Oh, it was a triumphal procession, and had I been less weary, I presume I would have felt quite the hero. Already, she informed us, great numbers of young men were clearing away the bodies of the dead Rorn. She was so happy she could hardly restrain herself.
poiflattequa.tk A dim skeleton shape bulked up at my left. I turned to look at it, and Imee, watching me through the lights of my head-piece, nodded and smiled. Yes, this was the very hulk by which she had been swimming when the shark had attacked her, the shark which had been the cause of the accident. She darted on to show me the very rib upon which her head had struck, stunning her so that she had drifted, unconscious and storm-tossed, to the shore of Mercer's estate.
I studied the wreck. It was battered and tilted on its beam ends, but I could still make out the high poop that marked it as a very old ship. A Rorn we made prisoner once told us his people discovered it first.
They went into this strange skeleton, and inside were many blocks of very bright stone. Evidently the captive had told his story well. A swim, it seemed, was the distance a Teemorn could travel before the need for rest became imperative. And of them, they made a house for their leader. All this our prisoner told us before we took him, with a rock made fast to him, out over the Place of Darkness.
He, too, was very proud of their leader's house. Our air supply is running damnably low. By the time we blow out the tanks we'll be just about out. And foul air will keep us here until we rot. I'm sorry, sir, but that's the way matters stand. The specifications—".
And back. For more compressed air. We must remember to plot our course exactly.
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You kept the record on the way out as I instructed you? Weakly he made his way forward to the little cubbyhole in which was housed the central station of his thought-telegraph. I didn't even inspect the gleaming maze of apparatus. I merely watched him dully as he plugged in an antenna similar to the one we had left with Imee, and adjusted the things on his head.
He sat there, frowning intently for a moment, and then dragged the antenna wearily from his head. He touched a switch somewhere, and several softly glowing bulbs turned slowly red and then dark.
We overdid it. She understands, I think. Terribly sorry,  terribly disappointed. Some sort of celebration planned, I gather.
Captain Bonnett! Be sure and chart the course back, so we may locate this spot again. Still feeling none too well, Mercer and I made our way to the narrow deck. It did. There was a fresh breeze blowing in from the Atlantic, and I filled my lungs gratefully. I had not realized until that instant just how foul the air below had been. Just as Mercer's eager fingers touched the precious papers, however, the wind whisked them from Bonnett's grasp and whirled them into the water. Bonnett gasped and gazed after them for a split second; then, barely pausing to tear off his coat, he plunged over the side.
Ten minutes later, his uniform bedraggled and shapeless, he pulled himself on deck. Then Mercer turned to me, and a smile struggled for life. You thought before, you know, that—". And—Imee will not come again to guide us; she will think we have deserted her. And"—he smiled slowly up into my eyes—"perhaps it is as well. After all, the photographs and the data I wanted would do the world no practical good. We did Imee and her people a good turn; let's content ourselves with that.
I, for one, am satisfied. Shall we go ashore? We did go ashore, silently. And as we got out of the boat, and set foot again upon the sand, we both turned and looked out across the smiling Atlantic, dancing brightly in the sun. Away up beside her monster funnels her siren blew dismally, Whoo-oo-oo-oo! Her decks were wet and glistening.
Droplets of water stood upon the deck-stanchions, and dripped from the outer edge of the roof above the promenade deck. A thin, swirling fog lay soggily upon the water and the big steamer went dead slow upon her course, sending dismal and depressing blasts from her horn from time to time. It was barely possible to see from one side of the ship to the other.
It was surely impossible to see the bow from a point half astern. Charley Bell  went forward along the promenade deck. Ortiz bowed to him punctiliously, but Bell had a sudden impression that the Argentine's face was gray and ghastly. He checked himself and looked back. The little man was climbing the companion-ladder toward the wireless room.
He did not want to give an impression of furtiveness, but the Almirante Gomez was twelve days out of New York and Bell was still entirely ignorant of why he was on board. He had been called into the office of his chief in the State Department and told curtly that his request for leave of absence had been granted. And Bell had not asked for a leave of absence.
But at just that moment he saw a rubber band on the desk of his immediate superior, a fairly thick rubber band which had been tied into a certain intricate knot. And Bell had kept quiet. He went to his apartment, found his bags packed and tickets to Rio via the Almirante Gomez in an envelope on his dressing-table, and went out and caught a train to the ship.
And that was all he knew. The siren up above blared dolefully into the fog. It was damp, and soggy, and depressing. The other passengers were under cover, and the decks seemed to be deserted. From the saloon came the sound of music. Bell pulled the collar of his light topcoat about his throat and strolled on toward the bow.
He faced a row of steamer chairs. There was a figure curled up in one of them. Paula Canalejas, muffled up against the dampness and staring somberly out into the mist. Bell had met her in Washington and liked her a great deal, but he swore softly at sight of her in his way. The afternoon before, he had seen a stoker on the Almirante Gomez pick up a bit of rope and absently tie knots in it while he exchanged Rabelasian humor with his fellows. He had not looked at Bell at all, but the knots he tied were the same that Bell had last seen tied in a rubber band on a desk in the State Department in Washington.
And Bell knew a recognition signal when he saw one.
In Buenos Aires I—I do not know. A NASA rep recruits an oil driller and his team of mavericks to save Earth from an oncoming asteroid. I shall follow! Agent Hobbs offers Dom Toretto and his crew a full pardon if they help him nab a gang of lethally skilled mercenary drivers whose second-in-command is someone they all know. Hardly bothering to slow down, I turned off the concrete onto the long, weed-grown gravel drive, and shot between the two massive, stuccoed pillars that guarded the drive. One could make out struts, an aileron's trailing edge. They went in together.
The stoker would be off watch, just now, and by all the rules of reason he ought to be out there on the forecastle, waiting for Bell to turn up and receive instructions.