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|Book I||Jules Verne|
|Page 3 of 5||
"Saint Louis," blurted out Servadac, savagely.
Colonel Murphy slightly smiled.
Proof against all interruption, Count Timascheff, as if he had not heard it, went on without pausing. He related how the schooner had pushed her way onwards to the south, and had reached the Gulf of Cabes; and how she had ascertained for certain that the Sahara Sea had no longer an existence.
The smile of disdain again crossed the colonel's face; he could not conceal his opinion that such a destiny for the work of a Frenchman could be no matter of surprise.
"Our next discovery," continued the count, "was that a new coast had been upheaved right along in front of the coast of Tripoli, the geological formation of which was altogether strange, and which extended to the north as far as the proper place of Malta."
"And Malta," cried Servadac, unable to control himself any longer; "Malta--town, forts, soldiers, governor, and all--has vanished just like Algeria."
For a moment a cloud rested upon the colonel's brow, only to give place to an expression of decided incredulity.
"The statement seems highly incredible," he said.
"Incredible?" repeated Servadac. "Why is it that you doubt my word?"
The captain's rising wrath did not prevent the colonel from replying coolly, "Because Malta belongs to England."
"I can't help that," answered Servadac, sharply; "it has gone just as utterly as if it had belonged to China."
Colonel Murphy turned deliberately away from Servadac, and appealed to the count: "Do you not think you may have made some error, count, in reckoning the bearings of your yacht?"
"No, colonel, I am quite certain of my reckonings; and not only can I testify that Malta has disappeared, but I can affirm that a large section of the Mediterranean has been closed in by a new continent. After the most anxious investigation, we could discover only one narrow opening in all the coast, and it is by following that little channel that we have made our way hither. England, I fear, has suffered grievously by the late catastrophe. Not only has Malta been entirely lost, but of the Ionian Islands that were under England's protection, there seems to be but little left."
"Ay, you may depend upon it," said Servadac, breaking in upon the conversation petulantly, "your grand resident lord high commissioner has not much to congratulate himself about in the condition of Corfu."
The Englishmen were mystified.
"Corfu, did you say?" asked Major Oliphant.
"Yes, Corfu; I said Corfu," replied Servadac, with a sort of malicious triumph.
The officers were speechless with astonishment.
The silence of bewilderment was broken at length by Count Timascheff making inquiry whether nothing had been heard from England, either by telegraph or by any passing ship.
"No," said the colonel; "not a ship has passed; and the cable is broken."
"But do not the Italian telegraphs assist you?" continued the count.
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