We laid them on the ground in a little roadside banana patch. We were no more than a quarter of a mile from the enemy now; the glow of their green beams standing up into the air showed on the ridge-top ahead of us.
"We'll take the uproad," Don whispered. "Shall we? And when we get to the top, follow some path, instead of a road."
"All right," I agreed.
We started on foot up the steep side road which led from the bay shore to the summit of the ridge. The houses here were all dark and deserted, their occupants long since having fled to Hamilton. It was enemy country here now.
We reached the summit and plunged into a cedar grove which had a footpath through it. The green light-beams seemed very close; we could see them in a little group standing motionless up into the darkness of the sky.
"Can't plan," Don whispered. "But we must keep together. Get up as close as we can and see what conditions are."
And see if Jane were here.... It echoed through my head, and I knew it was also Don's guiding thought.
Another ten minutes. We were advancing with the utmost caution. The cedar grove was almost black. Then we came to the end of it. There was a winding road and two white houses a hundred feet or so apart. And beyond the houses was a stretch of open field, strangely denuded of vegetation.
"There they are, Bob!" Don sank to the ground with me beside him. We crouched, revolvers in hand, gazing at the strange scene. The field had been a cedar grove, but all the vegetation now was gone, leaving only the thin layer of soil and the outcropping patches of Bermuda's famous blue-gray rock. The houses, too, had been blasted. One was on this side of the field, quite near us. Its walls and roof had partially fallen; its windows and door rectangles yawned black and empty, with the hurricane shutters and the wooden window casements gone and the panes shattered into a litter of broken glass.
But the house held our attention only a moment. Across the two-hundred-foot field we could plainly see the invaders--forty or fifty men's figures dispersed in a little group. It seemed a sort of encampment. The green light beams seemed emanating from small hand projectors resting now on the ground. The sheen from them gave a dull lurid-green cast to the scene. The men were sitting about in small groups. And some were moving around, seemingly assembling larger apparatus. We saw a projector, a cylindrical affair, which half a dozen of them were dragging.
"Bob! Can you make out--back by the banana grove--captives? Look!"
The encampment was at the further corner of the naked field. A little banana grove joined it. We could see where the enemy light had struck, partially melting off some of the trees so that now they stood leprous. In the grove were other figures of men, and it seemed that among them were some girls. Was Jane there among those captives?
"We've got to get closer," I whispered. "Don, that second house--if we could circle around and get there. From the corner of it, we'd be hidden."
"We'll try it."
The farther house was also in ruins. It stood near the back edge of the naked field and was within fifty feet of the banana grove. We circled back, and within ten minutes more were up against the broken front veranda of the house.
"No one here," Don whispered.
"No, evidently not."
"Let's try getting around the back and see them from the back corner."
We were close enough now to hear the voices in the banana grove. The half-wrecked house against which we crouched was a litter of stones and broken glass. It was black and silent inside.
Sidewise across the broken veranda the group of figures in the field were partly visible. We saw ghostly wraiths now among them--apparitions three or four feet above the ground. They solidified and dropped to earth, with their comrades gathering over them. The babble of voices in a strange tongue reached us. New arrivals materializing!
But was Jane here? And Tako, the giant? We had seen nothing of either of them. These men seemed all undersized rather than gigantic. We were about to start around the corner of the veranda for a closer view of the figures in the grove, when a sound near at hand froze us. A murmur of voices! Men within the house!
I pulled Don flat to the ground against the stone steps of the porch. We heard voices; then footsteps. A little green glow of light appeared. We could see over the porch floor into the black yawning door rectangle. Two men were moving around in the lower front room, and the radiation from their green lights showed them plainly. They were small fellows in white, tight-fitting garments, with the black helmet and the looped wires.
"Don, when they come out--" I murmured it against his ear. "If we could strike them down without raising an alarm, and get those suits--"
"Quiet! They're coming!"
They extinguished their light. They came down the front steps, and as they reached the ground and turned aside Don and I rose up in the shadows and struck at them desperately with the handles of our revolvers. Don's man fell silently. Mine was able to ward off the blow; he whirled and flashed on his little light. But the beam missed me as I bent under it and seized him around the middle, reaching up with a hand for his mouth. Then Don came at us, and under his silent blow my antagonist wilted.
We had made only a slight noise; there seemed no alarm.
"Get them into the house," Don murmured. "Inside; someone may come any minute."
We dragged them into the dark and littered lower room. We still had our revolvers, and now I had the small hand-projector of the green light-beam. It was a strangely weightless little cylinder, with a firing mechanism which I had no idea how to operate.
