The Lost Continent by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 1 out of 3
The Lost Continent was originally published under
the title Beyond Thirty
THE LOST CONTINENT
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since earliest childhood I have been strangely fascinated by
the mystery surrounding the history of the last days of
twentieth century Europe. My interest is keenest, perhaps,
not so much in relation to known facts as to speculation
upon the unknowable of the two centuries that have rolled by
since human intercourse between the Western and Eastern
Hemispheres ceased--the mystery of Europe's state following
the termination of the Great War--provided, of course, that
the war had been terminated.
From out of the meagerness of our censored histories we
learned that for fifteen years after the cessation of
diplomatic relations between the United States of North
America and the belligerent nations of the Old World, news
of more or less doubtful authenticity filtered, from time to
time, into the Western Hemisphere from the Eastern.
Then came the fruition of that historic propaganda which is
best described by its own slogan: "The East for the East--
the West for the West," and all further intercourse was
stopped by statute.
Even prior to this, transoceanic commerce had practically
ceased, owing to the perils and hazards of the mine-strewn
waters of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Just when
submarine activities ended we do not know but the last
vessel of this type sighted by a Pan-American merchantman
was the huge Q 138, which discharged twenty-nine torpedoes
at a Brazilian tank steamer off the Bermudas in the fall of
1972. A heavy sea and the excellent seamanship of the
master of the Brazilian permitted the Pan-American to escape
and report this last of a long series of outrages upon our
commerce. God alone knows how many hundreds of our ancient
ships fell prey to the roving steel sharks of blood-frenzied
Europe. Countless were the vessels and men that passed over
our eastern and western horizons never to return; but
whether they met their fates before the belching tubes of
submarines or among the aimlessly drifting mine fields, no
man lived to tell.
And then came the great Pan-American Federation which linked
the Western Hemisphere from pole to pole under a single
flag, which joined the navies of the New World into the
mightiest fighting force that ever sailed the seven seas--
the greatest argument for peace the world had ever known.
Since that day peace had reigned from the western shores of
the Azores to the western shores of the Hawaiian Islands,
nor has any man of either hemisphere dared cross 30dW. or
175dW. From 30d to 175d is ours--from 30d to 175d is
peace, prosperity and happiness.
Beyond was the great unknown. Even the geographies of my
boyhood showed nothing beyond. We were taught of nothing
beyond. Speculation was discouraged. For two hundred years
the Eastern Hemisphere had been wiped from the maps and
histories of Pan-America. Its mention in fiction, even, was
Our ships of peace patrol thirty and one hundred seventy-
five. What ships from beyond they have warned only the
secret archives of government show; but, a naval officer
myself, I have gathered from the traditions of the service
that it has been fully two hundred years since smoke or sail
has been sighted east of 30d or west of 175d. The fate of
the relinquished provinces which lay beyond the dead lines
we could only speculate upon. That they were taken by the
military power, which rose so suddenly in China after the
fall of the republic, and which wrested Manchuria and Korea
from Russia and Japan, and also absorbed the Philippines, is
quite within the range of possibility.
It was the commander of a Chinese man-of-war who received a
copy of the edict of 1972 from the hand of my illustrious
ancestor, Admiral Turck, on one hundred seventy-five, two
hundred and six years ago, and from the yellowed pages of
the admiral's diary I learned that the fate of the
Philippines was even then presaged by these Chinese naval
Yes, for over two hundred years no man crossed 30d to 175d
and lived to tell his story--not until chance drew me across
and back again, and public opinion, revolting at last
against the drastic regulations of our long-dead forbears,
demanded that my story be given to the world, and that the
narrow interdict which commanded peace, prosperity, and
happiness to halt at 30d and 175d be removed forever.
I am glad that it was given to me to be an instrument in the
hands of Providence for the uplifting of benighted Europe,
and the amelioration of the suffering, degradation, and
abysmal ignorance in which I found her.
I shall not live to see the complete regeneration of the
savage hordes of the Eastern Hemisphere--that is a work
which will require many generations, perhaps ages, so
complete has been their reversion to savagery; but I know
that the work has been started, and I am proud of the share
in it which my generous countrymen have placed in my hands.
The government already possesses a complete official report
of my adventures beyond thirty. In the narrative I purpose
telling my story in a less formal, and I hope, a more
entertaining, style; though, being only a naval officer and
without claim to the slightest literary ability, I shall
most certainly fall far short of the possibilities which are
inherent in my subject. That I have passed through the most
wondrous adventures that have befallen a civilized man
during the past two centuries encourages me in the belief
that, however ill the telling, the facts themselves will
command your interest to the final page.
Beyond thirty! Romance, adventure, strange peoples,
fearsome beasts--all the excitement and scurry of the lives
of the twentieth century ancients that have been denied us
in these dull days of peace and prosaic prosperity--all, all
lay beyond thirty, the invisible barrier between the stupid,
commercial present and the carefree, barbarous past.
What boy has not sighed for the good old days of wars,
revolutions, and riots; how I used to pore over the
chronicles of those old days, those dear old days, when
workmen went armed to their labors; when they fell upon one
another with gun and bomb and dagger, and the streets ran
red with blood! Ah, but those were the times when life was
worth the living; when a man who went out by night knew not
at which dark corner a "footpad" might leap upon and slay
him; when wild beasts roamed the forest and the jungles, and
there were savage men, and countries yet unexplored.
Now, in all the Western Hemisphere dwells no man who may not
find a school house within walking distance of his home, or
at least within flying distance.
The wildest beast that roams our waste places lairs in the
frozen north or the frozen south within a government
reserve, where the curious may view him and feed him bread
crusts from the hand with perfect impunity.
But beyond thirty! And I have gone there, and come back;
and now you may go there, for no longer is it high treason,
punishable by disgrace or death, to cross 30d or 175d.
My name is Jefferson Turck. I am a lieutenant in the navy--
in the great Pan-American navy, the only navy which now
exists in all the world.
I was born in Arizona, in the United States of North
America, in the year of our Lord 2116. Therefore, I am
twenty-one years old.
In early boyhood I tired of the teeming cities and
overcrowded rural districts of Arizona. Every generation of
Turcks for over two centuries has been represented in the
navy. The navy called to me, as did the free, wide,
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
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
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 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
"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
"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
To cross thirty or one hundred seventy-five has been, as you
know, the direst calamity that could befall a naval
commander. Court-martial and degradation follow swiftly,
unless as is often the case, the unfortunate man takes his
own life before this unjust and heartless regulation can
hold him up to public scorn.
There has been in the past no excuse, no circumstance, that
could palliate the offense.
"He was in command, and he took his ship across thirty!"
That was sufficient. It might not have been in any way his
fault, as, in the case of the Coldwater, it could not
possibly have been justly charged to my account that the
gravitation-screen generators were worthless; but well I
knew that should chance have it that we were blown across
thirty today--as we might easily be before the terrific west
wind that we could hear howling below us, the responsibility
would fall upon my shoulders.
In a way, the regulation was a good one, for it certainly
accomplished that for which it was intended. We all fought
shy of 30d on the east and 175d on the west, and, though we
had to skirt them pretty close, nothing but an act of God
ever drew one of us across. You all are familiar with the
naval tradition that a good officer could sense proximity to
either line, and for my part, I am firmly convinced of the
truth of this as I am that the compass finds the north
without recourse to tedious processes of reasoning.
Old Admiral Sanchez was wont to maintain that he could smell
thirty, and the men of the first ship in which I sailed
claimed that Coburn, the navigating officer, knew by name
every wave along thirty from 60dN. to 60dS. However, I'd
hate to vouch for this.
Well, to get back to my narrative; we kept on dropping
slowly toward the surface the while we bucked the west wind,
clawing away from thirty as fast as we could. I was on the
bridge, and as we dropped from the brilliant sunlight into
the dense vapor of clouds and on down through them to the
wild, dark storm strata beneath, it seemed that my spirits
dropped with the falling ship, and the buoyancy of hope ran
low in sympathy.
The waves were running to tremendous heights, and the
Coldwater was not designed to meet such waves head on. Her
elements were the blue ether, far above the raging storm, or
the greater depths of ocean, which no storm could ruffle.
