The Baldwin Library
Ri 7 1B Flerida
The Victory_of the Flag, (P. 304,) Frontispiece.
FOR THE FLAG
PROV GAE FRENCH
MRS. CASHEL HOEY
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY
St. Sunstanâ€™s House
FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, E.C.
COUNT Dâ€™ARTIGAS 21
! CHAPTER III.
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION 5 : : : : ; 5 ego
THE SCHOONER â€œ EBBAâ€ 56
â€œ WHERE AM |?â€ 81
On DECK 5 = : 2 3 3 i i â€˜ A OT
Two Days aT SEA 3 : : 5 : i : : SAL
BACKcuP ; : : ; : : : : ; : 133
INSIDE ; â€˜ : : : : : : Â» 153
THE ADVICE OF SERK6 THE ENGINEER
â€œA DIEU VAT!â€
THE â€œSWORDâ€ IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG .
SOME Hours LATER
ONE AGAINST FIVE
ON BoarD THE â€˜ TONNANTâ€
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The victory of the flag .
The inventor with a craze
The keeper and his charge
A private view
Pavilion 17 5
The landing is effected .
On board the schooner Â£da
Lifting the buoy
The submerged cargo
Gaydon in prison
The man at the helm
Count dâ€™Artigas on his quarâ€˜er-deck
Signalling on board the Â£dda
Land in sight
_ Backcup 6 : Bain
The tug alongside
The hidden creek .
In the interior of the island
| The piratesâ€™ store-houses
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The â€œ hÃ©telâ€ of Count dâ€™ Artigas
Ker Karraje . 6 .
The inventor in a frenzy
A sperm whale in the lagoon
A hearer unseen
An explosion .
Casting news upon the waters
Under the lagoon .
Captain Spade on the alert
Cross-examination . â€” :
The look-out from the piratesâ€™ den
The squadron is sighted
Ex-patient and ex-keeper
The end is at hand
The inventorâ€™s preparation
For the flag
POR LHE FiAnG
CREAR TE Riis
A CARD was handed to the Principal of Healthful House
onacertain 15th of June, which bore simply the name,
without escutcheon or coronet :
Count adâ€™ Artigas.
Above this name, on a corner of the card, the following
address was written in pencil:
â€œOn board the schooner Â£dda, at anchor at Newburn,
The capital of North Carolinaâ€”one of the forty-four
states of the Union at that periodâ€”is the rather important
town of Raleigh, one hundred and fifty miles from the
ccast in the interior of the province. On account of its
central position that city had become the seat of the legis-
lature; for othersâ€”Wilmington, Charlotte, Fayetteville,
Edenton, Washington, Salisbury, Tarboro, Halifax, New-
burnâ€”equal or surpass it in commerce and manufactures
2 FOR THE FLAG
Newburn is situated at the farther end of the estuary of
the Neuse, which flows into Pamlico Sound, a vast salt-
water lake protected by a natural breakwater of islands
and islets along the Carolina coast.
The Principal of Healthful House would not have guessed
the reason of this civility had not the card been accom-
panied by a note in whtch the Count asked permission to
visit the establishment.
The stranger hoped that the Principal would be kind
enough to grant this favour, and he proposed to call during
the afternoon with Captain Spade, the commander of the
A desire to view the famous health resort, then so much
frequented by rich invalids in the United States was, of
course, natural on the part of a stranger. Others had
already visited it who could not boast so great a name as
Count dâ€™Artigas, and they had not been sparing of their
eulogies. The Principal gladly gave the desired authoriza-
tion, and replied that he should feel honoured by receiving
his noble visitor.
Healthful House, served by an excellent staff, and
assured of the co-operation of the leading physicians, was
a private institution. Independent of all control or super-
vision, save that of the State, it afforded the requisite
conditions of comfort and salubrity in an establishment
destined for the reception of wealthy patients.
It would be difficult to find a more agreeable situation
than that of Healthful House. The building, sheltered at
the back by a hill, was surrounded bya park of two hundred
HEALTHFUL HOUSE 3
acres, planted with timber of those magnificent species
which abound in that portion of North America which
lies in the same latitudes as the Canaries and Madeira.
At the lower edge of the park stretched the wide estuary
of the Neuse, perpetually refreshed by the breezes of
Pamlico Sound, and the ocean winds coming from afar.
At Healthful House, where the wealthy patients were
nursed under: excellent hygienic conditions, cures were
numerous. But although in general the establishment was
reserved for the treatment of chronic illness, the adminis-
tration did not refuse to admit patients afflicted with mental
disorders, when these were not of an incurable kind.
Now, just at that timeâ€”a circumstance likely to attract
attention to Healthful House, and perhaps the motive of
the visit of Count dâ€™Artigasâ€”a personage of great notoriety
had been detained there for eighteen months under special
This personage was a Frenchman named Thomas Roch,
aged forty years. That he was under the influence of a
mental malady could not be dcubted, but up to the present
the doctors had not pronounced him positively insane.
That he was wanting in common sense in the most simple
acts of life was only too certain. Still, his reason remained
clear, powerful, incontestable, when an appeal was made
to his geniusâ€”and who does not know that â€œgreat wits
to madness often are alliedâ€? It is true his affective
and sensorial. faculties were seriously disordered. When
these were called into action, they manifested themselves
in delirium and incoherence. Then the man was merely
4 FOR THE FLAG
an unreasoning being, bereft of that natural instinct which
is present even in the lower animalsâ€”even of self-preser-
vationâ€”and he had to be treated like a child. In Pavilion
No. 17, which he occupied in the park of Healthful House,
it was his keeperâ€™s duty to watch him day and night.
Ordinary madness, when it is not incurable, can only be
cured by moral means. Medicine and therapeutics are
impotent, and their inefficacy has long been recognized by
specialists. Were moral means applicable in the case of
Thomas Rech? This was doubtful, even with the peaceful
and healthy-surroundings of Healthful House. The symp-
tomsâ€”restlessness, varying moods, irritability, eccentricities
of character, melancholy, apathy, repugnance to either
amusement or serious occupation, were distinctly marked.
No doctor could be mistaken, no treatment promised to
be efficacious in either removing or reducing them.
It has been justly said that madness is an excess of
subjectivity, that is to say, a state in which the mind
devotes itself too much to its interior working, and not
enough to impressions from the outside. In Roch this
indifference was almost absolute. He lived only within
himself, a prey to a fixed idea whose obsession had brought
him to his present state. Would something happen; a
shock which should â€œexteriorizeâ€ himâ€”to employ a
sufficiently exact word? It was improbable, but not
Let it now be related under what circumstances Thomas
Roch had left France for the United States, and why the
Federal Government had deemed it prudent and necessary
HEALTHFUL HOUSE 7.
to confine him in this retreat, where every word that
escaped him unconsciously during his paroxysms was
noted with the utmost care.
Eighteen months previously the Minister of Marine at
Washington had received a request from Thomas Roch for
an audience on the subject of a communication which the
latter wished to make.
Although he was aware of the nature of the communica-
tion and what demands would accompany it, he did not
hesitate, and the audience was immediately granted.
In fact, Thomas Roch was so notorious a personage,
that the interests in his charge forbade the Minister to
hesitate to receive the applicant in order to learn the pro-
positions to be laid before him.
Thomas. Roch was an inventorâ€”an inventor of genius.
Important discoveries had alrcady brought his name before
the world. Thanks to him, problems until then merely
theoretic had received a practical application. His name
was known in science, he occupied a prominent place in
the learned world, and we shall see after what vexations,
what mortifications, what insults even, lavished upon him
by the shallow jesters of the press, he had been driven
into the fit of insanity that led to his detentiÂ¢n at Healthful
His latest invention in engines of war was called the
Roch Fulgurator. This apparatus, if he were to be believed;
was so much superior to all others that the State which
should: secure it would be absolutely sovereign over sea
8 FOR THE FLAG
Everyone knows that inventors have to contend with
formidable difficultics, especially when they endeavour to
procure the adoption of their devices by ministerial com-
missions. Many well-known examples of this fact exist,
but it is useless to dwell on them, for such transactions
present difficulties inexplicable to the outsider. However,
in the case of Thomas Roch, it may be admitted that, like
those of the majority of his predecessors, his demands
were So excessive, an 1 he rated his new engine at so exor-
bitant a value, that it was almost impossible to treat with
This arose, it must be observed, from his having been
audaciously imposed upon in the matter of preceding
inventions, which had been adopted with most valuable
results. His temper had been soured, and his mind em-
bi.tered, by his failure to obtain the profit legitimately duc
to him; he became distrustful, determined to treat only on
his own terms, however unacceptable to other parties, and
in every case he demanded so considerable a sum of money,
even previous to any tests, that his requirements seemcd
In the first instance Roch, as a Frenchman, offered the
Fulgurator to France. He. informed the commission
nominated to receive his communication of its purpose.
It was a sort of auto-propulsive engine of quite special
fabrication, charged with an explosive composed of new
substances, which produced its effect only under the action
of a new deflagrator, also of his own invention.
When this engine, however it might have been pro-
HEALTHFUL HOUSE Ã© If
pelled, exploded, not by striking the object aimed at, but
at a distance of some hundreds of yards, its action on the
atmospheric strata was so great that every structure, either
detached fortress or man.of-war, within a space of ten
thousand square yards, must be annihilated. The principle
was the same as that of the ball projected by the Zaluski
pneumatic cannon, which had been already tested at that
period, but with results multiplied at least a hundred times.
If the invention of M. Roch really possessed this power,
then superiority, either offensive or defensive, was secured
to his country. Yet might not the inventor have ex-
aggerated, even though he had tested it against other
machines of well-established credit? Only experiments
could demonstrate it, and Thomas Roch refused to consent
to such trials until after payment of the millions at which
he valued his Fulgurator.
It is certain that his mind had already lost its balance.
He had no longer entire possession of his brain power, but
was on the path which would gradually lead to madness.
No government could condescend to treat with him under
the conditions he imposed.
The French commission had to break off all negotia-
tions, and the newspapers, even those of the Radical
opposition, were obliged to admit the difficulty of pro-
ceeding with the matter. The proposals of Thomas Roch
were rejected, and without any fear that another State
would consent to accept them.
With that excess of subjectivity which went on increasing
in the shaken mind of the inventor, it is not surprising
I2 FOR THE FLAG
that the chord of patriotism, becoming unstrung by degrees,
soon ceased to vibrate. For the honour of human nature,
it must be repeated that by this time he was no longer
accountable. His mind was inert, except on the subject
of his invention; in that one particular it retained its power.
But in all that concerned the most ordinary details of
existence, his mental collapse became more marked daily,
and deprived him of complete responsibility for his actions.
His offer, then, was declined. Perhaps it would have been
better to prevent him from taking his invention elsewhere.
This was not done, however, which was a mistake.
The inevitable happened. Under his increasing irrita-
bility, the sense of patriotism which is the essence of the
citizenâ€”who belongs to his country before belonging to
himselfâ€”became numbed in the mind of the disappointed
inventor. He turned his thoughts to other nations; he
crossed the frontier, he forgot the never-to-be-forgotten
past, and he offered the Roch Fulgurator to Germany.
There, after learning the inventorâ€™s exorbitant demands,
the Government refused to receive his proposal. More-
over, a new ballistic engine had just been tested in the
war, and the authorities thought they might dispense with
the French invention.
Then the Frenchmanâ€™s rage increased to hateâ€”an in-
stinctive hatred against mankindâ€”specially after his
approaches to the Admiral'y of Great Britain had failed.
The English keing a practical people, the Admiralty did
not repulse him all at onceâ€”they dallied, temporized, and
circumvented him. Roch would listen to nothing. His
The inventor with a craze,
HEALTHFUL HOUSE 15
secret was worth millions; those millions he would have,
or no one should obtain his secret. Finally the Admiralty
gave him up.
It was under these circumstances, his mental state
growing daily worse, that he made a last attempt with
Americaâ€”about eighteen months before the opening of
this story. :
The Americans, being even more practical than the
English, did not haggle about the Roch Fulgurator, on
which they placed an exceptional value, because of the
French chemistâ€™s reputation.
They rightly looked upon him as a man of genius, and
took measures which were justified by his mental condition,
with the intention of making an equitable settlement with
As Thomas Roch gave proofs beyond dispute of mental
disturbance, the administration, in the interest even of his
invention, considered it expedient to place him under
As it has already been said, he was not placed in a
lunatic asylum. Healthful House offered every guarantee
for the treatment of his malady. But although he had
received the most assiduous care, the object had not
hitherto been attained. However irrational he was in all
elseâ€”this point must be insisted upon once moreâ€”the
inventor was completely himself when he was set going on
the topic of his discoveries. He became animated, he
spoke with the decision of a man sure of himself, and with
an authority which impressed his hearers. He eloquently
16 FOR THE FLAG
described the marvellous qualities of his Fulgurator, and
the truly extraordinary effects which would result from it.
But, upon the nature of the explosive, and of the deflag-
rator, the elements that composed it and their fabrication,
and the manipulation it required, he maintained invincible
reserve. Once or twice at the height of a paroxysm it
was thought that the secret of his invention was about to
escape him, and every precaution was taken. .. . All was
in vain; though Thomas Roch no longer possessed the
instinct of self-preservation, he took good care to preserve
Pavilion 17, in the park of Healthful House, stood in a
garden surrounded by quickset hedges, where the patient
might take exercise under the supervision of his keeper.
This attendant lived in the same pavilion with him, slept
in the same room, watched him night and day, and never
left him for an hour. He watched his least words during
the ravings which generally occurred in the intermediary
state between waking and sleeping, and he even listened to
his muttering in his dreams.
The manâ€™s name was Gaydon. Shortly after the inven-
torâ€™s sequestration, having learned that an attendant who
spoke French was wanted, he had presented himself at
Healthful House and was accepted in the capacity of
keeper to the new patient.
In reality the so-called Gaydon was a French engineer,
named Simon Hart, who had been for several years in the
employ of a firm of manufacturing chemists in New Jersey.
He was forty years old, his forehead was large and marked
HEALTHFUL HOUSE I7
with the straight line of the observer ; his resolute bearing
denoted energy and tenacity combined.
Simon Hart was well versed in the various questions
connected with the perfecting of modern armament, and
those inventions which might affect its power. He knew
thoroughly all that had been done in the matter of
explosivesâ€”over eleven hundred existed at that timeâ€”and
he was essentially the man to appreciate Thomas Roch.
Believing in the power of the Fulgurator, he was
convinced that Thomas Roch was in possession of an
engine capable of changing the conditions of war, either
offensive or defensive, on land andonsea. Having heard
that the man of science had been respected by the malady
which had invaded him on all other sides, that in the partly
deranged brain still burned a light, a flame, the flame
of genius, Hart bethought him that if the secret were to
escape Roch ina moment of frenzy, his invention might
be used for the benefit of a foreign power. Thereupon he
resolved to become the inventors keeper, by passing
himself off as an American who spoke the French tongue
fluently. Under pretext of a voyage to Europe he resigned
his post, and changed his name. Circumstances were in
his favour, the proposal he made to the Principal was
accepted, and for fifteen months he had fulfilled all the
duties of keeper to Thomas Roch, at Healthful House.
Such resolution denoted rare unselfishness and noble
patriotism, for the service to be undertaken necessitated
work of a kind repulsive to a man of Simon Hartâ€™s class
and education. Butâ€”this must not be forgottenâ€”the
18 FOR THE FLAG
engineer did not intend to despoil his charge. If indeed
his secret escaped him, Thomas Roch should have all the
gain when he recovered his reason.
Thus did Simon Hart, or rather Gaydon, live for
fifteen months with the lunatic, observing, watching, even
questioning, without gaining any information. The more
he heard the inventor talk of his discovery, the more was
he convinced of its extraordinary importance, and he
dreaded above all things that the partial derangement of
the faculties of his charge might develop into complete
insanity, or that.a fatal crisis might carry away his secret
with his life.
Such was Simon Hartâ€™s situation, such was the mission to
which he had sacrificed himself in the interest of his country,
However, the patientâ€™s physical health did not suffer,
thanks to his vigorous constitution. The nervous vitality
of his temperament enabled him to resist all these de-
structive causes. Of medium height, with a massive head,
a well-developed forehead, well-shaped skull, grey hair,
eyes haggard at times, but bright, fixed, impcrious when
his dominant thought flashed from them, a thick moustache
under a nose with readily-heaving nostrils,a mouth with
tight lips as though closed upon a secret, a thoughful
countenance, the attitude of a man who had striven long,
and was determined still to striveâ€”such was the inventor,
Thomas Roch, confined in one of the buildings of Healthful
House, not conscious perhaps of this sequestration, and in
the charge of Simon Hart the engineer, known as Gaydon
The keeper and his charge,
Wuno was this Count dâ€™Artigas? A Spaniard, as his
name seemed to indicate. Yet the stern of the schooner
bore in letters of gold the name Â£Ã©Ã©a, and that was pure
Norwegian. Had he been asked the name of the EÃ©daâ€™s
captain, he would have answered, â€œSpade,â€ and Effondat
the boatswain, and Selim the cookâ€”all singularly dis-
similar names, which suggested various nationalities.
It would be difficult to deduce any plausible theory from
the appearance of Count dâ€™Artigas. While the colour of
his skin, his very black hair, and the grace of his movements,
might proclaim a Spanish origin, his general appearance
offered none of the racial characteristics of the natives of
the Iberian peninsula. â€”
He was of more than medium height, very strongly
built, and at most forty years of age. With his calm
and haughty bearing he resembled a Hindoo prince in
whom was blended the blood of the superb Malayan types.
If his were not a cold complexion, the same could not be
said of his imperious gesture and abrupt speech. The
language which he and his crew spoke was one of those
dialects common in-the islands of the Indian Ocean and
22 FOR THE FLAG
the surrounding seas. Yet when his voyages landed him
on the shores of the old or the new world, he expressed
himself with remarkable ease in English, betraying his
foreign birth by a slight accent only.
What had been Count dâ€™Artigasâ€™ past, the divers inci-
dents in a most mysterious existence? What was his
present, from what source did he draw his fortune ?â€”
evidently considerable, since it permitted him to live like
a gentleman of fine tastes and fastidious habits. Where
was his home; at least, what was the schooncrâ€™s port of
destination ? No one could say, and no one dared inter-
rogate him on this point, so reticent was he. He did not
look like a man who would give himself away in an
interviewâ€”even for the benefit of American reporters.
All that was known of him was simply what was said
in the newspapers when the presence of the Edda was
armounced in some port, specially in the ports on the east
coast of the United States. There, in fact, the schooner
came at almost fixed periods to take in all sorts of supplies
for a long voyage. Not only did she revictual in pro-
visions, flour, biscuits, preserves, salt meat and fresh, live
sheep and oxen, wines, beers, and alcoholic liquors, but
also in clothing, tools, luxuries, and necessaries, all paid
for at a high rate, either in dollars, or guineas, or other
coinage of various countries.
Hence, although little or nothing was known of the
Countâ€™s private life, he himself was well known in the
various ports of the American coast from the peninsula of
Tlorida to New England.
COUNT Dâ€™ARTIGAS 220k
It was not therefore surprising that the Priacipal of
Healthful House should feel himself honoured by the
This was the first time the schooner Â£4da had put into
the port of Newburn; and it could be only the ownerâ€™s
whim which led him to the mouth of the Neuse. What
had brought Count dâ€™Artigastothis place? To revictual ?
No; for Pamlico Sound could not offer him the resources
he would find in other ports such as Boston, New York,
Dover, Savannah, Wilmington in North Carolina, and
Charleston in South Carolina. In the estuary of the Neuse,
in the insignificant market of Newburn, what merchan-
dise could the Count dâ€™Artigas get in exchange for his
piastres and his bank-notes? This â€œchief-placeâ€ of the
County of Craven did not contain more than from five to
six thousand inhabitants. Trade meant merely the ex-
portation of grain, pigs, furniture, and naval stores. Besides,
some weeks before, during a stay of ten days at Charleston,
the schooner had taken in a complete cargo for a destina-
tion which, as usual, was unknown.
Had this enigmatic individual, then, come for the sole
object of visiting Healthful House? Perhaps there was
nothing very surprising in this, since the establishment
enjoyed a very real and very just celebrity.
It might also be that the Count had a fancy for meeting
Thomas Roch. The wide-spread fame of the French
inventor would certainly justify his curiosity ; for was not
Roch a mad genius, whose inventions promised to
revolutionize the methods of modern military art !
FOR THE FLAG
In the afternoon, as he had arranged by letter, Count
dâ€™Artigas presented himself at Healthful House, accom-
panied by Captain Spade, commander of the Edda.
In accordance with the orders given, they were instantly
admitted, and conducted to the presence of the Principal.
The latter gave the Count an effusive welcome, placed
himself at their serviceâ€”for he would relegate to no inferior
the honour of being their cicerone, and Count dâ€™Artigas
accepted the kind offer gratefully. They began by visiting
the general sitting-rooms and the private apartments.
The Principal dwelt upon the care bestowed on the sufferers
â€”far greater, if he were to be believed, than they could
have received in theirown homes; truly exceptional treat-
ment, he repeated, and its results had gained weil-merited
success for Healthful House.
Count dâ€™Artigas listened in his usual phlegmatic way,
and appeared interested in the Principalâ€™s inexhaustible
loquacity, probably the better to disguise the real object of
his visit. However, after an hour thus spent, he ventured
â€œ Have you not a patient who has been greatly discussed
of lateâ€”who has attracted the attention of the public to
â€œT think you are alluding to Thomas Roch, Count,â€
said the Principal.
â€œVes; the Frenchmanâ€”the inventor whose mind seems
to be unhinged.â€
â€œVery much so, sir; and perhaps it is just as well it
should be so. To my mind, mankind can gain nothing by
A private view.
COUNT Dâ€™ARTIGAS 27
those inventions which increase the means of destruction
which are too numerous already.â€
â€œThat is well said,â€ remarked the Count, â€œand I agree
with you. True progress does not lie in that direction,
and I look upon all such efforts as malevolent. But has
this man entirely lost the use of his mental powers ?â€
â€œEntirely? No, Count, only as far as the things of
ordinary life are concerned. In regard to these he has
neither understanding nor responsibility. Yet his in-
ventive genius has remained intact, it has survived the
mental collapse, and if his absurd demands had been
admitted, I have no doubt he would have produced a new
engine of warâ€”of which there is not the least need.â€
â€œCertainly not, certainly not,â€ repeated the Count..
And Captain Spade looked approval.
â€œYou may judge for yourself, sir. Here we are at the
pavilion where M. Roch lives. Though his detention is
necessary for the safety of the public, he none the less
receives all the attentions due to him, and the care neces-
sary to his condition. Besides, he is out of reach of those
who might wish toâ€”â€
The Principal finished his sentence by nodding his head
significantly. This brought an imperceptible smile to the
lips of his guest.
â€œ But,â€ the Count asked, â€˜â€˜is M. Roch never alone?â€
â€œNever, sir. He has a keeper, in whom we have
complete confidence, in constant attendance. In case
he should by some means or other let fall any suggestion
relating to his discovery, his words would. be immediately
28 FOR THE FLAG
taken down, and it will be seen what use shall be made
of themin yy
At that moment Count dâ€™Artigas glanced quickly at
Captain Spade, who answered by a gesture which seemed
to say, â€œ I understand.â€
Anyone who had watched the said Captain Spade
during the visit would have remarked that he examined
with special minuteness that portion of the park surround-
ing Pavilion 17, and the various openings that led to it
â€”probably carrying out a plan previously arranged. The
garden of the pavilion was bounded by the outer wall of
the property. Outside, the wall enclosed the base of the
hill whose sides sloped gently down to the right bank of
The building consisted of a ground floor with a terrace
after the Italian style. It contained two rooms and a
hall, with windows secured by iron bars. Beautiful
trees, then in all their summer luxuriance of foliage, sur-
rounded the house on all sides. There were lovely green,
velvety lawns, dotted all over with shrubs of various kinds,
and richly-tinted flowers in full bloom. The whole space
covered about half an acre, and was rÃ©served to the ex-
clusive use of Thomas Roch, who was free to come and
go about the garden under the eyes of his keeper.
When Count dâ€™Artigas, Captain Spade, and the Principal
reached this enclosure, they caught sight of Gaydon, the
keeper, at the door of the pavilion.
The Count instantly fixed his cyes on the attendant,
whom he appeared to examine with special interest un-
COUNT Dâ€™ARTIGAS 29 \
remarked by the Principal. This was not, however, the
first time that strangers had come to visit the occupant of
Pavilion 17, for the French inventor was justly considered
the most interesting inmate of Healthful House. Never-
theless Gaydonâ€™s attention was attracted by the singular
appearance of these two, whose nationality he could not
ascertain. Although Count dâ€™ Artigasâ€™ name was not
unknown to him, he had never had the opportunity of
meeting that rich gentleman during his visits to the eastern
ports, and he was not aware that the schooner Edda was
at that moment anchored off the bank at the boundary
of Healthful House.
â€œGaydon,â€ said the director, â€œwhere is M. Roch?â€
â€œ There,â€ said the keeper, pointing to a man who was
walking meditatively under the trees behind the pavilion.
â€œCount dâ€™Artigas has received permission to visit
Healthful House, and he did not wish to leave without
having seen our patient who has been so much talked of
â€œAnd he would have been still more talked of if the
Federal Government had not taken the precaution of
shutting him up in this establishment.â€
â€œCertainly, Principal. It is far better for the repose of
the world that the secret of this invention should be buried
Gaydon looked at the Count, but did not say a single
word, and, preceding the two visitors, he led the way to
the group of trees at the end of the enclosure.
30 ' FOR THE FLAG
A few steps brought the strangers into the presence of
The afflicted man had not seen them approach, and
when they were within a short distinct of him he was
evidently not aware of their presence.
In the meantime Captain Spade, without arousing
any suspicion, was carcfully examining the grounds
and the position occupied by Pavilion 17 at the
lowcr end of the park of MHealthful House. As
he followed the sloping paths he easily distinguished
the top of a mast which rose above the outside wall.
A momentary glance sufficed to enable him to recog-
nize it as belonging to the Â£642, and to verify that
the wall on this side ran along the right bank of the
Motionless and mute, Count dâ€™Artigas watched the
French â€˜inventor. This man was vigorous still; eighteen
monthsâ€™ incarceration had done no injury to his health.
But his strange attitudes, his incoherent gestures, his
haggard eyes, his indifference to everything happening
about him, clearly denoted a complete state of abstraction
and derangement of mind.
Thomas Roch had just sat down on a seat,:and with
the end of a cane which he held in his hand he was draw-
ing the outline of a fortification on the path. Then,
falling on his knees, he made little mounds of sand,
evidently to represent bastions. That done, he broke off
some leaves from a bush and planted them on the top of
the mounds Jike so many tiny flags. He did all this quite
COUNT Dâ€™ARTIGAS 33
seriously and without paying the least attention to the on-
It was childâ€™s play, but a child would not have played
with such undisturbed gravity.
â€œTs he quite mad, then?â€ the Count asked, and in spite
of his usual imperturbability he appeared to feel some.
â€œT warned you, sir, that nothing coule be got out of
him,â€ the Principal replied.
â€œWill he not take any notice of us?â€
â€œTt will he difficult to make him.â€ And then turn-
ing towards the attendant, the Principal said, â€œSpeak
to him, Gaydon; perhaps your voice will induce him
â€œ He is sure to answer me,â€ said Gaydon.
Then touching his charge on the shoulder, he pro-
nounced his name in a low tone. :
The afflicted man raised his head, and of all those present
he saw no one but his keeper, although Count dâ€™Artigas,
Captain Spade, who had just rejoined him, and the
Principal, stood round him in a circle.
â€œM. Roch,â€™ Gaydon said, speaking in English,
â€œHere are some visitors who wish to see you.
They are interested in your health .. . in your
This last word caught the inventorâ€™s attention.
_ â€œMy work?â€ he rejoined in the same language, which
he spoke fluently.
Then taking a pebble between his finger and thumb, like
34 FOR THE FLAG
a marble in a small boyâ€™s fingers, he aimed it at one of the
sand mounds, which it brought down.
He shouted with delight.
â€œDown! Itisdown! My explosive has destroyed the
whole thing with one blow.â€
Roch rose with the light of triumph in his eyes.
â€œVou sec,â€ said the Principal, addressing Count dâ€™Artigas,
â€œthe idea of his invention never leaves him.â€
â€œAnd it will die with him,â€ said the keeper em-
â€œCould you not induce him, Gaydon, to talk of his
invention, of his explosive Fulgurator, as he called it?â€
â€œ Tf you desire me to do so, sir.â€
â€œT do, for I think it will interest Count dâ€™Artigas.â€
â€œUndoubtedly,â€ replied the Count, and his features
kept the secret of his thoughts.
â€œ There is the risk of bringing on a paroxysm,â€ observed
the attendant. :
â€œYou may stop the conversation when you think fit.
Say to M. Roch that a stranger wishes to treat with him
for the purchase of his Fulgurator.â€
â€œBut are you not afraid that his secret may escape
him ?â€ interrupted Count dâ€™Artigas.
The words were said with such vivacity that Gaydon
could not restrain a glance of distrust, which had no effect
upon the impenetrable visitor.
â€œThere is nothing to fear,â€ he answered, â€œand no pro-
mise will tear his secret from M. Roch, so long as the
millions he demands are not in his possession.â€
COUNT Dâ€™ARTIGAS 35Â°
â€˜T havenâ€™t the money abcut me,â€ was the Countâ€™s calm
Gaydon returned to his patient, and again he touched
him on the shoulder.
-â€œM. Roch,â€ he said, â€œhere are some strangers who pro-
pose to purchase your discovery.â€
Thomas Roch drew himself up.
â€œMy discovery,â€ he cried, â€œ my explosive, The Roch
His increasing excitement indicated the imminence of a
paroxysm of the kind which Gaydon had described, and
which was always caused by questions of this nature.
â€œHow much will you give me for it? How much?â€
repeated the Frenchman.
There was no difficulty in promising him a sum, however
â€œFlow much? How much?â€ he cried again.
â€œTen million dollars,â€™ Gaydon replied.
â€œTen millions!â€ repeated Roch. â€œTen millions for a
Fulgurator which is ten million times superior to any other
in existence! Ten millions for an auto-propulsive pro-
jectile which can, in exploding, extend its destructive
power over thousands of square yards! Ten millionsâ€”
the only deflagrator capable of causing such an explosion !
All the riches of the world are not sufficient to pay for the
secret of my engine, and rather than sell it at that price I
would bite out my tongue with my teeth! Ten millions,
when it is worth a milliard |â€”a milliard ! a milliard!â€
Thomas Roch was evidently a man with whom it was
36 FOR THE FLAG
impossible to deal ; one in whose mind no sense of pro-
portion any longer existed ; and even had Gaydon offered
him ten thousand millions the madman would have
Count dâ€™Artigas and Captain Spade had watched him
closely from the beginning of this outburst ; the Count
still phlegmatic, though with lowering looks; the Captain
shaking his head to express; â€œ Decidedly there is nothing
to be done with this unfortunate person.â€
Roch finally fled, and as he ran across the garden he
cried in a voice choked with rage,â€”
â€œ Thousands of millions! thousands of millions!â€
Gaydon then turned to the Principal, and said curtly :
â€œI warned you!â€
He set offin pursuit of his charge, and having joined
him he took him by the arm without much resistance, and
led him into the pavilion, locking the door.
Count dâ€™Artigas remained alone with the Principal, while
Captain Spade for the last time traversed the garden inside
â€œâ€˜T exaggerated nothing, Count,â€ declared the Principal.
â€œTt is undeniable that M. Rochâ€™s malady is increasing
daily, and in my opinion it will develop into incurable
insanity. Ifall the money he demands were given to him,
nothing could be gained by it.â€
â€œThat is probable,â€ replied Count dâ€™Artigas ; â€œand yet,
if his demands amount to an absurdity, he has none the
less invented a machine whose power is, so to speak,
COUNT Dâ€™ARTIGAS 37
â€œThat is the opinion, sir, of persons competent to judge ;
but what he has discovered will soon disappear with him
in one of these paroxysms, which are becoming more
intense and more frequent. Soon even the motive power
of interest, the only one that seems to have survived in his
mind, will disappear.â€ ,
â€œPerhaps there will remain the motive of hate!â€
murmured the Count as Captain Spade joined him before
the chief entrance.
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION.
HALF an hour later Count dâ€™Artigas and Captain Spade
were walking along the road, bordered with venerable
beeches, that separates the right bank of the Neuse from
the establishment of Healthful House. They had both
taken leave of the Principal, the latter declaring himself
much honoured by their visit, and they thanking him for
his kind reception. A hundred dollars destined for the
staff testified to the Countâ€™s generosity. He was a
foreigner of the greatest distinction â€”who could doubt it,
if distinction is to be measured by generosity !
Leaving Healthful House by the iron gates, halfway up
the hill, the Count and the Captain walked round the outer
wall, whose height precluded any attempts to scale it.
The former was pensive, and according to custom his
companion waited until he was addressed.
Count dâ€™Artigas did not break the silence until the
moment when, pausing on the road, he was in a position
to measure with his eye the height of the wall in front of
â€œYou had time,â€ he said, â€œto study the premises ? â€
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION 39
â€œYes, M. le Comte,â€ replied the Captain, accentuating
the title which he gave to the stranger.
â€œNothing has escaped you ?â€
â€œNothing that is useful to know. On account of its
position behind this wall the pavilion is easy to reach, and
if you persist in your projectâ€”â€
â€œT persist, Spade.â€
â€œ Notwithstanding his mental state ?â€
â€œ Notwithstanding that state ; and if we succeed in carry-
ing him offâ€”â€
â€œ That is my affair. When night comes I undertake to
get into the park of Healthful House and up to Pavilion
17 without being seen by anyone.â€
â€œ By the iron gates?â€.
â€œNo, from this side.â€
â€œ But the wall is on this side, and after having got over
it how will you clear it again with Roch? If the lunatic
shouts, if he offers any resistance, if his keeper raises the
â€œDonâ€™t let that disturb you. We have only to go in and
come out by that door.â€
Captain Spade pointed to a narrow door a few steps off,
contrived in the wall for the use of the people of the house
when their work brought them to the water's side.
â€œ By that we shall get into the park. We shall not want
a ladder,â€ rejoined the Captain. :
â€˜â€œâ€˜ But that door is closed.â€
â€œTt will be opened.â€
â€œ But are there no bolts on the inside ?â€
40 FOR THE FLAG
â€œT drew them back during my walk behind the trees
at the foot of the garden, without being observed by the
Count dâ€™Artigas went ip to the door and said, â€œIt is
â€œ Here is the key,â€ replied his companion, and he pre-
sented the key which he had taken out of the door after he
â€˜had freed the bolts from their staple.
