Lost Continent HTML version

Chapter 5
As we entered deeper into what had once been the city, the evidences of man's past
occupancy became more frequent. For a mile from the arch there was only a riot of weeds
and undergrowth and trees covering small mounds and little hillocks that, I was sure,
were formed of the ruins of stately buildings of the dead past.
But presently we came upon a district where shattered walls still raised their crumbling
tops in sad silence above the grass-grown sepulchers of their fallen fellows. Softened and
mellowed by ancient ivy stood these sentinels of sorrow, their scarred faces still revealing
the rents and gashes of shrapnel and of bomb.
Contrary to our expectations, we found little indication that lions in any great numbers
laired in this part of ancient London. Well-worn pathways, molded by padded paws, led
through the cavernous windows or doorways of a few of the ruins we passed, and once
we saw the savage face of a great, black-maned lion scowling down upon us from a
shattered stone balcony.
We followed down the bank of the Thames after we came upon it. I was anxious to look
with my own eyes upon the famous bridge, and I guessed, too, that the river would lead
me into the part of London where stood Westminster Abbey and the Tower.
Realizing that the section through which we had been passing was doubtless outlying,
and therefore not so built up with large structures as the more centrally located part of the
old town, I felt sure that farther down the river I should find the ruins larger. The bridge
would be there in part, at least, and so would remain the walls of many of the great
edifices of the past. There would be no such complete ruin of large structures as I had
seen among the smaller buildings.
But when I had come to that part of the city which I judged to have contained the relics I
sought I found havoc that had been wrought there even greater than elsewhere.
At one point upon the bosom of the Thames there rises a few feet above the water a
single, disintegrating mound of masonry. Opposite it, upon either bank of the river, are
tumbled piles of ruins overgrown with vegetation.
These, I am forced to believe, are all that remain of London Bridge, for nowhere else
along the river is there any other slightest sign of pier or abutment.
Rounding the base of a large pile of grass-covered debris, we came suddenly upon the
best preserved ruin we had yet discovered. The entire lower story and part of the second
story of what must once have been a splendid public building rose from a great knoll of
shrubbery and trees, while ivy, thick and luxuriant, clambered upward to the summit of
the broken walls.