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THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Pictures by N.C.WTYETH
cHARMIS SCRmINMES SONS
Zle MTYS TERIOUS
BY JULES VERNE
COPYRGHT, 1918, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Printed in the United States of America
Published October. 1918
PARcT I.--DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS .. 1
PaR1T II.-A~BANDONED ..... r
PaRT III.--THE SEcRET OF THE 8LAND 333
THE CASTAWAYs AWAIT THE LIFTING OF THE FOG ... 2
While the gtaze of the reporter and Neb were cast upon the
ocean, the sailor and Herbert looked eagerly for the coast in the
MAROONED .. 78
The island was displayed under their eyes, like a plan in relief
with different tints, green for the forests, yellow for the sand,
blue for the water
TOP IS SAVED FROM THE DUGONG ..... 118
Thrown in the air by some unknown power, he rose ten feet
above the surface of the lake
THIE DISCOVERY OF THE CHEST . ... 180
Pencroft was not mistaken. Two barrels were there, half buried
in the sand, but still fimly attached to a large chest
THE CAPTURE OF THE ORANG 14
Nevertheless, they threw themselves on the orang, who defended
himself gallantly, but was soon overpowered and bound
THE COURIER OF THE AmR 50
This little bag was fastened to the neck of the albatross ... ;
then liberty was given to this swift courier of the air
AaRToN's FIGHT WITH THE PIRATES........... 850
Ayrton was on deck in two bounds, and three seconds later,
having discharged his last barrel in the face of a pirate who was
about to seize him by the throat, he leaped over the bulwarks
into the sea
CAPTAIN IIARDING SLAYS A CONVICT 888
In a few seconds, before he had even time to fire his second
barrel, he fell, struck to the heart by Harding's dagger, more
sure even than his gun
THE LAST HOPE.. ............. 900
On this barren rock they had now existed for nine days
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
THE STORM OF 1865--VOICES IN THE AIR--A BALLOON CARRIED AWAY BY
A WHIRLWIND--FIVE PASSENGERS--WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CAR.
"ARE we rising again?" "No. On the contrary." "Are we descend-
ing?" "Worse than that, captain we are falling" "For Heaven's
sake heave out the ballast!" "There! the last sack is empty l" "Does
the balloon rise?" "No!" "I hear a noise like the dashing of waveal"
"The- sea is below the carl It cannot be more than 500 feet from usl"
"Overboard with every weight! everything l"
Such were the loud and startling words which resounded through
the air, above the vast watery desert of the Pacific, about four o'clock
in the evening of the 23rd of March, 1865.
Few can possibly have forgotten the terrible storm from the
northeast, in the middle of the equinox of that year. The tempest
raged without intermission from the 18th to the 26th of March. Its
ravages were terrible in America, Europe, and Asia, covering a dis-
tance of eighteen hundred miles, and extending obliquely to the
equator from the thirty-fifth north parallel to the fortieth south
parallel. Towns were overthrown, forests uprooted, coasts devastated
by the mountains of water which were precipitated on them, vessels
cast on the shore, which the published accounts numbered by hundreds,
whole districts leveled by waterspouts which destroyed everything
they passed over, several thousand people crushed on land or drowned
at sea; such were the traces of its fury, left by this devastating
tempest. It surpassed in disasters those which so frightfully ravaged
Havana and Guadalupe, one on the 25th of October, 1810, the other
on the 26th of July, 1825.
But while so many catastrophes were taking place on land and at
sea, a drama not less exciting was being enacted in the agitated air.
In fact, a balloon, as a ball might be carried on the summit of a
waterspout, had been taken into the circling movement of a column
of air and had traversed space at the rate of ninety miles an hour,
turning round and round as if seized by some aerial maiilstrom.
Beneath the lower point of the balloon, swung a car, containing
~five passengers, scarcely visible in the midst of the thick vapor mingled
with spray which hung over the surface of the ocean.
Whence, it may be asked, had come that plaything of the tempest?
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
From what part of the world did it rise? It surely could not have
started during the storm. But the storm has raged five days already,
and the first symptoms were manifested on the 18th. It cannot be
doubted that the balloon came from a great distance, for it could not
have traveled less than two thousand miles in twenty-four hours.
At any rate the passengers, destitute of all marks for their guid-
ance, could not have possessed the means of reckoning the route
traversed since their departure. It was a remarkable fact that,
although in the very midst of the furious tempest, they did not suffer
from it. They were thrown about and whirled round and round
without feeling the rotation in the slightest degree, or being sensible
that they were removed from a horizontal position.
Their; eyes could not pierce through the thick mist which had
gathered beneath the car. Dark vapor was all around them. Such
was the density of the atmosphere that they could not be certain
whether it was day or night. No reflection of light, no sound from
inhabited land, no roaring of the ocean could have reached them,
through the obscurity, while suspended in those elevated zones. Their
rapid descent alone had informed them of the dangers which they ran
from the waves. However, the balloon, lightened of heavy articles,
such as ammunition, arms, and provisions, had risen into the higher
layers of the atmosphere, to a height of 4~,500 feet. The voyagers,
after having discovered that the sea extended beneath them, and think-
ing the dangers above less dreadful than those below, did not hesitate
to throw overboard even their most useful articles, while they
endeavored to lose no more of that fluid, the life of their enterprise,
which sustained them above the abyss.
The night passed in the midst of alarms which would have been
death to less energetic souls. Again the day appeared and with it the
tempest began to moderate. From the beginning of that day, the
24!th of March, it showed symptoms of abating. At dawn, some of
the lighter clouds had risen into the more lofty regions of the air.
In a few hours the wind had changed from a hurricane to a fresh
breeze, that is to say, the rate of the transit of the atmospheric layers
was diminished by half. It was still what sailors call "a close-reefed
topsail breeze," but the commotion in the elements had not the less
Towards eleven o'clock, the lower region of the air was sensibly
clearer. The atmosphere threw off that chilly dampness which is felt
after the passage of a great meteor. The storm did not seem to have
gone farther to the west. It appeared to have exhausted itself.
Could it have passed away in electric sheets, as is sometimes the case
with regard to the typhoons of the Indian Ocean?
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
But at the same time, it was also evident that the balloon was again
slowly descending with a regular movement. It appeared as if it
were, little by little, collapsing, and that its case was lengthening
and extending, passing from a spherical to an oval form. Towards
midday the balloon was hovering above the sea at a height of only
2,000 feet. It contained 50,000 cubic feet of gas, and, thanks to its
capacity, it could maintain itself a long time in the air, although it
should reach a great altitude or might be thrown into a horizontal
Perceiving their danger, the passengers cast away the last articles
which still weighed down the car, the few provisions they had kept,
everything, even to their pocket-knives, and one of them, having
hoisted himself on to the circles which united the cords of the net,
tried to secure more ~firmly the lower point of the balloon.
It was, however, evident to the voyagers that the gas was failing,
and that the balloon could no longer be sustained in the higher
regions. They must infallibly perish!
There was not a continent, nor even an island, visible beneath
them. The watery expanse did not present a single speck of land,
not a solid surface upon which their anchor could hold.
It was the open sea, whose waves were still dashing with tremen-
dous violence! It was the ocean, without any visible limits, even for
those whose gaze, from their commanding position, extended over
a radius of forty miles. The vast liquid plain, lashed without mercy
by the storm, appeared as if covered with herds of furious chargers,
whose white and disheveled crests were streaming in the wind. No
land was in sight, not a solitary ship could be seen. It was necessary
at any cost to arrest their downward course, and to prevent the balloon
from being engulfed in the waves. The voyagers directed all their
energies to this urgent work. But, notwithstanding their efforts, the
balloon still fell, it was also suddenly overthrown, following the direc-
tion of the wind, that is to say, from the northeast to the southwest.
Frightful indeed was the situation of these unfortunate men.
They were evidently no longer masters of the machine. All their
attempts were useless. The case of the balloon collapsed more and
more. The gas escaped without any possibility of retaining it. Their
descent was visibly accelerated, and soon after mid-day the car hung
within 600 feet of the ocean.
It was impossible to prevent the escape of gas, which rushed
through a large rent in the silk. By lightening the car of all the
articles which it contained, the passengers had been able to prolong
their suspension in the air for a few hours. But the inevitable catas-
trophe could only be retarded, and if land did not appear before night,
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
voyagers, car, and balloon must to a certainty vanish beneath the
They now resorted to the only remaining expedient. They were
truly dauntless men, who knew how to look death in the face. Not
a single murmur escaped from their lips. They were determined to
struggle to the last minute, to do anything to retard their fall. The
car was only a sort of willow basket, unable to float, and there was
not the slightest possibility of maintaining it on the surface of the sea.
Two more hours passed and the balloon was scarcely 400 feet
above the water.
At that moment a loud voice, the voice of a man whose heart was
inaccessible to fear, was heard. To this voice responded others not
less determined. "Is everything thrown out?2" "No, here are still
2,000 dollars in gold." A heavy bag immediately plunged into the
sea. "Does the balloon rise?" "A little, but it will not be long before
it falls again." "What still remains to be thrown out?" "Nothing."
"Yes the car l" "Let us catch hold of the net, and into the sea with
This was, in fact, the last and only mode of lightening the balloon.
The ropes which held the car were cut, and the balloon, after its
fall, mounted 2,000 feet.
The ~five voyagers had hoisted themselves into the net, and clung
to the meshes, gazing at the abyss.
The delicate sensibility of balloons is well known. It is sufficient
to throw out the lightest article to produce a difference in its vertical
position. The apparatus in the air is like a balance of mathematical
precision. It can be thus easily understood that when it is lightened
of any considerable weight its movement will be impetuous and sud-
den. So it happened on this occasion. But after being suspended
for an instant aloft, the balloon began to redescend, the gas escaping
by the rent which it was impossible to repair.
The men had done all that men could do. No human efforts
could save them now. They must trust to the mercy of Him who
rules the elements.
At four o'clock the balloon was only 500 feet above the surface
of the water.
A loud barking was heard. A dog accompanied the voyagers,
and was held pressed close to his master in the meshes of the net.
"Top has seen something," cried one of the men. Then imme-
diately a loud voice shouted,--
"Land! land!" The balloon, which the wind still drove towards
the southwest, had since daybreak gone a considerable distance, which
might be reckoned by hundreds of miles, and a tolerably high land
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
had, in fact, appeared in that direction. But this land was still thirty
miles off. It would not take less than an hour to get to it, and then
there was the chance of falling to leeward.
An hour I Might not the balloon before that be emptied of all
the fluid it yet retained?
Such was the terrible question! The voyagers could distinctly see
that solid spot which they must reach at any cost. They were igno-
rant of what it was, whether an island or a continent, for they did
not know to what part of the world the hurricane had driven them.
But they must reach this land, whether inhabited or desolate, whether
hospitable or not.
It was evident that the balloon could no longer support itself I
Several times already had the crests of the enormous billows licked
the bottom of the net, making it still heavier, and the balloon only
half rose, like a bird with a wounded wing. Half an hour later the
land was not more than a mile off, but the balloon, exhausted, flabby,
hanging in great folds, had gas in its upper part alone. The voyagers,
clinging to the net, were still too heavy for it, and soon, half plunged
in the sea, they were beaten by the furious waves. The balloon-case
bulged out again, and the wind, taking it, drove it along like a vessel.
Might it not possibly thus reach the land?
But, when only two fathoms off, terrible cries resounded from four
pairs of lungs at once. The balloon, which had appeared as if it would
never again rise, suddenly made an unexpected bound, after having
been struck by a tremendous sea. As if it had been at that instant
relieved of a new part of its weight, it mounted to a height of 1,500
feet, and there it met a current of wind, which instead of taking it
directly to the coast, carried it in a nearly parallel direction.
At last, two minutes later, it reapproached obliquely, and finally
fell on a sandy beach, out of the reach of the waves.
The voyagers, aiding each other, managed to disengage themselves
from the meshes of the net. The balloon, relieved from their weight,
was taken by the wind, and like a wounded bird which revives for an
instant, disappeared into space.
But the car had contained five passengers, with a dog, and the
balloon only left four on the shore.
The missing person had evidently been swept off by the sea, which
had just struck the net, and it was owing to this circumstance that the
lightened balloon rose the last time, and then soon after reached the
land. Scarcely had the four castaways set foot on firm ground, than
they all, thiliking of the absent one, simultaneously exclaimed, "Per-
haps he will try to swim to land! Let us save him l let us save himl"
AN INCIDENT IN THE WAR OF SECESSION--THE ENGINEER CYRUS HARD-
ING-GIDEON SPILETT--THE NEGRO NEB-PENCROFT THE SAILOn--
THE NIGHT RENDEZVOUS-DEPARTURE IN THE STORM.
THOSE whom the hurricane had just thrown on this coast were neither
aeronauts by profession nor amateurs. They were prisoners of war
whose boldness had induced them to escape in this extraordinary
A hundred times they had almost perished! A hundred times had
they almost fallen from their torn balloon into the depths of the ocean.
But Heaven had reserved them for a strange destiny, and after hav-
ing, on the 20th of March, escaped from Richmond, besieged by the
troops of General Ulysses Grant, they found themselves seven thou-
sand miles from the capital of Virginia, which was the principal
stronghold of the South, during the terrible war of Secession. Their
aerial voyage had lasted five days.
The curious circumstances which led to the escape of the prisoners
were as follows:
That same year, in the month of February, 1865, in one of the
coups-de-main by which General Grant attempted, though in vain,
to possess himself of Richmond, several of his officers fell into the
power of the enemy and were detained in the town. One of the most
distinguished was Captain Cyrus Harding. He was a native of
Massachusetts, a first-class engineer, to whom the government had
confided, during the war, the direction of the railways, which were so
important at that time. A true Northerner, thin, bony, lean, about
forty-five years of age; his close-cut hair and his beard, of which he
only kept a thick mustache, were already getting gray. He had one
of those finely-developed heads which appear made to be struck on a
medal, piercing eyes, a serious mouth, the physiognomy of a clever
man of the military school. He was one of those engineers who
began by handling the hammer and pickax, like generals who fist
act as common soldiers. Besides mental power, he also possessed
great manual dexterity. His muscles exhibited remarkable proofs of
tenacity. A man of action as well as a man of thought, all he did
was without effort to one of his vigorous and sanguine temperament.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
Learned, clear-headed, and practical, he fulfilled in all emergencies
those three conditions which united ought to insure human success,--
activity of mind and body, impetuous wishes, and powerful will. He
might have taken for his motto that of Wiliam of Orange in the
17th century: "I can undertake and persevere even without hope of
success." Cyrus Harding was courage personified. He had been in
all the battles of that war. After having begun as a volunteer at
Illinois, under Ulysses Grant, he fought at Paducah, Belmont, Pitts-
burg Landing, at the siege of Corinth, Port Gibson, Black River,
Chattanooga, the Wilderness, on the Potomac, everywhere and val-
iantly, a soldier worthy of the general who said, "I never count my
dead!" And hundreds of times Captain Harding had almost been
among those who were not counted by the terrible Grant; but in these
combats where he never spared himself, fortune favored him till the
moment when he was wounded and taken prisoner on the field of
battle near Richmond. At the same time and on the same day another
important personage fell into the hands of the Southerners. This was
no other than Gideon Spilett, a reporter for the Newe Yorke Herald,
who had been ordered to follow the changes of the war in the midst of
the Northern armies.
Gideon Spilett was one of that race, of indomitable English or
American chroniclers, like Stanley and others, who stop at nothing
to obtain exact information, and transmit it to their journal in the
shortest possible time. The newspapers of the Union, such as the
Newe Yorke Herald, are formed of actual powers, and their reporters
are their representatives. Gideon Spilett ranked among the first of
those reporters: a man of great merit, energetic, prompt and ready
for anything, full of ideas, having traveled over the whole world,
soldier and artist, enthusiastic in council, resolute in action, caring
neither for trouble, fatigue, nor danger, when in pursuit of informa-
tion, for himself first, and then for his journal, a perfect treasury of
knowledge on all sorts of curious subjects, of the unpublished, of the
unknown, and of the impossible. He was one of those intrepid ob-
servers who write under fire, "reporting" among bullets, and to whom
every danger is welcome.
He also had been in all the battles, in the ~first rank, revolver in
one hand, note-book in the other; grape-shot never made his pencil
tremble. He did not fatigue the wires with incessant telegrams, like
those who speak when they have nothing to say, but each of his, notes,
short, decisive, and clear, threw light on some important point. Be-
sides, he was not wanting in humor. It was he who, after the affair
of the Black River, determined at any cost to keep his place at the
wicket of the telegraph office, and after having announced to his
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
journal the result of the battle, telegraphed for two hours the ~first
chapters of the Bible. It cost the Newe York Herald two thousand
dollars, but the Newe York Herald published the first intelligence.
Gideon Spilett was tall. He was rather more than forty years
of age. Light whiskers bordering on red surrounded his face. His
eye was steady, lively, rapid in its changes. It was the eye of a man
accustomed to take in at a glance all the details of a scene. Well
built, he was inured to all climates, like a bar of steel hardened in
For ten years Gideon Spilett had been the reporter of the Newe
York Herald, which he enriched by his letters and drawings, for he
was as skilful in the use of the pencil as of the pen. When he was
captured, he was in the act of making a description and sketch of
the battle. The last words in his note-book were these: "A Southern
rifleman has just taken aim at me, but-" The Southerner notwith-
standing missed Gideon Spilett, who, with his usual fortune, came
out of this affair without a scratch.
Cyrus Harding and Gideon Spilett, who did not know each other
except by reputation, had both been carried to Richmond. The engi-
neers' wounds rapidly healed, and it was during his convalescence that
he made acquaintance with the reporter. The two men then learned
to appreciate each other. Soon their common aim had but one object,
that of escaping, rejoining Grant's army, an~d fighting together in
the ranks of the Federals.
The two Americans had from the first determined to seize every
chance; but although they were allowed to wander at liberty in the
town, Richmond was so strictly guarded, that escape appeared
impossible. In the meanwhile Captain Harding was rejoined by a
servant who was devoted to him in life and in death. This intrepid
fellow was a negro born on the engineer's estate, of a slave father and
mother, but to whom Cyrus, who was an Abolitionist from conviction
and heart, had long since given his freedom. The once slave, though
free, would not leave his master. He would have died for him. He
was a man of about thirty, vigorous, active, clever, intelligent, gentle,
and calm, sometimes naive, always merry, obliging, and honest. His
name was Nebuchadnezzar, but he only answered to the familiar
abbreviation of Neb.
When Neb heard that his master had been made prisoner, he left
Massachusetts without hesitating an instant, arrived before Richmond,
and by dint of stratagem and shrewdness, after having risked his life
twenty times over, managed to penetrate into the besieged town.
The pleasure of Harding on seeing his servant, and the joy of Neb
at finding his master, can scarcely be described.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
But though Neb had been able to make his way into Richmond,
it was quite another thing to get out again, for the Northern prisoners
were very strictly watched. Some extraordinary opportunity was
needed to make the attempt with any chance of success, and this
opportunity not only did not present itself, but was very difficult to
Meanwhile Grant continued his energetic operations. The victory
of Petersburg had been very dearly bought. His forces, united to
those of Butler, had as yet been unsuccessful before Richmond, and
nothing gave the prisoners any hope of a speedy deliverance.
The reporter, to whom his tedious captivity did not offer a single
incident worthy of note, could stand it no longer. His usually active
mind was occupied with one sole thought--how he might get out of
Richmond at any cost. Several times had he even made the attempt,
but was stopped by some insurmountable obstacle. However, the
siege continued; and if the prisoners were anxious to escape and join
Grant's army, certain of the besieged were no less anxious to join
the Southern forces. Among them was one Jonathan Forster, a
determined Southerner. The truth was, that if the prisoners of the
Secessionists could not leave the town, neither could the Secessionists
themselves while the Northern army invested it. The Governor of
Richmond for a long time had been unable to communicate with
General Lee, and he very much wished to make known to him the
situation of the town, so as to hasten the march of the army to their
relief. This Jonathan Forster accordingly conceived the idea of rising
in a balloon, so as to pass over the besieging lines, and in that way
reach the Secessionist camp.
The Governor authorized the attempt. A balloon was manufac-
tured and placed at the disposal of Forster, who was to be accom-
panied by fCive other persons. They were furnished with arms in case
they might have to defend themselves when they alighted, and pro-
visions in the event of their aerial voyage being prolonged.
The departure of the balloon was fixed for the 18th of March.
It should be effected during the night, with a northwest wind of
moderate force, and the aeronauts calculated that they would reach
General Lee's camp in a few hours.
But this northwest wind was not a simple breeze. From the 18th
it was evident that it was changing to a hurricane. The tempest soon
became such that Forster's departure was deferred, for it was impos-
sible to risk the balloon and those whom it carried in the midst of the
The balloon, inflated on the great square of Richmond, was ready
to depart on the fist abatement of the wind, and, as may be supposed,
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
the impatience among the besieged to see the storm moderate was
The 18th, the 19th of March passed without any alteration in the
weather. There was even great difficulty in keeping the balloon fast-
ened to the ground, as the squalls dashed it furiously about.
The night of the 19th passed, but the next morning the storm
blew with redoubled force. The departure of the balloon was
On that day the engineer, Cyrus Harding, was accosted in one of
the streets of Richmond by a person whom he did not in the least
know. This was a sailor named Peneroft, a man of about thirty-five
or forty years of age, strongly built, very sunburnt, and possessed of
a pair of bright sparkling eyes and a remarkably good physiognomy.
Peneroft was an American from the North, who had sailed all the
ocean over, and who had gone through every possible and almost
impossible adventure that a being with two feet and no wings could
encounter. It is needless to say that he was a bold, dashing fellow,
ready to dare anything and was astonished at nothing. Pencroft at
the beginning of the year had gone to Richmond on business, with a
young boy of ~fifteen from New Jersey, son of a former captain, an
orphan, whom he loved as if he had been his own child. Not; having
been able to leave the town before the first operations of the siege,
he found himself shut up, to his great disgust; but, not accustomed
to succumb to difficulties, he resolved to escape by some means or
other. He knew the engineer-officer by reputation; he knew with
what impatience that determined man chafed under his restraint. On
this day he did not, therefore, hesitate to accost him, saying, without
circumlocution, "Have you had enough of Richmond, captain?"
