When Atlantis Was (Conclusion)

by H. F. Arnold

Amazing Stories
December, 1937
Cover by Morey

The earliest account of Atlantis for which we have a record comes from the Greek philosopher, Plato, although it has been suggested that Plato may have based his idea on even earlier works. Exactly who the Atlanteans were, where Atlantis was located and when their civilization existed has varied greatly over the years and many authors have attempted to incorporate Atlantis into their own works, along with their own explanations of who, where and when—Burroughs, Verne, Doyle, Haggard, Hyne and many others (even Booth Tarkington) used Atlantis as a central part, or at least window dressing, in their works.

Arnold’s take on Atlantis presents yet another origin for the lost continent that ties into the (then) present day. His dating for the events (revealed in the first part of the story) seems a bit at odds with many other authors and researchers, but his placement of the continent is consistent with many modern theories.

Without giving anything away, we will simply say that the conclusion of “When Atlantis Was” adds another layer of originality to the story, although in some spots, it reads like a rehash of “The City of Iron Cubes,” with benevolence in place of malevolence.

“When Atlantis Was (Conclusion)” originally appeared in the December, 1937 issue of Amazing Stories.

Bob Gay
November, 2023
Introduction © 2023 by Bob Gay
What’s Gone Before:

Our story is distinctly divisible into two parts. The first part has told us of a fleet of United States Navy ships, including a very fast Destroyer which turns out to be the principal feature of the story, carrying the characters through a series of wonderful adventures.

At first everything seems as it ought to be, practice maneuvers are going on and the Destroyer the “Farragut” is taking her part in a perfectly normal manner. A smoke screen is ordered and the “Farragut” called affectionately the “McGinty” by her crew dashes into the smoke screen’s pitchy darkness and eventually emerges into broad daylight and loses all track of the fleet. The commander finds himself in the water, not knowing how he got there and the mysteries of the story begin. He is rescued and the “McGinty” finds everything so strange and only to be accounted for by her being in some past geologic age.

In spite of the utter mystification of her crew and officers, she proceeds on her way and at last finds herself in what was afterwards to be the harbor of New York. She finds shelter there in time to escape a violent storm. It is determined that there must be an exploring party to investigate their landfall. They find themselves on what was to be Manhattan Island. They are armed for defense and make what may be called some narrow escapes from animals of the geologic ages. One of the party succumbs. They encounter a huge saurian, an indication of what they may expect to find in what is really a prehistoric era. A great air vehicle comes down out of the sky and makes a landing and a most interesting lot of passengers are released from her cabins, many of them women. They have come from a distant planet and the sailors, true to the nature of the animal, are greatly attracted by the beautiful arrivals. They make their acquaintances, manage to pick up something of the language and what happens next will be told in this issue.

The story of the adventures of the “McGinty” and of their intercourse with the beautiful beings is told quite entrancingly in the concluding portion of the story.

AS they stooped for the body there was the sound of a shot some distance ahead and the scout came running toward them from the upper end of the clearing.

“Lieutenant,” he gasped as he approached. “Come quick! I’ve just shot a man!”

“Impossible,” snorted the commander, but signing to one of the sailors to set up the machine gun and guard the body of Morton, he set out with the rest of the party in the direction of the advance.

It was true. Flat on his face in a little glade some four hundred yards from the scene of their battle with the lizard was the figure of a man. The body was unclothed, almost hairless and although of a deep tan was undoubtedly white.

“Where there’s men, there’s women,” said McSaunders, turning the body over with the butt of his rifle. Beneath the body was a large and heavy battle axe of crude flint. The corpse had a bullet in the back.

Morgan dropped to his knees by the savage and made some quick calculations.

“No, Mac,” he said, at last, “this isn’t a man. Or rather it isn’t a man of any race that existed in our day. Look at the proportions of leg length to arm length. And look at the size. Man, he’s nearly seven feet tall.”

“What is he then? He looks human to me.”

“Oh, he’s human enough all right,” said the commander, dusting off his knees as he rose to his feet. “He’s Cro-Magnon, member of an extinct race, that died out some 25,000 years ago, and nobody ever knew that his race reached the North American continent.”

“If this is it,” said McSaunders grimly, “I’m beginning to think it’s nightmare land instead. Let’s get back before we have to fight off a unicorn or a diplodocus or something.”

“I think we’d better,” Johnny decided. “Advancing through this sort of country is too dangerous. We’ll send the plane out to scout. Fellows like the lizard you blew up can only exist in low lying swamp land. We’ll look for higher ground.”

Leaving the body of the Cro-Magnon where he fell they started the return to the posted machine gunner.

“How did it happen, Wheeler?” asked Morgan interestedly.

The scout, a small man, not over five feet six in height but well and broadly built had seized on the war club of his late opponent and had insisted on bringing it with him as a souvenir.

“You see, Sir, it was this way,” he began. “Lieutenant Malmson had told us, before we started out, that if we saw anything that looked human we were to try not to hurt it and to bring it back alive. So I tried.”

McSaunders and Morgan laughed almost hysterically. With the terrific strain that they were under the idea of this pygmy Jack-the-giant-killer deliberately planning not to hurt a Cro-Magnon giant, was amazing.

“You weren’t precisely successful,” said Johnny.

“No, Sir, I wasn’t,” said the scout, “but it was all his own fault. You see, Sir, I met him back there in the woods and he let out a yell and started toward me with this sledge hammer here. I didn’t want to hurt him so I ducked under his guard and let him have the butt under the chin. Not hard, just enough to knock him out. He went on past me and flopped on his face.

“Just then I heard an explosion and the fifty calibre began. Well, I kicked him a couple of times and we got up and we started to go help you. I had my sticker against his back so he couldn’t turn, when darned if he didn’t start to run. He oughta known better.”

“And then what did you do?” gasped Mac, his face red with laughing.

“Why I followed regulations. I shouted ‘Halt’ three times and then let him have it.”

“Good work,” approved his commander ignoring the now purple faced engineer. “You did right. I’ll explain to Lieutenant Malmson.”

THEY found the situation as they had left it at the machine gun emplacement and bringing with them the body of Morton started their return to the landing. As they neared the log walls they were greeted by a crackle of machine gun fire.

“Another lizard?” demanded McSaunders.

“No,” decided Morgan, “they’re shooting toward the river. Hurry, perhaps they need help.”

As they broke into a run, the firing died down and then ceased entirely. Jorgensen, whom Johnny had left in charge of the covering party, stepped out to greet them.

“Seen any monsters?” demanded McSaunders.

Jorgensen shook his head. “Not precisely, Sir. We’ve been attacked by crocodiles, although they are certainly big ones.”

He explained, as they neared the land spit, that a dozen or so crocodiles had evidently been in the habit of taking their daily sun bath there and resented the presence of the gobs. A brief set-to had followed after which the crocs drew off with casualties.

Johnny forbade any more unnecessary firing and after burying the body of Morton they re-embarked for the “McGinty,” where they found the crew busily constructing mosquito-proof shelters to protect themselves from the hordes of insects that were attacking them.

After baths and dinner, it was decided to drop the “McGinty” down river to avoid the flies and any possible night attacks. As the destroyer slipped down stream with the tide, which because of the nearness of the moon had proved tremendous, the two officers of the landing party gave an account of their adventure.

“I reckon it’s up to us,” said Ellington as the story was finished. “The plane’s ready and set to go. So tomorrow if you’ll assign us a direction for reconnoitering we’ll push off at dawn.”

It was the dark of the moon and the McGinty had been carefully tied up for the night near the river mouth before Johnny and Hugh Malmson had a chance to relax on the bridge deck. Morrison and Ellington had gone down to fuel their plane and McSaunders had gone forward with them to give his usual ironic advice.

“What’s the best thing to do, Hugh?” asked the commander finally. “Shall I let them go? If they should get forced down we’ll probably never find them and yet land expeditions, as today’s affair proved, are damnably dangerous. I’ll never forgive myself for poor Morton.”

