Part 2 out of 6
"It is true," replied Cosmo. "And the truth is the more bitter to me
because I spoke in the name of science, and the very men who represent
science have been my most determined opponents, blinding the people's
eyes--after willfully shutting their own."
"You say you have been weak," interposed Smith, "which you have not
been; but you would be weak if you now shrank from your plain duty."
"True!" cried Cosmo, in a changed voice. "Let us then proceed. I had a
lesson the other day. Amos Blank came to me, puffed with his pillaged
millions. I saw then what I had to do. I told him plainly that he was
not among the chosen. Hand me that book over there."
The secretary pushed a large volume within Cosmo's reach. He opened it.
It was a "Year-Book of Science, Politics, Sociology, History, and
Cosmo ran over its pages, stopping to read a few lines here and there,
seeming to make mental notes. After a while he pushed the book aside,
looked at his companion thoughtfully, and began:
"The trouble with the world is that morally and physically it has for
thousands of years grown more and more corrupt. The flower of
civilization, about which people boast so much, nods over the stagnant
waters of a moral swamp and draws its perilous beauty from the poisons
of the miasma.
"The nebula, in drowning the earth, brings opportunity for a new birth
of mankind. You will remember, Joseph, that the same conditions are said
to have prevailed in the time of Noah. There was no science then, and we
do not know exactly on what principles the choice was made of those who
should escape; but the simple history of Noah shows that he and his
friends represented the best manhood of that early age.
"But the seeds of corruption were not eliminated, and the same problem
"I have to determine whom I will save. I attack the question by
inquiring who represent the best elements of humanity? Let us first
consider men by classes."
"And why not by races?" asked Smith.
"I shall not look to see whether a man is black, white, or yellow;
whether his skull is brachycephalic or dolichocephalic," replied Cosmo.
"I shall look inside. No race has ever shown itself permanently the
"Then by classes you mean occupations?"
"Well, yes, for the occupation shows the tendency, the quintessence of
character. Some men are born rulers and leaders; others are born
followers. Both are necessary, and I must have both kinds."
"You will begin perhaps with the kings, the presidents?"
"Not at all. I shall begin with the men of science. They are the true
"But they have betrayed you--they have shut their eyes and blindfolded
others," objected Joseph Smith, as if in extenuation.
"You do not understand me," said Cosmo, with a commiserating smile. "If
my scientific brethren have not seen as clearly as I have done, the
fault lies not in science, but in lack of comprehension. Nevertheless,
they are on the right track; they have the gist of the matter in them;
they are trained in the right method. If I should leave them out, the
regenerated world would start a thousand years behind time. Besides,
many of them are not so blind; some of them have got a glimpse of the
"Not such men as Pludder," said Smith.
"All the same, I am going to save Pludder," said Cosmo Versal.
Joseph Smith fairly jumped with astonishment.
"You--are--going--to--save--Pludder," he faltered. "But he is the worst
"Not from my present view-point. Pludder has a good brain; he can handle
the tools; he is intellectually honest; he has done great things for
science in the past. And, besides, I do not conceal from you the fact
that I should like to see him convicted out of his own mouth."
"But," persisted Smith, "I have heard you say that he was--"
"No matter what you have heard me say," interrupted Cosmo impatiently.
"I say now that he shall go with us. Put down his name at the head of
Dumfounded and muttering under his breath, Smith obeyed.
"I can take exactly one thousand individuals, exclusive of the crew,"
continued Versal, paying no attention to his confidant's repeated
shaking of his head. "Good Heavens, think of that! One thousand out of
two thousand millions! But so be it. Nobody would listen to me, and now
it is too late. I must fix the number for each class."
"There is one thing--one curious question--that occurs to me," put in
Smith hesitatingly. "What about families?"
"There you've hit it," cried Cosmo. "That's exactly what bothers me.
There must be as many women as men--that goes without saying. Then, too,
the strongest moral element is in the women, although they don't weigh
heavily for science. But the aged people and the children--there's the
difficulty. If I invite a man who possesses unquestionable
qualifications, but has a large family, what am I to do? I can't crowd
out others as desirable as he for the sake of carrying all of his
stirpes. The principles of eugenics demand a wide field of selection."
Cosmo Versal covered his eyes, rested his big head on his hands, and his
elbows on the table. Presently he looked up with an air of decision.
"I see what I must do," he said. "I can take only four persons belonging
to any one family. Two of them may be children--a man, his wife, and two
"But that will be very hard lines for them--" began Joseph Smith.
"Hard lines!" Cosmo broke in. "Do you think it is easy lines for me?
Good Heavens, man! I am forced to this decision. It rends my heart to
think of it, but I can't avoid the responsibility."
Smith dropped his eyes, and Cosmo resumed his reflections. In a little
while he spoke again:
"Another thing that I must fix is an age limit. But that will have to be
subject to certain exceptions. Very aged persons in general will not
do--they could not survive the long voyage, and only in the rare
instances where their experience of life might be valuable would they
serve any good purpose in reestablishing the race. Children are
indispensable--but they must not be too young--infants in arms would not
do at all. Oh, this is sorry work! But I must harden my heart."
Joseph Smith looked at his chief, and felt a twinge of sympathy,
tempered by admiration, for he saw clearly the terrible contest in his
friend's mind and appreciated the heroic nature of the decision to which
the inexorable logic of facts had driven it.
Cosmo Versal was again silent for a long time. Finally he appeared to
throw off the incubus, and, with a return of his ordinary decisiveness,
"Enough. I have settled the general principle. Now to the choice."
Then, closing his eyes, as if to assist his memory, he ran over a list
of names well known in the world of science, and Smith set them down in
a long row under the name of "Abiel Pludder," with which he had begun.
At last Cosmo Versal ceased his dictation.
"There," he said, "that is the end of that category. I may add to or
subtract from it later. According to probability, making allowance for
bachelors, each name will represent three persons; there are
seventy-five names, which means two hundred and twenty-five places
reserved for science. I will now make a series of other categories and
assign the number of places for each."
He seized a sheet of paper and fell to work, while Smith looked on,
drumming with his fingers and contorting his huge black eyebrows. For
half an hour complete silence reigned, broken only by the gliding sound
of Cosmo Versal's pencil, occasionally emphasized by a soft thump. At
the end of that time he threw down the pencil and held out the paper to
"Of course," he said, "this is not a complete list of human occupations.
I have set down the principal ones as they occurred to me. There will be
time to correct any oversight. Read it."
Smith, by force of habit, read it aloud:
No. of Probable No.
Occupation Names of Places
Science (already assigned) 75 225
Rulers 15 45
Statesmen 10 30
Business magnates 10 30
Philanthropists 5 15
Artists 15 45
Religious teachers 20 60
School-teachers 20 60
Doctors 30 90
Lawyers 1 3
Writers 6 18
Editors 2 6
Players 14 42
Philosophers 1 3
Musicians 12 36
Speculative geniuses 3 9
"Society" 0 0
Agriculture and mechanics 90 270
Totals 329 987
Special reservations 13
Grand total, places 1000
Several times while Joseph Smith was reading he raised his eyebrows, as
if in surprise or mental protest, but made no remark.
"Now," resumed Cosmo when the secretary had finished, "let us begin with
the rulers. I do not know them as intimately as I know the men of
science, but I am sure I have given them places enough. Suppose you take
this book and call them over to me."
Smith opened the "year-book," and began:
"George Washington Samson, President of the United States."
"He goes. He is not intellectually brilliant, but he has strong sense
and good moral fiber. I'll save him if for no other reason than his veto
of the Antarctic Continent grab bill."
"Shen Su, Son of Heaven, President-Emperor of China."
"Put him down. I like him. He is a true Confucian."
Joseph Smith read off several other names at which Cosmo shook his head.
Then he came to:
"Richard Edward, by the grace of God, King of Great--"
"Enough," broke in Cosmo; "we all know him--the man who has done more
for peace by putting half the British navy out of commission than any
other ruler in history. I can't leave him out."
"Achille Dumont, President of the French republic."
"I'll take him."
"William IV, German Emperor."
"Admitted, for he has at last got the war microbe out of the family
Then followed a number of rulers who were not lucky enough to meet with
Cosmo Versal's approval, and when Smith read:
"Alexander V, Emperor of all the Russias," the big head was violently
shaken, and its owner exclaimed:
"There will be many Russians in the ark, for tyranny has been like a
lustration to that people; but I will carry none of its Romanoff seeds
to my new world."
The selection was continued until fifteen names had been obtained,
including that of the new, dark-skinned President of Liberia, and Cosmo
declared that he would not add another one.
Then came the ten statesmen who were chosen with utter disregard to
racial and national lines.
In selecting his ten business magnates, Cosmo stated his rule:
"I exclude no man simply because he is a billionaire. I consider the way
he made his money. The world must always have rich men. How could I have
built the ark if I had been poor?"
"Philanthropists," read Smith.
"I should have taken a hundred if I could have found them," said Cosmo.
"There are plenty of candidates, but these five [naming them] are the
only genuine ones, and I am doubtful about several of them. But I must
run some chances, philanthropy being indispensable."
For the fifteen representatives of art Cosmo confined his selection
largely to architecture.
"The building instinct must be preserved," he explained. "One of the
first things we shall need after the flood recedes is a variety of all
kinds of structures. But it's a pretty bad lot at the best. I shall try
to reform their ideas during the voyage. As to the other artists, they,
too, will need some hints that I can give them, and that they can
transmit to their children."
Under the head of religious teachers, Cosmo remarked that he had tried
to be fair to all forms of genuine faith that had a large following. The
school-teachers represented the principal languages, and Cosmo selected
the names from a volume on "The Educational Systems of the World,"
remarking that he ran some risk here, but it could not easily be
"Doctors--they get a rather liberal allowance, don't they?" asked Smith.
"Not half as large as I'd like to have it," was the response. "The
doctors are the salt of the earth. It breaks my heart to have to leave
out so many whose worth I know."
