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ONCE in a while a story comes along that for sheer daring immediately towers above the usual run of stories.

"The Hidden World," we believe, is such a story. From the standpoint of originality it certainly stands umnatched. There have been stories of the interior of our earth, particularly that by Jules Verne, "To the Center of the Earth," and others. But this is one of the most unusual of them.

The present author, however, has found an entirely new and most unique plan which is as original as it is daring in its concept. A number of astronomical experts have been consulted regarding the possibility of Mr. Hamilton’s conception and they proclaim the system possible from an astronomical standpoint, although there is today no scientific information on the subject existing that would lead us to believe that a world such as Mr. Hamilton has invented, exists. That, however, means nothing, because no one has ever penetrated the inside of our world or of any other world, and one hypothesis, therefore, is as good as another.

Incidentally, the author has created a marvellous adventure story in addition to making "The Hidden World" a masterpiece of science fiction. It certainly is one of the most exciting stories that it has been our good fortune to read, and we know that you will not wish to lay down the book till you finish it.


IT IS with a strange wonder that we remember the dark menace that rose upon us from the hidden world—and how it ended. Nor have I, Arnold Vance, any less of wonder than those about me, for all that I saw that they did not, for all that I stood where never men had stood before at the heart of that dread mystery and menace. For though I lived through the vast, mounting terror of the thing to its colossal crashing end, even to me now it seems strange, and wonderful, and incredible, almost, that the end came as it did.

Four men only were there at the end, though a reeling world bore witness to it when it came. Four men—Dr. Howard Kelsall, Clifton Darrell, Richard Fenton and myself—dared down into horrors undreamed of by all earth's generations, alone penetrated into that greater horror that was rising upon the unsuspecting earth. And now that I take up this record of the hidden world and of things that centered upon it, now that I attempt to set upon paper that gigantic succession of events that rushed upon us, it is with us four men, that I choose to begin.

The first and eldest, Dr. Howard Kelsall, held at that time the post of chief geologist of the great Manson Foundation in New York. It was a much coveted position but Kelsall was conceded by all to have merited it. It is unnecessary for me to recapitulate here the achievements that had established his reputation—his great "double buckling" theory of the formation of the Rocky and Andes mountain-chains, his well-known calculations of the shift in primeval ocean levels and the others. Suffice it to say that he had won a very real fame and that his fame had been shared in late years by his chief assistant at the Foundation, young Clifton Darrell. Kelsall and Darrell, though the one was of middle age and the other in his twenties, were strong friends, and their friendship had come to be shared also by Richard Fenton and myself, two of the Foundation's younger physicists.

An unusual quartet of friends we made, but one which was bound strongly together. At the time when the manifestations from the hidden world began, the time of the appearance of the first light shaft at Kismaya, we four were sharing an apartment in the east Fifties, all of us chancing to be without immediate families. It was the custom of Dr. Kelsall and myself to walk from this apartment each morning to the Foundation building, the other two preferring the subway. And it was at the end of one of these walks, on a morning late in March, that the first news of the appearance of the light-shafts was given to me by Dr. Kelsall himself. We were passing up the steps of the great gray Foundation building on that morning when he paused and pulled from his pocket a folded newspaper, which he tendered me.

"I forgot until now to show you this, Vance," he remarked, directing my attention to a small article on the folded paper's side. "A strange occurrence—strange, that is, if it isn't the work of some reporter's imagination."

I took the paper and we paused there at the top of the steps as I read the little article. It was but a few inches in length, a cable dispatch dated from the little coast town of Kismaya, lying in British East Africa, just south of the equator. The dispatch stated that a strange manifestation of light or force of some kind had stricken with panic the entire population of a native village some miles to the north, on the preceding night. In this village, which, incidentally, lay at most exactly upon the line of the equator, there had been on that night two white traders also, who vouched for the truth of the surprising though somewhat incomprehensible story which the terror stricken natives told.

