“I must find them they’re my responsibility!” Broke jumped up and looked around for some dry clothing.
“Reluctant as I am to say so,” I put in, “I must agree with Mr. McCafferty.
Looking for them offers little hope of success and could spell your death.” “You expect me to sit here in the warmth and leave those men out there to die?” Broke retorted.
I merely nodded. My throat suddenly felt quite dry. It was cruel to be condemned to helplessness.
Malcolm looked out of the window. “I think it’s clearing up,” he said. “Perhaps you should wait a little longer, Mr. Broke. There’s no point in risking your life as well.”
Within a quarter of an hour, the roar of the gale subsided, then died away completely. The last few snowflakes were falling almost vertically to the ground. Colin Broke was ready to leave. He had only about an hour’s daylight left. When I pointed this out, he took a flashlight from one of the boxes. “I’m coming with you,” I told him. I turned to Sheridan and McCafferty. “How about you? Young and Kinnock may be in such a bad way, we’ll have to carry them.” “Very well,” said Sheridan, “we’ll come too.”
Broke handed each of us a flashlight. Malcolm undertook to get everything ready so that the men, who would doubtless be suffering badly from hypothermia, could be attended to at once.
The snow had piled up against the buildings in big drifts. On the ground, it was less than a foot deep in most places, but the stones and potholes beneath the surface made it hard going.
According to Malcolm, the two scientists had set off for a cave at the foot of the mountain range, where they planned to gather soil and rock samples. The original crew of the station had concentrated their research on the same spot because the cave spared them the effort of driving a shaft into the mountainside.
We were halfway there when a figure came tottering toward us, alternately falling over and scrambling to its feet. From its size, it could only be Professor Kinnock.
We strove to put on speed, but the snow clung to our boots like clods of earth and condemned us to trudge laboriously along.
Kinnock had lost his cap. His curly brown hair was encrusted with ice crystals, his face mottled with red blotches. “They’re after me!” he yelled. “They’re just behind me!”
He spun around, drew back his foot, and fell over on his back in the snow. This time, however, he did not scramble up at once but rolled around on the ground, lashing out with his fists and panting as if fighting for his life with some invisible adversary.”Professor Kinnock!” I called. “All is well! We’ve found you!”
“No!” he cried, his usually deep bass voice rising to a high-pitched shriek.“He’s gone mad,” said McCafferty.
I bent over Kinnock and took hold of him by the shoulders.“Pull yourself together, man! You’re out of danger!”
“No! No! No!” he repeated and gave me such a violent push that I staggered backward.