Infomotions, Inc.Or, the Captives of the Great Earthquake / Rockwood, Roy



Author: Rockwood, Roy
Title: Or, the Captives of the Great Earthquake
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Title: On a Torn-Away World

Author: Roy Rockwood

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ON A TORN-AWAY WORLD

Or

The Captives of the Great Earthquake

BY ROY ROCKWOOD






Other titles by ROY ROCKWOOD

THE GREAT MARVEL SERIES

THROUGH THE AIR TO THE NORTH POLE

UNDER THE OCEAN TO THE SOUTH POLE

FIVE THOUSAND MILES UNDERGROUND

THROUGH SPACE TO MARS

LOST ON THE MOON

ON A TORN-AWAY WORLD

DAVE DASHAWAY, THE YOUNG AVIATOR

DAVE DASHAWAY AND HIS HYDROPLANE

DAVE DASHAWAY AND HIS GIANT AIRSHIP

DAVE DASHAWAY AROUND THE WORLD

THE SPEEDWELL BOYS ON MOTOR CYCLES

THE SPEEDWELL BOYS AND THEIR RACING AUTO

THE SPEEDWELL BOYS AND THEIR POWER LAUNCH

THE SPEEDWELL BOYS IN A SUBMARINE







CONTENTS



I.      SHOT INTO THE AIR!

II.     MARK HANGS ON

III.    THIS FLIGHT OF THE "SNOWBIRD"
IV.     "WHO GOES THERE?"

V.      BETWEEN TWO PERILS

VI.     ON THE WINGS OF THE WIND

VII.    DROPPED FROM THE SKY

VIII.   PHINEAS ROEBACH, OIL HUNTER

IX.     THE EARTHQUAKE

X.      THE BLACK DAY

XI.     THE WONDERFUL LEAP

XII.    THE GEYSER

XIII.   NATURE GONE MAD

XIV.    ON THE WING AGAIN

XV.     A PLUNGE TO THE ICE

XVI.    PROFESSOR HENDERSON REVEALS THE TRUTH

XVII.   ON AN ISLAND IN THE AIR

XVIII.  IMPRISONED IN THE ICE

XIX.    A NIGHT ATTACK

XX.     THE HEROISM OF THE SHANGHAI ROOSTER

XXI.    MARK ON GUARD

XXII.   THE WOLF TRAIL

XXIII.  THE FIGHT AT ALEUKAN

XXIV.   THE FLIGHT TOWARD THE COAST

XXV.    THE HERD of KADIAKS

XXVI.   THE ABANDONED CITY

XXVII.  THE WHALE HUNT ASHORE

XXVIII. ON THE WHALING BARK

XXIX.   WHEN THE SEA ROLLED BACK

XXX.    AN ENDURING MONUMENT--CONCLUSION





CHAPTER I


SHOT INTO THE AIR

"Hurrah!" shouted Jack Darrow, flicking the final drops of lacquer
from the paintbrush he had been using. "That's the last stroke. She's
finished!"

"I guess we've done all we can to her before her trial trip," admitted
his chum, Mark Sampson, but in a less confident tone.

"You don't see anything wrong with her, old croaker; do you?" demanded
Jack, laughing as usual.

"'The proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof; not in chewing
the pudding bag string'," quoted Mark, still with a serious countenance.

But like Jack he stood off from the great body of the wonderful airship,
and looked the completed task over with some satisfaction. Having
emergency wings, she was also a plane. She was white all over and her
name was the _Snowbird_. Jack and Mark had spent most of their time
during this vacation from their college in building this flying machine,
which was veritably an up-to-the-minute aerial vehicle, built for both
speed and carrying capacity.

The hangar in which the machine had been built was connected with
Professor Amos Henderson's laboratory and workshop, hidden away on a
lonely point on the seacoast, about ten miles from the town of Easton,
Maine. At this spot had been built many wonderful things--mainly the
inventions of the boys' friend and protector, Professor Henderson; but
the _Snowbird_, upon which Jack and Mark now gazed so proudly, was
altogether the boys' own work.

The sliding door of the hangar opened just behind the two boys and a
black face appeared.

"Is eeder ob you boys seen ma Shanghai rooster?" queried the black
man, plaintively. "I suah can't fin' him nowhars."

"What did you let him out of his coop for?" demanded Mark. "You're
always bothering us about that rooster, Washington. He is as elusive
as the Fourth Dimension."

"I dunno wot dat fourth condension is, Massa Mark; but dat rooster is
suah some conclusive. When I lets him out fo' an airin' he hikes right
straight fo' some farmer's hen-yard, an' den I haster hunt fo' him."

"When you see him starting on his rambles, Wash, why don't you call
him back?" demanded Jack Darrow, chuckling. "If I did, Massa Jack,
I'spect he wouldn't know I was a-hollerin' fo' him."

"How's that? Doesn't he know his name?"

"I don't fo' suah know wedder he does or not," returned the darkey,
scratching his head "Ye see, it's a suah 'nuff longitudinous name, an'
I dunno wedder he remembers it all, or not."

"He's got a bad memory; has he?" said Mark, turning to smile at
Washington White, too, for Professor Henderson's old servant usually
afforded the boys much amusement.

"Dunno 'bout his memory," grunted Wash; "he's gotter good forgettery,
suah 'nuff. Leastways, when he starts off on one o' dese
perambulationaries ob his, he fergits ter come back."

"Let's see," said Jack, nudging his chum, "what _is_ that
longitudinous' name which has been hitched onto that wonderful bird,
Wash? I know it begins with the discovery of America and wanders down
through the ages to the present day; but a part of it has slipped my
memory--or, perhaps I should say, 'forgettery'."

With a perfectly serious face the darkey declaimed:

  "Christopher Columbus Amerigo Vespucci
  George Washington Abraham Lincoln Ulysses
  Grant Garibaldi Thomas Edison Guglielmo Marconi
  Butts."

"For goodness sake! Will you listen to that!" gasped Mark, while Jack
went off into a roar of laughter.

"Don't--don't it make your jaw ache to say it, Wash?" cried the older
lad when he could speak.

"Not a-tall! not a-tall!" rejoined the darkey, shaking his woolly head.
"I has practised all ma life speakin' de berry longest words in de
English language--"

"And mispronouncing them," giggled Jack.

"Mebbe, Massa Jack, mebbe!" agreed Washington, briskly. "But de copy
book say dat it is better to have tried an' failed dan nebber to have
tried at all."

"And did you ever try calling the rooster back, when he starts to play
truant, with all that mouthful of words?" queried the amused Mark.

"Yes, indeedy," said Washington, seriously.

"Don't he mind, then?"

"I should think he'd be struck motionless in his tracks," chuckled
Jack.

"No, sah," said Washington. "Dat's de only fault I kin fin' with dat
name--it don't 'pear to stop him. An' befo' I kin git it all out he's
ginerally out ob sight!"

That sent both boys off into another paroxysm of laughter. Meanwhile
the darkey had come into the great shed and was slowly walking around
the flying machine. "What do you think of her, Wash, now that she's
finished?" asked Mark.

"Is she done done?" queried the darkey, wonderingly.

"She certainly is," agreed Jack.

"De chile is bawn and done named Nebbercudsneezer, heh? Well! well!"

"No; it's named the _Snowbird_," Mark retorted. "And to-morrow
morning, bright and early, we shall sail on its trial trip. The
professor is going with us, Washington. Of course, you will come, too?"

"Lawsy me! don't see how I kin!" stammered Washington White, who always
wished to be considered very brave, but who was really as timid as a
hare. "Yo' see, Massa Mark, I'spect I shall be right busy."

"What will you be busy at?" demanded Jack.

"Well--well, sah," said Wash, "if dat Shanghai don't come back befo',
I shall hab ter go snoopin' aroun' de kentry a-huntin' fo' him. He'll
be crowin' 'bout sun-up, an' he suah can't disguise his crow."

"If Andy was here, he would surely want to go with us," declared Jack
to Mark. "Andy Sudds isn't afraid of anything."

"My! my!" cried Washington. "Yo' don't fo' one moment suppose, Massa
Jack, dat I's afeared; does yo'?" "No, you're not afraid, Wash,"
returned Jack, chuckling. "You're only scared to death. But you go
ahead and hunt your rooster. See that you keep him from flying too
high, however, or we'll run him down in the _Snowbird_."

"Pshaw!" said Mark. "That rooster is so fat he couldn't fly
high, anyway."

"And perhaps the _Snowbird_ won't fly very high; eh?" retorted Jack,
letting a little anxiety creep into his voice.

"But dat rooster suah _kin_ fly high," said Washington White, eagerly.
"Yo' gemmens knows dat he's flowed as high as de moon--he, he!"

"And 'flowed' is a mighty good word, Wash," chuckled Jack. "Ah! here
is the professor, Mark."

Professor Henderson was an aged man with snow white hair and beard.
Although he was not physically as strong as he once was, his brain and
energy were not in the least impaired by advancing years. He had taken
the two lads, Jack Darrow and Mark Sampson, both orphans, under his
care some years before, and under his tuition and by his aid they were
much farther advanced in knowledge of the practical sciences than other
boys of their age.

The professor welcomed them cordially and at their request gave a
thorough scrutiny to the various mechanical contrivances that went to
the make-up of the flying machine. He pronounced it, as far as could
be known before a practical test, a perfect mechanism.

"And we will try it to-morrow morning, boys," he said, with almost as
much enthusiasm as Jack and Mark themselves displayed. "You have
completed the machine in excellent time, and I "un likewise ready to
make the experiment."

"What experiment, Professor?" asked the boys in chorus.

"Haven't you noticed what I was tinkering on at the other end of the
shop?" queried Professor Henderson, in surprise.

"Why, I see that you have a long steel plank there, with some kind of
a compressed air contrivance at one end," said Jack.

"Is that what you mean, Professor?" queried Mark.

"That, boys," said the scientist, with some pride, "is a modern
catapult--an up-to-the-minute catapult which, had it been known to the
ancients, would have enabled the hosts of Joshua, for instance, to
batter down the walls of Jericho without the trouble of marching so
many times around the city."

"And what has a compressed air catapult got to do with the
_Snowbird_?" queried Jack. "You propose launching your flying machine in
the usual way," said the professor. "I see you have wheel trucks all
ready to slip under her. We will not use those wheels, boys. I have a
better plan. We will launch the _Snowbird_ into the air from my
catapult."

"Great goodness, Professor!" cried Mark. "Is that practicable?"

"We'll know after we have tried it," retorted Professor Henderson,
drily.

"How did you happen to start working on this catapult idea?" asked
Jack.

"Well, I can't tell you everything," replied the inventor, "for it is
partly a secret."

"Huh," laughed Mark. "You're mysterious. You haven't joined forces
with some department of our government, or with another country?"

The professor smiled, thinking how keen this young man always proved
himself to be.

"You've guessed it," he replied. "And I'm sorry I can't explain more
to you."

"We understand," said Jack. "And no doubt this machine is a
super-catapult."

"True," was the answer. "Of untold use to the scientific world. For
the present I shall confine testing its efficiency right in this place.
Now is my chance."

"But of what advantage will it be to our flying machine to start it
in this way?" "Stop and think, my boy," said the professor. "Just as
an aeroplane can literally be shot into the air within a very short
space, so can your airship. Of course, this is not necessary, but we
will be able to start the ship much faster that way than we could
withjust the motors."

"You'll make history, Professor," added Jack. "Exciting headlines for
the papers."

"Sure enough," said Mark enthusiastically.

"The publicity doesn't interest me," replied the scientist. "Moreover,
my super-catapult must remain a secret, as I told you a while ago."

"So you really propose to launch the _Snowbird_ in this way?" asked
Jack.

"We will be shot into the air. If you are sure of your machine, I am
sure of my catapult, and we will try the two contrivances together."

In the morning all rose bright and early and prepared the _Snowbird_ for
her trial flight. Washington White had indeed disappeared--possibly in
search of his Shanghai rooster--and Andy Sudds was off on a hunt.
Therefore the professor and his two young comrades essayed the trip
alone.

Jack and Mark tossed a coin to see who should first guide the great
air machine, and Mark won the preference. He, as well as his chum and
the professor, had already donned their aeronautic uniforms, and he
now strapped himself into the pilot's seat. The steering apparatus,
the levers that controlled the planes, and the motor switch were all
under his hand. While in flight the _Snowbird_ need be under the
control of but one person at a time.

The professor had rigged his catapult so that he could release the
trigger from the flying machine. Mark said he was ready; the professor
reached for the cord which would release the trigger.

"Start your motor, Mark, a fraction of a second before I release the
compressed air," commanded Mr. Henderson. "Now!"

The motor of the flying machine buzzed faintly. Jack's eyes were on
the speed indicator. He suddenly felt the great, quivering flying
machine, which had been run out of the hangar on to the steel plank
of the catapult, lurch forward. The feeling affected him just as the
sudden dropping of an elevator from a great height affects its
passengers.

The finger of the speed indicator whirled and marked forty miles an
hour ere the flying machine left the steel plank, and shot into the
air with the fearful force of the compressed air behind it.

Both Mark and Jack were well used to guiding aeroplanes and other air
machines. But this start from the ground was much different from the
easy, swooping flight of an airship as usually begun. Like an arrow
the _Snowbird_ was shot upward on a long slant. It was a moment
ere Mark got the controls to working. The propellers were, of course,
started with the first stroke of the motor.

But Mark Sampson was nervous; there was no denying that. At the instant
when the nose of the airship should have been raised, so as to clear
the tops of the forest trees and every building on the Henderson place,
Mark instead guided the rapidly flying _Snowbird_ far to the left.

It skimmed the corner of the stable by a fraction of a foot, and Jack
yelled:

"Look out!"

His cry made Mark even more nervous. The tall water-tank and windmill
were right in line. Before the young aviator could swerve the flying
machine to escape the vane upon the roof of the tower, and the long
arms of the mill, they were right upon these things!

The fast-shooting _Snowbird_ was jarred through all her members; but she
tore loose. And then, in erratic leaps and bounds, she kept on across
the fields and woods towards Easton, never rising very high, but
occasionally sinking so that she trailed across the treetops,
threatening the whole party with death and the flying machine itself
with destruction, at every jump.




CHAPTER II

MARK HANGS ON


Professor Henderson and his adopted sons--Jack Darrow and Mark
Sampson--had been in many perilous situations together. Neither one
nor the other was likely to display panic at the present juncture,
although the flying _Snowbird_ was playing a gigantic game of
"leap-frog" through the air.

The professor had himself constructed many wonderful machines for
transportation through the air, under the ground, and both on and
beneath the sea; and in them he and his young comrades had voyaged
afar.

Narrated in the first volume of this series, entitled, "Through the
Air to the North Pole," was the bringing together of the two boys and
the professor,--how the scientist and Washington White rescued Jack
and Mark after a train wreck, took them to the professor's workshop,
and made the lads his special care. In that workshop was built the
_Electric Monarch_, in which flying ship the party actually passed
over that point far beyond the Arctic Circle where the needle of the
compass indicates the North Pole.

Later, in the submarine boat, the _Porpoise,_ the professor, with
his young assistants and others, voyaged under the sea to the South
Pole, the details of which voyage are related in the second volume of
the series, entitled "Under the Ocean to the South Pole."

In the third volume, "Five Thousand Miles Underground," is related the
building of that strange craft, the _Flying Mermaid_, and how the
voyagers journeyed to the center of the earth. The perils connected
with this experience satisfied all of them, as far as adventure went,
for some time. Jack and Mark prepared for, and entered, the Universal
Electrical and Chemical College.

Before the first year of their college course was completed, however,
Professor Henderson, in partnership with a brother scientist, Professor
Santell Roumann, projected and carried through a marvelous campaign
with the aid of Jack and Mark, which is narrated in our fourth volume,
entitled, "Through Space to Mars." In this book is told how the
projectile, _Annihilator_, was built and, the projectile being driven by
the Etherium motor, the party was transported to the planet Mars.

Later, because of some knowledge obtained from a Martian newspaper by
Jack, they all made a trip to the moon in search of a field of diamonds,
and their adventures as related in "Lost on the Moon" were of the most
thrilling kind. The projectile brought them safely home again and they
had now, for some months, been quietly pursuing their usual avocations.

The knowledge Jack Darrow and Mark Sampson had gained from textbooks,
and much from observation and the teachings of Professor Henderson,
had aided the lads in the building of the _Snowbird_. It was the first
mechanism of importance that Jack and Mark had ever completed, and they
had been quite confident, before the flying machine was shot from Mr.
Henderson's catapult, that it was as near perfect as an untried
aeroplane could be.

"Hang on, Mark!" yelled Jack, as the great machine soared and pitched
over the forest.

Her leaps were huge, and the shock each time she descended and rose
again threatened to shake the 'plane to bits. Mark swayed in his seat,
clutching first one lever and then another, while Professor Henderson
and Jack could only cling with both hands to the guys and stay-wires.

The sensation of being so high above the earth, and in imminent danger
of being dashed headlong to it, gripped Mark Sampson like a giant
hand. He felt difficulty in breathing, although it was not the height
that gave him that choking sensation. There was a mist before his eyes,
still the sun was shining brightly. The startling gyrations of the
flying machine for some time shook the lad to the core.

But Jack's cheerful cry of "Hang on!" spurred Mark to a new activity--an
activity of hand as well as brain. He knew that something had fouled
and that this accident was the cause of the machine making such
sickening bounds in the air. She was overbalanced in some way.

With Jack's encouraging shout ringing in his ears, Mark came to himself.
He _would_ hang on! His friends depended upon him to control the machine
and to save them from destruction, and he would not be found wanting.

One lever after another he gripped and tried. It was one controlling
the rising power that was fouled. He learned this in a moment. He
sought to move it to and fro in its socket and could not do so. He had
overlooked this lever before.

Again the _Snowbird_ dashed herself from a height of five hundred feet
toward the earth.

They still flew over the forest. The tops of the trees intervened, and
Mark managed to counteract the plunge before the prow of the machine
burst through the treetops. She rose again, and using both hands, Mark
jerked the wheel stick into place.

At once the flying machine responded to the change. She rode straight
on, slightly rising as he had pointed her, and Mark dared touch the
motor switch again. Instantly the machine speeded ahead.

"Hurrah for Mark!" shrieked Jack. "He's pulled us through."

"He has indeed," agreed the professor, and they settled into their
seats and gave attention to the working of the apparatus. Mark now had
the _Snowbird_ well under control.

Jack changed places with his chum and managed the _Snowbird_ equally
well. At his touch she darted upward at a long slant until the altimeter
registered two thousand feet above the sea. And the sea was actually
below them, for Jack had guided the flying machine away out from the
land.

"Boys," said Professor Henderson, quietly, "you have done
well--remarkably well. I am certainly proud of you. Some day the people
of the United States will be proud of you. I am sure that the inventor's
instinct and the scientist's indefatigable energy are characteristics
you both possess."

"That's praise indeed!" exclaimed Jack, smiling at his chum. "When the
professor says we've won out, I don't care what anybody else says."

"Do you think the _Snowbird_ is fit for long-distance travel?" asked
Mark of Professor Henderson, now displaying more eagerness than before.

"I do indeed. I think you have a most excellent flying machine. I would
not hesitate to start for San Francisco in her."

"Or farther?" asked Jack.

"Certainly."

"Across the ocean?" queried Mark, quickly.

"I do not see why any one could not take a trip to the other side of
the Atlantic in your 'plane," replied the professor. "With proper
precautions, of course."

They reached the land and came safely to rest before the hangar without
further accident. The professor was delighted with the working of his
catapult and at once made ready to call the attention of the Navy
Department to his improvement in the means of launching an airship
from the deck of a vessel. Ere he had written to the Department,
however, he and his young friends were suddenly made interested in a
scheme that was broached by letter to Professor Henderson from a
fellow-savant, Dr. Artemus Todd, of the West Baden University.

Professor Henderson and Dr. Todd had often exchanged courtesies; but
the university doctor was mainly interested in medical subjects, while
Mr. Henderson delved more in the mysteries of astronomy and practical
mechanics.

The doctor's letter to Professor Henderson read as follows:

"Dear Professor:

"I am urged to write to you again because of something that has recently
come to my knowledge regarding a subject we once discussed. As you
know, for some years past I have been investigating not the _cause_
of aphasia and kindred mental troubles (for we know the condition is
brought about by a clot of blood upon the brain), but the means of
quickly and surely overcoming the condition and bringing the unfortunate
victim of this disorder back to his normal state. In our age, when
mental and nervous diseases are so rapidly increasing, aphasia victims
are becoming more common. Scarcely a hospital in the land that does
not have its quota of such patients under treatment--patients who, in
many cases, have completely forgotten who and what they are and have
assumed a totally different identity from that they began life with."

"We know that, in some cases, hypnotism has benefited the aphasia and
amnesia victim. His condition is not like that of the mentally feeble;
he has merely lost his memory of what and who he previously was.
Believing that all disease, of whatsoever nature, can be safely treated
only through the blood, _this_ ill to which human flesh is heir
particularly must be treated in that way, for we know that a stagnant
state of the blood in one spot, at least, is the cause of the patient's
malady. Therefore I have been experimenting botanically to discover
a remedium for the state in question--something that will act swiftly
upon the blood, and directly dissipate such a clot as is spoken of
above."

"My dear Professor! I can announce with joy that this remedium is
discovered. I obtained a specimen of a very rare plant brought back
from Alaska by a miner who wandered into the fastnesses of the Endicott
Range, far beyond the usual route of gold miners and in a district
which, I understand, is scarcely ever crossed by whites and which is,
indeed, almost impassable, even in the summer months. With the aid of
this herb--_Chrysothele-Byzantium_ (it was known to the ancients,
but very rare)--I have brewed a remedium which, in one case at lest,
instantly cleared the blood vessels of the patient and brought him
back to a knowledge of his real self."

"But my supply of the herb is gone. It reached me in its dry state,
or I should have first tried to propagate it. It seeds but once in
seven years and therefore is rare and hard to grow. But I must have
a supply of the _Chrysothele-Byzantium_ seeds, plants, and all.
I look to you, my dear Professor Henderson, for help. To you space and
the flight of time are merely words. You can overcome both if you try.
I need somebody to go to the northern part of Alaska--that is, beyond
the Endicott Range--to obtain this rare plant for me. You have already
flown over the North Pole and a trip which carries one only three or
four degrees beyond the Arctic Circle is a mere bagatelle to you."

"Yes! it is in you I place my hope, Professor. The hopes of many, many
afflicted people may be placed in you, too. I ask you to fly to this
distant place and obtain for me the herb that will do humanity such
great good. Under another enclosure I send you drawings of the plant
in its several states and a full and complete description of how it
was found. You can make no mistake in the _Chrysothele-Byzantium_.
You know that I am a cripple, or I would offer to join with you in
this search. But at least I am prepared to pay for any expense you may
be under. Draw upon me for ten thousand dollars to-morrow if you so
desire, and more if you need before the start. The Massachusetts Bay
Trust Company, of Boston, will honor the draft. Make up the expedition
as you see fit. Take as many men with you as you think necessary. Make
all preparations which seem to you fit and needful. I limit you in
nothing--only bring back the herb."

"Remember I shall impatiently await your return and look for your
success--I expect nothing but unqualified success from your attempt.
You who have achieved so much in the past surely cannot fail me in
this event. I await your agreement to attempt this voyage with
confidence. I must have the herb and you are the only person who can
obtain it for me."

"Your friend and co-worker for the betterment of humanity,
             ARTEMUS TODD, M.D., Ph.D."

Professor Henderson read this strange letter aloud in the evening as
he and his friends were sitting before the small, clear fire of hickory
logs in the big living room of the bungalow in the woods, built beside
the great workshops and laboratory. With the scientist and the two
boys was Andy Sudds, the old hunter, who sat cleaning his rifle, and
Washington White was busy in and out of the room as he cleared away
the supper and set the place in order.

"Well! what do you know about that!" exclaimed Jack Darrow, always
ready with a comment upon any subject. "Dr. Todd is certainly some in
earnest; isn't he?" "But what a cheek he has to ask you to go on such
a journey!" cried Mark. "He talks as though he expected you to start
immediately for the Arctic Circle."

"There would be good hunting up there in the mountains," said Andy
Sudds, succinctly. "I wouldn't mind that."

"An'disher chrysomela-bypunktater plant he wants," grunted Washington.
"Hi, yi! ain't dat de beatenest thing? Who ebber heard of sech a plant
befo'?"

"Nobody but you, I guess, Washington," said the professor, quietly.
"_That_ seems to be a plant of your own invention."

"But, sir!" cried Mark, "you have no idea of taking this trip he
suggests; have you?"

"Dr. Todd has done me many a favor in the past," said Professor
Henderson, thoughtfully.

"Well, if you're going, count me in," said Jack, quickly. "I don't
mind a summer trip to the Arctic. Say! it can't be much cooler up there
than it is here right now. This fire doesn't feel bad at all."

"Humph!" muttered Mark, who never was as sanguine as his chum. "This
cool spell will only last a day or two here; but I understand the tops
of the Endicott Range are always white."

"B-r-r!" shivered Washington, at this statement. "Dis chile don't t'ink
much ob such a surreptitious pedestrianation as dat, den. Don't like
no cold wedder, nohow! And Buttsy don' like it, needer."

"Who's Buttsy?" demanded Jack, grinning.

"Why, fo' suah," said the darkey, gravely, "you knows Christopher
Columbus Amerigo Vespucci George Washington Abraham Lin----"

"But you wouldn't expect to take Christopher Columbus And-so-forth to
Alaska with us; would you?" asked Andy Suggs.

"Why not?" demanded the darkey. "He flowed to de moon in de
perjectilator; didn't he? Huh! In co'se if de perfessor goes after
disher chrysomela-bypunktater, I gotter go, too; and in co'se if I go,
Buttsy done gotter go. Dat's as plain as de nose on yo' face, Andy."

The hunter rubbed his rather prominent nasal organ and was silenced.
Jack and Mark had turned more eagerly to the professor as the latter
began to speak:

"Yes, Dr. Todd is my good friend. He turns to me for help quite
properly; who else should he turn to?"

"But, Professor!" ejaculated Mark, warmly. "Are you to be driven off
to Alaska at your age to hunt for this herb--which is perhaps only the
hallucination of a madman?" "Mark's hit the nail on the head,
Professor!" declared Jack. "I believe this Todd must certainly be
'touched' in his upper story."

"Am _I_ touched, as you call it, Jack?" demanded Professor Henderson, in
some indignation.

"But you don't believe Todd is on the trail of any great discovery?"
cried Mark.

"Why not? Mind may yield to herbal treatment. Todd is an advanced
botanical adherent. He believes almost anything can be accomplished
by herbs. And he says he has successfully treated one case."

"One swallow doesn't make a summer," remarked Mark, doubtfully.

"But it is enough that he wants us to find the herb," said the
professor, more vigorously.

"'Us'!" repeated Jack.

"And he will pay us any reasonable price for our work," added their
mentor.

"He really means to go!" cried Mark.

"I certainly do. I think you and Jack will accompany me," said the
professor, quietly. "I know that Washington will, and of course Andy
will not be left behind."

"Not if there'll be a chance at big game," declared the hunter. "I'm
with you, Professor Henderson."

"Yo' suah can't git erlong widout me, I s'pose?" queried the darkey,
in some uncertainty. "I'se mighty busy right yere jes' now."

"And you'll be busy if we go to Alaska, Wash!" cried Jack. "Hurrah!
I am willing to start to-morrow, Professor."

"And you, Mark?" queried the old gentleman of his other adopted son.

"How will we go, sir? We shall be until fall traveling to the Arctic
Circle by any usual means."

"True," said the professor. "And haste is imperative. I cannot spend
much time in this matter. We must take unusual means of getting to the
Endicott Range."

"What do you mean?" asked the boys in chorus.

"Your _Snowbird_ is ready for flight. It can be provisioned and
will take us all quicker than by any other means. Therefore in the
_Snowbird_ we will make the journey."




CHAPTER III

THE FLIGHT OF THE SNOWBIRD

Jack Darrow and Mark Sampson were glad enough to be of the party aiming
to reach northern Alaska and the Endicott Range, if Professor Henderson
really intended going to find the strange herb for which Dr. Todd was
willing to pay so generously.

Of discussion, pro and con, there was much. Indeed, they sat up until
after midnight after the reading of Dr. Todd's letter, talking over
the contemplated journey, and gradually the details of the trip,
including all preparations for it, were worked out.

Jack and Mark put into the affair, once they were determined to aid
the professor, their characteristic energy. Professor Henderson wired
his brother scientist that he would undertake the journey to Alaska,
and accepted the ten thousand dollars to defray expenses. Andy Sudds
made characteristic preparations for hunting the big game of the Alaskan
mountains. Washington White built a traveling coop of very light but
strong material for his pet Shanghai, and then announced himself as
ready to depart for the Arctic Circle.

The instructions and map furnished by Dr. Todd, locating the very spot
beyond the Endicott Range where the rare herb had been plucked by the
miner, showed it to be in a very wild region indeed. There was a native
settlement named Aleukan within a hundred miles of the valley where
the herb was supposed to grow in abundance. Professor Henderson
determined to lay their course for this place.

But the nearest white man's town was Coldfoot, on the other side of
the mountains. There was a trail, however, passable in summer for a
dogtrain from Coldfoot to Aleukan; and a dogtrain could likewise pass
from the native village to the valley where the miner had found the
herb.

These facts the professor and his young associates discovered as soon
as Dr. Todd's instructions arrived. They made their plans accordingly.

