ERB'S EMBRYONIC JOURNEY:
THE TRIMESTERS OF CASPAK
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
(Dedicated to George McWhorter)
OUT OF TIME'S ABYSS
(Chapter 1 concluded)
We left our expedition around a campfire trying to find some
joy in song after witnessing one of the most terrifying sights they had
ever seen. Some thought it was a banshee, some what looked like a human
being with wings, and most some kind of flying zombie. We pick them up
a few minutes later:
“A huge fire blazed in the opening of
their rocky shelter that the prowling carnivora might be kept as bay; and
always one man stood on guard, watchfully alert against a sudden rush by
some maddened beast of the jungle. Beyond the fire, yellow-green spots
of flame appeared, moved restlessly about, disappeared and reappeared,
accompanied by a hideous chorus of screams and growls and roars as the
hungry meat-eaters hunting through the night were attracted by the light
or the scent of possible prey.
I emailed R.E. Prindle about South Clark Street, which was mentioned in
the last installment. He told me it was the center of crime and prostitution
and that the brothel that was the model for The Girl from Farriss’s was
located in that area, actually fronting South Clark Street. The original
was called Harris’s. According to Prindle, “South Clark Street was the
heart of the Levee, the crime and prostitution capitol in Chicago if not
history itself.” (Id.) As for the joke, Prindle suggests, “The joke
would be that Caspak was more violent than the Levee and hence no place
for an Irishman of which breed the Levee was populated. ERB disliked the
Irish with some intensity.” (Id.) Prindle makes this case in his series
of articles on ERB which are always so intriguing. They can be perused
at ERBzine.com. He theorizes that
ERB was tormented as a young lad by an Irish bully named John, who Prindle
states with some authority was a seminal force in the development of ERB’s
“But such sights and sounds as these the five
men had become callous. They sang or talked as unconcernedly as they might
have done in the barroom of some publichouse at home.
“Sinclair was standing guard. The others were
listening to Brady’s description of traffic congestion at the Rush Street
bridge during the rush hour at night. The fire crackled cheerily. The owners
of the yellow-green eyes raised their frightful chorus to the heavens.
Conditions seemed again to have returned to normal. And then, as though
the hand of Death had reached out and touched them all, the five men tensed
into sudden rigidity.” (OTA/1.)
If you have read any of my articles on the Barsoomian Mythos,
you will know that I also theorized about ERB having extra-marital affairs
with women during this period and likely in this area, who may have been
the models, inter alios, for Thuvia, Maid of Mars, or La
The male imagination can run wild.
I googled Rush Street Bridge and learned that it was a swing bridge
as well as the busiest bridge in the world, leading customers into and
out the Levee. According to the maps, Rush Street was four streets east
of Clark Street. Wikipedia states that the Levee consisted of twenty square
blocks in which there were 500 saloons, 500 brothels, 56 pool rooms, 15
gambling halls, and countless peep shows, cocaine parlors, and bawdy theaters,
at one time overseen by the notorious saloon keeper, Mike “Hinky Dink”
The district was effectively closed down by reformers in 1912, the year
that A Princess of Mars and Tarzan were first
published. In the years to come, the Levee would be the influence of many
of ERB’s works. A perfect environment for the King of Pulp Fiction.
We must assume that Brady led a colorful life, however, it is never
explained how an Englishman got a job with the Chicago Police traffic squad
before ending up on an English tug boat. As we shall soon see, he began
to tell a story about a murder in Brighton before Bradley cut him off,
so likely he had been a policeman in England at one time and perhaps the
war drew him to work as a crew member of the tug boat. Oh, well, we will
never know for sure. Now, back to the story:
“Above the nocturnal diapason of the
teeming jungle sounded a dismal flapping of wings and over head, through
the thick night, a shadowy form passed across the diffused light of the
flaring camp-fire. Sinclair raised his rifle and fired. An eerie wail floated
down from above and the apparition, whatever it might have been, was swallowed
by the darkness. For several seconds the listening men heard the sound
of those dismally flapping wings lessening in the distance until they could
no longer be heard.
Isn’t that just like human nature, telling ghost and scary stories around
the fire? But like in most horror movies, they are often told as a prelude
to something very horrifying to come. Bradley knew best, keeping his men
his calm. After all he didn’t want them to waste ammunition.
“Bradley was the first to speak. ‘Shouldn’t have
fired, Sinclair,’ he said; ‘can’t waste ammunition.’ But there was no note
of censure in his tone. It was as though he understood the nervous reaction
that had compelled the other’s act.
“‘I couldn’t help it, sir,’ said Sinclair. ‘Lord,
it would take an iron man to keep from shootin’ at that awful thing. Do
you believe in ghosts, sir?’
“‘No,’ replied Bradley. ‘No such things.’
“‘I don’t know about that,’ said Brady. ‘There
was a woman murdered over on the prairie near Brighton – her throat was
cut from ear to ear, and –’
“‘Shut up,’ snapped Bradley.
“‘My gran’daddy used to live down Coppington
wy,’ said Tippet. ‘They were a hold ruined castle on a ‘ill near by, hand
at midnight they used to see pale blue lights through the windows and ‘ear
–’ “‘Will you close your hatch!’ demanded Bradley. ‘You fools will have
yourselves scared to death in a minute. Now go to sleep.’
“But there was little sleep in the camp that
night until utter exhaustion overtook the harrassed men toward morning;
nor was there any return of the weird creature that had set the nerves
of each of them on edge.” (OTA/1.)
“The following forenoon the party reached
the base of the barrier cliffs and for two days marched northward in an
effort to discover a break in the frowning abutment that raised its rocky
face almost perpendicularly above them, yet nowhere was there the slightest
indication that the cliffs were scalable.
I remember reading Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series when I was on
my reading binge last year and he always had a good time with the superstitions
of sailors, of which ERB deals with in such a humorous way. Once a sailor
gets the feeling that he’s a gonner, it’s almost impossible to convince
him otherwise. In this case, Tippet has a good foretaste of his death,
but it won’t be at the hands of the Wieroos.
“Disheartened, Bradley determined to turn back
toward the fort, as he already had exceeded the time decided upon by Bowen
Tyler and himself for the expediton. The cliffs for many miles had been
trending in a northeasterly direction, indicating to Bradley that they
were approaching the northern extremity of the island. According to the
best of his calculations they had made sufficient easting during the past
two days to have brought them to a point almost directly north of Fort
Dinosaur and as nothing could be gained by retracing their steps along
the base of the cliffs he decided to strike due south through the unexplored
country between them and and the fort.
“That night (September 9, 1916), they made camp
a short distance from the cliffs beside one of the numerous cool springs
that are to be found within Caspak, oftentimes close beside the still more
numerous warm and hot springs which feed the many pools. After supper the
men lay smoking and chatting among themselves. Tippet was on guard. Fewer
night prowlers threatened them, and the men were commenting upon the fact
that the farther north they had traveled the smaller the number of all
species of animal life became, though it was still present in what would
have seemed appalling plentitude in any other part of the world. The diminution
in reptilian life was the most noticeable change in the fauna of northern
Caspak. Here, however, were forms they had not met elsewhere several of
which were of gigantic proportions.
“According to their custom all, with the exception
of the man of guard, sought sleep early, nor, once disposed upon the ground
for slumber, were they long in finding it. It seemed to Bradley that he
had scarcely closed his eyes when he was brought to his feet, wide awake,
by a piercing scream which was punctuated by the sharp report of a rifle
from the direction of the fire where Tippet stood guard. As he ran toward
the man, Bradley heard above him the same uncanny wail that had set every
nerve on edge several nights before, and the dismal flapping of huge wings.
He did not need to look up at the white-shrouded figure winging slowly
away into the night to know that their grim visitor had returned.
“The muscles of his arm, reacting to the sight
and sound of the menacing form, carried his hand to the butt of his pistol;
but after he had drawn the weapon, he immediately returned it to its holster
with a shrug.
“‘What for?’ he muttered. ‘Can’t waste ammunition.’
Then he walked quickly to where Tippet lay sprawled upon his face. By this
time James, Brady and Sinclair were at his heels, each with his rifle in
“‘Is he dead, sir?’ whispered James as Bradley
kneeled beside the prostrate form.
“Bradley turned Tippet over on his back and pressed
an ear close to the other’s heart. In a moment he raised his head. ‘Fainted,’
he announced. ‘Get water. Hurry!’ Then he loosened Tippet’s shirt at the
throat and when the water was brought, threw a cupful in the man’s face.
Slowly Tippet regained consciousness and sat up. At first he looked curiously
into the faces of the men about him; then an expression of terror overspread
his features. He shot a startled glance up into the black void above and
then burying his face in his arms began to sob like a child.
“‘What’s wrong, man?’ demanded Bradley. ‘Buck
up! Can’t play crybaby. Waste of energy. What happened?’
“‘Wot ‘appened, sir!’ wailed Tippet. ‘Oh, Gord,
sir! Hit came back. Hit came for me, sir. Right hit did, sir; strite hat
me, sir; hand with long w’ite hands it clawed for me. Oh, Gord! Hit almost
caught me, sir. Hi’m has good as dead; Hi’m a marked man; that wot Hi ham.
Hit was a-goin’ for to carry me horf, sir.”
“‘Stuff and nonsense,’ snapped Bradley. ‘Did
you get a good look at it?’
“Tippet said that he did – a much better look
than he wanted. The thing had almost clutched him, and he had looked straight
into its eyes – ‘dead heyes in a dead face,’ he had described them.
“‘Wot was it after bein’, do you think?’ inquired
“‘Hit was Death,’ moaned Tippet, shuddering,
and again a pall of gloom fell upon the little party.” (OTA/1.)
“The following day Tippet walked as one
in a trance. He never spoke except in reply to a direct question, which
more often than not had to be repeated before it could attract his attention.
He insisted that he was already a dead man, for if the thing didn’t come
for him during the day he would never live through another night of agonized
apprehension, waiting for the frightful end that he was positive was in
store for him. ‘I’ll see to that,’ he said, and they all knew that Tippet
meant to take his own life before darkness set in.
This is why I have called Bradley’s point of view the “Educated” one. He
seems to understand Caspak intuitively and thus makes an excellent leader
in this hostile land. I said before that ERB gruesomely described Tippet’s
death. Wasn’t I right? And this was decades before Jurassic Park.
“Bradley tried to reason with him, in his short,
crisp way, but soon saw the futility of it; nor could he take the man’s
weapons from him without subjecting him to almost certain death from any
of the numberless dangers that beset their way.
“The entire party was moody and glum. There was
none of the bantering that had marked their intercourse before, even in
the face of blighting hardships and hideous danger. This was a new menace
that threatened them, something that they couldn’t explain; and so, naturally,
it aroused within them superstitious fear which Tippet’s attitude only
tended to augment. To add further to their gloom, their way led through
a dense forest, where, on account of the underbrush, it was difficult to
make even a mile an hour. Constant watchfulness was required to avoid the
many snakes of various degrees of repulsiveness and enormity that infested
the wood; and the only ray of hope they had to cling to was that the forest
would, like the majority of Caspakian forests, prove to be of no considerable
“Bradley was in the lead when he came suddenly
upon a grotesque creature of Titanic proportions. Crouching among the trees,
which here commenced to thin out slightly, Bradley saw what appeared to
be an enormous dragon devouring the carcass of a mammoth. From the frightful
jaws to the tip of its long tail it was fully forty feet in length. Its
body was covered with plates of thick skin which bore a striking resemblance
to armor-plate. The creature saw Bradley almost at the same instant that
he saw it and reared up on its enormous hind legs until its head towered
a full twenty-five feet above the ground. From the cavernous jaws issued
a hissing sound of volume equal to the escaping steam from the safety-valves
of half a dozen locomotives, and then the creature came for the man.
