Page:Avon Fantasy Reader 10.djvu/54

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Over the snow, dogs streaked with yelps and howls, and from a star of light hung low over the ice that had hemmed her in came men of the Aurora to meet them.

They had pulled the beard of death, seen visions, dreamed dreams. Yet when they met the men of their own race they were silent.

"Commander Crayne, Lieutenant Murphy and Mose the Negro cook were the only members of the Birmingham's crew to return from the ill-fated flight to the magnetic pole," was the news account flashed south by the Aurora's "sparks." "The plane crashed and burned. A particularly marvelous display of northern lights was followed by the worst storm recorded in these latitudes, in which the plane crashed."

A later report told of the loss of the Aurora off the Grand Banks:

"The schooner Aurora is sunk, the last of a series of disasters of this ill-starred cruise. In spite of berg-finding apparatus and modern appliances, the Aurora struck a low-lying berg which opened her from stem to stern. Her crew saved themselves in boats that were picked up by fishermen. Commander Crayne, Lieutenant Murphy and the Negro cook, Mose Johnson, were on the bridge when the boats pulled away from the doomed vessel, having refused to go in the boats although there was room. The government cruiser Mohawk was dispatched to the scene of the disaster in hope that the three men had somehow survived."

Later dispatches:

"After a miraculous escape, clinging for hours to a floating raft with bitterly cold seas washing over them, Commander Crayne, Lieutenant Murphy and Mose Johnson were picked up by the Mohawk, little the worse for their dreadful experiences. These three men of the Birmingham, lost near the magnetic pole, seemingly bear charmed lives. The only statement Commander Crayne made was that he wanted a month's quiet; then he would plan for another northern trip of discovery. The will of Captain Ek, lost in Crayne's flight, has left his vast fortune to charity with only two individual bequests. His books are willed to Professor Bjornsen, who perished with him, and they will revert to his son, also a professor of sciences in Christiania. The other bequest is that of his estate in Norway to Commander Crayne, where Crayne and Murphy will go immediately."

Reading the news accounts, Murphy crumpled the paper and looked at Crayne.

"Dare you to swim the Atlantic and try out that Bimini stuff? he said.

"Bud," replied Crayne, "standing in the Aurora's wheelroom with locked doors when she slipped from the berg and sank in God alone knows how many fathoms, and us three coming up, catching a spar and living for two days and nights in berg-cold water, is proof enough for me. Bimini. Perhaps we have dipped in hell!"