â€˜â€œ You have done well, Spade,â€ said the Count. â€œ Pro-
bably the adventure will not present many difficulties.
Let us get back to the schooner. About eight o'clock,
when it becomes dark, one of the boats will land you with
â€œVes, five men. They will be enough in case the
keeper is troublesome and we may have to get rid of
â€œGet rid of himâ€”â€ the Count replied. â€œVery well, if
that is absolutely necessaryâ€”but it would be bettcr to
secure this Gaydon and take him on board the dda.
Who knows whether he has not already got at a pait
of the secret.â€
â€œ That is true.â€
sf And then, Roch is accustomed to him; and I do not
intend anything to be changed about him.â€
This reply, Count dâ€™Artigas accompanied with a smile
so significant that the Captain could make no mistake
about the part to be played by the Healthful House
The plan of this double abduction was then decided
The landing is effected.
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION 43
upon, and it appeared to have every chance of success, un-
less, during the two hours of daylight that still remained,
some one perceived that the key was missing from the
door of the park, and that the bolts were drawn. Captain
Spade and his men were certain of obtaining access to the
It must be observed besides, that, with the exception of
M. Roch, who was under special supervision, the other
residents in the establishment were subject to no measures
of that kind. They occupied pavilions or rooms in the
principal building situated in the upper part of the park.
All this led the conspirators to think that Thomas Roch
and his keeper, Gaydon, being separately surprised in
Pavilion 17, and unable to offer any serious resistance, or
even to call for help, would be easily made victims of this
double abduction which Captain Spade was about to
attempt for the benefit of Count dâ€™Artigas.
The foreigner and his companion then directed their
steps towards a little bay where one of the Eddaâ€™s boats
awaited them.. The schooner was moored two cable-
lengths away, with its sails enveloped in their yellow
covers, and its yards topped according to the custom on
board pleasure-yachts. No flag flew above the taffrail.
Only at the masthead there appeared a small red
pennant which the east breeze, now fallen, scarcely
The Count and the Captain entered the boat. In a few
moments four oars had pulled them to the schooner, and
they had mounted to the deck by the side-ladder.
44 FOR THE FLAG
Count dâ€™Artigas hastened aft to his cabin while Captain
Spade went forward to give his last orders.
As he drew near the forecastle he leant over the star-
board side and his eye sought an object floating at some
It was a small buoy.
The night was falling slowly. On the left bank of the
winding river the uncertain outline of Newburn was
beginning to fade. The houses looked black against the
horizon still lighted by a ray that edged the clouds in
the west. Onthe other side the sky was dark with thick
masses of vapour. ' But it did not seem like ale for these
masses were hanging high i in the sky.
Towards seven oâ€™clock the first lights of Newburn
clittered in the windows of the upper floors of the houses,
while the glimmer from the ground floors was reflected in long
ziezags that scarcely wavered on the waters, for the wind.
had fallen with the night. The fishing-boats were coming
in slcwly to gain the coves of the harbour, some striving to
catch a last breath in their sails, others pulled by oars,
whose strokes, clear and rhythmic, were heard from afar.
Two steamers passed, emitting a stream of sparks from
their double funnels crowned with black smoke, and beat-
ing the water with their powerful paddles.
At eight oâ€™clock the Count reappeared on deck, accom-
panied by a man about fifty years of age, to whom he
â€œTt is time, Serko.â€
â€œTl go and tell Spade,â€ replied Serko.
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION 45
The Captain joined them.
â€œGet ready to start,â€ said his employer.
â€œ We are ready.â€
â€œBe sure that no one is awakened at Healthful House,
and let none suspect that Thomas Roch and his keeper
have been brought on board the 4dda.â€
â€œThey would not be feund, that is more, if they were
looked for,â€™ SerkÃ© added, shrugging his shoulders, and
â€œ Anyway, it would be better not to arouse suspicion,â€
replied Count dâ€™Artigas.
The boat was lowered. Captain Spade and five men
took their places. Four of them laid hold of the oars,
The fifth, Effrondat, the boatswain, who was to steer the
boat, took his place at the tiller near the Captain.
â€œGood luck, Spade,â€ Serko cried, smiling, â€˜â€˜and be as
noiseless as a lover carrying off his lady.â€
â€œâ€œYesâ€”unless this Gaydonâ€”â€
â€˜We must have Roch and Gaydon,â€ said Dâ€™Artigas,
â€œJT understand,â€ answered the Captain.
The boat got clear, and the sailors followed it with their
eyes until it was lost in the darkness.
It isto be remarked that while awaiting its return the
Ebba made no preparations for departure. Undoubtedly
she had no intention of quitting her moorings after the
abduction. And in truth, how could she gain the open
sea? There was not a breath of wind, and in half an
hour the tide would be felt for several miles up the
46 FOR THE FLAG
Moored at two cables-length from the steep bank, the
ba could easily have put in closer, and still be in fifteen
or twenty feet of water; and this would have facilitated
the embarkation when the boat. would come alongside.
But if she had not effected that manceuvre, it was because
the Count had his reasons for not giving the order.
The distance was covered in a few. moments, the boat
having passed without being seen. Â©
The shore was deserted, solitary also was the road out-
side the beeches of Healthful House park. Â©
The grappling irons being firmly fixed on the bank,
Captain Spade and his four men landed, leaving the boat-
swain behind, and disappeared under the dark canopy of
the trees. ;
When they reached the wall of the park the Captain
stopped, and his men drew up on each side of the door.
After the precautions he had taken he would have only to
put the key in the lock and push the door, provided
that none of the servants of the establishment, seeing it
not locked as usual, had bolted it on the inside.
In that case the abduction would have been difficult,
even admitting the possibility of scaling the wall.
In the first place the Captain put his ear to the key-
There was no noise of footsteps in the grounds, no one
going in or out of Pavilion 17. Nota leaf stirred on the
branches of the beeches that screened the road. All
around was the silence of the open country on a breezeless
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION 47
Spade drew the key from his pocket and slipped it into
the lock ; the latch was lifted, and with a gentle push the
door opened inwardly. Everything was in the same state
as in the afternoon.
Captain Spade entered the garden, after assuring him-
self that no one was in the vicinity of the pavilion, and
his men followed him.
The door was not locked, but merely closed to: â€˜this
would enable them to escape with all speed on their
In this part, shaded by groups of high trees, it was so
dark that it would have been hard to distinguish the
pavilion were it not that a bright light was shining from
one of the windows.
This, no doubt, was the window of the room occupied
by Thomas Roch and by his attendant, for Gaydon never
left the patient committed to his care, either day or night.
Therefore Spade expected to find him in the room.
His four men and he advanced cautiously, taking care
that no noise of rolling stone or breaking branch should
reveal their presence. In this way they gained the side
of the building, and reached the door. The light that
shone through the curtains of the window was placed near
the door. But if this door were fastened, how were they to
get into the madmanâ€™s room? Such was the question
that Captain Spade was asking himself. As he had no
key that would open the room door, would it not be
necessary to break one of the window panes, force the
fastening of the window in a twinkling, burst into the
48 FOR THE FLAG
room, surprise Gaydon by a sudden attack, and render
him incapable of calling for help ?
But such violent measures would be attended by certain
risks. Captain Spade was perfectly aware of this, for he
was a man given rather to cunning than to violence.
However he had no choice. The one thing essential
was to carry off the inventorâ€”Gaydon too, if necessary, Â©
in accordance with the Countâ€™s instructionsâ€”and he must
succeed, whatever the cost.
The Captain reached the window, raised himself on
tiptoe, and through an opening in the curtains he was able
to examine the room.
Gaydon was there near his charge, who was still labour-
ing under the attack caused by the recent visit. This
attack required special treatment, which the attendant
was now giving, under the direction of one of the doctors
of the establishment, whom the Principal had immediately
sent to No. 17.
Manifestly the doctorâ€™s presence could only complicate
the situation, and render the abduction more difficult.
Roch was lying on a sofa, quite dressed. At that
moment he appeared sufficiently calm. The paroxysm
was passing off little by little, and it would be followed by
some hours of torpor and drowsiness.
When Spade raised himself up to the window the doctor
was about to withdraw, and Spade heard him assure
Gaydon that the night would pass without farther alarm,
and there would be no necessity for him to return.
Then the physician turned towards the door, which
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION 49
opened, it will be remembered, near the window where the
five men were waiting. If they had not hidden them-
selves behind the group of trees close to the pavilion, they
would have been seen, not only by the doctor, but also by
the keeper who accompanied him.
Before either of them appeared on the steps, Captain
Spade made a sign, and his companions dispersed, while he
crouched under the window.
Fortunately the lamp had been left on the table, so the
sailors from the Â£bda were in no danger of being betrayed
by a ray of light.
As he took leave of Gaydon the doctor paused on the
first step, and said,â€”
â€œ This is one of the severest attacks our patient has had!
Two or three more equally violent, and he will lose the
little reason he yet retains.â€
â€œ Well, then,â€ said Gaydon, â€œwhy does not the Principal
forbid him to see visitors? It is a certain Count dâ€™Artigas
who had heard of his fame, whom our boarder has to
thank for being as you found him.â€ =
â€œT will call the attention of the Principal to it,â€ replied
He then descended the steps, and Gaydon walked with
him to the end of the side walk, leaving the hall door
Before the two men had advanced twenty steps the
Captain rose, and his men joined him.
Ought they not to take advantage of this opportunity
to enter the room and seize Thomas Roch, who was
50 FOR THE FLAG
already half asleep, and then wait to set upon Gaydon
and secure him?
But the keeper would lose no time in returning, and,
missing his charge, he would seek him, he would shout,
raise an alarmâ€”the doctor would run back immediately ;
the whole staff of Healthful House would be astir. The
trespassers would not have time to reach the lower gate,
to get out and lock it after them. .
But Spade had no leisure to reflect on the subject.
The sound of footsteps on the gravel announced that
Gaydon was coming back to the pavilion. It was better
to fall upon him, â€˜stifle his cries before he could give the
alarm, make it impossible for him to defend himself. ...
With four, or even five, he would be overpowered imme-
diately. That done, the Captain would proceed to the
capture of the inventor under the most favourable condi-
tions, for the unfortunate man would net know what was
Meanwhile Gaydon appeared from behind the trees, and
was advancing towards the steps. But the moment he
put his foot on the first step the four men flung them-
selves upon him, stretched him on the ground without
giving him the chance of uttering a cry, gagged him
with a handkerchief, covered his eyes with a bandage,
and bound his arms and legs so tightly that he was as
helpless as a corpse.
Two of the sailors remained at his side while Captain
Spade and the others proceeded into the room.
It was just as the Captain conjectured, Roch was in
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION 53
such a state that the noise had not roused him from his
torpor. As he lay on the sofa with his eyes closed, were it
not for his heavy breathing he might have been thought
dead. It was not necessary either to bind him or to gag
him. Two men merely lifted him up, one by the head
and the other by the feet, and they started for the boat.
All this was effected instantaneously.
Then Captain Spade left the room last, after he had
carefully put out the light and shut the door. By this
means there was reason to suppose that the capture would
not be discovered before the morrow, or at soonest in the
early hours of the morning.
The same manceuvre was repeated for the transport of
Gaydon, which was performed without difficulty. The
two other men lifted him up, and walking down the
garden they reached the outer wall.
That part of the park, always unfrequented, was in
profound darkness. They could not even see on the hill-
side the lights of the buildings and other pavilions of |
Having gained the door, Spade had only to open it.
The men carrying Gaydon passed out first. Roch went
second in the arms of the othertwo. Then Captain Spade
followed and locked the door with the key, which he in-
tended throwing into the depths of the Neuse so soon as
he reached the shipâ€™s boat.
There was no one on the road, no one on the bank!
Twenty steps brought them to Effrondat, who awaited
them seated against the slope. Roch and Gaydon were
54 FOR THE FLAG
â€˜placed in the stern of the boat, and the Captain and his
men immediately took their places.
â€˜Let go the grapnel, quick,â€ the Captain cried to the
The latter obeyed the order, and slipping down the
bank, he entered the boat in his turn. seals
The four oars struck the water, and the boat shot out
towards the schooner. A light at the foremast indicated
its moorings, and twenty minutes before she had swung to
her anchors at the flow of the tide.
Two minutes later the boat was alongside the Zdda.
Dâ€™ Artigas was leaning over the side near the ladder.
â€œTs it done, Spade ?â€ he asked.
â€œTt is done.â€
â€œ Both ?â€
â€œ Bothâ€”the keeper and the kept!â€
â€œNo one suspects at Healthful House ?â€
It was not likely that Gaydon, with his eyes and ears
tied up, could recognize the voices of Count dâ€™Artigas and
One thing he might have observed. Neither Roch nor
he were hoisted on board the schooner at once. There
was some grinding against the side, and half an hour
passed before Gaydon, who had never lost his presence of
mind, felt himself seized anew, lifted, and then lowered to
the bottom of the hold.
The capture being accomplished, the Edda had only to
quit her moorings, descend the estuary again, make for
A DOUBLE ABDUCTION ; 55
Pamlico Sound, and gain the open sea. Yet there was no
sign on board of the preparations usual when a ship is
getting under sail.
Was it not dangerous, however, to remain in that place
after the double seizure performed in the night? Had
the Count so safely hidden his prisoners that they could
not be discovered should the Â£6Ã©a, whose proximity to
Healthful House was suspicious, receive a visit from the
An hour after the boatâ€™s return the crew were in their
hammocks, except the men of the watch in the prow,
Count dâ€™Artigas, Serkd, Captain Spade in their cabinsâ€”all
slept on board the schooner, which lay motionless on the
tranquil waters of the Neuse.
THE SCHOONER Â£BBA.
IT was only the next day, and without any signs of haste,
that the Â£4Ã©a began her preparations. From the end of
the Newburn pier, the crew might be seen, after the deck
was washed, freeing the sails from their coverings under
the boatswainâ€™s direction, casting off the gaskets, clearing
the gear, hauling up the boats, with a view to setting sail.
At eight oâ€™clock in the morning the Count had not yet
appeared. His companion Serko, the engineerâ€”as he
was called on boardâ€”had not yet left his cabin. As for
the Captain, he was busy giving various orders to the
sailors which indicated an immediate departure.
The Â£Ã©da was a yacht admirably adapted for racing,
although she had never figured in the North American or
British races. The tall masts, surface breadth of canvas,
the length of her yards, her draught which gave her great
stability even when covered with canvas, her clearly defined
water lines, denoted a rapid, seaworthy vessel, capable of
contending with the worst weather.
Indeed, the schooner Â£d0a could easily do her twelve
miles an hour in a strong breeze close to the wind.
Of course sailing vessels are always dependent on the
THE SCHOONER â€˜â€˜ EBBAâ€â€™ 57
variableness of the atmosphere. When a calm comes they
must wait, and also, even though they may possess nautical
qualities superior to those of the steam yacht, they never
have that certainty of progression which steam gives the
All considered, it would seem that superiority belongs
to the ship which combines the advantages of sail and
screw. But such was evidently not the Countâ€™s opinion,
since he was satisfied with a schooner for his voyages,
even when they extended beyond the limits of the
That morning a gentle breeze came from the west.
This was favourable for the Za, first for getting out of
the Neuse, and then for reaching one of the inlets to
Pamlico Sound that formed a kind of strait communicating
with the open sea.
Two hours later the Â£Ã©da was still riding at anchor, and
her chain was beginning to haul taut with the ebb-tide.
The schooner had swung round and its bow was turned to
the mouth of the Neuse, the little buoy which the evening
before floated on the port side must have been carried
away in the night; it was no longer visible.
Suddenly a cannon shot was heard, and smoke rose from
the batteries on the coast. It was answered by several
shots from the guns that were echeloned on the fringe of
islands in the offing.
At that moment the Count and the engineer came up
The Captain met them.
58 FOR THE FLAG
â€œ A cannon shot,â€ he said.
â€œWe heard it,â€ the engineer answered, slightly shrugging
â€œThat means that our performance at Healthful House
has been discovered,â€ the Captain continued.
â€œUndoubtedly,â€ replied SerkÃ©, â€œand this booming
means the order to close the passes,â€
â€œWhat has that to do with us?â€ the Count asked
in a calm tone.
â€œNothing,â€ answered the engineer.
Captain Spade was right in saying that by that time the
disappearance of Roch and his keeper was known to the
staff.of Healthful House.
In the morning when the doctor went to No. 17 to pay
his usual visit he found the room empty. So soon as the
Principal heard of the catastrophe, he ordered the grounds
to be searched. The investigation revealed that although
the door at the foot of the hill was locked, the key was not
in the lock, and also that. the bolts had been drawn from
There could be no doubt that it was by this door the
abduction had been effected, either during the evening or
during the night.
Who had done it? No one could offer a supposition.
The only thing known was that at half-past seven in the
evening one of the resident doctors had visited M. Roch,
who was then undergoing a violent paroxysm.
After he had remained for a considerable time with the
patient, the doctor left him sleeping, and quitted Pavilion
On board the schooner Â£dda,
THE SCHOONER â€˜â€˜ EBBAâ€â€™ 61
17 with Gaydon, who accompanied him to the end of the
What afterwards occurred no one knew.
The news of the disappearance was telegraphed to
Newburn and to Raleigh. In reply, the Governor of
North Carolina instantly telegraphed orders that no vessel
should be allowed to leave Pamlico Sound until it had
been subjected to the closest inspection. A second tele-
gram instructed the cruiser Madcon, then stationed there,
to put this order into execution. At the same timc the
most stringent measures were taken for a strict watch on
the country ports and provincial towns.
In consequence of this Count dâ€™Artigas could also sec
the Falcon two miles to the east making ready to carry out
these instructions. Now, during the time necessary for
getting up steam the schooner might easily have escaped
without fear of pursuitâ€”for an hour at least.
â€œShall we heave the anchor ?â€ asked the Captain.
â€œYes, since the wind is favourable, but let there be no
sign of haste,â€ said Count dâ€™Artigas.
â€œThat is right,â€ said SerkÃ©, â€œall the channels of the
Sound will be watched now, and no ship will get out
without having received a visit from gentlemen as careful
as they are curious.â€
â€œLet us get under sail all the same,â€ commanded the
Count. â€œ When the cruiserâ€™s officers or the Customsâ€™ agents
have examined the dda the embargo will be taken off,
and I shall be very much astonished if they do not give us
62 FOR THE FLAG
â€œWith many apolozies and good wishes for a pleasant
voyage and a speedy return!â€ rejoined SerkÃ© ; and his
remark ended in a long laugh.
When the news was known at Newburn the authorities
asked each other whether it meant flight or abduction. As
a flight could not have taken place without Gaydonâ€™s con-
nivance, that idea was abandoned. In the opinion of the
Principal and the Committee, the keeperâ€™s conduct was
Then it must have been abductionâ€”and one may imagine
the effect of thatin the town. What! the French inventor,
so strictly guarded, had disappeared ! and with him the
secret of the Fulgurator which no one had yet been
able to acquire ? Surely the consequences would be very
grave. Was the new discovery completely lost to
America? Suppose the deed had been done by another
nation, would not that nation, now that Thomas Roch
had fallen into its power, make use of what the Federal
Government had not been able to obtain, and how could
it possibly be believed that the authors of the abduction
had acted for a private individual ?
So, precautions were extended over the various divisions
of North Carolina. An elaborate supervision was exer-
cised on the roads and railways, and around the residences
in the. towns and country. As for the sea, it was to be
closed along the whole length of the coast, from Wilming-
ton to Norfolk. No vessel was to be exempt from search
by officers or police agents, and any was to be detained on
the slightest suspicious indication. Not only was the
THE SCHOONER â€˜â€˜ EBBAâ€â€™ 63.
Falcon making its preparations, but several steam launches
in reserve on the waters of Pamlico Sound were getting
ready to scour the sea, with instructions to search down to
the depths of the hold, merchantmen, pleasure-boats,
â€˜fishing craftâ€”including those that were at anchor as well
as those setting out to sea.
And all the time the schooner Edda was getting ready to
heave her anchor. Upon the whole, it did not seem that the
Count experienced the least anxiety about the measures
taken by the administration, or the contingencies which
would arise if Thomas Roch and his keeper were found on
About nine oâ€™clock the last preliminaries were com-
pleted, and a few minutes later the Â£dda turned her head
to the east so as to double the left bank of the Neuse.
About fifteen miles from Newburn the river bends
suddenly, and winds towards the north-west, growing
wider as it advances. After having passed Croatan and
Havelock, the #4Ã©a reached the bend, and veered towards
the north, close to the wind, along the left bank. It was
eleven oâ€™clock, when, favoured by the breeze and without
having met either cruiser or steam-launch, she rounded
the point of the island of Sivan, beyond which Pamlico
This vast expanse of water measures one hundred kilo-
meters from Sivan Island to Roadoke Island. On the
ocean side stretches a long line of narrow islands like a
natural breakwater, lying north and south from Cape
Lookout to Cape Hatteras, and on to Cape Henry, on a
64 FOR THE FLAG
level with the city of Norfolk in the neighbouring State
A great number of lights are placed on the islands and
islets in Pamlico Sound in order to make navigation
possible during the night. In it there was accommodation
for all vessels seeking shelter from the Atlantic swell, and
good anchorage was always to be found.
Many passages establish communication between Pamlico
Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. A little beyond the
Sivan Island lights the Ocracoke Inlet opens, beyond it
Ilatteras Inlet, and above that three others bearing the
names Loggerhead, Newhead, and Oregon.
It is true the Falcon guarded that part of the Sound,
and inspected all the trading vessels and fishing-boats
outward bound. .In fact, by this time, in accordance
with the common interpretation of the orders received
from the Administration, every passage was watched by
U.S. ships, to say nothing of the batteries which com-
manded the channels.
Having passed Ocracoke Inlet, the Zsa made no effort
either to encounter or to avoid any of the vesscls on the
water, but kept on its casual course towards Hatteras Inlet,
by which channel, for reasons known to liimself, the Count
dâ€™Artigas intended to get out.
Until then the Â£0da had not been challenged by the
revenue agents or by the cruiserâ€™s officers, although
she had not avoided them. Besides, how could she escape
their vigilance? Were the authorities about to spare
Dâ€™Artigas the annoyance of a visit as a special privilege ?
THE SCHOONER â€˜â€˜ EBBAâ€ 65
Did they regard him as too high a personage for his naviga-
tion to be interfered with even for an hour? This was
unlikely, for while taking him for a foreigner leading the
luxurious life of one of fortuneâ€™s favourites, no one actually
knew who he was, whence he came, or whither he was
The schooner continued her. course, moving gracefully
and swiftly over the waters of the Sound. Her flagâ€”a
crescent of gold on a red groundâ€”floated majestically in
Count dâ€™Artigas was seated in the stern, in one of the
cane deck-chairs commonly seen on pleasure-boats. The
engineer and the captain were chatting with him.
â€œThe officers of the Federal Marine are in no hurry to
touch their hats to us,â€ observed SerkÃ©.
â€œLet them come when they like,â€ said the Count, in a
tone of complete indifference.
â€œProbably they are waiting until we get into Hatteras
Inlet,â€ said the Captain.
â€œLet them wait,â€ said the rich yachtsman curtly, and
then he relapsed into the moody abstraction which was
habitual to him.
The Captainâ€™s hypothesis was probably correct, for it
was evident that the Â£dda was making for the passage
indicated. The Falcon had not yet signalled to her to lie-
to, but certainly would do so as the schooner neared the
entrance to the passage. In that place it would be im-
possible for the yacht to refuse the prescribed visit before
clearing Pamlico Sound to gain the open sea.
66 FOR THE FLAG
It did not seem, however, that the yacht had any desire
to avoid the authorities.
Were Roch and Gaydon so well concealed on board
that it was impossible for the State agents to find
This supposition was admissible, but perhaps Count
dâ€™Artigas would have shown less confidence had he known
that the Hdda was the object of the closest scrutiny on
board the cruiser and the custom-house launches,
In fact, the visit of the foreigner to Healthful House
had attracted special attention to him. Naturally, the
Principal could have had no reason to suspect the motives
of his visit. Yet, only a few hours after the Countâ€™s
departure, Roch and his attendant had been carried off,
and since his visit no one had been received at Pavilion 17,
and no one had been in communication with Thomas
Roch. Suspicions were awakened, and the heads of the
house began to ask what part the foreigner had taken in
the affair. Supposing the place to have been reconnoitred,
and the approaches to the pavilion examined, could not
the Countâ€™s companion have withdrawn the bolt of the
door and taken out the key? To return at nightfall,
slip into the park, and proceed with the abduction, would
in that case be a comparatively easy matter, since the
Ebba was anchored only two or three cable-lengths from
Now these suspicions, which neither the Principal nor
his staff. had formulated at the opening of the inquiry,
gained strength when the schooner was seen to raise her
THE SCHOONER â€˜ EBBAâ€ 67
anchor, descend the estuary, and manceuvre so as to gain
one of the exits of the Sound.
Then the authorities ordered the Falcon and the Customs
steamers to follow the ZdÃ©a, to stop her before she entered
one of the channels, to subject every part of the vessel to
the severest examination. She was not to be granted free
pratique until they were convinced that the missing men
were not on board.
Surely Count dâ€™Artigas could not be unconscious that
he was under suspicion, that his yacht was being specially
watched by officers and agents.
But if he had been aware of this, would he, with his
superb disdain and haughty bearing, have condescended to
About three oâ€™clock in the afternoon the schooner,
which was cruising within a mile of the passage, performed
the evolutions necessary to keep the middle of the
After having visited some fishing boats then going out
to sea, the Mascon waited at the mouth of the passage.
No mere sailing vessel could have escaped the pursuit of
a man-of-war, and if the schooner did not obey the injunc-
tion to heave-to, one or two shells would soon have
brought her to reason.
At that moment a boat containing two officers and ten
sailors left the cruiser and crossed the Â£ddaâ€™s course.
Count dâ€™Artigas, from his place in the stern, watched.
this manceuvre with indifference, while he calmly lighted
68 FOR THE FLAG
When the boat was no more than half a cable-length
away, one of the men rose and waved a flag.
â€œ Signal to stop,â€ said SerkÃ©.
â€œPresumably,â€ said the Count.
â€œOrdered to wait.â€
â€œ Let us wait.â€
Captain Spade gave orders to lie-to, and these were
instantly carried out. Presently the da moved only
to the sway of the tide, which bore her towards the
A few strokes brought the Falconâ€™s boat alongside the
Ebba. The ladder was lowered, and presently the two
officers, followed by eight men, stcod on the deck, two
sailors remaining in charge of the boat.
The Â£d4aâ€™s crew ranged themselves in a line near the
The superior officer, a shipâ€™s lieutenant, advanced
towards the owner of the yacht, who had just risen to
salute him, and the following questions and answers were
â€œThis schooner belongs to Count. dâ€™Artigas, whom I
have the honour of addressing ?â€
EAC S oe
â€œ His nationality ?â€
THE SCHOONER â€˜â€˜ EBBAâ€â€™ a1
The officer looked at the shipâ€™s flag, and Count dâ€™Artigas
â€œMay I ask for what reason I have the pleasure of
seeing you on board my yacht ?â€
â€œOrders have been given to visit all vessels at present
in Pamlico Sound, either at anchor or under way,â€
replied the officer.
He did not think it necessary to say that the Adda was
to be subjected to a special search.
â€œYou have, doubtless, no intention of refusing, M. le
â€œCertainly not, sir. My schooner is at your service
from the top of its masts to the bottom of its hold. I
would only ask why the vessels in Pamlico Sound are
undergoing these formalities to-day ?â€
â€œT see no reason why you should be left in ignorance,
Count,â€ replied the officer. â€œThe Governor of Carolina
has been informed that there has been a case of kid-
napping at Healthful House, and the administration wish
to be assured that the men have not been shipped off
during the night.â€
â€œIs it possible?â€ said the Count, affecting surprise.
â€œAnd who are the persons who have disappeared from
â€œ A madmanâ€”an inventorâ€”is the victim of this outrage,
and his keeper.â€
â€œA madman! Can it be the Frenchman, Thomas
â€œThe same, sir.â€
72 FOR THE FLAG
â€œThomas Roch, whom I saw yesterday when I visited
the institution, whom I questioned in the presence of the
Principal! He became violent just as Captain Spade and
myself were about to leave the place.â€
The officer was observing the foreigner with great atten-
tion, striving to find something suspicious either in his
manner or his words.
â€œTt is not credible!â€ added the Count. And he said
this precisely as though he had now heard of the adventure
for the first time.
â€œT understand the anxiety of the responsible parties,â€
he continued, â€˜considering the inventorâ€™s importance,
and I quite approve of the measures they have taken.
It is needless to observe that neither the inventor
nor his keeper is on board the Â£dda. Of that you
can assure yourself by making a thorough search.
Captain, be good enough to accompany these gentle-
Then with a formal salute to the lieutenant the Count
sat down again in his chair, and replaced his cigar between
The two officers and the eight sailors, conducted by
Captain Spade, commenced their investigation. They
descended first by the companion to the stern saloon,
luxuriously furnished, and fitted with panels of rare, costly
woods, superb ornaments, and carpets and hangings of
great price. Needless to say, this saloon, the adjoining
cabins, and the Countâ€™s state-room, were searched with all
possible care. Captain Spade also joined in the investiga-
Liftiig the buoy.
THE SCHOONER â€˜â€˜ EBBAâ€â€™ 75
tion, in order that no suspicion of his employer should
remain in the minds of the officers.
After the saloon and the other rooms had been sea rched,
the party proceeded to the dining-saloon, which was richly
decorated ; they ransacked the pantries, the cuddy, and
fore part of the vessel, the cabins of Captain Spade and
the boatswain, then the berths of the sailors, without
discovering either Thomas Roch or Gaydon.
There remained the hold and its accommodations.
These required an elaborate examination; so when the
hatches were lifted, the captain lighted two lanterns to
The hold contained only barrels of water, provisions of
all kinds, kegs of spirits, casks of wine and beer, and a
stock of coalâ€”an abundance of everything, as though the
schooner had been provided for a long voyage. Through
the spaces in the cargo the American sailors slipped into
the innermost corners, even getting into the narrow spaces
between bales and sacks. They had all their trouble for
Evidently Count dâ€™Artigas had been wrongfully sus-
pected of any part in the capture of the inventor and his
The investigation, which had lasted about two hours,
ended without result.
At half-past five the officers and men of the Falcon
came on deck again, having conscientiously gone through
the search and acquired absolute certainty that neither
Thomas Roch nor Gaydon was to be found in the interior
76 FOR THE FLAG
of the #dda. Then they proceeded to inspect the fore-
castle and the boats. Their conviction that the #dda had
been suspected without reason was established.
The two officers had only to take leave of the Count,
and they advanced towards him.
â€œYou will excuse us for having caused you this incon-
venience, Count dâ€™Artigas,â€ the lieutenant said.
â€œYou could only obey the orders whose execution were
confided to you, gentlemen.â€
â€œ Besides, it was a mere formality,â€ the officer felt bound
By a slight movement of his head the Count indicated
that he was ready to admit that excuse.
â€œJ had informed you, gentlemen, that I had nothing to
do with the abduction.â€
â€œWe no longer doubt it, M. le Comte, and it only
remains for us to rejoin our vessel.â€
â€œ As you please. Has the Â£dda now free passage ?â€
â€œAu revoir, gentlemen, az revoir. I am a frequent
visitor to these coasts, and I shall soon return. I hope
that when I come back you will have discovered the per-
petrators of this outrage, and reinstated Thomas Roch at
Healthful House. This result is to be desired in the
interest of the United States, and, I will add, in the
interest of humanity.â€
When these words were said the officers courteously
saluted the Count, who responded bya slight inclination of
the head. Captain Spade accompanied them to the side,
The submerged cargo.
THE SCHOONER â€œ EBBAâ€â€™ 479
and followed by their sailors they set off to join the cruiser.
At a sign from the Count, Captain Spade ordered the
sails to be set again as they were before the schooner had
lain to. The breeze had freshened and the yacht sailed
briskly towards the Strait of Hatteras. Half an hour
after, the Strait had been passed, and the dda was on the
high seas. For an hour the schoonerâ€™s head was kept
east-norâ€™-east. But as usually happens, the breeze which
came from the land died down a few miles off the coast.
The ZÂ£dda was becalmed, its sails flapped against the masts,
its helm no longer acted, but remained stationary on a sea
whose bosom was unruffled by a single breath. It would
_ seem impossible for the schooner to continue its passage
during the night.
Captain Spade had remained on the look-out in the
bows. Since leaving the Strait his gaze had turned first
to port, then to starboard, as though he were trying to see
some object floating on either side. At that moment he
â€œ Brail up!â€
In execution of this order the sailors hastened to loosen
the halyards, and the empty sails were furled to the yards,
but without being enveloped in their covers.
Was it the Countâ€™s intention to wait for the dawn as
well as for the morning breeze? But it is usual in such
circumstances to wait with sails spread to catch the first
puffs of wind.
The boat â€˜was lowered, and the Captain got into it
accompanied by a sailor who sculled towards an object
80 FOR THE FLAG
which floated on. the surface of the water a few yards
ahead of the schooner.
That object was a small buoy exactly like the one that
had bobbed on the waters of the Neuse when the Edda lay
some cablesâ€™ length from the bank near Healthful House.
The buoy was taken up, as well as a cable which was
attached to it, and the boat transported both to the bows
ofthe schooner. _
At the command of the boatswain a tow-line thrown
from the deck was attached to the first cable. Then
Captain Spade and the sailor returned to the deck of the
schooner again, and the boat was hoisted to the davits.
Almost immediately the tow-line tightened and the
Ebba, bare of sail, turned towards the east at a rate which
could not be less than ten miles an hour.
Night closed in, and the lights on the American coast
disappeared quickly in the fog on the horizon.
â€œWHERE AM I?â€
(Notes by Simon Hart, the engineer.)
WHERE amI? What has happened since that sudden
attack on me within a few steps of the pavilion ?
I had just left the doctor, I was about to go up the steps
into the room to close the door and resume my post
beside M. Roch, when several men fell upon me and knocked
me down. Who are they? I could not recognize them
with my eyes bandaged. I could not call for help with a
gag in my mouth. I could offer no resistance because
they had bound my arms and my legs. And in that con-
dition I felt myself lifted and carried for about a hundred
.pacesâ€”then I was raised upâ€”then lowered, and placedâ€”
Where ?>â€”where ?
What has become of Roch? Is it not he rather than I
they wanted to harm? To everybody I am only Gaydon
the keeper, and not Simon Hart the engineer, whose real
character or nationality has never been suspected: and
why should they wish to seize a humble hospital atten-
The French inventor has been carried off; of that I
82 FOR THE FLAG
have not the least doubt. If he has been taken from
Healthful House, it is solely with the hope of extracting
his secrets from him!
