The Baldwin Library
Turning a turtle.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
AUTHOR OF TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA," "AROUND
THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS," "THE FUR COUNTRY," ETC. ETC.
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY
W. H. G. KINGSTON
NEW AND CHEAPER EDITION
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY
it. iuistan's gB)us
FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, E.C.
Conversation on the subject of the bullet-Construction of a
canoe-Hunting-At the top of a kauri-Nothing to attest
the presence of man-Neb and Herbert's prize-Turning a
turtle-The turtle disappears-Cyrus Harding's explanation.
First trial of the canoe-A wreck on the coast-Towing-Flotsam
Point-Inventory of the case : tools, weapons, instruments,
clothes, books, utensils-What Pencroft misses-The Gospel
-A verse from the sacred book 15
The start-The rising tide-Elms and different plants-The
jacamar-Aspect of the forest-Gigantic eucalypti-The
reason they are called fever trees "-Troops of monkeys-A
water-fall-The night encampment 30
Journey to the coast-Troops of monkeys-A new river-The
reason the tide was not felt-A woody shore-Reptile promon-
tory-Herbert envies Gideon Spilett-Explosion of bamboos 45
Proposal to return by the southern shore-Configuration of the
coast-Searching for the supposed wreck-A wreck in the
air-Discovery of a small natural port-At midnight on the
banks of the Mercy-The canoe adrift 58
Pencroft's halloos-A night in the Chimneys-Herbert's arrows-
The captain's project-An unexpected explanation-What
has happened in Granite House-How a new servant enters
the service of the colonists 74
Plans-A bridge over the Mercy-Mode adopted for making an
island of Prospect Heights-The draw-bridge-Harvest-The
stream-The poultry-yard-A pigeon-house-The two onagas
-The cart-Excursion to Port Balloon 89
Linen-Shoes of seal-leather-Manufacture of pyroxyle-Garden-
ing-Fishing-Turtle-eggs-Improvement of Master Jup-
The corral-Musmon hunt-New animal and vegetable
possessions-Recollections of their native land 103
Bad weather-The hydraulic lift-Manufacture of glass-ware-The
bread-tree-Frequent visits to the corral-Increase of the
flock-The reporter's question-Exact position of Lincoln
Island-Pencroft's proposal I17
Boat-building-Second crop of corn-Huntingkoalas-A new'plant,
more pleasant than useful-Whale in sight-A harpoon from
the vineyard-Cutting up the whale-Use for the bones-
End of the month of May-Pencroft has nothing left to wish
for .. 130
Winter-Felling wood-The mill-Pencroft's fixed idea-The
bones-To what use an albatross may be put-Fuel for the
future-Top and Jup-Storms-Damage to the poultry-yard
-Excursion to the marsh-Cyrus Harding alone-Exploring
the well .. .. 43
The rigging of the vessel-An attack from foxes-Jup wounded-
Jup cured-Completion of the boat-Pencroft's triumph-The
Bonadventure's trial trip to the south of the island-An
unexpected document .. 60
Departure decided upon-Conjectures-Preparations-The three
passengers-First night-Second night-Tabor Island-
Searching the shore-Searching the wood-No one-Animals
-Plants-A dwelling-Deserted 179
The inventory-Night-A few letters-Continuation of the search
-Plants and animals-Herbert in great danger-Onboard-
The departure-Bad weather-A gleam of reason-Lost on
the sea-A timely light 194
The return-Discussion--Cyrus Harding and the stranger-Port
Balloon-The engineer's devotion-A touching incident-
Tears flow 210
A mystery to be cleared up-The stranger's first words-Twelve
years on the islet-Avowal which escapes him-The disap-
pearance-Cyrus .Harding's confidence-Construction of a
mill-The first bread-An act of devotion-Honest hands 224
Still alone-The stranger's request-The farm established at the
corral-Twelve years ago-The boatswain's mate of the
"Britannia"-Left on Tabor Island-Cyrus Harding's hand
-The mysterious document .241
Conversation-Cyrus Harding and Gideon Spilett-An idea of
the engineer's-The electric telegraph-The wires-The
battery-The alphabet-Fine season-Prosperity of the
colony-Photography-An appearance of snow-Two years
on Lincoln Island. 257
Recollections of their native land-Probable future-Project for
surveying the coasts of the island-Departure on the i6th of
April-Sea-view of Reptile End-The basaltic rocks of the
western coast-Bad weather-Night comes on-New incident 273
A night at sea-Shark Gulf-Confidences-Preparations for winter
-Forwardness of the bad season-Severe cold-Work in the
interior-In six months-A photographic negative-Unex-
pected incident. 288
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Turning a turtle .. 11
Flotsam and Jetsam .. 22
Unpacking the marvellous chest .24
Pencroft's superstition 28
Is it tobacco ? 34
The halt for breakfast 36
Denizens of the forest 47
The sea! 50
At that moment a shot struck the jaguar between the eyes, and it
fell dead 56
"Now there's something to explain the bullet !" exclaimed Pencroft 66
A wreck in the air 68
There was no longer a ladder 73
The invaders of Granite House .. 80
Capturing the orang .86
Engaging the new servant 88
Building the bridge 94
Pencroft's scarecrows .. .. 96
The settlers' new shirts 104
Jup passed most of his time in the kitchen, trying to imitate Neb 109
Pencroft to the rescue 18
The glass-blowers 124
The verandah on the edge of Prospect Heights 127
The dockyard. 131
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
A valuable prize 137
Pencroft has nothing left to wish for .. 142
The messenger 149
Winter evenings in Granite House 150
He saw nothing suspicious 158
Top visiting the invalid. 168
The trial trip 174
"Luff, Pencroft, luff!" 178
The departure 182
Nearing the island. 186
Ahut! ............ 93
Herbert in danger 201
Alight! alight! 209
" Poor fellow ".murmured the engineer 213
The experiment 222
"Who are you ?" he asked in a hollow voice 226
The stranger .. 227
"Now for a good wind" .236
He seized the jaguar's throat with one powerful hand 238
The stranger's story 246
"Here is my hand" said the engineer 256
The engineer at work .264
Jup sitting for his portrait 270
The snowy sheet rose and dispersed in the air 271
Another mystery 287
Returning from a sporting excursion 301
The photographic negative 303
CONVERSATION ON THE SUBJECT OF THE BULLET-CON-
STRUCTION OF A CANOE-HUNTING-AT THE TOP
OF A KAURI-NOTHING TO ATTEST THE PRESENCE
OF MAN-NEB AND H.ERBERT'S PRIZE-TURNING A
TURTLE-THE TURTLE DISAPPEARS-CYRUS HARD-
IT was now exactly seven months since the balloon
voyagers had been thrown on Lincoln Island. During that
time, notwithstanding the researches they had made, no
human being had been discovered. No smoke even had
betrayed the presence of man on the surface of the island.
No vestiges of his handiwork showed that either at an early
or at a late period had man lived there. Not only did it
now appear to be uninhabited by any but themselves, but
the colonists were compelled to believe that it never had
been inhabited. And now, all this scaffolding of reasoning
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
fell before a simple ball of metal, found in the body of an
inoffensive rodent! In fact, this bullet must have issued
from a fire-arm, and who but a human being could have
used such a weapon ?
When Pencroft had placed the bullet on the table, his
companions looked at it with intense astonishment. All
the consequences likely to result from this incident, not-
withstanding its apparent insignificance, immediately took
possession of their minds. The sudden apparition of a
supernatural being could not have startled them more
Cyrus Harding did not hesitate to give utterance to the
suggestions which this fact, at once surprising and unex-
pected, could not fail to raise in his mind. He took the
bullet, turned it over and over, rolled it between his finger
and thumb ; then, turning to Pencroft, he asked,-
"Are you sure that the peccary wounded by this bullet
was not more than three months old ? "
"Not more, captain," replied Pencroft. "It was still
sucking its mother when I found it in the trap."
"Well," said the engineer, "that proves that within three
months a gun-shot was fired in Lincoln Island."
"And that a bullet," added Gideon Spilett, "wounded,
though not mortally, this little animal."
"That is unquestionable," said Cyrus Harding, "and
these are the deductions which must be drawn from this
incident:.that the island was inhabited before our arrival,
or that men have landed here within three months. Did
these men arrive here voluntarily or involuntarily, by
disembarking on the shore or by being wrecked ? This
point can only be cleared up later. As'to what they were,
Europeans or Malays, enemies or friends of our race, we
cannot possibly guess; and if they still inhabit the island,
or if they have left it, we know not. But these questions
are of too much importance to be allowed to remain long
"No! a hundred times no! a thousand times no !" cried
the sailor, springing up from the table. "There are no
other men than ourselves on Lincoln Island! By my
faith The island isn't large, and if it had been inhabited,
we should have seen -some of the inhabitants long before
"In fact, the contrary would be very astonishing," said
"But it would be much more astonishing, I should
think," observed the reporter, that this peccary should have
been born with a bullet in its inside!"
"At least," said Neb seriously, "if Pencroft has not
"Look here, Neb," burst out Pencroft. "Do you think
I could have a bullet in my jaw for five or six months
without finding it out ? Where could it be hidden ? he
4 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
asked, opening his mouth to show the two-and-thirty teeth
with which it was furnished. Look well, Neb, and if you
find one hollow tooth in this set, I will let you pull out
half a dozen!"
"Neb's supposition is certainly inadmissible," replied
Harding, who, notwithstanding the gravity of his thoughts,
could not restrain a smile. It is certain that a gun has
been fired in the island, within three months at most. But
I am inclined to think that the people who landed on this
coast were only here a very short time ago, or that they
just touched here ; for if, when we surveyed the island from
the summit of Mount Franklin, it had been inhabited, we
should have seen them or we should have been seen our-
selves. It is therefore probable that within only a few
weeks castaways have been thrown by a storm on some
part of the coast. However that may be,, it is of
consequence to us to have this point settled."
"I think that we should act with caution," said the
"Such is my advice," replied Cyrus Harding, "for it is
to be feared that Malay pirates have landed on the island! "
"Captain," asked the sailor, "would it not be a good
plan, before setting out, to build a canoe in which we could
either ascend the river, or, if we liked, coast round the
island ? It will not do to be unprovided."
"Your idea is good, Pencroft," replied the engineer,
"but we cannot wait for that. It would take at least a
month to.build a boat."
"Yes, a real boat," replied the sailor; "but we do not
want one for a sea voyage, and in five days at the most, I
will undertake to construct a canoe fit to navigate the
"Five days," cried Neb, "to build a boat ?"
"Yes, Neb; a boat in the Indian fashion."
