The mysterious island


Material Information

The mysterious island the secret of the island by Jules Verne ; translated from the French by W.H.G. Kingston
Physical Description:
viii, 299, iii p. : ill. ; 20 cm.
Verne, Jules, 1828-1905
Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Ferat, Pierre
Barbant, Charles
Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington
Gilbert & Rivington
Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington
Place of Publication:
London (Crown Buildings, 188, Fleet Street)
Gilbert and Rivington
Publication Date:
3rd ed.


Subjects / Keywords:
Juvenile literature -- 1879   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1879
Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London


General Note:
Illustrations signed P. Ferat; engraved by Ch. Barbant.
General Note:
Translation of L' Ile mysterieuse.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 001626164
oclc - 25861116
notis - AHQ0854
System ID:

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Page 294.

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Lost or saved-Ayrton summoned-Important discussion-It is
not the "Duncan"-Suspicious vessel-Precautions to be
taken-The ship approaches-A cannon-shot-The brig
anchors in sight of the island-Night comes on .

Discussions-Presentiments-Ayrton's proposal-It is accepted-
Ayrton and Pencroft on Grant Islet-Convicts from Norfolk
Island-Ayrton's heroic attempt-His return-Six against
fifty .. ......

The mist rises-The engineer's preparations-Three posts-
Ayrton and Pencroft-The first boat-Two other boats-On
the islet-Six convicts land-The brig weighs anchor-The
Speedy's" guns-A desperate situation-Unexpected catas-
trophe .. .. 3. 33

The colonists on the beach-Ayrton and Pencroft work amid the
wreck-Conversation during breakfast-Pencroft's arguments


-Minute examination of the brig's hull-The powder-
magazine untouched-New riches-The last of the wreck-
A broken piece of cylinder .. 53

The engineer's declaration-Pencroft's grand hypothesis-An
aerial battery-The four cannons-The surviving convicts-
Ayrton's hesitation-Cyrus Harding's generous sentiments-
Pencroft's regret 68

Expeditions planned-Ayrton at the corral-Visit to Port Balloon
-Pencroft's observations on board the "Bonadventure"-
Despatch sent to the corral-No reply from Ayrton-Depar-
ture the next day-The reason why the wire did not work--
Areport .. 82

The reporter and Pencroft in the corral-Herbert's wound-The
sailor's despair-Consultation between the reporter and the
engineer-Mode of treatment-Hope not abandoned-How is
Neb to be warned ?-A sure and faithful messenger-Neb's
reply .. .97

The convicts in the neighbourhood of the corral-Provisional
establishment-Continuation of the treatment of Herbert-
Pencroft's first rejoicings-Conversation on past events-
What the future has in reserve-Cyrus Harding's ideas on
this subject 1no

No news of Neb-A proposal from Pencroft and the reporter,
which is not accepted-Several sorties by Gideon Spilett-A
rag of cloth-A message-Hasty departure-Arrival on the
plateau of Prospect Heights 117


Icrbert carried to Granite House-Neb relates all that has hap-
pened-Harding's visit to the plateau-Ruin and devastation
-The colonists baffled by Herbert's illness-Willow bark-
A deadly fever-Top barks again I 13

Inexplicable mystery-Herbert's convalescence-The parts of the
island to be explored-Preparations for departure-First day
-Night and second day-Kauries-A couple of Cassowarics
-Footprints in the forest-Arrival at Reptile Point 143

Exploration of the Serpentine Peninsula-Encampment at the
mouth of Falls River-Gideon Spilett and Pencroft recon-
noitre-Their return-Forward, all!-An open door-A
lighted window-By the light of the moon! 157

Ayrton's story-Plans of his former accomplices-Their instal-
lation in the corral-The avenging justice of Lincoln Island
-The Bonadventure"-Researches around Mount Franklin
-The upper valleys-A subterranean volcano-Pencroft's
opinion-At the bottom of the crater-Return 172

Three years have passed-The new vessel-What is agreed on-
Prosperity of the colony-The dockyard-Cold of the southern
hemisphere-Washing linen-Mount Franklin 189

The awakening of the volcano-The fine season-Continuation of
work-The evening of the 15th of October-A telegram-A
question-An answer-Departure for the corral-The notice
-The additional wire-The basalt coast-At high tide-At
low tide-The cavern-A dazzling light 204


Captain Nemo-His first words-The history of the recluse-His
adventures-His sentiments-His comrades-Submarine life
-Alone-The last refuge of the "Nautilus" in Lincoln Island
-The mysterious genius of the island 223

Last moments of Captain Nemo-Wishes of the dying man-A
parting gift to his friends of a day-Captain Ncmo's coffin-
Advice to the colonists-The supreme moment-At the bottom
of the sea 238

Reflections of the colonists-Their labours of reconstruction re-
sumed-The Ist of January, 1869-A cloud over the summit
of the volcano-First warnings of an eruption-Ayrton and
Cyrus Harding at the corral-Exploration of the Dakkar
Grotto-What Captain Nemo had confided to the engineer 251

Cyrus Harding gives an account of his exploration-The con-
struction of the ship pushed forward-A last visit to the corral
-The battle between fire and water-All that remains of the
island-It is decided to launch the vessel-The night of the
8th of March 272

An isolated rock in the Pacific-The last refuge of the colonists
of Lincoln Island-Death their only prospect-Unexpected
succour-Why and how it arrives-A last kindness-An
island on terra firma-The tomb of Captain Prince Dakkar
Nemo 291


A sail in sight .
"The black flag !" he exclaimed 12
Ayrton hoisting himself on to the cutwater. 22
Ayrton boards the pirate 23
What are you doing here ?" 29
He leapt over the bulwarks into the sea .. 30
Ayrton and Pencroft waited till they were within range 39
The chimneys attacked 50
The brig, raised on a water-spout, split in two 51
That is what I have been, Pencroft" 55
In the hold of the pirate brig 62
"This cylinder is all that remains of a torpedo 67
Pencroft polishing the guns 76
At work on the plateau .84
The telegraph-post thrown down 94
Herbert shot .. 96
Pencroft's alarm for Herbert. 99
Pencroft watching over Herbert 104
Top despatched with a message to Neb. io8
Spilett and Top reconnoitring 122
Starting from the corral. .. 127
Herbert on the lift 132
Sulphate of quinine! .142
The convalescent .146


The last to leave Granite House 150
On watch in the forest .. 153
Spilett and Pencroft approach the corral 164
Five corpses stretched on the bank 171
"Dead !" cried Ayrton 175
The cavern in the mountain 18
Searching for the genius of the island 183
They visited the gulf .187
Gideon Spilett wants a newspaper .. 200
Watching the summit of Mount Franklin .204
The colonists remained silently crouching in a deep hollow .217
Entering the mysterious cavern 219
Discovery of the "Nautilus" .. .221
First interview with the genius of the island 222
The great unknown relates his history 227
Last moments of Captain Ncmo .246
Death of Captain Nemo. 249
Sinking of the "Nautilus 250
Listening to the rumbling of the volcano 258
Cyrus Harding watching the eruption 266
The volcano wall in Dakkar Grotto 271

The colonists took shelter in the borders of Jacamar Wood
The torrent precipitated itself into Lake Grant
The explosion .
The "D uncan .





IT was now two years and a half since the castaways
from the balloon had been thrown on Lincoln Island, and
during that period there had been no communication
between them and their fellow-creatures. Once the
reporter had attempted to communicate with the inhabited
world by confiding to a bird a letter which contained
the secret of their situation, but that was a chance on
which it was impossible to reckon seriously. Ayrton,
alone, under the circumstances which have been related,


had come to join the little colony. Now, suddenly, on
this day, the 17th of October, other men had unex-
pectedly appeared in sight of the island, on that deserted
There could be no doubt about it! A vessel was
there! But would she pass on, or would she put into
port? In a few hours the colonists would definitely
know what to expect.
Cyrus Harding and Herbert having immediately
called Gideon Spillett, Pencroft, and Neb into the dining-
room of Granite House, told them what had happened.
Pencroft, seizing the telescope, rapidly swept the horizon,
and stopping on the indicated point, that is to say, on
that which had made the almost imperceptible spot on
the photographic negative,-
"I'm blessed but it is really a vessel !" he exclaimed, in
a voice which did not express any great amount of satis-
"Is she coming here ?" asked Gideon Spillett.
"Impossible to say anything yet," answered Pencroft,
"for her rigging alone is above the horizon, and not a
bit of her hull can be seen."
"What is to be done ?" asked the lad.
"Wait," replied Harding.
And for a considerable time the settlers remained silent,
given up to all the thoughts, all the emotions, all the


fears, all the hopes, which were aroused by this incident
-the most important which had occurred since their
arrival in Lincoln Island. Certainly, the colonists were
not in the situation of castaways abandoned on a sterile
islet, constantly contending against a cruel nature for
their miserable existence, and incessantly tormented by
the longing to return to inhabited countries. Pencroft and
Neb, especially, who felt themselves at once so happy
and so rich, would not have left their island without
regret. They were accustomed, besides, to this new life
in the midst of the domain which their intelligence had
as it were civilized. But at any rate this ship brought
news from the world, perhaps even from their native
land. It was bringing fellow-creatures to them, and it
may be conceived how deeply their hearts were moved
at the sight !
From time to time Pencroft took the glass and rested
himself at the window. From thence he very attentively
examined the vessel, which was at a distance of twenty
miles to the east. The colonists had as yet, therefore, no
means of signalizing their presence. A flag would .not
have been perceived; a gun would not have been heard;
a fire would not have been visible. However, it was
certain that the island, overtopped by Mount Franklin,
could not have escaped the notice of the vessel's look-
out. But why was this ship coming there? Was it


simple chance which brought it to that part of the
Pacific, where the maps mentioned no land except Tabor
Islet, which itself was out of the route usually followed
by vessels from the Polynesian Archipelagos, from New
Zealand, and from the American coast ? To this question,
which each one asked himself, a reply was suddenly made
by Herbert.
Can it be the 'Duncan ?'" he cried.
The "Duncan," as has been said, was Lord Glenarvan's
yacht, which had left Ayrton on the islet, and which was
to return there some day to fetch him. Now, the islet
was not so far distant from Lincoln Island, but that a vessel,
standing for the one, could pass in sight of the other.
A hundred and fifty miles only separated them in
longitude, and seventy in latitude.
"We must tell Ayrton," said Gideon Spilett, "and
send for him immediately. He alone can say if it is the
This was the opinion of all, and the reporter, going
to the telegraphic apparatus which placed the corral in
communication,with Granite House, sent this telegram :-
"Come with all possible speed."
In a few minutes the bell sounded.
"I am coming," replied Ayrton.
Then the settlers continued to watch the vessel.
"If it is the 'Duncan,'" said Herbert, "Ayrton will


