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AVU

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SUMMARY :

The story is set on an observatory at Avu, in Borneo, situated on the peak of a mountain. The old crater is at its north and at the foot of the mountain is the tropical forest. The small dwelling place in which Thaddy, the observer live with his assistant Woodhouse, is approximately fifty yards away from the observatory, and beyond this are the cabins of their native Dyke attendants. The day on which the story is set, Thaddy the chief observer was having fever. Hence, his assistant, Woodhouse, was all alone to make a visit to the observatory. It was a quiet night and hence the laughter from the native cabins as well of the scream of animals was noticeably audible. Besides these sounds the nocturnal insects stirred around like phantoms. To secure himself from their attack, Woodhouse smeared ointment in his hands and face. He also carried a lantern in his hand in order to reach safely into his destination.

However, the observatory is cylindrical in shape, with “a very high hemispherical roof capable of being turned round from the interior “. The telescope inside is supported upon a stone pillar in the center. Besides, the clockwork arrangement facilitates the viewers to have a continuous view on the star, “once found”. Woodhouse’s lantern flared as he moved into the observatory. But, after a while it went out thereby restoring the general advise of keeping the observatory as dark as possible, so as to “enhance the brilliance of the stars observed “. Woodhouse adjusting his telescope caught the sight of the little group of stars in the milky way. He was so mesmerized with the brilliant  colour, it seemed as if he forgot his earthly existence. The complete attention of Woodhouse was concentrated upon the great blue circle of the telescope field. And it seemed to him as if he was floating in the space. Suddenly the stars were covered by a mysterious blackness, which passed them as quickly as a flash of lightning.

Woodhouse was full of amazement as he thought it to be a bird. The thing happened recurrently. The dome of the observatory resonated with a series of thundering blows. Indeed what was discernible at a first impression was that some huge black shaped thing was disrupting his view of the milky way. But then where it was? Was it inside the observatory or outside? It was big, whatever else it might be Woodhouse trembled with fear noticing the enormous creature inside the observatory. He stood for a minute in a stupefaction, as the bird inactivated his sense. Indeed, no one can have the sense active in him when such a collosal bird hovers a few yards from his face.

Woodhouse concluded that it must be some night-bat or large bat. He is determined to discover its identity. Hence, he lighted a match and saw a vast wing near him. Even its grey brown fur was visible. The bird wounded him in a major way. Woodhouse fell down. He heard the extinguished lantern smash, and felt his blood coming out of his face. Not knowing what to do, he tried to crawl under the protection the telescope for protection. But to no avail. Again he was struck upon the back. He moved as far as he could between the wooden seat and the eyepiece of the instrument and turned round his body so that his feet  were chiefly exposed. With these he could at least kick the beast. But, the strange beast held the telescope tightly and moved it. When it flapped near the wounded Woodhouse, the latter kicked out madly and felt a soft body with his feet. He was terrified and screamed for help.

At this the enormous creature came down upon him again. And at the same moment his hand touched something that lay beside him on the floor. He kicked out, but within moments the mysterious creature held his ankle “by a row of keen teeth”. He screamed again and endeavouring to free his legs, he realised that he had broken a water bottle. He snatched it out and struggle to be seated. He felt towards his foot a velvety ear, like the ear of an enormous cat. Trembling with fear he then “crashed upon the head of the strange beast”, his broken water bottle. He continued stabbing and finally, managed to free his leg from the devilish clutch of the beast. There was a pause. Woodhouse then heard sound of the claws as well as sound of the retreating of the enormous body. He was sobbing amidst the darkness and was haunted by the thought of whether “the thing was coming on again”. He strived to lit a match. But to no avail, since the floor was wet. The strange beast, disturbed by the spark of light, began to move again. But, it did not come to Woodhouse, who felt a severe pain in his ankle. He was bleeding there. The night outside was silent and dark. Woodhouse fumbled to find the door by the position of the star. But, finally he fainted. And on waking up, he saw one of the Dyak servants “looking at him with a curious expression “, amidst the broad day light. Even Thaddy was there holding his head on his knee. He was giving the wounded Woodhouse brandy. Moreover his ankle was tied up and Woodhouse could see the mess inside the observatory – the smashed glass lay about the floor the seat of the telescope was overturned.

