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Facing the Flag by Jules Verne

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Facing the Flag by Jules Verne

[Redactor's Note: _Facing the Flag_ {number V044 in the T&M listing of
Verne's works} is an anonymous translation of _Face au drapeau_ (1896)
first published in the U.S. by F. Tennyson Neely in 1897, and later
(circa 1903) republished from the same plates by Hurst and F.M. Lupton
(Federal Book Co.). This is a different translation from the one
published by Sampson & Low in England entitled _For the Flag_ (1897)
translated by Mrs. Cashel Hoey.]






New York








I. Healthful House

II. Count d'Artigas

III. Kidnapped

IV. The Schooner "Ebba"

V. Where am I.--(Notes by Simon Hart, the Engineer.)

VI. On Deck

VII. Two Days at Sea

VIII. Back Cup

IX. Inside Back Cup

X. Ker Karraje

XI. Five Weeks in Back Cup

XII. Engineer Serko's Advice

XIII. God Be with It

XIV. Battle Between the "Sword" and the Tug

XV. Expectation

XVI. Only a few more Hours

XVII. One against Five

XVIII. On Board the "Tonnant"





The _carte de visite_ received that day, June 15, 189-, by the
director of the establishment of Healthful House was a very neat one,
and simply bore, without escutcheon or coronet, the name:


Below this name, in a corner of the card, the following address was
written in lead pencil:

"On board the schooner _Ebba_, anchored off New-Berne, Pamlico Sound."

The capital of North Carolina--one of the forty-four states of the
Union at this epoch--is the rather important town of Raleigh, which is
about one hundred and fifty miles in the interior of the province. It
is owing to its central position that this city has become the seat
of the State legislature, for there are others that equal and
even surpass it in industrial and commercial importance, such as
Wilmington, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Edenton, Washington, Salisbury,
Tarborough, Halifax, and New-Berne. The latter town is situated on
estuary of the Neuse River, which empties itself into Pamlico Sound, a
sort of vast maritime lake protected by a natural dyke formed by the
isles and islets of the Carolina coast.

The director of Healthful House could never have imagined why the card
should have been sent to him, had it not been accompanied by a
note from the Count d'Artigas soliciting permission to visit the
establishment. The personage in question hoped that the director would
grant his request, and announced that he would present himself in the
afternoon, accompanied by Captain Spade, commander of the schooner

This desire to penetrate to the interior of the celebrated sanitarium,
then in great request by the wealthy invalids of the United States,
was natural enough on the part of a foreigner. Others who did not bear
such a high-sounding name as the Count d'Artigas had visited it, and
had been unstinting in their compliments to the director. The latter
therefore hastened to accord the authorization demanded, and added
that he would be honored to open the doors of the establishment to the
Count d'Artigas.

Healthful House, which contained a select _personnel_, and was assured
of the co-operation of the most celebrated doctors in the country, was
a private enterprise. Independent of hospitals and almshouses, but
subjected to the surveillance of the State, it comprised all the
conditions of comfort and salubrity essential to establishments of
this description designed to receive an opulent _clientele_.

It would have been difficult to find a more agreeable situation than
that of Healthful House. On the landward slope of a hill extended a
park of two hundred acres planted with the magnificent vegetation that
grows so luxuriantly in that part of North America, which is equal in
latitude to the Canary and Madeira Islands. At the furthermost limit
of the park lay the wide estuary of the Neuse, swept by the cool
breezes of Pamlico Sound and by the winds that blew from the ocean
beyond the narrow _lido_ of the coast.

Healthful House, where rich invalids were cared for under such
excellent hygienic conditions, was more generally reserved for the
treatment of chronic complaints; but the management did not decline to
admit patients affected by mental troubles, when the latter were not
of an incurable nature.

It thus happened--a circumstance that was bound to attract a good deal
of attention to Healthful House, and which perhaps was the motive
for the visit of the Count d'Artigas--that a person of world-wide
notoriety had for eighteen months been under special observation

This person was a Frenchman named Thomas Roch, forty-five years of
age. He was, beyond question, suffering from some mental malady, but
expert alienists admitted that he had not entirely lost the use of
his reasoning faculties. It was only too evident that he had lost all
notion of things as far as the ordinary acts of life were concerned;
but in regard to subjects demanding the exercise of his genius, his
sanity was unimpaired and unassailable--a fact which demonstrates how
true is the _dictum_ that genius and madness are often closely
allied! Otherwise his condition manifested itself by complete loss
of memory;--the impossibility of concentrating his attention upon
anything, lack of judgment, delirium and incoherence. He no longer
even possessed the natural animal instinct of self-preservation, and
had to be watched like an infant whom one never permits out of one's
sight. Therefore a warder was detailed to keep close watch over him
by day and by night in Pavilion No. 17, at the end of Healthful House
Park, which had been specially set apart for him.

Ordinary insanity, when it is not incurable, can only be cured by
moral means. Medicine and therapeutics are powerless, and their
inefficacy has long been recognized by specialists. Were these moral
means applicable to the case of Thomas Roch? One may be permitted
to doubt it, even amid the tranquil and salubrious surroundings of
Healthful House. As a matter of fact the very symptoms of uneasiness,
changes of temper, irritability, queer traits of character,
melancholy, apathy, and a repugnance for serious occupations were
distinctly apparent; no treatment seemed capable of curing or even
alleviating these symptoms. This was patent to all his medical

It has been justly remarked that madness is an excess of subjectivity;
that is to say, a state in which the mind accords too much to mental
labor and not enough to outward impressions. In the case of Thomas
Roch this indifference was practically absolute. He lived but within
himself, so to speak, a prey to a fixed idea which had brought him to
the condition in which we find him. Could any circumstance occur
to counteract it--to "exteriorize" him, as it were? The thing was
improbable, but it was not impossible.

It is now necessary to explain how this Frenchman came to quit France,
what motive attracted him to the United States, why the Federal
government had judged it prudent and necessary to intern him in this
sanitarium, where every utterance that unconsciously escaped him
during his crises were noted and recorded with the minutest care.

Eighteen months previously the Secretary of the Navy at Washington,
had received a demand for an audience in regard to a communication
that Thomas Roch desired to make to him.

As soon as he glanced at the name, the secretary perfectly understood
the nature of the communication and the terms which would accompany
it, and an immediate audience was unhesitatingly accorded.

Thomas Roch's notoriety was indeed such that, out of solicitude for
the interests confided to his keeping, and which he was bound to
safeguard, he could not hesitate to receive the petitioner and listen
to the proposals which the latter desired personally to submit to him.

Thomas Roch was an inventor--an inventor of genius. Several important
discoveries had brought him prominently to the notice of the
world. Thanks to him, problems that had previously remained purely
theoretical had received practical application. He occupied a
conspicuous place in the front rank of the army of science. It will be
seen how worry, deceptions, mortification, and the outrages with which
he was overwhelmed by the cynical wits of the press combined to drive
him to that degree of madness which necessitated his internment in
Healthful House.

His latest invention in war-engines bore the name of Roch's
Fulgurator. This apparatus possessed, if he was to be believed, such
superiority over all others, that the State which acquired it would
become absolute master of earth and ocean.

The deplorable difficulties inventors encounter in connection with
their inventions are only too well known, especially when they
endeavor to get them adopted by governmental commissions. Several of
the most celebrated examples are still fresh in everybody's memory.
It is useless to insist upon this point, because there are sometimes
circumstances underlying affairs of this kind upon which it is
difficult to obtain any light. In regard to Thomas Roch, however,
it is only fair to say that, as in the case of the majority of his
predecessors, his pretensions were excessive. He placed such an
exorbitant price upon his new engine that it was practicably
impossible to treat with him.

This was due to the fact--and it should not be lost sight of--that in
respect of previous inventions which had been most fruitful in result,
he had been imposed upon with the greatest audacity. Being unable
to obtain therefrom the profits which he had a right to expect, his
temper had become soured. He became suspicious, would give up nothing
without knowing just what he was doing, impose conditions that
were perhaps unacceptable, wanted his mere assertions accepted as
sufficient guarantee, and in any case asked for such a large sum of
money on account before condescending to furnish the test of practical
experiment that his overtures could not be entertained.

In the first place he had offered the fulgurator to France, and made
known the nature of it to the commission appointed to pass upon his
proposition. The fulgurator was a sort of auto-propulsive engine,
of peculiar construction, charged with an explosive composed of new
substances and which only produced its effect under the action of a
deflagrator that was also new.

When this engine, no matter in what way it was launched, exploded, not
on striking the object aimed at, but several hundred yards from it,
its action upon the atmospheric strata was so terrific that any
construction, warship or floating battery, within a zone of twelve
thousand square yards, would be blown to atoms. This was the principle
of the shell launched by the Zalinski pneumatic gun with which
experiments had already been made at that epoch, but its results were
multiplied at least a hundred-fold.

If, therefore, Thomas Roch's invention possessed this power, it
assured the offensive and defensive superiority of his native country.
But might not the inventor be exaggerating, notwithstanding that the
tests of other engines he had conceived had proved incontestably that
they were all he had claimed them to be? This, experiment could alone
show, and it was precisely here where the rub came in. Roch would
not agree to experiment until the millions at which he valued his
fulgurator had first been paid to him.