“It’s a chance we’re all taking, Johnny. They’ve got to go, certainly. We’ve got to establish a permanent base where it’s safe. We must get some idea as to where we are and the nature of the terrain. Say, what’s that?”

Behind them, over the crest of the headland, a faint glow had begun to appear in the sky.

“The moon, naturally,” said Johnny, and then realized that for the next few days there would be no moon. “A meteor,” he hazarded.

Malmson shook his head! “No it isn’t. Listen!”

He cupped his hand to his ear and now both men heard distinctly a low rumbling roar.

“Thunder? An electrical storm?”

Malmson held up his hand for silence.

As they waited the sky in the east grew brighter while the roar each instant increased its volume, louder, ever louder. Deck-lights went on all over the “McGinty,” as members of the crew, awakened by the tumult, started running to quarters without orders.

And then a hissing tumult which queerly seemed to stutter, filled the entire sky and a long narrow cylindrical object so nearly red hot that it scorched vegetation raced low over the headlands and darted above the funnels of the McGinty to disappear into the west. It was followed in its passing by a comet of flame.

As swiftly as the quarter mile long cylinder had appeared it vanished and the night was again deafened by the howls, bellows and screams of the frightened monsters. Lieutenant McSaunders bounced up the companionway to come to an exaggerated attention before them and salute.

“Lieutenant McSaunders has the honor to report, Sir, that the 1950 model mail rocket, London to San Francisco has just passed over. And all’s well.”

He collapsed into a chair and fanned his heated face with his cap.

“Boy, this combination of Cro-Magnon and 21st Century is getting me down," he finished.

Ellington and Morrison were two jumps behind him.

“Did you see it?" shouted the former “Lord what a sight. A rocket ship a quarter of a mile long and hitting 800 if she was making a mile an hour."

“And she was in trouble, too,” added Morrison. “Her port stem rockets were barely flaming. I’ll bet she’s down within two hundred miles. And did you notice how the repulsion rockets on her bow were hitting it off. She was braking for all she was worth. And great guns, what power.”

Malmson got to his feet at last. “Wait a minute, all of you. That must have been a meteor. It must have been.”

Ellington laughed scornfully.

“Meteor, nothing. I’ve sat in on too many rocket design experiments to be kidded. But she’s far and away ahead of anything we’ve got or expected to have for fifty years. And Morrison is right. She was in trouble and coming down. Let’s get out the ship and follow her. Man what a chance.” He turned to shout an order at a group of sailors.

Morgan interrupted.

“Wait a minute, I’m in command here and we’ll have no night-flying. If that was a rocket and you’re right about its coming down, there’s no hurry. We’ll be able to trace it in the morning by the forest fire it’ll start. Sit down and talk this over.”

THE conference continued until Johnny finally called a halt in exasperation. Ellington, Morrison and McSaunders were confident that what they had seen had been a rocket ship, while Malmson persisted in his meteor theory. The younger men were sure that by some miracle they had been transported back to their own age or one slightly in advance of it, but the technical expert ridiculed the idea as out of the question.

“Just listen to those beasts," he reminded. “If the earth really was settled by civilized men capable of building rocket-ships, do you suppose they would let such monstrosities as those continue to exist. Use your heads."

It was then that Morgan stepped in and exercising his prerogative as superior officer, stopped the discussion. But his own uncertainty of mind possibly explained why, when Ellington took off on the reconnaissance flight at dawn the next morning he had as a passenger in his front cockpit Lieutenant John Morgan U. S. Navy. Johnny was going to see for himself. And when the two seater lifted from the step and they were high enough to make out the contours of the country ahead, he was glad indeed that he had come. He reached for the communication mouthpiece and leaned forward.

“Notice anything unusual about the country ahead?” he queried.

Ellington took a long look over the side and then shook his head.

“You probably wouldn’t but I’ve been through that gap ahead too many times to be mistaken,” shouted the commander. “It’s six thousand feet in the air now but someday that gap ahead there will be the Narrows. We’re just about over the lightship and in ten minutes we’ll be over Hell Gate and the site of the Statue of Liberty—and over Manhattan. It doesn’t seem real but I know where we are.”

Ellington swung the Graumman in a long curve to pass over the contours of Long Island, studied the topography for ten minutes of their flight and finally nodded his head. It seemed incredible but it was true.

Then he jazzed the motor and pointed far ahead where rose a tiny wisp of smoke.

“And if that isn’t our visitor of last night what do you make of it?” he demanded.

In another ten minutes they located the smoke toward the uptown end of Manhattan Island just about where Riverside Drive goes overhead well uptown, and then Ellington nosed the plane down to look for signs of their visitor.

The traces of its passage were followed easily enough. The rocket ship, if such it was, had come in hard and hot, leaving an immense scar on the earth and a trail of smouldering forest where it had scraped the tree tops. It rested now in the middle of a charred meadow, a quarter mile length of dull lifeless looking metal. Even at that altitude it was evident that it had been created by some intelligent mind, as the traces of the stream lines of the rocket jets were obvious, although no portholes could be seen. Ellington cut his motor again and shouted:

“Plenty of room to put the Graumman right down beside her if you want to take a chance? How about it?”

Morgan considered. It was possible enough that the crew of the rocket might, if any of them had survived the impact of landing, be unfriendly. On the other hand they had selected, accidentally or otherwise, the only safe landing field in miles and any attempt to fight a pathway through the jungle would probably result in contact with definitely unfriendly beasts.

“Why not,” he shouted. “Put us down at the 72nd street subway station and we’ll walk over.”

It seemed strange to be picking out location spots on a Manhattan Island covered with tall trees and wavy meadows. A sort of homesick jest at the fates that had brought them there. As the plane rolled to a stop, Johnny remembered how many times he had covered this ground hurrying up to call on a girl in a hotel on 73rd street. It was a strange business this adventure.

Ellington had brought them to a halt near the nose of the ship, the propeller machine guns covering the long slim rocket. The craft, Morgan noted, had almost the same relation of length to breadth as the earlier Zeppelins. He motioned to Ellington not to cut the gun and they waited there for a long five minutes for the craft to show some signs of life. They noticed again the absence of any ports and wondered how the occupants managed navigation.

“She’s still a little warm,” said Ellington, finally, “perhaps they’re afraid to come out.”

“There’s another ‘perhaps’ too and that is that they’re all dead,” said Johnny. “She sure took an awful rap when she came in. I don’t believe anything is going to happen. Cut her out, Ellington.”

ELLINGTON snapped off his switch and the two men climbed out and with machine guns at the ready started for the rocket.

Suddenly Ellington raised his gun and cut loose with a terrific clatter and Johnny Morgan jumped as a piercing scream sounded from overhead. It was only when a dark shadow fell across his path and he tried to jump two ways at once, like a chicken trying to dodge a hawk, that he was aware that the always sky-conscious birdman had fired not at the rocket but into the air.

Almost at the same instant he heard the flapping of tremendous wings and a huge object struck the earth with a thud, stirring up a hundred yard cloud of ashes in the smouldering rubbish before him.

“Run,” yelled Ellington. “Quick! Under the edge of the rocket!”

As they jumped to get under the protecting overhang of the bulging sides of the strange ship, Johnny was conscious of a pale blue radiance which seemed to be emanating from the rocket into the atmosphere around them. They waited for several minutes, machine guns questioning for a target, while the dust slowly settled and visibility returned.

“Good Lord, where did they go? What became of them?” queried Ellington as soon as they could see with some clearness.

“What became of whom?”

“Our air-minded friends, of course. Don’t tell me you didn’t see them? There must have been a hundred at least. They were diving on us when I got the leader. He cracked up over there. But what became of the rest of them?”

The pale blue radiance had vanished, Morgan noted as the two men stepped from the side of the rocket and gazed aloft. The sky was clear and blue and unoccupied. They walked over to the fallen object.

“One of our old friends, the pterodactyls,” said Johnny, identifying it instantly.

“Then it ain’t a machine? It was alive?” Ellington looked disgusted as Johnny nodded his head.

“Hell and I thought we’d met some brother airmen.”

