dimecres, 30 de desembre de 2015

Before the law of gravitation had been discovered it was almost impossible to regard the universe as other than a small and compact system. We shall see that a few daring minds pierced the veil, and peered out wonderingly into the real universe beyond, but for the great mass of men it was quite impossible. To them the modern idea of a universe consisting of hundreds of millions of bodies, each weighing billions of tons, strewn over billions of miles of space, would have seemed the dream of a child or a savage. Material bodies were "heavy," and would "fall down" if they were not supported. The universe, they said, was a sensible scientific structure; things were supported in their respective places. A great dome, of some unknown but compact material, spanned the earth, and sustained the heavenly bodies. It might rest on the distant mountains, or be borne on the shoulders of an Atlas; or the whole cosmic scheme might be laid on the back of a gigantic elephant, and--if you pressed--the elephant might stand on the hard shell of a tortoise. But you were not encouraged to press. The idea of the vault had come from Babylon, the first home of science. No furnaces thickened that clear atmosphere, and the heavy-robed priests at the summit of each of the seven-staged temples were astronomers. Night by night for thousands of years they watched the stars and planets tracing their undeviating paths across the sky. To explain their movements the priest-astronomers invented the solid firmament. Beyond the known land, encircling it, was the sea, and beyond the sea was a range of high mountains, forming another girdle round the earth. On these mountains the dome of the heavens rested, much as the dome of St. Paul's rests on its lofty masonry. The sun travelled across its under-surface by day, and went back to the east during the night through a tunnel in the lower portion of the vault. To the common folk the priests explained that this framework of the world was the body of an ancient and disreputable goddess. The god of light had slit her in two, "as you do a dried fish," they said, and made the plain of the earth with one half and the blue arch of the heavens with the other. So Chaldaea lived out its 5000 years without discovering the universe. Egypt adopted the idea from more scientific Babylon. Amongst the fragments of its civilisation we find representations of the firmament as a goddess, arching over the earth on her hands and feet, condemned to that eternal posture by some victorious god. The idea spread amongst the smaller nations which were lit by the civilisation of Babylon and Egypt. Some blended it with coarse old legends; some, like the Persians and Hebrews, refined it. The Persians made fire a purer and lighter spirit, so that the stars would need no support. But everywhere the blue vault hemmed in the world and the ideas of men. It was so close, some said, that the birds could reach it. At last the genius of Greece brooded over the whole chaos of cosmical speculations. The native tradition of Greece was a little more helpful than the Babylonian teaching. First was chaos; then the heavier matter sank to the bottom, forming the disk of the earth, with the ocean poured round it, and the less coarse matter floated as an atmosphere above it, and the still finer matter formed an "aether" above the atmosphere. A remarkably good guess, in its very broad outline; but the solid firmament still arched the earth, and the stars were little undying fires in the vault. The earth itself was small and flat. It stretched (on the modern map) from about Gibraltar to the Caspian, and from Central Germany--where the entrance to the lower world was located--to the Atlas mountains. But all the varied and conflicting culture of the older empires was now passing into Greece, lighting up in succession the civilisations of Asia Minor, the Greek islands, and then Athens and its sister states. Men began to think. The first genius to have a glimpse of the truth seems to have been the grave and mystical Pythagorus (born about 582 B.C.). He taught his little school that the earth was a globe, not a disk, and that it turned on its axis in twenty-four hours. The earth and the other planets were revolving round the central fire of the system; but the sun was a reflection of this central fire, not the fire itself. Even Pythagoras, moreover, made the heavens a solid sphere revolving, with its stars, round the central fire; and the truth he discovered was mingled with so much mysticism, and confined to so small and retired a school, that it was quickly lost again. In the next generation Anaxagoras taught that the sun was a vast globe of white-hot iron, and that the stars were material bodies made white-hot by friction with the ether. A generation later the famous Democritus came nearer than any to the truth. The universe was composed of an infinite number of indestructible particles, called "atoms," which had gradually settled from a state of chaotic confusion to their present orderly arrangement in large masses. The sun was a body of enormous size, and the points of light in the Milky Way were similar suns at a tremendous distance from the earth. Our universe, moreover, was only one of an infinite number of universes, and an eternal cycle of destruction and re-formation was running through these myriads of worlds.THE STORY OF EVOLUTION By Joseph McCabe 1912 PREFACE An ingenious student of science once entertained his generation with a theory of how one might behold again all the stirring chapters that make up the story of the earth. The living scene of our time is lit by the light of the sun, and for every few rays that enter the human eye, and convey the image of it to the human mind, great floods of the reflected light pour out, swiftly and indefinitely, into space. Imagine, then, a man moving out into space more rapidly than light, his face turned toward the earth. Flashing through the void at, let us say, a million miles a second, he would (if we can overlook the dispersion of the rays of light) overtake in succession the light that fell on the French Revolution, the Reformation, the Norman Conquest, and the faces of the ancient empires. He would read, in reverse order, the living history of man and whatever lay before the coming of man. Few thought, as they smiled over this fairy tale of science, that some such panoramic survey of the story of the earth, and even of the heavens, might one day be made in a leisure hour by ordinary mortals; that in the soil on which they trod were surer records of the past than in its doubtful literary remains, and in the deeper rocks were records that dimly lit a vast abyss of time of which they never dreamed. It is the supreme achievement of modern science to have discovered and deciphered these records. The picture of the past which they afford is, on the whole, an outline sketch. Here and there the details, the colour, the light and shade, may be added; but the greater part of the canvas is left to the more skilful hand of a future generation, and even the broad lines are at times uncertain. Yet each age would know how far its scientific men have advanced in constructing that picture of the growth of the heavens and the earth, and the aim of the present volume is to give, in clear and plain language, as full an account of the story as the present condition of our knowledge and the limits of the volume will allow. The author has been for many years interested in the evolution of things, or the way in which suns and atoms, fishes and flowers, hills and elephants, even man and his institutions, came to be what they are. Lecturing and writing on one or other phase of the subject have, moreover, taught him a language which the inexpert seem to understand, although he is not content merely to give a superficial description of the past inhabitants of the earth. The particular features which, it is hoped, may give the book a distinctive place in the large literature of evolution are, first, that it includes the many evolutionary discoveries of the last few years, gathers its material from the score of sciences which confine themselves to separate aspects of the universe, and blends all these facts and discoveries in a more or less continuous chronicle of the life of the heavens and the earth. Then the author has endeavoured to show, not merely how, but why, scene succeeds scene in the chronicle of the earth, and life slowly climbs from level to level. He has taken nature in the past as we find it to-day: an interconnected whole, in which the changes of land and sea, of heat and cold, of swamp and hill, are faithfully reflected in the forms of its living population.

The camel seems to be traceable to a group of primitive North American
Ungulates (Paebrotherium, etc.) in the later Eocene period. The
Paebrotherium, a small animal about two feet long, is followed by
Pliauchenia, which points toward the llamas and vicunas, and Procamelus,
which clearly foreshadows the true camel. In the Pliocene the one branch
went southward, to develop into the llamas and vicunas, and the other
branch crossed to Asia, to develop into the camels. Since that time they
have had no descendants in North America.

The primitive giraffe appears suddenly in the later Tertiary deposits of
Europe and Asia. The evidence points to an invasion from Africa, and,
as the region of development is unknown and unexplored, the evolution of
the giraffe remains a matter of speculation. Chevrotains flourished in
Europe and North America in the Oligocene, and are still very primitive
in structure, combining features of the hog and the ruminants. Primitive
deer and oxen begin in the Miocene, and seem to have an earlier
representative in certain American animals (Protoceras), of which the
male has a pair of blunt outgrowths between the ears. The first true
deer are hornless (like the primitive muskdeer of Asia to-day), but by
the middle of the Miocene the males have small two-pronged antlers, and
as the period proceeds three or four more prongs are added. It is some
confirmation of the evolutionary embryonic law that we find the antlers
developing in this way in the individual stag to-day. A very
curious race of ruminants in the later Tertiary was a large antelope
(Sivatherium) with four horns. It had not only the dimensions, but
apparently some of the characters, of an elephant.

The elephant itself, the last type of the Ungulates, has a clearer line
of developments. A chance discovery of fossils in the Fayum district in
Egypt led Dr. C. W. Andrews to make a special exploration, and on the
remains which he found he has constructed a remarkable story of the
evolution of the elephant. [*] It is clear that the elephant was developed
in Africa, and a sufficiently complete series of remains has been found
to give a good idea of the origin of its most distinctive features.
In the Eocene period there lived in the Egyptian region an animal,
something like the tapir in size and appearance, which had its second
incisors developed into small tusks and--to judge from the nasal opening
in the skull--a somewhat prolonged snout. This animal (Moeritherium)
only differed from the ordinary primitive Ungulate in these incipient
elephantine features. In the later Eocene a larger and more advanced
animal, the Palaeomastodon, makes its appearance. Its tusks are larger
(five or six inches long), its molars more elephantine, the air-cells
at the back of the head more developed. It would look like a small
elephant, except that it had a long snout, instead of a flexible trunk,
and a projecting lower jaw on which the snout rested.Evolution is, therefore, not a "mere description" of the procession of
living things; it is to a great extent an explanation of the procession.
When, however, we come to apply these general principles to certain
aspects of the advance in organisation we find fundamental differences
of opinion among biologists, which must be noted. As Sir E. Ray
Lankester recently said, it is not at all true that Darwinism is
questioned in zoology to-day. It is true only that Darwin was not
omniscient or infallible, and some of his opinions are disputed.

Let me introduce the subject with a particular instance of evolution,
the flat-fish. This animal has been fitted to survive the terrible
struggle in the seas by acquiring such a form that it can lie almost
unseen upon the floor of the ocean. The eye on the under side of the
body would thus be useless, but a glance at a sole or plaice in a
fishmonger's shop will show that this eye has worked upward to the top
of the head. Was the eye shifted by the effort and straining of the
fish, inherited and increased slightly in each generation? Is the
explanation rather that those fishes in each generation survived and
bred which happened from birth to have a slight variation in that
direction, though they did not inherit the effect of the parent's effort
to strain the eye? Or ought we to regard this change of structure as
brought about by a few abrupt and considerable variations on the part
of the young? There you have the three great schools which divide modern
evolutionists: Lamarckism, Weismannism, and Mendelism (or Mutationism).
All are Darwinians. No one doubts that the flat-fish was evolved from an
ordinary fish--the flat-fish is an ordinary fish in its youth--or that
natural selection (enemies) killed off the old and transitional types
and overlooked (and so favoured) the new. It will be seen that the
language used in this volume is not the particular language of any
one of these schools. This is partly because I wish to leave seriously
controverted questions open, and partly from a feeling of compromise,
which I may explain. [*]

     * Of recent years another compromise has been proposed
     between the Lamarckians and Weismannists. It would say that
     the efforts of the parent and their effect on the position
     of the eye--in our case--are not inherited, but might be of
     use in sheltering an embryonic variation in the direction of
     a displaced eye.


First, the plain issue between the Mendelians and the other two
schools--whether the passage from species to species is brought about
by a series of small variations during a long period or by a few large
variations (or "mutations") in a short period--is open to an obvious
compromise. It is quite possible that both views are correct, in
different cases, and quite impossible to find the proportion of each
class of cases. We shall see later that in certain instances where the
conditions of preservation were good we can sometimes trace a perfectly
gradual advance from species to species. Several shellfish have been
traced in this way, and a sea-urchin in the chalk has been followed,
quite gradually, from one end of a genus to the other. It is significant
that the advance of research is multiplying these cases. There is no
reason why we may not assume most of the changes of species we have
yet seen to have occurred in this way. In fact, in some of the lower
branches of the animal world (Radiolaria, Sponges, etc.) there is often
no sharp division of species at all, but a gradual series of living
varieties.

On the other hand we know many instances of very considerable sudden
changes. The cases quoted by Mendelists generally belong to the plant
world, but instances are not unknown in the animal world. A shrimp
(Artemia) was made to undergo considerable modification, by altering the
proportion of salt in the water in which it was kept. Butterflies have
been made to produce young quite different from their normal young by
subjecting them to abnormal temperature, electric currents, and so on;
and, as I said, the most remarkable effects have been produced on eggs
and embryos by altering the chemical and physical conditions. Rats--I
was informed by the engineer in charge of the refrigerating room on
an Australian liner--very quickly became adapted to the freezing
temperature by developing long hair. All that we have seen of the past
changes in the environment of animals makes it probable that these
larger variations often occur. I would conclude, therefore, that
evolution has proceeded continuously (though by no means universally)
through the ages, but there were at times periods of more acute change
with correspondingly larger changes in the animal and plant worlds.

In regard to the issue between the Lamarckians and Weismannists--whether
changes acquired by the parent are inherited by the young--recent
experiments again suggest something of a compromise. Weismann says that
the body of the parent is but the case containing the germ-plasm, so
that all modifications of the living parent body perish with it, and do
not affect the germ, which builds the next generation. Certainly, when
we reflect that the 70,000 ova in the human mother's ovary seem to have
been all formed in the first year of her life, it is difficult to see
how modifications of her muscles or nerves can affect them.The Archaean continent that we described was
being reduced constantly by the wash of rain, the scouring of rivers,
and the fretting of the waves on the coast. It is generally thought that
these wearing agencies were more violent in early times, but that is
disputed, and we will not build on it. In any case, in the course of
time millions of tons of matter were scraped off the Archaean continent
and laid on the floor of the sea by its rivers. This meant a very
serious alteration of pressure or weight on the surface of the globe,
and was bound to entail a reaction or restoration of the balance.

The rise of the land and formation of mountains used to be ascribed
mainly to the cooling and shrinking of the globe of the earth. The skin
(crust), it was thought, would become too large for the globe as it
shrank, and would wrinkle outwards, or pucker up into mountain-chains.
The position of our greater mountain-chains sprawling across half the
earth (the Pyrenees to the Himalaya, and the Rocky Mountains to the
Andes), seems to confirm this, but the question of the interior of the
earth is obscure and disputed, and geologists generally conceive the
rise of land and formation of mountains in a different way. They are due
probably to the alteration of pressure on the crust in combination with
the instability of the interior. The floors of the seas would sink still
lower under their colossal burdens, and this would cause some draining
of the land-surface. At the same time the heavy pressure below the seas
and the lessening of pressure over the land would provoke a reaction.
Enormous masses of rock would be forced toward and underneath the
land-surface, bending, crumpling, and upheaving it as if its crust were
but a leather coat. As a result, masses of land would slowly rise above
the plain, to be shaped into hills and valleys by the hand of later
time, and fresh surfaces would be dragged out of the deep, enlarging the
fringes of the primitive continents, to be warped and crumpled in their
turn at the next era of pressure.

In point of geological fact, the story of the earth has been one
prolonged series of changes in the level of land and water, and in their
respective limits. These changes have usually been very gradual, but
they have always entailed changes (in climate, etc. ) of the greatest
significance in the evolution of life. What was the swampy soil of
England in the Carboniferous period is now sometimes thousands of feet
beneath us; and what was the floor of a deep ocean over much of Europe
and Asia at another time is now to be found on the slopes of lofty Alps,
or 20,000 feet above the sea-level in Thibet. Our story of terrestrial
life will be, to a great extent, the story of how animals and plants
changed their structure in the long series of changes which this endless
battle of land and sea brought over the face of the earth.

As we have no recognisable remains of the animals and plants of the
earliest age, we will not linger over the Archaean rocks. Starting from
deep and obscure masses of volcanic matter, the geologist, as he
travels up the series of Archaean rocks, can trace only a dim and
most unsatisfactory picture of those remote times. Between outpours of
volcanic floods he finds, after a time, traces that an ocean and rivers
are wearing away the land. He finds seams of carbon among the rocks of
the second division of the Archaean (the Keewatin), and deduces from
this that a dense sea-weed population already covered the floor of
the ocean. In the next division (the Huronian) he finds the traces of
extensive ice-action strangely lying between masses of volcanic rock,
and sees that thousands of square miles of eastern North America were
then covered with an ice-sheet. Then fresh floods of molten matter are
poured out from the depths below; then the sea floods the land for a
time; and at last it makes its final emergence as the first definitive
part of the North American continent, to enlarge, by successive fringes,
to the continent of to-day. [*]

     * I am quoting Professor Coleman's summary of Archaean
     research in North America (Address to the Geological Section
     of the British Association, 1909). Europe, as a continent,
     has had more "ups and downs" than America in the course of
     geological time.


This meagre picture of the battle of land and sea, with interludes of
great volcanic activity and even of an ice age, represents nearly all
we know of the first half of the world's story from geology. It is
especially disappointing in regard to the living population. The very
few fossils we find in the upper Archaean rocks are so similar to those
we shall discuss in the next chapter that we may disregard them, and the
seams of carbon-shales, iron-ore, and limestone, suggest only, at the
most, that life was already abundant. We must turn elsewhere for some
information on the origin and early development of life.

The question of the origin of life I will dismiss with a brief account
of the various speculations of recent students of science. Broadly
speaking, their views fall into three classes. Some think that the germs
of life may have come to the earth from some other body in the universe;
some think that life was evolved out of non-living matter in the early
ages of the earth, under exceptional conditions which we do not at
present know, or can only dimly conjecture; and some think that life
is being evolved from non-life in nature to-day, and always has been so
evolving. The majority of scientific men merely assume that the earliest
living things were no exception to the general process of evolution, but
think that we have too little positive knowledge to speculate profitably
on the manner of their origin.

The first view, that the germs of life may have come to this planet on a
meteoric visitor from some other world, as a storm-driven bird may take
its parasites to some distant island, is not without adherents to-day.
It was put forward long ago by Lord Kelvin and others; it has been
revived by the distinguished Swede, Professor Svante Arrhenius. The
scientific objection to it is that the more intense (ultra-violet) rays
of the sun would frill such germs as they pass through space. But a
broader objection, and one that may dispense us from dwelling on it, is
that we gain nothing by throwing our problems upon another planet. We
have no ground for supposing that the earth is less capable of evolving
life than other planets.

The second view is that, when the earth had passed through its white-hot
stage, great masses of very complex chemicals, produced by the great
heat, were found on its surface. There is one complex chemical substance
in particular, called cyanogen, which is either an important constituent
of living matter, or closely akin to it. Now we need intense heat to
produce this substance in the laboratory. May we not suppose that masses
of it were produced during the incandescence of the earth, and that,
when the waters descended, they passed through a series of changes which
culminated in living plasm? Such is the "cyanogen hypothesis" of
the origin of life, advocated by able physiologists such as Pfluger,
Verworn, and others. It has the merit of suggesting a reason why life
may not be evolving from non-life in nature to-day, although it may have
so evolved in the Archaean period.

Other students suggest other combinations of carbon-compounds and water
in the early days. Some suggest that electric action was probably far
more intense in those ages; others think that quantities of radium
may have been left at the surface. But the most important of these
speculations on the origin of life in early times, and one that has the
merit of not assuming any essentially different conditions then than we
find now, is contained in a recent pronouncement of one of the greatest
organic chemists in Europe, Professor Armstrong. He says that such
great progress has been made in his science--the science of the chemical
processes in living things--that "their cryptic character seems to have
disappeared almost suddenly." On the strength of this new knowledge of
living matter, he ventures to say that "a series of lucky accidents"
could account for the first formation of living things out of non-living
matter in Archaean times. Indeed, he goes further. He names certain
inorganic substances, and says that the blowing of these into pools by
the wind on the primitive planet would set afoot chemical combinations
which would issue in the production of living matter. [*]

     * See his address in Nature, vol. 76, p. 651. For other
     speculations see Verworn's "General Physiology," Butler
     Burke's "Origin of Life" (1906), and Dr. Bastian's "Origin
     of Life" (1911).


It is evident that the popular notion that scientific men have declared
that life cannot be evolved from non-life is very far astray. This
blunder is usually due to a misunderstanding of the dogmatic statement
which one often reads in scientific works that "every living thing comes
from a living thing." This principle has no reference to remote ages,
when the conditions may have been different. It means that to-day,
within our experience, the living thing is always born of a living
parent. However, even this is questioned by some scientific men of
eminence, and we come to the third view.

Professor Nageli, a distinguished botanist, and Professor Haeckel,
maintain that our experience, as well as the range of our microscopes,
is too limited to justify the current axiom. They believe that life may
be evolving constantly from inorganic matter. Professor J. A. Thomson
also warns us that our experience is very limited, and, for all we know,
protoplasm may be forming naturally in our own time. Mr. Butler Burke
has, under the action of radium, caused the birth of certain minute
specks which strangely imitate the behaviour of bacteria. Dr. Bastian
has maintained for years that he has produced living things from
non-living matter. In his latest experiments, described in the book
quoted, purely inorganic matter is used, and it is previously subjected,
in hermetically sealed tubes, to a heat greater than what has been found
necessary to kill any germs whatever.

Evidently the problem of the origin of life is not hopeless, but our
knowledge of the nature of living matter is still so imperfect that we
may leave detailed speculation on its origin to a future generation.
Organic chemistry is making such strides that the day may not be far
distant when living matter will be made by the chemist, and the secret
of its origin revealed. For the present we must be content to choose the
more plausible of the best-informed speculations on the subject.

But while the origin of life is obscure, the early stages of its
evolution come fairly within the range of our knowledge. To the inexpert
it must seem strange that, whereas we must rely on pure speculation
in attempting to trace the origin of life, we can speak with more
confidence of those early developments of plants and animals which are
equally buried in the mists of the Archaean period. Have we not said
that nothing remains of the procession of organisms during half the
earth's story but a shapeless seam of carbon or limestone?

A simple illustration will serve to justify the procedure we are
about to adopt. Suppose that the whole of our literary and pictorial
references to earlier stages in the development of the bicycle, the
locomotive, or the loom, were destroyed. We should still be able to
retrace the phases of their evolution, because we should discover
specimens belonging to those early phases lingering in our museums, in
backward regions, and elsewhere. They might yet be useful in certain
environments into which the higher machines have not penetrated. In the
same way, if all the remains of prehistoric man and early civilisation
were lost, we could still fairly retrace the steps of the human race, by
gathering the lower tribes and races, and arranging them in the order
of their advancement. They are so many surviving illustrations of the
stages through which mankind as a whole has passed.

Just in the same way we may marshal the countless species of animals and
plants to-day in such order that they will, in a general way, exhibit
to us the age-long procession of life. From the very start of living
evolution certain forms dropped out of the onward march, and have
remained, to our great instruction, what their ancestors were millions
of years ago. People create a difficulty for themselves by imagining
that, if evolution is true, all animals must evolve. A glance at our own
fellows will show the error of this. Of one family of human beings, as
a French writer has said, one only becomes a Napoleon; the others remain
Lucien, Jerome, or Joseph. Of one family of animals or trees, some
advance in one or other direction; some remain at the original level.
There is no "law of progress." The accidents of the world and hereditary
endowment impel some onward, and do not impel others. Hence at nearly
every great stage in the upward procession through the ages some
regiment of plants or animals has dropped out, and it represents to-day
the stage of life at which it ceased to progress. In other words, when
we survey the line of the hundreds of thousands of species which we
find in nature to-day, we can trace, amid their countless variations and
branches, the line of organic evolution in the past; just as we could,
from actual instances, study the evolution of a British house, from
the prehistoric remains in Devonshire to a mansion in Park Lane or a
provincial castle.

Another method of retracing the lost early chapters in the development
of life is furnished by embryology. The value of this method is not
recognised by all embryologists, but there are now few authorities who
question the substantial correctness of it, and we shall, as we proceed,
see some remarkable applications of it. In brief, it is generally
admitted that an animal or plant is apt to reproduce, during its
embryonic development, some of the stages of its ancestry in past time.
This does not mean that a higher animal, whose ancestors were at one
time worms, at another time fishes, and at a later time reptiles, will
successively take the form of a little worm, a little fish, and a little
reptile. The embryonic life itself has been subject to evolution, and
this reproduction of ancestral forms has been proportionately disturbed.
Still, we shall find that animals will tend, in their embryonic
development, to reproduce various structural features which can only be
understood as reminiscences of ancestral organs. In the lower animals
the reproduction is much less disturbed than in the higher, but even in
the case of man this law is most strikingly verified. We shall find
it useful sometimes at least in confirming our conclusions as to the
ancestry of a particular group.

