This 1931 novelette begins with Justus Miles sitting on a park bench. He’s not had work for a while and he’s hungry. A gust of wind blows a newspaper by his feet. His eye catches what’s becoming rare these days during the Great Depression: an ad for employment.
“Wanted: Soldier of Fortune, young healthy; must have good credentials. Apply 222 Reuter Place between two and four.”
The employer, an odd-looking fellow in a wheelchair who goes by the name of Mr. Solino, warns the new recruits that their lives are not guaranteed. There’s some vague talk about a city and a country to be invaded, but beyond that no one says anything. In the meantime, those chosen for the mission have comfortable quarters and good food. They don’t complain.
One night, Mr. Solino has the men stand on a lonely spot along the Long Island coast. After the moon rises, flooding the water with its light, they notice him flash a light out over water. Another light answers. The waves heave and some great black thing, almost like a whale, approaches the beach.
A submarine! The men get to offload it then load themselves. Their destination, they’re now told, is under the ocean.The story taps into the old Atlantis legend, but gives it several twists. With the two main characters as mercenaries, this is an adventure story. Presumably, the intended audience is teenaged boys. Compared to the writing of many of the pulp stories of the time, the writing here is decent. Sadly, the accepted racism of the time worked its way into the story, however.
This novelette, first published in “Astounding Stories” in October 1931, is available as an e-book, free of charge, from Project Gutenberg. Author Henry George Weiss (1898-1946) used the pseudonym Francis Flagg.