In the field of imaginative literature, Robida's first contribution was the four part, lavishly (450 black and white and colour illustrations) illustrated, near 800 page Voyages très extraordinaires de Saturnin Farandoul dans les 5 ou 6 parties du monde, et dans tous les pays connus et même inconnus de Monsieur Jules Verne (1879). Part I and a small portion of Part II were translated into English and saw publication in the New York-based humor magazine Puck [6(151)-7(163), Jan. 28 - April 21, 1880] under the title Hermesianax Pratt. His Variegated Adventures in all the Countries of the Globe, Including some Unknown to Jules Verne. Some have suggested that the first part of this work may have inspired Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes.
Robida also contributed three illustrated novels of science fiction or romans d'anticipation: Le Vingtième Siècle (1883), La Guerre au Vingtième Siècle, (1887) and Le Vingtième Siècle - La Vie Électrique (1890). A very shy, reserved and straight-laced man, though with a biting wit, Robida died at his home in Neuilly, October 11, 1926.
The fact that a translation appeared in Puck means that it is possible that it was seen by Burroughs.
Cited as source of Tarzan by Lacassin (1982)
|Chapter I.||How Saturnin Farandoul, aged four months and seven days, embarked upon a career of adventure - - His adoptive family take him for an incompetent monkey.|
|Chapter II.||In which we are introduced to La Belle Léocadie -- The Bora-Bora Company for the skimming of the Sunda Islands -- The boar filled with grape-shot.|
|Chapter III.||Siege and blockade -- The heroic conduct of the tortoises of the Mysterious Island -- A terrible stew!|
|Chapter IV.||Captain Nemo's divers -- Lieutenant Mandibul is swallowed by an oyster -- Love in a diving-suit.|
|Chapter V.||How poor Mysora ended up in the aquarium of Valentin Croknuff, an aged but very ardent man of science -- Saturnin Farandoul declares war on England.|
|Chapter VI.||The Conquest of Australia -- Telegrams and Correspondence in the Melbourne Herald -- The great Melbourne Aquarium will not capitulate!|
|Chapter VII||The assault on the Great Aquarium -- The horrible wickedness of the bimane Croknuff! -- The world devoid of happiness; Mysora is no more.|
|Chapter VIII.||The organisation of the Farandoulian Empire -- Biographies of the principal bimane and quadrumane leaders -- In which the great ideas of Saturnin I regarding the regeneration of the world in general, and old Europe in particular, are revealed to the reader.|
|Chapter IX.||The Perfidious Schemes of Perfidious Albion -- Lady Arabella Cardigan, a bimane spy, seduces quadrumane Colonel Makako -- How empires perish!!!|
|Chapter X.||How the bimane generals imprisoned by the English regained their liberty -- Bora-Bora's treasure -- The lamentable fate of La Belle Léocadie.|
THE MONKEY KING
In the mid-Pacific region of the 10th north parallel and 150° west longitude -- roughly that of the Polynesian isles of Pomotou -- the great Ocean, so prolific in storms, belied its name even more than usual on that day. In the completely unsettled sky, masses of purplish-black cloud skittered along the distant horizon at a truly incalculable rate. The waves climbed to heights unknown in our paltry European seas; howling and roaring, they hurled themselves one after another and one upon another, as if that furious sea were mounting an assault upon the furious sky, bursting forth in frightful downpours, beneath whose weight the tallest waves loudly collapsed in whirlwinds of foam.
Alas, a few fragments of the masts and timbers of ships and barrels, floating here and there, indicated that the god of storms would not be returning to his deep caverns with an empty bag. Amidst the debris, however, a peculiar item of wreckage was discernible, sometimes thrust up to the crests of the waves and sometimes disappearing in the hollow valleys between the monstrous billows.
This wreck was simply a cradle, and the cradle in question contained an infant, well-swathed and well-secured. The child was sleeping like a log, apparently finding no difference between the rocking effect of the Ocean and that employed by his nurse.
Hours passed. Miraculously, the cradle had not sunk; the ocean continued to swing it to and fro. The storm had calmed; the sky, clearing little by little, allowed a long line of rocks to become visible upon the horizon. The frail craft, evidently carried by a current, was steering towards an unhoped-for port!
Little by little the coast became more visible, its cliffs outlined, sheltering little creeks where the billows were calmer -- but in order to get that far it was necessary for one to pass, without breaking up, through a chain of coral reefs, upon which the waves broke into cascades of foam.
In the end, the cradle came through and ran aground, still accompanied by fragments of mast. One last roller carried it well up the beach and left it high and dry -- and the brat, abruptly awoken by the cessation of movement, cried out for the first time with all his might.
It was evening. The sun, which had not appeared all day, finally showed through, and, having arrived at the end of its course, prepared to extinguish its extended and glittering orange-yellow rays in the waves of the open sea.
To take advantage of this hour of delicious calm after a stormy day, and also to take a little exercise after the evening meal, an honourable family of monkeys was strolling on the damp beach, admiring the splendours of the setting sun.
The entire natural world was their oyster. They appeared to be enjoying the admirable view with a tranquil proprietary right that no anxiety could trouble. There, as if in a magical looking-glass, all the beauties of the tropics were spread out: all the glorious flowers that the equatorial sun could bring into bloom, marvellous plants, giant trees and a thousand-fold weave of lianas.
Four little monkeys of various heights gambolled on the grass, swinging from descending lianas as they went past, and chasing one another around the coconut palms under the protective eye of their father and mother -- more serious individuals, who were content to mark their joy at the good weather's return by quietly shaking their hindquarters with perfect panache.
The mother, a lovely she-monkey with an elegant figure and a graceful demeanour, carried in her arms a fifth offspring, which she suckled as she walked, with a candour and a dignified serenity that would have tempted the chisel of a Praxiteles.
Suddenly, their tranquillity was disturbed. The father, at the sight of an object extended on the beach, turned two or three somersaults -- a gesture which, among the monkeys of these distant climes, signifies the most colossal astonishment. The mother -- without ceasing to nurse her infant -- and the four little monkeys likewise turned half a dozen simultaneous somersaults before coming to rest on all fours, unnerved. If they were alarmed it was that the object perceived by the monkey was stirring and struggling, desperately twirling its arms and legs, as a crab does when one plays the practical joke of setting it down on its back.
[B&W Illustration p. 1: "Une trouvaille" = "A Find"]
It was our recent acquaintance, the young and charming castaway who, having been awakened by the landing, was giving vent to unfathomable feelings.
Papa Orang-utan -- for it is a family of orang-utans that we are introducing to our readers -- made a cautious circuit of the disquieting object before allowing his family to approach it. Having judged it largely danger-free, he signalled to the mother with a reassuring gesture and showed her the cradle, scratching his nose in a puzzled manner.
What could the unknown animal be which the sea had brought and cast up on the beach? That was what the reunited family appeared to be asking themselves arrayed in a circle around the cradle to discuss the matter. The little ones, full of surprise, had no idea at all, but sought to read the results of their parents' reflections in their faces.
Eventually, the father, taking every possible precaution to avoid being bitten, delicately picked up the little castaway, who was still gesticulating wildly. He plucked the child out of the cradle by one leg and passed him to the she-monkey -- who looked at him for a long time, placing him beside her last-born for comparison, reflected carefully, and showed by a few significant shakes of the head that she considered this new species of monkey greatly inferior in physical beauty to the family of orangs.
The little castaway continued crying, in spite of the antics of the young monkeys -- who, fully reassured by now, wanted to welcome this new comrade into their company.
The she-monkey understood the reason for these cries. Passing her nursling to the father, she took the child and generously offered it her maternal bounty.
What joy for the little castaway! For many hours he had wandered without nourishment on the crests of the waves, tormented by a hunger he could at last appease! He drank so much that, suddenly comfortable again, he ended up falling asleep on the breast of his exotic nurse.
Meanwhile, the little monkeys had been rummaging around in the cradle, to make sure that it did not contain a second example of this peculiar species. They had found nothing there but a kind of bag closely tied with a leather thong. This bag intrigued them enormously at first, but their perplexity was boundless at the sight of the piece of paper that the eldest of the little monkeys drew forth from it.
They turned it over and over without result, then as a last resort passed it to their father. He too, after examining it for a quarter of an hour, could make nothing of the bizarre symbols with which it was covered.
[B&W Illustration p. 3: "Que pouvait être cet animal inconnu" = "What could this unknown animal be"]
Nevertheless, the thing was very simple; let us state forthwith that the bag found in the cradle was a tobacco-pouch, probably the paternal tobacco-pouch, which the unhappy parents had confided to the hazards of the tempest along with their child, at the moment when their ship sank. As for the paper covered in hieroglyphics that had so intrigued the naive orangs, it will clarify for us the status of the young castaway, for it was nothing other than his duly-registered birth certificate.
The infant's name is Fortuné-Gracieux-Saturnin Farandoul. The names of the parents and witnesses are irrelevant to our story, so we shall pass over them in silence, but we must state that this document had further implications: firstly, that Saturnin Farandoul was a French citizen; and secondly, that he was only four months and seven days old. Truly, this was an early start for a career as a castaway.
After mature reflection, Papa Orang-utan evidently came to a decision in the matter of the newly-discovered infant; he made a gesture signifying that five might just as well be six, and got up. The child was adopted; the family, thus augmented, ambled back along the path to their abode.
It was a good night for all concerned. The moon illuminated the tranquil sleep of our hero in the bosom of his adopted family, in the deep forest. The sun rose to find Farandoul perfectly comfortable in his new social estate, and his adoptive parents quite content with their lucky find.
In her hut of branches covered with large banana leaves, the good she-monkey studied her nursling while he feasted greedily upon the banquet offered to his lips by beneficent Nature. In addition to the little monkeys, fascinated by the appearance of this new companion, there was a large crowd in the hut, dominated by she-monkeys.
What astonishment there was on every face! With what curiosity were the least movements of little Farandoul followed! At first, the young she-monkeys could not suppress a thrill of fear when the nursing mother jokingly extended the infant towards them, but soon the gentleness of Farandoul won every one of their hearts, and the entire audience was soon competing for the privilege of loving him up. The hut never emptied; male and female monkeys came from the neighbouring forests carrying gifts of fruit and coconuts, which Farandoul pushed away with his hands and feet in order to thrust himself back upon the quasi-maternal breast.
Outside, Farandoul's foster-father, surrounded by old white-bearded orangs, seemed to be telling the story of his discovery. Perhaps he was giving his report to the authorities; in any case, he saw by their benevolent gestures that the elders approved of his conduct and appeared well pleased with him.
[B&W Illustration p. 5: "La Déclaration aux Autorités" = "Reporting to the authorities"]
Little by little, the fuss caused by the new arrival died down, and life resumed its ordinary course.
If Farandoul had been older, he would have been able to marvel at the patriarchal existence led by the monkeys. Indeed, the happy populations of that fortunate isle, lost in the vastness of the Pacific far distant from the customary shipping routes, was still in the Golden Age! The island was extraordinarily fertile. All the fruits of the earth grew in abundance, lavishly distributed without the least requirement for cultivation. No fearsome wild beasts infested the forests, where even the most inoffensive creatures lived in total security.
The simian race was the pinnacle of the evolutionary scale, dominating by its intelligence the entire natural order of the island. Man was unknown there, never having repressed it with his barbarity or perverted it with his example -- as he has those fallen races of monkeys, condemned to ignominy, which will vegetate forever in the lands inhabited by humankind, unless some monkey of genius arrives one day to effect their return to the purer life of ancient times, in some wilderness inaccessible to man.
These monkeys belonged to a race intermediate between the Orang-utans and Chimpanzees. Aggregated in tribes, whose villages were composed of about fifty huts made of small branches, they lived quite happily. Each family enjoyed the most complete individual liberty, and where matters of communal interest were concerned they looked to the elders, who often met in council at the foot of a giant eucalyptus, in the branches of which the young ones frolicked without taking part in the discussions.
It must be said that everyone was full of respect for these worthy ancients, and that the smart young monkeys would never allow themselves to jump on their backs or to grab their tails in passing, without previous authorization.
Farandoul had spent a year with the family. He rolled in the grass with his foster-brothers; he played all the exciting games with them that young monkeys play -- but, to the great astonishment of his parents, he remained remarkably inept in leaping about, and adamantly refused to climb coconut palms.
Such timidity in a healthy youth of eighteen months worried the gallant monkeys exceedingly. Although his brothers had set him an excellent example by means of the most audacious ascensions and aerial somersaults, Farandoul never got the hang of gymnastics. As he grew apace into a sturdy little chap, the anxiety of his parents increased. It became a veritable anguish as they saw that he was quite incapable of following them when the family went off on expeditions in search of amusement, hurling themselves about in the crowns of tall trees and forming troupes of acrobats to swing on the natural see-saws generously provided by the coconut palms. Farandoul's brothers made as many footholds as possible for him and ran away into the trees in order to invite him to climb after them, but he remained at the foot of the trees, astonished and angry because he was unable to do as they did.
Farandoul's foster-mother, who loved him at least as much as her other children, and perhaps a little more -- for he was undoubtedly the weakest -- did not know what to do to develop the gymnastic talent that must, she believed, exist in him as in every other monkey. Sometimes, while suspended by the tail from the lower branches of a trees, she would throw herself into space and swing there, calling to Saturnin with little reproachful cries; on other occasions, she turned a thousand somersaults, walked on her hands, made him climb up on her back, and clambered up into the branches with him -- but in the former instances, Saturnin Farandoul stayed down below, deaf to her appeals, and in the latter, he clung fearfully to his mother's fur, refusing to let go. What a torment he was to those brave orangs!
[B&W Illustration p. 7: "Farandoul se cramponnait à la fourrure de sa mamam" = "Farandoul clung to his foster-mother's fur"]
[Was Colour Illustration 2e LIV: "Farandoul et sa nourrice" = "Farandoul and his foster-mother"]
Soon, this preoccupation became perpetual, a chronic worry. Farandoul continued to grow without becoming any more agile. His foster-father -- who, since his lucky find, had become one of the most respected monkeys on the island -- held frequent consultations with the elders -- the venerable monkeys who, as we have said, held their assemblies under the largest eucalyptus in the village. It was obvious that Saturnin Farandoul was the subject of these conversations. These monkeys frequently summoned him, placed their hand on his head, watched him attentively, made him walk and run, consulted one another, scratched themselves, shook their heads, and finally appeared unable to understand it at all.
One day, the astonished Farandoul saw his father come back from a longer-than-usual trip with a very old monkey whom he did not recognise; he was wrinkled and bent over, with a great white beard framing his majestic face and bald patches in his coat of long white hair. This ancient, who might easily have been a hundred years old, came from a distant part of the island to which Farandoul's foster-father had gone in order to consult him; he obviously enjoyed a great reputation for wisdom, because all the monkeys in the vicinity hurried forth in a crowd, with lavish gestures of respect, eager to assist him in his tottering walk, while the she-monkeys showed him off to their children from a distance. Having been greeted by the elders at the entrance to the village, the old monkey sat down at the foot of the eucalyptus, in the middle of the greatest gathering of monkeys that Farandoul had ever seen.
[B&W Illustration p. 11: "En famille" = "Family life"]
Saturnin Farandoul seemed, along with the old monkey, to be the object of everyone's attention; his foster-father came to look for him among the urchins with whom he was rolling in the grass, in order to bring him to the ancient, who considered him carefully from every angle.
The old monkey sat the child on his knee, then stood him up again and flexed all the joints of his arms and legs. All of them were working perfectly, which seemed to amaze the old fellow. He began again, with the same result; seeing this, he plunged into a long meditation from which he roused himself only to recommence his examination. Then he struck his forehead, as if he were proclaiming to himself some triumphant Eureka, and called for one of Farandoul's young brothers. He placed the two of them side by side, with their backs to the crowd. By this means, he showed that the hindquarters of the little monkey were equipped with a magnificent caudal appendage: a flamboyant device, perfectly designed for aerial gymnastics -- the fifth hand which wonderful Nature had generously granted to the species -- of which poor Farandoul could not display the slightest indication.
[B&W Illustration p. 13: "La Consultation" = "The consultation"]
They all lifted their hands to the heavens then; the most distant, who were unable to see anything, drew closer, clamouring to know the reason for this exclamatory gesture. The tribal elders restored order, debating with the most astounded by means of grandiose gestures, and in the end, all the monkeys formed a procession to file past little Farandoul -- or, rather, behind him -- pausing one by one to examine him and to take stock of Nature's fatal forgetfulness. A few passed comment, seemingly enquiring as to whether the condition was incurable; the response of the old white monkey was to make them see that that one could not reasonably found the least hope on the slightest of appearances. However, at an order which he gave after further reflection, several monkeys took themselves off into the rocks while the assembly waited anxiously. After a few minutes, they came back bearing bundles of herbs, which were heaped up between two stones, along with large slugs and snails. An uncommonly dexterous she-monkey made a compress out of it, and pressed it forcefully upon the deficient part of the stupefied Farandoul's body. In spite of his cries of rage, the compress was so firmly attached that the poor little chap, so cruelly afflicted, was no longer able to lie down in comfort.
A light snack was prepared for the venerable monkey, who took nothing but half a dozen coconuts. After an hour's rest in the shade of the eucalyptus, during which he offered a few more items of advice on the teething troubles of little monkeys, the old fellow went back with Farandoul's foster-father to the path that led to his hermitage. Each and everyone separated and returned to their usual occupations.
For the first time, Farandoul went in search of solitude, walking alone on the beach, still wearing his compress, which continued to cause him considerable distress.
The medication having brought about no alteration in the state of things, the compress was not renewed after eight days. The poor she-monkey who was Saturnin Farandoul's adoptive mother tried again, in secret, to rub him with an unguent given to her by some of her cronies, but that remedy worked no better.
The months and the seasons flew past, and the inferiority of Saturnin Farandoul was further accentuated. He was a tall, strong and well-set lad, lithe and agile, skilful in all his bodily exercises, who could easily have got the better of four strong lads of his age -- but by comparison with his foster-brothers, these advantages amounted to nothing, and Farandoul had to admit that he was beaten.
Sometimes, his brothers would lie in wait for him while he walked, hidden in the trees, and at the moment when poor Saturnin Farandoul passed by, sucking on a sugar cane without an evil thought in his head, the playful band would form a chain, the strongest of them suspended by the tail from some high branch, the others clinging to one another as the last in line seized Farandoul under the arms without warning and drew him upwards. They would swing him in the air then, without a care for the kicks that he distributed so liberally, until the entire troop allowed themselves to fall upon the grass.
[B&W Illustration p. 12: "Jeux innocents" = "Innocent games"]
Little by little, though, these games petered out. In growing older, his brothers came to understand that it was unkind to abuse their physical advantages and to remind their young brother continually of his inferiority. To the contrary, they took it upon themselves to help him forget, taking every precaution, and by means of conventional fraternal attentions. But it was too late! Farandoul's intelligence understood the reason for this consideration, and it served only to increase his humiliation. Besides, as he saw very clearly, the entire tribe regarded him with an offensive attitude of commiseration. Pity was all too evident in every eye.
The good she-monkey who was his adoptive mother loved him even more tenderly because she believed that he was destined for an unhappy, and probably solitary, life. With the future in mind, she began to worry a great deal about her son's prospects. Would he ever find a mate? How would he be received by the young she-monkeys of the village, when he began to think about them? And if his heart spoke, how painful it would be for him if his beloved refused his hand, and if he subsequently saw her in another's arms! What misery awaited him! What dramas, perhaps....
All these considerations saddened the hearts of Saturnin Farandoul's parents. Nor were the brains of the brave monkeys the only ones haunted by such anxieties; Farandoul was troubled too. Indeed, Farandoul had seen how different he was from his brothers and the other young monkeys of the tribe. He had given himself a crick in the neck staring at his reflection in the clear water of a spring, but he had seen nothing to allow the least hope that he might one day possess the same triumphant appendage as those he truly believed to be his blood-brothers.
Poor Saturnin Farandoul believed himself irredeemably deformed. From the day of that discovery he dreamed of running away, exiling himself far from those he loved, in order to hide his sorrow and humiliation. For weeks and months he wandered the island's beaches in the vague hope of finding some means of putting this plan into operation.
Finally, on the day after a tropical storm, he found a huge coconut-palm uprooted, lying on the shore -- the means was found! Early the following day, having embraced the good monkey and the gentle she-monkey who had treated him with such affection for years, Saturnin Farandoul went with his five brothers to the beach where the coconut-palm rested. As if it were a game, he bid them push the tree-trunk to the water.
When the moment of embarkation drew near, the resolute Farandoul embraced his brothers tenderly but rapidly, and leapt on to the coconut palm as it floated away from the shore. The five brothers let loose five cries of horror, and lifted five pairs of arms despairingly into the air. The poor monkeys understood that he was already too far away to be recaptured; while they ran like maniacs along the shore, other monkeys hurried in response to their cries.
[B&W Illustration p. 15: "Le Cocotier s'éloigna du rivage" = "The coconut palm floated away from the shore"]
Farandoul, profoundly moved by their distress, recognised his parents, but turned his head and his weeping eyes towards the open sea. He used a branch to steer the coconut-palm adroitly through the reefs, and passed through the barrier without capsizing. The cries of the poor monkeys could barely be heard, when the leaves of the palm tree caught the strengthening breeze and it was carried out to sea.
Some hours later, the isle of monkeys had disappeared and the coconut-palm was cruising in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Saturnin Farandoul, tranquilly seated at the junction of two branches, felt an excitement growing within him as the instincts of a navigator awoke.
His resources consisted of several scores of coconuts still suspended from the tree, and the sun darted its rays upon his naked body; having always lived among monkeys, believing himself to be a monkey, he had no knowledge whatsoever of clothing. Ever since his arrival on the isle, however, he had worn around his neck the tobacco-pouch containing his birth certificate; his adoptive parents had attached it there without really knowing why, and Farandoul had become accustomed to wearing it.
[B&W Illustration p. 16: No title (the old monkey patriarch)]
[B&W Illustration p. 17: "Le capitaine Lastic et le lieutenant Mandibul" = "Captain Lastic and Lieutenant Mandibul"]
"Captain Lastic -- look there, out to the south-south-east!"
"Tonnerre d'Honfleur, Lieutenant Mandibul, I've been watching it for the last half-hour through my damn telescope!"
"Well, what do you think, Captain Lastic?"
"Tonnerre d'Honfleur may have my tongue, Lieutenant Mandibul, if it isn't a castaway!"
"And it's moving, Captain Lastic!"
"Tonnerre d'Honfleur, it's a tree, Lieutenant Mandibul, and there's someone on it."
This short dialogue took place on the quarter-deck of La Belle Léocadie, a fine three-master out of Le Havre, between the vessel's captain and first lieutenant. Having carried a cargo of pianos, dresses and confections for the young women of the town of Auckland, the capital of the British colony of New Zealand, La Belle Léocadie was now hastening back to her port of origin with a cargo of hides.
Captain Lastic was a man of prompt resolution; two minutes after having given his telescope to Lieutenant Mandibul, he had given the command to heave to, and oarsmen were steering a long-boat towards our hero's coconut-palm.
Saturnin Farandoul opened his eyes very wide at the sight of the distant vessel, which he took for a terrible monster; even so, he did not attempt to flee and awaited developments.
The long-boat took no more than half an hour to reach him; the appearance of the men who were aboard it plunged Saturnin into a stupor. They bore no more than the remotest resemblance to the monkeys of his island and their faces did not seem to him to be imprinted with the same moral quality. Saturnin was by no means calm, but he stoically presented a smiling face to these unfamiliar monkeys.
"Tonnerre d'Honfleur, what are you doing there?" said Lieutenant Mandibul, who was in command of the long-boat and judged it necessary to his dignity to employ his captain's oaths while standing in for him.
Saturnin had never heard a human voice; he did not understand this greeting at all, and it seemed to him less harmonious than the little monkey cries of his family.
"Are you deaf?" the lieutenant demanded once more.
Saturnin made no more response to this speech than the other, but took it for an invitation and leapt aboard the long-boat, in a fashion that astonished the sailors.
The long-boat turned about and set a course for the ship. The lieutenant addressed no further questions to young Saturnin; that was, after all, the captain's business. Aboard La Belle Léocadie every eye was fixed on the long-boat. Captain Lastic did not lower his telescope until it was no more than a few cables distant.
Saturnin was the first to clamber up on to the bridge, in response to a gesture from the lieutenant. He did so with a single motion that nearly caused the captain -- who had never witnessed such agility -- to fall over.
"Tonnerre d'Honfleur, little porpoise, have you no manners? I'm Captain Lastic!"
The child's only response was a smile. All the sailors surrounded him, and Lieutenant Mandibul admitted that he had not been able to get a word out of the castaway. Saturnin stared raptly, still plunged in the most profound stupefaction. Suddenly, he walked around the captain, then around the lieutenant, then around each of the crewmen. One of the men was up on the mizzen-mast; Saturnin grabbed a rope without hesitation and was level with the topsail in the blink of an eye.
