(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Fate of the Poseidonia"



MVENTION - RADIO I III NU? S - MONEY MAI AD! I >0 



r 




JULES VERNE'S TOMBSTONE AT AMIENS 
PORTRAYING HIS IMMORTALITY 





Vol. 2 No. 3 
June, 1927 



EDITORIAL & GENERAL OFFICES: 230 Fifth Ave.. New York Clt 
Published by Experimenter Publishing Company, Inc. 

(H. Gernsback, Pres. ; S. Gernsbaek, Treas. ; R. W. DeMott. Sec'y 

Publishers of SCIENCE & INVENTION. RADIO NEWS. 
AMAZING STORIES, RADIO REVIEW. RADIO INTERNACIONAI 

Owners of Broadcast Station WRNY. 



Contents for June 

The Visitation 

By Cyril G. Watts 214 

The Electronic Wall 

By Geo. R. Fox 234 

The Fate of the Poseidonia 

By Clare Winger Harris 245 

The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham 
By H. G. Wells - 253 

The Lost Comet 

By Ronald M. Sherin 260 

* 

Solander's Radio Tomb 

By Ellis Parker Butler 268 

The Moon Pool (A Serial in 3 parts) 
(Part' II) 

By A. Merritt 272 

* 

The Four-Dimensional Roller-Press 

By Bob Olsen 302 

Our Cover 

this month illustrates a scene from "The Moon Pool," by A. 
Merritt. in which Larry, the American-Irishman, proves his 
true friendship and heroism, when, with automatic poised, he 
steps between Olaf and The Shining One, just as that sinister 
thing is about to grasp the Norseman with its shining tentacle. 



— , — , — _ — it 

In Our Next Issue: r 

THE ETHER SHIP OF OLTOR, by S. Maxwell 
Coder, the first honorable mention cover contest j 
story, which deals with Venus and a war there. A ' 
fine, spontaneous and original story, and it fol-f 
lows the illustration conscientiously. * 

THE VOICE FROM THE INNER WORLD, by | j 

A. Hyatt Verrill. This story has won second honor-|i 
able mention and the writer, who is by this time well* 
known to our readers, treats these strange people as J 
ferocious female cannibals — making it a somewhat f 
gruesome narrative. ^ 

THE LOST CONTINENT, by Cecil B. White. \ 

Third honorable mention story. Some thoughts on.! 
the fourth-dimension and a trip centuries back in 
time are very cleverly worked into the subject of tht t 
illustration. A clever, original story, well told. 

THE GRAVITOMOBILE, by D. B. McRae, 
awarded the fourth honorable mention, again treats \ 
the subject of the illustration in a quite individual 
manner. It starts in Mexico, goes to Mars, and ends 
— well, very unexpectedly. 

THE SHADOW OF THE SPARK, by Edward 
S. Sears. To possess perfect health and a robust 
physique, does not mean that death from shock is 
impossible. On the other hand, if such a person 
dies, apparently from the effect of an operation for 
the amputation of a leg, some suspicion as to the 
real cause of his death is justifiable. Our new 
author weaves his science through this unusual 
murder story in a thoroughly ingenious manner. 

THE MOON POOL, by A. Merritt (Conclusion). 
The third and final instalment carries "vou into the 
realms of the mysterious Three and the Silent One. 
The author very ingeniously depicts a war, effec- 
tively fought, between the two underground factions, 
with weapons entirely new and astounding. The 
story becomes more and more exciting and interest- 
ing chapter by chapter. 






HiitiimiiiiMmniTTinniiTPiin n inTi i Tmi m nimmiiinimiinni'iHiniimiinmtmTimtHiiuMHiiiniMiimiiTiniiTniniiinninniiiiiiii iiiiiiiii TTni 

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE FOR "AMAZING STORIES." Send your name, 
address and remittance to Experimenter Publishing Co.. 230 Fifth Are.. 
New York City. Cheeks and money orders should be made payable to Ex- 
perimenter Publishing Co., Inc. Mention the name of the magazine you 
are ordering Inasmuch as wo also publish RADIO NEWS, SCIENCE & 
INTENTION. RADIO REVIEW and RADIO INTERNACIONAL. Sub- 
scriptions may be made in combination with the other publications just 



rniruiiiiiuimimiiiiintiminrirTnirmii 



i nit n t m n 1 1 fniinrn » 



tititniniutnimiMiiiiHiiiiMiiiiii)ii<TTMitiii>ittM>iiiinii;iniir 



mentioned at special reduced club rates. Send postal for club rnte card. 
■Subs cript ions start with the current issue unless otherwise ordered. 
ON EXPIRATION of your subscription we enclose a renewal blank in ou. 
last number to you, and notify you by mall. Then, unless we receive your 
order and remittance for a renewal, delivery of the magazine is stopped 
CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Notify us as far In advance as possible. gW 
Ing your old address as well as the new one to which future magazines 
to go. It takes several weeks to make an address change in our recordr 



gnmmnninniimfffmn-froiniiimiTOiniiiiiw^^ iiamimiiiiiiiiitiini 



In 



month, 
year in 



s 



AMAZING STORIES is published on the 5th of each preeedi 

There are 12 numbers per year. Subscription price is $2.50 a 

V. S. and possessions. Canada and foreign countries $3.00 a year. I. 

coin as well as U. S. stumps accepted (no foreign coin or stamps) Single 

All Communications and contributions to this journal should be addressed 
to Editor AMAZING STOlUBS. 230 Fifth Ave.. New York N. T. Un- 
accepted contributions cannot be returned unless full postage has been In- 
cluded. ALL accepted contributions are paid for on publication. 



AMAZING STORIES. Monthly. Entered as second class matter March 
1926. by the Post Office at New York. N. T. ( under the act of March 
1879. Title Registered V. S. Patent Office. Copyright. 1927. bv E. 
Co., Inc., New York. The text and illustrations of this Magazine 
copyrighted and must not be reproduced without giving full credit to 
publication. AMAZING STORIES is for sale at all newsstands in 
United States and Canada. European Agents, S. J. Wise Et Cle. 40 P1b 
Verte. Antwerp, Belgium. Printed In U. S. A. 



General Advertising Dept., 230 Fifth Avenue, New York City. 

ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES 



I,. F. McCLURE. 720 Cass Street. Chicago. 111. 

DAYIES, DILLON & KELLY, 15 West 10th St.. Kansas City. Mo. 

T. F. MAGRANE, Park Square Bldg.. Boston. Mass. 



HARRY E. HYDE, 543 Drexel Building. Philadelphia. Pa. 

A. J. NORRIS HILL CO.. 5 Third St.. San Francisco. Calif. 

412 West 6th St.. Los Angeles. Calif. 



210 




\ 





THE 



JUNE, 1927 
No. 3 



MAGAZINE 

OF 

SCIENTIFICTION 



HUGO GERNSBACK, Editor ' WILBUR C. WHITEHEAD, Literary Editor 

DR. T. O'CONOR SLOANE, Ph.D. ; Associate Editor C. A. BRANDT, Literary Editor 

Editorial and General Offices: 230 Fifth Avenue, New York, N, Y. 



