“Kinko,” I reply, “take it coolly, and depend on me. You are alive, and we thought you were dead.”
“But I am not much better off!” he murmurs.
Mistake! Anything is better than being dead—even when one is menaced by prison, be it a Chinese prison. And that is what happens, in spite of the girl’s supplications and my entreaties. And Kinko is dragged off by the police, amid the laughter and howls of the crowd.
But I will not abandon him! No, if I move heaven and earth, I will not abandon him.
If ever the expression, “sinking in sight of port,” could be used in its precise meaning, it evidently can in this case. And I must beg you to excuse me. But although a ship may sink by the side of the jetty, we must not conclude that she is lost. That Kinko’s liberty is in danger, providing the intervention of myself and fellow passengers is of no avail, agreed. But he is alive, and that is the essential point.
But we must not waste an hour, for if the police is not perfect in China, it is at least prompt and expeditious. Soon caught, soon hanged—and it will not do for them to hang Kinko, even metaphorically.
I offer my arm to Mademoiselle Zinca, and I lead her to my carriage, and we return rapidly towards the Hotel of the Ten Thousand Dreams.
There I find Major Noltitz and the Caternas, and by a lucky chance young Pan-Chao, without Dr. Tio-King. Pan-Chao would like nothing better than to be our interpreter before the Chinese authorities.
And then, before the weeping Zinca, I told my companions all about Kinko, how he had traveled, how I had made his acquaintance on the journey. I told them that if he had defrauded the Transasiatic Company it was thanks to this fraud that he was able to get on to the train at Uzun Ada. And if he had not been in the train we should all have been engulfed in the abyss of the Tjon valley.
And I enlarged on the facts which I alone knew. I had surprised Faruskiar at the very moment he was about to accomplish his crime, but it was Kinko who, at the peril of his life, with coolness and courage superhuman, had thrown on the coals, hung on to the lever of the safety valves, and stopped the train by blowing up the engine.
What an explosion there was of exclamatory ohs and ahs when I had finished my recital, and in a burst of gratitude, somewhat of the theatrical sort, our actor shouted:
“Hurrah for Kinko! He ought to have a medal!”
Until the Son of Heaven accorded this hero a green dragon of some sort, Madame Caterna took Zinca’s hand, drew her to her heart and embraced her—embraced her without being able to restrain her tears. Just think of a love story interrupted at the last chapter!
But we must hasten, and as Caterna says, “all on the scene for the fifth”—the fifth act, in which dramas generally clear themselves up.