“‘Scatter!’ shouted Bradley to those behind him;
and all but Tippet heeded the warning. The man stood as though dazed, and
when Bradley saw the other’s danger, he too stopped and wheeling about
sent a bullet into the massive body forcing its way through the trees toward
him. The shot struck the creature in the belly where there was no protecting
armor, eliciting a new note which rose in a shrill whistle and ended in
a wail. It was then that Tippet appeared to come out of his trance, for
with a cry of terror he turned and fled to the left. Bradley, seeing that
he had as good an opportunity as the others to escape, now turned his attention
to extricating himself; and as the woods seemed dense on the right, he
ran in that direction, hoping that the close-set boles would prevent pursuit
on the part of the great reptile. The dragon paid no further attention
to him, however, for Tippet’s sudden break for liberty had attracted its
attention; and after Tippet it went, bowling over small trees, uprooting
underbrush and leaving a wake behind it like that of a small tornado.
“Bradley, the moment he had discovered the thing
was pursuing Tippet, had followed it. He was afraid to fire for fear of
hitting the man, and so it was that he came upon them at the very moment
that the monster lunged its great weight forward upon the doomed man. The
sharp, three-toed talons of the forelimbs seized poor Tippet, and Bradley
saw the unfortunate fellow lifted high above the ground as the creature
again reared up on its hind legs, immediately transferring Tippet’s body
to its gaping jaws, which closed with sickening, crunching sound as Tippet’s
bones cracked beneath the great teeth.
“Bradley half raised his rifle to fire again
and then lowered it with a shake of his head. Tippet was beyond succor
– why waste a bullet that Caspak would never replace? If he could now escape
the further notice of the monster it would be a wiser act than to throw
his life away in futile revenge. He saw that the reptile was not looking
in his direction, and so he slipped noiselessly behind the bole of a large
tree and thence quietly faded away in the direction he believed the others
to have taken. At what he considered a safe distance he halted and looked
back. Half hidden by the intervening trees he still could see the huge
head and the massive jaws from which protruded the limp legs of the dead
man. Then, as though struck by the hammer of Thor, the creature collapsed
and crumpled to the ground. Bradley’s single bullet, penetrating the body
through the soft skin of the belly, had slain the Titan.” (OTA/1.)
“A few minutes later, Bradley found the
others of the party. The four returned cautiously to the spot where the
creature lay and after convincing themselves that it was quite dead, came
close to it. It was an arduous and gruesome job extricating Tippet’s mangled
remains from the powerful jaws, the men working for the most part silently.
Wouldn’t you know it, another British tug boat crew member who had a history
of working in America, this time as a cowpuncher, like Billings, nevertheless.
Who would have thunk it?
“‘It was the work of the banshees all right,’
muttered Brady. ‘It warned poor Tippet, it did.’
“‘Hit killed him, that’s wot hit did, hand hit’ll
kill some more of us,’ said James, his lower lip trembling.
“‘If it was a ghost,’ interjected Sinclair, ‘and
I don’t say as it was; but if it was, why, it could take on any form it
wanted to. It might have turned itself into this thing, which ain’t no
natural thing at all, just to get poor Tippet. It if had been a lion or
something else humanlike it wouldn’t look so strange; but this here thing
ain’t humanlike. There ain’t no such thing an’ never was.”
“‘Bullets don’t kill ghosts,’ said Bradley, ‘so
this couldn’t have been a ghost. Furthermore, there are no such things.
I’ve been trying to place this creature. Just succeeded. It’s a tyrannosaurus.
Saw picture of skeleton in magazine. There’s one in New York Natural History
Museum. Seems to me it said it was found in place called Hell Creek somewhere
in western North America. Supposed to have lived about six million years
“‘Hell Creek’s in Montana,’ said Sinclair. ‘I
used to punch cows in Wyoming, an’ I’ve heard of Hell Creek. Do you s’pose
that there thing’s six million years old?’ His tone was skeptical.
“‘No,’ replied Bradley; ‘but it would indicate
that the island of Caprona has stood almost without change for more than
six million years.’