We have, therefore, two important clues to the missing chapters in the
story of evolution. Just as the scheme of the evolution of worlds is
written broadly across the face of the heavens to-day, so the scheme of
the evolution of life is written on the face of living nature; and it
is written again, in blurred and broken characters, in the embryonic
development of each individual. With these aids we set out to restore
the lost beginning of the epic of organic evolution.

dilluns, 28 de desembre de 2015

1674.—Two Swedish sailors were killed on shipboard by the fall of an aerolite. (14.) 1751, May 26.—Two meteoric masses, consisting almost wholly of iron, fell near Agram, the capital of Croatia. The larger fragment, which weighs 72 pounds, is now in Vienna.DEAD COMETS ARE UPON US OF A PERDENDO TODO O GÁS APROXIMAM-SE DO ALVO TERRESTRE SEM CAUDAS QUE AVISEM DO DOOMSDAY Zeno, Democritus, and other Greek philosophers held that comets were produced by the collection of several stars into clusters. Aristotle taught that they were formed by exhalations, which, rising from the earth's surface, ignited in the upper regions of the atmosphere. This hypothesis, through the great influence of its author, was generally received for almost two thousand years. Juster views, however, were entertained by the celebrated Seneca, who maintained that comets ought to be ranked among the permanent works of nature, and that their disappearance was not an extinction, but simply a passing beyond the reach of our vision. The observations of Tycho Brahe first established the fact that comets move through the planetary spaces far beyond the limits of our atmosphere. The illustrious Dane, however, supposed them to move in circular orbits. Kepler, on the other hand, was no less in error in considering their paths to be rectilinear. James Bernoulli supposed comets to be the satellites of a very remote planet, invisible on account of its great distance,—such satellites being seen only in the parts of their orbits nearest the earth. Still [Pg 15] more extravagant was the hypothesis of Descartes, who held that they were originally fixed stars, which, having gradually lost their light, could no longer retain their positions, but were involved in the vortices of the neighboring stars, when such as were thus brought within the sphere of the sun's illuminating power again became visible. Comets visible in the daytime. Comets of extraordinary brilliancy have sometimes been seen during the daytime. At least thirteen authentic instances of this phenomenon have been recorded in history. The first was the comet which appeared about the year 43 B.C., just after the assassination of Julius Cæsar. The Romans called it the Julium Sidus, and regarded it as a celestial chariot sent to convey the soul of Cæsar to the skies. It was seen two or three hours before sunset, and continued visible for eight successive days. The great comet of 1106, described as an object of terrific splendor, was seen simultaneously with the sun, and in close proximity to it. Dr. Halley supposed this and the Julian comet to have been previous visits of the great comet of 1680. In the year 1402 two comets appeared,—one about the middle of February, the other in June,—both of which were visible while the sun was above the horizon. One was of such magnitude and brilliancy that the nucleus and even the tail could be seen at midday. The comet of 1472, one of the most splendid recorded in history, was visible in full daylight, when nearest the earth, on the 21st of January. This[Pg 16] comet, according to Laugier, moves very nearly in the plane of the ecliptic, its inclination being less than two degrees. Its least distance from our globe was only 3,300,000 miles. The comet of 1532, supposed by some to be identical with that of 1661, was also visible in full sunshine. The apparent magnitude of its nucleus was three times greater than that of Jupiter. The comet of 1577 was seen with the naked eye by Tycho Brahe before sunset. It was by observations on this body that Aristotle's doctrine in regard to the origin, nature, and distance of comets was proved to be erroneous. It was simultaneously observed by Tycho at Oranienberg, and Thaddeus Hagecius at Prague; the points of observation being more than 400 miles apart, and nearly on the same meridian. The comet was found to have no sensible diurnal parallax; in other words, its apparent place in the heavens was the same to each observer, which could not have been the case had the comet been less distant than the moon. The comet which passed its perihelion on the 8th of November, 1618, was distinctly seen by Marsilius when the sun was above the horizon. The great comet of 1744 was seen without the aid of a glass at one o'clock in the afternoon,—only five hours after its perihelion passage. The diameter of this body was nearly equal to that of Jupiter. It had six tails, the greatest length of which was about 30,000,000 miles, or nearly one-third of the distance of the earth from the sun. The spaces between the tails were as dark as the rest of the heavens, while the tails themselves were bordered with a luminous edging of great beauty.The term comet—which signifies literally a hairy star—may be applied to all bodies that revolve about the sun in very eccentric orbits. The sudden appearance, vast dimensions, and extraordinary aspect of these celestial wanderers, together with their rapid and continually varying motions, have never failed to excite the attention and wonder of all observers. Nor is it surprising that in former times, when the nature of their orbits was wholly unknown, they should have been looked upon as omens of impending evil, or messengers of an angry Deity. Even now, although modern science has reduced their motions to the domain of law, determined approximately their orbits, and assigned in a number of instances their periods, the interest awakened by their appearance is in some respects still unabated. The special points of dissimilarity between planets and comets are the following:—The former are dense, and, so far as we know, solid bodies; the latter are many thousand times rarer than the earth's atmosphere. The planets all move from west to east; many comets revolve in the opposite direction. The planetary orbits are but slightly inclined to the plane of the ecliptic; those of comets may have any inclination whatever. The planets are observed in[Pg 14] all parts of their orbits; comets, only in those parts nearest the sun. The larger comets are attended by a tail, or train of varying dimensions, extending generally in a direction opposite to that of the sun. The more condensed part, from which the tail proceeds, is called the nucleus; and the nebulous envelope immediately surrounding the nucleus is sometimes termed the coma. These different parts are seen which represents the great comet of 1811.The origin of meteoric astronomy, as a science, dates from the memorable star-shower of 1833. Soon after that brilliant display it was found that similar phenomena had been witnessed, at nearly regular intervals, in former times. This discovery led at once to another no less important, viz.: that the nebulous masses from which such showers are derived revolve about the sun in paths intersecting the earth's orbit. The theory that these meteor-clouds are but the scattered fragments of disintegrated comets was announced by several astronomers in 1867:—a theory confirmed in a remarkable manner by the shower of meteors from the débris of Biela's comet on the 27th of November, 1872. To gratify the interest awakened in the public mind by the discoveries here named, is the main design of the following work. Among the subjects considered are, cometary astronomy; aerolites, with the phenomena attending their fall; the most bril[Pg 4]liant star-showers of all ages; and the origin of comets, aerolites, and falling stars.COMETS AND METEORS: THEIR PHENOMENA IN ALL AGES; THEIR MUTUAL RELATIONS; AND THE THEORY OF THEIR ORIGIN. BY DANIEL KIRKWOOD, LL.D., PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS IN INDIANA UNIVERSITY, AND AUTHOR OF "METEORIC ASTRONOMY." PHILADELPHIA: J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO. 1873.

NOVEMBER 15TH 1859 Between 9 and 10 o'clock in the morning an extraordinary meteor was seen in several of the New England States, New York, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. The apparent diameter of the head was nearly equal to that of the sun, and it had a train, notwithstanding the bright sunshine, several degrees in length. Its disappearance on the coast of the Atlantic was followed by a series of the most terrific explosions. It is believed to have descended into the water, probably into Delaware Bay. A highly interesting account of this meteor, by Professor Loomis, may be found in the American Journal of Science and Arts for January, 1860.

THE DISINTEGRATION OF COMETS.

The fact that in several instances meteoric streams move in orbits identical with those of certain comets was first established by the researches of Signor Schiaparelli. The theory, however, of an intimate relationship between comets and meteors was advocated by the writer as long since as 1861,—several years previous to the publication of Schiaparelli's memoirs. In the essay here referred to it was maintained—
1. That meteors and meteoric rings "are the débris of ancient but now disintegrated comets whose matter has become distributed around their orbits."
2. That the separation of Biela's comet as it approached the sun in December, 1845, was but one in a series of similar processes which would probably continue until the individual fragments would become invisible.
3. That certain luminous meteors have entered the solar system from the interstellar spaces.
4. That the orbits of some meteors and periodic comets have been transformed into ellipses by planetary perturbation; and[Pg 50]
5. That numerous facts—some observed in ancient and some in modern times—have been decidedly indicative of cometary disintegration.
What was thus proposed as theory has been since confirmed as undoubted facts. When the hypothesis was originally advanced, the data required for its mathematical demonstration were entirely wanting. The evidence, however, by which it was sustained was sufficient to give it a high degree of probability.
The existence of a divellent force by which comets near their perihelia have been separated into parts is clearly shown by the following facts. Whether this force, as suggested by Schiaparelli, is simply the unequal attraction of the sun on different parts of the nebulous mass, or whether, in accordance with the views of other astronomers, it is to be regarded as a cosmical force of repulsion, is a question left for future discussion.
Historical Facts.
1. Seneca informs us that Ephoras, a Greek writer of the fourth century before Christ had recorded the singular fact of a comet's separation into two distinct parts.This statement was deemed incredible by the Roman philosopher, inasmuch as the occurrence was then without a parallel. More recent observations of similar phenomena leave no room to question the historian's veracity.
2. The head of the great comet of A.D. 389, ac[Pg 51]cording to the writers of that period, was "composed of several small stars." (Hind's "Comets," p. 103.)
3. On June 27, A.D. 416, two comets appeared in the constellation Hercules, and pursued nearly the same apparent path. Probably at a former epoch the pair had constituted a single comet

diumenge, 20 de desembre de 2015

And consider, too, that the economies of some of the Western powers are based on the production of arms to the point that if such production ended, overnight, depressions would sweep their nations. In short, they can't afford a world without tensions." "It's a problem for the future to solve," someone else said. "But meanwhile I believe the committee is right. Until it is absolutely proven that we need have no fears about the other nations, we must keep our own strength." Under his hedge, Paul grimaced, but he was getting what he came for, a discussion of policy, without the restrictions his presence would have put on the conversation. "Let's deal with a more pleasant subject," a feminine voice said. "Our broadcasts should stress to the people that for the first time in the history of Russia we will be truly in the position to lead the world! For fifty years the Communists attempted to convert nations into adopting their system, and largely they were turned down. Those countries that did become Communist either did so at the point of the Red Army's bayonet or under the stress of complete collapse such as in China. But tomorrow, and the New Russia? Freed from the inadequacy and inefficiency of the bureaucrats who have misruled us, we'll develop a productive machine that will be the envy of the world!" Her voice had all but a fanatical ring. Someone else chuckled, "If the West thought they had competition from us before, wait until they see the New Russia!" Paul thought he saw someone, a shadow, at the side of the clearing. His lips thinned and the .38 Noiseless was in his hand magically. False alarm. He turned back to the "conversation" inside. Kirichenko's voice was saying, "It is hard for me not to believe that within a period of a year or so half the countries of the world will follow our example." "Half!" someone laughed exuberantly. "The world, Comrades! The new system will sweep the world. For the first time in history the world will see what Marx and Engels were really driving at!"For some forty years critics of the U.S.S.R. have been desiring, predicting, not to mention praying for, its collapse. For twenty of these years the author of this story has vaguely wondered what would replace the collapsed Soviet system. A return to Czarism? Oh, come now! Capitalism as we know it today in the advanced Western countries? It would seem difficult after almost half a century of State ownership and control of the means of production, distribution, communications, education, science. Then what? That's him ... The Chief's hatchetman ... Know what they call him in Central America, a pistola, that means ... About Iraq ... And that time in Egypt ... Did you notice his eyes ... How would you like to date him ... That's him. I was at a cocktail party once when he was there. Shivery ... cold-blooded—" Paul Koslov grinned inwardly. He hadn't asked for the reputation but it isn't everyone who is a legend before thirty-five. What was it Newsweek had called him? "The T. E. Lawrence of the Cold War." The trouble was it wasn't something you could turn off. It had its shortcomings when you found time for some personal life. He reached the Chief's office, rapped with a knuckle and pushed his way through. The Chief and a male secretary, who was taking dictation, looked up. The secretary frowned, evidently taken aback by the cavalier entrance, but the Chief said, "Hello, Paul, come on in. Didn't expect you quite so soon." And to the secretary, "Dickens, that's all." When Dickens was gone the Chief scowled at his trouble-shooter. "Paul, you're bad for discipline around here. Can't you even knock before you enter? How is Nicaragua?" Paul Koslov slumped into a leather easy-chair and scowled. "I did knock. Most of it's in my report. Nicaragua is ... tranquil. It'll stay tranquil for a while, too. There isn't so much as a parlor pink—" "And Lopez—?" Paul said slowly, "Last time I saw Raul was in a swamp near Lake Managua. The very last time." The Chief said hurriedly, "Don't give me the details. I leave details up to you." "I know," Paul said flatly. His superior drew a pound can of Sir Walter Raleigh across the desk, selected a briar from a pipe rack and while he was packing in tobacco said, "Paul, do you know what day it is—and what year?" "It's Tuesday. And 1965." The bureau chief looked at his disk calendar. "Um-m-m. Today the Seven Year Plan is completed." Paul snorted. The Chief said mildly, "Successfully. For all practical purposes, the U.S.S.R. has surpassed us in gross national product." "That's not the way I understand it." "Then you make the mistake of believing our propaganda. That's always a mistake, believing your own propaganda. Worse than believing the other man's." "Our steel capacity is a third again as much as theirs." "Yes, and currently, what with our readjustment—remember when they used to call them recessions, or even earlier, depressions—our steel industry is operating at less than sixty per cent of capacity. The Soviets always operate at one hundred per cent of capacity. They don't have to worry about whether or not they can sell it. If they produce more steel than they immediately need, they use it to build another steel mill." The Chief shook his head. "As long ago as 1958 they began passing us, product by product. Grain, butter, and timber production, jet aircraft, space flight, and coal—" Paul leaned forward impatiently. "We put out more than three times as many cars, refrigerators, kitchen stoves, washing machines." His superior said, "That's the point. While we were putting the product of our steel mills into automobiles and automatic kitchen equipment, they did without these things and put their steel into more steel mills, more railroads, more factories. We leaned back and took it easy, sneered at their progress, talked a lot about our freedom and liberty to our allies and the neutrals and enjoyed our refrigerators and washing machines until they finally passed us." "You sound like a Tass broadcast from Moscow." "Um-m-m, I've been trying to," the Chief said. "However, that's still roughly the situation. The fact that you and I personally, and a couple of hundred million Americans, prefer our cars and such to more steel mills, and prefer our personal freedoms and liberties is beside the point. We should have done less laughing seven years ago and more thinking about today. As things stand, give them a few more years at this pace and every neutral nation in the world is going to fall into their laps." "That's putting it strong, isn't it?" "Strong?" the Chief growled disgustedly. "That's putting it mildly. Even some of our allies are beginning to waver. Eight years ago, India and China both set out to industrialize themselves. Today, China is the third industrial power of the world. Where's India, about twentieth? Ten years from now China will probably be first. I don't even allow myself to think where she'll be twenty-five years from now." "The Indians were a bunch of idealistic screwballs." "That's one of the favorite alibis, isn't it? Actually we, the West, let them down. They couldn't get underway. The Soviets backed China with everything they could toss in." Paul crossed his legs and leaned back. "It seems to me I've run into this discussion a few hundred times at cocktail parties." The Chief pulled out a drawer and brought forth a king-size box of kitchen matches. He struck one with a thumbnail and peered through tobacco smoke at Paul Koslov as he lit up. "The point is that the system the Russkies used when they started their first five-year plan back in 1928, and the system used in China, works. If we, with our traditions of freedom and liberty, like it or not, it works. Every citizen of the country is thrown into the grinding mill to increase production. Everybody," the Chief grinned sourly, "that is, except the party elite, who are running the whole thing. Everybody sacrifices for the sake of the progress of the whole country." "I know," Paul said. "Give me enough time and I'll find out what this lecture is all about." The Chief grunted at him. "The Commies are still in power. If they remain in power and continue to develop the way they're going, we'll be through, completely through, in another few years. We'll be so far behind we'll be the world's laughing-stock—and everybody else will be on the Soviet bandwagon." He seemed to switch subjects. "Ever hear of Somerset Maugham?" "Sure. I've read several of his novels." "I was thinking of Maugham the British Agent, rather than Maugham the novelist, but it's the same man." "British agent?" "Um-m-m. He was sent to Petrograd in 1917 to prevent the Bolshevik revolution. The Germans had sent Lenin and Zinoviev up from Switzerland, where they'd been in exile, by a sealed train in hopes of starting a revolution in Czarist Russia. The point I'm leading to is that in one of his books, 'The Summing Up,' I believe, Maugham mentions in passing that had he got to Petrograd possibly six weeks earlier he thinks he could have done his job successfully." Paul looked at him blankly. "What could he have done?" The Chief shrugged. "It was all out war. The British wanted to keep Russia in the allied ranks so as to divert as many German troops as possible from the Western front. The Germans wanted to eliminate the Russians. Maugham had carte blanche. Anything would have gone. Elements of the British fleet to fight the Bolsheviks, unlimited amounts of money for anything he saw fit from bribery to hiring assassins. What would have happened, for instance, if he could have had Lenin and Trotsky killed?" Paul said suddenly, "What has all this got to do with me?" "We're giving you the job this time." "Maugham's job?" Paul didn't get it. "No, the other one. I don't know who the German was who engineered sending Lenin up to Petrograd, but that's the equivalent of your job." He seemed to go off on another bent. "Did you read Djilas' 'The New Class' about a decade ago?" "Most of it, as I recall. One of Tito's top men who turned against the Commies and did quite a job of exposing the so-called classless society." "That's right. I've always been surprised that so few people bothered to wonder how Djilas was able to smuggle his book out of one of Tito's strongest prisons and get it to publishers in the West." "Never thought of it," Paul agreed. "How could he?" "Because," the Chief said, knocking the ash from his pipe and replacing it in the rack, "there was and is a very strong underground in all the Communist countries. Not only Yugoslavia, but the Soviet Union as well." Paul stirred impatiently. "Once again, what's all this got to do with me?" "They're the ones you're going to work with. The anti-Soviet underground. You've got unlimited leeway. Unlimited support to the extent we can get it to you. Unlimited funds for whatever you find you need them for. Your job is to help the underground start a new Russian Revolution." Paul Koslov, his face still bandaged following plastic surgery, spent a couple of hours in the Rube Goldberg department inspecting the latest gadgets of his trade. Derek Stevens said, "The Chief sent down a memo to introduce you to this new item. We call it a Tracy." Paul frowned at the wristwatch, fingered it a moment, held it to his ear. It ticked and the second hand moved. "Tracy?" he said. Stevens said, "After Dick Tracy. Remember, a few years ago? His wrist two-way radio." "But this is really a watch," Paul said. "Sure. Keeps fairly good time, too. However, that's camouflage. It's also a two-way radio. Tight beam from wherever you are to the Chief." Paul pursed his lips. "The transistor boys are really doing it up brown." He handed the watch back to Derek Stevens. "Show me how it works, Derek." They spent fifteen minutes on the communications device, then Derek Stevens said, "Here's another item the Chief thought you might want to see:" It was a compact, short-muzzled hand gun. Paul handled it with the ease of long practice. "The grip's clumsy. What's its advantage? I don't particularly like an automatic." Derek Stevens motioned with his head. "Come into the firing range, Koslov, and we'll give you a demonstration." Paul shot him a glance from the side of his eyes, then nodded. "Lead on." In the range, Stevens had a man-size silhouette put up. He stood to one side and said, "O.K., let her go." Paul stood easily, left hand in pants pocket, brought the gun up and tightened on the trigger. He frowned and pressed again. He scowled at Derek Stevens. "It's not loaded." Stevens grunted amusement. "Look at the target. First time you got it right over the heart." "I'll be ...," Paul began. He looked down at the weapon in surprise. "Noiseless and recoilless. What caliber is it, Derek, and what's the muzzle velocity?" "We call it the .38 Noiseless," Stevens said. "It has the punch of that .44 Magnum you're presently carrying." With a fluid motion Paul Koslov produced the .44 Magnum from the holster under his left shoulder and tossed it to one side. "That's the last time I tote that cannon," he said. He balanced the new gun in his hand in admiration. "Have the front sight taken off for me, Derek, and the fore part of the trigger guard. I need a quick draw gun." He added absently, "How did you know I carried a .44?" Stevens said, "You're rather famous, Koslov. The Colonel Lawrence of the Cold War. The journalists are kept from getting very much about you, but what they do learn they spread around." Paul Koslov said flatly, "Why don't you like me, Stevens? In this game I don't appreciate people on our team who don't like me. It's dangerous." Derek Stevens flushed. "I didn't say I didn't like you." "You didn't have to." "It's nothing personal," Stevens said. Paul Koslov looked at him. Stevens said, "I don't approve of Americans committing political assassinations." Paul Koslov grinned wolfishly and without humor. "You'll have a hard time proving that even our cloak and dagger department has ever authorized assassination, Stevens. By the way, I'm not an American." Derek Stevens was not the type of man whose jaw dropped, but he blinked. "Then what are you?" "A Russian," Paul snapped. "And look, Stevens, we're busy now, but when you've got some time to do a little thinking, consider the ethics of warfare." Stevens was flushed again at the tone. "Ethics of warfare?" "There aren't any," Paul Koslov snapped. "There hasn't been chivalry in war for a long time, and there probably never will be again. Neither side can afford it. And I'm talking about cold war as well as hot." He scowled at the other. "Or did you labor under the illusion that only the Commies had tough operators on their side?" Paul Koslov crossed the Atlantic in a supersonic TU-180 operated by Europa Airways. That in itself galled him. It was bad enough that the Commies had stolen a march on the West with the first jet liner to go into mass production, the TU-104 back in 1957. By the time the United States brought out its first really practical trans-Atlantic jets in 1959 the Russians had come up with the TU-114 which its designer, old Andrei Tupolev named the largest, most efficient and economical aircraft flying. In civil aircraft they had got ahead and stayed ahead. Subsidized beyond anything the West could or at least would manage, the air lines of the world couldn't afford to operate the slower, smaller and more expensive Western models. One by one, first the neutrals such as India, and then even members of the Western bloc began equipping their air lines with Russian craft. Paul grunted his disgust at the memory of the strong measures that had to be taken by the government to prevent even some of the American lines from buying Soviet craft at the unbelievably low prices they offered them. In London he presented a card on which he had added a numbered code in pencil. Handed it over a desk to the British intelligence major. "I believe I'm expected," Paul said. The major looked at him, then down at the card. "Just a moment, Mr. Smith. I'll see if his lordship is available. Won't you take a chair?" He left the room. Paul Koslov strolled over to the window and looked out on the moving lines of pedestrians below. He had first been in London some thirty years ago. So far as he could remember, there were no noticeable changes with the exception of automobile design. He wondered vaguely how long it took to make a noticeable change in the London street scene. The major re-entered the room with a new expression of respect on his face. "His lordship will see you immediately, Mr. Smith." "Thanks," Paul said. He entered the inner office. Lord Carrol was attired in civilian clothes which somehow failed to disguise a military quality in his appearance. He indicated a chair next to his desk. "We've been instructed to give you every assistance Mr. ... Smith. Frankly, I can't imagine of just what this could consist." Paul said, as he adjusted himself in the chair, "I'm going into the Soviet Union on an important assignment. I'll need as large a team at my disposal as we can manage. You have agents in Russia, of course?" He lifted his eyebrows. His lordship cleared his throat and his voice went even stiffer. "All major military nations have a certain number of espionage operatives in each other's countries. No matter how peaceful the times, this is standard procedure." "And these are hardly peaceful times," Paul said dryly. "I'll want a complete list of your Soviet based agents and the necessary information on how to contact them." Lord Carrol stared at him. Finally sputtered, "Man, why? You're not even a British national. This is—" Paul, held up a hand. "We're co-operating with the Russian underground. Co-operating isn't quite strong enough a word. We're going to push them into activity if we can." The British intelligence head looked down at the card before him. "Mr. Smith," he read. He looked up. "John Smith, I assume." Paul said, still dryly, "Is there any other?" Lord Carrol said, "See here, you're really Paul Koslov, aren't you?" Paul looked at him, said nothing. Lord Carrol said impatiently, "What you ask is impossible. Our operatives all have their own assignments, their own work. Why do you need them?" "This is the biggest job ever, overthrowing the Soviet State. We need as many men as we can get on our team. Possibly I won't have to use them but, if I do, I want them available." The Britisher rapped, "You keep mentioning our team but according to the dossier we carry on you, Mr. Koslov, you are neither British nor even a Yankee. And you ask me to turn over our complete Soviet machinery." Paul came to his feet and leaned over the desk, there was a paleness immediately beneath his ears and along his jaw line. "Listen," he said tightly, "if I'm not on this team, there just is no team. Just a pretense of one. When there's a real team there has to be a certain spirit. A team spirit. I don't care if you're playing cricket, football or international cold war. If there's one thing that's important to me, that I've based my whole life upon, it's this, understand? I've got team spirit. Perhaps no one else in the whole West has it, but I do." Inwardly, Lord Carrol was boiling. He snapped, "You're neither British nor American. In other words, you are a mercenary. How do we know that the Russians won't offer you double or triple what the Yankees pay for your services?" Paul sat down again and looked at his watch. "My time is limited," he said. "I have to leave for Paris this afternoon and be in Bonn tomorrow. I don't care what opinions you might have in regard to my mercenary motives, Lord Carrol. I've just come from Downing Street. I suggest you make a phone call there. At the request of Washington, your government has given me carte blanche in this matter." Paul flew into Moscow in an Aeroflot jet, landing at Vnukovo airport on the outskirts of the city. He entered as an American businessman, a camera importer who was also interested in doing a bit of tourist sightseeing. He was traveling deluxe category which entitled him to a Zil complete with chauffeur and an interpreter-guide when he had need of one. He was quartered in the Ukrayna, on Dorogomilovskaya Quai, a twenty-eight floor skyscraper with a thousand rooms. It was Paul's first visit to Moscow but he wasn't particularly thrown off. He kept up with developments and was aware of the fact that as early as the late 1950s, the Russians had begun to lick the problems of ample food, clothing and finally shelter. Even those products once considered sheer luxuries were now in abundant supply. If material things alone had been all that counted, the Soviet man in the street wasn't doing so badly. He spent the first several days getting the feel of the city and also making his preliminary business calls. He was interested in a new "automated" camera currently being touted by the Russians as the world's best. Fastest lens, foolproof operation, guaranteed for the life of the owner, and retailing for exactly twenty-five dollars. He was told, as expected, that the factory and distribution point was in Leningrad and given instructions and letters of introduction. On the fifth day he took the Red Arrow Express to Leningrad and established himself at the Astoria Hotel, 39 Hertzen Street. It was one of the many of the Intourist hotels going back to before the revolution. He spent the next day allowing his guide to show him the standard tourist sights. The Winter Palace, where the Bolshevik revolution was won when the mutinied cruiser Aurora steamed up the river and shelled it. The Hermitage Museum, rivaled only by the Vatican and Louvre. The Alexandrovskaya Column, the world's tallest monolithic stone monument. The modest personal palace of Peter the Great. The Peter and Paul Cathedral. The king-size Kirov Stadium. The Leningrad subway, as much a museum as a system of transportation. He saw it all, tourist fashion, and wondered inwardly what the Intourist guide would have thought had he known that this was Mr. John Smith's home town. The day following, he turned his business problem over to the guide. He wanted to meet, let's see now, oh yes, here it is, Leonid Shvernik, of the Mikoyan Camera works. Could it be arranged? Of course it could be arranged. The guide went into five minutes of oratory on the desire of the Soviet Union to trade with the West, and thus spread everlasting peace. An interview was arranged for Mr. Smith with Mr. Shvernik for that afternoon. Mr. Smith met Mr. Shvernik in the latter's office at two and they went through the usual amenities. Mr. Shvernik spoke excellent English so Mr. Smith was able to dismiss his interpreter-guide for the afternoon. When he was gone and they were alone Mr. Shvernik went into his sales talk. "I can assure you, sir, that not since the Japanese startled the world with their new cameras shortly after the Second War, has any such revolution in design and quality taken place. The Mikoyan is not only the best camera produced anywhere, but since our plant is fully automated, we can sell it for a fraction the cost of German, Japanese or American—" Paul Koslov came to his feet, walked quietly over to one of the pictures hanging on the wall, lifted it, pointed underneath and raised his eyebrows at the other. Leonid Shvernik leaned back in his chair, shocked. Paul remained there until at last the other shook his head. Paul said, in English, "Are you absolutely sure?" "Yes." Shvernik said. "There are no microphones in here. I absolutely know. Who are you?" Paul said, "In the movement they call you Georgi, and you're top man in the Leningrad area." Shvernik's hand came up from under the desk and he pointed a heavy military revolver at his visitor. "Who are you?" he repeated. Paul ignored the gun. "Someone who knows that you are Georgi," he said "I'm from America. Is there any chance of anybody intruding?" "Yes, one of my colleagues. Or perhaps a secretary." "Then I suggest we go to a bar, or some place, for a drink or a cup of coffee or whatever the current Russian equivalent might be." Shvernik looked at him searchingly. "Yes," he said finally. "There's a place down the street." He began to stick the gun in his waistband, changed his mind and put it back into the desk drawer. As soon as they were on the open street and out of earshot of other pedestrians, Paul said, "Would you rather I spoke Russian? I have the feeling that we'd draw less attention than if we speak English." Shvernik said tightly, "Do the Intourist people know you speak Russian? If not, stick to English. Now, how do you know my name? I have no contacts with the Americans." "I got it through my West German contacts." The Russian's face registered unsuppressed fury. "Do they ignore the simplest of precautions! Do they reveal me to every source that asks?" Paul said mildly, "Herr Ludwig is currently under my direction. Your secret is as safe as it has ever been." The underground leader remained silent for a long moment. "You're an American, eh, and Ludwig told you about me? What do you want now?" "To help," Paul Koslov said. "How do you mean, to help? How can you help? I don't know what you're talking about." "Help in any way you want. Money, printing presses, mimeograph machines, radio transmitters, weapons, manpower in limited amounts, know-how, training, anything you need to help overthrow the Soviet government." They had reached the restaurant. Leonid Shvernik became the Russian export official. He ushered his customer to a secluded table. Saw him comfortably into his chair. "Do you actually know anything about cameras?" he asked. "Yes," Paul said, "we're thorough. I can buy cameras from you and they'll be marketed in the States." "Good." The waiter was approaching. Shvernik said, "Have you ever eaten caviar Russian style?" "I don't believe so," Paul said "I'm not very hungry." "Nothing to do with hunger." Shvernik said. From the waiter he ordered raisin bread, sweet butter, caviar and a carafe of vodka. The waiter went off for it and Shvernik said, "To what extent are you willing to help us? Money, for instance. What kind of money, rubles, dollars? And how much? A revolutionary movement can always use money." "Any kind," Paul said flatly, "and any amount." Shvernik was impressed. He said eagerly, "Any amount within reason, eh?" Paul looked into his face and said flatly, "Any amount, period. It doesn't have to be particularly reasonable. Our only qualification would be a guarantee it is going into the attempt to overthrow the Soviets—not into private pockets." The waiter was approaching. Shvernik drew some brochures from his pocket, spread them before Paul Koslov and began to point out with a fountain pen various features of the Mikoyan camera. The waiter put the order on the table and stood by for a moment for further orders. Shvernik said, "First you take a sizable portion of vodka, like this." He poured them two jolts. "And drink it down, ah, bottoms up, you Americans say. Then you spread butter on a small slice of raisin bread, and cover it with a liberal portion of caviar. Good? Then you eat your little sandwich and drink another glass of vodka. Then you start all over again." "I can see it could be fairly easy to get stoned, eating caviar Russian style," Paul laughed. They went through the procedure and the waiter wandered off. Paul said, "I can take several days arranging the camera deal with you. Then I can take a tour of the country, supposedly giving it a tourist look-see, but actually making contact with more of your organization. I can then return in the future, supposedly to make further orders. I can assure you, these cameras are going to sell very well in the States. I'll be coming back, time and again—for business reasons. Meanwhile, do you have any members among the interpreter-guides in the local Intourist offices?" Shvernik nodded. "Yes. And, yes, that would be a good idea. We'll assign Ana Furtseva to you, if we can arrange it. And possibly she can even have a chauffeur assigned you who'll also be one of our people." That was the first time Paul Koslov heard the name Ana Furtseva. In the morning Leonid Shvernik came to the hotel in a Mikoyan Camera Works car loaded with cameras and the various accessories that were available for the basic model. He began gushing the advantages of the Mikoyan before they were well out of the hotel. The last thing he said, as they trailed out of the hotel's portals was, "We'll drive about town, giving you an opportunity to do some snapshots and then possibly to my country dacha where we can have lunch—" At the car he said, "May I introduce Ana Furtseva, who's been assigned as your guide-interpreter by Intourist for the balance of your stay? Ana, Mr. John Smith." Paul shook hands. She was blond as almost all Russian girls are blond, and with the startling blue eyes. A touch chubby, by Western standards, but less so than the Russian average. She had a disturbing pixie touch around the mouth, out of place in a dedicated revolutionist. The car took off with Shvernik at the wheel. "You're actually going to have to take pictures as we go along. We'll have them developed later at the plant. I've told them that you are potentially a very big order. Possibly they'll try and assign one of my superiors to your account after a day or two. If so, I suggest that you merely insist that you feel I am competent and you would rather continue with me." "Of course," Paul said. "Now then, how quickly can our assistance to you get underway?" "The question is," Shvernik said, "just how much you can do in the way of helping our movement. For instance, can you get advanced type weapons to us?" The .38 Noiseless slid easily into Paul's hands. "Obviously, we can't smuggle sizable military equipment across the border. But here, for instance, is a noiseless, recoilless hand gun. We could deliver any reasonable amount within a month." "Five thousand?" Shvernik asked. "I think so. You'd have to cover once they got across the border, of course. How well organized are you? If you aren't, possibly we can help there, but not in time to get five thousand guns to you in a month." Ana was puzzled. "How could you possibly get that number across the Soviet borders?" Her voice had a disturbing Slavic throatiness. It occurred to Paul Koslov that she was one of the most attractive women he had ever met. He was amused. Women had never played a great part in his life. There had never been anyone who had really, basically, appealed. But evidently blood was telling. Here he had to come back to Russia to find such attractiveness. He said, "The Yugoslavs are comparatively open and smuggling across the Adriatic from Italy, commonplace. We'd bring the things you want in that way. Yugoslavia and Poland are on good terms, currently, with lots of trade. We'd ship them by rail from Yugoslavia to Warsaw. Trade between Poland and U.S.S.R. is on massive scale. Our agents in Warsaw would send on the guns in well concealed shipments. Freight cars aren't searched at the Polish-Russian border. However, your agents would have to pick up the deliveries in Brest or Kobryn, before they got as far as Pinsk." Ana said, her voice very low, "Visiting in Sweden at the Soviet Embassy in Stockholm is a colonel who is at the head of the Leningrad branch of the KGB department in charge of counter-revolution, as they call it. Can you eliminate him?" "Is it necessary? Are you sure that if it's done it might not raise such a stink that the KGB might concentrate more attention on you?" Paul didn't like this sort of thing. It seldom accomplished anything. Ana said, "He knows that both Georgi and I are members of the movement." Paul Koslov gaped at her. "You mean your position is known to the police?" Shvernik said, "Thus far he has kept the information to himself. He found out when Ana tried to enlist his services." Paul's eyes went from one to the other of them in disbelief. "Enlist his services? How do you know he hasn't spilled everything? What do you mean he's kept the information to himself so far?" Ana said, her voice so low as to be hardly heard, "He's my older brother. I'm his favorite sister. How much longer he will keep our secret I don't know. Under the circumstances, I can think of no answer except that he be eliminated."

