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De oo 447 7.
Tue Mopern Rosinson CRUSOE.
By JULES VERNE,
AUTHOR OF â€œA JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH,â€ â€˜FROM THE EARTH
TO THE MCGON,â€ â€œTHE FLOATING CITY,â€™ ETC.
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY
W. H. G. KINGSTON.
Complete in Three Parts,
I. Dropped from the Clouds. II. Abandoned.
III. The Secret of the Island.
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG, & CO,
JULES VERNEâ€™S WORKS.
THE AUTHORIZED EDITIONS,
From Messrs. J. Hetzel & Co.
PaRIS, LE 1Â° JUILLET, 1874,
18 Rue Facob. :
Messieurs. SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & Câ„¢
Liprarres EpitTeurs, 654 Broapway, New York, U. S.
En reponse 4 votre demande nous certifions par suite de nos
traitÃ©s avec MM. Sampson Low, Marston, Low & Searle, Editeurs,
188 Fleet St., Londres, dans lequels nous agissons comme propriÃ©taires
exclusifs des ceuvres de Jules Verne, nous avons autorisÃ©s ces messieurs,
4 exclusion de tous autres, 4 publier en Amerique les ouvrages suivant.
de cet auteur:
VinctT MILLE LiEvEs Sous LES MERs.
AVENTURES DE TRoIs RussES ET DE TROIS ANGLAIS.
DeE LA TERRE A LA LUNE.
AUTOUR DE LA LUNE.
PAYS DES FOURURES,
Le Tour DU MONDE EN 80 JourRs,
UNE VILLE FLOTTANTE.
Et que par suite de cette cession, MM. Sampson Low & C'* de
Londres, ont seul le droit dâ€™autoriser la vente des clichÃ©s de ces
ouvrages dans les Etats Unis.
Veuillez agrÃ©er, Messieurs, nos salutations empressÃ©s,
J. HETZEL et CÂ®â„¢
From Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
188 FLEET STREET,
London, Â£. C., Fuly 3d, 1874.
Messrs, SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & Co.,
: New York.
Dear Sirs: We hereby beg to certify, that, in accordance with
the rights ceded to us by MM. Hetzel & Co., we have sold to you
the translations and illustrations of the following works by Sues
1. MERIDIANA; OR, ADVENTURES OF THREE RUSSIANS AND
2. FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON AND A TRIP Rounp It.
3. A FLOATING CITY AND THE BLOCKADE RUNNERS.
4. THE Mysterious IsLAND.
Yours, very truly,
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & CO.
Â° THE JOURNEY To THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH is published by
Scribner, Armstrong & Co., by direct arrangement with MM. Hetze!
â€œTue Mysterious Istanpâ€ has by common con-
sent been pronounced the most successful and the
most absorbing of Jules Verneâ€™s works. In recogni-
tion of its wide popularity, the publishers herewith
offer to the youth of America in a single volume
the complete work which originally appeared in
three volumes. The work has been pronounced â€œ A
new Robinson Crusoe with all the modern improve-
ments.â€ In the twelve hundred pages and one hun-
dred and forty-five illustrations of this volume, which
is reduced from its publication price of six dollars
to three dollars, there will be found a large fund of
amusement and instruction.
WORKS OF JULES VERNE.
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG, & CO.
THE COMPLETE AND AUTHORIZED EDITIONS.
THE NEW ROBINSON CRUSOE.
JULES VERNE'S â€œMYSTERIOUS ISLAND,â€
Complete in three pafts, viz.:
|. Dropped from the Clouds. ll. Abandoned.
Ill. The Secret of the Island.
1282 Pages. 145 Illustrations. Royal Crown 8vo, Cloth, $8.
In the â€œ Mysterious Island,â€ Jules Verne offers to the lovers of the wonderful in literature
his most elaborate, attractive, and instructive work. The escape of the voyagers from Rich-
mond in their stolen balloon, and their wreck upon an island in the Indian Ocean, are inci-
dents in the career of Mr. Verneâ€™s heroes which have been made familiar to all readers of
magazine literature ; but the elaborately ingenious methods by which they wrested from this
uninhabited island the means of subsistence, and the appliances through which they effected
their deliverance, exhibit a wonderfully accurate knowledge of the capabilities of science.
Briefly, the â€˜â€˜ Mysterious Islandâ€ is a new Robinson Crusoe, with all the modern improve-
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON in 97 Hours and 20
Minutes, and a Trip Around It. Eighty full-page illustrations,
beautifully bound in cloth, black and gilt. Price $3.00.
A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH. Trans-
lated from the French of JULES VERNE. With fifty-two illustrations by
Riou. Complete edition, fifty-three illustrations, on super-calendered
paper, handsomely bound in cloth, black and gilt, beveled boards, $3.00.
STORIES OF ADVENTURE. Comprising â€œ Meridiana,â€ â€œThe Ad-
ventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in South Africa,â€
and â€œA Journey to the Centre of the Earth.â€ One vol., 12mo, sixty-
eight full-page illustrations, Cloth, $1.50.
A FLOATING CITY, and THE BLOCKADE -RUNNERS.
Translated from the French of JULES VERNE. One vol., 12mo, pro-
fusely illustrated. Cloth, $3.00.
1a Sent, post-paid, on receipt of price by the Publishers. â€”â‚¬
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS.
The storm of 1865â€”Voices in the airâ€”A balloon carried away
by a whirlwindâ€”Five passengersâ€”What happened in the
car . . . . a . . . oe
An incident in the war of secessionâ€”The engineer Cyrus
Hardingâ€”Gideon Spiiettâ€”The negro Nebâ€”Pencroft the
sailorâ€”The nicht rendezvousâ€”Departure in the storm .
Five oâ€™clock in the eveningâ€”The missing oneâ€”Nebâ€™s despairâ€”
Search towards the northâ€”The isletâ€”A dreadful nightâ€”A
fog in the morningâ€”Neb swimsâ€”Sight of landâ€”Fording the
channel . . . . . . . . .
Lithodomesâ€”The rivers mouthâ€”The chimneysâ€” Continued
researchesâ€”The forest of evergreensâ€”Waiting for the ebbâ€”
On the heightsâ€”The raftâ€”Return to the shore. . .
Arranging the Chimneysâ€”How to procure fireâ€”A box of matches
â€”Search on the shoreâ€”-Return of the reporter and Nebâ€”A
single matchâ€”A roaring fireâ€”The first supper, and night on
shore : Â° Â° . . 7 7 . : . .
The inventory of the castawaysâ€”Nothingâ€”Burnt linenâ€”An expe-
dition to the forestâ€”Flight of the jacamarâ€”Traces of deerâ€”
Couroucousâ€”Grouseâ€”A curious fishing-line . . .
Neb has not yet returnedâ€”The reporterâ€™s reflectionsâ€”Supperâ€”A
threatening nightâ€”The tempest is frightfulâ€”They rush out
into the nightâ€”Struggle against the wind and rainâ€”Eight
miles from the firstencampment . nr . Â° Â°
Is Cyrus Harding living ?â€”Nebâ€™s recitalâ€”Footprintsâ€”An unan-
swerable questionâ€”Cyrus Hardingâ€™s first wordsâ€”Identifying
the footstepsâ€”Return to the Chimneysâ€”Pencroft startled
Cyrus is hereâ€”Pencroftâ€™s attemptsâ€”Rubbing woodâ€”Island or
continentâ€”The engineerâ€™s projectsâ€”In what part of the Pacific
Ocean?â€”In the midst of the forestsâ€”The stone pineâ€”
Chasing a capybaraâ€”An auspicious smoke . . .
The engineerâ€™s inventionâ€”The question which engrosses the
thoughts of Cyrus Hardingâ€”Departure for the mountainâ€”
Volcanic soilâ€”Tragopansâ€”Sheepâ€”The first plateauâ€”En-
campment for the nightâ€”The summit of the cone . 7
At the summit of the coneâ€”The interior of the craterâ€”Sea all
roundâ€”No land in sightâ€”A birdâ€™s-eye view of the coastâ€”
Hydrography and orologyâ€”Istheisland inhabited ?â€”Christen-
ing the bays, gulfs, capes, rivers, &c.â€”Lincoln Island . - 135
Regulating the watchesâ€”Pencroft is satisfiedâ€”A suspicious smoke
â€”Course of Red Creekâ€”The flora of Lincoln Islandâ€”The
faunaâ€”Mountain pheasantsâ€”Chasing kangaroosâ€”An agouti
â€”Lake Grantâ€”Return to the Chimneys . Â° . Â« 152
What is found upon Topâ€”Manufacturing bows and arrowsâ€”A
brick-fieldâ€”A potteryâ€”Different cooking utensilsâ€”The first
boiled meatâ€”Wormwoodâ€”The Southern Crossâ€”An impor-
tant astronomical observation . . . : Â° . - 167
Measuring the cliffâ€”An application of the theorem of similar
trianglesâ€”Latitude of the islandâ€”Excursion to the northâ€”
An oyster-bedâ€”Plans for the futureâ€”The sun passing the
meridianâ€”The longitude of Lincoln Island . .
It is decided to winter on the islandâ€”A metallic questionâ€” Ex-
ploring Safety Islandâ€”A seal huntâ€”Capture of an echiduaâ€”
A koalaâ€”What is called the Catalan methodâ€”Manufacturing
ironâ€”How steel is obtained . . : .
The question of a dwelling is again discussedâ€”Pencroftâ€™s fancies
â€”Exploring to the north of the lakeâ€”The northern edge of
the plateauâ€”Snakesâ€”The extremity of the lakeâ€”Topâ€™s un-
easinessâ€”Top swimmingâ€”A combat under the waterâ€”The
dugong . . . : -
. . - 198
. . . . . . 211
Visit to the lakeâ€”The indicating currentâ€”Cyrus Hardingâ€™s pro-
jectsâ€”The fat of the dugongâ€”Employing shistose pyritesâ€”
Sulphate of ironâ€”How glycerine is madeâ€”Soapâ€”Saltpetreâ€”
Sulphuric acidâ€”Azotic acidâ€”The new fall . .
Pencroft now doubts nothingâ€”The outlet of the lakeâ€”A subter-
ranean descentâ€”The way through the graniteâ€”Top disap-
pearsâ€”The central cavernâ€”The lower wellâ€”Mysteryâ€”Using
the pickaxeâ€”The return . z : 7 : . 7
Cyrus Hardingâ€™s projectâ€”The front of Granite Houseâ€”The rope
ladder â€”Pencroftâ€™s dreamsâ€”Aromatic herbsâ€”A_ natural
warrenâ€”Water for the new dwellingâ€”View from the windows
of Granite House
The rainy seasonâ€”The question of clothesâ€”A seal huntâ€”Manu-
facturing candlesâ€”Work in Granite Houseâ€”The two bridges
â€”Return from a visit to the oyster-bedâ€”What Herbert finds
in his pocket . : . ; : : 7 . :
Some degrees below zeroâ€”Exploring the marshy part to the south-
east â€”The wolf-foxâ€”View of the seaâ€”A conversation on the
future of the Pacific Oceanâ€”The incessant work of the coral
insectsâ€”What our globe will becomeâ€”The chaseâ€”Tadornâ€™s
fens . Â° Â° 7 . : : . . : Â°
Trapsâ€”Foxesâ€”Peccariesâ€”The wind changes to the north-westâ€”
Snow-storm â€” Basket-makersâ€” The severest cold â€” Maple
sugarâ€”The mysterious wellâ€”An exploration plannedâ€”The
leaden bullet . . .Â». . Â° . . a)
Conversation on the subject of the bulletâ€”Construction of a
canoeâ€”Huntingâ€”At the top of a kauriâ€”Nothing to attest
the presence of manâ€”Neb and Herbertâ€™s prizeâ€”Turning a
turtleâ€”The turtle disappearsâ€” Cyrus Hardingâ€™s explanation .
First trial of the canoeâ€”A wreck on the coastâ€”Towingâ€”Flotsam
Pointâ€”Inventory of the case: tools, weapons, instruments,
clothes, books, utensilsâ€”What Pencroft misses--The Gospel
â€”A verse from the sacred book . Â° Â° Â° Â° .
The startâ€”The rising tideâ€”Elms and different plants--The
jacamarâ€”Aspect of the forestâ€”Gigantic eucalyptiâ€”The
reason they are called â€œ fever trees â€â€”Troops of monkeysâ€”A
water-fallâ€”The night encampment o Â© 6 .
Journey. to the coastâ€”Troops of monkeys--A new riverâ€”The
reason the tide was not feltâ€”A woody shoreâ€”Reptile promon-
toryâ€”-Herbert envies Gideon Spilettâ€” Explosion of bamboos .
Proposal to return by the southern shoreâ€”Configuration of the
coastâ€”Searching for the supposed wreckâ€”A wreck in the
airâ€”Discovery of a small natural portâ€”At midnight on the
banks of the Mercyâ€”The canoe adrift . 7 7 . .
Pencroftâ€™s halloosâ€”A night in the Chimneysâ€”Herbertâ€™s arrows-â€”
The captainâ€™s projectâ€”An unexpected explanationâ€”What
has happened in Granite Houseâ€”How a new servant enters
the service of the colonists . . . Â° Â° .
Plansâ€”A bridge over the Mercyâ€”Mode adopted for making an
island of Prospect Heightsâ€”The draw-bridgeâ€”Harvestâ€”The
streamâ€”The poultry-yardâ€”A pigeon-houseâ€”The two onagas
â€”The cartâ€”Excursion to Port Balloon . . 7 .
Linenâ€”Shoes of seal-leatherâ€”Manufacture of pyroxyleâ€”Garden-
ingâ€”Fishing Turtle-eggsâ€”Improvement of Master Jupâ€”
The corralâ€”Musmon huntâ€”New animal and vegetable
possessionsâ€”Recollections of their native land. .
Bad weatherâ€”The hydraulic liftâ€” Manufacture of glass-wareâ€”The
bread-trzeeâ€”Frequent visits to the corralâ€”Increase of the
flockâ€”The reporterâ€™s questionâ€”Exact position of Lincoln
Islandâ€”Pencroftâ€™s proposal . . . . .
Boat-building Secon 1cropofcornâ€”Hunting koalasâ€”A newplant, ,
more pleasant than usefulâ€”Whale in sightâ€”A harpoon from
the vineyardâ€”Cutting up the whaleâ€”Use for the bonesâ€”
End of the month of Mayâ€”Pencroft has nothing left to wish
for . Â° Â° . . Â° Â° . Â° .
Winterâ€”Felling woodâ€”The millâ€”Pencroftâ€™s fixed ideaâ€”The
bonesâ€”To what use an albatross may be putâ€”Fuel for the
futureâ€”Top and Jupâ€”Stormsâ€”Damage to the poultry-yard
â€”Excursion to the marshâ€”Cyrus Harding aloneâ€”Exploring
the well . . 6 . +. * 2 2 - 143
The rigging of the vesselâ€”An attack from foxesâ€”Jup woundedâ€”
Jup curedâ€”Completion of the boatâ€”Pencroftâ€™s triumphâ€”The
* Bonadventureâ€™s â€ trial trip to the south of the islandâ€”An
unexpected document . . . . â€˜ Â° Â° - 160
Departure decided uponâ€”Conjecturesâ€”Preparationsâ€”The three
passengersâ€”First nightâ€”Second nightâ€”Tabor Islandâ€”
Searching the shoreâ€”Searching the woodâ€”No oneâ€”Animals
â€”Plantsâ€”A dwellingâ€”Deserted . . ee Â° 179
The inventoryâ€”Nightâ€”A few lettersâ€”Continuation of the search
â€”Plants and animalsâ€” Herbert in great dangerâ€”On boardâ€”
The departureâ€”Bad weatherâ€”A gleam of reasonâ€”Lost on
the seaâ€”A timely light . . Â° Â° Â° Â° Â° Â° 194
The returnâ€”Discussionâ€”Cyrus Harding and the strangerâ€”Port
Balloonâ€”The engineerâ€™s devotionâ€”A touching incidentâ€”
Tears flow . : . . . . ee Â° Â° 210
A mystery to be cleared upâ€”The strangerâ€™s first wordsâ€”Twelve
years on the isle-â€”Avowal which escapes himâ€”The disap-
pearanceâ€”Cyrus Hardingâ€™s confidenceâ€”Construction of a
millâ€”The first breadâ€”An act of devotionâ€”Honest hands . 224
xiv : CONTENTS.
Still aloneâ€”The strangerâ€™s request--The ferm established at the
corralâ€”Twelve years agoâ€”The boatswainâ€™s mate of the
â€œ Britanniaâ€â€”Left on Tabor Islandâ€”Cyrus Hardingâ€™s hand
â€”The mysterious document . . Â° Â° Â° Â° .
Conversationâ€”Cyrus Harding and Gideon Spilettâ€”An idea of
the engineerâ€™sâ€”The electric telegraphâ€”The wiresâ€”The
batteryâ€”The alphabetâ€”Fine seasonâ€”Prosperity of the
colonyâ€”Photographyâ€”An appearance of snowâ€”Two years
on Lincoln Island . . . . Â° Â° : Â° .
Recollections of their native landâ€”Probable futureâ€”Project for
surveying the coasts of the islandâ€”Departure on the 16th of
Aprilâ€”Sea-view of Reptile Endâ€”The basaltic rocks of the
western coastâ€” Bad weatherâ€”Night comes onâ€”New incident
A night at seaâ€”Shark Gulfâ€”Confidencesâ€”Preparations for winter
â€”Forwardness of the bad seasonâ€”-Severe coldâ€”Work in the
interiorâ€”In six monthsâ€” 4 photographic negativeâ€”Unex-
pected incident Â° e Â° Â° Â° Â° Â° e e
THE SECRET OF THE ISLAND.
Lost or savedâ€”Ayrton summonedâ€”Important discussionâ€”It is
not the â€œ Duncanâ€â€”Suspicious vesselâ€”Precautions to be
takenâ€”The ship approachesâ€”A cannon-shotâ€”The brig
anchors in sight of the islandâ€”Night comeson ,. . Â°
Discussionsâ€”Presentimentsâ€”Ayrtonâ€™s proposalâ€”It is acceptedâ€”
Ayrton and Pencroft on Grant Isletâ€”Convicts from Norfolk
Islandâ€”Ayrtonâ€™s heroic attemptâ€”His returnâ€”Six against
fifty e Â° Â° . . Â° e Â° Â° Â° Â°
The mist risesâ€”The engineerâ€™ss preparationsâ€”Three postsâ€”
Ayrton and Pencroftâ€”The first boatâ€”Two other boatsâ€”On
the islet-â€”Six convicts landâ€”The brig weighs anchorâ€”The
â€œ Speedyâ€™sâ€ gunsâ€”A desperate situationâ€” Unexpected catas-
trophe . Â° Â° . . . 7 . Â° Â°
. CHAPTER IV.
The colonists on the beachâ€”Ayrton and Pencroft work amid the
wreckâ€”Conversation during breakfastâ€”Pencroftâ€™s arguments
â€”Minute examination of the brigâ€™s hullâ€”The powder-
magazine untouchedâ€”New richesâ€”The last of the wreckâ€”
A broken piece of cylinder . . ar) . - + 52
The engineerâ€™s declarationâ€”Pencroftâ€™s grand hypothesisâ€”An
aerial batteryâ€”The four cannonsâ€”The surviving convictsâ€”
Ayrtonâ€™s hesitationâ€”Cyrus Hardingâ€™s generous sentimentsâ€”
Pencroftâ€™s regret. . 7 . e Â° Â° . - 68
Expeditions plannedâ€” Ayrton at the corralâ€”Visit to Port Balloon
â€”Pencroftâ€™s observations on board the â€œ Bonadventureâ€â€”
Despatch sent to the corralâ€”No reply from Ayrtonâ€”Depar-
ture the next dayâ€”The reason why the wire did not workâ€”
A report . Â° . : . 7 . . . : - 82
The reporter and Pencroft in the corralâ€”Herbertâ€™s woundâ€”The
sailorâ€™s despairâ€”Consultation between the reporter and the
engineerâ€”M ode of treatmentâ€”Hope not abandonedâ€”How is
Neb to be warned ?â€”A sure and faithful messengerâ€”Nebâ€™s
reply Â° Â° Â° ss . . . Â° Â° . - 97
The convicts in the neighbourhood of the corralâ€”Provisional
establishmentâ€” Continuation of the treatment of Herbertâ€”
Pencroftâ€™s first rejoicingsâ€”Conversation on past eventsâ€”
What the future has in reserveâ€”Cyrus Hardingâ€™s ideas on
this subject . Â° . 7 7 Â° Â° Â° . - 110
No news of Nebâ€”A proposal from Pencroft and the reporter,
which is not acceptedâ€”Several sorties by Gideon Spilettâ€”A
rag of clothâ€”A messageâ€”Hasty departureâ€”Arrival on the
plateau of Prospect Heights . . . ; ; : . 117
Herbert carried to Granite Houseâ€”Neb relates all that has hap-
penedâ€”Hardingâ€™s visit to the plateauâ€”Ruin and devastation
â€”The colonists baffled by Herbertâ€™s illnessâ€”Willow barkâ€”
A deadly feverâ€”Top barks again! oe Â° .
Inexplicable mysteryâ€”Herbertâ€™s convalescenceâ€”The parts of the
island to be exploredâ€”Preparations for departureâ€”First day
â€”Night and second dayâ€”Kauriesâ€”A couple of Cassowaries
â€”Footprints in the forestâ€”Arrival at Reptile Point . â€”.
Exploration of the Serpentine Peninsulaâ€”Encampment at the
mouth of Falls Riverâ€”Gideon Spilett and Pencroft recon-
noitreâ€”Their returnâ€”Forward, all!â€”An open doorâ€”A
lighted windowâ€”By the light ofthe moon! . .Â« . .
Ayrtonâ€™s storyâ€”Plans of his former accomplicesâ€”Their instal-
lation in the corralâ€”The avenging justice of Lincoln Island
â€”The â€œBonadventureâ€â€”Researches around Mount Franklin
â€”The upper valleysâ€”A subterranean volcanoâ€”Pencroftâ€™s
opinionâ€”At the bottom of the craterâ€”Retun . o .
Three years have passedâ€”The new vesselâ€”What is agreed onâ€”
Prosperity of the colonyâ€”The dockyardâ€” Cold of the southern
hemisphereâ€”Washing linenâ€”Mount Franklin . . .
The awakening of the volcanoâ€”The fine seasonâ€”Continuation of
workâ€”The evening of the 15th of Octoberâ€”A telegramâ€”A
questionâ€”An answerâ€”Departure for the corralâ€”The notice
â€”The additional wireâ€”The basalt coastâ€”At high tideâ€”At
low tideâ€”The cavernâ€”A dazzling light . . . .
Captain Nemoâ€”His first wordsâ€”The history of the recluseâ€”His
adventuresâ€”His sentimentsâ€”His comradesâ€”Submarine life
~â€”Aloneâ€”-The last refuge of the â€œ Nautilusâ€ in Lincoln Island
â€”The mysterious genius of the island . Â° . Â° + 223
Last moments of Captain Nemoâ€”Wishes of the dying manâ€”A
parting gift to his friends of a dayâ€”Captain Nemoâ€™s coffinâ€”
Advice to the colonistsâ€”The supreme momentâ€”At the bottom
' of the sea eo Â° . . . Â° . o Â« 238
Reflections of the colonistsâ€”Their labours of reconstruction re-
sumedâ€”The Ist of January, 1869â€”A cloud over the summit
of the volcanoâ€”First warnings of an eruptionâ€”Ayrton and
Cyrus Harding at the corral-â€”Exploration of the Dakkar
Grottoâ€”What Captain Nemo had confided to the engineer . 251
Cyrus Harding gives an account of his explorationâ€”The con-
struction of the ship pushed forwardâ€”A last visit to the corral
â€”The battle between fire and water--All that remains of the
islandâ€”It is decided to launch the vesselâ€”The night of the
8th of March . Â° Â° 7 Â° Â° Â° Â©. Â° 274
An isolated rock in the Pacificâ€”The last refuge of the colonists
of Lincoln Islandâ€”Death their only prospectâ€”Unexpected
succourâ€”Why and how it arrivesâ€”A last kindnessâ€”An
island on terra firmaâ€”The tomb of Captain Prince Dakkar
Nemo . . .Â» . Â© Â© Â«Â© Â«Â© Â«6 Â»8 Â« 297
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS.
ENTRANCE TO GRANITE HOUSE . : . . Frontispiece
Lanp aT Last. . . . . . . . . - 10
REPORTING UNDER FIRE . : . . . . . . 14
A DarRING PROPOSAL. . Â«eee 20
THE RENDEZVOUS . . : . : . 7 . . 23
WHERE IS THE ENGINEER? . . . Â«2 Â« 6 28
Not MussELs, BUT LITHODOMES . : . . . . 40
THE GRANITE CAVERN . : . . . . . 2Â° 42
Rock-PIGEONS . . . . . . . Â° . . 49
Nesâ€™s DESPAIR . . : . . . . . . - 57
A CHEERFUL FLAME SPRANG UP . . . . . . 61
IN THE FOREST . . . . Â° oe . Â° - 68
FOWL-FISHING . . . . oe . . Â° . 75
WATCHING THE STORM . . . . Â° . . - 82
Ir must BE ToP.. sla Sev 8, ee es 84
DEAD OR ALIVE?. . Â«we ww ee
BRING THE CAPTAINâ€™S LITTER! . . . . . Â« 103
THE RETURN WITH THE CAPTAIN . . . . Â° Â« 103
A FRUITLESS ATTEMPT . . . . . . Â° - 108
ToP ENGAGED IN A STRUGGLE WITH THE CAPYBARA . . 118
A WELCOME SIGHT . . . . . Â° Â° Â° *Â« 120
PREPARING THE SUPPER . . . . . Â° 2 Â° 122
XX LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS,
CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN : . . . . . - 128
IT was THE MOUTH OF THE CRATER . . . . - 132
SEA, SEA EVERYWHERE . : . . . . . - 138
NAMING THE ISLAND . . . : : . . . - 146
TowarRpDs TEN Oâ€™CLOCK THE LITTLE BAND DESCENDED THE
Last DECLIVITIES OF MouNT FRANKLIN. . Â» 55
SMOKE! . oo. . : . . . . . . - 156
BRICK-MAKING . : . . . . . : . - 172
THE POTTERY : . . . Ã© 7 7 . . - 176
THE SETTLERS TURNED WASHERWOMEN 7 . . Â» 184
CALCULATING THE HEIGHT OF THE CLIFF. . . - 187
AN INTERESTING SCIENTIFIC OPERATION . . . - 195
A SEAL Hunt . . . - oe . 7 . . . 202
PRIMITIVE BELLOWS : : . . . . 7 - 208
A DISAGREEABLE RENCONTRE . . 7 . oe - 217
Toprâ€™s STRANGE ADVENTURE . . : . : . 222
HERE 1s NiITRO-GLYCERINE! . : a . . - 234
PREPARING THE MINE . . : . . . . - 236
An ExciTING MOMENT . . . . : : . + 237
EXPLORING THE CAVERN . . . : . . . - 243
GRANITE HOUSE . . . . ot . . . - 248
THE RABBIT WARREN. 8 . . . . - 262
THERE WOULD NEVER BE ANY WANT OF WATER AT GRAN-
ITE HousE . . 7 . - . . . . . 264
LECTURE ON A GRAIN OF WHEAT . . . . - 275
A WINTER EXPLORATION . . . . . . . - 280
BEASTS WHICH ARE GOOD FOR NOTHING . . . Â» 293
THE CASCADE OF ICE. . . Â«Â© Â«Â© Â«Â© Â«Â© Â« Â«298
It was A LEADEN BULLET . 7 . . . Â° - 309
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Turning aturtle > Â© Â© Â»oÂ» Â»oÂ« Â»o6 Â«Â© oo eo Â¥
Flotsam and Jetsam. . e . Â° Â° Â° Â° Â° 22
Unpacking the marvellous chest . . . 2 - 24
Pencroftâ€™s superstition . . 7 Â°. 6 6 6 28
Is it tobacco ? . Â° . Â° Â° Â° Â° Â° . . 34
The halt for breakfast , Â° Â° Â° Â° e - 36
Denizens of the forest . Â° Â° Â° . . Â° . - 47
The sea ! . . Â° Â° Â° . . . . . . 50
At that moment a shot struck the Jaguar between the eyes, and it
fell dead . 56
* Now thereâ€™s something to explain the bullet! ed exclaimed Pencroft 66
A wreck in the air . : . . . . Â° 68
There was no longer a ladder ! to e es Â° Â° 73
The invaders of Granite House . . . . Â° . 80
Capturing the orang. . . Â° Â° Â° Â° Â° . 86
Engaging the new servant . . . . . . Â° 88
Building the bridge . Â° . Â° Â° Â° Â° e - 94
Pencroftâ€™s scarecrows . : . . . . . . - 96
The settlersâ€™ new shirts . . . . . â€˜ . . . 104
Jup passed most of his time in the kitchen, trying to imitate Neb 109
Pencroft to the rescue . . . . . . . . . 118
The glass-blowers . . Â° Â° e - 124
The verandah on the edge of Pr ospect Heights Â° Â° Â° . 127
The dockyard. Â° . . . .
xxii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
A valuable prize . . . Â° Â° Â° 0 Â° Â» 137
Pencroft has nothing left to wish for Â« 6 Â«Â© o o Â«142
The messenger . . ar) Â° Â° Â° Â» 149
Winter evenings in Granite H ouse e Â° . Â° . - 150
He saw nothing suspicious . . e
Top visiting the invalid . o> Â© Â© oc -Â» . . - 168
The trial trip . . . e e Â° Â° e e Â® + 174
â€œ Luff, Pencroft, luff!â€ . . â€˜ . . . . . 178
The departure . oe eee Â«18D
Nearing the island. Â° 8 . . . e . Â° - 186
Ahut! . se eee Â«1953
Herbert in danger . . . Â° . Â° Â° Â° Â° e 201
Alight! alight! . . . . . . Â° e . 2 209
â€œ Poor fellowâ€ murmured the engineer . . . Â° . . 213
The experiment . . .