The engineer looked fixedly at the man who spoke, and who added,
in a low voice,--
"Captain Harding, will you try to escape?"
"WVhen?" asked the engineer quickly, and it, was evident that this
question was uttered without consideration, for he had not yet
examined the stranger who addressed him. But after having with a
penetrating eye observed the open face of the sailor, he was convinced
that he had before him an honest man.
"Who are you?" he asked briefly.
Pencroft made himself known.
"Well," replied Harding, "and in what way do you propose to
"By that lazy balloon which is left there doing nothing, and which
looks to me as if it was waiting on purpose for us-"
There was no necessity for the sailor to finish his sentence. The
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
engineer understood him at once. He seized Pencroft by the arm,
and dragged him to his house. There the sailor developed his project,
which was indeed extremely simple. They risked nothing but their
lives in its execution. The hurricane was in all its violence, it is true,
but so clever and daring an engineer as Cyrus Harding knew per-
fectly well how to manage ai balloon. Had he himself been as well
acquainted with the art of sailing in the air as he was with the navi-
gation of a ship, Peneroft would not have hesitated to set out, of course
taking his young friend Herbert with him; for, accustomed to brave
the ~fiercest tempests of the ocean, he was not to be hindered on ac-
count of the hurricane.
Captain Harding had listened to the sailor without saying a word,
but his eyes shone with satisfaction. Here was the long-sought-for
opportunity--he. was not a man to let it pass. The plan was feasible,
though, it must be confessed, dangerous in the extreme. In the night,
in spite of their guards, they might approach the balloon, slip into
the car, and then cut the cords which held it. There was no doubt
that they might be killed, but on the other hand they might succeed,
and without this stormi-W~ithout this storm the balloon would have
started already and the looked-for opportunity would not have then
"I am not alone!" said Harding at last.
"How many people do you wish to bring with you?" asked the
"Two; my friend Spilett, and my servant Neb."
"That will be three," replied Pencroft; "and with Herbert and
me ~five. But the balloon wil hold six--"
"That will be enough, we wil go," answered Harding in a fim
This "we" included Spilett, for the reporter, as his friend well
knew, was not a man to draw back, and when the project was com-
municated to him he approved of it unreservedly. What astonished
him was, that so simple an idea had not occurred to him before. As
to Neb, he followed his master wherever his master wished to go.
"This evening, then," said Pencroft, "we will all meet out there."
"This evening, at ten o'clock," replied Captain Harding; "and
Heaven grant that the storm does not abate, before our departure."
Pencroft took leave of the two friends, and returned to his lodging,
where young Herbert Brown had remained. The courageous boy
knew of the sailor's plan, and it was not without anxiety that he
awaited the result of the proposal being made to the engineer. Thus
~five determined persons were about to abandon themselves to the
mercy of the tempestuous elementsI
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
No t the storm did not abate, and neither Jonathan Forster nor
his companions dreamed of confronting it in that frail car.
It would be a terrible journey. The engineer only feared one
thing, it was that the balloon, held to the ground and dashed about
by the wind, would be torn into shreds. For several hours he roamed
round the nearly-deserted square, surveying the apparatus. Pencroft
did the same on his side, his hands in his pockets, yawning now and
then like a man who did not know how to kill the time, but really
dreading, like his friend, either the escape or destruction of the bal-
loon. Evening arrived. The night was dark in the extreme. Thick
mists passed like clouds close to the ground. Rain fell mingled with
snow. It was very cold. A mist hung over Richmond. It seemed
as if the violentl storm had produced a truce between the besiegers
and the besieged, and that the cannon were silenced by the louder
detonations of the storm. The streets of the town were deserted. It
had not even appeared necessary in that horrible weather to place a
guard in the square, in the midst of which plunged the balloon.
Everything favored the departure of the prisoners, but what might
possibly be the termination of the hazardous voyage they contemplated
in the midst of the furious elements?-
"Dirty weather!" exclaimed Peneroft, fixing his hat firmly on his
head with a blow of his fist; "but pshaw, we shall succeed all the
At half-past nine, Harding and his companions glided from dif-
ferent directions into the square, which the gas-lamps, extinguished
by the wind, had left in total obscurity. Even the enormous balloon,
almost beaten to the ground, could not be seen. Independently of
the sacks of ballast, to which the cords of the net were fastened, the
car was held by a strong cable passed through a ring in the pavement.
The five prisoners met by the car. They had not been perceived, and
such was the darkness that they could not even see each other.
Without speaking a word, Harding, Spilett, Neb, and Herbert,
took their places in the car, while Pencroft by the engineer's order
detached successively the bags of ballast. It was the work of a few
minutes only, and the sailor rejoined his companions.
The balloon was then only held by the cable, and the engineer had
nothing to do but to give the word.
At that moment a dog sprang with a bound into the car. It was
Top, a favorite of the engineer. The faithful creature, having broken
his chain, had followed his master. He, however, fearing that its
additional weight might impede their ascent, wished to send away
"Oane more will make but little difference, poor beastly" exclaimed
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
Peneroft, heaving out two bags of sand, and as he spoke letting go
the cable; the balloon ascending in an oblique direction, disappeared,
after having dashed the car against two chimneys, which it threw down
as it swept by them.
Then, indeed, the full rage of the hurricane was exhibited to the
voyagers. During the night the engineer could not dream of de-
scending, and when day broke, even a glimpse of the earth below
was intercepted by fog.
Five days had passed when a partial clearing allowed them to
see the wide extending ocean beneath their feet, now lashed into the
maddest fury by the gale.
Our readers will recollect what befell these five daring individuals
who set out on their hazardous expedition in the balloon on the 20th
of March, Five days afterwards four of them were thrown on a
desert coast, seven thousand miles from their country! But one of
their number was missing, the man who was to be their guide, their
leading spirit, the engineer, Captain Harding! The instant they had
recovered their feet, they all hurried to the beach in the hopes of
rendering him assistance
1 On the 5th of April Richmond fell into the hands of Grant; the revolt of the Seces-
s8ionists was suppressed, Lee retreated to the West, and the cause of the Federals triumphed.
FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE EVENING--THE MISSING ONE--NEB'S DESPAIR--
SEARCH TOWARDS THE NORTH--THE ISLET--A DREADFUL NIGHT--A
FOG IN THE MORNING-NEB SWIMS-SIGHT OF LAND--FORDING THE
THE engineer, the meshes of the net having given way, had been car-
ried off by a wave. His dog also had disappeared. The faithful
animal had voluntarily leaped out to help his master. "Forward,"
cried the reporter; and all four, Spilett, Herbert, Pencroft, and Neb,
forgetting their fatigue, began their search. Poor Neb shed bitter
tears, giving way to despair at the thoughts of having lost the only
being he loved on earth.
Only two minutes had passed from the time when Cyrus Harding
disappeared to the moment when his companions set foot on the
ground. They had hopes therefore of arriving in time to save him.
"Let us look for him! let us look for him!" cried Neb.
"Yes, Neb," replied Gideon Spilett, "and we will find him too!"
"Living, I trust!"
"Can he swim?" asked Pencroft.
"Yes," replied Neb, "and besides, Top is there."
The sailor, observing the heavy surf on the shore, shook his head.
The engineer had disappeared to the north of the shore, and nearly
half a mile from the place where the castaways had landed. The
nearest point of the beach he could reach was thus fully that dis-
It was then nearly six o'clock. A thick fog made the night very
dark. The castaways proceeded towards the north of the land on
which chance had thrown them, an unknown region, the geographical
situation of which they could not even guess. They were walking
upon a sandy soil, mingled with stones, which appeared destitute of
any sort of vegetation. The ground, very unequal and rough, was in
some places perfectly riddled with holes, making walking extremely
painful. From these holes escaped every minute great birds of clumsy
flight, which flew in all directions. Others, more active, rose in flocks
and passed in clouds over their heads. The sailor thought he recogs
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
nized gulls and cormorants, whose shrill cries rose above the roaring
of the sea.
From time, to time the castaways stopped and shouted, then lis-
tened for some response from the ocean, for they thought that if the
engineer had landed, and they had been near to the place, they would
have heard the barking of the dog Top, even should Harding himself
have been unable to give any sign of existence. They stopped to
listen, but no sound arose above the roaring of the waves and the
dashing of the surf. The little band then continued their march for-
ward, searching into every hollow of the shore.
After walking for twenty minutes, the four castaways were sud-
denly brought to a standstill by the sight of foaming billows close
to their feet. The solid ground ended here. They found themselves
at the extremity of a sharp point on which the sea broke furiously.
"It is a promontory," said the sailor; "we must retrace our steps,
holding towards the right, and we shall thus gain the mainland."
"But if he is there," said Neb, pointing to the ocean, whose waves
shone of a snowy white in the darkness. "Well, let us call again," and
all uniting their voices, they gave a vigorous shout, but there came
no reply. They waited for a lull, then began again; still no reply.
The castaways accordingly returned, following the opposite side
of the promontory, over a soil equally sandy and rugged. However,
Pencroft observed that the shore was more equal, that the ground
rose, and he declared that it was joined by a long slope to a hill,
whose massive front he thought that he could see looming indistinctly
through the mist. The birds were less numerous on this part of the
shore; the sea was also less tumultuous, and they observed that the
agitation of the waves was diminished. The noise of the surf was
scarcely heard. This side of the promontory evidently formed a
semi-circular bay, which the sharp point sheltered from the breakers
of the open sea. But to follow this direction was to go south, exactly
opposite to that part of the coast where Harding might have landed.
After a walk of a mile and a half, the shore presented no curve which
would permit them to return to the north. This promontory, of
which they had turned the point, must be attached to the mainland.
The castaways, although their strength was nearly exhausted, still
marched courageously forward, hoping every moment to meet with
a sudden angle which would set them in the fist direction. What
was their disappointment, when, after trudging nearly two miles,
having reached an elevated point composed of slippery rocks, they
found themselves again stopped by the sea.
"We are on an islet," said Peneroft, "and we have surveyed it
from one extremity to the other."
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
The sailor was right; they had been thrown, not on a continent,
not even on an island, but on an islet which was not more than two
miles in length, with even a less breadth.
Was this barren spot the desolate refuge of sea-birds, strewn with
stones and destitute of vegetation, attached to a more important
archipelago? It was impossible to say. When the voy~agers from
their car saw the land through the mist, they had not been able to
reconnoiter it sufficiently. However, Pencroft, accustomed with his
sailor eyes to pierce through the gloom, was almost certain that he
could clearly distinguish in the west confused masses which indicated
an elevated coast. But they could not in the dark determine whether
it was a single island, or connected with others. They could not
leave it either, as the sea surrounded them; they must therefore put
off till the next day their search for the engineer, from whom, alas!
not a single cry had reached them to show that he was still in
"The silence of our friend proves nothing," said the reporter.
"Perhaps he has fainted or is wounded, and unable to reply directly,
so we will not despair."
The reporter then proposed to light a fie on a point of the islet,
which would serve as a signal to the engineer. But they searched
in vain for wood or dry brambles; nothing but sand and stones were
to be found. The grief of Neb and his companions, who were all
strongly attached to the intrepid Harding, can be better pictured than
described. It was too evident that they were powerless to help him.
They must wait with what patience they could for daylight. Either
the engineer had been able to save himself, and had already found a
refuge on some point of the coast, or he was lost for ever! The long
and painful hours passed by. The cold was intense. The castaways
suffered cruelly, but they scarcely perceived it. They did not even
think of taking a minute's rest. Forgetting everything but their
chief, hoping or wishing to hope on, they continued to walk up and
down on this sterile spot, always returning to its northern point,
where they could approach nearest to the scene of the catastrophe.
They listened, they called, and then uniting their voices, they en-
deavored to raise even a louder shout than before, which would be
transmitted to a great distance. The wind had now fallen almost to
a calm, and the noise of the sea began also to subside. One of Neb's
shouts even appeared to produce an echo. Herbert directed Pen-
croft's attention to it, adding, "That proves that there is a coast to the
west, at no great distance." The sailor nodded; besides, his eyes could
not deceive him. If he had discovered land, however indistinct it
might appear, land was sure to be there. But that distant echo was
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
the only response produced by Neb's shouts, while a heavy gloom
hung over all the part east of the island.
Meanwhile, the sky was clearing little by little. Towards mid-
night the stars shone out, and if the engineer had been there with his
companions he would have remarked that these stars did not belong
to the Northern hemisphere. The polar star was not visible, the con-
stellations were not those which they had been accustomed to see in
the United States; the Southern Cross glittered brightly in the sky.
The night passed away. Towards five o'clock in the morning of
the 25th of March, the sky began to lighten; the horizon still remained
dark, but with daybreak a thick mist rose from the sea, so that the
eye could scarcely penetrate beyond twenty feet or so from where
they stood. At length the fog gradually unrolled itself in great
heavily moving waves.
It was unfortunate, however, that the castaways could distinguish
nothing around them. While the gaze of the reporter and Neb were
cast upon the ocean, the sailor and Herbert looked eagerly for the
coast in the west. But not a speck of land was visible. "Never mind,"
said Pencroft, "though I do not see the land, I feel it ...it is
there ...there ...as sure as the fact that we are no
longer at Richmond." But the fog was not long in rising. It was
only a fine-weather mist. A hot sun soon penetrated to the surface
of the island. About half-past six, three-quarters of an hour after
sunrise, the mist became more transparent. It grew thicker above,
but cleared away below. Soon the isle appeared as if it had descended
from a cloud, then the sea showed itself around them, spreading far
away towards the east, but bounded on the west by an abrupt and
Yes the land was there. Their safety was at least provisionally
insured. The islet and the coast were separated by a channel about
half a mile in breadth, through which rushed an extremely rapid
However, one of the castaways, following the impulse of his heart,
immediately threw himself into the current, without consulting his
companions, without saying a single word. It was Neb. He was in
haste to be on the other side, and to climb towards the north. It had
been impossible to hold him back. Peneroft called him in vain. The
reporter prepared to follow him, but Pencroft stopped him. "Do
you want to cross the channel?" he asked. "Yes," replied Spilett.
"All right!" said the seaman; "wait a bit; Neb is well able to carry
help to his master. If we venture into the channel, we risk being
carried into the open sea by the current, which is running very strong;
but, if I'm not wrong, it is ebbing. See, the tide is going down over
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
the sand. Let us have patience, and at low water it is possible we
may find a fordable passage." "You are right," replied the reporter,
"we will not separate more than we can help."
During this time Neb was struggling vigorously against the cur-
rent. He was crossing in an oblique direction. His black shoulders
could be seen emerging at each stroke. He was carried down very
quickly, but he also made way towards the shore. It took more than
half an hour to cross from the islet to the land, and he reached the
shore several hundred feet from the place which was opposite to the
point from which he had started.
Landing at the foot of a high wall of granite, he shook himself
vigorously; and then, setting off running, soon disappeared behind a
rocky point, which projected to nearly the height of the northern
extremity of the islet.
Neb's companions had watched his daring attempt with painful
anxiety, and when he was out of sight, they ~fixed their attention on
the land where their hope of safety lay, while eating some shell-fish
with which the sand was strewn. It was a wretched repast, but still
it was better than nothing. The opposite coast formed one vast
bay, terminating on the south by a very sharp point, which was des-
titute of all vegetation, and was of a very wild aspect. This point
abutted on the shore in at grotesque outline of high granite rocks.
Towards the north, on the contrary, the bay widened, and a more
rounded coast appeared, trending from the southwest to the northeast,
and terminating in a slender cape. The distance between these two
extremities, which made the bow of the bay, was about eight miles.
Half a mile from the shore rose the islet, which somewhat resembled
the carcass of a gigantic whale. Its extreme breadth was not more
than a quarter of a mile.
Opposite the islet, the beach consisted first of sand, covered with
black stones, which were now appearing little by little above the
retreating tide. The second level was separated by a perpendicular
granite cliff, terminated at the top by an unequal edge at a height of
at least 300 feet. It continued thus for a length of three miles, ending
suddenly on the right with a precipice which looked as if cut by the
hand of man. On the left, above the promontory, this irregular and
jagged cliff descended by a long slope of conglomerate rocks till it
mingled with the ground of the southern point. On the upper plateau
of the coast not a tree appeared. It was a flat table-land like that
above Cape Town at the Cape of Good Hope, but of reduced pro-
portions; at least so it appeared seen from the islet. However, ver-
dure was not wanting to the right beyond the precipice. They could
easily distinguish a confused mass of great trees, which extended be-
5 .: .
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Copyright by Charles Beribner's Sons
Th~e calstawoays awoait th~e lifjting of the fog
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
yond the limits of their view. This verdure relieved the eye, so long
wearied by the continued ranges of granite. Lastly, beyond and
above the plateau, in a northwesterly direction and at a distance of
at least seven miles, glittered a white summit which reflected the sun's
rays. It was that of a lofty mountain, capped with snow.
The question could not at present be decided whether this land
formed an island, or whether it belonged to a continent. But on be-
holding the convulsed masses heaped up on the left, no geologist
would have hesitated to give them a volcanic origin, for they were
unquestionably the work of subterranean convulsions.
Gideon Spilett, Peneroft, and Herbert attentively examined this
land, on which they might perhaps have to live many long years; on
which indeed they might even die, should it be out of the usual track
of vessels, as was too likely to be the case.
"Well," asked Herbert, "what do you say, Peneroft?"
"There is some good and some bad, as in everything," replied the
sailor. "We shall see. But now the ebb is evidently making. In
three hours we will attempt the passage, and once on the other side
we will try to get out of this scrape, and I hope may find the captain."
Peneroft was not wrong in his anticipations. Three hours later at
low tide, the greater part of the sand forming the bed of the channel
was uncovered. Between the islet and the coast there only remained
a narrow channel which would no doubt be easy to cross.
About ten o'clock, Gideon Spilett and his companions stripped
themselves of their clothes, which they placed in bundles on their heads,
and then ventured into the water, which was not more than five feet
deep. Herbert, for whom it was too deep, swam like a fish, and got
through capitally. All three arrived without difficulty on the opposite
shore. Quickly drying themselves in the sun, they put on their clothes,
which they had preserved from contact with the water, and sat down
to take counsel together what to do next.
LITHODOMES THE RIVER'S MOUTH THE CHIMNEYS CONTINUED RE-
SEARCHES-THE FOREST OF EVERGREENS--WAITING FOR THE EBB-
ON THE HEIGHTS--THE RAFT--RETURN TO THE SHORE.
ALL at once the reporter sprang up, and telling the sailor that he
would rejoin them at that same place, he climbed the cliff in the dire~c-
tion which the negro Neb had taken a few hours before. Anxiety
hastened his steps, for he longed to obtain news of his friend, and he
soon disappeared round an angle of the cliff. H~erbert wished to
"Stop here, my boy," said the sailor; "we have to prepare an
encampment, and to try and find rather better grub than these, shell-
fish. Our friends will want something when they come back. There
is work for everybody."
"I am ready," replied Herbert.
"All right," said the sailor; "that will do. We must set about it
regularly. We are tired, cold, and hungry; therefore we must have
shelter, fire, and food. There is wood in the forest, and eggs in nests;
we have only to find a house."
"LVery well," returned Herbert, "I wil look for a cave among the
rocks, and I shall be sure to discover some hole into which we can
"(All right," said Pencroft; "go on, my boy."
They both walked to the foot of the enormous wall over the beach,
far from which the tide had now retreated; but instead of going
towards the north, they went southward. Pencroft had remarked,
several hundred feet from the place at which they landed, a narrow
cutting, out of which he thought a river or stream might issue. Now,
on the one hand it was important to settle themselves in the neighbor-
hood of a good stream of water, and on the other it was possible that
the current had thrown Cyrus Harding on the shore there.
The cliff, as has been said, rose to a height of three hundred feet,
but the mass was unbroken throughout, and even at its base, scarcely
washed by the sea, it did not offer the smallest fissure which would
serve as a dwelling. It was a perpendicular wall of very hard granite,
which even the waves had not worn away. Towards the summit flut-
tered myriads of sea-fowl, and especially those of the web-footed
species with long, flat, pointed beaks--a clamorous tribe, bold in the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
presence of man, who probably for the first time thus invaded their
domains. Peneroft recognized the skua and other gulls among them,
the voracious little sea-mew, which in great numbers nestled in the
crevices of the granite. A shot ~fired among this swarm would have.
killed a great number, but to fire a shot a gun was needed, and neither
Peneroft nor Herbert had one; besides this, gulls and sea-mews are
scarcely eatable, and even their eggs have a detestable taste. How-
ever, Herbert who had gone forward a little more to the left, soon
came upon rocks covered with sea-weed, which, some hours later,
would be hidden by the high tide. On these rocks, in the midst of
slippery wrack, abounded bivalve shell-fish, not to be despised by
starving people. Herbert called Peneroft, who ran up hastily.
"Why! here are mussels!" cried the sailor; "these will do instead
"They are not mussels," replied HFerbert, who was attentively
examining the molluscs attached to the rocks; "they are lithodomes."
"Are they good to eat?" asked Peneroft.
"Then let us eat some lithodomes.")
The sailor could rely upon Herbert; the young boy was well. up
in natural history, and always had had quite a passion for the science.
His father had encouraged him in it, by letting him attend the lee-
tures of the best professors in Boston, who were very fond of the
intelligent, industrious lad. And this turn for natural history was,
more than once in the course of time, of great use, and he was not
mistaken in this instance. These lithodomes were oblong shells, sus-
pended in clusters and adhering very tightly to the rocks. They
belong to that species of molluscous perforators which excavate holes
in the hardest stones; their shell is rounded at both ends, a feature
which is not remarked in the common mussel.
Pencroft and Herbert made a good meal of the lithodomes, which
were then half opened to the sun. They ate them as oysters, and
as they had a strong peppery taste, they were palatable without con-
diments of any sort.
Their hunger was thus appeased for the, time, but not their thirst,
which increased after eating these naturally-spiced molluscs. They
had then to find fresh water, and it was not likely that it would be
wanting in such a capriciously uneven region. Pencroft and Herbert,
after having taken the precaution of collecting an ample supply of
lithodomes, with which they filed their pockets and handkerchiefs,
regained the foot of the cliff.