Extravagant Fiction Today ------- Cold Fact Tomorrow 



THE $500 COVER PRIZE CONTEST 



By HUGO GERNSBACK 




THE SUBJECT 

OF OUR 

$500.00 

PRIZE CONTEST 



N finally announcing the prize winners in the $500 
Prize Contest, an interesting chapter in the young 
life of "AMAZING STORIES" has been brought to 
a successful close. To those of our readers who 
have not seen or heard about this prize contest, 
let us briefly state that, on our December, 1926, 
cover a picture was shown, around which a story 
of not more than 10,000 words was to be written. 
The picture was purely fanciful and you will find it 
reproduced herewith. Not only was it highly fanciful, but fan- 
tastic as well, and our readers were asked to base upon it a 
suitable story that would be not only plausible but possible. 
The story was to be of the jscienti fiction type, and was to con- 
tain correct scientific facts "to make it appear plausible and 
within the realm of present-day 
knowledge of science. 

The contest may be said to 
have been a very successful one. 
Some 360 stories were actually 
received by the editors and our 
readers may rest assured that it 
""was not a simple matter to come 
to a decision, because many 
worthwhile stories were submit- 
ted. There were to be three 
prizes, totaling $500, as follows: 
First Prize, $250. Second Prize, 
$150, Third Prize, $100. The 

prize winning stories werei- 
First Prize, "The Visita 1 ^ 
by Cyril G. Wates, 9453-1 oua 
Ave., Edmonton, Alta, Canada. 

Second Prize, "The Electronic 
Wall," by Geo. R. Fox, Three 
Oaks, Michigan. 

Third Prize, "The Fate of the 
Poseidonia," by Mrs. F. C. Har- 
ris, 1652 Lincoln Avenue, Lake- 
wood, Ohio. 

The three stories mentioned 
above are printed complete in 
this issue, while four further 
ones, which were awarded hon- 
orable mention, will be published 
in future issues. The four stor- 
ies which were awarded honor- 
able mention were the following: 

First Honorable Mention — 
"The Ether Ship of Oltor," by 
S. Maxwell Coder, 6926 Paschall 
Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 



nmimmtiiimmiiiminiiii 





Second Honorable Mention — "The Voice from the Inner 
World," by A. Hyatt Verrill, Box 118, Station "W\ New York 
City. 

Third Honorable Mention — "The Lost Continent," by Cecil B. 
White, 1949 Crescent Road, Foul Bay, Victoria, B. C, 
Canada. 

Fourth Honorable Mention — "The Gravitomobile," by D. B. 
McRae. 392 "E" Street, San Bernardino, California. 

You might think that seven stories inspired by the same pic- 
ture would of necessity be alike. We were very much astonished 
to find that such was not the case, and you will be delighted, 
as were the editors, to find the wide divergence of interest in 
the seven stories. They certainly could not be more totally unlike 
if we had specified that as one of the prize-winning requirements. 

Of course in each story there 
is the suspended ship and the 
ball-like space flyer, but that is 
about all they have in common. 
Furthermore, the treatment in 
each case is different for no two 
authors treated even this subject 
alike. In the three stories you 
will find not only good fiction, 
that keeps your interest, but 
good science as well. You will 
find that the authors have given 
careful thought to the smallest 
details and particularly to the 
vital scientific parts. 

We are certain that you will 
hear more from the prize-win- 
ning authors. All of them have 
the makings of future scientific-; 
tion writers. 

We would also like very much 
to have our readers' comments 
on the prize- winning stories, 
and the editors would like to 
know if they, as judges would 
have awarded the prizes in the 
order given. For that reason 
we have changed the voting cou- 
pon for this month to take care 
of this phase. 

Of course the prizes will be 
paid as announced here, but if 
the readers should vote differ- 
ently, their findings will be given 
in an early issue of "AMAZING 
STORIES." 



MHlitll !!■ ttl ■>!€*< UiMtl **■ It! -llli I t 



nnnnrnrnnnmHHinmiiiiitiiinNiitrif.iiiiiiiiiHfiiiMmitiiiiiiiiji iHimmfamimmmrennilim ui nii iuui i u mmiifmmmnmmmmnmuinimmiirtii imnutmminKinmnnnmuiuMlBBBn 

Mr. Hugo Gemsback speaks every Monday at 9 P. M. from WRNY on various scientific and radio subjects. 

213 



Third Prize Winner in the $500 Prize Cover 

Contest 

Third Prize of $100.00 awarded to Mrs. F. G. Harris, 1652 Lincoln Avenue, 

Lakewood, Ohio, for "The Fate of the Poseidonia" 




• • . and before my startled vision a scene presented itself. I seemed to be inside a bamboo hut looking: toward an open- 
ing which afforded a glimpse of a wave- washed sandy beach and a few palm trees. • • . While my fascinated gaze dwelt 
on the scene before me, a shadow fell athwart the hut's entrance and the figure of a man came toward me. 

The FATE of the POSEIDONIA 

By CLARE WINGER HARRIS 




HE first moment I laid eyes on Martell I 
took a great dislike to the man. There 
sprang up between us an antagonism 
that as far as he was concerned might 
have remained passive, but which cir- 
cumstances forced into activity on my side. 

How distinctly I recall . 

the occasion of our meet- 
ing at the home of Pro- 
fessor Stearns, head of 
the Astronomy depart- 
ment of Austin College. 
The address which the 
professor proposed giving 
before the Mentor Club 
of which I was a member, 
was to be on the subject 
of the planet, Mars. The 
spacious front rooms of 
the Stearns home were 
crowded for the occasion. 



HTHAT the third prise tvinner should prove to be a 
woman was one of the surprises of the contest, for, 
as a rule, women do not make good scientifiction writers, 
because their education and general tendencies on sci- 
entific matters are usually limited. But the exception, 
OS usual, proves the rule, the exception in this case be- 
ing extraordinarily impressive. The story has a great 
deal of charm, chiefly because it is not overburdened 
with science, but whatever science is contained therein 
is not only quite palatable, but highly desirable, due to its 
plausibility. Not only this, but you will find that the 
author is a facile writer who keeps your interest unto 
the last line. We hope to see more of Mrs. Harris's 
scientifiction in Amazing Stories. 




with rows of chairs, and at the end of the double 
parlors a screen was erected for the purpose of 
presenting telescopic views of the ruddy planet in 
its various aspects. 

As I entered the parlor after shaking hands w^th 
my hostess, I felt, rather than saw, an unfamiliar 
presence, and the impression I received involuntar- 
ily was that of antipathy. 
What I saw was the pro- 
fessor himself engaged in 
earnest conversation with 
a stranger. Intuitively I 
knew that from the latter 
emanated the hostility of 
which I was definitely 
conscious. 

He was a man of slight- 
ly less than average 
height. At once I noticed 
that he did not appear 
exactly normal physically 
and yet I could not 



245 



246 



AMAZING STORIES 



ascertain in what way he was deficient- It was not 
until I had passed the entire evening in his company 
that I was fully aware of his bodily peculiarities. 
Perhaps the most striking characteristic was the 
swarthy, coppery hue of his flesh that was not unlike 
that of an American Indian. His chest and should- 
ers seemed abnormally developed, his limbs and feat- 
ures extremely slender in proportion. Another 
peculiar individuality was the wearing of a skull- 
cap pulled well down over his forehead. 

Professor Stearns caught my eye, and with a 
friendly nod indicated his desire that I meet the new 
arrival. 

"Glad to see you, Mr. Gregory," he said warmly 
as he clasped my hand. "I want you to meet Mr, 
Martell, a stranger in our town, but a kindred spirit, 
in that he is interested in Astronomy and particu- 
larly in the subject of my lecture this evening." 

