“He has been discovered!” she says. “His fraud is known—they have arrested him—”
“Would to heaven it was no worse. We have had accidents on the road. The train was nearly annihilated—a frightful catastrophe—”
“He is dead! Kinko is dead!”
The unhappy Zinca falls on to a chair—and to employ the imaginative phraseology of the Chinese—her tears roll down like rain on an autumn night. Never have I seen anything so lamentable. But it will not do to leave her in this state, poor girl! She is becoming unconscious. I do not know where I am. I take her hands. I repeat:
“Mademoiselle Zinca! Mademoiselle Zinca!”
Suddenly there is a great noise in front of the house. Shouts are heard. There is a tremendous to do, and amid the tumult I hear a voice.
Good Heavens! I cannot be mistaken. That is Kinko’s voice!
I recognize it. Am I in my right senses?
Zinca jumps up, springs to the window, opens it, and we look out.
There is a cart at the door. There is the case, with all its inscriptions: This side up, this side down, fragile, glass, beware of damp, etc., etc. It is there—half smashed. There has been a collision. The cart has been run into by a carriage, as the case was being got down. The case has slipped on to the ground. It has been knocked in. And Kinko has jumped out like a jack-in-the-box—but alive, very much alive!
I can hardly believe my eyes! What, my young Roumanian did not perish in the explosion? No! As I shall soon hear from his own mouth, he was thrown on to the line when the boiler went up, remained there inert for a time, found himself uninjured—miraculously—kept away till he could slip into the van unperceived. I had just left the van after looking for him in vain, and supposing that he had been the first victim of the catastrophe.
Then—oh! the irony of fate!—after accomplishing a journey of six thousand kilometres on the Grand Transasiatic, shut up in a box among the baggage, after escaping so many dangers, attack by bandits, explosion of engine, he was here, by the mere colliding of a cart and a carriage in a Pekin Street, deprived of all the good of his journey—fraudulent it may be—but really if—I know of no epithet worthy of this climax.
The carter gave a yell at the sight of a human being who had just appeared. In an instant the crowd had gathered, the fraud was discovered, the police had run up. And what could this young Roumanian do who did not know a word of Chinese, but explain matters in the sign language? And if he could not be understood, what explanation could he give?
Zinca and I ran down to him.
“My Zinca—my dear Zinca!” he exclaims, pressing the girl to his heart.
“My Kinko—my dear Kinko!” she replies, while her tears mingle with his.
“Monsieur Bombarnac!” says the poor fellow, appealing for my intervention.