Artabanzanus/Chapter 16

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1448129Artabanzanus — Chapter XVIWilliam Moore Ferrar



With sorrow and humiliation, if not with consternation and horror, I took my place again beside my leader in his buggy, the dense and awful crowd crushing and surging to each side to open a way for us to pass. The fiendish Minister for War, Bomblazo, was the very first to congratulate me on my victory. A dreadful silence reigned around. The people gazed at us, as it were, in petrified surprise, in thunder-stricken astonishment. I regarded this terrible stillness as ominous of pent-up rage, and of a bloody vengeance rapidly approaching; and with a sigh of despair prepared myself for the worst. The Doctor, however, did not seem to regard it in this light. He chirruped to his horses, began to laugh, quietly to himself at first, then with gradually-increasing hilarity, until, finally, he burst into the loudest roars I ever heard, saying in the intervals of his paroxysms: 'Hurrah! hurrah! that rat won't squeak again—hurrah!'

'Hurraw!' shouted a larrikin recruit in the crowd, and instantly twenty thousand mouths were opened, and a wild and tremendous cheer burst forth from them. I did not take off my hat, or bow in return for their acclamations, although I knew they were intended for me, My heart was full of grief and bitterness, and I was surprised at the conduct of the Doctor, and more than inclined to be seriously offended with him. The cheers of the delighted populace grew louder and louder, and they ran in multitudes after our buggy, and even wanted to take the horses out, and draw the buggy themselves—but this we both united in forbidding—and they shouted as they ran: 'Hurraw for the great Ubustius wot come down from the sky, and skivered old Dashmy Partisan!'

At last we extricated ourselves from the crowd, and drove back quietly to the hospital, where we found the Demon's lumbering coach, with its six black gigantic horses, waiting before the entrance gate. It was surrounded, to our great dismay, by a number of gigantic negro guards.

'Now,' said the Doctor as we entered the hall, 'as I have told you, your time for departure is come. Our friend Artabanzanus is inside waiting for you. He knows by this time what you have done, and I'm glad I am not in your shoes. We shall find him in a precious rage, but he is so blinded and infatuated by his worship of himself, and his determination to gain you over, that it is not likely to last long. Speak him fair; don't insult or defy him, as you did the Parliament. Remember your experience of Partigan; if you make a slip you will be sure to fall, and you will drag me down with you. He admires your talents, respects you lot your knowledge, and almost adores you for your industry, your youth, and the beauty of your person—ahem! But you must not fight him here. If that kind of spirit moves you, wait—have the goodness to wait until you can crow on your own dunghill. He will be in a rage with me, too—do not interfere. I can fight my own battles. As for Bellagranda, poor soul! she is ready to die: she is passionately in love with you. That scream of hers pierced the hearts of those parliamentary demons, and saved your life for that time; but you are not yet out of danger—very far from it. We will enter now the Majestic Presence.

We went in accordingly, and entered the Doctor's reception-room, to find, as we anticipated, this chieftain among demons striding up and down, and not in the best of tempers. The moment he saw the Doctor he turned upon him fiercely, and roared:

'How is this, Doctor Julius—is this the way you do your duty? Is this my reward for the confidence I have placed in you, for the power I have given you, for the honours I have conferred upon you, for the position of Premier to which I have exalted you? Did I give you permission to take Ubertus into my Parliament, when important and secret measures were to be debated, and where you knew he would not be personally safe? By what authority did you introduce a stranger to the House, contrary to the standing orders, and to all precedents? And what was that miserable Thunderer thinking of when he permitted him to be placed on the table, and to dare to address the House? Did you give him a dose of your horrible taxacorum squeezetalis which you carry about with you in bottles and in powders, ready for use to effect your nefarious purposes? And what is this terrible rumour I have heard, racing like a mad dog through the city—that you, one or the other of you, or both of you together, have murdered my trusted Minister for Foreign Affairs. Sir Dashmy Partigan? Is this true? Can this be true of Doctor Julius, the kind and soft-hearted physician, the benevolent philanthropist, who takes the liberty of altering my decrees because he thinks they are too severe, and of sparing those delinquents whom I condemn to the most terrible of punishments? Speak—rebel—conspirator!'