By telegraph the professor ordered a trainload of supplies to be started
at once from Fort Yukon. First, these supplies would go by boat down
the Yukon Flats and up the Chandler River, past Chandler and Caro,
beyond which latter town there was a good road over a small range of
hills to Coldfoot. This trail was open at all seasons and there was
a regular system of transportation into Coldfoot.

From that town dogs and men would be hired to take the supplies on to
Aleukan. These arrangements were made through an express company, and
in three days the professor received word that the supplies were already
aboard a small steam vessel which had left the Fort Yukon dock for the
trip to Caro.

The trip by boat and overland for the supply train would consume about
a week or two, providing nothing untoward happened to delay it. And
the season was favorable to a quick journey.

But the professor and his young comrades figured that the _Snowbird_,
following the shortest air-line to the far side of the Endicott Range,
could make the trip in much shorter time. The distance "as the crow
flies" was from 3,700 to 3,800 miles from their point of departure.
Under favorable conditions the great flying machine should travel ninety
miles an hour on the average. Unless there was a breakdown, or they ran
into a heavy storm, which would necessitate their descending to the
earth, they could count upon the _Snowbird_ being in the vicinity of
Aleukan within three or four days' time at the longest.

In the flying machine itself they could carry a supply of concentrated
foods, medicines, necessities of many kinds, and their arms. It was
probable that meat could be had for the killing in the valley to which
they were bound, and the Indians at Aleukan could be hired to supply
necessary food for a time. But the professor did not propose to take
his friends into the wilderness without completely warding off disaster.

Considerable space in the _Snowbird_ was occupied by Professor
Henderson's scientific instruments. He was amply supplied with powerful
field glasses, a wonderful telescope, partly of his own invention;
instruments for the measuring of mountains heights, the recording of
seismic disturbances, and many other scientific paraphernalia of which
Jack and Mark did not know even the uses.

The boys were as well supplied with firearms as Andy Sudds himself.
They knew that they would probably see and be obliged to kill dangerous
beasts; and although the several tribes of Indians inhabiting Alaska
are all supposed to be semi-civilized and at peace with the whites,
they had had experience enough in wild countries before to warn them
that the temper of aboriginal man is never to be trusted too far.

Their own readiness for departure in the _Snowbird_ had been gauged by
the telegraph dispatches from Fort Yukon. When the final message came
that the boat bearing the supplies had started, Professor Henderson
asked: "And now, boys, when can we leave by the air route?"

Jack and Mark glanced at each other and nodded. Jack said:

"All you have to do, Professor, is to put your bag aboard the ship and
step in. We are ready to start the _Snowbird_ at any moment. Andy
has his guns aboard, and plenty of ammunition. Mark and I are all
ready. At your word we will leave."

"It is already dark," said the professor, slowly. "Shall we wait until
morning?"

"The moon will be up in an hour--and it is almost at its full," Mark
said, quickly. "The quicker we are off the better, it seems to me."

"Very well," agreed Professor Henderson. "If you boys say the word, we
will start. Is Andy here?"

"He is already aboard--asleep in his bunk," said Jack, "with his best
rifle cuddled in the hollow of his arm. He does not propose to be left
behind," and the young fellow chuckled.

"And where is Washington White?"

"He's done yere," answered the darkey for himself, and he appeared
bearing the traveling coop of Christopher Columbus And-so-forth in his
arms.

"Here, Wash!" ejaculated Jack. "Surely you are not going to clutter
up the flying machine with that thing?"

"An' why fo' not?" sputtered the darkey. "Whatebber has Buttsy done
ter yo', Massa Jack, dat yo' should be obfendicated at his 'pearance
in de present state ob de obsequies?"

"Then the rooster accompanies the expedition," chuckled Jack. "Only
remember, if we have to throw out anything to lighten ship, Buttsy
goes first--even before we are obliged to dispense with _your_ services,
Wash!"

"Den we are ready to start," declared the darkey, solemnly. "Nottin'
will now disturb de continuity ob de ebenin's enj'yment. Forward,
march, is our motter!"

And he marched away to the flying machine and got aboard with the coop
and Buttsy in his arms.

The professor had found the last of his possessions he wished to take
with him. He followed the negro aboard. The _Snowbird_ was already
outside the hangar and on its wheels, ready for the start. This time
they dispensed with the professor's catapult, for it would be necessary
to have the trucks attached to the aeroplane to enable her to start
properly from any point on which they might land. The workshop and
plant in general were left in charge of a watchman and caretaker, and
only this man was present when Jack took his place in the controller's
seat and Mark started the powerful motor and clambered aboard.

The craft ran across the field, at first slowly and then more rapidly
as Jack increased the speed. The flying machine began to lift almost
immediately.

"Hurrah!" shouted the irrepressible Jack. "We're off!"

"About nor-norwest is the course, Jack," cried Mark Sampson, likewise
inspired by the flight of the _Snowbird_.

As for Washington White, he gazed down to the dusky earth below them
and his eyes rolled.

"Gollyation!" he muttered. "If Buttsy should fall down dere, he'd suah
jounce himself some; wouldn't he?"




CHAPTER IV

"WHO GOES THERE?"

With the moonlight lying like a benediction over the fields and forests
of Maine, the _Snowbird_, her motor humming like a huge bumble-bee,
and her propellers and controls working in perfect order, swept on her
course into the northwest. The lights of Easton, ten miles from their
home, melted into the earth-shadow behind the sky-voyagers within the
first hour of the sure-to-be eventful journey.

Jack Darrow did not force the pace of the flying machine. They had a
long and trying flight before them. The machine as a whole had been
tried out only two or three times during the few days that had elapsed
since she was completed and this present expedition had been planned.
These short flights had served merely to put the parts in good working
trim; but the lad knew better than to make the pace that of top-speed
from the start.

He wanted her to "warm up." He knew that the _Snowbird_ could make one
hundred twenty-five miles an hour. But such speed was likely to shake
something loose and cripple the mechanism.

A flight of seventy or eighty miles an hour would bring them well into
Canada by noon of the next day. They would have to there descend at,
or near, some town, and report themselves and the nature of their
flight to the authorities. This was to be done as a precaution in case
they had a breakdown somewhere in crossing British possessions. A
passport would then aid them if they were obliged to call upon the
authorities in the heart of Canada for aid.

But at present none of these things bothered the party much. Sudds and
the professor slept as though they were in their beds at home. The old
hunter could sleep anywhere, and awake instantly with all his faculties
about him. And the scientist slept profoundly because his body was
exhausted.

Under the brilliant moon the _Snowbird_ swung along the air-way like a
veritable bird. Jack increased the revolutions of the propellers
a trifle and the ship responded like a spirited horse to the spur. She
darted ahead at a ninety mile speed and Washington White emitted a
mournful groan.

"What's the matter with you now, Wash?" shouted Mark, for they all
wore ear-tabs and had to shout to make one another hear.

"Oh, lawsy-massy on us!" groaned Wash. "I'se got sech a misery, Massa
Mark, I dunno but ma time has camed."

"What time has come?" demanded Mark, without much sympathy. "It'll be
time for you to hustle and get us something to eat before long."

"For de goodness gracious Agnes' sake!" gasped the negro, "yo' suahly
ain't a-gwine ter dribe me ter wo'k up in disher flyin' contraption?
Dat would suah be cruelty ter animiles, boy--it. suah would!"

"We've got to eat, Wash," said Jack, chuckling, "and you are steward
and cook of this craft."

"Gollyation! did I ship fo' sech wo'k? I nebber knowed it. It does
seem to me dat de consanguinity ob de 'casion done call fo' notting
but de quietest kind o' verisimilitude. De qualmishness dat arises in
de interiorness of ma diaphragm ev'ry time I circumnavigates erbout
in disher flyin' ship makes me wanter express mahself in de mos'
scatterin' kin' ob er way--I hopes you gits ma meanin' clear?"

Jack was laughing so that he could not speak, but Mark managed to say:

"You mean that the motion of the aeroplane gives you a feeling of _mal
de mer_?"

"Dat's wot I done said," Wash replied, seriously. "I nebber in ma life
felt so mal-der-merry as I do at dis present onauspicious 'casion; an'
if dat mal don't stop merryin' purty quick, I suah shall be--ugh!--sick
ter ma stummick!"

This wail fairly convulsed Jack Darrow and Mark Sampson; but they knew
that if Wash paid more attention to his duties and thought less about
his own situation he would be better off. Mark insisted on his going
at once into the tiny, covered "galley," as the boys called it, hung
amidships, in which were the means of heating water, making coffee,
and cooking certain simple viands in their stores.

Wash went to his duties grumblingly; but he was an ingenious and
skillful cook and when he got to work he forgot his "feeling of
mal-de-merry."

It was now approaching midnight and the flying machine had been steadily
traveling northward for some hours. Both Andy Sudds and the professor
awoke and offered to relieve the boys in their work. But Mark had taken
Jack's place in the controller's seat and neither he nor his chum felt
that he wished to give over the guidance of the _Snowbird_ to anybody
else.

Now, some distance ahead, the peak of Mt. Katahdin, gloriously mantled
in moonlight, rose before them. Their direct course lay over the summit
of this eminence, and Mark decided that it would be better to rise to
a higher strata and cross the mountain than to swing around it.
Therefore Mark raised the bow of the flying machine and she darted
upward on a long slant, drawing ever nearer to the shining peak of the
great mountain. The night air was chill--it had been cool when they
left the earth--and as they rose to the rarer ether it was evident
that they would find a degree of temperature far lower than the usual
summer heat.

Mark kept the _Snowbird_ scaling swiftly upward, mile after mile; but
the long tangent at which he had started to clear the summit of Katahdin
did not prove sufficient, and by and by they found themselves within a
very few yards of the rocky side of the peak.

Out of a dark glen a spark of light suddenly shot--almost like a rocket
in swiftness. Jack saw it first and cried:

"See that! What is it? What do you make of it?"

"A shootin' star, I declare!" said Andy Sudds.

"Nothing of the kind," exclaimed Jack, quickly. "A star could not shoot
up from the earth."

"Wot's dat says somebody's a-shootin' at us?" gasped Washington White.
"If dey punctuates our tire, we'll suah go down wid a big ker-smash!"

The professor, however, watched the "shooting star" for some moments
without speaking, and then rapidly made his way to Mark's side.

"Send your 'plane up in spirals, boy I" he commanded. "Don't let that
light rise over us. Be quick, now!"

"What is it, Professor?" asked young Sampson, as he obeyed the
scientist's injunction.

"I am sure it is a light in the bow of another airship--but what manner
of ship she is, or who drives her, I cannot guess," declared Professor
Henderson, gravely.

"Another airship!" cried Jack, who overheard him. "What do you know
about that?"

Mark handled the _Snowbird_ with great skill, and the powerful craft
mounted much more swiftly than the distant spark of light. The spiral
course the 'plane now followed carried it at times much farther from the
mountain side than it had been when first the strange light was noticed.
That light followed the _Snowbird_ up and up in similar spirals, and the
boys were soon convinced that Professor Henderson's discovery was a
fact. The lamp was in the bow of another air craft.

"But why should we keep over them?" asked Jack. "There is no danger; is
there?"

"We do not know who they are," said the professor, shortly. "The craft
came right out of a fastness in the mountain-side--a place difficult
to reach, and which would not seem to attract aviators of the ordinary
class." "I know what he is thinking of," cried Mark, suddenly. "I read
in the paper that the Department of Justice officers are after some
big smugglers and that it is believed the criminals, in going back and
forth into Canada, use some kind of an aerial craft. Isn't that so,
Professor Henderson?"

"I had the fact in mind. The flying machine is being put already to
uses that are not commendable, to say the least. The Maine and Canadian
border has for years been used by bands of smugglers, and if one of
these gangs have purchased and can use a flying craft, they may make
the revenue men a deal of trouble."

"You're right, sir. And I read likewise that the government officers
proposed using an aeroplane themselves to track the smugglers. Perhaps
the villains, if that is their ship below us, may take us for secret
service men."

As he spoke the lamp so far below them darted up at a sudden and sharp
angle, there sounded the sharp crack of some weapon, and Washington
White jumped and screamed.

"Gollyation!" he bawled. "Dem fellers is suah tryin' ter punctuate us!"

Through the blackness of the night a distant voice hailed the pilot
of the _Snowbird_.

"Ahoy! ahoy! Who goes there?" was the cry, and it was repeated twice.




CHAPTER V

BETWEEN TWO PERILS

Mark Sampson, having all the mechanism of the flying machine under his
immediate control, had it in his power to increase speed and seek to
escape the second airship. And Jack wondered why his chum did not
immediately send the _Snowbird_ flying at increased speed over the top
of Mt. Katahdin and so seek to escape the menace below.

But the young fellow at the controls of the _Snowbird_ had an advantage
over his companions that Jack had forgotten. He could hear sounds at a
much greater distance than they, and much clearer.

This was because of an invention of Professor Henderson--a small
instrument similar to part of the ordinary telephone. The sensitive
disk was a form of radio receiver which could be attached to any
aviator's helmet, and was being put into general use by pilots. The
two boys always adjusted this whenever they were strapped upon the
pilot's seat.

Thus, although the report of the gun had sounded but faintly to the
other members of the party, to Mark it seemed as though the explosion
was within a hundred yards. The voice hailing them likewise seemed to
ring in his ears very plainly; and beyond the words somewhat
distinguished by his companions the young operator of the _Snowbird_
could make out a further phrase spoken by the person who hailed from the
other air-craft.

"Halt in the name of the law!"

Those were the sharp words Mark had caught, and for that reason he
hesitated to increase the _Snowbird's_ speed.

In a strap hung near his left hand was a transmitter. Without taking
the advice of any of his companions in the flying machine, Mark seized
it, put it to his lips, and replied to the hail:

"Ahoy! what do you want?"

Instantly the voice rose from the black abyss below them:

"Heave to! Stop in the name of the law!"

That time the professor and Jack heard the words spoken by their
pursuer.

"What do you know about that?" demanded Jack. "'In the name of the law',
no less!"

Professor Henderson jumped to the same conclusion that Mark had, and
that instantly. "It may be the Secret Service men themselves," he said.
"Ah, Andrew! it is just as well to withhold your fire until we know
for sure."

For Andy Sudds had seized his rifle and stood ready to withstand an
attack, should such an act become necessary.

Up from the depths came the cry again:

"Hold your ship. I propose to come aboard and search her. In the name
of the United States Government!"

Mr. Henderson took the radio telephone out of Mark's hand and replied:

"We wish to know who and what you really are. We will not put ourselves
in your power without knowing. We are amply armed."

"Don't you dare to fire upon a United States officer in the discharge
of his duty," cried the voice from below, and now the strange airship
was much nearer to them. "Who do you claim to be?"

"This is the _Snowbird_, from Easton, Maine, She is manned by her
builders, Darrow and Sampson. She carries as passengers Washington
White, Andrew Sudds and Amos Henderson," declared the professor, in
reply. "And she is bound for Alaska."

"Well, well!" exclaimed the voice of their pursuer. "That may all be
so. But I have my suspicions. I am Ford, special agent of the Department
of Justice. Stand by. Now I am coming aboard."

At a nod from the professor, Mark had already brought the _Snowbird_ to
a halt. She lay floating, with all planes extended and without motion of
propellers, poised over the summit of Mt. Katahdin.

The descending moon threw its beams over the height and revealed to
the vaguely anxious occupants of the _Snowbird_, the other machine
darting up from below.

This was a craft of much different aspect from their own. It was a
great deal smaller and apparently without half the power possessed by
the one built by Jack and Mark.

She shot into the air above their heads at a swift pace, however, and
immediately poised over them. In this attitude Ford, as he called
himself, had the occupants of the _Snowbird_ completely at his
mercy. A bomb dropped upon the huge flying machine would have blown
her to pieces. Or, with a gun, he could have picked off one after
another of the five people below.

"Stand out of the way, there!" commanded Ford.

Instantly those upon the larger air-craft saw a figure swing down from
the framework of the airship above their heads. A light rope ladder
unrolled and fell upon the upper deck, or platform of the _Snowbird_,
and the man came down this ladder, hand under hand, and in half a minute
stood in their midst.

He was a small, gray man--gray suit, gray hair and close-cropped
mustache, and gray face, colorless and deeply lined. His age would be
hard to judge.

"The _Snowbird_; eh?" he observed, looking sharply from one to the other
of the five passengers of the huge flying machine. "_You_ are Amos
Henderson, sir?" he pursued, nodding to the professor. "I believe I have
heard your name before. Professor Henderson, whose scientific
discoveries have made us all marvel of late?"

"I am Professor Henderson," said the old gentleman, quietly. "And I
can vouch for my companions. These boys, my adopted sons, have built
this flying machine, and we are bound for Alaska."

"Indeed! Then I fear I have caused you some slight trouble, not to say
delay," said Mr. Ford. "We revenue agents are extremely anxious to
overhaul and interview all aviators along the border. You understand?"

"I believe that you have cause to suspect certain flying machines
operating between the Canadian towns and Maine settlements," admitted
Professor Henderson. "Quite right. And if our suspicions are based on
fact, innocent flying men like yourselves may well beware of the fellows
we are after. To be frank with you," pursued Mr. Ford, "a band of
desperate smugglers are operating by aid of one or more aeroplanes.
And piracy in the air may soon became as frequent--and as grave a peril
to innocent aviators--as was ever piracy on the Spanish Main."

"It seems impossible!" said the professor. "Who are these desperate
criminals?"

"A man named Bainbridge is at their head. He was originally a diamond
dealer and finally was caught smuggling gems into the port of New York.
He had to pay a huge fine and served a term at Atlanta for that crime
and since then has sworn to be revenged upon the Government that
punished him.

"We learned of late that he was operating on the Mexican
border--bringing into the States diamonds that had paid no duty--by
aid of a flying machine. But the uprising in Chihuahua and along the
border made his work exceedingly dangerous, and he was driven away
from that part of the country.

"Now we believe he has joined forces hereabout with ancient enemies
of the Federal officers. At least, there is a strange aeroplane reported
from both sides of the border, and some fine gems have appeared in the
hands of certain suspected dealers in Maine, and as far south as Boston
and Providence.

"Bainbridge is known to be a desperate man. Look out for him, Professor.
If you are hailed by another machine, better keep away from it," and
the secret service agent laughed. "Had I been in your place I would
not have halted on this occasion. You certainly can outsail any airship
I have ever seen operated."

Mr. Ford seemed quite satisfied that our friends were law-abiding and
he ascended to his waiting craft in a few moments; and the _Snowbird_
started onward again through the starlight.

But the warning of the special agent had impressed the boys as well
as the professor. Andy Sudds refused to lie down again, although Jack
and Mark continued to operate the flying machine. The old hunter sat
with a rifle in his hand for the rest of the night. But the professor
went to bed.

An hour after midnight a cloud from the west completely masked the
moon and the whole heavens became misty. This cloud brought both wind
and rain, and low upon its edge the lightning played fitfully.

"There will be a heavy tempest about dawn," Andy promised the boys.
"I have seen a thunderstorm gather like this before." "But not while
you were in a flying machine," chuckled Jack.

"No, sir. But on a mountain top a tempest looks much the same."

Mark, while at the controls, had scaled the machine down the air-ways
until they were not more than fifteen hundred feet from the earth. But
the boys decided to let the storm gather beneath them, and so shot the
_Snowbird_ up again until the indicator registered three thousand feet.

Near the earth it must have been very warm and sultry; but up here it
was down to freezing, and the party were all warmly dressed. The clouds
soon hid the whole earth from them and the great flying machine traveled
in space, with the star-lit heavens above and the rolling mass of
vapor, streaked now and then with lightning flashes, beneath.

The deafening roll of the thunder awoke Washington White from a short
nap, and the darkey was not at all sure that he was safe from the
lightning bolts.

"How d'I know dem bolts won't fly disher way?" he demanded of the boys
when they tried to reassure him.

"Why, the earth attracts the electric bolt, and that attraction is
much stronger than any the _Snowbird_ may have for the electricity
in the clouds," Mark told him. "I don't know erbout dat," grumbled
Wash. "An' if jest one o' dem crazy lightning bolts should take it
into its haid ter segastuate eround disher flying merchine--biff! bang!
dat would be erbout all. Dere would be a big bunch o' crape hung on
Wash White's do', suah as you is bawn, boy!"

But although the roar of the thunder and whining of the wind nearly
drowned other sounds in and about the flying machine, save for a
freshening of the gale the _Snowbird_ was at first but little
disturbed by the tempest which raged with such fury a thousand feet
below.

Suddenly Mark caught sight of something moving across the red streak
in the eastern sky--the light that warned them of the approach of the
sun.

"What is that--a huge bird?" he demanded of Andy Sudds, pointing this
moving figure out to the hunter.

Andy's eyes were very keen, for he was used to sighting along a rifle
and gazing over long distances in search of game. But he, too, thought
the object must be a bird.

"I declare, I didn't know birds flew so high," said Mark. "It must be
an eagle. No other fowl could fly so high."

"'Nless it were Buttsy," remarked Washington, _sotto voce_. The
professor was still asleep and the boys paid little attention to the
flying object for some time. It was coming up behind the _Snowbird_, and
they had no occasion to look behind.

The sun arose, angry and red, while the thunder continued to roll below
them, and the crackling of the electric flashes was like minute guns.
The _Snowbird_ was winging its way along at about seventy-five
miles per hour. Wash had gone into the covered galley to prepare
breakfast. Jack was still in the operator's seat.

Suddenly Andy Sudds uttered a loud shout. A huge shadow was thrown
athwart the flying _Snowbird_. Some object was hovering over them
and they cast their eyes upward, at Andy's cry, to see another aeroplane
swooping down directly upon them.

It was not the machine manned by Secret Service Agent Ford and his
companion, but a much heavier and more rapid vehicle. And until its
shadow fell across the _Snowbird_, the boys had had no warning of its
approach.

At first glance it was apparent that the strange aircraft intended
mischief. It was shooting down from a higher level, its sharp bow aimed
directly for the _Snowbird_. Jack pushed over the switch and raised the
bow of their own ship. She leaped forward and began to slant upward,
too.

But instantly the course of the stranger was deflected to meet this
change in the movement of the _Snowbird_. She had the advantage of the
boys' craft, too. She evidently proposed to retain her overhead
position, and as she shot in closer, Jack was constrained to descend
again to escape collision with her.

"Keep away!" he shouted through the transmitter, and at his cry, and
the bustle about him, the professor was awakened.

But no reply came from the strange aeroplane, although they could see
several figures moving upon her. It swooped down upon them, and Jack
had to deflect his planes again and slant downward toward the
storm-cloud.

And then he saw the other peril. He was between two great dangers. If
the reckless aviator tried to ram him from above, his only escape was
by plunging through the tempest which raged just below them.

Down came the stranger upon the _Snowbird_ again. She surely meant
them ill--she was bent on their destruction. And meanwhile the thunder
roared below and the crackling of the lightning was almost incessant.

Jack Darrow had to decide quickly--and he must determine which of the
two risks to take.




CHAPTER VI

ON THE WINGS OF THE WIND

Speedy as the _Snowbird_ was, she could not get out from under the
shadow of the strange aeroplane. That was driven at a sharp angle down
upon the boys' flying machine, and it seemed to all those in the lower
'plane that a collision was imminent.

The thunder fairly deafened them all. Around them rolled the mists and
the wind shrieked through the stays of the aeroplane and shook the
structure like a dog worrying a bone.

Down they fell, and in an instant the rushing rain, emptied in a torrent
from the clouds, swept about them, saturating their garments and beating
the flying machine itself toward the distant earth.

During the next few moments Jack Darrow, Mark Sampson, and their
companions were in as grave peril as had ever threatened them in their
eventful lives.

The torrents of water all but beat the flying machine to the earth--and
to be dashed down from such a height spelled death to all and
destruction to the aeroplane.

Jack, however, had been taught to keep cool in moments of danger, and
he realized that their lives depended entirely upon his handling of
the great machine. They had descended below the level of the storm-cloud
at a most inopportune moment. They were caught in the midst of a
veritable cloudburst.

Shaken desperately by the wind, and beaten upon by tons upon tons of
water, it was a wonder that the great planes, or wings, of the flying
machine were not torn away. All Jack could do was to guide her the
best he could, and all his companions could do was to cling to a slender
hope and endure the lashing of the gale.

But Jack Darrow did not propose to be cast to the ground--and the
flying machine and his friends with him--without some further attempt
to avert such a catastrophe.

After the first breath-taking rush of the storm he diverted the course
of the machine again upward. He could scarcely see, the driving rain
was so blinding; nor could he observe the indicators before him with
any clearness. But he was quite sure that the enemy that had driven
him down into the storm-cloud could see the _Snowbird_ no better than he
could see that strange aeroplane that had threatened to collide with
them.

So he shot the _Snowbird_ upward again at a long slant, and put on all
the power of the engine to drive her onward. The flying machine shook
and throbbed in every part. The power of the engines would have driven
her, under other and more favorable conditions, at more than one hundred
miles an hour--possibly a hundred and twenty-five.

Jack himself was almost blinded and deafened. He was strapped to his
seat, so could give both hands to the work of manipulating the levers.
He brought the _Snowbird_ through the cloud and--with startling
suddenness--they shot out of the mass of rolling moisture and into the
sunlight of the dawn. But they were far off their course.

The change from the chaos of the storm-cloud to the almost perfect
calm of the upper ether was so great that it was almost stunning. For
a minute none of the five spoke a word.

Then it was Mark who shouted:

"There's that 'plane again, Jack I Look out for her!"

The enemy had missed them. She was some miles away, and although still
on a level above, at the pace the _Snowbird_ was now traveling it would
take a fast flying machine indeed to overtake her.

The pursuit of the enemy (which they all believed to be the smuggler,
manned by Bainbridge and his friends) was not kept up for long. By
eight o'clock the _Snowbird_ had dropped the other machine below
the horizon, and the swift pace at which they had driven the _Snowbird_
was rapidly bringing them once more toward Canada.

The storm had broken, but the clouds still hovered below them. They
descended about noon, passing harmlessly through the vapor which had
so long hidden the earth from them, and so came to within a thousand
feet of the ground, where they swung along at fair speed for some
hours.

They crossed the line, but did not descend until near St. Thomas. They
went out of their way a good bit to land near this town on the shore
of the St. Lawrence, for the flying machine had been so shaken in its
struggle with the thunderstorm that some repairs were needed.

They descended in a field on the edge of the town, gave the farmer who
owned the place a five-dollar bill to allow the machine to stand on
his land, and then engaged him to drive Professor Henderson and the
boys into town.

While the professor saw the authorities and obtained a legal document
recommending the exploring party to the good offices of all
British-Canadian officers whom they might meet, the boys went to a
machine shop to have a rod repaired. The party took supper with the
farmer, and an hour later the flying machine being pronounced by both
Mark and Jack in perfect order, they got off amid the cheers of the
onlookers, whose numbers were by that time swelled to almost five
hundred persons.

It was long after dark and the moon had not risen. It was a cloudless
night, however, and as the flying machine soared heavenward the voyagers
could look deep into the seeming black-velvet of the skies, picked out
by the innumerable sparkling stars, and thought they had never seen
so wonderful or beautiful a sight.

As they cast their gaze downward, too, they beheld the torches at the
Canadian farm rapidly receding, and then, in a few minutes, they were
flying over St. Thomas, where the lights twinkled, too. Then they shot
over the broad, island-dotted bosom of the St. Lawrence River, and so
on across country and town toward the vast Canadian wilderness.

The professor and Andy had the watch and Jack and Mark went to bed.
The excitement of the previous twenty-four hours had kept the boys up;
but once they closed their eyes, they slept like logs all night. Andy
Sudds relieved the professor now and then in the operator's seat, and
they did not call the boys until Washington White made breakfast at
daybreak. By that time the _Snowbird_ had passed Lake St. John, far to
the north and east, and was heading for Hudson Bay. The earth below them
was a checker-board of forest and field, with here and there a ribbon of
river, and occasionally a group of farmsteads, or a small town. Suddenly
they were forced down, and had to remain many hours for repair work
before ascending again.

The ranges of hills--some of them dignified enough to be termed
"mountains"--which they crossed necessitated their flying high. They
were generally at an altitude of two thousand feet and the rarefied
atmosphere so far above the earth was cool, anyway. Since leaving St.
Thomas, on the bank of the St. Lawrence, they had averaged eighty miles
an hour, and before moonrise they were cognizant of the fact that they
were approaching a great sheet of water.

"St. James Bay, the lower part of Hudson Bay," Professor Henderson
explained.

Soon the moonlight shimmered upon the waves beneath them. Jack, who
was guiding the craft, deflected the wings and they slid down the
airways toward the water. They traveled all night over this great
inland sea, at times so close to the surface that the leaping waves
sprinkled them with their spray--for there was a stiff breeze.

A gale broke in earnest over the Hudson Bay territory that day, and
despite the efforts of the voyagers they could not rise in the
_Snowbird_ above the tempest. Had there been solid ground beneath
them they could easily have descended and remained upon terra firma
until the storm was past.

This gale was favorable to their course, but it gripped them in its
giant grasp and hurled them on into the northwest at a speed that
imperiled the safety of the flying machine each moment. There was no
sleep for any of the party now, and Washington White came pretty near
(as Jack said) "making good his name in his face"--for if ever a darkey
of Wash's ebony complexion turned pale, the professor's servant did
so at this juncture.

On and on they were driven hour after hour. Scarcely a word was spoken
the entire time. There was no cessation of the gale. The great body
of water was passed and they knew that there was land beneath them
again. But each time they tried to descend they found the storm near
the earth-crust far heavier than at the upper levels.