According to that story it had been but a few hours before midnight, at the edge of the assemblage of huts that were their habitations. There had been no sound, no warning. A brilliant shaft of blinding blue light had abruptly stabbed upward from the earth at the village's edge to a height of fifty feet. This light shaft, they said, had been perhaps five feet in diameter and near the top had been set in its blinding blue light an equally dazzling spot or circular portion of pure white light. For perhaps two minutes the giant light shaft had towered there, the terror stunned natives near it frozen in fear. In those moments they had been able to see from the circle of white light in its side, near the top, that the brilliant shaft was turning, slowly turning around and around. Then suddenly it had sunk and vanished, the ground where it had appeared seeming quite unchanged by its apparition, which sent all in the fear stricken village racing from it.

The thing was puzzling enough surely, and as I handed the paper back to Dr. Kelsall I shook my head. "It's past me," I told him. "Sounds like the work of the reportorial imagination you mentioned."

He nodded thoughtfully. "Perhaps so, Vance," he said. "Though the story was corroborated by the white men and the evidence seems quite circumstantial."

The Second and Third Lights

IT must have been, though, that the casual verdict which I rendered upon that first dispatch was the one given also by the world at large, for in the days that followed no further reference to the thing appeared in the newspapers. Such strange phenomena, indeed, are not unfamiliar among the dispatches of the great press services, the greater part of them being hoaxes of one kind or another, so it is not surprising that this particular incident evoked no further interest. I know that I had completely forgotten it by the next day and Dr. Kelsall made no reference to it in the days that followed. It was not, indeed, until the appearance in the press of the dispatch from Moram Island, some twenty days later, that the first Kismaya affair was jerked back to my memory and to those of many others.

Moram Island, according to this new dispatch, was one of the innumerable islands lying off the western tip of Dutch New Guinea, a few miles to the north of the equator. Besides a number of Dutch planters and officials it was occupied by the brown-skinned islanders who had always lived there and it was from planters and islanders alike that this second report now came. The gist of the thing was that, a little before morning on the preceding day, a terrific beam of light had been seen on the sea south of the island.

It had seemed miles to the south indeed, so far that it must have been almost exactly over the equator itself. A great perpendicular shaft of intense blue brilliance, it had shot up from the waters southward like a great beacon through the night, had hovered a minute or two, and then had flashed down and out of sight. The awed watchers on Moram Island had thought it at first the beam of some ship's searchlight. But the coming of dawn a little later had disclosed no craft whatever to the southward, making the thing seem quite inexplicable.

In itself, no doubt, this second phenomenon would have aroused but little comment but the earlier and similar occurrence at Kismaya now made of this second incident something of more interest. Scientists, when questioned concerning it, agreed in attributing the two great light flashes to falling meteors. They doubted whether the flashes had really lasted for minutes as reported and refused to take seriously the details concerning the turning shaft of blue light and the white circle of light upon it that had been reported from Kismaya. A meteor-flash, as they pointed out, is almost instantaneous though very brilliant. The fact that no meteor had struck the ground at Kismaya they attributed to the burning up of the meteor and its total annihilation as it flashed downward. The second surprising fact that both flashes had taken place almost exactly upon the equator they explained by the assumption that the earth was entering a thin belt or region of meteors which happened to lie in the same plane with our planet's equator.

This theory, as they pointed out, meant that more meteor flashes might be expected in the equatorial regions and though the theory had its defects it was certainly the most plausible advanced. It was true that the great steady shafts of brilliance that had been described by the witnesses at Kismaya and at Moram Island were very different from a meteor's lightning flash downward. But that could be accounted for by the excitement of the witnesses, so that the whole matter seemed satisfactorily explained. Dr. Kelsall, to whom I knew this second incident would be of interest, was on a short field trip to the Adirondacks, so that at that time I had no opportunities of discussing it with him and had forgotten it by the time that he returned.

