The Land That Time Forgot

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 29

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

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" ***** The following changes have been made: PAGE LINE ORIGINAL CHANGED TO 17 17 merks marks 554 ertswhile erstwhile 591 so so do so 90 26 beats beasts 934 presntly presently 124 20 rescurer rescuer 171 27 walls.