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The Maracot Deep (1929)

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Kothar Bishop
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Posts: 1893



« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2007, 02:48:53 pm »

Passing the great coal pit--or, rather, branching away from it to the
right--we came on a line of low cliffs of basalt, their surface as
clear and shining as on the day when they were shot up from the bowels
of the earth, while their summit; some hundreds of feet above us,
loomed up against the dark background. The base of these volcanic
cliffs was draped in a deep jungle of high seaweed, growing out of
tangled masses of crinoid corals laid down in the old terrestrial
days. Along the edge of this thick undergrowth we wandered for some
time, our companions beating it with their sticks and driving out for
our amusement an extraordinary assortment of strange fishes and
crustacea, now and again securing a specimen for their own tables. For
a mile or more we wandered along in this happy fashion, when I saw
Manda stop suddenly and look round him with gestures of alarm and
surprise. These submarine gestures formed a language in themselves,
for in a moment his companions understood the cause of his trouble,
and then with a shock we realized it also. Dr. Maracot had
disappeared.

He had certainly been with us at the coal pit, and he had come as far
as the basalt cliffs. It was inconceivable that he had got ahead of
us, so it was evident that he must be somewhere along the line of
jungle in our rear. Though our friends were disturbed, Scanlan and I,
who knew something of the good man's absent-minded eccentricities were
confident that there was no cause for alarm, and that we should soon
find him loitering over some sea form which had attracted him. We all
turned to retrace our steps, and had hardly gone a hundred yards
before we caught sight of him.

But he was running--running with an agility which I should have
thought impossible for a man of his habits. Even the least athletic
can run, however, when fear is the pacemaker. His hands were
outstretched for help, and he stumbled and blundered forward with
clumsy energy. He had good cause to exert himself, for three horrible
creatures were close at his heels. They were tiger crabs, striped
black and white, each about the size of a Newfoundland dog.
Fortunately they were themselves not very swift travellers, and were
scurrying along the soft sea bottom in a curious sidelong fashion
which was little faster than that of the terrified fugitive.

Their wind was better, however, and they would probably have had their
horrible claws upon him in a very few minutes had not our friends
intervened. They dashed forward with their pointed sticks, and Manda
flashed a power electric lantern, which he carried in his belt, in the
face of the loathsome monsters, who scuttled into the jungle and were
lost to view. Our comrade sat down on a lump of coral and his face
showed that he was exhausted by his adventure. He told us afterwards
that he had penetrated the jungle in the hope of securing what seemed
to him to be a rare specimen of the deep-sea Chimoera, and that he had
blundered into the nest of these fierce tiger crabs, who had instantly
dashed after him. It was only after a long rest that he was able to
resume the journey.

Our next stage after skirting the basalt cliffs led us to our goal.
The grey plain in front of us was covered at this point by irregular
hummocks and tall projections which told us that the great city of old
lay beneath it. It would all have been completely buried for ever by
the ooze, as Herculaneum has been by lava or Pompeii by ashes, had an
entrance to it not been excavated by the survivors of the Temple. This
entrance was a long, downward cutting, which ended up in a broad
street with buildings exposed on either side. The walls of these
buildings were occasionally cracked and shattered, for they were not
of the solid construction which had preserved the Temple, but the
interiors were in most cases exactly as they had been when the
catastrophe occurred, save that sea changes of all sorts, beautiful
and rare in some cases and horrifying in others, had modified the
appearances of the rooms. Our guides did not encourage us to examine
the first ones which we reached, but hurried us onwards until we came
to that which had clearly been the great central citadel or palace
round which the whole town centred. The pillars and columns and vast
sculptured cornices and friezes and staircases of this building
exceeded anything which I have ever seen upon earth.

Its nearest approach seemed to me to be the remains of the Temple of
Karnak at Luxor in Egypt, and, strange to say, the decorations and
half-effaced engravings resembled in detail those of the great ruin
beside the Nile, and the lotus-shaped capitals of the columns were the
same. It was an amazing experience to stand on the marble tessellated
floors of those vast halls, with great statues looming high above one
on every side, and to see, as we saw that day, huge silvery eels
gliding above our heads and frightened fish darting away in every
direction from the light which was projected before us. From room to
room we wandered, marking every sign of luxury and occasionally of
that lascivious folly which is said, by the lingering legend, to have
drawn God's curse upon the people. One small room was wonderfully
enamelled with mother-of-pearl, so that even now it gleamed with
brilliant opalescent tints when the light played across it. An
ornamented platform of yellow metal and a similar couch lay in one
corner, and one felt that it may well have been the bedchamber of a
queen, but beside the couch there lay now a loathsome black squid, its
foul body rising and falling in a slow, stealthy rhythm so that it
seemed like some evil heart which still beat in the very centre of the
wicked palace. I was glad, and so, I learned, were my companions, when
our guides led the way out once more, glancing for a moment at a
ruined amphitheatre and again at a pier with a lighthouse at the end,
which showed that the city had been a seaport. Soon we had emerged
from these places of ill omen and were out on the familiar bathybian
plain once more.

Our adventures were not quite over, for there was one more which was
as alarming to our companions as to ourselves. We had nearly made our
way home when one of our guides pointed upwards with alarm. Gazing in
that direction we saw an extraordinary sight. Out of the black gloom
of the waters a huge, dark figure was emerging, falling rapidly
downwards. At first it seemed a shapeless mass, but as it came more
clearly into the light we could see that it was the dead body of a
monstrous fish, which had burst so that the entrails were streaming up
behind it as it fell. No doubt the gases had buoyed it up in the
higher reaches of the ocean until, having been released by
putrefaction or by the ravages of sharks, there was nothing left but
dead weight, which sent it hurtling down to the bottom of the sea.
Already in our walk we had observed several of these great skeletons
picked clean by the fish, but this creature was still, save for its
disembowelment, even as it had lived. Our guides seized us with the
intention of dragging us out of the path of the falling mass, but
presently they were reassured and stood still, for it was clear that
it would miss us. Our vitrine helmets prevented our hearing the thud,
but it must have been prodigious when the huge body struck the floor
of the ocean, and we saw the globigerina ooze fly upwards as the mud
splashes when a heavy stone is hurled into it. It was a sperm whale,
some seventy feet long, and from the excited and joyful gestures of
the submarine folk I gathered that they would find plenty of use for
the spermaceti and the fat. For the moment, however, we left the
derelict creature, and with joyful hearts, for we unpractised visitors
were weary and aching, found ourselves once more in front of the
engraved portal of the roof, and finally standing safe and sound,
divested of our vitrine bells, on the sloppy floor of the entrance
chamber.
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Kothar Bishop
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« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2007, 02:49:37 pm »

A few days--as we reckon time--after the occasion when we had given
the community a cinema view of our own proceedings, we were present at
a very much more solemn and august exhibition of the same sort, which
gave us in a clear and wonderful way the past history of this
remarkable people. I cannot flatter myself that it was given entirely
on our behalf, for I rather think that the events were publicly
rehearsed from time to time in order to carry on the record, and that
the part to which we were admitted was only some intermezzo of a long
religious ceremony. However that may be, I will describe it exactly as
it occurred.

We were led to the same great hall or theatre where Dr. Maracot had
thrown our own adventures upon the screen. There the whole community
was assembled, and we were given, as before, places of honour in front
of the great luminous screen. Then, after a long song, which may have
been some sort of patriotic chant, a very old white-haired man, the
historian or chronicler of the nation, advanced amid much applause to
the focus point and threw upon the bright surface before him a series
of pictures to represent the rise and fall of his own people. I wish I
could convey to you their vividness and drama. My two companions and I
lost all sense of time and place, so absorbed were we in the
contemplation, while the audience was moved to its depths and groaned
or wept as the tragedy unfolded, which depicted the ruin of their
fatherland, the destruction of their race.

In the first series of scenes we saw the old continent in its glory,
as its memory had been handed down by these historical records passed
from fathers to sons. We had a bird's-eye view of a glorious rolling
country, enormous in extent, well watered and cleverly irrigated, with
great fields of grain, waving orchards, lovely streams and woody
hills, still lakes and occasional picturesque mountains. It was
studded with villages and covered with farm-houses and beautiful
private residences. Then our attention was carried to the capital, a
wonderful and gorgeous city upon the sea-shore, the harbour crammed
with galleys, her quays piled with merchandise, and her safety assured
by high walls with towering battlements and circular moats, all on the
most gigantic scale. The houses stretched inland for many miles, and
in the centre of the city was a crenellated castle or citadel, so
widespread and commanding that it was like some creation of a dream.
We were then shown the faces of those who lived in that golden age,
wise and venerable old men, virile warriors, saintly priests,
beautiful and dignified women, lovely children, an apotheosis of the
human race.

Then came pictures of another sort. We saw wars, constant wars, war by
land and war by sea. We saw naked and defenceless races trampled down
and over-ridden by great chariots or the rush of mailed horsemen. We
saw treasures heaped upon the victors, but even as the riches
increased the faces upon the screen became more animal and more cruel.
Down, down they sank from one generation to another. We were shown
signs of lascivious dissipation or moral degeneracy, of the accretion
of matter and decline of spirit. Brutal sports at the expense of
others had taken the place of the manly exercises of old. There was no
longer the quiet and simple family life, nor the cultivation of the
mind, but we had a glimpse of a people who were restless and shallow,
rushing from one pursuit to another, grasping ever at pleasure, for
ever missing it, and yet imagining always that in some more complex
and unnatural form it might still be found. There had arisen on the
one hand an over-rich class who sought only sensual gratification, and
on the other hand an over-poor residue whose whole function in life
was to minister to the wants of their masters, however evil those
wants might be.

And now once again a new note was struck. There were reformers at work
who were trying to turn the nation from its evil ways, and to direct
it back into those higher paths which it had forsaken. We saw them,
grave and earnest men, reasoning and pleading with the people, but we
saw them scorned and jeered at by those whom they were trying to save.
Especially we could see that it was the priests of Baal, priests who
had gradually allowed forms and show and outward ceremonies to take
the place of unselfish spiritual development, who led the opposition
to the reformers. But the latter were not to be bullied or browbeaten.
They continued to try for the salvation of the people, and their faces
assumed a graver and even a terror-inspiring aspect, as those of men
who had a fearsome warning to give which was like some dreadful vision
before their own minds. Of their auditors some few seemed to heed and
be terrified at the words, but others turned away laughing and plunged
ever deeper into their morass of sin. There came a time at last when
the reformers turned away also as men who could do no more, and left
this degenerate people to its fate.