Two hundred paces farther they arrived at the cutting, through
which, as Pencroft had guessed, ran a stream of water, whether fresh
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
or not was to be ascertained. At this place the wall appeared to
have been separated by some violent subterranean force. At its base
was hollowed out a little creek, the farthest part of which formed a
tolerably sharp angle. The watercourse at that part measured one
hundred feet in breadth, and its two banks on each side were scarcely
twenty feet high. The river became strong almost directly between
the two walls of granite, which began to sink above the mouth; it then
suddenly turned and disappeared beneath a wood of stunted trees half
a mile off.
"Here is the water, and yonder is the wood we require!" said
Peneroft. "Well, Herbert, now we only want the house."
The water of the river was limpid. The sailor ascertained- that
at this time--that is to say, at low tide, when the rising floods did not
reach it--it was sweet. This important point established, Herbert
looked for some cavity which would serve them as a retreat, but in
vain; everywhere the wall appeared smooth, plain, and perpendicular.
However, at the mouth of the watercourse and above the reach
of the high tide, the convulsions of nature had formed, not a grotto,
but a pile of enormous rocks, such as are often met with in granite
countries and which bear the name of "Chimneys."
Pencroft and Herbert penetrated quite far in among the rocks, by
sandy passages in which light was not wanting, for it entered through
the openings which were left between the blocks, of which some were
only sustained by a miracle of equilibrium; but with the light came
also air--a regular corridor-gale--and with the wind the sharp cold
from the exterior. However, the sailor thought that by stopping-up
some of the. openings with a mixture of stones and sand, the Chimneys
could be rendered habitable. Their geometrical plan represented the
typographic sign "&," which signifies "et cetera" abridged, but by iso-
lating the upper mouth of the sign, through which the south and west
winds blew so strongly, they could succeed in making the lower part
"Here's our work," said Peneroft, "and if we ever see Captain
Harding again, he will know how to make something of this laby-
"We shaUl see him again, Pencroft," cried Herbert, "and when he
returns he must ~find a tolerable dwelling here. It will be so, if we
can make a fieplace in the left passage and keep an opening for the
"So we can, my boy," replied the sailor, "and these Chimneys
will serve our turn. Let us set to work, but first come and get a store:
of fuel. I think some branches will be very useful in stopping upL
these openings, through which the wind shrieks like so many fiends.'"
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
Herbert and Peneroft left the Chimneys, and, turning the angle,
they began to climb the left bank of the river. The current here was
quite rapid, and drifted down some dead wood. The rising tide--
and it could already be perceived--must drive it back with force to.
a considerable distance. The sailor then thought that they could
utilize this ebb and flow for the transport of heavy objects.
After having walked for a quarter of an hour, the sailor and the
boy arrived at the angle which the river made in turning towards the
left. From this point its course was pursued through a forest of
magnificent trees. These trees still retained their verdure, notwith-
standing the' advanced season, for they belonged to the family of
coniferse," which is spread over all the regions of the globe, from
northern climates to the tropics. The young naturalist recognized
especially the "deodara," which are very numerous in the Himalayan
zone, and which spread around them a most agreeable, odor. Between
these beautiful trees sprang up clusters of firs, whose opaque open
parasol boughs spread wide around. Among the long grass, Peneroft
felt that his feet were crushing dry branches which crackled like fie-
"W~ell, my boy," said he to Herbert, "if I don't know the name of
these trees, at any rate I reckon that we may call them 'burning wood,'
and just now that's the chief thing we want."
"Let us get a supply," replied H~erbert, who immediately set to
The collection was easily made. It was not even necessary to lop
the trees, for enormous quantities of dead wood were lying at their
feet; but if fuel was not wanting, the means of transporting it was
not yet found. The wood, being very dry, would burn rapidly; it was
therefore necessary to carry to the Chimneys a considerable quantity,
and the loads of two men would not be sufficient. Herbert remarked
"WeUl, my boy," replied the sailor, "there must be some way of
carrying this wood; there is always a way of doing everything. If
we had a cart or a boat, it would be easy enough."
"But we have the river," said Herbert.
"Right," replied Peneroft; "the river will be to us like a road
which carries of itself, and rafts have not been invented for nothing."
"Only," observed Herbert, "at this moment our road is going the
wrong way, for the tide is rising"
"We shall be all right if we wait til it ebbs," replied the sailor,
"and then we will trust it to carry our fuel to the Chimneys. Let us
get the raft ready."
The sailor, followed by Herbert, directed his steps towards the
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
river. They both carried, each in proportion to his strength, a load
of wood bound in faggots. They found on the bank also a great
quantity of dead branches in the midst of grass, among which the
foot of man had probably never before trod. Peneroft began directly
to make his raft. In a kind of little bay, created by a point of the
shore which broke the current, the sailor and the lad placed some
good-sized pieces of wood, which they had fastened together with
dry creepers. A raft was thus formed, on which they stacked all they
had collected, sufficient, indeed, to have loaded at least twenty men.
In an hour the work was finished, and the raft moored to the bank,
awaited the turning of the tide.
There were still several hours to be occupied, and with one consent
Peneroft and Herbert resolved to gain the upper plateau, so as to
have a more extended view of the surrounding country.
Exactly two hundred feet behind the angle formed by the river,
the wall, terminated by a fall of rocks, died away in a gentle slope
to the edge of the forest. It was a natural staircase. Herbert and
the sailor began their ascent; thanks to the vigor of their muscles
they reached the summit in a few minutes, and proceeded to the point
above the mouth of the river.
On attaining it, their first look was cast upon the ocean which
not long before they had traversed in such a terrible condition. They
observed, with emotion, all that part to the north of the coast on
which the catastrophe had taken place. It was there that Cyrus
Harding had disappeared. They looked to see if some portion of
their balloon, to which a man might possibly cling, yet existed. Noth-
ing! The sea was but one vast watery desert. As to the coast, it
was solitary also. Neither the reporter nor Neb could be anywhere
seen. But it was possible that at this time they were both too far
away to be perceived.
"Something tells me," cried Herbert, "that a man as energetic
as Captain Harding would not let himself be drowned like other
people. He must have reached some point of the shore; don't you
think so, Peneroft?"
The sailor shook his head sadly. He little expected ever to see
Cyrus Harding again; but wishing to leave some hope to Herbert:
"Doubtless, doubtless," said he; "our engineer is a man who would
get out of a scrape to which any one else would yield."
In the meantime he examined the coast with great attention.
Stretched out below them was the sandy shore, bounded on the right
of the river's mouth by lines of breakers. The rocks which were
visible appeared like amphibious monsters reposing in the surf. Be-
yond the reef, the sea sparkled beneath the sun's rays. To the south
DROPPED FROM THIE CLOUDS
a sharp point closed the horizon, and it could not be seen if the land
was prolonged in that direction, or if it ran southeast and southwest,
which would have made this coast a very long peninsula. At the
northern extremity of the bay the outline of the shore was continued
to a great distance in a wider curve. There the shore was low, flat,
without cliffs, and with great banks of sand, which the tide left
uncovered. Pencroft and Herbert then returned towards the west.
Their attention was ~first arrested by the snow-topped mountain which
rose at a distance of six or seven miles. From its first declivities to
within two miles of the coast were spread vast masses of wood, re-
lieved by large green patches, caused by the presence of evergreen
trees. Then, from the edge of this forest to the shore extended a plain,
scattered irregularly with groups of trees. Here and there on the
left sparkled through glades the waters of the little river; they could
trace its winding course back towards the spurs of the mountain,
among which it seemed to spring. At the point where the sailor had
left his raft of wood, it began to run between the two high granite
walls; but if on the left bank the wall remained clear and abrupt, on
the right bank, on the contrary, it sank gradually, the massive sides
changed to isolated rocks, the rocks to stones, the stones to shingle
running to the extremity of the point.
"Are we on an island?" murmured the sailor.
"At any rate, it seems to be big enough," replied the lad.
"An island, ever so big, is an island all the same!" said Peneroft.
But this important question could not yet be answered. A more
perfect survey will be required to settle the point. As to the land
itself, island or continent, it appeared fertile, agreeable in its aspect,
and varied in its productions.
"This is satisfactory," observed Pencroft;- "and in our misfortune,
we must thank Providence, for it."
"G~od be praised!" responded Herbert, whose pious heart was
full of gratitude to the Author of all things.
Pencroft and Herbert examined for some time the country on
which they had been cast; but it was difficult to guess after so hasty
an inspection what the future had in store for them.
They then returned, following the. southern crest of the granite
platform, bordered by a long fringe of jagged rocks, of the most whim-
sical shapes. Some hundreds of birds lived there nestled in the holes
of the stone; Herbert, jumping over the rocks, startled a whole flock
of these winged creatures.
"Oh!" cried he, "those are not gulls nor sea-mews!"
"What are they then?" asked Peneroft.
"Upon my word, one would say they were pigeons!"
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND[
"Just so, but these are wild or rock pigeons. I recognize them
by the double band of black on the wing, by the white tail, and by
their slate-colored plumage. But if the rock-pigeon is good to eat,
its eggs must be excellent, and we will soon see how many they may
have left in their nests"
"We will not give. them time to hatch, unless it is in the shape
of an omelet!" replied Peneroft merrily.
"But what will you make your omelet in?" asked Herbert; "in
"Well!" replied the sailor, "I am not quite conjuror enough for
that; we must come down to eggs in the shell, my boy, and I will
undertake to despatch the hardest!"
Pencroft and Herbert attentively examined the cavities in the
granite, and they really found eggs in some of the hollows. A few
dozen being collected, were packed in the sailor's handkerchief, and
as the time when the tide would be full was approaching, Peneroft
and Herbert began to redescend towards the watercourse. When
they arrived there, it was an hour after midday. The tide had already
turned. They must now avail themselves of the ebb to take the wood
to the mout~h. Pencroft did not intend to let the raft go away in
the current without guidance, neither did he mean to embark on it
himself to steer it. But a sailor is never at a loss when there is a
question of cables or ropes, and Pencroft rapidly twisted a cord, a
few fathoms long, made of dry creepers. This vegetable cable was
fastened to the after-part of the raft, and the sailor held it in his
hand while Herbert, pushing off the raft with a long pole, kept it
in the current. This succeeded capitally. The enormous load of
wood drifted down with the current. The bank was very equal; there
was no fear that the raft would run aground, and before two o'clock
they arrived at the river's mouth, a few paces from the Chimneys.
ARRANGING THE CHIMNEYS--HOW TO PROCURE FIRE--A BOX OF MATCHES
-SEARCH ON THE SHOR~ERETURN OF THE REPORTER AND NEB--A
SINGLE MATCH--A ROARING FIRE--THE FIRST SUPPER, AND NIGHT
PENCR1Or's ~first care, after unloading the raft, was to render the
cave habitable by stopping up all the holes which made it draughty.
Sand, stones, twisted branches, wet clay, closed up the galleries open
to the south winds. One narrow and winding opening at the side
was kept, to lead out the smoke and to make the fire draw. The cave
was thus divided into three or four rooms, if such dark dens with
which a donkey would scarcely have been contented deserved the
name. But they were dry, and there was space to stand upright, at
least in the principal room, which occupied the center. The floor
was covered with fine sand, and taking all in all they were well
pleased with it for want of a better.
"Perhaps," said Herbert, while he and Pencroft were working,
"our companions have found a superior place to ours."
"Very likely," replied the seaman; "but, as we don't know, we
must work all the same. Better to have two strings to one's bow than
no string at alll"
"Oh!" exclaimed Herbert, "how jolly it wil be if they were to
find Captain Harding and were to bring him back with theml"
"Yes, indeed l" said Peneroft, "that was a man of the right sort."
"Was!" exclaimed Herbert, "do you despair of ever seeing him
"God forbid!" replied the sailor. Their work was soon done, and
Pencroft declared himself very well satisfied.
"Now," said he, "our friends can come back when they like. They
will find a good enough shelter."
They now had only to inake a fireplace and to prepare the supper
-an easy task. Large flat stones were placed on the ground at the
opening of the narrow passage which had been kept. This, if the
smoke did not take the heat out with it, would be enough to maintain
an equal temperature inside. Their wood was stowed away in one
of the rooms, and the sailor laid in the fireplace some logs and brush-
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
wood. The seaman was busy with this, when Herbert asked him if
he had any matches.
"Certainly," replied Peneroft, "and I may say happily, for with-
out matches or tinder we should be in a ~fix."
"Still we might get fire as the savages do," replied Herbert, "by
rubbing two bits of dry stick one against the other."
"All right; try, my boy, and let's see if you can do anything be-
sides exercising your arms."
"Well, it's a very simple proceeding, and much used in the islands
of the Pacific."
"I don't deny it," replied Pencroft, "but the savages must know
how to do it or employ a peculiar wood, for more than once I have
tried to get fire in that way, but I could never manage it. I must say
I prefer matches. By the bye, where are my matches?"
Pencroft searched in his waistcoat for the box, which was always
there, for he was a confirmed smoker. He could not find it; he rum-
maged the pockets of his trousers, but, to his horror, he could nowhere
discover the box.
"Here's a go!" said he, looking at Herbert. "The box must have
fallen out of my pocket and got lost! Surely, Herbert, you must
have something--a tinder-box--anything that can possibly make fire!"
"No, I haven't, Peneroft."
The sailor rushed out, followed by the boy. On the sand, among
the rocks, near the river's bank, they both searched carefully, but in
vain. The box was of copper, and therefore would have been easily
"Pencroft," asked Herbert, "didn't you throw it out of the car?"
"I knew better than that," replied the sailor; "but such a small
article could easily disappear in the tumbling about we have gone
through. I would rather even have lost my pipe! Confound the box!
Where can it be?"
"Look here, the tide is going down," said Herbert; "let's run to
the place where we landed."
It was scarcely probable that they would find the box, which the
waves had rolled about among the pebbles, at high tide, but it was as
well to try. Herbert and Pencroft walked rapidly to the point where
they had landed the day before, about two hundred feet from the
cave. They hunted there, among the shingle, in the. clefts of the rocks,
but found nothing. If the box: had fallen at this place it must have
been swept away by the waves. As the sea went down, they searched
every little crevice with no result. It was a grave loss in their cir-
cumstances, and for the time irreparable. Peneroft could not hide his
vexation; he looked very anxious, but said not a word. Herbert
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
tried to console him by observing, that if they had found the matches,
they would, very likely, have been wetted by the sea and useless.
"No, my boy," replied the sailor; "they were in a copper box
which shut very tightly; and now what are we to do?"
"We shall certainly find some way of making a fire," said Herbert.
"Captain Harding or Mr. Spilett will not be without them."
"Yes," replied Peneroft; "but in the meantime we are without
fire, and our companions will ~find but a sorry repast on their return."
"But," said Herbert quickly, "do you think it possible that they
have no tinder or matches?"
"I doubt it," replied the sailor, shaking his head, "for neither
Neb nor Captain IHarding smoke, and I believe that Mr. Spilett
would rather keep his note-book than his match-box."
Herbert did not reply. The loss of the box was certainly to be
regretted, but the boy was still sure of procuring fire in some way or
other. Pencroft, more experienced, did not think so, although he was
not a man to trouble himself about a small or great grievance. At
any rate, there. was only one thing to be done--to await the return
of Neb and the reporter; but they must give up the feast of hard
eggs which they had meant to prepare, and a meal of raw flesh was not
an agreeable prospect either for themselves or for the others.
Before returning to the cave, the sailor and Herbert, in the event
of fire being positively unattainable, collected some more shell-fish,
and then silently retraced their steps to their dwelling.
Peneroft, his eyes ~fixed on the ground, stil looked for his box.
He even climbed up the left bank of the river from its mouth to the
angle where the raft had been moored. He returned to the plateau,
went over it in every direction, searched among the high grass on
the border of the forest, all in vain.
It was ~five in the evening when he and Herbert re-entered the
cave. It is useless to say that the darkest corners .0f the passages
were ransacked before they were obliged to give it up in despair.
Towards six o'clock, when the sun was disappearing behind the high
lands of the west, Herbert, who was walking up and down on the
strand, signalized the return of Neb and Spilett.
They were returning alone! The boy's heart sank; the
sailor had not been deceived in hi's forebodings; the engineer, Cyrus
Harding, had not been found!
The reporter, on his arrival, sat down on a rock, without saying
anything. Exhausted with fatigue, dying of hunger, he had not
strength to utter a word.
As to Neb, his red eyes showed how he had cried, and the tears
which he could not restrain told too clearly that he had lost all hope.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
The reporter recounted all that they had done in their attempt
to recover Cyrus Harding. He and Neb had surveyed the coast
for a distance of eight miles, and consequently much beyond the place
where the balloon had fallen the last time but one, a fall which was
followed by the disappearance of the engineer and the dog Top. The
shore was solitary; not a vestige of a mark. Not even a pebble recently
displaced; not a trace on the sand; not a human footstep on all that
part of the beach. It was clear that that portion of the shore had
never been visited by a human being. The sea was as deserted as
the land, and it was there, a few hundred feet from the coast, that
the engineer must have found a tomb.
As Spilett ended his account, Neb jumped up, exclaiming in a
voice which showed how hope struggled within him, "No! he is not
dead! he can't be dead I It might happen to any one else, but never
to himl He could get out of anything" Then his strength for-
saking him, "Oh! I can do no more!" he murmured.
"Neb," said Herbert, running to him, "we wil find him! God
will give him back to us! But in the meantime you are hungry, and
you must eat something."
So saying, he offered the poor negro a few handfuls of shell-fish,
which was indeed wretched and insufficient food. Neb had not eaten
anything for several hours, but he refused them. He could not,
would not live without his master.
As to Gideon Spilett, he devoured the shell-fish, then he laid him-
self down on the sand, at the foot of a rock. He was very weak, but
calm. Herbert went up to him, and taking his hand, "Sir," said he,
"we have found a shelter which will be better than lying here. Night
is advancing. Come and rest! To-morrow we will search farther."
The reporter got up, and guided by the boy went towards the
cave. On the way, Pencroft asked him in the most natural tone,
if by chance he happened to have a match or two.
The reporter stopped, felt in his pockets, but finding nothing
said, "I had some, but I must have thrown them away."
The seaman then put the same question to Neb and received the
"Confound it!" exclaimed the sailor.
The reporter heard him and seizing his arm, "Have you no
matches?" he asked.
"Not one, and no fire, in consequence?"
"Ah!" cried Neb, "if my master was here, he would know what
The four castaways remained motionless, looking uneasily at each
other. Herbert was the fist to break the silence by saying, "Mr.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
Spilett, you are. a smoker and always have matches about you;
perhaps you haven't looked well, try again, a single match will be
The reporter hunted again in the pockets of his trousers, waist-
coat, and great-coat, and at last to Pencroft's great joy, not less to
his extreme surprise, he felt a tiny piece of wood entangled in the
lining of his waistcoat. He seized it with his fingers through the stuff,
but he could not get it out. If this was a match and a single one,
it was of great importance not to rub off the phosphorus.
"Will you let me try?" said the boy, and very cleverly, without
breaking it, he managed to draw out the wretched yet precious little
bit of wood which was of such great importance to these poor men.
It was unused.
"Hurrah!" cried Peneroft; "it is as good as having a whole cargtil"
He took the match, and, followed by his companions, entered the cave.
This small piece of wood, of which so many in an inhabited country
are wasted with indifference and are of no value, must here be used
with the greatest caution.
The sailor first made sure that it was quite dry; that done, "W7e
must have some paper," said he.
"Here," replied Spilett, after some hesitation tearing a leaf out of
Pencroft took the piece of paper which the reporter held out to
him, and knelt down before the fireplace.' Some handfuls of grass,
leaves, and dry moss were placed under the fagots and disposed in
such a way that the air could easily circulate, and the dry wood would
rapidly catch ~fire.
Pencroft then twisted the piece of paper into the shape of a cone,
as smokers do in a high wind, and poked it in among the moss. Taking
a small, rough stone, he wiped it carefully, and with a beating heart,
holding his breath, he gently rubbed the match. The fist attempt
did not produce any effect. Pencroft had not struck hard enough,
fearing to rub off the phosphorus.
"No, I can't do it," said he, "my hand trembles, the match has
missed ~fire; I cannot, I will not!" and rising, he told Herbert to
take his place.
Certainly the boy had never in all his life been so nervous. Pro-
metheus going to steal the fire from heaven could not have been more
anxious. 'He did not hesitate, however, but struck the match directly.
A little spluttering was heard and a tiny blue flame sprang up,
making a choking smoke. Herbert quietly turned the match so as
to augment the flame, and then slipped it into the paper cone, which
in a few seconds too caught fire, and then the moss.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
A minute later the dry wood crackled and a cheerful flame,
assisted by the vigorous blowing of the sailor, sprang up in the midst
of the darkness.
"At last" cried Pencroft, getting up; "I was never so nervous
before in all my life l"
The ~flat stones made a capital fireplace. The smoke went quite
easily out at the narrow passage, the chimney drew, and an agreeable
warmth was not long in being felt.
They must now take great care not to let the fire go out, and
always to keep some embers alight. It only needed care and atten-
tion, as they had plenty of wood and could renew their store at any
Pencroft's ~first thought was to use the ~fire by preparing a more
nourishing supper than a dish of shell-fish. Two dozen eggs were
brought by Herbert. The reporter leaning up in a corner, watched
these preparations without saying anything. A threefold thought
weighed on his mind. Was Cyrus still alive? If he was alive, where
was he? If he had survived from his fall, how was it that he had
not found some means of making known his existence? As to
Neb, he was roaming about the shore. He was like a body without
Pencroft knew fifty ways of cooking eggs, but this time he had no
choice, and was obliged to content himself with roasting them under the
hot cinders. In a few minutes the cooking was done, and the, seaman
invited the reporter to take his share of the supper. Such was the first
repast of the castaways on this unknown coast. The hard eggs were
excellent, and as eggs contain everything indispensable to man's nour-
ishment, these poor people thought themselves well off, and were much
strengthened by them. Oh! if only one of them had not been missing
at this meal! If the five prisoners who escaped from Richmond had
been all there, under the piled-up rocks, before this clear, crackling
fire on the dry sand, what thanksgivings must they have rendered to
Heaven! But the most ingenious, the most learned, he who was
their unquestioned chief, Cyrus Harding, was, alasl missing, and his
body had not even obtained a burial-place.
