Part 5 out of 6
On the broad breast he saw a representation of a world overwhelmed with
a deluge and encircling it was what he instantly concluded to be the
picture of a nebula. Underneath, in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, with
which Cosmo was familiar, was an inscription in letters of gold, which
could only be translated thus:
I Come Again--
At the End of Time.
"Great Heavens!" he said to himself. "It is a prophecy of the Second
[Illustration: "IT IS A PROPHECY OF THE SECOND DELUGE."]
He continued to gaze, amazed, at the figure and the inscription, until
De Beauxchamps clambered to his side and indicated to him that it was
necessary that they should ascend without further delay, showing him by
signs that the air-renewing apparatus would give out.
With a last lingering look at the figure, Cosmo imitated the others by
detaching the weights from below his feet, and a minute later they were
all shooting rapidly toward the surface of the sea, De Beauxchamps, as
he afterwards declared, uttering a prayer for the repose of the _Jules
The imaginary time which Amos Blank had fixed as the limit set by Cosmo
for the return from the depths was nearly gone, and he was beginning to
cast about for some other invention to quiet the rising fears of the
passengers, when a form became visible which made the eyes of Captain
Arms, the first to catch sight of it, start from their sockets. He
rubbed them, and looked again--but there it was!
A huge head, human in outline, with bulging, glassy eyes, popped
suddenly out of the depths, followed by the upper part of a gigantic
form which was no less suggestive of a monstrous man, and which
immediately began to wave its arms!
Before the captain could collect his senses another shot to the surface,
and then another and another, until there were seven of them floating
and awkwardly gesticulating within a radius of a hundred fathoms on the
starboard side of the vessel.
The whole series of apparitions did not occupy more than a quarter of a
minute in making their appearance.
By the time the last had sprung into sight Captain Arms had recovered
his wits, and he shouted an order to lower a boat, at the same time
running down from the bridge to superintend the operation. Many of the
crew and passengers had in the meantime seen the strange objects, and
they were thrown into a state of uncontrollable excitement.
"It's them!" shouted the captain over his shoulder, in response to a
hundred inquiries all put at once, and forgetting his grammar in the
excitement. "They've come up in diving-suits."
Amos Blank comprehended the situation at once; and while the captain was
getting out the boat, he explained matters to the crowd.
"The submersible must be lost," he said quietly, "but the men have
escaped, so there is no great harm done. It does great credit to that
Frenchman that he should have been prepared for such an emergency. Those
are levium suits, and I've no doubt that he has got hydrogen somewhere
inside to increase their buoyancy."
Within a quarter of an hour all the seven had been picked up by the
boat, and it returned to the Ark. The strange forms were lifted aboard
with tackle to save time; and as the first one reached the deck, it
staggered about on its big limbs for a moment.
Then the metallic head opened, and the features of De Beauxchamps were
Before anybody could assist him he had freed himself from the suit, and
immediately he began to aid the others. In ten minutes they all stood
safe and sound before the astonished eyes of the spectators. Cosmo had
suffered from the confinement, and he sank upon a seat, but De
Beauxchamps seemed to be the most affected. With downcast look he said,
sadly shaking his head:
"The poor _Jules Verne_! I shall never see her again."
"What has happened?" demanded Captain Arms.
"It was the Father of Horror," muttered Cosmo Versal.
"The Father of Horror--what's that?"
"Why, the Great Sphinx," returned Cosmo, gradually recovering his
breath. "Didn't you know that that was what the Arabs always called the
"It was that which fell upon the submersible--split right open and
dropped its great chin upon us as we were sailing round it, and pinned
us fast. But the sight that we saw when the Sphinx fell apart! Tell
them, De Beauxchamps."
The Frenchman took up the narrative, while, with breathless attention,
passengers and crew crowded about to listen to his tale.
"When we got to the bottom," he said, "we first inspected the Great
Pyramid, going all round it with our searchlight. It was in good
condition, although the tide that had come up the Nile with the invasion
of the sea had washed away the sands to a great depth all about. When we
had completed the circuit of the pyramid, we saw the Sphinx, which had
been excavated by the water so that it stood up to its full height.
"We ran close around it, and when we were under the chin the whole
thing, saturated by the water, which no doubt caused an expansion
within--you know how many thousand years the gigantic idol had been
"The submersible was caught by the falling mass, and partly crushed. We
labored for hours and hours to release the vessel, but there was little
that we could do. It almost broke my heart to think of leaving the
_Jules Verne_ there, but it had to be done.
"At last we put on the levium floating-suits, opened the cover at the
top, and came to the surface. The last thing I saw was the searchlight,
still burning, and illuminating the most marvelous spectacle that human
eyes ever gazed upon."
"Oh, what was it? What was it?" demanded a score of voices in chorus.
"It is impossible to describe it. It was the secret of old Egypt
revealed at last--at the end of the world!"
"But what was it like?"
"Like a glimpse into the remotest corridors of time," interposed Cosmo
Versal, with a curious look in his eyes.
"Some of you may have heard that long ago holes were driven through the
Sphinx in the hope of discovering something hidden inside, but they
missed the secret. The old god kept it well until his form fell apart.
We were pinned so close to it that we could not help seeing it, even in
the excitement of our situation.
"It had always been supposed that the Sphinx was the symbol of
something--it _was_, and more than a symbol! The explorers away back in
the nineteenth century who thought that they had found something
mysterious in the Great Pyramid went wide of the mark when they
neglected the Sphinx."
"But what did you see?"
_"We saw the prophecy of the Second Deluge,"_ said Cosmo, rising to his
feet, his piercing eyes aflame. "In the heart of the huge mass,
approachable, no doubt, by some concealed passage in the rock beneath,
known only to the priests, stood a gigantic idol, carved out of black
"It had enormous eyes of some gem that blazed in the electric beam from
the searchlight, with huge golden ears and beard, and on its breast was
a representation of a drowning world, with a great nebula sweeping over
"It might have been a history instead of a prophecy," suggested one of
the listening savants. "Perhaps it only told what had once happened."
"No," replied Cosmo, shaking his big head. "It was a prophecy. Under it,
in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, which I recognized, was an
inscription which could only be translated by the words, 'I come
again--at the end of time!'"
There was a quality in Cosmo Versal's voice which made the hearers
shudder with horror.
"Yes," he added. "It comes again! The prophecy was hidden, but science
had its means of revelation, too, if the world would but have listened
to its voice. Even without the prophecy I have saved the flower of
THE TERRIBLE NUCLEUS ARRIVES
When the company in the Ark had recovered from the astonishment produced
by the narratives of De Beauxchamps and Cosmo Versal, and particularly
the vivid description given by the latter of the strange idol concealed
in the breast of the "Father of Horror," and the inferences which he
drew concerning its prophetic character, the question again arose as to
their future course.
Captain Arms was still for undertaking to follow the trough of the Red
Sea, but Cosmo declared that this course would be doubly dangerous now
that the water had lowered and that they no longer had the _Jules Verne_
to act as a submarine scout, warning them of hidden perils.
They must now go by their own soundings, and this would be especially
dangerous in the close neighborhood of half-submerged mountains, whose
buttresses and foothills might rise suddenly out of the depths with
slopes so steep that the lead would afford no certain guidance.
It was first necessary to learn if possible the actual height of the
water, and whether it was still subsiding. It was partly for this
purpose that they had passed over Egypt instead of keeping directly on
toward the coast of lower Palestine.
But now Cosmo abandoned his purpose of taking his measurement by the aid
of Mount Sinai or some of its neighboring peaks, on account of the
dangerous character of that rugged region. If they had been furnished
with deep-sea sounding apparatus they might have made a direct
measurement of the depth in Egypt, but that was one of the few things
which Cosmo Versal had overlooked in furnishing the Ark, and such an
operation could not be undertaken.
He discovered that there was a mountain north of the Gulf of Akaba
having an elevation of 3,450 feet, and since this was 220 feet higher
than Monte Lauro, in Sicily, on which the Ark had grounded, he counted
on it as a gage which would serve his purpose.
So they passed almost directly over Suez, and about 120 miles farther
east they found the mountain they sought, rising to the west of the Wadi
el Arabia, a continuation of the depression at whose deepest point lay
the famous "Dead Sea," so often spoken of in the books of former times.
Here Cosmo was able to make a very accurate estimate from the height of
the peak above the water, and he was gratified to find that the
recession had not continued. The level of the water appeared to be
exactly the same as when they made their unfortunate excursion in the
direction of smoking Etna.
"It's all right," he said to Captain Arms. "We can get over into the
Syrian desert without much danger, although we must go slowly and
carefully until we are well past these ranges that come down from the
direction of the Dead Sea. After that I do not see that there is
anything in our way until we reach the ancient plains of Babylon."
King Richard, who was full of the history of the Crusades, as well as of
Bible narratives, wished to have the Ark turn northward, so that they
might sail over Jerusalem, and up the Valley of the Jordan within sight
of Mount Hermon and the Lebanon range.
Cosmo had had enough of that kind of adventure, while Captain Arms
declared that he would resign on the spot if there was to be any more
"fool navigating on mountain tops." But there were many persons in the
Ark who would have been very glad if King Richard's suggestion had been
The feelings of some were deeply stirred when they learned that they
were now crossing the lower end of Palestine, and that the scenes of so
many incidents in the history of Abraham, Moses, and Joshua lay buried
beneath the blue water, whose almost motionless surface was marked with
a broad trail of foaming bubbles in the wake of the immense vessel.
Cosmo greatly regretted the absence of the submersible when they were
picking their way over this perilous region, but they encountered no
real difficulty, and at length found, by celestial observations, that
they were beyond all dangers and safely arrived over the deeply
They kept on for several days toward the rising sun, and then Captain
Arms announced that the observations showed that they were over the site
This happened just at the time of the midday dinner, and over the
dessert Cosmo seized the opportunity to make a little speech, which
could be heard by all in the saloon.
"We are now arrived," he said, "over the very spot where the descendants
of Noah are said to have erected a tower, known as the Tower of Babel,
and which they intended to build so high that it would afford a secure
refuge in case there should be another deluge.