"And only one lawyer!" pursued Joseph. "That's curious."
"Not in the least curious. Do you think I want to scatter broadcast the
seeds of litigation in a regenerated world? Put down the name of Chief
Justice Good of the United States Supreme Court. He'll see that equity
"And only six writers," continued Smith.
"And that's probably too many," said Cosmo. "Set down under that head
Peter Inkson, whom I will engage to record the last scenes on the
drowning earth; James Henry Blackwitt, who will tell the story of the
voyage; Jules Bourgeois, who can describe the personnel of the
passengers; Sergius Narishkoff, who will make a study of their
psychology; and Nicolao Ludolfo, whose description of the ark will be an
invaluable historic document a thousand years hence."
"But you have included no poets," remarked Smith.
"Not necessary," responded Cosmo. "Every human being is a poet at
"And no novelists," persisted the secretary.
"They will spring up thicker than weeds before the waters are half
gone--at least, they would if I let one aboard the ark."
"That's right. And two too many, perhaps. I'll take Jinks of the
_Thunderer_, and Bullock of the _Owl._"
"But both of them have persistently called you an idiot."
"For that reason I want them. No world could get along without some real
"I am rather surprised at the next entry, if you will permit me to speak
of it," said Joseph Smith. "Here you have forty-two places reserved for
"That means twenty-eight adults, and probably some youngsters who will
be able to take parts," returned Cosmo, rubbing his hands with a
satisfied smile. "I have taken as many players as I conscientiously
could, not only because of their future value, but because they will do
more than anything else to keep up the spirits of everybody in the ark.
I shall have a stage set in the largest saloon."
Joseph Smith scowled, but held his peace. Then, glancing again at the
paper, he remarked that there was but one philosopher to be provided
"It is easy to name him," said Cosmo. "Kant Jacobi Leergeschwaetz."
"Because he will harmlessly represent the metaphysical _genus_, for
nobody will ever understand him."
"Chosen for the same reason as the players," said Cosmo, rapidly writing
down twelve names because they were not easy to pronounce, and handing
them to Smith, who duly copied them off.
When this was done Cosmo himself called out the next
"I mean by that," he continued, "not Wall Street speculators, but
foreseeing men who possess the gift of looking into the 'seeds of time,'
but who never get a hearing in their own day, and are hardly ever
remembered by the future ages which enjoy the fruits whose buds they
Cosmo mentioned two names which Joseph Smith had never heard, and told
him they ought to be written in golden ink.
"They are _sui generis_, and alone in the world. They are the most
precious cargo I shall have aboard," he added.
Smith shrugged his shoulders and stared blankly at the paper, while
Cosmo sank into a reverie. Finally the secretary said, smiling with
evident approval this time:
"Precisely, for what does 'society' represent except its own vanity?"
"And then comes agriculture and mechanics."
For this category Cosmo seemed to be quite as well prepared as for that
of science. He took from his pocket a list already made out and handed
it to Joseph Smith. It contained forty names marked "cultivators,
farmers, gardeners," and fifty "mechanics."
"At the beginning of the twentieth century," he said, "I should have had
to reverse that proportion--in fact, my entire list would then have been
top-heavy, and I should have been forced to give half of all the places
to agriculture. But thanks to our scientific farming, the personnel
employed in cultivation is now reduced to a minimum while showing
maximum results. I have already stored the ark with seeds of the latest
scientifically developed plants, and with all the needed agricultural
implements and machinery."
"There yet remain thirteen places 'specially reserved,'" said Smith,
referring to the paper.
"I shall fill those later," responded Cosmo, and then added with a
thoughtful look, "I have some humble friends."
"The next thing," he continued, after a pause, "is to prepare the
letters of invitation. But we have done enough for to-night. I will give
you the form to-morrow."
And all this while half the world had been peacefully sleeping, and the
other half going about its business, more and more forgetful of recent
events, and if it had known what those two men were about it would
probably have exploded in a gust of laughter.
THE WATERS BEGIN TO RISE
Cosmo Versal had begun the construction of his ark in the latter part of
June. It was now the end of November. The terrors of the _third
sign_ had occurred in September. Since then the sky had nearly
resumed its normal color, there had been no storms, but the heat of
summer had not relaxed. People were puzzled by the absence of the usual
indications of autumn, although vegetation had shriveled on account of
the persistent high temperature and constant sunshine.
"An extraordinary year," admitted the meteorologists, "but there have
been warm falls before, and it is simply a question of degree. Nature
will restore the balance and in good time, and probably we shall have a
On the 31st of November, the brassy sky at New York showed no signs of
change, when the following dispatch, which most of the newspapers
triple-leaded and capped with stunning headlines, quivered down from
During last night the level of the water in Hudson Bay rose
fully nine feet. Consternation reigned this morning when
ship-owners found their wharves inundated, and vessels straining
at short cables. The ice-breaker "Victoria" was lifted on the
back of a sandy bar, having apparently been driven by a heavy
wave, which must have come from the East. There are other
indications that the mysterious rise began with a "bore" from
the eastward. It is thought that the vast mass of icebergs set
afloat on Davis's Strait by the long continued hot weather
melting the shore glaciers, has caused a jam off the mouth of
Hudson Strait, and turned the Polar current suddenly into the
bay. But this is only a theory. A further rise is anticipated.
Startling as was this news, it might not, by itself, have greatly
disturbed the public mind if it had not been followed, in a few hours,
by intelligence of immense floods in Alaska and in the basin of the
And the next day an etherogram from Obdorsk bordered on the grotesque,
and filled many sensitive readers with horror.
It is said that in the vast tundra regions of Northern Siberia the
frozen soil had dissolved into a bottomless slough, from whose depths
uprose prehistoric mammoths, their long hair matted with mud, and their
curved tusks of ivory gleaming like trumpets over the field of their
resurrection. The dispatch concluded with a heart-rending account of the
loss of a large party of ivory hunters, who, having ventured too far
from the more solid land, suddenly found the ground turning to black
ooze beneath their feet, and, despite their struggles, were all engulfed
within sight of their friends, who dared not try to approach them.
Cosmo Versal, when interviewed, calmly remarked that the flood was
beginning in the north, because it was the northern part of the globe
that was nearest the heart of the nebula. The motion of the earth being
northward, that end of its axis resembled the prow of a ship.
"But this," he added, "is not the true deluge. The Arctic ice-cap is
melting, and the frozen soil is turning into a sponge in consequence of
the heat of friction developed in the air by the inrush of nebulous
matter. The aqueous vapor, however, has not yet touched the earth. It
will begin to manifest its presence within a few days, and then the
globe will drink water at every pore. The vapor will finally condense
into falling oceans."
"What would you advise people to do?" asked one of the reporters.
The reply was given in a perfectly even voice, without change of
"_Commit suicide_! They have practically done that already."
It was nearly two weeks later when the first signs of a change of
weather were manifested in middle latitudes. It came on with a rapid
veiling of the sky, followed by a thin, misty, persistent rain. The heat
grew more oppressive, but the rain did not become heavier, and after a
few days there would be, for several consecutive hours, a clear spell,
during which the sun would shine, though with a sickly, pallid light.
There was a great deal of mystification abroad, and nobody felt at ease.
Still, the ebullitions of terror that had accompanied the earlier
caprices of the elements were not renewed. People were getting used to
In the middle of one of the clear spells a remarkable scene occurred at
It was like a panorama of the seventh chapter of Genesis.
It was the procession of the beasts.
Cosmo Versal had concluded that the time was come for housing his
animals in the ark. He wished to accustom them to their quarters before
the voyage began. The resulting spectacle filled the juvenile world with
irrepressible joy, and immensely interested their elders.
No march of a menagerie had ever come within sight of equaling this
display. Many of the beasts were such as no one there had ever seen
before. Cosmo had consulted experts, but, in the end, he had been guided
in his choice by his own judgment. Nobody knew as well as he exactly
what was wanted. He had developed in his mind a scheme for making the
new world that was to emerge from the waters better in every respect
than the old one.
Mingled with such familiar creatures as sheep, cows, dogs, and barn-yard
fowls, were animals of the past, which the majority of the onlookers had
only read about or seen pictures of, or perhaps, in a few cases, heard
described in childhood, by grandfathers long since sleeping in their
Cosmo had rapidly collected them from all parts of the world, but as
they arrived in small consignments, and were carried in closed vans,
very few persons had any idea of what he was doing.
The greatest sensation was produced by four beautiful horses, which had
been purchased at an enormous price from an English duke, who never
would have parted with them--for they were almost the last living
representatives of the equine race left on the earth--if financial
stress had not compelled the sacrifice.
These splendid animals were dapple gray, with long white tails, and
flowing manes borne proudly on their arching necks, and as they were led
at the head of the procession, snorting at the unwonted scene about
them, their eyes bright with excitement, prancing and curvetting, cries
of admiration and rounds of applause broke from the constantly growing
throngs of spectators.
Those who had only known the horse from pictures and sculptures were
filled with astonishment by its living beauty. People could not help
saying to themselves:
"What a pity that the honking auto, in its hundred forms of mechanical
ugliness, should have driven these beautiful and powerful creatures out
of the world! What could our forefathers have been thinking of?"
A few elephants, collected from African zooelogical gardens, and some
giraffes, also attracted a great deal of attention, but the horses were
the favorites with the crowd.
Cosmo might have had lions and tigers, and similar beasts, which had
been preserved, in larger numbers than the useful horse, but when Joseph
Smith suggested their inclusion he shook his head, declaring that it was
better that they should perish. As far as possible, he averred, he would
eliminate all carnivores.
In some respects, even more interesting to the onlookers than the
animals of the past, were the animals of the future that marched in the
procession. Few of them had ever been seen outside the experimental
stations where they had been undergoing the process of artificial
There were the stately white Californian cattle, without horns, but of
gigantic stature, the cows, it was said, being capable of producing
twenty times more milk than their ancestral species, and of a vastly
There were the Australian rabbits, as large as Newfoundland dogs, though
short-legged, and furnishing food of the most exquisite flavor; and the
Argentine sheep, great balls of snowy wool, moving smartly along on legs
three feet in length.