But Iam reasoning on the supposition that Roch has
disappeared with me... . Was thatso?... Yes, it must
beâ€”it is! I could have no doubt on that point! Iam
not in the hands of malefactors whose only object is to
steal. They would not have acted in this manner. After
having rendered me incapable of calling for help, thrown
me into a corner of the garden among the trees, while
they carried off Roch, they would not have shut me upâ€”
where I now am.
Where? That is the question which I have been trying
for several hours to solve. Here I am engaged in an
extraordinary adventure which will endâ€”in what way?
I do not knowâ€”I dare not even anticipate the conclusion.
In any case it is my intention to fix the smallest circum-
stances in my memory, minute by minute, and if it be
possible, to write down my impressions daily. Who knows
what the future may have in storeâ€”and perhaps in my new
surroundings I may end by discovering the secret of the
Roch Fulgurator ?
If I should be set free some day, that secret must be
known, and also who is the author or who are the authors
of the criminal outrage which may have consequences so
I return again and again to the question, hoping that
some incident may supply the answer.
Where am I?
â€œWHERE AM 1?â€ 83
Let me go over everything from the beginning.
After having been carried on menâ€™s arms outside of
Healthful House, I felt myself placed, not roughly, on a
bench in some craft which rocked. It must have been of
small dimensionsâ€”a shipâ€™s boat, I think.
The first rocking was followed almost immediately by
anotherâ€”this I attribute to a seccnd person having been
placed in the boat. Could I have any doubt that it was
Thomas Roch? They would not have had to gag him,
cover his eyes, or bind his feet and hands. He would still
have been in a state of prostration which would render
him incapable of offering any resistance, or even being
conscious of what had been done to him. The proof that
Iam not mistaken is that I perceived an odour of ether,
in spite of my gag. Now, yesterday, before he left the
pavilion, the doctor had administered a few drops of ether
to his patient, and I remember that a little of the volatile
liquid fell on his clothes when he was struggling in his
frenzy. Thus it was not surprising that the odour re-
mained,.or that I detected it. Yesâ€”Thomas Roch was
there in the boat, lying near me. If I had delayed a few
minutes longer in returning to the pavilion, I should not
have found him there.
Iam thinkingâ€”Why did that Count dâ€™Artigas take it
into his head to visit Healthful House? If my charge
had not encountered him, none of this would have happened.
Talking of his inventions brought on that exceptionally
violent attack. The Principal is to blame, he did not pay
attention to my warning. He should have listened to
84. FOR THE FLAG
me, then the doctor would not have been called in, the
door of the pavilion would have been closed, and the
attempt would have failed.
As for the interest to be served by the abduction of
Roch, whether by a private individual or a European
State, that needs no discussion. But.on this point I may
rest fully assured, no one can succeed where I have
failed for fifteen long months. In the present state of his
intellect every effort to wring his secret from him will
fail. In truth, his condition can only grow worse, his
madness can only become complete, even on points which
until now have remained clear to him.
However, let me leave Thomas Roch for the present
and return to myself, and what I can plainly state.
After many rockings the boat was set in motion by the
action of oars. The passage scarcely lasted a minute.
Then a slight shock was felt; the boat was alongside of a
ship. There was noise and excitementâ€”talking, ordering,
and working. Under my muffling, and without -under-
standing anything, I could hear a confused murmuring of
voices, which lasted for five or six minutes.
The only thought in my mind was that I was about to
be transhipped from the boat to the vessel to which it
belonged, and that I should be shut down in the hold
until the said vessel got out to sea. While she was in
Pamlico Sound, it is evident that neither the patient nor
his attendant could be allowed to appear on deck.
Then, still gagged, I was seized by the shoulders and
legs. My impression was, not that the arms lifted me
â€˜â€œWHERE AM 1?â€ 85
over the side of a ship, but that, on the contrary, they slid
me down. Was it to let me goâ€”to drown me, so as to
rid themselves of a troublesome witness? That idea
crossed my mind, and an agonized shudder passed over
me from head to foot, Instinctively I took a long breath,
and my chest expanded with air that was soon to fail
No! They lowered me carefully to a solid flooring,
which gave me a sensation of metallic cold. I was
stretched at full length, and to my extreme surprise, I
found that my bonds had been loosed. The movement
of feet about me ceased, and a moment later I heard the
noise of a door shutting.
Here lam! Where ?â€”and first, am I alone? I tear
the gag from my mouth and the bandage from my
All was dark, profoundly dark. Not the smallest ray
of light, not even that faint impression which the pupil of
the eye preserves in hermetically closed chambers.
I callâ€”I call several times. No answer. My voice is
muffled, as though it passed through a medium unsuited
to the transmission of sound. ;
In addition, the air I-breathe is hot, heavy, thick, and
the action of my lungs will soon become difficult, impos-
sible, if that air be not renewed.
I stretch out my hands and make some discoveries by
my sense of touch.
I occupy a chamber with fale of sheet iron. When I
pass my hand along the plates, I ascertain that they are
. 86 FOR THE FLAG
fixed with bolts like the water-tight compartments of a
As for an opening, it seems to me that there is something
on one of the sidesâ€”the frame of a door whose hinges
extend a little beyond the wall. That door would open
inwardly, and, no doubt, it is through it that I have been
conveyed into the interior of this narrow receptacle.
With my ear pressed against the door, I hear nothing.
The silence is as complete as the darknessâ€”a strange
silence only broken by the sound of the metallic floor
when I move. None of those rumbling noises that usually
prevail on board vessels, nor any of the vague wash of
water along the hull and rippling of the sea that licks its
keel. None either of the rocking and rolling which should
be felt, for in the mouth of the Neuse the tide always
causes a very perceptible undulation.
But, does this compartment in which I am imprisoned
really belong to a ship? Can I be sure that it is floating
on the surface of the Neuse, though a boat had taken only
one minute to bring me here? In fact, why may not the
boat, instead of rejoining whatever vessel awaited it at
the foot of Healthful House, have made for another point
ofthe bank? And in that case, I am possibly on dry
land at the bottom of a cellar. That would account for
the immobility of my prison-house. Of course there are
the iron walls, the bolted plates, and â€˜the faint salt smell
about me. That smell, sw generis, with which the air in
the interior of ships is generally impregnated, and which
â€œâ€˜ WHERE AM I?â€ 89
An interval, which I calculate at a quarter of an hour,
has elapsed since my incarceration. It must, therefore, be
nearly midnight. Am I to remain here until morning?
It is fortunate I dined at six o'clock, according to the
rules. of Healthful House. I am not hungry, but I am
becoming very drowsy. However, I hope to resist the
inclination to sleep. I must not let myself give way to it.
I must think about something else. Of what? Neither
sound nor light penetrates this iron box. But stay!
Perhaps some sound, however faint, may reach my ear?
So all my powers are concentrated in my sense of hearing.
Then I waitâ€”in case I am not on land a movement, an
oscillation, must in time be felt. Admitting that the
vessel is still at anchor, it cannot delay in setting sail ; or,
then, I should be at a loss to understand why we had been
: Soonâ€”this is no illusionâ€”a slight roll rocks me, and
makes me certain I am. not on land. However, it is
scarcely apparent, without shock, without jerk, a kind of
gliding on the surface of the waters.
I reflect calmly. I am on one of the ships moored at
the mouth of the Neuse, and waiting, under sail or under
steam, the result of the abduction. The boat that brought
meâ€”but I must repeat, I had not felt the sensation of
being lifted over the vesselâ€™s side. Had I been passed
through a gun hole in the hull? It mattered little after
all! Whether I had or had not been lowered into a hold,
I certainly was lying on some substance that moved and
go FOR THE FLAG
Without doubt I shall soon be given my liberty, and so
will Thomas Roch, provided he has been shut up with the
same care. By liberty, I mean permission to come and
go on deck at my pleasure. But this will not be until
after some hours, for we must not be seen. We shall not
breathe the outside air until the vessel has reached the
open sea. If it bea sailing vessel, we shall have to wait
until the breeze starts up-â€”-the land breeze at daybreakâ€”
which is favourable to navigation on Pamlico Sound.
Were it a steamboatâ€”
No! On board a steamer there are always those
whiffs of oil, and grease, those smells from the engine-
room, that would have reached me. Then the motion of
the screw or the paddles, the tremor of the machinery, the
jerks of the pistonsâ€”I must have felt them.
After all I must be patient. I shall be extricated from
this hole to-morrow, At least if they do not give me my
liberty they will bring me some food, for nothing indicates
that they mean me to die of hunger; it would have been
easier in that case to drop me into the river. Once at sea,
what have they to fear from me? My voice would not be
heard. As for my complaints or recriminations, how
useless they would be !
Besides, what am I to the knowledge of the authors of
this crime? One Gaydon, a mere hospital attendant,
without any importance. Itisin Roch they are interested.
I was included in the abduction only because I returned
to the pavilion at that moment.
In any case, whatever happens, and whoever the people
â€˜â€œ WHERE AM 1?â€ gI
who are conducting this affair may be, no matter where
they may take me, J will continue to play my part
as keeper. No, no one shall suspect that under the
cloak of Gaydon is hidden Simon Hart, the engineer.
In this there are two advantages; first, they cannot
mistrust a poor wretch of a keeper, and in the second
place, perhaps I shall fathom the mystery of the new
contrivance and make use of it should I succeed in
But my thoughts wander. Before I take to flight I
must reach my destination. It will be time to think of
escaping when an opportunity presents itself. Until then
the chief thing is that no one knows who I amâ€”this they
shall not know.
Now I am quite certain on one point; we are moving
rapidly. I return, however, to my first idea, No! the
vessel that is carrying us, if it be not a steamer, is certainly
not a sailing ship. It is undoubtedly propelled by a
powerful engine of locomotion. That I hear none of the
sounds peculiar to machinery when the screws or wheels
are working, that the vessel is not shaken by the movement
of pistons in cylinders, Iam forced to admit. It is, rather
than a continuous and regular movement, a kind of direct
rotation that communicates itself to the propeller, whatever
it may be. There can be no mistake: the vessel is moved
by a special mechanism. What?
Is it by one of those turbines of which we have been
hearing, worked from the inside by an immersed tube, and
destined to become a substitute for the screw, because they
g2 FOR THE FLAG
utilize the resistance of water more effectively and give
greater speed ?
A few hours yet, and I shall know what to think of this
kind of navigation.
Besidesâ€”an effect not less extraordinaryâ€”there was no
rolling or pitching. Now, how was it that Pamlico
Sound was in such a state of tranquility? The currents
of the flood and ebb tides ordinarily suffice to agitate its
These are some of the wearisome thoughts that beset
me! In spite of an overpowering inclination to sleep,
notwithstanding the torpor which is coming over me in
this suffocating atmosphere, I have resolved that I will
not give way to slumber. I will keep awake until day:
still it will not be day for me until the moment when
this queer chamber shall receive light from the outside.
And perhaps it will not be enough for the door to open:
perhaps I shall have to be lifted out of this hole, to be
carried on deck!
I lean against one of the angles of the wall, for I have
not even a bench to sit on. But as my eyelids are heavy,
and I feel myself giving way to a sort of slumber, I rise.
Rage takes possession of me; I hit the walls with my
clenched fist, I shout. Invain. I do but bruise my hands
against the bolts on the plates, and my cries bring no one.
Yes! that is unworthy of me. I had determined to
restrain myself, and there, I begin by losing my self-
possession and behave like a child.
The absence of pitching and rolling proves with certainty
â€œWHERE AM 1?â€ 93
that the ship has not yet reached the open sea. Can it be
that instead of crossing the Sound it has reascended the
course of the Neuse? No! If Roch has been taken
forcibly from Healthful House, it means that his captors
intend to hurry him away from the United Statesâ€”
probably to some distant island in the Atlantic, or to some
point on the continent of Europe. So then it is not the
Neuse, whose course is of no great length, that our marine
apparatus is ascending. We are on the waters of the
Sound in a dead calm.
But when the vessel reaches the open sea it cannot
escape the motion of the swell, which, even if there be no
wind, is always felt by ships of average size, Short of my
being on board a cruiser or an ironclad !â€”and that is not
the case, I imagine.
At this moment it seems to meâ€”indeed I cannot be
deceivedâ€”a sound comes from the inside, a sound of foot-
steps. The steps approach the iron wall in which is
the door. These are some of the crew. Is the door
going to open at last? I listen. People are speaking,
and I hear their voices, but I cannot understand them.
They speak a language unknown tome. I call, I shoutâ€”
no answer !
There is nothing then but to waitâ€”waitâ€”wait. Oh
that word, I repeat it and it sounds in my head like the
clapper of a bell!
Let me try to calculate the time that has passed. It
cannot be less than four or five hours since the vessel had
begun to move. According to this estimate it is past
94 FOR THE FLAG
midnight. Unfortunately, my watch is useless to me in
the midst of such darkness.
Now if we have been sailing for five hours the ship must
have got beyond Pamlico Sound, whether it had come
out by Ocracoke Inlet or by Hatteras Inlet. I conclude we
are out at sea, a good mile at least from the coast, and
yet I do not feel the ocean swell. This is incom-
prehensible. Let me seeâ€”can I be mistaken? Am I
under a delusion? Am I not shut up in the depths of
the hold of a ship in motion?
Another hour passes, and suddenly the tremor of the
machinery ceases. I am aware that the vessel has ceased
to move. Has it reached its destination? In that case it
can only be in one of the ports of the coast north or south
of Pamlico Sound. But whyshould Thomas Roch, being
taken forcibly away from Healthful House, be brought
back to land? The abduction must have become known
outside, and its authorsâ€™ delay would expose themselves to
the danger of discovery by the authorities of the Union.
And then, if the vessel is actually at anchor, I shall
presently hear the noise of the chain through the hawse-
hole, and when she swings to her anchor there will be a
shockâ€”a shock which I wait for and shall feel. It must
come in a few minutes.
I wait! I listen !
Nothing; a dismal and alarming silence reigned on
board. I ask myself,am I the only living being in this
A kind of stupor comes over me; the atmosphere is
â€œ*WHERE AM 1?â€ 95
vitiatedâ€”my breathing becomes difficultâ€” my chest feels
crushed by a weight from which I cannot free myself.
I want to resist; it is impossible. I am obliged to
stretch myself in a corner and to remove some of my
clothes, so hot has the place become. My eyelids grow
heavy, they close, and I fall into a state of prostration,
which is followed by a deep sleep.
How long have I slept? I donâ€™t know. Is it day, or is
it night? Iam unable to guess; but I notice in the first
place that my breathing is easier. My lungs are full ofair
which is not poisoned with carbonic acid.
Had the air been renewed while I slept? Had the
compartment been opened? Had someone entered the
Yes; and I have the proof of this. My hand, by
chance, has touched an object, a receptacle full of some
liquid that smells invitingly. I raise it to my lips which
are burning, for I am tormented by thirst, and at this
moment would have been thankful for brackish water!
It is aleâ€”excellent aleâ€”which refreshes me, cheers me.
I drink a whole pint of it.
But since I am clearly not condemned to die of thirst,
I suppose I am not condemned to die of hunger.
No; in one of the corners a basket has been placed,
-and in it I find a hunch of bread and a slice of cold meat.
I eatâ€”I eat eagerlyâ€”and my strength comes back by
Decidedly I am not so forsaken as I might have been.
Some one has entered this dark hole, and a little of the
96 FOR THE FLAG
oxygen from outside, without which I should have heen
asphyxiated, has come in through the door. Then suffi-
cient nourishment was placed at my disposal to appease
my hunger and thirst until the time of my release.
How much longer is this imprisonment to last? Hours
It is impossible for me to calculate what time has
passed during my sleep or to know what oâ€™clock it is now.
I had been careful to wind my watch, but it was not a
repeater. Perhaps by feeling the handsâ€”? Yes; it seems
to me that the small hand points to eightâ€”in the morning,
I am certain the vessel is no longer in motion. There is
not the slightest quiver on boardâ€”this shows that the pro-
peller is at rest.
Still the hours are passing, interminable hours, and I
wonder whether these men are waiting for the night before
they come again to my den as they had already done
while I slept, and to bring me meat and drink. Yes, they
want to avail themselves of my sleep. .
This time I am determinedâ€”I will resist. I will pre-
tend to sleepâ€”and I shall force any one who enters to
I AM in the open air and breathing with all the strength
of my lungs. Iam at last released from that suffocating
box, and I stand on a shipâ€™s deck. I scan the horizon
instantly, but no land is to be seen. Nothing but the
circular line that divides the sea from the sky. -
No, there was not even a sign of the mainland on the
west, on that side where the coast of North America
extends for thousands of miles !
The sun is sinking, and casts its slanting rays on the
surface of the ocean. It must be about six o'clock. I
consult my watch. Yes, it is half-past six.
This is what happened during that night, the 16th of
I waited, as I said, for the door to open, firmly resolved
not to yield to sleep. I had no doubt that it was then
light, and the day advancing, while no one came. Of the
food that had been supplied to me nothing remained, and
I began to be hungry, but not thirsty, for I still had a
little of the ale.
After I awoke, certain quiverings of the hull convinced
98 FOR THE FLAG
me that the vessel, after remaining stationary from the
night before, was again in motionâ€”probably in some
deserted creek on the coast, since I had not felt the shocks
that accompany the operation of anchoring.
It was then six oâ€™clock, when I heard steps behind the
iron partition. Was somebody coming in? Yes; I heard
the grating of the lock, and the door opened. The light
of a lantern dispelled the profound darkness in which I
had been plunged since my arrival on board. Two men
appeared, but I had no time to observe their faces. They
seized me by the arms and covered my head with a thick
wrapper, so that it was impossible for me to see anything.
What was the meaning of this precaution? What were
they going to do with me? I tried to struggle, but they
held me firmly. I asked questions, but I could get no
answer, The men exchanged some words in a language
I did not understand.
They showed me very little consideration. But why
should they trouble themselves about so inferior a person
as a keeper in a lunatic asylum? Still, I am not quite
sure that Simon Hart the engineer would have fared
better at their hands.
This time, however, they did not gag me. They
contented themselves with holding me tightly, and I could
An instant afterwards I was dragged out of the iron den,
and pushed through a narrow passage. Under my feet
I felt the steps of a metal ladder. Then a keen air struck
my face, and behind the wrapper I breathed eagerly.
ON DECK 99
I was lifted under the arms, and placed on a floor not
made of metal plates, but evidently the deck of a ship.
Then I was released from the grasp of the two men. I
was free to move, and I instantly tore the cloth from my
head and looked around me.
I was on, board a schooner in full sail, whose track left
a long white streak on the waters.
I had to hold on by one of the back stays to. prevent
myself from falling, for my eyes were dazzled by the
daylight after my forty-eight hoursâ€™ imprisonment in utter
On the deck rough-looking men were passing to and
froâ€”men of types so different that I could not assign an
origin to them. They hardly took any notice of me.
At the stern of the vessel, a schooner of three hundred
tons, a man with a swarthy face was atthe helm. His
grasp on the handles of the wheel steadied the ship against
the constant and violent lurches.
I would have liked to read the name of the vessel; it
looked like a sporting yacht. Was it written on the
boards in the stern or on the boards in the bow ?
I advanced towards one of the sailors and asked,â€”
â€œ What is the name of this vessel ?â€
No answer. I have reason to think the man did not
â€˜Where is the captain ?â€ I added.
The sailor treated the second question as he had treated
the first. â€”
I went towards the bows.
I0O FOR THE FLAG
There above the uprights of the windlass hung a bell.
On the bronze of that bell, perhaps, the name might be
_ There was no name!
_I went back to the stern, and addressing the man at the
wheel, I renewed my question.
He gave me a surly look, shrugged his shoulders,
and, without a word, steadied himself to bring up the
schooner, which had been thrown to larboard by a
I thought of Thomas Roch. I looked for him. He
was not to be seen. Was he not on the ship? That
would be incomprehensible. Why should they only carry
off Gaydon the keeper from Healthful House? No one
could have suspected that I was Simon Hart, the engineer,
and even if the fact were known, whose interest could it
be to carry me off, and what was to be expected of me?
So then, seeing that the inventor is not on the deck, J fall
to thinking that he must be shut up in one of the cabins,
and perhaps receiving more-attention than his ex-keeper !
Let me observe the trim of the schooner.
Why did it not strike me at first that the sails are furled,
not an inch of canvas is spread, the wind has fallen, the
occasional puffs that come from the east are contrary, as
her head was pointing in that direction. Yet, nevertheless,
the schooner is skimming rapidly, her bows cutting the
water while her stem ploughs the sea, and the foam
rushes along the sides.
Is this vessel a steam yacht? No! No funnel rises
The man at the helm.
ON DECK 103
between its main and fore masts? Is it a boat worked by
electricity, with either a battery of accumulators or coils of
considerable power, which work its screw and give it such
In fact, I cannot account for this navigation in any
other way. In any case, since the propeller can only bea
screw, I shall see it working by leaning over the taffrail,
and I shall then have only to recognize the mechanical
source of the movement.
The man at the wheel glances at me scornfully, but
allows me to approach.
I lean over and I seeâ€”
Not a trace of the boiling and whirling which the rota-
tion of the screw produces. Nothing but a smooth track
extending for three or four cable-lengths, such as a ship in
full sail leaves behind her. But what is the motor that
drives the schooner with such marvellous speed? I have
said that the wind is unfavourable, and the sea rolling in
long, unbroken undulations.
I will know, however, and, as the crew take no notice
of me, I again turn towards the bows.
As I reached the companion I found myself in the
presence of a man whose face was not unknown to me.
With his arms resting on the edge of the skylight, he
watched me as I draw near.
He seems waiting for me to speak.
My memory comes back again. This is the man who
accompanied Count dâ€™Artigas on his visit to Healthful
House. Yes! there is no mistake.
104 FOR THE FLAG
So, it is this rich foreigner who has kidnapped
Thomas Roch, and I am on board his yacht, the Â£da, so
well known in the East American latitudes. Be it so!
The man before me shall tell me all I have the right to
know. I remember that he and the Count spoke English.
He will understand me, and he cannot refuse to answer my
I conclude that the man is the captain of the Edda,
and address him thus,â€”
â€œCaptain, it was you I saw at Healthful House in the
French inventorâ€™s pavilion. Do you recognize me?â€
He merely stares at me, but makes no answer.
â€œT am Gaydon, the keeper,â€ I continued, â€œthe atten-
dant of M. Roch, and I wish to know why you have
carried me off and put me on board this schooner ?â€
The Captain interrupts me by a sign ; and the sign was
not even addressed to me, but to some sailors posted near
They came up, took me by the arm, and without
troubling themselves about the anger which I could not dis-
guise, they forced me to go down the ladder which was
composed of perpendicular iron bars. On the passage on
each side a door opened.
Were they going to plunge me once more into the black
hole which I had already occupied, at the bottom of the
I turn to the left, and the men push me into a cabin
lighted by one of the small port-holes in the side hull,
which is open. The furniture consists of a bunk with its
ON DECK 107
bedding, a table, an armchair, a dressing-table, a cupboard
â€”everything very clean.
The table is laid for a meal. I have only to sit down,
and as the cookâ€™s assistant is about to retire after placing
the dishes, I speak to him.
The boy, a negro, is also mute; perhaps he does not
understand my language.
The door closes upon him, I eat with appetite, post-
poning until later those questions which cannot be left un-
answered for ever. I am still a prisonerâ€”this time under
infinitely more comfortable conditions, which will, I think,
continue until we reach our destination.
After this, I applied myself to thinking, and my chief
point was that Count dâ€™Artigas had planned the abduction.
He is, I said to myself, the kidnapper of Thomas Roch,
and no doubt the French inventor is installed in an equally
comfortable cabin on board the Edda.
Now, who is this personage? Where does he come
from? He has carried off Thomas Roch, because. he is
resolved, at any price, to find out the secret of the Fulgu-
rator. Hecan have no other motive. I must take care
not to betray my identity, for all chance of regaining my
liberty would be lost, were they to learn the truth about
But there are mysteries to solve, and there is the inex-
plicable to explainâ€”who Dâ€™Artigas is, what are his future
intentions, the course that the schooner is following, the
port she belongs to, and also her navigation, without sail
or screw, at a rate of ten miles an hour!
r08 FOR THE FLAG
With the evening a fresher breeze blew in through the
port-hole of my cabin. JI shut it, and since my door was
barred on the outside, the only thing I could do was to lie
down and sleep on the bosom of the Atlantic, to the
gentle oscillations of the Bdda.
The next day I rose at dawn, proceeded to make my
toilet, and when dressed I waited.
Suddenly I bethought me of ascertaining whether the
door of my cabin was fastened.
No! It wasnot. I pushed it open; I climbed up the
ladder and reached the deck.
In the stern, while the sailors were washing the deck,
two men, one of whom was the captain, were chatting.
The latter showed no surprise on seeing me, and pointed
me out by a nod to his companion.
The other, whom I had never seen, was an individual of
fifty ; hair and beard black, with threads of silver ; a shrewd,
ironical face, a quick eye, and an intelligent counte-
nance. He resembled the Greek type, and I had no longer
doubt that he was of Hellenic origin when I heard him
called SerkÃ©6â€”SerkÃ©, the engineerâ€”by the Â£Ã©aâ€™s captain,
whose name is Spade. This name is probably derived
from the Italian Spada. So we have a Greek, an Italian,
a crew composed of men recruited from every corner of
the globe, embarked on a schooner with a Norwegian
name. This seems to me suspicious.
And Count dâ€™Artigas, with his Spanish name and his
Asiatic typeâ€”where does he come from?
The captain and the â€˜engineer conversed in low tones.
ON DECK 109
The former was closely observing the man at the wheel,
who apparently had not to trouble himself about the
compass before his eyes. He seemed rather to obey the
signs. of one of the sailors in the prow, who indicated to
him how he was to steer.
M. Roch was standing near the capstan, looking out
upon the wide, lonely sea, with no land upon its horizon.
Two sailors stood near, keeping him in sight. Anything
might happen to the madman. He might even throw
I did not know whether I should be permitted to com-
municate with my former patient.
As I advanced towards him Spade and Serko observed
me, but they did not interfere with me.
I joined Thomas Roch, who did not see me coming, and
I stood by his side. ,
He did not seem to recognize me, for he made not the
slightest movement. His eyes shone with a feverish light
as he scanned the horizon. He was evidently glad to
breathe this life-giving atmosphere charged with ozone ; his
chest expanded as he breathed. Brilliant sunshine flooded
the cloudless sky. Was he aware of the change in his
situation ? Had he already forgotten Healthful House, the
pavilion where he was a prisoner, and Gaydon his keeper?
It seemed so; his appearance and attitude implied that
the past was. gone from his memory, and that he lived in
the present only. But even on the deck of the Â£dda, in the
midst of the open sea, he was still the irresponsible being
whom I had watched and tended for eighteen months.
1Io FOR THE FLAG
His mental state had not changed, his reason would not
return until his discoveries were mentioned to him. Count
dâ€™Artigas was aware of his state of mind, and was
evidently relying upon it to enable him to detect the
inventorâ€™s secret sooner or later.
But what could he do with it ?
I addressed him,â€”
My voice made an impression on him, and after fixing
his eyes on me for a moment, he turned them away
I took his hand and pressed it; but he withdrew it
hurriedly, moved off without having recognized meâ€”and
walked towards the stern where the engineer and the captain
Was he about to address one of the two men? and if
they spoke to him, would he answer ?
Just then a gleam of intelligence came into his face, and
his attention was attractedâ€”I did not doubtâ€”by the
extraordinary sailing of the schooner.
His eyes ran over the masts with their furled sails as the
Ebba glided rapidly over the surface of these smooth
waters. Hethen stepped back, turned,and went to the place
where the funnel, had the Â£4da been a steam yacht, should
have been; a funnel emitting clouds of black smoke.
The fact that had appeared so strange to me struck
M. Roch also. He could not understand what I had found
inexplicable, and as I had done, he went to the stern to
see the working of the screw.
ON DECK TIt
On each side of the schooner a â€œschoolâ€ of porpoises
gambolled. Fast though the #4Ã©a was going, these nimble
creatures passed her without difficulty, tumbling and turn-
ing somersaults in their native element with marvellous
But Roch did not even glance at them as he leant over
the netting. SerkÃ© and Spade hurried to him, and fearing
lest he should fall overboard, they held him firmly and
brought him back to the deck.
I noticed besidesâ€”for I knew the symptoms wellâ€”that
the inventor was strongly excited. He turned round and
round, he gesticulated and uttered incoherent words,
addressed to nobody.
It was only too evident that a crisis was comingâ€”an
attack similar to the one he had suffered from on his last
night at Healthful House, and which had had such fatal
consequences. It would be necessary to take him down to
his cabin, and perhaps I might be summoned to administer
the special remedies to which he was accustomed.
In the meantime Serk6 and the captain did not lose sight
of him, but it was evidently their intention to let him alone,
and see what he would do,
He advanced to the mainmast, and after looking in vain
for its sails, he went up to it, threw his arms round it, and
shook it as though he wanted to pull it down.
His excitement was increasing momentarily, inarticulate
cries had succeeded to vague words.
At a word from the captain, two sailors ran to him, and
took him round the body. The schoonerâ€™s men were big,
I12 FOR THE FLAG
strong fellowsâ€”and they- quickly got the better of the
unfortunate lunatic. He was laid on the deck, and the |
two men held him down in spite of his extraordinary
Nothing remained but to carry him to his cabin and
let him sleep until the crisis had passed over. This was
about to be done by the order of another person, whose
voice caught my ear.
I turned round and recognized him.
It was Count dâ€™Artigas; his face was gloomy, and his
attitude was imperious, such as I had noted them at
I went up to him immediately, for I was resolved to
have the explanation which was due to me.
â€œ By what right, sirâ€”?â€ I demanded.
â€œThe right of the stronger,â€™ the Count answered,
And he walked aft, while the sailors carried M. Roch
to his cabin,
CHAPTER VIL. -
TWO DAYS AT SEA.
PERHAPSâ€”if circumstances require itâ€”I shall tell Count
dâ€™Artigas that my name is Simon Hart. Of course, I
may not receive more attention than as Gaydon the
keeper. But this idea needs reflection. I am always
possessed by the thought that as the owner of the Zdda
has carried off the French inventor, it is with the object
of appropriating his discovery, of becoming the sole pos-
sessor of the Roch Fulgurator, for which neither the old
nor the new world would give the excessive, the ridiculous
price demanded. Well! if Thomas Roch should betray
himself, is it not better I should be with him, that I should
keep my post, and perform the duties necessitated by his
state? Yes, I must secure the possibility of seeing every-
thing, of hearing everything, andâ€”who knows ?-â€”of learn-
ing what I failed to learn at Healthful House.
For the present, where is the Â£dda going? That is the
Who is Count dâ€™Artigas? That is the second question.
The first will doubtless be answered in a few days,
considering the rapidity with which this mysterious yacht
Tid FOR THE FLAG
advances, under the action of a propeller whose working
I intend to discover.
As for the second question, it is less certain that I shall
ever elucidate it.
In my opinion, this mysterious personage must have a
special reason for concealment, and Iam afraid I shall
get no hint ofhis nationality. Although the Count speaks
English fluentlyâ€”I had been able to assure myself of that
on his. visit to Pavilion 17â€”-he does so with a rough
vibrating accent not to be found among northern peoples.
It reminds me of nothing I have heard in the course of
my travels in both hemispheresâ€”except, perhaps, that
hardness characteristic of the idioms of the Malay speech ;
indeed, with his dark colour, olive bordering on copper,
his crisp hair, black as ebony, the glance of his deep-set
eyes, that shoots like a dart from motionless pupils, his
tall figure, the squareness of his shoulders, his remarkable
muscular development, denoting great physical strength, it
is not impossible that he may belong to one of the races of
the Far East.
In my opinion Dâ€™Artigas is an assumed name: and
so must be this title of Count. The schooner bears a
Norwegian name, but he certainly is not of Scandinavian
descent. He has nothing in common with- Northern
Europeansâ€”neither their calm physiognomy, nor their
fair hair, nor the mild expression of their pale blue eyes.
Still, whoever he is, this man has carried off Thomas
Rochâ€”and meâ€”and he must have some evil design.
Now, is he acting for a foreign power or in his own
TWO DAYS AT SEA 1I5
interest? Does he only desire to profit by the inven-
tion? That isa third question which I cannot yet answer.
_ By watching closely and listening attentively, I may
resolve it before I am able to escape; that is, if escape
The Â£40a continues to progress in the same unaccount-
able way. I am free to move. backwards and forwards on
the main deck, but Iam never allowed to approach the
fore part of the ship.
In fact, once or twice I wanted to reach the step of the
bowsprit, where, by leaning forward, I might have seen
the stem of the schooner cleave the water, But, evidently
in consequence of orders already given, the sailors of the
watch opposed my passage, and one of them said roughly
â€œBack! back! You hinder the machine! â€
What machine? Thereis none. Did they know I wanted
to find out what kindof propeller the schoonerhad? Captain
Spade, who was a witness of this scene, must surely guess _
that I want to discover his method of navigation.
Even a hospital attendant could not help being much
astonished that a ship without sails or screw should go at
such a rate. However, for some reason or other the fore
part of the deck was forbidden me.
Towards ten oâ€™clock the wind roseâ€”a favourable breeze
from the north-westâ€”and the captain gave his instructions
to the boatswain Effrondat.
Then the latter, with the whistle to his lips, made the
crew haul up the spanker, the foresail and the jibs.
r16 FOR THE FLAG
This could not have been done with greater smartness
_and discipline on board a man-of-war.
The Edda perceptibly increased her speed. Still the
motor had not ceased to work, for the sails were not as
full as they would have been were the schooner driven
by them alone.
The sky was clear, the faint clouds rising in the west
melted away as they reached the zenith, and the sea
shone in the sunlight.
My chief concern is to ascertain as nearly as possible
the course we are taking. I have travelled enough by
sea to be able to calculate the speed of a vessel, and I
estimate that the Â£ddaâ€™s rate must be between ten and
eleven miles. As to her steering direction, it is always the
same, and it is easy to ascertain it by looking at the
binnacle, which stands before the man at the helm. If
Gaydon the keeper is forbidden the fore part of the
Ebba, he is not banished the aft. Often I have been
able to glance at the compass, and its needle invariably
points to the east, or to be more exact, east-south-east.
We are, then, crossing that portion of the Atlantic which
is bounded on the west by the coast of the United States.
I have been racking my memory to recall what islands
or groups lie in this direction between us and the con-
tinent of Europe.
North. Carolina, which the schooner left forty- et
hours ago, is crossed by the thirty-fifth parallel of latitude,
and that prolonged towards the east should, if I am not
mistaken, cross the African coast somewhere near
TWO DAYS AT SEA II7
Morocco. But, on its passage lies the Azores, about
three thousand miles from America. Does the dda
intend to make for this archipelago? is its destination
one of the islands which form the insular possessions of
Portugal? I cannot admit that hypothesis.
