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The Second Deluge by Garrett P. Serviss

Part 6 out of 6

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"Start gently, and then, if she draws, drive for your lubberly lives,"
he said to the men in charge of the big donkey engine.

The moment it began to turn he inspected the indicator.

"Hurrah!" he exclaimed. "She pulls; the bell is attached."

The crowded decks broke into a cheer. In a few minutes the Ark was
vibrating with the strokes of the engine. Within five minutes the
strong, slender cable was issuing out of the depths at the rate of 250
feet a minute. But there were six miles of it! The engineer controlling
the drum shook his head.

"We may break the cable," he said.

"Go on!" shouted Captain Arms. "It's their only chance. Every second of
delay means sure death."

Within forty minutes the cable was coming up 300 feet a minute. The
speed increased as the bell rose out of the depths. It was just one hour
and forty-five minutes after the drum began to revolve when the anxious
watchers were thrown into a furore of excitement by the appearance of a
shining blue point deep beneath. It was the bell! Again there broke
forth a tempest of cheers.

Rapidly the rising bell grew larger under their eyes, until at last it
burst the surface of the sea. The engine had been skillfully slowed at
the last moment, and the rescued bell stopped at the level of the deck
open to receive it. With mad haste it was drawn aboard and the hermetic
door was opened. Those who were near enough glanced inside and turned
pale. Tumbled in a heap at the bottom lay the six men, with yellow faces
and blank, staring eyes. In an instant they were lifted out and two
doctors sprang to the side of each. Were they dead? Could any skill
revive them? A hush as of death spread over the great vessel.

They were not dead. The skill of the physicians brought them, one after
another, slowly back to consciousness. But it was two full days before
they could rise from their beds, and three before they could begin to
tell their story--the story of the wonders they had seen, and of the
dreadful struggle for breath in the imprisoned bell before they had sunk
into unconsciousness. Not a word was ever spoken about the strange
outbreak of Blank at the sight of the gold, although the others all
recorded it in their notebooks. He himself never referred to it, and it
seemed to have faded from his mind.

As soon as it was evident that the rescued men would recover, Captain
Arms, acting on his own responsibility, had started the Ark on its
westward course. It was a long and tedious journey that they had yet
before them, but the monotony was broken by the undying interest in the
marvelous story of the adventures of the bell.

Three weeks after they left the vicinity of New York, the observations
showed that they must be nearing the eastern border of the Colorado
plateau. Then one day a bird alighted on the railing of the bridge,
close beside Cosmo and Captain Arms.

"A bird!" cried Cosmo. "But it is incredible that a bird should be here!
How can it ever have kept itself afloat? It surely could not have
remained in the air all this time, and it could not have rested on the
waves during the downpour from the sky! Its presence here is absolutely

The poor bird, evidently exhausted by a long journey, remained upon the
rail, and permitted Cosmo to approach closely before taking flight to
another part of the Ark. Cosmo at first thought that it might have
escaped from his aviary below.

But close inspection satisfied him that it was of a different species
from any that he had taken into the Ark, and the more he thought of the
strangeness of its appearance here the greater was his bewilderment.

While he was puzzling over the subject the bird was seen by many of the
passengers, flitting from one part of the vessel to another, and they
were as much astonished as Cosmo had been, and all sorts of conjectures
were made to account for the little creature's escape from the flood.

But within an hour or two Cosmo and the captain, who were now much
oftener alone upon the bridge than they had been during their passage
over the eastern continents, had another, and an incomparably greater,

It was the call of "Land, ho!" from the lookout.

"Land!" exclaimed Cosmo. "Land! How can there be any land?"

Captain Arms was no less incredulous, and he called the lookout down,
accused him of having mistaken a sleeping whale for a landfall, and sent
another man aloft in his place. But in a few minutes the same call of
"Land, ho!" was repeated.

The captain got the bearings of the mysterious object this time, and the
Ark was sent for it at her highest speed. It rose steadily out of the
water until there could be no possibility of not recognizing it as the
top of a mountain.

When it had risen still higher, until its form seemed gigantic against
the horizon, Captain Arms, throwing away his tobacco with an emphatic
gesture, and striking his palm on the rail, fairly shouted:

"The Pike! By--the old Pike! There she blows!"

