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The Origin of Species

by Charles Darwin AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE PROGRESS OF OPINION ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES, PREVIOUSLY TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS WORK. I will here give a brief sketch of the progress ...

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A Modest Proposal

by Jonathan Swift It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female ...

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The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge

by Arthur Conan Doyle 1. The Singular Experience of Mr. John Scott Eccles   I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a bleak and windy day towards the end of March in the year 1892. ...

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The Immortals

by David Duncan I Dr. Clarence Peccary was an objective man. His increasing irritation was caused, he realized, by the fear that his conscience was going to intervene between him and the vast fortune that was definitely ...

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Andersen's Fairy Tales

by H. C. Andersen THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES Many years ago, there was an Emperor, who was so excessively fond of new clothes, that he spent all his money in dress. He did not trouble himself in ...

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D-99

by H. B. Fyfe ONE At the ninety-fifth floor, Westervelt left the public elevator for a private automatic one which he took four floors further. When he stepped out, the dark, lean youth faced an office entrance ...

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The Iliad

by Homer BOOK I The quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles—Achilles withdraws from the war, and sends his mother Thetis to ask Jove to help the Trojans—Scene between Jove and Juno on Olympus. Sing, O goddess, the anger of ...

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Survival Kit

by Frederik Pohl: I Mooney looked out of his window, and the sky was white. It was a sudden, bright, cold flare and it was gone again. It had no more features than a fog, at least not ...

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Japanese Fairy Tales

by Yei Theodora Ozaki MY LORD BAG OF RICE. Long, long ago there lived, in Japan a brave warrior known to all as Tawara Toda, or "My Lord Bag of Rice." His true name was Fujiwara Hidesato, ...

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The Cosmic Computer

by H. Beam Piper I Thirty minutes to Litchfield. Conn Maxwell, at the armor-glass front of the observation deck, watched the landscape rush out of the horizon and vanish beneath the ship, ten thousand feet down. He thought ...

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

by  L. Frank Baum Introduction Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies ...

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The Poison Belt

by Arthur Conan Doyle Chapter I THE BLURRING OF LINES It is imperative that now at once, while these stupendous events are still clear in my mind, I should set them down with that exactness of detail which ...

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The Mysterious Affair at Styles

by Agatha Christie   CHAPTER I. I GO TO STYLES The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided. Nevertheless, in view of the world-wide ...

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THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER

By Mark Twain PREFACE Most of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; one or two were experiences of my own, the rest those of boys who were schoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from ...

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The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

by Howard Pyle How Robin Hood Came to Be an Outlaw IN MERRY ENGLAND in the time of old, when good King Henry the Second ruled the land, there lived within the green glades of Sherwood Forest, ...

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The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

Author: Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 Subject: This is the original PG edition. Download full book

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The Tragedy of King Lear

by William Shakespeare Scene: - Britain. ACT I. Scene I. [King Lear's Palace.] Enter Kent, Gloucester, and Edmund. [Kent and Glouceste converse. Edmund stands back.] Kent. I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall. Glou. It ...

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Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

by John Cleland Audio book in MP3, Apple iTunes, Ogg Vorbis and other audio formats! Download full audio book

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Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte

by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne CHAPTER 1 1769-1783. Authentic date of Bonaparte's birth—His family ruined by the Jesuits—His taste for military amusements—Sham siege at the College of Brienne—The porter's wife and Napoleon—My intimacy with Bonaparte at college—His love for the ...

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The Man in the Iron Mask

by Alexandre Dumas Chapter I. The Prisoner. Since Aramis's singular transformation into a confessor of the order, Baisemeaux was no longer the same man. Up to that period, the place which Aramis had held in the worthy ...

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The Rat Race

by Jay Franklin

CHAPTER 1

When the bomb exploded, U.S.S. Alaska, was steaming westward, under complete radio silence, somewhere near the international date-line on the Great Circle course south of the Aleutian Islands.

It was either the second or the third of April, 1945, depending on whether the Alaska, the latest light carrier to be added to American naval forces in the Pacific, had passed the 180th meridian.

I was in the carrier, in fact in the magazine, when the blast occurred and I am the only person who can tell how and why the Alaska disappeared without a trace in the Arctic waters west of Adak. I had been assigned by Navy Public Relations to observe and report on Operation Octopus—the plan to blow up the Jap naval base at Paramushiro in Kuriles with the Navy’s recently developed thorium bomb.

