In the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a
path for its light with feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a
great upas-tree. And within the depths of the valley, where the light
reaches not, move forms not meant to be beheld. Rank is the herbage on
each slope, where evil vines and creeping plants crawl amidst the stones
of ruined palaces, twining tightly about broken columns and strange
monoliths, and heaving up marble pavements laid by forgotten hands. And
in trees that grow gigantic in crumbling courtyards leap little apes,
while in and out of deep treasure-vaults writhe poison serpents and
scaly things without a name. Vast are the stones which sleep beneath
coverlets of dank moss, and mighty were the walls from which they fell.
For all time did their builders erect them, and in sooth they yet serve
nobly, for beneath them the grey toad makes his habitation.
At the very bottom of the valley lies the river Than, whose waters are
slimy and filled with weeds. From hidden springs it rises, and to
subterranean grottoes it flows, so that the Daemon of the Valley knows
not why its waters are red, nor whither they are bound.
The Genie that haunts the moonbeams spake to the Daemon of the Valley,
saying, "I am old, and forget much. Tell me the deeds and aspect and
name of them who built these things of Stone." And the Daemon replied,
"I am Memory, and am wise in lore of the past, but I too am old. These
beings were like the waters of the river Than, not to be understood.
Their deeds I recall not, for they were but of the moment. Their aspect
I recall dimly, it was like to that of the little apes in the trees.
Their name I recall clearly, for it rhymed with that of the river. These
beings of yesterday were called Man."
So the Genie flew back to the thin horned moon, and the Daemon looked
intently at a little ape in a tree that grew in a crumbling courtyard.
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