"How vain were such expectations, if they were ever entertained, is
sufficiently shown by the fact that, at this moment, the water rolls
more than three thousand feet deep over the place where they put their
tower, and before the present deluge is over it will be thirty thousand
"More than half a mile beneath our feet lie the broad plains of Chaldea,
where tradition asserts that the study of astronomy began. It was
Berosus, a Chaldean, who predicted that there would come a second
"It occurs to me, since seeing the astounding spectacle disclosed by the
falling apart of the Sphinx, that these people may have had an
infinitely more profound knowledge of the secrets of the heavens than
tradition has assigned to them.
"On the breast of the statue in the Sphinx was the figure of a crowned
man, encircled by a huge ring, and having behind him the form of a boat
containing two other human figures. The boat was represented as floating
in a flood of waters.
"Now, this corresponds exactly with figures that have been found among
the most ancient ruins in Chaldea. I regard that ring as symbolical of a
nebula enveloping the earth, and I think that the second deluge, which
we have lived to see, was foretold here thousands of years ago."
"Who foretold it first, then, the people who placed the statue in the
Sphinx, or these astronomers of Chaldea?" asked Professor Abel Able.
"I believe," Cosmo replied, "that the knowledge originated here, beneath
us, and that it was afterward conveyed to the Egyptians, who embodied it
in their great symbolical god."
"Are we to understand," demanded Professor Jeremiah Moses, "that this
figure was all that you saw on the breast of the statue, and that you
simply inferred that the ring represented a nebula?"
"Not at all," Cosmo replied. "The principal representation was that of a
world overwhelmed with a flood, and of a nebula descending upon it."
"How do you know that it was intended for a nebula?"
"Because it had the aspect of one, and it was clearly shown to be
descending from the high heavens."
"A cloud," suggested Professor Moses.
"No, not a cloud. Mark this, which is a marvel in itself: It had _the
form of a spiral nebula_. It was unmistakable."
At this point the discussion was interrupted by a call to Cosmo Versal
from Captain Arms on the bridge. He hastily left the table and ascended
to the captain's side.
He did not need to be told what to look for. Off in the north the sky
had become a solid black mass, veined with the fiercest lightning. The
pealing of the thunder came in a continuous roll, which soon grew so
loud as to shake the Ark.
"Up with the side-plates!" shouted Cosmo, setting twenty bells ringing
at once. "Close tight every opening! Screw down the port shutters!"
The crew of the Ark was, in a few seconds, running to and fro, executing
the orders that came in swift succession from the commander's bridge,
and the passengers were thrown into wild commotion. But nobody had time
to attend to them.
"It is upon us!" yelled Cosmo in the captain's ear, for the uproar had
become deafening. "The nucleus is here!"
The open promenade decks had not yet all been turned into inner
corridors when the downpour began upon the Ark. A great deal of water
found its way aboard, but the men worked with a will, as fearful for
their own safety as for that of others, and in a little while everything
had been made snug and tight.
In a short time a tremendous tempest was blowing, the wind coming from
the north, and the Ark, notwithstanding her immense breadth of beam, was
canted over to leeward at an alarming angle. On the larboard side the
waves washed to the top of the great elliptical dome and broke over it,
and their thundering blows shook the vessel to her center, causing many
to believe that she was about to founder.
The disorder was frightful. Men and women were flung about like tops,
and no one could keep his feet. Crash after crash, that could be heard
amid the howling of the storm, the battering of the waves, and the awful
roar of the deluge descending on the roof, told the fate of the
tableware and dishes that had been hastily left in the big dining
Chairs recently occupied by the passengers on what had been the
promenade decks, and from which they had so serenely, if often
sorrowfully, looked over the broad, peaceful surface of the waters, were
now darting, rolling, tumbling, and banging about, intermingled with
rugs, hats, coats, and other abandoned articles of clothing.
The pitching and rolling of the Ark were so much worse than they had
been during the first days of the cataclysm, that Cosmo became very
solicitous about his collection of animals.
He hurried down to the animal deck, and found, indeed, that things were
in a lamentable shape. The trained keepers were themselves so much at
the mercy of the storm that they had had all they could do to save
themselves from being trampled to death by the frightened beasts.
The animals had been furnished with separate pens, but during the long
continued calm the keepers, for the sake of giving their charges greater
freedom and better air, had allowed many of them to go at large in the
broad central space around which the pens were placed, and the tempest
had come so unexpectedly that there had been no time to separate them
and get them back into their lodgings.
When Cosmo descended the scene that met his eyes caused him to cry out
in dismay, but he could not have been heard if he had spoken through a
trumpet. The noise and uproar were stunning, and the spectacle was
indescribable. The keepers had taken refuge on a kind of gallery running
round the central space, and were hanging on there for their lives.
Around them, on the railings, clinging with their claws, wildly flapping
their wings, and swinging with every roll of the vessel, were all the
fowls and every winged creature in the Ark except the giant turkeys,
whose power of wing was insufficient to lift them out of the melee.
But all the four-footed beasts were rolling, tumbling, and struggling in
the open space below. With every lurch of the Ark they were swept across
the floor in an indistinguishable mass.
The elephants wisely did not attempt to get upon their feet, but allowed
themselves to slide from side to side, sometimes crushing the smaller
animals, and sometimes, in spite of all their efforts, rolling upon
their backs, with their titanic limbs swaying above them, and their
trunks wildly grasping whatever came within their reach.
The huge Californian cattle were in no better case, and the poor sheep
presented a pitiable spectacle as they were tumbled in woolly heaps from
side to side.
Strangest sight of all was that of the great Astoria turtles. They had
been pitched upon their backs and were unable to turn themselves over,
and their big carapaces served admirably for sliders.
They glided with the speed of logs in a chute, now this way, now that,
shooting like immense projectiles through the throng of struggling
beasts, cutting down those that happened to be upon their feet, and not
ending their course until they had crashed against the nearest wall.
As one of the turtles slid toward the bottom of the steps on which Cosmo
was clinging it cut under the legs of one of the giant turkeys, and the
latter, making a superphasianidaean effort, half leaped, half flapped
its way upon the steps to the side of Cosmo Versal, embracing him with
one of its stumpy wings, while its red neck and head, with bloodshot
eyes, swayed high above his bald dome.
The keepers gradually made their way round the gallery to Cosmo's side,
and he indicated to them by signs that they must quit the place with
him, and wait for a lull of the tempest before trying to do anything for
A few hours later the wind died down, and then they collected all that
remained alive of the animals in their pens and secured them as best
they could against the consequences of another period of rolling and
The experiences of the passengers had been hardly less severe, and panic
reigned throughout the Ark. After the lull came, however, some degree of
order was restored, and Cosmo had all who were in a condition to leave
their rooms assemble in the grand saloon, where he informed them of the
situation of affairs, and tried to restore their confidence. The roar on
the roof, in spite of the sound-absorbing cover which had been
re-erected, compelled him to use a trumpet.
"I do not conceal from you," he said in conclusion, "that the worst has
now arrived. I do not look for any cessation of the flood from the sky
until we shall have passed through the nucleus of the nebula. But the
Ark is a stout vessel, we are fully provisioned, and we shall get
"All your chambers have been specially padded, as you may have remarked,
and I wish you to remain in them, only issuing when summoned for
"I shall call you out whenever the condition of the sea renders it safe
for you to leave your rooms. Food will be regularly served in your
quarters, and I beg you to have perfect confidence in me and my
But the confidence which Cosmo Versal recommended to the others was
hardly shared by himself and Captain Arms. The fury of the blast which
had just left them had exceeded everything that Cosmo had anticipated,
and he saw that, in the face of such hurricanes, the Ark would be
One of his first cares was to ascertain the rate at which the downpour
was raising the level of the water. This, too, surprised him. His gages
showed, time after time, that the rainfall was at the rate of about four
inches per minute. Sometimes it amounted to as much as six!
"The central part of the nebula," he said to the captain, through the
speaking-tube which they had arranged for their intercommunications on
the bridge, "is denser than I had supposed. The condensation is
enormous, but it is irregular, and I think it very likely that it is
more rapid in the north, where the front of the globe is plunging most
directly into the nebulous mass.
"From this we should anticipate a tremendous flow southward, which may
sweep us away in that direction. This will not be a bad thing for a
while, since it is southward that we must go in order to reach the
region of the Indian Ocean. But, in order not to be carried too rapidly
that way, I think it would be the best thing to point the Ark toward the
"How am I to know anything about the points in this blackness?" growled
"You must go the best you can by the compass," said Cosmo.
Cosmo Versal, as subsequently appeared, was right in supposing that the
nucleus of the nebula was exceedingly irregular in density. The
condensation was not only much heavier in the north, but it was very
Some parts of the earth received a great deal more water from the opened
flood-gates above than others, and this difference, for some reason that
has never been entirely explained, was especially marked between the
eastern and western hemispheres.
We have already seen that when the downpour recommenced in Colorado it
was much less severe than during the first days of the flood. This
difference continued. It seems that all the denser parts of the nucleus
happened to encounter the planet on its eastern side.
This may have been partly due to the fact that as the rotating earth
moved on in its eastward motion round the sun the comparatively dense
masses of the nebula were always encountered at the times when the
eastern hemisphere was in advance. The fact, which soon became apparent
to Cosmo, that the downpour was always the most severe in the morning
hours, bears out this hypothesis.
It accords with what has been observed with respect to meteors, viz.,
that they are more abundant in the early morning. But then it must be
supposed that the condensed masses in the nebula were relatively so
small that they became successively exhausted, so to speak, before the
western hemisphere had come fairly into the line of fire.
Of course the irregularity in the arrival of the water did not, in the
end, affect the general level of the flood, which became the same all
over the globe, but it caused immense currents, as Cosmo had foreseen.
But there was one consequence which he had overlooked. The currents,
instead of sweeping the Ark continually southward, as he had
anticipated, formed a gigantic whirl, set up unquestionably by the great
ranges of the Himalayas, the Hindoo Koosh, and the Caucasus.
This tremendous maelstrom formed directly over Persia and Arabia, and,
turning in the direction of the hands of a watch, its influence extended
westward beyond the place where the Ark now was.
The consequence was that, in spite of all their efforts, Cosmo and the
captain found their vessel swept resistlessly up the course of the
valley containing the Euphrates and the Tigris.
