The Lost Continent

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 4

entered and saluted. His
face was grave, and I thought he was even a trifle paler than usual.

"Well?" I asked.

He drew the back of his forefinger nervously across his brow in a
gesture that was habitual with him in moments of mental stress.

"The gravitation-screen generators, sir," he said. "Number one went to
the bad about an hour and a half ago. We have been working upon it
steadily since; but I have to report, sir, that it is beyond repair."

"Number two will keep us supplied," I answered. "In the meantime we
will send a wireless for relief."

"But that is the trouble, sir," he went on. "Number two has stopped.
I knew it would come, sir. I made a report on these generators three
years ago. I advised then that they both be scrapped. Their principle
is entirely wrong. They're done for." And, with a grim smile, "I
shall at least have the satisfaction of knowing my report was accurate."

"Have we sufficient reserve screen to permit us to make land, or, at
least, meet our relief halfway?" I asked.

"No, sir," he replied gravely; "we are sinking now."

"Have you anything further to report?" I asked.

"No, sir," he said.

"Very good," I replied; and, as I dismissed him, I rang for my wireless
operator. When he appeared, I gave him a message to the secretary of
the navy, to whom all vessels in service on thirty and one hundred
seventy-five report direct. I explained our predicament, and stated
that with what screening force remained I should continue in the air,
making as rapid headway toward St. Johns as possible, and that when we
were forced to take to the water I should continue in the same
direction.

The accident occurred directly over 30d and about 52d N. The surface
wind was blowing a tempest from the west. To attempt to ride out such
a storm upon the surface seemed suicidal, for the Coldwater was not
designed for surface navigation except under fair weather conditions.
Submerged, or in the air, she was tractable enough in any sort of
weather when under control; but without her screen generators she was
almost helpless, since she could not fly, and, if submerged, could not
rise to the surface.

All these defects have been remedied in later models; but the knowledge
did not help us any that day aboard the slowly settling Coldwater, with
an angry sea roaring beneath, a tempest raging out of the west, and 30d
only a few knots astern.

To cross

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