In time

“Do you see anything, Leslie?”

‘No Trace, unfortunately, Mr. Engineer. Let’s try the Spotlight one more time. ”

The white, dazzling light was cast over the region, and shone brightly on every branch and every leaf on the large trees at the edge of the forest; but no trace of the missing was to be seen.

Twenty times at least they had already illuminated the whole area, and the people from the airship had repeatedly searched the forest, shouted and led without result.

They had fired revolvers and guns, but all in vain.

Burd and Bill had just returned from such an expedition.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing,” they said sadly, “we have searched this whole part of the Forest. We have not found anything, God forbid not even their soulless bodies, but that is really only a poor consolation. ”

“Let’s try the cannon!” Cried Leslie, “where we have been stupid, its loud bang can then be heard far away and lead them on the right track if they are lost.”

At the same time, there were steps outside.

“Hello! Hyde! Burd! ‘Was Stone’s voice, and the next moment he appeared on the narrow wooden bridge.

“Hooray!” Cried Handerson, and in front of him in the meeting; “Where are the others?” He added when he saw that Stone was alone.

“Where in the world have you been?” Hyde asked Handerson.

»The weather! I’m been in Captivity! ”

“In captivity! So here are People? ‘

“Yes, you can probably call them humans, they are a kind of human-like monsters at least. They are very interesting, “Stone added thoughtfully,” they are well worth studying closely, we must return to them in all cases, for Miss Gray and Dillingham are in their power. ”

“How did you get free?” Hyde asked.

“It was Dillingham who freed himself and me to hurry for help. He definitely wanted to go down to the cave again to be nearby by Miss Gray. He raved about killing them all at once, a completely insane idea. ”

“Let us not waste our time now, but let us go on our way to save them!” Cried Hyde eagerly.

Leslie had already opened the ammunition room and handed out his weapon to the others.

“How many were there?” Burd asked.

“I suppose a couple of dozen,” Stone replied.

“Well,” said Hyde, “let’s get going. When we lock the door in the tower, we can probably all leave the ship. They should probably not run with that. ”

They now all went down from the platform, lastly Hyde, who locked the door, and from there it went out into the dark forest.

It took over an hour before they reached the place. Stone gave them a detailed account along the way, which for once was completely without scientific explanations.

“Here is the descent to the cave,” Stone said as they stood in front of the dark opening that gaped at them in meeting.

They all crept gently down the low corridor.

The cave soon widened so much that they could go on upright.

“Turn on the light,” Stone said.

Hyde turned on his electric lantern and threw the light around the cave.

Ceiling and Floor were formed of Drip Stone. The walls were completely studded with Crystals of all possible Colors and Shapes. The light was broken in them and thrown back in innumerable Shades of Color – it was like a Fepalad from 1001 Nights.

At the moment, however, they had no idea of ​​this magnificent sight; they looked eagerly to find the right path, for it led at least a hundred different times away from this cave.

“Hush,” said Stone, “let us be quite quiet and listen, maybe some sound can get us on track.”

They stood with held breath and listened; but nothing was heard but the monotonous splash of the water-drops dripping down from the ceiling of the cave.

“There will be nothing left,” Hyde said at last, with a sad expression, “but that we must examine each time separately.”

At the same time there was a faint rustle, which was followed by a series of sharp clicks from the gay males that were excited.

With their finger on the trigger, they slid forward in the direction from which the faint sound came.

Suddenly Hyde stumbled and fell as long as he was over something lying on the slippery floor. The others rushed in, and Leslie bumped with the flask against a body that lay stretched out on the floor in front of him.

It was a Martian creature with a broken skull.

“Here it was,” Stone said, “that Dillingham hit him on the floor when he wanted to block the way for us. We then quarreled as to whether we should hurry as soon as possible for help or immediately penetrate deeper into the cave. Dillingham held on to the latter and would not at all listen to my notions of the useless and foolhardy of his proposals. Eventually he turned his back on me and disappeared through the round opening there. ”

“Then we must go that way!” Cried Hyde, who had now got back on his feet, and they all penetrated deeper into the dark corridor, which opened into a large, round cave, from whose ceiling the white, semi-transparent stalactites hung. down into all sorts of amazing and distorted Forms. Hyde let his lantern shine around the cave, and at long last they discovered a figure standing with its back up against the wall and with a revolver in each hand.

It was Dillingham.

The sudden glare dazzled him, so that he could not see who was approaching.

“Where’s Miss Gray?” Shouted Burd.

“I have not been able to find her,” he said in a low voice, lowering his revolvers.

Suddenly there was a shrill scream that sounded like it was coming down from.

“There must be a cave just below this one!” Cried Stone.

They all began to chop loose on the floor with the gun flasks, and the brittle lime gave way to each blow.

We now leave our friends in the cave for a while and go back to the moment when Stone and Dillingham were released, and Stone was in a hurry for help, while Dillingham searched in vain for Ethel.

Ethel, who had made little resistance, had been dragged deeper into the Cave than the other two.

At first it was pitch dark, but as she got further down, it got lighter.

She now found herself in a mighty stalactite cave, whose floor and walls were smooth and mirror-shiny, while from the ceiling hung mighty stalactites in immense quantity. The backdrop of the cave was filled with a mighty waterfall that came up from the ceiling and disappeared into a large crevice in the floor.

It was from here that the Light came.

The cave was completely full of the eerie Martian creatures, who all stared at her with their expressionless, cold eyes that sat large and round in the stiff, motionless faces.

For almost an hour she stood thus, as if conjured to the same spot, like a bird hypnotized by the gaze of a snake.