They were unable to form an opinion of their precise location, but they
knew the general direction of the movement, and by persistent logging
got some idea of the rate of progress.
Fortunately the wind seldom blew with its first violence, but the
effects of the whirling current could be but little counteracted by the
utmost engine power of the Ark.
Day after day passed in this manner, although, owing to the density of
the rain, the difference between day and night was only perceptible by
the periodical changes from absolute blackness to a very faint
illumination when the sun was above the horizon.
The rise of the flood, which could not have been at a less rate than six
hundred feet every twenty-four hours, lifted the Ark above the level of
the mountains of Kurdistan by the time that they arrived over the upper
part of the Mesopotamian plain, and the uncertain observations which
they occasionally obtained of the location of the sun, combined with
such dead reckoning as they were able to make, finally convinced them
that they must certainly be approaching the location of the Black Sea
and the Caucasus range.
"I'll tell you what you're going to do," yelled Captain Arms. "You're
going to make a smash on old Ararat, where your predecessor, Noah, made
"_Tres bien!_" shouted De Beauxchamps, who was frequently on the bridge,
and whose Gallic spirits nothing could daunt. "That's a good omen! M.
Versal should send out one of his turkeys to spy a landing place."
They were really nearer Ararat than they imagined, and Captain Arms's
prediction narrowly missed fulfillment. Within a couple of hours after
he had spoken a dark mass suddenly loomed through the dense air directly
in their track.
Almost at the same time, and while the captain was making desperate
efforts to sheer off, the sky lightened a little, and they saw an
immense heap of rock within a hundred fathoms of the vessel.
"Ararat, by all that's good!" yelled the captain. "Sta'board! Sta'board,
I tell you! Full power ahead!"
The Ark yielded slowly to her helm, and the screws whirled madly,
driving her rapidly past the rocks, so close that they might have tossed
a biscuit upon them. The set of the current also aided them, and they
got past the danger.
"Mountain navigation again!" yelled the captain. "Here we are in a nest
of these sky-shoals! What are you going to do now?"
"It is impossible to tell," returned Cosmo, "whether this is Great or
Little Ararat. The former is over 17,000 feet high, and the latter at
least 13,000. It is now twelve days since the flooding recommenced.
"If we assume a rise of 600 feet in twenty-four hours, that makes a
total of 7,200 feet, which, added to the 3,300 that we had before, gives
10,500 feet for the present elevation. This estimate may be considerably
out of the way.
"I feel sure that both the Ararats are yet well above the water line. We
must get out of this region as quickly as possible. Luckily the swirl of
the current is now setting us eastward. We are on its northern edge. It
will carry the Ark down south of Mount Demavend, and the Elburz range,
and over the Persian plateau, and if we can escape from it, as I hope,
by getting away over Beluchistan, we can go directly over India and
skirt the southern side of the Himalayas. Then we shall be near the goal
which we have had in mind."
"Bless me!" said the captain, staring with mingled admiration and doubt
at Cosmo Versal, "if you couldn't beat old Noah round the world, and
give him half the longitude. But I'd rather _you'd_ navigate this
hooker. The ghost of Captain Sumner itself couldn't work a traverse over
"You'll do it all right," returned Cosmo, "and the next time you drop
your anchor it will probably be on the head of Mount Everest."
ROBBING THE CROWN OF THE WORLD
Now that they were going with the current instead of striving to stem
it, the Ark made much more rapid way than during the time that it was
drifting toward the Black Sea.
They averaged at least six knots, and, with the aid of the current,
could have done much better, but they thought it well to be cautious,
especially as they had so little means of guessing at their exact
location from day to day. The water was rough.
There was, most of the time, little wind, and often a large number of
the passengers assembled in the saloon.
The noise of the deluge on the roof was so much greater than it had been
at the start that it was difficult to converse, but there was plenty of
light, and they could, at least, see one another, and communicate by
signs if not very easily by the voice. Cosmo's library was well
selected, and many passed hours in reading stories of the world they
were to see no more!
King Richard and Amos Blank imitated Cosmo and the captain by furnishing
themselves with a speaking-tube, which they put alternately to their
lips and their ears, and thus held long conversations, presumably
exchanging with one another the secrets of high finance and kingly
Both of them had enough historical knowledge and sufficient imagination
to be greatly impressed by the fact that they were drifting, amidst this
terrible storm, over the vast empire that Alexander the Great had
They mused over the events of the great Macedonian's long marches
through deserts and over mountains, and the king, who loved the story of
these glories of the past, though he had cultivated peace in his own
dominions, often sighed while they recalled them to one another. Lord
Swansdown and the other Englishmen aboard seldom joined their king since
he had preferred the company of an untitled American to theirs.
The first named could not often have made a member of the party if he
had wished, for he kept his room most of the time, declaring that he had
never been so beastly seasick in his life. He thought that such an
abominable roller as the Ark should never have been permitted to go into
commission, don't you know.
On the morning of the twelfth day after they left the neighborhood of
Mount Ararat Captain Arms averred that their position must be somewhere
near longitude 69 degrees east, latitude 26 degrees north.
"Then you have worked your traverse over Beluchistan very well," said
Cosmo, "and we are now afloat above the valley of the River Indus. We
have the desert of northwestern India ahead, and from that locality we
can continue right down the course of the Ganges. In fact it would be
perfectly safe to turn northward and skirt the Himalayas within reach of
the high peaks. I think that's what I'll do."
"If you go fooling round any more peaks," shouted Captain Arms, in a
fog-horn voice, "you'll have to do your own steering! I've had enough of
that kind of navigation!"
Nevertheless when Cosmo Versal gave the order the captain turned the
prow of the Ark toward the presumable location of the great Himalayan
range, although the rebellion of his spirit showed in the erect set of
his whiskers. They were now entirely beyond the influence of the whirl
that had at first got them into trouble, and then helped them out of it,
in western Asia.
Behind the barrier of the ancient "Roof of the World" the sea was
relatively calm, although, at times, they felt the effect of currents
pouring down from the north, which had made their way through the lofty
passes from the Tibetan side.
Cosmo calculated from his estimate of the probable rate of rise of the
flood and from the direction and force of the currents that all but the
very highest of the Pamirs must already be submerged.
It was probable, he thought, that the water had attained a level of
between seventeen and eighteen thousand feet. This, as subsequent events
indicated, was undoubtedly an underestimate. The downpour in the north
must have been far greater than Cosmo thought, and the real height of
the flood was considerably in excess of what he supposed.
If they could have seen some of the gigantic peaks as they approached
the mountains in the eastern Punjab, south of Cashmere, they would have
been aware of the error.
As it was, owing to the impossibility of seeing more than a short
distance even when the light was brightest, they kept farther south than
was really necessary, and after passing, as they believed, over Delhi,
steered south by east, following substantially the course that Cosmo had
originally named along the line of the Ganges valley.
They were voyaging much slower now, and after another ten days had
passed an unexpected change came on. The downpour diminished in
severity, and at times the sun broke forth, and for an hour or two the
rain would cease entirely, although the sky had a coppery tinge, and at
night small stars were not clearly visible.
Cosmo was greatly surprised at this. He could only conclude that the
central part of the nebula had been less extensive, though more dense,
than he had estimated. It was only thirty-four days since the deluge had
recommenced, and unless present appearances were deceptive, its end
might be close at hand.
Captain Arms seized the opportunity to make celestial and solar
observations which delighted his seaman's heart, and with great glee he
informed Cosmo that they were in longitude 88 degrees 20 minutes east,
latitude 24 degrees 15 minutes north, and he would stake his reputation
as a navigator upon it.
"Almost exactly the location of Moorshedabad, in Bengal," said Cosmo,
consulting his chart. "The mighty peak of Kunchingunga is hardly more
than two hundred miles toward the north, and Mount Everest, the highest
point in the world, is within a hundred miles of that!"
"But you're not going skimming around _them_!" cried the captain with
"I shall, if the sky continues in its present condition, go as far as
Darjeeling," replied Cosmo. "Then we can turn eastward and get over
upper Burmah and so on into China. From there we can turn north again.
"I think we can manage to get into Tibet somewhere between the ranges.
It all depends upon the height of the water, and that I can ascertain
exactly by getting a close look at Kunchingunga. I would follow the line
of the Brahmaputra River if I dared, but the way is too beset with
"I think you've made a big mistake," said the captain. "Why didn't you
come directly across Russia, after first running up to the Black Sea
from the Mediterranean, and so straight into Tibet?"
"I begin to think that that's what I ought to have done," responded
Cosmo, thoughtfully, "but when we started the water was not high enough
to make me sure of that route, and after we got down into Egypt I didn't
want to run back. But I guess it would have been better."
"Better a sight than steering among these five-mile peaks," growled
Captain Arms. "How high does Darjeeling lie? I don't want to run aground
"Oh, that's perfectly safe," responded Cosmo. "Darjeeling is only about
7,350 feet above the old sea-level. I think we can go almost to the foot
of Kunchingunga without any danger."
"Well, the name sounds dangerous enough in itself," said the captain,
"but I suppose you'll have your way. Give me the bearings and we'll be
They took two days to get to the location of Darjeeling, for at times
the sky darkened and the rain came down again in tremendous torrents.
But these spells did not last more than two or three hours, and the
weather cleared between them.
As soon as they advanced beyond Darjeeling, keeping a sharp outlook for
Kunchingunga, Cosmo began to perceive the error of his calculation of
the height of the flood.
The mountain should still have projected more than three thousand feet
above the waves, allowing that the average rise during the thirty-six
days since the recommencement of the flood had been six hundred feet a
But, in fact, they did not see it at all, and thought at first that it
had been totally submerged. At last they found it, a little rocky
island, less than two hundred feet above the water, according to Cosmo's
careful measure, made from a distance of a quarter of a mile.
"This is great news for us," he exclaimed, as soon as he had completed
the work. "This will save us a long journey round. The water must now
stand at about 27,900 feet, and although there are a considerable number
of peaks in the Himalayas approaching such an elevation, there are only
three or four known to reach or exceed it, of which Kunchingunga is one.
"We can, then, run right over the roof of the world, and there we'll be,
in Tibet. Then we can determine from what side it is safest to approach
Mount Everest, for I am very desirous to get near that celebrated peak,
and, if possible, see it go under."