Three weeks after that second phenomenon though, the matter was brought forcibly back to my mind and to the world's by the Callarnia incident. The Callarnia was one of those giant cruise ships designed to transport a thousand passengers in utmost luxury about the world and at the time of the incident was heading homeward over the central Pacific from such a globe circling cruise. It had ventured in the past months through the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, through the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. As that day closed it was heading east northeastward toward Panama on the last lap of its trip, its position some five hundred miles north of the Marquesas with the equator a little north of the ship.

As the sunset of that day flared westward the great ship's passengers had gathered upon its boat deck, where a group of queerly garbed sailors were preparing to perform the ancient nautical ceremonies that were considered proper to "crossing the line." By the time twilight had come, the ceremonies, were already going on amid the shouts and laughter of passengers and crew alike, the exact line of the equator lying at that time a little toward the north, the ship forging slowly and obliquely toward it. It happened, therefore, as the dim dusk thickened, intent upon the clowning of the group before them, passengers and sailors alike had no thought of the thing that was to come. No thought until, in another moment, the thing was upon them. A half mile ahead of the ship there stabbed suddenly upward through the deepening twilight a shaft of dazzling blue radiance that seemed to spring up from the sea itself, that hung at a height of fifty feet, slowly turning. Near its top was a circle of pure white light by which that turning could be marked. In that first stunned instant as the passengers and sailors, in answer to a wild cry, gazed toward the blinding shaft, it seemed to them that that shaft extended down to depths inconceivable in the waters themselves, glimmering faintly through them. For a minute, a minute that seemed an eternity to them, the giant beam slowly turned there. Then as abruptly as it had appeared, it snapped down and out of existence, leaving those on the great ship staring at each other, white faced in the darkening dusk.

Kelsall's Theory

SUCH was the tale the great cruise-liner's radio sent sputtering forth. It appeared within hours in the New York journals. This, the third of these strange incidents, aroused for a short time at least an interest which the first two had failed to evoke. Again the thing had happened, and upon earth's equator as in the first two instances! The matter seemed to many startling for that reason but the scientific authorities questioned concerning it only boredly referred their questioners to their earlier statements. The thing, they said, was but another instance of meteor fall as had been the first two. Happening at the equator it confirmed their theory that the earth's equatorial regions were in the plane of a thin meteor-belt through which the earth was passing. The statements of those on the Callarnia to the effect that the great blue shaft of light had remained for a full minute or two, and had slowly turned with its white circle of light upon it, the scientists discredited. For, as they explained, a meteor's brilliant flash, caused by its burning up before it can reach earth's surface, often is so intense as to impress the visual nerves with a sense of duration for longer than is really the case and to delude them concerning its real appearance.

This explanation, reasonable enough, was concurred in by those newspapers which made independent comment on the strange triple incident. Desirous as they were of a sensation, they were aware that the flashing out of three brilliant light shafts on three far regions of earth's surface was of but little intrinsic interest to their readers, save for a few of the more scientifically inclined. For a day or so they published what comments they could gather on the Callarnia incident but the very lack of further developments made it soon of no more interest to them. And so, quickly enough, this third strange phenomenon was forgotten by newspapers and readers as had been the first and second.

My own interest had been definitely caught by the strange recurrence of the phenomenon and I resolved to discuss it with Dr. Kelsall, who had shown such interest in its first happening. When I reached our apartment that evening, I found that Dr. Kelsall had not yet arrived from the Foundation, nor was he there when Darrell and Fenton and I returned home after dinner. It was natural enough, however, that this subject uppermost in my mind just then should have entered our conversation and we were engaged in a discussion of it when Dr. Kelsall finally entered. I apprised him, briefly, of the subject of our talk. To my surprise, when I had done so, he ventured no suggestion on the thing, but sat beside us in silence. Gazing out beyond us, as we watched him in silence for the moment, his strong face and keen steel gray eyes brooding upon something, he sat there for moments unspeaking before turning finally toward us.

"Darrell—Fenton—Vance," he said, his eyes moving over us. "It's about this thing that I wanted to talk to you tonight."