Johnny remembered then, that he had neglected to tell any of his staff of the strange monsters that had flown over the “McGinty” that night at sea. In a few words he acquainted Ellington with what he had seen and the two men examined the huge lizard curiously. The wings were ribbed, batlike structures covered with scales, while the body was armored as was the neck and heavy toothed head.

“Nice little beastie,” said Ellington lifting one of the wing tips. “But he must have some motor to get off the ground with all that weight.”

“Probably he doesn’t take off from the level,” Johnny explained. “With those claw-like feet he could climb a rockpile somewhere and start soaring. They’re not very fast in the air.”

“He gets up somehow,” decided Ellington, “but I’d still like to know what chased ’em away. Hey, our bigger friend over there is making us welcome or something.”

A narrow gangway had dropped down the side of the rocket ship and they started to run across the hundred foot stretch which separated them from it. As they neared the ship, the commander stopped suddenly and put out an arm to halt Ellington.

“Wait a minute," he ordered. “There’s something coming out."

They stopped instantly and trained their submachine guns on the dark hole in the ship from which an object was slowly emerging into the light. The figure advanced slowly and evidently with the expenditure of great effort. As it came into the full light of the sun they saw that it was a man crawling on his hands and knees.

“He’s been hurt," shouted Ellington, dropping his gun and hurrying forward. Johnny reached his side as he shoved his arms under the shoulders and aided him to his feet.

“Crackup get you, old chap?" he was demanding. “Where yuh hurt?"

The stranger shoved him away and leaned against the wall of the entrance as he shook his head. For an appreciable moment he stood there without speaking, regarding them with a fearful and excited awe. At last he seemed to convince himself that what he saw was really there for he raised his arm, palm of the hand outward, in greeting and said something in an apologetic tone in a language they had never heard before.

“He’s white all right, but he don’t talk English," said Ellington whose specialty that morning seemed to be the saying of the obvious. “How you feeling, old fellow?"

The man’s movements were certainly those of a person of great age, although his features were smooth and unlined. He delivered a short address, probably a greeting, after which he bowed and invited them with a gesture into the interior of the ship.

“He’s asking us aboard," said Ellington, “let’s go."

TAKING their weapons along, to which the stranger seemed to have no objection, they helped him to re-ascend the gangway and enter the interior. The ship was well lighted with a pale white radiance which shone equally from walls and ceilings. It was divided into a number of compartments and the huge metallic rings, which made up the inner skin were heavily braced.

Helping their guide toward the bow which was the direction he indicated, they passed through several sizable chambers on the floor of which were bodies of men and women, either dead or unconscious, for they failed to move. Suspended from the walls in hammocks were many other bodies, some of them of persons alive and conscious for they were conversing with each other in the same melodious, almost sing-song language, in which their guide had addressed them.

“Funny way to travel," commented Ellington as they took a moment to make a quick survey of the rooms as they passed through. “Those hammocks are suspended on some sort of springs. They must have anticipated a shock, but not so much of a one as they got. Look, a lot of the springs broke when they crashed."

Indeed at that moment they were compelled to detour around several bodies still swathed in the silken mesh of their shock absorbers.

“In this heat, the place will have to be cleaned out quickly," Johnny whispered. “They had damned good heat insulation whatever it was, but now that the outer door is open this place will reek of death in an hour. We’ve got a job laid out for us."

He didn’t say more for the guide had paused before a doorway covered by a silken hanging. He voiced a low query and a feminine tone answered him, obviously inviting them to enter.

“Office of the Commander," Johnny guessed and leaving Ellington to assist the injured guide he pulled aside the hanging and stepped inside. It was a large cylindrical apartment but it didn’t seem to have any walls and for a second Johnny thought they had made a mistake and stepped back into the outer air. Then he realized that they had been brought into the control room of the cruiser and by some method the solid walls reflected the scene of the outside world in perfect proportions, sky, earth, ahead and to the rear, all in perfect relations. The illumination in the apartment was the white light of sunshine but slightly subdued. In the center of the strange room was a couch, on which rested a body in the remains of one of the silken slings.

Johnny stepped forward, guessing that he was in the presence of the commander, and bent low over the couch. With surprise he realized that the commander was a woman and that he was staring straight into the violet eyes of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen; a long, slim blonde girl with closely clipped hair and her eyebrows and lashes tinted to emphasize her eyes.

She rested her arm across a huge bank of pushbuttons and extended a hand to him as though she were very weak.

“We’re happy to have found you in time,” he said, and then did the most un-American act of his brash young life, for he turned the hand over and pressed his lips to the velvet smooth back of it. The “why” of his action he never attempted to explain, even to himself.

Clearly she was surprised and startled, for he felt her instinctively struggle to jerk her hand away from his as she tried to sit up. He stepped back and bowed and then, as she continued her effort, he jumped forward to support her.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to displease you. Please forgive me.” As she persisted in trying to release herself from any contact with him, he piled pillows to support her back and then moved away. She sensed the friendliness of his voice for, after looking at her hand quizzically for a moment, she smiled at him and pointed at herself.

“Vania,” she said, and pointed at him.

“Johnny Morgan,” he said and pointing at Ellington, he named him. Ellington bowed and the girl pointed at their guide and said “Tsar.”

“I guess that dispenses with all the formalities,” said Ellington who had been regarding the previous scene with much amusement. “Madame, you are sure a peach, and how my friend, McSaunders would have liked to be here.”

“Quiet, you jackass, or I’ll send you back to the plane,” said Johnny. “Let me handle this.”

“She didn’t seem to care for your ‘handling’,” grinned Ellington, “or perhaps I was mistaken.”

Not having an effective answer Johnny turned again to the girl to find that a case had snapped out of the wall beside her and that she was motioning him forward. He helped her remove the pile of papers it contained and at her gesture seated himself on the side of her couch. She must have been indeed weak for she relaxed against the pillows and with a final effort placed his hand on the papers.

“Golly,” said Ellington, “She fainted. Get a doctor and some water quick.”

“Where?” asked Johnny practically. “Nothing is going to happen to her for a little while. Let’s look at what she was trying to show us."

The first map on the top of the stack was that of the solar system showing the sun and nine planets in their proper orbits each with their present number of satellites. A mark had been added at the side of the satellite of the third planet evidently by another and later hand.

"Lord," said Johnny, "now I know we’re all crazy."

"Why any more than we have been?" Ellington demanded as he and the man known as Tsar came closer to inspect the map.

Johnny pointed at the satellite of the third planet and then at Tsar, who nodded.

"They’re trying to tell us they came from the moon," said Johnny.

"Well, why not? It’s only a hundred thousand miles now. Even Wiley Post or Roscoe Turner could have flown that far in a month, and this baby could do it in three or four days or less. I don’t see that the idea is screwy."

Without answering, Johnny turned to the next map. It was a contour map of the moon as they had mapped its surface in the last few days. Another mark had been added near the edge of what they had decided was a dead sea on the "dark side."

"That must be where they came from," decided Johnny. Tsar nodded again and said something in his soft voice.

THE third sketch was a beautiful contour map of the earth, which Johnny recognized instantly although the outlines of the continents were much changed.

"That’s us," he said. "And wow! Here’s something I didn’t expect." Without waiting to explain he passed on to the next picture. It was a drawing of the interior of the space cruiser, for that was what the rocket ship must be. A mark showed the commander’s control cabin where they were then standing. The next picture showed a man, dressed like Tsar, standing at the open doorway and beckoning to a crowd of strong looking men. The next picture showed the same men carrying out broken hammocks and their occupants into the open air. The last in the series showed them back in the ship, ministering to those still in their hammocks from rubberlike bottles which they plucked from wall brackets beside each hammock. The next sheet was blank.

"They’re certainly thorough in telling us where they came from and what they want us to do," Johnny remarked and turning to Tsar he nodded in comprehension. Once he found that his requests had been understood and would be obeyed, the man was so overcome by the strain of what he had undergone, that he slumped and would have slipped to the floor but for Ellington’s arm.