[B&W Illustration p. 19: "Saturnin s'élança dans la mÉture" = "Saturnin leapt into the rigging"]
The top-man had seen him coming, but could not understand why the naked castaway was suddenly climbing up towards him. Saturnin went around him just as he had gone around the others, then let loose a loud cry and slid back down to the bridge. O joy! O happiness! he thought. This new species of monkey was constituted almost as he was himself. No more humiliation! No more shame! In an eruption of delirious joy, Saturnin made several circuits of the ship, turning head over heels. With one last bound he jumped over the flabbergasted sailors and landed on his feet in front of the captain, around whom he walked once more, just to be sure.
"What's all this, Tonnerre d'Honfl...?" cried the captain, in alarm.
The ecstatic Saturnin naturally made no reply.
"Well then, Tonnerre d'Honfleur," the captain continued," will you tell us who you are!"
"Perhaps the porpoise doesn't understand French," suggested the lieutenant.
"Let's try English, then," said the captain, taking Saturnin by the arms. "What is your name?"
"Was ist ihre name? Siete Italiano? Habla usted espa¤ola? Away with you, then, Tonnerre d'Honfleur," the captain expostulated, having exhausted his linguistic resources, "have you fallen from the moon?"
Saturnin Farandoul tried to make sense of all these novel sounds. As far as he could recall, no human voice had ever struck his ear; the language of monkeys was the only one he understood.
"Look in that tobacco pouch around his neck," the lieutenant suggested.
The captain, who had not previously noticed it, took the pouch. "He has papers on him," he said. "Let's see....ah! He's French, born in Bordeaux." The captain stopped short. "A thousand million Tonnerres d'Honfleur!" he cried, seizing the child by the arms. "Your name is Saturnin Farandoul, my lad, and you're the son of poor Barnabé Farandoul, a captain like me, lost at sea at least ten years ago!"
"Impossible!" said Lieutenant Mandibul.
"See for yourself, lieutenant -- here's the porpoise's birth certificate. He's now eleven and a half years old."
"I'd have said at least fifteen, captain."
"Me too -- the porpoise hasn't suffered for lack of a nurse, Tonnerre d'Honfleur! What a seaman he'd make! I'll adopt you, my boy!"
And Saturnin Farandoul, whose exact age we now know, entered into a new phase of his life. How he succeeded, by means of vivid and animated pantomime, in communicating his history to Captain Lastic we cannot hope to explain; even so, the captain was soon acquainted with the most trivial details of that existence, troubled -- from poor Farandoul's viewpoint -- only by a humiliating infirmity of constitution.
There were a few books aboard La Belle Léocadie. Some engravings of monkeys in an account of ocean voyages were shown to Farandoul, who covered them with tender kisses.
"Let's make shift to be a man, my son -- there'll be time later to bid them good-day, Tonnerre d'Honfleur!" So saying, the good captain cut out the monkeys and pasted them himself to the wall of the little cabin he had given to Farandoul, not far from his own. Our hero was thus able to have the image of his parents on their beach constantly before his eyes, knowing that they might perhaps still be weeping, mourning their poor exile.
Farandoul had a good deal of trouble getting used to the clothes worn by civilized men. He was by no means elegantly turned out during the early days, when he wore his jacket in place of his trousers and his trousers in place of his jacket. As he wished to make himself agreeable to Captain Lastic, he soon managed to make himself presentable.
In addition, he made rapid progress in the study of languages. With sailors of every nationality around him, Farandoul learned French, English, Spanish, Malay, Chinese and Breton all at the same time.
Captain Lastic never left off telling Lieutenant Mandibul how pleased he was. "Tonnerre d'Honfleur, Lieutenant Mandibul, what a seaman! This porpoise is a charming young man. He slides down a rope in two ticks, from the royal to the topgallant -- he could give pointers to the finest seaman in the merchant marine. That boy will do me great honour, Lieutenant Mandibul!"
Indeed, although Farandoul had been obliged to lower the flag before the agility of his foster-brothers on the isle of monkeys, his superiority to the sailors aboard La Belle Léocadie was obvious. None could compare with him in the feats of wild gymnastics that he performed on the topmasts. The masts reminded him of the coconut-palms to which he had been born -- very nearly -- and his greatest pleasure was to swing in the breeze from the crow's nest on the highest mast.
No one who caught sight of Saturnin Farandoul five years after these events would have been able to recognise the monkeys' foundling in the young man with the thin moustache, the intelligent face and the forceful gestures walking on the poop-deck of La Belle Léocadie, in the company of Captain Lastic and Lieutenant Mandibul -- both of whom had aged a little. The benefits of education and civilization had converted the unsuccessful ape of other days into a superior human being! From time to time, Saturnin still thought of his adoptive parents with a certain tenderness,but his mind was fully engaged at present with navigation and commerce.
For five years he had sailed with La Belle Léocadie, carrying clocks, leather gloves and crinolines to the Sandwich Islands, champagne and parasols to the Indies, footwear, haberdashery and perfumery to Chile, returning with cargoes of logwood for the wine-merchants of Bordeaux -- teak, rosewood, ebony and so on. He who had believed during his early youth that the world was bounded by the horizons of his island, with monkeys for all humanity, now found the entire universe quite small. He had already sailed the seas of every quarter of the globe, set foot on every continent, relaxed on many an isle.
Captain Lastic had nothing but praise for his adoptive son. Farandoul had never caused him the slightest trouble. He had been obliged on one occasion to bail him out of Liverpool jail, where he had been committed after an instant's forgetfulness, but that peccadillo had only warmed the captain's heart. The incident had taken place at the Liverpool Museum of Natural History, where Saturnin Farandoul, at the sight of a stuffed monkey, had been unable to restrain his sorrow and anger. He had thrown himself upon the terrified curators with such fury that they had only been torn from his hands in a considerably damaged state.
[B&W Illustration p. 21: "L'affaire de Liverpool" = "The incident in Liverpool"]
At present, La Belle Léocadie, out of Saigon bound for New South Wales, was about to enter the Celebes Sea, passing through the Sulu Isles. Captain Lastic was untroubled. There was nothing to fear on the part of the elements; the sea and sky were calm and everything was set fair for a pleasant voyage. These latitudes were said to be infested with pirates, but Captain Lastic -- who had never encountered any -- did not believe a word of any tale of sea-raiders.
"Pirates! Tonnerre d'Honfleur, Lieutenant Mandibul!" Captain Lastic often said. "It's been fifty years since the last one was hanged. Then again, if there were any left, I wouldn't be sorry to see a few!"
Alas, this wish was to be granted much sooner than the poor captain imagined! That same night, profiting from a moonless sky, Malay canoes came alongside without the slightest noise or splashing sound alerting the sailors on La Belle Léocadie. Were the men on watch asleep, or lost in seductive memories of their recent voyage to Tahiti? At any rate, they did not wake up again once the krises of the Malays had done their work.
[B&W Illustration p. 23: "Des pirogues malaises abordèrent le navire" = "Malay canoes came alongside the ship"]
Still without making the slightest noise, the pirates overran the ship. Captain Lastic woke up, but only to find himself in the hands of the Malays, trussed up so tightly that he was unable to lift a finger. Lieutenant Mandibul, Saturnin Farandoul and the remainder of the fifteen-man crew were also tied up like parcels.
It was a sad moment.
The pirates came and went on the bridge. In the captain's cabin, two or three chiefs with atrociously grim faces discussed what had to be done. Poor Captain Lastic, who had some slight acquaintance with the Malay language, was anxious to know whether the crew would be massacred immediately or on the following day, when the ship was brought to land. He understood enough to know that the Malays were steering the ship towards Bassilan, one of the Sulu Islands, which was only a few leagues distant.
At dawn, Bassilan came within view; the pirates, who were passable seamen, dropped anchor on a sandy sea-bed a few cables from a hazardous rocky coast. A colossal racket then rose up on the ship as fifty or so sinister-looking villains occupied themselves with unloading La Belle Léocadie and transferring their booty to the island. The island's interior, thickly wooded and teeming with life, seemed very pleasant. Even so, Saturnin had no intention whatsoever of admiring the scenery; the pirates had deposited their prisoners on a tall rock, atop which they could follow the plundering of the ship.
The sun rising above the horizon reminded the corsairs that it was nearly time for breakfast. The fine wines of Captain Lastic's store-room had already furnished the occasion with frequent libations; on their final trip, each pirate carried the greatest possible number of bottles, and the orgy began -- much to Captain Lastic's distress.
[B&W Illustration p. 29: "L'orgie commença" = "The orgy began"]
"Let it go," said Saturnin Farandoul. "Perhaps it will be our salvation."
"Tonnerre d'Honfleur! It breaks my heart, all the same! Such excellent cognac!"
What rogues these pirates were! Beards of every colour, eyebrows and noses of every possible shape! Frightful bandit faces tanned by the tropical sun! And what walking arsenals! Pistols of every calibre and every kind in their belts -- operated by flintlocks, matchlocks, firing-pins -- and daggers of every dimension in their packs, some of them straight-bladed, others twisted like flames, some toothed like saws and nearly all of them poisoned. As they walked, these sea-rovers made a clanking noise that was exceedingly satisfying to their ears.
The three chiefs, naturally, possessed the most complicated and the most tortuous arsenals of all, and therefore cut the most rascally dash. By the same token, they had the right to the finest liqueurs of all, and did not stint themselves in the least.
It must be said that these sinister corsairs were known and famed throughout the Sunda islands. The first, the celebrated Bora-Bora, had exploited the troubled seas for many long years, ravaging the archipelagos, seizing ships, massacring their crews and -- the last and most important part of the operation -- finding advantageous means of selling the produce of what he called his business, in Java, Borneo and Sumatra. The other two, Sibocco and Bumbaya, were his lieutenants; they had learned their trade in his school and knew no better way to balance their mercantile accounts than by cutting off the heads of tradesmen.
[Colour Illustration 4e LIV.: "Le pirate Bora- Bora et ses lieutenants" = "The pirate Bora-Bora and his lieutenants"]
Thirst satisfied gives rise to thoughts of food; soon Bora-Bora was hungry. The individual who seemed to be the robber-band's chief cook was given orders to prepare a meal. By way of hors-d'ouvres, they began to make free with the provisions of La Belle Léocadie, while the cook busied himself with putting an enormous wild boar, killed that same morning by one of the Malays, on a roasting-spit.
The cook devoted five relatively tranquil minutes to this serious occupation, but became distracted thereafter, directing envious looks towards his fifty comrades -- who, forming a great circle around the fire over which the boar was cooking, were avidly emptying Captain Lastic's beloved bottles. An idea sprang up in that cranium bronzed by the Pacific sun; in order to have his share of the liquid nourishment, it was only necessary that he should be replaced in his kitchen by one of the prisoners. Taking up an immense cutlass, the cook made his way towards the mariners -- who thought, seeing him approach, that their sacrificial hour had come.
With mighty kicks, the cook knocked several sailors aside in order to get to Saturnin Farandoul, whose bonds he cut before telling him what was required of him.
[B&W Illustration p. 27: "Le maĆtre coq" = "The master-cook"]
"By all means, with pleasure!" said our smiling hero. And the two men made their way back to the feast.
Everything was going well. The gaiety of the honourable assembly had reached its highest pitch. Two or three pirates had already been moved by the heat of debate to inadvertently bury their well-sharpened krises in the bellies of their neighbours. Paying no heed to such mere bagatelles, the cook threw himself upon the bottles of spirits, determined to catch up with his fellows.
[B&W Illustration p. 1: "Une trouvaille" = "A Find"]
Standing before the fire, Farandoul took stock of the situation. Twenty metres away from the pirates their more cumbersome weapons -- rifles, pistols and yatagans -- were deposited, along with numerous cartridge-pouches, powder-horns and boxes of bullets. That was all Farandoul required -- he had his plan. He turned the boar on its spit, and then -- pretending to need firewood -- left the circle and made his way towards the pirates' weapons.
His companions followed his every move from a distance, believing that he had gone to seize as many sabres as he could and would make haste to cut their bonds. Not at all. Saturnin Farandoul gathered wood and foliage, dexterously hid some cartridge-pouches and boxes of bullets among the leaves, and returned to the boar.
Not a single pirate had bothered to budge.
Saturnin had plenty of time to make the boar's body cavity into a magnificent infernal machine: underneath, the powder on a bed of dry leaves; on top, the bags of bullets, augmented by pebbles gathered from around the fire. A fuse taken from a firearm completed the equipment of the bomb.
When everything was ready, Saturnin let the end of the fuse fall into the fire, blew on it to liven the flame and moved away from the group unhurriedly.
There was not long to wait.
The cook, realising that his replacement was no longer to be seen, got up and brandished his kris at the boar; he was just bending over to ascertain the progress of the roast when a jet of flame shot out of the animal.
A frightful detonation rang out. The infernal machine had exploded.
[B&W Illustration p. 1: "L'explosion" = "The explosion"]
No more boar; no more cook! The first was in shreds, the second had had his head blown off. Twenty pirates were writhing on the ground; the bullets and pebbles with which Farandoul had charged his Saint Barbara boar had struck to the right and the left, as if they were a blast of grape-shot, smashing arms and legs, drilling holes in chests, and bursting eyeballs in their sockets.
With lightning rapidity, Farandoul threw himself towards his companions, gathering up an armful of weapons as he went. With fifteen thrusts of a dagger he freed them from their bonds. In no time at all they were armed, and under Farandoul's direction they fell upon the terrified pirates before the brigands were able to collect themselves.
What a fine spectacle it was! Those who had been spared by the grape-shot, or who only had small pebbles embedded in their bodies, snatched up their famous blades and defended themselves like demons! But how could they resist brave mariners who had their revenge to take?
[B&W Illustration p. 32: No title]
Within two minutes, twenty-five pirates were strewn about the sand, and the rest were fleeing into the island's interior like vultures scattered from their prey.
Some forty or forty-five Malays were out of the fight, but the crew of La Belle Léocadie had, alas, to mourn the loss of their chief. The bold Captain Lastic, after having personally brought down two Malays, had been run through by the poisoned kris of the pirate Bumbaya!
Captain Lastic managed one last "Tonnerre d'Honfleur!" as he gave up the ghost, while Saturnin perforated the hideous Bumbaya in his turn.
There was no time to give vent to their anguish; Saturnin had heard the pirate chief Bora-Bora complain about the lateness of a company of his followers, whose return he was expecting at any moment. About fifteen corsairs had fled, Bora-Bora himself among them; they would be able to return in force to crush the mariners. Saturnin therefore made haste to re-embark in order to get away from the fatal island. All the weapons were gathered up; Captain Lastic's body was taken aboard the three-master, and the anchor was raised as soon as the pirates' barques had been scuttled.
Just in time! Hundreds of men were descending upon the beach, frantically hurling spears and firing rifles.
La Belle Léocadie sent forth a blast of grape-shot from its only cannon before her final departure.
As soon as they were at sea, the mariners rendered their final duty to poor Captain Lastic. His command should rightfully have reverted to Lieutenant Mandibul, but the lieutenant, overcome by emotion, declared that Saturnin Farandoul having displayed the very finest qualities during the affair and having saved all their lives; he thought that they could do no better than to appoint him their captain -- as for himself, he intended to continue as second-in-command, under the heroic Farandoul.
The crew applauded.
Farandoul was now captain of La Belle Léocadie; moreover, Captain Lastic, the owner of the three-master, had made him his heir. Everything, therefore, worked out for the best; in honour of poor Lastic, a number of pirates who were found dead drunk in the steward's room were hanged.
The sea was calm; this time, the crew exercised the utmost vigilance.
Still weeping for the poor captain, Saturnin Farandoul remembered that at the end of the battle, he had seized the pirate chief Bora-Bora by the belt, and was about to cleave his skull when the belt had broken, remaining in his hand while Bora-Bora fled. He had kept the belt without bothering to examine it, but he was now curious to do so, in company with Lieutenant Mandibul.
The pockets sewn into the belt's inner surface were stuffed with papers; some seemed to be business documents covered with figures, statements of account and contracts; others seemed even more interesting to Captain Saturnin Farandoul. He studied them carefully, and thanks to his knowledge of the Malay language he eventually understood that he had in his hands a genuine deed of incorporation establishing, under the trade name Bora-Bora & Co., a Company for the Skimming of the Sunda Islands! This company was financed by the Malay merchants of Borneo, charged with the disposal of goods and the investment of profits. All the documents were in order; Bora-Bora had a warrant.
Saturnin Farandoul could read the details of operations recorded on a day-to-day basis, but the document which made him leap to his feet was some sort of current account containing a list of the receipts and savings of Bora-Bora & Co. The total shown was fifty-four million "coins" -- leaving unspecified whether these were gold, silver or copper -- and these savings were deposited in a bank in Borneo.
Farandoul assembled the crew of La Belle Léocadie and told them what the documents were. They all cheered enthusiastically.
"Friends, these riches are ours, by right of conquest! Everyone shall have a share in the prize. Set sail for Borneo! But we'll have to keep a weather-eye open; Bora-Bora isn't dead, and he'll be looking to overtake us!"
Sailing towards Borneo, La Belle Léocadie had no unfortunate encounters. She gave a wide berth to all the islands and guarded against the approach of Malay canoes which appeared to be standing off from her in the channel between the Bonggi islands and the north tip of Borneo. As soon as she lay at anchor, Farandoul went ashore with Lieutenant Mandibul, both of them heavily armed, and made for the pirates' bank.
Without offering any explanations, Farandoul laid before the eyes of the crooked banker -- a shifty-looking individual -- the deed of incorporation of Bora-Bora & Co and the pass-book for the current account.
The banker went slightly pale, but did not manifest any surprise.
"Have you the funds?" Farandoul demanded.
"No bank, however well fortified, ever has fifty-four million coins in its coffers," the banker replied, evasively.
"I'll give you until tomorrow," Farandoul said.
"Impossible, Sire! Besides, we must have the signature of my friend Bora-Bora, the company's chief executive. He should have told you that when he sent you to collect...."
"He didn't send us. We're the ones in control of the business...."
"Ventre de phoque, you'll settle up, you old villain!" cried the conciliatory Mandibul.
"No signature, no money," declared the banker, flatly.
"In that case, we'll take it to court," Farandoul calmly replied. And that same day, the suit was launched, under the auspices of the Bornean authorities. Farandoul was worried. Evidently, Bora-Bora had warned the banker; perhaps he was in Borneo himself, lying in wait for an opportunity to get his hands on La Belle Léocadie again. They had to keep their eyes open, as Mandibul put it.
The Léocadie's sailors, knowing that they had to watch over their fortune, were on their guard -- but what could they do if they were attacked some day and overwhelmed by superior forces?
Farandoul understood that the case might drag on for a long time. Justice in the Sultanate of Borneo might perhaps be corrupted, the pirates having friends and accomplices -- and who could tell whether the sultan might not be glad to appropriate the cash-box himself, in order to settle the case? He judged it politic to recruit to his interests a man who was all-powerful in the sultan's court. This person, for a modest commission of twenty per cent, committed himself to watch over the case and to do everything that circumstances permitted to favour the interests of La Belle Léocadie. He made no secret of the fact that the thing might be long-drawn-out, and ended up by advising Farandoul to make himself scarce during the negotiations. Farandoul appreciated the soundness of this advice, and after having given power of attorney to his agent, he set sail on a clear night.
"Friends," Captain Farandoul said to his sailors, "we're taking a holiday; we'll come back again when the case has reached a successful conclusion."
Captain Farandoul's intention was to leave those hostile latitudes and to sail via the sea of Java, the Banda Sea and the Torres Strait towards the isles of Polynesia. He thought of the isle where he had spent his infancy, and said to himself that since Providence had given him the leisure-time, he could not employ it better than by searching for his adoptive family. The late lamented Captain Lastic had often told him that he had picked him up not far from the Tongan archipelago, and it was to that region that Farandoul wanted to direct his research. He told himself that it was impossible that he would be unable to rediscover his island -- in the absence of any other indicator his heart would serve as his compass.
In the meantime, a vigilant watch was kept -- but there was no trace of pirates on the horizon.
When La Belle Léocadie had passed between the New Hebrides and the Solomon islands, and set a new heading due east, Farandoul, thinking that there was nothing more to fear, gave himself over entirely to his search. A course was set for every island sighted by the lookout, at least until it was found to be inhabited. Thus it was that one day, La Belle Léocadie arrived at an island that was absolutely deserted, and not marked on the map. As with the Isle of Monkeys, its shores were defended by a barrier reef, but when that barrier was crossed the sea was absolutely calm, permitting the anchor to be lowered in perfect safety.
The rocky cliffs of the coastline were interrupted by beaches where the coconut-palms descended as far as the sands. Beyond the palms were fleecy hills covered with the most luxurious vegetation; an immense virginal forest covered the island as far as the eye could see, save for the upper slopes of a volcanic peak, which projected 250 metres above sea-level. A narrow river snaked through the woods, its limpid and murmurous waters gushing out into the ocean, on a beach of the finest sand. All around the island, within a few metres of the shore, the terrain became precipitate, as if the isle itself were merely the summit of a mountain emerging from the waves.
The steepness of the sea-bed allowed La Belle Léocadie to drop anchor very close to the shore. It also gave Farandoul the idea of profiting from the tranquil harbour and the resources that the hospitable coast was sure to furnish,in order to make a few necessary repairs to the three-master.
The ship was solidly established on the beach, and the caulkers and carpenters set to work under the direction of Lieutenant Mandibul. Saturnin Farandoul and the rest of the crew devoted themselves to the exploration of the island. Saturnin, though finding that its flora was very similar to that of the Isle of Monkeys, had quickly recognised that it could not be the place where he had spent his infancy. Although there were certain points of resemblance in its general configuration, as seen from a distance, the vague similarities disappeared as soon as they passed through the rocks.
The island seemed to be uninhabited; no tribes of monkeys haunted the forest. Other animals -- including kangaroos and opossums -- hopped away into the undergrowth, and innumerable tortoises of giant proportions were walking slowly along the river banks. These tortoises had even, over time, hollowed out veritable pathways between the mountain and the coast. While Farandoul gave himself eagerly to the pleasures of the hunt, the sailors amused themselves by playing every possible trick on the poor tortoises, not to mention making of them a succulent daily soup. When they surprised the tortoises on the bank, the sailors, passing sticks under their bellies, turned them on their backs and left them there in distress, kicking their legs in a comical fashion.
[B&W Illustration p. 35: "En chasse" = "Hunting"]
This pleasantry had the result of reducing the entire crew to tears of laughter. Able-Seaman Kirkson, a pure-blooded Englishman with a passion for racing, who did not often have the chance to indulge his passion while on ocean voyages, took the opportunity to improvise tortoise races. He required no more, in order to organise derbies of this new kind, than to happen upon a few tortoises travelling together; these chelonians were brought into line by sheer manpower, and at a prearranged signal, sailors leapt upon their shells, and the race was on. Balance was difficult to maintain; some of the makeshift jockeys fell off, while others collapsed into a sitting position on animals which retracted their heads in fear. The man who remained standing longest won, and pocketed the bets.
[B&W Illustration p. 37: "Courses de tortues" = "Turtle races"]
On the slope of the mountain, Captain Farandoul had discovered the entrance to a spacious grotto, whose tunnels and ramifications could only be explored with torches. On that side the mountain was quite steep. The cave's broad mouth, overlooking the blue of the sea, opened on to a sort of platform at the summit of a crag looming over a damp ravine, where hundreds of tortoises were constantly crowding. We shall see how useful this discovery was to the brave mariners in the midst of the complications in which they were soon to be embroiled!
The repairs to La Belle Léocadie had been effectively carried out, and the handsome three-master was as good as new, ready to put out to sea again. The sailors, after a final stroll in the forest, were relaxing on the grassy slopes of a hillock in the lowest foothills of the central peak, some distance away from the beach where La Belle Léocadie still rested on her keel. Captain Farandoul, lost in thought, had pushed on as far as the crest of the hill, from which the entire outline of the coast, with its sharp promontories and deep creeks, could be seen. He had been standing at the summit for several minutes staring into space when he suddenly lowered his gaze towards the coast.
Farandoul went pale. He thought he was dreaming -- but no! He rubbed his eyes and let out an exclamation. A veritable tide of Malay canoes was strewn upon the sea, as rapid and as sinister as a flock of vultures. More were appearing by the minute, doubling one of the island's capes some fifteen hundred metres from the hill on which Farandoul stood.
[B&W Illustration p. 39: "Une pirogue malaise" = "A Malay canoe"]
In response to the captain's cry, the sailors had hastened to their feet and were looking at the innumerable canoes with stupefaction. The vessels were becoming more numerous with every passing moment, seemingly following a strategy of hugging the coast so that they would have the least possible exposure to the open sea.
"It's Bora-Bora, beyond the shadow of a doubt!" Farandoul said, in the end. Turning to his sailors, he cried: "Forward! To La Belle Léocadie! We must warn our friends!"
The entire company filed into the forest in the direction of the ship. Thoughts crowded hurriedly into Farandoul's mind. The impossibility of saving La Belle Léocadie seemed obvious. At sea, it would have been possible to make a fight of it, but run aground as she was, she could not even serve as a citadel for the mariners.
"The cave will be our salvation!" Farandoul said, as he ran. "We'll take all the weapons from La Belle Léocadie and take refuge there."