"Do you mean Pike's Peak?" demanded Cosmo.

"Do I mean Pike's Peak?" cried the captain, whose excitement had become
uncontrollable. "Yes, I mean Pike's Peak, and the deuce to him! Wasn't I
born at his foot? Didn't I play ball in the Garden of the Gods? And look
at him, Mr. Versal! There he stands! No water-squirting pirate of a
nebula could down the old Pike!"

The excitement of everybody else was almost equal to the captain's, when
the grand mass of the mountain, with its characteristic profile, came
into view from the promenade-decks.

De Beauxchamps, King Richard, and Amos Blank hurried to the bridge,
which they were still privileged to invade, and the two former in
particular asked questions faster than they could be answered.
Meanwhile, they were swiftly approaching the mountain.

King Richard seemed to be under the impression that they had completed
the circuit of the world ahead of time, and his first remark was to the
effect that Mount Everest appeared to be rising faster than they had

"That's none of your pagodas!" exclaimed the captain disdainfully;
"that's old Pike; and if you can find a better crown for the world, I'd
like to see it."

The king looked puzzled, and Cosmo explained that they were still near
the center of the American continent, and that the great peak before
them was the sentinel of the Rocky Mountains.

"But," replied the king, "I understood you that the whole world was
covered, and that the Himalayas would be the first to emerge."

"That's what I believed," said Cosmo, "but the facts are against me."

"So you thought you were going to run over the Rockies!" exclaimed the
captain gleefully. "They're no Gaurisankars, hey, M. De Beauxchamps?"

"_Vive les Rockies! Vive le Pike!_" cried the Frenchman, catching the
captain's enthusiasm.

"But how do you explain it?" asked King Richard.

"It's the batholite," responded Cosmo, using exactly the same phrase
that Professor Pludder had employed some months before.

"And pray explain to me what is a batholite?"

Before Cosmo Versal could reply there was a terrific crash, and the Ark,
for the third time in her brief career, had made an unexpected landing.
But this time the accident was disastrous.

All on the bridge, including Captain Arms, who should surely have known
the lay of the land about his childhood's home, had been so interested
in their talk that before they were aware of the danger the great vessel
had run her nose upon a projecting buttress of the mountain.

She was going at full speed, too. Not a person aboard but was thrown
from his feet, and several were severely injured.

The prow of the Ark was driven high upon a sloping surface of rock, and
the tearing sounds showed only too clearly that this time both bottoms
had been penetrated, and that there could be no hope of saving the huge
ship or getting her off.

Perhaps at no time in all their adventures had the passengers of the Ark
been so completely terrorized and demoralized, and many members of the
crew were in no better state. Cosmo and the captain shouted orders, and
ran down into the hold to see the extent of the damage. Water was
pouring in through the big rents in torrents.

There was plainly nothing to be done but to get everybody out of the
vessel and upon the rocks as rapidly as possible.

The forward parts of the promenade-deck directly overhung the rock upon
which the Ark had forced itself, and it was possible for many to be let
down that way. At the same time boats were set afloat, and dozens got
ashore in them.

While everybody was thus occupied with things immediately concerning
their safety, nobody paid any attention to the approach of a boat, which
had set out from a kind of bight in the face of the mountain.

Cosmo was at the head of the accommodation-ladder that was being let
down on the starboard side, when he heard a shout, and, lifting his eyes
from his work, was startled to see a boat containing, beside the rowers,
two men whom he instantly recognized--they were President Samson and
Professor Pludder.

Their sudden appearance here astonished him as much as that of Pike's
Peak itself had done. He dropped his hands and stared at them as their
boat swiftly approached. The ladder had just been got ready, and the
moment the boat touched its foot Professor Pludder mounted to the deck
of the Ark as rapidly as his great weight would permit.

He stretched out his hand as his foot met the deck, and smilingly said:

"Versal, you were right about the nebula."

"Pludder," responded Cosmo, immediately recovering his aplomb, and
taking the extended hand of the professor, "you certainly know the truth
when you see it."