'My lord Demon,' began the Doctor submissively, 'I humbly beg your Majesty's pardon. I am a great rascal, I know, and a thundering rogue into the bargain, I plead guilty to all your allegations, and would not think for a minute of defending myself, yet have some distant, and faint, cloudy, although infinitesimal hope that you will have some little microscopical shadow of mercy upon me on account of parliamentary excitement, and extenuating circumstances in general, which, as I will relate to your most excellent Majesty in very few words, and the simplest of all languages, will, I hope, have the beneficial and soporific effect which, for the sake of peace and the universal Federation of the whole world, I am naturally led to expect. When I received your Majesty's summons to attend your great Parliament, by virtue of my exalted office of Premier, I—rashly and foolishly, I am willing to admit—communicated that intelligence to your distinguished friend Ubertus, who immediately formed the resolution, in his thoroughly obstinate and wooden head, to come with me to the Parliament. I swore I would not take him, he swore he would go, and, sir, I had to give way on account of the youth's delicate state of health, but I believe his real reason for wanting to go was because he had set his heart on seeing the charming Princess Bellagranda again. Well, my good lord, I gave him proper advice——'

'Cut it short, sir, my time is precious,' broke in the Demon.

'What conduct he was to pursue, and it was solely with a view of doing you honour, my lord, that I introduced your valued friend to the House, and it was entirely unforeseen, and quite contrary to my desire, and frequently-expressed wishes, that the House was pleased to take the notice of him which it did, and which it did, I believe, with the generous and romantic object of amusing your amiable and enchanting daughter, the Princess. I am grieved to the heart to be obliged to say that our distinguished friend Ubertus suddenly and unaccountably lost his head, when he found himself stuck up on the table of the House, hunting for, and at last catching, the Thunderer's eagle eye; notwithstanding which he made a very excellent and telling speech, as he presently found out; for, on account of his freedom of language, and being always boiling over with pure envy and jealousy, your Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Sir Dashmy Partigan was—or rather on account of his own selfish, bloodthirsty, unreasonable disposition—so much offended, that he savagely attacked your friend and my friend, and would have slaughtered him on the very table of the House, if the noble Princess had not uttered a piercing scream, and I immediately interfered. Then the furious Sir Dashmy, the hang-dog Bombastes Furioso, challenged him to fight him, and me too, Premier as I am, in a triple combat, then and there, or shortly afterwards; and as I know you, my lord, would never forgive me if I showed the white feather, I accepted his challenge, and advised Ubertus to do as he liked. It appears—you know, sir, what happened. His fate was a sad one, but he brought it on himself.'

'And you, sir—you—Ubertus, what have you to say?' bellowed the Demon, turning upon me furiously.

'Say, sir,' I replied trembling, 'I—I—have nothing to say, sir, except what this gentleman has said, sir, although he is mistaken in the motives he attributes to me for going to your Royal Palace, sir.'

'How about Sir Dashmy Partigan? Do you know that you have attacked the integrity of my empire, and made yourself responsible to me for the life of that valuable Minister? Answer me and excuse yourself if you can or dare; and let me not hear such a verbose abomination as that which your patron the Doctor has just stuffed down my throat.'

'The man of few words is the best man, sir; and as the carpenter is known by his chips, so is the murderer by his blood-stains. I have none; therefore I am innocent of the death of Partigan, sir.'

'This is quibbling—this is lying!' cried the enraged Demon. 'You are covered with blood-stains from head to foot.'

'Yes, sir, I grant you, but it is the blood of a Bengal tiger, which attacked me and was going to tear me to pieces, when a concealed gun went off, perhaps by accident, sir, and killed the poor gentleman—I mean the big tiger, sir.'

'Who concealed the gun?'

'A strict and searching investigation will be made into the mystery of this matter, sir, and when we return from our contemplated visit to foreign countries, the result will be duly laid before you,' said the Doctor.

'We!' sneered the Demon. 'You are not fool enough to think that I am going to take you? No, sir; you must be punished for your share in this day's business. I have bound myself to take Ubertus, but we shall soon have him here again. Are you ready?'

'I am quite ready, sir,' I answered; 'but I hope your Majesty will be kind and generous, and allow our friend to come with us. He has been here a long time, and has never had a holiday. In my country, Tasmania, the Government and bank clerks have holidays two or three times a month, if I do not mistake. This good and hard-working Doctor, who has endeared himself to the inhabitants of all parts of your wide dominions, sir, has saved my life no less than three times during my short residence here. It will be impossible for me to prove my gratitude to him, unless you will graciously permit me to take him to my happy home in Tasmania, and introduce him to my family and friends. It is possible, sir, I admit, to thank him in words but words are often the despicable froth of empty and ungrateful hearts. I earnestly beseech you, sir, to let him come with us; he is too honourable to make any attempt to escape from you by unfair means.'