I extended my hand to Mr. Martell and imagined 
that he responded to my salutation somewhat reluc- 
tantly. Immediately I knew why. The texture of 
the skin was most unusual. For want of a better 
simile, I shall say that it felt not unlike a fine dry 
sponge. I do not believe that I betrayed any visible 
surprise, though inwardly my whole being revolted. 
The deep, close-set eyes of the stranger seemed 
searching me for any manifestation of antipathy, 
but I congratulate myself that my outward poise 
Was undisturbed by the strange encounter. 

The guests assembled, and I discovered to my 
chagrin that I was seated next to the stranger, Mar- 
tell. Suddenly the lights were extinguished pre- 
paratory to the presentation of the lantern-slides. 
The darkness that enveloped us was intense. Su- 
preme horror gripped me when I presently became 
conscious of two faint phosphorescent lights to my 
right. There could be no mistaking their origin. 
They were the eyes of Martell and they were re- 
garding me with an enigmatical stare. Fascinated, 
I gazed back into those diabolical orbs with an emo- 
tion akin to terror. I felt that I should shriek and 
then attack their owner. But at the precise mo- 
ment when my usually steady nerves threatened to 
betray me, the twin lights vanished. A second later 
the lantern light flashed on the screen. I stole a 
furtive glance in the direction of Martell. He was 
sitting with his eyes closed. 

"The planet Mars should be of particular interest 
to us," began Professor Stearns, "not only because 
of its relative proximity to us, but because of the 
fact that there are visible upon its surface undeni- 
able evidences of the handiwork of man, and I am 
inclined to believe in the existence of mankind there 
not unlike the humanity of the earth." 

The discourse proceeded uninterruptedly. The 
audience remained quiet and attentive, for Profes- 
sor Stearns possessed the faculty of holding his lis- 
teners spell-bound. A large map of one hemisphere 
of Mars was thrown on the screen, and simultan- 
eously the stranger Martell drew in his breath 
sharply with a faint whistling sound. 

The professor continued, "Friends, do you observe 
that the outstanding physical difference between 
Mars and Terra appears to be in the relative dis- 
tribution of land and water? On our own globe the 
terrestrial parts lie as distinct entities surrounded 
by the vast aqueous portions, whereas, on Mars the 
land and water are so intermingled by gulfs, bays, 



capes and peninsulas that it requires careful study 
to ascertain for a certainty which is which. It is 
my opinion, and I do not hold it alone, for much dis- 
cussion with my worthy colleagues has made it obvi- 
ous, that the peculiar land contours are due to the 
fact that water is becoming a very scarce commodity 
on our neighboring planet. Much of what is now 
land is merely the exposed portions of the one-time 
ocean bed; the precious life-giving fluid now occupy- 
ing only the lowest depressions. We may conclude 
that the telescopic eye, when turned on Mars, sees 
a waning world; the habitat of a people struggling 
desperately and vainly for existence, with inevitable 
extermination facing them in the not far distant 
future. What will they do? If they are no farther 
advanced in the evolutionary stage than a carrot or 
a jelly-fish, they will ultimately succumb to fate, but 
if they are men and women such as you and I, they 
will fight for the continuity of their race. I am 
inclined to the opinion that the Martians will not 
die without putting up a brave struggle, -which will 
result in the prolongation of their existence, but 
not in their complete salvation." 

Professor Stearns paused. "Are there any ques- 
tions?" he asked. 

I was about to speak when the voice of Martell 
boomed in my ear, startling me. 

"In regard to the map, professor," he said, "I 
believe that gulf which lies farthest south is not a 
gulf at all but is a part of the land portion sur- 
rounding it. I think you credit the poor dying 
Dlanet with even more water than it actually has!" 

"It is possible and even probable that I have 
erred," replied the learned man, "and I am sorry 
indeed if that gulf is to be withdrawn from the 
credit of the Martians, for their future must look 
very black." 

"Just suppose," resumed Martell, leaning toward 
the lecturer with interested mien^ "that the Mar- 
tians were the possessors of an intelligence equal to 
that of terrestrials, what might they do to save 
themselves from total extinction? In other words 
to bring it home to us more realistically, what would 
we do were we threatened with a like disaster?" 

'That is a very difficult question to answer, and 
one upon which merely an opinion could be ven- 
tured," smiled Professor Stearns. " 'Necessity is 
the mother of invention', and in our case without 
the likelihood of the existence of the mother, we can 
hardly hazard a guess as to the nature of the 
offspring. But always, as Terra's resources have 
diminished, the mind of man has discovered substi- 
tutes. There has always been a way out, and let us 
hope our brave planetary neighbors will succeed in 
solving their problem." 

"Let us hope so indeed," echoed the voice of Mar- 
tell. 



II 



AT the time of my story in the winter of 1894- 
1895, I was still unmarried and was living in 
a private hotel on E. Ferguson Ave., where I en- 
joyed the comforts of well furnished bachelor quar- 
ters. To my neighbors I paid little or no attention, 
absorbed in my work during the day and paying 
court to Margaret Landon in the evenings. 



**■ 






THE FATE OF THE POSEI'DONIA 



247 



I was not a little surprised upon one occasion, as 
I stepped into the corridor, to see a strange yet 
familiar figure in the hotel locking the door of the 
apartment adjoining my own. Almost instantly I 
recognized Martell, on whom I had not laid eyes 
since the meeting some weeks previous at the home 
of Professor Stearns. He evinced no more pleasure 
at our meeting than I did, and after the exchange 
of a few cursory remaiks from which I learned that 
he was my new neighbor, we went our respective 
ways. 

I thought no more of the meeting, and as I am 
not blessed or cursed (as the case may be) with a 
natural curiosity concerning the affairs of those 
about me, I seldom met Martell, and upon the rare 
occasions when I did, we confined our remarks to 
that ever convenient topic, the weather. 

Between Margaret and myself there seemed to be 
growing an inexplicable estrangement that in- 
creased as time went on, but it was not until after 
five repeated futile efforts to spend an evening in 
her company that I suspected the presence of a rival. 
Imagine my surprise and chagrin to discover that 
rival in the person of my neighbor Martell! I saw 
them together at the theatre and wondered, even 
with all due modesty, what there was in the ungainly 
figure and peculiar character of Martell to attract a 
beautiful and refined girl of Margaret Landon's 
type. But .attract her he did, for it was plainly evi- 
dent, as I watched them with the eyes of a jealous 
lover, that Margaret was fascinated by the person- 
ality of her escort. 

In sullen rage I went to Margaret a few days 
later, expressing my opinion of her new admirer in 
derogatory epithets. She gave me calm and digni- 
fied attention until I had exhausted my vocabulary, 
voicing my ideas of Martell, then she made reply 
in MarteH's defense. 

"Aside from personal appearance, Mr. Martell is 
a forceful and interesting character, and I refuse 
to allow you to«dictate to me who my associates are 
to be. There is no reason why we three can not all 
be friends." 

"Martell hates me as I hate him," I replied with 
smoldering resentment. "That is sufficient reason 
why we three can not all be friends." 

"I think you must be mistaken," she replied 
curtly. "Mr. Martell praises your qualities as a 
neighbor and comments not infrequently on your 
excellent virtue of attending strictly to your own 
business." 

I left Margaret's presence in a down-hearted 
mood. 

