I travelled thus for two days. Each night I slept no more than a; few hours. On the third day, with the help of my instruments, I established that I had reached the line of the sea-lane to India. I ought to sight land in two days at most. The situation was all the more urgent as my engine, not accustomed to such a long running period, had to be stopped more and more frequently, to be cleaned or to have the sparking-plugs replaced.
On this day after lunch, black clouds. suddenly gathered on the sky-line and after half an hour I was caught in a fierce storm. The wind caught my boat amidships with terrific force and. I feared it would sink. Exerting myself to my utmost limit I continually bailed out the water, and set the engine into the wind at full throttle.
After half an hour of desperate struggling the engine stopped dead. That was the last straw! I opened up the engine immediately. Drenched to the skin, bailing out water with one hand and staggering from fatigue and exhaustion, I worked until I realized the horrible truth: two cylinders had seized up and no force could budge them.
I was entirely at the mercy of the elements.
But the best was yet to come.
When the storm abated my instruments told me that beyond doubt I was farther back than I had been. I was in those very currents which had a year ago taken me at the beginning of my voyage to the island of the lunatics!
Indescribable despair overcame me. Lying in the bottom of my boat, I tore my hair and writhed about, and then absolutely beside myself, I got on my knees and prayed to God to save me this once more from having to relive the past monstrosities and help me back to life. I vowed that I would never put to sea again. Only the murmur of the sea responded to my words, and I decided that if I sighted the island, I would drown myself.
Evening came and the horizon dressed itself in black making the situation even more gloomy. Although I could have lit a lamp as my batteries were not yet discharged, I did not dare to do so. My eyes were just about to close with exhaustion when I caught sight of a point of light, very far away on the horizon.
Hope gave new strength to my limbs. I jumped up, picked up a reflector and waved it in that direction shouting at the top of my voice although I knew that it could not be heard at such a distance.
A quarter of an hour passed before I was noticed. The blast of a siren replied, then I saw a hull turn towards me.
What I felt at that moment my Readers cannot imagine and I am unable to describe it, but for me it will for ever remain an unforgettable memory. Tears welled up in my eyes and falling to my knees I stammered thanks to the infinitely merciful Lord of Heaven.
Half an hour later the ship was close to me and once I was able to read her name, I cried out in perfect ecstasy.
It was the "Terrible"!
When the life-boat reached me I embraced the very first sailor and kissed him on both cheeks.
Climbing aboard I was taken to the captain. Here I could not control myself any more. Falling to my knees I kissed the British flag; then, standing up I sang the National Anthem in an almost delirious joy, at which off went the caps from all the heads around me, and eyes dimmed with tears.
Nobody knew what was happening, but they felt it, and they did not disturb me.
It only occurred to me afterwards that I should introduce myself.
I outlined the situation briefly, at which the captain sent me to the admiral under the escort of a lieutenant.
We found the admiral in the mess, where the officers happened to be sitting at their dinner. Seeing his decorative epaulettes I sprang to attention, introduced myself briefly, the admiral shook my hand, saying "How d'you do," and I again burst into tears.
However, he kindly beckoned to me to take a seat, the stewards set another place at the table, every piece of which was adorned with the Royal coat of arms. Then I was offered a small glass of whisky.
All this I had not seen or tasted for a whole year (or more, for all I knew!). I could hardly recover from my joy and it took quite a time before I was able to send the first bite down my, throat, as sobs choked me.
After dinner the admiral himself asked me to say a few words about my experiences, in so far as my condition permitted it.
I heaved a deep sigh and set about relating everything. Needless to say, in a few minutes I was forced to observe more than once indications of doubt on the faces of my fellow-officers — in spite of all their goodwill. Lest they should take me for either a fool or a liar I also tried to submit material proof, Fortunately my craft had been lifted aboard, so I could show them some reviews entitled "Textile Industry" which I had used for packing, with pictures of the factory in them. They began to take me seriously only when I read it fluently and explained it in translation. Then, however, everyone gathered around me and they listened eagerly to my story. The deathly hush was only occasionally broken by a burst of spontaneous laughter when I mentioned this or that piece of nonsense of the Hins or Behins, which abated and turned into comradely sympathy only when I called their attention to the fact that I was the party who had been subjected to all this.
It also had a boisterous effect when I related how the betik honoured me with his silly question, "How does your nose grow, kaleb?" — while he had not been at all interested in the growth of noses.
It caused great amusement when I spoke of the foot snatching, the vake- vake, and the betik's copper cube, and I take pride in having caused some merry moments especially to the admiral who laughed so heartily at these unbelievable insanities and aimless stupidities that his decorations clinked on his chest.
Encouraged by this success, I, too, became animated and merry. I spoke with enthusiasm of the yellow pebble, earless women, the bikbam, the inscrutable ketni and kipu, the men defending their being exploited, the shukk, the Bigrusts, and above' all of Zemoeki's boundless stupidity. The amusement grew from minute to minute and reached its climax when I related that Zemoeki would not have recognized himself in my account of my travels and would only have laughed at the whole thing. At this point I had to interrupt my words because my audience's abdominal muscles began to ache.
"Did he laugh at his own portrait?" the admiral asked wiping away his tears, when the general laughter had somewhat abated.
"And how heartily!" I replied.
At this the thunderous laughter again burst forth.