As I stood speculating upon our chances once we settled into
the frightful Maelstrom beneath us and at the same time
mentally computing the hours which must elapse before aid
could reach us, the wireless operator clambered up the
ladder to the bridge, and, disheveled and breathless, stood
before me at salute. It needed but a glance at him to
assure me that something was amiss.
"What now?" I asked.
"The wireless, sir!" he cried. "My God, sir, I cannot
"But the emergency outfit?" I asked.
"I have tried everything, sir. I have exhausted every
resource. We cannot send," and he drew himself up and
I dismissed him with a few kind words, for I knew that it
was through no fault of his that the mechanism was
antiquated and worthless, in common with the balance of the
Coldwater's equipment. There was no finer operator in Pan-
America than he.
The failure of the wireless did not appear as momentous to
me as to him, which is not unnatural, since it is but human
to feel that when our own little cog slips, the entire
universe must necessarily be put out of gear. I knew that
if this storm were destined to blow us across thirty, or
send us to the bottom of the ocean, no help could reach us
in time to prevent it. I had ordered the message sent
solely because regulations required it, and not with any
particular hope that we could benefit by it in our present
I had little time to dwell upon the coincidence of the
simultaneous failure of the wireless and the buoyancy
generators, since very shortly after the Coldwater had
dropped so low over the waters that all my attention was
necessarily centered upon the delicate business of settling
upon the waves without breaking my ship's back. With our
buoyancy generators in commission it would have been a
simple thing to enter the water, since then it would have
been but a trifling matter of a forty-five degree dive into
the base of a huge wave. We should have cut into the water
like a hot knife through butter, and have been totally
submerged with scarce a jar--I have done it a thousand
times--but I did not dare submerge the Coldwater for fear
that it would remain submerged to the end of time--a
condition far from conducive to the longevity of commander
Most of my officers were older men than I. John Alvarez, my
first officer, is twenty years my senior. He stood at my
side on the bridge as the ship glided closer and closer to
those stupendous waves. He watched my every move, but he
was by far too fine an officer and gentleman to embarrass me
by either comment or suggestion.
When I saw that we soon would touch, I ordered the ship
brought around broadside to the wind, and there we hovered a
moment until a huge wave reached up and seized us upon its
crest, and then I gave the order that suddenly reversed the
screening force, and let us into the ocean. Down into the
trough we went, wallowing like the carcass of a dead whale,
and then began the fight, with rudder and propellers, to
force the Coldwater back into the teeth of the gale and
drive her on and on, farther and farther from relentless
I think that we should have succeeded, even though the ship
was wracked from stem to stern by the terrific buffetings
she received, and though she were half submerged the greater
part of the time, had no further accident befallen us.
We were making headway, though slowly, and it began to look
as though we were going to pull through. Alvarez never left
my side, though I all but ordered him below for much-needed
rest. My second officer, Porfirio Johnson, was also often
on the bridge. He was a good officer, but a man for whom I
had conceived a rather unreasoning aversion almost at the
first moment of meeting him, an aversion which was not
lessened by the knowledge which I subsequently gained that
he looked upon my rapid promotion with jealousy. He was ten
years my senior both in years and service, and I rather
think he could never forget the fact that he had been an
officer when I was a green apprentice.
As it became more and more apparent that the Coldwater,
under my seamanship, was weathering the tempest and giving
promise of pulling through safely, I could have sworn that I
perceived a shade of annoyance and disappointment growing
upon his dark countenance. He left the bridge finally and
went below. I do not know that he is directly responsible
for what followed so shortly after; but I have always had my
suspicions, and Alvarez is even more prone to place the
blame upon him than I.
It was about six bells of the forenoon watch that Johnson
returned to the bridge after an absence of some thirty
minutes. He seemed nervous and ill at ease--a fact which
made little impression on me at the time, but which both
Alvarez and I recalled subsequently.
Not three minutes after his reappearance at my side the
Coldwater suddenly commenced to lose headway. I seized the
telephone at my elbow, pressing upon the button which would
call the chief engineer to the instrument in the bowels of
the ship, only to find him already at the receiver
attempting to reach me.
"Numbers one, two, and five engines have broken down, sir,"
he called. "Shall we force the remaining three?"
"We can do nothing else," I bellowed into the transmitter.
"They won't stand the gaff, sir," he returned.
"Can you suggest a better plan?" I asked.
"No, sir," he replied.
"Then give them the gaff, lieutenant," I shouted back, and
hung up the receiver.
For twenty minutes the Coldwater bucked the great seas with
her three engines. I doubt if she advanced a foot; but it
was enough to keep her nose in the wind, and, at least, we
were not drifting toward thirty.
Johnson and Alvarez were at my side when, without warning,
the bow swung swiftly around and the ship fell into the
trough of the sea.
"The other three have gone," I said, and I happened to be
looking at Johnson as I spoke. Was it the shadow of a
satisfied smile that crossed his thin lips? I do not know;
but at least he did not weep.
"You always have been curious, sir, about the great unknown
beyond thirty," he said. "You are in a good way to have
your curiosity satisfied." And then I could not mistake the
slight sneer that curved his upper lip. There must have
been a trace of disrespect in his tone or manner which
escaped me, for Alvarez turned upon him like a flash.
"When Lieutenant Turck crosses thirty," he said, "we shall
all cross with him, and God help the officer or the man who
"I shall not be a party to high treason," snapped Johnson.
"The regulations are explicit, and if the Coldwater crosses
thirty it devolves upon you to place Lieutenant Turck under
arrest and immediately exert every endeavor to bring the
ship back into Pan-American waters."
"I shall not know," replied Alvarez, "that the Coldwater
passes thirty; nor shall any other man aboard know it," and,
with his words, he drew a revolver from his pocket, and
before either I or Johnson could prevent it had put a bullet
into every instrument upon the bridge, ruining them beyond
And then he saluted me, and strode from the bridge, a martyr
to loyalty and friendship, for, though no man might know
that Lieutenant Jefferson Turck had taken his ship across
thirty, every man aboard would know that the first officer
had committed a crime that was punishable by both
degradation and death. Johnson turned and eyed me narrowly.
"Shall I place him under arrest?" he asked.
"You shall not," I replied. "Nor shall anyone else."
"You become a party to his crime!" he cried angrily.
"You may go below, Mr. Johnson," I said, "and attend to the
work of unpacking the extra instruments and having them
properly set upon the bridge."
He saluted, and left me, and for some time I stood, gazing
out upon the angry waters, my mind filled with unhappy
reflections upon the unjust fate that had overtaken me, and
the sorrow and disgrace that I had unwittingly brought down
upon my house.
I rejoiced that I should leave neither wife nor child to
bear the burden of my shame throughout their lives.
As I thought upon my misfortune, I considered more clearly
than ever before the unrighteousness of the regulation which
was to prove my doom, and in the natural revolt against its
injustice my anger rose, and there mounted within me a
feeling which I imagine must have paralleled that spirit
that once was prevalent among the ancients called anarchy.
For the first time in my life I found my sentiments arraying
themselves against custom, tradition, and even government.
The wave of rebellion swept over me in an instant, beginning
with an heretical doubt as to the sanctity of the
established order of things--that fetish which has ruled
Pan-Americans for two centuries, and which is based upon a
blind faith in the infallibility of the prescience of the
long-dead framers of the articles of Pan-American
federation--and ending in an adamantine determination to
defend my honor and my life to the last ditch against the
blind and senseless regulation which assumed the synonymity
of misfortune and treason.
I would replace the destroyed instruments upon the bridge;
every officer and man should know when we crossed thirty.
But then I should assert the spirit which dominated me, I
should resist arrest, and insist upon bringing my ship back
across the dead line, remaining at my post until we had
reached New York. Then I should make a full report, and
with it a demand upon public opinion that the dead lines be
wiped forever from the seas.
I knew that I was right. I knew that no more loyal officer
wore the uniform of the navy. I knew that I was a good
officer and sailor, and I didn't propose submitting to
degradation and discharge because a lot of old, preglacial
fossils had declared over two hundred years before that no
man should cross thirty.
