酷兔英语

November 1932, January 1933. Extensive research did not uncover

any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

The Table of Contents is not part of the original magazines.

Two Thousand Miles Below

_A Four-Part Novel_

By Charles Willard Diffin

* * * * *

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

PROLOGUE

I A Man Named Smith

II Gold!

III Red Drops

IV The Light in the Crater

V The Attack

VI Into the Crater

VII The Ring

VIII The Darkness

IX A Subterranean World

X Plumb Loco

XI The White-Hot Pit

XII Dreams

XIII "N-73 Clear!"

XIV Emergency Order

XV The Lake of Fire

XVI The Metal Shell

XVII Gor

XVIII The Dance of Death

XIX The Voice of the Mountain

XX Taloned Hands

XXI Suicide?

XXII The Red-Flowering Vine

XXIII Oro and Grah

XXIV The Bargain

XXV Smithy

XXVI Power!

* * * * *

PROLOGUE

[Sidenote: Rawson learns to his cost that the life-spark of a fabled

race glows in the black heart of a dead, Western volcano.]

[Illustration: _The derrick was falling as he fired again._]

In the gray darkness the curved fangs of a saber-toothed tiger gleamed

white and ghostly. The man-figure that stood half crouched in the

mouth of the cave involuntarily shivered.

"Gwanga!" he said. "He goes, too!"

But the man did not move more than to shift a club to his right hand.

Heavy, that club, and knotted and with a head of stone tied and

wrapped with leather thongs; but Gor of the tribe of Zoran swung it

easily with one of his long arms. He paid only casual attention as the

great cat passed on into the night.

One leathery hand was raised to shield his slitted eyes; the wind from

the north struck toward the mouth of the cave, and it brought with it

cold driving rain and whirling flurries of frozen pellets that bit and

stung.

Snow! Gor had traveled far, but never had he seen a storm like this

with white cold in the air. Again a shiver that was part fear rippled

through his muscles and gripped with invisible fingers at his knotted

arms.

"The Beast of the North is angry!" he told himself.

Through the dark and storm, animals drifted past before the blasts of

cold. They were fleeing; they were full of fear--fear of something

that the dull mind of Gor could not picture. But in that mind was the

same wordless panic.

Gor, the man-animal of that pre-glacial day, stared wondering,

stupidly, into the storm with eyes like those of the wild pig. His

arms were long, almost to his knees; his hair, coarse and matted, hung

in greasy locks about his savage face. Behind his low, retreating

forehead was place for little of thought or reason. Yet Gor was a man,

and he met the threat of disaster by something better than blind,

terrified, animal flight.

A scant hundred in the tribe--men and women and little pot-bellied

brown children--Gor gathered them together in the cave far back from

the mouth.

"For many moons," he told them by words and signs, "the fear has been

upon us. There have been signs for us to see and for all the

Four-feet--for Hathor, the great, and for little Wahti in his hole in

the sand-hill. Hathor has swung his long snout above his curved tusks

and has cried his fear, and the Eaters of the Dead have circled above

him and cried _their_ cry.

"And now the Sun-god does not warm us. He has gone to hide behind the

clouds. He is afraid--afraid of the cold monster that blows white

stinging things in his breath.

"The Sun-god is gone--now, when he should be making hot summer! The

Four-feet are going. Even Gwanga, the long-toothed, puts his tail

between his legs and runs from the cold."

* * * * *

The naked bodies shivered in the chill that struck in from the

storm-wrapped world; they drew closer their coverings of fur and

hides. The light of their flickering fires played strange tricks with

their savage faces to make them still uglier and to show the dull

terror that gripped them.

"Run--we must run--run away--the breath of the beast is on us--he

follows close--run...." Through the mutterings and growls a sick child

whimpered once, then was still. Gor was speaking again:

"Run! Run away!" he mocked them. "And where shall the tribe of Zoran

go? With Gwanga, to make food for his cat belly or to be hammered to

death with the stones of the great tribes of the south?"

There was none to reply--only a despairing moan from ugly lips. Gor

waited, then answered his own question.

"No!" he shouted, and beat upon his hairy chest that was round as the

trunk of a tree. "Gor will save you--Gor, the wanderer! You named me

well: my feet have traveled far. Beyond the red-topped mountains of

the north I have gone; I have seen the tribes of the south, and I

brought you a head for proof. I have followed the sun, and I have gone

where it rises."