It is certain that a sort of disequilibrium had then occurred in his
mental faculties. It was felt that he was developing a condition of
mind that would gradually lead to definite madness. No government
could possibly condescend to treat with him under the conditions he

The French commission was compelled to break off all negotiations with
him, and the newspapers, even those of the Radical Opposition, had to
admit that it was difficult to follow up the affair.

In view of the excess of subjectivity which was unceasingly augmenting
in the profoundly disturbed mind of Thomas Roch, no one will be
surprised at the fact that the cord of patriotism gradually relaxed
until it ceased to vibrate. For the honor of human nature be it said
that Thomas Roch was by this time irresponsible for his actions. He
preserved his whole consciousness only in so far as subjects bearing
directly upon his invention were concerned. In this particular he had
lost nothing of his mental power. But in all that related to the most
ordinary details of existence his moral decrepitude increased daily
and deprived him of complete responsibility for his acts.

Thomas Roch's invention having been refused by the commission, steps
ought to have been taken to prevent him from offering it elsewhere.
Nothing of the kind was done, and there a great mistake was made.

The inevitable was bound to happen, and it did. Under a growing
irritability the sentiment of patriotism, which is the very essence of
the citizen--who before belonging to himself belongs to his country--
became extinct in the soul of the disappointed inventor. His thoughts
turned towards other nations. He crossed the frontier, and forgetting
the ineffaceable past, offered the fulgurator to Germany.

There, as soon as his exorbitant demands were made known, the
government refused to receive his communication. Besides, it so
happened that the military authorities were just then absorbed by the
construction of a new ballistic engine, and imagined they could afford
to ignore that of the French inventor.

As the result of this second rebuff Roch's anger became coupled with
hatred--an instinctive hatred of humanity--especially after his
_pourparlers_ with the British Admiralty came to naught. The English
being practical people, did not at first repulse Thomas Roch. They
sounded him and tried to get round him; but Roch would listen to
nothing. His secret was worth millions, and these millions he would
have, or they would not have his secret. The Admiralty at last
declined to have anything more to do with him.

It was in these conditions, when his intellectual trouble was growing
daily worse, that he made a last effort by approaching the American
Government. That was about eighteen months before this story opens.

The Americans, being even more practical than the English, did not
attempt to bargain for Roch's fulgurator, to which, in view of the
French chemist's reputation, they attached exceptional importance.
They rightly esteemed him a man of genius, and took the measures
justified by his condition, prepared to indemnify him equitably later.

As Thomas Roch gave only too visible proofs of mental alienation,
the Administration, in the very interest of his invention, judged it
prudent to sequestrate him.

As is already known, he was not confined in a lunatic asylum, but was
conveyed to Healthful House, which offered every guarantee for the
proper treatment of his malady. Yet, though the most careful attention
had been devoted to him, no improvement had manifested itself.

Thomas Roch, let it be again remarked--this point cannot be too often
insisted upon--incapable though he was of comprehending and performing
the ordinary acts and duties of life, recovered all his powers when
the field of his discoveries was touched upon. He became animated, and
spoke with the assurance of a man who knows whereof he is descanting,
and an authority that carried conviction with it. In the heat of his
eloquence he would describe the marvellous qualities of his fulgurator
and the truly extraordinary effects it caused. As to the nature of the
explosive and of the deflagrator, the elements of which the latter was
composed, their manufacture, and the way in which they were employed,
he preserved complete silence, and all attempts to worm the secret out
of him remained ineffectual. Once or twice, during the height of the
paroxysms to which he was occasionally subject, there had been reason
to believe that his secret would escape him, and every precaution had
been taken to note his slightest utterance. But Thomas Roch had
each time disappointed his watchers. If he no longer preserved the
sentiment of self-preservation, he at least knew how to preserve the
secret of his discovery.

Pavilion No. 17 was situated in the middle of a garden that was
surrounded by hedges, and here Roch was accustomed to take exercise
under the surveillance of his guardian. This guardian lived in the
same pavilion, slept in the same room with him, and kept constant
watch upon him, never leaving him for an hour. He hung upon
the lightest words uttered by the patient in the course of his
hallucinations, which generally occurred in the intermediary state
between sleeping and waking--watched and listened while he dreamed.

This guardian was known as Gaydon. Shortly after the sequestration of
Thomas Roch, having learned that an attendant speaking French fluently
was wanted, he had applied at Healthful House for the place, and had
been engaged to look after the new inmate.

In reality the alleged Gaydon was a French engineer named Simon Hart,
who for several years past had been connected with a manufactory of
chemical products in New Jersey. Simon Hart was forty years of age.
His high forehead was furrowed with the wrinkle that denoted the
thinker, and his resolute bearing denoted energy combined with
tenacity. Extremely well versed in the various questions relating to
the perfecting of modern armaments, Hart knew everything that had been
invented in the shape of explosives, of which there were over eleven
hundred at that time, and was fully able to appreciate such a man
as Thomas Roch. He firmly believed in the power of the latter's
fulgurator, and had no doubt whatever that the inventor had conceived
an engine that was capable of revolutionizing the condition of both
offensive and defensive warfare on land and sea. He was aware that the
demon of insanity had respected the man of science, and that in Roch's
partially diseased brain the flame of genius still burned brightly.
Then it occurred to him that if, during Roch's crises, his secret was
revealed, this invention of a Frenchman would be seized upon by some
other country to the detriment of France. Impelled by a spirit of
patriotism, he made up his mind to offer himself as Thomas Roch's
guardian, by passing himself off as an American thoroughly conversant
with the French language, in order that if the inventor did at any
time disclose his secret, France alone should benefit thereby. On
pretext of returning to Europe, he resigned his position at the New
Jersey manufactory, and changed his name so that none should know what
had become of him.

Thus it came to pass that Simon Hart, alias Gaydon, had been an
attendant at Healthful House for fifteen months. It required no little
courage on the part of a man of his position and education to perform
the menial and exacting duties of an insane man's attendant; but, as
has been before remarked, he was actuated by a spirit of the purest
and noblest patriotism. The idea of depriving Roch of the legitimate
benefits due to the inventor, if he succeeded in learning his secret,
never for an instant entered his mind.

He had kept the patient under the closest possible observation for
fifteen months yet had not been able to learn anything from him,
or worm out of him a single reply to his questions that was of the
slightest value. But he had become more convinced than ever of the
importance of Thomas Roch's discovery, and was extremely apprehensive
lest the partial madness of the inventor should become general, or
lest he should die during one of his paroxysms and carry his secret
with him to the grave.

This was Simon Hart's position, and this the mission to which he had
wholly devoted himself in the interest of his native country.

However, notwithstanding his deceptions and troubles, Thomas Roch's
physical health, thanks to his vigorous constitution, was not
particularly affected. A man of medium height, with a large head,
high, wide forehead, strongly-cut features, iron-gray hair and
moustache, eyes generally haggard, but which became piercing and
imperious when illuminated by his dominant idea, thin lips closely
compressed, as though to prevent the escape of a word that could
betray his secret--such was the inventor confined in one of
the pavilions of Healthful House, probably unconscious of his
sequestration, and confided to the surveillance of Simon Hart the
engineer, become Gaydon the warder.



Just who was this Count d'Artigas? A Spaniard? So his name would
appear to indicate. Yet on the stern of his schooner, in letters of
gold, was the name _Ebba_, which is of pure Norwegian origin. And had
you asked him the name of the captain of the _Ebba_, he would have
replied, Spade, and would doubtless have added that that of the
boatswain was Effrondat, and that of the ship's cook, Helim--all
singularly dissimilar and indicating very different nationalities.

Could any plausible hypothesis be deducted from the type presented by
Count d'Artigas? Not easily. If the color of his skin, his black hair,
and the easy grace of his attitude denoted a Spanish origin, the
_ensemble_ of his person showed none of the racial characteristics
peculiar to the natives of the Iberian peninsula.

He was a man of about forty-five years of age, about the average
height, and robustly constituted. With his calm and haughty demeanor
he resembled an Hindoo lord in whose blood might mingle that of some
superb type of Malay. If he was not naturally of a cold temperament,
he at least, with his imperious gestures and brevity of speech,
endeavored to make it appear that he was. As to the language usually
spoken by him and his crew, it was one of those idioms current in
the islands of the Indian Ocean and the adjacent seas. Yet when his
maritime excursions brought him to the coasts of the old or new world
he spoke English with remarkable facility, and with so slight an
accent as to scarcely betray his foreign origin.

None could have told anything about his past, nor even about his
present life, nor from what source he derived his fortune,--obviously
a large one, inasmuch as he was able to gratify his every whim and
lived in the greatest luxury whenever he visited America,--nor where
he resided when at home, nor where was the port from which his
schooner hailed, and none would have ventured to question him upon any
of these points so little disposed was he to be communicative. He was
not the kind of man to give anything away or compromise himself in the
slightest degree, even when interviewed by American reporters.

All that was known about him was what was published in the papers when
the arrival of the _Ebba_ was reported in some port, and particularly
in the ports of the east coast of the United States, where the
schooner was accustomed to put in at regular periods to lay in
provisions and stores for a lengthy voyage. She would take on board
not only flour, biscuits, preserves, fresh and dried meat, live stock,
wines, beers, and spirits, but also clothing, household utensils, and
objects of luxury--all of the finest quality and highest price, and
which were paid for either in dollars, guineas, or other coins of
various countries and denominations.