Even while these thoughts were passing through my mind I was
busy with the details of my duties. I had seen to it that a
sea anchor was rigged, and even now the men had completed
their task, and the Coldwater was swinging around rapidly,
her nose pointing once more into the wind, and the frightful
rolling consequent upon her wallowing in the trough was
It was then that Johnson came hurrying to the bridge. One
of his eyes was swollen and already darkening, and his lip
was cut and bleeding. Without even the formality of a
salute, he burst upon me, white with fury.
"Lieutenant Alvarez attacked me!" he cried. "I demand that
he be placed under arrest. I found him in the act of
destroying the reserve instruments, and when I would have
interfered to protect them he fell upon me and beat me. I
demand that you arrest him!"
"You forget yourself, Mr. Johnson," I said. "You are not in
command of the ship. I deplore the action of Lieutenant
Alvarez, but I cannot expunge from my mind the loyalty and
self-sacrificing friendship which has prompted him to his
acts. Were I you, sir, I should profit by the example he
has set. Further, Mr. Johnson, I intend retaining command
of the ship, even though she crosses thirty, and I shall
demand implicit obedience from every officer and man aboard
until I am properly relieved from duty by a superior officer
in the port of New York."
"You mean to say that you will cross thirty without
submitting to arrest?" he almost shouted.
"I do, sir," I replied. "And now you may go below, and,
when again you find it necessary to address me, you will
please be so good as to bear in mind the fact that I am your
commanding officer, and as such entitled to a salute."
He flushed, hesitated a moment, and then, saluting, turned
upon his heel and left the bridge. Shortly after, Alvarez
appeared. He was pale, and seemed to have aged ten years in
the few brief minutes since I last had seen him. Saluting,
he told me very simply what he had done, and asked that I
place him under arrest.
I put my hand on his shoulder, and I guess that my voice
trembled a trifle as, while reproving him for his act, I
made it plain to him that my gratitude was no less potent a
force than his loyalty to me. Then it was that I outlined
to him my purpose to defy the regulation that had raised the
dead lines, and to take my ship back to New York myself.
I did not ask him to share the responsibility with me. I
merely stated that I should refuse to submit to arrest, and
that I should demand of him and every other officer and man
implicit obedience to my every command until we docked at
His face brightened at my words, and he assured me that I
would find him as ready to acknowledge my command upon the
wrong side of thirty as upon the right, an assurance which I
hastened to tell him I did not need.
The storm continued to rage for three days, and as far as
the wind scarce varied a point during all that time, I knew
that we must be far beyond thirty, drifting rapidly east by
south. All this time it had been impossible to work upon
the damaged engines or the gravity-screen generators; but we
had a full set of instruments upon the bridge, for Alvarez,
after discovering my intentions, had fetched the reserve
instruments from his own cabin, where he had hidden them.
Those which Johnson had seen him destroy had been a third
set which only Alvarez had known was aboard the Coldwater.
We waited impatiently for the sun, that we might determine
our exact location, and upon the fourth day our vigil was
rewarded a few minutes before noon.
Every officer and man aboard was tense with nervous
excitement as we awaited the result of the reading. The
crew had known almost as soon as I that we were doomed to
cross thirty, and I am inclined to believe that every man
jack of them was tickled to death, for the spirits of
adventure and romance still live in the hearts of men of the
twenty-second century, even though there be little for them
to feed upon between thirty and one hundred seventy-five.
The men carried none of the burdens of responsibility. They
might cross thirty with impunity, and doubtless they would
return to be heroes at home; but how different the home-
coming of their commanding officer!
The wind had dropped to a steady blow, still from west by
north, and the sea had gone down correspondingly. The crew,
with the exception of those whose duties kept them below,
were ranged on deck below the bridge. When our position was
definitely fixed I personally announced it to the eager,
"Men," I said, stepping forward to the handrail and looking
down into their upturned, bronzed faces, "you are anxiously
awaiting information as to the ship's position. It has been
determined at latitude fifty degrees seven minutes north,
longitude twenty degrees sixteen minutes west."
I paused and a buzz of animated comment ran through the
massed men beneath me. "Beyond thirty. But there will be
no change in commanding officers, in routine or in
discipline, until after we have docked again in New York."
As I ceased speaking and stepped back from the rail there
was a roar of applause from the deck such as I never before
had heard aboard a ship of peace. It recalled to my mind
tales that I had read of the good old days when naval
vessels were built to fight, when ships of peace had been
man-of-war, and guns had flashed in other than futile target
practice, and decks had run red with blood.
With the subsistence of the sea, we were able to go to work
upon the damaged engines to some effect, and I also set men
to examining the gravitation-screen generators with a view
to putting them in working order should it prove not beyond
For two weeks we labored at the engines, which indisputably
showed evidence of having been tampered with. I appointed a
board to investigate and report upon the disaster. But it
accomplished nothing other than to convince me that there
were several officers upon it who were in full sympathy with
Johnson, for, though no charges had been preferred against
him, the board went out of its way specifically to exonerate
him in its findings.
All this time we were drifting almost due east. The work
upon the engines had progressed to such an extent that
within a few hours we might expect to be able to proceed
under our own power westward in the direction of Pan-
To relieve the monotony I had taken to fishing, and early
that morning I had departed from the Coldwater in one of the
boats on such an excursion. A gentle west wind was blowing.
The sea shimmered in the sunlight. A cloudless sky canopied
the west for our sport, as I had made it a point never
voluntarily to make an inch toward the east that I could
avoid. At least, they should not be able to charge me with
a willful violation of the dead lines regulation.
I had with me only the boat's ordinary complement of men--
three in all, and more than enough to handle any small power
boat. I had not asked any of my officers to accompany me,
as I wished to be alone, and very glad am I now that I had
not. My only regret is that, in view of what befell us, it
had been necessary to bring the three brave fellows who
manned the boat.
Our fishing, which proved excellent, carried us so far to
the west that we no longer could see the Coldwater. The day
wore on, until at last, about mid-afternoon, I gave the
order to return to the ship.
We had proceeded but a short distance toward the east when
one of the men gave an exclamation of excitement, at the
same time pointing eastward. We all looked on in the
direction he had indicated, and there, a short distance
above the horizon, we saw the outlines of the Coldwater
silhouetted against the sky.
"They've repaired the engines and the generators both,"
exclaimed one of the men.
It seemed impossible, but yet it had evidently been done.
Only that morning, Lieutenant Johnson had told me that he
feared that it would be impossible to repair the generators.
I had put him in charge of this work, since he always had
been accounted one of the best gravitation-screen men in
the navy. He had invented several of the improvements that
are incorporated in the later models of these generators,
and I am convinced that he knows more concerning both the
theory and the practice of screening gravitation than any
At the sight of the Coldwater once more under control, the
three men burst into a glad cheer. But, for some reason
which I could not then account, I was strangely overcome by
a premonition of personal misfortune. It was not that I now
anticipated an early return to Pan-America and a board of
inquiry, for I had rather looked forward to the fight that
must follow my return. No, there was something else,
something indefinable and vague that cast a strange gloom
upon me as I saw my ship rising farther above the water and
making straight in our direction.
I was not long in ascertaining a possible explanation of my
depression, for, though we were plainly visible from the
bridge of the aero-submarine and to the hundreds of men who
swarmed her deck, the ship passed directly above us, not
five hundred feet from the water, and sped directly
We all shouted, and I fired my pistol to attract their
attention, though I knew full well that all who cared to had
observed us, but the ship moved steadily away, growing
smaller and smaller to our view until at last she passed
completely out of sight.
What could it mean? I had left Alvarez in command. He was
my most loyal subordinate. It was absolutely beyond the
pale of possibility that Alvarez should desert me. No,
there was some other explanation. Something occurred to
place my second officer, Porfirio Johnson, in command. I
was sure of it but why speculate? The futility of
conjecture was only too palpable. The Coldwater had
abandoned us in midocean. Doubtless none of us would
survive to know why.
The young man at the wheel of the power boat had turned her
nose about as it became evident that the ship intended
passing over us, and now he still held her in futile pursuit
of the Coldwater.