"This thing—these three light-shafts?" asked Darrell and Kelsall nodded.

"Yes," he said, "these three great light-shafts that have flashed into being, one after another, at three different spots around earth's equator. And what in your opinion caused the light shafts to appear? Meteors?"

Darrell shook his head. "No, that's what we were discussing when you came in, Kelsall, and we decided that they couldn't be meteor flashes. For all who saw them say that they were great beams or shafts of light instead of flashes and no meteors were seen or heard. Yet what could have caused them?"

"I do not know," Kelsall said quietly. "But one thing I do know, a thing that none other on earth has guessed. I know where and when the next of these enigmatic light shafts will come and I propose that we four go there and solve the mystery when it does appear!"

Astounded, we stared toward him. But before we could ask him a question of the many that whirled in our brains he had turned and taken the small globe from the table beside him, had turned back to us and was speaking quietly on.

"Before you can understand the thing I have discovered," he said, "you must understand the locations in which these three strange light shafts have appeared on earth. As you know the first light shaft appeared just north of Kismaya in British East Africa, just on the equator, on the night of March 22nd, two and one half hours before midnight. "The second—" he spun the globe a little—"appeared here on the equator, just south of Moram Island off New Guinea. Both light shafts, as you know, appeared almost exactly upon earth's equator. But there is a stranger thing that no one else noticed—and that is that the second light shaft appeared just one fourth around earth's equator from the first!"

"Strange, is it not? Yet here is something as strange. At this dot I mark on the blue of the Pacific is the latitude and longitude reported by the Callarnia on the evening that the third light shaft appeared before it. That dot, the position of the third light shaft, is exactly another fourth round earth's equator from the position of the second light shaft, exactly a half around earth's equator from the first! "In other words these mysterious shafts of brilliant blue light have flashed into being in a regular progression around earth's equator, each appearing exactly upon that equator, each appearing exactly a fourth around earth's circumference from the last!

"Now, that being so, can it be doubted that when the fourth light shaft appears it will occur in the same regular progression, at a spot another fourth around earth's equator from the third? Thus one has only to measure with accurate maps from the position of the third light shaft, a fourth around earth's equator, to find the spot where the next light shaft will show! "And that is what I have done today. Doing so I found that spot. It lies in the Brazilian jungle just north of the Amazon River's mouth, lying between two little-known rivers, the Malgre and the Tauraurua, which join each other exactly at the equator. It is upon the ground between those two joining rivers there in the Brazilian jungle that the next of these strange light shafts will undoubtedly appear!

"But, you will say, when will it appear? Well, if you will reread the accounts of the three light shafts you will discover that they were separated by as regular intervals of time as of space. Exactly twenty days, six and a half hours elapsed between the appearance of the first light shaft at Kismaya and the second at Moram Island. "The same exact interval of twenty days, six and a half hours elapsed between the Moram Island appearance and the sighting of the third light shaft by the Callarnia. With this regular progression in mind therefore, it cannot be doubted that the same interval will separate the appearance of the third and fourth light shafts if a fourth appears. So that we can say almost positively that if a fourth shaft does appear it will do so twenty days, six and a half hours from the last, which sets as the time of its appearance a half hour before midnight on the night of May 21st, more than two weeks from now. And I propose that we four be there when it does appear!

"We alone of all men know where and when it will appear, if it does appear, and we shall endeavor to penetrate the mystery. And mystery it is. For whence come these shafts of brilliance, which could not have been made by any known device of men, yet have appeared around earth's equator with human and more than human exactness and regularity of time and place? What is their cause, their purpose? To us four is given the chance to solve these questions. In their solution we may penetrate mysteries and forces as yet undreamed of by any on earth. You, Darrell and Fenton and Vance—will you not go?"

There was a moment's silence at his final question, silence in which, with minds awhirl, we gazed at him and at each other. Then suddenly, as our eyes met, we knew without words each other's thought and Darrell turned to Kelsall, speaking for all of us.