Then we saw a strange sight. There was one reformer, a man of singular
strength of mind and body, who gave a lead to all the others. He had
wealth and influence and powers, which latter seemed to be not
entirely of this earth. We saw him in what seemed to be a trance,
communing with higher spirits. It was he who brought all the science
of his land--science which far outshone anything known by us moderns
--to the task of building an ark of refuge against the coming
troubles. We saw myriads of workmen at work, and the walls rising
while crowds of careless citizens looked on and made merry at such
elaborate and useless precautions. We saw others who seemed to reason
with him and to say to him that if he had fears it would be easier for
him to fly to some safer land. His answer, so far as we could follow
it, was that there were some who must be saved at the last moment, and
that for their sake he must remain in the new Temple of safety.
Meanwhile he collected in it those who had followed him, and he held
them there, for he did not himself know the day nor the hour, though
forces beyond mortal had assured him of the coming fact. So when the
ark was ready and the water-tight doors were finished and tested, he
waited upon doom, with his family, his friends, his followers, and his
servants.

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Kothar Bishop
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« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2007, 02:50:15 pm »

And doom came. It was a terrible thing even in a picture. God knows
what it could be like in reality. We first saw a huge sleek mountain
of water rise to an incredible height out of a calm ocean. Then we saw
it travel, sweeping on and on, mile after mile, a great glistening
hill, topped with foam, at an ever-increasing rate. Two little ships
tossing among the snowy fringe upon the summit became, as the wave
rolled towards us, a couple of shattered galleys. Then we saw it
strike the shore and sweep over the city, while the houses went down
before it like a field of corn before a tornado. We saw the folk upon
the house-tops glaring out at the approaching death, their faces
twisted with horror, their eyes staring, their mouths contorted,
gnawing at their hands and gibbering in an insanity of terror. The
very men and women who had mocked at the warning were now screaming to
Heaven for mercy, grovelling with their faces on the ground, or
kneeling with frenzied arms raised in wild appeal. There was no time
now to reach the ark, which stood beyond the city, but thousands
dashed up to the Citadel, which stood upon higher ground, and the
battlement walls were black with people. Then suddenly the Castle
began to sink. Everything began to sink. The water had poured down
into the remote recesses of the earth, the central fires had expanded
it into steam, and the very foundations of the land were blown apart.
Down went the city and ever down, while a cry went up from ourselves
and the audience at the terrible sight. The pier broke in two and
vanished. The high Pharus collapsed under the waves. The roofs looked
for a while like successive reefs of rock forming lines of spouting
breakers until they, too, went under.

The Citadel was left alone upon the surface, like some monstrous ship,
and then it also slid sideways down into the abyss, with a fringe of
helpless waving hands upon its summit. The awful drama was over, and
an unbroken sea lay across the whole continent, a sea which bore no
life upon it, but which among its huge smoking swirls and eddies
showed all the wrack of the tragedy tossed hither and thither, dead
men and animals, chairs, tables, articles of clothing, floating hats
and bales of goods, all bobbing and heaving in one huge liquid
fermentation. Slowly we saw it die away, and a great wide expanse as
smooth and bright as quicksilver, with a murky sun low on the horizon,
showed us the grave of the land that God had weighed and found
wanting.

The story was complete. We could ask for no more, since our own brains
and imagination could supply the rest. We realized the slow
remorseless descent of that great land lower and lower into the abyss
of the ocean amid volcanic convulsions which threw up submarine peaks
around it. We saw it in our mind's eye stretched out, over miles of
what was now the bed of the Atlantic, the shattered city lying
alongside of the ark or refuge in which the handful of nerve-shattered
survivors were assembled. And then finally we understood how these had
carried on their lives, how they had used the various devices with
which the foresight and science of their great leader had endowed
them, how he had taught them all his arts before he passed away, and
how some fifty or sixty survivors had grown now into a large
community, which had to dig its way into the bowels of the earth in
order to get room to expand. No library of information could make it
clearer than that series of pictures and the inferences which we could
draw from them. Such was the fate, and such the causes of the fate,
which overwhelmed the great land of Atlantis. Some day far distant,
when this bathybian ooze has turned to chalk, this great city will be
thrown up once more by some fresh expiration of Nature, and the
geologist of the future, delving in the quarry, will exhume not flints
nor shells, but the remains of a vanished civilization, and the traces
of an old-world catastrophe.

Only one point had remained undecided, and that was the length of time
since the tragedy had occurred. Dr. Maracot discovered a rough method
of making an estimate. Among the many annexes of the great building
there was one huge vault, which was the burial-place of the chiefs. As
in Egypt and in Yucatan, the practice of mummifying had been usual,
and in niches in the walls there were endless rows of these grim
relics of the past. Manda pointed proudly to the next one in the
succession, and gave us to understand that it was specially arranged
for himself.

'If you take an average of the European kings,' said Maracot, in his
best professional manner, 'you will find that they run to above five
in the century. We may adopt the same figure here. We cannot hope for
scientific accuracy, but it will give us an approximation. I have
counted the mummies, and they are four hundred in number.'

'Then it would be eight thousand years?'

'Exactly. And this agrees to some extent with Plato's estimate. It
certainly occurred before the Egyptian written records begin, and they
go back between six and seven thousand years from the present date.
Yes, I think we may say that our eyes have seen the reproduction of a
tragedy which occurred at least eight thousand years ago. But, of
course, to build up such a civilization as we see the traces of, must
in itself have taken many thousands of years.

'Thus,' he concluded--and I pass the claim on to you--we have
extended the horizon of ascertained human history as no men have ever
done since history began.'
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Kothar Bishop
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« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2007, 02:50:54 pm »

Chapter 5

It was about a month, according to our calculations, after our visit
to the buried city that the most amazing and unexpected thing of all
occurred. We had thought by this time that we were immune to shocks
and that nothing new could really stagger us, but this actual fact
went far beyond anything for which our imagination might have prepared
us.

It was Scanlan who brought the news that something momentous had
happened. You must realize that by this time we were, to some extent,
at home in the great building; that we knew where the common rest
rooms and recreation rooms were situated; that we attended concerts
(their music was very strange and elaborate) and theatrical
entertainments, where the unintelligible words were translated by very
vivid and dramatic gestures; and that, speaking generally, we were
part of the community. We visited various families in their own
private rooms, and our lives--I can speak for my own, at any rate--
were made the brighter by the glamour of these strange people,
especially of that one dear young lady whose name I have already
mentioned. Mona was the daughter of one of the leaders of the tribe,
and I found in his family a warm and kindly welcome which rose above
all differences of race or language. When it comes to the most tender
language of all, I did not find that there was so much between old
Atlantis and modern America. I guess that what would please a
Massachusetts girl of Brown's College is just about what would please
my lady under the waves.

But I must get back to the fact that Scanlan came into our room with
news of some great happening.

'Say, there is one of them just blown in, and he's that excited that
he clean forgot to take his glass lid off, and he was jabbering for
some minutes before he understood that no one could hear him. Then it
was Blah Blah Blah as long as his breath would hold, and they are all
following him now to the jumping-off place. It's me for the water, for
there is sure something worth our seeing.'

Running out, we found our friends all hurrying down the corridor with
excited gestures, and we, joining the procession, soon formed part of
the crowd who were hurrying across the sea bottom, led by the excited
messenger. They drove along at a rate which made it no easy matter for
us to keep up, but they carried their electric lanterns with them, and
even though we fell behind we were able to follow the gleam. The route
lay as before, along the base of the basalt cliffs until we came to a
spot where a set of steps, concave from long usage, led up to the top.
Ascending these, we found ourselves in broken country, with many
jagged pinnacles of rock and deep crevasses which made it difficult
travelling. Emerging from this tangle of ancient lava, we came out on
a circular plain, brilliant by the phosphorescent light, and there in
the very centre of it lay an object which set me gasping. As I looked
at my companions I could see from their amazed expression how fully
they shared my emotion.

Half embedded in the slime there lay a good-sized steamer. It was
tilted upon its side, the funnel had broken and was hanging at a
strange angle, and the foremast had snapped off short, but otherwise
the vessel was intact and as clean and fresh as if she had just left
the dock. We hurried towards her and found ourselves under the stern.
You can imagine how we felt when we read the name '_Stratford_, London'.
Our ship had followed ourselves into the Maracot Deep.

Of course, after the first shock the affair did not seem so
incomprehensible. We remembered the falling glass, the reefed sails of
the experienced Norwegian skipper, the strange black cloud upon the
horizon. Clearly there had been a sudden cyclone of phenomenal
severity and the ._Stratford_ had been blown over. It was too evident
that all her people were dead, for most of the boats were trailing in
different states of destruction from the davits, and in any case what
boat could live in such a hurricane? The tragedy had occurred, no
doubt, within an hour or two of our own disaster. Perhaps the
sounding-line which we had seen had only just been wound in before the
blow fell. It was terrible, but whimsical, that we should be still
alive, while those who were mourning our destruction had themselves
been destroyed. We had no means of telling whether the ship had
drifted in the upper levels of the ocean or whether she had lain for
some time where we found her before she was discovered by the
Atlantean.

Poor Howie, the captain, or what was left of him, was still at his
post upon the bridge, the rail grasped firmly in his stiffened hands.
His body and that of three stokers in the engine-room were the only
ones which had sunk with the ship. They were each removed under our
direction and buried under the ooze with a wreath of sea-flowers over
their remains. I give this detail in the hope that it may be some
comfort to Mrs. Howie in her bereavement. The names of the stokers
were unknown to us.

Whilst we had been performing this duty the little men had swarmed
over the ship. Looking up, we saw them everywhere, like mice upon a
cheese. Their excitement and curiosity made it clear to us that it was
the first modern ship--possibly the first steamer--which had ever
come down to them. We found out later that their oxygen apparatus
inside their vitrine bells would not allow of a longer absence from
the recharging station than a few hours, and so their chances of
learning anything of what was on the sea-bed were limited to so many
miles from their central base. They set to work at once breaking up
the wreck and removing all that would be of use to them, a very long
process, which is hardly accomplished yet. We were glad also to make
our way to our cabins and to get many of those articles of clothing
and books which were not ruined beyond redemption.

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« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2007, 02:51:34 pm »

Among the other things which we rescued from the _Stratford_ was the
ship's log, which had been written up to the last day by the captain
in view of our own catastrophe. It was strange indeed that we should
be reading it and that he should be dead. The day's entry ran thus:

'Oct. 3. The three brave but foolhardy adventurers have today, against
my will and advice, descended in their apparatus to the bottom of the
ocean, and the accident which I had foreseen has occurred. God rest
their souls. They went down at eleven a.m. and I had some doubts about
permitting them, as a squall seemed to be coming up. I would that I
had acted upon my impulse, but it would only have postponed the
inevitable tragedy. I bade each of them farewell with the conviction
that I would see them no more. For a time all was well, and at eleven
forty-five they had reached a depth of three hundred fathoms, where
they had found bottom. Dr. Maracot sent several messages to me and all
seemed to be in order, when suddenly I heard his voice in agitation,
and there was considerable agitation of the wire hawser. An instant
later it snapped. It would appear that they were by this time over a
deep chasm, for at the Doctor's request the ship had steamed very
slowly forwards. The air tubes continued to run out for a distance
which I should estimate at half a mile, and then they also snapped. It
is the last which we can ever hope to hear of Dr. Maracot, Mr.
Headley, or Mr. Scanlan.