â€œ Who are you ?â€ he asked ina hollow Â¥ voice . 8 Â° . 226
The stranger . . 7 . . . . Â° Â° - 227
â€œ Now for a good windâ€ . . Â° . . . - 236
He seized the jaguarâ€™s throat with one powerful hand . . . 238
The strangerâ€™s story 3 . Â° . e . - 246
â€œ Here is my handâ€ Said the engineer . . Â° Â° - 256
The engineer at work. . + 8
Jup sitting for his portrait . . . . o Â«Â© Â« 270
The snowy sheet rose and dispersed inthe air . . Â° Â» 271
Another mystery . . . . . . . Â° . - 287
Returning from a sporting excursion . . . Â° . Â» 301
The photographic negative . . Â° Â° Â° . Â° Â© 303
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE SECRET OF THE ISLAND.
: : PAGE.
Death of Captain Nemo . : ; . . Frontispiece.
A sail in sight Â° e e Â° e Â° e Â° Â° Â° 8
â€œThe black flag!â€ he exclaimed . . Â° Â° Â° o eo I2
Ayrton hoisting himself on to the cutwater . - Â«Â© Â«Â© 22
Ayrton boards the pirate . . ~ 8 Â° ee .Â« 23
â€œWhat are you doing here ?â€ : . . eo +8 6. 6 29
He leapt over the bulwarks into the sea rr 0)
Ayrton and Pencroft waited till they were within range . - 39
â€˜The chimneys attacked . . . . . : Â° Â» Â« 50
The brig, raised on a water-spout, splitintwo . . . Â« SI
â€œ That is what I have been, Pencroftâ€ . . . . .Â». Â« 5Â§
In the hold of the pirate brig . . . . ee . 62
â€œ This cylinder is all that remains of a torpedo! â€, . . Â» 67
Pencroft polishing the guns . . * 8 ; . Â» 76
At work on the plateau . . Â° Â° . + oe . Â» 84
The telegraph-post thrown.down . Â° Â° . . . - 94
Herbert shot . . . Â° Â° Â° . . . Â» 96
Pencroftâ€™s alarm for Herbert . e Â° Â° Â° Â° Â° Â« 99
Pencroft watching over Herbert . . rr . Â« 104
Top despatched with a message to Neb. 7 Â° e Â» .Â« 108
Spilett and Top reconnoitring . Â° Â° ee Â° - 122
Starting from the corral. Â° + 6 * ee + 127
Herbert on the lift . . Â° e Â° Â° Â° Â« . Â» 132
Sulphate of quinine! . . . . e . . . 142
The convalescent . Â° : . . . â€™ e s tge
XXiv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The last to leave Granite House . Â° Â° Â° e Â° . 150
On watch in the forest . . . 7 eo Â° Â° Â° 153
Spilett and Pencroft approach the corral Â° Â° Â° . Â» 164
Five corpses stretched on the bank 7 . e e . - 171
â€œDead !â€ cried Ayrton . . ar) Â© Â© Â© 6 Â« 175
The cavern in the mountain . . Â° e Â° . Â« 181
Searching for the genius of theisland . . . . . 183
They visited the gulf . . 7 . . . Â° . . 187
Gideon Spilett wants a newspaper . e Â° Â° Â° + 200
Watching the summit of Mount Franklin . . . . Â«204
The colonists remained silently crouching in a deep hollow . 2 217
Entering the mysterious cavern. . . Â° . Â° 219
Discovery of the â€œ Nautilusâ€ . . . Â° . Â° - 221
First interview with the genius of the island . e . . 222
The great unknown relates his history . Â° eo ee Â» 227
Last moments of Captain Nemo . .Â» Â«Â© Â© o e ~Â« 246
Sinking of the â€œNautilusâ€... . - . + 250
Listening to the rumbling of the volcano . . . . Â» 258
Cyrus Harding watching the eruption . . . . : - 266
The volcano wall in Dakkar Grotto. . . 271
The colonists took shelter in the borders of jacanne Wood - 279
The torrent precipitated itself into Lake Grant . : . . 281
Theexplosion . . . .Â«. Â«. . + 8 + Â« 290
The â€œDuncanâ€ . ; . . oe . : . Â« 204
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS.
ENTRANCE TO GRANITE HOUSE.
Ohe SMoysterionus Island
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS.
THE STORM OF 1865â€”VOICES IN THE AIRâ€”A BALLOON
CARRIED AWAY BY A WHIRLWINDâ€”FIVE PASSEN-
GERSâ€”WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CAR.
â€œ ARE we rising again?â€ â€œNo. On the contrary.â€ â€œAre
we descending?â€ â€œWorse than that, captain! we are
falling!â€ â€œFor Heavenâ€™s sake heave out the ballast!â€
â€œ There! the last sack is empty!â€ â€œDoes the balloon
rise?â€ â€œNo!â€ â€œI hear a noise like the dashing of
waves!â€ â€œThe sea is below the car! It cannot be more
than 500 feet from us!â€ â€œOverboard with every weight!
Such were the loud and startling words which resounded
through the air, above the vast watery desert of the Pacific,
about four oâ€™clock in the evening of the 23rd of March,
Few can possibly have forgotten the terrible storm from
2 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
the north-east, in the middle of the equinox of that year.
The tempest raged without intermission from the 18th to
the 26th of March.â€™ Its ravages were terrible in America,
Europe, and Asia, covering a distance of eighteen hundred
miles, and extending obliquely to the equator from the
thirty-fifth north parallel to the fortieth south parallel.
Towns were overthrown, forests uprooted, coasts devas-
tated by the mountains of water which were precipitated
on them, vessels cast on the shore, which the published
accounts numbered by hundreds, whole districts levelled
by waterspouts which destroyed everything they passed
over, several thousand people crushed on land or drowned
at sea ; such were the traces of its fury, left by this devas-
tating tempest. It surpassed in disasters those which
so frightfully ravaged Havannah and Guadaloupe, one on
the 25th of October, 1810, the other on the 26th of July,
But while so many catastrophes were taking place on
land and at sea, a drama not less exciting was being
Ã©nacted in the agitated air.
In fact, a balloon, as a ball might be carried on the
summit of a waterspout, had been taken into the circling
movement of a column of air and had traversed space at
the rate of ninety miles an hour, turning round and round
as if seized by some aerial maÃ©lstrom.
Beneath the lower point of the balloon, swung a car,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 3
containing five passengers, scarcely visible in-the midst of
the thick vapour mingled with spray which hung over the
surface of the ocean.
Whence, it may be asked, had come that plaything of
the tempest? From what part of the world did it rise?
It surely could not have started during the storm. But
the storm has raged five days already, and the first symp-
toms were manifested on the 18th. It cannot be doubted
that the balloon came from a great distance, for it could
not have travelled less than two thousand miles in twenty-
At any rate the passengers, destitute of all marks tor
their guidance, could not have possessed the means ot
reckoning the route traversed since their departure. It was
a remarkable fact that, although in the very midst of the
furious tempest, they did not suffer from it. They were
thrown about and whirled round and round without feeling
the rotation in the slightest degree, or being sensible that
they were removed from a horizontal position.
Their eyes could not pierce through the thick mist which
had gathered beneath the car. Dark vapour was all around
them. Such was the density of the atmosphere that they
could not be certain whether it was day or night. No
reflection o. light, no sound from inhabited land, no roaring
of theâ€˜ocean could have reached them, through the obscu-
tity, whilst suspended in those elevated zones. Their rapid
4 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
descent alone had informed them of the dangers which
they ran from the waves. However, the balloon, lightened
vf heavy articles, such as ammunition, arms, and provisions,
had risen into the higher layers of the atmosphere, to a
height of 4500 feet. The voyagers, after having discovered
that the sea extended beneath them, and thinking the
dangers above less dreadful than those below, did not hesi-
tate to throw overboard even their most useful articles,
while they endeavoured to lose no more of that fluid, the
life of their enterprise, which sustained them above the
The night passed in the midst of alarms which would
have bÃ©en death to less energetic souls. Again the day
appeared and with it the tempest began to moderate.
From the heginning of that day, the 24th of March, it
showed symptoms of abating. At dawn, some of the
lighter clouds had risen into the more lofty regions of the
air. Ina few hours the wind had changed from a hurricane
to a fresh breeze, that is to say, the rate of the transit of
the atmospheric layers was diminished by half. It was
still what sailors call â€œa close-reefed topsail breeze,â€ but
the commotion in the elements had not the less conside-
Towards eleven oâ€™clock, the lower region of the air was
sensibly clearer. The atmosphere threw off that chilly
dampness which is felt after the passage of a great meteor
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 5
Yhe storm did not seem to have gone further to the west.
It appeared to have exhausted itself, Could it have passed
away in electric sheets, as is sometimes the case with regard
to the typhoons of the Indian Ocean ?
But at the same time, it was also evident that the balloon
was again slowly descending with a regular movement. It
appeared as if it were, little by little, collapsing, and that its
case was lengthening and extending, passing from a sphe-
rical to an oval form. Towards mid-day the balloon was
hovering above the sea at a height of only 2000 feet. It
contained 50,000 cubic feet of gas, and, thanks to its capa-
city, it could maintain itself a long time in the air, although
it should reach a great altitude or might be thrown into a
horizontal position. .
Perceiving their danger, the passengers cast away the last
articles whichâ€˜still weighed down the car, the few provisions
they had kept, everything, even to their pocket-knives, and
one of them, liaving hoisted himself on to the circles which
united the cords of the net, tried to secure more firmly the
lower point of the balloon.
It was, however, evident to the voyagers that the gas
was failing, and that the balloon could no longer be
sustained in the higher regions. They must infallibly
There was not a continent, nor even an island. visible
heneath them. The watery expanse did not present a
6 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
single speck of land, not a solid surface upon which their
anchor could hold.
It was the open sea, whose waves were still dashing with
tremendous violence! It was the ocean, without any visi-
ble limits, even for those whose gaze, from their command-
ing position, extended over a radius of forty miles. The
vast liquid plain, lashed without mercy by the. storm,
appeared as if covered with herds of furious chargets,
whose white and dishevelled crests were streaming in the
wind. No land was in sight, not a solitary ship could be
seen. It was necessary at any cost to arrest their down-
ward course, and to prevent the balloon from being engulfed
in the waves. The voyagers directed all their energies to
this urgent work. But, notwithstanding their efforts, the
balloon still fell, it was also suddenly overthrown, following
the direction of the wind, that is to say, from the north-
east to the south-west.
Frightful indeed was the situation of these unfortunate
men. They were evidently no longer masters of the
machine. All their attempts were useless. The case o,
the balloon collapsed more and more. The gas escaped
without any possibility of retaining it. Their descent was
visibly accelerated, and soon after mid-day the car hung
within 600 feet of the ocean.
It was impossible to prevent the escape of gas, which
rushed through a large rent in the silk. By lightening the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 7
car of all the articles which it contained, the passengers
had been able to prolong their suspension in the air for a
few hours. But the inevitable catastrophe could only be
retarded, and if land did not appear before night, voyagers,
car, and balloon must to a certainty vanish beneath the
They now resorted to the only remaining expedient.
They were truly dauntless men, who knew how to look
death in the face. Not a single murmur escaped from
their lips. They were determined to struggle to the last
minute, to do anything to retard their fall: The car was
only a sort of willow basket, unable to float, and there was
not the slightest possibility of maintaining it on the surface
of the sea,
Two-more hours: passed and the balloon was saateety
400 feet above the water.
At that moment a loud voice, the voice of a man whose :
heart was inaccessible to fear, was heard.â€™ To this voice
responded others not less determined. â€œIs everything
thrown out?â€ â€œNo, here are still 2000 dollars in gold.â€
A heavy bag immediately plunged into the sea. â€œDoes
the balloon rise?â€ â€œA little, but it will not be long before
it falls again.â€ â€œWhat still remains to be thrown out?â€
â€œNothing.â€ â€œYes! the car!â€ â€œLet us:catch hold of the
net, and into the sea with the car.â€
This was, in fact, the last and only mode of lightening
8 TIIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
the balloon. The ropes which held the car were cut, and
the balloon, after its fall, mounted 2000 feet.
The five voyagers had hoisted themselves into the net,
and clung to the meshes, gazing at the abyss.
The delicate sensibility of balloons is well known. It is
sufficient to throw out the lightest article to produce a
difference in its vertical position. The apparatus in the
air is like a balance of mathematical precision. It can be
thus easily understood that when it is lightened of any
considerable weight its movement will be impetuous and
sudden. So it happened on this occasion. But after being
suspended for an instant aloft, the balloon began to
redescend, the gas escaping by the rent which it was
impossible to repair.
The men had done all that men could do. No human
efforts could save them now. They must trust to the
mercy of Him who rules the elements.
At four oâ€™clock the â€˜balloon was only 500 feet above the
surface of the water. .
A loud barking was heard. A dog accompanied the
voyagers, and was held pressed close to. his master in the
meshes of the net.
â€œTop has seen something,â€ cried one of the men. Then
immediately a loud voice shouted,â€”
â€œLand! land!â€ â€˜The balloon, which the wind still drove
towards the south-west, had since daybreak gone a con-
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 9
siderable distance, which might be reckoned by hundreds
of miles, and a tolerably high land had, m fact, appeared
in that direction. But this land was still thirty miles off.
It would not take less than an hour to get to it, and then
there was the chance of falling to leeward.
An hour! Might not the balloon before that be emptied
of all the fluid it yet retained ?
Such was the terrible question! The voyagers could
distinctly see that solid spot which they must reach at any
cost. They were ignorant of what it was, whether an
island or a continent, for they did not know to what part
of the world the hurricane had driven them. But they
must reach this land, whether inhabited or desolate,
whether hospitable or not.
It was evident that the balloon could no longer support
itself! Several times already had the crests of the
enormous billows licked the bottom of the net, making it
still heavier, and the balloon only half rose, like a bird
with a wounded wing. Half an hour later the land was
not more than a mile off, but the balloon, exhausted,
flabby, hanging in great folds, had gas in its upper part
alone. The voyagers, clinging to the net, were still too
heavy for it, and soon, half plunged in the sea, they were
beaten by the furious waves. The balloon-case bulged out
again, and the wind, taking it, drove it along like a vessel,
Might it not possibly thus reach the land?
10 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
But, when only two fathoms off, terrible cries resounded
from four pairs of lungs at once. The balloon, which had
appeared as if it would never again rise, suddenly made an
unexpected bound, after having been struck by a tre-
mendous sea. As if it had been at that instant relieved of
a new part of its weight, it mounted to a height of 1500
feet, and there it met a current of wind, which instead of
taking it directly to the coast, carried it in a nearly parallel
At last, two minutes later, it reapproached obliquely, and
finally fell on a sandy beach, out of the reach of the waves.
The voyagers, aiding each other, managed to disengage
themselves from the meshes of the net. The balloon,
relieved from their weight, was taken by the wind, and like
a wounded bird which revives for an instant, disappeared
But the car had contained five passengers, with a dog,
and the balloon only left four on the shore.
The missing person had evidently been swept off by the
sea, which had just struck the net, and it was owing to this
circumstance that the lightened balloon rose the last time,
and then soon after reached the land. Scarcely had the
four castaways set foot on firm ground, than they all,
thinking of the absent one, simultaneously exclaimed,
â€œPerhaps he will try to swim to land! Let us save him!
let us save him !â€
LAND AT LAST.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. Ii
AN INCIDENT IN THE WAR OF SECESSIONâ€”THE EN-
GINEER CYRUS HARDINGâ€”GIDEON SPILETTâ€”THE
â€˜ NEGRO NEBâ€”PENCROFT THE SAILORâ€”THE NIGHT
RENDEZVOUSâ€”DEPARTURE IN TIIE STORM.
THOSE whom the hurricane had just thrown on this coast
were neither aeronauts by profession nor amateurs. They
were prisoners of war whose boldness had induced them to
escape in this extraordinary manner.
A hundred times they had almost perished! A hundred
times had they almost fallen from their torn balloon into
the depths of the ocean. But Heaven had reserved them
for a strange destiny, and after having, on the 20th of
March, escaped from Richmond, besieged by the troops of
General Ulysses Grant, they found themselves seven thou-
sand miles from the capital of Virginia, which was the
principal stronghold of the south, during the terrible war of
Secession. Their aerial voyage had lasted five days.
y2 THE MYSTERIOUS. ISLAND.
The curious circumstances which led to the escape of the
prisoners were as follows :â€”
That same year, in the month of February, 1865, in one
of the coups-de-main by which General Grant attempted,
though in vain, to possess himself of Richmond, several of
his officers fell into the power of the enemy and were
detained in the town. One of the most distinguished was
Captain Cyrus Harding. He was a native of Massachu-
setts, a first-class engineer, to whom the government had
confided, during the war, the direction of the railways,
which were so important at that time. A true Northerner,
thin, bony, lean, about forty-five years of age; his close-
cut hair and his beard, of which he only kept a thick
moustache, were already getting grey. He had one of
those finely-developed heads which appear made to be
struck on a medal, piercingâ€™ eyes, a serious mouth, the
physiognomy of a clever man of the military school. He
was one of those engineers who began by handling the
hammer and pickaxe, like generals who first act as common
soldiers. Besides mental power, he also possessed great
manual dexterity. His muscles exhibited remarkable
proofs of tenacity. A man of action as well as a man of
thought, all he did was without effort to one of his vigorous
and sanguine temperament. Learned, clear-headed, and
practical, he fulfilled in all emergencies those three con-
ditions- which united ought to insure human success,â€”
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 13
activity of mind and body, impetuous wishes, and powerful
will. He might have taken for his motto that of William
of Orange in the 17th century: â€œI can undertake and
persevere even without hope of success.â€ Cyrus Harding
was courage personified. He had been in all the battles of
that war. After having begun as a volunteer at Illinois,
under Ulysses Grant, he fought at Paduah, Belmont, Pitts-
burg Landing, at the siege of Corinth, Port Gibson, Black
River, Chatanoga, Wilderness, Potomac, everywhere and
valiantly, a soldier worthy of the general who said, â€œI
never count my dead!â€ And hundreds of times Captain
Harding had almost been among those who were not
counted by the terrible Grant ; but in these combats where
he never spared himself, fortune favoured him till the
moment when he was wounded and taken prisoner on the
field of battle near Richmond. At the same time and on
the same day another important personage fell into the
hands of the Southerners, This was no other than Gideon
Spilett, a reporter for the Wew York Herald, who had been
ordered to follow the changes of the war in the midst of
the northern armies.
Gideon Spilett was one of that race of indomitable
English or American chroniclers, like Stanley and others,
who stop at nothing to obtain exact information, and
transmit it to their journal in the shortest possible time.
The newspapers of the Union, such as the Mew York
14 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Fferald, are formed of actual powers, and their. reporters
are their representatives. Gideon Spilett ranked among
the first of those reporters: a man of great merit, energetic,
prompt and ready for anything, full of ideas, having
travelled over the whole world, soldier and artist, enthu-
siastic in council, resolute in action, caring neither for
trouble, fatigue, nor danger, when in pursuit of information,
for himself first, and then for his journal, a perfect treasury
of knowledge on all sorts of curious subjects, of the
unpublished, of the unknown, and of the impossible. He
was one of those intrepid observers who write under fire,
â€œreportingâ€ amongst bullets, and to whom every danger
He â€˜also had been in all. the battles, in the first rank,
revolver in one hand, note-book in the other; grape-shot
never made his pencil tremble. He did not fatigue the
wires with incessant telegrams, like those who speak when
they have nothing to say, but each of his notes, short,
decisive, and clear, threw light on some important point.
Besides, he was not wanting in humour. It was he who, after
the affair of the Black River, determined at any cost to
keep his place at the wicket of the telegraph office, and
after having announced to his journal the result 0. the battle,
telegraphed for two hours the first chapters of the Bible.
It cost the Wew York Herald two thousand dollars, but
the New York Herald published the first intelligence.
REPORTING UNDER FIRE.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. â€œ15
Gideon Spilett was tall. He was rather more than forty
years of age. Light whiskers bordering on red surrounded
his face. His eye was steady, lively, rapid in its changes.
It was the eye of a man accustomed to take in at a glance
all the details of a scene. Well built, he was inured to all
climates, like a bar of steel hardened in cold water.
For ten years Gideon Spilett had been the reporter of
the Vew York Herald, which he enriched by his letters and
drawings, for he was as skilful in the use of the pencil as of
the pen. When he was captured, he was in the act of
making a description and sketch of the battle. The last
words in his note-book were these: â€œA Southern rifleman
The Southerner not-
has just taken aim at me, butâ€”â€
withstanding missed Gideon Spilett, who, with his usual
fortune, came out of this affair without a scratch.
Cyrus Harding and Gideon Spilett, who did not know
each other except by reputation, had both been carried to
Richmond. The engineerâ€™s wounds rapidly healed, and it
was during his convalescence that he made acquaintance
with the reporter. The two men then learned to appreciate
each other. Soon their common aim had but one object,
that of escaping, rejoining Grantâ€™s army, and fighting
together in the ranks of the Federals.
The two Americans had from the first determined to
seize every chance; but although they were allowed to
wander at liberty in the town, Richmond was so strictly
16 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
guarded, that escape appeared impossible. In the mean-
while Captain Harding was rejoined by a. servant who was
devoted to him in life and in death. This intrepid fellow
was a negro born on the engineerâ€™s estate, of a slave father
and mother, but to whom Cyrus, who was an Abolitionist
from conviction and heart, had long since given his
freedom. The once slave, though free, would not leave his
master. He would have died for him. He was a man of
about. thirty, vigorous, active, clever, intelligent, gentle,
and calm, sometimes naive, always merry, obliging, and
honest. His name was Nebuchadnezzar, but he only
answered to the familiar abbreviation of Neb.
When Neb heard that his master had been made
prisoner, he left Massachusetts without hesitating an
instant, arrived before Richmond, and by dint of stratagem
and shrewdness, after having risked his life twenty times
over, managed to penetrate into the besieged town. The
pleasure of Harding on seeing his servant, and the joy of
Neb at finding his master, can scarcely be described.
But though Neb had been able to make his way into
Richmond, it was quite another thing to get out again, for
the Northern prisoners were very strictly watched. Some
extraordinary opportunity was needed to make the attempt
with any chance of success, and this opportunity not only
did not present itself, but was very difficult to find.
Meanwhile Grant continued his energetic operations,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 17
The victory of Petersburg had been very dearly bought.
His forces, united to those of Butler, had as yet been
unsuccessful before Richmond, and nothing gave the
prisoners any hope of a speedy deliverance.
The reporter, to whom his tedious captivity did not offer
a single incident worthy of note, could stand it no longer
His usually active mind was occupied with one sole
thoughtâ€”how he might get out of Richmond at any cost.
Several times had he even made the attempt, but was
stopped by some insurmountable obstacle. However, the
siege continued; and if the prisoners were anxious to
escape and join Grantâ€™s army, certain of the besieged were
no less anxious to join the Southern forces. Amongst
them was one Jonathan Forster, a determined South-
erner. The truth was, that if the prisoners of the Seces-
sionists could not leave the town, neither could the
Secessionists themselves while the Northern army invested
it. The Governor of Richmond for a long time had
been unable to communicate with General Lee, and he
very much wished to make known to him the situation of
the town, so as to hasten the march of the army to their
relief. This Jonathan Forster accordingly conceived the
idea of rising in a balloon, so as to pass over the besieging
lines, and in that way reach the Secessionist camp.
The Governor authorized the attempt. A balloon was
manufactured and placed at the disposal of Forster, who
18 . THE .MYSTERIOUS -ISLAND.,. -
was to be accompanied by five other persons. They were
furnished with arms in case they might have to defend
themselves when they alighted, and provisions in the event
of their aerial voyage being prolonged.
The departure of the balloon was fixed for the 18th of
March. It should be effected during the night, with a
north-west wind of moderate force, and the aeronauts calcu-
lated that they would reach General Leeâ€™s camp in a few
But this north-west wind was not a simple breeze. From
the 18th it was evident that it was changing to a hurricane.
The tempest soon became such that Forsterâ€™s departure
was deferred, for it was impossible to risk the balloon
and those whom it carried in the midst of the furious
elements. : wie ,
The balloon, inflated on the great square of Richmond,
was ready to depart on the first abatement of the wind,
and, as may be supposed, the impatience among the
besieged to see the storm moderate was very great.
The 18th, the 19th of March passed without any altera-
tion in the weather. There was even great difficulty in
keeping the balloon fastened to the ground, as the a ae
dashed it furiously about.
The night of the 19th passed, but the next morning the
storm blew with redoubled force. The departure of the
balloon was impossible.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 19
On that day the engineer, Cyrus Harding, was accosted
in one of the streets of Richmond by a person whom he did
not in the least know. This was a sailor named Pencroft,
a man of about thirty-five or forty years of age, strongly
built, very sunburnt, and possessed of a pair of bright
sparkling eyes and a remarkably good physiognomy.
Pencroft was an American from the North, who had sailed
all the ocean over, and who had gone through every
possible and almost impossible adventure that a being
with two feet and no wings could encounter. It is need-
less to say that he was a bold, dashing fellow, ready to
dare anything and was astonished at nothing. Pencroft
at the beginning of the year had gone to Richmond on
business, with a young boy of fifteen from New Jersey,
son of a former captain, an orphan, whom he loved as if he
had been his own child. Not having been able to leave
the town before the first operations of the siege, he found
himself shut up, to his great disgust; but, not accustomed
to succumb to difficulties, he resolved to escape by some
means or other. He knew the engineer-officer by reputa-
tion; he knew with what impatience that determined man
chafed under his restraint. On this day he did not,
therefore, hesitate to accost him, saying, without circume
locution, â€œ Have you had enough of Richmond, captain ?â€
The engineer looked fixedly at the man who spoke, and
who added, in a low voice,â€”
20 THE MYSTERIOUS ISI.AND.
â€œ Captain Harding, will you try to escape ?â€
â€œWhen?â€ asked the engineer quickly, and it was
evident that this question was uttered without considera-
tion, for he had not yet examined the. stranger who
addressed him. But after having with a penetrating eye
observed the open face of the sailor, heâ€™ was convinced that
he had before him an honest man.
â€œWho are you?â€ he asked briefly.
Pencroft made himself known.
