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City of Endless Night
by Milo Hastings
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"Then what do you think we have to fear?" asked Grauble.

"Only the chance that the Admiral's absence may be noted at his office and inquiry be made."

"Of that the Princess could tell us something," said Grauble. "We will talk with her."

Grauble now led me to the mate's snug cabin, where we found Marguerite seated on the bunk, looking very pale and anxious.

"Everything is going nicely, so far," the Captain assured her. "We have only one thing to fear, and that is that inquiry from the Administration Office for the Admiral may be addressed to the Commander of the Lock."

"But how will they know that he is with us?" asked Marguerite. "Will the guards report it?"

"I do not think so," said Grauble, "but does any one at his office know that he came to the docks?"

"I do not see how they could," replied Marguerite; "he was at his apartment when I called him. He came to me at once, not knowing why I wished to see him. I begged him to take me to see you off. I swore that if he did not I should never speak to him again, and he agreed to do so. He seemed to think himself very generous and talked much of the distinctive privilege he was conferring upon me by acceding to my request. But he told no one where we were going. He communicated with no one from the time he came to me until we arrived at the vessel. The guards and gate-keepers let us pass without question."

"That is fine," cried Grauble; "von Kufner often stays away from his office for days at a time. Unless some chance information leaks back from the guards, he will not be missed. Our chance of being passed speedily out the lock is good—there is a vessel due to lock in this very day and we could not be held back to block the tunnel. That is why the Admiral was impatient when Armstadt failed to appear; he knew our departure ought not be delayed."

"And what," I asked, "do you propose to do with the Admiral?"

"I suppose we must take him with us as a prisoner," replied the Captain. "Your World State Government would appreciate a prisoner of the House of Hohenzollern."

At this suggestion Marguerite shook her head emphatically. "I do not like that," she said. "Is there not some way to leave him behind?"

"I do not like it either," said Grauble, "because I fear his presence aboard may make trouble among my men. I do not think they will object to deserting with us to the free world. Their life in this service is hopeless enough and this is my fifth trip; they have a belief that the Captain's fifth trip is an ill-fated one; not a man aboard but trembles in the dire fear that he will never see Berlin again. They will welcome with joy a proposal to escape with us, but to ask them to make the attempt with the Admiral himself on board as a prisoner is a different thing. These men are cowed by authority and I know not what notions they might have of their fate if they are to kidnap the Admiral."

"But," I questioned, "is there no possible way to leave him behind?"

Grauble sat thinking for a moment. "Yes," he said, "there is one way we might do it. We could shave his beard and clip his hair, dress him in a machinist's garb and smear his hands and face with grease. Then I could drug him and we could carry him off at the lock and put him in a cell. I would report that one of my men had gone raving mad, and I had drugged him to keep him from doing injury to himself and others. It would create no great surprise. Men in this service frequently go mad; and I am provided with a sleep producing drug for just such emergencies."

"Then go ahead," I said.

"But you will lose the satisfaction of delivering him prisoner to your government," smiled Grauble.

"I have no love for the Admiral," I replied, "but I think his punishment will be more appropriately attended to in Berlin. When our escape is known he will indeed have a rather difficult time explaining to His Majesty."

This suggestion of the pompous Admiral's predicament if thus left behind seemed to amuse Grauble and he at once led the way back to his own cabin.

Von Kufner was lying very quietly in his bonds and glared up at us with a weak and futile rage. Grauble smiled cynically at his prostrate chief. "I had thought to take you along with us," he said, "but I am afraid the excitement of the voyage would be unpleasant for you so I have decided to leave you at the lock to take our farewell back to His Majesty."

Von Kufner, helpless and gagged was given no opportunity to reply, for Grauble, unlocking his medicine case took out a small hypodermic syringe and plunged the needle into the prisoner's thigh.

In a few minutes the Admiral was unconscious. The Captain now brought a suit of soiled mechanic's clothes and a clipper and razor, and in a half hour the prim Admiral in his fancy uniform had been reduced to the likeness of an oiler. His face roughly shaved, but pale and sallow, gave a very good simulation of illness of mind and body.

"He will remain like that for at least twelve hours," said Grauble. "I gave him a heavy dose."

Again we went out, locking the unconscious Admiral in the cabin. "You may go and keep the Princess company," said Grauble, "while I talk with my men and give them an inkling of what we are planning. If there is any trouble at the lock it is better that they comprehend that hope of freedom is in store for them."

