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CHAPTER IX. ON AN ISLAND.
“You are right,” agreed Randall, “and it will not do to tempt fate.”

“What shall we do?”

“We must leave here.”

“Where shall we go?”

“Back to the mountains. From there I believe we can watch the whole wonderful phenomenon.”

“All right,” agreed Frank, with alacrity. “It shall be as you say; but one thing puzzles me.”

“Well?”

“What has become of the people who abandoned this doomed country?”

“It is easy enough to guess. Doubtless they have made their way to other parts of the Antarctic, as yet undiscovered by any one.”

“Before I leave this land of wonders I must find them,” declared Frank. “I must have a look at them.”

“I don’t see why we cannot accomplish that,” declared Randall. “Then we will return to the other end of the valley, will we?”

“By all means.”

In a few moments more Frank and Randall were aboard the Scorcher.

They said nothing to the others of the subject uppermost in their minds. But Frank started the machine at once back up the valley.

Scarcely twenty miles had been made, however, when a strange, grayish bank of clouds began to rise upward toward the zenith.

Thus far our adventurers had not experienced a storm of any violence. There had been only some slight rains.

But the moment Frank saw the strangely tinted clouds he became alarmed.

“On my word, Randall,” he said, “I believe we are going to have a rough storm.”

The geologist’s face was grave. He studied the sky a moment. Then he swept the landscape.

“Which is the highest point of land near here?” he asked.

“I think it is yonder hill,” said Frank, pointing to an elevation about five miles distant.

“How far is it over there?”

“Five miles.”

“Well, I think we had better make for it. If there should come a cloudburst or even a heavy fall of rain in these lowlands we might get swamped.”

“I believe you are right,” agreed Frank. “We will do that.”

He changed the course of the Scorcher at once. Five miles was quickly covered, and they reached the hill.

The great, angry cloud had swept up to the zenith. A blackness most intense was settling down over the landscape.

“Ugh!” exclaimed Wendel, “we’re going to have a bit of a blow, mates.”

“Bejabers, av that’s so, I’m afther thinkin’ we’re on high enough land to git the whole benifit av it.”

“That’s true, Barney,” said Frank, “but it’s better than getting drowned.”

“Phwat’s that, sor?” asked the Celt in surprise. “Shure, there’s no chance av that, is there?”

Frank saw that he had put his foot into it, to speak metaphorically, and was decided now to make a clean breast of the matter.

So he called Randall up, and said:

“I think it would be wisest to explain our situation and our fears in full to the others.”

“Well,” agreed Randall, “I guess you are right.”

With this, Frank called the others up and told them the truth. It caused them some surprise, but Wendel said:

“Well, mates, all of our family were seafaring men, and all have found a grave in the sea but mo. I don’t expect to be an exception.”

“Bejabers, the naygur an’ mesilf are good swimmers! Eh, naygur!”

“Yo, kin bet we is, I’sh!”

“Very good!” said Frank, with a laugh. “Then we need fear nothing. Yet I believe we had better turn the machine head on to the wind and trig the wheels well.”

This was done. And now all awaited, with some apprehension and eagerness, the coming of the storm.

As is usual with tempests, it was not long in coming. Over the volcano it swept, bringing down into the valley a vortex of ashes and soot.

The approach of the storm was like the bellowing of a thousand wild lions. In the utter darkness its coming could only be felt, not seen.

It struck the Scorcher with terrific force. For a few moments it seemed as if the machine was in the clutches of destroying fiends.

Then the wind passed as quickly as it came, and the rain followed.

Torrents of water surged about the machine and over the deck. It seemed as if it would be engulfed.

For hours the storm raged.

Then, in a lull, Frank went on deck and turned on the searchlight. The sight revealed was startling.

The electric light fell glaringly bright upon flashing waters. All about the Scorcher, as far as the light could penetrate, was a mass of water—an............
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