'Escape from me!' said the Demon, 'impossible; he cannot escape from me; I defy him to outwit me, clever as he is. But he has duties to attend to here; he cannot be spared; he shall not come—I have said it.'

'My lord Demon,' pleaded poor Julius, who was nearly distracted with grief and terror at the prospect of being left behind, 'if you will graciously condescend to hear me, I hope to be able to convince your Majesty that my projected, and often promised, visit to the upper world will redound to your own glory, and the glory and power and dignity of your empire, to an extent most marvellous to behold, which you will yourself be the first to acknowledge when you come to behold it. You admit that I am clever. Perhaps the time is approaching when you will be forced to admit that I am more than clever—that I am a great Genius! I am in possession of important and dangerous secrets, which it would not benefit even you to know. You alone, sir, in all your wide dominions, can be my master. Can I think of leaving the service of so good a master? Give me only a six months' holiday on the outside world, and I will gain for you a million of new subjects, each one as valuable to you as I am myself. I will not go about among the poor and forsaken men of the world; no, I will fly at higher game. I will blind the eyes of the great and noble, the rich, the learned, and the wise. I will poison the minds of good, kind, charitable people, and confound the judgments of critics, and judges, and make the greatest lawyers, doctors, and professors of the most exalted philosophy, fall down at your feet. Beautiful, charming women shall not be wanting. Kings and Queens on their thrones will not be able to resist my power when I shall choose to exert it. I shall be a snake in the grass, or a favourite dog or cat in the lap of beauty, or a solemn adviser, or a lying spirit when I please, and I can charm them with music to which that of Orpheus himself cannot be compared; and I have not told you the half of my power, sir, to do you service. Let me go!'

'I will not let you go. You are as cunning as a fox, and as deep as the Pit of Acheron,' said the Demon.

'You said yourself, sir,' answered the Doctor, 'that, clever as I am, I cannot deceive, or outwit you, or escape from your power, and I know it would be useless for me to try; will you now doubt your own talents or your genius? I do not compare myself with you. I shall never try to emulate your superiority as a leader, or be your equal in strategy or finesse, or in the forethought and prudence that are inestimable, or in the unflinching bravery which levels mountains; but I will do as I have said—gain for you, in six months' time, a million souls of priceless value.'

'How will you do it?'

'By writing a fashionable book against Christianity: a grand display of mystical rubbish which everybody will read and nobody understand.'

The Demon, who had been hastily walking up and down the room, now stopped suddenly, and looked hard at the Doctor. 'I do not,' he said, 'doubt or distrust you overmuch, Julius, for I must confess that I have a lingering affection for you, and woe to you if you deceive me. I cannot deny that you have often saved me from the remorse which sometimes follows cruelty. I believe, also, that you are capable of some sincerity, and I do not doubt my own power to overcome hostile machinations, but for all that, and not because I fear you, if I take you with me I shall require security.'

'Security, my lord!' said the Doctor aghast.

'Security!' repeated the Demon, 'real, substantial, valuable, and irrevocable security! Am I a fool to run the risk of losing you without security ? How can I tell what might happen? You might be wrenched from me by a thunderbolt from the hand of an angel of light, and then where should I be without security? The soul of a man whom I shall accept, one in whom, when I have once gained him, I can place implicit confidence, and in whose intellectual society I can take delight. I could name one man whom I would accept, but his heart appears to be hardened against me now. He declines my friendship, and spurns my service, but I have every hope of gaining him over. If he offers himself, I will accept him.'

I understood the fiend's meaning only too well, and my mind was in a state of positive torture. I had sworn to myself that I would rescue Julius if I could, but my resolution nearly gave way when I heard his extraordinary speech. But, unable to control a sudden impulse, I turned to the Demon, and said:

'I understand you, sir; I will be security for Doctor Julius.'

'No, no, Ubertus, you shall not,' said the alarmed Doctor. 'Do not mind him, my lord; his brain is weak; he does not know what he is saying.'