"We're with you, Kelsall," he said quietly. "Whatever mystery ties behind these light-shafts, we're going with you to solve it."

CHAPTER II

The Sphere from Below

"A HALF-HOUR before midnight on May twenty first the fourth light shaft should appear and that's just six hours from now!"

It was Dr. Kelsall who spoke and as he replaced in his pocket the watch at which he had been glancing we four turned for the moment from each other, gazing about us.

Around us there stretched away in all directions the vast green solitude of the Brazilian jungle, a tremendous solid mass of vegetation that seemed to lie like a great blanket over the earth. The great close packed trees, the thick vines and lianas that bound them everywhere together, the impenetrable plant-life that choked the lower ways between them, swarming with brilliant hued birds and monkeys and strange insects, with larger animals stirring beneath—these extended out from us on all sides, lit now by the waning glory of the sunset to the west. The whole scene about us impressed one most with the illimitable fecundity of the life, plant and animal, with which it swarmed. It was a fecundity of life so dissociated from anything human that it was strangely depressing.

We four, however, were standing upon an island in that ocean of green thick life—a long triangular shaped clearing of brown earth and sand, which was bounded on two sides by the broad ochre floods of two swift-running rivers, the Malgre and the Tauraurua. These flowed together at the point of our long triangle clearing, continuing on their course as one to the great Amazon away to the south. It was somewhere on or near this triangle of land between the two rivers, according to Kelsall's calculations, that the fourth of the strange light shafts would appear if it appeared at all. So it was toward one side of the triangle, along the Malgre's shore, that our brown tropical tents were pitched, our long river skiff moored beside them.

It was in that long sturdy craft and by virtue of its strong little motor that we had made our way up the Malgre to this point where the Tauraurua flowed into it. The swift steamer we had managed to catch had brought us from New York to Para within ten days, and then, procuring the stout river-skiff that was large enough to hold us and all our equipment and apparatus, we had proceeded up the Amazon by river steamer to the point where the Malgre flowed into it. There, leaving the steamer, we had begun the most toilsome part of our journey, the slow fight upward against the Malgre's current through jungles that stretched, to the north to and over the Guianas, jungles swarming with animal life, their only human inhabitants a few half glimpsed brown Indians. It was the great wilderness of the Brazilian Guiana into which we were penetrating. So toilsome was our progress that had our goal been but little farther we could never have made it before the calculated time.

As it was it was only on the preceding day that we had reached this triangle of clear land. Until the present moment we had been busy in arranging apparatus, which had given us anxious moments in our rough journey upward in the skiff, for much of it was of a super sensitive and delicate nature. There were black cased cameras, cinema and still types, some equipped with various ray filters and screens. Square fluoroscopes lay ready beside the delicate galvanometer circuits and electroscopes that had been set up by Fenton and myself. If a fourth great light shaft appeared near us it would be strange if we four, with the comprehensive equipment which we had set up, would not be able to record the shaft's appearance. We should be able to determine, even though it lasted but a minute or two like the others, its nature, whether electrical or radio active or simply light.

We were ready, indeed, for the coming of the fourth light shaft, yet now as we four stood there, brown garbed, white helmeted figures with heavy automatics swinging always at out hips, it was with oppressive doubt that I gazed about me. The whole vast wild scene about us filled me with misgivings. Had we come after all on a wild goose chase? Had the appearance of those three light shafts been due only to some freak of natural forces, the regular progression in time and space of a mere coincidence? Had Kelsall been far afield in his belief that here where we stood another light shaft would appear within a few hours? These were the questions that troubled me as we stood there together, watching in silence as the sunset westward flared and faded. At last, turning to the others, I expressed some of my doubts.

"The whole thing seems incredible, doesn't it?" I asked. "Incredible for us to expect a fourth light shaft to appear at this exact spot."

I indicated with a wave of my hand the thick walls of jungle that rose around our river bordered clearing and Darrell and Fenton gazed silently around at my gesture. Kelsall, though, shook his head.