"But the weather isn't safe yet," objected Captain Arms. "Suppose we
should be caught in another downpour, and everything black about us! I'm
not going to navigate this ship by searchlight among mountains
twenty-eight thousand feet tall, when the best beam that ever shot from
a mirror won't show an object a hundred fathoms away."
"Very well," Cosmo replied, "we'll circle around south for a few days
and see what will happen. I think myself that it's not quite over yet.
The fact is, I hope it isn't, for now that it has gone so far, I'd like
to see the top-knot of the earth covered."
"Well, it certainly couldn't do any more harm if it got up as high as
the moon," responded the captain.
They spent four days sailing to and fro over India, and during the first
three of those days there were intermittent downpours. But the whole of
the last period of twenty-four hours was entirely without rain, and the
color of the sky changed so much that Cosmo declared he would wait no
"Everest," he said, "is only 940 feet higher than Kunchingunga, and it
may be sunk out of sight before we can get there."
"Do you think the water is still rising?" asked De Beauxchamps, while
King Richard and Amos Blank listened eagerly for the reply, for now that
the weather had cleared, the old company was all assembled on the
"Yes, slowly," said Cosmo. "There is a perceptible current from the
north which indicates that condensation is still going on there. You'll
see that it'll come extremely close to the six miles I predicted before
it's all over."
By the time they had returned to the neighborhood of the mountains the
sky had become blue, with only occasionally a passing sunshower, and
Cosmo ordered the promenades to be thrown open, and the passengers, with
great rejoicings, resumed their daily lounging and walking on deck.
It required a little effort of thought to make them realize their
situation, but when they did it grew upon them until they could not
sufficiently express their wonder.
Here they were, on an almost placid sea, with tepid airs blowing gently
in their faces, and a scorching sun overhead, whose rays had to be
shielded off, floating over the highest pinnacles of the roof of the
world, the traditional "Abode of Snow!"
All around them, beneath the rippled blue surface, lined here and there
with little white windrows of foam, stood submerged peaks, 24,000,
25,000, 26,000, 27,000, 28,000 feet in elevation! They sailed over their
summits and saw them not.
All began now to sympathize with Cosmo's desire to find Everest before
it should have disappeared with its giant brothers. Its location was
accurately known from the Indian government surveys, and Captain Arms
had every facility for finding the exact position of the Ark. They
advanced slowly toward the northwest, a hundred glasses eagerly scanning
the horizon ahead.
Finally, at noon on the third day of their search, the welcome cry of
"Land ho!" came down from the cro'nest. Captain Arms immediately set his
course for the landfall, and in the course of a little more than an hour
had it broad abeam.
"It's Everest, without question," said Cosmo. "It's the crown of the
But how strange was its appearance! A reddish-brown mass of rock, rising
abruptly out of the blue water, really a kind of crown in form, but not
more than a couple of square rods in extent, and about three feet high
at its loftiest point.
There was no snow, of course, for that had long since disappeared, owing
to the rise of temperature, and no snow would have fallen in that
latitude now, even in mid-winter, because the whole base of the
atmosphere had been lifted up nearly six miles.
Sea-level pressures were prevailing where the barometric column would
once have dropped almost to the bottom of its tube. It was all that was
left of the world!
North of them, under the all-concealing ocean, lay the mighty plateau of
Tibet; far toward the east was China, deeply buried with its 500,000,000
of inhabitants; toward the south lay India, over which they had so long
been sailing; northwestward the tremendous heights of the Pamir region
and of the Hindu-Kush were sunk beneath the sea.
"When this enormous peak was covered with snow," said Cosmo, "its height
was estimated at 29,002 feet, or almost five and three-quarter miles.
The removal of the snow has, of course, lowered it, but I think it
probable that this point, being evidently steep on all sides, and of
very small area, was so swept by the wind that the snow was never very
deep upon it.
"If we allow ten, or even twenty feet for the snow, the height of this
rock cannot be much less than 29,000 feet above the former sea-level.
But I do not dare to approach closer, because Everest had a broad
summit, and we might possibly ground upon a sharp ridge."
"And you are sure that the water is still rising?" asked De Beauxchamps
"Watch and you will see," Cosmo responded.
The Ark was kept circling very slowly within a furlong of the rocky
crown, and everybody who had a glass fixed his eyes upon it.
"The peak is certainly sinking," said De Beauxchamps at last. "I believe
it has gone down three inches in the last fifteen minutes."
"Keep your eyes fixed on some definite point," said Cosmo to the others
who were looking, "and you will easily note the rise of the water."
They watched it until nobody felt any doubt. Inch by inch the crown of
the world was going under. In an hour Cosmo's instruments showed that
the highest point had settled to a height of but two feet above the sea.
"But when will the elevation that you have predicted begin?" asked one.
"Its effects will not become evident immediately," Cosmo replied. "It
may possibly already have begun, but if so, it is masked by the
continued rise of the water."
"And how long shall we have to wait for the re-emergence of Tibet?"
"I cannot tell, but it will be a long time. But do not worry about that.
We have plenty of provisions, and the weather will continue fine after
the departure of the nebula."
They circled about until only a foot or so of the rock remained above
the reach of the gently washing waves. Suddenly struck by a happy
thought, De Beauxchamps exclaimed:
"I must have a souvenir from the crown of the disappearing world. M.
Versal, will you permit me to land upon it with one of your boats?"
De Beauxchamps's suggestion was greeted with cheers, and twenty others
immediately expressed a desire to go.
"No," said Cosmo to the eager applicants, "it is M. De Beauxchamps's
idea; let him go alone. Yes," he continued, addressing the Frenchman,
"you can have a boat, and I will send two men with you to manage it.
You'd better hurry, or there will be nothing left to land upon."
The necessary orders were quickly given, and in five minutes De
Beauxchamps, watched by envious eyes, was rapidly approaching the
disappearing rock. They saw him scramble out upon it, and they gave a
mighty cheer as he waved his hand at them.
He had taken a hammer with him, and with breathless interest they
watched him pounding and prying about the rock. They could see that he
selected the very highest point for his operations.
While he worked away, evidently filling his pockets, the interest of the
onlookers became more and more intense.
"Look out!" they presently began to shout at him, "you will be caught by
But he paid no attention, working with feverish rapidity. Suddenly the
watchers saw a little ripple break over the last speck of dry land on
the globe, and De Beauxchamps standing up to his shoe-laces in water.
Cries of dismay came from the Ark. De Beauxchamps now gave over his
work, and, with apparent reluctance, entered the boat, which was rowed
close up to the place where he was standing.
As the returning boat approached the Ark, another volley of cheers broke
forth, and the Frenchman, standing up to his full height, waved with a
triumphant air something that sparkled brilliantly in the sunshine.
"I congratulate you, M. De Beauxchamps," cried Cosmo, as the adventurer
scrambled aboard. "You have stood where no human foot has ever been
before, and I see that you have secured your souvenir of the world that
"Yes," responded De Beauxchamps exultantly, "and see what it is--a
worthy decoration for such a coronet."
He held up his prize, amid exclamations of astonishment and admiration
from those who were near enough to see it.
"The most beautiful specimen of amethyst I ever beheld!" cried a
mineralogist enthusiastically, taking it from De Beauxchamps's hand.
"What was the rock?"
"Unfortunately, I am no mineralogist," replied the Frenchman, "and I
cannot tell you, but these gems were abundant. I could have almost
filled the boat if I had had time.
"The amethyst," he added gayly, "is the traditional talisman against
intoxication, but, although these adorned her tiara, the poor old world
has drunk her fill."
"But it is only water," said Cosmo, smiling.
"Too much, at any rate," returned the Frenchman.
"I should say," continued the mineralogist, "that the rock was some
variety of syenite, from its general appearance."
"I know nothing of that," replied De Beauxchamps, "but I have the jewels
of the terrestrial queen, and," he continued gallantly, "I shall have
the pleasure of bestowing them upon the ladies."
He emptied his pockets, and found that he had enough to give every woman
aboard the Ark a specimen, with several left over for some of the men,
Cosmo, of course, being one of the recipients.
"There," said De Beauxchamps, as he handed the stone to Cosmo, "there is
a memento from the Gaurisankar."
"I beg your pardon--Mount Everest, if you please," interposed Edward
"No," responded the Frenchman stoutly, "it is the Gaurisankar. Why will
you English persist in renaming everything in the world? Gaurisankar is
the native name, and, in my opinion, far more appropriate and euphonious
This discussion was not continued, for now everybody became interested
in the movements of the Ark. Cosmo had decided that it would be safe to
approach close to the point where the last peak of the mountain had
Cautiously they drew nearer and nearer, until, looking through the
wonderfully transparent water, they caught sight of a vast precipice
descending with frightful steepness, down and down, until all was lost
in the profundity beneath.
The point on which De Beauxchamps had landed was now covered so deep
that the water had ceased to swirl about it, but lay everywhere in an
unbroken sheet, which was every moment becoming more placid and
refulgent in the sunshine.
The world was drowned at last! As they looked abroad over the convex
surface, they thought, with a shudder, that now the earth, seen from
space, was only a great, glassy ball, mirroring the sun and the stars.
But they were ignorant of what had happened far in the west!
THE FRENCHMAN'S NEW SCHEME
After the disappearance of Mt. Everest, Cosmo Versal made a careful
measurement of the depth of water on the peak, which he found to be
forty feet, and then decided to cruise eastward with the Ark, sailing
slowly, and returning after a month to see whether by that time there
would be any indications of the reappearance of land.
No part of his extraordinary theory of the deluge was more
revolutionary, or scientifically incredible, than this idea that the
continents would gradually emerge again, owing to internal stresses set
up in the crust of the earth.
This, he anticipated, would be caused by the tremendous pressure of the
water, which must be ten or twelve miles deep over the greatest
depressions of the old ocean-bottoms. He expected that geological
movements would attend the intrusion of the water into subterranean
cavities and into the heated magma under volcanic regions.
He often debated the question with the savants aboard the Ark, and,
despite their incredulity, he persisted in his opinion. He could not be
shaken, either, in his belief that the first land to emerge would be the
Himalayas, the Pamirs, and the plateau of Tibet.