There was no sound other than the muffled roar of the water.

Suddenly noise was heard from the background, and everyone turned their eyes there at once.

A large piece of rock had been overturned to the side, and a depression appeared in the rock, which was large enough for a human being to stand upright in it. The inside of this depression was studded with small, brown buds. A faint jet of water began to trickle down over this depression, and Ethel saw that the small buds began to unfold. Each of them opened and turned out to contain a small crustacean provided with sharp claws.

At the same time, the circle around her began to narrow. The Martians came closer and closer and apparently sought to push her towards the Immersion in the Rock.

A deep horror gripped her.

It dawned on her that this was the meaning of these monsters to penetrate her into the depression, so as to reasonably overthrow the stone. The crustaceans would then undoubtedly peel the flesh off her body with their pointed claws.

She let out a desperate cry and sought to break through the circle, which was slowly narrowing; but it was in vain. The monsters stretched out their disgusting hands to grab her, and she felt that this horrible, gruesome death was inevitable.

With a piercing scream she sank about.

At the same time there was a strong rustle and roar from the opposite side of the cave.

Should there be help? She stared there.

Her tormenting spirits stood still and turned their heads in the direction from which the noise came.

It was not a supernatural sight, she saw, no spirit that appeared to free her with a sword of flame, it was only a pair of checkered sports trousers, which sat on the legs of a man who made his way down through the ceiling of the cave.

There was a great bang, and in the middle between lumps of earth and stones Dillingham came headlong into the cave.

He got back on his feet with incredible speed, and the others now followed, one by one, with guns or revolvers in their hands.

There was a moment of silence in the cave, but then the great room resounded with a true hellish noise.

The blasts from the firearms mingled with the opponents’ wild howls and were tenfold amplified by the violent echo in the cave.

The air was misted by the smoke of gunpowder, through which one could faintly glimpse the howling masses of the eerie beings and the dark figures of our friends.

The party was not so unequal even, in spite of the immense mass of Martians, for many of them still stood as if petrified by fear of the shots, and those who had overcome the first terror and furiously rushed at the enemy were kept so well in check by the sure Shot that they did not bring the attackers closer to life.

These advanced, step by step, with a cold-bloodedness, which was innate in Hyde and Dillingham, and which the others sought to imitate, as they well knew that any mistake could cost them dearly.

Craddock had been separated from the others, he stood with his back up against a protruding piece of rock, surrounded by enemies.

The rifle and the revolver had long since been shot off and therefore useless, and he now used the weapons he had the most practice in using, namely the fists.

His great face shone with fighting; it was the nicest fight – it reminded him of his young days when he cleared the bulge in an East-End pub. He used all the tricks and shocks that made him so feared at the time.

For over a quarter of an hour the struggle raged wildly.

Soon the travelers were pushed back by the Martians, soon the Revolvers provided them with space again.

Even in the midst of the wildest confusion, the Professor felt a burning desire to throw the gun and bend down and examine the corpses more closely.

And Dillingham was not with the others. Where was he? Did he not take part in the fight?

Yes, he had fought as well as anyone else. Fought his way to the place where Ethel had fallen over. A Blink! A bang! And he had done away with the last living obstacle that was between her and him.

He laid down his gun and bent down over her, who was lying unconscious on the floor. He wet his handkerchief and laid it on her forehead, then gently lifted her feet off the floor to bring the blood back to the brain.

A moment later she opened her eyes, just as a triumphant cry from the others proclaimed that the enemy was now seriously retreating.

He quickly grabbed his gun again and helped push the enemy completely out of the cave.

Now it was a matter of a quick Retreat.

A loose block of rock and a number of fallen enemies were piled up under the hole in the ceiling. Hyde swung up and headed towards Ethel, who was lifted up to him by Dillingham’s strong arms.

The last one had just let go when the howls sounded down from the cave with renewed vigor. The enemies returned. Stone threw through the Hole a glance down into the Cave, which was now again filled by the Martian beings, all armed with long, gleaming metal spears.

At the same time the howl also sounded from one of the corridors behind them.

“Out of place!” Cried Hyde, and out of place it went wild, under a deafening howl.

Due to the fact that the walls threw back the howls, it was impossible to determine where the enemies would come from. So far they had fortunately avoided them, and they already glimpsed a faint glow ahead, so that they must be near the entrance of the cave, when suddenly a red glow appeared in front of them.

The enemy thus approached from more than one side.

“Down behind the rocks!” Commanded Stone, and a second later they were all hidden behind some pieces of rock.

In the corridor right in front of them, one of the monsters appeared with a torch in his hand, he looked around scouting.

Hyde grabbed Dillingham by the arm and pointed with his head towards another aisle just opposite the one where the man with the torch was standing.

Dillingham understood him and let the silent order go on.

Another figure appeared next to the other; they both looked around, unsure of where to look for the enemies who had torn their victims out of their hands.

A couple of sharp bangs put an abrupt end to their doubts, but at the same time also to their lives. The torch fell on the damp floor and went out.

They now all crossed the cave toward the narrow passage that Hyde had pointed out. They disappeared through it into the Darkness and eventually slipped down a slope. Here was an entrance with mighty boulders that almost hid it from the outside.

“Run!” Hyde shouted to the others, “I’ll be right there.”

He bent down and placed a small object under one of the large stones, then he fumbled with a wire and a matchbox and then ran after the others.

The Brag that was heard told what he had done. The disappointed howls from within showed them that they were in Safety.

Shortly afterwards they were in the Forest, where the fresh air to Dillingham’s Joy brought Ethel fully to Consciousness again.