Part 4 out of 6
mutineer walk the plank, but, as he had told Captain Arms, they didn't know
him. They were about to see that in Cosmo Versal they had not only a
prophet, a leader, and a judge, but an inexorable master also.
A plank was prepared and placed sloping from the rail.
"Walk!" said Cosmo firmly.
To everybody's surprise Campo, with blinded eyes, started immediately up
the plank, followed its full length with quick, unfaltering step, and
plunging from the end, disappeared in the sea.
Many had turned away, unable to look, but many also saw the tragedy to the
end. Then a profound sigh was heard from the whole company of the
spectators. As they turned away, talking in awed voices, they felt, as
never before, that the world had shrunk to the dimensions of the Ark, and
that Cosmo Versal was its dictator.
That same afternoon Cosmo arranged one of his "conferences," and nobody
dared to be absent, although all minds were yet too much excited to follow
the discussions which few could understand. But at length Costake Theriade
concentrated their attention by a wild burst of eloquence about the wonders
of the inter-atomic forces. Sir Athelstone, unable to endure the applause
that greeted his rival, abruptly sprang to his feet, his round face red
with anger, and shouted:
"I say, you know, this is twaddle!"
"Will the Englishman interrupt not?" cried Theriade, with his eyes ablaze.
"Shall I project not the Sir Englishman to the feeshes?"
He looked as if he were about to try to execute his threat, and Sir
Athelstone assumed a boxing attitude; but before hostilities could begin a
loud shout from the deck, followed by cries and exclamations, caused
everybody to rush out of the saloon.
Those who succeeded in getting a glimpse over the shoulders of the members
of the crew, who were already lined up along the only portion of the
bulwarks available for seeing the part of the ocean on which attention
seemed to be fixed, stared open-mouthed at a round-backed mass of shining
metal, with a circular aperture on the top, the cover of which was canted
to one side, and there stood a man, waving a gold-laced red kepi, and
bowing and smiling with great civility.
THE _JULES VERNE_
The swell of the sea caused the strange-looking craft to rise and sink a
little, and sometimes the water ran bubbling all around the low rim of the
aperture, in the center of which the red-capped man stood, resting on some
invisible support, repeating his salutations and amicable smiles, and
balancing his body to the rocking of the waves with the unconscious
skill of a sailor.
The Ark was running slowly, but it would very soon have left the stranger
in its wake if he had not also been in motion. It was evident that the
object under his feet must be a submersible vessel of some kind, although
it was of a type which Captain Arms, standing beside Cosmo on the bridge,
declared that he had never set eyes on before. It lay so low in the water
that nothing could be seen of its motive machinery, but it kept its place
alongside the Ark with the ease of a dolphin, and gradually edged in closer
When it was so near that he could be heard speaking in a voice hardly
raised above the ordinary pitch, the man, first again lifting his cap with
an easy gesture, addressed Cosmo Versal by name, using the English language
with a scarcely perceptible accent:
"M. Versal, I offer you my felicitations upon the magnificent appearance of
your Ark, and I present my compliments to the ladies and gentlemen of your
And then he bowed once more to the passengers, who were almost crowding
each other over the side in their eagerness to both see and hear.
"Thank you," responded Cosmo, "but who are you?"
"Capitaine Yves de Beauxchamps, of the French army."
"Where's the navy, then?" blurted out Captain Arms.
De Beauxchamps glanced at the speaker a little disdainfully, and then
"Alas! At the bottom of the sea--with all the other navies."
"And how have you escaped?" demanded Cosmo Versal.
"As you see, in a submersible."
"Can it be possible!" exclaimed Cosmo. "And you have been in the sea ever
since the beginning of the flood?"
"Since the first rise of the ocean on the coast at Brest."
"Have you no companions?"
"Six--in truth, seven."
"Astonishing!" said Cosmo Versal. "But I heard nothing of the preparation
of a submersible. In fact, the idea of such a thing never occurred to me.
You must have made your preparations secretly."
"We did. We did not share your certainty, M. Versal, concerning the arrival
of a deluge. Even when we embarked we were not sure that it would be more
than an affair of the coasts."
"But you must be on the point of starvation by this time. The flood has
only begun. This cessation is but for a time, while we are passing a gap in
the nebula. You will come aboard the Ark. I had chosen my company, but your
gallant escape, and the ability that you have shown, prove that you are
worthy to aid in the re-establishment of the race, and I have no doubt that
your companions are equally worthy."
The Frenchman bowed politely, and with a slight smile replied:
"I believe, M. Versal, that the _Jules Verne_ is as safe and comfortable,
and proportionately as well provisioned, as your Ark."
"So you call it the _Jules Verne?_" returned Cosmo, smiling in his turn.
"We were proud to give it that name, and its conduct has proved that it is
worthy of it."
"But you will surely come aboard and shake hands, and let us offer you a
little hospitality," said Cosmo.
"I should be extremely happy to pay my compliments to the ladies,"
responded De Beauxchamps, "but I must postpone that pleasure for the
present. In the meantime, however, I should be glad if you would lower a
landing stage, and permit me to send aboard the seventh member of our
party, who, I venture to think, may find the Ark a more comfortable abode
than our submersible."
"And who may that person be?"
"_The King of England._"
Exclamations of surprise and wonder were heard on all sides.
"Yes," resumed the Frenchman, "we picked up his majesty the first day after
the deluge began to descend from the sky."
"I will lower a ladder at once," Cosmo called out, and immediately ran down
to the lowest deck, commanding his men to make haste.
The _Jules Verne_ was skillfully brought close up to the side of the Ark,
so that the visible part of her rounded back was nearly in contact with the
bottom of the companion-ladder when it had been lowered. The sea was so
calm that there was little difficulty in executing this maneuver. De
Beauxchamps disappeared in the depths of the submersible, and after a few
minutes re-emerged into sight, supporting on his arm a stout, rather short
man, whose face, it was evident, had once been full and ruddy, but now it
was pale and worn.
"It is he!" exclaimed an English member of Cosmo's company to some of his
fellow-countrymen who had forced their way to the front.
_"It is the king!"_
And then occurred a singular thing, inspired by the marvelous circumstances
of this meeting of the sovereign of a drowned kingdom, upon the bosom of
the waters that had destroyed it, with the mere handful which remained
alive out of all the millions of his subjects.
These loyal Englishmen bared their heads (and there were three women among
them) and sang, with a pathos that surely the old hymn had never expressed
before, their national anthem: "God Save the King."
The effect was immense. Every head aboard the Ark was immediately
uncovered. De Beauxchamps removed his cap, and one or two bared heads could
be seen peering out of the interior of the submersible below him. As the
king was steadied across to the bottom of the companion-ladder, the voices
of the singers rose louder, and many of the other passengers, moved by
sympathy, or carried away by epidemic feeling, joined in the singing. Never
had any monarch a greeting like that! Its recipient was moved to the depths
of his soul, and but for the aid given him would have been unable to ascend
the swaying steps.
As he was assisted upon the deck, the song ceased and a great cheer broke
forth. There were tears in his eyes, and he trembled in every limb, when he
returned the welcoming pressure of Cosmo Versal's hand.
The moment he saw that the king was safely aboard the Ark, De Beauxchamps,
with a farewell salutation, disappeared into the interior of the _Jules
Verne_, and the submersible sank out of sight as gently as if it had been a
huge fish that had come to the top of the sea to take a look about.
After the sensation caused by the arrival of the English monarch aboard the
Ark had somewhat quieted down, and after his majesty had had an opportunity
to recover himself, Cosmo Versal invited his new guest to tell the story of
his escape. They were seated in Cosmo's cabin, and there were present
Joseph Smith, Professor Jeremiah Moses, Professor Abel Able, and Amos
Blank, beside several other members of the ship's company, including two of
the loyal Englishmen who quite naturally had been the first to strike up
the national anthem on seeing their rescued king.
Richard Edward, or Richard IV as he was officially entitled, was one of the
best kings England ever had. He was popular not only because of his almost
democratic manners and the simplicity of his life, but more because he was
a great lover of peace. We have already seen how he was chosen, solely on
that account, to be of the number of the rulers invited to go in the Ark.
He had not even replied to Cosmo's invitation, but that was simply because,
like everybody about him in whom he placed confidence, he regarded Cosmo
Versal as a mere mountebank, and thought that there was no more danger of a
flood that would cover the earth than of the fall of the moon out of the
Before responding to Cosmo's request he made a gracious reference to the
indifference with which he had formerly treated his present host.
"I am sorry, Mr. Versal," he said, with a deprecatory smile, "that I did
not sooner recognize the fact that your knowledge surpassed that of my
"Your majesty was not alone," replied Cosmo gravely, turning with his
finger a small globe that stood on his desk. "From all these deep-sunken
continents" (waving his hand toward the globe), "if the voices once heard
there could now speak, there would arise a mighty sound of lament for that
The king looked at him with an expression of surprise. He glanced from
Cosmo's diminutive figure to his great overhanging brow, marked with the
lines of thought, and a look of instinctive deference came into his eyes.
"But," continued Cosmo Versal, "it is bootless to speak of these things
now. I beg that your majesty will condescend to enlighten us concerning the
fate of that great kingdom, of ancient renown, over which you so worthily
An expression of deepest pain passed across the face of Richard Edward. For
some moments he remained buried in a mournful silence, and many sighs came
from his breast. All looked at him with profound commiseration. At last he
raised his head, and said, sorrowfully and brokenly:
"My kingdom is drowned--my subjects have perished, almost to the last soul
--my family, my gracious consort, my children--all, all--gone!"
Here he broke down, and could speak no more. Not a word was heard, for a
time in the room, and the two Englishmen present wept with their
Cosmo Versal was no less deeply moved than the others. He sat, for a while,
in complete silence. Then he arose and, going to the king, put his hand
upon his shoulder, and talked to him long, in a low, consoling voice. At
last the broken-spirited monarch was able to suppress his emotions
sufficiently to recite, but with many interruptions while he remastered
his feelings, the story of his woes and of his marvelous escape.
