The Lost Continent

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 63

to explore the Rhine as far up as the launch would take
us. If we found no civilization there we would return to the North
Sea, continue up the coast to the Elbe, and follow that river and the
canals of Berlin. Here, at least, I was sure that we should find what
we sought--and, if not, then all Europe had reverted to barbarism.

The weather remained fine, and we made excellent progress, but
everywhere along the Rhine we met with the same disappointment--no sign
of civilized man, in fact, no sign of man at all.

I was not enjoying the exploration of modern Europe as I had
anticipated--I was unhappy. Victory seemed changed, too. I had
enjoyed her company at first, but since the trip across the Channel I
had held aloof from her.

Her chin was in the air most of the time, and yet I rather think that
she regretted her friendliness with Snider, for I noticed that she
avoided him entirely. He, on the contrary, emboldened by her former
friendliness, sought every opportunity to be near her. I should have
liked nothing better than a reasonably good excuse to punch his head;
yet, paradoxically, I was ashamed of myself for harboring him any ill
will. I realized that there was something the matter with me, but I
did not know what it was.

Matters remained thus for several days, and we continued our journey up
the Rhine. At Cologne, I had hoped to find some reassuring
indications, but there was no Cologne. And as there had been no other
cities along the river up to that point, the devastation was infinitely
greater than time alone could have wrought. Great guns, bombs, and
mines must have leveled every building that man had raised, and then
nature, unhindered, had covered the ghastly evidence of human depravity
with her beauteous mantle of verdure. Splendid trees reared their
stately tops where splendid cathedrals once had reared their domes, and
sweet wild flowers blossomed in simple serenity in soil that once was
drenched with human blood.

Nature had reclaimed what man had once stolen from her and defiled. A
herd of zebras grazed where once the German kaiser may have reviewed
his troops. An antelope rested peacefully in a bed of daisies where,
perhaps, two hundred years ago a big gun belched its terror-laden
messages of death, of hate, of destruction against the works of man and
God alike.

We were in need of fresh meat, yet I hesitated to shatter the quiet and
peaceful serenity

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