It came to Paul Koslov that the team on this side could be just as dedicated as he was to his own particular cause.
He said, "A Colonel Furtseva at the Soviet Embassy in Stockholm. Very well. A Hungarian refugee will probably be best. If he's caught, the reason for the killing won't point in your direction."
"Yes," Ana said, her sensitive mouth twisting. "In fact, Anastas was in Budapest during the suppression there in 1956. He participated."

The dacha of Leonid Shvernik was in the vicinity of Petrodvorets on the Gulf of Finland, about eighteen miles from Leningrad proper. It would have been called a summer bungalow in the States. On the rustic side. Three bedrooms, a moderately large living-dining room, kitchen, bath, even a car port. Paul Koslov took a mild satisfaction in deciding that an American in Shvernik's equivalent job could have afforded more of a place than this.
Shvernik was saying, "I hope it never gets to the point where you have to go on the run. If it does, this house is a center of our activities. At any time you can find clothing here, weapons, money, food. Even a small boat on the waterfront. It would be possible, though difficult, to reach Finland."
"Right," Paul said. "Let's hope there'll never be occasion."
Inside, they sat around a small table, over the inevitable bottle of vodka and cigarettes, and later coffee.
Shvernik said, "Thus far we've rambled around hurriedly on a dozen subjects but now we must become definite."
Paul nodded.
"You come to us and say you represent the West and that you wish to help overthrow the Soviets. Fine. How do we know you do not actually represent the KGB or possibly the MVD?"
Paul said, "I'll have to prove otherwise by actions." He came to his feet and, ignoring Ana, pulled out his shirt tail, unbuttoned the top two buttons of his pants and unbuckled the money belt beneath.
He said, "We have no idea what items you'll be wanting from us in the way of equipment, but as you said earlier all revolutions need money. So here's the equivalent of a hundred thousand American dollars—in rubles, of course." He added apologetically, "The smallness of the amount is due to bulk. Your Soviet money doesn't come in sufficiently high denominations for a single person to carry really large amounts."
He tossed the money belt to the table, rearranged his clothing and returned to his chair.
Shvernik said, "A beginning, but I am still of the opinion that we should not introduce you to any other members of the organization until we have more definite proof of your background."
"That's reasonable," Paul agreed. "Now what else?"
Shvernik scowled at him. "You claim you are an American but you speak as good Russian as I do."
"I was raised in America," Paul said, "but I never became a citizen because of some minor technicality while I was a boy. After I reached adulthood and first began working for the government, it was decided that it might be better, due to my type of specialization, that I continue to remain legally not an American."
"But actually you are Russian?"
"I was born here in Leningrad," Paul said evenly.
Ana leaned forward, "Why then, actually, you're a traitor to Russia."
Paul laughed. "Look who's talking. A leader of the underground."
Ana wasn't amused. "But there is a difference in motivation. I fight to improve my country. You fight for the United States and the West."
"I can't see much difference. We're both trying to overthrow a vicious bureaucracy." He laughed again. "You hate them as much as I do."
"I don't know." She frowned, trying to find words, dropped English and spoke in Russian. "The Communists made mistakes, horrible mistakes and—especially under Stalin—were vicious beyond belief to achieve what they wanted. But they did achieve it. They built our country into the world's strongest."
"If you're so happy with them, why are you trying to eliminate the Commies? You don't make much sense."
She shook her head, as though it was he who made no sense. "They are through now, no longer needed. A hindrance to progress." She hesitated, then, "When I was a student I remember being so impressed by something written by Nehru that I memorized it. He wrote it while in a British jail in 1935. Listen." She closed her eyes and quoted:
"Economic interests shape the political views of groups and classes. Neither reason nor moral considerations override these interests. Individuals may be converted, they may surrender their special privileges, although this is rare enough, but classes and groups do not do so. The attempt to convert a governing and privileged class into forsaking power and giving up its unjust privileges has therefore always so far failed, and there seems to be no reason whatever to hold that it will succeed in the future."
Paul was frowning at her. "What's your point?"
"My point is that the Communists are in the position Nehru speaks of. They're in power and won't let go. The longer they remain in power after their usefulness is over, the more vicious they must become to maintain themselves. Since this is a police state the only way to get them out is through violence. That's why I find myself in the underground. But I am a patriotic Russian!" She turned to him. "Why do you hate the Soviets so, Mr. Smith?"
The American agent shrugged. "My grandfather was a member of the minor aristocracy. When the Bolsheviks came to power he joined Wrangel's White Army. When the Crimea fell he was in the rear guard. They shot him."
"That was your grandfather?" Shvernik said.
"Right. However, my own father was a student at the Petrograd University at that time. Left wing inclined, in fact. I think he belonged to Kerensky's Social Democrats. At any rate, in spite of his upper class background he made out all right for a time. In fact he became an instructor and our early life wasn't particularly bad." Paul cleared his throat. "Until the purges in the 1930s. It was decided that my father was a Bukharinist Right Deviationist, whatever that was. They came and got him one night in 1938 and my family never saw him again."
Paul disliked the subject. "To cut it short, when the war came along, my mother was killed in the Nazi bombardment of Leningrad. My brother went into the army and became a lieutenant. He was captured by the Germans when they took Kharkov, along with a hundred thousand or so others of the Red Army. When the Soviets, a couple of years later, pushed back into Poland he was recaptured."
Ana said, "You mean liberated from the Germans?"
"Recaptured, is the better word. The Soviets shot him. It seems that officers of the Red Army aren't allowed to surrender."
Ana said painfully, "How did you escape all this?"
"My father must have seen the handwriting on the wall. I was only five years old when he sent me to London to a cousin. A year later we moved to the States. Actually, I have practically no memories of Leningrad, very few of my family. However, I am not very fond of the Soviets."
"No," Ana said softly.
Shvernik said, "And what was your father's name?"
"Theodore Koslov."
Shvernik said, "I studied French literature under him."
Ana stiffened in her chair, and her eyes went wide. "Koslov," she said. "You must be Paul Koslov."
Paul poured himself another small vodka. "In my field it is a handicap to have a reputation. I didn't know it had extended to the man in the street on this side of the Iron Curtain."

It was by no means the last trip that Paul Koslov was to make to his underground contacts, nor the last visit to the dacha at Petrodvorets.
In fact, the dacha became the meeting center of the Russian underground with their liaison agent from the West. Through it funneled the problems involved in the logistics of the thing. Spotted through the rest of the vast stretches of the country, Paul had his local agents, American, British, French, West German. But this was the center.