recognize her without difficulty, since he sailed on board
her for some time."
"And if he recognizes her," added Pencroft, "it will
agitate him exceedingly! "
"Yes," answered Cyrus Harding; "but now Ayrton is
worthy to return on board the 'Duncan,' and pray
Heaven that it is indeed Lord Glenarvan's yacht, for
I should be suspicious of any other vessel. These are
ill-famed seas, and I have always feared a visit from Malay
pirates to our island."
"We could defend it," cried Herbert.
"No doubt, my boy," answered the engineer smil-
ing, "but it would be better not to have to defend
"A useless observation," said Spilett. "Lincoln
Island is unknown to navigators, since it is not marked
even on the most recent maps. Do you not think,
Cyrus, that that is a sufficient motive for a ship, finding
herself unexpectedly in sight of new land, to try and visit
rather than avoid it ?"
"Certainly," replied Pencroft.
"I think so too," added the engineer. "It may even
be said that it is the duty of a captain to come and
survey any land or island not yet known, and Lincoln
Island is in this position."
Well," said Pencroft, "suppose this vessel cones and


anchors there a few cables-lengths from our island, what
shall we do?"
This sudden question remained at first without any
reply. But Cyrus Harding, after some moments thought,
replied in the calm tone which was usual to him,-
"What we shall do, my friends? What we ought to do,
is this:-we will communicate with the ship, we will
take our passage on board her, and we will leave our
island, after having taken possession of it in the name
of the United States. Then we will return with any
who may wish to follow us to colonize it definitely, and
endow the American Republic with a useful station in
this part of the Pacific Ocean !"
"Hurrah!" exclaimed Pencroft, "and that will be no
small present which we shall make to our country!
The colonization is already almost finished; names are
given to every part of the island; there is a natural port,
fresh water, roads, a telegraph, a dockyard, and manufac-
tories; and there will be nothing to be done but to in-
scribe Lincoln Island on the maps!"
"But if any one seizes it in our absence?" observed
Gideon Spilett.
"Hang it!" cried the sailor. "I would rather remain
all alone to guard it: and trust to Pencroft, they shouldn't
steal it from him, like a watch from the pocket of a
swell I"


For an hour it was impossible to say with any certainty
whether the vessel was or was not standing towards Lincoln
Island. She was nearer, but in what direction was she
sailing? This Pencroft could not determine. However, as
the wind was blowing from the north-east, in all probability
the vessel was sailing on the starboard tack. Besides, the
wind was favourable for bringing her towards the island,
and, the sea being calm, she would not be afraid to approach
although the shallows were not marked on the chart.
Towards four o'clock-an hour after he had been sent
for-Ayrton arrived at Granite House. He entered the
dining-room, saying,-
"At your service, gentlemen."
Cyrus Harding gave him his hand, as was his custom
to do, and, leading him to the window,-
"Ayrton," said he, "we have begged you to come here
for an important reason. A ship is in sight of the
Ayrton at first paled slightly, and for a moment his eyes
became dim; then, leaning out of the window, he surveyed
the horizon, but could see nothing.
"Take this telescope," said Spilett, "and look carefully
Ayrton, for it is possible that this ship may be the 'Dun-
can' come to these seas for the purpose of taking you
home again."
"The 'Duncan!'" murmured Ayrton. "Already?"


This last word escaped Ayrton's lips as if involuntarily,
and his head drooped upon his hands.
Did not twelve years' solitude on a desert island appear
to him a sufficient expiation? Did not the penitent yet
feel himself pardoned, either in his own eyes or in the eyes
of others ?
"No," said he, "no! it cannot be the 'Duncan!'
"Look, Ayrton," then said the engineer, "for it is
necessary that we should know beforehand what to expect."
Ayrton took the glass and pointed it in the direction
indicated. During some minutes he examined the horizon
without moving, without uttering a word. Then,-
"It is indeed a vessel," said he, "but I do not think she
is the 'Duncan.' "
Why do you not think so ?" asked Gideon Spilett.
"Because the 'Duncan' is a steam-yacht, and I cannot
perceive any trace of smoke either above or near that
Perhaps she is simply sailing," observed Pencroft.
"The wind is favourable for the direction which she
appears to be taking, and she may be anxious to economize
her coal, being s6 far from land."
"It is possible that you may be right, Mr. Pencroft,"
answered Ayrton, "and that the vessel has extinguished
her fires. We must wait until she is nearer, and then we
shall soon know what to expect."

Page 8.


So saying, Ayrton sat down in a corner of the room and
remained silent. The colonists again discussed the strange
ship, but Ayrton took no part in the conversation. All
were in such a mood that they found it impossible to con-
tinue their work. Gideon Spilett and Pencroft were par-
ticularly nervous, going, coming, not able to remain still in
one place. Herbert felt more curiosity. Neb alone main-
tained his usual calm manner. Was not his country that
where his master was? As to the engineer, he remained
plunged in deep thought, and in his heart feared rather
than desired the arrival of the ship. In the meanwhile, the
vessel was a little nearer the island. With the aid of the
glass, it was ascertained that she was a brig, and not one
of those .Malay proas, which are generally used by the
pirates of the Pacific. It was, therefore, reasonable to
believe that the engineer's apprehensions would not be
justified, and that the presence of this vessel in the vicinity
of the island was fraught with no danger. Pencroft, after a
minute examination, was able positively to affirm that the
vessel was rigged as a brig, and that she was standing
obliquely towards the coast, on the starboard tack, under
her topsails and topgallant-sails. This was confirmed by
Ayrton. But by continuing in this direction she must soon
disappear behind Claw Cape, as the wind was from the south-
west, and to watch her it would be then necessary to ascend
the heights of Washington Bay, near Port Balloon-a pro-


evoking circumstance, for it was already five o'clock in the
evening, and the twilight would soon make any observation
extremely difficult.
"What shall we do when night comes on ?" asked Gideon
Spilett. Shall we light a fire, so as to signal our presence,
on the coast ?"
This was a serious question, and yet, although the engi-
neer still retained some of his presentiments, it was answered
in the affirmative. During the night the ship might dis-
appear and leave for ever, and, this ship gone, would
another ever return to the waters of Lincoln Island ? Who
could foresee what the future would then have in store for
the colonists ?
"Yes," said the reporter, "we ought to make known
to that vessel, whoever she may be, that the island is
inhabited. To neglect the opportunity which is offered to
us might be to create everlasting regrets."
It was, therefore, decided that Neb and Pencroft should
go to Port Balloon, and that there, at nightfall, they should
light an immense fire, the blaze of which would necessarily
attract the attention of the brig.
But at the moment when Neb and the sailor were pre-
paring to leave Granite House, the vessel suddenly altered
her course, and stood directly for Union Bay. The brig
was a good sailer, for she approached rapidly. Neb and
Pencroft put off their departure, therefore, and the glass


was put into Ayrton's hands, that he might ascertain for
certain whether the ship was or was not the Duncan."
The Scotch yacht was also rigged as a brig. The question
was, whether a chimney could be discerned between the
two masts of the vessel, which was now at a distance of only
five miles.
The horizon was still very clear. The examination was
easy, and Ayrton soon let the glass fall again, saying,-
"It is not the 'Duncan'! It could not be her!"
Pencroft again brought the brig within the range of the
telescope, and could see that she was of between three and
four hundred tons burden, wonderfully narrow, well-masted,
admirably built, and must be a very rapid sailer. But
to what nation did she belong? That was difficult to
"And yet," added the sailor, "a flag is floating from her
peak, but I cannot distinguish the colours of it."
"In half an hour we shall be certain about that,"
answered the reporter. "Besides, it is very evident that
the intention of the captain of this ship is to land, and,
consequently, if not to-day, to-morrow at the latest, we
shall make his acquaintance.
"Never mind!" said Pencroft. "It is best to know
whom we have to deal with, and I shall not be sorry to
recognize that fellow's colours !"
And, while thus speaking, the sailor never left the glass.


The day began to fade, and with the day the breeze fell
also. The brig's ensign hung in folds, and it became more
and more difficult to observe it.
"It is not the American flag," said Pencroft from time
to time, "nor the English, the red of which could be easily
seen, nor the French or German colours, nor the white
flag of Russia, nor the yellow of Spain. One would say
it was all one colour. Let's see: in these seas, what do
we generally meet with ? The Chilian flag ?-but that is
tri-colour. Brazilian ?-it is green. Japanese ?-it is yellow
and black, whilst this-"
At that moment the breeze blew out the unknown flag.
Ayrton, seizing the telescope which the sailor had put
down, put it to his eye, and in a hoarse voice,-
"The black flag !" he exclaimed.
And indeed the sombre bunting was floating from the
mast of the brig, and they had now good reason for con-
sidering her to be a suspicious vessel!
Had the engineer, then, been right in his presentiments?
Was this a pirate vessel ? Did she scour the Pacific, com-
peting with the Malay proas which still infest it ? For
what had she come to look at the shores of Lincoln Island ?
Was it to them an unknown island, ready to become a
magazine for stolen cargoes? Had she come to find on
the coast a sheltered port for the winter months ? Was
the settler's honest domain destined to be transformed into

I' ik


Page 12.


an infamous refuge-the head-quarters of the piracy of the
Pacific ?
All these ideas instinctively presented themselves to the
colonists' imaginations. There was no doubt, besides, of the
signification which must be attached to the colour of the
hoisted flag. It was that of pirates It was that which
the "Duncan" would have carried, had the convicts suc-
ceeded in their criminal design! No time was lost before
discussing it.
"My friends," said Cyrus Harding, "perhaps this vessel
only wishes to survey the coast of the island. Perhaps her
crew will not land. There is a chance of it. However
that may be, we ought to do everything we can to hide
our presence here. The windmill on Prospect Heights is
too easily seen. Let Ayrton and Neb go and take down
the sails. We must also conceal the windows of Granite
House with thick branches. All the fires must be ex-
tinguished, so that nothing may betray the presence of
men on the island."
"And our vessel ?" said Herbert.
"Oh," answered Pencroft, "she is sheltered in Port
Balloon, and I defy any of those rascals there to find
her !"
The engineer's orders were immediately executed. Neb
and Ayrton ascended the plateau, and took the necessary
precautions to conceal any indication of a settlement.


