The Lost Continent

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by Edgar Rice Burroughs

  Produced by Judith Boss. HTML version by Al Haines.

  The Lost Continent was originally published under the title Beyond Thirty



  Edgar Rice Burroughs

  JTABLE 3 9 1


  Since earliest childhood I have been strangely fascinated by themystery surrounding the history of the last days of twentieth centuryEurope. My interest is keenest, perhaps, not so much in relation toknown facts as to speculation upon the unknowable of the two centuriesthat have rolled by since human intercourse between the Western andEastern Hemispheres ceased--the mystery of Europe's state following thetermination of the Great War--provided, of course, that the war hadbeen terminated.

  From out of the meagerness of our censored histories we learned thatfor fifteen years after the cessation of diplomatic relations betweenthe United States of North America and the belligerent nations of theOld World, news of more or less doubtful authenticity filtered, fromtime to time, into the Western Hemisphere from the Eastern.

  Then came the fruition of that historic propaganda which is bestdescribed by its own slogan: "The East for the East--the West for theWest," and all further intercourse was stopped by statute.

  Even prior to this, transoceanic commerce had practically ceased, owingto the perils and hazards of the mine-strewn waters of both theAtlantic and Pacific Oceans. Just when submarine activities ended wedo not know but the last vessel of this type sighted by a Pan-Americanmerchantman was the huge Q 138, which discharged twenty-nine torpedoesat a Brazilian tank steamer off the Bermudas in the fall of 1972. Aheavy sea and the excellent seamanship of the master of the Brazilianpermitted the Pan-American to escape and report this last of a longseries of outrages upon our commerce. God alone knows how manyhundreds of our ancient ships fell prey to the roving steel sharks ofblood-frenzied Europe. Countless were the vessels and men that passedover our eastern and western horizons never to return; but whether theymet their fates before the belching tubes of submarines or among theaimlessly drifting mine fields, no man lived to tell.

  And then came the great Pan-American Federation which linked theWestern Hemisphere from pole to pole under a single flag, which joinedthe navies of the New World into the mightiest fighting force that eversailed the seven seas--the greatest argument for peace the world hadever known.

  Since that day peace had reigned from the western shores of the Azoresto the western shores of the Hawaiian Islands, nor has any man ofeither hemisphere dared cross 30dW. or 175dW. From 30d to 175d isours--from 30d to 175d is peace, prosperity and happiness.

  Beyond was the great unknown. Even the geographies of my boyhoodshowed nothing beyond. We were taught of nothing beyond. Speculationwas discouraged. For two hundred years the Eastern Hemisphere had beenwiped from the maps and histories of Pan-America. Its mention infiction, even, was forbidden.

  Our ships of peace patrol thirty and one hundred seventy-five. Whatships from beyond they have warned only the secret archives ofgovernment show; but, a naval officer myself, I have gathered from thetraditions of the service that it has been fully two hundred yearssince smoke or sail has been sighted east of 30d or west of 175d. Thefate of the relinquished provinces which lay beyond the dead lines wecould only speculate upon. That they were taken by the military power,which rose so suddenly in China after the fall of the republic, andwhich wrested Manchuria and Korea from Russia and Japan, and alsoabsorbed the Philippines, is quite within the range of possibility.

  It was the commander of a Chinese man-of-war who received a copy of theedict of 1972 from the hand of my illustrious ancestor, Admiral Turck,on one hundred seventy-five, two hundred and six years ago, and fromthe yellowed pages of the admiral's diary I learned that the fate ofthe Philippines was even then presaged by these Chinese naval officers.

  Yes, for over two hundred years no man crossed 30d to 175d and lived totell his story--not until chance drew me across and back again, andpublic opinion, revolting at last against the drastic regulations ofour long-dead forbears, demanded that my story be given to the world,and that the narrow interdict which commanded peace, prosperity, andhappiness to halt at 30d and 175d be removed forever.

  I am glad that it was given to me to be an instrument in the hands ofProvidence for the uplifting of benighted Europe, and the ameliorationof the suffering, degradation, and abysmal ignorance in which I foundher.