The greatest astonishment was excited by the "grand astoria terrapin," a
developed species of diamond-back tortoise, whose exquisitely sculptured
convex back, lurching awkwardly as it crawled, rose almost three feet
above the ground; and the "new century turkey," which carried its beacon
head and staring eyes as high as a tall man's hat.
The end of the procession was formed of animals familiar to everybody,
and among them were cages of monkeys (concerning whose educational
development Cosmo Versal had theories of his own) and a large variety of
birds, together with boxes of insect eggs and chrysalids.
The delight of the boys who had chased after the procession culminated
when the animals began to ascend the sloping ways into the ark.
The horses shied and danced, making the metallic flooring resound like a
rattle of thunder; the elephants trumpeted; the sheep baaed and crowded
themselves into inextricable masses against the guard-rails; the huge
new cattle moved lumberingly up the slope, turning their big white heads
inquiringly about; the tall turkeys stretched their red coral necks and
gobbled with Brobdingnagian voices; and the great terrapins were
ignominiously attached to cables and drawn up the side of the ark,
helplessly waving their immense flappers in the air.
And when the sensational entry was finished, the satisfied crowd turned
away, laughing, joking, chattering, with never a thought that it was
anything more than the most amusing exhibition they had ever seen!
But when they got back in the city streets they met a flying squadron of
yelling newsboys, and seizing the papers from their hands read, in big
"AWFUL FLOOD IN THE MISSISSIPPI!
"Thousands of People Drowned!
"THE STORM COMING THIS WAY!"
It was a startling commentary on the recent scene at the ark, and many
turned pale as they read.
But the storm did not come in the way expected. The deluging rains
appeared to be confined to the Middle West and the Northwest, while at
New York the sky simply grew thicker and seemed to squeeze out moisture
in the form of watery dust. This condition lasted for some time, and
then came what everybody, even the most skeptical, had been secretly
The ocean began to rise!
The first perception of this startling fact, according to a newspaper
account, came in a very strange, roundabout way to a man living on the
outskirts of the vast area of made ground where the great city had
spread over what was formerly the Newark meadows and Newark Bay.
About three o'clock in the morning, this man, who it appears was a
policeman off duty, was awakened by scurrying sounds in the house. He
struck a light, and seeing dark forms issuing from the cellar, went down
to investigate. The ominous gleam of water, reflecting the light of his
lamp, told him that the cellar was inundated almost to the top of the
"Come down here, Annie!" he shouted to his wife. "Sure 'tis Cosmo Versal
is invadin' the cellar with his flood. The rats are lavin' us."
Seeing that the slight foundation walls were crumbling, he hurried his
family into the street, and not too soon, for within ten minutes the
house was in ruins.
Neighbors, living in equally frail structures, were awakened, and soon
other undermined houses fell. Terror spread through the quarter, and
gradually half the city was aroused.
When day broke, residents along the water-front in Manhattan found their
cellars flooded, and South and West Streets swimming with water, which
was continually rising. It was noted that the hour was that of
flood-tide, but nobody had ever heard of a tide so high as this.
Alarm deepened into terror when the time for the tide to ebb arrived and
there was no ebbing. On the contrary, the water continued to rise. The
government observer at the Highlands telephoned that Sandy Hook was
submerged. Soon it was known that Coney Island, Rockaway, and all the
seaside places along the south shore of Long Island were under water.
The mighty current poured in through the Narrows with the velocity of a
mill-race. The Hudson, set backward on its course, rushed northward with
a raging bore at its head that swelled higher until it licked the feet
of the rock chimneys of the Palisades.
But when the terror inspired by this sudden invasion from the sea was at
its height there came unexpected relief. The water began to fall more
rapidly than it had risen. It rushed out through the Narrows faster than
it had rushed in, and ships, dragged from their anchorage in the upper
harbor, were carried out seaward, some being stranded on the sandbanks
and shoals in the lower bay.
Now again houses standing on made ground, whose foundations had been
undermined, fell with a crash, and many were buried in the ruins.
Notwithstanding the immense damage and loss of life, the recession of
the waters immediately had a reassuring effect, and the public, in
general, was disposed to be comforted by the explanation of the weather
officials, who declared that what had occurred was nothing more than an
unprecedentedly high tide, probably resulting from some unforeseen
disturbance out at sea.
The phenomenon had been noted all along the Atlantic coast. The chief
forecaster ventured the assertion that a volcanic eruption had occurred
somewhere on the line from Halifax to Bermuda. He thought that the
probable location of the upheaval had been at Munn's Reef, about halfway
between those points, and the more he discussed his theory the readier
he became to stake his reputation on its correctness, for, he said, it
was impossible that any combination of the effects of high and low
pressures could have created such a surge of the ocean, while a volcanic
wave, combining with the regular oscillation of the tide, could have
done it easily.
But Cosmo Versal smiled at this explanation, and said in reply:
"The whole Arctic ice-cap is dissolved, and the condensation of the
nebula is at hand. But there is worse behind. When the wave comes back
it will rise higher."
As the time for the next flood-tide grew near, anxious eyes were on the
watch to see how high the water would go. There was something in the
mere manner of its approach that made the nerves tingle.
It speeded toward the beaches, combing into rollers at an unwonted
distance from shore; plunged with savage violence upon the sands of the
shallows, as if it would annihilate them; and then, spreading swiftly,
ran with terrific speed up the strand, seeming to devour everything it
touched. After each recoil it sprang higher and roared louder and grew
blacker with the mud that it had ground up from the bottom. Miles inland
the ground trembled with the fast-repeated shocks.
Again the Hudson was hurled backward until a huge bore of water burst
over the wharves at Albany. Every foot of ground in New York less than
twenty feet above the mean high tide level was inundated. The
destruction was enormous, incalculable. Ocean liners moored along the
wharves were, in some cases, lifted above the level of the neighboring
streets, and sent crashing into the buildings along the water-front.
Etherograms told, in broken sentences, of similar experiences on the
western coasts of Europe, and from the Pacific came the news of the
flooding of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and,
in fact, every coast-lying town. On the western coast of South America
the incoming waves broke among the foothills of the Andes.
It was as if the mighty basins of the world's two greatest oceans were
being rocked to and fro, sending the waters spinning from side to side.
And to add to the horror of the situation, every volcano on the globe
seemed to burst simultaneously into activity, probably through the
effects of the invasion of sea water into the subterranean fire, while
the strain of the unwonted weight thrown upon the coasts broke open the
tectonic lines of weakness in the earth's crust, causing the most
terrible earthquakes, which destroyed much that the water could not
From Alaska to Patagonia, from Kamchatka through Japan to the East
Indies, from Mount Hecla to Vesuvius, Etna, and Teneriffe, the raging
oceans were bordered with pouring clouds of volcanic smoke, hurled
upward in swift succeeding puffs, as if every crater had become the
stack of a stupendous steam-engine driven at its maddest speed; while
immense rivers of lava flamed down the mountain flanks and plunged into
the invading waters with reverberated roarings, hissings, and explosions
that seemed to shake the framework of the globe.
During the second awful shoreward heave of the Atlantic a scene occurred
off New York Bay that made the stoutest nerves quiver. A great crowd had
collected on the Highlands of the Navesink to watch the ingress of the
Suddenly, afar off, the smoke of an approaching ocean liner was seen. It
needed but a glance to show that she was struggling with tremendous
surges. Sometimes she sank completely out of sight; then she reappeared,
riding high on the waves. Those who had glasses recognized her. Word ran
from mouth to mouth that it was the great _Atlantis_, the mightiest
of the ocean monarchs, of a hundred thousand tons register, coming from
Europe, and bearing, without question, many thousands of souls.
She was flying signals of distress, and filling the ether with her
inarticulate calls for help, which quavered into every radiograph
station within a radius of hundreds of miles.
But, at the same time, she was battling nobly for herself and for the
lives of her passengers and crew. From her main peak the Stars and
Stripes streamed in the tearing wind. There were many in the watching
throngs who personally knew her commander, Captain Basil Brown, and who
felt that if any human being could bring the laboring ship through
safely, he could. Aid from land was not to be thought of for a moment.
As she swiftly drew nearer, hurled onward by the resistless surges with
the speed of an express train, the captain was recognized on his bridge,
balancing himself amid the lurches of the vessel; and even at that
distance, and in those terrible circumstances, there was something in
his bearing perceptible to those who breathlessly watched him, through
powerful glasses, which spoke of perfect self-command, entire absence of
fear, and iron determination to save his ship or die with her under his
It could be seen that he was issuing orders and watching their
execution, but precisely what their nature was, of course, could only be
guessed. His sole hope must be to keep the vessel from being cast
ashore. There was no danger from the shoals, for they were by this time
deeply covered by the swelling of the sea.
Slowly, slowly, with a terrific straining of mechanic energies, which
pressed the jaws of the watchers together with spasmodic sympathy, as if
their own nervous power were cooperating in the struggle, the gallant
ship bore her head round to face the driving waves. From the ten huge,
red stacks columns of inky black smoke poured out as the stokers crammed
the furnaces beneath. It was man against nature, human nerve and
mechanical science against blind force.
It began to look as if the _Atlantis_ would win the battle. She was
now fearfully close to the shore, but her bow had been turned into the
very eye of the sea, and one could almost feel the tension of her steel
muscles as she seemed to spring to the encounter. The billows that split
themselves in quick succession on her sharp stem burst into shooting
geysers three hundred feet high.
The hearts of the spectators almost ceased to beat. Their souls were
wrapped up with the fate of the brave ship. They forgot the terrors of
their own situation, the peril of the coming flood, and saw nothing but
the agonized struggle before their eyes. With all their inward strength
they prayed against the ocean.
