The Lost Continent

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 17

Up the bay and into the River Tamar we
motored through a solitude as unbroken as that which rested upon the
waters of the Channel. For all we could see, there was no indication
that man had ever set his foot upon this silent coast.

I was nonplused, and then, for the first time, there crept over me an
intuition of the truth.

Here was no sign of war. As far as this portion of the Devon coast was
concerned, that seemed to have been over for many years, but neither
were there any people. Yet I could not find it within myself to
believe that I should find no inhabitants in England. Reasoning thus,
I discovered that it was improbable that a state of war still existed,
and that the people all had been drawn from this portion of England to
some other, where they might better defend themselves against an
invader.

But what of their ancient coast defenses? What was there here in
Plymouth Bay to prevent an enemy landing in force and marching where
they wished? Nothing. I could not believe that any enlightened
military nation, such as the ancient English are reputed to have been,
would have voluntarily so deserted an exposed coast and an excellent
harbor to the mercies of an enemy.

I found myself becoming more and more deeply involved in quandary. The
puzzle which confronted me I could not unravel. We had landed, and I
now stood upon the spot where, according to my map, a large city should
rear its spires and chimneys. There was nothing but rough, broken
ground covered densely with weeds and brambles, and tall, rank, grass.

Had a city ever stood there, no sign of it remained. The roughness and
unevenness of the ground suggested something of a great mass of debris
hidden by the accumulation of centuries of undergrowth.

I drew the short cutlass with which both officers and men of the navy
are, as you know, armed out of courtesy to the traditions and memories
of the past, and with its point dug into the loam about the roots of
the vegetation growing at my feet.

The blade entered the soil for a matter of seven inches, when it struck
upon something stonelike. Digging about the obstacle, I presently
loosened it, and when I had withdrawn it from its sepulcher I found the
thing to be an ancient brick of clay, baked in an oven.

Delcarte we had left in charge of the boat; but Snider and Taylor were
with me,

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