The Castle of the Carpathians by Jules Verne


CHAPTER XVII.

IT will not have been forgotten that according to the conversation between the baron and Orfanik, the explosion should only have destroyed the castle after the departure of Rodolphe de Gortz. But at the time the explosion took place it was impossible for the baron to have had time to escape through the tunnel. In the transport of grief, in the folly of despair, unconscious of what he did, had then Rodolphe de Gortz brought on an immediate catastrophe of which he could but be the first victim? After the incomprehensible words which had escaped him when Rotzko’s bullet ha i broken the box he carried, had he intended to bury himself beneath the ruins of the castle?

In any case it was very fortunate that the police, surprised by Rotzko’s shot, were at a considerable distance when the explosion shook the ground. Only a few of them were struck by the fragments which fell over the plateau. Rotzko and the forester were alone at the base of the curtain, and it was indeed a miracle that they were not killed by the shower of stones.

The explosion had done its work when Rotzko, Nic Deck, and the police entered the enclosure over the ditch, which had been nearly filled up by the fall of the walls.

Fifty yards within the wall, at the base of the donjon, a body was found among the ruins.

It was that of Rodolphe de Gortz. A few old people of the district—among others Master Koltz—recognized him perfectly.

Rotzko and Nic Deck sought only to discover the young count. As Franz had not appeared in the time arranged with his man, it followed that he had been unable to escape from the castle.

But could Rotzko hope that he had survived, that he was not one of the victims of the catastrophe? And so he cried, and Nic Deck did not know what to do to soothe him.

However, in about half an hour the young count was found on the first floor of the donjon, beneath one of the buttresses, which had saved him from being crushed.

“My master—my poor master!”

“Count—”

Such were the first words uttered by Rotzko and Nic Deck as they bent over Franz. They believed him dead; he had only fainted.

Franz opened his eyes, but his wandering look did not seem to recognize Rotzko, nor did he hear him.

Nic Deck, who had raised the young count in his arms, spoke to him again, but he made no reply.

The last words of La Stilla’s song alone escaped from his lips,—

“Inamorata—voglio morire.”

Franz de Télek was mad!