â€œWell,â€ replied Harding, â€œand in what. way do you
propose to escape?â€
â€œ By that lazy balloon which is left there doing nothing,
and which looks to me as if it was waiting on purpose for
There was no necessity for the sailor to finish his
sentence. The engineer understood him at once. He
seized Pencroft by the arm, and dragged him to his house.
There the sailor developed his project, which was â€˜indeed
extremely simple. They risked nothing but their lives in
its execution. The hurricane was in all its violence, it is
true, but so clever and daring an engineer as Cyrus
Harding, knew perfectly well.-how to manage a balloon.
Had he himself been as well acquainted with the art of
sailing in the air as he was with the navigation of a ship,
Pencroft would not have hesitated to set out, of course
aking his young friend Herbert with him; for, accustomed
A DARING PROPOSAL.
. DROPPED FROM TIIE CLOUDS. 21
to brave the fiercest tempests of the ocean, he was not to
be hindered on account of the hurricane.
Captain Harding had listened to the sailor without
saying a word, but his eyes shone with satisfaction. Here
was the long-sought-for opportunity,â€”he was not a man
to let it pass.. The plan was feasible, though, it must be
confessed, dangerous in the extreme. In the night, in
spite of their guards, they might approach the balloon, slip
into the car, and then cut the cords which held it. There
was no doubt that they might be killed, but on the other
hand they might succeed, and without this storm !â€”
Without this storm the balloon would have started already,
and the looked-for opportunity would not have then
â€œTam not alone!â€ said Harding at last.
â€œFlow many people do you wish to bring with you?â€
asked the sailor.
â€œTwo; my friend Spilett, and my servant Neb.â€
â€œThat will be three,â€ replied Pencroft; â€œand with
Herbert and me five. But the balloon will hold sixâ€”â€ |
â€œThat will be enough, we will go,â€ answered Harding
in a firm voice.
This â€œweâ€ included Spilett, for the reporter, as his
triend well knew, was not a man to draw back, and when
the project was communicated to him he approved of it
unreservedly. What astonished him was, that so simple
22 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
an idea had not occurred to him before. As to Neb,
he followed his master wherever his master wished
â€œThis evening, then,â€ said Pencroft, â€œwe will all meet
â€œ This evening, at ten o'clock,â€ replied Captain Harding;
â€œand Heaven grant that the storm does not abate before
Pencroft took leave of the two friends, and returned to
his lodging, where young Herbert Brown had remained.
The courageous boy knew of the sailorâ€™s plan, and it was
not without anxiety that he awaited the result of the
proposal being made to the engineer. Thus five deter-
mined persons were about to abandon themselves to the
mercy of the tempestuous elements!
No! the storm did not abate, and neither Jonathan
Forster nor his companions dreamt of confronting it in that
It would bea terrible journey. The engineer only feared
one thing, it was that the balloon, held to the ground and
dashed about by the wind, would be torn into shreds. For
several hours he roamed round the nearly-deserted square,
surveying the apparatus. Pencroft did the same on his side,
his hands iu his pockets, yawning now and then like a man
who did not know howto kill the time, but really dreading,
like his friend, either the escape or destruction of the balloon.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 23
Evening arrived. The night was dark in the extreme.
Thick mists passed like clouds close to the ground. Rain
fell mingled with snow. It was very cold. A mist hung
over Richmond. It seemed as if the violent storm had
produced a truce between the besiegers and the besieged,
and that the cannon were silenced by the louder detona-
tions of the storm. The streets of the town were deserted.
It had not even appeared necessary in that horrible weather
to place a guard in the square, in the midst of which
plunged the balloon. Everything favoured the departure
of the prisoners, but what might possibly be the termina-
tion of the hazardous voyage they contemplated in the
midst of the furious elements ?â€”
â€œDirty weather!â€ exclaimed Pencroft, fixing his hat
firmly on his head with a blow of his fist; â€œ but pshaw, we
shall succeed all the same!â€
At half-past nine, Harding and his companions glided
from different directions into the square, which the gas-
lamps, extinguished by the wind, had left in total obscurity.
Even the enormous balloon, almost beaten to the ground,
could not be seen. Independently of the sacks of ballast,
to which the cords of the net were fastened, the car was
held by a strong cable passed through a ring in the pave-
ment, The five prisoners met by the car. They had not
been perceived, and such was the darkness that they could
not even see each other.
24 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Without speaking a word, Harding, Spilett, Neb, and
Herbert, took their places in the car, whilst Pencroft by the
engineerâ€™s order detached successively the bags of ballast.
It was the work of a few minutes only, and the sailor rejoined
The bailoon was then only held by the cable, and the
engineer had nothing to do but to give the word. __
At that moment a dog sprang with a bound into the car.
It was Top, a favourite of the engineer. The faithful
creature, having broken his chain, had followed his master.
He, however, fearing that its additional weight might im-
pede their ascent, wished to send away the animal.
â€œOne more will make but little difference, poor beast !â€
exclaimed Pencroft, heaving out two bags of sand, and as
he spoke letting go the cable; the balloon ascending in an
oblique direction, disappeared, after having dashed the car
against two chimneys, which it threw down as it swept by
Then, indeed, the full rage of the hurricane was exhibited
to the voyagers. During the night the engineer could not
dream of descending, and when day broke, even a glimpse
of the earth below was intercepted by fog.
Five days had passed when a partial clearing allowed
them to see the wide extending ocean beneath their feet,
now lashed into the maddest fury by the gale.
Our readers will recollect what befell these five daring
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 25
individuals who set out on their hazardous expedition in the
balloon on the 20th of March. Five days afterwards four of
them were thrown on a desert coast, seven thousand miles
from their country! But one of their number was missing,
the man who was to be their guide, their leading spirit,
the engineer, Captain Harding! The instant they had
recovered their feet, they all hurried to the beach in the
hopes of rendering him assistance.â€™
1 On the 5th of April Richmond fell into the hands of Grant 3; the
revolt of the Secessionists was suppressed, Lee retreated to the West,
and the cause of the Federals triumphed.
26 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE EVENINGâ€”THE MISSING ONEâ€”
NEBâ€™S DESPAIRâ€”SEARCH TOWARDS THE NORTHâ€”
THE ISLETâ€”A DREADFUL NIGHTâ€”A FOG IN THE
MORNINGâ€”NEB SWIMSâ€”SIGHT OF LANDâ€”FORDING
THE engineer, the meshes of the net having given way,
had been carried off by a wave. His dog also had dis-
appeared. The faithful animal had voluntarily leaped out
to help his master. â€œ Forward,â€ cried the reporter ; andall
four, Spilett, Herbert, Pencroft, and Neb, forgetting their
fatigue, began their search. Poor Neb shed bitter tears,
giving way to despair at the thoughts of having lost the
only being he loved on earth.
Only two minutes had passed from the time when Cyrus
Harding disappeared to the moment when his companions
set foot onthe ground. They had hopes therefore of arriving
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 27
in time tosave him. â€œLet us look for him! let us look for
him!â€ cried Neb. -
â€œYes, Neb,â€ replied Gideon Spilett, â€œand we will find
him too !â€
* Living, I trust!â€
â€œStill living !â€
â€œCan he swim?â€ asked Pencroft.
â€œYes,â€ replied Neb, â€œand besides, Top is there.â€
The sailor, observing the heavy surf on the shore, shook
The engineer had disappeared to the north of the shore,
and nearly half a mile from the place where the castaways
had landed. The nearest point of the beach he could
reach was thus fully that distance off.
It was then nearly six oâ€™clock. A thick fog made the
night very dark. The castaways proceeded towards_.the
north of the land on which chance had thrown them, an
unknown region, the geographical situation of which they
could not even guess. They were walking upon a sandy
soil, mingled with stones, which appeared destitute of any
sort of vegetation. The ground, very unequal and rough,
was in some places perfectly riddled with holes, making
walking extremely painful. From these holes escaped
every minute great birds of clumsy flight, which flew in all
directions. Others, more active, rose in flocks and passed
in clouds over their heads. The sailor thought he
28 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
recognized gulls and cormorants, whose shrill cries rose
above the roaring of the sea.
From time to time the castaways stopped and shouted,
then listened for some response from the ocean, for they
thought that if the engineer had landed, and they had been
near to the place, they would have heard the barking of
the dog Top, even should Harding himself have been
unable to give any sign of existence. They stopped to
listen, but no sound arose above the roaring of the waves
and the dashing of the surf. The little band then continued
their march forward, searching into every hollow of the
After walking for twenty minutes, the four. castaways
were suddenly brought to a standstill by the sight
of foaming billows close to their feet. The solid ground
ended here. They found themselves at the extremity of a
sharp point on which the sea broke furiously.
â€œTt is a promontory,â€ said the sailor; â€œ we must retrace
our steps, holding towards the right, and we shall thus gain
â€œBut if he is there,â€ said Neb, pointing to the ocean,
whose waves shone of a snowy white in the darkness,
â€œWell, let us call again,â€ and all uniting their voices, they
gave a vigorous shout, but there came no reply. They
waited for a lull, then began again; still no reply.
The castaways accordingly returned, following the oppo-
WHERE IS THE ENGINEER?
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 29
site side of the promontory, over a soil equally sandy and
rugged. However, Pencroft observed that the shore was
more equal, that the ground rose, and he declared that it
was joined by a long slope to a hill, whose massive front he
thought that he could see looming indistinctly through the
mist. The birds were less numerous on this part of the
shore; the sea was also less tumultuous, and they observed
that the agitation of the waves was diminished. The noise
of the surf was scarcely heard. This side of the promontory
evidently formed a semi-circular bay, which the sharp point
sheltered from the breakers of the open sea. But to
follow this direction was to go south, exactly opposite to
that part of the coast where Harding might have landed.
After a walk of a mile and a half, the shore presented no
curve which would permit them to return to the north.
This promontory, of which they had turned the point, must
be attached to the mainland. The castaways, although their
strength was nearly exhausted, still marched courageously
forward, hoping every moment to meet with a sudden angle
which would set them in the first direction. What was
their disappointment, when, after trudging nearly two
miles, having reached an elevated point composed ot
slippery rocks, they found themselves again stopped by the
â€œWe are on an islet,â€ said Pencroft, â€œand we have sur-
veyed it from one extremity to the other.â€
30 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The sailor was right; they had been thrown, not on
a continent, not even on an island, but on an islet which
was not more than two miles in length, with even a less
Was this barren spot the desolate refuge of sea-birds,
strewn with stones and destitute of vegetation, attached to
a more important archipelago? It was impossible to say.
When the voyagers from their car saw the land through
the mist, they had not been able to reconnoitre it sufficiently.
However, Pencroft, accustomed with his sailor eyes to pierce
through the gloom, was almost certain that he could clearly
distinguish in the west confused masses which indicated an
elevated coast. But they could not in the dark determine
whether it was a single island, or connected with others,
They could not leave it either, as the sea surrounded them ;
they must therefore put off till the next day their search for
the engineer, from whom, alas! nota single cry had reached
them to show that he was still in existence.
â€œThe silence of our friend proves nothing,â€ said the
reporter. â€œPerhaps he. has fainted or is wounded, and
unable to reply directly, so we will not despair.â€
The reporter then proposed to light a fire on a point of
the islet, which would serve as a signal to the engineer.
But they searched in vain for wood or dry brambles;
nothiag but sand and stones were to be found. The grief
of Neb and his companions, who were all strongly attached
DROPPED. FROM THE CLOUDS. 31
to the intrepid Harding, can be better pictured than de-
scribed. It was too evident that they were powerless to
help him. They must wait with what patience they could
for daylight. Either the engineer had been able to save
himself, and had already found a refuge on some point of
the. coast, or he was lost for ever! The long and painful
hours passed by. The cold was intense. The castaways
suffered cruelly, but they scarcely perceived it. They did
not even think of taking a minuteâ€™s rest. Forgetting every-
thing but their chief, hoping or wishing to hope on, they
continued to walk up and down on this sterile spot, always
returning to its northern point, where they could approach
nearest to the scene of the catastrophe. They listened,
they called, and then uniting their voices, they endeavoured
to raise even a louder shout than before, which would be
transmitted to a great distance. The wind had now fallen
almost to a calm, and the noise of the sea began also to
subside. One of Nebâ€™s shouts even appeared to produce
an echo. Herbert directed Pencroftâ€™s attention to it, add-
ing, â€œThat proves that there is a coast to the west, at no
great distance.â€ The sailor nodded; besides, his eyes
could not deceive him. If he had discovered land, however
indistinct it might appear, land was sure to be there. But
that distant echo was the only response produced by Nebâ€™s
shouts, while a heavy gloom hung over all the part east
of the island,
32 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Meanwhile, the sky was clearing little by little. Towards
midnight the stars shone out, and if the engineer had been
there with his companions he would have remarked that
these stars did not belong to the Northern hemisphere.
The polar star was not visible, the constellations were not
those which they had been accustomed to see in the
United States; the Southern Cross glittered brightly in
The night passed away. Towards five oâ€™clock in the
morning of the 25th of March, the sky began to lighten ;
the horizon still remained dark, but with daybreak a thick
mist rose from the sea, so that the eye could scarcely
penetrate beyond twenty feet or so from where they
stood. At length the fog gradually unrolled itself in great
heavily moving waves.
It was unfortunate, however, that the castaways could
distinguish nothing around them. Whilst the gaze of the
reporter and Neb were cast upon the ocean, the sailor and
Herbert looked eagerly for the coast in the west. But
not a speck of land was visible. â€œNever mind,â€ said
Pencroft, â€œthough I do not see the land, I feel it...
it is there... there... as sure as the fact that we are
no longer at Richmond.â€ But the fog was not long in
rising. It was only a fine-weather mist. A hot sun soon
penetrated to the surface of the island. About half-past
six, three-quarters of an hour after sunrise, the mist became
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 33
more transparent. It grew thicker above, but cleared
away below. Soon the isle appeared as if it had descended
from.a cloud, then the sea showed itself around them,
spreading far away towards the east, but bounded on the
west by an abrupt and precipitous coast.
Yes! the land was there. Their safety was at least
provisionally insured. The islet and the coast were
separated by a channel about half a mile in breadth, through
which rushed an extremely rapid current.
However, one of the castaways, following the impulse
of his heart, immediately threw himself into the current,
without consulting his companions, without saying a single
word. It was Neb. He was in haste to be on the other
side, and to climb towards the north. It had been im-
possible to hold him back. Pencroft called him in vain.
The reporter prepared to follow him, but Pencroft stopped
him. â€œDo you want to cross the channel?â€ he asked.
â€œYes,â€ replied Spilett. â€œAll right !â€ said the seaman ;
â€œwait a bit; Neb is well able to carry help to his master.
If we venture into the channel, we risk being carried into
the open sea by the current, which is running very strong ;
but, if Iâ€™m not wrong, it'is ebbing. See, the tide is going
down over the sand. Let us have patience, and at low
water it is possible we may find a fordable passage.â€ â€œYou
are right,â€ replied the reporter, â€œ we will not separate more
than we can help.â€
34 ; TIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
During this time Neb was struggling vigorously against
the current. He was crossing in an oblique direction. His
black shoulders could be seen emerging at euch stroke.
He was carried down very quickly, but he also made way
towards the shore. It took more than half an hour to
cross from the islet to the land, and he reached the shore
several hundred feet from the place which was opposite to
the point from which he had started.
Landing at the foot of a high wall of granite, he shook
himself vigorously; and then, setting off running, soon
disappeared behind a rocky point, which projected to
nearly the height of the northern extremity of the
Nebâ€™s companions had watched his daring attempt with.
painful anxiety, and when he was out of sight, they fixed
their attention on the land where their hope of safety lay,
whilst eating some shell-fish with which the sand was
strewn. It was a wretched repast, but still it was better
than nothing. The opposite coast formed one vast bay,
terminating on the south by a very sharp point, which was
destitute of all vegetation, and was of a very wild aspect.
This point abutted on the shore in a grotesque outline of
high granite rocks. Towards the north, on the contrary,
the bay widened, and a more rounded coast appeared,
trending from the south-west to the north-east, and ter-
minating in a slender cape. The distance between these
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 35
two extremities, which made the bow of the bay, was
about eight miles. Half a mile from the shore rose the
islet, which somewhat resembled the carcase of a gigantic
whale. Its extreme breadth was not more than a quarter
of a mile.
Opposite the islet, the beach consisted first of sand,
covered with black stones, which were now appearing little
by little above the retreating tide. The second level was
separated by a perpendicular granite cliff, terminated at
the top by an unequal edge at a height of at least 300 feet.
It continued thus for a length of three miles, ending
suddenly on the right with a precipice which looked as if
cut by the hand of man. On the left, above the pro-
montory, this irregular and jagged cliff descended by a
long slope of conglomerate rocks till it mingled with the
ground of the southern point. On the upper plateau of
the coast not a tree appeared. It was a flat table-land
like that above Cape Town at the Cape of Good Hope,
but of reduced proportions ; at least so it appeared seen
from the islet. However, verdure was not wanting to the
right beyond the precipice. They could easily distinguish
a confused mass of great trees, which extended beyond the
limits of their view. This verdure relieved the eye, so
long wearied by the continued ranges of granite. Lastly,
beyond and above the plateau, in a north-westerly direction
and at a distance of at least seven miles. glittered a white
36 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
summit which reflected the sunâ€™s rays. It was that of a
lofty mountain, capped with snow.
The question could not at present be decided whether
this land formed an island, or whether it belonged to a
continent. But on beholding the convulsed masses heaped
up on the left, no geologist would have hesitated to give
them a volcanic origin, for they were unquestionably the
work of subterranean convulsions.
Gideon Spilett, Pencroft, and Herbert attentively exa-
mined this land, on which they might perhaps have to live
many long years; on which indeed they might even die,
should it be out of the usual track of vessels, as was too
likely to be the'case.
â€œWell,â€ asked Herbert, â€œwhat do you say, Pencroft ?â€
â€œThere is some good and some bad, as in everything,â€
replied the sailor. â€œWe shall see. But now the ebb is
evidently making. In three hours we will attempt the
passage, and once on the other side we will try to get qut
of this scrape, and I hope may find the captain.â€ Pencroft
was. not wrong in his anticipations. Three hours later at
low tide, the greater part of the sand forming the bed of
the channel was uncovered. Between the islet and the
coast there only remained a narrow channel which would
no doubt be easy to cross.
About ten oâ€™clock, Gideon Spilett and his companions
stripped themselves of their clothes, which they placed in
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. _ 3?
bundles on their heads, and then ventured into the water,
which was not more than five feet deep. Herbert, for
whom it was too. deep, swam like a fish, and got through
capitally. All three arrived. without â€˜difficulty on the
opposite shore. Quickly drying themselves in the sun,
they put on their clothes, which they had preserved from
contact with the water, and sat down to take counsel
together what to do next.
38 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
LITHODOMESâ€”THE RIVER'S MOUTHâ€”THE CHIMNEYSâ€”
CONTINUED RESEARCHESâ€”THE FOREST OF EVER-
GREENSâ€”WAITING FOR THE EBBâ€”ON THE HEIGHTS
â€”THE RAFTâ€”RETURN TO THE SHORE.
ALL at once the reporter sprang up, and telling the sailor
that he would rejoin them at that same place, he climbed
the cliff in the direction which the negro Neb had taken a
few hours before. Anxiety hastened his steps, for he
longed to obtain news of his friend, and he soon dis-
appeared round an angle of the cliff. Herbert wished to
â€œStop here, my boy,â€ said the sailor; â€œwe have to
prepare an encampment, and to try and find rather better
grub than these shell-fish. Our friends will want some-
thing when they come back. There is work for every-
â€œT am ready,â€ replied Herbert.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 39
â€œ All right,â€ said the sailor; â€œthat will do. We must
set about it regularly. We are tired, cold, and hungry;
therefore we must have shelter, fire, and food. â€˜There is
wood in the forest, and eggs in nests; we have only to find
a house.â€ :
â€œVery well,â€ returned Herbert, â€œI will look for a cave
amongst the rocks, and I shall be sure to discover some
hole into which we can creep.â€
â€œAll right,â€ said Pencroft ; â€œgo on, my boy.â€
They both walked to the foot of the enormous wall over
the beach, far from which the tide had now retreated ; but
instead of going towards the north, they went southwards.
Pencroft had remarked, several hundred feet from the place
at which they landed, a narrow cutting, out of which he
thought a river or stream might issue. Now, on the one
hand it was important to settle themselves in the neigh-
bourhood of a good stream of water, and on the other
it was possible that the current had thrown Cyrus Harding
on the shore there.
The cliff, as has been said, rose to a height of three
hundred feet, but the mass was unbroken throughout, and
even at its base, scarcely washed by the sea, it did not offer
the smallest fissure which would serve as a dwelling. It
was a perpendicular wall of very hard granite, which even
the waves had not worn away. Towards the summit
fluttered myriads of sea-fowl, and especially those of the
40 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
web-footed species, with long, flat, pointed beaksâ€”a cla-
morous tribe, bold in the presence of man, who probably
for the first time thus invaded their domains, Pencroft
recognized the skua and other gulls among them, the vora-
cious little sea-mew, which in great numbers nestled in the
crevices of the granite. A shot fired among this swarm
would have killed a great number, but to fire a shot a gun
was needed, and neither Pencroft nor Herbert had one; be-
sides this, gulls and sea-mews are scarcely eatable, and even
their eggs have a detestable taste. However, Herbert who
had gone forward a little more to the left, soon came upon
rocks covered with sea-weed, which, some hours â€˜later,
would be hidden by the high tide. On these rocks, in the
midst of slippery wrack, abounded bivalve shell-fish, not to
be despised by starving people. Herbert called Pencroft,
who ran up hastily.
â€œWhy! here are mussels?â€ cried the sailor; â€œthese
will do instead of eggs!â€
â€œThey are not mussels,â€ replied Herbert, who was atten-
tively examining the molluscs attached to the rocks;
â€œthey are lithodomes.â€ .
â€œ Are they good to eat?â€ asked Pencroft,
â€œ Perfectly so.â€
â€œThen let us eat some lithodomes.â€
The sailor could rely upon Herbert ; the young boy was
well up in natural history, and always had had quite a
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 4!
passion for the science. His father had encouraged him in
it, by letting him attend the lectures of the best professors
in Boston, who were very fond of the intelligent, industrious
lad. And this turn for natural history was, more than once
in the course of time, of great use, and he was not mistaken
in this instance. . These lithodomes were oblong shells,
suspended in clusters and adhering very tightly to the
rocks, They belong to that species of molluscous per-
forators which excavate holes in the hardest stones; their
shell is rounded at both ends, a feature which is not
remarked in the common mussel.
Pencroft and Herbert made a good meal of the litho-
domes, which were then half opened to the sun. They ate
them as oysters, and as they had a strong peppery taste,
they were palatable without condiments of any sort.
Their hunger was thus appeased for the time, but not
their thirst, which increased after eating these naturally-
spiced molluscs. They had then to nnd fresh water, and it
was not likely that it would be wanting in such a capri-
ciously uneven region. Pencroft and Herbert, after having
taken the precaution of collecting an ample supply of
lithodomes, with which they filled their pockets and hand-
kerchiefs, regained the foot of the cliff.
Two hundred paces farther they arrived at the cutting,
through which, as Pencroft had gucssed, ran a stream of
water, whether fresh or not was to be ascertained. At this
42 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
place the wall appeared to have been separated by some
violent subterranean force. At its base was hollowed out
a little creek, the farthest part of which formed a tolerably
sharp angle. The watercourse at that part measured 100
feet in breadth, and its two banks on each side were
scarcely twenty feet high. The river became strong almost
directly between the two walls of granite, which began to
sink above the mouth; it then suddenly turned and dis-
appeared beneath a wood of stunted trees half a mile off.
â€œ Here is the water, and yonder is the wood we require!â€
said Pencroft. â€œWell; Herbert, now we only want the
The water of the river was limpid. The sailor ascer-
tained that at this timeâ€”that is to say, at low tide, when
the rising floods did not reach itâ€”it was sweet. This
important point established, Herbert looked for some
cavity which would serve them as a retreat, but in vain;
everywhere the wall appeared smooth, plain, and per-
However, at the mouth of the watercourse and above the
reach of the high tide, the convulsions of nature had
formed, not a grotto, but a pile of enormous rocks, such as
are often met with in granite countries and which bear the
name of â€œ Chimneys.â€
Pencroft and Herbert penetrated quite far in amongst
the rocks, by sandy passages in which light was not
THE GRANITE CAVERN.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 43
wanting, for it entered through the openings which were
left between the blocks, of which some were only sus-
tained by a miracle of equilibrium; but with the light
came also airâ€”a regular corridor-galeâ€”and with the wind
the sharp cold from the exterior. However, the sailor
thought that by stopping-up some of the openings with a
mixture of stones and sand, the Chimneys could be
rendered habitable. Their geometrical plan represented
the typographic sign â€œ&,â€ which signifies â€œet ceteraâ€
abridged, but by isolating the upper mouth of the sign,
through which the south and west winds blew so strongly,
they could succeed in making the lower part of use.
â€œHereâ€™s our work,â€ said Pencroft, â€œand if we ever see
Captain Harding again, he will know how to make
something of this labyrinth.â€
â€œWe shall see him again, Pencroft,â€ cried Herbert, â€œand
when he returns he must find a tolerable dwelling here.
It will be so, if we can make a fireplace in the left passage
and keep an opening for the smoke.â€
â€œSo we can, my boy,â€ replied the sailor, â€œand these
Chimneys will serve our turn. Let us set to work, but first
come and get a store of fuel. I think some branches will
be very useful in stopping up these openings, through
which the wind shrieks like so many fiends.â€
Herbert and Pencroft left the Chimneys, and, turning
the angle, they began to climb the left bank of the river.
44 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The current here was quite rapid, and drifted down some
dead wood. The rising tideâ€”and it could already be
perceivedâ€”must drive it back with force to a considerable
distance. The sailor then thought that they could utilize
this ebb and flow for the transport of heavy objects.
After having walked for a quarter of an hour, the sailor
and the boy arrived at the angle which the river made in
turning towards the left. From this point its course was
pursued through a forest of magnificent trees. These trees
still retained their verdure, notwithstanding the. advanced
season, for they belonged to the family of â€œconifere,â€
which is spread over all the regions of the globe, from
northern climates to the tropics. The young naturalist
recognized especially the â€œdeodara,â€ which are very
numerous in the Himalayan zone, and which spread
around them a most agreeable odour. Between these
beautiful trees sprang up clusters of firs, whose opaque
open parasol boughs spread wide around. Among the
long grass, Pencroft felt that his feet were crushing dry
branches which crackled like fireworks.
â€œWell, my boy,â€ said he to Herbert, â€œif I donâ€™t know
the name of. these trees, at any rate I reckon that we may
call them â€˜burning wood,â€™ and just now thatâ€™s the chief
thing we want.â€
â€œLet us get a supply,â€ replied Herbert, who immediately
set to work. â€˜
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 45
The collection was easily made. It was not even neces-
sary to lop the trees, for enormous quantities of dead wood
were lying at their feet; but if fuel was not wanting, the
means of transporting it was not yet found. The wood,
being very dry, would burn rapidly; it was therefore
necessary to carry to the Chimneys a considerable quantity,
and the loads of two men would not be sufficient. Herbert
â€œWell, my boy,â€ replied the sailor, â€œthere must be some
way .of carrying this wood ; there is always a way of doing
everything. If we had a cart ora boat, it would be easy
â€œBut we have the river,â€ said Herbert.
â€œRight,â€ replied Pencroft ; â€œthe river will be to us like
a road which carries of itself, and rafts have not been
invented for nothing.â€
â€œOnly,â€ observed Herbert, â€œ at this moment our road is
going the wrong way, for the tide is rising!â€
â€œWe shall be all right if we wait till it ebbs,â€ replied
the sailor, â€œand then we will trust it to carry our fuel to
the Chimneys. Let us get the raft ready.â€
The sailor, followed by Herbert, directed his steps
towards the river. They both carried, each in proportion
to his strength, a load of wood bound in faggots. They
found on the bank also a great quantity of dead branches
in the midst of grass, among which the foot of man had
46 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
probably never before trod. Pencroft began directly to
make his raft. In a kind of little bay, created by a point
of the shore which broke the current, the sailor and the lad
placed some good-sized pieces of wood, which they had
fastened together with dry creepers. A raft was thus
formed, on which they stacked all they had collected,
sufficient, indeed, to have loaded at least twenty men. In
an hour the work was finished, and the raft, moored to the
bank, awaited the turning of the tide.