'If,' interrupted the Demon, without heeding the last speaker, and addressing me, 'you fully understand the drift of our present conversation, and agree to put yourself in this man's place, and give yourself for all eternity in exchange for him if, by any falsehood or treachery on his part, he succeeds in making his escape from me, or fails to appear at the appointed place and appointed time, I will take him to the surface of the earth.'

I stared at the Doctor, and he at me. His countenance was open, manly, and honest. I reflected with bitterness that it was often the lot of honest and noble-minded men to humble themselves to solicit favours from the narrowest and meanest of their fellow-creatures; and even to stoop to dissimulation, and pretend to be what they are not. But surely he could not be capable of treachery to me which would involve me in eternal destruction? Ah! what did I know?—how could I tell? No encyclopaedia in the world could tell me whether he would be true or false.

'My lord Demon, and friend Ubertus,' said he, 'this contract must not be entered into hastily, without due consideration. Do I understand you to mean, sir, that if by any mischance, accident, or second death, or through evil design, treachery, or falsehood, or intervention of a Superior Power, or convulsions of Nature, I fail to return with you, the condition of your consent is that Ubertus shall return in my place?'

The Demon answered in the affirmative.

'Then,' said the Doctor sadly, 'I will not go. It only remains for us, Ubertus, to say farewell to each other.'

The tears rolled down our cheeks as we clasped our right hands together in momentary silence.

Then I calmly spoke to the following effect:

'Mr. Demon, you have signified your willingness to accept me as security for Doctor Julius, and I repeat that I am willing to become his security on these conditions. I have the fullest confidence in his truth and honour, and on the ground of truth and honour I will be his security; but you will see for yourself, sir, if you will be so good, that it would be manifestly unjust to hold me responsible for his second death, or for any accident or mischance which might overtake him, through the bursting of the balloon, or any convulsion of Nature, or on account of anything which might occur to yourself, to him, or to me, for which nobody in the universe can be held responsible, in a legal point of view, with the exception of falsehood, evil design, treachery, or cunning, and knavery, and chicanery on his part; and if hereinafter described your Majesty shall be induced or persuaded from any cause hereinbefore noted and set down to dismiss him from your service for ever with your own free will, all consequences and remonstrances to the contrary notwithstanding, then I am free to serve whom I please.'

'Say it again!' said the Demon, coming closer to me, and, on my repeating the above speech with emendations, he cried out with rapture: 'Good!— very good! A clever fellow! I agree—I consent! A capital secretary!'

I now sat down to the table, and drew up a tripartite agreement to the desired effect, sticking as much learned and legal phraseology into it as I was master of, in order to drown the sense of such an important document to me; for I regarded myself as the only one of the three whom it seriously affected. The Demon had had his full measure meted out to him long ago. The Doctor's ultimate fate was still undecided, and could not be influenced, I thought, by the document in question. I alone was yet to be born for heaven or for hell. The risk was tremendous; the thought was distracting. Should my friend prove treacherous, or openly resist, it only remained for me to return into the bosom of my family for a few short months, and then bid them farewell for ever. Nevertheless, my courage rose, and the remembrance of all he had done for me came upon me with mighty force. The protocol was finished, and duly signed by the contracting parties, witnesses being thought unnecessary.

As soon as I had signed the paper, another overwhelming thought of dismay and distraction darted into my mind. The Doctor, I now remembered, had promised the Demon verbally that he would write a fashionable book against Christianity, by whose means a million of valuable souls would be added to his empire in the course of six months. Now, this was, in my opinion, the most deadly and terrible of all sins. He who wrote a book against Christianity incurred a responsibility which there were no words in any language sufficiently strong to describe or denounce. What did it matter to them whether it was true or false? They did not choose to believe it, and there the matter, as far as they were concerned, might be allowed to rest. If they can prove it to be false, then let them write against it; but they cannot. They cannot prove any other creed to be true. I abhorred in my heart this most foolish and wicked desire to destroy a pure and undefiled religion that has been promulgated for the good and not the evil of the human race; and I had, by my recent act, made myself an accessory before the fact to this diabolical villainy. Oh, how I cursed my folly and my ignorance; and how bitterly I bewailed my ever-recurring misfortunes and calamities! The deed was, however, now done; I could not recall the past; but I might yet have power given me to counteract the evil design, should the Doctor make any serious attempt to put it in execution.