"Gee. but he’s light," remarked the pilot as he eased the body to the floor. "I’ll bet he doesn’t weigh more than forty pounds."

"Why should he?" Johnny demanded. "Where he came from they have only one sixth the gravity we have. I’m surprised he can move at all. But come on. This is our busy day."

He reached down by the side of Vania’s couch and found one of the rubber bottles. It contained a light and very aromatic liquid, smelling of a spice resembling cloves. The Commander slid his arms under her shoulders again and, following a hunch, held the bottle under her nose and let her inhale the aroma. Her eyes opened and she smiled at him and, when he held the bottle to her lips, she drank eagerly and deeply.

“Correct procedure, evidently. First thing they want us to do, as I figure it, is to remove the dead to the outside and then aid those who are still in their hammocks and alive.”

Between them they carried out, and laid, in long rows close to the ship, the bodies of 48 dead. Alive, in their hammocks and able to take nourishment were 82 women and eight men. Three other women were so badly crushed that death seemed inevitable. Most of the dead were found in the corridors and what must have been the engine room of the space ship. All except five were wearing what was evidently a uniform and were men. There were no arrangements made for slings to protect these men in the event of a crash.

“Good men,” said Johnny, as they carried out the last of them. “These were the crew and if they cracked up they expected to go down with their ship—and they did.” He touched his hand to his helmet in a brief salute before they turned to re-enter the rocket.

“I make it we have 83 women and 9 men aboard, who have a chance of living including Vania and Tsar,” said Ellington. “Well, now we’ve got ’em what are we going to do with them?"

“It’s only 15 hours,” said Johnny, “and we’ve three hours of daylight left so let’s waste a little of it talking the situation over with Vania. We can’t leave these people here, so there’s only one thing to do.”

“Do you call it a waste of time talking things over with that dame?” Ellington demanded. “I wouldn’t. You seem to have the inside track, so go ahead. I’ll see what I can do to make the injured more comfortable.”

JOHNNY retraced his steps to the control cabin where he found Vania much recovered and in eager conversation with Tsar. She looked up as he entered. He noticed that once again she was greeting him with extended hand. This time he took the little palm in his own capable fingers and stood looking down at her with friendly interest. She was not tiny, he noted with some surprise, but only built with extreme lightness. Her slightness seemed to be of bony structure rather than of muscle. Her complexion was creamy, rather than a pure white, and her eyebrows had been dyed a slightly darker shade of violet than were her eyes. She must have been about five feet two inches in height and his first impression persisted that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She gave an impression of competence combined with fragility, the sort of a woman a man would want to take care of.

He gave her fingers a friendly little pressure, and it was only when he caught the flicker of pain in her eyes that he remembered that his strength was some six times as great as the average moon-man, and that he must have hurt her. He squeezed his own fingers in his other hand and apologized with his eyes, and she evidently comprehended for she smiled at him again.

Tsar had watched this little tableau with an interest beyond any importance that it could possibly warrant, and Johnny thought he was pleased with the termination of the episode and wondered why. But there was no time to waste in speculation. He sat down again on the edge of the couch and reached in his pocket for a pad and pencil. Picture writing wasn’t a bad method of communication, he thought.

While they watched, he drew a quick sketch of the “McGinty” and pointed to the ship and then to himself. They nodded. He pointed at the destroyer and then through the transparency which, for want of a better word, he termed a window, at the Graumman scout airplane outside. They nodded again and Johnny pulled out his watch and indicated the second hand. They watched it complete a full revolution and he showed that the minute hand had moved also. They caught the idea again and when he indicated thirty minutes, pointed to ship and to plane and then to the space cruiser, he was sure that they understood.

He next drew a quick sketch of the plane and another of himself and Ellington in their flying suits carrying Lunarites to the Graumman. He pointed at the plane out of the window and then to the sketch of the “McGinty.” They again understood the idea and immediately there was a violent disagreement between the two. While they argued, Johnny drew sketches of such pre-historic monsters as he could remember and a couple he imagined. He drew a man beside each of them to indicate the proportions. He sketched these in a circle and made a drawing of the space cruiser inside it. He showed them the picture and they both nodded, convinced that it would be dangerous for them to stay with their ship.

Last of all, Johnny took the map of the earth they had given him and indicated a spot on its surface, pointing from the sketch of the “McGinty” to the spot he had located. Again they nodded.

It was enough. He stood up and pointed at Tsar and then at the Graumman to indicate that he would be the first Lunarite to make the trip. There was another disagreement ending with Tsar’s nodding acceptance. Johnny assisted him out of the control room, pausing to bow at Vania at the doorway, and indicate that he would return, a courtesy which obviously pleased her.

They found Ellington m the middle of a row of hammocks aiding the helpless Lunarites, and Johnny explained his decision.

“We can’t let them stay here,” he said, “or, in their weak condition, men or beasts would kill them off or they’d starve to death. Our best chance is to ferry them to the ’McGinty.’ It’ll take two or three days but we can’t help that. I’ll stay here for the present and you bring McSaunders over when you come in the morning.”

“It’s okay with me,” said Ellington, “whom else do I take on the first trip? Does it make any difference?”

“We-e-ll, it ought to be a woman. Have you any preference?”

Ellington actually reddened.

“In the sixth hammock from the hatch, there’s the cutest kid you ever saw—and she acts like she thinks I’m a big shot. Okay?”

“If she wants to go,” Johnny said, “come on and we’ll find out.”

He helped Tsar down to the hammock whose occupant sat up easily as they approached. She was indeed a “cute trick” thought Johnny, and obviously she and Ellington were already friends. By earth standards she was about 19, a blonde as were all the Lunarites, men and women.

He turned to Tsar and pointed to the girl, to Tsar, to Ellington and to the direction in which he had indicated the “McGinty” was anchored.

Tsar shot a volley of words at the girl who looked at Ellington with increased interest and nodded her head vigorously. Just as an earth girl might if someone invited her out, Johnny thought. Ellington leaned over the hammock and picked her up in his arms, a procedure which first shocked and then amused her, and they hurried out the hatchway to the Graumman.

The two Lunarites regarded the ship with interest and when Ellington assisted the girl into his leather coat, helmet and goggles, all four of them laughed.

“Don’t be rough, Ellington,” Johnny cautioned, “remember these people have only about a sixth as much strength as we have, and are only used to a sixth as much gravity. Take it slow and easy, man!”

“I’d forgotten that,” said the aviator, “but I’ll bet I know one girl who gets acclimatized quick.”

Johnny nodded. “With the whole crew of the ‘McGinty’ to baby her, she probably will,” he said.

“Gee, maybe I’d better leave her for another trip,” said Ellington.

“Get along with you,” Johnny ordered, “and remember, nobody but McSaunders comes back tomorrow. And tell him to bring a portable wireless telephone with him so we can keep in touch.”

AS he stood watching Ellington circle the field and head away from the space cruiser, he felt a moment of loneliness. It was the first time he had been entirely on his own, since that morning of battle practice. The responsibility was a heavy one and now he had some 90 odd invalids to increase the burdens of the “McGinty” and her crew. Well, he had broad shoulders. He shrugged and turned to re-enter the moon ship. There seemed to be no way he could close the gangway and keep marauding beasts out. He tried to shut the hatch but it was immovable. Finally he remembered Vania and her row of push buttons.

With some difficulty he managed to indicate to her what was needed, and she smiled and touched one of the buttons beside her and nodded. Before eating any of the emergency rations which they had brought from the “McGinty,” he decided to make a tour of the ship. Vania had so far recovered her strength that, when he indicated his intentions, she insisted on going with him. To his gratification she could not only stand alone, but was able to walk with only a hand on his arm to steady her. And so they started, precisely, he thought, as though they were strolling down an esplanade before dining in some expensive hotel.

For clothing she wore a loose fitting white jumper of some silk material with insignia on breast and arm. Her hair was clipped and she wore no jewelry or adornment of any sort except a dialed device resembling a wrist watch on either arm. Later, he discovered they were time and air conditioning indicators. From the deference with which the uninjured passengers and crew treated her, it was evident that she was not only the commander but some sort of a ruler as well. For they obviously loved her.

