What they are saying is this.
Of these questions and answers exchanged between my lord Faruskiar and his companions, I do not lose a word.
“When shall we be at the junction?”
“In a few minutes.”
“Are you sure that Kardek is at the points?”
“Yes; that has been arranged.”
What had been arranged? And who is this Kardek they are talking about?
The conversation continues.
“We must wait until we get the signal,” says Faruskiar.
“Is that a green light?” asks Ghangir.
“Yes—it will show that the switch is over.”
I do not know if I am in my right senses. The switch over? What switch?
A half minute elapses. Ought I not to tell Popof? Yes—I ought.
I was turning to go out of the van, when an exclamation kept me back.
“The signal—there is the signal!” says Ghangir.
“And now the train is on the Nanking branch!” replies Faruskiar.
The Nanking branch? But then we are lost. At five kilometres from here is the Tjon viaduct in course of construction, and the train is being precipitated towards an abyss.
Evidently Major Noltitz was not mistaken regarding my lord Faruskiar. I understand the scheme of the scoundrels. The manager of the Grand Transasiatic is a scoundrel of the deepest dye. He has entered the service of the company to await his opportunity for some extensive haul. The opportunity has come with the millions of the Son of Heaven I Yes! The whole abominable scheme is clear enough to me. Faruskiar has defended the imperial treasure against Ki-Tsang to keep it from the chief of the bandits who stopped the train, whose attack would have interfered with his criminal projects! That is why he had fought so bravely. That is why he had risked his life and behaved like a hero. And thou, poor beast of a Claudius, how thou hast been sold! Another howler! Think of that, my friend!
But somehow we ought to prevent this rascal from accomplishing his work. We ought to save the train which is running full speed towards the unfinished viaduct, we ought to save the passengers from a frightful catastrophe. As to the treasure Faruskiar and his accomplices are after, I care no more than for yesterday’s news! But the passengers—and myself—that is another affair altogether.
I will go back to Popof. Impossible. I seem to be nailed to the floor of the van. My head swims—
Is it true we are running towards the abyss? No! I am mad. Faruskiar and his accomplices would be hurled over as well. They would share our fate. They would perish with us!
But there are shouts in front of the train. The screams of people being killed. There is no doubt now. The driver and the stoker are being strangled. I feel the speed of the train begin to slacken.
I understand. One of the ruffians knows how to work the train, and he is slowing it to enable them to jump off and avoid the catastrophe.