Certainly the appearance of the volcanic mountain was unusual in the
extreme. What did it mean?
Had internal fires burned it out and made of it a hollow cone? It
certainly looked very much so.
But now another startling thing was seen. Into the vast cavity a large
body of men were seen to be rushing.
“It is the home of the barbarians!” cried Professor Gaston, in
amazement. “More and more wonderful!”
The aerial voyagers gazed upon the spectacle in sheerest wonder.
Into the mighty aperture rushed the Antarctic natives. In a few moments
not one was in sight.
The airship now rapidly settled down at the foot of the volcano.
There was one resolute purpose in the minds of all.
They were determined to invade the curious dwelling place of the
natives. It was a moral certainty that the white prisoners, Lucille and
Mark Vane and Alvan Bates were therein confined.
This being the case, there was sufficient excuse for the invasion, for
it was necessary to rescue them.
The airship descended until on a level with the cavernous opening. It
could easily have sailed into the place, but Frank was afraid that
collision with the roof might damage the wings or rotascope.
So he did not venture to enter.
But getting down on a level he turned the rays of the searchlight into
the place. This revealed a curious sight.
A mighty open space, or perhaps it might be called cavern, occupied
several acres in extent, and all roofed by the shell of the volcano.
But in the centre of this vast underground area was what looked like a
lake of molten gold as it lay under the gleam of the searchlight.
However, Frank saw that it was nothing of the kind, but a vast basin of
A stream of the boiling liquid ran down into the basin from an orifice
in the mountain wall.
The walls of the immense cavern were of hardened lava, apparently. It
was certainly a queer freak of nature.
But this was not all.
The Antarctic natives had entered the place, but none of them were in
Frank was in a position whence he could easily view the whole interior
of the place.
But an explanation of their disappearance was easily obtained.
Just beyond the lava basin there was a dark, cavernous opening which
appeared to trend downward.
Frank understood it all at once.
“I have it!” he cried. “This is only one of many caverns in this
volcanic range. The whole region here doubtless is honeycombed by the
action of currents of lava. Doubtless their retreat is deep down in the
bowels of the earth.”
Captain Hardy heard this with dismay.
“Then we can never hope to rout them out!” he said. “That will not be
“On the contrary, I believe it is possible,” said Frank.
“How will you do it?
“Easiest thing in the world. Simply track them right into their den.”
Captain Hardy shrugged his shoulders.
“You cannot go there with your airship,” he said.
“How then do you propose to go?”
“Mercy! a handful of men like us will stand no show with such a myriad
of foes, however insufficiently armed.”
“How many of the natives do you reckon there are?” asked Frank.
“At least several thousand.”
The young inventor was silent. He realized that there was logic in
Captain Hardy’s words.
But he was not to be defeated.
“Barney,” he said, “go down and fetch up those long, black boxes in the
“All roight, sor!”
The Celt disappeared at once.
When he returned he had two of the boxes on his shoulder. They were
marked in plain black letters:
“Armor!” exclaimed Captain Hardy. “Is that what you have there, Mr.
“That is it,” replied Frank.
“Mercy on us! I supposed the days of armor and knighthood had gone by.”
“Neither have as yet,” replied Frank, quietly. “I have four suits of
this armor, and it is my own manufacture. Did you ever see anything
As Frank said this he took from one of the boxes a shirt of mail.
The finest of steel meshes, intricately woven, and all as pliable as
cloth. Such was the wonderful armor.
There was a suit from head to foot, including a helmet, with visor and
skull cap. Truly it was wonderful workmanship.
“It is bullet proof,” declared Frank. “Nothing ordinary can penetrate
“Wonderful!” cried Jack Wallis. “Why, with this armor one man could hold
an army at bay.”
“That he could,” agreed Frank. “They might fire volleys at him. They
could not kill him.”
The suits of mail were carefully examined and admired.
Then Frank said:
“You get into one, Wallis; and you, Captain Hardy, into the other. Pomp
will remain with the machine. Barney, don this suit of mail and at
“All right, sor!” replied the Celt, who proceeded to obey.
“Then you propose to wear these suits of mail in attacking the natives?”
“Certainly,” replied Frank. “Thus equipped we can clean out the country.
