The Wizard of the Sea/Chapter 20


CHAPTER XX.

THE WRECKS.


When Mont was fully recovered, the negro Number One announced that they were going on a long voyage.

"Massa say him start for, um South Pole," he said. "In one hour we be off, and travel for many week. Travel to the Pole."

In effect, they soon heard the motion of the machinery, and the Searcher began her long submarine cruise.

For about a week they saw nothing of the captain.

This mysterious man shut himself up and sought intercourse with no one.

Every day, for some hours, the panel in their cabin slid back, and they enjoyed the treat of looking at the sea lighted by electricity.

The direction of the Searcher was southeast, and she kept at a depth of a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet.

One day, while the electric ship was stopping to replenish her power, a curious incident happened.

Stump was looking out of the window, and he suddenly exclaimed:

"What is that, sir?"

Everyone went to examine, and a ship dismantled was seen slowly sinking to the bottom.

It had foundered a short time before with all hands.

Several men were lashed to the riggings, and their agonized faces testified to their late sufferings.

A shoal of sharks followed the sinking wreck with distended eyes, anticipating a feast of human flesh.

As the hull passed the window, Mont read her name, which was the Firefly of Savannah.

This was not an isolated case, for they frequently saw wrecks, and remains of wrecks, such as cannons, anchors, chains, and decaying hulls.

"Well, this is a lively existence," exclaimed Mont; "we eat nothing but fish, and see nothing but fish."

"And wrecks," put in Carl.

A heavy step was heard behind them, and all turned round, to see the captain.

He placed his hand upon a map, and exclaimed:

"Do you see this island—Malonon? It is where the gallant French explorer Posterri perished. We are close to it, and, if you please, gentlemen, you shall land and explore it for yourselves."

This was good news.

"But," said the professor, "if I remember rightly, it is inhabited by savages."

"Certainly."

"Shall we not be in danger?"

"I fear nothing," said the captain. "I have braved danger among civilized nations, and I can afford to despise savages. If you do not wish it, however, I will continue my voyage."

"Don't do that, sir," replied Mont. "I'll chance the niggers. Let us land. I know Carl and Stump would like it."

"And you, Mr. Professor?" said the captain.

"I, sir, will go anywhere in the interests of science," replied Homer Woddle, with a nervous tremor in his voice which showed he did not like savages.

The news raised the boys' spirits to the highest pitch.

After confinement on board the Searcher the prospect of going on land was enchanting.

No matter what danger they might encounter they were ready.

Carl whispered that they might have a chance of escaping.

Mont said nothing, but he was of the same opinion.