"Of wood ?" asked the negro, looking still unconvinced.
"Of wood," replied Pencroft, "or rather of bark. I
repeat, captain, that in five days the work will be
"In five days, then, be it," replied the engineer.
-"But till that time we must be very watchful," said
"Very watchful indeed, my friends," replied Harding;
"and I beg you to confine your hunting excursions to the
neighbourhood of Granite House.".
The dinner ended less gaily than Pencroft had hoped.
So, then, the island was, or had been, inhabited by others
than the settlers. Proved as it was by the incident of the
bullet, it was hereafter an unquestionable fact, and such a
discovery could not but cause great uneasiness amongst
Cyrus Harding and Gideon Spilett, before sleeping,
conversed long about the matter. They asked themselves
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
if by chance this incident might not have some connexion
with the inexplicable way in which the engineer had been
saved, and the other peculiar circumstances which had
struck them at different times. However, Cyrus Harding,
after having discussed the pros and cons of the question,
ended by saying,-
In short, would you like to know my opinion, my dear
"Well, then, it is this: however minutely we explore
the island, we shall find nothing."
The next day Pencroft set to work. He did not mean
to build a boat with boards and planking, but simply a
flat-bottomed canoe, which would be well suited for
navigating the Mercy-above all, for approaching its
source, where the water would naturally be shallow.
Pieces of bark, fastened one to the other, would form a
light boat; and in case of natural obstacles, which would
render a portage necessary, it would be easily carried.
Pencroft intended to secure the pieces of bark by means of
nails, to insure the canoe being water-tight.
It was first necessary to select the trees which would
afford a strong and supple bark for the work. Now the
last storm had brought down a number of large birch-trees,
the bark of which would be perfectly suited for their
purpose. Some of these trees lay on the ground, and they
had only to be barked, which was the most difficult thing
of all, owing to the imperfect tools which the settlers
possessed. However, they overcame all difficulties.
Whilst the sailor, seconded by the engineer, thus
occupied himself without losing an hour, Gideon Spilett
and Herbert were not idle. They were made purveyors to
the colony. The reporter could not but admire the boy,
who had acquired great skill in handling the bow and
spear. Herbert also showed great courage and much of
that presence of mind which may justly be called "the
reasoning of bravery." These two companions of the
chase, remembering Cyrus Harding's recommendations, did
not go beyond a radius of two miles round Granite House;
but the borders of the forest furnished a sufficient tribute of
agoutis, capybaras, kangaroos, peccaries, &c.; and if the
result from the traps was less than during the cold, still the
warren yielded its accustomed quota, which might have fed
all the colony in Lincoln Island.
Often during these excursions, Herbert talked with
Gideon Spilett on the incident of the bullet, and the
deductions which the engineer drew from it, and one day-
it was the 26th of October-he said,-
"But, Mr. Spilett, do you not think it very extraordinary
that, if any castaways have landed on the island, they have
not yet shown themselves near Granite House ?"
"Very astonishing if they are still here," replied the
8 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
reporter, "but not astonishing at all if they are here no
So you think that these people have already quitted the
island ?" returned Herbert.
"It is more than probable, my boy; for if their stay was
prolonged, and above all, if they were still here, some
accident would have at last betrayed their presence."
"But if they were able to go away," observed the lad,
"they could not have been castaways."
"No, Herbert; or, at least, they were what might be
called provisional castaways. It is very possible that a
storm may have driven them to the island without destroy-
ing their vessel, and that, the storm over, they went away
"I must acknowledge one thing," said Herbert, "it is
that Captain Harding appears rather to fear than desire the
presence of human beings on our island."
"In short," responded the reporter, "there are only
Malays who frequent these seas, and those fellows are
ruffians which it is best to avoid."
"It is not impossible, Mr. Spilett," said Herbert, "that
some day or other we may find traces of their landing."
"I do not say no, my boy. A deserted camp, the ashes
of a fire, would put us on the track, and this is what we will
look for in our next expedition."
The day on which the hunters spoke thus, they were in a
part of the forest near the Mercy, remarkable for its beau-
tiful trees. There, among others, rose, to a height of nearly
200 feet above the ground, some of those superb coniferse,
to which, in New Zealand, the natives give the name of
"I have an idea, Mr. Spilett," said Herbert. "If I were
to climb to the top of one of these kauris, I could survey
the country for an immense distance round."
The idea is good," replied the reporter; but could you
climb to the top of those giants ?"
"I can at least try," replied Herbert.
The light and active boy then sprang on the first
branches, the arrangement of which made the ascent of
the kauri easy, and in a few minutes he arrived at the
summit, which emerged from the immense plain of verdure.
From this elevated situation his gaze extended over all
the southern portion of the island, from Claw Cape on the
south-east, to Reptile End on the south-west. To the
north-west rose Mount Franklin, which concealed a great
part of the horizon.
But Herbert, from the height of his observatory, could
examine all the yet unknown portion of the island which
might have given shelter to the strangers whose presence
The lad looked attentively. There was nothing in sight
on the sea, not a sail, neither on the horizon nor near the
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
island. However, as the bank of trees hid the shore, it
was possible that a vessel, especially if deprived of her
masts, might lie close to the land and thus be invisible to
Neither in the forests of the Far West was anything to
be seen. The wood formed an impenetrable screen, mea-
suring several square miles, without a break-or an opening.
It was impossible even to follow the course of the Mercy,
or to ascertain in what part of the mountain it took its
source. Perhaps other creeks also ran towards the west,
but they could not be seen.
But at last, if all indication of an encampment escaped
Herbert's sight, could he not even catch a glimpse of
smoke, the faintest trace of which would be easily discernible
in the pure atmosphere?
For an instant Herbert thought he could perceive a
slight smoke in the west, but a more attentive examination
showed that he was mistaken. He strained his eyes in
every direction, and his sight was excellent. No, decidedly
there was nothing there.
Herbert descended to the foot of the kauri, and the two
sportsmen returned to Granite House. There Cyrus Hard-
ing listened to the lad's account, shook his head and said
nothing. It was very evident that no decided opinion
could be pronounced on this question until after a complete
exploration of the island.
Two days after-the 28th of October-another incident
occurred, for which an explanation was again required.
Whilst strolling along the shore about two miles from
Granite House, Herbert and Neb were fortunate enough to
capture a magnificent specimen of the order of chelonia.
It was a turtle of the species Midas, the edible green turtle,
so called from the colour both of its shell and fat.
Herbert caught sight of this turtle as it was crawling
among the rocks to reach the sea.
"Help, Neb, help !" he cried.
Neb ran up.
"What a fine animal!" said Neb; "but how are we to
"Nothing is easier, Neb," replied Herbert. "We have
only to turn the turtle on its back, and it cannot possibly
get away. Take your spear and do as I do."
The reptile, aware of danger, had retired between its cara-
pace and plastron. They no longer saw its head or feet,
and it was motionless as a rock.
Herbert and Neb then drove their sticks underneath the
animal, and by their united efforts managed without
difficulty to turn it on its back. The turtle, which was three
feet in length, would have weighed at least four hundred
"Capital!" cried Neb; "this is something which will
rejoice friend Pencroft's heart."
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
In fact, the heart of friend Pencroft could not fail to be
rejoiced, for the flesh of the turtle, which feeds on wrack-
grass, is extremely savoury. At this moment the creature's
head could be seen, which was small, flat, but widened
behind by the large temporal fosse hidden under the
"And now, what shall we do with our prize?" said Neb.
"We can't drag it to Granite House!"
"Leave it here, since it cannot turn over," replied Her-
bert, "and we will come back with the cart to fetch it."
"That is the best plan."
However, for greater precaution, Herbert took the
trouble, which Neb deemed superfluous, to wedge up the
animal with great stones; after which the two hunters
returned to Granite House, following the beach, which the
tide had left uncovered. Herbert, wishing to surprise
Pencroft, said nothing about the "superb specimen of a
chelonian" which they had turned over on the sand; but,
two hours later, he and Neb returned with the cart to the
place where they had left it. The "superb specimen of a
chelonian" was no longer there!
Neb and Herbert stared at each other first; then they
stared about them. It was just at this spot that the turtle
had been left. The lad even found the stones which he
had used, and therefore he was certain of not being
"Well!" said Neb, "these beasts can turn themselves
"It appears so," replied Herbert, who could not under-
stand it at all, and was gazing at the stones scattered on
"Well, Pencroft will be disgusted!"
And Captain Harding will perhaps be very per-
plexed how to explain this disappearance," thought
"Look here," said Neb, who wished to hide his ill-luck,
"we won't speak about it."
"On the contrary, Neb, we must speak about it," replied
And the two, taking the cart, which there was now no use
for, returned to Granite House.
Arrived at the dockyard, where the engineer and the
sailor were working together, Herbert recounted what had
Oh! the stupids !" cried the sailor, "to have let at least
fifty meals escape!"
"But, Pencroft," replied Neb, "it wasn't our fault that the
beast got away; as I tell you, we had turned it over on its
"Then you didn't turn it over enough!" returned the
"Not enough!" cried Herbert.
14 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
And he told how he had taken care to wedge up the
turtle with stones.
"It is a miracle, then replied Pencroft.
"I thought, captain," said Herbert, "that turtles, once
placed on their backs, could not regain their feet, especially
when they are of a large size ?"
"That is true, my boy," replied Cyrus Harding.
"Then how did it manage ?"
"At what distance from the sea did you leave this
turtle?" asked the engineer, who, having suspended his
work, was reflecting on this incident.
"Fifteen feet at the most," replied Herbert.
"And the tide waslow at the time ?"
"Well," replied the engineer, "what the turtle could not
do on the sand it might have been able to do in the water.
It turned over when the tide overtook it, and then quietly
returned to the deep sea."
"Oh! what stupids we were!" cried Neb.
"That is precisely what I had the honour of telling you
before!" returned the sailor.
Cyrus Harding had given this explanation, which, no
doubt, was admissible. But was he himself convinced of
the accuracy of this explanation ? It cannot be said that
FIRST TRIAL OF THE CANOE-A WRECK ON THE COAST
-TOWING-FLOTSAM POINT-INVENTORY OF THE
CASE: TOOLS, WEAPONS, INSTRUMENTS, CLOTHES,
BOOKS, UTENSILS-WHAT PENCROFT MISSES-THE
GOSPEL-A VERSE FROM THE SACRED BOOK.
ON the 9th of October the bark canoe was entirely finished.