Consequently, if no one knew anything about the private life of Count
d'Artigas, he was nevertheless very well known in the various ports of
the United States from the Florida peninsula to New England.

It is therefore in no way surprising that the director of Healthful
House should have felt greatly flattered by the Count's visit, and
have received him with every mark of honor and respect.

It was the first time that the schooner _Ebba_ had dropped anchor
in the port of New-Berne, and no doubt a mere whim of her owner had
brought him to the mouth of the Neuse. Otherwise why should he have
come to such a place? Certainly not to lay in stores, for Pamlico
Sound offered neither the resources nor facilities to be found in
such ports as Boston, New York, Dover, Savannah, Wilmington in North
Carolina, and Charleston in South Carolina. What could he have
procured with his piastres and bank-notes in the small markets of
New-Berne? This chief town of Craven County contained barely six
thousand inhabitants. Its commerce consisted principally in the
exportation of grain, pigs, furniture, and naval munitions. Besides, a
few weeks previously, the schooner had loaded up for some destination
which, as usual, was unknown.

Had this enigmatical personage then come solely for the purpose of
visiting Healthful House? Very likely. There would have been nothing
surprising in the fact, seeing that the establishment enjoyed a high
and well-merited reputation.

Or perhaps the Count had been inspired by curiosity to meet Thomas
Roch? This curiosity would have been legitimate and natural enough
in view of the universal renown of the French inventor. Fancy--a mad
genius who claimed that his discoveries were destined to revolutionize
the methods of modern military art!

As he had notified the director he would do, the Count d'Artigas
presented himself in the afternoon at the door of Healthful House,
accompanied by Captain Spade, the commander of the _Ebba_.

In conformity with orders given, both were admitted and conducted to
the office of the director. The latter received his distinguished
visitor with _empressement_, placed himself at his disposal, and
intimated his intention of personally conducting him over the
establishment, not being willing to concede to anybody else the honor
of being his _cicerone_. The Count on his part was profuse in the
expression of his thanks for the considerations extended to him.

They went over the common rooms and private habitations of the
establishment, the director prattling unceasingly about the care with
which the patients were tended--much better care, if he was to be
believed, than they could possibly have had in the bosoms of their
families--and priding himself upon the results achieved, and which had
earned for the place its well-merited success.

The Count d'Artigas listened to his ceaseless chatter with apparent
interest, probably in order the better to dissemble the real motive of
his visit. However, after going the rounds for an hour he ventured to

"Have you not among your patients, sir, one anent whom there was a
great deal of talk some time ago, and whose presence here contributed
in no small measure to attract public attention to Healthful House?"

"You refer to Thomas Roch, I presume, Count?" queried the director.

"Precisely--that Frenchman--that inventor--whose mental condition is
said to be very precarious."

"Very precarious, Count, and happily so, perhaps! In my opinion
humanity has nothing to gain by his discoveries, the application of
which would increase the already too numerous means of destruction."

"You speak wisely, sir, and I entirely agree with you. Real progress
does not lie in that direction, and I regard as inimical to society
all those who seek to follow it. But has this inventor entirely lost
the use of his intellectual faculties?"

"Entirely, no; save as regards the ordinary things of life. In this
respect he no longer possesses either comprehension or responsibility.
His genius as an inventor, however, remains intact; it has survived
his moral degeneracy, and, had his insensate demands been complied
with, I have no doubt he would have produced a new war engine--which
the world can get along very well without."

"Very well without, as you say, sir," re-echoed the Count d'Artigas,
and Captain Spade nodded approval.

"But you will be able to judge for yourself, Count, for here is the
pavilion occupied by Thomas Roch. If his confinement is well justified
from the point of view of public security he is none the less treated
with all the consideration due to him and the attention which his
condition necessitates. Besides, Healthful House is beyond the reach
of indiscreet persons who might...."

The director completed the phrase with a significant motion of
his head--which brought an imperceptible smile to the lips of the

"But," asked the Count, "is Thomas Roch never left alone?"

"Never, Count, never. He has a permanent attendant in whom we have
implicit confidence, who speaks his language and keeps the closest
possible watch upon him. If in some way or other some indication
relative to his discovery were to escape him, it would be immediately
noted down and its value would be passed upon by those competent to

Here the Count d'Artigas stole a rapid and meaning glance at Captain
Spade, who responded with a gesture which said plainly enough: "I
understand." And had any one observed the captain during the visit,
they could not have failed to remark that he examined with the
greatest minuteness that portion of the park surrounding Pavilion No.
17, and the different paths leading to the latter--probably in view of
some prearranged scheme.

The garden of the pavilion was near the high wall surrounding the
property, from the foot of which on the other side the hill sloped
gently to the right bank of the Neuse.

The pavilion itself was a one-story building surmounted by a terrace
in the Italian style. It contained two rooms and an ante-room with
strongly-barred windows. On each side and in rear of the habitation
were clusters of fine trees, which were then in full leaf. In front
was a cool, green velvety lawn, ornamented with shrubs and brilliantly
tinted flowers. The whole garden extended over about half an acre, and
was reserved exclusively for the use of Thomas Roch, who was free to
wander about it at pleasure under the surveillance of his guardian.

When the Count d'Artigas, Captain Spade, and the director entered the
garden, the first person they saw was the warder Gaydon, standing
at the door of the pavilion. Unnoticed by the director the Count
d'Artigas eyed the attendant with singular persistence.

It was not the first time that strangers had come to see the occupant
of Pavilion No. 17, for the French inventor was justly regarded as the
most interesting inmate of Healthful House. Nevertheless, Gaydon's
attention was attracted by the originality of the type presented by
the two visitors, of whose nationality he was ignorant. If the name
of the Count d'Artigas was not unfamiliar to him, he had never had
occasion to meet that wealthy gentleman during the latter's sojourn in
the eastern ports. He therefore had no idea as to who the Count was.
Neither was he aware that the schooner _Ebba_ was then anchored at the
entrance to the Neuse, at the foot of the hill upon which Healthful
House was situated.

"Gaydon," demanded the director, "where is Thomas Roch?"

"Yonder," replied the warder, pointing to a man who was walking
meditatively under the trees in rear of the pavilion.

"The Count d'Artigas has been authorized to visit Healthful House,"
the director explained; "and does not wish to go away without having
seen Thomas Roch, who was lately the subject of a good deal too much

"And who would be talked about a great deal more," added the Count,
"had the Federal Government not taken the precaution to confine him in
this establishment."

"A necessary precaution, Count."

"Necessary, as you observe, Mr. Director. It is better for the peace
of the world that his secret should die with him."

After having glanced at the Count d'Artigas, Gaydon had not uttered a
word; but preceding the two strangers he walked towards the clump of
trees where the inventor was pacing back and forth.

Thomas Roch paid no attention to them. He appeared to be oblivious of
their presence.

Meanwhile, Captain Spade, while being careful not to excite suspicion,
had been minutely examining the immediate surroundings of the pavilion
and the end of the park in which it was situated. From the top of the
sloping alleys he could easily distinguish the peak of a mast which
showed above the wall of the park. He recognized the peak at a glance
as being that of the _Ella_, and knew therefore that the wall at this
part skirted the right bank of the Neuse.

The Count d'Artigas' whole attention was concentrated upon the French
inventor. The latter's health appeared to have suffered in no way
from his eighteen months' confinement; but his queer attitude, his
incoherent gestures, his haggard eye, and his indifference to what was
passing around him testified only too plainly to the degeneration of
his mental faculties.

At length Thomas Roch dropped into a seat and with the end of a switch
traced in the sand of the alley the outline of a fortification. Then
kneeling down he made a number of little mounds that were evidently
intended to represent bastions. He next plucked some leaves from a
neighboring tree and stuck them in the mounds like so many tiny
flags. All this was done with the utmost seriousness and without any
attention whatever being paid to the onlookers.

It was the amusement of a child, but a child would have lacked this
characteristic gravity.

"Is he then absolutely mad?" demanded the Count d'Artigas, who
in spite of his habitual impassibility appeared to be somewhat

"I warned you, Count, that nothing could be obtained from him."

"Couldn't he at least pay some attention to us?"

"It would perhaps be difficult to induce him to do so."

Then turning to the attendant:

"Speak to him, Gaydon. Perhaps he will answer you."

"Oh! he'll answer me right enough, sir, never fear," replied Gaydon.

He went up to the inventor and touching him on the shoulder, said
gently: "Thomas Roch!"

The latter raised his head, and of the persons present he doubtless
saw but his keeper, though Captain Spade had come up and all formed a
circle about him.

"Thomas Roch," continued Gaydon, speaking in English, "here are some
visitors to see you. They are interested in your health--in your

The last word alone seemed to rouse him from his indifference.

"My work?" he replied, also in English, which he spoke like a native.

Then taking a pebble between his index finger and bent thumb, as a
boy plays at marbles, he projected it against one of the little
sand-heaps. It scattered, and he jumped for joy.

"Blown to pieces! The bastion is blown to pieces! My explosive has
destroyed everything at one blow!" he shouted, the light of triumph
flashing in his eyes.

"You see," said the director, addressing the Count d'Artigas. "The
idea of his invention never leaves him."

"And it will die with him," affirmed the attendant.