Such a contest could not last long. Suddenly, as the _Atlantis_
swerved a little aside, a surge that towered above her loftiest deck
rushed upon her. She was lifted like a cockleshell upon its crest, her
huge hull spun around, and the next minute, with a crash that resounded
above the roar of the maddened sea, she was dashed in pieces.
At the very last moment before the vessel disappeared in the whirling
breakers, to be strewed in broken and twisted bits of battered metal
upon the pounding sands, Captain Basil Brown was seen on the commander's
No sooner had this tragedy passed than the pent-up terror broke forth,
and men ran for their lives, ran for their homes, ran to _do
something_--something, but what?--to save themselves and their dear
For now, at last, they _believed!_
STORMING THE ARK
There was to be no more respite now. The time of warnings was past. The
"signs" had all been shown to a skeptical and vacillating world, and at
last the fulfillment was at hand.
There was no crying of "extras" in the streets, for men had something
more pressing to think of than sending and reading news about their
distresses and those of their fellow-men. Many of the newspapers ceased
publication; every business place was abandoned; there was no thought
but of the means of escape.
But how should they escape? And whither should they fly?
The lower lying streets were under water. The Atlantic still surged back
and forth as if the ocean itself were in agony. And every time the waves
poured in they rose higher. The new shores of the bay, and the new
coasts of Long Island and New Jersey, receding inward hour by hour, were
strewn with the wrecks of hundreds of vessel of all kinds which had been
caught by the surges and pitilessly hurled to destruction.
Even if men did not yet fully believe in Cosmo Versal's theory of a
whelming nebula, they were terrified to the bottom of their souls by the
conviction, which nobody could resist, that the vast ice-fields of the
north, the glaciers of Greenland, the icy mountains of Alaska, had
melted away under the terrible downpour of heat, and were swelling the
oceans over their brims. And then a greater fear dropped like a blanket
upon them. Some one thought of the _antarctic ice._
The latest dispatches that had come, before the cessation of all
communication to the newspapers, had told of the prevalence of stifling
heat throughout the southern hemisphere, and of the vast fleets of
antarctic icebergs that filled the south seas. The mighty deposits of
ice, towering to mountain heights, that stretched a thousand miles in
every direction around the south pole were melting as the arctic ice had
melted, and, when the water thus formed was added to the already
overflowing seas, to what elevation might not the flood attain!
The antarctic ice was known to be the principal mass of frozen water on
the globe. The frigid cap of the north was nothing in comparison with
it. It had long been believed that that tremendous accumulation
unbalanced the globe and was the principal cause of the unsteadiness of
the earth's axis of rotation.
Every fresh exploration had only served to magnify the conception of the
incredible vastness of that deposit. The skirts of the Antarctic
Continent had proved to be rich in minerals wherever the rocks could
find a place to penetrate through the gigantic burden of ice, and the
principal nations had quarreled over the possession or control of these
protruding bits of wealth-crammed strata. But behind the bordering
cliffs of ice, rising in places a thousand feet above the level of the
sea, and towering farther inland so high that this region was, in mean
elevation, the loftiest on the planet, nothing but ice could be seen.
And now that ice was dissolving and flowing into the swollen oceans,
adding billions of tons of water every minute!
Men did not stop to calculate, as Cosmo Versal had done, just how much
the dissolution of all the ice and permanent snow of the globe would add
to the volume of the seas. He knew that it would be but a drop in the
bucket--although sufficient to start the flood--and that the great thing
to be feared was the condensation of the aqueous nebula, already
beginning to enwrap the planet in its stifling folds.
The public could understand the melting ice, although it could not fully
understand the nebula; it could understand the swelling sea, and the
raging rivers, and the lakes breaking over their banks--and the terror
and despair became universal.
But what should they _do?_
Those who had thought of building arks hurried to see if the work might
not yet be completed, but most of them had begun their foundations on
low land, which was already submerged.
Then a cry arose, terrible in its significance and in its
consequences--one of those cries that the vanished but unconquerable god
Pan occasionally sets ringing, nobody can tell how:
"Cosmo's ark! Get aboard! Storm it!"
And thereupon there was a mighty rush for Mineola. Nobody who caught the
infection stopped to reason. Some of them had to wade through water,
which in places was knee-deep. They came from various directions, and
united in a yelling mob. They meant to carry the ark with a rush. They
would not be denied. As the excited throngs neared the great vessel they
saw its huge form rising like a mount of safety, with an American flag
flapping over it, and they broke into a mighty cheer. On they sped,
seized with the unreason of a crowd, shouting, falling over one another,
struggling, fighting for places, men dragging their wives and children
through the awful crush, many trampled helpless under the myriads of
struggling feet--driving the last traces of sanity from one another's
The foremost ranks presently spied Cosmo Versal, watching them from an
open gangway sixty feet above their heads. They were dismayed at finding
the approaches gone. How should they get into the ark? How could they
climb up its vertical sides?
But they would find means. They would re-erect the approaches. They
would _get in somehow_.
Cosmo waved them off with frantic gesticulations; then, through a
trumpet, he shouted in a voice audible above the din:
"Keep back, for your lives!"
But they paid no attention to him; they rushed upon the raised wall,
surrounding the field where Cosmo had buried his mysterious lines of
wire. Then the meaning of that enigmatical work was flashed upon them.
As the first to arrive laid their hands upon the top of the low wall
they fell as if shot through the brain, tumbling backward on those
behind. Others pushed wildly on, but the instant they touched the wall
they too collapsed. Wicked blue-green sparks occasionally flashed above
the struggling mass.
The explanation was clear. Cosmo, foreseeing the probability of a
despairing attack, had surrounded the ark with an impassable electric
barrier. The sound of a whirring dynamo could be heard. A tremendous
current was flowing through the hidden wires and transmitting its
paralyzing energy to the metallic crest of the wall.
Still those behind pushed on, until rank after rank had sunk helpless at
the impregnable line of defense. They were not killed--at least, not
many--but the shock was so paralyzing that those who had experienced its
effects made no further attempts to cross the barrier. Many lay for a
time helpless upon the sodden ground.
Cosmo and Joseph Smith, who had now appeared at his side, continued to
shout warnings, which began to be heeded when the nature of the obstacle
became known. The rush was stopped, and the multitude stood at bay,
dazed, and uncertain what to do. Then a murmur arose, growing louder and
more angry and threatening, until suddenly a shot was heard in the midst
of the crowd, and Cosmo was seen to start backward, while Joseph Smith
instantly dodged out of sight.
A cry arose:
"Shoot him! That's right! Shoot the devil! He's a witch! He's drowning
They meant it--at least, half of them did. It was the logic of terror.
Hundreds of shots were now fired from all quarters, and heads that had
been seen flitting behind the various portholes instantly disappeared.
The bullets rattled on the huge sides of the ark, but they came from
small pistols and had not force enough to penetrate.
Cosmo Versal alone remained in sight. Occasionally a quick motion showed
that even his nerves were not steady enough to defy the whistling of the
bullets passing close; but he held his ground, and stretched out his
hand to implore attention.
When the fusillade ceased for a moment he put his trumpet again to his
lips and shouted:
"I have done my best to save you, but you would not listen. Although I
know that you must perish, I would not myself harm a hair of your heads.
Go back, I implore you. You may prolong your lives if you will fly to
the highlands and the mountains--but here you cannot enter. _The ark
Another volley of shots was the only answer. One broad-shouldered man
forced his way to the front, took his stand close to the wall, and
yelled in stentorian tones:
"Cosmo Versal, listen to me! You are the curse of the world! You have
brought this flood upon us with your damnable incantations. Your
infernal nebula is the seal of Satan! Here, beast and devil, here at my
feet, lies my only son, slain by your hellish device. By the Eternal I
swear you shall go back to the pit!"
Instantly a pistol flashed in the speaker's hand, and five shots rang in
quick succession. One after another they whistled by Cosmo's head and
flattened themselves upon the metal-work behind. Cosmo Versal,
untouched, folded his arms and looked straight at his foe. The man,
staring a moment confusedly, as if he could not comprehend his failure,
threw up his arms with a despairing gesture, and fell prone upon the
Then yells and shots once more broke out. Cosmo stepped back, and a
great metallic door swung to, closing the gangway.
But three minutes later the door opened, and the mob saw two
machine-guns trained upon them.
Once more Cosmo appeared, with the trumpet.
"If you fire again," he cried, "I shall sweep you with grapeshot. I have
told you how you can prolong your lives. Now go!"
Not another shot was fired. In the face of the guns, whose terrible
power all comprehended, no one dared to make a hostile movement.
But, perhaps, if Cosmo Versal had not set new thoughts running in the
minds of the assailants by telling them there was temporary safety to be
found by seeking high ground, even the terror of the guns would not have
daunted them. Now their hopefulness was reawakened, and many began to
ponder upon his words.
"He says we must perish, and yet that we can find safety in the hills
and mountains," said one man. "I believe half of that is a lie. We are
not going to be drowned. The water won't rise much higher. The flood
from the south pole that they talk about must be here by this time, and
then what's left to come?"
"The nebula," suggested one.
"Aw, the nebula be hanged! There's no such thing! I live on high ground;
I'm going to keep a sharp outlook, and if the water begins to shut off
Manhattan I'll take my family up the Hudson to the Highlands. I guess
old Storm King'll keep his head above. That's where I come from--up that
way. I used to hear people say when I was a boy that New York was bound
to sink some day. I used to laugh at that then, but it looks mighty like
it now, don't it?"
"Say," put in another, "what did the fellow mean by saying the ark was
_full_? That's funny, ain't it? Who's he got inside, anyway?"
"Oh, he ain't got nobody," said another.
"Yes, he has. I seen a goodish lot through the portholes. He's got
"A lot of fools like himself, most likely."
"Well, if he's a fool, and they's fools, what are _we_, I'd like to
know? What did you come here for, hey?"