  I shall not live to see the complete regeneration of the savage hordesof the Eastern Hemisphere--that is a work which will require manygenerations, perhaps ages, so complete has been their reversion tosavagery; but I know that the work has been started, and I am proud ofthe share in it which my generous countrymen have placed in my hands.

  The government already possesses a complete official report of myadventures beyond thirty. In the narrative I purpose telling my storyin a less formal, and I hope, a more entertaining, style; though, beingonly a naval officer and without claim to the slightest literaryability, I shall most certainly fall far short of the possibilitieswhich are inherent in my subject. That I have passed through the mostwondrous adventures that have befallen a civilized man during the pasttwo centuries encourages me in the belief that, however ill thetelling, the facts themselves will command your interest to the finalpage.

  Beyond thirty! Romance, adventure, strange peoples, fearsomebeasts--all the excitement and scurry of the lives of the twentiethcentury ancients that have been denied us in these dull days of peaceand prosaic prosperity--all, all lay beyond thirty, the invisiblebarrier between the stupid, commercial present and the carefree,barbarous past.

  What boy has not sighed for the good old days of wars, revolutions, andriots; how I used to pore over the chronicles of those old days, thosedear old days, when workmen went armed to their labors; when they fellupon one another with gun and bomb and dagger, and the streets ran redwith blood! Ah, but those were the times when life was worth theliving; when a man who went out by night knew not at which dark cornera "footpad" might leap upon and slay him; when wild beasts roamed theforest and the jungles, and there were savage men, and countries yetunexplored.

  Now, in all the Western Hemisphere dwells no man who may not find aschool house within walking distance of his home, or at least withinflying distance.

  The wildest beast that roams our waste places lairs in the frozen northor the frozen south within a government reserve, where the curious mayview him and feed him bread crusts from the hand with perfect impunity.

  But beyond thirty! And I have gone there, and come back; and now youmay go there, for no longer is it high treason, punishable by disgraceor death, to cross 30d or 175d.

  My name is Jefferson Turck. I am a lieutenant in the navy--in thegreat Pan-American navy, the only navy which now exists in all theworld.

  I was born in Arizona, in the United States of North America, in theyear of our Lord 2116. Therefore, I am twenty-one years old.

  In early boyhood I tired of the teeming cities and overcrowded ruraldistricts of Arizona. Every generation of Turcks for over twocenturies has been represented in the navy. The navy called to me, asdid the free, wide, unpeopled spaces of the mighty oceans. And so Ijoined the navy, coming up from the ranks, as we all must, learning ourcraft as we advance. My promotion was rapid, for my family seems toinherit naval lore. We are born officers, and I reserve to myself nospecial credit for an early advancement in the service.

  At twenty I found myself a lieutenant in command of the aero-submarineColdwater, of the SS-96 class. The Coldwater was one of the first ofthe air and underwater craft which have been so greatly improved sinceits launching, and was possessed of innumerable weaknesses which,fortunately, have been eliminated in more recent vessels of similartyp

  Even when I took command, she was fit only for the junk pile; but theworld-old parsimony of government retained her in active service, andsent two hundred men to sea in her, with myself, a mere boy, in commandof her, to patrol thirty from Iceland to the Azores.

  Much of my service had been spent aboard the great merchantmen-of-war.These are the utility naval vessels that have transformed the navies ofold, which burdened the peoples with taxes for their support, into thepresent day fleets of self-supporting ships that find ample time fortarget practice and gun drill while they bear freight and the mailsfrom the continents to the far-scattered island of Pan-America.

  This change in service was most welcome to me, especially as it broughtwith it coveted responsibilities of sole command, and I was prone tooverlook the deficiencies of the Coldwater in the natural pride I feltin my first ship.

  The Coldwater was fully equipped for two months' patrolling--theordinary length of assignment to this service--and a month had alreadypassed, its monotony entirely unrelieved by sight of another craft,when the first of our misfortunes befell.

