Part 1 out of 2
Created by Judith Boss, Omaha, Nebraska
The Land that Time Forgot
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
It must have been a little after three o'clock in the afternoon
that it happened--the afternoon of June 3rd, 1916. It seems
incredible that all that I have passed through--all those weird
and terrifying experiences--should have been encompassed within
so short a span as three brief months. Rather might I have
experienced a cosmic cycle, with all its changes and evolutions
for that which I have seen with my own eyes in this brief
interval of time--things that no other mortal eye had seen
before, glimpses of a world past, a world dead, a world so
long dead that even in the lowest Cambrian stratum no trace of
it remains. Fused with the melting inner crust, it has passed
forever beyond the ken of man other than in that lost pocket of
the earth whither fate has borne me and where my doom is sealed.
I am here and here must remain.
After reading this far, my interest, which already had been
stimulated by the finding of the manuscript, was approaching
the boiling-point. I had come to Greenland for the summer, on the
advice of my physician, and was slowly being bored to extinction,
as I had thoughtlessly neglected to bring sufficient reading-matter.
Being an indifferent fisherman, my enthusiasm for this form of
sport soon waned; yet in the absence of other forms of recreation
I was now risking my life in an entirely inadequate boat off Cape
Farewell at the southernmost extremity of Greenland.
Greenland! As a descriptive appellation, it is a sorry joke--but my
story has nothing to do with Greenland, nothing to do with me; so I
shall get through with the one and the other as rapidly as possible.
The inadequate boat finally arrived at a precarious landing, the
natives, waist-deep in the surf, assisting. I was carried ashore,
and while the evening meal was being prepared, I wandered to and
fro along the rocky, shattered shore. Bits of surf-harried
beach clove the worn granite, or whatever the rocks of Cape
Farewell may be composed of, and as I followed the ebbing tide
down one of these soft stretches, I saw the thing. Were one
to bump into a Bengal tiger in the ravine behind the Bimini
Baths, one could be no more surprised than was I to see a
perfectly good quart thermos bottle turning and twisting in the
surf of Cape Farewell at the southern extremity of Greenland.
I rescued it, but I was soaked above the knees doing it; and then
I sat down in the sand and opened it, and in the long twilight
read the manuscript, neatly written and tightly folded, which was
You have read the opening paragraph, and if you are an imaginative
idiot like myself, you will want to read the rest of it; so I shall
give it to you here, omitting quotation marks--which are difficult
of remembrance. In two minutes you will forget me.
My home is in Santa Monica. I am, or was, junior member of my
father's firm. We are ship-builders. Of recent years we have
specialized on submarines, which we have built for Germany,
England, France and the United States. I know a sub as a mother
knows her baby's face, and have commanded a score of them on
their trial runs. Yet my inclinations were all toward aviation.
I graduated under Curtiss, and after a long siege with my father
obtained his permission to try for the Lafayette Escadrille. As a
stepping-stone I obtained an appointment in the American ambulance
service and was on my way to France when three shrill whistles
altered, in as many seconds, my entire scheme of life.
I was sitting on deck with some of the fellows who were going
into the American ambulance service with me, my Airedale, Crown
Prince Nobbler, asleep at my feet, when the first blast of the
whistle shattered the peace and security of the ship. Ever since
entering the U-boat zone we had been on the lookout for periscopes,
and children that we were, bemoaning the unkind fate that was to
see us safely into France on the morrow without a glimpse of the
dread marauders. We were young; we craved thrills, and God knows
we got them that day; yet by comparison with that through which I
have since passed they were as tame as a Punch-and-Judy show.
I shall never forget the ashy faces of the passengers as they
stampeded for their life-belts, though there was no panic.
Nobs rose with a low growl. I rose, also, and over the ship's
side, I saw not two hundred yards distant the periscope of a
submarine, while racing toward the liner the wake of a torpedo
was distinctly visible. We were aboard an American ship--which,
of course, was not armed. We were entirely defenseless; yet
without warning, we were being torpedoed.
I stood rigid, spellbound, watching the white wake of the torpedo.
It struck us on the starboard side almost amidships. The vessel
rocked as though the sea beneath it had been uptorn by a mighty volcano.
We were thrown to the decks, bruised and stunned, and then above
the ship, carrying with it fragments of steel and wood and
dismembered human bodies, rose a column of water hundreds of feet
into the air.
The silence which followed the detonation of the exploding torpedo
was almost equally horrifying. It lasted for perhaps two seconds,
to be followed by the screams and moans of the wounded, the cursing
of the men and the hoarse commands of the ship's officers. They were
splendid--they and their crew. Never before had I been so proud of
my nationality as I was that moment. In all the chaos which followed
the torpedoing of the liner no officer or member of the crew lost his
head or showed in the slightest any degree of panic or fear.
While we were attempting to lower boats, the submarine emerged
and trained guns on us. The officer in command ordered us to
lower our flag, but this the captain of the liner refused to do.
The ship was listing frightfully to starboard, rendering the port
boats useless, while half the starboard boats had been demolished
by the explosion. Even while the passengers were crowding the
starboard rail and scrambling into the few boats left to us, the
submarine commenced shelling the ship. I saw one shell burst in
a group of women and children, and then I turned my head and
covered my eyes.
When I looked again to horror was added chagrin, for with the
emerging of the U-boat I had recognized her as a product of
our own shipyard. I knew her to a rivet. I had superintended
her construction. I had sat in that very conning-tower and
directed the efforts of the sweating crew below when first her
prow clove the sunny summer waters of the Pacific; and now this
creature of my brain and hand had turned Frankenstein, bent upon
pursuing me to my death.
A second shell exploded upon the deck. One of the lifeboats,
frightfully overcrowded, swung at a dangerous angle from its davits.
A fragment of the shell shattered the bow tackle, and I saw the
women and children and the men vomited into the sea beneath,
while the boat dangled stern up for a moment from its single
davit, and at last with increasing momentum dived into the midst
of the struggling victims screaming upon the face of the waters.
Now I saw men spring to the rail and leap into the ocean. The deck
was tilting to an impossible angle. Nobs braced himself with all
four feet to keep from slipping into the scuppers and looked up
into my face with a questioning whine. I stooped and stroked
"Come on, boy!" I cried, and running to the side of the ship,
dived headforemost over the rail. When I came up, the first
thing I saw was Nobs swimming about in a bewildered sort of way
a few yards from me. At sight of me his ears went flat, and his
lips parted in a characteristic grin.
The submarine was withdrawing toward the north, but all the time
it was shelling the open boats, three of them, loaded to the
gunwales with survivors. Fortunately the small boats presented
a rather poor target, which, combined with the bad marksmanship
of the Germans preserved their occupants from harm; and after a
few minutes a blotch of smoke appeared upon the eastern horizon
and the U-boat submerged and disappeared.
All the time the lifeboats has been pulling away from the danger
of the sinking liner, and now, though I yelled at the top of my
lungs, they either did not hear my appeals for help or else did
not dare return to succor me. Nobs and I had gained some little
distance from the ship when it rolled completely over and sank.
We were caught in the suction only enough to be drawn backward
a few yards, neither of us being carried beneath the surface.
I glanced hurriedly about for something to which to cling.
My eyes were directed toward the point at which the liner had
disappeared when there came from the depths of the ocean the
muffled reverberation of an explosion, and almost simultaneously
a geyser of water in which were shattered lifeboats, human bodies,
steam, coal, oil, and the flotsam of a liner's deck leaped high
above the surface of the sea--a watery column momentarily marking
the grave of another ship in this greatest cemetery of the seas.
When the turbulent waters had somewhat subsided and the sea had
ceased to spew up wreckage, I ventured to swim back in search of
something substantial enough to support my weight and that of
Nobs as well. I had gotten well over the area of the wreck when
not a half-dozen yards ahead of me a lifeboat shot bow foremost
out of the ocean almost its entire length to flop down upon its
keel with a mighty splash. It must have been carried far below,
held to its mother ship by a single rope which finally parted to
the enormous strain put upon it. In no other way can I account
for its having leaped so far out of the water--a beneficent
circumstance to which I doubtless owe my life, and that of
another far dearer to me than my own. I say beneficent
circumstance even in the face of the fact that a fate far more
hideous confronts us than that which we escaped that day; for
because of that circumstance I have met her whom otherwise I
never should have known; I have met and loved her. At least I
have had that great happiness in life; nor can Caspak, with all
her horrors, expunge that which has been.
So for the thousandth time I thank the strange fate which sent
that lifeboat hurtling upward from the green pit of destruction
to which it had been dragged--sent it far up above the surface,
emptying its water as it rose above the waves, and dropping it
upon the surface of the sea, buoyant and safe.
It did not take me long to clamber over its side and drag Nobs in
to comparative safety, and then I glanced around upon the scene
of death and desolation which surrounded us. The sea was
littered with wreckage among which floated the pitiful forms
of women and children, buoyed up by their useless lifebelts.
Some were torn and mangled; others lay rolling quietly to the
motion of the sea, their countenances composed and peaceful;
others were set in hideous lines of agony or horror. Close to
the boat's side floated the figure of a girl. Her face was
turned upward, held above the surface by her life-belt, and was
framed in a floating mass of dark and waving hair. She was
very beautiful. I had never looked upon such perfect features,
such a divine molding which was at the same time human--
intensely human. It was a face filled with character and
strength and femininity--the face of one who was created to
love and to be loved. The cheeks were flushed to the hue of
life and health and vitality, and yet she lay there upon the
bosom of the sea, dead. I felt something rise in my throat as
I looked down upon that radiant vision, and I swore that I
should live to avenge her murder.
And then I let my eyes drop once more to the face upon the water,
and what I saw nearly tumbled me backward into the sea, for the
eyes in the dead face had opened; the lips had parted; and one
hand was raised toward me in a mute appeal for succor. She lived!
She was not dead! I leaned over the boat's side and drew her quickly
in to the comparative safety which God had given me. I removed her
life-belt and my soggy coat and made a pillow for her head. I chafed
her hands and arms and feet. I worked over her for an hour, and
at last I was rewarded by a deep sigh, and again those great eyes
opened and looked into mine.
At that I was all embarrassment. I have never been a ladies' man;
at Leland-Stanford I was the butt of the class because of my
hopeless imbecility in the presence of a pretty girl; but the men
liked me, nevertheless. I was rubbing one of her hands when she
opened her eyes, and I dropped it as though it were a red-hot rivet.