"We may have to wait some years before any considerable area is
exposed," he admitted, "but it must not be forgotten that what land does
first appear above the water will lie at the existing sea-level, and
will have an oceanic climate, suitable for the rapid development of
"We have aboard all things needed for quick cultivation, and in one
season we could begin to raise crops."
"But at first," said Professor Jeremiah Moses, "only mountain tops will
emerge, and how can you expect to cultivate them?"
"There is every probability," replied Cosmo, "that even the rocks of a
mountain will be sufficiently friable after their submergence to be
readily reduced to the state of soil, especially with the aid of the
chemical agents which I have brought along, and I have no fear that I
could not, in a few weeks, make even the top of Everest fertile.
"I anticipate, in fact, that it will be on that very summit that we
shall begin the re-establishment of the race. Then, as the plateaus
below come to the surface, we can gradually descend and enlarge the
field of our operations."
"Suppose Everest should be turned into a volcano?"
"That cannot happen," said Cosmo. "A volcano is built up by the
extrusion of lava and cinders from below, and these cannot break forth
at the top of a mountain already formed, especially when that mountain
has no volcanic chimney and no crater, and Everest had neither."
"If the lowering of the flood that caused our stranding on a mountain
top in Sicily was due to the absorption of water into the interior of
the crust, why may not that occur again, and thus bring the Himalayas
into view, without any rising on their part?" demanded Professor Moses.
"I think," said Cosmo, "that all the water that could enter the crust
has already done so, during the time that the depression of level which
so surprised us was going on. Now we must wait for geologic changes,
resulting from the gradual yielding of the internal mass to the new
forces brought to bear upon it.
"As the whole earth has gained in _weight_ by the condensation of the
nebula upon it, its plastic crust will proportionally gain in _girth_ by
internal expansion, which will finally bring all the old continents to
the surface, but Asia first of all."
Whether Cosmo Versal's hypotheses were right or wrong, he always had a
reply to any objection, and the prestige which he had gained by his
disastrously correct theory about the watery nebula gave him an
advantage so enormous that nobody felt enough confidence in himself to
stand long against anything that he might advance.
Accordingly, everybody in the Ark found himself looking forward to the
re-emergence of Mount Everest almost as confidently as did their leader,
They began their waiting voyage by sailing across the plateau of Tibet
and the lofty chain of the Yung-ling Mountains out over China.
The interest of all aboard was excited to the highest degree when they
found themselves sailing over the mighty domains of the Chinese
President-Emperor, who had developed an enormous power, making him the
ruler of the whole eastern world.
He, with his half-billion or more of subjects, now reposed at the bottom
of an ocean varying from three to five or six miles in depth. Deep
beneath the Ark lay the broad and once populous valleys of the
Yangtse-Kiang and the Hoang-Ho, the "Scourge of China."
Finally they swung round northward and re-entered the region of Tibet,
seeking once more the drowned crown of the world. In the meantime Cosmo
had had the theatrical exhibitions and the concerts resumed in the
evenings, and sometimes there was music, and even dancing on the long
promenades, open to the outer air.
Let not that be a matter of surprise or blame, for the spirit of joy in
life is unconquerable, as it should be if life is worth while. So it
happened that, not infrequently, and not with any blameworthy intention,
or in any spirit of heartless forgetfulness, this remarkable company of
world-wanderers drifted, in the moonlight, above the universal watery
grave of the drowned millions, with the harmonies of stringed
instruments stealing out upon the rippling waves, and the soft sound of
swiftly shuffling feet tripping over the smooth decks.
Costake Theriade and Sir Wilfrid Athelstone resumed their stormy efforts
to talk each other down, but now even Cosmo was seldom a listener,
except when he had to interfere to keep the peace.
King Richard and Amos Blank, however, usually heard them out, but it was
evident from their expressions that they enjoyed the prospective
fisticuffs rather more than the exposition of strange scientific
Perhaps the happiest man aboard was Captain Arms. At last he could make
as many and as certain observations as he chose, and he studied the
charts of Asia until he declared that now he knew the latitude and
longitude of the mountains better than he did those of the seaports of
the old oceans.
He had not the least difficulty in finding the location of Mount Everest
again, and when he announced that they were floating over it, Cosmo
immediately prepared to make another measurement of the depth of water
on the peak. The result was hardly gratifying. He found that it had
diminished but four inches. He said to Captain Arms:
"The range is rising, but less rapidly than I hoped. Even if the present
rate should be doubled it would require five years for the emergence of
the highest point. Instead of remaining in this part of the world we
shall have an abundance of time to voyage round the earth, going
leisurely, and when we get back again perhaps there will be enough land
visible to give us a good start."
"Mr. Versal," said the captain, "you remember that you promised me that
I should drop my anchor on the head of Mount Everest if I worked a
traverse across Beluchistan."
"Certainly I remember it; and also that you were not much disposed to
undertake the task. However, you did it well, and I suppose that now you
want me to fulfill the bargain?"
"Exactly," replied the captain. "I'd just like to get a mud-hook in the
top-knot of the earth. I reckon that that'll lay over all the sea yarns
"Very well," returned Cosmo. "Try it, if you've got cable enough."
"Enough and to spare," cried the captain, "and I'll have the
Gaurisankar, as the Frenchman calls it, hooked in a jiffy."
This was an operation which called everybody to the rails to watch
it. Hundreds of eyes tried to follow the anchor as it descended
perpendicularly upon the mountain-top, nearly forty feet beneath.
Through the clear water they could dimly see the dark outline of the
summit below, and they gazed at it with wonder, and a sort of terror.
Somehow they felt that never before had they fully appreciated the awful
depths over which they had been floating. The anchor steadily dropped
until it rested on the rock.
It got a hold finally, and in a few minutes the great vessel was
swinging slowly round, held by a cable whose grasp was upon the top of
the world! When the sensation had been sufficiently enjoyed the anchor
was tripped, and the nose of the Ark was turned northwestward. Cosmo
Versal announced his intention to circumnavigate the drowned globe.
The news of what they were about to do was both welcome and saddening to
the inmates of the vessel. They wished to pass once more over the lands
where they had first seen the light, and at the same time they dreaded
the memories that such a voyage would inevitably bring back with
overwhelming force. But, at any rate, it would be better than drifting
for years over Tibet and China.
While everybody else was discussing the prospects of the new voyage, and
wondering how long it would last, Yves de Beauxchamps was concentrating
all his attention upon a new project which had sprung up in his active
mind as soon as Cosmo's intention was announced. He took Cosmo aside and
said to him:
"M. Versal, the dearest memory that I have treasured in my heart is that
of the last sight of my drowned home, my beautiful dead Paris. It may be
that the home-loving instincts of my race arouse in me a melancholy
pleasure over such a sight which would not be shared by you, of a
different blood; but if, perchance, you do share my feelings on this
subject I believe that I can promise you a similar visit to the great
metropolis where your life began, and where you executed those labors
whose result has been to preserve a remnant of humanity to repeople the
Cosmo Versal's quick intelligence instantly comprehended the Frenchman's
design, but it startled him, and apparently insuperable difficulties at
once occurred to his mind.
"M. De Beauxchamps," he responded, grasping his friend warmly by the
hand, "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your amiable
intention, and I assure you that nothing could afford me greater
satisfaction than to see once more that mighty city, even though it can
now be but an awful ruin, tenanted by no life except the terrible
creatures of the deep. But, while I foresee what your plan must be, I
can hardly conceive that its execution could be possible. You are
thinking, of course, of constructing a diving apparatus capable of
penetrating to a depth of nearly six miles in the sea. Setting aside the
question whether we could find in the stores of the Ark the materials
that would be needed, it appears to me most improbable that we could
make the apparatus of sufficient strength to withstand the pressure, and
could then cause it to sink to so great a depth, and afterward bring it
safely to the surface."
The Frenchman smiled.
"M. Versal," he replied, "I have taken the liberty to look over the
stock of materials which you have so wisely prepared for possible
repairs to the Ark and for use after the Ark lands, and I know that
among them I can find all that I shall need. You yourself know how
completely you are provided with engineering tools and machines of all
kinds. You have even an electric foundry aboard. With the aid of your
mechanical genius, and the skill of your assistants, together with that
of my own men, who are accustomed to work of this kind, I have not the
faintest doubt that I can design and construct a diving-bell, large
enough to contain a half-dozen persons, and perfectly capable of
penetrating to any depth. Of course I cannot make it of levium, but you
have a sufficient supply of herculeum steel, the strength of which is so
immense that the walls of the bell can be made to remit the pressure
even at a depth of six miles. From my previous experiments I am
confident that there will be no difficulty in sinking and afterward
raising this apparatus. It is only necessary that the mean specific
gravity of the bell shall be greater than that of the water at a given
depth, and you know that as far back as the end of the nineteenth
century your own countrymen sent down sounding apparatus more than six
miles in the Pacific Ocean, near the island of Guam."
"But the air inside the bell--" Cosmo began.
"Excuse me," interrupted De Beauxchamps, "but that air need be under no
greater pressure than at the surface. I shall know how to provide for
that. Remember the _Jules Verne_. Simply give me _carte blanche_ in this
matter, let me have the materials to work with, afford me the advantage
of your advice and assistance whenever I shall need them, and I promise
you that by the time we have arrived over the site of New York we shall
be prepared for the descent."
Cosmo was deeply impressed by the Frenchman's enthusiastic
self-confidence. He had a great admiration for the constructor of the
_Jules Verne_, and, besides, the proposed adventure was exactly after
his own heart. After meditating a while, he said heartily:
"Well, M. De Beauxchamps, I give my consent. Everything you wish shall
be at your disposal, and you can begin as soon as you choose. Only, let
the thing be kept a secret between us and the workmen who are employed.
If it should turn out a failure it would not do that the people in the
Ark should be aware of it. I can give you a working room on one of the
lower decks, where there will be no interference with your proceedings,
and no knowledge of what you are about can leak out."
"That is exactly what I should wish," returned De Beauxchamps, smiling
with delight, "and I renew my promise that you shall not be
So, without a suspicion of what was going on entering the minds of any
person in the great company outside the small company of men who were
actually employed in the work, the construction of De Beauxchamps's
great diving-bell was begun, and pushed with all possible speed,
consistent with the proper execution of the work. In the meantime the
Ark continued its course toward the west.