It was a puzzling question, and brought forth only a sheepish laugh,
followed by the remark:
"I guess we fooled ourselves considerable. We got scared too easy."
"Maybe you'll feel scared again when you see the water climbing up the
streets in New York. I don't half like this thing. I'm going to follow
his advice and light out for higher ground."
Soon conversation of this sort was heard on all sides, and the crowd
began to disperse, only those lingering behind who had friends or
relatives that had been struck down at the fatal wall. It turned out
that not more than one or two had been mortally shocked. The rest were
able to limp away, and many had fully recovered within five minutes
after suffering the shock. In half an hour not a dozen persons were in
sight from the ark.
But when the retreating throngs drew near the shores of the Sound, and
the East River, which had expanded into a true arm of the sea, and found
that there had been a perceptible rise since they set out to capture the
ark, they began to shake their heads and fear once more entered their
Thousands then and there resolved that they would not lose another
instant in setting out for high land, up the Hudson, in Connecticut,
among the hills of New Jersey. In fact, many had already fled thither,
some escaping on aeros; and hosts would now have followed but for a
marvelous change that came just before nightfall and prevented them.
For some days the heavens had alternately darkened and lightened, as
gushes of mist came and went, but there had been no actual rain. Now,
without warning, a steady downpour began. Even at the beginning it would
have been called, in ordinary times, a veritable cloudburst; but it
rapidly grew worse and worse, until there was no word in the vernacular
or in the terminology of science to describe it.
It seemed, in truth, that "all the fountains of the great deep were
broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." The water thundered
upon the roofs, and poured off them in torrents. In five minutes every
sloping street had become an angry river, and every level place a
swelling lake. People caught out of doors were almost beaten to the
ground by the force of the water falling upon them as if they had been
standing under a cataract.
In a short time every cellar and every basement was filled to
overflowing, and in the avenues the flood, lapping every instant higher
upon the doorsteps and the walls, rushed by with frightful roarings,
bearing in its awful embrace pieces of furniture, clothing, bedding,
washed out of ground-floor rooms--and, alas! human beings; some
motionless, already mercifully deprived of life, but others struggling
and shouting for aid which could not be given.
So terrible a spectacle no one had ever looked upon, no one had ever
imagined. Those who beheld it were too stunned to cry out, too
overwhelmed with terror and horror to utter a word. They stood, or fell
into chairs or upon the floor, trembling in every limb, with staring
eyes and drooping jaws, passively awaiting their fate.
As night came on there was no light. The awful darkness of the _third
sign_ once more settled upon the great city, but now it was not the
terror of indefinite expectation that crushed down the souls of men and
women--it was the weight of doom accomplished!
There was no longer any room for self-deception; every quaking heart
felt now that the nebula had come. _Cosmo Versal had been right!_
After the water had attained a certain height in the streets and yards,
depending upon the ratio between the amount descending from the sky and
that which could find its way to the rivers, the flood for the time
being rose no higher. The actual drowning of New York could not happen
until the Hudson and the East River should become so swollen that the
water would stand above the level of the highest buildings, and turn the
whole region round about, as far as the Orange hills, the Ramapo
Mountains, the Highlands, and the Housatonic hills, into an inland sea.
But before we tell that story we must return to see what was going on at
Mineola. Cosmo Versal, on that awful night when New York first knew
beyond the shadow of a doubt, or the gleam of a hope, that it was
doomed, presided over a remarkable assembly in the grand saloon of his
THE COMPANY OF THE REPRIEVED
How did it happen that Cosmo Versal was able to inform the mob when it
assailed the ark that he had no room left?
Who composed his ship's company, whence had they come, and how had they
managed to embark without the knowledge of the public?
The explanation is quite simple. It was all due to the tremendous
excitement that had prevailed ever since the seas began to overflow. In
the universal confusion people had to think of other things nearer their
doors than the operations of Cosmo Versal. Since the embarkation of the
animals the crowds had ceased to visit the field at Mineola, and it was
only occasionally that even a reporter was sent there. Accordingly,
there were many hours every day when no curiosity-seekers were in sight
of the ark, and at night the neighborhood was deserted; and this state
of affairs continued until the sudden panic which led to the attack that
has been described.
Cosmo Versal, of course, had every reason to conceal the fact that he
was carefully selecting his company. It was a dangerous game to play,
and he knew it. The consequence was that he enjoined secrecy upon his
invited guests, and conducted them, a few at a time, into the ark,
assuring them that their lives might be in peril if they were
recognized. And once under the domain of the fear which led them to
accept his invitation, they were no less anxious than he to avoid
publicity. Some of them probably desired to avoid recognition through
dread of ridicule; for, after all, the flood might not turn out to be so
bad as Cosmo had predicted.
So it happened that the ark was filled, little by little, and the public
knew nothing about it.
And who composed the throng which, while the awful downpour roared on
the ellipsoidal cover of the ark, and shook it to its center and while
New York, a few miles away, saw story after story buried under the
waters, crowded Cosmo's brilliantly lighted saloon, and raised their
voices to a high pitch in order to be heard?
Had all the invitations which he dictated to Joseph Smith after their
memorable discussion, and which were sent forth in the utmost haste,
flying to every point of the compass, been accepted, and was it the
famous leaders of science, the rulers and crowned heads who had passed
his critical inspection that were now knocking elbows under the great
dome of levium? Had kings and queens stolen incognito under the shelter
of the ark, and magnates of the financial world hidden themselves there?
It would have been well for them all if they had been there. But, in
fact, many of those to whom the invitations had gone did not even take
the trouble to thank their would-be savior. A few, however, who did not
come in person, sent responses. Among these was the President of the
United States. Mr. Samson's letter was brief but characteristic. It
To COSMO VERSAL, ESQ.
The President directs me to say that he is grateful for your invitation,
and regrets that he cannot accept it. He is informed by those to whose
official advice he feels bound to listen, that the recent extraordinary
events possess no such significance as you attach to them.
Respectfully, FOR THE PRESIDENT,
JAMES JENKS, Secretary.
It must be remembered that this letter was written before the oceanic
overflow began. After that, possibly, the President and his advisers
changed their opinion. But then communication by rail was cut off, and
as soon as the downpour from the sky commenced the aero express lines
were abandoned. The airships would have been deluged, and blown to
destruction by the tremendous gusts which, at intervals, packed the
rain-choked air itself into solid billows of water.
None of the rulers of the old world responded, but about half the men of
science, and representatives of the other classes that Cosmo had set
down on his list, were wise enough to accept, and they hurried to New
York before the means of transit by land and sea were destroyed.
Among these were Englishmen, Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards, Germans,
Austrians, Poles, people from the Balkan states, Swedes, Danes,
Russians, and a few from India, China, and Japan. The clatter of their
various tongues made a very Babel inside the ark, when they talked to
one another in groups, but nearly all of them were able to speak
English, which, after many years of experiment, had been adopted as the
common language for transacting the world's affairs.
There was another letter, which Cosmo read with real regret, although
hardly with surprise. It was from Professor Pludder. Instead of
expressing gratitude for the invitation, as the President, trained in
political blandiloquence, had done, Professor Pludder indulged in
"You are insane," he said. "You do not know what you are talking about.
Your letter is an insult to science. These inundations" (this, too, was
written before the sky had opened its flood-gates) "are perfectly
explicable by the ordinary laws of nature. Your talk of a nebula is so
ridiculous that it deserves no reply. If any lunatic accepts your absurd
invitation, and goes into your 'ark,' he will find himself in Bedlam,
where he ought to be."
"I guess you were right," Cosmo remarked to Joseph Smith, after reading
this outburst. "Pludder would not contribute to the regeneration of
mankind. We are better off without him."
But Cosmo Versal was mistaken in thinking he had heard the last of Abiel
Pludder. The latter was destined to show that he was hardly a less
remarkable specimen of _homo sapiens_ than the big-headed prophet
of the second deluge himself.
As soon as it became evident that there would be room to spare in the
ark, Cosmo set at work to fill up the list. He went over his categories
once more, but now, owing to the pressure of time, he was obliged to
confine his selections to persons within easy reach. They came, nearly
all, from New York, or its vicinity; and since these last invitations
went out just on the eve of the events described in the last two
chapters, there was no delay in the acceptances, and the invitees
promptly presented themselves in person.
Cosmo's warning to them of the necessity of secrecy was superfluous, for
the selfishness of human nature never had a better illustration than
they afforded. The lucky recipients of the invitations stole away
without a word of farewell, circumspectly disappearing, generally at
night, and often in disguise; and when the attack occurred on the ark,
there were, behind the portholes, many anxious eyes cautiously staring
out and recognizing familiar faces in the mob, while the owners of those
eyes trembled in their shoes lest their friends might succeed in forcing
an entrance. After all, it was to be doubted if Cosmo Versal, with all
his vigilance, had succeeded in collecting a company representing
anything above the average quality of the race.
But there was one thing that did great credit to his heart. When he
found that he had room unoccupied, before adding to his lists he
consented to take more than two children in a family. It was an immense
relief, for--it must be recorded--there were some who, in order to
qualify themselves, had actually abandoned members of their own
families! Let it also be said, however, that many, when they found that
the conditions imposed were inexorable, and that they could only save
themselves by leaving behind others as dear to them as their own lives,
indignantly refused, and most of these did not even reply to the
It was another indication of Cosmo's real humanity, as well as of his
shrewdness, that, as far as they were known, and could be reached, the
persons who had thus remained true to the best instincts of nature were
the first to receive a second invitation, with an injunction to bring
their entire families. So it happened that, after all, there were aged
men and women, as well as children in arms, mingled in that remarkable
It will be recalled that thirteen places had been specially reserved, to
be filled by Cosmo Versal's personal friends. His choice of these
revealed another pleasing side of his mind. He took thirteen men and
women who had been, in one capacity or another, employed for many years
in his service. Some of them were old family servants that had been in
his father's house.
