Page:Avon Fantasy Reader 10.djvu/41

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him and his story. It's funny. He can't be real. They ain't nobody that old, and if they was, he couldn't be that spry. What's the name o' this here guy that went to Florida after a fountain of youth?"

"Ponce de Leon," Supplied Crayne. "The island he searched for was said to lie in the Bahama group, and was called Bimini."

"Well, this Captain Methusaleh that we've hooked up with must have been readin' about this here Bimini and never woke up."

Dodging bergs and floes along the Labrador coast and into the ice of Baffin Bay, Commander Crayne had leisure to read the notes made by Captain Ek—one page in his native Norwegian, the translation in quaint English on the opposite page—and again he marveled as observations taken on their trip corresponded. The Aurora was equipped with the latest inventions of science for "finding" ice.

A sonic depth-finder interested Murphy and a Swedish scientist, Bjornsen, deeply, but Crayne learned that Captain Ek had a weird instinct which acted more quickly than the instruments. He was standing with the captain in the bridge one moonlight night when suddenly, Captain Ek jerked the engine-room telegraph and jammed the wheel hard over. A few moments later Murphy rushed up and stood at the rail staring over the sea. It was several minutes before the gigantic ghostly mass of ice appeared faintly luminous against the stars.

"Lucky you felt her chill," yelped Murphy. "We heard the engine telegraph before that berg made a sign on the jigger."

"I need no such contraptions," said the old man to Crayne.

"I've noticed that, sir," Crayne answered, "but how do you get warning?"

"They tell me—the children of light."

Crayne was silent. Captain Ek had used that term in his story of the Sea of Light, beyond the magnetic pole. The cold air off the vast ice-cap of Greenland was crisp and electric. Crayne wondered if it affected the old man as the moon is said to affect animal life of the lower orders, and those whose wits are wandering. Even he began to feel the "wingedness" of his flesh in that electric-charged air of high latitudes.

It was under the great hills of Meteorite Island that Crayne realized that Captain Ek's story had a considerable foundation of truth, for the ship was hailed by Eskimos on shore with undoubted welcome.

At Cape York, kayaks darted about the Aurora and shouts of "Nalegak" greeted them. They hailed Captain Ek as a great chieftain. Landing, the party was escorted enthusiastically to the village and a feast provided in a large communal igloo. The laughing, chattering Eskimos were instantly interested in Murphy, who had brought a banjo and regaled them with jazz, but, missing the Captain, Crayne went in search of him and found him on a gray point of rock in the starlight, his arms outstretched while he repeated in a sonorous voice Norwegian words, as of pleading and passion.

He turned casually to Crayne. "They know I am coming, my friend; the