"Couldn't you, Gaydon, get him to talk about his fulgurator?" asked
his chief.

"I will try, if you order me to do so, sir."

"Well, I do order you, for I think it might interest the Count

"Certainly," assented the Count, whose physiognomy betrayed no sign of
the sentiments which were agitating him.

"I ought to warn you that I risk bringing on another fit," observed

"You can drop the conversation when you consider it prudent. Tell
Thomas Roch that a foreigner wishes to negotiate with him for the
purchase of his fulgurator."

"But are you not afraid he may give his secret away?" questioned the

He spoke with such vivacity that Gaydon could not restrain a glance of
distrust, which, however, did not appear to disturb the equanimity of
that impenetrable nobleman.

"No fear of that," said the warder. "No promise would induce him to
divulge his secret. Until the millions he demands are counted into his
hand he will remain as mute as a stone."

"I don't happen to be carrying those millions about me," remarked the
Count quietly.

Gaydon again touched Roch on the shoulder and repeated:

"Thomas Roch, here are some foreigners who are anxious to acquire your

The madman started.

"My invention?" he cried. "My deflagrator?"

And his growing animation plainly indicated the imminence of the fit
that Gaydon had been apprehensive about, and which questions of this
character invariably brought on.

"How much will you give me for it--how much?" continued Roch. "How
much--how much?"

"Ten million dollars," replied Gaydon.

"Ten millions! Ten millions! A fulgurator ten million times more
powerful than anything hitherto invented! Ten millions for an
autopropulsive projectile which, when it explodes, destroys everything
in sight within a radius of over twelve thousand square yards! Ten
millions for the only deflagrator that can provoke its explosion! Why,
all the wealth of the world wouldn't suffice to purchase the secret
of my engine, and rather than sell it at such a price I would cut
my tongue in half with my teeth. Ten millions, when it is worth a
billion--a billion--a billion!"

It was clear that Roch had lost all notion of things, and had Gaydon
offered him ten billions the madman would have replied in exactly the
same manner.

The Count d'Artigas and Captain Spade had not taken their eyes off
him. The Count was impassible as usual, though his brow had darkened,
but the captain shook his head in a manner that implied plainly:
"Decidedly there is nothing to hope from this poor devil!"

After his outburst Roch fled across the garden crying hoarsely:

"Billions! Billions!"

Gaydon turned to the director and remarked:

"I told you how it would be."

Then he rushed after his patient, caught him by the arm, and led him,
without any attempt at resistance, into the pavilion and closed the

The Count d'Artigas remained alone with the director, Captain Spade
having strolled off again in the direction of the wall at the bottom
of the park.

"You see I was not guilty of exaggeration, Count," said the director.
"It is obvious to every one that Thomas Roch is becoming daily worse.
In my opinion his case is a hopeless one. If all the money he asks for
were offered to him, nothing could be got from him."

"Very likely," replied the Count, "still, if his pecuniary demands are
supremely absurd, he has none the less invented an engine the power of
which is infinite, one might say."

"That is the opinion expressed by competent persons, Count. But what
he has discovered will ere long be lost with himself in one of these
fits which are becoming more frequent and intense. Very soon even the
motive of interest, the only sentiment that appears to have survived
in his mind, will become extinct."

"Mayhap the sentiment of hatred will remain, though," muttered the
Count, as Spade joined them at the garden gate.



Half an hour later the Count d'Artigas and Captain Spade were
following the beech-lined road that separated the Healthful House
estate from the right bank of the Neuse. Both had taken leave of the
director, the latter declaring himself greatly honored by their visit,
and the former thanking him warmly for his courteous reception. A
hundred-dollar bill left as a tip for the staff of the establishment
had certainly not belied the Count's reputation for generosity. He
was--there could be no doubt about it--a foreigner of the highest
distinction, if distinction be measured by generosity.

Issuing by the gate at the main entrance to Healthful House, they had
skirted the wall that surrounded the property, and which was high
enough to preclude the possibility of climbing it. Not a word passed
between them for some time; the Count was deep in thought and Captain
Spade was not in the habit of addressing him without being first
spoken to.

At last when they stood beneath the rear wall behind which, though it
was not visible, the Count knew Pavilion No. 17 was situated, he said:

"You managed, I presume, to thoroughly explore the place, and are
acquainted with every detail of it?"

"Certainly, _Count_" replied Captain Spade, emphasizing the title.

"You are perfectly sure about it?"

"Perfectly. I could go through the park with my eyes shut. If you
still persist in carrying out your scheme the pavilion can be easily

"I do persist, Spade."

"Notwithstanding Thomas Roch's mental condition?"

"Notwithstanding his condition; and if we succeed in carrying him

"That is my affair. When night comes on I undertake to enter the park
of Healthful House, and then the pavilion garden without being seen by

"By the entrance gate?"

"No, on this side."

"Yes, but on this side there is the wall, and if you succeed in
climbing it, how are you going to get over it again with Thomas Roch?
What if the madman cries out--what if he should resist--what if his
keeper gives the alarm?"

"Don't worry yourself in the least about that. We have only got to go
in and come out by this door."

Captain Spade pointed to a narrow door let into the wall a few
paces distant, and which was doubtless used by the staff of the
establishment when they had occasion to go out by the river.

"That is the way I propose to go in. It's much easier than scaling the
wall with a ladder."

"But the door is closed."

"It will open."

"Has it no bolts?"

"Yes, but I shot them back while we were strolling about, and the
director didn't notice what I had done."

"How are you going to open it?" queried the Count, going to the door.

"Here is the key," replied Spade, producing it.

He had withdrawn it from the lock, where it happened to be, when he
had unbolted the door.

"Capital!" exclaimed the Count. "It couldn't be better. The business
will be easier than I expected. Let us get back to the schooner. At
eight o'clock one of the boats will put you ashore with five men."

"Yes, five men will do," said Captain Spade. "There will be enough of
them to effect our object even if the keeper is aroused and it becomes
necessary to put him out of the way."

"Put him out of the way--well, if it becomes absolutely necessary of
course you must, but it would be better to seize him too and bring him
aboard the _Ebba_ Who knows but what he has already learned a part of
Roch's secret?"


"Besides, Thomas Roch is used to him, and I don't propose to make him
change his habitudes in any way."

This observation was accompanied by such a significant smile that
Captain Spade could entertain no doubt as to the role reserved for the
warder of Healthful House.

The plan to kidnap them both was thus settled, and appeared to have
every chance of being successful; unless during the couple of hours of
daylight that yet remained it was noticed that the key of the door had
been stolen and the bolts drawn back, Captain Spade and his men could
at least count upon being able to enter the park, and the rest, the
captain affirmed, would be easy enough.

Thomas Roch was the only patient in the establishment isolated and
kept under special surveillance. All the other invalids lived in the
main building, or occupied pavilions in the front of the park. The
plan was to try and seize Roch and Gaydon separately and bind and gag
them before they could cry out.

The Count d'Artigas and his companion wended their way to a creek
where one of the _Ebba's_ boats awaited them. The schooner was
anchored two cable lengths from the shore, her sails neatly rolled
upon her yards, which were squared as neatly as those of a pleasure
yacht or of a man-of-war. At the peak of the mainmast a narrow red
pennant was gently swayed by the wind, which came in fitful puffs from
the east.

The Count and the captain jumped into the boat and a few strokes of
the four oars brought them alongside of the schooner. They climbed
on deck and going forward to the jib-boom, leaned over the starboard
bulwark and gazed at an object that floated on the water a few strokes
ahead of the vessel. It was a small buoy that was rocked by the ripple
of the ebbing tide.

Twilight gradually set in, and the outline of New-Berne on the left
bank of the sinuous Neuse became more and more indistinct until it
disappeared in the deepening shades of night. A mist set in from the
sea, but though it obscured the moon it brought no sign of rain. The
lights gleamed out one by one in the houses of the town. The fishing
smacks came slowly up the river to their anchorage, impelled by the
oars of their crews which struck the water with sharp, rhythmical
strokes, and with their sails distended on the chance of catching an
occasional puff of the dropping wind to help them along. A couple of
steamers passed, sending up volumes of black smoke and myriads of
sparks from their double stacks, and lashing the water into foam with
their powerful paddles.

At eight o'clock the Count d'Artigas appeared on the schooner's deck
accompanied by a man about fifty years of age, to whom he remarked:

"It is time to go, Serko."

"Very well, I will tell Spade," replied Serko.

At that moment the captain joined them.

"You had better get ready to go," said the Count.

"All is ready."

"Be careful to prevent any alarm being given, and arrange matters so
that no one will for a minute suspect that Thomas Roch and his keeper
have been brought on board the _Ebba_."

"They wouldn't find them if they came to look for them," observed
Serko, shrugging his shoulders and laughing heartily as though he had
perpetrated a huge joke.

"Nevertheless, it is better not to arouse their suspicion," said

The boat was lowered, and Captain Spade and five sailors took their
places in it. Four of the latter got out the oars. The boatswain,
Effrondat, who was to remain in charge of the boat, went to the stern
beside Captain Spade and took the tiller.

"Good luck, Spade," said Serko with a smile, "and don't make more
noise about it than if you were a gallant carrying off his lady-love."

"I won't--unless that Gaydon chap--"

"We must have both Roch and Gaydon," insisted the Count d'Artigas.

"That is understood," replied Spade.