Those eyes took me in slowly from head to foot; then they wandered
slowly around the horizon marked by the rising and falling gunwales
of the lifeboat. They looked at Nobs and softened, and then came
back to me filled with questioning.
"I--I--" I stammered, moving away and stumbling over the next thwart.
The vision smiled wanly.
"Aye-aye, sir!" she replied faintly, and again her lips drooped,
and her long lashes swept the firm, fair texture of her skin.
"I hope that you are feeling better," I finally managed to say.
"Do you know," she said after a moment of silence, "I have
been awake for a long time! But I did not dare open my eyes.
I thought I must be dead, and I was afraid to look, for fear
that I should see nothing but blackness about me. I am afraid
to die! Tell me what happened after the ship went down.
I remember all that happened before--oh, but I wish that I
might forget it!" A sob broke her voice. "The beasts!" she
went on after a moment. "And to think that I was to have
married one of them--a lieutenant in the German navy."
Presently she resumed as though she had not ceased speaking.
"I went down and down and down. I thought I should never cease
to sink. I felt no particular distress until I suddenly started
upward at ever-increasing velocity; then my lungs seemed about to
burst, and I must have lost consciousness, for I remember nothing
more until I opened my eyes after listening to a torrent of
invective against Germany and Germans. Tell me, please, all that
happened after the ship sank."
I told her, then, as well as I could, all that I had seen--the
submarine shelling the open boats and all the rest of it.
She thought it marvelous that we should have been spared in so
providential a manner, and I had a pretty speech upon my tongue's
end, but lacked the nerve to deliver it. Nobs had come over and
nosed his muzzle into her lap, and she stroked his ugly face, and
at last she leaned over and put her cheek against his forehead.
I have always admired Nobs; but this was the first time that it
had ever occurred to me that I might wish to be Nobs. I wondered
how he would take it, for he is as unused to women as I. But he
took to it as a duck takes to water. What I lack of being a
ladies' man, Nobs certainly makes up for as a ladies' dog.
The old scalawag just closed his eyes and put on one of the
softest "sugar-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth" expressions you ever
saw and stood there taking it and asking for more. It made
"You seem fond of dogs," I said.
"I am fond of this dog," she replied.
Whether she meant anything personal in that reply I did not know;
but I took it as personal and it made me feel mighty good.
As we drifted about upon that vast expanse of loneliness it is
not strange that we should quickly become well acquainted.
Constantly we scanned the horizon for signs of smoke, venturing
guesses as to our chances of rescue; but darkness settled, and
the black night enveloped us without ever the sight of a speck
upon the waters.
We were thirsty, hungry, uncomfortable, and cold. Our wet
garments had dried but little and I knew that the girl must be
in grave danger from the exposure to a night of cold and wet
upon the water in an open boat, without sufficient clothing and
no food. I had managed to bail all the water out of the boat
with cupped hands, ending by mopping the balance up with my
handkerchief--a slow and back-breaking procedure; thus I had
made a comparatively dry place for the girl to lie down low in
the bottom of the boat, where the sides would protect her from
the night wind, and when at last she did so, almost overcome as
she was by weakness and fatigue, I threw my wet coat over her
further to thwart the chill. But it was of no avail; as I sat
watching her, the moonlight marking out the graceful curves of
her slender young body, I saw her shiver.
"Isn't there something I can do?" I asked. "You can't lie there
chilled through all night. Can't you suggest something?"
She shook her head. "We must grin and bear it," she replied
after a moment.
Nobbler came and lay down on the thwart beside me, his back
against my leg, and I sat staring in dumb misery at the girl,
knowing in my heart of hearts that she might die before morning
came, for what with the shock and exposure, she had already gone
through enough to kill almost any woman. And as I gazed down at
her, so small and delicate and helpless, there was born slowly
within my breast a new emotion. It had never been there before;
now it will never cease to be there. It made me almost frantic
in my desire to find some way to keep warm and cooling lifeblood
in her veins. I was cold myself, though I had almost forgotten
it until Nobbler moved and I felt a new sensation of cold along
my leg against which he had lain, and suddenly realized that in
that one spot I had been warm. Like a great light came the
understanding of a means to warm the girl. Immediately I knelt
beside her to put my scheme into practice when suddenly I was
overwhelmed with embarrassment. Would she permit it, even if I
could muster the courage to suggest it? Then I saw her frame
convulse, shudderingly, her muscles reacting to her rapidly
lowering temperature, and casting prudery to the winds, I
threw myself down beside her and took her in my arms, pressing
her body close to mine.
She drew away suddenly, voicing a little cry of fright, and tried
to push me from her.
"Forgive me," I managed to stammer. "It is the only way.
You will die of exposure if you are not warmed, and Nobs and
I are the only means we can command for furnishing warmth."
And I held her tightly while I called Nobs and bade him lie
down at her back. The girl didn't struggle any more when she
learned my purpose; but she gave two or three little gasps,
and then began to cry softly, burying her face on my arm, and
thus she fell asleep.
Toward morning, I must have dozed, though it seemed to me at the
time that I had lain awake for days, instead of hours. When I
finally opened my eyes, it was daylight, and the girl's hair
was in my face, and she was breathing normally. I thanked God
for that. She had turned her head during the night so that as I
opened my eyes I saw her face not an inch from mine, my lips
almost touching hers.
It was Nobs who finally awoke her. He got up, stretched, turned
around a few times and lay down again, and the girl opened her
eyes and looked into mine. Hers went very wide at first, and
then slowly comprehension came to her, and she smiled.
"You have been very good to me," she said, as I helped her to
rise, though if the truth were known I was more in need of
assistance than she; the circulation all along my left side
seeming to be paralyzed entirely. "You have been very good
to me." And that was the only mention she ever made of it; yet
I know that she was thankful and that only reserve prevented her
from referring to what, to say the least, was an embarrassing
situation, however unavoidable.
Shortly after daylight we saw smoke apparently coming straight
toward us, and after a time we made out the squat lines of a
tug--one of those fearless exponents of England's supremacy of
the sea that tows sailing ships into French and English ports.
I stood up on a thwart and waved my soggy coat above my head.
Nobs stood upon another and barked. The girl sat at my feet
straining her eyes toward the deck of the oncoming boat.
"They see us," she said at last. "There is a man answering
your signal." She was right. A lump came into my throat--for
her sake rather than for mine. She was saved, and none too soon.
She could not have lived through another night upon the Channel;
she might not have lived through the coming day.
The tug came close beside us, and a man on deck threw us a rope.
Willing hands dragged us to the deck, Nobs scrambling nimbly
aboard without assistance. The rough men were gentle as mothers
with the girl. Plying us both with questions they hustled her to
the captain's cabin and me to the boiler-room. They told the
girl to take off her wet clothes and throw them outside the door
that they might be dried, and then to slip into the captain's
bunk and get warm. They didn't have to tell me to strip after I
once got into the warmth of the boiler-room. In a jiffy, my
clothes hung about where they might dry most quickly, and I
myself was absorbing, through every pore, the welcome heat of the
stifling compartment. They brought us hot soup and coffee, and
then those who were not on duty sat around and helped me damn the
Kaiser and his brood.
As soon as our clothes were dry, they bade us don them, as the
chances were always more than fair in those waters that we should
run into trouble with the enemy, as I was only too well aware.
What with the warmth and the feeling of safety for the girl, and
the knowledge that a little rest and food would quickly overcome
the effects of her experiences of the past dismal hours, I was
feeling more content than I had experienced since those three
whistle-blasts had shattered the peace of my world the
But peace upon the Channel has been but a transitory thing since
August, 1914. It proved itself such that morning, for I had
scarce gotten into my dry clothes and taken the girl's apparel
to the captain's cabin when an order was shouted down into the
engine-room for full speed ahead, and an instant later I heard
the dull boom of a gun. In a moment I was up on deck to see an
enemy submarine about two hundred yards off our port bow. She had
signaled us to stop, and our skipper had ignored the order; but
now she had her gun trained on us, and the second shot grazed
the cabin, warning the belligerent tug-captain that it was time
to obey. Once again an order went down to the engine-room, and
the tug reduced speed. The U-boat ceased firing and ordered the
tug to come about and approach. Our momentum had carried us a
little beyond the enemy craft, but we were turning now on the
arc of a circle that would bring us alongside her. As I stood
watching the maneuver and wondering what was to become of us, I
felt something touch my elbow and turned to see the girl standing
at my side. She looked up into my face with a rueful expression.
"They seem bent on our destruction," she said, "and it looks like
the same boat that sunk us yesterday."
"It is," I replied. "I know her well. I helped design her and
took her out on her first run."
The girl drew back from me with a little exclamation of surprise
and disappointment. "I thought you were an American," she said.
"I had no idea you were a--a--"
"Nor am I," I replied. "Americans have been building submarines
for all nations for many years. I wish, though, that we had gone
bankrupt, my father and I, before ever we turned out that
Frankenstein of a thing."
We were approaching the U-boat at half speed now, and I could
almost distinguish the features of the men upon her deck.
A sailor stepped to my side and slipped something hard and cold
into my hand. I did not have to look at it to know that it was
a heavy pistol. "Tyke 'er an' use 'er," was all he said.
Our bow was pointed straight toward the U-boat now as I heard
word passed to the engine for full speed ahead. I instantly
grasped the brazen effrontery of the plucky English skipper--he
was going to ram five hundreds tons of U-boat in the face of her
trained gun. I could scarce repress a cheer. At first the
boches didn't seem to grasp his intention. Evidently they
thought they were witnessing an exhibition of poor seamanship,
and they yelled their warnings to the tug to reduce speed and
throw the helm hard to port.
We were within fifty feet of them when they awakened to the
intentional menace of our maneuver. Their gun crew was off its
guard; but they sprang to their piece now and sent a futile shell
above our heads. Nobs leaped about and barked furiously. "Let 'em
have it!" commanded the tug-captain, and instantly revolvers and
rifles poured bullets upon the deck of the submersible. Two of
the gun-crew went down; the other trained their piece at the
water-line of the oncoming tug. The balance of those on deck
replied to our small-arms fire, directing their efforts toward
the man at our wheel.
I hastily pushed the girl down the companionway leading to the
engine-room, and then I raised my pistol and fired my first shot
at a boche. What happened in the next few seconds happened so
quickly that details are rather blurred in my memory. I saw the
helmsman lunge forward upon the wheel, pulling the helm around so
that the tug sheered off quickly from her course, and I recall
realizing that all our efforts were to be in vain, because of all
the men aboard, Fate had decreed that this one should fall first
to an enemy bullet. I saw the depleted gun-crew on the submarine
fire their piece and I felt the shock of impact and heard the
loud explosion as the shell struck and exploded in our bows.
I saw and realized these things even as I was leaping into the
pilot-house and grasping the wheel, standing astride the dead
body of the helmsman. With all my strength I threw the helm
to starboard; but it was too late to effect the purpose of
our skipper. The best I did was to scrape alongside the sub.
I heard someone shriek an order into the engine-room; the boat
shuddered and trembled to the sudden reversing of the engines,
and our speed quickly lessened. Then I saw what that madman of
a skipper planned since his first scheme had gone wrong.
With a loud-yelled command, he leaped to the slippery deck of the
submersible, and at his heels came his hardy crew. I sprang from
the pilot-house and followed, not to be left out in the cold when
it came to strafing the boches. From the engine room companionway
came the engineer and stockers, and together we leaped after the
balance of the crew and into the hand-to-hand fight that was
covering the wet deck with red blood. Beside me came Nobs, silent
now, and grim. Germans were emerging from the open hatch to take
part in the battle on deck. At first the pistols cracked amidst
the cursing of the men and the loud commands of the commander and
his junior; but presently we were too indiscriminately mixed to
make it safe to use our firearms, and the battle resolved itself
into a hand-to-hand struggle for possession of the deck.
The sole aim of each of us was to hurl one of the opposing force
into the sea. I shall never forget the hideous expression upon
the face of the great Prussian with whom chance confronted me.
He lowered his head and rushed at me, bellowing like a bull.
With a quick side-step and ducking low beneath his outstretched
arms, I eluded him; and as he turned to come back at me, I landed
a blow upon his chin which sent him spinning toward the edge of
the deck. I saw his wild endeavors to regain his equilibrium;
I saw him reel drunkenly for an instant upon the brink of eternity
and then, with a loud scream, slip into the sea. At the same
instant a pair of giant arms encircled me from behind and lifted
me entirely off my feet. Kick and squirm as I would, I could
neither turn toward my antagonist nor free myself from his
maniacal grasp. Relentlessly he was rushing me toward the side
of the vessel and death. There was none to stay him, for each
of my companions was more than occupied by from one to three of
the enemy. For an instant I was fearful for myself, and then I
saw that which filled me with a far greater terror for another.
My boche was bearing me toward the side of the submarine against
which the tug was still pounding. That I should be ground to
death between the two was lost upon me as I saw the girl standing
alone upon the tug's deck, as I saw the stern high in air and the
bow rapidly settling for the final dive, as I saw death from
which I could not save her clutching at the skirts of the woman
I now knew all too well that I loved.
I had perhaps the fraction of a second longer to live when I
heard an angry growl behind us mingle with a cry of pain and rage
from the giant who carried me. Instantly he went backward to the
deck, and as he did so he threw his arms outwards to save himself,
freeing me. I fell heavily upon him, but was upon my feet in
the instant. As I arose, I cast a single glance at my opponent.
Never again would he menace me or another, for Nob's great jaws
had closed upon his throat. Then I sprang toward the edge of the
deck closest to the girl upon the sinking tug.
"Jump!" I cried. "Jump!" And I held out my arms to her.
Instantly as though with implicit confidence in my ability to
save her, she leaped over the side of the tug onto the sloping,
slippery side of the U-boat. I reached far over to seize
her hand. At the same instant the tug pointed its stern
straight toward the sky and plunged out of sight. My hand
missed the girl's by a fraction of an inch, and I saw her slip
into the sea; but scarce had she touched the water when I was
in after her.
The sinking tug drew us far below the surface; but I had seized
her the moment I struck the water, and so we went down together,
and together we came up--a few yards from the U-boat. The first
thing I heard was Nobs barking furiously; evidently he had missed
me and was searching. A single glance at the vessel's deck
assured me that the battle was over and that we had been
victorious, for I saw our survivors holding a handful of the
enemy at pistol points while one by one the rest of the crew was
coming out of the craft's interior and lining up on deck with the
As I swam toward the submarine with the girl, Nobs' persistent
barking attracted the attention of some of the tug's crew, so
that as soon as we reached the side there were hands to help
us aboard. I asked the girl if she was hurt, but she assured
me that she was none the worse for this second wetting; nor did
she seem to suffer any from shock. I was to learn for myself
that this slender and seemingly delicate creature possessed
the heart and courage of a warrior.
As we joined our own party, I found the tug's mate checking up
our survivors. There were ten of us left, not including the girl.
Our brave skipper was missing, as were eight others. There had
been nineteen of us in the attacking party and we had accounted
in one way and another during the battle for sixteen Germans and
had taken nine prisoners, including the commander. His lieutenant
had been killed.
"Not a bad day's work," said Bradley, the mate, when he had
completed his roll. "Only losing the skipper," he added, "was
the worst. He was a fine man, a fine man."
Olson--who in spite of his name was Irish, and in spite of his
not being Scotch had been the tug's engineer--was standing with
Bradley and me. "Yis," he agreed, "it's a day's wor-rk we're after
doin', but what are we goin' to be doin' wid it now we got it?"
"We'll run her into the nearest English port," said Bradley,
"and then we'll all go ashore and get our V. C.'s," he
"How you goin' to run her?" queried Olson. "You can't trust
Bradley scratched his head. "I guess you're right," he admitted.
"And I don't know the first thing about a sub."
"I do," I assured him. "I know more about this particular sub
than the officer who commanded her."
Both men looked at me in astonishment, and then I had to explain
all over again as I had explained to the girl. Bradley and Olson
were delighted. Immediately I was put in command, and the first
thing I did was to go below with Olson and inspect the craft
thoroughly for hidden boches and damaged machinery. There were
no Germans below, and everything was intact and in ship-shape
working order. I then ordered all hands below except one man who
was to act as lookout. Questioning the Germans, I found that all
except the commander were willing to resume their posts and aid
in bringing the vessel into an English port. I believe that they
were relieved at the prospect of being detained at a comfortable
English prison-camp for the duration of the war after the perils
and privations through which they had passed. The officer,
however, assured me that he would never be a party to the capture
of his vessel.
There was, therefore, nothing to do but put the man in irons.
As we were preparing to put this decision into force, the girl
descended from the deck. It was the first time that she or the
German officer had seen each other's faces since we had boarded
the U-boat. I was assisting the girl down the ladder and still
retained a hold upon her arm--possibly after such support was no
longer necessary--when she turned and looked squarely into the
face of the German. Each voiced a sudden exclamation of surprise
"Lys!" he cried, and took a step toward her.
The girl's eyes went wide, and slowly filled with a great horror,
as she shrank back. Then her slender figure stiffened to the
erectness of a soldier, and with chin in air and without a word
she turned her back upon the officer.
"Take him away," I directed the two men who guarded him, "and put
him in irons."
When he had gone, the girl raised her eyes to mine. "He is the
German of whom I spoke," she said. "He is Baron von Schoenvorts."
I merely inclined my head. She had loved him! I wondered if in
her heart of hearts she did not love him yet. Immediately I
became insanely jealous. I hated Baron Friedrich von Schoenvorts
with such utter intensity that the emotion thrilled me with a
species of exaltation.
But I didn't have much chance to enjoy my hatred then, for
almost immediately the lookout poked his face over the hatchway
and bawled down that there was smoke on the horizon, dead ahead.
Immediately I went on deck to investigate, and Bradley came with me.
"If she's friendly," he said, "we'll speak her. If she's not,
we'll sink her--eh, captain?"
"Yes, lieutenant," I replied, and it was his turn to smile.
We hoisted the Union Jack and remained on deck, asking Bradley
to go below and assign to each member of the crew his duty,
placing one Englishman with a pistol beside each German.
"Half speed ahead," I commanded.
More rapidly now we closed the distance between ourselves and the
stranger, until I could plainly see the red ensign of the British
merchant marine. My heart swelled with pride at the thought that
presently admiring British tars would be congratulating us upon
our notable capture; and just about then the merchant steamer
must have sighted us, for she veered suddenly toward the north,
and a moment later dense volumes of smoke issued from her funnels.
Then, steering a zigzag course, she fled from us as though we had
been the bubonic plague. I altered the course of the submarine
and set off in chase; but the steamer was faster than we, and soon
left us hopelessly astern.
With a rueful smile, I directed that our original course be
resumed, and once again we set off toward merry England.
That was three months ago, and we haven't arrived yet; nor
is there any likelihood that we ever shall.
The steamer we had just sighted must have wirelessed a warning,
for it wasn't half an hour before we saw more smoke on the
horizon, and this time the vessel flew the white ensign of the
Royal Navy and carried guns. She didn't veer to the north or
anywhere else, but bore down on us rapidly. I was just preparing
to signal her, when a flame flashed from her bows, and an instant
later the water in front of us was thrown high by the explosion
of a shell.
Bradley had come on deck and was standing beside me. "About one
more of those, and she'll have our range," he said. "She doesn't
seem to take much stock in our Union Jack."
A second shell passed over us, and then I gave the command to
change our direction, at the same time directing Bradley to go
below and give the order to submerge. I passed Nobs down to him,
and following, saw to the closing and fastening of the hatch.
It seemed to me that the diving-tanks never had filled so slowly.
We heard a loud explosion apparently directly above us; the craft
trembled to the shock which threw us all to the deck. I expected
momentarily to feel the deluge of inrushing water, but none came.
Instead we continued to submerge until the manometer registered forty
feet and then I knew that we were safe. Safe! I almost smiled.
I had relieved Olson, who had remained in the tower at my direction,
having been a member of one of the early British submarine crews,
and therefore having some knowledge of the business. Bradley was
at my side. He looked at me quizzically.
"What the devil are we to do?" he asked. "The merchantman will
flee us; the war-vessel will destroy us; neither will believe our
colors or give us a chance to explain. We will meet even a worse
reception if we go nosing around a British port--mines, nets and
all of it. We can't do it."
"Let's try it again when this fellow has lost the scent,"
I urged. "There must come a ship that will believe us."
And try it again we did, only to be almost rammed by a huge freighter.
Later we were fired upon by a destroyer, and two merchantmen
turned and fled at our approach. For two days we cruised up
and down the Channel trying to tell some one, who would listen,
that we were friends; but no one would listen. After our
encounter with the first warship I had given instructions
that a wireless message be sent out explaining our predicament;
but to my chagrin I discovered that both sending and receiving
instruments had disappeared.
"There is only one place you can go," von Schoenvorts sent word
to me, "and that is Kiel. You can't land anywhere else in
these waters. If you wish, I will take you there, and I can
promise that you will be treated well."
"There is another place we can go," I sent back my reply, "and we
will before we'll go to Germany. That place is hell."
Those were anxious days, during which I had but little opportunity
to associate with Lys. I had given her the commander's room,
Bradley and I taking that of the deck-officer, while Olson and
two of our best men occupied the room ordinarily allotted to
petty officers. I made Nobs' bed down in Lys' room, for I knew
she would feel less alone.
Nothing of much moment occurred for a while after we left British
waters behind us. We ran steadily along upon the surface, making
good time. The first two boats we sighted made off as fast as they
could go; and the third, a huge freighter, fired on us, forcing us
to submerge. It was after this that our troubles commenced.
One of the Diesel engines broke down in the morning, and while
we were working on it, the forward port diving-tank commenced
to fill. I was on deck at the time and noted the gradual list.
Guessing at once what was happening, I leaped for the hatch and
slamming it closed above my head, dropped to the centrale. By this
time the craft was going down by the head with a most unpleasant
list to port, and I didn't wait to transmit orders to some one
else but ran as fast as I could for the valve that let the sea
into the forward port diving-tank. It was wide open. To close
it and to have the pump started that would empty it were the work
of but a minute; but we had had a close call.
I knew that the valve had never opened itself. Some one had
opened it--some one who was willing to die himself if he might at
the same time encompass the death of all of us.
After that I kept a guard pacing the length of the narrow craft.
We worked upon the engine all that day and night and half the
following day. Most of the time we drifted idly upon the
surface, but toward noon we sighted smoke due west, and having
found that only enemies inhabited the world for us, I ordered
that the other engine be started so that we could move out of the
path of the oncoming steamer. The moment the engine started to
turn, however, there was a grinding sound of tortured steel, and
when it had been stopped, we found that some one had placed a
cold-chisel in one of the gears.
It was another two days before we were ready to limp along,
half repaired. The night before the repairs were completed,
the sentry came to my room and awoke me. He was rather an
intelligent fellow of the English middle class, in whom I had
"Well, Wilson," I asked. "What's the matter now?"
He raised his finger to his lips and came closer to me. "I think
I've found out who's doin' the mischief," he whispered, and
nodded his head toward the girl's room. "I seen her sneakin'
from the crew's room just now," he went on. "She'd been in
gassin' wit' the boche commander. Benson seen her in there las'
night, too, but he never said nothin' till I goes on watch tonight.
Benson's sorter slow in the head, an' he never puts two an' two
together till some one else has made four out of it."
If the man had come in and struck me suddenly in the face, I
could have been no more surprised.
"Say nothing of this to anyone," I ordered. "Keep your eyes and
ears open and report every suspicious thing you see or hear."
The man saluted and left me; but for an hour or more I tossed,
restless, upon my hard bunk in an agony of jealousy and fear.
Finally I fell into a troubled sleep. It was daylight when I awoke.
We were steaming along slowly upon the surface, my orders having
been to proceed at half speed until we could take an observation
and determine our position. The sky had been overcast all the
previous day and all night; but as I stepped into the centrale
that morning I was delighted to see that the sun was again shining.
The spirits of the men seemed improved; everything seemed propitious.
I forgot at once the cruel misgivings of the past night as I set
to work to take my observations.
What a blow awaited me! The sextant and chronometer had both
been broken beyond repair, and they had been broken just this
very night. They had been broken upon the night that Lys had been
seen talking with von Schoenvorts. I think that it was this last
thought which hurt me the worst. I could look the other disaster
in the face with equanimity; but the bald fact that Lys might be
a traitor appalled me.
I called Bradley and Olson on deck and told them what had
happened, but for the life of me I couldn't bring myself to
repeat what Wilson had reported to me the previous night.
In fact, as I had given the matter thought, it seemed incredible
that the girl could have passed through my room, in which Bradley
and I slept, and then carried on a conversation in the crew's
room, in which Von Schoenvorts was kept, without having been seen
by more than a single man.
Bradley shook his head. "I can't make it out," he said. "One of
those boches must be pretty clever to come it over us all like
this; but they haven't harmed us as much as they think; there are
still the extra instruments."
It was my turn now to shake a doleful head. "There are no extra
instruments," I told them. "They too have disappeared as did the
Both men looked at me in amazement. "We still have the compass
and the sun," said Olson. "They may be after getting the compass
some night; but they's too many of us around in the daytime fer
'em to get the sun."
It was then that one of the men stuck his head up through the
hatchway and seeing me, asked permission to come on deck and get
a breath of fresh air. I recognized him as Benson, the man who,
Wilson had said, reported having seen Lys with von Schoenvorts two
nights before. I motioned him on deck and then called him to one
side, asking if he had seen anything out of the way or unusual
during his trick on watch the night before. The fellow scratched
his head a moment and said, "No," and then as though it was an
afterthought, he told me that he had seen the girl in the crew's
room about midnight talking with the German commander, but as
there hadn't seemed to him to be any harm in that, he hadn't said
anything about it. Telling him never to fail to report to me
anything in the slightest out of the ordinary routine of the ship,
I dismissed him.
Several of the other men now asked permission to come on deck, and
soon all but those actually engaged in some necessary duty were
standing around smoking and talking, all in the best of spirits.
I took advantage of the absence of the men upon the deck to go
below for my breakfast, which the cook was already preparing
upon the electric stove. Lys, followed by Nobs, appeared as I
entered the centrale. She met me with a pleasant "Good morning!"
which I am afraid I replied to in a tone that was rather constrained
"Will you breakfast with me?" I suddenly asked the girl,
determined to commence a probe of my own along the lines which
She nodded a sweet acceptance of my invitation, and together we
sat down at the little table of the officers' mess.
"You slept well last night?" I asked.
"All night," she replied. "I am a splendid sleeper."
Her manner was so straightforward and honest that I could not
bring myself to believe in her duplicity; yet--Thinking to
surprise her into a betrayal of her guilt, I blurted out: "The
chronometer and sextant were both destroyed last night; there is
a traitor among us." But she never turned a hair by way of
evidencing guilty knowledge of the catastrophe.
"Who could it have been?" she cried. "The Germans would be crazy
to do it, for their lives are as much at stake as ours."
"Men are often glad to die for an ideal--an ideal of patriotism,
perhaps," I replied; "and a willingness to martyr themselves
includes a willingness to sacrifice others, even those who
love them. Women are much the same, except that they will go
even further than most men--they will sacrifice everything, even
honor, for love."
I watched her face carefully as I spoke, and I thought that I
detected a very faint flush mounting her cheek. Seeing an
opening and an advantage, I sought to follow it up.
"Take von Schoenvorts, for instance," I continued: "he would
doubtless be glad to die and take us all with him, could he
prevent in no other way the falling of his vessel into enemy hands.
He would sacrifice anyone, even you; and if you still love him,
you might be his ready tool. Do you understand me?"
She looked at me in wide-eyed consternation for a moment, and
then she went very white and rose from her seat. "I do," she
replied, and turning her back upon me, she walked quickly toward
her room. I started to follow, for even believing what I did, I
was sorry that I had hurt her. I reached the door to the crew's
room just behind her and in time to see von Schoenvorts lean
forward and whisper something to her as she passed; but she must
have guessed that she might be watched, for she passed on.
That afternoon it clouded over; the wind mounted to a gale, and
the sea rose until the craft was wallowing and rolling frightfully.
Nearly everyone aboard was sick; the air became foul and oppressive.
For twenty-four hours I did not leave my post in the conning tower,
as both Olson and Bradley were sick. Finally I found that I must
get a little rest, and so I looked about for some one to relieve me.
Benson volunteered. He had not been sick, and assured me that he
was a former R.N. man and had been detailed for submarine duty
for over two years. I was glad that it was he, for I had
considerable confidence in his loyalty, and so it was with a
feeling of security that I went below and lay down.
I slept twelve hours straight, and when I awoke and discovered
what I had done, I lost no time in getting to the conning tower.
There sat Benson as wide awake as could be, and the compass
showed that we were heading straight into the west. The storm
was still raging; nor did it abate its fury until the fourth day.
We were all pretty well done up and looked forward to the time
when we could go on deck and fill our lungs with fresh air.
During the whole four days I had not seen the girl, as she
evidently kept closely to her room; and during this time no
untoward incident had occurred aboard the boat--a fact which
seemed to strengthen the web of circumstantial evidence about her.
For six more days after the storm lessened we still had fairly
rough weather; nor did the sun once show himself during all
that time. For the season--it was now the middle of June--the
storm was unusual; but being from southern California, I was
accustomed to unusual weather. In fact, I have discovered that
the world over, unusual weather prevails at all times of the year.
We kept steadily to our westward course, and as the U-33 was one
of the fastest submersibles we had ever turned out, I knew that we
must be pretty close to the North American coast. What puzzled
me most was the fact that for six days we had not sighted a
single ship. It seemed remarkable that we could cross the
Atlantic almost to the coast of the American continent without
glimpsing smoke or sail, and at last I came to the conclusion
that we were way off our course, but whether to the north or to
the south of it I could not determine.
On the seventh day the sea lay comparatively calm at early dawn.
There was a slight haze upon the ocean which had cut off our view
of the stars; but conditions all pointed toward a clear morrow, and
I was on deck anxiously awaiting the rising of the sun. My eyes
were glued upon the impenetrable mist astern, for there in the east
I should see the first glow of the rising sun that would assure me
we were still upon the right course. Gradually the heavens
lightened; but astern I could see no intenser glow that would
indicate the rising sun behind the mist. Bradley was standing
at my side. Presently he touched my arm.
"Look, captain," he said, and pointed south.
I looked and gasped, for there directly to port I saw outlined
through the haze the red top of the rising sun. Hurrying to the
tower, I looked at the compass. It showed that we were holding
steadily upon our westward course. Either the sun was rising in
the south, or the compass had been tampered with. The conclusion
I went back to Bradley and told him what I had discovered.
"And," I concluded, "we can't make another five hundred knots
without oil; our provisions are running low and so is our water.
God only knows how far south we have run."
"There is nothing to do," he replied, "other than to alter our
course once more toward the west; we must raise land soon or we
shall all be lost."
I told him to do so; and then I set to work improvising a crude
sextant with which we finally took our bearings in a rough and
most unsatisfactory manner; for when the work was done, we did
not know how far from the truth the result might be. It showed
us to be about 20' north and 30' west--nearly twenty-five
hundred miles off our course. In short, if our reading was
anywhere near correct, we must have been traveling due south for
six days. Bradley now relieved Benson, for we had arranged our
shifts so that the latter and Olson now divided the nights,
while Bradley and I alternated with one another during the days.
I questioned both Olson and Benson closely in the matter of the
compass; but each stoutly maintained that no one had tampered
with it during his tour of duty. Benson gave me a knowing smile,
as much as to say: "Well, you and I know who did this." Yet I
could not believe that it was the girl.
We kept to our westerly course for several hours when the
lookout's cry announced a sail. I ordered the U-33's course
altered, and we bore down upon the stranger, for I had come to
a decision which was the result of necessity. We could not lie
there in the middle of the Atlantic and starve to death if there
was any way out of it. The sailing ship saw us while we were
still a long way off, as was evidenced by her efforts to escape.
There was scarcely any wind, however, and her case was hopeless;
so when we drew near and signaled her to stop, she came into the
wind and lay there with her sails flapping idly. We moved in
quite close to her. She was the Balmen of Halmstad, Sweden, with
a general cargo from Brazil for Spain.
I explained our circumstances to her skipper and asked for food,
water and oil; but when he found that we were not German, he
became very angry and abusive and started to draw away from us;
but I was in no mood for any such business. Turning toward
Bradley, who was in the conning-tower, I snapped out:
"Gun-service on deck! To the diving stations!" We had no
opportunity for drill; but every man had been posted as to
his duties, and the German members of the crew understood that
it was obedience or death for them, as each was accompanied by
a man with a pistol. Most of them, though, were only too glad
to obey me.
Bradley passed the order down into the ship and a moment later
the gun-crew clambered up the narrow ladder and at my direction
trained their piece upon the slow-moving Swede. "Fire a shot
across her bow," I instructed the gun-captain.
Accept it from me, it didn't take that Swede long to see the
error of his way and get the red and white pennant signifying
"I understand" to the masthead. Once again the sails flapped
idly, and then I ordered him to lower a boat and come after me.
With Olson and a couple of the Englishmen I boarded the ship,
and from her cargo selected what we needed--oil, provisions
and water. I gave the master of the Balmen a receipt for what
we took, together with an affidavit signed by Bradley, Olson, and
myself, stating briefly how we had come into possession of the
U-33 and the urgency of our need for what we took. We addressed
both to any British agent with the request that the owners of the
Balmen be reimbursed; but whether or not they were, I do not know. 
 Late in July, 1916, an item in the shipping news mentioned a
Swedish sailing vessel, Balmen, Rio de Janiero to Barcelona, sunk
by a German raider sometime in June. A single survivor in an open
boat was picked up off the Cape Verde Islands, in a dying condition.
He expired without giving any details.
With water, food, and oil aboard, we felt that we had obtained
a new lease of life. Now, too, we knew definitely where we were,
and I determined to make for Georgetown, British Guiana--but I
was destined to again suffer bitter disappointment.
Six of us of the loyal crew had come on deck either to serve the
gun or board the Swede during our set-to with her; and now, one
by one, we descended the ladder into the centrale. I was the
last to come, and when I reached the bottom, I found myself
looking into the muzzle of a pistol in the hands of Baron
Friedrich von Schoenvorts--I saw all my men lined up at one
side with the remaining eight Germans standing guard over them.
I couldn't imagine how it had happened; but it had. Later I
learned that they had first overpowered Benson, who was asleep
in his bunk, and taken his pistol from him, and then had found
it an easy matter to disarm the cook and the remaining two
Englishmen below. After that it had been comparatively simple
to stand at the foot of the ladder and arrest each individual as
The first thing von Schoenvorts did was to send for me and
announce that as a pirate I was to be shot early the next morning.
Then he explained that the U-33 would cruise in these waters for
a time, sinking neutral and enemy shipping indiscriminately, and
looking for one of the German raiders that was supposed to be in
He didn't shoot me the next morning as he had promised, and it
has never been clear to me why he postponed the execution of
my sentence. Instead he kept me ironed just as he had been;
then he kicked Bradley out of my room and took it all to himself.
We cruised for a long time, sinking many vessels, all but one by
gunfire, but we did not come across a German raider. I was
surprised to note that von Schoenvorts often permitted Benson to
take command; but I reconciled this by the fact that Benson
appeared to know more of the duties of a submarine commander than
did any of the Stupid Germans.
Once or twice Lys passed me; but for the most part she kept to
her room. The first time she hesitated as though she wished to
speak to me; but I did not raise my head, and finally she passed on.
Then one day came the word that we were about to round the Horn and
that von Schoenvorts had taken it into his fool head to cruise up
along the Pacific coast of North America and prey upon all sorts
and conditions of merchantmen.
"I'll put the fear of God and the Kaiser into them," he said.
The very first day we entered the South Pacific we had an adventure.
It turned out to be quite the most exciting adventure I had
ever encountered. It fell about this way. About eight bells of
the forenoon watch I heard a hail from the deck, and presently
the footsteps of the entire ship's company, from the amount of
noise I heard at the ladder. Some one yelled back to those who
had not yet reached the level of the deck: "It's the raider,
the German raider Geier!"
I saw that we had reached the end of our rope. Below all was
quiet--not a man remained. A door opened at the end of the
narrow hull, and presently Nobs came trotting up to me. He licked
my face and rolled over on his back, reaching for me with his big,
awkward paws. Then other footsteps sounded, approaching me.
I knew whose they were, and I looked straight down at the flooring.
The girl was coming almost at a run--she was at my side immediately.
"Here!" she cried. "Quick!" And she slipped something into my hand.
It was a key--the key to my irons. At my side she also laid a
pistol, and then she went on into the centrale. As she passed me,
I saw that she carried another pistol for herself. It did not
take me long to liberate myself, and then I was at her side.
"How can I thank you?" I started; but she shut me up with a word.
"Do not thank me," she said coldly. "I do not care to hear your
thanks or any other expression from you. Do not stand there
looking at me. I have given you a chance to do something--now
do it!" The last was a peremptory command that made me jump.
Glancing up, I saw that the tower was empty, and I lost no time
in clambering up, looking about me. About a hundred yards off
lay a small, swift cruiser-raider, and above her floated the
German man-of-war's flag. A boat had just been lowered, and I
could see it moving toward us filled with officers and men.
The cruiser lay dead ahead. "My," I thought, "what a wonderful targ--"
I stopped even thinking, so surprised and shocked was I by the
boldness of my imagery. The girl was just below me. I looked
down on her wistfully. Could I trust her? Why had she released
me at this moment? I must! I must! There was no other way.
I dropped back below. "Ask Olson to step down here, please,"
I requested; "and don't let anyone see you ask him."
She looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face for the
barest fraction of a second, and then she turned and went up
the ladder. A moment later Olson returned, and the girl
followed him. "Quick!" I whispered to the big Irishman, and
made for the bow compartment where the torpedo-tubes are built
into the boat; here, too, were the torpedoes. The girl
accompanied us, and when she saw the thing I had in mind,
she stepped forward and lent a hand to the swinging of the
great cylinder of death and destruction into the mouth of
its tube. With oil and main strength we shoved the torpedo
home and shut the tube; then I ran back to the conning-tower,
praying in my heart of hearts that the U-33 had not swung her
bow away from the prey. No, thank God!
Never could aim have been truer. I signaled back to Olson:
"Let 'er go!" The U-33 trembled from stem to stern as the torpedo
shot from its tube. I saw the white wake leap from her bow straight
toward the enemy cruiser. A chorus of hoarse yells arose from the
deck of our own craft: I saw the officers stand suddenly erect in
the boat that was approaching us, and I heard loud cries and
curses from the raider. Then I turned my attention to my
own business. Most of the men on the submarine's deck were
standing in paralyzed fascination, staring at the torpedo.
Bradley happened to be looking toward the conning-tower and
saw me. I sprang on deck and ran toward him. "Quick!" I whispered.
"While they are stunned, we must overcome them."
A German was standing near Bradley--just in front of him.
The Englishman struck the fellow a frantic blow upon the neck
and at the same time snatched his pistol from its holster.
Von Schoenvorts had recovered from his first surprise quickly
and had turned toward the main hatch to investigate. I covered
him with my revolver, and at the same instant the torpedo struck
the raider, the terrific explosion drowning the German's command
to his men.
Bradley was now running from one to another of our men, and
though some of the Germans saw and heard him, they seemed too
stunned for action.
Olson was below, so that there were only nine of us against eight
Germans, for the man Bradley had struck still lay upon the deck.
Only two of us were armed; but the heart seemed to have gone out
of the boches, and they put up but half-hearted resistance.
Von Schoenvorts was the worst--he was fairly frenzied with rage
and chagrin, and he came charging for me like a mad bull, and as
he came he discharged his pistol. If he'd stopped long enough to
take aim, he might have gotten me; but his pace made him wild,
so that not a shot touched me, and then we clinched and went to
the deck. This left two pistols, which two of my own men were
quick to appropriate. The Baron was no match for me in a
hand-to-hand encounter, and I soon had him pinned to the deck
and the life almost choked out of him.
A half-hour later things had quieted down, and all was much the
same as before the prisoners had revolted--only we kept a much
closer watch on von Schoenvorts. The Geier had sunk while we
were still battling upon our deck, and afterward we had drawn
away toward the north, leaving the survivors to the attention of
the single boat which had been making its way toward us when
Olson launched the torpedo. I suppose the poor devils never
reached land, and if they did, they most probably perished on
that cold and unhospitable shore; but I couldn't permit them
aboard the U-33. We had all the Germans we could take care of.
That evening the girl asked permission to go on deck. She said
that she felt the effects of long confinement below, and I
readily granted her request. I could not understand her, and I
craved an opportunity to talk with her again in an effort to
fathom her and her intentions, and so I made it a point to
follow her up the ladder. It was a clear, cold, beautiful night.
The sea was calm except for the white water at our bows and the
two long radiating swells running far off into the distance upon
either hand astern, forming a great V which our propellers filled
with choppy waves. Benson was in the tower, we were bound for
San Diego and all looked well.
Lys stood with a heavy blanket wrapped around her slender figure,
and as I approached her, she half turned toward me to see who it was.
When she recognized me, she immediately turned away.
"I want to thank you," I said, "for your bravery and loyalty--you
were magnificent. I am sorry that you had reason before to think
that I doubted you."
"You did doubt me," she replied in a level voice. "You practically
accused me of aiding Baron von Schoenvorts. I can never forgive you."
There was a great deal of finality in both her words and tone.
"I could not believe it," I said; "and yet two of my men reported
having seen you in conversation with von Schoenvorts late at
night upon two separate occasions--after each of which some great
damage was found done us in the morning. I didn't want to doubt
you; but I carried all the responsibility of the lives of these
men, of the safety of the ship, of your life and mine. I had to
watch you, and I had to put you on your guard against a repetition
of your madness."
She was looking at me now with those great eyes of hers, very
wide and round.
"Who told you that I spoke with Baron von Schoenvorts at night,
or any other time?" she asked.
"I cannot tell you, Lys," I replied, "but it came to me from two
"Then two men have lied," she asserted without heat. "I have not
spoken to Baron von Schoenvorts other than in your presence when
first we came aboard the U-33. And please, when you address me,
remember that to others than my intimates I am Miss La Rue."
Did you ever get slapped in the face when you least expected it?
No? Well, then you do not know how I felt at that moment.
I could feel the hot, red flush surging up my neck, across my
cheeks, over my ears, clear to my scalp. And it made me love her
all the more; it made me swear inwardly a thousand solemn oaths
that I would win her.
For several days things went along in about the same course.
I took our position every morning with my crude sextant; but the
results were always most unsatisfactory. They always showed a
considerable westing when I knew that we had been sailing due north.
I blamed my crude instrument, and kept on. Then one afternoon the
girl came to me.
"Pardon me," she said, "but were I you, I should watch this man
Benson--especially when he is in charge." I asked her what she
meant, thinking I could see the influence of von Schoenvorts
raising a suspicion against one of my most trusted men.
"If you will note the boat's course a half-hour after Benson goes
on duty," she said, "you will know what I mean, and you will
understand why he prefers a night watch. Possibly, too, you will
understand some other things that have taken place aboard."
Then she went back to her room, thus ending the conversation.
I waited until half an hour after Benson had gone on duty, and then
I went on deck, passing through the conning-tower where Benson sat,
and looking at the compass. It showed that our course was
north by west--that is, one point west of north, which was, for
our assumed position, about right. I was greatly relieved to
find that nothing was wrong, for the girl's words had caused me
considerable apprehension. I was about to return to my room when
a thought occurred to me that again caused me to change my
mind--and, incidentally, came near proving my death-warrant.
When I had left the conning-tower little more than a half-hour
since, the sea had been breaking over the port bow, and it seemed
to me quite improbable that in so short a time an equally heavy
sea could be deluging us from the opposite side of the ship--winds
may change quickly, but not a long, heavy sea. There was only
one other solution--since I left the tower, our course had been
altered some eight points. Turning quickly, I climbed out upon
the conning-tower. A single glance at the heavens confirmed my
suspicions; the constellations which should have been dead ahead
were directly starboard. We were sailing due west.
Just for an instant longer I stood there to check up my
calculations--I wanted to be quite sure before I accused Benson
of perfidy, and about the only thing I came near making quite
sure of was death. I cannot see even now how I escaped it.
I was standing on the edge of the conning-tower, when a heavy
palm suddenly struck me between the shoulders and hurled me
forward into space. The drop to the triangular deck forward of
the conning-tower might easily have broken a leg for me, or I
might have slipped off onto the deck and rolled overboard; but
fate was upon my side, as I was only slightly bruised. As I
came to my feet, I heard the conning-tower cover slam. There is
a ladder which leads from the deck to the top of the tower.
Up this I scrambled, as fast as I could go; but Benson had
the cover tight before I reached it.
I stood there a moment in dumb consternation. What did the
fellow intend? What was going on below? If Benson was a traitor,
how could I know that there were not other traitors among us?
I cursed myself for my folly in going out upon the deck, and then
this thought suggested another--a hideous one: who was it that
had really been responsible for my being here?
Thinking to attract attention from inside the craft, I again ran
down the ladder and onto the small deck only to find that the
steel covers of the conning-tower windows were shut, and then I
leaned with my back against the tower and cursed myself for a
I glanced at the bow. The sea seemed to be getting heavier, for
every wave now washed completely over the lower deck. I watched
them for a moment, and then a sudden chill pervaded my entire being.
It was not the chill of wet clothing, or the dashing spray which
drenched my face; no, it was the chill of the hand of death upon
my heart. In an instant I had turned the last corner of life's
highway and was looking God Almighty in the face--the U-33 was
being slowly submerged!
It would be difficult, even impossible, to set down in writing
my sensations at that moment. All I can particularly recall
is that I laughed, though neither from a spirit of bravado nor
from hysteria. And I wanted to smoke. Lord! how I did want to
smoke; but that was out of the question.
I watched the water rise until the little deck I stood on was awash,
and then I clambered once more to the top of the conning-tower.
From the very slow submergence of the boat I knew that Benson was
doing the entire trick alone--that he was merely permitting the
diving-tanks to fill and that the diving-rudders were not in use.
The throbbing of the engines ceased, and in its stead came the
steady vibration of the electric motors. The water was halfway
up the conning-tower! I had perhaps five minutes longer on the deck.
I tried to decide what I should do after I was washed away. Should I
swim until exhaustion claimed me, or should I give up and end the
agony at the first plunge?
From below came two muffled reports. They sounded not unlike shots.
Was Benson meeting with resistance? Personally it could mean little
to me, for even though my men might overcome the enemy, none would
know of my predicament until long after it was too late to succor me.
The top of the conning-tower was now awash. I clung to the wireless
mast, while the great waves surged sometimes completely over me.
I knew the end was near and, almost involuntarily, I did that
which I had not done since childhood--I prayed. After that I
I clung and waited, but the water rose no higher.
Instead it receded. Now the top of the conning-tower received
only the crests of the higher waves; now the little triangular
deck below became visible! What had occurred within? Did Benson
believe me already gone, and was he emerging because of that
belief, or had he and his forces been vanquished? The suspense
was more wearing than that which I had endured while waiting
for dissolution. Presently the main deck came into view, and
then the conning-tower opened behind me, and I turned to look
into the anxious face of Bradley. An expression of relief
overspread his features.
"Thank God, man!" was all he said as he reached forth and dragged
me into the tower. I was cold and numb and rather all in.
Another few minutes would have done for me, I am sure, but the
warmth of the interior helped to revive me, aided and abetted by
some brandy which Bradley poured down my throat, from which it
nearly removed the membrane. That brandy would have revived a corpse.
When I got down into the centrale, I saw the Germans lined up on
one side with a couple of my men with pistols standing over them.
Von Schoenvorts was among them. On the floor lay Benson,
moaning, and beyond him stood the girl, a revolver in one hand.
I looked about, bewildered.
"What has happened down here?" I asked. "Tell me!"
Bradley replied. "You see the result, sir," he said. "It might
have been a very different result but for Miss La Rue. We were
all asleep. Benson had relieved the guard early in the evening;
there was no one to watch him--no one but Miss La Rue. She felt
the submergence of the boat and came out of her room to investigate.
She was just in time to see Benson at the diving rudders. When he
saw her, he raised his pistol and fired point-blank at her, but he
missed and she fired--and didn't miss. The two shots awakened
everyone, and as our men were armed, the result was inevitable as
you see it; but it would have been very different had it not been
for Miss La Rue. It was she who closed the diving-tank sea-cocks
and roused Olson and me, and had the pumps started to empty them."
And there I had been thinking that through her machinations I had
been lured to the deck and to my death! I could have gone on my
knees to her and begged her forgiveness--or at least I could
have, had I not been Anglo-Saxon. As it was, I could only remove
my soggy cap and bow and mumble my appreciation. She made no
reply--only turned and walked very rapidly toward her room.
Could I have heard aright? Was it really a sob that came floating
back to me through the narrow aisle of the U-33?
Benson died that night. He remained defiant almost to the last;
but just before he went out, he motioned to me, and I leaned over
to catch the faintly whispered words.
"I did it alone," he said. "I did it because I hate you--I hate
all your kind. I was kicked out of your shipyard at Santa Monica.
I was locked out of California. I am an I. W. W. I became a German
agent--not because I love them, for I hate them too--but because
I wanted to injure Americans, whom I hated more. I threw the
wireless apparatus overboard. I destroyed the chronometer and
the sextant. I devised a scheme for varying the compass to suit
my wishes. I told Wilson that I had seen the girl talking with
von Schoenvorts, and I made the poor egg think he had seen her
doing the same thing. I am sorry--sorry that my plans failed.
I hate you."
He didn't die for a half-hour after that; nor did he speak
again--aloud; but just a few seconds before he went to meet his
Maker, his lips moved in a faint whisper; and as I leaned closer
to catch his words, what do you suppose I heard? "Now--I--lay
me--down--to--sleep" That was all; Benson was dead. We threw his
The wind of that night brought on some pretty rough weather with
a lot of black clouds which persisted for several days. We didn't
know what course we had been holding, and there was no way of
finding out, as we could no longer trust the compass, not knowing
what Benson had done to it. The long and the short of it was that
we cruised about aimlessly until the sun came out again. I'll never
forget that day or its surprises. We reckoned, or rather guessed,
that we were somewhere off the coast of Peru. The wind, which had
been blowing fitfully from the east, suddenly veered around into
the south, and presently we felt a sudden chill.
"Peru!" snorted Olson. "When were yez after smellin' iceber-rgs
Icebergs! "Icebergs, nothin'!" exclaimed one of the Englishmen.
"Why, man, they don't come north of fourteen here in these waters."
"Then," replied Olson, "ye're sout' of fourteen, me b'y."
We thought he was crazy; but he wasn't, for that afternoon we
sighted a great berg south of us, and we'd been running north, we
thought, for days. I can tell you we were a discouraged lot; but we
got a faint thrill of hope early the next morning when the lookout
bawled down the open hatch: "Land! Land northwest by west!"
I think we were all sick for the sight of land. I know that I was;
but my interest was quickly dissipated by the sudden illness of
three of the Germans. Almost simultaneously they commenced vomiting.
They couldn't suggest any explanation for it. I asked them what
they had eaten, and found they had eaten nothing other than the
food cooked for all of us. "Have you drunk anything?" I asked,
for I knew that there was liquor aboard, and medicines in the
"Only water," moaned one of them. "We all drank water together
this morning. We opened a new tank. Maybe it was the water."
I started an investigation which revealed a terrifying condition--
some one, probably Benson, had poisoned all the running water on
the ship. It would have been worse, though, had land not been
in sight. The sight of land filled us with renewed hope.
Our course had been altered, and we were rapidly approaching what
appeared to be a precipitous headland. Cliffs, seemingly rising
perpendicularly out of the sea, faded away into the mist upon either
hand as we approached. The land before us might have been a continent,
so mighty appeared the shoreline; yet we knew that we must be
thousands of miles from the nearest western land-mass--New Zealand
We took our bearings with our crude and inaccurate instruments;
we searched the chart; we cudgeled our brains; and at last it was
Bradley who suggested a solution. He was in the tower and
watching the compass, to which he called my attention. The needle
was pointing straight toward the land. Bradley swung the helm
hard to starboard. I could feel the U-33 respond, and yet the
arrow still clung straight and sure toward the distant cliffs.
"What do you make of it?" I asked him.
"Did you ever hear of Caproni?" he asked.
"An early Italian navigator?" I returned.
"Yes; he followed Cook about 1721. He is scarcely mentioned even
by contemporaneous historians--probably because he got into
political difficulties on his return to Italy. It was the
fashion to scoff at his claims, but I recall reading one of his
works--his only one, I believe--in which he described a new
continent in the south seas, a continent made up of `some strange
metal' which attracted the compass; a rockbound, inhospitable coast,
without beach or harbor, which extended for hundreds of miles.
He could make no landing; nor in the several days he cruised about
it did he see sign of life. He called it Caprona and sailed away.
I believe, sir, that we are looking upon the coast of Caprona,
uncharted and forgotten for two hundred years."
"If you are right, it might account for much of the deviation of
the compass during the past two days," I suggested. "Caprona
has been luring us upon her deadly rocks. Well, we'll accept
her challenge. We'll land upon Caprona. Along that long front
there must be a vulnerable spot. We will find it, Bradley, for
we must find it. We must find water on Caprona, or we must die."
And so we approached the coast upon which no living eyes had
ever rested. Straight from the ocean's depths rose towering
cliffs, shot with brown and blues and greens--withered moss
and lichen and the verdigris of copper, and everywhere the
rusty ocher of iron pyrites. The cliff-tops, though ragged,
were of such uniform height as to suggest the boundaries of
a great plateau, and now and again we caught glimpses of verdure
topping the rocky escarpment, as though bush or jungle-land had
pushed outward from a lush vegetation farther inland to signal
to an unseeing world that Caprona lived and joyed in life beyond
her austere and repellent coast.
But metaphor, however poetic, never slaked a dry throat.
To enjoy Caprona's romantic suggestions we must have water,
and so we came in close, always sounding, and skirted the shore.
As close in as we dared cruise, we found fathomless depths, and
always the same undented coastline of bald cliffs. As darkness
threatened, we drew away and lay well off the coast all night.
We had not as yet really commenced to suffer for lack of water;
but I knew that it would not be long before we did, and so at the
first streak of dawn I moved in again and once more took up the
hopeless survey of the forbidding coast.
Toward noon we discovered a beach, the first we had seen. It was
a narrow strip of sand at the base of a part of the cliff that
seemed lower than any we had before scanned. At its foot, half
buried in the sand, lay great boulders, mute evidence that in a
bygone age some mighty natural force had crumpled Caprona's
barrier at this point. It was Bradley who first called our
attention to a strange object lying among the boulders above
"Looks like a man," he said, and passed his glasses to me.
I looked long and carefully and could have sworn that the thing
I saw was the sprawled figure of a human being. Miss La Rue was
on deck with us. I turned and asked her to go below. Without a
word she did as I bade. Then I stripped, and as I did so, Nobs
looked questioningly at me. He had been wont at home to enter
the surf with me, and evidently he had not forgotten it.
"What are you going to do, sir?" asked Olson.
"I'm going to see what that thing is on shore," I replied.
"If it's a man, it may mean that Caprona is inhabited, or it
may merely mean that some poor devils were shipwrecked here.
I ought to be able to tell from the clothing which is more
near the truth.
"How about sharks?" queried Olson. "Sure, you ought to carry a knoife."
"Here you are, sir," cried one of the men.
It was a long slim blade he offered--one that I could carry
between my teeth--and so I accepted it gladly.
"Keep close in," I directed Bradley, and then I dived over the
side and struck out for the narrow beach. There was another
splash directly behind me, and turning my head, I saw faithful
old Nobs swimming valiantly in my wake.
The surf was not heavy, and there was no undertow, so we made
shore easily, effecting an equally easy landing. The beach
was composed largely of small stones worn smooth by the action
of water. There was little sand, though from the deck of the U-33
the beach had appeared to be all sand, and I saw no evidences of
mollusca or crustacea such as are common to all beaches I have
previously seen. I attribute this to the fact of the smallness
of the beach, the enormous depth of surrounding water and the
great distance at which Caprona lies from her nearest neighbor.
As Nobs and I approached the recumbent figure farther up the
beach, I was appraised by my nose that whether or not, the thing
had once been organic and alive, but that for some time it had
been dead. Nobs halted, sniffed and growled. A little later he
sat down upon his haunches, raised his muzzle to the heavens and
bayed forth a most dismal howl. I shied a small stone at him and
bade him shut up--his uncanny noise made me nervous. When I had
come quite close to the thing, I still could not say whether it
had been man or beast. The carcass was badly swollen and
partly decomposed. There was no sign of clothing upon or
about it. A fine, brownish hair covered the chest and abdomen,
and the face, the palms of the hands, the feet, the shoulders and
back were practically hairless. The creature must have been
about the height of a fair sized man; its features were similar
to those of a man; yet had it been a man?
I could not say, for it resembled an ape no more than it did
a man. Its large toes protruded laterally as do those of the
semiarboreal peoples of Borneo, the Philippines and other remote
regions where low types still persist. The countenance might
have been that of a cross between Pithecanthropus, the Java
ape-man, and a daughter of the Piltdown race of prehistoric Sussex.
A wooden cudgel lay beside the corpse.
Now this fact set me thinking. There was no wood of any
description in sight. There was nothing about the beach to
suggest a wrecked mariner. There was absolutely nothing about
the body to suggest that it might possibly in life have known a
maritime experience. It was the body of a low type of man or a
high type of beast. In neither instance would it have been of a
seafaring race. Therefore I deduced that it was native to
Caprona--that it lived inland, and that it had fallen or been
hurled from the cliffs above. Such being the case, Caprona was
inhabitable, if not inhabited, by man; but how to reach the
inhabitable interior! That was the question. A closer view
of the cliffs than had been afforded me from the deck of the
U-33 only confirmed my conviction that no mortal man could scale
those perpendicular heights; there was not a finger-hold, not a
toe-hold, upon them. I turned away baffled.
Nobs and I met with no sharks upon our return journey to
the submarine. My report filled everyone with theories and
speculations, and with renewed hope and determination. They all
reasoned along the same lines that I had reasoned--the
conclusions were obvious, but not the water. We were now
thirstier than ever.
The balance of that day we spent in continuing a minute and
fruitless exploration of the monotonous coast. There was not
another break in the frowning cliffs--not even another minute
patch of pebbly beach. As the sun fell, so did our spirits.
I had tried to make advances to the girl again; but she would
have none of me, and so I was not only thirsty but otherwise sad
and downhearted. I was glad when the new day broke the hideous
spell of a sleepless night.
The morning's search brought us no shred of hope. Caprona was
impregnable--that was the decision of all; yet we kept on. It must
have been about two bells of the afternoon watch that Bradley called
my attention to the branch of a tree, with leaves upon it, floating
on the sea. "It may have been carried down to the ocean by a river,"
"Yes, " I replied, "it may have; it may have tumbled or been thrown
off the top of one of these cliffs."
Bradley's face fell. "I thought of that, too," he replied, "but
I wanted to believe the other."
"Right you are!" I cried. "We must believe the other until we
prove it false. We can't afford to give up heart now, when we
need heart most. The branch was carried down by a river, and we
are going to find that river." I smote my open palm with a
clenched fist, to emphasize a determination unsupported by hope.
"There!" I cried suddenly. "See that, Bradley?" And I pointed at
a spot closer to shore. "See that, man!" Some flowers and
grasses and another leafy branch floated toward us. We both
scanned the water and the coastline. Bradley evidently
discovered something, or at least thought that he had. He called
down for a bucket and a rope, and when they were passed up to
him, he lowered the former into the sea and drew it in filled
with water. Of this he took a taste, and straightening up,
looked into my eyes with an expression of elation--as much as to
say "I told you so!"
"This water is warm," he announced, "and fresh!"
I grabbed the bucket and tasted its contents. The water was very
warm, and it was fresh, but there was a most unpleasant taste to it.
"Did you ever taste water from a stagnant pool full of tadpoles?"
"That's it," I exclaimed, "--that's just the taste exactly,
though I haven't experienced it since boyhood; but how can water
from a flowing stream, taste thus, and what the dickens makes it
so warm? It must be at least 70 or 80 Fahrenheit, possibly higher."
"Yes," agreed Bradley, "I should say higher; but where does it
"That is easily discovered now that we have found it," I answered.
"It can't come from the ocean; so it must come from the land.
All that we have to do is follow it, and sooner or later we shall
come upon its source."
We were already rather close in; but I ordered the U-33's prow
turned inshore and we crept slowly along, constantly dipping up
the water and tasting it to assure ourselves that we didn't get
outside the fresh-water current. There was a very light off-shore
wind and scarcely any breakers, so that the approach to the shore
was continued without finding bottom; yet though we were already
quite close, we saw no indication of any indention in the coast
from which even a tiny brooklet might issue, and certainly no
mouth of a large river such as this must necessarily be to freshen
the ocean even two hundred yards from shore. The tide was running
out, and this, together with the strong flow of the freshwater
current, would have prevented our going against the cliffs even
had we not been under power; as it was we had to buck the combined
forces in order to hold our position at all. We came up to within
twenty-five feet of the sheer wall, which loomed high above us.
There was no break in its forbidding face. As we watched the face
of the waters and searched the cliff's high face, Olson suggested
that the fresh water might come from a submarine geyser. This, he
said, would account for its heat; but even as he spoke a bush,
covered thickly with leaves and flowers, bubbled to the surface
and floated off astern.
"Flowering shrubs don't thrive in the subterranean caverns from
which geysers spring," suggested Bradley.
Olson shook his head. "It beats me," he said.
"I've got it!" I exclaimed suddenly. "Look there!" And I pointed
at the base of the cliff ahead of us, which the receding tide was
gradually exposing to our view. They all looked, and all saw
what I had seen--the top of a dark opening in the rock, through
which water was pouring out into the sea. "It's the subterranean
channel of an inland river," I cried. "It flows through a land
covered with vegetation--and therefore a land upon which the
sun shines. No subterranean caverns produce any order of plant
life even remotely resembling what we have seen disgorged by
this river. Beyond those cliffs lie fertile lands and fresh
"Yis, sir," said Olson, "behoind the cliffs! Ye spoke a true
Bradley laughed--a rather sorry laugh, though. "You might as
well call our attention to the fact, sir," he said, "that science
has indicated that there is fresh water and vegetation on Mars."
"Not at all," I rejoined. "A U-boat isn't constructed to navigate
space, but it is designed to travel below the surface of the water."
"You'd be after sailin' into that blank pocket?" asked Olson.
"I would, Olson," I replied. "We haven't one chance for life in
a hundred thousand if we don't find food and water upon Caprona.
This water coming out of the cliff is not salt; but neither is it
fit to drink, though each of us has drunk. It is fair to assume
that inland the river is fed by pure streams, that there are
fruits and herbs and game. Shall we lie out here and die of
thirst and starvation with a land of plenty possibly only a few
hundred yards away? We have the means for navigating a
subterranean river. Are we too cowardly to utilize this means?"
"Be afther goin' to it," said Olson.
"I'm willing to see it through," agreed Bradley.
"Then under the bottom, wi' the best o' luck an' give 'em hell!"
cried a young fellow who had been in the trenches.
"To the diving-stations!" I commanded, and in less than a minute
the deck was deserted, the conning-tower covers had slammed to
and the U-33 was submerging--possibly for the last time. I know
that I had this feeling, and I think that most of the others did.
As we went down, I sat in the tower with the searchlight
projecting its seemingly feeble rays ahead. We submerged very
slowly and without headway more than sufficient to keep her nose
in the right direction, and as we went down, I saw outlined ahead
of us the black opening in the great cliff. It was an opening
that would have admitted a half-dozen U-boats at one and the same
time, roughly cylindrical in contour--and dark as the pit of perdition.
As I gave the command which sent the U-33 slowly ahead, I could
not but feel a certain uncanny presentiment of evil. Where were
we going? What lay at the end of this great sewer? Had we bidden
farewell forever to the sunlight and life, or were there before
us dangers even greater than those which we now faced? I tried to
keep my mind from vain imagining by calling everything which I
observed to the eager ears below. I was the eyes of the whole
company, and I did my best not to fail them. We had advanced a
hundred yards, perhaps, when our first danger confronted us.
Just ahead was a sharp right-angle turn in the tunnel. I could
see the river's flotsam hurtling against the rocky wall upon the
left as it was driven on by the mighty current, and I feared for
the safety of the U-33 in making so sharp a turn under such
adverse conditions; but there was nothing for it but to try.
I didn't warn my fellows of the danger--it could have but caused
them useless apprehension, for if we were to be smashed against
the rocky wall, no power on earth could avert the quick end that
would come to us. I gave the command full speed ahead and went
charging toward the menace. I was forced to approach the
dangerous left-hand wall in order to make the turn, and I
depended upon the power of the motors to carry us through the
surging waters in safety. Well, we made it; but it was a
narrow squeak. As we swung around, the full force of the current
caught us and drove the stern against the rocks; there was a thud
which sent a tremor through the whole craft, and then a moment of
nasty grinding as the steel hull scraped the rock wall. I expected
momentarily the inrush of waters that would seal our doom; but
presently from below came the welcome word that all was well.
In another fifty yards there was a second turn, this time toward
the left! but it was more of a gentle curve, and we took it
without trouble. After that it was plain sailing, though as far
as I could know, there might be most anything ahead of us, and my
nerves strained to the snapping-point every instant. After the
second turn the channel ran comparatively straight for between
one hundred and fifty and two hundred yards. The waters grew
suddenly lighter, and my spirits rose accordingly. I shouted
down to those below that I saw daylight ahead, and a great shout
of thanksgiving reverberated through the ship. A moment later we
emerged into sunlit water, and immediately I raised the periscope
and looked about me upon the strangest landscape I had ever seen.
We were in the middle of a broad and now sluggish river the banks
of which were lined by giant, arboraceous ferns, raising their
mighty fronds fifty, one hundred, two hundred feet into the
quiet air. Close by us something rose to the surface of the river
and dashed at the periscope. I had a vision of wide, distended jaws,
and then all was blotted out. A shiver ran down into the tower as
the thing closed upon the periscope. A moment later it was gone,
and I could see again. Above the trees there soared into my vision
a huge thing on batlike wings--a creature large as a large whale,
but fashioned more after the order of a lizard. Then again
something charged the periscope and blotted out the mirror. I will
confess that I was almost gasping for breath as I gave the commands
to emerge. Into what sort of strange land had fate guided us?
The instant the deck was awash, I opened the conning-tower hatch
and stepped out. In another minute the deck-hatch lifted, and
those who were not on duty below streamed up the ladder, Olson
bringing Nobs under one arm. For several minutes no one spoke;
I think they must each have been as overcome by awe as was I.
All about us was a flora and fauna as strange and wonderful to us
as might have been those upon a distant planet had we suddenly
been miraculously transported through ether to an unknown world.
Even the grass upon the nearer bank was unearthly--lush and high
it grew, and each blade bore upon its tip a brilliant flower--
violet or yellow or carmine or blue--making as gorgeous a sward
as human imagination might conceive. But the life! It teemed.
The tall, fernlike trees were alive with monkeys, snakes, and lizards.
Huge insects hummed and buzzed hither and thither. Mighty forms
could be seen moving upon the ground in the thick forest, while
the bosom of the river wriggled with living things, and above
flapped the wings of gigantic creatures such as we are taught have
been extinct throughout countless ages.
"Look!" cried Olson. "Would you look at the giraffe comin' up
out o' the bottom of the say?" We looked in the direction he
pointed and saw a long, glossy neck surmounted by a small head
rising above the surface of the river. Presently the back of the
creature was exposed, brown and glossy as the water dripped from it.
It turned its eyes upon us, opened its lizard-like mouth, emitted
a shrill hiss and came for us. The thing must have been sixteen
or eighteen feet in length and closely resembled pictures I had
seen of restored plesiosaurs of the lower Jurassic. It charged
us as savagely as a mad bull, and one would have thought it
intended to destroy and devour the mighty U-boat, as I verily
believe it did intend.
We were moving slowly up the river as the creature bore down upon
us with distended jaws. The long neck was far outstretched, and
the four flippers with which it swam were working with powerful
strokes, carrying it forward at a rapid pace. When it reached
the craft's side, the jaws closed upon one of the stanchions of
the deck rail and tore it from its socket as though it had been
a toothpick stuck in putty. At this exhibition of titanic
strength I think we all simultaneously stepped backward, and
Bradley drew his revolver and fired. The bullet struck the thing
in the neck, just above its body; but instead of disabling it,
merely increased its rage. Its hissing rose to a shrill scream
as it raised half its body out of water onto the sloping sides of
the hull of the U-33 and endeavored to scramble upon the deck to
devour us. A dozen shots rang out as we who were armed drew our
pistols and fired at the thing; but though struck several times,
it showed no signs of succumbing and only floundered farther
aboard the submarine.
I had noticed that the girl had come on deck and was standing not
far behind me, and when I saw the danger to which we were all
exposed, I turned and forced her toward the hatch. We had not
spoken for some days, and we did not speak now; but she gave me
a disdainful look, which was quite as eloquent as words, and
broke loose from my grasp. I saw I could do nothing with her
unless I exerted force, and so I turned with my back toward her
that I might be in a position to shield her from the strange
reptile should it really succeed in reaching the deck; and as I
did so I saw the thing raise one flipper over the rail, dart its
head forward and with the quickness of lightning seize upon one
of the boches. I ran forward, discharging my pistol into the
creature's body in an effort to force it to relinquish its prey;
but I might as profitably have shot at the sun.
Shrieking and screaming, the German was dragged from the deck,
and the moment the reptile was clear of the boat, it dived
beneath the surface of the water with its terrified prey.
I think we were all more or less shaken by the frightfulness of
the tragedy--until Olson remarked that the balance of power now
rested where it belonged. Following the death of Benson we had
been nine and nine--nine Germans and nine "Allies," as we called
ourselves, now there were but eight Germans. We never counted
the girl on either side, I suppose because she was a girl, though
we knew well enough now that she was ours.
And so Olson's remark helped to clear the atmosphere for the
Allies at least, and then our attention was once more directed
toward the river, for around us there had sprung up a perfect
bedlam of screams and hisses and a seething caldron of hideous
reptiles, devoid of fear and filled only with hunger and with rage.
They clambered, squirmed and wriggled to the deck, forcing
us steadily backward, though we emptied our pistols into them.
There were all sorts and conditions of horrible things--huge,
hideous, grotesque, monstrous--a veritable Mesozoic nightmare.
I saw that the girl was gotten below as quickly as possible, and
she took Nobs with her--poor Nobs had nearly barked his head off;
and I think, too, that for the first time since his littlest
puppyhood he had known fear; nor can I blame him. After the girl
I sent Bradley and most of the Allies and then the Germans who
were on deck--von Schoenvorts being still in irons below.
The creatures were approaching perilously close before I dropped
through the hatchway and slammed down the cover. Then I went
into the tower and ordered full speed ahead, hoping to distance
the fearsome things; but it was useless. Not only could any of
them easily outdistance the U-33, but the further upstream we
progressed the greater the number of our besiegers, until fearful
of navigating a strange river at high speed, I gave orders to
reduce and moved slowly and majestically through the plunging,
hissing mass. I was mighty glad that our entrance into the
interior of Caprona had been inside a submarine rather than in
any other form of vessel. I could readily understand how it
might have been that Caprona had been invaded in the past by
venturesome navigators without word of it ever reaching the
outside world, for I can assure you that only by submarine could
man pass up that great sluggish river, alive.
We proceeded up the river for some forty miles before darkness
overtook us. I was afraid to submerge and lie on the bottom
overnight for fear that the mud might be deep enough to hold us,