Pencroft had kept his promise, and a light boat, the shell
of which was joined together by the flexible twigs of the
crejimba, had been constructed in five days. A seat in the
stern, a second seat in the middle to preserve the equili-
brium, a third seat in the bows, rowlocks for the two oars,
a scull to steer with, completed the little craft, which
was twelve feet long, and did not weigh more than 200
The operation of launching it was extremely simple.
The canoe was carried to the beach and laid on the sand
before Granite House, and the rising tide floated it. Pen-
croft, who leapt in directly, manceuvred it with the scull
16 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
and declared it to be just the thing for the purpose to
which they wished to put it.
"Hurrah !" cried the sailor, who did not disdain to cele-
brate thus his own triumph. "With this we could go
"The world ?" asked Gideon Spilett.
"No, the island. Some stones for ballast, a mast and a
sail, which the captain will make for us some day, and we
shall go splendidly! Well, captain-and you, Mr. Spilett;
and you, Herbert; and you, Neb-aren't you coming to
try our new vessel? Come along we must see if it will
carry all five of us!"
This was certainly a trial which ought to be made. Pen-
croft soon brought the canoe to the shore by a narrow
passage among the rocks, and it was agreed that they
should make a trial of the boat that day by following the
shore as far as the first' point at which the rocks of the
As they embarked, Neb cried,-
"But your boat leaks rather, Pencroft."
"That's nothing, Neb," replied the sailor; "the wood
will get seasoned. In two days there won't be a single
leak, and our boat will have no more water in her than
there is in the stomach of a drunkard. Jump in I"
They were soon all seated, and Pencroft shoved off.
The weather was magnificent, the sea as calm as ii its
waters were contained within the narrow limits of a lake.
Thus the boat could proceed with as much security as if it
was ascending the tranquil current of the Mercy.
Neb took one of the oars, Herbert the other, and Pen-
croft remained in the stern in order to use the scull.
The sailor first crossed the channel, and steered close to
the southern point of the islet. A light breeze blew from
the south. No roughness was found either in the channel
or the green sea. A long swell, which the canoe scarcely
felt, as it was heavily laden, rolled regularly over the surface
of the water. They pulled out about half a mile distant
from the shore, that they might have a good view of Mount
Pencroft afterwards returned towards the mouth of the
river. The boat then skirted the shore, which, extending
to the extreme point, hid all Tadorn's Fens.
This point, of which the distance was increased by the
irregularity of the coast, was nearly three miles from the
Mercy. The settles resolved to go to its extremity, and
only go beyond it as much as was necessary to take a
rapid survey of the coast as far as Claw Cape.
The canoe followed the windings of the shore, avoiding
the rocks which fringed it, and which the rising tide began
to cover. The cliff gradually sloped away from the mouth
of the river to the point. This was formed of granite rocks,
capriciously distributed, very different from the cliff at
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Prospect Heights, and of an extremely wild aspect. It
might have been said that an immense cartload of rocks
had been emptied out there. There was no vegetation on
this sharp promontory, which projected two miles from the
forest, and it thus represented a giant's arm stretched out
from a leafy sleeve.
The canoe, impelled by the two oars, advanced without
difficulty. Gideon Spilett, pencil in one hand and note-
book in the other, sketched the coast in bold strokes.
Neb, Herbert, and Pencroft chatted, whilst examining this
part of their domain, which was new to them, and, in
proportion as the canoe proceeded towards the south, the
two Mandible Capes appeared to move, and surround
Union Bay more closely.
As to Cyrus Harding, he did not speak; he simply
gazed, and by the mistrust which his look expressed, it
appeared that he was examining some strange country.
In the meanwhile, after a voyage of three quarters of an
hour, the canoe reached the extremity of the point, and
Pencroft was preparing to return, when Herbert, rising,
pointed to a black object, saying,-
".What do I see down there on the beach ?"
All eyes turned towards the point indicated.
"Why," said the reporter, "there is something. It looks
like part of a wreck half buried in the sand."
"Ah!" cried Pencroft, I see what it is I"
THE ABANDONED. 19
"What?" asked Neb.
"Barrels, barrels, which perhaps are full," replied the
"Pull to the shore, Pencroft!" said Cyrus.
A few strokes of the oar brought the canoe into a little
creek, and its passengers leapt on shore.
Pencroft was not mistaken. Two barrels were there, half
buried in the sand, but still firmly attached to a large
chest, which, sustained by them, had floated to the moment
when it stranded on the beach.
"There has been a wreck, then, in some part of the
island," said Herbert.
"Evidently," replied Spilett.
"But what's in this chest ?" cried Pencroft, with very
natural impatience. "What's in this chest ? It is shut up,
and nothing to open it with Well, perhaps a stone-"
And the sailor, raising a heavy block, was about to break
in one of the sides of the chest, when the engineer arrested
Pencroft," said he, "can you restrain your impatience
for one hour only ?"
But, captain, just think Perhaps there is everything
we want in there!"
We shall find that out, Pencroft," replied the engineer;
"but trust to me, and do not break the chest, which may be
useful to us. We must convey it to Granite House, where
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
we can open it easily, and without breaking it. It is quite
prepared for a voyage; and, since it has floated here, it
may just as well float to the mouth of the river."
"You are right, captain, and I was wrong, as usual,"
replied the sailor.
The engineer's advice was good. In fact, tne canoe pro-
bably would not have been able to contain the articles
possibly enclosed in the chest, which doubtless was heavy,
since two empty barrels were required to buoy it up. It
was, therefore, much better to tow it to the beach at
And now, whence had this chest come? That was the
important question. Cyrus Harding and his companions
looked attentively around them, and examined the shore
for several hundred steps. No other articles or pieces
of wreck could be found. Herbert and Neb climbed
a high rock to survey the sea, but there was nothing
in sight-neither a dismasted vessel nor a ship under
However, there was no doubt that there had been a
wreck. Perhaps this incident was connected with that of
the bullet ? Perhaps strangers had landed on another part
of the island? Perhaps they were still there? But the
thought which came naturally to the settlers was, that
these strangers could not be Malay pirates, for the chest
was evidently of American or European make.
All the party returned to the chest, which was of an
unusually large size. It was made of oak wood, very
carefully closed and covered with a thick hide, which was
secured by copper nails. The two great barrels, her-
metically sealed, but which sounded hollow and empty, were
fastened to its sides by strong ropes, knotted with a skill
which Pencroft directly pronounced sailors alone could
exhibit. It appeared to be in a perfect state of preserva-
tion, which was explained by the fact that it had stranded
on a sandy beach, and not among rocks. They had no
doubt whatever, on examining it carefully, that it had not
been long in the water, and that its arrival on this coast was
recent. The water did not appear to have penetrated to
the inside, and the articles which it contained were no
It was evident that this chest had been thrown over-
board from some dismasted vessel driven towards the
island, and that, in the hope that it would reach the land,
where .they might afterwards find it, the passengers had
taken the precaution to buoy it up by means of this
"We will tow this chest to Granite House," said the
engineer, "where we can make an inventory of its con-
tents; then, if we discover any of the survivors from the
supposed wreck, we can return it to those to whom it
belongs. If we find no one-"
22 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
"We will keep it for ourselves!" cried Pencroft. "But
what in the world can there be in it ?"
The sea was already approaching the chest, and the high
tide would evidently float it. One of the ropes which
fastened the barrels was partly unlashed and used as a
cable to unite the floating apparatus with the canoe.
Pencroft and Neb then dug away the sand with their oars,
so as to facilitate the moving of the chest, towing which
the boat soon began to double the point, to which the
name of Flotsam Point was given.
The chest was heavy, and the barrels were scarcely
sufficient to keep it above water. The sailor also feared
every instant that it would get loose and sink to the
bottom of the sea. But happily his fears were not
realized, and an hour and a half after they set out-
all that time had been taken up in going a distance
of three miles-the boat touched the beach below Granite
Canoe and chest were then hauled up on the sand; and
as the tide was then going out, they were soon left high
and dry. Neb, hurrying home, brought back some tools
with which to open the chest in such a way that it might
be injured as little as possible, and they proceeded to its
inventory. Pencroft did not try to hide that he was
The sailor began by detaching the two barrels, which,
Flotsam and jetsam.
being in good condition, would of course be of use. Then
the locks were forced with a cold chisel and hammer,
and the lid thrown back. A second casing of- zinc lined
the interior of the chest, which had been evidently arranged
that the articles which it enclosed might under any cir-
cumstances be sheltered from damp.
Oh! cried Neb, suppose it's jam "
"I hope not," replied the reporter.
"If only there was--" said the sailor in a low
"What ?" asked Neb, who overheard him.
The covering of zinc was torn off and thrown back over
the sides of the chest, and by degrees numerous articles
of very varied character were produced and strewn about
on the sand. At each new object Pencroft uttered fresh
nurrahs, Herbert clapped his hands, and Neb danced-
like a nigger. There were books which made Herbert
wild with joy, and cooking utensils which Neb covered
In short, the colonists had reason to be extremely satis-
fied, for this chest contained tools, weapons, instruments,
clothes, books ; and this is the exact list of them as stated
in Gideon Spilett's note-book:-
Tools:-3 knives with several blades, 2 woodmen's axes,
2 carpenter's hatchets, 3 planes, 2 adzes, I twibil or mat-
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
tock, 6 chisels, 2 files, 3 hammers, 3 gimlets, 2 augers,
o1 bags of nails and screws, 3 saws of different sizes,
2 boxes of needles.
Weapons:-2 flint-lock guns, 2 for percussion caps,
2 breech-loader carbines, 5 boarding cutlasses, 4 sabres,
2 barrels of powder, each containing twenty-five pounds;
12 boxes of percussion caps.
Instruments :-- sextant, I double opera-glass, I tele-
scope, I box of mathematical instruments, I mariner's
compass, I Fahrenheit thermometer, I aneroid barometer,
I box containing a photographic apparatus, object-glass,
plates, chemicals, &c.
Clothes:-2 dozen shirts of a peculiar material resem-
bling wool, but evidently of a vegetable origin; 3 dozen
stockings of the same material.
Utensils:-I iron pot, 6 copper saucepans, 3 iron dishes,
o1 metal plates, 2 kettles, I portable stove, 6 table-
Books:-- Bible, I atlas, i dictionary of the different
Polynesian idioms, I dictionary of natural science, in six
volumes; 3 reams of white paper, 2 books with blank
It must be allowed," said the reporter, after the inven-
tory had been made, "that the owner of this chest was a
practical man Tools, weapons, instruments, clothes, uten-
sils, books-nothing is wanting It might really be said
B--._-- -. -.