Ah, there is great work ahead for us!”
All were, of course, enthusiastic over the prospect.
It is needless to say that they were soon ready. Over the rail they went
and stood upon the volcanic ground.
Pomp elevated the airship a few hundred feet for safety’s sake, after
they had gone. Then the four rescuers entered the hollow mountain.
As they did so they noted a peculiar vibration and at times a distant
jarring, jolting sound as if machinery were at work beneath them.
And doubtless it was, but not machinery made by human hands.
The internal fires raging there, no doubt, caused the tremulous motion.
Indeed, the atmosphere was charged with waves of heat, which was
evidence enough in itself of that.
Entering the hollow mountain, the four mail-clad men skirted the lake of
The heat from this was something not exactly pleasant to bear. They did
not venture too near the edge.
Upon every hand was visible evidences of the great struggle of the
volcanic elements in ages past.
It was a wonderful sight, and Professor Gaston made the best of it. He
“I am the most fortunate man in America to-day to be enabled to be here.
This is a wonderful experience!”
As the professor had not a suit of armor on it was decided that he
should remain in the outer cavern where he would be very much safer.
He was anxious to search for specimens, and at the same time was not
desirous of an encounter with the natives.
Leaving Professor Gaston in the outer cavern, Frank Reade, Jr., and his
three companions boldly entered the subterranean passage which led
presumably to the stronghold of the Antarctic natives.
To their surprise the passage was hardly a hundred feet in length.
Then they emerged upon a scene the like of which none of them had ever
before beheld. It was wonderful.
They emerged upon a long gallery, from which they looked down into an
internal crater full two hundred feet deep.
A mighty basin it was, covering acres with small islands of rock in a
vast lake of fire and lava.
Great sheets of burning gas at times leaped a hundred feet into the air.
Yet certain draughts of air made the gallery secure against the
For some while our explorers gazed upon the scene with wonder.
“Upon my word!” exclaimed Captain Hardy. “Inferno could not be worse
“You are right,” agreed Frank. “Certainly it is akin to it.”
“Begorra, I’d niver want to fall down there!” cried Barney, with a
shiver. “Shure, it’s moighty quick yez would come to nothing.”
Nobody was disposed to contradict this logical statement. But Jack
Wallis was impatient.
“If we are to save the captives I think we had better move,” he said.
Everybody agreed to this, and they now pressed forward along the
For perhaps a hundred yards this followed a winding way, and suddenly a
startling view burst upon the rescuers.
Daylight was visible just ahead, and now they emerged into a narrow and
deep valley right among the peaks.
What was the most striking was that this valley was as green as an
emerald, which, indeed, it seemed like in a rough setting of mighty
Vegetation flourished in this peculiar valley. There were larches,
cedars and spruces, and a peculiar sort of grass interspersed with moss
turfed the valley.
This was the home of the Antarctic people. Truly it was a remarkable
For many weeks none in the party had gazed upon aught but the white
waste of snow and ice.
The green valley now seemed to partly blind them, and, indeed, it was
some while before any could take in its appointments in full.
Then they saw that a small settlement of stone houses was near at hand.
Beyond was another, larger, and in the midst of it was one large
building covering fully an acre.
It looked as if the Antarctic natives had expected the attack, for they
were gathered about their huts with arms ready for battle.
At sight of the white men they set up a fearful yelling, and danced
about, brandishing their weapons.
“They mean to give us a warm reception, don’t they?” cried Frank. “Now
where do you suppose the prisoners are?”
“Probably in that large building,” said Hardy, with conviction; “that
seems to be the stronghold of the tribe.”
“What shall we do? Make an open attack?” asked Jack Wallis.
“First let us see if we cannot treat with them,” said Frank.
But this was quickly proved out of the question.
The words had barely left his lips when there was a startling sound in
Instantly from behind rocks and shrubs a score of armed barbarians
sprang forth and rushed upon our adventurers like an avalanche.
Swinging their battle axes they looked formidable indeed. The white men
had barely time to prepare for defense, so sudden and swift was the
Frank Reade, Jr., saw at once how useless it was to attempt to treat
with the ignorant horde.
It was folly to think of such a thing. Murder was in their hearts and
the only way to wipe it out was to give them battle.