In the half light, coarse strands of hair waved as hideous heads were

nodded in confirmation of the boast, though many still drooped

despairingly.

"If Gor leads, where will he go?" a voice demanded.

Another growled: "Gor's feet have gone far: where have they gone where

the Beast cannot follow our scent?"

"Down!" said Gor with unconsciousdramatic effect, and he pointed at

the rocky floor of the cave. "I have gone where even the Beast of the

North cannot go. The caves back of this you have seen, but only Gor

has seen the hole--the hole where a strong man can climb down; a hole

too small for the great beast to get through. Gor has gone down to

find more caves below and more caves below them.

"Far down is a place where it is always warm. There is water in lakes

and streams. Gor has caught fish in that water, and they were good.

There are growing things like the round earth-plants that come in the

night, and they, too, were good.

"Will you follow Gor?" he demanded. "And when the Beast is gone and

the Sun-god comes back we will return--"

* * * * *

The blast that found its way inside the cave furnished its own answer;

the echoing, "We follow! We follow!" spoken through chattering teeth

was not needed. The women of the tribe shivered more from the cold

than from fear as they gathered together their belongings, their furs

and hides and crude stone implements; and the shambling man-shape,

called Gor, led them to the hole down which a strong man might climb,

led them down and still down....

But, as to the rest--Gor's promise of safe return to the light of day

and that outer world where the Sun-god shone--how was Gor to know that

a mightyglacier would lock the whole land in ice for endless years,

and, retreating, leave their upper caves filled and buried under a

valley heaped with granite rocks?

Even had the way been open to the land above, Gor himself could never

have known when that ice-sheet left. For when that day came and once

more the Sun-god drew steamy spirals from the drenched and thawing

ground, Gor, deep down in the earth, had been dead for countless

years. Only the remote descendants of that earlier tribe now lived in

their subterranean home, though even with them there were some who

spoke at times of those legends of another world which their ancestors

had left.

And through the long centuries, while evolution worked its slow

changes, they knew nothing of the vanishing ice, of the sun and the

gushing waters, the grass and forests that came to cover the earth.

Nor did their descendants, exploring interminable caves, learning to

tame the internal fires, always evolving, always growing, have any

remote conception of a people who sailed strange seas to find new

lands and live and multiply and build up a country of sky-reaching

cities and peaceful farmlands, of sunlit valleys and hills.

But always there were adventurous souls who made their way deeper and

deeper into the earth; and among them in every generation was one

named Gor who was taught the tribal legends and who led the

adventurers on. But legends have a trick of changing, and instead of

searching upward, it was through the deeper strata that they made

their slow way in their search for a mystic god and the land of their

fathers' fathers....

CHAPTER I

_A Man Named Smith_

Heat! Heat of a white-hot sun only two hours old. Heat of blazing

sands where shimmering, gassy waves made the sparse sagebrush seem

about to burst into flames. Heat of a wind that might have come out of

the fire-box of a Mogul on an upgrade pull.

A highway twisted among black masses of outcropping lava rock or

tightened into a straightaway for miles across the desert that swept

up to the mountain's base. The asphalt surface of the pavement was

almost liquid; it clung stickily to the tires of a big car, letting go

with a continuous, ripping sound.

Behind the wheel of the weatherbeaten, sunburned car, Dean Rawson

squinted his eyes against the glare. His lean, tanned face was almost

as brown as his hair. The sun had done its work there; it had set

crinkly lines about the man's eyes of darker brown. But the deeper

lines in that young face had been etched by responsibility; they made

the man seem older than his twenty-three years, until the steady eyes,

flashing into quick amusement, gave them the lie.

And now Rawson's lips twisted into a little grin at his own

discomfort--but he knew the desert driver's trick.

"A hundred plus in the shade," he reasoned silently. "That's hot any

way you take it. But taking it in the face at forty-five an hour is

too much like looking into a Bessemer converter!"

He closed the windows of his old coupe to within an inch of the top,

then opened the windshield a scant half inch. The blast that had been

drawing the moisture from his body became a gently circulating current

of hot air.

He had gone only another ten miles after these preparations for fast

driving, when he eased the big weatherbeaten car to a stop.

* * * * *

On his right, reaching up to the cool heights under a cloudless blue

sky, the gray peaks of the Sierras gave promise of relief from the

furnace breath of the desert floor. There were even valleys of snow

glistening whitely where the mountains held them high. A watcher, had

there been one to observe in the empty land, might have understood

another traveler's pausing to admire the serenemajesty of those

heights--but he would have wondered could he have seen Rawson's eyes

turned in longing away from the mountains while he stared across the

forbidding sands.