'And yet a most extraordinary thing must be recorded, the meaning of
which I have not had time to weigh, for with this foul weather coming
up there is much to distract me. A deep-sea sounding was taken at the
same time, and the depth recorded was twenty-six thousand six hundred
feet. The weight was, of course, left at the bottom, but the wire has
just been drawn in and, incredible as it may seem, above the porcelain
sample cup there was found Mr. Headley's handkerchief with his name
marked upon it. The ship's company were all amazed, and no one can
suggest how such a thing could have occurred. In my next entry I may
have more to say about this. We have lingered a few hours in the hope
of something coming to the surface, and we have pulled up the hawser,
which shows a jagged end. Now I must look to the ship, for I have
never seen a worse sky and the barometer is at a8.5 and sinking fast.'

So it was that we got the final news of our former companions. A
terrific cyclone must have struck her and destroyed her immediately
afterwards.

We stayed at the wreck until a certain stuffiness within our vitrine
bells and a feeling of increasing weight upon our chests warned us
that it was high time to begin our return. Then it was, on our
homeward journey, that we had an adventure which showed us the sudden
dangers to which these submarine folk are exposed, and which may
explain why their numbers, in spite of the lapse of time, were not
greater than they were. Including the Grecian slaves we cannot reckon
those numbers at more than four or five thousand at the most. We had
descended the staircase and were making our way along the edge of the
jungle which skirts the basalt cliffs, when Manda pointed excitedly
upwards and beckoned furiously to one of our party who was some
distance out in the open. At the same time he and those around him ran
to the side of some high boulders, pulling us along with them. It was
only when we were in their shelter that we saw the cause of the alarm.
Some distance above us, but descending rapidly, was a huge fish of a
most peculiar shape. It might have been a great floating feather-bed,
soft and bulging, with a white under-surface and a long red fringe,
the vibration of which propelled it through the water. It appeared to
have neither mouth nor eyes, but it soon showed that it was formidably
alert. The member of our party who was out in the open ran for the
same shelter that we had taken, but he was too late. I saw his face
convulsed with terror as he realized his fate.

The horrible creature descended upon him, enveloped him on all sides,
and lay upon him, pulsing in a dreadful way as if it were thrusting
his body against the coral rocks and grinding it to pieces. The
tragedy was taking place within a few yards of us, and yet our
companions were so overcome by the suddenness of it that they seemed
to be bereft of all power of action. It was Scanlan who rushed out
and, jumping on the creature's broad back, blotched with red and brown
markings, dug the sharp end of his metal staff into its soft tissues.

I had followed Scanlan's example, and finally Maracot and all of them
attacked the monster, which glided slowly off, leaving a trail of oily
and glutinous excretion behind it. Our help had come too late,
however, for the impact of the great fish had broken the vitrine bell
of the Atlantean and he had been drowned. It was a day of mourning
when we carried his body back into the Refuge, but it was also a day
of triumph for us, for our prompt action had raised us greatly in the
estimation of our companions. As to the strange fish, we had Dr.
Maracot's assurance that it was a specimen of the blanket fish, well
known to ichthyologists, but of a size such as had never entered into
his dreams.

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« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2007, 02:52:37 pm »

I speak of this creature because it chanced to bring about a tragedy,
but I could, and perhaps will, write a book upon the wonderful life
which we have seen here. Red and black are the prevailing colours in
deep-sea life, while the vegetation is of the palest olive, and is of
so tough a fibre that it is seldom dragged up by our trawls, so that
Science has come to believe that the bed of the ocean is bare. Many of
the marine forms are of surpassing loveliness, and others so grotesque
in their horror that they are like the images of delirium and of a
danger such as no land animal can rival. I have seen a black sting-ray
thirty feet long with a horrible fang upon its tail, one blow of which
would kill any living creature. I have seen, too, a frog-like beast
with protruding green eyes, which is simply a gaping mouth with a huge
stomach behind it. To meet it is death unless one has an electric
flash with which to repel it. I have seen the blind red eel which lies
among the rocks and kills by the emission of poison, and I have seen
also the giant sea-scorpion, one of the terrors of the deep, and the
hag fish, which lurks among the sea jungle.

Once, too, it was my privilege to see the real sea-serpent, a creature
which has seldom appeared before the human eye, for it lives in the
extreme depths and is seen on the surface only when some submarine
convulsion has driven it out of its haunts. Two of them swam, or
rather glided, past us one day while Mona and I cowered among the
bunches of lamellaria. They were enormous--some ten feet in height
and two hundred in length, black above, silver-white below, with a
high fringe upon the back, and small eyes no larger than those of an
ox. Of these and many other such things an account will be found in
the paper of Dr. Maracot, should it ever reach your hands.

Week glided into week in our new life. It had become a very pleasant
one, and we were slowly picking up enough of this long-forgotten
tongue to enable us to converse a little with our companions. There
were endless subjects both for study and for amusement in the Refuge,
and already Maracot has mastered so much of the old chemistry that he
declares that he can revolutionize all worldly ideas if he can only
transmit his knowledge. Among other things they have learned to split
the atom, and though the energy released is less than our scientists
had anticipated, it is still sufficient to supply them with a great
reservoir of power. Their acquaintance with the power and nature of
the ether is also far ahead of ours, and indeed that strange
translation of thought into pictures, by which we had told them our
story and they theirs, was due to an etheric impression translated
back into terms of matter.

And yet, in spite of their knowledge, there were points connected with
modern scientific developments which had been overlooked by their
ancestors.

It was left to Scanlan to demonstrate the fact. For weeks he was in a
state of suppressed excitement, bursting with some great secret, and
chuckling continually at his own thoughts. We only saw him
occasionally during this time, for he was extremely busy and his one
friend and confidant was a fat and jovial Atlantean named Berbrix, who
was in charge of some of the machinery. Scanlan and Berbrix, though
their intercourse was carried on chiefly by signs and mutual
back-slapping, had become very close friends, and were now continually
closeted together. One evening Scanlan came in radiant.

'Look here, Doc,' he said to Maracot, 'I've a dope of my own that I
want to hand to these folk. They've shown us a thing or two and I
figure that it is up to us to return it. What's the matter with
calling them together tomorrow night for a show?'

'Jazz or the Charleston?' I asked.

'Charleston nothing. Wait till you see it. Man, it's the greatest
stunt--but there, I won't say a word more. Just this, Bo. I won't let
you down, for I've got the goods, and I mean to deliver them.'

Accordingly, the community were assembled next evening in the familiar
hall. Scanlan and Berbrix were on the platform, beaming with pride.
One or other of them touched a button, and then--well, to use
Scanlan's own language, 'I hand it to him, for he did surprise us
some!'

'2L.O. calling,' cried a clear voice. 'London calling the British
Isles. Weather forecast.' Then followed the usual sentence about
depressions and anticyclones. 'First News Bulletin. His Majesty the
King this morning opened the new wing of the Children's Hospital in
Hammersmith--' and so on and on, in the familiar strain. For the first
time we were back in a workaday England once more, plodding bravely
through its daily task, with its stout back bowed under its war debts.
Then we heard the foreign news, the sporting news. The old world was
droning on the same as ever. Our friends the Atlanteans listened in
amazement, but without comprehension. When, however, as the first item
after the news, the Guards' band struck up the march from Lohengrin a
positive shout of delight broke from the people, and it was funny to
see them rush upon the platform, and turn over the curtains, and look
behind the screens to find the source of the music. Yes, we have left
our mark for ever upon the submarine civilization.

'No, sir,' said Scanlan, afterwards. 'I could not make an issuing
station. They have not the material, and I have not the brains. But
down at home I rigged a two-valve set of my own with the aerial beside
the clothes line in the yard, and I learned to handle it, and to pick
up any station in the States. It seemed to me funny if, with all this
electricity to hand, and with their glasswork ahead of ours, we
couldn't vamp up something that would catch an ether wave, and a wave
would sure travel through water just as easy as through air. Old
Berbrix nearly threw a fit when we got the first call, but he is wise
to it now, and I guess it's a permanent institution.'

Among the discoveries of the Atlantean chemists is a gas which is nine
times lighter than hydrogen and which Maracot has named levigen. It
was his experiments with this which gave us the idea of sending glass
balls with information as to our fate to the surface of the ocean.

'I have made Manda understand the idea,' said he. 'He has given orders
to the silica workers, and in a day or two the globes will be ready.'

'But how can we get our news inside?' I asked.

'There is a small aperture left through which the gas is inserted.
Into this we can push the papers. Then these skilful workers can seal
up the hole. I am assured that when we release them they will shoot up
to the surface.'

'And bob about unseen for a year.'

'That might be. But the ball would reflect the sun's rays. It would
surely attract attention. We were on the line of shipping between
Europe and South America. I see no reason why, if we send several, one
at least may not be found.'

And this, my dear Talbot, or you others who read this narrative, is
how it comes into your hands. But a far more fateful scheme may lie
behind it. The idea came from the fertile brain of the American
mechanic.

'Say friends,' said he, as we sat alone in our chamber, 'it's dandy
down here, and the drink is good and the eats are good, and I've met a
wren that makes anything in Philadelphia look like two cents, but all
the same there are times when I want to feel that I might see God's
own country once more.'

'We may all feel that way,' said I, 'but I don't see how you can hope
to make it.'

'Look it here, Bo! If these balls of gas could carry up our message,
maybe they could carry us up also. Don't think I'm joshing, for I've
figured it out to. rights. We will suppose we put three or four of
them together so as to get a good lift. See? Then we have our vitrine
bells on and harness ourselves on to the balls. When the bell rings we
cut loose and up we go. What is going to stop us between here and the
surface?'

'A shark, maybe.'

'Blah! Sharks nothing! We would streak past any shark so's he'd hardly
know we was there. He'd think we was three flashes of light and we'd
get such a lick on that we'd shoot fifty feet up in the air at the
other end. I tell you the goof that sees us come up is going to say
his prayers over it.'

'But suppose it is possible, what will happen afterwards!'

'For Pete's sake, leave afterwards out of it! Let us chance our luck,
or we are here for keeps. It's me for cutting loose and having a dash
at it.'

'I certainly greatly desire to return to the world, if only to lay our
results before the learned societies,' said Maracot. 'It is only my
personal influence which can make them realize the fund of new
knowledge which I have acquired. I should be quite in favour of any
such attempt as Scanlan has indicated.'