Then, after some necessary preparations, we entered the Demon's carriage. The coachman, a fiend of great muscular strength and shaggy appearance, drove his horses three abreast, slowly but surely. When we reached the primordial I noticed that the population was much denser than I had seen it before. The people preserved an ill-omened silence, and regarded us as we passed with gloomy, dissatisfied, and scowling looks. All their hilarity at the result of the late duel had disappeared. In its place there appeared nothing but hatred and defiance. The Demon was greatly disturbed, and showed it by agitation and impatience. He ordered his coachman to drive faster, but the gathering crowd impeded our progress; and from the gigantic gateways that led from the different departments of the city we saw fresh, and apparently infuriated, crowds pouring forth like flooded rivers into the sea.

The Doctor noticed my anxiety and consternation, and strove to divert my attention from the fearful prospect. We spoke in whispers, being in the demon's presence. He told me that the people who inhabited the hidden recesses of that city were once men like myself, but they lived in the world by robbing and defrauding others, and were guilty of rapine and cruelty, of drunkenness and debauchery of all kinds; men who studied themselves and their pleasures above all other things, and who prided themselves on their lofty station, their superior abilities, and the magnificence of their wealth. Some of them had been the devisers of wicked schemes, and plotters of the ruin—moral, financial, or religious—of other men. What a vast concourse is here!—men without conscience, with hearts like the cold and rugged rock, vain, stern, uncompromising; political agitators; promoters of turbulence and war; extortioners, hypocrites, systematic liars, swindlers, and those who could see no pleasure in forgiveness or in paying debts. What deep misery is their portion! How they must weep sometimes and gnash their teeth!

'Is there no escape for them?' I inquired, with the deepest grief.

'Time will tell,' he answered, and relapsed into silence.

I had learned some useful lessons during my short stay in that wonderful city. The luxurious couch of Astoragus taught me that I must not settle myself down in careless, self-satisfied ease and inactivity while there is work to be done in the blessed service of my Heavenly Father, or abandon myself to the enjoyment of the good things and pleasures of this life without counting the cost.

The visions of blood, and the part I took in the great combination of battles, gave me some idea of the oppressive weight which slowly accumulates upon the minds of all students of the history of mankind, and the anguish with which the most sensitive of them must reflect, that they belong to a race of beings that are not only capable of the greatest enormities, but are actually guilty, in thousands of instances, of the bloodiest and most shocking barbarities. For these things every sensible man knows that there is retribution in store; the pity is, that the perpetrators will not believe it My own extraordinary adventure with the great conqueror who fell upon me need not be wondered at, when I confess that in my youth I was a warm admirer of that magnificent hero; but since my arrival at years of maturity and discretion, I have learned to estimate him at his true value.

The meditations into which the writer of a work of this nature is liable to fall are often weighty, if not terrible, but they are not likely to affect others, and, indeed, many would think it is not at all necessary to put them on paper. Men do not like to have the peaceful serenity of their lives disturbed by prosy platitudes which, if they please, they can manufacture in any quantity for themselves. Some authors, as Bacon, Addison, and Swift, had talents given them to instruct by letters and essays; others are permitted to do the same thing by writing histories and tales; but, unfortunately, there are men who cannot profit by either. Some men read and forget everything; others read and digest, but, like gluttons, the bigger they grow the fuller of diseases they become; others never read at all, or they will take pleasure in the story and despise the moral. The Bible itself is a sealed book to them, and their own minds are they do not require to be taught; and the writer of a book who tries to make the world better only wastes his time. Speak to them of money, glory, ambition, and they will understand you. 'Soldiers,' said Napoleon at the Battle of the Pyramids, 'forty ages are looking down upon you!' The worldly-wise conqueror did not indicate what good the 'forty ages' would do for his thirsty, bleeding, butchered men.

The dreamy visions of the immense crowds of excited people still passed before me. Hoarse roars of desperate rebellion rose up from all parts of the abyss. What was the matter? Were the people suffering the pangs of famine? Good God! if so, how were they to be fed? An aide-de-camp galloped up to the side of the carriage, and after saluting the Demon, informed him that a revolution had suddenly broken out; that every working man in the city had struck for the highest amount of wages, in return for the smallest possible quantity of work, and that a general and frightful mutual massacre was impending.

'Then order out the Guards!' replied the Demon hoarsely. ' Call out Hannibal and Caesar with their armies to assail them in front; let Sylla and Marius attack them in the rear; and command Antony and Belisarius to annihilate them on either flank. I cannot stay.'