And what faces! Imagine if you can a cross between a sheep and a gorilla, and you will have some conception of the physiognomy of the creature that bent close above me, and of those of the half-dozen others that clustered about. There was the facial length and great eyes of the sheep, and the bull-neck and hideous fangs of the gorilla. The bodies and limbs were both man and gorilla-like. As they bent over me they conversed in a mono-syllabic tongue that was perfectly intelligible to me. It was something of a simplified language that had no need for aught but nouns and verbs, but such words as it included were the same as those of the human beings of Pellucidar. It was amplified by many gestures which filled in the speech-gaps. I asked them what they intended doing with me; but, like our own North American Indians when questioned by a white man, they pretended not to understand me. One of them swung me to his shoulder as lightly as if I had been a shoat. He was a huge creature, as were his fellows, standing fully seven feet upon his short legs and weighing considerably more than a quarter of a ton. Two went ahead of my bearer and three behind. In this order we cut to the right through the forest to the foot of the hill where precipitous cliffs appeared to bar our farther progress in this direction. But my escort never paused. Like ants upon a wall, they scaled that seemingly unscalable barrier, clinging, Heaven knows how, to its ragged perpendicular face. During most of the short journey to the summit I must admit that my hair stood on end. Presently, however, we topped the thing and stood upon the level mesa which crowned it. Immediately from all about, out of burrows and rough, rocky lairs, poured a perfect torrent of beasts similar to my captors. They clustered about, jabbering at my guards and attempting to get their hands upon me, whether from curiosity or a desire to do me bodily harm I did not know, since my escort with bared fangs and heavy blows kept them off. Across the mesa we went, to stop at last before a large pile of rocks in which an opening appeared. Here my guards set me upon my feet and called out a word which sounded like "Gr-gr-gr!" and which I later learned was the name of their king. Presently there emerged from the cavernous depths of the lair a monstrous creature, scarred from a hundred battles, almost hairless and with an empty socket where one eye had been. The other eye, sheeplike in its mildness, gave the most startling appearance to the beast, which but for that single timid orb was the most fearsome thing that one could imagine. I had encountered the black, hairless, long-tailed ape—things of the mainland—the creatures which Perry thought might constitute the link between the higher orders of apes and man—but these brute-men of Gr-gr-gr seemed to set that theory back to zero, for there was less similarity between the black ape-men and these creatures than there was between the latter and man, while both had many human attributes, some of which were better developed in one species and some in the other. The black apes were hairless and built thatched huts in their arboreal retreats; they kept domesticated dogs and ruminants, in which respect they were farther advanced than the human beings of Pellucidar; but they appeared to have only a meager language, and sported long, apelike tails. On the other hand, Gr-gr-gr's people were, for the most part, quite hairy, but they were tailless and had a language similar to that of the human race of Pellucidar; nor were they arboreal. Their skins, where skin showed, were white. From the foregoing facts and others that I have noted during my long life within Pellucidar, which is now passing through an age analogous to some pre-glacial age of the outer crust, I am constrained to the belief that evolution is not so much a gradual transition from one form to another as it is an accident of breeding, either by crossing or the hazards of birth. In other words, it is my belief that the first man was a freak of nature—nor would one have to draw overstrongly upon his credulity to be convinced that Gr-gr-gr and his tribe were also freaks. The great man-brute seated himself upon a flat rock—his throne, I imagine—just before the entrance to his lair. With elbows on knees and chin in palms he regarded me intently through his lone sheep-eye while one of my captors told of my taking. When all had been related Gr-gr-gr questioned me. I shall not attempt to quote these people in their own abbreviated tongue—you would have even greater difficulty in interpreting them than did I. Instead, I shall put the words into their mouths which will carry to you the ideas which they intended to convey. "You are an enemy," was Gr-gr-gr's initial declaration. "You belong to the tribe of Hooja." Ah! So they knew Hooja and he was their enemy! Good! "I am an enemy of Hooja," I replied. "He has stolen my mate and I have come here to take her away from him and punish Hooja." "How could you do that alone?" "I do not know," I answered, "but I should have tried had you not captured me. What do you intend to do with me?" "You shall work for us." "You will not kill me?" I asked. "We do not kill except in self-defense," he replied; "self-defense and punishment. Those who would kill us and those who do wrong we kill. If we knew you were one of Hooja's people we might kill you, for all Hooja's people are bad people; but you say you are an enemy of Hooja. You may not speak the truth, but until we learn that you have lied we shall not kill you. You shall work." "If you hate Hooja," I suggested, "why not let me, who hate him, too, go and punish him?" For some time Gr-gr-gr sat in thought. Then he raised his head and addressed my guard. "Take him to his work," he ordered. His tone was final. As if to emphasize it he turned and entered his burrow. My guard conducted me farther into the mesa, where we came presently to a tiny depression or valley, at one end of which gushed a warm spring. The view that opened before me was the most surprising that I have ever seen. In the hollow, which must have covered several hundred acres, were numerous fields of growing things, and working all about with crude implements or with no implements at all other than their bare hands were many of the brute-men engaged in the first agriculture that I had seen within Pellucidar. They put me to work cultivating in a patch of melons. I never was a farmer nor particularly keen for this sort of work, and I am free to confess that time never had dragged so heavily as it did during the hour or the year I spent there at that work. How long it really was I do not know, of course; but it was all too long. The creatures that worked about me were quite simple and friendly. One of them proved to be a son of Gr-gr-gr. He had broken some minor tribal law, and was working out his sentence in the fields. He told me that his tribe had lived upon this hilltop always, and that there were other tribes like them dwelling upon other hilltops. They had no wars and had always lived in peace and harmony, menaced only by the larger carnivora of the island, until my kind had come under a creature called Hooja, and attacked and killed them when they chanced to descend from their natural fortresses to visit their fellows upon other lofty mesas. Now they were afraid; but some day they would go in a body and fall upon Hooja and his people and slay them all. I explained to him that I was Hooja's enemy, and asked, when they were ready to go, that I be allowed to go with them, or, better still, that they let me go ahead and learn all that I could about the village where Hooja dwelt so that they might attack it with the best chance of success. Gr-gr-gr's son seemed much impressed by my suggestion. He said that when he was through in the fields he would speak to his father about the matter. Some time after this Gr-gr-gr came through the fields where we were, and his son spoke to him upon the subject, but the old gentleman was evidently in anything but a good humor, for he cuffed the youngster and, turning upon me, informed me that he was convinced that I had lied to him, and that I was one of Hooja's people. "Wherefore," he concluded, "we shall slay you as soon as the melons are cultivated. Hasten, therefore." And hasten I did. I hastened to cultivate the weeds which grew among the melon-vines. Where there had been one sickly weed before, I nourished two healthy ones. When I found a particularly promising variety of weed growing elsewhere than among my melons, I forthwith dug it up and transplanted it among my charges. My masters did not seem to realize my perfidy. They saw me always laboring diligently in the melon-patch, and as time enters not into the reckoning of Pellucidarians—even of human beings and much less of brutes and half brutes—I might have lived on indefinitely through this subterfuge had not that occurred which took me out of the melon-patch for good and all. CHAPTER IX HOOJA'S CUTTHROATS APPEAR I had built a little shelter of rocks and brush where I might crawl in and sleep out of the perpetual light and heat of the noonday sun. When I was tired or hungry I retired to my humble cot. My masters never interposed the slightest objection. As a matter of fact, they were very good to me, nor did I see aught while I was among them to indicate that they are ever else than a simple, kindly folk when left to themselves. Their awe-inspiring size, terrific strength, mighty fighting-fangs, and hideous appearance are but the attributes necessary to the successful waging of their constant battle for survival, and well do they employ them when the need arises. The only flesh they eat is that of herbivorous animals and birds. When they hunt the mighty thag, the prehistoric bos of the outer crust, a single male, with his fiber rope, will catch and kill the greatest of the bulls. Well, as I was about to say, I had this little shelter at the edge of my melon-patch. Here I was resting from my labors on a certain occasion when I heard a great hub-bub in the village, which lay about a quarter of a mile away. Presently a male came racing toward the field, shouting excitedly. As he approached I came from my shelter to learn what all the commotion might be about, for the monotony of my existence in the melon-patch must have fostered that trait of my curiosity from which it had always been my secret boast I am peculiarly free. The other workers also ran forward to meet the messenger, who quickly unburdened himself of his information, and as quickly turned and scampered back toward the village. When running these beast-men often go upon all fours. Thus they leap over obstacles that would slow up a human being, and upon the level attain a speed that would make a thoroughbred look to his laurels. The result in this instance was that before I had more than assimilated the gist of the word which had been brought to the fields, I was alone, watching my co-workers speeding villageward. I was alone! It was the first time since my capture that no beast-man had been within sight of me. I was alone! And all my captors were in the village at the op-posite edge of the mesa repelling an attack of Hooja's horde! It seemed from the messenger's tale that two of Gr-gr-gr's great males had been set upon by a half-dozen of Hooja's cutthroats while the former were peaceably returning from the thag hunt. The two had returned to the village unscratched, while but a single one of Hooja's half-dozen had escaped to report the outcome of the battle to their leader. Now Hooja was coming to punish Gr-gr-gr's people. With his large force, armed with the bows and arrows that Hooja had learned from me to make, with long lances and sharp knives, I feared that even the mighty strength of the beastmen could avail them but little. At last had come the opportunity for which I waited! I was free to make for the far end of the mesa, find my way to the valley below, and while the two forces were engaged in their struggle, continue my search for Hooja's village, which I had learned from the beast-men lay farther on down the river that I had been following when taken prisoner. As I turned to make for the mesa's rim the sounds of battle came plainly to my ears—the hoarse shouts of men mingled with the half-beastly roars and growls of the brute-folk. Did I take advantage of my opportunity? I did not. Instead, lured by the din of strife and by the desire to deliver a stroke, however feeble, against hated Hooja, I wheeled and ran directly toward the village. When I reached the edge of the plateau such a scene met my astonished gaze as never before had startled it, for the unique battle-methods of the half-brutes were rather the most remarkable I had ever witnessed. Along the very edge of the cliff-top stood a thin line of mighty males—the best rope-throwers of the tribe. A few feet behind these the rest of the males, with the exception of about twenty, formed a second line. Still farther in the rear all the women and young children were clustered into a single group under the protection of the remaining twenty fighting males and all the old males. But it was the work of the first two lines that interested me. The forces of Hooja—a great horde of savage Sagoths and primeval cave men—were working their way up the steep cliff-face, their agility but slightly less than that of my captors who had clambered so nimbly aloft—even he who was burdened by my weight. As the attackers came on they paused occasionally wherever a projection gave them sufficient foothold and launched arrows and spears at the defenders above them. During the entire battle both sides hurled taunts and insults at one another—the human beings naturally excelling the brutes in the coarseness and vileness of their vilification and invective. The "firing-line" of the brute-men wielded no weapon other than their long fiber nooses. When a foeman came within range of them a noose would settle unerringly about him and he would be dragged, fighting and yelling, to the cliff-top, unless, as occasionally occurred, he was quick enough to draw his knife and cut the rope above him, in which event he usually plunged down-ward to a no less certain death than that which awaited him above. Those who were hauled up within reach of the powerful clutches of the defenders had the nooses snatched from them and were catapulted back through the first line to the second, where they were seized and killed by the simple expedient of a single powerful closing of mighty fangs upon the backs of their necks. But the arrows of the invaders were taking a much heavier toll than the nooses of the defenders and I foresaw that it was but a matter of time before Hooja's forces must conquer unless the brute-men changed their tactics, or the cave men tired of the battle. Gr-gr-gr was standing in the center of the first line. All about him were boulders and large fragments of broken rock. I approached him and without a word toppled a large mass of rock over the edge of the cliff. It fell directly upon the head of an archer, crushing him to instant death and carrying his mangled corpse with it to the bottom of the declivity, and on its way brushing three more of the attackers into the hereafter. Gr-gr-gr turned toward me in surprise. For an instant he appeared to doubt the sincerity of my motives. I felt that perhaps my time had come when he reached for me with one of his giant paws; but I dodged him, and running a few paces to the right hurled down another missile. It, too, did its allotted work of destruction. Then I picked up smaller fragments and with all the control and accuracy for which I had earned justly deserved fame in my collegiate days I rained down a hail of death upon those beneath me. Gr-gr-gr was coming toward me again. I pointed to the litter of rubble upon the cliff-top. "Hurl these down upon the enemy!" I cried to him. "Tell your warriors to throw rocks down upon them!" At my words the others of the first line, who had been interested spectators of my tactics, seized upon great boulders or bits of rock, whichever came first to their hands, and, without waiting for a command from Gr-gr-gr, deluged the terrified cave men with a perfect avalanche of stone. In less than no time the cliff-face was stripped of enemies and the village of Gr-gr-gr was saved. Gr-gr-gr was standing beside me when the last of the cave men disappeared in rapid flight down the valley. He was looking at me intently. "Those were your people," he said. "Why did you kill them?" "They were not my people," I returned. "I have told you that before, but you would not believe me. Will you believe me now when I tell you that I hate Hooja and his tribe as much as you do? Will you believe me when I tell you that I wish to be the friend of Gr-gr-gr?" For some time he stood there beside me, scratching his head. Evidently it was no less difficult for him to readjust his preconceived conclusions than it is for most human beings; but finally the idea percolated—which it might never have done had he been a man, or I might qualify that statement by saying had he been some men. Finally he spoke. "Gilak," he said, "you have made Gr-gr-gr ashamed. He would have killed you. How can he reward you?" "Set me free," I replied quickly. "You are free," he said. "You may go down when you wish, or you may stay with us. If you go you may always return. We are your friends." Naturally, I elected to go. I explained all over again to Gr-gr-gr the nature of my mission. He listened attentively; after I had done he offered to send some of his people with me to guide me to Hooja's village. I was not slow in accepting his offer. First, however, we must eat. The hunters upon whom Hooja's men had fallen had brought back the meat of a great thag. There would be a feast to commemorate the victory—a feast and dancing. I had never witnessed a tribal function of the brute-folk, though I had often heard strange sounds coming from the village, where I had not been allowed since my capture. Now I took part in one of their orgies. It will live forever in my memory. The combination of bestiality and humanity was oftentimes pathetic, and again grotesque or horrible. Beneath the glaring noonday sun, in the sweltering heat of the mesa-top, the huge, hairy creatures leaped in a great circle. They coiled and threw their fiber-ropes; they hurled taunts and insults at an imaginary foe; they fell upon the carcass of the thag and literally tore it to pieces; and they ceased only when, gorged, they could no longer move. I had to wait until the processes of digestion had released my escort from its torpor. Some had eaten until their abdomens were so distended that I thought they must burst, for beside the thag there had been fully a hundred antelopes of various sizes and varied degrees of decomposition, which they had unearthed from burial beneath the floors of their lairs to grace the banquet-board. But at last we were started—six great males and myself. Gr-gr-gr had returned my weapons to me, and at last I was once more upon my oft-interrupted way toward my goal. Whether I should find Dian at the end of my journey or no I could not even surmise; but I was none the less impatient to be off, for if only the worst lay in store for me I wished to know even the worst at once. I could scarce believe that my proud mate would still be alive in the power of Hooja; but time upon Pellucidar is so strange a thing that I realized that to her or to him only a few minutes might have elapsed since his subtle trickery had enabled him to steal her away from Phutra. Or she might have found the means either to repel his advances or escape him. As we descended the cliff we disturbed a great pack of large hyena-like beasts—hyaena spelaeus, Perry calls them—who were busy among the corpses of the cave men fallen in battle. The ugly creatures were far from the cowardly things that our own hyenas are reputed to be; they stood their ground with bared fangs as we approached them. But, as I was later to learn, so formidable are the brute-folk that there are few even of the larger carnivora that will not make way for them when they go abroad. So the hyenas moved a little from our line of march, closing in again upon their feasts when we had passed. We made our way steadily down the rim of the beautiful river which flows the length of the island, coming at last to a wood rather denser than any that I had before encountered in this country. Well within this forest my escort halted. "There!" they said, and pointed ahead. "We are to go no farther." Thus having guided me to my destination they left me. Ahead of me, through the trees, I could see what appeared to be the foot of a steep hill. Toward this I made my way. The forest ran to the very base of a cliff, in the face of which were the mouths of many caves. They appeared untenanted; but I decided to watch for a while before venturing farther. A large tree, densely foliaged, offered a splendid vantage-point from which to spy upon the cliff, so I clambered among its branches where, securely hidden, I could watch what transpired about the caves. It seemed that I had scarcely settled myself in a comfortable position before a party of cave men emerged from one of the smaller apertures in the cliff-face, about fifty feet from the base. They descended into the forest and disappeared. Soon after came several others from the same cave, and after them, at a short interval, a score of women and children, who came into the wood to gather fruit. There were several warriors with them—a guard, I presume. After this came other parties, and two or three groups who passed out of the forest and up the cliff-face to enter the same cave. I could not understand it. All who came out had emerged from the same cave. All who returned reentered it. No other cave gave evidence of habitation, and no cave but one of extraordinary size could have accommodated all the people whom I had seen pass in and out of its mouth. For a long time I sat and watched the coming and going of great numbers of the cave-folk. Not once did one leave the cliff by any other opening save that from which I had seen the first party come, nor did any reenter the cliff through another aperture. What a cave it must be, I thought, that houses an entire tribe! But dissatisfied of the truth of my surmise, I climbed higher among the branches of the tree that I might get a better view of other portions of the cliff. High above the ground I reached a point whence I could see the summit of the hill. Evidently it was a flat-topped butte similar to that on which dwelt the tribe of Gr-gr-gr. As I sat gazing at it a figure appeared at the very edge. It was that of a young girl in whose hair was a gorgeous bloom plucked from some flowering tree of the forest. I had seen her pass beneath me but a short while before and enter the small cave that had swallowed all of the returning tribesmen. The mystery was solved. The cave was but the mouth of a passage that led upward through the cliff to the summit of the hill. It served merely as an avenue from their lofty citadel to the valley below. No sooner had the truth flashed upon me than the realization came that I must seek some other means of reaching the village, for to pass unobserved through this well-traveled thoroughfare would be impossible. At the moment there was no one in sight below me, so I slid quickly from my arboreal watch-tower to the ground and moved rapidly away to the right with the intention of circling the hill if necessary until I had found an unwatched spot where I might have some slight chance of scaling the heights and reaching the top unseen. I kept close to the edge of the forest, in the very midst of which the hill seemed to rise. Though I carefully scanned the cliff as I traversed its base, I saw no sign of any other entrance than that to which my guides had led me. After some little time the roar of the sea broke upon my ears. Shortly after I came upon the broad ocean which breaks at this point at the very foot of the great hill where Hooja had found safe refuge for himself and his villains. I was just about to clamber along the jagged rocks which lie at the base of the cliff next to the sea, in search of some foothold to the top, when I chanced to see a canoe rounding the end of the island. I threw myself down behind a large boulder where I could watch the dugout and its occupants without myself being seen. They paddled toward me for a while and then, about a hundred yards from me, they turned straight in toward the foot of the frowning cliffs. From where I was it seemed that they were bent upon self-destruction, since the roar of the breakers beating upon the perpendicular rock-face appeared to offer only death to any one who might venture within their relentless clutch. A mass of rock would soon hide them from my view; but so keen was the excitement of the instant that I could not refrain from crawling forward to a point whence I could watch the dashing of the small craft to pieces on the jagged rocks that loomed before her, although I risked discovery from above to accomplish my design. When I had reached a point where I could again see the dugout, I was just in time to see it glide unharmed between two needle-pointed sentinels of granite and float quietly upon the unruffled bosom of a tiny cove. Again I crouched behind a boulder to observe what would next transpire; nor did I have long to wait. The dugout, which contained but two men, was drawn close to the rocky wall. A fiber rope, one end of which was tied to the boat, was made fast about a projection of the cliff face. Then the two men commenced the ascent of the almost perpendicular wall toward the summit several hundred feet above. I looked on in amazement, for, splendid climbers though the cave men of Pellucidar are, I never before had seen so remarkable a feat performed. Upwardly they moved without a pause, to disappear at last over the summit. When I felt reasonably sure that they had gone for a while at least I crawled from my hiding-place and at the risk of a broken neck leaped and scrambled to the spot where their canoe was moored. If they had scaled that cliff I could, and if I couldn't I should die in the attempt. But when I turned to the accomplishment of the task I found it easier than I had imagined it would be, since I immediately discovered that shallow hand and foot-holds had been scooped in the cliff's rocky face, forming a crude ladder from the base to the summit. At last I reached the top, and very glad I was, too. Cautiously I raised my head until my eyes were above the cliff-crest. Before me spread a rough mesa, liberally sprinkled with large boulders. There was no village in sight nor any living creature. I drew myself to level ground and stood erect. A few trees grew among the boulders. Very carefully I advanced from tree to tree and boulder to boulder toward the inland end of the mesa. I stopped often to listen and look cautiously about me in every direction. How I wished that I had my revolvers and rifle! LOST ON PELLUCIDAR The Arabs, of whom I wrote you at the end of my last letter (Innes began), and whom I thought to be enemies intent only upon murdering me, proved to be exceedingly friendly—they were searching for the very band of marauders that had threatened my existence. The huge rhamphorhynchus-like reptile that I had brought back with me from the inner world—the ugly Mahar that Hooja the Sly One had substituted for my dear Dian at the moment of my departure—filled them with wonder and with awe. Nor less so did the mighty subterranean prospector which had carried me to Pellucidar and back again, and which lay out in the desert about two miles from my camp. With their help I managed to get the unwieldy tons of its great bulk into a vertical position—the nose deep in a hole we had dug in the sand and the rest of it supported by the trunks of date-palms cut for the purpose. It was a mighty engineering job with only wild Arabs and their wilder mounts to do the work of an electric crane—but finally it was completed, and I was ready for departure. For some time I hesitated to take the Mahar back with me. She had been docile and quiet ever since she had discovered herself virtually a prisoner aboard the "iron mole." It had been, of course, impossible for me to communicate with her since she had no auditory organs and I no knowledge of her fourth-dimension, sixth-sense method of communication. Naturally I am kind-hearted, and so I found it beyond me to leave even this hateful and repulsive thing alone in a strange and hostile world. The result was that when I entered the iron mole I took her with me. That she knew that we were about to return to Pellucidar was evident, for immediately her manner changed from that of habitual gloom that had pervaded her, to an almost human expression of contentment and delight. Our trip through the earth's crust was but a repetition of my two former journeys between the inner and the outer worlds. This time, however, I imagine that we must have maintained a more nearly perpendicular course, for we accomplished the journey in a few minutes' less time than upon the occasion of my first journey through the five-hundred-mile crust. Just a trifle less than seventy-two hours after our departure into the sands of the Sahara, we broke through the surface of Pellucidar. Fortune once again favored me by the slightest of margins, for when I opened the door in the prospector's outer jacket I saw that we had missed coming up through the bottom of an ocean by but a few hundred yards. The aspect of the surrounding country was entirely unfamiliar to me—I had no conception of precisely where I was upon the one hundred and twenty-four million square miles of Pellucidar's vast land surface. The perpetual midday sun poured down its torrid rays from zenith, as it had done since the beginning of Pellucidarian time—as it would continue to do to the end of it. Before me, across the wide sea, the weird, horizonless seascape folded gently upward to meet the sky until it lost itself to view in the azure depths of distance far above the level of my eyes. How strange it looked! How vastly different from the flat and puny area of the circumscribed vision of the dweller upon the outer crust! I was lost. Though I wandered ceaselessly throughout a lifetime, I might never discover the whereabouts of my former friends of this strange and savage world. Never again might I see dear old Perry, nor Ghak the Hairy One, nor Dacor the Strong One, nor that other infinitely precious one—my sweet and noble mate, Dian the Beautiful! But even so I was glad to tread once more the surface of Pellucidar. Mysterious and terrible, grotesque and savage though she is in many of her aspects, I can not but love her. Her very savagery appealed to me, for it is the savagery of unspoiled Nature. The magnificence of her tropic beauties enthralled me. Her mighty land areas breathed unfettered freedom. Her untracked oceans, whispering of virgin wonders unsullied by the eye of man, beckoned me out upon their restless bosoms. Not for an instant did I regret the world of my nativity. I was in Pellucidar. I was home. And I was content. As I stood dreaming beside the giant thing that had brought me safely through the earth's crust, my traveling companion, the hideous Mahar, emerged from the interior of the prospector and stood beside me. For a long time she remained motionless. What thoughts were passing through the convolutions of her reptilian brain? I do not know. She was a member of the dominant race of Pellucidar. By a strange freak of evolution her kind had first developed the power of reason in that world of anomalies. To her, creatures such as I were of a lower order. As Perry had discovered among the writings of her kind in the buried city of Phutra, it was still an open question among the Mahars as to whether man possessed means of intelligent communication or the power of reason. Her kind believed that in the center of all-pervading solidity there was a single, vast, spherical cavity, which was Pellucidar. This cavity had been left there for the sole purpose of providing a place for the creation and propagation of the Mahar race. Everything within it had been put there for the uses of the Mahar. I wondered what this particular Mahar might think now. I found pleasure in speculating upon just what the effect had been upon her of passing through the earth's crust, and coming out into a world that one of even less intelligence than the great Mahars could easily see was a different world from her own Pellucidar. What had she thought of the outer world's tiny sun? What had been the effect upon her of the moon and myriad stars of the clear African nights? How had she explained them? With what sensations of awe must she first have watched the sun moving slowly across the heavens to disappear at last beneath the western horizon, leaving in his wake that which the Mahar had never before witnessed—the darkness of night? For upon Pellucidar there is no night. The stationary sun hangs forever in the center of the Pellucidarian sky—directly overhead. Then, too, she must have been impressed by the wondrous mechanism of the prospector which had bored its way from world to world and back again. And that it had been driven by a rational being must also have occurred to her. Too, she had seen me conversing with other men upon the earth's surface. She had seen the arrival of the caravan of books and arms, and ammunition, and the balance of the heterogeneous collection which I had crammed into the cabin of the iron mole for transportation to Pellucidar. She had seen all these evidences of a civilization and brain-power transcending in scientific achievement anything that her race had produced; nor once had she seen a creature of her own kind. There could have been but a single deduction in the mind of the Mahar—there were other worlds than Pellucidar, and the gilak was a rational being. Now the creature at my side was creeping slowly toward the near-by sea. At my hip hung a long-barreled six-shooter—somehow I had been unable to find the same sensation of security in the newfangled automatics that had been perfected since my first departure from the outer world—and in my hand was a heavy express rifle. I could have shot the Mahar with ease, for I knew intuitively that she was escaping—but I did not. I felt that if she could return to her own kind with the story of her adventures, the position of the human race within Pellucidar would be advanced immensely at a single stride, for at once man would take his proper place in the considerations of the reptilia. At the edge of the sea the creature paused and looked back at me. Then she slid sinuously into the surf. For several minutes I saw no more of her as she luxuriated in the cool depths. Then a hundred yards from shore she rose and there for another short while she floated upon the surface. Finally she spread her giant wings, flapped them vigorously a score of times and rose above the blue sea. A single time she circled far aloft—and then straight as an arrow she sped away. I watched her until the distant haze enveloped her and she had disappeared. I was alone. My first concern was to discover where within Pellucidar I might be—and in what direction lay the land of the Sarians where Ghak the Hairy One ruled. But how was I to guess in which direction lay Sari? And if I set out to search—what then? Could I find my way back to the prospector with its priceless freight of books, firearms, ammunition, scientific instruments, and still more books—its great library of reference works upon every conceivable branch of applied sciences? And if I could not, of what value was all this vast storehouse of potential civilization and progress to be to the world of my adoption? Upon the other hand, if I remained here alone with it, what could I accomplish single-handed? Nothing. But where there was no east, no west, no north, no south, no stars, no moon, and only a stationary midday sun, how was I to find my way back to this spot should ever I get out of sight of it? I didn't know. For a long time I stood buried in deep thought, when it occurred to me to try out one of the compasses I had brought and ascertain if it remained steadily fixed upon an unvarying pole. I reentered the prospector and fetched a compass without. Moving a considerable distance from the prospector that the needle might not be influenced by its great bulk of iron and steel I turned the delicate instrument about in every direction. Always and steadily the needle remained rigidly fixed upon a point straight out to sea, apparently pointing toward a large island some ten or twenty miles distant. This then should be north. I drew my note-book from my pocket and made a careful topographical sketch of the locality within the range of my vision. Due north lay the island, far out upon the shimmering sea. The spot I had chosen for my observations was the top of a large, flat boulder which rose six or eight feet above the turf. This spot I called Greenwich. The boulder was the "Royal Observatory." I had made a start! I cannot tell you what a sense of relief was imparted to me by the simple fact that there was at least one spot within Pellucidar with a familiar name and a place upon a map. It was with almost childish joy that I made a little circle in my note-book and traced the word Greenwich beside it. Now I felt I might start out upon my search with some assurance of finding my way back again to the prospector. I decided that at first I would travel directly south in the hope that I might in that direction find some familiar landmark. It was as good a direction as any. This much at least might be said of it. Among the many other things I had brought from the outer world were a number of pedometers. I slipped three of these into my pockets with the idea that I might arrive at a more or less accurate mean from the registrations of them all. On my map I would register so many paces south, so many east, so many west, and so on. When I was ready to return I would then do so by any route that I might choose. I also strapped a considerable quantity of ammunition across my shoulders, pocketed some matches, and hooked an aluminum fry-pan and a small stew-kettle of the same metal to my belt. I was ready—ready to go forth and explore a world! Ready to search a land area of 124,110,000 square miles for my friends, my incomparable mate, and good old Perry! And so, after locking the door in the outer shell of the prospector, I set out upon my quest. Due south I traveled, across lovely valleys thick-dotted with grazing herds. Through dense primeval forests I forced my way and up the slopes of mighty mountains searching for a pass to their farther sides. Ibex and musk-sheep fell before my good old revolver, so that I lacked not for food in the higher altitudes. The forests and the plains gave plentifully of fruits and wild birds, antelope, aurochsen, and elk. Occasionally, for the larger game animals and the gigantic beasts of prey, I used my express rifle, but for the most part the revolver filled all my needs. There were times, too, when faced by a mighty cave bear, a saber-toothed tiger, or huge felis spelaea, black-maned and terrible, even my powerful rifle seemed pitifully inadequate—but fortune favored me so that I passed unscathed through adventures that even the recollection of causes the short hairs to bristle at the nape of my neck. How long I wandered toward the south I do not know, for shortly after I left the prospector something went wrong with my watch, and I was again at the mercy of the baffling timelessness of Pellucidar, forging steadily ahead beneath the great, motionless sun which hangs eternally at noon. I ate many times, however, so that days must have elapsed, possibly months with no familiar landscape rewarding my eager eyes. I saw no men nor signs of men. Nor is this strange, for Pellucidar, in its land area, is immense, while the human race there is very young and consequently far from numerous. Doubtless upon that long search mine was the first human foot to touch the soil in many places—mine the first human eye to rest upon the gorgeous wonders of the landscape. It was a staggering thought. I could not but dwell upon it often as I made my lonely way through this virgin world. Then, quite suddenly, one day I stepped out of the peace of manless primality into the presence of man—and peace was gone. It happened thus: I had been following a ravine downward out of a chain of lofty hills and had paused at its mouth to view the lovely little valley that lay before me. At one side was tangled wood, while straight ahead a river wound peacefully along parallel to the cliffs in which the hills terminated at the valley's edge. Presently, as I stood enjoying the lovely scene, as insatiate for Nature's wonders as if I had not looked upon similar landscapes countless times, a sound of shouting broke from the direction of the woods. That the harsh, discordant notes rose from the throats of men I could not doubt. I slipped behind a large boulder near the mouth of the ravine and waited. I could hear the crashing of underbrush in the forest, and I guessed that whoever came came quickly—pursued and pursuers, doubtless. In a short time some hunted animal would break into view, and a moment later a score of half-naked savages would come leaping after with spears or club or great stone-knives. I had seen the thing so many times during my life within Pellucidar that I felt that I could anticipate to a nicety precisely what I was about to witness. I hoped that the hunters would prove friendly and be able to direct me toward Sari. Even as I was thinking these thoughts the quarry emerged from the forest. But it was no terrified four-footed beast. Instead, what I saw was an old man—a terrified old man! Staggering feebly and hopelessly from what must have been some very terrible fate, if one could judge from the horrified expressions he continually cast behind him toward the wood, he came stumbling on in my direction. He had covered but a short distance from the forest when I beheld the first of his pursuers—a Sagoth, one of those grim and terrible gorilla-men who guard the mighty Mahars in their buried cities, faring forth from time to time upon slave-raiding or punitive expeditions against the human race of Pellucidar, of whom the dominant race of the inner world think as we think of the bison or the wild sheep of our own world. Close behind the foremost Sagoth came others until a full dozen raced, shouting after the terror-stricken old man. They would be upon him shortly, that was plain. One of them was rapidly overhauling him, his back-thrown spear-arm testifying to his purpose. And then, quite with the suddenness of an unexpected blow, I realized a past familiarity with the gait and carriage of the fugitive. Simultaneously there swept over me the staggering fact that the old man was—PERRY! That he was about to die before my very eyes with no hope that I could reach him in time to avert the awful catastrophe—for to me it meant a real catastrophe! Perry was my best friend. Dian, of course, I looked upon as more than friend. She was my mate—a part of me. I had entirely forgotten the rifle in my hand and the revolvers at my belt; one does not readily synchronize his thoughts with the stone age and the twentieth century simultaneously. Now from past habit I still thought in the stone age, and in my thoughts of the stone age there were no thoughts of firearms. The fellow was almost upon Perry when the feel of the gun in my hand awoke me from the lethargy of terror that had gripped me. From behind my boulder I threw up the heavy express rifle—a mighty engine of destruction that might bring down a cave bear or a mammoth at a single shot—and let drive at the Sagoth's broad, hairy breast. At the sound of the shot he stopped stock-still. His spear dropped from his hand. Then he lunged forward upon his face. The effect upon the others was little less remarkable. Perry alone could have possibly guessed the meaning of the loud report or explained its connection with the sudden collapse of the Sagoth. The other gorilla-men halted for but an instant. Then with renewed shrieks of rage they sprang forward to finish Perry. At the same time I stepped from behind my boulder, drawing one of my revolvers that I might conserve the more precious ammunition of the express rifle. Quickly I fired again with the lesser weapon. Then it was that all eyes were directed toward me. Another Sagoth fell to the bullet from the revolver; but it did not stop his companions. They were out for revenge as well as blood now, and they meant to have both. As I ran forward toward Perry I fired four more shots, dropping three of our antagonists. Then at last the remaining seven wavered. It was too much for them, this roaring death that leaped, invisible, upon them from a great distance. As they hesitated I reached Perry's side. I have never seen such an expression upon any man's face as that upon Perry's when he recognized me. I have no words wherewith to describe it. There was not time to talk then—scarce for a greeting. I thrust the full, loaded revolver into his hand, fired the last shot in my own, and reloaded. There were but six Sagoths left then. They started toward us once more, though I could see that they were terrified probably as much by the noise of the guns as by their effects. They never reached us. Half-way the three that remained turned and fled, and we let them go. The last we saw of them they were disappearing into the tangled undergrowth of the forest. And then Perry turned and threw his arms about my neck and, burying his old face upon my shoulder, wept like a child. CHAPTER II TRAVELING WITH TERROR We made camp there beside the peaceful river. There Perry told me all that had befallen him since I had departed for the outer crust. It seemed that Hooja had made it appear that I had intentionally left Dian behind, and that I did not purpose ever returning to Pellucidar. He told them that I was of another world and that I had tired of this and of its inhabitants. To Dian he had explained that I had a mate in the world to which I was returning; that I had never intended taking Dian the Beautiful back with me; and that she had seen the last of me. Shortly afterward Dian had disappeared from the camp, nor had Perry seen or heard aught of her since. He had no conception of the time that had elapsed since I had departed, but guessed that many years had dragged their slow way into the past. Hooja, too, had disappeared very soon after Dian had left. The Sarians, under Ghak the Hairy One, and the Amozites under Dacor the Strong One, Dian's brother, had fallen out over my supposed defection, for Ghak would not believe that I had thus treacherously deceived and deserted them. The result had been that these two powerful tribes had fallen upon one another with the new weapons that Perry and I had taught them to make and to use. Other tribes of the new federation took sides with the original disputants or set up petty revolutions of their own. The result was the total demolition of the work we had so well started. Taking advantage of the tribal war, the Mahars had gathered their Sagoths in force and fallen upon one tribe after another in rapid succession, wreaking awful havoc among them and reducing them for the most part to as pitiable a state of terror as that from which we had raised them. Alone of all the once-mighty federation the Sarians and the Amozites with a few other tribes continued to maintain their defiance of the Mahars; but these tribes were still divided among themselves, nor had it seemed at all probable to Perry when he had last been among them that any attempt at re-amalgamation would be made. "And thus, your majesty," he concluded, "has faded back into the oblivion of the Stone Age our wondrous dream and with it has gone the First Empire of Pellucidar." We both had to smile at the use of my royal title, yet I was indeed still "Emperor of Pellucidar," and some day I meant to rebuild what the vile act of the treacherous Hooja had torn down. But first I would find my empress. To me she was worth forty empires. "Have you no clue as to the whereabouts of Dian?" I asked. "None whatever," replied Perry. "It was in search of her that I came to the pretty pass in which you discovered me, and from which, David, you saved me. "I knew perfectly well that you had not intentionally deserted either Dian or Pellucidar. I guessed that in some way Hooja the Sly One was at the bottom of the matter, and I determined to go to Amoz, where I guessed that Dian might come to the protection of her brother, and do my utmost to convince her, and through her Dacor the Strong One, that we had all been victims of a treacherous plot to which you were no party. "I came to Amoz after a most trying and terrible journey, only to find that Dian was not among her brother's people and that they knew naught of her whereabouts. "Dacor, I am sure, wanted to be fair and just, but so great were his grief and anger over the disappearance of his sister that he could not listen to reason, but kept repeating time and again that only your return to Pellucidar could prove the honesty of your intentions. "Then came a stranger from another tribe, sent I am sure at the instigation of Hooja. He so turned the Amozites against me that I was forced to flee their country to escape assassination. "In attempting to return to Sari I became lost, and then the Sagoths discovered me. For a long time I eluded them, hiding in caves and wading in rivers to throw them off my trail. "I lived on nuts and fruits and the edible roots that chance threw in my way. "I traveled on and on, in what directions I could not even guess; and at last I could elude them no longer and the end came as I had long foreseen that it would come, except that I had not foreseen that you would be there to save me." We rested in our camp until Perry had regained sufficient strength to travel again. We planned much, rebuilding all our shattered air-castles; but above all we planned most to find Dian. I could not believe that she was dead, yet where she might be in this savage world, and under what frightful conditions she might be living, I could not guess. When Perry was rested we returned to the prospector, where he fitted himself out fully like a civilized human being—under-clothing, socks, shoes, khaki jacket and breeches and good, substantial puttees. When I had come upon him he was clothed in rough sadak sandals, a gee-string and a tunic fashioned from the shaggy hide of a thag. Now he wore real clothing again for the first time since the ape-folk had stripped us of our apparel that long-gone day that had witnessed our advent within Pellucidar. With a bandoleer of cartridges across his shoulder, two six-shooters at his hips, and a rifle in his hand he was a much rejuvenated Perry. Indeed he was quite a different person altogether from the rather shaky old man who had entered the prospector with me ten or eleven years before, for the trial trip that had plunged us into such wondrous adventures and into such a strange and hitherto undreamed-of-world. Now he was straight and active. His muscles, almost atrophied from disuse in his former life, had filled out. He was still an old man of course, but instead of appearing ten years older than he really was, as he had when we left the outer world, he now appeared about ten years younger. The wild, free life of Pellucidar had worked wonders for him. Well, it must need have done so or killed him, for a man of Perry's former physical condition could not long have survived the dangers and rigors of the primitive life of the inner world. Perry had been greatly interested in my map and in the "royal observatory" at Greenwich. By use of the pedometers we had retraced our way to the prospector with ease and accuracy. Now that we were ready to set out again we decided to follow a different route on the chance that it might lead us into more familiar territory. I shall not weary you with a repetition of the countless adventures of our long search. Encounters with wild beasts of gigantic size were of almost daily occurrence; but with our deadly express rifles we ran comparatively little risk when one recalls that previously we had both traversed this world of frightful dangers inadequately armed with crude, primitive weapons and all but naked. We ate and slept many times—so many that we lost count—and so I do not know how long we roamed, though our map shows the distances and directions quite accurately. We must have covered a great many thousand square miles of territory, and yet we had seen nothing in the way of a familiar landmark, when from the heights of a mountain-range we were crossing I descried far in the distance great masses of billowing clouds. Now clouds are practically unknown in the skies of Pellucidar. The moment that my eyes rested upon them my heart leaped. I seized Perry's arm and, pointing toward the horizonless distance, shouted: "The Mountains of the Clouds!" "They lie close to Phutra, and the country of our worst enemies, the Mahars," Perry remonstrated. "I know it," I replied, "but they give us a starting-point from which to prosecute our search intelligently. They are at least a familiar landmark. "They tell us that we are upon the right trail and not wandering far in the wrong direction. "Furthermore, close to the Mountains of the Clouds dwells a good friend, Ja the Mezop. You did not know him, but you know all that he did for me and all that he will gladly do to aid me. "At least he can direct us upon the right direction toward Sari." "The Mountains of the Clouds constitute a mighty range," replied Perry. "They must cover an enormous territory. How are you to find your friend in all the great country that is visible from their rugged flanks?" "Easily," I answered him, "for Ja gave me minute directions. I recall almost his exact words: "'You need merely come to the foot of the highest peak of the Mountains of the Clouds. There you will find a river that flows into the Lural Az. "'Directly opposite the mouth of the river you will see three large islands far out—so far that they are barely discernible. The one to the extreme left as you face them from the mouth of the river is Anoroc, where I rule the tribe of Anoroc.'" And so we hastened onward toward the great cloud-mass that was to be our guide for several weary marches. At last we came close to the towering crags, Alp-like in their grandeur. Rising nobly among its noble fellows, one stupendous peak reared its giant head thousands of feet above the others. It was he whom we sought; but at its foot no river wound down toward any sea. "It must rise from the opposite side," suggested Perry, casting a rueful glance at the forbidding heights that barred our further progress. "We cannot endure the arctic cold of those high flung passes, and to traverse the endless miles about this interminable range might require a year or more. The land we seek must lie upon the opposite side of the mountains." "Then we must cross them," I insisted. Perry shrugged. "We can't do it, David," he repeated. "We are dressed for the tropics. We should freeze to death among the snows and glaciers long before we had discovered a pass to the opposite side." "We must cross them," I reiterated. "We will cross them." I had a plan, and that plan we carried out. It took some time.

