After London eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about After London.

He dreaded lest he should fall and sleep, and wake no more, like the searchers after treasure; treasure which they had found only to lose for ever.  He looked around, supposing that he might see the gleaming head and shoulders of the half-buried giant, of which he recollected he had been told.  The giant was punished for some crime by being buried to the chest in the earth; fire incessantly consumed his head and played about it, yet it was not destroyed.  The learned thought, if such a thing really existed, that it must be the upper part of an ancient brazen statue, kept bright by the action of acid in the atmosphere, and shining with reflected light.  Felix did not see it, and shortly afterwards surmounted the hill, and looked down upon his canoe.  It was on fire!

CHAPTER XXIV

FIERY VAPOURS

Felix tried to run, but his feet would not rise from the ground; his limbs were numb as in a nightmare; he could not get there.  His body would not obey his will.  In reality he did move, but more slowly than when he walked.  By degrees approaching the canoe his alarm subsided, for although it burned it was not injured; the canvas of the sail was not even scorched.  When he got to it the flames had disappeared; like Jack-o’-the-lantern, the phosphoric fire receded from him.  With all his strength he strove to launch her, yet paused, for over the surface of the black water, now smooth and waveless, played immense curling flames, stretching out like endless serpents, weaving, winding, rolling over each other.  Suddenly they contracted into a ball, which shone with a steady light, and was as large as the full moon.  The ball swept along, rose a little, and from it flew out long streamers till it was unwound in fiery threads.

But remembering that the flames had not even scorched the canvas, he pushed the canoe afloat, determined at any risk to leave this dreadful place.  To his joy he felt a faint air rising; it cooled his forehead, but was not enough to fill the sail.  He paddled with all the strength he had left.  The air seemed to come from exactly the opposite direction to what it had previously blown, some point of east he supposed.  Labour as hard as he would, the canoe moved slowly, being so heavy.  It seemed as if the black water was thick and clung to her, retarding motion.  Still, he did move, and in time (it seemed, indeed, a time) he left the island, which disappeared in the luminous vapours.  Uncertain as to the direction, he got his compass, but it would not act; the needle had no life, it swung and came to rest, pointing any way as it chanced.  It was demagnetized.  Felix resolved to trust to the wind, which he was certain blew from the opposite quarter, and would therefore carry him out.  The stars he could not see for the vapour, which formed a roof above him.

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After London from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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