So the young inventor cried:
“Look out, friends! Stand by and don’t let them get to close quarters!”
The barbarians hurled their javelins with vengeful aim.
Some of them went true to the mark. But the points being only of flint
or fish bone were easily turned against the armor of the white men.
So that the white men in this respect held a great advantage.
They fired almost point blank with their Winchesters. Several of the
natives dropped dead.
But this did not deter them. Charging with such blind fury the battle
could not help but be brought to close quarters.
And here it seemed for a moment as if the barbarians would win.
With their heavy battle clubs, which they swung above their heads with
fearful force, they dealt terrible blows.
The armor resisted the point of the axe, but the concussion was
something likely to prove almost as fatal. The guns of the white men
were but frail guards.
The only way to do was to keep up a running fire and retreat before the
terrible blows. This scattered the fighters, and at the same time made
the outlook bad for the white men.
Indeed, for a time it began to look serious enough for them.
But at this moment Frank Reade, Jr., chanced to glance upward.
He saw that the airship had drifted over the peaks and was now above the
valley. Even as he looked he saw Pomp, at the rail.
Instantly Frank signaled to him.
The astute darky was not long in grasping the situation. Professor
Gaston was now on board with him, having been picked up by Pomp.
“Golly!” gasped the darky, “I done fink dat Marse Frank am in a bad
scrape. Jes’ yo’ hol’ on dar, Marse Gaston. I’se gwine to fix dem chaps
“Mercy on us!” cried the professor, “our men are in great danger.”
“Dat dey are, sir!”
Pomp rushed into the cabin and brought out a dynamite bomb, an invention
of Frank Reade, Jr.’s. This he dropped right in the midst of the
Instantly there was a terrific explosion. Fully a dozen of the wretches
were blown into eternity.
Then the airship began to descend.
The barbarians seemed to have acquired a fearful terror of the airship.
At sight of it now they beat an inglorious retreat.
Up the valley they rushed, in headlong haste. The Dart descended until
within one hundred feet of the ground.
“All right, Pomp!” cried Frank, “hold right where you are. We are going
to invade that big, stone building. Be ready to give us help!”
“A’right, Marse Frank!” replied Pomp, readily.
The victorious explorers now charged the barbarians’ settlement. They
deserted their houses and fled incontinently.
Reaching the massive stone structure they dashed through a high arched
doorway and found themselves in a long passage.
This proved to be a perfect labyrinth, but finally the rescuers came out
in a high walled room in the centre of the structure.
And here, sitting upon the stone floor and bound hand and foot, were the
Lucille was pale but brave, and at sight of the rescuers gave a great
cry of joy.
The next moment her bonds were cut and she was in her father’s arms,
It was a joyful reunion, and among the happy ones was Jack Wallis.
The looks given each other by the young lovers were of the warmest
The airship had descended now, and Professor Gaston was exploring the
huts of the barbarians.
“A strange race!” he declared. “Unlike any other on the face of the
He collected much valuable data and many specimens. Then all returned to
the deck of the airship.
The gratitude of the Albatross’ people to Frank Reade, Jr., was of the
most intense description.
“We can never forget your kindness!” they declared. “But for your aid we
would never have effected the rescue, and we should all have met death.”
“But what are your plans now?” asked Frank, with interest.
“We must return to the Albatross.”
“Winter here and with the first thaw in the spring sail for home.”
“But you have no crew!”
“That is true,” replied Captain Hardy. “We shall be short handed. Yet if
none of us die in the meanwhile the four of us could sail the ship
“Yet it will be a terrible experience for you to pass the winter upon
the scene of that fearful massacre,” said Frank. “Don’t you think the
ice pack could be broken up?”
“Ah!” cried Captain Hardy, eagerly. “If we could have made headway
against the wind for only two miles more we should have been in the open
“So I thought,” said Frank. “You are right in the edge of the pack. It
should not be difficult to get a channel through.”
But Captain Hardy shook his head.
“Too much ice!”
“If you could reach the open sea you could get north, couldn’t you?”
“Oh, yes! the current has already set northward,” replied the captain.
“Then have courage,” cried Frank, “for I will pull you out of the hole!”
