THE ICE-BOUND SHIP

A very important meeting of the American Scientific Society had been
held in their Hall in the city of New York.

All the learned savants and geographers of the day were present, for the
subject to be discussed was one of great interest.

For centuries countless efforts had been made to reach either the North
or South Poles. The country contiguous to these points had ever remained
an unexplored tract.

For many scientific reasons it had been deemed necessary to reach these
points. Moreover, man’s curiosity seemed to demand it.

But all attempts by land or sea had proved futile.

This was accepted as a fact. But the learned savants were disposed to
believe the feat not impossible.

And this was why the meeting had been called.

The most feasible way to reach the Poles and the organization of a party
to attempt it was the topic of discussion.

One man proposed the route through Greenland. Another favored the
Behring Sea route. A third, was in favor of approaching it from Siberia.

But none of these projectors could substantiate their plans with any
logical method of procedure.

“Admit that the Greenland route is feasible,” said the chairman, “how
will you provide means of travel?”

“With dogs and sledges,” said one man.

“And the supplies?”

Ah, here was the stumbling block. No sledge team could hope to carry the
supplies for so large a party.

So that plan found chary support.

Thus the meeting was in a state of perplexity and much uncertainty, when
an incident happened which put a new face upon matters.

Suddenly a short, broad-shouldered man, with glasses, pushed forward.

“Mr. Chairman!” he said.

“Professor Gaston!” replied the chair.

“I would like to submit a plan for reaching the Poles, which I
confidently claim will be successful.”

Instantly a great stir was created.

The savants all pushed forward. All knew Gaston well and favorably.

“Hear, hear!” was the cry.

At once the chairman rapped to order, and then addressed Gaston:

“How do you propose to reach the Poles?” he asked.

The professor looked around as if challenging denial, and said:

“By airship.”

For a moment a pin could have been heard to drop in the hall. Then there
was a murmur, and the members began to laugh.

“Did you hear that?”

“Proposes to go to the Poles by airship!”

“The man is crazy!”

“Where is his airship?”

The chairman rapped for order.

“I trust you will be courteous enough to give the gentleman a hearing,”
he said.

“Oh, certainly!” said a mocking voice.

Professor Gaston looked angry and made a hot reply:

“I was not aware that there was anything so extremely farcical in my
remarks,” he said. “If I can substantiate them with the truth and actual
demonstration, you can ask no more.”

“We will ask for no more,” said one of the crowd. “But can you do it?”

“I can.”

“Where is your airship?”

“It is in existence, though not my property. When I have rendered this
mighty aid to science, perhaps some of you revilers will be inclined to
apologize.”

With this Professor Gaston led the way to the speakers’ platform, and
was followed by a young man of remarkable appearance.

He, was tall, slender and handsome. His features were clear cut, refined
and remarkable for their stamp of intelligence. Every eye was upon him.

“Mr. Chairman,” said Professor Gaston, courteously, “allow me to
introduce to you Frank Reade, Jr., the most famous inventor on earth
to-day.”

The young inventor blushed with this glowing eulogy.

But he bowed to the chairman and exchanged a few pleasant words with
him; then Professor Gaston addressed the society:

“Mr. Reade is the foremost inventor of the day. He is the creator of the
Submarine Boat and many other wonderful things. He has now come to the
front with a new airship with which he offers to travel from zone to
zone in the efforts to locate the Poles.

“From one frigid zone to the other he will proceed with his airship and
accomplish with the greatest ease that which has been since the creation
of the world an utter impossibility for man to do.

“Now, brother scientists, what sort of a reception ought we to give to a
man who agrees to do such a wonderful thing as this? I appeal to your
fairness!”

There was a moment of silence. Then one man said:

“Let him prove his ability to do what he proposes, and: not only the
society but the world will bow down before him.”

“I think I can prove that to you very quickly!” said Frank Reade, Jr. “I
have solved the problem of aerial navigation long since, and you have
only to come to Readestown to see my airship to believe it.”

“Then your airship is a reality?” asked one of the professors.

“It is.”

“And you have taken an aerial ride in it?”

“I have.”

“We would like to see it.”

“If you will come to Readestown in two days from now you will see it
fly, and also see me off on my trip from zone to zone!