There were still several hours to be occupied, and with
one consent Pencroft and Herbert resolved to gain the
upper plateau, so as to have a more extended view of the
Exactly two hundred feet behind the angle formed by
the river, the wall, terminated by a fall of rocks, died away
in a gentle slope to the edge of the forest. It was a
natural staircase. Herbert and the sailor began their
ascent ; thanks to the vigour of their muscles they reached
the summit in a few minutcs, and proceeded to the point
above the mouth of the river.
On attaining it, their first look was cast upon the ocean
which not long before they had traversed in such a terrible
condition. They observed, with emotion, all that part to
the north of the coast on which the catastrophe had taken
place. It was there that Cyrus Harding had disappeared:
Thev looked to see if some portion of their balloon, to
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 47
which a man might possibly cling, yet existed. Nothing!
The sea was but one vast watery desert. As to the coast,
it was solitary also. Neither the reporter nor Neb could
be anywhere seen. But it was possible that at this time
they were both too far away to be perceived.
â€œ Something tells me,â€ cried Herbert, â€œthat a man as
energetic as Captain Harding would not let himself be
drowned like other people. He must have reached some
point of the shore; donâ€™t you think so, Pencroft ?â€
The sailor shook: his head sadly. He little expected
ever to see Cyrus Harding again; but wishing to leave
some hope to Herbert: â€œ Doubtless, doubtless,â€ said he;
â€œour engineer is a man who would get out of a scrape to
which any one else would yield.â€
In the meantime he examined the coast with great
attention. Stretched out below them was the sandy shore,
bounded on the right of the river's mouth by lines of
breakers. The rocks which were visible appeared like
amphibious monsters reposing in the surf. Beyond the
reef, the sea sparkled beneath the sunâ€™s rays. To the
south a sharp point closed the horizon, and it could not be
seen if the land was prolonged in that direction, or if it ran
south-east and south-west, which would have made this
coast a very long peninsula, At the northern extremity
of the bay the outline of the shore was continued to a
great distance in a wider curve. There the shore was low,
48. THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
flat, without cliffs, and with great banks of sand, which the
tide left uncovered. Pencroft and Herbert then returned
towards the west. Their attention was first arrested by
the snow-topped mountain which rose at a distance of six
or seven miles. From its first declivities to within two
miles of the coast were spread vast masses of wood,
relieved by large green patches, caused by the presence of
evergreen trees. Then, from the edge of this forest to the
shore extended a plain, scattered irregularly with groups
of trees. Here and there on the left sparkled through
glades the waters of the little river; they could trace its
winding course back towards the spurs of the mountain,
among which it seemed to spring. At the point where the
sailor had left his raft of wood, it began to run between
the two high granite walls; but if on the left bank the wall
remained clear and abrupt, on the right bank, on the
contrary, it sank gradually, the massive sides changed to
isolated rocks, the rocks to stones, the stones to shingle,
running to the extremity of the point.
â€œ Are we on an island?â€ murmured the sailor,
â€œ At any rate, it seems to be big enough,â€ replied
â€œ An island, ever so big, is an island all the same!â€ said
But this important question could not yet be answered.
A more perfect survey will be required to settle the point.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 49
As to the land itself, island or continent, it appeared
fertile, agreeable in its aspect, and varied in its pro-
â€œThis is satisfactory,â€ observed Pencroft; â€œand in our
misfortune, we must thank Providence for it.â€
â€œGod be praised!â€ responded Herbert, whose pious
heart was full of gratitude to the Author of all things.
Pencroft and Herbert examined for some time the
country on which they had been cast; but it was difficult
to guess after so hasty an inspection what the future had
in store for them.
They then returned, following the southern crest of the
granite platform, bordered by a long fringe of jagged
rocks, of the most whimsical shapes. Some hundreds of
birds lived there nestled in the holes of the stone;
Herbert, jumping over the rocks, startled a whole flock of
these winged creatures.
â€œOh!â€ cried he, â€œ those are not gulls nor sea-mews!â€
â€œWhat are they then?â€ asked Pencroft.
â€œUpon my word, one would say they were pigeons!â€
â€œJust so, but these are wild or rock pigeons. I recognize
them by the double band of black on the wing, by. the
white tail, and by their slate-coloured plumage. But if
the rock-pigeon is good to eat, its eggs must be excellent,
and we will soon see how many they may have left in
their nests !â€
50 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œWe will not give them time to hatch, unless it is in the.
shape of an omelette!â€ replied Pencroft merrily.
â€œBut what will you make your omelette in?â€ asked
Herbert ; â€œin your hat ?â€
â€œWell!â€ replied the sailor, â€œI am not quite conjuror.
enough for that; we must come down to eggs in the
shell, my boy, and I will undertake to despatch the
Pencroft and Herbert attentively examined the cavities:
in the granite, and they really found eggs in some of the
hollows. A few dozen being collected, were packed in the
sailorâ€™s handkerchief, and as the time when the tide would
be. full was approaching, Pencroft and Herbert began to
redescend towards the watercourse. When they arrived
there, it was an hour after mid-day. The tide had already
turned. They must now avail themselves of the ebb to
take the wood to the mouth. Pencroft did not intend to
let the raft go away in the current without guidance, neither
did he mean to embark on it himself to steer it. But a
sailor is never at a loss when there is a question of cables
or ropes, and Pencroft rapidly twisted a cord, a few fathoms
long, made of dry creepers. This vegetable cable was
fastened to the after-part of the raft, and the sailor held
it in his hand while Herbert, pushing off the raft with
a. long pole, kept it in the current. This succeeded capi-
tally. The enormous load of wood drifted down with the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 5!
current. The bank was very equal; there was no fear
that the raft would run aground, and before two o'clock
they arrived at the river's mouth, a few paces from the
52 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
ARRANGING THE CHIMNEYSâ€”HOW TO PROCURE FIREâ€”
A BOX OF MATCHESâ€”SEARCH ON THE SHOREâ€”
RETURN OF THE REPORTER AND NEBâ€”A SINGLE
MATCHâ€”A ROARING FIREâ€”THE FIRST SUPPER, AND
NIGHT ON SHORE.
PENCROFTâ€™S first care, after unloading the raft, was to
render the cave habitable by stopping up all the holes which
made it draughty. Sand, stones, twisted branches, wet
clay, closed up the galleries open to the south winds. One
narrow and winding opening at the side was kept, to lead
out the smoke and to make the fire draw. The cave was
thus divided into three or four rooms, if such dark dens
with which a donkey would scarcely have been contented de-
served the name. But they were dry, and there was space to
stand upright, at least in the principal room, which occupied
the centre. The floor was covered with fine sand, and taking
all in all they were well pleased with it for want of a better,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 53
â€œPerhaps,â€ said Herbert, while he and Pencroft were
working, â€œour companions have found a superior place to
â€œVery likely,â€ replied the seaman; â€œbut, as we donâ€™t
know, we must work all the same. Better to have two
strings to-oneâ€™s bow than no string at all!â€
â€œOh!â€ exclaimed Herbert, â€œhow jolly it will be if they
were to find Captain Harding and were to bring him back
â€œVes, indeed!â€ said Pencroft, â€œthat was a man of the
â€œWas!â€ exclaimed Herbert, â€œdo you despair of ever
seeing him again ?â€ .
â€œGod forbid!â€ replied the sailor. Their work was soon
done, and Pencroft declared himself very well satisfied.
â€œNow,â€ said he, â€œour friends can come back when they
like. They-will find a good enough shelter.â€
They now had only to make a fireplace and to prepare
the supperâ€”an easy task. Large flat stones were placed
on the ground at the opening of the narrow passage which
had been kept. This, if the smoke did not take the heat
out with it, would be enough to maintain an equal tem-
perature inside. Their wood was stowed away in one of
the rooms, and the sailor laid in the fireplace some logs
and brushwood. The seaman was busy with this, when
Herbert asked him if he had any matches.
54 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œCertainly,â€ replied Pencroft, â€œand I may say happily,
for without matches or tinder we should be in a fix.â€
â€œStill we might get fire as the savages do,â€ replied Her-
bert, â€œ by rubbing two bits of drystick one against the other.â€
â€œAll right ; try, my boy, and letâ€™s see if you can do any-
thing besides exercising your arms.â€ .
â€œWell, itâ€™s a very simple proceeding, and much used in
the islands of the Pacific.â€
â€œT donâ€™t deny it,â€ replied Pencroft, â€œbut the savages
must know how to do it or employ a peculiar wood, for
more than once I have tried to get fire in that way, but I
could never manage it. I must sayI prefer matches. By-
the-bye, where are my matches?â€
Pencroft searched in his waistcoat for the box, which
was always there, for he was a confirmed smoker. He
could not find it ; he rummaged the pockets of his trousers,
but, to his horror, he could nowhere discover the box.
â€œHere's a go!â€ said he, looking at Herbert. â€œThe box
must have fallen out of my pocket and got lost! Surely,
Herbert, you must have somethingâ€”a tinder-boxâ€”any-
thing that can possibly make fire !â€
â€œNo, I havenâ€™t, Pencroft.â€
The sailor rushed out, followed by the boy. On the sand,
among the rocks, near the riverâ€™s bank, they both searched
carefully, but in vain. The box was of copper, and there-
fore would have been easily seen.
DROPPED FROM THE. CLOUDS. 55
â€œ Pencroft,â€ asked Herbert, â€œdidnâ€™t you throw it out of
â€œT knew better than that,â€ replied the sailor; â€œ but such
a small article could easily disappear in the tumbling about
we have gone through. I would rather even have lost my
pipe! Confound the box! Where can it be?â€
â€œLook here, the tide is going down,â€ said Herbert;
â€œletâ€™s run to the place where we landed.â€
' It was scarcely probable that they would find the box,
which the waves had rolled about among the pebbles, at
high tide, but it was as well to try. Herbert and Pencroft
walked rapidly to the point where they had landed the
day before, about two hundred feet from the cave. They
hunted there, amongst the shingle, in the clefts of the
rocks, but found nothing. If the box had fallen at this
place it must have been swept away by the waves. As the
sea went down, they searched every little crevice with no
result. It was a grave loss in their circumstances, and for
the time irreparable. Pencroft could not hide his vexation ;
he looked very anxious, but said not a word. Herbert
tried to console him by observing, that if they had found
the matches, they would, very likely, have been wetted by
the sea and useless.
â€œNo, my boy,â€ replied the sailor; â€œthey were in a
copper box which shut very tightly ; and now what are we
56 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œWe shall certainly find some way of making a fire,â€ said
Herbert. â€œCaptain Harding or Mr. Spilett will not be
â€œYes,â€ replied Pencroft ; â€œbut in the meantime we are
without fire, and our npn will find but a sorry repast
on their return.â€ â€”
â€œ But,â€ said Herbert quickly, â€œdo you think it possible
that they have no tinder or matches ?â€
â€œT doubt it,â€ replied the sailor, shaking his head, â€œ for
neither Neb nor Captain Harding smoke, and I believe that
Mr. Spilett would rather keep his note-book than his
Herbert did not reply. The loss of the box was seis
to be regretted, but the boy was still sure of procuring fire
in some way or other. Pencroft, more experienced, did
not think so, although he was not a man to trouble himself
about a small or great grievance. At any rate, there was
only one thing to be doneâ€”to await the return of Neb and
the reporter; but they must give up the feast of hard eggs
which they had meant to prepare, and a meal of raw flesh
was not an agreeable prospect either for themselves or for
Before returning to the cave, the sailor and Herbert, in
the event of fire being positively unattainable, collected
some more shell-fish, and then silently retraced their steps
to their dwelling.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 57
Pencroft, his eyes fixed on the ground, still looked for
his box. He even climbed up the left bank of the river
from its mouth to the angle where the raft had been moored,
He returned-to the plateau, went over it in every direction,
searched amongst the high grass on the border of the forest,
all in vain.
It was five in the evening when he and Herbert re-entered
the cave. It is useless to say that the darkest corners of
the passages were ransacked before they were obliged to
give it up in despair. Towards six o'clock, when the sun
was. disappearing behind the high lands of the west, Her-
bert, who was walking up and down on the strand, signalized
the return of Neb and Spilett.
They were returning alone! ... The boyâ€™s heart sank ;
the sailor had not been deceived in his forebodings ; the
engineer, Cyrus Harding, had not been found!
The reporter, on his: arrival, sat down on a rock, without
saying anything. Exhausted with fatigue, dying of oe
he had not strength to utter a word.
As to Neb, his red eyes showed how he had cried, and
the tears which he could not restrain told too clearly that
he had lost all hope.
The reporter recounted all that they had done in their
attempt to recover Cyrus Harding. He and Neb had
surveyed the coast for a distance of eight miles, and con-
sequently much beyond the place where the balloon had
58 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
fallen the last time but one, a fall which was followed by
the disappearance of the engineer and the dog Top. The
shore was solitary ; not a vestige of a mark. Not even a
pebble recently displaced ; not a trace on the sand; nota
human footstep on all that part of the beach. It was clear
that that portion of the shore had never been visited by a
human being. The sea was as. deserted as the land, and
it was there, a few hundred feet from the coast, that the
engineer must have found a tomb.
As Spilett ended his account, Neb jumped up, exclaim-
ing in a voice which showed how hope struggled within
him, â€œNo! he is not dead! he canâ€™t be dead! It might
happen to any one else, but never to him! He could
get out of anything!â€ Then his strength forsaking him,
â€œOh! T can do no more!â€ he murmured. ;
â€œNeb,â€ said Herbert, running to him, â€œwe will find him!
God will give him back to us! But in the meantime you
are hungry, and you must eat something.â€
So saying, he offered the poor negro a few handfuls of
shell-fish, which was indeed wretched and insufficient food.
Neb. had not eaten anything for several hours, but he
refused them. He could not, would not live without his
As to Gideon Spilett, he devoured the shell-fish, then he
laid himself down on the sand, at the foot of arock. He was
very weak, but calm. Herbert went up to him, and taking
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 59
his hand, â€œSir,â€ said he, â€œwe have found a shelter which
will be better than lying here. Night is advancing. Come
and rest! To-morrow we will search farther.â€
The reporter got up, and guided by the boy went
towards the cave. On the way, Pencroft asked him in the
most natural tone, if by chance he happened to have a
match or two.
The reporter stopped, felt in his pockets, but finding
nothing said, â€œI had some, but I must have thrown them
The seaman then put the same question to Neb and
received the same. answer.
â€œ Confound it !â€ exclaimed the sailor.
The reporter heard him and seizing his arm, â€œ Have you
no matches ?â€ he asked.
â€œNot one, and no fire in consequence ?â€
â€œAh!â€ cried Neb, â€œif my master was here, he would
know what to do!â€
The four castaways remained motionless, looking uneasily
at each other. Herbert was the first to break the silence
by saying, â€œ Mr. Spilett, you are a smoker and always have
matches about you; perhaps you havenâ€™t looked well, try
again, a single match will be enough!â€
The reporter hunted again in the pockets of his trousers;
waistcoat, and great-coat, and at last to Pencroftâ€™s great joy,
not less to his extreme surprise, he felt a tiny piece of wood
60 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
entangled in the lining of his waistcoat. . He seized it with
his fingers through the stuff, but he could not get it out.
If this was a match and a single one, it was of great import-
ance not to rub off the phosphorus.
â€œWill you let me try?â€ said the boy, and very cleverly,
without breaking it, he managed to draw out the wretched
yet precious little bit of wood which was of such great
importance to these poor men. It was unused.
â€œHurrah!â€ cried Pencroft; â€œit is as good as having a
whole cargo!â€ He took the match, and, followed by his
companions, entered the cave.
This small piece of wood, of which so many in an
inhabited country are wasted with indifference and are of
no value, must here be used with the greatest caution.
The sailor first made sure that it was quite dry; that
done, â€œ We must have some paper,â€ said he.
â€œHere,â€ replied Spilett, after some hesitation tearing a
leaf out of his note-book.
Pencroft took the piece of paper which the reporter held
out to him, and knelt down before the fireplace. Some
handfuls of grass, leaves, and dry moss were placed under
the faggots and disposed in such a way that the air could
easily circulate, and the dry wood would rapidly catch fire.
Pencroft then twisted the piece of paper into the shape
of a cone, as smokers do in a high wind, and poked it in
amongst the moss. Taking a small, rough stone, he wiped
A CHEERFUL FLAME SPRANG UP.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 61
it carefully, and with a beating heart, holding his breath, he
gently rubbed the match. The first attempt did not
produce any effect. Pencroft had not struck hard enough,
fearing to rub off the phosphorus.
- â€œNo, I canâ€™t do it,â€ said he, â€œ my hand trembles, the
match has missed fire; I cannot, I will not!â€ and rising, he
told Herbert to take his place.
Certainly the boy had never in all his life been so
nervous. Prometheus going to steal the fire from heaven
could not have been more anxious. He did not hesitate,
however, but struck the match directly.
A little spluttering was heard and a tiny blue flame
sprang up, making a. choking smoke. Herbert quietly
turned the match so as to. augment the flame, and then
slipped it into the paper cone, which in a few seconds too
caught fire, and then the moss.
A minute later the dry wood crackled and a cheerful
flame, assisted by the vigorous blowing of the sailor, sprang
up in the midst of the darkness..
â€œAt last!â€ cried Pencroft, getting up; â€œIwas never so
nervous before in all my life!â€
The flat stones made a capital fireplace. The smoke
went quite easily out at the narrow passage, the chimney
drew, and an agreeable warmth was not long in being felt.
They must now take great care not to let the fire go out,
and always to keep some embers alight. It only needed
62 â€™ THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
care and attention, as they had plenty of wood and could
renew their store at any time.
Pencroftâ€™s first thought was to use the fire by preparing
amore nourishing supper than a dish of shell-fish. Two
dozen eggs were brought by Herbert. The reporter lean-
ing up in a corner, watched these preparations without
saying anything. A threefold thought weighed on his
mind. Was Cyrus still alive?. If he was alive, where was
he? If he had survived from â€˜his fall, how was it that he
had not found some means of making known his existence?
As to Neb, he was roaming about the shore. He was like
a body without a soul.
Pencroft knew fifty ways of cooking eggs, but this time
he had no choice, and was obliged to content himself with
roasting them under the hot cinders. In a few minutes the
cooking was done, and the seaman invited the reporter to
take his share of the supper. Such was the first repast of
the castaways on this unknown coast. The hafd eggs
were excellent, and as eggs contain everything indis-
pensable to manâ€™s nourishment, these poor people thought
themselves well off, and were much strengthened by them.
Oh! if only one of them had not been missing at this
meal! If the five prisoners who escaped from Richmond
had been all there, under the piled-up rocks, before this
clear, crackling fire on the dry sand, what thanksgivings
must they have rendered to Heaven! But the most
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 63
ingenious, the most learned, he who was their unquestioned
chief, Cyrus Harding was, alas! missing, and his body had
not even obtained a burial-place.
Thus passed the 25th of March. Night had come on.
Outside could be heard the howling of the wind and the
monotonous sound of the surf breaking on the shore. The
waves rolled the shingle backwards and forwards with a
deafening noise. /
The reporter retired into a dark corner after having
shortly noted down the occurrences of the day; the first
appearance of this new land, the loss of their leader, the
exploration of the coast, the incident of the matches, &c.;
and then overcome by fatigue, he managed to forget his
sorrow in sleep. Herbert went to sleep directly. As to
the sailor, he passed the night with one eye on the fire, on
which he did not spare fuel. But one of the castaways did
not sleep in the cave. The inconsolable, despairing Neb,
notwithstanding all that his companions could suy to
induce him to take some rest, wandered all night long on
the shore, calling on his master.
64 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
THE INVENTORY OF THE CASTAWAYSâ€”NOTHINGâ€”BURNT
LINENâ€”AN. EXPEDITION TO THE FORESTâ€”-FLIGHT
OF THE JACAMARâ€”TRACES OF DEERâ€”COUROUCOUS
â€”GROUSEâ€”A CURIOUS FISHING-LINE.
THE inventory of the articles possessed by these castaways
from the clouds, thrown upon a coast which appeared to
be uninhabited, was soon made out. They had nothing,
save the clothes which they were wearing at the time of
the catastrophe. We must mention, however, a note-book
and a watch which Gideon Spilett had kept, doubtless by
inadvertence, not a weapon, not a tool, not even:a pocket-
knife ; for while in the car they had thrown out everything
to lighten the balloon. The imaginary heroes of Daniel
De Foe or of Wyss, as well as Selkirk and Raynal ship-
wrecked on Juan Fernandez and on the archipelago of the
Aucklands, were never in such absolute destitution. Either
they had abundant resources from their stranded vessels, in
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 65
grain, cattle, tools, ammunition, or else some things were
thrown up on the coast which supplied them with all the
first necessities of life. But here, not any instrument what-
ever, not a utensil. From nothing they must supply them-
selves with everything.
And yet, if Cyrus Harding had been with them, if the
engineer could have brought his practical science, his
inventive mind to bear on their situation, perhaps all hope
would not have been lost. Alas!â€˜ they must hope no
longer again to see Cyrus Harding. The castaways could
expect nothing but from themselves and from that Pro-
vidence which never abandons those whose faith is sincere.
But ought they to establish themselves on this part of
the coast, without trying to know to what continent it
belonged, if it was inhabited, or if they were on the shore
of a desert island ?
It was an important question, and should be solved with
the shortest possible delay. From its answer they would
know what measures to take. However, according. to
Pencroftâ€™s advice, it appeared best to wait a few days
before commencing an exploration. They must, in fact,
prepare some provisions and procure more strengthening
food than eggs and molluscs. The explorers, before
undertaking new fatigues, must first of all recruit their
The Chimneys offered a retreat sufficient for the present.
66 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The fire was lighted, and it was easy to preserve some
embers. There were plenty of shell-fish and eggs amongst
the rocks. and on the beach. It would be easy to kill a
few of the pigeons which were flying by hundreds about
the summit of the plateau, either with sticks or stones.
Perhaps the trees of the neighbouring forest would supply
them with eatable fruit. Lastly, the sweet water was
It was accordingly settled that for a few days they
would remain at the Chimneys so as to prepare themselves
for an expedition, either along the shore or into the
interior of the country. This plan suited Neb particularly.
As obstinate in his ideas as in his presentiments, he was in
no haste to abandon this part of the coast, the scene of the
catastrophe. He did not, he would not believe in the loss
of Cyrus Harding. No, it did not seem to him possible
that such a man had ended in this vulgar fashion, carried
away by a wave, drowned in the floods, a few hundred
feet from a shore. As long as the waves had not cast up
the body of the engineer, as long as he, Neb, had not seen
with his eyes, touched with his hands the corpse of his
master, he would not believe in his death! And this idea
rooted itself deeper than ever in his determined heart. An
illusion perhaps, but still an illusion to be respected, and
one which the sailor did not wish to destroy. As for him,
he hoped no longer, but there was no use in arguing with
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 67
Neb. He was like the dog who will not leave the place
where his master is buried, and his grief was such that
most probably he would not survive him.
This same morning, the 26th of March, at daybreak,
Neb had set out on the shore in a northerly direction, and
he had returned to the spot where the sea, no doubt, had
closed over the unfortunate Harding.
That dayâ€™s breakfast was composed solely of pigeonâ€™s
eggs and lithodomes. Herbert had found some salt de-
posited by evaporation in the hollows of the rocks, and
this mineral was very welcome.
The repast ended, Pencroft asked the reporter if he
wished to accompany Herbert and himself to the forest,
where they were going to try to hunt. But on considera-
tion, it was thought necessary that some one should
remain to keep in the fire, and to be at hand in the highly
improbable event of Neb requiring aid. The reporter
accordingly remained behind. |
â€œTo the chase, Herbert,â€ said the sailor. â€œWe shall
find ammunition on our way, and cut our weapons in the
forest.â€ But at the moment of starting, Herbert observed,
that since they had no tinder, it would perhaps be prudent
to replace it by another substance.
â€œWhat?â€ asked Pencroft.
â€œBurnt linen,â€ replied the boy. â€œThat could in case of
need serve for tinder.â€
68 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The sailor thought it very sensible advice. Only it had
the inconvenience of necessitating the sacrifice of a piece
of handkerchief. Notwithstanding, the thing was well worth
while trying, and a part of Pencroftâ€™s large checked hand-
kerchief was soon reduced to the state of a half-burnt
rag. This inflammable material was placed in the central
chamber at the bottom of a little cavity in the rock,
sheltered from all wind and damp.
It was nine oâ€™clock in the morning. The weather was
threatening and-the breeze blew. from the south-east.
Herbert and Pencroft turned the angle of the Chimneys,
not without having cast a look at the smoke which, just. at
that place, curled round a point of rock: they ascended
the left bank of. the river.
Arrived at the forest, Pencroft broke from the first tree
two stout branches which he transformed into clubs, the
ends of which Herbert rubbed smooth on a rock. Oh!
what would they not have given for a knife!
The two hunters now advanced among the long grass,
following the bank. From the turning which directed its
course to the south-west, the river narrowed gradually and
the channel lay between high banks, over which the trees
formed a double arch. _ Pencroft, lest they should lose
themselves, resolved to follow the course of the stream,
which would always lead them back to the point from
which they started. But the bank was not without some
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 6y
obstacles: here, the flexible branches of the trees bent
level with the current ; there, creepers and thorns which
they had to break down. with their sticks. Herbert often
glided among the broken stumps with the agility of a
young cat, and disappeared in the underwood. But
Pencroft called him back directly, begging him not to
wander away. Meanwhile, the sailor attentively observed
the disposition and nature of the surrounding country.
On the left bank, the. ground, which was flat and marshy,
rose imperceptibly towards the interior. It looked there
like a network of liquid threads which doubtless reached
the river by some underground drain. Sometimes a
stream ran through the underwood, which they crossed
without difficulty. The opposite shore appeared to be
more uneven, and the valley of which the river occupied
the bottom, was more clearly visible. The hill, covered
with trees disposed in terraces, intercepted the view. On
the right bank walking would have been difficult, for the
declivities fell suddenly, and the trees bending over the
water were only sustained by the strength of their roots.
It is needless to add that this forest, as well as the coast
already surveyed, was destitute of any sign of human life.
Pencroft only saw traces of quadrupeds, fresh footprints of
animals, of which he could not recognize the species. In
all probability, and such was also Herbertâ€™s opinion, some
had been leftâ€™ by formidable wild beasts which doubtless
7O THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
would give them some trouble; but nowhere did they
observe the mark of an axe on the trees, nor the ashes of
a fire, nor the impression of a human foot. On this they
might probably congratulate themselves, for on any land
in the middle of the Pacific the presence of man was
perhaps more to be feared than desired. Herbert and
Pencroft speaking little, forthe difficulties of the way were
great, advanced very slowly, and after walking for an hour
they had scarcely gone more than a mile. As yet the
hunt had not been successful. However, some birds sang
and fluttered in the foliage, and appeared very timid, as if
man had inspired them with an instinctive fear. Amongst
others, Herbert descried, in a marshy part of the forest, a
bird with a long pointed beak, closely resembling the king-
fisher, but its plumage was not fine, though of a metallic
â€œThat must be a jacamar,â€ said Herbert, trying to get
â€œThis will be a good opportunity to taste jacamar,â€
replied the sailor, â€œif that fellow is in a humour to be
Just then, a stone cleverly thrown by the boy, struck the
creature on the wing, but the blow did not disable it, and
the jacamar ran off and disappeared in an instant.
â€œ How clumsy I am!â€ cried Herbert.
â€œNo, no, my boy!â€ replied the sailor. â€œThe blow was
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 71
well aimed; many a one would have missed it altogether !
Come, donâ€™t be vexed with yourself. We shall catch it
another day !â€
As the hunters advanced, the trees were found to be more
scattered, many being magnificent, but none bore eatable
fruit. Pencroft searched in vain for some of those precious
palm-trees-which are employed in so many ways in domestic
life, and which have been found as far as:the fortieth
parallel in the northern hemisphere, and to the thirty-fifth
only in the southern hemisphere. But this forest was only
composed of coniferz, such as. deodaras, already recognized
by Herbert, the Douglas pine, similar to those which grow
on the north-west coast of America, and. splendid firs,
measuring a hundred and fifty feet in height.