Not another word was exchanged between them for the time, and Professor
Pludder instantly set to work aiding the passengers to descend the
ladder. Cosmo waved his hand in greeting to the President, who remained
in the boat, and politely lifted his tall, but sadly battered hat in

The Ark had become so firmly lodged that, after the passengers had all
got ashore, Cosmo decided to open a way through the forward end of the
vessel by removing some of the plates, so that the animals could be
taken ashore direct from their deck by simply descending a slightly
sloping gangway.

This was a work that required a whole day, and while it was going
forward under Cosmo's directions the passengers, and such of the crew as
were not needed, found their way, led by the professor and the
President, round a bluff into a kind of mountain lap, where they were
astonished to see many rough cottages, situated picturesquely among the
rocks, and small cultivated spaces, with grass and flowers, surrounding

Here dwelt some hundreds of people, who received the shipwrecked company
with Western hospitality, after the first effects of their astonishment
had worn off. It appears that, owing to its concealment by a projecting
part of the mountain, the Ark had not been seen until just at the moment
when it went ashore.

Although it was now the early part of September, the air was warm and
balmy, and barn-yard fowls were clucking and scratching about the rather
meager soil around the houses and outbuildings.

There was not room in this place for all the newcomers, but Professor
Pludder assured them that in many of the neighboring hollows, which had
formerly been mountain gorges, there were similar settlements, and that
room would be found for all.

Parties were sent off under the lead of guides, and great was the
amazement, and, it may be added, joy, with which they were received in
the little communities that clustered about the flanks of the mountain.

About half of Cosmo's animals had perished, most of them during the
terrible experiences attending the arrival of the nucleus, which have
already been described, but those that remained were in fairly good
condition, and with the possible exception of the elephants, they seemed
glad to feel solid ground once more under their feet.

The elephants had considerable difficulty in making their way over the
rocks to the little village, but finally all were got to a place of
security. The great Californian cattle caused hardly less trouble than
the elephants, but the Astorian turtles appeared to feel themselves at
home at once.

Cosmo, with King Richard, De Beauxchamps, Amos Blank, Captain Arms, and
Joseph Smith, became the guests of Professor Pludder and the President
in their modest dwellings, and as soon as a little order had been
established explanations began. Professor Pludder was the first
spokesman, the scene being the President's "parlor."

He told of their escape from Washington and of their arrival on the
Colorado plateau.

"When the storm recommenced," he said, "I recognized the complete truth
of your theory, Mr. Versal--I had partially recognized it before--and I
made every preparation for the emergency.

"The downfall, upon the whole, was not as severe here as it had been
during the earlier days of the deluge, but it must have been far more
severe elsewhere.

"The sea around us began to rise, and then suddenly the rise ceased.
After studying the matter I concluded that a batholite was rising under
this region, and that there was a chance that we might escape
submergence through its influence."

"Pardon me," interrupted King Richard, "but Mr. Versal has already
spoken of a 'batholite.' What does that mean?"

"I imagine," replied the professor, smiling, "that neither Mr. Versal
nor I have used the term in a strictly technical sense. At least we have
vastly extended and modified its meaning in order to meet the
circumstances of our case.

"Batholite is a word of the old geology, derived, from a language which
was once widely cultivated, Greek, and meaning, in substance, stone, or
rock, 'from the depths.'

"The conception underlying it is that of an immense mass of plastic rock
rising under the effects of pressure from the interior of the globe,
forcing, and in part melting its way to the surface, or lifting up the
superincumbent crust.

"Geologists had discovered the existence of many great batholites that
had risen in former ages, and there were some gigantic ones known in
this part of America."

"That," interposed Cosmo, "was the basis of my idea that the continents
would rise again, only I supposed that the rise would first manifest
itself in the Himalayan region.

"However, since it has resulted in the saving of so many lives here, I
cannot say that my disappointment goes beyond the natural mortification
of a man of science upon discovering that he has been in error."

"I believe," said Professor Pludder, "that at least a million have
survived here in the heart of the continent through the uprising of the
crust. We have made explorations in many directions, and have found that
through all the Coloradan region people have succeeded in escaping to
the heights.

"Since the water, although it began to rise again after the first arrest
of the advance of the sea, never attained a greater elevation than about
7,500 feet as measured from the old sea-level contours, there must be
millions of acres, not to say square miles, that are still habitable.

