Caterna is particularly cheery, talkative, facetious, communicative, overflowing. At dessert he and his wife sang the air—appropriate to the occasion—from the Voyage en Chine, which we caught up with more power than precision:
is a charming land
Which surely ought to please you.”
Oh! Labiche, could you ever have imagined that this adorable composition would one day charm passengers in distress on the Grand Transasiatic? And then our actor—a little fresh, I admit—had an idea. And such an idea! Why not resume the marriage ceremony interrupted by the attack on the train?
“What marriage?” asked Ephrinell.
“Yours, sir, yours,” replied Caterna. “Have you forgotten it? That is rather too good!”
The fact is that Fulk Ephrinell, on the one part, and Horatia Bluett, on the other part, seemed to have forgotten that had it not been for the attack of Ki-Tsang and his band they would now have been united in the gentle bonds of matrimony.
But we were all too tired. The Reverend Nathaniel Morse was unequal to the task; he would not have strength enough to bless the pair, and the pair would not have strength enough to support his blessing. The ceremony could be resumed on the day after to-morrow. Between Tcharkalyk and Lan Tcheou there was a run of nine hundred kilometres, and that was quite long enough for this Anglo-American couple to be linked together in.
And so we all went to our couches or benches for a little refreshing sleep. But at the same time the requirements of prudence were not neglected.
Although it appeared improbable, now that their chief had succumbed, the bandits might still make a nocturnal attack. There were always these cursed millions of the Son of Heaven to excite their covetousness, and if we are not on our guard—
But we feel safe. Faruskiar in person arranges for the surveillance of the train. Since the death of the officer he has taken command of the Chinese detachment. He and Ghangir are on guard over the imperial treasure, and according to Caterna, who is never in want of a quotation from some comic opera:
“This night the maids of honor will be guarded well.”
And, in fact, the imperial treasure was much better guarded than the beautiful Athenais de Solange between the first and second acts of the Mousquetaires de la Reine.
At daybreak next morning we are at work. The weather is superb. The day will be warm. Out in the Asian desert on the 24th of May the temperature is such that you can cook eggs if you only cover them with a little sand.
Zeal was not wanting, and the passengers worked as hard as they had done the night before. The line was gradually completed. One by one the sleepers were replaced, the rails were laid end to end, and about four o’clock in the afternoon the gap was bridged.
At once the engine began to advance slowly, the cars following until they were over the temporary track and safe again. Now the road is clear to Tcharkalyk; what do I say? to Pekin.