The sea was a sheet of silver,
tinged with pink. The tremendous arch of the sky was all shimmering
and glimmering with the promise of the sun. Already the mist above,
flecked with clustered clouds, flushed with rose colour and dull gold.
I heard the low splash of the waves breaking and curling across the
beach. A wandering breeze, fresh and fragrant, blew the curtains of
my window. There was the scent of sweet bay in the room, and everywhere
the subtle, nameless perfume of the sea.
When at last
I stood upon the shore, the air and sea were all aglimmer in a rosy
light, deepening to crimson in the zenith. Along the beach I saw a
little cove, shelving and all ashine, where shallow waves washed with
a mellow sound. Fine as dusted gold the shingle glowed, and the thin
film of water rose, receded, crept up again a little higher, and again
flowed back, with the Low hiss of snowy foam and gilded bubbles breaking.
I stood a little
while quiet, my eyes upon the water, the invitation of the ocean in
my ears, vague and sweet as the murmur of a shell. Then I looked at
my bathing suit and towels.
go!” said I aloud. A second later the prophecy was fulfilled.
I swam far
out to sea, and as I swam the waters all around me turned to gold.
The sun had risen.
There is a
fragrance in the sea at dawn that none can name. Whitethorn abloom
in May, sedges asway, and scented rushes rustling in an inland wind
recall the sea to me—I can’t say why.
Far out at
sea I raised myself; swung around, dived, and set out again for shore,
striking strong strokes until the flecked foam flew. And when at last
I shot through the breakers, I laughed aloud and sprang upon the beach,
breathless and happy. Then from the ocean came another cry, clear,
joyous, and a white arm rose in the air.
She came drifting
in with the waves like a white sea-sprite, laughing at me from her
tangled hair, and I plunged into the breakers again to join her.
Side by side
we swam along the coast, just outside the breakers, until in the next
cove we saw the flutter of her maid’s cap strings.
beat you to breakfast!” she cried, as I rested, watching her
glide up along the beach.
said I—”for a sea-shell!”
she called across the water.
I made good
speed along the shore, and I was not long in dressing, but when I
entered the dining-room she was there, demure, smiling, exquisite
in her cool, white frock.
sea-shell is yours,” said I. “I hope I can find one with
a pearl in it.”
hurried in before she could reply. He greeted me very cordially, but
there was an abstracted air about him, and he called rue Dick until
I recognised that remonstrance was useless. He was not long over his
coffee and rolls.
and Frisby will return with the last load, including your trunk, by
early afternoon,” he said, rising and picking up his bundle
of drawings. “I haven’t time to explain to you what we
are doing, Dick, but Daisy will take you about and instruct you. She
will give you the rifle standing in my room—it’s a good
Winchester. I have sent for an ‘Express’ for you, big
enough to knock over any elephant in India.—Daisy, take him
through the sheds and tell him everything. Luncheon is at noon.—Do
you usually take luncheon, Dick?”
I am permitted,” I smiled.
said the professor doubtfully, “you mustn’t come back
here for it. Freda can take you what you want. Is your hand unsteady
papa!” said Daisy. “Do you intend to starve him?”
We all laughed.
tucked his drawings into a capacious pocket, pulled his sea boots
up to his hips, seized a spade, and left, nodding to us as though
he were thinking of something else.
We went to
the door and watched him across the salt meadows until a distant sand
dune hid him.
said Daisy Holroyd, “I am going to take you to the shop.”
She put on
a broad-brimmed straw hat, a distractingly pretty combination of filmy
cool stuffs, and led the way to the long low structure that I bad
noticed the evening before.
was lighted by the numberless little portholes, and I could see everything
plainly. I acknowledge I was nonplussed by what I did see.