"Bring her about, Snider," I directed, "and hold her due
east. We can't catch the Coldwater, and we can't cross the
Atlantic in this. Our only hope lies in making the nearest
land, which, unless I am mistaken, is the Scilly Islands,
off the southwest coast of England. Ever heard of England,
"There's a part of the United States of North America that
used to be known to the ancients as New England," he
replied. "Is that where you mean, sir?"
"No, Snider," I replied. "The England I refer to was an
island off the continent of Europe. It was the seat of a
very powerful kingdom that flourished over two hundred years
ago. A part of the United States of North America and all
of the Federated States of Canada once belonged to this
"Europe," breathed one of the men, his voice tense with
excitement. "My grandfather used to tell me stories of the
world beyond thirty. He had been a great student, and he
had read much from forbidden books."
"In which I resemble your grandfather," I said, "for I, too,
have read more even than naval officers are supposed to
read, and, as you men know, we are permitted a greater
latitude in the study of geography and history than men of
"Among the books and papers of Admiral Porter Turck, who
lived two hundred years ago, and from whom I am descended,
many volumes still exist, and are in my possession, which
deal with the history and geography of ancient Europe.
Usually I bring several of these books with me upon a
cruise, and this time, among others, I have maps of Europe
and her surrounding waters. I was studying them as we came
away from the Coldwater this morning, and luckily I have
them with me."
"You are going to try to make Europe, sir?" asked Taylor,
the young man who had last spoken.
"It is the nearest land," I replied. "I have always wanted
to explore the forgotten lands of the Eastern Hemisphere.
Here's our chance. To remain at sea is to perish. None of
us ever will see home again. Let us make the best of it,
and enjoy while we do live that which is forbidden the
balance of our race--the adventure and the mystery which lie
Taylor and Delcarte seized the spirit of my mood but Snider,
I think, was a trifle sceptical.
"It is treason, sir," I replied, "but there is no law which
compels us to visit punishment upon ourselves. Could we
return to Pan-America, I should be the first to insist that
we face it. But we know that's not possible. Even if this
craft would carry us so far, we haven't enough water or food
for more than three days.
"We are doomed, Snider, to die far from home and without
ever again looking upon the face of another fellow
countryman than those who sit here now in this boat. Isn't
that punishment sufficient for even the most exacting
Even Snider had to admit that it was.
"Very well, then, let us live while we live, and enjoy to
the fullest whatever of adventure or pleasure each new day
brings, since any day may be our last, and we shall be dead
for a considerable while."
I could see that Snider was still fearful, but Taylor and
Delcarte responded with a hearty, "Aye, aye, sir!"
They were of different mold. Both were sons of naval
officers. They represented the aristocracy of birth, and
they dared to think for themselves.
Snider was in the minority, and so we continued toward the
east. Beyond thirty, and separated from my ship, my
authority ceased. I held leadership, if I was to hold it at
all, by virtue of personal qualifications only, but I did
not doubt my ability to remain the director of our destinies
in so far as they were amenable to human agencies. I have
always led. While my brain and brawn remain unimpaired I
shall continue always to lead. Following is an art which
Turcks do not easily learn.
It was not until the third day that we raised land, dead
ahead, which I took, from my map, to be the isles of Scilly.
But such a gale was blowing that I did not dare attempt to
land, and so we passed to the north of them, skirted Land's
End, and entered the English Channel.
I think that up to that moment I had never experienced such
a thrill as passed through me when I realized that I was
navigating these historic waters. The lifelong dreams that
I never had dared hope to see fulfilled were at last a
reality--but under what forlorn circumstances!
Never could I return to my native land. To the end of my
days I must remain in exile. Yet even these thoughts failed
to dampen my ardor.
My eyes scanned the waters. To the north I could see the
rockbound coast of Cornwall. Mine were the first American
eyes to rest upon it for more than two hundred years. In
vain, I searched for some sign of ancient commerce that, if
history is to be believed, must have dotted the bosom of the
Channel with white sails and blackened the heavens with the
smoke of countless funnels, but as far as eye could reach
the tossing waters of the Channel were empty and deserted.
Toward midnight the wind and sea abated, so that shortly
after dawn I determined to make inshore in an attempt to
effect a landing, for we were sadly in need of fresh water
According to my observations, we were just off Ram Head, and
it was my intention to enter Plymouth Bay and visit
Plymouth. From my map it appeared that this city lay back
from the coast a short distance, and there was another city
given as Devonport, which appeared to lie at the mouth of
the river Tamar.
However, I knew that it would make little difference which
city we entered, as the English people were famed of old for
their hospitality toward visiting mariners. As we
approached the mouth of the bay I looked for the fishing
craft which I expected to see emerging thus early in the day
for their labors. But even after we rounded Ram Head and
were well within the waters of the bay I saw no vessel.
Neither was there buoy nor light nor any other mark to show
larger ships the channel, and I wondered much at this.
The coast was densely overgrown, nor was any building or
sign of man apparent from the water. 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,
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
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, and following my example, each engaged
in the fascinating sport of prospecting for antiques. Each
of us uncovered a great number of these bricks, until we
commenced to weary of the monotony of it, when Snider
suddenly gave an exclamation of excitement, and, as I turned
to look, he held up a human skull for my inspection.
I took it from him and examined it. Directly in the center
of the forehead was a small round hole. The gentleman had
evidently come to his end defending his country from an
Snider again held aloft another trophy of the search--a
metal spike and some tarnished and corroded metal ornaments.
They had lain close beside the skull.
With the point of his cutlass Snider scraped the dirt and
verdigris from the face of the larger ornament.
"An inscription," he said, and handed the thing to me.
They were the spike and ornaments of an ancient German
helmet. Before long we had uncovered many other indications
that a great battle had been fought upon the ground where we
stood. But I was then, and still am, at loss to account for
the presence of German soldiers upon the English coast so
far from London, which history suggests would have been the
natural goal of an invader.
I can only account for it by assuming that either England
was temporarily conquered by the Teutons, or that an
invasion of so vast proportions was undertaken that German
troops were hurled upon the England coast in huge numbers
and that landings were necessarily effected at many places
simultaneously. Subsequent discoveries tend to strengthen
We dug about for a short time with our cutlasses until I
became convinced that a city had stood upon the spot at some
time in the past, and that beneath our feet, crumbled and
dead, lay ancient Devonport.
I could not repress a sigh at the thought of the havoc war
had wrought in this part of England, at least. Farther
east, nearer London, we should find things very different.
There would be the civilization that two centuries must have
wrought upon our English cousins as they had upon us. There
would be mighty cities, cultivated fields, happy people.
There we would be welcomed as long-lost brothers. There
would we find a great nation anxious to learn of the world
beyond their side of thirty, as I had been anxious to learn
of that which lay beyond our side of the dead line.
I turned back toward the boat.
"Come, men!" I said. "We will go up the river and fill our
casks with fresh water, search for food and fuel, and then
tomorrow be in readiness to push on toward the east. I am
going to London."
The report of a gun blasted the silence of a dead Devonport
with startling abruptness.
It came from the direction of the launch, and in an instant
we three were running for the boat as fast as our legs would
carry us. As we came in sight of it we saw Delcarte a
hundred yards inland from the launch, leaning over something
which lay upon the ground. As we called to him he waved his
cap, and stooping, lifted a small deer for our inspection.
I was about to congratulate him on his trophy when we were
startled by a horrid, half-human, half-bestial scream a
little ahead and to the right of us. It seemed to come from
a clump of rank and tangled bush not far from where Delcarte
stood. It was a horrid, fearsome sound, the like of which
never had fallen upon my ears before.
We looked in the direction from which it came. The smile
had died from Delcarte's lips. Even at the distance we were
from him I saw his face go suddenly white, and he quickly
threw his rifle to his shoulder. At the same moment the
thing that had given tongue to the cry moved from the
concealing brushwood far enough for us, too, to see it.
Both Taylor and Snider gave little gasps of astonishment and
"What is it, sir?" asked the latter.