"So Martell appreciates my lack of inquisitive- 
ness, does he?" I mused as later I revkwed mentally 
the closing words of Margaret, and right then and 
there doubts and suspicions arose in my mind. If 
self-absorption was an appreciable quality as far as 
Martell was concerned, there was reason for his 
esteem of that phase of my character. I had dis- 
covered the presence of a mystery; Martell had 
something to conceal ! 

It was New Year's Day, not January 1st as they 
had it in the old days, but the extra New Year's 
Day that was sandwiched as a separate entity be- 
tween two years. This new chronological reckoning 
had been put into use in 1938. The calendar had 



previously contained twelve months varying in 
length from twenty-eight to thirty-one days, but 
with the addition of a new month and the adoption 
of a uniformity of twenty-eight days for all months 
and the interpolation of an isolated New Year's Day, 
the world's system of chronolgy was greatly simpli- 
fied. It was, as I say, on New Year's Day that I 
arose later than usual and dressed myself. The buzz- 
ing monotone ot a voice from Martell's room an- 
noyed me. Could he be talking over the telephone 
to Margaret? Right then and there I stooped to 
the performance of a deed of which I did not think 
myself capable. Ineffable curiosity converted me 
into a spy and an eavesdropper. I dropped to my 
knees and peered through the keyhole. I was re- 
warded with an unobstructed profile view of Martell 
seated at a low desk on which stood a peculiar cub- 
ical mechanism measuring on each edge six or 
seven inches. Above it hovered a tenuous vapor and 
from it issued strange sounds, occasionally inter- 
rupted by remarks from Martell uttered in an un- 
known tongue. Good heavens! Was this a new- 
fangled radio that communicated with the spirit- 
world? For only in such a way could I explain the 
peculiar vapor that enveloped the tiny machine. 
Television had been perfected and in use for a gen- 
eration, but as yet no instrument had been invented 
which delivered messages from the "unknown 
bourne!" 

I crouched in my undignified position until it was 
with difficulty that I arose, at the same time that 
Martell shut off the mysterious contrivance. Could 
Margaret be involved in any diabolical schemes? 
The very suggestion caused me to break out in a 
cold sweat. Surely Margaret, the very personifica- 
tion of innocence and purity, could be no partner in 
any nefarious undertakings ! I resolved to call her 
up. She answered the phone and I thought her 
voice showed agitation. 

"Margaret, this is George," I said. "Are you all 
right?" 

She answered faintly in the affirmative. 

"May I come over at once ?" I pled. "I have some- 
thing important to tell you." 

To my surprise she consented, and I lost no time 
in speeding my volplane to her home. With no in- 
troductory remarks, I plunged right into a narrative 
of the peculiar and suspicious actions of Martell, 
and ended by begging her to discontinue her asso- 
ciation with him. Ever well poised and with a girl- 
ish dignity that was irresistibly charming, Mar- 
garet quietly thanked me for my solicitude for her 
well-being but assured me that there was nothing 
to fear from Martell. It was like beating against a 
brick wall to obtain any satisfaction from her, so I 
returned to my lonely rooms, there to brood in soli- 
tude over the unhappy change that Martell had 
brought into my life. 

Once again I gazed through the tiny aperture. My 
neighbor was nowhere to be seen, but on the desk 
stood that which I mentally termed the devil- 
machine. The subtle mist that had previously hov- 
ered above it was wanting. 

The next day upon arising I was drawn as by a 
magnet toward the keyhole, but my amazement knew 
no bounds when I discovered that it had been plug- 



2+8 



AMAZING STORIES 



ged from the other side, and my vision completely 
barred ! 

"Well I guess it serves me right," I muttered in 
my chagrin. "I ought to keep out of other people's 
private affairs. But," I added as an afterthought in 
feeble defense of my actions, "my motive is to save 
Margaret from that scoundrel." And such I wanted 
to prove him to be before it was too late! 



Ill 



THE sixth of April, 1945, was a memorable day 
in the annals of history, especially to the inhabi- 
tants of Pacific coast cities throughout the world. 
Radios buzzed with the alarming and mystifying 
news that just over night the ocean line had receded 
several feet. What cataclysm of nature could have 
caused the disappearance of thousands of tons of 
water inside of twenty-four hours? Scientists ven- 
tured the explanation that internal disturbances 
must have resulted in the opening of vast submarine 
fissures into which the seas had poured. 

This explanation, stupendous as it was, sounded 
plausible, enough and was accepted by the world at 
large, which was too busy accumulating gold and 
silver to worry over the loss of nearly a million tons 
of water. How little we then realized that the rela- 
tive importance of gold and water was destined to 
be reversed, and that man was to have forced upon 
him a new conception of values which would bring 
to him a complete realization of his former erron- 
eous ideas. 

May and June passed marking little change in the 
drab monotony that had settled into my life since 
Margaret Landon had ceased to care for me. One 
afternoon early in July I received a telephone call 
from Margaret. Her voice betrayed an agitated 
state of mind, and sorry though I was that she was 
troubled, it pleased me that she had turned to me in 
her despair. Hope sprang anew in my breast, and 
I told her I would be over at once. • 

I was admitted by the taciturn housekeeper and 
ushered into the library where Margaret rose to 
greet me as I entered. There were traces of tears in 
her lovely eyes. She extended both hands to me in a 
gesture of spontaneity that had been wholly lacking 
in her attitude toward me ever since the advent of 
MartelL In the role of protector and advisor, I felt 
that I was about to be reinstated in her regard. 

But my joy was short-lived as I beheld a recum- 
bent figure on the great davenport and recognized 
it instantly as that of MartelL So he was in the 
game after all ! Margaret had summoned me be- 
cause her lover was in danger ! I turned to go but 
felt a restraining hand. 

"Wait, George," the girl pled. "The doctor will 
be here any minute." 

"Then let the doctor attend to him," I replied 
coldly. "I know nothing of the art of healing." 

"I know, George," Margaret persisted, "but he 
mentioned you before he lost consciousness and I 
think he wants to speak to you. Won't you wait 
please?" 

I paused, hesitant at thg supplicating tones of her 
whom I loved, but at that moment the maid an- 
nounced the doctor, and I made a hasty exit. 

Needless to say I experienced a sense of guilt as 
I returned to my rooms. 



"But," I argued as I seated myself comfortably 
before my radio, "a rejected lover would have to be 
a very magnanimous specimen of humanity to go 
running about doing favors for a rival. What do 
the pair of them take me for anyway — a fool?" 

I rather enjoyed a consciousness of righteous in- 
dignation, but disturbing visions of Margaret gave 
me an uncomfortable feeling that there was much 
about the affair that was incomprehensible to me. 

"The transatlantic passenger-plane, Pegasus, has 
mysteriously disappeared," said the voice of the 
news announcer. "One member of her crew has 
been picked up who tells such a weird, fantastic tale 
that it has not received much credence. According 
to his story the Pegasus wag winging its way across 
mid-ocean last night keeping an even elevation of 
three thousand feet, when, without any warning, the 
machine started straight up. Some force outside of 
itself was drawing it up, but whither? The rescued 
mechanic, the only one of all the fated ship's pas- 
sengers, possessed the presence of mind to manipu- 
late his parachute, and thus descended in safety be- 
fore the air became too rare to breathe, and before 
he and the parachute could be attracted upwards. 
He stoutly maintains that the plane could not have 
fallen later without his knowledge. Scouting planes, 
boats and submarines sent out this morning verify 
his seemingly mad narration. Not a vestige of the 
Pegasus ds to be found above, on the surface or be- 
low the water. Is this tragedy in any way connected 
with the lowering of the ocean level? Has some one 
a theory? In the face of such an inexplicable 
enigma the government will listen to the advance- 
ment of any theories, in the hope of solving the mys- 
tery;, Too many times in the past have the so-called 
level-headed people failed to give ear to the warn- 
ings of theorists and dreamers, but now we know 
that , the latter are often the possessors of a sixth 
sense that enables them to see that to which the bulk 
of mankind is blind." • 

I was awed by the fate of the Pegasus. I had had 
two flights in the wonderful machine myself three 
years ago, and I knew that it was the last word in 
luxuriant air-travel. 

How long I sat listening to brief news bulletins 
and witnessing scenic flashes of worldly affairs I 
do not know, but there suddenly came to my mind 
and persisted in staying there, a very disquieting 
thought. Several times I dismissed it as unworthy 
of any consideration, but it continued with unmiti- 
gating tenacity. 

After an hour of mental pros and cons I called up 
the' hotel office. 

"This is Mr. Gregory in suite 307," I strove to 
keep my voice steady. "Mr. Martell of 309 is ill at 
the house of a friend. He wishes me to have some 
of his belongings taken to him. May I have the key 
to his rooms?" 

There was a pause that to me seemed intermin- 
able, then the voice of the clerk. "Certainly, Mr. 
Gregory, I'll send a boy up with it at once." 

I felt like a culprit of the deepest dye as I entered 
Kartell's suite a few moments later and gazed about 
me. I knew I might expect interference from any 
quarter at any moment so I wasted no time in a 
general survey of the apartment but proceeded at 
once to the object of my visit. The tiny machine 
which I now perceived was more intricate than I 



THE FATE OF THE POSEIDONIA 



249 



had supposed from my previous observations 
through the keyhole, stood in its accustomed place 
upon the desk. It had four levers and a dial, and I 
decided to manipulate each of these in turn. I com- 
menced with the one at my extreme left. For a 
moment apparently nothing happened, then I real- 
ized that above the machine a mist was forming. 

At first it was faint and cloudy but the haziness 
quickly cleared, and before my startled vision a scene 
presented itself. I seemed to be inside a bamboo 
hut looking toward an opening which afforded a 
glimpse of a wave-washed sandy beach and a few 
palm trees silhouetted against the horizon. I could 
imagine myself on a desert isle. I gasped in aston- 
ishment, but it was nothing to the shock which was 
to follow. While my fascinated gaze dwelt on the 
scene before me, a shadow fell athwart the hut's 
entrance and the figure of a man came toward me. 
I uttered a hoarse cry. For a moment I thought I 
had been transplanted chronologically to the discov- 
ery of America, for the being who approached me 
bore a general resemblance to an Indian chief. From 
his forehead tall, white feathers stood erect. He 
was without clothing and his skin had a reddish cast 
that glistened with a coppery sheen in the sunlight. 
Where had I seen those features or similar ones, 
recently? I had it! Martell! The Indian savage 
was a natural replica of the suave and civilized 
Martell, and yet was this man before me a savage? 
On the contrary, I noted that his features displayed 
a remarkably keen intelligence. 

The stranger approached a table upon which I 
seemed to be, and raised his arms. A muffled cry 
escaped my lips ! The feathers that I had supposed 
constituted his headdress were attached perma- 
nently* along the upper portion of his arms to a 
point a little below each elbow. They grew there. 
This strange being had feathers instead of hair. 

I do not know by what presence of mind I man- 
aged to return the lever to its original position, but 
I did, and sat weakly gazing vacantly at the air, 
where but a few seconds before a vivid tropic scene 
had been visible. Suddenly a low buzzing sound was 
heard. Only for an instant was I mystified, then I 
knew that the stranger of the desert-isle was en- 
deavoring to summon Martell. 

Weak and dazed I waited until the buzzing had 
ceased and then I resolutely pulled the second of 
the four levers. At the inception of the experiment 
the same phenomena were repeated, but when a cor- 
rect perspective was effected a very different scene 
was presented before my startled vision. This time 
I seemed to be in a luxuriant room filled with costly 
furnishings, but I had time only for a most fleeting 
glance, for a section of newspaper that had inter- 
cepted part of my view, moved, and from behind its 
printed expanse emerged a being who bore a resem- 
blance to Martell and the Indian of the desert island. 
'It required but a second to turn off the mysterious 
connection, but that short time had been of sufficient 
duration to enable me to read the heading of the 
paper in the hands of a copper-hued man. It was 
Die Miinchener Zeitung. 

Still stupefied by the turn of events, it was with 
a certain degree of enjoyment that I continued to 
experiment with the devil-machine. I was startled 
when the same buzzing sound followed the discon- 
necting of the instrument. 



I was about to manipulate the third lever when I 
became conscious of pacing footsteps in the outer 
hall. Was I arousing the suspicion of the hotel 
officials? Leaving my seat before the desk, I began 
to move about the room in semblance of gathering 
together MarteH's required articles. Apparently 
satisfied, the footsteps' retreated down the corridor 
and were soon inaudible. 

Feverishly now I fumbled with the third lever. 
There was no time to lose and I was madly desirous 
of investigating all the possibilities of this new kind 
of television-set. I had no doubt that I was on the 
track of a nefarious organization of spies, and I 
worked on in the self-termed capacity of a Sherlock 
Holmes. 

The third lever revealed an apartment no less 
sumptuous than the German one had been. It ap- 
peared to be unoccupied for the present, and I had 
ample time to survey its expensive furnishings 
which had an oriental appearance. Through an open 
window at the far end of the room I glimpsed a 
mosque with domes and minarets. I could not as- 
certain for a certainty whether this was Turkey or 
India. It might have been any one of many eastern 
lands, I could not know. The fact that the occupant 
of this oriental apartment was temporarily absent 
made me desirous of learning more about it, but 
time was precious to me now, and I disconnected. 
No buzzing followed upon this occasion, which 
strengthened my belief that my lever manipulation 
sounded a similar buzzing that was audible in the 
various stations connected for the purpose of ac- 
complishing some wicked scheme. 

The fourth handle invited me to further investiga- 
tion. I determined to go through with my secret 
research though I died in the effort. Just before 
my hand dropped, the buzzing commenced, and I 
perceived for the first time a faint glow near the 
lever of No. 4. I dai*ed not investigate 4 at this 
time, for I did not wish it known that another than 
Martell was at this station. I thought of going on 
to dial 5, but an innate love of system forced me 
to risk a loss of time rather than to take them out 
of order. The buzzing continued for the usual dura- 
tion of time, but I waited until it had apparently 
ceased entirely before I moved No. 4. 

My soul rebelled at that which took form from 
the emanating mist. A face, another duplicate of 
MartelFs, but if possible more cruel, confronted me, 
completely filling up the vaporous space, and two 
phosphorescent eyes seared a warning into my own. 
A nauseating sensation crept over me as my hand 
crept to the connecting part of No. 4. When every 
vestige of the menacing face had vanished, I arose 
weakly and took a few faltering steps around the 
room. A bell was ringing with great persistance 
from some other room. It was mine! It would be 
wise to answer it. I fairly flew back to my room and 
was rewarded by the sound of Margaret's voice with 
a note of petulance in it. 

"Why didn't you answer, George? The phone 
rang several times." 

'Couldn't. Was taking a bath," I lied. 

'Mr. Martell is better," continued Margaret. "The 
doctor says there's no immediate danger." 

There was a pause and the sound of a rasping 
voice a little away from the vicinity of the phone, 
and then Margaret's voice came again. 



•V 



.. 



250 



AMAZING STORIES 



"Mr. Martell wants you to come over, George. He 
wants to see you." w 

"Tell him I have to dress after my bath, then 
I'll come," I answered. 



IV 



THERE was not a moment to spare. I rushed 
back into Martell's room determined to see this 
thing through. I had never been subject to heart 
attacks, but certainly the suffocating sensation that 
possessed me could be attributed to no other cnuse. 

A loud buzzing greeted my ears as soon as I had 
closed the door of Martell's suite. I looked toward 
the devil-machine. The four stations were buzzing 
at once! What was I to do? There was no light 
near dial 5, and that alone remained uninvestigated. 
My course of action was clear; try out No. 5 to my 
satisfaction, leave Martell's rooms and go to Mar- 
garet Landon's home as I had told her I would. 
They must not know what I had done. But it was 
inevitable that Martell would know when he got back 
to his infernal television and radio. He must not 
get back! Well, time enough to plan that later; 
now to the work of seeing No. 5. 

When I turned the dial of No. 5 (for, as I have 
stated before, this was a dial instead of a lever) I 
was conscious of a peculiar sensation of distance. 
It fairly took my breath away. What remote part 
of the earth's surface would the last position reveal 

tome? 

A sharp hissing sound accompanied the manipu- 
lation of No. 5 and the vaporous shroud was very 
slow in taking definite shape. When it was finally 
at rest, and it was apparent that it would not change 
further, the scene depicted was at first incompre- 
hensible to me. I stared with bulging eyes and 
bated breath trying to read any meaning into the 
combinations of form and color that had taken shape 
before me. 

In the light of what has since occurred, the facts 
of which are known throughout the world, I can 
lend my description a little intelligence borrowed, 
as it were, from the future. At the time of which 
I write, however, no such enlightenment was mine, 
and it must have been a matter of minutes before 
the slightest knowledge of the significance of the 
scene entered my uncomprehending brain. 

My vantage-point seemed to be slightly aerial, for 
I was looking down upon a scene possibly fifty feet 
below me. Arid red cliffs and promontories jutted 
over dry ravines and crevices. In the immediate 
foreground and also across a deep gully, extended a 
comparatively level area which was the scene of 
some sort of activity. There was about it a vague 
suggestion of a shipyard, yet I saw no lumber, only 
great mountainous piles of dull metal, among which 
moved thousands of agile figures. They were men 
and women, but how strange they appeared! Their 
red bodies were minus clothing of any description 
and their heads and shoulders were covered with 
long white feathers that when folded, draped the 
upper portions of their bodies like shawls. They 
were unquestionably of the same race as the desert- 
island stranger — and Martell! At times the feath- 
ers of these strange people stood erect and spread 
out like a peacock's tail. I noticed that when spread 



in this fan-like fashion they facilitated locomotion. 
I glanced toward the sun. far to my right and 
wondered if 1 had gone crazy. I rubbed my hands 
across my eyes and peered again. Yes, it was our 
luminary, but it was little more than half its cus- 
tomary size! I watched it sinking with fascinated 
gaze. It vanished quickly beyond the red horizon 
and darkness descended with scarcely a moment of 
intervening twilight. It was only by the closest ob- 
servation that I could perceive that 1 was still in 
communication with No. 5. 

Presently the gloom was dissipated by a shaft of 
light from the opposite horizon whither the sun had 
disappeared. So rapidly that I could follow its 
movement across the sky, the moon hove into view. 
But wait, was it the moon? Its surface looked 
strangely unfamiliar, and it too seemed to have 
shrunk in size. 

Spellbound, I watched the tiny moon glide across 
the heavens the while I listened to the clang of 
metal tools from the workers below. Again a bright 
light appeared on the horizon beyond the great metal 
bulks below me. The scene was rapidly being ren- 
dered visible by an orb that exceeded the sun in 
diameter. Then I knew. Great God ! There were 
two moons traversing the welkin! My heart was 
pounding so loudly that it drowned out the sound of 
the metal-workers. I watched on, unconscious of 
the passage of time. 

Voices shouted from below in great excitement. 
Events were evidently working up to some impor- 
tant climax while the little satellite passed from my 
line of vision and only the second large moon occu- 
pied the sky. Straight before me and low on the 
horizon it hung with its lower margin touching the 
cliffs. It was low enough now so that a few of the 
larger stars were becoming visible. One in par- 
ticular attracted my gaze and held it. It was a great 
bluish-green star and I noticed that the workers 
paused seemingly to gaze in silent admiration at its 
transcendent beauty. Then shout after shout arose 
from below and I gazed in bewilderment at the 
spectacle of the next few minutes, or was it hours? 

A great spherical bulk hove in view from the right 
of my line of vision. It made me* think of nothing 
so much as a gyroscope of gigantic proportions. It 
seemed to be made of the metal with which the 
workers were employed below, and as it gleamed in 
the deep blue of the sky it looked like a huge satel- 
lite. A band of red metal encircled it wi*h points of 
the same at top and bottom. Numerous openings 
that resembled the port-holes of an ocean-liner ap- 
peared in the broad central band, from which ex- 
tended metal points. I judged these were the "eyes" 
of the machine. But that which riveted my atten- 
tion was an object that hung poised in the air below 
the mighty gyroscope, held in suspension by some 
mysterious force, probably magnetic in nature, evi- 
dently controlled in such a manner that at a certain 
point it was exactly counter-balanced by the gravi- 
tational pull. The lines of force apparently traveled 
from the poles of the mammoth sphere. But the 
object that depended in mid-air, as firm and rigid as 
though resting on terra-firma, was the missing 
Pegasus, the epitome of earthly scientific skill, but 
in the clutches of this unearthly looking marauder it 
looked like a fragile toy. Its wings were bent and 






THE FATE OF THE POSEIDONIA 



251 



twisted, giving it an uncanny resemblance to a bird 
in the claws of a cat. 

In my spellbound contemplation of this new phe- 
nomenon I had temporarily forgotten the scene be- 
low, but suddenly a great cloud momentarily blotted 
out the moon, then another and another and another, 
in rapid succession. Huge bulks of air-craft were 
eclipsing the moon. Soon the scene was all but ob- 
literated by the machines whose speed accelerated 
as they reached the upper air. On and on they sped 
in endless procession while the green star gazed 
serenely on ! The green star, most sublime of the 
starry host! I loved its pale beauty though I knew 
not why. Darkness. The moon had set, but I knew 
that still those frightfully gigantic and ominous 
shapes still sped upward and onward. Whither? 

The tiny moon again made its appearance, serving 
to reveal once more that endless aerial migration. 
Was it hours or days? I had lost all sense of the 
passage of time. The sound of rushing feet, suc- 
ceeded by a pounding at the door brought me back 
to my immediate surroundings. I had the presence 
of mind to shut off the machine, then I arose and 

t 7 

assumed a defensive attitude as the door opened and 
many figures confronted me. Foremost among them 
was Martell, his face white with rage, or was it 
fear 1 

"Officers, seize that man," he cried furiously. "I 
did not give him permission to spy in my room. He 
lied when he said that." Here Martell turned to the 
desk clerk who stood behind two policemen. 

"Speaking of spying," X flung back at him, "Mar- 
tell, you ought to know the meaning of that word. 
He's a spy himself," I cried to the two apparently 
unmoved officers, "why he — he — " 

From their unsympathetic attitudes, I knew the 
odds were against me. I had lied, arid I had been 
found in a man's private rooms without his permis- 
sion. It would be a matter of time and patience be- 
fore I could persuade the law that I had any justice 
on my side. 

I was handcuffed and led toward the door jiftt as 
a sharp pain like an icy clutch at my heart overcame 
me. I sank into oblivion. 



WHEN I regained consciousness two days later 
I discovered that I was the sole occupant of a 
cell in the State hospital for the insane. Mortified 
to the extreme, I pled with the keeper to bring 
about my release, assuring him that I was unim- 
paired mentally. 

"Sure, that's what they all say," the fellow re- 
marked with a wry smile. 

"But 'I must be freed," I reiterated impatiently, 
"I have a message of importance for the world. I 
must get into immediate communication with the 
Secretary of War." 

"Yes, yes," agreed th§ keeper affably. "We'll let 
you see the Secretary of War when that fellow over 
there," he jerked his thumb in the direction of the 
cell opposite mine, "dies from drinking hemlock. He 
says he's Socrates, and every time he drinks a cup 
of milk he flops over, but he always revives." 

I looked across the narrow hall into a pair of eyes 
that mirrored a deranged mind, then my gaze turned 



to the guard who was watching me narrowly. I 
turned away with a shrug of despair. 

Later in the day the man appeared again but I 
sat in sullen silence in a comer of my cell. Days 
passed in this manner until at last a plausible means 
of communication with the outside world occurred to 
me. I asked if my good friend Professor Stearns 
might be permitted to visit me. The guard replied 
that he believed it could be arranged for sometime 
the following week. It is a wonder I did not become 
demented, imprisoned as I was, in solitude, with 
the thoughts of the mysterious revelations haunting 
me continually. 

One afternoon the keeper, passing by on one of his 
customary rounds, thrust a newspaper between the 
bars of my cell. I grabbed it eagerly and retired 
to read it. 

The headlines smote my vision with an almost 
tactile force. 

"Second Mysterious Recession of Ocean. The 
Poseidonia is lost !" 

• I continued to read the entire article, the letters 
of which blazed before my eyes like so many pin- 
points of light. 

"Ocean waters have again receded, this time in 
the Atlantic. Seismologists are at a loss to explain 
the mysterious cataclysm as no earth tremors have 
been registered. It is a little over three months 
since the supposed submarine fissures lowered the 
level of the Pacific ocean several feet, and now the 
same calamity, only to a greater extent, has visited 
the Atlantic. 

"The island of Madeira reports stranded fish upon 
her shores by the thousands, the decay of which 
threatens the health of the island's population. Two 
merchant vessels off the Azores, and one fifty miles 
out from Gibraltar, were found total wrecks. An- 
other, the Transatlantic^, reported a fearful agita- 
tion of the ocean depths, but seemed at a loss for a 
plausible explanation, as the sky was cloudless and 
no wind was blowing. 

" 'But despite this fact/ wired the Transatlantia, 
'great waves all but capsized us. This marine dis- 
turbance lasted throughout the night/ 

"The following wireless from the great ocean 
liner, Poseidonia, brings home to us the realization 
that Earth has been visited with a stupendous ca- 
lamity. The Poseidonia was making her weekly 
transatlantic trip between Europe and America, 
and was in mid-ocean at the time her message was 
flashed to the world. 

'A great cloud of flying objects of enormous pro- 
portions has just appeared in the sky blotting out 
the light of the stars. No sound accompanies the 
approach of this strange fleet. In appearance the 
individual craft resemble mammoth balloons. The 
sky is black with them and in their vicinity the air 
is humid and oppressive as though the atmosphere 
were saturated to the point of condensation. Every- 
thing is orderly. There are no collisions. Our cap- 
tain has given orders for us to turn back toward 
Europe— we have turned, but the dark dirigibles are 
pursuing us. Their speed is unthinkable. Can the 
Poseidonia, doing a mere hundred miles an hour, 
escape? A huge craft is bearing down upon us 
from above and behind. There is no escape. Pan- 
demonium reigns. The enemy—' 



i. * 



252 



AMAZING STORIES 



"Thus ends the tragic message from the brave 
wireless operator of the Poseidonia." 

I threw down the paper and called loudly for the 
keeper. Socrates across the hall eyed me suspi- 
ciously. I was beginning to feel that perhaps the 
poor demented fellow had nothing on me; that I 
should soon be in actuality a raving maniac. 

The keeper came in response to my call, entered 
my cell and patted my shoulders reassuringly. 

"Never mind, old top," he said, "it isn't so bad as 
it seems." 

"Now look here," I burst forth angrily, "I tell 
you I am not insane!" How futile my words 
sounded ! "If you will send Professor Mortimer 
Stearns, teacher of Astronomy at Austin, to me at 
once for an hour's talk, I'll prove to the world that 
I have not been demented," 

"Professor Stearns is a very highly esteemed 
friend of mine," I continued, noting the suspicion 
depicted on his countenance. "If you wish, go to 
him first and find out his true opinion of me. I'll 
wager it will not be an uncomplimentary one!" 

The man twisted his keys thoughtfully, and I 
uttered not a word, believing a silent demeanor most 
effective in the present crisis. After what seemed 
an eternity: 

"All right," he said, "I'll see what can be done 
toward arranging a visit from Professor Mortimer 
Stearns as soon as possible." 

I restrained my impulse toward a too effusive ex- 
pression of gratitude as I realized that a quiet dig- 
nity prospered my cause more effectually. 

The next morning at ten, after a constant vigil, I 
was rewarded with the most welcome sight of Pro- 
fessor Stearns striding down the hall in earnest con- 
versation with the guard. He was the straw and I 
the drowning man, but would he prove a more sub- 
stantial help than the proverbial straw? I surely 
hoped so. 

A chair was brought for the professor and placed 
just outside my cell. I hastily drew my own near it. 

"Well, this is indeed unfortunate," said Mortimer 
Steams with some embarrassment, "and I sincerely 
hope you will soon be released." 

"Unfortunate!" I echoed. "It is nothing short of 
a calamity." 

My indignation voiced so vociferously startled the 
good professor and he shoved his chair almost im- 
perceptibly away from the intervening bars. At the 
far end of the hall the keeper eyed me suspiciously. 
Hang it all, was my last resort going to fail me? 

"Professor Stearns," I said earnestly, "will you 
try to give me an unbiased hearing? My situation 
is a desperate one, and it is necessary for some one 
to believe in me before I can render humanity the 
service it needs." 

He responded to my appeal with something of his 
old sincerity, that always endeared him to his asso- 
ciates. 

"I shall be glad to hear your story, Gregory, and 
if I can render any service, I'll not hesitate — " 

"That's splendid of you," I interrupted with emo- 
tion, "and now to my weird tale." 

I related from the beginning, omitting no details, 
however trivial they may have seemed, the series of 
events that had brought me to my present predica- 
ment. 



"And your conclusion?" queried the professor in 
strange, hollow tones. 

"That Martian spies, one of whom is Martell, are 
superintending by radio and television, an unbe- 
lieveably well-planned theft of Earth's water in 
order to replenish their own dry ocean beds!" 

"Stupendous !" gasped Professor Stearns. "Some- 
thing must be done to prevent another raid. Let's 
see," he mused, "the interval was three months be- 
fore, was it not? Three months we shall have for 
bringing again into use the instruments of war 
that praise God! have lain idle for many genera- 
tions. It is the only way to deal with a formidable 
foe from outside. 



VI 



i 



PROFESSOR STEARNS was gone, but there 
was hope in my heart in place of the former 
grim despair. When the guard handed the eve- 
ning paper to me I amazed him with a grate- 1 
ful "thank you." But my joy was short-lived. Star- 
ing up at me from the printed passenger-list of the 
ill-fated Poseidonia were the names of Mr. and Mrs. 
T. M. Landon and daughter Margaret! 

I know the guard classed me as one of the worst 
cases on record, but I felt that surely Fate had been 
unkind. 

"A package for Mr. George Gregory," bawled a 
voice in the corridor. \ 

Thanks to the influence of Professor Stearns, I 
was permitted to receive mail. When the guard saw 
that I preferred unwrapping it myself, he discreetly 
left me to the mystery of the missive. 

A card just inside bore the few but insignificant 
words, "For Gregory in remembrance of Martell." 

I suppressed an impulse to dash the accursed 
thing to the floor when I saw that it was Martell's 
radio and television instrument. Placing it upon 
the table I drew a chair up to it and turned each of 
the levers, but not one functioned. I manipulated 
the dial No. 5. The action was accompanied by the 
same hissing sound that had so startled my over- 
wrought nerves upon the previous occasion. Slowly 
the wraithlike mist commenced the process of ad- 
justment. Spellbound I watched the scene before 
my eyes. 

Again I had the sensation of a lofty viewpoint. It 
was identical witK the one I had previously held, but 
the scene — was it the same ? It must be — and yet ! 
The barren red soil was but faintly visible through 
a verdure. The towering rocky palisades that bor- 
dered the chasm were crowned with golden-roofed 
dwellings, or were they temples, for they were like 
the pure marble fanes of the ancient Greeks except 
in color. Down the steep slopes flowed streams of 
sparkling water that dashed with a merry sound to 
a canal below. 

Gone were the thousands of beings and their metal 
aircraft, but seated on a grassy plot in the left fore- 
ground of the picture was a small group of the 
white-feathered, red-skinned inhabitants of this 
strange land. In the distance rose the temple- 
crowned crags. One figure alone stood, and with a 
magnificent gesture held arms aloft. The great 
corona of feathers spread following the line of the 
arms like the open wings of a great eagle. The 

{Continued on. page 267) 



THE LOST COMET 



267 



saved. By an act of Providence the central nucleus 
of the comet missed the terrestrial surface by a dis- 
tance which could not have exceeded 300 miles. 
The concussion we felt a few moments ago was due 
to debris emitted by the coma. The danger is now 
past. Much damage has undoubtedly been done, but 
nothing has occurred that cannot be repaired with- 
in a few month's time. And there, my friend," he 
continued, suddenly pointing to a broken window, 
"is the last I hope we shall ever see of this mad 
comet." And high in the southern heavens, its tail 
now clearly visible, was Biela's fast retreating 
comet, plunging headlong into space. 

For a few moments the professor was lost in med- 
itation. Finally he spoke. "Gentlemen," he said 
quietly, "I have made a serious and unforgivable 
mistake. This deviation in the comet's path is 
wholly accounted for by the perturbation caused in 
passing the Jovian orbit. How this could have been 
overlooked in my calculations I cannot conceive; 
but I offer both you and the world my most humble 
apology. And to think of the untold suffering and 



panic I might have prevented had I but foreseen 
this. But let the blame and the humiliation both 
be mine." 

- "But my dear Montesquieux," interrupted the 
president impatiently, "what madness is this? Do 
you not realize that your prediction has justly en- 
titled you to be considered the foremost mathema- 
tician of the world? Think of the glory this will re- 
flect upon France. Alphonse Montesquieux, the 
French Newton ! The new mathematics will revolu- 
tionize the world !" 

"No," replied the professor gravely, "I have 
failed. Although I rejoice in the escape of human- 
ity, I cannot return to the world. The world soon 
forgets, and in reaction from its panic it will claim 
revenge. I should soon be ridiculed and perhaps 
even be accused of having caused the panic by my 
false predictions. No, my friends, I cannot return. 
I intend to stay where I am. You were right in 
placing me here, and I shall remain. 

And the professor kept his word. 



The End. 



THE FATE OF THE POSEIDONIA 



By CLARE WINGER HARRIS 

(Concluded) 



superb figure stood and gazed into the deep velvety 
blue of the sky, the others following the direction 
of their leader's gaze. 

Involuntarily I too watched the welkin where now 
not even a moon was visible. Then within the range 
of my vision there moved a great object — the huge 
aerial gyroscope, — and beneath it, dwarfed by its 
far greater bulk, hung a modern ocean-liner, like a 
jewel from the neck of some gigantic ogre. 

Great God — it was the Poseidonia! I knew now, 
in spite of the earthly appearance of the great ship, 
that it was no terrestrial scene upon which I gazed. 
I was beholding the victory of Martell, the Martian, 
who had filled his world's canals with water of 
Earth, and even borne away trophies of our civiliza- 
tion to exhibit to his fellow-beings. 

I closed my eyes to shut out the awful scene, and 
thought of Margaret, dead and yet aboard the liner, 
frozen in the absolute cold of outer space! 

How long I sat stunned and horrified I do not 
know, but when I looked back for another last 
glimpse of the Martian landscape, I uttered a gasp 
of incredulity. A face filled the entire vaporous 
screen, the beloved features of Margaret Landon. 
She was speaking and her voice came over the dis- 
tance like the memory of a sound that is not quite 
audible and yet very real to the person in whose 
mind it exists. It was more as if time divided us 
instead of space, yet I knew it was the latter, for 
while a few minutes of time came between us, mil- 
lions of miles of space intervened ! 

"George," came the sweet, far-away voice, "I 
loved you, but you were so suspicious and jealous 
that I accepted the companionship of Martell, hoping 



to bring you to your senses. I did not know what an 
agency for evil he had established upon the earth. 
Forgive me, dear." 

She smiled wistfully. "My parents perished with 
hundreds of others in the transportation of the 
Poseidonia, but Martell took me from the ship to 
the ether-craft for the journey, so that I alone was 
saved." 

Her eyes filled with tears. "Do not mourn for me, 
George, for I shall take up the thread of life anew 
among these strange but beautiful surroundings. 
Mars is indeed lovely, but I will tell you of it later 
for I cannot talk long now." 

"I only want to say," she added hastily, "that 
Terra need fear Mars no more. There is a suffi- 
ciency of water now— and I will prevent any—" 

She was gone, and in her stead was the leering, 
malevolent face of Martell. He was minus his skull- 
cap, and his clipped feathers stood up like the ruff 
of an angry turkey-gobbler. 

I reached instinctively for the dial, but before my 
hand touched it there came a sound, not unlike that 
of escaping steam, and instantaneously the picture 
vanished. I did not object to the disappearance of 
the Martian, but another fact did cause me regret; 
from that moment, I was never able to view the 
ruddy planet through the agency of the little ma- 
chine. All communication had been forever shut 
off by Martell. 

Although many doubt the truth of my solution to 
the mystery of the disappearance of the Pegasus 
and of the Poseidonia, and are still searching be- 
neath the ocean waves, I know that never will either 
of them be seen again on Earth. 



The End.