To descend through the belt of the storm might partially wreck their
flying machine and the professor knew, by the study of his recording
instruments, that they were passing over an utter wilderness in which
no help could be obtained and from which, should they be wrecked, they
could not escape before the rigorous Arctic winter set in.

Hour after hour they drove on. The speed of the _Snowbird_ at times,
when driven by the full force of the gale, had mounted to one hundred
thirty miles an hour.

Great Slave Lake was far south of their route; yet the professor told
them that, had it been clear, at the altitude they traveled, they could
have seen and marked this great body of water.

They actually crossed the Great Bear Lake and the Mackenzie River,
however, and saw the ragged peaks of the Rocky Mountains, which here
almost touch the shores of the Arctic Sea. Blown on and on, with little
diminution of speed, it was not many hours before the _Snowbird_ was
flying over Alaskan wilds. The flying machine had kept closely to the
course the professor had laid out for her when they left Maine. They
were still headed for the slopes of the Endicott Range and the native
town of Aleukan.

The question paramount in all their minds, however, was this: Would
they reach their destination in safety?




CHAPTER VII

DROPPED FROM THE SKY


A thick mantle of fog masked the heavens; but beneath this the
wind--traveling at great velocity--drove the ragged clouds like
frightened sheep across the pastures of the firmament.

The moon and stars gave so little light that the earth seemed but a
vague and shadowy mass--nothing more. The wind shrieked in many voices,
as though a troop of goblins raced through the air, or rode the
strangely formed and hurrying clouds.

Driven on with the tumbling banks of vapor, as vaguely outlined in the
gloom as the clouds themselves, was the great flying machine, which
the wind buffeted and harried about as though against it Old Boreas
had some special spite.

Jack was in the operator's seat; but there was little to do but hang
on to the steering wheel. The wind blew them as it listed.

"I don't well see how anybody can sleep in this horrid storm,"
complained Mark Sampson. "And the machine rocks so--ugh! I'm as sick
as though we were at sea." "And we are pretty completely 'at sea,'"
chuckled the more volatile Jack. "I hope the professor knows where we
are. _I_ don't!"

"And I don't see how he can tell," grumbled his chum.

"Pluck up your spirits, old man!" returned the older lad, but Mark
interrupted him, still crossly:

"I hope I am as courageous as the next. We've done some funny stunts
together, Jack Darrow--you and I and the old professor. But this caps
them all, I declare. It's a mystery to me how Mr. Henderson and Andy
Sudds can remain asleep."

"Well, they are both tired out, I reckon. They had a long watch--and
_we_ slept, you know."

"That was a long time ago," grunted Mark,

"It's pretty tough, I admit," said Jack, when Washington White broke
in with:

"Hi, yi! Whuffo' you boys be sech cowards? Is _I_ skeert? Huh!"

"You bet you're scared," returned Jack, emphatically. "When we got
caught in that flaw yesterday afternoon he wanted to jump out; didn't
he, Mark?"

"Wash certainly tried to climb out," rejoined Mark.
"Well, den! dat showed I warn't no coward," crowed the black man,
though in a very shaky voice. "If I'd been scart', would I really have
wanted ter jump? It was a might long way to de groun' right den, I
guess."

Suddenly the Shanghai crowed loudly.
"Tell yo' what!" cried the black man, scratching his head. "Dat rooster
done crow fo' company."

"Company!" gasped Mark. "What does he think he hears up here--angels'
wings? We're about as near being in the company of the celestial hosts
as we'll ever be and remain alive, I reckon."

"No, sah!" retorted Washington. "Dat Shanghai done know dat we is near
some oder fow-el----"

"Up here in the air, Wash?" cried Jack.

"Dunno whar dey is," said the darkey, doggedly. "Dar he crows ergin!
Dar is suttenly critters ob his kind nearby--yes--sah!"

It may have been the Shanghai's raucous tone that aroused Andy. The
old hunter suddenly appeared on the platform behind the operator's
seat, where the boys and Wash were clinging, and Andy brought his rifle
with him.

"Hullo!" he said. "Is the watch called?"

"I'm sorry if we awoke you, Andy," Jack said. "There is nothing for you
to do."

"Nothing to shoot at; eh?" said the old hunter. "I reckon I ain't of
much use in a flying machine, anyway. Sort of 'up in the air'; ain't
I?"

"That's where we all are," complained Mark. "And I, for one, wish we
were down again."

"Guess we're all with you in that wish, old man," agreed Jack.

As he spoke, the wind-blown figure of the professor hove into view
from the small, sheltered cabin. He glanced at the various indicators
and the compass in front of Jack.

"We are all in safety yet; are we, boys?" he queried.

"If you can call being driven helplessly before such a gale and about
a mile above the earth _safe_," retorted Mark.

"Surely not as high as that," exclaimed Professor Henderson. He examined
the instruments again, and said, quickly: "We are descending! How is
that, Jack?"

"Not with my knowledge, sir," returned the boy aviator. "I think we
have remained on the thousand-foot level since crossing the Rocky
Mountains."

"I believe you have been faithful, my boy," returned the professor,
quickly. "But the earth is certainly less than three hundred feet below
us--ah! see that? The indicator registers 250 feet. Now 240!" "We are
falling!" cried Mark.

"No!" said the professor. "The earth is rising. We are being blown
against the mountainside. We must be within a few hundred miles, at
least, of our destination. Those are the Endicott Mountains yonder,"
and he waved a hand at the darkness to the south of them.

"Hark!" cried Andy Sudds, suddenly.

There was a momentary lull in the wind. From below came the broken
crowing of a cock in answer to the Shanghai's challenge. Then a dog
barked.

"There's a farmhouse down there," said the hunter.

"What did I tell yo'?" cried Washington White. "Dat Buttsy knows his
business, all right!"

"We must descend," commanded the professor. "Deflect the planes, Jack.
Watch the indicator. Reduce the speed. Let us float down as easily as
possible."

But, wrestling as the flying machine was with the wind, she could not
descend easily. She scaled earthward with fearful velocity. The
irrepressible Jack yelled:

"Go-ing down! We're going to bump hard in a minute!"

The aged professor and Andy Sudds showed no perturbation. Jack and
Mark had been through so many wonderful experiences with the professor,
Andy, and the negro, that they were not likely to be panic-stricken. Yet
all realized that death was imminent.

The finger on the dial showed a hundred feet from earth, and still
they descended. Fifty feet!

"Hold hard!" commanded the professor. "We'll be down in a minute."

There seemed to be a break in the hurrying clouds. There was light in
the sky--the twilight of the Long Day, for they were far beyond the
Arctic Circle.

Looking down they could dimly see objects on the earth--trees, a house
of some kind--several houses, in fact.

And then suddenly there was added to their perils an unlooked-for
danger. Out of the murk which covered the earth below the flying machine
sprang a point of light and the explosion of a gun echoed in the
aviators' ears.

A rifle bullet tore right through to the inside and passed between the
professor and Andy Sudds. There were men with firearms below, and they
were firing point blank at the flying machine.




CHAPTER VIII

PHINEAS ROEBACH, OIL HUNTER


As has been said, the boys and their older companions had been in many
perilous situations; but no adventure promised to end more tragically
than this flight of the huge airship. The descent of the _Snowbird_,
punctuated by the rifle shot below, seemed likely to be fatal to them
all.

"What kind of people can they be?" gasped Mark. "They are trying to
shoot us."

"Give me my rifle! I'll show 'em!" exclaimed the old hunter.

"You'll do nothing of the kind, Andy," commanded Professor Henderson.
"Do not make a bad matter worse by yielding to your passions."

A second shot was fired by those upon the ground; but the bullet went
wide of the mark. Jack shouted:

"We are drawing away from them. Look out! we all but hit that tree!"

"Steady, Jack," admonished the professor. "We'll be down in a minute,
my lads. Cling to anything handy. She will bounce some, but I believe
we shall not be injured." The calmness of the aged scientist would
have shamed the others into some semblance of order, were it needed;
but both the boys were courageous, Andy Sudds did not know fear, and
if Washington White was in a panic of terror, he did not get in the
way of the others to hamper their movements.

The _Snowbird_ was fluttering over the ground like a wounded bird,
while so black were their surroundings that none of the party could
distinguish anything of nearby objects. The clouds had broken but
little, and only for a moment.

"She's down!" suddenly shouted Mark Sampson, and the flying machine
jounced on its rubber-tired wheels, and then struck the ground again
almost immediately.

Mark leaped down on one side and Andy Sudds on the other. Instantly,
relieved of their weight, the flying machine was carried on again and
Mark and Andy were thrown to the ground.

Perhaps that was well, for several rifles were again fired behind them
and they heard the bullets whistle above their heads.

"Low bridge, Mark!" cried the old hunter, meaning for the boy to keep
close to the earth. "I've got my gun."

"Don't fire on them, Andy," responded young Sampson, remembering the
professor's warning. "We don't know who they are or what they mean by
their actions."

"We don't want to be shot down without making any fight; do we?" cried
Andy.

"Let us escape without a fight if possible," urged the cautious youth,
feeling sure that Professor Henderson would approve of this advice.

But the pounding of many feet approaching over the rising
ground--evidently, as Mr. Henderson had said, the foothills of the
mountain range--warned Mark and the hunter to keep still. In the partial
light they saw a group of tall men, all armed, running past them in
the direction the wounded _Snowbird_ had been blown.

"Hush!" whispered Andy. "Indians!"

Mark had seen their long hair and beardless faces, and believed the
hunter was right. The enemy were dressed in clothing of skins and were
without hats. Yet Mark knew that the Indians of Alaska were much
different from the savages of the western territories of the United
States. He did not believe these Alaskan aborigines would attack white
men.

It was growing lighter about them every moment. The lad and the tall
hunter arose and stood listening for a further alarm--or for some cry
from their comrades in the flying machine.

As the light increased they saw that they were in a grove of huge
trees. Somehow the _Snowbird_ had fluttered away through these forest
monarchs and was now out of sight.

"I wonder what's happened to them?" gasped Mark.

"Them Indians haven't attacked yet," growled Andy Sudds. "If they begin
to shoot we'll know which way to go, and we'll foller them."

But the first sound they heard came from behind them. There was the
crash of heavy footsteps and a big man suddenly came panting up the
slope. Cold as it was, his shirt was open at the neck, he was
bare-headed, and he had not stopped to pull on his boots when he arose
from his bed. In his right hand he carried a battered "fish-horn," and
without seeing Mark and Andy he stopped and put this instrument to his
lips, blowing a blast that made his eyes bulge and his cheeks turn
purple.

"Hold on, Mister!" ejaculated the hunter. "What you got to sell? Or
be you callin' the cows?"

"Mercy on me!" cried the fat man, and in a high, squeaky voice that
seemed to be a misfit for his huge body. "I am sure I'm glad to meet
you. You must have just arrived," and he squinted at the strangely
clad hunter and his boy companion, for Mark wore a helmet with ear-tabs.

"We just landed, that's sure," admitted Andy. "From an airship, I
fancy," exclaimed the other. "That is what is the matter with my Aleuts,
then. They never have seen such a thing as an airship, I'll be bound.
Have they hurt any of your party?"

"I don't know," Mark said, hastily. "If you are in command of those
Indians, call them off, please. There are three of our party somewhere
with the flying machine, and the Indians have been shooting at them."

"I'll try it," declared the man, instantly. "I can usually call them
together with this horn," and he raised it to his lips again and blew
another mighty blast.

"I have had this bunch of Aleuts six months," he explained, when he
got his breath again. "They are good workers, but as superstitious as
you can imagine. They are particularly shaky just now, for a number
of queer things have happened lately in these parts. There is a volcano
somewhere in action--we had a storm of ashes a week ago. And night
before last there was a positive earth-shock."

"You seem like a pretty intelligent man," grunted Andy Sudds, in his
blunt way. "What are you doing up here in this heaven-forsaken country?"

"Why, I am an oil hunter," said the fat man, simply. "A _what_?"
repeated Andy and Mark together.

"Oil hunter. My name is Phineas Roebach, and I am in the employ of the
Universal Oil Company. I am here--as I have been in many lands--boring
for petroleum. You understand that my mission is semi-secret. If we
find oil here we shall obtain a grant from the Government, or something
like that."

Just at that moment Mark Sampson was not particularly interested in
the odd-looking Mr. Roebach or his business.

"Blow your horn again, sir," he begged. "Call off your Indians. They
may shoot our friends."

"If your party is all dressed as peculiarly as yourself, young sir,"
said Phineas Roebach, "my Aleuts could scarcely be blamed for taking
a pot shot at them."

Then he blew the horn mightily for the third time.




CHAPTER IX

THE EARTHQUAKE


The long twilight which preceded full day had now grown so strong as
to reveal matters more plainly about the spot where Mark and Andy Sudds
had disembarked from the flying machine. They soon saw several objects
running through the grove toward them, and these objects proved to be
the returning Indians.

There were half a dozen of them, and they were all armed with rifles.
The moment they beheld the old hunter and the youth, with Phineas
Roebach, they gave every indication of shooting, for they stopped and
raised their rifles, pointing them at Mark and Andy.

Mr. Roebach sprang between his Aleuts and his visitors and began to
harangue them angrily in their own harsh dialect. However, his huge
body so entirely sheltered Mark and Andy that neither was much terrified
by the Indians. Besides, the Maine hunter advanced his own rifle and
calculated he could do considerable execution with it while the red
men were hesitating.

"They believed you all spirits of the air," said the oil man, turning
finally to speak to his new friends. "They were much frightened."

"Ask them for news of Professor Henderson and the others," begged the
anxious Mark.

"They chased the crippled flying machine for some distance, but did
not find it. My horn bade them return," replied Mr. Roebach.

Even as they started to walk with the oil man and his sullen Indians
toward various shacks which they saw through the trees, and lower on
the mountain side, they heard a hail and looked up to see Professor
Henderson, Jack Darrow, and the negro, Washington White, descending
the mountain in their rear.

"This is your party; is it?" demanded Mr. Roebach.

"Yes, sir," said Mark.

"Bring them directly to my cabin. The Aleuts will not hurt you, now
that they know we are friends."

He hurried away, but Andy handled his rifle very suggestively and kept
both eyes on the red men. The latter, however, kept to themselves and
only stared at the crew of the _Snowbird_ with great curiosity.

"Hurrah!" quoth Jack, when in earshot. "Here they are, safe and sound,
Professor!"

"We have been just as afraid that something bad was happening to you,"
Mark said, quickly. "Where's the machine?" "Your beautiful 'plane is
badly wrecked, Mark, my boy," said Professor Henderson. "But I believe
we shall be able to repair it in time. We are not, however, I feel
sure, far from Aleukan. Do those men speak English?"

"Not much of it, I reckon, Professor," said Andy Sudds. "But they have
got mighty nasty dispositions. If it wasn't for the fat man I reckon
they would jump on us."

"He told us to follow along to his cabin," Mark proposed. "I do not
think these Indians will touch us."

"They'd better think twice about it," said the belligerent Andy, pushing
in between the professor and the Aleuts, as the whole party descended
the mountain side toward the place where the oil man had pitched his
camp.

As they proceeded the light grew and the newcomers to Alaska identified
objects about them more clearly. Near at hand was the framework of a
boring machine, or derrick. The professor began to notice a deposit
of ash that lay thickly on the ground in sheltered places.

"How remarkable--how very remarkable!" he ejaculated. "One would think
there was a volcano in action very near here."

Mark repeated what Phineas Roebach had said about the 'quake and the
storm of ashes. The professor began to rub his hands together and his
eyes twinkled. "I declare! I declare!" he repeated. "A seismic
disturbance in this locality? Ah! our visit to Alaska for Dr. Todd may
repay us nobly indeed."

Washington White's eyes opened very wide and he demanded:

"What's disher t'ing yo' calls 'sezmik', Professor Henderson? I suah
don't understand no sech langwidge."

"He means an earthquake, Wash," said Jack, as the professor paid no
attention to the darkey's question.

"Gollyation! is we goin' ter collek a _nearthquake_ along wid dat
chrisomela-bypunktater plant? And what good's a nearthquake w'en you
got him?"

This unanswerable question of the darkey's fell flat, for the party
just then reached the huge, two-roomed log cabin in which Phineas
Roebach made his headquarters. The "oil hunter," as he called himself,
appeared in a costume more fitted to the rigor of the weather.

"Come right in, gentlemen," was his cordial cry. "I have an Indian
woman here who can cook almost as well as white folks. At any rate,
she can make coffee and fry bacon. This is Professor Henderson? Glad
to meet you, sir," and so went on, being introduced to the whole party.

The professor immediately began to question the oil hunter regarding
the exact situation of his camp and learned that they were but a hundred
and fifty miles from Aleukan. Phineas Roebach had a plentiful supply
of dogs and sleds, too, with a goodly store of provisions. If worse
came to worst and the flying machine could not be at once prepared,
Mr. Roebach could supply the party with transportation to the Indian
settlement where Professor Henderson would meet his own supplies from
Coldfoot and there could obtain other dogs and sleds to go on to the
valley where the _Chrysothele-Byzantium_ was supposed to flourish.

"And the road from here to Aleukan is a good one at this season of the
year. More than half the way you travel over a glacier, and as the
icefield has not been in motion for ages, it makes a fine highroad,"
the oil hunter declared.

They were discussing these matters during breakfast, and everybody was
feeling particularly thankful over the safe descent of the aeroplane,
when they were startled by a sudden, jarring shock. The cabin rocked
and the boys, at least, felt a qualmishness in the pit of the stomach
that forbade further eating.

"What's that?" demanded Andy Sudds.

Washington White dropped the plate he was carrying to the table and
ran to the door. Before he could open it, the door was broken in by
the Indians, who came pouring in, loudly jabbering in their native
tongue.

"A 'quake, sure enough!" ejaculated Phineas Roebach, getting quickly on
his feet.

As he spoke, there was a repetition of the shock, only greatly
increased. The oil hunter was thrown to the floor, as was everybody
else in the house who was not seated. The roof of the cabin creaked
and threatened to descend upon their heads.

The Indians, uttering cries of alarm, scrambled out of the cabin faster
than they came in. But they had nothing on Washington White _there_. He
was the first person to get through the door.

The white people followed the others in quick time. Jack and Mark felt
that if the cabin was going to fall, the open air was the safer place.
Here, however, it seemed that they could not keep their feet. They
reeled about like drunken men, and the forest trees bent and writhed
as though an invisible wind tore at them, whereas the fact was that
the wind had fallen and it was a dead calm.

The air about them seemed to rock with the shock, there was a dull
roaring sound which hummed continually in their ears, and the vibrations
of the earth continued. They were indeed experiencing a most serious
earthquake.




CHAPTER X

THE BLACK DAY


The 'quake was over in a very few moments; the Indians and Washington
White, however, cowered upon the ground for some time, crying out their
fear of what they considered supernatural phenomena. Jack Darrow and
Mark Sampson were not frightened in the same way as the darkey and the
Aleuts; nevertheless they were much shaken.

Professor Henderson, however, displayed naught but the keenest interest
in the scientific side of the happening. He clambered to his feet the
moment he could stand, and observed:

"A most pronounced seismic disturbance--I should say earthquake."

"I should say it was pronounced!" grunted Phineas Roebach. Being a fat
man, he had fallen heavily. He was now rubbing himself tenderly where
he had been bruised upon the hard ground. "This shock beats the one
we had the other day."

"Not a shock, my dear sir," said Professor Henderson, quickly. "An
earthquake is not, strictly speaking, a shock at all. Within the past
twenty years science has learned to measure and to study earthquakes.
If we have learned nothing else, we have learned that an earthquake
is _not_ a shock."

"It tumbled us about a whole lot, then, Professor," said Jack Darrow.
"What would you call it, if not a shock?"

The phenomena being over for the time--as all could see--they returned
to the cabin to complete their meal. Roebach had said something soothing
to his Indians, but they, like Washington White, preferred remaining
in the open. Wash sat down beside the cage of his pet rooster, and
declared to the boys when they urged him to come in again:

"No, sah! I ain't hongry, nohow. An' w'edder de professor am right dat
dese yer earthquakes ain't shockin', I kin tell yo' right now dat it
shocked _me_! Nor I ain't gwine ter gib it no secon' chance ter tumble
dat ruff down on ma haid--no, sah!"

Once more at the breakfast table, with the affrighted Indian squaw
waiting upon them, the professor took up the topic of earthquakes
again, in answer to Jack's observation.

"From the time of the ancients to the middle of the last century the
phenomena of earthquakes were observed and described upon countless
occasions," he said. "Yet even Humboldt's 'Cosmos', published as late
as 1844, which summarized the then existing knowledge on the subject,
did not suggest that earthquakes should be studied like other mechanical
motions.

"The effects of the great Neapolitan earthquake of 1857 were so studied
by Mr. Robert Mallet," continued the professor. "He disabused his mind
of all superstition, threw away all the past mysteries, and attacked
the problem from its mechanical side only. He believed that an
earthquake was a series of shocks, or blows; but what he learned led
other and later students to the discovery that an earthquake is not
made up of blows at all."

"That's all very well to say," grumbled Mr. Roebach. "I'm pretty solid
on my feet; but what was it but a shock that threw me down? Tell me
that, sir!"

"Very easily explained," said the scientist, smiling. "Which will the
quicker take you off your feet--a blow from, say, Jack's fist, or your
stepping inadvertently upon a piece of glare ice? The ice, because it
affords you so insecure a footing, is likely to throw you easier than
a pretty solid blow; eh?"

"True enough," admitted the oil hunter, smiling at Jack. "Although
Darrow looks to be a pretty husky youngster." "My point is this,"
pursued the professor. "An earthquake is a continuous series of
intricate twistings and oscillations in all possible directions, up
and down, east and west, north and south, of the greatest irregularity
both in intensity and direction. This writhing of the earth--of the
very foundations of the ground we walk on--caused our recent overthrow,"
concluded Mr. Henderson.

But the two boys were much more interested in the possibility of there
being an active volcano in the neighborhood. The volcanic ash which
covered the leaves and grass like road-dust assured them all that some
huge "blow-hole" of the earth was near.

"I wasn't looking for no such things as volcanoes," said Andy Sudds,
seriously, "when I shipped for this voyage. I reckoned volcanoes blowed
mostly in the tropics."

"Alaska is a mighty field of active volcanoes," declared Professor
Henderson. "But they have been mostly active on the Pacific coast, and
among the islands which form a barrier between that ocean and Bering
Sea. Islands have been thrown up, while others have sunk there because
of volcanic disturbances, within the last few years."

"And I presume the earthquake and the volcanic eruption are closely
connected?" suggested Mark.

"We may safely believe that," agreed the professor. "I am sorry my
instruments are not at hand. I sincerely hope none was damaged when
the _Snowbird_ made such a bad landing."

"And I'd like to give the machine an overhauling at once to see just
how badly she's damaged," Jack Darrow said, hastily. "What do you say,
Mark?"

"I'm with you," returned his chum. "Can't we take Andy and Wash, Mr.
Henderson, and go right up to that hollow and see what needs to be
done to the flying machine? Perhaps we can get off for Aleukan by
to-morrow if we hustle."

"If you boys think you can repair the damage done the machine in so
short a time," agreed the professor, doubtfully. "But you know we must
at least arrive at Aleukan in time to meet the train from Coldfoot.
If the _Snowbird_ cannot be launched again, we will have to see
if our good friend here, Mr. Roebach, can fit us out with dogs and
men."

"That I'll do to the best of my ability," said the oil man, rising.
"But I'd better get out now and set my men to work. I am boring in a
new place this week, and it looks promising. We are down a hundred and
twenty feet already." They put on their outer garments and left the
cabin. Although this was summer weather, there was a sting of frost
in the air even as it neared mid-forenoon. But the sun was strangely
overcast, and that might account for the drop in temperature.

"Disher day fo'git ter grow," complained Washington, rolling his eyes
until, as Jack suggested, they could see only the whites of them in
the dark, and the gleam of his teeth. "'Nstead o' bein' as sunshiny
as it doughter be arter dat storm, it's suah growin' night fast! 'Taint
a full-grown day, nohow!"

"Sort of stunted; is it, Wash?" chuckled Jack.

Andy Sudds here spoke decisively:

"I been tryin' to make out what it was, like feathers, a-touchin' my
face. But it ain't snow. _It's ashes_!"

"Volcanic dust!" cried Mark.

"That volcano must be active again. That's what brought about the
earthquake," said Jack. "And the darkness. What we thought was a fog
over the sun must be a cloud of ashes."

"This ain't no place for us," declared Andy. "I wish we were back at
that man's house."

"Or could find the _Snowbird_ pretty soon," added Mark.

"We're going right for it--I'm sure of that," said Jack, cheerfully.
And scarcely had he spoken when the four suddenly clung to each other,
rocking on their feet! Washington White shrieked aloud, fell upon his
knees, and it took but little to drag the boys and Andy Sudds with him.

"The whole world is done rockin' ergain!" wailed the darkey. "Dis is
de end ob de finish!"

The vibrations of the ground grew in strength. The air about them
seemed to shake. The darkness was so intense that Jack, holding a
shaking hand before his face, could not distinguish its outline. And
all the time the volcanic ash drifted down through the writhing
tree-tops, while the boys and their companions were unable to stand
erect.




CHAPTER XI

THE WONDERFUL LEAP


Unlike the former trembling of the earth, this experience gave no
immediate promise of cessation. The world rocked on in awful throes--as
though it really was, as the black man feared, the end of all material
things. Jack and Mark rolled upon the ground in the grove of huge
trees, clinging to each other's hands, but unable to rise, or to find
their two comrades.

A rising thunder of sound accompanied this manifestation, too. And,
after some stricken minutes, the boys realized that it was thunder.

With the earthquake and the storm of volcanic ashes, came an electric
disturbance of the atmosphere, the like of which neither of the boys
had ever dreamed. They had felt the "itch" of the electric current
just before the 'quake. Now the hair on their heads rose stiffly like
that on the back of an angry cat, and when Jack and Mark chanced to
separate for a moment, and each put out their hands to seize the other,
the darkness under the trees was vividly shot through for an instant
with the sparks which flew from their fingers.

Washington White began to bawl terrifically at this display of
"fireworks," as he called it.

His lamentations were well nigh drowned by the rolling thunder. This
latter did not sound in ordinary explosions, or "claps," but traveled
in rapidly repeated echoes across the skies. The thick cloud of ashes
which obscured the sun and the whole sky was cut through occasionally
by a sword of lightning; but mostly the electricity showed itself in
a recurrent, throbbing glow upon the northern horizon, not unlike some
manifestations of the Aurora Borealis.

But even this uncertain--almost terrifying--light was of aid to the
boys; Jack, at least, remembered very clearly the way to the wrecked
flying machine, and of course the old hunter was not likely to lose
his way in as black a night as ever was made.

They struggled on between the intervals of pitch darkness, for the
trembling of the earth had again ceased. The visitation had been much
heavier than they had previously suffered.

"The best thing we can do," muttered Mark in Jack's ear, "is to fix
up the _Snowbird_ and beat it away from here just as fast as we
can. This is altogether too strenuous a place for us, believe me!" "If
we only _can_!" responded Jack, secretly as worried as his chum.
"This is a pretty fierce proposition, Mark. Just think of our bonny
_Snowbird_ wrecked on her first voyage! It's mighty hard; eh, chum?"

But the duty before the two boys just then was to find the wrecked
'plane and see what could be done with it. The thunder continued to
mutter and the intermittent flashes of electricity helped them somewhat
in finding the way to the spot where the _Snowbird_ had made her
final landing. But the fall of volcanic ash continued and the darkness,
between the lightning flashes, remained as smothering as before.

They reached the spot, however--seemingly a small plateau on which the
huge trees did not encroach, giving them plenty of space for a flight
if they were fortunate enough to get the _Snowbird_ in condition
for such an attempt.

There were both electric lamps and lanterns in the machine and Mark
sent Washington White to light every one while he and Jack went over
the wrenched mechanism. Andy Sudds stood guard with his rifle, or ready
to lend a hand should the boys need him.

The storm in the clutch of which the flying machine had traveled so
many hundred miles had wrenched her not a little. And the two landings
she had made on the mountainside had done her no particular good. There
was a broken plane, any number of wires to splice, and bent rods
innumerable.

These were the more apparent injuries. But the more delicate machinery
of the _Snowbird_ required a thorough overhauling. It was absolutely
necessary for them to have the use of a forge, and Jack had already
learned that such an article was among the oil hunter's possessions at
his camp.

They were a solid three hours putting to rights the machine and
correcting the damage done to her smaller parts. Then, with several
rods to be straightened and the light framework of the broken plane,
that must be put in the fire for a bit, the party started down the
mountain to Phineas Roebach's camp.

The four had left the plateau where the _Snowbird_ lay and were just
descending into the forest, carrying two storage battery lamps with
which the easier to find their way.

There was no preliminary trembling of the earth or the air. There was
an unheralded clap of sound--a sharp detonation that almost burst their
ear-drums.

They did not fall to the ground; the earth, instead, seemed actually
to rise and smite them!

A cataract of sound followed, that completely overwhelmed them. They
realized that the huge trees were swaying and writhing as though a
sudden storm-breath had blown upon them. Had a tornado swept through
this wood no greater danger could have menaced them. Trees about them
were uprooted; many bent to the earth; some snapped off short at the
ground--great boles two and three feet through!

Jack and Mark, with Andy Sudds and the terrified Wash, would have been
destroyed within the first few seconds of this awful upheaval had it
not been for a single fortunate circumstance. When the cataclysm was
inaugurated the first shock drove the four into a sort of hollow walled
about with solid rock. Upon this hollow fell the first huge tree trunk
of the flying forest--and it sheltered them instead of crushing them
to death.