"Sir Francis Brook," he said, "prepared a barge, when the water invaded
London, and in that barge we escaped--her royal majesty, our children, and
a number of members of the royal household. The barge was the only vessel
of levium that existed in England. Sir Francis had furnished and
provisioned it well, and we did not think that it would be necessary to go
farther than to some high point in the interior. Sir Francis was of the
opinion that Wales would afford a secure refuge.
"It was a terrible thing to see the drowning of London, the sweeping of the
awful bore that came up the Thames from the sea, the shipping wrecked by
the tearing waves, the swirl of the fast-rising water round the immense
basin in which the city lay, the downfall of the great buildings--
Westminster Abbey was one of the first that succumbed--the overturned
boats, and even great vessels floating on their sides, or bottom up, the
awful spectacle of the bodies of the drowned tossing in the waves--all
these sights were before our horrified eyes while the vast eddy swept us
round and round until the water rose so high that we were driven off
toward the southwest.
"That we should have escaped at all was a miracle of miracles. It was the
wonderful buoyancy of the levium barge that saved us. But the terrors of
that scene can never fade from my memory. And the fearful sufferings of
the queen! And our children--but I _cannot_ go on with this!"
"Calm yourself, your majesty," said Cosmo sympathetically. "The whole
world has suffered with you. If we are spared and are yet alive, it is
through the hand of Providence--to which all of us must bow."
"We must have passed over Surrey and Hampshire," the king resumed, "the
invasion of the sea having buried the hills."
"I am surprised at that," said Cosmo. "I did not think that the sea had
anywhere attained so great an elevation before the nebula condensed. At
New York the complete drowning of the city did not occur until the
downpour from the sky began."
"Oh! that deluge from the heavens!" cried the king. "What we had suffered
before seemed but little in comparison. It came upon us after night;
and the absolute darkness, the awful roaring, the terrific force of the
falling water, the sense of suffocation, the rapid filling of the barge
until the water was about our necks--these things drove us wild with
"I tried to sustain my poor queen in my arms, but she struggled to seize
the children and hold them above the water, and in her efforts she escaped
from my hands, and henceforth I could find her no more. I stumbled about,
but it was impossible to see; it was impossible to hear. At last I fell
unconscious face downward, as it afterward appeared, upon a kind of bench
at the rear end of the barge, which was covered with a narrow metallic
roofing, and raised above the level of the bulwarks. It was there that I
had tried to shelter the queen and the children.
"In some way I must have become lodged there, under the awning, in such a
position that the pitching of the barge failed to throw me off. I never
regained consciousness until I heard a voice shouting in my ear, and felt
some one pulling me, and when I had recovered my senses, I found myself in
"And all your companions were gone?" asked Cosmo, in a voice shaking with
"Yes, oh, Lord! All! They had been swept overboard by the waves--and would
that I had gone with them!"
The poor king broke down again and sobbed. After a long pause Cosmo asked
"Did the Frenchman tell you how he came upon the barge?"
"He said that in rising to the surface to find out the state of things
there the submersible came up directly under the barge, canting it in such
a way that I was rolled out and he caught me as I was swept close to the
"But how was it that the downpour, entering the submersible, when the cover
was removed, did not fill it with water?"
"He had the cover so arranged that it served as an almost complete
protection from the rain. Some water did enter, but not much."
"A wonderful man, that Frenchman," said Cosmo. "He would be an acquisition
for me. What did he say his name was? Oh, yes, De Beauxchamps--I'll make a
note of that. I shouldn't wonder if we heard of him again."
Cosmo Versal was destined to encounter Yves de Beauxchamps and his
wonderful submersible _Jules Verne_ sooner, and under more dramatic
circumstances than he probably anticipated.
NAVIGATING OVER DROWNED EUROPE
After the English king had so strangely become a member of its company the
Ark resumed its course in the direction of what had once been Europe. The
spot where the meeting with the _Jules Verne_ had occurred was west of Cape
Finisterre and, according to the calculations of Captain Arms, in longitude
fifteen degrees four minutes west; latitude forty-four degrees nine minutes
Cosmo decided to run into the Bay of Biscay, skirting its southern coast in
order to get a view of the Cantabrian Mountains, many of whose peaks, he
thought, ought still to lie well above the level of the water.
"There are the Peaks of Europa," said Captain Arms, "which lie less than
twenty miles directly back from the coast. The highest point is eight
thousand six hundred and seventy feet above sea level, or what used to be
sea level. We could get near enough to it, without any danger, to see how
high the water goes."
"Do you know the locality?" demanded Cosmo.
"As well as I know a compass-card!" exclaimed the captain. "I've seen the
Europa peaks a hundred times. I was wrecked once on that coast, and being
of an inquiring disposition, I took the opportunity to go up into the range
and see the old mines--and a curious sight it was, too. But the most
curious sight of all was the shepherdesses of Tresvido, dressed just like
the men, in homespun breeches that never wore out. You'd meet 'em anywhere
on the slopes of the Pico del Ferro, cruising about with their flocks. And
the cheese that they made! There never was any such cheese!"
"Well, if you know the place so well," said Cosmo, "steer for it as fast as
you can. I'm curious to find out just how high this flood has gone, up to
the present moment."
"Maybe we can rescue a shepherdess," returned the captain, chuckling.
"She'd be an ornament to your new Garden of Eden."
They kept on until, as they approached longitude five degrees west, they
began to get glimpses of the mountains of northern Spain. The coast was all
under deep water, and also the foothills and lower ranges, but some of the
peaks could be made out far inland. At length, by cautious navigation,
Captain Arms got the vessel quite close to the old shore line of the
Asturias, and then he recognized the Europa peaks.
"There they are," he cried. "I'd know 'em if they'd emigrated to the middle
of Africa. There's the old Torre de Cerredo and the Pena Santa."
"How high did you say the main peak is?" asked Cosmo.
"She's eight thousand six hundred and seventy feet."
"From your knowledge of the coast, do you think it safe to run in closer?"
"Yes, if you're sure the water is not less than two thousand four hundred
feet above the old level we can get near enough to see the water-line on
the peaks, from the cro'nest, which is two hundred feet high."
"Go ahead, then."
They got closer than they had imagined possible, so close that, from the
highest lookout on the Ark, they were able with their telescopes to see
very clearly where the water washed the barren mountainsides at what seemed
to be a stupendous elevation.
"I'm sorry about your shepherdesses," said Cosmo, smiling. "I don't think
you'd find any there to rescue if you could get to them. They must all
have been lost in the torrents that poured down those mountains."
"More's the pity," said Captain Arms. "That was a fine lot of women.
There'll be no more cheese like what they made at Tresvido."
Cosmo inquired if the captain's acquaintance with the topography of the
range enabled him to say how high that water was. The captain, after long
inspection, declared that he felt sure that it was not less than four
thousand feet above the old coast line.
"Then," said Cosmo, "if you're right about the elevation of what you call
the Torre de Cerredo there must be four thousand six hundred and seventy
feet of its upper part still out of water. We'll see if that is so."
Cosmo made the measurements with instruments, and announced that the result
showed the substantial accuracy of Captain Arms's guess.
"I suspected as much," he muttered. "Those tremendous downpours, which may
have been worse elsewhere than where we encountered them, have increased
the rise nearly seventy per cent, above what my gages indicated. Now that I
know this," he continued, addressing the captain: "I'll change the course
of the Ark. I'm anxious to get into the Indian Ocean as soon as possible.
It would be a great waste of time to go back in order to cross the Sahara,
and with this increase of level it isn't necessary. We'll just set out
across southern France, keeping along north of the Pyrenees, and so down
into the region of the Mediterranean."
Captain Arms was astonished by the boldness of this suggestion, and at
first he strongly objected to their taking such a course.
"There's some pretty high ground in southern France," he said. "There's the
Cevennes Mountains, which approach a good long way toward the Pyrenees. Are
you sure the depth of water is the same everywhere?"
"What a question for an old mariner to ask!" returned Cosmo. "Don't you
know that the level of the sea is the same everywhere? The flood doesn't
make any difference. It seeks its level like any other water."
"But it may be risky steering between those mountains," persisted the
"Nonsense! As long as the sky is clear you can get good observations, and
you ought to be navigator enough not to run on a mountain."
Cosmo Versal, as usual, was unalterable in his resolution--he only changed
when he had reasons of his own--and the course of the Ark was laid,
accordingly, for the old French coast of the Landes, so low that it was now
covered with nearly four thousand feet of water. The feelings of the
passengers were deeply stirred when they learned that they were actually
sailing over buried Europe, and they gazed in astonishment at the water
beneath them, peering down into it as if they sought to discover the
dreadful secrets that it hid, and talking excitedly in a dozen languages.
The Ark progressed slowly, making not more than five or six knots, and on
the second day after they dropped the Penas de Europa they were passing
along the northern flank of the Pyrenees and over the basin in which had
lain the beautiful city of Pau. The view of the Pyrenees from this point
had always been celebrated before the deluge as one of the most remarkable
in the world.
Now it had lost its beauty, but gained in spectacular grandeur. All of
France, as far as the eye extended, was a sea, with long oceanic swells
slowly undulating its surface. This sea abruptly came to an end where it
met the mountains, which formed for it a coast unlike any that the hundreds
of eyes which wonderingly surveyed it from the Ark had ever beheld.
Beyond the drowned vales and submerged ranges, which they knew lay beneath
the watery floor, before them, rose the heads of the Pic du Midi, the Pic
de Ger, the Pic de Bigorre, the Massif du Gabizos, the Pic Monne, and
dozens of other famous eminences, towering in broken ranks like the
bearskins of a "forlorn hope," resisting to the last, in pictures of
Here, owing to the configuration of the drowned land it was possible for
the Ark to approach quite close to some of the wading mountains, and Cosmo
seized the opportunity to make a new measure of the height of the flood,
which he found to be surely not less than his former estimates had shown.