Thus passed the 25th of March. Night had come on. Outside
could be heard the howling of the wind and the monotonous sound
of the surf breaking on the shore. The waves rolled the shingle back-
wards and forwards with a deafening noise.
The reporter retired into a dark corner after having shortly noted
down the occurrences of the day; the fist appearance of this new
land, the loss of their leader, the exploration of the coast, the incident
of the matches, etc.; and then overcome by fatigue, he managed to
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS 85
forget his sorrow in sleep. Herbert went to sleep directly. As to
the sailor, he passed the night with one eye on the ~fire, on which he
did not spare fuel. But one of the castaways did not sleep in the
cave. The inconsolable, despairing Neb, notwithstanding all that his
companions could say to induce him to take some rest, wandered all
night long on the shore, calling on his master.
THE INVENTORY OF THE CASTAWAYS -NOTHING- BURNT LINEN--AN
EXPEDITION TO THE FOREST--FLIGHT OF THE JACAMAR--TRACES OF
DEER-COUROUCOUS-GROUSE-A CURIOUS FISHING-LINE.
THE inventory of the articles possessed by these castaways from the
clouds, thrown upon a coast which appeared to be uninhabited, was
soon made out. They had nothing, save the clothes which they were
wearing at the time of the catastrophe. We must mention, however,
a note-book and a watch which Gideon Spilett had kept, doubtless
by inadvertence, not a weapon, not a tool, not even a pocket-knife;
for while in the car they had thrown out everything to lighten the
balloon. The imaginary heroes of Daniel De Foe or of Wyss, as
well as Selkirk and Raynal shipwrecked on Juan Fernandez and on
the archipelago of the Aucklands, were never in such absolute desti-
tution. Either, they had abundant resources from their stranded
vessels, in grain, cattle, tools, ammunition, or else some things were
thrown up on the coast which supplied them with all the first necessi-
ties of life. But. here, not any instrument whatever, not a utensil.
From nothing they must supply themselves with everything.
And yet, if Cyrus Harding had been with them, if the engineer
could have brought his practical science, his inventive mind to bear
on their situation, perhaps all hope would not have been lost. Alas!
they must hope no longer again to see Cyrus Harding. The cast-
aways could expect nothing but from themselves and from that
Providence which never abandons those whose faith is sincere.
But ought they to establish themselves on this part of the coast,
without trying to know to what continent it belonged, if it was
inhabited, or if they were on the shore of a desert island?
It was an important question, and should be solved with the short-
est possible delay. From its answer they would know what measures
to take. However, according to Pencroft's advice, it appeared best
to wait a few days before commencing an exploration. They must,
in fact, prepare some provisions and procure more strengthening
food than eggs and molluscs. The explorers, before undertaking
new fatigues, must fist of all recruit their strength.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
The Chimneys offered a retreat suffcient for the present. The
fire was lighted, and it was easy to preserve some embers. There.
were plenty of shell-fish and eggs among the rocks and on the beach.
It would be easy to kill a few of the pigeons which were flying by
hundreds about the summit of the plateau, either with sticks or stones.
Perhaps the trees of the neighboring forest would supply them with
eatable fruit. Lastly, the sweet water was there.
It was accordingly settled that for a few days they would remain
at the Chimneys so as to prepare themselves for an expedition, either
along the shore. or into the interior of the country. This plan suited
Neb particularly. As obstinate in his ideas as in his presentiments,
he was in no haste to abandon this part of the coast, the scene of the
catastrophe. He did not, he would not believe in the loss of Cyrus
Harding. No, it did not seem to him possible that such a man had
ended in this vulgar fashion, carried away by a wave, drowned in the
floods, a few hundred feet from a shore. As long as the. waves had
not cast up the body of the engineer, as long as he, Neb, had not seen
with his eyes, touched with his hands the corpse of his master, he
would not believe in his death! And this idea rooted itself deeper
than ever in his determined heart. An illusion perhaps, but still an
illusion to be respected, and one which the sailor did not wish to
destroy. As for him, he hoped no longer, but there was no use in
arguing with Neb. He was like the dog who wil not leave the place
where his master is buried, and his grief was such that most probably
he would not survive him.
This same morning, the 26th of March, at daybreak, Neb had
set out on the shore in a northerly direction, and he had returned to
the spot where the sea, no doubt, had closed over the unfortunate
That day's breakfast was composed solely of pigeon's eggs and
lithodomes. Herbert had found some salt deposited by evaporation
in the hollows of the rocks, and this mineral was very welcome.
The repast ended, Peneroft asked the reporter if he wished to
accompany Herbert and himself to the forest, where they were going
to try to hunt. But on consideration, it was thought necessary that
some one should remain to keep in the ~fire, and to be at hand in the
highly improbable event of Neb requiring aid. The reporter accord-
ingly remained behind.
"To the chase, Herbert," said the sailor. "We shall ~find ammuni-
tion on our way, and cut our weapons in the forest." But at the
moment of starting, Herbert observed, that since they had no tinder,
it would perhaps be prudent to replace it by another substance.
"What?" asked Peneroft.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
"Burnt linen," replied the boy. "That could in case of need serve
The sailor thought it very sensible advice. Only it had the incon-
venience of necessitating the sacrifice of a piece of handkerchief. Not-
withstanding, the thing was well worth while trying, and a part of
Pencroft's large checked handkerchief was soon reduced to the state
of a half-burnt rag. This inflammable material was placed in the
central chamber at the bottom of a little cavity in the rock, sheltered
from all wind and damp.
It was nine o'clock in the morning. The weather was threatening
and the breeze blew from the southeast. Herbert and Pencroft
turned the angle of the Chimneys, not without having cast a look
at the smoke which, just at that place, curled round a point of rock:
they ascended the left bank of the river.
Arrived at the forest, Peneroft broke from the ~first tree two stout
branches which he transformed into clubs, the ends of which H~erbert
rubbed smooth on a rock. Oh! what would they not have given for
The two hunters now advanced among the long grass, following
the bank. From the turning which directed its course to the south-
west, the river narrowed gradually and the channel lay between high
banks, over which the trees formed a double arch. Peneroft, lest
they should lose themselves, resolved to follow the course of the stream,
which would always lead them back to the point from which they
started. But the bank was not without some obstacles: here, the
flexible branches of the trees bent level with the current; there, creepers
and thorns which they had to break down with their sticks. Herbert
often glided among the broken stumps with the agility of a young
cat, and disappeared in the, underwood. But Peneroft called him
back directly, begging him not to wander away. Meanwhile, the
sailor attentively observed the disposition and nature of the surround-
ing country. On the left bank, the ground, which was flat and marshy,
rose imperceptibly towards the interior. It looked there like a net-
work of liquid threads which doubtless reached the river by some
underground drain. Sometimes a stream ran through the under-
wood, which they crossed without difficulty. The opposite shore ap-
peared to be more uneven, and the valley of which the river occupied
the bottom was more clearly visible. The hill, covered with trees
disposed in terraces, intercepted the view. On the right bank walking
would have been difficult, for the declivities fell suddenly, and the
trees bending over the water were only sustained by the strength of
It is needless to add that this forest, as well as the coast already
DROPPED FROM TH-E CLOUDS
surveyed, was destitute of any sign of human life. Peneroft only
saw traces of quadrupeds, fresh footprints of animals, of which he
could not recognize the species. In all probability, and such was
also Herbert's opinion, some had been left by formidable wild beasts
which doubtless would give them some trouble; but nowhere did they
observe the mark of an axe on the trees, nor the ashes of a fire, nor
the impression of a human foot. On this they might probably con-
gratulate themselves, for on any land in the middle of the Pacific
the presence of man was perhaps more to be feared than desired.
Herbert and Peneroft speaking little, for the difficulties of the way
were great, advanced very slowly, and after walking for an hour
they had scarcely gone more than a mile. As yet the hunt had not
been successful. However, some birds sang and fluttered in the
foliage, and appeared very timid, as if man had inspired them with
an instinctive fear. Among others, Herbert described, in a marshy
part of the forest, a bird with a long pointed beak, closely resembling
the king-fisher, but its plumage. was not fine, though of a metallic
"That must be a jacamar," said Herbert, trying to get nearer.
"This will be a good opportunity to taste jacamar," replied the
sailor, "if that fellow is in a humor to be roasted!"
Just then, a stone cleverly thrown by the boy, struck the creature
on the wing, but the blow did not disable it, and the jacamar ran off
and disappeared in an instant.
"How clumsy I am!" cried Herbert.
"No, no, my boyl" replied the sailor. "The blow was well aimed;
many a one would have, missed it altogether! Come, don't be vexed
with yourself. We shall catch it another day!"
As the hunters advanced, the trees were found to be more scat-
tered, many being magnificent, but none bore eatable fruit. Peneroft
searched in vain for some of those precious palm-trees which are
employed in so many ways in domestic life, and which have been
found as far as the fortieth parallel in the northern hemisphere, and
to the thirty-fifth only in the southern hemisphere. But this forest
was only composed of coniferae, such as deodaras, already recognized
by Herbert, the Douglas pine, similar to those which grow on the
northwest coast of America, and splendid firs, measuring a hundred
and fifty feet in height.
At this moment a flock of birds, of a small size and pretty plumage,
with long glancing tails, dispersed themselves among the branches
strewing their feathers, which covered the ground as with fine down.
Herbert picked up a few of these feathers, and after having examined
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
"These are couroucous," said he.
"I should prefer a moor-cock or guinea-fowl," replied Peneroft,
"stil, if they are good to eat-"
"They are good to eat, and also their flesh is very delicate," replied
Herbert. "Besides, if I don't mistake, it is easy to approach and
kill them with a stick."
The sailor and the lad, creeping among the grass, arrived at the
foot of a tree, whose lower branches were covered with little birds.
The couroucous were waiting the passage of insects which served
for their nourishment. Their feathery feet could be seen clasping
the slender twigs which supported them.
The hunters then rose, and using their sticks like scythes, they
mowed down whole rows of these couroucous, who never thought of
flying away, and stupidly allowed themselves to be knocked off. A
hundred were already heaped on the ground, before the others made
up their minds to fly.
"Well," said Pencroft, "here is game, which is quite within the
reach of hunters like us. We have only to put out our hands and
The sailor having strung the couroucous like larks on flexible twigs,
they then continued their exploration. The stream here made a bend
towards the south, but this detour was probably not prolonged, for
the river must have its source in the mountain, and be supplied by
the melting of the snow which covered the sides of the central cone.
The particular object of their expedition was, as has been said,
to procure the greatest possible quantity of game for the inhabitants
of the Chimneys. It must be acknowledged that as yet this object
had not been attained. So the sailor actively pursued his researches,
though he exclaimed, when some animal which he had not even time
to recognize fled into the long grass, "If only we. had had the dog
Top!i" But Top had disappeared at the same time as his master,
and had probably perished with him.
Towards three o'clock new flocks of birds were seen through cer-
tain trees, at whose aromatic berries they were pecking, those of the
juniper-tree among others. Suddenly a loud trumpet caUl resounded
through the forest. This strange and sonorous call was produced
by the ruffed grouse or the "titra," of the United States. They soon
saw several couples, whose plumage was rich chestnut-brown mottled
with dark brown, and tail of the same color. Herbert recognized the
males by the two wing-like appendages raised on the neck. Peneroft
determined to get hold of at least one of these gallinaceae, which were
as large as a fowl, and whose flesh is better than that of a pullet. But
it was difficult, for they would not allow themselves to be approached.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
After several fruitless attempts, which resulted in nothing but scaring
the t~tras, the sailor said to the lad,--
"Decidedly, since we can't kill them on the wing, we must try
to take them with a line."
"Like a fishl" cried Herbert, much surprised at the proposal.
"Like a fish," replied the sailor quite seriously. Pencroft had
found among the grass half a dozen t~tras' nests, each having three
or four eggs. He took great care not to touch these nests, to which
their proprietors would not fail to return. It was around these that
he meant to stretch his lines, not snares, but real fishing-lines. He
took Herbert to some distance from the nests, and there prepared his
singular apparatus with all the care which a disciple of Izaak Walton
would have used. Herbert watched the work with great interest,
though rather doubting its success. The lines were made of ~fine
creepers, fastened one to the other, of the length of fifteen or twenty
feet, Thick, strong thorns, the points bent back (which were supplied
from a dwarf acacia bush, were fastened to the ends of the creepers,
by way of hooks. Large red worms, which were crawling on the
ground, furnished bait.
This done, Pencroft, passing among the grass and concealing
himself skilfully, placed the end of his lines armed with hooks near
the titras' nests; then he returned, took the other ends and hid with
Herbert behind a large tree. There they both waited patiently;
though, it must be said, that Herbert did nlot reckon much on the
success of the inventive Pencroft.
A whole half-hour passed, but then, as the sailor had surmised,
several couple of titras returned to their nests. They walked along,
pecking the ground, and not suspecting in any way the presence of
the hunters, who, besides, had taken care to place themselves to lee-
ward of the gallinacese.
The lad felt at this moment highly interested. He held his breath,
and Pencroft, his eyes staring, his mouth open, his lips advanced,
as if about to taste a piece of titra, scarcely breathed.
Meanwhile, the birds walked about among the hooks, without
taking any notice of them. Peneroft then gave little tugs which
moved the bait as if the worms had been still alive.
The sailor undoubtedly felt much greater anxiety than does the
fisherman, for he does not see his prey coming through the water.
The jerks attracted the attention of the gallinacesE, and they attacked
the hooks with their beaks. Three voracious t~tras swallowed at the
same moment bait and hook. Suddenly with a smart jerk, Pencroft
"struck" his line, and a flapping of wings showed that the birds were
42 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
"Hurrah!" he cried, rushing towards the game, of which he made
himself master in an instant.
Herbert clapped his hands. It was the first time that he had
ever seen birds taken with a line, but the sailor modestly confessed
that it was not his first attempt, and that besides he could not claim
the merit of invention.
"And at any rate," added he, "situated as we are, we must hope
to hit upon many other contrivances."
The t~tras were fastened by their claws, and Pencroft, delighted
at not having to appear before their companions with empty hands,
and observing that the day had begun to decline, judged it best to
return to their dwelling.
The direction was indicated by the river, whose course they had
only to follow, and, towards six o'clock, tired enough with their
excursion, Herbert and Pencroft arrived at the Chimneys.
NEB HAS NOT YET RETURNED--THE REPORTER'S REFLECTIONS-SUPPER
-A THREATENING NIGHT--THE TEMPEST IS FRIGHTFUL-THEY RUSH
OUT INTO THE NIGHT-STRUGGLE AGAINST THE WIND AND RAIN--
EIGHT MILES PROM THE FIRST ENCAMPMENT.
GIDIEON SPIL;ETr was standing motionless on the shore, his arms
crossed, gazing over the sea, the horizon of which was lost towards the
east in a thick black cloud which was spreading rapidly towards the
zenith. The wind was already strong, and increased with the decline
of day. The whole sky was of a threatening aspect, and the first
symptoms of a violent storm were clearly visible.
Herbert entered the Chimneys, and Pencroft went towards the
reporter. The latter, deeply absorbed, did not see him approach.
"We are going to have a dirty night, Mr. Spilettl" said the sailor:
"Petrels delight in wind and rain."
The reporter, turning at the moment, saw Pencroft, and his first
"At what distance from the coast would you say the car was,
when the waves carried off our companion?"
The sailor had not expected this question. He reflected an instant
"Two cables' lengths at the most."
"But what is a cable's length?" asked Gideon Spilett.
"About a hundred and twenty fathoms, or six hundred feet."
"Then," said the reporter, "Cyrus Harding must have disappeared
twelve hundred feet at the most from the shore?"
"About that," replied Peneroft.
"And his dog also?"
"W7hat astonishes me," rejoined the reporter, "while admitting
that our companion has perished, is that Top has also met his death,
and that neither the body of the dog nor of his master has been cast
on the shore!"
"It is not astonishing, with such a heavy sea," replied the sailor.
"Besides, it is possible that currents have carried them farther down
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
"Then, it is your opinion that our friend has perished in the
waves?" again asked the reporter.
"That is my opinion."
"My own opinion," said Gideon Spilett, "with due deference to
your experience, Pencroft, is that in the double fact of the absolute
disappearance of Cyrus and Top, living or dead, there is something
unaccountable and unlikely."
"I wish I could think like you, Mr. Spilett," replied Peneroft;
"unhappily, my mind is made up on this point." Having said this,
the sailor returned to the Chimneys. A good fire crackled on the
hearth. Herbert had just thrown on an armful of dry wood, and
the flame cast a bright light into the darkest parts of the passage.
Peneroft immediately began to prepare the dinner. It appeared
best to introduce something solid into the bill of fare, for all needed
to get up their strength. The strings of couroucous were kept for
the next day, but they plucked a couple of t~tras, which were soon
spitted on a stick, and roasting before a blazing fire.
At seven in the evening Neb had not returned. The prolonged
absence, of the negro made Pencroft very uneasy. It was to be
feared that he had met with an accident on this unknown land, or
that the unhappy fellow had been driven to some act of despair. But
Herbert drew very different conclusions from this absence. Accord-
ing to him, Nleb's delay was caused by some new circumstances which
had induced him to prolong his search. Also, everything new must
be to the advantage of Cyrus Harding. Why had Neb not returned
unless hope still detained him? Perhaps he had found some mark,
a footstep, a trace which had put him in the right path. ;Perhaps he
was at this moment on a certain track. Perhaps even he was near
Thus the la~d reasoned. Thus he spoke. His companions let him
talk. The reporter alone approved with a gesture. But what Pencroft
thought most probable was, that Neb had pushed his researches on
the shore farther than the day before, and that he had not as yet
had time to return.
Herbert, however, agitated by vague presentiments, several times
manifested an intention to go to meet Neb. But Pencroft assured
him that that would be a useless course, that in the darkness and
deplorable weather he could not find any traces of Neb, and that
it would be much better to wait. If Neb had not made his appearance
by the next day, Peneroft would not hesitate to join him in his search.
Gideon Spilett approved of the sailor's opinion that it was best
not to divide, and Herbert was obliged to give up his project; but
two large tears fell from his eyes.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
The reporter could not refrain from embracing the generous
Bad weather now set in. A furious gale from the southeast
passed over the coast. The sea roared as it beat over the reef. Heavy
rain was dashed by the storm into particles like dust. Ragged masses
of vapor drove along the beach, on which the tormented shingles
sounded as if poured out in cart-10ads, while the sand raised by the
wind added as it were. mineral dust to that which was liquid, and
rendered the united attack insupportable. Between the river's mouth
and the end of the cliff, eddies of wind whirled and gusts from this
maiilstrom lashed the water which ran through the narrow valley.
The smoke from the fireplace was also driven back through the open-
ing, filling the passages and rendering them uninhabitable.
Therefore, as the t~tras were cooked, Peneroft let the fire die
away, and only preserved a few embers buried under the ashes.
At eight o'clock Neb had not appeared, but there was no doubt
that the frightful weather alone hindered his return, and that he
must have taken refuge in some cave, to await the end of the storm
or at least the return of day. As to going to meet him, or attempt-
ing to find him, it was impossible.
The game constituted the only dish at supper; the meat was
excellent, and Pencroft and Herbert, whose long excursion had ren-
dered them very hungry, devoured .it with infnite satisfaction.
Their meal concluded, each retired to the corner in which he had
rested the preceding night, and Herbert was not long in going to
sleep near the sailor, who had stretched himself beside the fireplace.
Outside, as the night advanced, the tempest also increased in
strength, until it was equal to that which had carried the prisoners
from Richmond to this land in the Pacific. The tempests which are
frequent during the seasons of the equinox, and which are so prolific
in catastrophes, are above all terrible over this immense ocean, which
opposes no obstacle to their fury. No description can give an idea
of the terrific violence of the gale as it beat upon the unprotected
Happily the pile of rocks which formed the Chimneys was solid.
It was composed of enormous blocks of granite, a few of which,
insecurely balanced, seemed to tremble on their foundations, and
Pencroft could feel rapid quiverings under his head as it rested on
the rock. But he repeated to himself, and rightly, that there was
nothing to fear, and that their retreat would not give way. However
he heard the noise of stones torn from the summit of the plateau by
the wind, falling down on to the beach. A few even rolled on to
the upper part of the Chimneys, or flew off in fragments when they
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
were projected perpendicularly. Twice the sailor rose and intrenched
himself at the opening of the passage, so as to take a look in safety
at the outside. But there was nothing to be feared from these showers,
which were not considerable, and he returned to his couch before the
~fireplace, where the embers glowed beneath the ashes.
Notwithstanding the fury of the hurricane, the uproar of the
tempest, the thunder, and the tumult, Herbert slept profoundly.
Sleep at last took possession of Peneroft, whom a seafaring life
had habituated to anything. Gideon Spilett alone was kept awake
by anxiety. He reproached himself with not having accompanied
Neb. It was evident that he had not abandoned all hope. The pre-
sentiments which had troubled Herbert did not cease to agitate him
also. His thoughts were concentrated on Neb. W~hy had Neb not
returned? He tossed about on his sandy couch, scarcely giving a
thought to the struggle of the elements. Now and then, his eyes,
heavy with fatigue, closed for an instant, but some sudden thought
reopened them almost immediately.
Meanwhile the night advanced, and it was perhaps two hours
from morning, when Pencroft, then sound asleep, was vigorously
"What's the matter ?" he cried, rousing himself, and collecting
his ideas with the promptitude usual to seamen.
The reporter was leaning over him, and saying,--
"Listen, Peneroft, listen!"
The sailor strained his hears, but could hear no noise beyond those
caused by the storm.
"It is the wind," said he.
"No," replied Gideon *Spilett, .listening again, "I thought I
"The barking of a dogl"
"A dogl" cried Peneroft, springing up.
"It's not possible l" replied the sailor. "And besides, how, in
the roaring of the storm-"
"Stop--listen--" said the reporter.
Peneroft listened more attentively, and really thought he heard,
during a lull, distant barking.
"Well!" said the reporter, pressing the sailor's hand.
"Yes--yes l" replied Pencroft.