They ran slowly, for there was no hurry, and the Ark had now become to
its inhabitants as a house and a home--their only foothold on the whole
round earth, and that but a little floating island of buoyant metal.
They crossed the Pamirs and the Hindu-Kush, the place where the Caspian
Sea had been swallowed up in the universal ocean, and ran over Ararat,
which three months before had put them into such fearful danger, but
whose loftiest summit now lay twelve thousand feet beneath their keel.
At length, after many excursions toward the north and toward the south,
in the halcyon weather that had seldom failed since the withdrawal of
the nebula, they arrived at the place (or above it) which had stood
during centuries for a noon-mark on the globe.
It was midday when Captain Arms, having made his observations, said to
Cosmo and the others on the bridge:
"Noon at Greenwich, and noon on the Ark. Latitude, fifty-one degrees
thirty minutes. That brings you as nearly plumb over the place as you'd
be likely to hit it. Right down there lies the old observatory that set
the chronometers of the world, and kept the clocks and watches up to
King Richard turned aside upon hearing the captain's words. They brought
a too vivid picture of the great capital, six miles under their feet,
and a too poignant recollection of the disastrous escape of the royal
family from overwhelmed London seven months before.
As reckoned by the almanac, it was the 15th of September, more than
sixteen months since Cosmo had sent out his first warning to the public,
when the Ark crossed the meridian of seventy-four degrees west, in about
forty-one degrees north latitude, and the adventurers knew that New York
was once more beneath them.
There was great emotion among both passengers and crew, for the majority
of them had either dwelt in New York or been in some way associated with
its enterprises and its people, and, vain as must be the hope of seeing
any relic of the buried metropolis, every eye was on the alert.
They looked off across the boundless sea in every direction,
interrogating every suspicious object on the far horizon, and even
peering curiously into the blue abyss, as if something might suddenly
appear there which would speak to them like a voice from the past.
But they saw only shafts of sunlight running into bottomless depths, and
occasionally some oceanic creature floating lazily far below. The color
of the sea was wonderful. It had attracted their attention after the
submergence of Mount Everest, but at that time it had not yet assumed
its full splendor.
At first, no doubt, there was considerable dissolved matter in the
water, but gradually this settled, and the sea became bluer and
bluer--not the deep indigo of the old ocean, but a much lighter and more
brilliant hue--and here, over the site of New York, the waters were of a
bright, luminous sapphire, that dazzled the eye.
Cosmo declared that the change of the sea-color was undoubtedly due to
some quality in the nebula from whose condensation the water had been
produced, but neither his own analyses, nor those of the chemists aboard
the Ark, were able to detect the subtle element to whose presence the
peculiar tint was due.
But whatever it may have been, it imparted to the ocean an ethereal,
imponderous look, which was sometimes startling. There were moments when
they almost expected to see it expand back into the nebulous form and
NEW YORK IN HER OCEAN TOMB
During the long voyage from the sunken Himalayas to still deeper sunken
New York, De Beauxchamps, with his fellow-countrymen and the skilled
mechanics assigned by Cosmo Versal to aid them, had finished the
construction of the huge diving-bell. No one not in the secret had the
slightest idea of what had been done, owing to the remote situation of
the deck on which the construction was carried out.
Now, while a thousand pairs of eyes were interrogating the smooth
surface of the sea, and striving to penetrate its cerulean depths, a
great surprise was sprung upon the passengers. The rear gangway of the
lowest deck was cleared, a heavy crane-like beam was set projecting over
the water, and men began to rig a flexible cable, which had been
specially prepared for the purpose of lowering the bell into the depths,
and of raising it again when the adventurers should wish to return to
the surface. Everybody's attention was immediately attracted to these
strange preparations, and the utmost curiosity was aroused. A chorus of
wondering exclamations broke out when a metallic globe, twenty feet in
diameter, and polished until it shone like a giant thermometer bulb, was
rolled out and carefully attached to the cable by means of a strong ring
set in one side of the bell. The excitement of the passengers would soon
have become uncontrollable if Cosmo had not at this point summoned the
entire ship's company into the great saloon. As soon as all were
assembled he mounted his dais and began to speak.
"My fellow-citizens of the old world, which has perished, and of the
new, which is to take its place," he said, "we owe to the genius of M.
De Beauxchamps an apparatus which is about to enable us to inspect, by
an actual visit, the remains of the vast metropolis, which we saw in all
its majesty and beauty but so few months ago, and which now lies forever
silent at the bottom of this universal ocean.
"If it were practicable I should wish to afford to every one of you a
farewell glimpse of that mighty city, to which the hearts of so many
here are bound, but you can readily understand that that would be
impossible. Only six persons can go in this exploring bell, and they
have been chosen; but a faithful account will be brought back to you of
all that they see and learn. The adventuring company will consist of M.
De Beauxchamps, M. Pujol, his first assistant, Mr. Amos Blank, King
Richard, Professor Abel Able, and myself. Captain Arms has ascertained
the location of the center of Manhattan Island, over which we are now
floating. The quietness of the sea, the absence of any apparent current,
and the serenity of the heavens are favoring circumstances, which may be
relied upon to enable Captain Arms to keep the Ark constantly poised
almost precisely over our point of descent. It is not possible to
predict the exact duration of our absence in the depths, but it will
not, in any case, exceed about twenty hours.
"Once arrived at the bottom, nearly six miles down, we shall attach the
cable to some secure anchorage, by means of a radio-control, operated
from within the bell, and then, with the bell free, we shall make
explorations, as extensive as possible. The radio-control of which I
have spoken governs also the attachment of the cable to the bell. This
appliance has been prepared and tested with such care that we have no
doubt of its entire efficiency. I mention these things in order to
remove from your minds any fear as to the success of our enterprise.
"The bell being once detached, we shall be able to move it from point to
point by means of a pair of small propellers, which you will perceive on
the outside of the bell, and which are also controlled from within.
These will be used to increase our speed of descent. From a calculation
of the density of the sea-water at the depth to which we shall descend,
we estimate that the bell with its contents will press upon the bottom
with a gravitational force of only five pounds, so that it will move
with very slight effort, and may even, when in motion, float like a
"For the purposes of observation we have provided, on four sides of the
bell, a series of circular windows, with glass of immense thickness and
strength, but of extraordinary transparency. Through these windows we
shall be able to see in almost all directions. It was our intention to
provide wireless telephone apparatus with which we might have kept you
informed of all our doings and discoveries, but unfortunately we have
found it impracticable to utilize our control for that purpose. We
shall, however, be able to send and receive signals as long as we are
connected with the cable.
"I should add that the construction of the bell, although suggested by
M. De Beauxchamps immediately after our departure from Mount Everest,
has been carried on in secret simply because we did not wish to subject
you to the immense disappointment which you would certainly have
experienced if this brilliant conception of our gifted friend, after
being once made known to you, had proved to be a failure. Our
preparations have all been made, and within an hour we shall begin the
It is quite impossible to describe the excitement of the passengers
while they listened to this extraordinary communication. When Cosmo
Versal had finished speaking he stood for some minutes looking at his
audience with a triumphant smile. First a murmur of excited voices
arose, and then somebody proposed three cheers, which were given and
repeated until the levium dome rang with the reverberations. Nobody knew
exactly why he was cheering, but the infectious enthusiasm carried
everything before it. Then the crowd began to ask questions, addressed
not to Cosmo but to one another. The wildest suggestions were made. One
woman who had left some treasured heirlooms in a Fifth Avenue mansion
demanded of her husband that he should commission Cosmo Versal to
"I'm sure they're there," she insisted. "They were locked in the safe."
"But, don't you see," protested the poor man, "he can't get outside of
that bell to get 'em."
"I don't see _why_ he can't, if he should really try. I think it's too
mean! They were my grandmother's jewels."
"But, my dear, how could he get out?"
"Well, _how does he get in?_ What's his radio-control good for; won't
that help him? What is he going down there for if he can't do a little
thing like that, to oblige?"
She pouted at her husband because he persistently refused to present her
request to Cosmo, and declared that she would do it herself, then, for
she must have those jewels, now that they were so near.
But Cosmo was saved from this, and other equally unreasonable demands,
by a warning from De Beauxchamps that all was ready, and that no time
should be lost. Then everybody hastened out on the decks to watch the
departure of the adventurers. Many thoughtfully shook their heads,
predicting that they would never be seen again. As soon as this feeling
began to prevail the enthusiasm quickly evaporated, and efforts were
made to dissuade Cosmo and De Beauxchamps from making the attempt. But
they were deaf to all remonstrance, and pushing out of the chattering
crowd, Cosmo ordered the gangway about the bell to be cleared of all
bystanders. The opposition heated his blood a little, and he began to
bear himself with an air which recalled his aspect when he quelled and
punished the mutiny. This was enough to silence instantly every objector
to his proceedings. Henceforth they kept their thoughts to themselves,
although some muttered, under their breath such epithets as "fool" and
In about half an hour after Cosmo's speech the bell, with its hardy
explorers safely inclosed within, was lowered away, and a minute later
hundreds were craning their necks over the rails to watch the shining
globe engulf itself swiftly in the sapphire depths. It was about nine
o'clock in the morning when the descent was begun, and for a long time,
so remarkable was the transparency of the water, they could see the bell
sinking, and becoming smaller until it resembled a blue pearl. Sometimes
a metallic flash shot from its polished sides like a gleam of violet
lightning. But at length it passed from view, swallowed up in the
tremendous watery chasm.
We turn now to trace the adventures of the bell and its inmates as they
entered the awful twilight of the ocean, and, sinking deeper, passed
gradually into a profundity which the sun's most powerful rays were
unable to penetrate. Fortunately every one of the adventurers left a
description of his experiences and sensations, so that there is no lack
of authentic information to guide us.
The windows, as Cosmo had said, were so arranged that they afforded
views on all sides. These views were, of course, restricted by the
combined effects of the smallness of the windows and their great
thickness; the inmates were somewhat like prisoners looking out of round
ports cut through massive walls, but the range of view was much widened
when they placed themselves close to the glasses, because the latter
were in the form of truncated cones with the base outward.