“That there may be no misunderstanding, let me say that I am here
to-night solely to please my friend, Professor Gaston, and only at his
very urgent request.

“I have no axe to grind in coming here. I am seeking no emolument or
pecuniary reward. I have simply offered to this society the privilege of
allowing one of their members to accompany me and make valuable
scientific data. It remains for the society now to act.”

With firmness and with dignity Frank Reade, Jr., spoke. His speech and
manner impressed the learned body of men deeply.

They saw at once that it was no ordinary man that addressed them in this
manner. The tide of popular opinion in Frank’s favor became almost
overwhelming.

One man leaped upon a chair and cried:

“I move that the society send a representative and that Gaston be the
man!”

Cheers filled the hall.

The learned professor looked gratified and pleased. He at once replied:

“I fear there are many much better qualified. Yet, of course, I would
not refuse so important a trust if I am deemed capable.”

The result was that a ballot was taken. The result was overwhelming.
Gaston was unanimously chosen.

The great undertaking was begun.

That night the press of the country resounded with exciting reports of
the meeting, and the proposed attempt of Frank Reade, Jr., to travel
from zone to zone in his airship.

A committee of the Scientific Society went up to Readestown to take a
look at the new airship.

Frank Reade, Jr., was always pleased to show his inventions. He led the
company into a vast high-trussed building.

There, upon the stocks, was the wonderful airship.

She was just undergoing proper fitting out for the long trip. Two men of
rather peculiar appearance were working upon her.

One was an Irishman with a shock of red hair and a broad mug. The other
was a darky, black as ebony, and jolly as a genial Dutchman.

One was known as Barney O’Shea and the other as Pomp.

They had been in the employ of Frank Reade, Jr., for many years and were
much devoted to him.

The airship as revealed to the visitors was indeed a wonderful machine.

In shape it was long and narrow, and built after the lines of a
mackerel. The hull was of thinly rolled platinum, coated with bullet
proof steel.

The shell thus formed could easily be lifted by four men, despite its
huge proportions.

Along the sides of the shell were slides and a coarse network which
could be let up or down so as to inclose the hull or make it open at
will.

In these slides were round portholes for observation or to fire at an
enemy through. The bow of the airship was sharp and carried a ram. The
stern carried a pair of strong propellers.

In the stern also was the after cabin and galley, the quarters of the
crew, Barney and Pomp.

Midway in the hull was the cabin and engine-room. The cabin was small,
but fitted up exquisitely in leather and plush.

The engine-room held the powerful electric engines which formed the
motive power of the airship.

These were Frank Reade, Jr.’s special invention, and the secret of their
construction he would not betray to anybody.

Upon the prow of the airship was the wheel-house, and also a mighty
powerful searchlight, capable of penetrating the darkest night for a
distance of two miles.

Now let us turn to the elevating power of the famous invention.

Gas was not employed in any shape. A much stronger and safer medium was
used, as the reader will agree.

There were three tall masts rising from the upper deck of the airship.

The mainmast carried a powerful rotascope, which was alone capable of
supporting the airship.

The other masts carried four powerful wings of oiled silk and huge
proportions. The shape and mechanism of these wings Frank had derived
from the model of the butterfly, an insect noted for its airy and swift
flight.

By means of various pulleys and sockets these wings were made to act as
lightly and gracefully as the model.

This is a meager and incomplete description of the Dart.

The Scientific Society’s committee were overwhelmed with the wonderful
mechanism and the simple practicability of the Dart.

“Mr. Reade, we are delighted,” said the spokesman, “and we feel sure of
your success. If you do not fail you will surely put your name upon the
topmost scroll of fame.”

“I shall hope to succeed,” replied Frank, modestly. “That is my aim.”

The committee took its departure.

Only two days more remained of preparation for the wonderful voyage from
zone to zone.

The whole scientific world was agog. After the sailing of the Dart with
their representative, Professor Gaston, aboard, they waited with deepest
interest for news from the party. They were destined to wait many weeks.

Far down in the Antarctic Ocean a good ship was battling with heavy seas
and a head wind.

For weeks the whaler Albatross had been trying to make headway against
the vigorous norther which constantly headed them off.