Besides, nearer than the Azores, on the line of the thirty-
fifth parallel, at a distance of twelve hundred kilometers
only, the Bermudas are situated. They belong to Eng-
land, and it seems to me. less improbable that if the Count
is in the pay of a European power, that power should be
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Of
course there is always the possibility that this mysterious
individual is acting in his own interests only.
Several times during the day the Count came and stood
inthestern. From thence he closely examined the different
points of the horizon. When a sail or smoke appeared in
the distance, he watched it for a long time through a
powerful sea glass. I may add that he did not even
deign to notice my presence on the deck. From
time to time Captain Spade joined him, and they
exchanged some words in a language I neither under-
stood nor recognized.
It is with Serko, the engineer, who seems to be in his
confidence, that the owner of the 4Ã©da converses most
readily. He is rather loquacious, less repellent, less
reserved, than his companions on board. How does SerkÃ©
come to be on the schooner? Is he a special friend ot
Count dâ€™Artigas? Does he travel about with him,
sharing the enviable existence of a rich yachtsman?
1x8 FOR THE FLAG
SerkÃ©, too, is the only one who manifests, if not a little
sympathy, at least a faint interest in me.
As for the inventor, I did not see him all the morning,
and he must be in his cabin still suffering from yesterdayâ€™s
I was certain of this when towards threeâ€˜oâ€™clock in the
afternoon the Count, as he was about to go down below,
signed to me to approach him,
I did not know what he wanted, but I knew what I was
going to say to him.
â€œDo those paroxysms which M. Roch suffers from last
long ?â€ he asked.
â€œ Sometimes forty-eight hours,â€ I answered,
â€œ What has to be done ?â€ :
â€œNothing but to leave him quiet until he sleeps.
After a nightâ€™s rest the attack is over and then he falls
into his usual callous state.â€
â€œWell, Keeper Gaydon, you will continue your atten-
dance on him as at Healthful House, if necessary.â€
â€œMy attendance ?â€
â€œYesâ€”on board the schoonerâ€”until we have landed.â€
â€œWhere we shall be to-morrow afternoon,â€™ Count
dâ€™ Artigas contented himself with saying.
To-morrow, I thought ; then he is not making for the
coast of Africa, nor even for the Azores! But there still
remained the Bermudas.
The Count had put his foot on the first step of the
companion, when I challenged him in turn.
Count dâ€™Artigas on his quarter-deck,
TWO DAYS AT SEA I21
â€˜â€œ Sir, I wish to knowâ€”I have the right to knowâ€”where
I am goingâ€”andâ€”â€
â€œHere, Keeper Gaydon, you have no rights, and your
only duty is to speak when you are spoken to.â€
â€œProtest, then!â€ replied the imperious and haughty
individual, and he threw me an evil look.
As he descended the companion I found myself in the
presence of Serko.
â€œIf I werein your place, Keeper Gaydon, I would resign
myself,â€ he said smiling. â€œWhen a man is caught in a
â€œ He may cry out, I suppose.â€
â€˜â€œâ€˜ What is the useâ€”when no one is within hearing.â€
â€œThey will hear by-and-by, sir!â€
â€œBy-and-by means waiting! However, cry out as much
as you please!â€
With this sarcastic advice the engineer left me to my
At four oâ€™clock a large vessel was sighted six miles to
the eastward, on a contrary tack to ours. Her speed was
rapid, and it increased as we watched her. Great swirls
of black smoke rushed from her two chimneys. The
vessel was a man-of-war, for a narrow pennant flew
from the masthead, and even although no flag waved
from the gaff, I thought I recognized an American
I wondered whether the Â£dda would make the usual
salute when the big ship crossed her course.
122 FOR THE FLAG
She did not, and at that moment the schooner began to
draw off with the evident intention of getting away.
These manners did not astonish me on the part of so
suspicious a yacht; but what I did observe with the
greatest surprise was the behaviour of Captain Spade.
After going to the bows near the windlass, he stopped
before a little signalling apparatus similar to those used
for conveying orders to the engine-room of a steamer.
Immediately on his pressing one of the buttons of this
apparatus, the #dda fetched a point towards the south-east
and at the same time the sheets were slackened slowly by
Evidently an order of some kind had been transmitted
to the engine-man of the machine which gives the schooner
the inexplicable impetus, under the action of some kind
of motor whose principle still escapes me.
The result of this manceuvre was that the Â£dda bore off
obliquely from the cruiser, whose course had not been
changed. Why should a man-of-war have sought to turn
a pleasure yacht, which could excite no suspicion, from its
But the Â£Ã©da behaved in quite a different fashion when
about six oâ€™clock at night a second ship appeared on
the port side. This time, instead of avoiding it, Captain
Spade sent another order by means of the apparatus, and
we turned again to the eastâ€”which would bring us into
the vicinity of the vessel.
An hour later the two ships were abreast of each other
at a distance of three or four miles.
TWO DAYS AT SEA Â» 123
The wind had then fallen. The ship, which was a
three-masted merchant vessel, was engaged in furling
her top-sails. It was useless to expect a breeze before
morning, and on the morrow the three-master would
necessarily be in the same place. The dba, worked by
her mysterious propeller, continued to approach the
When night began to fall the two vessels were not more
than a mile and a half apart.
Our captain then came to where I was standing,
and without any ceremony ordered me to go to my cabin.
I could only obey. However, before leaving the deck
I observed that the boatswain had not ordered the position
lights to be shown, though the three-master was already
showing hersâ€”a green light on the port, a red light on
the starboard side.
I had no doubt the yacht intended to slip past the
stranger unperceived, Her speed had been lessened, but
her course was not altered.â€™ I calculated that the Edda
had made two hundred miles to the eastward since the
night before. I entered my cabin with a vague feeling of
apprehension. My supper was on the table, but I was
uneasy, I knew not why, and scarcely touched it. I went
to bed and waited for the sleep that would not come.
This state of disquiet lasted for two hours. .The silence
was broken only by the quivering of the schooner, the
murmur of the water as it lapped against the hull, and the
slight motion as we passed over the surface of that peaceful
I24 .- FOR THE FLAG
My mind, haunted by the remembrance of all that had
happened during the last two days, could find no rest.
To-morrow afternoon we should beâ€œ there.â€ To-morrow,
when my attendance on M. Roch was to begin again â€œif
necessary,â€ as my captor had said.
After some time, about ten oâ€™clock I think, I felt that
the schooner had stopped.
Why? When Captain Spade ordered me to leave the
deck there was no land in view.
The charts showed only the Bermudas in that direction,
and at nightfall we were fifty or sixty miles short of the
distance at which the look-out man could sight them.
Besides, not only was our progress suspended, but the
Â£bba was almost motionless. Scarcely the faintest roll
from side to side was to be felt. The swell was imper-
ceptible, and not a puff of wind passed over the sea.
My mind reverted to the trading vessel, a mile away
when I entered my cabin, If the schooner continued to
-bear down upon her she must have reached her, and now
there ought only to be one or two cable lengths between
the two ships, for the merchant vessel, which had been
becalmed before sunset, could not change her position.
She must be there, and if the night were clear I should see
her through the port-hole.
It occurred to me that I might avail myself of this
opportunity. Why should I not try to escape since all
hope of recovering my liberty was denied me? I cannot
swim, it is true; but after jumping into the sea with
one of the buoys on board, would it be impossible for
Signalling on board the Zd0a.
TWO DAYS AT SEA I27
me to reach the merchantman, provided I escape the
vigilance of the watch?
In the first place I had to get out of my cabin, and to
climb up the ladder. I heard no noise in the menâ€™s
quarters nor from the deck. Themen should be asleep by
this time. I would try!
But when I tried to open the door of my cabin I dis-
covered that it was fastened on the outside, as I might
I had to renounce a project which, indeed, had against
it many chances of failure. The best thing to do was to
sleep, for I was very tired in mind if not in body, suffering
as I was from incessant anxiety and associations of con-
I must have fallen asleep, for I was aroused by a noise
such as I had never heard before on board the schooner.
The dawn was beginning to come in through the glass
in my port-hole, which faced the east. I consulted my
watch, It was half-past four.
My first question was whether the Â£dda was under way.
No, certainly; neither with her sails nor her propeller.
I must have been conscious of any movement. Besides,
the sea appeared as tranquil at sunrise as it had been the
night before at sunset. Ifthe 2a had advanced while I
slept, she was certainly motionless now.
The noise which I alluded to was of rapid comings and
goings on deck, the footsteps of men carrying loads. At
the same time it seemed to me a like commotion filled
the hold under the floor of my cabin, to which the great
128 FOR THE FLAG
hatches behind the foremast gave access. I could also
make out that something was grazing against the side of
the yacht, against the part of her hull that is above the
water. Could it be that there were boats alongside?
Were the men engaged in loading or unloading merchan-
And yet, it was not possible that we had reached our
destination. Count dâ€™Artigas said the dda would be
â€œthereâ€ in twenty-four hours; and, I repeat, the night
before we were fifty or sixty miles from the nearest land,
the Bermudas. That we had turned back towards the
west and were now close to the American coast was
inadmissible, even allowing for the distance. Then I have
reason to believe the schooner had remained stationary all
night. . Before going to sleep I noted that she had just
stopped, and I remarked at this moment that she had not
_ Was I to be permitted to go on deck? I did not think
it probable that I should be prevented from going out
when daylight came.
An hour passed. My cabin was now. lighted by the
morning sun. I looked outâ€”a slight haze covered the
sea; but it was fast fading away under the first warmth of
As my view extended for a range of half a mile, if the
â€˜three-master was not visible that would mean that she lay
on the port side of the Â£dda, where I could not see her.
Then I heard a grating sound, and the key turned in the
lock. I pushed the door open, I climbed up the iron
Land in sight.
TWO DAYS AT SEA I31I
ladder, and I put my foot on the deck at the moment the
men were closing the hatches.
I looked round for the Count. He was not there; he
had not left his cabin. :
Captain Spade and SerkÃ©, the engineer, were superintend-
ing the stowage away aft of some bales, which had doubt-
less just been taken out of the hold. This would explain
the noise I heard on awakening. It was evident that the
crew had begun to bring up the ee: so our arrival must
be near at hand.
We were then not far from the port, and the schooner
would anchor there in a few hours.
And the sailing vessel that was on our port quarterâ€”it
should be there still, for the wind had not risen since the
I turned my eyes in that direction.
The merchantman had disappeared. Nota ship was in
sight, not even a sail on the horizon, either to the north
or to the south.
On reflection the only explanation I could find, and that
was to be accepted with reserve, was that, unknown to me,
the Â£da had continued her course while I slept, leaving
the three-master behind, since she was becalmed.
I shall beware of questioning either Captain Spade or
Serko on the subject ; they would not deign to favour me
with an answer.
Besides, at that moment the Captain approached the
signal apparatus, and pressed one of the buttons on the
upper side. Almost immediately the Adda received a
132 FOR THE FLAG
perceptible shock in the bows, and with her sails still
furled she renewed her mysterious progress eastwards.
Two hours later Count dâ€™Artigas appeared at the top of
the companion and took his usual place near the taffrail.
Spade and SerkÃ© went to him immediately, and ney
exchanged some words.
All three levelled their glasses and examined the horizon
from the south-east to the north-east.
I, too, turned my eyes in that direction; but having no
glasses in my possession I could see nothing,
The midday meal being ended, we returned to the deck.
â€”all, with the exception of M. Roch, who had not left
Towards half-past one, land was sighted by the look-
out. As the Â£dda raced at full speed I soon descried the
first outline of the coast. Two hours afterwards a faint
outline appeared at less than eight miles distance, and
became more clearly defined as we approached. It was
the outline of a mountain. From its summit a wreath of
smoke escaped and floated towards the zenith.
A volcano in these latitudes?
What can this mean ?
IN my opinion the Z44a could come upon no other group
than the Bermudas in this part of the Atlantic, both
because of the distance from the American coast, and of
the direction followed since leaving Pamlico Sound. We
have steered steadily to the south-east, and the distance
travelled may be put down approximately at nine hundred
However, the schooner did not slacken her speed.
Count dâ€™Artigas and SerkÃ© stood in the stern close to the
steersman. The Captain had taken up his position in the
Were we going to pass this island which appeared
isolated, and leave it to the westward ?
That was not likely, since it was the day and the hour
mentioned for our arrival at our destination.
At this moment all the sailors were drawn up on the
deck ready to work, and Effrondat made his arrangements
for immediate anchorage.
â€œIn two hours time,â€ I said to myself, â€œI shall know
what to think, and then the first of those questions which
134 FOR THE FLAG
have absorbed my mind ever since the Â£6da put out to sea
will be solved.â€
Yet that the yachtâ€™s port of discharge is really situated
in one of the Bermudas in the midst of an English archi-
pelago is improbableâ€”unless the Count had carried off
Thomas Roch for the benefit of Great Britainâ€”an almost
One thing was certain; that eccentric individual was
watching me with a persistence which was, to say the
least, singular. Although he could not suspect that I am
Simon Hart, the engineer, he must wonder what I think of
this adventure. Gaydon the keeper may be an utterly
insignificant person, but he will be as anxious about his
fate as any gentlemanâ€”were he even the proprietor of
this fantastic pleasure yacht. Still I was a little surprised,
not to say disconcerted, by the persistence of that in-
If Count dâ€™Artigas could have guessed the light which
had just burst upon my mind, I am not at all sure that he
would have hesitated to have had me thrown overboard.
Prudence required me to be more circumspect than
In fact, although I had not laid myself open to the least
suspicionâ€”even in the mind of SerkÃ©, quick and cunning
as he isâ€”a corner of the mysterious veil had been lifted.
The future was illumined by a faint glimmer.
As the 4a approached, the shape of this island, or
rather islet, was distinctly outlined against the clear
background of the sky. The sun, which had passed its
meridian, bathed its western side. The islet is solitary, or
at least neither in the north nor in the south did I see any
group to which it would belong. As the distance lessened,
the angle at which it was seen widened, while the horizon
sank beliind it. ;
This oddly-shaped islet resembled an up-turned cup,
and from the bottom gushed a stream of fuliginous vapour.
â€™ Its summitâ€”the bottom of the cup, if you likeâ€”was more
than three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and its.
steep sides were as bare as the surf-beaten rocks at the
One natural feature renders this island recognizable
by navigators who sight it from the west; it is a rock,
forming a natural arch, which seems to supply the handle
to the cup, and gives passage to the whirling spray of the
waves, as it does to the rays of the sun when its disc rises
above the eastern horizon. When seen under these con-
ditions the islet quite justifies its name of Backcup.
Well, I knew the island, and I recognized it. It is
situated in the Bermudas. It is the â€œ up-turned cup â€
that I had had occasion to visit some years ago. No, I
am not mistaken! At that time my feet trod those rocks
and wound their way around its eastern base. Yes, it is
Had I possessed less self-ccntrol I should have given
way to an exclamation of surprise and of satisfaction
which would have made the Count uneasy, with good
I will mention here the circumstances under which I
136 FOR THE FLAG
was led to explore the island of Backcup at the time
when I visited the Bermudas.
This group, situated about six hundred miles from North
Carolina, consists of some two hundred isles and islets.
Since the wreck of Summers, the Englishman who was cast
ashore there in 1609, the Bermudas have belonged to
England, and in consequence the colonial population has
increased to 10,000 inhabitants. It was not forits products
of cotton, coffee, indigo, and arrowroot that Great Britain
annexed these islands; but because it offered unique advan-
tages as a naval station in proximity to the United States.
The taking possession was accomplished without an objec-
tion being raised by the other powers. /\nd now its affairs
are administered by a British Governor with the assistance
of a Council and a General Assembly.
The principal islands of the group are called St. David,
Somerset, Hamilton, and St. George. The latter possesses
a free port, and the town called by the same name is also
the capital of the group.
The largest island is not more than twelve and a half
miles long by two anda half miles broad; and, with the
exception of those already enumerated, the remainder
form an agglomeration of islets and reefs scattered over
an area of thirty square miles.
Though the climate of the Bermudas is very mild and
salubrious, the frightful storms of the Atlantic sweep over
the islands in winter, and render the approaches difficult
for ships. The greatest defect in the Bermudas is the
absence of rivers and streams. Still, since rain falls in
â€˜ BACKCUP 139
abundance the inhabitants have remedied the want by
collecting water for the requirements of the people and
the exigencies of cultivation. This has necessitated the
construction of immense reservoirs, which the rain fills to
overflowing with inexhaustible generosity. These works
deserve great admiration and do honour to the genius of
It was precisely. the formation of these reservoirs, and
also my curiosity to see this fine work, that occasioned
my previous voyage.
I obtained some weeksâ€™ leave from the company for
whom I acted as engineer in New Jersey, and I set sail
from New York for the Bermudas.
During my stay at Hamilton Island, a phenomenon
of geological interest occurred in the vast port of South-
One day a whole flotilla freighted with fisher-people,
men, women, and children, appeared in Southampton
For fifty years these families had lived on that part of
the coast of Backcup which faced the east, where they
had built wooden huts and stone houses. The inhabitants
had every facility for gaining their livelihood in these
fish-abounding waters, and the sperm whales which
frequented the Bermudan latitudes during the months
of March and April were a chief source of sustenance.
Nothing until then had disturbed either the tranquility
or the industry of the fishermen. They did not complain
of the hardship of their lives, which was alleviated by
140 FOR THE FLAG
the facility of communication with Hamilton and St.
George. Their strong boats, rigged like cutters, exported
the fish,and imported in exchange various commodities
needed for their support.
Why, then, had they abandoned the islet, and without
any intention of ever returning ? Were they no longer in
Two months before, the fisher folk had been at first sur-
prised and afterwards alarmed by hollow rumblings which
came from the interior of Backcup. At the same time
smoke and flames issued from the top of the islandâ€”
the bottom of the up-turned cup. Now no one had
suspected that the island was of volcanic origin, or that
its summit former a crater, because its sides were so
steep it was impossible to scale them. But it could
no longer be doubted that Backcup was an old volcano,
and now threatened the village with an immediate
During those two months the internal noises increased,
the rocky foundation of the island trembled perceptibly,
long jets of flame issued from the craterâ€”generally at
nightâ€”and sometimes there were formidable explosions.
Such symptoms were the unmistakable preface to a violent
The families exposed to this imminent catastrophe, on a
sea-beach which offered no shelter from the streams of lava,
and fearing the complete destruction of Backcup, lost no
time in making their escape.
They placed all their possessions on the fishing sloops
and setting sail they sought refuge in Southampton
Throughout the Bermudas there was consternation at
the news of a volcano, dormant for centuries, and now
about to becomeactive at the western extremity of the group.
But, at the same time as the terror of some became mani-
fest the curiosity of others was aroused. I was one of the
latter. It was important, also, to study the phenomenon
in order to ascertain whether the fishermen had not exag-
gerated the consequences.
Backcup, which rose abruptly at the west of the
Bermudas, was connected with them by a string of
tiny islands and reefs, inaccessible from the east. It
could not be seen from either. Hamilton or St. George,
as its summit did not exceed three hundred feet in
A cutter from Southampton Harbour conveyed usâ€”
some explorers, and myselfâ€”to its shore, where the cabins,
deserted by the fisher folk, stood. The internal thunder
was still to be heard,and a cloud of smoke escaped from
We had no doubt in our minds: the extinct volcano of
Backcup was rekindled under the action of subterranean
fire. An eruption might happen any day.
We tried in vain to reach the orifice of the volcano.
But ascent was impossible on those declivities, abrupt,
smooth, and slippery, offering no hold for foot or hand, and
profiling at an angle of seventy-five or eighty degrees. I
never saw anything more barren than that carapace of rock,
142 FOR THE FLAG
on which only an occasional tuft of wild lucerne grew in
parts that were slightly damp.
After many fruitless efforts we tried to make the tour of
the island. But except where the fishermen had built
their village the base was impassable on account of the
fallen rock on the north, south and east.
Our reconnoitring of the island was. then reduced to
that very inadequate survey. On seeing the smoke and
flame escape from the crater, while the rumblings and
occasional explosions shook the interior, we could only
praise the foresight of the fishers who had abandoned the
island while there was time.
Under these circumstances was I led to visit Backcup,
and no one will be surprised that I was able to identify the
islet the moment the extraordinary structure offered itself
to my gaze.
I am sure it would not have pleased Count dâ€™Artigas had
Gaydon the keeper recognized the island, supposing the
Ebba was going to put in there, which, for want. of a port,
seemed very probable.
Backcup, whither no Bermudan had returned, was
absolutely deserted, and I could not imagine why. the
Â£bba was putting into port here.
Perhaps, after all, the Count and his companions had no
_intention of landing. Even in case the schooner did. find
temporary shelter among the rocks in a narrow creek, was
it likely that a rich yachtsman would set up his residence
on.this arid zone, exposed to the awful tempests of the
West Atlantic? To live in that place would be well
E BACKCUP 143
enough for rude fishermen, but not for Count dâ€™Artigas,
Serko the engineer, Captain Spade and his crew.
Backcup was only halfa mile away. Its aspect bears
no resemblance to the other islands of the group under the
dark verdure of their hills. Only rarely in some cleft or
hollow a juniper tree appears, or some stunted speci-
mens of those cedars which constitute the wealth of the
Bermudas. The rocks at the base were covered with thick
layers of sea-wrack and seaweed continually renewed -by
the deposit of the waves; there were also enormous
quantities of the string-like seaweeds and others brought
from the sea of Sargasso and the currents between the
Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands. The only inha-
bitants of this desolate isle were birds, bull-finches, and
â€œMota cyllas cyalisâ€ of blueish plumage, while myriads of
gulls passed on rapid wing through the whirling vapours of
When she was within two cablesâ€™ length the schooner
was slowed. and stopped at the entrance of a passage
between rocks on a level with the water.
I wondered whether the Â£dda were going to attempt to
navigate that tortuous passage.
No, it was the most probable supposition that after a
wait of some hoursâ€”for what reason I did not guessâ€”she
would again resume her course to the east.
No preparations were being made foranchorage. The
anchor remained at the cathead, the chains were in their
places, the crew was not getting ready to lower the boats.
At that moment Count dâ€™Artigas, Serk6, and the Captain
144 . FOR THE FLAG
walked up to the bows, and then something happened
which was inexplicable to me.
Observing their movements, my eyes fell on a small
floating buoy which one of the sailors was hauling on to
Almost immediately the water, which was very clear in
that spot, darkened, and a sort of black mass arose from
the bottom. Was it an enormous whale coming to breathe
at the surface, and was the Â£dda in danger of a stroke from
its mighty tail ?
Then I understood all! Then I knew to what engine
the schooner owed her remarkable speed without screw
or sails. This was her indefatigable propeller emerging
from the depths after having dragged us from the American
coast to the Bermudas! There it was, floating at our side,
a submarine boat, an under-water tug driven. by a screw
under the action of the current, either of a battery, of
accumulators, or of those powerful coils now in use.
On the upper part of this tugâ€”a long iron cylinderâ€”a
platform extended, and an opening in its centre established
communication with the interior. From the front. of this
platform projected a periscope, a look-out, a kind of
binnacle whose walls, pierced â€˜with port-holes with
lenticular glasses, enabled electric light to be shed into
Now, relieved, lightened of its salt-water ballast, the tug
had come to the surface, The principal hatch was going
to be opened and fresh air would penetrate the whole
vessel. And even supposing it is submerged all day,
The tug alongs
perhaps it rises at night and tows the Zda on the surface
of the ocean.
There is one question, however. Ifthe mechanical force
of the tug is produced by electricity there must be a
storage of force, whatever its origin. Now where is this
storage? Itcannot be on Backcup, surely? Besides, why
does the schooner make use of a tug that moves under
water? Why hasshe not her motor power within herself,
like so many other yachts ?
But I had no leisure at that moment to devote to my
reflections, or rather to seek the explanation of so many
The tug was alongside. The hatch had just been
opened. Several men appeared on the platformâ€”the
crew of the submarine boat with whom Captain Spade
communicates by means of the electric signals placed.
in the bow of the schooner, and connected with the
tug by a wire. So it was from the Â£dda that orders
SerkÃ©, the engineer, then came to me and _ said
â€œLet us embark!â€
â€œ Embark ?â€ I repeated.
â€œYes! in the tugâ€”quick !â€™
As usual, I could do nothing but obey an imperative
order, and I stepped over the side.
At that instant Thomas Roch came on deck accom-
panied by one of the men. He appeared to me very
calm, also very indifferent, and offered no objection to
148 FOR THE FLAG
boarding the tug. When he had reached me at the hatch,
Count dâ€™Artigas and Serk6 joined us.
Captain Spade and the crew, with the exception of four
men who had entered a small boat which had just been
lowered, remained on the schooner. These men carried
with them a long hawser, probably intended to tow the
Ebba through the reefs. Was there a creek among those
rocks where Count dâ€™Artigas finds a safe shelter from the
surf? Is this his port of destination ?
The #Ã©Ã©a being separated from the tug, the hawser
connecting it with the boat tightened, and half a cableâ€™s
length farther the sailors made it fast to the iron rings
fixed in the rocks. Then the crew, hauling it, slowly
towed the schooner.
In a few minutes the Â£dda had disappeared behind
the rocks and from the sea, not even the top of her masts
could be seen.
Who in the Bermudas would imagine that a ship was â€”
in the habit of putting into port in that hidden creek ?
Who in America could imagine that the rich yachtsman,
so well known in the western ports, is also a dweller in
the solitudes of Backcup?
Twenty minutes later the boat came back towards the
tug, bringing the four sailors.
It was clear that the submarine vessel was waiting for
them in order to set out againâ€”whither ?
The whole crew were now on the platform, the boat
was in tow at the stern, we began to move, the screw
worked at half turns, and the tug, on the surface of the
The hidden erccl
-â€œ", BACKCUP ISI
water, standing in towards Backcup, rounded the reefs to
After a few cable-lengths another passage was discerned
running into the island, and the tug followed its windings.
When we had nearly reached the base of the rocky islet,
the tug stopped. ; ;
The order was then given to two men-to draw up the
boat upon a narrow strand, where neither the waves nor
the surf could reach it.
That done, the two sailors clambered on board, and
then SerkÃ© made me a sign to go below.
Some iron steps led to a central room where several
boxes and bales were piled up; these, I suppose, could find
no place in the already encumbered hold. I was pushed
towards a side cabin, the door was shut upon me, and I
was once more plunged into profound darkness,
I recognized that cabin the instant I entered it. It was
the place in which I had passed those long hours after theâ€™
abduction from Healthful House, and which I only left
when the Â£dÃ©a was in Pamlico Sound.
Evidently M. Roch was treated in the same way, and
now shut up in another compartment.
I heard a hollow noise. It was the closing of the hatch,
and the apparatus was immediately submerged.
Indeed, I soon felt a descending movement, due to the
introduction of water into the compartments of the tug.
This movement was followed by anotherâ€”a movement
of propulsion that drove the submarine vessel through the
152 FOR THE FLAG
Three minutes later it stopped, and I knew that we were
rising to the surface.
The noise at the hatch was again audible. It was
opening this time.
The door of my cabin yielded to me, and in a few
bounds I was on the platform.
The tug had penetrated into the very interior of Back-
cup. Here is the mysterious retreat where Count dâ€™Artigas
lives with his companions, outsideâ€”so to speakâ€”of
THE next day, as no one interfered with my proceedings,
I was able to make a first exploration in the vast cavern
What a night I passed, a prey to strange dreams, andâ€™
how ardently I longed for the day!
I had been conducted into a grotto about a hundred
steps from the waterâ€™s edge where the tug lay.
This grotto, six feet by twelve, lit by an incandescent
lamp, is reached by a door which was fastened behind me.
I need not be astonished that electricity is the agent
employed for lighting the interior of this cavern, since
it supplies the impetus to the submarine tug. But how
ds it produced? Where does it come from? Can it
be that there are electric works in the interior of this
enormous crypt with all the machinery, dynamos, and
My cell is furnished with a table on which my food is
served, a bedstead and bedding, a wicker armchair, a press
containing linen and several changes of clothes. The
drawer of the table contains paper, ink, and pens. Ina
154 FOR THE FLAG
corner on the right is a toilet table with the usual ac-
cessories, Everything is very clean,
Fresh fish, preserved meat, good bread, ale and whisky,
such was the menu of the first meal. I could scarcely
eat. I was quite unnerved.
It is necessary, however, that I should regain complete
control of myself, that I should be calm in mind and soul,
with all my mental faculties on the alert; for I want to
discover the secret of this handful of men entombed in
the bowels of a mountainâ€”and I will discover it.
So it is under the carapace of Backcup that Count
dâ€™Artigas resides. This cavity, whose existence no one
suspects, is his homÃ© when the Â£dÃ©a is not bearing him
along the coast of the New World, or, perhaps, as far as
the shores of the Old World! This is the unknown
retreat which he has discovered, and it is reached by a
submarine entrance, a water-door that opens twenty or
thirty feet below the ocean surface.
Why has he separated himself from the world? What
is there in this manâ€™s past? If the name Dâ€™Artigas, his
title of Count, are only assumed, as I imagine, what is his
motive for hiding his identity? Is he an outlaw, an exile,
who prefers this place of banishment to any other? Am
I not rather in the company of a malefactor, anxious to
secure impunity for his crimes? I can do nothing but
suppose; concerning this suspicious stranger I suppose
Then returned to my mind that question which I have
not yet answered satisfactorily. Why was Thomas Roch
- carried off from Healthful House under the circumstances
already related? Does Count dâ€™Artigas hope to acquire
the secret of the Fulgurator , and to use it for the defence
of Backcup in case some chance betrays his hiding-
But if that happened, the island of Backcup could easily
be starved out, as the tug would not suffice to revictual it.
Besides, the schooner would have no chance of breaking
through a line of investment, and she would beâ€™watched
for at every port. Thenceforth, of what use would the
invention of Roch be in the Countâ€™s hands?
About seven oâ€™clock in the morning I jumped out of
bed. Although I am imprisoned between the walls of the
cavern, at least Jam not confined to my cell. There was
nothing to prevent me going outâ€”so I went.
Twenty yards in front, a rocky slab, forming a kind of
quay, projected, extending right and left.
Several of the Zddaâ€™s sailors were busy unloading the
bales and emptying the hold of the tug, which lay level
with the water against a little stone jetty.
My eyes were growing accustomed to the half-light of
the cavern, which is open in the middle of the roof.
â€œTt is by that opening,â€ I said to myself, â€œthe vapours
escape, or rather it is that smoke which indicated the island
to us at three or four miles distance.â€
Ina moment the following series of reflections passed
through my mind:
â€œBackcup is not a volcano, as everyone thoughtâ€”as I
thought myself. The vapours and flames which were
156 FOR THE FLAG
seen some years ago were only artificial. . . . The noises
that terrified the fisher folk were not caused by the warring
of subterranean powers.... The various phenomena
were fictitious. ... They became manifest at the will of
the master of the islet, the man who wanted to drive away
the inhabitants from its coast ... and Count dâ€™Artigas
succeeded. . .. He remains the sole master of Backcup.
... By merely burning gunpowder and by sending the
smoke of the seaweeds brought to him by the currents
through his sham crater, he has established a belief in the
existence of a volcano that has suddenly become active
without warning, and in the imminence of an eruption
that can never take place!â€
This is what must have happened, and, indeed, ever
since the departure of the Bermuda fishermen Backcup
has constantly displayed thick wreaths of smoke at its
Meanwhile the interior light was increasing; daylight
was penetrating through the sham crater as the sun
mounted the horizon. I can therefore calculate the
dimensions of the cavern with tolerable exactness. Here
are my figures :
The islet of Backcup, which is almost circular in
shape, measures twelve hundred yards in circumference
and presents an internal area of about fifty thousand
square yards. At their base the walls vary in thickness
from thirty to a hundred yards.
It follows that, minus the thickness of the walls, the
excavation occupies the whole mass of Backcup which
rises above the water... As to the length of the submarine
tunnel that puts the inside in communication with the
outside, and through which the tug passes, I calculate that
it must be about forty yards.
These figures give some idea of the size of the cavern.
But vast as it is, I am aware that the Old and the New
Worlds possess others considerably larger which have
been carefully surveyed.
It is important, however, to make a aisnnction between
Backcup and all the famous caverns of the world. It is
this: the majority of these caves are easily accessible, and
must consequently have been discovered one day or
another. Now here that is not so. Indicated on the
maps of these latitudes as an island of the Bermuda group,
how could it be imagined that an enormous cavern yawned
in its interior? To know it one must enter it; and to
enter it a submarine boat analogous to the tug belonging
to Count dâ€™Artigas is requisite.
I feel sure it was only by chance that the strange
yachtsman was led to discover this tunnel, by which he
has been enabled to found this queer colony at Backcup.
On devoting myself to the examination of the sheet of
water enclosed within the walls of the cavern, I ascertained
. that it measures three hundred to three hundred and fifty:
yards in circumference. It is in reality only a lagoon framed
in perpendicular rocks, but quite sufficient for the tugâ€™s
manceuvres, for its depth, so far as I can discover, is not
less than forty yards.
It goes without saying that this crypt, on account of its
158 FOR THE FLAG
situation and structure, belongs to the category of those
formed by the action of the sea. It is of both Neptunian
and Plutonic origin, like the grottoes of Crozon and
Morgate in the Bay of Douarneuez in France, of Bonifacio
on the Corsican coast; Thorgatten on the coast of
Norway, whose height is estimated at five hundred yards ;
the grottoes of Gibraltar in Spain, and Touranne in
Cochin China. In short, the nature of their dome-like
shells shows that they are the product of this double
The island of Backcup is largely formed of calcareous
rocks. From the steep banks of the lagoon these rocks
rise towards the walls in shelving slopes, leaving between
them a carpet of very fine sand, ornamented here and
there with tough yellowish clusters of samphire. From
great masses of seaweed and sargassum, the former very
dry, the latter wet, the acrid sca scent is exhaled, as the
tide, after having forced them through the tunnel, casts
them on the shores of the lagoon. But that is not the only
combustible employed in the multitudinous requirements
of Backcup, for I noticed an enormous stock of coal, which
must have been brought from the schooner by the tug.
But, I repeat, it is the burning of these masses of marine
matter, previously dried, that provides the fumes vomited.
by the crater.
Continuing my walk on the western side of the lagoon,
I discerned the habitations of this colony of troglodytesâ€”
as I may surely call them? That part of the cave called
the Beehive fully justifies its name. There several rows
In the interior of the island.
of cells have been hollowed out by the hand of man in
the solid limestone, and in those cells these human beings
Towards the east the arrangement of the cavern is
different. On that side hundreds of natural pillars, sloping,
perpendicular, and twisted, support the roof, like a forest
of stone trees spread out to the extreme limits of the cave.
