The Lost City

Contents:
Author: Joseph E. Badger

Chapter XXXII. Adieu to the Lost City.

And Bruno clung fast to the half-swooning maiden, so that two in place of one had to be assisted by uncle and nephew!

Barely a score of seconds thus employed, then the gallant air-ship responded to the touch of master-hand, and floated away from the bloody temple-top with its increased burden, even as the last survivor of the Sun Children’s body-guard sank down in death.

A brief stupor came over the amazed heathen at sight of this awful air-devil from whose sides spat forth invisible death; but then, as they divined at least a portion of the truth, as they saw their longed-for victims thus borne bodily away, a revulsion came, and, amid the most hideous howls and screeches, missiles flew towards the air-ship, menacing sudden death to all therein.

But fate would not have it thus, and, under the guidance of that master-hand, the aeromotor flew higher and farther, quickly leaving behind all peril from javelins, darts, arrows, or stones from slings. And but one of their number had suffered aught: Bruno lay as one dead, blood flowing from a stone-gash over an eye, but with one hand still gripping the butt of an empty pistol; his other arm was—around the Sun Daughter’s waist!

And Gladys? First she shrunk back with a gasping cry of mingled fear and grief; only to quickly recover and—did she kiss that curiously spotted, streaked face?

Waldo afterwards declared she certainly did, for that a moment later he saw some of that moistened stain upon her quivering lips; but Waldo was ever extravagantly fond of a jest, and it may be—never mind!

Not until the air-ship was safely past peril from yonder howling, raving lunatics in bronze did Professor Featherwit give heed to aught else, and by that time Victoria had left the ardent embrace of her husband, to care for the elder Gillespie, whose single-hearted devotion all through that bloody retreat and bloodier struggle upon the temple had not wholly escaped her notice.

Under such tender ministrations, Bruno quickly revived, and, after assuring himself that the Children of the Sun were alive and unharmed, while the Lost City was now left far behind them, he huskily begged uncle Phaeton to descend to earth, where he might find water enough to remove what remained of that loathsome disguise!

But Professor Featherwit was far too shrewd a general to take any unnecessary risks. His last glimpse of yonder valley showed him hundreds of armed redskins rushing at top speed for the various passes by which that circle of hills could be over-passed, and he knew that chase would be made as long as the faintest ray of hope lured the Aztecs on.

Thus it came that no halt was made until the inland reservoir was reached, where there could be no possible danger in making a temporary landing. And then Bruno stole away in hot haste, both to wash his person and to reclothe it in garments not quite so ridiculous as he now felt that savage rig must appear.

"Just as though the little woman wasn’t used to see fit-outs like that, old man," mocked Waldo, the irrepressible. "She’ll go scare at you in this rig; see if she doesn’t, now!"

Whether or no Gladys was actually frightened as Bruno made his appearance, need not be decided here; but one fact remains: she acted a vast deal shyer than when she saw her gallant defender lying as if dead, with the red blood flowing over his face.

Naturally enough, Cooper Edgecombe seemed fairly crazed by his joy. After so many long years of hopeless grief and wistful longing, to find his loved ones, safe and sound, far more beautiful than of yore! Surely enough to turn the gravest of men into a laughing, jesting, voluble lad!

But throughout it all ran a vein of sadness and of mourning. Neither Aztotl the noble, nor Ixtli the gallant, could so soon be forgotten. And more than one pair of eyes grew dim, more than one voice turned husky, as mention was made of both life and death,—peace to their ashes!

Heavily burdened as the air-ship now was, it would be unwise to add more, and so but a few minor articles were removed from the cavern, which had for so long sheltered the exiled aeronaut, then the lever was touched, and the vessel rose slowly into air, making one leisurely circuit of the lake, in order to show the Children of the Sun where their husband and father came so perilously nigh to entering upon a subterranean voyage to the far-away Pacific. And, luckily as it appeared, they were just in time to see that "big suck" drag another huge tree down into its ever hungry maw.

Not until the shades of night again began to settle over the earth did the professor permit another halt, but then many miles lay between that Lost City of the Aztecs and their present position, and, after selecting a pleasant spot for alighting, preparations for their first al-fresco meal in company were begun.

That proved to be a pleasant meal, and yet a more pleasant evening there in the wilderness,—the first, but by no means the last, partaken of,—for, now they need no longer fear the heathen, Professor Featherwit was eager to more thoroughly explore that strange land.

Still, the air-ship was inconveniently crowded, and that helped to cut explorations short. Then, too, Cooper Edgecombe was naturally eager to return to civilisation once more, especially as he now had his heart’s dearest desire, wife and daughter, each peerless in her peculiar way.

Thus it came to pass that the terra incognita was abandoned for the time being, Professor Featherwit striking that wide path of ruin which marked the course of the tornado, then sailing leisurely towards the point of their initial departure, improving the opportunity by giving a neat little lecture concerning tornadoes in general, and that one in particular.

"Which totally exploded so many absurd theories held up to date," was his proud assertion; and then he went on to explain just how, and why, and wherefore—

Why dwell longer? The tale I set out to narrate is finished. The unknown land has been penetrated, and at least a portion of its marvels has been inspected; imperfectly, no doubt, but that may be attributed to circumstances which were past control.

And should the still curious reader ask, "Is it all true? Is there actually such a place as the Lost City? And are the people who live in that town really and truly the same race as once inhabited Old Mexico?"—to all such, I can hardly do better than this: there was a Territory of Washington. There is now a State of Washington. Within that State may be found a range, or system of mountains, known to the world as the Olympics. And within the wide scope of country which lies nestling inside of that mountain system may to this day be found—

But, after all, a little parable which Waldo Gillespie read to a certain doubting Thomas, on the very evening of the day which changed Gladys Edgecombe, spinster, into Mrs. Bruno Gillespie, may better serve in this connection.

"After all, I don’t believe there is any such place or people," declared Doubting Thomas, nodding his head vigorously.

"Is that so?" mildly queried our good friend, Waldo. "Let me give you a little pointer, old man. Once upon a time, a man by the name of John Smith was being tried for stealing a fat hog. The State brought three reputable witnesses to swear that they actually saw the theft committed, while the best the defence could offer was to declare that they could produce at least a dozen honest citizens who would make oath to the fact that they did not witness the crime. So—moral:

"We six fairly honest people saw both the Lost City and its inhabitants. Scores of equally reliable persons never saw either. Which sort of evidence weighs the most, my good fellow?"

Gentlemen of the jury, the verdict rests with you!

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Chicago: Joseph E. Badger Jr, "Chapter XXXII. Adieu to the Lost City.," The Lost City, ed. Altemus, Henry in The Lost City Original Sources, accessed January 26, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85K3HX7MIFAWV2G.

MLA: Badger, Joseph E., Jr. "Chapter XXXII. Adieu to the Lost City." The Lost City, edited by Altemus, Henry, in The Lost City, Original Sources. 26 Jan. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85K3HX7MIFAWV2G.

Harvard: Badger, JE, 'Chapter XXXII. Adieu to the Lost City.' in The Lost City, ed. . cited in , The Lost City. Original Sources, retrieved 26 January 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85K3HX7MIFAWV2G.