First we made a permanent camp part way up the slopes where there was good water. Then we set out in search of the great, shaggy cave bear of the higher altitudes.
He is a mighty animal—a terrible animal. He is but little larger than his cousin of the lesser, lower hills; but he makes up for it in the awfulness of his ferocity and in the length and thickness of his shaggy coat. It was his coat that we were after.
We came upon him quite unexpectedly. I was trudging in advance along a rocky trail worn smooth by the padded feet of countless ages of wild beasts. At a shoulder of the mountain around which the path ran I came face to face with the Titan.
I was going up for a fur coat. He was coming down for breakfast. Each realized that here was the very thing he sought.
With a horrid roar the beast charged me.
At my right the cliff rose straight upward for thousands of feet.
At my left it dropped into a dim, abysmal cañon.
In front of me was the bear.
Behind me was Perry.
I shouted to him in warning, and then I raised my rifle and fired into the broad breast of the creature. There was no time to take aim; the thing was too close upon me.
But that my bullet took effect was evident from the howl of rage and pain that broke from the frothing jowls. It didn't stop him, though.
I fired again, and then he was upon me. Down I went beneath his ton of maddened, clawing flesh and bone and sinew.
I thought my time had come. I remember feeling sorry for poor old Perry, left all alone in this inhospitable, savage world.
And then of a sudden I realized that the bear was gone and that I was quite unharmed. I leaped to my feet, my rifle still clutched in my hand, and looked about for my antagonist.
I thought that I should find him farther down the trail, probably finishing Perry, and so I leaped in the direction I supposed him to be, to find Perry perched upon a projecting rock several feet above the trail. My cry of warning had given him time to reach this point of safety.
There he squatted, his eyes wide and his mouth ajar, the picture of abject terror and consternation.
"Where is he?" he cried when he saw me. "Where is he?"
"Didn't he come this way?" I asked.
"Nothing came this way," replied the old man. "But I heard his roars—he must have been as large as an elephant."
"He was," I admitted; "but where in the world do you suppose he disappeared to?"
Then came a possible explanation to my mind. I returned to the point at which the bear had hurled me down and peered over the edge of the cliff into the abyss below.
Far, far down I saw a small brown blotch near the bottom of the canon. It was the bear.
My second shot must have killed him, and so his dead body, after hurling me to the path, had toppled over into the abyss. I shivered at the thought of how close I, too, must have been to going over with him.
It took us a long time to reach the carcass, and arduous labor to remove the great pelt. But at last the thing was accomplished, and we returned to camp dragging the heavy trophy behind us.
Here we devoted another considerable period to scraping and curing it. When this was done to our satisfaction we made heavy boots, trousers, and coats of the shaggy skin, turning the fur in.
From the scraps we fashioned caps that came down around our ears, with flaps that fell about our shoulders and breasts. We were now fairly well equipped for our search for a pass to the opposite side of the Mountains of the Clouds.
Our first step now was to move our camp upward to the very edge of the perpetual snows which cap this lofty range. Here we built a snug, secure little hut, which we provisioned and stored with fuel for its diminutive fireplace.
With our hut as a base we sallied forth in search of a pass across the range.
Our every move was carefully noted upon our maps which we now kept in duplicate. By this means we were saved tedious and unnecessary retracing of ways already explored.
Systematically we worked upward in both directions from our base, and when we had at last discovered what seemed might prove a feasible pass we moved our belongings to a new hut farther up.
It was hard work—cold, bitter, cruel work. Not a step did we take in advance but the grim reaper strode silently in our tracks.
There were the great cave bears in the timber, and gaunt, lean wolves—huge creatures twice the size of our Canadian timber-wolves. Farther up we were assailed by enormous white bears—hungry, devilish fellows, who came roaring across the rough glacier tops at the first glimpse of us, or stalked us stealthily by scent when they had not yet seen us.
It is one of the peculiarities of life within Pellucidar that man is more often the hunted than the hunter. Myriad are the huge-bellied carnivora of this primitive world. Never, from birth to death, are those great bellies sufficiently filled, so always are their mighty owners prowling about in search of meat.
Terribly armed for battle as they are, man presents to them in his primal state an easy prey, slow of foot, puny of strength, ill-equipped by nature with natural weapons of defense.
The bears looked upon us as easy meat. Only our heavy rifles saved us from prompt extinction. Poor Perry never was a raging lion at heart, and I am convinced that the terrors of that awful period must have caused him poignant mental anguish.
When we were abroad pushing our trail farther and farther toward the distant break which, we assumed, marked a feasible way across the range, we never knew at what second some great engine of clawed and fanged destruction might rush upon us from behind, or lie in wait for us beyond an ice-hummock or a jutting shoulder of the craggy steeps.
The roar of our rifles was constantly shattering the world-old silence of stupendous canons upon which the eye of man had never before gazed. And when in the comparative safety of our hut we lay down to sleep the great beasts roared and fought without the walls, clawed and battered at the door, or rushed their colossal frames headlong against the hut's sides until it rocked and trembled to the impact.
Yes, it was a gay life.
Perry had got to taking stock of our ammunition each time we returned to the hut. It became something of an obsession with him.
He'd count our cartridges one by one and then try to figure how long it would be before the last was expended and we must either remain in the hut until we starved to death or venture forth, empty, to fill the belly of some hungry bear.
I must admit that I, too, felt worried, for our progress was indeed snail-like, and our ammunition could not last forever. In discussing the problem, finally we came to the decision to burn our bridges behind us and make one last supreme effort to cross the divide.
It would mean that we must go without sleep for a long period, and with the further chance that when the time came that sleep could no longer be denied we might still be high in the frozen regions of perpetual snow and ice, where sleep would mean certain death, exposed as we would be to the attacks of wild beasts and without shelter from the hideous cold.
But we decided that we must take these chances and so at last we set forth from our hut for the last time, carrying such necessities as we felt we could least afford to do without. The bears seemed unusually troublesome and determined that time, and as we clambered slowly upward beyond the highest point to which we had previously attained, the cold became infinitely more intense.
Presently, with two great bears dogging our footsteps we entered a dense fog.
We had reached the heights that are so often cloud-wrapped for long periods. We could see nothing a few paces beyond our noses.
We dared not turn back into the teeth of the bears which we could hear grunting behind us. To meet them in this bewildering fog would have been to court instant death.
Perry was almost overcome by the hopelessness of our situation. He flopped down on his knees and began to pray.
It was the first time I had heard him at his old habit since my return to Pellucidar, and I had thought that he had given up his little idiosyncrasy; but he hadn't. Far from it.
I let him pray for a short time undisturbed, and then as I was about to suggest that we had better be pushing along one of the bears in our rear let out a roar that made the earth fairly tremble beneath our feet.
It brought Perry to his feet as if he had been stung by a wasp, and sent him racing ahead through the blinding fog at a gait that I knew must soon end in disaster were it not checked.
Crevasses in the glacier-ice were far too frequent to permit of reckless speed even in a clear atmosphere, and then there were hideous precipices along the edges of which our way often led us. I shivered as I thought of the poor old fellow's peril.
At the top of my lungs I called to him to stop, but he did not answer me. And then I hurried on in the direction he had gone, faster by far than safety dictated.
For a while I thought I heard him ahead of me, but at last, though I paused often to listen and to call to him, I heard nothing more, not even the grunting of the bears that had been behind us. All was deathly silence—the silence of the tomb. About me lay the thick, impenetrable fog.
I was alone. Perry was gone—gone forever, I had not the slightest doubt.
Somewhere near by lay the mouth of a treacherous fissure, and far down at its icy bottom lay all that was mortal of my old friend, Abner Perry. There would his body be preserved in its icy sepulcher for countless ages, until on some far distant day the slow-moving river of ice had wound its snail-like way down to the warmer level, there to disgorge its grisly evidence of grim tragedy, and what in that far future age, might mean baffling mystery.