Through these columns winding paths cross one another,
rendering the remotest part of Backcup accessible.
Judging by the cells of the Beehive, the companions of
Count dâ€™Artigas must number from eighty to one hundred.
Before one of these cells, isolated from the rest, the Count
was standing. He had just been joined by the Captain
and SerkÃ©, and after some conversation, all three descended
towards the bank and approached the jetty where the tug
At that hour a dozen men, who had unloaded the
merchandise, were transporting it by boat to the other
shore, where large hollows, scooped out of the rock, formed
â€™ the warehouses of Backcup.
As for the orifice of the tunnel under the lagoon waters,
it was not visible. I observed, indeed, that the tug was
obliged to sink down some yards below the surface of the
sea, in order to enter it when coming in. The Backcup
grotto is not like the grottoes of Staffa or Morgate, where
the entrance is always open, even at high water. Is there
another passage communicating with the littoral, a natural
or artificial corridor ? I shall look, for it is important that
I should be certain on this subject. ie
162 FOR THE FLAG
Backcup Island merits its name. It is truly an enor-
mous cup up-turned. Not only has it the exterior shape,
butâ€”and this no one knowsâ€”it has reproduced the
interior form also.
T have said that the Beehive occupied that part of the
cavern lying on the north of the lagoon, that is to say, the
left on entering by the tunnel; while on the opposite side
are magazines where supplies of all sorts are stored, bales
of merchandise, puncheons of wine and brandy, barrels
of beer, cases of preserves, numerous boxes bearing the
brands of various commodities. It seems as if the cargoes
of twenty ships-had been unloaded here. A little farther
on rose an important-looking structure, surrounded by
anenclosure. It was easy to recognizeits function. From
a post which rose about it there sprang thick copper wires
whose currents fed the powerful electric lamps suspended
under the roof, besides the incandescent light used in
every cell in the hive. There was also a number of
these same apparatus fixed between the columns of the
cave, which illuminated it to its furthest extremity.
Shall I be allowed to wander at will in the interior of
Backcup? Thatis the question. I hope so. Why should
Count dâ€™Artigas shackle my liberty by forbidding me
to ramble about his mysterious domain? Am I not
imprisoned within the walls of the island? Is it possible
â€˜to get out of it otherwise than by the tunnel? Now, how
to pass that water-gate which is always closed?
Then, admitting that I could get through the fanned
would not my disappearance be immediately discovered ?
The tug would soon land a dozen men on the shore, where
every crevice would be searched thoroughly. I should be
captured without a doubt, brought back to the Beehive
and deprived of my liberty.
I must, then, give up all idea of flight, unless I can see
some chance of success. But if a favourable opportunity
occurs, I shall certainly not let it escape.
While perambulating the rows of cells I was able to
study some of the inmates who have accepted this
monotonous existence in the depths of Backcup. As I
said before, their number may be put down as a hundred,
in accordance with the cells of the Beehive.
These people take no notice of me when I pass. On
close examination they appear to me to be recruited from
all parts. In them I can distinguish no common stockâ€”
not even that bond which will be found between North
Americans, or Europeans, or Asiatics. The colour of
their skin variesâ€”white, copper, and black, and it is the
black of the Australian rather than the African. Generally
speaking, they seem for the most part to belong to the
East Indian races; in fact, this type is even very
apparent in the greater number. I may add that Count
dâ€™Artigas certainly belongs to that special race found in
the lower islands of the West Pacific; SerkÃ© comes from
the Levant, and Spade from Spain or Spanish America.
But if the inhabitants of Backcup are not connected by
the ties of race, they certainly are by those of instinct
and appetite. Such evil countenances, such fierce faces,
such fundamentally savage types! They are violent
164 FOR THE FLAG
natures, one can see, who have restrained no passion and
refrained from no debauch. An idea has struck meâ€”may
it not be, that after a long series of crime, robbery, fire,
murder, outrage of every kind committed in company, this
band of brothers has taken refuge in this cave, where they
may well believe themselves absolutely secure?
Count dâ€™Artigas would then be no more than the leader
of a gang of miscreants, Spade and SerkÃ© his lieutenants,
and Backcup a piratesâ€™ den.
Such is the thought which has become riveted in my
brain. I shall be much surprised if the future proves that
Iam mistaken. Besides, everything I have noticed in my
first exploration only confirms my opinion, and justifies
the gravest conclusions.
In any case, whomsoever they are, and whatever the
circumstances that brought them to this place, the Countâ€™s
companions seem to have accepted his all-powerful rule
without reserve. But on the other hand, if a rigorous
discipline is maintained under his iron hand, there are
probably certain advantages which compensate the men
for the kind of servitude they have undertaken. What are
After walking round that part of the rock under which
the tunnel passes, I arrived on the opposite side of the
lagoon. As I had already perceived, the depdts on this
shore are for the merchandise brought by the schooner
every voyage: these are great hollows hewn out of the rock
which could contain and did contain an immense number
The piratesâ€™ store-houses,
Beyond lay the electricity works. As I passed in front
of the windows, I caught sight of certain apparatus of
recent invention, not bulky but very complete. There
were none of those machines worked by steam and which
necessitate the use of coal and â€˜require a complicated
mechanism. As | anticipated, the current of the cavernâ€™s
lamps, like the dynamos of the tug, is supplied by coils of
extraordinary power. Doubtless this current serves â€˜also
for many domestic uses, for heating the Beehive, and for
cooking purposes. I have discovered, too, that it is
applied in an adjacent cavity to stills for the production
of fresh water. The Backcup colonists are not reduced to
collecting the abundant rains that fall on the coast to
quench their thirst. Ata short distance from the factory
"was a reservoir, which I may compare, in proportion, with
those I visited at the Bermudas. It would supply the
needs of a population of ten thousand inhabitantsâ€”here
there are one hundred.
I still do not know how to style them. That they and
their chief have serious reasons for living in the bosom
of the earth is obvious, but what are those reasons? .
When religious shut themselves up between the walls of
their convent with the intention of separating themselves
from the rest of humanity, their action is understood.
But truly these subjects of Count dâ€™Artigas resemble
neither Benedictines nor Carthusians!
I continued my promenade through the forest of pillars
until I reached the extreme end of the cave. Noone had
interfered with me; No one had spoken to me. None
168 â€˜FOR THE FLAG
even appeared to trouble themselves about my existence.
That portion of Backcup is extremely curious, it might
rank with the marvellous grottoes of Kentucky or the
Balearic Isles. It is needless to say the work of man is
nowhere to be seen. The work of nature appears alone,
and it was not without a certain astonishment, mixed
with fear, that I thought of forces capable of raising
such prodigious structures. The part situated beyond
the lagoon received only the very slanting rays of
light from the central opening. At night, when lit
by electricity, this must be fairy-like. In no corner,
in spite of my search, can I find any communication.
with the outside.
I note that the island offers shelter to innumerable gulls.
Here, it appears, they are never molested ; they are left to
multiply at leisure, and the vicinity of man causes them
Backcup possesses other life than that of the sea-
birds. The enclosures for cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry,
are close to the Beehive. The food supplies are
thus as varied as they are certain, thanks also to
the products of the sea either from the outside reefs,
or from the waters of the lagoon, where fish of every
variety abound. In short, to convince oneself that
the dwellers in Backcup need want for nothing, it
was only necessary to look at them. They are all
vigorous men, robust types of seamen, baked and burnt
under the heat of tropical suns, full-blooded, and ever
inhaling oxygen through the winds of the ocean. There
are neither boys nor old menâ€”none but men between
thirty and fifty years of age.
But why have they submitted to this kind of existence ?
Besides, do they never leave this strange retirement ?
Perhaps I shall know ere long.
THE cell which I occupy is situated about a hundred
paces from the abode of Count dâ€™Artigas; it is one of
the last of the Beehive row. Though I may not have
to share it with Thomas Roch, I thought at least that
I should be near him. So that the keeper might con-
tinue his attendance on the patient, the two cells ought
to be contiguous. But this point, I suppose, will soon
be settled. .
Captain Spade and SerkÃ© the engineer live separately,
close to the hÃ©tel of Count dâ€™Artigas.
His hÃ©tel?... Yes. Why not give it its name, since
the residence has been carefully and artistically arranged ?
Skilful hands have carved the rock into an ornamental
facade. A wide door gives access to it. Light enters by
several windows cut in the limestone and fitted with sashes
filled with coloured panes. The interior consists of a
number of rooms, the dining-room and drawing-room are
lighted by a large window. The whole is perfectly venti-
lated. The furniture is of various origin and very fanciful
shapes, and it is of French, English, and American manu-
KER KARRAJE I71I
facture. The offices and kitchen are situated in adjoining
cells behind the Beehive.
In the afternoon, as I was going out with the firm inten-
tion of â€œobtaining an audienceâ€ of Count dâ€™Artigas, I
espied that gentleman walking up the bank of the lagoon
towards the â€œhive.â€ Either he had not seen me or he
wished to avoid me, for he hastened on and I could not
â€œNevertheless I will make him receive me,â€ I said to
I also hurried on and stopped before his door just as it
was being shut.
A big fellow, evidently of Malay extraction, very dark
in colour, immediately appeared on the threshold. Ina
rough voice he signified that I was to go away.
I did not obey the injunction ; but insisted, repeating
this sentence twice in good English,â€”
â€œInform Count dâ€™Artigas that I wish to be received
I might as well have spoken to the rocks of Backcup.
The savage evidently did not understand a word of
English, and he answered only by a shout which conveyed
It then occurred to me to force my way in, and to call
so that Count dâ€™Artigas must hear. But in all probability
the only result would have been to provoke the anger of
the Malay, and his strength was herculean.
I postponed for the time the explanation due to meâ€”
but I meant to have it sooner or later.
172 FOR THE FLAG
As I went along the line of the Beehive in an easterly
direction, my thoughts turned to Thomas Roch. I was
very much surprised not to see him during that first day.
Can it be that he is suffering from an attack? But
that is hardly possible, for Count dâ€™Artigas, according to
his own words, would have called Gaydon the keeper to
attend the inventor.
I had scarcely gone a hundred steps when I met
Serko. Sats : wy
With his usual good-humour, and engaging manners,
that scoffer smiled when he saw me and did not attempt
to escape. Had he known that I was a confrÃ©reâ€”ad-
mitting that he is an engineerâ€”he could not have given
me awarmer welcome. But I shall take good care to
conceal my name and accomplishments from him.
SerkÃ© stopped, with laughing eyes and mocking mouth,
and the good-day he wished me was accompanied by a
most friendly gesture.
I replied coldly to his politeness ; but this he did not
pretend to notice.
â€œMay Saint Jonathan protect you, Mr. Gaydon!â€ he
said, in his clear, rich voice. â€œ You do not grieve, I hope,
at the happy circumstance which has enabled you to visit
this cave, marvellous above all others; indeed, one of the
most beautiful, and yet the least known of our spheroid.â€
That word from the vocabulary of science in the course
of a conversation with a mere keeper surprised me, I must
say, and I contented myself with replying,â€”
â€œI should have no reason to grieve, M. Serko, if after
The â€œ hÃ©telâ€ of Count dâ€™Artigas.
KER KARRAJE 175
having had the pleasure of visiting this cavern I was at
liberty to leave it.â€
â€œWhat! would you dream of leaving us, Mr. Gaydonâ€”
of returning to your stupid pavilion at Healthful House?
You have scarcely explored our magnificent domain, nor
had time to admire its incomparable beauties, all due to
â€œWhat I have seen is enough for me,â€™ I replied, â€œand
in case you speak to me seriously, I answer you seriously
that I donâ€™t want to see any more.â€
â€œCome, come, Mr. Gaydon, permit me to observe that
you are not yet able to appreciate the advantages of
existence under such unrivalled conditions! A calm and
tranquil life, free from all care, the future assured, material
surroundings such as are not to be met elsewhere, an
equable climate, nothing to fear from the tempests that
sweep the Atlantic, neither frosts in winter nor heat
in summer! The changes of season scarcely make
themselves felt in this mild and health-giving atmo-
sphere. Here we have to dread neither Neptune nor
This evocation of mythological names was, it seemed
to me, out of place. SerkÃ© was evidently making fun of
me. Gaydon could hardly have heard of either Pluto or
â€œSir,â€ I said, â€œpossibly this climate suits you, and you
appreciate as they deserve the advantages of living at the
bottom of this cavern ofâ€”â€
I was on the point of saying Backcupâ€”lI stopped myself
176 FOR THE FLAG
just in time. What would happen if they suspected that
I knew the name of the island, and consequently its
position at the western extremity of the Bermudas?
So I went on to say,â€”
â€œ But as this climate does not suit me I have a right to
change it, it seems to me.â€
â€œ The right, no doubt.â€
â€œAnd I understand that I shall be permitted to leave
the island, and that I shall be furnished with the means of
returning to America.â€
â€œT have no good reason to oppose to you, Mr. Gaydon,â€
replied SerkÃ©: â€œYour claim is even well founded. Re-
mark, however, that we live here in a noble and proud
independence; that we are not subject to any foreign
power; that we are free from all external authority ; that
we are not colonists of any State of either the Old or the
New World. All this deserves consideration by a proud
soul and a lofty mind. ... Then what memories these
grottoes invoke in a cultivated mind. They seem to have
been excavated by the hands of the gods when, in olden
time, they pronounced their oracles by the mouth of
Decidedly the engineer delighted in quoting mythology.
Trophonius, after Pluto and Neptune! Now, does he
imagine that a hospital attendant knows Trophonius? It
was evident that this joker was still joking, and I had to
place a great restraint upon myself in order to answer him
in the same strain.
â€œÂ« A moment ago,â€™ I said, abruptly, â€œ1 wanted to enter
KER KARRAJE 177
that residence, which is, if I am not mistaken, Count
dâ€™ Artigasâ€™, and I was prevented.â€
â€œBy whom, Mr. Gaydon?â€
â€œ By a man in the Countâ€™s service.â€
â€œVery probably the man has received special orders
with regard to you.â€ :
â€œ Why ? Ped
_ â€œ Because there is no Count dâ€™ Artigas here.â€
â€œYou are joking, I thinkâ€”I have just seen him.â€
â€œThat is not Count dâ€™Artigas whom yeu have just
seen, Mr. Gaydon.â€
â€œ And who is he, then, if you please?â€
â€œThe pirate, Ker Karraje!â€
This name was flung at me in a loud voice, and Serko
left me before I could stop him. fei
â€˜â€œâ€˜ Ker Karraje, the pirate!â€
That name, I know it,and what terrible memories it
awakens! It explains, in itself, all that was inexplicable!
It tells me the kind of man into whose hands I have
With what I knew before, and with what I have fee
since my arrival at Backcup, even from the mouth of Serko,
this is all that is lawful for me to tell of the past and the
present of Ker Karraje. Eight or nine years ago the
waters of the Western Pacific were infested by pirates of
extraordinary daring. These were a band of desperadoes
of all kinds, deserters from adjacent colonies, escaped
prisoners, and runaway sailors, under the command of a
formidable chief. The nucleus of the band had been first
178 FOR THE FLAG
formed of those men, the scum of the European and
American populations, who had been attracted to New
South Wales by the discovery of gold. Among these
gold-seekers were Captain Spade and Serko the engineer,
two neâ€™er-do-weels whom a certain community of ee
and character soon made intimate.
These two, well-informed and reeoluten men, would cer-
tainly have succeeded in any career, if only by their intelli-
gence. But with neither conscience nor scruples, determined
to acquire riches by no matter what means, seeking from
speculation and gambling what they might have gained
by patient and regular work, they rushed into the most
foolhardy adventures ; were rich one day, ruined the next,
like the majority of the vagabond crowd who had gone to
seek their fortune at the goldfields.
There was then in the mining districts of New South
Wales a man of incomparable â€˜pluck, one of those dare-
devils who shrink from nothingâ€”not even from crimeâ€”
cand whose influence over violent and evil natures is irre-
This man called himself Ker Karraje.
What was the origin and nationality of the nite had
never been discovered, though every inquity was made on
the subject. But while he succeeded in evading all pursuit,
his nameâ€”at least the name he had given himselfâ€”
â€˜became known throughout theâ€™ world. . It was breathed
with horror and terror like that of a aes Pane
I now have reason: to believe â€˜that Kerâ€™ Katraje: is. â€œof
KER KARRAJE 179
East Indian race. It matters little, however. What is
certain is that he is rightly regarded as the author of the
innumerable outrages committed in those distant seas.
After having passed some years on the diggings in
Australia, where he made acquaintance with Spade and
SerkÃ©, Ker Karraje succeeded in getting hold of a
vessel in the port of Melbourne in the colony of Victoria.
Thirty rascals, whose number was soon to be tripled, -
became his companions. In that part of the Pacific where
piracy is still so easy and, it is said, so profitableâ€”how
many ships were plundered, how many crews. massacred,
how many raids organized in certain western islands where
the settlers were not strong enough to defend themselves ?
Although Ker Karrajeâ€™s ship had often been sighted, no
one had ever been able to overtake it. It seemed to have
the faculty of disappearing at will in those island mazes
where Captain Spade knew every creek and channel.
Dismay then reigned in those latitudes. The English,
French, Germans, Russians, Americans, in vain sent their
vessels to pursue this phantom ship, which came no one
-knew whence, and hid itself no one knew where, after
pillages and massacres it was impossible either to arrest or
One day these crimes came to an end. Nothing more
was heard of Ker Karraje. Had he abandoned the Pacific
for other seas? Was piracy going to break out elsewhere?
As it did not recommence for some time, the impression
spread that notwithstanding all that had been spent in
orgies and debauch, sufficient profit remained from these
180 FOR THE FLAG
long-continued robberies to constitute a treasure of enor-
mous value, which Ker Karraje and his followers were
doubtless now enjoying, after having placed it in safety in
Some retreat known only to themselves.
" Where had the band taken refuge after their disappear-
ance? All search was fruitless. Alarm having ceased
with danger, those horrors of which the Western Pacific
had been the scene were in a short time forgotten. All
this was common knowledge.
Now for that which will never be known if I do not
succeed in escaping from Backcup.
Yes, these evildoers were indeed the possessors of con-
siderable wealth at the time when they abandoned the
waters of the West Pacific. After having destroyed their
ship they dispersed in different directions, having arranged
to meet on the American Continent.
At that time Serk6 the engineer, deeply learned in his
-profession, a skilful mechanician, who had made a special -
study of submarine boats, proposed to Ker Karraje to
build one of these destroyers in ordÃ©r to begin their preda-
tory life again under more secret and more terrible condi-
Ker Karraje instantly saw the value of the idea of his
â€˜accomplice, and-as thereâ€™was no lack of money he had only
to set to work.
While the self-styled Count dâ€™Artigas was ordering the
schooner dda at the Gottenburg dockyards in Sweden,
â€˜Serko gave the plans for a submarine boat to the
Cramps shipyards in Philadelphia, and its construction
KER KARRAJE 181
caused no suspicion. Besides it soon after sank with
On SerkÃ©â€™s model, and under his special supervision,
the vessel was built, and. he made use of all the latest
developments. of nautical science in its construction, and
also electric science and invention.
Needless to say, no one recognized in Count dâ€™Artigas,
Ker Karraje the former pirate of the Pacific, or in SerkÃ© the
engineer, the most active and resolute of his accomplices.
They only knew him as a foreigner of high birth and large
fortune who for a year had frequented the ports of the
United States in his yacht, for the 4dda was launched
long before the building of the tug was complete,
This work occupied quite eighteen months. When it
was finished the new vessel excited the admiration of all
who were interested in engines of submarine navigation,
By its exterior form, its interior appropriateness, its system
of ventilation, its stability, its instant immersion, the ease
with which it could be handled and steered, its facility of
evolution, and its extraordinary rapidity, it far surpassed
the successors of the Goudet, the Gymmnote, the ZÃ©dÃ©, and
other specimens already brought to such perfection at that
After several successful experiments, a public trial took
place in the open sea four miles beyond Charleston, in the
presence of numerous men-of-war, merchant-vessels, and
pleasure boats, American and foreign, which assembled for
Of course the Edda was among the number of these
182 FOR THE FLAG
vessels, having on board Count dâ€™Artigas, SerkÃ©, Captain
Spade and his crewâ€”with the exception of half a dozen
men occupied in the navigation of the submarine boat,
which â€˜was under the control of a mechanician named
Gibson, a very clever and adventurous Englishman.
The program of this performance consisted of various
evolutions on the surface of the ocean, followed by an
immersion of several - hoursâ€™ duration, after which the
apparatus had orders to reappear when it reached a buoy
several miles out to sea.
The moment having come, and the upper hatchway
being closed, the boat manceuvred at first on the sea, and
its speed and steering obtained the well-merited admira-
tion of all the spectators.
Then at asignal from the Â£dÃ©a the machine sank slowly,
â€˜and disappeared from sight.
A few of the ships made for the spot at which its
reappearance was to take place.
Three hours passedâ€”the boat had not yet risen to the
But none could have guessed that by a concerted plan
between Count dâ€™Artigas and the engineer, this sub-
marine vessel, in reality the schoonerâ€™s secret tug, was
to emerge several miles beyond that point. With the
exception of those in the secret, there was no doubt
in any mind that it had been destroyed by an accident
either to its hull or to its machines. On board the Edda
consternation was well acted; on board the other ships
it was â€˜more real.
KER KARRAJE 183
Theâ€™ waters were sounded; divers were sent along the
supposed track of the boat, but the search was in vain,
and it became only too certain that. the new invention
had been engulfed in the depths of the Atlantic.
Two days later Count dâ€™Artigas put out again to sea,
â€˜and after forty-eight hours he came upon the tug at the
In this'way. Ker Karraje became the possessor of an
admirable machine constructed for the double purpose
of towing the schooner and attacking ships. With this
terrible instrument of destruction whose existence was
unsuspected, Count dâ€™Artigas was about to resume a career
of piracy under the most favourable conditions of security
These details I heard from SerkÃ©, who was very proud:
of his work, and absolutely certain that the prisoner of.
Backcup could never reveal the secret. .
It is easy to realize the immense destructive. power at.
Ker Karrajeâ€™s disposal. During the night the tug attacked
ships which could not suspect a pleasure yacht. When it
had disabled them, the schooner came alongside, and the
men. massacred the crews and plundered the cargoes.
Thus numbers of ships appeared no more in the shipping
news, save under that Hopeless heading :: â€œLost with
:. Fora year after the ahastly Sorntey in Charleston Bay,:
Ker Karrajeravaged the Atlantic waters beyond the United:
States. - His wealth increasÃ©d enormously. Merchandise
for which he had no use was sold in distant markets, and:
184 FOR THE FLAG
the product of the pillage reconverted into gold and silver.
But the pirates still lacked a secret place. where they
might store these treasures until the days of their dis-
Chance came to their aid. When they were exploring
the submarine depths of the approaches to the Bermudas,
SerkÃ© and Gibson discovered the tunnel which gave access
to. the interior of Backcup, at the base of the island.
Nowhere could Ker Karraje have hoped to find a zeinge
so completely beyond all danger of discovery !
Thus did one of the Bermudas, that group which had in
former times been the resort of pirates, become the haunt
of a band far more formidable.
This hiding-place being adopted, the new life of Count
dâ€™ Artigas and his companions was organized under its. vast
roof, Serk6Ã© the engineer set up electricity works without
having recourse to machines whose construction in foreign
lands might attract attention, and with nothing but coils,
which were easily arranged and required only the use of
metal plates and chemicals which the 44a conveyed from
the United States.
. There is now no difficulty in understanding what
had happened in the night of the 19th-20oth. The three-
master, which could make no way for want of wind, was not
in sight at daybreak because it had been disabled by the
tug, then boarded by the crew of the Â£dda,. plundered and
sunk, and it was a portion of its cargo that I found on
board the 4d after it had disappeared into the abysses
of the Atlanticâ€™!
KER KARRAJE 187
Into what hands have I fallen! How will this de-
plorable adventure end? -Can I never escape from my
prison, to denounce this spurious Count dâ€™Artigas and rid
the seas of Ker Karrajeâ€™s pirates ?
Terrible as he now is, will not Ker Karraje be a hundred
times more formidable should he become the possessor of
the Roch Fulgurator? If he makes use of these new
engines of destruction, no trading ship will be able to
resist him ; no warship will escape total destruction. -
Iremained for a long time absorbed in these reflections,
suggested by the revelation of Ker Karrajeâ€™s name. All
that I had ever known.of the notorious pirate came back
to my mindâ€”his life when he scoured the Pacific, the
expeditions undertaken by the maritime powers against
his ship, and the failure of their efforts. To him must
be attributed the unaccountable disappearance of ships
off the American coast for years past. â€œHe â€˜had only
â€˜changed the scene of his crimes. The world believed
itself rid of him, but he was continuing his piracies on the
much-frequented waters of the Atlantic, with the aid of
the tug which was supposed to be lying at the bottom of
â€œ Now,â€ I said to myself, â€œI know his real name and
his real hiding-placeâ€”Ker Karraje and Backcup! But
since Serk6 would not have told me his name, had he not
been authorized, he desires to make me understand that
I must renounce the hope of ever recovering my liberty.â€
SerkÃ© had evidently observed the effect his revelation
produced on me. When he left me, I remember, he went
188 FOR THE FLAG
towards Ker Karrajeâ€™s abode with the intention, no doubt,
of telling him what had passed.
After a long walk on the edge of the lagoon, I was
about to return to my cell when I heard footsteps behind
me. I turned, and saw Count dâ€™Artigas accompanied
by Captain Spade. He glanced at me inquisitively, and
these words escaped me invcluntarily :
. â€œYou are keeping me here, sir, against all law! If it
was to tend M. Roch that you carried me off from
Healthful House I refuse to attend him, and I call upon
you to send me back.â€
The pirate chief neither moved nor spoke.
â€˜Then my rage broke all bounds. Bios ee
â€œ Answer, Count dâ€™Artigasâ€”or ratherâ€”for I know who
you areâ€”answer, Ker Karraje !â€
He answered,â€” St Paloeeg
â€œCount dâ€™Artigas is. Ker Karrajeâ€”as Gaydon the
keeper is Simon Hart the engineer, and Ker Karraje will
never set at liberty Simon Hart the engineer, who knows
THE situation is clear. Ker Karraje knows who I am.
He knew me when he set about the double abduction of
Thomas Roch and his keeper.
How did this man find out what I had successfully
hidden from the whole staff of Healthful House? How
did he know that a French engineer was acting as keeper
to Thomas Roch? I cannot tell, but so it was.
Evidently the Count possessed means of information
which must have cost him dear, but have brought him
great profit. Besides, an individual of his stamp does
not consider expense when it is a question of attaining
Henceforth it is this Ker Karraje, or rather, his
accomplice the engineer. SerkÃ©, who is to replace me
as the inventorâ€™s keeper. Will their efforts be more
successful than mine? God grant that it may not be
so, and that a great misfortune may be spared to the
â€˜civilized world |
Idid not reply to Ker Karrajeâ€™s last sentence, which
struck me like a bullet fired point blank. I did not fall,
Igo FOR THE FLAG
however, as the so-called Count dâ€™Artigas had perhaps
I looked straight into his eyes, which were flashing, and
he did not wince. I had crossed my arms, following his
example. Yet he was master of my life. It needed only
a sign from him, and a pistol shot would stretch me at his
feet. Then my body, thrown into the lagoon, would be
carried through the tunnel far away to sea.
After that scene I was left free as before. No measure
was taken against me. I may walk about among the
pillars to the farthest extremities of the cavern, which, it is
only too evident, posseses no other exit but the tunnel.
When I had regained my cell at the end of the Bee-
hive, a prey to the reflections suggested by this new
situation, I said to myself,â€”
â€œKer Karraje may know that Iam Simon Hart, but, at
least, he shall never find out that I am aware of the exact
position of the island of Backcup.â€
As for the project of confiding Roch to my care, I think
Count dâ€™Artigas never contemplated it seriously, seeing
that my identity was known to him. I regret this, ina
certain sense, for it is inevitable that great pressure will be
â€˜brought to bear on the inventor. Serko will employ every
possible means to ascertain the composition of the explo-
sive and the deflagrator of which he will make such an
-appalling use in his future piracies.
During the fortnight that followed I never once saw my
old patient. Noone, as I have said,interfered with mein my
daily walks. With the material side of existence I had
FIVE WEEKS Ig
not to trouble myself. My meals come punctually, ac-
cording to the regulations of Count dâ€™Artigasâ€™ kitchen
â€”I cannot break myself of the habit of using that title.
On the question of diet I am not hard to please, I
grant, but it would be unjust to make the leastâ€™ com-
plaint on that subject. The food supplied to me leaves
nothing to be desired, thanks to the supplies brought
by the ZÂ£Ã©da.
It is fortunate that the possibility of writing has never
failed me during these long hours of idleness. I have thus
been able to enter the most insignificant occurrences in
my note-book, and I have made my entries day by day.
I will continue this work so long as the pen is not torn
from my hands. Perhaps it will serve hereafter to reveal
the mysteries of Backcup.
From the 5th to the 25th Julyâ€”Two weeks have passed,
and all my attempts to get near M. Roch have been
unsuccessful. Jt is. evident that measures are taken to
withhold him from my influence, inefficacious as that has
been hitherto. My only hope is that Count dâ€™Artigas,
Serko, and Captain Spade will waste both their time and
.trouble in endeavouring to appropriate the inventorâ€™s
' Three or four timesâ€”to my knowledge at leastâ€”Roch
and SerkÃ© have been walking together round the lagoon.
.So far as I can judge, the former seemed to listen with a
certain amount of attention to what his companion said to
him. The latter made him visit the whole cavern, con-
ducted him over the electrical works, showed him in detail
Ig2 FOR THE FLAG
the machinery of the tug. . . . My chargeâ€™s mental state is
visibly better since he left Newburn. tess
The inventor occupies a separate room in Ker Karrajeâ€™s
residence. I do not doubt he is constantly talked â€˜to,
especially by Serko. When they offer to pay him the ex-
~ orbitant price he demands for his machineâ€”will he. have
the strength to resist? These wretches can dazzle him
with the sight of heaps of money amassed during all these
years of rapine! . . . In his present state of mind may he
not communicate the composition of his Fulgurator? It
would then be necessary only to bring the required
ingredients to. Backcup, and Thomas Roch will have
plenty of leisure to devote himself to his chemicals. As
for the shells, what is easier than to have a. certain
number made in some American works, or to order each
piece separately so as not to awaken suspicion? And it
is frightful to think of what such a destructive agent may
become in the hands of these pirates.
My intolerable apprehensions do not leave me an
hourâ€™s peace. They are wearing me out and my health is
failing. Although there is fine fresh air in the interior of
Backcup, I sometimes feel Iam suffocating. It seems to
me these thick wal!s are crushing me with their weight.
Then I am separated from the rest of the worldâ€”as if in
another sphereâ€”knowing nothing of what is passingâ€™!
Ah! if it were possible to get out by that opening in the
roof which yawns above the lagoon, to escape by the top
of the island, and climb down to its base!
+ On the morning of the 25th July I at last encountered
FIVE WEEKS 193
my fellow-captive. He was alone on the opposite side,
and I wondered, as I had not seen them since the night
before, whether Ker Karraje, SerkÃ© and Spade had gone
on some expedition beyond Backcup.
I advanced towards the inventor, and before he became
aware of my presence, I examined him attentively.
His countenance was serious and thoughtful; no longer
that of a madman. He was walking slowly, with down-
cast eyes, not looking about him, and he carried under
his arm a little board with a sheet of paper stretched upon
it, on which diagrams were drawn.
Suddenly, he lifted his head, teok a ston forward, and
â€œAh! you, Gaydon!â€ he cried, â€œI have escaped you
now! Iam free.â€
He might indeed think himself free, more free at
Backcup than at Healthful House. But my presence
would naturally recall unpleasant recollections, and might
perhaps bring on a paroxysm, for he challenged me with
â€œVes. You, Gaydon! donâ€™t come near me! donâ€™t come
near me! You want to catch meagain,and bring meback to
prison. Never! Here I have friends todefendme! They
are powerful, they are rich! Count dâ€™ Artigas has commis-
sioned me. Serko the engineer is my partner. We are
going to bring out my invention. . . . We shall make the
Roch Fulgurator in this place! Be off! Be off !.â€
Roch was in a frenzy. While he raised his voice, he
also waved his arms and drew packets of dollar-papers
194 FOR THE FLAG
and bank-notes from his pockets. Then gold coinsâ€”
English, French, American and Germanâ€”escaped through
his fingers. Where did all this money come from, if not
from Ker Karraje, and as the price of the secret he had
However, at the sound of his angry voice some men
ran up who had been watching us from a short distance.
They seized my charge and dragged him off. But as soon
as I was out of his sight he quieted down, and became calm
in body and mind,
July 27thâ€”I descended the rocks at an early hour
this morning, and advanced to the very end of the stone
The tug was not at its usual moorings against the rocks,
and it was not to be seen anywhere else in the lagoon.
But Ker Karraje and Serko had not gone away last even-
ing, for I saw them.
However, to-day there is every reason to think that they
have set out in the tug with Captain Spade and his crew;
that they joined the schooner in the creek, and that at
this moment the Â£d0a is at sea.
Possibly they have some piratical expedition on hand;
still, it is equally possible that Ker Karraje, who is Count
dâ€™Artigas on board his yacht, wants to reach some point of
the coast with the object- of procuring the ingredients
necessary for the manufacture of the Roch Fulgurator.
If I had only had an opportunity of hiding myself on
board the tug, I might have slipped into the hold of the
Â£bba, and remained hidden there until a port was reached !
The inventor in a frenzy.
FIVE WEEKS 197
Then, perhaps, I might have been able to escape, and deliver
the world from this band of pirates !
Such are the thoughts which continually occur to meâ€”
to flyâ€”to fly, at any price, from this den! But flight is
only possible through the tunnel with the submarine
boat! It is folly to think of that? Yesâ€”folly. Yet what
other means is there of making my escape?
While I was lost in these reflections the waters of
the lagoon were stirred twenty yards from the jetty,
and the tug appeared. Almost immediately the hatch
fell back and Gibson and his men came up on the
platform. Others scrambled on the rocks in order to
secure a rope. They caught it, and hauled in the boat
to its moorings.
This time, then, the schooner is sailing without the aid of
its tug, which had only gone to put Ker Karraje and his
companions on board the Â£dda, and to take her in tow
through the channels of the island.
This confirms my idea that the voyage has no other
object than to gain one of the American ports, where the
Count will be able to procure the materials for the explo-
sive, and order the shells at some works. Then,a day
being fixed for his return, the tug will again pass through
the tunnel, rejoin the schooner, and Ker Karraje will come
back to Backcup.