In the centre
of the shed, which must have been at least a hundred feet long, stood
what I thought at first was the skeleton of an enormous whale. After
a moment’s silent contemplation of the thing I saw that it could
not be a whale, for the frames of two gigantic bat-like wings rose
from each shoulder. Also I noticed that the animal possessed legs—four
of them—with most unpleasant-looking webbed claws fully eight
feet long. The bony framework of the head, too, resembled something
between a crocodile and a monstrous snapping turtle. The walls of
the shanty were hung with drawings and blue prints. A man dressed
in white linen was tinkering with the vertebrae of the lizard-like
on earth did such a reptile come from?” I asked at length.
it’s not real!” said Daisy scornfully; “it’s
said I—”a stage prop.”
asked Daisy, in hurt astonishment.
a—a sort of Siegfried dragon— a what’ s-his-name—————er,
Pfafner, or Peffer, or—”
father heard you say such things he would dislike you,” said
Daisy. She looked grieved, and moved toward the door. I apologized—for
what, I knew not—and we became reconciled. She ran into her
father’s room and brought me the rifle, a very good Winchester.
She also gave me a cartridge belt, full.
she smiled, “I shall take you to your observatory, and when
we arrive you are to begin your duty at once.”
that duty?” I ventured, shouldering the rifle.
duty is, to watch the ocean. I shall then explain the whole affair—but
you mustn’t look at me while I speak; you must watch the sea.”
said I, “is hardship. I had rather go without the luncheon.”
I do not think
she was offended at my speech; still she frowned for almost three
We passed through
acres of sweet bay and spear grass, sometimes skirting thickets of
twisted cedars, sometimes walking in the full glare of the morning
sun, sinking into shifting sand where sun-scorched shells crackled
under our feet, and sun-browned seaweed glistened, bronzed and iridescent.
Then, as we climbed a little hill, the sea wind freshened in our faces,
and lo! the ocean lay below us, far-stretching as the eye could reach,
Daisy sat down
flat on the sand. It takes a clever girl to do that and retain the
respectful deference due her from men. It takes a graceful girl to
accomplish it triumphantly when a man is looking.
must sit beside me,” she said—as though it would prove
irksome to me.
she continued, “you must watch the water while I am talking.”
don’t you do it, then?” she asked.
in wrenching my head toward the ocean, although I felt sure it would
swing gradually round again in spite of me.
with,” said Daisy Holroyd, “there’s a thing in that
ocean that would astonish you if you saw it. Turn your head!”
I said meekly.
you hear what I said?”
thing in the ocean that’s going to astonish me.” Visions
of mermaids rose before me.
thing,” said Daisy, “is a Thermosaurus!
I nodded vaguely,
as though anticipating a delightful introduction to a nautical friend.
don’t seem astonished,” she said reproachfully.
should I be?” I asked.
turn your eyes toward the water. Suppose a Thermosaurus should look
out of the waves!”
said I, “in that case the pleasure would be mutual.” She
frowned, and bit her upper lip.
know what a Thermosaurus is?” she asked.
am to guess,” said I, “I guess it’s a jellyfish.”
that big, ugly, horrible creature that I showed you in the shed!”
cried Daisy impatiently. “Eh!” I stammered.
papier-mache either,” she continued excitedly; “it’s
a real one.”
This was pleasant
news. I glanced instinctively at my rifle and then at the ocean.
said I at last, “it strikes me that you and I resemble a pair
of Andromedas waiting to be swallowed. This rifle won’t stop
a beast, a live beast, like that Nibelungen dragon of yours.”
it will,” she said; “it’s not an ordinary rifle.”
Then, for the
first time, I noticed, just below the magazine, a cylindrical attachment
that was strange to me.
if you will watch the sea very carefully, and will promise not to
look at me,” said Daisy, “I will try to explain.”
She did not
wait for me to promise, but went on eagerly, a sparkle of excitement
in her blue eyes:
know, of all the fossil remains of the great bat-like and lizard-like
creatures that inhabited the earth ages and ages ago, the bones of
the gigantic saurians are the most interesting. I think they used
to splash about the water and fly over the land during the Carboniferous
period; anyway, it doesn’t matter. Of course, you have seen
pictures of reconstructed creatures such as the Ichthyosaurus, the
Plesiosaurus, the Anthracosaurus, and the Thermosaurus?”
