"Go on, John!"
"On the same line," resumed the young captain, "there is the syllable GLAS and if we add that to the GOW we found in the English paper, we get the whole word GLASGOW at once. The documents evidently refer to some ship that sailed out of the port of Glasgow." "That is my opinion, too," said the Major.
"The second line is completely effaced," continued the Captain; "but here are two important words on the third. There is ZWEI, which means TWO, and ATROSEN or MATROSEN, the German for SAILORS."
"Then I suppose it is about a captain and two sailors," said Lady Helena.
"It seems so," replied Lord Glenarvan.
"I must confess, your Lordship, that the next word puzzles me. I can make nothing of it. Perhaps the third document may throw some light on it. The last two words are plain enough. BRINGT IHNEN means BRING THEM; and, if you recollect, in the English paper we had SSISTANCE, so by putting the parts together, it reads thus, I think: 'BRING THEM ASSISTANCE.'"
"Yes, that must be it," replied Lord Glenarvan. "But where are the poor fellows? We have not the slightest indication of the place, meantime, nor of where the catastrophe happened."
"Perhaps the French copy will be more explicit," suggested Lady Helena.
"Here it is, then," said Lord Glenarvan, "and that is in a language we all know."
The words it contained were these:
troi ats tannia gonie austral abor contin pr cruel indi jete ongit et 37 degrees 11" LAT
"There are figures!" exclaimed Lady Helena. "Look!"
"Let us go steadily to work," said Lord Glenarvan, "and begin at the beginning. I think we can make out from the incomplete words in the first line that a three-mast vessel is in question, and there is little doubt about the name; we get that from the fragments of the other papers; it is the BRITANNIA. As to the next two words, GONIE and AUSTRAL, it is only AUSTRAL that has any meaning to us."
"But that is a valuable scrap of information," said John Mangles. "The shipwreck occurred in the southern hemisphere."
"That's a wide world," said the Major.
"Well, we'll go on," resumed Glenarvan. "Here is the word ABOR; that is clearly the root of the verb ABORDER. The poor men have landed somewhere; but where? CONTIN--does that mean continent? CRUEL!"
"CRUEL!" interrupted John Mangles. "I see now what GRAUS is part of in the second document. It is GRAUSAM, the word in German for CRUEL!"
"Let's go on," said Lord Glenarvan, becoming quite excited over his task, as the incomplete words began to fill up and develop their meaning. "INDI,--is it India where they have been shipwrecked? And what can this word ONGIT be part of? Ah! I see--it is LONGITUDE; and here is the latitude, 37 degrees 11". That is the precise indication at last, then!"
"But we haven't the longitude," objected McNabbs.
"But we can't get everything, my dear Major; and it is something at all events, to have the exact latitude. The French document is decidedly the most complete of the three; but it is plain enough that each is the literal translation of the other, for they all contain exactly the same number of lines. What we have to do now is to put together all the words we have found, and translate them into one language, and try to ascertain their most probable and logical sense."
"Well, what language shall we choose?" asked the Major.
"I think we had better keep to the French, since that was the most complete document of the three."
"Your Lordship is right," said John Mangles, "and besides, we're all familiar with the language."
"Very well, then, I'll set to work."
In a few minutes he had written as follows:
7 Juin 1862 trois-mats Britannia Glasgow sombre gonie austral a terre deux matelots capitaine Gr abor contin pr cruel indi jete ce document de longitude et 37 degrees 11" de latitude Portez-leur secours perdus.