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HOME > Short Stories > Lost in the Atlantic Valley > CHAPTER XI. ON THE REEF.
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Not one of the party but felt quite confident that they would soon stand on terra firma above the sea.

There was every indication that land was just before them.

“Bejabers, I hope its a civilized land we’ll foind, and divil a cannibal,” said Barney. “I’ve no taste for bein’ ate up in mishtake fer a lobster as soon as iver I cum out av the wather!”

“Golly, dey would neber eat yo’ fo’ dat, I’ish!” grunted Pomp. “I’se dead suah ob dat.”

“Shure, they’d run for their loives if iver they saw you coming out av the say.”

But there was no time for argument, so it was dropped for the time being, and all made ready.

The Dart was securely anchored, and then lots were drawn to see who should remain aboard.

As chance had it, it fell to the lot of Captain Bell.

The terrified captain turned white as a corpse and groaned aloud.

Barney saw this and said:

“Shure, sor, yez kin go along with the rist. I’ll sthay.”

And so the cowardly captain was relieved in a measure of his fears. But the respect of the others for him was greatly diminished.

However, Frank had arranged it so that the one left aboard the Dart should not be cut off from communication with the others.

He carried a small spool of thin wire and a battery.

As he would proceed, this could be paid out, and with a small ticker a message could be easily sent to the Dart.

This was a certain way of informing Barney when they should reach the land, and also the Celt could easier gain the shore by simply following up the wire.

The searchlight’s glare was thrown as far as possible up over the reefs, so that the course could easily be seen.

If the shore was successfully reached and it was not far distant, all of the valuable effects of the Dart could thus be saved.

At last all was ready, and then the party left the anchored boat.

Quickly they began to climb the reefs.

Up and up they went.

It was fearfully slow work, and they were obliged to pause many times to rest.

But at length they saw what they believed was the light of day above.

Then the reefs began to assume a smoother character.

There was a regular motion to the waves, which was a certainty that they were nearing the surface.

Frank Reade, Jr., and Pomp were in the advance.

Indeed, they would have reached the surface much quicker but for the necessity of constantly turning to look out for the two older men.

They came along more slowly.

In fact, Bell was hardly able to climb the reefs.

But after awhile the motion of the water became such that they were able plainly to realize that the surface was but a few feet above.

Frank was the first to emerge from the water. His head came above the surface suddenly. He looked about.

The scene which met his gaze was far different from what he had expected.

There was no long line of coast, no inviting shore with tropical foliage and high cliffs of stone.

Naught but the dreary, boundless, tossing waste of waters was to be seen as far as the eye could reach.

The reef cropped up just high enough so that the lightest waves combed over it. Frank crawled upon it and stood in several inches of water.

It was a solitary reef in the midst of the ocean.

Just this and nothing more. So far as offering an asylum or means of rescue to the explorers, this was out of the question.

It would not be even safe for them to remain upon the reef long.

For a stiff gale was threatening, and they could hardly hope to cling to the reef without harm.

Not a sail was in sight. Neither was there much likelihood that this was in the path of sailing vessels, else it would have been marked with a buoy.

All drew themselves out of the water and stood for a time upon the submerged reef looking blankly around.

They removed their helmets, and for the first time in many weeks took a breath of pure air.

“Well, this is not just what we expected, is it?” said Frank.

“Well, hardly,” growled Bell. “I tell you luck is against me.”

“Against you?” asked Von Bulow.


“Why you more than the rest of us?”

“It’s harder for me.”

“Well,” said the scientist, emphatically, “I can’t agree with you. Take my advice, Bell. Think less of yourself and you will be more cheerful.”

The captain did not see fit to reply to this shot, which was a telling and deserved one.

“Golly, Marse Frank!” cried Pomp, as he looked about, “I don’t fink we cud swim dat stretch berry easy.”

“No, I think not,” agreed Frank. “It is a little too vast.”

Then the situation was discussed.

“I don’t see that we have gained anything by this discovery,” said Von Bulow. “Have we?”

“Not a thing,” agreed Frank.

“We are no better off than before.”

“But very little.”

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