;--_ -.-- -._
Unpacking the marvellous chest.
that he expected to be wrecked, and had prepared for it
Nothing is wanting, indeed," murmured Cyrus Harding
"And for a certainty," added Herbert, "the vessel which
carried this chest and its owner was not a Malay pirate!"
"Unless," said Pencroft, "the owner had been taken
prisoner by pirates-"
"That is not admissible," replied the reporter. "It is
more probable that an American or European vessel has
been driven into this quarter, and that her passengers,
wishing to save necessaries at least, prepared this chest and
threw it overboard."
"Is that your opinion, captain?" asked Herbert.
Yes, my boy," replied the engineer, "that may have
been the case. It is possible that at the moment, or in
expectation of a wreck, they collected into this chest dif-
ferent articles of the greatest use in hopes of finding it
again on the coast-"
"Even the photographic box!" exclaimed the sailor
"As to that apparatus," replied Harding, I do not quite
see the use of it; and a more complete supply of clothes
or more abundant ammunition would have been more
valuable to us as well as to any other castaways !"
"But isn't there any mark or direction on these instru-
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
ments, tools, or books, which would tell us something
about them ?" asked Gideon Spilett.
That might be ascertained. Each article was carefully
examined, especially the books, instruments and weapons.
Neither the weapons nor the instruments, contrary to the
usual custom, bore the name of the maker; they were,
besides, in a perfect state, and did not appear to have
been used. The same peculiarity marked the tools and
utensils; all were new, which proved that the articles had
not been taken by chance and thrown into the chest, but,
on the contrary, that the choice of the things had been
well considered and arranged with care. This was also
indicated by the second case of metal which had preserved
them from damp, and which could not have been soldered
in a moment of haste.
As to the dictionaries of natural science and Polynesian
idioms, both were English; but they neither bore the name
of the publisher nor the date of publication.
The same with the Bible printed in English, in quarto,
remarkable in a typographical point of view, and which
appeared to have been often used.
The atlas was a magnificent work, comprising maps of
every country in the world, and several planispheres
arranged upon Mercator's projection, and of which the
nomenclature was in French-but which also bore neither
date nor name of publisher.
THE ABANDONED. &/
There was nothing, therefore, on these different articles
by which they could be traced, and nothing consequently
of a nature to show the nationality of the vessel which must
have recently passed these shores.
But, wherever the chest might have come from, it
was a treasure to the settlers on Lincoln Island. Till
then, by making use of the productions of nature, they
had created everything for themselves, and, thanks to
their intelligence, they had managed without difficulty.
But did it not appear as if Providence had wished
to reward them by sending them these productions of
human industry ? Their thanks rose unanimously to
However, one of them was not quite satisfied: it was
Pencroft. It appeared that the chest did not contain
something which he evidently held in great esteem, for in
proportion as they approached the bottom of the box, his
hurrahs diminished in heartiness, and, the inventory finished,
he was heard to mutter these words :-
"That's all very fine, but you can see that there is
nothing for me in that box!"
This led Neb to say,-
"Why, friend Pencroft, what more do you expect?"
"Half a pound of tobacco," replied Pencroft seriously,
"and nothing would have been wanting to complete my
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
No one could help laughing at this speech of the
But the result of this discovery of the chest was, that
it was now more than ever necessary to explore the island
thoroughly. It was therefore agreed that the next morning
at break of day they should set out, by ascending the
Mercy so as to reach the western shore. If any castaways
had landed on the coast, it was to be feared they were
without resources, and it was therefore the more necessary
to carry help to them without delay.
During the day the different articles were carried to
Granite House, where they were methodically arranged in
the great hall.
This day-the 29th of October-happened to be a
Sunday, and, before going to bed, Herbert asked the
engineer if he would not read them something from the
"Willingly," replied Cyrus Harding.
He took the sacred volume, and was about to open it,
when Pencroft stopped him, saying,-
"Captain, I am superstitious. Open at random and
read the first verse which your eye falls upon. We.will
see if it applies to our situation."
Cyrus Harding smiled at the sailor's idea, and, yielding
to his wish, he opened exactly at a place where the leaves
were separated by a marker.
THE ABANDONED. 29
Immediately his eyes were attracted by a cross which,
made with a pencil, was placed against the eighth verse of
the seventh chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew. He
read the verse, which was this:-
'"For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
THE START-THE RISING TIDE-ELMS AND DIFFERENT
PLANTS-THE JACAMAR-ASPECT OF THE FOREST-
GIGANTIC EUCALYPTI-THE REASON THEY ARE
CALLED FEVER TREES "-TROOPS OF MONKEYS-
A WATER-FALL-THE NIGHT ENCAMPMENT.
THE next day, the 30th of October, all was ready for the
proposed exploring expedition, which recent events had
rendered so necessary. In fact, things had so come
about that the settlers in Lincoln Island no longer
needed help for themselves, but were even able to carry it
It was therefore agreed that they should ascend the
Mercy as far as the river was navigable. A great part of
the distance would thus be traversed without fatigue, and
the explorers could transport their provisions and arms
to an advanced point in the west of the island.
It was necessary to think not only of the things which
they should take with them, but also of those which they
might have by chance to bring back to Granite House. If
there had been a wreck on the coast, as was supposed,
there would be many things cast up, which would be
lawfully their prizes. In the event of this, the cart would
have been of more use than the light canoe, but it was
heavy. and clumsy to drag, and therefore more difficult to
use; this led Pencroft to express his regret that the chest
had not contained, besides "his half-pound of tobacco," a
pair of strong New Jersey horses, which would have been
very useful to the colony I
The provisions, which Neb had already packed up, con-
sisted of a store of meat and of several gallons of beer,
that is to say enough to sustain them for three days, the
time which Harding assigned for the expedition. They
hoped besides to supply themselves on the road, and Neb
took care not to forget the portable stove.
The only tools the settlers took were the two wobd-
men's axes, which they could use to cut a path through the
thick forests, as also the instruments, the telescope and
For weapons they selected the two flint-lock guns, which
were likely to be more useful to them than the percussion
fowling-pieces, the first only requiring flints which could be
easily replaced, and the latter needing fulminating caps, a
frequent use of which would soon exhaust their limited
stock. However, they took also one of the carbines and
32 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
some cartridges. As to the powder, of which there was
about fifty pounds in the barrel, a small supply of it had
to be taken, but the engineer hoped to manufacture an
explosive substance which would allow them to husband it.
To the fire-arms were added the five cutlasses well sheathed
in leather, and, thus supplied, the settlers could venture into
the vast forest with some chance of success.
It is useless to add that Pencroft, Herbert, and Neb,
thus armed, were at the summit of their happiness,
although Cyrus Harding made them promise not to fire a
shot unless it was necessary.
At six in the morning the canoe put off from the shore;
all had embarked, including Top, and they proceeded to
the mouth of the Mercy.
The tide had begun to come up half an hour before.
For several hours, therefore, there would be a current,
which it was well to profit by, for later the ebb would
make it difficult to ascend the river. The tide was already
strong, for in three days the moon would be full, and it
was enough to keep the boat in the centre of the current,
where it floated swiftly along between the high banks with-
out its being necessary to increase its speed by the aid of
the oars. In a few minutes the explorers arrived at the
angle formed by the Mercy, and exactly at the place
where, seven months before, Pencroft had made his first
raft of wood.
After this sudden angle the river widened and flowed
under the shade of great evergreen firs.
The aspect of the banks was magnificent. Cyrus Harding
and his companions could not but admire the lovely effects
so easily produced by nature with water and trees. As
they advanced the forest element diminished. On the
right bank of the river grew magnificent specimens of the
ulmaceae tribe, the precious elm, so valuable to builders,
and which withstands well the action of water. Then
there were numerous groups belonging to the same family,
amongst others one in particular, the fruit of which pro-
duces a very useful oil. Further on, Herbert remarked
the lardizabala, a twining shrub which, when bruised in
water, furnishes excellent cordage; and two or three
ebony trees of a beautiful black, crossed with capricious
From time to time, in certain places where the landing
was easy, the canoe was stopped, when Gideon Spilett,
Herbert, and Pencroft, their guns in their hands, and
preceded by Top, jumped on shore. Without expecting
game, some useful plant might be met with, and the young
naturalist was delighted with discovering a sort of wild
spinage, belonging to the order of chenopodiaceae, and
numerous specimens of cruciferae, belonging to the cabbage
tribe, which it would certainly be possible to cultivate by
transplanting. There were cresses, horse-radish, turnips,
34 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
and lastly, little branching hairy stalks, scarcely more than
three feet high, which produced brownish grains.
"Do you know what this plant is ?" asked Herbert of
"Tobacco!" cried Pencroft, who evidently had never
seen his favourite plant except in the bowl of his pipe.
"No, Pencroft," replied Herbert; this is not tobacco, it
Mustard be hanged !" returned the sailor; but if by
chance you happen to come across a tobacco-plant, my
boy, pray don't scorn that!"
"We shall find it some day !" said Gideon Spilett.
Well! exclaimed Pencroft, "when that day comes, I
do not know what more will be wanting in our island !"
These different plants, which had been carefully rooted
up, were carried to the canoe, where Cyrus Harding had
remained buried in thought.
The reporter, Herbert, and Pencroft in this manner
frequently disembarked, sometimes on the right bank,
sometimes on the left bank of the Mercy.
The latter was less abrupt, but the former more wooded.
The engineer ascertained by consulting his pocket compass
that the direction of the river from the first turn was
obviously south-west and north-east, and nearly straight
for a length of about three miles. But it was to be sup.
posed that this direction changed beyond that point, and
Is it tobacco ?
that the Mercy continued to the north-west, towards the
spurs of Mount Franklin, among which the river rose.
Duringone of these excursions, Gideon Spilett managed
to get hold of two couples of living gallinacee. They were
birds with long, thin beaks, lengthened necks, short wings,
and without any appearance of a tail. Herbert rightly
gave them the name of tinamons, and it was resolved that
they should be the first tenants of their future poultry-
But till then the guns had not spoken, and the first
report which awoke the echoes of the forest of the Far
West was provoked by the appearance of a beautiful bird,
resembling the kingfisher..
"I recognize him !" cried Pencroft, and it seemed as if
his gun went off by itself.
"What do you recognize?" asked the reporter.
"The bird which escaped us on our first excursion, and
from which we gave the name to that part of the forest."
"A jacamar !" cried Herbert.