“The conversation and Bradley’s assurance that
the creature was not of supernatural origin helped to raise a trifle the
spirits of the men; and then came another diversion in the form of ravenous
meat-eaters attracted to the spot by the uncanny sense of smell which had
apprised them of the presence of flesh, killed and ready for the eating.
“It was a constant battle while they dug a grave
and consigned all that was mortal of John Tippet to his last, lonely resting-place.
Nor would they leave then; but remained to fashion a rude headstone from
a crumbling out-cropping of sandstone and to gather a mass of the gorgeous
flowers growing in such great profusion around them and heap the new-made
grave with bright blooms. Upon the headstone Sinclair scratched in rude
characters the words:
HERE LIES JOHN TIPPET
KILLED BY TYRANNOSAURUS
10 SEPT. A.D. 1916
and Bradley repeated a short prayer before they left
their comrade forever.” (OTA/1.)
“For three days the party marched due
south through forests and meadowland and great parklike areas where countless
herbivorous animals grazed – deer and antelope and bos and the little ecca,
the smallest species of Caspakian horse, about the size of a rabbit. There
were other horses too; but all were small, the largest being not above
eight hands in height. Preying continually upon the herbivora were the
meat-eaters, large and small – wolves, hyaenadons, panthers, lions, tigers,
and bear as well as several large and ferocious species of reptilian life.
I have no idea of whether it was just a coincidence or planned irony that
ERB chose the name “William James” for this victim of superstition. William
James, the brother of the author Henry James, was a famous American psychologist
at the turn of the Twentieth Century when the profession was still young.
His 1901-1902 Gifford Lectures, given at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland,
were later published in 1902 as The Varieties of Religious Experience,
a classic in the field, and a darn good read even nowadays. It deals with
the effects, inter alia, of superstition upon the human psyche. Now that
I think about it, I don’t believe it was a coincidence at all.
“On September twelfth the party scaled a line
of sandstone cliffs which crossed their route toward the south; but they
crossed them only after an encounter with the tribe that inhabited the
numerous caves which pitted the face of the escarpment. That night they
camped upon a rocky plateau which was sparsely wooded with jarrah, and
here once again they were visited by the weird, nocturnal apparition that
had already filled them with a nameless terror.
“As on the night of September ninth the first
warning came from the sentinel standing guard over his sleeping companions.
A terror-stricken cry punctuated by the crack of a rifle brought Bradley,
Sinclair and Brady to their feet in time to see James, which clubbed rifle,
battling with a white-robed figure that hovered on widespread wings on
a level with the Englishman’s head. As they ran, shouting, forward, it
was obvious to them that the weird and terrible apparation was attempting
to seize James; but when it saw the others coming to his rescue, it desisted,
flapping rapidly upward and away, its long, ragged wings giving forth the
peculiarly dismal notes which always characterized the sound of its flying.
“Bradley fired at the vanishing menacer of their
peace and safety; but whether he scored a hit or not, none could tell,
though, following the shot, there was wafted back to them the same piercing
wail that had on other occasions frozen their marrow.
“Then they turned toward James, who lay face
downward upon the ground, trembling as with ague. For a time he could not
even speak, but at last he regained sufficient composure to tell them how
the thing must have swooped silently upon him from above and behind as
the first premonition of danger he had received was when the long, clawlike
fingers had clutched him beneath either arm. In the melee his rifle had
been discharged and he had broken away at the same instant and turned to
defend himself with the butt. The rest they had seen.
“From that instant James was an absolutely broken
man. He maintained with shaking lips that his doom was sealed, that the
thing had marked him for its own, and that he was as good as dead, nor
could any amount of argument or raillery convince him to the contrary.
He had seen Tippet marked and claimed, and now he had been marked. Nor
were his constant reiterations of this belief without effect upon the rest
of the party. Even Bradley felt depressed, though for the sake of the others
he managed to hide it beneath a show of confidence he was far from feeling.