"No, Vance," he said. "If a fourth light shaft appears it will do so here and at a half hour before midnight. I'm certain of that—for the appearance of the other three have been superhumanly exact in time and place."

"But there's nothing unusual here," I said. "We've explored this clearing and the region immediately around it and we've found nothing unusual—no sign of the presence of human life even."

"There was nothing strange or unusual at Kismaya, or south of Moram Island, or before the Callarnia," Kelsall reminded me. "Yet the light shafts appeared there. And though no other humans lie within leagues of us I think that there is nothing human behind the mystery of these light-shafts which we have come here to solve."

"But our plan of action?" questioned Darrell. "In case the fourth light shaft does appear it will last only for seconds and we'll need to be quick if we're to gather any data on it in that time."

Waiting for Midnight

KELSALL nodded. "Yes, Darrell, and for that reason we'll take up separate stations when the time approaches. I want you and Vance here to take up a position at the north or broad end of this triangular clearing, just at the jungle's edge. You will hold the two cameras, ready to turn them upon whatever spot the fourth shaft appears if it does appear. Vance, who like Fenton is a physicist and understands such work better than we, can use the fluoroscopes to determine whether the shaft is fluorescent in nature. Fenton and I, on the other hand, will station ourselves down at the clearing's point on the open sand. There Fenton can watch his electroscope and galvanometer circuits while I use the spectrograph on the light shaft. In this way if the light shaft appears in this vicinity as it should, even though it lasts for but a minute, we should be able to determine accurately its nature and gain enough data to enable us later to discover its cause."

"You have no theory yourself as to that cause, then, Kelsall?" asked Fenton curiously. "You've never ventured any to us but you must have some thought concerning it."

Kelsall's face grew grave at the question. "I have a theory," he said slowly, "but not one I want to mention now. It is a theory which to my mind can alone account for the appearance of these strange shafts of right. Yet it is so startling, so insane, that even you could not take it seriously now. But if another light shaft appears here, if we cannot discover its nature, it may be that the thing that has suggested itself to me will be corroborated by our evidence. And if that is so—"

He did not finish but as Darrell and Fenton and I stood there beside him, regarding him, something of the strange suspense that held him was communicated to ourselves. So it was in silence that we stood there, while the last colors of the sunset faded westward, while the deep tropical twilight stole westward across the world like a veil drawn after the descending sun. Swiftly then the darkness of night, soft and velvet, was upon us with the brilliant constellations of the equatorial sky burning out brightly overhead, with a strange tremor and stir of renewed and re awakened nocturnal life. Soon now would be upon us also the moment for which we had trailed to this spot. We began to follow Kelsall's orders, to arrange ourselves and our masses of apparatus about the long clearing.

At the long triangular clearing's northern end, its broad base in effect, Darrell and I quickly set up our cameras and fluoroscopes, just at the edge of the thick wall of the jungle. That base or side of our triangular clearing was perhaps three-quarters of a mile in width, and from it the clear triangle of ground stretched southward, bordered on either side by the two swift rivers, for a similar distance, to the long sandy point where they converged, the triangle's point. It was upon this tip that Kelsall and Fenton, in turn, set up their own apparatus, their spectrographs and electrical apparatus, Darrell and I helping them and working without hamper in the clear thin starlight that lit all the clearing. This done, the four of us met again for the moment at the clearing's center before taking up our positions with our apparatus.

Kelsall clasped the hands of Darrell and myself strongly. "Darrell—Vance—," he said, "I know that you will do your best on this. Be ready and if the light shaft does appear anywhere within sight of us get your instruments on it at once."

Darrell nodded, raising his hands for the moment to the shoulders of Kelsall and Fenton. "We'll be ready for it," he said. "And if nothing happens—well, we'll have done our best."

With these words we turned and then the four of us had separated, Darrell and I striding toward the clearing's northern jungle-wall, where our instruments lay ready, while Kelsall and Fenton started for the sandy tip that was to be their position. We had retained our heavy pistols, the profusion of fierce wild life in the jungles about us making that a necessary precaution. We crouched down among our instruments. Our list preparations had been made and our wait for the appearance of the fourth light shaft began.

