Masterworks of Adventure: Lost Worlds

The Ultimate Anthology: 32 Classic Tales

Long before Indiana Jones... The ‘Lost World’ or ‘Lost Race’ genre was one of the most popular genres of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This Masterworks of Adventure anthology is a collection of 32 tales considered to be among the best and most influential works. We started with 333: A Bibliography of the Science-Fantasy Novel, by Crawford, Donahue and Grant (1953), which lists the best works published before 1950, then cross-referenced them with Science-fiction, the Early Years by Everett Franklin Bleiler and Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Lost Race Check Guide, the ultimate checklist for collectors. You’ll find stories told in a variety of styles: travelogues, boy’s adventure, romantic adventure, philosophical adventure and pulp fiction. Some have been made available for Kindle for the very first time and are exclusive to ROH Press.

What people are saying

She: The most famous of the ‘lost world’ novels. It was incredibly popular and is still one of the best-selling books of all time, having sold over a hundred million copies. ~ Graeme Shimmin

The Lost World: “The tone and techniques that Conan Doyle first refined in The Lost World have become standard narrative procedures in popular entertainment of the present day.” ~ Michael Crichton

Eureka: “One of the finer books of its kind, unfortunately very rare.” ~ Jessica Amanda Salmonson

The Knight of the Silver Star: “Excellent tale.” ~ Jessica Amanda Salmonson

The Phantom City, A Volcanic Romance: “Intelligently written.” ~ Everett Franklin Bleiler, Science-fiction, the Early Years

