Henri-Paul BAIZEAU
Bulletin des Amateurs d'Anticipation Ancienne
translated from the French by Stephen Trussel

France-éditions (n.d., ca.1925) 4 parts bound together in-12° 32 pp. each. Cover illustrated by Yrondy. (This small volume is part of the same series as The Flying Isle by Paul-Yves Sebillot, see Bulletin n° 12 Bis. The cover illustration is identical).

Titles of the 4 parts

  1. The Enchanted Violin.
  2. Subterranean Navigation.
  3. The War with the Foot-Holders.
  4. The Hunt of the Brontosaurus.

LES ROBINSONS DE L'ABIME

de Julien MAUVRAC

I.

A French scientist, Doctor Vernier, has the idea of establishing an underground sanatorium for his patients. To this end, accompanied by a young boy, Emile Joliot, called Mimile, he descends into an abyss of the Lozère, the Armand Sink.

A rival German, Otto Von Kopf, steals his plans and goes to a neighboring underground cave A small mischievous hunchback, Victor Guérin, called Totor, the brother of Cécile, one of Dr Vernier's patients, takes the stolen papers and brings them back to the doctor. He starts playing his violin to distract himself, when a terrifying explosion, the work of the infamous Von Kopf, separates them — the doctor, his two young companions, and Tenor, the donkey who accompanies them — from the rest of the world.

II.

Dr. Vernier travels the underground regions in search of an exit. He finds Von Kopf, himself a victim of the explosion. They discover a kind of very extensive flat country, with no apparent limits, covered by a moderately elevated ceiling, with a stream containing sparkling water. The donkey escapes to browse the fresh grass (sic). They find a hunting dog that they name Gévaudan. Mimile disappears. His mates notice on the ground the print of "a naked foot or a very large hand, nearly human, whose big toe is like a thumb..." a "Foot-holder", like a quadrumane [having all four feet adapted for use as hands, like a monkey].

The donkey Tenor comes back. Dr Vernier inflates an air boat and, with his fellows, fishes for fresh-water shrimp and blind and colorless fish. After having weathered a violent storm, they save a "Foot-holder" from a bear, "a living Néanderthal man." Von Kopf flees on the air boat with the albinos [?] to the Foot-holders.

Dr Vernier, Totor, Tenor and Gévaudan find themselves in a gigantic fern forest. The doctor explains to Totor that present science has the tendency to abandon the idea of a molten core of the earth. The center of the earth would be just a compact mass, volcanic eruptions due to some chemical reactions. They find oil and face an immense fire before which animals are fleeing, including a gigantic pachyderm, a mammoth... Then they suffer rain, snow and the avalanche of a glacier.

III.

Mimile reappears in the story. Taken by a tribe of Foot-holders, he had developed a great influence over them, and these consider him as their chief. But a rival tribe obeys Von Kopf. A battle begins. The layer of oil is accidentally ignited. Mimile escapes with the Foot-holder bear hunter on the air boat that Von Kopf had stolen. Caught in a whirlwind, Mimile is carried away in the devil's funnel.

The doctor and Totor, coming at a good moment, save the bear hunter. The electric battery dies out. But very quickly they find again a world with light, close to a fairy lake. This lake shelters some prehistoric animals, one of which, a 15-foot-tall, 30-foot-long iguanodon, kills the Foot-holder. The doctor and Totor arrive exhausted at the shore of an underground sea. On the luminous lake, they find the wreckage of an old ship with a pirate's skeleton close to his treasure. The ship drifts away, and they find themselves in water which is no longer phosphorescent.

IV.

Mimile is found, unable to speak or hear, by a Spanish smuggler, Pédro Tavarez, on the shore of an enchanted lake (variations of levels, unexplained) on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees in the half-deflated air boat. Professor Corloy of the Faculty of Science of Paris recognizes the expedition boat. Mimile recovers his speech and tell his adventure, then he joins a regiment of the French army in the center of Africa where Marcel Guérin, the elder brother of Totor and Cécile, is already serving. Several months later the two leave on a mission in the extreme north of Dahomey. They hear a tom-tom that speaks of a "big snake," a carnivore as thick as several hippos. They see it disappearing into a hole. Marcel and Mimiles are captured by "Negroes" and offered in human sacrifice to an idol. They are saved by the arrival of the big snake. They enter an underground cave that comes out on a natural trench leading to a glade of virgin forest. There, the saurian slaughters a family of lions, then pursues a small Negro who runs into a hole. Marcel and Mimile follow them and find the saurian gorged and sleepy, close to an underground lake.

Do they hear the air of Totor's flute (violin??)? The dog Gévaudan rejoins them with a note from Dr. Vernier that asks for matches and question -- "Have you met the brontosaurus?" They all find each other again, including the donkey Tenor and the young Negro. The doctor tells of their last adventures, the brontosaurus preventing their exit finally disappearing by penetrating deeply in the earth. They are free.

Marcel marries his fiancée. Totor will be soon be a violinist without equal. The Negro and his mother enter the service of M. and Mme. Guérin. Cécile marries the Doctor.

Henri-Paul BAIZEAU