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jumped. The Alphian had struck the opposite ledge, but not with
his feet, as he intended. He clutched it with his hands and hung
there for a moment, struggling to get a foothold in the emptiness
beneath him.

"It's no use, I am falling; I can hold no longer!" And Johnston,-
-too terrified to reply,--heard the poor fellow's hands
slipping from the rock, causing a quantity of loose stones to go
rattling down below. With a low cry Branasko fell. An instant
later Johnston heard him strike the ledge beneath, and heard him
cry out in pain. Then all was still except the echoes of
Branasko's cry, which bounded and rebounded from side to side of
the chasm, and grew fainter and fainter, till it was submerged in
the roaring below. Then there was a rattle of stones, and
Branasko's voice sounded: "A narrow escape!" he said faintly. "I
am on another ledge"--then after a slight pause, "it is much
wider, I don't know how wide. Are you listening?"

"Yes, but are you hurt?"

"Not at all. Simply knocked the breath out of me for a moment.
There is a cave behind me, and (for a moment there was silence) I
can see a light ahead in the cave. I think it must be the
reflection of the internal fire. Come down to me and we will
explore the cavern, and see where the light comes from."

"I can't get down there!" shouted Johnston, to make himself
heard above a sudden increase in the roaring in the chasm,
"there is no way."

"Wait a moment!" came from the Alphian. "This ledge seems to
incline upward."

Johnston stood perfectly motionless, afraid to move from the
ledge either to right or to left, and heard Branasko's footsteps
along the rock beneath. "All right so far," he called up, and his
voice showed that he had gone to a considerable distance to the
left, "the ledge seems to be still leading gradually upward. I
think I can reach you."

Fifteen minutes passed. The lone American could no longer hear
Branasko's footsteps. Johnston was becoming uneasy and the hot
air was causing his head to swim. He was thinking of trying to
retrace his footsteps to a place of more security when he heard
footsteps, and then the cheery voice of Branasko nearly opposite
him across the chasm:

"Are you there?"


"It is well; I have discovered a good pathway down to the cave,
and a pool of fish besides. I have saved some for you. I was so
hungry I had to eat. Now, you must jump over to me."

"I cannot," declared the American. "I cannot jump so far;
besides, you failed."

Branasko laughed. "I did not leap in the right direction. It is
this point on which I am now standing that I should have tried to
reach. Come, I will catch you."

Johnston could not bear to be considered cowardly, so he stepped
to the verge of the chasm and prepared to jump. His head felt
more dizzy as he thought of the fathomless depths beneath, and
the rush of hot air up the side of the cliff took his breath away,
but he braced himself and said calmly: "All right, I am coming."
The next instant he sprang forward. Branasko caught him into his
arms and they both rolled back on the level stone.

"Good," cried the Alphian, trying to catch his breath, which
Johnston had knocked out of him by the fall. "You did better
than I; you are lighter."

"Where shall we go now?" asked Johnston, regaining his feet and
feeling of his legs and arms to see if he had broken any bones.

"Down this winding path to the place where I saw that light. I
want to understand it. But you must first eat this fish. It is
delicious. They are swarming in the pools below."

"And water?" said Johnston.

"An abundance of it, and as cold as ice."

As Branasko preceded him down the tortuous path, Johnston ate the
raw fish eagerly. Presently they came to a deep pool of water,
and both men threw themselves down on their stomachs and drank
freely. After this they proceeded slowly for several hundred
yards, and finally reached the entrance to the cave in which
Branasko had seen the light. At that distance it looked like the
light of some great conflagration reflected from the face of a

They entered the cave and made good progress toward the light,
for it showed them the dangerous fissures, sharp boulders and
stalactites. They had walked along in silence for several minutes
when the Alphian stopped abruptly and turned to his companion.
What is the matter?" asked Johnston.

"It cannot come from the internal fires," replied Branasko,"for
the atmosphere grows cooler as we get nearer the light and
away from the chasm."

Johnston was too much puzzled to formulate a reply, and he
simply waited for the Alphian to continue.

"Let's go on," said Branasko; and in his tone and hesitating
manner Johnston detected the first appearance of
superstitious fear that he had seen in the brawny Alphian.

 Chapter VIII.