The captain was amazed.
“Wait and you shall see.”
The airship took its flight from the volcanic valley, leaving the
terrified barbarians to themselves.
As straight as the birds could fly the Dart returned to the spot, where
the Albatross was nipped in the ice.
Then a descent was made.
The first move was to reverently bury the victims of the massacre and
restore things to order aboard the ship.
Then Frank took a quick and comprehensive survey of the ice pack.
He saw that the Albatross lay between two ridges of block ice. It would
take a century to dig a channel through with pick and shovel.
But this was not what Frank proposed to do.
He carefully obtained the lay of the ice pack. Then Barney and Pomp
began drilling holes four feet deep in the ice.
A line of these holes were drilled at intervals of ten feet, the whole
distance of two miles to the open sea.
Then dynamite bombs were placed in them and connected with a wire aboard
Frank pressed the electric key, and a terrific explosion followed. Tons
of ice rose in the air and was hurled aside.
A literal channel was made the entire distance of two miles to the open
sea. It now only remained to clear this of ice.
The crew of the Albatross cheered with delight at the prospect. The ship
lay in the channel freed of ice.
But now to the gratification of every one the ice began to move out of
the channel of its own accord.
The reason for this was that the Antarctic current had set to the
northward and was carrying it along.
In a very few hours the channel was wholly clear.
It now only remained to get the ship out of it and into the open sea.
As there was not seaway in the channel, sail could not be made. But
Frank solved the problem.
A line was carried from the ship’s bow a mile ahead and the airship was
lowered and anchored firmly. Then the electric engines were set to work
and one of the propellers was utilized as a drum to wind the line up on.
The engines of the airship, though delicate, were powerful, and in a
very short time the ship had been towed to the end of the channel.
Here sail was made and the Albatross stood away to the northward.
Captain Hardy, Jack Wallis and Lucille stood upon the quarter deck and
waved a farewell to the aerial voyagers.
“I am so glad that we were enabled to render them such a service,” said
Frank. “It well repays me for my Antarctic trip.”
“Certainly. You have done a good deed,” declared Professor Gaston,
“Now for the South Pole!”
Barney and Pomp set about their duties with a vim.
They were bosom friends and yet each was engaged in constant nagging at
the other. Many were the practical jokes they played upon each other.
“Hi, dar, yo’ big I’ishman!” cried Pomp, in an imperious way, “why don’
yo’ shine up dat brasswo’k in de engine-room?”
“Begorra, an’ phwy don’t yez make us some bread we kin ate?” retorted
Barney, facetiously. “Shure, the last I got hold of was that hard that I
cudn’t break it wid a sledgehammer.”
“Huh! I done fink yo’ am pooty sassy, I’ish. Jes’ s’pose yo’ makes yo’
own bread fo’ awhile.”
“Bejabers, I’ll do it!”
“Yis, to be shure!”
“How am yo’ gwine to do it?”
“I’ll show yez!”
But Pomp blocked the galley door.
“No, yo’ don’ do anyfing ob de kin’! I done reckon I know wha’ yo’ want
in here. Yo’ jest mix my fings all up an’ den Marse Frank gib me a
“But yez wanted me to make me own bread. Now, gimme a chance.”!
“I’ll gib yo’ a chaince to see stars, honey, if yo’ don’t go on about
yo’ own biz!”
This excited Barney’s ire.
The mere allusion to a fight was enough for him. He was more than ready
In an instant he bristled up.
“Oh, it’s fight yez want!” he cried, spitting on his hands. “Shure, I’m
jist the lad that kin accomodate yez. Whurroo!”
“Look yer, I’ish,” said Pomp, solemnly, “does yo’ see de color ob my
“Begorra, it’ll be blacker than it is now afore I get through wid it!”
“Does yo’ mean to hit me, chile?”
“If yez don’t apologize!”
“Fer insultin’ me, bejabers!”
“Gwan away. I neber ’sulted yo’.”
“Bejabers, that’s a loie! Here’s wan fer luck!”
With this Barney made a swoop at the darky. Pomp easily dodged it,
however, and retreated a step.
Barney came at him again, hammer and tongs. At once Africa’s blood
“G’way now, yo’ sassy I’ishman, if yo’ knows what’s good fo’ yo’se’f.