Undoubtedly this malefactorâ€™s designs are being put
into execution, and things are advancing more quickly than
August 3rdâ€”To-day an incident occurred in the
198 FOR THE FLAG
lagoonâ€”an extraordinary occurrence which must be
Towards three oâ€™clock in the afternoon there was a
sudden upheaval of the waters for about a minute, then a
subsidence for two or three, and again an upheaval in the
middle of the lagoon.
Some fifteen of the pirates, whose attention was attracted
by this mysterious phenomenon, went down to the edge,
not without signs of astonishment mixed with fearâ€”as I
It was not the tug which caused this action of the
water, because it was made fast against the pier, and
the idea of another submarine boat having succeeded
in finding its way through the tunnel was, to say the
Almost immediately shouts rang out from the opposite
side. Other men addressed the first in an unknown lan-
guage, and after exchanging a few rough sentences, these
returned in great haste to the Beehive side.
Had they then caught sight of some marine monster
under the water? Had they gone to fetch arms to attack
it, implements for its capture ?
I had guessed aright, and a moment later I saw them
return to the rocky banks armed with guns charged with
explosive bullets, and harpoons with long lines attached.
It was a whaleâ€”one of those sperm whales so plentiful
about. the Bermudasâ€”which, having come through the
tunnel, was floundering now in the depths of the lagoon.
Since the animal was constrained to seek refuge in the
A sperm whalein the lagoon.
FIVE WEEKS 201
interior of Backcup, I concluded that it was pursued, that
whalers were giving chase.
Some minutes passed before the whale rose again to the
surface. Its enormous body could be seen, green and slimy,
as if fighting witha formidable enemy. When it reappeared
two columns of water spouted with a great noise from its
â€œTf it is in order to escape the whalers that the whale
has rushed through the tunnel,â€ I said to myself, â€œthere
must be a ship close to Backcupâ€”perhaps only a few cable-
lengths from the shore. . . . Its boats have come up the
western channel to the foot of the island, and I cannot
communicate with them !â€
If that is so, might it be possible for me to reach them
through the stone walls of Backcup ?
However, I was not left long in suspense as to the cause
of the whaleâ€™s appearance. Not whale-fishers were in
hot pursuit, but a crowd of the sharks that infest these
latitudes. I could easily make them out under the water.
They numbered five or six, and as they turned over on
their sides they opened their enormous jaws bristling with
teeth like a curry-comb. They flung themselves upon the
whale, which could only defend itself by thrashing with
its tail. It had already been badly wounded, and the
water was stained with blood as it plunged, rose, and sank,
in vain efforts to elude the teeth of the sharks. __
Nevertheless, those voracious animals were not to be
the conquerors in the strife. Their prey was about to
escape them, for man with his implements is more power-
202 FOR THE FLAG
ful than they. On the bank were a number of Ker
Karrajeâ€™s followers, little more than sharks themselves, for
pirates or sea-tigers are all one! They were going to try
. to capture the monster, and the animal would bea good
haul for the Backcup people!
At that moment the whale approached the jetty where
Count dâ€™Artigasâ€™ Malay was posted with several other
stalwart pirates. The Malay was armed with a harpoon
to which a long rope was attached, and brandishing it
with a strong arm, he hurled it with great strength and
skill. The whale, hard hit under its left fin, plunged with
a sudden rush, followed by the sharks in its wake. The
harpoon line ran out fifty or sixty yards. Then there was
nothing to do but to haul in the animal, now about to
rise to the surface to breathe its last.
This was done by the Malay and his comrades very
leisurely, so as not to loosen the harpoon from the side of
the whale, which presently reappeared close to the rocks
above the orifice of the tunnel.
Mortally wounded, the enormous mammifer struggled
in its death agony, blowing out clouds of vapour and
columns of air and water mixed with a jet of blood, and
with a terrible stroke it flung one of the sharks expiring
on the rocks,
This effort dislodged the harpoon from its side, and the
whale disappeared once more. But when it came up for
the last time it was to thrash with its tail with such
force that it made a depression in the water sufficient
to reveal part of the entrance to the tunnel.
FIVE WEEKS 203
The sharks again rushed upon their prey, but a shower
of bullets struck some and put the others to flight.
The sharks will probably be able to find the entrance
again and so get out of Backcup and reach the open sea;
nevertheless, for some days it would be more prudent not
to bathe in the lagoon. As for the whale, two men set
out in a boat to secure it. When it was dragged to the
jetty it was cut up by the Malay, who seemed no novice
at this kind of work.
At last I know for certain the exact spot where the
tunnel opens through the western wall. The orifice is
only three or four yards below the waterâ€™s edge. This
knowledge is, however, of little use to me.
August 7th.â€”It is now twelve days since Count dâ€™Artigas
SerkÃ©, and Spade went to sea. There is still no indica-
tion that the return of the schooner is near at hand. Yet
I have noticed that the tug holds itself ready to set out, as
a steamer gets up steam, and its coils are always kept in
tension by Gibson. Although the Â£dda fearlessly makes
the ports of the United States in open day, it is pro-
bable she will choose the night in preference for entering
the Backcup Channel. Therefore I think Ker Karraje
and his companions will return at night.
August tothâ€”Last night at about eight oâ€™clock, as I
had foreseen, the tug sank and crossed the tunnel in time
to tow the Â£02 through the passage, and it brought back
the passengers and crew.
Coming out this morning I caught sight of Roch and
Serk6 conversing as they went down to the lagoon. What
204 FOR THE FLAG
the subject of conversation was I can â€˜guess. I took up
my position about twenty paces away; this enabled me to
study my ex-patient.
His eyes were shining, his face was bright, his features
were transformed as the engineer answered his questions.
Presently he hurried to the jetty in order to reach the
SerkÃ© followed him, and they both stopped on the
The crew, who'were busy in unloading the cargo, had
just placed ten fair-sized cases on the rocks.
The covers of these cases bore a special brand in red
letters. Roch examined these with the minutest attention.
SerkÃ© then gave orders for the cases to be carried over
to the storehouse on the left bank. The transport was
immediately effected by a boat.
I believe these chests to contain the substances which
produce, on being mixed, both the explosive and the
deflagrator. As for the shells, they doubtless have been
ordered at some works in America. When they are
finished, the schooner will go and fetch them.
So for once the #4ba has not returned with stolen
goods; this time she is not guilty of fresh acts of piracy.
But Ker Karraje is going to be armed with terrible power
for the offensive and defensive at sea !
If the inventor is to be believed, his Fulgurator is
capable of destroying the terrestrial spheroid by one
explosion. Who knows whether he may not attempt it
THE ADVICE OF SERK6 THE ENGINEER.
THOMAS ROCH, who has set to work, spends long hours in
ashed on the left bank, which he uses asa laboratory. No
one enters it but himself. Does he mean to work at his
preparations alone, without revealing his methods? That
is likely enough. I have reason to think that the fabri-
cation of the Fulgurator is a very simple matter. In fact,
this style of projectile needs neither cannon, nor mortar,
nor discharging tube, like the Zalinski ball. Inasmuch as
it is auto-propulsive it carries in itself its propulsive force,
and every vessel passing within a certain zone will run the
risk of being destroyed by the frightful disturbance of the
atmospheric strata. What could be done against Ker
Karraje if he ever sets up such an instrument of destruc-
August 11th to 17thâ€”During this week M. Roch has
continued to work without interruption. Every morning
the inventor goes into his laboratory, and he does not
leave it-until nightfall. I do not even attempt to join him
or talk to him. Although he is still indifferent to every-
thing that does not touch his work, he appears to be in
206 FOR THE FLAG
complete possession of his senses. And why should he
not enjoy his full brain power? Has he not attained the
complete aim and end of his genius? Are not his plans,
conceived so long ago, in course of execution ?
August 17th to 18th.â€”At one oâ€™clock this morning the
noise of cannon coming from the exterior made me start
up out of my sleep.
â€œIs it an attack on Backcup?â€ I asked myself. â€œAre
the movements of Count dâ€™Artigasâ€™ schooner suspected ?
and has she been pursued to the entrance of the channels ?
Are they trying to destroy the island with cannon? Is
justice going to be done to these desperadoes, before Roch
can finish the making of his explosive, before the recep-
tacles can be brought to Backcup ?â€
Several times these detonations occurred at almost
regular intervals, Presently it occurred to me, if the Â£dda
is destroyed, all communication with the mainland will be
impossible, the provisioning of the island can no longer be
It is true the tug would convey Count dâ€™Artigas to
some point on the American Coast, and there would be
plenty of money for the purchase of a new pleasure boat.
But no matterâ€”Heaven be praised if Backcup is destroyed
before Ker Karraje secures the Roch Fulgurator !
In the morning as soon as it was light I rushed out of
There was nothing new about the Bechive. The
men were attending to their usual work. The tug
was at its moorings. I.saw M. Roch entering his
THE ADVICE OF SERKO THE ENGINEER 207
laboratory. Ker Karraje and SerkÃ© were quietly survey-
ing the edge of the lagoon. The island had not been
attacked during the night. . . . Still the noise of cannon-
ading at close quarters had disturbed my rest.
At that moment Ker Karraje went back to his apart-
ments and the engineer joined me, with his laughing air
and mocking face, the same as ever.
â€œWell, Mr. Simon Hart,â€ he said, â€œare you growing
accustomed to life in this quiet spot? Are you appre-
ciating the advantages of our enchanted grotto as they
deserve? Have you renounced the hope of regaining
your liberty some day or otherâ€”of flying from this
delightful spot, and of leaving,â€”
â€œ Ces lieux charmants
Ot mon Ame ravie,
Aimait 4 contempler Sylvieâ€?
What was the good of getting into a rage with this
scoffer? I answered him calmly,â€”
â€œNo, I have not renounced it, and I always count on
regaining my liberty.â€
â€œWhat, Mr. Hart, deprive us of a man we all esteemâ€”
and me of a confrÃ©re who has perhaps detected a portion
of M. Rochâ€™s secrets in the midst of his ramblings? You
are not serious.â€
Ah, it is for that reason they persist in keeping me in
their prison of Backcup? They suppose that the inven-
tion is partly known to me. They hope to make me
speak if M. Roch refuses to do so. That is why I was
carried off with him, and have not. been sent to the
208 FOR THE FLAG
bottom of the lagoon, with a stone tied to my neck!
It is well to know! Then in answer to Serkoâ€™s last
words I said,â€”
â€œ Quite serious, I assure you.â€
â€œAh, well,â€ continued my interlocutor, â€œif I had the
honour to be Simon Hart, I would argue to myself thus:
granting, on one side, Ker Karrajeâ€™s personality, the
reasons which have induced him to choose so mysterious
a hiding-place as this cavern, the necessity that the said
cavern should baffle all attempts at discovery, not only in
the interests of Count Dâ€™Artigas, but also of his com-
â€œ Of his accomplices, if you will allow me.â€
â€œOf his accomplices, be it so!â€”and on the other hand,
granting that you know Count Dâ€™Artigasâ€™ real name
and the mysterious strong box where our riches are
â€œTll-gotten gain, and soiled with blood, M. SerkÃ©.â€
â€œSo be it, again! You must understand that this
question of liberty can never be solved to your liking.â€
Discussion was useless under these conditions. So I
shifted the conversation to another line.
â€œMight I know,â€ I asked, â€œhow you have learned that
Gaydon the keeper is Simon Hart the engineer ? â€
â€œThere is no reason why I should not tell you, my
dear colleague. /It was rather by chance. We had some
business with the works to which you were attached, and
which you left one day, under circumstances sufficiently
singular. Now during a visit I paid to Healthful House,
THE ADVICE OF SERKO THE ENGINEER 209
some months before Count Dâ€™Artigasâ€™, I saw youâ€”
â€œJ, and from that moment I promised myself that I
would have you asa travelling companion on board the
I could not recall ever having come across this SerkÃ©
at Healthful House, but it is very likely that he spoke the
Â«And I hope,â€ I thought, â€œ that this fancy will one day
or other cost you dear.â€
Then I said abruptly,â€”
â€œTf Iam not mistaken, you have induced M. Roch to
surrender the secret of his Fulgurator to you?â€
â€œYes, Mr. Hart, for some millions. Oh, the millions
cest us only the trouble of taking them! So we have
crammed his pockets with them.â€
â€œAnd of what use will they be to him, if he is
not free to take them away, and enjoy them out-
â€œThe question does not occur to him, Mr. Hart! That
man of genius does not worry himself about the future.
He lives in the present. While yonder, in America, the
shells are being made according to his designs, he is
occupied here in manipulating the chemicals with which
he is abundantly provided. Ah, well! it is a wonderful
auto-propulsive engine, which regulates its own speed, and
increases until it arrives at its goal, thanks to the pro-
perties of a certain powder of progressive combustion !
210 â€˜ FOR THE FLAG
It is an invention which will lead to a radical change in
the art of war.â€
â€œ Defensive, M. Serko?â€
â€œ And offensive, Mr. Hart.â€
| Â« Naturally,â€ I replied.
Then, pressing the engineer, I added,â€”
â€œ Soâ€”what no one has yet succeeded in obtaining from
â€œWe have obtained it without great difficulty.â€
â€œ By paying himâ€”â€ :
â€œAn unheard of price; and, in addition, by striking a
chord which is very sensitive in this man.â€
Â« â€œWhat chord ?â€
â€œ That of vengeance.â€
s Vengeanceâ€”against whom?â€
â€œ Against all those who have made themselves â€˜his
enemies by discouraging him, by repulsing him, by ex-
pelling him, by constraining him to beg the price of an
invention of such incontestable superiority from country
to country! Now all idea of patriotism is extinguished
in his mind! He has but one thought, one fierce desire:
revenge on those who have slighted him. . . even on all
â€˜mankind! Truly, your governments of Europe and
America, Mr. Hart, are injudicious in having failed to
purchase the Roch Fulgurator at its worth.â€
My informant then described, enthusiastically, the many
advantages of the new explosive, incontestably superior,
he told me, to â€˜the very latest then talked of.
- â€œ And so destructive!â€ he added. â€œIts effect is similar
THE ADVICE OF SERKO THE ENGINEER 211
to the Zalinski shell, but a hundred times greater, and
requires no projecting apparatus, since it flies, so to speak,
on its own wings through space.â€
I listened, in the hope of detecting a portion of the
secret, but Serk6 said no more than he intended to say.
â€œHas M. Roch,â€ I asked, â€œmade known to you the
composition of his explosive ?â€
â€œYes, Mr. Hartâ€”with your leaveâ€”and we shall soon
possess large quantities of it, which will be stored in a safe
â€œAnd is there not dangerâ€”perpetual danger in re-
serving -so much of this substance? If there were an
accident, the explosion would destroy the island ofâ€”â€
Once more the name of Backcup was on the point of
escaping me. Aware at once of the identity of Ker
Karraje, and the situation of the cavern, Simon Hart
would be considered decidedly better informed than was
Happily the engineer had not observed my pause, and
â€œWe have nothing to fear. Rochâ€™s explosive can only
be ignited by means of a special defiagrator. Neither
shock nor fire will make it explode.â€
â€œFlas Thomas Roch also sold you the secret of this
â€œYes, Mr. Hart,â€™ replied the engineer, although I
noticed a certain hesitation in his response. â€œBut I re-
peat there is no danger, and you may sleep with perfect
ease! We have no wisli to be blown up with our cavern
212 FOR THE FLAG
and our treasures! A few more successful years and we
shall divide the profits, which will be sufficiently large to
make each oneâ€™s portion a decent fortune, to be enjoyed
according to his fancyâ€”after the liquidation of the firm
Ker Karraje and Co.! I may add that not only are we
safe from an explosion, but we do not dread a denun-
ciationâ€”which you alone would be in a position to make,
my dear Mr. Hart! So I counsel you to resign yourself
as a sensible man, to wait patiently until the liquidation of
the society. When that day comes we shall decide how
we are to secure ourselves against you.â€
It must be admitted these words were anything but re-
However, between this and then we shall see. I sur-
mised from this conversation that though M. Roch may
have sold his explosive to Ker Karraje and Co., he has
kept the secret of his deflagrator, without which the
explosive is of no more value than the dust on the high
Nevertheless, before closing the interview, I thought I
might make an observation to SerkÃ© which was very
natural after all,â€”
â€œYou now know the composition of this explosive.
. Well, on the whole, has it really that destructive power
â€œwhich its inventor attributes to it? Has it ever been
tried? How do you know that you have not bought a
_compound as harmless as a pinch of snuff?â€ ;
â€œPerhaps you are more certain on this. point than you
wish to appear, Mr. art. But I thank you, nevertheless,
THE ADVICE OF SERKO THE ENGINEER 213
for the interest you take in our business. You may rest
entirely assured! The other night we made a series of
decisive experiments, With one ounce avoirdupois of
this substance, enormous pieces of rock on the shore were
reduced to the finest dust.â€
This explained the cannonading I had heard.
â€œSo, my dear colleague,â€ continued the engineer, â€œI can
positively assure you we are running norisk. The effects
of the explosive surpass anything that you can imagine.
It would be sufficiently powerful, with a charge of several
thousand tons, to demolish our spheroid and to scatter its
fragments through space, like those of the burst-up planet
between Mars and Jupiter. Therefore, you may take it
for granted that it is capable of annihilating any ship at a
distance that defies the longest trajectory of the present
projectiles, and over a danger-zone of a good mile. The
weak point of the invention, so far, lies in the regulation of
the aim ; that requires some time for its modification.â€
He stopped, like a man who does not want to say more,
and he added,â€”
â€œSo, I end as I began, Mr. Hart. Resign yourself!
â€œAccept this new existence without reservation! Embrace
the quiet pleasures of our subterranean life! Here health
is preserved when it is good, it is recovered when it is
failing! That is what has happened to your compatriot.
Resign yourself to your fate. It is the wisest thing you
can do.â€ .
Thereupon this giver of good counsels left me, after
having saluted me in the friendly manner of a man whose
214 FOR THE FLAG
kind intentions merited appreciation. But what irony there
was in his words, his looks, his attitude! Shall I never be
permitted to punish him for his insults ?
In any case, I have learned from his conversation that the
regulating of the aim is complicated. It is probable that
this mile zone wherein the effects of the Roch Fulgurator
are terrible is not easily altered, and that inside as well as
outside this circle a vessel may be safe. If I could only
inform those who are interested !
August 20th.â€”For two days there has been no incident
to record. I have extended my daily promenade to the |
extreme limits of Backcup. At night, when the electric
lamps light up the long perspective of arches, I cannot
avoid a quasi-religious feeling in contemplating the natural
wonders of this cavern, my prison. Besides, I have not
lost hope of discovering some fissure in the wall unknown
to the pirates, by which I may escape! Then,after?..
Once outside, I should have to wait until a ship passed
within sight. My escape would be quickly known at the
Beehive, and they would speedily overtake meâ€”unless,
indeed, the boatâ€”the Â£dÃ©aâ€™s boat, which is secured at the
bottom of the creek. . . . If I could but get possession of
it, pass through the channels, and make for St.
George or Hamilton.â€
During the eveningâ€”it was about nine oâ€™clockâ€”I
stretched myself ona carpet of sand at the foot of one of the
pillars, about a hundred yards to the east of the lagoon.
A few minutes afterwards, steps at first, and then voices,
became audible at a short distance. Crouching as best I
THE ADVICE OF SERKO THE ENGINEER 215
could behind the rocky base of the pillar, I listened -atten-
I recognized the voices. They were those of Ker.
Karraje and Serk6. The two men had stopped, and were
talking in Englishâ€”the language generally used in Back-
cup. So I was able to understand all they said.
They were discussing Thomas Roch, or rather his
â€œTn eight days,â€ said Ker Karraje, â€œI count on setting
out in the #402, and I shall bring back the various pieces
which should be completed in the Virginia works.â€
â€œAnd when they are in our possession,â€ replied the
engineer, â€œI shall attend to the business operationsâ€™ of
putting them together, and the setting up. of the dis-
charging slides. But first, we must proceed with a work
which seems to me indispensable.â€
â€œ What is that?â€ Ker Karraje asked. .
â€œTo tunnel the wall of our island.â€
â€œ To tunnel it?â€
â€œOh, only to make an outlet so narrow as to give pas-
sage to one man at a time, a sort of tube easy-to stop up;
with its outside entrance concealed among the rocks.â€
â€œWhat would be the use of it; Serk6 >?â€
â€œT have often thought of the advantese of hans a
communication with the outside other than the submarine
tunnel. One. never knows what. may happen in the
* But these. dividing walls are so thick and so hard,â€
Ker Karraje remarked.
216 FOR THE FLAG
â€œWith a few grains of the Roch explosive, â€ replied the
other, â€œI undertake to reduce the oe toa ouet so fine
you will only have to blow it away.â€
It is easy to understand the interest this conversation
had for me. Here was a question of opening a communi-
cation, other than the tunnel, between the interior and
exterior of Backcup. Who knows if I might not then find
an opportunity ?
As I was making this reflection Ker Karraje replied,â€”
â€œVery well, that is settled ; and if we are required one
day to defend Backcup, to prevent any vessel from
approaching, were our retreat revealed, either by chance or
â€œThere is no fear of either chance or intimation,â€ replied
â€œNot on the part of one of our companions, certainly,
but by this Simon Hart.â€
â€œHe!â€ cricd the engineer. â€œHe must escape first.
And no one cscapes from Backcup! Besides, I declare,
that good fellow interests me. He isa colleague, after
all, and I always suspect that he knows more than he
admits about this invention. I shall talk to him in
such a way, that we shall end by understanding one
another. I will chat to him about physics, mechanics,
ballistics, like two chums.â€
â€˜It does not matter,â€
replied the generous and tender
Count dâ€™Artigas. - â€œ When we are in the possession of the
whole secret, we might as well rid ourselves ofâ€” â€
â€œWe have plenty of time, Ker Karraje.â€
F i 7
oF Avhearer unseen.
THE ADVICE OF SERKO THE ENGINEER 219
â€œIf God grants it to you, you wretches!â€ I thought, as
I pressed my hand upon my heart, which was beating
violently. Yet, except by an immediate intervention of
Providence, what can I hope for ?
They changed the subject, and Ker Karraje remarked,â€”
* Now that we know the composition of the explosive,
SerkÃ©, Roch must be made to reveal the composition of
the deflagrator, at any price.â€
â€œThat is absolutely necessary,â€ the engineer replied,
â€œand I am doing my best to induce him. Unfortunately,
he refuses to discuss it. However, he has already pro-
duced some drops of this deflagrator, which served to test
the explosive; and he will supply us with more when we
want to begin the excavation.â€
â€˜* Butâ€”-for the expeditions at sea?â€â€™ Ker Karraje asked.
â€œ Have patienceâ€”we shall end by having his Fulgurator
all complete in our hands.â€
â€œ Are you sure, Serko?â€
â€˜Sure ?>â€”by paying the price, Ker ikearrenee.
The interview ended with these words, and the two men
went on without having seen meâ€”fortunately. Serko
had to a certain extent undertaken my defence, but
Count dâ€™Artigas appeared to be animated with = less
benevolent intentions towards me. On the least suspicion
I shall be flung into the lagoon, and if I get through the
tunnel it will only be as a corpse carried out by the
August 21st.â€”The next day SerkÃ© came to reconnoitre
the spot most suitable for opening the passage, so that its
220 FOR THE FLAG
existence should not be suspected from the outside.
After a minute examination, he decided that it must be
effected in the north wall ten yards*in front of the first
cells of the Beehive.
I am eager for this corridor to be complete. Who
knows? it may serve for my escape! If I had been a
swimmer, perhaps I would already have been tempted to
get away through the tunnel, as I know exactly where the
mouth is situated. Atthe time of that fight in the lagoon,
when the water was flattened under the last stroke of the
whaleâ€™s tail, the upper part of the orifice was for a moment
free. Well, surely it is uncovered in the spring tides ?
I must ascertain this. At the time of the full and new
moon, when the sea reaches its maximum of depression
below the ordinary level, it is possible thatâ€”
August 29thâ€”This morning I was present at the de-
parture of the tugâ€”no doubt for one of the American
ports in order to embark some of the shells which are
Count Dâ€™Artigas conversed for a few minutes with
Serko, who, it appeared, was not to accompany him, and
he seemed to be giving him some instructions, possibly
with reference to me. Then, after having stepped on the
platform, he descended into the interior of the boat,
followed by Captain Spade and the crew of the dda.
As soon as the hatchway was closed the tug sank under
the water and a slight bubbling troubled the surface for an
Hours have passed, and the day is drawing to a close.
THE ADVICE OF SERKO THE ENGINEER 221
As the tug has not returned to its post I conclude that
it is going to tow the schooner, this voyageâ€”perhaps
also to destroy the vessels that cross its path.
However, it is probable that the absence of the Edda
will be of short duration, and that a week will be enough
for the voyage out and back.
Nevertheless, the #da has the luck of good weather if
I may judge by the atmospheric calm which reigns in the
interior of the cavern. Besides, this is the time for fine
weather in the Bermuda latitudes. Ah, if I.could find a
breach in the walls of my prison!
â€œA DIEU VAT Vee
â€˜August 29th to September 10thâ€”Thirteen days have
passed, and the #Ã©da has not returned. Can it be that
she has not gone direct to the American coast, or is she
delayed by some piracies off Backcup? I think, how-
ever, that Ker Karraje would devote himself to the pro-
curing of the shells. Of course the works in Virginia may
not have finished them.
Any way, Serko shows no signs of impatience. He
always welcomes me as usual with his air of good-fellow-
ship, which I do not trust, and with reason. He affects
to inquire after the state of my health, urges me to com-
plete resignation, calls me Ali Baba, assures me there does
not exist in the whole world a more enchanting spot than
this cave of the Thousand and One Nights; that here I
am fed, warmed, lodged, clothed, without having to pay
either duty or tax, and that even at Monaco the in- Â©
habitants of that happy principality do not enjoy an
existence more free from care.
Sometimes this satirical chatter makes the colour mount
to my face, and I am seized with a temptation to rush at
â€œA DIEU VAT!â€ 223
-the throat of the pitiless scoffer and strangle him by main
â€˜force. They would kill me then... what matter!
Would it not be better to end in this way than to be
â€˜condemned to live for years and years in the infamous
surroundings of Backcup?
Then reason reasserts itself, and I merely shrug my
As for Thomas Roch, I scarcely saw him during
the first days after following the departure of the 4dda.
He was shut up in his laboratory, where he worked un-
ceasingly. Suppose he utilized all the ingredients placed
at his disposal, he would have enough to blow up Back-
cup and the whole of the Bermudas!
I cling to the hope that he will never consent to reveal
the composition of the deflagrator, and that all Serkoâ€™s
efforts will fail to drag this last secret from him.
Will this hope be frustrated ?
September 13th.â€”To-day with my own eyes I was able
to attest the power of the explosive, and to observe, at the
same time, the way in which the deflagrator is used.
In the morning the men commenced the tunnelling of
the wall at the spot previously selected.
Under the engineerâ€™s direction the workmen began
operations at the foot of the wall, where the limestone is
so extremely hard, that it might be compared to granite.
It was with the pick, wielded by vigorous arms, that
the first attack was made; but were that implement alone
to be employed, the work would be very slow and very
laborious, since the rock is from twenty to twenty-five
224 FOR THE FLAG
yards in thickness in that part of the basement of Backcup.
But, thanks to the Roch Fulgurator, the work will be
completed with very little delay.
What I saw was enough to astonish me. The dis-
ruption of the rock by the explosive was performed with
A very small quantity of the explosive sufficed to reduce
the mass of rock.to an almost impalpable dust, which the
lightest breath would blow away like smoke.
The first time this explosive was used, even though so
small a quantity was employed, several men who had drawn
too near the rock were thrown down. â€˜Twowere picked up
seriously injured, and Serko himself, who had been carried
some yards away, received some severe bruises.
The new substance acted in the following manner,
and its shattering force surpasses everything that has
hitherto been invented.
A hole two inches long and one-third of an inch wide
was first made obliquely in the rock. Into this the
substance was introduced in very small quantity, and it
was not even necessary to plug the hole by means of a wad.
Then Thomas Roch came forward. In his hand was a
little glass tube containing a blueish liquid of oily appear-
ance, and very quick to coagulate when in contact with
the air. He poured a few drops into the mouth of the
hole, and then retired without any haste. It requires, in
fact, a little timeâ€”about thirty-five secondsâ€”for the com-
bination of the deflagrator and the explosive to be effected.
When that happens, the force of disruption is such that
â€˜*A DIEU VAT!â€ 227
it may almost be called unlimited ; and in any case it is
thousands of times superior to the innumerable explo-
sives now known.
Under these conditions, it is plain that the tunnelling,
although the rock is so hard and thick, will be finished in
about a week,
September 19th.â€”For some time I have observed that
the phenomenon of the tide, which may be observed very
accurately through the submarine tunnel, produces currents
in a contrary direction twice in the twenty-four hours.
It is therefore not to be doubted that a floating object
thrown on the surface of the lagoon would be carried out
by the ebb tide, if the upper part of the aperture were
Now, does not this disclosure take place during the
lowest stage of the equinoctial tides ? Ishallsoon beable
to ascertain, as we are precisely at that period. The day
after to-morrow will be the 21st of September, and to-day
is the 19th. I could distinguish the upper part of the
aperture beneath the water at low tide.
Well, although I cannot myself attempt to get through
the tunnel, why could not a bottle thrown upon the water
have the luck to do so during the last few minutes of the
ebb tide? And why should not an accidentâ€”ultra-
providential, I admitâ€”cause the bottle to be picked up
by some ship passing Backcup? The currents even
might cast it on one of the Bermuda coasts. And if that
bottle were to contain a statementâ€”
This idea engrosses my mind; but there are objections
228 FOR THE FLAG
to its execution. A bottle will run the risk of being
broken either in going through the tunnel or in striking
against the reefs outside before it reaches the open sea.
But if instead of a bottle a barrel hermetically sealed were
used, a small cask like those which float the fishing nets,
it would not be exposed to the same chances of breaking,
and might reach the ocean,
September 20th.â€”To-night, unseen, I went into one of
the storehouses, and readily found a little keg very
suitable for my purpose.
I hid it under my cloak, and returned to the Beehive,
where I lost no time in setting to work in my cell.
Paper, ink, and pensâ€”I want for nothing. Have I not
for three months daily taken the notes from which I furnish
this narrative ?
I wrote on a sheet of paper the following lines :â€”
Â« After a double abduction, effected on the 15th of June,
Thomas Roch and his keeper, Gaydon, or rather the
French engineer, Simon Hart, who occupied Pavilion 17
at Healthful House, near Newburn, North Carolina, in the
United States of America, were, on the 19th of the same
month, conducted on board the Â£Ã©a, a schooner belonging
to Count dâ€™Artigas. Both are now shut up in the interior
of acavern that serves as hiding-place for the aforesaid
Count dâ€™Artigas, whose real name is Ker Karraje, the
pirate, formerly notorious on the West Pacific, and about
a hundred men forming the gang of that formidable
news upon the waters.
â€œA DIEU VAT!â€ 231
â€œWhen he has in his possession the Roch Fulgurator,
which is of almost unlimited power, Ker Karraje will be
enabled to continue his piracies under conditions of still
more secure impunity.
â€œThus it is urgent that the States interested should
destroy his haunt with as little delay as possible. The
cavern in which Ker Karraje has taken refuge, exists in
the interior of the island of Backcup, which is erroneously
believed to be an active volcano. Situated at the extreme
west of the Bermudas, it is protected by reefs on the east,
but open on south, west, and north.
â€œ* Access to the inside is as yet only possible by a tunnel,
which opens some yards below the mean surface of the
water at the end of a narrow channel to the west. In
order to penetrate to the interior of Backcup, a submarine
boat is necessaryâ€”at least so long as the outlet is not
finished. The pirates are at present occupied in blasting
through the north-west side.
â€œThe pirate Ker Karraje possesses a vessel of this
kind, the very one Count dâ€™Artigas had built and which is
supposed to have been lost during its trial performance in
Charleston Bay. This tug is employed not only for entry
and exit through the tunnel, but also to tow the schooner
and to attack the merchant ships which frequent these
â€œThis schooner, the Â£da, well known along the western
coast of America, has for its sole port of destination a
little creek hidden behind a mass of rock, invisible from
the ocean and situated to the west of the island.
232 FOR THE FLAG
â€œ Before a landing on Backcupâ€”on the western side for
preference, where the Bermudan fishermen lived at one
timeâ€”is effected, an attempt should be made to open a
breach in the rock with the most powerful melinite pro-
â€œ After the landing, perhaps such a breach would enable
the crew to reach the interior of Backcup through this
â€œ The possibility of the Roch Fulgurator being brought
into requisition must also be foreseen. It is possible that
Ker Karraje, being taken by surprise, will employ it to
defend Backcup. Let it therefore be borne in mind that,
although its destructive power surpasses everything that
has been imagined until the present time, it extends only
over a circle of sixteen or seventeen hundred yards. The
distance of this danger-zone is variable, but the range
once regulated takes a long time to alter, and a vessel
having passed the zone above-named, might approach the
island with impunity.
â€œThis document is written on the 20th of September at
8 p.m., and signed with my name,
â€œ SIMON HART, Engineer.â€
Such is the draft of the document which I have just
drawn up. It tells all that is to be told about the island,
whose position is indicated on modern maps; also the
defence of Backcup which Ker Karraje is likely to organize,
and the importance of immediate action. I appended to
this a plan of the cavern, showing its internal arrangement,
â€˜4 DIEU VAT!â€ 233
the position of the lagoon, the Beehive, Ker Karrajeâ€™s
residence, my cell, and the laboratory used by Thomas
But this document must reach someone, somewhereâ€”and
will it ever be found?
Having enclosed my missive in a strong piece of tarred
linen, I placed it in the little keg, which had an iron hoop,
and measured about six inches long by three inches wide.
This was perfectly watertight, for I satisfied myself on that
point, and capable of resisting rough usage, either in
going through the tunnel or against the rocks outside.
It may, however, fail to reach trustworthy hands, and
be flung instead on the rocks of this island by the returning
tide and found by the crew of the #4da when the yacht
returns to the creek. If this document comes into Ker
Karrajeâ€™s possession, signed with my name and revealing
his, I need no longer trouble myself about methods of
escape, my fate will be quickly decided !
It may be imagined with what feverish impatience I
waited for night. According to my calculations, based on
previous observation, it would be low water at a quarter
to nine, and at that moment about twenty inches of the
upper part of the aperture would be uncovered. The
space between the surface of the water and the roof of the
tunnel would be more than sufficient for the passage of
the little keg. I meant to launch it half an hour before
the slack, in order that the ebb, which would still be
running out, might carry it away.
Towards eight o'clock, in the dusk, I left my cell. No
234 FOR THE FLAG
one was to be seen on the banks. I walked towards the
rock where the tunnel lay. By the light of the last electric
lamp on that side, I saw the orifice rounding its arch
above the water, and the current was in that direction.