  We had been riding out a storm at an altitude of about three thousandfeet. All night we had hovered above the tossing billows of themoonlight clouds. The detonation of the thunder and the glare oflightning through an occasional rift in the vaporous wall proclaimedthe continued fury of the tempest upon the surface of the sea; but we,far above it all, rode in comparative ease upon the upper gale. Withthe coming of dawn the clouds beneath us became a glorious sea of goldand silver, soft and beautiful; but they could not deceive us as to theblackness and the terrors of the storm-lashed ocean which they hid.

  I was at breakfast when my chief engineer entered and saluted. Hisface was grave, and I thought he was even a trifle paler than usual.

  "Well?" I asked.

  He drew the back of his forefinger nervously across his brow in agesture that was habitual with him in moments of mental stress.

  "The gravitation-screen generators, sir," he said. "Number one went tothe bad about an hour and a half ago. We have been working upon itsteadily since; but I have to report, sir, that it is beyond repair."

  "Number two will keep us supplied," I answered. "In the meantime wewill send a wireless for relief."

  "But that is the trouble, sir," he went on. "Number two has stopped.I knew it would come, sir. I made a report on these generators threeyears ago. I advised then that they both be scrapped. Their principleis entirely wrong. They're done for." And, with a grim smile, "Ishall at least have the satisfaction of knowing my report was accurate."

  "Have we sufficient reserve screen to permit us to make land, or, atleast, meet our relief halfway?" I asked.

  "No, sir," he replied gravely; "we are sinking now."

  "Have you anything further to report?" I asked.

  "No, sir," he said.

  "Very good," I replied; and, as I dismissed him, I rang for my wirelessoperator. When he appeared, I gave him a message to the secretary ofthe navy, to whom all vessels in service on thirty and one hundredseventy-five report direct. I explained our predicament, and statedthat with what screening force remained I should continue in the air,making as rapid headway toward St. Johns as possible, and that when wewere forced to take to the water I should continue in the samedirection.

  The accident occurred directly over 30d and about 52d N. The surfacewind was blowing a tempest from the west. To attempt to ride out sucha storm upon the surface seemed suicidal, for the Coldwater was notdesigned for surface navigation except under fair weather conditions.Submerged, or in the air, she was tractable enough in any sort ofweather when under control; but without her screen generators she wasalmost helpless, since she could not fly, and, if submerged, could notrise to the surface.

  All these defects have been remedied in later models; but the knowledgedid not help us any that day aboard the slowly settling Coldwater, withan angry sea roaring beneath, a tempest raging out of the west, and 30donly a few knots astern.

  To cross thirty or one hundred seventy-five has been, as you know, thedirest calamity that could befall a naval commander. Court-martial anddegradation follow swiftly, unless as is often the case, theunfortunate man takes his own life before this unjust and heartlessregulation can hold him up to public scorn.

  There has been in the past no excuse, no circumstance, that couldpalliate the offense.

  "He was in command, and he took his ship across thirty!" That wassufficient. It might not have been in any way his fault, as, in thecase of the Coldwater, it could not possibly have been justly chargedto my account that the gravitation-screen generators were worthless;but well I knew that should chance have it that we were blown acrossthirty today--as we might easily be before the terrific west wind thatwe could hear howling below us, the responsibility would fall upon myshoulders.

  In a way, the regulation was a good one, for it certainly accomplishedthat for which it was intended. We all fought shy of 30d on the eastand 175d on the west, and, though we had to skirt them pretty close,nothing but an act of God ever drew one of us across. You all arefamiliar with the naval tradition that a good officer could senseproximity to either line, and for my part, I am firmly convinced of thetruth of this as I am that the compass finds the north without recourseto tedious processes of reasoning.

  Old Admiral Sanchez was wont to maintain that he could smell thirty,and the men of the first ship in which I sailed claimed that Coburn,the navigating officer, knew by name every wave along thirty from 60dS. However, I'd hate to vouch for this.

  Well, to get back to my narrative; we kept on dropping slowly towardthe surface the while we bucked the west wind, clawing away from thirtyas fast as we could. I was on the bridge, and as we dropped from thebrilliant sunlight into the dense vapor of clouds and on down throughthem to the wild, dark storm strata beneath, it seemed that my spiritsdropped with the falling ship, and the buoyancy of hope ran low insympathy.

