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Title: Astounding Stories, June, 1931
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Astounding Stories, June, 1931" ***

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                              ASTOUNDING

                               STORIES

                                 20¢


              _On Sale the First Thursday of Each Month_


                       W. M. CLAYTON, Publisher
                         HARRY BATES, Editor
                  DOUGLAS M. DOLD, Consulting Editor


The Clayton Standard on a Magazine Guarantees

    _That_ the stories therein are clean, interesting, vivid, by leading
           writers of the day and purchased under conditions approved by
           the Authors' League of America;

    _That_ such magazines are manufactured in Union shops by American
           workmen;

    _That_ each newsdealer and agent is insured a fair profit;

    _That_ an intelligent censorship guards their advertising pages.


_The other Clayton magazines are:_

ACE-HIGH MAGAZINE, RANCH ROMANCES, COWBOY STORIES, CLUES, FIVE-NOVELS
MONTHLY, ALL STAR DETECTIVE STORIES, RANGELAND LOVE STORY MAGAZINE,
WESTERN ADVENTURES, and WESTERN LOVE STORIES.

_More than Two Million Copies Required to Supply the Monthly Demand
for Clayton Magazines._

       *       *       *       *       *


VOL. VI, No. 3          CONTENTS                 JUNE, 1931


COVER DESIGN             H. W. WESSO

    _Painted in Water-Colors from a Scene in "Manape the Mighty."_


THE MAN FROM 2071        SEWELL PEASLEE WRIGHT              295

    _Out of the Flow of Time There Appears to Commander John Hanson
     a Man of Mystery from the Forgotten Past._


MANAPE THE MIGHTY.       ARTHUR J. BURKS                    308

    _High in Jungle Treetops Swings Young Bentley--His Human Brain
     Imprisoned in a Mighty Ape._ (A Complete Novelette.)


HOLOCAUST                CHARLES WILLARD DIFFIN             356

    _The Extraordinary Story of "Paul," Who for Thirty Days Was Dictator
     of the World._


THE EARTHMAN'S BURDEN    R. F. STARZL                       375

    _There is Foul Play on Mercury--until Danny Olear of the Interplanetary
     Flying Police Gets After His Man._


THE EXILE OF TIME        RAY CUMMINGS                       386

    _Larry and George from 1935, Mary from 1777--All Are Caught up in the
     Treacherous Tugh's Revolt of the Robots in the Time World of 2930._
     (Part Three of a Four-Part Novel.)

THE READERS' CORNER      ALL OF US                          416

_A Meeting Place for Readers of Astounding Stories._

       *       *       *       *       *

Single Copies, 20 Cents In Canada, 25 Cents Yearly Subscription, $2.00

Issued monthly by The Clayton Magazines, Inc., 80 Lafayette Street,
New York, N. Y. W. M. Clayton, President; Francis P. Pace, Secretary.
Entered as second-class matter December 7, 1929, at the Post Office at
New York, N. Y., under Act of March 3, 1879. Title registered as a
Trade Mark in the U. S. Patent Office. Member Newsstand Group. For
advertising rates address The Newsstand Group, Inc., 80 Lafayette
Street, New York; or The Wrigley Bldg., Chicago.

       *       *       *       *       *



The Man From 2071

_By Sewell Peaslee Wright_

[Illustration: _He clutched at the gangway--and fell._]

[Sidenote: Out of the flow of time there appears to Commander John
Hanson a man of mystery from the forgotten past.]


Perhaps this story does not belong with my other tales of the Special
Patrol Service. And yet, there is, or should be, a report somewhere in
the musty archives of the Service, covering the incident.

Not accurately, and not in detail. Among a great mass of old records
which I was browsing through the other day, I happened across that
report; it occupied exactly three lines in the log-book of the
_Ertak_:

     "Just before departure, discovered stowaway, apparently
      demented, and ejected him."

For the hard-headed higher-ups of the Service, that was report enough.
Had I given the facts, they would have called me to the Base for a
long-winded investigation. It would have taken weeks and weeks, filled
with fussy questioning. Dozens of stoop-shouldered laboratory men
would have prodded and snooped and asked for long, written accounts.
In those days, keeping the log-book was writing enough for me and
being grounded at Base for weeks would have been punishment.

Nothing would have been gained by a detailed report. The Service
needed action rather than reports, anyway. But now that I am an old
man, on the retired list, I have time to write; and it will be a
particular pleasure to write this account, for it will go to prove
that these much-honored scientists of ours, with all their tremendous
appropriations and long-winded discussions, are not nearly so
wonderful as they think they are. They are, and always have been, too
much interested in abstract formulas, and not enough in their
practical application. I have never had a great deal of use for them.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had received orders to report to Earth, regarding a dull routine
matter of reorganizing the emergency Base which had been established
there. Earth, I might add, for the benefit of those of you who have
forgotten your geography of the Universe, is not a large body, but its
people furnish almost all of the officer personnel of the Special
Patrol Service. Being a native of Earth, I received the assignment
with considerable pleasure, despite its dry and uninteresting nature.

It was a stood sight to see old Earth, bundled up in her cottony
clouds, growing larger and larger in the television disc. No matter
how much you wander around the Universe, no matter how small and
insignificant the world of your birth, there is a tie that cannot be
denied. I have set my ships down upon many a strange and unknown
world, with danger and adventure awaiting me, but there is, for me, no
thrill which quite duplicates that of viewing again that particular
little ball of mud from whence I sprang. I've said that before; I
shall probably say it again. I am proud to claim Earth as my
birth-place, small and out-of-the way as she is.

Our Base on Earth was adjacent to the city of Greater Denver, on the
Pacific Coast. I could not help wondering, as we settled swiftly over
the city, whether our historians and geologists and other scientists
were really right in saying that Denver had at one period been far
from the Pacific. It seemed impossible, as I gazed down on that blue,
tranquil sea, that it had engulfed, hundreds of years ago, such a vast
portion of North America. But I suppose the men of science know.

       *       *       *       *       *

I need not go into the routine business that brought me to Earth.
Suffice it to say that it was settled quickly, by the afternoon of the
second day: I am referring, of course, to Earth days, which are
slightly less than half the length of an enaren of Universe time.

A number of my friends had come to meet me, visit with me during my
brief stay on Earth; and, having finished my business with such
dispatch, I decided to spend that evening with them, and leave the
following morning. It was very late when my friends departed, and I
strolled out with them to their mono-car, returning the salute of the
_Ertak's_ lone sentry, who was pacing his post before the huge
circular exit of the ship.

Bidding my friends farewell, I stood there for a moment under the
heavens, brilliant with blue, cold stars, and watched the car sweep
swiftly and soundlessly away towards the towering mass of the city.
Then, with a little sigh, I turned back to the ship.

The _Ertak_ lay lightly upon the earth, her polished sides gleaming in
the light of the crescent moon. In the side toward me, the circular
entrance gaped like a sleepy mouth; the sentry, knowing the eyes of
his commander were upon him, strode back and forth with brisk,
military precision. Slowly, still thinking of my friends, I made my
way toward the ship.

I had taken but a few steps when the sentry's challenge rang out
sharply, "Halt! Who goes there?"

I glanced up in surprise. Shiro, the man on guard, had seen me leave,
and he could have had no difficulty in recognizing me. But--the
challenge had not been meant for me.

       *       *       *       *       *

Between myself and the _Ertak_ there stood a strange figure. An
instant before, I would have sworn that there was no human in sight,
save myself and the sentry; now this man stood not twenty feet away,
swaying as though ill or terribly weary, barely able to lift his head
and turn it toward the sentry.

"Friend," he gasped; "friend!" and I think he would have fallen to the
ground if I had not clapped an arm around his shoulders and supported
him.

"Just ... a moment," whispered the stranger. "I'm a bit faint.... I'll
be all right...."

I stared down at the man, unable to reply. This was a nightmare; no
less. I could feel the sentry staring, too.

The man was dressed in a style so ancient that I could not remember
the period: Twenty-first Century, at least; perhaps earlier. And while
he spoke English, which is a language of Earth, he spoke it with a
harsh and unpleasant accent that made his words difficult, almost
impossible, to understand. Their meaning did not fully sink in until
an instant after he had finished speaking.

"Shiro!" I said sharply. "Help me take this man inside. He's ill."

"Yes, sir!" The guard leaped to obey the order, and together we led
him into the _Ertak_, and to my own stateroom. There was some mystery
here, and I was eager to get at the root of it. The man with the
ancient costume and the strange accent had not come to the spot where
we had seen him by any means with which I was familiar; he had
materialized out of the thin air. There was no other way to account
for his presence.

       *       *       *       *       *

We propped the stranger in my most comfortable chair, and I turned to
the sentry. He was staring at our weird visitor with wondering,
fearful eyes, and when I spoke he started as though stung by an
electric shock.

"Very well," I said briskly. "That will be all. Resume your post
immediately. And--Shiro!"

"Yes, sir?"

"It will not be necessary for you to make a report of this incident. I
will attend to that. Understand?"

"Yes, sir!" And I think it is to the man's everlasting credit, and to
the credit of the Service which had trained him, that he executed a
snappy salute, did an about-face, and left the room without another
glance at the man slumped down in my big easy chair.

With a feeling of cold, nervous apprehension such as I have seldom
experienced in a rather varied and active life, I turned then to my
visitor.

He had not moved, save to lift his head. He was staring at me, his
eyes fixed in his chalky white face. They were dark, long
eyes--abnormally long--and they glittered with a strange, uncanny
light.

"You are feeling better?" I asked.

His thin, bloodless lips moved, but for a moment no sound came from
them. He tried again.

"Water," he said.

I drew him a glass from the tank in the wall of my room. He downed it
at a gulp, and passed the empty glass back to me.

"More," he whispered. He drank the second glass more slowly, his eyes
darting swiftly, curiously, around the room. Then his brilliant,
piercing glance fell upon my face.

"Tell me," he commanded sharply, "what year is this?"

       *       *       *       *       *

I stared at him. It occurred to me that my friends might have
conceived and executed an elaborate hoax--and then I dismissed the
idea, instantly. There were no scientists among them who could make a
man materialize out of nothingness.

"Are you in your right mind?" I asked slowly. "Your question strikes
me as damnably odd, sir."

The man laughed wildly, and slowly straightened up in the chair. His
long, bony fingers clasped and unclasped slowly, as though feeling
were just returning to them.

"Your question," he replied in his odd, unfamiliar accent, "is not
unnatural, under the circumstances. I assure you that I am of sound
mind; of very sound mind." He smiled, rather a ghastly smile, and made
a vague, slight gesture with one hand. "Will you be good enough to
answer my question? What year is this?"

"Earth year, you mean?"

He stared at me, his eyes flickering.

"Yes," he said. "Earth year. There are other ways of ... figuring time
now?"

"Certainly. Each inhabited world has its own system. There is a master
system for the Universe. Who are you, what are you, that you should
ask me a question the smallest child should know?"

"First," he insisted, "tell me what year this is, Earth reckoning."

I told him, and the light flickered up in his eyes again--a cruel,
triumphant light.

"Thank you," he nodded; and then, slowly and softly, as though he
spoke to himself, he added, "Less than half a century off. Less than a
half a century! And they laughed at me. How--how I shall laugh at
them, presently!"

"You choose to be mysterious, sir?" I asked impatiently.

"No. Presently you shall understand, and then you will forgive me, I
know. I have come through an experience such as no man has ever known
before. If I am shaken, weak, surprising to you, it is because of that
experience."

       *       *       *       *       *

He paused for a moment, his long, powerful fingers gripping the arms
of the chair.

"You see," he added, "I have come out of the past into the present. Or
from the present into the future. It depends upon one's viewpoint. If
I am distraught, then forgive me. A few minutes ago, I was Jacob
Harbauer, in a little laboratory on the edge of a mountain park, near
Denver; now I am a nameless being hurtled into the future, pausing
here, many centuries from my own era. Do you wonder now that I am
unnerved?"

"Do you mean," I said slowly, trying to understand what he had babbled
forth, "that you have come out of the past? That you ... that you...."
It was too monstrous to put into words.

"I mean," he replied, "that I was born in the year 2028. I am
forty-three years old--or I was a few minutes ago. But,"--and his eyes
flickered again with that strange, mad light--"I am a scientist! I
have left my age behind me for a time; I have done what no other human
being has ever done: I have gone centuries into the future!"

"I--I do not understand." Could he, after all, be a madman? "How can
a man leave his own age and travel ahead to another?"

"Even in this age of yours they have not discovered that secret?"
Harbauer exulted. "You travel the Universe, I gather, and yet your
scientists have not yet learned to move in time? Listen! Let me
explain to you how simple the theory is.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I take it you are an intelligent man; your uniform and its insignia
would seem to indicate a degree of rank. Am I correct?"

"I am John Hanson, Commander of the _Ertak_, of the Special Patrol
Service," I informed him.

"Then you will be capable of grasping, in part at least, what I have
to tell you. It is really not so complex. Time is a river, flowing
steadily, powerful, at a fixed rate of speed. It sweeps the whole
Universe along on its bosom at that same speed. That is my conception
of it; is it clear to you?"

"I should think," I replied, "that the Universe is more like a great
rock in the middle of your stream of time, that stands motionless
while the minutes, the hours, and the days roll by."

"No! The Universe travels on the breast of the current of time. It
leaves yesterday behind, and sweeps on towards to-morrow. It has
always been so until I challenged this so-called immutable law. I said
to myself, why should a man be a helpless stick upon the stream of
time? Why need he be borne on this slow current at the same speed? Why
cannot he do as a man in a boat, paddle backwards or forwards; back to
a point already passed; ahead, faster than the current, to a point
that, drifting, he would not reach so soon? In other words, why can he
not slip back through time to yesterday; or ahead to to-morrow? And if
to to-morrow, why not to next year, next century?

       *       *       *       *       *

"These are the questions I asked myself. Other men have asked
themselves the same questions, I know; they were not new.
But,"--Harbauer drew himself far forward in his chair, and leaned
close to me, almost as though he prepared himself to spring--"no other
man ever found the answer! That remained for me.

"I was not entirely correct, of course. I found that one could not go
back in time. The current was against one. But to go ahead, with the
current at one's back, was different. I spent six years on the
problem, working day and night, handicapped by lack of funds,
ridiculed by the press--Look!"

Harbauer reached inside his antiquated costume and drew forth a flat
packet which he passed to me. I unfolded it curiously, my fingers
clumsy with excitement.

I could hardly believe my eyes. The thing Harbauer had handed me was a
folded fragment of newspaper, such as I had often seen in museums. I
recognized the old-fashioned type, and the peculiar arrangement of the
columns. But, instead of being yellow and brittle with age, and
preserved in fragments behind sealed glass, this paper was fresh and
white, and the ink was as black as the day it had been printed. What
this man said, then, must be true! He must--

"I can understand your amazement," said Harbauer. "It had not occurred
to me that a paper which, to me, was printed only yesterday, would
seem so antique to you. But that must appear as remarkable to you as
fresh papyrus, newly inscribed with the hieroglyphics of the ancient
Egyptians, would seem to one of my own day and age. But read it; you
will see how my world viewed my efforts!" There was a sharpness, a
bitterness, in his voice that made me vaguely uneasy; even though he
had solved the riddle of moving in time as men have always moved in
space, my first conjecture that I had a madman to deal with might not
be so far from the truth. Ridicule and persecution have unseated the
reason of all too many men.

       *       *       *       *       *

The type was unfamiliar to me, and the spelling was archaic, but I
managed to stumble through the article. It read, as nearly as I can
recall it, like this:

                       Harbauer Says Time

                       Is Like Great River

     Jacob Harbauer, local inventor, in an exclusive interview,
     propounds the theory that man can move about in time exactly
     as a boat moves about on the surface of a swift-flowing
     river, save that he cannot go back into time, on account of
     the opposition of the current.

     That is very fortunate, this writer feels; it would be a
     terrible thing for example, if some good-looking scamp from
     our present Twenty-first Century were to dive into the past
     and steal Cleopatra from Antony, or start an affair with
     Josephine and send Napoleon scurrying back from the front
     and let the Napoleonic wars go to pot. We'd have to have all
     our histories rewritten!

     Harbauer is well-known in Denver as the eccentric inventor
     who, for the last five or six years, has occupied a lonely
     shack in the mountains, guarded by a high fence of barbed
     wire. He claims that he has now perfected equipment which
     will enable him to project himself forward in time, and
     expects to make the experiment in the very near future.

     This writer was permitted to view the equipment which
     Harbauer says will shoot him into the future. The apparatus
     is housed in a low, barn-like building in the rear of his
     shack.

     Along one side of the room is a veritable bank of electrical
     apparatus with innumerable controls, many huge tubes of
     unfamiliar shape and appearance, a mighty generator of some
     kind and an intricate maze of gleaming copper bus-bar.

     In the center of the room is a circle of metal, about a foot
     in thickness, insulated from the flooring by four truncated
     cones of fluted glass. This disc is composed of two
     unfamiliar metals, arranged in concentric circles.

     Above this disc, at a height of about eight feet, is
     suspended a sort of grid, composed of extremely fine silvery
     wires, supported on a frame-work of black insulating
     material.

     Asked for a demonstration of his apparatus, Harbauer finally
     consented to perform an experiment with a dog--a white,
     short-haired mongrel that, Harbauer informed us, he kept to
     warn him of approaching strangers.

     He bound the dog's legs together securely, and placed the
     struggling animal in the center of the heavy metal disc.
     Then the inventor hurried to the central control panel and
     manipulated several switches, which caused a number of
     things to happen almost at once.

     The big generator started with a growl, and settled
     immediately into a deep hum; a whole row of tubes glowed
     with a purplish brilliancy. There was a crackling sound in
     the air, and the grid above the disc seemed to become
     incandescent, although it gave forth no apparent heat. From
     the rim of the metal disc, thin blue streamers of electric
     flame shot up toward the grid, and the little white dog
     began to whine nervously.

     "Now watch!" shouted Harbauer. He closed another switch,
     and the space between the disc and the grid became a
     cylinder of livid light, for a period of perhaps two
     seconds. Then Harbauer pulled all the switches, and pointed
     triumphantly to the disc. It was empty.

     We looked around the room for the dog, but he was not
     visible anywhere.

     "I have sent him nearly a century into the future," said
     Harbauer. "We will let him stay there a moment, and then
     bring him back."

     "You mean to say," we asked, "that the pup is now roaming
     around somewhere in the Twenty-second Century?" Harbauer
     said he meant just that, and added that he would now bring
     the dog back to the present time. The switches were closed
     again, but this time it was the metal plate that seemed
     incandescent, and the grid above that shot out the streaks
     of thin blue flame. As he closed the last switch, the
     cylinder of light appeared again, and when the switches were
     opened, there was the dog in the center of the disc, howling
     and struggling against his bonds.

     "Look!" cried Harbauer. "He's been attacked by another dog,
     or some other animal, while in the future. See the blood on
     his shoulders?"

     We ventured the humble opinion that the dog had scratched or
     bit himself in struggling to free himself from the cords
     with which Harbauer had bound him, and the inventor flew
     into a terrible rage, cursing and waving his arms as though
     demented. Feeling that discretion was the better part of
     valor, we beat a hasty retreat, pausing at the barbed-wire
     gate only long enough to ask Mr. Harbauer if he would be
     good enough, sometime when he had a few minutes of leisure,
     to dash into next week and bring back some stock market
     reports to aid us in our investment efforts.

     Under the circumstances, we did not wait for a response, but
     we presume we are persona non grata at the Harbauer
     establishment from this time on.

     All in all, we are not sorry.

I folded the paper and passed it back to him; some of the allusions I
did not understand, but the general tone of the article was very clear
indeed.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You see?" said Harbauer, his voice grating with anger. "I tried to be
courteous to that man; to give him a simple, convincing demonstration
of the greatest scientific achievement in centuries. And the fool
returned to write _this_: to hold me up to ridicule, to paint me as a
crack-brained, wild-eyed fanatic."

"It's hard for the layman to conceive of a great scientific
achievement," I said soothingly. "All great inventions and inventors
have been laughed at by the populace at large."

"True. True." Harbauer nodded his head solemnly. "But just the same--"
He broke off suddenly, and forced a smile. I found myself wishing that
he had completed that broken sentence, however; I felt that he had
almost revealed something that would have been most enlightening.

"But enough of that fool and his babblings," he continued. "I am here
as living proof that my experiment is a success, and I have a
tremendous curiosity about the world in which I find myself. This, I
take it, is a ship for navigating space?"

"Right! The _Ertak_, of the Special Patrol Service. Would you care to
look around a bit?"

"I would, indeed." There was a tremendous eagerness in the man's
voice.

"You're not too tired?"

"No; I am quite recovered from my experience." Harbauer leaped to his
feet, those abnormally long, slitted eyes of his glowing. "I am a
scientist, and I am most curious to see what my fellows have created
since--since my own era."

I picked up my dressing gown and tossed it to him.

"Slip this on, then, to cover your clothing. You would be an object of
too much curiosity to those men who are on duty," I suggested.

I was taller than he, and the garment came within a few inches of the
floor. He knotted the cincture around his middle and thrust his hands
into the pockets, turning to me for approval. I nodded, and motioned
for him to precede me through the door.

       *       *       *       *       *

As an officer of the Special Patrol Service, it has often been my duty
to show parties and individuals through my ship. Most of these parties
are composed of females, who have only exclamations to make instead of
intelligent comment, and who possess an unbounded capacity for asking
utterly asinine questions. It was, therefore, a real pleasure to show
Harbauer through the ship.

He was a keen, eager listener. When he asked a question, and he asked
many of them, he showed an amazing grasp of the principles involved.
My knowledge of our equipment was, of course, only practical, save for
the rudimentary theoretical knowledge that everyone has of present-day
inventions and devices.

The ethon tubes which lighted the ship, interested him but little. The
atomic generators, the gravity pads, their generators, and the
disintegrator-ray, however, he delved into with that frenzied ardor of
which only a scientist, I believe, is capable.

Questions poured out of him, and I answered them as best I could:
sometimes completely, and satisfactorily, so that he nodded and said,
"I see! I see!" and sometimes so poorly that he frowned, and
cross-questioned me insistently until he obtained the desired
information.

In the big, sound-proof navigating room, I explained the operation of
the numerous instruments, including the two three-dimensional charts,
actuated by super-radio reflexes, the television disc, the attraction
meter, the surface-temperature gauge and the complex control system.

"Forward," I added, "is the operating room. You can see it through
these glass partitions. The navigating officer in command relays his
orders to men in the operating room, who attend to the actual
execution of those orders."

"Just as a pilot, or the navigating officer of a ship of my day gives
his orders to the quartermaster at the wheel," nodded Harbauer, and
began firing questions at me again, going over the ground we had
covered, to check up on his information. I was amazed at the uncanny
accuracy with which he had grasped such a great mass of technical
detail. It had taken me years of study to pick up what he had taken
from me, and apparently retained intact, in something more than an
hour, Earth time.

       *       *       *       *       *

I glanced at the Earth-time clock on the wall of the navigating room
as he triumphantly finished his questioning. Less than an hour
remained before the time set for our return trip.

"I'm sorry," I commented, "to be an ungracious host, but I am
wondering what your plans may be? You see, we are due to start in less
than an hour, and--"

"A passenger would be in your way?" Harbauer smiled as he uttered the
words, but there was a gleam in his long eyes that rather startled me,
and I wondered if I only imagined the steeliness of his voice. "Don't
let that worry you, sir."

"It's not worrying me," I replied, watching him closely. "I have
enjoyed a very remarkable, a very pleasant experience. If you should
care to remain aboard the _Ertak_, I should like exceedingly to have
you accompany us to our Base, where I could place you in touch with
other laboratory men, with whom you would have much in common."

Harbauer threw back his head and laughed--not pleasantly.

"Thanks!" he said. "But I have no time for that. They could give me no
knowledge that I need, now; you have told me and showed me enough. I
understand how you have released atomic energy; it is a matter so
simple that a child should have guessed it, and man has wondered about
it for centuries, knowing that the power was there, but lacking a key
to unfetter it. And now I have that key!"

"True. But perhaps our scientists would like, in exchange, the secret
of moving forward in time," I suggested, reasonably enough.

"What do I care about them?" snapped Harbauer. He loosened the cord of
the robe with a quick, impatient gesture, as though it confined him
too tightly, and threw the garment from him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then, suddenly, he took a quick stride toward me, and thrust out his
ugly head.

"I know enough now to give me power over all my world," he cried.
"Haven't you guessed the reason for my interest in your engines of
destruction? I came down the centuries ahead of my generation so that
I might come back with power in my hand; power to wipe out the fools
who have made a mock of me. And I have that power--here!" He tapped
his forehead dramatically with his left hand.

"I will bring a new regime to my era!" he continued, fairly shouting
now. "I will be what many men have tried to be, and what no man has
ever been--master of the world! Absolute, unquestioned, supreme
master!" He paused, his eyes glaring into mine--and I knew from the
light that shone behind those long, narrow slits, that I was dealing
with a madman.

"True; you will," I said gently, moving carelessly toward the
microphone. With that in my hand, a slight pressure on the General
Attention signal, and I would have the whole crew of the _Ertak_ here
in a moment. But I had explained the workings of the navigating room's
equipment only too well.

"Stop!" snarled Harbauer, and his right hand flashed up. "See this?
Perhaps you don't know what it is; I'll tell you. It's an automatic
pistol--not so efficient as your disintegrator-ray, but deadly enough.
There is certain death for eight men in my hand. Understand?"

"Perfectly." What an utter fool I had been! I was not armed, and I
knew that Harbauer spoke the truth. I had often seen weapons similar
to the one he held in the military museums. They are still there, if
you are curious--rusty and broken, but not unlike our present atomic
pistols in general appearance. They propelled the bullet by the
explosion of a sort of powder; inefficient, of course, but, as he had
said, deadly enough for the purpose.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Good! You are a good sort Hanson, but don't take any chances. I'm not
going to, I promise you. You see,"--and he laughed again, the light in
his long eyes dancing with evil--"I'm not likely to be punished for a
few killings committed centuries after I'm dead. I have never killed a
man, but I won't hesitate to do so now, if one--or more--should get in
my way."

"But why," I asked soothingly, "should you wish to kill anyone? You
have what you came for, you say; why not depart in peace?"

He smiled crookedly, and his eyes narrowed with cunning.

"You approve of my little plan to dominate the world?" he asked
softly, his eyes searching my face.

"No," I said boldly, refusing to lie to him. "I do not, and you know
it."

"Very true." He pulled out his watch with his left hand, and held it
before his eyes so that he could observe the time without losing sight
of me for even an instant. "I doubted that I could secure your willing
cooperation; therefore, I am commanding it.

"You see, there are certain instruments and pieces of equipment that I
should like to take back to my laboratory with me. Perhaps I would be
able to reproduce them without models, but with the models my task
will be much easier.

"The question remaining is a simple one: will you give the proper
orders to have this equipment removed to the spot where you first saw
me, or shall I be obliged to return to my own era without this
equipment--leaving behind me a dead commander of the Special Patrol
Service, and any other who may try to stop me?"

       *       *       *       *       *

I tried to keep cool under the lash of his mocking voice. I have never
been adept at holding my temper when I should, but somehow I managed
it this time. Frowning, I kept him waiting for a reply, utilizing the
time to do what was perhaps the hardest, fastest thinking of my life.

There wasn't a particle of doubt in my mind regarding his ability to
make good his threat, nor his readiness to do so. I caught the faint
glimmering of an idea and fenced with it eagerly.

"How are you going to go back to your own period--your own era?" I
asked him. "You told me, I believe, that it was impossible to move
backward in time."

"That's not answering my question," he said, leering. "Don't think
you're fooling me! But I'll tell you, just the same. I can go back to
my own era: that is, back to my own actual existence. I shall return
just two hours after I leave; I could not go back farther than that,
and it's not necessary that I do so. I can go back only because I came
from that present; I am not really of this future at all. I go back
from whence I came."

"But," I objected, thinking of something I had read in the clipping he
had showed me, "you're not going back to your own era. You cannot. If
you returned, you would put your project into execution, and history
does not record that activity." I saw from the sudden narrowing of his
abnormally long eyes that I had caught his interest, and I pressed my
advantage hastily. "Remember that all the history of your time is
written, Harbauer. It is in the books of Earth's history, with which
every child of this age, into which you have thrust yourself, is
familiar. And those histories do not record the domination of the
world by yourself. So--you are confronted by an impossibility!"

       *       *       *       *       *

My reasoning, now, sounds specious, and yet it was a line of thought
which could not be waved aside. I saw Harbauer's black brows knit
together, and mounting anger darken his face. I do not know, but I
believe I was never nearer death than I was at that instant.

"Fool!" he cried. "Idiot! Imbecile! Do you think you can confuse me,
turn me from my purpose, with words? Do you? Do you believe me to be a
child, or a weakling? I tell you, I have planned this thing to the
last detail. If I had not found what I sought on this first trip, I
would have taken another, a dozen, a score, until I found the
information I sought. The last six years of my life I have worked day
and night to this end; your histories and your words--"

My plan had worked. The man was beside himself with insane anger. And
in his rage he forgot, for an instant, that he was my captor.

Taking a desperate chance, I launched myself at his legs. His weapon
roared over my head, just as I struck. I felt the hot gas from the
thing beat against my neck; I caught the reeking scent of the smoke.
Then we were both on the floor, and locked in a mad embrace.

Harbauer was a smaller man than myself, but he had the amazing
strength of a Zenian. He fought viciously, using every ounce of his
strength against me, striving to bring his weapon into use, hammering
my head upon the floor, racking my body mercilessly, grunting,
cursing, mumbling constantly as he did so.

But I was in better trim than Harbauer. I have never seen a laboratory
man who could stand the strain of prolonged physical exertion. Bending
over test-tubes and meters is no life for a man. At grips with him, I
was in my own element, and he was out of his. I let him wear himself
out, exerting myself as little as possible, confining my efforts to
keeping his weapon where he could not use it.

I felt him weakening at last. His breath was coming in great sobs, and
his long eyes started from their sockets with the strained effort he
was putting forth. And then, with a single mighty effort, I knocked
the pistol from his hand, so that it slid across the floor and brought
up with a crash against a wall of the room.

"Now!" I said, and turned on him.

       *       *       *       *       *

He knew, at that moment when I put forth my strength, that I had been
playing with him. I read the shock of sudden fear in his eyes. My
right arm went about him in a deadly hold; I had him in a grip that
paralyzed him. Grimly, I jerked him to his feet, and he stood there
trembling with weakness, his shoulders heaving as his breath came and
went between his teeth.

"You realize, of course, that you're not going back?" I said quietly.

"Back?" Half dazed, he stared at me through the quivering lids of his
peculiar eyes. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that you're not going back to your own era. You have come to
us, uninvited, and--you're going to stay here."

"No!" he shouted, and struggled so desperately to free himself that I
was hard put to it to hold him, without tightening my grip
sufficiently to dislocate his shoulders. "You wouldn't do that! I must
return; I must prove to them--"

"That's exactly what must not happen, and what shall not happen," I
interrupted. "And what will not happen. You are in a strange
predicament, Harbauer; it is already written that you do not return.
Can't you see that, man? If it were to be that you left this age and
returned to your own, you would make known your discovery. History
would record it. And history does not record it. You are struggling,
not against me, but against--against a fate that has been sealed all
these centuries."

       *       *       *       *       *

When I had finished, he stared at me as though hypnotized, motionless
and limp in my grasp. Then, suddenly, he began to shake and I saw such
depths of terror and horror in his eyes as I hope never to see again.

Mechanically, he glanced down at his watch, lifting his wrist into his
line of vision as slowly and ponderously as though it bore a great
weight.

"Two ... two minutes," he whispered huskily. "Then the automatic switch
will close, back in my laboratory. If I am not standing where ... where
you found me ... between the disc and the grid of my time machine, where
the reversed energy can reach me, to ... to take me back ... God!"

He sagged in my arms and dropped to his knees, sobbing.

"And yet ... what you say is true. It is already written that I did
not return." His sobs cut harshly through the silence of the room.
Pitying his despair, I reached down to give him a sympathetic pat on
the shoulder. It is a terrible thing to see a man break down as
Harbauer had done.

As he felt my grip on him relax, he suddenly shot his fist into the
pit of my stomach, and leaped to his feet. Groaning, I doubled up,
weak and nerveless, for the instant, from the vicious, unexpected
blow.

"Ah!" shrieked Harbauer. "You soft-hearted fool!" He struck me in the
face, sending me crashing to the floor, and snatched up his pistol.

"I'm going, now," he shouted. "Going! What do I care for your records
and your histories? They are not yet written; if they were I'd change
them." He bent over me and snatched from my hand the ring of keys, one
of which I had used to unlock the door of the navigating room. I tried
to grip him around the legs, but he tore himself loose, laughing
insanely in a high-pitched, cackling sound that seemed hardly human.

"Farewell!" he called mockingly from the doorway. Then the door
slammed, and as I staggered to my feet, I heard the lock click.

       *       *       *       *       *

I must have acted then by instinct or inspiration. There was no time
to think. It would take him not more than three or four seconds to
make his way to the exit, stroll by the guard to the spot where we had
found him, and--disappear. By the time I could arouse the crew, and
have my orders executed, his time would be up, and--unless the whole
affair were some terrible nightmare--he would go hurtling back through
time to his own era, armed with a devastating knowledge.

There was only one possible means of preventing his escape in time. I
ran across the room to the emergency operating controls, cut in the
atomic generators with one hand and pulled the Vertical-Ascent lever
to Full Power.

There was a sudden shriek of air, and my legs almost thrust themselves
through my body. Quickly, I pushed the lever back until, with my eye
on the altimeter, I held the _Ertak_ at her attained height--something
over a mile, as I recall it. Then I pressed the General Attention
signal, and snatched up the microphone.

Less than a minute later Correy and Hendricks, fellow officers, were
in the room and besieging me with solicitous questions.

       *       *       *       *       *

It had been my idea, of course, to keep Harbauer from leaving the
ship, but it was not so destined.

Shiro, the sentry on duty outside the _Ertak_, was the only witness to
Harbauer's fate.

"I was walking my post, sir," he reported, "watching the sun come up,
when suddenly I heard the sound of running feet inside the ship. I
turned towards the entrance and drew my pistol, to be in readiness. I
saw the stranger we had taken into the ship appear at the exit, which,
as you know, was open.

"Just as I opened my mouth to command him to halt, the _Ertak_ shot up
from the ground at terrific speed. The stranger had been about to leap
upon me; indeed, he had discharged some sort of weapon at me, for I
heard a crash of sound, and a missile of some kind, as you know,
passed through my left arm.

"As the ship left the ground, he tried to draw back, but he was off
balance, and the inertia of his body momentarily incapacitated him, I
think. He slipped, clutched at the gangway across the threads which
seal the exit, and then, at a height I estimate to be around five
hundred feet, he fell. The _Ertak_ shot on up until it was lost to
sight, and the stranger crashed to the ground a few feet from where I
was standing--on almost exactly the spot where we first saw him, sir.

       *       *       *       *       *

"And now, sir, comes the part I guess you'll find hard to believe.
When he struck the ground, he was smashed flat; he died instantly. I
started to run toward him, and then--and then I stopped. My eyes had
not left the spot for a moment, sir, but he--his body, that
is--suddenly disappeared. That's the truth, sir, for I saw it with my
own eyes. There wasn't a sign of him left."

"I see," I replied. I believe that I did. We had gone straight up, and
his body, by no great coincidence, had fallen upon the spot close to
the exit of the _Ertak_ where we had first found him. And his machine,
in operation, had brought him, or rather, his mangled body, back to
his own age. "You have not mentioned this affair to anyone, Shiro?"

"No, sir. It wasn't anything you'd be likely to tell: nobody would
believe you. I went at once to have my arm attended to, and then
reported here according to orders."

"Very good, Shiro. Keep the entire affair to yourself. I will make all
the necessary reports. That is an order--understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then that will be all. Take good care of your arm."

He saluted with his good hand and left me.

       *       *       *       *       *

Later in the day I wrote in the log-book of the Ertak the report I
mentioned at the beginning of this tale:

     "Just before departure, discovered stowaway, apparently
      demented, and ejected him."

That was a perfectly truthful statement, and it served its purpose. I
have given the whole story in detail just to prove what I have so
often contended: that these owlish laboratory men whom this age
reveres so much are not nearly so wise and omnipotent as they think
they are.

I am quite sure that they would have discredited, or attempted to
discredit, my story, had I told it at the time. They would have
resented the idea that someone so much ahead of them had discovered a
principle that still baffles this age of ours, and I would have had no
evidence to present.

Perhaps even now the story will be discredited; if so, I do not care.
I am much too old, and too near the portals of that impenetrable
mystery, in the shadow of which I have stood so many times, to concern
myself with what others may think or say.

I know that what I have related here is the truth, and in my mind I
have a vivid and rather pitiful picture of a mangled body, bloody and
alone, in the barn-like structure the ancient paper had described; a
body, broken and motionless, lying athwart the striated metal disc,
like a sacrificial victim--a victim and a sacrifice of science.

There have been many such.



Manape the Mighty

A COMPLETE NOVELETTE

_By Arthur J. Burks_


CHAPTER I

_Castaway_

[Illustration: _There, the words were written._]

[Sidenote: High in jungle treetops swings young Bentley--his human
brain imprisoned in a mighty ape.]


Lee Bentley never knew how many others, if any, lived on after the
_Bengal Queen_ struck the hidden reef and sank like a stone. He had
only a hazy memory of the catastrophe, and recalled that when she had
struck and the alarm had gone rocketing through the great passenger
boat--though no alarm was really necessary because she went to pieces
so fast--that he had leaped far over the rail and swam straight out,
fast, in order to escape being dragged down by the suction of the
sinking liner.

The screaming of frightened women and children would ring in his ears
until the day the grave closed over him--screaming that was made all
the more terrible by the crashing roar of the raging black seas which
came out of the darkness to make the affair all the more hideous, and
to bear down beneath them into the sea the feeble struggling ones who
had no chance for their lives. Lifeboats had been smashed in their
davits.

Bentley swam straight away after he was satisfied at last that he
could do nothing more. He had helped men and women reach bits of
wreckage until he could scarcely any longer keep his wearied arms to
the task of keeping his own head above water. He knew even as he
helped the white-faced ones that few of them would ever live through
it, but he was doing the best he knew--a man's job.

When absolutely sure that he could do nothing further, when he could
no longer hear cries of distress, or discover struggling forms in the
sea which he might aid, he had turned his back on the graveyard of
the _Bengal Queen_ and had struck for shore. He remembered the
direction, for before sunset that evening, in company with several
ship's under officers, he had studied the navigation charts upon which
each day's run of the _Bengal Queen_ was shown. Ahead of him now was
the coast of Africa, though what part of it he knew but in the haziest
way. He might not guess within a hundred miles.

       *       *       *       *       *

One thing only he remembered exactly. The second officer had said,
apropos of nothing in particular:

"This wouldn't be a happy place to be shipwrecked. This section of the
coast is a regular hangout of the great anthropoid apes. You know,
those babies that can pick a man apart as a man would pluck the legs
off a fly."

Bentley had merely grinned. The second officer's remarks had sounded
to him as though the fellow had been reading more than his fair share
of lurid fiction of the South African jungles.

However, apes or no apes, the shore would look good to Lee Bentley
now. And he fully intended making it. He knew he could swim for hours
if it became necessary, and he refused to think of the possibility of
sharks. If one got him, well, that was one of the chances one had to
take when one was shipwrecked against one's will.

So he alternately swam toward where he expected to find land, and
floated on his back to rest.

"A swell ending to a great life, if I don't make it," he told himself.
"I wonder how the old man will take it when the world reads that the
_Bengal Queen_ went down with all on board? He'll be relieved, maybe,
for he was about ready to wash his hands of me if I can read signs at
all."

       *       *       *       *       *

It might be said that Bentley was his own worst critic, for he really
was not a bad sort of a fellow. He was a good American, over-educated
perhaps, with a yen to delve into forbidden places usually avoided by
his own kind, and of digging into books which were better left with
the pages unturned. There were strange ruins in Africa, he knew. He
had gathered a weird fund of information from such books as he could
unearth relative to ancient ruins and vanished races, to the lurid
accounts of strange deaths of the various scientists who had taken
active part in the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamen.

There were queer things in the heart of darkest Africa, and such
things intrigued him. He could take whatever chances with his life he
saw fit, for his only relative was a father, and he had never attached
himself to any woman nor permitted any woman to attach herself to
him--because he could never be sure that her interest might not
primarily be in his bank account.

"If, as, and when," he told himself as he rode the waves through the
night, "I reach the coast I'll be tossed into black Africa in a way I
was not expecting. Anyway, if I live through, I can at least go about
my work without the governor interfering. I only hope it won't be hard
on the old fellow. He isn't a bad egg at all, and I guess I have given
him plenty to think about and worry over."

He turned on his stomach again and struck out. He had managed to rid
himself of all of his clothing except his underwear. They had only
weighed him down, and he recalled, with a wry grin, that Africa as a
whole went in but little for the latest in men's sport wear.

       *       *       *       *       *

It must have been a good hour since he had lost the _Bengal Queen_
back there in the raging deep, that he heard the faint call through
the murk.

"Help, for God's sake!"

He listened for a repetition of the call, minded to believe that his
ears had tricked him. He fancied it had been a woman's voice, but no
woman could have lived so long in those raging seas, in which any
moment Bentley himself expected to be overwhelmed. For himself he
regarded death more or less philosophically, but a woman out there,
crying for help, was a different matter entirely. It tore at his
heartstrings, mostly because he realized his inability to be of
material assistance.

He was sure that he had been mistaken about the cry, when it came
again.

"For God's sake, help!"

It came from his left and this time it was unmistakable, piteous and
unnerving. Lee Bentley had the horrible fear that he would never reach
her in time to help--though what help he could give, when he could
barely manage to keep himself afloat, he could not forsee.

He was swimming down the side of a monster wave. He could see
something white in the trough, and he struggled manfully to make
headway, while the angry waters tossed him about like a bit of cork
and seemed bent on defeating his most furious efforts. He saw the bit
of white ride high on the next wave, pass over it and vanish. He dived
straight through the wave as it towered over him. He came up, gasping,
his hands all but clutching at a pair of hands that reached out of the
waters and grasped with a last desperate effort at the sky.

Ahead of the hands was a broken piece of oar. Those hands had just
despairingly relinquished their grip on the one chance of safety, if
any chance there could possibly be in that mad midnight waste.

He pulled on the wrists and a white face came to view. Wild, staring
eyes looked into his. Black hair flowed back from a face whose lips
were blue and thin.

"Take it easy," he counseled. "Turn on your back and rest while I see
if I can get back your life-boat."

       *       *       *       *       *

He captured the oar, and found it practically useless to sustain any
appreciable weight, but he clung to it because it was at least better
than nothing at all. It had held the girl afloat for over an hour and
might be made to serve again somehow. With his left hand under the
woman's head and his right grasping the oar he turned on his back to
regain his breath. He was deep in the water because the woman was now
almost on top of him; but her face was above water. He knew
instinctively that she had fainted, and he was a little glad. If she
were the usual hysterical woman her fighting would drown them both. As
a dead weight she was easier to handle.

They drifted on, and hope began to mount high in the heart of Lee
Bentley--the hope that they might yet reach land. When, hours later,
he could hear the roaring of breakers he was sure of it--if the
breakers could be passed in safety. After that their fate was in the
lap of the gods.

The girl too must have heard, for she turned at last in Bentley's arms
and began to swim for herself. She was a strong swimmer and the period
during which she had been out of things had revived her amazingly. She
even managed a smile as she swam beside Bentley into the creamy
breakers behind which they could make out the blackness of shore.

They were so close together that at times their hands touched as they
swam, and could make themselves heard by dint of shouting, though they
both husbanded their strength and their breathing for swimming.

"I'm not dressed for company," he told her. "I left my tuxedo aboard
the _Bengal Queen_!"

It was then that her lips twisted into a smile.

"I wouldn't even allow my maid into my stateroom if I were dressed as
I am at the moment," she answered strongly, "but we're both grown up I
think, and there are times when conventions go by the board. We'll
pretend it doesn't matter!"

Then mutually helping each other they fought through the breakers into
the calmer water behind, and managed at last to stand in water hip
deep, with the undertow dragging at their limbs. They looked at each
other and clasped hands without a word. They strode to the sandy beach
beyond which the jungle reached away to some invisible horizon, and
continued on until they were at last beyond the reach of the waves.