At this moment a flock of birds, of a small size and
pretty plumage, with long glancing tails, dispersed them-
selves among the branches strewing their feathers, which
covered the ground as with fine down. Herbert picked
up a few of these feathers, and after having examined
â€œThese are couroucous,â€ said he..
â€œI should prefer a moor-cock or guinea-fowl,â€ replied
Pencroft, â€œ still, if they are good to eatâ€”â€
â€œThey are good to eat, and also their flesh is very
delicate,â€ replied Herbert. â€œBesides, if I donâ€™t mistake, it
is easy to approach and kill them with a stick.â€
72 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The sailor and the lad, creeping amongst the grass,
arrived at the foot of a tree, whose lower branches were
covered with little birds. The couroucous were waiting
the passage of insects which served for their nourishment.
Their feathery feet. could be seen clasping the slender
twigs which supported them,
The hunters then rose, and using their sticks . like
scythes, they mowed down whole rows of these courou-
cous, who never thought of flying away, and stupidly
allowed themselves to be knocked off. A hundred were
already heaped on the ground, before the others made up
their minds to fly.
â€œWell,â€ said Pencroft, â€œhere is game, which is quite
within the reach of hunters like us. We have only to put
out our hands and take it !â€
The sailor having strung the couroucous like larks on
flexible twigs, they then continued their exploration.
The stream here made a bend towards the south, but
this dÃ©our was.probably not prolonged, for the river must
have its source in the mountain, and be supplied by the
melting of the snow which covered the sides of the
central,cone. , ;
The particular object of their expedition was, as has
been said, to procure the greatest possible quantity of
game for the inhabitants of the Chimneys. It must be
acknowledged that as yet this object had not been
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 73
attained. So the sailor actively pursued his researches,
though he exclaimed, when some animal which he had not
even time to recognize fled into the long grass, â€œIf only
we had had the dog Top!â€ But Top had disappeared at
the same time as his master, and had probably perished
Towards three oâ€™clock new flocks of birds were seen
through certain trees, at whose aromatic berries they were
pecking, those of the juniper-tree among others. Suddenly
a loud trumpet call resounded through the forest. This
strange and sonorous call was produced by the ruffed
grouse or the â€œtÃ©tra,â€ of the United States. They soon
saw. several couples, whose plumage was rich chestnut-
brown mottled with dark brown, and tail of the same
colour. Herbert recognized the males by the two wing-
like appendages raised on the neck. Pencroft determined
to get hold of at least one of these gallinaceze, which were
as large as a fowl, and whose flesh is better than that of
a pullet. But it was difficult, for they would not allow
themselves to be approached. After several fruitless
attempts, which resulted in nothing but scaring the tÃ©tras,
the sailor said to the lad,â€”
â€œDecidedly, since we canâ€™t kill them on the wing, we
must try to take.them with a line.â€
â€œLike a fish?â€ cried Herbert, much surprised at the
74 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œLike a fish,â€ replied the sailor quite seriously. Pen-
croft had found amongst the grass half a dozen tÃ©trasâ€™
nests, each having three or four eggs. He took great care
not to touch these nests, to which their proprietors would
not fail to return. It was around these that he meant to
stretch his lines, not snares, but real fishing-lines. He took
Herbert to some distance from the nests, and there pre-
pared his singular apparatus with all the care which a
disciple of Izaak Walton would have used. Herbert
watched the work with great interest, though rather doubt-
ing its success. The lines were made of fine creepers,
fastened one to the other, of the length of fifteen or twenty
feet. Thick, strong thorns, the points bent back, which
were supplied from a dwarf acacia bush, were fastened to
the ends of the creepers, by way of hooks. Large red
worms, which were crawling on the ground, furnished bait.
This done, Pencroft, passing amongst the grass and
concealing himself skilfully, placed the end of his lines
armed with hooks near the tÃ©trasâ€™ nests; then he returned,
took the other ends and hid with Herbert behind a large
tree. There they both waited patiently; though, it must
be said, that Herbert did not reckon much on the success
of the inventive Pencroft.
A whole half-hour passed, but then, as the sailor had
surmised, several couple of tÃ©tras returned to their nests.
They walked along, pecking the ground, and not suspect-
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 75
ing inany way the presence of the hunters, who, besides,
had taken care to place themselves to leeward of the
The lad felt at this moment highly interested. He held
his breath, and Pencroft, his eyes staring, his mouth open,
his lips advanced, as if about to taste a piece of tÃ©tra,
Meanwhile, the birds walked about among the hooks,
without taking any notice of. them. Pencroft then gave
little tugs which moved the bait as if the worms had been
The sailor undoubtedly felt much greater anxiety than
does the fisherman, for he does not see his prey coming
through the water. The jerks attracted the attention of
the gallinacez, and they attacked the hooks with their
beaks. Three voracious tÃ©tras swallowed at the same
moment bait and hook. Suddenly with a smart jerk, Pen-
croft â€œstruckâ€ his line, and a flapping of wings showed
that the birds were taken.
â€œHurrah!â€ he cried, rushing towards the game, of
which he made himself master in an instant.
Herbert clapped his hands. It was the first time that
he had ever seen birds taken with a line, but the sailor
modestly confessed that it was not his first attempt, and
that besides-he could not claim the merit of inven
76 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œ And at any rate,â€ added he, â€œsituated as we are, we
must hope to hit upon many other contrivances.â€
The tÃ©tras were fastened by their claws, and Pencroft,
delighted at not having to appear before their companions
with empty hands, and observing that the day had begun
to decline, judged it best to return to their dwelling.
The direction was indicated by the river, whose course
they had â€˜only to follow, and, towards six o'clock, tired
enough with their excursion, Herbert and Pencroft arrived
at the Chimneys
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 77
NEB HAS NOT YET RETURNEDâ€”THE REPORTER'S RE-
FLECTIONS â€”SUPPERâ€”A THREATENIN G NIGHTâ€”THE
TEMPEST IS FRIGHTFULâ€”THEY RUSH OUT INTO
THE NIGHTâ€”STRUGGLE AGAINST THE WIND AND
RAINâ€”EIGHT MILES FROM THE. FIRST ENCAMPMENT.
GIDEON SPILETT was standing motionless on the shore,
his arms crossed, gazing over the sea, the horizon of which
was lost towards the east ina thick black cloud which was
spreading rapidly towards the zenith. - â€˜The wind was
already strong, and increased-with the decline of day.
The whole sky was of a threatening aspect, and the first
symptoms of a violent storm were clearly visible.
Herbert entered the Chimneys, and Pencroft went
towards the reporter. The latter, deeply absorbed, did not
see him approach.
â€œWe are going to have a dirty.night, Mr. Spilett!â€ said
the sailor : â€œ Petrels delight in wind and rain.â€
78 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
The reporter, turning at the moment, saw Pencroft, and
his first words were,â€”= .
â€œAt what distance from the coast would you say the
car was, when the waves carried off our companion ?â€
The sailor had not expected this question. He reflected
an instant and replied,â€”
â€œ Two cablesâ€™ lengths at the most.â€
â€œBut what is a cableâ€™s length?â€ asked Gideon Spilett.
â€œ About a hundred and twenty fathoms, or 600 feet.â€
â€œThen,â€ said the reporter, â€œCyrus Harding must have
disappeared twelve hundred feet at the most from the
â€œ About that,â€ replied Pencroft.
â€œ And his dog also ?â€
â€œWhat astonishes me,â€ rejoined the reporter, â€œwhile
admitting that our companion has perished, is that Top
has also met his death, and that neither the body of the
dog nor of his master has been cast on the shore!â€
â€œIt is not astonishing, with such a heavy sea,â€ replied
the sailor. â€œBesides, it is possible that currents have
carried them farther down the coast.â€
â€œThen, it is your opinion that our friend has perished in
the waves?â€ again asked the reporter.
â€œThat is my opinion.â€ .
â€œMy own opinion,â€ said Gideon Spilett, â€œwith due
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 79
deference to your experience, Pencroft, is that in the
double fact of the absolute disappearance of Cyrus and
Top, living or dead, there is something unaccountable and
. â€œI wish I could think like you, Mr. Spilett,â€ replied Pen-
croft; â€œunhappily, my mind is made up on this point.â€
Having said this, the sailor returned to the Chimneys. A
good fire crackled on the hearth. Herbert had just thrown
on an armful of dry wood, and the flame cast a bright
light into the darkest parts of the passage.
Pencroft immediately began to prepare the dinner. It
appeared best to introduce something solid into the bill of
fare, for all needed to get up their strength. The strings
of couroucous were kept for the next day, but they plucked
a couple of tÃ©tras, which were soon spitted on a stick, and
roasting before a blazing fire.
. At seven in. the evening Neb had not returned. The
prolonged absence of the negro made Pencroft very uneasy.
It was to be feared that. he had met with an accident on
this unknown land, or that the unhappy fellow had been
driven to. some act of despair. But Herbert. drew very
different conclusions from this absence. According to him,
Nebâ€™s delay was caused by some new circumstance which
had induced him to prolong his search. . Also, everything
new must be to the advantage of Cyrus Harding. Why
had Neb not. returned unless hope still detained him?
80. - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Perhaps he had found some mark, a footstep, a trace which
had put him in the right path. Perhaps he was at this
moment on a certain track. Perhaps even he was near his
Thus the lad reasoned. Thus he spoke. His com-
panions let him talk. The reporter alone approved with a
gesture. But what Pencroft thought most probable was,
that Neb had pushed his researches on the shore farther
than the day before, and that he had not as yet had time
Herbert, however, agitated by vague presentiments,
several times manifested an intention to go to meet Neb,
But Pencroft assured him that that would be a useless
course, that in the darkness and deplorable weather he
could not find any traces of Neb, and that it would be
much better to wait. If Neb had not made his appearance
by the next day, Pencroft would not hesitate to join him in
Gideon Spilett approved of the sailorâ€™s opinion that it
was best not to divide, and Herbert was obliged to give up
his project ; but two large tears fell from his eyes.
The reporter could not refrain from embracing the
Bad weather now set in. A furious gale from the
south-east passed over the coast. The sea roared as it
beat over the reef. Heavy rain was dashed by the storm
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 81
into particles like dust. Ragged masses of vapour drove
along the beach, on which the tormented shingles sounded
as if poured out in cart-loads, while the sand raised by the
wind added as it were mineral dust to that which was
liquid, and rendered the united attack insupportable.
Between the riverâ€™s mouth and the end of the cliff, eddies
of wind whirled and gusts from this maÃ©lstrom lashed the
water which ran through the narrow valley. The smoke
from the fireplace was also driven back through the
opening, filling the passages and rendering them unin-
Therefore, as the tÃ©tras were cooked, Pencroft let the
fire die away, and only preserved a few embers buried
under the ashes.
At eight oâ€™clock Neb had not appeared, but there was no
doubt that the frightful weather alone hindered his return,
and that he must have taken refuge in some cave, to await
the end of the storm or at least the return of day. As to
going to meet him, or attempting to find him, it was
The game constituted the only dish at supper ; the meat
was excellent, and Pencroft and Herbert, whose long
excursion had rendered them very hungry, devoured it
with infinite satisfaction.
Their meal concluded, each retired to the corner in
which he had rested the preceding night, and Herbert was
82 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
not long in going to sleÃ©p near the sailor, who had stretched
himself beside the fireplace.
Outside, as the night advanced, the tempest also in-
creased in strength, until it was equal to that which had
carried the prisoners from Richmond to this land in the
Pacific. The tempests which are frequent during the
seasons of the equinox, and which are so prolific in catas-
trophes, are above all terrible over this immense ocean,
which opposes no obstacle to their fury. No description
can give an idea of the terrific violence of the gale as it
beat upon the unprotected coast.
Happily the pile of rocks which formed the Chimneys
was solid. It was composed of enormous blocks of granite,
a few of which, insecurely balanced, seemed to tremble on
their foundations, and Pencroft could feel rapid quiverings
under his head as it rested on the rock. But he repeated
to himself, and rightly, that there was nothing to fear, and
that their retreat would not give way. However he heard
the noise of stones torn from the summit of the plateau by
the wind, falling down on to the beach. A few even rolled
on to the upper: part of the Chimneys, or flew off in frag-
ments when they were projected perpendicularly. Twice
the sailor rose and intrenched himself at the opening of the
passage, so as to take a look in safety at the outside.. But
there was nothing to be feared from these showers, which
were not considerable, and he returned to his couch before
WATCHING THE STORM.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 83
the fireplace, where the embers glowed beneath the
Notwithstanding the fury of the hurricane, the uproar of
the tempest, the thunder, and the tumult, Herbert slept
profoundly. Sleep at last took possession of Pencroft,
whom a seafaring life had habituated to anything. Gideon
Spilett alone was kept awake by anxiety. He reproached
himself with not having accompanied Neb. It was evident
that he had not abandoned all hope.. The presentiments
which had troubled Herbert did not cease to agitate him
also. His thoughts were concentrated on Neb. Why had
Neb not returned? He tossed about on his sandy couch,
scarcely giving a thought to the struggle of the elements.
Now and then, his eyes, heavy with fatigue, closed for an
instant, but some sudden thought reopened them almost
Meanwhile the night advanced, and it was perhaps two
hours from: morning, when Pencroft, then sound asleep, was
â€œWhatâ€™s: the matter?â€ he cried, rousing himself, and
collecting his ideas with the promptitude usual to seamen.
The reporter was leaning over him, and saying,â€”
â€œListen, Pencroft, listen!â€
The sailor strained his ears, but could hear no noise
beyond those caused by the storm,
â€œ Tt is the wind,â€ said -he.
84 - THE: MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œNo,â€ replied Gideon Spilett, listening again, â€œI thought
â€œThe barking of a.-dog!â€
â€œ A dog!â€ cried Pencroft, springing up.
_ â€œTtâ€™s not possible!â€ replied the sailor. â€œAnd besides,
how, in the roaring of the stormâ€”â€
- â€œ Stopâ€”listenâ€”â€ said the reporter.
Pencroft listened more attentively, and really thought he
heard, during a lull, distant barking.
â€œWell!â€ said the reporter, pressing the sailorâ€™s and,
. â€œYesâ€”yes!â€ replied Pencroft.
â€œIt is Top! It is Top!â€ cried Herbert, who had just
awoke; and all three rushed towards the opening of the
Chimneys. They had great difficulty in getting out. The
wind drove them back, - But at last they succeeded, and
could only remain standing by leaning against.the rocks,
They looked about, but could not speak. The darkness
was intense, The sea, the sky, the land were all mingled
in one black mass, Not a speck of light was visible.
The -reporter and his companions remained thus fora
few minutes, overwhelmed by the wind, drenched by the
rain, blinded by the sand.
Then, in a pause of the tumult, they again heard the
barking, which they found must be at some distance.
IT MUST BE TOP.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 85
It could only be Top! But was he alone or accom-
panied? He was most probably alone, for, if Neb had
been with him, he would have made his way more directly
towards the Chimneys. ' The sailor squeezed the reporterâ€™s
hand, for he could not make himself heard, in a way which
signified â€œ Wait!â€ then he re-entered the passage.
An instant after he issued with a lighted fagot, which he
threw into the darkness, whistling shrilly.
It appeared as if this signal had been waited for; the
barking immediately came nearer, and soon a dog bounded
into the passage. Pencroft, Herbert, and Spilett, entered
after him. :
An armful of dry wood was thrown on the embers. ane
passage was lighted up with a bright flame.
â€œIt is Top!â€ cried Herbert.
It was indeed Top, a magnificent Anglo-Norman, who
dsrived from these two races crossed the swiftness of foot
and the acuteness of smell which are the pre-eminent
qualities of coursing dogs. It was the dog of the engineer
Cyrus Harding. But he wasalone! Neither Neb nor his
master accompanied him!
How was it that his instinct had guided | him straight to
the Chimneys, which he did not know? It appeared inex-
plicable, above all, in the midst of this black night and in
such a tempest! But what was still more inexplicable was,
that Top was neither tired, nor exhausted, nor even soiled
86 THE MYSTERIOUS. ISLAND.
with mud or sand !â€”Herbert had drawn him towards him,
and was patting his head, the dog rubbing his neck against
the ladâ€™s hands. ,
â€œIf the dog is found, the master will be found also?â€ said
â€œGod grant it!â€ responded Herbert. â€œ Let us set off!
Top will guide us!â€
Pencroft did not make any objection. â€˜He felt that Topâ€™s
arrival contradicted his conjectures. â€˜Come along then!â€
said he. :
. .Pencroft carefully covered the embers onthe hearth. He
placed a few pieces of wood amongst them, so as to keep
in the fire until their return. Then, preceded by the dog,
who seemed to invite them by short barks to come with
him, and followed by the reporter and the boy, he dashed
out, after having put up in his handkerchief the remains of
the supper. ; ;
The storm was then in all its violence, and perhaps at its
height. Not a single ray of light from the moon pierced
through the clouds. To follow a straight course was diffi=
cult. It was best to rely on Topâ€™s instinct. They did so,
The reporter and Herbert walked behind the dog, and
the sailor brought up the rear. â€˜It was impossible to
exchange a word. The rain was not very heavy, but the
sind was terrific,
-. However, one circumstance favoured the seaman and
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 87
his two companions, The wind being south-east, con-
sequently blew on their backs. The clouds of sand, which
otherwise would have been insupportable, from being
received behind, did not in consequence impede their
progress. In short, they sometimes went faster than they
liked, and had some difficulty in keeping their feet; but
hope gave them strength, for it was not at random that
they made their way along the shore. They had no doubt
that Neb had found his master, and that he had sent them
the faithful dog. But was the engineer living, or had Neb
only sent for his companions that they might render the
last duties to the corpse of the unfortunate Harding ?
After having passed the precipice, Herbert, the reporter,
and Pencroft prudently stepped aside to stop and take
breath. The turn of the rocks sheltered them from the
wind, and they could breathe after this walk or rather run
of a quarter of an hour.
. They could now hear and reply to each other, and the
lad having pronounced the name of Cyrus Harding, Top
gave a few short barks, as much as to say that his master
â€œ Saved, isnâ€™t he?â€ repeated Herbert ; â€œsaved, Top?â€
And the dog barked in reply.
.They once more set out. The tide began to rise, and
urged by the wind it threatened to be unusually high, as it
was a spring tide. Great billows thundered against the
88 ! THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. â€˜
reef with such violence that they probably passed entirely
over the islet, then quite invisible. The mole no longer pro-
tected the coast, which was directly exposed to the attacks
of the open sea.
As soon.as the sailor and his: companions â€˜left the pre-
cipice, the wind struck themâ€™ again with renewed fury:
Though bent under â€˜the gale they walked veryâ€™ quickly,
following Top, who did â€˜not hesitate as to what direction to
â€˜They ascended owas: the north; having on their left an
interminable extent ofâ€™ billows, which broke with a deafen-
ing noise, and on their right â€˜a dark country, the aspect of
which it:was impossible to guess.Â» But they felt that it was
comparatively flat, for the windâ€™ passed completely: over
them, without being driven back as it was when it came in
contact withthe cliff.
At four oâ€™clock in the morning, they reckoned that they
had -cleared about five miles. The clouds were slightly
raised, and the wind, though less damp, was very sharp
and â€˜cold. â€˜Insufficiently â€˜protected by their clothing,
Pencroft, Herbert, and Spilett suffered cruelly, but not a
complaint escapedâ€™ their lips. They were determined to
follow Top, wherever the Bee a animal wished to lead
|; Towards five oâ€™clock day began to'break.â€™ At the zenith,
where thefog was less thick, grey~shades bordered thÃ©
DROPPED FROM. THE CLOUDS. 89
clouds; â€˜under an opaqueâ€™ belt, a luminous. line clearly
traced the horizon. The crests of. the billows were tipped
with a wild light, and the foam regained its whiteness. At
the sameâ€˜time on the left the hilly parts of the coast could
be seen, though very: indistinctly.
Â» At six o'clock day. had: broken.. The â€˜clouds. rapidly
lifted: The seaman: and â€˜his*companionsâ€˜wereâ€™then about
six miles from the Chimneys. Â» They were following a very
flat shore bounded byâ€˜a reef of rocks, whose headsâ€™scarcely
emerged from the sea, for they were in deep water. On
the left; the .country appeared to be one â€˜vast â€˜extent o
sandy downs, bristling with thistles. There was no cliff,
and the shore offered no resistance to the ocean but a chain
of irregular hillocks. Here and there grew two or three
trees, inclined towards the west, their branches projecting
in that direction. Quite behind, in the south-west, extended
the border of the forest.
At this moment, Top became very excited. He ran for-
ward, then returned, and seemed to entreat them to hasten
their steps. The dog then left the beach, and guided by
his wonderful instinct, without showing the least hesitation,
went straight in amongst the downs. They followed him.
The country appeared an absolute desert. Not a living
creature was to be seer.
The downs, the extent of which was large, were com-
posed of hillocks and even of hills, very irregularly dis-
90 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
tributed. They resembled a Switzerland modelled in sand,
and only an amazing instinct could have possibly recog-
nized the way.
Five minutes after having left the beach, the reporter
and his two companions arrived at a sort of excavation,
hollowed â€˜out at the back of a high mound. There Top
stopped, and gave a loud, clear bark. Spilett, Herbert,
and Pencroft dashed into the cave.
Neb was there, kneeling beside a body extended ona
bed of grassâ€”
The body was that of the engineer, Cyrus Ilarding.
DEAD OR ALIVE
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. gl
IS CYRUS HARDING LIVING?â€”NEBâ€™S RECITALâ€”FOCT-
PRINTSâ€”AN UNANSWERABLE QUESTION â€” CYRUS
HARDING'S FIRST WORDSâ€”IDENTIFYING THE FOOT-
STEPSâ€”RETURN TO THE CHIMNEYSâ€” PENCROFT
NEB did not move. Pencroft only uttered one word.
â€œLiving ?â€ he cried.
Neb did not reply. Spilett and the sailor turned pale.
Herbert clasped his hands, and remained motionless, The
poor negro, absorbed in his grief, evidently had neither
seen his companions nor heard the sailor speak.
The reporter knelt down beside the motionless body, and
placed his ear to the engineerâ€™s chest, having first torn open
A minuteâ€”an age !â€”passed, during which he endeavoured
to catch the faintest throb of the heart.
Neb had raised himself a little and gazed without seeing.
92 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
Despair had completely changed his countenance. He
could scarcely be recognized, exhausted with fatigue, broken
with grief. He believed his master was dead.
Gideon Spilett at last rose, after a long and attentive
â€œ He lives!â€ said he.
Pencroft knelt in his turn beside the engineer, he also
heard a throbbing, and even felt a lene breath on his
Herbert at a word from the reporter ran out to look for
water. He found, a hundred feet off, a limpid stream,
which seemed to have been greatly i increased by the rains,
and which filtered through the sand ; but nothing in which
to put the water, not even a shell amongst the downs.
The lad was obliged to content himself with dipping his
handkerchief in the stream, and with it hastened back to
Happily the wet handkerchief was enough for Gideon
Spilett, who only wished to wet.the. engineerâ€™s lips. . The
cold water produced an almost immediate effect. His
chest heaved and he seemed to try to speak.
â€œâ€œ We will save him !â€ exclaimed the reporter.
At these words hope revived in Nebâ€™s heart. He un-
dressed â€˜his master to see if he was wounded, but not so
much as a bruise was to be found, either on the head, body,
or limbs, which was surprising, as he must have been
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 93
dashed against the rocks; even the hands were uninjured,
and it was difficult to explain how the engineer showed no
traces of the efforts which he must have made to get out of
reach of the breakers.
But the explanation would come later. When Cyrus
was able to speak he would say what had happened. For
the present the question was, how to recall him to life, and
it appeared likely that rubbing would bring this about ; so
they set to work with the sailorâ€™s jersey.
The engineer, revived by this rude shampooing, moved
his arm slightly, and began to breathe more regularly.
He was sinking from exhaustion, and certainly, had. not
the reporter and his companions arrived, it would have
been all over with Cyrus Harding.
â€œYou thought your master was dead, didnâ€™t you?â€ said
the seaman to Neb.
â€œYes! quite dead!â€ replied Neb, â€œand if Top had not
found you, and brought you here, I should have buried my
master, and then have lain down on his grave to die!â€
It had indeed been a narrow escape for Cyrus Harding!
Ned then recounted what had happened. The day
before, after having left the Chimneys at daybreak, he had
ascended the coast in a northerly direction, and had
reached that part of the shore which he had already visited.
There, without any hope he acknowledged, Neb had
searched the beach, among the rocks, on the sand, for the
94. THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
smallest trace to guide him. He examined particularly
that part of the beach which was not covered by the high
tide, for near the sea the water would have obliterated all
marks. Neb did not expect to find his master living. It
was for a corpse that he searched, a corpse which he
wished to bury with his own hands!
He sought long in vain. This desert coast appeared
never to have been visited by a human creature. The
shells, those which the sea had not reached, and which
might be met with by millions above high-water mark,
were untouched. Not a shell was broken.
Neb then resolved to walk along the beach for some
miles. Itwas possible that the waves had carried the body
to quite a distant point. When a corpse floats a little
distance. from a low shore, it rarely happens that the
tide does not throw it up, sooner or later. This Neb
knew, and he wished to see his master again for the last
â€œT went along the coast for another two miles, carefully
examining the beach, both at high and low water, and I
had despaired of finding anything, when yesterday, about
five in the evening, I saw footprints on the sand.â€
â€œFootprints?â€ exclaimed Pencroft.
â€œYes!â€ replied Neb.
â€œ Did these footprints begin at the waterâ€™s edge?â€ asked
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 95
â€œNo,â€ replied Neb, â€œonly above high-water mark, for
the others must have been washed out by the tide.â€
â€œGo on, Neb,â€ said Spilett. |
â€œT went half crazy when I saw these footprints. They
were very clear and went towards the downs. I followed
them for a quarter of a mile, running, but taking care not
to destroy them. Five minutes after, as it was getting
dark, I heard the barking of a dog. It was Top, and Top
brought me here, to my master !â€
Neb ended his account by saying what had been his
grief at finding the inanimate body, in which he vainly
sought for the least sign of life. Now that he had found
him dead he longed for him to be alive. All his efforts
were useless! Nothing remained to be done but to render
the last duties to the one whom he had loved. so much!
Neb then thought of his companions. They, no doubt,
would wish to see the unfortunate man again. Top was
there. Could he not rely on the sagacity of the faithful
animal? Neb several times pronounced the name of the
reporter, the one among his companions whom Top knew
best. Then he pointed to the south, and the dog bounded
off in the direction indicated to him.
We have heard how, guided by an instinct which might
be looked upon almost as supernatural, Top had found them.
â€™ Nebâ€™s companions had listened with great attention to
this account. :
96 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
It was unaccountable to. them how Cyrus Harding, after
the efforts which he must have made to escape from the
waves by crossing the rocks, had not received even a
scratch. And what could not be explained either was how
the engineer had managed to get to this cavein the downs,
more than a mile from the shore.
â€œSo, Neb,â€ said the reporter, â€œit was not you â€˜who
brought your master to this place.â€
â€œNo, it was not I,â€ replied the negro.
â€œItâ€™s very clear that the Captain came here by himself,â€
â€œIt is clear in reality,â€ observed Spilett, â€œbut it is not
The explanation of this fact could only be procured from
the engineer's own lips, and they must wait for that till
speech returned. Rubbing had re-established the circula-
tion of the blood. Cyrus Harding moved his arm again,
then his head, and a few incomprehensible words escaped
Neb, who was bending over him, spoke, but the engineer
did not appear to hear, and his eyes remained closed.
Life was only exhibited in him by movement, his senses
had not as yet been restored.
Pencroft much regretted not having either fire, or the
means of procuring it, for he had, unfortunately, forgotten
to bring the burnt linen, which would easily have
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 97
ignited from the spark produced by striking together two
flints. As to the engineer's pockets, they were entirely
empty, except that of his waistcoat, which contained his
watch. It was necessary to carry Harding to the Chim-
neys, and that as soon as possible. This was the opinion
Meanwhile, the care which was lavished on the engineer
brought him back to consciousness sooner than they could
have expected. The water with which they wetted his
lips revived him gradually. Pencroft also thought of mix-
ing with the water some moisture from the tÃ©traâ€™s flesh
which he had brought. Herbert ran to the beach and
returned with two large bivalve shells. The sailor con-
cocted something which he introduced between the lips
of the engineer, who eagerly drinking it opened his eyes,
Neb and the reporter were leaning over him.