The creature stood about the height of a tall man's waist,
and was long and gaunt and sinuous, with a tawny coat
striped with black, and with white throat and belly. In
conformation it was similar to a cat--a huge cat,
exaggerated colossal cat, with fiendish eyes and the most
devilish cast of countenance, as it wrinkled its bristling
snout and bared its great yellow fangs.
It was pacing, or rather, slinking, straight for Delcarte,
who had now leveled his rifle upon it.
"What is it, sir?" mumbled Snider again, and then a half-
forgotten picture from an old natural history sprang to my
mind, and I recognized in the frightful beast the Felis
tigris of ancient Asia, specimens of which had, in former
centuries, been exhibited in the Western Hemisphere.
Snider and Taylor were armed with rifles and revolvers,
while I carried only a revolver. Seizing Snider's rifle
from his trembling hands, I called to Taylor to follow me,
and together we ran forward, shouting, to attract the
beast's attention from Delcarte until we should all be quite
close enough to attack with the greatest assurance of
I cried to Delcarte not to fire until we reached his side,
for I was fearful lest our small caliber, steel-jacketed
bullets should, far from killing the beast, tend merely to
enrage it still further. But he misunderstood me, thinking
that I had ordered him to fire.
With the report of his rifle the tiger stopped short in
apparent surprise, then turned and bit savagely at its
shoulder for an instant, after which it wheeled again toward
Delcarte, issuing the most terrific roars and screams, and
launched itself, with incredible speed, toward the brave
fellow, who now stood his ground pumping bullets from his
automatic rifle as rapidly as the weapon would fire.
Taylor and I also opened up on the creature, and as it was
broadside to us it offered a splendid target, though for all
the impression we appeared to make upon the great cat we
might as well have been launching soap bubbles at it.
Straight as a torpedo it rushed for Delcarte, and, as Taylor
and I stumbled on through the tall grass toward our
unfortunate comrade, we saw the tiger rear upon him and
crush him to the earth.
Not a backward step had the noble Delcarte taken. Two
hundred years of peace had not sapped the red blood from his
courageous line. He went down beneath that avalanche of
bestial savagery still working his gun and with his face
toward his antagonist. Even in the instant that I thought
him dead I could not help but feel a thrill of pride that he
was one of my men, one of my class, a Pan-American gentleman
of birth. And that he had demonstrated one of the principal
contentions of the army-and-navy adherents--that military
training was necessary for the salvation of personal courage
in the Pan-American race which for generations had had to
face no dangers more grave than those incident to ordinary
life in a highly civilized community, safeguarded by every
means at the disposal of a perfectly organized and all-
powerful government utilizing the best that advanced science
As we ran toward Delcarte, both Taylor and I were struck by
the fact that the beast upon him appeared not to be mauling
him, but lay quiet and motionless upon its prey, and when we
were quite close, and the muzzles of our guns were at the
animal's head, I saw the explanation of this sudden
cessation of hostilities--Felis tigris was dead.
One of our bullets, or one of the last that Delcarte fired,
had penetrated the heart, and the beast had died even as it
sprawled forward crushing Delcarte to the ground.
A moment later, with our assistance, the man had scrambled
from beneath the carcass of his would-be slayer, without a
scratch to indicate how close to death he had been.
Delcarte's buoyance was entirely unruffled. He came from
under the tiger with a broad grin on his handsome face, nor
could I perceive that a muscle trembled or that his voice
showed the least indication of nervousness or excitement.
With the termination of the adventure, we began to speculate
upon the explanation of the presence of this savage brute at
large so great a distance from its native habitat. My
readings had taught me that it was practically unknown
outside of Asia, and that, so late as the twentieth century,
at least, there had been no savage beasts outside captivity
As we talked, Snider joined us, and I returned his rifle to
him. Taylor and Delcarte picked up the slain deer, and we
all started down toward the launch, walking slowly.
Delcarte wanted to fetch the tiger's skin, but I had to deny
him permission, since we had no means to properly cure it.
Upon the beach, we skinned the deer and cut away as much
meat as we thought we could dispose of, and as we were again
embarking to continue up the river for fresh water and fuel,
we were startled by a series of screams from the bushes a
short distance away.
"Another Felis tigris," said Taylor.
"Or a dozen of them," supplemented Delcarte, and, even as he
spoke, there leaped into sight, one after another, eight of
the beasts, full grown--magnificent specimens.
At the sight of us, they came charging down like infuriated
demons. I saw that three rifles would be no match for them,
and so I gave the word to put out from shore, hoping that
the "tiger," as the ancients called him, could not swim.
Sure enough, they all halted at the beach, pacing back and
forth, uttering fiendish cries, and glaring at us in the
most malevolent manner.
As we motored away, we presently heard the calls of similar
animals far inland. They seemed to be answering the cries
of their fellows at the water's edge, and from the wide
distribution and great volume of the sound we came to the
conclusion that enormous numbers of these beasts must roam
the adjacent country.
"They have eaten up the inhabitants," murmured Snider,
"I imagine you are right," I agreed, "for their extreme
boldness and fearlessness in the presence of man would
suggest either that man is entirely unknown to them, or that
they are extremely familiar with him as their natural and
most easily procured prey."
"But where did they come from?" asked Delcarte. "Could they
have traveled here from Asia?"
I shook my head. The thing was a puzzle to me. I knew that
it was practically beyond reason to imagine that tigers had
crossed the mountain ranges and rivers and all the great
continent of Europe to travel this far from their native
lairs, and entirely impossible that they should have crossed
the English Channel at all. Yet here they were, and in
We continued up the Tamar several miles, filled our casks,
and then landed to cook some of our deer steak, and have the
first square meal that had fallen to our lot since the
Coldwater deserted us. But scarce had we built our fire and
prepared the meat for cooking than Snider, whose eyes had
been constantly roving about the landscape from the moment
that we left the launch, touched me on the arm and pointed
to a clump of bushes which grew a couple of hundred yards
Half concealed behind their screening foliage I saw the
yellow and black of a big tiger, and, as I looked, the beast
stalked majestically toward us. A moment later, he was
followed by another and another, and it is needless to state
that we beat a hasty retreat to the launch.
The country was apparently infested by these huge Carnivora,
for after three other attempts to land and cook our food we
were forced to abandon the idea entirely, as each time we
were driven off by hunting tigers.
It was also equally impossible to obtain the necessary
ingredients for our chemical fuel, and, as we had very
little left aboard, we determined to step our folding mast
and proceed under sail, hoarding our fuel supply for use in
I may say that it was with no regret that we bid adieu to
Tigerland, as we rechristened the ancient Devon, and,
beating out into the Channel, turned the launch's nose
southeast, to round Bolt Head and continue up the coast
toward the Strait of Dover and the North Sea.
I was determined to reach London as soon as possible, that
we might obtain fresh clothing, meet with cultured people,
and learn from the lips of Englishmen the secrets of the two
centuries since the East had been divorced from the West.
Our first stopping place was the Isle of Wight. We entered
the Solent about ten o'clock one morning, and I must confess
that my heart sank as we came close to shore. No lighthouse
was visible, though one was plainly indicated upon my map.
Upon neither shore was sign of human habitation. We skirted
the northern shore of the island in fruitless search for
man, and then at last landed upon an eastern point, where
Newport should have stood, but where only weeds and great
trees and tangled wild wood rioted, and not a single manmade
thing was visible to the eye.
Before landing, I had the men substitute soft bullets for
the steel-jacketed projectiles with which their belts and
magazines were filled. Thus equipped, we felt upon more
even terms with the tigers, but there was no sign of the
tigers, and I decided that they must be confined to the
After eating, we set out in search of fuel, leaving Taylor
to guard the launch. For some reason I could not trust
Snider alone. I knew that he looked with disapproval upon
my plan to visit England, and I did not know but what at his
first opportunity, he might desert us, taking the launch
with him, and attempt to return to Pan-America.
That he would be fool enough to venture it, I did not doubt.