  The waves were running to tremendous heights, and the Coldwater was notdesigned to meet such waves head on. Her elements were the blue ether,far above the raging storm, or the greater depths of ocean, which nostorm could ruffle.

  As I stood speculating upon our chances once we settled into thefrightful Maelstrom beneath us and at the same time mentally computingthe hours which must elapse before aid could reach us, the wirelessoperator clambered up the ladder to the bridge, and, disheveled andbreathless, stood before me at salute. It needed but a glance at himto assure me that something was amiss.

  "What now?" I asked.

  "The wireless, sir!" he cried. "My God, sir, I cannot send."

  "But the emergency outfit?" I asked.

  "I have tried everything, sir. I have exhausted every resource. Wecannot send," and he drew himself up and saluted again.

  I dismissed him with a few kind words, for I knew that it was throughno fault of his that the mechanism was antiquated and worthless, incommon with the balance of the Coldwater's equipment. There was nofiner operator in Pan-America than he.

  The failure of the wireless did not appear as momentous to me as tohim, which is not unnatural, since it is but human to feel that whenour own little cog slips, the entire universe must necessarily be putout of gear. I knew that if this storm were destined to blow us acrossthirty, or send us to the bottom of the ocean, no help could reach usin time to prevent it. I had ordered the message sent solely becauseregulations required it, and not with any particular hope that we couldbenefit by it in our present extremity.

  I had little time to dwell upon the coincidence of the simultaneousfailure of the wireless and the buoyancy generators, since very shortlyafter the Coldwater had dropped so low over the waters that all myattention was necessarily centered upon the delicate business ofsettling upon the waves without breaking my ship's back. With ourbuoyancy generators in commission it would have been a simple thing toenter the water, since then it would have been but a trifling matter ofa forty-five degree dive into the base of a huge
wave. We should havecut into the water like a hot knife through butter, and have beentotally submerged with scarce a jar--I have done it a thousandtimes--but I did not dare submerge the Coldwater for fear that it wouldremain submerged to the end of time--a condition far from conducive tothe longevity of commander or crew.

  Most of my officers were older men than I. John Alvarez, my firstofficer, is twenty years my senior. He stood at my side on the bridgeas the ship glided closer and closer to those stupendous waves. Hewatched my every move, but he was by far too fine an officer andgentleman to embarrass me by either comment or suggestion.

  When I saw that we soon would touch, I ordered the ship brought aroundbroadside to the wind, and there we hovered a moment until a huge wavereached up and seized us upon its crest, and then I gave the order thatsuddenly reversed the screening force, and let us into the ocean. Downinto the trough we went, wallowing like the carcass of a dead whale,and then began the fight, with rudder and propellers, to force theColdwater back into the teeth of the gale and drive her on and on,farther and farther from relentless thirty.

  I think that we should have succeeded, even though the ship was wrackedfrom stem to stern by the terrific buffetings she received, and thoughshe were half submerged the greater part of the time, had no furtheraccident befallen us.

  We were making headway, though slowly, and it began to look as thoughwe were going to pull through. Alvarez never left my side, though Iall but ordered him below for much-needed rest. My second officer,Porfirio Johnson, was also often on the bridge. He was a good officer,but a man for whom I had conceived a rather unreasoning aversion almostat the first moment of meeting him, an aversion which was not lessenedby the knowledge which I subsequently gained that he looked upon myrapid promotion with jealousy. He was ten years my senior both inyears and service, and I rather think he could never forget the factthat he had been an officer when I was a green apprentice.

  As it became more and more apparent that the Coldwater, under myseamanship, was weathering the tempest and giving promise of pullingthrough safely, I could have sworn that I perceived a shade ofannoyance and disappointment growing upon his dark countenance. Heleft the bridge finally and went below. I do not know that he isdirectly responsible for what followed so shortly after; but I havealways had my suspicions, and Alvarez is even more prone to place theblame upon him than I.