- Then I ascended the rock to the waterâ€™s level, and I
launched the little keg containing my precious communi-
cation, and with it my only hope.
â€œA Dieu vat!â€ I repeated. â€œA Dieu vat!â€ as our
French sailors say.
The tiny barrel, at first stationary, returned towards the
bank in an eddy. I had to push it off strongly so that
the reflux might seize it.
It wasdone! In less than twenty secondsit disappeared
into the tunnel. Yes! â€œA Dieu vat!â€ May Heaven guide
you, my little keg! May God protect all those whom
Ker Karraje menaces, and grant that this pirate horde
may not escape the award of manâ€™s justice !
THE SWORD IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG.
DURING a sleepless night my thoughts followed the keg.
Many times I seemed to see it striking against the
rocks, turning up the creek or caught in some crevice.
A cold sweat bedewed my body from head to foot:
At last the tunnel is passed, the little cask is getting
through the channelâ€”the tide is carrying it out to
sea. Heavens! if the flood were to bring it back to
the entrance and into the interior of Backcup! if when
daylight came I should see it! ...
At the first glimmer of dawn I rose and made my way
to the strand.
I looked around, slowly, closely, tremblingly !â€”nothing
was to be seen on the tranquil water.
During the following days the work of piercing the rock
went on under the same conditions. SerkÃ© blasted the
last rock at four oâ€™clock this afternoon (the 23rd Sep-
tember). The communication is establishedâ€”it is nothing
but a small rift through which one must scramble, but it
is enough. Outside, the opening is hidden among the
236 FOR THE FLAG
dÃ©bris of the coast, and it will be easy to fill it up if that
precaution becomes necessary.
Needless to say this outlet will be strictly guarded. No
one can pass through it either to enter or to leave the
cavern without permission. Therefore escape is im-
possible that way.
September 25th.â€”This morning the tug appeared out of
the depths of thelagoon. Count dâ€™Artigas, Captain Spade,
and the yachtâ€™s crew appeared on the jetty, and the un-
loading of the goods brought by the Â£dda began. I
observed several bales for the provisioning of Backcup,
cases of meats and preserves, casks of wine and brandyâ€”
besides a number of chests for M. Roch. At the same
time the men brought ashore the various pieces of the
bombs destined for the inventorâ€™s use.
M. Roch was present at the landing of these goods.
His eyes were extraordinarily bright. He seized one of
the pieces, examined it, and nodded his head, as a sign of
satisfaction. I noticed that his delight did not display
itself in any incoherence; there remained nothing of the
late resident of Healthful House. I wondered whether if
that partial madness which had been thought incurable
was not radically cured.
Then my fellow captive entered the boat used for
crossing the lagoon, and SerkÃ© accompanied him to his
laboratory. In an hour, the whole of the tugâ€™s cargo was
transported to the other side.
Ker Karraje had only exchanged a few words with
Serk6, but later in the afternoon they met, and conversed
THE â€œSWORDâ€ IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG 237
for a long time, walking up and down in front of the
When the interview was ended, they went to the newly
made outlet, and entered it, followed by Captain Spade.
Why could I not slip in after them? Why may I not
breathe, if it were only for an instant, the refreshing breeze
of the Atlantic, of which Backcup gets, so to speak, a
the used-up breath ?
From the 26th September to the 10th October.â€”A fortnight
has passed. Under the direction of SerkÃ© and Roch the
bombs have been put together. Then came the mounting
of the discharging carriages. These are merely a sort of
easel with grooves at different inclinations, and they will
be easy to set up on board the Â£dda, or even on the
platform of the tug when on a level with the water.
So, then, Ker Karraje is about to become lord of the
seas, with his schooner for his whole fleet! No warship
will be able to pass that danger-zone which will keep the
Ebba beyond the range of its guns! Ah! if only my
warning had been picked up. If this piratesâ€™ lair of
Backcup were but known! It would be easy, if not to
destroy, at least starve it out.
October 20th.â€”To my extreme surprise, this morning,
the tug was not at its usual place. I remember that last
night the elements of its battery were renewed, but I
thought that was merely to put them in readiness. Its
departure, now that the passage is open, means that some
expedition is projected. Certainly M. Roch has not run
short of any of his requisites. Yet we are now in the
238 FOR THE FLAG
season of the equinox, and the sea about the Bermudas
is swept by frequent storms. That squalls arise with
terrible turbulence, we know by the tremendous gusts of
wind which rush into the crater; rain fills the cave, and
the waters of the lagoon rise, and sweep the rocks on the
banks with spray. (
But is it certain that the schooner has left the creek?
Is -she not too fragileâ€”even with the aid of her tugâ€”to
face such rough seas ?
On theâ€™ other hand, can it be that the tug, as it has
nothing to fear from the waves, since it can always enjoy
calm seas below the surface, has undertaken a voyage
without the schooner ?
I know not to what cause to attribute the departure of
the submarine machine, which has not returned,
This time Serko has remained at Backcup. Only Ker
Karraje, Captain Spade, and the crew have left the island.
Life goes on with its usual enervating monotony
among the immured colonists. I pass whole hours in
the depth of my cell, meditating, hoping, despairing,
clinging with a weakening hold each day, to that little
cask cast on the caprice of the currents, and writing out
my notes, which will perish with me in all likelihood.
Thomas Roch is occupied all day in his laboratoryâ€”
making his deflagrator, I think. I am still sure that he
will not sell the secret of the composition of this liquid at
â€˜any price. But I also know that he will not hesitate to
place his invention at Ker Karrajeâ€™s service.
I often meet Serko when my walks take me to the
THE â€œâ€˜SWORDâ€ IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG 239
vicinity of the Beehive. He always shows himself dis-
posed to converse with me in an impertinent, flippant way.
We talk of one thing and anotherâ€”rarely of my situa-
tion, about that it is useless to argue. I should only
bring fresh sarcasm upon myself,
October 22nd.â€”To-day I thought I might ask the
engineer whether the schooner had gone with the tug.
â€œYes, Mr. Simon Hart,â€ he replied, â€œand though the
weather is detestable, regular dogsâ€™ or wolvesâ€™ weather in
fact, you need have no fear for our dear Edda!â€
â€œTs she to be long away?â€
â€œWe expect her back within forty-eight hours. This is
Count dâ€™Artigasâ€™ last voyage before the winter storms
-render these waters absolutely impracticable.â€
â€œA voyage of pleasureâ€”or business ?â€ I inquired.
Serk6 answered me, smiling,â€”
â€œBusiness, Mr. Hart, business! At the present time
our bombs are completed, and when the fine weather comes
we have only to resume the offensive.â€
â€œ Against unfortunate ships.â€
** Equally unfortunateâ€”and richly laden |â€
â€œ Acts of piracy, which you will not always practise with
impunity, I hope!â€ I exclaimed.
â€œCalm yourself, my dear colleague, calm yourself. You
-know quite well no one will ever discover our retreat, no
one can ever reveal the secret! Besides, with these
bombs, so easily managed, and of such awful force, it
will be easy for us to destroy any ship which passes
within a certain. distance. of the island.â€
240 FOR THE FLAG
â€˜On the condition,â€ I said, â€œthat M. Roch sells you
the composition of his deflagrator as he has sold you that
of the Fulgurator.â€
â€œThat is done, Mr. Hart, so I can relieve you of any
anxiety on the point.â€
This explicit answer would have forced me to conclude
that the latter misfortune was an accomplished fact, if the
hesitating tone of his voice had not made me feel that
implicit faith was not to be placed in SerkÃ©.
October 25Â¢h.â€”I have just had a terrible adventure. I
cannot think how I have escaped with my life! It is a
miracle that J am able to-day to continue my notes after
forty-eight hoursâ€™ interruption! With a very little more
luck I should have been delivered! I should now be in
one of the Bermuda ports, St. George or Hamilton. The
mysteries of Backcup would be revealed. With all
nations on the watch the schooner could not show itself
in any port, and the victualling of Backcup would thus
become impossible! Ker Karrajeâ€™s bandits would be
doomed to die of hunger !
This is what happened.
On the night of the 23rd, about eight oâ€™clock, I had
left my cell in an indescribable state of nervousness, as
though I had a presentiment that something serious was
about to happen. In vain had I sought peace in slumber,
and, despairing of sleep, I went out.
Outside the island, on the high sea, the weather must
have been bad. The wind was swirling through the crater,
and the waters of the lagoon were surging.
THE â€˜â€˜SWORDâ€ IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG 241
I walked towards the bank on the Beehive side. It
was deserted at that hour. The temperature was low,
and the atmosphere was damp. All the hornets in the
â€œhiveâ€ were hidden in their cells. } ;
A man was on guard at the entrance to the passage,
although it was obstructed at the other end. From the
place at which he stood he could not see the banks.
Besides, I saw there were only two lamps lighted, over the
right and left shores of the lagoon, so that profound dark-
ness reigned in the forest of pillars.
As I stood thus in the shadow someone passed close to
I recognized Thomas Roch.
He had not noticed me. He. was walking slowly,
absorbed in his reflections as usual ; his imagination always
strained, his mind always at work. s
It struck me that this might be a favourable opportunity
of talking to him, of telling him what he evidently does
not know. . . . He is ignorant, he cannot know into whose
hands he has fallen. He does not imagine that Count
dâ€™Artigas is no other than Ker Karraje the pirate.. He.
has no suspicion that he has yielded a part of his invention
tosuch a ruffian. . . . He must be told that he can. never.
enjoy the millions he has been paid. He will never be at
liberty to leave this prison any morethan I. .... Yes! I.
shall appeal to his sentiments of humanity, to the misery
for which he will be responsible, if he does not keep his last
secret. . . . L had reached this point in my reflections
when I was roughly seized from behind. | fs
242 FOR THE FLAG
Two men held my arms, and a third stood in front of me.
IT tried to cry out.
â€œHush! Hush!â€ said the third man in English. â€œAre
you not Simon Hart ?â€
â€œHow do you know ?â€
â€œT saw you leave your cell.â€
â€˜* Then who are you?â€
â€œ Lieutenant Davon of the British navy, officer on board
the Standard, stationed at the Bermudas.â€
I could not speak, I was so overcome with emotion.
â€˜We have come to rescue you from the hands of Ker
Karraje, and to carry off Thomas Roch, the French.
inventor, with you,â€ added the lieutenant.
â€œ Thomas Roch ?â€ I stammered.
â€œYes; the document signed by your name was picked
up on the strand at St. George.â€
â€œIn a keg, Lieutenant Davon; a keg that I threw into
â€œ Containing,â€ the Englishman continued, â€œa statement
by which we have learned that this island serves asa refuge
for Ker Karraje and his gangâ€”Ker Karraje, the fictitious
Count dâ€™Artigas, perpetrator of the double abduction from
â€œ Now thereâ€™s not a moment to lose. We must avail
ourselves of the darkness.â€
â€œOne word, Lieutenant. How did you get here?â€
â€œ By means of our submarine boat, the Szord, which for
six months has been experimenting at St. George.â€
â€œ A submarine boat ?â€
THE â€œâ€˜SWORDâ€ IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG 243
â€œYes; it is waiting for us at the foot of these rocks,
Mr. Hart, where is Ker Karrajeâ€™s tug ?â€
â€œGone, three weeks ago.â€
â€˜* Ker Karraje is not at Backcup? â€
â€œNot at present, but he is expected at any moment.â€
â€œTt does not matter,â€ replied the lieutenant. â€œIt is not
Ker Karraje we want, it is Thomas Roch, whom we have
orders to carry offâ€”with you, Mr. Hart. The Sword will
not leave the lagoon until you are both on board. If it
does not return to St. George it will be known that I have
failed, and the attempt will be repeated.â€
â€œWhere is the Szord?â€
â€œ On this side, under the shadow of the rocks where it
cannot be seen. Thanks to your instructions my crew and
I recoznized the entrance to the submarine tunnel. The
Sword passed through it safely. Ten minutes ago it rose
to the surface of the lagoon. Twoof my men cameashore
with me. I saw you leave the cell indicated on your plan.
Do you know where M. Roch is now ?â€
â€œ A few steps from here. He has just passed me on his
way to the laboratory.â€
** Thank God!â€
â€œYes; thank God!â€
The lieutenant, the two men, and myself took the path
skirting the lagoon. We had hardly walked ten yards
when I saw the object of oursearch. To fall upon him, gag
him before he could utter a cry, bind him before he could
make a movement, carry him to the foot of the rock where
the Sword lay, was the work of hardly more than a minute.
244 FOR THE FLAG
The Sword was a submarine boat of a dozen tons only,
consequently in dimensions and strength very inferior to
the tug. Two dynamos, worked by accumulators which
had been charged twelve hours before in the port of St.
George, gave the motion to its screw. But whatever it
was, this Szord would suffice to take us out of prison and
give us our libertyâ€”that liberty in which I no longer
believed!, At last Thomas Roch is about to escape from
the clutches of Ker Karraje and SerkÃ©. Those scoundrels
cannot use his invention, and nothing can prevent ships
from approaching the island, effecting a landing, forcing
an entrance through the passage, and seizing the
We met no one while the two men carried the inventor
to the spot where the Sword awaited us. We descended
into the interior. The hatch was closed, the compart-
ments were filled, the vessel was submerged. We were
â€˜The Sword, which was divided into three sections by
watertight bulkheads, was planned thus :â€”
The first section, containing the accumulators and the
machinery, extended from the midship-beam to the stern.
The second, that of the pilot, occupied the middle ofthe
vessel, and was surmounted by a periscope with lenticular
glasses, through which the light from an electric lantern
enabled it to be steered under the water.
The third occupied the bow, and there M. Roch and I
were both shut up.
I need not say that my companion, though he had been
THE â€˜â€˜ SWORDâ€™ IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG 247
relieved of the gag, was not released from his bonds, and I
doubt whether he was conscious of what was happening.
But we were in haste to get away, with the hope of
reaching St. George that.same night if no obstacle should
I pushed open the door of the compartment, and shutting
it after me I joined Lieutenant Davon near the man at the
In the stern compartment three men, including the
mechanician, awaited orders from the officer to put the
propeller in motion.
â€œ Lieutenant,â€ I then said, â€œI thought there was no
harm in leaving M. Roch alone. Perhaps I may be useful
to you in gaining the mouth of the tunnel.â€
â€œYes; stand near me, Mr. Hart.â€
It was then thirty-seven minutes past eight exactly.
The electric flame projected through the periscope, lighting
the surrounding waters with a faint glow. Leaving the
bank near which the Sword was stationed, we had to
traverse the whole length of the lagoon. To find the
â€˜tunnel would certainly be a difficulty, but not insurmount-
able. If we hugged the banks it was impossible not to
find it, even ina comparatively short time. Then through
the tunnel slowly, to escape injury against its walls, and
the Sword would rise to the surface of the sea and make
for St. George.
â€œ At what depth are we?â€ I asked the lieutenant.
â€œYou need sink no lower,â€ I said. â€˜â€œ According to my
248 FOR THE FLAG
observations, made during the high equinoctial tide, we
should be in the axis of the tunnel.â€
â€œ Allright!â€ replied the officer.
All right! It seemed to me that Providence had pro-
nounced those words by the mouth of my deliverer.
In truth, a better agent of the Divine Will could not have
been found. I looked at the lieutenant by the light of the
lantern. He was a man of thirty yearsâ€”cold, phlegmatic,
with a resolute face. The English officer in all his native
impassibility, as unmoved as though he had been on board
the Standard, and acting with extraordinary coolness, I
might even say with the precision of a machine.
â€˜â€œâ€˜ Coming through the tunnel I estimated its length at
forty yards,â€ he said to me.
â€œYes; from one extremity to the other, Lieutenant,
about forty yards.â€
In fact this figure must have been quite accurate, since
the passage tunnelled on a level with the shore measures
only about thirty yards.
The order was given to the mechanician to set the screw
in motion, and the Sword advanced very slowly for fear of
colliding with the bank.
Occasionally we went so near to the side that a black
mass darkened the end of the shaft of light cast by the
lantern. A turn of the wheel altered the steering. But
if the management of a submarine boat is difficult in the
open sea, how much more difficult is it under the lagoon!
After five minutesâ€™ progress, the Szord, which had been
kept at four fathoms, had not yet reached the opening.
THE â€œSWORDâ€ IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG 451
In a moment I said,â€”
-â€œ Perhaps, Lieutenant, it would be wise to return to the
surface ; we shall be better able to find the mass of rock
in which the opening is.â€
â€œJ think so too, if you can point out exactly where it
As a precaution, the current of the lantern was discon-
nected and the liquid medium became dark. On receiving
the. order, the mechanician set the pumps working, and
the vessel, lightened of the water in its reservoirs, rose
slowly to the surface of the lagoon.
I remained in my place in order to take the bearings
through the lens of the periscope.
Then the ascending movement ceased, and the Sword
emerged a foot at most above the water.
On that side I recognized the wall of the Beehive by
the lamp on the bank.
â€œWhat do you say?â€ asked Davon.
â€œWeare too much to the north. The tunnel lies to
the west of the cavern.â€
â€œTs there anyone on the banks ?â€
â€œThat is well. We may remain level with the water.
Then when the Sword is, in your opinion, facing the
tunnel, we shall sink.â€
That was the best thing to do, and the steersman put
the boat in the very eye of the tunnel, after having drawn
252 FOR THE FLAG
off the edge, to which he had gone too near. The helm
was righted slightly, and impelled by the screw, we
advanced in the right direction.
When we had gone no more than ten yards I said
â€œ Stop.â€ Sosoon as the current was interrupted the Sword
stopped, opened her valve, filled her compartments, and
The lantern of the periscope was again lighted; a sort
of black circle, which did not reflect the light, showed
itself in the dark part of the wall.
â€œThere! There! The tunnel!â€ I cried.
Was it not the door through which I was going to
escape my prison? Was not Liberty awaiting me out-
The Sword moved slowly towards the orifice.
A vague light appeared through the depths of the
tunnel, less than twenty yards in front. It was bearing
down upon us; it could only be the light projected by the
look-out of Ker Karrajeâ€™s boat.
â€œThe tug!â€ I cried. â€œ Lieutenant, there is the tug!â€
* Back her!â€ he shouted.
And the Sword backed at the moment it was about to
enter the tunnel.
There was still a chance of escape. With a rapid move-
ment the officer extinguished our lantern, and it was just
possible that neither Captain Spade nor any of his com-
panions had perceived us. Perhaps by our turning aside
the tug might pass us by. Perhaps our dark mass might
be lost in the lowest depths of the lagoon. Perhaps the
Captain Spade on the alert.
THE â€œâ€˜SWORDâ€™â€™ IN CONFLICT WITH THE TUG 255
tug would not see us, and when it had reached its
moorings the Sword would start again and get into the
Our screw was reversed, and we turned up towards the
bank on the south side. After a few seconds we came to
a standstill. f
No! the Sword had been seen! Captain Spade had
become aware of the presence of a submarine boat about
to enter the tunnel. He prepared to give chase under
the water; and what could our frail boat do against Ker
Karrajeâ€™s powerful apparatus ?
Lieutenant Davon then said to me,â€”
â€œGo back to the compartment where M. Roch is.
Shut the door, while I go and shut that of the stern com-
partment. If they run into us it is possible, with our
bulkheads, that we may hold out under water!â€
His composure was not ruffled by this new danger.
After pressing his hand, I went forward to join M. Roch.
I shut the door and waited in complete darkness.
I perceived, or rather I became conscious of, the
manceuvres of the Sword in her endeavours to escape the
tugâ€”her heaving, her setting, her gyrations; how she
was performing a sudden evolution to escape a collision,
now -rising to the surface, again sinking to the very
Picture to yourself this contest between two destroyers
under those troubled waters, like two marine monsters of
Some minutes passed. I was wondering whether the
256 FOR THE FLAG
pursuit had been suspended, and whether the Sword would
be able to rush through the tunnel.
Then there was a collision. The shock did not seem to
be very violent. But I could not be mistaken. The Sword
had been run into on her starboard quarter. Perhaps,
however, the iron plates of her hull would resist the shock,
or even, in the contrary case, perhaps the water might not
enter farther than the compartments.
Almost â€˜immediately a second blow struck the Sword,
this time with terrible violence. It was as though the
boat were lifted up by the ram of the tug, against which it
sawed, so to. speak, as it turned away. Then I felt that
we stood upright, bow up, and sank perpendicularly
by the weight of the water which filled the stern compart-
Suddenly my companion and I, being unable to cling
to the partition, were flung head over heels on top of one
another. Then, after a last blow, the Sword grated upon
the sea floor with a sound of ripping plates and became
From that moment I do not know what happened, for I
I have just learned that hoursâ€”many hoursâ€”have since
passed. The only thing I can remember is my last
If I die, at least Thomas Roch and his secret die with
me...and the pirates of Backcup will not escape the
punishment of their crimes !
WHEN I came to my senses I was lying on my bed in my
cell, where, it appears, I had been asleep for thirty hours.
I was not alone. Serk6 was with me. He had given
me all the necessary care; he had nursed me himselfâ€”
not as a friend, I think, but as the man from whom they
expected important explanations, but of whom they were
ready to rid themselves instantly if the common interest
I was still incapable of walking a step; a little more,
and I should have been asphyxiated in the narrow com-
partment of the Sword as it lay at the bottom of the
lagoon. Iwas nowin a state to answer the questions that
SerkÃ© was burning to ask me relative to that strange
adventure ; but I intended to be very reserved.
First of all I wondered: Where was Lieutenant Davon
and the crew of the Sword? Had those brave Englishmen
perished in the collision? Were they safe and sound as
we wereâ€”for I concluded that, like myself, Roch had
survived the double collision of the tug with the Sword.
The first thing SerkÃ© said was,â€”
258 FOR THE FLAG
â€œExplain to me what happened, Mr. Hart.â€
Instead of answering, I thought I would put questions.
â€œ How is Roch?â€ I asked.
â€œIn good health, Mr. Hart. What happened?â€ heÂ®
â€œFirst tell me,â€™ I said, â€œwhat has become ofâ€”the
â€œWhat others?â€ replied the engineer; and he was
beginning to look angry.
â€œThe men-who flung themselves upon me and upon
M. Roch; the men who gagged us, bore us away, shut us
up, I donâ€™t even know where !.â€
I thought, upon reflection, it would be best to pretend
that I had been surprised that night by a sudden attack,
during which I had no time either to collect myself or to
recognize my assailants.
â€œYou will know soon enough what happened to them,â€
replied. my interlocutor, â€œ but now I want to know how all
this came to pass.â€
His voice took a threatening tone as he repeated his
question for the third time, and I knew he suspected me.
Yet, for him to be in a condition to accuse me of having
intercourse with the outside the keg must have fallen into
Ker Kerrajeâ€™s hands. But that had not happened, for it
had been received by the Bermuda authorities, and was in
their hands. Such an accusation could not, therefore, be
founded on anything serious.
I contented myself then with relating how, about eight
o'clock, the night before, I was walking on the banks,
after having seen the inventor make for his laboratory,
when three men scized me from behind. With a gag
in my mouth and my eyes bandaged, I felt myself
dragged, then lowered into a kind of hole with another
person, whom I thought I recognized by his moans as my
ex-patient. I felt I was on some floating object, and
knew that it must be the tug which had returned. Then
it seemed to me that the vessel sank under the waters;
a collision hurled me to the bottom of this hole, the air
soon became exhausted, and finally I lost consciousness.
I knew no mere.
Serko listened to me with profound attention, his eyes
were hard, his forehead was wrinkled, and yet he had no
reason to think that I did not speak the truth.
â€œYou maintain that three men fell upon you?â€ he
â€œVes, I thought they were some of your people. But I
did not seethem coming. Whowere they ?â€
â€œStrangers whom you must have recognized by their
â€œ They did not speak.â€
â€œYou have no idea of their nationality ?â€
â€œ Not the least.â€
â€œYou do not. know their reason for entering the
â€œJT donâ€™t know it.â€
Â«And what do you think about it all?â€
â€œWhat do I think, M. Serko? I tell you I thought
that some of your pirates had been ordered to fling me
262 FOR THE FLAG
into the lagoon by command of Count dâ€™Artigas, and that
they were going to do the same with your other prisoner,
because as you were in possession of all his secretsâ€”as you
have told meâ€”you no longer wanted to be encumbered by
either him or me.â€
â€œReally, Mr. Hart! has that thought actually entered
your brain?â€ exclaimed Serko, but nevertheless he did not
assume his usual tone of raillery.
â€œYes! it did not remain there long, I must say, for
having removed the bandage from my eyes, I saw that
they had lowered me into one of the compartments of the
â€œ That was not the tug; it was a boat of the same sort
that had entered by the tunnel.â€
â€œA submarine boat?â€ I cried.
â€œYes! Manned by men with orders to carry off you
and M. Roch.â€
â€œTo carry us off!â€ I exclaimed, still feigning surprise.
â€œAnd,â€ added my tormentor, â€œ ask you what you think
of the business ?â€
â€œWhat I think of it? But it seems to me there can be
only one plausible explanation. Ifthe secret of your re-
treat has not been betrayedâ€”and I do not see how such
treason could have been committed, nor of what impru-
dence you and the others could have been guiltyâ€”my
opinion is that this submarine boat came upon the
mouth of the tunnel by chance, that after getting through,
it rose to the surface of the lagoon, and that its crew,
astonished to find themselves in a cave containing inhabi-
tants, scized the first they metâ€”M. Rochâ€”meâ€”other
perhapsâ€”for of course I donâ€™t know.â€
The engineer had again become very serious. Did he
feel the inanity of the theory I was trying to propound ?
Was he thinking that I knew more than I wished to tell?
Be that as it may, he appeared to accept my answer, and
â€œProbably, Mr. Hart, things did happen in that way,
and as the strange boat tried to pass into the tunnel at the
moment that the tug was leaving it, there was a collision
â€”a collision in which it came to grief. But we are not
â€˜people to let our fellow-creatures perish. Besides, your
disappearance and that of M. Roch was almost immedi-
ately reported. Two such precious lives had to be
saved at any cost. Everyone set to work. We
have some clever divers among our men. They went
down into the depths of the lagoonâ€”they passed rope;
under the hull of the Szordâ€”â€
â€œThe Sword?â€ I queried.
â€œThat is the name we read on the bow of the boat
when it was brought to the surface. We were very
much pleased to find you againâ€”unconscious, it is true,
but still breathingâ€”and our relief was great when we
brought you back to life. Unfortunately, with regard to
the officer who commanded the Sword and its crew, our
efforts were futile. The impact had burst the com-
partment where they stood, and they paid for their-ill-luck
with their lives, owing to the mere accident, as you say,
of their having invaded our mysterious retreat.â€
264 FOR THE FLAG
The news of the death of the lieutenant and his men
wrung my heart. But in order to act my part, as if they
were men I did not knowâ€”that I was supposed not to
knowâ€”I had to control myself. It was essential that I
should give rise to no suspicion of connivance between the
officer and me. I wonder whether Serko does really
attribute that visit to â€˜â€˜mere accidentâ€: he may have his
reasons for admitting, provisionally at least, the explana-
tion I invented.
And thus that unexpected opportunity of gaining my
liberty is lost. And what will be the result? In
any case everything will be known about Ker Karraje the
pirate, for my declaration is in the hands of the English
authorities. When the Sword does not return to the
Bermudas, no doubt new measures will be taken against
Backcup, where, but for the unfortunate coincidence
â€”the entry of the tug at the moment of the Szoraâ€™s
departureâ€”I should be a prisoner no longer.
J have resumed my ordinary existence, and having in-
spired no suspicion I am allowed perfect freedom in the
This last adventure has had no effect whatever upon my
compatriot. Careful treatment saved him, as it saved me.
In the full plenitude of his intellectual faculties he has
taken up his work again, and he passes whole days in his
The Â£Ã©Ã©a returned from her last voyage laden with
bales, cases, and quantities of various provisions, so I con-
clude that several piracies had been committed.
EXPECTATION 265 -
The work of setting up the carriages has advanced
rapidly. The number of missiles is now fifty. If Ker
Karraje finds it necessary to defend Backcup, three or four
will be sufficient to secure the island against approach,
provided that they cover the zone on which no ship can
enter without being destroyed.
I think the pirates will put Backcup in a state of defence
when they have thought out the situation in this way :â€”
â€œTf the appearance of the Sword in the lagoon was only
the result of chance, our situation is unchanged, and no
power, not even England, will think of looking for the
missing boat underneath this island. If, on the other hand,
they have learnt, through some unaccountable discovery
that Backcup has become Ker Karrajeâ€™s hiding-place, and
if the sending of the Sword was a first attempt against
the island, a second, under different conditions, must be
expectedâ€”either a bombardment or an attempt to land.
Then before we leave Backcup and carry away our wealth,
the Roch Fulgurator must be employed in the defence.â€
In my opinion, this reasoning may even be carried farther,
and the scoundrels will say to themselves :â€”
Is there any connection between this discovery, however
it has been made, and the double abduction from Health-
ful House? Do they know that Roch and his keeper are
confined in Backcup? Is it known that the seizure was
effected by Ker Karraje? Have the Americans, English,
French, Germans, Russians, any idea that every attack on
the island is doomed to failure ?
However, supposing all that is known, no matter how
266 FOR THE FLAG
great the danger, even Ker Karraje must realize that they
will not hesitate. Interest of the first order, duty to public
safety and humanity, requires the destruction of his lair.
After having scoured the waters of the West Pacific in
former years, the pirate and his accomplices are now in-
festing the Western Atlantic. They must be exterminated
at no matter what cost !
In any case, while there is any doubt that, Backcup is
looked upon as a piratesâ€™ den, a look-out must be kept by
those in occupation. So, beginning from to-day, this is
organized under the strictest conditions. By means of
the corridor, and without passing through the tunnel, the
pirates are incessantly watching outside. Hidden behind
the rocks on the shore, they observe the different points of
the horizon night and day, relieving each other in squads
of twelve men, morning and evening. The faintest sign
of a ship, or an approach of any kind, would be instantly
Nothing new happened during several following days,
which succeeded each other in hopeless monotony. In
reality, everyone feels that Backcup no longer enjoys its
former security. There exists a vague and disheartening
uneasiness. Every moment the pirates dread the cry,
â€œDanger!â€ from the watchers on the shore. Things are
not the same as before the arrival of the Sword. Brave
Davon and his plucky crew! May England, may the
whole civilized world, never forget that they have sacrificed
their lives in the cause of humanity!
It is evident now, and in spite of their powerful means of
out from the piratesâ€™ den,
defence, that Ker Karraje, SerkÃ©, and Spade are enduring
anxiety they strive in vain to hide. They hold frequent.
consultations together. Perhaps they are discussing the
advisability of abandoning Backcup and of carrying off
their spoil; for if the haunt is known, it can easily be
reduced by famine.
I do not know what to think on this point, but. the
one thing certain is that I have never been suspected of
having launched that keg so providentially picked up on
the Bermudas. Neverâ€”I am convinced. SerkÃ© has
not given the slightest hint on this subject. No, I am
not suspected. If it had been otherwise, I am sufficiently
acquainted with Ker Karrajeâ€™s character to know that I
should have joined Lieutenant Davon and the Sworaâ€™s
crew at the bottom ere now.
These islands are being daily visited by fearful hurricanes,
and the wind howls through the crater. Whirlwinds
rush through the forest of pillars, producing marvellous
sounds, as if the cavern were some gigantic musical instru-
ment, and this noise is so great sometimes that it would
drown the guns of a whole squadron. A number of marine
birds come into the interior to avoid the storm, and during
the rare lulls we are deafened by their shrill screaming.
It is presumable that in such bad weather the schooner
could not live at sea. But there is no question of this,
for Backcup has more than enough provisions for
the whole season. I imagine, too, that for the future
Count dâ€™Artigas will be less anxious to cruise along the
American coast, where he might no longer receive the-
270 FOR THE FLAG
attentions due to a rich yachtsman, but the welcome
merited by the pirate !
However, if the appearance of the Sword was really
the forerunner cf a combined attack upon the island, one
question presents itselfâ€”a question of the gravest impor-
tance to the future of Backcup.
So one dayâ€”very cautiously, not wishing to excite any
suspicionâ€”I tried to sound SerkÃ© on this subject.
We were in the vicinity of the laboratory. The con-
versation had lasted some minutes, when my colleague
began to speak of the extraordinary advent of a submarine
boat of English nationality in the lagoon. This time he
appeared inclined to think an attempt against Ker
Karrajeâ€™s band had been intended.
** That is not my opinion,â€™ I replied, so as to get to the
question I wanted to put to him.
â€œWhy ?â€ he asked.
â€œ Because, if your retreat were known, a fresh effort would
have already been made, if not to enter the cave, at least ta
â€œTo destroy it!â€ cried the engineer, â€˜â€˜to destroy it!
That would be, to say the least, very dangerous, with the
means of defence now at our disposal.â€
â€œThey donâ€™t know that, M. SerkÃ©. No one in either
the New or the Old World knows that M. Roch was
carried off by youâ€”that you are treating with him for his
He made no answer to this observation, It was un-
â€œ Then, a fleet sent by the maritime powers interested
in the destruction of the island would not hesitate to draw
nearâ€”to bombard it. Now, since that has- not been
done, it means that it is not going to be done,
that they know nothing about Ker Karraje. You ought
to be convinced of this, it is the pleasantest theory for
â€œThat may be,â€ replied SerkÃ©, â€œbut what â€œis, is.
Whether it be known or not, if the warships come within
four or five miles of the island, they will be sunk before
they can open fire!â€
â€˜Â«That may be,â€ I said in turn; â€œand after that ?.â€
â€œAfter? ... The probability is that others will not
â€œThat may be, again! But these ships may form a
line of investment outside the danger-zone ; and on the
other hand, the Â£dsa could no longer enter the ports she
formerly frequented with Count dâ€™Artigas! How, then,
will you secure the provisioning of the island ?â€
' The engineer remained silent.
The question must have already suggested itself, so it was
clear that he could not answer it. I am sure the pirates
intend to abandon Backcup.
However, not wishing to appear that he had been driven
into a corner by my remark, Serk6 spoke.
â€˜â€œWe have the tug,â€ he said. â€œAnd what the dda
can no longer do, it will do.â€
â€œThe tug,â€ I exclaimed, â€œIf Ker Karrajeâ€™s secrets are
272 FOR THE FLAG
known, the existence of Count dâ€™Artigasâ€™ destroyer must
He glanced at me suspiciously.
â€˜â€˜ Mr. Simon Hart,â€ he said, â€œâ€˜ you appear to me to push
your deductions rather far.â€
â€œ7, M. Serko ?â€
â€œVes. And it seems to me that you speak of all this
like a man who knows more than he ought to know.â€
That speech cut me short. It is evident that my argu-
ments are liable to give rise to the idea that I may have
a share in the late events. Serkoâ€™s eyes were fixed angrily
onme; they pierced my cranium, they searched my brain.