"Every one of these persons," he said to Joseph Smith, "is worth his
weight in gold. Their disinterested fidelity to duty is a type of
character that almost became extinct generations ago, and no more
valuable leaven could be introduced into the society of the future.
Rather than leave them, I would stay behind myself."
Finally there was the crew. This comprised one hundred and fifty
members, all of them chosen from the body of engineers, mechanics, and
workmen who had been employed in the construction of the ark. Cosmo
himself was, of course, the commander, but he had for his lieutenants
skilled mariners, electrical and mechanical engineers, and men whom he
himself had instructed in the peculiar duties that would fall to them in
the navigation and management of the ark, every detail of which he had
laboriously worked out with a foresight that seemed all but superhuman.
All of the passengers and crew were aboard when the baffled mob
retreated from Mineola, and some, when that danger was past, wished to
descend to the ground, and go and look at the rising waters, which had
not yet invaded the neighborhood. But Cosmo absolutely forbade any
departures from the ark. The condensation of the nebula, he declared,
was likely to begin any minute, and the downpour would be so fierce that
a person might be drowned in the open field.
It came even sooner than he had anticipated, with the results that we
have already noted in New York. At first many thought that the ark
itself would be destroyed, so dreadful was the impact of the falling
water. The women and children, and some of the men, were seized with
panic, and Cosmo had great difficulty in reassuring them.
"The flood will not reach us for several hours yet," he said. "The level
of the water must rise at least a hundred feet more before we shall be
afloat. Inside here we are perfectly safe. The ark is exceedingly strong
and absolutely tight. You have nothing to fear."
Then he ordered an ingenious sound-absorbing screen, which he had
prepared, to be drawn over the great ceiling of the saloon, the effect
of which was to shut out the awful noise of the water roaring upon the
roof of the ark. A silence that was at first startling by contrast to
the preceding din prevailed as soon as the screen was in place.
Amid a hush of expectancy, Cosmo now mounted a dais at one end of the
room. Never before had the intellectual superiority of the man seemed so
evident. His huge "dome of thought," surmounting his slight body,
dominated the assembly like the front of Jove. Chairs near him were
occupied by Professor Jeremiah Moses, Professor Abel Able, Professor
Alexander Jones, and the two "speculative geniuses" whom he had named to
Joseph Smith. These were Costake Theriade, of Rumania, a tall, dark,
high-browed thinker, who was engaged in devising ways to extract and
recover interatomic energy; and Sir Wilfred Athelstone, whose specialty
was bio-chemistry, and who was said to have produced amazing results in
artificial parthenogenesis and the production of new species.
As soon as attention was concentrated upon him, Cosmo Versal began to
"My friends," he said, "the world around us is now sinking beneath a
flood that will not be arrested until America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and
Australia have disappeared. We stand at the opening of a new age. You
alone who are here assembled, and your descendants, will constitute the
population of the new world that is to be.
"In this ark, which owes its existence to the foreseeing eye of science,
you will be borne in safety upon the bosom of the battling waters, and
we will disembark upon the first promising land that reappears, and
begin the plantation and development of a new society of men and women,
which, I trust, will afford a practical demonstration of the principles
"I have, as far as possible, and as far as the pitiful blindness of
mankind permitted me to go, selected and assembled here representatives
of the best tendencies of humanity. You are a chosen remnant, and the
future of this planet depends upon you.
"I have been fortunate in securing the companionship of men of science
who will be able to lead and direct. The ark is fully provisioned for a
period which must exceed the probable duration of the flood. I have
taken pains not to overcrowd it, and every preparation has been made for
any contingencies which may arise.
"It is inexpressibly sad to part thus with the millions of our
fellow-beings who would not heed the warnings that were lavished upon
them; but, while our hearts may be rent with the thought, it is our duty
to cast off the burden of vain regrets and concentrate all our energies
upon the great work before us.
"I salute," he continued, raising his voice and lifting a glass of wine
from the little table before him, "the world of the past--may its faults
be forgotten--and the world of the future--may it rise on the wings of
science to nobler prospects!"
He poured out the wine like a libation; and as his voice ceased to echo,
and he sank into his seat, an uncontrollable wave of emotion ran over
the assembly. Many of the women wept, and the men conversed in whispers.
After a considerable interval, during which no one spoke above his
breath, Professor Able Abel arose and said:
"The gratitude which we owe to this man"--indicating Cosmo Versal--"can
best be expressed, not in words, but by acts. He has led us thus far; he
must continue to lead us to the end. We were blind, while he was full of
light. It will become us hereafter to heed well whatever he may say. I
now wish to ask if he can foresee where upon the re-emerging planet a
foothold is first likely to be obtained. Where lies our land of
"I can answer that question," Cosmo replied, "only in general terms. You
are all aware that the vast table-land of Tibet is the loftiest region
upon the globe. In its western part it lies from fourteen to seventeen
or eighteen thousand feet above the ordinary level of the sea. Above it
rise the greatest mountain peaks in existence. Here the first
considerable area is likely to be uncovered. It is upon the Pamirs, the
'Roof of the World,' that we shall probably make our landing."
"May I ask," said Professor Abel Able, "in what manner you expect the
waters of the flood to be withdrawn, after the earth is completely
"That," was the reply, "was one of the fundamental questions that I
examined, but I do not care to enter into a discussion of it now. I may
simply say that it is not only upon the disappearance of the waters that
our hopes depend, but upon circumstances that I shall endeavor to make
clear hereafter. The new cradle of mankind will be located near the old
one, and the roses of the Vale of Cashmere will canopy it."
Cosmo Versal's words made a profound impression upon his hearers, and
awoke thoughts that carried their minds off into strange reveries. No
more questions were asked, and gradually the assemblage broke up into
groups of interested talkers.
It was now near midnight. Cosmo, beckoning Professor Abel Able,
Professor Alexander Jones, and Professor Jeremiah Moses to accompany
him, made his way out of the saloon, and, secretly opening one of the
gangway doors, they presently stood, sheltering themselves from the
pouring rain, in a position which enabled them to look toward New York.
Nothing, of course, was visible through the downpour; but they were
startled at hearing fearful cries issuing out of the darkness. The rural
parts of the city, filled with gardens and villas, lay round within a
quarter of a mile of the ark, and the sound, accelerated by the
water-charged atmosphere, struck upon their ears with terrible
distinctness. Sometimes, when a gust of wind blew the rain into their
faces, the sound deepened into a long, despairing wail, which seemed to
be borne from afar off, mingled with the roar of the descending
torrent--the death-cry of the vast metropolis!
"Merciful Heaven, I cannot endure this!" cried Professor Moses.
"Go to my cabin," Cosmo yelled in his ear, "and take the others with
you. I will join you there in a little while. I wish to measure the rate
of rise of the water."
They gladly left him, and fled into the interior of the ark. Cosmo
procured an electric lamp; and the moment its light streamed out he
perceived that the water had already submerged the great cradle in which
the ark rested, and was beginning to creep up the metallic sides. He
lowered a graduated tape into it, provided with an automatic register.
In a few minutes he had completed his task, and then he went to rejoin
his late companions in his cabin.
"In about an hour," he said to them, "we shall be afloat. The water is
rising at the rate of one-thirtieth of an inch per second."
"No more than that?" asked Professor Jones with an accent of surprise.
"That is quite enough," Cosmo replied. "One-thirtieth of an inch per
second means two inches in a minute, and ten feet in an hour. In
twenty-four hours from now the water will stand two hundred and forty
feet above its present level, and then only the tallest structures in
New York will lift their tops above it, if, indeed, they are not long
before overturned by undermining or the force of the waves."
"But it will be a long time before the hills and highlands are
submerged," suggested Professor Jones. "Are you perfectly sure that the
flood will cover them?"
Cosmo Versal looked at his interlocutor, and slowly shook his head.
"It is truly a disappointment to me," he said at length, "to find that,
even now, remnants of doubt cling to your minds. I tell you that the
nebula is condensing at its maximum rate. It is likely to continue to do
so for at least four months. In four months, at the rate of two inches
per minute, the level of the water will rise 28,800 feet. There is only
one peak in the world which is surely known to attain a slightly greater
height than that--Mount Everest, in the Himalayas. Even in a single
month the rise will amount to 7,200 feet. That is 511 feet higher than
the loftiest mountain in the Appalachians. In one month, then, there
will be nothing visible of North America east of the Rockies. And in
another month they will have gone under."
Not another word was said. The three professors sat, wide-eyed and
open-mouthed, staring at Cosmo Versal, whose bald head was crowned with
an aureole by the electric light that beamed from the ceiling, while,
with a gold pocket pencil, he fell to figuring upon a sheet of paper.
THE LAST DAY OF NEW YORK
While Cosmo Versal was calculating, from the measured rise of the water,
the rate of condensation of the nebula, and finding that it added
twenty-nine trillion two hundred and ninety billion tons to the weight
of the earth every minute--a computation that seemed to give him great
mental satisfaction--the metropolis of the world, whose nucleus was the
island of Manhattan, and every other town and city on the globe that
lay near the ordinary level of the sea, was swiftly sinking beneath the
Everywhere, over all the broad surface of the planet, a wail of despair
arose from the perishing millions, beaten down by the water that poured
from the unpitying sky. Even on the highlands the situation was little
better than in the valleys. The hills seemed to have been turned into the
crests of cataracts from which torrents of water rushed down on all sides,
stripping the soil from the rocks, and sending the stones and bowlders
roaring and leaping into the lowlands and the gorges. Farmhouses, barns,
villas, trees, animals, human beings--all were swept away together.
Only on broad elevated plateaus, where higher points rose above the general
level, were a few of the inhabitants able to find a kind of refuge. By
seeking these high places, and sheltering themselves as best they could
among immovable rocks, they succeeded, at least, in delaying their fate.