In a moment we had stripped our unconscious captives of their white woven garments. In the darkness we were hopelessly ruining the mechanism of wires and dials. But we did not know how to operate the mechanism in any event; and our plan was only to garb ourselves like the enemy. Thus disguised, with the helmets on our heads, we could get closer, creep among them and perhaps find Jane....
The woven garments which I had thought metal, stretched like rubber and were curiously light in weight. I got the impression now that the garments, these wires and disks, the helmet and the belt with its dial-face--all this strange mechanism and even the green-ray projector weapon--all of it was organic substance. And this afterward proved to be the fact.
 As we later learned, the scientific mechanism by which the transition was made from the realm of the fourth dimension to our own earthly world and back again, was only effective to transport organic substances. The green light-beam was of similar limitation. An organic substance of our world upon which it struck was changed in vibration rate and space-time co-ordinates to coincide with the characteristics with which the light-current was endowed. Thus the invaders used their beams as a weapon. The light flung whatever it touched of organic material with horrible speed of transition away into the Unknown--to the fourth, fifth, or perhaps still other realms. In effect--annihilation.
The mechanism of wires and dials (and small disks which were storage batteries of the strange current) was of slower, more controllable operation. Thus it could be used for transportation--for space-time traveling, as Earth scientists later came to call it. The invaders, wearing this mechanism, materialized at will into the state of matter existing in our world--and by a reversal of the co-ordinates of the current, dematerialized into the more tenuous state of their own realm.
We were soon disrobed and garbed in the white suits of our enemies. The jacket and trunks stretched like rubber to fit us.
"Can't hope to get the wires right," Don whispered. "Got your helmet?"
"Yes. The belt fastens behind, Don."
"I know. These accursed little disks, what are they?"
We did not know them for storage batteries as yet. They were thin flat circles of flexible material with a cut in them so that we could spring the edges apart and clasp them like bracelets at intervals on our arms and legs. The wires connected them, looped up to the helmet, and down to the broad belt where there was an indicator-dial in the middle of the front.
 We were soon to learn also that they were bringing into our world weapons, food, clothing and a variety of equipment by encasing the articles in containers operated by these same mechanisms of wires carrying the transition current. The transportation was possible because all the articles they brought with them were of organic substance.
We worked swiftly and got the apparatus on somehow. The wires, broken and awry, would not be noticed in the darkness.
"Yes. I--I guess so."
"I've got this light cylinder, but we don't know how to work it."
"Carry it openly in your hand. It adds to the disguise." There was a note of triumph in Don's voice. "It's dark out there--only the green glow. We'll pass for them, Bob, at a little distance anyway. Come on."
We started out of the room. "You can hide your revolver in the belt--there seems to be a pouch."
We passed noiselessly to the veranda. Over our bare feet we were wearing a sort of woven buskin which fastened with wires to the ankle disks.
"Keep together," Don whispered. "Take it slowly, but walk openly--no hesitation."
My heart was pounding, seemingly in my throat, half-smothering me. "Around the back corner of the house," I whispered. "Then into the banana grove. Straighten."
"Yes. But not right among them. A little off to one side, passing by as though we were on some errand."
"If they spot us?"
"Open fire. Cut and run for it. All we can do, Bob."
Side by side we walked slowly along the edge of the house. At the back corner, the small banana grove opened before us. Twenty feet away, under the spreading green leaves of the trees a dozen or so men were working over apparatus. And in their center a group of captive girls sat huddled on the ground. Men were passing back and forth. At the edge of the trees, by the naked field, men seemed preparing to serve a meal. There was a bustle of activity everywhere; a babble of strange, subdued voices.
We were well under the trees now. Don, choosing our route, was leading us to pass within ten or fifteen feet of where the girls were sitting. It was dark here in the grove; the litter of rotted leaves on the soft ground scrunched and swished under our tread.
There was light over by the girls. I stared at their huddled forms; their white, terrified faces. Girls of Bermuda, all of them young, all exceptionally pretty. I thought I recognized Eunice Arton. But still it seemed that Jane was not here.... And I saw men seated watchfully near them--men with cylinder weapons in their hands.
Don occasionally would stoop, poking at the ground as though looking for something. He was heading us in a wide curve through the grove so that we were skirting the seated figures. We had already been seen, of course, but as yet no one heeded us. But every moment we expected the alarm to come. My revolver was in the pouch of my belt where I could quickly jerk it out. I brandished the useless light cylinder ostentatiously.