There were good reasons, as I will tell later, which made me the least
eager of the three.
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« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2007, 02:53:44 pm »

'It would be perfect madness as you propose it. Unless we had someone
expecting us on the surface we should infallibly drift about and
perish from hunger and thirst.'

'Shucks, man, how could we have someone expecting us?'

'Perhaps even that could be managed,' said Maracot. 'We can give
within a mile or two the exact latitude and longitude of our
position.'

'And they would let down a ladder,' said I, with some bitterness.

'Ladder nothing! The boss is right. See here, Mr. Headley, you put in
that letter that you are going to send the universe--my! don't I see
the scare lines in the journals!--that we are at 27 North Latitude
and 28.14 West Longitude, or whatever other figure is the right one,
Got that? Then you say that three of the most important folk in
history, the great man of Science, Maracot, and the rising-star
bug-collector, Headley, and Bob Scanlan, a peach of a mechanic and the
pride of Merribank's; are all yellin' and whoopin' for help from the
bottom of the sea. Follow my idea?'

'Well, what then?'

'Well, then it's up to them, you see. It's kind of a challenge that
they can't forget. Same as I've read of Stanley finding Livingstone
and the like. It's for them to find some way to yank us out or to
catch us at the other end if we can take the jump ourselves.'

'We could suggest the way ourselves,' said the Professor. 'Let them
drop a deep-sea line into these waters and we will look out for it.
When it comes we can tie a message to it and bid them stand by for
us.'

'You've said a mouthful!' cried Bob Scanlan. 'That is sure the way to
do it.'

'And if any lady cared to share our fortunes four would be as easy as
three,' said Maracot, with a roguish smile at me.

'For that matter, five is as easy as four,' said Scanlan. 'But you've
got it now, Mr. Headley. You write that down, and in six months we
shall be back in London River once more.'

So now we launch our two balls into that water which is to us what the
air is to you. Our two little balloons will go aloft. Will both be
lost on the way? It is possible. Or may we hope that one will get
through? We leave it on the knees of the gods. If nothing can be done
for us, then let those who care for us know that in any case we are
safe and happy. If, on the other hand, this suggestion could be
carried out and the money and energy for our rescue should be
forthcoming, we have given you the means by which it can be done.
Meanwhile, good-bye--or is it au revoir?


So ended the narrative in the vitrine ball.

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« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2007, 02:54:28 pm »

The preceding narrative covers the facts so far as they were available
when the account was first drawn up. While the script was in the hands
of the printer there came an epilogue of the most unexpected and
sensational description. I refer to the rescue of the adventurers by
Mr. Faverger's steam yacht Marion and the account sent out by the
wireless transmitter of that vessel, and picked up by the cable
station at the Cape de Verde Islands, which has just forwarded it to
Europe and America. This account was drawn up by Mr. Key Osborne, the
well-known representative of the Associated Press.

It would appear that immediately upon the first narrative of the
plight of Dr. Maracot and his friends reaching Europe an expedition
was quietly and effectively fitted up in the hope of bringing about a
rescue. Mr. Faverger generously placed his famous steam yacht at the
disposal of the party, which he accompanied in person. The Marion
sailed from Cherbourg in June, picked up Mr. Key Osborne and a
motion-picture operator at Southampton, and set forth at once for the
tract of ocean which was indicated in the original document. This was
reached upon the first of July.

A deep-sea piano-wire line was lowered, and was dragged slowly along
the bottom of the ocean. At the end of this line, beside the heavy
lead, there was suspended a bottle containing a message. The message
ran:

'Your account has been received by the world, and we are here to help
you. We duplicate this message by our wireless transmitter in the hope
that it may reach you. We will slowly traverse your region. When you
have detached this bottle, please replace your own message in it. We
will act upon your instructions.'

For two days the Marion cruised slowly to and fro without result. On
the third a very great surprise awaited the rescue party. A small,
highly luminous ball shot out of the water a few hundred yards from
the ship, and proved to be a vitreous message-bearer of the sort which
had been described in the original document. Having been broken with
some difficulty, the following message was read:

'Thanks, dear friends. We greatly appreciate your grand loyalty and
energy. We receive your wireless messages with facility, and are in a
position to answer you in this fashion. We have endeavoured to get
possession of your line, but the currents lift it high, and it sweeps
along rather faster than even the most active of us can move against
the resistance of the water. We propose to make our venture at six
tomorrow morning, which should, according to our reckoning, be
Tuesday, July 5th. We will come one at a time, so that any advice
arising from our experience can be wirelessed back to those who come
later. Once again heartfelt thanks.

Maracot. Headley. Scanlan.'


Mr. Key Osborne now takes up the narrative:

'It was a perfect morning, and the deep sapphire sea lay as smooth as
a lake, with the glorious arch of the deep blue sky unbroken by the
smallest cloud. The whole crew of the Marion was early astir, and
awaited events with the most tense interest. As the hour of six drew
near our anticipation was painful. A look-out had been placed upon our
signal mast, and it was just five minutes to the hour when we heard
him shouting, and saw him pointing to the water on our port bow. We
all crowded to that side of the deck, and I was able to perch myself
on one of the boats, from which I had a clear view. I saw through the
still water something which looked like a silver bubble ascending with
great rapidity from the depths of the ocean. It broke the surface
about two hundred yards from the ship, and soared straight up into the
air, a beautiful shining globe some three feet in diameter, rising to
a great height and then drifting away in some slight current of wind
exactly as a toy balloon would do. It was a marvellous sight, but it
filled us with apprehension, for it seemed as if the harness might
have come loose, and the burden which this tractor should have borne
through the waters had been shaken loose upon the way. A wireless was
at once dispatched:

"'Your messenger has appeared close to the vessel. It had nothing
attached and has flown away." Meanwhile we lowered a boat so as to be
ready for any development.

'Just after six o'clock there was another signal from our watchman,
and an instant later I caught sight of another silver globe, which was
swimming up from the depths very much more slowly than the last. On
reaching the surface it floated in the air, but its burden was
supported upon the water. This burden proved upon examination to be a
great bundle of books, papers, and miscellaneous objects all wrapped
in a casing of fish skin. It was hoisted dripping upon the deck, and
was acknowledged by wireless, while we eagerly awaited the next
arrival.

'This was not long in coming. Again the silver bubble, again the
breaking of the surface, but this time the glistening ball shot high
into the air, suspending under it, to our amazement, the slim figure
of a woman. It was but the impetus which had carried her into the air,
and an instant later she had been towed to the side of the vessel. A
leather circlet had been firmly fastened round the upper curve of the
glass ball, and from this long straps depended which were attached to
a broad leather belt round her dainty waist. The upper part of her
body was covered by a peculiar pear-shaped glass shade--I call it
glass, but it was of the same tough light material as the vitreous
ball. It was almost transparent, with silvery veins running through
its substance. This glass covering had tight elastic attachments at
the waist and shoulders, which made it perfectly watertight, while it
was provided within, as has been described in Headley's original
manuscript, with novel but very light and practical chemical apparatus
for the renovation of air. With some difficulty the breathing bell was
removed and the lady hoisted upon deck. She lay there in a deep faint,
but her regular breathing encouraged us to think that she would soon
recover from the effects of her rapid journey and from the change of
pressure, which had been minimized by the fact that the density of the
air inside the protective sheath was considerably higher than our
atmosphere, so that it may be said to have represented that half-way
point at which human divers are wont to pause.

'Presumably this is the Atlantean woman referred to in the first
message as Mona, and if we may take her as a sample they are indeed a
race worth reintroducing to earth. She is dark in complexion,
beautifully clear-cut and high-bred in feature, with long black hair,
and magnificently hazel eyes which looked round her presently in a
charming amazement. Sea-shells and mother-of-pearl were worked into
her cream-coloured tunic, and tangled in her dark hair. A more perfect
Naiad of the Deep could not be imagined, the very personification of
the mystery and the glamour of the sea. We could see complete
consciousness coming back into those marvellous eyes, and then she
sprang suddenly to her feet with the activity of a young doe and ran
to the side of the vessel. "Cyrus! Cyrus!" she cried.

'We had already removed the anxiety of those below by a wireless. But
now in quick succession each of them arrived, shooting thirty or forty
feet into the air, and then falling back into the sea, from which we
quickly raised them. All three were unconscious, and Scanlan was
bleeding at the nose and ears, but within an hour all were able to
totter to their feet: The first action of each was, I imagine,
characteristic. Scanlan was led off by a laughing group to the bar,
from which shouts of merriment are now resounding, much to the
detriment of this composition. Dr. Maracot seized the bundle of
papers, tore out one which consisted entirely, so far as I could
judge, of algebraic symbols, and disappeared downstairs, while Cyrus
Headley ran to the side of his strange maiden, and looks, by last
reports, as if he had no intention of ever quitting it. Thus the
matter stands, and we trust our weak wireless will carry our message
as far as the Cape de Verde station. The fuller details of this
wonderful adventure will come later, as is fitting, from the
adventurers themselves.'

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« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2007, 02:55:22 pm »

Chapter 6

There are very many people who have written both to me, Cyrus Headley,
Rhodes Scholar of Oxford, and to Professor Maracot, and even to Bill
Scanlan, since our very remarkable experience at the bottom of the
Atlantic, where we were able at a point 200 miles south-west of the
Canaries to make a submarine descent which has not only led to a
revision of our views concerning deep-sea life and pressures, but has
also established the survival of an old civilization under incredibly
difficult conditions. In these letters we have been continually asked
to give further details about our experiences. It will be understood
that my original document was a very superficial one, and yet it
covered most of the facts. There were some, however, which were
withheld, and above all the tremendous episode of the Lords of the
Dark Face. This involved some facts and some conclusions of so utterly
extraordinary a nature that we all thought it was best to suppress it
entirely for the present. Now, however, that Science has accepted our
conclusions--and I may add since Society has accepted my bride--our
general veracity is established and we may perhaps venture upon a
narrative which might have repulsed public sympathy in the first
instance.

Before I get to the one tremendous happening I would lead up to it by
some reminiscences of those wonderful months in the buried home of the
Atlanteans, who by means of their vitrine oxygen bells are able to
walk the ocean floor with the same ease as those Londoners whom I see
now from my windows in the Hyde Park Hotel are strolling among the
flower-beds.

When first we were taken in by these people after our dreadful fall
from the surface we were in the position of prisoners rather than of
guests. I wish now to set upon record how this came to change and how
through the splendour of Dr. Maracot we have left such a name down
there that the memory of us will go down in their annals as of some
celestial visitation. They knew nothing of our leaving, which they
would certainly have prevented if they could, so that no doubt there
is already a legend that we have returned to some heavenly sphere,
taking with us the sweetest and choicest flower of their flock.

