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New Atlantis

IT IS my boat!” cried Kurt Korus. He was a small and rather chubby man, his face—flushed by running and his blond hair somewhat ruffled. He was addressing a tall, slender, bespectacled and likewise blond American, who was sitting in the motorboat. The Chinese sailor was already busy with the controls.

“Beg your pardon, the boat belongs to me.”

“Yesterday evening I rented it from Mr. Jumble.”

“Tonight I bought it from Mr. Jumble.”


The motor started, and the American pulled off his coat and rolled up his shirtsleeves.

“Well, in three seconds we shall pass that steamer. At that moment I shall knock you into the water, so that you can reach the ship. I am not a murderer.”

Korus smiled pleasantly.

“I should advise you not to do that. I should have to duck you under water until you had lost your breath. Besides, I have swum the Channel three times.”

After a pause, during which the two sat silently opposite each other, while the speed boat sped through the harbor like an arrow, Korus said:

“From the New York Herald?” “New York Evening Ledger. Are you from Hamburg?” answered the American.

“Berlin Press,” said Korus.

After a pause, Korus continued, “What is New Atlantis?”


“Who is Joe Allister?”

“A man who has a million too much.”

“Who is Egon Helmstatter?”

“A man who would be put in jail in England.”


“Who is Waldemar Apel?”

“Exactly the same as we.”

“What does that mean?”

“A dreamer, an idealist, a real man, one who after all earns money, for he is getting the million which Allister loses.” Both laughed. Then the German bowed and introduced himself: “Kurt Korus.”

“All Right.”


“Are you, or is that your name?”

“No, you are! I tell you my name, and you say ‘all right’.”

“Are you a boor, because your name is Korus? My name is Albert Right, abbreviated to All Right. Just think of Al Smith.”

Again a pause, and then the American slowly extended his hand.


“To be sure. You are America, I am Europe. Allied warfare against New Atlantis.”

“Very well.”

They had left the bay, and with the speed of an express train the motorboat was racing out on the ocean, as brilliant as a mirror this evening, with its waves foaming up high and breaking in white spray over the two reporters, while the Chinese Bailor stood motionless at the wheel in his oilskins.

* * *

The Cliff House above San Francisco. An immeasurably splendid evening, with the flower gardens about the rather haughty structure all in bloom. Dance music in the open air, young ladies in the most modern dancing frocks, all the gilded youth of San Francisco, and the best negro orchestra in California. Far below, on the sea-washed rocks, the traditional seals with wondering eyes. At the back of the house was a quiet hall. Its doors and windows were carefully secured, to keep out the merry sounds of the dance music. There was an assemblage of serious men: scientists, astronomers, technicians from all over the world. In the front row was a short, thin, wrinkled man of some seventy years, Joe Allister, the petroleum king, who was giving the million. Beside him sat his only remaining child, his twenty-two year-old daughter Irene Allister, youthful, slender, black-haired, with a dainty face and intelligent eyes.

On the platform, beside the great blackboard on which a strange airship was drawn, stood Waldemar Apel. He was a typically energetic German in the prime of life. His speech was short, firm, definite, and convincing. He concluded his discourse thus:

“Now I merely have to show you briefly the form of the space rocket, depicted here, which is to make its first ascent tomorrow at noon. In general it follows the ideas and plans of the German scientist, Hermann Oberth. To limit the weight to the very minimum and at the same time to obtain the greatest possible rigidity and ability to resist the immense initial pressure to which the ship will be exposed on starting, the entire hull of the ship has been made, so far as metal is concerned, of beryllium. This has been produced for the first time in considerable amounts by the German professors Stock and Goldschmidt. It is extraordinarily lighter and at the same time much harder than aluminum.

“To be sure, it is a very costly substance, for you know that the green emerald, the bluish green aquamarine, and finally the ruby and sapphire as well, are nothing but crystallized forms of beryllium. The rocket, which has approximately the shape of an artillery shell, had to have extraordinary dimensions, to be capable of enough of a load. Though only one man takes the risk of being the first to undertake the gigantic flight, the rocket is really built to take three or four passengers. Its length is no less than thirty-five meters, its breadth six meters.