"It is Topl It is Top l" cried Herbert, who had just awoke;
and all three rushed towards the opening of the Chimneys. They
had great difficulty in getting out. The wind drove them back. But
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
at last they succeeded, and could only remain standing by leaning
against the rocks. They looked about, but could not speak. The
darkness was intense. The sea, the sky, the land were all mingled
in one black mass. Not a speck of light was visible.
The reporter and his companions remained thus for a few minutes,
overwhelmed by the wind, drenched by the rain, blinded by the sand.
Then, in a pause of the tumult, they again heard the barking,
which they found must be at some distance.
It could only be' Topl But was he alone or accompanied? He
was most probably alone, for, if Neb had been with him, he would
have made his way more directly towards the Chimneys. The sailor
squeezed the .reporter's hand, for he could not make himself heard,
in a way which signified "Wait!" then he re-entered the passage.
An instant after he issued with a lighted fagot, which he threw
into the darkness, whistling shrilly.
It appeared as if this signal had been waited for; the barking
immediately came nearer, and soon a dog bounded into the passage.
Pencroft, Herbert, and Spilett, entered after him.
An armful of dry wood was thrown on the embers. The passage
was lighted up with a bright flame.
"It is Topl" cried Herbert.
It was indeed Top, a magnificent Anglo-Norman, who derived
from these two races crossed the swiftness of foot and the acuteness
of -smell which are the pre-eminent qualities of coursing dogs. It
was the dog of the engineer, Cyrus Harding. But he was alone I
Neither Neb nor his master accompanied him!
How was it that' his instinct had guided him straight to the
Chimneys, which he 'did not know? It appeared inexplicable, above
all, in the midst of this black night and in such a tempest! But what
was stil more inexplicable was, that Top was neither tired, nor
exhausted, nor even soiled with mud or sand!--Herbert had drawn
him towards hitn~, and was patting his head, the dog rubbing his neck
against the lad's. h~ands.
"If the dog' is found, the master will be found alsol" said the
"God grant it l" responded Herbert. "Let us set off I Top will
Pencroft did not make any objection. He felt that Top's arrival
contradicted his conjectures. "Come along then!" said he.
Peneroft carefully covered the embers on the hearth. He placed
a few pieces of wood among them, so as to keep in the fire until
their return. Then, preceded by the dog, who seemed to invite them
by short barks to come with him, and followed by the reporter and
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND~
the boy, he dashed out, after having put up in his handkerchief the
remains of the supper.
The storm was then in all its violence, and perhaps at its height.
Not a single ray of light from the moon pierced through the clouds.
To follow a straight course was difficult. It was best to rely on
Top's instinct. They did so. The reporter and Herbert walked be-
hind the dog, and the sailor brought up the rear. It was impossible
to exchange a word. The rain was not very heavy, but the wind was
However, one circumstance favored the seaman and his two com-
panions. The wind being southeast, consequently blew on their
backs. The clouds of sand, which otherwise would have been insup-
portable, from being received behind, did not in consequence impede
their progress. In short, they sometimes went faster than they liked,
and had some difficulty in keeping their feet; but hope gave them
strength, for it was not at random that they made their way along
the shore. They had no doubt that Neb had found his master, and
that he had sent them the faithful dog. But was the engineer living,
or had Neb only sent for his companions that they might render the
last duties to the corpse of the unfortunate Harding?
After having passed the precipice, Herbert, the reporter, and
Pencroft prudently stepped aside to stop and take breath. The turn
of the rocks sheltered them from the wind, and they could breathe
after this walk or rather run of a quarter of an hour.
They could now hear and reply to each other, and the lad having
pronounced the name of Cyrus Harding, Top gave a few short barks,
as much as to say that his master was saved.
"Saved, isn't he?" repeated Herbert; "saved, Top?"
And the dog barked in reply.
They once more set out. The tide began to rise, and urged by
the wind it threatened to be unusually high, as it was a spring tide.
Great billows thundered against the reef with such violence that they
probably passed entirely over the islet, then quite invisible. The
mole no longer 'protected the coast, which was directly exposed to
the attacks of the open sea.
As soon as the sailor and his companions left the. precipice, the
wind struck them again with renewed fury. Though bent under the
gale they walked very quickly, following Top, who did not hesitate
as to what direction to take.
They ascended towards the north, having on their left an~inter-
minable extent of billows, which broke with a deafening noise, and
on their right a dark country, the aspect of which it was impossible
to guess. But they felt that it was comparatively flat, for the wind
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
passed completely over them, without being driven back as it was
when it came in contact with the cliff.
At four o'clock in the morning, they reckoned that they had
cleared about ~five miles. The clouds were slightly raised, and the
wind, though less damp, was very sharp and cold. Insufficiently
protected by their clothing, Pencroft, Herbert and Spilett suffered
cruelly, but not a complaint escaped their lips. They were determined
to follow Top, wherever the intelligent animal wished to lead them.
Towards five o'clock day began to break. At the zenith, where
the fog was less thick, gray shades bordered the clouds; under an
opaque belt, a luminous line clearly traced the horizon. The crests
of the bnlows were tipped with a wild light, and the foam regained
its whiteness. At the. same time on the left the hilly parts of the
coast could be seen, though very indistinctly.
At six o'clock day had broken. The clouds rapidly lifted. The
seaman and his companions were then about six miles from the
Chimneys. They were following a very flat shore bounded by a
reef of rocks, whose heads scarcely emerged from the sea, for they
were in deep water. On the left, the country appeared to be one
vast extent of sandy downs, bristling with thistles. There was no
cliff, and the shore offered no resistance to the ocean but a chain of
irregular hmlocks. Here and there. grew two or three trees, inclined
towards the west, their branches projecting in that direction. Quite
behind, in the southwest, extended the border of the forest.
At this moment, Top became very excited. He ran forward, then
returned, and seemed to entreat them to hasten their steps. The dog
then left the beach, and guided by his wonderful instinct, without
showing the least hesitation, went straight in among the downs. They
followed him. The country appeared an absolute, desert. Not a
living creature was to be seen.
The downs, the extent of which was large, were composed of
hillocks and even of hills, very irregularly distributed. They resem-
bled a Switzerland modeled in sand, and only an amazing instinct
could have possibly recognized the way.
Five minutes after having left the beach, the reporter and his
two companions arrived at a sort of excavation, hollowed out at the
back of a high mound. There Top stopped, and gave a loud, clear
bark. Spilett, Herbert, and Pencroft dashed into the cave.
Neb was there, kneeling beside a body extended on a bed of
The body was that of the engineer, Cyrus Harding.
IS CYRUS HARDING LIVING ? NEB'S RECITAL FOOTPRINTS AN UNAN-
SWERABLE QUESTION--CYRUS HARDING'S PIRST WORDS--IDENTIFYING
THE FOOTSTEPS--RETURN TO THE CHIMNEYS--PENCROFT STARTLEDI
NEB did not move. Pencroft only uttered one word.
"Living?" he cried.
Neb did not reply. Spilett and the sailor turned pale. Herbert
clasped his hands, and remained motionless. The poor negro, absorbed
in his grief, evidently had neither seen his companions nor heard the
The reporter knelt down beside the motionless body, and placed
his ear to the engineer's chest, having ~first torn open his clothes.
A minute--an age!--passed, during which he endeavored to catch
the faintest throb of the heart.
Neb had raised himself a little and gazed without seeing. Despair
had completely changed his countenance. He could scarcely be recog-
nized, exhausted with fatigue, broken with grief. He believed his
master was dead.
Gideon Spilett at last rose, after a long and attentive examination.
"He lives l" said he.
Pencroft knelt in his turn beside the engineer, he also heard a
throbbing, and even felt a slight breath on his cheek.
Herbert at a word from the reporter ran out to look for water.
He found, a hundred feet off, a limpid stream, which seemed to have
been greatly increased by the rains, and which filtered through the
sand; but nothing in which to put the water, not even a shell among
the downs. The lad was obliged to content himself with dipping his
handkerchief in the stream, and with it hastened back to the grotto.
Happily the wet handerkerchief was enough for Gideon Spilett,
who only wished to wet the engineer's lips. The cold water produced
an almost immediate effect. His chest heaved and he seemed to try
"We will save himl" exclaimed the reporter.
At these words hope revived in Neb's heart. He undressed his
master to see if he was wounded, but not so much as a bruise was to
be found, either on the head, body, or limbs, which was surprising,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
as he must have been dashed against the rocks; even the hands were
uninjured, and it was difficult, to explain how the engineer showed
no traces of the efforts which he must have~ made to get out of reach
of the breakers.
But the explanation would come later. When Cyrus was able
to speak he would say what had happened. For the present the
question was, how to recall him to life, and it appeared likely that
rubbing would bring this about; so they set to work with the sailor's
The engineer, revived by this rude shampooing, moved his arm
slightly, and began to breathe more regularly. He was sinking from
exhaustion, and certainly, had not the reporter and his companions
arrived, it would have been all over with Cyrus Harding.
"You thought your master was dead, didn't you?" said the seaman
"Yes! quite dead!" replied Neb, "and if Top had not found you,
and brought you here, I should have buried my master, and then
have lain down on his grave to die!"
It had indeed been a narrow escape for Cyrus Harding!
Neb then recounted what had happened. The day before, after
having left the Chimneys at daybreak, he had ascended the coast in
a northerly direction, and had reached that part of the shore which
he had already visited.
There, without any hope he acknowledged, Neb had searched the
beach, among the rocks, on the sand, for the smallest trace to guide
him. He examined particularly that part of the beach which was not
covered by the high tide, for near the sea the water would have
obliterated all marks. Neb did not expect to ftind his master living.
It was for a corpse that he searched, a corpse which he wished to bury
with his own hands!
He sought long in vain. This desert coast appeared never to
have been visited by a human creature. The shells, those which the
sea had not reached, and which might be met with by milions above
high-water mark, were untouched. Not a shell was broken.
Neb then resolved to walk along the beach for some miles. It
was possible that the waves had carried the body to quite a distant
point. When a corpse floats a little distance from a low shore, it
rarely happens that the tide does not throw it up, sooner or later,
This Neb knew, and he wished to see his master again for the last time.
"I went along the coast for another two miles, carefully examin-
ing the beach, both at high and low water, and I had despaired of
finding anything, when yesterday, about five in the evening, I saw
footprints on the sand."
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
"Footprints?" exclaimed Pencroft.
"'Yes!" replied Neb.
"Did these footprints begin at the water's edge?" asked the
"No," replied Neb, "only above high-water mark, for the others
must have been washed out by the tide."
"Go on, Neb," said Spilett.
"I went half crazy when I saw these footprints. They were very
clear and went towards the downs. I followed them for a quarter
of a mile, running, but taking care not to destroy them. Five minutes
after, as it was getting dark, I heard the barking of a dog. It was
Top, and To'p brought me here, to my master!"
Neb ended his account by saying what had been his grief at finding
the inanimate body, in which he vainly sought for the least sign of
life. Now that he had found him dead he longed for him to be alive.
All his efforts were useless! Nothing remained to be done but to
render the last duties to the one whom he had loved so much! Neb
then thought of his companions. They, no doubt, would wish to see
the unfortunate man again. Top was there. Could he not rely on
the sagacity of the faithful animal? Neb several times pronounced
the name of the reporter, the one among his companions whom Top
knew best. Then he pointed to the south, and the dog bounded off
in the direction indicated to him.
We have heard how, guided by an instinct which might be looked
upon almost as supernatural, Top had found them.
Neb's companions had listened with great attention to this account.
It was unaccountable to them how Cyrus Harding, after the efforts
which he must have made to escape from the waves by crossing the
rocks, had not received even a scratch. And what could not be
explained either was how the engineer had managed to get to this
cave in the downs, more than a mile from the shore.
"(So, Neb," said the reporter, "it was not you who brought your
master to this place."
"No, it was not I," replied the negro.
"It's very clear that the Captain came here by himself," said
"It is clear in reality," observed Spilett, "but it is not credible l"
The explanation of this fact could only be procured from the
engineer's own lips, and they must wait for that til speech returned.
Rubbing had reestablished the circulation of the blood. Cyrus
Harding moved his arm again, then his head, and a few incompre-
hensible: words escaped him.
Neb, who was bending over him, spoke, but the engineer did not
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
appear to hear, and his eyes remained closed. Life was only exhibited
in him by movement, his senses had not as yet been restored.
Peneroft much regretted not having either fie, or the means of
procuring it, for he had, unfortunately, forgotten to bring the burnt
linen, which would easily have ignited from the sparks produced by
striking together two flints. As to the engineer's pockets, they were
entirely empty, except that of his waistcoat, which contained his watch.
It was necessary to carry Harding to the Chimneys, and that as soon
as possible. This was the opinion of all.
Meanwhile, the care which was lavished on the engineer brought
him back to consciousness sooner than they could have expected. The
water with which they wetted his lips revived him gradually. Peneroft
also thought of mixing with the water some moisture from the titra's
flesh which he had brought. Herbert ran to the beach and returned
with two large bivalve shells. The sailor concocted something which
he introduced between the lips of the engineer, who eagerly drinking
it opened his eyes.
Neb and the reporter were leaning over him.
"My master! my master!" cried Neb.
The engineer heard him. He recognized Neb and Spilett, then
his other two companions, and his hand slightly pressed theirs.
A few words again escaped him, which showed what thoughts
were, even then, troubling his brain. This time he was understood.
Undoubtedly they were the same words he ~had before attempted to
"Island or continent?" he murmured.
"Bother the continent," cried Peneroft hastily; "there is time
enough to see about that, captain! we don't care for anything, pro-
vided you are living."
The engineer nodded faintly, and then appeared to sleep.
They respected this sleep, and the reporter began immediately
to make arrangements for transporting Harding to a more comfort-
able place. Neb, Herbert, and Peneroft left the cave and directed
their steps towards a high mound crowned with a few distorted trees.
On the way the sailor could not help repeating,--
"Island or continents To think of that, when at one's last gasp2
What a man!"
Arrived at the summit of the mound, Peneroft and his two com-
panions set to work, with no other tools than their hands, to despoil
of its principal branches a rather sickly tree, a sort of marine fir;
with these branches they made a litter, on which, covered with grass
and leaves, they could carry the engineer.
This occupied them nearly forty minutes, and it was ten
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
o'clock when they returned to Cyrus Harding whom Spilett had not
The engineer w'as just awaking from the sleep, or rather from
the drowsiness, iri which they had found him. The color was returning
to his cheeks, which till now had been as pale as death. He raised
himself a little, looked around him, and appeared to ask where he was.
"Can you listen to me without fatigue, Cyrus?1" asked the reporter.
"(Yes,") replied the engineer.
"(It's my opinion," said the sailor, "that Captain Harding will be
able to listen to you still better, if he will have some more titra jelly,--
for we have t~tras, captain," added he, presenting him with a little
of this jelly, to which he this time added some of the flesh.
Cyrus Harding ate a little of the t~tra, and the rest was divided
among his companions, who found it but a meager breakfast, for they
were suffering extremely from hunger.
"Welll" said the, sailor, "there is plenty of food at the Chimneys,
for you must know, captain, that down there, in the south, we have
a house, with rooms, beds, and fireplacec, and in the pantry, several
dozen of birds, which our Herbert calls couroucous. Your litter is
ready, and as soon as you feel strong enough we will carry you home."
"Thanks, my friend," replied the engineer; "wait another hour
or two, and then we will set out. And now speak, Spilett."
The reporter then told him aUl that had occurred. ~He recounted
all the events with which Cyrus was unacquainted, the last fall of the
balloon, the landing on this unknown land, which appeared a desert
(whatever it was, whether island or continent), the discovery of the
Chimneys, the search for him, not forgetting of course Neb's devo-
tion, the intelligence exhibited by the faithful Top, as well as many
"But," asked Harding, in a still feeble voice, "you did not, then,
pick me up on the beach?"
"No," replied the reporter.
"And did you not bring me to this cave?"
"At what distance is this cave from th-e sea?"
"About a mile," replied Pencroft; "and if you are astonished,
captain, we are not less surprised ourselves at seeing you in this
"Indeed," said the engineer, who was recovering gradually, and
who took great interest in these details, "indeed it is very singular!"
"But," resumed the sailor, "can you tell us what happened after
you were carried off by the sea?"
.Cyrus Harding considered. He knew very little. The wave had
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
torn him from the balloon net. He sank at first several fathoms. On
returning to the surface, in the half light, he felt a living creature
struggling near him. It was Top, who had sprung to his help. He
saw nothing of the balloon, which, lightened both of hie weight and
that of the dog, had darted away like an arrow.
There he was, in the midst of the angry sea, at a distance which
could not be less than a half a mile from the shore. He attempted
to struggle against the billows by swimming vigorously. Top held
him up by his clothes; but a strong current seized him and drove him
towards the north, and after half an hour of exertion, he sank, drag-
ging Top with him into the depths. From that moment to the
moment in which he recovered to find himself in the arms of his friends
he remembered nothing.
'iHowever," remarked Peneroft, "you must have been thrown on
to the beach, and you must have. had strength to walk here, since Neb
found your footmarks!"
"Yes .. of course .. replied the engineer, thoughtfully;
and you found no. traces of human beings on this coast?"
"Not a trace,"' replied the reporter; "besides, if by chance you
had met with some deliverer there, just in the nick of time, why should
he have abandoned you after having saved you from the waves?"
"You are right, my dear Spilett. Tell me, Neb," added the engi-
neer, turning to his servant, "it was not you who .. you can't have
had a moment of unconsciousness .. during which .. .no, that's
absurd. .. Do any of the footsteps still remain?" asked Harding.
"Yes, master," replied Neb; "here, at the entrance, at the back
of the mound, in a place sheltered from, the rain and wind. The
storm has destroyed the others."
"Pencroft," said Cyrus Harding, "will you take my shoe and see
if it fi1ts exactly to the footprints?"
The sailor did as the engineer requested. While he and Herbert,
guided by Neb, went to the place where the footprints were to be
found, Cyrus remarked to the reporter,--
"It is a most extraordinary thing I"
"Perfectly inexplicable" replied Gideon Spilett.
"But do not dwell upon it just now, my dear Spilett, we will talk
about it by-and-by."
A moment after the others entered.
There was no doubt about it. The engineer's shoe fitted exactly
to the footmarks. It was therefore Cyrus Harding who had left
them on the sand.
"Come," said he, "I must have experienced this unconsciousness
which I attributed to Neb. I must have walked like a somnambulist,
,THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
without any knowledge of my steps, and Top must have guided me
here, after having dragged me from the waves .. Come, Top!
Come, old dog!"
The magnificent animal bounded barking to his master, and
caresses were lavished on him. It was agreed that there was no other
way of accounting for the rescue of Cyrus Harding, and that Top
deserved all the honor of the affair.
Towards twelve o'clock,. Pencroft having asked the engineer if
they could now remove him, H~arding, instead of replying, and by
an effort which exhibited the most energetic will, got up. But he
was obliged to lean on the sailor, or he would have fallen.
"Well done!" said Pencroft; "bring the captain's litter."
The litter was brought; the transverse branches had been covered
with leaves and long grass. Harding was laid on it, and Peneroft,
having taken his place at one end and Neb at the other, they started
towards the coast. There was a distance of eight miles to be accom-
plished; but, as they could not go fast, and it would perhaps be
necessary to stop frequently, they reckoned that it would take at
least six hours to reach the Chimneys. The wind was still strong,
but fortunately it did not rain. Although lying down, the engineer,
leaning on his elbow, observed the coast, particularly inland. He
did not speak, but he gazed; a~nd, no doubt, the appearance of the
country, with its inequalities of ground, its forests, its various produc-
tions, were impressed on his mind. However, after traveling for two
hours, fatigue overcame him, and he slept.
At half-past fLive the little band arrived at the precipice, and a
short time after at the Chimneys.
They stopped, and the litter was placed on the sand; Cyrus Hatrd-
ing was sleeping profoundly, and did not awake.
Pencroft, to his extreme surprise, found that the terrible storm
had quite altered the aspect of the place. Important changes had
occurred; great blocks of stone lay on the beach, which was also cov-
ered with a thick carpet of sea-weed, algee~, and wrack. Evidently the
sea, passing over the islet, had been carried right up to the foot of the
enormous curtain of granite. The soil in front of the cave had been
torn away by the violence of the waves. A horrid presentiment flashed
across Peneroft's mind. He rushed into the passage, but returned
almost immediately, and stood motionless, staring at his companions.
. .. The fire was out; the drowned cinders were nothing but mud;
the burnt linen, which was to have served as tinder, had disappeared!
The sea had penetrated to the end of the passages, and everything
was overthrown and destroyed in the interior of the Chimneys t
CYRUS IS HERE PENCROFT'S ATTEMPTS- RUBBING WOOD- ISLAND OR
CONTINENT--THE ENGINEER'S PROJECTS IN WHAT PART OF THE
PACIFIC OCEAN--IN THE MIDS'I OF THE FORESTS--THE STONE PINE--
CHASING A CAPYBARA-AN AUSPICIOUS SMOKE.
IN a few words, Gideon Spilett, Herbert, and Neb were made ac-
quainted with what had happened. This accident, which appeared
so very serious to Peneroft, produced different effects on the com-
panions of the honest sailor.
Neb, in his delight at having found his master, did not listen, or
rather, did not care to trouble himself with what Peneroft was saying.
Herbert shared in some degree the sailor's feelings.
As to the reporter, he simply replied,--
"Upon my word, Pencroft, it's perfectly indifferent to me!"
"But, I repeat, that we haven't any fire!"
"Nor any means of relighting it!"
"But I say, Mr.. Spilett--"
"Isn't Cyrus here?" replied the reporter.
"Is not our engineer alive? He will soon find some way of mak-
ing fire for us!"
What had Peneroft to say? He could say nothing, for, in the
bottom of his heart he shared the confidence which his companions
had in Cyrus Harding. The engineer was to them a microcosm, a
compound of every science, a possessor of aUl human knowledge.
It was better to be with Cyrus in a desert island, than without
him in the most flourishing town in the United States. With him
they could want nothing; with him they would never despair. If
these brave men had been told that a volcanic eruption would destroy
the land, that this land would be engulfed in the depths of the Pacifc,
they would have imperturbably replied,--
"(Cyrus is here!"