"Holocaust." Inadequate!—but what word can tell even faintly of that reign of terror that engulfed the world, of those terrible thirty days in America when dread and horror[357] gripped the nation and the red menace, like a wall of fire, swept downward from the north? And, at last—the end! It was given to me to know something of that conflict and of its ending and of the man who, in that last day, took command of Earth's events and gave battle to Mars, the God of War himself. It was against the background of war that he stood out; I must tell it in that way; and perhaps my own experience will be of interest. Yet it is of the man I would write more than the war—the most hated man in the whole world—that strange character, Paul Stravoinski. You do not even recognize the name. But, if I were to say instead the one word, "Paul"—ah, now I can see some of you start abruptly in sudden, wide-eyed attention, while the breath catches in your throats and the memory of a strange dread clutches your hearts. 'Straki,' we called him at college. He was never "Paul," except to me alone; there was never the easy familiarity between him and the crowd at large, whose members were "Bill" and "Dick" and other nicknames unprintable. But "Straki" he accepted. "Bien, mon cher ami," he told me—he was as apt to drop into French as Russian or any of a dozen other languages—"a name—what is it? A label by which we distinguish one package of goods from a thousand others just like it! I am unlike: for me one name is as good as another. It is what is here that counts,"—he tapped his broad forehead that rose high to the tangle of black hair—"and here,"—and this time he placed one hand above his heart. "It is for what I give to the world of my head and my heart that I must be remembered. And, if I give nothing—then the name, it is less than nothing." D reamer—poet—scientist—there were many Paul Strakis in that one man. Brilliant in his work—he was majoring in chemistry—he was a mathematician who was never stopped. I've seen him pause, puzzled by some phase of a problem that, to me, was a blank wall. Only a moment's hesitation and he would go way down to the bed-rock of mathematics and come up with a brand new formula of his own devising. Then—"Voila! C'est fini! let us go for a walk, friend Bob; there is some poetry that I have remembered—" And we would head out of town, while he spouted poetry by the yard—and made me like it. I wish you could see the Paul Straki of those days. I wish I could show him to you; you would understand so much better the "Paul" of these later times. Tall, he seemed, though his eyes were only level with mine, for his real height was hidden beneath an habitual stoop. It let him conceal, to some extent, his lameness. He always walked with a noticeable limp, and here was the cause of the only bitterness that, in those days, was ever reflected in his face. "Cossacks!" he explained when he surprised a questioning look upon my face. "They went through our village. I was two years old—and they rode me down!" But the hard coldness went from his eyes, and again they crinkled about with the kindly, wise lines that seemed so strange in his young face. "It is only a reminder to me," he added, "that such things are all in the past; that we are entering a new world where savage brutality shall no longer rule, and the brotherhood of man will be the basis upon which men shall build." And his face, so homely that it was distinctive, had a beauty all its own when he dared to voice his dreams.[358] I t was this that brought about his expulsion from college. That was in 1935 when the Vornikoff faction brought off their coup d'etat and secured a strangle hold on Russia. We all remember the campaign of propaganda that was forced into the very fibre of every country, to weaken with its insidious dry-rot the safe foundations of our very civilization. Paul was blinded by his idealism, and he dared to speak. He was conducting a brilliant research into the structure of the atom; it ended abruptly with his dismissal. And the accepted theories of science went unchallenged, while men worked along other lines than Paul's to attempt the release of the tremendous energy that is latent in all matter. I saw him perhaps three times in the four years that followed. He had a laboratory out in a God-forsaken spot where he carried on his research. He did enough analytical work to keep him from actual starvation, though it seemed to me that he was uncomfortably close to that point. "Come with me," I urged him; "I need you. You can have the run of our laboratories—work out the new alloys that are so much needed. You would be tremendously valuable." He had mentioned Maida to me, so I added: "And you and Maida can be married, and can live like a king and queen on what my outfit can pay you." He smiled at me as he might have done toward a child. "Like a king and queen," he said. "But, friend Bob, Maida and I do not approve of kings and queens, nor do we wish to follow them in their follies. "It is hard waiting,"—I saw his eyes cloud for a moment—"but Maida is willing. She is working, too—she is up in Melford as you know—and she has faith in my work. She sees with me that it will mean the release of our fellow-men and women from the poverty that grinds out their souls. I am near to success; and when I give to the world the secret of power, then—" But I had to read in his far-seeing eyes the visions he could not compass in words. T hat was the first time. I was flying a new ship when next I dropped in on him. A sweet little job I thought it then, not like the old busses that Paul and I had trained in at college, where the top speed was a hundred and twenty. This was an A. B. Clinton cruiser, and the "A.B.C.'s" in 1933 were good little wagons, the best there were. I asked Paul to take a hop with me and fly the ship. He could fly beautifully; his lameness had been no hindrance to him. In his slender, artist hands a ship became a live thing. "Are you doing any flying?" I asked, but the threadbare suit made his answer unnecessary. "I'll do my flying later," he said, "and when I do,"—he waved contemptuously toward my shining, new ship—"you'll scrap that piece of junk." The tone matched the new lines in his face—deep lines and bitter. This practical world has always been hard on the dreamers. Poverty; and the grinding struggle that Maida was having; the expulsion from college when he was assured of a research scholarship that would have meant independence and the finest of equipment to work with—all this, I found, was having its effect. And he talked in a way I didn't like of the new Russia and of the time that was near at hand when her communistic government should sweep the world of its curse of capitalistic control. Their propaganda campaign was still going on, and I gathered that Paul had allied himself with them. I tried to tell him what we all[359] knew; that the old Russia was gone, that Vornikoff and his crowd were rapacious and bloodthirsty, that their real motives were as far removed from his idealism as one pole from the other. But it was no use. And I left when I saw the light in his eyes. It seemed to me then that Paul Stravoinski had driven his splendid brain a bit beyond its breaking point. A nother year—and Paris, in 1939, with the dreaded First of May drawing near. There had been rumors of demonstrations in every land, but the French were prepared to cope with them—or so they believed.... Who could have coped with the menace of the north that was gathering itself for a spring? I saw Paul there. It lacked two days of the First of May, and he was seated with a group of industrious talkers at a secluded table in a cafe. He crossed over when he saw me, and drew me aside. And I noticed that a quiet man at a table nearby never let us out of his sight. Paul and his companions, I judged, were under observation. "What are you doing here now?" he asked. His manner was casual enough to anyone watching, but the tense voice and the look in his eyes that bored into me were anything but casual. My resentment was only natural. "And why shouldn't I be here attending to my own affairs? Do you realize that you are being rather absurd?" He didn't bother to answer me directly. "I can't control them," he said. "If they would only wait—a few weeks—another month! God, how I prayed to them at—" He broke off short. His eyes never moved, yet I sensed a furtiveness as marked as if he had peered suspiciously about. Suddenly he laughed aloud, as if at some joking remark of mine; I knew it was for the benefit of those he had left and not for the quiet man from the Surete. And now his tone was quietly conversational. "Smile!" he said. "Smile, Bob!—we're just having a friendly talk. I won't live another two hours if they think anything else. But, Bob, my friend—for God's sake, Bob, leave Paris to-night. I am taking the midnight plane on the Transatlantic Line. Come with me—" One of the group at the table had risen; he was sauntering in our direction. I played up to Paul's lead. "Glad I ran across you," I told him, and shook his extended hand that gripped mine in an agony of pleading. "I'll be seeing you in New York one of these days; I am going back soon." B ut I didn't go soon enough. The unspoken pleading in Paul Stravoinski's eyes lost its hold on me by another day. I had work to do; why should I neglect it to go scuttling home because someone who feared these swarming rats had begged me to run for cover? And the French people were prepared. A little rioting, perhaps; a pistol shot or two, and a machine-gun that would spring from nowhere and sweep the street—! We know now of the document that the Russian Ambassador delivered to the President of France, though no one knew of it then. He handed it to the portly, bearded President at ten o'clock on the morning of April thirtieth. And the building that had housed the Russian representatives was empty ten minutes later. Their disguises must have been ready, for if the sewers of Paris had swallowed them they could have vanished no more suddenly. And the document? It was the same in substance as those delivered in like manner in every capital of Europe: twenty-four hours were[360] given in which to assure the Central Council of Russia that the French Government would be dissolved, that communism would be established, and that its executive heads would be appointed by the Central Council. And then the bulletins appeared, and the exodus began. Papers floated in the air; they blew in hundreds of whirling eddies through the streets. And they warned all true followers of the glorious Russian faith to leave Paris that day, for to-morrow would herald the dawn of a new heaven on earth—a Communistic heaven—and its birth would come with the destruction of Paris.... I give you the general meaning though not the exact words. And, like the rest, I smiled tolerantly as I saw the stream of men and women and frightened children that filtered from the city all that day and night; but I must admit that our smiles were strained as morning came on the First of May, and the hour of ten drew near. Paris, the beautiful—that lovely blossom, flowering on the sturdy stalk that was La Belle France! Paris, laughing to cover its unspoken fears that morning in May, while the streets thudded to the feet of marching men in horizon blue, and the air above was vibrant with the endless roar of planes. This meant war; and mobilization orders were out; yet still the deadly menace was blurred by a feeling of unreality. A hoax!—a huge joke!—it was absurd, the thought of a distant people imposing their will upon France! And yet ... and yet.... T here were countless eyes turned skyward as a thousand bells rang out the hour of ten; and countless ears heard faintly the sound of gunfire from the north. My work had brought me into contact with high officials of the French Government; I was privileged to stand with a group of them where a high-roofed building gave a vantage point for observation. With them I saw the menacing specks on the horizon; I saw them come on with deadly deliberation—come on and on in an ever-growing armada that filled the sky. Wireless had brought the report of their flight high over Germany; it was bringing now the story of disaster from the northern front. A heavy air-force had been concentrated there; and now the steady stream of radio messages came on flimsy sheets to the group about me, while they clustered to read the incredible words. They cursed and glared at one another, those French officials, as if daring their fellows to believe the truth; then, silent and white of face, they reached numbly for each following sheet that messengers brought—until they knew at last that the air-force of France was no more.... The roar of the approaching host was deafening in our ears. Red—red as blood!—and each unit grew to enormous proportions. Armored cruisers of the air—dreadnaughts!—they came as a complete surprise. "But the city is ringed with anti-aircraft batteries," a uniformed man was whispering. "They will bring the brutes down." The northern edge of the city flamed to a roaring wall of fire; the batteries went into action in a single, crashing harmony that sang triumphantly in our ears. A few of the red shapes fell, but for each of these a hundred others swept down in deadly, directed flight. A glass was in my hand; my eyes strained through it to see the silvery cylinders that fell from the speeding ships. I saw the red cruisers sweep upward before the inferno of exploding bombs raged toward them from below. And where the roar of batteries had been was only silence.[361] T he fleet was over the city. We waited for the rain of bombs that must come; we saw the red cloud move swiftly to continue the annihilation of batteries that still could fire; we saw the armada pass on and lose itself among cloud-banks in the west. Only a dozen planes remained, high-hung in the upper air. We stared in wonderment at one another. Was this mercy?—from such an enemy? It was inconceivable! "Mercy!" I wonder that we dared to think the word. Only an instant till a whistling shriek marked the coming of death. It was a single plane—a giant shell—that rode on wings of steel. It came from the north, and I saw it pass close overhead. Its propeller screamed an insolent, inhuman challenge. Inhuman—for one glance told the story. Here was no man-flown plane: no cockpit or cabin, no gunmounts. Only a flying shell that swerved and swung as we watched. We knew that its course was directed from above; it was swung with terrible certainty by a wireless control that reached it from a ship overhead. Slowly it sought its target: deliberately it poised above it. An instant, only, it hung, though the moment, it seemed, would never end—then down!—and the blunt nose crashed into the Government buildings where at that moment the Chamber of Deputies was in session ... and where those buildings had been was spouting masonry and fire. A man had me by the arm; his fingers gripped into my flesh. With his other hand he was pointing toward the north. "Torpedoes!" he was saying. "Torpedoes of a size gigantic! Ah, mon Dieu! mon Dieu! Save us for we are lost!" They came in an endless stream, those blood-red projectiles; they announced their coming with shrill cries of varying pitch; and they swung and swerved, as the ships above us picked them up, to rake the city with mathematical precision. Incendiary, of course: flames followed every shattering burst. Between us and the Seine was a hell of fire—a hell that contained unnumbered thousands of what an instant before had been living folk—men and women clinging in a last terrified embrace—children whose white faces were hidden in their mothers' skirts or buried in bosoms no longer a refuge for childish fears. I saw it as plainly as if I had been given the far-reaching vision of a god ... and I turned and ran with stumbling feet where a stairway awaited.... O f that flight, only a blurred recollection has stayed with me. I pray God that I may never see it more clearly. There are sights that mortal eyes cannot behold with understanding and leave mortal brain intact. It is like an anaesthetic at such times, the numbness that blocks off the horrors the eyes are recording—like the hurt of the surgeon's scalpel that never reaches to the brain. Dimly I see the fragmentary scenes: the crashing fall of buildings that come crumbling and thundering down, myself crawling like an insect across the wreckage—it is slippery and wet where the stones are red, and I stumble, then see the torn and mangled thing that has caused me to fall.... A face regards me from another mound. I see the dust of powdered masonry still settling upon it: the dark hair is hardly disturbed about the face, so peaceful, so girlishly serene: I am still wondering dully why there is only the head of that girl resting on the shattered stone, as I lie there exhausted and watch the next torpedo crash a block behind me.... The air is shrill with flying fragments. I wonder why my hands are[362] stained and sticky as I run and crawl on my way. The red rocks are less slippery now, and the rats, from the sewers of Paris!—they have come out to feed! Fragments of pictures—and the worst of them gone! I know that night came—red night, under a cloud of smoke—and I found myself on the following day descending from a fugitive peasant's cart and plodding onward toward the markings of a commercial aerodrome. They could not be everywhere, those red vultures of the sky, and they had other devils'-work to do. I had money, and I paid well for the plane that carried me through that day and a night to the Municipal Airport of New York. T he Red Army of occupation was halfway across communist Germany, hailed as they went as the saviors of the world. London had gone the way of Paris; Rome had followed; the countries of France and England and Italy were beaten to their knees. "We who rule the air rule the world!" boasted General Vornikoff. The Russian broadcasting station had the insolence to put on the air his message to the people of America. I heard his voice as plainly as if he stood in my office; and I was seeing again the coming of that endless stream of aerial torpedoes, and the red cruisers hanging in the heights to pick up control and dash the messengers of death upon a helpless city. But I was visioning it in New York. "The masses of the American people are with us," said the complacently arrogant voice. "For our fellow-workers we have only brotherly affection; it is your capitalist-dominated Government that must submit. And if it does not—!" I heard him laugh before he went on: "We are coming to the rescue of you, our brothers across the sea. Now we have work to do in Europe; our gains must be consolidated and the conquests of our glorious air-force made secure. And then—! We warn you in advance, and we laugh at your efforts to prepare for our coming. We even tell you the date: in thirty days the invasion begins. It will end only at Washington when the great country of America, its cruel shackles cast off from the laboring masses, joins the Brotherhood—the Workers of the World!" There was a man from the War Department who sat across from me at my desk; my factories were being taken over; my electric furnaces must pour out molten metal for use in war. He cursed softly under his breath as the voice ceased. "The dirty dog!" he exclaimed. "The lying hypocrite! He talks of brotherhood to us who know the damnable inquisition and reign of terror that he and his crowd have forced on Russia! Thirty days! Well, we have three thousand planes ready for battle to-day; there'll be more in thirty days! Now, about that vanadium steel—" But I'll confess I hardly heard him; I was hearing the roar of an armada of red craft that ensanguined the sky, and I was seeing the curving flight of torpedoes, each an airplane in itself.... T hirty days!—and each minute of each hour must be used. In close touch with the War Department, I knew much that was going on, and all that I knew was the merest trifle in the vast preparations for defense. My earlier apprehensions were dulled; the sight I had of the whole force of a mighty nation welded into one driving power working to one definite end was exhilarating. New York and Washington—these, it was felt, would be the points of first attack; they must be[363] protected. And I saw the flights of planes that seemed endless as they converged at the concentration camps. Fighters, at first—bombers and swift scouts—they came in from all parts of the land. Then the passenger planes and the big mail-ships. Transcontinental runs were abandoned or cut to a skeleton service of a ship every hour for the transport of Government men. Even the slower craft of the feeder lines were commandeered; anything that could fly and could mount a gun. And the three thousand fighting ships, as the man from Washington had said, grew to three times that number. Their roaring filled the skies with thunder, and beneath them were other camps of infantry and artillery. The Atlantic front was an armed camp, where highways no longer carried thousands of cars on pleasure bent. By night and day I saw those familiar roads from the air; they were solid with a never-ending line of busses and vans and long processions of motorized artillery and tanks, whose clattering bedlam came to me a thousand feet above. Yes, it was an inspiring sight, and I lost the deadly oppression and the sense of impending doom—until our intelligence service told us of the sailing of the enemy fleet. T hey had seized every vessel in the waters of Europe. And—God pity the poor, traitorous devils who manned them—there were plenty to operate the ships. Two thousand vessels were in that convoy. Ringed in as they were by a guard of destroyers and fighting craft of many kinds, whose mast-heads carried the blood-red flag now instead of their former emblems, our submarines couldn't reach them. But our own fleet went out to measure their strength, and a thousand Navy planes took the air on the following day. Uppermost in my own mind, and in everyone's mind, I think, was the question of air-force. Would they bring the red ships? What was their cruising range? Could they cross the Atlantic with their enormous load of armored hull, or must they be transported? Were the air-cruisers with the fleet, or would they come later? How Vornikoff and his assassins must have laughed as they built the monsters, armored them, and mounted the heavy guns so much greater than anything they would meet! The rest of us—all the rest of the world!—had been kept in ignorance.... And now our own fliers were sweeping out over the gray waters to find the answer to our questions. I've tried to picture that battle; I've tried to imagine the feelings of those men on the dreadnaughts and battle-cruisers and destroyers. There was no attempt on the enemy's part to conceal his position; his wireless was crackling through the air with messages that our intelligence department easily decoded. Our Navy fliers roared out over the sea, out and over the American fleet, whose every bow was a line of white that told of their haste to meet the oncoming horde. The plane-carriers threw their fighters into the air to join the cavalcade above—and a trace of smoke over the horizon told that the giant fleet was coming into range. A nd then, instead of positions and ranges flashed back from our own swift scouts, came messages of the enemy's attack. Our men must have seen them from the towers of our own fleet; they must have known what the red swarm meant, as it came like rolling, fire-lit smoke far out in the sky—and they must have read plainly their own helplessness as they saw our thousand planes go down. They were overwhelmed—obliterated!—and the red[364] horde of air-cruisers was hardly checked in its sweep. Carnage and destruction, those blue seas of the north Atlantic have seen; they could tell tales of brave men, bravely going to their death in storm and calm but never have they seen another such slaughter as that day's sun showed. The anti-aircraft guns roared vainly; some few of our own planes that had escaped returned to add their futile, puny blows. The waters about the ships were torn to foam, while the ships themselves were changed to furnaces of bursting flame—until the seas in mercy closed above them and took their torn steel, and the shattered bodies that they held, to the silence of the deep.... We got it all at Washington. I sat in a room with a group of white-faced men who stared blindly at a radiocone where a quiet voice was telling of disaster. It was Admiral Graymont speaking to us from the bridge of the big dreadnaught, Lincoln, the flagship of the combined fleet. Good old Graymont! His best friend, Bill Schuler, Secretary of the Navy, was sitting wordless there beside me. "It is the end," the quiet voice was saying; "the cruiser squadrons are gone.... Two more battleships have gone down: there are only five of us left.... A squadron of enemy planes is coming in above. Our men have fought bravely and with never a chance.... There!—they've got us!—the bombs! Good-by, Bill, old fellow—" The radiocone was silent with a silence that roared deafeningly in our ears. And, beside me, I saw the Secretary of the Navy, a Navy now without ships or men, drop his tired, lined face into his hands, while his broad shoulders shook convulsively. The rest of us remained in our chairs, too stunned to do anything but look at one another in horror. W e expected them to strike at New York. I was sent up there, and it was there that I saw Paul again. I met him on lower Broadway, and I went up to him with my hand reaching for his. I didn't admire Paul's affiliations, but he had warned me—he had tried to save my life—and I wanted to thank him. But his hand did not meet mine. There was a strange, wild look in his eyes—I couldn't define it—and he brought his gaze back from far off to stare at me as if I were a stranger. Then: "Still got that A.B.C. ship?" he demanded. "Yes," I answered wonderingly. "Junk it!" he said. And his laugh was as wild and incomprehensible as his look had been. I stared after him as he walked away. I was puzzled, but there were other things to think of then. A frenzy of preparation—and all in vain. The enemy fooled us; the radio brought the word from Quebec. "They have entered the St. Lawrence," was the message it flashed. Then, later: "The Red fleet is passing toward Montreal. Enemy planes have spotted all radio towers. There is one above us now—" And that ended the message from Quebec. But we got more information later. They landed near Montreal; they were preparing a great base for offensive operations; the country was overrun with a million men; the sky was full of planes by night and day; there was no artillery, no field guns of any sort, but there were torpedo-planes by tens of thousands, which made red fields of waiting death where trucks placed them as they took them from the ships. And there were some of us who smiled sardonically in recollection of the mammoth plants the Vornikoff Reds had installed in Central Russia, and the plaudits that had[365] greeted their plans for nitrogen fixation. They were to make fertilizers; the nitrates would be distributed without cost to the farms—this had pacified the Agrarians—and here were their "nitrates" that were to make fertile the fields of Russia: countless thousands of tons of nitro-explosives in these flying torpedoes! B ut if we smiled mirthlessly at these recollections we worked while we chewed on our cud of bitterness. There came an order: "Evacuate New England," and the job was given to me. With planes—a thousand of them—trucks, vans, the railroads, we gathered those terrified people into concentration camps, and took them over the ground, under the ground, and through the air to the distributing camp at Buffalo, where they were scattered to other points. I saw the preparations for a battle-front below me as I skimmed over Connecticut. Trenches made a thin line that went farther than I could see! Here was the dam that was expected to stop the enemy columns from the north. I think no one then believed that our air-force could check the assault. The men of the fighting planes were marked for death; one read it in their eyes; but who of us was not? How those giant cruisers would be downed no man could say, but we worked on in a blind desperation; we would hold that invading army as long as men could sight a gun; we would hold them back; and somehow, someway, we must find the means to repel the invasion from the air! I saw the lines of track that made a network back to the trenches. Like the suburban lines around New York, they would carry thousands of single cars, each driven at terrific speed by the air plane propeller at its bow. With these, the commanders could shift their forces to whatever sector was hardest pressed. They would be bombed, of course, but the hundreds of tracks would not all be destroyed—and the line must be held! The line! it brought a strangling lump to my throat as I saw those thin markings of trenches, the marching bodies of troops, the brave, hopeless, determined men who went singing to their places in that line. But my planes were winging past me; my job was ahead, where a multitude still waited and prayed for deliverance. W e never finished the job; in two days the red horde was upon us. Their swarming troops were convoyed by planes, but no effort was made to fly over our lines and launch an attack. Were they feeling their way? Did they think now that they would find us passive and unresisting? Did they want to take our cities undamaged? Oh, we asked ourselves a thousand questions with no answer to any—except the knowledge that a million men were marching from the north; that their fleet of planes would attack as soon as the troops encountered resistance; that our batteries of anti-aircraft guns would harry them as they came, and our air-fleet, held back in reserve, would take what the batteries left.... My last planes with their fugitive loads passed close to the lines of red troops. There were red planes overhead, but they let us pass unhindered. Fleeing, driving wildly toward the south, we were unworthy, it seemed, of even their contemptuous attention. But I was sick to actual nausea at sight of the villages and cities where only a part of the population had escaped. The roads, in front of the red columns, were jammed with motors and with men and women and children on foot: a hopeless tangle. I was watching the pitiful flight[366] below me, cursing my own impotence to be of help, when a shrill whistling froze me rigid to my controls. I had heard it before—there could be no mistaking the cry of that oncoming torpedo—and I saw the damnable thing pass close to my ship. I was doing two hundred—my motor was throttled down—but this inhuman monster passed me as if my ship were frozen as unmoving as myself. It tore on ahead. I saw an enemy plane above it some five thousand feet. The torpedo was checked; I saw it poise; then it curved over and down. And the screaming motor took up its cry that was like a thousand devils until its sound was lost in the screams from below and the infernal blast of its own explosion. Only a trial flight—an experiment to test their controls! No need for me to try to tell you of the thoughts that tore me through and through while I struggled to bring my ship to an even keel in the hurricane of explosion that drove up at me from below. But I spat out the one word: "Brotherhood!" and I prayed for a place in the front line where I might send one shot at least against so beastly a foe. T hat was somewhere in Massachusetts. Their foremost columns were close behind. They came to a stop some fifty miles from our waiting line of battle: I learned this when I got to Washington. And the reason, too, was known; it was published in all the papers. There had been messages to the President, broadcast to the world from an unknown source: "To the President of the United States—warning! This war must end. You, as Commander-in-Chief of the American forces can bring it to a close. I have prevailed upon the Red Army of the Brotherhood to halt. They have listened to me. You, also, must take heed. "You will issue orders at once to withdraw all resistance. You will disband your army, ground all your planes; bring all your artillery into one place and prepare to turn the government of this country over to the representatives of the Central Council. You will act at once." "This war is ended. All wars are ended forevermore. I have spoken." And the strange message was signed "Paul." The wild words of a maniac, it was thought at first. Yet the fact remained that the enemy's advance had ceased. Who was this "Paul" who had "prevailed upon the Red Army" to halt? And then the obvious answer occurred; it was a ruse on the part of the Reds. They feared to attack; their strength was not as great as we had thought—officers and men of all branches of the service took new heart and plunged more frenziedly still into the work of preparation. There were direction-finders that had taken the message from several stations; their pointers converged upon one definite location in southern Ohio. Over an area of twenty square miles, that place was combed for a sending radio where the message could have originated—combed in vain. T he next demand came at ten on the following morning. "To the President of the United States: You have disregarded my warning. You will not do so again; I have power to enforce my demands. I had hoped that bloodshed and destruction might cease, but it is plain that only that will save you from your own headstrong folly. I must strike. At noon to-day the Capitol in Washington will be destroyed. See that it is emptied of human life. I have spoken. Paul." A maniac, surely; yet a maniac with strange powers. For the graphs of the radio direction-finders showed[367] a curve. And when they were assembled the reading could only mean that the instrument that had sent the threat had moved over fifty miles during the few minutes of its sending. This, I think, was what brought the order to vacate the big domed building in Washington. Of course the Capitol Building had been searched; there was not a nook nor corner from roof to basement but had been gone over in search of an explosive machine. And now it was empty, and a guard of soldiers made a solid cordon surrounding it. No one could approach upon the ground; and, above, a series of circling patrol-planes, one squadron above another, guarded against approach by air. With such a defense the Capitol and its grounds seemed impregnable. My watch said 11:59; I held it in my hand and watched the seconds tick slowly by. The city was hushed; it seemed that no man was so much as breathing ... 11:59 :60!—and an instant later I heard the shriek of something that tore the air to screaming fragments. I saw it as it came on a straight, level line from the east; a flash like a meteor of glistening white. It passed beneath the planes, that were motionless by contrast, drove straight for the gleaming Capitol dome, passed above it, and swept on in a long flattened curve that bent outward and up. It was gone from my sight, though the shrieking air was still tearing at my ears, when I saw the great building unfold. Time meant nothing; my racing mind made slow and deliberate the explosion that lifted the roofs and threw the walls in dusty masses upon the ground. So slow it seemed!—and I had not even seen the shell that the white meteor-ship had fired. Yet there was the beautiful building, expanding, disintegrating. It was a cloud of dust when the concussion reached me to dash me breathless to the earth.... T he white meteor was the vehicle of "Paul," the dictator. From it had come the radio message whose source had moved so swiftly. I saw this all plainly. There was a conference of high officials at the War Department Building, and the Secretary summed up all that was said: "A new form of air-flight, and a new weapon more destructive than any we have known! That charge of explosive that was fired at the Capitol was so small as to be unseen. We can't meet it; we can only fight. Fight on till the end." A message came in as we sat there, a message to the Commander-in-Chief who had come over from the White House under military guard. "Surrender!" it demanded; "I have shown you my power; it is inexhaustible, unconquerable. Surrender or be destroyed; it is the dawn of a new day, the day of the Brotherhood of Man. Let bloodshed cease. Surrender! I command it! Paul." The President of the United States held the flimsy paper in his hand. He rose slowly to his feet, and he read it aloud to all of us assembled there; read it to the last hateful word. Then: "Surrender?" he asked. He turned steady, quiet eyes upon the big flag whose red and white and blue made splendid the wall behind him—and I'll swear that I saw him smile. W e have had many presidents since '76; big men, some of them; tall, handsome men; men who looked as if nature had moulded them for a high place. This man was small of stature; the shortest man in all that room if he had stood, but he was big—big! Only one who is great can look deep through the whirling turmoil of the moment to find the eternal verities that are always underneath—and smile! "Men must die,"—he spoke meditatively; in seeming communing[368] with himself, as one who tries to face a problem squarely and honestly—"and nations must pass; time overwhelms us all. Yet there is that which never dies and never surrenders." He looked about the room now, as if he saw us for the first time. "Gentlemen," he said quietly, "we have here an ultimatum. It is backed by power which our Secretary of War says is invincible. We are faced by an enemy who would annihilate these United States, and this new power fights on the side of the enemy. "Must we go the way of England, of France, of all Europe? It would seem so. The United States of America is doomed. Yet each one of us will meet what comes bravely, if, facing our own end, we know that the principles upon which this nation is founded must go on; if only the Stars and Stripes still floats before our closing eyes to assure us that some future day will see the resurrection of truth and of honor and kindness among men. "We will fight, as our Secretary of War has said—fight on to the end. We will surrender—never! That is our answer to this one who calls himself 'Paul.'" We could not speak; I do not know how long the silence lasted. But I know that I left that room a silent man among many silent men, in whose eyes I saw a reflection of the emotion that filled my own heart. It was the end—the end of America, of millions of American homes—but this was better than surrender to such a foe. Better death than slavery to that race of bloodthirsty oppressors. B ut who was "Paul?" This question kept coming repeatedly to my mind. The press of the country echoed the President's words, then dipped their pens in vitriol to heap scorching invective upon the head of the tyrant. The power of the Reds we might have met—or so it was felt—but this new menace gave the invaders a weapon we could not combat. It was power!—a means of flight beyond anything known!—an explosive beside which our nitro compounds were playthings for a child. "Who is Paul?" It was not only myself who asked the question through those next long hours, but perhaps I was the only one in whose mind was a disturbing certainty that the answer was mine if I could but grasp it. I was remembering Paris; I was thinking of that peaceful, happy city before the First of May, before the world had gone mad and a raging, red beast had laid it waste and overrun it. And of Paul Stravoinski—my friend "Straki" of college days—who had warned me. He had known what was coming. He himself had said that he had prayed to "them" for delay; that in a few weeks he would do—what?... And suddenly I knew. Paul had succeeded; his research had ended in the dissection of the atom; he had unleashed the sub-atomic power of matter. Only this could explain the wild flight through the sky, the terrific explosion at the Capitol. It was Paul—my friend, Paul Stravoinski—who was imposing his will upon the world. I said nothing as I took off; the swiftest plane was at my command. I might be wrong; I must not arouse false hopes; but I must find Paul. And the papers were black with scareheads of another threat as I left Washington: "You have twenty-four hours to surrender. There shall be one last day of grace." Signed: "Paul." There was more of the wild talk of the beauties of this new dispensation—a mixture of idealistic folly and of threats of destruction. I needed no more to prove the truth[369] of my suspicions. No one but the Paul I had known could cling so tenaciously to his dreams; no one but he could be so blind to the actual horror of the new oligarchy he would impose upon the world. I flew alone; no one but myself must try to hunt him out. I paid no attention to the radio direction of the last message; he would fly far afield to send it; distance meant nothing to one who held his power. I must look for him at his laboratory, that cluster of deserted buildings that stood all alone by a distant railway siding; it was there he had worked. H e met me with a pistol in his hand—a tiny gun that fired only a .22 calibre bullet. "Put down your pop-gun," I told him and brushed through the open door into the room that had been his laboratory. "I am unarmed, and I'm here to talk business. "You are 'Paul'!" I shot the sentence at him as if it were a bullet that must strike him down. He did not answer directly; just nodded in confirmation of some unspoken thought. "You have found me," he said slowly; "you were the only one I feared." Then he came out with it, and his eyes blazed with a maniacal light. "Yes, I am Paul! and this 'pop-gun' in my hand is the weapon that destroyed your Capitol at Washington. The bullet contained less than a grain of tritonite; that is the name I have given my explosive." He aimed the little pistol toward me where I stood. "These bullets are more lightly charged—they are to protect myself—and the one ten-thousandth of a milligram in the end of each will blow you into bits! Sit down. I will not be checked now. You will never leave this place alive!" "Less than a grain of tritonite!"—and I had seen a great building go down to dust at its touch! I sat down in the chair where he directed, and I turned away from the fanatical glare of Paul's eyes to look about me. There was poverty here no longer; no makeshift apparatus greeted my eyes, but the finest of laboratory equipment. Paul read my thoughts. "They have been liberal," he told me; "the Central Council has financed my work—though I have kept my whereabouts a secret even from them. But they would not wait. I told you in Paris, and you did not believe. And now—now I have succeeded! the research is done!" H e half turned to pick up a flake of platinum no larger than one's finger-nail; it was a weight that was used on a delicate balance. "Matter is matter no longer," he said; "I have resolved it into energy. I hold here in my hand power to destroy an army, or to drive a fleet of ships. I, Paul, will build a new world. I will give to man a surcease from labor; I will give him rest; I will do the work of the world. My tritonite that can destroy can also create; it shall be used for that alone. This is the end of war. Here is wealth; here is power; I shall give it to mankind, and, under the rule of the Brotherhood, a united world will arise and go forward to new growth, to a greater civilization, to a building of a new heaven on earth." He was pacing up and down the room. His hands were shaking; the muscles of his face that twitched and trembled were moulded into deep lines. I sat there and realized that within that room, directly before my eyes, was the Dictator of the World. It was true—I could not doubt it—Paul Straki of college days had made his dreams come true; his research was ended. And this new "Paul" who held in those trembling[370] hands the destinies of mankind, at whose word kings and presidents trembled, was utterly mad! I tried to talk and tell him of the truth we knew was true. He would have none of it; his dreams possessed him. In the bloody flag of this new Russia he could see only the emblem of freedom; the men who marched beneath that banner were his brothers, unwitting in the destruction they wrought. It was all that they knew. But they fought for the right. They would cease fighting now, and would join him in the work of moulding a new race. And even their leaders, who had sometimes opposed—were they not kind at heart? Had they not checked the advance of an irresistible army to give him and his new weapon an opportunity to open the eyes of the people? Theirs was no wish to destroy; their hearts ached for their victims who refused to listen and could be convinced only by force. And as he talked on there passed before my eyes the vision of an aerial torpedo and a blood-red ship above, where these "kindly" men who were Paul's allies turned the instrument of death upon huddled, screaming folk—and laughed, no doubt, at such good sport. I thought of many things. I was tensed one moment to throw myself upon the man; and an instant later I was searching my mind for some argument, some gleam of reason, with which I could tear aside the illusions that held him. I saw him cross the room where a radio stood, and he switched on the instrument for the news-broadcast service. The shouting of an excited voice burst into the room. "The Reds have advanced," said the voice. "Their armies have crossed the Connecticut line. They are within ten miles of the American forces. The twenty-four hours of grace promised by the tyrant 'Paul' was a lie. The battle is already on." I saw the tall figure of Paul sink to its former stoop; the lameness that had vanished in the moment of his exaltation had returned. He limped a pace or two toward me. "They said they would wait!" His voice was a hoarse whisper. "General Vornikoff himself gave me his promise!" I was on my feet, then. "What matter?" I shouted. "What difference does it make—a few hours or a day? Your damned patriots, your dear brothers in arms—they are destroying us this instant! And not one of our men but is worth more than the whole beastly mob!" I was wild with the picture that came so clear and plain before my eyes. I had my pistol in my hand; I was tempted to fire. It was his whisper that stopped me. "They have crossed Massachusetts! And Maida is there in Melford!" T here was no resisting his strength that tore my weapon from me. His tritonite pistol was pressed into my side, and his hand upon my collar threw me ahead of him toward a rear room, then out into a huge shed. I had only a quick glimpse of the airplane that was housed there. It was a white cylinder, and the stern that was toward me showed a funnel-shaped port. I was thrown by that same furious strength through a door of the ship; I saw Paul Stravoinski seat himself before some curious controls. The ship that held me rose; moved slowly through an opened door; and with a screech from the stern it tore off and up into the air. I have said Paul could fly; but the terrific flight of the screaming thing that held us seemed beyond the power of man to control. I was stunned with the thundering roar and the speed that held me down and back against a cabin wall.[371] How he found Melford, I cannot know; but he found it as a homing pigeon finds its loft. He checked our speed with a sickening swiftness that made my brain reel. There were red ships above, but they let the white ship pass unchallenged. There were no Red soldiers on the ground—only the marks where they had passed. From the distance came a never-ceasing thunder of guns. The village was quiet. It still burned, blazing brightly in places, again smouldering sluggishly and sending into the still air smoke clouds whose fumes were a choking horror of burned flesh. There were bodies in grotesque scattering about the streets; some of them were black and charred. Paul Stravoinski took me with him as he dashed for a house that the flames had not touched. And I was with him as he smashed at the door and broke into the room. T here was splintered furniture about.