“At the very bow are empty spaces, which are to allow the ship to remain afloat in water. Behind is the cabin of the operator and the passengers. From here all the steering devices and all the necessary apparatus are managed by levers.

“Here in wall cabinets are also the food supplies, the ‘diving suits’, the cylinders of oxygen, and lastly a small supply of oxygen and hydrogen kept in metal bottles. The extreme rear end of the rocket is only loosely attached. Here are again reproduced on a smaller scale, in the form of an auxiliary rocket, all the exhausts which are to propel the ship. This auxiliary rocket is to give the ship its initial velocity and then, after its fuel supply is exhausted, it is to be released from the main ship by the pressure of a lever which sets in motion some sharp knives, thus casting it off. Only then, that is to say when high up in space, begins the rocket explosions which are caused by the flowing out of our gas mixture to give the rocket its steady flight.

“You see the entire rear part of the ship filled with the pumps and all the apparatus pertaining to the operation of the rocket. You see the gyroscopic steering devices around the ship, and of course I do not need to tell you that the entire ship is assured against any loss of heat by means of newly invented insulation layers.

“Gentlemen, there is no doubt that this rocket would be able to reach distant bodies in space, the moon, our neighboring planets. At present that is not our purpose. Tomorrow we will make a trial flight which is particularly to demonstrate the ability to direct the course of the rocket. The courageous man who will dare this first flight will ascend only a little beyond the atmosphere and will then describe a semicircle over the earth at a velocity of about two thousand kilometers an hour, landing again in the Indian Ocean, not far from Madagascar, probably sooner than our boldest fancies imagine.

“I have the honor to invite you, for this first trial flight, to the little island New Atlantis, recently constructed by us in the ocean from iron and concrete, to which our steamer will transport you tomorrow morning at eight o’clock. Finally, I have the additional honor of naming our bold pilot and of presenting him to you.

“Dr. Egon Helmstatter, may I ask you to step forward?”

A young man, about twenty-five years old, a slender wiry person with an energetic face and determined eyes, stepped upon the platform in some embarrassment and bowed to the assemblage.

At this moment, while there was a loud burst of applause, Irene Allister uttered a short cry.

* * *

He was in the back garden of Cliff House. Not where the dancing couples were crowding under the electric lights to the tunes of teh negro orchestra, but where the cliff was bordered by only a narrow iron rail, offering a splendid view of the foaming sea and the brilliant harbor of San Francisco. It was lonely here. Those who were not dancing were crowding around Waldemar Apel, the ingenious inventor of the rocket, around Joe Allister, who had freely spent a million dollars, around the blackboard with the picture of the strange ship. To be sure, the actual leading character. Dr. Egon Helmstatter, was no longer in the hall. It was he who was standing alone out there on the cliff, looking out into the distance. He felt strange but not worried. He did not regret his decision, but he was aware of its full extent. Here he stood on the cliff and gazed across to San Francisco. He was young, he was healthy and Strong. Before him could lie a long and happy life.

Tomorrow perhaps he would be the most famous man on earth.

Tomorrow perhaps millions would lie at his feet.

Not a good outlook. One to a hundred. Probably tomorrow about noon his young limbs would be torn to atoms, flying across the ocean like a new Icarus—he who burned his wings on the sun.

He started, feeling that someone was standing behind him. It was Irene Allister. “Why have you done it?” He looked at her, a thoughtful expression in his eyes.

“Did you not tell me yourself, Miss Allister, that you would only love a man who did something extraordinary?” She seized his hand. “Then it is for me? Then I am to blame, if tomorrow you—?”

Anxiety, fear, and deep feeling were in her words, yet Egon took it in a most remarkable fashion. Certainly, a few days before, when he was alone with Irene in her father’s park, he had spoken of his love, and she had said with a smile the words which he now repeated.

But now all that seemed to him so strange and trifling. That night, he had resolved that at the very first moment, he would place himself at Apel’s disposal. Was it to win Irene Allister? In these two days he had become quite another person. He had thought nothing more of Irene. He was completely sunk and absorbed in the immensity of his new work. He felt himself a pioneer in human knowledge and achievement.

Now the weeping girl stood before him. Could he, standing at the threshold of eternity, think of a girl? To be sure, she was dear to him, and he was infinitely sorry for her.