Whoop dar! Look out fo’ yo’se’f!”
With this down went Pomp’s woolly head. Forward he shot like a battering
ram. The result was comical enough.
Pomp’s head took Barney full in the stomach.
The Celt was propelled across the cabin floor like a stone out of a
catapult, and landed with a terrific crash clear under his own bunk. For
a moment he was stunned and utterly unable to tell where he was or what
Pomp did not follow up his victory.
His anger was gone in a moment.
He simply stood still and laughed until the tears ran down his black
cheeks and his sides heaved like bellows.
Then he went back into his galley and to his bread making.
Slowly and soberly Barney picked himself up. He said nothing, but went
slowly and sadly away.
It seemed a code of honor between the two that hostilities were to cease
the very moment one or the other came off victorious.
In this case Pomp was the winner.
But it was not always so. Very often Barney was best man. Indeed, honors
were evenly divided.
The airship now took its southward course.
The first move was to accurately locate the South Pole, explore some of
the frozen regions, take general observations, and then set a northward
course for the frigid zone of the Arctic.
Thus far Professor Gaston was delighted with the result of the trip.
“Even if we never reach the other pole,” he declared, “we have
accomplished enough now to place our names high upon the scroll of
But Frank said:
“Have no fear, professor. We are going to reach the Arctic and make what
is really a circumnavigation of the globe.”
“And all the way in the air!” cried the professor. “Most wonderful of
experiences is this!”
Vast areas of frozen country were passed over. Days of sailing above
this desolate waste followed.
And every day Professor Gaston took a new observation. Every day he
declared that they were growing nearer the Pole.
“I have a great curiosity,” he declared. “You know it is a commonly
accepted belief that the region about the South Pole is very open and
warm. That in fact ice does not exist there at all!”
“I believe that is true,” declared Frank. “The most extensive volcanic
region in the world, I believe, lies adjacent to the South Pole.”
“We shall see.”
One morning, or rather just as the explorers had risen, for it was the
latter part of the Antarctic night of six long months, Barney spied a
strange scene ahead.
Mighty mountain ranges showed, rising to fearful heights, and all were
devoid of ice or snow.
Indeed, several of them appeared to be active volcanoes.
At once the Celt gave the alarm.
Everybody piled on deck, and Professor Gaston seemed the most excited of
“Hurrah!” he cried. “At last we have reached the South Pole. In place of
an open sea as in the Arctic, we have mighty volcanic mountains.”
The Dart rapidly neared the mountain range. And as it did so, beyond
them was revealed a wonderful sight.
As far as the eye could reach all was a fertile valley of green. Indeed,
small lakes dotted this region, and there were rivers and forests.
“The Polar country!” cried Gaston, with excitement. “Surely it is a
wonderful discovery. Is it inhabited?”
The airship slowly sailed over the mountain peaks. Suddenly Gaston
pointed to a tall one and declared.
“That is the South Pole, or at least it is exactly upon the spot where
the pole should be!”
Over the Antarctic country the airship drifted.
There was a most remarkable change in the atmosphere. In place of the
stinging cold there was a soft mildness which bore a strange resemblance
to furnace heat.
Hundreds of miles in area was the fertile country of the South Pole.
Various animals were seen, but in all the three hundred miles of sailing
across the fertile and warm area our voyagers saw nothing of human
However, Gaston declared:
“It is but a small part we have explored as yet. They may exist in some
other section. Our sole object now is to locate the two poles. Some
other time we may be able to more extensively explore each. Eh, Mr.
“That is agreeable to me,” replied Frank. “Indeed, we have not come
prepared for a very long sojourn in this region.”
So the Dart crossed the Polar region as quickly as possible.
Straight across the region they went, until once more the circular range
of mountains was crossed, and the region of ice and snow again was
spread to view.
“We have crossed the South Pole,” declared Frank Reade, Jr., “and we
have started northward for home. Now, we may proceed with more of
leisure. I am anxious to take a look at some of the countries we pass
over, notably Africa.”
“I am more than agreeable,” declared Professor Gaston. “In fact, it is
your pleasure, Mr. Reade.”
Straight to the northward the course was now held.
No incident worthy of record occurred. The same unvarying monotony of
ice and snow continued for many days.
Then there came a noticeable change in the atmosphere. The sun became
visible above the horizon.
And as the airship sped on the ice and snow began to disappear and the
open sea came into view.
Still northward the airship sped, until Kerguelen Land was sighted. Due
north was Australia.
Not having any desire to go thither, Frank changed the course of the
airship to the northwest.
This brought them over tempestuous seas, and in these latitudes the
airship encountered a terrific storm.
It was the means of nigh causing the wreck of the Dart.
The voyagers were all in the cabin at dinner.
The wheel had been lashed and the Dart was traveling at a fair rate of
Suddenly something like an explosion brought every man to his feet.
The next moment they were hurled about the cabin like puppets.
“My God!” cried Professor Gaston, in mortal terror. “The airship is
“Steady!” shouted Frank. “We must reach the wheel!”
But all was utter darkness. It seemed as if ten thousand fiends had the
Dart in hand and was tossing it about like a puppet.
Caught in the arms of the storm, the airship was whirled aloft to dizzy
heights, and no doubt would have been torn to pieces had it not been for
a favorable accident.
Frank Reade, Jr., had been hurled to the floor of the cabin and was
unable for a moment to stand on his feet.
None of the others could reach the pilot-house.
Indeed, it was lucky that none of them reached the deck.
They could not have remained there a moment.
The horror of the situation can easily be imagined when it is remembered
that all was utter darkness and the voyagers were groping about the
cabin in the most fearful of uncertainty.
“My God!” gasped Frank, in utter horror, “we are lost!”
There was no expectation but that the rigging would be wrecked and they
would be dashed into the sea.
A fearful death by drowning would be certain in that event.
But a lucky accident saved the airship and the lives of all on board.
The fearful shock of the wind had caused the rotascope lever to fly
open. In a moment the full current was on.
The rotascope revolved for all it was worth. This steadied the airship
and caused it to shoot upward with fearful rapidity.
This saved the day. Up, whirling higher and higher went the Dart.
Suddenly the wind ceased, sunlight was all about, and the airship rode
in quiet air.
But she was shooting upward with frightful velocity.
Frank sprang out on the deck. He saw how things were, at once.
Far below thundered and bellowed the black clouds of the storm. The
airship had risen above it.
The joy of the aerial voyagers knew no bounds.
First, though, Frank made a careful examination of every part of the
ship. To his amazement not a thing was broken.
“All safe and sound!” he cried, joyfully. “I tell you it was a narrow
“Luck is with us!” declared Professor Gaston.
As soon as possible Frank checked the flying rotascope.
If he had not done so the airship would soon have reached an altitude
where it would be painful to breathe.
As soon as the storm had passed the Dart was once more allowed to
No other incident worthy of note occurred until one morning Barney from
the pilot-house shouted:
At once Frank and the professor were on deck with powerful glasses. A
few moments of study revealed the character of the distant land.
It was the southern coast of Africa, and soon the settlement of Cape
Town could be seen.
White-sailed ships were in the bay, and as they passed a few thousand
feet above the town it could be seen that there was much excitement
The people were out in force, and were shouting and waving banners. But
Frank Reade, Jr., had no intention of making a stop.
“Not this time!” he declared. “I have other matters on hand. Besides, it
would be hardly safe to land there.”
“Safe!” ejaculated Gaston, in amazement. “Why not?”
“Easy enough. A vast concourse of people like that are apt to lose their
heads and do the airship much damage.”
“That could not be among civilized people!”
“They are the most to be feared as they cannot keep their hands off
knowing well the nature of the machine. Superstitious fear keeps the
savage at a safe distance.”
“Upon my word I believe you are right!” cried the professor. “Though it
never occurred to me that way before.”
So the airship did not stop at Cape Town. Keeping on rapidly it passed
over a populous and fertile tract of country.
For several days the Dart kept on its rapid northward flight.
The country had changed.
Vast wilds extended as far as the eye could reach, populated with
savages and wild tribes.
Wild beasts could be seen in great numbers from the airship’s deck.
Barney and Pomp were spoiling for an African hunt, so Frank decided to
gratify their desire and make a brief stop.