Whilst they were thus occupied, their companions went to
the border of Jacamar Wood, and brought back a large
quantity of branches and creepers, which would at some
distance appear as natural foliage, and thus disguise the
windows in the granite cliff. At the same time, the
ammunition and guns were placed ready so as to be at
hand in case of an unexpected attack.
When all these precautions had been taken,-
My friends," said Harding, and his voice betrayed
some emotion, "if these wretches endeavour to seize Lin-
coln Island, we shall defend it-shall we not ?"
"Yes, Cyrus," replied the reporter, "and if necessary we
will die to defend it !"
The engineer extended his hand to his companions, who
pressed it warmly.
Ayrton alone remained in his corner, not joining the
colonists. Perhaps he, the former convict,- still felt himself
unworthy to do so!
Cyrus Harding understood what was passing in Ayrton's
mind, and going to him-
"And you, Ayrton," he asked, "what will you do ?"
"My duty," answered Ayrton.
He then took up his station near the window and gazed
through the foliage.
It was now half-past seven. The sun had disappeared
twenty minutes ago behind Granite House. Consequently


the Eastern horizon was becoming gradually obscured. In
the meanwhile the brig continued to advance towards
Union Bay. She was now not more than two miles off,
and exactly opposite the plateau of Prospect Heights, for
after having tacked off Claw Cape, she had drifted towards
the north in the current of the rising tide. One might
have said that at this distance she had already entered the
vast bay, for a straight line drawn from Claw Cape to
Cape Mandible would have rested on her starboard
Was the brig about to penetrate far into the bay? That
was the first question. When once in the bay, would she
anchor there? That was the second. Would she not
content herself with only surveying the coast, and stand
out to sea again without landing her crew ? They would
know this in an hour. The colonists could do nothing
but wait.
Cyrus Harding had not seen the suspected vessel hoist
the black flag without deep anxiety. Was it not a direct
menace against the work which he and his companions had
till now conducted so successfully? Had these pirates-
for the sailors of the brig could be nothing else-already
visited the island, since on approaching it they had hoisted
their colours. Had they formerly invaded it, so that
certain unaccountable peculiarities might be explained
in this way? Did there exist in the as yet unexplored


parts some accomplice ready to enter into communication
with them ?
To all these questions which he mentally asked himself,
Harding knew not what to reply; but he felt that the safety
of the colony could not but be seriously threatened by the
arrival of the brig.
However, he and his companions were determined to
fight to the last gasp. It would have been very important
to know if the pirates were numerous and better armed
than the colonists. But how was this information to be
obtained ?
Night fell. The new moon had disappeared. Profound
darkness enveloped the island and the sea. No light could
pierce through the heavy piles of clouds on the horizon.
The wind had died away completely with the twilight.
Not a leaf rustled on the trees, not a ripple murmured on
the shore. Nothing could be seen of the ship, all her lights
being extinguished, and if she was still in sight of the
island, her whereabouts could not be discovered.
"Well! who knows?" said Pencroft. "Perhaps that
cursed craft will stand off during the night, and we shall
see nothing of her at daybreak."
As if in reply to the sailor's observation, a bright light
flashed in the darkness, and a cannon-shot was heard.
The vessel was still there and had guns on board.
Six seconds elapsed between the flash and the report.


Therefore the brig was about a mile and a quarter
from the coast.
At the same time, the chains were heard rattling through
the hawse-holes.
The vessel had just anchored in sight of Granite House!




THERE was no longer any doubt as to the pirates' inten-
tions. They had dropped anchor at a short distance
from the island, and it was evident that the next day
by means of their boats they purposed to land on the
Cyrus Harding and his companions were ready to act,
but, determined though they were, they must not forget to
be prudent. Perhaps their presence might still be con-
cealed in the event of the pirates contenting themselves
with landing on the shore without examining the interior
of the island. It might be, indeed, that their only intention
was to obtain fresh water from the Mercy, and it was not
impossible that the bridge, thrown across a mile and a half


from the mouth, and the manufactory at the Chimneys
might escape their notice.
But why was that flag hoisted at the brig's peak ? What
was that shot fired for? Pure bravado doubtless, unless it
was a sign of the act of taking possession. Harding knew
now that the vessel was well armed. And what had the
colonists of Lincoln Island to reply to the pirates' guns ?
A few muskets only.
"However," observed Cyrus Harding, "here we are in
an impregnable position. The enemy cannot discover the
mouth of the outlet, now that it is hidden under reeds and
grass, and consequently it would be impossible for them to
penetrate into Granite House."
"But our plantations, our poultry-yard, our corral, all,
everything!" exclaimed Pencroft, stamping his foot. "They
may spoil everything, destroy everything in a few hours !"
Everything, Pencroft," answered Harding, and we have
no means of preventing them."
"Are they numerous? that is the question," said the
reporter. "If they are not more than a dozen, we shall be
able to stop them, but forty, fifty, more perhaps !"
"Captain Harding," then said Ayrton, advancing towards
the engineer, "will you give me leave."
For what, my friend ?"
"To go to that vessel to find out the strength of her


"But Ayrton-" answered the engineer, hesitating, "you
will risk your life-"
"Why not, sir?"
"That is more than your duty."
I have more than my duty to do," replied Ayrton.
"Will you go to the ship in the boat ?" asked Gideon
No, sir, but I will swim. A boat would be seen where
a man may glide between wind and water."
"Do you know that the brig is a mile and a quarter
from the shore ?" said Herbert.
I am a good swimmer, Mr. Herbert."
"I tell you it is risking your life," said the engineer.
"That is no matter," answered Ayrton. "Captain
Harding, I ask this as a favour. Perhaps it will be a
means of raising me in my own eyes "
Go, Ayrton," replied the engineer, who felt sure that a
refusal would have deeply wounded the former convict,
now become an honest man.
"I will accompany you," said Pencroft.
"You mistrust me!" said Ayrton quickly.
Then more humbly,-
"Alas! "
"No! no!" exclaimed Harding with animation, "no,
Ayrton, Pencroft does not mistrust you. You interpret
his words wrongly."


Indeed," returned the sailor, I only propose to accom-
pany Ayrton as far as the islet. It may be, although it is
scarcely possible, that one of these villains has landed, and
in that case two men will not be too many to hinder him
from giving the alarm. I will wait for Ayrton on the islet,
and he shall go alone to the vessel, since he has proposed to
do so." These things agreed to, Ayrton made preparations
for his departure. His plan was bold, but it might succeed,
thanks to the darkness of the night. Once arrived at the
vessel's side, Ayrton, holding on to the main chains, might
reconnoitre the number and perhaps overhear the intentions
of the pirates.
Ayrton and Pencroft, followed by their companions, de-
scended to the beach. Ayrton undressed and rubbed him-
self with grease, so as to suffer less from the temperature
of the water, which was still cold. He might, indeed, be
obliged to remain in it for several hours.
Pencroft and Nel', during this time, had gone to fetch
the boat, moored a few hundred feet higher up, on the bank
of the Mercy, and by the time they returned, Ayrton was
ready to start. A coat was thrown over his shoulders, and
the settlers all came round him to press his hand.
Ayrton then shoved off with Pencroft in the boat.
It was half-past ten in the evening when the two
adventurers disappeared in the darkness. Their com-
panions returned to wait at the Chimneys.


The channel was easily traversed, and the boat touched
the opposite shore of the islet. This was not done without
precaution, for fear lest the pirates might be roaming
about there. But after a careful survey, it was evident that
the islet was deserted. Ayrton then, followed by Pencroft,
crossed it with a rapid step, scaring the birds nestled in
the holes of the rocks ; then, without hesitating, he plunged
into the sea, and swam noiselessly in the direction of the
ship, in which a few lights had recently appeared, showing
her exact situation. As to Pencroft, he crouched down in
a cleft of the rock, and awaited the return of his companion.
In the meanwhile, Ayrton, swimming with a vigorous
stroke, glided through the sheet of water without producing
the slightest ripple. His head just emerged above it and
his eyes were fixed on the dark hull of the brig, from which
the lights were reflected in the water. He thought only of
the duty which he had promised to accomplish, and nothing
of the danger which he ran, not only on board the ship,
but in the sea, often frequented by sharks. The current
bore him along and he rapidly receded from the shore.
Half an hour afterwards, Ayrton, without having been
either seen or heard, arrived at the ship and caught hold of
the main-chains. He took breath, then, hoisting himself
up, he managed to reach the extremity of the cutwater.
There were drying several pairs of sailors' trousers. He
put on a pair. Then settling himself firmly, he listened.

Page 22.

Page 23.


They were not sleeping on board the brig. On the con-
trary, 'they were talking, singing, laughing. And these
were the sentences, accompanied with oaths, which princi-
pally struck Ayrton :-
Our brig is a famous acquisition."
"She sails well, and merits her name of the 'Speedy.'"
She would show all the navy of Norfolk a clean pair of
"Hurrah for her captain !"
Hurrah for Bob Harvey !"
What Ayrton felt when he overheard this fragment o;
conversation may be understood when it is known that in
this Bob Harvey he recognized one of his old Australian
companions, a daring sailor, who had continued his criminal
career. Bob Harvey had seized, on the shores of Norfolk
Island, this brig, which was loaded with arms, ammunition,
utensils, and tools of all sorts, destined for one of the
Sandwich Islands. All his gang had gone on board, and
pirates after having been convicts, these wretches, more
ferocious than the Malays themselves, scoured the Pacific,
destroying vessels, and massacring their crews.
The convicts spoke loudly, they recounted their deeds,
drinking deeply at the same time, and this is what Ayrton
gathered. The actual crew of the Speedy was composed
solely of English prisoners, escaped from Norfolk Island.
Here it may be well to explain what this island was.


In 290 2' south latitude, and 1650 42' east longitude, to
the east of Australia, is found a little island, six miles in
circumference, overlooked by Mount Pitt, which rises
to a height of Iloo feet above the level of the
sea.. This is Norfolk Island, once the seat of an
establishment in which were lodged the most intractable
convicts from the English penitentiaries. They numbered
500, under an iron discipline, threatened with terrible
punishments, and were guarded by 150 soldiers, and
150 employed under the orders of the governor. It
would be difficult to imagine a collection of greater
ruffians. Sometimes,-although very rarely,-notwith-
standing the extreme surveillance of which they were the
object, many managed to escape, and seizing vessels which
they surprised, they infested the Polynesian Archipelagos.'
Thus had Bob Harvey and his companions done.
Thus had Ayrton formerly wished to do. Bob Harvey
had seized the brig "Speedy," anchored in sight of
Norfolk Island; the crew had been massacred; and for a
year this ship had scoured the Pacific, under the command
of Harvey, now a pirate, and well known to Ayrton !
The convicts were, for the most part, assembled under
the poop; but a few, stretched on the deck, were talking
1 Norfolk Island has long since been abandoned as a penal