Surveying with telescopes the immense shoulders of the Monne, the Viscos,
the d'Ardiden, and the nearer heights, when they were floating above the
valley of Lourdes, Cosmo and the captain saw the terrible effects that had
been produced by the torrents of rain, which had stripped off the
vegetation whose green robe had been the glory of the high Pyrenees on the
Presently their attention was arrested by some moving objects, and at a
second glance they perceived that these were human beings.
"Good Heaven!" exclaimed Cosmo Versal. "There are survivors here. They have
climbed the mountains, and found shelter among the rocks. I should not have
thought it possible."
"And there are women among them," said Captain Arms, lowering his
telescope. "You will not leave them there!"
"But what can I do?"
"Lower away the boats," replied the captain. "We've got plenty of them."
"There may be thousands there," returned Cosmo, musing. "I can't take them
"Then take as many as you can. By gad, sir, _I'll_ not leave 'em!"
By this time some of the passengers who had powerful glasses had discovered
the refugees on the distant heights, and great excitement spread throughout
the Ark. Cries arose from all parts of the vessel:
"Rescue them!" "Go to their aid!" "Don't let them perish!"
Cosmo Versal was in a terrible quandary. He was by no means without
humanity, and was capable of deep and sympathetic feeling, as we have seen,
but he already had as many persons in the Ark as he thought ought to be
taken, considering the provision that had been made, and, besides, he could
not throw off, at once, his original conviction of the necessity of
carefully choosing his companions. He remained for a long time buried in
thought, while the captain fumed with impatience and at last declared that
if Cosmo did not give the order to lower away the boats he would do it
At length Cosmo, yielding rather to his own humane feelings than to the
urging of others, consented to make the experiment. Half a dozen levium
launches were quickly lowered and sent off, while the Ark, with slowed
engines, remained describing a circle as near the mountains as it was safe
to go. Cosmo himself embarked in the leading boat.
The powerful motors of the launches carried them rapidly to the high slopes
where the unfortunates had sought refuge, and as they approached, and the
poor fugitives saw that deliverance was at hand, they began to shout, and
cheer, and cry, and many of them fell on their knees upon the rocks and
stretched their hands toward the heavens.
The launches were compelled to move with great caution when they got near
the ragged sides of the submerged mountains (it was the Peyre Dufau on
which the people had taken refuge), but the men aboard them were determined
to effect the rescue, and they regarded no peril too closely. At last
Cosmo's launch found a safe landing, and the others quickly followed it.
When Cosmo sprang out on a flat rock a crowd of men, women, and children,
weeping, crying, sobbing, and uttering prayers and blessings, instantly
surrounded him. Some wrung his hands in an ecstasy of joy, some embraced
him, some dropped on their knees before him and sought to kiss his hands.
Cosmo could not restrain his tears, and the crews of the launches were
Many of these people could only speak the patois of the mountains, but some
were refugees from the resorts in the valleys below, and among these were
two English tourists who had been caught among the mountains by the sudden
rising of the flood. They exhibited comparative _sang froid_, and served as
spokesmen for the others.
"Bah Jove!" exclaimed one of them, "but you're welcome, you know! This has
been a demnition close call! But what kind of a craft have you got out
"I'm Cosmo Versal."
"Then that's the Ark we've heard about! 'Pon honor, I should have
recognized you, for I've seen your picture often enough. You've come to
take us off, I suppose?"
"Certainly," replied Cosmo. "How many are there?"
"All that you see here; about a hundred, I should say. No doubt there are
others on the mountains round. There must have been a thousand of us when
we started, but most of them perished, overcome by the downpour, or swept
away by the torrents. Lord Swansdown (indicating his companion, who bowed
gravely and stiffly) and myself--I'm Edward Whistlington--set out to walk
over the Pyrenees from end to end, after the excitement about the great
darkness died out, and we got as far as the Marbore, and then running down
to Gavarnie we heard news of the sea rising, but we didn't give too much
credit to that, and afterward, keeping up in the heights, we didn't hear
even a rumor from the world below.
"The sky opened on us like a broadside from an aerial squadron, and how we
ever managed to get here I'm sure I can hardly tell. We were actually
_carried_ down the mountainsides by the water, and how it failed to drown
us will be an everlasting mystery. Somehow, we found ourselves among these
people, who were trying to go _up_, assuring us that there was nothing
but water below. And at last we discovered some sort of shelter here--and
here we've been ever since."
"You cannot have had much to eat," said Cosmo.
"Not _too_ much, I assure you," replied the Englishman, with a melancholy
smile. "But these people shared with us what little they had, or could
find--anything and everything that was eatable. They're a devilish fine
lot, I tell you!
"When the terrible rain suddenly ceased and the sky cleared," he resumed,
"we managed to get dry, after a day or two, and since then we've been
chewing leather until there isn't a shoe or a belt left. We thought at
first of trying to build rafts--but then where could we go? It wasn't any
use to sail out over a drowned country, with nothing in sight but the
mountains around us, which looked no better than the one we were barely
"Then I must get you aboard the Ark before you starve," said Cosmo.
"Many have died of starvation already," returned Whistlington. "You can't
get us off a moment too quick."
Cosmo Versal had by this time freed himself of every trace of the
reluctance which he had at first felt to increasing the size of his ship's
company by adding recruits picked up at random. His sympathies were
thoroughly aroused, and while he hastened the loading and departure of the
launches, he asked the Englishmen who, with the impassive endurance of
their race, stayed behind to the last, whether they thought that there were
other refugees on the mountains whom they could reach.
"I dare say there are thousands of the poor devils on these peaks around
us, wandering among the rocks," replied Edward Whistlington, "but I fancy
you couldn't reach 'em."
"If I see any I'll try," returned Cosmo, sweeping with his powerful
telescope all the mountain flanks within view.
At last, on the slopes of the lofty Mont Aigu across the submerged valley
toward the south, he caught sight of several human figures, one of which
was plainly trying to make signals, probably to attract attention from the
Ark. Immediately, with the Englishmen and the remainder of those who had
been found on the Peyre Dufau, he hastened in his launch to the rescue.
They found four men and three women, who had escaped from the narrow valley
containing the _bains de Gazost_, and who were in the last stages of
starvation. These were taken aboard, and then, no more being in sight,
Cosmo returned to the Ark, where the other launches had already arrived.
And these were the last that were rescued from the mighty range of the
Pyrenees, in whose deep valleys had lain the famous resorts of Cauterets,
the Eaux Bonnes, the Eaux Chaudes, the Bagnieres de Luchon, the Bagnieres
de Bigorre, and a score of others. No doubt, as the Englishmen had said,
thousands had managed to climb the mountains, but none could now be seen,
and those who may have been there were left to perish.
There was great excitement in the Ark on the arrival of the refugees. The
passengers overwhelmed them with kind attentions, and when they had
sufficiently recovered, listened with wonder and the deepest sympathy to
their exciting tales of suffering and terror.
Lord Swansdown and Edward Whistlington were amazed to find their king
aboard the Ark, and the English members of the company soon formed a sort
of family party, presided over by the unfortunate monarch. The rescued
persons numbered, in all, one hundred and six.
The voyage of the Ark was now resumed, skirting the Pyrenees, but at an
increasing distance. Finally Captain Arms announced that, according to his
observations, they were passing over the site of the ancient and populous
city of Toulouse. This recalled to Cosmo Versal's memory the beautiful
scenes of the fair and rich land that lay so deep under the Ark, and he
began to talk with the captain about the glories of its history.
He spoke of the last great conqueror that the world had known, Napoleon,
and was discussing his marvelous career, and referring to the fact that he
had died on a rock in the midst of that very ocean which had now swallowed
up all the scenes of his conquests, when the lookout telephoned down that
there was something visible on the water ahead.
In a little while they saw it--a small moving object, which rapidly
approached the Ark. As it drew nearer both exclaimed at once:
"The _Jules Verne!_"
There could be no mistaking it. It was riding with its back just above the
level of the sea; the French flag was fluttering from a small mast, and
already they could perceive the form of De Beauxchamps, standing in his old
attitude, with his feet below the rim of the circular opening at the top.
Cosmo ordered the Stars and Stripes to be displayed in salute, and, greatly
pleased over the encounter, hurried below and had the companion-ladder made
"He's got to come aboard this time, anyhow!" he exclaimed. "I'll take no
refusal. I want to know that fellow better."
But this time De Beauxchamps had no thought of refusing the hospitalities
of the Ark. As soon as he was within hearing he called out:
"My salutations to M. Versal and his charming fellow-voyagers. May I be
permitted to come aboard and present myself in person? I have something
deeply interesting to tell."
Everybody in the Ark who could find a standing-place was watching the
_Jules Verne_ and trying to catch a glimpse of its gallant captain, and to
hear what he said; and the moment his request was preferred a babel of
voices arose, amid which could be distinguished such exclamations as:
"Let him come!" "A fine fellow!" "Welcome, De Beauxchamps!" "Hurrah for the
King Richard was in the fore rank of the spectators, waving his hand to his
"Certainly you can come aboard," cried Cosmo heartily, at the same time
hastening the preparations for lowering the ladder. "We are all glad to see
you. And bring your companions along with you."
TO PARIS UNDER THE SEA
De Beauxchamps accepted Cosmo Versal's invitation to bring his
companions with him into the Ark. The submersible was safely moored
alongside, where she rode easily in company with the larger vessel, and
all mounted the companion-ladder. The Frenchman's six companions were
dressed, like himself, in the uniform of the army.