"Don!" I gripped him. We stopped under a banana tree, half hidden in its drooping leaves. "Don--more of them coming!"
Out in the empty field, apparitions of men were materializing. Then we heard a tread near us, and stiffened. I thought that we were discovered. A man passed close to us, heading in toward the girls. He saw us; he raised a hand palm outward with a gesture of greeting and we answered it.
For another two or three minutes we stood there, peering, searching for some sign of Jane.... Men were distributing food to the girls now.
And then we saw Jane! She was seated alone with her back against a banana tree, a little apart from the others. And near her was a seated man's figure, guarding her.
"Don! There she is! We can get near her! Keep on the way we were going. We must go in a wide curve to come up behind her."
We started forward again. We were both wildly excited; Jane was at the edge of the lighted area. We could come up behind her; shoot her guard; seize her and dash off.... I saw that the mesh of wires, disks and a helmet were on Jane....
Don suddenly stumbled over something on the ground. A man who had been lying there, asleep perhaps, rose up. We went sidewise, and passed him.
But his voice followed us. Unintelligible, angry words.
"Keep on!" I murmured. "Don't turn!"
It was a tense moment. The loud words brought attention to us. Then there came what seemed a question from someone over by the girls. We could not answer it. Then two or three other men shouted at us.
Don stopped, undecided.
"No!" I whispered. "Go ahead! Faster Don! It's darker ahead."
We started again. It seemed that all the camp was looking our way. Voices were shouting. Someone called a jibe and there was a burst of laughter. And from behind us came a man's voice, vaguely familiar, with a sharp imperative command.
Should we run? Could we escape now, or would a darting green beam strike us? And we were losing our chance for Jane.
Desperation was on me. "Faster, Don!"
The voice behind us grew more imperative. Then from nearby, two men came running at us. An uproar was beginning. We were discovered!
Don's revolver was out. It seemed suddenly that men were all around us. From behind a tree-trunk squarely ahead a figure appeared with leveled cylinder. The ground leaves were swishing behind us with swiftly advancing footsteps.
Don found his wits. If he had not at that moment we would doubtless have been annihilated in another few seconds. "Bob, we're caught--don't shoot!"
I had flung away the cylinder and drawn my revolver; but Don shoved down my extended hand and held up his own hand.
"We're caught!" He shouted aloud. "Don't kill us! Don't kill us!"
It seemed that everywhere we looked was a leveled cylinder. I half turned at the running footsteps behind us. A man's voice called in English.
"Throw down your weapons! Down!"
Don cast his revolver away, and mine followed. I was aware that Jane had recognized Don's voice, and that she was on her feet staring in our direction with horrified eyes.
The man from behind pounced upon us. It was the giant, Tako.
"Well, my friends of the restaurant! The American who knows New York City so well! And the Bermudian! This is very much to my liking. You thought your jail would imprison me, did you not?"
He stood regarding us with his sardonic smile, while our captors surrounded us, searching our belts for other weapons. And he added, "I was garbed like you when we last met. Now you are garbed like me. How is that?"
They led us into the lighted area of the grove. "The American who knows New York City so well," Tako added. "And the Bermudian says he knows it also. It is what you would call an affair of luck, having you here."
He seemed highly pleased. He gazed at us smilingly. We stood silent while the men roughly stripped the broken wires and disks from us. They recognized the equipment. There was a jargon of argument in their strange guttural language. Then at Tako's command three of them started for the house.
Jane had cried out at sight of us. Her captor had ordered her back to her seat by the tree.
"So?" Tako commented. "You think silence is best? You are wise. I am glad you did not make us kill you just now. I am going to New York and you shall go with me; what you know of the city may be of help. We are through with Bermuda. There are not many girls here. But in the great United States I understand there are very many. You shall help us capture them."
Don began, "The girl over there----"
"Your sister? Your wife? Perhaps she knows something of New York and its girls also. We will keep her close with us. If you three choose to help me, you need have no fear of harm." He waved aside the men with imperious commands. "Come, we will join this girl of yours. She is very pretty, is she not? And like you--not cowardly. I have not been able to make her talk at all."
The dawn of this momentous night was at hand when, with the networks of wires and disks properly adjusted upon us, Tako took Jane, Don and me with him into the Fourth Dimension.
Strange transition! Strange and diabolical plot which now was unfolded to us! Strangely fantastic, weird journey from this Bermuda hilltop through the Unknown to the city of New York!