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Munafa ebook

Munafa ebook

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Words: 44105 in 19 pages

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The Green Girl

Part I

Illustrated by WESSO

MAY 4, 1999

I had got up at dawn for a plunge in the surf, and all the morning I had been wandering about the bit of beach and the strip of virgin woodland behind it, content in the restful, soothing peace of that untouched bit of Nature, rejoicing lazily in the vivid greenness of it, in the fresh odors of earth and plant, in the whisper of the wind in the palms. I lounged on the crisp grass in the cooling shade, living in my sympathy with the life about me, watching the long soft rollers of the green-blue Atlantic surging deliberately toward the crystal whiteness of the sunlit sandy beach. The soft cerulean skies were clear, save for the white wings of occasional airships that glanced in the bright sunshine. The morning had a singularly quiet and soothing beauty. My sleepy soul was in harmony with the distant mellow chime of a church bell. I lay back in the peaceful rest of a man ready to sink lazily into the evening of life.

Though I am still an able man of somewhat less than thirty years, I felt that morning none of the energetic exuberance of youth. I felt something of the age and the agelessness of Nature herself. I felt no fires of ambition; I was oddly devoid of feeling or emotion; I felt content to steep my soul for eternities in Nature's simple wonders. But I have always been a dreamer.

I was a worshipper come unknowingly for the last time to the shrine of life. For even then the doom was gathering! But I was spared all knowledge of the alien menace that was blotting out the sun! I had no premonition that within a few short hours the balmy Florida coast would be a frozen wilderness, whipped with bitter winds and lashed with freezing seas!

I had risen at last, and was sauntering down the hard white sand in the direction of our cottage, listening idly to the birds--singing on the eve of their doom. I came in sight of the house, a low building, covered with climbing vines and half hidden in the trees. I strolled toward it upon the narrow, curving gravel walk, lost in the peace of the rustic setting.

The Doctor was sitting on the small veranda, gazing sleepily out over the sea, with his pipe in his mouth and his hands on the arms of his chair. Dr. Samuel Walden was the sole person in the world, outside the vivid creations of my dreams, for whom I had affection. He was an unusual character. Born in 1929, he was now seventy years of age. His earlier life had been devoted to science, and he had won fame and fortune for himself by the invention of the hydrodyne sub-atomic engine. But in the last twenty years he had done no scientific work--or so I thought, for I had never been behind the little door that he kept always locked.

A close friend of my parents, he had been more than a father to me since they were lost in the turmoil of the last outbreak against the Council of Nations, when I was three years old. We had always lived in the old cottage on the hill, in this natural park on the Florida coast. He loved Nature deeply. For many years his chief interests in life had been plants and animals, for which he cared more than for society. A flower, a dog, the sound of the surf--such things were the joys of his life.

Though his hair had been white for many years, his lean, tanned face was unwrinkled, and he was among the strongest men of my acquaintance. In fact, two years before, he had won second place at the Olympic wrestling contests. He loved the simple things of life. He had a passion for cooking, and he made it a science as well as an art. He was an inveterate smoker, and clung to the habit, even when he had to have the tobacco smuggled in from Asia at vast expense. He had an old music box, of a type that went out of date half a century ago, to which he used to listen for hours on end.

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