The four had but small appreciation of this--of either their temporary
safety, or the perils that menaced them. Suddenly the thick air seemed
to stifle them. They could neither breathe nor see. The lamps had been
lost when they were flung--like dice in a box--into the rock-sheltered
hollow.

As the huge tree fell across their harbor of refuge, they all lost
consciousness.

What happened during the next few minutes--perhaps it was a quarter
of an hour--none of the little party of adventurers ever knew. It was
Jack who first aroused.

The whole world seemed still shrouded in pitch darkness. But he could
breathe without difficulty and he sprang to his feet with a peculiar
feeling of lightness as he did so.

But then he stumbled over Mark, and his chum came up, too, ejaculating:

"What is it, Jack? What is the matter now?"

"You can search me!" responded the other boy. "If this sort of business
keeps on I shall wish, with Wash, that we'd never come to Alaska."

"You can wish it with me!" grumbled Mark. "Washington doesn't want to
get back to Maine any more than I do right now, Jack."

"We must complete the repairing of the _Snowbird_," gasped Jack.

"And where are the rods--and the plane frame? And where are the lights?"

They held on to each other in the darkness of this over-shadowed hollow
and neither boy was willing to speak for a moment. Then Andy Sudds
staggered to them.

"I've lost my gun!" he ejaculated, with a quaver in his voice that was
quite surprising.

"And we've lost our lamps; but we'll find 'em, Andy," said Jack Darrow,
curiously enough becoming leader of the expedition right then, instead
of the man. It wasn't that the old hunter was frightened; merely, he
did not know what to do in this emergency.

"Do you notice--?" began Jack, seriously, and then stopped.

"Do I notice what, son?" responded Andy.

"I don't see how you can notice anything without a light," interrupted
Mark querulously.

This statement seemed to arouse Jack's faculties completely. He did
not continue his remark, but said:

"That's our first job; isn't it?"

"What's our first job?" asked the hunter.

"To get a light. We can't find the flying machine, nor get back to
Roebach's camp, without light. Why, it can't be more than mid-afternoon,
yet it's as dark as a stack of black cats in a coal-chute."

"And that's where I feel as though I'd been," declared Mark.

"Where?"

"Fighting the cats in the coal-hole. Ouch! I'm lame and sore all over."

"We're sure up against it," repeated Andy. "But there must be some way
out, boys."

"Light is the first requisite," agreed Jack, more cheerfully. "Got any
matches, Andy?"

"Plenty of 'em in a corked flask. I don't ever travel without matches,
son," returned the old hunter.

"But matches won't show us the way to Roebach's camp," complained Mark.

"Don't croak, old boy," advised Jack. "Let's have that bottle of
cosmolene I saw you tuck in your pocket there at the _Snowbird_."

"I was taking that to the professor. He said he would want it," said
Mark. "What's it good for?"

"You'll come pretty near seeing in a minute, Mark," returned the
quick-thinking Jack. "Here, Andy! let me have that woolen scarf you
wear. You'll have to say good-bye to it--bid it a fond farewell."

"I'm sort of friendly to that scarf, youngster," said the hunter.
"What's to be done to it?"

"It's going to become a lamp wick right here and now," declared young
Darrow, promptly. "So! I've got the cosmolene smeared on it already.
There! that's the last of it. Now a match, Andy."

"Joshua!" grumbled the hunter. "It _is_ good-bye, I guess!" The match
flared up. Jack touched it to the greasy woolen cloth. It began to burn
brightly and steadily at once.

"Now, you all hunt around for the things we dropped. If we can find
them we'll push out right away for the camp and the professor. You
know he'll be worried about us, just as we are worried about him!"

With the light of the improvised torch flaring about them they saw
what manner of place they were in. The huge trunk of the fallen tree
had not entirely shut them in the hole. Mark got in position to climb
out beside the tree-trunk.

There was a small, tough root sticking out of the bank above his head.
He leaped to catch it with one hand, intending to scramble out by its
aid.

And then the very queerest thing happened to him that could be imagined.
The spring he took shot him up through the hole like an arrow taking
flight.

He never touched the root, but over-shot the mark and disappeared with
a loud scream of amazement and alarm into the outer world.




CHAPTER XII

THE GEYSER


"Somebody grabbed him!" shouted Andy Sudds.

"Oh, lawsy-massy-gollyation!" yelped the frightened darkey. "Massa
Mark done been kerried up, suah 'nuff! I tole youse disher was de end
ob de worl'."

But Jack, followed by the old hunter, sprang to the opening. How light
they were upon their feet! The experience of moving shot this surprising
thought through Jack Darrow's mind:

"I'm as light as a feather. I have lost half my weight, I declare I
How can that be possible?"

Andy Sudds was evidently disturbed by the same thought. He cried:

"Somebody holt onto me! I'm going up!"

He did actually bump his head upon the tree trunk above them. But the
next moment Jack scrambled through the opening, light and all, and
came out upon the open ground.

"I'm here, Jack! I'm here!" cried Mark. "But what's happened to me?"
"Whatever it is, it has happened to us all," returned his chum. "I
seem to have overcome a good bit of the law of gravitation. Never felt
so light in my heels in all my life before."

"What can it mean?" whispered Mark in his chum's ear. "It's magic!"

"You've got me," admitted Jack. "I'm not trying to explain it. But I
know that the air pressure on me isn't as great as it was. I feel like
we did when we were on the moon."

"Something awful has happened," suggested Mark, his tone still worried.

"We can be sure of that," Andy Sudds said. "What shall we do?"

"Find that stuff we were carrying and get back to the professor with
it," said Jack, briefly. "Here! I see the storage battery lamp--or,
one of them at least."

Mark at the same time stooped to pick up two of the lost rods. Jack
found the lamp to be in good order and gave it to Andy. The torch was
rapidly becoming exhausted.

"Come, Washington," urged Jack, "you hunt around, too. We must find
the parts of the airship we dropped. If we don't find them we'll
_never_ get away from this place."

"And is we gotter go in de _Snowbird_, Massa Jack?" queried the darkey.
"Has we jest _gotter_ go in dat flyin' contraption? Gollyation! dis
chile hoped de walkin' would be good out oh Alaska. He an' Buttsy jest
erbout made up deir minds dat dey wouldn't fly no mo'. Fac' is, I had
some idea ob clippin' Buttsy's wings so dat he couldn't fly no mo'!"

"You can walk if you want to," said Mark, crossly; "but I want to get
away from this part of the country just as soon as ever I can. If the
flying machine was ready I'd only wait long enough to get the professor
and then we'd start."

"Guess we're with you there, Mark," agreed his chum, emphatically.

Meanwhile they were all scrambling about for the parts of the machine
that had escaped them when the awful blast had knocked them into the
hole and deprived them of consciousness. Fortunately none of the missing
parts was very small and in twenty minutes of close scrutiny every
piece was assembled. They did not find the second hand lamp, however.

"Now we must hurry back to the professor," Jack urged. "I know he will
be dreadfully worried."

"Do you notice that it's getting lighter, boys?" remarked Andy Sudds.

"I believe you!" cried Mark. "The ash has stopped falling, too."

"I know that the air is a whole lot clearer," rejoined his chum. "And
it's colder--or is it rare? Doesn't it seem like mountain air, Mark?"

"We've been half-stifled for so long I reckon the change to purer air
is what makes it seem so peculiar," returned his friend.

Yet Mark was puzzled--indeed they all were more or less disturbed by
the strange feeling that possessed them. Unless Washington White was
an exception. The darkey went along blithely despite his expressed
distaste for their surroundings, and as they came to the lower end of
the grove of big trees, he began to run.

It had grown lighter all the time as they advanced. The cloud that had
hidden the sun seemed to be rolled away like a scroll. The party could
see all about them. The ashes lay from two to eight inches deep on the
ground. Plants and shrubs were covered with the volcanic dust, and it
was shaken from the trees as they passed.

Washington White bounded along like a rubber ball. He came to the
plateau that overlooked the sheltered camp of the oil hunter. As the
darkness retreated across the valley, the derrick and the shanties
belonging to Phineas Roebach's outfit appeared.

Suddenly several gunshots rang out in succession, and the sounds
startled the boys and Andy. Wild cries likewise arose from the valley.
The commotion was at the camp.

"The professor is in danger!" cried Andy Sudds, and began to run.

His first leap carried him twenty feet; his second took him over a
fallen tree-trunk six feet through.

"By Joshua!" ejaculated the startled hunter. "I've got springs in my
shoes; ain't I?"

"What can it mean, Jack?" panted Mark, as the boys hurried on, side
by side.

Jack Darrow had no answer to make. He was as amazed as his companions,
and perhaps a little frightened as well.

They hurried after Andy and Wash; but the latter was far ahead. There
was a second volley of gunshots and at that moment Wash came to the
verge of the steep descent to the camp.

He beheld some half dozen Indians--all swart, lank, fierce-looking
bucks--just at the point of rushing the oil borer's hut.

It was no time for explanations, nor for hesitancy. Wash, like the
others behind him, believed that the Indians were making an attack
upon their master, and the first thought of all was that Professor
Henderson was with the oil man, and in peril.

"Gollyation! Git erway from dat dar door!" bawled Washington. The black
man was as timid as a fawn as a usual thing; but he was devoted to the
old professor and he had that feeling of gratitude for Mr. Henderson
that overcame his natural cowardice. When the Indians, without giving
him a glance, rushed at the door, and a single shot from the half-opened
window missed them by ten feet, Wash uttered another yell and sprang
to reach the descending path.

But this strange lightness of body that had overtaken them all during
the past hour, played Wash a strange trick. Instead of landing a few
feet down the steep way, he cast himself fairly into the air, twenty
feet out from the hillside, and sailed down upon the startled Indians
like some huge black buzzard.

The red men glanced up over their shoulders and beheld the flying man.
The sight seemed to terrify them. With loud cries they started to run;
but two of them could not escape the flying black man.

Wash landed sprawling upon their shoulders bearing both Aleuts to the
ground. The door of the cabin was dashed open and Phineas Roebach ran
out and seized the two red men before they could scramble up. The
others were streaking it for the woods as fast as they could travel.

"Gollyation!" quoth Washington White. "Has dem rapscallawags done
harmed de ole perfesser?"

"I am perfectly safe, Washington," said Professor Henderson, appearing
at the door of the cabin. "And here are the boys and Andy. I am relieved
to see you all alive again--I really am."

"Ain't this been a gee-whizzer of a storm?" queried the oil man, holding
the two Aleuts at arm's length.

Already the boys and Andy were tearing down the steep path. They
traveled like goats--as surefooted and as light upon their feet.
Professor Henderson watched their career in evident interest. Then,
gingerly, trying the feat curiously, the old gentleman sprang for a
small boulder beside the cabin. He leaped entirely over it.

"Light! Light as air!" he murmured. "This is a most puzzling
circumstance."

"Now, you fellows," growled Phineas, urging the two Indians along to
the boring machine. "You'll get to work. I don't care if your friends
have run off and left you to do it all alone. I tell you we've near
struck oil. I know the signs." Then he gabbled at them a bit in their
own language and the Aleuts took hold of the heavy bar by which the
earth-auger was turned. "They left the job--the whole of them--when
that last clap came," he explained to the boys.

But Jack and Mark were not much interested in the oil hunter's affairs.
Only Jack remarked that he thought the fat man had been foolish to arm
the Aleuts, or allow them to be armed. The Indians had evidently quite
gone off their heads.

"They believe that we are spirits of the air," Professor Henderson
told his friends. "That we are evil spirits. And I guess that Washington
flying down upon them as he did will clinch that belief in their minds."

"Did you ever hear of anything like it before in all your days,
Professor?" cried Jack. "Why, we can all jump like deer. I never saw
anything like it."

Before the professor could reply there came a shout from the direction
of the oil man's derrick. The two Aleuts, with their driver, had been
working only a few moments at the auger. But perhaps the tool, so far
down in the earth, had been ready to bite into the gas-chamber. There
was a rumble from beneath that suggested to all that another 'quake
was at hand. Then the Indians and the fat man started away from the
derrick on the run.

The auger and piping shot out of the hole like stones driven by a
catapult. Following the broken tools was a column of gas, gravel, water
and mud that rose two hundred feet in the air. The earth trembled, and
squawking like frightened geese, the Aleuts took to the tall timber,
following the trail of their more fortunate comrades who had gotten
away before. And they were not alone in their fright. The white men
were likewise amazed and troubled by the marvelous geyser. It was as
though the oil man had bored down to the regions infernal.




CHAPTER XIII

NATURE GONE MAD


The fat man came panting to the group surrounding Professor Henderson,
just as fast as he could move his feet. And never before had the boys,
or the professor, or Andy, or the black man beheld such an apparently
heavy man get over the ground at such speed.

"A very mysterious thing," the professor was saying again--and he did
not mean the roaring, spouting geyser that was shooting gas and debris
a couple of hundred feet into the air.

Nor did he have time then to explain what seemed so mysterious to him.
The descending debris threatened them all, and although they retired
in a more dignified way than had the Indians from the vicinity of the
spouting monster, they were all more or less disturbed by this new
phenomenon.

Stones weighing from ten to twenty pounds were projected into the air,
some of them crashing through the roof of the cabin when they descended.
The mud and water grew into a pool, then a lake, completely surrounding
the spot where the derrick had stood and where the geyser continued
to spout.

"We surely must move out," the oil man said, in much perturbation. "My
shop yonder seems to be a target for those rocks. There goes another!"

"And we have got to use a forge to weld and straighten these damaged
rods!" Mark cried, worriedly.

"Sorry, boy. I don't believe any of us will be able to get at my forge
till this shower of missiles stops," said Phineas Roebach.

"What needs to be done to the flying machine?" asked the professor,
briskly. "Are you sure it can be repaired, Mark?"

"Very sure, sir," replied the boy.

"And you, Jack?" repeated Professor Henderson.

"We could fix it up all right before midnight," declared the other.
"But we must have a forge."

"This geyser will stop playing after a bit, we will hope," said the
professor, encouragingly. "If the flying machine is not past repair
we need not worry. Nor need you, Mr. Roebach. We can all get away from
this region if it becomes necessary."

"Ma goodness!" gasped Washington White, who had listened to this speech
with his mouth ajar. "Don't you consider, Perfesser, dat dere has
erbout 'nuff happened yere fo' ter make it seem quite necessarious dat
we evacuate de premises sorter promscuous an' soon like? Why, I done
was sure de end ob He finish was at hand when dat las' big eart'quake
hit us--I suah did!"

"I must say I don't care to linger around here myself," muttered Andy.

"We must not lose our courage," said the professor. "Never before have
I been in a position to study seismic disturbances so closely. I only
regret I have not with me here the instruments I brought in the
_Snowbird_. And we must somehow learn the location of that volcano
which is in eruption."

"It's all right to learn the location of it," whispered Mark to Jack.
"But if we learn that we'll be pretty sure to fly in the opposite
direction--what do you think?"

"Believe me," said Jack, "I've got enough. The old professor is all
right, but he doesn't think about danger when his interest in any
natural phenomena is aroused."

The roaring of the geyser was a most unpleasant sound and the upheaval
of the stones was more than unpleasant--it threatened danger to them.
The vicinity of the oil-boring had been exceptionally free from small
stones; but in half an hour one might have picked up a two-horse
cartload weighing from ten to twenty pounds each.

Washington had run in and saved Buttsy in his cage, and they had all
retired now to the little plateau from the verge of which Washington
had made his famous leap to the backs of the two Indians. Phineas
Roebach had released the dogs from the shed where they had been
confined. There were twenty of the animals--three or four teams--fierce
and intractable brutes as a usual thing, unless under the sharp control
of their Indian drivers. But now they came whining and crouching to
the feet of the human beings grouped together on the plateau.

The evening was growing clear; but the geyser continued to roar like
the exhaust of some mighty engine and to throw off filth and
evil-smelling gas. Professor Henderson stood there, wrapped in his
furs, and penciled notes in his book with a grave enjoyment of the
scene that made his companions wonder.

But Andy Sudds read signs other than those of which the professor made
notes. Jack saw the old hunter watching the sledge dogs with a puzzled
frown wrinkling his brow.

"What's the matter with you, Andy?" queried the youth.

"Them dogs," declaimed the hunter.

"What about them?" "They're plumb scart. All this disturbance and
mystery has got in on them. They act just like they were seeing spooks."

"Spooks!" repeated Jack in surprise. "Do you mean to say dogs can see
ghosts?"

"All dogs can smell out when things is going to happen," declared Andy
Sudds. "They're better prophets than old women, you bet you! And these
dogs act to me as though we hadn't come by the worst of our trouble
yet."

Oddly enough it was Professor Henderson himself who took up the
suggestion that more trouble was in the offing.

"It is my opinion, Mr. Roebach," he said, to the oil man, "that you
had better remove such possessions as you can from this valley at once.
And put your dogs somewhere so that they cannot run away like your
Indians. If we are balked in attempting to repair the flying machine,
these dogs and sleds are what we must depend upon."

"To escape from this country, you mean, sir?" asked Mark.

"To reach Aleukan and the valley where the _Chrysothele-Byzantium_ is to
be found," replied the professor, promptly.

But it was to run the chance of a rain of death to go down into the
basin where the shop and cabin were situated. Further up the hillside
the dogs' quarters had been built, and the sleds were there, too. The
oil man and Andy Sudds looked at one another.

"All the stores are in the far end of the cabin," grunted Roebach.
"And you can see what that geyser is doing to the shed where the tools
are. There goes another stone through the roof!"

"If we could only get hold of that portable forge," said Mark.

"And that is what we _must_ get," exclaimed Jack. "Is the door of that
shanty locked, Mr. Roebach?"

"It's nothing but a skin door," replied the oil man. "But it's at the
far side--fronting that old mud-slinger. Did you ever see the beat of
that? _That_ stone must have weighed fifty pounds."

But Jack Darrow noticed a certain fact. That was that the debris from
the spouter was not shot so high as at first. Therefore, it was not
being spread abroad so far.

Only small stones, now, were dropping around the tool shed. And the
rear wall of the shanty was made of the most flimsy material.

Suddenly he slipped down to one side and got upon the level of the
valley. Nobody but Mark noticed his movements for a minute, and to him
Jack had given a warning glance.

The boy had crossed to the back of the tool-shed before the men of the
party noticed his absence from the knoll.

"Look at that reckless fellow!" ejaculated the professor. "Come back
here, Jack!"

But Master Jack was already at the shed. He tore away a part of the
rear wall in a moment. The mud rained down upon him, but fortunately
no rock came his way.

There was light enough yet for him to see inside the hut. Andy Sudds
had already started after Jack, and when the latter dragged the small
forge out of the shelter, the old hunter picked it up, flung it upon
his shoulder, and trotted back to the highland.

"Come away! Come away, Jack!" cried the professor again.

But the youth stopped long enough to obtain a sledge hammer and other
tools that he knew they should need. As he ran from the hut two stones
shot out by the geyser crashed through the roof; but he escaped all
injury.

He was plastered with mud from head to foot, however, when he regained
the high land.

"It was worth it," Jack declared, laughing, when he was safe. "I want
to get away from this neighborhood just as quick as we can. And if
we can fix the _Snowbird_ let us do it this very night and take our
flight for other climes. We don't know when another earthquake or
volcanic eruption will occur."

"Very true, my boy," admitted the professor, with a sigh. "At least,
we will endeavor to repair the damage done to your flying machine at
once. But there is much going on here that interests me."

Andy and Jack set up the forge and in a few minutes they had a glowing
fire in it. Then the boys set to work welding the broken rods and
straightening those that had become bent.

Meanwhile Mr. Roebach hauled out his sled and whipped the dogs into
line so that he could gear them up. The canines acted badly because
they were more used to their Indian masters. When the boys had done
their work, however, the oil man was ready to transport them all up
the mountainside to the plateau where the _Snowbird_ lay.

His cabin was by this time riddled by the flying stones and everything
in and about it was plastered with mud. It would have been foolhardy
indeed to attempt to get at the provisions.

"You see," Mark said, "we are forced to get away in the _Snowbird_
at once, or to escape to some town where we can get food. There isn't
much left of our stores on the flying machine." "And what will Mr.
Roebach do about his dogs? They must be fed," said Jack.

"He'll have to abandon them if he goes with us on the _Snowbird_,"
returned his chum.

It was now the long twilight of the Arctic evening. None of the party
had eaten since breakfast and they felt the need of sustenance. If
nothing else, this need of food would have hurried the party on to
their destination farther up the mountainside.

As they advanced the roaring of the mud geyser diminished. The professor
continued to be much interested in the condition of Nature about them
as they climbed the hill. The uprooted trees, and the huge trunks
broken off by the final upheaval of the earth, made the old gentleman
look very serious indeed.

"There has been a mighty change in the face of Nature," he said
thoughtfully. "You boys were saved from death by a miracle, I have no
doubt."

"We were all knocked senseless for a time," Mark told him.

"Indeed? And so were we at the camp. All of us lost consciousness.
Dear, dear! what happened during those minutes that we were all
unconscious? Something of the greatest importance--some great change
took place that now we can scarcely understand." "And what do you make
of that over yonder?" queried Jack, suddenly pointing toward the
northern horizon.

A deepening glow had appeared in that direction. Rapidly it increased
until there appeared above the horizon the edge of a huge disk. Its
light was mellow like the moon's; but whoever heard of the moon rising
in the North?

"What can that possibly be, Professor?" cried Mark as they all gazed
in wonder at the rapidly increasing body rising into complete view.

Professor Henderson shook his head slowly. For once he was surely at
a loss to explain a scientific phenomenon. The huge globe, evidently
reflecting palely the sun's light, mounted upward more rapidly than
the moon ever crossed the heavens.

"All nature has gone mad!" gasped Professor Henderson at length. "Have
we discovered a new celestial body? I never heard of such a thing--so
near to us, too! Come, hurry on, boys. Let me get and mount the
telescope. This new mystery must be solved."




CHAPTER XIV

ON THE WING AGAIN


There was no member of the party who was not amazed and disturbed by
the strange happenings of the last few hours. The earthquake and
volcanic disturbances, followed by the outburst of the geyser, and now
capped by the appearance of a new and wondrous planet on the northern
horizon, were happenings calculated to make more than Washington White
shake with terror.

What Professor Amos Henderson really thought about this new celestial
body it would be hard to tell. While the others chattered in their
amazement--after his first statement--he remained strangely quiet.

But the moment the party reached the spot where the flying machine
rested he went at once to the locker where he had stowed the very
powerful telescope that he had insisted upon bringing with them from
home. With Washington's help he was an hour in setting up the telescope
and properly adjusting it, while the boys and Andy worked steadily
upon the repairing of the flying machine. Roebach had loosed his dogs
again and threw them the last bits of fish he had for them, and they
were fighting over the putrid flesh at one side. The oil man watched
the repairs with interest. He had agreed to travel as far as Aleukan
with the party and there hire fresh Indians and sleds, hoping to find
these dogs on his return. He had to have assistants and provisions
before he could go on with his work for the Universal Oil Company.

"Merely that yonder oil-shoot turned into a mud-bath doesn't feaze
him," chuckled Jack to Mark. "Earthquakes and volcanoes don't seem to
bother that chap any more than they do the professor."

"Just watch him now," suggested Mark, suddenly.

"Watch who--Roebach?"

"The professor," explained Mark.

The old gentleman was certainly deeply interested at that moment in
his study of the great pale globe that was rising toward the zenith
so much more quickly than any moon that the boys had previously seen.
The professor was crouched at the mirror of the telescope gazing into
it through the powerful lens. Suddenly he threw up his hands and
staggered back from the instrument, turning a pallid face upon his
companions. "What done happened yo', Perfesser?" cried Washington
White. "What done skeer yo' now? Dis suah am de startlin'est place dat
we ebber got into. Gollyation! Ain't dat moon risin', dough?"

"It is no moon!" declared the professor.

"A most mysterious thing," Mark said. "Is it some great planet out of
its orbit, sir?"

"It is a planet--of course it is a planet," admitted the professor,
going back to his telescope with eagerness.

"And how light it is getting--almost like day," said Jack. "No moonlight
was ever like this."

"Why, we're not as far away from that planet as the moon is from the
earth," said Mark. "Suppose it bumps us?"

"All the more reason for our getting the _Snowbird_ into flying
shape," responded Jack. "Maybe we'll be able to escape the bump!"

"You can laugh," grumbled Mark. "But I don't like the look of that
thing."

"Evidently the professor does not like it, either," agreed Jack. "See
him now."

Professor Henderson was gazing first into the telescope and then drawing
upon a paper before him. For several minutes he was thus engaged.
Finally he beckoned the boys to him.

"What do your eyes tell you that looks like?" he demanded of Jack and
Mark, pointing to the outline he had drawn upon the paper.

The boys gazed on his drawing in surprise. It was Jack who exclaimed:

"Why, Professor, that looks a whole lot like an outline map of the
Hudson Bay Territory, Canada, and Newfoundland. There's the mouth of
the St. Lawrence, sure! What are you doing?"

"I have been drawing," said the gentleman, solemnly, "an outline of
what I see upon that luminous body floating there in space," and he
pointed a trembling finger at the strange planet.

"Impossible!" cried Mark.

"I do not think I am losing my mind," said the professor, testily. "It
remains, however, that the outline of certain bodies of water and of
land upon that luminous globe seem to be the exact counterpart of
land-bodies and water-bodies on the Earth."

"But what does it mean?" questioned Jack.

"If I knew that," grumbled the professor, returning to his instrument,
"I should feel better satisfied."

That some strange--some really wonderful--change had taken place in
their physical surroundings, too, there could be no doubt. But what
it was the boys could not imagine. Of one thing they were sure, however:
The law of gravitation had been partly overcome. And a second fact was
discernible: There was a surprising rarity to the air they breathed,
and had been since the fall of volcanic ashes had ceased.

In lifting the heavier tools they handled it was noticeable that they
seemed lighter. And Andy Sudds surprised them all, when it became
necessary to roll a log out of the way of the flying machine, by seizing
the heavy timber and lifting it with the ease with which one might
lift a small sapling.

"We've all become strong men--professional strong men," gasped Jack.
"Wash is the champion jumper and Andy beats old Samson, I declare!
What do you make of it, Mark?"

"If the professor cannot explain it, don't expect me to do so," returned
his chum.

"It am de seriousest question dat has ebber come befo' us," declared
Washington, looking wondrous wise. "Disher jumpin' has always been in
ma fambly, howebber. We had some great jumpers down Souf befo' de War."

The boys hurried to finish the repairs. It was some time after midnight
when they pronounced the _Snowbird_ again ready for flight.

The professor had to be urged more than once to leave his telescope,
however; and then he insisted upon setting it up on the deck of the
flying machine. He would not discuss the situation at all; but his
serious visage and his anxious manner betrayed to them all that he
was disturbed indeed by the strange, pale planet he had so closely
examined.

Mr. Roebach turned loose his dogs again and climbed gingerly aboard
the flying machine.

"I've never been up in the air," he said, "and I must admit that I am
somewhat more afraid of a flying machine than I am of an earthquake."

"No more earthquakes in mine, thank you!" cried Jack. "I'd rather sail
on a kite than go through what we did yesterday."

They had studied the chart and laid the course for Aleukan without any
difficulty. Now Jack strapped himself into the operator's seat and the
others took their places, Washington White stowing his rooster carefully
amidships as he had before.

Jack started the motor and the _Snowbird_ began to quiver throughout her
frame. He touched the lever by which the propellers were started. With a
whir and a bound the flying machine left the earth.

Never had it sprung into the air so quickly before. It shot up at a
sharp incline and was over the tree-tops in a breath. The indicator
registered eighty miles an hour before the plateau was behind them.
Then the pointer whirled to ninety--to a hundred--to a hundred fifteen
miles an hour, and both Jack, in the pilot's seat, and the others
gasped for breath.

Faster than when shot out of Professor Henderson's catapult the
_Snowbird_ winged her way into the northwest. Jack managed to keep her
on an even keel. But he had the same feeling that he would have had, had
he been hanging to the bit of a runaway horse.

Indeed, the _Snowbird_ was practically out of his control.




CHAPTER XV

A PLUNGE TO THE ICE


Jack Darrow was a youth less likely to be panic-stricken than his chum;
but just as Mark Sampson had lost his head for a few minutes on the
occasion when the _Snowbird_ was tried out, so Jack was flustered now.

The flying machine shot up at such a tangent, and so swiftly, that he
was both amazed and frightened. The speed indicator showed a terrific
pace within a few seconds, and when Jack first tried to reduce the
speed he learned that the mechanism acted in a manner entirely different
than ever before.

The motor made more revolutions a minute than she was supposed to make
when pressed to the very highest speed. When he had raised the bow of
the flying machine at the start she had shot up almost perpendicularly
into the air. He was afraid she was going to turn a back somersault.

As he depressed the planes he found that it took much more depression
to bring the _Snowbird_ down to even keel. And the rapidity with
which they left the ground and soared upward was in itself enough to
shake Jack's coolness. Suddenly (being furnished with the professor's
patented ear-tabs) he heard that gentleman calling to him from below:

"Get back to the five-hundred-foot level--quick!"

Light as his head had become, and confused as he was, Jack realized
what these words meant, and he knew enough to obey without question.
He brought the _Snowbird_ down the air-ways on a long slant and
at a swift pace. He realized that, as they descended, he was able to
breathe more easily and his head stopped ringing. For some moments he
had felt like an intoxicated person in the vastly rarified plane of
the upper ether.