â€œMy master! my master!â€ cried Neb.
The engineer heard him. He. recognized Neb and
Spilett, then. his other two companions, and his hand
slightly pressed theirs.
A few words again escaped him, which showed what
thoughts were, even then, troubling his brain. This time
he was understood. Undoubtedly they were the same
words he had before attempted to utter.
â€œIsland or continent?â€ he murmured,
â€œ Bother the continent,â€ cried Pencroft hastily ; â€œthere is
08 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
time enough to see about that, captain! we donâ€™t care for
anything, provided you are living.â€
The engineer nodded faintly, and then appeared to
They respected this sleep, and the reporter began imme-
diately to make arrangements for transporting Harding to
a more comfortable place. Neb, Herbert, and Pencroft
left the cave and directed their steps towards a high mound
crowned with a few distorted trees. On the way the sailor
could not help repeating,â€”
â€œIsland or continent! To think of that, when at oneâ€™s
last gasp! What a man!â€
Arrived at the summit of the mound, Pencroft and his
two companions set to work, with no other tools than their
hands, to despoil of its principal branches a rather sickly
tree, a sort of marine fir; with these branches they made
a litter, on which, covered with grass and leaves, they
could carry the engineer.
This occupied them nearly forty minutes, and it was ten
o'clock when they returned to Cyrus Harding, whom
Spilett had not left.
The engineer was just awaking from the sleep, or rather
from the drowsiness, in which they had found him. The
colour was returning to his cheeks, which till now had been
as pale as death. He raised himself a little, looked around
him, and appeared to ask where he was.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 99
â€œCan you listen to me without fatigue, Cyrus?â€ asked
â€œYes,â€ replied the engineer.
â€œTtâ€™s my opinion,â€ said the sailor, â€œthat Captain Har-
ding will be able to listen to you still better, if he will have
some more tÃ©tra jellyâ€”for we have tÃ©tras, captain,â€ added
he, presenting him with a little of this jelly, to which he
this time added some of the flesh. ;
Cyrus Harding ate a little of the tÃ©tra, and the rest was
divided among his companions, who found it but a meagre
breakfast, for they were suffering extremely from hunger.
â€œWell!â€ said the sailor, â€œthere is plenty of food at the
Chimneys, for you must know, captain, that down there, in
the south, we have a house, with rooms, beds, and fire-
place, and in the pantry, several dozen of birds, which our
Herbert calls couroucous. Your litter is ready, and as
soon as you feel strong enough we will carry you home.â€
â€œThanks, my friend,â€ replied the engineer; â€œwait
another hour or two, and then we will set out. And now
The reporter then told him all that had occurred. He
recounted all the events with which Cyrus was unac-
quainted, the last fall of the balloon, the landing on this
unknown land, which appeared a desert (whatever it was,
whether island or continent), the discovery of the Chimneys,
the search for him, not forgetting of course Nebâ€™s devo-
: If 2
Too THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
tion, the intelligence exhibited by the faithful Top, as well
as many other matters.
â€œBut,â€ asked Harding, in a still feeble voice, â€œyou did
not, then, pick me up on the beach ?â€
â€œNo,â€ replied the reporter.
â€œ And did you not bring me to this cave ?â€
â€œ At what distance is this cave from the sea ?â€
â€œAbout a mile,â€ replied Pencroft; â€œand if you are
astonished, captain, we are not less surprised ourselves at
seeing you in this place!â€
â€œIndeed,â€ said the engineer, who was recovering
gradually, and who took. great interest in these details,
â€œindeed it is very singular!â€
â€œBut,â€ resumed the sailor, â€œcan you tell us what
happened after you were carried off by the sea ?â€
Cyrus Harding considered. He knew very little. The
wave had torn him from the balloon net. He sank at first
several fathoms. On returning to the surface, in the half
light, he felt a living creature struggling near him. It was
Top, who had sprung to his help. He saw nothing of the
balloon, which, lightened both of his weight and that of
the dog, had darted away like an arrow.
There he was, in the midst of the angry sea, at a dis-
tance which could not be less than half a mile from the
shore. He attempted to struggle against the billows by
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. Iol
swimming vigorously. Top held him up by his. clothes ;
but a strong current seized him and drove him towards the
north, and after half an hour of exertion, he sank, dragging
Top with him into the depths. -From that moment to the
moment in which he recovered to find himself in the arms
of his friends he remembered nothing.
â€œ However,â€ remarked Pencroft, â€œyou must have been
thrown on to the beach, and you must have had strength
to walk here, since Neb found your footmarks !â€
â€œYes...ofcourse ...â€ replied the engineer, thought-
fully ; â€œand you found no traces of human beings on this
â€œNot a trace,â€ replied the reporter; â€œbesides, if by
chance you had met with some deliverer there, just in the
nick of time, why should he have abandoned you after
having saved you from the waves?â€
â€œYou are right, my dear Spilett. Tell me, Neb,â€
added the engineer, turning to his servant, â€œit was not you
who ... you canâ€™t have had a moment of unconsciousness
Â» .. during which ... no, thatâ€™s absurd... . Do any of
the footsteps still remain?â€ asked Harding,
â€œYes, master,â€ repliel Neb; â€œhere, at the entrance, at
the back of the mound, in a place sheltered from the rain
and wind. The storm has destroyed the others.â€
â€œPencroft,â€™ said Cyrus Harding, â€œwill you take my
shoe and see if it fits exactly to the footprints ?â€ ,
102 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
The sailor did as the engineer requested. Whilst he
and Herbert, guided by Neb, went to the place where the
footprints were to be found, Cyrus remarked to the
â€œIt is a most extraordinary thing!â€
â€œ Perfectly inexplicable!â€ replied Gideon Spilett.
â€œ But do not dwell upon it just now, my dear Spilett, we
will talk about it by-and-by.â€
A moment after the others entered.
There was no doubt about it. The engineerâ€™s shoe
fitted exactly to the footmarks. It was therefore Cyrus
Harding who had left them on the sand.
â€œCome,â€ said he, â€œI must have experienced this un-
consciousness which I attributed to Neb. I must have
walked like a somnambulist, without any knowledge of
my steps, and Top must have guided me here, after having
dragged me from the waves . .. Come, Top! Come, old
The magnificent animal bounded barking to his master,
and caresses were lavished on him. It was agreed that
there was no other way of accounting for the rescue of
Cyrus Harding, and that Top deserved all the honour of
the affair. |
Towards twelve o'clock, Pencroft having asked the
engineer if they could now remove him, Harding, instead
of replying, and by an effort which exhibited the most
BRING THE CAPTAINâ€™
THE RETURN WITH THE CAPTAIN.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 103
energetic will, got up. - But he was obliged to lean-on the
sailor, or he would have fallen.
â€œWell done!â€ said Pencroft; â€œbring the captainâ€™s
The litter was brought; the transverse branches had
been covered with leaves and long grass. Harding was
laid on it, and Pencroft, having taken his place at one end
and Neb at the other, they started towards the coast.
There was a distance of eight miles to be accomplished ;
but, as they could not go fast, and it would perhaps be
necessary to stop frequently, they reckoned that it would
take at least six hours to reach the Chimneys. The wind
was still strong, but fortunately it did not rain. Although
lying down, the engineer, leaning on his elbow, observed
the coast, particularly inland. He did not speak, but he
gazed ; and, no doubt, the appearance of the country, with
its inequalities of ground, its forests, its various produc-
tions, were impressed on his mind, However, after travelling
for two hours, fatigue overcame him, and he slept.
At half-past five the little band arrived at the precipice,
and a short time after at the Chimneys.
They stopped, and the litter was placed on the sand;
Cyrus. Harding was sleeping profoundly, and did not
Pencroft, to his extreme surprise, found that the terrible
storm had quite altered the aspect of the place. Important
104 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
changes had occurred; great blocks of stone lay on the
beach, which was also covered with a thick carpet of sea-
weed, algee, and wrack. Evidently the sea, passing over
the islet, had been carried right up to the foot of the enor-
mous curtain of granite. The soil in front of the cave had
been torn away by the violence of the waves. A horrid
presentiment flashed across Pencroftâ€™s mind. He rushed
into the passage, but returned almost immediately, and
stood motionless, staring at his companions. ... The fire
was out; the drowned cinders were nothing but mud; the
burnt linen, which was to have served as tinder, had dis-
appeared! The sea had penetrated to the end of the
passages, and everything was overthrown and destroyed in
the interior of the Chimneys]
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 105
CYRUS IS HEREâ€”PENCROFTâ€™S ATTEMPTSâ€” RUBBING WOOD
â€”ISLAND OR CONTINENTâ€”THE ENGINEERâ€™S PRO-
JECTSâ€”IN WHAT PART OF THE PACIFIC OCEANâ€”IN
THE MIDST OF THE FORESTSâ€”THE STONE PINEâ€”
CHASING A CAPYBARAâ€”AN AUSPICIOUS SMOKE.
IN a few words, Gideon Spilett, Herbert, and Neb were
made acquainted with what had happened. This acci-
dent, which appeared so very serious to Pencroft, pro-
duced different effects on the companions of the honest
Neb, in his delight at having found his master, did not
listen, or rather, did not care to trouble himself with what
Pencroft was saying.
Herbert shared in some degree the sailorâ€™s feelings,
As to the reporter, he simply replied,â€”
â€œUpon my word, Pencroft, itâ€™s perfectly indifferent to
106 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
â€œBut, I repeat, that we havenâ€™t any fire!â€
â€œNor any means of relighting it!â€
â€œ But I say, Mr. Spilettâ€”â€
â€œIsn't Cyrus here?â€ replied the reporter.
â€œTs not our engineer alive? He will soon find some
way of making fire for us!â€
â€œ With nothing.â€
What had Pencroft to say? He could say nothing, for,
in the bottom of his heart he shared the confidence which
his companions had in Cyrus Harding. â€˜The engineer was
to them a microcosm, a compound of every science, a
possessor of all human knowledge. It was better to be
with Cyrus in a desert island, than without him in the
most flourishing town in the United States. With him
they could want nothing; with him they would never
despair. If these brave men had been told that a volcanic
eruption would destroy the land, that this land would be
engulfed in the depths of the Pacific, they would have
â€œ Cyrus is here!â€
While in the palanquin, however, the engineer had again
relapsed into unconsciousness, which the jolting to which
he had been subjected during his journey had brought-on,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 107
so that they could not now appeal to his ingenuity. The
supper must necessarily be very meagre. In fact, all the
tÃ©trasâ€™ flesh had been consumed, and there no longer existed
any means of cooking more game. . Besides, the couroucous
which had been reserved had disappeared. They must
consider what was to be done.
First of all, Cyrus Harding was carried into the central
passage. There they managed to arrange for him a couch
of sea-weed which still remained almost dry. The deep
sleep which had overpowered him would no doubt be more
beneficial to him than any nourishment.
Night had closed in, and the temperature, which had
modified when the wind shifted to the north-west, again
became extremely cold. Also, the sea having destroyed
the partitions which Pencroft had put up in certain places
in the passages, the Chimneys, on account of the draughts,
had become scarcely habitable. The engineerâ€™s condition
would, therefore, have beenâ€™ bad enough, if his companions
had not carefully covered him with their coats and waist-
Supper, this evening, was of course composed of the
inevitable lithodomes, of which Herbert and Neb picked up
a plentiful supply on the beach. However, to these molluscs,
the lad added some edible sea-weed, which he gathered on
high rocks, whose sides were only washed by the sea at the
time of high tides. This sea-weed, which belongs to the
108 THE. MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
order of Sucace, of the genus Sargussum, produces,
when dry,a gelatinous matter, rich and nutritious. The
reporter and his companions, after having eaten a quantity
of lithodomes, sucked the sargussum, of which the taste
was very tolerable. It is used in parts of the East very
considerably by the natives. â€œNever mind!â€ said the
sailor, â€œthe captain will help us soon.â€ Meanwhile the
cold became very severe, and unhappily they had no
means of defending themselves from it.
The sailor, extremely vexed, tried in all sorts of ways to
procure fire. Neb helped him in this work. He found
some dry moss, and by striking together two pebbles he
obtained some sparks, but the moss, not being inflammable,
enough, did not take fire, for the sparks were really
only incandescent, and not at all of the same consistency
as those which are emitted from flint when struck in
the same manner. The experiment, therefore, did not
Pencroft, although he had no confidence in the proceed-
ing, then tried rubbing two pieces of dry wood together, as
savages do. Certainly, the movement which he and Neb
gave themselves, if they had been transformed into heat,
according to the new theory, would have been enough to
heat the boiler of a steamer! It came to nothing. The
bits of wood became hot, to be sure, but much less so than
the operators themselves,
A FRUITLESS ATTEMPT.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 109g
After working an hour, Pencroft, who was in a complete
state of perspiration, threw down the pieces of wood in
â€œT can never be made to believe that savages light their
fires in this way, let them say what they will,â€ he ex-
tlaimed. â€œI could sooner light my arms by rubbing them
against each other!â€
The sailor was wrong to despise the proceeding. Savages
often kindle wood by means of rapid rubbing. But
every sort of wood does not answer for the purpose,
and besides, there is â€œthe knack,â€ following the usual
expression, and it is probable that Pencroft had not â€œthe
Pencroftâ€™s ill humour did not last long. Herbert had
taken the bits of wood which he had thrown down, and was
exerting himself to rub them. The hardy sailor could not
restrain a burst of laughter on seeing the efforts of the lad
to succeed where he had failed. .
â€œRub, my boy, rub!â€ said he.
â€œTI am rubbing,â€ replied Herbert, laughing, â€œbut I donâ€™t
pretend to do anything else but warm myself instead of
shivering, and soon I shall be as hot as you are, my good
This soon happened. However, they were obliged to
give up, for this night at least, the attempt to procure fire.
Gideon Spilett repeated, for the twentieth time, that Cyrus
'10 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Harding would not have been troubled for so small a diffi-
culty. And, in the meantime, he stretched himself in one
of the passages on his bed of sand. Herbert, Neb, and
Pencroft did the same, whilst Top slept at his masterâ€™s feet.
Next day, the 28th of March, when the engineer awoke,
about eight in the morning, he saw his companions around
him watching his sleep, and, as on the day before, his first
words were :â€”
â€œTsland or continent ?â€
This was his uppermost thought.
â€œWell!â€ replied Pencroft, â€œwe donâ€™t know anything
about it, captain!â€ â€œ
â€œYou donâ€™t know yet?â€
â€œBut we shall know,â€ rejoined Pencroft, â€œwhen you
have guided us into the country.â€
â€œJT think I am able to try it,â€ replied the engineer, who,
without much effort, rose and stood upright.
â€œThatâ€™s capital!.â€ cried the sailor.
â€œT feel dreadfully weak,â€ replied Harding. â€œGive me
something to eat, my friends, and it will soon go off. You
have fire, havenâ€™t you?â€
This question was not immediately replied to. But, ina
â€œAlas! we have no fire,â€ said Pencroft, â€œor rather,
captain, we have it no longer!â€
And the sailor recounted all that had passed the day
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. IIl
before. He amused the engineer by the history of the
single match, then his abortive attempt to procure fire in
the savagesâ€™ way.
â€œWe shall consider,â€ replied the engineer, â€œ and if we do
not find some substance similar to tinderâ€”â€
â€œWell?â€ asked the sailor.
â€œWell, we will make matches.â€
â€œTt is not more difficult than that,â€ cried the reporter,
striking the sailor on the shoulder.
The latter did not think it so simple, but he did not
protest. All went out. The weather had become very
fine. The sun was rising from the seaâ€™s horizon, and
touched with golden spangles the prismatic rugosities of
the huge precipice.
Having thrown a rapid glance around him, the engineer
seated himself on a block of stone. Herbert offered him a
few handfuls of shell-fish and sargussum, saying,â€”
â€œTt is all that we have, Captain Harding.â€
replied Harding; â€œit will doâ€”for
â€œ Thanks, my boy,
this morning at least.â€
He ate the wretched food with appetite, and washed it
down with a little fresh water, drawn from the river in an
His companions looked at him without speaking. Then,
112 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
feeling somewhat refreshed, Cyrus Harding crossed his
arms, and said,â€”
â€œSo, my friends, you do not know yet whether fate has
thrown us on an island, or on a continent ?â€
â€œNo, captain,â€ replied the boy.
â€œWe shall know to-morrow,â€ said the engineer; â€œ till
then, there is nothing to be done.â€
â€œYes,â€ replied Pencroft.
â€œFire,â€ said the sailor, who, also, had a fixed idea.
â€œWe will make it, Pencroft,â€ replied Harding.
â€œWhilst you were carrying me yesterday, did I not see
in the west a mountain which commands the country ?â€
â€œYes,â€ replied Spilett, â€œa mountain which must be
â€œWell,â€ replied the engineer, â€œwe will climb to the
summit to-morrow, and then we shall see if this land is an
island or a continent. Till then, I repeat, thefe is nothing
to be done.â€
â€œYes, fire!â€ said the obstinate sailor again.
â€œBut he will make us a fire!â€ replied Gideon Spilett,
â€œonly have a little patience, Pencroft !â€
The seaman looked at Spilett in a way which seemed to
say, â€œIf it depended upon you to do it, we wouldnâ€™t taste
roast meat very soon ;â€ but he was silent.
Meanwhile Captain Harding had made no reply. He
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 113
appeared to be very little troubled by the question of fire.
For a few minutes he remained absorbed in thought ; then
â€œMy friends,â€ said he, â€œour situation is, perhaps, de-
plorable ; but, at any rate, it is very plain. Either we are on
a continent, and then, at the expense of greater or less
fatigue, we shall reach some inhabited place, or we are on
anisland. In the latter case, if the island is inhabited, we
will try to get out of the scrape with the help of its in-
habitants ; if it is desert, we will try to get out of the scrape
â€œCertainly, nothing could be plainer,â€ replied Pencroft.
â€œBut, whether it is an island or a continent,â€ asked
Gideon Spilett, â€œwhereabouts do you think, Cyrus, this
storm has thrown us?â€
â€œT cannot say exactly,â€ replied the engineer, â€œbut I
presume it is some land in the Pacific. In fact, when we
left Richmond, the wind was blowing from the north-east, and
its very violence greatly proves that it could not have varied.
If the direction has been maintained from the north-east to
the south-west, we have traversed the States of North
Carolina, of South Carolina, of Georgia, the Gulf of Mexico,
Mexico itself, in its narrow part, then a part of the Pacific
Ocean. I cannot estimate the distance traversed by the
balloon at less than six to seven thousand miles, and, even
supposing that the wind had varied half a quarter, it must
Ii4 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
have brought us either to the archipelago of Mendava, either
on the Pomotous, or even, if it had a greater strength than
I suppose, to the land of New Zealand. If the last
hypothesis is correct, it will be easy enough to get home
again. English or Maoris, we shall always find some one
to whom we can speak. If; on the contrary, this is the
coast of a desert island in some tiny archipelago, per-
haps we shall be able to reconnoitre it fromâ€™ the summit
of that peak which overlooks the country, and then we
shall see how best to establish ourselves here as if we are
never to go away.â€ .
â€œNever?â€ cried the reporter. â€œYou say â€˜Never,â€™ my
â€œBetter to put things at the worst at first,â€ replied the
engineer, â€œand reserve the best for a surprise.â€
â€œWell said,â€ remarked Pencroft. â€œIt is to be hoped,
too, that this island, if it be one, is not situated just out of
the course of ships; that would be really unlucky !â€
â€œWe shall not know what we have to rely on until we
have first made the ascent of the mountain,â€ replied the
â€œ But to-morrow, captain,â€ asked Herbert, â€œshall you be
in a state to bear the fatigue of the ascent ?â€
â€œT hope so,â€ replied the engineer, â€œ provided you and
Pencroft, my boy, show yourselves quick and ciever
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 115
â€œCaptain,â€ said the sailor, â€œsince you are speaking of
game, if, on my return, I was as certain of being able to
roast it as I am of bringing it backâ€”â€
â€œBring it back all the same, Pencroft,â€ replied Harding.
It was then agreed that the engineer and the reporter
were to pass the day at the Chimneys, so as to examine the
shore and the upper plateau. Neb, Herbert, and the
sailor, were to return to the forest, renew their store of wood,
and lay violent hands on every creature, feathered or hairy,
which might come within their reach,
They set out accordingly about ten oâ€™clock in the morning,
Herbert confident, Neb joyous, Pencroft murmuring aside,â€”
â€œTf, on my return, I find a fire at the house, I shall
believe that the thunder itself came to light it.â€ All three
climbed the bank ; and arrived at the angle made by the
river, the sailor, stopping, said to his two companions,â€” |
â€œ Shall we begin by being hunters or wood-men ?â€
â€œHunters,â€ replied Herbert. â€œThere is Top already in
â€œWe will hunt, then,â€ said the sailor, â€œand afterwards
we can come back and collect our wood.â€
This agreed to, Herbert, Neb, and Pencroft, after having
torn three sticks from the trunk of a young fir, followed
Top, who was bounding about amongst the long grass.
This time, the hunters, instead of following the course of
the river, plunged straight into the heart of the forest.
116 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
There were still the same trees, belonging, for the most
part, to the pine family. In certain places, less crowded,
growing in clumps, these pines exhibited considerable
dimensions, and appeared to indicate, by their develop-
ment, that the country was situated in a higher latitude
than the engineer had supposed. Glades, bristling with
stumps worn away by time, were covered with dry wood,
which formed an inexhaustible store of fuel. Then, the
glade passed, the underwood thickened again, and became
It was difficult enough to find the way amongst the
groups of trees, without any beaten track. So the sailor
from time to time broke off branches which might be easily
recognized. But, perhaps, he was wrong not to follow the
watercourse, as he and Herbert had done on their first
excursion, for after walking an hour not a creature had shown
itself. Top, running under the branches, only roused birds
which could not be approached. Even the couroucous were
nvisible, and it was probable that the sailor would be
obliged to return to the marshy part of the forest, in which
he had so happily performed his tÃ©tra fishing.
â€œWell, Pencroft,â€ said Neb, in a slightly sarcastic tone,
â€œif this is all the game which you promised to bring back
to my master, it wonâ€™t need a large fire to roast it!â€
â€œ Have patience,â€ replied the sailor, â€œit isnâ€™t the game
which will be wanting on our return.â€
DROPPED FROM TIIE CLOUDS. 117
â€œHave you not confidence in Captain Harding ?â€
â€œBut you don't believe that he will make fire ?â€
â€œT shall believe it when the wood is blazing in the fire-
â€œIt will blaze, since my master has said so.â€
â€œWe shall see!â€
Meanwhile, the sun had not reached the highest point in
its course above the horizon. The exploration, therefore,
continued, and was usefully marked by a discovery which
Herbert made of a tree whose fruit was edible. This was
the stone-pine, which produces an excellent almond, very
much esteemed in the temperate regions of America and
Europe. These almonds were in a perfect state of matu-
rity, and Herbert described them to his companions, who
feasted on them.
â€œCome,â€ said Pencroft, â€œsea-weed by way of bread, raw
mussels for meat, and almonds for dessert, thatâ€™s certainly
a good dinner for those who have not a single match in
their pocket !â€
â€œ We mustnâ€™t complain,â€ said Herbert.
â€œTam not complaining, my boy,â€ replied Pencroft, â€œonly
I repeat, that meat is a little too much economized in this
sort of meal.â€ ,
â€œ Top has found something !â€ cried Neb, who ran towards
a thicket, in the midst of which the dog had disappeared,
118 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
barking. With Topâ€™s barking were mingled curious
The sailor and Herbert had followed Neb. If there was
game there this was not the time to discuss how it was to
be cooked, but rather, how they were to get hold of it.
The hunters had scarcely entered the bushes when they
saw Top engaged in a struggle with an animal which he
was holding by the ear. This quadruped was a sort of pig
nearly two feet and a half long, of a blackish brown
colour, lighter below, having hard scanty hair; its toes,
then strongly fixed in the ground, seemed to be united by
a membrane. Herbert recognized in this animal the capy-
bara, that is to say, one of the largest members of the
Meanwhile, the capybara did not struggle against the
dog. It stupidly rolled its eyes, deeply buried in a thick
bed of fat. Perhaps it saw men for the first time.
However, Neb having tightened his grasp on his stick,
was just going to fell the pig, when the latter, tearing itself
from Topâ€™s teeth, by which it was only held by the tip of
its ear, uttered a vigorous grunt, rushed upon Herbert,
almost overthrew him, and disappeared in the wood.
â€œThe rascal] !â€ cried Pencroft.
All three directly darted after Top, but at the moment
when they joined him the animal had disappeared under
the waters of a large pond shaded by venerable pines.
ENGAGED IN A STRUGGLE WITH TIIE CAPYBARA.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. TI9Q
Neb, Herbert, and Pencroft stopped, motionless. Top
plunged into the water, but the capybara, hidden at the
bottom of the pond, did not appear.
â€œLet us wait,â€ said the boy, â€œfor he will soon come to
the surface to breathe.â€
â€œWon't he drown?â€ asked Neb.
â€œNo,â€ replied Herbert, â€œsince he has webbed feet, and is
almost an amphibious animal. But watch him.â€
Top remained in the water. Pencroft and his two com-
panions went to different parts of the bank, so as to cut off
the retreat of the capybara, which the dog was looking for
beneath the water.
Herbert was not mistaken. In a few minutes the animal
appeared on the surface of the water. Top was upon it in a
bound, and kept it from plunging again. An instant later
the capybara, dragged to the bank, was killed by a blow
from Nebâ€™s stick.
â€œHurrah!â€ cried Pencroft, who was always ready with
this cry of triumph.
â€œGive me but a good fire, and this pig shall be gnawed
to the bones!â€
Pencroft hoisted the capybara on his shoulders, and
judging by the height of the sun that it was about two
o'clock, he gave the signal to return.
Topâ€™s instinct was useful to the hunters, who, thanks to
the intelligent animal, were enabled to discover the road
120 TILE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
by which they had come. Half an hour later they arrived
at the river.
Pencroft soon made a raft of wood, as he had done
before, though if there was no fire it would be a useless
task, and the raft followingâ€™ the current, they returned
towards the Chimneys.
But the sailor had not gone fifty paces when he stopped,
and again uttering a tremendous hurrah, pointed towards
the angle of the cliff,â€”
â€œHerbert! Neb! Look!â€ he shouted.
Smoke was escaping and curling up amongst the rocks.
A WELCOME SIGHT.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 121
THE ENGINEERâ€™S INVENTIONâ€”THE QUESTION WHICH
ENGROSSES THE THOUGHTS OF CYRUS HARDINGâ€”
DEPARTURE FOR THE MOUNTAINâ€”VOLCANIC SOIL
â€”TRAGOPANSâ€”SHEEPâ€” THE FIRST PLATEAUâ€”EN-
CAMPMENT FOR THE NIGHTâ€”THE SUMMIT OF. THE
IN a few minutes the three hunters were before a crackling
fire. The captain and the reporter were there. Pencroft
looked from one to the other, his capybara in his hand,
without saying a word.
â€œWell, yes, my brave fellow,â€ cried the reporter. Â©
â€œFire, real fire, which will roast this splendid pig per-
fectly, and we will have a feast presently |â€
â€œ But who lighted it?â€ asked Pencroft.
Gideon Spilett was quite right in his reply. It was the
sun which had furnished the heat which so astonished
122 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Pencroft. The sailor could scarcely believe his eyes, and
he was so amazed that he did not think of questioning the
â€œHad you a burning-glass, sir?â€ asked Herbert of
â€œNo, my boy,â€ replied he, â€œ but I made one.â€
And he showed the apparatus which served for a burning-
glass. It was simply two glasses which he had taken from
his own and the reporter's watches. Having filled them
with water and rendered their edges adhesive by means of
a little clay, he thus fabricated a regular burning-glass,
which, concentrating the solar rays on some very dry moss,
soon caused it to blaze. .