As Thorndyke watched the flying machine that was bearing his
friend away a genuine feeling of pity went over him. Poor
Johnston! He had been haunted all day with the belief that he was
to meet with some misfortune from which Thorndyke was to be
spared, and Thorndyke had ridiculed his fears. When the air-ship
had become a mere speck in the sky, the Englishman turned back
into the palace and strolled about in the vast crowd.

A handsome young man in uniform approached and touched his hat:

"Are you the comrade of the fellow they are just sending away?" he

"Yes. Where are they taking him?"

"To the 'Barrens,' of course; where do you suppose they would take
such a man? He couldn't pass his examination. You are not a great
physical success yourself, but they say you pleased the king with
your tongue."

"To the Barrens," repeated Thorndyke, too much concerned over the
fate of his comrade to notice the speaker's tone of contempt;
"what are they, where are they?"

The Alphian officer changed countenance, as he looked him over
with widening eyes.

"Your accent is strange; are you from the other world?"

"I suppose so,--this is a new one to me at any rate."

"The world of endless oceans?"


"And the unchanging sun--forever white and ----?"

"Yes; but where the devil is the Barrens?"

"Behind the sun, beyond the great endless wall."

"Do they intend to put him to death?"

"No, that would be--what do you call it? murder; they will simply
leave him there to die of his own accord. And the king is right. I
never saw such a weakling. He would taint our whole race with his

Without a word Thorndyke abruptly turned from the officer and
hastened toward the apartment of the king. He would demand the
return of poor Johnston or kill the king if his demand was not
granted. In his haste and perturbation, however, he lost his way
and wandered into a part of the palace he had not seen. At every
step he was more and more impressed with the magnificent
proportions of the structure and the grandeur of everything about

Passing hurriedly through a large hall he saw an assemblage of
beautiful women and handsome men dancing to the music of a great
orchestra. Further on--in a great court--a regiment of soldiers
were drilling, their rapid evolutions making no more sound than if
they were moving in mid-air. In another room he saw a great body
of men, women and children in vari-colored suits bathing in a
pool of rose-colored, perfumed water.

He was passing on when a woman, closely veiled and simply dressed,
touched his arm.

"Be watchful and follow me," she said, in a low, guarded tone.

The heart of the Englishman bounded and his blood rushed to his
face, for the speaker was the Princess Bernardino. She did not
pause, but glided on into the shade of a great palm tree, and,
behind a row of thick-growing ferns of great height and thickness,
she waited for him.

She lowered her veil as he approached and looked at him from
her deep brown eyes in great concern. He stood spell-bound
under the witchery of her beauty.

"I came to warn you, Prince," she said, and her soft musical voice
set every nerve in Thorndyke's body to tingling with delight.
"My father has banished the faithful slave that you love, but you
must not show the anger that you feel, else he will kill you. You
must be exceedingly cautious if you would save him. My father
would punish me severely if he knew that I had sought you in this
way. I was obliged to come in disguise; this dress belongs to my
most trusted maid."

"And you came for my sake?" blurted out the Englishman, much
embarrassed; "I am not worthy of such a high honor."

She smiled and tears rose in her eyes.

"Oh, Prince, don't speak to me so! You are far above me. I am
weak. I know nothing. I never cared for other men than the king
and my brothers till I saw you today, but now I would willingly be
your slave."

"I am yours forever, and an humble one," bowed the courteous
Englishman. "The moment I saw you at the throne of your father my
heart went out to you. You wound it up in your music and trampled
it under your dancing feet. I have been over the whole world, and
you are the loveliest creature in it. It is because I saw you,
because you are here, that I do not want to leave your country.
They may do as they will with me if they only will let me see you
now and then."

The princess was deeply moved. The blood rushed to her face and
beautified it. Her eyes fell beneath his admiring glance.
Thorndyke could not restrain himself. He caught her slender hand
and pressed it passionately to his lips, and she made only a
slight effort to prevent it.

"I am your obedient slave; what shall I do?" he asked.

"Do not try to rescue him now," she said softly. "I shall come to
you again when we are not watched--you can know me by this dress.
There is no need for great haste, he could live in the Barrens
several days; I shall try to think of some way to save him, though
such a thing has never been done--never."