Breathlessly, they came in sight of the ship. Lieutenant Mandibul and his men were asleep in the shade, but they leapt to their feet when they heard their companions running towards them.
"To arms!" said Farandoul. "We're under attack -- the pirates are here! Grab everything you can carry and climb up to the cave."
"Ventre de phoque! But can't we fight here?"
"Impossible, lieutenant. There's at least six hundred of them! They'll be here within the hour -- we only have the time to..."
Everyone went to work without further explanation. Weapons, powder, camping equipment -- everything that it was possible to carry was taken up. The first canoes were rounding the point of the little bay when Farandoul left the ship; the pirates shouted excitedly at the sight of the three-master, and hastened their progress.
"Quickly!" said Farandoul. "Let's get ready for them."
The sailors hurriedly deposited everything they had saved in the cave. Standing on the little platform, they shook their fists at the pirates, who were visible on the shore, swarming like ants around La Belle Léocadie.
[B&W Illustration p. 33: "Encore des pirates" = "Yet more of the pirates"]
"No time to lose, lads," Farandoul shouted. "Let's prepare our defences."
We have observed that the grotto pierced the mountain above a rather steep ravine. Scaling the slope would be difficult, in the face of several carefully disposed carbines, but to repel the assailants it was necessary to establish some cover on the platform -- the weak point of their fortress.
Farandoul looked around urgently, and immediately caught sight of a few blocks of stone which might be used to form a parapet. Alas, he was soon convinced of the impossibility of extracting even the smallest of them without long hard labour, which would not want for interruption by the corsairs. What to do? Farandoul, leaning over the ravine full of tortoises, had a flash of inspiration. The tortoises could be used as a means of fortification.
Two men descended into the ravine; as they approached, the tortoises retreated into their shells and did not budge. The two mariners rapidly passed ropes, which had been thrown down from above, beneath the bellies of the largest tortoise, making a seaman's knot to prevent the rope from slipping.
[B&W Illustration p. 43: "Oh...hisse!" = "Pull!"]
In response to this signal, vigorous arms lifted up the poor tortoise, which was terrified to find itself borne aloft. Once arrived at the top, it was laid on its back, and the rope was thrown back down to the men in the ravine.
Thirty tortoises were sent up in succession and laid on their backs, placed one atop another with an artistry which testified that Farandoul possessed a genius for fortification. To prevent the rampart from collapsing, a number of sturdy stakes were wedged into the rock, to which ropes were attached before being tightly knotted around each carapace.
The two men in the ravine had scarcely climbed up again when the pirates made their move; a hundred men set off together to climb the mountain.
"Let them get as far as the ravine," Farandoul said, "and don't fire unless you're sure of your shot."
The gaps between the tortoises formed natural loopholes, through which the men of La Belle Léocadie, with rifles in hand, watched the pirates advancing.
"Bigre de bagasse!" murmured the southerner Tournesol, a seaman first-class. "There's every possible colour there."
Indeed, among the copper-coloured Malays, yellow men from Formosa were discernible, along with black dayaks from Borneo and various half-breeds without any distinguishable nationality. Their armaments were just as varied. There were long Muslim rifles, Portuguese blunderbusses, spears, bows and pistols in addition to the familiar arsenal of daggers and Malay krises.
Lieutenant Mandibul nudged Farandoul's elbow. "Look, captain! There's that beggar Bora-Bora. I recognise his big red turban."
"It's him all right," Farandoul replied. "The brigand's keeping out of the way, directing the attack without exposing himself."
After a pause of several minutes, Farandoul called his men to attention. "Here they come!"
Utterly bemused not to have been greeted with rifle-fire, the pirates had climbed to within thirty metres. Thinking, in consequence, that the mariners had not been able to carry their weapons with them, they were grouping to mount an assault, howling horribly.
"Fire!" cried Farandoul.
[B&W Illustration p. 44: "Le rempant des tortues" = "The turtle rampart"]
Fifteen rifle-shots were discharged. It was like a broadside; a terrible collapsed mass rolled down the mountainside, the dead and the wounded carrying those who had not been wounded along with them. The howling redoubled, this time caused by pain and fear.
Bora-Bora, leaping about like a demon, rallied his men behind a clump of trees.
"While we have a moment's respite," Farandoul said, "we have to think about food. We can't eat our rampart, so we must have more tortoises for our larder, and sufficient quantities of grass to nourish them. Someone has to go back down into the ravine to get tortoises and hoist them up at the least exposed spot, while four of our best shots provide them with covering fire.
The pirates perceived this manouvre from a distance, and a few moved to prevent it. A few well-directed bullets caused them to make their way back to those who had not been felled.
The tortoise-hoisting operation came out marvellously. In less than an hour some thirty tortoises were stacked up in the cave, and the men climbed back up without any accident. Meanwhile, the pirates, huddling in the shelter of a clump of trees, seemed to be preparing themselves for a new and more vigorous attack. In the distance, more could be seen dragging their canoes aground to either side of La Belle Léocadie. Sturdier Malay barques were mingled with them closer to the shore -- and all the crews, as soon as they were disembarked, came to swell the ranks of Bora-Bora's army, brandishing their weapons.
It was indeed a veritable army, which Farandoul estimated at seven or eight hundred men. Bora-Bora seemed determined to capture the marines' citadel no matter what the cost. While he formed his best men -- the Malays -- into an assault column, he posted others as snipers to harass the besieged men from every side. The Dayak negroes, armed with ironwood bows, were creeping among the rocks in search of advantageous positions, while other pirates, the Formosans, were opening fire from such a long range that the mariners judged it useless to respond.
The whistling bullets struck the carapaces with dry clicks, at which the armoured heads of the tortoises emerged momentarily before immediately withdrawing -- especially when a mariner, lurking behind his loophole, found a good opportunity to direct a bullet at some overly audacious Dayak. The poor tortoises, terrified by these flashes of fire and thunderous detonations, attempted to turn somersaults, which made the rampart ripple with movement.
Farandoul told his men to concentrate their fire on those Dayaks whose upward-directed arrows might fall within the citadel; not one of these savages came close enough to the cave to reach its defenders.
[B&W Illustration p. 47: "Les Dayacks" = "The Dayaks"]
Suddenly, a howl let loose by six hundred voices burst forth at the foot of the mountain. Bora-Bora was launching the bulk of his forces upon the blockade.
[Colour Illustration 6e LIV.: "L'assaut" = "The assault"]
Six hundred demons climbed the escarpment with a resolution that testified to their determination to crush and finish off the fifteen besieged men by sheer weight of numbers.
"Save your ammunition, and don't fire unless the shot's certain," said Farandoul, mopping sweat from his brow.
More than fifty Malays had already rolled to the bottom of the slope, the dead and wounded making a ladder of sorts for the others -- and the besieged men soon saw them a few metres from the platform: hideous, covered in blood, with rifles in their hands and daggers in their teeth.
"Bigre de bagasse, this is getting worse!" cried Tournesol, "But fear not, we'll lay a few more carcases down before they get past!"
"Ventre de phoque! I won't get to blow away that damn beggar Bora-Bora!"
The howls of the corsairs were redoubled. They believed that their victory was certain -- and the citadel was, in fact, in serious danger. A few more minutes, and they would reach the platform; excited by the hope of carnage, they pressed forward in ever greater numbers.
"Keep firing! Watch out!" Farandoul commanded, having observed the progress of the attackers for some minutes without shooting. Then, taking his knife, he quickly cut through several ropes. "Do as I do, shipmates! All together....push hard!" Matching actions to his words, he set his rifle down and threw himself against the rank of tortoises which formed the crown of the rampart. All had understood and had surged forward.
The entire tier collapsed; ten tortoises, each weighing at least a couple of hundred kilograms, rolled down on to the pirates, breaking heads and ribs and scouring the wall of the crag within the blink of an eye.
[B&W Illustration p. 45: "La rangée entière s'écroula" = "The entire tier collapsed"]
Before those who had not been struck had time to get out of the way, the tortoises comprising the second tier descended upon them like an avalanche, pulverising everything in their way and rebounding from the rocks to shatter in the midst of the panic-stricken throng.
The citadel had been saved once again. The pirates were fleeing from the accursed mountain, paying no heed to the exhortations of a few chiefs who were trying to rally them.
Losing no time, Farandoul had the rampart rebuilt using the tortoises placed in reserve, and a number of men went back down into the ravine, some to recover as many munitions as possible from dead pirates and others to capture more tortoises. Those tortoises which had remained in the ravine, understanding that the place was not safe, were fleeing as quickly as they could from this scene of carnage; there was only time for a handful to be turned over to stop them from escaping.
"Now, shipmates, there's only one thing I'm afraid of," Farandoul said to his men, "And that's Bora-Bora turning the siege into a blockade."
"The brigand kept out of range," Mandibul complained. "I would have been so glad to avenge poor Captain Lastic! Yes, the scoundrel stayed back; a man who has come to possess fifty-four million gold, silver or copper coins looks after his skin! And that makes fifty-four million reasons why he's determined to have ours, whatever the cost. I don't believe our troubles are over yet."
"In the meantime, it's nearly supper-time," Farandoul replied. "It's time to sacrifice one of our tortoises -- we've certainly earned some turtle soup."
The evening and the night passed without incident. Farandoul lay awake for half an hour, his insomnia caused by disquiet. He told himself that a blockade could have the most disastrous consequences for La Belle Léocadie, which he deemed to be very nearly lost, and particularly for her crew. The pirates would be able to find abundant food on the island, while his own men would be dependent on the meagre provisions brought from the ship and the tortoises in the rampart.
"It's very hard," said Lieutenant Mandibul, who was also troubled. "It's very hard for besieged men to eat their fortifications!"
On the following day, the Malays could be seen making an encampment on the beach. This clearly testified to the fact that they had no thought of leaving. In the afternoon, a band of fifty men left the camp and established themselves in the woods from which the attack columns had been sent.
A blockade was being organised.
Nothing changed on either side for several days. A stream of water which ran through the grotto and exited into a fissure leading down to the tortoises' ravine was adequate to the needs of the besieged men, but they took care every morning to bring some grass to the tortoises of the rampart, to keep them alive and in good health.
Farandoul began to find the time weighing heavily upon him and searched for a means of hurrying matters along. In the hope of making some advantageous discovery he and Lieutenant Mandibul followed each of the tunnels leading from the cave to its very end. These ramifications extended deep into the mountain, but the corridors usually ended abruptly in solid walls. One of these narrow fissures, however, took them a long way away from their companions.
"Ventre de phoque, what can we do?" said Mandibul.
"Ah, if I had my monkeys, the pirates wouldn't hold on for long!" Farandoul replied.
"I can save you," said a firm voice, which suddenly emerged from the depths of the tunnel.
Farandoul and Mandibul drew their revolvers.
"Fear not, I'm a friend," the voice went on -- and, to the great astonishment of the two mariners, an unknown man came towards them.
"Don't be astonished, and don't ask me any questions -- just listen to me," he said. "I'm a European like you, and I'll save you."
The three men squatted down on the rocks. The conversation lasted a long time. As it was agreed between them that the identity of the unknown man would not be revealed to the sailors of La Belle Léocadie, we shall keep the secret from our readers until the next chapter.
Mandibul returned from the cave alone. He contented himself with saying that the captain had found a means of saving everyone; that he had gone to put his plan into action; and that all he had asked of the sailors was to wait patiently without risking any useless combat. Any attack that occurred would have to be forcefully repulsed; the pirates must be kept back at all costs.
Farandoul was absent for two weeks -- two weeks during which the corsairs, without renewing their assault, sought to inconvenience the crew of La Belle Léocadie by every available means. Lieutenant Mandibul never stopped fuming with rage throughout the fortnight; as for the sailors, they dreamed of nothing but sorties and hand-to-hand combat.
Soon the situation, already critical, became terrible. The infernal Bora-Bora had an idea of his own, and we shall see how it put the marines into a lamentable position.
One morning, two hundred pirates scaled the far side of the mountain, and established themselves directly above the platform, at the point of origin of the stream that descended into the cave via fissures in the rock. The wretches had brought their cooking-pots and abundant supplies of dry wood. Twelve fires were lit, on which twelve large cooking-pots were set, filled to the brim with water from the spring.
"Ventre de phoque, what diabolical cookery are these brigands up to?" grumbled Lieutenant Mandibul.
The answer was not long in coming
Suddenly, a flood of boiling water fell upon the unhappy tortoises in the rampart, and clouds of hot vapour invaded the grotto. The wretches, being unable to bring active force to bear on the bastion of tortoises, sought to defeat it by slow cooking! All through the day the cooking-pots were continuously at work; the poor tortoises expired in the terrible boiling flood that fell incessantly upon their backs. Mandibul was seething!
[B&W Illustration p. 49: "L'idée de Bora- Bora" = "Bora-Bora's idea"]
There was nothing to be done! That evening, six tortoises having been cooked, the mariners cut their losses by eating them for supper; six replacements were installed under cover of darkness. It was scarcely worth the trouble. Eight more death certificates were issued the following day -- eight boiled tortoises to put on the menu.
The bastion lasted eight days, after which it was comprised of nothing but empty and broken carapaces; the crew of La Belle Léocadie were visibly fatter, but thirst began to make itself felt, for the pirates had found a means to heat the spring itself, so the mariners were really in hot water.
This was the state of things when, one fine night, Lieutenant Mandibul, returned from the depths of the tunnel within the cave, gathered his men together and told them to make ready for a sortie the following day.
"Is there news then, lieutenant?" asked Seaman Tournesol.
"Goodbye hot water -- the captain's back," Mandibul replied. "Ventre de phoque, we're going to fight! Tomorrow, when the first rifle-shot sounds on the beach, we fall upon the beggars down below!"
The night seemed endless to the bold sailors, weary of the vast soup of tortoises which Bora-Bora -- in return for the grapeshot-filled boar of Bassilon -- had been serving them for more than a week. At dawn, Mandibul had them to go down into the ravine -- where they all awaited his signal, rifles in hand.
Let us take ourselves off to the pirates' camp, where the last vicissitudes of the drama will unfold. The wretches are grouped on the beach, around the handful of tents reserved for the principal chiefs. Some are asleep on the grass, wrapped in blankets, others around a few fires -- whose last logs, almost burned-out, occasionally hurl a few sparks and spirals of blue smoke into the still-starry sky.
[B&W Illustration p. 51: "Le camp" = "The camp"]
Overturned canoes and felled trees form the camp's only entrenchments.
Bora-Bora wakes up and shakes his fist at the mountain.
"If they haven't finished eating their tortoises," he says to himself, "we can't risk an attack. I'll send a few scouts their way."And Bora-Bora, prodding a few of his snoring companions with his foot, thrusts his arsenal into his belt.
He has scarcely finished when a rifle shot rings out, no more than twenty paces distant! Savage cries burst forth, and before the bewildered pirates have had time to leap upon their weapons, a hundred black shadows have jumped over the feeble ramparts of the camp and are flinging themselves upon them!
The tents are beaten down beneath the feet of combatants as a frightful confusion breaks out in the half-light of dawn. The attackers have the advantage, and pirate corpses are soon strewn across the ground; it is as if some infernal vortex were whirling around, crushing everything in its path....
Bora-Bora has drawn his pistols, but he does not know which way to shoot. Suddenly, he starts in alarm. These new enemies, worse than men, are sturdy monkeys armed with stout clubs!
The whirlwind of four-armed creatures has already pulverized half the pirate band; the remainder are trying to flee, rolling with the blows of the terrible clubs.
A strange thing! A man -- is it really a man? -- is directing this troop of monkeys; he mingles human words of command with guttural cries that make the monkeys jump.
Bora-Bora thinks he must be dreaming, but by the flash of two pistol-shots, he recognises Saturnin Farandoul! After that, he has but one thought -- to rally his men and re-embark.
[B&W Illustration p. 53: "Bora-Bora croit rêver" = "Bora-Bora thinks he must be dreaming"]
A very lively fusillade erupts from the side of the mountain now, and the pirates who were blockading the mariners beat their own retreat towards the sea. Bora-Bora and thirty of his men who have escaped the carnage make for the boats; fifty more are there, making haste to put the boats into the water. Daylight has come. The sun illuminates the beach, where Bora-Bora's adversaries are now clearly visible. The pirates watch in terror as the mariners of La Belle Léocadie and Farandoul's terrible monkeys hurtle upon them.
"Put to sea!" cries Bora-Bora.
A new prodigy, even more inexplicable! Fifteen fantastic creatures suddenly emerge from the bosom of the sea! The pirates' eyes grow wide in horror...each of these bipeds, clad in a thick pelt, has an absolutely spherical iron head with neither mouth nor nose, within whose face a single vast yellow eye is staring! A sort of pipe emerges from the head, connected to a sack attached to the back.
[B&W Illustration p. 55: "Ces bipèdes ont des têtes de fer" = "These bipeds had iron heads"]
What can these creatures emerging from the waves possibly be? Bora-Bora has no time to ask himself; these fish-men have iron hatchets fixed at the ends of their solid arms, and they are falling upon the pirates, who are still harassed from behind by the monkeys.
"Onward, La Belle Léocadie! Onward, monkeys!" cries Farandoul -- and, with one blow of a club that he wields with the same dexterity as the monkeys, he lays Bora-Bora flat out beside his canoe.
The fight did not last long.
Those whom the monkeys' clubs or the mariners' carbines had been unable to reach have fallen beneath the hatchets of the fantastic creatures who had emerged so conveniently from the bosom of the sea.
We shall make haste to explain these facts to the reader.
The man who popped up providentially in the grotto was none other than the celebrated Captain Nemo, who is so well-known to the readers of Jules Verne -- which is to say, everyone in the world -- that we can dispense with his description. The island where La Belle Léocadie had put in for repairs was none other than the Mysterious Island, and it was in the bowels of its mountain-citadel that the secret port of Captain Nemo's magnificent submarine the Nautilus was hidden. Captain Nemo, having heard Farandoul speak of the Isle of Monkeys, had revealed to him that there was an island a hundred and fifty leagues to the east inhabited solely by numerous tribes of these animals; the description of the island that he gave to Farandoul settled all further doubts.
"Let's go there in my Nautilus," Captain Nemo had added. "Make yourself known, and if you can convince a troop of your old friends to come to the aid of La Belle Léocadie, it will be possible to do battle."
It had all worked out very well. Farandoul had found his family again, his foster-brothers having grown up into magnificently sturdy lads; he had had no trouble recruiting a hundred of his old comrades of the forest, and we have seen how enthusiastically they fell upon the pirates.
As for the fantastic creatures with iron heads, that was a company of divers provided by the crew of the Nautilus. The divers too had done marvellously well!
The different units of the little army, having come together on the beach, were introduced to one another, that formality having been impracticable during the heat of battle. The sailors and the monkeys look at one another with mutual astonishment, but what intrigues the brave monkeys most of all are the men with iron heads: the divers from the Nautilus. Where could these bizarre creatures with round heads, and tails attached thereto, possibly have come from? Were they another new race of men? It overturned all their notions of natural history, which had already been disturbed by the reappearance on their isle of their friend Farandoul, accompanied by beings of a similar kind.
Farandoul was all wrapped up with his family, his foster-father and his five brothers enfolding him in their arms. What joy! What a picture! The other monkeys crowded around them, happy to stare at the little handicapped monkey with whom they had all played when they were young! It was evident that they no longer considered him as having a deplorable infirmity, having seen, by courtesy of the mariners of the Nautilus, that all his race were in the same condition.
[B&W Illustration p. 59: "Quelle joie!" = "What joy!"]
Farandoul and Captain Nemo wanted to celebrate their victory with a huge banquet. As soon as the beach had been cleared it was organised. Forty monkeys went forth in search of coconuts, bananas and other vegetables; the cooks from the Nautilus and La Belle Léocadie roasted some opossums, prepared numerous tortoises -- less heroic than those of the rampart but just as succulent -- with various sauces, and tablecloths were soon set out on planks spread out on the grass.
Farandoul, his brothers and his foster-father took their places at the head table, along with Captain Nemo, Lieutenant Mandibul and the leader of the divers. The monkeys and the mariners were grouped around the other tables. It was noticeable that every movement of the divers was observed with trepidation by the monkeys, who pondered how these creatures with iron heads devoid of any opening were able to eat. When they saw the divers divest themselves of their apparatus before starting to eat, they burst out laughing. The problem was solved -- these unknown bipeds were part of the Farandoulian race!
[B&W Illustration p. 60: "Comment peut-il manger?" = "How can he eat?"]
The meal was most enjoyable. The monkeys, of course, did not want to partake of anything but fruit, but they consented to empty a few bottles of champagne furnished by the excellent Captain Nemo. A few, as might be expected, became a little light-headed -- but on such a great day, who could blame them?
A big conference was held afterwards, in which a solemn vote of thanks was addressed to Captain Nemo. Then it was agreed that the pirates' canoes and barques should be carefully hidden in a creek identified by the good captain. He advised that they should await the result of their legal action before showing themselves in Borneo.
Farandoul, always eager for action, resolved to depart no later than the following day in La Belle Léocadie, along with the biggest of the Malay barques, in order to take the monkeys home.
As the sun rose the next day, the two ships made ready to sail; the moment of farewell drew near. Captain Nemo, who held Farandoul in singularly high esteem, came to shake him by the hand one last time, and Farandoul was obliged to accept six superb Denayrousse diving-suits as a souvenir. They promised to meet up again as often as possible, then went their separate ways, after a dozen muskets had fired a salvo in honour of the generous Captain Nemo.
The voyage was a happy one. The three-master sailed in convoy with the pirates' barque, crewed by two men from La Belle Léocadie and thirty monkeys, who showed every indication of becoming excellent mariners. They reached the Isle of Monkeys in six days, where their arrival -- signalled in advance by lookouts -- caused such a commotion that the entire population, save for the sick, thronged the shore while the long-boats came ashore with the monkeys, proud of their campaign.
We shall not undertake to recount every detail of the warm reception given to La Belle Léocadie, nor of the celebrations that followed. In any case, Farandoul, possessed by an all-consuming restlessness, soon announced his intention to return to sea. The pirates' barque was left to the monkeys, with two men to complete their naval education, and La Belle Léocadie resumed its course through the archipelagoes.
Farandoul was avid to devote himself to serious submarine exploration, in order to profit from the diving-suits so generously donated by Captain Nemo. He, Lieutenant Mandibul and four sailors soon became used to living and moving in the great depths, in the world of gigantic submarine forests inhabited by oceanic monsters. It was there that Saturnin Farandoul developed the instincts of a hunter, which he had not yet had the time to cultivate.
Armed to the teeth, with hatchets in hand and two pistols operated by compressed air in their belts, along with sharp knives, the mariners threw themselves upon the slimy rocks, into caverns inhabited by monsters unknown to man, which only the most deranged imagination could have dreamed up: six-metre-long lobsters, sea-crocodiles, torpedo-squids, crabs with a thousand feet, sea serpents, finned elephants, giant oysters and so on.
[B&W Illustration p. 61: "Explorations sous- marines" = "Submarine explorations"]
They had some terrible fights with these hideous animals. One such encounter was nearly fatal to Lieutenant Mandibul. The mariners had just put to death a fifteen-metre serpent which they had taken by surprise while it was eating a sea-crocodile, whose tail still protruded from its mouth -- but which was still able to defend itself -- when their attention had suddenly been caught by the entry on to the scene of a strange creature. It was a gigantic oyster three metres in diameter, hugely rounded, running at a trot on six slender feet; its half-open shell allowed two round, staring eyes to be seen, in which the greatest ferocity could be read.
"Ventre de phoque!" murmured Lieutenant Mandibul. "If there's a pearl in that oyster, my fortune's made!" And having marched up to the oyster, he seized it by the upper shell and plunged his arm into the slit, with a dagger in his hand.
Horror! The oyster opened much wider, and swallowed Lieutenant Mandibul in a single gulp.
[B&W Illustration p. 63: "Mandibul avalé par une huitre" = "Mandibul swallowed by an oyster"]
Fortunately, Saturnin Farandoul had seen everything; with the four sailors he ran towards the oyster, which had paused and seemed to be savouring poor Mandibul voluptuously. A sort of internal hullaballoo was, however, audible when they put their ears to the shell.
"He's still alive!" Farandoul cried. "To work, my friends!"
Hatchet-blows rained like hailstones upon the shell of the oyster, which defended itself feebly with its feet. The monster soon had to open up slightly, in order to breathe, and a few stifled words emerged from its interior. It was Mandibul shouting: "Help me! I've got the pearl!"
Farandoul attacked the oyster at the hinge, causing the upper shell to jerk spasmodically! They forced it open with their arms, and the interior of the ferocious animal appeared at last. Lieutenant Mandibul, in a sorry state, was quickly lifted clear, while the oyster was finished off with pistol-shots.
Lieutenant Mandibul had secured a pearl as big as his head! In the aftermath of this adventure, though, he had to take to his bed for several days -- which annoyed him greatly.
La Belle Léocadie had returned through the Torres Strait and found herself once again approaching the Sunda islands.
"Ventre de phoque!" Lieutenant Mandibul grumbled,from his sick-bed, "I once dropped a cherished pipe into the water in these parts -- I might well have retrieved it by means of our diving-suits!"