The sailor considered the apparatus ; then he gazed at
the engineer without saying a word, only a look plainly
expressed his opinion that if Cyrus Harding was not a
magician, he was certainly no ordinary man. At last speech
returned to him, and he cried,â€”
â€œNote that, Mr. Spilett, note that down on your
â€œIt is noted,â€ replied the reporter.
Then, Neb helping him, the seaman arranged the spit,
and the capybara, properly cleaned, was soon roasting like
a sucking-pig before a clear, crackling fire. .
The Chimneys had again become more habitable, not
only because the passages were warmed by the fire, but
PREPARING THE SUPPER,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. - 123
because the partitions of wood and mud had been re-
It was evident that the engineer and his companions had
employed their day well. Cyrus Harding had almost en-
tirely recovered his strength, and had proved it by climbing
to the upper plateau. From this point his eye, accustomed
to estimate heights and distances, was fixed for a long time
on the cone, the summit of which he wished to reach the
next day. The mountain, situated about six miles to the
north-west, appeared to him to measure 3500 feet above
the level of the sea. Consequently the gaze of an observer
posted on its summit would extend over a radius of at least
fifty miles. Therefore it was probable that Harding could
easily solve the question of â€œisland or continent,â€ to which
he attached so much importance.
They supped capitally. The flesh of the capybara was
declared excellent. The sargussum and the almonds of
the stone-pine completed the repast, during which the
engineer spoke little. .He was preoccupied with projects
for the next day.
Once or twice Pencroft gave forth some ideas upon what
it would be best to do; but Cyrus Harding, who was evi-
dently of a methodical mind, only shook his head without
uttering a word. ,
â€œTo-morrow,â€ he repeated, â€œwe shall know what we
have to depend upon, and we will act accordingly.â€
124 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The meal ended, fresh armfuls. of wood were thrown on
the fire, and the inhabitants of the Chimneys, including the
faithful Top, were soon buried in a deep sleep. No inci-
dent disturbed this peaceful night, and the next day, the
29th of March, fresh and active they awoke, ready to under-
take the excursion which must determine their fate.
_ Allwas ready for the start. The remains of the capybara
would be enough to sustain Harding and his companions
for at least twenty-four hours. Besides, they hoped to find
more food on the way. As the glasses had been returned
to the watches of the engineer and reporter, Pencroft burned
a little linen to serve as tinder. As to flint, that would not
be wanting in these regions of Plutonic origin. It was
half-past seven in the morning when the explorers, armed
with sticks, left the Chimneys. Following Pencroftâ€™s advice,
it appeared best to take the road already traversed through
the forest, and to return by another route. It was also the
most direct way to reach the mountain. They turned the
south angle and followed the left bank of the river, which
was abandoned at the point where it formed an elbow
towards the south-west. The path, already trodden under
the evergreen trees, was found, and at nine o'clock Cyrus
Harding and his companions had reached the western bor-
der of the forest. The ground, till then, very little undu-
lated, boggy at first, dry and sandy afterwards, had a gentle
slope, which ascended from the shore towards the interior
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 125
of the country. A few very timid animals were seen under
the forest-trees. Top quickly started them, but his master
soon called him back, for the time had not come to com-
mence hunting, that would be attended to later. The
engineer was not a man who would allow himself to be
diverted from his fixed idea. It might even have been
said that he did not observe the country -at all, either
in its configuration or in its natural productions, his great
aim being to climb the mountain before him, and therefore
straight towards it he went. -At ten oâ€™clock a halt of a few
minutes was made. On leaving the forest, the mountain
system of the country appeared before the explorers. The
mountain was composed of two cones; the first, truncated
at a height of about two thousand five hundred feet, was
sustained by buttresses, which appeared to branch out like
the talons of an immense claw set on the ground. Between
these were narrow valleys, bristling with trees, the last
clumps of which rose to the top of the lowest cone. There
appeared to be less vegetation on that side of the mountain
which was exposed to the north-east, and deep fissures
could be seen which, no doubt, were watercourses.
On the first cone rested a second, slightly rounded, and
placed a little on one side, like a great round hat cocked
over the ear. A Scotchman would have said, â€œ His bonnet
was a thocht ajee.â€ It appeared formed of bare earth, here
and there pierced by reddish rocks,
126 "THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
They wished to reach the second cone, and proceeding
along the ridge of the spurs seemed to be the best way by
which to gain it.
â€œWe are on volcanic ground,â€ Cyrus Harding had said,
and his companions following him began to ascend by
degrees on the back. of a spur, which, by a winding and
consequently more accessible path, joined the first plateau.
The ground had evidently been convulsed by subterra-
nean force. Here and there stray blocks, numerous dÂ¢Ã©bris
of basalt and pumice-stone, were met with. In isolated
groups rose fir-trees, which, some hundred feet lower, at the
bottom of the narrow gorges, formed massive shades almost
impenetrable to the sunâ€™s rays.
During this first part of the ascent, Herbert remarked
on the footprints which indicated the recent passage of
â€œ Perhaps these beasts will. not let us pass. by willingly,â€
â€œWell,â€ replied the reporter, who had already hunted
the tiger in India, and the lion in Africa, â€œwe shall soon
learn how successfully to encounter them. -But in the
meantime we must be upon our guard !â€
They ascended but slowly.
The distance increased by dÃ©fours and obstacles which
could not be surmounted directly, was long. Sometimes,
too, the ground suddenly fell, and they found themselves on
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 127
the edge of a deep chasm which they had to go round.
Tnus, in retracing their steps so as to find some practicable
path, much time was employed and fatigue undergone
for nothing. At twelve oâ€™clock, when the small: band of
adventurers halted for breakfast at the foot of a large
group of firs, near a little stream which fell in cascades,
they found themselves still half way from the first plateau,
which: most: probably they would not reach till nightfall:
From this point the view of the sea was much extended,
but on the right the high promontory prevented their
seeing whether there was land beyond it. On the left, the
sight extended several miles to the north; but, on the
north-west, at the point occupied by the explorers, it was
cut short by the ridge of a fantastically-shaped spur, which
formed a powerful support of the central cone.
At one o'clock the ascent was continued. They slanted
more towards the south-west and again entered amongst
thick bushes. There under the shade of the trees fluttered
several couple of gallinacez belonging to.the pheasant
species. They were tragopans, ornamented. by a pendant
skin which hangs over their throats, and by two small,
round horns planted behind the eyes. Among these birds,
which were about the size of a fowl, the female was uniformly:
brown, whilst the male was gorgeous in his red plumage,
decorated with white spots.- Gideon Spilett, with a stone
cleverly and vigorously thrown, killed one of these trago-
128 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
pans, on which Pencroft, made hungry by the fresh air, had
cast greedy eyes,
After leaving the region of bushes, the party, assisted
by resting on each otherâ€™s shoulders, climbed for about
a hundred feet up a steep acclivity and reached a level
place, with very few trees, where the soil appeared volcanic.
It was necessary to ascend by zigzags to make the slope
more easy, for it was very steep, and the footing being ex-
ceedingly precarious required the greatest caution. Neb and
Herbert took the lead, Pencroft the rear, the captain and
the reporter between them. The animals which frequented
these heightsâ€”and there were numerous traces of themâ€”
must necessarily belong to those races of sure foot and
supple spine, chamois or goat. Several were seen, but this
was not the name Pencroft gave them, for all of a suddenâ€”
â€œ Sheep!â€ he shouted.
All stopped about fifty feet from half-a-dozen animals of
a large size, with strong horns bent back and flattened
towards the point, with a woolly fleece, hidden under long
silky hair of a tawny colour.
They were not ordinary sheep, but a species usually
found in the mountainous regions of the temperate zone,
to which Herbert gave the name of the musmon._,
â€œ Have they legs and chops ?â€ asked the sailor.
â€œ Yes,â€ replied Herbert. ,
â€œ Well, then, they are sheep !â€ said Pencroft.
CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. _ 129
The animals, motionless among the blocks of basalt,
gazed with an astonished eye, as if they saw human bipeds
for the first time. Then, their fears suddenly aroused, they
disappeared, bounding over the rocks.
â€œGood-bye, till we meet again!â€ cried Pencroft, as he
watched them, in such a comical tone that Cyrus Harding,
Gideon Spilett, Herbert, and Neb could not help laughing.
The ascent was continued. Here and there were traces
of lava. Sulphur springs sometimes stopped their way,
and they had to go round them. In some places the
sulphur had formed crystals among other substances,
such as whitish cinders: made of an infinity of little felspar
In approaching the first plateau formed by the trun-
cating of the lower cone, the difficulties of the ascent were
very great. Towards four oâ€™clock the extreme zone of the
trees had been passed. There only remained here and
there a few twisted, stunted pines, which must have had a
hard life in resisting at this altitude the high winds from
the open sea. Happily for the engineer and his companions
the weather was beautiful, the atmosphere tranquil; for a
high breeze at an elevation of three thousand feet would
have hindered their proceedings. The purity of the sky at
the zenith was felt through the transparent air. A perfect
calm reigned around them. They could not see the sun,
then hid by the vast screen of the upper cone, which
130 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
masked the half-horizon of the west, and whose enormous
shadow stretching to the shore increased as the radiant
luminary sank in:its diurnal course... Vapoursâ€”amist rather
than cloudsâ€”began to appear in the east, and assume all
the prismatic colours under the influence of the. sclar
Five hundred feet only separated the explorers from the
plateau, which they wished to reach so as to establish there
an encampment for the night, but these five hundred feet
were increased: to more than two miles by: the zigzags
which they had to describe. The soil, as it. were, slid
under their feet. The slope often. presented: such an angle
that they slipped when the stones worn by the air did not
give a sufficient support. Evening came.on by. degrees,
and it was almost night when Cyrus Harding and his com-
panions, much fatigued by an ascent of seven hours, arrived
at the plateau of the first cone. It was then necessary to
prepare an encampment, and to restore their strength by
eating first and sleeping afterwards. This second stage of
the mountain rose on .a base of. rocks, among which it
would be easy to find a retreat. Fuel was not abundant.
However, a fire could be made by means of the moss and
dry brushwood, which covered certain parts of the plateau.
Whilst the sailor was preparing his hearth with. stones
which he put to this use, Neb and Herbert occupied them-
selves with getting a supply of fuel... They soon returned
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 131
with a load of brushwood. The steel was struck, the
burnt linen caught the sparks of flint, and, under Nebâ€™s
breath, a crackling fire showed itself in a few minutes
under the shelter of the rocks. Their object in lighting a
fire was only to enable them to withstand the cold tempe-
rature of the night, as it was not employed in cooking the
bird, which Neb kept for the next day. The remains of
the capybara and some dozens of the stone-pine almonds
formed their supper. It was not half-past six when all
was finished. .
Cyrus Harding then thought of exploring in the half-
light the large circular layer which supported the upper
cone of the mountain. Before taking any rest, he wished
to know if it was possible to get round the base of the
cone in the case of its sides being too steÃ©p and its summit
being inaccessible. This question preoccupied him, for it
was possible that from the way the hat inclined, that is to
say, towards the north, the plateau was not practicabie.
Also, if the summit of the mountain could not be reached
on one side, and if, on the other, they could not get round
the base of the cone, it would be impossible to survey the
western part of the country, and their object in making
the ascent would in part be altogether unattained.
The engineer, accordingly, regardless of fatigue, leav-
ing Pencroft and Neb to arrange the beds, and Gideon
Spilett to note the incidents of the day, began to follo-w
132 TUE: MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
the edge of the plateau, going towards the north. Herbert
The night was beautiful and still, the darkness was not
yet deep. Cyrus Harding and the boy walked nearâ€™ each
other,, without speaking. Inâ€™ some places the plateau
opened before them, and they passed without hindrance.
In: others, obstructed by â€˜rocks, there was only a narrow
path, in which two persons could not walk abreast. After
a walk of twenty minutes, â€˜Cyrus Harding and Herbert
were obliged to stop. From this point the slope of the
two cones became one.. No shoulder-here separated the
two parts of the mountain. The: slope, being inclinÃ©d
almost seventy degrees, the path became impracticable.
But if the engineer and the boy were obliged toâ€™give up
thoughts of following â€˜a circular direction, in return an
opportunity was given for ascending the-cone.
In fact, before them opened â€˜a deep hollow. It was the
rugged mouth of the crater, by which the eruptive liquid
matter had escaped at the periods when the volcano was still
in activity. Hardened lava and crusted scoria formed â€˜a
sort of natural staircase of large steps, which would greatly
facilitate the ascent to the summit of the mountain.
Harding took all this in at a glance,'and without hesi-
tating, followed by the lad, he entered the enormous chasm
in the midst of an increasing obscurity. :
There was still a height of a thousand feet to overcome
IT WAS THE MOUTH OF THE CRATER.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 133
Would the interior acclivities of the crater be practicable ?
It would soon be seen. The persevering engineer resolved
to continue his ascent until he was stopped. Happily
these acclivities wound up the interior of the volcano and
favoured their ascent.
As to the volcano itself, it could not be doubted that it
was completely extinct. No smoke escaped from its sides ;
not a flame could be seen in the dark hollows; not a roar,
not a mutter, no trembling even issued from this black
well, which perhaps reached far into the bowels of the
earth. The atmosphere inside the crater was filled with
no sulphurous vapour. It was more than the sleep of a
volcano; it was its complete extinction. Cyrus Hardingâ€™s
attempt would succeed.
Little by little, Herbert and he, dining up the sides of
the interior, saw the crater widen above their heads. The
radius of this circular portion of the sky, framed by the
edge of the cone, increased obviously. At each step, as it
were, that the explorers made, fresh stars entered the field
of their vision. The magnificent constellations of the
southern sky shone resplendently. At the zenith glittered
the splendid Antares in the Scorpion, and not far the @ in
the Centaur, which is believed to be the nearest star to the
terrestrial globe. Then, as the crater widened, appeared
Fomalhaut of the Fish, the Southern Triangle, and lastly,
nearly at the Antarctic Pole, the glittering Southern Cross,
134 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
which replaces the Polar Star of the Northern Hemi-
It was nearly eight oâ€™clock when Cyrus Harding and
Herbert set foot on the highest ridge of the mountain â€˜at
the summit of the cone.
It was then perfectly dark, and their gaze could not
extend over a radius of two miles. Did the sea surround
this unknown land, or was it connected in the west with
some continent of the Pacific? It could not yet be
made out. Towards the west, a cloudy belt, clearly visible
at the horizon, increased the gloom, and the eye could not
discover if the sky and water were blended together in the
same circular line.
But at one point of the horizon a vague light suddenly
appeared, which descended slowly in proportion as the
cloud mounted to the zenith.
.It was the slender crescent moon, already almost dis-
appearing ; but its light was. sufficient to show clearly the
horizontal line, then detached from the cloud, and the
engineer could see its reflection trembling for an instant on
a liquid surface. Cyrus Harding seized the ladâ€™s hand,
and in a grave voice,â€”
â€œAn island!â€ said he, at the moment when the lunar
crescent disappeared beneath the waves,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 135
AT THE SUMMIT OF THE CONEâ€”THE INTERIOR OF THE
CRATERâ€”SEA ALL ROUNDâ€”NO LAND IN SIGHTâ€”A
BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF THE COASTâ€”HYDROGRAPHY
AND OROLOGYâ€”IS THE ISLAND INHABITED â€”CHRIS-
TENING THE BAYS, GULFS, CAPES, RIVERS, ETC.â€”
HALF an hour later Cyrus Harding and Herbert had
returned to the encampment. The engineer merely told
his companions that the land upon which fate had thrown
them was an island, and that the next day they would
consult. Then each settled himself as well as he could to
sleep, and in that rocky hole, at a height of two thousand
five hundred feet above the level of the sea, through a
peaceful night, the islanders enjoyed profound repose.
The next day, the 30th of March, after a hasty break-
fast, which consisted solely of the roasted tragopan, the
engineer wished to climb again to the summit of the
136 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
volcano, so as more attentively to survey the island upon
which he and his companions were imprisoned for life
perhaps, should the island be situated at a great distance
from any land, or if it was out of the course of vessels
which visited the archipelagos of the Pacific Ocean. This
time his companions followed him in the new exploration.
They also wished to see the island, on the productions of
which they must depend for the supply of all their wants.
It was about seven o'clock in the morning when Cyrus
Harding, Herbert, Pencroft, Gideon Spilett, and Neb
quitted the encampment. No one appeared to be anxious
about their situation. They had faith in themselves,
doubtless, but it must be observed that the basis of this
faith was not the same with Harding as with his com-
panions. The engineer had confidence, because he felt
capable of extorting from this wild country everything
necessary for the life of himself and his companions; the
latter feared nothing, just because Cyrus Harding was
with them. Pencroft especially, since the incident of the
relighted fire, would not have despaired for an instant,
even if he was on a bare rock, if the engineer was with him
on the rock.
â€œPshaw!â€ said he, â€œwe left Richmond without permis-
sion from the authorities! It will be hard if we don't
manage to get away some day or other from a place where
certainly no one will detain us!â€
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 137
Cyrus Harding followed the same road as the evening
before. They went round the cone by the plateau which
formed the shoulder, to the mouth of the enormous chasm.
The weather was magnificent. The sun rose in a pure sky
and flooded with his rays all the eastern side of the
The crater was reached. It was just what the engineer
had made it out to be in the dark ; that is to say, a vast funnel
which extended, widening, to a height of a thousand feet
above the plateau. Below the chasm, large thick streaks
of lava wound over the sides of the mountain, and
thus marked the course of the eruptive matter to the
lower valleys which furrowed the northern part of the
The interior of the crater, whose inclination did not
exceed thirty-five to forty degrees, presented no difficulties
nor obstacles to the ascent. Traces of very ancient lava
were noticed, which probably had overflowed the summit
of the cone, before this lateral chasm had opened a new
way to it. Â©
As to the volcanic chimney which established a commu-
nication between the subterranean layers and the crater,
its depth could not be calculated with the eye, for it was
lost in obscurity. But there was no doubt as to the com-
plete extinction of the volcano.
Before eight o'clock Harding and his companions were
138 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
assembled at the summit of the crater, on a conical. mound
which swelled the northern edge.
â€œThe sea, the sea everywhere!â€ they cried, as if their
lips could not restrain the words which made islanders of
The sea, indeed, formed an immense circular sheet of
water all around them! Perhaps, on climbing again to the
summit of the cone, Cyrus Harding had had a hope of
discovering some coast, some island shore, which he had
not been able to perceive in the dark the evening before.
But nothing appeared on the farthest verge of the horizon,
that is to say, over a radius of more than fifty miles. No
land in sight. Not a sail. Over all this immense space
the ocean alone was visibleâ€”the island occupied the centre
of a circumference which appeared to be infinite.
The engineer and his companions, mute and motionless,
surveyed for some minutes every point of the ocean,
examining it to its most extreme limits. Even Pencroft,
who possessed a marvellous power of sight, saw nothing;
and certainly if there had been land at the horizon, if it
appeared only as an indistinct vapour, the sailor would
undoubtedly have found it out, for nature had placed
regular telescopes under his eyebrows.
From the ocean their gaze returned to the island which
they commanded entirely, and the first question was put
by Gideon Spilett in these terms :â€”
SEA, SEA EVERYWHERE.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 139
â€œ About what size is this island?â€
Truly, it did not appear large in the midst of the immense
Cyrus Harding reflected a few minutes; he attentively
observed the perimeter of the island, taking into considera-
tion the height at which he was placed; then,â€”
â€œMy friends,â€ said he, â€œI do not think I am mistaken in
giving to the shore of â€˜the island a circumference of more
than a hundred miles.â€
â€œAnd consequently an area?â€
â€œ That is difficult to estimate,â€ replied the engineer, â€œfor
it is so uneven.â€
If Cyrus Harding was not mistaken in his calculation,
the island had almost the extent of Malta or Zante, in the
Mediterranean, but it was at the same time much more
irregular and less rich in capes, promontories, points, bays,
or creeks, Its strange form caught the eye, and when
Gideon Spilett, on the engineerâ€™s advice, had drawn the
outline, they found that it resembled some fantastic animal,
a monstrous leviathan, which lay sleeping on the surface of
This was in fact the exact shape of the island, which it is
of consequence to know, and a tolerably correct map of it
was immediately drawn by the reporter.
The east part of the shore, where the castaways had
landed, formed a wide bay, terminated by a sharp cape,
140 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
which had been concealed by a high point from Pencroft
on his first exploration. At the north-east two other capes
closed the bay, and between them ran a narrow gulf,
which looked like the half-open jaws of a formidable
From the north-east to the south-west the coast was
rounded, like the flattened cranium of an animal, rising
again, forming a sort of protuberance which did not give
any particular shape to this part of the island, of which the
centre was occupied by the volcano.
From this point the shore ran pretty regularly north and
south, broken at two-thirds of its perimeter by a narrow
creek, from which it ended in a long tail, similar to the
caudal appendage of a gigantic alligator.
This tail formed a regular peninsula, which stretched
more than thirty miles into the sea, reckoning from the
cape south-east of the island, already mentioned ; it curled
round, making an open roadstead,; which marked out the
lower shore of this strangely-formed land.
At the narrowest part, that is to say between the
Chimneys and the creek on the western shore, which
corresponded to it in latitude, the island only measured
ten miles; but its greatest length, from the jaws at the
north-east to the extremity of the tail on the south-west,
was not less than thirty miles.
As to the interior of the island, its general aspect was
DROPPED FROM. THE CLOUDS. 141
this,â€”very woody throughout the southern part from the
mountain to the shore, and arid and sandy in the northern
part. Betwen the volcano and the east coast Cyrus Hard-
ing and his companions were surprised to see a lake,
bordered with green trees, the existence of which they had
not suspected. Seen from this height, the lake appeared
to be on the same level as the ocean, but, on reflection, the
engineer explained to his companions that the altitude of
this little sheet of water must be about three hundred feet,
because the plateau, which was its basin, was but a prolon-
gation of the coast.
â€œTs it a freshwater lake?â€ asked Pencroft.
â€œCertainly,â€ replied the engineer, â€œfor it must be fed by
the water which flows from the mountain.â€
â€œT see a little river which runs into it,â€ said Herbert,
pointing out a narrow stream, which evidently took its
source somewhere in the west.
â€œYes,â€ said Harding; â€œand since this stream feeds the
lake, most probably on the side near the sea there is an
outlet by which the surplus water escapes. We shall see
that on our return.â€
This little winding watercourse and the river already
mentioned constituted the water-system, at least such as it
was displayed to the eyes of the explorers. However, it
was possible that under the masses of trees which covered
two-thirds of the island, forming an immense forest, other
142 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
rivers ran towards the sea. It might even be inferred that
such was the case, so rich did this region appear in the
most magnificent specimens of the flora of the temperate
zones. There was no indication of running water in the
north, though perhaps there might be stagnant water
among the marshes in the north-east ; but that was all, in
addition to the downs, sand, and aridity which contrasted
so strongly with the luxuriant vegetation of the rest of the
The volcano did not occupy the central part; it rose, on
the contrary, in the north-western region, and seemed to
mark the boundary of the two zones. At the south-west,
at the south, and the south-east, the first part of the spurs
were hidden under masses of verdure. At the north, on
the contrary, one could follow their ramifications, which
died away on the sandy plains. It was on this side that,
at the time when the mountain was in a state of eruption,
the discharge had worn away a passage, and a large heap
of lava had spread to the narrow jaw which formed the
Cyrus Harding and his companions remained an hour
at the top of the mountain. The island was displayed
under their eyes, like a plan in relief with different
tints, green for the forests, yellow for the sand, blue for
the water. They viewed it in its toute-ensemble, nothing
remained concealed but the ground hidden by verdure,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. â€˜143
the hollows of the valleys, and the interior of the volcanic
One important question remained to â€˜be solved, and the
answer would have.a great effect: upon the future of the
castaways. . char? :
Was the island inhabited ? Â»
It was the reporter who put: this:question, to which after
the. close examination they:â€˜hadÂ« just:.made, the answer
seemed to be in the negative. ,
Nowhere could the work of â€˜a human â€˜hand be perceived.
Not a group of huts, not a solitary cabin, not a fishery on
the shore. No smoke curling in the air betrayed the
presence of man...â€™ It is true, a distance of nearly thirty
miles separated the observers from the extreme points, that
is, of the tail which extended: to the south-west, arid
would:-have been: difficult, even to Pencroftâ€™s eyes; to dis-
cover a habitation there. Neither could the curtain of
verdure, â€˜which .coveredâ€™ three-quarters of the â€˜island,. be
raised to see if it did not shelter some straggling village.
But in general the islanders live on the shores of the narrow
spacesâ€™ which emerge above the waters of the Pacific; and
this shore appeared to be an absolute desert.
_ Until amore complete exploration, it might be admitted
that.the island was uninhabited... But was. it frequented, at
least! occasionally, by the. natives of neighbouring islands ?
It was difficult to reply:to this question. No land appeared
144 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
within a radius of fifty miles. But fifty miles could be
easily crossed, either by Malay proas or by the large Poly-
nesian canoes, -Everything depended â€˜on the positionâ€™ of
the island, of its isolation in the Pacific, or of its proximity
to archipelagos. Would Cyrus Harding be able to find
out their latitude and longitude without instruments? It
would be difficult. In the doubt, it was best to. take
precautions against a possible descent. of neighbouring
The exploration of the island was finished, its shape
determined, its features made out, its extent calculated,
the water and mountain systems ascertained. The dispo-
sition of the forests and plains had been marked in a
general way on the reporterâ€™s plan. They had now. only
to descend the mountain slopes again, and explore the
soil, in the triple point of view, of its: mineral, vegetable,
and animal resources.
But before. giving his companions the signal . for: de-
parture, Cyrus Harding said to them in a calm, grave
voice,â€” Wg ;
Â« Here, my friends, is the small corner of land: upon
which the hand of the Almighty has thrown us. We are
going to live here; a long time, perhaps. - Perhaps, too,
unexpected help will arrive, if some ship passes by chance.
I say by chance, because this is an unimportant. island ;
there is not even a port in which ships could anchor, and it
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. : 145
is to be feared that it is situated out of the route usually
followed, that is to say, too much to the south for the ships
which frequent the archipelagos of. the Pacific, and too
much to the north for those which go to Australia by
doubling Cape Horn. I wish to hide nothing of our
position from youâ€”â€
â€œ And you are right, my dear Cyrus,â€ replied the reporter,
with animation. â€œYou have to deal with men. They have
confidence in you, and you can depend upon them. Is it
not so, my friends ?â€
â€œTJ will obey you in everything, captain,â€ said Herbert,
seizing the engineerâ€™s hand.
â€œ My master always, and everywhere!â€ cried Neb.
â€œ As for me,â€ said the sailor, â€œif I ever grumble at work,
my nameâ€™s not Jack Pencroft, and if you like, captain, we
will make a little America of this island! We will build
towns, we will establish railways, start telegraphs, and one
fine day, when it is quite changed, quite put in order and
quite civilized, we will go and offer it to the government of
the Union. Only, I ask one thing.â€
â€˜What is that ?â€ said the reporter.
â€œIt is, that we do not consider ourselves castaways, but
colonists, who have come here to settle.â€ Harding could
not help smiling, and the sailorâ€™s idea was adopted. He
then thanked his companions, and added, that he would
rely on their energy and on the aid of Heaven.
146 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
_ â€œWell, now let us set off to the Chimneys!â€ cried
â€œOne minute, my friends,â€ said the engineer. â€œIt seems
to me it would be a good thing to give a name to this
island, as well as' to the capes, promontories, and water-
courses, which we can see.â€ ;
â€œVery good,â€ said the reporter. â€œIn the future, that
will simplify. the instructions which we shall have to give
â€œIndeed,â€ said the sailor, â€œ already it is something to be
able to say where one is going, and where one has come
from. At least, it looks like somewhere.â€
â€œThe Chimneys, for example,â€ said Herbert.
- â€œExactly!â€ replied Pencroft. â€œThat name was~ the
most convenient, and it came to me quite of myself.