The conversation still continued amidst shouts and
libations. Ayrton learned that chance alone had brought
the "Speedy" in sight of Lincoln Island: Bob Harvey
had never yet set foot on it; but, as Cyrus Harding
had conjectured, finding this unknown land in his course,
its position being marked on no chart, he had formed
the project of visiting it, and, if he found it suitable,
of making it the brig's head-quarters.
As to the black flag hoisted at the "Speedy's" peak,
and the gun which had been fired, in imitation of men-
of-war when they lower their colours, it was pure
piratical bravado. It was in no way a signal, and no
communication yet existed between the convicts and
Lincoln Island.
The settlers' domain was now menaced with terrible
danger. Evidently the island, with its water, its harbour,
its resources of all kinds so increased in value by the
colonists, and the concealment afforded by Granite
House, could not but be convenient for the convicts;
in their hands it "would become an excellent place of
refuge, and, being unknown, it would assure them, for
a long time perhaps, impunity and security. Evidently,
also, the lives of the settlers' would not be respected,
and Bob Harvey and his accomplices' first care would
be to massacre them without mercy. Harding and his
companions had, therefore, not even the choice of


fying and hiding themselves in the island, since the
convicts intended to reside there, and since, in the event
of the "Speedy" departing on an expedition, it was
probable that some of the crew would remain on shore,
so as to settle themselves there. Therefore, it would
be necessary to fight, to destroy every one of these
scoundrels, unworthy of pity, and against whom any
means would be right. So thought Ayrton, and he
well knew that Cyrus Harding would be of his way
of thinking.
But was resistance and, in the last place, victory
possible? That would depend on the equipment of the
brig, and the number of men which she carried.
This Ayrton resolved to learn at any cost, and as an
hour after his arrival the vociferations had begun to
die away, and as a large number of the convicts were
already buried in a drunken sleep, Ayrton did not
hesitate to venture on to the "Speedy's" deck, which
the extinguished lanterns now left in total darkness.
He hoisted himself on to the cutwater, and by the
bowsprit arrived at the forecastle. Then, gliding among
the convicts stretched here and there, he made the
round of the ship, and found that the "Speedy" carried
four guns, which would throw shot of from eight to
ten pounds in weight. He found also, on touching
them, that these guns were breech-loaders. They were,


therefore, of modern make, easily used, and of terrible
As to the men lying on the deck, they were about ten
in number, but it was to be supposed that more were
sleeping down below. Besides, by listening to them,
Ayrton had understood that there were fifty on board.
That was a large number for the six settlers of Lincoln
Island to contend with But now, thanks to Ayrton's
devotion, Cyrus Harding would not be surprised, he would
know the strength of his adversaries, and would make his
arrangements accordingly.
There was nothing more for Ayrton to do but to
return, and render to his companions an account of the
mission with which he had charged himself, and he
prepared to regain the bows of the brig, so that he
might let himself down into the water.
But to this man, whose wish was, as he had said, to
do more than his duty, there came an heroic thought.
This was to sacrifice his own life, but save the island
and the colonists. Cyrus Harding evidently could not
resist fifty ruffians, all well armed, who, either by
penetrating by main force into Granite House, or by
starving out the besieged, could obtain from them
what they wanted. And then he thought of his pre-
servers-those who had made him again a man, and an
honest man, those to whom he owed all-murdered


without pity, their works destroyed, their island turned
into a pirates' den! He said to himself that he, Ayrton,
was the principal cause of so many disasters, since his
old companion, Bob Harvey, had but realized his own
plans, and a feeling of horror took possession of him.
Then he was seized with an irresistible desire to blow
up the brig, and with her, all whom she had on board.
He would perish in the explosion, but he would have
done his duty.
Ayrton did not hesitate. To reach the powder-room,
which is always situated in the after-part of a vessel,
was easy. There would be no want of powder in a
vessel which followed such a trade, and a spark would
be enough to destroy it in an instant.
Ayrton stole carefully along the between-decks, strewn
with numerous sleepers, overcome more by drunkenness
than sleep. A lantern was lighted at the foot of the
mainmast, round which was hung a gun-rack, furnished
with weapons of all sorts.
Ayrton took a revolver from the rack, and assured
himself that it was loaded and primed. Nothing more
was needed to accomplish the work of destruction. He
then glided towards the stern, so as to arrive under the
brig's poop at the powder-magazine.
It was difficult to proceed along the dimly-lighted deck
without stumbling over ,some half-sleeping convict, who

t Page 29.


retorted by oaths and kicks. Ayrton was, therefore, more
than once obliged to halt. But at last he arrived at the
partition dividing the after-cabin, and found the door
opening into the magazine itself.
Ayrton, compelled to force it open, set to work. It
was a difficult operation to perform without noise, for
he had to break a padlock. But under his vigorous
hand, the padlock broke, and the door was open.
At that moment a hand was laid on Ayrton's shoulder.
"What are you doing here?" asked a tall man, in a
harsh voice, who, standing in the shadow, quickly threw
the light of a lantern on Ayrton's face.
Ayrton drew back. In the rapid flash of the lantern,
he had recognized his former accomplice, Bob Harvey,
who could not have known him, as he must have thought
Ayrton long since dead.
'What are you doing here ?" again said Bob Harvey,
seizing Ayrton by the waistband.
But Ayrton, without replying, wrenched himself from
his grasp and attempted to rush into the magazine.. A
shot fired into the midst of the powder-casks, and all would
be over!
Help, lads!" shouted Bob Harvey.
At his shout two or three pirates awoke, jumped up,
and, rushing on Ayrton, endeavoured to throw him down.
He soon extricated himself from their grasp. He fired his


revolver, and two of the convicts fell; but a blow from a
knife which he could not ward off made a gash in his
Ayrton perceived that he could no longer hope to carry
out his project. Bob Harvey had reclosed the door of the
powder-magazine, and a movement on the deck indicated
a general awakening of the pirates. Ayrton must reserve
himself to fight at the side of Cyrus Harding. There was
nothing for him but flight!
But was flight still possible? It was doubtful, yet
Ayrton resolved to dare everything in order to rejoin his
Four barrels of the revolver were still undischarged.
Two were fired-one, aimed at Bob Harvey, did not wound
him, or at any rate only slightly; and Ayrton, profiting
by the momentary retreat of his adversaries, rushed towards
the companion-ladder to gain the deck. Passing before
the lantern, he smashed it with a blow from the butt of
his revolver. A profound darkness ensued, which favoured
his flight. Two or three pirates, awakened by the noise,
were descending the ladder at the same moment. A fifth
shot from Ayrton laid one low, and the others drew back,
not understanding what was going on. Ayrton was on deck
in two bounds, and three seconds later, having discharged
his last barrel in the face of a pirate who was about to seize
him by the throat, he leapt over the bulwarks into the sea.

Page 30.


Ayrton had not made six strokes before shots were
splashing around him like hail.
What were Pencroft's feelings, sheltered under a rock
on the islet! what were those of Harding, the reporter,
Herbert, and Neb, crouched in the Chimneys, when they
heard the reports on board the brig! They rushed out on
to the beach, and, their guns shouldered, they stood ready
to repel any attack.
They had no doubt about it themselves! Ayrton, sur-
prised by the pirates, had been murdered, and, perhaps,
the wretches would profit by the night to make a descent
on the island!
Half an hour was passed in terrible anxiety. The firing
had ceased, and yet neither Ayrton nor Pencroft had
reappeared. Was the islet invaded ? Ought they not to
fly to the help of Ayrton and Pencroft ? But how? The
tide being high at that time, rendered the channel im-
passable. The boat was not there! We may imagine the
horrible anxiety which took possession of Harding and
his companions!
At last, towards half-past twelve, a boat, carrying two
men, touched the beach. It was Ayrton, slightly wounded
in the shoulder, and Pencroft, safe and sound, whom their
friends received with open arms.
All immediately took refuge in the Chimneys. There
Ayrton recounted all that had passed, even to his plan


for blowing up the brig, which he had attempted to put
into execution.
All hands were extended to Ayrton, who did not conceal
from them that their situation was serious. The pirates
had been alarmed. They knew that Lincoln Island was in-
habited. They would land upon it in numbers and well
armed. They would respect nothing. Should the settlers
fall into their hands, they must expect no mercy!
Well, we shall know how to die !" said the reporter.
Let us go in and watch," answered the engineer.
"Have we any chance of escape, captain ?" asked the
"Yes, Pencroft."
"Hum six against fifty !"
"Yes! six! without counting-"
"Who?" asked Pencroft.
Cyrus did not reply, but pointed upwards.




THE night passed without incident. The colonists were
on the qui vive, and did not leave their post at the
Chimneys. The pirates, on their side, did not appear to
have made any attempt to land. Since the last shots fired
at Ayrton not a report, not even a sound, had betrayed
the presence of the brig in the neighbourhood of the
island. It might have been fancied that she had weighed
anchor, thinking that she had to deal with her match, and
had left the coast.
But it was no such thing, and when day began to dawn
the settlers could see a confused mass through the morning
mist. It was the Speedy."


These, my friends," said the engineer, are the arrange-
ments which appear to me best to make before the fog
completely clears away. It hides us from the eyes of the
pirates, and we can act without attracting their attention.
The most important thing is, that the convicts should
believe that the inhabitants of the island are numerous,
and consequently capable of resisting them. I therefore
propose that we divide into three parties, the first of
which shall be posted at the Chimneys, the second at the
mouth of the Mercy. As to the third, I think it would be
best to place it on the islet, so as to prevent, or at all
events delay, any attempt at landing. We have the use of
two rifles and four muskets. Each of us will be armed,
and, as we are amply provided with powder and shot, we
need not spare our fire. We have nothing to fear from the
muskets, nor even from the guns of the brig. What can
they do against these rocks? And, as we shall not fire
from the windows of Granite House, the pirates will not
think of causing irreparable damage by throwing shell
against it. What is to be feared is, the necessity of meeting
hand-to-hand, since the convicts have numbers on their
side. We must, therefore, try to prevent them from land-
ing, but without discovering ourselves. Therefore, do not
economize the ammunition. Fire often, but with a sure
aim. We have- each eight or ten enemies to kill, and they
must be killed "