But a few weeks more remained for them to get into northern seas before
the winter would set in.

Captain Hardy had spent one winter among the ice and snow of the
Antarctic and had no desire to spend another.

The ship was loaded down with whale oil, and pecuniarily the cruise bid
fair to be a tremendous success.

But provisions were getting low, and to be nipped in the ice again meant
a horrible fate, nothing short of starvation.

Realizing this, it was little wonder that Captain Hardy paced the deck
of his ship anxiously and studied the northern sky.

“Well, Jack Wallis!” he cried, in his bluff way, “it still blows, and,
by Neptune, it looks likely to keep on. We can’t make seaway in such a
wind. What are we going to do?”

Jack Wallis, the mate, was a tall, handsome fellow, with resolute blue
eyes and Saxon complexion.

He was a favorite with the crew and brave as a lion.

But his face now was a trifle pale. He realized the danger of their
position quite as well as did Captain Hardy.

He was not thinking of his own safety, but of those aboard the ship and
their prospective fate as well as the peril of a certain very charming
young lady on board. No other than Lucille Hardy, the captain’s
daughter.

The captain had yielded against his will to Lucille’s pleadings to be
allowed to come on the voyage.

He knew better than she did the mighty risk involved.

But he had finally yielded, it was true that Lucille was the light of
the ship. The crew to a man worshipped and revered her.

Two years under the Southern Cross was a long while to remain away from
home.

But Lucille had been happy even in the monotonous routine of ship life.

Now, however, when the prospect of being compelled to spend another
winter in frozen latitudes confronted him Captain Hardy wished devoutly
that he had left her at home.

All this prospect, so dreadful, might have been averted had they started
a month earlier for home.

But striking a school of whales, the temptation to fill every barrel
aboard had caused the captain to linger.

In an ordinary season, however, he would yet have succeeded in getting
beyond the circle.

But it seemed as if the fates themselves held the north wind in their
hands. It had grown in fury for weeks.

And now the cold had begun to set in.

Pack ice even showed itself, and the rigging was frozen at times, so
that a block or stay could hardly be moved.

No wonder the captain was anxious.

“We must bend every sail!” he declared, “Unless we get out of here this
week it is winter quarters, and——”

He did not finish the sentence.

Something like a groan escaped his lips.

But every day the wind grew stiffer and the Albatross labored harder.

It was certain that she would never make the northern seas. A gloom
settled down over ship and crew.

The sailors, brave fellows all, could not help a murmur.

Many of them thought of their homes in the far North where dear ones
were awaiting them. Alas! it looked as if they would never see them
again.

Day by day the vessel lost headway.

Then one day the black clouds shut in from the north and there came an
ice storm, the like of which they had never seen before.

There was little use to attempt to face the wind now.

All they could do was to keep the vessel steady and look out for a
collision with drift ice.

The nights were long sieges, with trying to keep the ship from being
stove. The days were rigid battles against the careering blasts.

Then the sun disappeared below the horizon. The Antarctic night had
begun.

There was no longer any hope of reaching northern waters that year.

Winter quarters was the order. In a remarkably brief space of time the
tossing, turbulent sea had become a solid mass of pack ice.

And in the midst of this her timbers grinding and wrenching with the
strain lay the Albatross.

But soon the ice pack became motionless as the fearful cold contributed
to make it solid.

Thus fixed in her icy bed the Albatross was to remain a fixture for
seven long dreary months.

It was by no means a pleasant outlook. Yet the crew proceeded to make
the best of it.

The rations were carefully reckoned up.

It was found that only with the most frugal of indulgence would they
last until spring.

But yet there was a chance that game might be procured to some extent.
Even then, however, it was remembered that after the ice pack should
break up it would be three months before they could hope to reach a
port.

Therefore the outlook was serious indeed.

Added to this was the almost absolute certainty of sickness.

Scurvy already threatened various members of the crew. Yet they did no
yield to despair.

It was a common conviction that the only hope of escape consisted in
clinging together, and this they did.

There was no mutiny, no recriminations, no quarrels. It was a common
cause, and life was its stake.

Soon the Antarctic winter with all its fearful rigors had set in.

But they were quite comfortable aboard the ship, grouping about the
furnace by the light of the oil lamps.