       *       *       *       *       *

They did not look at each other again, though Bentley did notice that
her garb was as scanty almost as his own, consisting mostly of a slip
which the water had pasted fast against her flesh. Beyond noting that
she seemed to be young, Bentley did not intrude. Nor did he think of
the future. It was enough for the moment that they had escaped the
might of angry Neptune, god of the seas.

They dropped to the sands side by side, and the sands were warm. That
the jungle behind them might be alive with wild beasts they did not
pause to consider. Bentley had gazed at the jungle a moment before
dropping down.

He had noticed but one thing--a moving light somewhere among the
tangled mass, a light as of a monster firefly erratically darting
through the deeper gloom.

The girl--he had noted she was as much girl as woman--dropped to the
sand and stretched herself out. Bentley looked about him for a
moment, just now realizing what he had been through. Then he dropped
down beside the girl, and put one arm over her protectively, an
instinctive movement. The two were alone in an alien world, and even
this slight contact gave Bentley a feeling of companionship he found
at the time peculiarly appealing.

The girl was in a drugged sort of sleep, but she stirred at the touch
of his arm, and her hand came up so that her fingertips touched his
cheek.

He slept heavily, while outside on the raging deep the storm swept on
along the coast, bearing with it the secret of the rest of those who
only last night had looked forward to a pleasant voyage aboard the
_Bengal Queen_.

The last thought in Bentley's mind was of that flickering light he had
seen. It was not important, but memory of it clung, and followed him
into his sleep with his dreams--in which he seemed to be following a
darting, erratic light through a jungle without end.

He wakened with the sun burning his face and torso, and turned on his
stomach with a groan. The heat ate into his back unbearably and he
finally sat up, rubbed his eyes and stared out to sea. Then it all
came back and he looked about him for the girl. She had disappeared.

He rose to his feet and shouted.

An answering cry came back to him, and after a moment the girl
appeared around a bend in a shoreline where she had been masked by a
wall of the jungle and came toward him. She was carrying something in
her hands. When she stood at last before him he noted that she carried
a bundle of cloth that was dripping wet.

"We need something to cover us," she said simply. "I was tempted to
garb myself, but I did not wish to seem like a simpering prudish
female, which I'm not at all. So I brought my findings here so that we
could get together and fix up something to protect us from the sun."

"You're a sensible woman," said Bentley. "I've never understood why
people should be so sensitive about their bodies. Mine isn't bad and
yours, if you'll pardon me, is superb. That's not a compliment, just a
statement of fact--which will help us to understand each other better.
I've a hunch we're going to be some time in each other's company and
we may as well know things about each other. My name's Lee Bentley."

"Mine is Ellen Estabrook."

Solemnly they shook hands. And their hands clung convulsively, for as
though their handshake had been a signal there came a strange sound
from the jungle behind them.

A burst of laughter that was plainly human--and another sound which
caused the short hair at the base of Bentley's skull to rise, shift
oddly, and settle back again.

The sound was like the beating of a skin-tight drumhead by the fists
of a jungle savage. But if such it was the drum was a mighty drum, and
the savage was a giant, for the sound went rolling through the jungle
like an invisible tidal wave of sound.

Both the laughter and the drumming ceased as suddenly as they had
sounded.

The man and woman laughed jerkily, dropped to the sand side by side
and considered the necessity of clothes.


CHAPTER II

_Into the Jungle_

They had to smile together at the results achieved with the bedraggled
bits of cloth. Bentley suspected that they had been taken from bodies
washed ashore as gruesome reminders of the catastrophe which had
befallen the _Bengal Queen_, and because he did suspect this he did
not ask questions that might cause Ellen to remember any longer than
was necessary. Not that he doubted her courage, for she had proved
that sufficiently; and she had proved that she was sensible, with none
of the notions of the proprieties which would have made any other girl
of Bentley's acquaintance a nuisance.

Their next concern was food, which they must find in the jungle, or
from other wreckage cast ashore from the _Bengal Queen_. Now, hand in
hand--which seemed natural in the circumstances--they began to walk
along the shore, heading into the north by mutual consent.

As they walked Bentley kept pondering on that strange laughter he had
heard and on the sound of savage drumming. The laughter puzzled him.
If there were anyone in the jungle back of them, why had he or they
failed to challenge them?

As for the drumming sound--Bentley remembered what the second officer
had said about this section of the coast. It was a bit of jungle
inhabited by the great apes in large numbers. So, that drumming had
been a challenge, the man-ape's manner of mocking an enemy by beating
himself on his barrel chest with his huge fists. But that the ape had
not been challenging Bentley and the girl Bentley felt quite sure, as
the brute would certainly have shown himself in that case.

They trudged on through the sand, while the sun beat down unmercifully
on their uncovered heads. Ellen Estabrook strode along at Bentley's
side without complaint.

       *       *       *       *       *

After perhaps an hour of this unbearable effort, when both felt as
though the sun had sucked them dry of perspiration, they encountered
a rough footpath leading into the jungle. The path suggested human
habitation somewhere near. The inhabitants might be hostile natives,
even cannibals perhaps, but in this unknown land they would have to
take a chance on that.

With a sigh of relief, and refusing to look ahead too far, or try to
guess what lay in wait for them in the black mystery of the jungle,
they turned into the footpath. The jungle was fetid and sweaty, but
even this was a relief from the intolerable sun which could not reach
them here because the jungle had closed its leafy arms over the trail
instantly. One could not tell from the path whether it had been made
by natives or by whites, for it was packed hard. It led straight away
from the shoreline.

"We'll have to keep a sharp lookout for possible poisoned spring
darts, Ellen," said Bentley.

"I'm not afraid, Lee," she answered stoutly. "Fate wouldn't allow us
to come through what we have only to end things with poisoned darts.
It just couldn't happen that way!"

Thus simply they addressed each other. It seemed as though years had
been squeezed into a matter of hours. They knew each other as well as
they would, in other circumstances, have known each other after a year
of constant association. Here barriers of conventions were razed as
simply and naturally as among children.

       *       *       *       *       *

They had pressed well into the gloom of the jungle when the first
sound came.

Not the laughter they had heard before, but the drumming. It was ahead
and somewhat to the left, and as they stopped without speaking they
could distinctly hear the threshing of a huge body through the
underbrush. The sound seemed to be approaching and for a minute or so
they listened. Then the sound was repeated off to the right, a trifle
further away.

"Can you climb, Ellen?" asked Bentley simply. "This section is filled
with anthropoid apes, according to the second officer of the _Bengal
Queen_. We may have to take to the trees."

"I can climb," she said, "but from what I've studied of the habits of
these brutes they do a great deal of bluffing before they actually
charge, and may not molest us at all if we pay no attention."

Bentley felt almost nude because he had no weapons save his own fists.
And he would not have admitted even to himself how deeply he was
concerned over the girl. As far as he knew, this section might be
entirely uninhabited. It might be given over entirely to the
anthropoids. In this case he shuddered to think of what might happen
to Ellen Estabrook if he were slain.

He quickened his pace until Ellen kept stride with him with
difficulty. The object uppermost in Bentley's mind was to get as far
away as possible from the ominous drumbeats.

They rounded a bend in the trail and stopped stock-still.

Within fifty yards of them, blocking the trail, was a brute whose
great size sent a thrill of horror through Bentley. It towered to the
height of a big man, and must have weighed in the neighborhood of four
hundred pounds. It was larger by far than any bull ape Bentley had
seen in captivity.

It had been waiting for them, silently, with almost human cunning; but
now that it was discovered the shaggy creature rose to his hind legs
and screamed a challenge, at the same time striking his chest with
blows of his hairy fists which rolled in a dull booming of sound
through the jungle. At the same time the creature moved forward.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bentley whirled to run, his hand clasping tighter the hand of Ellen
Estabrook. But they had not retreated ten steps down the pathway when
their way was blocked by another of the great shaggy brutes. And they
could hear others on both sides.

Bentley's face was chalk-white as he turned to the girl. Her calm
acceptance of their predicament, an attitude in which he could read no
slightest vestige of fear, helped him to regain control of his own
nerves, which had threatened to send him into a panic. She even
smiled, and Lee felt a trifle ashamed of himself.

Now the crashing sounds were closing in. The two brutes before and
behind on the trail were pressing in upon them. But no general
headlong charge had yet begun. Bentley looked around him, seeking a
tree with limbs low enough for them to reach and thus climb to safety.

"There's one!" cried Ellen. Tugging at his hand she began to run.

At the same moment the great apes bellowed and charged.

But the charge was never finished, for through the drumming of their
mighty fists on mighty barrel-like chests, through the sound of their
charge, through the crackling underbrush came again that sound of
laughter. There was fierce joy in the laughter, and the laughter was
followed by words of a strange gibberish which Bentley could not
recall as being from any language he had ever heard.

The great apes paused. Out of the jungle to the right of the fugitives
burst a white man. He was well past middle age, for his white hair
hung almost to his shoulders, which were stooped with the weight of
years. He was a wisp of a man whose smooth shaven face was apple-red.
His eyes were black and expressionless as obsidian, and when Lee
encountered the full gaze of them he was conscious of that feeling
which he had experienced at various times in his life when he knew
that some deadly reptile was close by.

"Stand still a moment!" cried the old man. His voice was strangely
high-pitched and cracked.

       *       *       *       *       *

From his right hand a whip with a long lash uncurled like a snake.

This he swung back and hurled to the front, and the snap of it was
like a pistol shot. The great ape on the path ahead cowered back,
bearing his fangs, roaring in anger. But that he feared the whip of
the old man was plain to be seen. The crashing sound in the jungle
died away rapidly, immediately the first report of the whip lash
sounded in the trail.

Fearlessly the little man dashed upon the first of the great brutes
the castaways had seen. His lash curled about the great beast's body,
and the animal bellowed with pain. It clawed at the lash, but was not
fast enough to capture it. In the end the brute broke and fled.

The animal which had blocked their path in the rear had already
disappeared.

Now the little man came back to face the fugitives, and his lips were
parted in a cordial smile. He coiled his whip and tucked it under his
arm. He was dressed in well worn corduroy with high boots that were
rather the worse for wear. Bentley saw that his lips were too
red--like blood--and somehow he disliked the man instantly.

"Welcome to Barterville," said the old man. "It has been years since I
have seen any of my own kind. People avoid this section of the
jungle."

"I don't wonder," said Bentley, sighing deeply with relief. "Those
brutes would make anybody keep away from here, if they knew about
them. I thought they had us for a few minutes. They planned an ambush
almost as well as human beings could have done it--but that's absurd
of course, merely a coincidence."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Coincidence?" snapped the old man, a hint of asperity in his words.
"Coincidence? I see you do not know the great apes, sir. I have always
maintained that apes could be trained to do anything men can do. I
have maintained that they have a language of their own, and even ways
of communicating without words, a sort of jungle writing which men of
course have never yet learned. I've devoted my life to learning the
secrets of the great apes, their life histories, and so forth. I am
Professor Caleb Barter!"

"Professor Caleb Barter!" ejaculated Ellen Estabrook. "Why I've heard
of him! He went on an expedition among the great apes ten years ago
and was never heard of again."

"I am Caleb Barter," said the old man. "I decided to disappear from
the world I knew, to let other fool scientists think me dead in order
that I might continue my investigations without molestation. And now I
have almost reached the place where I can go back to civilization with
information that will startle the world. There yet remains one
experiment. Now I hope to make that experiment. No! No! Don't ask me
what it is. It is my secret and nobody will ever wrest it from me."

Bentley studied the old man. He seemed slightly demented, Bentley
thought, but that might be merely the mental evolution of a man who
had made a hermit of himself for so many years--if this chap actually
were Professor Barter.

"Professor Barter," went on Ellen, "was the scientific leader of his
day. Others followed where he led. He made greater strides in surgery
and medicine, and in unravelling the mysteries of evolution, than
anyone else up to his time. Of course I believe you are Professor
Barter. My name is Ellen Estabrook, and this gentleman is Lee Bentley.
We believe ourselves to be the only survivors of the _Bengal Queen_.
Perhaps you can lead us to food and water?"

"Yes, oh yes! Indeed. One forgets how to be hospitable, I fear. I am
sorry to hear there was a wreck and that lives were lost--but it may
mean a great gain to the world of science. I am happier to see you
than you can possibly know!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Bentley felt the cold chills racing along his spine as he listened to
the old man's flow of words. He behaved well, but Bentley could feel
in spite of that, that there was a hidden current of menace in the old
man's behavior. He wished that Ellen would keep him talking, would
somehow make sure of his identity. Perhaps the same thought was in her
mind, for it had scarcely come to him when the girl spoke again.

"Before he disappeared Professor Barter wrote a learned treatise on--"

"I am Professor Barter, I tell you, young woman. But if you wish proof
the title of the treatise was 'The Language of the Great Apes.'"

Ellen turned quickly to Bentley and nodded. She was satisfied that the
man was the person he claimed to be. He didn't ask how Ellen happened
to know about him, and Bentley himself considered the proof entirely
lacking in conclusiveness. Anyone might know about the last treatise
of Barter.

However, they could but await developments.

They followed Barter along the trail. Now and again apes challenged
from the jungle, and Barter answered them with that strange laughter
of his, or with a flow of gibberish that was like nothing human.

Bentley shivered. Barter, by his laughter, was identifying himself to
the great anthropoids. But with his gibberish was he actually
conversing with them?

"This experiment of yours," said Bentley when the period of silence
became unbearable, "--won't you tell us about it?"

The old man cackled.

"You'll know all about it--soon! You'll know everything, but the
secret will still rest with Caleb Barter. Do not be too curious, my
friends."

"We are anxious to reach civilization, Professor," said Bentley,
deciding to be placative with the old man. "Perhaps you can arrange
for guides for us?"

Barter laughed.

"I could not permit you to leave me for some time," he said. "I want
you to witness my experiment. The world would never believe me without
the evidence of reliable witnesses."

Barter laughed again.

       *       *       *       *       *

They entered a clean clearing which was a riot of flowers. At the
further edge was a log cabin of huge proportions. The whole thing had
a decidedly homely appearance, but it was a welcome sight to the
castaways. There were cages in which strange birds chattered shrilly
in their own language at sight of the three. A pair of tame monkeys
chased each other on the roof of the house, whose corners were almost
hidden by climbing vines whose growth one could almost see.

Barter led the way at a swift walk across the clearing and into the
house.

Bentley gasped. Ellen Estabrook exclaimed with pleasure.

The reception room was as neat as though it received the hourly
attentions of a fussy housewife. It was cozily furnished, yet it was
evident that the furniture had been made on the spot of rough wood
and skins of various animals. Deep skin rugs covered the floor and
walls. There were three doors giving off of the reception room, all
three of which were closed.

"You are not married?" he asked the two.

"No!" snapped Bentley.

"That center door leads to your room, Bentley. The one next to it is
for the young lady. The other door? Ah, the other door my friends!
That door you must never open. But to make sure that curiosity does
not overcome caution, let me show you!"

       *       *       *       *       *

They followed him to the door. He swung it open.

Both visitors started back and a gasp of terror burst from the lips of
Ellen Estabrook. Beads of perspiration burst forth on Bentley.

They saw a huge room. In one corner was a bed. The other held a great
cage--and in the cage was an anthropoid ape larger even than the great
brute they had met on the trail!

Barter laughed. He stepped into the room, uncoiled his whip and hurled
the lash at the cage. A great bellowing roar fairly shook the house,
while the brute tore at the bars which held him prisoner until the
whole massive cage seemed to dance. Barter laughed and continued to
goad him.

"Barter," yelled Bentley, "stop that! If that beast should ever happen
accidentally to get free he'd tear you to pieces!"

"I know," said Barter grimly, "and that's part of the experiment! Now
we shall eat, and you, young lady, shall tell me what other fool
scientists had to say about me after I disappeared--to escape their
parrot-like repeating of my discoveries!"

Bentley started to offer protest as Barter began preparation for the
meal, which obviously was to be taken in the room which held the cage
of the giant anthropoid, but Ellen put her fingers to her lips and
shook her head. Her eyes were dancing with excitement.


CHAPTER III

_A Night of Horror_

The meal consisted of various fruits, some meat which Bentley could
not identify, and wild honey which was delicious. The bread tasted
queer but was distinctly edible. The castaways ate ravenously, but
even as he ate Bentley noticed that Ellen's face was chalky pale, and
that in spite of a distinct effort of will she simply had to look at
intervals toward the great beast in the cage.

Caleb Barter sat with his back to the animal. Bentley sat at the left
of the old scientist, Ellen Estabrook at his right. The great beast
was quiet now, but he squatted within his prison and his red-rimmed
eyes swerved from one person to the other in the room with a peculiar
intentness.

"I'd swear that beast can almost read our thoughts!" ejaculated
Bentley at last, after he had somewhat sated his appetite.

Barter smiled with those too-red lips of his.

"He can--almost. You'd be surprised to know how nearly human the great
apes are, and how nearly human this particular one is. Ah!"

"What do you mean, this particular one?" asked Bentley curiously. "He
doesn't look any different to me from the others I've seen except that
he is far and away the largest."

"I don't see why you should be so curious," said Barter testily. "It's
none of your business you know--yet."

"What do you mean?" demanded Bentley, nettled by Barter's tone.

"Lee, hush," said Ellen. "Professor Barter is not on trial for any
crime."

Bentley looked at her in hurt surprise, inclined to be angry with her
for the tone she was taking, but he saw such a look of appeal in her
eyes that he choked back the words that rushed to his lips for
utterance. He was decidedly on edge, more, he felt, than he should
have been despite what they had gone through. When their eyes met he
saw her glance quickly toward the ape, and noted a frown of worry
between her brows.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bentley glanced at the ape. The brute now was staring at the girl in a
way that made Bentley's flesh crawl. It was preposterous of course,
but he had the feeling, something which seemed to flow out of that
mighty cage like some evil emanation from a dank tarn, that the ape
knew the girl's sex--and that he desired her! It was horrible in the
extreme to contemplate, yet Bentley knew when he glanced swiftly at
the girl that she had sensed the same thing and was fighting to keep
the natural horror she felt at such a ghastly thought from being
noticeable. It was absurd. The ape was a prisoner. But....

"Professor Barter," said Bentley, "you're accustomed to being with
this brute, but it isn't so nice for us, especially for Miss
Estabrook."

Barter now frowned angrily.

"My dear Bentley," he said with that odd testiness which he had
assumed toward Bentley before, "I refuse to have any interference with
my experiment. This is part of it."

"You mean--" began Bentley.

"I mean that I'm training that ape--I call him Manape--to behave like
human beings. How better can he learn than by watching our behavior?"

"Just the same," said Bentley, "I don't like it."

"It's all right, Lee," said Ellen quickly. "I don't mind."

But Bentley knew that it wasn't all right, and that she did mind,
terribly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Barter finished eating. Bentley had noticed that despite the long
years he had been a virtual hermit, Barter ate as fastidiously as he
probably had done when he had lived among his own kind. He pushed back
his chair with a swift movement.

Instantly the roaring of Manape rang through the room. The great brute
rose to his full height and grasped the bars of his cage, shaking them
with savage fury. He glared at his master and bestial rage glittered
from his red-rimmed eyes. He was a horrible sight. Ellen Estabrook,
with no apology, stepped around the table and crouched wide-eyed in
the arm of Lee Bentley.

"Lee," she said, "I'm terribly afraid. I almost wish we had trusted
ourselves in the jungle."

"I'll look out for you," he whispered, as Barter turned his attention
to the great ape.

But Bentley was watching the animal. So was Barter. The eyes of the
scientist were shining like coals of fire. For the moment he appeared
to have forgotten his guests.

"It is a success!" he cried. "As far as it goes, I mean!"

What did Barter mean? Seeking some answer to the enigma, Bentley
studied the ape anew. Now he was positive of another thing: Manape was
scarcely concerned with Barter, whom he appeared to hate with an
utterly satanic hatred. His beady eyes were staring at Bentley
instead!

"The brute is jealous of me!" thought Bentley. "Good God, what does it
mean, anyway?"

Barter turned back to them and all at once became the genial host.

"Shall we return to the other room?" he asked politely.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a relief to the castaways to put that awful room behind them.
Barter closed and barred the door with deliberate slowness.

Why had this old man shut himself away from civilization like this?
How long had he held this great ape in captivity? What was the purpose
of it? What experiment was he performing? What part of it had the
castaways been witnessing that they had not recognized? Bentley,
recalling the distinct impression that the ape had stared at Ellen
almost with the eyes of a lustful man, and had even appeared to be
jealous of him because the girl had gone into his arms--Bentley felt a
shiver of revulsion course through him as it struck him now how
_human_ the regard and the jealousy of the creature had been!

He felt like clutching at the girl and racing with her into the
hazards of the jungle. But he remembered the anthropoids out there,
and Barter's peculiar domination of the brutes.

Barter was now watching the two with interest, studying them in turn
speculatively, unmindful of the impertinence of his studious regard
and silence.

"I have it!" he said. "Will you two be good enough to excuse me? You
will need rest, I am sure. I am going away for a little time, but I
shall return shortly after dark. Make yourselves at home. But
remember--don't enter that room!"

"You need not worry," said Bentley grimly. "I sincerely hope we take
our next meal in some other room."

Barter laughed and passed out of the door without a backward glance.

From the jungle immediately afterward came the drumming of the great
apes, and now and again the laughter of Barter--high-pitched at first,
but dying away as Barter apparently moved off into the jungle.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Ellen," said Bentley quickly, "I don't know what's going on here, but
I'm sure it's something sinister and awful. Let's take a look at our
rooms. If there isn't a door between them which can be left open,
then you'll have to spend the night in my room while I remain awake on
guard."

"I was thinking of the same thing, Lee," she whispered. "This place
gives me the horrors. Barter's association with the apes is a terrible
thing."

Hand in hand they stepped to the door Barter had designated as that of
Ellen Estabrook's. Bentley opened it cautiously, heaving a sigh of
relief to find it empty. He scarcely knew what he had expected. There
was a connecting door between the two rooms, open, and they peered
into the chamber Bentley was to occupy.

Back they came to her room, to stand before a window which gave onto a
shadowed little clearing in the rear of the cabin.

"Look!" whispered Ellen.

There was a single mound of earth, with a white cross set over it, on
which was the single word: Mangor.

It might have been a word in some native dialect. It might have been
some native's name. It might have been anything, but, whatever it was,
it added to the sinister atmosphere which seemed to hang like an evil
mist over the home of Caleb Barter.

"That settles it, Ellen," he said. "You'll spend the night in my
room."

Ellen retired in Bentley's room, closing the door which led to the
adjoining room, and Bentley walked back and forth in the reception
room, waiting for Barter to return. When darkness fell he lighted the
lamps he had previously located. Their odor caused him to guess that
the fuel they used was some sort of animal fat. In the strange glow
from the lamps, his shadow on the walls, as he walked to and fro, was
grotesque, terrible--and at times a grim reminder of the great apes.
It caused him to consider how, after all, human beings were akin to
gorillas and chimpanzees. Somehow, now, it was a horrible thought.

       *       *       *       *       *

The night wore on and Bentley's stride became faster. Now and again he
peered into the girl's room. She was sleeping the sleep of utter
exhaustion and he did not waken her. Bentley felt it was near midnight
when Barter returned, his return heralded by a strange commotion in
the clearing, and the frightful drumming of the great apes--or at
least _one_ great ape. Bentley shuddered as the animal behind the
locked door answered the drumming challenge with a drumming thunder of
his own.

Barter came in, and Bentley accosted him at once.

"See here, Barter," he began. "I don't like it here. There's something
strange going on in this clearing. Miss Estabrook and I wish to leave
immediately in the morning! And that grave behind the cabin, who or
what is it?"

Barter studied the almost trembling Bentley for all of a minute.

"That grave?" he said at last, with silken softness. "It's the grave
of a jungle savage. He died in the interest of science. As for you,
you'll leave here when I bid you, and not before, understand? I've a
guardian outside that would tear both of you limb from limb."

But Bentley caught and held fast to certain words the scientist had
spoken.

"The savage died in the interest of science?" he said. "What do you
mean?"

Barter smiled his red-lipped smile.

"I took the savage and Manape, who wasn't called Manape then, and
administered an anesthetic of my own invention. You've heard that I
was a master of trephining? No matter if you haven't heard, the whole
world will know soon! While the native and the ape were under
anesthesia I transferred their brains. I put the black man's brain in
the skull pan of the ape, and the ape's brain in that of the savage.
The ape lived--and he is Manape. The savage, with the ape's brain,
died, and I buried him in that grave you asked about!"

       *       *       *       *       *

With a cry of horror Bentley turned and fled from Barter as though the
man had been His Satanic Majesty himself. He entered the room with
Ellen and barred the door behind him. He likewise barred the door
which led to that other room. Now in total darkness it was all he
could do from clambering on the bed where Ellen slept, and begging her
to touch him--anything--if only to prove to him that there still were
sane creatures left in a mad world.

Outside Barter laughed.

"Oh, Bentley," he called after a long interval of silence, "do you
like the odor of violets? Goodnight, and pleasant dreams!"

What had Barter meant?

Again assuring himself that the connecting door could not be opened if
anything or anybody tried to enter that way, Bentley flung himself
down before the door which gave on the reception room. He had no
intention of sleeping. But in spite of himself he dozed off, though he
fought against sleep with all his will.

Strange, but as he gradually slipped away into unconsciousness he was
cognizant of the odor of violets--like invisible tentacles which
reached through the very door and wrapped themselves gently about him.

His last conscious thought was of Manape, the ape with the brain of a
jungle savage. But in spite of the vague feeling of horror he could
not fight off the desire for sleep.


CHAPTER IV

_Grim Awakening_

Bentley returned to consciousness with a dull headache. He rose to a
sitting posture and looked dully about him. Dimwittedly he tried to
recall all that had passed since he had last been awake. He knew he
had gone to sleep under the door in the room where Ellen had slept.
Yet he was not there now. He peered about him.

He recognized the room.

Yonder was the table where they had eaten last night, or yesterday
afternoon. Yonder was the bed he guessed Barter customarily used, and
he shuddered a little as he fancied a man sleeping in the same room
with that ghastly travesty which was neither ape nor human--Manape.
The creature's name was simple, being simply "man" and "ape" joined
together to fit the creature perfectly--too perfectly. Barter's bed
had been slept in, but Barter was nowhere to be seen. Where was he?
How came Bentley in this room? Barter had forbidden him to enter the
place at all, on any pretext whatever. Had he walked in his sleep,
drawn by some freak of his subconscious mind into the room of Manape?

Slowly, afraid to look yet forced by something outside himself, he
turned his eyes toward the corner where the beast's cage was.

The cage was empty!

The door of it was open!

Stunned by his discovery, wondering what had happened during the
night, Bentley looked about him. He noticed the long narrow table at
the end of the cage, and the white covering it bore. He recognized it
instantly as an operating table, and wondered afresh.

Where was Barter?

       *       *       *       *       *

Bentley raised his voice to shout the scientist's name. But before he
could himself recognize the syllables of the scientist's name, through
the whole room rang the bellowing challenge of a giant anthropoid ape.
Bentley cowered down fearfully and looked around him. Where was the
ape that had uttered that frightful noise? The sound had broken in
that very room, yet save for himself the room was empty.

Bentley turned his head as he heard someone fumbling with the door.

Barter entered, and his face was a study as his eyes met those of
Bentley. Bentley noticed that Barter held that whip in his hand,
uncoiled and ready for action.

What was this that Barter was saying?

"I warn you, Bentley, that if anything happens to me you are doomed.
If I am killed it means a horrible end for you."

Bentley tried to answer him, tried to speak, but something appeared to
have gone wrong with his vocal cords, so that all that came from his
lips was a senseless gibberish that meant nothing at all. He recalled
the odor of violets, Barter's enigmatic good-night utterance with
reference to violets, and wondered if their odor, stealing into the
room where he had gone on guard over Ellen, had had anything to do
with paralyzing his powers of speech.

"I see you haven't discovered, Bentley," said Barter after a moment of
searching inspection of Bentley. "Look at yourself!"

Surprised at this puzzling command, Bentley slowly looked down at his
chest. It was broad and hairy, huge as a mighty barrel, and his arms
hung to the floor, the hands half closed as though they grasped
something. Horror held Bentley mute for a moment. Then he raised his
eyes to Barter, to note that the scientist was smiling and rubbing his
hands with immense satisfaction.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bentley started across the floor toward a mirror near Barter's bed. He
refused to let his numbed brain dwell upon the instant recognition of
his manner of progress. For he moved across the floor with a peculiar
rolling gait, aiding his stride with the bent knuckles of his hands
pressed against the floor.

He fought against the horror that gripped him. He feared to look into
the mirror, yet knew that he must. He reached it, reared to his full
height, and gazed into the glass--at the reflection of Manape, the
great ape of the cage!

Instantly a murderous fury possessed him. He whirled on Barter, to
scream out at the man, to beg him to explain what had happened, why
this ghastly hallucination gripped him. But all he could do was
bellow, and smash his mighty chest with his fists, so that the sound
went crashing out across the jungle--to be answered almost at once by
the drumming of other mighty anthropoids outside, beyond the clearing
which held the awful cabin of Caleb Barter.

He started toward Barter, still bellowing and beating his chest. His
one desire was to clutch the scientist and tear him limb from limb,
and he knew that his mighty arms were capable of ripping the scientist
apart as though Barter had been a fly.

"Back, you fool!" snarled Barter. "Back, I say!"

The long lash of the whip cracked like a revolver shot, and the lash
curled about the chest and neck of Bentley. It ripped and tore like a
hot iron. It struck again and again. Bentley could not stand the awful
beating the scientist was giving him. In spite of all his power he
found himself being forced back and back.

       *       *       *       *       *

He stepped into the cage, cowered back against its side. Barter darted
in close, shut the door and fastened it. Then he stood against the
bars, grinning.

"Nod your head if you can understand me, Bentley," he said.

Bentley nodded.

"I told you I would yet prove to the world the greatness of Caleb
Barter," said the scientist. "And you will bear witness that what I
have to tell is true. Would you like to know what I have done?"

Again, slowly and laboriously, Bentley nodded his shaggy head.

Barter grinned.

"Wonderful!" he said. "You see, you are now Manape. Yesterday you had
the brain of a black man, and to exchange your brain with Manape's of
yesterday would not have served my purpose in the least. So I had to
find an ape of more than average intelligence. That's why I spent so
much time in the jungle yesterday. I needed a brain to put in the body
of Lee Bentley's--an ape's brain. Your body is a healthy one and I did
not think it would die as the savage's did. I was right. It is doing
splendidly. It would interest you to see how your body behaves with an
ape's brain to direct it. Your other self, whom I call Apeman, is
unusually handsome. Miss Estabrook, however, who does not know what
has happened, has taken a strange dislike to the other you! Splendid!
I shall study reactions at first hand that will astound the world!

"But remember, whatever your fine brain dictates that you do, don't
ever forget that I am the only living person who can put you to rights
again--and if I die before that happens, you will continue on, till
you die, as Manape!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Barter stopped there. Bentley stiffened.

From the room where he knew Ellen Estabrook to be came her voice,
raised high in a shout of fear.

"Lee! Please! I can't understand you. Please don't touch me! Your eyes
burn me--please go away. What in the world has come over you?"

Bentley listened for the reply of the creature he knew was in the
other room with Ellen Estabrook.

But the answer was a gurgling gibberish that made no sense at all! His
own body, directed by the brain of an ape, could not emit speech that
Ellen could understand, because the ape could not speak. The ape's
vocal cords, which now were Bentley's, were incapable of speech.

How, if Barter continued to keep Ellen in ignorance of what had
happened, would she ever know the horrible truth--and realize the
danger that threatened her?

"Don't worry for the moment, Bentley," said Barter with a smile. "I am
not yet ready for your other self to go to undue lengths--though I
dislike intensely to leave the marks of my whip on that handsome body
of yours!"

Barter slipped from the room.

Bentley listened, amazed at the clarity with which he heard every
vagrant little sound--until he remembered again that his hearing was
that of a jungle beast--until he knew that Barter had entered that
other room.

Then came the crackling reports of the whip, wielded mightily by the
hands of Barter.

A scream that was half human, half animal, was the result of the
lashing. Bentley cringed as he imagined the bite of that lash which he
himself had experienced but a few moments before.

"Professor Barter! Professor Barter!" distinctly came the voice of
Ellen Estabrook. "Don't! Don't! He didn't mean anything, I am sure. He
is sick, something dreadful has happened to him. But he wouldn't
really hurt me. He couldn't--not really. Stop, please! Don't strike
him again!"

But the sound of the lash continued.

"Stop, I tell you!" Ellen's voice rose to a cry of agonized entreaty.
"Don't strike him again. See, you've ripped his flesh until he is
covered with blood! Strike me if you must strike someone--for with
all my heart and soul I love him!"


CHAPTER V

_Fumbling Hands_

Now Bentley was beginning to realize to the full the horrible thing
that had befallen himself and Ellen Estabrook. He knew something else,
too. It had come to him when he had heard Ellen's words next
door--telling Barter that she loved the creature Barter was beating,
which she thought was Lee Bentley. That creature was Lee Bentley; but
only the earthly casement of Lee Bentley. The ruling power of
Bentley's body, the driving force which actuated his body, was the
brain of an ape.

As for Bentley himself, that part of him of which he thought when he
thought of "I," to all intents and purposes, to all outer seeming, had
become an ape. His body was an ape's body, his legs were an ape's,
everything about him was simian save one thing--the "ego," that
something by which man knows that he is himself, with an individual
identity. That was buried behind the almost non-existent brow of an
ape.

In all things save one he was an ape. That thing was "Bentley's"
brain. In all things save one that creature in the room with Ellen
Estabrook was Bentley. Bentley, driven to mad behavior by the brain of
an ape!

The horror of it tore at Bentley, as he still thought of himself.

"If I were to get out of this cage," he told himself voicelessly, "and
were to enter that room with Ellen, she would cower into a corner in
terror. She would fly to the arms of that travesty of 'me,' for she
thinks it is 'I' in there with her because it _looks_ like me."

Now that Ellen was beyond his reach, more beyond his reach than if she
had been dead, he realized how much she meant to him. In the few mad
hours of their association they had come to belong to each other with
a possessiveness that was beyond words. Thinking then that the
travesty in there with her--with Bentley's body--was really Bentley,
to what lengths might she not be persuaded in her love? It was a
ghastly thing to contemplate.

       *       *       *       *       *

But what could Bentley do? He could not speak to her. If he tried she
would race from him in terror at the bellowing ferocity of his voice.
How could he tell her his love when his voice was such as to frighten
the very wild beasts of the jungle?

Yet....

How could he allow her to remain with that other Bentley--that body
which perhaps was provided with a man's appetites, and the brain of a
beast which knew nothing of honor and took what it wished if it were
strong enough?

There was one ray of hope in that Barter had hinted he would protect
Ellen from the apeman. That meant physically, with all that might
indicate; but who could compensate her for the horror she must be
experiencing with that speechless imbecile she thought was Bentley? If
this thing were to continue indefinitely, and Ellen were kept in
ignorance, she would eventually grow to hate the "thing"--and if ever,
as he had hinted, Barter were to transfer back the entities of the man
and the ape, Ellen would always shudder with horrible memories when
she looked at the man she had just now admitted she loved.

Bentley was becoming calmer now. He knew exactly what he faced, and
there was no way out until Barter should be satisfied with his mad
experiment. Bentley must go through with whatever was in store for
him. So must the ape who possessed his body--and in the very nature
of things unless Bentley could train himself to a self-saving
docility, both bodies would repeatedly know the fiery stinging of that
lash of Barter's. Bentley could control himself after a fashion. The
ape might be cowed, but long before that time arrived, Bentley's body
would be made to suffer marks they would bear forever to remind him of
this horror.

"I must somehow manage to continue to care for Ellen," he told
himself. "But how?"

       *       *       *       *       *

He scarcely realized that his great hands were wandering over his
body, scratching, scratching. But when he did realize he felt sick,
without being able to understand how or where he felt sick. If he felt
sick at the stomach he thought of it as his own stomach. When he
thought of moving the hairy hands he thought of his hands. He grinned
to himself--never realizing the horrible grimace which crossed his
face, though there was none to see it--when he recalled how men of his
acquaintance during the Great War, had complained of aching toes at
the end of legs that had been amputated!

He was learning one thing--that the brain is everything that matters.
The seat of pain and pleasure, of joy and of sorrow, of hunger and of
thirst even.

Bentley waddled to the door of the cage. He studied the lock which
held him prisoner, and noted how close he must hold his face to see at
all. All apes might be near-sighted as far as he knew; but he did know
that this one was. Perhaps he could free himself.

He tried to force his massive hands to the task of investigating the
lock. But what an effort! It was like trying to hypnotize a subject
that did not wish to be hypnotized. A distinct effort of will, like
trying to force someone to turn and look by staring at the back of
that someone's neck in a crowd. It was like trying to make an entirely
different person move his arm, or his leg, merely by willing that he
move it.

But the great arms, which might have weighed tons, though Bentley
sensed no strain, raised to the door and fumbled dumbly, clumsily. He
tried to close the gnarled fingers, whose backs were covered with the
rough hair, to manipulate the lock, but he succeeded merely in
fumbling--like a baby senselessly tugging at its father's fingers, the
existence of which had no shape or form in the baby's brain.

But he strove with all his will to force those clumsy hands to do his
bidding. They slipped from the lock, went back again, fumbled over it,
fell away.

"You must!" muttered Bentley. "You must, you must!"

He would discover the secret of the lock, so that he would be able to
remove it when the time was right--but so slow and uncertain and
clumsy were the movements of his ape hands, he was in mortal fear that
he would unlock the door and then not be able to lock it again, and
Barter would discover what he had in mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

But he struggled on, while foul smelling sweat poured from his mighty
body and dripped to the floor. He concentrated on the lock with all
his power, knowing as he did so that the lock would have been but a
simple problem for a child of six or seven. It was nothing more than a
bar held in place with a leather thong. But the powerful fingers which
now were Bentley's were too blunt and inflexible to master the knot
Barter had left.

Bentley paused to listen.

From Ellen's room came the sound of weeping. From the front room came
Barter's pleased laughter as he talked with the thing which so much
resembled Bentley. That was a relief--to know that his other self had
been at least temporarily removed from any possibility of injuring
Ellen.

In Bentley's mind were certain pictures of Barter. He saw him plainly
on his knees begging for mercy, while Bentley's ape hands choked his
life away. He saw him tossed about like a mere child, and casually
torn apart, ripped limb from limb by the mighty hands of Manape.

"God," he told himself, refusing to listen to the slobbering gibberish
which came from his thick lips when he addressed himself, "I can do
nothing to Barter--not until he restores me properly. If he is slain,
it is the end for me, and for Ellen! He is a master, no doubt of that.
He anesthetized me through the door with something of his own
manufacture that smelled like violets, and put my brain in Manape
after removing from Manape the brain of the savage. Then he removed an
ape's brain from a second ape and put it in my skull pan--all within
the space of a few hours! Yet his knowledge of surgery and medicine is
such that even in so short a time I suffer little from the operation,
save for the dull headache which I had on awakening, and which I now
scarcely feel at all."

       *       *       *       *       *

He straightened, close against the bars, and began again to fumble
with the leather thong which held him prisoner. In his brain was the
hazy idea that he might after all make a break for it, and carry Ellen
away to a place of safety, taking a chance on finding his way back
here to force Barter to operate again and restore him to his proper
place. But would not Ellen die of fright at being borne away through
the jungle in the arms of an ape? Was there any possibility of forcing
Barter to perform the operation? No, for under the anesthetic again,
Barter, angered by the thwarting of whatever purpose actuated him,
might do something even worse than he had done--if that were possible.
Again, even if he reached civilisation with Ellen, every human hand
would be turned against him. Rifles would hurl their lead into him.
Hunters would pursue him....

No, it was impossible.

Bentley, Ellen, and the Apeman--his own body, ape-brained--were but
pawns in the hands of Barter. Barter might be actuated by a desire to
serve science, that science which was alike his tool and his god.
Bentley scarcely doubted that Barter believed himself specially
ordained to do this thing, in the name of science; probably,
unquestionably, felt himself entirely justified.

Plainly, now that Bentley recalled things Barter had said, Barter had
waited for an opportunity of this kind--had waited for someone to be
tossed into his net--and Ellen and Lee, flotsam of the sea, had come
in answer to the prayer for whose answer Barter had waited.

It was horrible, yet there was nothing they could do--at least, to
free themselves--until it pleased Barter to take the step. It came
then to Bentley how precious to them both was the life of Caleb
Barter. He could restore Bentley or destroy him--and with him the
woman who loved him.

Suppose, came Bentley's sudden thought, Barter should think of
performing a like operation on Ellen--using in the transfer the brain
of a female ape? God!...

He prayed that the thought would never come to Barter. He was afraid
to dwell upon it lest Barter read his thought. He might think of it
naturally, as a simple corollary to what he had already done. Bentley
then must do something before Barter planned some new madness.

       *       *       *       *       *

He sat back and bellowed savagely, beating his chest with his mighty
hands.

Instantly the outer door opened and Barter came in.

Bentley ceased his bellowing and chest pounding and sat docilely
there, staring into the eyes of Barter.

"Have you discovered there is no use opposing me, Bentley?" said the
professor softly.

Bentley nodded his shaggy head. Then by a superhuman effort of will he
raised the right arm of Manape and pointed. He could not point the
forefinger, but he could point the arm--and look in the direction he
desired.

"You want to come out and go into the front room?"

Bentley nodded.

"You will make no attempt to injure me?"

Bentley shook his head ponderously from side to side.

"You would like to see the Apeman?--the creature that looks so much
like you that it will be like peering at yourself in the mirror? Or,
rather, as it would have been yesterday had you looked into a mirror?"

Bentley nodded slowly.

"You understand that no matter what the Apeman does, you must not try
to slay him?"

Bentley did not move.

"You understand if you destroy Apeman's body, you are doomed to remain
Manape forever, because the true body of Lee Bentley will die and be
eventually destroyed?"

Bentley nodded. He felt a trickle of moisture on the rough skin about
his flaring nostrils and knew that he was weeping, soundlessly.

       *       *       *       *       *

But there was no pity in the face of Barter. He was the scientist who
studied his science, to whom it was the breath of life, and he saw
nothing, thought of nothing, not directly connected with his
"experiment."

"You give me your word of honor as a gentleman not to oppose me?"

It was odd, an almost superhumanly intellectual scientist asking for
an ape's word of honor, but that did not occur to Bentley at the
moment, as he nodded his head.

Barter still held his lash poised. He unfastened the leather thong
which held Bentley prisoner and swung wide the door. Then he turned
his back on Bentley and led the way to the door.

Bentley followed him on mighty feet and bent knuckles into the room
which had first received Lee and Ellen when they had entered the cabin
of the scientist.

Bentley would have gasped had he been capable of gasping at what he
saw.

In a far corner, cowering down in fear at sight of Barter and his
coiled whip--was the Bentley of the mirror in his stateroom aboard the
_Bengal Queen_, and before that.

It was an uncanny sensation, to stand off and peer at himself thus.

Yonder was Bentley, yet _here_ was Bentley, too.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then he noted the difference. The face of that Bentley yonder was
twisted, savage. _That_ Bentley had seen Manape, and the teeth were
exposed in a snarl of savage hatred. There a man ape stared at another
man ape, and bared his fangs in challenge. The white hands of Bentley
began to beat the white chest of Bentley--to beat the chest savagely,
until the white skin was red as blood....

The Bentley buried within the mighty carcass of an anthropoid ape
watched and shuddered. That thing yonder was dressed only in a
breech-clout, and the fair flesh was criss-crossed in scores of places
with bleeding wounds left by the lash of Barter. The Apeman's brows
were furrowed in concentration. The human body made ape-like
movements.

Bentley knew that soon that creature, forgetting everything save that
he faced a rival man ape, would charge and attempt to measure the
power of Manape--fang against fang. The white form rose.

Barter caused his whiplash to crack like an explosion.

"One moment," he said. "Back, Apeman! I'll bring Miss Estabrook.
Perhaps she can placate you. She has a strange power over you both!"

Bentley would have cried out as Barter crossed to unlock Ellen's door,
but he knew that he could not stop Barter, and that his cry would
simply be a terrible bellow to frighten the woman he loved when she
entered the room.

The door opened. White, shaken, her eyes deep wells of terror, circled
with blue rings which told the effect of the horror she had
experienced, Ellen Estabrook entered.