Several of the inmates of the hammocks had so far recovered, that they were able to move about and assist their fellow shipmates. Johnny was thankful for this, as he was not quite sure of the efficaciousness of the treatments he and Ellington had administered. The three badly injured women had already died, or perhaps they had been put out of their pain. There was no way of telling.

The two had started their inspection at the forward end of the cruiser and Morgan saw immediately that in all probability she would never fly again. The bow plates had badly crushed when she hit, and the whole under row of rocket projectors was ruined. Before ending up on an even keel, she had skidded along the ground, as evidenced by the long scar he had noticed in the earth, and the result had been to crush in her keel plates badly. To fly, she would have to be completely rebuilt.

The ship had been constructed in three decks with a series of circular bulkheads running vertically, dividing it off into sections. The forward and stern rocket engines had been built full height of the ship and the fuel reservoirs for them had been placed between the inner and outer skins of the vessel itself. Much of the fuel, Vania indicated, had leaked out following the crash. He noted arrangements for rocket-projectors at the sides to keep the ship level or turn her in any desired direction, also stubby wings, which could be thrust out to increase the air support while in the atmosphere, and many other devices for which he could give no name or purpose.

Taken as a whole, however, he was greatly surprised to find that the ship was not as “different” as he had suspected. It was a great improvement over any similar vessel yet perfected on earth, but was not in any sense of the word a “visionary dream.” McSaunders would probably have no difficulty in understanding the motors and power devices. It was the sort of ship considered in his own day, possible to exist in the 1950’s and almost certain to exist by 1975.

Finally he realized that it was natural that the ship and its crew should be the way they were. Life on the moon had developed earlier but under almost similar conditions to life on earth, the natural laws were the same, minds would develop in the same way. Why should he have expected anything strange and otherworldly? Similar conditions were bound to give similar results.

Another fact he noted was that this voyage so unhappily completed was not a voyage of discovery or exploration—it was a migration. One compartment of the ship was given over entirely to records, thin books bound in metal and printed on metal. The printing looked like a variation of shorthand.

Another compartment contained seeds and shrubs carefully packed for replanting. Still another was filled with livestock. He noted particularly a miniature sort of cattle with a hump on their back and a short stubby nose, several little animals like rabbits, and a woolly creature, that might have been the great grandfather of a sheep. The livestock seemed to have survived the voyage better than their masters, and most of them had already been relieved from their slings. Several Lunar men, easily distinguishable from the women by their heavier features and closer fitting costumes, were attending to their wants.

THE rough survey completed they returned to the control car and Johnny became conscious that he had not eaten since early morning “stand to.” Almost shamefacedly he brought forth his sandwiches, chocolate, and thermos bottle of coffee, and, with an apologetic look at Vania, offered her a chocolate bar.

She looked at it curiously, but did not get its purpose until Johnny began to eat. Then she comprehended and laughed as she tasted it. Indeed she insisted on tasting everything he had in edibles and pushed one of her row of invaluable buttons, which brought in a supply of Lunar foods.

She approved heartily of the chocolate, and likewise the peanut-butter sandwiches, but with a grimace expelled the bite of ham sandwich she tasted, into a very feminine handkerchief. The coffee also brought a wry look although the cream and sugar were both approved. The Lunar food, Johnny found, consisted largely of the liquid he had found in the bottles and a tough, pemmican-like substance made mostly of vegetables, which required lengthy chewing. Probably valuable for keeping their teeth in condition, he thought. They all had good teeth.

Coffee finished, he lit a cigarette, which surprised her again and made her choke before he could extinguish it.

“Now what?” said Johnny Morgan.

The answer was soon forthcoming. At a gesture from Vania, he came over and seated himself at her side on the couch and found himself thrilling to the touch of her fingers as she turned him so that he faced the foot of the couch.

The sun was setting and with a quick look outside Johnny noticed that a herd of strange creatures were approaching the cruiser. Curiosity drew them on probably. He indicated the herd to Vania and she smiled and nodded. She showed no fear.

“Stegosaurus,” he said pointing out the queerly hump shaped armor-plate, forming a double crest on their backs, and the immense size. “We’d better do something. They’re tough babies and one of ’em might ram a hole clear through us.”

“Stegosaurus,” she repeated pointing at the animals and then pointing at him, “Johnny?”

“Yes,” he said, “Vania.”

She smiled again and motioned for him to pass her the table of push buttons. “What is this?” he thought, “Is she just quick to catch names or are we about to have a flirtation in the middle of a herd of dinosaurs?”

She pushed one of the buttons and again that pale blue radiance which he had noted at the time of the attack of the pterodactyls crept out from the side of the ship. This time it moved more slowly and seemed to surround them with an aura of protection. As he watched, the first of the reptiles reached the light-field and seemed to wade into it. As the ship was sound proofed, he could hear nothing but he could see that the stegosaurus stopped, as though he had hit something. The creature backed off and started to charge only to be thrown back on his haunches as though he had encountered a mountain.

“Gosh! They’ve some sort of a force field,” he exclaimed, “and we were going to take care of these people who have enough power to stop a charging stegosaurus!”

Vania smiled at his words and touched another button and the outside world disappeared, leaving the two of them alone in the control room.

“Must get her to remember to turn that off before Ellington comes back at dawn. It wouldn’t be any fun to hit that at 180,” he thought, and without difficulty he conveyed the idea to her by means of his watch and the sketches of the plane and the “McGinty.” Vania nodded again and patted him reassuringly on the shoulder.

“Okay, if you say so,” said Johnny leaning back and making himself comfortable. “Go on with the show.” And a show it was as he soon discovered. Vania touched a button and the lights of the room dimmed while a series of motion pictures were thrown on the opposite wall. The occupants of the cruiser had evidently spared no pains to make any civilized citizens of earth they encountered understand the why and wherefore of their coming. The show began with a picture of the moon, evidently taken from a space cruiser some ten thousand miles from the surface and then skipped to a close “shot” of the surface of the moon, showing it as a thickly populated, well-watered group of countries, with herds of the miniature cattle and sheep, ornate cities and swiftly flying aircraft. Apparently there was only one human race, the blond whites, similar to the passengers on the cruiser.

SWIFTLY the scene changed, the seas were shown drying up, the cities being deserted, as the population moved closer to the receding waters. The ice caps of the planet disappeared. War broke out and man, using strange and deadly weapons, fought with man for possession of the vanishing water. The scene cut to a distant view of the earth, showing it as being extremely near to the moon and then seeming gradually to recede as the moon drew away. Next were a group of scientists making measurements with a queer machine and by similes of airplanes no longer able to fly, free balloons drifting inevitably downward, and other scenes showing complicated machinery which Johnny could not understand, they demonstrated the gradual escape of the air envelope from the planet. Then followed the coming of the first of the meteors with startling photographs showing how they struck the surface and dug their huge and eternal pits.

Last of all were shown the scenes of the construction of the cruiser with the group of scientists superintending its building and pointing from it to a full earth in the sky above. The selection of crew and passengers by rigorous physical and mental tests from thousands of applicants was next shown, and last of all the loading of the ship with representative specimens of the best of flora, fauna and literature that the satellite had to offer. The picture concluded with the scenes of farewell as the scientists went from a giant telescope to the gangplank of the cruiser and bade adieu to the crew and their leaders, to Vania, Tsar and a tall, strong looking man, whom Johnny remembered to have carried out of the ship as a corpse that very morning. Throughout the showing the picture was accompanied by a low-speaking dramatic voice, which narrated the story in the Lunar language. The voice and the picture were so compelling, that long before the end of the account of the simple yet terrible tragedy with which earth itself must one day be faced, Vania put her head down on his shoulder and wept quietly with the muffled sobs of utter despair and even terror.

