Lost Continent HTML version

Chapter 7
We stood there, grouped about the body of the dead Grabritin, looking futilely down the
river to where it made an abrupt curve to the west, a quarter of a mile below us, and was
lost to sight, as though we expected to see the truant returning to us with our precious
launch--the thing that meant life or death to us in this unfriendly, savage world.
I felt, rather than saw, Taylor turn his eyes slowly toward my profile, and, as mine swung
to meet them, the expression upon his face recalled me to my duty and responsibility as
an officer.
The utter hopelessness that was reflected in his face must have been the counterpart of
what I myself felt, but in that brief instant I determined to hide my own misgivings that I
might bolster up the courage of the others.
"We are lost!" was written as plainly upon Taylor's face as though his features were the
printed words upon an open book. He was thinking of the launch, and of the launch
alone. Was I? I tried to think that I was. But a greater grief than the loss of the launch
could have engendered in me, filled my heart--a sullen, gnawing misery which I tried to
deny--which I refused to admit--but which persisted in obsessing me until my heart rose
and filled my throat, and I could not speak when I would have uttered words of
reassurance to my companions.
And then rage came to my relief--rage against the vile traitor who had deserted three of
his fellow countrymen in so frightful a position. I tried to feel an equal rage against the
woman, but somehow I could not, and kept searching for excuses for her--her youth, her
inexperience, her savagery.
My rising anger swept away my temporary helplessness. I smiled, and told Taylor not to
look so glum.
"We will follow them," I said, "and the chances are that we shall overtake them. They
will not travel as rapidly as Snider probably hopes. He will be forced to halt for fuel and
for food, and the launch must follow the windings of the river; we can take short cuts
while they are traversing the detour. I have my map--thank God! I always carry it upon
my person--and with that and the compass we will have an advantage over them."
My words seemed to cheer them both, and they were for starting off at once in pursuit.
There was no reason why we should delay, and we set forth down the river. As we
tramped along, we discussed a question that was uppermost in the mind of each--what we
should do with Snider when we had captured him, for with the action of pursuit had come
the optimistic conviction that we should succeed. As a matter of fact, we had to succeed.
The very thought of remaining in this utter wilderness for the rest of our lives was