I nodded, trying
to keep my eyes from hers.
you know that the remains of the Thermosaurus were first discovered
and reconstructed by papa?”
said I. There was no use in saying no.
glad you do. Now, papa has proved that this creature lived entirely
in the Gulf Stream, emerging for occasional flights across an ocean
or two. Can you imagine how fe proved it?”
said I, resolutely pointing my nose at the ocean.
it by a minute examination of the microscopical shells found among
the ribs of the Thermosaurus These shells contained little creatures
that live only in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. They were the
food of the Thermosaurus”
rather slender rations for a thing like that, wasn’t it? Did
he ever swallow bigger food—er—men?”
yes. Tons of fossil bones from prehistoric men are also found in the
interior of the Thermosaurus”
said I, “you, at least, had better go back to Captain McPeek’s”
turn around; don’t be so foolish. I didn’t say there was
a live Thermosaurus in the water, did I?”
My relief was
genuine, but I thought of the rifle and looked suspiciously out to
the Winchester for?” I asked.
and I will explain. Papa has found out—how, I do not exactly
understand—that there is in the waters of the Gulf Stream the
body of a Tliermosaurus. The creature must have been alive within
a year or so. The impenetrable scale armour that covers its body has,
as far as papa knows, prevented its disintegration. We know that it
is there still, or was there within a few months. Papa has reports
and sworn depositions from steamer captains and seamen from a dozen
different vessels, all corroborating each other in essential details.
These stories, of course, get into the newspapers—sea-serpent
stories—but papa knows that they confirm his theory that the
huge body of this reptile is swinging along somewhere on the Gulf
her sunshade and held it over her. I noticed that she deigned to give
me the benefit of about one eighth of it.
duty with that rifle is this: If we are fortunate enough to see the
body of the Thermosaurus come floating by, you are to take good aim
and fire—fire rapidly every bullet in the magazine; then reload
and lire again, and reload and fire as long as you have any cartridges
Maxim is what I should have,” I said with gentle sarcasm. “Well,
and suppose I make a sieve of this big lizard?”
see these rings in the sand?” she asked.
somebody had driven heavy piles deep into the sand all around us,
and to the tops of these piles were attached steel rings, half buried
under the spear grass. We sat almost exactly in the centre of a circle
of these rings.
reason is this,” said Daisy: “every bullet in your cartridges
is steel-tipped and armourpiercing. To the base of each bullet is
attached a thin wire of pallium. Pallium is that new metal, a thread
of which, drawn out into finest wire, will hold a ton of iron suspended.
Every bullet is fitted with minute coils of miles of this wire. When
the bullet leaves the rifle it spins out this wire as a shot from
a life-saver’s mortar spins out and carries the life line to
a wrecked ship. The end of each coil of wire is attached to that cylinder
under the magazine of your rifle. As soon as the shell is automatically
ejected this wire flies out also. A bit of scarlet tape is fixed to
the end, so that it will be easy to pick up. There is also a snap
clasp on the end, and this clasp fits those rings that you see in
the sand. Now, when you begin firing, it is my duty to run and pick
up the wire ends and attach them to the rings. Then, you see, we have
the body of the Thermosaurus full of bullets, every bullet anchored
to the shore by tiny wires, each of which could easily bold a ton’s
I looked at
her in amazement.
she added calmly, “we have captured the Thermosaurus.”
father,” said I at length, “must have spent years of labour
over this preparation.”
the work of a lifetime,” she said simply.
My face, I
suppose, showed my misgivings.
not fail,” she added.
we are nowhere near the Gulf Stream,” I ventured.
Her face brightened,
and she frankly held the sunshade over us both.
you don’t know,” she said, “what else papa has discovered.
Would you believe that he has found a loop in the Gulf Stream—a
genuine loop that swings in here just outside of the breakers below?
It is true! Everybody on Long Island knows that there is a warm current
off the coast, but nobody imagined it was merely a sort of backwater
from the Gulf Stream that formed a great circular millrace around
the cone of a subterranean volcano, and rejoined the Gulf Stream oft
Cape Albatross. But it is! That is why papa bought a yacht three years
ago and sailed about for two years so mysteriously. Oh, I did want
to go with him so much!”
said I, ‘‘is most astonishing.”
enthusiastically toward me, her lovely face aglow.
it?” she said; “and to think that you and papa and I are
the only people in the whole world who know this!”