The boat pushed off, and the sailors on the deck of the schooner
watched it till it was lost to sight in the darkness.

Pending its return, no preparations for the _Ebba's_ departure were
made. Perhaps there was no intention of quitting the port after the
men had been kidnapped. Besides, how could the vessel have reached the
open sea? Not a breath of air was now stirring, and in half an hour
the tide would be setting in again, and rising strongly and rapidly
for several miles above New-Berne.

Anchored, as has already been said, a couple of cable-lengths from the
shore, the _Ebba_ might have been brought much nearer to it, for the
water was deep enough, and this would have facilitated the task of the
kidnappers when they returned from their expedition. If, however, the
Count d'Artigas preferred to let the vessel stay where she was, he
probably had his reasons.

Not a soul was in sight on the bank, and the road, with its borders
of beech trees that skirted the wall of Healthful House estate, was
equally deserted. The boat was made fast to the shore. Then Captain
Spade and his four sailors landed, leaving the boatswain in charge,
and disappeared amid the trees.

When they reached the wall Captain Spade stopped and the sailors drew
up on each side of the doorway. The captain had only to turn the key
in the lock and push the door, unless one of the servants, noticing
that the door was not secured as usual, had bolted it. In this event
their task would be an extremely difficult one, even if they succeeded
in scaling the high wall.

The captain put his ear to the key-hole and listened.

Not a sound was to be heard in the park. Not even a leaf was rustling
in the branches of the beeches under which they were standing. The
surrounding country was wrapt in the profoundest silence.

Captain Spade drew the key from his pocket, inserted it in the lock
and turned it noiselessly. Then he cautiously pushed the door, which
opened inward.

Things were, then, just as he had left them, and no one had noticed
the theft of the key.

After assuring himself that nobody happened to be in the neighborhood
of the pavilion the captain entered, followed by his men. The door was
left wide open, so that they could beat a hurried and uninterrupted
retreat in case of necessity. The trees and bushes in this shady part
of the park were very thick, and it was so dark that it would not have
been easy to distinguish the pavilion had not a light shone brightly
in one of the windows.

No doubt this was the window of the room occupied by Roch and his
guardian, Gaydon, seeing that the latter never left the patient placed
in his charge either by night or day. Captain Spade had expected to
find him there.

The party approached cautiously, taking the utmost precaution to avoid
kicking a pebble or stepping on a twig, the noise of which might have
revealed their presence. In this way they reached the door of the
pavilion near which was the curtained window of the room in which the
light was burning.

But if the door was locked, how were they going to get in? Captain
Spade must have asked himself. He had no key, and to attempt to effect
an entrance through the window would be hazardous, for, unless Gaydon
could be prevented from giving the alarm, he would rouse the whole

There was no help for it, however. The essential was to get possession
of Roch. If they could kidnap Gaydon, too, in conformity with the
intentions of the Count d'Artigas, so much the better. If not--

Captain Spade crept stealthily to the window, and standing on tiptoe,
looked in. Through an aperture in the curtain he could see all over
the room.

Gaydon was standing beside Thomas Roch, who had not yet recovered from
the fit with which he had been attacked during the Count d'Artigas'
visit. His condition necessitated special attention, and the warder
was ministering to the patient under the direction of a third person.

The latter was one of the doctors attached to Healthful House, and had
been at once sent to the pavilion by the director when Roch's
paroxysm came on. His presence of course rendered the situation more
complicated and the work of the kidnappers more difficult.

Roch, fully dressed, was extended upon a sofa. He was now fairly calm.
The paroxysm, which was abating, would be followed by several hours of
torpor and exhaustion.

Just as Captain Spade peeped through the window the doctor was making
preparations to leave. The Captain heard him say to Gaydon that his
(the doctor's) presence was not likely to be required any more that
night, and that there was nothing to be done beyond following the
instructions he had given.

The doctor then walked towards the door, which, it will be remembered,
was close to the window in front of which Spade and his men were
standing. If they remained where they were they could not fail to be
seen, not only by the doctor, but by the warder, who was accompanying
him to the door.

Before they made their appearance, however, the sailors, at a sign
from their chief, had dispersed and hidden themselves behind the
bushes, while Spade himself crouched in the shadow beneath the window.
Luckily Gaydon had not brought the lamp with him, so that the captain
was in no danger of being seen.

As he was about to take leave of Gaydon, the doctor stopped on the
step and remarked:

"This is one of the worst attacks our patient has had. One or two more
like that and he will lose the little reason he still possesses."

"Just so," said Gaydon. "I wonder that the director doesn't prohibit
all visitors from entering the pavilion. Roch owes his present attack
to a Count d'Artigas, for whose amusement harmful questions were put
to him."

"I will call the director's attention to the matter," responded the

He then descended the steps and Gaydon, leaving the door of the
pavilion ajar, accompanied him to the end of the path.

When they had gone Captain Spade stood up, and his men rejoined him.

Had they not better profit by the chance thus unexpectedly afforded
them to enter the room and secure Roch, who was in a semi-comatose
condition, and then await Gaydon's return, and seize the warder as he

This would have involved considerable risk. Gaydon, at a glance, would
perceive that his patient was missing and raise an alarm; the doctor
would come running back; the whole staff of Healthful House would
turn out, and Spade would not have time to escape with his precious
prisoner and lock the door in the wall after him.

He did not have much chance to deliberate about it, for the warder was
heard returning along the gravel path. Spade decided that the best
thing to be done was to spring upon him as he passed and stifle
his cries and overpower him before he could attempt to offer any
resistance. The carrying off of the mad inventor would be easy enough,
inasmuch as he was unconscious, and could not raise a finger to help

Gaydon came round a clump of bushes and approached the entrance to the
pavilion. As he raised his foot to mount the steps the four sailors
sprang upon him, bore him backwards to the ground, and had gagged him,
securely bound him hand and foot, and bandaged his eyes before he
began to realize what had happened.

Two of the men then kept guard over him, while Captain Spade and the
others entered the house.

As the captain had surmised, Thomas Roch had sunk into such a torpor
that he could have heard nothing of what had been going on outside.
Reclining at full length, with his eyes closed, he might have been
taken for a dead man but for his heavy breathing. There was no need
either to bind or gag him. One man took him by the head and another by
the feet and started off with him to the schooner.

Captain Spade was the last to quit the house after extinguishing the
lamp and closing the door behind him. In this way there was no reason
to suppose that the inmates would be missed before morning.

Gaydon was carried off in the same way as Thomas Roch had been. The
two remaining sailors lifted him and bore him quietly but rapidly down
the path to the door in the wall. The park was pitch dark. Not even a
glimmer of the lights in the windows of Healthful House could be seen
through the thick foliage.

Arrived at the wall, Spade, who had led the way, stepped aside to
allow the sailors with their burdens to pass through, then followed
and closed and locked the door. He put the key in his pocket,
intending to throw it into the Neuse as soon as they were safely on
board the schooner.

There was no one on the road, nor on the bank of the river.

The party made for the boat, and found that Effrondat, the boatswain,
had made all ready to receive them.

Thomas Roch and Gaydon were laid in the bottom of the boat, and the
sailors again took their places at the oars.

"Hurry up, Effrondat, and cast off the painter," ordered the captain.

The boatswain obeyed, and pushed the boat off with his foot as he
scrambled in.

The men bent to their oars and rowed rapidly to the schooner, which
was easily distinguishable, having hung out a light at her mizzenmast

In two minutes they were alongside.

The Count d'Artigas was leaning on the bulwarks by the gangway.

"All right, Spade?" he questioned.

"Yes, sir, all right!"

"Both of them?"

"Both the madman and his keeper."

"Doesn't anybody know about it up at Healthful House?

"Not a soul."

It was not likely that Gaydon, whose eyes and ears were bandaged, but
who preserved all his sang-froid, could have recognized the voices of
the Count d'Artigas and Captain Spade. Nor did he have the chance to.
No attempt was immediately made to hoist him on board. He had been
lying in the bottom of the boat alongside the schooner for fully
half an hour, he calculated, before he felt himself lifted, and then
lowered, doubtless to the bottom of the hold.

The kidnapping having been accomplished it would seem that it only
remained for the _Ebba_ to weigh anchor, descend the estuary and make
her way out to sea through Pamlico Sound. Yet no preparations for
departure were made.

Was it not dangerous to stay where they were after their daring
raid? Had the Count d'Artigas hidden his prisoners so securely as to
preclude the possibility of their being discovered if the _Ebba_,
whose presence in proximity to Healthful House could not fail to
excite suspicion, received a visit from the New-Berne police?

However this might have been, an hour after the return of the
expedition, every soul on board save the watch--the Count d'Artigas,
Serko, and Captain Spade in their respective cabins, and the crew in
the fore-castle, were sound asleep.



It was not till the next morning, and then very leisurely, that
the _Ebba_ began to make preparations for her departure. From the
extremity of New-Berne quay the crew might have been seen holystoning
the deck, after which they loosened the reef lines, under the
direction of Effrondat, the boatswain, hoisted in the boats and
cleared the halyards.

