoining

farms he had bought that spring. The small house in the hills beyond

Bayville that he and Barbara shared like brother and sister. Through

the living-room window he bad looked down the snow-covered hillside

to the big house where Helen lived - the big house that he had

remodeled himself and to which he and Barbara had brought her in the

van when the cottagers had started coming out weekends to cut their

little tracts of grass.

IN WHAT CAVERN OF THE DEEP  by Robert F Young  Snow lay along the cliff top and more snow was slanting in over the Atlantic

MORE ABOUT IN WHAT CAVERN OF THE DEEP  by Robert F Young  Snow lay along the cliff top and more snow was slanting in over the Atlantic