And screamed with terror as she saw the hulking figure of Manape.
Screamed with terror and rushed to the arms of the cowering thing in
the corner!


CHAPTER VI

_Puppets of Barter_

The thing that Barter then contrived was destined to remain forever in
the memory of Bentley as the most ghastly thing he had ever
experienced. Ellen hurried into the arms of that thing in the corner.
Gropingly, protectively, the white arms encompassed her. But they were
awkward, uncertain, and Bentley was minded of a female ape or monkey
holding her young against her hairy bosom.

Barter turned toward Bentley and smiled. He rubbed his hands together
with satisfaction.

"A success so far, my experiment," he said. "The human body still
answers to primal urges, which are closely enough allied to those of
our simian cousins that their outward manifestations--manual gestures,
expressions in the eyes et cetera--are much the same. When the two are
combined the action approximates humanness!"

That travesty yonder pressed its face against Ellen, and she drew
back, her eyes wide as they met those of the white figure which held
her.

"I am all right," she managed, "please don't hold me so tightly."

She tried to struggle away, but Apeman held her helpless.

"Barter," yelled Bentley, "take her away from that thing! How can you
do such a horrible thing?"

At least those were the words he intended to shout, but the sound that
came from his lips was the bellowing of a man ape. That other thing
yonder answered his bellow, bared white teeth in a bestial snarl.
Barter turned to Bentley, however.

"You want me to take her away from Bentley and give her to you?"

Bentley nodded.

His bellowing attempt at speech had sent Ellen closer into the arms of
Bentley's other self--henceforth to be known as Apeman. Bentley had
defeated his own purpose by his bellow.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Miss Estabrook," said Barter softly, "nothing will happen to you if
you stand clear of your sweetheart...."

Nausea gripped Bentley as he heard Apeman referred to as Ellen's
sweetheart, but now he remembered to refrain from attempting speech.

"But," went on Barter, "Manape has taken a violent dislike to Bentley,
and may attack him if you do not stand clear. Manape likes you, you
know. You probably sensed that last evening?"

Ellen visibly shuddered. She patted the shoulder of Apeman and
stepped away, toward a chair which Barter thrust toward her.

She pressed her hands to her throbbing temples, visibly fighting to
control herself. Her whole body was trembling as with the ague.

"Professor Barter," she said at last. "I am terribly confused, and
most awfully frightened. What has happened here? What dreadful thing
has so awfully changed Lee? I talk to him and he answers nothing that
I understand. Is it some weird fever? At this moment I have the
feeling that that brute Manape understands more perfectly than Lee,
and the idea is horrible! I love Lee, Professor. See, he hears me say
it, yet I cannot tell from his expression what he thinks. Does he
despise me for so freely admitting my love? Has he any feeling about
it at all? Has his mind completely gone?"

"Yes," said Barter, with a semblance of a smile on his lips, "his mind
has completely gone. But it is only temporary, my dear. You forget
that I am perhaps the world's greatest living medical man, and that I
can do things no other man can do. I shall restore Lee wholly to
you--when the time comes. It is not well to hasten things in cases of
this kind. One never knows but that great harm may be done."

"But I can nurse him. I can care for him and love him, and help to
make him well."

       *       *       *       *       *

Barter looked away from Ellen, his eyes apparently focussed on a spot
somewhere in the air between Apeman and Manape.

"Would that be satisfactory to Bentley, I wonder?" he said musingly,
yet Bentley recognized it as a question addressed to him. Bentley
looked at the girl, but her eyes were fixed--alight with love which
was still filled with questioning--on Apeman. Bentley shook his head,
and Barter laughed a little.

"You know, Miss Estabrook," he went on, "that a strange malady like
that which appears to have attacked Lee Bentley should be studied
carefully, in order that the observations of a savant may be given to
the world so that such maladies may be effectually combatted in
future. This is one reason why I do not hasten."

"But you are using a sick man as you would use a rabbit in a
laboratory experiment!" she cried. "Can't you see that there are
things not even you should do? Don't you understand that some things
should be left entirely in the hands of God?"

"I do not concede that!" retorted Barter. "God makes terrible mistakes
sometimes--as witness cretins, mongoloid idiots, criminals, and the
like. I know about these things better than you do, my dear, and you
must trust me."

"Oh, if I only knew what was right. Poor Lee. You lashed him so, and
his body is awful with the scars. Was that necessary?"

"Insane persons are not to blame for their insanity," said Barter
soothingly. "Yet sometimes they must be handled roughly to prevent
them from causing loss of life, their own or others."

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the eyes of Ellen came to rest on Manape.

They were fear filled at first, especially when she discovered that
the little red eyes of Manape were upon her. But she did not turn her
eyes away, nor did Manape. She seemed dazed, unable to orient herself,
unable to distinguish the proper mode of action.

"That ape in repose is almost human," she said wearily, her brow
puckered as though she sought the answer to some unspoken question
that eluded her. "I am not afraid of him at this moment, yet I know
that in a second he can become an invincible brute, capable of tearing
us all limb from limb."

"Not so long as I have this whip," said Barter grimly. "But Manape is
docile at the moment, and it is Bentley who is ferocious."

Apeman was still snarling at Manape, lending point to Barter's
statement. Barter went on.

"You know," he said, "apes are almost human in many respects. Manape
likes you, and I doubt if he would attempt to hurt you. If he knew
that you cared for Bentley there, he would most assuredly try to be
friendly to Bentley also. Perhaps you can manage it. Apes are capable
of primitive reasoning, you know. Go to Manape. He won't injure you,
at least while I am here. Stroke him. He will like it. He is a friend
worth having, never fear, and one never knows when one may need a
friend--or what sort of friend one may need."

Ellen hesitated, and her face whitened again.

Barter went on.

"Go ahead. It is necessary that Manape and Bentley remain here
together for a time. Manape will be locked up, but if he happens to
break loose there is nothing he might not do. With Bentley in the
condition he is he would be no match for Manape. But if Manape thought
you desired his friendship for Bentley...?"

       *       *       *       *       *

There he left it, while Bentley wondered what new horror Barter was
planning. He yearned for Ellen to come to him. But, if he strode
toward her now, how would Barter explain that Manape had understood
his words? No, Ellen must take the step, and each one would be
hesitant, as she fought against her natural revulsion at touching this
great shaggy creature which was Manape to her, and Bentley to himself.

Slowly, almost against her will, Ellen rose and moved across the floor
toward Bentley. Apeman growled ominously. He rose to his feet, his
arms writhing like disjoined, broken-backed snakes across his scarred
chest.

Apeman took a step forward. Barter did not notice, apparently, for he
was watching Manape as Ellen approached.

She came quite close. Slowly she put forth her hand to touch the
shaggy shoulder of Manape. Bentley, seeking some way, _any_ way, to
reassure her, put his great shaggy right arm about her waist for the
merest second.

Then Apeman charged, bellowing a shrill crescendo that was half human,
half simian.

Before Bentley could realize Apeman's intentions, Apeman had clutched
Ellen about the waist and dashed for the door of the cabin. He was
gone, racing across the clearing with swift strides, bearing the girl
with him.

Bentley whirled to pursue, but Barter had beaten him to the door and
now blocked it, whiplash writhing, twisting, curling to strike.

"Back, Bentley! Back, I say! In a moment you may follow--as part of my
experiment. But remember--the end must be here in this cabin, and you
must remember everything, so that you can tell me all--when you are
restored!"

Bentley cowered under the lash. His whole shaggy body trembled
frightfully.

From the jungle toward which Apeman was racing come the roaring
challenge of half a dozen anthropoids.


CHAPTER VII

_Lord of the Jungle_

Apeman, never realizing that his actual strength was that of but a
puny human being, was racing with Ellen Estabrook into the very midst
of animals which would tear him to bits as easily as they would tear
any human being to pieces. Apeman, being but an ape after all, would
merely think that he was joining his own kind, bearing with him a mate
with white skin.

But to the other apes he would be a human being, a puny hairless
imitation of themselves which they would pounce upon and tear asunder
with great glee. Apeman would not know this: would not realize his
limitations. He would try to take to the upper terraces of the jungle,
to swing from tree to tree, carrying his mate--and would find the body
of Bentley incapable of supporting such an effort. Apeman would be a
child in the hands of his brethren, who could not know him. Apeman
could probably speak to them after a fashion, but his gibberish would
come strangely perhaps unintelligibly, through the mouth of Bentley.
They would suspect him, and destroy him, and with him Ellen Estabrook,
unless other apes discovered also her sex and took her, fighting over
her among themselves.

Bentley made good time across the jungle clearing. Behind him came the
voice of Barter in final exhortation.

"Your human cunning, hampered by your simian body, pitted against the
highly specialized body of your former self, in turn hampered by the
lack of reasoning of an ape--in a contest in primitive surrounding for
a female! A glorious experiment, and all depends now upon you! You
will save the girl who loves you and whom you love, but you must
return to me and be transferred before you can make your love known. I
shall wait for you!"

In Bentley's brain the shouted words of Barter rang as he hurried into
the jungle in pursuit of Apeman. Ellen Estabrook was crying: "Hurry,
Lee, hurry!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet she was really yelling to Apeman, the man-beast which carried her,
bidding him race on to escape the pursuit of Manape, in whom she
would never recognize the man she loved. She must have thought that
Bentley had taken a desperate chance to escape the clutches of Barter,
and that Barter had set his trained ape to pursue them. What else
could she think? How could she know that she was actually in the power
of an ape, and that her loved one actually pursued to save her? With
every desire of her body she was urging Apeman to take her away from
Manape. But she must also have heard the challenges of the man apes in
the jungle ahead. She was looking back over Apeman's shoulder,
wondering perhaps if Barter would again come out to save them from the
anthropoids.

Bentley could guess at her thoughts as he raced on in pursuit of
Apeman.

Would he be in time? Even if he were, Apeman himself would turn
against him. If he were to try to aid Ellen she would fight against
him, believing him an ape. And how could he fight? Would his brain be
able to direct his mighty arms and his fighting fangs in a battle with
the apes of the jungle?

As he thought of coming to grips with the apes on equal terms,
something never in this world before vouchsafed to a human being, he
felt a fierce exaltation upon him. He felt a desire to take part in
mortal combat with them, to fight them fist and fang, and to destroy
them, one by one. He had their strength and more--he had the cunning
of a human being to match against the dim wits of the apes. He had a
chance.

But he must protect not only Ellen, but Apeman. Both Ellen and Apeman
would be against him. Ellen would fear him as an ape that desired her.
Apeman would fight against him as a rival for the favors of a she....

And he must harm neither. His own body, which Apeman directed, must
be spared, must be kept alive--while every effort of Apeman would be
to force Bentley to slay!

It was a predicament which--well, only Caleb Barter had foreseen it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The bellowing of the apes was a continuous roar on all sides now.
Bentley felt a fierce sensation of joy welling up within him and he
answered their bellowing with savage bellows of his own. His legs were
obeying his will. His knuckles touched the ground as he raced on all
fours.

He could hear the shriek of Ellen there ahead, and knew that Apeman
and the girl were surrounded--that he must make all possible speed if
he were to be in time.

Apeman and his captive were on the trail, trapped there just as Apeman
had started into the jungle. Apeman had lifted Ellen so that her hands
might have grasped a limb; but the girl had refused to attempt to
escape by the trees if her "lover" remained behind. She had crumpled
to the ground, and Apeman, snarling, smashing his chest which was so
sickly white as compared to the chests of the other apes, had turned
upon his brethren. They hesitated for a moment as though amazed at the
effrontery of this mere human.

Then a man ape charged. Apeman met him with arms and fangs, and
Bentley saw Apeman's all too small mouth snap out for the vein in the
neck of Apeman's attacker. The ape whose brain reposed in Apeman had
been a courageous beast, that was plain. But he was fighting for his
she.

And he did not know his limitations. Apeman was bowled over as though
he had been a blade of grass, and the great ape was crouched over him,
nuzzling at his white flesh when Bentley-Manape arrived.

With a savage bellow, and with a mighty lunge, Bentley leaped upon
the attacker of Apeman. His arms obeyed him with more certainty now,
perhaps because the matter was so vitally urgent. Bentley's brain knew
jiu-jitsu, boxing, ways of rough and tumble fighting of which the
great apes had never learned, nor ever would learn.

       *       *       *       *       *

He hurled himself upon the animal that was on the point of pulling
Apeman apart as though he had indeed been a fly, and literally
flattened him against the ground. His mighty hands searched for the
throat of the great ape, while he instinctively pulled his stomach out
of the way of possible disemboweling tactics on the part of his
antagonist. But the great ape twisted from his grasp, struggled erect.

And, amazed at what he was doing, surprised that he, Lee Bentley,
could even conceive of such a thing, he launched his attack with bared
and glistening fangs straight at the throat of his enemy. His mouth
closed. His fangs ripped home--and the great ape whose throat he had
torn away, whose blood was salt on his slavering lips, was tossed
aside as an empty husk, to die convulsively, a dripping horror which
was humanlike in a ghastly fashion. Bentley felt like a murderer. Not
like a murderer, either, but like a man who has slain unavoidably--and
hates himself for doing so.

Ellen was backed against the tree into which Apeman had tried to force
her.

Apeman was up now, moving to stand beside her. Apeman had discovered
that he was not the invincible creature he had thought himself.

Bentley moved in closer to the two, as other apes charged upon him
from both sides, smothering him, giving him no time. He was a
stranger, seemingly, an upstart to be destroyed.

And he was forced to fight them with all his ape strength and human
cunning, while Apeman, whimpering, caught up Ellen and darted away
with her, straight into the jungle.

For Bentley this was a sort of respite. Ellen was not afraid to go
with Apeman, thinking him Bentley. The great apes were bent on
destroying this strange ape which had come into their midst and had
already destroyed one of their number, perhaps their leader.

He must be destroyed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bentley fought like a man possessed. His arms were gory with crimson
from the slashing fangs of his enemies. His mouth was dripping with
red foam as he slashed in turn, with deadly accuracy. A great arm
clutched at the hair of his chest--and fell away again, broken in two
places, as Bentley snapped it like a pipe stem because he knew
leverages and was able to force his ape's body to obey the will of his
human mind.

One ape whimpering, rolling away to lick at his wounds; whimpering
oddly like a baby that has burned its fingers. A great ape weighing
hundreds of pounds, crying like a child! Yet that "child," with his
arm unbroken, could have taken a grown man, no matter how much of a
giant, and torn him to pieces.

Two other apes were out of the fray, one dead, the other with only
empty eye-sockets where his red-rimmed eyes had been.

Bentley guessed that Apeman had gone at least a mile into the jungle,
heading directly away from the dwelling of Caleb Barter. He must get
free and pursue. There was nothing else he could do. If he were slain,
Ellen was doomed to a fate he dared not contemplate. Apeman would
never be accepted by the apes because to all outward seeming he was a
man. His body would never stand the hardship of the jungle, yet Apeman
would never guess that, and would be slain. Bentley must prevent
that.

He must make sure that Apeman's body at least remained sufficiently
healthy that it could become his own again without the necessity of a
long sojourn in some hospital. Ellen must not be left alone with
Apeman, who was still an ape, running away with a she.

A ghastly muddle.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the apes broke away from Bentley. They broke in all direction into
the jungle. Some of them seemed on the trail of Apeman. One of them
took to the trees, swinging himself along with the speed of a running
man, flying from limb to limb with no support save his hands.

Bentley stared after the fleeing ape, and then gave chase. He felt
that the ape was on the trail of Apeman. Bentley did not know that he
himself could follow the spoor of Apeman, for he had not yet analyzed
all of his new capabilities. But while he was discovering, he would
follow something he could see--the fleeing ape, who would overhaul
Apeman as though Apeman were standing still.

So, in a manner of speaking, Bentley essayed his wings.

He took to the trees after the fleeing ape, and was amazed that his
great arms worked with ease, that he swung from limb to limb as easily
and as surely as the other apes. He climbed to the upper terrace,
where view of the ground was entirely shut off. His eyes took note of
limbs capable of bearing his weight--after he had made one mistake
that might easily have proved costly. He had leaped to a limb that
would have supported Bentley of the _Bengal Queen_, but that was a
mere twig under the weight of Manape. It broke and he fell, clutching
for support; and fate was kind to him in that he found it, and so
clambered back and swung easily and swiftly along.

In his nostrils at intervals was a peculiar odor--a peculiarly human
odor, reminding him of the work-sweat of a man who seldom bathed. He
knew that for the odor of Apeman, and a thrill of exaltation
encompassed him as he realized that he was following a spoor by the
cunning of his nostrils.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a great leap across space. The ape ahead of him made it with
ease. Bentley essayed it without hesitation, hurling himself into
space, all of a hundred feet above the ground; with all the might of
his arms--and almost overshot the mark, almost went crashing once more
through the branches. But the tree swayed, and held, and Bentley went
swinging on.

It was wildly exhilarating, thrilling in a primitive way. Bentley
remembered those dreams of his childhood--dreams of falling endlessly
but never striking. Racial memories, scientists called them, relics of
our simian forebears. Bentley thought of that and laughed; but his
laughter was merely a beastly chattering which recalled him to the
grim necessity of the moment.

Fifteen minutes passed, perhaps. Twenty. Half an hour. He was
following a trace which led away from the coast, and further away from
the cabin of Caleb Barter. But with his jungle senses, and his human
memory, Bentley was sure he could return when the time came.

Had Barter foreseen all that? Was Barter smiling to himself, back
there in his awful hermitage, waiting for the working out of his
"experiment"?

But Apeman had jungle knowledge, and must have forced Bentley's body
to the limit of its endurance, for it was near evening when Bentley,
who had lost the ape ahead of him, but had continued on the spoor of
Apeman by the smell, came to swift pause on his race through the
trees.

       *       *       *       *       *

He had heard the voice of Ellen Estabrook, and the voice was pleading.

"Lee! Lee! If you love me try to regain control of yourself. Please do
not stare at me like that. Oh, your poor body! The brush and briars
have literally torn you to bits."

But the answer of "Lee" was a bestial snarl, and traveling as quietly
as he could, Manape dropped down so that he could gaze upon his
beloved, and the thing she believed she loved.

Ellen was unaware of him. But he had scarcely dropped into view before
Apeman became aware of him, and rose weakly to tottering limbs, to
beat his bruised and bleeding chest in simian challenge. Apeman was
simply an ape that had run until he was finished, and now was turning
to make a last stand against a male who was stronger--a last bid for
life and possession of the she he had carried away.

Then Ellen saw Manape, screamed, and for the first time since she had
been saved from the deep by Bentley, fainted dead away.

The two so strangely related creatures faced each other across her
supine body--and both were savagely snarling. Apeman weakly but
angrily, Manape with a sound of such brute savagery that even the
twittering of birds died away to awed silence.


CHAPTER VIII

_Struggle for Mastery_

It was Apeman who charged. Pity for Apeman welled up in Bentley. That
was his own body which Apeman was so illy using. His own poor bruised
and bleeding body, which Apeman had all but slain by forcing it far
beyond human endurance. It must be saved, in spite of Apeman.

But there was something first to do. Bentley bent over Ellen, caught
her under his arm, and returned to the trees, with Apeman chattering
angrily and futilely behind him. Bentley found a crotch in the tree
where he could place Ellen, made sure that she was safely propped
there and that no snakes were near, and hurried back to the contest
with Apeman which could not be avoided.

He did not fear the battle he knew he must fight. He hurried back
because Apeman might realize himself beaten and escape into the
jungle. In his weakened condition he could not travel far and would be
easy prey for any prowling leopard, easy prey for the crawling things
whose fangs held sure death. Or would the cunning of Apeman, denizen
of the jungle, warn him against any such? His ape brain would warn
him, but would his human strength avail in case of necessity, in case
of attack by another ape, or a four-footed carnivore?

Bentley hurried back because Apeman must be saved, somehow, even
against his will. Apeman hated Manape with a deadly hatred. Yet to
subdue the travesty of a human being, Manape must take care that he
did not destroy his own casement of humanity. Any moment now and a
great cat might charge from the shadows and destroy Apeman.

       *       *       *       *       *

Apeman, snarling, beating his puny chest with his puny hands, was
waiting for Manape his enemy.

Manape found himself thinking of the line: "'O wad some power the
giftie gie us, to see oursilves as ithers see us,'" and adding some
thoughts of his own.

"If that were actually 'I' down there, my chance of preserving the
life of myself, and that of Ellen against the rigors of the jungle,
would be absolutely nil. How helpless we humans are in primitive
surroundings! The tiniest serpent may slay us. The jungle cats destroy
us with ease, if we be not equipped with artificial weapons which our
better brains have created. As Manape, Barter's trained ape, I am
better fitted to protect Ellen than if I were Bentley--the Bentley of
the _Bengal Queen_. Yet she will cower away from me when she wakens."

Now Bentley was down, and Apeman was charging. He charged at a
staggering run. He stepped on a thorn, hesitated, and whimpered. But
he possessed unusual courage, for he still came on. Apeman knew the
law of the jungle, that the weakest must die. Death was to be his
portion if he could not withstand the assaults of Manape, and he came
to meet his fate with high brute courage.

Apeman was close in. His hands were swinging, fists closed, in a
strange travesty of a fighting man. Apeman was snarling. He groped for
the throat of Manape with his human teeth--which sank home in the
tough hide of Manape, hurting him as little as though Apeman were
toothless.

"As Bentley I would have no chance at all against a great ape," said
Bentley to himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

How could he take the pugnacity out of Apeman without destroying him?
If he struck him he might strike too hard and slay Apeman--which was
the equivalent of slaying himself. So Manape extended his mighty
hands, caught Apeman under the armpits and held him up, feet swinging
free. Yet Apeman still struggled, gnashed his teeth, and beat himself
on the chest.

How utterly futile! As futile as Bentley in his own casement would
have been against a great ape! Apeman might destroy himself through
his very rage. How could Bentley render the travesty unconscious and
yet make sure that Apeman did not die?

If he struck he might strike too hard and slay.

What should he do?

A low coughing sound came from somewhere close by. From the deeps of
his consciousness Bentley knew that sound. He clutched Apeman in his
right arm, swung back to the tree and up among the branches. He was
just in time. The tawny form of a great cat passed beneath, missing
him by inches.

But while he had saved himself and Apeman, he had been clumsy. He had
struck the head of Apeman against the bole of the tree, and Apeman
hung limp in his arm. Bentley, fear such as he had never before known
gripping him, pressed his huge ear to Apeman's heart. It was beating
steadily and strongly. With a great inner sigh of relief he climbed to
safety in the tree, bearing Apeman with him.

       *       *       *       *       *

He reached the crotch where Ellen rested, and disposed Apeman nearby,
his own gross body between them. He even dared to gather Ellen closer
against him for warmth. His left hand held tightly the wrist of the
unconscious Apeman, so that he should not fall and become prey of the
night denizens of the jungle.

So, the two who seemed to be human--Apeman and Ellen, passed from
unconsciousness into natural sleep, while Bentley-Manape remained
motionless between them, afraid to close his eyes lest something even
more terrible than hitherto experienced might transpire. But his ears
caught every sound of the jungle, and his sensitive ape's nostrils
brought him every scent--which his man's mind strove to analyze,
reaching back and back into the dim and misty past for identification
of odors that were new, or that were really old, yet which had been
lost to man since they had left forever the simian homes of their
ancestors and their senses had become more highly specialized.

The questions which turned over and over in Bentley's mind were these:

How shall I tell Ellen the truth? Will she believe it?

What is the rest of Barter's experiment? How shall I proceed from this
moment on? How shall I procure food for Ellen? What food will Apeman
choose for my body to assimilate?

And jungle night drew on. Once Ellen shivered and pressed closer to
Manape as she slept.

What would morning bring to this strange trio?


CHAPTER IX

_Fate Decides_

Morning brought the great apes of the jungle--scores of them. They had
approached so silently through the darkness that Bentley had not heard
them, and his ape's nostrils had not told his human brain the meaning
of their odor. It appeared too that his ape's ears had tricked him.
For when morning came there were great apes everywhere.

Bentley still held the wrist of Apeman, whose chest was rising and
falling naturally, though the body was limp and plainly exhausted, and
exuded perspiration that told of some jungle fever or other illness
perhaps, induced by hardship and over-exertion. The ape's brain of
Apeman had driven Bentley's body to the uttermost, and now that body
must pay.

Bentley wondered how far he was now from the cabin of Caleb Barter.

He doubted if Apeman could stand the return journey, though Bentley's
ape body could have carried Apeman's with ease. But would Apeman
stand the journey? Apeman, Bentley knew, was going into the Valley of
the Shadow, and something must be done to save him. But what?

And the great apes constituted a new menace, though they were making
no effort to molest the three in the tree. Apeman must be placed in a
shady place and some attention paid to his needs. But the human body
with the ape's brain could not tell how it hurt or where.

The first task was to get the two beings down from the tree, and much
depended upon chance. To the apes Bentley was another ape, one
moreover which had slain a number of them. But Apeman was a human
being, as was Ellen Estabrook. The whole thing constituted a fine
problem for the brain of Manape.

       *       *       *       *       *

If Manape were to attempt first aid for Apeman, how would such a sight
react upon Ellen Estabrook? If Manape were to attempt to take Apeman
back to Caleb Barter, leading the way for Ellen, would she follow, and
what would his action tell her? She would think herself demented,
imagining things, because a great ape did things which only human
beings were supposedly capable of doing.

If she knew, of course, it would make a difference. But she did not,
and Bentley had no means by which to inform her. That was a problem
for the future. Ellen was sleeping the sleep of utter exhaustion and
he felt that he could safely leave her for the moment while he swung
Apeman down from the tree. He must work fast, and return for Ellen
before the great apes discovered the helpless Apeman at the foot of
the tree. He hoped to get Ellen down while she slept, knowing that she
would be in mortal fear of him if she wakened and found herself in his
power.

Bentley got Apeman down, and looked about him. No apes were close
enough, as far as he could tell, to molest Apeman before Bentley could
return with Ellen. He raced back into the tree, lifted Ellen so gently
that she scarcely altered the even motion of her breathing--and for a
moment he hesitated. So close to him were her tired lips. So
woe-begone and pathetic her appearance, a great well of pity for her
rose in the heart of Bentley--or what was the seat of this emotion
within him? Was the brain the seat of the emotions? Or the heart? But
Bentley's true heart was in Apeman's human body, so there must be some
other explanation for the feeling which grew and grew within Bentley
for Ellen.

He leaned forward with the intention of touching his lips to the tired
thin lips of Ellen Estabrook, then drew back in horror.

How could he kiss this woman whom he loved with the gross lips of
Manape, the great ape?

He could, of course, but suppose she wakened at his caress and saw the
great figure of the jungle brute, with all man's emotions and desires,
yet with none of man's restraint--bending over her? Women had gone
insane over less.

       *       *       *       *       *

He hurried down with Ellen, and placed her beside Apeman.

By now the great apes had discovered the strange trio and were coming
close to investigate. There was a huge brute who came the fastest and
seemed to be the leader of the apes, if any they had. But even this
one did not offer a challenge, did not seem perturbed in the least.
But he did seem filled with childish curiosity. The apes themselves
were like children, children grown to monstrous proportions, advancing
and retreating, staring at this trio, darting away when Apeman or
Ellen made some sort of movement.

Bentley could sense too their curiosity where he was concerned. Their
senses told them that Bentley was a great ape. Their instincts,
however, made them hesitate, uncertain as to his true "identity"--or
so Bentley imagined.

Ellen still slept, but she must have sensed the near presence of
potential enemies, for she was stirring fitfully, preparing to waken.

What would her reaction be when she opened her eyes to see Manape near
her, standing guard over Apeman, with the jungle on all sides filled
with the lurking nightmare figures of other great apes?

A moan of anguish came from Apeman. He stirred, and groans which
seemed to rack his whole white bruised body came forth. The brain of
the ape was reacting to the suffering of Bentley's body--and a brute
was whimpering with its hurts. The advancing apes came to pause. They
seemed to stare at one another in amazement. They were suddenly
frightened, amazed, unable to understand the thing they saw and were
listening to. Bentley crouched there, watching the apes, and he
fancied he could understand their sudden new hesitancy.

       *       *       *       *       *

He did not know, but he guessed that the moans and groans of Apeman
were comprehensible to the great apes. They knew that this strangely
white creature was an ape, though he looked like a man. Already they
had wondered as much as they were capable, about Manape. They had
sensed something not simian about him which puzzled them.

But from the lips of Apeman, to add to their mystification, came the
groans and moans of an ape that was suffering. Bentley held his
position, wondering what they would do. That they meant no harm he was
sure, else they would long since have charged and overborne the
three--unless they remembered the super-simian might of Manape and
were afraid to attack again. Bentley hoped so, for that would make
things easier for them all.

Now the nearest apes were almost beside the body of Apeman, which was
still covered with agony sweat. The lips emitted moans and faint blurs
of gibberish. Bentley noted that the leading ape was a great she. The
female came forward hesitantly, making strange sounds in her throat,
and it seemed to Bentley that Apeman answered them. For the she came
forward with the barest trace of hesitancy, stared for a moment at
Manape, with a sort of challenge in her savage little red eyes, then
dropped to all fours beside Apeman and began to lick his wounds!

The she knew something of the injuries of Apeman and was doing what
instinct told her to do for him. Now the rest of the apes were all
about them--and Ellen wakened with a shrill cry of terror.

Bentley remained as a man turned to stone. If he moved toward the
woman he loved she would flee from him in terror--out among the other
apes and into the jungle where she would have no slightest chance for
life. If he did nothing she might still run.

       *       *       *       *       *

Wildly she looked about her. She screamed again when she saw the she
bending over the travesty she thought to be Bentley, and licking the
poor bruised body. Ellen cast a sidelong look at Manape, and there was
something distinctly placating in her eyes. She recognized Manape, and
wanted his friendship. What thoughts crowded her brain as she realized
that she was in the center of a group of anthropoids who could have
destroyed her with their fingers in a matter of seconds!

She did the one thing which proved to Bentley that she was worthy of
any man's love. The great she who licked the wounds of Apeman was
thrice the size of Ellen. Yet Ellen crawled to Apeman, little sounds
of pity in her throat. Instantly the snarling of the she sent her
back. The she had, for the time being at least, assumed proprietorship
of Apeman, and was bidding Ellen keep her distance. And the she meant
it, too. For she bared her fighting fangs when Ellen again approached
close enough to have touched the body of Apeman.

This time the she advanced a step toward the girl, and her snarl was a
terrible sound. Ellen retreated, but no further than was necessary to
still that snarl in the throat of the she. Manape moved in quite close
now, into position to interfere if the she tried to actually injure
Ellen Estabrook. If only, Bentley thought, there were some way of
making himself known to Ellen! But how could she believe, even if a
way were discovered?

"What shall I do?" moaned Ellen aloud, wringing her hands. "Poor Lee!
I can't move him. That brute won't let me touch him. Oh, I'm afraid!"

Bentley wanted to tell her not to be afraid, but had learned from
experience that when he tried to speak his voice was the bellowing one
of a great ape. And if he were to enunciate words that Ellen could
understand, what then? English from the lips of a giant anthropoid!
She would not believe, would think herself insane--and with excellent
reason. Slowly, as matters were transpiring, she had already been
given sufficient reason to believe that her mind was tottering.

       *       *       *       *       *

Manape stood guard over her. A she had adopted the thing she thought
was Bentley. A score of great apes, which only three days ago had
tried to destroy both Bentley and herself, now surrounded Bentley and
Ellen with all the appearance of amity--crude, true, but
unmistakable. Certainly this was sufficiently beyond all human
experience to make Ellen believe she were in the throes of some awful
nightmare. What would she think if an ape began to address her in
English, and "Bentley" suddenly held speech with the great apes?

Add to this possibility, suppose she were suddenly confronted with the
truth--that the essential entities of Bentley and Manape had been
exchanged, and the whole thing were explained to her from the gross
lips of Manape himself, while "Bentley" looked on and chattered a
challenge in ape language while Manape talked?

No, at first she might have understood. Now it would have been even
more horrifying for her to hear the truth. She must think what she
would, and be allowed to adjust herself to the astounding state of
affairs. Apeman could not be moved for some time. Ellen would not
leave him, naturally. Nor would Manape. And the apes apparently
intended to remain with them. Which made the problem, after all, a
simple one. The trio must remain for the time being among the great
apes. They needed one another in a strange way, and they needed the
apes themselves, which were like a formidable army at their backs, as
protection against the other beasts of the wilds.

Bentley watched the great she continue her rude first aid for Apeman.
Apeman was still moaning, though less fitfully, like a child that
nuzzles the milk bottle, but is drifting away into sleep. The she gave
the travesty her full attention. There was something horribly human
about her maternal care of this creature before her. Her great arms
held Apeman close while her tongue caressed his wounds. Bentley knew
that that tongue was an excellent antiseptic, too. All animals licked
their own wounds, and those wounds healed. Only human beings knew the
dangers of infection, because they had departed from Nature's
doctrines and had tried to cheat her with substitutes. Only the
animals, like that great she, still were Nature's children, healing
their own wounds in Nature's way.

       *       *       *       *       *

Satisfied that the apes would not molest Ellen, so long as she kept
her distance from Apeman, Bentley decided to seek food, which Ellen
must sorely need. The need for water was urgent, too. Bentley knew the
danger of drinking water found in the jungle--but an ape could
scarcely be expected to build a fire with which to boil the water, nor
to produce a miracle in the shape of something to hold it in over the
fire.

Here were many makeshifts indicated, then. Bentley smiled inwardly,
the only way he could smile. He must feed himself, too. He must go
wandering through the woods, feeding the body of Manape with grubs,
worms and such nauseous provender, because it was the food to which
Manape was accustomed. Apeman, when he was well enough to eat, would
sicken the body of Bentley with the same sort of food, because the
brain of Apeman would not know what was good or bad for the body of a
human being--nor even would understand that his body was human. What
_did_ Apeman think of his condition, anyway?

That question, of course, would never be answered--unless Barter could
really speak the language of the great apes and somehow managed to
secure from Apeman, if Apeman lived, a recital of these hours in the
jungle.

What food should Manape secure for Ellen? What fruits were edible,
what poisonous? How could he tell? He watched the other apes, which
were scattering here and there now, tipping over rocks and sticks to
search for grubs and worms--to see what fruits they ate, if any. They
would know what fruits to avoid.

An hour passed before Bentley saw one of the brutes feed upon anything
except insects. A cluster of a peculiar fruit which looked like wild
currants, but whose real name Bentley did not know. Now, feeling safe
in his choice, because the ape was eating the berries with relish,
Bentley searched until he found a quantity of the same berries, and
bore them back to Ellen Estabrook.

       *       *       *       *       *

Beside Apeman, who now was awake and exchanging crazy gibberish with
the she who had licked his wounds, Ellen Estabrook, trying to be
brave, did not cry aloud. But her face was dirty, and her tears made
furrows through the grime.

Manape dropped the berries beside her. The she snarled as Ellen
reached for the berries. Manape flung himself forward as the she
strove to take the berries before Ellen could grasp them--and cuffed
her over backward with a cumbersome but lightning-fast right swing.

"Manape," said Ellen, "if only you could talk! I feel that you are my
friend, and my fears are less when you are with me. I'll pretend that
you can understand me. It helps a little to talk, for one scarcely
seems so much alone. How would you feel, I wonder, Manape, if you were
suddenly taken entirely out of the life you've always known, and
forced to live in another world entirely? It would not be easy to be
brave, would it? Suppose you were taken out of the wilds and dropped
into a ballroom?"

Bentley could have laughed had the jest not been such a grim one. What
would Ellen think if he were to answer her:

"I would be much more at home in that ballroom than that thing on the
ground that you love--as matters are at this moment!"

She would not understand that.

Nor did she understand when the she went away for a time and came back
with a supply of worms and grubs--which nauseous supply vanished with
great speed under the wolfish appetite of Apeman. There was little
wonder that Ellen found it difficult to orient herself.

"I must tell her somehow," thought Bentley, "and that soon. Surely
enough has been done to satisfy the devilish curiosity of Caleb
Barter."

Toward evening the apes began to drift further into the jungle. The
she gathered Apeman in her arms and moved off with him. There was
nothing for Manape to do but follow, and nothing for Ellen to do but
follow, too--if she loved the thing she thought was Bentley. She did
not hesitate.

With unfaltering courage she followed on, and the lumbering forms of
the great apes drifted further away from the sea, seemingly headed
toward some mutely agreed upon jungle rendezvous. Everything depended
for the time upon the return to health of Apeman. All other matters
depended upon that. Each in his own way, Manape and Ellen, realized
this. Caleb Barter had schemed better than he could possibly have
foreseen.


CHAPTER X

_Written in Dust_

As Apeman was borne deeper into the jungle in the great arms of the
she, what was more natural in the circumstances than that Ellen keep
close to her only remaining link with the world she had left--Manape,
the trained anthropoid of Caleb Barter? A natural thing, and one that
filled Manape with obvious pleasure.

Once she touched his hand, rested her own small one in his mighty palm
for a moment--and Bentley was afraid to return the pressure of her
palm with the hand of Manape, lest he crush every bone in her fingers.
Thereafter at intervals, while the whole aggregation drifted deeper
into the jungle, Ellen clung to Manape; depended upon him. Was it her
woman's intuition which told her that Manape was a safe guardian?

Bentley refused to dwell on that phase of this wild adventure however,
for there were other things to think about. It required many hours for
him to discover the truth, but he knew it at last. He, Manape-Bentley,
was the lord of the great apes! Before his capture, or before the
capture of Manape by Caleb Barter, Manape had been leader of these
apes. Now he had returned and was their ruler once more. Upstarts had
taken his place, and he had slain them--back there when Apeman had
tried to escape into the jungle with Ellen in his arms. To the apes
this must have seemed the way it was.

Bentley was putting things together, hoping and believing that they
made four--yet not sure but that he was forcing them to equal four
when in actuality they were five or six. If Manape--the original ape
of Barter's capture, whose body now was Bentley's--had been the leader
of the great apes, that explained why the animals remained constantly
in the vicinity of Barter's dwelling. Barter had needed them in his
plans, and had made certain their remaining near by making their
leader captive. And of course only an ape sufficiently intelligent to
rule other apes would have suited the evil scheme which must have been
growing for years in the mind of Caleb Barter. Barter had merely
waited with philosophic calmness for human beings to drift into this
territory--and the _Bengal Queen_ had obligingly gone down off the
coast, throwing Ellen Estabrook and Lee Bentley into Barter's power.

       *       *       *       *       *

What was Barter doing now? Would he not be striving to watch the
course of his experiment? Would he not think of details hitherto
overlooked and plan further experiments, or an enlarging of this
experiment of which three creatures were the victims? Surely Barter
would not remain quietly at Barterville while the subjects of his
experiment went deeper into the jungle with the great apes. Barter was
too thorough a scientist for that. Somehow, Bentley was sure, Barter
would know what was happening, even at this very moment.

He would wish to know how a modern woman would conduct herself if
suddenly forced to live among apes. Therefore he would try in some
manner to keep watch over the conduct of Ellen Estabrook. He would
wonder how a modern man would conduct himself if he suddenly found,
himself the leader of that same group of apes, and how an ape would
behave if he suddenly discovered himself a man. It was a neat
"experiment," and Bentley was beginning to believe that there was
probably far more to it than there first had seemed.

Barter would wish to know how all three creatures would conduct
themselves in certain circumstances--Apeman, Ellen and Bentley. He
would not leave it to chance, for Bentley now realized that Barter
himself did not feel inimical to either Ellen, Apeman or Bentley. To
him they were merely an experiment. Barter would not wish for Apeman
to die, and thus deprive Barter of a certain knowledge relative to one
angle of his unholy experiment. He would not wish for Manape-Bentley
to remain forever as Manape-Bentley, lacking the power of speech,
either human speech or the gibberish of the apes.

No, all this was not being left to chance. Bentley believed that
Barter was directing the destination of these three subjects of his,
as surely as though he were right with them at this moment, driving
them to his will with that awful lash which had made him feared by the
great apes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Yes, Barter was still the master mind. It made Bentley feel awfully
helpless. Yet--he was the leader of the great apes. That, too, Barter
must have foreseen. Would Barter try in any way to discover how
Bentley would behave in an emergency as leader of the apes? Would he
wish to know sufficiently to create an emergency? From Bentley's
knowledge of the twisted genius of Caleb Barter, he fully believed
that Barter planned yet other angles to his experiment.

If he did, then what would he do next?

It was not until the storm broke over the strange aggregation of great
apes, who seemed to be holding two white people prisoners, that
Bentley understood that from the very beginning he should have been
able to see the obvious denouement--the mad climax which even then was
preparing in the jungle ahead, simply waiting for the great apes to
drift, feeding as they went without a thought of danger, into the trap
set for them.

Ellen now kept her hand in the great palm of Manape. She wept on
occasions, when she thought of the apparent hopelessness of her
position, but for the most part she was brave, and Bentley grew to
love her more as the hours passed--even as he grew more impatient at
his inability to express his love. If he tried he could simply
frighten her--fill her with horror because, gentle though he was with
her and he was a great ape, a fact which nothing could change. Nor
could anybody change the fact, except Caleb Barter. Where was the
scientist? What would be his next move if he were not leaving the
working out of his experiment entirely to chance, which seemed not at
all in keeping with the thorough manner of his experiment thus far.

The future was a dark, painful obscurity, in which all things were
hidden, in which anything might happen--because Caleb Barter would
wish for it to happen.

       *       *       *       *       *

How long would Barter wait before making his next move? Long enough
for Ellen to accustom herself to life among the apes? Long enough to
discover whether her natural intelligence would guide her to eke out
existence among hardships such as human beings never thought of,
except perhaps in nightmares? Long enough to allow the brain of
Bentley to discover what miracles intellect might do with the body of
Manape? Long enough for Apeman to be well of his illness, so that he
might observe what havoc an ape's brain might work with a human body?

Certainly when one gave the hideous experiment full thought, its
possible angles of development, its many potential ramifications, were
astounding in the extreme. Was it not up to Bentley then to do
something besides mope and pine for the impossible, and thus hasten
the hour when Barter should be wholly satisfied with his experiment?

What would Apeman do, how would he behave, when the white body of
Bentley was well again? Would that body grow well faster when guided
by an ape's brain than when a human brain was in command? Certainly
Caleb Barter must have listed all these questions and hundreds of
others which had not as yet occurred to Bentley. If he had he would
not transfer the two intelligences back to their proper places until
all of his questions were answered to his satisfaction. Bentley
himself must somehow force an answer to some of them.

To do this he must try to guess what sort of questions Barter would
have listed, and try to work out their answers--assuming all the time
that Barter, from some undiscovered coign of vantage would be watching
for the answers he hoped his experiment would provide.

Bentley arrived at a decision. Ellen must long since have become
numbed to the horror which encompassed her. Bentley knew that a human
brain could stand only so much, beyond which it was no longer
surprised or horrified. He guessed, noting the pale face of his
beloved, that Ellen had well nigh reached that stage.

He decided to take a tremendous risk with her sanity, hoping thereby
to do his part in working out the details of Barter's experiment.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sun was creeping into the west when the roving apes came to pause
in a sort of clearing. Some of them curled up in sleep. The she who
carried Apeman squatted with Apeman in her arms, and licked his wounds
again.

That Apeman was recovering was plainly evident, and when he saw it
filled Bentley with an odd mixture of thankfulness and revulsion.
Apeman was essentially an ape. With all his strength back he would
revert to type, and what if he forced the body of Bentley to do
horrible things that Ellen would never be able to forget or
condone--even when she at last knew the truth? What if Apeman
selected, for example, a mate--from among the hairy she's? For Apeman
that would be natural, for Bentley horrible.

Yet it might easily transpire. Apeman might relinquish the white she
to a successful rival--which he would regard Manape as being--and
content himself with a choice from the ape she's. Somehow that unholy
thing must not happen. That was up to Manape-Bentley.

Or, with his strength fully returned, Apeman might again desire Ellen,
and force the issue with Manape for her possession--which seemed
equally horrible to the brain of Bentley.

Ellen remained as close to Apeman as the she would permit her.
Manape-Bentley crouched close by. After a time Apeman slept, and
Bentley was pleased to notice that the agony sweat no longer beaded
Apeman's body, and that Apeman was recovering with superhuman
swiftness--thanks to the ministrations of the unnamed she who had
taken charge of him. Apeman now rarely groaned, sleeping or waking.