"Curious," muttered Captain Arms in Cosmo's ear, "that these _soldiers_
should be the only ones to get off--and in a vessel, too. What were the
"What were _our_ seamen about?" returned Cosmo. "How many of _them_ got
off? I warned them that ships would not do. But it was a bright idea of
this De Beauxchamps and his friends to build a submersible. It didn't
occur to me, or I would have advised their construction everywhere for
small parties. But it would never have done for us. A submersible would
not have been capacious enough for the party I wanted to take."
By this time the visitors were aboard, and Cosmo and the others who
could get near enough to grasp them by the hand greeted them effusively.
King Richard received De Beauxchamps with emotion, and thanked him again
and again for having saved his life; but, in the end, he covered his
face and said in a broken voice:
"M. De Beauxchamps, my gratitude to you is very deep--but, oh, the
queen--the queen--and the children! I should have done better to perish
Cosmo and De Beauxchamps soothed him as well as they could, and the
former led the way into the grand saloon, in order that as many as
possible might see and greet their visitors, who had come so
mysteriously up out of the sea.
All of the Frenchmen were as affable as their leader, and he presented
them in turn. De Beauxchamps conversed almost gaily with such of the
ladies as had sufficient command of their feelings to join the throng
that pressed about him and his companions. He was deeply touched by the
story of the recent rescue of his countrymen from the Pyrenees, and he
went among them, trying to cheer them up, with the _elan_ that no
misfortune can eradicate from the Gallic nature.
At length Cosmo reminded him that he had said that he had some
interesting news to communicate.
"Yes," said De Beauxchamps, "I have just come from a visit to Paris."
Exclamations of amazement and incredulity were heard on all sides.
"It is true," resumed the Frenchman, though now his voice lost all its
gayety. "I had conceived the project of such a visit before I met the
Ark and transferred His Majesty, the King of England, to your care. As
soon as that was done I set out to make the attempt."
"But tell me first," interrupted Cosmo, "how you succeeded in finding
the Ark again."
"That was not very difficult," replied De Beauxchamps, smiling. "Of
course, it was to some extent accidental, for I didn't _know_ that you
would be here, navigating over France; but I had an idea that you
_might_ come this way if you had an intention of seeing what had
happened to Europe. It is my regular custom to rise frequently to the
surface to take a look around and make sure of my bearings, and you know
that the Ark makes a pretty large point on the waters. I saw it long
before you caught sight of me."
"Very well," said Cosmo. "Please go on with your story. It must, indeed,
be an extraordinary one."
"I was particularly desirous of seeing Paris again, deep as I knew her
to lie under the waves," resumed De Beauxchamps, "because it was my
home, and I had a house in the Champs Elysees. You cannot divorce the
heart of a Frenchman from his home, though you should bury it under
"Your family were lost?"
"Thank God, I had no family. If I had had they would be with me. My
companions are all like myself in that respect. We have lost many
friends, but no near relatives. As I was saying, I started for France,
poor drowned France, as soon as I left you. With the powerful
searchlight of the _Jules Verne_ I could feel confident of avoiding
obstructions; and, besides, I knew very closely the height to which the
flood had risen, and having the topography of my country at my fingers'
ends, as does every officer of the army, I was able to calculate the
depth at which we should run in order to avoid the hilltops."
"But surely," said Cosmo, "it is impossible--at least, it seems so to
me--that you can descend to any great depth--the pressure must be
tremendous a few hundred feet down, to say nothing of possible
"All that," replied the Frenchman, "has been provided for. You probably
do not know to what extent we had carried experiments in France on the
deep submersion of submarines before their general abandonment when they
were prohibited by international agreement in war. I was myself perhaps
the leader in those investigations, and in the construction of the
_Jules Verne_ I took pains to improve on all that had hitherto been
"Without going into any description of my devices, I may simply remind
you nature has pointed out ways of avoiding the consequences of the
inconceivable pressures which calculation indicates at depths of a
kilometer, or more, in her construction of the deep-sea fishes. It was
by a study of them that I arrived at the secret of both penetrating to
depths that would theoretically have seemed entirely impossible and of
remaining at such depths."
"Marvelous!" exclaimed Cosmo; "marvelous beyond belief!"
"I may add," continued De Beauxchamps, smiling at the effect that his
words had had upon the mind of the renowned Cosmo Versal, "that the
peculiar properties of levium, which you so wisely chose for your Ark,
aided _me_ in quite a different way. But I must return to my story.
"We passed over the coast of France near the point where I knew lay the
mouth of the Loire. I could have found my way by means of the compass
sufficiently well; but since the sky was clear I frequently came to the
surface in order, for greater certainty, to obtain sights of the sun and
"I dropped down at Tours and at Blois, and we plainly saw the walls of
the old chateaux in the gleam of the searchlight below us. There were
monsters of the deep, such as the eye of man never beheld, swimming
slowly about them, many of them throwing a strange luminosity into the
water from their phosphorescent organs, as if they were inspecting these
novelties of the sea-bottom.
"Arrived over Orleans, we turned in the direction of Paris. As we
approached the site of the city I sank the submersible until we almost
touched the higher hills. My searchlight is so arranged that it can be
directed almost every way--up, down, to this side, and to that--and we
swept it round us in every direction.
"The light readily penetrated the water and revealed sights which I have
no power to describe, and some--reminders of the immense population of
human beings which had there met its end--which I would not describe if
I could. To see a drowned face suddenly appear outside the window,
almost within touch--ah, that was too horrible!
"We passed over Versailles, with the old palace still almost intact;
over Sevres, with its porcelain manufactory yet in part standing--the
tidal waves that had come up the river from the sea evidently caused
much destruction just before the downpour began--and finally we
"We could see the embankments of the Seine beneath us as we passed up
its course from the Point du Jour. From the site of the Champ de Mars I
turned northward in search of the older part of the Champs Elysees,
where my house was, and we came upon the great Arc de Triomphe, which,
you remember, dates from the time of Napoleon.
"It was apparently uninjured, even the huge bronze groups remaining in
their places, and the searchlight, traversing its face, fell upon the
heroic group on the east facade of the Marseillaise. You must have seen
that, M. Versal?"
"Yes, many a time," Cosmo replied. "The fury in the face of the female
figure representing the spirit of war, chanting the 'Marseillaise,' and,
sword in hand, sweeping over the heads of the soldiers, is the most
terrible thing of human making that I ever looked upon."
"It was not so terrible as another thing that our startled eyes beheld
there," said De Beauxchamps. "Coiled round the upper part of the arch,
with its head resting directly upon that of the figure of which you
speak, was a monstrous, ribbon-shaped creature, whose flat, reddish
body, at least a meter in width and apparently thirty meters long, and
bordered with a sort of floating frill of a pinkish color, undulated
with a motion that turned us sick at heart.
"But the head was the most awful object that the fancy of a madman could
conceive. There were two great round, projecting eyes, encircled with
what I suppose must have been phosphorescent organs, which spread around
in the water a green light that was absolutely horrifying.
"I turned away the searchlight, and the eyes of that creature stared
straight at us with a dreadful, stony look; and then the effect of the
phosphorescence, heightened by the absence of the greater light, became
more terrible than before. We were unmanned, and I hardly had nerve
enough to turn the submersible away and hurry from the neighborhood."
"I had not supposed," said Cosmo, "that creatures of such a size could
live in the deeper parts of the sea."
"I know," returned De Beauxchamps, "that many have thought that the
abysmal creatures were generally of small size, but they knew nothing
about it. What could one have expected to learn of the secrets of life
in the ocean depths from the small creatures which alone the trawls
brought to the surface? The great monsters could not be captured in that
way. But we have _seen_ them--seen them taking possession of beautiful,
drowned Paris--and we know what they are."
The fascinated hearers who had crowded about to listen to the narrative
of De Beauxchamps shuddered at this part of it, and some of the women
turned away with exclamations of horror.
"I see that I am drawing my picture in too fearful colors," he said,
"and I shall refrain from telling of the other inhabitants of the abyss
that we found in possession of what I, as a Frenchman, must call the
most splendid capital that the world contained.
"Oh, to think that all that beauty, all those great palaces filled with
the master-works of art, all those proud architectural piles, all that
scene of the most joyous life that the earth contained, is now become
the dwelling-place of the terrible _fauna_ of the deep, creatures that
never saw the sun; that never felt the transforming force of the
evolution which had made the face of the globe so glorious; that never
quitted their abysmal homes until this awful flood spread their empire
over the whole earth!"
There was a period of profound silence while De Beauxchamps's face
worked spasmodically under the influence of emotions, the sight of which
would alone have sufficed to convince his hearers of the truth of what
he had been telling. Finally Cosmo Versal, breaking the silence, asked:
"Did you find your home?"
"Yes. It was there. I found it out. I illuminated it with the
searchlight. I gazed into the broken windows, trying to peer through the
watery medium that filled and darkened the interior. The roof was
broken, but the walls were intact. I thought of the happy, happy years
that I had passed there when I _had_ a family, and when Paris was an
Eden, the sunshine of the world. And then I wished to see no more, and
we rose out of the midst of that sunken city and sought the daylight far
"I had thought to tell you," he continued, after a pause, "of the
condition in which we found the great monuments of the city--of the
Pantheon, yet standing on its hill with its roof crushed in; of Notre
Dame--a wreck, but the towers still standing proudly; of the old palace
of the Louvre, through whose broken roofs and walls we caught glimpses
of the treasures washed by the water within--but I find that I have not
courage to go on. I had imagined that it would be a relief to speak of
these things, but I do not find it so."
"After leaving Paris, then you made no other explorations?" said Cosmo.
"None. I should have had no heart for more. I had seen enough. And yet I
do not regret that I went there. I should never have been content not to
have seen my beautiful city once more, even lying in her watery shroud.
I loved her living; I have seen her dead. It is finished. What more is
there, M. Versal?" With a sudden change of manner: "You have predicted
all this, and perhaps you know more. Where do _we_ go to die?"