Johnny put his arm around her and patted her on the shoulder. Even if he knew how to say them, there were no words to console her for the tragedy of the approaching end of a race. His action was entirely impersonal. He was thinking only that these people were worthy; they had made the good fight and won to our planet and deserved the utmost in sympathy and cooperation that old mother earth could offer. He was proud that he was the man that was to be given the chance to aid, and to help them to save their heritage of knowledge from utter extinction.

When the screen went blank, he restrained her for a moment from switching on the lights; and sitting there in the dark, just the two of them, he tried to tell her part of what he was thinking, and he thought somehow that she understood from his tones if not from his words. When he finished and she gently put his hand from hers to switch on the concealed beams, he found she was smiling bravely at him through her tears.

The show had lasted for hours, and he was very tired. She switched on the transparent “windows” for a moment and they saw that the clearing was deserted except for the blue radiance. He picked up the sketch of the Graumman to remind her that the rays must be shut off with the dawn and she nodded her head in comprehension. At her summons an officer whom Johnny had not yet seen, entered and nodded briefly at her orders. Johnny rose to accompany him when he left but she beckoned him back and motioned to a spot on the wide couch beside her.

“Maybe it’s all okay on the moon,” he thought, “but it’s a little too sudden here.”

He realized that she didn’t wish to be left alone, so he drew a robe and a pillow from the low couch and spread them on the floor beside her. She seemed to understand for as he stretched himself on the robe she again extended her hand for him to kiss and the last thing he remembered as he grew drowsy was, that that same hand dropped off the couch and was resting gently on his hair.

And there, presently, in the glow of the blue radiance, in the cabin of that wrecked cruiser, they slept.

It was the touch of that same hand on his face that awakened him and he opened his eyes and looked up into the violet depths of hers, as she stood looking down at him. It was broad daylight and she must have awakened some time before him, for she wore clean jumpers and had combed and brushed her short blonde hair. He jumped to his feet, ashamed of having overslept, and she laughed at his embarrassment as she pointed to the Graumman circling for a landing overhead. Ellington had returned and all was well.

He was hurrying for the gangway when she called him back to extend to him the sandwich and the last cup of coffee which he had saved from dinner the night before. The thermos bottle had kept it warm. As he took them, she rose from her couch and signified her desire to go with him.

Well, why not? When the Graumman rolled to a stop, McSaunders and Ellington saw their commander strolling up to them, a sandwich in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other and a beautiful blonde woman hanging on his arm. McSaunders leaped out before the ship came to a full stop and doffed his flying helmet in an extravagant bow

“Good morning,” he said, politely, “and how were the Scandals and the Central Park Casino? And why didn’t you two breakfast at Childs?”

“Don’t be an ass, Mac,” returned his unabashed commander. “I had a very pleasant time thanks to the fact you weren’t here, but don’t get any quick impressions. This is Vania, I don’t know the rest of her name, if there is any, and she’s the bravest girl I know and just been through a hell of a tough time. Be gentle, fellow.”

“Sorry, Commander. I didn’t mean to be fresh but we’ve been fighting a flock of flying lizards all night without any sleep and here you two walk out as fresh as daisies and looking as though you would like to go for a stroll down Park Avenue.”

He took the hand which Vania extended to him and shook it warmly. “I’m very glad to know any friend of Johnny’s,” he said. “I hope you had a nice trip.”

Vania accepted the handshaking but shot a quick look at Johnny, which caused that pride of the battle fleet to redden, as he realized she had finally suspicioned that hand-kissing was not the ordinary form of salutation among earthlings.

“McSaunders.” Johnny introduced him. ‘‘The ultimate in asses but a good engineer. He wants to know what makes your rocket tick”—and then to the engineer—“Get that portable radio out and working as quick as you can, will you? I want to talk to Malmson.”

Mac jumped to work after suggesting that to save time, Johnny use the set on the Graumman at first. Ellington greeted the officer who had just emerged from the rocket and reentered the ship with him to select his next passengers.

JOHNNY got through to Malmson without difficulty and found that Tsar was in the radio room and apparently approved of the arrangements that had been made to receive the rocket’s passengers.

“He wants to talk to Vania, whoever she is,” said Malmson, at the end of their talk. “Can you find her for him?”

“Sure,” said Johnny, “she’s right here. Wait a second.” He reached over the side of the ship and said “Tsar.” She appeared to comprehend immediately what was wanted and reached up her arms for him to swing her aboard. Johnny was glad to explain in sign language the use of the radio. She understood the idea immediately and soon was chatting briskly into the “mike” in her Lunar tongue.

When she finished, Johnny again took the phones and mouthpiece.

“That’s it, Hugh, whatever she said to do is Okay. Tsar will explain. I’m ringing off now as the next load is leaving in a minute. Mac will be testing with you on the portable in a few minutes. You can leave Morrison in charge and come on over yourself if you think it’s safe. Cheerio!”

He rang off and sat there a minute thinking. It would take several days to transfer the Lunarites and then what?

The next three days were busy ones. Ellington and in his turn, Morrison, made trip after trip in the amphibian, transporting the crew and passengers of the rocket to the shelter of the “McGinty,” whose crew had willingly turned themselves out of their quarters to provide space for the newcomers. Malmson came over to the cruiser, and he and McSaunders spent hour after hour prowling through its intricacies under the supervision of the officer whose name turned out to sound something like “Dejar,” but who soon answered to McSaunders’ abbreviation of “Jim.”

On the afternoon of the first day, Johnny and Mac had held a conference with him and with the aid of their ready pencil and sketchbook had managed to convey the necessity for immediate disposal of the bodies of those who had perished. As it would be impossible to bury them, they had been piled into an immense pyre and impregnated with oil from the cruiser’s stores.

BEFORE dawn the next morning the two officers and the Lunarite stole out of the cruiser to attend to the final disposition. Johnny, who had moved his quarters into the radio room with McSaunders, stole into the control room to shut off the blue radiance and found Vania sleeping. What was his surprise then, as the pyre was about to be fired, to see her appear in the companionway entrance and halt the proceedings. She knelt beside the pyre and, as Johnny and McSaunders bared their heads, she prayed to the new moon which shone in the east in the before dawn sky. When she had finished, Johnny repeated as much of the burial service as he could remember, and, with the feeling that he was doing the proper thing, handed her the torch which Mac had prepared.

She thanked him and, without a shudder, stepped forward and held it under the oil soaked wood, until the base of the pyre was well ignited.

“What a girl,” whispered Mac. “She’s seeing the last of eighty of her friends and she doesn’t even flinch!”

Without a word the four of them stood and watched the flames shoot sky high while the animals in the nearby woods howled and screamed at the sight.

“It’s as good a way to go as any,” said Mac as the last flame died down. “Well, let’s have breakfast.”

And so the incident was finished.

It was when the transport job was nearly ended that Johnny made a surprising discovery. With the exception of Tsar, all the people flown to the “McGinty” were women. Not a Lunar man made the trip and—as he found out from Vania—they had no intentions of doing so, at least for the present.

“Someone has to stay and care for the animals and the records we brought with us,” she explained, “so the males will stay under the leadership of Dejan. Perhaps someday they can be sent for. If not”—she shrugged her white-clad shoulders—and tried to tell him another reason which he could not then understand.

She insisted on waiting with Johnny until the final trip. When Ellington brought in the Graumman for the last time, the two of them stood beside the plane and looked back at the wrecked space-ship. Dejan and his eight men were drawn up before the gangway to bid them farewell. Beside the vast bulk of the wrecked rocket, they looked very helpless and puny.

As Dejan raised his arm high overhead in a gesture of farewell, the two entered the plane which, with motor roaring, pivoted almost in its own length and swung off into the blue. It had been hard to go.

That evening there was a conference in the wardroom of the “McGinty,” with the five earth officers, Vania and Tsar. Immediately on reaching the ship, Johnny Morgan, without explanation, had ordered “up anchor” and taken the “McGinty” to sea. They were now keeping well out and headed at normal cruising speed of fifteen knots in a south-easterly direction down the Atlantic Coast.

Johnny opened the conversation.

