The Land That Time Forgot

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34

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

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