At eight o'clock the Count d'Artigas had not yet appeared on deck.
His companion, Serko the engineer, as he was called on board, had not
quitted his cabin. Captain Spade was strolling quietly about giving

The _Ebba_ would have made a splendid racing yacht, though she had
never participated in any of the yacht races either on the North
American or British coasts. The height of her masts, the extent of
the canvas she carried, her shapely, raking hull, denoted her to be a
craft of great speed, and her general lines showed that she was also
built to weather the roughest gales at sea. In a favorable wind she
would probably make twelve knots an hour.

Notwithstanding these advantages, however, she must in a dead calm
necessarily suffer from the same disadvantages as other sailing
vessels, and it might have been supposed that the Count d'Artigas
would have preferred a steam-yacht with which he could have gone
anywhere, at any time, in any weather. But apparently he was satisfied
to stick to the old method, even when he made his long trips across
the Atlantic.

On this particular morning the wind was blowing gently from the west,
which was very favorable to the _Ebba_, and would enable her to stand
straight out of the Neuse, across Pamlico Sound, and through one of
the inlets that led to the open sea.

At ten o'clock the _Ebba_ was still rocking lazily at anchor, her stem
up stream and her cable tautened by the rapidly ebbing tide. The small
buoy that on the previous evening had been moored near the schooner
was no longer to be seen, and had doubtless been hoisted in.

Suddenly a gun boomed out and a slight wreath of white smoke arose
from the battery. It was answered by other reports from the guns on
the chain of islands along the coast.

At this moment the Count d'Artigas and Engineer Serko appeared on
deck. Captain Spade went to meet them.

"Guns barking," he said laconically.

"We expected it," replied Serko, shrugging his shoulders. "They are
signals to close the passes."

"What has that to do with us?" asked the Count d'Artigas quietly.

"Nothing at all," said the engineer.

They all, of course, knew that the alarm-guns indicated that the
disappearance of Thomas Roch and the warder Gaydon from Healthful
House had been discovered.

At daybreak the doctor had gone to Pavilion No. 17 to see how
his patient had passed the night, and had found no one there. He
immediately notified the director, who had the grounds thoroughly
searched. It was then discovered that the door in rear of the park was
unbolted, and that, though locked, the key had been taken away. It was
evident that Roch and his attendant had been carried out that way. But
who were the kidnappers? No one could possibly imagine. All that could
be ascertained was that at half-past seven on the previous night one
of the doctors had attended Thomas Roch, who was suffering from one of
his fits, and that when the medical man had left him the invalid was
in an unconscious condition. What had happened after the doctor took
leave of Gaydon at the end of the garden-path could not even be

The news of the disappearance was telegraphed to New Berne, and thence
to Raleigh. On receipt of it the Governor had instantly wired orders
that no vessel was to be allowed to quit Pamlico Sound without having
been first subjected to a most rigorous search. Another dispatch
ordered the cruiser _Falcon_, which was stationed in the port, to
carry out the Governor's instructions in this respect. At the same
time measures were taken to keep a strict lookout in every town and
village in the State.

The Count d'Artigas could see the _Falcon_, which was a couple of
miles away to the east in the estuary, getting steam up and making
hurried preparations to carry out her mission. It would take at least
an hour before the warship could be got ready to steam out, and the
schooner might by that time have gained a good start.

"Shall I weigh anchor?" demanded Captain Spade.

"Yes, as we have a fair wind; but you can take your time about it,"
replied the Count d'Artigas.

"The passes of Pamlico Sound will be under observation," observed
Engineer Serko, "and no vessel will be able to get out without
receiving a visit from gentlemen as inquisitive as they will be

"Never mind, get under way all the same," ordered the Count. "When the
officers of the cruiser or the Custom-House officers have been over
the _Ebba_ the embargo will be raised. I shall be indeed surprised if
we are not allowed to go about our business."

"With a thousand pardons for the liberty taken, and best wishes for a
good voyage and speedy return," chuckled Engineer Serko, following the
phrase with a loud and prolonged laugh.

When the news was received at New-Berne, the authorities at first were
puzzled to know whether the missing inventor and his keeper had fled
or been carried off. As, however, Roch's flight could not have taken
place without the connivance of Gaydon, this supposition was speedily
abandoned. In the opinion of the director and management of Healthful
House the warder was absolutely above suspicion. They must both, then,
have been kidnapped.

It can easily be imagined what a sensation the news caused in the
town. What! the French inventor who had been so closely guarded had
disappeared, and with him the secret of the wonderful fulgurator that
nobody had been able to worm out of him? Might not the most serious
consequences follow? Might not the discovery of the new engine be lost
to America forever? If the daring act had been perpetrated on behalf
of another nation, might not that nation, having Thomas Roch in
its power, be eventually able to extract from him what the Federal
Government had vainly endeavored to obtain? And was it reasonable, was
it permissible, to suppose for an instant that he had been carried off
for the benefit of a private individual?

Certainly not, was the emphatic reply to the latter question, which
was too ridiculous to be entertained. Therefore the whole power of
the State was employed in an effort to recover the inventor. In every
county of North Carolina a special surveillance was organized on
every road and at every railroad station, and every house in town
and country was searched. Every port from Wilmington to Norfolk was
closed, and no craft of any description could leave without being
thoroughly overhauled. Not only the cruiser _Falcon_, but every
available cutter and launch was sent out with orders to patrol
Pamlico Sound and board yachts, merchant vessels and fishing smacks
indiscriminately whether anchored or not and search them down to the

Still the crew of the _Ebba_ prepared calmly to weigh anchor, and the
Count d'Artigas did not appear to be in the least concerned at the
orders of the authorities and at the consequences that would ensue, if
Thomas Roch and his keeper, Gaydon, were found on board.

At last all was ready, the crew manned the capstan bars, the sails
were hoisted, and the schooner glided gracefully through the water
towards the Sound.

Twenty miles from New-Berne the estuary curves abruptly and shoots off
towards the northwest for about the same distance, gradually widening
until it empties itself into Pamlico Sound.

The latter is a vast expanse about seventy miles across from Sivan
Island to Roanoke. On the seaward side stretches a chain of long and
narrow islands, forming a natural breakwater north and south from
Cape Lookout to Cape Hatteras and from the latter to Cape Henry, near
Norfolk City, in Virginia.

Numerous beacons on the islands and islets form an easy guide for
vessels at night seeking refuge from the Atlantic gales, and once
inside the chain they are certain of finding plenty of good anchoring

Several passes afford an outlet from the Sound to the sea. Beyond
Sivan Island lighthouse is Ocracoke inlet, and next is the inlet of
Hatteras. There are also three others known as Logger Head inlet, New
inlet, and Oregon inlet. The Ocracoke was the one nearest the _Ebba_,
and she could make it without tacking, but the _Falcon_ was searching
all vessels that passed through. This did not, however, make any
particular difference, for by this time all the passes, upon which
the guns of the forts had been trained, were guarded by government

The _Ebba_, therefore, kept on her way, neither trying to avoid
nor offering to approach the searchers. She seemed to be merely a
pleasure-yacht out for a morning sail.

No attempt had up to that time been made to accost her. Was she, then,
specially privileged, and to be spared the bother of being searched?
Was the Count d'Artigas considered too high and mighty a personage to
be thus molested, and delayed even for an hour? It was unlikely, for
though he was regarded as a distinguished foreigner who lived the life
of luxury enjoyed by the favored of fortune, no one, as a matter of
fact, knew who he was, nor whence he came, nor whither he was going.

The schooner sped gracefully over the calm waters of the sound, her
flag--a gold crescent in the angle of a red field--streaming proudly
in the breeze. Count d'Artigas was cosily ensconced in a basket-work
chair on the after-deck, conversing with Engineer Serko and Captain

"They don't seem in a hurry to board us," remarked Serko.

"They can come whenever they think proper," said the Count in a tone
of supreme indifference.

"No doubt they are waiting for us at the entrance to the inlet,"
suggested Captain Spade.

"Let them wait," grunted the wealthy nobleman.

Then he relapsed into his customary unconcerned impassibility.

Captain Spade's hypothesis was doubtless correct. The _Falcon_ had as
yet made no move towards the schooner, but would almost certainly do
so as soon as the latter reached the inlet, and the Count would have
to submit to a search of his vessel if he wished to reach the open

How was it then that he manifested such extraordinary unconcern? Were
Thomas Roch and Gaydon so safely hidden that their hiding-place could
not possibly be discovered?

The thing was possible, but perhaps the Count d'Artigas would not have
been quite so confident had he been aware that the _Ebba_ had been
specially signalled to the warship and revenue cutters as a suspect.

The Count's visit to Healthful House on the previous day had now
attracted particular attention to him and his schooner. Evidently, at
the time, the director could have had no reason to suspect the motive
of his visit. But a few hours later, Thomas Roch and his keeper had
been carried off. No one else from outside had been near the pavilion
that day. It was admitted that it would have been an easy matter for
the Count's companion, while the former distracted the director's
attention, to push back the bolts of the door in the wall and steal
the key. Then the fact that the _Ebba_ was anchored in rear of, and
only a few hundred yards from, the estate, was in itself suspicious.
Nothing would have been easier for the desperadoes than to enter by
the door, surprise their victims, and carry them off to the schooner.

These suspicions, neither the director nor the _personnel_ of the
establishment had at first liked to give expression to, but when
the _Ebba_ was seen to weigh anchor and head for the open sea, they
appeared to be confirmed.