  It was about six bells of the forenoon watch that Johnson returned tothe bridge after an absence of some thirty minutes. He seemed nervousand ill at ease--a fact which made little impression on me at the time,but which both Alvarez and I recalled subsequently.

  Not three minutes after his reappearance at my side the Coldwatersuddenly commenced to lose headway. I seized the telephone at myelbow, pressing upon the button which would call the chief engineer tothe instrument in the bowels of the ship, only to find him already atthe receiver attempting to reach me.

  "Numbers one, two, and five engines have broken down, sir," he called."Shall we force the remaining three?"

  "We can do nothing else," I bellowed into the transmitter.

  "They won't stand the gaff, sir," he returned.

  "Can you suggest a better plan?" I asked.

  "No, sir," he replied.

  "Then give them the gaff, lieutenant," I shouted back, and hung up thereceiver.

  For twenty minutes the Coldwater bucked the great seas with her threeengines. I doubt if she advanced a foot; but it was enough to keep hernose in the wind, and, at least, we were not drifting toward thirty.

  Johnson and Alvarez were at my side when, without warning, the bowswung swiftly around and the ship fell into the trough of the sea.

  "The other three have gone," I said, and I happened to be looking atJohnson as I spoke. Was it the shadow of a satisfied smile thatcrossed his thin lips? I do not know; but at least he did not weep.

  "You always have been curious, sir, about the great unknown beyondthirty," he said. "You are in a good way to have your curiositysatisfied." And then I could not mistake the slight sneer that curvedhis upper lip. There must have been a trace of disrespect in his toneor manner which escaped me, for Alvarez turned upon him like a flash.

  "When Lieutenant Turck crosses thirty," he said, "we shall all crosswith him, and God help the officer or the man who reproaches him!"

  "I shall not be a party to high treason," snapped Johnson. "Theregulations are explicit, and if the Coldwater crosses thirty itdevolves upon you to place Lieutenant Turck under arrest andimmediately exert every endeavor to bring the ship back intoPan-American waters."

  "I shall not know," replied Alvarez, "that the Coldwater passes thirty;nor shall any other man aboard know it," and, with his words, he drew arevolver from his pocket, and before either I or Johnson could preventit had put a bullet into every instrument upon the bridge, ruining thembeyond repair.

  And then he saluted me, and strode from the bridge, a martyr to loyaltyand friendship, for, though no man might know that Lieutenant JeffersonTurck had taken his ship across thirty, every man aboard would knowthat the first officer had committed a crime that was punishable byboth degradation and death. Johnson turned and eyed me narrowly.

  "Shall I place him under arrest?" he asked.

  "You shall not," I replied. "Nor shall anyone else."

  "You become a party to his crime!" he cried angrily.

  "You may go below, Mr. Johnson," I said, "and attend to the work ofunpacking the extra instruments and having them properly set upon thebridge."

  He saluted, and left me, and for some time I stood, gazing out upon theangry waters, my mind filled with unhappy reflections upon the unjustfate that had overtaken me, and the sorrow and disgrace that I hadunwittingly brought down upon my house.

  I rejoiced that I should leave neither wife nor child to bear theburden of my shame throughout their lives.

  As I thought upon my misfortune, I considered more clearly than everbefore the unrighteousness of the regulation which was to prove mydoom, and in the natural revolt against its injustice my anger rose,and there mounted within me a feeling which I imagine must haveparalleled that spirit that once was prevalent among the ancientscalled anarchy.

  For the first time in my life I found my sentiments arraying themselvesagainst custom, tradition, and even government. The wave of rebellionswept over me in an instant, beginning with an heretical doubt as tothe sanctity of the established order of things--that fetish which hasruled Pan-Americans for two centuries, and which is based upon a blindfaith in the infallibility of the prescience of the long-dead framersof the articles of Pan-American federation--and ending in an adamantinedetermination to defend my honor and my life to the last ditch againstthe blind and senseless regulation which assumed the synonymity ofmisfortune and treason.

  I would replace the destroyed instruments upon the bridge; everyofficer and man should know when we crossed thirty. But then I shouldassert the spirit which dominated me, I should resist arrest, andinsist upon bringing my ship back across the dead line, remaining at mypost until we had reached New York. Then I should make a full report,and with it a demand upon public opinion that the dead lines be wipedforever from the seas.