"We shall _not_ die," replied Cosmo Versal forcefully. "The Ark and your
_Jules Verne_ will save us."
"To what purpose?" demanded the Frenchman, his animation all gone. "Can
there be any pleasure in floating upon or beneath the waves that cover a
lost world? Is a brief prolongation of such a life worth the effort of
"Yes," said Cosmo with still greater energy. "We may still _save the
race_. I have chosen most of my companions in the Ark for that purpose.
Not only may we save the race of man, but we may lead it up upon a
higher plane; we may apply the principles of eugenics as they have never
yet been applied. You, M. De Beauxchamps, have shown that you are of the
stock that is required for the regeneration of the world."
"But where can the world be regenerated?" asked De Beauxchamps with a
bitter laugh. "There is nothing left but mountain-tops."
"Even they will be covered," said Cosmo.
"Do you mean that the deluge has not yet reached its height?"
"Certainly it has not. We are in an open space in the enveloping nebula.
After a little we shall enter the nucleus, and then will come the
"And yet you talk of saving the race!" exclaimed the Frenchman with
another bitter laugh.
"I do," replied Cosmo, "and it will be done."
"Through the re-emergence of land."
"That recalls our former conversation," put in Professor Abel Able. "It
appears to me impossible that, when the earth is once covered with a
universal ocean, it can ever disappear or materially lower its level.
Geological ages would be required for the level of the water to be
lowered even a few feet by the escape of vapor into space."
"No," returned Cosmo Versal, "I have demonstrated that that idea is
wrong. Under the immense pressure of an ocean rising six miles above the
ancient sea level the water will rapidly be forced into the interstices
of the crust, and thus a material reduction of level will be produced
within a few years--five at the most. That will give us a foothold. I
have no doubt that even now the water around us is slightly lowering
through that cause.
"But in itself that will not be sufficient. I have gone all over this
ground in my original calculations. The intrusion of the immense mass of
ocean water into the interior of the crust of the earth will result in a
grand geological upheaval. The lands will re-emerge above the new sea
level as they emerged above the former one through the internal stresses
of the globe."
The scientific men present listened with breathless interest, but some
of them with many incredulous shakings of the head.
"You must be aware," continued Cosmo, addressing them particularly,
"that it has been demonstrated that the continents and the great
mountain ranges are buoyed up, and, as it were, are floating somewhat
like slags on the internal magma. The mean density of the crust is less
under the land and the mountains than under the old sea-beds. This is
especially true of the Himalayan region.
"That uplift is probably the most recent of all, and it is there, where
at present the highest land of the globe exists, that I expect that the
new upheaval will be most strongly manifested. It is for that reason,
and not merely because it is now the highest part of the earth, that I
am going with the Ark to Asia."
"But," said Professor Jeremiah Moses, "the upheaval of which you speak
may produce a complete revolution in the surface of the earth, and if
new lands are upthrust they may appear at unexpected points."
"Not at all," returned Cosmo. "The tectonic features of the globe were
fixed at the beginning. As Asia has hitherto been the highest and the
greatest mass of land, it will continue to be so in the future. It is
there, believe me, that we shall replant the seed of humanity."
"Do you not think," asked Professor Alexander Jones, "that there will be
a tremendous outburst of volcanic energy, if such upheavals occur, and
may not that render the re-emerging lands uninhabitable?"
"No doubt," Cosmo replied, "every form of plutonic energy will be
immensely re-enforced. You remember the recent outburst of all the
volcanoes when the sea burst over the borders of the continents. But
these forces will be mainly expended in an effort of uplifting.
Unquestionably there will be great volcanic spasms, but they will not
prevent the occupation of the broadening areas of land which will not be
"Upon these lands," exclaimed Sir Wilfrid Athelstone, in a loud voice,
"I will develop life from the barren minerals of the crust. The age of
chemical parthenogenesis will then have dawned upon the earth, and man
will have become a creator."
"Will the Sir Englishman give me room for a word!" cried Costake
Theriade, raising his tall form on his toes and agitating his arms in
the air. "He will create not anything! It is _I_ that will unloose the
energies of the atoms of matter and make of the new man a new god."
Cosmo Versal quieted the incipient outbreak of his jealous "speculative
geniuses," and the discussion of his theory was continued for some time.
At length De Beauxchamps, shrugging his shoulders, exclaimed, with a
return of his habitual gayety:
"_Tres bien! Vive_ the world of Cosmo Versal! I salute the new Eve that
is to come!"
THE ADVENTURES IN COLORADO
When Professor Pludder, the President, and their companions on the
aero-raft, saw the three men on the bluff motioning and shouting to
them, they immediately sought the means of bringing their craft to land.
This did not prove to be exceedingly difficult, for there was a
convenient rock with deep water around it on which they could disembark.
The men ran down to meet them, and to help them ashore, exhibiting the
utmost astonishment at seeing them there.
"Whar in creation did _you_ come from?" exclaimed one, giving the
professor a pull up the bank. "Mebbe you're Cosmo Versal, and that's yer
"I'm Professor Pludder, and this is the President of the United States."
"The President of the Un----See here, stranger, I'll take considerable
from you, considering the fix yer in, but you don't want to go too far."
"It's true," asseverated the professor. "This gentleman is the
President, and we've escaped from Washington. Please help the ladies."
"I'll help the ladies all right, but I'm blamed if I believe yer yarn.
How'd you git here? You couldn't hev floated across the continent on
"We came on the raft that you see," interrupted Mr. Samson. "We left the
Appalachian Mountains two weeks ago."
"Well, by--it must be true!" muttered the man. "They couldn't hev come
from anywhar else in that direction. I reckon the hull blamed continent
is under water."
"So it is," said Professor Pludder, "and we made for Colorado, knowing
that it was the only land left above the flood."
All finally got upon the bluff, rejoiced to feel solid ground once more
beneath their feet. But it was a desolate prospect that they saw before
them. The face of the land had been scoured and gullied by the pouring
waters, the vegetation had been stripped off, except where in hollows it
had been covered with new-formed lakes, some of which had drained off
after the downpour ceased, the water finding its way into the enveloping
They asked the three men what had become of the other inhabitants, and
whether there was any shelter at hand.
"We've be'n wiped out," said the original spokesman. "Cosmo Versal has
done a pretty clean job with his flood. There's a kind of a cover that
we three hev built, a ways back yonder, out o' timber o' one kind and
another that was lodged about. But it wouldn't amount to much if there
was another cloudburst. It wouldn't stand a minute. It's good to sleep
"Are you the only survivors in this region?" asked the President.
"I reckon you see all thet's left of us. The' ain't one out o' a hundred
that's left alive in these parts."
"What became of them?"
"Swept off!" replied the man, with an expressive gesture--"and drownded
right out under the sky."
"And how did you and your companions escape?"
"By gitting up amongst some rocks that was higher'n the average."
"How did you manage to live--what did you have to eat?"
"We didn't eat much--we didn't hev much time to think o' eatin'. We had
one hoss with us, and he served, when his time come. After the sky
cleared we skirmished about and dug up something that we could manage to
eat, lodged in gullies where the water had washed together what had been
in houses and cellars. We've got a gun and a little ammunition, and once
in a while we could kill an animal that had contrived to escape
"And you think that there are no other human beings left alive anywhere
"I _know_ th' ain't. The's probably some up in the foothills, and around
the Pike. They had a better chance to git among rocks. We hed jest made
up our minds to go hunting for 'em when we ketched sight o' you, and
then we concluded to stay and see who you was."
"I'm surprised that you didn't go sooner."
"We couldn't. There was a roarin' torrent coming down from the mountains
that cut us off. It's only last night that it stopped."
"Well, it's evident that we cannot stay here," said Professor Pludder.
"We must go with these men toward the mountains. Let us take what's left
of the compressed provisions out of the raft, and then we'll eat a good
meal and be off."
The three men were invited to share the repast, and they ate with an
appetite that would have amused their hosts if they had not been so
anxious to reserve as much as possible of their provisions for future
The meal finished, they started off, their new friends aiding to carry
provisions, and what little extra clothing there was. The aspect of the
country they traversed affrighted them. Here and there were partially
demolished houses or farm structures, or cellars, choked with debris of
what had once been houses.
Farm implements and machinery were scattered about and half buried in
the torrent-furrowed land. In the wreck of one considerable village
through which they passed they found a stone church, and several stone
houses of considerable pretensions, standing almost intact as to walls,
but with roofs, doors, and windows smashed and torn off.
It was evident that this place, which lay in a depression of the land,
had been buried by the rushing water as high as high as the top stories
of the buildings. From some of the sights that they saw they shrank
away, and afterward tried to forget them.
Owing to the presence of the women and children their progress was
slower than it might overwise have been. They had great difficulty in
crossing the course of the torrent which their companions had described
as cutting them off from the foothills of the Pike's Peak range.
The water had washed out a veritable canon, a hundred or more feet deep
in places, and with ragged, precipitous walls and banks, which they had
to descend on one side and ascend on the other. Here the skill and local
knowledge of their three new-found friends stood them in good stead.
There was yet enough water in the bottom of the great gully to compel
them to wade, carrying the women and children.
But, just before nightfall, they succeeded in reaching a range of rocky
heights, where they determined to pass the night. They managed to make a
fire with brush that had been swept down the mountain flanks and had
remained wedged in the rocks, and thus they dried their soaked garments,
and were able to do some cooking, and to have a blaze to give them a
little heat during the night, for the air turned cold after the
disappearance of the sun.
When the others had sunk into an uneasy slumber, the President and
Professor Pludder sat long, replenishing the fire, and talking of what
would be their future course.
"I think," said the professor, "that we shall find a considerable
population alive among the mountains. There is nothing in Colorado below
four thousand feet elevation, and not much below five thousand. The
great inner 'parks' were probably turned into lakes, but they will drain
off, as the land around us here has done already.