“And on the following day William James was killed
by a saber-tooth tiger – September 13, 1916. Beneath a jarrah tree on the
stony plateau on the northern edge of the Sto-lu country in the land that
Time forgot, he lies in a lonely grave marked by rough headstone.” (OTA/1.)
“Southward from his grave marched three
grim and silent men. To the best of Bradley’s reckoning they were some
twenty-five miles north of Fort Dinosaur, and that they might reach the
fort on the following day, they plodded on until darkness overtook them.
With comparative safety fifteen miles away, they made camp at last; but
there was no singing now and no joking. In the bottom of his heart each
prayed that they might come safely through just this night, for they knew
that during the morrow they would make the final stretch, yet the nerves
of each were taut with strained anticipation of what gruesome thing might
flap down upon them from the black sky, marking another for its own. Who
would be the next?
I think I finally have the reason ERB chose the third person for this book.
He could not have pulled off the unknown terror effect without it. For
not knowing what really happened allows the imagination to make it worse.
ERB wants to give his readers the creeps, and I believe he has done a pretty
fine job of it.
“As was their custom, they took turns at guard,
each man doing two hours and then arousing the next. Brady had gone on
from eight to ten, followed by Sinclair from ten to twelve, then Bradley
had been awakened. Brady would stand the last guard from two to four, as
they had determined to start the moment that it became light enough to
insure comparative safety upon the trail.
“The snapping of a twig aroused Brady out of
a dead sleep, and as he opened his eyes, he saw that it was broad daylight
and that at twenty paces from him stood a huge lion. As the man sprang
to his feet, his rifle ready in his hand, Sinclair awoke and took in the
scene in a single swift glance. The fire was out and Bradley was nowhere
in sight. For a long moment the lion and the men eyed one another. The
latter had no mind to fire if the beast minded its own affairs – they were
only too glad to let it go its way if it would; but the lion was of a different
“Suddenly the long tail snapped stiffly erect,
and as though it had been attached to two trigger fingers the two rifles
spoke in unison, for both men knew this signal only too well – the immediate
forerunner of a deadly charge. As the brute’s head had been raised, his
spine had not been visible; and so they did what they had learned by long
experience was best to do. Each covered a front leg, and as the tail snapped
aloft, fired. With a hideous roar the mighty flesh-eater lurched forward
to the ground with both front legs broken. It was an easy accomplishment
in the instant before the beast charged – after, it would have been well-nigh
an impossible feat. Brady stepped close in and finished him with a shot
in the base of the brain lest his terrific roarings should attract his
mate or others of their kind.
“Then the two men turned and looked at one another.
‘Where is Lieutenant Bradley?’ asked Sinclair. They walked to the fire.
Only a few smoking embers remained. A few feet away lay Bradley’s rifle.
There was no evidence of a struggle. The two men circled about the camp
twice and on the last lap Brady stooped and picked up an object which had
lain about ten yards beyond the fire – it was Bradley’s cap. Again the
two looked questioningly at one another, and then, simultaneously, both
pairs of eyes swung upward and searched the sky. A moment later Brady was
examining the ground about the spot where Bradley’s cap had lain. It was
one of those little barren, sandy stretches that they had found only upon
this stony plateau. Brady’s own footsteps showed as plainly as black ink
upon white paper; but his was the only foot that had marred the smooth,
windswept surface – there was no sign that Bradley had crossed the spot
upon the surface of the ground, and yet his cap lay well toward the center
“Breakfastless and with shaken nerves the two
survivors plunged madly into the long day’s march. Both were strong, courageous,
resourceful men; but each had reached the limit of human nerve endurance
and each felt that he would rather die than spend another night in the
hideous open of that frightful land. Vivid in the mind of each was a picture
of Bradley’s end, for though neither had witnessed the tragedy, both could
imagine almost precisely what had occurred. They did not discuss it – they
did not even mention it – yet all day long the thing was uppermost in the
mind of each and mingled with it a similar picture with himself as victim
should they fail to make Fort Dinosaur before dark.” (OTA/1.)
“And so they plunged forward at reckless
speed, their clothes, their hands, their faces torn by the retarding underbrush
that reached forth to hinder them. Again and again they fell; but be it
to their credit that the one always waited and helped the other and that
into the mind of neither entered the thought or the temptation to desert
his companion –they would reach the fort together if both survived, or
neither would reach it.
Of course, there is no mention of Tom Billings because they have no idea
that Bowen survived and Billings led a rescue mission to save him. Thus
concludes Chapter 1. We will return to Bradley’s fate in Chapter 2. Keep
the faith, for we will soon be in the land of the Wieroos.
“They encountered the usual number of savage
beasts and reptiles; but they met them with a courageous recklessness born
of desperation, and by virtue of the very madness of the chances they took,
they came through unscathed and with the minimum of delay.
“Shortly after noon they reached the end of the
plateau. Before them was a drop of two hundred feet to the valley beneath.
To the left, in the distance, they could see the waters of the great inland
sea that covers a considerable portion of the area of the crater island
of Caprona and at a little lesser distance to the south of the cliffs they
saw a thin spiral of smoke rising above the tree-tops.
“The landscape was familiar – each recognized
it immediately and knew that the smoky column marked the spot where Dinosaur
had stood. Was the fort still there, or did the smoke arise from the smoldering
embers of the building they had helped to fashion for the housing of their
party? Who could say!
“Thirty precious minutes that seemed as many
hours to the impatient men were consumed in locating the precarious way
from the summit to the base of the cliffs that bounded the plateau upon
the south, and then once again they struck off upon the level ground toward
their goal. The closer they approached the fort the greater became their
apprehension that all would not be well. They pictured the barracks deserted
or the small company massacred and the buildings in ashes. It was almost
in a frenzy of fear that they broke through the final fringe of jungle
and stood at last upon the verge of the open meadow a half-mile from Fort
“‘Lord!’ ejaculated Sinclair. ‘They are still
there!’ And he fell to his knees, sobbing.
“Brady trembled like a leaf as he crossed himself
and gave silent thanks, for there before them stood the sturdy ramparts
of Dinosaur and from inside the inclosure rose a thin spiral of smoke that
marked the location of the cook-house. All was well, and their comrades
were preparing the evening meal!
“Across the clearing they raced as though they
had not already covered in a single day a trackless, primeval country that
might easily have required two days by fresh and untired men. Within hailing
distance they set up such a loud shouting that presently heads appeared
above the top of the parapet and soon answering shouts were rising from
within Fort Dinosaur. A moment later three men issued from the inclosure
and came forward to meet the survivors and listen to the hurried story
of the eleven eventful days since they had set out upon their expedition
to the barrier cliffs. They heard of the deaths of Tippet and James and
of the disappearance of Lieutenant Bradley, and a new terror settled upon
“Olson, the Irish engineer, with Whitely and
Wilson constituted the remnants of Dinosaur’s defenders, and to Brady and
Sinclair they narrated the salient events that had transpired since Bradley
and his party had marched away on September 4th. They told them of the
infamous act of Baron Friedrich von Schoenvorts and his German crew who
had stolen the U-33, breaking their parole, and steaming away toward the
subterranean opening through the barrier cliffs that carried the waters
of the inland sea into the open Pacific beyond; and of the cowardly shelling
of the fort.
“They told of the disappearance of Miss La Rue
in the night of September 11th, and of the departure of Bowen Tyler in
search of her, accompanied only by the Airedale, Nobs. Thus of the original
party of eleven Allies and nine Germans that had constituted the company
of the U-33 when she left English waters after her capture by the crew
of the English tug there were but five now to be accounted for at Fort
Dinosaur. Benson, Tippet, James, and one of the Germans were known to be
dead. It was assumed that Bradley, Tyler and the girl had already succumbed
to some of the savage denizens of Caspak, while the fate of the Germans
were equally unknown, though it might readily be believed that they had
made good their escape. They had had ample time to provision the ship and
the refining of the crude oil they had discovered north of the fort could
have insured them an ample supply to carry them back to Germany.” (OTA/1.)
(Continued in Part Twenty)