Outside the cold was at times so severe as to have almost precluded a
human being living in the open air a moment.

But there were many of these spells, and fortunately they were not of
long duration.

At times the thermometer would go up with a rush and the air became
quite mild.

At such times they dared to venture away from the ship.

Hunts were organized and as game came out from the mainland to roam the
ice pack there was always a chance of shooting something.

Foxes and rabbits, or Arctic hares were common. Occasionally an elk was
seen, or a species of reindeer.

Seals were plenty, though rather difficult to hunt, and great flocks of
ducks and geese at times flew over.

The party were getting along amazingly well when one day a fearful,
thrilling catastrophe occurred.

Of course, none of the ship’s crew had ever penetrated further south,
and knew nothing of the Antarctic continent.

That it might be inhabited was possible, but there was no record.

In the Arctic, Esquimaux lived contiguous to the Pole.

But in the Antarctic human life had never been found existent. Yet this
was no evidence that it did not exist.

One day Captain Hardy and Jack proposed to go on a seal hunt four miles
away toward the open sea.

They took two of the seamen—Jerry Mains and Adolph Sturgeson—with them.
This left Second Mate Albert Stearns and six seamen aboard the craft.

Of course, Lucille remained aboard.

It was a fatal day.

Arrived at the sealing grounds the first catastrophe occurred. It was
one never to be forgotten.

A seal was lanced by Sturgeson, very near the edge of the pack. The
creature was killed, as the sailor believed.

But as he ventured near it suddenly it turned and attacked him.

Before Sturgeson could get out of the way it had fastened one of its
tusks through the calf of his leg.

He was held a prisoner, and the agony was so intense that he shrieked
for aid. He was seen by all three of his companions.

“My God!” cried Jack Wallis, with the utmost horror. “Poor Sturgeson is
done for!”

“Don’t say that!” cried Captain Hardy, with anguish. “Save him!”

Jerry Mains was the nearest.

Seeing his companion in such deep trouble, he at once started for him.
Out over the pack he ran.

The seal still hanging to his victim, was backing to the edge of the
pack. A moment more and he would slide into the water.

Mains reached the spot the next moment. With a blow he killed the seal
and then grasped Sturgeson’s hands.

But at that moment a fearful thing happened.

The section of ice upon which they were suddenly snapped and broke away
from the main pack.

It drifted out into the black water. All might have been well even then
had it not been for a phenomenon, almost always certain to occur.

There were huge, top-heavy peaks on the ice floe, which caused it to
become unbalanced.

Suddenly it rocked violently, and then with a mighty vortex of waters
keeled over and turned bottom side up, the heavy part of the berg
sinking.

An awful cry of horror escaped Captain Hardy and Jack Wallis.

“My God, they are lost forever!” cried the young mate.

This was certainly true.

The two unfortunate men never rose. The bed of the deep Antarctic was
their final resting place.

There was no more seal hunting that day. The grief and horror of the two
survivors can well be imagined.

There was nothing to do but to return to the Albatross and report the
mishap.

So back toward the ship they started. But as they came in sight of it,
Captain Hardy remarked a peculiar circumstance.

“That is queer!” he exclaimed. “There is no smoke from the galley pipes.
What does it mean?”

“They cannot have let the fire go out!” cried Jack.

The two men exchanged startled glances. Without a word they pressed
forward.

And as they drew nearer the ice-bound ship no one came out to greet
them. No one answered Jack’s hail.

All was as silent as death.

“What is the matter with them?” cried Captain Hardy. “Why on earth don’t
they answer?”

Forward they pushed rapidly.

When twenty yards from the ship Jack Wallis paused with an awful cry of
terror.

“Look!” he shrieked.

There about the ship’s gangway the snow had been fearfully trampled and
it was a crimson color. Blood was the cause of this.

And upon the sides of the ship, upon the ladder and the rail all was
blood. Over the rail Jack Wallis went.

And there upon the ship’s deck he saw the rigid figure of a man
frightfully mutilated and frozen stiff in the bitter air.

“Dead!” he exclaimed, in hollow tones. “It is Martin Jones, foretopman.
He has been murdered!”