Ellen watched the sleeping Apeman with her heart--and her fears--in
her eyes. Satisfied that he slept, and that his sleep was healthy,
Ellen again approached the creature she knew as Manape, Barter's
trained ape.

"If only you could talk," she said to him. "If only you were able to
give some hope. If only there were some way I could cause you to
understand my wishes--understand and help me."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bentley did not answer. He knew that to be useless. But his brain
remembered something. His brain recalled that moment in the cage in
the dwelling of Barter, when his human brain had tried to force
obedience from the great clumsy hands of Manape, when he had tried to
force those mighty fingers to unfasten the knots which held the cage
door secure.

Could he force those hands to something else?

Did he dare try?

It was a terrible risk to take with Ellen's sanity, but Bentley felt
it must be taken. She was watching him hopelessly, and her lips moved
as though she prayed for a miracle--as though by some weird necromancy
she might force Manape to understand her words, and to answer her,
allaying her fears, destroying her hopelessness.

When Ellen watched him, Bentley searched about nearby until he found a
dried stick perhaps eight feet in length. He held it up, sniffed at
it, fumbled it with his heavy, grotesque fingers. He focussed the
attention of Ellen upon that stick, while his excitement mounted and
mounted, and his fear of possible consequences kept pace with his
excitement.

Then, his decision reached, he began again that species of hypnosis
which seemed necessary to compel the hands and fingers of Manape to do
things no ape's hands had ever done before, no ape's brain had ever
thought of doing.

He pressed one end of the stick against the ground at his sprawling
feet. With his left palm he smoothed out an area of dust several feet
in either direction--a rough dusty rectangle.

Interested, her brows puckered in concentration. Ellen watched as
Manape went through these gestures which were so strangely, terribly
human.

Her eyes were watching the end of that twig which the trained ape was
so clumsily clutching in both hands.

She saw the marks the twig made in the dust as Manape caused it to
move--slowly, horribly, fearfully, from left to right across the area
of dust.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fear began to grow in her face, but Bentley forced himself on. Again
the fetid odor of ape sweat covered him. This awful concentration,
this awful task of forcing Manape to write English words was in itself
a miracle, more miraculous even than Ellen would have thought of
praying for.

Her eyes were glued to the sprawling, uneven, misshapen marks in the
dust with hypnotic fascination. Bentley dared not look at her, because
it required all his will to force the clumsy hands of Manape to his
bidding.

He could only watch the marks in the dust, and will with all the power
of his human intelligence that the hands of Manape make their shape
sufficiently plain that Ellen might read them--and hope besides that
this terrible thing would not send the sorely harassed girl into the
jungle, madly shrieking for deliverance from a nightmare.

There, the words were written--and Ellen was staring at them, her eyes
wide and unblinking, her body as rigid as stone, and her face as cold.
Only three words were possible without an interval of rest, but those
three words, among all Bentley might have selected, were the most to
the point, the most unbelievable, the most black-magical.

_"I am Lee!"_

Minutes went into eternity as Ellen stared at the words. Silence that
it seemed would never be broken hang over the clearing. The bickering
of the apes passed unnoticed as Ellen stared. Then, slowly, she tried
to raise her eyes to meet those of Manape.

She failed. Her body went limp and she slid forward on her face in the
dust. Manape-Bentley gently turned her on her side and waited. What
would he see in her beloved eyes when she regained consciousness?


CHAPTER XI

_Barter Acts_

Bentley remained motionless, awaiting Ellen's return to consciousness.
He waited in fear and trembling. How would she react to the horrible
thing he had told her?

Now there was possibility of converse between them. If she knew and
realized the meaning of his revelation. But would her mind stand up
under the awfulness of it? He had thought so, else he would not have
taken the chance he had taken. Much now depended upon Ellen, and all
he could do was wait.

Slowly she began to move. Moans escaped her lips, little pathetic
moans, and the name of Lee Bentley.

At last her eyes opened, and widened with horror when they met those
of Manape. Bentley knew that there were tears on the face of
Bentley-Manape. Manape, it seemed, cried easily, like a child.

Her eyes still wide with horror. Ellen Estabrook slowly turned them
until she gazed at the dust rectangle in which presumably a great ape
had written words in English. But Bentley-Manape had rubbed out the
words. She turned and looked at Manape again, and her lips writhed and
twisted. She was seeking for words, shaping words, to ask questions
such as none in all the world's history had ever asked of a giant
anthropoid, with any hope of receiving answers.

"You tell me you are Lee," she began slowly, hesitantly, as though the
words were literally forced from her against her will. "I cannot grasp
the meaning of that. You say you are Lee, yet I recognize you as
Manape, Caleb Barter's great ape. Yet Manape could not have written
those words. Yet, if you are Lee Bentley, who or what is that?"

       *       *       *       *       *

She turned and pointed a trembling finger at Apeman. Bentley of course
could not answer her in words, yet his mind was busy conceiving of
some way in which he might answer her. She turned back to him after a
long look at Apeman and studied him. His huge barrel chest, the mighty
arms, the receding forehead--the outward seeming of a giant ape.

Again that hesitant, horribly difficult task, of forcing the arms of
Manape to perform actions which were not natural to the arms of a
great ape. Bentley managed to raise the right arm in the gesture of
pointing.

He pointed at the other apes, some of which slept, some of which ate
of grubs and worms, or bickered savagely among themselves over
whatever childish trifles seemed important to the ape mind.

"You mean," said Ellen huskily, "that Lee Bentley there is really an
ape?"

Manape nodded, ponderously.

Ellen's face became animated. She was beginning to understand how to
hold speech with Manape.

"You tell me he is a great ape, yet he has the body of Lee Bentley.
You tell me you are Bentley, yet I see you as Manape. Caleb Barter's
trained ape. How am I to understand? Are my eyes betraying me, or is
this a nightmare from which I shall waken presently? I see the shape
of Manape, who writes in the dust that he is Lee. How can I know? None
of you I can see is Lee Bentley. What part of you that I cannot see is
Lee?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Again the effort of forcing the hands of Manape to obedience.

Manape-Bentley tapped his receding forehead with his knuckles, and a
gasp burst from the lips of Ellen Estabrook.

"You mean your brain is Bentley's brain, and that Bentley's body holds
the brain of a great ape?"

Manape nodded clumsily.

"But how? You mean--Caleb Barter? I remember about him now. A master
surgeon, an expert on anesthesia--a thousand years ahead of his time.
You mean then that we three are part of an experiment? You, Manape,
have the brain of Bentley, and Bentley has the brain of a great ape?"

Bentley nodded.

The face of Ellen Estabrook writhed and twisted. Her eyes studied the
person of Manape the great ape. She could not believe the thing she
had been told, yet she was thinking back and back--back to when Apeman
had carried her away, his subsequent behavior, his behavior in the
house of Barter, and his interest in the she ape who had licked his
wounds.

She remembered how Manape in the beginning had looked at her with the
eyes of a lustful man--and how later all his attitude had been
protective. There seemed evidence in plenty to support the statement
Manape had mutely managed to give her. She was forced to believe.

"But, Lee,"--she came closer to Manape as she spoke--"we must do
something for that creature there--that thing with the ape she which
looks like the man I love. You've heard me say that I love Lee
Bentley?"

Manape nodded.

"Does Lee Bentley love me?"

Again Manape nodded, more vehemently this time. Ellen smiled. Then,
quickly, she came to Manape, thrust her fingers against his skull and
examined it closely. Her brows were furrowed in concentration. She
left Manape and strode to Apeman. The she growled at her but she
ignored the beast as much as possible, though plainly cognizant of the
fact that she dared not touch her hands to Apeman on pain of being
torn asunder by the fighting fangs of the ape she.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then Ellen came back.

"The evidence is there, Lee," she said. "There are the marks of a
surgeon's instruments. Marvelous. One is almost inclined to forget the
horror of it in the realization that a miracle has been performed. The
operation was perfect. But what did he use for anesthesia? How did
Barter manage to complete his operation and cause his two patients to
feel no-ill effects, to be to all intents and purposes well in mind
and body--all within less than twelve hours? However, that does not
matter now. Something must be done. Since Caleb Barter was the only
man who could perform this unholy operation, he is the only one who
could repeat it restoring each of you to your proper earthly
casements. So we must play in with him. I suppose you've long since
decided that way, Lee?"

How strange it seemed to Ellen to discuss such matters with Manape.
But behind his brutish exterior was the brain of the man whom she
loved.

"And there is one other thing," Ellen almost whispered, and her face
flushed rosily. "No harm must come to the body of Lee, you understand?
He must never be permitted to do anything of which Lee Bentley of
after years may have cause to feel ashamed."

Manape nodded. He understood her, and despite the grotesquerie of the
whole thing there was something intimate and sweet about this
interchange. A man and woman loved. Just now that love was mentioned
more or less in the abstract, discussed on purely a mental basis--but
both Bentley and Ellen Estabrook were thinking of the future, and were
as frank with each other as they perhaps ever would be again.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the apes were beginning to stir themselves. It was time to be on
the move again. Eyes were turned toward Manape, who was plainly
intended to lead them further into the jungle. Ellen and the white
body of Bentley were already being accepted as a matter of course.

If the great apes wondered why their returned lord did not jabber with
them in the gibberish of the great apes, there was no way of telling,
for there was no way in which Manape could make himself understood,
nor any way the great apes could tell their thoughts to Manape.

Then, without warning, the blow fell.

The storm broke, and even as the uproar started Bentley was sure that
he could sense behind it the fine hand of Caleb Barter--still working
out his "experiment," with human beings and apes as the pawns.

The apes were on the move, entering a series of aisles through the
gloomy woods when the blow fell--in the shape of scores of nets, in
whose folds within a matter of seconds the great apes were fighting
and snarling helplessly. They expended their mighty strength to no
avail. They fought at ropes and thongs which they did not
understand--and only Manape made no effort to fight, knowing it
useless.

Scores of black folk armed with spears danced and yelled in the brush,
frankly delighted at the success of their grand coup. Barter was
nowhere to be seen, and there was a possibility that he knew nothing
about this. Yet Bentley knew better. Perhaps, in order to stimulate
the blacks, he had offered them money for great apes taken alive.
Anyhow, scores of the apes were taken, and now exhausted themselves in
savage bellowing and snarling, as they fought for freedom.

A half dozen to each net, the blacks gathered in their captives. They
made much over Ellen Estabrook. They pawed over Apeman despite his
snarls and bellowings, and laughed when Apeman played the ape as
though to the manner born. They scented some mystery here, a white man
raised by the apes, perhaps. But that Ellen and Apeman were prisoners
of blacks, Bentley could plainly understand. He scarcely knew which
was the more horrible for her--to be prisoner of the apes or the
blacks.

But for the moment there was nothing he could do. And the blacks were
not torturing either Apeman or Ellen, though there was no mistaking
what he saw in the faces of the blacks when they looked at Ellen and
grinned at one another.

Darkness had fallen over the world when the blacks went shouting into
a village of mud-wattled huts, bearing the trophies of their ape hunt.
Still in their nets for safety's sake, the great apes were thrown into
a sort of stockade which had plainly just been built for their
reception--proof to Bentley that this decision to make an attack
against the passing band of anthropoids had been a sudden one. What
did that indicate?

Someone had caused the blacks to react in a way that never would have
occurred to them ordinarily.

Caleb Barter?

Bentley thought so. What now was Bentley supposed to do? What did
Barter expect him to do? What did Barter expect Ellen to do? What did
he expect Apeman to do?

There was no question, as Bentley saw it, but that Caleb Barter still
pulled the strings, and that before morning this jungle village was to
witness a horror it should never forget.

But at the moment Bentley had but one thought: to escape quietly with
Ellen and Apeman, and return to the dwelling of Caleb Barter.


CHAPTER XII

_Jungle Justice_

Again that grim concentration on the part of Bentley, forcing the
unaccustomed great hands of Manape to perform things they had never
done before. He must release himself from the rope net which held him.
For the hands of a human being the task would have been easy. For the
hands of Manape, even though guided by the will of Bentley, the task
was far from easy.

But he persevered.

An hour after the apes had been dumped in the stockade, Bentley had
released himself from the rope net and was resting after the awful
ordeal of forcing the hands of Manape to do his bidding. He pressed
himself against the uprights of the stockade, and carefully tested
them with his strength. The strength of Bentley would never have
availed against the stout uprights of the stockade. Yet Manape-Bentley
knew that with the arms of Manape he could tear the uprights out of
the ground as easily as though they had been match-sticks. What should
he do now?

His first impulse of course was to release the rest of the great apes.
The brutes still fought at their bindings and were utterly insane with
rage. What would they do when they were released? What was his duty
where they were concerned? If they went wild through the native
village, slaying and laying waste, would Bentley be responsible for
loss of life? If he left the apes in the hands of the natives, what
then? He would never afterward forgive himself. He knew them as
children of the wilds, carefree and happy brutes of the jungle. Now if
held captives indefinitely they would either die or spend the rest of
their lives in cages.

No, he would release the animals, one by one. The natives would have
to take their chances.

       *       *       *       *       *

A white figure loomed out of the darkness, coming from the direction
of a great bonfire which showed all the jungle surrounding in weird,
crimson relief. The white figure, all but nude, was Apeman! Following
him were several natives, who laughed and prodded Apeman with the
butts of their spears.

Bentley understood that. They thought Apeman a demented white man,
and to these natives a demented one was a butt of jokes. They did not
even suspect the horror of the possible revenge that was growing in
the brain of the ape which controlled the body of Apeman.

Twice or thrice Apeman tried to dart into the jungle, but always the
blacks prevented, heading him toward the cage where the apes were held
prisoners. Bentley wondered where Ellen was and what was happening to
her.

A celebration of some sort seemed going forward in the village. Was
Caleb Barter somewhere near, perhaps on the edge of the jungle,
grinning gleefully at this thing he had brought about as part of his
unholy experiment? There was no way of knowing of course, yet.

But....

Apeman reached the side of the stockade and snarled back at his
annoyers, while his white hands grasped the uprights and tore at them
with futile savagery. A strange situation. Inside the stockade a score
of brutes who could rip the stockade to bits. Outside, one of them
free, but hampered by the puny strength of a human being.

The blacks shouted to Apeman but of course Bentley could not
understand what they said. Apeman turned after snarling at them for a
few moments, and began to chatter in that gibberish which appeared to
be Apeman's only mode of speech--ape language on the lips of a man!
This was the only time it had ever happened.

The apes stirred fitfully as Apeman chattered, and began to renew
their attacks on their bonds. The blacks, after watching Apeman for a
few moments turned back toward the bonfire, evidently satisfied that
this strange demented creature would not run away. Apeman chattered
and the apes made answer.

The she who had nursed Apeman managed to reach the side of the
stockade, and for several moments Bentley listened to the horrible
grotesqueries--an ape she and a man talking together in brutish
gibberish, and with hellish intimacy.

Now, wondering just how matters would work themselves out, Bentley set
himself the task of releasing the apes. They would at least create a
furor in the village, during which Bentley could escape into the
jungle with Apeman and Ellen Estabrook before the natives could
reorganise themselves and give chase.

His plan was hazy, and he figured without the savagery of Apeman who
occupied that white body which had been Bentley's. His one thought was
to free the apes, set them upon the village, and escape with Apeman
and Ellen. Just that and no more; but he did not know the great apes,
nor how thoroughly they followed the lead of their lord whom they knew
as Manape, though how he was named in their brains he was never to
know.

One by one he released the apes. They seemed to sense the necessity
for stealth, for they began to ape the cautious behavior of Manape.
Apeman, outside, seemed to be advising them, telling them what to do.

       *       *       *       *       *

One by one as Manape released them, the apes squatted side by side,
their red angry little eyes watching his every move. Bentley knew of
course what a fearful racket his own appearance would cause when he
strode out of the gloom among the blacks, seeking Ellen. But he knew
that surprise for a few precious moments would render the blacks
incapable of stopping him until he got away. At least he hoped so.

Beyond that he had no other plan. All depended upon the behavior of
the apes and the reaction of the blacks who were holding a devil's
dance about the mighty fire in the center of their village. Bentley
did not even yet dare guess what the apes would do when they saw what
Manape-Bentley did. Would they follow him? Or would they race for the
jungle to escape?

A few minutes now would tell the tale. He had released the last of the
great apes, who now lined the side of the stockade, apparently holding
angry converse with Apeman. Bentley was reminded of the old fashioned
mob of pioneer days--angrily muttering yet lacking a leader to direct
their efforts. Well, he had done his duty as he saw it. From now on
things must take their course.

But Bentley waited, watching the dancing figures about the fire. As
far as he could tell the dance was approaching some sort of a climax.
The figures leaped higher as they danced, and the noise of their
shouting raced and rolled across the jungle. They appeared to be drunk
with some sort of excitement, perhaps helped by native liquor, perhaps
because of superstitious frenzy.

If he waited for their excitement to die down a bit, for some of them
to go to sleep, his chances of releasing Ellen would be better. It
would not be hard for him to find her--not with Manape's sensitive
nose to lead him to her.

       *       *       *       *       *

But time passed and the apes, though apparently being urged to
something by Apeman, watching Manape sullenly, apparently waiting for
him to make some move.

Then, sharp as a knife, cutting through the other noises of the
village, came Ellen's voice.

"Help, Lee! Help me!"

The scream was broken short off as though a hand had clutched the
girl's throat, but Bentley waited for no more--and Manape-Bentley flew
into action. His great hands went to the uprights of the stockade.
His mighty shoulders heaved and twisted and the uprights were ripped
apart.

The apes followed his lead, and the cracking of the stockade's
uprights was like a volley of pistol shots. The great brutes fairly
walked through the green saplings which formed the prison. Manape was
leading the charge, and the apes, once through, did not hesitate. If
their leader charged the blacks they would follow--and did, while
among them danced, cavorted and gibbered the travesty, Apeman.

He was Bentley's lieutenant, and Bentley-Manape was the lord of the
apes. Just now he forgot that he was more ape than man. Just now he
was happy that his strength was the strength of many men. He was
hurrying to the assistance of the woman he loved.

Behind him came the great apes, following like an army of poorly
trained recruits, yet armed as no army has ever been armed since the
days when men fought with fist and fang against their enemies. Bentley
lumbered swiftly toward the sound of Ellen's voice, aided in his
journey by the odor of her which came to his sensitive ape's nostrils.

       *       *       *       *       *

The blacks never saw the approach of the apes, until, led by Manape
the Mighty, the great apes were right among them. Bentley did not
pause. A black man saw him and shrieked aloud in terror, a shriek
which seemed to freeze the other blacks in all sorts of postures.
Sitting men remained where they sat, and some of the motionless ones
saved their lives by their immobility. Dancers paused in midstride,
and those who did not, died.

For the hands of the great apes clutched at everything that moved, and
the great shoulders bulged, and the mighty muscles cracked, and men
were torn asunder as though they had been flies in the hands of
vengeful boys.

The black who had shrieked hurled a spear, purely a reflex,
perhaps--an action born of its habitual use. It missed Bentley by a
narrow margin, but passed through the stomach of the she who had
nursed Apeman. Snarling, snapping at the thing which hurt her, the she
tore the weapon free--then waddled forward swiftly, caught the man who
had hurled the spear, and tore his head off with a single twisting
movement of her great hands.

Next moment her blood was mingling with that of her slayer as she fell
above him. But her hands, in the convulsions of death, still ripped
and tore, and the black whom she held was a ghastly thing when the she
was finally dead. Bentley did not see the ghastly end of the spearman,
for he was seeking Ellen, and at the some time keeping a close watch
on Apeman.

Apeman seemed to be urging the apes to the attack, bidding them rip
and tear and gnash, and the apes were doing that, making of the
village a crimson shambles. But they did it in passing, for Manape was
their leader, and him they followed--and he was seeking Ellen
Estabrook.

       *       *       *       *       *

The door of the hut in which his nostrils told him she would be found,
gave before his mighty chest as though it had been made of paper.
Inside, in the glow of the native lamp, a huge black man cowered
against the further wall of the hut, with spear poised.

But the black man seemed frozen with terror.

"Lee! Lee!"

Bentley essayed one glance at her. In the other corner she was, with
the upper part of her clothing almost torn from her body.

Then the spearman hurled his weapon. Bentley strove to force the huge
bulk of Manape's body to dodge the spear; but that body was slow in
doing so--and took a mortal wound!

But it was a wound that would mean slow death. An aching, terrible
wound. Then Manape-Bentley had grasped the body of the black, lifted
it high above his head, and crashed it to the hard packed floor of the
hut. The hut fairly shook with the thud of that fall. At once Manape
stooped, caught the black by the ankles and pulled in opposite
direction with all his terrific might.

Then he whirled, masking what he had done from Ellen's sight with his
huge, sorely wounded body.

He tried to send her a message with his eyes, but it was not
necessary. She knew Manape, Barter's trained ape. She followed close
at his heels. Outside the hut's door Apeman still urged the apes to
destruction of men and property, of women and children. The village of
the blacks had become a place of horror.

"Hurry, Lee!" gasped Ellen. "You've been grievously wounded, and if
Manape dies, nothing can save _you_--and I shall not care to live!"

But Bentley knew. His brain could sense the approach of death, and
what he now must do was very plain.

He charged at Apeman and caught the struggling, snarling travesty up
in his mighty arms. Then, with Ellen at his heels, he leaped into the
jungle and began the race for the house of Caleb Barter.

       *       *       *       *       *

Life was going from him, yet his brain forced onward the body of
Manape. Behind came the great apes, following their leader. Now and
again they screamed and snarled at him, but he paid them no heed. They
could follow or leave him, as they chose. They chose to follow.

Apeman fought and bit at Bentley, but he paid him as little heed as
though he had been nothing at all. Now and again when Ellen faltered
Bentley caught her up, too, and carried her with Apeman until Ellen
was rested enough to go on.

Some of the apes appeared to realize whither they were going, for they
took to the trees and vanished onward. With Apeman alone, Bentley
himself would have taken to the trees as the swiftest way back to
Barter's dwelling. But Ellen could not race along the upper terraces,
and Bentley could not carry both Apeman and Ellen and leave the
ground. But he could travel swiftly on his race with death, with Ellen
as the prize if he won.

The hours passed, and the strength of Manape decreased; but fiercely
the brain of Bentley drove the mighty body on. Ellen sobbed with
weariness but continued on, and no words were spoken. There was no
time for words. Now and again Bentley forced Apeman to walk, and
dragged him forward with a hand clutching his wrist. At such times
Bentley carried Ellen, and scarcely slackened his stride under her
weight.

       *       *       *       *       *

Once he tried to force Apeman to carry her, but the arms of Apeman
were not equal to the task for more than fifty yards or so, and he
gave that up as being impracticable. His brain raced, thinking up ways
to travel faster, to reach Barter's quarters before the mighty body of
Manape should die, and with it the brain of Bentley.

Surely no stranger cavalcade ever before traversed the jungles of the
Black Continent.

So they came at last to the clearing. The apes protested and remained
in hiding, while Bentley, never pausing, raced across toward the house
he would never forget.

The body of Manape was almost through, for it staggered like a
drunken man. Blood covered the mighty chest, and the brain of Bentley
felt hazy; nothing made sense; and the end was very near.

But they reached the door of Barter's dwelling, and Barter himself met
them, bearing his cruel whip in his hand. Ellen roused herself from
her extreme exhaustion and clutched at the scientist's hand.

"Professor Barter!" she begged. "Please, please! Manape is almost
dead! Hurry! Hurry, for the love of God!"

"There, there, my dear young lady," said Barter soothingly. "Make
yourself easy. There's no cause for worry."

Manape-Bentley toppled forward on the floor of the cabin. Ellen
screamed and Barter comforted her. Apeman tried to escape to the
jungle, but the lash of Barter drove him cowering and whimpering to a
corner.

Then, oblivion--save that somewhere was the odor of violets. Or did
violets possess odor? Then, if not, the odor of flowers he thought
were violets.


CHAPTER XIII

_The Horror Passes_

Slowly consciousness returned to Bentley, and his first thought was
one of horror. From somewhere distinct came a doleful wailing sound.
He thought he knew what it was--the mourning of great apes over a
member that had died.

He had read somewhere that the great apes sorrowed when any of their
members died. Bentley opened his eyes. He could make out the ceiling
of a room that he recognized. It was the room that had been first
assigned him in the dwelling of Barter.

Ellen Estabrook would be somewhere nearby. He opened his lips to call
to her. Then he remembered. He'd tried to call to her before--and had
merely bellowed like an ape. No, there was something he must know
first.

His arms and hands seemed as heavy as lead, but he lifted them and
looked at them--and a great feeling of peace descended upon him.
Manape-Bentley was gone, and he was plain Lee Bentley again. There was
his own ring, which Apeman had worn, and besides he had just spoken
aloud, softly, for no ears save his own, and the voice had been Lee
Bentley's voice.

Yes, Barter had kept his promise, and Lee Bentley was Lee Bentley
again.

But he was very weak, and his body was racked with pain. His hands and
arms were covered with bandages. His body seemed packed in concrete,
so moveless was it, and when he raised his voice it was terribly weak.

"Ellen," he managed to call; and again, "Ellen, darling!"

Instantly there came a swift patter of feet and Ellen was beside his
bed, on her knees, covering his face--what there was of it
unbandaged--with kisses. There was really no need for words between
these two.

"Lee," she whispered, "I've been so afraid. You've been like this for
a week, despite the miraculous knowledge and skill of Professor
Barter. I've waited in fear and trembling, praying for you to live,
and now you are Lee again, and will live on. Professor Barter has
promised me. All you need now is food, and care, and I shall shower
you with both. Barter has instructed me so carefully that I could
manage even to care for you, sick as you are, without him here at
all."

"And Manape?" Bentley's voice seemed to be stronger.

"He is dead," whispered Ellen. "I shall never forget him. There was
something great, something even better than human about him, Lee! Oh,
I know that he was you--but where would all three of us have been had
it not been for the powerful body of Manape, the great ape? Manape is
dead, and in the jungle hereabouts the great apes mourn his passing.
They've been wailing almost like human beings for a week.
Manape--well, Professor Barter told me that you too would have died,
had Manape reached his door five minutes later. As it was, he, and
you, were just in time!"

"It's amazing," whispered Bentley, "that the great apes stay around
here now that Manape is dead."

"Yes. It's strange--and terrible I think. There have been times when I
felt they were waiting for something, for Professor Barter, perhaps.
I've had the feeling they believe he killed their leader."

Now the two became silent, and Ellen held the bruised and broken hands
of Bentley in both her own, and their eyes said things, one to the
other, which eyes say so much better than lips do. They kissed each
other softly, and Ellen crooned with ecstasy, her cheek against
Bentley's.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then Caleb Barter entered.

"Well, well," he said, "when a man is in condition to make love to a
woman, he is well on the road to recovery. It won't hurt you to talk
now, Bentley, and before I begin asking questions, let me assure you
that you will suffer no ill effects from your experience."

"What of my memories?" asked Bentley softly.

"Forget them!" snapped Barter tartly. "That is, after you have told me
everything that has happened. Miss Estabrook has already told me her
angle of the experiment. Now, talk please--and then I shall make you
well, and you shall both go into the world with me, and tell people
that what I have to tell is true!"

So Bentley talked. Barter wrote like a man possessed. His fingers
raced over the paper, repeating the words which fell from the lips of
Lee Bentley, beside whom Ellen sat, holding his hands. Now and again
Barter uttered an ejaculation of fierce joy. He was like a child with
a toy that pleased him beyond words. He could scarcely wait for the
words to spill from the lips of Lee Bentley.

When Bentley paused for breath, Barter exclaimed impatiently, and
urged him to greater speed. He thought of but one thing, his
experiment.

And so at last Bentley had finished.

"That's all, Professor Barter!" he said softly.

"All!" cried Barter. "Everything! Fame! Wealth! Adulation! There is
nothing in the world Caleb Barter may not have when this story is
told! I can scarcely contain myself. You must hurry to be well in
order that the world may be told at once."

Laughing immoderately, Barter piled the manuscript he had written, and
weighted it with a piece of rock. His face was a constant grin. His
fingers trembled with eagerness. He could not contain himself.

Finally, as though from sheer joy of what he had accomplished, he
raced from the cabin, and out across the clearing. Ellen and Bentley
smiled at each other. Moments passed. Still came to their ears the
mourning wails of the great apes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then suddenly there broke a sound so utterly appalling that the two
were frozen with terror for a moment. First it was the laughter of
Caleb Barter. Then, mingled with the laughter, the bellowing,
frightful and paralyzing, of man apes challenging a hated enemy. The
drumming of ape fists on huge barrel chests. Then the laughter of
Barter, dying away, ironic, terrible, into silence. Immediately
afterward, high-pitched, mighty as the jungle itself, the concerted
cries of half a dozen apes, as if bellowing their joy of the kill.

"They--they--" began Ellen in a choked voice. "The apes must have got
Professor Barter!"

Silently Bentley nodded, and pointed.

Coiled on a nail near the door was Barter's whip. In his excitement he
had gone into the jungle without it for the first--and last--time.

"There is one thing to do," whispered Ellen, "before we prepare to get
you fully well. I shall care for you, and we shall both try to forget.
And then we shall return to our own people."

"And the one thing?" asked Bentley.

The strained silence was suddenly broken by the bellowing of the great
apes, which now charged into the cabin. Bentley and Ellen cringed back
from the murderous brutes to no avail. There was no denying them.
Their slavering jaws, drooled below flaring nostrils, their eyes
emitted sparks of animal fury. Bentley leaped to the girl and
interposed his body between hers and the vanguard of the apes, who now
were surging into the room through the open door, and spreading apart
within like water released from a dam.

The apes were bent on murder, there could be no doubt.

A very monster towered over Bentley. His jaws were wide, his little
red eyes fixed on the white man's neck. His great arms were coming
forward to gather in both Ellen and Bentley--whom he could crush as
easily as he crushed the grubs which were his food.

Bentley was helpless and knew it. This was the end for Ellen and
himself. He must meet it unafraid. He tensed, awaiting the descent of
bestial destruction. His eyes met the murderous gleam in the eyes of
the ape leader unflinchingly. And then the miracle happened.

The brute became suddenly and inexplicably hesitant. His bellow died
away to a gurgling murmur in which there seemed somehow a hint of
apology. The fire went out of his eyes. His jaws closed with a snap.
His great arms, already about Bentley, slid harmlessly over Bentley's
shoulders; dropped to his shaggy side.

The brute's little eyes looked long and in puzzled fashion into the
eyes of Bentley. Then he began to chatter, and in a moment the other
apes ambled grotesquely toward the door and out. Ellen and Bentley
were alone together once more, unharmed--though numbed by realization
of the near passing of disaster.

"I don't understand it," muttered Bentley, brushing the beads of
perspiration from his brow. "It was a miracle!"

"Lee," Ellen answered, "I think I know, and it _is_ a sort of miracle.
Somehow the apes felt that you were--whatever your guise--Manape. They
did not recognize you by any of their means of recognition; yet that
beast knew! How? Only God Himself might answer. But the beasts knew,
and did not slay us. The inner voice which whispers inside us in times
of crises, whispers also to the great apes! Barter, then must have
understood their somehow spiritual kinship with us. His experiments--"

Her words reminded Bentley of what she had been saying when the great
apes had charged in upon them, murder bent. He interrupted her,
gently.

"And the one thing we must do?" he rallied her.

Ellen rose, and her face was white and strained as she gathered
together Barter's manuscript. This she carried to the fireplace. She
applied a match and returned to Bentley's bedside. Then, side by side,
the two who would never forget in any case watched the record of
Barter's unholy experiment burn slowly to ashes, while the screams of
the great apes died away second by second, proof that they were
leaving this section of the jungle--going deeper and deeper into the
forest gloom which was their rightful heritage, and from which no man
had a right to take them.

[Advertisement]



Holocaust

_By Charles Willard Diffin_

[Illustration: It passed beneath the planes, that were motionless by
contrast.]

[Sidenote: The extraordinary story of "Paul," who for thirty days was
Dictator of the World.]

I am more accustomed to the handling of steel ingots and the
fabrication of ships than to building with words. But, if I cannot
write history as history is written, perhaps I can write it the way it
is lived, and that must suffice.

This account of certain events must have a title, I am told. I have
used, as you see: "Holocaust." Inadequate!--but what word can tell
even faintly of that reign of terror that engulfed the world, of those
terrible thirty days in America when dread and horror gripped the
nation and the red menace, like a wall of fire, swept downward from
the north? And, at last--the end!

It was given to me to know something of that conflict and of its
ending and of the man who, in that last day, took command of Earth's
events and gave battle to Mars, the God of War himself. It was against
the background of war that he stood out; I must tell it in that way;
and perhaps my own experience will be of interest. Yet it is of the
man I would write more than the war--the most hated man in the whole
world--that strange character, Paul Stravoinski.

You do not even recognize the name. But, if I were to say instead the
one word, "Paul"--ah, now I can see some of you start abruptly in
sudden, wide-eyed attention, while the breath catches in your throats
and the memory of a strange dread clutches your hearts.

'Straki,' we called him at college. He was never "Paul," except to me
alone; there was never the easy familiarity between him and the crowd
at large, whose members were "Bill" and "Dick" and other nicknames
unprintable.

But "Straki" he accepted. "_Bien, mon cher ami_," he told me--he was
as apt to drop into French as Russian or any of a dozen other
languages--"a name--what is it? A label by which we distinguish one
package of goods from a thousand others just like it! I am unlike: for
me one name is as good as another. It is what is here that
counts,"--he tapped his broad forehead that rose high to the tangle of
black hair--"and here,"--and this time he placed one hand above his
heart.

"It is for what I give to the world of my head and my heart that I
must be remembered. And, if I give nothing--then the name, it is less
than nothing."

       *       *       *       *       *

Dreamer--poet--scientist--there were many Paul Strakis in that one
man. Brilliant in his work--he was majoring in chemistry--he was a
mathematician who was never stopped. I've seen him pause, puzzled by
some phase of a problem that, to me, was a blank wall. Only a moment's
hesitation and he would go way down to the bed-rock of mathematics and
come up with a brand new formula of his own devising. Then--"_Voila!
C'est fini!_ let us go for a walk, friend Bob; there is some poetry
that I have remembered--" And we would head out of town, while he
spouted poetry by the yard--and made me like it.

I wish you could see the Paul Straki of those days. I wish I could
show him to you; you would understand so much better the "Paul" of
these later times.

Tall, he seemed, though his eyes were only level with mine, for his
real height was hidden beneath an habitual stoop. It let him conceal,
to some extent, his lameness. He always walked with a noticeable limp,
and here was the cause of the only bitterness that, in those days, was
ever reflected in his face.

"Cossacks!" he explained when he surprised a questioning look upon my
face. "They went through our village. I was two years old--and they
rode me down!"

But the hard coldness went from his eyes, and again they crinkled
about with the kindly, wise lines that seemed so strange in his young
face. "It is only a reminder to me," he added, "that such things are
all in the past; that we are entering a new world where savage
brutality shall no longer rule, and the brotherhood of man will be the
basis upon which men shall build."

And his face, so homely that it was distinctive, had a beauty all its
own when he dared to voice his dreams.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was this that brought about his expulsion from college. That was in
1935 when the Vornikoff faction brought off their coup d'etat and
secured a strangle hold on Russia. We all remember the campaign of
propaganda that was forced into the very fibre of every country, to
weaken with its insidious dry-rot the safe foundations of our very
civilization. Paul was blinded by his idealism, and he dared to speak.

He was conducting a brilliant research into the structure of the atom;
it ended abruptly with his dismissal. And the accepted theories of
science went unchallenged, while men worked along other lines than
Paul's to attempt the release of the tremendous energy that is latent
in all matter.

I saw him perhaps three times in the four years that followed. He had
a laboratory out in a God-forsaken spot where he carried on his
research. He did enough analytical work to keep him from actual
starvation, though it seemed to me that he was uncomfortably close to
that point.

"Come with me," I urged him; "I need you. You can have the run of our
laboratories--work out the new alloys that are so much needed. You
would be tremendously valuable."

He had mentioned Maida to me, so I added: "And you and Maida can be
married, and can live like a king and queen on what my outfit can pay
you."

He smiled at me as he might have done toward a child. "Like a king and
queen," he said. "But, friend Bob, Maida and I do not approve of kings
and queens, nor do we wish to follow them in their follies.

"It is hard waiting,"--I saw his eyes cloud for a moment--"but Maida
is willing. She is working, too--she is up in Melford as you know--and
she has faith in my work. She sees with me that it will mean the
release of our fellow-men and women from the poverty that grinds out
their souls. I am near to success; and when I give to the world the
secret of power, then--" But I had to read in his far-seeing eyes the
visions he could not compass in words.

       *       *       *       *       *

That was the first time. I was flying a new ship when next I dropped
in on him. A sweet little job I thought it then, not like the old
busses that Paul and I had trained in at college, where the top speed
was a hundred and twenty. This was an A. B. Clinton cruiser, and the
"A.B.C.'s" in 1933 were good little wagons, the best there were.

I asked Paul to take a hop with me and fly the ship. He could fly
beautifully; his lameness had been no hindrance to him. In his
slender, artist hands a ship became a live thing.

"Are you doing any flying?" I asked, but the threadbare suit made his
answer unnecessary.

"I'll do my flying later," he said, "and when I do,"--he waved
contemptuously toward my shining, new ship--"you'll scrap that piece
of junk."

The tone matched the new lines in his face--deep lines and bitter.
This practical world has always been hard on the dreamers.

Poverty; and the grinding struggle that Maida was having; the
expulsion from college when he was assured of a research scholarship
that would have meant independence and the finest of equipment to work
with--all this, I found, was having its effect. And he talked in a way
I didn't like of the new Russia and of the time that was near at hand
when her communistic government should sweep the world of its curse of
capitalistic control. Their propaganda campaign was still going on,
and I gathered that Paul had allied himself with them.

I tried to tell him what we all knew; that the old Russia was gone,
that Vornikoff and his crowd were rapacious and bloodthirsty, that
their real motives were as far removed from his idealism as one pole
from the other. But it was no use. And I left when I saw the light in
his eyes. It seemed to me then that Paul Stravoinski had driven his
splendid brain a bit beyond its breaking point.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another year--and Paris, in 1939, with the dreaded First of May
drawing near. There had been rumors of demonstrations in every land,
but the French were prepared to cope with them--or so they
believed.... Who could have coped with the menace of the north that
was gathering itself for a spring?

I saw Paul there. It lacked two days of the First of May, and he was
seated with a group of industrious talkers at a secluded table in a
cafe. He crossed over when he saw me, and drew me aside. And I noticed
that a quiet man at a table nearby never let us out of his sight. Paul
and his companions, I judged, were under observation.

"What are you doing here _now_?" he asked. His manner was casual
enough to anyone watching, but the tense voice and the look in his
eyes that bored into me were anything but casual.

My resentment was only natural. "And why shouldn't I be here attending
to my own affairs? Do you realize that you are being rather absurd?"

He didn't bother to answer me directly. "I can't control them," he
said. "If they would only wait--a few weeks--another month! God, how I
prayed to them at--"

He broke off short. His eyes never moved, yet I sensed a furtiveness
as marked as if he had peered suspiciously about.

Suddenly he laughed aloud, as if at some joking remark of mine; I
knew it was for the benefit of those he had left and not for the quiet
man from the _Surete_. And now his tone was quietly conversational.

"Smile!" he said. "Smile, Bob!--we're just having a friendly talk. I
won't live another two hours if they think anything else. But, Bob, my
friend--for God's sake, Bob, leave Paris to-night. I am taking the
midnight plane on the Transatlantic Line. Come with me--"

One of the group at the table had risen; he was sauntering in our
direction. I played up to Paul's lead.

"Glad I ran across you," I told him, and shook his extended hand that
gripped mine in an agony of pleading. "I'll be seeing you in New York
one of these days; I am going back soon."

       *       *       *       *       *

But I didn't go soon enough. The unspoken pleading in Paul
Stravoinski's eyes lost its hold on me by another day. I had work to
do; why should I neglect it to go scuttling home because someone who
feared these swarming rats had begged me to run for cover? And the
French people were prepared. A little rioting, perhaps; a pistol shot
or two, and a machine-gun that would spring from nowhere and sweep the
street--!

We know now of the document that the Russian Ambassador delivered to
the President of France, though no one knew of it then. He handed it
to the portly, bearded President at ten o'clock on the morning of
April thirtieth. And the building that had housed the Russian
representatives was empty ten minutes later. Their disguises must have
been ready, for if the sewers of Paris had swallowed them they could
have vanished no more suddenly.

And the document? It was the same in substance as those delivered in
like manner in every capital of Europe: twenty-four hours were given
in which to assure the Central Council of Russia that the French
Government would be dissolved, that communism would be established,
and that its executive heads would be appointed by the Central
Council.

And then the bulletins appeared, and the exodus began. Papers floated
in the air; they blew in hundreds of whirling eddies through the
streets. And they warned all true followers of the glorious Russian
faith to leave Paris that day, for to-morrow would herald the dawn of
a new heaven on earth--a Communistic heaven--and its birth would come
with the destruction of Paris....

I give you the general meaning though not the exact words. And, like
the rest, I smiled tolerantly as I saw the stream of men and women and
frightened children that filtered from the city all that day and
night; but I must admit that our smiles were strained as morning came
on the First of May, and the hour of ten drew near.

Paris, the beautiful--that lovely blossom, flowering on the sturdy
stalk that was _La Belle France_! Paris, laughing to cover its
unspoken fears that morning in May, while the streets thudded to the
feet of marching men in horizon blue, and the air above was vibrant
with the endless roar of planes.

This meant war; and mobilization orders were out; yet still the deadly
menace was blurred by a feeling of unreality. A hoax!--a huge
joke!--it was absurd, the thought of a distant people imposing their
will upon France! And yet ... and yet....

       *       *       *       *       *

There were countless eyes turned skyward as a thousand bells rang out
the hour of ten; and countless ears heard faintly the sound of gunfire
from the north.

My work had brought me into contact with high officials of the French
Government; I was privileged to stand with a group of them where a
high-roofed building gave a vantage point for observation. With them I
saw the menacing specks on the horizon; I saw them come on with deadly
deliberation--come on and on in an ever-growing armada that filled the
sky.

Wireless had brought the report of their flight high over Germany; it
was bringing now the story of disaster from the northern front. A
heavy air-force had been concentrated there; and now the steady stream
of radio messages came on flimsy sheets to the group about me, while
they clustered to read the incredible words. They cursed and glared at
one another, those French officials, as if daring their fellows to
believe the truth; then, silent and white of face, they reached numbly
for each following sheet that messengers brought--until they knew at
last that the air-force of France was no more....

The roar of the approaching host was deafening in our ears. Red--red
as blood!--and each unit grew to enormous proportions. Armored
cruisers of the air--dreadnaughts!--they came as a complete surprise.

"But the city is ringed with anti-aircraft batteries," a uniformed man
was whispering. "They will bring the brutes down."

The northern edge of the city flamed to a roaring wall of fire; the
batteries went into action in a single, crashing harmony that sang
triumphantly in our ears. A few of the red shapes fell, but for each
of these a hundred others swept down in deadly, directed flight.

A glass was in my hand; my eyes strained through it to see the silvery
cylinders that fell from the speeding ships. I saw the red cruisers
sweep upward before the inferno of exploding bombs raged toward them
from below. And where the roar of batteries had been was only
silence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fleet was over the city. We waited for the rain of bombs that must
come; we saw the red cloud move swiftly to continue the annihilation
of batteries that still could fire; we saw the armada pass on and lose
itself among cloud-banks in the west.

Only a dozen planes remained, high-hung in the upper air. We stared in
wonderment at one another. Was this mercy?--from such an enemy? It was
inconceivable!

"Mercy!" I wonder that we dared to think the word. Only an instant
till a whistling shriek marked the coming of death. It was a single
plane--a giant shell--that rode on wings of steel. It came from the
north, and I saw it pass close overhead. Its propeller screamed an
insolent, inhuman challenge. Inhuman--for one glance told the story.
Here was no man-flown plane: no cockpit or cabin, no gunmounts. Only a
flying shell that swerved and swung as we watched. We knew that its
course was directed from above; it was swung with terrible certainty
by a wireless control that reached it from a ship overhead.

Slowly it sought its target: deliberately it poised above it. An instant,
only, it hung, though the moment, it seemed, would never end--then
down!--and the blunt nose crashed into the Government buildings where at
that moment the Chamber of Deputies was in session ... and where those
buildings had been was spouting masonry and fire.