Amid tears of joy Marguerite now told me of her belated conception of the desperate plan to induce von Kufner to bring her to the docks to see us depart, and how she had pretended to disbelieve that I was really going and bargained to marry him within sixty days if she could be assured by her own eyes that I had really departed for the Arctic.

As we waited feverishly for the first nerve-racking part of the journey to be over, we spoke of the hopes and dangers of the great adventure upon which we were finally embarked. And so the hours passed.

At last we felt the rumble of the motors die and knew that the movement of the vessel had ceased.

6

The voice of the mate spoke at the door: "Remain quiet inside," he said, and a key turned and clicked the bolt of the lock. The tense minutes passed. Again the key turned in the door and the mate stuck his head inside. "Come quick," he said to me.

I followed him into Capt. Grauble's cabin, but saw Grauble nowhere.

"Remove your clothing," said the mate, as he seized a sponge and soap and began washing the blackened oil from the hands and face of the unconscious Admiral. "We must dress him in your uniform. The Commander of the Lock has orders to take you off the vessel. We must pass the Admiral off for you. He will never be recognized. The Commander has never seen you."

Obeying, without fully comprehending, I helped to quickly dress the unconscious man in my own clothing. We had barely finished when we heard voices outside.

"Quick, under the bunk," whispered the mate. As I obediently crawled into the hiding place, the mate kicked in after me the remainder of the oiler's clothing which I had been trying to put on and pulled the disarranged bedding half off the bunk the better to hide me. Then he opened the door and several men entered.

"I had to drug him," said Grauble's voice, "because he was so violent with fear when I had him manacled that I thought he might attempt to beat out his brains."

"Let me see his papers," said a strange voice.

After a brief interval the same voice spoke again—"These are identical with the description given by His Majesty's secretary. There can be no doubt that this is the man they want, but I do not see how an enemy spy could ever pass for a German, even if he had the clothing and identification. He does not even look like the description in the folder. The chemists must be very stupid to have accepted him as one of them."

"It is strange," replied the voice of Capt. Grauble, "but this man was very clever."

"It is only that most men are very dull," replied the other voice. "Now I should have suspected at once that the man was not a German. But he shall answer for his cleverness. Let him be removed at once. We have word from the vessel outside that they are short of oxygen, and you must be locked out and clear the passage."

With a shuffling of many feet the form of the third bearer of Karl Armstadt's pedigree was carried from the cabin, and the door was kicked shut.

I was still lying cramped in my hiding place when I felt the vessel moving again. Then a sailor came, bringing a case from which I took fresh clothing. As I was dressing I felt my ear drums pain from the increased air pressure, and I heard, as from a great distance, the roar of the water being let into the lock. From the quiet swaying of the floor beneath me I soon sensed that we were afloat. I waited in the cabin until I felt the quiver of motors, now distinguished by the lesser throb and smoother running, from the drive on the wheeled trucks through the tunnel.

I opened the cabin door and went out. Grauble was at the instrument board. The mate stood aft among the motor controls; all men were at their posts, for we were navigating the difficult subterranean passage that led to the open sea.

As I approached Grauble he spoke without lifting his eyes from his instruments. "Go bring the Princess out of her hiding; I want my men to see her now. It will help to give them faith."

Marguerite came with me and stood trembling at my side as we watched Grauble, whose eyes still riveted upon the many dials and indicators before him.

"Watch the chart," said Grauble. "The red hand shows our position."

The chart before him was slowly passing over rolls. For a time we could only see a straight line thereon bordered by many signs and figures. Then slowly over the topmost roll came the wavy outlines of a shore, and the parallel lines marking the depths of the bordering sea. Tensely we watched the chart roll slowly down till the end of the channel passed the indicator.

Grauble breathed a great sigh of relief and for the first time turned his face towards us. "We are in the open sea," he said, "at a depth of 160 metres. I shall turn north at once and parallel the coast. You had better get some rest; for the present nothing can happen. It is night above now but in six more hours will be the dawn, then we shall rise and take our bearings through the periscope."

I led Marguerite into the Captain's cabin and insisted that she lie down on the narrow berth. Seated in the only chair, I related what I knew of the affair at the locks. "It must have been," I concluded, after much speculation, "that Holknecht finally got the attention of the Chemical Staff and related what he knew of the incident of the potash mines. They had enough data about me to have arrived at the correct conclusion long ago. It was a question of getting the facts together."