Captain Hardy reeled toward the cabin door. His face was chalky white.

“Lucille!” he gasped.

The same thought was in Jack Wallis’ mind. He followed at once.

The companionway was stained with blood, the cabin floor the same. On
went the two hunters.

There by the galley fire, which was out, lay the stark and stiff forms
of three more of the crew.

They were in positions to show that they had fought for their lives.

But where were the other two and Lucille?

“Mark Vane and Alvan Bates, with Lucille, are missing!” declared the
excited captain. “What can have become of them?”

“There is but one theory.”

“What?”

“They have been taken away as prisoners.”

“As prisoners?”

“Yes.”

“But by whom?”

“As yet I cannot answer. Human fiends, no doubt. See, the ship has been
ransacked and many things carried away.”

“You are right.”

“I have an idea.”

“What is it?”

“Below us lies the great continent?”

“Yes.”

“I fancy it is inhabited by various tribes of savages who are hostile.
They have come out on to the pack, hunting, and have found the ship.”

“My God! and they have taken Lucille away, captive?”

“Yes.”

For a moment tears of agony streamed down Captain Hardy’s face.

Then he grasped Jack’s hand.

“My boy,” he said, in agony, “it is a fearful blow! Life is sped for me
now. The Albatross will never see home again!”

“Don’t give up.”

“But how can it? How can we ever go back and leave Lucille here?”

“We will not!”

Jack Wallis’ voice rang out with clarion pitch.

“I tell you we will rescue Lucille if we have to follow those wretches
to the very heart of the Antarctic continent itself!”

“Brave boy!” cried Captain Hardy. “But will the ship be here? Can we
find our way back?”

“We have our bearings. But I hope that we may overtake the wretches
before they have gone very far.”

“Then let us be off!”

“At once!”

“We will return and bury these poor fellows later.”

“Yes; all depends upon prompt pursuit.”

Leaving the ship, the two desperate men set out upon the trail. It was a
broad and easy one to follow.

The air had moderated very much. Indeed, there was a faint mist creeping
up from the sea.

The barbarians left huge footprints in the snow, and it was from these
that Captain Hardy drew his deductions.

“I tell you they are literal giants!” he declared. “No doubt they are
fearful fighters.”

“Yet they cannot, one of them, stop a rifle ball without getting sick,”
said Jack.

“You are right, there!”

On through the snow for hours the two men followed the tracks.

All that day and the next they followed it. Happily they had taken the
precaution to bring eatables.

A few hours’ sleep in the snow was all the rest they got, but they were
consoled with the cheerful fact that every moment the trail grew
fresher.

And now, from the horizon line, there had arisen vast heights of snowy
white. Towering yet above them all was a mighty peak, which sent forth
flame and smoke.

“A volcano!” declared Captain Hardy. “I’ll wager we will find the
settlement of the barbarians not far from that.”

“I think you may be very sure of it,” declared Jack Wallis.

But as they drew nearer the coast line suddenly some startling incidents
occurred.

Jack, who was in advance, suddenly halted.

A cry of alarm pealed from his lips.

At that moment they had been approaching a vast pile of conglomerated
ice. Suddenly, from behind it, a number of strange-looking beings sprang
forth.

They were gigantic in stature and dressed in skins, with the tusks of
the seal for horns upon their head-dresses, which consisted of untanned
seal hide, with holes for the eyes and mouth.

They were armed with huge battle clubs, with the bones of huge fish and
huge rocks for heads, and javelins tipped with stone or fish bones.

At sight of the two men they came forward with a rush.

Brandishing their weapons and yelling, they rushed forward.

It was a critical moment.

It was a question of life or death, and there seemed but one move for
the two men to make.

“Aim low!” cautioned Captain Hardy. “Take the first man!”

Then their rifles spoke.

Two of the barbarians fell.

Fortunately our adventurers had good repeating Winchesters, and they
were enabled to keep up a good steady fire.

But the barbarians now began hurling their javelins. One nearly impaled
Jack. This caused him to shout:

“This way, Captain Hardy! We must get shelter!”

Both retreated to the cover of some blocks of ice and the battle went
on.

They pluckily held the foe at bay. But the barbarians seemed to become
legion in number.