The professor staggered to the young operator's side.

"Danger! Danger above, boy!" he gasped. "We cannot cross these mountains
while--while the air is so thin."

"But we need not cross them to reach Aleukan?" suggested Jack, speaking
with some difficulty himself. There was a pain in the region of his
lungs and he saw that Professor Henderson was very pale.

"That is a fact," panted the professor. "Descend, Jack. Make it two
hundred feet. Be careful!"

For as the youth depressed the planes again the ground beneath seemed
to fairly leap up to meet them.

"What do you know about that?" gasped the young aviator. "She--she
doesn't work at all like she used to."

"Less attraction," declared the scientist.

"What do you mean, sir?" cried Jack. "Has the law of gravitation lost
its power over us--and over the flying machine?"

"There is a difference--a great difference," proclaimed Professor
Henderson. "The power of attraction is lessened mightily."

"What does it mean? What _can_ it mean?" murmured the disturbed youth.

"I suspect--I fear--"

What the professor would have said was not spoken then. Mark interrupted
by shouting:

"Look ahead! Look ahead! What is that--a river?"

"There is no river of size in this locality," declared the professor,
quickly, training his glasses on the white streak that appeared on the
ground ahead.

Phineas Roebach struggled forward to the operator's bench. He gasped:

"This is worse than I ever thought flying could be. Do you have to go
so fast? I cannot get my breath. Hullo! That's the glacier ahead. The
dog trail to Aleukan follows the ice for more than fifty miles."

"A glacier it is," agreed Professor Henderson. "It seems pretty smooth,
Jack. You can descend still farther."

That they were all suffering from the rarity of the atmosphere was
plain. It seemed as though the envelope of breathable air surrounding
the earth had suddenly become vastly rarified. If the. atmosphere had
been so changed all over the globe it would be a catastrophe
unspeakable.

"We certainly _can't_ cross these mountains--nor the Rockies," groaned
Jack. "How are we ever going to get home again?"

"If the air remains as it is now?" asked Mark. "You're right! We're
imprisoned in this part of Alaska just as fast as though we were caged
behind iron bars."

"If we only had some of those torches we used on the moon," said Jack.

"What will we do, Professor?" begged Mark.

"Let us not lose hope," responded the old scientist. "First we will
get to Aleukan and see if our provisions have been brought over from
Coldfoot."

"I'll bet they haven't been brought across the range," said the
pessimistic Mark. "If the air everywhere is so rarified the men would
die crossing the mountains." "Think of the people living on Mt.
Washington--and other heights!" cried Jack, suddenly. "Why, they will
be snuffed out like candles. It is an awful thought."

"We will hope, at least, that this fearful catastrophe is local," said
the professor, seriously. "Have a care, Jack! Don't dip like that. We
do not want to descend here."

It was extremely difficult to manage the _Snowbird_, for she answered to
the levers so much more quickly than before. The air pressure on the
craft was so slight that at the least touch she mounted upward like a
scared quail! The speed of the aeroplane had to be reduced, too; they
traveled scarcely forty miles an hour.

On either hand as they winged their way over the great river of ice
(it was quite four miles broad) sharp cliffs arose, guarding the
glacier. These cliffs ranged from two hundred to a thousand feet high.

The professor, at once interested in such a marvel of nature, begged
Jack to reduce the speed even more. They merely floated above the
cracked expanse of whitish-green ice for some minutes.

"That's what the earthquakes did for it," said Phineas Roebach. "You
see those crevasses--and some of 'em mighty deep? Well, they weren't
here the last time I came this way." "She is in motion again, perhaps,"
suggested Professor Henderson.

"It ain't been in motion for ages--or, so the Aleuts say," responded
the oil hunter.

"But there looks now to be some sagging forward. There is a crevasse
splitting the glacier from wall to wall," proclaimed the scientist.

"We'd never be able to sled over this trail in the world!" cried Mark.
"How would you pass such a yawning gulf as that?"

"It beats me what's happened here since I was across last," muttered
Roebach, scratching his head in bewilderment.

The yawning ice was right beneath the flying machine. It was a hundred
yards across at the surface. They seemed to be looking down for five
hundred feet, or more, into its greenish depths.

Jack had turned the _Snowbird's_ prow and they were drifting toward the
western cliffs which guarded the glacier. Here the rocky heights were at
least seven hundred feet above the ice.

Out of a crack in the high wall--from its eyrie without doubt--a huge
female eagle suddenly shot down toward the drifting aeroplane. The
flying machine seemed not to startle the great bird at all; it only
angered her. Perhaps she had young up there in the cliff and she feared
her hereditary enemy, Man, was coming on wings to deprive her of them.

With a scream of rage the eagle dashed herself directly into the face
of Jack, strapped to the operator's seat. For once Andy Sudds had not
his rifle at hand; and, the attack was so unexpected, it is doubtful
if he could have come to the rescue in season.

With beak and claws the bird endeavored to tear at the youth's face.
Jack jerked loose the transmitter and beat it to pieces over the bird,
but without making her desist.

Again and again the feathered creature darted in, claws expanded and
beak snapping. With one talon she raked Jack's right arm and shredded
the heavy coatsleeve, the sleeve beneath, and scratched his arm. The
next instant her iron beak snapped upon his left hand.

Jack Darrow was plucky, but the pain of the wound brought a scream to
his lips. It was answered by the wild shrieks of the eagle.

And then, ere any of his friends could reach him (for the professor
had gone back to the cabin), the boy, fighting for his sight--indeed,
for his very life--by some unfortunate movement depressed the planes.
Like an arrow from the bow the _Snowbird_ shot downward into the yawning
crevasse which split the glacier from wall to wall. With a yell of
terror Mark Sampson sprang forward to the operator's bench. But he was
too late--if he could have done any good at all.

The _Snowbird_ swung to one side. Her right forward plane crashed
against the wall of ice, shattering some of the hard crystal. But on
the rebound the fluttering flying machine sank lower. Jack tried to
make her rise. She refused to obey the lever.

And then, with a suddenness that made them all catch their breath, the
_Snowbird_ plunged down into the ice-gulf and ended her dive with
a terrific crash on a narrow shelf at least two hundred feet below the
surface of the glacier.




CHAPTER XVI

PROFESSOR HENDERSON REVEALS THE TRUTH


The force with which the flying machine had plunged into the chasm in
the ice was sufficient to smash her keel-fin to bits. There was other
damage done, too--how great this damage was the boys and the professor
could not immediately discover.

They were all alive--that was one thing to be thankful for. And
Washington White's Shanghai, aroused from sleep by the disturbance,
began to crow vociferously.

The _Snowbird_ was wedged into a very small space upon the ledge
of ice. At first view it was quite certain that she could not be
launched again from this position by any ordinary means. And the
steering gear was practically a wreck, so that she positively must be
repaired before attempting another flight.

Jack's wounds were dressed by Andy first of all. Mark and the professor
made some attempt to look over the wreckage. The disaster was so great
that Mark gave up hope.

"We're done for now!" he cried. "The poor _Snowbird_ is a wreck. And how
are we ever going to get out of this hole?"

"Hush, my boy!" admonished the professor. "Don't lose your grip. This
is truly a serious predicament; but we have been in tight places
before."

"Nothing worse than this," grumbled Mark. "Nor half so bad. How are
we going to get out of this chasm? Why, just as Washington says, we've
been swallowed up like a duck gobbling a June bug."

"This is certainly a bad situation," Phineas Roebach remarked. "But,
as the professor says, it isn't the worst that might happen."

"What worse could happen?" demanded Mark.

"Hold on! Don't you step too near the edge of this shelf," warned the
oil man. "If you step off and fall clear to the bottom of this crevasse
you'll probably find _that_ a good deal worse than our present position.
B-r-r! Isn't it cold?"

Two hundred feet below the surface of the ice river was indeed a cold
spot. Washington produced all the warm clothing there was aboard the
flying machine and all hands were glad to bundle up. Then the professor
suggested that the black man prepare some hot drink and a ration of
their food, while all gathered in the cabin for a discussion as to
their future course. "Our perilous situation is apparent," said
Professor Henderson, quietly. "But there is always more than one way
out of a serious predicament--sometimes there are a dozen ways."

"I'd like to hear of a dozen ways of getting out of this hole," murmured
Mark Sampson.

"Mr. Roebach," said the professor, ignoring the youth, "what do you
say? What is your advice?"

"The sun will be up in an hour, or thereabout. It's pretty dim down
here. Let us wait and see what daylight shows us," was the oil man's
reply.

"The moon--the _other_ moon--is just appearing," Jack said. "We'll
have light enough in a few minutes."

"Two moons! what do you think of that?" cried Mark.

"Are you sure, Jack?" queried the professor, eagerly.

"I just saw it peeking over the eastern cliffs while Andy was patching
me up." He carried one arm in a sling, and his other hand was bandaged.

"Then I must take an observation," ejaculated the professor, and seizing
some instruments he had arranged on the table he went out to where the
powerful telescope was adjusted.

"He's forgotten all about gittin' out of this hole in the ice," said
Andy. "I, for one, think we'd ought to take axes and begin to cut steps
up the wall. How else will we escape from the place?"

"The poor old _Snowbird_ cannot be repaired in a hurry, that is sure,"
muttered Mark.

"And this is no place to remain for fun," agreed Jack. "Suppose the
walls of the crack should shut together--where would we be?"

"Just about here, for fair!" said Phineas Roebach, grimly, while
Washington uttered a most mournful wail.

"Gollyation! Is we gotter be squeeged ter deaf in disher awful
cavernarious hole? Dis is suah a time ob trouble an' tribbilation."

They heard an exclamation from the professor and Jack led the way to
the open deck of the crippled flying machine. By chance the _Snowbird_
in landing had remained upright, her decks on a level. They found the
professor bending over some further calculations on a great sheet of
paper. Here, two hundred feet below the surface of the ice, the heavenly
bodies all looked brighter and more distinct than they had while the
aeroplane was in flight above the ground.

The strange new planet had not yet gone out of sight. From the east
the old moon was soaring steadily. There could be no mistaking the two
orbs, now that both were visible in the sky at once. The new planet
or moon was much larger than the real moon.

"What do you suppose that great planet is?" queried Jack.

The professor looked up from his calculations. His face was very pale;
his eyes glowed with excitement. The boys had seldom seen the old
gentleman so moved.

"You are right, my boy. A planet it surely is," he said to Jack.

"But why have we never seen it before?" demanded Mark.

"For a very good reason," returned the professor, solemnly. "We were
never in a position before to behold that planet, save on two
occasions."

"Then we have seen it twice before?" asked the puzzled Jack.

"On two occasions we have been enabled to stand off, as it were, and
look at that planet as though we were inhabitants of another world--when
we went to the moon, and when we went to Mars."

"What do you mean, Professor?" cried Mark.

"It's the earth!" exclaimed Jack Darrow. "It's the earth! We have left
the earth--is that it, Professor?"

The old scientist nodded. Phineas Roebach snorted his disbelief, while
Washington White gave vent to his trouble of mind most
characteristically:

"Goodness gracious gollyation! De fat am suah in de fiah now! We'se
done los' de earf an' Buttsy an' me will nebber see our happy home no
mo'."

"Oh, Professor! how could we have left the earth?" demanded Mark. "See!
we are standing upon it now; at least, this glacier is an ice-river
of Alaska, and Alaska has not been wiped off the map!"

"But that is exactly what has happened to it," said the professor,
earnestly. "At least, a part of Alaska--we do not know how much of
that territory, or how much other territory with it--is no longer a
part of the sphere called the earth."

Phineas Roebach looked at the old scientist as though he thought the
latter had taken leave of his senses. But Jack Darrow leaped to the
right conclusion.

"You mean, sir, that the earthquake and the volcanic eruption have
torn away some great fragment of the world, and we are on it?"

"That is what I mean."

"We are floating in space, then--an entirely new world? And _that_ is
the old world shining there in the sky?"

"That is what has happened, Jack," declared Professor Henderson, with
solemnity. "I suspected it when we first felt the lightness of the
atmosphere. I was convinced when I found the ether envelope of this
new world--this island in the air, as it were--was so thin. My
calculations regarding the rising of the moon, and the outlines of
objects upon the great globe hanging yonder, prove to my mind
conclusively that the awful cataclysm we endured, when we all completely
lost consciousness, was the time when the eruption occurred, and we,
with this great fragment of the earth, were blown out into space."

"It can't be! it can't be!" shouted Phineas Roebach. "We've lost our
heads, perhaps; but we haven't lost our hold on the earth. It's
nonsense!"

"I sincerely wish I could feel that same confidence, Mr. Roebach,"
said Professor Henderson, drily. "These instruments of mine, however,
cannot lie. It is a simple calculation to figure that the moon, now
just risen, is thousands of miles out of her course, if we are still
on the earth. No, Mr. Roebach, I am stating the exact truth when I say
that we have been blown off the earth by that awful volcanic eruption,
and that we are now floating on a torn-away world, or a new planet,
in space, doubtless hanging between the earth and the sun. We are as
unsafe as though we were on a wandering star, or meteor--only this
island is not afire. But in time we shall fall into one or the other
greater bodies of our system--of that end there can be no possible
doubt."




CHAPTER XVII

ON AN ISLAND IN THE AIR


The stern and uncompromising statement of Professor Henderson relating
to the awful fate that had overtaken his friends and Phineas Roebach
was so uncompromising--almost brutal--that not a word was spoken for
several minutes.

Even Washington White was dumb. The fact that the fragment of the earth
on which they were imprisoned was floating miles above the globe, in
the rarified atmosphere of the outer universe, and that they were at
that moment able to look up and see the great, calm, palely glowing
sphere which had been their home, rolling across the arch above
them--all this was too awful a mystery to be grasped immediately by
the professor's companions.

Jack Darrow, whose mind was the keenest of any, was the first to break
the depressing silence. And he spoke in an awed tone that showed how
fully he realized the horror of their situation, if nothing more.

"Then, Professor, we are at the mercy of Chance--at any moment this
fragment of the earth may fall again--or be propelled into the sun?"

"We are in the hands of Providence, my boy," replied Professor
Henderson, reverently.

"The fact remains that we are totally unable to help ourselves," said
Jack, firmly. "Even could we repair the _Snowbird_, and get her out of
this crack in the ice, we could not fly to the earth. Between us and the
earth lies a portion of the universe that has no atmosphere--no
breathable air--like that envelope which surrounds the moon. Am I
right?"

"Practically correct, I believe, Jack," responded the aged scientist.

"But," cried Mark, at last getting _his_ speech, "how can such a thing
be possible? Blown off the earth! Why, we'd simply go up in the air and
come down again."

"Now you're talking sense, young fellow," muttered Roebach, still
rubbing his head as though stunned.

"Not if we were blown far enough to get beyond the earth's
attraction--or to get so far away from that body that the sun's
attraction counterbalances that of the earth," replied the professor,
calmly.

"And why do we not fall off?" asked Mark.

"We do come pretty near falling off," returned Professor Henderson,
grimly. "I should think you could see that, Mark."

"Our lightness!" Jack cried. "Washington's jumping and the lightness
of all objects! I see. This fragment of the earth--this island in the
air, as you call it, Professor--is large enough to possess some powers
of attraction of its own; but not as much as the earth. I wonder how
large it really is?"

"That is a matter for future discovery," returned the scientist, with
some eagerness.

"My goodness me!" groaned Mark. "He really enjoys the situation."

"No man has ever been in such a position before--I am convinced of
that," declared the professor. "Were it not that you are all in as
perilous a situation as myself, I would not worry about this condition.
It is marvelous, and the situation affords me opportunity to learn
many things that science has only guessed at before."

"Don't talk that way!" wailed the oil man, suddenly. "You'll make
_me_ believe in this island in the air business, and I _know_ it's
craziness!"

Nor could anything the professor say convince the oil man that there
was any common sense in the plain statement of their situation. It was
beyond Phineas Roebach's powers of imagination.

As for Washington White, he could not understand the affair anyway.
But he always accepted the professor's words as Bible truth and he had
no doubt of the surprising fact.

"We was bound ter git inter trouble, Buttsy an' me, w'en we agreed ter
start on any sech foolish journey. And de consanguinuity ob dis 'casion
assuages me ob de fac' dat we'se only got our come-upance fo' bein'
so reckless. Now we is nebber gwine ter see de State o' Maine again,
'ceptin' it is froo de perfesser's telescope."

His complaint received little attention from Jack Darrow or Mark
Sampson; they were too deeply interested in the explanation of the
catastrophe that had overtaken them.

"How big a slice of Alaska do you suppose has been blown off the earth,
Professor?" asked Jack.

"It may be much more than a part of Alaska," replied Mr. Henderson.
"Until we have a chance to explore the region more thoroughly I cannot
even guess the answer to your question."

"And how can we explore it?" demanded Mark, quickly. "If there is no
atmosphere on these mountain tops which we see--or, which we saw before
we fell into this crevasse--we cannot get off this plane. We are
imprisoned on the low ground. The lack of air will keep us from climbing
the mountains."

"Or from flying over them if we can get the _Snowbird_ into commission
again," added Jack. "Every necessity brings its own invention," said the
professor. "Let us not despair. We may yet find some means of traveling
all about this floating island."

"And what will you do if you get to the edge--fall off?" exclaimed
Andy.

He likewise accepted the professor's words at their face value. He
never thought of doubting either the aged scientist's honesty or his
learning.

"If the attraction of this fragment holds good here, it will hold good
all over its surface," proclaimed the professor. "We have no means yet
of weighing this torn-away world we are on--this new planet. But it
must be of considerable size. Otherwise it would not hang here in space
as it does."

"And without movement?" cried Jack.

"I believe it is circling the earth as the earth circles the sun. We
are practically on a second moon--only the fires in the heart of our
young planet are not dead."

"I should say they were not dead, if that geyser Mr. Roebach opened up
is any sign of life," remarked Mark.

"You are quite right, my boy," said the professor, cheerfully. "The
volcanic disturbance brought about great earthquakes. These, however,
were merely warning symptoms. We did not know it, however. Finally the
great mass of gas formed beneath the earth's crust somewhere about the
Alaskan coast of the Arctic Ocean, we will say, exploded and forced
an enormous portion of the crust into the air.

"No wonder we lost consciousness," he continued, with enthusiasm. "We
were probably traveling faster than human beings ever traveled before.
The entire nature of the portion of the earth we stood upon was
changing. Our atmosphere was changing. We were shot into the sky and
in a flash were beyond the common influence of what we call the law
of gravitation."

"But what a hole we must have left in that part of the world!" gasped
Jack. "Think of it! The seas must have run right into the chasm and
made the bottoms of the old seas dry land."

"Not at all! Not at all!" returned the professor. "Think what a mighty
globe the earth is. Remember that there are valleys miles
deep--mountains miles high! There are holes in the ocean which have
remained unfathomed to this day! The surface of the earth is very,
very rough. What keeps the oceans from overflowing the land and filling
all those sinks and valleys that are deeper than the ocean bed? Merely
the power of attraction which the earth exercises.

"Suppose explorers hurry to the scene of the great earthquake--to the
edge of the vast crater which the blowing-out of this portion of the
earth has left. What will they find--a hole filled with the waters of
the Arctic Ocean?"

"And why not?" demanded Jack, stoutly.

"Because the evidence of our own eyes assures us that such is not the
case," declared the professor, pointing again to the rolling planet
they had so strangely left. "The earth is not overbalanced. She still
rolls on her proper course, I have no doubt. The breaking away of this
island is not a serious matter to the earth as a whole. The contour
of the hemispheres is not changed. I showed you how I had traced the
outlines of the continent before, even, that I was confident we had
been blown off the earth.

"No. Those who explore the region which we have left will find hills
and valleys as before--awful crevasses, perhaps, and steaming cauldrons
of water and mud. No vegetation, of course, but snow has perhaps fallen
on some parts of the raw scar, and those explorers may be able to
travel through a region that was--a week ago--the bowels of the earth!

"The foundation rocks of the earth are left raw and exposed, as they
may be after some terrific land-slip. But nothing more. We sail here
high above the earth----"

"Looks like we were _below_ it now," muttered Mark.

"But if we have been observed from the earth--and of course those
great telescopes at the Lick Observatory have found us out ere this--we
will appear above her," said the professor. "Many things about this
strange happening we may only guess at. Of one thing we are sure--we
have air to breathe, water to drink, there are wild animals to kill
for food, vegetation exists; we are, in fact, upon a miniature world
which is not much different from that we have left--as yet, at least."

"All that sounds mighty fine," interrupted Phineas Roebach. "And I
expect you believe it all, Professor Henderson. But there's just one
thing that _I_ believe: We're down here, two hundred feet or more
from the top of this ice wall, and the game, or the vegetation, or
anything else, isn't going to help us much while we're here. What I
want to know is: How are we going to get out of this crevasse?"




CHAPTER XVIII

IMPRISONED IN THE ICE


The oil hunter's demand was like a bomb thrown in their midst. The
boys had been so deeply interested in the professor's relation of
facts, and in the scientific phase of their situation, that the more
practical questions of their mere existence on this island in the air
had not before held their attention for long.

"We've got to find some way of climbing out, I reckon," Mark said,
slowly.

"Well, find it!" snapped Phineas Roebach. "Let's talk of something
practical. We'll freeze to death down here very soon, if we don't
starve first."

"Very true," said the professor. "Mr. Roebach is eminently practical.
We must give our attention to the immediate peril that menaces us."

At this moment Andy came forward with two hatchets and an axe.

"These are the things we want, I guess," he said, quietly. "We've got
to chop steps in the wall, and climb up in that way." "And abandon all
our instruments--and the telescope?" exclaimed Professor Henderson.

"And the _Snowbird_?" added Mark.

"We can hoist all the small things up to the top of this wall--if we
can get up there ourselves," said the old hunter.

"Right you are, Mr. Sudds," declared Phineas Roebach, with vigor.

"But the flying machine?" queried Jack. "It seems too bad to let it
go."

"We won't let it go, Jack," declared Mark.

"Andy is right, boys," said the professor. "Let us first make our own
escape sure. Then, if it be possible, we will hoist the flying machine
as well as the instruments and our remaining provisions out of this
chasm."

"I'm afraid we'll never be able to hoist the _Snowbird_," said Jack,
sadly. "I reckon we'll have to say good-bye to it."

"Don't lose heart," repeated Professor Henderson. "Lead the way, Andy.
Let us try chipping the ice away."

Cold it indeed was down there in the maw of the ice-field; but Wash
made some more hot drink and the hunter and the oil man went at the
ice-wall with vigor. They chipped out good, wide steps, two feet apart,
two working together, and mounting upward steadily. The lightness of
their bodies aided not a little in the speed at which they worked.
Before an hour had passed they were forty feet above the shelf on which
the crippled flying machine rested.

By that time the earth had rolled out of sight and the moon itself had
paled into insignificance. There was a bright glow in the sky and the
party knew that the sun had risen into view. Deep down as they were
in the cavity, they soon felt the difference in the temperature. For
several days it had been cold on the earth; but now the sun's heat
seemed to strike more directly upon the island in the air.

The wall of ice on the other side of the crevasse began to glisten,
and soon streams of water were trickling down it, falling with a gentle
murmur into the abyss. The workers threw off some of their heavy
clothing. The sun's rays began to creep down the other wall, and the
ice melted rapidly.

Jack and Mark took the places of Andy Sudds and Mr. Roebach with the
hatchets. The ice on this side of the chasm was still cold and brittle,
but the sun was mounting very rapidly toward the zenith and the
trickling rills upon the opposite wall of the crevasse became torrents.

"We are in serious danger," Professor Henderson warned them. "Since
being shot off the world, we have begun a course around our parent
planet which brings this portion of the island, at least, in much
closer juxtaposition to the sun than Alaska ever was before. I fear
that the heat will become tropical in due season."

"And this whole glacier will melt?" cried Mark, jumping to that
conclusion instantly.

"Not all at once, we will hope," said the professor. "If the length
of the day on this island in the air was as long as the earth's day,
the sun might melt the ice so rapidly that we would be washed off this
wall and drowned in the abyss."

"Gollyation! We's done for den, fo' suah!" groaned Washington White.

"But the island will doubtless circle the world in such a way that the
sun will only strike upon us directly for a few hours at a time--the
entire circuit we make around the world may be of considerable duration;
but the sun will shine directly upon us--at the rate those rays are
traveling down that opposite wall--for only a short time. Do you see?"

The boys had resigned their turn at the chopping and returned to the
shelf by now. Again Andy and Mr. Roebach were high above their heads,
clinging to the slippery wall.

For the ice on this side, while it was in the shade still, was becoming
moist. The heat of the day was intense. Down the opposite wall of the
crevasse tumbled a sheet of water which fairly hid the ice itself.
Occasionally huge blocks of the melting crystal were broken off by the
action of the water and fell into the chasm with thunderous crashes.
There was good reason for the party being worried over their situation.

The heat increased and over the edge of the wall they sought to climb
the water began to pour. Andy Sudds and the oil man were driven down
from their perch. The sun appeared, blazing directly down into the
crevasse and the melted ice rained in torrents about them, falling
upon the _Snowbird_ as though a heavy rainstorm was in progress.

They fled to the roofed cabin to escape this downpour. But they were
fearful that at any moment the flying machine, resting so insecurely
upon the shelf of ice, would be washed into the depths.

A terrible hour followed. The heat became torrid. The splashing of the
water and thunder of huge pieces of ice falling into the crack almost
deafened them.

Just as the sun had crossed the narrow arc above the crevasse there
came a thunderous roar. Used as they had been for some hours to
explosions of sound, this one made all tremble. The ice-wall seemed
to crack and stagger from base to summit. The flying machine shook as
though it were about to take flight. But they all knew that the only
flight it could take was to the bottom of the abyss.

The thunder of falling ice continued for some minutes. A mighty
avalanche had fallen into the depths. But whether it had fallen from
their side of the crevasse or from the other, they could not at the
moment tell.

The sun was out of sight. Its rays, however, still played upon the
wall above their heads, while from the lower part of the gulf there
rose a steam, or fog, which wrapped the flying machine around and
smothered all in its embrace.

The light disappeared from above. The heat of the torrid sun departed.
The chill of the fog bit in like a knife. They were glad in an hour
to get into their furs, and there remained shivering in the damp, cold
fog, while the streams of water which had poured down the ice-wall
congealed again into the hardest of crystal.

Roebach and Andy possessed themselves of two storage battery lamps and
went cautiously to examine the wall up which they had climbed for more
than a hundred feet.

It was now as smooth as glass!

The wash of the falling water had worn away the ice so that the steps
of their ladder had disappeared. The work they had done toward escape
had gone for naught.

They were just as much prisoners of the ice now as they had been when
first the _Snowbird_ had settled upon this ledge in the crevasse.
And now they lost hope. There seemed no possibility of their escaping
from the gulf by cutting their way out.




CHAPTER XIX

A NIGHT ATTACK


It was the aged scientist who again put heart in the party when Andy
Sudds and Phineas Roebach brought back the report of this catastrophe.

"We must not give up hope," declared Professor Henderson, cheerfully.
"We have lost what work has been done on the ice-wall, it is true. But
we can begin again."

"And of what use will that be?" demanded Mark Sampson. "The sun will
melt away the ladder again."

"We have many more hours of night here than we have of daylight--you
can all see that, eh?" said the professor.

"The sun seemed to shine on us not more than six hours," admitted Jack.

"Less than that, I believe. The rays were not hot more than four and
a half hours. If we begin our work of cutting steps the moment the
heat of the short day departs, we will be able, I am convinced, to get
to the top of the ice cliff."

"You're wrong, Professor," said Roebach. "This ice is spongy even
now--at least, a good deal of it is. We can't make secure footholds
in that wall. We're beaten, I tell you--beaten!"

"No. Only balked in one way. There are other means of escape," declared
Professor Henderson.

"I'd be glad to have you tell us what those means are," cried the oil
man. "I've racked my brains to think of some other way of getting out.
I'm beaten, I tell you!"

"We will not give up so easily," insisted Professor Henderson. "There
is no sense in that. We must struggle on. Wait until this fog is
dissipated. It will soon rise, for the air is becoming extremely cold
and the fog cannot long endure the frost."

They were indeed suffering much from the increasing cold. The
change--and so sudden a change--from the tropical heat of the short
day to the bitter cold of this ice-gulf was hard to bear.

The fog thinned perceptibly three hours after the sun had set. Meanwhile
all but Jack and Washington White had piled up in the cabin for some
much-needed sleep. Jack's wounded hand would not let him rest, so he
offered to keep watch, while the black man had been reposing most of
the time in which Andy and the oil man had dug so strenuously at the
cliff.

"Disher proves, Massa Jack, how contrariwise disher world do go," Wash
grunted. "Here we starts out ter hunt fo' dat Dr. Todd's chrysomela
bypunktater plant, an' we don't find it, but nothin' but
trouble--lashin's ob trouble! I'se nigh erbout descouraged ober de
perfesser. He suah do lead us all inter sech tribbilations. I done
lose heart 'bout him."

"Oh, I wouldn't," said Jack. "The professor can't help it if an old
volcano comes along and blows us off the earth. You can't really blame
him for that, Wash."

"Well, now," said the darkey, "if he hadn't taken us so far away from
home, it wouldn't have happened. We don't nebber have no earfquakes,
nor no volcanoes in Maine. It's against de law, I reckon--like sellin'
gin. No, sah I disher awful catastriferous conglomeration ob
fortituitous happenings dat's put us where we is right now would nebber
hab got at us if we'd minded our own business an' stayed to home. No,
sah!"