While in the palanquin, however, the engineer had again relapsed
into unconsciousness, which the jolting to which he had been sub-
jected during his journey had brought on, so that they could not
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
now appeal to his ingenuity. The supper must necessarily be very
meager. In fact, all the titras' flesh had been consumed, and there
no longer existed any means of cooking more game. Besides, the
couroucous which had been reserved had disappeared. They must
consider what was to be done.
First of all, Cyrus Harding was carried into the central passage.
There they managed to arrange for him a couch of sea-weed which
still remained almost dry. The deep sleep which had overpowered
him would no doubt be more beneficial to him than any nourishment.
Night had closed in, and the temperature, which had modified
when the wind shifted to the northwest, again became extremely
cold. Also, the sea having destroyed the partitions which Pencroft
had put up in certain places in the passages, the Chimneys, on account
of the draughts, had become scarcely habitable. The engineer's con-
dition would, therefore, have been bad enough, if his companions had
not carefully covered him with their coats and waistcoats.
Supper, this evening, was of course composed of the inevitable
lithodomes, of which Herbert and Neb picked up a plentiful supply
on the beach. However, to these molluscs, the lad added some edible
sea-weed, which he gathered on high rocks, whose sides were only
washed by the sea at the time of high tides. This sea-weed, which
belongs to the order of Sucace, of the genus Sargussum, produces,
when dry, a gelatinous matter, rich and nutritious. The reporter and
his companions, after having eaten a quantity of lithodomes, sucked
the sargussum, of which the taste was very tolerable. It is used in
parts of the East very considerably by the natives. "Never mind"
said the sailor, "the captain will help us soon." Meanwhile the cold
became very severe, and unhappily they had no means of defending
themselves from it.
The sailor, extremely vexed, tried in all sorts of ways to procure
fire. Neb helped him in this work. He found some dry moss, and
by striking together two pebbles he obtained some sparks, but the
moss, not being inflammable enough, did not take fire, for the sparks
were really only incandescent, and not at all of the same consistency
as those which are emitted from flint when struck in the same manner.
The experiment, therefore, did not succeed.
Pencroft, although he had no confidence in the proceeding, then
tried rubbing two pieces of dry wood together, as savages do. Cer-
tainly, the movement which he and Neb gave themselves, if they had
been transformed into heat, according to the new theory, would have
been enough to heat the boiler of a steamer I It came to nothing. The
bits of wood became hot, to be sure, but much less so than the operators
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
After working an hour, Pencroft, who was in a complete state of
perspiration, threw down the pieces of wood in disgust.
"I can never be made to believe that savages light their fires in
this way, let them say what they wnl," he exclaimed. "I could sooner
light my arms by rubbing them against each other l"
The sailor was wrong to despise the proceeding. Savages often
kindle wood by means of rapid rubbing. But every sort of wood
does not answer for the purpose, and besides, there is "the knack,"
following the usual expression, and it is probable that Peneroft had
not "the kn~ack."
Pencroft's ill humor did not last long. Herbert had taken the
bits of wood which he had thrown down, and was exerting himself
to rub them. The hardy sailor could not restrain a burst of laughter
on seeing the efforts of the lad to succeed where he had failed.
"Rub, my boy, rub l" said he.
"I am rubbing," replied Herbert, laughing, "but I don't pretend
to do anything else but warm myself instead of shivering, and soon
I shall be as hot as you are, my good Peneroft l"
This soon happened. However, they were obliged to give up,
for this night at least, the attempt to procure fire. Gideon Spilett
repeated, for the twentieth time, that Cyrus Harding would not have
been troubled for so small a difficulty. And, in the meantime, he
stretched himself in one of the passages on his bed of sand. Herbert,
Neb, and Pencroft did the same, while Top slept at his master's feet.
Next day, the 28th of March, when the engineer awoke, about
eight in the morning, he saw his companions around him watching
his sleep, and, as on the day before, his ~first words were:--
"Island or continent ?"
This was his uppermost thought.
"Well!" replied Pencroft, "we don't know anything about it,
"You don't kn~ow yet?"
"But we shall know," rejoined Pencroft, "when you have guided
us into the country."
"I think I am able to try it," replied the engineer, who, without
much effort, rose and stood upright.
"That's capital!" cried the sailor.
"I feel dreadfully weak," replied Harding. "Give me something to
eat, my friends, and it will soon go off. You have fie, haven't you?"
This question was not immediately replied to. But, in a few
"(Aa1s!1 we have no fire," said Pencroft, "or rather, captain, we
have it no longer!"
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
And the sailor recounted all that had passed the day before. He
amused the engineer by the history of the single match, then his
abortive attempt to procure fire in the savages' way.
"(We shall consider," replied the engineer, "and if we do not find
some substance similar to tinder--"
"Well?" asked the sailor.
"Well, we will make matches."
"It is not more difficult than that," cried the reporter, striking
the sailor on the shoulder.
The latter did not think it so simple, but he did not protest. All
went out. The weather had become very fine. The sun was rising
from the sea's horizon, and touched with golden spangles the pris-
matic rugosities of the huge precipice.
Having thrown a rapid glance around him, the engineer seated
himself on a block of stone. Herbert offered him a few handfuls of
shell-fish and sargussum, saying,--
"It is all that we have, Catptain Harding."
"Thanks, my boy," replied Harding; "it will do--for this morn-
ing at least."
He ate the wretched food with appetite, and washed it down with
a little fresh water, drawn from the river in an immense shell.
His companions looked at him without speaking. Then, feeling
somewhat refreshed, Cyrus Harding crossed his arms, and said,--
"So, my friends, you do not know yet whether fate has thrown
us on an island, or on a continent?"
"No, captain," replied theaoy.
"WC7e shall know to-morrow," said the engineer; "till then, there
is nothing to be done."
"Yes," replied Pencroft.
"Fire," said the sailor, who, also, had a fixed idea.
"We will make it, Peneroft," replied Harding.
"While you were carrying me yesterday, did I not see in the west
a mountain which commands the country?"
"Yes," replied Spilett, "a mountain which must be rather high--"
'.'Well," replied the engineer, "we will climb to the summit to-
morrow, and then we shall see if this land is an island or a continent.
Till then, I repeat, there is nothing to be done."
"Yes, fiel" said the obstinate sailor again.
"But he will make us a fire!" replied Gideon Spilett, "only have
a little patience, Peneroftl"
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
The seaman looked at Spilett in a way which seemed to say, "If
it depended upon you to do it, we wouldn't taste roast meat very
soon;" but he was silent.
Meanwhile Captain Harding had made no reply. He appeared
to be very little troubled by the question of fie. For a few minutes
he remained absorbed in thought; then again speaking,--
"My friends," said he, "our situation is, perhaps, deplorable; but,
at any rate, it is very plain. Either we are on a continent, and then,
at the expense of greater or less fatigue, we shall reach some inhabited
place, or we are on an island. In the latter case, if the island is
inhabited, we will try to get out of the scrape with the help of its
inhabitants; if it is desert, we will try to get out of the scrape by
"Certainly, nothing could be plainer," replied Peneroft.
"But, whether it is an island or a continent," asked Gideon Spilett,
"whereabouts do you think, Cyrus, this storm has thrown us'?"
"I cannot say exactly," replied the engineer, "but I presume it
is some land in the Pacific. In fact, when we left Richmond, the
wind was blowing from the northeast, and its very violence greatly
proves that it could not have varied. If the direction has been main-
tained from the northeast to the southwest, we have traversed the
States of North Carolina, of South Carolina, of Georgia, the Gulf
of Mexico, Mexico, itself, in its narrow part, then a part of the
Pacific Ocean. I cannot estimate the distance traversed by the
balloon at less than six to seven thousand miles, and, even supposing
that the wind had varied half a quarter, it must have brought us
either to the archipelago of Mendava, either on the Pomotous, or
even, if it had a greater strength than I suppose, to the land of New
Zealand. If the last hypothesis is correct, it will be easy enough to
get home again. English or Maoris, we shall always find some one to
whom we can speak. If, on the contrary, this is the coast of a desert
island in some tiny archipelago, perhaps we shall be able to reconnoiter
it from the summit of that peak which overlooks the country, and
then we shall see how best to establish ourselves here as if we are never
to go away."
"Never?" cried the reporter. "You say 'Never,' my dear Cyrus?"
"Better to put things at the worst at fist," replied the engineer,
"and reserve the best for a surprise."
"Well said," remarked Pencroft. "It is to be hoped, too, that
this island, if it be one, is not situated just out of the course of ships;
that would be really unlucky!"
"We shall not know what we have to rely on until we have fist
made the ascent of the mountain," replied the engineer.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
"But to-morrow, captain," asked Herbert, "shall you be in a
state to bear the fatigue of the ascent?"
"(I hope so," replied the engineer, "provided you and Peneroft,
my boy, show yourselves quick and clever hunters."
"Captain," said the sailor, "since you are speaking of game, if,
on my return, I was as certain of being able to roast it as I am of
bringing it back--"
"Bring it back all the same, Peneroft," replied Harding.
It was then agreed that the engineer and the, reporter were to
pass the day at the Chimneys, so as to examine the shore and the
upper plateau. Neb, Herbert, and the. sailor, were to return to the
forest, renew their store of wood, and lay violent hands on every
creature, feathered or hairy, which might come within their reach.
They set out accordingly about ten o'clock in the morning, Herbert
confident, Neb joyous, Pencroft murmuring aside,--
"If, on my return, I find a fire at the house, I shall believe that
the thunder itself came to light it." All three climbed the bank; and
arrived at the angle made by the river, the sailor, stopping, said to
his two companions,--
"Shall we begin by being hunters or wood-men?"
"Hunters," replied Herbert. "There is Top already in quest."
"We wil hunt, then," said the sailor, "and afterwards we can come
back and collect our wood."
This agreed to, Herbert, Neb, and Pencroft, after having torn
three sticks from the trunk of a young fir, followed Top, who was
bounding about among the long grass.
This time, the hunters, instead of following the course of the
river, plunged straight into the heart of the forest. There were still
the same trees, belonging, for the most part, to the pine family. In
certain places, less crowded, growing in clumps, these pines exhibited
considerable dimensions, and appeared to indicate, by their develop-
ment, that the country was situated in a higher latitude than the
engineer had supposed. Glades, bristling with stumps worn away
by time, were covered with dry wood, which formed an inexhaustible,
store of fuel. Then, the glade passed, the underwood thickened again,
and became almost impenetrable.
It was difficult enough to find the way among the groups of
trees, without any beaten track. So the sailor from time to time
broke off branches which might be easily recognized. But, perhaps,
he was wrong not to follow the watercourse, as he and Herbert had
done on their first excursion, for after walking an hour not a creature
had shown itself. Top, running under the branches, only roused birds
which could not be approached. Even the couroucous were invisible,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
and it was probable that.the sailor would be obliged to return to the
marshy part of the forest, in which he had so happily performed his
"Well, Peneroft," said Neb, in a slightly sarcastic tone, "if this
is all the game which you promised to bring back to my master, it
won't need a large ~fire to roast it!"
"Have patience," replied the sailor, "it isn't the game which will
be wanting on our return."
"Have you not confdence in Captain Harding?"
"But you don't believe that he will make fire?"
"I shall believe it when the wood is blazing in the fireplace."
"It will blaze, since my master has said so."
"We shall see!"
Meanwhile, the sun had not reached the highest point in its course
above the horizon. The exploration, therefore, continued, and was
usefully marked by a discovery which Herbert made of a tree whose
fruit was edible. This was the stone-pine, which produces an excel-
lent almond, very much esteemed in the temperate regions of America
and Europe. These almonds were in a perfect state of maturity, and
Herbert described them to his companions, who feasted on them.
"Come," said Peneroft, "sea-weed by way of bread, raw mussels
for meat, and almonds for dessert, that's certainly a good dinner for
those who have not a single match in their pocket!"
"We mustn't complain," said Herbert.
"I am not complaining, my boy," replied Peneroft, "only I re-
peat, that meat is a little too much economized in this sort of meal."
"Top has found something!" cried Neb, who ran towards a thicket,
in the midst of which the dog had disappeared, barking. With Top's
barking were mingled curious gruntings.
The sailor and Herbert had followed Neb. If there was game
there this was not the time to discuss how it was to be cooked, but
rather, how they were to get hold of it.
The hunters had scarcely entered the bushes when they saw Top
engaged in a struggle with an animal which he was holding by the
ear. This quadruped was a sort of pig nearly two feet and a half
long, of a blackish brown color, lighter below, having hard scanty hair;
its toes, then strongly fixed in the ground, seemed to be united by a
membrane. Herbert recognized in this animal the capybara, that is
to say,' one of the largest members of the rodent order.
Meanwhile, the capybara did not struggle against the dog. It
stupidly rolled its eyes, deeply buried in a thick bed of fat. Perhaps
it saw men for the ~first time.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
However, Neb having tightened his grasp on this stick, was just
going to fell the pig, when the latter, tearing itself from Top's teeth,
by which it was only held by the tip of its ear, uttered a vigorous grunt,
rushed upon Herbert, almost overthrew him, and disappeared in the
"The ramscall" cried Peneroft.
All three directly darted after Top, but at the moment when they
joined him the animal had disappeared under the waters of a large
pond shaded by venerable pines.
Neb, Herbert, and Pencroft stopped, motionless. Top plunged
into the water, but the capybara, hidden at the bottom of the pond,
did not appear.
"Let us wait," said the boy, "for he will soon come to the surface
"Won't he drown?" asked Neb.
"No," replied Herbert, "since he has webbed feet, and is almost
an amphibious animal. But watch him."
Top remained in the water. Pencroft and his two companions
went to different parts of the bank, so as to cut off the retreat of the
capybara, which the dog was looking for beneath the water.
Herbert was not mistaken. In a few minutes the animal appeared
on the surface of the water. Top was upon it in a bound, and kept
it from plunging again. An instant later the capybara, dragged to
the bank, was killed by a blow from N~eb's stick.
"Hurrahl" cried Peneroft, who was always ready with this cry of
"Give me but a good fire, and this pig shall be gnawed to the
Peneroft hoisted the capybara on his shoulders, and judging by
the height of the sun that it was about two o'clock, he gave the signal
Top's instinct was useful to the hunters, who, thanks to the intel-
ligent animal, were enabled to discover the road by which they had
come. Half an hour later they arrived at the river.
Peneroft soon made a raft of wood, as he had done before, though
if there was no fie it would be a useless task, and the raft following
the current, they returned towards the Chimneys.
But the sailor had not gone fifty paces when he stopped, and again
uttering a tremendous hurrah, pointed towards the angle of the cliff,--
"Herbert! Neb t Lookl" he shouted.
Smoke was escaping and curling up among the rocks.
THE ENGINEER'S INVENTION--THE QUESTION WHICH ENGROSSES THE
THOUGHTS OF CYRUS HARDING--DEPARTURE FOR THE MOUNTAIN--
VOLCANIC SOII-TRAGOPA~NS-SHEEP-THE FIRST PLATEAU--ENCAMP-
MENT FOR THE NIGHT--THE SUMMIT OF THE CONE.
IN a few minutes the three hunters were before a crackling fire. The
captain and the reporter were there. Peneroft looked from one to
the other, his capybara in his hand, without saying a word.
"Well, yes, my brave fellow," cried the reporter.
"Fire, real fire, which will roast this splendid pig perfectly, and
we will have a feast presently!"
"But who lighted it?" asked Pencroft.
Gideon Spilett was quite right in his reply. It was the sun which
had furnished the heat which so astonished Pencroft. The- sailor could
scarcely believe his eyes, and he was so amazed that he did not think
of questioning the engineer.
"Had you a burning-glass, sir?" asked Herbert of Harding.
"No, my boy," replied he, "but I made one."
And he showed the apparatus which served for a burning-glass.
It was simply two glasses which he had taken from his own and the
reporter's watches. Having filled them with water and rendered their
edges adhesive by means of a little clay, he thus fabricated a regular
burning-glass, which, concentrating the solar rays on some very dry
moss, soon caused it to blaze.
The sailor considered the apparatus; then he gazed at the engineer
without saying a word, only a look plainly expressed his opinion that
if Cyrus Harding was not a magician, he was certainly no ordinary
man. At last speech returned to him, and he cried,--
"Note that, 1Mr. Spilett, note that down on your paper l"
"It is noted," replied the reporter.
Then, Neb helping him, the seaman arranged the spit, and the
capybara, properly cleaned, was soon roasting like a sucking-pig be-
fore a clear, crackling fire.
The Chimneys had again become more habitable, not only because
the passages were warmed by the fie, but because the partitions of
wood and mud had been reestablished.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
It was evident that the engineer and his companions had employed
their day well. Cyrus Harding had almost entirely recovered his
strength, and had proved it by climbing to the upper plateau. From
this point his eye, accustomed to estimate heights and distances, was
fixed for a long time on the cone, the summit of which he wished to
reach the next day. The mountain, situated about six miles to the
northwest, appeared to him to measure 3,500 feet above the level of
the sea. Consequently the gaze of an observer posted on its summit
would extend over a radius of at least fifty miles. Therefore it was
probable that Harding could easily solve the question of "island or
continent," to which he attached so much importance.
They supped capitally. The flesh of the capybara was declared
excellent. The sargussum and the almonds of the stone-pine com-
pleted the repast, during which the engineer spoke little. He was
preoccupied with projects for the next day.
Once or twice Pencroft gave forth some ideas upon what it would
be best to do; but Cyrus Harding, who was evidently of a methodical
mind, only shook his head without uttering a word.
"To-morrow," he repeated, "we shall know what we have to de-
pend upon, and we will act accordingly."
The meal ended, fresh armfuls of wood were thrown on the fire,
and the inhabitants of the Chimneys, including the faithful Top, were
soon buried in a deep sleep. No incident disturbed this peaceful
night, and the next day, the 29th of March, fresh and active they
awoke, ready to undertake the excursion which must determine their
All was ready for the start. The remains of the capybara would
be enough to sustain Harding and his companions for at least twenty-
four hours. Besides, they hoped to find more food on the way. As
the glasses had been returned to the watches of the engineer and
reporter, Peneroft burned a little linen to serve as tinder. As to
flint, that would not be wanting in these regions of Plutonic origin.
It was half-past seven in the morning when the explorers, armed
with sticks, left the Chimneys. Following Peneroft's advice, it ap-
peared best to take the road already traversed through the forest,
and to return by another route. It was also the most direct way to
reach the mountain. They turned the south angle and followed the
left bank of the river, which was abandoned at the point where it
formed an elbow towards the southwest. The path, already trodden
under the evergreen trees, was found, and at nine o'clock Cyrus Hard-
ing and his companions had reached the western border of the forest.
The ground, till then, very little undulated, boggy at fCirst, dry and
sandy afterwards, had a gentle slope, which ascended from the shore
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
towards the interior of the country. A few very timid animals were
seen under the forest-trees. Top quickly started them, but his mas-
ter soon called him back, for the time had not come to commence
hunting, that would be attended to later. The engineer was not a
man who would allow himself to be diverted from his fixed idea. It
might even had been said that he did not observe the country at all,
either in its configuration or in its natural productions, his great aim
being to climb the mountain before him, and therefore straight towards
it he went. At ten o'clock a halt of a few minutes was made. On
leaving the forest, the mountain system of the country appeared be-
fore the explorers. The mountain was composed of two cones; the
first, truncated at a height of about two thousand five hundred feet,
was sustained by buttresses, which appeared to branch out like the
talons of an immense claw set on the ground. Between these were
narrow valleys, bristling with trees, the last clumps of which rose
to the top of the lowest cone. There appeared to be less vegetation
on that side of the mountain which was exposed to the northeast,
and deep fissures could be seen which, no doubt, were watercourses.
On the first cone rested a second, slightly rounded, and placed a
little on one side, like a great round hat cocked over the ear. A
Scotchman would have said, "His bonnet was a thocht ajee." It
appeared formed of bare earth, here and there pierced by reddish
They wished to reach the second cone, and proceeding along
the ridge of the spurs seemed to be the best way by which to gain it.
"We are on volcanic ground," Cyrus Harding had said, and his
companions following him began to ascend by degrees on the back
of a spur, which, by a winding and consequently more accessible path,
joined the fist plateau.
The ground had evidently been convulsed by subterranean force.
Here and there stray blocks, numerous debris of basalt and pumice-
stone, were met with. In isolated groups rose fir-trees, which, some
hundred feet lower-, at the bottom of the narrow gorges, formed mas-
sive shades almost impenetrable to the sun's rays.
During this first part of the ascent, Herbert remarked on the foot-
prints which indicated the recent passage of large animals.
"Perhaps these beasts will not let us pass by willingly," said Pen-
"Well," replied the reporter, who had already hunted the tiger
in India, and the lion in Africa, "we shall soon learn how successfully
to encounter them. But in the meantime we must be upon our guard l"
They ascended but slowly.
The distance increased by detours and obstacles which could not
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
be surmounted directly, was long. Sometimes, too, the ground sud-
denly fell, and they found themselves on the edge of a deep chasm
which they had to go round. Thus, in retracing their steps so as to
~find some practicable path, much time was employed and fatigue
undergone for nothing. At twelve o'clock, when the small band of
adventurers halted for breakfast at the foot of a large group of firs,
near a little stream which fell in cascades, they found themselves still
half way from the first plateau, which most probably they would not
reach til nightfall. From this point the view of the sea was much
extended, but on the right the high promontory prevented their see-
ing whether there was land beyond it. On the left, the sight extended
several miles to the north; but, on the northwest, at the point occupied
by the explorers, it was cut short by the ridge of a fantastically-shaped
spur, which formed a powerful support of the central cone.
At one o'clock the ascent was continued. They slanted more
towards the southwest and again entered among thick bushes. There
under the shade of the trees fluttered several couple of gallinacese
belonging to the pheasant species. They were tragopans, ornamented
by a pendant skin which hangs over their throats, and by two small,
round horns planted behind the eyes. Among these birds, which
were about the size of a fowl, the female was uniformly brown, while
the male was gorgeous in his red plumage, decorated with white spots.
Gideon Spilett, with a stone cleverly and vigorously thrown, killed
one of these tragopans, on which Pencroft, made hungry by the fresh
air, had cast greedy eyes.