When, however, I arrived at my last story, that of the massacre which had raged on account of the circle and the square, the faces unexpectedly turned serious. The admiral politely .remarked that although he did not doubt my veracity, here, perhaps, I had not observed everything properly, for starting a bestial bloodshed because of soft-headed obsessions and geometrical figures would signify a complete lack of thinking capacity and brain, which was unbelievable not only of men but even of brute beasts. To him it also seemed improbable that one professing truth and solid common sense with a clear conscience should be called an extremist and an exaggerating inciter and that such a man should be put to the stake as an enemy of order and civilization. This was perhaps an exaggeration, being incredible not only to the European way of thinking but to any other outlook as well. Surely something had escaped my attention or my sufferings had by that time dulled my senses.
His doubting my words was on the point of making me contradict; forgetting about the respect due, the description of the whole massacre was again on the tip of my tongue when I was astonished into silence.
As I thought it over, in this environment, I myself saw it to be so unbelievable that I considered it a dream. It was only when I read my travel notes the next day that I became convinced once more that it had all been reality. But that evening I did not dare to say any more. And I finally abandoned the idea of telling, them about the bikru's tenets which I myself cannot entirely, believe even today.
Suddenly falling silent I answered that at that particular, moment I was not entirely sure of it myself, and I would prefer, to be excused from recalling the madness, and it might be better to switch over to the normal and nice things I had not had the opportunity to hear from my compatriots for such a long time.
My words were received with understanding, then the admiral stood up, and with a glass in his hand began to speak.
He saluted me informally, expressing his pleasure that I had been lucky enough to get back from among the lunatics to the world of civilization where I had the opportunity to re-enter the forces in the service of my adored country.
He enthusiastically reminded us of the greatness and special calling of our country, which had posted her as the guardian of peace and civilization. And the trustee of this elevating vocation to safeguard the peace was the army, which ensured balance in the world, the survival of Christian justice and, last but not least, the tranquillity of the family hearths of British citizens.
With a transfigured expression he assured us in a raised voice that there was no more elevating awareness than to serve under the British flag as this was what led to true perfection of the soul, which filled the British citizen with pride and exalted him above all the other citizens of the world.
"To the heights of this happy feeling," he said, "only the living and warm heart of a patriot can rise, in which the sacred respect for ideals and traditions is alive, while the barren, bleak soul remains far from it and loses its way in the desert. The respect for the flag and the Bible gives an unswerving aim which adds aim and content to our life, which distinguishes us from the brute beast; that is what steels our arms in the noble battles, that is what makes the sons of the nation heroes who are happy to sacrifice their lives for honour and for the glory of death in action.
"The respect for military virtues and the national ideal is the source of the life of the peoples, without which our fate would be death and ruin. Let us therefore foster higher ideas in our heart, our steadfast devotion to the Bible and our country, for a British patriot lives or dies with his sword and honour.
"For the time being we don't know," he went on, "whether the war to come will be fought against Germans, French or Japanese, but wherever we shall be called by His Majesty's order we shall hasten without thought or hesitation to defend the flag, that much is certain.
"I firmly believe that when the bugle-call is heard, every citizen, regardless of sex and age, will be happy to sacrifice his or her life for the ideals and the flag, for even if all of us should die, Great Britain and her ideals will live for ever!"
Proposing to the health of His Majesty he emptied his glass. Then picking up the small flag that had stood on the table and holding it aloft, he shouted three cheers for king and country.
A soul-stirring scene followed.
The officers jumped up, tears shone in every eye, and we all broke into 'God Save the King'.
After the last chord sounded the officers embraced each other, and it was minutes before everyone sat down again.
Now the officers wanted to have a word from me. I would have liked to thank them fittingly for the rapturous happiness that filled me now that I was in their circle after such a. long period of deprivation.
I rose, but the glass trembled in my hand. My throat tightened; and in the end all I could do was shout in a voice touched with, emotion, "My country! My King! My life is yours!"
What should have followed was suppressed by my fit of, sobbing and the thunderous cheering of my fellow-officers.
Again we drank, then the admiral rose and bade us all good night. He gave me the signal honour of addressing me personally saying, "Good show!" And, in true British fashion, expecting., no answer, he turned on his heel and left.
After this I was led to my cabin where a freshly made bed already awaited me.
Returning home to Redriff I found my wife and children in good health. The pleasure of seeing me again at first prevented my spouse from speaking, but then, bursting into tears of emotion, she said that I was already considered dead by everybody.
I tried to comfort her with tender words saying that I had no more troubles and was able to devote my life to her and to my country.
Still sobbing, she asked me with the anxiety of the concerned wife whether, since the life insurance had already been spent for the proper conservation of the splendour of my house, it would not be advisable for me to return inconspicuously to Kazohinia to wait there until the thirty years required for the statutory limitation had expired.
This, of course, I could not accept because it would have been bordering on fraud, which was alien to the character of a British citizen. And, furthermore, the whole staff of officers was already aware of my arrival. Thus I reassured my wife by saying that we should be perfectly able to pay back the insurance money after I had published the account of my travels, as my experiences were so educative that any government would highly appreciate them and patronize their distribution in order that the subjects should learn, from the description of a society consisting of unworthy and stupid Behins and governed by vicious leaders, to appreciate their own environment.
And when my tactful but nevertheless determined attitude had also made the gigolo leave my house, the domestic peace which is so pleasant a feature of the cosy English home was completely restored.