To be included
in such a triology was very delightful.
is writing the whole thing—I mean about the currents. He also
has in preparation sixteen volumes on the Thermosaurus. He said this
morning that he was going to ask you to write the story first for
some scientific magazine. He is certain that Professor Bruce Stoddard,
of Columbia, will write the pamphlets necessary. This will give papa
time to attend to the sixteen-volume work, which he expects to finish
in three years.”
us first,” said I, laughing, “catch our Thermosaurus.”
not fail,” she said wistfully.
not fail,” I said, “for I promise to sit on this sand
hill as long as I live—until a Thermosaurus appears—if
that is your wish, Miss Holroyd.”
Our eyes met
for an instant. She did not chide me, either, for not looking at the
ocean. Her eyes were bluer, anyway.
she said, bending her head and absently pouring sand between her fingers—”I
suppose you think me a blue-stocking, or something odious?”
exactly,” I said. There was an emphasis in my voice that made
her colour. After a moment she laid the sunshade down, still open.
I hold it?” I asked.
The ocean had
turned a deep marine blue, verging on purple, that heralded a scorching
afternoon. The wind died away; the odour of cedar and sweet bay hung
heavy in the air.
In the sand
at our feet an iridescent flower beetle crawled, its metallic green
and blue wings burning like a spark. Great gnats, with filmy, glittering
wings, danced aimlessly above the young golden-rod; burnished crickets,
inquisitive, timid, ran from under chips of driftwood, waved their
antennae at us, and ran back again, One by one the marbled tiger beetles
tumbled at our feet, dazed from the exertion of an aerial flight,
then scrambled and tan a little way, or darted into the wire grass,
where great brilliant spiders eyed them askance from their gossamer
Far out at
sea the white gulls floated and drifted on the water, or sailed up
into the air to flap lazily for a moment and settle back among the
waves. Strings of black surf ducks passed, their strong wings tipping
the surface of the water; single wandering coots whirled from the
breakers into lonely flight toward the horizon.
We lay and
watched the little ring-necks running along the water’s edge,
now backing away from the incoming tide, now boldly wading after the
undertow. The harmony of silence, the deep perfume, the mystery of
waiting for that something that all await—what is it? love?
death? or only the miracle of another morrow?—troubled me with
vague restfulness. As sunlight casts shadows, happiness, too, throws
a shadow, and the shadow is sadness.
And so the
morning wore away until Freda came with a cool-looking hamper. Then
delicious cold fowl and lettuce sandwiches and champagne cup set our
tongues wagging as only very young tongues can wag. Daisy went back
with Freda after luncheon, leaving me a case of cigars, with a bantering
smile. I dozed, half awake, keeping a partly closed eye on the ocean,
where a faint gray streak showed plainly amid the azure water all
around. That was the Gulf Stream loop.
o’clock Frisby appeared with a bamboo shelter tent, for which
I was unaffectedly grateful.
After he had
erected it over me he stopped to chat a bit, but the conversation
bored me, for he could talk of nothing but bill-posting.
wouldn’t ruin the landscape here, would you?” I asked.
it!” repeated Frisby nervously. “It’s ruined now;
there ain’t a place to stick a bill.”
snipe stick bills—in the sand,” I said flippantly.
There was no
humour about Frisby. “Do they?” he asked.
I moved with
a certain impatience.
said Frisby, “give spice an variety to Nature. They break the
monotony of the everlastin’ green and what-you-may call-its.”
I glared at
he continued, “are not easy to stick, lemme tell you, sir. Sign
paintin’s a soft snap when it comes to bill-stickin’.
Now, I guess I’ve stuck more bills in New York State than ennybody.”
you?” I said angrily.
siree! I always pick out the purtiest spots—kinder filled chuck
full of woods and brooks and things; then I h’ist ray paste-pot
onto a rock, and I slather that rock with gum, and whoop she goes!”
bill. I paste her onto the rock, with one swipe of the brush for the
edges and a backhanded swipe for the finish—except when a bill
is folded in two halves.”
what do you do then?” I asked, disgusted.
twice,” said Frisby with enthusiasm.
you don’t think it injures the landscape?”
it!” he exclaimed, convinced that I was attempting to joke.
I looked wearily
out to sea. lie also looked at the water and sighed sentimentally.
buoys with bills onto ‘em is a idea of mine,” he observed.
“That damn ocean is monotonous, ain’t it?”
know what I might have done to Frisby—the rifle was so convenient
if his mean yellow dog had not waddled up at this juncture.
Davy, sic ‘em!” said Frisby, expectorating upon a clamshell
and hurling it seaward. The cur watched the flight of the shell apathetically,
then squatted in the sand and looked at his master.
lost his spirit,” said Frisby, “ain’t lie? I once
stuck a bill onto Davy, an’ it come off an’ the paste
sorter sickened him. He was hell on rats—once!”
After a moment
or two Frisby took himself off; whistling cheerfully to Davy, who
followed him when he was ready. The rifle burned in my fingers.
It was nearly
six o’clock when the professor appeared, spade on shoulder,
boots smeared with mud.
he said, “nothing to report, Dick, my boy?”
He wiped his
shining face with his handkerchief and stared at the water.
lead me to believe,” he said, “that our prize may be due
any day now. This theory I base upon the result of the report from
the last sea captain I saw. I can not understand why some of these
captains did not take the carcass in tow. They all say that they tried,
but that the body sank before they could come within half a mile.
The truth is, probably, that they did not stir a foot from their course
to examine the thing.”
you ever cruised about for it?” I ventured.
two years,” he said grimly. “It’s no use; it’s
accident when a ship falls in with it. One captain reports it a thousand
miles from where the last skipper spoke it, and always in the Gulf
Stream. They think it is a different specimen every time, and the
papers are teeming with sea-serpent fol-de-rol.”
you sure,” I asked, “that it will swing in to the coast
on this Gulf Stream loop?”
I may say that it is certain to do so. I experimented with a dead
right whale. You may have heard of its coming ashore here last summer.”
I did,” said I with a faint smile. The thing had poisoned the
air for miles around.
I continued, “suppose it comes in the night?”
I am lucky. Every night this month, and every day, too, the current
of the loop runs inland so far that even a porpoise would strand for
at least twelve hours. Longer than that I have not experimented with,
but I know that the shore trend of the loop runs across a long spur
of the submerged volcanic mountain, and that anything heavier than
a porpoise would scrape the bottom and be carried so slowly that at
least twelve hours must elapse before the carcass could float again
into deep water. There are chances of its stranding indefinitely,
too, but I don’t care to take those chances. That is why I have
stationed you here, Dick, my boy.”
again at the water, smiling to himself.
is another question I want to ask,” I said, “if you don’t
not!” he said warmly.
are you digging for?”
simply for exercise. The doctor told me I was killing myself with
my sedentary habits, so I decided to dig. I don’t know a better
exercise. Do you?”
not,” I murmured, rather red in the face. I wondered whether
he’d mention fossils.
Daisy tell you why we are making our papier-mache Thermosautus?”
I shook my
that from measurements I took from the fossil remains of the Thermosaurus
in the Metropolitan Museum. Professor Bruce Stoddard made the drawings.
We set it up here, all ready to receive the skin of the carcass that
I am expecting.”
We had started
toward home, walking slowly across the darkening dunes, shoulder to
shoulder. The sand was deep, and walking was not easy.
said I at last, “that I knew why Miss Holroyd asked me not to
walk on the beach. It’s much less fatiguing.”
said the professor, “is a matter that I intend to discuss with
you to-night.” He spoke gravely, almost sadly. I felt that something
of unparalleled importance was soon to be revealed. So I kept very
quiet, watching the ocean out of the corners of my eyes.
End of PART THREE..... GO TO