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The Phantom City

Chapter 1: Señor Don Domingo

ON A CERTAIN very warm day in November, 186-, the Royal Mail steamer, Guadalquivir, whose surgeon I happened at the time to be, was lying off St. Peter’s Island (of the Virgin group). We had arrived a few hours previously from England, and most of our cargo, and the majority of our passengers, had already been transferred to the smaller steamers bound for the Gulf, the Windward and Leeward Islands, the Spanish Main, and elsewhere.
A surgeon’s life in these latitudes is generally rather an idle one—except when Yellow Jack pays you a visit, and then the chances are that if you escape him you die of overwork and anxiety—and, having nothing particular to do, I was sauntering about the quarterdeck, smoking a fragrant Havana, and talking with the mail agent and some of the passengers who were going to Jamaica, the Guadalquivir’s ultimate destination, when Herbert, the second officer, came aft, touched me on the shoulder, and drew me aside.
“You are wanted on board the Tabasco, Carlyon,” he said.
“What for?”
“To see a sick passenger.”
“A sick passenger! Nothing serious, I hope—not—” I said, with a look which he well understood.
“No, not Yellow Jack this time, thank God. We had enough of that on the last homeward trip. Nothing very particular, I fancy; only Handsome Tommy would like you to see the man—a Spaniard of some consequence, I believe—before he weighs anchor.”
“I will go at once, then.”
“Oh, there is no hurry. The Tabasco will not be ready to weigh for an hour or more. There is a boat alongside there—on the starboard quarter.”
After finishing my cigar, and hearing the conclusion of the mail agent’s story—he was a capital storyteller, poor fellow—I stepped into my cabin, put my instrument case into my pocket, and, waving my hand to my friends on the quarterdeck, got down into the boat. I little thought that I had seen them for the last time, and that I should never again set foot on the stately Guadalquivir.
Handsome Tommy, otherwise Thomas Tobias, was the Tabasco’s skipper, a fine-looking fellow, with a tawny beard, immense vitality, and great bodily strength.
I found him on deck, under a white umbrella, watching the stowing of his cargo.
“Who and where is the sick man?” I asked.
“Either a Spaniard or a Mexican, I am not sure which. Anyhow, they call him Señor Don Domingo. It was so confoundedly close in his bunk that I made the steward sling him a hammock near the after coaling port, where you will find him. I really believe it is cooler there than on deck.”
“That was very thoughtful of you, Tobias. You did quite right. Nothing like plenty of air for the sick, and the sound too, for that matter.”
I was turning away to seek my patient, when the skipper observed, in the quiet way which was natural to him, that he thought there was likely to be a change of weather.
“And quite time, too,” I said, mopping the perspiration from my face, “it is almost too hot to breathe. But I see no signs of a change. The sky is clear, and the sea as calm as a millpond.”
“I think if you look hard towards the sou’-west there, you will see something (handing me his glass).”
“I see nothing but a small cloud, about the size of a man’s hand,” I said, after looking for several minutes as hard as I could in the direction indicated.
“It will be bigger before it is less,” answered Tommy, quietly. “The glass is beginning to fall, too. I wish I was out of this. If I don’t get away before dark I shall lie here until morning.”
Here the first officer came to ask some question about the cargo, and I went below to look after my patient, hoping that Handsome Tommy would be right in his forecast; for even a gale of wind would be preferable to that stifling intolerable heat—and a good deal more wholesome.
As I knew Spanish pretty well, I spoke to Señor Don Domingo in his own language. He was a meagre, middle-aged man, with a saffron-coloured, leathery skin, deep black eyes, a rather undershot lower lip, and heavy jaws. Albeit his temperament seemed in no way strumous, there were signs about his neck which showed that he had some time or other suffered either from scurvy or blood-poisoning. His present complaint, however, was apparently low fever, of a form common in the West Indies, and easily cured if taken in time.
After feeling his pulse and testing his temperature, I sent the steward for the captain’s medicine chest, gave Señor Domingo a cooling draught, and prepared him a mixture of which quinine was the principal ingredient.
“You are treating me for fever, Señor Doctor,’’ he said, after he had taken the draught.
“Certainly! It is fever you are suffering from—fever and the terrible heat. But this draught and the medicine I shall ask you to take later on will, I hope, set you to rights. I admit, though, that a good rattling sea breeze would probably do you more good than either. I am sorry, both for your sake and my own, that I cannot command one.”
“You are very kind. The fever is nothing; it will readily yield to your skill, I am sure. But I have something here” (laying his left hand on the deltoid muscle of his right shoulder)—“I have something here that neither sea breeze nor medicine can cure. It has troubled me two years, and I fear will trouble me as long as I live.”
“What is it?”
“An old wound.”
“An old wound! Old wounds are sometimes rather intractable, I know, but not always incurable. Would you mind letting me see it?”
“On the contrary, I should like you to see it very much,” and Señor Domingo, without more ado, bared his shoulder. He was terribly thin, poor fellow.
“An old wound!” I repeated. “Why, it looks as if it were only a few days old.”
“It is two years since I got it, though.”
I had never seen such a wound. It was not wide; it did not seem to be deep, and it had evidently been produced by a sharp instrument. But the skin was as much discoloured as if it had been made by a burnt stick. There were marks of old abscesses, too, and a new one was forming close to the cicatrix, which bore every appearance of having only recently healed.
“It breaks out after healing, I suppose?”
“Continually; and those abscesses—I am hardly ever free from them. They make my life miserable, and sometimes reduce me to a state of great weakness. I have been to doctor after doctor, but none of them seem able to do me any good.”
“Very strange,” I said, continuing to examine the wound, which presented some very peculiar symptoms in addition to those I have mentioned. “How did you get this hurt, may I ask?”
“From a poisoned arrow.”
“A poisoned arrow! That accounts for it all; I never saw a wound from a poisoned arrow before. And two years ago, you say?” I felt curious to know what my patient had been doing to get himself shot with such a missile.
“Yes, I got it two years ago, and the wonder is that I survived to tell the tale,” he answered, gloomily.
“But do you think you can cure me? I fear it is almost past hoping for—still, you know, one does not like to abandon hope.”
A difficult question to answer, my experience of the effects of poisoned arrows being decidedly limited; and, judging from the appearance of the shoulder, I could not honestly say that there was much likelihood of a speedy cure. Under the continuous heat of the tropics, the cellular tissue, becoming relaxed, loses much of its contractile power, and the defective lymphatic circulation thence resulting makes the healing of wounds and bruises sometimes very difficult. The nervous system, moreover, gets singularly irritable; the slightest hurts are often very painful, with a tendency to tetanus, which, when once it sets in, is absolutely beyond control. In the present instance, moreover, there were signs of blood-poisoning, and my prognosis of the case was far from favourable. But it is never wise to dishearten a patient, and I did all I could to encourage the unfortunate Spaniard.
“Oh, you must not despair,” I said, cheerily. “Nil desperandum, you know; and I do not regard your case as at all hopeless. The doctors you have consulted are Spanish doctors, I suppose?”
“Spanish and Creole.”
“The same thing. And I dare say they have given you a lot of physic?”
“Bucketsful; I might almost say oceans. I have been doctoring for two years; and to tell the truth, Señor Doctor, I am on my way now to St. Jago de Cuba to consult a celebrated physician there, who is said to be able to cure anything.”
“No doctor can do that, Señor Don Domingo. The man who says he can is a charlatan; and in my opinion, no amount of physic, no mere medical treatment, will do you good—rather harm, indeed. Yet, there is a way—”
“I thank Heaven and St. Dominic to hear you say so, Señor Doctor. Do me the favour to point out the way to health, and I will follow it. You English physicians are so surpassingly clever. The way, Señor Doctor, the way!”
“If you want to get better,” I answered, bowing in acknowledgment of the compliment: “if you want to get better, you must leave this part of the world at once for a more temperate, climate. Go, if possible, to some Swiss or Tyrolese mountain resort, seven or eight thousand feet above sea-level, where the air is absolutely pure, and the rapid evaporation causes quick renewal of the tissues. Take, at the same time, a course of sulphur baths and hydropathic treatment, and in six months you will be another man.”
“You think that would cure me?”
“I do.”
“By the powers, I’ll go then! A thousand thanks for your advice, Doctor Carlyon. “You have given me new hope,” exclaimed the Señor Don, in a decided Irish accent.
To say that my breath was taken away would be an inadequate description of my feelings. If a mermaid had jumped through the port; if a shark had walked down the after-hatchway; if Handsome Tommy had appeared before us and danced a hornpipe, I could hardly have been more surprised.
“Have I actually been lavishing my best Castilian all this time on a fellow-countryman?” I asked, with some warmth; for though I knew Spanish fairly, English was a good deal easier.
“I don’t know about the fellow-countryman; but I am Irish, if that is what you mean?” said Domingo, dryly.
“Fellow-subject, then, if you like that better. But as my mother was Irish, I cannot consider myself more than half English.”
“So much the better. Let us be friends, countrymen, and lovers then. For your advice sounds sensible, and if the treatment you recommend restores me to health, you will have rendered me a great service. I suppose you are surprised at finding that I am—”
“Not a Señor Don? Rather.”
“You looked so. Would you like to know how I became a Señor Don, as you call it?”
“And came by that poisoned-arrow wound on your shoulder? Very much indeed.”
“Well, I will tell you. Light a cigar, sit down on that Southampton chair, and listen.”