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The abandoned Jellyfish - The Amphibian Man by Alexander Belyaev

Zurita was standing near the rail, opposite the foremast, when at a sign from the first mate he was attacked by several sailors at once. They were unarmed but there were many of them. However Zurita did not prove an easy prey. Two sailors clutchced him from the rear. He tore himself from the attackers, backed a few steps and threw himself, with all his might, against the rail.

With groans the sailors loosened their grip and slumped down on the deck. Zurita straightened up the moment the others tried to lay hands on him again and let out right and left with his fists. He never went about without his revolver but the attack had been so unexpected that he had had no time to draw it. Backing slowly he approached the foremast and then, with the agility of a monkey, he started climbing up it.

A sailor caught him by his foot but with the heel of his other foot Zurita struck him a blow on his head and the man rolled down on the deck, stunned. Zurita reached the top and settled there, swearing. For a time he felt himself safer. He pulled out his revolver and shouted:

“The first who makes for me will have light let through his head.” Below the sailors were noisily discussing their next move. “There’s guns in the captain’s cabin,” the first mate tried to outshout the rest. “Let’s go and force the door.” Several men made for the hatch.

Looks I’m done for, thought Zurita, they’ll pot me like a sitting duck. He threw a glance at the sea as though looking for help. And he could not believe his eyes when he saw a submarine approaching the Jellyfish at great speed, bouncing and nose-diving.

Zurita wished fervently she would not submerge. Then he saw people at the conning tower.

“Help! Murder! “ Zurita bawled at the top of h
is voice. They must have seen him on the submarine. Without reducing her speed she continued heading straight for the Jellyfish.

Armed sailors had poured out on deck and were now standing about, uncertain what to do. Surely they couldn’t kill Zurita within sight of the sub-naval by her looks too.

However, Zurita’s triumph was short-lived. On the submarine’s deck he spotted Baltasar and Cristo standing next to a tall man with an aggressive nose and the eyes of an eagle. The latter shouted;

“Pedro Zurita! You will immediately surrender Ichthyander whom you are keeping prisoner on board your schooner. I give you five minutes, after which time I’ll sink her.”

The traitors, Zurita thought as he stared, bitter hatred in hiseyes, at Cristoand Baltasar, the God-damned traitors. But come to it I’d rather lose Ichthyanderthan my own head.

“Ill bring him up directly,” Zurita shouted, climbing down the shrouds.

His attackers had decided their own safety was in danger. Some of them hastily lowered boats from the davits, others jumped overboard and swam for the shore. It was every man for himself.

Zurita ran down the companion ladder to his cabin, snatched the pouch with pearls out of his chest, thrust it inside his shirt and took along a belt and a bandana. The next moment he unlocked Gutierrez’s cabin, gathered her up into his arms and carried her out on deck.

“Ichthyander’s a bit unwell. He’s in the cabin,” Zurita said as he put her into a boat, lowered it on the water and sprang in himself.

The submarine could not give the boat chase for the water was too shallow for her. But Gutierrez had already recognized Baltasar on her deck.

“Father, save Ichthyander! He’s-” but she could not finish, for Zurita gagged her with the bandana and started, hurriedly, tying her arms with the belt.

“Take your hands off the woman! “ Salvator ordered.

“This woman’s my wife and nobody’s a right to come between us,” Zurita shouted back and pulled away.

“Nobody’s a right to treat a woman in that way,” shouted Salvator. “Shipyour oars or shoot.”But Zurita went on rowing hard. Salvator levelled his revolver. The bullet hit the boat above the water-line.

Zurita picked Gutierrez up as a shield.

“Go on! “ he shouted.

Gutierrez was struggling in his arms.

“A prize scoundrel, he is! “ Salvator said and put down his revolver.

Baltasar jumped into the water and swam towards the boat. But Zurita was already far ahead. Another pull and a wave carried the boat ashore. Zurita picked Gutierrez up and disappeared behind an outcropping of rocks.

Seeing he could not overtake Zurita, Baltasar headed for the schooner and pulled himself aboard by the anchor chain. The next moment he disappeared down below, in search of Ichthyander. After sometime he came into view again.

“Ichthyander isn’t on board”! Baltasar shouted to Salvator. “But he’s alive and must be somewhere near,” said Cristo. “That’s at least what Gutierrez had time to tell us before that brute gagged her. Otherwise we’d know now where to look for him.”

Scanning the ocean’s surface Cristo saw a ship’s mast tops just showing abovethe water. He thought that Ichthyander could be down in that wreck.

“Perhaps Zurita had sent Ichthyander to look for treasures on board thatwreck?” said Cristo.

Baltasar picked up a chain with a band at one end to show them. “Looks like Zurita was lowering Ichthyander into the water chained to this thing. Without it he would have swum away. No, he can’t be on that ship.” “No,” Salvator said pensively. “We’ve licked Zurita but it’s a barren victory.”

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