My name, by the way, is Frank Jacklin, Lieutenant-Commander, U.S.N.R. I had been commissioned shortly after Pearl Harbor, as a result of my vigorous editorial crusade on the Hartford (Conn.) Courant to Aid America by Defending the Allies. I was a life-long Republican and a personal friend of Frank Knox, so I had no trouble with Navy Intelligence in getting a reserve commission in the summer of 1940. (I never told them that I had voted for Roosevelt twice, so I was never subjected to the usual double-check by which the Navy kept its officer-corps purged of subversive taints and doubtful loyalties.) So I had a first-rate assignment, by the usual combination of boot-licking and “yessing” which marks a good P.R.O.

It was on the first night in Jap waters, after we had cleared the radius of the Naval Air Station at Adak, that Professor Chalmis asked me to accompany him to the magazine. He said that his orders were to make effective disclosure of the mechanics of the thorium bomb as soon as we were clear of the Aleutians. Incidentally, he, I and Alaska’s commander, Captain Horatio McAllister, U.S.N., were the only people aboard who knew the real nature of Operation Octopus. The others had been alerted, via latrine rumor, that we were engaged in a sneak-raid on Hokkaido.

The thorium bomb, Chalmis told me, had been developed by the Navy, parallel to other hitherto unsuccessful experiments conducted by the Army with uranium. The thorium bomb utilized atomic energy, on a rather low and inefficient basis by scientific standards, but was yet sufficiently explosive to destroy a whole city. He proposed to show me the bomb itself, so that I could describe its physical appearance, and to brief me on the mechanics of its detonation, leaving to the Navy scientists at Washington a fuller report on the whole subject of atomic weapons. He had passes, signed by Captain McAllister, to admit us to the magazine and proposed, after supper, that we go to examine his gadget.

It was cold as professional charity on the flight-deck, with sleet driving in from the northwest as the icy wind from Siberia hit the moist air of the Japanese Current. There was a nasty cross-sea and the Alaska was wallowing and pounding as she drove towards Paramushiro at a steady 30 knots.

“You know, Jacklin,” said Chalmis, as the Marine sentry took our passes and admitted us to the magazine, “I don’t like this kind of thing.”

“You mean this war?” I asked, noticing irrelevantly the way the electric light gleamed on his bald head.

“I mean this thorium bomb,” he replied. “I had most to do with developing it and now in a couple of days one of these nice tanned naval aviators at the mess will take off with it and drop it on Paramushiro from an altitude of 30,000 feet. The timer is set to work at an altitude of 500 feet and then two or three thousand human beings will cease to exist.”

“The Japs aren’t human,” I observed, quoting the Navy.

Chalmis looked at me in a strange, staring way.

“Thank you, Commander,” he said. “You have settled my problem. I was in doubt as to whether to complete this operation in the name of scientific inquiry, but now I see I have no choice. See this!” he continued.

“This” was a spherical, finned object of aluminum about the size of a watermelon, resting on a gleaming chromium-steel cradle.

“If I take this ring, Jacklin,” Chalmis remarked, “and pull it out, the bomb will explode within five seconds or at 500 feet altitude whichever takes longer. The five seconds is to give the pilot a margin of safety in case of accidental release at low altitude. However, dropping it from 30,000 feet means that the five seconds elapse before the bomb reaches the level at which it automatically explodes.”

“You make me nervous, Professor,” I objected. “Can’t you explain without touching it?”

“If it exploded now, approximately twenty-four feet below the water-line,” Chalmis continued, “it would create an earthquake wave which could cause damage at Honolulu and would register on the seismograph at Fordham University.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” I said.

“So,” concluded Chalmis, “if the bomb were to go off now, no one could know what had happened to the Alaska and the Navy—as I know the Navy—would decide that thorium bombs were impractical, too dangerous to use. And so the human race might be spared a few more years of life.”

“Stop it!” I ordered, lunging forward and grabbing for his arm.

But it was too late. Chalmis gave a strong pull on the ring. It came free and a slight buzzing sound was heard above the whine of the turbines and the thud of the seas against Alaska’s bow.

“You—” I began. Then I started counting: “Three—four—fi—”….

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