Sull, I did not lose my presence of mind, and I answered
in a quiet tone,â€”
â€œâ€œM. SerkÃ©, by profession and by inclination, I am in
the habit of reasoning about everything. That is why I
have given you the result of my inferences, which you
may or may not take into consideration as it suits you.â€
Thereupon we separated. But, for want of caution,
I have perhaps raised suspicions which it will not be easy
On reviewing over this interview, I found I had
acquired one picce of information: the danger-zone is
fixed between four and five miles. Perhaps at the second
equinoctial tideâ€”a second floating message might be sent.
But there will be months to wait until the orifice is
revealed at low water; and then there is the chance that
the second revelation might not reach its destination like
The bad weather continues, and the wind is more
boisterous than everâ€”this is-usual during the winter at the
Bermudas. Is it the state of the sea which prevents a second
expedition against Backcup ? Yet Lieutenant Davon had
declared that if his undertaking failed, if the Sword did
not return to St. George, they would make another and a
different attempt to get rid of this pirate-den. The
work of justice must be performed sooner or later, and
Backcup must be blown upâ€”even though I should
not survive that act of destruction !
Could I but breathe, if only for a moment, the ozone on
the shore! Why cannot I cast just one glance at the
distant horizon of the Bermudas! My whole soul is con-
centrated on my desire to get through the corridor, reach
the shore, and hide among the rocks. Perhaps I should
be the first to perceive the smoke of a squadron bearing
down upon the island.
Unfortunately I cannot realize this desire, for a sentry is
posted day and night at both ends of the corridor. No
one can enter it without Serkoâ€™s authorization. To
attempt it would be to place my liberty in jeopardyâ€”and
In fact, since our last conversation it seems to me that
Serkoâ€™s manner has changed. His glance, mocking until
then, hasâ€™ become suspicious, inquisitive, and as cold as
Ker Karrajeâ€™s !
November t7th.â€”This afternoon there was a great com-
motion inthe Beehive. Everyone rushed out of their cells,
and shouts were heard on all sides.
274 FOR THE FLAG
I jumped up and hurried out.
The pirates were running in the direction of the corridor.
At the entrance stood Ker Karraje, Serk6, Spade, Gibson,
Effrondat, and Count dâ€™Artigasâ€™ Malay. .
I soon learned the cause of the excitement. The
watchers had just come in and raised the alarm.
Several shipsâ€”men-of-warâ€”were to be seen towards
the north-west, coming at full steam towards Backcup.
SOME HOURS LATER,
THE effect of this news upon me may be imagined!
Unspeakable emotion filled my soul. I felt that the
climax of the situation was near. May it be such as
civilization and humanity demand!
Until now I have made my notes from day to day.
Henceforth I must post them up hour by hour, nay, every
minute. Who knows whether the last secret of Thomas
Roch may not be revealed, and what if I have not time to
record it! If I am killed during the attack, God
grant that this record of the last five months may be found
upon my body!
Ker Karraje, Serkd, Spade, and several others have
gone to take their posts on the coast outside. What would
I not give to follow them, and cower among the rocks to
watch the ships.
An hour later, they have all come back to the Beehive,
leaving twenty men to watch. As the days at this
season are still rather short, there is nothing to fear before
to-morrow. There is no question of a landing, and with
276 FOR THE FLAG
the knowledge of the defence of Backcup the assailants
must possess, they cannot possibly contemplate an attack
Until evening the work of preparation at various points
on the coast continued. There are six sets of apparatus
which have been conveyed through the corridor to positions
When this was done SerkÃ© joined M. Roch in his
laboratory. - Is he about to inform him that a fleet is in
sight of Backcupâ€”to tell him that his Fulgurator is
going to be used to defend the island?
There are about fifty shells, each charged with many
pounds of the explosive, with the fuse which assures them
a greater trajectory than any other projectile, ready to
do their work of destruction.
M. Roch has prepared several tubes of the deflagrator
liquid, andâ€”I know it, alas! only too wellâ€”he will not
refuse to co-operate with the pirates !
Night fell during these preparations. Semi-darkness
reigned in the interior, for only the Beehive lamps were
I returned to my cell, as I was anxious to show myself
as little as possible. The suspicions which I had inspired
in Serk6 might so easily be revived now that the squadron
is approaching Backcup.
But will the ships sighted keep their course? They
may hold off from the Bermudas and disappear below the
horizon. For a moment this fear troubled me, butâ€”
no, noâ€”besides, according to Captain Spadeâ€™s account
The squadron is sighted.
SOME HOURS LATER 279
â€”I have just heard him talking to himselfâ€”the vessels
are still in sight of the island.
Of what nationality are they? Have the English
undertaken this expedition alone, to avenge the destruc-
tion of the Sword? or are there cruisers of other nations
with them? I do not know; it is impossible for me to
learnâ€”and what does it matter? The one important
thing is that this den should be destroyed: have I the
courage to be buried beneath its ruins? dare I perish like
the hero Lieutenant Davon and his brave crew ?
The preparations for defence are going on with delibera-
tion and method under SerkdÃ©â€™s supervision. It is evident
that the pirates feel certain of destroying their assailants
so soon as the danger-zone is crossed. Their confidence
in the Roch Fulgurator is absolute. With the convic-
tion that the ships can do nothing to hurt them, they
give no thought to either difficulties or dangers in the
According to my supposition, the apparatus must now
be erected on the north-west side of the coast, the slides
placed so that the bombs may be projected north, west,
and south. The east of the island, as I have noted before,
is protected by reefs which form a connecting chain between
Backcup and other islands.
Towards nine oâ€™clock I made up my mind to leave my
cell. No one would pay any attention to me, and perhaps
I might pass unperceived under cover of the darkness.
Ah! if I could only get into the passage, gain the shore
and hide behind a rock!! Why should I not be there at
280 FOR THE FLAG
daybreak! now that Ker Karraje, Serko, Spade, and the
pirates have taken up their position outside ?
The edge of the lagoon was then deserted, but the
corridor was guarded by the Malay. Without any fixed
plan I strolled towards the laboratory. My thoughts were
concentrated on my compatriot. Upon reflection I have
-come to think that he is not aware of the presence of a
fleet in these waters. Only at the last moment will SerkÃ©
suddenly place him face to face with the opportunity of
accomplishing his vengeance.
Then the idea struck me that I myself would bring
Roch to recognize the responsibility of his actions, and
reveal to him, at this, perhaps our last hour, what manner
of men they are who would make him participate in their
At least I would try, and perhaps I might rekindle the
spark of patriotism in the depths of that soul in rebellion
against human injustice.
The inventor was in his laboratory, and in all probability
alone, for no one was ever admitted while he was preparing
the substances for the deflagrator.
I made my way there, and in passing close to the water
I remarked that the tug was still moored alongside the
As I drew near I thought it prudent to slip in among
the pillars so as to reach the laboratory from the side;
this would enable me to ascertain that no one was with
So soon as I entered the shadowy arches I saw a bright
SOME HOURS LATER / 281
light which penetrated to the other side of the lagoon
This light was from the laboratory lamp, and came through
the narrow window in the front.
Save at that point, the southern bank was dark, while
on the opposite side the Beehive was partially lighted so
far as the north wall. Through the great vent in the roof
above the dark lagoon some twinkling stars were visible.
The sky was clear, the storm had abated, and the swirling
wind no longer eddied in the cave.
When I came near the laboratory I crept along the rock,
and having raised myself up to the window-pane I could
plainly discern M. Roch.
He was alone. His head, in strong light, was to be
seen in three-quarter view. His features were drawn and
the line in his forehead was deeper than before, but his
face expressed perfect tranquility, and full possession of
his senses. He was no longer the patient of Pavilion 17,
the Healthful House madman, and I wondered was he
really completely cured or whether there was reason to
dread that his mind would again give way under a great
My fellow-captive had placed two glass tubes on a work-
bench ; he held a third in his hand, and as he raised it up
to the light I noticed the clearness of the liquid it con-
For a moment I felt a mad desire to rush into the
laboratory, seize the tubes and break them. But-would
he not have time to make more of the liquid ?
It would be better to keep to my first plan.
282 FOR THE FLAG
I pushed open the door and entered.
â€œÂ© M. Roch,â€ I said.
He neither saw nor heard me.
â€œâ€œM. Roch,â€ I repeated.
He raised his head first, then turned round and looked
â€œAh! it is you, Hart!â€™ he spoke calmly, almost
He knows my name. Serk6Ã© had informed him that it
was not Gaydon the keeper, but Simon Hart who had
attended him at Healthful House.
â€œ Do you know ?â€ I began.
â€œâ€˜T know for what purpose you attended me! Yes!
you hoped to find out a secret that no one wanted to pay
Roch knew everything, and perhaps it was better so,
considering what I had to tell him.
â€œWell, you have not succeeded, Mr. Hart, and so far as
this is concerned,â€™â€™ he continued, as he shook the glass
tube, â€œno one has succeeded yetâ€”and no one will
It is as I hoped; he has not made known the com-
position of his deflagrator,
I looked him straight in the face and said,â€”
â€œYou know whol am, but do you know where you
â€œTam dt home,â€ he replied.
That is what Ker Karraje has induced him to believe. -
At Backcup the inventor thinks himself in his own
Ex-patient and ex-keeper.
SOME HOURS LATER 285
home. The wealth accumulated in the cave belongs to
him. If Backcup is attacked, it is with intent to steal his
possessions ; he will defend them, and he has every right
to defend them !
*M. Roch,â€ I began again, â€œlisten to me.â€
â€œ What have you to say to me?â€
â€œThis cavern into which we have both been dragyed
belongs to a band of pirates.â€
My hearer would not let me proceed, I do not know
whether he even understood me. He exclaimed angrily,â€”
â€œT tell you that all the treasures stored here are the
price of my invention. They belong to me. I have
been paid what I asked for the Fulgurator, what
I was refused everywhere else,.even by my own country,
which is yours, and I shall not allow myself to be
robbed of it!â€
~What could I answer to these wild assertions? I
continued, however, â€” :
â€œDo you remember Healthful House?â€
â€œ Healthful House! where I was shut up, where Gaydon
the keeper was commissioned to play the spy, to steal my
secret from me.â€
â€œT should never have deprived you of the profit of that
secret. I would not have accepted sucha mission. But
you were ill, your mind was affected. It was important
that your invention should not be lost. Yes, if you had
revealed it in one of your paroxysms, all the profit and all
the honour should have been yours!â€ .
â€œReally, Mr. Hart !â€ replied Roch, scornfully. â€œ Honour
286 FOR THE FLAG
and profit! You speak of these rather late! You forget
they had thrown me into a cell, under pretext of madness
â€”yes! pretext, for my reason never deserted me, not
even for an hour, as you may see by all I have done since
I have been free.â€
â€œFree! you think yourself free? Within the walls of
this cavern are you not shut up as closely as you were
between the walls of Healthful House?â€
â€œThe man who is at home,â€ replied Roch, in a voice
rising with anger, â€œgoes out as he pleases and when he
pleases! I have only to say the word and all the
doors open before me! This abode is mine! Count
dâ€™Artigas has given me the property and all it contains !
Woe to those who come to attack it! I have something
here that will annihilate them !â€
While speaking thus, the inventor shook the glass tube
in his hand excitedly. Then I exclaimed,â€”
â€œCount dâ€™Artigas has deceived you as he has deceived
so many others. Under that name one of the most terrible
pirates who has ravaged the waters of both the Pacific and
the Atlantic masquerades. He is an outlaw steeped in
crime. He is the vile Ker Karraje.â€
â€˜Ker Karraje!â€ repeated Roch.
I wondered whether the name would make any impres-
sion, whether his mind did not recall what the man had
done who bore it. In any case, I noticed that any im-
pression that was made passed almost instantaneously.
â€œâ€˜T do not know this Ker Karraje,â€ he said, extending
his arm towards the door to command me to leave him.
â€œT only know Count dâ€™Artigas.â€
SOME HOURS LATER 287
â€œâ€œM. Roch,â€ I said, making a last effort, â€œâ€˜ Count
dâ€™Artigas and Ker Karraje are one and the same man!
If that man has bought your secret it is with the object of
securing the impunity of his crimes, and of committing
fresh ones, he, the chief of the pirates.â€
â€œThe pirates,â€ cried Roch, whose irritation increased
according as he felt I was gaining the advantage, â€œthe
pirates were they who dared to menace me even in this
retreat, who made an attempt with the Swordâ€”for SerkÃ©
has told me allâ€”who wanted to steal from my home what
belongs to me, the fair price of my discovery.â€
** No, the pirates are the men who have imprisoned you
in this cave, who are going to employ your genius to pro-
tect them, and who only show you deference until they
acquire the entire possession of your secrets!â€
He interrupted me at these words. He did not seem to
hear anything I said. It was his own idea he was pursu-
ing, not mine, that perpetual idea of vengeance, so skilfully
worked by Serko, and which is the concentration of his
â€˜The scoundrels,â€ he said, â€œâ€˜are the men who repulsed
me without giving me a hearing, who overwhelmed me
with rebuffs and scorn, who drove me from country to
country when I brought them superiority, invincibility,
The eternal story of the inventor: that no one will listen,
that the indifferent or the envious refuse the means of
testing new inventions, and decline to buy them at his
valuation. I know it; and I know all the exaggerated
things that have been written on the subject. This, how-
288 FOR THE FLAG
ever, is not the moment for discussion. I know that my
arguments will take no hold on that unhinged mind ;
nothing I can say can have any effect upon the unfortu-
nate dupe who had been so embittered by disappointment.
By revealing to him the real name of Count dâ€™Artigas,
. and denouncing the gang and its chief, I hoped to with-
draw him from their influence, to show him the vile end
they had in view. I-was mistaken. He does not believe
me! and then, even if Count dâ€™Artigas is Ker Karraje,
what does it matter ?. Is not he, Thomas Roch, master of
Backcup? Is he not the possessor of all the wealth that
has been gained by twenty years of murder and rapine ?
Disarmed before such moral degeneration, not knowing
where to touch that perverted nature, that irresponsible
soul, I drew back by degrees to the door of the laboratory.
There was nothing for me but to retire. What will
happen must happen, since it is not in my power to
prevent the awful catastrophe that is almost upon us.
Besides, Roch did not even sce me. He appeared to
have forgotten that I was there, as he had forgotten all
that had passed between us. He had set to work again
without noticing that he was not alone.
There was only one way toâ€™ prevent the imminent
disaster. To seize Roch, to render him incapable of dong
harm, to strike him. Yes! killhim! It is my right. It is
I had no weapon, but on the bench I saw a chisel and a
hammer. What hinders me from knocking the inventor
on the head? Were he dead, I would break the tubes,
SOME HOURS LATER 289
and his invention would die with him! The vessels might
approach, land their men on Backcup, and demolish the
island with cannon. Ker Karraje and all his horde would
be destroyed: at the one murder that would lead to the -
punishment of so many crimes, ought I hesitate ?
I advanced towards the table. A steel chisel was
there. I stretched out my hand to take it, Roch turned
It was too late to strike him. A struggle would ensue;
a struggle meant noise. His cries would be heard. There
were still some pirates on that side. I could even hear
footsteps crunching the sand on the banks. I had barely
time to escape if I would avoid being found here.
Yet once more I tried to awaken some feeling of
patriotism in the inventor, by saying,â€”
â€œThere are vessels in sight. They are coming to
destroy this den! Perhaps one of them bears the French
He looked at me. He did not know that Backcup was
about to be attacked, and I had just told him. The lines
on his forehead deepened. His eyes kindled.
â€œThomas Roch, will you dare to fire on the tricolor,
the flag of your country ?â€
Roch raised his head, shook it nervously, then made a
gesture of disdain.
â€œWhat, your own country?â€
â€œJ have no longer a country,â€ he cried. â€œThe rÃ©jected
inventor has no country! Where he has found a haven,
there is his country! They want to lay hold of what is
290 FOR THE FLAG
mine. I am going to defend myself. And woe, woe to them
who venture to attack me!â€
Then rushing to the door, he flung it open.
â€œBegone! Begone!â€ he repeated,.in so loud a voice
that it must have been heard on the Beehive bank.
I had not a second to lose. I fled.
ONE AGAINST FIVE.
FoR an hour I have wandered under the gloomy arcades
of Backcup, in and out of the stone trees to the farthest
limits of the cavern. It is on that side I have so often
sought some issue, or cleft, or crack in the rock through
which I might scramble out to the shore without being
My search had always been fruitless. Now, in my
present state, a prey to wild fancies, it seemed to me that
these walls of rock were growing still thicker, that. my
prison was closing in on me little by little, and presently
must crush me.
I cannot say how long this mental anguish lasted.
After some time I again found myself on the Beehive
side, in front of that cell wherein I could hope for neither
sleep nor rest. Sleep! when my mind was in such a
whirl! Sleep, when Iam drawing near the last act ina
tragedy which but yesterday threatened to last for years!
But how will the climax affect me? What am I to
expect from the attack upon Backcup? I have been
292 FOR THE FLAG
unable to render Roch incapable of harm. His shells are
ready to be thrown the moment the vessels enter upon
the danger zone, and then, even without being struck,
they will be destroyed.
These last hours of the night I am condemned to pass
in my cell. The moment has come to re-enter it. - How
do I know that during the night the Roch Fulgurator may
not blow up the ships before their guns can be directed
against the island ? |
At that moment I cast a last glance around me. On
the opposite side burned a bright lightâ€”only oneâ€”that
of the laboratory, and its reflection quivered on the waters
of the lagoon. The banks are deserted, so is the jetty. I
thought the Beehive must be empty, and that the pirates
had gone to their fighting places.
Then an irresistible instinct urged me, instead of enter-
ing my cell, to creep along by the rock walls, listening,
watching, ready to slip into some crevice on hearing
footsteps or voices. Thus I reached the entrance to the
corridor. There was no one on guard! The passage
was free !
Without giving myself time to think I advanced into
the dark tunnel, and groped along its sides. Soon a fresh
breeze cooled my faceâ€”salt air, sea air, that I had not felt
for five long months. I inhaled it eagerly.
I could see the sky sprinkled with stars at the far end
of the passage. No shadow obstructed the way.
Was I about to get out of Backcup ?
Throwing myself flat on my face, I crept slowly along,
The end is
ONE AGAINST FIVE 295
noiselessly. When near the surface, I put my.head out
No one! No one!
I skirted the base of the island towards the west, on the
side where the reefs make it inaccessible and no look-out
is necessary. Ireached a narrow excavation, exactly at
the foot of the natural arch which formed the handle of
the overturned cup.
So I am out of this cavern, not yet free, but on the
threshold of liberty!
From this spot I can see one of the points, on the west,
projects into the sea. I can distinguish the figures of
sentinels outlined against the sky.
The firmament is clear, and the constellations shine
with the intense brightness which we observe on cold
On the horizon, towards the north-west, like a luminous
line, the lights of the warships show. Thereare some faint
gleams in the east, and I calculate it must be about five
o'clock in the morning.
November 18th.â€”Already the light is sufficient and I shall
be able to complete my notesâ€”the last lines perhaps that
my hand is ever to trace. I have begun to write, and as
each incident occurs during the attack it shall find a place
in my notebook, The light damp vapour that lies upon
the sea is being dispersed quickly by the breeze. I can
at length distinguish the five ships drawn up in line at a
distance of between five and six miles at leastâ€”con-
sequently beyond the range of the Roch missiles.
296 FOR THE FLAG
One of my fears is dispelled ; the fear that these vessels,
after passing within sight of the Bermudas, would con-
tinue their course towards the West Indies and Mexico.
They are there, motionless, waiting for broad daylight to
At this instant there is a movement on the shore.
Three or four pirates emerge from the rocks. The
watchers on the point are coming to the back. The whole
band is there complete.
They have not sought shelter in the interior of the
cavern, knowing well that the ships cannot approach near â€”
enough for the guns to shell the island.
In the cleft where Iam concealed up to my head there
is no risk of my being seen, and it is not to be presumed
that any one will come from this side. The mischance
might indeed occur. Serk6Ã©d or someone else might wish
to make sure that I am in my cell, and at need to shut
me up there.
But what have they to fear from me ?
At twenty-five minutes past seven, Ker Karraje, Serko,
and Captain Spade go to the extremity of the point and
scrutinize the horizon on the north-west. Behind them is
the Roch apparatus with the autopropulsive shells, all in
readiness. After being ignited by the deflagrator, they
will start from there, describing a long trajectory to the
zone, where their explosion will rend the surrounding
7.35 a.m.â€”Some smoke is floating above the ships,
which are getting ready to come within range of the Back-
ONE AGAINST FIVE 299
cup shells. Yells of delight, a burst of cheers, are uttered
by the horde of villains.
Now SerkÃ© leaves Ker Karraje, with whom Captain
Spade remains, on the point, and makes his way to the
entrance of the passage in order to reach the cavern,
whither he has gone to fetch Roch.
On receiving Ker Karrajeâ€™s orders to fire upon the
vessels, will Roch remember what I have just said to him ?
Will not his crime appear to him in all its horror? Will
he not refuse to obey ?
No, I am only too certain! Why should I deceive
myself in this matter? Is not the inventor at home
here? Hesaid so; he believes it. They come to attack
him. He defends himself!
Meanwhile the five ships are advancing slowly, heading
for the point of the island. Perhaps, on board, they think
Roch has not yet yielded up his last secret to the pirates
â€”and in fact, he had still preserved it on the day I
threw the little cask upon the lagoon. If the com-
manders intend to effect a landing on the island, if
their ships enter the zone within a mile, there will soon
be nothing but shapeless wreckage on the surface of the
Here comes Roch, accompanied by SerkÃ©. They walk
forward to the apparatus which is pointed towards the
Ker Karraje and Captain Spade are waiting for them
at that place.
So far as I can judge, Roch is calm and thoughtful. He
300 FOR THE FLAG
knows what hehas to do. No hesitation will disturb the
mind of this unfortunate man, perverted by hate!
In his fingers shines one of the glass tubes containing
the liquid of the deflagrator.
He has turned his eyes towards the nearest vessel which .
is between five and six miles off.
It is a middle-sized cruiserâ€”two thousand five hundred
tons at most,
The flag has not been hoisted, but from the build of the
ship I think it is of a nationality not very sympathetic to a
The four other ships remain behind. It is this cruiserâ€™s
business to lead the attack upon the island.
Let-it fire its guns, then, since the pirates are allowing
it to approach, and the moment it is within range, may its
first shell hit Thomas Roch.
While Serk6 was carefully calculating the progress of
the cruiser, Roch placed himself before the apparatus.
The moment had come.
â€œâ€œM. Roch!â€ cried Serk6, as he pointed to the cruiser
making for the north-west point of the island, and now
between four and five miles away.
Roch made a sign in the affirmative, and indicated
by a movement that he wished to be alone.
Ker Karraje, Captain Spade and the others drew back
about fifty paces from the apparatus.
Then Roch removed the stopper from the glass tube, and
poured through an opening into the three shells a few
drops of the liquid which mixed with the fusing matter.
ONE AGAINST FIVE 301
Forty-five seconds passâ€”the time required to produce
this combinationâ€”and during those seconds it seemed
as though my heart had ceased to beat.
A terrible whistling sound rent the air. The three
shells, describing a very long curve, rose a hundred yards
in the air, and went beyond the cruiser.
Have they missed, then ? Miscarried ? No! The bombs,
came back on themselves like an Australian boomerang.
Almost instantly space was shaken, with violence com-
parable only to the explosion of a whole magazine of
dynamite or melinite.
Backcup is shaken to its base.
The cruiser has disappeared, rent to pieces, sunk to the
bottomâ€”the Zalinski ball produces the same effect, but
the Roch Fulgurator multiplies it a hundredfold.
How the terrified pirates yell! They rush to the
extremity of the point, and Ker Karraje, Serko, and
Spade stand still, scarcely able to believe the evidence
of their senses !
As for Roch, he is there, his arms crossed, his eyes:
sparkling, his face radiant. I comprehend with horror
the inventorâ€™s triumph in his double vengeance!
If the other vessels approach, the same fate as the
cruiserâ€™s awaits themâ€”inevitable destruction, under the
same circumstances, and they cannot prevent it!
Well! although my last hope must disappear with them,
let them fly, gain the ocean and abandon a useless attack !
The nations will agree upon some other means-of destroy-
ing the island.
302 FOR THE FLAG
They may surround Backcup with a girdle of ships
which the pirates cannot break through, and they will die
of hunger in their cavern like wild beasts in their lair!
But, do I not know it well? ships of war will never re-
treat although they are going to certain destruction.
These ships of war will advance, one after the other,
even though it be only to be swallowed up in the depths
of the ocean.
Now several signals are being exchanged between them.
Almost immediately the horizon is darkened by thick
smoke which is carried by the wind from the north-west,
and the four vessels advance.
One is leaving the others behind, being in haste to get
within range so as to bring her big guns into action.
At all risks I come out of my hole, to await a second
catastrophe, without hope of preventing it.
This ship which grows on my vision is a cruiser of about
the same tonnage as the preceding vessel. It displays
no flag, and I cannot tell to what nation it belongs. It
is increasing its speed in order to invade the danger zone
before the new shells are discharged. But how is the ship
to escape their destructive power, since they can strike her
by a reverse movement?
Serk6 has drawn near Roch, he is in front of the second
apparatus at the moment when the ship passes over the
spot where the first cruiser lies engulfed, where it is
about to be swallowed up in its turn.
Nothing troubled the profound silence of space, though
some puffs of wind were coming from the sea.
ONE AGAINST FIVE 303
Suddenly the drums beat on board the cruiser, the
trumpets sound, their copper voices reach me.
I recognize that drum-beatâ€”it is the French. Great
Heaven! It is a ship belonging to my own country,
and a Frenchman is about to destroy it.
No! that shall not be! I will spring upon Roch, I will
shout to him that it is a French ship. He has not
recognized it. He shall recognize it!
At this moment, at a sign from Serko, the inventor
raises his hand, the hand that holds the tube. Then
the drum-beat becomes louder. It is the salute to the
flag. Anensign floats wide in the breeze. The tricolour,
the red, white, and blue stands out clear against the sky.
What is happening? Oh, I understand. At sight of
his national flag, Roch is like one fascinated! His arm
falls slowly as the flag rises gradually in the air. Then
he draws back. He covers his eyes with his hand. He
cannot endure the sight of the tricolour.
The virtue of patriotism is not then dead within him,
since his heart beats fast at the sight of the flag of
My emotion is as keen as his! At the risk ot
being seenâ€”after all, what does it matter ?â€”I scramble
along the rocks. I must be there to support him, to
keep him from wavering. Were I to pay for it with my
life I will adjure him for the last time in the name of
his country. I will say to him:
â€œFrenchman, it is the tricolour that is hoisted on that
ship, it is a bit of France itself that is coming! French-
304 FOR THE FLAG
man, will you commit the crime of striking a blow at
But my intervention will not be necessary. Roch is
no longer in the grip of his mental malady ; he is in full
possession of his senses, and master of himself. When he
finds himself facing the flag, ke knows. Fully compre-
hending the whole situation, he steps back from his
Some of the pirates approach, to force him up to the
apparatus once more. He repulses themâ€”struggles with
Ker Karraje and Serko hasten to the spot. They point
to the rapidly advancing ship, and command him to
discharge his shells. All in vain.
Captain Spade and the others, roused to the utmost
fury, threaten himâ€”swear at himâ€”strike himâ€”endea-
vour to tear the tube from him, they can use its contents
as effectively as he.
Roch frees himself with a sudden bound, flings the tube
on the ground, and smashes it under his heel.
Then what deadly terror seizes upon these wretches !
The cruiser is approaching the rock-island. They can
neither destroy it nor return the fire which was now
opened briskly; shells fall upon the island, and the rocks
are split in all directions.
But where is Roch? Has he been struck by a shell or
a splinter? No,I catch a last glimpse of him as he rushes
across the passage.
Ker Karraje, Serkd, and the others follow him
ONE AGAINST FIVE 305
as fast as they can, to gain shelter in the interior of
I would not enter that cavern again for any considera-
tion under heaven, were I to be killed here where I standâ€”
and I take my last notes. When the French sailors land
on the point, I shall go.
THE END OF THE NOTES OF SIMON HarT,
-ON BOARD THE â€œTONNANT.â€
AFTER the attempt made by Lieutenant Davon, who had
veceived orders to penetrate to the interior of Backcup
with the Sword, the English authorities were obliged to
conclude that he and his brave crew had perished. The
Sword had not reappeared at the Bermudas. Had it been
dashed to pieces against the submarine reefs while seeking
the entrance to the tunnel? Had it been destroyed by
Ker Karrajeâ€™s pirates? There were no means of knowing,
general grief and anger prevailed. The object of the
expedition, in conformity with the instructions contained
in the document which had been found on the shore ot
St. George, was to carry off Thomas Roch before the
manufacture of his terrible engine of destruction was com-
plete. The French engineer being securedâ€”and Simon
Hart alsoâ€”he was to be placed in the hands of the
authorities at Bermudas. That done, there would be
nothing more to fear from the Roch Fulgurator, and any
warship would do to destroy Backcup.
But several days had passed and the Sword being
ON. BOARD THE â€˜â€˜ TONNANT â€â€™ 307
missing was regarded as lost. The authorities then
decided that a second expedition should be made under
other conditions of offensive action.
Nearly eight weeks had elapsed since Simon Hartâ€™s
strange missive had been launched. Ker Karraje might be
already in possession of the secret of M. Roch. .
An agreement was come to between the maritime powers
that five war ships should be sent into the Bermuda waters.
Since a great cavern existed in the interior of the bulk of
Backcup, an attempt. was to be made to bring down its
rocky side like the walls of a bastion, under the fire of
powerful modern artillery.
The squadron assembled at the entrance of the Chesa-
peake in Virginia, and directed its course towards the
group, which it sighted in the evening of November 17th.
The next day the squadron attacked in the morning.
The ship that was to lead proceeded on her way, and
was yet within four and a half miles of the base of the
rock-islet, when three shells, after having passed beyond
her, curved back upon themselves and burst, at fifty yardsâ€™
distance from her hull. She sank in a few seconds,
carrying hundreds of victims into the depths of the
The effect of this explosion, due to a terrible disturbance
of the atmospheric layers which produced a concussion
greater than any previously obtained from the new explo-
sives, was instantaneous. es
The four ships, which were far behind, felt the terrible
repercussion even at their distance.
308 FOR THE FLAG
Two consequences were to be deduced from this sudden
and extraordinary catastrophe:
First, Ker Karraje, the pirate, was now the possessor of
the Roch Fulgurator ;
Second, the new exterminator really possessed the
destructive power attributed to it by its inventor.
After the disappearance of the leading cruiser the
other ships lowered their boats to pick up the survivors of
the disaster. There was only some wreckage.
Then it was that. officers and crews, thirsting for ven-
geance, signalled to each other and urged their ships
The fastest of the four, the Zonnantâ€”a French man-of-
warâ€”took the lead at full steam, while the other ships put
on full steam in order to rejoin it.
The ZYonunant advanced half a mile within the danger
zone. which had just been the scene of the explosion, at the
risk of being destroyed by other missiles. At the moment
when her big guns were being brought to bear on the
island, she hoisted the tricolour.
From the bridges the officers could see Ker Karrajeâ€™s
band scattered over the rocks.
This offered a favourable opportunity for destroying
some of the desperadoes, even before their lair could be
gutted by cannon balls. Then the Younant fired her
first guns, and a precipitate flight of the pirates into the
interior of Backcup took place.
Some minutes later space itself was shaken by a shock
so great that the roof of the sky seemed to fall intc
the abyss of the Atlantic.
For the flag
ON BOARD THE â€˜â€œâ€˜ TONNANTâ€ 311
In the place where the rock-island had been there was
nothing more than a mass of smoking rocks, rolling one
over the other like the stones of an avalanche. In the
place of the â€œupturnedâ€ cup, a broken cup!â€”in the
place of Backcup, a vast heap of reefs, on which the sea,
which the explosion had turned into a whirlpool, rushed
What had been the cause of that explosion? Had
it been voluntarily effected by the pirates, because they
were incapable of defending themselves ?
The Yonnant had been only slightly damaged by the
fragments of the island. Her commander ordered her
boats to be lowered, and headed for what remained of
After having landed under the orders of their officers
the men explored the ruins, which now mingled with the
chain of reefs in the direction of the Bermudas.
Here and there frightfully mutilated corpses were picked
up, scattered limbs, mere shreds and nameless remnants of
human beings; but of the cavern nothing could be seen.
All was buried beneath its ruins.
A. solitary body was found intact on the north-eastern
side of the reef.
The faintest breath still animated it, and it was hoped
the man might be brought back to life. He lay on his
right side, in his clenched hand was a note-book, the last
line of the entries was unfinished.
It was the body of Simon Hart, the engineer, who was
carried on board the Zoxnant, but every effort failed to
bring him back to consciousness.
312 FOR THE FLAG
However, by the reading of his notes, made up to the
moment of the explosion inside the cavern, it became
possible to reconstruct a portion of what had occurred
during the last hours of Backcup.
And yet, in spite of appearances, Simon Hart did
survive that catastropheâ€”he alone of all those who were
only too justly its victims. So soon as he was in a con-
dition to answer questions he gave the following probable,
and indeed true explanation of the catastrophe. Being
moved to the depths of his soul by the sight of the French
flag, and becoming conscious at last of the crime of treason
to his country that he was about to commit, Roch rushed
through the passage. Having reached the cavern he made
for the magazine, where considerable quantities of his ex-
plosive was stored, and before Ker Karraje, Serko and
the others could prevent him he had caused the explosion
And now that islet of the Bermudas has disappeared.
With it have vanished Ker Karraje and his horde of
pirates, and with them the secret of Thomas Roch!
GILBERT AND RIVINGION, LTD., ST, JOHNâ€™S HOUSE, CLERKENWELL, K.C.
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REQUEST_EVENTS TITLE Disseminate Event
REQUEST_EVENT NAME 'disseminate request placed' TIME '2013-12-04T15:11:00-05:00' NOTE 'request id: 297627; Dissemination from Lois and also Judy Russel see RT# 21871' AGENT 'Stephen'
finished' '2014-01-07T22:38:13-05:00' '' 'SYSTEM'
FILE SIZE '3' DFID 'info:fdaE20081006_AAAAEWfile0' ORIGIN 'DEPOSITOR' PATH 'sip-files00330.txt'
MESSAGE_DIGEST ALGORITHM 'MD5' bc949ea893a9384070c31f083ccefd26
EVENT '2011-11-19T01:17:51-05:00' OUTCOME 'success'
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WARNING CODE 'Daitss::Anomaly' Invalid character
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