After leaving the region of bushes, the party, assisted by resting
on each other's shoulders, climbed for about a hundred feet up a steep
acclivity and reached a level place, with very few trees, where the
soil appeared volcanic. It was necessary to ascend by zigzags to make
the slope more easy, for it was very steep, and the footing being ex-
ceedingly precarious required the greatest caution. Neb and Herbert
took the lead, Peneroft the rear, the captain and the reporter between
them. The animals which frequented these heights-and there were
numerous traces of them--must necessarily belong to those races of
sure foot and supple spine, chamois or goat. Several were seen, but
this was not the name Peneroft gave them, for all of a sudden--
"Sheepl" he shouted.
All stopped about fifty feet from half-a-dozen animals of a large
size, with strong horns bent back and flattened towards the point,
with a woolly fleece, hidden under long silky hair of a tawny color.
They were not ordinary sheep, but a species usually found in the
mountainous regions of the temperate zone, to which Herbert gave
the name of the musmon.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
"Have they legs and chops?" asked the sailor.
"Yes," replied Herbert.
"Well, then, they are sheep" said Peneroft.
The animals, motionless among the blocks of basalt, gazed with
an astonished eye, as if they saw human bipeds for the first time.
Then, their fears suddenly aroused, they disappeared, bounding over
"Good-bye, till we meet again!" cried Peneroft, as he watched
them, in such a comical tone that Cyrus Harding, Gideon Spilett,
Herbert, and Neb could not help laughing.
The ascent was continued. Here and there were traces of lava.
Sulphur springs sometimes stopped their way, and they had to go
round them. In some places the sulphur had formed crystals among
other substances, such as whitish cinders made of an infinity of little
In approaching the first plateau formed by the truncating of the
lower cone, the difficulties of the ascent were very great. Towards
four o'clock the extreme zone of the trees had been passed. There
only remained here and there a few twisted, stunted pines, which must
have had a hard life in resisting at this altitude the high winds from
the open sea. Happily for the engineer and his companions the
weather was beautiful, the atmosphere tranquil; for a high breeze at
an elevation of three thousand feet would have hindered their pro-
ceedings. The purity of the sky at the zenith was felt through the
transparent air. A perfect calm reigned around them. They could
not see the sun, then hid by the vast screen of the upper cone, which
masked the half-horizon of the west, and whose enormous shadow
stretching to the shore increased as the radiant luminary sank in its
diurnal course. Vapors--mist rather than clouds--began to appear
in the east, and assume all the prismatic colors under the infuence
of the solar rays.
Five hundred feet only separated the explorers from the plateau,
which they wished to reach so as to establish there an encampment for
the night, but these five hundred feet were increased to more than
two miles by the zigzags which they had to describe. The soil, as it
were, slid under their feet. The slope often presented such an angle
that they slipped when the stones worn by the air did not give a
sufficient support. Evening came on by degrees, and it was almost
night when Cyrus Harding and his companions, much fatigued by
an ascent of seven hours, arrived at the plateau of the first cone. It
was then necessary to prepare an encampment, and to restore their
strength by eating fist and sleeping afterwards. This second stage
of the mountain rose on a base of rocks, among which it would be
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
easy to find retreat. Fuel was not abundant. However, a fie could
be made by means of the moss and dry brushwood, which covered
certain parts of the plateau. While the sailor was preparing his hearth
with stones which he put to this use, Neb and Herbert occupied them-
selves with getting a supply of fuel. They soon returned with a load
of brushwood. The steel was struck, the burnt linen caught the
sparks of flint, and, under Neb's breath, a crackling ~fire showed itself
in a few minutes under the shelter of the rocks. Their object in light-
ingr a fire was only to enable th-em to withstand the cold temperature
of the night, as it was not employed in cooking the bird, which Neb
kept for the next day. The remains of the capybara and some dozens
of the stone-pine almonds formed their supper. It was not half-past
six when all was finished.
Cyrus Harding then thought of exploring in the half-light the
large circular layer which supported the upper cone of the mountain.
Before taking any rest, he wished to know if it was possible to get
round the base of the cone in the case of its sides being too steep and
its summit being inaccessible. This question preoccupied him, for it
was possible that from the way the hat inclined, that is to say,
towards the north, the plateau was not practicable. Also, if the sum-
mit of the mountain could not be reached on one side, and if, on the
other, they could not get round the base of the cone, it would be im-
possible to survey the western part of the country, and their object
in making the ascent would in part be altogether unattained.
The engineer, accordingly, regardless of fatigue, leaving Pen-
croft and Neb to arrange the beds, and Gideon Spilett to note the
incidents of the day, began to follow the edge of the plateau, going;
towards the north. Herbert accompanied him.
The night was beautiful and still, the darkness was not yet deep.
Cyrus Harding and the boy walked near each other, without speak-
ing. In some places the plateau opened before them, and they passed
without hindrance. In others, obstructed by rocks, there was only
a narrow path, in which two persons could not walk abreast. After
a walk of twenty minutes, Cyrus Harding and Herbert were obliged
to stop. From this point the slope of the two cones became one. No
shoulder here separated the two parts of the mountain. The slope,
being inclined almost seventy degrees, the path became impracticable.
But if the engineer and the boy were obliged to give up thoughts
of following a circular direction, in return an opportunity was given
for ascending the cone.
In fact, before them opened a deep hollow. It was the rugged
mouth of the crater, by which the eruptive liquid matter had escaped
at the periods when the volcano was still in activity. Hardened lava
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
and crusted scoria formed a sort of natural staircase of large steps,
which would greatly facilitate the ascent to the summit of the moun-
Harding took all this in at a glance, and without hesitating, fol-
10wed by the lad, he entered the enormous chasm in the midst of an
There was still a height of a thousand feet to overcome. Would
the interior acclivities of the crater be practicable? It would soon
be seen. The persevering engineer resolved to continue his ascent until
he was stopped. Happily these acclivities wound up the interior of
the volcano and favored their ascent.
As to the volcano itself, it could not be doubted that it was com-
pletely extinct. No smoke escaped from its sides; not a flame could
be seen in the dark hollows; not a roar, not a mutter, no trembling
even issued from this black well, which perhaps reached far into the
bowels of the earth. The atmosphere inside the crater was filed with
no sulphurous vapor. It was more than the sleep of a volcano; it
was its complete extinction. Cyrus Harding's attempt would succeed.
Little by little, Herbert and he, climbing up the sides of the inte-
rior, saw the crater widen above their heads. The radius of this cir-
cular portion of the sky, framed by the edge of the cone, increased
obviously. At each step, as it were, that the explorers made, fresh
stars entered the field of their vision. The magnificent constellations
of the southern sky shone resplendently. At the zenith glittered'the
splendid Antares in the Scorpion, and not far the (3 in the Centaur,
which is believed to be the nearest star to the terrestrial globe. Then,
as the crater widened, appeared Fomalhaut of the Fish, the Southern
Triangle, and lastly, nearly at the Antarctic Pole, the glittering
Southern Cross, which replaces the Polar Star of the Northern
It was nearly eight o'clock when Cyrus Harding and Herbert set
foot on the highest ridge of the mountain at the summit of the cone.
It was then perfectly dark, and their gaze could not extend over
a radius of two miles. Did the sea surround this unknown land, or
was it connected in the west with some continent of the Pacific? It
could not yet be made out. Towards the west, a cloudy belt, clearly
visible at the horizon, increased the gloom, and the eye could not dis-
cover if the sky and water were blended together in the same circular
But at one point of the horizon a vague light suddenly appeared,
which descended slowly in proportion as the cloud mounted to the
It was the slender crescent moon, already almost Aisappearing; but
72 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
ita light was sufficient to show clearly the horizontal line, then detached
from the cloud, and the engineer could see its reflection trembling
for an instant on a liquid surface. Cyrus Harding seized the lad's
hand, and in a grave voice,--
"An island!" said he, at the moment when the lunar crescent dis
appeared beneath the waves.
AT THE SUMMIT OF THE CONE--THE INTERIOR OF THE CRATER-SEA
ALL ROUND--NO LAND INT SIGHT--A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF THE COAST
--HYDROGRAPHY AND OROLOGY--IS THE ISLAND INHABITED---CHRIS-
TENING THE BAYS, GULFS, CAPES, RIVERS, ETC.--LINCOLN ISLAND.
HALr an hour later Cyrus Harding and Herbert had returned to
the encampment. The engineer merely told his companions that the
land upon which fate had thrown them was an island, and that the
next day they would consult. Then each settled himself as well as
he could to sleep, and in that rocky hole, at a height of two thousand
five hundred feet above the level of the sea, through a peaceful night,
the islanders enjoyed profound repose.
The next day, the 30th of March, after a hasty breakfast, which
consisted solely of the roasted tragopan, the engineer wished to climb
again to the summit of the volcano, so as more attentively to survey
the island upon which he and his companions were imprisoned for
life perhaps, should the island be situated at a great distance from
any land, or if it was out of the course of vessels which visited the
archipelagos of the Pacific Ocean. This time his companions fol-
lowed him in the new exploration. They also wished to see the
island, on the productions of which they must depend for the supply
of all their wants.
It was about seven o'clock in the morning when Cyrus Harding,
Herbert, Pencroft, Gideon Spilett, and Neb quitted the encamp-
ment. No one appeared to be anxious about their situation. They
had faith in themselves, doubtless, but it must be observed that the
basis of this faith was not the same with Harding as with his com-
pamions. The engineer had confdence, because he felt capable of
extorting from this wild country everything necessary for the life
of himself and his companions; the latter feared nothing, just because
Cyrus Harding was with them. Peneroft especially, since the inci-
dent of the relighted ~fire, would not have despaired for an instant,
even if he was on a bare rock, if the engineer was with him on the
"Pashawl" said he, "we left Richmond without permission from
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
the authorities! It will be hard if we don't manage to get away some
day or other from a place where certainly no one will detain us l"
Cyrus Harding followed the same road as the evening before.
They went round the cone by the plateau which formed the shoulder,
to the mouth of the enormous chasm. The weather was magnificent.
The sun rose in a pure sky and flooded with his rays all the eastern
side of the mountain.
> The crater was reached. It was just what the engineer had made
it out to be in the dark; that is to say, a vast funnel which extended,
widening, to a height of a thousand feet above the plateau. Below
the chasm, large thick streaks of lava wound over the sides of the
mountain, and thus marked the course of the eruptive matter to the
lower valleys which furrowed the northern part of *the island.
The interior of the crater, whose inclination did not exceed thirty-
five to forty degrees, presented no difficulties nor obstacles to the
ascent. Traces of very ancient lava were noticed, which probably
had overflowed the summit of the cone, before this lateral chasm had
opened a new way to it.
As to the volcanic chimney which established a communication
between the subterranean layers and the crater, its depth could not
be calculated with the eye, for it was lost in obscurity. But there
was no doubt as to the complete, extinction of the volcano.
Before eight o'clock Harding and his companions were assembled
at the summit of the crater, on a conical mound which swelled the
"The sea, the sea everywhere!" they cried, as if their lips could
not restrain the words which made islanders of them.
The sea, indeed, formed an immense circular sheet of water all
around them Perhaps, on climbing again to the summit of the cone,
Cyrus Harding had had a hope of discovering some coast, some island
shore, which he had not been able to perceive in the dark the evening
before. But nothing appeared on the farthest verge of the horizon,
that is to say, over a radius of more than ~fifty miles. No land in
sight. Not a sail. Over all this immense space th~e ocean alone was
visible--the island occupied the center of a circumference which ap-
peared to be infinite.
The engineer and his companions, mute and motionless, surveyed
for some minutes every point of the ocean, examining it to its most
extreme limits. Even Peneroft, who possessed a marvelous power
of sight, saw nothing; and certainly if there had been land at the
horizon, if it appeared only as an indistinct vapor, the sailor would
undoubtedly have found it out, for nature had placed regular tele-
scopes under his eyebrows.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
From the ocean their gaze returned to the island which they com-
manded entirely, and the ~first question was put by Gideon Spilett
mn these terms:--
"About what size is this island?"
Truly, it did not appear large in the midst of the immense ocean.
Cyrus Harding reflected a few minutes; he attentively observed
the perimeter of the island, taking into consideration the height at
which he was placed; then,--
"My friends," said he, "I do not think I am mistaken in giving
to the shore of the island a circumference of more than a hundred
"And consequently an area?"
"That is difficult to estimate," replied the engineer, "for it is
If Cyrus Harding was not mistaken in his calculation, the island
had almost the extent of M~alta or Zante, in the Mediterranean, but
it was at the same time much more irregular and less rich in capes,
promontories, point, bays, or creeks. Its strange form caught the
eye, and when Gideon Spilett, on the engineer's advice, had drawn
the outline, they found that it resembled some fantastic animal, a
monstrous leviathan, which lay sleeping on the surface of the Pacific.
This was in fact the exact shape of the island, which it is of con-
sequence to know, and a tolerably correct map of it was immediately
drawn by the reporter.
The east part of the shore, where the castaways had landed, formed
a wide bay, terminated by a sharp cape, which had been concealed
by a high point from Pencroft on his first exploration. At the
northeast two other capes closed the bay, and between them ran
a narrow gulf, which looked like the half-open jaws of a formidable
From the northeast to the southwest the coast was rounded, like
the flattened cranium of an animal, rising again, forming a sort of
protuberance which did not give any particular shape to this part of
the island, of which the center was occupied by the volcano.
From this point the shore ran pretty regularly north and south,
broken at two-thirds of its perimeter by a narrow creek, from which
it ended in a long tail, similar to the caudal appendage of a gigantic
This tail formed a regular peninsula, which stretched more than
thirty miles into the sea, reckoning from the cape southeast of the
island, already mentioned; it curled round, making an open road-
stead, which marked out the lower shore of this strangely-formed
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
At the narrowest part, that is to say between the Chimneys and
the creek on the western shore, which corresponded to it in latitude,
the island only measured ten miles; but its greatest length, from the
jaws at the northeast to the extremity of the tail of the southwest,
was not less than thirty miles.
As to the interior of the island, its general aspect was this,--very
woody throughout the southern part from the mountain to the shore,
and arid and sandy in the northern part. Between the volcano and
the east coast Cyrus Harding and his companions were surprised to
see a lake, bordered with green trees, the existence of which they
had not suspected. Seen from this height, the lake appeared to be
onl the same level as the ocean, but, on reflection, the engineer ex-
plained to his companions that the altitude of this little sheet of
water must be about three hundred feet, because the plateau, which
was its basin, was but a prolongation of the coast.
"Is it a freshwater lake?" asked Peneroft.
"Certainly," replied the engineer, "for it must be fed by the water
which flows from the mountain."
"I see a little river which runs into it," said Herbert, pointing
out a narrow stream, which evidently took its source somewhere in
"Yes," said Hardingf; "and since this stream feeds the lake, most
probably on the side near the sea there is an outlet by which the
surplus water escapes. We shall see that on our return."
This little winding watercourse and the river already mentioned
constituted the water-system, at least such as it was displayed to the
ey'es of the explorers. However, it was possible that under the masses
of trees which covered two-thirds of the island, forming an immense
forest, other rivers ran towards the sea. It might even be inferred
that such was the case, so rich did this region appear in the most
magnificent specimens of the flora of the temperate zones. There
was no indication of running water in the north, though perhaps
there might be stagnant water among the marshes in the northeast;
but that was all, in addition to the downs, sand, and aridity which
contrasted so strongly with the luxuriant vegetation of the rest of
The volcano did not occupy the central part; it rose, on the con-
trary, in the northwestern region, and seemed to mark the boundary
of the two zones. At the southwest, at the south, and the south-
east, the first part of the spurs were hidden under masses of verdure.
At the north, on the contrary, one could follow their ramifications,
which died away on the sandy plains. It was on this side that, at
the time when the mountain was in a state of eruption, the discharge
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
had worn away a passage, and a large heap of lava had spread to
the narrow jaw which formed the northeastern gulf.
Cyrus Harding and his companions remained an hour at the top
of the mountain. The island was displayed under their eyes, like a,
plan in relief with different tints, green for the forests, yellow for
the sand, blue for the water. They viewed it in its toult-ensemnble,
nothing remained concealed but the ground hidden by verdure, the
hollows of the valleys, and the interior of the volcanic chasms.
One important question remained to be solved, and the answer
would have a great effect upon the future of the castaways.
Was the island inhabited ?
It was the reporter who put this question, to which after the close
examination they had just made, the answer seemed to be in the
Nowhere could the work of a human hand be perceived. Not
a group of huts, not a solitary cabin, not a fishery on the shore. No
smoke curling in the air betrayed the presence of man. It is true, a
distance of nearly thirty miles separated the observers from the ex-
treme points, that is, of the tail which extended to the southwest,
and it would have been difficult, even to Peneroft's eyes, to discover a
habitation there. Neither could the curtain of verdure, which covered
three-quarters of the island, be raised to see if it did not shelter some
straggling village. But in general the islanders live on the shores
of the narrow spaces which emerge above the waters of the Pacific,
and this shore appeared to be an absolute desert.
Until a more complete exploration, it might be admitted that
the island was uninhabited. But was it frequented, at least occa-
sionally, by the natives of neighboring islands? It was difficult to
reply to this question. No land appeared within a radius of fifty
miles. But fifty miles could be easily crossed, either by Malay proas
or by the large Polynesian canoes. Everything depended on the
position of the island, of its isolation in the Pacific, or of its proximity
to archipelagoes. Would Cyrus Harding be able to find out their
latitude and longitude without instruments? It would be difficult
In the doubt, it was best to take precautions against a possible descent
of neighboring natives.
The exploration of the island was ~finished, its shape determined,
its features made out, its extent calculated, the water and mountain
systems ascertained. The disposition of the forests and plains had
been marked in a general way on the reporter's plan. They had
now only to descend the mountain slopes again, and explore the soil,
in the triple point of view, of its mineral, vegetable, and animal
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
But before giving his companions the signal for departure, Cyrus
Harding said to them in a calm, grave voice,--
"Here, my friends, is the small corner of land upon which the
hand of the Almighty has thrown us. We are going to live here;
a long time, perhaps. Perhaps, too, unexpected help will arrive,
if some ship passes by chance. I say by chance, because this is an
unimportant island; there is not even a port in which ships could
anchor, and it is to be feared that it is situated out of the route
usually followed, that is to say, too much to the south for the ships
which frequent the archipelagoes of the Pacific, and too much to the
north for those which go to Australia by doubling C~ape Horn. I
wish to hide nothing of our position from you--"
"And you are right, my dear Cyrus," replied the reporter, with
animation. "You have to deal with men. They have confidence in
you, and you can depend upon them. Is it not so, my friends"
"I will obey you in everything, captain," said Herbert, seizing
the engineer's hand.
"My master always, and everywhere!" cried Neb.
"As for me," said the sailor, "if I ever grumble at work, my
name's not Jack Pencroft, and if you like, captain, we will make
a little America of this island! We wil build towns, we will establish
railways, start telegraphs, and one fine day, when it is quite changed,
quite put in order and quite civilized, we wil go and offer it to the
government of the Union. Only, I ask one thing."
"W~hat is that?" said the reporter.
"It is, that we do not consider ourselves castaways, but colonists,
who have come here to settle." Harding could not help smiling, and
the sailor's idea was adopted. He then thanked his companions, and
added, that he would rely on their energy and on the aid of Heaven.
"Well, now let us set off to the Chimneys!" cried Pencroft.
"One minute, my friends," said the engineer. "It seems to me
it would be a good thing to give a name to this island, as well as
to the capes, promontories, and watercourses, which we can see."
"Very good," said the reporter. "In the future, that will sim-
plify the instructions which we shall have to give and follow."
"Indeed," said the sailor, "already it is something to be able to
say where one is going, and where one has come from. At least, it
looks like somewhere."
"The Chimneys, for example," said Herbert.
"Exactly!" replied Peneroft. "That name was the most con-
venient, and it came to me quite of myself. Shall we keep the name
of the Chimneys for our fist encampment, captain?"
"Yes, Pencroft, since you have so christened it."
uopyragrar oy unarres ourtuners aomn
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
"Good! as for the others, that will be easy," returned the sailor,
who was in high spirits. "Let us give them names, as the Robinsons
did, whose story Herbert has often read to me; Providence Bay,
Whale Point, Cape Disappointment!"
"Or, rather, the names of Captain Harding," said Herbert, "of
Mr. Spilett, of Neb l--"
"My namely" cried Neb, showing his sparkling white teeth.
"WThy not?" replied Pencroft. "Port Neb, that would do very
well And Cape Gideon--"
"I should prefer borrowing names from our country," said the
reporter, "which would remind us of America."
"Yes, for the principal ones," then said Cyrus Harding; "for
those of the bays and seas, I admit it willingly. We might give to
that vast bay on the east the name of Union Bay, for example; to that
large hollow on the south, Washington Bay; to the mountain upon
which we are standing, that of Mount Franklin; to that lake which
is extended under our eyes, that of Lake Grant; nothing could be
better, my friends. These names will recall our country, and those
of the great citizens who have honored it; but for the rivers, gulfs,
capes, and promontories, which we perceive from the top of this
mountain, rather let us choose names which will recall their particular
shape. They will impress themselves better on our memory, and at
the same time wil be more practical. The shape of the island is
so strange that we shall not be troubled to imagine wphat it resembles.
As to the streams which we do not know as yet, in different parts
of the forest which we shall explore later, the creeks which after-
wards wil be discovered, we can christen them as we find them. What
do you think, my friends?"
The engineer's proposal was unanimously agreed to by his com-
panions. The island was spread out under their eyes like a map,
and they had only to give names to all its angles and points. Gideon
Spilett would write them down, and the geographical nomenclature
of the island would be definitely adopted.
First of all, they named the two bays and the mountain, Union
Bay, Washington Bay, and Mount ~Frankin, as the engineer had
"Now," said the reporter, "to this peninsula at the southwest of
the island, I propose to give the name of Serpentine Peninsula, and
that of Reptile-end to the bent tail which terminates it, for it is just
like a reptile's tail."
"Adopted," said the engineer.
"Now," said Herbert, pointing to the other extremity of the
THE MYSTERIOUeS ISLAND
island, "let us call this gulf which is so singularly like a pair of open
jaws, Shark Gulf."
"Capital!" cried Pencroft, "and we can complete the resemblance
by naming the two parts of the jaws Mandible Cape."