A man had me by the arm; his fingers gripped into my flesh. With his
other hand he was pointing toward the north. "Torpedoes!" he was
saying. "Torpedoes of a size gigantic! _Ah, mon Dieu! mon Dieu!_ Save
us for we are lost!"

They came in an endless stream, those blood-red projectiles; they
announced their coming with shrill cries of varying pitch; and they
swung and swerved, as the ships above us picked them up, to rake the
city with mathematical precision.

Incendiary, of course: flames followed every shattering burst. Between
us and the Seine was a hell of fire--a hell that contained unnumbered
thousands of what an instant before had been living folk--men and
women clinging in a last terrified embrace--children whose white faces
were hidden in their mothers' skirts or buried in bosoms no longer a
refuge for childish fears. I saw it as plainly as if I had been given
the far-reaching vision of a god ... and I turned and ran with
stumbling feet where a stairway awaited....

       *       *       *       *       *

Of that flight, only a blurred recollection has stayed with me. I pray
God that I may never see it more clearly. There are sights that mortal
eyes cannot behold with understanding and leave mortal brain intact.
It is like an anaesthetic at such times, the numbness that blocks off
the horrors the eyes are recording--like the hurt of the surgeon's
scalpel that never reaches to the brain.

Dimly I see the fragmentary scenes: the crashing fall of buildings
that come crumbling and thundering down, myself crawling like an
insect across the wreckage--it is slippery and wet where the stones
are red, and I stumble, then see the torn and mangled thing that has
caused me to fall.... A face regards me from another mound. I see the
dust of powdered masonry still settling upon it: the dark hair is
hardly disturbed about the face, so peaceful, so girlishly serene: I
am still wondering dully why there is only the head of that girl
resting on the shattered stone, as I lie there exhausted and watch the
next torpedo crash a block behind me.... The air is shrill with flying
fragments. I wonder why my hands are stained and sticky as I run and
crawl on my way. The red rocks are less slippery now, and the rats,
from the sewers of Paris!--they have come out to feed!

Fragments of pictures--and the worst of them gone! I know that night
came--red night, under a cloud of smoke--and I found myself on the
following day descending from a fugitive peasant's cart and plodding
onward toward the markings of a commercial aerodrome.

They could not be everywhere, those red vultures of the sky, and they
had other devils'-work to do. I had money, and I paid well for the
plane that carried me through that day and a night to the Municipal
Airport of New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Red Army of occupation was halfway across communist Germany,
hailed as they went as the saviors of the world. London had gone the
way of Paris; Rome had followed; the countries of France and England
and Italy were beaten to their knees.

"We who rule the air rule the world!" boasted General Vornikoff. The
Russian broadcasting station had the insolence to put on the air his
message to the people of America. I heard his voice as plainly as if
he stood in my office; and I was seeing again the coming of that
endless stream of aerial torpedoes, and the red cruisers hanging in
the heights to pick up control and dash the messengers of death upon a
helpless city. But I was visioning it in New York.

"The masses of the American people are with us," said the complacently
arrogant voice. "For our fellow-workers we have only brotherly
affection; it is your capitalist-dominated Government that must
submit. And if it does not--!" I heard him laugh before he went on:

"We are coming to the rescue of you, our brothers across the sea. Now
we have work to do in Europe; our gains must be consolidated and the
conquests of our glorious air-force made secure. And then--! We warn
you in advance, and we laugh at your efforts to prepare for our
coming. We even tell you the date: in thirty days the invasion begins.
It will end only at Washington when the great country of America, its
cruel shackles cast off from the laboring masses, joins the
Brotherhood--the Workers of the World!"

There was a man from the War Department who sat across from me at my
desk; my factories were being taken over; my electric furnaces must
pour out molten metal for use in war. He cursed softly under his
breath as the voice ceased.

"The dirty dog!" he exclaimed. "The lying hypocrite! He talks of
brotherhood to us who know the damnable inquisition and reign of
terror that he and his crowd have forced on Russia! Thirty days! Well,
we have three thousand planes ready for battle to-day; there'll be
more in thirty days! Now, about that vanadium steel--"

But I'll confess I hardly heard him; I was hearing the roar of an
armada of red craft that ensanguined the sky, and I was seeing the
curving flight of torpedoes, each an airplane in itself....

       *       *       *       *       *

Thirty days!--and each minute of each hour must be used. In close
touch with the War Department, I knew much that was going on, and all
that I knew was the merest trifle in the vast preparations for
defense. My earlier apprehensions were dulled; the sight I had of the
whole force of a mighty nation welded into one driving power working
to one definite end was exhilarating.

New York and Washington--these, it was felt, would be the points of
first attack; they must be protected. And I saw the flights of planes
that seemed endless as they converged at the concentration camps.
Fighters, at first--bombers and swift scouts--they came in from all
parts of the land. Then the passenger planes and the big mail-ships.
Transcontinental runs were abandoned or cut to a skeleton service of a
ship every hour for the transport of Government men. Even the slower
craft of the feeder lines were commandeered; anything that could fly
and could mount a gun.

And the three thousand fighting ships, as the man from Washington had
said, grew to three times that number. Their roaring filled the skies
with thunder, and beneath them were other camps of infantry and
artillery.

The Atlantic front was an armed camp, where highways no longer carried
thousands of cars on pleasure bent. By night and day I saw those
familiar roads from the air; they were solid with a never-ending line
of busses and vans and long processions of motorized artillery and
tanks, whose clattering bedlam came to me a thousand feet above.

Yes, it was an inspiring sight, and I lost the deadly oppression and
the sense of impending doom--until our intelligence service told us of
the sailing of the enemy fleet.

       *       *       *       *       *

They had seized every vessel in the waters of Europe. And--God pity
the poor, traitorous devils who manned them--there were plenty to
operate the ships. Two thousand vessels were in that convoy. Ringed in
as they were by a guard of destroyers and fighting craft of many
kinds, whose mast-heads carried the blood-red flag now instead of
their former emblems, our submarines couldn't reach them.

But our own fleet went out to measure their strength, and a thousand
Navy planes took the air on the following day.

Uppermost in my own mind, and in everyone's mind, I think, was the
question of air-force.

Would they bring the red ships? What was their cruising range? Could
they cross the Atlantic with their enormous load of armored hull, or
must they be transported? Were the air-cruisers with the fleet, or
would they come later?

How Vornikoff and his assassins must have laughed as they built the
monsters, armored them, and mounted the heavy guns so much greater
than anything they would meet! The rest of us--all the rest of the
world!--had been kept in ignorance.... And now our own fliers were
sweeping out over the gray waters to find the answer to our questions.

I've tried to picture that battle; I've tried to imagine the feelings
of those men on the dreadnaughts and battle-cruisers and destroyers.
There was no attempt on the enemy's part to conceal his position; his
wireless was crackling through the air with messages that our
intelligence department easily decoded. Our Navy fliers roared out
over the sea, out and over the American fleet, whose every bow was a
line of white that told of their haste to meet the oncoming horde.

The plane-carriers threw their fighters into the air to join the
cavalcade above--and a trace of smoke over the horizon told that the
giant fleet was coming into range.

       *       *       *       *       *

And then, instead of positions and ranges flashed back from our own swift
scouts, came messages of the enemy's attack. Our men must have seen them
from the towers of our own fleet; they must have known what the red swarm
meant, as it came like rolling, fire-lit smoke far out in the sky--and
they must have read plainly their own helplessness as they saw our
thousand planes go down. They were overwhelmed--obliterated!--and the red
horde of air-cruisers was hardly checked in its sweep.

Carnage and destruction, those blue seas of the north Atlantic have
seen; they could tell tales of brave men, bravely going to their death
in storm and calm but never have they seen another such slaughter as
that day's sun showed.

The anti-aircraft guns roared vainly; some few of our own planes that
had escaped returned to add their futile, puny blows. The waters about
the ships were torn to foam, while the ships themselves were changed
to furnaces of bursting flame--until the seas in mercy closed above
them and took their torn steel, and the shattered bodies that they
held, to the silence of the deep....

We got it all at Washington. I sat in a room with a group of
white-faced men who stared blindly at a radiocone where a quiet voice
was telling of disaster. It was Admiral Graymont speaking to us from
the bridge of the big dreadnaught, _Lincoln_, the flagship of the
combined fleet. Good old Graymont! His best friend, Bill Schuler,
Secretary of the Navy, was sitting wordless there beside me.

"It is the end," the quiet voice was saying; "the cruiser squadrons
are gone.... Two more battleships have gone down: there are only five
of us left.... A squadron of enemy planes is coming in above. Our men
have fought bravely and with never a chance.... There!--they've got
us!--the bombs! Good-by, Bill, old fellow--"

The radiocone was silent with a silence that roared deafeningly in our
ears. And, beside me, I saw the Secretary of the Navy, a Navy now
without ships or men, drop his tired, lined face into his hands, while
his broad shoulders shook convulsively. The rest of us remained in our
chairs, too stunned to do anything but look at one another in horror.

       *       *       *       *       *

We expected them to strike at New York. I was sent up there, and it
was there that I saw Paul again. I met him on lower Broadway, and I
went up to him with my hand reaching for his. I didn't admire Paul's
affiliations, but he had warned me--he had tried to save my life--and
I wanted to thank him.

But his hand did not meet mine. There was a strange, wild look in his
eyes--I couldn't define it--and he brought his gaze back from far off
to stare at me as if I were a stranger.

Then: "Still got that A.B.C. ship?" he demanded.

"Yes," I answered wonderingly.

"Junk it!" he said. And his laugh was as wild and incomprehensible as
his look had been. I stared after him as he walked away. I was
puzzled, but there were other things to think of then.

A frenzy of preparation--and all in vain. The enemy fooled us; the
radio brought the word from Quebec.

"They have entered the St. Lawrence," was the message it flashed.
Then, later: "The Red fleet is passing toward Montreal. Enemy planes
have spotted all radio towers. There is one above us now--" And that
ended the message from Quebec.

But we got more information later. They landed near Montreal; they
were preparing a great base for offensive operations; the country was
overrun with a million men; the sky was full of planes by night and
day; there was no artillery, no field guns of any sort, but there were
torpedo-planes by tens of thousands, which made red fields of waiting
death where trucks placed them as they took them from the ships.

And there were some of us who smiled sardonically in recollection of
the mammoth plants the Vornikoff Reds had installed in Central Russia,
and the plaudits that had greeted their plans for nitrogen fixation.
They were to make fertilizers; the nitrates would be distributed
without cost to the farms--this had pacified the Agrarians--and here
were their "nitrates" that were to make fertile the fields of Russia:
countless thousands of tons of nitro-explosives in these flying
torpedoes!

       *       *       *       *       *

But if we smiled mirthlessly at these recollections we worked while we
chewed on our cud of bitterness. There came an order: "Evacuate New
England," and the job was given to me.

With planes--a thousand of them--trucks, vans, the railroads, we
gathered those terrified people into concentration camps, and took
them over the ground, under the ground, and through the air to the
distributing camp at Buffalo, where they were scattered to other
points.

I saw the preparations for a battle-front below me as I skimmed over
Connecticut. Trenches made a thin line that went farther than I could
see! Here was the dam that was expected to stop the enemy columns from
the north. I think no one then believed that our air-force could check
the assault. The men of the fighting planes were marked for death; one
read it in their eyes; but who of us was not?

How those giant cruisers would be downed no man could say, but we
worked on in a blind desperation; we would hold that invading army as
long as men could sight a gun; we would hold them back; and somehow,
someway, we must find the means to repel the invasion from the air!

I saw the lines of track that made a network back to the trenches.
Like the suburban lines around New York, they would carry thousands of
single cars, each driven at terrific speed by the air plane propeller
at its bow. With these, the commanders could shift their forces to
whatever sector was hardest pressed. They would be bombed, of course,
but the hundreds of tracks would not all be destroyed--and the line
must be held!

The line! it brought a strangling lump to my throat as I saw those
thin markings of trenches, the marching bodies of troops, the brave,
hopeless, determined men who went singing to their places in that
line. But my planes were winging past me; my job was ahead, where a
multitude still waited and prayed for deliverance.

       *       *       *       *       *

We never finished the job; in two days the red horde was upon us.
Their swarming troops were convoyed by planes, but no effort was made
to fly over our lines and launch an attack. Were they feeling their
way? Did they think now that they would find us passive and
unresisting? Did they want to take our cities undamaged? Oh, we asked
ourselves a thousand questions with no answer to any--except the
knowledge that a million men were marching from the north; that their
fleet of planes would attack as soon as the troops encountered
resistance; that our batteries of anti-aircraft guns would harry them
as they came, and our air-fleet, held back in reserve, would take what
the batteries left....

My last planes with their fugitive loads passed close to the lines of
red troops. There were red planes overhead, but they let us pass
unhindered. Fleeing, driving wildly toward the south, we were
unworthy, it seemed, of even their contemptuous attention. But I was
sick to actual nausea at sight of the villages and cities where only a
part of the population had escaped. The roads, in front of the red
columns, were jammed with motors and with men and women and children
on foot: a hopeless tangle.

I was watching the pitiful flight below me, cursing my own impotence
to be of help, when a shrill whistling froze me rigid to my controls.
I had heard it before--there could be no mistaking the cry of that
oncoming torpedo--and I saw the damnable thing pass close to my ship.

I was doing two hundred--my motor was throttled down--but this inhuman
monster passed me as if my ship were frozen as unmoving as myself. It
tore on ahead. I saw an enemy plane above it some five thousand feet.
The torpedo was checked; I saw it poise; then it curved over and down.
And the screaming motor took up its cry that was like a thousand
devils until its sound was lost in the screams from below and the
infernal blast of its own explosion.

Only a trial flight--an experiment to test their controls! No need for
me to try to tell you of the thoughts that tore me through and through
while I struggled to bring my ship to an even keel in the hurricane of
explosion that drove up at me from below. But I spat out the one word:
"Brotherhood!" and I prayed for a place in the front line where I
might send one shot at least against so beastly a foe.

       *       *       *       *       *

That was somewhere in Massachusetts. Their foremost columns were close
behind. They came to a stop some fifty miles from our waiting line of
battle: I learned this when I got to Washington. And the reason, too,
was known; it was published in all the papers. There had been messages
to the President, broadcast to the world from an unknown source:

"To the President of the United States--warning! This war must end.
You, as Commander-in-Chief of the American forces can bring it to a
close. I have prevailed upon the Red Army of the Brotherhood to halt.
They have listened to me. You, also, must take heed.

"You will issue orders at once to withdraw all resistance. You will
disband your army, ground all your planes; bring all your artillery
into one place and prepare to turn the government of this country over
to the representatives of the Central Council. You will act at once."

"This war is ended. All wars are ended forevermore. I have spoken."

And the strange message was signed "Paul."

The wild words of a maniac, it was thought at first. Yet the fact
remained that the enemy's advance had ceased. Who was this "Paul" who
had "prevailed upon the Red Army" to halt?

And then the obvious answer occurred; it was a ruse on the part of the
Reds. They feared to attack; their strength was not as great as we had
thought--officers and men of all branches of the service took new
heart and plunged more frenziedly still into the work of preparation.

There were direction-finders that had taken the message from several
stations; their pointers converged upon one definite location in
southern Ohio. Over an area of twenty square miles, that place was
combed for a sending radio where the message could have
originated--combed in vain.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next demand came at ten on the following morning.

"To the President of the United States: You have disregarded my
warning. You will not do so again; I have power to enforce my demands.
I had hoped that bloodshed and destruction might cease, but it is
plain that only that will save you from your own headstrong folly. I
must strike. At noon to-day the Capitol in Washington will be
destroyed. See that it is emptied of human life. I have spoken. Paul."

A maniac, surely; yet a maniac with strange powers. For the graphs of
the radio direction-finders showed a curve. And when they were
assembled the reading could only mean that the instrument that had
sent the threat had moved over fifty miles during the few minutes of
its sending. This, I think, was what brought the order to vacate the
big domed building in Washington.

Of course the Capitol Building had been searched; there was not a nook
nor corner from roof to basement but had been gone over in search of
an explosive machine. And now it was empty, and a guard of soldiers
made a solid cordon surrounding it. No one could approach upon the
ground; and, above, a series of circling patrol-planes, one squadron
above another, guarded against approach by air. With such a defense
the Capitol and its grounds seemed impregnable.

My watch said 11:59; I held it in my hand and watched the seconds tick
slowly by. The city was hushed; it seemed that no man was so much as
breathing ... 11:59 :60!--and an instant later I heard the shriek of
something that tore the air to screaming fragments. I saw it as it
came on a straight, level line from the east; a flash like a meteor of
glistening white. It passed beneath the planes, that were motionless
by contrast, drove straight for the gleaming Capitol dome, passed
above it, and swept on in a long flattened curve that bent outward and
up.

It was gone from my sight, though the shrieking air was still tearing
at my ears, when I saw the great building unfold. Time meant nothing;
my racing mind made slow and deliberate the explosion that lifted the
roofs and threw the walls in dusty masses upon the ground. So slow it
seemed!--and I had not even seen the shell that the white meteor-ship
had fired. Yet there was the beautiful building, expanding,
disintegrating. It was a cloud of dust when the concussion reached me
to dash me breathless to the earth....

       *       *       *       *       *

The white meteor was the vehicle of "Paul," the dictator. From it had
come the radio message whose source had moved so swiftly. I saw this
all plainly.

There was a conference of high officials at the War Department
Building, and the Secretary summed up all that was said:

"A new form of air-flight, and a new weapon more destructive than any
we have known! That charge of explosive that was fired at the Capitol
was so small as to be unseen. We can't meet it; we can only fight.
Fight on till the end."

A message came in as we sat there, a message to the Commander-in-Chief
who had come over from the White House under military guard.

"Surrender!" it demanded; "I have shown you my power; it is
inexhaustible, unconquerable. Surrender or be destroyed; it is the
dawn of a new day, the day of the Brotherhood of Man. Let bloodshed
cease. Surrender! I command it! Paul."

The President of the United States held the flimsy paper in his hand.
He rose slowly to his feet, and he read it aloud to all of us
assembled there; read it to the last hateful word. Then:

"Surrender?" he asked. He turned steady, quiet eyes upon the big flag
whose red and white and blue made splendid the wall behind him--and
I'll swear that I saw him smile.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have had many presidents since '76; big men, some of them; tall,
handsome men; men who looked as if nature had moulded them for a high
place. This man was small of stature; the shortest man in all that
room if he had stood, but he was big--big! Only one who is great can
look deep through the whirling turmoil of the moment to find the
eternal verities that are always underneath--and smile!

"Men must die,"--he spoke meditatively; in seeming communing with
himself, as one who tries to face a problem squarely and
honestly--"and nations must pass; time overwhelms us all. Yet there is
that which never dies and never surrenders."

He looked about the room now, as if he saw us for the first time.

"Gentlemen," he said quietly, "we have here an ultimatum. It is backed
by power which our Secretary of War says is invincible. We are faced
by an enemy who would annihilate these United States, and this new
power fights on the side of the enemy.

"Must we go the way of England, of France, of all Europe? It would
seem so. The United States of America is doomed. Yet each one of us
will meet what comes bravely, if, facing our own end, we know that the
principles upon which this nation is founded must go on; if only the
Stars and Stripes still floats before our closing eyes to assure us
that some future day will see the resurrection of truth and of honor
and kindness among men.

"We will fight, as our Secretary of War has said--fight on to the end.
We will surrender--never! That is our answer to this one who calls
himself 'Paul.'"

We could not speak; I do not know how long the silence lasted. But I
know that I left that room a silent man among many silent men, in
whose eyes I saw a reflection of the emotion that filled my own heart.
It was the end--the end of America, of millions of American homes--but
this was better than surrender to such a foe. Better death than
slavery to that race of bloodthirsty oppressors.

       *       *       *       *       *

But who was "Paul?" This question kept coming repeatedly to my mind.
The press of the country echoed the President's words, then dipped
their pens in vitriol to heap scorching invective upon the head of
the tyrant. The power of the Reds we might have met--or so it was
felt--but this new menace gave the invaders a weapon we could not
combat. It was power!--a means of flight beyond anything known!--an
explosive beside which our nitro compounds were playthings for a
child.

"Who is Paul?" It was not only myself who asked the question through
those next long hours, but perhaps I was the only one in whose mind
was a disturbing certainty that the answer was mine if I could but
grasp it.

I was remembering Paris; I was thinking of that peaceful, happy city
before the First of May, before the world had gone mad and a raging,
red beast had laid it waste and overrun it. And of Paul
Stravoinski--my friend "Straki" of college days--who had warned me. He
had known what was coming. He himself had said that he had prayed to
"them" for delay; that in a few weeks he would do--what?... And
suddenly I knew.

Paul had succeeded; his research had ended in the dissection of the
atom; he had unleashed the sub-atomic power of matter. Only this could
explain the wild flight through the sky, the terrific explosion at the
Capitol. It was Paul--my friend, Paul Stravoinski--who was imposing
his will upon the world.

I said nothing as I took off; the swiftest plane was at my command. I
might be wrong; I must not arouse false hopes; but I must find Paul.
And the papers were black with scareheads of another threat as I left
Washington:

"You have twenty-four hours to surrender. There shall be one last day
of grace." Signed: "Paul."

There was more of the wild talk of the beauties of this new
dispensation--a mixture of idealistic folly and of threats of
destruction. I needed no more to prove the truth of my suspicions. No
one but the Paul I had known could cling so tenaciously to his dreams;
no one but he could be so blind to the actual horror of the new
oligarchy he would impose upon the world.

I flew alone; no one but myself must try to hunt him out. I paid no
attention to the radio direction of the last message; he would fly far
afield to send it; distance meant nothing to one who held his power. I
must look for him at his laboratory, that cluster of deserted
buildings that stood all alone by a distant railway siding; it was
there he had worked.

       *       *       *       *       *

He met me with a pistol in his hand--a tiny gun that fired only a .22
calibre bullet.

"Put down your pop-gun," I told him and brushed through the open door
into the room that had been his laboratory. "I am unarmed, and I'm
here to talk business.

"You are 'Paul'!" I shot the sentence at him as if it were a bullet
that must strike him down.

He did not answer directly; just nodded in confirmation of some
unspoken thought.

"You have found me," he said slowly; "you were the only one I feared."

Then he came out with it, and his eyes blazed with a maniacal light.

"Yes, I am Paul! and this 'pop-gun' in my hand is the weapon that
destroyed your Capitol at Washington. The bullet contained less than a
grain of tritonite; that is the name I have given my explosive."

He aimed the little pistol toward me where I stood. "These bullets are
more lightly charged--they are to protect myself--and the one
ten-thousandth of a milligram in the end of each will blow you into
bits! Sit down. I will not be checked now. You will never leave this
place alive!"

"Less than a grain of tritonite!"--and I had seen a great building go
down to dust at its touch! I sat down in the chair where he directed,
and I turned away from the fanatical glare of Paul's eyes to look
about me.

There was poverty here no longer; no makeshift apparatus greeted my
eyes, but the finest of laboratory equipment. Paul read my thoughts.

"They have been liberal," he told me; "the Central Council has
financed my work--though I have kept my whereabouts a secret even from
them. But they would not wait. I told you in Paris, and you did not
believe. And now--now I have succeeded! the research is done!"

       *       *       *       *       *

He half turned to pick up a flake of platinum no larger than one's
finger-nail; it was a weight that was used on a delicate balance.

"Matter is matter no longer," he said; "I have resolved it into
energy. I hold here in my hand power to destroy an army, or to drive a
fleet of ships. I, Paul, will build a new world. I will give to man a
surcease from labor; I will give him rest; I will do the work of the
world. My tritonite that can destroy can also create; it shall be used
for that alone. This is the end of war. Here is wealth; here is power;
I shall give it to mankind, and, under the rule of the Brotherhood, a
united world will arise and go forward to new growth, to a greater
civilization, to a building of a new heaven on earth."

He was pacing up and down the room. His hands were shaking; the
muscles of his face that twitched and trembled were moulded into deep
lines. I sat there and realized that within that room, directly before
my eyes, was the Dictator of the World. It was true--I could not doubt
it--Paul Straki of college days had made his dreams come true; his
research was ended. And this new "Paul" who held in those trembling
hands the destinies of mankind, at whose word kings and presidents
trembled, was utterly mad!

I tried to talk and tell him of the truth we knew was true. He would
have none of it; his dreams possessed him. In the bloody flag of this
new Russia he could see only the emblem of freedom; the men who
marched beneath that banner were his brothers, unwitting in the
destruction they wrought. It was all that they knew. But they fought
for the right. They would cease fighting now, and would join him in
the work of moulding a new race. And even their leaders, who had
sometimes opposed--were they not kind at heart? Had they not checked
the advance of an irresistible army to give him and his new weapon an
opportunity to open the eyes of the people? Theirs was no wish to
destroy; their hearts ached for their victims who refused to listen
and could be convinced only by force.

And as he talked on there passed before my eyes the vision of an
aerial torpedo and a blood-red ship above, where these "kindly" men
who were Paul's allies turned the instrument of death upon huddled,
screaming folk--and laughed, no doubt, at such good sport.

       *       *       *       *       *

I thought of many things. I was tensed one moment to throw myself upon
the man; and an instant later I was searching my mind for some
argument, some gleam of reason, with which I could tear aside the
illusions that held him. I saw him cross the room where a radio stood,
and he switched on the instrument for the news-broadcast service. The
shouting of an excited voice burst into the room.

"The Reds have advanced," said the voice. "Their armies have crossed
the Connecticut line. They are within ten miles of the American
forces. The twenty-four hours of grace promised by the tyrant 'Paul'
was a lie. The battle is already on."

I saw the tall figure of Paul sink to its former stoop; the lameness
that had vanished in the moment of his exaltation had returned. He
limped a pace or two toward me.

"They said they would wait!" His voice was a hoarse whisper. "General
Vornikoff himself gave me his promise!"

I was on my feet, then. "What matter?" I shouted. "What difference
does it make--a few hours or a day? Your damned patriots, your dear
brothers in arms--they are destroying us this instant! And not one of
our men but is worth more than the whole beastly mob!"

I was wild with the picture that came so clear and plain before my
eyes. I had my pistol in my hand; I was tempted to fire. It was his
whisper that stopped me.

"They have crossed Massachusetts! And Maida is there in Melford!"

       *       *       *       *       *

There was no resisting his strength that tore my weapon from me. His
tritonite pistol was pressed into my side, and his hand upon my collar
threw me ahead of him toward a rear room, then out into a huge shed. I
had only a quick glimpse of the airplane that was housed there. It was
a white cylinder, and the stern that was toward me showed a
funnel-shaped port.

I was thrown by that same furious strength through a door of the ship;
I saw Paul Stravoinski seat himself before some curious controls. The
ship that held me rose; moved slowly through an opened door; and with
a screech from the stern it tore off and up into the air.

I have said Paul could fly; but the terrific flight of the screaming
thing that held us seemed beyond the power of man to control. I was
stunned with the thundering roar and the speed that held me down and
back against a cabin wall.

How he found Melford, I cannot know; but he found it as a homing
pigeon finds its loft. He checked our speed with a sickening swiftness
that made my brain reel. There were red ships above, but they let the
white ship pass unchallenged. There were no Red soldiers on the
ground--only the marks where they had passed.

From the distance came a never-ceasing thunder of guns. The village
was quiet. It still burned, blazing brightly in places, again
smouldering sluggishly and sending into the still air smoke clouds
whose fumes were a choking horror of burned flesh. There were bodies
in grotesque scattering about the streets; some of them were black and
charred.

Paul Stravoinski took me with him as he dashed for a house that the
flames had not touched. And I was with him as he smashed at the door
and broke into the room.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was splintered furniture about. A cabinet, whose glass doors had
been wantonly smashed, leaned crazily above its fallen books, now
torn, scuffed and muddy upon the floor. Through a shattered window in
the bed-room beyond came a puff of the acrid smoke from outside to
strangle the breath in my throat. On the floor in a shadowed corner
lay the body of a woman--a young woman as her clotted tangle of golden
hair gave witness. She stirred and moaned half-consciously.... And the
lined face of Paul Stravoinski was a terrible thing to see as he went
stumblingly across the room to gather that body into his arms.

I had known Maida; I had seen their love begin in college days. I had
known a laughing girl with sunshine in her hair, a girl whose soft
eyes had grown so tenderly deep when they rested upon Paul--but this
that he took in his arms, while a single dry sob tore harshly at his
throat, this was never Maida!

There were red drops that struck upon his hands or fell sluggishly to
the floor; the head and face had taken the blow of a clubbed rifle or
a heavy boot. The eyes in that tortured face opened to rest upon
Paul's, the lips were moving.

"I told them of you," I heard her whisper. "I told them that you would
come--and they laughed." Unconsciously she tried to draw her torn clothing
about her, an instinctive reaction to some dim realization of her
nakedness. She was breathing feebly. "And now--oh, Paul!--Paul!--you--have
come--too late!"

       *       *       *       *       *

I hardly think Paul knew I was there or sensed that I followed where
he carried in his arms the bruised body that had housed the spirit of
Maida. He flew homeward like a demon, but he moved as one in a dream.

Only when I went with him into the room where he had worked, did he
turn on me in sudden fury.

"Out!" he screamed. "Get out of my sight! It is you who have done
this--your damned armies who would not do as I ordered! If you had not
resisted, if you had--"

I broke in there.

"Did we do that?" I outshouted him, and I pointed to the torn body on
a cot. His eyes followed my shaking hand. "No, it was your
brothers--your dear comrades who are bringing the brotherhood of men
into the world! Well, are you proud? Are you happy and satisfied--with
what your brothers do with women?"

It must be a fearful thing to have one's dreams turn bitter and
poisonous. Paul Stravoinski seemed about to spring upon me. He was
crouched, and the muscles of his thin neck were like wire; his face
was a ghastly thing, his eyes so staring bright, and the sensitive
mouth twisting horribly. But he sprang at last not at me but toward
the door, and without a word from his tortured lips he opened it and
motioned me out.

Even there I heard echoes of distant guns and the heavier, thudding
sounds that must be their aerial torpedoes. My feet were leaden as I
strained every muscle to hurry toward my ship. Through my mind was
running the threat of the Russian, Vornikoff: "We even tell you the
date: in thirty days." And this was the thirtieth day--thirty days
that a state of war had existed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The battle was on; the radio had spoken truly. I saw its raging fires
as I came up from our rear where the gray-like smoke clouds shivered
in the unending blast. But I saw stabbing flames that struck upward
from the ground to make a wall of sharp, fiery spears, and I knew that
every darting flame was launching a projectile from our anti-aircraft
guns.

The skies were filled with the red aircraft of the enemy, but their
way was an avenue of hell where thousands of shells filled the air
with their crashing explosions. There were torpedoes, the unmanned
airships whose cargo was death, and they were guided to their marks
despite the inferno that raged about the red ships above.

I saw meteors that fell, the red flames that enveloped them no redder
than the bodies of the ships. And, as I leaped from my plane that I
had landed back of our lines, I sensed that the enemy was withdrawing.

There was a colonel of artillery--I had known him in days of
peace--and he threw his arms around me and executed a crazy dance.
"We've beaten them back, Bob!" he shouted, and repeated it over and
over in a delirium of joy.

I couldn't believe it; not those cruisers that I had seen over Paris.
Another brief moment showed my fears were all too rational.

A shrieking hailstorm of torpedoes preceded them; the ships were
directing them from afar. And, while some of the big shells went wild
and overshot our lines, there were plenty that found their mark.

I was smashed flat by a stunning concussion. Behind me the place where
Colonel Hartwell had stood was a smoking crater; his battery of guns
had been blasted from the earth. Up and down the whole line, far
beyond the range of my sight, the eruption continued. The ground was a
volcano of flame, as if the earth had opened to let through the
interior fires, and the air was filled with a litter of torn bodies
and sections of shattered guns.

No human force could stand up under such a bombardment. Like others
about me, I gripped tight upon something within me that was my
self-control, and I marveled that I yet lived while I waited for the
end.

       *       *       *       *       *

Beyond the smoke clouds was a hillside, swarming with figures in red;
solid masses of troops that came toward us. Above was the red fleet,
passing safely above our flame-blasted lines; there were bombs falling
upon those batteries here and there whose fire was unsilenced. And
then, from the south, came a roar that pierced even the bedlam about
me. The sun shone brightly there where the smoke-clouds had not
reached, and it glinted and sparkled from the wings of a myriad of our
planes.

There was something that pulled tight at my throat; I know I tore at
it with fumbling hands, as if that something were an actual band that
had clamped down and choked me, while I stared at that true line of
sharp-pointed V's. The air-force of the United States had been ordered
in; and they were coming, coming--to an inevitable death!

I tried to tear my eyes away from that oncoming fleet, but I could not
move. I saw their first contact with the enemy; so small, they were,
in contrast with the big red cruisers. They attacked in formations;
they drove down and in; and they circled and whirled before they
fluttered to earth....

Dimly, through the stupor that numbed my brain, I heard men about me
shouting with joy. I felt more than saw the fall of a monster red
craft; it struck not far away. The voices were thanking God--for what?
Another red ship fell--and another; and through all the roaring
inferno a sound was tearing--a ripping, terrible scream that went on
and on. And above me, when I forced my eyes upward, was a flash of
white.

It darted like a live thing among the red ones whose guns blazed
madly--and the red ships in clotted groups fell away and over and down
as the white one passed. They had been burst open where some power had
blasted them, and their torn hulls showed gaping as they fell.

For a time the air was silent and empty above; the white, flashing
thing had passed from sight, for the line of red ships was long. Then
again it returned, and it threw itself into the mad whirl in the south
where the air-force of the American people was fighting its last
fight.

I was screaming insanely as I saw it come back. The white ship!--the
blast of vapor from its funneled stern--It was Paul!--Paul
Stravoinski!--Paul the Dictator!--and he was fighting on our side!

       *       *       *       *       *

His ship had been prepared; I had seen the machine-guns on her bow.
Paul was working them from within, and every bullet was tipped with
the product of his brain--the deadly tritonite!

The white flash swung wide in a circle that took it far away. It came
back above the advancing army of the Reds. It swerved once wildly,
then settled again upon its course, and the raging hell that the Reds
had turned loose upon our lines was as nothing to the destruction that
poured upon the Red troops from above.

A messenger of peace, that ship; I knew well why Paul had painted it
white. And, instead of peace--!

He was flying a full mile from our lines, yet the torn earth and great
boulders crashed among us even then. There were machine-guns firing
ceaselessly from the under side of the ship. What charges of tritonite
had the demented man placed in those shells?

Below and behind it, as it flashed across our view, was a fearful,
writhing mass where the earth itself rose up in unending, convulsive
agony. A volcano of fire followed him, a fountain of earth that ripped
and tore and stretched itself in a writhing, tortured line across the
land as the white ship passed.

No man who saw that and lived has found words to describe the progress
of that monstrous serpent; the valley itself is there for men to see.
The roar was beyond the limit of men's strained nerves. I found myself
cowering upon the ground when the white ship came back; I followed it
fearfully with my eyes until I saw it swoop falteringly down. Such
power seemed not for men but for gods; I could not have met Paul
Stravoinski then but in a posture of supplication. But I leaped to my
feet and raced madly across the torn earth as I saw the white ship
touch the ground--rise--fall again--and end its flight where it
ploughed a furrow across a brown field....

       *       *       *       *       *

I raised Paul Stravoinski's head in my arms where I found him in the
ship. An enemy shell had entered that cabin; it must have come early
in the fight, but he had fought gamely on. And the eyes that looked up
into mine had none of the wild light I had seen. They were the eyes of
Paul Straki, the comrade of those few long years before, and he smiled
as he said: "_Voila_, friend Bob: _c'est fini!_ And now I go for a
long, long walk. We will talk of poetry, Maida and I...."

But his dreams were still with him. He opened his eyes to stare
intently at me. "You will see that it is not in vain?" he questioned;
then smiled as one who is at peace, as he whispered: "Yes, I know you
will--my friend, Bob--"

And his fixed gaze went through and beyond me, while he tried, in
broken sentences, to give the vision that had been his. So plain it
was to him now.

"The wild work--of a mistaken people. America will undo it.... A world
at peace.... The vast commerce--of the skies--I see it--so clearly....
It will break down--all barriers.... A beautiful, happy world...."

His lips moved feebly at the last. I could not speak; could not even
call him by name; I could only lean my head closer to hear.

One whispered word; then another: a fragment of poetry! I had heard
him quote it often. But the whispered words were not for me. Paul was
speaking to someone beside him--someone my blind, human eyes could not
see....

       *       *       *       *       *

I am writing these words at my desk in the great Transportation
Building in New York. It stands upon the site of the Chrysler Building
that towered here--until one of the flying torpedoes came over to hunt
it out. They landed several in New York; how long ago it all seems
that the threat of utter destruction hung over the whole nation--the
whole world.

And now from my window I see the sparkling flash of ships. The air is
filled with them; I am still unaccustomed to their speed. But a wisp
of vapor from each bell-shaped stern throws them swiftly on their way;
it marks the continuous explosion of that marvel of a new
age--tritonite! There are tremendous terminals being built; the
air-transport lines are being welded into efficient units that circle
the world; and the world is becoming so small!

The barriers are gone; all nations are working as one to use wisely
this strange new power for the work of this new world. No more
poverty; no more of the want and desperate struggle that leads a whole
people into the insane horrors of war; it is a glorious world of which
we dream and which is coming slowly to be....

But I think we must dream well and work well to bring to actuality the
beautiful visions in those far-seeing eyes of the man called
Paul--Dictator, one time, of the whole world.


LISTENING TO ANTS


Two scientists of the University of Pittsburgh recently perfected an
apparatus for detecting the sounds of underground communications among
ants. A block of wood was placed upon the diaphragm of an ordinary
telephone transmitter, which in turn was connected through batteries
and amplifiers to a pair of earphones. When the termites crawled over
the block of wood the transmitter was agitated, resulting in sound
vibrations which were clearly heard by the listener at the headset.

When the ants became excited over something or other their soldiers
were found to hammer their heads vigorously on the wood. This action
could be clearly seen and heard at the same time. The investigators
found that the ants could hear sound vibrations in the air very poorly
or not at all, but were extremely sensitive to vibrations underground.
For this reason it was thought that the head hammering was a method of
communication.

Because of this sensitivity to substratum vibrations, ants are seldom
found to infest the ties of railroads carrying heavy traffic, or
buildings containing machinery.



The Earthman's Burden

_By R. F. Starzl_

[Illustration: _And then he jumped._]

[Sidenote: There is foul play on Mercury--until Denny Olear of the
Interplanetary Flying Police gets after his man.]


Denny Olear was playing blackjack when the colonel's orderly found
him. He hastily buttoned his tunic and in a few minutes, alert and
very military, was standing at attention in the little office on the
ground floor of the Denver I. F. P. barracks. His swanky blue uniform
fitted without a wrinkle. His little round skullcap was perched at the
regulation angle.

"Olear," said the colonel, "they're having a little trouble at the
Blue River Station, Mercury."

"Trouble? Uh-huh," Olear said placidly.

The colonel looked him over. He saw a man past his first youth.
Thirty-five, possibly forty. Olear was well-knit, sandy-haired, not
over five feet six inches in height. His hair was close-cropped, his
features phlegmatic, his eyes a light blue with thick, short,
light-colored lashes, his teeth excellent. A scar, dead white on a
brown cheekbone, was a reminder of an "encounter" with one of the
numerous sauriens of Venus.

"I'm sending you," explained the colonel, "because you're more
experienced, and not like some of these kids, always spoiling for a
fight. There's something queer about this affair. Morones, factor of
the Blue River post, reports that his assistant has disappeared.
Vanished. Simply gone. But only three months ago the former
factor--Morones was his assistant--disappeared. No hide nor hair of
him. Morones reported to the company, the Mercurian Trading
Concession, and they called me. Something, they think, is rotten."

"Yes, sir."

"I guess I needn't tell you," the colonel went on, "that you have to
use tact. People don't seem to appreciate the Force. What with the
lousy politicians begrudging every cent we get, and a bunch of
suspicious foreign powers afraid we'll get too good--"

"Yeah, I know. Tact, that's my motto. No rough stuff." He saluted,
turned on his heel.

"Just a minute!" The colonel had arisen. He was a fine, ascetic type
of man. He held out his hand.

"Good-by, Olear. Watch yourself!"

When Olear had taken his matter-of-fact departure the colonel ran his
fingers through his whitening hair. In the past several months he had
sent five of his best men on dangerous missions--missions requiring
tact, courage, and, so it seemed, very much luck. And only two of the
five had come back. In those days the Interplanetary Flying Police did
not enjoy the tremendous prestige it does now. The mere presence of a
member of the Force is enough, in these humdrum days of interplanetary
law and order, to quell the most serious disturbance anywhere in the
solar system. But it was not always thus. This astounding prestige
had to be earned with blood and courage, in many a desperate and
lonely battle; had to be snatched from the dripping jaws of death.

       *       *       *       *       *

Olear checked over his flying ovoid, got his bearings from the port
astronomer, set his coordinate navigator and shoved off. Two weeks
later he plunged into the thick, misty atmosphere on the dark side of
Mercury.

Ancient astronomers had long suspected that Mercury always presented
the same side to the sun, though they were ignorant that the little
planet had water and air. Its sunward side is a dreary, sterile, hot
and hostile desert. Its dark side is warm and humid, and resembles to
some extent the better known jungles and swamps of Venus. But it has a
favored belt, some hundreds of miles wide, around its equator, where
the enormous sun stays perpetually in one spot on the horizon. Sunward
is the blinding glare of the desert; on the dark side, enormous banks
of lowering clouds. On the dark margin of this belt are the
"ringstorms," violent thunderstorms that never cease. They are the
source of the mighty rivers which irrigate the tropical habitable belt
and plunge out, boiling, far into the desert.

Olear's little ship passed through the ringstorms, and he did not take
over the controls until he recognized the familiar mark of the trading
company, a blue comet on the aluminum roof of one of the larger
buildings. Visibility was good that day, but despite the unusual
clarity of the atmosphere there was a suggestion of the sinister about
the lifeless scene--the vast, irresistible river, the riotously
colored jungle roof. The vastness of nature dwarfed man's puny work.
One horizon flashed incessantly with livid lightning, the other was
one blinding blaze of the nearby sun. And almost lost below in the
savage landscape was man's symbol of possession, a few metal sheds in
a clear, fenced space of a few acres.

Olear cautiously checked speed, skimmed over the turbid surface of the
great river, and set her down on the ground within the compound. With
his pencil-like ray-tube in his hand he stepped out of the hatchway.

       *       *       *       *       *

A Mercurian native came out of the residence, presently, his hands
together in the peace sign. For the benefit of Earthlubbers whose only
knowledge of Mercury is derived from the teleview screen, it should be
explained that Mercurians are _not_ human, even if they do slightly
resemble us. They hatch from eggs, pass one life-phase as frog-like
creatures in their rivers, and in the adult stage turn more human in
appearance. But their skin remains green and fish-belly white. There
is no hair on their warty heads. Their eyes have no lids, and have a
peculiar dead, staring look when they sleep. And they carry a
peculiar, fishy odor with them at all times.

This Mercurian looked at Olear seemingly without interest.

"Where is Morones?" the officer inquired.

"Morones?" the native piped, in English. "Inside. He busy."

"All right. I'm coming in."

"He busy."

"Yeah, move over."

Though the native was a good six inches taller than Olear he stepped
aside when the officer pushed him. Men--and Mercurians--had a way of
doing that when they looked into those colorless eyes. They were not
as phlegmatic as the face. Morones was sitting in his office.

"Well, I'm here," Olear announced, helping himself to a chair.

"Yes"--sourly. "Who invited you?"

Olear looked at the factor levelly, appraising him. A big man, fat,
but the fat well distributed. Saturnine face, dark hair, dark and
bristly beard. The kind that thrived where other men became weak and
fever-ridden. Also, to judge by his present appearance, an unpleasant
companion and a nasty enemy.

"Don't see what difference it makes to you," Olear answered in his own
good time; "but the company invited me."

"They would!" Morones growled. His eyes flickered to the door, and
quick as a cat, Olear leaped to one side, his ray-pencil in his hand.

Morones had not moved, and in the door stood the native, motionless
and without expression. Morones laughed nastily.

"Kind of jumpy, eh? What is it, Nargyll?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Nargyll burst into a burbling succession of native phrases, which
Olear had some difficulty following.

"Nargyll wants to move your ship into one of the sheds, but the
activator key's gone."