Cyrus Harding had clearly represented their situation,
although he spoke in the calmest voice, as if it was a
question of directing a piece of work, and not ordering
a battle. His companions approved these arrangements
without even uttering a word. There was nothing more
to be done but for each to take his place before the fog
should be completely dissipated. Neb and Pencroft im-
mediately ascended to Granite House and brought back a
sufficient quantity of ammunition. Gideon Spilett and
Ayrton, both very good marksmen, were armed with the
two rifles, which carried nearly a mile. The four other
muskets were divided amongst Harding, Neb, Pencroft,
and Herbert.
The posts were arranged in the following man-
Cyrus Harding and Herbert remained in ambush at the
Chimneys, thus commanding the shore to the foot of
Granite House.
Gideon Spilett and Neb crouched among the rocks at the
mouth of the Mercy, from which the drawbridges had been
raised, so as to prevent any one from crossing in a boat or
landing on the opposite shore.
As to Ayrton and Pencroft, they shoved off in the boat,
and prepared to cross the channel and to take up two sepa-
rate stations on the islet. In this way, shots being fired
from four different points at once, the convicts would be led


to believe that the island was both largely peopled and
strongly defended.
In the event of a landing being effected without their
having been able to prevent it, and also if they saw that
they were on the point of being cut off by the brig's boat,
Ayrton and Pencroft were to return in their boat to the
shore and proceed towards the threatened spot.
Before starting to occupy their posts, the colonists for
the last time wrung each other's hands.
Pencroft succeeded in controlling himself sufficiently to
suppress his emotion when he embraced Herbert, his boy!
.and then they separated.
In a few moments Harding and Herbert on one side, the
reporter r and Neb on the other, had disappeared behind the
:rocks, and five minutes later Ayrton and Pencroft, having
without difficulty crossed the channel, disembarked on the islet
.and concealed themselves in the clefts of its eastern shore.
None of them could have been seen, for they them-
selves could scarcely distinguish the brig in the fog.
It was half-past six in the morning.
Soon the fog began to clear away, and the topmasts
of the brig issued from the vapour. For some minutes
great masses rolled over the surface of the sea, then a
breeze sprang up, which rapidly dispelled the mist.
The "Speedy" now appeared in full view, with a
spring on her cable, her head to the north, presenting her


larboard side to the island. Just as Harding had calcu-
lated, she was not more than a mile and a quarter from
the coast.
The sinister black flag floated from the peak.
The engineer, with his telescope, could see that the
four guns on board were pointed at the island. They
were evidently ready to fire at a moment's notice.
In the meanwhile the "Speedy" remained silent.
About thirty pirates could be seen moving on the deck.
A few were on the poop; two others posted in the shrouds,
and armed with spy-glasses, were attentively surveying
the island.
Certainly, Bob Harvey and his crew would not be able
easily to give an account of what had happened during
the night on board the brig. Had this half-naked man,
who had forced the door of the powder-magazine, and
with whom they had struggled, who had six times
discharged his revolver at them, who had killed one
and wounded two others, escaped their shot? Had
he been able to swim to shore ? Whence did he
come? What had been his object? Had his design
really been to blow up the brig, as Bob Harvey had
thought ? All this must be confused enough to the con-
victs' minds. But what they could no longer doubt was
that the unknown island before which the "Speedy"
had cast anchor was inhabited, and that there was,


perhaps, a numerous colony ready to defend it. And yet
no one was to be seen, neither on the shore, nor on the
heights. The beach appeared to be absolutely deserted.
At any rate, there was no trace of dwellings. Had the
inhabitants fled into the interior ? Thus probably the
pirate captain reasoned, and doubtless, like a prudent
man, he wished to reconnoitre the locality before he
allowed his men to venture there.
During an hour and a half, no indication of attack or
landing could be observed on board the brig. Evidently
Bob Harvey was hesitating. Even with his strongest
telescopes he could not have perceived one of the settlers
crouched among the rocks. It was not even probable that
his attention had been awakened by the screen of green
branches and creepers hiding the windows of Granite
House, and showing rather conspicuously on the bare
rock. Indeed, how could he imagine that a dwelling was
hollowed out, at that height, in the solid granite. From
Claw Cape to the Mandible Capes, in all the extent of
Union Bay, there was nothing to lead him to suppose
that the island was or could be inhabited.
At eight o'clock, however, the colonists observed a
movement on board the Speedy." A boat was lowered,
and seven men jumped into her. They were armed with
muskets: one took the yoke-lines, four others the oars,
and the two others, kneeling in the bows, ready to fire,


t Page 39-


reconnoitred the island. Their object was no doubt to
make an examination but not to land, for in the latter
case they would have come in larger numbers. The
pirates from their look-out could have seen that the coast
was sheltered by an islet, separated from it by a channel
half a mile in width. However, it was soon evident to
Cyrus Harding, on observing the direction followed by the
boat, that they would not attempt to penetrate into the
channel, but would land on the islet.
Pencroft and Ayrton, each hidden in a narrow cleft of
the rock, saw them coming directly towards them, and
waited till they were within range.
The boat advanced with extreme caution. The oars
only dipped into the water at long intervals. It could
now be seen that one of the convicts held a lead-line in
his hand, and that he wished to fathom the depth of the
channel hollowed out by the current of the Mercy. This
showed that it was Bob Harvey's intention to bring his
brig as near as possible to the coast. About thirty pirates,
scattered in the rigging, followed every movement of the
boat, and took the bearings of certain landmarks which
would allow them to approach without danger. The boat
was not more than two cables-lengths off the islet when
she stopped. The man at the tiller stood up and looked
for the best place at which to land.
At that moment two shots were heard. Smoke curled


-up from among the rocks of the islet. The man at the
helm and the man with the lead-line fell backwards into
the boat. Ayrton's and Pencroft's balls had struck them
both at the same moment.
Almost immediately a louder report was heard, a cloud
of smoke issued from the brig's side, and a ball, striking
the- summit of the rock which sheltered Ayrton and
Pencroft, made it fly in splinters, but the two marksmen
remained unhurt.
Horrible imprecations burst from the boat, which im-
mediately continued its way. The man who had been
at the tiller was replaced by one of his comrades, and
the oars were rapidly plunged into the water. However,
instead of returning on board as might have been ex-
pected, the boat coasted along the islet, so as to round
its southern point. The pirates pulled vigorously at
their oars that they might get out of range of the
They advanced to within five cables-lengths of that
part of the shore terminated by Flotsam Point, and after
having rounded it in a semicircular line, still protected
by the brig's guns, they proceeded towards the mouth of
the Mercy,
Their evident intention was to penetrate into the
channel, and cut off the colonists posted on the islet, in
such a way, that whatever their number might be, being


placed between the fire from the boat and the fire from
the brig, they would find themselves in a very disad-
vantageous position.
A quarter of an hour passed whilst the boat advanced
in this direction. Absolute silence, perfect calm reigned
in the air and on the water.
Pencroft and Ayrton, although they knew they ran
the risk of being cut off, had not left their post, both
that they did not wish to show themselves as yet to
their assailants, and expose themselves to the Speedy's"
guns, and that they relied on Neb and Gideon Spilett,
watching at the mouth of the river, and on Cyrus
Harding and Herbert, in ambush among the rocks at
he Chimneys.
Twenty minutes after the first shots were fired, the
boat was less than two cables-lengths off the Mercy.
As the tide was beginning to rise with its accustomed
violence, caused by the narrowness of the straits, the
pirates were drawn towards the river, and it was only
by dint of hard rowing that they were able to keep in
the middle of the channel. But, as they were passing
within good range of the mouth of the Mercy, two balls
saluted them, and two more of their number were laid
in the bottom of the boat. Neb and Spilett had not
missed their aim.
The brig immediately sent a second ball on the post


betrayed by the smoke, but without any other result
than that of splintering the rock.
The boat now contained only three able men. Carried
on by the current, it shot through the channel with
the rapidity of an arrow, passed before Harding and
Herbert, who, not thinking it within range, withheld their
fire, then, founding the northern point of the islet with
the two remaining oars, they pulled towards the brig.
Hitherto the settlers had nothing to complain of.
Their adversaries had certainly had the worst of it.
The latter already counted four men seriously wounded
if not dead; they, on the contrary, unwounded, had
not missed a shot. If the pirates continued to attack
them in this way, if they renewed their attempt to
land by means of a boat, they could be destroyed
one by one.
It was now seen how advantageous the engineer's
arrangements had been. The pirates would think that
they had to deal with numerous and well armed ad-
versaries, whom they could not easily get the better of.
Half an hour passed before the boat, having to pull
against the current, could get alongside the "Speedy."
Frightful cries were heard when they returned on board
with the wounded, and two or three guns were fired
with no result.
But now about a dozen other convicts, maddened with


rage, and possibly by the effect of the evening's pota-
tions, threw themselves into the boat. A second boat
was also lowered, in which eight men took their places,
and whilst the first pulled straight for the islet, to dis-
lodge the colonists from thence, the second manceuvred
so as to force the entrance of the Mercy.
The situation was evidently becoming very dangerous
for Pencroft and Ayrton, and they saw that they must
regain the mainland.
However, they waited till the first boat was within
range, when two well-directed balls threw its crew into
disorder. Then, Pencroft and Ayrton, abandoning their
posts, under fire from the dozen muskets, ran across the
islet at full speed, jumped into their boat, crossed the
channel at the moment the second boat reached the
southern end, and ran to hide themselves in the. Chim-
They had scarcely rejoined Cyrus Harding and Her-
bert, before the islet was overrun with pirates in every
direction. Almost at the same moment, fresh reports
resounded from the Mercy station, to which the second
boat was rapidly approaching. Two, out of the eight
men who manned her, were mortally wounded by Gideon
Spilett and Neb, and the boat herself, carried irresistibly
on to the reefs, was stove in at the mouth of the Mercy.
But the six survivors, holding their muskets above their


heads to preserve them from contact with the water,
managed to land on the right bank of the river. Then,
finding they were exposed to the fire of the ambush
there, they fled in the direction of Flotsam Point, out
of range of the balls.
The actual situation was this: on the islet were a
dozen convicts, of whom some were no doubt wounded,
but who had still a boat at their disposal; on the island
were six, but who could not by any possibility reach
Granite House, as they could not cross the river, all the
bridges being raised.
Hallo," exclaimed Pencroft as he rushed into the
Chimneys, "hallo, captain! What do you think of it,
now ?"
"I think," answered the engineer, "that the combat,
will now take a new form, for it cannot be supposed
that the convicts will be so foolish as to remain in a
position so unfavourable for them!"
"They won't cross the channel," said the sailor.
"Ayrton and Mr. Spilett's rifles are there to prevent
them. You know that they carry more than a mile!"
No doubt," replied Herbert; "but what can two rifles
do against the brig's guns ?"
"Well, the brig isn't in the channel yet, I fancy!"
said Pencroft.
But suppose she does come there ?" said Harding.


