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The Survivors of the Chancellor

The Passengers Discover Their Danger
WHAT my feelings were I cannot describe; but it was hardly in terror so much as with a
kind of resignation that I made my way to Curtis on the forecastle, and made him aware
that the alarming character of our situation was now complete, as there was enough
explosive matter on board to blow up a mountain. Curtis received the information as
coolly as it was delivered, and after I had made him ac- quainted with all the particulars
said, "Not a word of this must be mentioned to anyone else, Mr. Kazallon. Where is
Ruby, now?"
"On the poop," I said.
"Will you then come with me, sir?"
Ruby and Falsten were sitting just as I had left them. Curtis walked straight up to Ruby,
and asked him whether what he had been told was true.
"Yes, quite true," said Ruby, complacently, thinking that the worst that could befall him
would be that he might be convicted of a little smuggling.
I observed that Curtis was obliged for a moment or two to clasp his hands tightly together
behind his back to pre- vent himself from seizing the unfortunate passenger by the throat;
but suppressing his indignation, he proceeded quietly, though sternly, to interrogate him
about the facts of the case. Ruby only confirmed what I had already told him. With
characteristic Anglo-Saxon incautiousness he had brought on board, with the rest of his
baggage, a case con- taining no less than thirty pounds of picrate, and had allowed the
explosive matter to be stowed in the hold with as little compunction as a Frenchman
would feel in smuggling a single bottle of wine. He had not informed the captain of the
dangerous nature of the contents of the package, because he was perfectly aware that he
would have been refused per- mission to bring the package on board.
"Anyway," he said, with a shrug of his shoulders, "you can't hang me for it; and if the
package gives you so much concern, you are quite at liberty to throw it into the sea. My
luggage is insured."
I was beside myself with fury; and not being endowed with Curtis's reticence and self-
control, before he could in- terfere to stop me, I cried out:
"You fool! don't you know that there is fire on board?"
In an instant I regretted my words. Most earnestly I wished them unuttered. But it was too
late -- their effect upon Ruby was electrical. He was paralyzed with terror; his limbs
stiffened convulsively; his eye was dilated; he gasped for breath, and was speechless. All
of a sudden he threw up his arms, and, as though he momentarily expected an explosion,
 
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