"There may be some truth in what you say--barring your use of the big
words, Wash," admitted Jack Darrow. "But we certainly can't blame the
old professor for any freaks of Nature that may happen."

"No. But I hasn't gotter encourage him in disher foolishness ob runnin'
up an' down de world, huntin' fo' new t'ings. I don't like new t'ings,"
declared Wash. "Looked disher now! Whoeber said Washington White wanted
ter transmogrify hissef to a new planet? Nobody, not dat I hears on."

"I reckon we none of us had much choice in the matter," returned Jack,
with a sigh.

"Glory! Dar's dat moon again!" cried Wash, suddenly.

"No; it's the earth in sight," returned his youthful companion. "The
mist is being dissipated, just as the professor said. Let's go out and
look about."

"We done wanter be mighty careful walkin' on dis ice," admonished the
darkey. "It jest as slippery as it kin be."

Which was true enough, as Jack found the moment he stepped down upon
the shelf from the flying machine frame. Where the ice had melted and
then its surface had congealed again, it was as smooth as a mirror.
The reflected light from the huge globe that now began to traverse the
small arc of their heaven gave them plenty of light. They could see
down into the green depths of the crevasse, but not far along the shelf
on which the _Snowbird_ rested, in either the one direction or the
other.

"Whar you goin', Massa Jack?" demanded Wash, as the boy started away
from the flying machine toward the nearest wall of rock that shut in
the glacier. "I want to see what lies beyond that turn," replied the
youth. "Perhaps we may learn something to our advantage by exploring
a bit."

Washington White followed him very cautiously. Before he came to the
turn himself, Jack had rounded it. The next moment the darkey was
startled by a yell from Jack.

"Fo' de goodness gracious gollyation sakes!" bawled Wash. "What done
gone an' disturbed de continuity ob your sagastuations? Yo' done
frighten me inter a conniption fit if yo' hollers dat way."

Here he rounded the turn himself and almost bumped into Jack. Even the
darkey's volubility was stilled at the sight before them.

A great part of the wall of the crevasse--the wall which they had hoped
to climb, had broken off and fallen into the gulf. A wide crack, or
gully, was opened in this side of the chasm, leading in an easy slope
to the surface of the glacier.

Although their attempt to reach the surface had been foiled, here was
a way which the sun, melting the ice and causing a great avalanche,
had made for them. It was plain that all could easily mount to the top
by this sloping gulch.

Jack dashed back to announce the discovery and Wash came after him,
intent upon seeing that Buttsy was carried, in his well wrapped-up
coop, out of the crevasse. The youth awoke his friends instantly and
in ten minutes all had taken a look at the way of escape and
preparations were at once made for departure from the flying machine.

Everybody save the professor was laden with stores or instruments, or
extra clothing and blankets, as they filed away from the crippled
_Snowbird_. The two youthful inventors and builders of the flying
machine bade good-bye to her with full hearts. It was not a certainty
that they could recover the flying machine, and Jack and Mark felt
pretty bad about it.

The first thought of all, however, was centered in standing once more
upon the surface of the glacier. The fact that the upper part of the
ice field might move at any time, and the crevasse be closed while
they were held in it, had troubled them all.

In half an hour, however, all that danger was past. Other perils might
immediately face them; but the chance of being snapped between the
jaws of ice was no more to be feared.

The golden ball of the earth, around which the island in the air was
following its orbit, gave them plenty of light as yet, for the sun was
still in such a position that its light was reflected from the earth
upon the fast-traveling island in the sky.

The party, shaking with cold now, for the night was really arctic in
temperature, made for the nearest morainial deposit where trees grew,
under the shelter of the cliff which rose so high above the face of
the glacier. As the river of ice had pushed its way downward during
the past ages, it had scraped earth and stones from the walls of its
bed, and this deposit, falling on the ice, had given root to trees and
shrubs, while grass had sprung up and birds had doubtless nested there.

"They are like the oases in the desert," Mark said.

"They will afford us shelter and firewood," the professor added.

And in short order they were encamped in a clump of fir trees with a
huge fire of dry branches burning before them, its warmth diffused
over the whole party.

This grove of sturdy trees was backed close against the base of the
cliff, and the rocky wall was sheer, mounting at least eight hundred
feet above their heads.

"I suppose no life could exist higher than this cliff, eh, Professor?"
Jack Darrow asked, as they became comfortable in the fire's warmth and
threw back their fur wraps.

"I am not sure of that, Jack," returned the scientist. "From our
experience in the _Snowbird_, since the eruption that threw us off into
space, and while on the higher levels of air, we cannot doubt that at a
thousand feet above this ice, at least, animal life would become
extinct."

"I reckon there isn't much animal life left in these parts now, at any
rate," Andy Sudds said. "I don't see what we're going to do if something
doesn't turn up for food. We're going to be on short commons."

Wash had set his "bird cage," as the oil man called the Shanghai's
coop, within the warmth of the fire, and the rooster evidently felt
the grateful glow of the flames. He had been picking up some corn that
Wash flung him, grain by grain. Now he suddenly stopped, raised his
head, and uttered a loud and apparently frightened squawk.

"What dat?" demanded the darkey, his eyes rolling. "Buttsy hear
sumpin'--he suah do."

"What do you reckon he hears?" queried Jack, idly.

"I dunno dat. But he's some disturbed--yo' kin see it's so," returned
Washington, nervously. "Does yo' hear anything yit?"

"You think he can smell out an enemy, do you?" chuckled Jack.

"He done gotter great head, Buttsy has," declared the black man. "If
dere is anyt'ing prowlin' aroun' permiscuous like, he's de boy to hear
'em--yes, sah!" "By the same token it was a flock of geese that saved
Rome," Mark said.

Wash had his back to the thick clump of firs. Jack was facing him.
Suddenly the boy, raising his eyes to look across the fire at the
darkey, beheld a huge black object rise out of the brush directly in
Washington's rear.

One glance told Jack what the creature was. There was no mistaking the
gleaming eyes, the pointed, slobbering muzzle, and the hairy, yellowish
breast of the gigantic Kodiak bear as it poised its huge body over the
unconscious darkey.

Like a ghost the bear had crept to the camp of the explorers and was
now on the eve of an attack, totally unheralded!




CHAPTER XX

THE HEROISM OF THE SHANGHAI ROOSTER


Jack Darrow was the only person in the group around the campfire who
at first saw the huge bear. And he was so startled that for a breath
he did not know what it was best to do. To shriek out in alarm would
neither save the darkey nor frighten off the bear.

The Shanghai rooster settled down with a half-stifled squawk in the
bottom of his coop. Without doubt the bird saw the bear and realized
that his life was in peril.

"What de matter wid yo'?" demanded Washington, rolling his eyes and
beginning to look scared himself.

Jack's mouth was dry and he had to wet his lips before he could as
much as whisper. Only a few seconds had elapsed since the bear rose
into view behind the darkey; but it seemed to Jack as though an eternity
had passed.

His whispered words were for the old hunter, whom he knew was always
alert.

"Andy! Your rifle!"

The brown claw of the old hunter was never far from the grip of his
gun when he lay before a campfire. Jack saw the hand clamp upon the
weapon even before Sudds rolled over.

"What's up, Jack?" he whispered.

"Behind Wash--quick!"

No need to tell the hunter to be quick. He was on his knees and the
gun was at his shoulder in the twinkling of an eye.

"Come here, Wash--quick!" ejaculated Jack, with sudden inspiration,
and the darkey, used to obeying orders without question, scrambled up
and started toward the boy.

With a roar that brought every other person save the old hunter to his
feet, the huge bear swung both front paws to grab the negro. Wash
escaped the embrace by the breadth of a hair.

Bang! spoke Andy Sudds' rifle.

"Gollyation! I'se done shot!" bawled the darkey, and sprang into Jack's
arms.

The boy hung on to him or perhaps Wash would still be running, he was
so scared. Nor were the other members of the party much less startled.

But Andy Sudds was as steady as a rock. His first ball had hit the
huge beast in the breast, but the latter had plunged forward after the
escaping darkey as the ball struck him. Therefore the wound was too
high up to do serious damage.

A grizzly, or Kodiak, bear has never yet been settled by a single
shot--unless the bullet entering the beast's carcass was explosive.
With a mighty roar the bear plunged forward, right through the fire,
scattering it far and wide and aiming directly for the place from which
the rifle ball had come. It had stung him, and he was after the old
hunter on the instant.

He half fell over the coop which contained the Shanghai rooster.
Irritable as he could be, the bear delayed long enough to strike at
this coop. He smashed one end of it flat, but the Shanghai miraculously
escaped injury.

The bird had undoubtedly been disturbed and frightened by the secret
approach of Bruin; but once free, the feathered creature felt his
dignity disturbed, and finding himself free of the coop, he flew with
a loud squawk at the charging bear.

Andy had pumped two more bullets after his first one. Both had found
their billet in the body of the bear; but neither had struck a vital
spot. The scattering fire, as the beast plowed through the embers,
drove the rest of the party out of range in a hurry. Jack dragged Wash
to one side; but the darkey yelled:

"Gollyation! I wanter save Buttsy! Oh, lawsy-massy! Dat Shanghai suahly
is a reckless bird!"

In the flaring light of the flames the rooster was seen to pounce upon
the shoulders of the huge bear as the latter came down to "all-fours"
and dived at the old hunter. Andy sprang back, collided with a
tree-trunk, and went head over heels. In an instant the bear would
have been upon him and one stroke of his sabre-like claws would have
finished Andy Sudds.

But the rooster certainly did delay the bear's charge. The brute struck
at his feathered tormentor with first one fore paw, and then the other.
He failed to dislodge his enemy by such means.

And then a big ember behind him snapped and a part of the flaming
branch fell upon the ground just where Bruin put his hind paw upon it.
Plowing through the blaze in a hurry was one thing--_this_ was an
entirely different proposition.

Bruin uttered a roar of pain and turned to bite at the stung paw. As
he swung his huge body about, the blood now spouting from his jaws--for
one of the bullets had punctured a lung--Andy came into position again,
with the muzzle of his rifle less than ten feet from the hairy side.

Bang!

An answering roar of rage and pain followed the shot. The beast tried
to whirl again, but fell instead. The rooster fled, squawking, into
the bush.

The huge bear struggled on the ground for some moments before anybody
dared approach. It was Wash who first dashed in and planted a foot
upon the dead beast's neck.

"See wot dat Shanghai done?" he cried. "Wot you gotter say now ter
Christopher Columbus Amerigo Vespucci George Washington Abraham Lincoln
Ulysses Grant Garibaldi Thomas Edison Guglielmo Marconi Butts?"

"I got to take off my hat to the rooster," Andy Sudds said, quietly.
"If it hadn't been for him that bear would have had me as sure as
shootin'!"

"Butts is a hero--no doubt of that," gasped Jack Darrow, when he could
get his breath.

The others--even Professor Henderson--were greatly excited by the
incident and delighted by its outcome. Here was fresh meat in abundance,
to say nothing of a fine blanket-robe, if they could take the time to
stretch and "work" the hide. Andy promised to do that the next day if
they would camp where they were long enough.

Meanwhile the bear was skinned and certain steaks cut off for immediate
consumption, while the bulk of the carcass was cached under some blocks
of ice on the glacier. Andy was for smoking some strips of meat over
the rebuilt fire.

"You see, Professor, it's so hot in the daytime here, and so cold at
night, that pemmican is about the only kind of meat that will
keep--unless it's canned. We'll eat what we can of the fresh bear
steaks; but these strips will be all right smoked a long time after
the fresh meat has become too strong for anything but a buzzard," quoth
the hunter.




CHAPTER XXI

MARK ON GUARD


After the hearty supper, and the excitement of the bear-killing, they
were all more or less ready for bed. The professor figured that the
sun would not appear again to the Crusoes on this island in the air
for quite fourteen hours. They all ought to get sufficient sleep before
that time. The havoc wrought by the rays of the torrid sun upon the
glacier had been apparent as they came over it to this fringe of trees
at the base of the cliff. It might be necessary for them to move quickly
from the ice to save their lives.

"We can afford to spend some hours in rest, and will start with bodies
refreshed, at least. Now we will divide the watches," suggested the
scientist.

But the others would not hear of the professor going on guard. Andy
declared for the first watch, for he had to 'tend his "jerked" bear
meat. And following him the die fell to Mark. The old hunter awoke the
youth some four hours after the camp had become quiet for the night.

The earth was then hanging low on their horizon, while the moon was
climbing up from the east, the reflected light of both orbs flooding
the surface of the ice-field.

Mark came out of his warm nest yawning like a good fellow, and the old
hunter said to him:

"Take that axe yonder and cut some wood for the fire. Keep up a good
blaze and that will keep us comfortable as well as keep you awake. I
don't want you to go to sleep, Mark."

"Who's going to sleep?" cried Mark, much abused.

But he had to confess to himself that he _was_ mighty drowsy when
he had finished cutting up the wood a little way from the camp. He
took a turn or two, replenished the fire, and then backed up against
a sheltering tree-bole and blinked at the dancing flames.

Sleep overtakes one suddenly and strangely at times. Without intending
to even close one eye, Mark was off into dreamland with a promptness
that was surprising. He settled back against the tree and slept standing
up. But his neglected duty troubled his subconscious mind. He was
uneasy. In his dreams he was troubled by nameless dread. He awoke at
last seemingly with a scream of human agony in his ears.

Had something happened to his comrades during his brief defection?
Mark sprang erect and looked over the sleeping camp. Every person was
in his place, but the fire was low. It had been, perhaps, an imagined
sound that aroused him so suddenly.

He threw more wood on the fire and stepped out upon the ice to get
more of the fuel he had previously cut into handy lengths. This
morainial deposit which offered rootage for the trees and bushes was
but a narrow streak--a sort of an island on the glacier. They had
carried the bear meat out to a small sink in the ice where there were
great slabs of the hard crystal which were easily packed over the meat.
As Mark started for the wood he heard a noise out on the ice in the
direction of their cache. He picked up his rifle again quickly and
started for the spot. Something was disturbing the meat, and Mark did
not lack courage. His rifle was loaded and, thanks to Andy, he was a
good shot. The old hunter took pride in training the boys to shoot
well.

The youth did not stop to ask what manner of enemy it was disturbing
their cache. And it never entered his head to disturb the camp. He ran
right out upon the glacier and had advanced to within a few yards of
the spot before he learned what he was up against, for a huge block
of ice hid the cache from his view.

Around this ice-block, from either side, as though they had been waiting
purposely to ambuscade him, shot several animals, who charged him
without as much as a whine.

"Dogs!" thought Mark, remembering the Alaskans that Phineas Roebach
had been forced to abandon. "They have gone mad."

But the next moment he saw his mistake. They were wolves--huge, gaunt,
shaggy fellows, with gaping jaws displaying rows of ferocious teeth.
They charged him in awful silence, their great claws scratching over
the ice.

There were eight or ten of them in sight and they were only a few yards
away from the youth when he first saw them. But instantly Mark dropped
to one knee to steady himself, put the rifle to his shoulder, and
opened fire.

Four shots he placed in quick succession. Two of the wolves rolled
over and over upon the ice, and a third limped off after the remainder,
who darted behind the ice-block again. Mark leaped up, uttering a shout
of triumph, and followed them, believing that he had beaten the pack
thus easily.

But the moment he came around the obstruction he found himself in the
midst of the actual pack. He was not charged by a dozen of the fierce
creatures, but by more than half a hundred.

The wolves had raided the cache already, having torn away the blocks
of ice, and were feasting on the half-frozen bear meat. Mark did not
think at that moment of driving them away, however; he wanted to get
away himself.

His shots had aroused the camp, although he was some distance from it.
But when his friends ran out upon the ice they did not see him, and
nobody for the minute suspected what had happened or where the youth
had gone. The two bodies of the wolves were not at first sighted.

Mark did not have a chance to use his rifle again. The wolves seemed
to rush him from all sides, and a huge gray fellow leaped against him,
knocking the rifle from the lad's grasp and rolling him over and over,
half stunned, upon the ice.

By marvelous good fortune none of the savage beasts followed him for
the moment. The wounded wolf took up their attention. They pitched
upon him and before Mark could rise to his feet the savage brutes had
torn their wounded comrade limb from limb.

The ice was stained crimson and their slobbering jaws ran blood. A
more terrifying sight the youth had seldom seen. He could not reach
his rifle, and the bulk of the pack was between him and the way he had
come. He therefore leaped away in the other direction, running from
instead of toward his friends.

He passed through the thinning pack without being touched, although
several of the beasts snapped at him and the clashing of their fangs
sent cold chills up and down his spine. Then he leaped away at top
speed across the ice.

It was a natural move, but a very unwise one. The wolves tore their
comrade to pieces and bolted the pieces in about sixty seconds. Then
they wheeled en masse and shot off across the glacier after the boy.

Mark ran about as fast as he had ever run before. Fortunately he had
spurs in his boot-soles and therefore he did not slip on the ice. But
suddenly he found that he was crossing a smooth sheet of new ice--the
surface of a lake in the glacier. This lake had frozen after the sun
went down and Mark felt the new ice bend under him as he ran.

The moonlight revealed his path before him plainly; but the now yapping
pack behind took up so much of his attention that Mark did not take
a careful view of the surface of the thinly frozen lake.

The leaders were all but upon him in a very few moments. As the first
wolf leaped, Mark threw himself sideways and ran off at a tangent,
holding his feet much better than did the brutes. They went scratching
along the smooth ice for some yards before they could change their
course.

The turn, however, put Mark in a serious position. He found the thin
ice cracking loudly under his feet. He glanced ahead. There was a
streak of open water.

He tried to turn again, but this time his spurs slipped. He went down
on the ice. The first two wolves were a-top of him and one seized his
arm. But luckily it was protected by his thick coat sleeve.

Then the wolves darted back from the prone, sliding body of the boy.
They saw their peril; Mark could not help himself.

With a shriek and splash he was struggling in the deadly cold water
of the lake. He plunged beneath the black surface while the yapping
pack halted upon the very verge of the broken ice.




CHAPTER XXII

THE WOLF TRAIL


The hole into which Mark fell was not many yards across; but when he
came to the surface of the icy water he found that the edge of the
strong ice was fringed with open jaws and lolling, blood-red tongues.
The wolves had surrounded the open bit of water and were prepared to
welcome him with wide jaws wherever he sought to climb out.

The lad knew well enough that he was helpless against these foes. To
seek to reach the ice would be to give himself up to the savage brutes.
Nor could he remain long afloat in this ice-cold water. He was already
chilled to his very marrow.

Mark was in a perilous position indeed. He could bear up but a few
moments. He knew that if he again sank beneath the surface he would
never rise again.

And so he struggled mightily to keep his head above water. The wolves
did not dare leap in to seize him; they did not have to. In their
canine minds they probably knew that the boy would have to come to
them. But fortunately for Mark the wolves had given tongue when they
chased him over the ice. Otherwise the boy's friends might not have
been warned of his predicament until too late to be of assistance to
him.

But the moment the wolves gave tongue Andy Sudds had started with a
whoop for the cache of bear meat. Jack and Phineas Roebach followed
with their weapons.

Coming in sight of the slavering pack, as they whined about the open
water-hole in the lake, Andy advised his companions as to the situation
and they deployed so as to shoot into the pack of wolves without sending
their bullets in the direction of the half-drowned Mark.

All using magazine rifles, they were enabled to send such a fusillade
into the wolves that the pack was scattered in a few moments. Then
they ran on to the edge of the broken ice, finding at least a dozen
dead brutes lying about the water-hole.

Jack lay down and reached his gun barrel out to his chum and by its
aid Mark got to the edge of the ice and scrambled out of the water.
They ran him back to the campfire in short order and then Andy set out
to make a second attack upon the wolves, the pack having returned to
eat up their comrades.

However, the beasts had already been punished enough. They could not
stand before the old hunter, and ran howling down the glacier.

"One thing about it," Andy Sudds said, "we can make up our minds there
is an outlet from this field of ice in that direction. To escape we
have only to follow the wolf trail."

They were not in shape to travel at once, however. Jack's hand pained
him frightfully after his work in helping Mark escape from the water,
and Mark, himself had a serious chill before sunrise. Treated by the
professor, however, the youth quickly recovered from his plunge into
the lake.

But it was decided, nevertheless, to wait over another of the short,
torrid days before leaving the trees, for the traveling by night would
be much more practicable. So they were leisurely eating another meal
of bear steak when the sun touched the horizon with rosy light.

The dawn broke in what Jack termed "record time," and Washington White
gave vent to his surprise in characteristic language:

"I done seed de sun rise in eb'ry clime, f'om de Arctic t'rough de
tropical to the Antarctic kentries. But de speed wid w'ich disher sun
pops up is enough ter tear de bastin 't'reads loose from de Universe--it
suah is! I finds mahself," continued Wash, reflectively,
"circumnavigatin' ma mind to de eend dat disher 'sperience we is all
goin' t'rough is a hallucination ob de brain. In odder words, we is
all climbin' trees an' makin' a noise like de nuts wot grows dere. Do
you hear me?"

"We hear you," said Jack. "And if you think you're crazy, all right.
I don't feel like joining you in the foolish factory yet awhile."

"I more than half believe the darkey's right," muttered Phineas Roebach.
"This experience is enough to turn the brain of any man. I don't myself
believe half the things we are seeing."

The heat of the sun, as soon as it had well risen, was a fact that
could scarcely be doubted, however. They were glad to seek the shade
of the fir trees, and the surface of the glacier began to melt with
a rapidity that not only surprised, but startled them.

A flood of water, like a great river, began to sweep by the narrow bit
of earth on which they were encamped. The roar of the falling water
into the crevasse from which they had so fortunately escaped soon
became deafening.

They all had to remove their outer garments. The smell of the heated
fir branches was like the odor of a forest on a hot August afternoon.
Professor Henderson watched the melting of the ice with a serious face.
When Mark asked him what he thought threatened their safety, the old
scientist replied:

"I _am_ serious, that is true, my boy. I see in this terrible heat the
threat of a great and sudden change in this glacier. We must start as
soon as the freeze comes on to-night, and travel as fast as we can
toward the far end. Mr. Roebach knows the trail, I believe?"

"I've been over it several times; but I must say that the glacier has
sunk a whole lot since I was across it before," the oil man declared.

"We can follow the wolves," said Andy Sudds, stoutly. "They knew their
way out."

"That is true, we will hope," Professor Henderson said. "For I must
state that I believe our peril is very great."

"How so, sir?" Jack queried.

"We do not know how soon this glacier may move on."

"Another earthquake?" cried Mark.

"Oh, gollyation! I suttenly hopes not," wailed Wash.

"No. I do not think we need apprehend any further seismic disturbance.
Such gaseous trouble as there is in the heart of this island will find
escape--if I do not mistake--through Mr. Roebach's oil well."

"Then what is troubling you, sir?" queried the boys in chorus.

"The knowledge I possess of the nature of glaciers leads me to fear
this peril," replied the aged scientist. "Under the immediate conditions
this vast river of ice may move forward at any moment."

"Impossible, I tell you!" interrupted Phineas Roebach. "I tell you
this is a 'dead' glacier. It has not been in motion for ages. I have
seen the face of it at the lower end of this valley. There is only a
small stream of water trickling from under it, and the forest has grown
right up to the base of the ice wall."

"And how big a stream do you suppose is flowing from beneath the glacier
now, and working its way toward what was once the Arctic Ocean--or
Beaufort Sea?" queried the professor.

"Why--why---"

"Exactly," concluded Mr. Henderson, sharply. "You had not thought of
that. You see this vast amount of water pouring into yonder crevasse?
Water cannot run up hill. It is bound to seek a lower level. It must
force its way down the valley, beneath the glacier, and so stream out
from beneath the ice at the far end.

"Gradually this flow of water is going to wear away the ice--is going
to loosen the entire glacier. And then, suddenly, with no warning at
all, the field will plunge forward--break up, sink, grind itself to
powder against these cliffs! And where will we be?"

"My goodness gracious gollyation!" cried Washington White. "I wants
to git out o' disher right away--me an' Buttsy is ready ter go ter
onct, an' no mistake!"

"What will you do--swim?" queried Jack, pointing to the river that was
now washing the shore of the strip of soil on which they stood--a river
which seemed to stretch the entire breadth of the glacier.

Jack and Mark were deeply impressed by the good sense of the professor's
observations; and both Andy and Roebach were disturbed. They watched
the disintegration of the ice with considerable worriment. It seemed
to melt away much quicker during these hours of sunshine than it had
on the previous occasion when the orb of day shone fully upon the
surface of the island in the air.

The soil they had camped upon began to crumble away, too, for the heat
was insidiously melting the ice under the morainial deposit. At the
time which should be high noon--when the sun was directly overhead in
its course--one end of the patch of soil, forest and all, slumped into
the water with a loud crash, and at once the fierce current tore the
rubbish apart and carried it onward to the brink of the crevasse, into
the maw of which it fell.

"Wash is perfectly right in his statement," Jack Darrow said. "This
is no place for any of us. As soon as the ice freezes up after the sun
sets we must travel as fast as we can after the wolves."

"And I wish we could travel as fast as they can," muttered Andy Sudds.

"I wish we had Mr. Roebach's dogs and sleds," said Mark.

"All right. As long as you're wishing, though, why not wish for the
right thing?" demanded Jack.

"And what is that, Master Jack?" asked the oil man.

"Wish we were aboard the _Snowbird_ and that she was all right. That's
what _I_ wish."

"And I reckon the boy's right," said Phineas Roebach, with a sigh. "As
much as I object to flying through the air, an airship now would be
a God-send indeed."

What bear meat the wolves had not destroyed the water now washed away.
The party had only that which Andy had smoked over the fire. But this
was easily carried and their packs were not heavy when they prepared
to leave the camp as soon after sunset as the frost would allow.

The terrific change from the heat of midsummer to the cold of midwinter,
and all within something near twenty-four hours, was hard indeed to
bear. The professor calculated that the drop in temperature from high
noon was, two hours after sunset, exactly seventy degrees Fahrenheit.

"Human life will become extinct upon this fragmentary planet, if nothing
further happens to it, in a very few years," he said, thoughtfully.
"We are not attuned to such frightful changes."

They had eaten, and had packed their supplies. The earth had long since
appeared again and the radiance she reflected fell softly upon the
ice-field. It glistened like silver, stretching, miles and miles away
before them when they climbed down from the fringe of trees in which
they had encamped, and set out down the glacier.

They traveled carefully at first, for there were sinks in the ice which
had barely skimmed over since sun-down. The thermometer registered 18
above zero, however, and the biting cold was congealing all lakes and
pools very rapidly. Where they tramped through the slush their
footprints froze behind them. In an hour the mercury had fallen ten
degrees more and they were beating their gloved hands across their
breasts to keep up the circulation.

They tramped on at good speed for several hours. Here and there along
either edge of the glacier, were groves of fir trees like the one they
had encamped in. But in places the ice had melted from under and around
these patches of rock and soil and the roots of the trees were exposed,
while the earth had slumped away in small land-slips until nothing but
a heap of debris was left.

The old professor grew weary and Andy insisted upon making camp again
and resting. While they were warming themselves over the fire the old
hunter built, and Wash was boiling some coffee, Jack suddenly beheld
several shining points of light in the little wood on the edge of which
they had halted.

"Look out! We're being watched," he whispered in Andy's ear.

The hunter grabbed his rifle and looked where Jack pointed. At once
he seemed relieved.

"The wolves," he said. "They know their way out of this valley. I don't
want to travel on this ice any longer than I can help."

With a word to the professor, and taking Roebach with him, the old
hunter made a determined charge into the brush at the lurking wolves.
The pack scattered at first, but finding themselves determinedly
followed, and both hunters having been wise enough to take torches
with them (for wolves are very much afraid of fire) the pack finally
gathered once more and trailed away up a narrow path upon the rocky
wall close at hand.

In the white light furnished by the earth-planet Andy counted thirty
and more of the beasts climbing this rugged path. He was sure it was
no mere lair they went to among the rocks, but a path leading out of
the valley altogether. Therefore, when the party was again refreshed,
they took up their line of march, in single file, following the wolf
trail.




CHAPTER XXIII

THE FIGHT AT ALEUKAN


Phineas Roebach knew nothing about this narrow defile through which
the party traveled. But he agreed that they were breaking through the
wall of the glacier on the right side. Aleukan, the big native
settlement, was in this direction.

There seemed to be a narrow crack through this cliff which had guarded
the river of ice. It had never been used by man as a right of way, but
the beasts of the wilderness had used it from time immemorial, as the
marks along the way proclaimed.

The scurrying feet of the wolf pack, were long since out of the way.
But yonder a mountain sheep had been killed by a puma, or other big
feline, and the wolves had picked its bones after the Master of the
Chase had eaten his fill.

Where a little rill of sweet water sprang from between two boulders,
boiling out white sand from the depths of its spring, was the print
of a bear's paw. Many of these marks Jack and Mark saw for themselves;
but Andy was quick to point them out as he led the way up the steep
path.

Their progress was necessarily slow because of the aged professor.
Although the scientist was not the man to retard the party, Andy would
let nobody take the lead but himself, so that he could watch the old
man's flagging steps and call a halt whenever he thought it best for
Mr. Henderson to rest.

"You are babying me, Andy!" ejaculated the professor, with some
irritation.

"You're the most important person in this party, sir," declared the
hunter. "We can lose any other person and not miss him much. But without
you we'd be without a head."

Therefore, when they had clambered through the last steep cut and
reached the farther slope of the cliff, the hunter called a halt and
built a camp, determined to bivouac here although the oil man assured
him that they were now less than twenty miles from Aleukan.