"Those who managed to find places of comparative shelter will now
descend into the level lands and try to hunt up the sites of their
homes. If only some plants and grain have been preserved they can, after
a fashion, begin to cultivate the soil."
"But there _is_ no soil," said the President, shuddering at the
recollection of the devastation he had witnessed. "It has all been
"No," replied the professor, "there's yet a good deal in the low places,
where the water rested."
"But it is now the middle of winter."
"Reckoned by the almanac it is, but you see that the temperature is that
of summer, and has been such for months. I think that this is due in
some way to the influence of the nebula, although I cannot account for
it. At any rate it will be possible to plant and sow.
"The whole body of the atmosphere having been raised four thousand feet,
the atmospheric conditions here now are virtually the same as at the
former sea-level. If we can find the people and reassure them, we must
take the lead in restoring the land to fertility, and also in the
reconstruction of homes."
"Suppose the flood should recommence?"
"There is no likelihood of it."
"Then," said the President, putting his face between his hands and
gazing sadly into the fire, "here is all that remains of the mightiest
nation of the world, the richest, the most populous--and we are to build
up out of this remnant a new fatherland."
"This is not the only remnant," said Professor Pludder. "One-quarter, at
least, of the area of the United States is still above sea-level. Think
of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, the larger part of California,
Wyoming, a part of Montana, two-thirds of Idaho, a half of Oregon and
Washington--all above the critical level of four thousand feet, and all
except the steepest moutainsides can be reclaimed.
"There is hope for our country yet. Remember that the climate of this
entire region will now be changed, since the barometric isobars have
been lifted up, and the line of thirty inches pressure now meets the
edge of the Colorado plateau. There may be a corresponding change in the
rainfall and in all the conditions of culture and fertility."
"Yes," sighed the President, "but I cannot, I cannot withdraw my mind
from the thought of the _millions, millions, millions_ who have
"I do not say that we should forget them," replied Professor Pludder;
"Heaven forbid! But I do say that we must give our attention to those
that remain, and turn our faces steadily toward the future."
"Abiel," returned the President, pressing the professor's hand, "you are
right. My confidence in you was shaken, but now I follow you again."
Thus they talked until midnight, and then got a little rest with the
others. They were up and off at break of day, and as they mounted higher
they began to encounter immense rocks that had come tumbling down from
"How can you talk of people escaping toward the mountains if they had to
encounter these?" demanded the President.
"Some of these rocks have undoubtedly been brought down by the
torrents," Professor Pludder replied, "but I believe that the greater
number fell earlier, during the earthquakes that accompanied the first
invasions of the sea."
"But those earthquakes may have continued all through."
"I do not think so. We have felt no trembling of the earth. I believe
that the convulsions lasted only for a brief period, while the rocks
were yielding to the pressure along the old sea-coast. After a little
the crust below adjusted itself to the new conditions. And even if the
rocks fell while people were trying to escape from the flood below, they
must, like the water, have followed the gorges and hollow places, while
the fugitives would, of course, keep upon the ridges."
Whatever perils they may have encountered, people had certainly escaped
as the professor had averred. When the party, in the middle of the day,
were seated at their lunch, on an elevated point from which they could
see far over the strange ocean that they had left behind them, while the
southern buttresses of Pike's Peak rose steeply toward the north, they
discovered the first evidence of the existence of refugees in the
mountains. This was a smoke rising over an intervening ridge, which
their new companions declared could be due to nothing less than a large
They hastened to finish their meal, and then climbed the ridge. As soon
as they were upon it they found themselves looking down into a broad,
shallow canon, where there were nearly twenty rudely constructed cabins,
with a huge fire blazing in the midst of the place, and half a dozen
red-shirted men busy about it, evidently occupied in the preparation of
the dinner of a large party.
Their friends recognized an acquaintance in one of the men below and
hailed him with delight. Instantly men, women, and children came running
out of the huts to look at them, and as they descended into this
improvised village they were received with a hospitality that was almost
The refugees consisted of persons who had escaped from the lower lands
in the immediate vicinity, and they were struck dumb when told that they
were entertaining the President of the United States and his family.
The entire history of their adventures was related on both sides. The
refugees told how, at the commencement of the great rain, when it became
evident that the water would inundate their farms and buildings, they
loaded themselves with as many provisions as they could carry, and, in
spite of the suffocating downpour that filled the air, managed to fight
their way to the ridge overhanging the deep cut in which they were now
Hardly a quarter of those who started arrived in safety. They sheltered
themselves to the number of about thirty, in a huge cavern, which faced
down the mountain, and had a slightly upward sloping floor, so that the
water did not enter. Here, by careful economy, they were able to eke out
their provisions until the sky cleared, after which the men, being used
to outdoor labor and hunting, contrived to supply the wants of the
forlorn little community.
They managed to kill a few animals, and found the bodies of others
recently killed, or drowned. Later they descended into the lowlands, as
the water ran off, and searching among the ruins of their houses found
some remnants of supplies in the cellars and about the foundations of
the barns. They were preparing to go down in a body and seek to
re-establish themselves on the sites of their old homes, when the
President's party came upon them.
The meeting with these refugees was but the first of a series of similar
encounters on the way along the eastern face of the Pike's Peak range.
In the aggregate they met several hundred survivors who had established
themselves on the site of Colorado Springs, where a large number of
houses, standing on the higher ground, had escaped.
They had been soaked with water, descending through the shattered roofs
and broken windows, and pouring into the basements and cellars. The
fugitives came from all directions, some from the caverns on the
mountains, and some from the rocks toward the north and east. A
considerable number asserted that they had found refuge in the Garden of
As near as could be estimated, about a quarter of the population
The strong points of Professor Pludder now, once more, came out
conspicuously. He proved himself an admirable organizer. He explored all
the country round, and enheartened everybody, setting them to work to
repair the damage as much as possible.
Some horses and cattle were found which, following their instincts, had
managed to escape the flood. In the houses and other buildings yet
standing a great deal of food and other supplies were discovered, so
that there was no danger of a famine. As he had anticipated, the soil
had not all been washed away from the flat land, and he advised the
inhabitants to plant quick-growing seeds at once.
He utilized the horses to send couriers in all directions, some going
even as far as Denver. Everywhere virtually the same conditions were
found--many had escaped and were alive, only needing the guidance of a
quicker intelligence, and this was supplied by the advice which the
professor instructed his envoys to spread among the people. He sought to
cheer them still more by the information that the President was among
them, and looking out for their welfare.
One thing which his couriers at last began to report to him was a cause
of surprise. They said that the level of the water was rapidly falling.
Some who had gone far toward the east declared that it had gone down
hundreds of feet. But the professor reflected that this was impossible,
because evaporation could not account for it, and he could not persuade
himself that so much water could have found its way into the interior of
He concluded that his informants had allowed their hopes to affect their
eyesight, and, strong as usual in his professional dogmas, he made no
personal examination. Besides, Professor Pludder was beginning to be
shaken in his first belief that all trouble from the nebula was at an
end. Once having been forced to accept the hypothesis that a watery
nebula had met the earth, he began to reflect that they might not be
through with it.
In any event, he deemed it wise to prepare for it if it _should_ come
back. Accordingly he advised that the population that remained should
concentrate in the stronger houses, built of stone, and that every
effort should be made to strengthen them further and to make the roofs
as solid as possible. He also directed that no houses should be occupied
that were not situated on high ground, surrounded with slopes that would
give ready flow to the water in case the deluging rain should
He had no fixed conviction that it would recommence, but he was uneasy,
owing to his reflections, and wished to be on the safe side. He sent
similar instructions as far as his horsemen could reach.
The wisdom of his doubts became manifest about two weeks after the
arrival of the President's party. Without warning the sky, which had
been perfectly blue and cloudless for a month, turned a sickly yellow.
Then mists hid the head, and in a little while the entire outline of
Pike's Peak, and after that a heavy rain began.
Terror instantly seized the people, and at first nobody ventured out of
doors. But as time went on and the rain did not assume the proportions
of the former _debacle_, although it was very heavy and continuous, hope
revived. Everybody was on the watch for a sudden clearing up.
Instead of clearing, however, the rain became very irregular, gushing at
times in torrents which were even worse than the original downpour, but
these tremendous gushes were of brief duration, so that the water had an
opportunity to run off the higher ground before the next downpour
This went on for a week, and then the people were terrified at finding
that water was pouring up through all the depressions of the land,
cutting off the highlands from Pike's Peak with an arm of the sea. It
was evident that the flood had been rapidly rising, and if it should
rise but little higher they would be caught in a trap. The inland sea,
it was clear, had now invaded the whole of Colorado to the feet of the
mountains, and was creeping up on them.
Just at this time a series of earthquakes began. They were not severe,
but were continuous. The ground cracked open in places, and some houses
were overturned, but there were no wall-shattering shocks--only a
continual and dreadful trembling, accompanied by awful subterranean
This terrible state of affairs had lasted for a day before a remarkable
discovery was made, which filled many hearts with joy, although it
seemed to puzzle Professor Pludder as much as it rejoiced him.
The new advance of the sea was arrested! There could be no question of
that, for too many had anxiously noted the points to which the water had
We have said that Professor Pludder was puzzled. He was seeking, in his
mind, a connection between the seismic tremors and the cessation of the
advance of the sea. Inasmuch as the downpour continued, the flood ought
still to rise.
He rejected as soon as it occurred to him the idea that the earth could
be drinking up the waters as fast as they fell, and that the trembling
was an accompaniment of this gigantic deglutition.
Sitting in a room with the President and other members of the party from
Washington, he remained buried in his thoughts, answering inquiries only
in monosyllables. Presently he opened his eyes very wide and a
long-drawn "A-ah!" came from his mouth. Then he sprang to his feet and
cried out, but only as if uttering a thought aloud to himself, the
"THE FATHER OF HORROR"
At the time when the President of the United States and his companions
were beginning to discover the refugees around Pike's Peak, Cosmo
Versal's Ark accompanied by the _Jules Verne_, whose commander had
decided to remain in touch with his friends, was crossing the submerged
hills and valleys of Languedoc under a sun as brilliant as that which
had once made them a land of gold.