"I even hope that the uprising has extended far through the Rocky
Mountain region."

Professor Pludder then went on to tell how they had escaped from the
neighborhood of Colorado Springs when the readvance of the sea began,
and how at last it became evident that the influence of the underlying
"batholite" would save them from submergence.

In some places, he said, violent phenomena had been manifested, and
severe earthquakes had been felt, but upon the whole, he thought, not
many had perished through that cause.

As soon as some degree of confidence that they were, after all, to
escape the flood, had been established, they had begun to cultivate such
soil as they could find, and now, after months of fair weather, they had
become fairly established in their new homes.

When Cosmo, on his side, had told of the adventures of the Ark, and of
the disappearance of the crown of the world in Asia, and when De
Beauxchamps had entertained the wondering listeners with his account of
the submarine explorations of the _Jules Verne_ and the diving bell, the
company at last broke up.

From this point--the arrival of the Ark in Colorado, and its wreck on
Pike's Peak--the literature of our subject becomes abundant, but we
cannot pause to review it in detail.

The re-emergence of the Colorado mountain region continued slowly, and
without any disastrous convulsions, and the level of the water receded
year by year as the land rose, and the sea lost by evaporation into
space and by chemical absorption in the crust.

In some other parts of the Rockies, as Professor Pludder had
anticipated, an uprising had occurred, and it was finally estimated that
as many as three million persons survived the deluge.

It was not the selected band with which Cosmo Versal had intended to
regenerate mankind, but from the Ark he spread a leaven which had its
effect on the succeeding generations.

He taught his principles of eugenics, and implanted deep the germs of
science, in which he was greatly aided by Professor Pludder, and, as all
readers of this narrative know, we have every reason to believe that our
new world, although its population has not yet grown to ten millions, is
far superior, in every respect, to the old world that was drowned.

As the dry land spread wider extensive farms were developed, and for a
long time there was almost no other occupation than that of cultivating
the rich soil.

President Samson was, by unanimous vote, elected President of the
republic of New America, and King Richard became his Secretary of State,
an office, he declared, of which he was prouder than he had been of his
kingship, when the sound of the British drumbeat accompanied the sun
around the world.

Amos Blank, returning to his old methods, soon became the leading
farmer, buying out the others until the government sternly interfered
and compelled him to relinquish everything but five hundred acres of

But on this Blank developed a most surprising collection of domestic
animals, principally from the stocks that Cosmo had saved in the Ark.

The elephants died, and the Astorian turtles did not reproduce their
kind, but the gigantic turkeys and the big cattle and sheep did
exceedingly well, and many other varieties previously unknown were
gradually developed with the aid of Sir Wilfrid Athelstone, who found
every opportunity to apply his theories in practice.

Of Costake Theriade, and the inter-atomic force, it is only necessary to
remind the reader that the marvelous mechanical powers which we possess
to-day, and which we draw directly from the hidden stores of the
electrons, trace their origin to the brain of the "speculative genius"
from Roumania, whom Cosmo Versal had the insight to save from the great
second deluge.

All of these actors long ago passed from the scene, President Samson
being the last survivor, after winning by his able administration the
title of the second father of his country. But to the last he showed his
magnanimity by honoring Cosmo Versal, and upon the latter's death he
caused to be carved, high on the brow of the great mountain on which his
voyage ended, in gigantic letters, cut deep in the living rock, and
covered with shining, incorrodible levium, an inscription that will
transmit his fame to the remotest posterity:

_He Foresaw and Prepared for the Second Deluge,
And Although Nature
Aided Him in Unexpected Ways,
Yet, but for Him, His Warnings, and His Example
The World of Man Would Have Ceased
To Exist._

It would be unjust to Mr. Samson to suppose that any ironical intention
was in his mind when he composed this lofty inscription.


While these words are being written, news comes of the return of an
aero, driven by inter-atomic energy, from a voyage of exploration round
the earth.

It appears that the Alps are yet deeply buried, but that Mount Everest
now lifts its head more than ten thousand feet above the sea, and that
some of the loftiest plains of Tibet are beginning to re-emerge.

Thus Cosmo Versal's prediction is fulfilled, though he has not lived to
see it.

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