“I don’t want you fellows to think that this interruption has made any change in our original plans,” he said. “Except that we have 80 more mouths to feed our situation is just the same as it was before. We’ve got to establish a permanent base where we are safe from dinosaurs and pterodactyls and such. And where we can establish a city. Ellington, how much gas is left in the Graumman?”

“Enough for about twenty hours of flight.”

“That will have to be enough then. I believe it would be anyhow, for all we need is a survey job.”

“But where are we going?” demanded McSaunders. “We haven’t fuel oil enough to steam all over the world.”

“We’re not going to,” his commander answered, and drew out the folder of picture maps that Vania had first shown them in the control room of the rocket. “Hugh, did it ever seem queer to you that we found Manhattan Island a mile up in the air?” Malmson nodded. “Yes it did. But I believe I’ve got a possible answer for it.”

“What’s that?”

“It means that in the next 50,000 years either the ocean level is going to be raised or volcanic disturbances will lower the land. Perhaps both.” “That’s obvious. Now in the legends of antiquity of the human race, how many such disturbances are on record ?”

Malmson smiled. “Only one, that we have any traditional record of. I see what you’re driving at, Johnny.”

“I thought you would. And if there’s any possible beginnings of civilization at this early date, where would they be?”

“There’s only one spot on the world that I can think of.” McSaunders interrupted.

“You mean——”

Johnny nodded. “Atlantis, of course. That’s why we’re headed South East. Look at this chart. The Lunarites had excellent telescopes and they mapped the earth’s surface as it is at this time, very carefully. The island of Atlantis is plainly indicated. It’s a mountainous and volcanic island about the size of Borneo and roughly the same shape as Australia. We’re going there.”

“To Atlantis! What an opportunity!” It was Ellington, who made the statement almost reverently. “I wonder what the people will be like?”

“We’ll find out,” said Johnny. “They’ll be in some early stage of civilization, I expect. But they’ll take us in. They’ll have to,” he finished grimly.

“But what had that stuff about New York being a mile-high have to do with it?” demanded McSaunders.

“It was a pretty fair indication,” said Malmson, “that even disregarding Vania’s map, the continent of Atlantis has not yet been destroyed and raised the sea level as such tremendous settlings might.”

“Oh,” said Mac, “then we can count on a few years before that happens, can we? There’s no use in our settling down and then having to move again right away.”

“There’ll be as many years as you’ll need. At least 25 and probably nearer to 85 or 40 thousand.”

“I guess that’ll be time enough. When do we sight land, Johnny, and then what do we do?”

“We’ve got about five days steaming at this speed and I’m not going to risk a landing party again. Ellington and the Graumman will make an aerial survey and pick out the best spot for us to settle. Then we’ll go there or as near there as we can get by sea, beach the ‘McGinty’ and dismantle her.”

“Dismantle the ‘McGinty’!” They were horrified.

“Certainly,” said Johnny, “or perhaps I should say, wreck her. We’re not going to be seafaring people for a while. We’re going to be farmers and builders and live stock raisers. We can’t expect any more help from the moon. Vania has told me that it was moving away so fast they could hardly expect time to build and launch a new rocket and it couldn’t get there if they did. It’s up to us and we need the ‘McGinty’s’ turbines for water power purposes, we need her metal for a thousand uses, smelters, refineries, work shops. We need her wiring system for our own lights ashore. We’ll make anti-aircraft batteries of her guns in case the pterodactyls should pay us a visit. After awhile, when we are settled, McSaunders will build us a large air-ship and we’ll go back for the records and crew of the rocket. But that’s a couple of years away.”

At first the idea appalled them, for the “McGinty” meant home to every man. But they were primarily practical and soon saw the wisdom, indeed the necessity of the proposal.

“But all that comes later,” Johnny finished, “the first thing to do while we have time is to teach the Lunarites English. This is our world and the language used will be ours. I want every one of you—I hardly need to include the aviators and Mac in this —to pick himself out a girl and in his time off duty teach her English, just as fast as he can. And the first words she learns are not to be ‘I love you’ either. We’ve got a lot to do before there’s any time for lovemaking.”

It was on this note that the conference broke up and the aviators and McSaunders departed to inform the crew of their strange new duty. Malmson remained behind.

“Look here, Johnny,” he said, “I’ve been spending a good bit of time on the ‘McGinty’ the last few days and you haven’t. Do you really think that last order was necessary? If you do, you’re dumber than I think.”

Johnny laughed. “Of course not. These girls are too pretty and fragile and too much in need of somebody to take care of them. And the last part of it was wasted too. I’ll bet every man aboard the ‘McGinty’ has picked himself out a lady already and I’ll bet that some way or other he is managing to talk to her too. But there won’t be any trouble. These girls are too intelligent and too conscious of their high duty and purpose for that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Vania here has been studying English at odd moments ever since we met. Lady, did you understand anything of what was said tonight?”

The moon girl nodded. “Quite a bit,” she said unexpectedly, “Tsar too. He learn also.”

“See, Hugh? Did it ever occur to you as strange that we left all the Lunar men behind? It did to me and I thought it was sort of brutal. As soon as I could figure out a way to get the idea across to Vania I asked her about it. And I found out. You see, Hugh, the moon people risked everything to perpetuate their race— and we haven’t any women with us.”

“And so?”

“And so the men sacrificed themselves, deliberately. There was nothing for them in the way of perpetuation of their race they could hope for. They’ll hang on there at the rocket and guard their records until someday we can send for them. But if the moon race is to be preserved, we must do it.”

“I haven’t noted any holding back on the part of any of us, either,” Malmson commented dryly. “Even our Commander.”

Johnny Morgan reddened. “Come up on deck with me,” he ordered. “I want to check our course.”

THE weather continued perfect and the “McGinty” continued to steam slowly southward and eastward on her last voyage. Trim, sleek, last minute product of the Navy builders’ art, she was going to the junk yard, fifteen years ahead of her time. But her crew didn’t care.

Just after dawn on the morning of the sixth day, Johnny Morgan and Malmson were again on the bridge when the snow-capped mountains of the island continent thrust their peaks above the horizon.

“There’s home, Hugh,” said Johnny, lowering his glasses after a preliminary survey. “Home at last.” He quoted under his breath—“ ‘And the sailor home from the sea’—But I guess we’ll stay away from those babies.” He gestured off to the east where a group of wisps of smoke floated lazily to the sky.

“I guess we’d better,” nodded his second, “volcanoes, and big ones too. We’d better head south.”

All that day the “McGinty” steamed slowly southward along a precipitous shore where the mountains seemed to extend clear to the water’s edge. Just before nightfall they entered a tiny land-locked bay where a brisk mountain stream dropped hurriedly into the sea.

“If we stay here, Mac, there’s your water power,” commented the Commander pointing to the stream. The engineer sniffed delightedly.

“Pine trees! I thought I’d never smell ’em again. I’ll bet there’s bear in those forests and the great granddaddies of all trout in that brook.”

“And we’re almost under the equator at that,” commented Malmson. “There’s a cold current runs all along here, from the Antarctic probably, and of course those high mountains have something to do with it. It’s ideal for us.”

“At least we’ll find out if it is tomorrow. Tell Ellington and Morrison to get ready to take off in the amphibian at dawn, but not to put her overside until morning. Then we’ll know.”

The “McGinty” dropped her anchors and somehow or other everyone heaved a sigh of relief. This cool quiet spot looked as if it belonged to them. A place where they could work and relax in peace, live the balanced lives that men should live and be happy. No one deceived himself as to the prospect of hard and perhaps uninteresting labor that confronted them. But they were ready to take it—in their stride.

Somehow the evening developed into an impromptu celebration. The women from the moon felt that their infinite journey was ended at last and that they had succeeded. The men of the “McGinty”—well most of them were in love and what more could they want?

Although the moon women had brought little with them except a change of clothes, several of them were accomplished musicians and had already learned to play earth tunes on the ship’s musical instruments. As there was no fear of monsters in this shallow harbor, Johnny turned on all deck lights and the “McGinty” staged a ship’s dance as nonchalantly as though she were still berthed at “Dago” harbor.