It was indeed a jacamar, of which the plumage shines
with a metallic lustre. A shot brought it to the ground,
and Top carried it to the canoe. At the same time half a
dozen lories were brought down. The lory is of the size of
a pigeon, the plumage dashed with green, part of the wings
crimson, and its crest bordered with white. To the young
boy belonged the honour of this shot, and he was proud
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
enough of it. Lories are better food than the jacamar, the
flesh of which is rather tough, but it was difficult to
persuade Pencroft that he had not killed the king of
eatable birds. It was ten o'clock in the morning when the
canoe reached a second angle of the Mercy, nearly five
miles from its mouth. Here a halt was made for. breakfast
under the shade of some splendid trees. The river still
measured from sixty to seventy feet in breadth, and its bed
from five to six feet in depth. The engineer had observed
that it was increased by numerous affluents, but they were
unnavigable, being simply little streatns. As to the forest,
including Jacamar Wood, as well as the forests of the Far
West, it extended as far as the eye could reach. In no
place, either in the depths of the forest or under the trees
on the banks of the Mercy, was the presence of man
revealed. The explorers could not discover one suspicious
trace. It was evident that the woodman's axe had never
touched these trees, that the pioneer's knife had never
severed the creepers hanging from one trunk to another in
the midst of tangled brushwood and long grass. If cast-
aways had landed on the island, they could not have yet
quitted the shore, and it was not in the woods that the
survivors of the supposed shipwreck should be sought.
The engineer therefore manifested some impatience to
reach the western coast of Lincoln Island, which was at
least five miles distant according to his estimation.
The halt for breakfast.
The voyage was continued, and as the Mercy appeared
to flow not towards the shore, but rather towards Mount
Franklin, it was decided that they should use the boat as
long as there was enough water under its keel to float it.
It was both fatigue spared and time gained, for they would
have been obliged. to cut a path through the thick wood
with their axes. But soon the flow completely failed them,
either the tide was going down, and it was about the hour,
or it could no longer be felt at this distance from the mouth
of the Mercy. They had therefore to make use of the
oars, Herbert and Neb each took one, and Pencroft took
the scull. The forest soon became less dense, the trees
grew further apart and often quite isolated. But the
further they were from each other the more magnificent
they appeared, profiting, as they did, by the free, pure air
which circulated around them.
What splendid specimens of the Flora of this latitude!
Certainly their presence would have been enough for a
botanist to name without hesitation the parallel which
traversed Lincoln Island.
"Eucalypti!" cried Herbert.
They were, in fact, those splendid trees, the giants of
the extra-tropical zone, the congeners of the Australian
and New Zealand eucalyptus, both situated under the
same latitude as Lincoln Island. Some rose to a height of
two hundred feet. Their trunks at the base measured
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
twenty feet in circumference, and their bark was covered
by a network of furrows containing a red, sweet-smelling
gum. Nothing is more wonderful or more singular than
those enormous specimens of the order of the myrtaceae,
with their leaves placed vertically and not horizontally, so
that an edge and not a surface looks upwards, the effect
being that the sun's rays penetrate more freely among the
The. ground at the foot of the eucalypti was carpeted
with grass, and from the bushes escaped flights of little
birds, which glittered in the sunlight like winged rubies.
"These are something like trees!" cried Neb; "but are
they good for anything ?"
"Pooh!" replied Pencroft. "Of course there are vege-
table giants as well as human giants, and they are no good,
except to show themselves at fairs !"
"I think that you are mistaken, Pencroft," replied
Gideon Spilett, "and that the wood of the eucalyptus
has begun to be very advantageously employed in cabinet-
"And I may add," said Herbert, "that the eucalyptus
belongs to a family which comprises many useful members;
the guava-tree, from whose fruit guava jelly is made; the
clove-tree, which produces the spice; the pomegranate-
tree, which bears pomegranates; the Eugeacia Cauliflora,
the fruit of which is used in making a tolerable wine; the
THE ABANDONED. 39
Ugui myrtle, which contains an excellent alcoholic liquor;
the Caryophyllus myrtle, of which the bark forms an
esteemed cinnamon; the Eugenia Pimenta, from whence
comes Jamaica pepper; the common myrtle, from whose
buds and berries spice is sometimes made; the Eucalyptus
manifera, which yields a sweet sort of manna; the Guinea
Eucalyptus, the sap of which is transformed into beer by
fermentation; in short, all those trees known under the
name of gum-trees or iron-bark trees in Australia, belong
to this family of the myrtaceas, which contains forty-six
genera and thirteen hundred species!"
The lad was allowed to run on, and he delivered his little
botanical lecture with great animation. Cyrus Harding
listened smiling, and Pencroft with an indescribable feeling
"Very good, Herbert," replied Pencroft, "but I could
swear that all those useful specimens you have just told us
about are none of them giants like these!"
"That is true, Pencroft."
"That supports what I said," returned the sailor,
"namely, that these giants are good for nothing!"
"There you are wrong, Pencroft," said the engineer;
"these gigantic eucalypti, which shelter us, are good for
"And what is that?"
"To render the countries which they inhabit healthy.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Do you know what they are called in Australia and New
"They are called 'fever trees.'"
"Because they give fevers ?"
No, because they prevent them !"
Good. I must note that," said the reporter.
"Note it then, my dear Spilett; for it appears proved
that the presence of the eucalyptus is enough to neutralize
miasmas. This natural antidote has been tried in certain
countries in the middle of Europe and the north of Africa,
where the soil was absolutely unhealthy, and the sanitary
condition of the inhabitants has been gradually ameliorated.
No more intermittent fevers prevail in the regions now
covered with forests of the myrtacee. This fact is now
beyond doubt, and it is a happy circumstance for us
settlers in Lincoln Island."
"Ah! what an island! What a blessed island!" cried
Pencroft. I tell you, it wants nothing-unless it is-"
"That will come, Pencroft, that will be found," replied
the engineer; "but now we must continue our voyage and
push on as far as the river will carry our boat! "
The exploration was therefore continued for another
two miles in the midst of country covered with eucalypti,
which predominated in the woods of this portion of the
island. The space which they occupied extended as far as
the eye could reach on each side of the Mercy, which
wound along between high green banks. The bed was
often obstructed by long weeds, and even by pointed rocks,
which rendered the navigation very difficult. The action
of the oars was prevented, and Pencroft was obliged to
push with a pole. They found also that the water was
becoming shallower and shallower, and that the canoe
must soon stop. The sun was already sinking towards
the horizon, and the trees threw long shadows on the
ground. Cyrus Harding, seeing that he could not hope
to reach the western coast of the island in one journey,
resolved to camp at the place where any further naviga-
tion was prevented by want of water. He calculated that
they were still five or six miles from the coast, and this
distance was too great for them to attempt traversing
during the night in the midst of unknown woods.
The boat was pushed on through the forest, which
gradually became thicker again, and appeared also to
have more inhabitants; for if the eyes of the sailor did
not deceive him, he thought he saw bands of monkeys
springing among the trees. Sometimes even two or three
of these animals stopped at a little distance from the
canoe and gazed at the settlers without manifesting any
terror, as if, seeing men.for the first time, they had not yet
learned to fear them. .It would have been easy to bring
down one of these quadrumani with a gunshot, and Pen.
42 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
croft was greatly tempted to fire, but Harding opposed so
useless a massacre. This was prudent, for the monkeys,
or apes rather, appearing to be very powerful and extremely
active, it was useless to provoke an unnecessary aggression,
and the creatures might, ignorant of the power of the ex-
plorers' fire-arms, have attacked them. It is true that the
sailor considered the monkeys from a purely alimentary
point of view, for those animals which are herbivorous make
very excellent game; but since they had an abundant supply
of provisions, it was a pity to waste their ammunition.
Towards four o'clock, the navigation of the Mercy became
exceedingly difficult, for its course was obstructed by
aquatic plants and rocks. The banks rose higher and
higher, and already they were approaching the spurs of
Mount Franklin. The source could not be far off, since it
was fed by the water from the southern slopes of the
In a quarter of an hour," said the sailor, we shall be
obliged to stop, captain."
"Very well, we will stop, Pencroft, and we will make
our encampment for the night."
"At what distance are we from Granite House?" asked
"About seven miles," replied the engineer, taking into
calculation, however, the detours of the river, which has
carried us to the north-west."
Shall we go on ?" asked the reporter.
"Yes, as long as we can," replied Cyrus Harding; "To-
morrow, at break of da9, we will leave the canoe, and in
two hours I hope we shall cross the distance which separates
us from the coast, and then we shall have the whole day in
which to explore the shore."
"Go-ahead !" replied Pencroft.
But soon the boat grated on the stony bottom of the
river, which was now not more than twenty feet in breadth.
The trees met like a bower overhead, and caused a half-
darkness. They also heard the noise of a waterfall, which
showed that a few hundred feet up the river there was a
Presently, after a sudden turn of the river, a cascade
appeared through the trees. The canoe again touched the
bottom, and in a few minutes it was moored to a trunk
near the right bank.
It was nearly five o'clock. The last rays of the sun
gleamed through the thick foliage and glanced on the
little waterfall, making the spray sparkle with all the
colours of the rainbow. Beyond that, the Mercy was lost
in the brushwood, where it was fed from some hidden
source. The different streams which flowed into it
increased it to a regular river further down, but here it
was simply a shallow, limpid brook.
It was agreed to camp here, as the place was charming.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The colonists disembarked, and a fire was soon lighted
under a clump of trees, among the branches of which
Cyrus Harding: and his -companions could, if it was
necessary ta.3ke refuge for the night.
Supper was quickly. devoured, for they were very hungry,
and then there was only sleeping to think of. But, as
roarings of rather a suspicious nature had been heard
during the evening, a good fire was made up for the night,
so, as to protect the sleepers with its crackling flames.
Neb and.Pencroft also watched by turns, and did not
spare fuel. They thought they saw the dark forms of
some wild,. animals prowling round the -camp among the
bushes, but the night passed without incident, and the
next day, the. 3st of October, at five o'clock in the
morning, all were on foot, ready for a start.
JOURNEY TO THE COAST-TROOPS OF MONKEYS-A NEW
RIVER-THE REASON TIE TIDE WAS NOT FELT-A
WOODY SHORE-REPTILE PROMONTORY-HERBERT
ENVIES GIDEON SPILETT-EXPLOSION OF BAMBOOS.
IT was six o'clock in the morning.when the settlers, after
a hasty breakfast, set out to reach by the shortest way
the western coast of the island. And how long would it
take to do this ? Cyrus Harding had said two hours, but
of course that depended on the nature of the obstacles
they might meet with. As it was probable that they would
have to cut a path through the grass, shrubs, and creepers,
they marched axe in hand, and with guns also ready,
wisely taking warning from the cries of the wild beasts
heard in the night.