The three-master made its way through the shallow waters around the Sunda Islands, not far from the island of Timor; Saturnin, who had suddenly become fond of solitary submarine excursions, would not consent to leaving this dangerous region. According to the maps, half of the island of Timor belonged to the Dutch, the masters of the archipelago, and the other half to the Portuguese -- which is to say that both nations had a few trading-posts on its shores. In reality, the whole island, land and population alike, belonged to the Rajah, the aged and ferocious Ra-Tafia: an excessively absolute monarch who, in return for a few concessions. permitted the Dutch and the Portuguese to undertake commerce at various points on the coast.
Ra-Tafia, an old white-beard Malay, who had been a great lover of piracy in his youth, now spent his life secluded in his palace with his wives and his bottles of liqueur. His people accused him of favouring the Dutch at the expense of the Portuguese, in recognition of the tribute of curaçao paid by the Batavian government. We shall not allow ourselves to indulge in criticism of such a policy; after all, a monarch may have his preferences, and these are not under his control.
The old rajah Ra-Tafia had but one daughter, the young and beautiful Mysora, a dove hatched in a vulture's nest. Mysora was the daughter of a Frenchwoman carried off by Ra-Tafia during one of his expeditions to the Indian Ocean; Ra-Tafia had still had a heart in those days, and that heart having quickened its beat, the poor little Frenchwoman had been spared, the slave soon becoming the queen of Timor. If we want to meet his daughter Mysora we have only to go down one of the dark footpaths that lead from the palace of Ra-Tafia to the sea-shore; we must, however, beware of letting ourselves be seen by the ferocious Malays who watch over every pathway with spears in their hands.
[B&W Illustration p. 65: "La Fille du Rajah" = "The Rajah's daughter"]
These sentries protect the part of the shore where Mysora and her maids of honour take their daily bath from all indiscreet eyes. Sheer rocks covered with lianas shelter a tranquil little bay, where the young girls frolic on the sand. Such merry games in the clear water! Such bursts of laughter! Such joyful swimming-parties! Mysora is distinguished from the young Malays by the paleness of her skin, her long black hair cascading to her shoulders and chastely covering her.
[B&W Illustration p. 67: "Le bain des Malaises" = "The Malay girls' bath time"]
All of a sudden, a sharp cry raised by the fifteen young girls causes Mysora to lift her head. A fantastic apparition is thrusting up from the foam of the sea: a man-fish with an iron head, who tries to reassure the bathers with benevolent gestures. To no avail -- they all hasten out of the water with cries of terror. They flee into the rocks without even gathering up their clothes. Mysora alone, sitting on a spur of rock that forms a sort of islet, has been unable to flee.
The apparition came closer.
"Fear not, O queen of Timor!" said a voice that we would have recognised as that of our friend Farandoul.
"Who are you?" stammered the beautiful Mysora.
"O Mysora," Farandoul replied, "I am he who burns for you with a love that all the waters of the Ocean are insufficient to extinguish!"
The confused young woman covered her face with her hands.
"O flower of the tropics," Farandoul went on, "I have known you for a week, I see you every day like a Malay siren, playing among the foamy waves of the fortunate Ocean!"
"O, monsieur!" said Mysora, becoming even more confused.
"Be reassured, queen of my soul -- it was only from a distance, while hiding myself beneath the waves, that I dared to lift my eyes towards you! Today, for the first time, I have passed through the girdle of reefs that protect this inlet.... O Mysora! I am the captain of that three-master which you have seen cruising off Timor for eight days. For eight days, my heart has plunged fully-clad into the waters of passion, and that heart, which has never quickened its beat for any other, is ready to lower its colours before you!"
As he spoke these words, Farandoul knelt down and lowered the head of his diving-suit towards her hand, which Mysora allowed him to take. The poor girl understood that her own young heart, full of emotion, had begun to beat in a different way.
[B&W Illustration p. 68: No title]
"O captain," she said, finally, "make haste to depart; my followers, by fleeing, must have raised the alarm among the servants of my father, the terrible Ra-Tafia, rajah of Timor! He will come to kill you before my very eyes."
"So be it! Death will be sweet if the heart of Mysora is averse to me! If I must never see you again, they shall kill me!"
"Don't say that, Captain! See how how troubled and overwrought I am, and take pity on me! Go....and come back when night falls on the shore...."
Shouting could be heard amongst the rocks; the Malays were coming at a run...
Farandoul lifted Mysora's hand passionately to his iron lips, and vanished beneath the waves.
The appearance of a sea-monster totally unknown in the archipelago caused a good deal of talk in Timor; the Malays did not dare to venture out to sea for a fortnight. Many would not even go down to the shore, and Mysora's followers gave up their sea-bathing.
That same evening, however, Mysora was running over the deserted beach; she had seen such determination in the captain that she feared some imprudence on his part. Farandoul was there; he had brought a second diving-suit, which Mysora put on in order to follow the adventurous Farandoul into regions where they would be in no danger of any surprise.
Mysora felt herself subjugated little by little, the poor girl's heart beat until it was overwhelmed by an immense and profound invasion of love. What delectable moments! The hours fled by during this submarine conversation, whose purest poetry refreshed them both. The two young people, sitting one beside the other hand-in-hand, seemed lost in the azure realms of a dream. Time no longer existed while their two souls melted in the ardent light of love. Farandoul had taken the precaution of bringing a pocket telephone so that their conversation, conducted at a depth of seven or eight metres, would not require excessive vocal effort.
[Colour Illustration 8e LIV.: "L'amour au fond de la mer" = "Love on the bottom of the sea"]
In the end, it was necessary for them to separate. Mysora left her diving-suit in a hollow, hidden beneath the hectic vegetation hanging down the cliff. She promised to return in daylight on the following day, and to descend in her diving-suit to the bottom of the bay.
Farandoul had proposed to Mysora that he should ask her father for her hand in marriage; he talked of arriving in great pomp, at the head of his crew, to present his request to Ra-Tafia, but Mysora had put him off the plan. Knowing her father well, she thought that the old rajah, infatuated with the nobility and antiquity of his race -- whose tradition of piracy had been handed down from father to son for fifteen centuries -- would never consent to give his daughter to a simple merchant captain. She knew that, at the mere mention of such a misalliance, Ra-Tafia would leap up from his throne and strike Farandoul's head from his shoulders.
It was therefore necessary, until circumstances were altered, to keep their love secret. As it was impossible for them to see one another on land, they would meet each day to spend long hours in the oceanic depths, far from all terrestrial noise, and anything else that might trouble their poetic chat.
No, we shall not attempt to report everything that they said during those divine hours, when their two hearts beat as one as the lovers flew away to the ethereal realms! That would be the work of a poet -- a poet born and bred to describe, in emotion-laden verse, the sublime modulations of their submarine duet. Only a poet could do justice to the two motionless creatures, so young and so beautiful, quartered on a rock beneath the floating reflections of a vague and indecisive light, in the tremulous green water. Never could the eye of a painter -- if painters had frequented those depths -- have found a more seductive subject! O diver Romeo, O submarine Juliet!
Farandoul's tall frame gained even more stature in the liquid element, and no suited diver had ever displayed more charming contours or a more graciously undulant figure than Mysora's. Schools of fish halted in stupefaction before the pair; enormous tuna and indiscreet rays made circuits of the two young people without distracting them from their ecstasy, even when the dazed fish bumped into the floating tubes which conveyed breathable air to them. Sometimes, whole assemblies would gather round. Farandoul took no precautions against them; knowing from experience that submarine monsters only showed themselves in the greatest depths, he had no fear of encountering one a mere eight metres below the surface.
One day, alas, Mysora wanted to take an excursion in his arms, into the submarine valleys that he traversed every day in order to come to her -- and Farandoul did not have the heart to refuse to satisfy her whim, even though he was fully conscious of the risk.
The two young people had moved without any hindrance to a certain distance from the coast. Farandoul, by means of a little pocket pressure-gauge, had established that they had attained a depth of a hundred and fifty metres, when an unexpected spectacle suddenly presented itself to them.
A terrible battle was raging a short distance away between a small whale and a sea-serpent more than a hundred metres in length. The poor whale had been attacked from behind by the horrible constrictor, whose immense mouth had snatched it by the tail and was striving to swallow it in spite of its desperate resistance. The whale's head and a part of its body were still protruding from that mouth, further ingestion having been halted by the fins. The constrictor, in order to finish the job, was twisting its body in terrible effort while its convulsively-rolling coils were striking the sea-bed with a frightful noise.
It was obvious that the whale must succumb. Mysora, seized by pity, begged Farandoul to hurry to its aid.
"Take your hatchet, my handsome Farandoul," she said, "and slay the monster." And when Farandoul hesitated, she added: "Don't worry about me -- save the whale!"
Farandoul leapt forward. His hatchet in his hand, he fell upon the serpent as if he were on horseback -- and in spite of the reptile's sliminess, he pulled his way to the head, which he struck furiously.
The serpent, who had paid no attention to this new adversary until that moment, thrashed about in a terrifying manner. Without allowing himself to be unseated, Farandoul redoubled his hatchet-blows, so effectively that the monster's skull finally burst asunder with a great crack!
The two jaws opened as wide as possible, while the reptile shuddered convulsively, and the whale freed itself with a sudden effort.
At the same moment -- to Farandoul's great horror, and before he could throw himself forward to prevent it -- the whale advanced with two thrusts of its right fin upon Mysora, who was following the vicissitudes of the combat with interest. Within a second, its immense maw had engulfed the unfortunate young woman.
An appalling darkness of the soul! The monstrous cetacean could offer no better acknowledgement of the sweet girl who had saved it than to swallow its benefactress whole!
[Colour Illustration 10e LIV.: "Mysora avalée" = "Mysora swallowed"]
The monster, doubly delighted to have escaped the serpent at the same time as it had snapped up a fine windfall, hurled itself towards the light in order to enjoy its good fortune in peace.
As it passed him by, the maddened Farandoul grabbed hold of a cord that was still dangling from its mouth, and arrived at the wave-tossed surface at exactly the same time.
What Farandoul had seized was the floating tube which conveyed respirable air to Mysora's diving-suit. His only hope was that it was still attached; he did not want to let go of the last thread upon which Mysora's life might possibly depend.
By an extraordinary stroke of luck, on arriving in daylight Farandoul perceived his ship only a few cables distant. A certain tumult was evident on board, the crew having caught sight of the monster and decided to attack it by way of passing the time. Farandoul waved his arms above his head, and a general cry went up in response -- and, in less time than it takes to say it, the long-boat had put to sea.
Lieutenant Mandibul, harpoon in hand, gestured to the men, urging them to row vigorously. Two minutes later, the long-boat had reached Farandoul -- who seized the harpoon and, throwing with a sure hand, hit the monster's flank.
Lieutenant Mandibul had once been a whaler; he noticed that, contrary to the habit of whales, which usually dived with vertiginous speed and threaded their way into the depths as soon as they were hit, this one was only moving feebly. Evidently, it sensed that it had fallen prey to some profound difficulty.
No crime ever goes unpunished, and Providence the Avenger would doubtless have struck it fatally soon enough, but the whale's hour of punishment had sounded and the crime that could not weigh upon its non-existent conscience was weighing upon its stomach!
In the first moments after swallowing its prey without examination, the whale had perceived its roughness. Trusting to the strength of its constitution, however, it had expected to be quickly rid of the extraordinarily lumpy morsel -- but within its inner tribunal, it now began to regret its gourmandising, its stomach being over-full. Moreover, the creature that it had swallowed was flinging itself recklessly about -- and here, adding to its misfortunes, were yet more enemies attacking it, as if it did not have enough to do to counter the enemy within!
Farandoul made a sign which Mandibul understood; another harpoon was thrown, and before the whale could make up its mind, the two cables were made fast to the bow of La Belle Léocadie.
Farandoul had leapt upon the monster; he strove with all his might to hack through its outer tegument with hatchet-blows, in the hope of making a hole by means of which he could go into its body and save Mysora. Meanwhile, the final preparations were made to haul the whale aboard the ship.
Suddenly, the whale recovered its strength. With a single blow of its tail it up-ended the long-boat, which nearly turned turtle, and darted southwards like an arrow. La Belle Léocadie, in tow to the monster, took the same course.
The desperate Farandoul was taken aboard with the sailors from the long-boat. It was all over! Mysora seemed to him to be lost for ever; even though the air-hose was still afloat, it seemed impossible to him that she could stay alive until La Belle Léocadie caught up with the dying whale.
At any rate, he was determined at least to kill the monster. To do that, it was necessary to follow it until its strength was exhausted. The harpoon-cables were firmly-attached and would not break, all the sails were furled -- and La Belle Léocadie, her canvas dry, flew like lightning in the monster's wake.
Sibilantly skimming the crests of the waves, La Belle Léocadie was drawn along at a prodigious velocity; the whale that was towing her was travelling at an incalculable pace, and it was only very approximately that Farandoul estimated her speed at forty leagues an hour. The sailors were scarcely able to move without falling violently on their behinds, unless they lashed themselves to the stays. They were quite out of breath.
How would the mad dash end?
The ships that they encountered put on full steam in order to escape the path of the infernal ship, which they took for the Flying Dutchman. A big steamship going from Liverpool to Melbourne, full of terrified passengers, was nearly struck amidships and cut in two following an unwise manoeuvre.
At fifteen hundred hours, Farandoul saw land on the port bow, which he judged to be the coast of Western Australia, near Perth. If the whale did not change direction within a quarter of an hour, they would be at the south magnetic pole, bound to be broken on the polar icebergs or the desolate cliffs of the antarctic continent. And Mysora, alas! Could any hope still remain? The whale suddenly veered eastwards. Cape Leeuwin and King George Point were doubled; the whale's speed seemed to be increasing even more. It soon began to make such violent leaps and jerks that Farandoul feared that the cables would snap. Soon afterwards, a violent tempest was added to the perils of the situation; it seemed that the heavens were taking the side of the monster against the defenders of the beautiful Mysora. In the midst of the unleashed elements, the whale's convulsions became even more violent. The monster was blowing hard and suffering. For a moment or two the Australian coast became clearly visible to port; then everything was swallowed up by the blackness of the tempest.
The chase had lasted twenty-three hours when, all at once, at the height of the storm, both cables broke simultaneously. The whale, suddenly set free, redoubled its velocity and its convulsions, leaving La Belle Léocadie dancing on the angry waves as the creature was lost to view.
For a further hour the breathless monster ate up the distance. Whirlpools of foam traced a long wake behind it and every time it vented air from its blowhole immense cascades of water fell upon its head. Every time that huge head emerged from the waves, a sort of bellowing sound was audible. The monster was moaning!
A fisherman named John Bird, who lived in a little maritime cottage in Port Philip, a few leagues from Melbourne, made a fortunate discovery that day. Having not gone to sea because of the storm, he was walking on the beach taking long puffs on his pipe, by way of consolation, when -- to his great surprise -- he saw a gigantic fish coming straight towards him.
He had no time to get out of the way. The whale, its strength giving out, ran blindly aground upon the rocks, hurtling at such a speed that it smashed to earth fifteen metres from the waves. Then, lying on its side, exhausted and motionless, it seemed ready to expire at the feet of the stupefied John Bird.
[B&W Illustration p. 69: "Arrivée de la baleine en Australie" = "Arrival of the whale to Australia"]
A third individual was to appear on the scene. A tall, gaunt and ungainly man, bald and bespectacled, strode up rapidly, waving his arms and an oversized umbrella. A long yellow overcoat floated behind him. The newcomer, careless of his unprotected shoes, bounded through the puddles, splashing himself from top to toe. Thus we introduce to our readers, with their permission, the celebrated scientist Mr. Valentin Croknuff, founder-director of the great Melbourne Aquarium, an establishment almost without rival, where all known species of fish swim back and forth in continuously-recycled sea-water. Mr. Croknuff's aquarium lacked nothing but a whale, so his joy may be imagined when, at that very moment on a restocking expedition, he observed from a distance the monster stranded on the sand.
John Bird was just about to finish the creature off, brandishing a harpoon that he had recovered from its flesh, when a violent blow from an umbrella fell upon his head. His pipe fell out of his mouth and broke.
The furious John Bird turned on his assailant to strike back.
"I'll buy your whale -- don't touch it, you imbecile!" cried Mr. Croknuff, the man with the umbrella. John Bird lowered his fist.
Having received his money, John Bird turned on his heel, saying: "Now take your whale away, if you can!"
That was the difficult part -- but Mr. Croknuff got it done regardless -- and that same evening, all Melbourne was informed, by means of huge posters, that the scientist Mr. Croknuff had finally acquired for his great aquarium the whale of his dreams.
Mr. Valentin Croknuff spent the whole night lavishing much-needed care upon his cherished whale. The unfortunate creature was in a sad state, flapping its fins lamentably.
Mr. Croknuff's great aquarium was situated in a nice part of Melbourne, on a grand avenue called Aquarium Road. A beautiful garden was laid out in front of the building, in whose shade passers-by could often observe the worthy Mr. Croknuff walking for hours with a sick baby seal in his arms, or a sea-lion overtaken by nostalgia.
The aquarium was octagonal in shape, comprising eight immense tanks surrounding a central room -- which Mr. Croknuff, in order to be always in the midst of his pupils, had made into his workroom and his bedroom. In a way, he actually lived in a submarine world, and could watch over the health of his stock as easily by night as in the daytime. He was,in consequence, familiar with all their little habits. He had studied their characters and had made himself master of them all, a good father to his family.. He made them change tanks when they became bored, and alleviated the tedium of long winter evenings by charming them with symphonies played on the piano, performed with the most marvellous verve.
[B&W Illustration p. 71: "La chambre à coucher de M. Croknuff " = "Mr. Croknuff's bedroom"]
It ought to be said that it was entirely for the benefit of his inmates that Mr. Croknuff had learned the piano. Mr. Croknuff, like all sensible men, detested music -- particularly piano music -- but he told himself that music being was a prehistoric invention, a last relic of barbarism which civilization would one day sweep away, that savage art might perhaps still be agreeable to the scarcely-elevated natures of his boarders.
[B&W Illustration p. 75: "Soirée musicale à l'aquarium" = "An evening of music at the aquarium"]
That night, Mr. Croknuff was entirely devoted to his whale; the other fish, glued to the glass, awaited in vain the concert which sent them to sleep every evening.
The whale turned round and round in its aquarium like a mad thing. Mr. Croknuff was desperate to do something to ease its distress. He had scratched away distractedly at his denuded skull for hours, without seeing any means of putting an end to its suffering. Suddenly, the whale made a convulsive movement; its jaws opened very wide and its eyes closed. Mr. Croknuff, believing that it was about to give up the ghost, pounced on his piano -- on which, in order to soothe the poor whale's last moments, he plucked out the despairing chords of Mozart's Requiem, watering the keys with his tears.
When he lifted his head again,however, the whale was not dead -- and it was no longer alone. A bizarre creature was standing by its side!
[Colour Illustration 12e LIV.: "M. Valentin Croknuff, directeur du grand aquarium de Melbourne" = "Mr. Valentine Croknuff, director of the Great Aquarium of Melbourne"]
Mr. Croknuff, rubbing his eyes, realised that the trespasser was a diver dressed in a suit!
Leaping briskly on to the aquarium's platform, Mr. Croknuff slid a ladder into the tank and, without saying a word, signalled to the diver to climb up. Our readers will recognise Mysora -- who had survived being swallowed by the gluttonous monster, thanks to her extra-strong costume.
Mr. Croknuff and Mysora climbed down into the scientist's bedroom. Mr. Croknuff seemed to be furious. Standing before Mysora with his arms folded he began cursing explosively. "Ah! ah! ah! Wretch! So it's you who've been hurting my whale! Do you know, infamous torturer, that I can have you up in court -- you've no right to damage my property!"
Mysora, who did not speak a word of English, understood nothing of this discourse. In any case, the poor girl was at the end of her tether. Without making any response, she fainted, letting herself fall into an armchair.
"Here we go!" Croknuff grumbled. "Look who's ill now! There's a chap who doesn't stand on ceremony! As if I had time to attend to him, when the poor whale he's hurt is suffering so! Let's see now -- come round, my friend. Hang on -- drink this. It's a bottle of sugared water I prepared for a baby seal with the measles....drink up! Quickly! I've got to get back to my whale!" And Mr. Croknuff, his head turned towards his whale, rapped on Mysora's iron helmet with the bottle of sugared water. "Well, drink it, then!" he went on. "Ah -- I get it! It's his diving-suit getting in the way!" Replacing the bottle on his desk, Mr. Croknuff set about unfastening Mysora's diving-suit.
Suddenly, he cried out and let the helmet fall to the ground. Mysora's pretty head had appeared before his eyes, pallid with the emotion of those thirty terrible hours. Her long hair had come undone, and made a magnificent ebony frame for the bleached canvas of her face. Life seemed to be returning; her large eyes opened wide with effort as she tried to get her bearings.
Her gaze fell first upon the glass partition of the huge tank where the whale, finally restored to health, was swimming quite calmly back and forth. Mysora let out a feeble scream at the sight of the monster -- which, bumping its nose against the wall of its prison, fixed its little round eyes upon her. She fainted again.
No scientist had ever experienced an emotion as great as Mr. Croknuff's. His heart beat faster and his spectacles jumped on his nose as his eyes flickered back and forth between the whale and the girl. What blows he rained upon his forehead with his fist! Eventually, having moved an atlas and a stuffed tuna out of the way, he sat down on a low chair beside the young woman and began slapping both her hands gently to bring her round.
A few feeble sighs were his only response. Mr. Croknuff jumped up, satisfied, threw himself upon the bottle of sugared water and tried to force a few drops between the young woman's lips.
"How beautiful she is! How beautiful!" murmured Mr. Croknuff, his attentions becoming more profuse. "What long hair! What little hands! And the nose -- what lovely curvature! What eyes! What eyebrows! What teeth! How beautiful she is! How beautiful! Drink this for me, my girl. Oof! What a woman! There's an adventure -- walking on the sea-bed in a diving-suit, being swallowed by a whale! She loves fish! How beautiful she is! How beautiful! I love them too, and I've always dreamed of a Mrs. Croknuff who would love fish....but I've never found one, and have remained a bachelor. Yes, my girl! That's what you see -- a bachelor! Drink this for me, my girl. I made it for my baby seal; it's very good.... How beautiful she is! How beautiful!!!"
Mr. Croknuff was beside himself. None of his friends would have recognised in this man whose speech and manners were wildly disordered, the illustrious scientist -- author of eight conscientious volumes on the habits of the lobster before dressing, of lengthy and patient studies on the habits of reef-building polyps, and numerous other scientific works -- as he knelt beside Mysora, sighing frantically and bathing the hands of the girl abandoned to his care with tender tears.
It must be acknowledged that although Mr. Croknuff no longer had any hair or teeth, he still had a heart -- and that heart had quickened its beat for the very first time! Mr. Croknuff firmly believed that he had committed himself entirely to pisciculture -- but here was his heart in sudden rebellion, up-ending everything in its way, laying down the law to its former master, Mr. Croknuff's brain.
It was all over! Mr. Croknuff could no longer contain himself.
"Angel!" he said to Mysora -- for he was already thinking of her as an angel, and addressed her thus. "Angel! I love you, and I offer you my hand and my aquarium! Accept them! You love fish; I love them too! I love you; you shall love me; we shall love one another, here! Give me your answer, angel!"
[B&W Illustration p. 77: "-- O ange! dit-il à Mysora" = "'O Angel!' said he to Mysora"]
Mysora, coming round, had opened her eyes; at first she understood nothing of what Mr. Croknuff said, taking him for an aged doctor -- then, confronted by the scientist's fervent pantomime, she began to wonder whether she had miraculously escaped one great peril only to fall into another no less terrible.
Poor Mysora pushed Mr. Croknuff away and stood up, her face pale, her hair in disarray and her expression distraught.
"What do you want from me?" she cried, in Malay. "Do you know that I'm the daughter of the Rajah of Timor, and the bride-to-be of Saturnin Farandoul, captain of La Belle Léocadie. Beware the vengeance of my father, or that -- more terrible still -- of my beloved Farandoul!"
Mr. Croknuff had grasped nothing from this speech except for one thing: Mysora was angry. Mr. Croknuff's rejuvenated heart ached at that sad thought, and its proprietor grovelled desperately at the feet of the incensed young woman. "Pardon me, sweet dove! I would give my whale, and my aquarium with it, not to have offended you! You don't understand -- I love you! It's my heart, my hand, my aquarium, that I offer you! Permit me to speak to you of love; listen to me! Your arrival has turned my life upside-down, and thanks to you I have experienced what experts in these matters call love at first sight! I have not studied the physiology of the passions; like a madman, I denied love -- but a single instant has revealed it to me. Angel, I love you!" And Mr. Croknuff, still on his knees, extended his arms towards Mysora.
Mysora leapt backwards, abruptly took up her helmet, refastened her diving-suit, and leapt on to the platform of the aquarium as rapidly as a flash of lightning.
"Greybeard," she cried, "you have shown me that there are monsters more dreadful to young women than those one meets at the bottom of the sea! Since you force it upon me, I shall return to the whale -- but tremble, for my Farandoul will come to save me!"