De Beauxchamps remained aboard the Ark much of the time. Cosmo liked to
have him, with himself and Captain Arms, on the bridge, because there
they could talk freely about their plans and prospects, and the
Frenchman was a most entertaining companion.
Meanwhile, the passengers in the saloons and on the promenade decks
formed little knots and coteries for conversation, for reading, and for
mutual diversion, or strolled about from side to side, watching the
endless expanse of waters for the occasional appearance of some
inhabitant of the deep that had wandered over the new ocean's bottom.
These animals seemed to be coming to the surface to get bearings. Every
such incident reminded the spectators of what lay beneath the waves, and
led them to think and talk of the awful fate that had overwhelmed their
fellow men, until the spirits of the most careless were subdued by the
King Richard, strangely enough, had taken a liking for Amos Blank, who
was frequently asked to join the small and somewhat exclusive circle of
compatriots that continually surrounded the fallen monarch. The
billionaire and the king often leaned elbow to elbow over the rail, and
put their heads companionably together while pointing out some object on
the sea. Lord Swansdown felt painfully cut by this, but, of course, he
could offer no objection.
Finally Cosmo invited the king to come upon the bridge, from which
passengers were generally excluded, and the king insisted that Blank
should go, too. Cosmo consented, for Blank seemed to him to have become
quite a changed man, and he found him sometimes full of practical
So it happened that when Captain Arms announced that the Ark was passing
over the ancient city of Carcassonne, Cosmo, the king, De Beauxchamps,
Amos Blank, and the captain were all together on the bridge. When
Captain Arms mentioned their location, King Richard became very
thoughtful. After a time he said musingly:
"Ah! how all these names, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Languedoc, bring back
to me the memory of my namesake of olden times, Richard I. of England.
This, over which we are floating, was the land of the Troubadours, and
Richard was the very Prince of Troubadours. With all his faults England
never had a king like him!"
"Knowing your devotion to peace, which was the reason why I wished you
to be of the original company in the Ark, I am surprised to hear you say
that," said Cosmo.
"Ah!" returned the King, "But Coeur de Lion was a true Englishman, even
in his love of fighting. What would he say if he knew where England lies
to-day? What would he say if he knew the awful fate that has come upon
this fair and pleasant land, from whose poets and singers he learned the
art of minstrelsy?"
"He would say, 'Do not despair,'" replied Cosmo. "' Show the courage of
an Englishman, and fight for your race if you cannot for your country.'"
"But may not England, may not all these lands, emerge again from the
floods?" asked the king.
"Not in our time, not in our children's time," said Cosmo Versal,
thoughtfully shaking his head.
"In the remote future, yes--but I cannot tell how remote. Tibet was once
an appanage of your crown, before China taught the West what war meant,
and in Tibet you may help to found a new empire, but I must tell you
that it will not resemble the empires of the past. Democracy will be its
corner stone, and science its law."
"Then I devote myself to democracy and science," responded King Richard.
"Good! Admirable!" exclaimed Amos Blank and De Beauxchamps
simultaneously, while Captain Arms would probably have patted the king
on the back had not his attention, together with that of the others,
been distracted by a huge whale blowing almost directly in the course of
"Blessed if I ever expected to see a sight like that in these parts!"
exclaimed the captain. "This lifting the ocean up into the sky is
upsetting the order of nature. I'd as soon expect to sight a cachalot on
top of the Rocky Mountains."
"They'll be there, too, before long," said Cosmo.
"I wonder what he's looking for," continued Captain Arms. "He must have
come down from the north. He couldn't have got in through the Pyrenees
or the Sierra Nevadas. He's just navigated right over the whole country
straight down from the English Channel."
The whale sounded at the approach of the Ark, but in a little while he
was blowing again off toward the south, and then the passengers caught
sight of him, and there was great excitement.
He seemed to be of enormous size, and he sent his fountain to an
extraordinary height in the air. On he went, appearing and disappearing,
steering direct for Africa, until, with glasses, they could see his
white plume blowing on the very edge of the horizon.
Not even the reflection that they themselves were sailing over Europe
impressed some of the passengers with so vivid a sense of their
situation as the sight of this monstrous inhabitant of the ocean taking
a view of his new domain.
At night Cosmo continued the concerts and the presentation of the
Shakespearian dramas, and for an hour each afternoon he had a
"conference" in the saloon, at which Theriade and Sir Athelstone were
almost the sole performers.
Their disputes, and Cosmo's efforts to keep the peace, amused for a
while, but at length the audiences diminished until Cosmo, with his
constant companions, the Frenchman, the king, Amos Blank, the three
professors from Washington, and a few other savants were the only
But the music and the plays always drew immensely.
Joseph Smith was kept busy most of the time in Cosmo's cabin, copying
plans for the regeneration of mankind.
When they knew that they had finally left the borders of France and were
sailing above the Mediterranean Sea, it became necessary to lay their
course with considerable care. Cosmo decided that the only safe plan
would be to run south of Sardinia, and then keep along between Sicily
and Tunis, and so on toward lower Egypt.
There he intended to seek a way over the mountains north of the Sinai
peninsula into the Syrian desert, from which he could reach the ancient
valley of the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf. He would then pass down
the Arabian Sea, swing round India and Ceylon, and, by way of the Bay of
Bengal and the plains of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, approach the
Captain Arms was rather inclined to follow the Gulf of Suez and the
depression of the Red Sea, but Cosmo was afraid that they would have
difficulty in getting the Ark safely through between the Mt. Sinai peaks
and the Jebel Gharib range.
"Well, you're the commodore," said the captain at the end of the
discussion, "but hang me if I'd not rather follow a sea, where I know
the courses, than go navigating over mountains and deserts in the land
of Shinar. We'll land on top of Jerusalem yet, you'll see!"
Feeling sure of plenty of water under keel, they now made better speed
and De Beauxchamps retired into the _Jules Verne_, and detached it from
the Ark, finding that he could distance the latter easily with the
submersible running just beneath the surface of the water.
"Come up to blow, and take a look around from the bridge, once in a
while," the captain called out to him as he disappeared and the cover
closed over him. The _Jules Verne_ immediately sank out of sight.
They passed round Sardinia, and between the old African coast and
Sicily, and were approaching the Malta Channel when their attention was
drawn to a vast smoke far off toward the north.
"It's Etna in eruption," said Cosmo to the captain.
"A magnificent sight!" exclaimed King Richard, who happened to be on the
"Yes, and I'd like to see it nearer," remarked Cosmo, as a wonderful
column of smoke, as black as ink, seemed to shoot up to the very zenith.
"You'd better keep away," Captain Arms said warningly. "There's no good
comes of fooling round volcanoes in a ship."
"Oh, it's safe enough," returned Cosmo. "We can run right over the
southeastern corner of Sicily and get as near as we like. There is
nothing higher than about three thousand feet in that part of the
island, so we'll have a thousand feet to spare."
"But maybe the water has lowered."
"Not more than a foot or two," said Cosmo. "Go ahead."
The captain plainly didn't fancy the adventure, but he obeyed orders,
and the Ark's nose was turned northward, to the delight of many of the
passengers who had become greatly interested when they learned that the
tremendous smoke that they saw came from Mount Etna.
Some of them were nervous, but the more adventurous spirits heartily
applauded Cosmo Versal's design to give them a closer view of so
extraordinary a spectacle. Even from their present distance the sight
was one that might have filled them with terror if they had not already
been through adventures which had hardened their nerves. The smoke was
truly terrific in appearance.
It did not spread low over the sea, but rose in an almost vertical
column, widening out at a height of several miles, until it seemed to
canopy the whole sky toward the north.
It could be seen spinning in immense rolling masses, the outer parts of
which were turned by the sunshine to a dingy brown color, while the main
stem of the column, rising directly from the great crater, was of pitchy
An awful roaring was audible, sending a shiver through the Ark. At the
bottom of the mass of smoke, through which gleams of fire were seen to
shoot as they drew nearer, appeared the huge conical form of the
mountain, whose dark bulk still rose nearly seven thousand feet above
the sea that covered the great, beautiful, and historic island beneath
They had got within about twenty miles of the base of the mountain, when
a shout was heard by those on the bridge, and Cosmo and the captain,
looking for its source, saw the _Jules Verne_, risen to the surface a
little to starboard, and De Beauxchamps excitedly signaling to them.
They just made out the words, "Sheer off!" when the Ark, with a groaning
sound, took ground, and they were almost precipitated over the rail of
"Aground again, by ----!" exclaimed Captain Arms, instantly signaling
all astern. "I told you not to go fooling round a volcano."
"This beats me!" cried Cosmo Versal. "I wonder if the island has begun
"More likely the sea has begun to fall," growled Captain Arms.
"Do you know where we are?" asked Cosmo.
"We can't be anywhere but on the top of Monte Lauro," replied the
"But that's only three thousand feet high."
"It's exactly three thousand two hundred and thirty feet," said the
captain. "I haven't navigated the old Mediterranean a hundred times for
"But even then we should have near seven hundred and fifty feet to
spare, allowing for the draft of the Ark, and a slight subsidence of the
"Well, you haven't allowed enough, that's plain," said the captain.
"But it's impossible that the flood can have subsided more than seven
hundred feet already."
"I don't care how impossible it is--here we are! We're stuck on a
mountain-top, and if we don't leave our bones on it I'm a porpoise."
By this time the _Jules Verne_ was alongside, and De Beauxchamps shouted
"I was running twenty feet under water, keeping along with the Ark, when
my light suddenly revealed the mountain ahead. I hurried up and tried to
warn you, but it was too late."