  I knew that I was right. I knew that no more loyal officer wore theuniform of the navy. I knew that I was a good officer and sailor, andI didn't propose submitting to degradation and discharge because a lotof old, preglacial fossils had declared over two hundred years beforethat no man should cross thirty.

  Even while these thoughts were passing through my mind I was busy withthe details of my duties. I had seen to it that a sea anchor wasrigged, and even now the men had completed their task, and theColdwater was swinging around rapidly, her nose pointing once more intothe wind, and the frightful rolling consequent upon her wallowing inthe trough was happily diminishing.

  It was then that Johnson came hurrying to the bridge. One of his eyeswas swollen and already darkening, and his lip was cut and bleeding.Without even the formality of a salute, he burst upo
n me, white withfury.

  "Lieutenant Alvarez attacked me!" he cried. "I demand that he beplaced under arrest. I found him in the act of destroying the reserveinstruments, and when I would have interfered to protect them he fellupon me and beat me. I demand that you arrest him!"

  "You forget yourself, Mr. Johnson," I said. "You are not in command ofthe ship. I deplore the action of Lieutenant Alvarez, but I cannotexpunge from my mind the loyalty and self-sacrificing friendship whichhas prompted him to his acts. Were I you, sir, I should profit by theexample he has set. Further, Mr. Johnson, I intend retaining commandof the ship, even though she crosses thirty, and I shall demandimplicit obedience from every officer and man aboard until I amproperly relieved from duty by a superior officer in the port of NewYork."

  "You mean to say that you will cross thirty without submitting toarrest?" he almost shouted.

  "I do, sir," I replied. "And now you may go below, and, when again youfind it necessary to address me, you will please be so good as to bearin mind the fact that I am your commanding officer, and as suchentitled to a salute."

  He flushed, hesitated a moment, and then, saluting, turned upon hisheel and left the bridge. Shortly after, Alvarez appeared. He waspale, and seemed to have aged ten years in the few brief minutes sinceI last had seen him. Saluting, he told me very simply what he haddone, and asked that I place him under arrest.

  I put my hand on his shoulder, and I guess that my voice trembled atrifle as, while reproving him for his act, I made it plain to him thatmy gratitude was no less potent a force than his loyalty to me. Thenit was that I outlined to him my purpose to defy the regulation thathad raised the dead lines, and to take my ship back to New York myself.

  I did not ask him to share the responsibility with me. I merely statedthat I should refuse to submit to arrest, and that I should demand ofhim and every other officer and man implicit obedience to my everycommand until we docked at home.

  His face brightened at my words, and he assured me that I would findhim as ready to acknowledge my command upon the wrong side of thirty asupon the right, an assurance which I hastened to tell him I did notneed.

  The storm continued to rage for three days, and as far as the windscarce varied a point during all that time, I knew that we must be farbeyond thirty, drifting rapidly east by south. All this time it hadbeen impossible to work upon the damaged engines or the gravity-screengenerators; but we had a full set of instruments upon the bridge, forAlvarez, after discovering my intentions, had fetched the reserveinstruments from his own cabin, where he had hidden them. Those whichJohnson had seen him destroy had been a third set which only Alvarezhad known was aboard the Coldwater.

  We waited impatiently for the sun, that we might determine our exactlocation, and upon the fourth day our vigil was rewarded a few minutesbefore noon.

  Every officer and man aboard was tense with nervous excitement as weawaited the result of the reading. The crew had known almost as soonas I that we were doomed to cross thirty, and I am inclined to believethat every man jack of them was tickled to death, for the spirits ofadventure and romance still live in the hearts of men of thetwenty-second century, even though there be little for them to feedupon between thirty and one hundred seventy-five.

  The men carried none of the burdens of responsibility. They mightcross thirty with impunity, and doubtless they would return to beheroes at home; but how different the home-coming of their commandingofficer!

