The Lost Continent

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 3

unpeopled spaces of the mighty oceans. And so I
joined the navy, coming up from the ranks, as we all must, learning our
craft as we advance. My promotion was rapid, for my family seems to
inherit naval lore. We are born officers, and I reserve to myself no
special credit for an early advancement in the service.

At twenty I found myself a lieutenant in command of the aero-submarine
Coldwater, of the SS-96 class. The Coldwater was one of the first of
the air and underwater craft which have been so greatly improved since
its launching, and was possessed of innumerable weaknesses which,
fortunately, have been eliminated in more recent vessels of similar
type.

Even when I took command, she was fit only for the junk pile; but the
world-old parsimony of government retained her in active service, and
sent two hundred men to sea in her, with myself, a mere boy, in command
of her, to patrol thirty from Iceland to the Azores.

Much of my service had been spent aboard the great merchantmen-of-war.
These are the utility naval vessels that have transformed the navies of
old, which burdened the peoples with taxes for their support, into the
present day fleets of self-supporting ships that find ample time for
target practice and gun drill while they bear freight and the mails
from the continents to the far-scattered island of Pan-America.

This change in service was most welcome to me, especially as it brought
with it coveted responsibilities of sole command, and I was prone to
overlook the deficiencies of the Coldwater in the natural pride I felt
in my first ship.

The Coldwater was fully equipped for two months' patrolling--the
ordinary length of assignment to this service--and a month had already
passed, its monotony entirely unrelieved by sight of another craft,
when the first of our misfortunes befell.

We had been riding out a storm at an altitude of about three thousand
feet. All night we had hovered above the tossing billows of the
moonlight clouds. The detonation of the thunder and the glare of
lightning through an occasional rift in the vaporous wall proclaimed
the continued fury of the tempest upon the surface of the sea; but we,
far above it all, rode in comparative ease upon the upper gale. With
the coming of dawn the clouds beneath us became a glorious sea of gold
and silver, soft and beautiful; but they could not deceive us as to the
blackness and the terrors of the storm-lashed ocean which they hid.

I was at breakfast when my chief engineer

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