Glancing through the ports on the upper side of the bell Cosmo and his
companions could perceive the huge form of the Ark, hanging like a cloud
above them, but rapidly receding, while from the side ports they saw
great shafts of azure sunlight, thrown into wonderful undulations by the
disturbance of the water. These soon became fainter and gradually
disappeared, but before the gloom of the depths settled about them they
were thrilled by the spectacle of sharks and other huge fishes nosing
about the outer side of the transparent cones, and sometimes opening
their jaws as if trying to seize them. Most of the cone-shaped windows
had flat surfaces, but a few were of spherical outline both without and
within, and the radius of curvature had been so calculated that these
particular windows served as huge magnifying lenses for an eye placed at
a given distance. Once or twice a marine monster happened to place
himself in the field of one of these magnifying windows, startling the
observers almost out of their senses with his frightful appearance.
There were also four windows reserved for projecting a searchlight into
the outer darkness. The inner side of the bell corresponded in curvature
with the outer, so that the adventurers had no flat flooring on any side
to stand upon, but this caused little inconvenience, since the walls
were abundantly provided with hand and foot holds, enabling the inmates
to maintain themselves in almost any position they could wish.
After a while they passed below the range of daylight, and then they
turned on the searchlight. The storage batteries which supplied energy
for the searchlight and the propellers served also to operate an
apparatus for clearing the air of carbonic acid, and De Beauxchamps had
carefully calculated the limit of time that the air could be kept in a
breathable condition. This did not exceed forty-eight hours--but as we
have seen they had no intention of remaining under water longer than
twenty hours at the utmost.
When the bell entered the night of the sea-depths they passed into an
apparently lifeless zone, where the searchlight, projected now on one
side and now on another, revealed no more of the living forms which they
had encountered above, but showed only a desert of solid transparent
water. Here, amid this awful isolation, they experienced for the first
time a feeling of dread and terror. An overpowering sense of loneliness
and helplessness came over them, and only the stout heart of Cosmo
Versal, and his reassuring words, kept the others from making the signal
which would have caused the bell to be hastily drawn back to the Ark.
"M. De Beauxchamps," said Cosmo, breaking the impressive silence, "to
what depth have we now descended?"
"A thousand fathoms," replied the Frenchman, consulting his automatic
"Good! We have been only thirty minutes in reaching this depth. We shall
sink more slowly as we get deeper, but I think we can count upon
reaching the bottom in not more than four hours from the moment of our
departure. It will require only two hours for them to draw us back again
with the powerful engines of the Ark, especially when aided by our
propellers. This will leave fourteen hours for our explorations, if we
stay out the limit that we have fixed."
There was such an air of confidence in Cosmo's manner and words that
this simple statement did much to enhearten the others.
"The absence of life in this part of the sea," Cosmo continued
cheerfully, "does not surprise me. It has long been known that the life
of the ocean is confined to regions near the surface and the bottom. We
shall certainly find plenty of wonderful creatures below."
When they knew that they must be near the bottom they turned the light
downward, and every available window was occupied by an eager watcher.
Presently a cry of "Look! Look there!" broke from several voices at
The searchlight, penetrating far through the clear water beneath the
bell, fell in a circle round a most remarkable object--tall, gaunt, and
spectral, with huge black ribs.
"Why, it's the Metropolitan tower, still standing!" cried Amos Blank.
"Who would have believed it possible?"
"No doubt there was some lucky circumstance about its anchorage,"
returned Cosmo. "Although it was built so long ago, it was made
immensely strong, and well braced, and as the water did not undermine it
at the start, it has been favored by the very density of that which now
surrounds it, and which tends to buoy it up and hold it steady. But you
observe that it has been stripped of the covering of stone."
"Would it not be well to utilize it for anchoring the cable?" asked De
"We could have nothing better," said Cosmo.
De Beauxchamps immediately called to the Ark, and directed the movements
of those in charge of the drum of the cable so nicely that the descent
ceased at the exact moment when the bell came to rest upon a group of
beams at the top of the tower. The radio-control, which is so familiar
in its thousand applications to-day, was then a new thing, having been
invented only a year or so before the deluge, and De Beauxchamps's form
of the apparatus was crude. The underlying principle, however, was the
same as that now employed--transmission through a metallic wall of
impulses capable of being turned into mechanic energy. With its aid they
had no difficulty in detaching the cable from the bell, but it required
some careful maneuvering to secure a satisfactory attachment to the
beams of the tower. At last, however, this was effected, and immediately
they set out for their exploration of drowned New York.
They began with the skeleton tower itself, which had only once or twice
been exceeded in height by the famous structures of the era of
skyscrapers. In some places they found the granite skin yet _in situ_,
but almost everywhere it had been stripped off, probably by the
tremendous waves which swept over it as the flood attained its first
thousand feet of elevation. They saw no living forms, except a few
curiously shaped phosphorescent creatures of no great size, which
scurried away out of the beam of the search-light. They saw no trace of
the millions of their fellow-beings who had been swallowed up in this
vast grave, and for this all secretly gave thanks. The soil of Madison
Square had evidently been washed away, for no signs of the trees which
had once shaded it were seen, and a reddish ooze had begun to collect
upon the exposed rocks. All around were the shattered ruins of other
great buildings, some, like the Metropolitan tower, yet retaining their
steel skeletons, others tumbled down, and lying half-buried in the ooze.
Finding nothing of great interest in this neighborhood they turned the
course of the bell northward, passing everywhere over interminable
ruins, and as soon as they began to skirt the ridge of Morningside
Heights the huge form of the cathedral of St. John fell within the
circle of projected light. It was unroofed, and some of the walls had
fallen, but some of the immense arches yet retained their upright
position. Here, for the first time, they encountered the real giants of
the submarine depths. De Beauxchamps, who had seen some of these
creatures during his visit to Paris in the _Jules Verne_, declared that
nothing which he had seen there was so terrifying as what they now
beheld. One creature, which seemed to be the unresisted master of this
kingdom of phosphorescent life, appears to have exceeded in strangeness
the utmost descriptive powers of all those who looked upon it, for their
written accounts are filled with ejaculations, and are more or less
inconsistent with one another. The reader gathers from them, however,
the general impression that it made upon their astonished minds.
The creatures were of a livid hue, and had the form of a globe, as large
as the bell itself, with a valvular opening on one side which was
evidently a mouth, surrounded with a circle of eyelike disks, projecting
shafts of self-evolved light into the water. They moved about with
surprising ease, rising and sinking at will, sometimes rolling along the
curve of an arch, emitting flashes of green fire, and occasionally
darting across the intervening spaces in pursuit of their prey, which
consisted of smaller prosphorescent animals that fled in the utmost
consternation. When the adventurers in the bell saw one of the globular
monsters seize its victim they were filled with horror. It had driven
its prey into a corner of the wrecked choir, and suddenly it flattened
itself like a rubber bulb pressed against the wall, completely covering
the creature that was to be devoured, although the effect of its
struggles could be perceived; and then, to the amazement of the
onlookers, the living globe slowly turned itself inside out, engulfing
the victim in the process.
"Great heavens," exclaimed Professor Abel Able, "it is a gigantic
_hydroid polyps!_ That is precisely the way in which those little
creatures swallow their prey; outside becomes inside, what was the
surface of the body is turned into the lining of the digestive cavity,
and every time they take a meal the process of introversion is repeated.
This monster is nothing but a huge self-sustaining maw!"
"_Tres bien_," exclaimed De Beauxchamps, with a slight laugh, "and he
finds himself in New York, quite _chez soi_."
Nobody appeared to notice the sarcasm, and, in any case they would
quickly have forgotten it, for no sooner had the tragic spectacle which
they had witnessed been finished than they suddenly found the bell
surrounded by a crowd of the globe-shaped creatures, jostling one
another, and flattening themselves against its metallic walls. They
pushed the bell about, rolling themselves all over it, and apparently
finding nothing terrifying in the searchlight, which was hardly brighter
than the phosphorescent gleams which shot from their own luminescent
organs. One of them got one of its luminous disks exactly in the field
of a magnifying window, and King Richard, who happened to have his eye
in the focus, started back with a cry of alarm.
"I cannot describe what I saw," the king wrote in his notebook. "It was
a glimpse of fiery cones, triangles, and circles, ranged in tier behind
tier with a piercing eye in the center, and the light that came from
them resembled nothing that I have ever seen. It seemed to be a _living
emanation_, and almost paralyzed me."
"We must get away from them," cried De Beauxchamps, as soon as the first
overwhelming effect of the attack upon the bell had passed. And
immediately he set the propellers at their highest speed.
The bell shook and half rolled over, there was a scurrying among the
monsters outside, and two or three of them floated away partly in
collapse, as if they had been seriously wounded by the short propeller
The direction of flight chanced to carry them past the dome of the
Columbia University Library, which was standing almost intact, and then
they floated near the monumental tomb of General Grant, which had
crowned a noble elevation overlooking the Hudson River. A portion of the
upper part of this structure had been carried away, but the larger part
remained in position. They saw no more of the globular creatures which
had haunted the ruins of the cathedral, but, instead, there appeared
around the bell an immense multitude of small luminescent animals, many
of them most beautifully formed, and emitting from their light-producing
organs various exquisite colors which turned the surrounding water into
an all-embracing rainbow.
[Illustration: "AND THEN THEY FLOATED NEAR THE MONUMENTAL TOMB OF
But a more marvelous phenomenon quickly made its appearance, causing
them to gasp with astonishment. As they drew near the dismantled dome a
brilliant gleam suddenly streamed into the ports on the side turned
toward the monument--a gush of light so bright that the air inside the
bell seemed to have been illuminated with a golden sunrise. They glanced
toward the monument, and saw that it was surmounted by some vibrating
object which seemed instinct with blinding fire. The colors that sprang
from it changed rapidly from gold to purple, and then, through
shimmering hues of bronze, to a deep rich orange. It looked like a sun,
poised on the horizon. The spectacle was so dazzling, so unexpected, so
beautiful, and, associated with the architectural memorial of one of the
greatest characters in American history, so strangely suggestive, that
even King Richard and the two Frenchmen were strongly moved, while Cosmo
and his fellow-countrymen grasped each other by the hand, and the former
said, in solemn tones:
"My friends, to my mind, this scene, however accidental, has something
of prophecy about it. It changes the current of my thought--America is
not dead; in some way she yet survives upon the earth."
