The rough weather continues, and the squalls are more violent than ever. Is it the state of the sea that delays another campaign against Back Cup? Lieutenant Davon certainly assured me that if his expedition failed, if the Sword did not return to St. George, another attempt under different conditions would be made with a view to breaking up this bandits’ lair. Sooner or later the work of justice must be done, and Back Cup be destroyed, even though I may not survive its destruction.
Ah! why can I not go and breathe, if only for a single instant, the vivifying air outside? Why am I not permitted to cast one glance over the ocean towards the distant horizon of the Bermudas? My whole life is concentrated in one desire: to get through the tunnel in the wall and hide myself among the rocks. Perchance I might be the first to catch sight of the smoke of a squadron heading for the island.
This project, alas! is unrealizable, as sentries are posted day and night at each extremity of the passage. No one can enter it without Engineer Serko’s authorization. Were I to attempt it, I should risk being deprived of my liberty to walk about the cavern, and even worse might happen to me.
Since our last conversation, Engineer Serko’s attitude towards me has undergone a change. His gaze has lost its old-time sarcasm and is distrustful, suspicious, searching and as stern as Ker Karraje’s.
November 17.—This afternoon there was a great commotion in the Beehive, and the men rushed out of their cells with loud cries.
I was reclining on my bed, but immediately rose and hurried out.
All the pirates were making for the passage, in front of which were Ker Karraje, Engineer Serko, Captain Spade, Boatswain Effrondat, Engine-driver Gibson and the Count d’Artigas’ big Malay attendant.
I soon learn the reason for the tumult, for the sentries rush in with shouts of alarm.
Several vessels have been sighted to the northwest—warships steaming at full speed in the direction of Back Cup.
ONLY A FEW MORE HOURS.
What effect this news has upon me, and what emotion it awakens within my soul! The end, I feel, is at hand. May it be such as civilization and humanity are entitled to.
Up to the present I have indited my notes day by day. Henceforward it is imperative that I should inscribe them hour by hour, minute by minute. Who knows but what Thomas Roch’s last secret may be revealed to me and that I shall have time to commit it to paper! Should I die during the attack God grant that the account of the five months I have passed in Back Cup may be found upon my body!
At first Ker Karraje, Engineer Serko, Captain Spade, and several of their companions took up position on the exterior base of the island. What would I not give to be able follow to them, and in the friendly shelter of a rook watch the on-coming warships!