[B&W Illustration p. 79: "-- Tremble! mon Farandoul viendra me délivrer" = "'Tremble! for my Farandoul will come to save me'"]
Saying these words, the heroic young woman slid into the aquarium. The whale, which had not been paying attention, started with fright and retreated to the most distant extremity of the tank.
Mysora had not been unaware of the dangers that she might run in cetacean society, but she had decided to brave them in order to keep herself pure for her beloved. She was delighted to see, however, that it was she who frightened the whale. The voracious cetacean was conscious of the torment it had suffered as a result of taking such an indigestible creature into its gut, and it was now disposed to keep well clear of Mysora.
Mr. Croknuff, on the other hand, stood on the platform wringing his hands, at the risk of tearing out the last of his hair in his anguish. At one point he seemed to be on the point of throwing himself head-first into the aquarium to end his life, but then he tried to move Mysora to pity.
The young woman obdurately refused to leave her protective shelter.
At sunrise, Mr. Croknuff went away. The doors of the establishment were soon opened to the waiting crowd, whose members had come from all over Melbourne to see his whale.
The general astonishment was immense when they saw that in addition to the whale, the central tank contained a creature clad in a diving-suit, which seemed to be living on amicable terms with the enormous cetacean. Mr. Croknuff was there, in the process of receiving the congratulations of the Scientific Societies of Melbourne; pressed by questions, he tried to keep his explanations vague, but only succeeded in further exciting their curiosity. Some of his employees, cunningly interrogated, were less discreet; several rumours began to circulate within the crowd.
Soon, all Melbourne knew that Mr. Croknuff had a live siren in his aquarium, so accomplished and so marvellously beautiful that he had been obliged to take it upon himself to dress her in a diving-suit, in order to spare her the fervent curiosity of the public.
Poor Mysora, finding herself the object of every gaze, sought to hide herself as completely as possible behind boulders covered with algae and marine plants; but there, on the opposite face of the aquarium -- which, as we have observed, looked out into Mr. Croknuff's office -- she found her odious persecutor plastered against the glass, blowing her the most tender kisses. The poor girl quickly took herself off to the other side, where numerous hurrahs greeted her return. It was the same all day. As evening approached, she contrived to make herself a refuge with the boulders -- a sort of cave where, exhausted by fatigue, she went calmly to sleep, after having first partaken of a light supper dispensed by Mr. Croknuff from the platform of the aquarium.
[B&W Illustration p. 83: "La nuit dans l'aquarium" = "Night in the aquarium"]
Mr. Croknuff gave himself up completely to the most brilliant improvisations on the piano, but Mysora refused to pay the least attention to the waves of harmony which rolled across the aquarium, to the great delight of the other inmates. That night, not a single resident fish went to sleep; Mysora alone found forgetfulness of her troubles in slumber -- and travelled the empire of dreams in company with her beloved Farandoul.
What was our hero doing in the meantime? Had La Belle Léocadie perished when the tempest took hold of her, after the cables attaching her to the whale had ruptured? Not at all. Farandoul was an excellent mariner; mastering his grief, he thought only of saving his crew, and La Belle Léocadie had, fortunately, extracted herself from all danger. Two days after the storm, the three-master had come into Sandridge, Melbourne's port, situated a few kilometres away from the town. Farandoul hoped to pick up the track of the whale there, as the monster had been racing towards Port Philip when it had given him the slip. He had soon discovered John Bird, and had obtained from him, by courtesy of a few well-placed guineas, every detail of the purchase and removal of the whale by the scientist Mr. Croknuff.
Farandoul went forthwith to Melbourne's great aquarium, and entered the establishment at the moment when the greatest influx of curiosity-seekers was crowding into it.
Scientists, naturalists, academicians, journalists and tradesmen were overrunning the aquarium. Mr. Croknuff found himself pulled in every direction, by the members of a special commission sent by the Melbourne Institute, by doctors desirous of dissecting the so-called siren, by photographers and reporters from every newspaper in the state of Victoria -- and so on, and so on.
[B&W Illustration p. 81: "La nouvelle recrue de l'aquarium" = "The aquarium's new recruit"]
Farandoul elbowed his way through the crowd.
"Where is she? Where is she?" he cried, shoving the scientists out of the way.
"Who do you mean?"
"My whale -- let me see my whale!" He had arrived in front of the largest tank in the aquarium in spite of the efforts Mr. Croknuff made to repel him.
One glance was sufficient. The whale was there -- and, alive within the aquarium, separated from him by a mere pane of glass, Mysora put out her arms to him.
What luck! Farandoul wanted to embrace Mr. Croknuff - - but Croknuff, having inferred that he was an enemy, thrust him away acrimoniously. "Who are you, sir? What do you want?"
"I am her husband-to-be, worthy scientist, and I have come to find her!" Farandoul replied, at the summit of happiness, "I believed her dead, my dear Mysora -- imagine my joy on seeing her again....on....."
"My dear sir," Mr. Croknuff interrupted him. "I've bought the whale. I've paid for it, so it belongs to me...."
"I'm not laying claim to the whale, but...."
"But the creature that you see there was inside the whale at the time of the transaction, and was included in the price! I'm holding on to it -- holding hard, devil take you! You don't think that I'll generously make you a gift of it, now that it's the most important inmate of my aquarium, do you? I've got it, and I'm keeping it!"
Farandoul had gone from joy to surprise, and from surprise to anger. He seized Mr. Croknuff by the throat, and was preparing to throw him through the glass of the aquarium in which the trembling Mysora was imploring his help when hastily-summoned policemen restrained him.
"I place my property under the safeguard of the authorities!" Mr. Croknuff shouted, as Farandoul held on to him. "I'm an Australian citizen. I've a right to the protection of the law, for myself and my goods!"
How can we describe Farandoul's rage? How can we speak of the plans for massacre that bubbled up in his head? As soon as he was out of the hands of the police, he hurled himself towards La Belle Léocadie's mooring. He assembled his men on the bridge and told them what had happened. A unanimous demand for revenge went up from every mouth. The sailors immediately armed themselves with revolvers and boarding-hatchets. Leaving two men to guard the ship, they set off for Melbourne.
Farandoul wanted to wait for nightfall before attacking the aquarium,for fear of raising too great a commotion in Melbourne. This delay proved fatal! The wily Croknuff had had him followed to his ship by one of the aquarium's keepers. This man, having seen the sailors disembark with obvious hostile intent, had retraced his steps in a hurry in order to warn his master.
Croknuff had lost no time. The aquarium had been rapidly prepared for its defence. The authorities, forewarned, had sent to its aid a battalion of provincial militia with two cannons and forty mounted policemen.
When the shadows of night extended themselves over the city, Farandoul and his little troop marched on the aquarium. When they arrived, the mariners ran into an armed camp. Farandoul went pale at the sight of the bivouac fires. Nevertheless, he advanced boldly as far as the first guard-post.
"Halt! Who goes there!" shouted the sentries. And, as the mariners continued to advance, a shot was fired in the air.
An officer and several horsemen hastened forward. Farandoul began to negotiate with the officer, and obtained consent to go alone to the threshold of the aquarium. There he tried to obtain by eloquence what he could not take by force.
It was utterly useless.
"I'm personally very sorry for you, sir," the colonel said to him, in conclusion, "but I can't grant your desire. I entirely understand that your motives may be respectable, but the law is the law and the property of every Englishman is sacred. As a militiaman, I must protect public safety, and it is my duty to force you to re-embark. at least until you consent to abandon all hostile plans."
"Never! I shall have Mysora, by agreement or by force.
"Then it's war, sir. If you dare to attack, you will find yourself facing all the combined forces of the state of Victoria, Australia and old England!"
"As you said, it's war," Farandoul replied, with grim resolution." And if I do not attack today, know that you will lose nothing by waiting. Ah, perfidious Albion, you are protecting a crime, sustaining the oppressors of innocence. The day of vengeance will come, and you shall know the weight of arms borne in a just course! I, Saturnin Farandoul, captain of La Belle Léocadie, declare war on the State of Melbourne -- and on Australia and England too, if they so wish! Hear me, soldiers! I tell you that this will soon be a battlefield!"
Saturnin Farandoul and his little troop retraced their steps to the ship. Farandoul, mulling over terrible plans, said not a word on the way. La Belle Léocadie put on sail the following morning, at the same hour as huge posters were affixed to every wall in Melbourne, bearing the simple words:
WAR TO THE DEATH AGAINST AUSTRALIA
See you soon!
Three months have gone by since the fatal events that we have related. Sir James Collingham, Her Majesty's Governor of the State of Victoria, is surveying his office in an indescribable state of agitation. Sir James appears distraught; his uniform is unbuttoned, his face has taken on the hue of a cooked lobster and he seems close to collapse. He reads and re-reads dispatches brought in one after another by men as agitated as their commander.
This is what these dispatches say:Rumour has it that hordes of armed brigands disembarked last night four miles from here. Have sent for confirmation.
Geelong, 16th May, 5-45 a.m.Fugitives bring news. The disembarkation continues. Brigands marching on Geelong. Militia summoned. Scouts have not returned. Request help.
Geelong, 16th May, 10-50.Messenger arrived under flag of truce. Sent by Saturnin Farandoul, general-in-chief of the Oceanian army, who sent declaration of war three months ago. Says he will attack in two hours if we do not surrender. Request help. Urgent.
Geelong, 16th May, 11-30.Attack has begun. Militia falling back to town. Help!
Geelong, 16th May, 2 p.m.Town taken by Farandoulian troops. Station under attack. We are retreating.
Geelong, 16th May, 3-15.
Geelong, 16th May, 4-50.
Colonel Campbell to governor.
Arrived too late. Geelong taken by Farandoulian troops; we are covering the retreat. The enemy is coming. Hurrah for old England!
4-58. Attack begun. Our advance-guard is retreating. Strange! The Farandoulian troops are hairy. Beating a retreat so as not to be cut off by an enemy flanking movement. Losses considerable. Send help.Croknuff, director of the great Aquarium, to the governor. Request permission to establish a battery of torpedoes for the protection of the aquarium against Farandoulian attack.
Melbourne, 6th May, 5 o'clock.Sir James, to avoid suffocation, decides to take off his uniform. Officers press in upon him from every side, some bringing news, others coming in search of orders, all shouting and jostling. Troops are massing in front of the governor's mansion; dispatch-riders clatter across the pavement; drums beat; clarion calls reverberate.
Heavy artillery-pieces are arriving at the gallop with a terrible racket of bronze and old iron. The lugubrious strokes of the tocsin, sounding in every edifice, can be heard over the uproar, completing the sinister symphony.
The Assembly (the upper chamber) and the Council (the lower chamber) have been urgently summoned to vote through all the defensive measures proposed by the governor.
The attack has been so sudden that it has thrown everything into disarray; no one has any but the vaguest information about the enemy; nothing is known of its strength or its intentions, for the successive telegrams shed no light on the situation and officers sent out on reconnaissance do not come back.
The Geelong railway has been requisitioned to carry battalions of militia rapidly to the aid of Colonel Campbell, but it is feared that they never arrived, the line having been cut by the enemy in advance of that officer's position.
In the middle of this military tohu-bohu, a carriage arrives at the governor's mansion. A man gets out and hurries up the grand staircase. It is the editor of the Melbourne Herald, the most important newspaper in the state of Victoria. "Where's the governor?" he shouts, brandishing a piece of paper. "Here's news from Dick Broken, the reporter I sent to Geelong this morning! Do you want the details?"
A group of officers form a circle around the editor of the Melbourne Herald; the governor gives him permission to speak.
"This is the letter from my reporter -- listen!
[B&W Illustration p. 85: "Le reporter du Melbourne Herald" = "The Melbourne Herald's reporter"]Sick at heart, I write to you from the depths of the profoundest astonishment. The sinister rumours which reached Melbourne this morning are not unfounded; the enemy has disembarked during the night near Geelong and has seized the town. In spite of my best efforts I cannot get into Geelong, which is occupied by Farandoulian troops. The rout of the defenders of that unhappy town has caught me up and carried me several miles back like a torrent. The enemy has lost no time in catching up with us and, as you can imagine, I have made every effort to place myself in the front rank. Having spurred my horse to full tilt, I soon found myself at the battle-front. The enemy fire was intermittent, sometimes dying away entirely and sometimes sweeping across certain targets with an extraordinary regularity that astonished our old warriors. There was something mechanical about it, something like the rotation, so to speak, of a sewing-machine. I could not make out anything on the enemy side except for the smoke of their guns, and great black masses moving in the distance. At four o'clock Colonel Campbell's reinforcements arrived; that veteran of the Indian wars, full of confidence, immediately resolved to charge the enemy to resume combat; it goes without saying that I took my place in the attack column.
Cheep Hill, 5-15.
I cannot describe the hurricane of fire and steel that was unleashed around us as we formed up; we were advancing regardless, when a wood situated to our left disgorged upon our staggering column an avalanche of warriors protected by huge shields and armed with clubs. Thus we came to see the Farandoulian troops at close range! These warriors were bounding with superhuman vigour, so rapidly that they were on us before we could square up to them. Hardly anyone fired a shot before we had to defend ourselves with bayonets against these demons. War cries also sounded to our right, and we soon saw new enemies leaping with extraordinary agility over the closely-pressed ranks of militiamen. It was then, for the first time, that I saw something which terrified me! I rubbed my eyes, but a great cry let loose by the staff officer made me understand that my sight was not at fault! At the same moment, the column fell into total disarray, and the retreat began. How can I tell you what we had seen? Expect the most thunderous surprise, the strangest and most frightful revelation!
[B&W Illustration p. 93: "Charge à la bayonette" = "A bayonet charge"]
Know, then, that we were beating a retreat before an army of fearsome monkeys! Yes -- all those who survive will be able to swear to it -- our enemies are monkeys, armed, trained and commanded by regular troops!
Their leader, of whom I caught a glimpse during the heat of the battle, is none other than the audacious mariner who threatened Melbourne three months ago!
My horse having been killed, I had to follow the retreat sitting on a canon. We have arrived at Cheep Hill, which Colonel Campbell believes he can hold. I shall send news!Everyone was stunned by this recital. A few officers having expressed doubts, the editor of the Melbourne Herald defended his reporter animatedly, while a new dispatch arrived to put paid to the last uncertainties.
It consisted of the following:The monkeys are mounting a flanking movement. We are surrounded. Troops demoralized. Awaiting assault. Put Melbourne on a war footing or the colony is lost.
Cheep Hill, 16th May, 7 p.m.A council of war was immediately assembled. Melbourne was put under martial law; detachments were sent out to scour the country along the Geelong road. Soon, an entire army, comprising militia and volunteers, took up positions in that direction to defend the city.
The night passed without any further news from Cheep Hill. Colonel Campbell's silence caused the governor tremendous disquiet and foreboding. At five o'clock in the morning, however, the Melbourne Herald received a second letter from its reporter.The dark spectre of defeat hovers relentlessly overhead. Cheep Hill is taken; Colonel Campbell has been obliged to surrender.
Cheep Hill, 10 o'clock.
I am a prisoner of the Farandoulian monkeys. Nevertheless, I will do everything I can to get this letter to you. I told you that Colonel Campbell believed that he could hold his position and keep the monkeys in check long enough to allow the defence of Melbourne to be organised. Our troops, harassed and demoralized, camped on the hill while the colonel established his general quarters in the buildings of Cheep Hill Farm. Large woods enveloped the hill to our rear and Colonel Campbell counted on taking refuge there in case of a reverse. Unfortunately, the darkness of these woods also served to hide a flanking movement which the left wing of the monkeys' army carried out, with a rapidity that no longer astonishes us now that we know our enemy, while our troops were drawing breath. The battle recommenced at the centre of the position at about seven o'clock; our rested militiamen did their best and we began to feel hope reborn in our hearts, when catastrophe suddenly overtook us.
Everyone was facing the enemy, fighting amid a chorus of hurrahs for old England. All of a sudden, loud cries were raised in the tops of the trees to the rear of our position. Every head turned that way and, by the rays of the setting sun, we were affrighted to see the legion of our enemies bearing down on us, leaping from crown to crown.
[B&W Illustration p. 87: "Mouvement tournant" = "A flanking movement"]
The foliage of every tree was swarming with howling and grimacing enemies; the very forest seemed to be alive, marching upon us as in Macbeth, but we had scarcely time to think. The monkeys, arriving at the last trees, leapt into our ranks, screeching frightfully and whirling their heavy clubs. The carnage was of a terrible magnitude. Minute by minute, further battalions of monkeys leapt upon us from the heights of the eucalyptus and gum-trees, swept over our troops with irresistible force.
Campbell's dragoons attempted a charge, but the monkeys, jumping on the horses' rumps, toppled the riders and came at us again with even greater impetuosity.
At that moment, the Farandoulians we had been facing came into play. I was able to see, in the midst of the heat of battle, a troop of monkeys protected by long ironwood shields advancing in regular formation, while other quadrumanes, probably members of an elite corps, armed with rifles and commanded by men in bright uniforms, spread out as sharpshooters.
[B&W Illustration p. 91: "La colonne d'attaque" = "The attacking column"]
Colonel Campbell formed a second front in order to try to face up to all our enemies. We were obviously lost! Suddenly, a strident shout let loose by their leader, whom I recognised to be the terrible Farandoul, cut through the tumult of the battle. At that signal, the fight ceased; a monkey waving a white flag came forward, at the same time as Farandoul moved his horse towards us.
"Soldiers, it's time to stop the bloodshed," he shouted. "You're surrounded. Surrender!"
Colonel Campbell gave the order to cease fire and went to meet him. Covered in blood like a wounded lion, the old warrior was determined to sell his own life dearly -- but he wished at least to try to save the lives of what remained of his army.
"Colonel," Farandoul said to him, "continuing the fight will serve no purpose. You are surrounded by twenty thousand monkeys, and more reinforcements will reach me tonight. Lay down your arms. I promise to treat you with all due consideration to your bravery."
The old warrior, in tears, decided to capitulate. An agreement was rapidly concluded and the troops, now prisoners of war, surrendered their arms to the monkeys.
Such were the events which will go down in history as the Battle and Surrender of Cheep Hill.
I am being held prisoner with the staff-officers. Our surgeons are dressing the wounds of both armies. The monkeys, so terrible in battle, now seem very amiable, and full of concern for our wellbeing. I will even say that they seem to me to be rather good chaps.
The most perfect order is maintained in their army. I was able to catch a glimpse of General Farandoul. He is very busy, but he has promised me a brief interview. I will send you all the details and provoke as many indiscretions as I can.P.S. I have had a chat with Colonel Mandibul, General Farandoul's chief staff-officer. He has told me the curious details of the composition of the Farandoulian army. The main body of the army is composed of monkeys from Borneo and New Guinea; the elite troops armed with new machine-guns of Farandoul's own design -- which explains the sewing-machine sound I mentioned this morning -- come from an island where General Farandoul spent his childhood. These monkeys obey their leaders with a discipline that the best European troops would envy. The general is the idol of his army.
DICK BROKENA special edition of the Melbourne Herald appeared at eight o'clock in the morning on the 17th May; the disastrous news imparted by the courageous reporter's remarkable letters threw the entire city into the greatest confusion.
The most distraught of all the citizens of Melbourne was most certainly the scientist Mr. Croknuff; mounted on a little pony hired for that purpose, in spite of his distaste for equitation, he was galloping towards the governor's general quarters to assure himself of the verity of the facts.
He had no need to question the officers at length to bring himself up to date. A loud fusillade from the advance-posts apprised him of the situation sufficiently. He dug his spurs into the flanks of his steed and turned back towards the aquarium, bouncing in his saddle.
The environs of the aquarium had altered considerably since the preceding day. An immense moat six metres deep and fifteen wide guarded the approach. Hundreds of workmen were occupied in using the earth excavated from the trench to construct a rampart bastioned in the regulation manner. Others were crenellating the walls of the aquarium. In advance of all these projects, an engineer -- a friend of Mr. Croknuff's -- had prepared mine-chambers connected by electrical wiring to the director's office.
Mr. Croknuff went into the grounds. Leaping swiftly from the saddle -- which was scarcely difficult, as his feet were almost touching the ground -- he advanced upon the labourers.
"Is the moat ready?" he asked.
"Yes sir, it's all ready; the pipes carrying the water are fully functional."
"It's just as well. Give the signal -- the enemy's drawing near!"
At a blast from the foreman's whistle, the dam was opened and water, brought directly from the sea by a subterranean canal to serve the aquarium's needs, poured into the moat, which was soon full. To complete the grounds' defences, Mr. Croknuff released his famous whale from its tank in the aquarium, along with two little Javanese sharks and a dozen giant octopodes. These redoubtable animals, happy to have more room, were soon swimming in the moat, thus rendering it impossible to cross. Mr. Croknuff was obviously neglecting no opportunity in recruiting his inmates to the defence of the aquarium.
[B&W Illustration p. 95: "Préparatifs de défense" = "Defensive preparations"]
Mr. Croknuff felt that he was under a greater threat than any other citizen of Melbourne, because he understood that this terrible war had been ignited by him -- by his obstinate refusal to surrender Mysora. And Mr. Croknuff was utterly determined. Victory or death! The great aquarium of Melbourne would not capitulate!
What, meanwhile, had become of poor Mysora? The unfortunate girl had not left her moist abode for three months; she too was resolute and nothing -- neither pleas nor threats -- could make her give way. She had decided that she would rather spend her life in her underwater grotto than ever consent to become Mrs. Croknuff, as the horrid old scientist incessantly pressed her to do.
In three months Mr. Croknuff had been changed out of all recognition. His heart burned white hot within his breast. A few hairs, favoured by this interior climate, had even contrived to reappear upon his cranium. For three months his every waking moment had been consecrated to the tank in which the poor girl languished, in company with the whale that was the cause of all her troubles.
Mr. Croknuff spent his days on the platform of the aquarium, trying to soften Mysora's heart. Needless to say, all his arguments were in vain -- they were, in any case, in English, and Mysora only understood Malay.
The poor girl, with unparalleled constancy, passed her days in walking back and forth across the aquarium in order to give herself a little exercise. By night or when she wanted to be alone in order to think of her beloved Farandoul without being troubled by curiosity-seekers she retired to her little grotto.
Mr. Croknuff, of course, did not neglect to carry her meals up to the platform of the aquarium, and soon began taking his own in the same place at the same time -- but Mysora immediately quit his company whenever he risked repeating his passionate declarations. She had to do that more than once to put an end to such assaults, threatening with expressive gestures to cut the tube which supplied her with breathable air.
[B&W Illustration p. 84: No title]
Mysora, who expected every day to be saved by Farandoul, understood when she saw Croknuff fortifying the aquarium that her beloved was coming. Her heart beat faster; the final hour of her ordeal had sounded, and she had to be ready for anything!
At noon on the 17th of May, Mr. Croknuff went up to the roof of the aquarium and anxiously followed the vicissitudes of the fervent fighting just outside Melbourne along the Geelong road. Rifle-shots and cannon-fire made the walls of the aquarium tremble on their foundations; it was obvious that the battle was drawing nearer.
[B&W Illustration p. 97: "L'observatoire de M. Croknuff" = "Mr. Croknuff's observation deck"]
Retreating soldiers were beginning to flock back to the streets of Melbourne, their tales of terror spreading through the city. Seeing that the moment of truth was approaching, Mr. Croknuff gave the order to raise the drawbridge and sent his defenders to their posts.
At that moment, some newspaper-sellers appeared, announcing a new edition of the Melbourne Herald. Mr. Croknuff called out to one of the criers and asked for a copy. The vendor attached the paper to a piece of string lowered from the rampart, whereupon one of the sharks in the moat leapt out of the water and snapped at him; fortunately, the poor man fell back in fright, and the greedy monster caught nothing but his bag of papers, which it swallowed for want of anything better.
[B&W Illustration p. 101: "Le marchand de journaux et le requin de Java" = "The newspaper dealer and the Javanese shark"]
On the first page of the paper, with headlines in large letters, were the following communications from the valiant reporter Dick Broken:
Cheep Hill, 3 a.m.
I have just now chatted with General Farandoul, the terrible leader of the monkeys, for a quarter of an hour. He is still quite young, but his forehead seems to be marked with the seal of genius. By some unknown means, he has become the instructor and commander of an army of monkeys whose devotion to his person is absolute.
His special guard consists of two hundred quadrumanes whom he knows very intimately, having apparently spent his childhood with them.
At the present time some 40,000 monkeys have disembarked, divided into several brigades commanded by the former mariners of the three-master La Belle Léocadie.
The Farandoulian troops
General Farandoul is determined to carry out, with his forces and those he expects,
The Enemy's Intentions
Vast projects bubble up in his head: he dreams of founding an Oceanian Empire in Melbourne; he wishes to bring the simian race -- which he calls a race of "imperfect men" -- to civilization, bringing it nearer to the human race.
The Conquest of Australia
If England does not come immediately to our aid, no one can tell whether Farandoul might not become the Alexander and the Caesar of the fifth continent.
Stand up, men of free Australia, to block the road of conquest!The Farandoulian troops, harangued by their general, are marching enthusiastically along the road to Melbourne. Colonel Mandibul is in command of the advance guard; Commandant Kirkson has been ordered to take the prisoners of Campbell's corps to Geelong.
