September 25.—This morning the tug rose from the depth of the lagoon to the surface, and has now run alongside the jetty. The Count d’Artigas and Captain Spade disembark, and the crew set to work to land the provisions—boxes of canned meat, preserves, barrels of wine and spirits, and other things brought by the Ebba, among which are several packages destined for Thomas Roch. The men also land the various sections of Roch’s engines which are discoid in shape.
The inventor watches their operations, and his eyes glisten with eagerness. He seizes one of the sections, examines it, and nods approval. I notice that his joy no longer finds expression in incoherent utterances, that he is completely transformed from what he was while a patient at Healthful House. So much is this the case that I begin to ask myself whether his madness which was asserted to be incurable, has not been radically cured.
At last Thomas Roch embarks in the boat used for crossing the lake and is rowed over to his laboratory. Engineer Serko accompanies him. In an hour’s time the tug’s cargo has all been taken out and transported to the storehouses.
Ker Karraje exchanges a word or two with Engineer Serko and then enters his mansion. Later, in the afternoon, I see them walking up and down in front of the Beehive and talking earnestly together.
Then they enter the new tunnel, followed by Captain Spade. If I could but follow them! If I could but breathe for awhile the bracing air of the Atlantic, of which the interior of Back Cup only receives attenuated puffs, so to speak.
From September 26 to October 10.—Fifteen days have elapsed. Under the directions of Engineer Serko and Thomas Roch the sections of the engines have been fitted together. Then the construction of their supports is begun. These supports are simple trestles, fitted with transverse troughs or grooves of various degrees of inclination, and which could be easily installed on the deck of the Ebba, or even on the platform of the tug, which can be kept on a level with the surface.
Thus Ker Karraje, will be ruler of the seas, with his yacht. No warship, however big, however powerful, will be able to cross the zone of danger, whereas the Ebba will be out of range of its guns. If only my notice were found! If only the existence of this lair of Back Cup were known! Means would soon be found, if not of destroying the place, at least of starving the band into submission!
October 20.—To my extreme surprise I find this morning that the tug has gone away again. I recall that yesterday the elements of the piles were renewed, but I thought it was only to keep them in order. In view of the fact that the outside can now be reached through the new tunnel, and that Thomas Roch has everything he requires, I can only conclude that the tug has gone off on another marauding expedition.