'Sire,' replied the officer, 'if you do not stay, the city will be destroyed.'

'No matter; let it be destroyed. I am going to build another beside the Great Lake of Tasmania; it's pleasant and cool up there, and we'll have none of these rows. Hold your own till I come back; I will put a stop to their strikes.'

The officer galloped off. Then I saw several individuals in the black throngs around us jump upon casks, or any other things they could stand on, and make impassioned, soul-stirring speeches to those around them, being received with cheers and plaudits of the most encouraging kind. In the midst of their oratory, however, and the bombastic display of their wonderful abilities, they contradicted each other, then fell to mutual abuse; called each other liars, rogues, traitors, scoundrels, and every other vile name they could think of, and finally jumped down from their casks, and joined in a general boxing match all round.

Then it was that a sudden roar, as of a tempest bursting through a thick forest, reached our ears from a distance. It increased in volume every moment, until it became a loud roar as of continuous thunder. The situation was becoming dreadful. The menacing crowds gathered and thickened round our carriage.

'They mean to stop us by force,' said the Demon.

'We must unite our powers, sir, and strike them blind,' said the Doctor.

'I fear it will be necessary,' replied the Demon, 'if the Generals do not come up in time. Drive on, Damnadabad—drive on over their necks and heels, if they do not clear the way!'

There was a lull in the tempest, and an awful silence reigned for a moment: and then another kind of storm, of which we had not the slightest expectation, burst upon us. It was the fierce baying of bloodhounds, and the terrific roar of a lion.

'Drive on!' roared the Demon; ' Bellagranda is out, she's on the rampage again, though I told her I was only going to the Bridge of Despair to smoke a pipe: now for the tug of war! Doctor, have you got your squeezatalis about you?

'I have it ready, my lord, for all cases of emergency,' replied the Doctor.

We were now within a couple of hundred yards of the balloon, which was standing upright ready for flight, and Could see the faithful Obeltub at his post in the car. The enormous crowds of people, as if struck by some extraordinary fear, had not approached nearer; but the roaring of the lion, and the baying of the hounds grew louder and louder, into a din that was absolutely stunning. I looked round in terror. There, within a few yards of us, strode Bellagranda's superb lion, carrying his majestic mistress, in her robes of azure and gold, and her crown of stars glittering on her head. Her horrible dogs were baying loudly behind her, but they were still at a distance.

'Father,' she screamed, 'come back! is this a time for you to be absent? The city is in open rebellion, and the Third Avenue is on fire!'

'Daughter,' he answered, 'go home! We shall soon have water enough in the Great Lake of Tasmania to quench all the fires in the world. I shall be back tomorrow, and all will be well. The armies, artillery and cavalry, are coming. Obey me! I have a Master whom I must obey.'

'I will not go home,' she cried passionately, 'without Ubertus. I will die on this spot if you do not surrender him. You gave him to me! he is my husband! he is mine! he is mine!'

'Will you stay with her? you are free to choose,' said my enemy.

'I will not,' I shouted. 'I will die first. I demand to be released; she has no claim upon me as husband or lover; I am not yours to give to her or anybody else!'

'Then rush to the car, and be hanged!' muttered the Demon.

I sprang from the carriage, and the Doctor after me, but Bellagranda was as quick as we were. She made her lion execute a splendid demivolt upon us as we rushed for the balloon, and tried to transfix me with a spear which she carried; and her furious dogs came up with foam dropping from their mouths.

'Hold him, Syrax! pin him down, Picklock!' she screamed, 'but hurt him not—he is my husband! And yet he has rejected me—yes, yes, avenge my insulted love!'

And at the moment when I felt the hot breath of the terrible brutes upon me, and when the paws of the lion were reared over my head, and I had given myself up for lost, the Doctor drew his hand hastily from a pocket of his doublet, and scattered a gray impalpable powder in the faces of our enemies. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, they were all transformed as they stood into statues of black marble.

'There,' said he, 'remain as you are until I come back to transform you again.'

We lost not another moment, but scrambled into the car. 'Turn on the lightning, Obeltub,' sang out the Demon. 'The rebels are coming on again!' and sure enough they were advancing upon us like a tumultuous whirlwind. Obeltub gave his wheel a turn, and the balloon snorted and puffed, and sprang up from the ground. Just then the thunder of a hundred guns, a long roll of musketry, and a rapid charge of horse broke upon them, and the distracted mob fled away in every direction.