We had gone inland for a mile or more, and were passing
through a park-like wood, when we came suddenly upon the
first human beings we had seen since we sighted the English
There were a score of men in the party. Hairy, half-naked
men they were, resting in the shade of a great tree. At the
first sight of us they sprang to their feet with wild yells,
seizing long spears that had lain beside them as they
For a matter of fifty yards they ran from us as rapidly as
they could, and then they turned and surveyed us for a
moment. Evidently emboldened by the scarcity of our
numbers, they commenced to advance upon us, brandishing
their spears and shouting horribly.
They were short and muscular of build, with long hair and
beards tangled and matted with filth. Their heads, however,
were shapely, and their eyes, though fierce and warlike,
Appreciation of these physical attributes came later, of
course, when I had better opportunity to study the men at
close range and under circumstances less fraught with danger
and excitement. At the moment I saw, and with unmixed
wonder, only a score of wild savages charging down upon us,
where I had expected to find a community of civilized and
Each of us was armed with rifle, revolver, and cutlass, but
as we stood shoulder to shoulder facing the wild men I was
loath to give the command to fire upon them, inflicting
death or suffering upon strangers with whom we had no
quarrel, and so I attempted to restrain them for the moment
that we might parley with them.
To this end I raised my left hand above my head with the
palm toward them as the most natural gesture indicative of
peaceful intentions which occurred to me. At the same time
I called aloud to them that we were friends, though, from
their appearance, there was nothing to indicate that they
might understand Pan-American, or ancient English, which are
of course practically identical.
At my gesture and words they ceased their shouting and came
to a halt a few paces from us. Then, in deep tones, one who
was in advance of the others and whom I took to be the chief
or leader of the party replied in a tongue which while
intelligible to us, was so distorted from the English
language from which it evidently had sprung, that it was
with difficulty that we interpreted it.
"Who are you," he asked, "and from what country?"
I told him that we were from Pan-America, but he only shook
his head and asked where that was. He had never heard of
it, or of the Atlantic Ocean which I told him separated his
country from mine.
"It has been two hundred years," I told him, "since a Pan-
American visited England."
"England?" he asked. "What is England?"
"Why this is a part of England!" I exclaimed.
"This is Grubitten," he assured me. "I know nothing about
England, and I have lived here all my life."
It was not until long after that the derivation of Grubitten
occurred to me. Unquestionably it is a corruption of Great
Britain, a name formerly given to the large island
comprising England, Scotland and Wales. Subsequently we
heard it pronounced Grabrittin and Grubritten.
I then asked the fellow if he could direct us to Ryde or
Newport; but again he shook his head, and said that he never
had heard of such countries. And when I asked him if there
were any cities in this country he did not know what I
meant, never having heard the word cities.
I explained my meaning as best I could by stating that by
city I referred to a place where many people lived together
"Oh," he exclaimed, "you mean a camp! Yes, there are two
great camps here, East Camp and West Camp. We are from East
The use of the word camp to describe a collection of
habitations naturally suggested war to me, and my next
question was as to whether the war was over, and who had
"No," he replied to this question. "The war is not yet
over. But it soon will be, and it will end, as it always
does, with the Westenders running away. We, the Eastenders,
are always victorious."
"No," I said, seeing that he referred to the petty tribal
wars of his little island, "I mean the Great War, the war
with Germany. Is it ended--and who was victorious?"
He shook his head impatiently.
"I never heard," he said, "of any of these strange countries
of which you speak."
It seemed incredible, and yet it was true. These people
living at the very seat of the Great War knew nothing of it,
though but two centuries had passed since, to our knowledge,
it had been running in the height of its titanic
frightfulness all about them, and to us upon the far side of
the Atlantic still was a subject of keen interest.
Here was a lifelong inhabitant of the Isle of Wight who
never had heard of either Germany or England! I turned to
him quite suddenly with a new question.
"What people live upon the mainland?" I asked, and pointed
in the direction of the Hants coast.
"No one lives there," he replied.
"Long ago, it is said, my people dwelt across the waters
upon that other land; but the wild beasts devoured them in
such numbers that finally they were driven here, paddling
across upon logs and driftwood, nor has any dared return
since, because of the frightful creatures which dwell in
that horrid country."
"Do no other peoples ever come to your country in ships?" I
He never heard the word ship before, and did not know its
meaning. But he assured me that until we came he had
thought that there were no other peoples in the world other
than the Grubittens, who consist of the Eastenders and the
Westenders of the ancient Isle of Wight.
Assured that we were inclined to friendliness, our new
acquaintances led us to their village, or, as they call it,
camp. There we found a thousand people, perhaps, dwelling
in rude shelters, and living upon the fruits of the chase
and such sea food as is obtainable close to shore, for they
had no boats, nor any knowledge of such things.
Their weapons were most primitive, consisting of rude spears
tipped with pieces of metal pounded roughly into shape.
They had no literature, no religion, and recognized no law
other than the law of might. They produced fire by striking
a bit of flint and steel together, but for the most part
they ate their food raw. Marriage is unknown among them,
and while they have the word, mother, they did not know what
I meant by "father." The males fight for the favor of the
females. They practice infanticide, and kill the aged and
The family consists of the mother and the children, the men
dwelling sometimes in one hut and sometimes in another.
Owing to their bloody duels, they are always numerically
inferior to the women, so there is shelter for them all.
We spent several hours in the village, where we were objects
of the greatest curiosity. The inhabitants examined our
clothing and all our belongings, and asked innumerable
questions concerning the strange country from which we had
come and the manner of our coming.
I questioned many of them concerning past historical events,
but they knew nothing beyond the narrow limits of their
island and the savage, primitive life they led there.
London they had never heard of, and they assured me that I
would find no human beings upon the mainland.
Much saddened by what I had seen, I took my departure from
them, and the three of us made our way back to the launch,
accompanied by about five hundred men, women, girls, and
As we sailed away, after procuring the necessary ingredients
of our chemical fuel, the Grubittens lined the shore in
silent wonder at the strange sight of our dainty craft
dancing over the sparkling waters, and watched us until we
were lost to their sight.
It was during the morning of July 6, 2137, that we entered
the mouth of the Thames--to the best of my knowledge the
first Western keel to cut those historic waters for two
hundred and twenty-one years!
But where were the tugs and the lighters and the barges, the
lightships and the buoys, and all those countless attributes
which went to make up the myriad life of the ancient Thames?
Gone! All gone! Only silence and desolation reigned where
once the commerce of the world had centered.
I could not help but compare this once great water-way with
the waters about our New York, or Rio, or San Diego, or
Valparaiso. They had become what they are today during the
two centuries of the profound peace which we of the navy
have been prone to deplore. And what, during this same
period, had shorn the waters of the Thames of their pristine
Militarist that I am, I could find but a single word of
I bowed my head and turned my eyes downward from the lonely
and depressing sight, and in a silence which none of us
seemed willing to break, we proceeded up the deserted river.
We had reached a point which, from my map, I imagined must
have been about the former site of Erith, when I discovered
a small band of antelope a short distance inland. As we
were now entirely out of meat once more, and as I had given
up all expectations of finding a city upon the site of
ancient London, I determined to land and bag a couple of the
Assured that they would be timid and easily frightened, I
decided to stalk them alone, telling the men to wait at the
boat until I called to them to come and carry the carcasses
back to the shore.
Crawling carefully through the vegetation, making use of
such trees and bushes as afforded shelter, I came at last
almost within easy range of my quarry, when the antlered
head of the buck went suddenly into the air, and then, as
though in accordance with a prearranged signal, the whole
band moved slowly off, farther inland.
As their pace was leisurely, I determined to follow them
until I came again within range, as I was sure that they
would stop and feed in a short time.
They must have led me a mile or more at least before they
again halted and commenced to browse upon the rank,
luxuriant grasses. All the time that I had followed them I
had kept both eyes and ears alert for sign or sound that
would indicate the presence of Felis tigris; but so far not
the slightest indication of the beast had been apparent.
As I crept closer to the antelope, sure this time of a good
shot at a large buck, I suddenly saw something that caused
me to forget all about my prey in wonderment.
It was the figure of an immense grey-black creature, rearing
its colossal shoulders twelve or fourteen feet above the
ground. Never in my life had I seen such a beast, nor did I
at first recognize it, so different in appearance is the
live reality from the stuffed, unnatural specimens preserved
to us in our museums.