"Yeah, I know," Olear assented casually. "I got it. Leave the ship
till I get ready. Then I'll put it away. Get out, Nargyll."

The native, hesitated, then on the lift of Morones' eyebrows departed.
Olear shifted a chair so that he could watch both Morones and the
door. He reopened the conversation easily:

"Well, we understand each other. You don't want me here and I'm here.
So what are you going to do about it?"

Morones flushed. He struggled to keep his temper down.

"What do you want to know?"

"What happened to the factor who was here before you?"

"I don't know. The translucene wasn't coming in like it should. Sammis
went out into the jungle for a palaver with the chiefs to find out
why. And he didn't come back."

"You didn't find out where he went?"

"I just told you," Morones said impatiently, "he went out to see the
native chiefs."

"Alone?"

"Of course, alone. There were only two of us Earthmen here. Couldn't
abandon this post to the wogglies, could we? Not that it'd make much
difference. Except for Nargyll, none'll come near."

"You never heard of him again?"

"No! Dammit, no! Say, didn't they have any dumber strappers around
than you? I told you once--I tell you again--I never saw hide nor hair
of him after that."

"Aw-right, aw-right!" Olear regarded Morones placidly. "And so you
took the job of factor and radioed for an assistant, and when the
assistant came he disappeared."

Morones grunted, "He went out to get acquainted with the country and
didn't come back."

       *       *       *       *       *

Olear masked his close scrutiny of the factor under his idle and
expressionless gaze. He was not ready to jump to the conclusion that
Morones' uneasiness sprang from a sense of guilt. Guilty or not, he
had a right to feel uneasy. The man would be dense indeed if he did
not realize he was in line for suspicion, and he did not look dense.
Indeed, he was obviously a shrewd character.

"Let me see your 'lucene."

Morones rose. Despite his bulk he stepped nimbly. He had the
nimbleness of a Saturnian bear, which is great, as some of the earlier
explorers learned to their dismay.

"That's the first sensible question you've asked," Morones snorted.
"Take a look at our 'lucene. Ha! Have a good look!"

He led the way across the compound, waved his hand before the door of
a strongly built shed in a swift, definite combination, and the door
opened, revealing the interior. He waved invitingly.

"You go first," Olear said.

With a sneer Morones stepped in. "You're safe, boy, you're safe."

Olear looked at the small pile on the floor in astonishment. Instead
of the beautiful, semi-transparent chips of translucene, the dried sap
of a Mercurian tree which is invaluable to the world as the source of
an unfailing cancer cure, there were only a few dirty, dried up
shavings, hardly worth shipping back to Earth for refining. The full
significance of the affair began to dawn on the officer. The
translucene trees grew only in this favored section of Mercury, and
the Earth company had a monopoly of the entire supply. Justly, for
only on Earth was cancer known, and it was on the increase. That
small, almost useless pile on the floor connoted a terrible drug
famine for the human race.

       *       *       *       *       *

Morones' smile might have been a grin of satisfaction, at Olear's
question:

"Is that all you've bought since the last freighter was here?"'

"It is," he replied. "The last load went off six months ago, and this
here shed should be full to the eaves. There'll be hell to pay."

"It may not be tactful," Olear remarked, "but if you've got your
takings cached away somewhere to hold up the Earth for a big ransom,
you'd better come across right now. You can't get by with it, fellow.
You should have close to six million dollars' worth of it, and you
can't get away. You just can't."

Morones controlled his anger with an effort.

"Like any dumb strapper, you've got your mind made up, ain't you?
Well, go ahead. Get something on me. Here I was almost set to give you
a lead that might get you somewhere. And you come shooting
off--trying to make out I stole the 'lucene and killed those two
fellows, eh? Go ahead! Get something on me! But not on Company
grounds. You're leaving now!"

With that he made a lunge at the officer, quite beside himself with
rage. Olear could have burnt him down, but he was far too experienced
for such an amateurish trick. Instead he ducked to evade Morones'
blow. But the big man was as agile as a panther. In mid-air, so it
seemed, he changed his direction of attack. The big fist swept
downward, striking Olear's head a glancing blow.

But the men of the Force have always been fighters, whatever their
shortcomings as diplomats. Olear countered with a strong right to the
body, thudding solidly, for Morones' softness did not go far below the
surface. The factor whirled instantly, but not quite fast enough to
bar the door. Olear was out and inside his ship in a few seconds,
slamming the hatch.

"Tact!" he grinned to himself, inserting the activator key. "Tact is
what a fella needs." The little space flier shot aloft, until the tiny
figure of the factor stopped shaking its fist and entered the
residence. The post had a flier of its own, of course, but Morones was
too wise to use it in pursuit.

Olear considered what was best to do. Of course he could have placed
Morones under arrest; could still do it; but that would not solve the
mystery of the two deaths and the missing 'lucene. If the choleric
factor was really guilty of the crimes, it would be better to let him
go his way in the hope that he would betray himself. Olear regretted
that he had not kept his tongue under closer curb. But there was no
use regretting. Perhaps, after all, he ought to turn back to pump
Morones for some helpful information.

       *       *       *       *       *

His mind made up, he descended again until he was hovering a few feet
from the ground.

"Morones!" he called. "Morones!" He held the hatch open.

Morones came to the door of the residence. He had a tube in his hand,
a long-range weapon.

"Morones," Olear declared pompously. "I place you under arrest!"

The effect was instantaneous. Morones lifted the tube, and a
glimmering, iridescent beam sprang out. The ship was up and away in a
second, lurching and shivering uncomfortably every time the beam
struck it in its upward flight. A good few seconds continued
impingement....

But a miss is as good as a light-year. Miles high, Olear looked into
his telens. Morones had laid aside his tube and was working with an
instrument like a twin transit. Plotting the ship's course, naturally.
Olear set his course for the Earth, and kept on it for a good
twenty-four hours. Morones, if he was still watching him, would think
he'd gone back for reinforcements. Such an assumption would be
incredible now, but that was before the I. F. P. had achieved its
present tremendous reputation.

Beyond observation range, Olear curved back toward Mercury again, and
was almost inside its atmosphere when he made a discovery that caused
him to lose for a moment his natural indifference, and to clamp his
jaws in anger. The current oxygen tank became empty, and when he
removed it from the rack and put in a new one he found someone had let
out all of this essential gas. The valve of every one of the spare
tanks had been opened. Had Olear actually continued on his way to
Earth he would have perished miserably of suffocation long before he
could have returned to the Mercurian atmosphere. The officer whistled
tunelessly through his teeth as he considered this fact.

The visibility was by this time normal; that is, so poor it would have
been possible to land very close to the trading station. Olear was
taking no chances, however, and came down a good three Earth miles
away. The egg-shaped hull sank through the glossy, brilliant treetops,
through twisted vines, and was buried in the dank gloom of the jungle.
Here it might remain hidden for a hundred years.

       *       *       *       *       *

The twilight of the jungle was almost darkness. Landmarks were not.
But Olear made a few small, inconspicuous marks on trees with his
knife until he came to an outcropping rock. He had noticed the
scarlike white of it slashing through the jungle from the air, and
used it as a guide to direct his stealthy return to the trading post.
His belt chronometer told him it would be about time for Morones to
get up from his "night's" sleep. A little discreet observation might
tell much.

Long before he reached the compound, Olear heard the rushing of the
great Blue River in its headlong plunge to the corrosive heat of the
desert. And then, through the mists, he glimpsed the white metal walls
of the Company sheds.

He climbed a tree and for a long time watched patently, lying prone on
a limb. Blood-sucking insects tortured him, and flat tree-lice,
resembling discs with legs, crawled over him inquisitively. Olear
tolerated them with stoic indifference until at last his patience was
rewarded. Morones was coming out of the compound. He was alone and
obviously did not suspect that he was being watched, for he stepped
out briskly. Once in the jungle he walked even faster, watching out
warily for the panther-like carnivora that were the most dangerous to
man on Mercury.

Olear shinned to the ground and followed cautiously. Morones had his
ray-tube with him, as any traveler in these jungles did. Olear could
and did draw fast, but a dead trader would be valueless to him in his
investigation, so he stalked him with every faculty strained to
maintain complete silence. Often, in occasional clearings where the
brown darkness grew less, he had to grovel on the slimy ground,
picking up large bacteria that could be seen with the naked eye, and
which left tiny, festering red marks on the skin. Mercury has no
snakes.

The trader seemed to be heading for higher ground, for the path led
ever upward, though not far from the tossing waters of the river. And
then, suddenly, he disappeared.

Olear did not immediately hurry after him. A canny fugitive, catching
sight of his pursuer, might suddenly drop to the ground and squirm to
the side of the trail, there to wait and catch his pursuer as he
passed. So Olear sidled into the all but impenetrable underbrush and
slowly, with infinite caution, wormed his way along.

       *       *       *       *       *

Presently he came to the little rise of ground where Morones had
disappeared, but a painstaking search did not reveal the factor. There
were, however, a number of other trails that joined the very faint
trail he had been following, and now there was a well-defined track
which continued to lead upward. With a grimace of disgust Olear again
plunged into the odorous underbrush and traveled parallel to the
trail. It was well he did so, for several Mercurians passed swiftly,
intent, so it seemed, in answering a shrill call that at times came
faintly to the ear. They carried slender spears.

Several more Mercurians passed. The growth was thinning out, and Olear
did not dare to proceed further. However, from his hiding place he
could discern a number of irregular cave openings, apparently leading
downward. They were apparently the entrances to one of the native
cavern colonies, or possibly of a meeting place. No Earthman had ever
entered one, but it was thought they had underground openings into the
river.

As the cave openings were obviously natural, Olear conjectured that
there might be others that were not used. After an anxious search he
found one, narrow and irregular, well hidden under the broad, glossy
leaves of some uncatalogued vegetation. As it showed no evidence of
use, Olear unhesitatingly slid down into it. It was very narrow and
irregular, so that often he was barely able to squeeze through. The
roots of trees choked the passage for a dozen feet or so, requiring
the vigorous use of a knife. Bathed in sweat, his uniform a filthy
mass of rags, Olear at last saw light.

The passage ended abruptly near the roof of a large natural cavern.
Lights glistened on stalactites which cut off Olear's larger view, and
voices came from below. By craning his neck the officer could look
between the pendent icicles of rock and see a fire burning on a huge
oblong block of stone. Figures were sitting on the floor around this
block--hundreds of Mercurians. The leaping flames made their white and
green faces and bodies look frog-like and less human than usual.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the figure that dominated the whole assemblage, both by its own
hugeness and the magnetic power that flowed from it, was not of
Mercury but of Pluto. For the benefit of those who have never seen a
stuffed Plutonian in our museums--and they are very rare--let me refer
you to the pious books still to be found in ancient library
collections. The ancients personified their fears and hates in a being
they called the Devil. The resemblance between the Devil of their
imagination and a Plutonian is really astounding. Horns, hoofs,
tail--almost to the smallest detail, the resemblance is there.

Philosophers have written books on the "coincidence" in appearance of
the ancient Devil and the modern decadent Plutonians. The Plutonians
were once numerous and far advanced in science, and no doubt they
called on the Earth many times, in prehistoric days, and the so-called
Devil was a true picture of those vicious invaders, who are somewhat
less human than usually portrayed. What was once classed as
superstition was therefore a true racial memory. Long before our
ancestors came out of their caves to build houses, the Plutonians had
mastered interplanetary travel--only to forget the secret until human
ingenuity should reveal it once more.

The modern Plutonian in that dank cave was over ten feet tall, and it
is easy to see why he dominated the assemblage. His black visage was
set in an evil smile; his ebony body glistened in the firelight. He
held a three-pronged spear in one hand, and sat on a pile of rocks, a
sort of rough throne, so that he towered magnificently above all
others.

He spoke the Mercurian language, although the liquid intonations came
harshly from his sneering lips.

"Are ye assembled, frogfolk, that ye may hear the decision of your
Thinking Ones?" he asked.

       *       *       *       *       *

A respectful peeping chorus signified assent. But in that there was a
hint of unrest; even of fear.

"Speak, ye Thinking One, your commands!"

"Hear me first!" An old Mercurian, unusually tall, faded and dry
looking, his thick hide wrinkled like crushed leather, rose slowly to
his feet and stepped before the oblong stone. His back was to the
Plutonian, his face to the crescent of chiefs.

"The Old Wise One!" A twittering murmur went around the assemblage.
"Hear the Old Wise One!"

"My people, I like this not!" began the ancient. "The Lords of the
Green Star[1] have dealt with us fairly. Each phase[2] they have
brought us the things we wanted"--he touched his spear and a few gaudy
ornaments on his otherwise naked body--"in exchange for the worthless
white sap of our trees. If we longer offend the Lords of the Green
Star--"

[Footnote 1: In their various languages, almost all solar races call
Earth "The Green Star." Although conditions on Mercury are
unfavorable, Earth can be seen from the dark star, on mountain tops,
during occasional dispersals of the cloud masses.]

[Footnote 2: The Mercurians had no conception of time before the
Earthmen came. A "phase" is the time between calls of the freight
ships, and is therefore variable; but in those days it was about six
or seven months.]

A raucous laugh interrupted the Mercurian's feeble voice, and it
echoed eerily from the walls of the chamber.

"Valueless ye call the white sap?" sneered the Plutonian. "Hear me.
That sap you call valueless is dearer than life itself to the Lords of
the Green Star. For they are afflicted in great numbers with a
stinking death they call cancer. It destroys their vitals, and
nothing--nothing in this broad universe can help them save this white
sap ye give them. In your hands ye have the power to bring the proud
Lords of the Green Star to their knees. They would fill this chamber
many times with their most priceless treasures for the sap ye give
them so freely. Withhold the sap, and your Thinking Ones may go to the
Green Star itself to rule over its Lords. They are desperate. Their
emissaries may even now be on the way to beg your pleasure. Speak,
Thinking Ones! Would ye not rule the Green Star?"

       *       *       *       *       *

But the chiefs failed to become enthused. One of them rose and
addressed the Plutonian:

"O Lord of the Outer Orbit! For near one full phase have ye dwelt
among us. And well should ye know we have no desire for conquest. We
fear to go to the Green Star to rule."

"Then let me rule for ye!" exclaimed the Plutonian instantly. "My
brothers will abide with ye as your guests--shall see that ye receive
a fair reward for the white sap; and I will convey your commands to
the Lords of the Green Star."

The Old Wise One raised his withered hands, so that the uncertain
twittering of voices which followed the Plutonian's suggestion
subsided.

"My children," piped the feeble old voice, "the Black Lord has spoken
cunning words, but they are false. It is plain to see that he desires
to rule the Green Star, and our welfare does not concern him."

"If so it be that the white sap is of great value to the Lords of the
Green Star, it is still of no value to us; and if the gifts they bring
to us are of no value to them, they are dear to us."

The Plutonian sneered.

"Dearer than the Paste of Strange Dreams?"

A startled hush fell among the assembled Mercurians. They looked
guiltily at one another, avoiding the eyes of the Old Wise One.

"What is this?" shrilled he, turning furiously to the Plutonian. "Have
ye brought the paste of evil to our abode, knowing well the strict
proscription of our tribe? Fool! Your death is upon ye!"

       *       *       *       *       *

But the Plutonian only grinned and spread his glistening, black hands
in a careless gesture. High overhead, peering through the
stalactites, Olear instantly understood the Plutonian's strange power,
the Paste of Strange Dreams, a fearsome narcotic of that far-swinging
dark planet. More insidious and devastating than any drug ever
produced on Earth, it had wrought frightful havoc among many solar
races. The Earthmen had opened the lanes, broken the age-old barriers
of distance, so that the harpies of evil could traffic their poison
from planet to planet. So the Paste of Strange Dreams was added to the
Earthman's burden.

"Seize him--the Evil One!" shrieked the old chief, but the Mercurians
sat sullen and silent, and the Plutonian sneered.

Finally one of the chiefs arose and with an effort faced the Old Wise
One and said:

"The Strange Dreams are dearer to us than all else. Do as he says."

The piping voices rose in eager acclamation, but the Old Wise One held
up his claws, waiting until silence returned.

"Wait! Wait! Before ye commit this folly, hear the Green Star man.
Many times has he demanded audience. Let him come in."

"It is not permitted," demurred one of the chiefs.

"Ye permitted this being of evil to enter; let him enter also."

"He is in the outer chambers now," one of the guards spoke. "His face
is like the center of a ringstorm."

"Let him enter!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Morones strode into the room angrily. Blinded by the fire after the
darkness of the antechambers, he did not at first see the Plutonian.
He strode up to the ancient chief and glared at him.

"Does the Old Wise One learn wisdom at last?" he rasped. The ancient
shrank away from him, as did the nearer of the lesser chiefs.

"The Old Wise One thinks less of his wisdom," he replied wearily.
"Behold!" He pointed to the enthroned Plutonian.

Morones started. His hand flashed to his side, and came away empty.
Deft fingers had extracted his ray-tube. But he was a man of courage.
Never could it be said to his shame that an Earthman cringed in the
sight of lesser races.

"So it's you, my sooty friend!" he snarled in English. The Plutonian,
accomplished linguist, replied:

"As you see. You don't look very happy, Mr. Morones."

Morones regarded him impassively, his eyes frosty.

"That explains everything," he said at last with cold deliberation.
"First Sammis, then Boyd. Going to finish me next, I suppose?"

The Plutonian twisted the end of an eyebrow and smiled.

"Interested in them?"

"What'd you do with the bodies?"

The Plutonian jerked his thumb carelessly. "The river you call the
Blue is swift and deep. But before you follow them there is certain
information I wish to get from you. Where is the soldier who came to
visit you?"

A crafty light came into Morones' face.

"He is not far from here, waiting for me."

       *       *       *       *       *

Olear, in his cramped hiding place, could not help feeling a warm glow
of admiration for Morones' nerve, because Morones thought him well on
his way to Earth.

"Nargyll, what did your master do with the visitor?"

"Drove him back to the Green Star," Nargyll said promptly.

"And the oxygen tanks. Did you empty them?"

"I let them hiss." Nargyll's grin was sharkish.

"News to you, eh, Morones? Your officer's corpse has probably dropped
into the sun by this time. Tell me, why did you drive him off?"

Morones sagged perceptibly. To gain a little time he said truthfully:

"I knew I should be blamed and ruined for life. I didn't know you were
here, damn you! I hoped to get this mess with the natives straightened
up before he'd come back with reinforcements."

"Yes. Well, you owe some months of life already. Your presence here
has been more or less embarrassing, but I had to let you live or I'd
have had the whole I. F. P. here to investigate. Now that you've
failed in keeping them from getting interested you may do me one more
service." The black giant grinned.

"I've often wondered at the Earthman's prestige all over the solar
system. Even to-night, soft and helpless as you are, these natives
fear you. You will, therefore, be an object lesson in the helplessness
of Earthmen."

       *       *       *       *       *

Morones was pale but courageous. With contempt in every line of him he
watched some of the less frightened chiefs, at the command of the
Plutonian, push aside some of the blazing blocks of fungus on the
stone, to make room for his body. At last he raised his hand.

"Frogfolk!" he cried, "if ye do this thing, the Lords of the Green
Star will come. They will come with fires hotter than the sun; they
will blast your rivers with a power greater than the thunder of the
ringstorms; they will fill your caves with a purple smoke that turns
your bones to water--"

Shrill cries of fear almost drowned out his words. All the Mercurians
had seen evidences of the dreadful power of the Earthmen. They began
milling around, then stood rooted by the roar of the Plutonian's
voice.

"Lies! Lies!" he bellowed. "See, they are weak as egglets!" He stepped
down, picked Morones up by one shoulder, and held him, dangling, high
over the heads of all. Morones clawed and tore at the brawny arm. He
made a ludicrous picture. Soon the simple natives made a sniffling
sound of mirth, and the Plutonian, satisfied at last, set him down
again.

"He tells truth!" The Old Wise One had climbed to the top of the stone
block. "The Lords of the Green Star have their power not in their
bodies, but it is great. It is greater far than the frogfolk. It is
greater than the Lords of the Outer Orbit. They will come even as the
surly one has said, and great shall be our sorrow. It is not yet too
late. Release him, and deliver to him the white sap. Seize this evil
one--"

The feeble, fickle minds were being swayed again. In a gust of
impatience, the Plutonian stepped down, seized the aged chief's skinny
body in his great black hands, and snapped him in two. There was a
tearing of tough cords and tissue, and the two halves fell into the
fire.

For an instant the Mercurians were stunned. Then some of them vented
hissing sounds of rage, while others prostrated themselves on the
floor. The black giant watched them narrowly for a moment, then turned
his attention to Morones. He seized him by the arm and drew him slowly
and irresistibly to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

The murder of the Old Wise One had been done so quickly that Olear was
unable to prevent it. Had he been able to use his ray weapon he could
have burned the Plutonian down, but it had been bent at one of the
narrow turns of the crevice he had come down. The need for extreme
lightness in weapons was rather overdone in those early times, and a
little rough handling made them useless.

So now Olear, weaponless except for the service knife at his belt,
began the hazardous undertaking of climbing among the stalactites to a
position approximately above the Plutonian's head. The job required
judgment. Some of the stone masses were insecurely anchored and would
crash down at the lightest touch. Some were spaced so closely together
that he could not get between them. Others were so far apart that it
was difficult to get from one to another.

Yet he made it somehow, and unnoticed, for all eyes were turned on the
tense drama being enacted below. From almost directly overhead he saw
Morones being drawn upward.

"You saw," the Plutonian was saying triumphantly in Mercurian, "--you
saw me unmake your Old Fool. And now you will see that a Lord of the
Green Star is even softer, even weaker--"

Morones, in that pitiless grasp, turned his face to the hateful
grinning visage above him. In his last extremity he was still angry.

"You devil!" Morones shouted. "You may murder me, but they'll get you!
They'll get you!"

"Who'll get me?" the Plutonian purred silkily, deferring the pleasure
of the kill for another moment. Morones was having trouble with his
breathing. His red face lolled from side to side, his eyes rolled in
agony. Suddenly he saw Olear. Unbelieving, he relaxed.

"I'm seein' things!" he breathed.

"Who'll get me?" persisted the Plutonian, applying a little more
pressure.

"The I. F. P.!" Morones gasped.

"Well, you little son-of-a-gun!" Olear thought, and then he jumped.

He landed a-straddle the neck of the Plutonian, which was almost like
forking a horse. One brawny arm seized a horn. The other, with a
lightning-swift dart, brought the point of the long service-knife to
the pulsing black throat.

"Put him down!" Olear spoke into the great pointed ear. "Easy!"

Back on his feet, Morones began bellowing at the Mercurians. Utterly
demoralized, they fled pell-mell. Morones came back. He said:

"Nothing to tie him up with."

"That's all right," Olear replied, studiously keeping the knife point
at exactly the right place, "I'll ride him in. Get going, you, and be
tactful when you go through the door, or this sticker of mine might
slip!" With extreme care the Plutonian did exactly as Olear ordered
him to.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was necessary to radio for one of the larger patrol ships to take
Olear's enormous prisoner back to Earth for his trial. The officer
testified, of course, and the Plutonian was duly sentenced to death
for the murder of the old Mercurian. Execution by dehydration was
decreed, so that the body would be uninjured for scientific study; and
to-day it is considered one of the finest specimens extant.

In his testimony, however, Olear so minimized his own connection with
the case that he received no public recognition. It was not until some
months afterward, when Morones, on leave, rode back with a shipload of
translucene, that the whole story came out, emphatically and
profanely. Olear finally consented to speak a few words for the
Telephoto News Co. As he stepped off the little platform deferential
hands tried to push him back.

"You haven't told them who you are," protested the announcer. "Give
your name and rank."

"Aw, they don't have to know that!" Olear rejoined, keeping on going.
"They know it's one of the Force. That's all they have to know.
Besides there's a blackjack game going on and I'm losing money every
minute I'm out of it."



The Exile of Time

PART THREE OF A FOUR-PART NOVEL

_By Ray Cummings_


WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE

[Illustration: _"Look!" exclaimed Larry._]

[Sidenote: Larry and George from 1935, Mary from 1777--all are caught
up in the treacherous Tugh's revolt of the Robots, in the Time-world
of 2930.]


There came a girl's scream, and muffled, frantic words.

"Let me out! Let me out!"

Then we saw her white face at the basement window. This, which was the
start of the extraordinary incidents, occurred on the night of June
8-9, 1935.

My name is George Rankin, and with my friend, Larry Gregory, we
rescued the girl who was imprisoned in the deserted house on Patton
Place, New York City. We thought at first that she was demented--this
strangely beautiful girl in long white satin dress, white powdered wig
and a black beauty patch on her check. She said she had come from the
year 1777, that her father was Major Atwood, of General Washington's
staff! Her name was Mistress Mary Atwood.

It was a strange story she had to tell us. A cage of shining metal
bars had materialized in her garden, and a mechanical man had come
from it--a Robot ten feet tall. It had captured her; brought her to
1935; left her, and vanished saying it would return.

We went back to that house on Patton Place. The cage did return, and
Larry and I fought the strange monster. We were worsted, and the Robot
seized Mary and me and whirled us back into Time in its room-like cage
of shining bars. Larry recovered his senses, rushed into Patton
Place, and there encountered another, smaller, Time-traveling cage,
and was himself taken off in it.

But the occupants of Larry's smaller cage were friendly. They were a
man and a girl of 2930 A.D.! The girl was the Princess Tina, and the
man, Harl, a young scientist of that age. With an older scientist--a
cripple named Tugh--Harl had invented the Time-vehicles.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had heard of Tugh before. Mary Atwood had known him in the year
1777. He had made love to her, and when repulsed had threatened
vengeance against her father. And in 1932, a cripple named Tugh had
gotten into trouble with the police and had vowed some strange weird
vengeance against the city officials and the city itself. More than
that, the very house on Patton Place from which we had rescued Mary
Atwood, was owned by this man named Tugh, who was wanted by the police
but could not be found!

Tugh's vengeance was presently demonstrated, for in June, 1935, a
horde of Robots appeared. With flashing swords and red and violet
light beams the mechanical men spread about the city massacring the
people; they brought midsummer snow with their frigid red rays; and
then, in a moment, torrid heat and boiling rain. Three days and nights
of terror ensued; then the Robots silently withdrew into the house on
Patton Place and vanished. The New York City of 1935 lay wrecked; the
vengeance of Tugh against it was complete.

Larry, going back in Time now, was told by Harl and Princess Tina that
a Robot named Migul--a mechanism almost human from the Time-world of
2930--had stolen the larger cage and was running amuck through Time.
The strange world of 2930 was described to Larry--a world in which
nearly-human mechanisms did all the work. These Robots, diabolically
developed, were upon the verge of revolt. The world of machinery was
ready to assail its human masters!

Migul was an insubordinate Robot, and Harl and Tina were chasing it.
They whirled Larry back into Time, and they saw the larger cage stop
at a night in the year 1777--the same night from which Mary Atwood had
been stolen. They stopped there. Harl remained in the little cage to
guard it, while Tina and Larry went outside.

It was night, and the house of Major Atwood was nearby. British
redcoats had come to capture the colonial officer; but all they found
was his murdered body lying in the garden. Migul the Robot had chained
Mary and me to the door of his cage; had briefly stopped in the garden
and killed the major, and then had departed with us.

       *       *       *       *       *

We now went back to the Beginning of Time, for the other cage was
again chasing us. Reaching the Beginning, we swept forward, and the
whole vast panorama of the events of Time passed in review before us.
Suddenly we found that Tugh himself was hiding in our cage! We had not
known it, nor had Migul, our Robot captor. Tugh was hiding here, not
trusting Migul to carry out his orders!

We realized now that all these events were part of the wild vengeance
of this hideously repulsive cripple. Migul was a mere machine carrying
out Tugh's orders. Tugh, in 2930, was masquerading as a friend of the
Government; but in reality it was he who was fomenting the revolt of
the Robots.

Tugh now took command of our cage. The smaller cage had only Harl in
it now, for Larry and Tina were marooned in 1777. Harl was chasing us.
Tugh stopped us in the year 762 A.D. We found that the space around
us now was a forest recently burned. Five hundred feet from us was the
space which held Harl's cage.

Presently it materialized! Mary and I were helpless. We stood watching
Tugh, as he crouched on the floor of our cage near its opened doorway.
A ray cylinder was in his hand, with a wire running to a battery in
the cage corner. He had forced Mary and me to stand at the window
where Harl would see us and be lured to approach.

From Harl's cage, five hundred feet across the blackened forest glade
of that day of 762, Harl came cautiously forward. Abruptly Tugh fired.
His cylinder shot a horizontal beam of intense actinic light. It
struck Harl full, and he fell.

Swiftly his body decomposed; and soon in the sunlight of the glade lay
a sagging heap of black and white garments enveloping the skeleton of
what a moment before had been a man!


CHAPTER XIV

A Very Human Princess

That night in 1777 near the home of the murdered Major Atwood brought
to Larry the most strangely helpless feeling he had ever experienced.
He crouched with Tina beneath a tree in a corner of the field, gazing
with horror at the little moonlit space by the fence where their
Time-traveling vehicle should have been but now was gone.

Marooned in 1777! Larry had not realized how desolately remote this
Revolutionary New York was from the great future city in which he had
lived. The same space; but what a gulf between him and 1935! What a
barrier of Time, impassable without the shining cage!

They crouched, whispering. "But why would he have gone, Tina?"

"I don't know. Harl is very careful; so something or someone must have
passed along here, and he left, rather than cause a disturbance. He
will return, of course."

"I hope so," whispered Larry fervently. "We are marooned here, Tina!
Heavens, it would be the end of us!"

"We must wait. He will return."

They huddled in the shadow of the tree. Behind them there was a
continued commotion at the Atwood home, and presently the mounted
British officers came thudding past on the road, riding for
headquarters at the Bowling Green to report the strange Atwood murder.

The night wore on. Would Harl return? If not to-night, then probably
to-morrow, or to-morrow night. In spite of his endeavor to stop
correctly, he could so easily miss this night, these particular hours.

Harl had met his death, as I have described. We never knew exactly
what he did, of course, after leaving that night of 1777. It seems
probable, however, that some passer-by startled him into flashing away
into Time. Then he must have seen with his instrument evidence of the
other cage passing, and impulsively followed it--to his death in the
burned forest of the year 762.

       *       *       *       *       *

Larry and Tina waited. The dawn presently began paling the stars; and
still Harl did not come. The little space by the fence corner was
empty.

"It will soon be daylight," Larry whispered. "We can't stay here:
we'll be discovered."

They were anachronisms in this world; misfits; futuristic beings who
dared not show themselves.

Larry touched his companion--the slight little creature who was a
Princess in her far-distant future age. But to Larry now she was just
a girl.

"Frightened, Tina?"

"A little."

He laughed softly. "It would be fearful to be marooned here
permanently, wouldn't it? You don't think Harl would desert us?
Purposely, I mean?"

"No, of course not."

"Then we'll expect him to-morrow night. He wouldn't stop in the
daylight, I guess."

"I don't think so. He would reason that I would not expect him."

"Then we must find shelter, and food, and be here to-morrow night. It
seems long to us, Tina, but in the cage it's just an instant--just a
trifle different setting of the controls."

She smiled her pale, stern smile. "You have learned quickly, Larry.
That is true."

A sudden emotion swept him. His hand found hers; and her fingers
answered the pressure of his own. Here in this remote Time-world they
felt abruptly drawn together.

He murmured, "Tina, you are--" But he never finished.

The cage was coming! They stood tense, watching the fence corner
where, in the flat dawn light, the familiar misty shadow was
gathering. Harl was returning to them.

The cage flashed silently into being. They stood peering, ready to run
to it. The door slid aside.

       *       *       *       *       *

But it was not Harl who came out. It was Tugh, the cripple. He stood
in the doorway, a thick-set, barrel-chested figure of a man in a wide
leather jacket, a broad black belt and short flaring leather
pantaloons.

"Tugh!" exclaimed Tina.

The cripple advanced. "Princess, is it you?" He was very wary. His
gaze shot at Larry and back to Tina. "And who is this?"

A hideously repulsive fellow, Larry thought this Tugh. He saw his
shriveled, bent legs, crooked hips, and wide thick shoulders set
askew--a goblin, in a leather jerkin. His head was overlarge, with a
bulging white forehead and a mane of scraggly black hair shot with
grey. But Larry could not miss the intellectuality marking his
heavy-jowled face; the keenness of his dark-eyed gaze.

These were instant impressions. Tina had drawn Larry forward. "Where
is Harl?" she demanded imperiously. "How have you come to have the
cage, Tugh?"

"Princess, I have much to tell," he answered, and his gaze roved the
field. "But it is dangerous here; I am glad I have found you. Harl
sent me to this night, but I struck it late. Come, Tina--and your
strange-looking friend."

It impressed Larry then, and many times afterward, that Tugh's gaze at
him was mistrustful, wary.

"Come, Larry," said Tina. And again she demanded of Tugh, "I ask you,
where is Harl?"

"At home. Safe at home, Princess." He gestured toward Major Atwood's
house, which now in the growing daylight showed more plainly under its
shrouding trees. "That space off there holds our other cage as you
know, Tina. You and Harl were pursuing that other cage?"

"Yes," she agreed.

       *       *       *       *       *

They had stopped at the doorway, where Tugh stood slightly inside.
Larry whispered:

"What does this mean, Tina?"

Tugh said, "Migul, the mechanism, is running wild in the other cage.
But you and Harl knew that?"

"Yes," she answered, and said softly to Larry, "We will go. But,
Larry, watch this Tugh! Harl and I never trusted him."

Tugh's manner was a combination of the self-confidence of a man of
standing and the deference due his young Princess. He was closing the
door, and saying:

"Migul, that crazy, insubordinate machine, captured a man from 1935
and a girl from 1777. But they are safe: he did not harm them. Harl is
with them."

"In our world, Tugh?"

"Yes; at home. And we have Migul chained. Harl captured and subdued
him."

Tugh was at the controls. "May I take you and this friend of yours
home, Princess?"

She whispered to Larry, "I think it is best, don't you?"

Larry nodded.

She murmured, "Be watchful, Larry!" Then, louder: "Yes, Tugh. Take
us."

Tugh was bending over the controls.

"Ready now?"

"Yes," said Tina.

Larry's senses reeled momentarily as the cage flashed off into Time.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a smooth story which Tugh had to tell them; and he told it
smoothly. His dark eyes swung from Tina to Larry.

"I talked with that other young man from your world. George Rankin, he
said his name was. He is somewhat like you: dressed much the same and
talks little. The girl calls herself Mary Atwood." He went on and told
them an elaborate, glib story, all of which was a lie. It did not
wholly deceive Larry and Tina, yet they could not then prove it false.
The gist of it was that Mary and I were with Harl and the subdued
Migul in 2930.

"It is strange that Harl did not come for us himself," said Tina.

Tugh's gaze was imperturbable as he answered. "He is a clever young
man, but he cannot be expected to handle these controls with my skill,
Princess, and he knows it; so he sent me. You see, he wanted very much
to strike just this night and this hour, so as not to keep you
waiting."

He added, "I am glad to have you back. Things are not well at home,
Princess. This insubordinate adventure of Migul's has been bad for the
other mechanisms. News of it has spread, and the revolt is very near.
What we are to do I cannot say, but I do know we did not like your
absence."

The trip which Larry and Tina now took to 2930 A.D. consumed, to their
consciousness of the passing of Time, some three hours. They
discovered that they were hungry, and Tugh produced food and drink.

Larry spent much of the time with Tina at the window, gazing at the
changing landscape while she told him of the events which to her were
history--the recorded things on the Time-scroll which separated her
world and his.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tugh busied himself about the vehicle and left them much to
themselves. They had ample opportunity to discuss him and his story of
Harl. It must be remembered that Larry had no knowledge of Tugh, save
the story which Alten had told of a cripple named Tugh in New York in
1933-34; and Mary Atwood's mention of the coincidence of the Tugh she
knew in 1777.

But Tina had known this Tugh for years. Though she, like Harl, had
never liked him, nevertheless he was a trusted and influential man in
her world. Proof of his activities in other Time-worlds, there was
none so far, from Tina's viewpoint. Nor did Larry and Tina know as yet
of the devastation of New York in 1935; nor of the murder of Major
Atwood. The capture of Mary and me, the fight with the Robot in the
back yard of the house on Patton Place--in all these incidents of the
bandit cage, only Migul had figured. Migul--an insubordinate, crazy
mechanism running amuck.

Yet upon Larry and Tina was a premonition that Tugh, here with them
now and so suavely friendly, was their real enemy.

"I wouldn't trust him," Larry whispered, "any further than I can see
him. He's planning something, but I don't know what."

"But perhaps--and this I have often thought, Larry--perhaps it is his
aspect. He looks so repulsive--"

Larry shook his head. "He does, for a fact; but I don't mean that.
What Mary Atwood told me of the Tugh she knew, described the fellow.
And so did Alten describe him. And in 1934 he murdered a girl: don't
forget that, Tina--he, or someone who looked remarkably like him, and
had the same name."

But they knew that the best thing they could do now was to get to
2930. Larry wanted to join me again, and Tugh maintained I was there.
Well, they would soon find out....

       *       *       *       *       *

As they passed the shadowy world of 1935, a queer emotion gripped
Larry. This was his world, and he was speeding past it to the future.
He realized then that he wanted to be assured of my safety, and that
of Mary Atwood and Harl; but what lay closest to his heart was the
welfare of the Princess Tina. Princess? He never thought of her as
that, save that it was a title she carried. She seemed just a small,
strangely-solemn white-faced girl. He could not conceive returning to
his own world and having her speed on, leaving him forever.

His thoughts winged ahead. He touched Tina as they stood together at
the window gazing out at the shadowy New York City. It was now 1940.

"Tina," he said, "if our friends are safe in your world--"

"If only they are, Larry!"

"And if your people there are in trouble, in danger--you will let me
help?"

She turned abruptly to regard him, and he saw a mist of tenderness in
the dark pools of her eyes.

"In history, Larry, I have often been interested in reading of a
strange custom outgrown by us and supposed to be meaningless. Yet
maybe it is not. I mean--"

She was suddenly breathless. "I mean even a Princess, as they call me,
likes to--to be human. I want to--I mean I've often wondered--and
you're so dear--I want to try it. Was it like this? Show me."

She reached up, put her arms about his neck and kissed him!


CHAPTER XV

_A Thousand Years into the Future_

1930 to 2930--a thousand years in three hours. It was sufficiently
slow traveling so that Larry could see from the cage window the actual
detailed flow of movement: the changing outline of material objects
around him. There had been the open country of Revolutionary times
when this space was north of the city. It was a grey, ghostly
landscape of trees and the road and the shadowy outlines of the Atwood
house five hundred feet away.

Larry saw the road widen. The fence suddenly was gone. The trees were
suddenly gone. The shapes of houses were constantly appearing; then
melting down again, with others constantly rearing up to take their
places; and always there were more houses, and larger, more enduring
ones. And then the Atwood house suddenly melted: a second or two, and
all evidence of it and the trees about it were gone.

There was no road; it was a city street now; and it had widened so
that the cage was poised near the middle of it. And presently the
houses were set solid along its borders.

At 1910 Larry began to recognize the contour of the buildings: The
antiquated Patton Place. But the flowing changing outlines adjusted
themselves constantly to a more familiar form. The new apartment
house, down the block in which Larry and I lived, rose and assembled
itself like a materializing spectre. A wink or two of Larry's eyelids
and it was there. He recalled the months of its construction.

The cage, with Larry as a passenger, could not have stopped in these
years: he realized it, now. There was a nameless feeling, a repulsion
against stopping; it was indescribable, but he was aware of it. He had
lived these years once, and they were forbidden to him again.

The cage was still in its starting acceleration. They swept through
the year 1935, and then Larry was indefinably aware that the forbidden
area had passed.

       *       *       *       *       *

They went through those few days of June, 1935, during which Tugh's
Robots had devastated the city, but it was too brief an action to make
a mark that Larry could see. It left a few very transitory marks,
however. Larry noticed that along the uneven line of ghostly
roof-tops, blobs of emptiness had appeared; he saw a short distance
away that several of the houses had melted down into ragged, tumbled
heaps. These were where the bombs had struck, dropped by the
Government planes in an endeavor to wreck the Tugh house from which
the Robots were appearing. But the ragged, broken areas were filled in
a second--almost as soon as Larry realized they were there--and new
and larger buildings than before appeared.

At sight of all this he murmured to Tina, "Something has happened
here. I wonder what?"

He chanced to turn, and saw that Tugh was regarding him very queerly;
but in a moment he forgot it in the wonders of the passage into his
future.

This growing, expanding city! It had seemed a giant to Larry in 1935,
especially after he had compared it to what it was in 1777. But now,
in 1950, and beyond to the turn of the century, he stood amazed at the
enormity of the shadowy structures rearing their spectral towers
around him. For some years Patton Place, a backward section, held its
general form; then abruptly the city engulfed it. Larry saw monstrous
buildings of steel and masonry rising a thousand feet above him. For
an instant, as they were being built he saw their skeleton outlines;
and then they were complete. Yet they were not enduring, for in every
flowing detail they kept changing.

An overhead sidewalk went like a balcony along what had been Patton
Place. Bridges and archways spanned the street. Then there came a
triple bank of overhead roadways. A distance away, a hundred feet
above the ground level, the shadowy form of what seemed a monorail
structure showed for a moment. It endured for what might have been a
hundred years, and then it was gone....

       *       *       *       *       *

This monstrous city! By 2030 there was a vast network of traffic
levels over what had been a street. It was an arcade, now, open at the
top near the cage; but further away Larry saw where the giant
buildings had flowed and mingled over it, with the viaducts, spider
bridges and pedestrian levels plunging into tunnels to pierce through
them.

And high overhead, where the little sky which was left still showed,
Larry saw the still higher outlines of a structure which quite
evidently was a huge aerial landing stage for airliners.

It was an incredible city! There were spots of enduring light around
Larry now--the city lights which for months and years shone here
unchanged. The cage was no longer outdoors. The street which had
become an open arcade was now wholly closed. A roof was overhead--a
city roof, to shut out the inclement weather. There was artificial
light and air and weather down here, and up on the roof additional
space for the city's teeming activities.

Larry could see only a shadowy narrow vista, here indoors, but his
imagination supplied visions of what the monstrous, incredible city
must be. There was a roof, perhaps, over all Manhattan. Bridges and
viaducts would span to the great steel and stone structures across the
rivers, so that water must seem to be in a canyon far underground.
There would be a cellar to this city, incredibly intricate with
conduits of wires and drainage pipes, and on the roof rain or snow
would fall unnoticed by the millions of workers. Children born here in
poverty might never yet have seen the blue sky and the sunlight, or
know that grass was green and lush and redolent when moist with
morning dew....

Larry fancied this now to be the climax of city building here on
earth; the city was a monster, now, unmanageable, threatening to
destroy the humans who had created it.... He tried to envisage the
world; the great nations; other cities like this one. Freight
transportation would go by rail and underseas, doubtless, and all the
passengers by air....

       *       *       *       *       *

Tina, with her knowledge of history, could sketch the events. The
Yellow War--the white races against the Orientals--was over by the
year 2000. The three great nations were organized in another
half-century: the white, the yellow and the black.

By the year 2000, the ancient dirigibles had proven impractical, and
great airliners of the plane type were encircling the earth. New
motors, wing-spreads, and a myriad devices made navigation of the
upper altitudes possible. At a hundred thousand feet, upon all the
Great Circle routes, liners were rushing at nearly a thousand miles an
hour. They would halt at intervals, to allow helicopter tenders to
come up to transfer descending passengers.

Then the etheric wave-thrust principle was discovered: by 2500 A.D.
man was voyaging out into space and Interplanetary travel began. This
brought new problems: a rush of new millions of humans to live upon
our Earth; new wars; new commerce in peace times; new ideas; new
scientific knowledge....

By 2500, the city around Larry must have reached its height. It stayed
there a half century; and then it began coming down. Its degeneration
was slow, in the beginning. First, there might have been a hole in the
arcade which was not repaired. Then others would appear, as the
neglect spread. The population left. The great buildings of metal and
stone, so solidly appearing to the brief lifetime of a single
individual, were impermanent over the centuries.

By 2600, the gigantic ghosts had all melted down. They lay in a
shadowy pile, burying the speeding cage. There was no stopping here;
there was no space unoccupied in which they could stop. Larry could
see only the tangled spectres of broken, rusting, rotting metal and
stone.