The exact position of the encampment could be deter-
mined by the bearing of Mount Franklin, and as the
volcano arose in the north at a distance of less than three
miles, they had only to go straight towards the south.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
west to reach the western coast. They set out, having
first carefully secured the canoe. Pencroft and Neb
carried sufficient provisions for the little band for at least
two days. It would not thus be necessary to hunt. The
engineer advised his companions to refrain from firing,
that their presence might not be betrayed to any one near
the shore. The first hatchet blows were given among the
brushwood in the midst of some mastick-trees, a little
above the cascade; and his compass in his hand, Cyrus
Harding led the way.
The forest here was composed for the most part of trees
which had already been met with near the lake and on
Prospect Heights. There were deodars, Douglas firs, casu-
arinas, gum-trees, eucalypti, hibiscus, cedars, and other
trees, generally of a moderate size, for their number
prevented their growth.
Since their departure, the settlers had descended the
slopes which constituted the mountain system of the island,
on to a dry soil, but the luxuriant vegetation of which
indicated it to be watered either by some subterranean
marsh or by some stream. However, Cyrus Harding did
not remember to have seen, at the time of his excursion to
the crater, any other watercourses but the Red Creek and
During the first part of their excursion, they saw nume-
eous troops of monkeys who exhibited great astonishment
Denizens of the forest.
at the sight of men, whose appearance was so new to them.
Gideon Spilett jokingly asked whether these active and
merry quadrupeds did not consider him and his companions
as degenerate brothers.
And certainly, pedestrians, hindered at each step by
bushes, caught by creepers, barred by trunks of trees, did
not shine beside those supple animals, who, bounding frori
branch to branch, were hindered by nothing on their
course. The monkeys were numerous, but happily they
did not manifest any hostile disposition.
Several pigs, agoutis, kangaroos, and other rodents were
seen, also two or three kaolas, at which Pencroft longed
to have a shot.
"But," said he, "you may jump and play just now; we
shall have one or two words to say to you on our way
At half-past nine the way was suddenly found to be
barred by an unknown stream, from thirty to forty feet
broad, whose rapid current dashed foaming over the nume-
rous rocks which interrupted its course. This creek was
deep and clear, but it was absolutely unnavigable.
"We are cut off cried Neb.
"No," replied Herbert, "it is only a stream, and we can
easily swim over."
"What would be the use of that ?" returned Harding.
"This creek evidently runs to the sea. Let us remain
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
on this side and follow the bank, and I shall be much
astonished if it does not lead us very quickly to the coast
"One minute," said the reporter. "The name of this
creek, my friends? Do not let us leave our geography
"All right!" said Pencroft.
Name it, my boy," said the engineer, addressing the lad.
"Will it not be better to wait until we have explored it
to its mouth ?" answered Herbert.
"Very well," replied Cyrus Harding. "Let us follow it
as fast as we can without stopping."
"Still another minute said Pencroft.
"What's the matter ? asked the reporter.
"Though hunting is forbidden, fishing is allowed, I
suppose," said the sailor.
"We have no time to lose," replied the engineer.
"Oh! five minutes !" replied Pencroft, I only ask for
five minutes to use in the interest of our breakfast!"
And Pencroft, lying down on the bank, plunged his
arm into the water, and soon pulled up several dozen of fine
crayfish from among the stones.
"These will be good I" cried Neb, going to the sailor's
"As I said, there is everything in this island, except
tobacco I" muttered Pencroft with a sigh.
The fishing did not take five minutes, for the crayfish
were swarming. in the creek. A bag was filled with the
crustacese, whose shells were of a cobalt blue. The settlers
then pushed on.
They advanced more rapidly and easily along the bank
of the river than in the forest. From time to time they
came upon the traces of animals of a large size who had
come to quench their thirst at the stream, but none were
actually seen, and it was evidently not in this part of the
forest that the peccary had received the bullet which had
cost Pencroft a grinder.
In the meanwhile, considering the rapid current, Hard-
ing was led to suppose that he and his companions were
much farther from the western coast than they had at first
supposed. In fact, at this hour, the rising tide would have
turned back the current of the creek, if its mouth had only
been a few miles distant. Now, this effect was not pro-
duced, and the water pursued its natural course. The
engineer was much astonished at this, and frequently
consulted his compass, to assure himself that some turn of
the river was not leading them again into the Far West.
However, the creek gradually widened and its waters
became less tumultuous. The trees on the right bank
were as close together as on the left bank, and it was
impossible to distinguish anything beyond them ; but these
masses of wood were evidently uninhabited, for Top did not
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
bark, and the intelligent animal would not have failed to
signal the presence of any stranger in the neighbourhood.
At half-past ten, to the great surprise of Cyrus Harding,
Herbert, who was a little in front, suddenly stopped and
"The sea! "
In a few minutes more, the whole western shore of the
island lay extended before the eyes of the settlers.
But what a contrast between this and the eastern coast,
upon which chance had first thrown them. No granite
cliff, no rocks, not even a sandy beach. The forest reached
the shore, and the tall trees bending over the water were
beaten by the waves. It was not such a shore as is usually
formed by nature, either by extending a vast carpet of
sand, or by grouping masses of rock, but a beautiful border
consisting of the most splendid trees. The bank was
raised a little above the level of the sea, and on this
luxuriant soil supported by a granite base, the fine forest
trees seemed to be as firmly planted as in the interior of
The colonists were then on the shore of an unimportant
little harbour, which would scarcely have contained even
two or three fishing-boats. It served as a neck to the new
creek, of which the curious thing was that its waters, instead
of joining the sea by a gentle slope, fell from a height of
more than forty feet, which explained why the rising tide
The sea I
was not felt up the stream. In fact, the tides of the Pacific,
even at their maximum of elevation, could never reach the
level of the river, and, doubtless, millions of years would
pass before the water would have worn away the granite
and hollowed a practicable mouth.
It was settled that the name of Falls River should be
given to this stream. Beyond, towards the north, the
forest border was prolonged for a space of nearly two
miles; then the trees became scarcer, and beyond that
again the picturesque heights described a nearly straight
line, which ran north and south. On the contrary, all the
part of the shore between Falls River and Reptile End was
a mass of wood, magnificent trees, some straight, others
bent, so that the long sea-swell bathed their roots. Now,
it was this coast, that is, all the Serpentine peninsula, that
was to be explored, for this part of the shore offered a
refuge to castaways, which the other wild and barren side
must have refused.
The weather was fine and clear, and from the height of a
hillock on which Neb and Pencroft had arranged breakfast,
a wide view was obtained. There was, however, not a sail
in sight; nothing could be seen along the shore as far as
the eye could reach. But the engineer would take nothing
for granted until he had explored the coast to the very
extremity of the Serpentine peninsula.
Breakfast was soon despatched, and at half-past eleven
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
the captain gave the signal for departure. Instead of
proceeding over the summit of a cliff or along a sandy
beach, the settlers were obliged to remain under cover of
the trees so that they might continue on the shore.
The distance which separated Falls River from Reptile
End was about twelve miles. It would have taken the
settlers four hours to do this, on a clear ground and without
hurrying themselves; but as it was they needed double
the time, for what with trees to go round, bushes to cut
down, and creepers to chop away, they were .impeded at
every step, these obstacles greatly .lengthening their
journey. .. :
There was, however, nothing to show that a ,shipwreck
had taken place recently. It is true that, as Gideon
Spilett observed, any remains .of it.might have. drifted. out
to sea, and they must not take it for granted.that because
they could find no traces of it, a. ship .had. not.: been cast
away on the coast. .
The reporter's argument was just, and .besides, the
incident of the bullet proved that a shot_ must have been
fired in Lincoln Island within three months ;.. ..... .
It was already five o'clock, and there were still two miles
between the settlers and the extremity of the Serpentine
peninsula. ,It was evident that after having reached Reptile
End, Harding and his companions would not have; time to
return, beforedark to their.encampment .tear..the source of
the Mercy. It would therefore be necessary to pass the
night on the promontory. But they had no lack of
provisions, which was lucky, for there were no animals on
the shore, though birds, on the contrary, abounded-
jacamars, couroucoos, tragopans, grouse, lories, parrots,
cockatoos, pheasants, pigeons, and a hundred others.
There was not a tree without a nest, and not a nest which
was not full of flapping wings.
Towards seven o'clock the weary explorers arrived at
Reptile End. Here the seaside forest ended, and the shore
resumed the customary appearance of a coast, with rocks,
reefs, and sands. It was possible that something might be
found here, but darkness came on, and the further explora-
tion had to be put off to the next day.
Pencroft and Herbert hastened on to find a suitable
place for their camp. Amongst the last trees of the forest
of the Far West, the 'boy found several thick clumps of
"Good," said he; this is a valuable discovery."
"Valuable?" returned Pencroft.
"Certainly," replied Herbert. "I may say, Pencroft,
that the bark of the bamboo, cut into flexible laths, is used
for making baskets; that this bark, mashed into a paste, is
used for the manufacture of Chinese paper; that the stalks
furnish, according to their size, canes and pipes, and are
used for conducting water; that large bamboos make
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
excellent material for building, being light and strong, and
being never attacked by insects. I will add that by sawing
the bamboo in two at the joint, keeping for the bottom the
part of the transverse film which forms the joint, useful cups
are obtained, which are much in use among the Chinese.
No! you don't care for that. But-"
"But I can tell you, if you are ignorant of it, that in
India these bamboos are eaten like asparagus."
"Asparagus thirty feet high!" exclaimed the sailor.
"And are they good ?"
Excellent," replied Herbert. Only it is not the stems
of thirty feet high which are eaten, but the young shoots."
"Perfect, my boy, perfect! replied Pencroft.
"I will also add that the pith of the young stalks,
preserved in vinegar, makes a good pickle."
"Better and better, Herbert! "
"And lastly, that the bamboos exude a sweet liquor
which can be made into a very agreeable drink."
"Is that all ?" asked the sailor.
"That is all! "
"And they don't happen to do for smoking ?"
"No, my poor Pencroft."
Herbert and the sailor had not to look long for a place in
which to pass the night. The rocks, which must have been
violently beaten by the sea under the influence of the winds
of the south-west, presented many cavities in which shelter
could be found against the night air. But just as they
were about to enter one of these caves a loud roaring
"Back!" cried Pencroft. "Our guns are only loaded
with small shot, and beasts which can roar as loud as that
would care no more for it than for grains of salt!" And
the sailor, seizing Herbert by the arm, dragged him behind
a rock, just as a magnificent animal showed itself at the
entrance of the cavern.