Cheep Hill, 3-15 a.m.
I shall try to escape.Thanks to my knowledge of the country I was able to escape from Cheep Hill, and this morning I reached the advance posts of the Australian army, in the midst of the greatest dangers. The battle is joined. The Farandoulians, I regret to say, are gaining ground with every minute that passes, in spite of the heroic bravery of our troops.
Outside Melbourne, 7 a.m.
7-25 a.m. Governor Collingham and his staff have been surprised and taken by an unexpected attack by monkeys falling from the treetops, like that which happened yesterday at Cheep Hill. The army is falling back in disarray towards Melbourne. I am in the thick of the brawl, taking notes for your benefit. We must prepare to fight from house to house, as at Saragossa! We must bury ourselves beneath the ruins of Melbourne like the Greeks at Missolonghi! To arms!
[B&W Illustration p. 84: "Sir Collingham est fait prisonnier" = "Sir Collingham is captured"]
I will send you the WHOLE story, with TERRIFYING DETAILS of atrocious, heroic and comical episodes, etc, etc, for the afternoon edition.
ANNOUNCE to your readers that TOMORROW a SUPPLEMENT with a literal account of ATROCITIES to come; I shall make every effort to ensure that I am present at every one.Mr. Croknuff had scarcely finished reading when violent detonations resounded at the end of the avenue. It was an artillery battery attempting to cover the retreat and stop the attackers. There was no longer any hope of that; the fight was on! Thanks to his spectacles, Mr. Croknuff clearly saw a troop of bounding apes fall upon the battery and take possession of it. Standing on his rampart, Mr. Croknuff harangued his men, demanding that they should fight to the last breath, to be buried with him, if it should come to that, beneath the ruins of the aquarium!
A great hurrah went up in response, and they waited for the attack. Hours went by as innumerable monkeys filed past the end of the avenue and spread out into the city, where the battle still continued in a few places. Then the gunfire dwindled away, eventually ceasing for good at about four o'clock.
The entire city was in the hands of the Farandoulians, who proceeded to disarm its inhabitants. Only a few patrols of monkeys were visible, and as dusk fell Mr. Croknuff perceived that the posts protecting his aquarium were the last point at which the English flag still flew.
[B&W Illustration p. 102: No title]
At daybreak the following morning, the Melbourne Heraldcame out again. A vendor brought one all the way to the aquarium. It contained the following proclamations:
The line attaching Australia to England is broken!
The old name is abolished.
The country will take the name of:
His majesty Saturnin I, its august founder, will take the title THE MONKEY KING.
FARANDOULIA (THE OCEANIAN EMPIRE)
Men and monkeys are equal before the law.
Parliamentary rule is abolished.
The provincial militias are dissolved.
The permanent army will be composed entirely of monkeys.
General Mandibul is appointed governor of Melbourne.
Issued to Melbourne at the general quarters of the Farandoulian armies.Bimanes of Melbourne,
His Majesty Saturnin I, whose heart is overflowing with sentiments of affection for all the subjects of his vast empire, whether they be bimanes or quadrumanes, invites you to be the first to offer to the world the noble example of true fraternity!
Live henceforth in peace with your formerly-disinherited brothers, the noble and generous monkeys who, brought up in the forests from generation to generation, have not been able, as you have, to partake of the banquet of civilization.
Though their manners are as yet unpolished, their hearts remain pure and good; they have forgotten the injuries done to their brothers and are ready to extend the hand of friendship as a sign of reconciliation.
Bimanes of Melbourne, resume the course of your everyday labours in peace, under the protection of the quadrumane armies.
The prosperity of the country will achieve new and greater heights. The united bimanes and quadrumanes will soon astonish the Old World and conquer it with new ideas!
At the Mansion of the Governor of Melbourne, 17th May
Colonel MAKAKO, Monkey Representative of Borneo;
Colonel TAPA-TAPA, Monkey Representative of New Guinea
All bimanes who continue to resist the Farandoulian troops will be brought before a military tribunal.
ORDERS OF THE DAY:
The bimane Croknuff, director of the Great Melbourne Aquarium will lay down his arms before noon if he does not wish to be treated with the full rigour of military law.
Melbourne, 17th May
On reading these proclamations, the bimane Croknuff became green with rage. The aquarium's downcast keepers seemed disposed to obey the orders of General Mandibul; since all other resistance had ceased, they wanted to know why their director was so stubbornly determined to fight. A few of them were appointed spokesmen by their comrades, but Mr. Croknuff cut them off.
"Degenerate sons of old England!" he cried. "I won't keep you. Go! Run away! Desert! Abandon the flag of the Motherland" I shall defend it alone, to the death! Tell the invaders that the great aquarium of Melbourne will die rather than surrender!"
The employees did not need to be told twice. The drawbridge was lowered in an eye-blink and they all left the enclosure, having disposed of their weapons. Mr. Croknuff, from the top of the rampart, saw them arrive at the first post and observed the felicitations addressed to them by the monkeys by means of hearty handshakes.
From now on, he was alone at his station -- alone with Mysora. Australia had but one defender: the heroic Croknuff!
Fortunately, Mr. Croknuff felt that he was well nigh invulnerable. The approaches to the fortress were garnished with carefully-disposed torpedoes; his moat, defended by the whale, the sharks and the octopodes, was uncrossable; and finally, as a last resort, a mine-chamber charged with fifteen kilos of dynamite had been excavated beneath the directorial office. Mr. Croknuff experienced a certain sensual thrill at the thought that if he were blown up, he would be blown up with Mysora.
In the afternoon, the monkeys gathered at the end of the avenue. Mr. Croknuff could see, with perfect distinction, Saturnin I giving orders to his brightly-clad staff. Oh, if he only had artillery, what a pleasure it would have been to shower his enemy with grape-shot!
When monkey scouts advanced cautiously to the wall surrounding the grounds, Mr. Croknuff afforded himself the pleasure of exploding one of his torpedoes under their feet. The unfortunate monkeys were hurled into the air, but their commandant -- our old friend from La Belle Léocadie, Seaman Tournesol -- escaped safe and sound, and went to make his report to Farandoul.
Mr. Croknuff having imprudently revealed his batteries, Farandoul postponed his attack.
When night fell Mr. Croknuff found it inconvenient to have to guard such a considerable expanse of ramparts all by himself. All night he had to march back and forth along the length of his fortifications, rifle in hand and keeping a sharp look-out. When morning approached he could not stay there, and being unable to see any preparations being made outside for an attack, he lay down on some sandbags.
One eye closed, then the other, and he fell into a profound sleep.
He slept very badly! He dreamed that he was the monkeys' prisoner and that Farandoul had him impaled for display in a new museum of natural history. Little monkeys came to this museum to listen to educational lectures on mankind. As the carefully-pinned-up Croknuff served as a subject for the professor's demonstrations, Farandoul and Mysora walked past wearing diving-suits and laughingly pointed him out to their children, who were similarly clad.
This horrid spectacle made Mr. Croknuff cry out in alarm and wake up. Horror! His dream was on the way to realisation. The monkeys were surrounding the aquarium, silently preparing to mount an assault. In advance of the monkeys, men dressed in diving-suits were descending into the moat.
Saturnin I had correctly reckoned that Mr. Croknuff, left alone in his fortress, could not mount a sufficient guard. He had assumed that fatigue would overcome the scientist at the end of the night, and all preparations had been made to profit from this opportunity. In the final hours of darkness, a battalion of monkeys had advanced upon the aquarium carrying ladders, wooden beams with which to make bridges, and brushwood to heap up in the moat.
Saturnin, Mandibul and four monkeys, having put on diving-suits, had descended into the moat -- repelling the attacks of the Javanese sharks with their air-pistols -- to fix large beams in place between the two banks. As for the whale, needless to say, it had fled to the far end of the semicircle at the first sight of the diving-suits.
[B&W Illustration p. 107: "Combat dans le fossé" = "Combat in the moat"]
It was at the very moment that the monkeys were arriving at the foot of the bastion that Mr. Croknuff awoke. It required thirty seconds of rubbing his eyes and pinching himself to ascertain that he was not still impaled -- and that was sufficient time for the monkeys to deploy their ladders.
As they mounted their deliberate assault, giving voice to their war-cry, Mr. Croknuff rediscovered his courage. He seized a ladder, and with a superhuman effort he pushed it aside, along with all those it carried. The cries were redoubled -- the ladder had collided with others as it fell, toppling scores of assailants -- but it did not put an end to the escalade. The monkeys, by grace of their natural agility, had nothing to fear from heavy falls; they got up again and resumed their charge with increased vigour.
[Colour Illustration 14e LIV.: "Le dernier défenseur de l'Australia" = "Australia's last defender"]
It was a success. The first line of defence was breached.
Mr. Croknuff, beside himself, howled with rage as he saw that he was on the point of being surrounded by monkeys leaping simultaneously on to the rampart from fifteen ladders. To perish thus, without vengeance! That single thought gave him the strength of ten, and with a great leap he threw himself backwards into the aquarium building, whose door he scarcely had time to barricade.
There was only a moment's respite; the second line of defence would be stormed soon enough -- but that respite, brief as it was, was sufficient for the enraged Croknuff to put his final plan into operation!
Standing in his directorial office, in the centre of the tanks of his aquarium, facing the terrified Mysora, he waited for Farandoul and the monkeys, in order to blow himself up along with them.
A single movement of his hand, and fifteen kilos of dynamite, bursting forth like a volcano, would rise up a thousand feet into the air, along with the wreckage of the aquarium, its assailants and the last citizen of free Australia.
Outside, the monkeys discussed the situation. Farandoul had the door broken down with the blows of an axe and came into the building alone. Realising that the old scientist, in his despair, might commit some act of savagery, he wanted to make one last attempt at conciliation before risking everything to tear Mysora from Mr. Croknuff's grasp.
With a single glance he measured the full extent of the danger. In the horrible rictus disfiguring Croknuff's face he read the manifest hope of terrible vengeance and fatal resolution. And Mysora was there, behind the pane of glass, holding out her trembling hands towards him.
"There's still time," he cried to the scientist. "Give in, and give me Mysora, and I'll make you Minister of Public Education! All resistance is useless. In a moment the aquarium and everyone in it will be in my power, and it will be too late to ask for mercy. Give me Mysora!"
"Come and get her!" Croknuff yelled.
Farandoul realised that only an attack of lightning rapidity could prevent Croknuff from doing any harm. He stepped back to the door and issued an order to his troops. A single voice replied, and the aquarium was invaded in less than a second. Meanwhile, ten monkeys who had been placed at each window were smashing every one -- including the walls of the tanks -- with single blows of heavy wooden beams. Farandoul and Mandibul launched hatchet-blows at Mysora's aquarium, which no one had dared to breach with a beam.
The entire building made a cracking sound, as if it were about to collapse. A torrent of water gushed from the tanks broken by the beams -- and in Croknuff's office, all the inmates of the aquarium were swarming around the legs of the semi-submerged scientist.
"Hurrah for old England! Croknuff howled, hurling himself towards his dynamite. "Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!" His lifted arm was about to come down, and his mine was about to do its work, when a hideous creature rose up from the debris of one of the tanks smashed by the monkeys' beams, and fell upon him.
It was his giant octopus -- his favourite, before the arrival of the whale -- which tore at him with its four pairs of arms and its innumerable suckers! The octopus held him firmly; he was about to perish in its grip or be drowned in his office.
[B&W Illustration p. 109: "La pieuvre échappée!!!" = "The octopus escaped!!!"]
Mysora was about to escape him....
Mr. Croknuff turned his head towards her. Farandoul having broken the wall of the tank with their hatchet-blows, Mysora had thrown herself into the arms of her triumphant fiance[a]. Farandoul and Mandibul were dragging her outside....
With a last desperate effort, Croknuff disengaged his arms from the grip of the octopus and triggered the mine-chamber. A frightful shock shook the ground; a terrible detonation resounded; a jet of flame burst forth like a waterspout....the aquarium exploded!
Walls, tanks, fish, monkeys -- the entire edifice and all those contained within it -- were projected violently into the air by the explosion, and their scattered debris strewn across the grounds, forming a circle with a radius of a mile.
Croknuff and his octopus, still locked in their embrace, were seen being lifted aloft amid splinters of wood, at the centre of a vortex of fire.
[B&W Illustration p. 111: "Epouvantable catastrophe" = "Horrible catastrophe"]
For several minutes the survivors of this disaster were unable to get their bearings. A cloud of black smoke ascended from the ruins of the aquarium. The first to speak was an individual who emerged from the moat wearing a blackened diving-suit.
"Help us, La Belle Léocadie!" he cried. "There's work to be done here!"
This person was General Mandibul, last seen with Farandoul carrying poor near-dead Mysora, when the mine exploded. Since he had been able to come safe and sound through the fiery furnace, there was still hope for the two young lovers.
Mariners and monkeys threw themselves in unison towards the moat.
A hand emerged from the water, then a head, and Farandoul appeared, supporting Mysora's inanimate body. Twenty arms were extended towards him to help him scale the slope with his precious burden.
Farandoul laid Mysora on the ground and anxiously unfastened the young woman's helmet.
This is what had happened:
Profiting from the interval when Croknuff was grappling with his octopus, Farandoul and Mandibul had got through the door with Mysora. The explosion had caught them on the rampart and had precipitated them into the moat while all those who were still inside the building had been blown up with Croknuff. No sooner had they concluded that they were saved when the sharks and the whale, terrified by the explosion, had passed over them like a cavalry charge, knocking them down. In the confusion, Mysora's air-tube had been severed, and the poor girl had collapsed in Farandoul's arms.
While the survivors collect themselves and take stock of he situation in the disaster area, a silent group surrounds Farandoul and his fiancée.
Mandibul is standing up, his arms crossed, in the grip of bitter grief. A few monkeys, scorched and blackened, burned in places, exchange sad glances. Farandoul's brothers wring their hands and a few large but furtive tears roll down the tanned cheeks of the former mariners of La Belle Léocadie.
Mysora is laid out on the grass, her unbound hair hanging loose about her shoulders, still clad in her diving-suit, her eyes seemingly closed for ever! Farandoul has flung his diving helmet away. Kneeling beside the young woman, he searches for the slightest sign of life -- one last hope!
Every assistance has been rendered in vain. Alas, Mysora is no more. The horrid Croknuff has not released his prey; his laughing shade may savour at leisure the grief of the unfortunate Farandoul.
O Mysora! Pure soul, torn at such a tender age from the enchantments of life, the love of your fiancé, the glorious Farandoul, conqueror of Australia, the Alexander of the fifth continent....your memory, O Mysora, will hover eternally above that distant land which your chaste face has poeticized. Many tears will be shed in future ages over the tale of your misfortunes; many hearts will beat faster for the sad Mysora. In the same way that strangers with sensitive souls search the undergrowth of the French island for the resting-place of Virginie, so will travellers whose business brings them to Australia turn aside from their routes to make pious pilgrimages to the tomb of Mysora!
But let us pass swiftly over these dolorous facts, lest our souls grow sad and our minds become afflicted by cruel memories.
Let us merely say that as soon as he was certain of his ill-fortune, Farandoul recovered his strength and courage. His robust spirit resurfaced; he felt that above all else he had a duty to his troops and to the security of the conquest for which he had paid so dearly.
After giving orders for Mysora's corpse to be carried with great ceremony to the gubernatorial mansion, Farandoul and Mandibul mounted their horses -- without bothering to take off their diving-suits -- in order to make a rapid review of the encampments of the Farandoulian army.
As trumpets and drums rallied the troops, the monkeys formed ranks and the column set out to march to the Parliament building, where it was based; soon, no one remained in the smoking ruins of the aquarium but a sentry charged with preventing bimanes from coming too close.
That day, every Farandoulian position saw the staff of its bimane leaders arrive like a whirlwind. The troops greeted their beloved general with cries and dances of enthusiasm, still unaware of the poignant grief that made Farandoul weep within the helmet of his diving-suit.
Overcoming his emotion, Farandoul took every necessary precaution to ensure the well-being and security of his devoted quadrumanes.
Melbourne's barracks being inadequate, Mandibul had thought of billeting the monkeys with the local population, and several regiments were already established in the homes of private individuals, but it was necessary to drop the idea, difficulties having cropped up with cantankerous folk who whined about tyranny and fainted away at the sight of the arrival in their homes of a dozen brave monkeys and a couple of quadrumane officers carrying billets for three days lodgings! In order not to offend the feminine part of the population, they contented themselves with occupying public buildings, and Farandoul gave orders for the establishment of a temporary camp in the Melbourne suburbs.
[B&W Illustration p. 112: "Logés chez l'habitant" = "Billetted among the natives"]
No resistance had any longer to be feared within the Victoria colony. Before throwing himself into the conquest of the other Australian states, Farandoul judged that it would be sensible to complete the re-organisation of the conquered province. He had cleared away its old institutions and was enthusiastic to establish new ones, in keeping with its new situation. A great conference was held in the gubernatorial mansion on the evening after Mysora's funeral.
Ambition was now the sole forceful sustenance of Farandoul's heart. He was determined to establish solid foundations for the empire that his valour was to carve out of the Australian continent. The participants in the conference were General Mandibul, the crew of La Belle Léocadie, and -- to preserve good diplomatic relations -- the leaders of the various monkey army corps.
[B&W Illustration p. 113: "Le conseil de guerre" = "The war council"]
"Bimanes and quadrumanes," said Farandoul, opening the session, "my dear comrades, I ought to begin by giving you a brief account of the exact situation. Having landed with forty thousand monkeys, we have gained possession of Melbourne in three days. The militias have been disarmed and the inhabitants subjugated; the entire province is in our power. Reinforcements will soon arrive; I estimate them at ten thousand monkeys, increasing our forces to fifty thousand combatants. That should be sufficient for anything, even to repulse any counter-offensive by the British. But get this firmly into your heads, comrades: it is by discipline alone that we shall be able to found something durable. It is by valour regulated by discipline that we have triumphed; it is by conserving that discipline that we shall ensure the destiny of Farandoulia for ever. Today, the bimanes of Australia, crushed and terrified by the suddenness of our victory, still regard us as victorious invaders. These attitudes must be subtly changed, so that they will come to feel that their destiny is linked to ours by a common interest. Tomorrow, under our protection, commerce and industry must begin anew; we must encourage that renaissance with a friendly attitude. Our leaders must be vigilant, to ensure that no bimane in molested, and that no disputes arise. Until public services can be organised, food and equipment requisitioned for the army will be paid for in bonds drawn on the future Ministry of Finance. Once again, bimanes and quadrumanes,I insist that the strictest equity be maintained in relations with the local people, and the most exact discipline in every detail of service."
The next day's Melbourne Herald acquainted the population with the decisions taken at this conference. At the head of its political section it featured the following decrees:
The province of Farandoulia known by the name of the State of Victoria is partitioned into five military divisions.
General Mandibul, governor of Melbourne, takes command of the first.
The bimanes Kirkson, Tournesol, Trabadec, Escoubico, colonels of the Farandoulian army, are named commandants of the second, third, fourth and fifth divisions, with the quadrumanes Lutungo of Java, Ungko of Sumatra, Nasico of Borneo and Wa-Wo-Wa of New Guinea as chiefs of staff.The Melbourne Herald followed these decrees with a series of biographical notes on the bimanes and quadrumanes appointed to these high positions. It was the indefatigable Dick Broken, of course, who had obtained all this information, his acquaintance with General Mandibul -- begun on the evening of the battle of Cheep Hill -- having made him better-known than anyone else to the leaders of the Farandoulian troops.
Here are the notices in question:
[B&W Illustration p. 116-117: "LES PRINCIPAUX CHEFS BIMANES ET QUADRUMANES..." = "THE PRINCIPAL BIMANE AND QUADRUMANE LEADERS"]
General Mandibul is the former lieutenant of La Belle Léocadie. He is a man of forty-five years, well-preserved but a little overweight. He has a slightly apoplectic temperament, but has a genuine martial bearing when in uniform. His well-known modesty having forbidden him to give us any biographical details, we shall restrict ourselves to recalling, without mention of anterior campaigns, that he covered himself in glory throughout the conquest, from the first landing of the Farandoulians to the terrible assault on the great aquarium, where the last champion of England, the unfortunate and heroic Croknuff, was blown up rather than lower the flag. The appeasement measures taken by the governor of Melbourne are a certain guarantee of his pure intentions towards us and clear testimony as to his considerable wisdom.
BIMANE GENERAL MANDIBUL
[Colour Illustration 18e LIV: "Le Générale bimane Mandibul" = "The bimane General Mandibul"]
Colonel Makako is a monkey from the southern part of Borneo. He is a tall fellow with a very intelligent and animated face. His father, an old patriarch, has led a number of bellicose tribes for many years in their continual wars against the Dayak negroes. It is rumoured that Colonel Makako is very ambitious and some say that his father was not sorry to see him depart with six hundred of his most turbulent monkeys. At any rate, he is an authentic feudal overlord, ruling his monkeys with the total authority of a despot.
QUADRUMANE COLONEL MAKAKO
A Sumatran monkey. Amiable and playful character. Has none of the stiffness of his colleague Makako. Has joined the Farandoulian army with a contingent of eight hundred monkeys making up part of an entrepreneurial nation which lives on relatively good terms with the bimanes of Sumatra. Tapa-Tapa's compatriots, quitting the interior forests, are gradually coming closer to the towns; several districts of Siak and Achem are entirely inhabited by them; at Palembang they have acquired the same rights as the bourgeoisie of the city and live in the same houses as the bimanes, who occupy the ground floors while renting the upper floors to quadrumanes. In sum, Colonel Tapa-Tapa, a simple fellow and a good chap, is entirely in sympathy with us. His monkeys were the first to fraternise with bimanes.
QUADRUMANE COLONEL TAPA-TAPA
[B&W Illustration p. 115: "Les compatriotes de Tapa- Tapa..." = "Tapa-Tapa's compatriots living in harmony with the bimanes"]
Tall, strong, ruddy-faced, bearded, Anglo-Saxon in origin but absolutely devoted to Saturnin I. Distinguished himself in many battles, notably in the campaign mounted by the mariners of La Belle Léocadie against the pirates of the Isles of Sunda.
BIMANE COLONEL KIRKSON
A big monkey, five feet four inches in height, with greying fur. He is the chief or sultan of a tribe of large langurs spread throughout the interior mountains of Java. He has a very grand air about him, his features are imprinted with a calm dignity in perfect accordance with his aristocratic manners; one immediately senses, on seeing him for the first time, that one is dealing with a monkey with breeding. His family have reigned in Java for many years over more than a dozen large villages whose inhabitants number three or four hundred. He has furnished the Farandoulian army with a contingent of three hundred and fifty fighters.
QUADRUMANE COLONEL LUTUNGO OF JAVA
Born 26th June 18**, in Marseilles, France; was granted entry into the merchant marine with the rank of cabin boy; has served with honour aboard La Belle Léocadie, notably against the pirates, at least forty of whom he (to use his own picturesque expression) "de-carcased". Commanded the monkey advance-guard at Cheep Hill alongside one of His Majesty Saturnin I's brothers; took the English ex-governor, Sir John Collingham, prisoner during the capture of Melbourne.
BIMANE COLONEL TOURNESOL
Short, thin, swarthy, black-bearded, voluble, very pronounced Marseillaise accent.
As calm as his leader is exuberant. Who could believe, on first seeing that tranquil and reflective face, that one is face to face with the leader of the most intrepid escaladers: those monkey acrobats used to living in the highest regions of the forest. His troops are the trapeze-artists of the Farandoulian army; it was they who, passing with the greatest rapidity from tree to tree, executed the outflanking and overhanging manoeuvres which baffled the experienced bimane tacticians of England.
COLONEL UNGKO OF SUMATRA
Colonel Ungko, an innocent in polite society, is transformed in action, becoming the terrible warrior that we know.
Thirty-two years old, short and stocky, born in Saint-Malo, France; full of genuine veneration for His Majesty Saturnin I, swearing by none but he and Notre-Dame-d'Auray. As intrepid on the field of battle as he is gentle and simple in private life. Declares himself ready, since His Majesty has spoken of the fusion of races, to marry a she-monkey of good family. Says he will send to Saint-Malo for his documents.
COLONEL BIMANE TRABADEC
An exceedingly intelligent quadrumane, remarkable for the amplitude of his forehead and the altogether human length of his nose. A tribal chief, a monkey of good family; according to the Indians, his nation is descended from a company of men driven out of the towns by war, who -- turning their backs on the world -- must have chosen their wives from a tribe of hospitable monkeys. Nasico is directly descended from the leader of these men; at any rate, power has been in the hands of his family for many years.
QUADRUMANE COLONEL NASICO OF BORNEO
What seems to confer a certain authenticity on this legend is that the five hundred monkeys who have followed Nasico are just as remarkable as he is; their well-developed noses project nobly from faces fully-framed by fine red beards.
Spanish by birth, a remarkably ardent man, as indefatigable in war as in pleasure. Makes his troops march to the sound of music. As soon as he entered Melbourne, he requisitioned tambourines and guitars; together with a few monkeys endowed with a talent for harmony he quickly formed a corps of excellent musicians. Proposes to host balls in his residence.
