Dawn ended our peril. We still traveled before a gale, but had outsailed the tempest. Above was a clear, blue sky, and the soft radiance of the rising sun enveloped the ship. Toward noon we reached the dead calm ocean tropics, the heat flamed upon oily, slothful waters, but we sailed with the swiftness of a bird, and far in the distance a heliotrope ridge met our vision.
"The Ocstas!" cried Alpha, delighted. "We shall reach them in the early evening."
And all day she watched till the violet line became a positive purple, gradually deepening into peak and curve with soft velvety slopes, yet as we neared the mountains I noticed, with astonishment, that they reached the water's edge without beach, perpendicular cliffs with smooth, shining surface, barren, upright, a gigantic wall that huge ocean waves dashed against in high bounding sprays.
It was rosy twilight when we sailed over these uncanny mountains so sharply divided by cold, barren cliffs on one side and deep forests, rich valleys on the other.
Anxiously Alpha gazed downward and called my attention to the ominous rumbling, which I supposed was the roar of the ocean.
"I fear we are too late," she murmured. "It seems we will never reach the place where the great Sheldon and Centauri are imperiling their lives tampering with the volcanic Otega."
In vain I tried to calm her. Words made her desperate, and as the detonations increased she clasped her hands tightly in agony. The air grew