Notwithstanding the fact that the atmosphere was filled with falling water,
they could yet breathe, if they kept the rain from striking directly in
their faces. It was owing to this circumstance, and to some extraordinary
occurrences which we shall have to relate, that the fate of the human race
was not precisely that which Cosmo Versal had predicted.
We quitted the scene in New York when the shadow of night had just fallen,
and turned the gloom of the watery atmosphere into impenetrable darkness.
The events of that dreadful night we shall not attempt to depict. When the
hours of daylight returned, and the sun should have brightened over the
doomed city, only a faint, phosphorescent luminosity filled the sky. It
was just sufficient to render objects dimly visible. If the enclosing
nebula had remained in a cloud-like state it would have cut off all light,
but having condensed into raindrops, which streamed down in parallel lines,
except when sudden blasts of wind swept them into a confused mass, the
sunlight was able to penetrate through the interstices, aided by the
transparency of the water, and so a slight but variable illumination was
In this unearthly light many tall structures of the metropolis, which had
as yet escaped the effects of undermining by the rushing torrents in the
streets, towered dimly toward the sky, shedding streams of water from every
cornice. Most of the buildings of only six or eight stories had already
been submerged, with the exception of those that stood on the high grounds
in the upper part of the island, and about Spuyten Duyvil.
In the towers and upper stories of the lofty buildings still standing in
the heart of the city, crowds of unfortunates assembled, gazing with
horror at the spectacles around them, and wringing their hands in helpless
despair. When the light brightened they could see below them the angry
water, creeping every instant closer to their places of refuge, beaten
into foam by the terrible downpour, and sometimes, moved by a mysterious
impulse, rising in sweeping waves which threatened to carry everything
Every few minutes one of the great structures would sway, crack, crumble,
and go down into the seething flood, the cries of the lost souls being
swallowed up in the thunder of the fall. And when this occurred within
sight of neighboring towers yet intact, men and women could be seen, some
with children in their arms, madly throwing themselves from windows and
ledges, seeking quick death now that hope was no more!
Strange and terrible scenes were enacted in the neighborhood of what had
been the water-fronts. Most of the vessels moored there had been virtually
wrecked by the earlier invasion of the sea. Some had been driven upon the
shore, others had careened and been swamped at their wharves. But a few had
succeeded in cutting loose in time to get fairly afloat. Some tried to go
out to sea, but were wrecked by running against obstacles, or by being
swept over the Jersey flats. Some met their end by crashing into the
submerged pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Others steered up the course
of the Hudson River, but that had become a narrow sea, filled with floating
and tossing debris of every sort, and all landmarks being invisible, the
luckless navigators lost their way, and perished, either through collisions
with other vessels, or by driving upon a rocky shore.
The fate of the gigantic building containing the offices of the municipal
government, which stood near the ancient City Hall, and which had been the
culminating achievement of the famous epoch of "sky-scrapers," was a thing
so singular, and at the same time dramatic, that in a narrative dealing
with less extraordinary events than we are obliged to record it would
appear altogether incredible.
With its twoscore lofty stories, and its massive base, this wonderful
structure rose above the lower quarter of the city, and dominated it, like
a veritable Tower of Babel, made to defy the flood. Many thousands of
people evidently regarded it in that very light, and they had fled from all
quarters, as soon as the great downpour began, to find refuge within its
mountainous flanks. There were men--clerks, merchants, brokers from the
downtown offices--and women and children from neighboring tenements.
By good chance, but a few weeks before, this building had been fitted with
a newly invented system of lighting, by which each story was supplied with
electricity from a small dynamo of its own, and so it happened that now the
lamps within were all aglow, lightening the people's hearts a little with
their cheering radiance.
Up and up they climbed, the water ever following at their heels, from floor
to floor, until ten of the great stages were submerged. But there were more
than twice as many stages yet above, and they counted them with unexpiring
hope, telling one another, with the assurance of desperation, that long
before the flood could attain so stupendous an altitude the rain would
surely cease, and the danger, as far as they were concerned, would pass
"See! See!" cries one. "It is stopping! It is coming no higher! I've been
watching that step, and the water has stopped! It hasn't risen for ten
"Hurrah! Hurrah!" yells the crowd behind and above. And the glad cry is
taken up and reverberated from story to story until it bursts wildly out
into the rain-choked air at the very summit.
"Hurrah! Hurrah! We are saved! The flood has stopped!"
Men madly embrace each other. Women burst into tears and hug their children
to their breasts, filled with a joy and thankfulness that can find no
expression in words.
"You are wrong," says another man, crouching beside him who first spoke.
"It has not stopped--it is still rising."
"_What_! I tell you it _has_ stopped," snaps the other. "Look at that step!
It stopped right below it."
"_You've been watching the wrong step_. It's rising!"
"You fool! Shut your mouth! I say it has _stopped_."
"No, it has not."
"It has! It has!"
"Look at _that_ step, then! See the water just now coming over it."
The obstinate optimist stares a moment, turns pale, and then, with an oath,
strikes his more clear-headed neighbor in the face! And the excited crowd
behind, with the blind instinctive feeling that, somehow, he has robbed
them of the hope which was but now as the breath of life to them, strike
him and curse him, too.
But he had seen only too clearly.
With the steady march of fate--two inches a minute, as Cosmo Versal had
accurately measured it--the water still advances and climbs upward.
In a little while they were driven to another story, and then to another.
But hope would not down. They could not believe that the glad news, which
had so recently filled them with joy, was altogether false. The water
_must_ have stopped rising _once_; it had been _seen_. Then, it would
surely stop _again_, stop to rise no more.
Poor deluded creatures! With the love of life so strong within them, they
could not picture, in their affrighted minds, the terrible consummation to
which they were being slowly driven, when, jammed into the narrow chambers
at the very top of the mighty structure, their remorseless enemy would
seize them at last.
But they were nearer the end than they could have imagined even if they had
accepted and coolly reasoned upon the facts that were so plain before them.
And, after all, it was not to come upon them only after they had fought
their way to the highest loft and into the last corner.
A link of this strange chain of fatal events now carries us to the spot
where the United States Navy Yard in Brooklyn once existed. That place was
sunk deep beneath the waters. All of the cruisers, battleships, and other
vessels that had been at anchor or at moorings there had gone under. One
only, the boast of the American navy, the unconquerable _Uncle Sam_, which,
in the last great war that the world had known, had borne the starry flag
to victories whose names broke men's voices and filled their eyes with
tears of pride, had escaped, through the incomparable seamanship of Captain
Robert Decatur, who had been her commander for thirty years.
But though the _Uncle Sam_ managed to float upon the rising flood, she
was unable to get away because of the obstructions lodged about the great
bridges that spanned the East River. A curious eddy that the raging
currents formed over what was once the widest part of that stream kept
her revolving round and round, never departing far in any direction,
and, with majestic strength, riding down or brushing aside the floating
timbers, wooden houses, and other wreckage that pounded furiously against
her mighty steel sides.
Just at the time when the waters had mounted to the eighteenth story of the
beleaguered Municipal Building, a sudden change occurred in these currents.
They swept westward with resistless force, and the _Uncle Sam_ was
carried directly over the drowned city. First she encountered the cables of
the Manhattan Bridge, striking them near the western tower, and, swinging
round, wrenched the tower itself from its foundations and hurled it beneath
Then she rushed on, riding with the turbid flood high above the buried
roofs, finding no other obstruction in her way until she approached the
Municipal Building, which was stoutly resisting the push of the waves.
[Illustration: "THE GREAT BATTLESHIP... CRASHED, PROW ON, INTO THE STEEL-
Those who were near the windows and on the balconies, on the eastern side
of the building, saw the great battleship coming out of the gray gloom
like some diluvian monster, and before they could comprehend what it was,
it crashed, prow on, into the steel-ribbed walls, driving them in as if
they had been the armored sides of an enemy.
So tremendous was the momentum of the striking mass that the huge vessel
passed, like a projectile, through walls and floors and partitions. But as
she emerged in the central court the whole vast structure came thundering
down upon her, and ship and building together sank beneath the boiling
But out of the awful tangle of steel girders, that whipped the air and the
water as if some terrible spidery life yet clung to them, by one of those
miracles of chance which defy all the laws of probability and reason, a
small boat of levium, that had belonged to the _Uncle Sam_, was cast forth,
and floated away, half submerged but unsinkable; and clinging to its
thwarts, struggling for breath, insane with terror, were two men, the sole
survivors of all those thousands.
One of them was a seaman who had taken refuge, with a crowd of comrades,
in the boat before the battleship rushed down upon the building. All of
his comrades had been hurled out and lost when the blow came, while his
present companion was swept in and lodged against the thwarts. And so
those two waifs drove off in the raging waves. Both of them were bleeding
from many wounds, but they had no fatal hurts.
The boat, though filled with water, was so light that it could not sink.
Moreover, it was ballasted, and amid all its wild gyrations it kept right
side up. Even the ceaseless downpour from the sky could not drive it
beneath the waves.
After a while the currents that had been setting westward changed their
direction, and the boat was driven toward the north. It swept on past
toppling skyscrapers until it was over the place where Madison Square once
spread its lawns, looked down upon by gigantic structures, most of which
had now either crumbled and disappeared or were swaying to their fall. Here
there was an eddy, and the boat turned round and round amid floating debris
until two other draggled creatures, who had been clinging to floating
objects, succeeded by desperate efforts in pulling themselves into it.
Others tried but failed, and no one lent a helping hand. Those who were
already in the boat neither opposed nor aided the efforts of those who
battled to enter it. No words were heard in the fearful uproar--only
Suddenly the current changed again, and the boat, with its dazed occupants,
was hurried off in the direction of the Hudson. Night was now beginning
once more to drop an obscuring curtain over the scene, and under that
curtain the last throes of drowning New York were hidden. When the sun
again faintly illuminated the western hemisphere the whole Atlantic
seaboard was buried under the sea.