But presently I guessed the identity of the mighty creature
as Elephas africanus, or, as the ancients commonly described
it, African elephant.
The antelope, although in plain view of the huge beast, paid
not the slightest attention to it, and I was so wrapped up
in watching the mighty pachyderm that I quite forgot to
shoot at the buck and presently, and in quite a startling
manner, it became impossible to do so.
The elephant was browsing upon the young and tender shoots
of some low bushes, waving his great ears and switching his
short tail. The antelope, scarce twenty paces from him,
continued their feeding, when suddenly, from close beside
the latter, there came a most terrifying roar, and I saw a
great, tawny body shoot, from the concealing verdure beyond
the antelope, full upon the back of a small buck.
Instantly the scene changed from one of quiet and peace to
indescribable chaos. The startled and terrified buck
uttered cries of agony. His fellows broke and leaped off in
all directions. The elephant raised his trunk, and,
trumpeting loudly, lumbered off through the wood, crushing
down small trees and trampling bushes in his mad flight.
Growling horribly, a huge lion stood across the body of his
prey--such a creature as no Pan-American of the twenty-
second century had ever beheld until my eyes rested upon
this lordly specimen of "the king of beasts." But what a
different creature was this fierce-eyed demon, palpitating
with life and vigor, glossy of coat, alert, growling,
magnificent, from the dingy, moth-eaten replicas beneath
their glass cases in the stuffy halls of our public museums.
I had never hoped or expected to see a living lion, tiger,
or elephant--using the common terms that were familiar to
the ancients, since they seem to me less unwieldy than those
now in general use among us--and so it was with sentiments
not unmixed with awe that I stood gazing at this regal beast
as, above the carcass of his kill, he roared out his
challenge to the world.
So enthralled was I by the spectacle that I quite forgot
myself, and the better to view him, the great lion, I had
risen to my feet and stood, not fifty paces from him, in
For a moment he did not see me, his attention being directed
toward the retreating elephant, and I had ample time to
feast my eyes upon his splendid proportions, his great head,
and his thick black mane.
Ah, what thoughts passed through my mind in those brief
moments as I stood there in rapt fascination! I had come to
find a wondrous civilization, and instead I found a wild-
beast monarch of the realm where English kings had ruled. A
lion reigned, undisturbed, within a few miles of the seat of
one of the greatest governments the world has ever known,
his domain a howling wilderness, where yesterday fell the
shadows of the largest city in the world.
It was appalling; but my reflections upon this depressing
subject were doomed to sudden extinction. The lion had
For an instant he stood silent and motionless as one of the
mangy effigies at home, but only for an instant. Then, with
a most ferocious roar, and without the slightest hesitancy
or warning, he charged upon me.
He forsook the prey already dead beneath him for the
pleasures of the delectable tidbit, man. From the
remorselessness with which the great Carnivora of modern
England hunted man, I am constrained to believe that,
whatever their appetites in times past, they have cultivated
a gruesome taste for human flesh.
As I threw my rifle to my shoulder, I thanked God, the
ancient God of my ancestors, that I had replaced the hard-
jacketed bullets in my weapon with soft-nosed projectiles,
for though this was my first experience with Felis leo, I
knew the moment that I faced that charge that even my
wonderfully perfected firearm would be as futile as a
peashooter unless I chanced to place my first bullet in a
Unless you had seen it you could not believe credible the
speed of a charging lion. Apparently the animal is not
built for speed, nor can he maintain it for long. But for a
matter of forty or fifty yards there is, I believe, no
animal on earth that can overtake him.
Like a bolt he bore down upon me, but, fortunately for me, I
did not lose my head. I guessed that no bullet would kill
him instantly. I doubted that I could pierce his skull.
There was hope, though, in finding his heart through his
exposed chest, or, better yet, of breaking his shoulder or
foreleg, and bringing him up long enough to pump more
bullets into him and finish him.
I covered his left shoulder and pulled the trigger as he was
almost upon me. It stopped him. With a terrific howl of
pain and rage, the brute rolled over and over upon the
ground almost to my feet. As he came I pumped two more
bullets into him, and as he struggled to rise, clawing
viciously at me, I put a bullet in his spine.
That finished him, and I am free to admit that I was mighty
glad of it. There was a great tree close behind me, and,
stepping within its shade, I leaned against it, wiping the
perspiration from my face, for the day was hot, and the
exertion and excitement left me exhausted.
I stood there, resting, for a moment, preparatory to turning
and retracing my steps to the launch, when, without warning,
something whizzed through space straight toward me. There
was a dull thud of impact as it struck the tree, and as I
dodged to one side and turned to look at the thing I saw a
heavy spear imbedded in the wood not three inches from where
my head had been.
The thing had come from a little to one side of me, and,
without waiting to investigate at the instant, I leaped
behind the tree, and, circling it, peered around the other
side to get a sight of my would-be murderer.
This time I was pitted against men--the spear told me that
all too plainly--but so long as they didn't take me unawares
or from behind I had little fear of them.
Cautiously I edged about the far side of the trees until I
could obtain a view of the spot from which the spear must
have come, and when I did I saw the head of a man just
emerging from behind a bush.
The fellow was quite similar in type to those I had seen
upon the Isle of Wight. He was hairy and unkempt, and as he
finally stepped into view I saw that he was garbed in the
same primitive fashion.
He stood for a moment gazing about in search of me, and then
he advanced. As he did so a number of others, precisely
like him, stepped from the concealing verdure of nearby
bushes and followed in his wake. Keeping the trees between
them and me, I ran back a short distance until I found a
clump of underbrush that would effectually conceal me, for I
wished to discover the strength of the party and its
armament before attempting to parley with it.
The useless destruction of any of these poor creatures was
the farthest idea from my mind. I should have liked to have
spoken with them, but I did not care to risk having to use
my high-powered rifle upon them other than in the last
Once in my new place of concealment, I watched them as they
approached the tree. There were about thirty men in the
party and one woman--a girl whose hands seemed to be bound
behind her and who was being pulled along by two of the men.
They came forward warily, peering cautiously into every bush
and halting often. At the body of the lion, they paused,
and I could see from their gesticulations and the higher
pitch of their voices that they were much excited over my
But presently they resumed their search for me, and as they
advanced I became suddenly aware of the unnecessary
brutality with which the girl's guards were treating her.
She stumbled once, not far from my place of concealment, and
after the balance of the party had passed me. As she did so
one of the men at her side jerked her roughly to her feet
and struck her across the mouth with his fist.
Instantly my blood boiled, and forgetting every
consideration of caution, I leaped from my concealment, and,
springing to the man's side, felled him with a blow.
So unexpected had been my act that it found him and his
fellow unprepared; but instantly the latter drew the knife
that protruded from his belt and lunged viciously at me, at
the same time giving voice to a wild cry of alarm.
The girl shrank back at sight of me, her eyes wide in
astonishment, and then my antagonist was upon me. I parried
his first blow with my forearm, at the same time delivering
a powerful blow to his jaw that sent him reeling back; but
he was at me again in an instant, though in the brief
interim I had time to draw my revolver.
I saw his companion crawling slowly to his feet, and the
others of the party racing down upon me. There was no time
to argue now, other than with the weapons we wore, and so,
as the fellow lunged at me again with the wicked-looking
knife, I covered his heart and pulled the trigger.
Without a sound, he slipped to the earth, and then I turned
the weapon upon the other guard, who was now about to attack
me. He, too, collapsed, and I was alone with the astonished
The balance of the party was some twenty paces from us, but
coming rapidly. I seized her arm and drew her after me
behind a nearby tree, for I had seen that with both their
comrades down the others were preparing to launch their
With the girl safe behind the tree, I stepped out in sight
of the advancing foe, shouting to them that I was no enemy,
and that they should halt and listen to me. But for answer
they only yelled in derision and launched a couple of spears
at me, both of which missed.