  The wind had dropped to a steady blow, still from west by north, andthe sea had gone down correspondingly. The crew, with the exception ofthose whose duties kept them below, were ranged on deck below thebridge. When our position was definitely fixed I personally announcedit to the eager, waiting men.

  "Men," I said, stepping forward to the handrail and looking down intotheir upturned, bronzed faces, "you are anxiously awaiting informationas to the ship's position. It has been determined at latitude fiftydegrees seven minutes north, longitude twenty degrees sixteen minuteswest."

  I paused and a buzz of animated comment ran through the massed menbeneath me. "Beyond thirty. But there will be no change in commandingofficers, in routine or in discipline, until after we have docked againin New York."

  As I ceased speaking and stepped back from the rail there was a roar ofapplause from the deck such as I never before had heard aboard a shipof peace. It recalled to my mind tales that I had read of the good olddays when naval vessels were built to fight, when ships of peace hadbeen man-of-war, and guns had flashed in other than futile targetpractice, and decks had run red with blood.

  With the subsistence of the sea, we were able to go to work upon thedamaged engines to some effect, and I also set men to examining thegravitation-screen generators with a view to putting them in workingorder should it prove not beyond our resources.

  For two weeks we labored at the engines, which indisputably showedevidence of having been tampered with. I appointed a board toinvestigate and report upon the disaster. But it accomplished nothingother than to convince me that there were several officers upon it whowere in full sympathy with Johnson, for, though no charges had beenpreferred against him, the board went out of its way specifically toexonerate him in its findings.

  All this time we were drifting almost due east. The work upon theengines had progressed to such an extent that within a few hours wemight expect to be able to proceed under our own power westward in thedirection of Pan-American waters.

  To relieve the monotony I had taken to fishing, and early that morningI had departed from the Coldwater in one of the boats on such anexcursion. A gentle west wind was blowing. The sea shimmered in thesunlight. A cloudless sky canopied the west for our sport, as I hadmade it a point never voluntarily to make an inch toward the east thatI could avoid. At least, they should not be able to charge me with awillful violation of the dead lines regulation.

  I had with me only the boat's ordinary complement of men--three in all,and more than enough to handle any small power boat. I had not askedany of my officers to accompany me, as I wished to be alone, and veryglad am I now that I had not. My only regret is that, in view of whatbefell us, it had been necessary to bring the three brave fellows whomanned the boat.

  Our fishing, which proved excellent, carried us so far to the west thatwe no longer could see the Coldwater. The day wore on, until at last,about mid-afternoon, I gave the order to return to the ship.

  We had proceeded but a short distance toward the east when one of themen gave an exclamation of excitement, at the same time pointingeastward. We all looked on in the direction he had indicated, andthere, a short distance above the horizon, we saw the outlines of theColdwater silhouetted against the sky.

  "They've repaired the engines and the generators both," exclaimed oneof the men.

  It seemed impossible, but yet it had evidently been done. Only thatmorning, Lieutenant Johnson had told me that he feared that it would beimpossible to repair the generators. I had put him in charge of thiswork, since he always had been accounted one of the bestgravitation-screen men in the navy. He had invented several of theimprovements that are incorporated in the later models of thesegenerators, and I am convinced that he knows more concerning both thetheory and the practice of screening gravitation than any livingPan-American.

  At the sight of the Coldwater once more under control, the three menburst into a glad cheer. But, for some reason which I could not thenaccount, I was strangely overcome by a premonition of personalmisfortune. It was not that I now anticipated an early return toPan-America and a board of inquiry, for I had rather looked forward tothe fight that must follow my return. No, there was something else,something indefinable and vague that cast a strange gloom upon me as Isaw my ship rising farther above the water and making straight in ourdirection.

  I was not long in ascertaining a possible explanation of my depression,for, though we were plainly visible from the bridge of theaero-submarine and to the hundreds of men who swarmed her deck, theship passe
d directly above us, not five hundred feet from the water,and sped directly westward.

  We all shouted, and I fired my pistol to attract their attention,though I knew full well that all who cared to had observed us, but theship moved steadily away, growing smaller and smaller to our view untilat last she passed completely out of sight.


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