They were communicated to the authorities of New-Berne, who
immediately ordered the commander of the _Falcon_ to intercept the
schooner, to search her minutely high and low, and from stem to stern,
and on no account to let her proceed, unless he was absolutely certain
that Roch and Gaydon were not on board.

Assuredly the Count d'Artigas could have had no idea that his vessel
was the object of such stringent orders; but even if he had, it is
questionable whether this superbly haughty and disdainful nobleman
would hove manifested any particular anxiety.

Towards three o'clock, the warship which was cruising before the
inlet, after having sent search parties aboard a few fishing-smacks,
suddenly manoeuvred to the entrance of the pass, and awaited the
approaching schooner. The latter surely did not imagine that she could
force a passage in spite of the cruiser, or escape from a vessel
propelled by steam. Besides, had she attempted such a foolhardy
trick, a couple of shots from the _Falcon's_ guns would speedily have
constrained her to lay to.

Presently a boat, manned by two officers and ten sailors, put off from
the cruiser and rowed towards the _Ebba_. When they were only about
half a cable's length off, one of the men rose and waved a flag.

"That's a signal to stop," said Engineer Serko.

"Precisely," remarked the Count d'Artigas.

"We shall have to lay to."

"Then lay to."

Captain Spade went forward and gave the necessary orders, and in a few
minutes the vessel slackened speed, and was soon merely drifting with
the tide.

The _Falcon's_ boat pulled alongside, and a man in the bows held on to
her with a boat-hook. The gangway was lowered by a couple of hands on
the schooner, and the two officers, followed by eight of their men,
climbed on deck.

They found the crew of the _Ebba_ drawn up in line on the forecastle.

The officer in command of the boarding-party--a first
lieutenant--advanced towards the owner of the schooner, and the
following questions and answers were exchanged:

"This schooner belongs to the Count d'Artigas, to whom, I presume, I
have the honor of speaking?"

"Yes, sir."

"What is her name?"

"The _Ebba_."

"She is commanded by?--"

"Captain Spade."

"What is his nationality?"


The officer scrutinized the schooner's flag, while the Count d'Artigas

"Will you be good enough to tell me, sir, to what circumstance I owe
the pleasure of your visit on board my vessel?"

"Orders have been received," replied the officer, "to search every
vessel now anchored in Pamlico Sound, or which attempts to leave it."

He did not deem it necessary to insist upon this point since the
_Ebba_, above every other, was to be subjected to the bother of a
rigorous examination.

"You, of course, sir, have no intention of refusing me permission to
go over your schooner?"

"Assuredly not, sir. My vessel is at your disposal from peaks to
bilges. Only I should like to know why all the vessels which happen to
be in Pamlico Sound to-day are being subjected to this formality."

"I see no reason why you should not be informed, Monsieur the Count,"
replied the officer. "The governor of North Carolina has been apprised
that Healthful House has been broken into and two persons kidnapped,
and the authorities merely wish to satisfy themselves that the persons
carried off have not been embarked during the night."

"Is it possible?" exclaimed the Count, feigning surprise. "And who are
the persons who have thus disappeared from Healthful House?"

"An inventor--a madman--and his keeper."

"A madman, sir? Do you, may I ask, refer to the Frenchman, Thomas

"The same."

"The Thomas Roch whom I saw yesterday during my visit to the
establishment--whom I questioned in presence of the director--who
was seized with a violent paroxysm just as Captain Spade and I were

The officer observed the stranger with the keenest attention, in an
effort to surprise anything suspicious in his attitude or remarks.

"It is incredible!" added the Count, as though he had just heard about
the outrage for the first time.

"I can easily understand, sir, how uneasy the authorities must be,"
he went on, "in view of Thomas Roch's personality, and I cannot but
approve of the measures taken. I need hardly say that neither the
French inventor nor his keeper is on board the _Ebba_. However, you
can assure yourself of the fact by examining the schooner as minutely
as you desire. Captain Spade, show these gentlemen over the vessel."

Then saluting the lieutenant of the _Falcon_ coldly, the Count
d'Artigas sank into his deck-chair again and replaced his cigar
between his lips, while the two officers and eight sailors, conducted
by Captain Spade, began their search.

In the first place they descended the main hatchway to the after
saloon--a luxuriously-appointed place, filled with art objects of
great value, hung with rich tapestries and hangings, and wainscotted
with costly woods.

It goes without saying that this and the adjoining cabins were
searched with a care that could not have been surpassed by the most
experienced detectives. Moreover, Captain Spade assisted them by every
means in his power, obviously anxious that they should not preserve
the slightest suspicion of the _Ebba's_ owner.

After the grand saloon and cabins, the elegant dining-saloon was
visited. Then the cook's galley, Captain Spade's cabin, and the
quarters of the crew in the forecastle were overhauled, but no sign of
Thomas Roch or Gaydon was to be seen.

Next, every inch of the hold, etc., was examined, with the aid of a
couple of lanterns. Water-kegs, wine, brandy, whisky and beer barrels,
biscuit-boxes, in fact, all the provision boxes and everything the
hold contained, including the stock of coal, was moved and probed, and
even the bilges were scrutinized, but all in vain.

Evidently the suspicion that the Count d'Artigas had carried off
the missing men was unfounded and unjust. Even a rat could not have
escaped the notice of the vigilant searchers, leave alone two men.

When they returned on deck, however, the officers, as a matter of
precaution looked into the boats hanging on the davits, and punched
the lowered sails, with the same result.

It only remained for them, therefore, to take leave of the Count

"You must pardon us for having disturbed you, Monsieur the Count,"
said the lieutenant.

"You were compelled to obey your orders, gentlemen."

"It was merely a formality, of course," ventured the officer.

By a slight inclination of the head the Count signified that he was
quite willing to accept this euphemism.

"I assure you, gentlemen, that I have had no hand in this kidnapping."

"We can no longer believe so, Monsieur the Count, and will withdraw."

"As you please. Is the _Ebba_ now free to proceed?"


"Then _au revoir_, gentlemen, _au revoir_, for I am an _habitue_ of
this coast and shall soon be back again. I hope that ere my return you
will have discovered the author of the outrage, and have Thomas Roch
safely back in Healthful House. It is a consummation devoutly to be
wished in the interest of the United States--I might even say of the
whole world."

The two officers courteously saluted the Count, who responded with a
nod. Captain Spade accompanied them to the gangway, and they were soon
making for the cruiser, which had steamed near to pick them up.

Meanwhile the breeze had freshened considerably, and when, at a sign
from d'Artigas, Captain Spade set sail again, the _Ebba_ skimmed
swiftly through the inlet, and half an hour after was standing out to

For an hour she continued steering east-northeast, and then, the wind,
being merely a land breeze, dropped, and the schooner lay becalmed,
her sails limp, and her flag drooping like a wet rag. It seemed that
it would be impossible for the vessel to continue her voyage that
night unless a breeze sprang up, and of this there was no sign.

Since the schooner had cleared the inlet Captain Spade had stood in
the bows gazing into the water, now to port, now to starboard, as if
on the lookout for something. Presently he shouted in a stentorian

"Furl sail!"

The sailors rushed to their posts, and in an instant the sails came
rattling down and were furled.

Was it Count d'Artigas' intention to wait there till daybreak brought
a breeze with it? Presumably, or the sails would have remained hoisted
to catch the faintest puff.

A boat was lowered and Captain Spade jumped into it, accompanied by
a sailor, who paddled it towards an object that was floating on the
water a few yards away.

This object was a small buoy, similar to that which had floated on the
bosom of the Neuse when the _Ebba_ lay off Healthful House.

The buoy, with a towline affixed to it, was lifted into the boat that
was then paddled to the bow of the _Ella_, from the deck of which
another hawser was cast to the captain, who made it fast to the
towline of the buoy. Having dropped the latter overboard again, the
captain and the sailor returned to the ship and the boat was hoisted

Almost immediately the hawser tautened, and the _Elba_, though not a
stitch of canvas had been set, sped off in an easterly direction at a
speed that could not have been less than ten knots an hour.

Night was falling fast, and soon the rapidly receding lights along the
American coast were lost in the mist on the horizon.



(Notes by Simon Hart, the Engineer.)

Where am I? What has happened since the sudden aggression of which I
was the victim near the pavilion.

I had just quitted the doctor, and was about to mount the steps, close
the door and resume my post beside Thomas Roch when several men
sprang upon me and knocked me down. Who are they? My eyes having been
bandaged I was unable to recognize them. I could not cry for help,
having been gagged. I could make no resistance, for they had bound me
hand and foot. Thus powerless, I felt myself lifted and carried about
one hundred paces, then hoisted, then lowered, then laid down.

Where? Where?

And Thomas Roch, what has become of him? It must have been he rather
than I they were after. I was but Gaydon, the warder. None suspected
that I was Simon Hart, the engineer, nor could they have suspected my
nationality. Why, therefore, should they have desired to kidnap a mere
hospital attendant?

There can consequently be no doubt that the French inventor has been
carried off; and if he was snatched from Healthful House it must have
been in the hope of forcing his secret from him.

But I am reasoning on the supposition that Thomas Roch was carried off
with me. Is it so? Yes--it must be--it is. I can entertain no doubt
whatever about it. I have not fallen into the hands of malefactors
whose only intention is robbery. They would not have acted in this
way. After rendering it impossible for me to cry out, after having
thrown me into a clump of bushes in the corner of the garden, after
having kidnapped Thomas Roch they would not have shut me up--where I
now am.