A few hours later they awoke to find the sun rising once more and the
heat of the exposed hillside becoming unbearable. Were it not for the
wonderful clearness of the air they could not have stood the heat at
all. But all agreed that they would better descend the hill to the
forest and so be sheltered from the direct rays of the sun.

The bearing of their extra clothing in this tropical heat was an effort,
and they were all glad to find shelter beneath the huge-limbed trees
at the foot of the slope.

There they lay in the shade and discussed the direction they should
travel from this point. It was not until this time they discovered
that their pocket compasses pointed the north as being in a totally
different direction from what they had supposed. Phineas Roebach had
declared the native settlement of Aleukan to be directly north and
west of the place where he had tapped the mud-spouter. But now, although
he was positive of the contour of the hills and the line of peaks of
the Endicott Range under which Aleukan was established, their compasses
made the direction southwest.

"Not at all strange, sir," said Professor Henderson. "In becoming
detached from the old earth, our new planet was shifted a good bit,
and that which was to the north is now almost west. If, by chance,
this island in the air includes that point on the earth's surface which
once represented the most northerly spot--the North Pole, in fact--it
is the North Pole no longer. The magnetic needle points instead to a
new North Pole, established on this fragment of a planet since it was
shot off into space from its parent world."

Phineas Roebach grunted his disbelief in all this. He could not get
it into his head that they were riding on a piece of the old earth
far, far above that stable planet. He would not believe it. No marvel
of this situation could change his belief. He would not accept the
professor's theory of what had happened to them.

The sun went down again and the frost began to creep after it. Already
the bulk of vegetation about them (save the hardy firs and kindred
trees and shrubs) were black and dead. The change in climate had tolled
the knell of all those plants that had withstood heretofore the rigors
of the Alaskan summer.

"What do you suppose has happened to the _Chrysothele-Byzantium_
herb that Dr. Todd sent us for?" demanded Jack Darrow. "Seems to me
that will be badly frost-bitten by the time we find it; won't it?"

"I fear so, indeed," admitted Professor Henderson.

"Lawsy-massy!" gasped Wash. "Do yo' mean ter tell me dat we ain't gwine
ter fin' dat chrysomela bypunktater plant after all? What fo' did we
come away off here on dis floatin' islan' if we ain't gwine ter git
dat specimen of botanical horrorforbilicalness? I done hoped I could
tell ma friends w'en I returned dat we done was successful, an' cure
some ob dem ob craziness in de haid by applyin' some ob de bypunktater.
If we don't find it, den dey all say we been follerin' a
chimera-infantum--in odder words, dat we needs some ob de bypunktater
our own selfs!"

"You mean," said Jack, seriously, "that they will think we are crazy
if we do not bring home what we were sent for?"

"Dat's wot I done said," grumbled the colored man.

"No, you didn't say it; but you meant it, most likely," admitted Jack.
"And I reckon you are right. It does seem as though we have come a
long way for nothing."

"And no likelihood of our ever getting back!" added Mark, despondently.

But this was out of the professor's hearing. The party was already on
their way again, and the traveling was much easier now. Andy and Roebach
led the way, followed by the professor and the boys, Wash, with his
rooster in a fur bag, following on behind. They covered the twenty
miles to the hilltop which overlooked Aleukan without making more than
one short stop. By that time both the earth and her largest satellite,
the moon, were shining brightly upon this little planet on which our
friends had become marooned.

"Hurrah!" cried Jack. "We are _somewhere_ at last! Do you suppose
those supplies got over from Coldfoot before that last eruption?" "If
the train did not arrive before that time," said Mark, "make up your
mind that it never will arrive. Probably there is no Coldfoot on this
planet."

"There are some natives on hand, at least," said the professor, with
satisfaction.

They indeed saw several men moving about the town; but Phineas Roebach
did not seem at all pleased.

"I don't like that a bit," he declared.

"Don't like what?" asked Andy Sudds, quickly.

"There's always a slather of squaws and children around Aleukan. There
are two white traders here, too--one representing the Hudson Bay Company
and the other working for the French Company. And always a heap of
dogs are in sight."

"What do you suppose is the matter?" Jack queried.

"Don't know," grunted the oil man. "Looks as though the squaws and
young ones had been sent off with the sleds. Why, those fellows are
all armed, too!"

"I expect that the strange happenings have puzzled and frightened the
aborigines," suggested Professor Henderson. "We had better go down
into the town and try to allay their fears."

The hunter and Roebach evidently had their doubts regarding the wisdom
of this move. Yet they had come all this distance for the express
purpose of going into Aleukan. They set out down the trail to enter
the big village of cabins and skin huts.

Suddenly the group of bucks in the principal street of the town turned
and ran shouting toward the little party descending from the heights.
Their actions were extremely warlike.

Then up from a side gulch appeared twice as many other Indians, armed
with spears and guns. Several shots were fired at the party approaching
the town.

"Lawsy-massy!" yelled Washington White. "Disher don't seem like de
us'al 'Welcome to our City' warcry. Dem fellers don't want us nohow!"

"Now we see just how popular we are with the natives of Alaska," said
Jack. "What do you think of it, Mark?"

"I think we're in bad," returned his chum, gripping his rifle nervously.

"Quite remarkable! quite remarkable!" repeated Professor Henderson.

"Back to that bunch o' rocks!" shouted Andy Sudds, who had taken in
the strategic advantages of a position they had just passed, at a
glance.

All saw the wisdom of the old hunter's suggestion. They hurried to the
group of boulders. They made a natural breastwork behind which a few
determined men could hold at bay a horde of enemies--for a time, at
least.

"The Indians are coming right on," cried Mark, excitedly.

"And I see some of my old workmen among them," declared Phineas Roebach.
"That is what is the trouble. Those fellows have got it into their
heads that we are somehow the cause of these misfortunes that have
overtaken this part of the hemisphere."

"You go out and parley with them, Mr. Roebach," suggested the professor.

"You can't parley with them while their 'mad' is up," said the oil
man. "They're charging. Give them a volley--and don't be afraid to
shoot low. They will listen better to reason after they taste some of
our lead."

His final words were lost in the explosion of the guns. All but the
professor fired. He had no weapon. Several Indians fell, wounded in
the legs, for all had taken Roebach's advice and fired low.

With shrieks of rage and pain the Aleuts fell back, and found shelter
for themselves behind trees and rocks. But they were not minded to
give up the fight so easily. They gradually extended their line of
battle until they had our friends completely surrounded. Their desultory
fire, however, did not at first do any damage to those in the fortress,
and the whites replied only occasionally, taking careful aim and winging
an Indian at almost every shot.




CHAPTER XXIV

THE FLIGHT TOWARD THE COAST


Washington White was a good shot, but he did not like fighting. And
he was particularly careful not to show himself above the breastwork
of boulders behind which he, with his companions, were crouching,
holding the Aleuts at bay.

"Disher ain't no place for a'spectable pusson ob color," he muttered.
"Wot do Buttsy an' me want o' shootin'? Wah! Dat bullet chipped de
rock right near ma haid! Ain't dat Injun got no respec' for who I is?"

"I don't believe he knows who you really are, Wash," chuckled Jack,
whose wounded hand was now so much better that it did not keep him
from handling his rifle in a way to make old Andy proud of his pupil's
marksmanship.

"Can dat be a posserbility?" demanded Wash, vainly. "Ain't dey nebber
hearn tell ob me, d'yo s'pose, Massa Jack?"

"I believe they are quite ignorant of who you are," returned Jack,
with gravity.

"But some ob 'em done seed me ober dar at Massa Roebach's camp. Yas,
sah! I reckernize one o' dem Injuns--de short feller behin' dat tree
close up yere. Gollyation! he jest fired dat shot dat come purt nigh
hittin' Buttsy."

"He's trying to kill that Shanghai, Wash," said Jack, wickedly. "That's
what he's trying to do."

"Dat settles it!" ejaculated the colored man, mighty wroth at this
thought. "I ain't goin' ter stan' no sech doin's. Tryin' ter shoot
Buttsy; is he? I'll show him in jest erbout a minute dat nobody kin
shoot at ma Shanghai wid imputation an' git erway wid it--no sah!"

The boys had no idea that he would do so reckless a thing. Wash was
not ordinarily a courageous person. But he was "riled all up" now, and
he feared for the Shanghai's safety.

Up he jumped, threw down his rifle, and agilely leaped the fortification
in the direction of the short Indian who had attracted his anger. He
streaked it across the intervening space so quickly that the startled
enemy did not even fire at him.

But Andy Sudds began firing his magazine rifle as fast as he could
sight her and pull the trigger, and Roebach followed his example. This
volley drove all the Indians to cover and doubtless saved the strangely
reckless negro's life.

Wash reached the cover of the Aleut accused by him of aiming directly
to finish the Shanghai rooster, and before that startled aborigine
could escape, he was disarmed by the black man and dragged across the
intervening space to the fort.

Wash was powerful and could easily do this, for the Indian was not a
heavy fellow. But on the way one Indian had fired at the darkey and
wounded the Aleut in the leg.

"Lemme tell yo'," roared Wash, "I ain't gwine to hab no off-color
critter like disher try ter combobberate ma Shanghai. Dat is ma final
ratification ob de pre-eminent fac's. Does you understand me?"

"We most certainly do, Wash!" declared Jack, when he could speak for
laughing. "And we'll never call you a coward again."

"You have given us a hostage," said the professor. "You have done well."

Wash strutted and preened himself over this praise until another bullet
sang over his head. Then he dropped down flat on the ground and groaned:

"Golly! dat bullet said--jes' as plain as day--'Whar is dat coon?'
D' youse 'speck dat it meant _me_?"

Meanwhile Phineas Roebach had taken the wounded Aleut in hand. He not
only extracted the bullet and bound up the wound, but he made the
fellow explain the situation in Aleukan and tell why the Indians had
attacked the white men. The natives believed implicitly that the white
men in the strange flying machine had brought the awful earthquakes
and storms of ashes, and that now they were burning up the poor Indians
for a part of the day and freezing them the rest of the time.

Believing all the whites in the region leagued together they had at
once driven out the traders at Aleukan. This Indian did not know what
had become of the traders and their assistants. They had started on
dog sleds toward the Polar Ocean.

No train had come in from Coldfoot for a month. Therefore it was plain
that the supplies Professor Henderson had expected to meet him here
would not now arrive. The pass through the Endicott Range was so high
that, so the party all believed, an attempt to cross the mountain range
would result in the death of those who attempted. There was no
atmosphere at the altitude of that pass.

There were no more shots fired after the Indian was brought in by
Washington. The whites talked the situation over and finally the oil
man made the Aleuts an offer through the captive. It was agreed that
if the white men were allowed two sleds and two teams of good dogs,
with provisions for the dogs to last a week, they would instantly set
out on the trail of the departed traders, thus removing their fatal
presence from the vicinity of Aleukan.

This agreement was considered wise by all hands, for they felt the
necessity of joining if possible white men who were more familiar with
the territory than they were. In numbers there would be strength. If
there was to be a war on this new planet between the whites and the
reds, it behooved our friends to join forces with their own kind as
quickly as possible.

The captured Indian was made to accompany the train for two days and
then was freed. The dog teams swept the party over the frozen trail
at good speed toward the Anakturuk River which empties into the
Coleville, which in turn reaches the Arctic Ocean at Nigatuck, in sight
of the Thetis Islands.

Food was very short. Game seemed to have fled from the valleys through
which they passed. The cold at night (the only time they could travel)
remained intense. And that flight toward the ocean shore--or what had
once been that shore--was a perilous journey indeed.




CHAPTER XXV

THE HERD OF KADIAKS


Jack Darrow and Mark Sampson had never experienced so arduous a trip
by dog sled as this. The party was really running a race with
starvation. The terrible frosts of each long night on this island in
the air had killed every species of vegetation the country wide, save
the very hardiest trees and shrubs. The country, which two weeks before
had been verdant as only a northern country can be verdant in late
summer, was now as black as though a fire had swept over it.

Everywhere, too, lay the volcanic ashes that had fallen ere the new
planet had been shot from the earth by the volcanic eruption. It was
indeed a devastated country through which the Alaskan dogs drew them.

They dared not drive the dogs more than twelve hours out of the long
night; but when the word was given to "mush," and the train started,
the party kept up a good speed for those dozen hours.

Andy Sudds and Phineas Roebach took the lead in this journey. They
understood better how to handle the dogs and how to choose the trail.
But, indeed, the trail was pretty well marked for them by the white
traders who had gone before. Their camping sites were marked by a
plenitude of discarded and empty food tins.

The party ahead, in whose pursuit the boys and their friends were,
undoubtedly traveled just as fast as Jack and Mark. And they had a
week's start, according to the Indian who had not been allowed to
return to his fellows until the whites were well along the trail to
the Anakturuk River.

The valley of the river, when they reached it, was a desert. There was
little wonder that most of the game had fled. All herb-eating animals
would have died for want of forage.

"I am not sure," the professor said, gravely, during one of their
campfire talks, "that physical life of any kind can long exist in this
small planet. The vegetation is being rapidly destroyed. Soon the
ground will become like rock. The carnivorous beasts will live for a
while on the more timid creatures, then they will fight among themselves
until the last beast is destroyed.

"There were no great lakes in this Alaskan region when our present
planet was a part of the earth. We do not know how full the streams
may be of fish. There are few birds to be seen, that is sure. I fear
that before many years this will be either a dead and frozen island
floating in space, or it will be absorbed by some other body of the
universe."

"You said, Professor," Jack observed, "that its ultimate end would
either be to fall into the sun, or collide with the earth."

"And that is my belief yet; but I have no means of knowing surely."

"I hope she bumps the world again!" cried Jack. "Maybe we can get off
then."

"It will do a lot of damage when it falls," said Andy Sudds,
reflectively. "Some folks up there in the earth will get hurt."

"Perhaps not," the professor said, hastily.

"How can it be otherwise?" Mark demanded. "This fragment of the world
must be enormously heavy. Cities--counties--whole states will be buried
if we should fall into the earth."

"Not if we came down into one of the big oceans," said Professor
Henderson. "We would probably sink some vessels, and might overwhelm
islands; but if this island in the air is as big as Australia it could
easily fall into the Pacific and do no particular harm to any present
existing body of land--save through the great tidal waves that would
result from such a fall."

"It is an awful thing to think of," cried Mark. "I don't see, no matter
how this awful affair ends, but that we are bound to be overwhelmed."

"We do not know that," declared the professor, with his wonted
cheerfulness. "Never say die. Our safety is in the hands of Providence.
We have not got to worry about that."

"Isn't he a wonder?" whispered Jack to his chum. "We ought to take
pattern by him. Our grumbling and anxiety is a shame."

Yet it was very difficult to remain cheerful under the circumstances
as they then were. Their provisions, even for the dogs, were at a low
ebb. Not a shot at edible bird or beast had they obtained since leaving
Aleukan. And the torrid sun by day and the frost by night were most
trying.

"However," said Professor Henderson, "I have kept a careful account
of the fluctuations of temperature since the catastrophe, and I find
that the mercury does not descend into the bulb so far now as it did
at first. We are circling the earth, as the earth circles the sun. At
present we are turning more toward the sun. It is coming summer. The
sun will more and more heat this torn-away world. I do not believe
that vegetation will start, and I look for nothing but frost during
the hours of the sun's absence. But the cold night is not so intense
as it was at first."

"It's quite cold enough, just the same," Phineas Roebach grunted. "It
was summer a few days ago--the best summer this part of Alaska ever
has. And to jump right into cold weather--midwinter, as ye might say--is
enough to kill us all."

The oil man simply ignored the professor's scientific explanations of
their situation and the changes in their environment. He absolutely
would not believe that they were floating in the air above the earth's
surface.

The trail down the valley of the Anakturuk was fairly smooth and well
defined; when they struck the Coleville--a much wider stream--the shore
was very rugged, and the dogs could scarcely drag the sleds over some
stretches of the route.

The traders who had gone before them were certainly having a hard time.
Our friends traveled very slowly for two days, walking most of the
time. Then they found that the veil of ice that had formed on the wide
stream since the region had become a torn-away world, would bear both
men and dogs; the sun merely made it spongy for a few hours each day,
but did not destroy the ice, which was now three or four inches thick.

Each night when the sun set and the air cooled the water on the surface
of this sheet of smooth ice congealed again, making a splendid course
for skating--had they only possessed the skates. But the sleds slipped
more easily over the ice and the dogs were saved for two or three days
longer. The brutes were almost starved, however, and one of them going
lame, when they were released at a certain stopping place, the others
pitched upon their wounded comrade and like wolves tore the unfortunate
dog to pieces before Roebach could beat them into submission.

Andy Sudds chopped through the ice and set lines for fish; but the
catch was so small that the party could not spare more than the bones
for the dogs. Starvation faced them. Mark was miserably despondent,
and Wash was so lugubrious all the time that he seldom exploded in his
usual pyrotechnical displays of big words. His grain supply for the
Shanghai had completely run out, too, and the colored man divided his
own poor rations with his pet.

"And the rooster's that lean he wouldn't be anything but skin and bone
if we killed and cooked him," Jack wickedly proposed.

Wash looked upon his young friend in extreme horror.

"Eat Buttsy?" he finally gasped. "Why Massa Jack! I'd jest as lief eat
a baby--dat I would!"

But the matter of eating was past the joking stage now. The dogs fell
on the ice and could not get up again. It was a mercy to put them out
of their misery, and this is what Phineas Roebach and Andy did--shooting
each faithful creature through the head and leaving the carcasses for
the wolves which had, all this time, followed the little party at a
respectful distance.

"If wolf meat was fit to eat we'd certainly live on the fat of the
land," quoth the oil man.

"I wouldn't mind meeting a bear--savage as that other fellow was,"
said Andy Sudds.

And before they were through with this adventure they saw all the bear
meat--and that very much alive--that the party ever wished to behold.

First, however, came Mark's invention. They dragged the empty
sleds--after the dogs were killed--for several miles and then went
into camp beside the stream, while the sun rose and warmed them most
uncomfortably.

Roebach suggested abandoning the sleds as they could carry the little
stock of movables they now owned. But Andy was opposed to this as he
feared the professor might break down, in which event they would have
to drag him.

"We must keep one of the sleds, at least," the old hunter insisted.

"I have a scheme," quoth Mark, suddenly. "Why not use the sleds--both of
them?"

"True enough--why not?" scoffed Jack. "Let's keep them to slide down
hill on. Do you realize that the professor says we are still three
hundred miles from Nigatuk and the mouth of the Coleville?"

"That is the reason I suggest traveling by sled instead of dragging
them behind us," said Mark, unruffled. "I've got an idea."

Jack stopped then. When Mark said he had an idea his chum knew it was
probably worth listening to, for Mark possessed an inventive mind.

"We will have to strap the robes and blankets on our shoulders if we
abandon the sleds," Mark Sampson said, quietly. "Let us utilize them
to better advantage and save the sleds in addition."

"How?" asked Phineas Roebach.

"Make sails of the robes and propel the sleds, riding on them, too,"
declared Mark. "Such wind as there is is pretty steadily at our backs.
Why not?"

"Why not, indeed?" shouted Jack. "Hurrah for Mark!"

"A splendid thought, my boy," declared the professor.

Poles were cut for masts and Andy rigged a stout one on each sled,
with cross-pieces, or spars, to hold the blankets spread as sails.
Andy even rigged sweeps for rudders with which to steer these crude
ice-boats. They got off under a fair wind as soon as the river was
passable again, and ran fifty miles straight away without stopping.
This was a great lift toward the end of their journey, and all plucked
up courage. The Shanghai seemed to share the feeling of renewed hope,
and began to crow again.

They were obliged to rest over the sunlit day, as before, for the ice
became covered with a sheet of water an hour after sunrise, and they
were afraid the sled runners would cut through and let them all down
into the stream.

However, they saw very well that--barring some unforeseen accident--they
would be able to reach the mouth of the river before the last of their
scanty food supply ran out. All the way now they looked for signs of
the traders from Aleukan, who had started for the coast ahead of them.
These men, however, seemed to have left the rough path along the bank
of the Coleville, and were either traveling on the ice ahead, or had
struck off into the wilderness.

When they set sail for a second time the heavens, for the first time
since the final cataclysm that had shot them off into space, were
beginning to be overcast.

"There is so great an evaporation while the sun is shining that I am
surprised that we have not had snow before," the professor observed.
"These mists rising from the earth and the bodies of water would become
heavy nightly rains in any other climate. Here they will result, now
that the atmosphere has become saturated with moisture, in heavy hail
storms and much snow. It is nothing more than I have looked forward
to."

The remainder of the party were not so much interested in the natural
phenomena as he, however; they looked forward mainly to reaching some
safe refuge--some place where there were supplies and the fellowship
of other human beings.

The wind increased, but its keenness the party did not mind. They were
only glad that it remained favorable to their line of travel. They
swept down the frozen river at a speed not slower than ten miles an
hour.

The wolves had followed them on the ice, or along the edge of the
river, up to this time. They saw, indeed, a pack of the ugly creatures
on a wooded point ahead of them, at a distance of a couple of miles.
But before the sleds reached this point (which served to hide the icy
track beyond) the wolves suddenly disappeared.

"Something has scared them fellers," Andy declared.

"The traders?" suggested Jack, who traveled with the old hunter and
Mark on one sled, while Roebach, Wash and Professor Henderson sailed
on the other. "Not hardly. Men wouldn't scare them critters so.
Something bigger and uglier than the wolves themselves, I reckon."

To prove how true Andy's guess was, Mark shouted the next moment:

"A bear--two of them! Three! See that crowd of bears, will you? No
wonder the wolves skedaddled."

Several of the huge bears, like the one they had had the fight with
on the glacier, appeared out of the woods and waddled on to the ice.
They had evidently sighted the sailing party, and they roared savagely
and tried to head off the sleds. That they were wild with hunger, there
could be no doubt.

"I have heard the Indians say that, in bad seasons, the bears travel
in packs like wolves, and will attack villages and tear the huts to
pieces to get at the inmates," Roebach said, from the other sledge.

"How fortunate that we are not afoot, then," Professor Henderson
remarked.

The next moment the two sleds shot around the wooded point and the
river below lay before them. The bears were galloping after the party
and shut off all way of escape to the rear.

"Oh, gollyation! Looker dat mess ob b'ars!" shrieked Washington White.

And there was a good reason for the black man's terror. Strung out
across the frozen river, as though they had been waiting for the coming
of the exploring party, was a great herd of Kodiak bears--monsters of
such horrid mien that more than Washington were terror-stricken by
their appearance.

There were more than half a hundred of the savage creatures, little
and big, and they met the appearance of the two sailing sledges with
a salvo of bloodthirsty growls.




CHAPTER XXVI

THE ABANDONED CITY


It was too late for our heroes and their friends to escape giving
battle to the bears. They could not steer the sleds clear of the
monsters, nor could they retreat. There were enough of the savage
beasts in the rear to make this last impossible.

"Come ahead!" yelled Andy Sudds to Phineas Roebach, who guided the
second sled. "Don't stop."

Jack and Mark, with the old hunter, were on the first sled. They were
armed with magazine rifles, and all seized these and prepared to fight
for their lives.

Andy jammed the sweep with which he had been steering between his knee
and the stake at the rear of the sledge, and put his gun to his
shoulder.

"Shoot into the nearest bears, boys," he commanded. "You both take
that big fellow right ahead. Get him down and I'll try to pepper those
on either side."

But the bears were all shuffling across the ice to get at the sailing
sleds. They were fast bunching immediately in the front of their human
enemies.

Jack and Mark obeyed the old hunter's order. They poured their fire
into the huge, shaggy beast that rose on its hind legs before the sled,
and roaring, spread its huge paws abroad ready to seize it and its
human burden.

Fortunately the wind had suddenly increased as the sleds rounded the
wooded point. They were traveling faster. The lead pumped from the
rifles of the two boys spattered against the breast of the great
grizzly, and stained its coat crimson in great blotches. But he stood,
roaring in rage and pain, until the sled was right upon him.

Jack and Mark were forward of the sail, which was hoisted amidships.
The sled was surrounded by the savage beasts, and when it struck the
tottering brute that alone stood in its direct path, there seemed to
be at least half a dozen of the bears on either side, rising on their
haunches in preparation to strike.

The collision almost overbalanced the sled. It certainly overbalanced
the bear, that had been hit by eight bullets from the rifles of Jack
and Mark. And the huge body, lying right across the path of the sledge,
halted it.

"Swing your guns, boys!" bawled Andy. "Jack to the left, Mark to the
right hand."

Our heroes understood this command. They had been in tight places
before with the old hunter, and now they partook of his enthusiasm.

The rifles spattered the lead among the nearest bears. Some of the
creatures fell back wounded. Some were merely enraged the more and,
roaring their wrath, continued to advance.

Meanwhile the old hunter had seized the steering sweep and endeavored
to turn the sled aside. It had rebounded from the heavy carcass of the
bear which had dropped upon the ice before it. Now Andy tried to work
the sled around this obstruction.

The second sled came; on, the professor relieving Roebach at the helm,
and the oil man and Washington White pouring in volley after volley
at the bears. The black man was a good shot and in the excitement of
the battle he forgot to be terrified. His bullets told as well as did
those from the rifle of Phineas Roebach.

And fortunately the aged scientist brought this second sled safely
through the line of bears. The first sled took the brunt of the battle.
When that on which the professor sailed was a hundred yards beyond the
herd of Kodiaks, he swerved it into the eye of the wind and so brought
it to a halt without lowering the blanket that served as a sail. "Come
on back and help' em!" cried Phineas Roebach, leaping out upon the ice.

He started back toward the fight, firing as he went. Wash followed
more cautiously; and when one wounded beast started on a lumbering
gallop in his direction, the colored man uttered a frightened shriek
and legged it back to the professor.

Fortunately just about then the sled on which the boys and old Andy
fought, came through the ruck of the struggle. Andy hacked with a
hatchet the paws from the last Kodiak that tried to seize the sled,
and the two boys continued to pour bullets into the howling, roaring
pack.

They took Phineas aboard the slowly moving sled and so reached the
professor and Wash. Immediately that sled was put in motion and the
party traveled a full mile before they dared halt and take stock of
the damage done.

The bears had given up the pursuit. The ice for yards around had been
crimsoned by the blood of the huge beasts. They could count, even at
that distance, ten dead ones, and many would die of their wounds.

"And we didn't get even a slice of bear steak to pay us for it all!"
groaned Jack.

"Wrong," returned Andy Sudds, proudly, and he held up the two paws he
had severed from the last brute. "Those will give us all a taste of
fricassee--and that same dish will be a welcome one, I declare."

They were not again molested by bears; but looking back when they had
traveled on some distance farther (the river being straight in this
place) they saw a huge pack of wolves gathering on the ice--more than
two hundred at least of the savage brutes--and believed that a battle
royal was in progress between the remaining Kodiaks and the wolves.

"I hope they fight like the Kilkenny cats!" declared Jack, with
emphasis, "And I hope the wolves will be kept so busy picking the bones
of the slain that they will follow us no farther. They are like sharks
at sea. I hate the beasts."

The country they passed as they slid down the river remained all but
deserted. The wind rose and wafted them faster and faster on their
way; but it was plainly bringing them a storm, too.

When the sun rose next time it was behind a thick mantle of mist.
Thunder rolled across the heavens and the lightning glared fitfully.
The heat had been unbearable before the storm, and the downpour of
rain was terrific. The party was washed out of its encampment, and had
it not been that Andy discovered shelter for them in a sort of cavern
under a huge boulder, they would all have been saturated.

The storm ended with a sharp fall of hail. Hailstones as big as duck
eggs fell, and the wind blew so that a portion of the river-ice was
broken up. When the storm ceased the sun was only an hour high and it
was already cold.

There being no dry wood now, the party suffered exceedingly before
they were able to set sail again on the re-frozen river. Quite six
hours elapsed after the cessation of the hailstorm until the ice would
again bear.

The wind had then risen to a gale, and once under way, the sleds were
borne on under closely reefed blankets. They traveled down the stream
at a furious pace--at least twenty miles an hour--and arrived within
sight of Nigatuk. But the appearance of this large and lively town (or
so they had been led to expect it to be) was startling.

Not a house was standing. Most of the ruins were blackened by a
devastating fire. And silence brooded over the place--a silence
undisturbed by a human voice, the bark of a dog, or any other domestic
sound.

The delta of the Coleville River hid the ocean beyond. All they could
see were the ice-bound forks of the stream. And no sign of life appeared
in all that vast region to which they had flown for refuge and food.




CHAPTER XXVII

THE WHALE HUNT ASHORE


The depressing influence of this disappointment could not fail to be
felt by all--even by the old professor. They were without an ounce of
food and had no means of continuing their journey, even had they
possessed an objective point.

Nigatuk was expected to have stores. Whalers as well as Government
ships often touched there. If this torn-away world was to float about
the parent globe for long, Nigatuk might have become a focussing point
for all the inhabitants of the new planet.

But the volcanic eruption, or the earthquakes, had evidently shaken
Nigatuk to bits, and fire had finished what remained after the
earthquakes got through. As for the former inhabitants of the place,
our party could not even imagine what had become of them.

When they went through the wrecked town, however, they found many bones
picked by the wolves. Some of the Nigatuk people had met their death
and the savage beasts had reaped the harvest. They found no signs of
the company of traders whom they supposed they had followed from
Aleukan, far up in the foothills of the Endicott Range. Not a boat was
frozen into the ice at what had once been the wharves at the abandoned
city. That the remaining inhabitants had sailed away after the
catastrophe was at least possible.