I would wish now to set down in their order some of the strange things
of this wonderful world, and also some of the adventures which befell
us until I came to the supreme adventure of all--one which will leave
a mark upon each of us for ever--the coming of the Lord of the Dark
Face. In some ways I wish that we could have stayed longer in the
Maracot Deep for there were many mysteries there, and up to the end
there were things which we could not understand. Also we were rapidly
learning something of their language, so that soon we should have had
much more information.

Experience had taught these people what was terrible and what was
innocent. One day, I remember, that there was a sudden alarm and that
we all ran out in our oxygen bells on to the ocean bed, though why we
ran or what we meant to do was a mystery to us. There could be no
mistake, however, as to the horror and distraction upon the faces of
those around us. When we got out on to the plain we met a number of
the Greek coal-workers who were hastening towards the door of our
Colony. They had come at such a pace, and were so weary that they kept
falling down in the ooze, and it was clear that we were really a
rescue party for the purpose of picking up these cripples, and
hurrying up the laggards. We saw no sign of weapons and no show of
resistance against the coming danger. Soon the colliers were hustled
along, and when the last one had been shoved through the door we
looked back along the line that they had traversed. All that we could
see was a couple of greenish wisp-like clouds, luminous in the centre
and ragged at the edges, which were drifting rather than moving in our
direction. At the clear sight of them, though they were quite half a
mile away, my companions were filled with panic and beat at the door
so as to get in the sooner. It was surely nervous work to see these
mysterious centres of trouble draw nearer, but the pumps acted swiftly
and we were soon in safety once more. There was a great block of
transparent crystal, ten feet long and two feet broad, above the
lintel of the door, with lights so arranged that they threw a strong
glare outside. Mounted on the ladders kept for the purpose, several of
us, including myself, looked through this rude window. I saw the
strange shimmering green circles of light pause before the door. As
they did so the Atlanteans on either side of me simply gibbered with
fear. Then one of the shadowy creatures outside came flicking up
through the water and made for our crystal window. Instantly my
companions pulled me down below the level of vision, but it seems that
in my carelessness some of my hair did not get clear from whatever the
maleficent influence may be which these strange creatures send forth.
There is a patch there which is withered and white to this day.

It was not for a long time that the Atlanteans dared to open their
door, and when at last a scout was sent forth he went amid
hand-shakings and slaps on the back as one who does a gallant deed.
His report was that all was clear, and soon joy had returned to the
community, and this strange visitation seemed to have been forgotten.
We only gathered from the word 'Praxa', repeated in various tones of
horror, that this was the name of the creature. The only person who
derived real joy from the incident was Professor Maracot, who could
hardly be restrained from sallying out with a small net and a glass
vase. 'A new order of life, partly organic, partly gaseous, but
clearly intelligent,' was his general comment. 'A freak out of Hell,'
was Scanlan's less scientific description.

Two days afterwards, when we were out on what we called a shrimping
expedition, when we walked among the deep-sea foliage and captured in
our hand-nets specimens of the smaller fish, we came suddenly upon the
body of one of the coal-workers, who had no doubt been overtaken in
his flight by these strange creatures. The glass bell had been broken
--a matter which called for enormous strength, for this vitrine
substance is extraordinarily tough, as you realized when you attempted
to reach my first documents. The man's eyes had been tom out, but
otherwise he had been uninjured.

'A dainty feeder!' said the Professor after our return. 'There is a
hawk parrot in New Zealand which will kill the lamb in order to get at
a particular morsel of fat above the kidney. So this creature will
slay the man for his eyes. In the heavens above and in the waters
below Nature knows but one law, and it is, alas! remorseless cruelty.'

We had many examples of that terrible law down there in the depths of
the ocean. I can remember, for example, that many times we observed a
curious groove upon the soft bathybian mud, as if a barrel had been
rolled along it. We pointed it out to our Atlantean companions, and
when we could interrogate them we tried to get from them some account
of what this creature could be. As to its name our friends gave some
of those peculiar clicking sounds which come into the Atlantean
speech, and which cannot be reproduced either by the European tongue
or by the European alphabet. Krixchok is, perhaps, an approximation to
it. But as to its appearance we could always in such cases make use of
the Atlantean thought reflector by which our friends were able to give
a very clear vision of whatever was in their own minds. By this means
they conveyed to us a picture of a very strange marine creature which
the Professor could only classify as a gigantic sea slug. It seemed to
be of great size, sausage shaped with eyes at the ends of stems, and a
thick coating of coarse hair or bristles. When showing this
apparition, our friends by their gestures expressed the greatest
horror and repulsion.

But this, as anyone could predicate who knew Maracot, only served to
inflame his scientific passions and to make him the more eager to
determine the exact species and sub-species of this unknown monster.
Accordingly I was not surprised when, on the occasion of our next
excursion, he stopped at the point where we clearly saw the mark of
the brute upon the slime, and turned deliberately towards the tangle
of seaweed and basaltic blocks out of which it seemed to have come.
The moment we left the plain the traces of course ceased, and yet
there seemed to be a natural gully amid the rocks which clearly led to
the den of the monster. We were all three armed with the pikes which
the Atlanteans usually carried, but they seemed to me to be frail
things with which to face unknown dangers. The Professor trudged
ahead, however, and we could but follow after.

The rocky gorge ran upwards, its sides formed of huge clusters of
volcanic debris and draped with a profusion of the long red and black
forms of lamellaria which are characteristic of the extreme depths of
Ocean. A thousand beautiful ascidians and echinoderms of every joyous
colour and fantastic shape peeped out from amid this herbage, which
was alive with strange crustaceans and low forms of creeping life. Our
progress was slow, for walking is never easy in the depths, and the
angle up which we toiled was an acute one. Suddenly, however, we saw
the creature whom we hunted, and the sight was not a reassuring one.
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« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2007, 02:56:16 pm »

It was half protruded from its lair, which was a hollow in a basaltic
pile. About five feet of hairy body was visible, and we perceived its
eyes, which were as large as saucers, yellow in colour, and glittering
like agates, moving round slowly upon their long pedicles as it heard
the sound of our approach. Then slowly it began to unwind itself from
its burrow, waving its heavy body along in caterpillar fashion. Once
it reared up its head some four feet from the rocks, so as to have a
better look at us, and I observed, as it did so, that it had what
looked like the corrugated soles of tennis shoes fastened on either
side of its neck, the same colour, size, and striped appearance. What
this might mean I could not conjecture, but we were soon to have an
object lesson in their use.

The Professor had braced himself with his pike projecting forward and
a most determined expression upon his face. It was clear that the hope
of a rare specimen had swept all fear from his mind. Scanlan and I
were by no means so sure of ourselves, but we could not abandon the
old man, so we stood our ground on either side of him.

The creature, after that one long stare, began slowly and clumsily to
make its way down the slope, worming its path among the rocks, and
raising its pedicled eyes from time to time to see what we were about.
It came so slowly that we seemed safe enough, since we could always
out-distance it. And yet, had we only known it, we were standing very
near to death.

It was surely Providence that sent us our warning. The beast was still
making its lumbering approach, and may have been sixty yards from us,
when a very large fish, a deep-sea groper, shot out from the
algae-jungle on our side of the gorge and swam slowly across it. It
had reached the centre, and was about midway between the creature and
ourselves when it gave a convulsive leap, turned belly upwards, and
sank dead to the bottom of the ravine. At the same moment each of us
felt an extraordinary and most unpleasant tingling pass over our whole
bodies, while our knees seemed to give way beneath us. Old Maracot was
as wary as he was audacious, and in an instant he had sized up the
situation and realized that the game was up. We were faced by some
creature which threw out electric waves to kill its prey, and our
pikes were of no more use against it than against a machine-gun. Had
it not been for the lucky chance that the fish drew its fire, we
should have waited until it was near enough to loose off its full
battery, which would infallibly have destroyed us. We blundered off as
swiftly as we could, with the resolution to leave the giant electric
sea-worm severely alone for the future.

These were some of the more terrible of the dangers of the deep.. Yet
another was the little black Hydrops ferox, as the Professor named
him. He was a red fish not much longer than a herring, with a large
mouth and a formidable row of teeth. He was harmless in ordinary
circumstances, but the shedding of blood, even the very smallest
amount of it, attracted him in an instant, and there was no possible
salvation for the victim, who was torn to pieces by swarms of
attackers. We saw a horrible sight once at the colliery pits, where a
slave worker had the misfortune to cut his hand. In an instant, coming
from all quarters, thousands of these fish were on to him. In vain he
threw himself down and struggled; in vain his horrified companions
beat them away with their picks and shovels. The lower part of him,
beneath his bell, dissolved before our eyes amid the cloud of vibrant
life which surrounded him. One instant we saw a man. The next there
was a red mass with white protruding bones. A minute later the bones
only were left below the waist and half a clean-picked skeleton was
lying at the bottom of the sea. The sight was so horrifying that we
were all ill, and the hard-boiled Scanlan actually fell down in a
faint and we had some difficulty in getting him home.

But the strange sights which we saw were not always horrifying. I have
in mind one which will never fade from our memory. It was on one of
those excursions which we delighted to take, sometimes with an
Atlantean guide, and sometimes by ourselves when our hosts had learned
that we did not need constant attendance and nursing. We were passing
over a portion of the plain with which we were quite familiar, when we
perceived, to our surprise, that a great patch of light yellow sand,
half an acre or so in extent, had been laid down or uncovered since
our last visit. We were standing in some surprise, wondering what
submarine current or seismic movement could have brought this about,
when to our absolute amazement the whole thing rose up and swam with
slow undulations immediately above our heads. It was so huge that the
great canopy took some appreciable time, a minute or two, to pass from
over us. It was a gigantic flat fish, not different, so far as the
Professor could observe, from one of our own little dabs, but grown to
this enormous size upon the nutritious food which the bathybian
deposits provide. It vanished away into the darkness above us, a
great, glimmering, flickering white--and yellow expanse, and we saw it
no more.

There was one other phenomenon of the deep sea which was very
unexpected. That was the tornadoes which frequently occur. They seem
to be caused by the periodical arrival of violent submarine currents
which set in with little warning and are terrific while they last,
causing as much confusion and destruction as the highest wind would do
upon land. No doubt without these visitations there would be that
putridity and stagnation which absolute immobility must give, so that,
as in all Nature's processes, there was an excellent object in view;
but the experience none the less was an alarming one.

On the first occasion when I was caught in such a watery cyclone, I
had gone out with that very dear lady to whom I have alluded, Mona,
the daughter of Manda. There was a very beautiful bank loaded with
algae of a thousand varied colours which lay a mile or so from the
Colony. This was Mona's very special garden which she greatly loved, a
tangle of pink serpularia, purple ophiurids and red holothurians. On
this day she had taken me to see it, and it was while we were standing
before it that the storm burst. So strong was the current which
suddenly flowed upon us that it was only by holding together and
getting behind the shelter of rocks that we could save ourselves from
being washed away. I observed that this rushing stream of water was
quite warm, almost as warm as one could bear, which may show that
there is a volcanic origin in these disturbances and that they are the
wash from some submarine disturbance in some far-off region of the
ocean bed. The mud of the great plain was stirred up by the rush of
the current, and the light was darkened by the thick cloud of matter
suspended in the water around us. To find our way back was impossible,
for we had lost all sense of direction, and in any case could hardly
move against the rush of the water. Then on the top of all else a
slowly increasing heaviness of the chest and difficulty in breathing
warned me that our oxygen supply was beginning to fail us.