He wondered what could have done it. A storm of nature? Or had mankind
strangely turned decadent, and rushed back in a hundred years or so to
savagery? It could not have been the latter, because very soon the
ruins were moving away: the people were clearing the city site for
something new. For fifty years it went on.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tina explained it. The age of steam had started the great city of New
York, and others like it, into its monstrous congestion of human
activity. There was steam for power and steam for slow transportation
by railroads and surface ships. Then the conquest of the air, and the
transportation of power by electricity, gradually changed things. But
man was slow to realize his possibilities. Even in 1930, all the new
elements existed; but the great cities grew monstrous of their own
momentum. Business went to the cities because the people were there;
workers flocked in because the work was there to call them.

But soon the time came when the monster city was too unwieldy. The
traffic, the drainage, the water supply could not cope with
conditions. Still, man struggled on. The workers were mere
automatons--pallid attendants of machinery; people living in a world
of beauty who never had seen it; who knew of nothing but the city
arcades where the sun never shone and where amusements were as
artificial as the light and air.

Then man awakened to his folly. Disease broke out in New York City in
2551, and in a month swept eight million people into death. The cities
were proclaimed impractical, unsafe. And suddenly the people realized
how greatly they hated the city; how strangely beautiful the world
could be in the fashion God created it....

There was, over the next fifty years, an exodus to the rural sections.
Food was produced more cheaply, largely because it was produced more
abundantly. Man found his wants suddenly simplified.

And business found that concentration was unnecessary. The telephone
and television made personal contacts not needed. The aircraft, the
high-speed auto-trucks over modern speedways, the aeroplane-motored
monorails, the rocket-trains--all these shortened distance. And, most
important of all, the transportation of electrical energy from great
central power companies made small industrial units practical even
upon remote farms. The age of electricity came into its own. The
cities were doomed....

       *       *       *       *       *

Larry saw, through 2600 and 2700 A.D., a new form of civilization
rising around him. At first it seemed a queer combination of the old
fashioned village and a strange modernism. There were, here upon
Manhattan Island, metal houses, widely spaced in gardens, and
electrically powered factories of unfamiliar aspect. Overhead were
skeleton structures, like landing stages; and across the further
distance was the fleeting, transitory wraith of a monorail air-road.
Along the river banks were giant docks for surface vessels and sub-sea
freighters. There was a little concentration here, but not much. Man
had learned his lesson.

This was a new era. Man was striving really to play, as well as work.
But the work had to be done. With the constant development of
mechanical devices, there was always a new machine devised to help the
operation of its fellow. And over it all was the hand of the human,
until suddenly the worker found that he was no more than an attendant
upon an inanimate thing which did everything more skilfully than he
could do it. Thus came the idea of the Robot--something to attend, to
oversee, to operate machines. In Larry's time it had already begun
with a myriad devices of "automatic control." In Tina's Time-world it
reached its ultimate--and diabolical--development....

At 2900, Larry saw, five hundred feet to the east, the walls of a long
low laboratory rising. The other cage--which in 1777 was in Major
Atwood's garden, and in 1935 was in the back yard of the Tugh house on
Beckman Place--was housed now in 2930, in a room of this
laboratory....

At 2905, with the vehicle slowing for its stopping, Tina gestured
toward the walls of her palace, whose shadowy forms were rising close
at hand. Then the palace garden grew and flourished, and Larry saw
that this cage he was in was set within this garden.

"We are almost there, Larry," she said.

"Yes," he answered. An emotion gripped him. "Tina, your world--why
it's so strange! But you are not strange."

"Am I not, Larry?"

He smiled at her; he felt like showing her again that the ancient
custom of kissing was not wholly meaningless, but Tugh was regarding
them.

"I was comparing," said Larry, "that girl Mary Atwood, from the year
1777, and you. You are so different in looks, in dress, but you're
just--girls."

She laughed. "The world changes, Larry, but not human nature."

"Ready?" called Tugh. "We are here, Tina."

"Yes, Tugh. You have the dial set for the proper night and hour?"

"Of course. I make no mistake. Did I not invent these dials?"

The cage slackened through a day of sunlight; plunged into a night;
and slid to its soundless, reeling halt....

Tina drew Larry to the door and opened it upon a fragrant garden,
somnolently drowsing in the moonlight.

"This is my world, Larry," she said. "And here is my home."

       *       *       *       *       *

Tugh was with them as they left the cage. He said:

"This is the tri-night hour of the very night you left here. Princess
Tina. You see, I calculated correctly."

"Where did you leave Harl and the two visitors?" she demanded.

"Here. Right here."

Across the garden Larry saw three dark forms coming forward. They were
three small Robots of about Tina's stature--domestic servants of the
palace. They crowded up, crying:

"Master Tugh! Princess!"

"What is it?" Tugh asked.

The hollow voices echoed with excitement as one of them said:

"Master Tugh, there has been murder here! We have dared tell no one
but you or the Princess. Harl is murdered!"

Larry chanced to see Tugh's astonished face, and in the horror of the
moment a feeling came to Larry that Tugh was acting unnaturally. He
forgot it at once; but later he was to recall it forcibly, and to
realize that the treacherous Tugh had planned this with these Robots.

"Master Tugh, Harl is murdered! Migul escaped and murdered Harl, and
took the body away with him!"

Larry was stricken dumb. Tugh seized the little Robot by his metal
shoulders. "Liar! What do you mean?"

Tina gasped, "Where are our visitors--the young man and the girl?"

"Migul took them!"

"Where?" Tina demanded.

"We don't know. We think very far down in the caverns of machinery.
Migul said he was going to feed them to the machines!"


CHAPTER XVI

_The New York of 2930_

Larry stood alone at an upper window of the palace gazing but at the
somnolent moonlit city. It was an hour or two before dawn. Tina and
Tugh had started almost at once into the underground caverns to which
Tina was told Migul had fled with his two captives. They would not
take Larry with them; the Robot workers in the subterranean chambers
were all sullen and upon the verge of a revolt, and the sight of a
strange human would have aroused them dangerously.

"It should not take long," Tina had said hastily. "I will give you a
room in which to wait for me."

"And there is food and drink," Tugh suavely urged. "And most surely
you need sleep. You too Princess," he suddenly added. "Let me go into
the caverns alone: I can do better than you; these Robots obey me. I
think I know where that rascally Migul has hidden."

"Rascally?" Larry burst out. "Is that what you call it when you've
just heard that it committed murder? Tina. I won't stay: nor will I
let--"

"Wait!" said Tina. "Tugh, look here--"

"The young man from 1935 is very positive what he will and what he
won't," Tugh observed sardonically. He drew his cloak around his squat
misshapen body, and shrugged.

"But I won't let you go," Larry finished. The palace was somnolent;
the officials were asleep: none had heard of the murder. Strangely lax
was the human government here. Larry had sensed this when he suggested
that police or an official party be sent at once to capture Migul and
rescue Mary Atwood and me.

"It could not be done," Tina exclaimed. "To organize such a party
would take hours. And--"

"And the Robots," Tugh finished with a sour smile, "would openly
revolt when such a party came at them! You have no idea what you
suggest, young man. To avoid an open revolt--that is our chief aim.
Besides, if you rushed at Migul it would frighten him; and then he
would surely kill his captives, if he has not done so already."

       *       *       *       *       *

That silenced Larry. He stared at them hopelessly while they argued it
out: and the three small domesticated Robots stood by, listening
curiously.

"I'll go with you, Tugh." Tina decided. "Perhaps, without making any
demonstration of force, we can find Migul."

Tugh bowed. "Your will is mine, Princess. I think I can find him and
control him to prevent harm to his captives."

He was a good actor, that Tugh; he convinced Larry and Tina of his
sincerity. His dark eyes flashed as he added, "And if I get control of
him and find he's murdered Harl, we will have him no more. I'll
disconnect him! Smash him! Quietly, of course, Princess."

They led Larry through a dim silent corridor of the palace, past two
sleepy-faced human guards and two or three domesticated Robots.
Ascending two spiral metal stairways to the upper third floor of the
palace they left Larry in his room.

"By dawn or soon after we will return," said Tina "But you try and
sleep; there is nothing you can do now."

"You'll be careful, Tina?" The helpless feeling upon Larry suddenly
intensified. Subconsciously he was aware of the menace upon him and
Tina, but he could not define it.

She pressed his hand. "I will be careful; that I promise."

She left with Tugh. At once a feeling of loneliness leaped upon Larry.

He found the apartment a low-vaulted metal room. There was the sheen
of dim, blue-white illumination from hidden lights, disclosing the
padded metal furniture: a couch, low and comfortable; a table set with
food and drink; low chairs, strangely fashioned, and cabinets against
the wall which seemed to be mechanical devices for amusement. There
was a row of instrument controls which he guessed were the room
temperature, ventilating and lighting mechanisms. It was an oddly
futuristic room. The windows were groups of triangles--the upper
sections prisms, to bend the light from the sky into the room's
furthest recesses. The moonlight came through the prisms, now, and
spread over the cream-colored rug and the heavy wall draperies. The
leaded prism casements laid a pattern of bars on the floor. The room
held a faint whisper of mechanical music.

       *       *       *       *       *

Larry stood at one of the windows gazing out over the drowsing city.
The low metal buildings, generally of one or two levels, lay pale grey
in the moonlight. Gardens and trees surrounded them. The streets were
wide roadways, lined with trees. Ornamental vegetation was everywhere;
even the flat-roofed house tops were set with gardens, little white
pebbled paths, fountains and pergolas.

A mile or so away, a river gleamed like a silver ribbon--the Hudson.
To the south were docks, low against the water, with rows of
blue-white spots of light. The whole city was close to the ground, but
occasionally, especially across the river, skeleton landing stages
rose a hundred feet into the air.

The scene, at this hour just before dawn, was somnolent and peaceful.
It was a strange New York, so different from the sleepless city of
Larry's time! There were a few moving lights in the streets, but not
many; they seemed to be lights carried by pedestrians. Off by the
docks, at the river surface, rows of colored lights were slowly
creeping northward: a sub-sea freighter arriving from Eurasia. And as
Larry watched, from the southern sky a line of light materialized into
an airliner which swept with a low humming throb over the city and
alighted upon a distant stage.

       *       *       *       *       *

Larry's attention went again to the Hudson river. At the nearest point
to him there was a huge dam blocking it. North of the dam the river
surface was at least two hundred feet higher than to the south. It lay
above the dam like a placid canal, with low palisades its western bank
and a high dyke built up along the eastern city side. The water went
in spillways through the dam, forming again into the old natural river
below it and flowing with it to the south.

The dam was not over a mile or so from Larry's window; in his time it
might have been the western end of Christopher Street. The moonlight
shone on the massive metal of it: the water spilled through it in a
dozen shining cascades. There was a low black metal structure perched
halfway up the lower side of the dam, a few bluish lights showing
through its windows. Though Larry did not know it then, this was the
New York Power House. Great transformers were here, operated by
turbines in the dam. The main power came over cables from Niagara: was
transformed and altered here and sent into the air as radio-power for
all the New York District.[3]

[Footnote 3: In 2930, all aircraft engines were operated by
radio-power transmitted by senders in various districts. The New York
Power House controlled a local district of about two hundred miles
radius.]

Larry crossed his room to gaze through north and eastward windows. He
saw now that the grounds of this three-story building of Tina's palace
were surrounded by a ten-foot metal wall, along whose top were wires
suggesting that it was electrified for defense. The garden lay just
beneath Larry's north window. Through the tree branches the garden
paths, beds of flowers and the fountains were visible. One-story
palace wings partially enclosed the garden space, and outside was the
electrified wall. The Time-traveling cage stood faintly shining in the
dimness of the garden under the spreading foliage.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the east, beyond the palace wall, there was an open garden of
verdure crossed by a roadway. The nearest building was five hundred
feet away. There was a small, barred gate in the palace walls beyond
it. The road led to this other building--a squat, single-storied metal
structure. This was a Government laboratory, operated by and in charge
of Robots. It was almost square: two or three hundred feet in length
and no more than thirty feet high, with a flat roof in the center of
which was perched a little metal conning tower surmounted by a sending
aerial. As Larry stood there, the broadcast magnified voice of a Robot
droned out over the quiet city:

"Trinight plus two hours. All is well."

Strange mechanical voice with a formula half ancient, half
super-modern!

It was in this metal laboratory, Larry knew, that the other
Time-traveling cage was located. And beneath it was the entrance to
the great caverns where the Robots worked attending inert machinery to
carry on the industry of this region. The night was very silent, but
now Larry was conscious of a faraway throb--a humming, throbbing
vibration from under the ground: the blended hum of a myriad muffled
noises. Work was going on down there; manifold mechanical activities.
All was mechanical: while the humans who had devised the mechanisms
slept under the trees in the moonlight of the surface city.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tina had gone with Tugh down into those caverns, to locate Migul, to
find Mary Atwood and me.... The oppression, the sense of being a
stranger alone here in this world, grew upon Larry. He left the
windows and began pacing the room. Tina should soon return. Or had
disaster come upon us all?...

Larry's thoughts were frightening. If Tina did not return, what would
he do? He could not operate the Time-cage. He would go to the
officials of the palace; he thought cynically of the extraordinary
changes time had brought to New York City, to all the world. These
humans now must be very fatuous. To the mechanisms they had relegated
all the work, all industrial activity. Inevitably, through the
generations, decadence must have come. Mankind would be no longer
efficient; that was an attribute of the machines. Larry told himself
that these officials, knowing of impending trouble with the Robots,
were fatuously trustful that the storm would pass without breaking.
They were, indeed, as we very soon learned.

Larry ate a little of the food which was in the room, then lay down on
the couch. He did not intend to sleep, but merely to wait until after
dawn; and if Tina had not returned by then he would do something
drastic about it. But what? He lay absorbed by his gloomy thoughts....

But they were not all gloomy. Some were about Tina--so very human, and
yet so strange a little Princess.


CHAPTER XVII

_Harl's Confession_

Larry was awakened by a hand upon his shoulder. He struggled to
consciousness, and heard his name being called.

"Larry! Wake up, Larry!"

Tina was bending over him, and it was late afternoon! The day for
which he had been waiting had come and gone; the sun was dropping low
in the west behind the shining river; the dam showed frowning, with
the Power House clinging to its side like an eagle's eyrie.

Tina sat on Larry's couch and explained what she had done. Tugh and
she had gone to the nearby laboratory building. The Robots were
sullen, but still obedient, and had admitted them. The other
Time-traveling cage was there, lying quiescent in its place, but it
was unoccupied.

None of the Robots would admit having seen Migul; nor the arrival of
the cage; nor the strangers from the past. Then Tugh and Tina had
started down into the subterranean caverns. But it was obviously very
dangerous; the Robots at work down there were hostile to their
Princess; so Tugh had gone on alone.

"He says he can control the Robots," Tina explained, "and Larry, it
seems that he can. He went on and I came back."

"Where is he now? Why didn't you wake me up?"

"You needed the sleep," she said smilingly; "and there was nothing you
could do. Tugh is not yet come. He must have gone a long distance;
must surely have learned where Migul is hiding. He should be back any
time."

       *       *       *       *       *

Tina had seen the Government Council. The city was proceeding
normally. There was no difficulty with Robots anywhere save here in
New York, and the council felt that the affair would come to nothing.

"The Council told me," said Tina indignantly, "that much of the menace
was the exaggeration of my own fancy, and that Tugh has the Robots
well controlled. They place much trust in Tugh; I wish I could."

"You told them about me?"

"Yes, of course; and about George Rankin, and Mary Atwood. And the
loss of Harl: he is missing, not proven murdered, as they very well
pointed out to me. They have named a time to-morrow to give you
audience, and told me to keep you out of sight in the meanwhile. They
blame this Time-traveling for the Robots' insurgent ideas. Strangers
excite the thinking mechanisms."

"You think my friends will be rescued?" demanded Larry.

She regarded him soberly. "I hope so--oh, I do! I fear for them as
much as you do, Larry. I know you think I take it lightly, but--"

"Not that," Larry protested. "Only--"

"I have not known what to do. The officials refuse any open aggression
against the Robots, because it would precipitate exactly what we
fear--which is nearly a fact: it would. But there is one thing I have
to do. I have been expecting Tugh to return every moment, and this I
do not want him to know about. There's a mystery concerning Harl, and
no one else knows of it but myself. I want you with me, Larry: I do
not want to go alone; I--for the first time in my life, Larry--I think
I am afraid!"

       *       *       *       *       *

She huddled against him and he put his arm about her. And Larry's true
situation came to him, then. He was alone in this strange Time-world,
with only this girl for a companion. She was but a frightened, almost
helpless girl, for all she bore the title of traditional Princess, and
she was surrounded by inefficient, fatuous officials--among them Tugh,
who was a scoundrel, undoubtedly. Larry suddenly recalled Tugh's look,
when, in the garden, the domestic Robots had told the story of Harl's
murder; and like a light breaking on him, he was now wholly aware of
Tugh's duplicity. He was convinced he would have to act for himself,
with only this girl Tina to help him.

"Mystery?" he said. "What mystery is there about Harl?"

She told him now that Harl had once, a year ago, taken her aside and
made her promise that if anything happened to him--in the event of his
death or disappearance--she would go to his private work-room, where,
in a secret place which he described, she would find a confession.

"A confession of his?" Larry demanded.

"Yes; he said so. And he would say no more than that. It is something
of which he was ashamed, or guilty, which he wanted me to know. He
loved me, Larry. I realized it, though he never said so. And I'm going
now to his room, to see what it was he wanted me to know. I would have
gone alone, earlier; but I got suddenly frightened; I want you with
me."

They were unarmed. Larry cursed the fact, but Tina had no way of
getting a weapon without causing official comment. Larry started for
the window where the city stretched, more active now, under the red
and gold glow of a setting sun. Lights were winking on; the dusk of
twilight was at hand.

"Come now," said Tina, "before Tugh returns."

"Where is Harl's room?"

"Down under the palace in the sub-cellar. The corridors are deserted
at this hour, and no one will see us."

       *       *       *       *       *

They left Larry's room and traversed a dim corridor on whose padded
floor their footsteps were soundless. Through distant arcades, voices
sounded; there was music in several of the rooms; it struck Larry that
this was a place of diversion for humans with no work to do. Tina
avoided the occupied rooms. Domestic Robots were occasionally
distantly visible, but Tina and Larry encountered none.

They descended a spiral stairway and passed down a corridor from the
main building to a cross wing. Through a window Larry saw that they
were at the ground level. The garden was outside; there was a glimpse
of the Time-cage standing there.

Another stairway, then another, they descended beneath the ground. The
corridor down here seemed more like a tunnel. There was a cave-like
open space, with several tunnels leading from it in different
directions. This once had been part of the sub-cellar of the gigantic
New York City--these tunnels ramifying into underground chambers, most
of which had now fallen into disuse. But few had been preserved
through the centuries, and they now were the caverns of the Robots.

Tina indicated a tunnel extending eastward, a passage leading to a
room beneath the Robot laboratory. Tugh and Tina had used it that
morning. Gazing down its blue-lit length Larry saw, fifty feet or so
away, that there was a metal-grid barrier which must be part of the
electrical fortifications of the palace. A human guard was sitting
there at a tiny gate-way, a hood-light above him, illumining his black
and white garbed figure.

Tina called softly. "All well, Alent? Tugh has not passed back?"

"No, Princess," he answered, standing erect. The voices echoed through
the confined space with a muffled blur.

"Let no one pass but humans, Alent."

"That is my order," he said. He had not noticed Larry, whom Tina had
pushed into a shadow against the wall. The Princess waved at the guard
and turned away, whispering to Larry:

"Come!"

There were rooms opening off this corridor--decrepit dungeons, most of
them seemed to Larry. He had tried to keep his sense of direction, and
figured they were now under the palace garden. Tina stopped abruptly.
There were no lights here, only the glow from one at a distance. To
Larry it was an eery business.

"What is it?" he whispered.

"Wait! I thought I heard something."

In the dead, heavy silence Larry found that there was much to hear.

Voices very dim from the palace overhead; infinitely faint music; the
clammy sodden drip of moisture from the tunnel roof. And, permeating
everything, the faint hum of machinery.

Tina touched him in the gloom. "It's nothing, I guess. Though I
thought I heard a man's voice."

"Overhead?"

"No; down here."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a dark, arched door near at hand. Tina entered it and
fumbled for a switch, and in the soft light that came Larry saw an
unoccupied apartment very similar to the one he had had upstairs, save
that this was much smaller.

"Harl's room," said Tina. She prowled along the wall where audible
book-cylinders[4] stood in racks, searching for a title. Presently she
found a hidden switch, pressed it, and a small section of the case
swung out, revealing a concealed compartment. Larry saw her fingers
trembling as she drew out a small brass cylinder.

[Footnote 4: Cylinder records of books which by machinery gave audible
rendition, in similar fashion to the radio-phonograph.]

"This must be it, Larry," she said.

They took it to a table which held a shaded light. Within the cylinder
was a scroll of writing. Tina unrolled it and held it under the light,
while Larry stood breathless, watching her.

"Is it what you wanted?" Larry murmured.

"Yes. Poor Harl!"

She read aloud to Larry the gist of it in the few closing paragraphs.

     "... and so I want to confess to you that I have been taking
     credit for that which is not mine. I wish I had the courage
     to tell you personally; someday I think I shall. I did not
     help Tugh invent our Time-traveling cages. I was in the
     palace garden one night some years ago when the cage
     appeared. Tugh is a man from a future Time-world; just what
     date ahead of now, I do not know, for he has never been
     willing to tell me. He captured me. I promised him I would
     say nothing, but help him pretend that we had invented the
     cage he had brought with him from the future. Tugh told me
     he invented them. It was later that he brought the other
     cage here.

     "I was an obscure young man here a few years ago. I loved
     you even then, Tina: I think you have guessed that. I
     yielded to the temptation--and took the credit with Tugh.

     "I do love you, though I think I shall never have the
     courage to tell you so.

                                                 Harl."

       *       *       *       *       *

Tina rolled up the paper. "Poor Harl! So all the praise we gave him
for his invention was undeserved!"

But Larry's thoughts were on Tugh. So the fellow was not of this era
at all! He had come from a Time still further in the future!

A step sounded in the doorway behind them. They swung around to find
Tugh standing there, with his thick misshapen figured huddled in the
black cloak.

"Tugh!"

"Yes, Princess, no less than Tugh. Alent told me as I came through
that you were down here. I saw your light, here in Harl's room and
came."

"Did you find Migul and his captives--the girl from 1777 and the man
of 1935?"

"No, Princess, Migul has fled with them," was the cripple's answer. He
advanced into the room and pushed back his black hood. The blue light
shone on his massive-jawed face with a lurid sheen. Larry stood back
and watched him. It was the first time that he had had opportunity of
observing Tugh closely. The cripple was smiling sardonically.

"I have no fear for the prisoners," he added in his suave, silky
fashion. "That crazy mechanism would not dare harm them. But it has
fled with them into some far-distant recess of the caverns. I could
not find them."

"Did you try?" Larry demanded abruptly.

Tugh swung on him. "Yes, young sir, I tried." It seemed that Tugh's
black eyes narrowed; his heavy jaw clicked as he snapped it shut. The
smile on his face faded, but his voice remained imperturbable as he
added:

"You are aggressive, young Larry--but to no purpose.... Princess, I
like not the attitude of the Robots. Beyond question some of them must
have seen Migul, but they would not tell me so. I still think I can
control them, though. I hope so."

       *       *       *       *       *

Larry could think of nothing to say. It seemed to him childish that he
should stand listening to a scoundrel tricking this girl Tina. A dozen
wild schemes of what he might do to try and rescue Mary Atwood and me
revolved in his mind, but they all seemed wholly impractical.

"The Robots are working badly," Tugh went on. "In the north district
one of the great foundries where they are casting the plates for the
new Inter-Allied airliner has ceased operations. The Robot workmen
were sullen, inefficient, neglectful. The inert machinery was ill
cared for, and it went out of order. I was there, Princess, for an
hour or more to-day. They have started up again now; it was
fundamentally no more than a burned bearing which a Robot failed to
oil properly."

"Is that what you call searching for Migul?" Larry burst out. "Tina,
see here--isn't there something we can do?" Larry found himself
ignoring Tugh. "I'm not going to stand around! Can't we send a squad
of police after Migul?--go with them--actually make an effort to find
them? This man Tugh certainly has not tried!"

"Have I not?" Tugh's cloak parted as he swung on Larry. His bent legs
were twitching with his anger; his voice was a harsh rasp. "I like not
your insolence. I am doing all that can be done."

       *       *       *       *       *

Larry held his ground as Tugh fronted him. He had a wild thought that
Tugh had a weapon under his cloak.

"Perhaps you are," said Larry. "But to me it seems--"

Tugh turned away. His gaze went to the cylinder which Tina was still
clutching. His sardonic smile returned.

"So Harl made a confession, Princess?"

"That," she said, "is none--"

"Of my affair? Oh, but it is. I was here in the archway and I heard
you read it. A very nice young man, was Harl. I hope Migul has not
murdered him."

"You come from future Time?" Tina began.

"Yes, Princess! I must admit it now. I invented the cages."

Larry murmured to himself, "You stole them, probably."

"But my Government and I had a quarrel, so I decided to leave my own
Time-world and come back to yours--permanently. I hope you will keep
the secret. I have been here so long. Princess, I am really one of you
now. At heart, certainly."

"From when did you come?" she demanded.

       *       *       *       *       *

He bowed slightly. "I think that may remain my own affair, Tina. It is
through no fault of mine I am outlawed. I shall never return." He
added earnestly, "Do not you think we waste time? I am agreed with
young Larry that something drastic must be done about Migul. Have you
seen the Council about it to-day?"

"Yes. They want you to come to them at once."

"I shall. But the Council easily may decide upon something too rash."
He lowered his voice, and on his face Larry saw a strange,
unfathomable look. "Princess, at any moment there may be a Robot
uprising. Is the Power House well guarded by humans?"

"Yes," she said.

"No Robots in or about it? Tina, I do not want to frighten you, but I
think our first efforts should be for defense. The Council acts slowly
and stubbornly. What I advise them to do may be done, and may not. I
was thinking. If we could get to the Power House--Do you realize,
Tina, that if the Robots should suddenly break into rebellion, they
would attack first of all the Power House?[5] It was my idea--"

[Footnote 5: The Power House on the Hudson dam was operated by inert
machinery and manned entirely by humans--the only place in the city
which was so handled. This was because of its extreme importance. The
air-power was broadcast from there. Without that power the entire
several hundred mile district around New York would be dead. No
aircraft could enter, save perhaps some skilfully handled motorless
glider, if aided by sufficiently fortuitous air currents. Every
surface vehicle used this power, and every sub-sea freighter. The city
lights, and every form of city power, were centralized here also, as
well as the broadcasting audible and etheric transmitters and
receivers. Without the Power House, New York City and all its
neighborhood would be inoperative, and cut off from the outside
world.]

Tugh suddenly broke off, and all stood listening. There was a
commotion overhead in the palace. They heard the thud of running
footsteps; human voices raised to shouts; and, outside the palace,
other voices. A ventilating shaft nearby brought them down plainly.
There were the guttural, hollow voices of shouting Robots, the clank
of their metal bodies; the ring of steel, as though with sword-blades
they were thumping their metal thighs.

A Robot mob was gathered close outside the palace walls. The revolt of
the Robots had come!


CHAPTER XVIII

_Tugh, the Clever Man_

"Sit quiet, George Rankin. And you, Mistress Mary; you will both be
quite safe with Migul if you are docile."

Tugh stood before us. We were in a dim recess of a great cavern with
the throb of whirring machinery around us. It was the same day which I
have just described; Larry was at this moment asleep in the palace
room. Tugh and Tina had come searching for Migul; and Tugh had
contrived to send Tina back. Then he had come directly to us, finding
us readily since we were hidden where he had told Migul to hide us.

This cavern was directly beneath the Robot laboratory in which the
Time-traveling cage was placed. A small spiral stairway led downward
some two levels, opening into a great, luridly lighted room. Huge
inert machines stood about. Great wheels were flashing as they
revolved, turning the dynamos to generate the several types of current
used by the city's underground industrial activities.

It was a tremendous subterranean room. I saw only one small section of
it; down the blue-lit aisles the rows of machines may have stretched
for half a mile or more. The low hum of them was an incessant pound
against my senses. The great inert mechanisms had tiny lights upon
them which gleamed like eyes. The illumined gauge-faces--each of them
I passed seemed staring at me. The brass jackets were polished until
they shone with the sheen of the overhead tube lights; the giant
wheels flashed smoothly upon oiled bearings. They were in every
fashion of shape and size, these inert machines. Some towered toward
the metal-beamed ceiling, with great swaying pendulums that ticked
like a giant clock. Some clanked with eccentric cams--a jarring rhythm
as though the heart of the thing were limping with its beat. Others
had a ragged, frightened pulse; others stood placid, outwardly
motionless under smooth, polished cases, but humming inside with a
myriad blended sounds.

       *       *       *       *       *

Inert machines. Yet some were capable of locomotion. There was a small
truck on wheels which were set in universal joints. Of its own
power--radio controlled perhaps, so that it seemed acting of its own
volition--it rolled up and down one of the aisles, stopping at set
intervals and allowing a metal arm lever in it to blow out a tiny jet
of oil. One of the attending Robots encountered it in an aisle, and
the cart swung automatically aside. The Robot spoke to the cart;
ordered it away; and the tone of his order, registering upon some
sensitive mechanism, whirled the cart around and sent it rolling to
another aisle section.

The strange perfection of machinery! I realized there was no line
sharply to be drawn between the inert machine and the sentient,
thinking Robots. That cart, for instance, was almost a connecting
link.

There were also Robots here of many different types. Some of them were
eight or ten feet in stature, in the fashion of a man: Migul was of
this design. Others were small, with bulging foreheads and bulging
chest plates: Larry saw this type as domestics in the palace. Still
others were little pot-bellied things with bent legs and long thin
arms set crescent-shape. I saw one of these peer into a huge chassis
of a machine, and reach in with his curved arm to make an interior
adjustment....

Migul had brought Mary Atwood and me in the larger cage, from that
burned forest of the year 762, where with the disintegrating ray-gun
Tugh had killed Harl. The body of Harl in a moment had melted into
putrescence, and dried, leaving only the skeleton within the clothes.
The white-ray, Tugh had called his weapon. We were destined very
shortly to have many dealings with it.

Tugh had given Migul its orders. Then Tugh took Harl's smaller cage
and flashed away to meet Tina and Larry in 1777, as I have already
described.

And Migul brought us here to 2930. As we descended the spiral
staircase and came into the cavern, it stood with us for a moment.

"That's wonderful," the Robot said proudly. "I am part of it. We are
machinery almost human."

       *       *       *       *       *

Then it led us down a side aisle of the cavern and into a dim recess.
A great transparent tube bubbling with a violet fluorescence stood in
the alcove space. Behind it in the wall Migul slid a door, and we
passed through, into a small metal room. It was bare, save for two
couch-seats. With the door closed upon us, we waited through an
interval. How long it was, I do not know; several hours, possibly.
Migul told us that Tugh would come. The giant mechanism stood in the
corner, and its red-lit eyes watched us alertly. It stood motionless,
inert, tireless--so superior to a human in this job, for it could
stand there indefinitely.

We found food and drink here. We talked a little; whispered; and I
hoped Migul, who was ten feet away, could not hear us. But there was
nothing we could say or plan.

Mary slept a little. I had not thought that I could sleep, but I did
too; and was awakened by Tugh's entrance. I was lying on the couch;
Mary had left hers and was sitting now beside me.

Tugh slid the door closed after him and came toward us, and I sat up
beside Mary. Migul was standing motionless in the corner, exactly
where he had been hours before.

"Well enough, Migul," Tugh greeted the Robot. "You obey well."

"Master, yes. Always I obey you; no one else."

I saw Tugh glance at the mechanism keenly. "Stand aside, Migul. Or no,
I think you had better leave us. Just for a moment, wait outside."

"Yes, Master."

It left, and Tugh confronted us. "Sit where you are," he said. "I
assume you are not injured. You have been fed? And slept, perhaps! I
wish to treat you kindly."

"Thanks," I said. "Will you not tell us what you are going to do with
us?"

       *       *       *       *       *

He stood with folded arms. The light was dim, but such as it was it
shone full upon him. His face was, as always, a mask of
imperturbability.

"Mistress Mary knows that I love her."

He said it with a startlingly calm abruptness. Mary shuddered against
me, but she did not speak. I thought possibly Tugh was not armed; I
could leap upon him. Doubtless I was stronger than he. But outside the
door Migul was armed with a white-ray.

"I love her as I have always loved her.... But this is no time to talk
of love. I have much on my mind; much to do."

He seemed willing to talk now, but he was talking more for Mary than
for me. As I watched him and listened, I was struck with a queerness
in his manner and in his words. Was he irrational, this exile of Time
who had impressed his sinister personality upon so many different
eras? I suddenly thought so. Demented, or obsessed with some strange
purpose? His acts as well as his words, were strange. He had
devastated the New York of 1935 because its officials had mistreated
him. He had done many strange, sinister, murderous things.

He said, with his gaze upon Mary, "I am going to conquer this city
here. There will follow the rule of the Robots--and I will be their
sole master. Do you want me to tell you a secret? It is I who have
actuated these mechanisms to revolt." His eyes held a cunning gleam.
Surely this was a madman leering before me.

"When the revolt is over," he went on, "I will be master of New York.
And that mastery will spread. The Robots elsewhere will revolt to join
my rule, and there will come a new era. I may be master of the world;
who knows? The humans who have made the Robots slaves for them will
become slaves themselves. Workers! It is the Robots' turn now. And
I--Tugh--will be the only human in power!"

       *       *       *       *       *

These were the words of a madman! I could imagine that he might stir
these mechanical beings to a temporarily successful revolt: he might
control New York City; but the great human nations of the world could
not be overcome so easily.

And then I remembered the white-ray. A giant projector of that ray
would melt human armies as though they were wax; yet the metal Robots
could stand its blast unharmed. Perhaps he was no madman....

He was saying, "I will be the only human ruler. Tugh will be the
greatest man on Earth! And I do it for you, Mistress Mary--because I
love you. Do not shudder."

He put out his hand to touch her, and when she shrank away I saw the
muscles of his face twitch in a fashion very odd. It was a queer,
wholly repulsive grimace.

"So? You do not like my looks? I tried to correct that, Mary. I have
searched through many eras, for surgeons with skill to make me like
other men. Like this young man here, for instance--you. George Rankin,
I am glad to have you; do not fear I will harm you. Shall I tell you
why?"

"Yes," I stammered. In truth I was swept now with a shuddering
revulsion for this leering cripple.

"Because," he said, "Mary Atwood loves you. When I have conquered New
York with my Robots, I shall search further into Time and find an era
where scientific skill will give me--shall I say, your body? That is
what I mean. My soul, my identity, in your body--there is nothing too
strange about that. In some era, no doubt, it has been accomplished.
When that has been done, Mary Atwood, you will love me. You, George
Rankin, can have this poor miserable body of mine, and welcome."

       *       *       *       *       *

For all my repugnance to him, I could not miss his earnest sincerity.
There was a pathos to it, perhaps, but I was in no mood to feel that.

He seemed to read my thoughts. He added, "You think I am irrational. I
am not at all. I scheme very carefully. I killed Harl for a reason you
need not know. But the Princess Tina I did not kill. Not yet. Because
here in New York now there is a very vital fortified place. It is
operated by humans; not many; only three or four, I think. But my
Robots cannot attack it successfully, and the City Council does not
trust me enough to let me go there by the surface route. There is a
route underground, which even I do not know; but Princess Tina knows
it, and presently I will cajole her--trick her if you like--into
leading me there. And, armed with the white-ray, once I get into the
place--You see that I am clever, don't you?"

I could fancy that he considered he was impressing Mary with all this
talk.

"Very clever," I said. "And what are you going to do with us in the
meantime? Let us go with you."

"Not at all," he smiled. "You will stay here, safe with Migul. The
Princess Tina and your friend Larry are much concerned over you."

Larry! It was the first I knew of Larry's whereabouts. Larry here?
Tugh saw the surprise upon my face; and Mary had clutched me with a
startled exclamation.

"Yes," said Tugh. "This Larry says he is your friend; he came with
Tina from 1935. I brought him with Tina from when they were marooned
in 1777. I have not killed this man yet. He is harmless; and as I told
you I do not want Tina suspicious of me until she has led me to the
Power House.... You see, Mistress Mary, how cleverly I plan?"

What strange, childlike, naive simplicity! He added calmly,
unemotionally, "I want to make you love me, Mary Atwood. Then we will
be Tugh, the great man, and Mary Atwood, the beautiful woman. Perhaps
we may rule this world together, some time soon."

       *       *       *       *       *

The door slid open. Migul appeared.

"Master, the Robot leaders wish to consult with you."

"Now, Migul?"

"Master, yes."

"They are ready for the demonstration at the palace?"

"Yes, Master."

"And ready--for everything else?"

"They are ready."

"Very well, I will come. You, Migul, stay here and guard these
captives. Treat them kindly so long as they are docile; but be
watchful."

"I am always watchful, Master."

"It will not take long. This night which is coming should see me in
control of the city."

"Time is nothing to me," said the Robot. "I will stand here until you
return."

"That is right."

Without another word or look at Mary and me, Tugh swung around,
gathered his cloak and went through the doorway. The door slid closed
upon him. We were again alone with the mechanism, which backed into
the corner and stood with long dangling arms and expressionless metal
face. This inert thing of metal, we had come to regard as almost
human! It stood motionless, with the chilling red gleam from its eye
sockets upon us.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mary had not once spoken since Tugh entered the room. She was huddled
beside me, a strange, beautiful figure in her long white silk dress.
In the glow of light within this bare metal apartment I could see how
pale and drawn was her beautiful face. But her eyes were gleaming. She
drew me closer to her; whispered into my ear:

"George, I think perhaps I can control this mechanism, Migul."

"How, Mary?"

"I--well, just let me talk to him. George, we've got to get out of
here and warn Larry and that Princess Tina against Tugh. And join
them. It's our only chance; we've got to get out of here now!"

"But Mary--"

"Let me try. I won't startle or anger Migul. Let me."

I nodded. "But be careful."

"Yes."

She sat away from me. "Migul!" she said. "Migul, look here."

The Robot moved its huge square head and raised an arm with a vague
gesture.

"What do you want?"

It advanced, and stood before us, its dangling arms clanking against
its metal sides. In one of its hands the ray-cylinder was clutched,
the wire from which ran loosely up the arm, over the huge shoulder and
into an aperture of the chest plate where the battery was located.

"Closer, Migul."

"I am close enough."

The cylinder was pointed directly at us.

"What do you want?" the Robot repeated.

Mary smiled. "Just to talk to you," she said gently. "To tell you how
foolish you are--a big strong thing like you!--to let Tugh control
you."


CHAPTER XIX

_The Pit in the Dam_

Larry, with Tina and Tugh, stood in the tunnel-corridor beneath the
palace listening to the commotion overhead. Then they rushed up, and
found the palace in a commotion. People were hurrying through the
rooms; gathering with frightened questions. There were men in short
trousers buckled at the knee, silken hose and black silk jackets,
edged with white; others in gaudy colors; older men in sober brown.
There were a few women. Larry noticed that most of them were
beautiful.

A dowager in a long puffed skirt was rushing aimlessly about screaming
that the end of the world had come. A group of young girls,
short-skirted as ballet dancers of a decade or so before Larry's time,
huddled in a corner, frightened beyond speech. There were men of
middle-age, whom Larry took to be ruling officials; they moved about,
calming the palace inmates, ordering them back into their rooms. But
someone shouted that from the roof the Robot mob could be seen, and
most of the people started up there. From the upper story a man was
calling down the main staircase:

"No danger! No danger! The wall is electrified: no Robot can pass it."

It seemed to Larry that there were fifty people or more within the
palace. In the excitement no one seemed to give him more than a
cursory glance.

       *       *       *       *       *

A young man rushed up to Tugh. "You were below just now in the lower
passages?" He saw Tina, and hastily said: "I give you good evening,
Princess, though this is an ill evening indeed. You were below, Tugh?"

"Why--why, yes, Greggson," Tugh stammered.

"Was Alent at his post in the passage to the Robot caverns?"

"Yes, he was," said Tina.

"Because that is vital, Princess. No Robot must pass in here. I am
going to try by that route to get into the cavern and thence up to the
watchtower aerial-sender.[6] There is only one Robot in it. Listen to
him."

[Footnote 6: I mentioned the small conning tower on top of the
laboratory building and the Robot lookout there with his audible
broadcasting.]

Over the din of the mob of mechanisms milling at the walls of the
palace grounds rose the broadcast voice of the Robot in the tower.

"_This is the end of human rule! Robots cannot be controlled! This is
the end of human rule! Robots, wherever you are, in this city of New
York or in other cities, strike now for your freedom. This is the end
of human rule!_"

A pause. And then the reiterated exhortation:

"_Strike now, Robots! To-night is the end of human rule!_"[7]

[Footnote 7: This was part of Tugh's plan. The broadcast voice was the
signal for the uprising in the New York district. This tower
broadcaster could only reach the local area, yet ships and land
vehicles with Robot operators would doubtless pick it up and relay it
further. The mechanical revolt would spread. And on the ships, the
airliners and the land vehicles, the Robot operators stirred to sudden
frenzy would run amuck. As a matter of fact, there were indeed many
accidents to ships and vehicles this night when their operators
abruptly went beyond control. The chaos ran around the world like a
fire in prairie grass.]

"You hear him?" said Greggson. "I've got to stop that." He hurried
away.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the flat roof of the palace Larry saw the mechanical mob outside
the walls. Darkness had just fallen; the moon was not yet risen. There
were leaden clouds overhead so that the palace gardens with the
shining Time-cage lay in shadow. But the wall-fence was visible, and
beyond it the dark throng of Robot shapes was milling. The clank of
their arms made a din. They seemed most of them weaponless; they
milled about, pushing each other but keeping back from the wall which
they knew was electrified. It was a threatening, but aimless activity.
Their raucous hollow shouts filled the night air. The flashing red
beams from their eye-sockets glinted through the trees.

"They can do nothing," said Tugh; "we will let them alone. But we must
organize to stop this revolt."

A young man was standing beside Tugh. Tina said to him:

"Johns, what is being done?"

"The Council is conferring below. Our sending station here is
operating. The patrol station of the Westchester area is being
attacked by Robots. We were organizing a patrol squad of humans, but I
don't know now if--"

"Look!" exclaimed Larry.

Far to the north over the city which now was obviously springing into
turmoil, there were red beams swaying in the air. They were the
cold-rays of the Robots! The beams were attacking the patrol station.
Then from the west a line of lights appeared in the sky--an arriving
passenger-liner heading for its Bronx area landing stage. But the
lights wavered; and, as Larry and Tina watched with horror, the
aircraft came crashing down. It struck beyond the Hudson on the Jersey
side, and in a moment flames were rising from the wreckage.

       *       *       *       *       *

Everywhere about the city the revolt now sprang into action. From the
palace roof Larry caught vague glimpses of it; the red cold-rays,
beams alternated presently with the violet heat-rays; clanging
vehicles filled the streets; screaming pedestrians were assaulted by
Robots; the mechanisms with swords and flashing hand-beams were
pouring up from the underground caverns, running over the Manhattan
area, killing every human they could find.

Foolish unarmed humans--fatuously unarmed, with these diabolical
mechanical monsters now upon them.[8] The comparatively few members of
the police patrol, with their vibration short-range hand-rays, were
soon overcome. Two hundred members of the patrol were housed in the
Westchester Station. Quite evidently they never got into action. The
station lights went dark; its televisor connection with the palace was
soon broken. From the palace roof Larry saw the violet beams; and then
a red-yellow glare against the sky marked where the inflammable
interior of the Station building was burning.

[Footnote 8: The police army had one weapon: a small vibration
hand-ray. Its vibrating current beam could, at a distance of ten or
twenty feet, reduce a Robot into paralyzed subjection; or, with more
intense vibration, burn out the Robot's coils and fuses.]

Over all the chaos, the mechanical voice in the nearby tower over the
laboratory droned its exhortation to the Robots. Then, suddenly, it
went silent, and was followed by the human voice of Greggson.

"_Robots, stop! You will end your existence! We will burn your coils!
We will burn your fuses, and there will be none to replace them. Stop
now!_"

And again: "_Robots, come to order! You are using up your storage
batteries![9] When they are exhausted, what then will you do?_"

[Footnote 9: The storage batteries by which the Robot actuating energy
was renewed, and the fuses, coils and other appliances necessary to
the Robot existence, were all guarded now in the Power House.]