As the water rose higher, Cosmo Versal's Ark at last left its cradle, and
cumbrously floated off, moving first eastward, then turning in the
direction of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Cosmo had his engines in operation,
but their full power was not developed as soon as he had expected, and
the great vessel drifted at the will of the currents and the wind, the
latter coming now from one side and now from another, rising at times to
hurricane strength and then dying away until only a spanking breeze swept
the ever-falling rain into swishing sheets. Occasionally the wind failed
entirely, and for many minutes at a time the water fell in vertical
At length the motive power of the Ark was developed, and it began to obey
its helm. From the shelter of a "captain's bridge," constructed at the
forward end of the huge levium dome that covered the vessel, Cosmo Versal,
with Captain Arms, a liberally bewhiskered, veteran navigator in whose
skill he confided, peered over the interminable waste of waters. There was
nothing in sight except floating objects that had welled up from the
drowned city and the surrounding villages. Here and there the body of an
animal or a human being was seen in the tossing waves, and Cosmo Versal
sadly shook his head as he pointed them out, but the stout mariner at his
side chewed his tobacco, and paid attention only to his duties, shouting
orders from time to time through a speaking-tube, or touching an electric
Cosmo Versal brought a rain-gage and again and again allowed it to fill
itself. The story was always the same--two inches per minute, ten feet per
hour, the water mounted.
The nebula had settled down to regular work, and, if Cosmo's calculations
were sound, there would be no intermission for four months.
After the power of the propellers had been developed the Ark was steered
southeastward. Its progress was very slow. In the course of eight hours
it had not gone more than fifty miles. The night came on, and the speed
was reduced until there was only sufficient way to insure the command of
the vessel's movements. Powerful searchlights were employed as long as
the stygian darkness continued.
With the return of the pallid light, at what should have been daybreak,
Cosmo and his navigator were again at their post. In fact, the former
had not slept at all, keeping watch through the long hours, with
Captain Arms within easy call.
As the light became stronger, Cosmo said to the captain:
"Steer toward New York. I wish to see if the last of the tall buildings on
the upper heights have gone under."
"It will be very dangerous to go that way," objected Captain Arms. "There
are no landmarks, and we may strike a snag."
"Not if we are careful," replied Cosmo. "All but the highest ground is now
buried very deep."
"It is taking a fool's risk," growled Captain Arms, through his brush, but
nevertheless he obeyed.
It was true that they had nothing to go by. The air was too thick with
water, and the light too feeble for them to be able to lay their course
by sighting the distant hills of New Jersey which yet remained above the
level of the flood. Still, by a kind of seaman's instinct, Captain Arms
made his way, until he felt that he ought to venture no farther. He had
just turned to Cosmo Versal with the intention of voicing his protest
when the Ark careened slightly, shivered from stem to stern, and then
began a bumping movement that nearly threw the two men from their feet.
"We are aground!" cried the captain, and instantly turned a knob that set
in motion automatic machinery which cut off the engines from the
propellers, and at the same time slowed down the engines themselves.
"A BILLION FOR A SHARE"
The Ark had lodged on the loftiest part of the Palisades. It was only after
long and careful study of their position, rendered possible by occasional
glimpses of the Orange Hills and high points further up the course of the
Hudson, that Cosmo Versal and Captain Arms were able to reach that
conclusion. Where New York had stood nothing was visible but an expanse of
turbid and rushing water.
But suppose the hard trap rocks had penetrated the bottom of the Ark! It
was a contingency too terrible to be thought of. Yet the facts must be
ascertained at once.
Cosmo, calling Joseph Smith, and commanding him to go among the frightened
passengers and assure them, in his name, that there was no danger, hurried,
with the captain and a few trusty men, into the bowels of the vessel. They
thoroughly sounded the bottom plates. No aperture and no indentation was
to be found.
But, then, the bottom was double, and the outer plates might have been
perforated. If this had happened the fact would reveal itself through the
leakage of water into the intervening space. To ascertain if that had
occurred it was necessary to unscrew the covers of some of the manholes in
the inner skin of levium.
It was an anxious moment when they cautiously removed one of these covers.
At the last turns of the screw the workman who handled it instinctively
turned his head aside, and made ready for a spring, more than half
expecting that the cover would be driven from his hands, and a stream of
water would burst in.
But the cover remained in place after it was completely loosened, and until
it had been lifted off. A sigh of relief broke from every breast. No water
"Climb in there, and explore the bottom," Cosmo commanded.
There was a space of eighteen inches between the two bottoms, which were
connected and braced by the curved ribs of the hull. A man immediately
disappeared in the opening and began the exploration. Cosmo ordered the
removal of other covers at various points, and the exploration was extended
over the whole bottom. He himself passed through one of the manholes and
aided in the work.
At last it was determined, beyond any doubt, that even the outer skin was
uninjured. Not so much as a dent could be found in it.
"By the favor of Providence," said Cosmo Versal, as his great head emerged
from a manhole, "the Ark has touched upon a place where the rocks are
covered with soil, and no harm has come to us. In a very short time the
rising water will lift us off."
"And, with my consent, you'll do no more navigating over hills and
mountains," grumbled Captain Arms. "The open sea for the sailor."
The covers were carefully replaced, and the party, in happier spirits,
returned to the upper decks, where the good news was quickly spread.
The fact was that while the inspection was under way the Ark had floated
off, and when Cosmo and the captain reached their bridge the man who had
been left in charge reported that the vessel had swung halfway round.
"She's headed for the old Atlantic," sung out Captain Arms. "The sooner
we're off the better."
But before the captain could signal the order to go ahead, Cosmo Versal
laid his hand on his arm and said:
"Wait a moment; listen."
Through the lashing of the rain a voice penetrated with a sound between a
call and a scream. There could be no doubt that it was human. The captain
and Cosmo looked at one another in speechless astonishment. The idea that
any one outside the Ark could have survived, and could now be afloat amid
this turmoil of waters, had not occurred to their minds. They experienced
a creeping of the nerves. In a few minutes the voice came again, louder
than before, and the words that it pronounced being now clearly audible,
the two listeners could not believe their ears.
"Cosmo Versal!" it yelled. "Cosmo-o-o Ver-sa-al! A billion for a share! A
_billion_, I say, a _bil-li-on_ for a share!"
Then they perceived a little way off to the left something which looked
like the outline of a boat, sunk to the gunwales, washed over by every
wave; and standing in it, up to their waists in water, were four men, one
of whom was gesticulating violently, while the others seemed dazed and
incapable of voluntary movement.
It was the boat of levium that had been thrown out of the wreckage when the
battleship ran down the Municipal tower, and we must now follow the thread
of its adventures up to the time of its encounter with the Ark.
As the boat was driven westward from the drowned site of Madison Square it
gradually freed itself from the objects floating around, most of which soon
sunk, and in an hour or two its inmates were alone--the sole survivors of a
dense population of many millions.
Alone they were in impenetrable darkness, for, as we have said, night had
by this time once more fallen.
They floated on, half drowned, chilled to the bone, not trying to speak,
not really conscious of one another's presence. The rain beat down upon
them, the waves washed over them, the unsinkable boat sluggishly rose and
fell with the heaving of the water, and occasionally they were nearly flung
overboard by a sudden lurch--and yet they clung with desperate tenacity to
the thwarts, as if life were still dear, as if they thought that they might
yet survive, though the world was drowned.
Thus hours passed, and at last a glimmer appeared in the streaming air, and
a faint light stole over the face of the water. If they saw one another,
it was with unrecognizing eyes. They were devoured with hunger, but they
did not know it.
Suddenly one of them--it was he who had been so miraculously thrown into
the boat when it shot out of the tangle of falling beams and walls--
raised his head and threw up his arms, a wild light gleaming in his eyes.
In a hoarse, screaming voice he yelled:
No other syllables that the tongue could shape would have produced the
effect of that name. It roused the three men who heard it from their
lethargy of despair, and thrilled them to the marrow. With amazed eyes they
stared at their companion. He did not look at them, but gazed off into the
thick rain. Again his voice rose in a maniacal shriek:
"Cosmo Versal! Do you hear me? Let me in! A billion for a share!"
The men looked at each other, and, even in their desperate situation, felt
a stir of pity in their hearts. They were not too dazed to comprehend that
their companion had gone mad. One of them moved to his side, and laid a
hand upon his shoulder, as if he would try to soothe him.
But the maniac threw him off, nearly precipitating him over the side of
the submerged boat, crying:
"What are _you_ doing in my boat? Overboard with you! I am looking for
Cosmo Versal! He's got the biggest thing afloat! Securities! Securities!
Gilt-edged! A _billion_, I tell you! Here I have them--look! Gilt-edged,
every one!" and he snatched a thick bundle of papers from his pocket and
waved them wildly until they melted into a pulpy mass with the downpour.
The others now shrank away from him in fear. Fear? Yes, for still they
loved their lives, and the staggering support beneath their feet had become
as precious to them as the solid earth. They would have fought with the
fury of madmen to retain their places in that half-swamped shell. They were
still capable of experiencing a keener fear than that of the flood. They
were as terrified by the presence of this maniac as they would have been
on encountering him in their homes.
But he did not attempt to follow them. He still looked off through the
driving rain, balancing himself to the sluggish lurching of the boat, and
continuing to rave, and shout, and shake his soaked bundle of papers,
until, exhausted by his efforts, and half-choked by the water that drove in
his face, he sank helpless upon a thwart.
Then they fell back into their lethargy, but in a little while he was on
his feet again, gesticulating and raging--and thus hours passed on, and
still they were afloat, and still clinging to life.
Suddenly, looming out of the strange gloom, they perceived the huge form of
the Ark, and all struggled to their feet, but none could find voice but the
As soon as he saw the men, Cosmo Versal had run down to the lowest deck,
and ordered the opening of a gangway on that side. When the door swung
back he found himself within a few yards of the swamped boat, but ten feet
above its level. Joseph Smith, Professor Moses, Professor Jones, Professor
Able, and others of the passengers, and several of the crew, hurried to his