“Matters went very wrong at times: the doctor fumed like his little craters; growled out long-winded, exhaustive German imprecations: wouldn’t even eat. Then again the demon of work would drive him with thong and spur: he would rush to his craters, to his laboratories, to his ledger for the purpose of entering unintelligible commentaries. He had some peculiar contrivance, like a misshapen retort, with which he collected gases from the craterlets. Whenever I’d hear one of those smash, I knew it was a bad day.
“Meantime, the volcano also became—well, what you might call temperamental.
“It got to be a year and a quarter—a year and a half. I wondered whether we should ever get away. My tobacco was running short. And the bearing of the men was becoming fidgetty. My visits to the beach became quite interesting—to me. One day the doctor came running out of his laboratory with so bright a face that I ventured to ask him about departure.
“‘Not so long, now, Percy,’ he said, in his old, kind manner. ’Not so long. The first real success. It iss made. We have yet under-entire-control to bring it, but it iss made.’
“‘And about time, sir,’ said I. ’If we don’t do something soon we may have trouble with the men.’
“‘So?’ said he in surprise. ‘But they could do nothing. Nothing.’ He wagged his great head confidently. ‘We are armed.’
“‘Oh, yes, armed. So are they.’
“‘We are armed,’ he repeated obstinately. ’Such as no man was ever armed, are we armed.’
“He checked himself abruptly and walked away. Well, I’ve since wondered what would have happened had the men attacked us. It would have been worth seeing, and—and surprising. Yes: I’m quite certain it would have been surprising. Perhaps, too, I might have learned more of the Great Secret ... and yet, I don’t know. It’s all dark ... a hint here ... theory ... mere glints of light.... Where did I put.... Ah, thank you.”
For some moments Darrow sat gazing fixedly at the table before him. His cigarette tip glowed and failed. Someone suggested drinks. The captain asked Darrow what he would have, but the question went unnoted.
“How I passed the next six months I could hardly tell you,” he began again, quite abruptly. “At times I was bored—fearfully bored. Yet the element of mystery, of uncertainty, of underlying peril, gave a certain zest to the affair. In the periods of dulness I found some amusement in visiting the lower camp and baiting the Nigger. Slade will have told you about him; he possessed quite a fund of bastard Voodooism: he possessed more before I got through with him. Yes; if he had lived to return to his country, I fancy he would have added considerably to Afro-American witch-lore. You remember the vampire bats, Slade? And the devil-fires? Naturally I didn’t mention to you that the devil-fire