BIMANE COLONEL ESCOUBICO
[B&W Illustration p. 119: "La musique du Colonel Escoubico" = "Colonel Escoubico's music"]
The best of monkeys. Simple, rustic, honest. Straight by nature, ever amiable, occasionally jovial. Leader of one of the greatest simian nations of Oceania, closely related to the tribe with which H. M. Saturnin I spent his childhood. Wa-Wo-Wa's contingent is also one of the most numerous. This brave leader's monkeys form, so to speak, the line troops of the Farandoulian army. If they are less accomplished in advance-guard attacks and brilliant charges than those of Colonel Ungko, their finest quality is their resilience; at the end of the day, as old soldiers say, they stick to their guns!
QUADRUMANE COLONEL WA-WO-WA, MONKEY OF NEW GUINEASome weeks later, three persons came together in conference with Saturnin I in His Majesty's office in the former governor's mansion. These three individuals were General Mandibul, Farandoul's foster-father, and the journalist Dick Broken.
"Yes, my friends," Farandoul said, "I see our mission clearly -- the mission of Farandoulia, the world's fifth continent, so young and so healthy! To repair the injustices of other continents; to cause the past to be forgotten; to bring back justice and happiness and restore the globe's Golden Age. Never have bimanes had in their hands the elements we have in ours: fifty thousand monkeys, so strong and brave; those which arrive every day from all the isles in Oceania; our navy, composed of vessels seized in the ports of the state of Victoria -- manned at present by mixed crews, although our monkeys will soon be able to operate them by themselves under the orders of sympathetic bimane officers whom we shall recruit from every nation.
"With all this, we shall complete the conquest of the Australian provinces that England still holds, and we shall drive the English out of every island in Oceania! The monkeys of Borneo, Sumatra and Java will rise up and join us; then, as a bold move, we shall land...."
"Where's that, Sire?" asked Dick Broken.
"In Bombay!" cried Farandoul. "In India, where the Hindu bimanes and quadrumanes groan under the yoke of perfidious Albion! Remember, Broken, that you are not English; you are Australian -- and, henceforth, Farandoulian! As soon as we have driven the English out of India, we shall establish a mixed government there...."
"Bravo, Sire! That's wonderful!" cried Mandibul.
"Wait! Once India is organised, we shall loose several generals and quadrumanes upon Asia, with the mission of opening up Siam, Cochin-China and the Celestial Empire to new ideas; far from considering our task to be over, we shall march upon the isthmus of Suez and thus into...."
"Europe!" said Broken.
"Yes, Europe -- old Europe, so proud of its past glories, but where so many so-called civilized peoples maintain permanent armies beneath the scourge of modern times! Europe shall be ours! We shall begin by settling the eternal Eastern Question; Constantinople will be neither Turkish, nor Russian, nor English! At the other end of the Mediterranean, the English yoke will be lifted from Gibraltar....there are monkeys on Gibraltar, unhappy monkeys bent under the knee of the highlander -- we shall free them!"
"And France, Sire?" Mandibul said. "I wouldn't be sorry to land one day at Bordeaux and...."
"France! Haven't you understood that I have destined France for a glorious role? We shall fly to conquer her! I shall make Paris the capital of the world. France, which marches at the head of the flow of modernity, will understand the grandeur of our mission; she will throw herself into our movement with generous ardour! I ask for ten years to complete this great work; in ten years, within pacified Europe, there will be no more frontiers, no lines of demarcation, no permanent bimane armies! Commerce, industry and agriculture will no longer be in want of strong arms; its peoples, no longer having any monarchs or generals with vested interests in war and revolutions, will live in peace under the safeguard of a few regiments of monkeys!"
[B&W Illustration p. 123: "Le plan de Farandoul, La future armée européenne" = "Farandoul's plan. The future European army"]
"I give in, O genius," murmured Dick Broken. "I'm a Farandoulian!"
"You shall be governor of London!" Farandoul exclaimed. "What do we need, to accomplish all this? Disciplined armies! My good, brave monkeys have only to remain united and disciplined, and the world is ours!"
[Colour Illustration 16e LIV.: "Brillant fait d'armes de l'armee quadrumane" = "Brilliant militray feats of the the quadrumane army" The issue this plate came in - issue 16 - would have begun at "Yes, Europe..." above, but being a rather general illustration of the monkeys' military feats it isn't clear where it should go, it doesn't seem to fit particularly well in any of the prior parts or chapters]
This single conversation suffices to indicate how the gifts comprising his genius had come together in Saturnin Farandoul. He had it all: grandeur of vision; power of reasoning; boldness of action.
Farandoul set to work courageously, with the devoted Mandibul and Dick Broken -- who was completely committed to his cause -- as his principal collaborators. We shall not venture to enter into every detail of the marvellous and incomparable adventure which Farandoul set himself to organise; it is for Australian historians to tell the world what those three men did in a few months.
The most serious difficulty, in the early stages, was the state of relations -- frosty at the least, if not outrightly hostile -- manifest between the conquered populations and the conquering monkeys. No relationship was forged between bimanes and quadrumanes; the latter, being good and carefree chaps, were quite ready to fraternise, but bimane haughtiness always kept them at a distance. The only exceptions were a few mining districts on the Ballarat coast and Alberton in Colonel Escoubico's division. At Alberton the colonel hosted soire[a]es and balls, seducing everyone with his liveliness and good humour. In his salons, notable bimanes -- the women of high society, millionaire farmers and rich arms-dealers -- mingled with the quadrumane officers of Wa-Wo-Wa's corps, who had become excellent dancers under the tutelage of the Spaniard Escoubico. At Ballarat, the good relations had had poorer results, the well-received monkeys having been drawn into the miners' drinking-dens, to the great detriment of their natural sobriety.
The Australian press soon began to complicate these difficulties. In the early days, it had kept a prudent silence, limiting itself to recording the decrees of the Farandoulian government without comment. After the first three months of the occupation, however, the papers recovered their courage and launched a petty but lively war of words against the governor of Melbourne, which never let up. As the monkeys did not read the papers, this could not stir up any trouble in the army, but these scarcely-veiled excitations of hatred and contempt for the government maintained a dangerous agitation among the bimanes.
The council, worried by this development, decided to take drastic action. One morning, the following decree was published:
The governor of Melbourne,
Given that the entire press, encouraged by impunity, delivers new attacks every day against the paternal government of H. M. Saturnin I;
Given that the quadrumanes of the army are attacked daily by the bimane papers, cruel outrages being perpetrated against their dignity without their being able to reply, since they are not yet able to read;
It is resolved that:
All the newspapers are suppressed.
Mr. Dick Broken is charged with the creation of an official gazette for the publication of governmental acts.It was high time. The harm that the press had done to the new empire could not be countered right away; the systematic campaign of false news and slyly aggressive articles it had employed, at the instigation of the agents of England, soon bore unfortunate fruit.
The European powers neglected to respond to the letters sent by Saturnin I to notify other sovereigns of his accession to the throne. Monaco alone replied -- coldly, it is true, but politely, her geographical situation compelling her to pay the greatest possible respect to a maritime power like Australia. The blackest calumnies were circulating in Europe regarding the new empire and her glorious founders; it was rumoured that the monkeys, far from being the armed protectors of a nation of workers and tradesmen, were, to the contrary, abominable tyrants. It was even said that Farandoul was absolutely determined to provide bimane wives for all his soldiers, who were rumoured to number 150,000 -- which would reduce 150,000 unhappy women to live under the yoke of brutal monkeys while their bimane ex-husbands became sad wanderers in the remote depths of the Australian deserts.
There is no need for us to protest against such infamous calumnies. To the contrary, the quadrumane "yoke" was exceedingly light within the Farandoulian nation. Far from seeking to contrive a fusion of the bimane and quadrumane races by mixed marriages, Farandoul stubbornly refused to give the Breton Colonel Trabadec permission to espouse a young and pretty quadrumane, the daughter of Colonel Wa-Wo-Wa. Anyway, it will be enough, to definitively disprove the fanciful rumours that were running through Europe, to say that one of Farandoul's first priorities, after the conquest, had been to bring the families of his warriors to Australia as quickly as the organisation of the Farandoulian navy would allow. He had not had time, nor ships enough, to bring in excess of 200,000 quadrumanes of all ages from the distant isles of Oceania -- but in the end, thanks to Bora-Bora's fleet, merchant vessels, and others seized in the ports, they had arrived. The world was informed of this at once, but the strangest rumours continued to circulate.
Curiously, a few individuals saw in Australia's new situation a colossal opportunity to do business; the biggest matrimonial agency in New York set out to organise an expedition to Australia. Within a month, every newspaper in the United States carried a huge advertisement conceived as follows:
MARRIAGE! MARRIAGE! MARRIAGE!!!
NOTICE to spinsters of all ages of an army to marry
Exceptional opportunity. Magnificent situations
offered to ladies. An immense selection of young bachelors, many superior officers among them
Imminent departure by as many ships as shall be required.
Enrol immediately. Send photographs.
The agency quickly assembled a formidable number of hopefuls; the photographs were artfully filed, and the women were notified to be ready to depart at a moment's notice. One morning, at his mansion in Melbourne, Farandoul received a score of stout albums, magnificently bound, containing more than three thousand photographs. At first, he could not imagine why they had been sent, but a letter enlightened him; the agency was offering him wives for the officers of his army, subject to a small fee for each introduction, and announcing the imminent arrival of a first shipment by way of a sample.
Farandoul, infuriated by the indelicacy of the people who engaged in such a business, replied that he would shoot any representative of the agency who set foot in Farandoulia.
He was no less annoyed when, at about the same time, another matrimonial agency -- this one French -- decided on its own authority to find a wife for him. This French agency had inserted the following notice among the small ads in Le Figaro:
This advertisement, as one can well imagine, had fervently excited the Saint-Germain district, and a number of likely candidates had been put forward. A dozen examples selected from the collection had been forwarded to Farandoul by telegraph, who had refused them all, at the risk of causing a great many tears to flow. The pure memory of Mysora filled his heart.
Good opportunity for princess,
or young person of high nobility.
A monarch to marry.
Mandibul, to avoid any further annoyance to his friend and sovereign, had a photograph taken of the least naturally-favoured of all the monkeys in the army, and sent it secretly to Paris as that of the marriageable monarch. The borough of Saint-German shuddered in horror; a few despairing young women took refuge in convents, although one timid spinster of thirty-three years and eleven months, descendant of a family which went back at least as far as King Dagobert, refused to withdraw her candidature on a point of principle.
[B&W Illustration p. 127: "Le faubourg Saint- Germain frémit d'horreur" = "The borough of Saint-German shuddered in horror"]
Strict orders were given in Melbourne in anticipation of the arrival of the first shipment from the American agency. When the yankee ship, carrying four hundred spinsters, presented itself at Port Philip, entry to the port was sternly refused and it had to go back to sea, incontinently. It was learned some time afterwards that the representative of the agency, to recover some few of his expenses, had steered towards the isles of Fiji, where he had succeeded in placing his four hundred ladies at a discount price with a small tribe of savages afflicted with a superabundance of bachelors.
[B&W Illustration p. 125: "Premier envoi de l'agence de New York" = "The New York agency's first shipment"]
Thus ended the campaign indiscreetly launched against Farandoulia by the matrimonial agencies.
Saturnin Farandoul was able to continue his work in peace. All his time and attention was devoted to the army, which required to be organised and thoroughly trained in order to rise to its task. Farandoul established an immense training camp on the shore at Port Philip, overlooking Melbourne Bay. This camp, protected by a line of entrenchments, was connected to a series of constructions which Farandoul had put in place for the bay's defence. The monkeys shifted the earth with considerable ardour and intelligence and became, under Mandibul's direction, excellent military engineers.
At the extremity of the bay, a little fort raised above Rocas Point completed the system of defence.
Farandoul had another object of preoccupation. Alone among all the armies of the world, the quadrumane army had no cavalry! It was a serious oversight, which might have disastrous consequences in certain situations. After serious deliberation, the council decided that it might be wise to utilise kangaroos for this purpose in preference to horses, towards which the monkeys had a certain antipathy. The agility of monkeys and kangaroos being in perfect accord, this new experiment ought to yield excellent results.
[B&W Illustration p. 131: "La cavalerie farandoulienne" = "The Farandoulian cavalry"]
The camp at Port Philip soon displayed great animation; every morning, under the lofty surveillance of the generals, the troops were drilled for several hours in the handling of their weapons. The afternoon was given over to to the battalion school. Twice a week they played war games. All the regiments moved off, executing collective movements and mounting charges in front of the bimanes of Melbourne, who flocked to see them. Brightly-clad staff-officers mounted on kangaroos ran through the front lines at the gallop carrying orders to the bimane generals. Saturnin I, mounted on horseback at the centre of a sparkling general staff, towered over the assembly. The ladies of Melbourne paid particular attention to the hero's five foster-brothers, gathering around them like a guard of honour.
[B&W Illustration p. 129: "Farandoul et ses frères nourriciers" = "Farandoul and his foster- brothers"]
Similar manoeuvres were undertaken in the four other military divisions, to maintain the high morale of the troops and give them the necessary instruction.
The example of Colonel Escoubico, the commandant of the town of Alberton, had been followed by other leaders. Brass bands and corps of excellent musicians were formed in every brigade, under the direction of bimane conductors, hired at considerable expense. Escoubico's band, organised in the Spanish style, comprised fourteen monkeys in the little ivory-topped caps of students, mostly playing guitars, tambourines and castanets; the other musical corps were armed with stout copper instruments which resounded terribly in military marches. Military music was played in the garrisons every afternoon beneath the windows of the commanding general; one could hear all the latest works from Europe brilliantly executed, and equally brilliant pieces born of the musical inspiration of the quadrumanes.
[B&W Illustration p. 125: "Musique militaire sous les fenêtre du général Kirkson" = "Military music beneath General Kirkson's window"]
Farandoulia had its own maestro, a Javanese langur named Coco, whose character was exceedingly disagreeable by nature, though endowed with qualities of verve and originality unknown among bimane musicians. The maestro had a masterpiece in preparation for Melbourne's Grand Theatre: a grand opera mixte -- which is to say, intended to be played by both bimane and quadrumane artistes. Its title was The Romeo of the Zoological Gardens. Its subject, one is given to understand, was the story of a monkey in love with the daughter of the director of a zoo; this quadrumane Romeo languished in a captivity whose misery the maiden alleviated by her delicate attentions. Love was born in two hearts. The barbarous father having refused his consent, there was a monkey revolt, a ballet, an elopement, a reconciliation with the bimanes and a grand ballet mixte. The most remarkable elements, according to those who first heard them, were a choir of captive monkeys, a song of war and a duo mixte between the daughter of the director, a bimane artiste, and Romeo, a monkey artiste. Our friend Dick Broken had written the words for this magisterial work, as well as those of a patriotic song mixte, whose couplets were to be sung by bimanes and the refrains by quadrumanes.
To return to our military musicians, who had delighted the bimane population at first; we must confess that after a few months they were playing their concerts to empty houses. The pretty blonde-haired misses had disappeared, doubtless regretfully but probably in obedience to secret orders sent from London.
The sky became overcast; little by little, dark clouds were gathering on the horizon.
Certain indications allowed Farandoul to sense that a storm was about to break over Australian soil. There were vague rumours of an English intervention; the European consuls were showing a certain ill-will, and foreign agents had been reported to be active in the large population centres. A secret campaign by England was making itself felt; perfidious Albion was employing an indirect means of attack typical of her tortuous politics.
It was, above all, the quadrumane army on which the English agents were working -- that honest and pure army, which Great Britain did her utmost to corrupt by provoking indiscipline therein and developing within its ranks a taste for the finer things in life. By all means possible, perfidious Albion attempted to tarnish the quadrumanes' virtues and inculcate in them the vices of bimanes; her weapon of preference was whisky. Strong spirits were soon flowing like rivers, and the monkeys were losing the habit of temperance.
Although the generals kept a careful watch over their troops and dealt severely with the guilty ones, the evil took hold so strongly that discipline was seriously compromised; the quadrumane leaders themselves, in the drawing-rooms which opened to them as if in response to a password, were not always able to refuse the champagne that was offered to them. At the same time, clever spies caused pride and ambition to creep into the hearts of the quadrumane generals by means of base flatteries and shameful kowtowing to their panache -- and, in the end, awakened jealousy in the quadrumanes, directed against Farandoul's bimane companions and Farandoul himself.
The attention of England eventually came to focus on one of the quadrumane leaders: Colonel Makako, General Mandibul's chief of staff -- who was, as we have said, a sort of feudal gentleman, infatuated with the nobility and antiquity of his race. Long used to the submissiveness of his family's monkey vassals, he believed that he had the right to give everyone orders, and yielded very reluctantly to the discipline introduced into the army by Farandoul. The agents of perfidious Albion having quickly discovered the hateful and jealous tendency of his character, Colonel Makako was almost immediately surrounded, flattered and outwitted by them. In the drawing-rooms of Melbourne the prettiest women in the pay of England watered him with champagne and flattery. They affected to ridicule Saturnin in front of him, to diminish his merits while simultaneously exalting those of "the irresistible Makako". And Colonel Makako smiled, and responded to these interested discourses with approving grunts in the rustic and not-very-gracious language of the highland monkeys of Borneo.
In the space of a few months, Colonel Makako had become entirely hostile to Farandoul, and above all to General Mandibul, whose orders he received with anger and ill-will. Like a general prepared for pronunciamentos, he was only waiting for an opportunity to raise the flag of rebellion, along with partisans he counted on within the general staff, found among those who had been corrupted by a taste for finery, hatred for discipline or the abuse of strong liquor.
This is how things stood on one fine morning, after fifteen months of occupation, when news spread through Melbourne that an English fleet had been encountered at sea by two Farandoulian ships, only one of which had been able to escape, thanks to the skill of her quadrumane crew. It was true enough, and while the rumour spread through Melbourne, Farandoul gave the final orders for a rapid consolidation of the army.
The English fleet had been sighted off Point Campbell. One of the Farandoulian vessels had escaped, as we have said; the other, whose line of retreat was cut off, had engaged the enemy in violent combat. This heroic ship was the Young Australia, a sloop with a dozen cannon, commanded by Captain Jonathan Butterfield, a bimane of American origin recruited to the quadrumane cause.
Five large English frigates, the Devastation, the Warrior, the Terror, the Devorous and the Carnivorousattacked the little Young Australia, deluging her with fire and steel. Jonathan Butterfield, standing fast on his quarterdeck, sailed dead ahead towards the monstrous armour-plated English ships; his courageous crew, comprising only sixty or so monkeys and a few bimane engineers, displayed a heroism worthy of classical antiquity. The enemy's fireballs having started a fire between the sloop's decks, the quadrumanes fastened her to the Carnivorous with grappling-hooks without deigning to respond to the English signals. The blazing fire made rapid progress, but the monkeys had already quit the sloop and were playing havoc on the bridge of the Carnivorous. When the Young Australia finally blew up, carrying a part of the English frigate with her, the last monkeys who had taken refuge in the topsails of the Carnivorous were still defending themselves.
[B&W Illustration p. 135: "Combat dans les huniers du Carnivorous" = "Fighting in the rigging of Carnivorous"]
Two days after the battle, the English fleet was in sight of Port Philip, and the rapidly-deployed Farandoulian army occupied all the coastal defences. A state of siege having been declared, a proclamation urged the population to remain calm, the Farandoulian army being sufficient to ensure the security of the province. Unfortunately, grave symptoms of insubordination had manifested themselves within the army. Some regiments were grumbling, others were demanding additional distributions of liquid rations; Colonel Makako's corps was the most conspicuous of all for its bad attitude and its whining.
General Mandibul, who had remained in Melbourne to maintain order, was was astonished by the sloppiness of Makako's service as chief of staff, while Makako visited the drawing-rooms of Melbourne with increasing frequency. On the evening of the brilliant naval battle of Point Campbell, a grand soirée was given in his honour by an old bimane civil servant; Makako and a few of his officers were received there with a veritable ovation, which enraptured their vanity.
One of those femmes fatales for whom historians -- alas -- are always seeking at the bottom of every great catastrophe, entered the lists in order to tip the balance definitively in favour of England. Lady Arabella Cardigan, an English spy of the most ravishing beauty, made her entrance on the scene. She was newly arrived from Europe with precise ministerial instructions, and her lovely eyes had a devastating effect on the quadrumane general staff, already weakened by the repeated efforts of English agents. Her beauty caused every head to turn as she crossed the room in a regal manner to embrace the host.
Makako was fluttering around the buffet; forewarned by one of his officers, he went back into the large drawing-room at the very moment when Lady Arabella asked to be presented to him.
The patrician beauty of the blonde Englishwoman sparked the enthusiastic admiration of the colonel like a lightning-bolt. Those huge eyes, that long blonde hair, that tall and slender figure, that aristocratic perfume -- everything about her lifted Makako's heart. Appropriately, the orchestra struck up an intoxicating waltz; Makako wrapped his arms around Lady Arabella's body, and drew her into the giddy whirl. They were seen passing through every room, moving in time to the whim of the rhythm and revolving tirelessly in the grip of a delirious music. Makako, transported by his excitement, gripped Lady Arabella's body a little more firmly than was entirely proper, and planted furtive kisses on the one hand that she abandoned to him
[Colour Illustration 20e LIV: "Soirée chez un ancien fonctionnaire bimane" = "An evening at the home of a former bimane civil servant"]
Lady Arabella seemed bent on ensuring that the fervent quadrumane colonel lost his head completely. Lovingly supported on his arm, she waltzed with him all night. Ten waltzes, fifteen waltzes, thirty waltzes were granted to him. The host had given orders to the orchestra, which -- without stopping except to down pints of liquid -- rolled out interminable musical fantasies. Long after the other dancers were tired out, their panting partners getting their breath back on the divans, Makako was still waltzing!
The conductor of the orchestra had received reinforcements to replace those of his men who had fallen on the battlefield, but the blonde Englishwoman seemed indefatigable, and the same smile was perpetually fluttering upon her lips.
England's agents were swarming everywhere; observers, more attentive than the quadrumanes, had quickly cottoned on to a number of secret signals -- a few furtive glances exchanged in passing between Lady Arabella and certain suspicious individuals. The work of demoralization begun several months earlier was making new and rapid progress.
Some hours after the ball, Makako, irresistibly seduced, presented himself at Lady Arabella Cardigan's house, to lay his devotion and his sword at her feet. The conspirators were there; a conference ensued in which the beautiful eyes of Lady Arabella played a leading role in the action. When they separated, Makako was totally committed to overturn Saturnin I and usurp his throne, which the inflamed colonel hoped to share with the blonde lady.
[B&W Illustration p. 139: "Les conspirateurs" = "The conspirators"]
What a dream! Into what rapturous depths had the ambitious quadrumane been plunged! Absolute master of Australia, he would escort her majesty to Europe, of which he had heard such tales -- to that England, where Lady Arabella Cardigan had estates and castles. He had to take action; the agents of England had, so to speak, drawn him a plan. Profiting from the fact that the army was concentrated at Port Philip, it was necessary to work by every possible means, within a few days, to seize the bimane generals -- and, most important of all, Saturnin's five foster-brothers, whose influence was capable of putting an end to the rebellion. That having been accomplished, the irresistible Makako, intoxicated by the honeyed words and languorously veiled eyes of Lady Arabella, believed that he was certain to ward off every danger, even deluding himself that he might remain, England notwithstanding, master of Australia.
The arrival of Makako at the Port Philip camp was the signal for a renewed outbreak of acts of insubordination. As hard as Farandoul and the generals had tried; they had been unable to prevent indiscipline from gradually infecting the best regiments. As England's agents redoubled their efforts, and in spite of Mandibul's stern prohibitions. immense quantities of strong liquor were transported to the troops with bimane ladies serving as canteen keepers, Although access to the encampments and barracks was rigorously forbidden to bimanes, these ladies succeeded on several occasions in persuading superior officers to accept a few casks of fine liqueurs, under various pretexts -- most frequently as patriotic gifts.
One regiment, which occupied a small redoubt at the end of the line, received in this manner a provision of whisky that it swallowed in haste, in order to make it disappear and avoid any reproaches that Colonel Escoubico might make during his tour of inspection. The result was that within two days the regiment fell dead drunk upon its bastions -- and if the colonel had not arrived, the redoubt, deprived of its defenders, could have fallen into English hands. The regiment woke up in the police station, the officers having been cashiered, but this severe treatment did not prevent the same thing happening at another post the following day.
The English fleet, in the open sea, contented itself with tightly blockading Port Philip without making any direct attempt upon it. This inaction was what caused Farandoul and Mandibul their greatest anxiety. For what was England waiting before commencing hostilities? The increasing demoralization of the quadrumane army was evidently the work of her secret agents; did she wish to attack only when the fatal work would be completed, when the good and loyal regiments of former times would have turned into an undisciplined and unstable rabble?
Alas, the wait was not to be a long one.
Farandoul, kept informed by the reports of his generals, wanted to react vigorously against the demoralization. To try to recover his old power over the minds of his troops, he summoned the entire army to a grand review on the Port Philip beach, in full view of the English navy. A strict order of the day had to be communicated to the monkeys for the stern repression of all insubordination.