"At least, the ocean must be out yonder somewhere," declared Phineas
Roebach, pointing down the nearest estuary of the Coleville.

Professor Henderson did not verbally agree with this statement; yet
he made no objection to the suggestion that the party take up its
journey again toward the sea.

The wind was fitful. They traveled unsteadily, too, tacking back and
across the estuary, because the breeze was so light, and no longer
astern. Ten miles down the mouth of the stream they beheld an island
where huge sheets of ice were piled one upon another, in an overhanging
jumble of ice-hummock, some fifty feet high. And along the edge of
this cliff was a herd of sea lions, that roared mournfully as the sleds
advanced.

"Thank goodness!" exclaimed the professor. "There is meat again."

Andy and Roebach needed no urging to the attack. Nor did the boys.
They disembarked carefully and made a detour so as to get at the rear
of the herd. The sea lion is not a very sagacious beast.

Jack and Mark were on either side of the old hunter and were moving
upon the herd with considerable circumspection, and all had about come
to a place where the rifles could be used effectively, when Jack Darrow
spied something that brought a cry to his lips.

Fortunately both the hunter and Mr. Roebach fired the next instant and
two of the sea lions were hit. The remainder of the herd slid over the
ice-cliff and flopped away at good speed toward a break in the ice
through which they could get into the water.

But Jack began to dance and shout, and Mark was too surprised to even
fire at the herd.

"What under the sun is the matter with you, chum?" exclaimed Mark,
with some asperity. "You're as bad as Washington White."

"Maybe I'm worse," bawled the cheerful Jack.

"You scared off them sea lions, boy," admonished Andy Sudds. "We only
got two of them."

"Don't care if I did," replied Jack. "See yonder!"

The others followed the direction of his pointing arm with their gaze.
Off beyond the headlands at the mouth of the river rose a column of
thick black smoke. It was as big a smoke as though some great forge
or factory was working overtime in that direction.

"Hurrah!" cried Mark, re-echoing his chum's delight.

The entire party was delighted. Yet not knowing who the people were
who made the smoke, nor under what circumstances they would find them,
the dead sea lions were packed aboard the sleds before they continued
their way down the river.

"That smoke lies a good way beyond the mouth of the river," said Phineas
Roebach. "I believe it is on the sea."

"A vessel afire?" proposed Mark.

"It's a fire on a vessel," said the professor, suddenly. "I believe
that is the smoke of the trying-out works on a whaler."

"You've hit it, Professor," agreed Andy Sudds. "It's a whaler for sure.
There's more than _you_, Phineas, hunting for oil up in these regions."

"A whaling ship on this island in the air," murmured Jack. "What will
they do with the whale oil? They will never get back to San Francisco
again."

"We do not know that," said the scientist, gravely.

The last few miles, during which they could not see beyond the high
ice-shod banks of the estuary, were traversed slowly enough. They all
grew anxious to know what the column of black smoke meant.

Finally they came to the open mouth of this branch of the river. The
sight they beheld almost stunned them.

Instead of an ocean, rolling up in great surges upon the beach on
either hand, they beheld a vast sink through which the partly ice-bound
river crawled as far as the eye could see. They knew that this was the
old bed of the Arctic Ocean; but the waters of that cold sea had receded
and left little but ice-bound pools here and there.

"Fo' de goodness gracious sake!" cried Wash. "Does yo' mean ter try
ter mak' me beliebe dat disher place is whar' de great an' omniverous
ocean once rolled? Dat de hugeous salt sea broke its breakers on dem
ice-bound shores? Git erlong, chile! Yo' is tryin' ter bamboozle me,
suah."

"That is where the Arctic Ocean rolled, all right," growled Phineas
Roebach. "I can swear to that. I have been here before. Something has
certainly happened to it."

"I declare!" chuckled Jack Darrow, who could not miss the joke, despite
the seriousness of their situation. "Somebody has removed the ocean
without permission." Behind a great fortress of rock which had once
been an island they saw the same column of smoke. But it was something
nearer to them on the bed of the Arctic sea that more particularly
attracted their attention.

"Look at that thing! That monster!" cried Mark, pointing.

"And there is another!" shouted Jack.

"Whales!" yelled the excited Andy Sudds. "Those are whales as sure as
shooting--there's a school of them here."

And they had no more than made this discovery when a party of men, all
dressed in furs and some dragging great sleds behind them, came out
from behind the pile of rocks which had certainly once been an island
in the ocean.

These new-comers did not see our heroes and their friends, but they
approached the whale stranded nearest to the rocks. This huge leviathan,
like all the others of the herd, was long since dead. The men attacked
him with blubber-saws and axes and began to cut him up in a most
workmanlike manner.

"A whaling ship, sure enough," declared Professor Henderson, who seemed
the least astonished by these manoeuvres. "We will be among friends
soon. And we will hope that the ship--despite the fact that her crew
has come whaling ashore,--will have her keel in deep water." The party
ran their sleds ashore on the right bank of the river at its old mouth.
Then they started at a round pace for the spot in the old bed of the
ocean where the crew of the whaler were cutting up their prize.




CHAPTER XXVIII

ON THE WHALING BARK


It was several miles from the brink of what had once been the polar
sea to the spot where the whalers were at work. Jack Darrow, Mark
Sampson, and their friends found it a difficult way to travel too.

Naturally they had abandoned the sleds. The ice on the stream which
flowed out of this mouth of the Coleville River was so broken that
they could no longer use it as a highway. The bottom of what had once
been the ocean was only partly ice-covered. There were enormous rocks
to climb over, or to find a path around. Reefs and ledges reared their
heads fifty feet and more high. There were sinks, too, in the floor
of the old ocean; but these were mostly covered with ice.

The Arctic Ocean must have receded at the time of the upheaval which
had flung this island into the air so rapidly that many of the sea's
denizens, beside the school of whales, could not escape.

Here, in one big pool, lay frozen in the ice a monster white shark.
It had battered itself to death against the rocks in trying to escape.
Through yonder blow-hole in another pool there suddenly appeared an
enormous bewhiskered head, with great tusks like the drooping mustache
of a soldier.

"A walrus!" exclaimed Jack, recognizing the creature.

"And yonder are seals playing in the open pool," said Mark.

"These pools, or lakes, are still of salt water," said the professor,
thoughtfully. "Ah! what would I not have given to have been on that
headland yonder at the moment the ocean went out."

"Not me! Not me!" cried Phineas Roebach. "I'd gone completely off my
head then, for fair--I know I would!"

"Mr. Roebach is not quite sure now that he isn't suffering from some
form of insanity," said Jack, chuckling.

"Den it suah is too bad dat we nebber kin fin' dat chrisomela
bypunktater plant ter cure him wid," declared Washington White,
dolefully.

"But, by the piper that played before Pharaoh!" ejaculated Phineas
Roebach, at last brought to a point where he _had_ to admit that
no reasonable explanation would fit the conditions confronting them,
"tell me this: What has become of the Arctic Ocean?" "You can search
me!" drawled Jack. "I can assure you, Mr. Roebach, that I haven't seen
it. Have you got it, Mark?"

"The question of what has become of this great sea which once washed
the shore we are now leaving," said Professor Henderson, seriously,
"is a remarkably interesting one. The ocean may have merely receded
for a few miles at the time of the volcanic eruption and earthquake
which threw off this new planet."

Phineas Roebach shook his head at this, but said nothing.

"It may be," pursued Mr. Henderson, "that that part of our old world
that was shot into space did not include much of this Arctic sea. We
may find beyond here," pointing, as he spoke, ahead, "instead of the
receded ocean, no ocean at all. We cannot believe that this island in
the air is spherical like our own old earth. It is a ragged form which
will show on what we may call the _under_ side the very convolutions and
scars made by its breaking away from the old earth. Do you get my
meaning?"

"Yo' suttenly is a most liquid speaker, Perfesser," declared Washington
White. "Yo' was sayin' dat w'en disher new planet broke off de earf,
she slopped over de whole Arctic Ocean."

"Perhaps that puts it quite as simply," said Professor Henderson,
smiling grimly. "The ocean 'slopped over'. It was either left behind
to partly fill the cavity left by the departure of this torn-away world
we are living on, or it has receded into the valleys and sinks upon
the other side of this small planet."

Phineas Roebach threw up both hands and groaned.

"It's as clear as mud!" he cried. "I don't understand a thing about
it."

But the old professor went on without heeding him, knowing that his
pupils, Jack and Mark, were deeply interested in the mystery of this
torn-away world, or island in the air.

"It is a moot question whether or not the weight of the water which
lay in this vast sink, before the eruption, was not needed, and is not
needed right now, for the balancing of this tiny planet we are living
on. Nature adjusts herself to every change more quickly than human
intelligence. How much of the crust of the earth, extending up into
the polar regions, was broken away from our old world, we do not know.
But that it is now perfectly balanced we can have no doubt--that balance
is proved by the fact of the regularity of the recurrence of night and
day."

These and many other observations Professor Henderson spoke as the
party continued its rugged advance over the more or less dry bottom
of the ocean. In two hours the party was observed by the crew of the
whaler at work on the carcass of the great whale. The sailors signaled
to them, and when the boys and their friends drew near, some of the
whalemen ran forward to welcome them.

"More refugees from inland, eh?" exclaimed a rough but cordial seaman,
who proved to be the captain's harpooner and boat-steerer. "We have
some traders from Aleukan already with us."

"Ah!" said Professor Henderson, "we have been looking for them. They
have arrived in safety, then?"

"But nearly frozen," said the boat-steerer.

"And where are the people of Nigatuk?"

"We believe all those not killed or burned in the first earthquake
were taken off by the United States revenue cutter _Bear_. She sailed
for Bering Sea some time before the final earthquake."

"And where is the ocean?" demanded Phineas Roebach.

"It was sucked away in a great tidal wave and left the _Orion_ high and
dry yonder," said the sailor.

It was evident that the sailors had no appreciation of the real
happening. They did not know that they were cut off from the old earth
by thousands of miles of space. "Your bark's name is _Orion_, then?"
queried the professor.

"Aye, aye, sir," said the boat-steerer. "The _Orion_, out o' New
Bedford; the only whaler under sail in these seas, I reckon. Most o'
them that's after the ile is steam kettles," he added, thus
disrespectfully referring to the fleet of steam whalers from San
Francisco.

"But we got 'em all beat, I guarantee," he added, grinning. "We was
chasin' a school of big fellers when the sea sucked out and left us
an' them high and dry. But the skipper says the sea will come back in
good time and mean-times we gits the ile."

Just then the boat-steerer was sending off several sled loads of blubber
to his ship, and Jack and Mark, with the professor and their companions,
accompanied the cargo.

The _Orion_ was a fine big bark and was commanded by an old-fashioned
Yankee skipper of the type now almost extinct. He welcomed the travelers
aboard his ship most cordially, the ship itself all of a stench with the
trying blubber, and overshadowed by a huge cloud of black smoke, for the
fires were fed with waste bits of blubber and fat.

The skipper and crew were literally "making hay while the sun shone,"
for there were more than twenty huge leviathans within a circuit of
ten miles from the bark, and they proposed to have every one of them
before the flocks of seabirds, or the bears, should find and destroy
the stranded creatures.

"We'll fill every barrel and be ready to sail home with our hatches
battened down when the sea comes back," declared Captain Sproul.

"And you are quite sure the ocean will return and float your bark?"
queried the scientist, patiently, for he saw that it was quite as
useless to explain what had happened to this hard-headed old sea-dogas
it was to talk to Phineas Roebach.

"You can bet your last dollar it will come back, Mr. Henderson,"
declared Captain Sproul.

"Why do you think so?" asked the professor.

"Why, the ocean always _has_ been here; ain't it?"

"I expect so--within the memory of man."

"Then it will come back!" cried the skipper of the _Orion_, as though
that were an unanswerable argument.

"But what do you call that up yonder?" asked Professor Henderson,
pointing to the calm-faced earth rolling tranquilly through the heavens,
while her satellite, the moon, likewise appeared.

"We certainly are blessed with moons," said Sproul, nodding. "And
mighty glad of it I be. As the day is so short now, and the sun is so
hot, two moons to work by is a blessing indeed to us whalers."

"And you don't consider that new planet anything wonderful?" Jack
Darrow asked Captain Sproul.

"Not at all. We often see what they call sun dogs; don't we?"

"I have seen such things," admitted the youth, while he and Mark smiled
at the old skipper's simplicity.

"That double moon is like that, I reckon," said Sproul, and that ended
the discussion.




CHAPTER XXIX

WHEN THE SEA ROLLED BACK


The boys were interested in this novel kind of whaling; but they were
more deeply interested in the possible outcome of the situation in
which they, and their friends, and the fur-traders, and the bark's
crew, were all placed.

The tearing away of this piece of our planet, on which the boys and
their companions now sailed, must end finally in some terrible
catastrophe. It would be catastrophe enough if the torn-away world
never returned to the earth, but sailed forever and ever, round and
round its parent planet. Our heroes and their companions would then
be marooned without hope of rescue on a fragmentary planet in space,
the said planet doomed to become a mere lump of dead and frozen matter
adrift in the universe.

Professor Henderson set up the powerful telescope that he had brought,
with his other instruments, all the way from the wrecked flying machine
left in the crevasse of the great glacier, and busied himself in filling
his notebooks with data relating to the movements of this new planet,
and of the strange and remarkable incidents occurring each hour of
their imprisonment on the island in the air.

Jack and Mark, however, found time to help the whalemen secure the oil
from the carcasses of the stranded leviathans which surrounded the
_Orion_. They, with old Andy and Phineas Roebach, began to go out
with the parties of blubber-hunters to guard them at their work. For
now great troops of polar bears appeared from the north, evidently
making their way from the fields of ice that likewise had become
stranded on the old sea bed; and these white bears were as savage and
as hungry as were the Kodiak bears that infested the river.

The two chums, thus engaged, had an adventure one day that they were
never likely to forget. Seeing that there were several of the huge
walruses imprisoned in the lakes of salt water remaining in the ocean
bed, Jack and Mark desired to kill one for its great tusks. They knew
where there was one of the beasts--half as heavy as an elephant--and
not far from one of the last whales the crew of the _Orion_ were
cutting up. The boys were guarding this special party of seamen at
their work, but had seen no bears since sunset.

There was plenty of light, for both the earth-planet was shining on
them and her moon likewise, although the latter was now in her last
quarter. Quite sure that the sailors would not be molested, Jack and
Mark crept away toward the pool where they had seen the walrus.

They soon found, however, that they were not alone. Washington White
had come over from the bark, and seeing what the boys were about he
followed them.

"Is you suah 'nuff gwine ter try an' shoot dat hugeous wallingrust,
an' pull his teef?" he whispered. "Yo' boys will git killed, some day,
foolin' wid sech critters."

"You'd better go back, then," said Mark, "if you are afraid."

But the darkey wanted to see how the boys proposed to go about the
work of capturing the walrus. Jack had prepared a long and stout line
with a whale lance at one end and a sharp spike at the other. The boys
very well knew that the bullets from their rifles would make little
impression on the walrus. They had to go about his, capture in a
different way from shooting bears.

The salt water lake in which the walrus was trapped was perhaps a mile
across, and there were several blow-holes in it. The party had to lie
down behind a barrier of seaweed that the wind had tossed up in a great
windrow, and wait for the walrus to appear at one hole or another.

When his fierce head came into view Jack and Mark, with their satellite,
Washington, crept around to the rear of the creature, and then made
a swift but careful advance upon his position. They reached a spot
upon the ice not more than ten yards from the blow-hole without
attracting the attention of the walrus.

Instantly Jack motioned his chum to stand ready to drive the steel
spur at the end of the line into the ice to hold the beast, while he
went forward with the harpoon. Right at the edge of the broken ice,
within ten feet of the monster, Jack Darrow stood a moment with the
weapon poised.

He swung back his body and arm, aimed true for the spot behind the
shoulders of the walrus, and then drove the iron home with all his
strength.

The harpoon sank deep, and a mighty roar burst from the lips of the
stricken beast. Mark drove down the steel peg, stamping on it to fix
it securely in the ice. The walrus threw his huge body around and came
half out of the water upon the ice to reach his tormentor. But Jack
was ready for this move, and he sprang back, out of danger, and picked
up his rifle.

The ice of course broke under the walrus for yards around. His fierce
little eyes seemed to take in every move of his tormentors. He saw
both boys (for Mark, too, had reached his gun) spreading out on either
hand to get in fatal shots if they could. Meanwhile Washington White
stood on the line close to the peg in the ice so that the beast could
not jerk free.

"Take him in the eye, if you can, Mark!" shouted Jack. "The cap of
blubber he wears will act like a cushion if we shoot him in the head."

But before either of them could obtain a satisfactory mark, the beast
sank from sight. He had broken the ice for some yards toward the place
where the end of the line was fastened, and he now had plenty of slack.
The boys waited expectantly for his reappearance, while Wash stood,
open-mouthed and eyes a-roll.

Suddenly the black man executed a most astounding acrobatic feat. From
that standing posture he executed in the twinkling of an eye a swift
back somersault, at least twenty feet from the ice!

"Oh, gollyation! I'se a goner!" he yelped, as he described his
surprising parabola through the air.

The ice where Wash had stood, and where the steel peg had been driven
in, was crushed to fragments as the huge head and shoulders of the
wounded walrus came up from the depths. The creature had marked the
negro's position exactly, and had burst through the ice at the right
spot. The wonderful lightness of all matter on this torn-away world,
however, saved the darkey's life. The blow threw Wash so far away that
the walrus could not immediately get at him.

But he evidently laid his trouble entirely to the black man, and he
threw himself forward along the ice, smashing it to bits, and gnashing
at it with his tusks. In half a minute he would have been on the spot
where the negro lay had not the boys run in swiftly and pumped a dozen
bullets into his eyes and down his open mouth. By good luck more than
good management they killed the beast.

"See wot yo' done done!" wailed Washington White, rising gingerly and
with a hand upon the small of his back. "Yo' come near ter spilein'
Perfesser Henderson's most impo'tant assistant. How do you 'speck de
perfesser c'd git erlong widout me?"

This was certainly an unanswerable question, and the boys admitted it.
They were sorry Wash had been so badly frightened, but they were
delighted at the possession of the tusks of the walrus. The whalers
secured the body, too, and made a very good quality of oil out of
the blubber.

In hunting adventures, and in the labor of trying-out the whale blubber,
several weeks passed. The marooned scientist and his friends, with the
crew of the whale ship, experienced some bad weather during this time.
For three entire days a terrible snowstorm raged--a blizzard that
drifted the snow about the _Orion_ (which had chanced, when she was
stranded, to settle on a perfectly even keel) until one could walk
over her rail out upon the bottom of the sea.

But when this storm passed over the sun came out and shone as tropically
as ever. The snow melted very rapidly and the old sea bed was soon
awash. The beasts and fish still alive in the sinks were enabled to
reach the streams running out of the various mouths of the Coleville,
and these creatures took to deep water.

"By Jo!" ejaculated Captain Sproul, "give us a leetle more water and
we'd sail the old _Orion_ after them, and reach the open sea again."

He had every belief that the ocean would return to its former bed, and
his crew believed it, too. But Professor Henderson and the boys
seriously discussed making some move from this locality.

It was plain that there was still plenty of game 'along the shore of
the old ocean, and they had about made up their mind to follow the
edge of the shore toward Bering Sea and if possible find the revenue
cutter _Bear_, when another storm broke over them. No snow fell
this time. There was almost continual thunder and a downpour of rain
and hail that was sufficient to smother anybody that ventured out upon
the deck of the _Orion_. The new planet seemed to be in the throes
of another eruption, too.

Lightning lit the waste about them with intermittent flashes. They had
lost sight entirely of the old earth, of the moon, and of the sun. It
seemed to Jack and Mark as though this tiny island in the air must be
flying through space again, buffeted by every element.

The wind wailed and screamed about the whaleship. There were more than
sixty souls aboard and they crouched in the cabin and in the forecastle
and knew not what to make of such a foray of the elements. At one
moment the rain flooded down upon the decks as though a cloud had burst
directly above them; then great hailstones fell, drumming on the planks
like musket balls.

The calmest person among them all was Professor Henderson. Captain
Sproul had given the aged scientist the use of the small chart-room.
There he had set up certain of his instruments, and he hovered over
these most of his waking hours, making innumerable calculations from
time to time. During the awful turmoil of the elements he watched his
instruments without sleep. The boys remained with him most of the time,
for they realized that some catastrophe was threatening which the
scientist feared but did not wish to explain at once.

Suddenly Captain Sproul burst into the chart-room and gasped:

"Can you tell me the meaning of this, Mr. Henderson? You're a scientific
sharp and know a whole lot of things. My cook just went to the galley
door to throw out a pot of slops and something--some mysterious
force--snatched the heavy iron pot out of his hand and it went sailing
off over the ship's rail. Can you explain that?"

"Wasn't it the wind snatched it away?" asked Jack Darrow, before the
professor was ready to answer.

"Don't seem to be no wind blowing just at present," said Captain Sproul.

"Wait!" commanded the professor. "Order every companionway and hatch
closed. Do not allow a man to go on deck, nor to open a deadlight. We
must exist upon the air that remains in the vessel for the present."

"What do you mean?" gasped the skipper.

"There is no air outside!" declared Professor Henderson, solemnly. "We
are flying through space where no atmosphere exists. The iron pot
merely remained poised in space--our planet, far, far, heavier, is
falling through this awful void."

"What sort o' stuff are you talkin'?" demanded Captain Sproul, growing
positively white beneath his tan.

"We began to fall several minutes ago," said the professor, pointing
to the indicator of one of the delicate instruments before him on the
chart table. "The balance of attraction between the earth and the sun
has become disturbed and we are plunging--"

"Into the sun?" shrieked Mark Sampson, springing to his feet.

"No! no! Toward the earth! Toward the earth!" reiterated Professor
Henderson. "Her attraction has proved the greater. We are falling with
frightful velocity toward the sphere from which we were blown off into
space so many weeks ago."

"I reckon I'm crazy," groaned Captain Sproul "I hear you folks talkin',
but I don't understand a thunderin' word you say."

"You can feel that the air in here is vitiated; can't you?" demanded
Professor Henderson.

The boys had already felt that it was more difficult to breathe. They
heard cries all over the ship. Washington White burst into the room,
crying: "Oh, lawsy-massy me, Perfesser! We is done bein' smothercated.
De breaf am a-leabin' our bodies fo' suah."

The negro fell in a swoon, overturning the table and sending the
professor's instruments crashing to the floor. The others, struggling
for breath, likewise sank beside Wash. The lights all over the ship
were suddenly snuffed out. Every soul aboard lost consciousness as,
rushing at unreckoned speed through the universe, the torn-away world
descended toward its parent planet.

How long they were unconscious none of the survivors ever learned.
When they _did_ finally struggle to sense again, it was with the sound
of the rushing of mighty waters in their ears.

The _Orion_ was afloat! She was being tossed upon the bosom of a
wind-lashed ocean, and a hurricane, the like of which the two boys
had never experienced before, was at its height.

Captain Sproul rose to his feet, panting for breath, but with his
senses all alert. He shouted:

"The sea has rolled back again! What did I tell you? Up and at it, my
bully boys! Get a sail upon her so's we can have steering way. Every
ile barrel is full and we're homeward bound!"

The hatches were opened and they rushed on deck. It was so black that
they could see nothing but the storm-tossed waves--not a sign of land.
But it was plain, too, that they were no longer on the lee shore. They
had plenty of sea room to work the ship and the brave sailors went
about their usual tasks with cheerfulness.




CHAPTER XXX

AN ENDURING MONUMENT--CONCLUSION


But Professor Henderson and the boys, as well as Andy Sudds and
Washington, gathered in the chart room. The aged scientist was confident
that during their period of unconsciousness the fragment of the earth
that had once been shot off into space, had returned to its parent
globe, and he spoke cheerfully of their probable escape.

"But have we descended into the very place we left?" demanded Mark.

"Scarcely probable," returned the professor.

"Nevertheless the ocean has returned to this spot," declared Jack.

"There is water here, yes," admitted the professor. "We are afloat, that
is true."

"And is it not the Arctic Ocean?"

"Later I will tell you. They say there is no land in sight. I believe
the bulk of the land which was shot off by the volcanic eruption has
now sunk in this sea. What sea it is we can tell soon."

"When can we see the sun and take an observation?" queried Mark.
"Perhaps finding the temperature of this ocean which surrounds us will
tell us something. However, we must have patience until this bitter
storm is past."

And this did call for patience, for the hurricane continued for fully
a week. Meanwhile the Orion ran on under almost bare poles, and in a
northwesterly direction. This course, Captain Sproul believed, would
bring them to Bering Sea, and their homeward route.

But a vast and amazing discovery awaited the hardy navigator of the
whaling bark when the wind finally died down, the clouds were swept
away, and the sun again appeared. Professor Henderson appeared on deck,
too, and calculated their position side by side with Captain Sproul.
The latter's amazement was unbounded. His calculations, no matter how
he worked them, made the position of the _Orion_ 148 degrees west of
Greenwich and 49 degrees north.

In other words, he was far, far south of the Alaskan Peninsula. During
this awful storm he had traversed (or so he was bound to believe) a
long stretch of the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea and Strait, had passed
the Aleutian Islands, and was now more than a thousand miles south of
the position of the _Orion_ when she first became stranded.

The professor endeavored to explain to him again what had really
happened--that the fragment of the earth on which they had been marooned
had plunged into the old earth again, landing by great good fortune
in the empty sea between North America and Asia--in the North Pacific.

Such an explanation seemed utterly ridiculous to Captain Sproul, to
his seamen, and even to Phineas Roebach. They were convinced that
Professor Henderson was in his dotage. They would rather believe that
the _Orion_, sailing on pretty nearly a straight course according
to the compass, had traversed this enormous distance during the
hurricane.

The professor and his young friends, however, had studied too deeply
the mystery of this astounding affair to be mistaken. All the phenomena
of the experience had been noted by Professor Henderson. He had the
material of a most remarkable work in his notebooks, and that volume
will soon appear to delight the scientific world.

Meanwhile the _Orion_ changed her course and ran for San Francisco
to re-provision. She had a very valuable cargo of oil which she would
later take around the Horn to her home port, New Bedford.

At San Francisco, however, Professor Henderson, Jack and Mark, with
Andy and Wash and Phineas Roebach, left the ship. Roebach was to report
to his oil company and probably return to Alaska to continue his search
for petroleum. Our friends started overland for home, stopping off at
the city where Dr. Artemus Todd resided to explain to that savant the
reason for their inability to secure a single specimen of the
_Chrysothele-Byzantium_, which herb the doctor was so confident
would be of incalculable value in treating patients suffering from
aphasia, amnesia, and kindred troubles.

Perhaps the disappointed doctor was not entirely sure that his friend,
Professor Henderson, and his comrades, had gone through the strange
experience which they recounted. But a few weeks later several vessels
reported sighting a new island in the North Pacific, south of the
Alaskan Peninsula. On this island men who landed discovered a colony
of Kodiak bears, some Arctic foxes, and the remains of vegetation which
had never before been found south of the Arctic Circle.

This discovery created vast talk among the geographers and scientists.
An exploring party was sent out by the Smithsonian Institution to
examine the new island. It was pronounced of volcanic origin, yet the
formation of it was not of recent time. There was on this island (which
contained several square miles) the remains of a glacier, and in the
ice the party discovered the wreck of a wonderful flying machine, which
had evidently been built within a few months.

Of course, this was the _Snowbird_, the aeroplane which our friends
had been obliged to abandon. But by that time Jack and Mark had built
another flying machine on the same lines as the one which they had
lost in the crevasse of the glacier.

The professor proceeded to explain and prove all this in his book; but
there will always be certain doubters. Washington White, however, was
more disturbed than any of the party over the fact that everybody would
not accept as true the scientist's account of their wonderful voyage
on a torn-away world.

"De stupendous and unprecedented gall some folks has is suttenly beyond
comparination!" exploded Wash. "Dere is folks dat ain't nebber been
to Bawston, eben, dat dares say dat we didn't go ter Alaska in a flyin'
masheen, an' den fly away wid a piece ob dat kentry inter de
cimcum-ambient air--droppin' back on de same w'en we'd got t'roo wid
it, an' landin' right outside de harbor of San Francisco. Dey won't
belieb it at all, not eben w'en I proves it to 'em."

"And how do you prove it to your friends, Wash?" queried Jack Darrow.

"By Buttsy," declared the darkey, gravely.

"By the Shanghai?"

"Yes, sah. By Christopher Columbus Amerigo Vespucci George Washington
Abraham Lincoln Ulysses Grant Garibaldi Thomas Edison Guglielmo Marconi
Butts."

"And how do you prove it by Christopher Columbus And-so-forth?" demanded
the chums, in chorus.

"Why," said Wash, rolling his eyes, "I done tooked dat rooster wid me
in all ma trabels; didn't I?"

"You most certainly did," admitted Mark.

"And a big nuisance he was," added Jack.

Wash loftily overlooked this remark. He said, confidently:

"And I brought Buttsy back ergin; didn't I?"

"You did. He's getting fat and sassy right now out in his coop behind
the bungalow."

"Well den!" cried Wash. "I done took him wid me, an' I done brought
him back. Wot furder elimination ob de fac's does dem folks want? Don't
Buttsy crowin' away dar prove it?"

And Washington White walked off with his head held very high as though
he had made a perfectly unanswerable statement of the case.

And here we will say good bye to our friends, who had so many thrilling
adventures while drifting through space On a Torn-Away World.

THE END






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