Woodhouse wanted to know who it was he fought with in the observatory, last night. According to Woodhouse, the creature resembled a big bat than anything else in the world. He described the creature as having sharp , short ears, and soft fur. In addition, its wings were leathery and teeth were little but sharp. Finally, he is let known of the big Colugo or a flying lemur which might have attacked him last night. He was informed that the beast does not generally attack man, but it might have happened that Woodhouse made it nervous and hence, it was compelled to launch an attack on him. According to Woodhouse many strange things occur in this world of which we actually do not have any knowledge. Even Thaddy confirms him saying  that specially in the forest of Borneo that such peculiar creatures live.

 

 WELLS CREATES A SENSE OF MYSTERY :

Wells’ Avu Observatory is a brilliant story which creates a sensational effect, emerging out of the darkness all around the observatory, where Woodhouse is at war with a mysterious creature. The story all throughout holds the reader with its enigmatic ambience inside the observatory. The reader feels relieved when finally Woodhouse returns alive from the observatory, after fighting the whole night with a creature he could hardly guess amidst the depth of the darkness.

To begin with, the scenario all around the observatory is mysterious. It was a still night and thus the laughter from the native huts as well of the cry of animals was distinctly audible. Besides the nocturnal insects moved around like ghosts. Amidst such a mysterious scenario, which creates a sense of awe, Woodhouse was all alone to make a visit to the observatory. His lantern flared as he moved into the observatory as dark as possible, so as to enhance the brilliance of the stars observed. Woodhouse adjusting his telescope caught the sight of the little group of stars in the milky way. He was so mesmerized with the brilliant colour, it seemed as if he forgot his earthly existence. Suddenly the stars were covered by a mysterious blackness, which passed them as quickly as a flash of lightning.

At a first impression Woodhouse thought it to be an enormous bird, disrupting his view of the milky way, but then where it was? Was it inside the observatory or outside? It was big whatever else it might be. Woodhouse trembled with fear noticing the enormous creature inside the observatory. He stood for a minute in a state of stupefaction, as the bird inactivated his sense. He concluded that it must be some night-bird or a large bat. He was determined to discover its identity. Hence, he lighted a match and saw a vast wing nearing him. Even its grey brown fur was visible. The creature wounded him in a major way. Woodhouse fell down. The extinguished lantern smashed and he felt his blood coming out of his face. Finding no way out, he crawled under the protection of the telescope but to no avail. He again struck upon the back. He edged as far as he could between the wooden seat and the eyepiece of the instrument and turned his body round so that it was chiefly his feet that were exposed. With these he could at least kick the beast but the strange beast held the telescope tightly and moved it. When the creature flapped near the wounded Woodhouse, the latter kicked out madly and felt a soft body with his feet. He was terrified and screamed for help.

The enormous creature came down upon him again. He kicked it but the mysterious creature held his ankle by a row of sharp teeth. He screamed again and endeavouring to free his legs, he realised that he had broken a water bottle. He felt towards his foot a velvety cat like ear. He snatched the broken bottle and struggled to sit. Trembling with fear, he then crashed upon the head of the strange beast the broken water bottle. He continued stabbing and finally managed to free his leg from the devilish clutch of the beast. There was a pause. Woodhouse then heard the sound of the retreating of the enormous body. Woodhouse was sobbing amidst the darkness and was haunted by the thought of whether the creature was coming on again. He strived to lit a match but to no avail, since the floor was wet. The strange beast, disturbed by the spark of light, began to move again but it did not come to Woodhouse, who felt a severe pain in his ankle. He was bleeding there. The night outside was silent and dark. Woodhouse fumbled to find the door. Even he tried to set the direction of the door by the position of the star but finally, he fainted.

Throughout the story Wells maintains an atmosphere of mystery, in the setting as well as in the plot. The readers wait breathtakingly to see if Woodhouse could save himself from the attack of the mysterious creature and come out alive from the observatory. Nowhere in the story has Wells given a clear indication of the creature that had attacked Woodhouse in the observatory. Very well the outside atmosphere has been blended with the plot to create a complete mysterious environment that was kept till last.

 

 

 

 

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