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
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
I had gotten well over the area of the wreck when not a half-dozen yards ahead of me a lifeboat shot bow foremost out of the ocean almost its entire length to flop down upon its keel with a mighty splash.Page 6
Whether she meant anything personal in that reply I did not know; but I took it as personal and it made me feel mighty good.Page 19
Several of the other men now asked permission to come on deck, and soon all but those actually engaged in some necessary duty were standing around smoking and talking, all in the best of spirits.Page 20
"When were yez after smellin' iceber-rgs off Peru?" Icebergs! "Icebergs, nothin'!" exclaimed one of the Englishmen.Page 34
" "If you are right, it might account for much of the deviation of the compass during the past two days," I suggested.Page 37
It must have been about two bells of the afternoon watch that Bradley called my attention to the branch of a tree, with leaves upon it, floating on the sea.Page 40
As I gave the command which sent the U-33 slowly ahead, I could not but feel a certain uncanny presentiment of evil.Page 41
Into what sort of strange land had fate guided us? The instant the deck was awash, I opened the conning-tower hatch and stepped out.Page 57
All the time the sailor stood rigidly at attention, nor could I tell from his expression whether he most resented the blow his officer had struck him or my interference in the gospel of the Kaiser-breed.Page 58
" "What other sort of soul, then, would you expect from `a comic little figure hopping from the cradle to the grave'?" I inquired.Page 61
Indisputable evidence of this is on the face of the cliffs.Page 68
It was now quite dark, and as I crept around the edge of the cliff, I saw at a little distance a great fire around which were many figures--apparently human figures.Page 70
"Come," I said to Lys, "we must follow them.Page 72
It was too dark to do more than this.Page 75
It was a little mound of new-turned earth sprinkled with flowers long since withered, and at one end was a flat slab of sandstone stuck in the ground.Page 76
When I could look up, I saw a number of giant figures pinioning me down, while others stood about surveying me.Page 78
Here, as in the last tribe, there were no children or any old people.Page 81
It was late in the morning.Page 86
And I doubt not but that Kho would easily have bested me in an encounter of that sort had not Lys' voice awakened within my momentarily reverted brain the skill and cunning of reasoning man.