"Can't you go down and see where we're fast?" asked Cosmo.
"Certainly; that's just what I was about to propose," replied the
Frenchman, and immediately the submersible disappeared.
After a long time, during which Cosmo succeeded in allaying the fears of
his passengers, the submersible reappeared, and De Beauxchamps made his
report. He said that the Ark was fast near the bow on a bed of shelly
He thought that by using the utmost force of the _Jules Verne_, whose
engines were very powerful, in pushing the Ark, combined with the
backing of her own engines, she might be got off.
"Hurry up, then, and get to work," cried Captain Arms. "This flood is on
the ebb, and a few hours more will find us stuck here like a ray with
his saw in a whale's back."
De Beauxchamps's plan was immediately adopted. The _Jules Verne_
descended, and pushed with all her force, while the engines of the Ark
were reversed, and within fifteen minutes they were once more afloat.
Without waiting for a suggestion from Cosmo Versal, the Frenchman
carefully inspected with his searchlight the bottom of the Ark where she
had struck, and when he came to the surface he was able to report that
no serious damage had resulted.
"There's no hole," he said, "only a slight denting of one of the plates,
which will not amount to anything."
Cosmo, however, was not content until he had made a careful inspection
by opening some of the manholes in the inner skin of the vessel. He
found no cause for anxiety, and in an hour the Ark resumed its voyage
eastward, passing over the site of ancient Syracuse.
By this time a change of the wind had sent the smoke from Etna in their
direction, and now it lay thick upon the water, and rendered it, for a
while, impossible to see twenty fathoms from the bridge.
"It's old Etna's dying salute," said Cosmo. "He won't have his head
above water much longer."
"But the flood is going down," exclaimed Captain Arms.
"Yes, and that puzzles me. There must have been an enormous absorption
of water into the interior, far greater than I ever imagined possible.
But wait until the nucleus of the nebula strikes us! In the meantime,
this lowering of the water renders it necessary for us to make haste, or
we may not get over the mountains round Suez before the downpour
As soon as they escaped from the smoke of Etna they ran full speed ahead
again, and, keeping well south of Crete, at length, one morning they
found themselves in the latitude and longitude of Alexandria.
The weather was still superb, and Cosmo was very desirous of getting a
line on the present height of the water. He thought that he could make a
fair estimate of this from the known elevation of the mountains about
Sinai. Accordingly they steered in that direction, and on the way passed
directly over the site of Cairo.
Then the thought of the pyramids came to them all, and De Beauxchamps,
who had come aboard the Ark, and who was always moved by sentimental
considerations, proposed that they should spend a few hours here, while
he descended to inspect the condition in which the flood had left those
Cosmo not only consented to this, but he even offered to be a member of
the party. The Frenchman was only too glad to have his company. Cosmo
Versal descended into the submersible after instructing Captain Arms to
hover in the neighborhood.
The passengers and crew of the Ark, with expressions of anxiety that
would have pleased their subject if he had heard them, watched the
_Jules Verne_ disappear into the depths beneath.
The submersible was gone so long that the anxiety of those aboard the
Ark deepened into alarm, and finally became almost panic. They had never
before known how much they depended upon Cosmo Versal.
He was their only reliance, their only hope. He alone had known how to
keep up their spirits, and when he had assured them, as he so often did,
that the flooding would surely recommence, they had hardly been
terrified because of their unexpressed confidence that, let come what
would, his great brain would find a way out for them.
Now he was gone, down into the depths of this awful sea, where their
imaginations pictured a thousand unheard-of perils, and perhaps they
would never see him again! Without him they knew themselves to be
helpless. Even Captain Arms almost lost his nerve.
The strong good sense of Amos Blank alone saved them from the utter
despair that began to seize upon them as hour after hour passed without
the reappearance of the _Jules Verne_.
His experience had taught him how to keep a level head in an emergency,
and how to control panics. With King Richard always at his side, he went
about among the passengers and fairly laughed them out of their fears.
Without discussing the matter at all, he convinced them, by the simple
force of his own apparent confidence, that they were worrying themselves
He was, in fact, as much alarmed as any of the others, but he never
showed it. He started a rumor, after six hours had elapsed, that Cosmo
himself had said that they would probably require ten or twelve hours
for their exploration.
Cosmo had said nothing of the kind, but Blank's prevarication had its
intended effect, and fortunately, before the lapse of another six hours,
there was news from under the sea.
And what was happening in the mysterious depths below the Ark? What had
so long detained the submersible?
The point where the descent was made had been so well chosen that the
_Jules Verne_ almost struck the apex of the Great Pyramid as it
approached the bottom. The water was somewhat muddy from the sands of
the desert, and the searchlight streamed through a yellowish medium,
recalling the "golden atmosphere" for which Egypt had been celebrated.
But, nevertheless, the light was so powerful that they could see
distinctly at a distance of several rods.
The pyramid appeared to have been but little injured, although the
tremendous tidal wave that had swept up the Nile during the invasion of
the sea before the downpour began had scooped out the sand down to the
bed-rock on all sides.
Finding nothing of particular interest in a circuit of the pyramid, they
turned in the direction of the Great Sphinx.
This, too, had been excavated to its base, and it now stood up to its
full height, and a terrible expression seemed to have come into its
Cosmo wished to get a close look at it, and they ran the submersible
into actual contact with the forepart of the gigantic statue, just under
the mighty chin.
While they paused there, gazing out of the front window of the vessel, a
bursting sound was heard, followed by a loud crash, and the _Jules
Verne_ was shaken from stem to stern. Every man of them threw himself
against the sides of the vessel, for the sound came from overhead, and
they had an instinctive notion that the roof was being crushed down upon
A second resounding crash was heard, shaking them like an earthquake,
and the little vessel rolled partly over upon its side.
"We are lost!" cried De Beauxchamps. "The Sphinx is falling upon us! We
shall be buried alive here!"
A third crash came over their heads, and the submersible seemed to sink
beneath them as if seeking to avoid the fearful blows that were rained
upon its roof.
Still, the stout curved ceiling, strongly braced within, did not yield,
although they saw, with affright, that it was bulged inward, and some of
the braces were torn from their places. But no water came in.
Stunned by the suddenness of the accident, for a few moments they did
nothing but cling to such supports as were within their reach, expecting
that another blow would either force the vessel completely over or break
the roof in.
But complete silence now reigned, and the missiles from above ceased to
strike the submersible. The searchlight continued to beam out of the
fore end of the vessel, and following its broad ray with their eyes,
they uttered one cry of mingled amazement and fear, and then stared
without a word at such a spectacle as the wildest imagination could not
The front of the Sphinx had disappeared, and the light, penetrating
beyond the place where it had stood, streamed upon the face and breast
of an enormous black figure, seated on a kind of throne, and staring
into their faces with flaming eyes which at once fascinated and
To their startled imaginations the eyes seemed to roll in their sockets,
and flashes of fire to dart from them. Their expression was menacing and
terrifying beyond belief. At the same time the aspect of the face was so
majestic that they cowered before it.
The cheekbones were high, massive, and polished until they shone in the
light; the nose and chin were powerful in their contours; and the brow
wore an intimidating frown. It seemed to the awed onlookers as if they
had sacrilegiously burst into the sanctuary of an offended god.
But, after a minute or two of stupefaction, they thought again of the
desperateness of their situation, and turned from staring at the strange
idol to consider what they should do.
The fact that no water was finding its way into the submersible somewhat
reassured them, but the question now arose whether it could be withdrawn
from its position.
They had no doubt that the front of the Sphinx, saturated by the water
after the thousands of years that it had stood there, exposed to the
desiccating influences of the sun and the desert sands, had suddenly
disintegrated, and fallen upon them, pinning their vessel fast under the
fragments of the huge head.
De Beauxchamps tried the engines and found that they had no effect in
moving the _Jules Verne_. He tried again and again by reversing to
disengage the vessel, but it would not stir. Then they debated the only
other means of escape.
"Although I have levium life-suits," said the Frenchman, "and although
the top of the _Jules Verne_ can probably be opened, for the door seems
not to have been touched, yet the instant it is removed the water will
rush in, and it will be impossible to pump out the vessel."
"Are your life-suits so arranged that they will permit of moving the
limbs?" demanded Cosmo.
"Certainly they are."
"And can they be weighted so as to remain at the bottom?"
"They are arranged for that," responded De Beauxchamps.
"And can the weights be detached by the inmates without permitting the
entrance of water?"
"It can be done, although a very little water might enter during the
"Then," said Cosmo, "let us put on the suits, open the door, take out
the ballast so that, if released, the submersible will rise to the
surface through its own buoyancy, and then see if we cannot loosen the
vessel from outside."
It was a suggestion whose boldness made even the owner and constructor
of the _Jules Verne_ stare for a moment, but evidently it was the only
possible way in which the vessel might be saved; and knowing that, in
case of failure, they could themselves float to the surface after
removing the weights from the bottom of the suits, they unanimously
decided to try Cosmo Versal's plan.
It was terribly hard work getting the ballast out of the submersible,
working as they had to do under water, which rushed in as soon as the
door was opened, and in their awkward suits, which were provided with
apparatus for renewing the supply of oxygen; but at last they succeeded.
Then they clambered outside, and labored desperately to release the
vessel from the huge fragments of stone that pinned it down. Finally,
exhausted by their efforts, and unable to make any impression, they gave
De Beauxchamps approached Cosmo and motioned to him that it was time to
ascend to the surface and leave the _Jules Verne_ to her fate. But Cosmo
signaled back that he wished first to examine more closely the strange
statue that was gazing upon them in the still unextinguished beam of the
searchlight with what they might now have regarded as a look of mockery.
The others, accordingly, waited while Cosmo Versal, greatly impeded by
his extraordinary garment, clambered up to the front of the figure.
There he saw something which redoubled his amazement.