Beneath the bright morning sun, the immense beach was covered, as far as the eye could see, with magnificent quadrumane regiments. The chiefs of staff, admonished by the bimane generals, had done their best to re-establish discipline. The sight was truly magnificent. The infantry occupied the centre and the cavalry the flanks, following the order of battle adopted by Farandoul: in advance the regiments of riflemen; in the second rank of the line, the dark mass of monkeys armed with Oceanian clubs; on the right flank the light kangaroo cavalry, lancers and chasseurs; on the left flank the heavy cavalry, the giant monkeys of Borneo, also mounted on kangaroos but armed with heavy ironwood clubs.
Unfortunately, the English fleet having executed a suspicious movement in the open sea, Saturnin I was obliged to remove himself to the little fort at Point Rocas in order to observe it.
The troops under arms put on a good show at first; but towards noon it was necessary to make a distribution of food and refreshments. The quartermaster had orders to convey three hundred casks of fresh water -- the camp's daily ration, sent from Melbourne that morning -- to the field of the manoeuvres. The catering corps being entirely won over by Makako, it had already caused Mandibul great concern, but he had trusted in the surveillance of a few solid officers placed at its head. He was still ignorant of grave disturbances that had broken out in Melbourne, of which these brave officers had been the first victims.
On the arrival at the plain where the entire army was roasting under the hot sun, in consequence of the English fleet's movement, the carriages of the catering corps were greeted by the hurrahs of the thirsty regiments. The distribution was quickly made; every corps had its casks, which were immediately surrounded by soldiers. There was a certain brouhaha while the casks were opened; the quartermaster's fresh water seemed suspect to a few officers, who did their best to prevent the troops from getting to it. The water was clear and limpid, but its odour was definitely too alcoholic.
The monkeys, after having tasted it, refused to obey their leaders. There were a few nasty grimaces at the first mouthful, but a second gulp proved the water to be so extraordinarily pleasant that all discipline was forgotten. They jostled one another to obtain a larger share.
The quartermaster's fresh water was kirsch!
Lady Cardigan had prepared everything. On the day agrred to by the commander of the English forces, she had substituted for the three hundred casks of fresh-water sent daily from Melbourne, three hundred casks of kirsch!
[B&W Illustration p. 141: "Trois cents tonneaux de kirsch!!!" =Three hundred casks of kirsch!!!"]
The hearts of infantry and cavalry alike were uplifted by joy. Despairing of preventing the distribution, the officers joined in, determined to have their share. Soon the kirsch had flooded the entire field of manoeuvre, from one end to the other.
The second part of the infernal plan which she, the English agent, had hatched had been put into execution.
At about two o'clock -- the English navy having ceased its movement -- the generals and their staff left the fort. The trumpets and the drums recalled the soldiers to their posts; the officers ran here, there and everywhere; and the regiments reconstituted themselves, after a fashion. But the entire army was in a visibly emotional state; in place of the former neat and tidy straight lines, irregular zigzags spread out. The cavalry, in particular, stood out by virtue of its awful disarray. Great waves made themselves felt along the battle-front; when those on the right of the first rank began to lurch dazedly, the movement spread from one to another until it reached the far end of the line.
[B&W Illustration p. 143: "L'armée entière titubait" = "The whole army was lurching about"]
The furious Farandoul set his horse to the gallop; his escort moved off behind him in a whirlwind of dust. The first corps on the right flank was, appropriately enough, Makako's.
At the sight of the Farandoulian general staff, Makako's followers started theatrically; ear-splitting howls rent the air, the Farandoulian flag was struck and an immense red banner provided by Lady Arabella was raised in its place. The regiments next in line, seized by the contagion of this example, also dispersed; their leaders, won over by Makako, hastened to rally round the general revolt.
That was exactly what was happening! The beautiful army formed up on the beach was no longer anything but a confused mass from which a storm of incoherent cries emerged. The catering corps continued to provide casks of kirsch, which were immediately opened and drained dry by the ardent throats of the delirious quadrumanes. Their leaders, in the middle of the plain, popped the corks of champagne-bottles sent by England. A few bimane men and women circulated among them, apparently stirring up the hideous rebellion.
A little troop of faithful monkeys had joined the Farandoulian general staff. Their honest figures were coloured as much by wrath as profound contempt for the drunken quadrumanes who had sunk to the level of the most degraded bimanes. Farandoul and his bimane generals consulted one another; Farandoul's foster-brothers wanted to charge the enemy, but Farandoul opposed that course, in order to try to play for time.
After a few minutes hesitation, the little troop took the road to the fort again, leaving the rebels to their shameful orgy.
Nothing remained to Farandoul of his entire army but his bimane generals, the monkeys of his own isle and a few brave quadrumane leaders who did not want to abandon him, among whom were Ungko and Tapa-Tapa of Sumatra, Wa-Wo-Wa of New Guinea and Nasico of Borneo -- four hundred combatants in all, to hold their own against England and the rebels.
That same evening, one of Dick Broken's orderlies arrived breathless at the fort, having run from Melbourne. A revolution had broken out in the city; the bimane insurrection had triumphed; the quadrumane officials had been obliged to flee; and Dick Broken, barricaded in the governor's mansion with two or three hundred monkeys stationed there, was under siege.
Broken claimed that he could hold out against the insurgents for a fortnight, so Farandoul was not too worried about that; the essential thing was to bring the wayward army back to the path of duty. If it persisted in its rebellion, everything was finished; as soon as it became obedient again, the bimane revolution in Melbourne would be promptly stifled.
He had to play for time.
A few monkeys, ashamed of their delinquency, had already come to rally round Farandoul's flag. The rest continued on drink English liquor by day and by night. The provision of food had become the provision of drink; the catering corps no longer transported anything but liquid nourishment.
With no more organisation and no more exercises, the disorder surpassed anything of which the imagination could dream. Farandoul was counting on that, to some extent, to regain power. His optimism was understandable; monkeys have lively minds, but bad memories; they are excellent creatures, capable and intelligent, but much too frivolous; it was only by making them repeat the same exercise and actions every day that Farandoul had been able to make anything of them. Now they were on their own, idleness and drunkenness -- vices formerly unknown to their race -- would make them forget everything they had learned. Farandoul's plan was, therefore, to wait for a week and then to throw himself upon Makako. Once the instigator of the revolt had been punished, and the monkeys returned to the path of duty, they would be able to turn their attention to England. But for that, it was necessary that England made no move either, also waiting for the psychological moment to fall upon the monkeys.
On the evening of the seventh day, Farandoul made his preparations to engage Makako's forces as soon as the sun rose. The loyal monkeys, who had been drilled every day in the handling of rifles and the firing of cannon, were raring to go; Farandoul's five brothers established them in their positions. As for our hero's foster-father, two days earlier he had undertaken a mission to the rebel camp, where a few brave officers were ready to declare a counter-pronunciamento.
The night seemed very long to the monkeys. At four o'clock in the morning, several cannon-shots fired out at sea brought everyone running to the ramparts.
Damnation! England, forewarned of all Farandoul's plans by some undetectable spy, had made their move. During the night, six large transport-ships full of Indian troops, were locked in position close to the shore, two kilometres from the fort. Formed up facing the fort were six frigates, four armoured corvettes, a few dispatch-vessels and two terrible battleships, each of whose turrets was equipped with forty steel cannon firing forty-kilo shells. The decks of all these ships were cleared for action; the hour of the ultimate battle had struck!
[B&W Illustration p. 148: "Les cannonières anglaises" = "The English gunboats"]
The rebel camp was in uproar. The monkeys, finally understanding their peril, attempted to organise themselves. Just as Farandoul was wondering whether it might not be too late to get the idea into their heads that they had a common enemy to face, the English fleet opened fire.
The broadsides fired by the corpulent frigates arrived at the fort with a regularity that did credit to their chronometric gunners. The monkeys, with the courage of desperation, set the fort's twenty fire-ports thundering. One heavy marine cannon in particular, operated under Mandibul's orders, worked wonders; one of its shells penetrated the engine-room of the Carnivorous, already tested by the battle of Cape Campbell, and did such damage there that the frigate soon seemed ready to sink like a stone.
[B&W Illustration p. 149: "Conduite héroique de l'artillerie farandoulienne" = "Heroic conduct of the Farandoulian artillery"]
As for the little fort, its excellent construction permitted it to resist the enemy shells without suffering too much damage. Alongside the beach, the transport-ships went on methodically with the business of disembarkation.
The greatest disorder still reigned within the rebel camp, a thousand commands clashing with a thousand confused cries; finally, when the large landing-craft loaded with English, Scottish and sepoy troops were detached from the transport-ships and were rowed towards the beach, the disorder seemed to reach its peak.
The defenders of the fort stopped firing for a moment to watch what was happening. Deadly fruits of indiscipline and intemperance! The monkeys, still drunk as they awoke, sought in vain to take up their combat positions. Some put their uniforms on backwards, others tried to remind one another of the twelve stages of a charge. Useless effort! Inexpressible confusion! Many, having become wild again, ran on all fours, giving out stupid cries. Warriors of Geelong, Cheep Hill and Melbourne, where are you?
Makako sought ideas in champagne. O shame! He scratched his forehead and his hindquarters -- and all of his staff, by force of their ancient instinct of imitation, promptly set about doing likewise!
Meanwhile, the long-boats reached the shore; the companies they landed fell upon the monkeys who attempted to oppose them there, and drove them back without any difficulty. The long-boats maintained a continual coming-and-going between the ships and the shore, and eight thousand English troops were soon on the ground -- eight thousand brave men burning to avenge the unexpected disasters of the preceding year. Finally, at a signal from the admiral's frigate, musicians struck up God save the Queen, and the English threw themselves forward in two columns to attack the quadrumane positions.
Farandoul and his anxious monkeys waited for Makako's batteries to overwhelm the redcoats and the highlanders, but the cannons remained mute. Profiting from the quadrumanes' hesitation, the English columns scaled the batteries.
The frigates' smoke veiled the battlefield for an instant, but a gust of wind dissipated it. Farandoul went pale. Curses! All his work had come to nothing in the end -- the monkeys of Cheep Hill were fleeing instead of fighting!
It was not even a battle; it was a horrible, panic-stricken rout.
Confusion, upheaval, massacre! No more regiments, no more officers, no more soldiers!
The weapons of forty thousand monkeys litter the ground. The cavalry, instead of protecting the retreat, leap from the backs of their kangaroos to climb trees. Fugitives hang in clusters from the branches of eucalyptus and gum-trees, the highlanders chasing them into the forest while the English take possession of their baggage.
[B&W Illustration p. 145: "Les highlanders poursuivent les fuyards" = "The highlanders chased the fugitives"]
Of all Makako's army, only two companies of monkeys have refused to follow the example of their comrades and are holding firm against the English. These brave fellows are aggregated in front of the quartermaster's hut, protected by entrenchments of barrels, some full and some empty.
To overcome this last obstacle, the English despatch an elite regiment. The charge is sounded, the battle-cries burst forth, and the redcoats scale the barricades of casks with a furious impetuosity.
Farandoul and his mariners wait for events to take a dramatic turn -- for some act of desperate heroism like that of the bimane grenadiers at Waterloo. The English, brandishing their bayonets and howling loudly, are at the top of the entrenchment....they hesitate, and pause....
What is happening?
Not a shot is fired, not a monkey budges! The unfortunates are dead drunk! Ordered to guard their provisions, they have not been sober for three days, and are oblivious to everything. The cannonade, the battle, the rout -- nothing has been able to penetrate their stupefaction. They are still sleeping like logs and snoring, while the English look down at them, unable to believe their blinking eyes.
It is all over. In a quarter of an hour, an entire army has dissolved, evaporated! The English have taken thousands prisoner, the rest have fled into the wilderness to resume the savage life.
Farandoul and his downcast but furious brothers return to their guns to save some vestige of quadrumane honour by mounting a desperate defence. A hurricane of fire and iron envelops the little fort. The heroic monkey gunners load and swab angrily -- with such ardour that when dusk falls they refuse to leave their guns and continue firing, even after the English fleet has left its moorings and set out for the open sea.
On the English side, the joy was unconfined; the colony was reconquered, nothing remaining in quadrumane hands but the little fort and the governor's mansion defended by Dick Broken.
The day after the landing, Sir Roderick Blakeley, commander-in-chief of the English expedition, made his entry into reconquered Melbourne. The city was celebrating, the English flag flying at every window. It was strange to see all the bimanes, finally reassured, pressing around the conquerors and heaping felicitations upon them. The most frightened bimanes were holding their heads high again; every trace of the conquest was disappearing. Already the word "quadrumane" was forbidden, erased from every edifice on which it had been inscribed.
The quadrumane artistes of the Melbourne Opera were shamefully cast out by their bimane colleagues. The performances of Coco's opera were halted, the maestro himself having vanished.
Lastly, as a final ignominy, there was already talk of raising a statue to the man whom more bimanes than ever were calling the heroic Croknuff.
In the afternoon, a long column of prisoners filed between two hedges of bearded highlanders, preceded by a tartan-kilted bagpiper playing merry tunes. Among the prisoners still clad in scraps of their uniforms, Colonel Makako stood out by virtue of his disheartened expression. At the sight of Lady Arabella Cardigan, standing beside Sir Roderick Blakeley, he bellowed lugubriously while lifting his arms in the air. Lady Arabella leaned towards the general, who smiled while making a sign. The liberated Makako was immediately placed in the hands of the astute Englishwoman.
[B&W Illustration p. 147: "Une colonne de prisonniers" = "A column of prisoners"]
Let us say at once, so that our readers should be in no doubt as to the fate of the ex-colonel, that he now became part of Lady Cardigan's household. Lady Arabella Cardigan, true to her promise, had no wish to separate Makako's destiny from hers; she took him with her to England, to the Cardigan estate, which Makako had deluded himself that he might one day visit as its master. Unfortunately, Makako is not master there -- far from it! At first, he was comfortably lodged in a barred cage in the depths of the great greenhouse of Cardigan Castle, but his submissiveness and misery soon resulted in his being permitted a measure of liberty. Makako is no longer in chains; he vegetates while dreamily indulging his delusions of grandeur and sadly polishing Lord Cardigan's boots. He still sees Lady Arabella from time to time, when she deigns to grant him permission to fulfil the functions of a trusted domestic servant by carrying her letters to her on a silver platter. Lady Arabella's guests do not always treat him kindly, and Makako's aristocratic heart groans. In spite of his unhappiness, the old feudal spirit of the patrician monkey of Borneo still persists. Makako lords it over the servants, and still refuses disdainfully, for lack of time, to enter into communication with a reporter from a great Liberal newspaper, who contacted him in the hope of extracting a few interesting memoirs.
Let us return to Melbourne, where Dick Broken's monkeys were defending themselves desperately. The solidly-barricaded governor's mansion resisted repeated English attacks. While supervising the defence, Dick Broken, faithful to his old habits of reportage, sent correspondence from time to time to the Melbourne Herald, which had reappeared -- but as it simply forwarded his reports to the enemy, he refused all offers of capitulation and responded to the attacks with furious sorties at the head of an elite corps of fifty monkeys.
One of the pavilions at the corner of the governor's mansion had been taken and retaken twenty times over; for a week they had fought on the rooftops for possession of the pavilion's cupola. When the English believed that they were definitely in control of it, they installed themselves therein and prepared to move out of it to launch a decisive attack on the rest of the building -- but the monkeys swiftly climbed up on the roof and precipitated themselves in an assault on the cupola, dislodging the enemy and replacing the Farandoulia flag, which had only been struck for a moment, at the summit of the monument.
Unfortunately, their food supplies were running out. Dick Broken was careful to say nothing about it in his correspondence, but he was cruelly tormented by fear of starvation.
From the height of their elevated position, the monkeys had been able to watch the long column of their brothers, made captive by the English, filing into the city. Their humiliation had wounded them deeply, but while the cannons of Farandoul's little fort still sounded in the distance they still clung to a vague hope.
The Point Rocas fort, occupied by Farandoul and his faithful monkeys, still held out -- the garrison, when called to surrender, had received the envoys proudly. "So long as we have ammunition to feed to our cannons," Farandoul replied, "We shall swallow the shells of the British lion!" But as everyone knows, in addition to its natural bravery the British lion has a strong dose of finesse. Instead of continuing a duel of shellbursts with Farandoul, it decided that it would be simpler to let the defenders of Point Rocas exhaust their provisions. A rigorous blockade was established around the little fort, at a respectful distance. When the English general judged that the right moment had come, he sent new proposals to the Farandoulians, whose courage and constancy he admired. At the same time, he sent the monkeys' former king a letter from Dick Broken, informing him of the want of food and desperate situation of the last of Melbourne's monkeys -- but the little fort held out for another week by eking out the last rations of coconuts. The monkeys, who had become transparently thin, still refused to surrender.
In the end, when the impossibility of attempting an escape by sea had been clearly demonstrated, the ultimate decision was taken by a council whose members included both bimanes and quadrumanes.
The Farandoulian flag was lowered, yielding its place to a flag of truce.
The little fort was ready to capitulate!
The conditions were lengthily debated by the generals. Finally, a treaty was signed for the surrender of the fort and Dick Broken's monkeys. The members of the garrison were granted the honours of war and left with their weapons and baggage. The bimanes were prisoners; as for the quadrumanes, England was charged with their repatriation.
The open mouths of the cannons, silent since the night-watch, seemed to be yawning in despair. As noon sounded, to the sound of fifes and bagpipes, the drawbridge fell and the little fort's garrison filed down the slope towards the English staff-officers. Farandoul and Mandibul came on horseback at the column's head; behind them marched the bimane colonels and the hero's five foster-brothers, blackened by gunpowder and covered in glorious scars. Three hundred and fifty brave monkeys of martial aspect, in stained and ragged uniforms, came next, preceded by six monkey drummers playing the funeral march.
[B&W Illustration p. 151: "La reddition" = "The surrender"]
It was all over! The following day was the cruel day of separation. The bimane leaders dined with the English general, who acquainted them with the intentions of Her Majesty's government. Farandoul and the ex-mariners of La Belle Léocadie would be transported to Europe, far from quadrumane populations that were still profoundly agitated. Because Farandoul had stipulated, as a condition of the fort's surrender, a full pardon for Dick Broken, that individual was set at liberty.
Farandoul arranged with the general that La Belle Léocadie should be returned to the monkeys, in order that they might return to their hearths under the guidance of our hero's five brothers. Farandoul's foster-father, in spite of a thorough search, had not been found among the prisoners -- he had disappeared, like so many others, during the rout of Makako's army.
A few hours after La Belle Léocadie, carrying a hundred monkeys, had put to sea, along with an English corvette carrying the rest of the quadrumanes, a long-boat came to take the bimanes to Sandridge to convey them aboard the admiral's frigate.
Saturnin, Mandibul and the bimane ex-generals having taken their places in the long-boat's stern, the oars fell in response to a blast from the officer's whistle, and the long-boat moved off under their rapid propulsion.
Farandoul could not take his eyes off the shore: that Australian land for whose regeneration he had attempted such great things...
His concentration was broken by a unanimous cry that went up from the long-boat's passengers. A kind of reef had abruptly risen up; an enormous monster with an iron carapace had emerged from the water underneath the long-boat, which now found itself aground on its back, three metres above the waves.
Farandoul recognised the Nautilus. Good old Captain Nemo had arrived just in time to save him!
The bewildered Englishmen, however, continued mechanically to ply their oars in the empty air, while a great tumult erupted aboard the not-far-distant ships.
The prisoners leapt with a single bound on to the back of the Nautilus and ran towards the stern, where the ports were already wide open, inviting them to enter. Before the Englishmen could recover from their surprise, they all found themselves safely ensconced in the belly of the vessel.
In the interior of the Nautilus, each one was greeted as an escaped prisoner. The first words of Captain Nemo had been these: "My dear Farandoul, I am happy to have good news to bring you -- the Bora-Bora affair has been successfully concluded."
"I hope that the pirates' banker has been hanged!"
"No, the Sultan of Borneo wanted to appoint him as his prime minister; fortunately, the prudent fellow fled with the funds to Sumatra. On his arrival, the Rajah of Sumatra, desirous of ensuring that such a rich foreigner remained in his estates, had him impaled, and confiscated the funds to defray the expenses of that judiciary procedure. I was almost in despair for your credit, when the Sumatran minister of justice, unconcerned with regularizing his appointment, thought that the occasion was ripe for beating the retreat, and departed with the cash-box. Now, as I was following the trail of that cash-box in the Nautilus, in order to protect your rights, I encountered the ship which the minister of justice had chartered for it. I captured it and redeposited the minister in Sumatra with a receipt for his royal master. And that's how I saved your fifty-four million coins!
[B&W Illustration p. 155: "Le rajah de Sumatra voulut fixer ce riche étranger dans ses Etats" = "The Rajah of Sumatra wished to ensure the rich foreigner remained within his estates"]
Ten days after this miraculous escape, the Nautilus arrived at the mysterious island, and Captain Nemo put Farandoul in possession of his fifty-four million coins. Let us rapidly pass over the three months of rest and tranquillity that the mariners allowed themselves in the captain's domains before Farandoul profited from an opportunity to visit the isle of his childhood.
The monkeys taken prisoner by the English had returned to their hearths. His five brothers were there, about to proceed with a reorganization of the island with the aid of the Australian veterans. After a brief sojourn, during which Farandoul carried out a survey of the entire island to ascertain the changes and reforms necessary for the development of civilization, he set out in La Belle Léocadie bound for the mysterious island.
Soon enough, the fifty-four million coins made a substantial reinforcement for the arms stowed in the hold of La Belle Léocadie. Captain Nemo commissioned Farandoul to carry a mysterious package to Monsieur Jules Verne in Paris, and La Belle Léocadie set sail for Le Havre.
Do you know how much work there is to do on such a journey? Our mariners did not have too much free time left over for counting their wealth. Among the fifty-four million coins there were many copper ones and not a few that were fake or had been withdrawn from circulation. In the end, the calculations having been rigorously made by casting the nines, the tens, the elevens -- as recommended by the wisest professors of arithmetic -- Farandoul found that each sailor would have 33,578 francs to set him up. That wasn't at all bad, even for former generals and colonels.
They eventually sighted Le Havre; as there was an unexpended balance of thirty-five francs Farandoul called the sailors together to arrange a share-out.
Alas, all the calculations had been in vain! An ominous splashing set them all shivering. A stream of water soon manifested itself. The cargo of fifty-four million coins had overstrained the hold; some planks had given way and La Belle Léocadie was sinking rapidly.
A lamentable conclusion to such joyful hopes! Bora-Bora must have been laughing in his grave! La Belle Léocadie had had its day!
Fortunately, all the mariners could swim. A minute after the poor three-master had finally disappeared, the seventeen sailors, with Farandoul and Mandibul at the head, cleft the waves in the direction of the jetty at Le Havre, which was visible in the distance. Having left the ship in order of rank, they came up the stairway to the quay in the same order. Disdaining the helping hands that were offered to them, they climbed nimbly on to the quay. On arrival there, they all moved as one to lift their arms into the air, the same word on all their lips: "Ruined!"
[B&W Illustration p. 157: "Arrivée au Havre des marins de La Belle Léocadie" = "Arrival at Le Havre of the Belle Léocadie's seamen"]
"No!" Mandibul suddenly exclaimed, patting his pockets. "I still have the thirty-five francs!"
Farandoul also uttered a cry, in which equal doses of joy and astonishment were mingled. "It's him!"
It was, indeed, him! It was Farandoul's brave foster-father, whom he had recognised as he gazed on the soil of France for the very first time. And in what state did he see him? Wretched, crippled and captive! Attached by a chain to a stall set against the parapet of the quay, whose proprietor was selling parrots and exotic curios.
Farandoul leapt upon Mandibul's thirty-five francs and ran towards the merchant. "How much?" he stammered, in a voice choked with emotion, indicating to the mercantile soul that he meant the tearful quadrumane. "Thirty francs? Here's thirty-five!"
The old gentleman was liberated, and fell weeping into the arms of his adoptive son, all misery and suffering forgotten in that minute of happiness. The poor monkey had had some cruel times to endure. It will be remembered that he was on a mission to Makako's camp when the attack took place; caught up in the rout, he had fallen into the hands of the English, who had sold him in spite of his human rights!
[B&W Illustration p. 159: "Farandoul retrouve son père nourricier = "Farandoul finds his foster father"]
We shall not follow our friends to Paris, which they were able to reach thanks to advances made by one of Captain Lastic's old fitters. We shall content ourselves with saying that Farandoul religiously carried out his duty to deliver Captain Nemo's letters -- which he had, fortunately, saved from the wreck -- to the required address.
Firmly determined on another attempt to make his fortune, Farandoul resolved to find his foster-father a place where he would be safe from further vicissitudes. The old gentleman was rather worn out and very feeble. The director of the Botanical Gardens, to whom Farandoul related his anxieties, was moved to tears; he consented to provide shelter for the brave quadrumane's final days, and gave him his own apartment with a little garden.
The separation was cruel, but Farandoul courageously tore himself away from his foster-father and took the road to Le Havre again, with his companions. New projects having gestated in his fertile brain, America would be privileged to see what he might do next!
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