"That's impossible, for she would risk running aground
and being lost! "
"It is possible," said Ayrton. "The convicts might
profit by the high tide to enter the channel, with the
risk of grounding at low tide, it is true; but then,
under the fire from her guns, our posts would be no
longer tenable."
"Confound them!" exclaimed Pencroft, "It really
seems as if the blackguards were preparing to weigh
"Perhaps we shall be obliged to take refuge in Granite
House !" observed Herbert.
"We must wait !" answered Cyrus Harding.
"But Mr. Spilett and Neb ?" said Pencroft.
"They will know when it is best to rejoin us. Be
ready, Ayrton. It is yours and Spilett's rifles which must
speak now."
It was only too true. The "Speedy" was beginning
to weigh her anchor, and her intention was evidently
to approach the islet. The tide would be rising for an
hour and a half, and the ebb current being already
weakened, it would be easy for the brig to advance.
But as to entering the channel, Pencroft, contrary to
Ayrton's opinion, could not believe that she would dare
to attempt it.
In the meanwhile, the pirates who occupied the islet


had gradually advanced to the opposite shore, and were
now only separated from the mainland by the channel.
Being armed with muskets alone, they could do no
harm to the settlers, in ambush at the Chimneys and
the mouth of the Mercy; but, not knowing the latter to be
supplied with long range rifles, they on their side did
not believe themselves to be exposed. Quite uncovered,
therefore, they surveyed the islet, and examined the shore.
Their illusion was of short duration. Ayrton's and
Gideon Spilett's rifles then spoke, and no doubt imparted
some very disagreeable intelligence to two of the con-
victs, for they fell backwards.
Then there was a general helter-skelter. The ten
others, not even stopping to pick up their dead or
wounded companions, fled to the other side of the islet,
tumbled into the boat which had brought them, and
pulled away with all their strength.
"Eight less! exclaimed Pencroft. "Really, one would
have thought that Mr. Spilett and Ayrton had given
the word to fire together!"
"Gentlemen," said Ayrton, as he reloaded his gun,
"this is becoming more serious. The brig is making
"The anchor is weighed! exclaimed Pencroft.
"Yes; and she is already moving."
In fact, they could distinctly hear the creaking of the


windlass. The "Speedy" was at first held by her
anchor; then, when that had been raised, she began to
drift towards the shore. The wind was blowing from
the sea; the jib and the fore-topsail were hoisted, and
the vessel gradually approached the island.
From the two posts of the Mercy and the Chimneys
they watched her without giving a sign of life; but not
without some emotion. What could be more terrible
for the colonists than to be exposed, at a short distance,
to the brig's guns, without being able to reply with any
effect ? How could they then prevent the pirates from
landing ?
Cyrus Harding felt this strongly, and he asked himself
what it would be possible to do. Before long, he would
be called upon for his determination. But what was
it to be? To shut themselves up in Granite House,
to be besieged there, to remain there for weeks, for
months even, since they had an abundance of provisions ?
So far good! But after that? The pirates would not
the less be masters of the island, which they would
ravage at their pleasure, and in time, they would end by
having their revenge on the prisoners in Granite House.
However, one chance yet remained; it was that Bob
Harvey, after all, would not venture his ship into the
channel, and that he would keep outside the islet. He
would be still separated from the coast by half a mile,


and at that distance his shot could not be very destruc-
"Never !" repeated Pencroft, Bob Harvey will never, if
he is a good seaman, enter that channel! He knows well
that it would risk the brig, if the sea got up ever so little
And what would become of him without his vessel ?"
In the meanwhile the brig approached the islet, and
it could be seen that she was endeavouring to make
the lower end. The breeze was light, and as the current
had then lost much of its force, Bob Harvey had absolute
command over his vessel.
The route previously followed by the boats had allowed
her to reconnoitre the channel, and she boldly entered it.
The pirate's design was now only too evident: he
wished to bring her broadside to bear on the Chimneys
and from there to reply with shell and ball to the shot
which had till then decimated her crew.
Soon the "Speedy" reached the point of the islet;
she rounded it with ease; the mainsail was braced up,
and the brig hugging the wind, stood across the mouth
of the Mercy.
"The scoundrels they are coming !" said Pencroft.
At that moment,' Cyrus Harding, Ayrton, the sailor,
and Herbert, were rejoined by Neb and Gideon Spilett.
The reporter and his companion had judged it best
to abandon the post at the Mercy, from which they


could do nothing against the ship, and they had acted
wisely. 'It was better that the colonists should be
together at the moment when they were about to
engage in a decisive action. Gideon Spilett and Neb
had arrived by dodging behind the rocks, though not
without attracting a shower of bullets, which had not,
however, reached them.
"Spilett! Neb!" cried the engineer, You are not
wounded ?"
"No," answered the reporter; "a few bruises only
from the ricochet! But that cursed brig has entered.
the channel!"
"Yes," replied Pencroft, "and in ten minutes she will
have anchored before Granite House!"
"'Have you formed any plan, Cyrus?" asked the
"We must take refuge in Granite House whilst there
is still time, and the convicts cannot see us."
"That is my opinion, too," replied Gideon Spilett;
"but once shut up-"
"We must be guided by circumstances," said the
"Let us be off, then, and make haste!" said the re-
"Would you not wish, captain, that Ayrton and I
should remain here ?" asked the sailor.


"What would be the use of that, Pencroft?" replied
Harding. "No. We will not separate!"
There was not a moment to be lost. The colonists
left the Chimneys. A bend of the cliff prevented them
from being seen by those in the brig; but two or three
reports, and the crash of bullets on the rock, told them
that the "Speedy" was at no great distance.
To spring into the lift, hoist themselves up to the
door of Granite House, where Top and Jup had been
shut up since the evening before, to rush into the large
room, was the work of a minute only.
It was quite time, for the settlers, through the branches,
could see the "Speedy," surrounded with smoke, gliding
up the channel. The firing was incessant, and shot from
the four guns struck blindly, both on the Mercy post,
although it was not occupied, and on the Chimneys.
The rocks were splintered, and cheers accompanied each
discharge. However, they were hoping that Granite
House would be spared, thanks to Harding's precaution
of concealing the windows, when a shot, piercing the
door, penetrated into the passage.
"We are discovered!" exclaimed Pencroft.
The colonists had not, perhaps, been seen; but it
was certain that Bob Harvey had thought proper to
send a ball through the suspected foliage which concealed
that part of the cliff. Soon he redoubled his attack,


Page 50.


Page 51.


'' 'W ia:"'
!^- fM


when another ball having torn away the leafy screen,
disclosed a gaping aperture in the granite.
The colonists' situation was desperate. Their retreat
was discovered. They could not oppose any obstacle to
these missiles, nor protect the stone, which flew in splinters
around them. There was nothing to be done but to
take refuge in the upper passage of Granite House,
and leave their dwelling to be devastated, when a deep
roar was heard, followed by frightful cries!
Cyrus Harding and his companions rushed to one of
the windows-
The brig, irresistibly raised on a sort of water-spout,
had just split in two, and in less than ten seconds she
was.swallowed up with all her criminal crew




"SHE has blown up !" cried Herbert.
"Yes! blown up, just as if Ayrton had set fire to the
powder!" returned Pencroft, throwing himself into the lift
together with Neb and the lad.
"But what has happened ? asked Gideon Spilett, quite
stunned by this unexpected catastrophe.
"Oh! this time,,we shall know-" answered the
engineer quickly.
"What shall we know ?-"
"Later! later! Come Spilett. The main point is that
these pirates have been exterminated !"


And Cyrus Harding, hurrying away the reporter and
Ayrton, joined Pencroft, Neb, and Herbert on the
Nothing could be seen of the brig, not even her masts.
After having been raised by the water-spout, she had fallen
on her side, and had sunk in that position, doubtless in
consequence of some enormous leak. But as in that place
the channel was not more than twenty feet in depth, it was
certain that the sides of the submerged brig would reappear
at low water.
A few things from the wreck floated on the surface of.
the water. A raft could be seen consisting of spare spars,
coops of poultry with their occupants still living, boxes
and barrels, which gradually came to the surface, after
having escaped through the hatchways, but no pieces of the
wreck appeared, neither planks from the deck, nor timber
from the hull,-which rendered the sudden disappearance
of the Speedy" perfectly inexplicable.
However, the two masts, which had been broken and
escaped from the shrouds and stays, came up, with their
sails, some furled and the others spread. But it was not
necessary to wait for the tide to bring up these riches, and
Ayrton and Pencroft, jumped into the boat with the inten-
tion of towing the pieces of wreck either to the beach or to
the islet. But just as they were shoving off, an observation
from Gideon Spilett arrested them.


"What about those six convicts who disembarked on the
right bank of the Mercy ?" said he.
In fact, it would not do to forget that the six men whose
boat had gone to pieces on the rocks, had landed at Flot-
sam Point.
They looked in that direction. None of the fugitives
were visible. It was probable that, having seen their vessel
engulfed in the channel, they had fled into the interior of
the island.
"We will deal with them later," said Harding. "As
they are armed, they will still be dangerous; but as it is six
against six, the chances are equal. To the most pressing
business first."
Ayrton and Pencroft pulled vigorously towards the
The sea was calm and the tide very high, as" there had
been a new moon but two days before. A whole hour at
least would elapse before the hull of the brig could emerge
from the water of the channel.
Ayrton and Pencroft were able to fasten the masts and
spars by means of ropes, the ends of which were carried to
the beach. There, by the united efforts of the settlers the
pieces of wreck Were hauled up. Then the boat picked up
all that was floating, coops, barrels, and boxes, which
were immediately carried to the Chimneys.
Several bodies floated also. Amongst them, Ayrton


Page 55.


recognized that of Bob Harvey, which he pointed out to
his companion, saying with some emotion,-
That is what I have been, Pencroft."
"But what you are no longer, brave Ayrton! returned
the sailor warmly.
It was singular enough that so few bodies floated. Only
five or six were counted, which were already being carried
by the current towards the open sea. Very probably the
convicts had not had time to escape, and the ship lying
over on her side, the greater number of them had remained
below. Now the current, by carrying the bodies of these
miserable men out to sea, would spare the colonists the
sad task of burying them in some corner of their island.
For two hours, Cyrus Harding and his companions were
solely occupied in hauling up the spars on to the sand, and
then in spreading the sails, which were perfectly uninjured,
to dry. They spoke little, for they were absorbed in their
work, but what thoughts occupied their minds !
The possession of this brig, or rather all that she con-
tained, was a perfect mine of wealth. In fact, a ship is
like a little world in miniature, and the stores of the colony
would be increased by a large number of useful articles.
It would be, on a large scale, equivalent to the chest found
at Flotsam Point.
"And besides," thought Pencroft, "why should it be
impossible to refloat the big ? If she has only a leak,


that may be stopped up; a vessel from three to four
hundred tons, why she is a regular ship compared to our
'Bonadventure !' And we could go a long distance in her!
We could go anywhere we liked! Captain Harding,
Ayrton and I must examine her! She would be well
worth the trouble "
In fact, if the brig was still fit to navigate, the colonists'
chances of returning to their native land was singularly
increased. But, to decide this important question, it was
necessary to wait until the tide was quite low, so that every
part of the brig's hull might be examined.
When their treasures had been safely conveyed on shore,
Harding and his companions agreed to devote some
minutes to breakfast. They were almost famished : for-
tunately, the larder was not far off, and Neb was noted for
being an expeditious cook. They breakfasted, therefore,
near the Chimneys, and during their repast, as may be
supposed, nothing was talked of but the unexpected event
which had so miraculously saved the colony.
"Miraculous is the word," repeated Pencroft, "for it
must be acknowledged that those rascals blew up just at
the right moment! Granite House was beginning to be
uncomfortable as a habitation "
And can you guess, Pencroft," asked the reporter, how
it happened, or what can have occasioned the explosion ? "
"Oh! Mr. Spilett, nothing is more simple," answered


Pencroft. "A convict vessel is not disciplined like a man-
of-war! Convicts are not sailors. Of course the powder-
magazine was open, and as they were firing incessantly,
some careless or clumsy fellow just blew up the
vessel! "
"Captain Harding," said Herbert, "what astonishes me
is that the explosion has not produced more effect. The
report was not loud, and besides there are so few planks
and timbers torn out. It seems as if the ship had rather
foundered than blown up."
"Does that astonish you, my boy ?" asked the engineer.
"Yes, captain."
"And it astonishes me also Herbert," replied he, "but
when we visit the hull of the brig, we shall no doubt find
the explanation of the matter."
Why, captain," said Pencroft, "you don't suppose that
the 'Speedy' simply foundered like a ship which has struck
on a rock ?"
"Why not, observed Neb, "if there are rocks in the
channel ?"
"Nonsense, Neb," answered Pencroft, "you did not
look at the right moment. An instant before she sank,
the brig, as I saw perfectly well, rose on an enormous wave,
and fell back on her larboard side. Now, if she had only
struck, she would have sunk quietly and gone to the
bottom like an honest vessel."


