Oh! the horrible mischance! How have I survived it? How is it that my heart is not broken?
A dim light appeared in the depth of the tunnel, about twenty-five yards in front of us. The advancing light could be none other than that, projected through the lookout of Ker Karraje’s submarine boat.
“The tug! The tug!” I exclaimed. “Lieutenant, here is the tug returning to Back Cup!”
“Full speed astern,” ordered the officer, and the Sword drew back just as she was about to enter the tunnel.
One chance remained. The lieutenant had swiftly turned off the light, and it was just possible that we had not been seen by the people in the tug. Perhaps, in the dark waters of the lagoon, we should escape notice, and when the oncoming boat had risen and moored to the jetty, we should be able to slip out unperceived.
We had backed close in to the south side and the Sword was about to stop, but alas, for our hopes! Captain Spade had seen that another submarine boat was about to issue through the tunnel, and he was making preparations to chase us. How could a frail craft like the Sword defend itself against the attacks of Ker Karraje’s powerful machine?
Lieutenant Davon turned to me and said: “Go back to the compartment where Thomas Roch is and shut yourself in. I will close the after-door. There is just a chance that if the tug rams us the water-tight compartments will keep us up.”
After shaking hands with the lieutenant, who was as cool as though we were in no danger, I went forward and rejoined Thomas Roch. I closed the door and awaited the issue in profound darkness.
Then I could feel the desperate efforts made by the Sword to escape from or ram her enemy. I could feel her rushing, gyrating and plunging. Now she would twist to avoid a collision. Now she would rise to the surface, then sink to the bottom of the lagoon. Can any one conceive such a struggle as that in which, like two marine monsters, these machines were engaged in beneath the troubled waters of this inland lake?
A few minutes elapsed, and I began to think that the Sword had eluded the tug and was rushing through the tunnel.
Suddenly there was a collision. The shock was not, it seemed to me, very violent, but I could be under no illusion: the Sword had been struck on her starboard quarter. Perhaps her plates had resisted, and if not, the water would only invade one of her compartments, I thought.
Almost immediately after, however, there was another shock that pushed the Sword with extreme violence. She was raised by the ram of the tug which sawed and ripped its way into her side. Then I could feel her heel over and sink straight down, stern foremost.
Thomas Roch and I were tumbled over violently by. this movement. There was another bump, another ripping sound, and the Sword lay still.