A cabinet, whose glass doors had been wantonly smashed, leaned crazily above its fallen books, now torn, scuffed and muddy upon the floor. Through a shattered window in the bed-room beyond came a puff of the acrid smoke from outside to strangle the breath in my throat. On the floor in a shadowed corner lay the body of a woman—a young woman as her clotted tangle of golden hair gave witness. She stirred and moaned half-consciously.... And the lined face of Paul Stravoinski was a terrible thing to see as he went stumblingly across the room to gather that body into his arms.
I had known Maida; I had seen their love begin in college days. I had known a laughing girl with sunshine in her hair, a girl whose soft eyes had grown so tenderly deep when they rested upon Paul—but this that he took in his arms, while a single dry sob tore harshly at his throat, this was never Maida!
There were red drops that struck upon his hands or fell sluggishly to the floor; the head and face had taken the blow of a clubbed rifle or a heavy boot. The eyes in that tortured face opened to rest upon Paul's, the lips were moving.
"I told them of you," I heard her whisper. "I told them that you would come—and they laughed." Unconsciously she tried to draw her torn clothing about her, an instinctive reaction to some dim realization of her nakedness. She was breathing feebly. "And now—oh, Paul!—Paul!—you—have come—too late!"
I
  hardly think Paul knew I was there or sensed that I followed where he carried in his arms the bruised body that had housed the spirit of Maida. He flew homeward like a demon, but he moved as one in a dream.
Only when I went with him into the room where he had worked, did he turn on me in sudden fury.
"Out!" he screamed. "Get out of my sight! It is you who have done this—your damned armies who would not do as I ordered! If you had not resisted, if you had—"
I broke in there.
"Did we do that?" I outshouted him, and I pointed to the torn body on a cot. His eyes followed my shaking hand. "No, it was your brothers—your dear comrades who are bringing the brotherhood of men into the world! Well, are you proud? Are you happy and satisfied—with what your brothers do with women?"
It must be a fearful thing to have one's dreams turn bitter and poisonous. Paul Stravoinski seemed about to spring upon me. He was crouched, and the muscles of his thin neck were like wire; his face was a ghastly thing, his eyes so staring bright, and the sensitive mouth twisting horribly. But he sprang at[372] last not at me but toward the door, and without a word from his tortured lips he opened it and motioned me out.
Even there I heard echoes of distant guns and the heavier, thudding sounds that must be their aerial torpedoes. My feet were leaden as I strained every muscle to hurry toward my ship. Through my mind was running the threat of the Russian, Vornikoff: "We even tell you the date: in thirty days." And this was the thirtieth day—thirty days that a state of war had existed.

T
he battle was on; the radio had spoken truly. I saw its raging fires as I came up from our rear where the gray-like smoke clouds shivered in the unending blast. But I saw stabbing flames that struck upward from the ground to make a wall of sharp, fiery spears, and I knew that every darting flame was launching a projectile from our anti-aircraft guns.
The skies were filled with the red aircraft of the enemy, but their way was an avenue of hell where thousands of shells filled the air with their crashing explosions. There were torpedoes, the unmanned airships whose cargo was death, and they were guided to their marks despite the inferno that raged about the red ships above.
I saw meteors that fell, the red flames that enveloped them no redder than the bodies of the ships. And, as I leaped from my plane that I had landed back of our lines, I sensed that the enemy was withdrawing.
There was a colonel of artillery—I had known him in days of peace—and he threw his arms around me and executed a crazy dance. "We've beaten them back, Bob!" he shouted, and repeated it over and over in a delirium of joy.
I couldn't believe it; not those cruisers that I had seen over Paris. Another brief moment showed my fears were all too rational.
A shrieking hailstorm of torpedoes preceded them; the ships were directing them from afar. And, while some of the big shells went wild and overshot our lines, there were plenty that found their mark.
I was smashed flat by a stunning concussion. Behind me the place where Colonel Hartwell had stood was a smoking crater; his battery of guns had been blasted from the earth. Up and down the whole line, far beyond the range of my sight, the eruption continued. The ground was a volcano of flame, as if the earth had opened to let through the interior fires, and the air was filled with a litter of torn bodies and sections of shattered guns.
No human force could stand up under such a bombardment. Like others about me, I gripped tight upon something within me that was my self-control, and I marveled that I yet lived while I waited for the end.

B
eyond the smoke clouds was a hillside, swarming with figures in red; solid masses of troops that came toward us. Above was the red fleet, passing safely above our flame-blasted lines; there were bombs falling upon those batteries here and there whose fire was unsilenced. And then, from the south, came a roar that pierced even the bedlam about me. The sun shone brightly there where the smoke-clouds had not reached, and it glinted and sparkled from the wings of a myriad of our planes.
There was something that pulled tight at my throat; I know I tore at it with fumbling hands, as if that something were an actual band that had clamped down and choked me, while I stared at that true line of sharp-pointed V's. The air-force of the United States had been ordered in; and they were coming,[373] coming—to an inevitable death!
I tried to tear my eyes away from that oncoming fleet, but I could not move. I saw their first contact with the enemy; so small, they were, in contrast with the big red cruisers. They attacked in formations; they drove down and in; and they circled and whirled before they fluttered to earth....
Dimly, through the stupor that numbed my brain, I heard men about me shouting with joy. I felt more than saw the fall of a monster red craft; it struck not far away. The voices were thanking God—for what? Another red ship fell—and another; and through all the roaring inferno a sound was tearing—a ripping, terrible scream that went on and on. And above me, when I forced my eyes upward, was a flash of white.
It darted like a live thing among the red ones whose guns blazed madly—and the red ships in clotted groups fell away and over and down as the white one passed. They had been burst open where some power had blasted them, and their torn hulls showed gaping as they fell.
For a time the air was silent and empty above; the white, flashing thing had passed from sight, for the line of red ships was long. Then again it returned, and it threw itself into the mad whirl in the south where the air-force of the American people was fighting its last fight.
I was screaming insanely as I saw it come back. The white ship!—the blast of vapor from its funneled stern—It was Paul!—Paul Stravoinski!—Paul the Dictator!—and he was fighting on our side!

H
is ship had been prepared; I had seen the machine-guns on her bow. Paul was working them from within, and every bullet was tipped with the product of his brain—the deadly tritonite!
The white flash swung wide in a circle that took it far away. It came back above the advancing army of the Reds. It swerved once wildly, then settled again upon its course, and the raging hell that the Reds had turned loose upon our lines was as nothing to the destruction that poured upon the Red troops from above.
A messenger of peace, that ship; I knew well why Paul had painted it white. And, instead of peace—!
He was flying a full mile from our lines, yet the torn earth and great boulders crashed among us even then. There were machine-guns firing ceaselessly from the under side of the ship. What charges of tritonite had the demented man placed in those shells?
Below and behind it, as it flashed across our view, was a fearful, writhing mass where the earth itself rose up in unending, convulsive agony. A volcano of fire followed him, a fountain of earth that ripped and tore and stretched itself in a writhing, tortured line across the land as the white ship passed.
No man who saw that and lived has found words to describe the progress of that monstrous serpent; the valley itself is there for men to see. The roar was beyond the limit of men's strained nerves. I found myself cowering upon the ground when the white ship came back; I followed it fearfully with my eyes until I saw it swoop falteringly down. Such power seemed not for men but for gods; I could not have met Paul Stravoinski then but in a posture of supplication. But I leaped to my feet and raced madly across the torn earth as I saw the white ship touch the ground—rise—fall again—and end its flight where it ploughed a furrow across a brown field....

I
  raised Paul Stravoinski's head in my arms where I found him in the ship. An enemy shell had entered that cabin; it must have come[374] early in the fight, but he had fought gamely on. And the eyes that looked up into mine had none of the wild light I had seen. They were the eyes of Paul Straki, the comrade of those few long years before, and he smiled as he said: "Voila, friend Bob: c'est fini! And now I go for a long, long walk. We will talk of poetry, Maida and I...."
But his dreams were still with him. He opened his eyes to stare intently at me. "You will see that it is not in vain?" he questioned; then smiled as one who is at peace, as he whispered: "Yes, I know you will—my friend, Bob—"
And his fixed gaze went through and beyond me, while he tried, in broken sentences, to give the vision that had been his. So plain it was to him now.
"The wild work—of a mistaken people. America will undo it.... A world at peace.... The vast commerce—of the skies—I see it—so clearly.... It will break down—all barriers.... A beautiful, happy world...."
His lips moved feebly at the last. I could not speak; could not even call him by name; I could only lean my head closer to hear.
One whispered word; then another: a fragment of poetry! I had heard him quote it often. But the whispered words were not for me. Paul was speaking to someone beside him—someone my blind, human eyes could not see....

I
  am writing these words at my desk in the great Transportation Building in New York. It stands upon the site of the Chrysler Building that towered here—until one of the flying torpedoes came over to hunt it out. They landed several in New York; how long ago it all seems that the threat of utter destruction hung over the whole nation—the whole world.
And now from my window I see the sparkling flash of ships. The air is filled with them; I am still unaccustomed to their speed. But a wisp of vapor from each bell-shaped stern throws them swiftly on their way; it marks the continuous explosion of that marvel of a new age—tritonite! There are tremendous terminals being built; the air-transport lines are being welded into efficient units that circle the world; and the world is becoming so small!
The barriers are gone; all nations are working as one to use wisely this strange new power for the work of this new world. No more poverty; no more of the want and desperate struggle that leads a whole people into the insane horrors of war; it is a glorious world of which we dream and which is coming slowly to be....
But I think we must dream well and work well to bring to actuality the beautiful visions in those far-seeing eyes of the man called Paul—Dictator, one time, of the whole world.

LISTENING TO ANTS

Two scientists of the University of Pittsburgh recently perfected an apparatus for detecting the sounds of underground communications among ants. A block of wood was placed upon the diaphragm of an ordinary telephone transmitter, which in turn was connected through batteries and amplifiers to a pair of earphones. When the termites crawled over the block of wood the transmitter was agitated, resulting in sound vibrations which were clearly heard by the listener at the headset.
When the ants became excited over something or other their soldiers were found to hammer their heads vigorously on the wood. This action could be clearly seen and heard at the same time. The investigators found that the ants could hear sound vibrations in the air very poorly or not at all, but were extremely sensitive to vibrations underground. For this reason it was thought that the head hammering was a method of communication.
Because of this sensitivity to substratum vibrations, ants are seldom found to infest the ties of railroads carrying heavy traffic, or buildings containing machinery.

I do not wish to appear prejudiced against scientists. I am not prejudiced, but I have observed the scientific mind in action, on a great many occasions, and I find it rather incomprehensible. It is true that there are men with a scientific turn of mind who, at the same time, you can feel safe to stand with shoulder to shoulder, in an emergency. Young Hendricks, who was my junior officer on the Ertak, back in those early days of the Special Patrol Service, about which I have written so much, was one of these. Nor, now that I come to think of the matter in the cool and impartial manner which is typical of me, was young Hendricks the only one. There was a chap—let's see, now. I remember his face very well; he was one of those dark, wiry, alert men, a native of Earth, and his name was—Inverness! Carlos Inverness. Old John Hanson's memory isn't quite as tricky as some of these smart young officers of the Service, so newly commissioned that the silver braid is not yet fitted to the curve of their sleeves, would lead one to believe. I met Inverness in the ante-room of the Chief of Command. The Chief was tied up in one of the long-winded meetings which the Silver-sleeves devoted largely to the making of new rules and regulations for the confusion of both men and officers of the Service, but he came out long enough to give me the Ertak's orders in person. "Glad to see you here at Base again, Commander," he said, in his crisp, business-like way. "Hear some good reports of your work; keep it up!" "Thank you, sir," I said, wondering what was in the air. Any time the Chief was complimentary, it was well to look out for squalls—which is an old Earth term for unexpected trouble. "Not at all, Commander, not at all. And now, let me present Carlos Inverness, the scientist, of whom you have undoubtedly heard." I bowed and said nothing, but we shook hands after the fashion of Earth, and Inverness smiled quite humanly. "I imagine the good captain has been too busy to follow the activities of such as myself," he said, sensibly enough. "A commander"—and I laid enough emphasis on the title to point out to him his error in terminology—"in the Special Patrol Service usually finds plenty to occupy his mind," I commented, wondering more than ever what was up."True," said the Chief briskly. "You'll pardon me if I'm exceedingly brief, Commander, but there's a sizeable group in there waiting my return. "I have a special mission for you; a welcome relief from routine patrol. I believe you have made special requests, in the past, for assignments other than the routine work of the Service, Commander?" He was boxing me up in a corner, and I knew it, but I couldn't deny what he said, so I admitted it as gracefully as I could. "Very well," nodded the Chief, and it seemed to me his eyes twinkled for an instant. "Inverness, here, is head of a party of scientists bent upon a certain exploration. They have interested the Council in the work, and the Council has requested the cooperation of this Service." He glanced at me to make sure I understood. I certainly did; when the Supreme Council requested something, that thing was done. "Very well, sir," I said. "What are your orders?" The Chief shrugged. "Simply that you are to cooperate with Inverness and his party, assisting them in every possible way, including the use of your ship for transporting them and a reasonable amount of equipment, to the field of their activities. The command of the ship remains, of course, in you and your officers, but in every reasonable way the Ertak and her crew are to be at the disposal of Inverness and his group. Is that clear, Commander?" "Perfectly, sir." Nothing could have been clearer. I was to run the ship, and Inverness and his crew were to run me. I could just imagine how Correy, my fighting first officer, would take this bit of news. The mental picture almost made me laugh, disgusted as I was. "Written orders will, of course, be given you before departure. I believe that's all. Good luck, Commander!" The Chief offered his hand briefly, and then hurried back to the other room where the Silver-sleeves had gathered to make more rulings for the confusion of the Service.

Since when," asked Correy bitterly, "are we running excursions for civilians? We'll be personally conducting elderly ladies next thing."
"Or put on Attached Police Service," growled Hendricks, referring to the poor devils who, in those days, policed the air-lanes of the populated worlds, cruising over the same pitiful routes day after day, never rising beyond the fringe of the stratosphere.
"Perhaps," suggested the level-headed Kincaide, "it isn't as bad as it sounds. Didn't you, say, sir, that this Inverness was rather a decent sort of chap?"
I nodded.
"Very much so. You'd scarcely take him for a scientist."
"And our destination is—what?" asked Kincaide.
"That I don't know. Inverness is to give us that information when he arrives, which will be very shortly, if he is on time."
"Our destination," said Correy, "will probably be some little ball of mud with a tricky atmosphere or some freak vegetation they want to study. I'd rather—"
A sharp rap on the door of the navigating room, where we had gathered for an informal council of war, interrupted.
"Party of three civilians at the main exit port, Port Number One, sir," reported the sub-officer of the guard. "One sent his name: Carlos Inverness."
"Very good. Admit them at once, and recall the outer guards. We are leaving immediately."
As the guard saluted and hurried away, I nodded to Correy. "Have the operating room crew report for duty at once," I ordered, "and ask Sub-officer Scholey to superintend the sealing of the ports. Mr. Kincaide, will you take the first watch as navigating officer? Lift her easily until we determine our objective and can set a course; this is like shoving off with sealed orders."
"Worse," said Hendricks unhappily. "Sealed orders promise something interesting, and—"
"Carlos Inverness and party," announced the guard from the doorway.
Inverness nodded to me in friendly fashion and indicated his two companions.
"Commander Hanson," he said, "permit me to present Godar Tipene and Cleve Brady, who are my companions on this expedition." I bowed, and shook hands with Brady; Tipene was a Zenian, and hence did not offer me this greeting of Earth. Then, quickly, I completed the round of introductions, studying Inverness's companions with interest as I did so.

Brady was short, and rather red-faced; a beefy, taciturn type, with a trap-like mouth and thoughtful discerning eyes. He struck me as being one with whom most men would like to be friendly, but who would have exceedingly few friends.
The Zenian was a perfect foil for him. Tipene was exceedingly tall and slender, like all his race, and very dark. His eyes were almost womanly in their softness, and he had the nervous grace of a thoroughbred—which is an Earth animal of particularly high breeding, raised for show purposes. He had the happy faculty of speaking the language of Earth without a trace of Zenian or Universal accent; the Zenians are exceeded by none in linguistic ability, which was a real accomplishment before these decadent days when native languages are slipping so rapidly into obscurity.
"And now," said Inverness crisply, when the introductions were over, "I presume you'll wish to know something about our destination and the objects of this expedition, sir?"
"It would be helpful in charting our course," I admitted, smiling.
Inverness, with beautiful disregard for the necessities of space navigation, spread voluminous papers over the table whose surface was formed by the pair of three-dimensional charts which were the Ertak's eyes in outer space.
"Our destination," he said, "is a body designated on the charts as FX-31. You are familiar with it, Commander Hanson?"
"Hardly familiar," I admitted, smiling at Correy. "The universe is rather sizable, and even the named bodies are so numerous that one is able to be familiar with but an exceedingly small percentage. Its designation, of course, gives me certain information regarding its size, location and status, however."
"How much information, Commander?" asked Tipene nervously.
"Well, 'F' indicates that it is large; larger than Earth, for example. The numerals tells me where to locate it upon our space charts. And the 'X' would indicate that it is inhabited, but not by intelligent beings. Or that there is reasonable doubt as to the nature of those inhabiting it."
"A very good summary of the knowledge we have," nodded Inverness approvingly. "I can add but one bit of information which may or may not be accurate: that the sphere known as FX-31 is populated by a ruling class decidedly unusual in type, and possessed of a degree of intelligence which has made them virtual masters of the sphere."
"What are they like?" asked Correy. "Will they put up a fight? Are they dangerous?"

"Our knowledge came from a luckless tramp liner which set down on FX-31 in search of water, their water-producing equipment having been damaged by carelessness. They found water, a great river of it, and sent a party of five men to determine its fitness for human consumption. They were snapped up before they had gone a hundred feet from the ship—and no more men were sent out. They hovered over the stream and drew up the water in containers devised for the purpose."
"Snapped up?" asked Correy impatiently. "By whom? Or what?"
"By spiders!" replied Inverness, his eyes shining with the fanatical gleam of a scientist who scents something strange. "Great spiders—perhaps not true spiders, but akin to them, from the descriptions we have—of what is known on Earth as the trap-door variety, but possessed of a high degree of intelligence, the power of communication, and definitely organized."
"Organized," put in Tipene, "in the sense that they work together instead of individually; that there are those to command and those to obey."
"You say they are large," I commented. "How large?"
"Large enough," said Inverness grimly, "to enable one of them to instantly overpower a strong man."
I saw Correy glance forward, where our largest disintegrator-ray tubes were located, and his eyes lit up with the thought of battle.
"If there's anything I hate," he gritted, "it's a spider. The hairy, crawling beasts! I'll man one of the tubes myself, just for the fun of seeing them dissolve into nice brown dust, and—"
"I'm afraid not, Mr. Correy," said Inverness, shaking his head. "We're going to study them—not to exterminate them. Our object is to learn their history, their customs, their mode of communication, and their degree of intelligence—if possible."
"Yes," grunted Brady. "If possible."

Kincaide set the Ertak down on FX-31, close to the shore of a river, as gently as a feather settling to earth. Correy and I made our way to the exit port, where Inverness and his companions had gathered, with a considerable amount of scientific apparatus, and what seemed to be a boat, ingeniously taken down for shipment.
All three of the scientists were clad in suits of some gray material, flexible as cloth, but possessed of a certain metallic sheen, which completely covered them. The material had been stiffened to form a sort of helmet, with a broad band of transparent material set in at the eye level, so that the wearer could see to both sides, as well as to the front. I could also discern the outlines of menores—the crude and cumbersome type of thought-transference instrument used in that day—apparently built into the helmets. Belted around their middles were atomic pistols of the latest and most deadly model.
"For emergency use only, Commander," explained Inverness, observing my glance. His voice came quite clearly through the fabric which covered his face, so I gathered it was sufficiently porous to admit air for breathing. "This garment we wear will be sufficient protection, we believe; their mandibles are the weapons of the creatures we are to study, and this fabric should be ample protection against much more deadly weapons.
"Now, we shall walk to the shore of the river; if we are not molested—and I believe we shall not be, here, because the infiltration of water would quickly fill any passage sunk into this sandy earth so close to the river—please have your men bring our supplies to us, the boat first."
I nodded, and the three men walked through the open port, out across the gleaming, golden sand, to the water's edge. A number of great scarlet birds, with long, fiercely taloned legs, swooped about them curiously, croaking hoarsely and snapping their hawkish beaks, but offering no real molestation.
My men quickly carried their supplies to them, and before the last of the equipment had been delivered, the boat was assembled and afloat: a broad-beamed craft with hollow metal ribs, covered with some shining fabric which was unfamiliar to me. There was a small cabin forward and a small atomic engine housed back near the stern.
I walked to the edge of the water and shook hands with Inverness and Brady; with Tipene I exchanged bows.
"I am sorry," said Inverness, "that I am facing you with what will, undoubtedly, be a monotonous and wearying vigil, for we shall probably be gone several weeks." He referred, I must explain, to a period of seven Earth days, a common unit of time on Earth.
"We'll make the best of it," I said, thinking of Correy, and how he would rage at such a period of inaction. "The best of luck to you!"
"Thanks; we'll remain no longer than necessary," smiled Inverness, smiling, his shining eyes already fixed on the river ahead.
"And that will be no short time," said the taciturn Brady. "Shall we start?"

Correy raged. I had expected that, and I was in complete sympathy with him. Routine patrol was better than being earth-fast on this barren and uninteresting ball of mud.
"Have I your permission, sir," asked Correy on the fourth day, "to make a little tour of inspection and exploration? We might run into some fresh meat."
"I'm not sure that would be wise. These spider creatures—"
"Pardon me, sir," interrupted Correy eagerly, "but we could take a small landing force, armed with pistols and grenades. Even a field ray tube. Certainly we could handle anything which might turn up, then."
"And, you rather hope that something will turn up, Mr. Correy?"
Correy grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
"It would break the monotony, wouldn't it, sir? And, too, if anything should happen to them"—and he glanced up the river, in the direction taken by the three scientists—"we'd know something about what we had to contend with, wouldn't we?"
I'm not sure whether it was Correy's argument or my own venturesome disposition which swayed me, but immediately after lunch Correy and I, with a picked crew of men, started out from the ship.
Up until that time, we had confined our activities to the area between the ship and the shore—a small enough space at best. Now we rounded the shining blunt bow of the Ertak and headed inland, Correy and myself in the lead, the two portable disintegrator ray-men immediately behind us, and the four other men of the party flanking the ray operators, two on each side.
It was hot, but the air was dry and invigorating. There was not a cloud visible in the sky. Far ahead was a low line of bluish, fronded, vegetation; whether small trees or some fern-like undergrowth, we could not determine. The ground between the ship and the line of vegetation was almost completely barren, the only growth being a lichenous sort of vegetation, gray-green in color.

Here and there on the ground were the imprints of sharp, split hoofs, and Correy pointed these out to me with the comment that one of the guards had reported seeing a number of slender-legged animals roaming here in the star-light, apparently seeking water, but frightened by the strange apparition of our ship.
"From the way he described them, they're something like the deer we used to have on Earth," he said. "I've seen the fossils in the museums, and they had little sharp, split hoofs like—"
One of the men behind us shouted a warning at that instant, and we both whirled in our tracks. My eyes fell instantly upon one of the strangest and most fearsome sights I have ever seen—and I have explored many strange and terrible worlds.
To our left, a huge circular section of the earth had lifted, and was swinging back on a hinge of glistening white fibers; a disk as great in diameter as the height of a man, and as thick as a man's body.
Where the disk had been, gaped a tunnel slanting down into the earth, and lined with the same glistening white fibers which covered the bottom of the disk, and hinged it in place. As I looked, there sprang from this tunnel a thing which I shall call a spider, yet which was too monstrous to be called by such an innocuous name.
It was rust red in color, with eight bristling legs, each tipped with three curved and tufted claws. On each side of its face was an armored mandible, tipped with shining fangs, and beside them, slender, six-jointed palps stretched hungrily.
The man who had seen the disk fly up opened fire without orders, and if he had not done so, some of us would not have returned to the ship. As it was, the atomic pistol whispered a steady stream of death which spattered the hairy body into an oozing pulp while it was still in mid-air. We leaped away, adding our fire to that of the alert guard who had first seen the apparition, and the spider, a twitching bundle of bespattered legs, fell on the spot where, an instant before, we had been.
Almost at the same instant two other great circular trap-doors swung up, just beyond the first, and their hairy, malignant occupants leaped toward us.

Our pistols were ready, now, however, and the portable ray equipment was humming. The ray dissolved the first into a sifting of reddish dust, and our pistols slashed the other into ribbons.
"Back to the ship!" I shouted. "Look, Mr. Correy—there are hundreds of them!"
Before us score upon score of the great disks were lifting, and from the tunnel each revealed, monstrous rust-red bodies were pouring.
Our retreat covered by the two ray operators, we made our way swiftly to the ship. The great spiders, apparently alarmed by the magical disappearance of those of their comrades upon which the disintegrator ray rested, hesitated for a moment, their tremendous legs tensed, and their mandibles quivering with venomous anger, and then scuttled back into their holes, swinging their covers into place as they did so.
"We didn't do so badly, at that," grinned Correy rather breathlessly, as we gained the welcome shelter of the Ertak. "There are a score and more of those potlids still standing open—which means that many spiders didn't go back to tell about what happened to them."
"True—but had they waited until they could have surrounded us, the Ertak would have been short-handed on the return trip. She would have been just two officers and six men short."
I have never seen a real expression of fear on Correy's face, but I came as close to it then as I ever did.
"They're tough customers," he said. "I never did like spiders, and I like them less, now. Those things stood half again as high as a man on their long legs, and could jump half the length of the ship."
"Hardly that," I said. "But I'll say this: if they're the gentry Inverness and the other two are investigating, they're welcome to their jobs!"