“No, Miss Allister, you are not to blame. It is my own free will to offer my life to science and perhaps to the future of mankind.”

She looked at him, and slowly he looked away again into the distance. She had flirted with him as with many others. At this moment, when she felt that the soul of this man was barely held to earth, he seemed to her super-naturally grand and splendid, and she knew that she loved him.

“Remain here!”

He turned again to her. He softened. He laid his hand on her head, saying, “Be happy and hope that your father’s work will succeed.”

At this moment his eye was fixed on something else. He saw a swift little motorboat speeding across the bay below. He felt as though he could suddenly see clearly.

“Excuse me, please. Miss Allister.”

He freed his hand from hers and walked quickly into the house.

She looked after him, realizing that he had completely forgotten her. For the first time since she was a child, Irene Allister bowed her head on a post of the fence and wept.


Joe Allister was standing alone in the little special room behind the great hall. The hubbub of the people who crowded about him had become too much for him, and the old man felt exhausted. . Egon Helmstatter walked up to him. “May I trouble you for a moment?”

At once the petroleum king took in the terrified expression of the young man.

“What is it?”

“I do not know, Mr. Allister, but for several minutes I have felt an inexplicable anxiety.”

Allister smiled understandingly.

“It is of course for you to say whether you wish to ascend tomorrow.”

Egon shook his head.

“Nonsense! Wasn’t it your intention to set out for New Atlantis at the same time as the steamer?”


“Would it not be possible for us to start at once, so that you might take me to the artificial island as fast as possible?”

“But why?”

“I cannot tell you. I myself do not know. Suddenly the idea seized me that danger threatens the rocket this very night, that we cannot get there soon enough.”

“You are nervously excited.”

“Perhaps, but—”

“Well, has something happened to you?”

“I was standing by the cliff, when all of a sudden I saw a swift motorboat hurrying across the water, toward the mouth of the bay.”

“And what else?”

“Nothing else. I only imagine that there might be people in the boat who would injure us. Who would go out on the ocean at night in a motor-boat?”

“Perhaps a couple of over-eager reporters. They cannot land, New Atlantis is well watched.”

The old man walked back and forth nervously. “Your anxiety is infecting me. Of course it is nonsense, but after all—” He laughed. “Do you know, that really is a good idea. Now is the time for the festive dinner. Speeches to me, to you, to everybody. The usual mutual incense-burning without any sense. Look for my daughter, and we will set out secretly. Order my car. This is a fine joke. While the hyenas of enthusiasm are waiting for us in the hall, we will quietly make our getaway, eat comfortably on my yacht, and sleep a few extra hours, before the big show begins.”

When the committee of honor entered ten minutes later, to accompany Mr. Allister and Egon Helmstatter solemnly into the banquet hall, they were disappointed to find nothing but a note:

“We have already started for New Atlantis.”

They actually were already on board the Swallow, the white yacht of the petroleum king, passing through the bay.

It was two hours later. Already they were far out in the ocean, for the motorboat was making extraordinary speed thru the quiet sea. Kurt and the American for a long time had ceased to sit in hostile fashion on opposite sides of the boat. They were sitting together below in the tiny cabin, where the spray did not enter. Korus had lighted a cigar, and the American had filled his pipe.

“We should be there in about an hour.”

“Then we have at least four hours start on Allister’s yacht.”

“Of course the island is guarded.”

The American bent close to the German.

“I absolutely have to get into the rocket tonight. If I can telegraph the New York Evening Ledger an exact description of the ship early tomorrow, I shall earn four thousand dollars.”

“We Germans are poorer, I’ll get only three thousand marks.”

“Well, we must get in, but how?”

Korus held out his hand.

“Tit for tat?”

“How so?”

“If you are ready to render services in return, I’ll take you along.”

“Have you confederates?”

“Three makes an alliance.”

“Who is the third?”

“Nagao Hazumi.”

“The Japanese?”

“Yes from the Asahi, you know the Tokyo Sun, they pay more than New York. Five thousand dollars.”

“Is he there already?”

“He has been for three days. Among the guards disguised as a Chinese.”

“I’ll be damned! For three days?”