"But there are two capes," observed the reporter.
"Well," replied Peneroft, "we can have North Mandible Cape
and South Mandible Cape."
"They are inscribed," said Spilett.
"There is only the point at the southeastern extremity of the
island to be named," said Pencroft.
"That is, the extremity of Union Bay?" asked Herbert.
"Claw Cape," cried Neb directly, who also wished to be god-
father to some part of his domain.
In truth, Neb had found an excellent name, for this cape was
very like the powerful claw of the fantastic animal which this sin-
gularly-shaped island represented.
Pencroft was delighted at the turn things had taken, and their
imaginations soon gave to the river which furnished the settlers with
drinking water and near which the balloon had thrown them, the
name of the Mercy, in true gratitude to Providence. To the islet
upon which the castaways had first landed, the name of Safety Island;
to the plateau which crowned the high granite precipice above the
Chimneys, and from whence the gaze, could embrace the whole of
the vast bay, the name of Prospect Heights.
Lastly, all the masses of impenetrable wood which covered the
Serpentine Peninsula were named the forests of the Far West.
The nomenclature of the visible and known parts of the island
was thus finished, and later, they would complete it as they madie
As to the points of the compass, the engineer had roughly fixed
them by the height and position of the sun, which placed Union Bay
and Prospect Heights to the east. But the next day, by taking the
exact hour of the rising and setting of the sun, and by marking its
position between this rising and setting, he reckoned to fix the north
of the island exactly, for, in consequence of its situation in the south-
ern hemisphere, the sun, at the precise moment of its culmination,
passed in the north and not in the south, as, in its apparent move-
ment, it seems to do, to those places situated in the northern hemi-
Everything was fCinished, and the settlers had only to descend
Mount Franklin to return to the Chimneys, when Peneroft cried
"Welll we are preciously stupid!"
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
"W7hy?" asked Gideon Spilett, who had closed his notebook and
risen to depart.
"Why! our island! we have forgotten to christen it!"
Herbert was going to propose to give it the engineer's name and
all his companions would have applauded him, when Cyrus Harding
"Let us give it the name of a great citizen, my friends; of him
who now struggles to defend the unity of the American Republic I
Let us call it Lincoln Island l"
The engineer's proposal was replied to by three hurrahs.
And that evening, before sleepmg, the new colonists talked of
their absent country; they spoke of the terrible war which stained
it with blood; they could not doubt that the South would soon be
subdued, and that the cause of the North, the cause of justice, would
triumph, thanks to Grant, thanks to Lincoln!
Now this happened the 30th of March, 1865. They little knew
that sixteen days afterwards a frightful crime would be committed
in Washington, and that on Good Friday Abraham Lincoln would
fall by the hand of a fanatic.
REGULATING THE WATCHES--PENCROFT IS SATISFIED--A SUSPICIOUS
SMOKE--COURSE OF RED CREEK--THE FLORA OF LINCOLN ISLAND--
THE FAUNA MOUNTAIN PHEASANTS CHASING KANGAROOS AN
AGOUTI--LAKE GRANT--RETURN TO THE CHIMNEYS.
THEY now began the descent of the mountain. Climbing down the
crater, they went round the cone and reached their encampment of
the previous night. Pencroft thought it must be breakfast-time, and
the watches of the reporter and engineer were therefore consulted
to find out the hour.
That of Gideon Spilett had been preserved from the seawater,
as he had been thrown at once on the sand out of reach of the waves.
It was an instrument of excellent quality, a perfect pocket chrono-
meter, which the reporter had not forgotten to wind up carefully
As to the engineer's watch, it, of course, had stopped during the
time which he had passed on the downs.
The engineer now wound it up, and ascertaining by the height
of the sun that it must be about nine o'clock in the morning, he put
his watch at that hour.
Gideon Spilett was about to do the same, when the engineer,
stopping his hand, said,--
"No, my dear Spilett, wait. You have kept the Richmond time,
have you not?"
"Consequently, your watch is set by the meridian of that town,
which is almost that of Washington?"
"Very well, keep it.thus. Content yourself with winding it up
very exactly, but do not touch the hands. This may be of use to us."
"What will be the good of that?" thought the sailor.
They ate, and so heartily, that the store of game and almonds
was totally exhausted. But Pencroft was not at all uneasy, they
would supply themselves on the way. Top, whose share had been very
much to his taste, would know how to find some fresh game among
the brushwood. Moreover, the sailor thought of simply asking the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
engineer to manufacture some powder and one or two fowling-pieces;
he supposed there would be no difficulty in that.
On leaving the plateau, the captain proposed to his companions
to return to the Chimneys by a new way. He wished to reconnoiter
Lake Grant, so magnificently framed in trees. They -therefore fol-
lowed the crest of one of the spurs, between which the creek that
supplied the lake probably had its source. In talking, the settlers
already employed the names which they had just chosen, which sin-
gularly facilitated the exchange of their ideas. Herbert and Pencroft
-the one young and the other very boyish--were enchanted, and
while walking, the sailor said,--
"Hey, Herbert I how capital it sounds! It will be impossible to
lose ourselves, my boy, since, whether we follow the way to Lake
Grant, or whether we join the Mercy through the woods of the Far
West, we shall be certain to arrive at Prospect Heights, and, con-
sequently, at Union Bay 1"
It had been agreed, that without forming a compact band, the
settlers should not stray away from each other. It was very certain
that the thick forests of the island were inhabited by dangerous ani-
mals, and it was prudent to be on their guard. In general, Pencroft,
Herbert, and Neb, walked first, preceded by Top, who poked his
nose into every bush. The reporter and the engineer went together,
Gideon Spilett ready to note every incident, the engineer silent for
the most part, and only stepping aside toi pick up sometimes one
thing, sometimes another, a mineral or vegetable substance, which
he put into his pocket without making any remark.
"What can he be picking up ?" muttered Peneroft. "'I have looked
in vain for anything that's worth~ the trouble of stooping for."
Towards ten o'6iock the little band descended the last declivities
of Mount Franklin. As yet the ground was scantily strewn with
bushes and trees. They were walking over yellowish calcinated earth,
forming a plain of nearly a mile long, which extended to the edge
of the wood. Great blocks of that basalt, which, according to Bischof,
takes three hundred and fifty millions of years to cool, strewed the
plain, very confused in some places. However, there were here no
traces of lava, which was spread more particularly over the northern
Cyrus Harding expected to reach, without incident, the course
of the creek, which he supposed flowed under the trees at the border
of the plain, when he saw Herbert running hastily back, while Neb
and the sailor were hiding behind the rocks.
"What's the matter, my boy?" asked Spilett.
2 An American name for a small watercourse.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
"Smoke," replied Herbert. "We have seen smoke among the
rocks, a hundred paces from us."
"Men in this place?" cried the reporter.
"We must avoid showing ourselves before knowing with whom
we have to deal," replied Cyrus Harding. "I trust that there are
no natives on this island; I dread them more than anything else.
Where is Top?"
"(Top is on before."
"And he doesn't bark?"
"That is strange. However, we must try to call. him back."
In a few moments, the engineer, Gideon Spilett, and Herbert
had rejoined their two companions, and like them, they kept out of
sight behind the heaps of basalt.
From thence they clearly saw smoke of a yellowish color rising
in the air.
Top was recalled by a slight whistle from his master, and the
latter, signing to his companions to wait for him, glided away among
the rocks. The colonists, motionless, anxiously awaited the result
of this exploration, when a shout from the engineer made them hasten
forward. They soon joined him, and were at once struck with a
disagreeable odor which impregnated the atmosphere.
The odor, easily recognized, was enough for the engineer to guess
what the smoke was which at first, not without cause, had startled
"This fie," said he, "or rather, this smoke is produced by nature
alone. There is a sulphur spring there, which will effectually cure
all our sore throats."
"Captain!" cried Peneroft. "What a pity that I haven't got a
The settlers then directed their steps towards the place from
which the smoke escaped. They there saw a sulphur spring which
flowed abundantly between the rocks, and its waters discharged a
strong sulphuric acid odor, after having absorbed the oxygen of the
Cyrus Harding, dipping in his hand, felt the water oily to the
touch. He tasted it and found it rather sweet. As to its tempera-
ture, that he estimated at ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit. H~erbert
having asked on what he based this calculation,--
"It's quite simple, my boy," said he, "for, in plunging my hand
mnto the water, I felt no sensation either of heat or cold. Therefore
it has the same temperature as the human body, which is about ninety-
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
The sulphur spring not being of any actual use to the settlers,
they proceeded towards the thick border of the forest, which began
some hundred paces off.
There, ats they had conjectured, the waters of the stream flowed
clear and limpid between high banks of red earth, the color of which
betrayed the presence of oxide of iron. From this color, the name
of Red Creek was immediately given to the watercourse.
It was only a large stream, deep and clear, formed of the moun-
tain water, which, half river, half torrent, here rippling peacefully
over the sand, there chafing against the rocks or dashing down in
a cascade, ran towards the lake, over a distance of a mile and a half,
its breadth varying from thirty to forty feet. Its waters were sweet,
and it was supposed that those of the lake were so also. A fortunate
circumstance, in the event of their finding on its borders a more
suitable dwelling than the Chimneys.
As to the trees, which some hundred feet downwards shaded the
banks of the creek, they belonged, for the most part, to the species
which abound in the temperate z;one of America and Tasmania, and
no longer to those conifers observed in that portion of the island
already explored to some miles from Prospect Heights. At this
time of the year, at the commencement of the month of April, which
represents the month of October, in this hemisphere, that is, the begin-
ning of autumn, they were still in full leaf. They consisted princi-
pally of casuarinas and eucalypti, some of which next year would
yield a sweet manna, similar to the manna of the East. Clumps of
Australian cedars rose on the sloping banks, which were also covered
with the high grass called "tussac" in New Holland; but the cocoa-
nut, so abundant in the archipelagoes of the Pacific, seemed to be
wanting in the island, the latitude, doubtless, being too low.
"W~hat a pityl" said Herbert, "such a useful tree, and which has
such beautiful nuts!"
As to the birds, they swarmed among the scanty branches of the
eucalypti and casuarinas, which did not hinder the display of their
wings. Black, white, or gray cockatoos, paroquets, with plumage
of all colors, kingfishers of a sparkling green and crowned with red,
blue lories, and various other birds appeared on all sides, as through
a prism, fluttering about and producing a deafening clamor. Sud-
denly, a strange concert of discordant voices resounded in the midst
of a thicket. The settlers heard successively the song of birds, the
cry of quadrupeds, and a sort of clacking which they might have
believed to have escaped from the lips of a native. Neb and Herbert
rushed towards the bush, forgetting even the most elementary prin-
ciples of prudence. Happily, they found there, neither a formidable
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
wild beast nor a dangerous native, but merely half a dozenmoin
and singing birds, known as mountain pheasants. A few klu
blows from a stick soon put an end to their concert, and procured
excellent food for the evening's dinner.
Herbert also discovered some magnificent pigeons with bronzed
wings, some superbly crested, others draped in green, like their con-
geners at Port-Macquarie; but it was possible to reach them, or
the crows and magpies which flew away in flocks.
A charge of small shot would have made great slaughter among
these birds, but the hunters were still limited to sticks and stones,
and these primitive weapons proved very insufficient.
Their insufficiency was still more clearly shown when a troop of
quradrupeds, jumping, bounding, making leaps of thirty feet, regular
flying mammiferste, fled over the thickets, so quickly and at such a
height, that one would have thought that they passed from one tree
to another like squirrels.
"Kangaroos!" cried Herbert.
"Are they good to eat?" asked Pencroft.
"Stewed," replied the reporter, "their flesh is equal to the best
Gideon Spilett had not finished this exciting sentence when the
sailor, followed by Neb and Herbert, darted on the kangaroo's track.
Cyrus Harding called them back in vain. But it was in vain too for
the hunters to pursue such agile game, which went bounding away
like balls. After a chase of five minutes, they lost their breath, and
at the same time all sight of the creatures, which disappeared in the
wood. Top .was not more successful than his masters.
"Captain," said Pencroft, when the engineer and the reporter
had rejoined them, "Captain, you see quite well we can't get on
unless we make a few guns. Will that be possible?"
"Perhaps," replied the engineer, "but we will begin by first manu-
facturing some bows and arrows, and I don't doubt that you will
become as clever in the use of them as the Australian hunters."
"Bows and arrows!" said Pencroft scornfully. "That's all very
well for children!"
"'Don't be proud, friend Peneroft," replied the reporter. "Bows
and arrows were suffcient for centuries to stain the earth with blood.
Powder is but a thing of yesterday, and war is as old as the human
"Faith, that's true, Mr. Spilett," replied the sailor, "and I always
speak too quickly. You must excuse me!"
Meanwhile, Herbert constant to his favorite science, Natural
History, reverted to the kangaroos, saying,--
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
"Besides, we had to deal just now with the species which is most
difficult to catch. They were giants with long gray fur; but if I
am not mistaken, there exist black and red kangaroos, rock kangaroos,
and rat kangaroos, which are more easy to get hold of. It is reckoned
that there are about a dozen species--"
"Herbert," replied the sailor sententiously, "there is only one
species of kangaroo to me, that is 'kangaroo on the spit,' and it's
just the one we haven't got this evening"
They could not help laughing at Master Peneroft's new classi-
fication. The honest sailor did not hide his regret at being reduced
for dinner to the singing pheasants, but fortune once more showed
itself obliging to him.
In fact, Top, who felt that his interest was concerned went and
ferreted everywhere with an instinct doubled by a ferocious appetite.
It was even probable that if some piece of game did fall into his
clutches, none would be left for the hunters, if Top was hunting on
his own account; but Neb watched him and he did well.
Towards three o'clock the dog disappeared in the brushwood, and
gruntings showed that he was engaged in a struggle with some animal.
Neb rushed after him, and soon saw Top eagerly devouring a quad-
ruped, which ten seconds later would have been past recognizing in
Top's stomach. But fortunately the dog had fallen upon a brood,
and besides the victim he was devouring, two other rodents--the ani-
mals in question belonged to that order-lay strangled on the turf.
Neb reappeared triumphantly holding one of the rodents in each
hand. Their size exceeded that of a rabbit, their hair was yellow,
mingled with greenish spots, and they had the merest rudiments of
The citizens of the Union were at no loss for the right name of
these rodents. They were maras, a sort of agouti, a little larger than
their congeners of tropical countries, regular American rabbits, with
long ears, jaws armed on each side with ~five molars, which distinguish
"Hurrah!" cried Pencroft, "the roast has arrived! and now we
can go home."
The walk, interrupted for an instant, was resumed. The limpid
waters of the Red Creek flowed under an arch of casuarinas, bank-
sias, and gigantic gum-trees. Superb lilacs rose to a height of twenty
feet. Other arborescent species, unknown to the young naturalist,
bent over the stream, which could be heard murmuring beneath the
bowers of verdure.
Meanwhile the stream grew much wider, and Cyrus IHarding
supposed that they would soon reach its mouth. In fact, on emerg-
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
ing from beneath a thick clump of beautiful trees, it appeared all
The explorers had arrived on the western shore of Lake Grant.
The place was well worth looking at. This extent of water, of a
circumference of nearly seven miles and an area of two hundred and
fifty acres, reposed in a border of diversified trees. Towards the
east, through a curtain of verdure, picturesquely raised in some places,
sparkled an horizon of sea. The lake was curved at the north, which
contrasted with the sharp outline of its lower part. Numerous aquatic
birds frequented the shores of this little Ontario, in which the thousand
isles of its American namesake were represented by a rock which
emerged from its surface, some hundred feet from the southern shore.
There lived in harmony several couples of kingfshers perched on a
stone, grave, motionless, watching for fish, then darting down, they
plunged in with a sharp cry, and reappeared with their prey in their
beaks. On the shores and on the islets, strutted wild ducks, pelicans,
water-hens, red-beaks, philedons, furnished with a tongue like a brush,
and one. or two specimens of the splendid menura, the tail of which
expands gracefully like a lyre.
As to the water of the lake, it was sweet, limpid, rather dark,
and from certain bubblings, and the concentric circles which crossed
each other on the surface, it could not be doubted that it abounded
"This lake is really beautiful!" said Gideon Spilett. "We could
live on its borders!"
"We will live there!" replied Harding.
The settlers, wishing to return to the Chimneys by the shortest
way, descended towards the angle formed on the south by the junction
of the lake's bank. It was not without difficulty that they broke a
path through the thickets and brushwood which ~had never been put
aside by the hand of man, and they thus went towards the shore, so
as to arrive at the north of Prospect Heights. Two miles were cleared
in this direction, and then, after they had passed the last curtain of
trees, appeared the plateau, carpeted with thick turf, and beyond
that the infinite sea.
To return to the Chimneys, it was enough to cross the plateau
obliquely for the space of a mile, and then to descend to the elbow
formed by the first detour of the Mercy. But the engineer desired
to know how and where the overplus of the water from the lake
escaped, and the exploration was prolonged under the trees for a
mile and a half towards the north. It was most probable that an
overall existed somewhere, and doubtless through a cleft in the
granite. This lake was only, in short, an immense center basin, which
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
was filed by degrees by the creek, and its waters must necessarily
pass to the sea by some fall. If it was so, the engineer thought that
it might perhaps be possible to utilize this fall and borrow its power,
actually lost without profit to any one. They continued then to fol-
low the shores of Lake Grant by climbing the plateau; but, after
having gone a mile in this direction, Cyrus Harding had not been
able to discover the overall, which, however, must exist somewhere.
It was then half-past four. In order to prepare for dinner it
was necessary that the settlers should return to their dwelling. The
little band retraced their steps, therefore, and by the left bank of the
Mercy Cyrus Harding and his companions arrived at the Chimneys.
The ~fire was lighted, and Neb and I'encroft, on whom the fune-
tions of cooks naturally devolved, to the one in his quality of negro,
to the other in that of sailor, quickly prepared some broiled agouti,
to which they did great justice.
The repast at length terminated; at the moment when each one
was about to give himself up to sleep, Cyrus Harding drew from
his pocket little specimens of different sorts of minerals, and just
"My friends, this is iron mineral, this a pyrite, this is clay, this
is lime, and this is coal. Nature gives us these things. It is our
business to make a right use of them. To-morrow we will commence
WHAT IS FOUND UPON TOP MANUFACTURING BOWS AND ARROWS- A
BRICK-FIELD A POTTERY DIFFERENT COOKING UTENSILS THE
FIRST BOILED MEAT--WORMWOOD--THE SOUTHERN CROSS-AN IM-
PORTANT ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATION.
well1, Captain, where are we going to begin?" asked Pencroft
next morning of the engineer.
"At the beginning," replied Cyrus Harding.
And in fact, the settlers were compelled to begin "at the very
beginning." They did not possess even the tools necessary for making
tools, and they were not even in the condition of nature, who, "having
time, husbands her strength." They had no time, since they had
to provide for the immediate wants of their existence, and though,
profiting by acquired experience, they had nothing to invent, still
they had everything to make; their iron and their steel were as yet
only in the state of minerals, their earthenware in the state of clay,
their linen and their clothes in the state of textile materiaL
It must be said, however, that the settlers were "men" in the
complete and higher sense of the word. The engineer Harding could
not have been seconded by more intelligent companions, nor with
more devotion and zeal. He had tried them. He knew their abilities.
Gideon Spilett, a talented reporter, having learned everything
so as to be able to speak of everything, would contribute largely with
his head and hands to the colonization of the island. He would not
draw back from any task: a determined sportsman, he would make
a business of what till then had only been a pleasure to him.
Herbert, a gallant boy, already remarkably well informed in the
natural sciences, would render great service to the common cause.
Neb was devotion personified. Clever, intelligent, indefatigable,
robust, with iron health, he knew a little about the work of the forge,
and could not fail to be very useful in the colony.
As to Peneroft, he had sailed over every sea, a carpenter in the
dockyards at Brooklyn, assistant tailor in the vessels of the state,
gardener, cultivator, during his holidays, etc., and like all seamen,
fit for anything, he knew how to do everything.
It would have been difficult to unite ftive men, better fitted to
struggle against fate, more certain to triumph over it.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS
"At the beginning," Cyrus Harding had said. Now this begin-
ning of which the engineer spoke was the construction of an apparatus
which would serve to transform the natural substances. The part
which heat plays in these transformations is known. Now fuel,
wood or coal, was ready for immediate use, an oven must be built
to use it.
"'What is this oven for?" asked Pencroft.
"To make the pottery which we have need of," replied Harding.
"And of what shaUl we make the oven?"
"And the bricks?"
"With clay. Let us start, my friends. To save trouble, we will
establish our manufactory at the place of production. Neb will bring
provisions, and there will be no lack of fire to cook the food."
"No," replied the reporter; "but if there is a lack of food, for
want of instruments for the chase?"
"Ah, if we only had a knife" cried the sailor.
"Well?" asked Cyrus Harding.
"Well! I would soon make a bow and arrows, and then there
would be plenty of game in the larder!"
"Yes, a knife, a sharp blade--" said the engineer, as if he was
speaking to himself.
At this moment his eyes fell upon Top, who was running about
on the shore. Suddenly Harding's face became animated.
"Top, here," said he.
The dog came at his master's call. The latter took Top's head
between his hands, and unfastening the collar which the animal wore
round his neck, he broke it in two, saying,--
"There are two knives, Peneroft l"
Two hurrahs from the sailor was the reply. Top's collar was
made of a thin piece of tempered steel. They had only to sharpen
it on a piece of sandstone, then to raise the edge on a fCiner stone.
Now sandstone was abundant on the beach, and two hours after the
stock of tools in the colony consisted of two sharp blades, which were
easily fixed in solid handles.
The production of these their fist tools was hailed as a triumph.
It was indeed a valuable result of their labor, and a very opportune
one. They set out. Cyrus Harding proposed that they should return
to the western shore of the lake, where the day before he had noticed
the clayey ground of which he possessed a specimen. They therefore
followed the bank of the Mercy, traversed Prospect Heights, and
after a walk of fLive miles or more they reached a glade, situated two
hundred feet from Lake Grant.
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INGEST IEID E9X5RB106_CV61O4 INGEST_TIME 2012-03-02T22:58:25Z PACKAGE AA00009625_00001
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC