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  • 1911
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“Wait,” cautioned Professor Roumann. “First we must see if we can breathe on the moon, and whether the temperature will support life. I must make some tests before we venture out of the projectile.”



The natural inclination of the boys to rush out on the surface of the moon to see what it was like was checked by the words of caution from Professor Roumann.

“Do you think it would be dangerous to venture outside the projectile?” asked Jack, as he looked from the window and noted the rugged, uneven surface of the moon.

“Very much so,” was the answer. “According to most astronomers, there is absolutely no air on the moon, also no moisture, and the temperature is either very high or around the freezing point. We must find out what it is.”

“How can we?” inquired Mark.

“I’ll soon show you,” went on the German. “Professor Henderson, will you kindly assist me.”

When it had been decided to come to the moon in quest for the field of diamonds, certain changes had been made in the _Annihilator_ to fit it for new conditions that might be met. One of these consisted of an aperture in the two sides of the projectile permitting certain delicate instruments to be thrust out, so that the conditions they indicated could be read on dials or graduated scales from within.

“We will first make a test of the temperature,” said Mr. Roumann, “as that will be the easiest.” Accordingly a thermometer was put outside, and those in the air-craft anxiously watched the red column of spirits. The temperature was marked as seventy-five inside the _Annihilator_, but the thermometer had not been outside more than a second before it began falling.

“Good!” exclaimed Mr. Henderson, as he noted it. “The temperature is going down. I’d rather have it too cold than too hot. We can stand a minus fifty of cold better than two hundred and twelve of heat. We have fur garments with us.”

“It is still going down,” remarked Jack, as he saw the red column drop down past the thirty mark.

“Below freezing,” added Mark.

The spirits fell in the tube until they touched twenty-eight degrees, and there they remained.

“Twenty-eight degrees,” remarked Professor Henderson. “That isn’t so bad. At least, we can stand that if we are warmly clad.”

“Yes, but it will be colder to-night,” said Jack. For they had landed on the moon in bright sunlight.

“To-night?” questioned the German scientist, with a smile.

“Yes, it’s always colder when the sun goes down,” went on the lad.

“You have forgotten one thing,” said Mr. Henderson, with a smile at his young protege. “You must remember, Jack, that the nights and days here are each fourteen days long–that is, fourteen of our days.”

“How’s that?” asked Jack.

“Why,” broke in Mark, who was a trifle better student than was his chum, “don’t you remember that the moon rotates on its axis once a month, or in about twenty-eight days, to be exact, and so half of that time is day and half night, just as on our earth, when it revolves on its axis in twenty-four hours, half the time is day and half the time is night.”

“Sure, I ought to have remembered,” declared Jack.

“Mark is right,” added Mr. Henderson. “And, as we have most fortunately arrived on the moon at the beginning of the long day, we will have fourteen days of sunshine, during which we may expect the temperature to remain at about twenty-eight degrees. But now about the atmosphere.” “We will test that directly,” went on the German. “It will take some time longer, though.”

Various instruments were brought forth and thrust out of the opening in the side of the projectile, which opening was so arranged that it was closed hermetically while the instruments were put forth. Then the readings of the dials or scales were taken, and computations made. In fact, some of what corresponded to the moon’s atmosphere was secured in a hollow steel cup and brought inside the _Annihilator_ for analysis.

“Well,” remarked Professor Roumann, as he bent over a test tube, the contents of which he had put through several processes, “I am afraid we cannot breathe on the moon.”

“Can’t breathe on it?” gasped Jack. “Then we can’t go out and walk around it.”

“I didn’t say that,” resumed the German, with a smile. “I said we couldn’t breathe the moon’s atmosphere. In fact there is nothing there that we would call atmosphere. There is absolutely no oxygen, and there are a number of poisonous gases that would instantly cause death if inhaled.”

“Then how are we to get out and hunt for those diamonds, Professor?” went on Jack. “Gee whiz! if I’d known that, I wouldn’t have come. This is tough luck!”

“Maybe the professor can suggest a way out of the difficulty, boys,” spoke Mr. Henderson. “It certainly would be too bad if, after our perilous trip, we couldn’t get out of our cage and walk around the moon.”

“I think perhaps I can discover a way so that it will be safe to venture forth,” said Mr. Roumann. “But I must first conduct some further experiments. In the meanwhile suppose you boys get out some fur-lined garments, for, though it is only twenty-eight degrees, we will need to be well clad after the time spent inside this warm projectile.”

“It does look as if he expected to get us out,” remarked Jack, as he and his chum went to where Andy Sudds was.

“Yes, you’ll get a chance to pick up diamonds after all, Jack. That is, if there are any here.”

“Of course there are diamonds. You wait and see,” and then, with the help of the old hunter, they took from the store-room their fur garments.

It was half an hour before the warm clothes were sorted out, and then the boys went back to where the two professors were.

“Well,” asked Jack cautiously, “can we go outside?”

“I think so,” answered the German cheerfully. “But you must always be careful to carry one of these with you,” and he handed to each of the boys a steel rod about two feet long, at the end of which was a small iron box, with perforations in the sides and top.

“What is this?” asked Jack. “It looks like a magician’s wand.”

“And that is exactly what it is,” said Mr. Henderson. “As there is no atmosphere fit to breathe on the moon, we have been forced to make our own, boys. You each hold what may be called torches of life. To venture out without them would mean instant death by suffocation or poison.”

“And will these save our lives?” asked Mark.

“Yes,” said Mr. Roumann. “In the iron boxes on those rods are certain chemicals, rich in oxygen and other elements, which, when brought in contact with the gases on the moon, will dispel a cloud of air about whoever carries them–air such as we find on our earth. So, boys, be careful never to venture out without the torches of life. I had them prepared in anticipation of some such emergency as this, and all that was necessary was to put in the chemicals. This I have done, and now, if you wish, you may go out and stroll about the moon.”



There was a little hesitation after Professor Roumann had spoken. Even though he assured them all that it would be safe to venture out on the surface of the moon, with its chilling temperature and its poisonous “atmosphere” (if such it can be termed), there was an uncanny feeling about stepping forth into the midst of the desolation that was on every side.

For it was desolate–terribly so! Not a sound broke the stillness. There was no life–no motion–as far as could be seen. Not a tree or shrub relieved the rugged monotony of the landscape. It was like a dead world.

“And to think that people may have once lived here,” observed Jack, in a low voice.

“Yes, and to think that there may be people on the other side of the moon even now,” added Mark. “We must take a look if it’s possible.”

“Well,” remarked Mr. Henderson, after a while, “are we going out and see what it’s like or not.”

“Of course, we are,” said Jack. “Come on, Mark, I’m not afraid.”

“Me either. Do we have to do anything to the torches to make them operate, Professor Roumann?”

“Merely press this lever,” and the scientist showed them where there was one in the handle of the steel rod. “As soon as that is pressed, it admits a liquid to the chemicals and the oxygen gas is formed, rising all around you, like a protecting vapor. After that it is automatic.”

“How long will the supply of chemical last?” inquired Jack.

“Each one is calculated to give out gas for nearly two weeks,” was the reply; “possibly for a little longer. But come, I want to see how they work. Here is your life-torch, Professor Henderson, and there is one for you, too, Andy, and Washington.”

“‘Scuse me!” exclaimed the colored man hastily, as he started back toward the kitchen.

“Why, what’s the matter?” asked Jack. “Don’t you want to go out, and walk around the moon, and pick up diamonds?”

“Diamonds am all right,” answered Washington, “but I jest done fo’got dat I ain’t fed my Shanghai rooster to-day, an’ I ‘spects he’s mighty hungry. You folks go on out an’ pick up a few obde sparklers, an’ when I gits de Shanghai fed I’ll prognosticate myse’f inter conjunction wif yo’ all.”

“You mean you’ll join us?” asked Mark.

“Dat’s what I means, suah.”

“Why, I do believe Washington’s afraid!” cried Jack jokingly.

“Askeered! Who’s afraid?” retorted the colored man boldly. “Didn’t I done tole yo’ dat I got t’ feed my rooster? Heah him crowin’ now? Yo’ all go ‘long, an’ I’ll meet yo’ later,” and with that Washington disappeared quickly.

“Well, he’ll soon pluck up courage and come out,” declared Professor Henderson. “Let him go now, and we’ll go out and see what it is like on the moon.”

“I hope we find those diamonds,” murmured Jack, and Mark smiled.

In order not to admit the poisonous gases into the projectile, it was decided to leave the Annihilator and return to it by means of a double door, forming a sort of air lock. It was similar to the water lock used on the submarine. That is, the adventurers entered a chamber built in between the two steel walls of their craft. The interior door was then sealed shut automatically. Next the outer door was opened, and they could step directly to the surface of the moon and into the deadly atmosphere.

“Well, are we all ready?” asked Mr. Roumann, as he picked up one of the chemical torches.

“I guess so,” responded Andy Sudds, who had his gun with him. “I hope I see some game. I haven’t had a shot in a long while.”

“You’re not likely to up here,” spoke Mr. Henderson. “Game is scarce on the moon, unless it’s some of that green cheese Washington talked about.”

They entered the air lock and fastened the door behind them. Then Professor Roumann pressed on the lever that swung open the outer portal.

“Hold your torches close to your head,” he called. “The moon atmosphere may be too strong for us at first until we create a mist of oxygen about us.”

Out upon the surface of the moon they stepped, probably the first earth beings so to do, though they had evidence that the inhabitants of Mars had preceded them.

For a moment they all gasped for breath, but only for a moment. Then the gas began to flow from the life-torches, and they could breathe as well as they had done while in the projectile, or while on the earth.

“Well, if this isn’t great!” cried Jack, gazing about him.

“It certainly beats anything I ever saw,” came from Mark.

“Wonderful, wonderful,” murmured Professor Henderson. “We will be able to gain much valuable scientific knowledge here, Professor Roumann. We must at once begin our observations.”

“I agree with you,” spoke the German.

Andy Sudds said nothing. He was looking around for a sight of game, with his rifle in readiness. But not a sign of life met his eager eyes.

Once they were outside the projectile it was even more desolate than it had seemed when they looked from the observation windows. It was absolutely still. Not a breath of wind fanned their cheeks, for where there is no air to be heated and cooled there could be no wind which is caused by the differences of temperature of the air, the cold rushing in to fill the vacuum caused by the rising of the hot vapors. Clad in their fur-lined garments, which effectually defied the cold, the adventurers stepped out.

Over the rugged ground they went, gazing curiously about them. It was like being in the wildest part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains of our earth, and, in fact, the surface of the moon was not unlike the mountainous and hilly sections of the earth. There were no long ranges of rugged peaks, though, but rather scattered pinnacles and deep hollows, great craters adjoining immense, towering steeples of rocks, with comparatively level ground in between.

The life-torches worked to perfection. As our friends carried them, there arose about their bodies a cloud of invisible vapor, which, however, was as great a protection from the poisonous gases as a coat of mail would have been.

“This is great!” exclaimed Jack. “It’s much better than to have to put on a diving-suit and carry a cylinder of oxygen or compressed air about on our shoulders.”

They strolled away from the projectile and gazed back at it. Nothing moved–not a sound broke the stillness. There was only the blazing sunlight, which, however, did not seem to warm the atmosphere much, for it was very chilly. On every side were great rocks, rugged and broken, with here and there immense fissures in the surface of the moon, fissures that seemed miles and miles long.

“Well, here’s where I look for diamonds,” called Jack, as he stepped boldly out, followed by Mark. “Let’s see who’ll find the first sparkler.”

“All right,” agreed his chum, and they strolled away together, slightly in advance of the two professors and Andy, who remained together, the scientist discussing the phenomena on every side and the hunter looking in vain for something to shoot. But he had come to a dead world.

Almost before they knew it Jack and Mark had gone on quite some distance. Though they were not aware of it at that moment, it was much easier to walk on the moon than it was on the earth, for they weighed only one sixth as much, and the attraction of gravitation was so much less.

But suddenly Jack remembered that curious fact, and, stooping, he picked up a stone. He cast it from him, at the same time uttering a yell.

“What’s the matter?” called Mark.

“Look how far I fired that rock!” shouted Jack. “Talk about it being easy! why, I believe I could throw a mile if I tried hard!”

“It goes six times as far as it would on the earth,” spoke his chum, “and we can also jump six times as far.”

“Then let’s try that!” proposed Jack. “There’s a nice level place over there. Come on, I’ll wager that I can beat you.”

“Done!” agreed Mark, and they hurried to the spot, their very walking being much faster than usual.

“I’ll go first,” proposed Jack, “and you see if you can come up to me.” He poised himself on a little hummock of rock, balanced himself for a moment, and then hurled himself through space.

Prepared as he was, in a measure, for something strange, he never bargained for what happened. It was as if he had been fired from some catapult of the ancient Romans. Through the air he hurtled, like some great flying animal, covering fifty feet from a standing jump.

“Say, that’s great!” yelled Mark. “Here I come, and I’ll beat—-“

He did not finish, for a cry of horror came from Jack.

“I’m going to fall into a crater–a bottomless pit! I’m on the edge of it!” yelled the lad who had jumped.

And, with horror-stricken eyes, Mark saw his chum disappear from sight beyond a pile of rugged rocks, toward which he had leaped. The last glimpse Mark had was of the life-torch, which Jack held up in the air, close to his head.

“Jack–in a crater!” gasped Mark, as he ran forward, holding his own life-torch close to his mouth and nose.



Advancing by leaps and bounds, and getting over the ground in a manner most surprising, Mark soon found himself on the edge of the great, yawning crater, into which his chum Jack had started to slide. I say started, for, fortunately, the lad had been saved from death but by a narrow margin.

As Mark gazed down into the depths, which seemed fathomless, and which were as black as night, he saw his friend clinging to a rocky projection on the side of the extinct volcano. Jack had managed to grasp a part of the rough surface as he slid down it after his reckless jump. He looked up and saw Mark.

“Oh, Mark, can’t you save me?” he gasped. “Call Professor Henderson!”

“I’ll get you up, don’t worry!” called Mark, as confidently as he could. “Hold tight, Jack. What has become of your life-torch?”

“I have it here by me. I didn’t drop it, and it’s on a piece of the rock near my head. Otherwise I couldn’t breathe. Oh, this place is fearfully deep. I guess it hasn’t any bottom.”

“Now, keep still, and don’t think about that. Save your strength, hold fast, and I’ll get you up.”

But, having said that much, Mark was not so sure how next to proceed. It was going to be no easy task to haul up Jack, and that without ropes or other apparatus. Another matter that added to the danger was the necessity of keeping the life-torch close to one’s face in order to prevent death by the poisonous gases.

Mark’s first impulse was to hasten back and call the two professors, but he looked over the desolate landscape, and could not see them, and he feared that if he went away Jack might slip and fall into the unknown depths of the crater.

“I’ve got to get him out alone,” decided Mark. “But how can I do it?”

He crawled cautiously nearer to the edge of the extinct volcano and looked down. A few loose stones, dislodged by his weight, rattled down the sides.

“Look out!” cried Jack quickly, “or you’ll fall, too!”

“I’ll be careful,” answered Mark, and then he drew away out of danger, with a queer feeling about his heart, which was beating furiously. Mark had hoped to be able to make his way down the side of the crater to where his chum was and help him up. But a look at the steep sides and the uncertain footing afforded by the loose rocks of lava-like formation showed that this could not be done.

“I’ve got to think of a different scheme,” decided Mark, and, spurred on by the necessity of acting quickly if he was to save Jack, he fairly forced his brain to work. For he saw by the strained look on his chum’s face that Jack could not hold out much longer.

“I have it!” cried Mark at length. “My fur coat! I can cut it into strips of hide and make a rope. Then I can lower it down to Jack and haul him up.”

He did not think, for the moment, of the cold he would feel when he stripped off the fur garment, and when it did come to him in a flash he never hesitated.

“After all, I’ve often been out without an overcoat on cold days,” he said to himself. “I guess I can stand it for a while, and when Jack is up I can run back to the projectile and keep warm that way.”

To think was to act, and Mark laid down his life-torch to take off the big fur coat. The next instant he had toppled over, almost in a faint, and, had he not fallen so that his head was near the small perforated box on the end of the steel rod, whence came the life-giving gas, the lad might have died.

He had forgotten, for the instant, the necessity of always keeping the torch close to his face to prevent the poisonous gases of the moon from overpowering him. Mark soon revived while lying on the ground, and, rising, with his torch in his hand, he looked about him.

“I’ve got to have my two hands to work with,” he mused, “and yet I’ve got to hold this torch close to my face. Say, a fellow ought to have three hands if he’s going to visit the moon. What can I do?”

In an instant a plan came to him. He thrust the pointed end of the steel rod in the crevice of some rocks, and it stood upright, so that the perforated box of chemicals was on a level with his face.

“There,” said Mark aloud, “I guess that will work. I can use both my hands now.” The plan was a good one. Next, taking off his coat, the lad proceeded to cut it into strips, working rapidly. He called to Jack occasionally, bidding him keep up his courage. “I’ll soon have you out,” he said cheeringly.

In a few minutes Mark had a long, stout strip of hide, and, taking his life-torch with him, he advanced once more to the edge of the crater. He stuck the torch in between some rocks, as before, and looked down at Jack.

“I–I can’t hold on much longer,” gasped the unfortunate lad. “Hurry, Mark!”

“All right. I’m going to haul you up now. Can you hold on with one hand long enough to slip the loop of this rope over your shoulders?”

“I guess so. But where did you get a rope?”

“I made it–cut up my fur coat.”

“But you’ll freeze!”

“Oh, I guess not. Here it comes, Jack. Get ready!”

Mark lowered the hide rope to his chum. The latter, who managed to get one toe on a small, projecting rock, while he held on with his right hand, used his left to adjust the loop over his shoulders and under his arms.

“Are you all ready?” asked Mark.

“Yes, but can you pull me up?”

“Sure. I’m six times as strong as when on the earth. Hold steady now, and keep the torch close to your face.”

Mark had placed some pieces of his fur coat under the rope where it passed over the edge of the mouth of the crater to prevent the jagged rocks from cutting the strips of hide.

“Here you come!” he cried to Jack, and he began to haul, taking care to keep his own head near his torch, which was stuck upright. Mark had spoken truly when he said he possessed much more than his usual strength. Any one who has tried to haul up a person with a rope from a hole, and with no pulleys to adjust the strain of the cable, knows what a task it is. But to Mark, on the moon, it was comparatively easy.

Hand over hand he pulled on the hide rope until, with a final heave, he had Jack out of his perilous position. He had pulled him up from the mouth of the crater, and the thick fur coat Jack wore had prevented the sharp rocks from injuring him. In another moment he stood beside Mark, a trifle weak and shaky from his experience, but otherwise unhurt.

“How did you happen to go down there?” asked Mark.

“Not from choice, I assure you,” answered Jack. “I couldn’t see the crater when I jumped, as it was hidden by some rocks, and I was into it before I knew it. But don’t stand talking here. Put on my coat. I don’t need it. I’m warm.”

“I will not. I’m not a bit cold. But we may as well get back to the projectile, for they’ll be worrying about us.” Thereupon Mark broke into a run, for, now that the exertion of hauling up Jack was over, he began to feel cool, and the chilling atmosphere of the moon struck through to his bones.

In a short time the two lads were back at the _Annihilator_, where they found Professors Roumann and Henderson getting a bit anxious about them. Their adventure was quickly related, and the boys were cautioned to be more careful in the future.

“This moon is a curious, desolate place,” said Mr. Henderson, “and you can’t behave on it as you would on the earth. We have discovered some curious facts regarding it, and when we get back I am going to write a book on them. But I think we have seen enough for the present, so we’ll stay in the rest of the day and plan for farther trips.”

“Aren’t we going to look for those diamonds?” asked Jack, who had almost fully recovered from his recent experience.

“Oh, yes, we will look around for them,” assented Mr. Roumann. “I think, after a day or so, we will move our projectile to another part of the moon. We want to see as much of it as possible.”

They sat discussing various matters, and, while doing so, Washington White peered into the living cabin.

“Has yo’ got one ob dem torch-light processions t’ spare?” he asked.

“Torch-light processions?” queried Mark. “What do you think this is, an election, Wash?”

“I guess he means a life-torch,” suggested Jack. “Are you going out, Wash?”

“Yais, sah, I did think I’d take a stroll around. Maybe I kin find a diamond fo’ my tie.”

Laughing, Jack provided the colored man with one of the torches, instructing him how to use it, and presently Washington was seen outside, walking gingerly around, as though he expected to go through the crust of the moon any moment. Pretty soon, however, he got more courage and tramped boldly along, peering about on the ground for all the world, as Mark said, as if he was looking for chestnuts.

They paid no attention to the cook for some little time until, when the boys and the two professors were in the midst of a discussion as to where would be the best place to move the projectile next, they heard him running along the corridor toward the cabin.

“Wash is in a hurry,” observed Jack.

The next instant they sprang to their feet at the sight of the frightened face of the colored man peering in on them. He was as near white as a negro can ever be, which is a sort of chalk color, and his eyes were wide open with fear.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jack.

“A ghost! I done seen de ghost ob a dead man!” gasped the colored man.

“A ghost?” repeated Mark.

“Yais, sah, right out yeah! He’s lyin’ down in a hole–a dead man. Golly! but I’se a scared coon, I is!” and Washington looked over his shoulder as though he feared the “ghost” had followed him.



At first they were inclined to regard the announcement of Washington lightly, but the too evident fright of the colored man showed that there was some basis for his fear.

“Tell us just what you saw, and where it was,” said Mr. Henderson. “Was the man alive, Washington?”

“No, sah. How could a ghost be alive? Dey is all dead ones, ghosts am!”

“There are no such things as ghosts,” said Mr. Henderson sternly.

“Den how could I see one?” demanded the cook triumphantly, as if there was no further argument.

“Well, tell us about it,” suggested Jack.

“It were jest dis way,” began Washington earnestly, and with occasional glances over his shoulder, “I were walkin’ along, sort ob lookin’ fer dem sparklin’ diamonds, an’ I didn’t see none, when all on a suddint I looked down in a hole, and dere I seen HIM!” and he brought out the word with a jerk.

“Saw what–who?” asked Mr. Roumann.

“De ghost–de dead man. He were lyin’ all curled up, laik he were asleep, an’ when I seed him, I didn’t stop t’ call him t’ dinner, yo’ can make up yo’ minds t’ dat all.”

“Can you show us the place?” inquired Jack.

“Yais, sah, massa Jack, dat’s what I kin. I’ll point it out from dish yeah winder, but I ain’t g’wine dar ag’in; no, sah, ‘scuse me!”

“Well, show us then,” suggested Mark. “I wonder what it can be?” he went on.

“Maybe one of the people who came from Mars after the diamonds, who was forgotten and left here, and who died,” said Jack.

“It’s possible,” murmured Mr. Henderson. “However, we’ll go take a look. Get on your fur coats, boys, and take the life-torches. Will you come, Andy?”

“Sure. It’s got to be more than a ghost to scare me,” said the hunter.

They emerged from the projectile and walked in the direction Washington had pointed, holding their gas torches near their heads and talking of what they might see.

“This will be evidence in favor of my diamond theory,” declared Jack. “It shows that the Martians were here.”

“Wait and see what it is,” suggested his chum.

They walked along a short distance farther, and then Mark spoke.

“That ought to be the place over there,” he said, pointing to a depression between two tall pinnacles of black rock.

Jack sprang forward, and a moment later uttered a cry of astonishment.

“Here it is!” he called. “A dead man!”

“A dead man?” echoed Professor Henderson.

“A petrified man,” added Jack, in awe-struck tones. “He’s turned to stone.”

A few seconds later they were all grouped around the strange object–it was a man no longer, but had once been one. It was a petrified human being, a full-grown man, to judge by the size, and it was a solid image in stone, even the garments with which he had been clothed being turned to rock.

For a moment no one spoke, and they gazed in silence at what was an evidence of former life on the moon. The man was huddled up, with the knees drawn toward the stomach and the arms bent around the body, as if the man had died in agony. The features were scarcely distinguishable.

“That man was never an inhabitant of Mars,” spoke Professor Henderson, in a low voice. “He is much too large, and he has none of the characteristics of the Martians.”

“I agree with you,” came from Mr. Roumann.

“Then who is he?” asked Jack.

“I think,” said the aged scientist, “that we are now gazing on all that was once mortal of one of the inhabitants of the moon.”

“An inhabitant of the moon?” gasped Mark.

“Yes; why not?” went on Mr. Henderson. “I believe the moon was once a planet like our earth–perhaps even a part of it, and I think that it was inhabited. In time it cooled so that life could no longer be supported, or, at least, this side of the moon presents that indication. The people were killed–frozen to death, and by reason of the chemical action of the gases, or perhaps from the moon being covered with water in which was a large percentage of lime, they were turned to stone. That is what happened to this poor man.”

“Such a thing is possible,” admitted Professor Roumann gravely.

And, indeed, it is, as the writer can testify, for in the Metropolitan Museum in New York there are the remains of an ancient South American miner, whose body has been turned into solid copper. The corpse, of which the features are partly distinguishable, was found four hundred feet down in an old copper mine, where the dripping from hidden springs, the waters of which were rich in copper sulphate, had converted the man’s body into a block of metal, retaining its natural shape. The body is drawn up in agony, and there is every indication that the man was killed by a cave-in of the mine. Some of his tools were found near him.

They remained gazing at the weird sight of the petrified man for some time.

“Then the moon was once inhabited?” asked Jack at length.

“I believe so–yes,” answered Professor Henderson.

“Then where are the other people?” asked Mark. “There must be more than one left. Why was this man off here alone?”

“We don’t know,” responded the German scientist. “Perhaps he was off alone in the mountains when death overtook him, or perhaps all his companions were buried under an upheaval of rock. We can only theorize.”

“It will be something else to put in the book I am to write,” said Mr. Henderson. “But, now that we have evidence of former life on the moon, we must investigate further. We will make an attempt to go to the other side of the country, and to that end I suggest that we set our projectile in motion and travel a bit. There is little more to see here.”

This plan met with general approval, and, after some photographs had been taken of the petrified man, and the professors had made notes, and set down data regarding him, and had tried to guess how long he had been dead, they went back to the _Annihilator_.

“Well, did yo’ all see him?” asked Washington.

“We sure did,” answered Jack. “You weren’t mistaken that time.”

They got ready to move the projectile, but decided to remain over night where they were. “Over night” being the way they spoke of it, though, as I have said, there was perpetual daylight for fourteen days at a time on the moon.

Professors Roumann and Henderson made a few more observations for scientific purposes. They found traces of some vegetation, but it was of little value for food, even to the lower forms of animal life, they decided. There was also a little moisture; noticed at certain hours of the day. But, in the main, the place where they had landed was most desolate.

“I hope we get to a better place soon,” said Jack, just before they sealed themselves up in the projectile to travel to a new spot.

As distance was comparatively small on the moon, for her diameter is only a little over two thousand miles and the circumference only about six thousand six hundred miles, the _Annihilator_ could not be speeded up. If it went too fast, it would soon be off the moon and into space again.

Accordingly the Cardite motor was geared to send the big craft along at about forty miles an hour, and at times they went even slower than that, when they were passing over some part of the surface which the professors wished to photograph or observe closely.

They did not rise high into the air, but flew along at an elevation of about two hundred feet, steering in and out to avoid the towering peaks scattered here and there. Occasionally they found themselves over immense craters that seemed to have no bottom.

For two days they moved here and there, finding no further signs of life, neither petrified nor natural, though they saw many strange sights, and some valuable pictures and scientific data was obtained.

It was on the third day, when they were approaching the side of the moon which from time immemorial has been hidden from view of the inhabitants of the earth, that Jack, who was with Mark in the engine room, while the two professors were in the pilot-house, remarked to his chum: “Mark, doesn’t it strike you that the water pump and the air apparatus aren’t working just right?”

“They don’t seem to be operating very smoothly,” admitted Mark, after an examination.

“That’s what I thought. Let’s call Mr. Henderson. The machinery may need adjusting.”

Jack started from the engine room to do this, and as he paused on the threshold there was a sudden crash. Part of the air pump seemed to fly off at a tangent, and a second later had smashed down on the Cardite motor. This stopped in an instant, and the projectile began falling. Fortunately it was but a short distance above the moon’s surface, and came down with a jar, which did not injure the travellers.

But there was sufficient damage done to the machinery, for with the breaking of the air pump the water apparatus also went out of commission, and together with the breakdown of the Cardite motor had fairly stalled the _Annihilator_.

“What’s the matter?” cried Professor Henderson, running in from the pilot-house, for an automatic signal there had apprised him that something was wrong.

“There’s a bad break,” said Jack ruefully.

“A bad break! I should say there was,” remarked the scientist. “I think we’ll have to lay up for repairs.” And he called Mr. Roumann.



Notwithstanding that they were somewhat accustomed to having accidents happen, it was not with the most pleasant feelings in the world that the moon travellers contemplated this one. It meant a delay, and a delay was the one thing they did not want just now.

They desired to get to the other side of the moon while the long period of sunshine gave them an opportunity for observation. True there was some time yet ere the long night of fourteen days would settle down, but they felt that they would need every hour of sunshine.

“Well, it’s tough luck, but it can’t be helped,” said Mark.

“No, let’s get right to work,” suggested Jack.

They got out their tools and started to repair the two pumps. It was found that the Cardite motor was not badly damaged, one of the negative electrical plates merely having been smashed by a piece of the broken connecting rod of the air pump. It was only a short time before the motor was ready to run again.

But it could not be successfully operated without the air and water pumps, and it was necessary to fix them next. New gaskets were needed, while an extra valve and some sliding gears had to be replaced.

“It’s an all day’s job,” remarked Professor Henderson.

But many hands made light work, and even Washington and Andy were called upon to do their share. By dinner time the work was more than half done, and Professor Roumann, announced that he and Mr. Henderson would finish it if Jack and Mark would take a look at the exterior of the projectile, to see if any repairs were needed to that.

The boys found that some of the exterior piping had become loosed at the joints, because of the jar of the sudden descent, and, taking the necessary tools outside, while they stuck their life-torches upright near them, they labored away.

At four o’clock the two lads had their task completed, and at the same time Professor Henderson announced that the air and water pumps were now in good shape again.

“Then let’s get under way at once,” suggested Mr. Roumann. “We have lost enough time as it is. Hurry inside, boys, and we’ll start.”

The two chums were glad enough to do so, and in a few minutes they were again moving through the air toward the unknown portion of the moon.

Below the travellers, as they could see by looking down through a plate-glass window in the floor of the projectile, were the same rugged peaks, the same large and small craters that had marked the surface of the moon from the time they had first had a glimpse of it. There was an uninteresting monotony about it, unrelieved by any save the very sparest vegetation.

“I am beginning to think more and more that we will find people on the other side of this globe,” remarked Mr. Roumann, as he made an observation through a telescope.

“What strengthens your belief?” inquired Mr. Henderson.

“The fact that the vegetation is growing thicker. There are many more plants below us now than there were before. This part of the moon is better able to support life than the portion we have just come from.”

This seemed to be so, but they were still some distance from the opposite side of the moon.

“I don’t see anything of those diamonds you talked so much about, Jack,” said Mark, with a smile, a little later. “I guess all the Reonaris you get you can put in a hollow tooth.”

“You wait,” was all Jack replied.

The projectile was slowed up to permit the two professors to make some notes regarding a particularly large and deep crater, and a few minutes later when Mark, who was in the engine room, attempted to speed up the Cordite motor it would not respond.

“Humph! I wonder what’s wrong?” he asked of Jack.

“Better call Mr. Roumann, and not try to fix it yourself,” suggested his chum, when, in response to various movements of the lever, the machine seemed to go slower and slower.

The German came in answer to the summons.

“Ha!” he exclaimed, “that motor is broken again. We shall have to stop once more for repairs. I shall need to take it all apart, I fear. Get me the negative plate remover, will you, Mark?”

The lad went to the tool chest for it. He opened the lid and fumbled about inside.

“It doesn’t seem to be here,” he announced.

“What! the negative plate remover not there?” cried the professor. “Why, it must be. It is one of the new tools we got, and it has not been used for anything; has it?”.

“Oh, by Jinks!” cried Jack suddenly.

“What’s the matter?” asked his chum.

“That plate remover! Don’t you remember you and I had it when we were fixing the pipes outside the projectile, when we had the other breakdown? We must have left it back there on the ground.”

Jack and his chum gazed blankly at each other.

“I guess we did,” admitted Mark dubiously.

“And it is the only one we have,” said Mr. Roumann. “We need it very much, too, for the projectile can’t very well be moved without it.”

“How can we get it?” asked Jack. “I’m sorry. It was my fault.”

“It was as much mine as yours,” asserted Mark. “I guess it’s up to us to go back after it. It isn’t far. We can easily walk it.”

There seemed to be nothing else to do, and, after some discussion, it was decided to have the two boys walk back after the missing tool, which was a very valuable one.

“Take fresh life-torches with you,” advised Mr. Henderson, “and you had better carry some food with you. It may be farther back than you think, and you may get hungry.”

“I guess it will be a good thing to take some lunch along,” admitted Jack. “And some water, too. We can’t get a drink here unless we come to a spring, and we haven’t seen any since we arrived.”

“I’ll go with you, if you don’t mind,” said Andy. “I may see something to shoot.”

The three of them, each one carrying a freshly charged vapor-torch, a basket of food and a bottle of water, started off, well wrapped in their fur coats. Andy had a compass to enable them to make their way back to where the tool was left, for, amid the towering peaks and the valley-like depressions, very little of the level surface of the moon could be seen at a time.

They walked on for several hours, every now and then hoping that they had reached the place where the projectile had been halted, and where they expected to find the tool. But so many places looked alike that they were deceived a number of times.

At length, however, they reached the spot and found the instrument where Jack had carelessly dropped it. They picked it up and turned to go back, when Andy Sudds saw a large crater off to one side.

“Boys, I’m going to have a look down that,” he said. “It may contain a bear or wildcat, and I can get a shot.”

“Guess there isn’t much danger of a bear being on the moon,” said Mark, but the old hunter leaned as far over the edge of the crater as he dared.

“No, there’s nothing here,” he announced, with almost a sigh, and he straightened up. As he did so there came a tinkling sound, as if some one had dropped a piece of money.

“What’s that?” asked Jack.

“By heck! It’s the compass!” cried Andy. “It slipped from my pocket when I stooped over. Now it’s gone!”

There was no question of that. They could hear the instrument tinkling far down in the unfathomable depths, striking from side to side of the crater as it went down and down.

“We’ll never see that again,” spoke Mark dubiously. “Can we get back to the projectile without it?” asked Jack.

“Oh, I fancy I can pick my trail back,” answered the hunter. “It isn’t going to be easy, for there are no landmarks to guide me, but I’ll do my best. I ought to have known better than to put a compass in that pocket.”

It was not with very light hearts that they started back, and for a time they went cautiously. Then, as they seemed to get on familiar ground, they increased their pace and covered several miles.

“Say,” remarked. Jack, as he sat down on a big stone. “I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but I’m tired. We’ve come quite a distance since we picked up that tool.”

“Yes, farther than it took us to find it after we left the projectile,” added Mark. “I wonder if we’re going right?”

The two boys looked at Andy. He scratched his head in perplexity.

“I can’t be sure, but it seems to me that we came past here,” he said. “I seem to remember that big rock.”

“There are lots like it,” observed Jack.

“Suppose we try over to the left,” spoke Mark, after they had rested for ten minutes.

They swerved in that direction, and, after keeping on that trail for some time, and becoming more and more convinced that it was the wrong one, they turned to the right. That did not bring them to familiar ground, and there was no sight of the projectile.

“Let’s go straight ahead,” suggested Andy, after a puzzled pause. “I think that will be best.”

“Well, which way is straight ahead?” asked Mark.

“That’s so, it is hard to tell,” admitted the hunter. “I wish I hadn’t lost that compass.”

They wandered about for an hour longer. They could seem to make no progress, though they covered much ground. Suddenly Jack called out:

“Say, we’ve been going around in a circle!”

“In a circle?” asked Mark.

“Yes,” went on his chum. “Here’s the very rock I sat down on a while ago. I remember it, for I scratched my initials on it.”

Jack pointed out the letters. There was no disputing it. They had made a complete circle. For a moment they maintained silence in the face of this alarming fact. Then Mark exclaimed:

“I guess we’re lost!”

“Lost on the moon!” added Jack, in an awestruck voice, and he gazed on the chill and desolate scene all about them; the great pinnacles of rocks, in fantastic form; the immense black caverns of craters on either hand; the sickly green vegetation.

“Lost on the moon!” whispered Mark, and there was not even an echo of his voice to keep them company. Only a chill, desolate silence!



For a moment the three stood helplessly there and stared at each other. They could scarcely comprehend their situation at first. Then, with a glance at the cold and quiet scene all about them, a look up at the sun, which was the only cheerful object in the whole landscape, Jack observed: “Oh, I say, come on now, don’t let’s give up this way! We have only taken a wrong turn, and I’ll wager that the projectile will be just around the corner. Come on,” and he started off.

“Yes,” said Mark, “that’s the trouble. There are so many corners, and we have taken so many wrong turns, that we’re all confused. I think the best thing to do will be to stay here a while and pull ourselves together.”

“That’s right,” spoke old Andy. “Many a time in the woods I’ve got all confused-like, and then I’d sit down and think, and I’d get on the right path in a few minutes after.”

“The trouble here is,” said Jack, “that there are no woods. If there were we might know how to get out of them. But think of it! Lost on the moon, in the midst of a whole lot of queer mountain peaks, and big holes that would hold half a dozen cities of the United States at the same time, and never know it! This is a fearful place to be lost in!”

“I’m not going to admit that we’re lost,” declared Mark stoutly.

“Hu! You’re like the Indian,” spoke Jack. “The Indian who got lost in the woods. He insisted that it wasn’t he who was lost, that it was his wigwam that couldn’t be found. He knew where he himself was all the while. That’s our case, I suppose. We’re here, but the projectile is lost.”

“Ha! ha!” laughed Andy Sudds. “That’s a pretty good joke!”

“But not being able to find the projectile is no joke,” went on Mark, who always took matters more seriously than did his chum. “What are we going to do?” he added. “We can’t stay here like this.”

“Maybe we’ll have to,” declared Jack. “We certainly can’t get off the moon–at least, not until we reach the projectile, and I’d like to discover those diamonds before we go back.”

“Hu! Those diamonds!” exploded Mark. “I think this whole thing is a wild-goose chase, anyhow! If it hadn’t been for those diamonds we wouldn’t have come to the moon. I don’t believe there are any diamonds here, anyhow.”

“Well, I can’t prove it to you now, but I will before we get back,” asserted Jack. “We’ll be wearing diamonds, as the song says.”

“Diamonds aren’t going to keep us warm when we’re freezing,” went on Mark, who seemed bound to look on the dark side, “and we can’t eat ’em when we’re hungry. A lot of good they’ll do us if we do find them!”

“Oh, cheer up!” suggested Jack cheerfully. “And, speaking of eating, what’s the matter with having some lunch? What did we bring it along for if we’re not going to eat? Let’s begin.”

His good spirits were contagious, not that Andy needed any special cheering up, but Mark did. In a few minutes they were seated on some rugged rocks, and, with their life-torches stuck in cracks, so that the perforated metal boxes of chemicals would be on a level with their faces, they opened the baskets they had been fore-sighted enough to bring with them.

“Why, I feel better already,” asserted Jack, as he munched some sandwiches which Washington White had made. “As soon as we’ve finished we’ll have another hunt for the projectile, and I’ll wager that we’ll find it.”

“I wouldn’t finish if I were you,” suggested Andy, who was eating sparingly.

“Finish what?” asked Jack.

“All your lunch. You see,” the old hunter went on, “we may find the projectile, and, again, we may not. I’m inclined to think we’re not so very far from it, but we may be some time locating it in among all these peaks and craters. So it will be the best plan to save some of our lunch and drinking water until–well, until we’re hungry again,” and he carefully put back into his basket the remains of the food.

“You don’t mean to say you think we’ll be all day finding the Annihilator, do you?”

Jack paused, with a sandwich half way to his mouth as he asked this question.

“Well, it’s best to be on the safe side,” spoke Andy guardedly. “We may find it, and, again, we may not. Save your powder against the time of need, I say–by powder meaning victuals and drink. We can’t drop in a restaurant up here, and I don’t see much game to shoot, and I should hate to eat such fodder as this,” and he poked with his foot some sickly green vines, growing on the ground.

The boys’ faces, which had become more cheerful, assumed a serious look. Jack stopped eating at once and placed back in the basket his remaining sandwiches. He also corked up the bottle of water, which was kept from freezing by means of a fur pouch in which it was carried.

“If there’s a possibility of being lost some time,” spoke Mark, “we’d better figure out just how long our food will last,” and he examined the contents of his basket.

Fortunately Washington White, with a knowledge of the appetites of the chums, had filled the baskets with lavish hands. There was, they found, food enough to last them three days, if they ate sparingly, and there was enough water for half that time, providing they only took small sips when thirsty. But they had noticed, in one or two places, little pools of liquid, which they had not tasted, but which might prove to be drinking water. Certainly they would need more if they were destined to remain away from the projectile for very long.

“Well, then,” observed Mark, when the food calculation was over, “it appears that we can remain lost for about three days, at the most.”

“Oh, but we’ll be back home–I mean in the projectile–long before that,” declared Jack.

“I wish I was sure of that,” murmured Andy with a dubious shake of his head.

“Well, let’s move on again,” suggested Jack. “We feel better now, and maybe we’ll have better luck.”

They started off, tramping over the rugged surface of the moon, while the sun shone with tepid heat down on them. They had to go this way and that to avoid the immense fissures in the ground or the yawning craters, which loomed deep, and in awful silence, in their path. Sometimes they climbed small mountains or crawled in and out of small craters, slipping and stumbling.

They were not cold, for their fur garments kept them comfortably warm, and there was no wind to make the freezing temperature search through the crevices of their clothing. But it was the desolate silence, the utter absence of any form of life save the pale green vegetation that got on their nerves. It was like being in a dead world–on a planet that seemed about to dissolve into space.

They began their further search for the projectile with hope in their hearts, but this gradually gave way to despair as they wandered on over the desolate surface, and saw nothing but the same rugged peaks, the same yawning caverns and the innumerable craters, large and small.

On they wandered, looking on all sides for the missing projectile, but they had no glimpse of it. Even climbing to one of the high peaks, whence they had a view of the surrounding country, afforded them no trace of the _Annihilator_, They were utterly lost.

Old Andy, who, by reason of his experience as a trapper and hunter, had taken the lead, came to a halt. He looked around helplessly. He did not know what to do.

“Well, boys,” he remarked at length, “I don’t like to say it, but I can’t seem to get anywhere. I give up.”

“Give up?” murmured Jack, in blank dismay.

“Yes, for the time being,” said the old man. “I’m all played out. I guess we all are. We must have a rest. Here’s a sort of cave. Let’s crawl in and have a sleep. Then maybe we can do something to-morrow– no, not to-morrow, for they don’t have that on the moon, where the day is fourteen days long–but after we sleep we may be able to find our way back. Anyhow, I’ve got to get some sleep,” and without another word the old hunter went into the cave, and, fixing his life-torch near his head, where the fumes from it would dissipate the poisonous gases of the moon, he closed his eyes, and was soon in slumber.

“I–I guess we’d better do the same,” said Jack, and Mark nodded. They were both sick at heart.



For a time, after they had entered the cave, which was in the side of a rugged mountain, the boys talked in low tones of their perilous situation. For that it was perilous they both knew. Had they been on the earth, lost in some desolate part of it, away from civilization, their plight, would have been bad enough with what little food they possessed.

But on the far-off moon–the dead moon, which contained no living creatures save themselves, as far as they could tell–with no form of animal life that might serve to keep them from starving, with only the scantiest of vegetation, their situation was most deplorable.

“And then there’s another thing,” said Mark, as if he was cataloguing a list of their troubles.

“What is it?” asked Jack. “I guess we have all the troubles that belong to us, and more, too.”

“Well, what are we going to do when the life-torches give out, and we can’t breathe any more?” asked Mark dubiously.

“Well, I guess it’ll be all up with us then, if we don’t starve to death in the meanwhile,” answered Jack. “But I’m afraid we will get out of food before the torches are exhausted. They were freshly filled before we started out after that tool, and they’ll last for two weeks. So we don’t have to worry about that.

“By Jinks! this is all my fault, anyhow, it seems. If I hadn’t seen that item in the Martian paper about the diamonds, we never would have come here, and if I hadn’t left that tool on the ground outside of the projectile we wouldn’t have had to come back after it, and we wouldn’t have become lost. So I guess it’s up to me, as the boys say.”

“Oh, nonsense!” exclaimed Mark, who, as soon as he heard his chum blaming his own actions, was ready to shoulder part of the responsibility himself. “We all wanted to come to the moon,” he went on, “and, as for leaving the tool and forgetting it, I’m as much at fault as you are. Let’s go to sleep, and maybe we’ll feel better when we wake up.”

It was a new role for Mark–to be cheerful in the face of difficulties –and Jack appreciated it. They stretched out on the hard, rocky floor of the cavern, taking care to fix their life-torches so that the fumes would dispel the poisonous gases. Then the two lads joined Andy in slumberland.

Meanwhile, as may be imagined, those aboard the projectile were very anxious about the fate of the two boys and the hunter. They could not understand what delayed them, and, though they guessed the real cause, after several hours had passed, there was nothing the two scientists could do.

They could not move the projectile until it had been repaired, and this could not be done, without the tool–at least, they did not believe so then. Nor did Mr. Henderson and the German think it would be safe to start out in search of the wanderers.

“For,” said Mr. Henderson, “if we went we would easily get lost amid these peaks ourselves, and they are so much alike and in such numbers that there is no distinguishing feature about them. We had better stay here in charge of the _Annihilator_ until the boys and Andy come back. They can’t be away much longer now.”

So worn out and exhausted were the boys and the hunter that they slept for several hours in the cave, and the rest did them good. They awoke in better spirits, and, after a frugal meal and a sip of the fast- dwindling water, they started off once more to locate the projectile.

“I’m a regular amateur hunter to go and lose my compass,” complained old Andy. “I ought to have it fastened to me, like a baby does the rattle-box. I ought to kick myself,” and he accepted all the blame for their misadventure. But the boys would not suffer him to thus accuse himself, and they insisted that they would shortly be with the two professors and Washington in the _Annihilator_ once more.

“Well, it can’t come any too soon,” said Jack, “for I am beginning to feel the need of a square meal and a big drink of water.”

“So am I,” said Mark, “but let’s not think of it.”

All that day they wandered on, crossing the rugged mountains, climbing towering peaks, and descending into deep valleys. At times they skirted the lips of craters, to look shudderingly into the depths of which made them dizzy, for the bottoms were lost to sight in the black gloom that enshrouded the yawning holes.

Their food was getting less and less, and what there was of it was most unpalatable, for the bread was stale and dry, though the meat kept perfectly in that freezing temperature. How they longed for a hot cup of coffee, such as Washington used to make! and how they would have even exchanged their chance of filling their pockets with the moon diamonds for a good meal, such as was so often served in the projectile!

On and on they went. Once, as they were crossing the lip of a great crater, Mark became dizzy, and would have fallen had not Jack caught him. Mark had forgotten, for the moment, and had lowered his life- torch, so that his mouth and nose were not enclosed in the film of vapor that emanated from the perforated box.

“You must be careful,” Andy warned them.

“What’s the use?” asked Mark despondently. “I don’t believe we’ll ever find the projectile.”

“Of course we will!” exclaimed Jack. “I know we can’t be far from it, only we can’t see it because of the mountains. If we only had some way of letting them know where we are, they could signal to us.”

“By gum!” suddenly exclaimed Andy.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jack, for the old hunter was capering about like a boy.

“Matter? Why, the matter is that I’m a double-barrelled dunce,” was the answer. “Look here; do you see that?” and he held up his rifle.

“Sure,” replied Jack, wondering if their sufferings and worry had made the old hunter simple-minded.

“What is it?” asked Andy, shaking it in the air.

“Your rifle,” answered Mark, looking at Jack in surprise.

“Of course,” answered the hunter, “and a rifle is made to be fired off, and here I’ve been carrying mine for nearly three days now, and I haven’t shot it once. You wanted a signal to make the folks in the projectile hear us. Well, here it is I I guess they can hear this, and when they do they can come and get us, for we don’t seem able to reach them. I’ll just fire some signal shots.”

“That’s the stuff!” cried Jack, and Andy proceeded to discharge his rifle.

The report the gun made in that quiet place was tremendous, and the effect was curious, for, there being no air in the ordinary acceptance of the word, there was no echo. It was as if one had hit two shingles together. Merely a loud, sharp sound, and then an utter silence, the vibrations being swallowed up instantly.

“Do you think they can hear that?” asked Andy.

“It sounds loud enough,” answered Jack. “Shoot some more,” which the old hunter did. They wandered on still farther, firing at intervals all that day, but there came no answering report or calls to direct them to the projectile. They climbed once more to the tops of towering peaks, but there they found their range of vision limited by peaks still higher, while there were great valleys, in one of which, whether near or far they could not tell, they knew, the _Annihilator_ was hidden.

They had almost lost track of time now, and they did not know how far they had wandered. They had sought out lonely caves to sleep in when they were so weary they could go no farther, and they had sat about on bleak rocks shivering, and had eaten their scanty meals–shivering because in spite of their fur garments they were cold, as they did not eat enough to keep their blood properly circulating. They could not when they did not have the food to eat!

Andy used up all but a few of his cartridges in firing signals, but to no purpose. Their water was all but gone, and of their food only enough remained for a day longer, though their life-torches still gave forth plenty of vapor.

“Well, what’s to be done?” asked Jack, as they sat about, looking helplessly at one another.

“Might as well give up,” suggested Mark bitterly.

“Give up? Not a bit of it!” cried Andy, as cheerfully as he could. “Let’s keep on. We’ll find the projectile sooner or later.”

So they kept on. It was while making their way between two great mountain peaks that towered above their heads on either side, thousands of feet up, making a sort of natural gateway, that Jack, who was in the lead, cried out in astonishment at the sight that met his gaze when he had passed the pinnacles.

“Look!” he shouted, pointing forward.

What he indicated was a great crater–larger and deeper than any they had yet met with. It seemed a mile across, and, if gloom and darkness were any indications, it was a hundred miles deep.

But it was not the size of the great hole in the ground, not its fearful gloom, that attracted their attention. What did was a great natural or artificial bridge of stone that was thrown across the middle of it from edge to edge. A bridge of stone that spanned the abyss; a roadway, fifty feet wide, which reached into some unknown land, connecting it with the desolate country in which our friends had been wandering.

“A bridge of stone across the cavern,” said Jack, “but see. Here is a house of stone. This was the guard-house, I’ll wager–the guardhouse at the entrance to some city, and that bridge is the means by which the inhabitants entered and left. Maybe we are at the edge of the inhabited part of the moon!”

His words thrilled them. They pressed forward to the beginning of the bridge across the crater. They looked into the stone hut. Clearly it had been made by hands, for it was composed of blocks of stone, neatly fitted together. Jack’s theory seemed confirmed.

Mark peered into the house, and uttered a cry of alarm.

“There’s a petrified man in there!” he gasped.

Jack and Andy looked in at the open window. They saw, sitting at a table, which was also of rock, a man, evidently a soldier, or rather he had been, for he was nothing but stone now, like the hut in which he dwelt.

The wanderers looked at each other with fear on their faces. What dreadful mystery were they about to penetrate? “Let’s cross the bridge,” suggested Jack, in a low voice. “Maybe this marks the end of desolation. Perhaps we may find life and food across the crater.”

“But–but the petrified man!” gasped Mark.

“What of it? He won’t hurt us. Maybe there are live men, who will take care of us, beyond there,” and Jack pointed across the bridge of stone.

There was nothing to keep them where they were–in the land of desolation. They could not live much longer there, with no food and water. To pass on over the crater seemed the only thing to do.

“Come ahead,” called Jack boldly. They followed him. They kept in the middle of the road, for to approach the edge, where there was a sheer descent of so many feet that it made them dizzy to think of it, filled them with terror. On they hurried until, in a short time, they had crossed the great chasm.

The road over the crater came to an end between two peaks, similar to those at the beginning. Jack was the first to pass them, and as he emerged he once more uttered a cry–a cry of fear and wonder.

And well he might, for in a valley below the wanderers there was a city. A great city, with wonderful buildings, with wide streets well laid out–a city in which figures of many men and women could be seen– little children too! A fair city, teeming with life, it seemed!

But then, as they looked again, struck by the curious quiet that prevailed, they knew that they were gazing down on a city of the dead– a city where the inhabitants had been turned to stone, even as had the soldier on guard in his lonely hut.

They had come upon a petrified city of the moon!



“Well, if this isn’t the limit!” burst out Jack, when he had stood and contemplated the silent city for several moments, which also his companions did. “After all our wanderings and troubles, when we do find a place, it isn’t any good to us. I don’t suppose there is a square meal in the whole town! Isn’t it wonderful, though–every person turned to stone!”

“Wonderful!” gasped old Andy. “I never saw anything like it in all my life! What do you reckon did it, boys?”

“The same thing that turned the man in the hut, and the one Washington thought was a ghost, into stone,” answered Mark. “There was a rain of some lime-water, or a liquid charged with similar chemicals, and the people were turned to rocks.”

It was uncanny, and for a moment they hesitated on the edge of the city, which lay in a sort of cup-like valley, surrounded on all sides by towering peaks of the moon mountains. The bridge over which they had come afforded the only entrance to the city, and in times of war (provided the inhabitants of the moon ever fought) the passage must have been well guarded.

It was evidently a time of peace when the calamity that turned the inhabitants to stone came upon them, for only one soldier was in the guard hut–doubtless being there merely to give an alarm, or possibly to keep out undesirable strangers.

“Well, are we going to stand here all day?” asked Jack of his companions, when they had contemplated the silent city for five minutes longer.

“I say, let’s go down there and see what we can find. I’m getting hungry.”

“There’ll be nothing there to eat,” declared Mark. “If there ever was anything, it’s now stone. Think of a loaf of bread like a brick, and a chunk of meat like some great rock!”

“Let’s go down, anyhow,” added Andy, and they advanced.

As they got down into the streets, the weird effect came over them more strongly. It was as if they had suddenly entered some large town, and at their advent every living person had been turned into an image.

“Wonderful, wonderful!” murmured Jack.

“I’ve read of the uncovering of the ancient buried cities, and how they found women in the kitchen baking bread, and men at their work, but this goes ahead of that, for here the people are not dust–they are statues!”

“It certainly is wonderful,” agreed Mark. “I only wish the two professors could see this. They could write several books about it. This proves that the moon was once inhabited, though it is dead now. The projectile should have come to this part of the moon.”

“Maybe they’ll bring it here, when we get back and tell them what we’ve seen,” suggested Jack.

“Yes, if we ever do get back,” went on his chum, with a return of his gloomy thoughts.

The strangeness of the scenes all about them can scarcely be imagined. Think of looking at a city street teeming with life, men and women hurrying here and there, dogs running about, children at their play, and then suddenly seeing that same street become as dead as some mountain, with the people represented as stones on that same mountain, and you can get some idea of what our friends looked upon.

Here was a woman, looking in a store window, probably at some bargains, though even the very window and store itself was now stone, and the woman was like a block of marble. Near her was a little child, also turned to stone, and there were a number of men, standing together on a street corner as if they had been talking politics when the calamity overtook them.

There were shops where the workers had been turned to stone at their benches, there were houses at the windows of which stone faces peered out, and there were parks on the benches of which sat men, women and children, stiff and solid–creatures of stone! Truly it was a city of the dead!

The wanderers walked about, seeing new wonders on every side. They spoke in whispers at times, as though at the sound of a loud voice the silent ones would awaken and resume the occupations or pleasures they had left off centuries ago.

Another strange part of it was that the people were not so very different from those of the earth. They were exactly the same in size and feature, but their clothing, as nearly as could be told from the stone garments, seemed of a bygone fashion, such as was in vogue hundreds of years ago. There were no horses observed, though there were stone dogs and cats, and the shops given over to the sale of food contained in the windows what seemed to be chunks of meat, loaves of bread, and pies and cakes, though now they were only pieces of rock.

“It’s just as if one of our cities and the people in it should be suddenly petrified,” said Mark. “It’s almost like the earth up here; only they don’t seem to have gotten to trolley cars yet.”

“Maybe they would if the moon hadn’t cooled off when it did, and killed them all,” suggested Jack. “But, I say, let’s get down to something more practical than theorizing.”

“What, for instance?” asked Mark.

“Looking for something to eat,” went on Jack. “I’m nearly starved, and I have only half a sandwich left. I want to eat it, yet, if I do, I don’t know where I’m going to get more. And as for water, I’d give a handful of diamonds, if I had them, for half a glass of even warm water.”

“Yes, we do need food and water badly,” said Andy.

“Then let’s look for it,” suggested Jack. “If we can find food in any of these houses or shops, I don’t believe the people will care if we take it.”

“Find food here?” cried Mark. “Why, you must be crazy! All the food is turned to stone, and what isn’t would be spoiled! Why, no one has been alive here for thousands and thousands of years!”

“That’s nothing,” asserted Jack. “Don’t you remember reading how, in the arctic regions, they have found the bodies of prehistoric elephants and mastodons encased in blocks of ice, where they have been for centuries. The meat is perfectly preserved because of the cold. And what of the grains of wheat they find in the coffins of Egyptian mummies? Some of that is three thousand years old, yet it grows when they plant it, and they can make bread of it.

“Now, maybe we can find some wheat or something to eat in some of these houses. If there’s meat, it will be perfectly preserved, for the temperature is below freezing.”

“That may be,” admitted Mark, convinced, in spite of himself, “but it’s turned to stone, I tell you.”

“The outside part may be,” said Jack, “but if we can crack off the outside layer of stone we may find some good meat inside. I’m going to look, anyhow.”

“That’s not a bad idea!” cried Andy with enthusiasm. “Think of having a loaf of bread and some beefsteak thousands of years old. I suppose they had beefsteak here,” he added cautiously.

“Some kind of meat, anyhow,” agreed Jack. “Well, let’s look for a place that was once a restaurant or hotel, and we’ll see what luck we have. Come on.”

They walked along the silent streets, with their silent occupants, and finally Jack found what he was seeking. It was an eating place, to judge by the appearance, and at tables inside were seated stone men and women.

“Back to the kitchen!” cried Jack with enthusiasm. “There’s where we’ll find food, if there is any!”

“It’ll be all stone,” declared Mark, but he and Andy followed Jack.

They came to the place where was what appeared to be a stove. It was more like a brick oven, however, than a modern range, though in dishes that were now stone something was being cooked when the catastrophe occurred.

“There’s meat, I’ll wager!” cried Jack, pointing to several objects on a table. They looked like chunks of beef, but when Mark struck them with the end of his life-torch they gave forth a sound as if a rock had been tapped.

“What did I tell you?” Mark asked, “Nothing but rocks. And the bread is also a stone,” he added bitterly.

“You’re right,” admitted Jack, with a sigh. “And I’m getting hungrier than ever.” They all were. For days they had been without sufficient food, and now, when it was almost within their reach, they were denied it by this curious trick of nature. With pale and wan faces they gazed at each other, wetting their parched lips, for they had some time since taken the last of their scant supply of water, and they were very thirsty.

“I guess it’s all up with us,” murmured Mark. “We’ll soon be like these poor people here–blocks of stone.”

“If we only could change this meat back into it’s original shape,” spoke Jack musingly, smiting his fist against a block of beef.

Suddenly Andy uttered a cry.

“I have it!” he fairly shouted.

“What?” asked Jack.

“I have a plan to get meat out of this hunk of stone!”

The two boys gazed at the old hunter as though they thought he had lost his reason, but, chuckling gleefully, Andy took from his pouch several cartridges, and proceeded to remove the wads, and pour the powder from the paper shells out on the stone table.

“I’ll have some meat for us,” he muttered. “We shan’t starve now!”



“What are you going to do, Andy?” asked Jack, as he watched the old hunter.

“What am I going to do? Why, I’m going to blast out some of this meat, that’s what I’m going to do! I heard you boys talking about elephants and other things being preserved for centuries in a cake of ice, and, if that’s true, why won’t the meat in this petrified city be preserved just as well? It’s always below freezing here, and that’s cold enough.”

“But the meat has turned to stone,” objected Mark.

“Only the outside part of it, to my thinking,” answered Andy. “I believe that inside these lumps of rock we’ll find good, fresh meat!”

“But how are you going to get it?” asked Jack.

“Just as I told you–blast it out with some of the powder from my cartridges. I used to be a miner before I turned hunter, and when we wanted gold we used to fire a charge in some rocks. Now we want meat, and I’m going to do the same thing. I’ll put some powder underneath this block of stone that looks as if it was a chunk of roast beef, and we’ll see what happens. It’s lucky I saved some of my cartridges.”

While he was talking the old hunter had taken some of the powder and put it back in one of the paper shells. Then, making a fuse by twisting some powder grains in a piece of paper he happened to have in his pocket, he inserted it in the improvised bomb, using some dirt and small stones with which to tamp down the charge. He discovered a crack in the big stone, which they hoped would prove to be a chunk of roast beef, and Andy put the cartridge in that.

“Look out now, boys,” he called, “I’m going to light the fuse. I didn’t make a heavy charge, but it might do some damage, so we’ll go outside.”

They hurried from the place, with its silent guests and waiters, and reached the street. A moment later there sounded a dull explosion.

“Now, let’s see what we’ve got!” called Jack.

Back to the kitchen they ran, the two boys in the lead.

“Why–why–the stone has disappeared!” cried Jack, in disappointment, as he glanced all around.

“Yes, but look here,” added Mark. “Here are bits of meat,” and he picked up from the stone table some scraps of meat.

“Is it really roast beef?” cried Jack. “Good to eat?”

Mark smelled of it. Then he put the morsel cautiously to his lips. The next instant it had disappeared. It was proof enough.

“Good! I should say it was good!” exclaimed Mark. “I wish there was more of it! What happened to the rock of meat, Andy?”

“I used too heavy a charge, and it blew all to pieces. I’ll know better next time. There are lots more chunks of meat, and we’ll soon have a feast. I’ll make another bombshell.”

He worked rapidly while Jack sampled some of the shreds of meat that had been scattered about by the explosion. The beef was perfectly cooked, and in spite of its great age it was as fresh and palatable as frozen meat ever is. Besides the heat generated by the explosion had partly thawed it, so that there was no trouble in chewing it.

Once more came the explosion, a slight one this time, and when the adventurers re-entered the kitchen they found that what had been a lump of stone had been broken open, and the middle part, like the kernel of a nut, was sweet and good. It was cooked, so they did not have to eat it raw.

“Say, maybe this isn’t good!” exclaimed Jack, chewing away. “It’s the best ever!”

“And there’s enough in this city to keep us alive for months, if we can’t find the projectile in that time,” declared Andy.

“Don’t you think we will?” asked Mark.

“Of course, but I was only just mentioning it. Now, eat all you want, boys, I have quite a few cartridges left. I didn’t fire away as many as I thought I did, and we can blast out a dinner any time we want it. So eat hearty!”

They needed no second invitation, and for the first time in several days they had enough to eat. It was comfortable in the petrified restaurant, too, for they could move about without carrying their life- torches constantly in their hand. The gases from the perforated boxes filled the rooms, and were not quickly dispelled by the poisonous vapors as they were outside, so they could walk around in comparative freedom.

“Now, if we could only blast out a loaf of bread, we’d be all right,” said Jack. They found some petrified loaves, but on breaking one open it was found to be stone all the way through.

Spurred on by an overwhelming thirst, they wandered about the dead city, but found no moisture. They tried to chew some of the pale green vegetation that grew more plentiful on this side of the moon, but it was exceedingly bitter, and they could not stand it, though there was some juice in it.

They crossed the city, and wandered out into the country beyond. It appeared to have been a fertile land before the stone death settled down on it. They saw farmers in the fields, turned into images, beside the oxen with which they had been plowing. But nowhere was there a sign of water. Had it not been for a frozen rice pudding, they would have perished that first day in the stone city.

As it was, they dragged out a miserable existence, eating from time to time of the blasted meat. But even this palled on them after a while, for their lips were parched and cracked, and their tongues were swollen in their mouths.

“I can’t stand this any longer!” cried Jack.

“What are you going to do?” asked Mark.

“Go out and look for water. There must be some in the country outside if there isn’t any in this city. I’m going to have a look. Besides, if I’m going to die, I might as well die while I’m busy. I’m not going to sit here in this dreadful place and give up.”

His words urged them to follow him, and, with lagging steps, for they were weak and faint, they went from the restaurant, which they had made their home since coming to the petrified city.

Out into the open fields they went, but their search seemed likely to be in vain. Between times of looking for the water they scanned the sky for a sight of the projectile, which, hoping against hope, they thought they might see hovering over them. But there was no sight of it.

They came to a vast, level plain, girt with mountains, a lonesome place, where there was no sign of life. Listlessly they walked over it.

Suddenly Andy, who was in the lead, uttered a cry and sprang forward. The boys ran to him, and found the old hunter gazing into the depths of a great black pool, which filled a depression in the surface of the moon. It was a small crater, and was filled, nearly to the top, with some black liquid, which gloomily reflected back the light of the sun.

“I’m going to have a drink!” cried Andy, and before the boys could stop him he threw himself face downward at the edge of the black pool.



“Stop! Don’t drink that! It may be poison!” yelled Jack.

“Pull him back!” shouted Mark, and together they advanced on the old hunter. They tried to drag him away from the black pool, but Andy shook them off.

“Let–me–alone!” he gasped, as he bent over the uninviting liquid and drank deeply. “It’s water, I tell you–good water–and I’m almost– dead–from–thirst!”

“Water? Is that water?” cried Jack.

“Well, it’s the nearest thing to it that I’ve tasted since I’ve been lost on the moon,” spoke Andy, as he slowly arose. “My, but that was good!” he added fervently.

“But–water?” gasped Mark. “How can there be water here?”

“Taste and see,” invited the old hunter.

They hesitated a moment, and then followed his example. The liquid– water it evidently had once been–had a peculiar taste, but it was not bad. By some curious chemical action, which they never understood, the liquid had been prevented from evaporating, nor was it frozen or petrified as was everything else on the moon.

What gave the liquid its peculiar black color they could not learn. Sufficient for them that it was capable of quenching their thirst, and they all drank deeply and refilled their bottles.

“Now, I feel like eating again,” spoke Andy, “We can take some of this back with us, and have a good meal on blasted meat. Whenever we get thirsty we’ll have to make a trip back here for water.”

The boys agreed with him. They examined the black pool. It appeared to be filled by hidden springs, though there was no bubbling, and the surface was as unruffled as a mirror. The liquid was not very inviting, being as black as ink, but the color appeared to be a sort of reflection, for when the water, if such it was, had been put into bottles it at once became clear, nor did it stain their faces or hands.

“Well, it’s another queer thing in this queer moon,” said Jack. “I wish the two professors could see this place. They’d have lots to write about.”

“I wonder if we’ll ever see them again?” asked Mark.

“Sure,” replied Jack hopefully. “We’ll fill our lunch baskets, take a lot of water along, and have another hunt for the projectile soon.”

They did, but with no success. For several days more they lived in the petrified city, the meat encased in its block of stone, which Andy blasted from time to time, and the black water keeping them alive. From time to time they went out in the surrounding country, looking for the projectile. But they could not find the place where they had left it, nor could they find even the place where they had picked up the lost tool that had cost them so much suffering. They were more completely lost than ever. They crossed back and forth on the bridge over the crater chasm, and penetrated for many miles in a radius from that, marking their way by chipping off pieces of the rocky pinnacles, as they did not want to leave the petrified city behind.

From some peaks they caught glimpses of other towns that had fallen under the strange spell of the petrification. Some were larger and some smaller than the one they called “home.”

Jack proposed visiting some of them, thinking they might find better food, but Mark and Andy decided it was best to stay where they were, as they were nearer the supposed location of the projectile.

“I think they’ll manage to fix it up somehow, so it will move,” said Andy, “and then they’ll come to look for us. I hope it will be soon, though.”

“Why?” asked Jack, struck by something in the tone of the old hunter.

“Because,” replied Andy, “I am afraid our life-torches won’t last much longer. Mine seems to be weakening. I have to hold it very close to my face now to breathe in comfort, while at first the oxygen from it was so strong that I could hold it two feet off and never notice the poisonous moon vapors.”

This was a new danger, and, thinking of it, the faces of the boys became graver than ever. Death seemed bound to get them somehow.

Two more days went by. They had now been lost on the moon over a week. Each one now noticed that his life-torch was weakening. How much longer would they last? They dared not answer that question. They could only hope.

The sun, too, was moving away from them. Soon the long night would set in. By Mark’s computation there was only three more days of daylight left. What would happen in the desolate darkness?

As they were returning from the black pool, with their water bottles filled, and put inside the fur bags to prevent the frost from reaching them, Mark happened to gaze over across a line of towering peaks. What he saw caused him to gasp in astonishment.

“Jack! Andy! See!” he whispered hoarsely, pointing a trembling finger at the sky.

There, outlined against the cloudless heavens, was a long, black shape, floating through the air about two miles distant.

“The projectile! The _Annihilator!_” yelled Jack. “Shout! Call to them! Wave your hands! Andy, fire your gun! They have started off, and they can’t see us. We must make them hear!”

Together they raised their voices in a mighty shout. The old hunter fired his gun several times. They waved their hands frantically.

But the projectile never swerved from its course. On it moved slowly, those in it paying no heed to the wanderers, for they did not hear them. Andy fired his gun again, but the signal failed, and a few minutes later the _Annihilator_ was lost to sight behind a great peak.



Dumbly the wanderers gazed at each other. They could not comprehend it at first. That the projectile, on which their very lives depended in this dead world of the moon, should float away and leave them seemed incredible. Yet they had witnessed it.

“Do–do you really think we saw it–saw the _Annihilator_, Mark?” asked Jack in a low voice, after several minutes had passed.