There were other mountains, lavender and gray, in the distance. And

nearer by, a matter of twenty or thirty elusive miles through the

dancing waves of hot air, were other barren slopes. Across the rolling

sand-hills wheel marks, faint and wind-blown, led straight from the

highway toward the parched peaks.

"Tonah Basin!" Rawson was thinking. "It's there inside these hills.

It's hotter than this is by twenty degrees right this minute--but I

wish I could see it. I'd like to have one more look before I face that

hard-boiled bunch in the city!"

He looked at his watch and shook his head. "Not a chance," he

admitted. "I'm due up in Erickson's office in five hours. I wonder if

I've got a chance with them...."

* * * * *

Five hours of driving, and Rawson walked into the office of Erickson,

Incorporated, with a steady step. Another hour, and his tanned face

had gone a trifle pale; his lips were set grimly in a straight line

that would not relax under the verdict he felt certain he was about to

hear.

For an hour he had faced the steely-eyed man across the long table in

the Directors Room--faced him and replied to questions from this man

and the half-dozen others seated there. Skeptical questions, tricky

questions; and now the man was speaking:

"Rawson, six months ago you laid your Tonah Basin plans before

us--plans to get power from the center of the Earth, to utilize that

energy, and to control the power situation in this whole Southwest.

It looked like a wild gamble then, but we investigated. It still looks

like a gamble."

"Yes," said Rawson, "it is a gamble. Did I ever call it anything

else?"

"The Ehrmann oscillator," the man continued imperturbably, "invented

in 1940, two years ago, solves the wireless transmission problem, but

the success of your plan depends upon your own invention--upon your

straight-line drills that you say will not wander off at a tangent

when they get down a few miles. And more than that, it depends upon

you.

"Even that does not damn the scheme; but, Rawson, there's only one

factor we gamble on. No wild plans, no matter how many hundreds of

millions they promise: no machines, no matter what they are designed

to do, get a dollar of our backing. It's men we back with our money!"

Rawson's face was set to show no emotion, but within his mind were

insistent, clamoring thoughts:

"Why can't he say it and get it over with? I've lost--what a

hard-boiled bunch they are!--but he doesn't need to drag out the

agony." But--but what was the man saying?

"Men, Rawson!" the emotionless voice continued. "And we've checked up

on you from the time you took your nourishment out of a bottle; it's

you we're backing. That's why we have organized the little company of

Thermal Explorations, Limited. That's why we've put a million of hard

coin into it. That's why we've put you in charge of operations."

He was extending a hand that Dean Rawson had to reach for blindly.

"I'd drill through to hell," Dean said and fought to keep his voice

steady, "with backing like that!"