Where? This is the question which I have been asking myself for hours
without being able to answer it.

However, one thing is certain, and that is that I have embarked upon
an extraordinary adventure, that will end?--In what manner I know
not--I dare not even imagine what the upshot of it will be. Anyhow,
it is my intention to commit to memory, minute by minute, the least
circumstance, and then, if it be possible, to jot down my daily
impressions. Who knows what the future has in store for me? And who
knows but what, in my new position, I may finally discover the secret
of Roth's fulgurator? If I am to be delivered one day, this secret
must be made known, as well as who is the author, or who are the
authors, of this criminal outrage, which may be attended with such
serious consequences.

I continually revert to this question, hoping that some incident will
occur to enlighten me:

Where am I?

Let me begin from the beginning.

After having been carried by the head and feet from Healthful House,
I felt that I was laid, without any brutality, I must admit, upon the
stretchers of a row-boat of small dimensions.

The rocking caused by the weight of my body was succeeded shortly
afterwards by a further rocking--which I attribute to the embarking of
a second person. Can there be room for doubt that it was Thomas
Roch? As far as he was concerned they would not have had to take the
precaution of gagging him, or of bandaging his eyes, or of binding
him. He must still have been in a state of prostration which precluded
the possibility of his making any resistance, or even of being
conscious of what was being done. The proof that I am not deceiving
myself is that I could smell the unmistakable odor of ether. Now,
yesterday, before taking leave of us, the doctor administered a few
drops of ether to the invalid and--I remember distinctly--a little of
this extremely volatile substance fell upon his clothing while he was
struggling in his fit. There is therefore nothing astonishing in the
fact that this odor should have clung to him, nor that I should have
distinguished it, even beneath the bandages that covered my face.

Yes, Thomas Roch was extended near me in the boat. And to think that
had I not returned to the pavilion when I did, had I delayed a few
minutes longer, I should have found him gone!

Let me think. What could have inspired that Count d'Artigas with the
unfortunate curiosity to visit Healthful House? If he had not been
allowed to see my patient nothing of the kind would have happened.
Talking to Thomas Roch about his inventions brought on a fit of
exceptional violence. The director is primarily to blame for not
heeding my warning. Had he listened to me the doctor would not have
been called upon to attend him, the door of the pavilion would have
been locked, and the attempt of the band would have been frustrated.

As to the interest there could have been in carrying off Thomas Roch,
either on behalf of a private person or of one of the states of the
Old World, it is so evident that there is no need to dwell upon it.
However, I can be perfectly easy about the result. No one can possibly
succeed in learning what for fifteen months I have been unable to
ascertain. In the condition of intellectual collapse into which my
fellow-countryman has fallen, all attempts to force his secret from
him will be futile. Moreover, he is bound to go from bad to worse
until he is hopelessly insane, even as regards those points upon which
he has hitherto preserved his reason intact.

After all, however, it is less about Thomas Roch than myself that I
must think just now, and this is what I have experienced, to resume
the thread of my adventure where I dropped it:

After more rocking caused by our captors jumping into it, the boat
is rowed off. The distance must be very short, for a minute after we
bumped against something. I surmise that this something must be
the hull of a ship, and that we have run alongside. There is some
scurrying and excitement. Indistinctly through my bandages I can hear
orders being given and a confused murmur of voices that lasts for
about five minutes, but I cannot distinguish a word that is said.

The only thought that occurs to me now is that they will hoist me on
board and lower me to the bottom of the hold and keep me there till
the vessel is far out at sea. Obviously they will not allow either
Thomas Roch or his keeper to appear on deck as long as she remains in
Pamlico Sound.

My conjecture is correct. Still gagged and bound I am at last lifted
by the legs and shoulders. My impression, however, is that I am not
being raised over a ship's bulwark, but on the contrary am being
lowered. Are they going to drop me overboard to drown like a rat, so
as to get rid of a dangerous witness? This thought flashes into my
brain, and a quiver of anguish passes through my body from head to
foot. Instinctively I draw a long breath, and my lungs are filled with
the precious air they will speedily lack.

No, there is no immediate cause for alarm. I am laid with comparative
gentleness upon a hard floor, which gives me the sensation of metallic
coldness. I am lying at full length. To my extreme surprise, I find
that the ropes with which I was bound have been untied and loosened.
The tramping about around me has ceased. The next instant I hear a
door closed with a bang.

Where am I? And, in the first place, am I alone? I tear the gag from
my mouth, and the bandages from my head.

It is dark--pitch dark. Not a ray of light, not even the vague
perception of light that the eyes preserve when the lids are tightly

I shout--I shout repeatedly. No response. My voice is smothered. The
air I breathe is hot, heavy, thick, and the working of my lungs will
become difficult, impossible, unless the store of air is renewed.

I extend my arms and feel about me, and this is what I conclude:

I am in a compartment with sheet-iron walls, which cannot measure more
than four cubic yards. I can feel that the walls are of bolted plates,
like the sides of a ship's water-tight compartment.

I can feel that the entrance to it is by a door on one side, for the
hinges protrude somewhat. This door must open inwards, and it is
through here, no doubt, that I was carried in.

I place my ear to the door, but not a sound can be heard. The silence
is as profound as the obscurity--a strange silence that is only broken
by the sonorousness of the metallic floor when I move about. None of
the dull noises usually to be heard on board a ship is perceptible,
not even the rippling of the water along the hull. Nor is there the
slightest movement to be felt; yet, in the estuary of the Neuse, the
current is always strong enough, to cause a marked oscillation to any

But does the compartment in which I am confined, really belong to
a ship? How do I know that I am afloat on the Neuse, though I was
conveyed a short distance in a boat? Might not the latter, instead of
heading for a ship in waiting for it, opposite Healthful House, have
been rowed to a point further down the river? In this case is it not
possible that I was carried into the collar of a house? This would
explain the complete immobility of the compartment. It is true that
the walls are of bolted plates, and that there is a vague smell of
salt water, that odor _sui generis_ which generally pervades the
interior of a ship, and which there is no mistaking.

An interval, which I estimate at about four hours, must have passed
since my incarceration. It must therefore be near midnight. Shall I be
left here in this way till morning? Luckily, I dined at six o'clock,
which is the regular dinner-hour at Healthful House. I am not
suffering from hunger. In fact I feel more inclined to sleep than
to eat. Still, I hope I shall have energy enough to resist the
inclination. I will not give way to it. I must try and find out what
is going on outside. But neither sound nor light can penetrate this
iron box. Wait a minute, though; perhaps by listening intently I may
hear some sound, however feeble. Therefore I concentrate all my vital
power in my sense of hearing. Moreover, I try--in case I should
really not be on _terra firma_--to distinguish some movement, some
oscillation of my prison. Admitting that the ship is still at anchor,
it cannot be long before it will start--otherwise I shall have to give
up imagining why Thomas Roch and I have been carried off.

At last--it is no illusion--a slight rolling proves to me, beyond a
doubt, that I am not on land. We are evidently moving, but the motion
is scarcely perceptible. It is not a jerky, but rather a gliding
movement, as though we were skimming through the water without effort,
on an even keel.

Let me consider the matter calmly. I am on board a vessel that was
anchored in the Neuse, waiting under sail or steam, for the result of
the expedition. A boat brought me aboard, but, I repeat, I did not
feel that I was lifted over her bulwarks. Was I passed through a
porthole? But after all, what does it matter? Whether I was lowered
into the hold or not, I am certainly upon something that is floating
and moving.

No doubt I shall soon be let out, together with Thomas Roch, supposing
them to have locked him up as carefully as they have me. By being let
out, I mean being accorded permission to go on deck. It will not be
for some hours to come, however, that is certain, for they won't want
us to be seen, so that there is no chance of getting a whiff of fresh
air till we are well out at sea. If it is a sailing vessel, she must
have waited for a breeze--for the breeze that freshens off shore at
daybreak, and is favorable to ships navigating Pamlico Sound.

It certainly cannot be a steamer. I could not have failed to smell the
oil and other odors of the engine-room. And then I should feel
the trembling of the machinery, the jerks of the pistons, and the
movements of the screws or paddles.

The best thing to do is to wait patiently. I shan't be taken out of
this hole until to-morrow, anyway. Moreover, if I am not released,
somebody will surely bring me something to eat. There is no reason to
suppose that they intend to starve me to death. They wouldn't have
taken the trouble to bring me aboard, but would have dropped me to the
bottom of the river had they been desirous of getting rid of me. Once
we are out at sea, what will they have to fear from me? No one could
hear my shouts. As to demanding an explanation and making a fuss, it
would be useless. Besides, what am I to the men who have carried us
off? A mere hospital attendant--one Gaydon, who is of no consequence.
It is Thomas Roch they were after. I was taken along too because I
happened to return to the pavilion at the critical moment.

At any rate, no matter what happens, no matter who our kidnappers may
be, no matter where we are taken, I shall stick to this resolution: I
will continue to play my role of warder. No one, no! none, can suspect
that Gaydon is Simon Hart, the engineer. There are two advantages in
this: in the first place, they will take no notice of a poor devil
of a warder, and in the second, I may be able to solve the mystery
surrounding this plot and turn my knowledge to profit, if I succeed in
making my escape.

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