He had fled in order to save himself; he had shown himself humble and timorous upon being approached, believing that it would still be possible to lie out of it. But the paper that he had tried to hide in his mouth was now in the hands of the enemy.... It was useless to pretend longer!...
And he drew himself up proudly like every army man who considers his death certain. The officer of the military caste reappeared, looking haughtily at his unknown pursuers, imploring protection only from the kepis with its band of gold.
Upon discovering Ferragut, he surveyed him fixedly with a glacial and disdainful insolence. His lips also curled with an expression of contempt.
They said nothing, but the captain surmised his soundless words. They were insults. It was the insult of the man of the superior hierarchy to his faithless servant; the pride of the noble official who accuses himself for having trusted in the loyalty of a simple merchant marine.
“Traitor!... Traitor!” his insolent eyes and murmuring, voiceless lips seemed to be saying.
Ulysses became furious before this haughtiness, but his wrath was cold and self-contained on seeing the enemy deprived of defense.
He advanced toward the prisoner, like one of the many who were insulting him, shaking his fist at him. His glance sustained that of the German and he spoke to him in Spanish with a dull voice.
“My son.... My only son was blown to a thousand atoms by the torpedoing of the Californian!”
These words made the spy change expression. His lips separated, emitting a slight exclamation of surprise.
The arrogant light in his pupils faded away. Then he lowered his eyes and soon after hung his head. The vociferating crowd was shoving and carrying him along without taking into consideration the man who had given the alarm and begun the chase.
That very afternoon the Mare Nostrum sailed from Marseilles.
Four months later Captain Ferragut was in Barcelona.
During the interval he had made three trips to Salonica, and on the second had to appear before a naval captain of the army of the Orient. The French officer was informed of his former expeditions for the victualing of the allied troops. He knew his name and looked upon him as does a judge interested in the accused. He had received from Marseilles a long telegram with reference to Ferragut. A spy submitted to military justice was accusing him of having carried supplies to the German submarines.
“How about that, Captain?...”
Ulysses hesitated, looking at the official’s grave face, framed by a grey beard. This man inspired his confidence. He could respond negatively to such questions; it would be difficult for the German to prove his affirmation; but he preferred to tell the truth, with the simplicity of one who does not try to hide his faults, describing himself just as he had been,—blind with lust, dragged down by the amorous artifices of an adventuress.