It seemed as if a hundred of them at least had appeared upon the scene
from some mysterious source.

And now our adventurers made an appalling discovery.

This was that they had neglected to take sufficient ammunition from the
ship with them. But a few more rounds of cartridges were left.

With blanched faces they looked at each other.

“My boy,” said Captain Hardy, steadily, “I fear it is all up with us!”

“It looks so, captain.”

“What an awful fate!”

“At least we will die game!”

Wallis shut his lips tightly and resumed the firing. He made every shot
tell. But presently he found that he had but three cartridges left.

And the barbarians were every moment growing bolder. A hand-to-hand
combat would be sure to be fatal.

A few moments more and they would certainly have overwhelmed the two
brave men, had it not been for an intervention.

And this came from a most unexpected quarter.

Suddenly, what seemed like a veritable bolt of lightning dropped from
the sky, and right among the barbarians.

There was a fearful explosion.

Tons of ice and snow rose to the height of fifty feet in the air. Dozens
of the barbarians were torn in shreds.

Astounded, Jack and Captain Hardy looked up and beheld a sight the like
of which they had never seen before.

“Great Neptune!” gasped the captain. “A ship sailing in the air!”

This was what it seemed.

But in place of sails were flapping wings. The hull was of different
shape. It was a ship, but not one intended for sailing the seas.

That it was not a supernatural apparition was evident, for at the rail
were four men, all of them shouting encouraging words.

“Keep up, friends!” came down from above. “We will help you!”

“Ahoy!” gasped Captain Hardy, in amazement. “Who are you?”

“This is Frank Reade, Jr.’s airship, the Dart. We are Americans!”

“And so are we,” replied Hardy. “I’ve commanded many a good ship in my
life, but I never yet saw one that sailed in the air.”

At this the aerial voyagers laughed.

“Wait and we will descend!” they cried.

Then the Dart settled rapidly until it alighted upon the ice. At the
rail four men were standing.

One was a tall, handsome young man, another was short and wore glasses,
one was an Irishman, and the fourth was a negro, as black as coal.

The reader, of course, recognizes them as Frank Reade, Jr., Barney and
Pomp, and the scientist, Professor Gaston.

They had left home some six weeks previous and had enjoyed a first-class
trip of eight thousand miles or more.

One thing was certain. They had arrived in the nick of time to save the
lives of Captain Hardy and Jack.

Stories were soon exchanged. Frank Reade, Jr., listened with deep
interest to the story of the whalers.

When he was told about Lucille’s capture by the Antarctic natives he was
at once aroused, and cried:

“She shall be rescued, and have no fear, Captain Hardy!”

“God bless you, sir!” cried the overjoyed captain. “Of course, you have
it in your power to do so with your airship?”

“I believe so. At least we will try.”

“Antarctic natives!” cried Professor Gaston, at once interested. “Well,
that settles one important point, don’t it, that the South Pole regions
are inhabited?”

“It does!” agreed Frank. “And yonder are mountains and a volcano!”

The scientist was, however, just now interested in the barbarians.

A visit was made to the spot where the electric bomb had exploded.

Some of the primitive weapons of the barbarians were secured. Several of
them had escaped mutilation and a look was taken at their features.

“Of the Aryan type!” declared Professor Gaston. “Barbarians in every
sense of the word. The shape of the skull precludes anything but low
intellect.”

The remaining or surviving barbarians had vanished.

Where they had gone was something of a mystery. Certain it was they were
not in sight anywhere.

It was decided to follow their trail as well as possible through the
snow.

This was not difficult.

It was well-defined and broad.

For some ways the airship kept on.

Then the volcano and its attendant peaks drew nearer.

To the surprise of all it was seen that the slope of the volcanic
mountain were devoid of snow.

What was more, there actually seemed to be vegetation upon it.

But this was probably in the form of Arctic mosses and ferns, which grow
in very barren places and even under the snow.

But as the airship now rapidly drew nearer to the volcano a startling
discovery was made.

“Look!” cried Jack Wallis, in amazement. “The mountain is hollow!”

Indeed, the appearance of a mighty yawning cavity in its side seemed to
warrant this assertion.

The volcano looked like a walnut shell cut in halves, with its side cut
open.