"It was just because she was not an honest vessel!"
returned Neb.
"Well, we shall soon see, Pencroft," said the engineer.
"We shall soon see," rejoined the sailor, but I would
wager my head there are no rocks in the channel. Look
here, captain, to speak candidly, do you mean to say that
there is anything marvellous in the occurrence ?"
Cyrus Harding did not answer.
"At any rate," said Gideon Spilett, "whether rock or
explosion, you will agree, Pencroft, that it occurred just in
the nick of time !"
"Yes! yes!" replied the sailor, "but that is not the
question. I ask Captain Harding if he sees anything
supernatural in all this."
I cannot say, Pencroft," said the engineer. "That is
all the answer I can make."
A reply which did not satisfy Pencroft at all. He stuck
to "an explosion," and did not wish to give it up. He
would never consent to admit that in that channel, with
its fine sandy bed, just like the beach, which he had often
crossed at low water, there could be an unknown
And besides, atthe time the brig foundered, it was high
water, that is to say, there was enough water to carry the
vessel clear over any rocks which would not be uncovered
at low tide. Therefore, there could not have been a


collision. Therefore, the vessel had not struck. Therefore,
she had blown up.
And it must be confessed that the sailor's arguments
were not without reason.
Towards half-past one, the colonists embarked in the
the boat to visit the wreck. It was to be regretted that
the brig's two boats had not been saved; but one, as
has been said, had gone to pieces at the mouth of the
Mercy, and was absolutely useless; the other had disap-
peared when the brig went down, and had not again been
seen, having doubtless been crushed.
The hull of the "Speedy" was just beginning to issue from
the water. The brig was lying right over on her side, for
her masts being broken, pressed down by the weight of the
ballast displaced by the shock, the keel was visible along her
whole length. She had been regularly turned over by the
inexplicable but frightful submarine action, which had been
at the same time manifested by an enormous water-spout.
The settlers rowed round the hull, and, in proportion as
the tide went down, they could ascertain, if not the cause
which had occasioned the catastrophe, at least the effect
Towards the bows, on both sides of the keel, seven or
eight feet from the beginning of the stem, the sides of the
brig were frightfully torn. Over a length of at least twenty
feet there opened two large leaks, which it would be


impossible to stop up. Not only had the copper sheathing
and the planks disappeared, reduced, no doubt, to powder,
but also the ribs, the iron bolts, and treenails which united
them. From the entire length of the hull to the stern the
false keel had been separated with unaccountable violence,
and the keel itself, torn from the carline in several places,
was split in all its length.
"I've a notion!" exclaimed Pencroft, "that this vessel
will be difficult to get afloat again."
"It will be impossible," said Ayrton.
"At any rate," observed Gideon Spilett to the sailor,
"the explosion, if there has been one, has produced singular
effects! It has split the lower part of the hull, instead of
blowing up the deck and topsides! These great rents
appear rather to have been made by a rock than by the
explosion of a powder-magazine."
"There is not a rock in the channel!" answered the
sailor. "I will admit anything you like, except the rock."
"Let us try to penetrate into the interior of the brig,"
said the engineer; "perhaps we shall then know what to
think of the cause of her destruction."
This was the best thing to be done, and it was agreed,
besides, to take an inventory of all the treasures on board,
and to arrange for their preservation.
Access to the interior of the brig was now easy. The
tide was still going down, and the deck'was practicable.


The ballast, composed of heavy masses of iron, had broken
through in several places. The noise of the sea could be
heard as it rushed out at the holes in the hull.
Cyrus Harding and his companions, hatchets in hand,
advanced along the shattered deck. Cases of all sorts
encumbered it, and, as they had been but a very short time
in the water, their contents were perhaps uninjured.
They then busied themselves in placing all this cargo in
safety. The water would not return for several hours, and
these hours must be employed in the most profitable way.
Ayrton and Pencroft had, at the entrance made in the hull,
discovered tackle, which would serve to hoist up the barrels
and chests. The boat received them and transported them
to the shore. They took the articles as they came, in-
tending to sort them afterwards.
At any rate, the settlers saw at once, with extreme satis-
faction, that the brig possessed a very varied cargo-an
assortment of all sorts of articles, utensils, manufactured
goods, and tools-such as the ships which make the great
coasting-trade of Polynesia are usually laden with. It was
probable that they would find a little of everything, and
they agreed that it was exactly what was necessary for the
colony of Lincoln Island.
However-and Cyrus Harding observed it in silent
astonishment-not only, as has been said, had the hull of
the brig enormously suffered from the shock, whatever it


was, that had occasioned the catastrophe, but the interior
arrangements had been destroyed, especially towards the
bows. Partitions aid staunchions were smashed, as if
some tremendous shell had burst in the interior of the
brig. The colonists could easily go fore and aft, after
having removed the cases as they were extricated. They
were not heavy bales, which would have been difficult to
remove, but simple packages, of which the stowage, besides,
was no longer recognizable.
The colonists then reached the stern of the brig-the
part formerly surmounted by the poop. It was there
that, following Ayrton's directions, they must look for the
powder-magazine. Cyrus Harding thought that it had not
exploded; that it was possible some barrels might be
saved, and that the powder, which is usually enclosed in
metal coverings, might not have suffered sfrpon contact
with the water.
This, in fact, was just what had happened. They extri-
cated from amongst a large number of shot twenty barrels,
the insides of which were lined with copper. Pencroft was
convinced by the evidence of his own eyes that the de-.
struction of the Speedy" could not be attributed to an
explosion. That part of the hull in which the magazine
was situated was, moreover, that which had suffered least.
"It may be so," said the obstinate sailor; but as to a
rock, there is not one in the channel!"

Page 62.


"Then, how did it happen ?" asked Herbert.
"I don't know," answered Pencroft, "Captain Harding
doesn't know, and nobody knows or ever will know!"
Several hours had passed during these researches, and
the tide began to flow. Work must be suspended for the
present. There was no fear of the brig being carried away
by the sea, for she was already fixed as firmly as if moored
by her anchors.
They could therefore, without inconvenience, wait until
the next day to resume operations; but, as to the vessel
herself, she was doomed, and it would be best to hasten to
save the remains of her hull, as she would not be long in
disappearing in the quicksands of the channel.
It was now five o'clock in the evening. It had been a
hard day's work for the men. They ate with good appetite,
and, notwithstanding their fatigue, they could not resist,
after dinner, their desire of inspecting the cases which
composed the cargo of the Speedy."
Most of them contained clothes, which, as may be
believed, were well received. There were enough to clothe
a whole colony-linen for every one's use, shoes for every
one's feet.
We are too rich!" exclaimed Pencroft. "But what are
we going to do with all this?"
And every moment burst forth the hurrahs of the
delighted sailor when he caught sight of the barrels of


gunpowder, fire-arms and side-arms, balls of cotton, im-
plements of husbandry, carpenter's, joiner's, and black-
smith's tools, and boxes of all kinds of seeds, not in the
least injured by their short sojourn in the water. Ah, two
years before, how these things would have been prized!
And now, even although the industrious colonists had pro-
vided themselves with tools, these treasures would find
their use.
There was no want of space in the store-rooms of
Granite House, but that daytime would not allow them
to stow away the whole. It would not do also to forget
that the six survivors of the Speedy's" crew had landed
on the island, for they were in all probability scoundrels of
the deepest dye, and it was necessary that the colonists
should be on their guard against them. Although the
bridges over the Mercy were raised, the convicts would not
be stopped by a river or a stream, and, rendered desperate,
these wretches would be capable of anything.-
They would see later what plan it would be best to
follow; but in the meantime it was necessary to mount
guard over cases and packages heaped up near the Chim-
neys, and thus the settlers employed themselves in turn
during the night.
The morning came, however, without the convicts having
attempted any attack. Master Jup and Top, on guard at
the foot of Granite House, would have quickly given the


alarm. The three following days-the 19th, 20th, and
21st of October-were employed in saving everything of
value, or of any use whatever, either from the cargo or
rigging of the brig. At low tide they overhauled the hold
-at high tide they stowed away the rescued articles. A
great part of the copper sheathing had been torn from the
hull, which every day sank lower. But before the sand
had swallowed the heavy things which had fallen through
the bottom, Ayrton and Pencroft, diving to the bed of
the channel, recovered the chains and anchors of the brig,
the iron of her ballast, and even four guns, which, floated
by means of empty casks, were brought to shore.
It may be seen that the arsenal of the colony had
gained by the wreck, as well as the store-rooms of Granite
House. Pencroft, always enthusiastic in his projects,
already spoke of constructing a battery to command the
channel and the mouth of the river. With four guns, he
engaged to prevent any fleet, "however powerful it
might be," from venturing into the waters of Lincoln
Island !
In the meantime, when nothing remained of the brig
but a useless hulk, bad weather came on, which soon
finished her. Cyrus Harding had intended to blow her
up, so as to collect the remains on the shore, but a strong
gale from the north-east and a heavy sea compelled him
to economize his powder.