There wasn't any difficulty in keeping the men close to the ship after that, although waiting was a tedious and nerve-racking procedure.
We watched the spider-infested territory closely, however, and found that they fed at night upon the deer-like creatures Correy had mentioned. These unwary beasts, seeking water, were pounced upon the instant they came close to one of the hidden dens, and dragged swiftly out of sight. These observations were made by television, and Correy in particular would sit up half the night watching the creatures at work.
It was the second day of the fourth week that the sentry on duty called out that the boat was returning. We hastened down to the river to welcome them back, and I for one felt very much relieved.
But as the boat approached, I felt my fears returning, for there was only one man visible: Tipene.
The Zenian, bedraggled and weary, had lost or discarded the protective suit he had worn, and his lean, dark face was haggard.
"We leave immediately, Commander Hanson," he said as he disembarked. "Please give the necessary orders."
"But the others, sir? Where are Inverness and Brady?"
"Dead," said Tipene. "The Aranians got them. I barely escaped myself."
"And who are the Aranians?" I asked.
"The creatures which control this world. The spider creatures. Aranians, they call themselves. Do we leave at once, as I ordered?"
I thought quickly. I didn't like Tipene, and never had, and I fancied even less the high-handed attitude he was taking.
"I would suggest, sir, that you first give us an account of what has happened," I said shortly. "If there is anything we can do for the other two, perhaps—"
"I said they were dead," snapped Tipene. "You can't do anything for dead men, can you?"
"No. But we must have a report to enter on our log, you understand, and—I'll be very busy on the return trip. I'd like to have your story before we start." Somehow, I was suspicious of Tipene.
"Very well. Although I warn you I shall report your delay to your superiors." I shrugged, and led the way to the dining saloon which, small as it was, held chairs enough to seat us all.

"My story is very brief," he said, when my three officers, Tipene, and myself were seated. "We proceeded up the river to a spot which we deemed suited as a point of entry into the country, and far enough from the ship so that its presence would not be alarming to the inhabitants.
"We permitted ourselves to be captured by the Aranians, knowing that our protective suits would prevent them from doing us serious bodily injury.
"You have seen the creatures—word of your adventure with them precipitated our misfortune, I might say here—and you know of their tunnels. We were taken down one of these tunnels, and into a still larger one. This in turn gave onto a veritable subterranean avenue, and, in time, led to a sort of underground metropolis."
"What?" growled Correy. "An underground city of those things?"
"I should like to ask that you do not interrupt," said Tipene coldly. "This metropolis was really no more than a series of cubicles, opening off the innumerable crisscrossing tunnels, and many layers in thickness. Passage from one level to another was by means of slanting tunnels.
"Some of these cubicles were very large, and utilized as storage rooms. Others were used for community activities, schools, entertainments, and so forth. We learned these things later, and explored them by means of our ethon lamps—the entire system of tunnels being, of course, in utter darkness.
"The first few days they were exceedingly hostile, and tried to tear us to pieces. When they could not do this, word was sent to some of their more learned members, and we were investigated. By the use of extra menores we had brought with us, we established a contact with their minds; first by the usual process of impressing pictures of our thoughts upon their minds, and later by more direct process."

"I will say nothing of the great scientific value of our discoveries, for you would neither understand nor appreciate them—although they will set the scientific universe agog," continued Tipene, his eyes gleaming suddenly with a triumphant light. "As we perfected communication, we convinced them that we were friendly, and we gained their complete confidence.
"They are a very ancient race. Very slowly have they come to their present stage of mental development, but they now possess reasoning faculties, a language—and a form of community government. There is much more, which, as I have said, would be of no significance to you.
"And then word came that beings like ourselves had attacked and killed many of the Aranians. The news had traveled slowly, for their system of communication is crude, but it reached the community center in which we were staying.
"Instantly, all was hostility. They felt they had been betrayed, and that we might betray them. Brady and Inverness, always rash and thoughtless, had discarded their protective suits, feeling sure they were perfectly safe, and they were torn to pieces.
"I, having a more scientific and cautious mind, doubting everything as a true scientific mind must, still wore my armor. By the liberal use of my pistol, I managed to fight my way to the surface, and to the boat. And now, Commander Hanson, will you start back, as I have ordered?"
I don't know what I would have said if I had not caught a peculiar glance from Correy, a glance accompanied by a significant, momentary closing of one eye (a gesture of Earth which means many things, and which is impossible to explain) and a slight nod.
"Very well, Mr. Tipene," I said shortly. "We'll start at once. Gentlemen, will you join me in the navigating room?"

Correy was the last to arrive in the navigating room, and when he came in his eyes were dancing.
"I've just transferred Tipene to another stateroom, sir," he said. "A specially equipped stateroom."
"You what?"
"If you'll give orders, sir, for an immediate start, I'll tell you all about it," chuckled Correy. "Tipene says he's worn out, and is going to retire as soon as we start. And when he does—we'll learn something."
I nodded to Kincaide, and he gave the general attention signal. In a few seconds the outer sentry was recalled, and the exit port had been sealed. Slowly, the Ertak lifted.
"Maybe I'm wrong, sir," said Correy then, "but I'm convinced that Tipene is lying. Something's wrong; he was in altogether too much of a hurry to get away.
"So, before I transferred him to the other stateroom, I concealed a menore under the mattress of his bunk, immediately under where his head will lie. It's adjusted to full strength, and I believe it will pick up enough energy to emanate what he's thinking about. We'll be in the next stateroom and see what we can pick up. How does that sound, sir?"
"Like something you'd cook up, Mr. Correy!" I said promptly. "And I believe, as you do, that if it works at all, we'll find out something interesting."
We equipped ourselves with menores, adjusted to maximum power, and silently filed into the stateroom adjacent to Tipene's.
He was moving about slowly, apparently undressing, for we heard first one boot and then another drop to the floor. And we could sense vague emanations, too faint to be intelligible, and unmistakably coming from him.
"Probably sitting on the edge of his bunk," whispered Correy. "When he lies down, it'll work like a charm!"
It did—almost too well. Suddenly we caught a strong emanation, in the Universal language.

"Surly individual, that Hanson—didn't like my giving orders—hurt his dignity. But I had my own way, and that's all that's important. Seemed to be suspicious—they all were. Maybe I was a bit urgent—but I was afraid—those damned Aranians might have changed their spidery minds.
"They can't be very intelligent—to think I'd come back with tribute to pay for the spiders that fool Hanson and his men killed. Why, the ship's rays could wipe them all out, drill a hole in the ground—they didn't realize that. Thought that by holding Brady and that conceited Inverness for hostages, they'd be safe—and I'd be idiotic enough to not see this chance to get all the glory of the expedition for myself—instead of sharing it with those two. You're a quick thinker, Tipene—the true, ruthless, scientific mind...."
I motioned for my officers to follow me, and we made our way, silent and grim-faced, to the navigating room.
"Nice, friendly lad, isn't he?" snarled Correy. "I thought there was something up. What are your plans, sir?"
"We'll go to the rescue of Inverness and Brady, of course. Mr. Correy, place Tipene under arrest, and bring him here at once. Mr. Kincaide, take over the ship; give orders to set her down where we were. And you, Mr. Hendricks, will take personal command of the forward ray tubes."
My officers sprang to obey orders, and I paced restlessly up and down the room, thinking. Just as the Ertak settled softly to earth, Correy returned with his prisoner. Two men stood on guard with drawn atomic pistols at the door.
"What's the meaning of this indignity, sir?" flared Tipene. He had dressed hurriedly, and was by no means an imposing spectacle. He drew himself up to his full height, and tried to look domineering, but there was fear in his eyes. "I shall report you—"
"You'll do no reporting, Tipene," I broke in coldly. "I'll do the reporting. You see, we know all about your little plan to desert your comrades, held by the Aranians as hostages, and to grasp all the glory of your findings for yourself. But—the plan doesn't work. We're going back."

Tipene's face drained a dirty yellow—a Zenian can never be actually pale.
"You ... how...." he floundered.
"A menore, under your pillow," I explained crisply. "But that doesn't matter, now. You will guide us to the spot where you found the Aranian city, and establish communication with the Aranians. When that's done, I'll give you further orders."
"And if I won't?" breathed Tipene, his teeth clenched in a shaking rage.
"But you will. Otherwise, we'll permit you to continue your explorations on this interesting little sphere—minus your protective suit."
Tipene stared at me with horror-stricken eyes. I think he saw that I meant exactly what I said—and I was not bluffing.
"I—I'll do it," he said.
"Then watch the river carefully," I ordered. "Kincaide, lift her just enough so we can get a good view of the river. Tipene will tell you where to set her down."
Navigating visually, Kincaide followed the winding course of the river, covering in a few minutes a distance it had taken the scientists a day to navigate.
"There—there is the place," said Tipene suddenly. "Just this side of the patch of vegetation."
"Very good. And remember what happens if you play any tricks," I nodded grimly. "Descend to within a few yards of the ground, Mr. Kincaide; we'll drop Tipene through the trap."
Correy hurried the prisoner away, and I ordered the trap in the bottom of the Ertak's hull to be opened.
"Now," I informed Tipene, "we'll let you down and you will establish communication with the Aranians. Tell them you have brought back, not tribute, but an enemy powerful enough to blast their entire city out of existence. It will be a simple matter for you to picture what an atomic grenade or one of the ship's rays will do. We'll arrange a little demonstration, if they're not convinced. And tell them that if they don't want to be wiped out, to bring Inverness and Brady to us, unharmed, as fast as their eight long legs will manage."
"They won't do it," whined Tipene. "They were very angry over the killing of those others. I'm just risking my life without the possibility of gain."
"You obey my orders, or you go down and stay there," I said abruptly. "Which?"
"I'll do as you say," he said, and the cage dropped with him swiftly.

As soon as he was on the ground he reached up and adjusted his menore, peering around anxiously. For several minutes nothing happened, and then, the length of the ship away, one of the great trap-doors flew open. Out of it came one of the spiders, not rust-red like those we had seen, but faded to a dirty yellow. Close behind him were two of the rust-red Aranians, which fell in one on each side of the yellow chap.
The first Aranian, I presumed—and rightly—was one of the old learned members of the race. As he scuttled closer to the cowering Tipene, I saw that, amidst the bristles which covered his head and thorax, was a menore.
The three great spiders approached the ship warily, watching it constantly with huge, glittering eyes. A safe distance away they paused, and the old one fixed his attention on Tipene.
Evidently, what Tipene emanated caused the old fellow to become very angry; I could see his legs quivering, and his withered old mandibles fairly clattered.
"He says he won't do it!" Tipene called up to me, excitedly. "Says we can't reach them underground, and that they'll kill their hostages if we try to harm them."
"Ask him if there are any tunnels between the ship and the river," I commanded. "We'll demonstrate what we can do if he harms Inverness and Brady."
The two were in silent communion for a moment, and Tipene looked up and shook his head.
"No," he shouted. "No tunnels there. The water would seep into them."
"Then tell him to watch!"
I stepped back and pressed an attention signal.
"Mr. Hendricks?"
"Yes, sir!"
"Open up with the starboard tube, full power, concentrated beam, at any spot halfway between here and the river. At once."
"At once, sir!"

The ray generators hummed instantly, their note deepening a moment later. The ray bit into the dry, sandy soil, boring steadily into the earth, making an opening over twice the height of a man in diameter.
The fine, reddish-brown dust of disintegration hung swirling above the mouth of the tunnel at first, and then, as the ray cut deeper into the earth, settled quickly and disappeared.
"Cease operation, Mr. Hendricks!" I commanded. "Keep the generators on, and stand by for further orders."
As soon as Hendricks' quick acknowledgment came back, I called down to Tipene.
"Tell your friend to inspect the little hole we drilled," I said. "Tell him to crawl down into it, if he wishes to see how deep it is. And then inform him that we have several ray tubes like this one, and that if he does not immediately produce his hostages, unharmed, we'll rise above his city and blast out a crater big enough to bury theErtak."
Tipene nodded and communicated with the aged Aranian, who had cowered from the shaft in the earth disintegrated by our ray, and who now, very cautiously, approached it, flanked by his two far from eager guards.
At the lip of the slanting tunnel he paused, peered downward, and then, circling cautiously, approached the lidded tunnel whence he had emerged.
"He agrees," Tipene called up sullenly. "He will deliver Inverness and Brady to us. But we must come and get them; he says they have barricaded themselves in one of the cubicles, and will not permit any Aranian to approach. They still have their atomic pistols; the Aranians did not realize they were weapons."
"Very well; tell him a party from the ship will be ready in a few seconds. You will go with us as interpreter; you understand how to communicate with them."

I pressed Correy's attention signal and he answered instantly.
"Pick five good men for a landing party, two of them portable disintegrator ray operators, with equipment. The others will be provided with ethon lamps, pistols, and atomic grenades. Get the men to the trap as quickly as possible, please."
"Immediately, sir!"
I had the cage drawn up, and by the time I had secured my own equipment and returned, Correy was waiting with his men.
"One second, Mr. Correy, and we'll leave," I said, calling the navigating room. "Mr. Kincaide, I'm leaving you in command. We are going into the Aranian city to pick up Inverness and Brady. I anticipate no trouble, and if there is no trouble, we shall return within an hour. If we are not back within three hours, blast this entire area with atomic grenades, and riddle it with the rays. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir," said Kincaide.
"And then proceed immediately to Base and report. I have made an entry in the log regarding this expedition, as official evidence, if needed."
"Right, sir," said Kincaide, who was as near a perfect officer as I have ever seen.
"Mr. Correy, you've heard my orders. So have you, men. We're going underground, into a veritable warren of these spider creatures. If any of you wish to refuse this service, you have my permission to withdraw."
Not a man moved. Correy hardly repressed a grin. He knew the men he had picked for the job.
"Good!" I said, and signaled to the cage operator. Swiftly we dropped to earth, where Tipene and our three hairy guides awaited us.

The descent into the white-lined tunnel was a terrifying experience. The lining was tough and fibrous, a sort of coarse material corresponding to the silk of a spider of normal size, although these strands were as large as my little finger, and strong as cables.
A close inspection of our guides added nothing to my confidence or bravery; their eight beady eyes, set at strategic spots about their heads, seemed unwinkingly ominous. And their mandibles, with fangs folded back like the blades of a pocket-knife, paired with their bristly palps, seemed like very capable weapons.
The Aranians ran ahead of us, our ethon lamps making strange and distorted shadows on the curving walls of the tunnel. Correy and I herded the unwilling Tipene just ahead of us, and the five picked men brought up the rear.
About forty feet down, the floor of the tunnel curved sharply and leveled off; a short distance farther on a number of other level tunnels merged with it, and the shape changed; from a tube perfectly circular in cross-section, it became a flattened oval, perhaps half again the height of a man, and at least three times that dimension in width.
Our party was joined by scores of other Aranians, who darted in from side passages; some going ahead, some closing in behind us, until the tunnel was filled with the peculiar brittle sound of their walking.
"They don't lack for numbers," muttered Correy softly. "Think they'll make trouble, sir?"
"Your guess is as good as mine. I showed them what the ray would do; I believe it threw a scare into the old chap. Did you tell them what we would do if they played any tricks, Tipene?"
"Certainly; my own life is endangered, isn't it?" snapped the Zenian.
"It certainly is," I told him grimly. "And not only by the spiders, if you make any suspicious moves."

We went on without further conversation, until we came to the beginning of the cubicles Tipene had mentioned.
Each of these was closed, or could be closed, by a circular door such as those which concealed the outer entrance to the tunnels, save that these were swung on a side hinge. From the central passage we were following, smaller ones branched off in all directions: to the left, to the right; upward and downward. And all were lined with the cubicles, from which a constantly increasing army of Aranians emerged to accompany us.
We had gone but a short distance into the "city" when our ancient guide paused, turning to stare down a deserted passage.
"He says," grunted Tipene—as near a grunt as the high-pitched Zenian voice is capable of, "that they're down there. He asks that we go and get them; he is afraid. They have killed two of the Aranians already with their atomic pistols."
"For which I don't blame them in the least," said Correy. "I'd get as many as I could before I let them sink their mandibles into me."
"But I thought they were hostages, and being treated as such?"
"The Aranians got tired of waiting; some of the younger ones tried to do their own executing," explained Tipene. "The whole brood of them is in an ugly mood, the old fellow tells me. We were fools to come!"
I didn't argue the matter. You can't argue such a matter with a man like Tipene. Instead, I lifted my voice in a shout which echoed down the long corridors.
"Brady! Inverness! Can you hear us?"
For a moment there was no reply, and then, as our ethon lights played hopefully along the passage, a circular door opened, and Inverness, his pistol drawn, peered out at us. A moment later, both he and Brady were running toward us.
"Hanson!" cried Inverness. "Man, but we're glad to see a human face again—but why did you come? Now they've got us all."
"But they'll let us all go," I said, with a confidence I did not feel. "I've demonstrated to one of their leaders just what the Ertak can do—and will do—if we aren't aboard, safe and unhurt, in three hours."
"The young bloods don't obey well, though," said Brady, shaking his head. "Look at them, milling around there in the central passage! They didn't see your demonstration, whatever it was. They started for us some time back, and we had to rip a couple of them to pieces, and barricade ourselves."
"Well," said Correy grimly, "we'll soon find out. Ready to start back, sir?"

I turned to Tipene, who was staring at the packed mass of Aranians, who choked the tunnel in both directions.
"Tell them to make way," I commanded. "We're leaving."
"I've—I've been in communication with him," moaned Tipene. "And he hasn't any power over these youngsters. They want blood. Blood! They say the ship won't dare do anything so long as so many of us are here."
"It will, though," I snapped. "Kincaide will obey my orders to the letter. It'll be a wholesale slaughter, if we're not there by the specified time."
"I know! I know!" groaned Tipene. "But I can't make them understand that. They can't appreciate the meaning of such discipline."
"I believe that," put in Brady. "Their state of society is still low in the scale. You shouldn't have come, Commander. Better the two of us than the whole group."
"It may not be so simple as they think. Mr. Correy, shall we make a dash for it?"
"I'd be in favor of that, sir!" he grinned.
"Very well, you take three of the enlisted men, Mr. Correy, and give us a brisk rear-guard action when we get into the main passage—if we do. Use the grenades if you have to, but throw them as fast as possible, or we'll have the roof coming down on us.
"The two ray operators and myself will try to open a way, backed up by Inverness and Brady. Understand, everybody?" The men took the places I had indicated, nodding, and we stood at the mouth of the side tunnel, facing the main passage which intersected it at a right angle. The mouth of the passage was blocked by a crowded mass of the spider creatures, evidently eager to pounce on us, but afraid to start an action in those narrow quarters.
As we came toward them, the Aranians packed about the entrance gave way grudgingly, all save two or three. Without an instant's hesitation, I lifted my pistol and slashed them into jerking pulp.
"Hold the ray," I ordered the two men by my side, "until we need it. They'll get a surprise when it goes into action."

We needed it the moment we turned into the main corridor, for here the passage was broad, and in order to prevent the creatures from flanking us, we had to spread our front and rear guards until they were no more than two thin lines.
Seeing their advantage, the Aranians rushed us. At a word from me, the ray operators went into action, and I did what I could with my comparatively ineffective pistol. Between us, we swept the passage clean as far as we could see—which was not far, for the reddish dust of disintegration hung in the quiet air, and the light of our ethonlamps could not pierce it.
For a moment I thought we would have clear sailing; Correy and his men were doing fine work behind us, and our ray was sweeping everything before us.
Then we came to the first of the intersecting passages, and a clattering horde of Aranians leaped out at us. The ray operators stopped them, but another passage on the opposite side was spewing out more than I could handle with my pistol.
Two of the hairy creatures were fairly upon me before the ray swung to that side and dissolved them into dust. For an instant the party stopped, checked by these unexpected flank attacks.
And there would be more of these sallies from the hundreds of passages which opened off the main corridor; I had no doubt of that. And there the creatures had us: our deadly ray could not reach them out ahead; we must wait until we were abreast, and then the single ray could work upon but one side. Correy needed every man he had to protect our rear, and my pistol was not adequate against a rush at such close quarters. That fact had just been proved to me with unpleasant emphasis.
It was rank folly to press on; the party would be annihilated.
"Down this passage, men," I ordered the two ray operators. "We'll have to think up a better plan."
They turned off into the passage they had swept clean with their ray, and the rest of the party followed swiftly. A few yards from the main corridor the passage turned and ran parallel to the corridor we had just left. Doors opened off this passage on both sides, but all the doors were open, and the cubicles thus revealed were empty.

"Well, sir," said Correy, when we had come to the dead end of the passage, "now what?"
"I don't know," I confessed. "If we had two ray machines, we could make it. But if I remember correctly, it's seven hundred yards, yet, to the first of the tunnels leading to the surface—and that means several hundred side passages from which they can attack. We can't make it."
"Well, we can try again, anyway, sir," Correy replied stoutly. "Better to go down fighting than stay here and starve, eh?"
"If you'll pardon me, gentlemen," put in Inverness, "I'd like to make a suggestion. We can't return the way we came in; I'm convinced of that. It was the sheerest luck that Commander Hanson wasn't brought down a moment ago—luck, and excellent work on the part of the two ray operators.
"But an analysis of our problem shows that our real objective is to reach the surface, and that need not be done the most obvious way, by returning over the course by which we entered."
"How, then?" I asked sharply.
"The disintegrator ray you have there should be able to cut a passage for us," said Inverness. "Then all we need do is protect our rear while the operators are working. Once on the surface, we'll be able to fight our way to the ship, will we not?"
"Of course! You should be in command, Inverness, instead of myself." His was the obvious solution to our difficulty; once proposed, I felt amazingly stupid that the thought had not occurred to me.
I gave the necessary orders to the ray men, and they started immediately, boring in steadily at an angle of about forty-five degrees.
The reddish dust came back to us in choking clouds, and the Aranians, perhaps guessing what we were doing—at least one of their number had seen how the ray could tunnel in the ground—started working around the angle of the passage.

At first they came in small groups, and our pistols readily disposed of them, but as the dust filled the air, and it became increasingly difficult to see their spidery bodies, they rushed us in great masses.
Correy and I, shoulder to shoulder, fired at the least sign of movement in the cloud of dust. A score of times the rushes of the Aranians brought a few of them scuttling almost to our feet; inside of a few minutes the passage was choked, waist high, with the riddled bodies—and still they came!
"We're through, sir!" shouted one of the ray operators. "If you can hold them off another fifteen minutes, we'll have the hole large enough to crawl through."
"Work fast!" I ordered. Even with Inverness, Brady, and the three of the Ertak's crew doing what they could in those narrow quarters, we were having a hard time holding back the horde of angry, desperate Aranians. Tipene was useless; he was cowering beside the ray operators, chattering at them, urging them to hurry.
Had we had good light, our task would have been easy, but the passage was choked now with dust. Our ethon lamps made little more than a dismal glow. The clattering Aranians were almost within leaping distance before we could see them; indeed, more than one was stopped in mid-air by a spray from one pistol or another.
"Ready, sir," gasped the ray man who had spoken before. "I think we've got it large enough, now."
"Good!" I brought down two scuttling Aranians, so close that their twitching legs fell in an untidy heap almost at my feet. "You go first, and protect our advance. Then the rest of you; Mr. Correy and I will bring up the—"
"No!" screamed Tipene, shouldering aside the ray men. "I...." He disappeared into the slanting shaft, and the two ray men followed quickly. The three members of the crew went next; then Brady and Inverness.
Correy and I backed toward the freshly cut passage.
"I'll be right behind you," I snapped, "so keep moving!"

Correy hesitated an instant; I knew he would have preferred the place of danger as the last man, but he was too good an officer to protest when time was so precious. He climbed into the slanting passage the ray had cut for us, and as he did so, I heard, or thought I heard, a cry from beyond him, from one of those ahead.
I gave Correy several seconds before I followed; when I did start, I planned on coming fast, for in that shoulder-tight tube I would be utterly at the mercy of any who might attack from behind.
Fairly spraying the oncoming horde, I drove them back, for a moment, beyond the angle in the corridor; then I fairly dived into the tunnel and crawled as fast as hands and knees could take me toward the blessed open air.
I heard the things clatter into the space I had deserted. I heard them scratching frantically in the tunnel behind me, evidently handicapped by their long legs, which must have been drawn up very close to their bodies.
Light came pouring in on me suddenly, and I realized that Correy had won free. Behind me I could hear savage mandibles snapping, and cold sweat broke out on me. How close a terrible death might be, I had no means of knowing—but it was very close.
My head emerged; I drew my body swiftly out of the hole and snatched a grenade from my belt. Instantly I flung it down the slanting passage, with a shout of warning to my companions.
With a muffled roar, the grenade shook the earth; sent a brown cloud spattering around us. I had made a desperate leap to get away, but even then I was covered by the shower of earth.
I looked around. Trapdoors were open everywhere, and from hundreds of these openings, Aranians were scuttling toward us.
But the ray operators were working; not only the little portable machine, but the big projectors on the Ertak, five or six hundred yards away; laying down a deadly and impassable barrage on either side of us.
"They got Tipene, sir!" said Correy. "He dodged out ahead of the ray men, and two of them pounced on him. They were dragging him away, tearing him. The ray men wiped them out. Tipene was already dead—torn to fragments, they said. Back to the ship now, sir?"
"Back to the ship," I nodded, still rather breathless. "Let the ray men cover our retreat; we can take care of those between us and the ship with our pistols—and theErtak's projectors will attend to our flanks. On the double, men!"
We fought every step of the way, in a fog of reddish dust from the big disintegrator rays playing on either side of us—but we made it, a torn, weary, and bedraggled crew.
"Quite an engagement, sir," gasped Correy, when we were safely inside the Ertak. "Think they'll remember this little visit of ours, sir?"
"I know we'll remember it, anyway," I said, shaking some of the dust of disintegration from my clothes. "Just at the moment, I'd welcome a tour of routine patrol."
"Sure, sir," grinned Correy. "So would I—until we were a day or two out from Base!"