It was a jaguar of a size at least equal to its Asiatic
congeners, that is to say, it measured five feet from the
extremity of its head to the beginning of its tail. The
yellow colour of its hair was relieved by streaks and regular
oblong spots of black, which contrasted with the white of
its chest. Herbert recognized it as the ferocious rival of
the tiger, as formidable as the puma, which is the rival of
the largest wolf!
The jaguar advanced and gazed around him with blazing
eyes, his hair bristling as if this was not the first time he
had scented men.
At this moment the reporter appeared round a rock, and
Herbert, thinking that he had not seen the jaguar, was
about to rush towards him, when Gideon Spilett signed to
him to remain where he was. This was not his first tiger,
and advancing to within ten feet of the animal he remained
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
motionless, his gun to his shoulder, without moving a
muscle. The jaguar collected itself for a spring, but at
that moment a shot struck it in the eyes, and it fell dead.
Herbert and Pencroft rushed towards the jaguar. Neb
and Harding also ran up, and they remained for some
instants contemplating the animal as it lay stretched on
the ground, thinking that its magnificent skin would be a
great ornament to the hall at Granite House.
"Oh, Mr. Spilett, how I admire and envy you!" cried
Herbert, in a fit of very natural enthusiasm.
"Well, my boy," replied the reporter, "you could have
done the same."
"I! with such coolness !-"
"Imagine to yourself, Herbert, that the jaguar is only a
hare, and you would fire as quietly as possible."
"That is," rejoined Pencroft, "that it is not more dan-
gerous than a hare! "
"And now," said Gideon Spilett, "since the jaguar has
left its abode, I do not see, my friends, why we should not
take possession of it for the night."
"But others may come," said Pencroft.
"It will be enough to light a fire at the entrance of the
cavern," said the reporter, "and no wild beasts will dare to
cross the threshold."
"Into the jaguar's house, then!" replied the sailor,
dragging after him the body of the animal.
At that moment a shot struck the jaguar between the eyes, and it fell dead,
Whilst Neb skinned the jaguar, his companions collected
an abundant supply of dry wood from the 'forest, which
they heaped up at the cave.
Cyrus Harding, seeing the clump of bamboos, cut a
quantity, which he mingled with the other fuel.
This done, they entered the grotto, of which the floor
was strewn with bones, the guns were carefully loaded, in
case of a sudden attack, they had supper, and then just
before they lay down to rest, the heap of wood piled at the
entrance was set fire to. Immediately, a regular explosion,
or rather, a series of reports, broke the silence! The noise
was caused by the bamboos, which, as the flames reached
them, exploded like fireworks. The noise was enough to
terrify even the boldest of wild beasts.
It was not the engineer who had invented this way of
causing loud explosions, for, according to Marco Polo, the
Tartars have employed it for many centuries to drive away
from their encampments the formidable wild beasts of
58 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
PROPOSAL TO RETURN BY THE SOUTHERN SHORE- CON-
FIGURATION OF THE COAST-SEARCHING FOR THE
SUPPOSED WRECK-A WRECK IN THE AIR-DIS-
COVERY OF A SMALL NATURAL PORT-AT MIDNIGHT
ON THE BANKS OF THE MERCY-THE CANOE ADRIFT.
CYRUS HARDING and his companions slept like innocent
marmots in the cave which the jaguar had so politely left
at their disposal.
At sunrise all were on the shore at the extremity of
the promontory, and their gaze was directed towards the
horizon, of which two-thirds of the circumference were
visible. For the last time the engineer could ascertain that
not a sail nor the wreck of a ship was on the sea, and even
with the telescope nothing suspicious could be discovered.
There was nothing either on the shore, at least, in the
straight line of three miles which formed the south side of
the promontory, for beyond that, rising ground hid the rest
of the coast, and even from the extremity of the Serpentine
peninsula Cape Claw could not be seen.
The southern coast of the island still remained to be
explored. Now should they undertake it immediately,
and devote this day to it?
This was not included in their first plan. In fact, when
the boat was abandoned at the sources of the Mercy, it
had been agreed that after having surveyed the west coast,
they should go back to it, and return to Granite House by
the Mercy. Harding then thought that the western coast
would have offered refuge, either to a ship in distress, or to
a vessel in her regular course; but now, as he saw that this
coast presented no good anchorage, he wished to seek on
the south what they had not been able to find on the
Gideon Spilett proposed to continue the exploration,
that the question of the supposed wreck might be com-
pletely settled, and he asked at what distance Claw Cape
might be from the extremity of the peninsula.
"About thirty miles," replied the engineer, if we take
into consideration the curvings of the coast."
Thirty miles!" returned Spilett. "That would be a
long day's march. Nevertheless, I think that we should
return.to Granite House by the south coast."
"But," observed Herbert, "from Claw Cape to Granite
House there must be at least another ten miles."
Make it forty miles in all," replied the engineer; "and
do not hesitate to do it. At least we should survey the
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. *
unknown shore, and then we shall not have to begin the
"Very good," said Pencroft. "But the boat ?"
"The boat has remained by itself for one day at the
sources of the Mercy," replied Gideon Spilett; "it may
just as well stay there two days! As yet, we have had no
reason to think that the island is infested by thieves "
"Yet," said the sailor, "when I remember the history of
the turtle, I am far from confident of that."
"The turtle the turtle !" replied the reporter. "Don't
you know that the sea turned it over?"
"Who knows ?" murmured the engineer.
"But-" said Neb.
Neb had evidently something to say, for he opened his
mouth to speak and yet said nothing.
"What do you want to say, Neb ?" asked the engineer.
If we return by the shore to Claw Cape," replied Neb,
"after having doubled the Cape, we shall be stopped-"
"By the Mercy! of course," replied Herbert, "and we
shall have neither bridge nor boat by which to cross."
"But, captain," added Pencroft, "with a few floating
trunks we shall have no difficulty in crossing the river."
"Never mind," said Spilett, "it will be useful to con-
struct a bridge if we wish to have an easy access to the Far
"A bridge cried Pencroft. "Well, is not the captain
the best engineer in his profession ? He will make us a
bridge when we want one. As to transporting you this
evening to the other side of the Mercy, and that without
wetting one thread of your clothes, I will take care of that.
We have provisions for another day, and besides we can
get plenty of game. Forward I"
The reporter's proposal, so strongly seconded by the
sailor, received general approbation, for each wished to
have their doubts set at rest, and by returning by Claw
Cape the exploration would be ended. But there was not
an hour to lose, for forty miles was a long march, and they
could not hope to reach Granite House before night.
At six o'clock in the morning the little band set out.
As a precaution the guns were loaded with ball, and Top,
who led the van, received orders to beat about the edge of
From the extremity of the promontory which formed
the tail of the peninsula the coast was rounded for a
distance of five miles, which was rapidly passed over,
without even the most minute investigations bringing to
light the least trace of any old or recent landings; no
debris, no mark of an encampment, no cinders of a fire, nor
even a footprint!
From the point of the peninsula on which the settlers
now were their gaze could extend along the south-west.
Twenty-five miles off the coast terminated in the Claw
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Cape, which loomed dimly through the morning mists, and
which, by the phenomenon of the mirage, appeared as if
suspended between land and water.
Between the place occupied by the colonists and the
other side of the immense bay, the shore was composed,
first, of a tract of low land, bordered in the background by
trees; then the shore became more irregular, projecting
sharp points into the sea, and finally ended in the black
rocks which, accumulated in picturesque disorder, formed
Such was the development of this part of the island,
which the settlers took in at a glance, whilst stopping for
"If a vessel ran in here," said Pencroft, "she would
certainly be lost. Sandbanks and reefs everywhere! Bad
"But at least something would be left of the ship,"
observed the reporter.
"There might be pieces of wood on the rocks, but
nothing on the sands," replied the sailor.
Because the sands are still more dangerous than the
rocks, for they swallow up everything that is thrown on
them. In a few days the hull of a ship of several hundred
tons would disappear entirely in there I"
"So, Pencroft," asked the engineer, "if a ship has been
wrecked on these banks, is it not astonishing that there is
now no trace of her remaining ?"
"No, captain, with the aid of time and tempest. How-
ever, it would be surprising, even in this case, that some of.
the masts or spars should not have been thrown on the
beach, out of reach of the waves."
"Let us go on with our search, then," returned Cyrus
At one o'clock the colonists arrived at the other side of
Washington Bay, they having now gone a distance of
They then halted for breakfast.
Here began the irregular coast, covered with lines .of
rocks and sandbanks. The long sea-swell could be seen
breaking over the rocks in the bay, forming a foamy'
fringe. From this point to Claw Cape the beach was very
narrow between the edge of the forest and the reefs.
Walking was now more difficult, on account of the
numerous rocks which encumbered the beach. The granite
cliff also gradually increased in height, and only the green
tops of the trees which crowned it could be seen.
After half an hour's rest, the settlers resumed their
journey, and not a spot among the rocks was left un-
examined. Pencroft and Neb even rushed into the surf
whenever any object attracted their attention. But they
found nothing, some curious formations of the rocks having
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
deceived them. They ascertained, however, that eatable
shell-fish abounded there, but these could not be of any
great advantage to them until some easy means of commu-
nication had been established between the two banks of
the Mercy, and until the means of transport had been
Nothing therefore which threw any light on the supposed
wreck could be found on this shore, yet an object of any
importance, such as the hull of a ship, would have been
seen directly, or any of her masts and spars would have
been washed on shore, just as the chest had been, which
was found twenty miles from here. But there was
Towards three o'clock Harding and his companions
arrived at a snug little creek. It formed quite a natural
harbour, invisible from the sea, and was entered by a
At the back of this creek some violent convulsion had
torn up the rocky border, and a cutting, by a gentle slope,
gave access to an upper plateau, which might be situated
at least ten miles from Claw Cape, and consequently four
miles in a straight line from Prospect Heights. Gideon
Spilett proposed to his companions that they should make
a halt here. They agreed readily, for their walk had
sharpened their appetites; and although it was not their
usual dinner-hour, no one refused to strengthen himself
with a piece of venison. This luncheon would sustain them
till their supper, which they intended to take at Granite
House. In a few minutes the settlers, seated under a
clump of fine sea-pines, were devouring the provisions
which Neb produced from his bag.
This spot was raised from fifty to sixty feet above the
level of the sea. The view was very extensive, but beyond
the cape it ended in Union Bay. Neither the islet nor
Prospect Heights were visible, and could not be from
thence, for the rising ground and the curtain of trees
closed the northern horizon.
It is useless to add that notwithstanding the wide
extent of sea which the explorers could survey, and
though the engineer swept the horizon with his glass, no
vessel could be found.