I saw then that I must fight, yet still I hated to slay
them, and it was only as a final resort that I dropped two
of them with my rifle, bringing the others to a temporary
halt. Again, I appealed to them to desist. But they only
mistook my solicitude for them for fear, and, with shouts of
rage and derision, leaped forward once again to overwhelm
It was now quite evident that I must punish them severely,
or--myself--die and relinquish the girl once more to her
captors. Neither of these things had I the slightest notion
of doing, and so I again stepped from behind the tree, and,
with all the care and deliberation of target practice, I
commenced picking off the foremost of my assailants.
One by one the wild men dropped, yet on came the others,
fierce and vengeful, until, only a few remaining, these
seemed to realize the futility of combating my modern weapon
with their primitive spears, and, still howling wrathfully,
withdrew toward the west.
Now, for the first time, I had an opportunity to turn my
attention toward the girl, who had stood, silent and
motionless, behind me as I pumped death into my enemies and
hers from my automatic rifle.
She was of medium height, well formed, and with fine, clear-
cut features. Her forehead was high, and her eyes both
intelligent and beautiful. Exposure to the sun had browned
a smooth and velvety skin to a shade which seemed to enhance
rather than mar an altogether lovely picture of youthful
A trace of apprehension marked her expression--I cannot call
it fear since I have learned to know her--and astonishment
was still apparent in her eyes. She stood quite erect, her
hands still bound behind her, and met my gaze with level,
"What language do you speak?" I asked. "Do you understand
"Yes," she replied. "It is similar to my own. I am
Grabritin. What are you?"
"I am a Pan-American," I answered. She shook her head.
"What is that?"
I pointed toward the west. "Far away, across the ocean."
Her expression altered a trifle. A slight frown contracted
her brow. The expression of apprehension deepened.
"Take off your cap," she said, and when, to humor her
strange request, I did as she bid, she appeared relieved.
Then she edged to one side and leaned over seemingly to peer
behind me. I turned quickly to see what she discovered, but
finding nothing, wheeled about to see that her expression
was once more altered.
"You are not from there?" and she pointed toward the east.
It was a half question. "You are not from across the water
"No," I assured her. "I am from Pan-America, far away to
the west. Have you ever heard of Pan-America?"
She shook her head in negation. "I do not care where you
are from," she explained, "if you are not from there, and I
am sure you are not, for the men from there have horns and
It was with difficulty that I restrained a smile.
"Who are the men from there?" I asked.
"They are bad men," she replied. "Some of my people do not
believe that there are such creatures. But we have a
legend--a very old, old legend, that once the men from there
came across to Grabritin. They came upon the water, and
under the water, and even in the air. They came in great
numbers, so that they rolled across the land like a great
gray fog. They brought with them thunder and lightning and
smoke that killed, and they fell upon us and slew our people
by the thousands and the hundreds of thousands. But at last
we drove them back to the water's edge, back into the sea,
where many were drowned. Some escaped, and these our people
followed--men, women, and even children, we followed them
back. That is all. The legend says our people never
returned. Maybe they were all killed. Maybe they are still
there. But this, also, is in the legend, that as we drove
the men back across the water they swore that they would
return, and that when they left our shores they would leave
no human being alive behind them. I was afraid that you
were from there."
"By what name were these men called?" I asked.
"We call them only the 'men from there,'" she replied,
pointing toward the east. "I have never heard that they had
In the light of what I knew of ancient history, it was not
difficult for me to guess the nationality of those she
described simply as "the men from over there." But what
utter and appalling devastation the Great War must have
wrought to have erased not only every sign of civilization
from the face of this great land, but even the name of the
enemy from the knowledge and language of the people.
I could only account for it on the hypothesis that the
country had been entirely depopulated except for a few
scattered and forgotten children, who, in some marvelous
manner, had been preserved by Providence to re-populate the
land. These children had, doubtless, been too young to
retain in their memories to transmit to their children any
but the vaguest suggestion of the cataclysm which had
overwhelmed their parents.
Professor Cortoran, since my return to Pan-America, has
suggested another theory which is not entirely without claim
to serious consideration. He points out that it is quite
beyond the pale of human instinct to desert little children
as my theory suggests the ancient English must have done.
He is more inclined to believe that the expulsion of the foe
from England was synchronous with widespread victories by
the allies upon the continent, and that the people of
England merely emigrated from their ruined cities and their
devastated, blood-drenched fields to the mainland, in the
hope of finding, in the domain of the conquered enemy,
cities and farms which would replace those they had lost.
The learned professor assumes that while a long-continued
war had strengthened rather than weakened the instinct of
paternal devotion, it had also dulled other humanitarian
instincts, and raised to the first magnitude the law of the
survival of the fittest, with the result that when the
exodus took place the strong, the intelligent, and the
cunning, together with their offspring, crossed the waters
of the Channel or the North Sea to the continent, leaving in
unhappy England only the helpless inmates of asylums for the
feebleminded and insane.
My objections to this, that the present inhabitants of
England are mentally fit, and could therefore not have
descended from an ancestry of undiluted lunacy he brushes
aside with the assertion that insanity is not necessarily
hereditary; and that even though it was, in many cases a
return to natural conditions from the state of high
civilization, which is thought to have induced mental
disease in the ancient world, would, after several
generations, have thoroughly expunged every trace of the
affliction from the brains and nerves of the descendants of
the original maniacs.
Personally, I do not place much stock in Professor
Cortoran's theory, though I admit that I am prejudiced.
Naturally one does not care to believe that the object of
his greatest affection is descended from a gibbering idiot
and a raving maniac.
But I am forgetting the continuity of my narrative--a
continuity which I desire to maintain, though I fear that I
shall often be led astray, so numerous and varied are the
bypaths of speculation which lead from the present day story
of the Grabritins into the mysterious past of their
As I stood talking with the girl I presently recollected
that she still was bound, and with a word of apology, I drew
my knife and cut the rawhide thongs which confined her
wrists at her back.
She thanked me, and with such a sweet smile that I should
have been amply repaid by it for a much more arduous
"And now," I said, "let me accompany you to your home and
see you safely again under the protection of your friends."
"No," she said, with a hint of alarm in her voice; "you must
not come with me--Buckingham will kill you."
Buckingham. The name was famous in ancient English history.
Its survival, with many other illustrious names, is one of
the strongest arguments in refutal of Professor Cortoran's
theory; yet it opens no new doors to the past, and, on the
whole, rather adds to than dissipates the mystery.
"And who is Buckingham," I asked, "and why should he wish to
"He would think that you had stolen me," she replied, "and
as he wishes me for himself, he will kill any other whom he
thinks desires me. He killed Wettin a few days ago. My
mother told me once that Wettin was my father. He was king.
Now Buckingham is king."
Here, evidently, were a people slightly superior to those of
the Isle of Wight. These must have at least the rudiments
of civilized government since they recognized one among them
as ruler, with the title, king. Also, they retained the
word father. The girl's pronunciation, while far from
identical with ours, was much closer than the tortured
dialect of the Eastenders of the Isle of Wight. The longer
I talked with her the more hopeful I became of finding here,
among her people, some records, or traditions, which might
assist in clearing up the historic enigma of the past two
centuries. I asked her if we were far from the city of
London, but she did not know what I meant. When I tried to
explain, describing mighty buildings of stone and brick,
broad avenues, parks, palaces, and countless people, she but
shook her head sadly.
"There is no such place near by," she said. "Only the Camp
of the Lions has places of stone where the beasts lair, but
there are no people in the Camp of the Lions. Who would
dare go there!" And she shuddered.
"The Camp of the Lions," I repeated. "And where is that,
"It is there," she said, pointing up the river toward the
west. "I have seen it from a great distance, but I have
never been there. We are much afraid of the lions, for this
is their country, and they are angry that man has come to
"Far away there," and she pointed toward the south-west, "is
the land of tigers, which is even worse than this, the land
of the lions, for the tigers are more numerous than the
lions and hungrier for human flesh. There were tigers here
long ago, but both the lions and the men set upon them and
drove them off."
"Where did these savage beasts come from?" I asked.
"Oh," she replied, "they have been here always. It is their
"Do they not kill and eat your people?" I asked.
"Often, when we meet them by accident, and we are too few to
Back to Full Books