"It was that," said Marguerite, "or else I am to blame."

"And what do you mean?" I asked.

"I mean," she said, "that I took a great risk about which I must tell you, for it troubles my conscience. After I had sent for the Admiral and he had promised to come, I telephoned to Dr. Zimmern of my intention to get von Kufner to take me to the docks and my hope that I could come with you. And it may be that some one listened in on our conversation."

"I do not see," I said, "how such a conversation should lead to the discovery of my identity—the Holknecht theory is more reasonable—but you did take a risk. Why did you do it?"

"I wanted to tell him good-bye," said Marguerite. "It was hard enough that I could not see him." And she turned her face to the pillow and began to weep.

"What is it, my dear?" I pleaded, as I knelt beside her. "It was all right, of course. Why are you crying—you do not think, do you, that Dr. Zimmern betrayed us?"

Marguerite raised herself upon her elbow and looked at me with hurt surprise. "Do you think that?" she demanded, almost fiercely.

"By no means," I hastened to assure her, "but I do not understand your grief and I only thought that perhaps when you told him he was angered—I never understood why he seemed so anxious not to have you go with me."

"Oh, my dear," sobbed Marguerite. "Of course you never understood, because we too had a secret that has been kept from you, and you have been so apologetic because you feared so long to confide in me and I have been even slower to confide in you."

For a moment black rebellion rose in my heart, for though with my reasoning I had accepted the explanation that Zimmern had given for his interest in Marguerite, I had never quite accepted it in my unreasoning heart. And in the depths of me the battle between love and reason and the dark forces of jealous unreason and suspicion had smouldered, to break out afresh on the least provocation.

I fought again to conquer these dark forces, for I had many times forgiven her even the thing which suspicion charged. And as I struggled now the sound of Marguerite's words came sweeping through my soul like a great cleansing wind, for she said—"The secret that I have kept back from you and that I have wanted so often to tell you is that Dr. Zimmern is my father!"

7

In the early dawn of a foggy morning we beached the Eitel 3 on a sandy stretch of Danish shore within a few kilometres of an airdome of the World Patrol. A native fisherman took Grauble, Marguerite and myself in his hydroplane to the post, where we found the commander at his breakfast. He was a man of quick intelligence. Our strange garb was sufficient to prove us Germans, while a brief and accurate account of the attempted rescue of the mines of Stassfurt, given in perfect English, sufficed to credit my reappearance in the affairs of the free world as a matter of grave and urgent importance.

A squad of men were sent at once to guard the vessel that had been left in charge of the mate. Within a few hours we three were at the seat of the World Government at Geneva.

Grauble surrendered his charts of the secret passage and was made a formal prisoner of state, until the line of the passage could be explored by borings and the reality of its existence verified.

I was in daily conference with the Council in regard to momentous actions that were set speedily a-going. The submarine tunnel was located and the passage blocked. A fleet of ice crushers and exploring planes were sent to locate the protium mines of the Arctic. The proclamation of these calamities to the continued isolated existence of Germany and the terms of peace and amnesty were sent showering down through the clouds to the roof of Berlin.

Marguerite and I had taken up our residence in a cottage on the lake shore, and there as I slept late into the sunlit hours of a July morning, I heard the clatter of a telephone annunciator. I sat bolt upright listening to the words of the instrument—

"Berlin has shut off the Ray generators of the defence mines—all over the desert of German soil men are pouring forth from the ventilating shafts—the roof of Berlin is a-swarm with a mass of men frolicking in the sunlight—the planes of the World Patrol have alighted on the roof and have received and flashed back the news of the abdication of the Emperor and the capitulation of Berlin—the world armies of the mines are out and marching forth to police the city—"

The voice of the instrument ceased.

I looked about for Marguerite and saw her not. I was up and running through the rooms of the cottage. I reached the outer door and saw her in the garden, robed in a gown of gossamer white, her hair streaming loose about her shoulders and gleaming golden brown in the quivering light. She was holding out her hands to the East, where o'er the far-flung mountain craigs the God of Day beamed down upon his worshipper.

In a frenzy of wild joy I called to her—"Babylon is fallen—is fallen! The black spot is erased from the map of the world!"

THE END

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