Ellington and Morrison approached Johnny at the height of the evening.

“We’re going away in the morning, Sir?”

“Yes,” said Johnny, “I know. Better turn in early.”

“A ship’s captain can marry people,” Ellington blurted out. Johnny caught the idea at once and looked serious.

“I know you said there would be no weddings until after we were settled,” said Morrison, “but we’re going on a dangerous flight and we’d like to be sure of ’em.”

“Nuts,” Johnny chided, “you just want to prove that the air-service can get ahead of the fleet again. All right, go get your dames. I’ve been expecting this and I’ve even located a prayer book. Vania will read the Lunar service.”

Ellington had chosen the pert little miss he had brought as his first passenger and Morrison had managed to make an impression on the tallest moon maiden aboard, a damsel all of five feet four inches.

Before the entire assembled ship’s company the four of them faced their Commander and Johnny read the familiar, old fashioned wedding service. When he had finished, Vania recited from memory the rites as they were prescribed on their lost world. And so they were married.

THE next day was spent in a fever of impatience. After the two bridegrooms got away on their voyage of exploration, swinging wide over the valley to the southeast and then banking sharply to climb over the mountain ridge, the usual work got under way. Fishing parties left early in an effort to refill the “McGinty’s” larder, and on deck the usual work parties carried out their daily duties but many an eye was cocked aloft and many a swab was stilled as a deck hand listened for the throb of returning motors.

Just before dusk, after some fourteen hours in the air, the Graum man returned. She dropped slowly down to the harbor and pulled up beside the “McGinty” in her customary perfect landing. The pilot and observer made fast and came over the side to report to Morgan and Vania on the bridge.

“It’s all right,” said Ellington, cheerfully. “Or at least it looks all right to us. There are no monsters and no flying lizards, too high I guess. Lots of small game and we saw some deer. No cities though and not a sign of any inhabitant, not a darned thing. We believe the whole island is uninhabitated. At least we covered some 2800 miles of it.”

“Good,” said Johnny, “even better than I had hoped. A quiet place, plenty of game and no one to disturb us. Tomorrow we’ll land and explore.” And they did. When a three days’ search of the area by half a dozen landing parties had revealed nothing more dangerous than bear, they decided to beach the “McGinty” and begin the construction of their village. Spring in those latitudes was just beginning or more probably the rainy season was just ending, and Malmson believed they could still get a crop from their scanty store of grain. In any event there was plenty of game and they could live.

The last evening, before they ran the ship ashore, Johnny Morgan and Malmson sat smoking in the latter’s cabin.

“Tomorrow you get unanimously appointed as Atlantis’ first mayor, Hugh,” said Johnny.

“How come?”

“Well a ship captain can marry people in a pinch and so can mayors, but I never heard of a captain marrying himself. Did you?”

“Vania has finally said ‘yes’, eh?”

“Well she thought we ought to wait a little longer but I talked her out of it. Hugh, you know sometimes I can’t really believe we are living 50,000 years too soon. It doesn’t seem real somehow, does it? It might just as well be 1620 and tomorrow we would be making a landing on Plymouth Rock or it might be 1935 and we were planting a colony on some undiscovered island.”

Malmson smoked in silence. “There’s another fact that bothers me. This is the island of Atlantis all right, but where are the Atlanteans? According to the best guesses of our own archaeologists they should be beginning their civilization about now.”

Malmson took his pipe out of his mouth.

“That’s bothered me, too. But has it occurred to you that perhaps they are—and that we’re it? Us, the Lunarites and the crew of the ‘McGinty’?”

“That’s ridiculous. Why we’d be our own ancestors, pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, so to speak. It would contradict the whole theory of evolution.”

“Not necessarily. I’ve always thought there was a flaw in the Darwinian theory as he outlined it. It reads well but there’s too great a gap between man and his next most intelligent neighbor. Man ought to be dumber or the chimpanzee more intelligent, one or the other.”

“You believe then——?”

“I don’t believe. I suspect. It seems possible to me that man evolved from the primitive all right but he needn’t necessarily have done it on this earth. A good proof of that possibility lies asleep in your cabin right now; Vania. And perhaps people like her didn’t even get their start on the moon, perhaps they were intelligent beings when they first arrived there, who knows?”

“But where did they come from then? From Mars?”

Malmson shrugged. “I haven’t any basis even to guess with. Perhaps civilization advances crabwise with men being sent back through time to help out backward peoples or even backward worlds. It’s a wild guess but interesting to think about. But I don’t believe that, if we are destined to become the great grandfathers of Atlanteans, we’d necessarily be our own ancestors.”

“What else would you call us?”

“I don’t know, but such a premise would explain why Witherspoon and the other four on the ‘McGinty’ couldn’t travel through time with us. They WERE descended from some of the Atlanteans who escaped from the final tragedy. And so they couldn’t go back.”

THE two men smoked for awhile in silence.

“I’m just a simple sailor,” Johnny said at last, “and you’ve got me dizzy. To think we’ll never really know what happened to Witherspoon and the others. Or even whether the fleet escaped.”

Malmson turned his chair with a scrape to look his commander straight in the eye.

“There’s one chance in a million that we might find out,” he said, “if you wish to authorize the experiment.”

“Good Lord, what possible chance is there of communicating with people who don’t even exist yet?”

“There’s one chance in a million that we might be able to communicate. Did it ever occur to you to try the ‘D’ beam?”

“Don’t be any crazier than you have to. I’ve listened to about all the wild ideas I can stand up under tonight.”

“I’m not being crazy. No one knows anything about the ‘D’ beam except how to use it. It has some queer possibilities. I’ve been thinking about them for the last six weeks. There’s a vague possibility that it might cut through the time dimension.”

“But the beam hasn’t been on. We’d have noticed.”

“Remember we lost both our radio men. They may have tried it just after we disappeared. After that they wouldn’t dare to try it would they?”

“Against general orders, of course. Do we dare to try it ourselves?” “You’re the commander. It’s up to you.”

“Come along.” Johnny led the way to the radio room and they seated themselves at the transmitter.

“Wait a minute,” said Johnny. “What good would it do? In the first place we can’t get back and in the second they wouldn’t believe us. Third it’s against all orders and if by some miracle it worked, we might be giving away the secret of the beam to the little fellows. No, I guess not, Hugh.”

“That’s the conclusion I’d come to, too, but I thought as Commander of the ‘McGinty’ the final decision was up to you.”

Johnny rose from the instrument table and stretched his legs.

“No, we’ll carry on. We’ll build our homes and found our cities and if we’re destined to be the fathers of ‘Atlantis’ why—we’ll be the best dads we know how. But we’ll keep an operator on duty as long as ‘Atlantis’ lives, and if the beam ever comes on, we’ll cut in and try to explain ourselves. That’s the best we can do. Ho hum, too much talk has got me sleepy. Good night, Mayor.”

Hugh Malmson repacked his pipe.

“Mayor,” he said, and chuckled. “What swell people they all are. You can’t get ’em down. The Navy carries on.”



THE bathosphere dropped slowly through the inky seas of the south Atlantic, her searchlight beam cutting hazily through the blackness. It was a day in late autumn in 1935 and above the seas were roily. It would be the last descent of the year. Down, down, deeper than man had ever descended before. Bottom.

“We’ve hit,” the man inside reported up the telephone cable. “What’s the depth?”

“A little over 25,000 feet,” came the voice from above. “What do you see around you?”

“Not a darned thing. I might as well be sitting on a hilltop. Nearly five miles down. Well, it’s a record. Hoist away!”

And he was never to know that he had been perched on the highest tower of the principal city of “Atlantis,” nor that a few feet under him were the time rusted remnants of a ‘D’ beam set at which for thousands of years a man had sat, waiting for a call that never came. And that a man had been there waiting on that day of catastrophe when “Atlantis” descended under the waves.

And if he had known, he wouldn’t have believed.

Famous (and forgotten) Fiction
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