生词表:
  • extensive [ik´stensiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.广阔的;大量的   (初中英语单词)
  • research [ri´sə:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.调查;探究;研究   (初中英语单词)
  • contents [´kɔ:ntents] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.容纳物;要旨   (初中英语单词)
  • western [´westən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.西的;西方的   (初中英语单词)
  • shield [ʃi:ld] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.盾牌;防御 v.保护   (初中英语单词)
  • frozen [´frəuzn] 移动到这儿单词发声  freeze 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • shiver [´ʃivə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.(使)颤抖;碎片   (初中英语单词)
  • invisible [in´vizəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.看不见的;无形的   (初中英语单词)
  • coarse [kɔ:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.粗(糙)的;粗鲁的   (初中英语单词)
  • savage [´sævidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.野蛮的 n.蛮人   (初中英语单词)
  • disaster [di´zɑ:stə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.灾难,不幸   (初中英语单词)
  • monster [´mɔnstə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.怪物 a.大得异常的   (初中英语单词)
  • breath [breθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.呼吸;气息   (初中英语单词)
  • dramatic [drə´mætik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.戏剧的;戏剧般的   (初中英语单词)
  • pointed [´pɔintid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尖(锐)的;中肯的   (初中英语单词)
  • spoken [´spəukən] 移动到这儿单词发声  speak的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • remote [ri´məut] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.遥远的;偏僻的   (初中英语单词)
  • learning [´lə:niŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.学习;学问;知识   (初中英语单词)
  • multiply [´mʌltiplai] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.增加;倍增;繁殖   (初中英语单词)
  • peaceful [´pi:sfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.和平的;平静的   (初中英语单词)
  • generation [,dʒenə´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发生;世代;同龄人   (初中英语单词)
  • upward [´ʌpwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&ad.向上(的);以上   (初中英语单词)
  • highway [´haiwei] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.公路,大道   (初中英语单词)
  • liquid [´likwid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.液体 a.流动的   (初中英语单词)
  • continuous [kən´tinjuəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.连续不断的;延长的   (初中英语单词)
  • responsibility [ri,spɔnsə´biliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.责任(心);职责;任务   (初中英语单词)
  • amusement [ə´mju:zmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.娱乐;文娱设施   (初中英语单词)
  • silently [´sailəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.寂静地;沉默地   (初中英语单词)
  • moisture [´mɔistʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.潮湿;温度;水份   (初中英语单词)
  • gently [´dʒentli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.温和地;静静地   (初中英语单词)
  • relief [ri´li:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.救济;援救;减轻   (初中英语单词)
  • majesty [´mædʒisti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.壮丽;崇高;尊严   (初中英语单词)
  • barren [´bærən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.贫瘠的;不生育的   (初中英语单词)
  • trifle [´traifəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.琐事,小事;少量   (初中英语单词)
  • wander [´wɔndə, ´wɑ:n:dər] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.徘徊;流浪   (初中英语单词)
  • scheme [ski:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.计划;阴谋,诡计   (初中英语单词)
  • emotion [i´məuʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.感情;情绪;激动   (初中英语单词)
  • charge [tʃɑ:dʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.收费;冲锋 n.费用   (初中英语单词)
  • publication [,pʌbli´keiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.发表;公布;发行   (高中英语单词)
  • emergency [i´mə:dʒənsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.事变;紧急关头   (高中英语单词)
  • casual [´kæʒuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.偶然的;临时的   (高中英语单词)
  • threat [θret] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐吓,威胁   (高中英语单词)
  • hideous [´hidiəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.丑陋的,可怕的   (高中英语单词)
  • unconscious [ʌn´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无意识的;不觉察的   (高中英语单词)
  • mighty [´maiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.强有力的 ad.很   (高中英语单词)
  • granite [´grænit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.花岗岩   (高中英语单词)
  • internal [in´tə:nl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.内部的;国内的   (高中英语单词)
  • conception [kən´sepʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.构思;概念;怀孕   (高中英语单词)
  • pavement [´peivmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.路面;铺筑材料   (高中英语单词)
  • serene [si´ri:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.清澈的;宁静的   (高中英语单词)
  • longing [´lɔŋiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.渴望(的)   (高中英语单词)
  • lavender [´lævində] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.熏衣草;淡紫色   (高中英语单词)
  • grimly [´grimli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.严厉地;坚强地   (高中英语单词)
  • gamble [´gæmbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.赌博;投机;冒险   (高中英语单词)
  • limited [´limitid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有限(制)的   (高中英语单词)
  • copyright [´kɔpirait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.版权;著作权   (英语四级单词)
  • traveled [´trævəld] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.见面广的;旅客多的   (英语四级单词)
  • confirmation [,kɔnfə´meiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.证实;证据;确认   (英语四级单词)
  • belongings [bi´lɔŋiŋz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.所有物;行李   (英语四级单词)
  • glacier [´glæsiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.冰河,冰川   (英语四级单词)
  • evolution [,i:və´lu:ʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.进化;发展;发育   (英语四级单词)
  • adventurous [əd´ventʃərəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.冒险的;惊险的   (英语四级单词)
  • asphalt [´æsfælt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.沥青   (英语四级单词)
  • verdict [´və:dikt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.裁决,判决;判定   (英语四级单词)
  • utilize [´ju:tilaiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.利用;使有用   (英语四级单词)
  • nourishment [´nʌriʃmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.食物;营养品(情况)   (英语四级单词)
  • ghostly [´gəustli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.鬼的;朦胧的   (英语六级单词)
  • involuntarily [in´vɔləntərili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不 自觉地   (英语六级单词)
  • greasy [´gri:si] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.油腻的;润滑的   (英语六级单词)
  • speaking [´spi:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.说话 a.发言的   (英语六级单词)
  • despairing [di´speəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.感到绝望的   (英语六级单词)
  • interminable [in´tə:minəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无终止的;冗长的   (英语六级单词)
  • mystic [´mistik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.神秘的;难以理解的   (英语六级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • transmission [trænz´miʃən, træns-] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.传送;播送;发射   (英语六级单词)

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