“No matter, he doesn’t understand technical matters. He has to wait for me to come and explain it all to him. I shall do that, so that he will take me into the rocket.”

The American pressed his hand.

“Then we three, America, Germany, and Japan, will send our reports at the same time.”

New Atlantis!

The white yacht of the petroleum king was speeding across the ocean under a full head of steam. To be sure, it couldn’t catch the little motorboat with the speedy engines. Joe Allister felt very content.

“Pitch in. Doctor. You will not be offered such good food tomorrow.”

Egon smiled a little.

“I hope that the lunch in Madagascar is not too bad.”

“Well, you will be only a few minutes en route.”

Egon was very serious.

“Perhaps a whole eternity.”

Allister shook his head.

“Don’t forget that you have my million in your hand.”

Irene could no longer bear to listen to this conversation. Silently she left the room.

Still the motorboat raced through the waves. It was almost midnight, pitch dark, the moon and stars veiled by black clouds, but in the sky there suddenly appeared a bright light, growing stronger every minute. Korus and the American were now standing on the deck of the boat.

“New Atlantis.”

It was the little island in the vast ocean, as yet unseen by anyone, carefully guarded from every outside eye by Joe Allister’s stately fleet.

It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter. It rose from the sea, floating on it and fastened to the bottom only by strong anchors. It actually was a huge hemisphere of metal and concrete, open underneath. Above it was shaped to a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves. From this platform steps led down to the water all around. On all four sides, ribs several hundred meters long extended out into the sea, forming four harbors, which could be used according to the direction of the wind.

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At the outermost point of each of these breakwaters was a little lighthouse, and before each of these lighthouses one of Joe Allister’s ships lay at anchor, with steam up.

The little motorboat had put out all its lights and the motor was throttled to a very low speed. Korus looked at his watch.

“Ten minutes of twelve.

We must wait these ten minutes. I told Nagao Hazumi that I would come at midnight. We cannot venture the entrance without him to guide us.”

“Full speed astern.”

The American had pulled the lever himself. The nearest ship was sending out a searchlight and sweeping the ocean.

“The devil, we came near being in the beam of light.”

They remained motionless, rocked by the waves, while the American laughed.

“I feel as though I were aboard a rum runner.”

They looked at the watch.

“Midnight—five past—ten past twelve.”

They listened. Everything remained unchanged.

Yonder was the brilliantly lighted island, in the middle of which a great structure of iron beams rose indistinctly; yonder were the four ships, each in turn sweeping the sea with its searchlights.

“The Japanese is not making any sign.”

“Who knows what may have happened to him?”

“Every minute is precious, we must chance it.”

“Absolutely impossible.”


“We can in no way land without being noticed.”

“Certainly there are guards on the shore too.”

“Are we to turn back?”

“We’ll swim over.”

Without replying, Korus jumped down into the cabin, came up with the remains of the ham which they had been eating, and threw it into the water. At once great fish heads shot up from the depths.

“There are also sharks.”

The two men, who were watching with vexation the sharks fighting over the booty, could not help shuddering at the sight. Then they were addressed in broken English.

“Good evening, sirs!”

They looked around. It was not, as they had first thought, the Chinese sailor but instead a small Japanese in European clothing.

“Nagao Hazumi, are you here?”

“Yes. You went right by my boat. How could you be so careless? If the ships see you we are done.”

“Well then?”

“I am here in a rowboat. It was not easy to reach your boat.”

“Can we land?”

“Why else should I be here?”

“Have you been in the rocket yet?”

“Things will be ready in an hour.”

“What does ‘ready’ mean?”

“When the guards are asleep.”


The Japanese first cast a questioning glance at the American, was reassured by the German, and then whispered in their ears, “Opium.”


The Japanese took charge. All three got into the little rowboat in which Nagao Hazumi had come and which he had tied to the larger boat.

The Chinese was ordered to return to San Francisco but in any case to make a wide detour, in case Allister’s yacht or the steamer with the guests of honor should encounter him. Nagao Hazumi rowed on, then waiting until the beam ;of the searchlight of the nearest ship had again disappeared, he whisked past the steamer with almost noiseless strokes, and slipped into the shadow of the breakwater. Covered by this, they approached the strange island of New Atlantis.

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