Footsteps were heard on the other side of the row of ferns. A man
was passing and others soon followed him. The bathers were leaving
the great pool.

"I must leave you now," she whispered. "If the king honors you
again by talking of his kingdom, continue to act as you did; your
fearlessness and good humor have pleased him greatly."

"Could I not persuade him to bring Johnston back?"

"No; that would be impossible; those who are pronounced physically
unfit are obliged to die. It has been a law for a long time; you
must not count on that. I have, however, another plan, but I
cannot tell you of it now, for they may miss me and wonder where I
am, and then, too, my father may be looking for you. He will
naturally desire to see you soon again."

Bowing, she turned away and passed on toward the apartments of the
king, which the Englishman now recognized in the distance.
Thorndyke went into the bathing-room to watch those remaining in
the great pool of rose-colored water. The sight was beautiful. The
waves which lapped against the shelving shores of white marble
were pink and white, and the deeper water was as red as coral.

The Englishman was at once troubled over the fate of Johnston and
elated over having won Bernardino's regard. Thoughtfully he
strolled away from the bathers into a great picture-gallery. Here
hung on the walls and stood on pedestals some of the rarest works
of art he had ever seen. He passed through this room and was
entering a shady retreat where plants, flowers and umbrageous
trees grew thickly, when he heard a step behind him and the
rustling of a silken skirt against the plants.

It was Bernardino.

"We can be unobserved here," she said, taking off her thick veil
and arranging her luxuriant hair. "I hasten back. The king thinks,
so my maid tells me, that I am asleep in my chamber. He is busy
with an audience of police from a neighboring town and will not
think of us."

She sat down on a sofa upholstered in leather, and he took a seat
beside her. "I am glad that we can talk alone," he said, "for I
have much to ask you. First, tell me where we are,--where this
strange country is on the map of the world."

"It is a long story," she replied, "and it would greatly incense
the king if he should find out that I had told you, for one of his
chief pleasures is to note the surprise and admiration of new-
comers over what they see here. But if you will promise to gratify
his vanity in this particular I will try to explain it all."

"I promise, and you can depend on my not getting you into
trouble," replied Thorndyke. "I never was so puzzled in my life,
with that sullen sky overhead, the wonderful changing sunlight,
and the remarkable atmosphere. I am both bewildered and entranced.
Every moment I see something new and startling. Where are we?"

"Far beneath the ocean and the surface of the earth. I only know
what the king has let fall in my hearing in his conferences with
his men of science and inventors; but I shall try to make you
understand how it all came about."

"It was a long time ago, two hundred years back, I suppose, that
one of my ancestors discovered a little isolated island in the
Atlantic Ocean. He was forced in a storm to land there with his
ship and crew to make some repairs in his vessel. In wandering
about over the island he discovered a narrow entrance to a cave,
and, with two or three of his men, he began to explore it. When
they had gone for a mile or two down into the interior of the
cavern, which seemed to lead straight down toward the centre of
the earth, they began to find small pieces of gold. The further
they went the more they found, till at last the very cavern walls
seemed lined with it.

"They were at first wildly excited over their sudden good fortune
and were about to load their ship with it and return to Europe at
once, but the better judgment of my ancestor prevailed. He
explained that, if the world were informed of the discovery of
such an inexhaustible mine of gold, that the value of the precious
metal would decline till it would be worth little more than some
grosser metal, and that if they would only keep their secret to
themselves they could in time control the finances of the world.
So, acting on this suggestion, they only dug out a few thousand
pounds and took part of it to Europe and part of it to America
and turned it into money.

"Then, to curtail my story, they elected my ancestor as ruler,
and, with ships loaded with every available convenience that
inexhaustible wealth could procure and a colony of carefully
chosen men, they returned to the island.

"After the men and their families had settled in the great roomy
mouth of the cavern my ancestor supplied himself with several
strong men and food and lights, and sought to explore the entire

"To their astonishment they found that it was practically endless.
When they had gone down about sixty or seventy miles below the sea
level they found themselves on a vast, undulating plain, the soil
of which was dark and rich, with the black roof of the cavern
arching overhead like the bottom of a great inverted bowl. And
when they had travelled about ten days and reached the other side
my ancestor calculated that the cave must be over one hundred

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