A glance at my watch showed me that there remained still more than two hours before the coming of the moment, a half-hour before midnight, which Kelsall had calculated as the time of the next shaft's appearance. We had begun our watch thus early, at his own suggestion, in case his calculations might have been a little inaccurate, and so would be ready for the light-shaft's appearance.

We waited in silence. Far down at the clearing's tip we could make out in the starlight, the vague shapes of Kelsall and Fenton, crouched likewise with their own equipment, and as silent as ourselves.

I found myself listening, in that silence, to all the myriad strange sounds that came from the thick jungle behind us, the distant coughing snorts or dull trampling sounds of large animals, the shrill sounds of countless insects, the occasional swashing of large lizards or reptiles in the rivers to east and west. The sullen heat of the day, the burning heat of the equator, had declined only a little with the coming of darkness. And as the minutes dragged past with no other sight or sound save those of the profusion of jungle life about us, as the great tropical constellations sloped majestically across the sky, to my physical discomfort was added the return of my troubled doubts.

The Light Appears!

IT SEEMED to me incredible that we four should have found reason enough in the facts Kelsall had discovered to bring us to this wild spot in anticipation of witnessing a repetition of the three phenomena that had already occurred. It seemed insane for us to expect a fourth of the strange light shafts to appear at exactly this spot, at the exact time that he had calculated. And as that time slowly approached, as my watch's hands steadily approached the position that would mark the half hour before midnight—as no slightest unusual sight or sound came from anywhere about us—I felt my doubt becoming stronger and stronger.

Darrell, though, was beside me as silent and unmoved as ever and far down as the clearing's tip I could make out the dark figures of Kelsall and Fenton, waiting, like ourselves. With watch in palm, I watched the larger hand slowly moving toward the half hour position. Only minutes remained until our calculated moment would arrive. Slowly, minute by minute, the hand moved, was within a half dozen minutes of the half hour, yet from about us had come nothing new. Now it was within four minutes, three, two, one. Tensely Darrell and I were watching it, The hand moved at last within a single minute of the awaited moment. Our hands were clenched unconsciously with suspense.

Then at last, with infinite slowness, the hand moved to the half hour position. Our nerves taut with suspense, our hands ready on the instruments before us, Darrell and I waited, gazing about us, gazing at—nothing! No single gleam of light had appeared in that moment in all the dark mass of the jungle about us and behind us, no light shaft or sign of one! Gazing for the moment at each other, sick with disappointment, Darrell and I rose to our feet while down at the clearing's tip we saw Kelsall and Fenton rising even as we did. We had failed! Our plan, by which we had thought to solve the mystery of these strange light shafts, had proved futile, after all. I took a step forward to go down to Kelsall and Fenton, disappointment wrenching at my heart. A single step I took and then, abruptly, I halted in my tracks. At the same moment a hoarse cry burst from Darrell behind me.

There before us, at the center of our great triangular clearing, half way between ourselves and our two friends, there stabbed suddenly upward a terrific beam of brilliant blue light whose dazzling intensity seemed blinding to my eyes! Fifty feet upward from the clear ground of the clearing it towered, a tenth of that in diameter, and even as I shrank back from its soundless appearance, even as I heard the cries of Darrell and Kelsall and Fenton, I saw that near the shaft's top, set in some strange way, a circle or disk of pure white light, as brilliant as that about it! As it appeared I could see by the inset white spot of light that the great dazzling column was slowly turning as it towered there, turning like a solid revolving shaft!

In the single instant of the terrific beam's appearance I glimpsed these things, then leaped back to the black fluoroscopes which in the next moment I trained upon the shaft. Beside me I heard the rapid clicking of Darrell's cameras, knew that even at that same instant Kelsall and Fenton would be working with their own instruments. Because they were a modern recording devel...

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