Long they gazed and wondered, but at last, partly recovering from their
astonishment, at the suggestion of De Beauxchamps, they drew nearer the
monument. But when they had arrived within a few yards of it, the
blinding light disappeared as if snuffed out, and they saw nothing but
the broken gray walls of the dome. The moving object, which had been
dimly visible at the beginning, and had evidently been the source of the
light, had vanished.
"The creature that produced the illumination," said Professor Abel Able,
"has been alarmed by our approach, and has withdrawn into the interior."
This was, no doubt, the true explanation, but they could perceive no
signs of life about the place, and they finally turned away from it with
Avoiding the neighborhood of the cathedral, they steered the bell down
the former course of the Hudson, but afterward ventured once more over
the drowned city until they arrived at the site of the great station of
the Pennsylvania Railroad, which they found completely unroofed. They
sank the bell into the vast space where the tunnels entered from
underneath the old river bed, and again they had a startling experience.
Something huge, elongated, and spotted, and provided with expanding
claw-like limbs, slowly withdrew as their light streamed upon the
reddish ooze covering the great floor. The nondescript retreated
backward into the mouth of a tunnel. They endeavored, cautiously, to
follow it, turning a magnifying window in its direction, and obtaining a
startling view of glaring eyes, but the creature hastened its retreat,
and the last glimpse they had was of a grotesque head, which threw out
piercing rays of green fire as it passed deeper into the tunnel.
"This is too terrible," exclaimed King Richard, shuddering. "In Heaven's
name, let us go no farther."
"We must visit Wall Street," said Amos Blank. "We must see what the
former financial center of the world now looks like."
Accordingly they issued from the ruined station, and, resuming their
course southward, arrived at length over the great money center. The
tall buildings which had shouldered each other in that wonderful
district, turning the streets into immense gorges, had, to a certain
extent, protected one another against the effects of the waves, and the
skeletons of many were yet standing. In the midst of them the dark spire
of old Trinity still pointed stoutly upward, as if continuing its
hopeless struggle against the spirit of worldly grandeur whose aspiring
creations, though in ruins, yet dwarfed this symbol of immortality. At
the intersection of the Wall and Broad Street canons they found an
enormous steel edifice, which had been completed a short time before the
deluge, tumbled in ruins upon the classic form of the old Stock
Exchange, the main features of whose front were yet recognizable. The
weight of the fallen building had been so great that it had crushed the
roof of the treasure vaults which had occupied its ground floor, and the
fragments of safes with their contents had been hurled over the northern
expanse of Broad Street. The red ooze had covered most of the wasted
wealth there heaped up, but in places piles of gold showed through the
covering. Amos Blank became greatly excited at this. His old
proclivities seemed to resume their sway and his former madness to
return, and he buried his finger nails in his clenched palms as he
pressed his face against a window, exclaiming:
"_My gold!_ MY GOLD! Let me out of this! I must have it!"
"Nobody can get out of the bell, Mr. Blank," said Cosmo soothingly. "And
the gold is now of no use to anybody."
"I tell you," cried Blank, "that that is _my_ gold. It comes from _my_
vaults, and I _must_ get out!" And he dashed his fists wildly against
the glass until his knuckles were covered with blood. Then he sought
about for some implement with which to break the glass. They were
compelled to seize him, and a dreadful struggle followed in the
restricted space within the bell. In the midst of it Blank's face became
set, and his eyes stared wildly out of a window.
The others followed the direction of his gaze, and they were almost
frozen into statues. Close beside the bell, which had, during the
struggle, floated near to the principal heap of mingled treasure and
ruin, heavily squatted on the very summit of the pile, was such a
creature as no words could depict--of a ghastly color, bulky and
malformed, furnished with three burning eyes that turned now green, now
red with lambent flame, and great shapeless limbs, which it uplifted one
after the other, striking awkward, pawing blows at the bell! It seemed
to the horrified onlookers to be the very demon of greed defending its
spoil. Blank sank helpless on the bottom side of the bell, and the
others remained for a time petrified, and unable to speak. Suddenly the
dreadful creature, making a forward lunge from its perch, struck the
bell a mighty blow that sent it spinning in a partly upward direction.
The inmates were tumbled over one another, bruised and cut by the
projections that served for hand and foot holds. So great had been the
impact of the blow that the bell continued to revolve for several
minutes, and they could do nothing to help themselves, except to seize
the holds as they came within their grasp, and hang on for dear life.
The violent shaking up roused Blank from his trance, and he hung on
desperately with the others.
After a while the bell ceased to spin, and began to sink again toward
the bottom. De Beauxchamps, who had recovered some degree of
self-command, instantly began to operate the control governing the
propellers, and in a few minutes he had the bell moving in a fixed
"This way, this way," cried Cosmo, glancing out of the windows to orient
himself. "We have seen enough! We must get back to the cable, and return
to the Ark!"
They were terror-stricken now, and pushing the propellers to their
utmost, they fled toward the site of the Metropolitan tower. On their
way, although for a time they passed over the course of the East River,
they saw no signs of the great bridges except the partly demolished but
yet beautiful towers of the oldest of them, which had been constructed
of heavy granite blocks. They found the cable attached as they had left
it, and, although they were yet nervous from their recent experience,
they had no great difficulty in re-attaching it to the bell. Then, with
a sigh of relief, they signaled, and shouted through the telephone to
But no answer came, and there was no responsive movement of the cable!
They signaled and called again, but without result.
"My God!" said Cosmo, in a faltering voice. "Can anything have happened
to the cable?"
They looked at each other with blanched cheeks, and no man found a word
There had been great excitement on the Ark when the first communication
from the bell was received, announcing the arrival of the adventurers at
the Metropolitan tower. The news spread everywhere in a few seconds, and
the man in charge of the signaling apparatus and telephone would have
been mobbed if Captain Arms had not rigorously shut off all
communication with him, compelling the eager inquirers to be content
with such information as he himself saw fit to give them. When the
announcement was made that the bell had been cut loose, and the
exploration begun, the excitement was intensified, and a Babel of voices
resounded all over the great ship.
As hour after hour passed with no further communication from below the
anxiety of the multitude became almost unbearable. Some declared that
the adventurers would never be able to re-attach the bell to the cable,
and the fear rapidly spread that they would never be seen again. Captain
Arms strove in vain to reassure the excited passengers, but they grew
every moment more demoralized, and he was nearly driven out of his
senses by the insistent questioning to which he was subjected. It was
almost a relief to him when the lookout announced an impending change of
weather--although he well new the peril which such a change might bring.
It came on more rapidly than anybody could have anticipated. The sky, in
the middle of the afternoon, became clouded, the sun was quickly hidden,
and a cold blast arose, quickly strengthening into a regular blow. The
Ark began to drift as the rising waves assailed its vast flanks.
"Pay out the cable!" roared Captain Arms through his trumpet.
If he had not been instantly obeyed it is probable that the cable would
have been dragged from its precarious fastening below. Then he instantly
set the engines at work, and strove to turn the Ark so as to keep it
near the point of descent. At first they succeeded very well, but the
captain knew that the wind was swiftly increasing in force, and that he
could not long continue to hold his place. It was a terrible emergency,
but he proved himself equal to it.
"We must float the cable," he shouted to his first assistant. "Over with
the big buoy."
This buoy of levium had been prepared for other possible emergencies. It
was flat, presenting little surface to the wind, and when, working with
feverish speed, aided by an electric launch, they had attached the cable
to it, it sank so low that its place on the sea was indicated only by
the short mast, capped with a streamer, which rose above it.
When this work was completed a sigh of relief whistled through Captain
Arms's huge whiskers.
"May Davy Jones hold that cable tight!" he exclaimed. "Now for
navigating the Ark. If I had my old _Maria Jane_ under my feet I'd defy
Boreas himself to blow me away from here--but this whale!"
The wind increased fast, and in spite of every effort the Ark was driven
farther and farther toward the southwest, until the captain's telescope
no longer showed the least glimpse of the streamer on the buoy. Then
night came on, and yet the wind continued to blow. The captain compelled
all the passengers to go to their rooms. It would be useless to
undertake to describe the terror and despair of that night. When the sun
rose again the captain found that they had been driven seventy-five
miles from the site of New York, and yet, although the sky had now
partly cleared, the violence of the wind had not diminished.
Captain Arms had the passengers' breakfast served in their rooms, simply
sending them word that all would be well in the end. But in his secret
heart he doubted if he could find the buoy again. He feared that it
would be torn loose with the cable.
About noon the wind lulled, and at last the Ark could be effectively
driven in the direction of the buoy. But their progress was slow, and
night came on once more. During the hours of darkness the wind ceased
entirely, and the sea became calm. With the sunrise the search for the
buoy was begun in earnest. The passengers were now allowed to go upon
some of the decks, and to assemble in the grand saloon, but no
interference was permitted with the navigators of the Ark. Never had
Captain Arms so fully exhibited his qualities as a seaman.
"We'll find that porpoise if it's still afloat," he declared.
About half after eight o'clock a cry ran through the ship, bringing
everybody out on the decks.
The captain had discovered the buoy through his glass!
It lay away to the nor'ard, about a mile, and as they approached all
could see the streamer, hanging down its pole, a red streak in the
"Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!" The Ark echoed with glad cries from stem to
stern. A thousand questions were shouted at the captain on his bridge,
but he was imperturbable. He only glanced at his watch, and then said,
in an undertone, to Joseph Smith, who stood beside him:
"Forty-seven hours and twenty minutes. By the time we can get the cable
back on the drum it will be full forty-eight hours since they started,
and the air in the bell could be kept in condition no longer than that.
It may take as much as two hours more to draw it up."
"Can you do it so rapidly as that?" asked Smith, his voice trembling.
"I'll do it or bust," returned the captain. "Perhaps they may yet be
Smith turned his eyes upward and clasped his hands. The Ark was put to
its utmost speed, and within the time estimated by the captain the cable
was once more on the great drum. Before starting it the captain attached
the telephone and shouted down. There was no reply.