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The Shmand-Fair started inside a town, but we skirted it and reached a small hill, topped with ruins, on the southern edge. Looking down we could see a track, on which were two parallel straight lines, gleaming in the sunshine.

But something moved in the silver, a flicker in the bright haze. Until, crossing from the sun-path into the blue, it took on shape. A Tripod, followed by a second, and a third. Six of them all told. I said, in wonder, "Can they walk on water?"

Dusk was thickening by the time we reached the harbor. There were dozens of boats of all sizes tied up, and others standing out in the harbor, sails close-reefed on their masts. We wandered along the quay, reading their names.

But to travel where? Could this tunnel run for a hundred miles, as the track of the Shmand-Fair had done - but underground? To a buried city, perhaps, whose wonders were even greater than those of the city above us?

“I am ready now.” He put a hand out, first to me and then to Henry. “My name - I am Zhan-pole.” He looked odd and solemn standing there, tall and thin, with that strange metal-and-glass thing on his face. Henry laughed. “More like !”

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I was sorry at the thought of leaving her, and my father, and of their unhappiness when they found me gone. The Caps offered no remedy for human grief. But I could not stay, any more than a sheep could walk through a slaughterhouse door, once it knew what lay beyond.

“The Watch-do you ever think what it must have been like in the days when things like that were made?” I had, from time to time, but it was another subject on which speculation was not encouraged, and Jack had never talked in this way before. I said, “Before ?” “Yes.”

Those that were left the Tripods Capped, and once Capped they served the Tripods and helped to kill or capture other men. So, within a generation, things were much as they are now.

Farther along was the den Jack had made. One approached it through a crumbling arch; inside it was dry, and there was a place to build a fire. Jack had made one before coming out to look for me, and had skinned, cleaned, and skewered a rabbit ready for us to grill.

Jack had always been around to a lend a hand, as long as I could remember. It was strange, I thought, as we walked toward the village, that in just over a week’s time I would be on my own. The Capping would have taken place, and Jack would be a boy no longer.

“I am the king of this land. My wife was the queen of a rainy country, but I left her weeping. My name is Ozymandias. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.”

Apart from the one in the church tower, there were five clocks in the village that kept reasonable time, and my father owned one of them. It stood on the mantelpiece in the parlor, and every night before he went to bed he took the key from a vase, and wound it up.

At last we heard, above the clang of bells, the deep staccato booming in the distance, and there was a kind of sigh from everyone. The booming came nearer and then, suddenly, we could see it over the roofs of the houses to the south: the great hemisphere of gleaming metal.

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