In fact, on the night of the 23rd, the hull entirely broke
up, and some of the wreck was cast up on the beach.
As to the papers on board, it is useless to say that,
although he carefully searched the lockers of the poop,
Harding did not discover any trace of them. The pirates
had evidently destroyed- everything that concerned either
the captain or the owners of the "Speedy," and, as the
name of her port was not painted on her counter, there
was nothing which would tell them her nationality. How-
ever, by the shape of her boats Ayrton and Pencroft
believed that the brig was of English build.
A week after the catastrophe-or, rather, after the fortu-
nate, though inexplicable, event to which the colony owed
its preservation-nothing more could be seen of the vessel,
even at low tide. The wreck had disappeared, and Granite
House was enriched by nearly all it had contained.
However, the mystery which enveloped its strange de-
struction would doubtless never have been cleared away
if, on the 3oth of November, Neb, strolling on the beach,
had not found a piece of a thick iron cylinder, bearing
traces of explosion. The edges of this cylinder were
twisted and broken, as if they had been subjected to the
action of some explosive substance.
Neb brought this piece of metal to his master, who was
then occupied with his companions in the workshop of the

Page 67.


Cyrus Harding examined the cylinder attentively, then,
turning to Pencroft,-
"You persist, my friend," said he, "in maintaining that
the Speedy" was not lost in consequence of a collision?"
"Yes, captain," answered the sailor. "You know as
well as I do that there are no rocks in the channel."
"But suppose she had run against this piece of iron ?"
said the engineer, showing the broken cylinder.
"What, that bit of pipe!" exclaimed Pencroft in a tone
of perfect incredulity.
My friends," resumed Harding, "you remember that
before she foundered the brig rose on the summit of a
regular water-spout?"
"Yes, captain," replied Herbert.
"Well, would you like to know what occasioned that
water-spout? It was this," said the engineer, holding up
the broken tube.
"That?" returned Pencroft.
Yes! This cylinder is all that remains of a torpedo!"
"A torpedo!" exclaimed the engineer's companions.
"And who put the torpedo there ?" demanded Pencroft,
who did not like to yield.
"All that I can tell you is, that it was not I," answered
Cyrus Harding; but it was there, and you have been able
to judge of its incomparable power!"




So, then, all was explained by the submarine explosion
of this torpedo. Cyrus Harding could not be mistaken,
as, during the war of the Union, he had had occasion
to try these terrible engines of destruction. It was
under the action of this cylinder, charged with some
explosive substance, nitro-glycerine, picrate, or some
other material of the same nature, that the water of
the channel had been raised like a dome, the bottom
of the brig crushed in, and she had sunk instantly,
the damage done to her hull being so considerable that
it was impossible to refloat her. The "Speedy" had
not been able to withstand a torpedo that would have
destroyed an ironclad as easily as a fishing-boat!


Yes! all was explained, everything-except the
presence of the torpedo in the waters of the chan-
"My friends, then," said Cyrus Harding, "we can
no longer be in doubt as to the presence of a mysterious
being, a castaway like us, perhaps, abandoned on our
island, and I say this in order that Ayrton may be
acquainted with all the strange events which have
occurred during these two years. Who this beneficent
stranger is, whose intervention has, so fortunately for us,
been manifested on many occasions, I cannot imagine.
What his object can be in acting thus, in concealing
himself after rendering us so many services, I cannot
understand. But his services are not the less real, and
are of such a nature that only a man possessed of
prodigious power, could render them. Ayrton is indebted
to him as much as we are, for, if it was the stranger
who saved me from the waves after the fall from the
balloon, evidently it was he who wrote the document,
who placed the bottle in the channel, and who has
made known to us the situation of our companion. I
will add that it was he who guided that chest, provided
with everything we wanted, and stranded it on Flotsam
Point; that it was he who lighted that fire on the
heights of the island, which permitted you to land;
that it was he who fired that bullet found in the body


of the peccary; that it was he who immersed that torpedo
in the channel, which destroyed the brig; in a word,
that all those inexplicable events, for which we could
not assign a reason, are due to this mysterious being.
Therefore, whoever he may be, whether shipwrecked, or
exiled on our island, we shall be ungrateful, if we think
ourselves freed from gratitude towards him. We have
contracted a debt, and I hope that we shall one day
pay it."
"You are right in speaking thus, my dear Cyrus,"
replied Gideon Spilett. "Yes, there is an almost all-
powerful being, hidden in some part of the island, and
whose influence has been singularly useful to our colony.
I will add that the unknown appears to possess means
of action which border on the supernatural if, in the events
of practical life, the supernatural were recognizable. Is
it he who is in secret communication with us by the
well in Granite House, and has he thus a knowledge, of
all our plans? Was it he who threw us that bottle,
when the vessel made her first cruise? Was it he who
threw Top out of the lake, and killed the dugong? Was
it he, who as everything leads us to believe, saved you
from the waves, and that under circumstances in which
any one else would not have been able to act ? If it was
he, he possesses a power which renders him master of
the elements."


The reporter's reasoning was just, and every one felt
it to be so.
"Yes," rejoined Cyrus Harding, "if the intervention of
a human being is not more questionable for us, I agree
that he has at his disposal means of action beyond
those possessed by humanity. There is a mystery still,
but if we discover the man, the mystery will be discovered
also. The question, then, is, ought we to respect the
incognito of this generous being, or ought we to do every-
thing to find him out? What is your opinion on the matter?"
"My opinion," said Pencroft, "is that, whoever he may
be, he is a brave man, and he has my esteem! "
"Be it so," answered Harding, "but that is not an
answer, Pencroft."
Master," then said Neb, "my idea is, that we may
search as long as we like for this gentleman whom you
are talking about, but that we shall not discover him
till he pleases."
"That's not bad, what you say, Neb," observed
"I am of Neb's opinion," said Gideon Spilett," but
that is no reason for not attempting the adventure.
Whether we find this mysterious being or not, we shall
at least have fulfilled our duty towards him."
"And you, my boy, give us your opinion," said the
engineer, turning to Herbert.


"Oh," cried Herbert, his countenance full of animation,
"how I should like to thank him, he who saved you
first, and who has now saved us!"
Of course, my boy," replied Pencroft, "so would I
and all of us. I am not inquisitive, but I would give
one of my eyes to see this individual face to face!
It seems to me that he must be handsome, tall, strong,
with a splendid beard, radiant hair, and that he must be
seated on the clouds, a great ball in his hands "
"But, Pencroft," answered Spilett, "you are describing
a picture of the Creator."
"Possibly, Mr. Spilett," replied the sailor, "but that
is how I imagine him !"
"And you, Ayrton ?" asked the engineer.
"Captain Harding," replied Ayrton, "I can give you
no better advice in this matter. Whatever you do will
be best, when you wish me to join you in your researches,
I am ready to follow you."
"I thank you, Ayrton," answered Cyrus Harding, "but
I should like a more direct answer to the question I
put to you." You are our companion; you have already
endangered your, life several times for us, and you, as
well as the rest, ought to be consulted in the matter of
any important decision. Speak, therefore."
"Captain Harding," replied Ayrton, I think that we
ought to do everything to discover this unknown bene-


factor. Perhaps he is alone. Perhaps he is suffering.
Perhaps he has a life to be renewed. I, too, as you
said, have a debt of gratitude to pay him. It was he,
it could be only he who must have come to Tabor
Island, who found there the wretch you knew, and who
made known to you that there was an unfortunate man
there to be saved! Therefore it is, thanks to him,
that I have become a man again. No, I will never forget
"That is settled, then," said Cyrus Harding. "We
will begin our researches as soon as possible. We will
not leave a corner of the island unexplored. We will
search into its most secret recesses, and will hope that
our unknown friend will pardon us in consideration of
our intentions!"
For several days the colonists were actively employed
in haymaking and the harvest. Before putting their
project of exploring the yet unknown parts of the island
into execution, they wished to get all possible work
finished. It was also the time for collecting the various
vegetables from the Tabor Island plants. All was stowed
away, and happily there was no want of room in Grahite
House, in which they might have housed all the treasures
of the island. The products of the colony were there,
methodically arranged, and in a safe place, as may be
believed, sheltered as much from animals as from man.


There was no fear of damp in the middle of that
thick mass of granite. Many natural excavations situated
in the upper passage were enlarged either by pick-
axe or mine, and Granite House thus became a general
warehouse, containing all the provisions, arms, tools,
and spare utensils-in a word, all the stores of the
As to the guns obtained from the brig, they were
pretty pieces of ordnance, which, at Pencroft's entreaty,
were hoisted by means of tackle and pulleys, right up
into Granite House; embrasures were made between the
windows, and the shining muzzles of the guns could soon
be seen through the granite cliff. From this height
they commanded all Union Bay. It was like a little
Gibraltar, and any vessel anchored off the islet would
inevitably be exposed to the fire of this aerial battery.
"Captain," said Pencroft one day, it was the 8th of
November "now that our fortifications are finished,
it would be a good thing if we tried the range of our
"Do you think that is useful ?" asked the engineer.
"It is more than useful, it is necessary! Without
that how are we to know to what distance we can send
one of those pretty shot with which we are provided ?
"Try them, Pencroft," replied the engineer. However,
I think that in making the experiment, we ought to


employ, not the ordinary powder, the supply of whioh,
I think, should remain untouched, but the pyroxile which
will never fail us."
Can the cannon support the shock of the pyroxile?"
asked the reporter, who was not less anxious than Pencroft
to try the artillery of Granite House.
"I believe so. However," added the engineer, "we
will be prudent."
The engineer was right in thinking that the guns were
of excellent make. Made of forged steel, and breech-
loaders, they ought consequently to be able to bear a
considerable charge, and also have an enormous range.
In fact, as regards practical effect, the transit described
by the ball ought to be as extended as possible, and
this tension could only be obtained under the condi-
tion that the projectile should be impelled with a very
great initial velocity.
"Now," said Harding to his companions, "the initial
velocity is in proportion to the quantity of powder used.
In the fabrication of these pieces, everything depends
on employing a metal with the highest possible, power
of resistance, and steel is incontestably that metal of
all others which resists the best. I have, therefore,
reason to believe that our guns will bear without risk
the expansion of the pyroxile gas, and will give excellent


"We shall be a great deal more certain of that when
we have tried them!" answered Pencroft.
It is unnecessary to say that the four cannons were
in perfect order. Since they had been taken from the
water, the sailor had bestowed great care upon them.
How many hours he had spent, in rubbing, greasing,
and polishing them, and in cleaning the mechanism!
And now the pieces were as brilliant as if they had
been on board a frigate of the United States' Navy.
On this day, therefore, in presence of all the members
of the colony, including Master Jup and Top, the four
cannon were successively tried. They were charged with
pyroxile, taking into consideration its explosive power,
which, as has been said, is four times that of ordi-
nary powder: the projectile to be fired was cylindro-
Pencroft, holding the end of the quick-match, stood
ready to fire.
At Harding's signal, he fired. The shot, passing over
the islet, fell into the sea at a distance which could not
be calculated with exactitude.
The second gun was pointed at the rocks at the end
of Flotsam Point, and the shot, striking a sharp rock
nearly three miles from Granite House, made it fly into
splinters. It was Herbert who had pointed this gun
and fired it, and very proud he was of his first shot.

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