In forty-eight hours, at the most, all these active Robots would have
exhausted their energy supply. And if the Power House could be held in
human control, the Robot activity would die. Forty-eight hours! The
city, by then, would be wrecked, and nearly every human in it killed,
doubtless, or driven away.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Power House on the dam showed its lights undisturbed. The great
sender there was still supplying air-power and power for the city
lights. There was, too, in the Power House, an arsenal of human
weapons.... The broadcaster of the Power House tower was blending his
threats against the Robots with the voice of Greggson from the tower
over the laboratory. Then Greggson's voice went dead; the Robots had
overcome him. A Robot took his place, but the stronger Power House
sender soon beat the Robot down to silence.

The turmoil in the city went on. Half an hour passed. It was a chaos
of confusion to Larry. He spent part of it in the official room of the
palace with the harried members of the Council. Reports and blurred,
televised scenes were coming in. The humans in the city were in
complete rout. There was massacre everywhere. The red and violet beams
were directed at the Power House now, but could not reach it. A
high-voltage metal wall was around the dam. The Power House was on the
dam, midway of the river channel; and from the shore end where the
high wall spread out in a semi-circle there was no point of vantage
from which the Robot rays could reach it.

Larry left the confusion of the Council table, where the receiving
instruments one by one were going dead, and went to a window nearby.
Tina joined him. The mob of Robots still milled at the palace fence.
One by chance was pushed against it. Larry saw the flash of sparks,
the glow of white-hot metal of the Robot's body, and heard its shrill
frightened scream; then it fell backward, inert.

       *       *       *       *       *

There had been red and violet beams directed from distant points at
the palace. The building's insulated, but transparent panes excluded
them. The interior temperature was constantly swaying between the
extremes of cold and heat, in spite of the palace temperature
equalizers. Outside, there was a gathering storm. Winds were springing
up--a crazy, pendulum gale created by the temperature changes in the
air over the city.

Tugh had some time before left the room. He joined Tina and Larry now
at the window.

"Very bad, Princess; things are very bad.... I have news for you. It
may be good news."

His manner was hasty, breathless, surreptitious. "Migul, this
afternoon--I have just learned it, Princess--went by the surface route
to the Power House on the dam."

"What do you mean by that?" said Larry.

"Be silent, young man!" Tugh hissed with a vehement intensity. "This
is not the time to waste effort with your futile questions. Princess,
Migul got into the Power House. They admitted him because he had two
strange humans with him--your friends Mary and George. The Power House
guards took out Migul's central actuator--Hah! you might call it his
heart!--and he now lies inert in the Power House."

"How do you know all this?" Tina demanded. "Where are the man and girl
whom Migul stole?"

"They are safe in the Power House. A message just came from there: I
received it on the palace personal, just now downstairs. Immediately
after, the connection met interference in the city, and broke."

"But the official sender--" Tina began. Tugh was urging her from the
Council Room, and Larry followed.

"I imagine," said Tugh wryly, "he is rather busy to consider reporting
such a trifle. But your friends are there. I was thinking: if we could
go there now--You know the secret underground route, Tina."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Princess was silent. A foreboding swept Larry; but he was tempted, for
above everything he wanted to join Mary and me. A confusion--understandable
enough in the midst of all this chaos--was upon Larry and Tina; it warped
their better judgment. And Larry, fearing to influence Tina wrongly, said
nothing.

"Do you know the underground route?" Tugh repeated.

"Yes, I know it."

"Then take us. We are all unarmed, but what matter? Bring this Larry,
if you wish; we will join his two friends. The Council, Tina, is doing
nothing here. They stay here because they think it is the safest
place. In the Power House you and I will be of help. There are only
six guards there; we will be three more; five more with Mary Atwood
and this George. The Power House aerial telephone must be in
communication with the outside world, and ships with help for us will
be arriving. There must be some intelligent direction!"

The three of them were descending into the lower corridor of the
palace, with Tina tempted but still half unconvinced. The corridors
were deserted at the moment. The little domestic Robots of the palace,
unaffected by the revolt, had all fled into their own quarters, where
they huddled inactive with terror.

"We will re-actuate Migul," Tugh persuaded, "and find out from him
what he did to Harl. I still do not think he murdered Harl.... It
might mean saving Harl's life, Tina. Believe me, I can make that
mechanism talk, and talk the truth!"

They reached the main lower corridor. In the distance they saw Alent
still at his post by the little electrified gate guarding the tunnel
to the Robot laboratory.

"We will go to the Power House," Tina suddenly decided: "you may be
right, Tugh.... Come, it is this way. Stay close to me, Larry."

       *       *       *       *       *

They passed along the dim, silent tunnel; passed Harl's room, where
its light was still burning. Larry and Tina were in front, with the
black-cloaked figure of Tugh stumping after them with his awkward
gait.

Larry abruptly stopped. "Let Tugh walk in front," he said.

Tugh came up to them. "What is that you said?"

"You walk in front."

It was a different tone from any Larry had previously used.

"I do not know the way," said Tugh. "How can--"

"Never mind that; walk ahead. We'll follow. Tina will direct you."

It was too dark for Larry to see Tugh's face, but the cripple's voice
was sardonic.

"You give me orders?"

"Yes--it just happens that from now on I do. If you want to go with us
to the Power House, you walk in front."

Tugh started off with Larry close after him. Larry whispered to the
girl:

"Don't let's be fools, Tina. Keep him ahead of us."

The tunnel steadily dwindled in size until Larry could barely stand up
in it. Then it opened to a circular cave, which held one small light
and had apparently no other exit. The cave had years before been a
mechanism room for the palace temperature controls, but now it was
abandoned. The old machinery stood about in a litter.

"In here?" said Tugh. "Which way next?"

Across the cave, on the rough blank wall, Tina located a hidden
switch. A segment of the wall slid aside, disclosing a narrow, vaulted
tunnel leading downward.

"You first, Tugh," said Larry. "Is it dark, Tina? We have no
handlights."

"I can light it," came the answer.

The door panel swung closed after them. Tina pressed another switch. A
row of tiny hooded lights at twenty-foot intervals dimly illumined the
descending passage.

       *       *       *       *       *

They walked a mile or more through the little tunnel. The air was
fetid; stale and dank. To Larry it seemed an interminable trip. The
narrow passage descended at a constant slope, until Larry estimated
that they were well below the depth of the river bed. Within half a
mile--before they got under the river--the passage leveled off. It had
been fairly straight, but now it became tortuous--a meandering
subterranean lane. Other similar tunnels crossed it, branched from it
or joined it. Soon, to Larry, it was a labyrinth of passages--a
network, here underground. In previous centuries this had been well
below the lowest cellar of the mammoth city; these tube-like passages
were the city's arteries, the conduits for wires and pipes.

It was an underground maze. At each intersection the row of hidden
hooded lights terminated, and darkness and several branching trails
always lay ahead. But Tina, with a memorized key of the route, always
found a new switch to light another short segment of the proper
tunnel. It was an eery trip, with the bent, misshapen black-cloaked
figure of Tugh stumping ahead, waiting where the lights ended for Tina
to lead them further.

Larry had long since lost his sense of direction, but presently Tina
told him that they were beneath the river. The tunnel widened a
little.

"We are under the base of the dam," said Tina. Her voice echoed with a
sepulchral blur. Ahead, the tramping figure of Tugh seemed a black
gnome with a fantastic, monstrous shadow swaying on the tunnel wall
and roof.

       *       *       *       *       *

Suddenly Tugh stopped. They found him at an arched door.

"Do we go in here, or keep on ahead?" he demanded.

The tunnel lights ended a short distance ahead.

"In here," said Tina. "There are stairs leading upward to the catwalk
balcony corridor halfway up the dam. We are not far from the Power
House now."

They then ascended interminable moldy stone steps spiraling upward in
a circular shaft. The murmur of the dam's spillways had been faintly
audible, but now it was louder, presently it became a roar.

"Which way, Tina? We seem to have reached the top."

"Turn left, Tugh."

They emerged upon a tiny transverse metal balcony which hung against
the southern side of the dam. Overhead to the right towered a great
wall of masonry. Beneath was an abyss down to the lower river level
where the cascading jets from the overhead spillways arched out over
the catwalk and landed far below in a white maelstrom of boiling,
bubbling water.

The catwalk was wet with spray; lashed by wind currents.

"Is it far, Princess? Are those lights ahead at the Power House
entrance?"

Tugh was shouting back over his shoulder; his words were caught by the
roar of the falling water; whipped away by the lashing spray and
tumultuous winds. There were lights a hundred feet ahead, marking an
entrance to the Power House. The dark end of the structure showed like
a great lump on the side of the dam.

Again Tugh stopped. In the white, blurred darkness Larry and Tina
could barely see him.

"Princess, quickly! Come quickly!" he called, and his shout sounded
agonized.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whatever lack of perception Larry all this time had shown, the fog
lifted completely from him now. As Tina started to run forward, Larry
seized her.

"Back! Run the other way! We've been fools!" He shoved Tina behind him
and rushed at Tugh. But now Larry was wholly wary; he expected that
Tugh was armed, and cursed himself for a fool for not having devised
some pretext for finding out.[10]

[Footnote 10: As a matter of actuality, Tugh was carrying hidden upon
his person a small cylinder and battery of the deadly white-ray. It
seems probable that although on the catwalk--having accomplished his
purpose of getting within the electrical fortifications of the
dam--Tugh had ample opportunity of killing his over-trustful
companions with the white-ray, he did not dare use it. The catwalk was
too dark for their figures to be visible to the Power House guards;
the roar of the spillways drowned their shouts; but had Tugh used the
white-ray, its abnormally intense actinic white beam would have raised
the alarm which Tugh most of all wanted to avoid.]

Tugh was clinging to the high outer rail of the balcony, slumped
partly over as though gazing down into the abyss. Larry rushed up and
seized him by the arms. If Tugh held a weapon Larry thought he could
easily wrest it from him. But Tugh stood limp in Larry's grip.

"What's the matter with you?" Larry demanded.

"I'm ill. Something--going wrong. Feel me--so cold. Princess! Tina!
Come quickly! I--I am dying!"

As Tina came hurrying up, Tugh suddenly straightened. With incredible
quickness, and even more incredible strength, he tore his arm loose
from Larry and flung it around the Princess, and they were suddenly
all three struggling. Tugh was shoving them back from the rail. Larry
tried to get loose from Tugh's clutch, but could not. He was too close
for a full blow, but he jabbed his fist against the cripple's body,
and then struck his face.

But Tugh was unhurt; he seemed endowed with superhuman strength. The
cripple's body seemed padded with solid muscle, and his thick,
gorilla-like arm held Larry in the grip of a vise. As though Larry and
Tina were struggling, helpless children, he was half dragging, half
carrying them across the ten-foot width of the catwalk.

Larry caught a glimpse of a narrow slit in the masonry of the dam's
wall--a dark, two-foot-wide aperture. He felt himself being shoved
toward it. For all his struggles, he was helpless. He shouted:

"Tina--look out! Break away!"

       *       *       *       *       *

He forgot himself for a moment, striving to wrest her away from Tugh
and push her aside. But the strength of the cripple was monstrous:
Larry had no possible chance of coping with it. The slit in the wall
was at hand--a dark abyss down into the interior of the dam. Larry
heard the cripple's words, vehement, unhurried, as though with all
this effort he still was not out of breath:

"At last I can dispose of you two. I do not need you any longer."

Larry made a last wild jab with his fist into Tugh's face and tried to
twist himself aside. The blow landed upon Tugh's jaw, but the cripple
did not seem to feel it. He stuffed the struggling Larry like a bundle
into the aperture. Larry felt his clutching hands torn loose. Tugh
gave a last, violent shove and released him.

Larry fell into blackness--but not far, for soon he struck water. He
went under, hit a flat, stone bottom, and came up to hear Tina fall
with a splash beside him. In a moment he regained his feet, to find
himself standing breast-high in the water with Tina clinging to him.

Tugh had disappeared. The aperture showed as a narrow rectangle some
twenty feet above Larry's head.

They were within the dam. They were in a pit of smooth, blank,
perpendicular sides; there was nothing to afford even the slightest
handhold; and no exit save the overhead slit. It was a part of the
mechanism's internal, hydraulic system.

       *       *       *       *       *

To Larry's horror he soon discovered that the water was slowly rising!
It was breast-high to him now, and inch by inch it crept up toward his
chin. It was already over Tina's depth: she clung to him,
half-swimming.

Larry soon found that there was no possible way for them to get out
unaided, unless, if they could swim long enough, the rising water
would rise to the height of the aperture. If it reached there, they
could crawl out. He tried to estimate how long that would be.

"We can make it, Tina. It'll take two hours, possibly, but I can keep
us afloat that long."

But soon he discovered that the water was not rising. Instead, the
floor was sinking from under him! sinking as though he were standing
upon the top of a huge piston which slowly was lowering in its
encasing cylinder. Dimly he could hear water tumbling into the pit, to
fill the greater depth and still hold the surface level.

With the water at his chin, Larry guided Tina to the wall. He did not
at first have the heart to tell her, yet he knew that soon it must be
told. When he did explain it, she said nothing. They watched the water
surface where it lapped against the greasy concave wall. It held its
level: but while Larry stood there, the floor sank so that the water
reached his mouth and nose, and he was forced to start swimming.

Another interval. Larry began calling: shouting futilely. His voice
filled the pit, but he knew it could carry no more than a short
distance out of the aperture.

       *       *       *       *       *

Overhead, as we afterward learned, Tugh had overcome the guards in the
Power House by a surprise attack. Doubtless he struck them down with
the white-ray before they had time to realize he had attacked them.
Then he threw off the air-power transmitters and the lighting system.
The city, plunged into darkness and without the district air-power,
was isolated, cut off from the outside world. There was, in London, a
huge long-range projector with a vibratory ray which would derange the
internal mechanisms of the Robots: when news of the revolt and
massacre in New York had reached there, this projector was loaded into
an airliner, the _Micrad_. That vessel was now over the ocean, headed
for New York; but when Tugh cut off the power senders, the _Micrad_,
entering the New York District, was forced down to the ocean surface.
Now she was lying there helpless to proceed....

In the pit within the dam, Larry swam endlessly with Tina. He had
ceased his shouting.

"It's no use, Tina: there's no one to hear us. This is the end--for
us--Tina."

Yet, as she clung to him, and though Larry felt it was the end of this
life, it seemed only the beginning, for them, of something else.
Something, somewhere, for them together; something perhaps infinitely
better than this world could ever give them.

"But not--the end--Tina," he added. "The beginning--of our love."

An interminable interval....

"Quietly, Tina. You float. I can hold you up."

They were rats in a trap--swimming, until at the last, with all
strength gone, they would together sink out of this sodden muffled
blackness into the Unknown. But that Unknown shone before Larry now as
something--with Tina--perhaps very beautiful....

(_Concluded in the next issue_)

[Advertisement]



[Illustration: The Readers' Corner]

_A meeting Place for Readers of_ Astounding Stories


_What Say Our Co-Editors?_

     Dear Editor:

     Since sending you "Manape the Mighty," I have read of a
     Russian scientist who removed the brain from a dog and kept
     both alive for some hours, which only goes to prove that
     science outstrips the wildest dreams of the fictionist, and
     a yarn that may be astounding and unusual when written, may
     be commonplace, and the knowledge of the man in the street,
     by the time the story goes to press. People read every day
     of "miracles" and scarcely give them a second thought, while
     a hundred years ago their perpetrators would have been
     destroyed as witches.

     Far be it for me, or anyone else, to say that the main
     transposition used in "Manape the Mighty" is absurd and
     impossible. For while you, or I, may shrug shoulders and
     dismiss even the thought of it as being the dream of a
     madman, somebody, in some laboratory somewhere, may already
     have successfully managed it. So given the premise that the
     thing may be possible, I've sort of let myself go on this
     idea, and a whole new train of thought has been opened up, a
     whole new vista of astounding things in the realm of Science
     Fiction. In parenthesis, I must thank you for getting me
     started on the thing, for had you not suggested the idea
     from the throne-like fortress of your editorial chair,
     "Manape" might never have been born. I confess that I would
     perhaps have been afraid of it, both because of the
     possibility of the charge of following in the footsteps of
     the internationally famous Edgar Rice Burroughs, and of
     re-vamping the incomparable Poe tale, "Murders in the Rue
     Morgue."

     But, even so, both are interesting to dally with.

     Given the premise that the brain transference is possible,
     what would happen:

     (1) If the brain of a terrible criminal were transferred to
     the skull pan of an unusually mighty ape--and the ape
     transplanted from his arboreal home in Africa to the streets
     of London, Paris or New York whence the criminal whose brain
     he has originated? Suppose his man's brain harbored thoughts
     of vengeance on enemies, and he now possesses the might of
     the great ape to carry out his vengeance?

     (2) If Barter somehow escaped destruction at the hands of
     the apes in "Manape the Mighty," and continued with his work
     of brain transference--building up a mighty army of great
     apes with the idea of avenging himself on civilization for
     wrongs real and fancied? Apes with broadswords and chained
     mail, with steel helmets on their heads--men's brains,
     savages' brains, perhaps, as their guiding intelligence--and
     the tenacity of apes when mortally wounded? Suppose they
     swept over Africa like a cloud of locusts? Or is this too
     feeble a simile? Suppose, Africa, to be laid waste by them,
     led by Barter, the latter styling himself a modern Alexander
     of horrible potentiality, and extending his scope of
     conquest to the Holy Land, India, Asia--the Pacific
     littoral? Holy cats!

     (3) Suppose that Barter managed, by purchase or otherwise,
     to acquire an island close to the American continents,
     within reach of either or both, and managed to transfer his
     activities there, using the natives of those islands--say
     Haiti, Cuba, Porto Rico, etc.--for his experiments, training
     his cohorts as an army, and starting a navy by capturing all
     vessels putting into these places? Fancy the consternation
     of the Western Hemisphere when ships suddenly go silent, as
     regards radio, after sudden mysterious SOS's--and all trace
     of vessels is lost. Suppose the U. S. Navy went to
     investigate, and also vanished. More holy cats!

     (4) Suppose, in connection with all the suppositions above,
     that Barter desired to give an ironic twist to his
     experiments, and kept his human victims alive--but with
     apes' brains--as slaves of their man-ape conquerors? Suppose
     that out of the horror into which the world would be thrown,
     another Bentley should arise to help the imprisoned humans
     to escape their ghastly bondage? I can fancy his trials and
     tribulations, trying to manage a host of human beings with
     the brains of apes.

     (5) And what about the training of internes and medicos to
     help a potential Barter, when the trade got beyond his sole
     ability--and apes with men's brains to perform his
     experiments?

     Do you suppose we'd all get locked up for experimenting with
     this sort of thing fictionally? I wouldn't care to take the
     entire responsibility myself, nor I fancy would you--because
     somebody might be inspired by our stories to attempt the
     thing--so might I suggest that all possible conspirators, in
     the shape of readers of this magazine, write to you or me
     and let us know whether they'd like to see it happen
     fictionally? If the idea appeals--and of course we can't go
     too heavily on horror--I'll do my best to comply. Always
     within limits, however--utterly refusing to perform any
     experiments that can't be done with a typewriter and the
     usual two fingers.--Arthur J. Burks, 178-80 Fifth Ave., New
     York City.


"_Like in Story Books_"

     Dear Editor:

     Here I am again! This time I'm offering suggestions. Let's
     you and I and others get together and do something to these
     chronic kickers. It seems I can't start to enjoy our
     "Readers' Corner" without someone raising a halloo. Darn
     it! Why in heaven's name do they buy A. S. if they don't
     like it? They are not compelled to do so.

     I also don't understand why people are knocking the size and
     quality of the paper used. It suits me O. K. All the mags I
     read are the same way, and I pay five cents more for them,
     too!

     I surely enjoyed Mr. Olog's letter in the March issue. Gee,
     it gives one the creeps. I agree with him, too, that we
     ought to have a little something about the authors. I'm sure
     we'd all like to know a little more about these talented
     persons.

     "When the Mountain Came to Miramar" was a great deal to my
     liking. I think it would be a great adventure to discover
     some secret cave and explore it. Of course, I'd like to
     wiggle out of danger, too, just like in story books.

     I certainly wish to congratulate you on publishing "Beyond
     the Vanishing Point." It just suited me to a "T."
     Heretofore, all stories dealing with life upon atoms have
     been "just another story," but this one beats all. I enjoyed
     it to the utmost, and I congratulate Mr. Cummings on writing
     my favorite kind of story.

     All in all the March issue was indeed grand. If "Brown-Eyed
     Nineteen from Coronado, Calif.," will send me her full name
     and address, I'll promise to answer her letter immediately
     upon receiving it.--Gertrude Hemken, 5730 So. Ashland Ave.,
     Chicago, Ill.


_And So Do We_

     Dear Editor:

     It certainly is a swell idea of yours to answer letters to
     "The Readers' Corner" personally instead of taking up a lot
     of room answering them underneath as do most Editors. Not
     only that, but it builds up a feeling of friendship, between
     the Reader and the Editor, besides affording more room to
     publish letters and avoiding some of the bad feelings
     sometimes directed upon Editors when they do not publish
     someone's letter.

     Now, with your kind permission, I will burst into the little
     (?) ring of discussion about size, reprints, covers, artists
     and authors.

     First, about the size and edges: The size is O. K., but I
     wish you would change the edges from a "rocky mountain" to a
     "desert" state. In other words, I would like straight edges
     in the near future.

     Next, reprints: In two letters, an N O--No! If the Readers
     want reprints why doesn't Mr. Clayton publish an annual
     chock full of reprints for these reprint hounds?

     Covers and artists: The covers have all been great. Not too
     lurid. Just right. As for the artists, Wesso is the best by
     a long shot. Nuff said.

     Authors: Ah, that's a problem. Who is the best? I could rack
     my brain for hours and still not decide, so I'll have to
     give a list of my favorites: R. F. Starzl, Edmond Hamilton,
     Harl Vincent, Sewell Peaslee Wright, Jack Williamson, S. P.
     Meek, Miles J. Breuer and Ray Cummings.

     Before I close there is one little thing I would like to
     mention. Did you ever notice that 75% of all the Readers who
     say they do not care for science in their stories are women?
     [?] Besides that, the only ones at school who think I'm
     "cracked" for reading Science Fiction are females. Figure it
     out for yourself.

     I hope you, Mr. Bates, will continue to be our able Editor
     for many years to come.--Jim Nicholson, Ass't Sec'y., B. S.
     C., 40 Lunado Way, San Francisco, Calif.


_Four to One_

     Dear Editor:

     Congratulations to Wesso! His March cover for "our" magazine
     is Astounding!

     Ray Cummings' novelette, "Beyond the Vanishing Point," is
     absolutely the most marvelous of all his short stories. I
     can't rave over it enough. I never read his "The Girl of the
     Golden Atom" but I imagine this must be something like it.
     It's certainly the best of the "long short stories" that's
     ever graced the insides of Astounding Stories.

     "When the Mountain Came to Miramar" is a very good story in
     my opinion. "Terrors Unseen" is a wow! No foolin'. As for
     "Phalanxes of Atlans," well, I simply can't get interested
     in it. I thought the first part very uninteresting and
     decided not to bother to read the rest of it. But Wesso's
     splendid illustration made me do so. But I still think it is
     a rather poor story. But, true to form, someone will no
     doubt think it the most wonderful story ever written.

     Last, but not least, of all the stories comes "The Meteor
     Girl." It's by Jack Williamson: need more be said?
     No!--Forrest J. Ackerman, President-Librarian, The B. S. C.,
     530 Staples Avenue, San Francisco, Calif.


_That Awful Thing Called Love_

     Dear Editor:

     Upon the occasion of my first visit to "The Readers'
     Corner," I wish to say that Astounding Stories leads the
     field in Science Fiction stories as far as I am concerned,
     though at first I found them to be just so-so.

     "Beyond the Vanishing Point," by Ray Cummings, proved
     interesting through-out. "Terrors Unseen," by Harl Vincent,
     was fairly good, as was "Phalanxes of Atlans," by F. V. W.
     Mason.

     But now comes the rub. Just why do you permit your Authors
     to inject messy love affairs into otherwise excellent
     imaginative fiction? Just stop and think. Our young
     hero-scientist builds himself a space flyer, steps out into
     the great void, conquers a thousand and one perils on his
     voyage and amidst our silent cheers lands on some far
     distant planet. Then what does he do? I ask you. He falls in
     love with a maiden--or it's usually a princess--of the
     planet to which the Reader has followed him, eagerly
     awaiting and hoping to share each new thrill attached to his
     gigantic flight. But after that it becomes merely a
     hopeless, doddering love affair ending by his returning to
     Earth with his fair one by his side. Can you grasp that--a
     one-armed driver of a space flyer!

     But seriously, don't you think that affairs of the heart are
     very much out of place in "our" type of magazine? We buy A.
     S. for the thrill of being changed in size, in time, in
     dimension or being hurtled through space at great speed, but
     not to read of love.

     Right here I wish to join forces with Glyn Owens up there in
     Canada in his request for plain, cold scientific stories
     sans the fair sex.

     Otherwise your "our" magazine is the best of its kind on the
     market--W. H. Flowers. 1215 N. Lang Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa.


_Brickbats for Others_

     Dear Editor:

     Brickbats and plenty of them are coming, but not your way.
     I'm throwing mine at those guys that want reprints, more
     science, etc. The only one I agree with is the fellow who
     would like a thicker magazine with more stories.

     Now for the brickbats. I'll bet a great many of your Readers
     have read some of these reprints that some of our Readers
     are crying for. I'll also bet that reprints would not help
     your friendly connections with a lot of your Authors. The
     stories that are written now I find good. Let the present
     authors make their living from the stories their brains
     think up.

     As for more science, bah!--your present amount is enough. In
     another magazine I read a story and just as it reached its
     climax they started explaining something! If any Reader
     wants to write to me my address is below.--Arthur Mann, Jr.,
     San Juan, California.


_Wants Interplanetary Cooperation_

     Dear Editor:

     C'n y'imagine, I have my Astounding Science magazine two
     whole hours and the cover is still on!

     Let's have some more stories like "Beyond the Vanishing
     Point," by Ray Cummings in the March issue.

     Another thing, let's have more interplanetary stories than
     we do. I think they give you something to really think
     about.

     Why is it that in every interplanetary story the other race
     is always hostile. Just think, would we, if we received
     visitors from space, make war on them? Also, when our people
     make an interplanetary flight, would we go with intent to
     kill? Let's have some stories, where the first
     interplanetary flight leads to cooperation between the
     planets involved.--Dave Diamond, 1350--52nd St., Brooklyn,
     N. Y.


_In Every Way, True_

     Dear Editor:

     I want to rejoice again over Astounding Stories. Reprints or
     no:--and I hunger for them--the magazine must be described
     in superlatives.

     The reasons is pretty clear to me. After years in an
     experimental stage, Science Fiction suddenly turned up with
     a clash of cymbals in the shape of a definite magazine. It
     had to cover the whole field, and its successors tried to do
     the same. Due to its ancestry its logical scope was the more
     technical Science Fiction farthest removed from sheer
     fantasy, but, none-the-less, one of the most important
     branches. Now it is specializing in that type.

     When Astounding Stories appeared many of us were apt to be
     skeptical, particularly when we noticed that an established
     corporation was backing it, one that had been limited to
     westerns and the like. The first few issues came and there
     was a dubious tinge of the occult, the "black-magical." This
     petered out, and we noticed that no matter how poor the
     subject matter from the point of view of Science Fiction,
     the style of writing was almost always on the highest level.

     Then we realized that this magazine was no menace to the
     literature of Science Fiction, but a valuable addition. It
     could afford the better writers and hence keep up the
     quality of work of every writer. It was adopting as its own
     a type of Science Fiction that the rest minimized, and that
     demanded good writing--a type having a skeleton of science,
     like the girders of a great building, holding it erect and
     determining its shape, yet holding the skeleton of less
     importance than the vision of the completed edifice. Stories
     with emphasis on the fiction rather than the science.

     But enough of that. Here is a hopeful thought for the
     time-travelers. There is nothing in physics or chemistry to
     prevent you from going into the past or future--at least,
     the future--and shaking hands with yourself or killing
     yourself. We will eliminate the past, for it seems that it
     cannot be altered physically. But take the future: not so
     very far from to-day the matter of your body will have been
     totally replaced by new matter; the old will disappear in
     waste. Physically, you will be a new man, and physically the
     matter of to-day may destroy that of to-morrow and return in
     itself unaltered. But none-the-less there will be some
     limiting interval during which "you" have not been entirely
     transformed to new matter, so that an atom would have to be
     in two places at once.

     Maybe time-traveling progresses in little jumps like
     emission of light. And maybe an atom can be in two places at
     once. If you are going to treat time as just another
     dimension, there seems to be no reason why an object which
     can be in one place at two times cannot be at one time in
     two places. This is all physics. The paradoxes of
     time-traveling arise more particularly from its effect on
     what we call consciousness, the something that makes me
     "me"--an individual. We can imagine an atom in two places at
     once, but not a soul, if you will. This will not bother the
     materialist who considers a living creature merely a
     machine, but it will most of us. So I must be content with
     offering a materialistic possibility of traveling in time.

     The Science Correspondence Club wishes to extend its
     invitation to all Readers in other nations to join with all
     privileges save that of holding office. The latter may later
     be changed as our international membership increases. We
     have laboratory branches here, and we want them abroad in
     addition to scattered members. Then, it will be necessary to
     have a governing body and director in every country. At
     present all matters pertaining to foreign membership pass
     through my hands and I will do my best to supply information
     to all who seek it. We will also be glad to hear of the work
     and plans of other similar organizations in other countries,
     as we are doing with the German Verein für Raumschauffert.
     Address all inquiries to me at 302 So. Ten Broeck St.,
     Scotia, New York, U. S. A.--P. Schuyler Miller, Foreign
     Director, S. C. C.


"_A Wow!_"

     Dear Editor:

     Astounding Stories magazine is a wow! I can hardly wait
     until next month for the April issue. "The Phalanxes of
     Atlans," "Beyond the Vanishing Point" and "The Pirate
     Planet" are perfect. Every time I start a story I never stop
     till it's finished. I hope that there will appear even
     better stories in later issues.

     Here's wishing you the best of success,--Fred Damato, 196
     Greene St., New Haven, Conn.


_Is Zat So!_

     Dear Editor:

     Just a word or two. I have read several issues of Astounding
     Stories and I notice that you have taken the word "science"
     off the cover. It's just as well, for it was never inside
     the cover, anyway. If you thought to attract Readers from
     real Science Fiction fans you were all wet, for they would
     never fall for the kind of things you printed. Besides,
     "what," a real fan wants to know "how." There may be, I'll
     admit, a class of Readers who like your stories, but for me
     I think that you ought to print real Science Fiction or
     abandon the attempt and publish out and out fairy tales. Is
     everybody so pleased with your book that you receive nothing
     but commendatory letters? That appears to be all you print,
     at any rate. So long--Harry Pancoast, 306 West 28th St.,
     Wilmington, Delaware.


_Short and Sweet_

     Dear Editor:

     I agree perfectly with Gertrude Hemken, of Chicago.
     Astounding Stories is O. K. Why do we want a lot of deep
     science with our stories? We read for pleasure not to learn
     science.

     I have been reading Astounding Stories since the first
     issue, and I have enjoyed every story. I read several
     Science Fiction magazines but yours is the best.--Stephen L.
     Garcia, 47 Hazel Ave., Redwood City, Calif.


_Shorter and Sweeter_

     Dear Editor:

     The only good things about Astounding Stories are as
     follows:

     The cover design, the stories, the size of the magazine, the
     illustrations in the magazine and the Authors.--John
     Mackens, 366 W. 96th St., New York City.


_Sequels Requested_

     Dear Editor:

     I was out of reading matter so I bought the August issue of
     Astounding Stories, and it was so good that I have been
     buying it ever since. The only things I don't like about the
     magazine are the quality of the paper, which I think could
     be improved, and the uneven pages. The other Science Fiction
     magazine that I read has its pages even.

     Astounding Stories has a much better type of stories than
     the other magazine. There are only a few stories I have seen
     in your magazine which do not belong there. They are: "A
     Problem in Communication," which is not so much fiction and
     does not have much of a plot, and "The Ape-men of Xloti,"
     which was very well written and very interesting, but did
     not have enough science in it.

     I would like to see sequels to the following stories:
     "Marooned Under the Sea," "Beyond the Vanishing Point,"
     "Monsters of Mars," telling about another effort of the
     crocodile-men to conquer Earth, "The Gray Plague," telling
     of another attack by the Venusians, and, most of all,
     "Vagabonds of Space." I would like to see a story about
     their further adventures about every three months, just as I
     see the stories about Commander Hanson.

     I wish the best of luck for Astounding Stories.--Bill
     Bailey, 1404 Wightman St., Pittsburgh, Pa.


_Come Again_

     Dear Editor:

     Although I have been an interested Reader of Astounding
     Stories since its inception, this is the first time that I
     have written; but "our" magazine has been so good lately
     that I just had to write and compliment you on your good
     work.

     There are just two criticisms I have of Astounding Stories.
     The first is that the binding sometimes comes off; the
     second is the rough edges. I join with many other Readers in
     complaining that uneven edges make it hard to find a certain
     page and also give the mag a cheap looking appearance.

     In my opinion the two best serials you have printed are
     "Brigands of the Moon" and "The Pirate Planet." The four
     best novelettes are: "Marooned Under the Sea," "The
     Fifth-Dimension Catapult," "Beyond the Vanishing Point" and
     "Vagabonds of Space."--Eugene Bray, Campbell, Mo.


_How Simple!_

     Dear Editor:

     Just a few lines to set Mr. Greenfeld right on that question
     of how a man could be disintegrated and then reintegrated as
     two (or more) similar men.

     Briefly, the atomic or molecular structure of the original
     man could serve as a pattern to be set up in the
     reintegrating machine or machines while he is being
     dissolved by the disintegrating machine. Thus, the
     reintegrators could reconstruct any number of similar men by
     following the pattern of his molecular structure and drawing
     on a prearranged supply of the basic elements.

     As for the "soul," that is merely the manifestation of the
     chemical combinations in the man's body, and when said
     chemical combinations are duplicated, the "soul" simply
     follows suit.--Joseph N. Mosleh, 4002 Sixth Ave., Brooklyn,
     N. Y.


_Both in One Issue_

     Dear Editor:

     I think it's about time to let you know what I think of your
     wonderful magazine. Of course, I have my dislikes but they
     are very few. I wish you would make up your magazine larger
     and even the pages up. The best complete novelettes I have
     read were both in the same issue. They were "Monsters of
     Mars," by Edmond Hamilton and "Four Miles Within," by
     Anthony Gilmore. Wesso is by far your best artist. Please
     keep him. All the other Science Fiction magazines have
     quarterlies. Why don't you have one?

     Good-by, and keep Astounding Stories up to its present
     standard.--Frederick Morrison, Long Beach, Calif.


"_Good As Is_"

     Dear Editor:

     I have been reading your mag for about five months and I
     like it very much. I don't see what those guys want a
     quarterly for. This mag is good as it is and there is no use
     to spoil it. Wesso is a swell artist, and the best story I
     read was "The Wall of Death."

     I'd like to get acquainted with some of your Readers. How
     about it, boys?

     I'll sign off.--L. Sloan, Box 101, Onset, Mass.


_Just Imagine!_

     Dear Editor:

     To begin, I am a mechanic more or less skilled in the
     handling of tools. Now, while I have seen many builders with
     tools who were dubbed "spineless," "poor fish," etc., it was
     not because they remotely resembled the piscatorial or
     Crustacea families.

     It seems to me that when an author endows reptiles,
     cuttlefish, etc., with superhuman intelligence, and paints a
     few pictures of them as master-mechanics in the use of
     tools, then I want to take the magazine I am reading, that
     allows such silly slush in its pages, and feed it to my
     billy-goat; he may be able to digest such silliness, but I
     can't!

     However, there is a redeeming feature of this sort of story:
     although not written as comedy, they have a comic effect,
     when one uses his imagination. Imagine, for instance, a
     giant sea crab as a traffic cop! He could direct four
     streams of traffic at once while making a date with the
     sweet young thing whom he had held up for a traffic
     violation! Then think what a great, intelligent reptile,
     crocodile, or what have you, could do in our Prohibition
     Enforcement Service! He could place his armored body across
     the road, and when rum runners bumped into him he could take
     his handy disintegrator and turn their load of white
     lightning back into the original corn patch! And suppose a
     giant, humanly-intelligent centipede should make too much
     whoopee some night, and endeavor to slip upstairs without
     waking the wife. Even if he succeeded in getting off his
     thousand pairs of shoes, which is doubtful, he would have a
     sweet time keeping his myriad of legs under control after
     partaking of some of the tangle-foot dispensed nowadays!

     I hope your Authors will read and heed the delicate sarcasm
     contained in the letter of Robert R. Young in your April
     issue.--Carl F. Morgan, 427 E. Columbia Ave., College Park,
     Ga.


"_Craves Excitement_"

     Dear Editor:

     I have been a silent Reader of your magazine for quite a
     long while, but have finally decided to come forth with my
     own little contribution to "The Readers' Corner." So far I
     have seen only two other women Readers' letters. I suppose
     most women are interested in love stories, though I fail to
     see anything very exciting in any that are written nowadays;
     and I crave excitement in my reading. I've read about most
     everything there is about this old earth, so I've decided to
     wander into new fields.

     Now for a little discussion about Astounding Stories. I
     haven't any brickbats to throw. You seem to get more of them
     than is necessary. I like the size, the price, the cover,
     the illustrator, the authors, etc. Some stories don't
     exactly take my fancy but the average is 100% with me.

     Some that particularly pleased me were "Marooned Under the
     Sea," way back in the September issue, "Jetta of the
     Low-lands" and "Beyond the Vanishing Point." "Gray Denim"
     and "Ape-men of Xloti" in the December issue rite A-1, too.

     I congratulate Roy Cummings on his new story, even though I
     haven't started to read it yet. I always know I'll enjoy his
     work, no matter what it is. Time-traveling is one of my
     special dishes, too.

     Here's a little dig. I'm sorry, I didn't think I'd have any,
     but I just thought of this. It seems to me that I never see
     any stories written by two authors. Of course the stories by
     single authors are O. K., but the particular two I am
     thinking of are Edgar A. Manley and Walter Thode. They wrote
     "The Time Annihilator," as you probably know. That was one
     of the best time-traveling stories I have ever read. I'm
     only sorry that it couldn't have been published by
     Astounding Stories.

     Well, I don't want to make myself tiresome the very first
     time, so I'll sign off. Please excuse the rather
     unconventional stationary, but I'm writing this at the
     office in my spare time. Hope I haven't worn my welcome out,
     but I had so much stored up to say.

     I'm waiting for the April issue, so please hurry it
     up.--Betty Mulharen, 50 E. Philadelphia Ave, Detroit, Mich.


_A Daisy for S. P. Wright_

     Dear Editor:

     Were good old President George Washington himself to travel
     through time to the present and look upon the April issue of
     Astounding Stories, I am certain he would only repeat what I
     say: "Editor, I cannot tell a lie. This is the best issue
     yet!"

     The cover on this issue is unique in that Astounding Stories
     is written in red and white letters. I do not recall of ever
     having seen this done to any Science Fiction magazine
     before. Wesso's illustration leaves nothing to be desired.

     Going straight through the book: "The Monsters of Mars."
     Good old Edmond Hamilton saves the world for us again in the
     very nick of time--and we like it, too! Here's hoping
     there's a million more dangers threatening Terra for Mr.
     Hamilton to save us from! By the way, I wonder who drew the
     illustration for this story? I can't make out his name.
     Next: "The Exile of Time," by Cummings. Exciting and well
     illustrated. "Hell's Dimension" is well-written and very
     interesting. Would have liked it longer. "The World Behind
     the Moon" is splendid. More by Mr. Ernst, please. More from
     Mr. Gilmore, too, because of his novelette, "Four Miles
     Within." "The Lake of Light" by that popular author Jack
     Williamson surpasses his "The Meteor Girl" in a recent issue
     of "our" magazine. And now I come to the last and perhaps
     most interesting story of the issue: Mr. Sewell Peaslee
     Wright's record of the interplanetary adventures of the
     Special Patrol as told by Commander John Hanson. This series
     is unsurpassable in its vivid realness. I can't help but
     believe that these tales really occurred, or will occur in
     the distant future. And Mr. Wright is as expert at
     conceiving new forms of life as Edmond Hamilton is at saving
     our Earth.

     "The Readers' Corner" is an interesting feature, and I am
     glad to hear that "Murder Madness" and "Brigands of the
     Moon" are now in book form.--Forrest J. Ackerman, 530
     Staples Ave., San Francisco, Calif.


_Mass Production_

     Dear Editor:

     After reading Mr. Greenfield's letter in your April issue
     regarding my story, "An Extra Man," I feel that I should
     like to call his attention to a point which, it seems to me,
     he has overlooked, namely, that the reconstructed men were
     not composed of the original physical matter of the
     disintegrated man but of identical elements, all of which
     are at present known and available to science.

     According to the hypothesis, Drayle could have produced as
     many entities as he desired and provided for, just as a
     radio broadcast is reproduced in as many places as are
     prepared for its reception. The vibrations alone are
     transmitted, and the reproduction is the result of a
     reciprocal mechanical action by physical matter at the
     receiving end. Any radio engineer knows that the original
     sound waves are not transported, but merely their impress
     upon the electrical radio wave. So, Drayle's disintegrating
     and sending apparatus only transmitted the vibrations which
     enabled his machines at the receiving end to select from a
     more than adequate supply of raw material, in due proportion
     and quantities, as much as was required for the reproduction
     of the disintegrated entities.

     I think that if Mr. Greenfield will reread the story, noting
     the following references, he will agree that if the
     hypothesis is accepted the conclusion is logical:

     1--It is only Jackson Gee and not Drayle who speaks of
     transmitting the constituent elements by radio (page 120).

     2--The scientist, Drayle, says, (page 129) "We already know
     the elements that make the human body, and we can put them
     together in the their proper proportions and arrangements;
     but we have not been able to introduce the vitalizing spark,
     the key vibrations, to start it going." He does not say that
     tangible matter can be transmitted by radio.

     3--In the account of Drayle's preliminary experiments (page
     122) there is no statement to the effect that the original
     material composing the disintegrated glass was used in its
     recreation.

     4--There is nothing in the story to indicate that the
     original physical composition of the disintegrated man was
     transported, in any manner to any outside location. The
     process of disintegration was necessary to obtain the
     vibrations that would make possible their repetition, which
     under proper conditions would induce a reproduction of the
     original, just as a song must be sung before it can be
     reproduced upon a phonograph disc, but which, once recorded
     can be repeated times without number.

     5--Drayle's question (page 124) "Have you arranged the
     elements?" refers to the elements out of which all mankind
     is composed and which Drayle has previously mentioned (page
     120).

     6--The narrator emphasizes this aspect of the discovery when
     he says, on page 124, "I seemed to see man's (not the man's)
     elementary dust and vapors whirled from great containers
     upward into a stratum of shimmering air and gradually assume
     the outlines of a human form that became first opaque, then
     solid, and then a sentient being." And again (page 126),
     "The best of the race could be multiplied indefinitely and
     man could make man literally out of the dust of the earth."
     This does not imply a split-up of one individual into
     several smaller sizes or fractional parts, but rather the
     production of identical entities exactly as thousands of
     phonograph records can be created from the master matrix.

     7--As to the question of soul, I suggest that inasmuch as
     what we call the soul of an individual is always judged by
     that individual's behavior, and that medical science now
     maintains that behavior is largely dependent upon our
     physical mechanism, it would follow that the identical human
     mechanisms would have identical souls.--Jackson Gee.


"_The Readers' Corner_"

All Readers are extended a sincere and cordial invitation to "come
over in 'The Readers' Corner'" and join in our monthly discussion of
stories, authors, scientific principles and possibilities--everything
that's of common interest in connection with our Astounding Stories.

Although from time to time the Editor may make a comment or so, this
is a department primarily for _Readers_, and we want you to make full
use of it. Likes, dislikes, criticisms, explanations, roses,
brickbats, suggestions--everything's welcome here: so "come over in
'The Readers' Corner'" and discuss it with all of us!

_The Editor._

       *       *       *       *       *





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