Just what happened after that I am unable to say, for I lost consciousness.
I have since learned that all this occurred many hours ago.
I however distinctly remember that my last thought was:
“If I am to die, at any rate Thomas Roch and his secret perish with me—and the pirates of Back Cup will not escape punishment for their crimes.”
As soon as I recover my senses I find myself lying on my bed in my cell, where it appears I have been lying for thirty-six hours.
I am not alone. Engineer Serko is near me. He has attended to me himself, not because he regards me as a friend, I surmise, but as a man from whom indispensable explanations are awaited, and who afterwards can be done away with if necessary.
I am still so weak that I could not walk a step. A little more and I should have been asphyxiated in that narrow compartment of the Sword at the bottom of the lagoon.
Am I in condition to reply to the questions that Engineer Serko is dying to put to me? Yes—but I shall maintain the utmost reserve.
In the first place I wonder what has become of Lieutenant Davon and the crew of the Sword. Did those brave Englishmen perish in the collision? Are they safe and sound like us—for I suppose that Thomas Roch has also survived?
The first question that Engineer Serko puts to me is this:
“Will you explain to me what happened, Mr. Hart?”
Instead of replying it occurs to me to question him myself.
“And Thomas Roch?” I inquire.
“In good health, Mr. Hart.” Then he adds in an imperious tone: “Tell me what occurred!”
“In the first place, tell me what became of the others.”
“What others?” replies Serko, glancing at me savagely.
“Why, those men who threw themselves upon Thomas Roch and me, who gagged, bound, and carried us off and shut us up, I know not where?”
On reflection I had come to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to pretend that I had been surprised before I knew where I was or who my aggressors were.
“You will know what became of them later. But first, tell me how, the thing was done.”
By the threatening tone of his voice, as he for the third time puts this question, I understand the nature of the suspicions entertained of me. Yet to be in the position to accuse me of having had relations with the outside he would have had to get possession of my keg. This he could not have done, seeing that it is in the hands of the Bermudan authorities. The pirates cannot, I am convinced, have a single proof to back up their suspicions.