The shore was of course examined with the same care
from the edge of the water to the cliff, and nothing could
be discovered even with the aid of the instrument.
"Well," said Gideon Spilett, "it seems we must make
up our minds to console ourselves with thinking that no
one will come to dispute with us the possession of Lincoln
"But the bullet," cried Herbert. "That was not
imaginary, I suppose !"
"Hang it, no exclaimed Pencroft, thinking of his
TIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
"Then what conclusion may be drawn ?" asked the
"This," replied the engineer, "that three months or
more ago, a vessel, either voluntarily or not, came here."
"What! then you admit, Cyrus, that she was swallowed
up without leaving any trace ?" cried the reporter.
"No, my dear Spilett; but you see that if it is certain
that a human being set foot on the island, it appears no
less certain that he has now left it."
Then, if I understand you right, captain," said Herbert,
"the vessel has left again ?"
"And we have lost an opportunity to get back to our
country?" said Neb.
"I fear so."
"Very well, since the opportunity is lost, let us go on;
it can't be helped," said Pencroft, who felt home-sickness
for Granite House.
But just as they were rising, Top was heard loudly
barking; and the dog issued from the wood, holding in his
mouth a rag soiled with mud.
Neb seized it. It was a piece of strong cloth !
Top still barked, and by his going and coming, seemed
to invite his master to follow him into the forest.
"Now there's something to explain the bullet!" ex-
"Now there's something to explain the bullet!" exclaimed Pencroft.
"A castaway !" replied Herbert.
"Wounded, perhaps !" said Neb.
"Or dead! added the reporter.
All ran after the dog, among the tall pines on the
border of the forest. Harding and his companions made
ready their fire-arms, in case of an emergency.
They advanced some way into the wood, but to their
great disappointment, they as yet saw no signs of any
human being having passed that way. Shrubs and
creepers were uninjured, and they had even to cut them
away with the axe, as they had done in the deepest
recesses of the forest. It was difficult to fancy that any
human creature had ever passed there, but yet Top went
backwards and forwards, not like a dog who searches at
random, but like a being endowed with a mind, who is
following up an idea.
In about seven or eight minutes Top stopped in a glade
surrounded with tall trees. The settlers gazed around
them, but saw nothing, neither under the bushes nor
among the trees.
What is the matter, Top?" said Cyrus Harding.
Top barked louder, bounding about at the foot of a
gigantic pine. All at once Pencroft shouted,-
Ho, splendid capital!"
"What is it ?" asked Spilett.
We have been looking for a wreck at sea or on land "
68 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
"Well; and here we've found one in the air!"
And the sailor pointed to a great white rag, caught in
the top of the pine, a fallen scrap of which the dog had
brought to them.
"But that is not a wreck I" cried Gideon Spilett.
"I beg your pardon !" returned Pencroft.
Why? is it-?"
"It is all that remains of our airy boat, of our balloon,
which has been caught up aloft there, at the top of that
Pencroft was not mistaken, and he gave vent to his
feelings in a tremendous hurrah, adding,-
"There is good cloth! There is what will furnish us
with linen for years. There is what will make us hand-
kerchiefs and shirts! Ha, ha, Mr. Spilett, what do you say
to an island where shirts grow on the trees ?"
It was certainly a lucky circumstance for the settlers in
Lincoln Island that the balloon, after having made its
last bound into the air, had fallen on the island and thus
given them the opportunity of finding it again, whether
they kept the case under its present form, or whether they
wished to attempt another escape by it, or whether they
usefully employed the several hundred yards of cotton,
which was of fine quality. Pencroft's joy was therefore
shared by all.
A wreck in the air.
But it was necessary to bring down the remains of the
balloon from the tree, to place it in security, and this was
no slight task. Neb, Herbert, and the sailor, climbing to
the summit of the tree, used all their skill to disengage
the now reduced balloon.
The operation lasted two hours, and then not only the
case, with its valve, its springs, its brasswork, lay on the
ground, but the net, that is to say a considerable quantity
of ropes and cordage, and the circle and the anchor. The
case, except for the fracture, was in good condition, only
the lower portion being torn.
It was a fortune which had fallen from the sky.
"All the same, captain," said the sailor; "if we ever
decide to leave the island, it won't be in a balloon, will it?
These air-boats won't go where we want them to go, and
we have had some experience in that way! Look here, we
will build a craft of some twenty tons, and then we can
make a main-sail, a fore-sail, and a jib out of that cloth.
As to the rest of it, that will help to dress us."
"We shall see, Pencroft," replied Cyrus Harding; "we
"In the meantime, we must put it in a safe place,"
They certainly could not think of carrying this load of
cloth, ropes, and cordage, to Granite House, for the weight
of it was very considerable, and whilst waiting for a suitable
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
vehicle in which to convey it, it was of importance that
this treasure should not be left longer exposed to the
mercies of the first storm. The settlers uniting their
efforts, managed to drag it as far as the shore, where
they discovered a large rocky cavity, which owing to its
position could not be visited either by the wind or rain.
"We needed a locker, and now we have one," said
Pencroft; "but as we cannot lock it up, it will be pru-
dent to hide the opening. I don't mean from two-legged
thieves, but from those with four paws! "
At six o'clock, all was stowed away, and after having
given the creek the very suitable name of "Port Balloon,"
the settlers pursued their way along Claw Cape. Pen-
croft and the engineer talked of the different projects
which it was agreed to put into execution with the briefest
possible delay. It was necessary first of all to throw a
bridge over the Mercy, so as to establish an easy com-
munication with the south of the island; then the cart
must be taken to bring back the balloon, for the canoe
alone could not carry it, then they would build a decked
boat, and Pencroft would rig it as a cutter, and they would
be able to undertake voyages of circumnavigation round
the island, &c.
In the meanwhile night came on, and it was already
dark when the settlers reached Flotsam Point, the place
where they had discovered the precious chest.
The distance between Flotsam Point and Granite
House was another four miles, and it was midnight when,
after having followed the shore to the mouth of the
Mercy, the settlers arrived at the first angle formed by
There the river was eighty feet in breadth, which was
awkward to cross, but as Pencroft had taken upon himself
to conquer this difficulty, he was compelled to do it. The
settlers certainly had reason to be pretty tired. The
journey had been long, and the task of getting down the
balloon had not rested either their arms or legs. They
were anxious ro reach Granite House to eat and sleep, and
if the bridge had been constructed, in a quarter of an hour
they would have been at home.
The night was very dark. Pencroft prepared to keep
his promise by constructing a sort of raft, on which to
make the passage of the Mercy. He and Neb, armed with
axes, chose two trees near the water, and began to attack
them at the base.
Cyrus Harding and Spilett, seated on the bank, waited
till their companions were ready for their help, whilst
-Herbert roamed about, though without going to any
distance. All at once, the lad, who had strolled by the
river, came running back, and, pointing up the Mercy,
What is floating there ?"
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Pencroft stopped working, and seeing an indistinct object
moving through the gloom,-
"A canoe! cried he.
All approached, and saw to their extreme surprise, a boat
floating down the current.
"Boat ahoy !" shouted the sailor, without thinking that
perhaps it would be best to keep silence.
No reply. The boat still drifted onwards, and it was not
more than twelve feet off, when the sailor exclaimed,-
"But it is our own boat! she has broken her moorings,
and floated down the current. I must say she has arrived
"Our boat?" murmured the engineer.
Pencroft was right. It was indeed the canoe, of which
the rope had undoubtedly broken, and which had come
alone from the sources of the Mercy. It was very impor-
tant to seize it before the rapid current should have swept
it away out of the mouth of the river, but Neb and Pencroft
cleverly managed this by means of a long pole.
The canoe touched the shore. The engineer leapt in
first, and found, on examining the rope, that it had been
really worn through by rubbing against the rocks.
"Well," said the reporter to him, in a low voice; this
is a strange thing."
"Strange indeed!" returned Cyrus Harding.
Strange or not, it was very fortunate. Herbert, the
There was no longer a ladder I
reporter, Neb, and Pencroft, embarked in turn. There
was no doubt about the rope having been worn through,
but the astonishing part of the affair was, that the boat
should have arrived just at the moment when the settlers
were there to seize it on its way, for a quarter of an hour
earlier or later it would have been lost in the sea.
If they had been living in the time of genii, this inci-
dent would have given them the right to think that the
island was haunted by some supernatural being, who used
his power in the service of the castaways!
A few strokes of the oar brought the settlers to the
mouth of the Mercy. The canoe was hauled up on the
beach near the Chimneys, and all proceeded towards the
ladder of Granite House.
But at that moment, Top barked angrily, and Neb, -who
was looking for the first steps, uttered a cry.
There was no longer a ladder i
74 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
PENCROFT'S HALLOOS-A NIGHT IN THE CHIMNEYS-
HERBERT'S ARROWS-THE CAPTAIN'S PROJECT-AN
UNEXPECTED EXPLANATION-WHAT HAS HAPPENED
IN GRANITE HOUSE-HOW A NEW SERVANT ENTERS
THE SERVICE OF THE COLONISTS.
CYRUS HARDING stood still, without saying a word. His
companions searched in the darkness on the wall, in case
the wind should have moved the ladder, and on the ground,
thinking that it might- have fallen down..... But the
ladder had quite disappeared. As to ascertaining if a
squall had blown it on to the landing-place, half way up,
that was impossible in the dark.
"If it is a joke," cried Pencroft, "it is a very stupid one;
to come home and find no staircase to go up to your room
by; for weary men, there is nothing to laugh at that I
Neb could do nothing but cry out "Oh! oh! oh "
THE ABANDONED. 75
"I begin to think that very curious things happen in
Lincoln Island!" said Pencroft.
Curious?" replied Gideon Spilett, "not at all Pencroft,
nothing can be more natural. Some one has come during
our absence, taken possession of our dwelling and drawn
up the ladder."
"Some one," cried the sailor. "But who ?"
Who but the hunter who fired the bullet ?" replied the
"Well, if there is any one up there," replied Pencroft,
who began to lose patience, I will give them a hail, and
they must answer."
And in a stentorian voice the sailor gave a prolonged
"Halloo I" which was echoed again and again from the
cliff and rocks.
The settlers listened and they thought they heard a sort
or chuckling laugh, of which they could not guess the
origin. But no voice replied to Pencroft, who in vain
repeated his vigorous shouts.
There was something indeed in this to astonish the most
apathetic of men, and the settlers were not men of that
description. In their situation every incident had its
importance, and, certainly, during the seven months which
they had spent on the island, they had not before met with
anything of so surprising a character.
Be that as it may, forgetting their fatigue in the singu-
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