It is at such times, when we are in the immediate presence of death,
that the great primitive passions float to the surface and submerge
all our lesser emotions. It was only at that moment that I knew that I
loved my gentle companion, loved her with all my heart and soul, loved
her with a love which was rooted deep down and was part of my very
self. How strange a thing is a love like that! How impossible to
analyse! It was not for her face or figure, lovely as they were. It
was not for her voice, though it was more musical than any I have
known, nor was it for mental communion, since I could only learn her
thoughts from her sensitive ever-changing face. No, it was something
at the back of her dark dreamy eyes, something in the very depths of
her soul as of mine which made us mates for all time. I held out my
hand and clasped her own, reading in her face that there was no
thought or emotion of mine which was not flooding her own receptive
mind and flushing her lovely cheek. Death at my side would present no
terror to her, and as for myself my heart throbbed at the very
thought.

But it was not to be. One would think that our glass coverings
excluded sounds, but as a matter of fact the throb of certain air
vibrations penetrated them easily, or by their impact started similar
vibrations within. There was a loud beat, a reverberating clang, like
that of a distant gong. I had no idea what it might mean, but my
companion was in no doubt. Still holding my hand, she rose from our
shelter, and after listening intently she crouched down and began to
make her way against the storm. It was a race against death, for every
instant the terrible oppression on my chest became more unbearable. I
saw her dear face peering most anxiously into mine, and I staggered on
in the direction to which she led me. Her appearance and her movements
showed that her oxygen supply was less exhausted than mine. I held on
as long as Nature would allow, and then suddenly everything swam
around me. I threw out my arms and fell senseless upon the soft ocean
floor.
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« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2007, 02:56:58 pm »

When I came to myself I was lying on my own couch inside the Atlantean
Palace. The old yellow--clad priest was standing beside me, a phial of
some stimulant in his hand. Maracot and Scanlan, with distressed
faces, were bending over me, while Mona knelt at the bottom of the bed
with tender anxiety upon her features. It seems that the brave girl
had hastened on to the community door, from which on occasions of this
sort it was the custom to beat a great gong as a guide to any
wanderers who might be lost. There she had explained my position and
had guided back the rescue party, including my two comrades who had
brought me back in their arms. Whatever I may do in life, it is truly
Mona who will do it, for that life has been a gift from her.

Now that by a miracle she has come to join me in the upper world, the
human world under the sky, it is strange to reflect upon the fact that
my love was such that I was willing, most willing, to remain for ever
in the depths so long as she should be all my own. For long I could
not understand that deep, deep intimate bond which held us together,
and which was felt, as I could see, as strongly by her as by me. It
was Manda, her father, who gave me an explanation which was as
unexpected as it was satisfying.

He had smiled gently over our love affair--smiled with the indulgent,
half-amused air of one who sees that come to pass which he had already
anticipated. Then one day he led me aside and in his own chamber he
placed that silver screen upon which his thoughts and knowledge could
be reflected. Never while the breath of life is in my body can I
forget that which he showed me--and her. Seated side by side, our
hands clasped together, we watched entranced while the pictures
flickered up before our eyes, formed and projected by that racial
memory of the past which these Atlanteans possess.

There was a rocky peninsula jutting out into a lovely blue ocean. I
may not have told you before that in these thought cinemas, if I may
use the expression, colour is produced as well as form. On this
headland was a house of quaint design, wide-spread, red-roofed,
white-walled, and beautiful. A grove of palm trees surrounded it. In
this grove there appeared to be a camp, for we could see the white
sheen of tents and here and there the glimmer of arms as of some
sentinel keeping ward. Out of this grove there walked a middle-aged
man clad in mail armour, with a round light shield on his arm. He
carried something in his other hand, but whether sword or javelin I
could not see. He turned his face towards us once, and I saw at once
that he was of the same breed as the Atlantean men who were around me.
Indeed, he might have been the twin brother of Manda, save that his
features were harsh and menacing--a brute man, but one who was brutal
not from ignorance but from the trend of his own nature. The brute and
the brain are surely the most dangerous of all combinations. In this
high forehead and sardonic, bearded mouth one sensed the very essence
of evil. If this were indeed some previous incarnation of Manda
himself, and by his gestures he seemed to wish us to understand that
it was, then in soul, if not in mind, he has risen far since then.

As he approached the house, we saw in the picture that a young woman
came out to meet him. She was clad as the old Greeks were clad, in a
long clinging white garment, the simplest and yet the most beautiful
and dignified dress that woman has ever yet devised. Her manner as she
approached the man was one of submission and reverence--the manner of
a dutiful daughter to a father. He repulsed her savagely, however,
raising his hand as if to strike her As she shrank back from him, the
sun lit up her beautiful, tearful face and I saw that it was my Mona.

The silver screen blurred, and an instant later another scene was
forming. It was a rock-bound cove, which I sensed to belong to that
very peninsula which I had already seen. A strange-shaped boat with
high pointed ends was in the foreground. It was night, but the moon
shone very brightly on the water. The familiar stars, the same to
Atlantis as to us, glittered in the sky. Slowly and cautiously the
boat drew in. There were two rowers, and in the bows a man enveloped
in a dark cloak. As he came close to the shore he stood up and looked
eagerly around him. I saw his pale, earnest face in the clear
moonlight. It did not need the convulsive clasp of Mona or the
ejaculation of Manda to explain that strange intimate thrill which
shot over me as I looked. The man was myself.

Yes, I, Cyrus Headley, now of New York and of Oxford; I, the latest
product of modern culture, had myself once been part of this mighty
civilization of old. I understood now why many of the symbols and
hieroglyphs which I had seen around had impressed me with a vague
familiarity. Again and again I had felt like a man who strains his
memory because he feels that he is on the edge of some great
discovery, which is always awaiting him, and yet is always just
outside his grasp. Now, too, I understood that deep soul thrill which
I had encountered when my eyes met those of Mona. They came from the
depths of my own subconscious self where the memories of twelve
thousand years still lingered.

Now the boat had touched the shore, and out of the bushes above there
had come a glimmering white figure. My arms were outstretched to
enfold it. After one hurried embrace I had half lifted, half carried
her into the boat. But now there was a sudden alarm. With frantic
gestures I beckoned to the rowers to push out. It was too late. Men
swarmed out of the bushes. Eager hands seized the side of the boat. In
vain I tried to beat them off. An axe gleamed in the air and crashed
down upon my head. I fell forward dead upon the lady bathing her white
robe in my blood. I saw her screaming, wild-eyed and open-mouthed,
while her father dragged her by her long black hair from underneath my
body. Then the curtain closed down.
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« Reply #26 on: October 28, 2007, 02:59:32 pm »

Once again a picture flickered up upon the silver screen. It was
inside the house of refuge which had been built by the wise Atlantean
for a place of refuge on the day of doom--that very house in which we
now stood. I saw its crowded, terrified inmates at the moment of the
catastrophe. Then I saw my Mona once again, and there also was her
father who had learned better and wiser ways so that he was now
included among those who might be saved. We saw the great hall rocking
like a ship in a storm, while the awestruck refugees clung to the
pillars or fell upon the floor. Then we saw the lurch and fall as it
descended through the waves.  Once more the scene died away, and Manda
turned smiling to show that all was over.

Yes, we had lived before, the whole group of us, Manda and Mona and I,
and perhaps shall live again, acting and reacting down the long chain
of our lives. I had died in the upper world, and so my own
reincarnations had been upon that plane. Manda and Mona had died
under, the waves, and so it was there that their cosmic destiny had
been worked out. We had for a moment seen a corner lifted in the great
dark veil of Nature and had one passing gleam of truth amid the
mysteries which surround us. Each life is but one chapter in a story
which God has designed. You cannot judge its wisdom or its justice
until in some supreme day, from some pinnacle of knowledge, you look
back and see at last the cause and the effect, acting and reacting,
down all the long chronicles of Time.

This new-found and delightful relationship of mine may have saved us
all a little later when the only serious quarrel which we ever had
broke out between us and the community with which we dwelt. As it was,
it might have gone ill with us had not a far greater matter come to
engage the attention of all, and to place us on a pinnacle in their
estimation. It came about thus.

One morning, if such a term can be used where the time of day could
only be judged by our occupations, the Professor and I were seated in
our large common room. He had fitted one corner of it as a laboratory
and was busily engaged in dissecting a gastrostomus which he had
netted the day before. On his table were scattered a litter of
amphipods and copepods with specimens of Valella, Ianthina, Physalia,
and a hundred other creatures whose smell was by no means as
attractive as their appearance. I was seated near him studying an
Atlantean grammar, for our friends had plenty of books, printed in
curious right to left fashion upon what I thought was parchment but
which proved to be the bladders of fishes, pressed and preserved. I
was bent on getting the key which would unlock all this knowledge, and
therefore I spent much of my time over the alphabet and the elements
of the language.

Suddenly, however, our peaceful pursuits were rudely interrupted by an
extraordinary procession which rushed into the room. First came Bill
Scanlan, very red and excited, one arm waving in the air, and, to our
amazement, a plump and noisy baby under the other. Behind him was
Berbrix, the Atlantean engineer who had helped Scanlan to erect the
wireless receiver. He was a large stout jovial man as a rule, but now
his big fat face was convulsed with grief. Behind him again was a
woman whose straw-coloured hair and blue eyes showed that she was no
Atlantean but one of the subordinate race which we traced to the
ancient Greeks.

'Look it here, boss,' cried the excited Scanlan. 'This guy Berbrix,
who is a regular fellar, is going clean goofie and so is this skirt
whom he has married, and I guess it is up to us to see that they get a
square deal. Far as I understand it she is like a **** would be down
South, and he said a mouthful when he asked her to marry him, but I
reckon that's the guy's own affair and nothing to us.'

'Of course it is his own affair,' said I. 'What on earth has bitten
you, Scanlan?'

'It's like this, boss. Here ha! a baby come along. It seems the folk
here don't want a breed of that sort nohow, and the Priests are out to
offer up the baby to that darn image down yonder. The chief high
muck-a-muck got hold of the baby and was sailin' off with it but
Berbrix yanked it away, and I threw him down on his ear-hole, and now
the whole pack are at our heels and--'

Scanlan got no further with his explanation, for there was a shouting
and a rush of feet in the passage, our door was flung open, and
several of the yellow-clad attendants of the Temple rushed into the
room. Behind them, fierce and austere, came the high-nosed formidable
Priest. He, beckoned with his hand, and his servants rushed forward to
seize the child. They halted, however, in indecision as they saw
Scanlan throw the baby down among the specimens on the table behind
him, and pick up a pike with which he confronted his assailants. They
had drawn their knives, so I also ran with a pike to Scanlan's aid,
while Berbrix did the same. So menacing were we that the Temple
servants shrank back and things seemed to have come to a deadlock.

'Mr. Headley, sir, you speak a bit of their lingo,' cried: Scanlan.
'Tell them there ain't no soft pickings here. Tell them we ain't
givin' away no babies this morning, thank you. Tell them there will be
such a rough house as they never saw if they don't vamose the ranche.
There now, you asked for it and you've got it good and plenty and I
wish you joy.'

The latter part of Scanlan's speech was caused by the fact that Dr.
Maracot had suddenly plunged the scalpel with which he was performing
his dissection into the arm of one of the attendants who had crept
round and had raised his knife to stab Scanlan. The man howled and
danced about in fear and pain while his comrades, incited by the old
Priest, prepared to make a rush. Heaven only knows what would have
happened if Manda and Mona had not entered the room. He stared with
amazement at the scene and asked a number of eager questions of the
High Priest. Mona had come over to me, and with a happy inspiration I
picked up the baby and placed it in her arms, where it settled down
and cooed most contentedly.

Manda's brow was overcast and it was clear that he was greatly puzzled
what to do. He sent the Priest and his satellites back to the Temple,
and then he entered into a long explanation, only a part of which I
could understand and pass on to my companions.

'You are to give up the baby,' I said to Scanlan.

'Give it up! No, sir. Nothin' doing!'

'This lady is to take charge of mother and child.'

'That's another matter. If Miss Mona takes it on, I am contented. But
if that bindlestiff of a priest--'

'No, no, he cannot interfere. The matter is to be referred to the
Council. It is very serious, for I understand Manda to say that the
Priest is within his rights and that it is an old-established custom
of the nation. They could never, he says, distinguish between the
upper and lower races if they had all sorts of intermediates in
between. If children are born they must die. That is the law.'

'Well, this baby won't die anyhow.'

'I hope not. He said he would do all he could with the Council. But it
will be a week or two before they meet. So it's safe up to then, and
who knows what may happen in the meantime.'

Yes, who knew what might happen. Who could have dreamed what did
happen. Out of this is fashioned the next chapter of our adventures.

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« Reply #27 on: October 28, 2007, 03:00:30 pm »

Chapter 7

I have already said that within a short distance of the underground
dwelling of the Atlanteans, prepared beforehand to meet the
catastrophe which overwhelmed their native land, there lay the ruins
of that great city of which their dwelling had once been part. I have
described also how with the vitrine bells charged with oxygen upon our
heads we were taken to visit this place, and I tried to convey how
deep were our emotions as we viewed it. No words can describe the
tremendous impression produced by those colossal ruins, the huge
carved pillars and gigantic buildings, all lying stark and silent in
the grey phosphorescent light of the bathybian deeps, with no movement
save the slow wash of the giant fronds in the deep-sea currents, or
the flickering shadows of the great fish which passed through the
gaping doors or flitted round the dismantled chambers. It was a
favourite haunt of ours, and under the guidance of our friend Manda we
passed many an hour examining the strange architecture and all the
other remains of that vanished civilization which bore every sign of
having been, so far as material knowledge goes, far ahead of our own.

I have said material knowledge. Soon we were to have proof that in
spiritual culture there was a vast chasm which separated them from us.
The lesson which we carry from their rise and their fall is that the
greatest danger which can come to a state is when its intellect
outruns its soul. It destroyed this old civilization, and it may yet
be the ruin of our own.

We had observed that in one part of the ancient city there was a large
building which must have stood upon a hill, for it was still
considerably elevated above the general level. A long flight of broad
steps constructed from black marble led up to it, and the same
material had been used in most of the building, but it was nearly
obscured now by a horrible yellow fungus, a fleshy leprous mass, which
hung down from every cornice and projection. Above the main doorway,
carved also in black marble, was a terrible Medusa-like head with
radiating serpents, and the same symbol was repeated here and there
upon the walls. Several times we had wished to explore this sinister
building, but on each occasion our friend Manda had shown the greatest
agitation and by frantic gestures had implored us to turn away. It was
clear that so long as he was in our company we should never have our
way, and yet a great curiosity urged us to penetrate the secret of
this ominous place. We held a council on the matter one morning, Bill
Scanlan and I.

'Look it here, Bo,' said he, 'there is something there that this guy
does not want us to see, and the more he hides it the more of a hunch
have I that I want to be set wise to it. We don't need no guides any
more, you or I. I guess we can put on our own glass tops and walk out
of the front door same as any other citizen. Let us go down and
explore.'

'Why not?' said I, for I was as curious about the matter as Scanlan.
'Do you see any objection, sir?' I asked, for Dr. Maracot had entered
the room. 'Perhaps you would care to come down with us and fathom the
mystery of the Palace of Black Marble.'

'It may be the Palace of Black Magic as well,' said he. 'Did you ever
hear of the Lord of the Dark Face?'

I confessed that I never did. I forget if I have said before that the
Professor was a world-famed specialist on Comparative Religions and
ancient primitive beliefs. Even the distant Atlantis was not beyond
the range of his learning.

'Our knowledge of the conditions there came to us chiefly by way of
Egypt,' said he. 'It is what the Priests of the Temple at Sais told
Solon which is the solid nucleus round which all the rest, part fact
and part fiction, has gathered.'

'And what wisecracks did the priests say?' asked Scanlan.

'Well, they said a good deal. But among other things they handed down
a legend of the Lord of the Dark Face. I can't help thinking that he
may have been the Master of the Black Marble Palace. Some say that
there were several Lords of the Dark Face--but one at least is on
record.'

'And what sort of a duck was he?' asked Scanlan.,

'Well, by all accounts, he was more than a man, both in his power and
in his wickedness. Indeed, it was on account of these things, and on
account of the utter corruption which he had brought upon the people,
that the whole land was destroyed.'

'Like Sodom and Gomorrah.'

'Exactly. There would seem to be a point where things become
impossible. Nature's patience is exhausted, and the only course open
is to smear it all out and begin again. This creature, one can hardly
call him a man, had trafficked in unholy arts and had acquired magic
powers of the most far--reaching sort which he turned to evil ends.
That is the legend of the Lord of the Dark Face. It would explain why
his house is still a thing of horror to these poor people and why they
dread that we should go near it.'

'Which makes me the more eager to do so,' I cried.

'Same here, Bo,' Bill added.

'I confess that I, too, should be interested to examine it,' said the
Professor. 'I cannot see that our kind hosts here will be any the
worse if we make a little expedition of our own, since their
superstition makes it difficult for them to accompany us. We will take
our opportunity and do so.'

It was some little time before that opportunity came, for our small
community was so closely knit that there was little privacy in life.
It chanced, however, one morning--so far as we could with our rough
calendar reckon night and morning--there was some religious
observance which assembled them all and took up all their attention.
The chance was too good for us to miss and having assured the two
janitors who worked the great pumps of the entrance chamber that all
was right we soon found ourselves alone upon the ocean bed and bound
for the old city. Progress is slow through the heavy medium of salt
water, and even a short walk is wearying, but within an hour we found
ourselves in front of the huge black building which had excited our
curiosity. With no friendly guide to check us, and no presentiment of
danger, we ascended the marble stair and passed through the huge
carved portals of this palace of evil.

It was far better preserved than the other buildings of the old city--
so much so, indeed, that the stone shell was in no way altered, and
only the furniture and the hangings had long decayed and vanished.
Nature, however, had brought her own hangings, and very horrible they
were. It was a gloomy shadowy place at the best, but in those hideous
shadows lurked the obscene shapes of monstrous polyps and strange,
misformed fish which were like the creations of a nightmare.
Especially I remember an enormous purple sea-slug which crawled, in
great numbers, everywhere and large black flat fish which lay like
mats upon the floor, with long waving tentacles tipped with flame
vibrating above them in the water. We had to step carefully, for the
whole building was filled with hideous creatures which might well
prove to be as poisonous as they looked.

There were richly ornamented passages with small side rooms leading
out from them, but the centre of the building was taken up by one
magnificent hall, which in the days of its grandeur must have been one
of the most wonderful chambers ever erected by human hands. In that
gloomy light we could see neither the roof nor the full sweep of the
walls, but as we walked round, our lamps casting tunnels of light
before us, we appreciated its huge proportions and the marvellous
decorations of the walls. These decorations took the form of statues
and ornaments, carved with the highest perfection of art, but horrible
and revolting in their subjects. All that the most depraved human mind
could conceive of Sadic cruelty and bestial lust was reproduced upon
the walls. Through the shadows monstrous images and horrible
imaginings loomed round us on every side. If ever the devil had a
Temple erected in his honour, it was there. So too was the devil
himself, for at one end of the room, under a canopy of discoloured
metal which may well have been gold, and on a high throne of red
marble, there was seated a dreadful deity, the very impersonation of
evil, savage, scowling and relentless, modelled upon the same lines as
the Baal whom we had seen in the Atlantean Colony, but infinitely
stranger and more repulsive. There was a fascination in the wonderful
vigour of that terrible countenance, and we were standing with our
lamps playing upon it, absorbed in our reflections, when the most
amazing, the most incredible thing came to break in upon our
reflections. From behind us there came the sound of a loud, derisive
human laugh.

Our heads were, as I have explained, enclosed in our glass bells, from
which all sound was excluded, nor was it possible for anyone wearing a
bell to utter any sound. And yet that mocking laugh fell clear upon
the ears of each of us. We sprang round and stood amazed at what was
before us.
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« Reply #28 on: October 28, 2007, 03:01:42 pm »

Against one of the pillars of the hall a man was leaning, his arms
folded upon his chest, and his malevolent eyes fixed with a
threatening glare upon ourselves. I have called him a man, but he was
unlike any man whom I have ever seen, and the fact that he both
breathed and talked as no man could breathe or talk, and made his
voice carry as no human voice could carry, told us that he had that in
him which made him very different from ourselves. Outwardly he was a
magnificent creature, not less than seven feet in height and built
upon the lines of a perfect athlete, which was more noticeable as he
wore a costume which fitted tightly upon his figure, and seemed to
consist of black glazed leather. His face was that of a bronze statue
--a statue wrought by some master craftsman in order to depict all the
power and also all the evil which the human features could portray. It
was not bloated or sensual, for such characteristics would have meant
weakness and there was no trace of weakness there. On the contrary, it
was extraordinarily clean-cut and aquiline, with an eagle nose, dark
bristling brows, and smouldering black eyes which flashed and glowed
with an inner fire. It was those remorseless, malignant eyes, and the
beautiful but cruel straight hard-lipped mouth, set like fate, which
gave the terror to his face. One felt, as one looked at him, that
magnificent as he was in his person, he was evil to the very marrow,
his glance a threat, his smile a sneer, his laugh a mockery:

'Well, gentlemen,' he said, talking excellent English in a voice which
sounded as clear as if we were all back upon earth, 'you have had a
remarkable adventure in the past and are likely to have an even more
exciting one in the future, though it may be my pleasant task to bring
it to a sudden end. This, I fear, is a rather one-sided conversation,
but as I am perfectly well able to read your thoughts, and as I know
all about you, you need not fear any misunderstanding. But you have a
great deal--a very great deal to learn.'

We looked at each other in helpless amazement. It was hard, indeed, to
be prevented from comparing notes as to our reactions to this amazing
development. Again we heard that rasping laugh.

'Yes, it is indeed hard. But you can talk when you return, for I wish
you to return and to take a message with you. If it were not for that
message, I think that this visit to my home would have been your end.
But first of all I have a few things which I wished to say to you. I
will address you, Dr. Maracot, as the oldest and presumably the wisest
of the party, though none could have been very wise to make such an
excursion as this. You hear me very well, do you not? That is right, a
nod or a shake is all I ask.

'Of course you know who I am. I fancy you discovered me lately. No one
can speak or think of me that I do not know it. No one can come into
this my old home, my innermost intimate shrine, that I am not
summoned. That is why these poor wretches down yonder avoid it, and
wanted you to avoid it a1so. You would have been wiser if you had
followed their advice. You have brought me to you, and when once I am
brought I do not readily leave.

'Your mind with its little grain of earth science is worrying itself
over the problems which I present. How is it that I can live here
without oxygen? I do not live here. I live in the great world of men
under the light of the sun. I only come here when I am called as you
have called me. But I am an ether-breathing creature. There is as much
ether here as on a mountain top. Some of your own people can live
without air. The cataleptic lies for months and never breathes. I'm
even as he, but I remain, as you see me, conscious and active.

'Now you worry as to how you can hear me. Is it not the very essence
of wireless transmission that it turns from the ether to the air? So
I, too, can turn my words from my etheric utterance to impinge upon
your ears through the air which fills those clumsy bells of yours.

'And my English? Well, I hope it is fairly good. I have lived some
time on earth, oh a weary, weary time. How long is it? Is this the
eleventh thousand or the twelfth thousand year? The latter, I think. I
have had time to learn all human tongues. My English is no better than
the rest.

'Have I resolved some of your doubts? That is right. I can see if I
cannot hear you. But now I have something more serious to say.

'I am Baal-seepa. I am the Lord of the Dark Face. I am he who went so
far into the inner secrets of Nature that I could defy death himself.
I have so handled things that I could not die if I would. Some will
stronger than my own is to be found if I am ever to die. Oh, mortals,
never pray to be delivered from death. It may seem terrible, but
eternal life is infinitely more so. To go on and on and on while the
endless procession of humanity goes past you. To sit ever at the
wayside of history and to see it go, ever moving onwards and leaving
you behind. Is it a wonder that my heart is black and bitter, and that
I curse the whole foolish drove of them? I injure them when I can. Why
should I not?

'You wonder how I can injure them. I have powers, and they are not
small ones. I can sway the minds of men. I am the master of the mob.
Where evil has been planned there have I ever been. I was with the
Huns when they laid half Europe in ruins. I was with the Saracens when
under the name of religion they put to the sword all who gainsayed
them. I was out on Bartholomew's night. I lay behind the slave trade.
It was my whisper which burned ten thousand old crones whom the fools
called witches. I was the tall dark man who led the mob in Paris when
the streets swam in blood. Rare times those, but they have been even
better of late in Russia. That is whence I have come. I had half
forgotten this colony of sea-rats who burrow under the mud and carry
on a few of the arts and legends of that grand land where life
flourished as never since. It is you who reminded me of them, for this
old home of mine is still united, by personal vibrations of which your
science knows nothing, to the man who built and loved it. I knew that
strangers had entered it. I inquired, and here I am. So now since I am
here--and it is the first time for a thousand years----it has
reminded me of these people. They have lingered long enough. It is
time for them to go. They are sprung from the power of one who defied
me in his life, and who built up this means of escape from the
catastrophe which engulfed all but his people and myself. His wisdom
saved them and my powers saved me. But now my powers will crush those
whom he saved, and the story will be complete.'

He put his hand into his breast and he took out a piece of script.
'You will give this to the chief of the water-rats,' said he. 'I
regret that you gentlemen should share their fate, but since you are
the primary cause of their misfortune it is only justice, after all. I
will see you again later. Meanwhile I would commend a study of these
pictures and carvings, which will give you some idea of the height to
which I had raised Atlantis during the days of my rule. Here you will
find some record of the manners and customs of the people when under
my influence. Life was very varied, very highly coloured, very
many-sided. In these drab days they would call it an **** of
wickedness. Well, call it what you will, I brought it about, I
rejoiced in it, and I have no regrets. Had I my time again, I would do
even so and more, save only for this fatal gift of eternal life.
Warda, whom I curse and whom I should have killed before he grew
strong enough to turn people against me, was wiser than I in this. He
still revisits earth, but it is as a spirit, not a man. And now I go.
You came here from curiosity, my friends. I can but trust that that
curiosity is satisfied.'

And then we saw him disappear. Yes, before our very eyes he vanished.
It was not done in an instant. He stood clear of the pillar against
which he had been leaning. His splendid towering figure seemed blurred
at the edges. The light died out of his eyes and his features grew
indistinct. Then in a moment he had become a dark whirling cloud which
swept upwards through the stagnant water of this dreadful hall. Then
he was gone, and we stood gazing at each other and marvelling at the
strange possibilities of life.
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Kothar Bishop
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« Reply #29 on: October 28, 2007, 03:02:25 pm »

We did not linger in that horrible palace. It was not a safe place in
which to loiter. As it was, I picked one of those noxious purple slugs
off the shoulder of Bill Scanlan, and I was myself badly stung in the
hand by the venom spat at me by a great yellow lamelli branch. As we
staggered out I had one last impression of those dreadful carvings,
the devil's own handiwork, upon the walls, and then we almost ran down
the darksome passage, cursing the day that ever we had been fools
enough to enter it. It was joy indeed to be out in the phosphorescent
light of the bathybian plain, and to see the clear translucent water
once again around us. Within an hour we were back in our home once
more. With our helmets removed, we met in consultation in our own
chamber. The Professor and I were too overwhelmed with it all to be
able to put our thoughts into words. It was only the irrepressible
vitality of Bill Scanlan which rose superior.

'Holy smoke!' said he. 'We are up against it now. I guess this guy is
the big noise out of hell. Seems to me, with his pictures and statues
and the rest, he would make the wardsman of a red light precinct look
like two cents. How to handle him--that's the question.'

Dr. Maracot was lost in thought. Then he rang the bell and summoned
our yellow-clad attendant. 'Manda,' said he. A minute later our friend
was in the room. Maracot handed him the fateful letter.

Never have I admired a man as I did Manda at that moment. We had
brought threatened ruin upon his people and himself by our
unjustifiable curiosity--we, the strangers whom he had rescued when
everything was hopelessly lost. And yet, though he turned a ghastly
colour as he read the message, there was no touch of reproach upon the
sad brown eyes which turned upon us. He shook his head, and despair
was in every gesture. 'Baal-seepa! Baal-seepa!' he cried, and pressed
his hands convulsively to his eyes, as if shutting out some horrible
vision. He ran about the room like a man distracted with his grief,
and finally rushed away to read the fatal message to the community. We
heard a few minutes later the clang of the great bell which summoned
them all to conference in the Central Hall.

'Shall we go?' I asked.

Dr. Maracot shook his head.

'What can we do? For that matter, what can they do?  What chance have
they against one who has the powers of a demon?'

'As much chance as a bunch of rabbits against a weasel,' said Scanlan.
'But, by Gosh, it's up to us to find a way out. I guess we can't go
out of our way to raise the devil and then pass the buck to the folk
that saved us.'

'What do you suggest?' I asked eagerly, for behind all his slang and
his levity I recognized the strong, practical ability of this modern
man of his hands.

'Well, you can search me,' said he. 'And yet maybe this guy is not as
safe as he thinks. A bit of it may have got worn out with age, and
he's getting on in years if we can take his word for it.'

'You think we might attack him?'

'Lunacy!' interjected the doctor.

Scanlan went to his locker. When he faced round he had a big
six-shooter in his hand.

'What about this?' he said. 'I laid hold of it when we got our chance
at the wreck. I thought maybe it might come useful. I've a dozen
shells here. Maybe if I made as many holes in the big stiff it would
let out some of his Magic. Lord save us! What is it?'

The revolver clattered down upon the floor, and Scanlan was writhing
in agonies of pain, his left hand clasping his right wrist. Terrible
cramps had seized his arm, and as we tried to alleviate them we could
feel the muscles knotted up as hard as the roots of a tree. The sweat
of agony streamed down the poor fellow's brow. Finally, utterly cowed
and exhausted, he fell upon his bed.

'That lets me out,' he said. 'I'm through. Yes, thank you, the pain is
better. But it is K.O. to William Scanlan. I've learned my lesson. You
don't fight hell with six-shooters, and it's no use to try. I give him
best from now onwards.'

'Yes, you have had your lesson,' said Maracot, 'and it has been a
severe one.'

'Then you think our case is hopeless?'

'What can we do when, as it would seem, he is aware of every word and
action? And yet we will not despair.' He sat in thought for a few
moments. 'I think,' he resumed, 'that you, Scanlan, had best lie where
you are for a time. You have had a shock from which it will take you
some time to recover.'

'If there is anything doing, count me in, though I guess we can cut
out the rough stuff,' said our comrade bravely, but his drawn face and
shaking limbs showed what he had endured.

'There is nothing doing so far as you are concerned. We at least have
learned what is the wrong way to go to work. All violence is useless.
We are working on another plane--the plane of spirit. Do you remain
here, Headley. I am going to the room which I use as a study. Perhaps
if I were alone I could see a little more clearly what we should do.'

Both Scanlan and I had learned to have a great confidence in Maracot.
If any human brain could solve our difficulties, it would be his. And
yet surely we had reached a point which was beyond all human capacity.
We were as helpless as children in the face of forces which we could
neither understand nor control. Scanlan had fallen into a troubled
sleep. My own one thought as I sat beside him was not how we should
escape, but rather what form the blow would take and when it would
fall. At any moment I was prepared to see the solid roof above us sink
in, the walls collapse, and the dark waters of the lowest deep close
in upon those who had defied them so long.

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