Shall we keep the name of the Chimneys for our first
encampment, captain?â€ ,
â€œYes, Pencroft, since you have so christened it.â€
â€œGood! as for the others, that will be easy,â€ returned
the sailor, who was in high spirits, â€œLet us give them
names, as the Robinsons did, whose story Herbert has
often read to me; Providence Bay, Whale Point, Cape
- â€œOr, rather, the names of Captain Harding,â€ said
Herbert, â€œof Mr. Spilett, of Neb !â€”â€
â€œMy name!â€ cried Neb, showing his sparkling white teeth.
G THE ISLAND.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 147
â€œWhy not?â€ replied Pencroft. â€œPort Neb, that would
do very well! And Cape Gideonâ€”â€
â€œTI should prefer borrowing names from our country,â€
said the reporter, â€œwhich would remind us of America.â€
â€œYes, for the principal ones,â€ then said Cyrus Harding ;
â€œfor those of the bays and seas, I admit it willingly. We
might give to that vast bay on the east the name of Union
Bay, for example; to that large hollow on the south,
Washington Bay; to the mountain upon which we are
standing, that of Mount Franklin; to that lake which is
extended under our eyes, that of .Lake Grant; nothing
could be better, my friends. These names will. recall our
country, and those of the great citizens who have honoured
it; but for the rivers, gulfs, capes, and promontories, which
we perceive from the top of this mountain, rather let us
choose names which will recall their particular shape.
They will impress themselves better on our memory, and
at the same time will be more practical. The shape of the
island is so strange that we shall not be troubled to imagine
what it resembles. As to the streams which we do not
know as yet, in different parts of the forest which we shall
explore later, the creeks which afterwards will be dis-
covered, we can christen them as we find them. What do
you think, my friends ?â€
The engineerâ€™s proposal was unanimously agreed to by
his companions. The island was spread out under their
148 THE MYSTERIOUS: ISLAND.
eyes like a map, and they had only to give names to all its
angles and points. Gideon Spilett would write them down,
and the geographical nomenclature of the island would be
. First of all, they named the two bays and the mountain,
Union. Bay, Washington Bay, and Mount Franklin, as:the
engineer had suggested.
â€œNow,â€ said the reporter, â€œto this peninsula at the
south-west of the island, I propose to give the name .of
Serpentine Peninsula, and that of Reptile-end to the bent
tail which terminates it, for it is just-like a reptileâ€™s Ge â€
- â€œ Adopted,â€ said the engineer.
â€œNow,â€ said Herbert, pointing t : the other extremity of
the island, â€œlet us call this gulf which is so singularly like
a pair of open jaws, Shark Gulf.â€
â€œCapital!â€ cried Pencroft, â€œand we can complete the
resemblance by naming the two parts of the jaws Mandible
. â€œBut there are two capes,â€ observed the reporter.
â€œWell,â€ replied Pencroft, â€œwe can have North Mandible
Cape and South Mandible Cape.â€
â€œ They are inscribed,â€ said Spilett.
â€œThere is only the point at the south-eastern ac
of the island to be named,â€ said Pencroft.
â€œThat is, the extremity of Union oy ?â€ asked Her.
DROPPED â€˜FROM THE. CLOUDS. 149
â€œClaw Cape,â€ cried Neb directly, who also wished to be
Eadie to' some partâ€™ of his domain.
- In truth, Neb had found an â€˜excellent name, for this cape
was very like the powerful claw of the fantastic animal
which this singularly-shaped island represented.
Pencroft was delighted at the turn things had taken,
and. their imaginations soon gave to the river. which
furnished the settlers with drinking water and near which
the balloon had thrown them, the name of the Mercy, in
true gratitude to Providence. To the islet upon which the
castaways had first landed, the name of Safety Islatid;
to the plateau which crowned the high granite precipice
above the Chimneys, and from whence the â€˜gaze could
embrace the whole of â€˜the vast bay, the name of. Prospect
Heights. ea i
Lastly, all the massesâ€™ of impenetrable wood which
covered the Serpentine Peninsula were named the forests
of the Far West.
The nomenclature of the visible and known parts of the
island was thus finished, and later, they would complete it
as they made fresh discoveries. bee
-As to the pointsâ€™ of the compass, the engineer had
roughly fixedâ€™ them by the height â€˜and position of the sun,
which placed Union Bay and Prospect Heights to the east.
But the next day, by taking the exact hour of the rising
and setting of the sun, and by marking its position between
150 â€œTHE MYSTERIOUS: ISLAND.
this rising and setting, he reckoned to fix the north of the
island exactly, for, in consequence of its situation in the
southern hemisphere, the sun,.at the precise moment of its
culmination, passed in the north and not in the south, as,
in its apparent movement, it seems to. do, to those: places
situated in the northern: hemisphere.
Everything was finished, and the settlers had coly to
descend Mount Franklin to return to the Chimneys, when
Pencroft â€˜cried out,â€” :
â€œ Well! we are preciously stupid !â€
â€œWhy ?â€ asked Gideon Spilett, who had closed ie note-
book and risen to depart. mg
â€œWhy! our island! we have forgotten to christen it!â€
Herbert was going to propose to give it the engineer's
name, and all his companions would have applauded him,
when Cyrus Harding said simply,â€” .
â€œLet us give it the name of a great citizen, my friends;
of him who now struggles to defend the unity of the
American Republic! Let us call it Lincoln Island!â€
The engineerâ€™s proposal was replied to by three hurrahs.
And that evening, before sleeping, the new. colonists
talked of their-absent country ; they spoke of the terrible
war which stained it with blood; they could not doubt
that the South would soon.be subdued, and that the cause
of the North, the cause of justice, would triumph, thanks to
Grant, thanks to Lincoln!
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 151
Now this happened the 30th of March, 1865. They
little knew that sixteen days afterwards a frightful crime
would be committed in Washington, and that on Good
Friday Abraham Lincoln would fall by the hand of a
152 Â© THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
REGULATING THE WATCIIESâ€”PENCROFT IS SATISFIED
â€”A SUSPICIOUS SMOKEâ€”COURSE OF RED CREEKâ€”
THE FLORA OF LINCOLN ISLANDâ€”-THE FAUNAâ€”
MOUNTAIN PHEASANTSâ€”CHASING KANGAROOSâ€”AN
AGOUTI--LAKE GRANTâ€”RETURN TO THE CHIMNEYS
THEY now began the descent of the mountain. Climbing
down the crater, they went round the cone and reached
their encampment of the previous night. Pencroft thought
it must be breakfast-time, and the watches of the reporter
and engineer were therefore consulted to find out the
That of Gideon Spilett had been preserved from the sea-
water, as he had been thrown at once on the sand out of
reach of the waves. It was an instrument of excellent
guality, a perfect pocket chronometer, which the reporter
had not forgotten to wind up carefully every day.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 153
As to the engineer's watch, it, of course, had stopped
during the time which he had passed on the downs.
The engineer now wound it up, and ascertaining by the
height of the sun that it must be about nine oâ€™clock in the
morning, he put his watch at that hour.
Gideon Spilett was about to do the same, when the
engineer, stopping his hand, said,â€”
â€œNo, my dear Spilett, wait. You have kept the Rich-
mond time, have you not ?â€
â€œ Consequently, your watch is set by the meridian of that
town, which is almost that of Washington ?â€
â€œVery well, keep it thus. Content yourself with wind-
ing it up very exactly, but do not touch the hands. This
may be of use to us.â€
â€œWhat will be the good of that ?â€ thought the sailor.
They ate, and so heartily, that the store of game and
almonds was totally exhausted. But Pencroft was not at
all uneasy, they would supply themselves on the way.
Top, whose share had been very much to his taste, would
know how to find some fresh game among the brushwood.
Moreover, the sailor thought of simply asking the engineer
to manufacture some powder and one or two fowling-
pieces; he supposed there would be no difficulty in
154 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
On leaving the plateau, the captain proposed to his com-
panions to return to the Chimneys by a new way. He
wished to reconnoitre Lake Grant, so magnificently framed
in trees. They therefore followed the crest of one of
the spurs, between which the creekâ€™ that supplied the
lake probably had its source. In talking, the settlers
already employed the names which they had just chosen,
which singularly facilitated the exchange of their ideas.
Herbert and Pencroftâ€”the one young and the other very
boyishâ€”were enchanted, and whilst walking, the sailor
â€œHey, Herbert! how capital it sounds! It will be
impossible to lose ourselves, my boy, since, whether we
follow the way to Lake Grant, or whether we join the
Mercy through the woods of the Far West, we shall be
certain to arrive at Prospect Heights, and, consequently, at
Union Bay!â€ -
It had been agreed, that without forming a compact
band, the settlers should not stray away from each other.
It was very certain that the thick forests of the island were
inhabited by dangerous aninials, and it was prudent to be
on their guard. In general, Pencroft, Herbert, and Neb,
walked first, preceded by Top, who poked his nose into
every bush. The reporter and the engineer went together,
1 An American name for a small watercourse.
TOWARDS TEN Oâ€™CLOCK THE LITTLE BAND DESCENDED THE LAST
DECLIVITIES OF MOUNT FRANKLIN.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 155
Gideon Spilett ready to note every incident, the
engineer silent for the most part, and only stepping aside
to pick up sometimes one thing, sometimes another, a
mineral or vegetable substance, which he put into his
pocket without making any remark.
â€œWhat can he be picking up?â€ muttered Pencroft. â€œTI
have looked in vain for anything thatâ€™s worth the trouble
of stooping for.â€
Towards tenâ€™ o'clock the little band descended the last
declivities of Mount Frenklin. As yet the ground
was scantily. strewn with bushes and trees. They
were walking over yellowish calcinated earth, forming a
plain of nearly a mile long, which extended to the edge of
the wood. Great blocks of that basalt, which, according to
Bischof, takes three hundred and fifty millions of years to
cool, strewed the plain, very confused in some places.
However, there were here no traces of lava, which was
spread more particularly over the northern-slopes.
Cyrus Harding expected to reach, without incident, tae
course of the creek, which he supposed flowed under the
trees at the border of the plain, when he saw Herbert
running hastily back, whilst Neb and the sailor were
hiding behind the rocks.
â€œWhat's the matter, my boy ?â€ asked Spilett.
â€œSmoke,â€ replied Herbert. â€œWe have seen smoke
amongst the rocks, a hundred paces from us,â€
156 â€œTHE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
â€œMen in this place?â€ cried the reporter.
â€œWe must avoid showing ourselves before knowing
with whom we have to deal,â€ replied Cyrus Harding. â€œI
trust that there are no natives on this island; I dread them
more than anything else. Where is Top?â€
â€œ Top is on before.â€
â€œ And he doesnâ€™t bark?â€
â€œThat is strange. However, we must try to call him
In a few moments, the engineer, Gideon Spilett, and
Herbert had rejoined their two companions, and like them,
they kept out of sight behind the heaps of basalt.
From thence they clearly saw smoke of a yellowish colour
rising in the air. .
. Top was recalled by a slight whistle from his master,
and the latter, signing to his companions to wait for him,
glided away among the rocks. The colonists, motionless,
anxiously awaited the result of this exploration, when a
shout from the engineer made them hasten forward. They
soon joined him, and were at once struck with a disagree-
able odour which impregnated the atmosphere.
The odour, easily recognized, was enough for the
engineer to.:guess. what the smoke was which at first, not
without cause, â€˜had startled him. â€”
â€œThis fire,â€ said he, â€œor rather, this smoke is produced
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 157
by nature alone. There is a sulphur spring there, which
will effectually cure all our sore throats.â€
â€˜Captain!â€ cried Pencroft. â€œWhat a pity that I
havenâ€™t got a cold!â€
The settlers then directed their steps towards the place
from which the smoke escaped. They there saw a sulphur
spring which flowed abundantly between the rocks, and its
waters discharged a strong sulphuric acid â€˜odour, after
having absorbed: the oxygen of the air.
Cyrus Harding, dipping in his hand, felt the water oily
to the touch. He tasted it and found it rather sweet. As
to its temperature, that he estimated at ninety-five degrees
Fahrenheit. Herbert having asked on what he based this
â€œItâ€™s quite simple, my boy,â€ said he, â€œfor, in plunging
my hand into the water, I felt no sensation either of heat
or cold. Therefore it has the same temperature as the
human body, which is about ninety-five degrees.â€
The sulphur spring not being of any actual use to the
settlers, they proceeded towards the thick border of the
forest, which began some hundred paces off.
There, as they had conjectured, the waters of the stream
flowed clear and limpid between high banks of red earth,
the colour of which betrayed the presence of oxide of iron.
From this-colour, the name of Red Creek was immediately
given to the watercourse,
158 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
It was only a large stream, deep and clear, formed of the
mountain water, which, half river, half tofrent, here rippling
peacefully over the sand, there chafing against the rocks or
dashing down in a cascade, ran towards the lake, over a
distance of a mile and. a half, its: breadth varying from
thirty to forty feet. Its waters were sweet, and it was
supposed. that those of the lake were so also. A fortunate
circumstance, in the event of their finding on its borders a
more suitable dwelling than the Chimneys.
As to the trees, which some hundred feet. downwards
shaded the banks of the creek, they belonged, for the most
part, to the species which abound in the temperate zone of
America and Tasmania, and no longer to those conifere
observed in that portion of the island already explored to
some miles from Prospect Heights. At this time of the
year, at the commencement of the month of April, which
represents. the month of October, in this hemisphere, that
is, the beginning of autumn, they were still in full leaf.
They consisted principally of casuarinas and eucalypti,
some of which next year would yield a sweet manna,
similar to the manna of the East. Clumps of Australian
cedars rose on the sloping banks, which were also covered
with the high grass called â€œtussacâ€ in New Holland ; but
the cocoa-nut, so abundant in the archipelagos of the
Pacific, seemed to be wanting in the island, the latitude,
doubtless, being too low.
DROPPED' FROM THE CLOUDS. 159
. â€œWhat.a pity!â€ said Herbert, â€œsuch a useful tree, and
which has such beautiful nuts!â€ :
As to the birds, they swarmed among the scanty branches.
of the eucalypti and casuarinas, which did not hinder the
display of their wings. Black, white, or grey cockatoos,
paroquets, with plumage of all colours, kingfishers of a
sparkling green. and crowned with red, blue lories, and
various other birds, appeared on all sides, as through a
prism, fluttering about and producing a deafening clamour.
Suddenly, a strange concert of discordant voices resounded
in the midst of a thicket. The settlers heard successively
the song of birds, the cry of quadrupeds, and a sort of
clacking which they might have believed to have escaped
from the lips of anative. Neb and Herbert rushed towards
the bush, forgetting even the most elementary principles of
prudence. Happily, they found there, neither a formidable
wild beast nor a dangerous native, but merely half a dozen:
mocking and singing birds, known as â€˜mountain pheasants.:
A few skilful blows from a stick soon put an end to their
concert, and procured excellent food for the eveningâ€™s
Herbert also discovered some magnificent. pigeons with
bronzed. wings, some superbly crested, others draped â€˜in
green, like their congeners at Port-Macquarie ; but it was
impossible to reach them,.or the crows and magpies which
flew away in flocks
160 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
A charge of small shot would have made great slaughter
amongst these birds, but the hunters were still limited to
sticks and stones, and these primitive weapons proved â€”y
Their insufficiency was still more clearly shown when a
troop of quadrupeds, jumping, bounding, making leaps of
thirty. feet, regular. flying mammifere, fled over the thickets,
so quickly and at such a height, that one would have
thought that they passed from one tree to another like
â€œKangaroos!â€ cried Herbert
â€œ Are they good to eat?â€ asked Pencroft.
â€œ Stewed,â€ jee the nee â€œtheir flesh is equal to
the best venison !â€”
Gideon Spilett had not finished this exciting sentence
when the sailor, followed by Neb and. Herbert, darted on
the kangarooâ€™s track. Cyrus Harding called them back in
vain. But it was in vain too for the hunters,to pursue such
agile game, which went bounding away like balls. After a
chase of five minutes, they lost their breath, and at the same
time all sight of the creatures, which disappeared in the
wood. Top was not more successful than his masters,
â€œCaptain,â€ said Pencroft, when the engineer and the
reporter had rejoined them, â€œCaptain, you see quite well
we canâ€™t get on unless we make a few guns. Will that be
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 161
â€œPerhaps,â€ replied the engineer, â€œbut we will begin by
first manufacturitig some bows and arrows, and I donâ€™t
doubt that you will become as clever in the use of them
as the Australian hunters.â€
â€œBows and arrows!â€ said Pencroft scornfully. â€œ Thatâ€™s
all very well for children!â€
â€œDonâ€™t be proud, friend Pencroft,â€ replied the reporter.
â€œ Bows and arrows were sufficient for centuries to stain the
earth with blood. Powder is but a thing of yesterday, and
war is as old as the human raceâ€”unhappily!â€
â€œFaith, thatâ€™s true, Mr. Spilett,â€ replied the sailor,
â€œand I always speak too quickly. You must excuse
Meanwhile, Herbert, constant to his favourite science,
Natural History, reverted to the kangaroos, saying,â€”
â€œ Besides, we had to deal just now with the species which
is most difficult to catch. They were giants with long
grey fur; but if I am not mistaken, there exist black and
red kangaroos, rock kangaroos, and rat kangaroos, which
are more easy to get hold of. It is reckoned that there are
about a dozen speciesâ€”â€
â€œHerbert,â€ replied the sailor sententiously, â€œthere is
only one species of kangaroo to me, that is â€˜kangaroo on
the spit,â€™ and itâ€™s just the one we havenâ€™t got this evening !â€
They could not help laughing at Master Pencroftâ€™s new
classification. . The honest sailor did not hide his regret at
162 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
being reduced for dinner to the singing pheasants, but
fortune once more showed itself obliging to him.
In fact, Top, who felt that his interest was concerned,
went and ferreted everywhere with an instinct doubled by
a ferocious appetite. It was even probable that if some
piece of game did fall into his clutches, none would be left
for the hunters, if Top was hunting on his own account;
but Neb watched him and he did well.
Towards three oâ€™clock the dog disappeared in the brush-
wood, and gruntings showed that he was engaged in a
struggle with some animal. Neb rushed after him, and
soon saw Top eagerly devouring a quadruped, which ten
seconds later would have been past recognizing in Topâ€™s
stomach. But fortunately the dog had fallen upon a
brood, and besides the victim he was devouring, two other
rodentsâ€”the animals in question belonged to that orderâ€”
lay strangled on the turf.
Neb reappeared triumphantly holding one of the rodents
in each hand. Their size exceeded that of a rabbit, their
hair was yellow, mingled with greenish spots, and they had
the merest rudiments of tails,
The citizens of the Union were at no loss for the right
name of these rodents. They were maras, a sort of agouti,
a little larger than their congeners of tropical countries,
regular American rabbits, with long ears, jaws armed on
each side with five molars, which distinguish the agouti.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 163
â€œHurrah!â€ cried Pencroft,.â€œthe roast has arrived! and
now we can go home.â€
The walk, interrupted for an instant, was resumed. The
limpid waters of the Red Creek flowed under an arch of
casuarinas, banksias, and gigantic gum-trees. Superb lilacs
rose to a height of twenty feet. Other arborescent species,
unknown to the young naturalist, bent over the stream,
which could be heard murmuring beneath the bowers of
Meanwhile the stream grew much wider, and Cyrus
Harding supposed that they would soon reach its mouth.
In fact, on emerging from beneath a thick clump of
beautiful trees, it appeared all at once.
The explorers had arrived on the western shore of Lake
Grant. The place was well worth looking at. This
extent of water, of a circumference of nearly seven miles
and an area of two hundred and fifty acres, reposed in a
border of diversified trees. Towards the east, through a
curtain of verdure, picturesquely raised in some places,
sparkled an horizon of sea. The lake was curved at the
north, which contrasted with the sharp outline of its lower
part. Numerous aquatic birds frequented the shores of
this little Ontario, in which the thousand isles of its
American â€˜namesake were represented by a rock which
emerged from its surface, some hundred feet from the
southern shore. There lived in harmony several couples
164 _ THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
of kingfishers perched on a stone, grave, motionless, watch-
ing for fish, then darting down, they plunged in with a
sharp cry, and reappeared with their prey in their beaks.
On the shores and on the islets, strutted wild ducks,
pelicans, water-hens, red-beaks, philedons, furnished with
a tongue like a brush, and one or two specimens of the
splendid menura, the tail of which expands gracefully like
As to the water of the lake, it was sweet, limpid, rather
dark, and from certain bubblings, and the concentric circles
which crossed each other on the surface, it could not be
doubted that it abounded in fish.
â€œThis lake is really beautiful!â€ said Gideon Spilett.
â€œWe could live on its borders!â€
â€œ We will live there!â€ replied Harding.
The settlers, wishing to return to the Chimneys by the
shortest way, descended towards the angle formed on the
south by the junction of the lakeâ€™s bank. It was not without
difficulty that they broke a path through the thickets and
brushwood which had never been put aside by the hand of
man, and they thus went towards the shore, so as to arrive
at the north of Prospect Heights. Two miles were cleared
in this direction, and then, after they had passed the last
curtain of trees, appeared the plateau, ceaPrice with thick
turf, and beyond that the infinite sea.
To return to the Chimneys, it was enough to cross the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 165
plateau obliquely for the space of a mile, and then to
descend to the elbow formed by the first dÃ©tour of the
Mercy. But the engineer desired: to know how and where
the overplus of the water from the lake escaped, and the
exploration was prolonged under the trees for a mile and a
half towards the north. It was most probable that an
overfall existed somewhere, and doubtless through a cleft
in the granite. This lake was only, in short, an immense
centre basin, which was filled by degrees by the creek, and
its waters must necessarily pass to the sea by some fall.
If it was so, the engineer thought that it might perhaps ke
possible to utilize this fall and borrow its power, actually lost
without profit to any one. They continued then to follow
the shores of Lake Grant by climbing the plateau; but,
after having gone a mile in this direction, Cyrus Harding
had not been able to discover the overfail, which, however,
must exist somewhere.
It was then half-past four. In order to prepare for
dinner it was necessary that the settlers should return to
their dwelling. The little band retraced their steps, therc-
fore, and by the left bank of the Mercy Cyrus Harding and
his companions arrived at the Chimneys.
The fire was lighted, and Neb and Pencroft, on whom
the functions of cooks naturally devolved, to the one in his
quality of negro, to the other in that of sailor, quickly pre-
pared some broiled agouti, to which they did great justice.
166 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The repast at length terminated ; at the moment when
each one was about to give himself up to sleep, Cyrus
Harding drew from his pocket little specimens of different
sorts of minerals, and just said,â€”â€”
â€œMy friends, this is iron mineral, this a pyrite, this is
clay, this is lime, and this is coal. Nature gives us these
things. It is our business to make a right use of them.
To-morrow we will commence operations,â€
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 167
WHAT IS FOUND UPON TOPâ€”MANUFACTURING BOWS AND
' ARROWSâ€”A BRICK-FIELD~A POTTERYâ€”DIFFERENT
COOKING UTENSILSâ€”THE FIRST BOILED MEATâ€”
WORMWOODâ€”THE SOUTHERN CROSSâ€”AN IMPORTANT
â€œ WELL, Captain, where are we going to begin?â€ asked Pen-
croft next morning of the engineer.
â€œAt the beginning,â€ replied Cyrus Harding.
And in fact, the settlers were compelled to begin â€œat the
very beginning.â€ They did not possess even the tools
necessary for making tools, and they were not even in the
condition of nature, who, â€œhaving time, husbands her
strength.â€ They had no time, since they had to provide
for the immediate wants of their existence, and though,
profiting by acquired experience, they had nothing to
invent, still they had everything to make: their iron
and their steel were as yet only in the state of minerals,
168 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
their earthenware in the state of clay, their linen and their
clothes in-the state of textile material.
It must be said, however, that the settlers were â€œ menâ€
in the complete and higher sense of the word. The engineer
Harding could not have been seconded by more intelligent
companions, nor with more devotion and zeal. He had
tried them. He knew their abilities.
Gideon Spilett, a, talented reporter, having learned every-
thing so as to be able to speak of everything, would con-
tribute largely with his head and hands to the colonization
of the island. He would not draw back from any task: a
detcrmined sportsman, he would make a business of what
till then had only been a pleasure to him.
Herbert, a gallant boy, already remarkably well informed
in the natural sciences, would render great service to the
Neb was devotion personified. Clever, intelligent, inde-
fatigable, robust, with iron health, he knew a little about
the work of the forge, and could not fail to be very useful
in the colony.
As to Pencroft, he had sailed over every sea, a carpenter
in the dockyards at Brooklyn, assistant tailor in the vessels
of the state, gardener, cultivator, during his holidays, &c.,
and like all.seamen, fit for anything, he knew how to do
Ut would have been difficult to unite five men, better
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 169
fitted to struggle against fate, more certain to triumph
over it. :
â€œ At the beginning,â€ Cyrus Harding had said. Now this
beginning of which the engineer spoke was the construc-
tion of an apparatus which would serve to transform the
natural substances. The part which heat plays in these
transformations is known. Now fuel, wood or coal, was
ready for immediate use, an oven must be built to use it.
â€œ What is this oven for?â€ asked Pencroft.
â€œTo make the pottery which we have need of,â€ replied
â€œ And of what shall we make the oven ?â€
â€œ And the bricks ?â€
â€œWith clay. Let us start, my friends. To save trouble,
we will establish our manufactory at the place of pro-
duction. Neb will bring provisions, and there will be no
lack of fire to cook the food.â€
â€œNo,â€ replied the reporter; â€œbut if there is a lack of
food, for want of instruments for the chase?â€
â€œ Ah, if we only had a knife!â€ cried the sailor.
â€œWell?â€ asked Cyrus Harding.
- â€œWell! I would soon make a bow and arrows, and then
there would be plenty of game in the larder!â€
â€œYes, a knife, a sharp bladeâ€”â€ said the engineer, as if
he was speaking to himself.
170 TILE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
At this moment his eyes fell upon Top, who was run-
ning about on the shore. Suddenly Hardingâ€™s face became
â€œTop, here?â€ said he.
The dog came at his masterâ€™s call. The latter took Topâ€™s
head between his hands, and unfastening the collar which
the animal wore round his neck, he broke it in two, saying,â€”
â€œThere are two knives, Pencroft!â€
Two hurrahs from the sailor was the reply. Topâ€™s collar
was made of a thin piece of tempered steel. They had
only to sharpen it ona piece of sandstone, then to raise
the edge on a finer stone. Now sandstone was abundant
on the beach, and two hours after the stock of tools in the
colony consisted of two sharp blades, which were easily
fixed in solid handles,
The production of these their first tools was hailed as a
triumph. It was indeed a valuable result of their labour,
and a very opportune one. They set out. Cyrus Harding
proposed that they should return to the western shore of
the lake, where the day before he had noticed the clayey
ground of which he possessed a specimen. They therefore
followed the bank of the Mercy, traversed Prospect Heights,
and after a walk of five miles or more they reached a glade,
situated two hundred feet from Lake Grant.
On the way Herbert had discovered a tree, the branches
of which the Indians of South America employ for making
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 17I
their bows, It was the crejimba, of the palm family, which
does not bear edible fruit. Long straight branches were
cut, the leaves stripped off; it was shaped, stronger in the
middle, more slender at the extremities, and nothing
remained to be done but to find a plant fit to make the
bow-string. This was the â€œ hibiscus heterophyllus,â€ which
furnishes fibres of such remarkable tenacity that they have
been compared to the tendons of animals. Pencroft thus
obtained bows of tolerable strength, for which he only
wanted arrows. These were easily made with straight stiff
branches, without knots, but the points with which they
must be armed, that is to say, a substance to serve in lieu
of iron, could not be met with so easily. But Pencroft
said, that having done his part of the work, chance would
do the rest.
The settlers arrived on the ground which had been
discovered the day before. Being composed of the sort
of clay which is used for making bricks and tiles, it was
very useful for the work in question. There was no great
difficulty in it. It was enough to scour the clay with sand,
then to mould the bricks and bake them by the heat of a
Generally bricks are formed in moulds, but the engineer
contented himself with making them by hand. All that
day and the day following were employed in this work.
The clay, soaked in water, was mixed by the feet and
172 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
hands of the manipulators, and then divided into pieces
of equal size. A practised workman can make, without
a machine, about ten thousand bricks in twelve hours; but
in their two daysâ€™ work the five brickmakers on Lincoln
Island had not made more than three thousand, which
were ranged near each other, until the time when their
complete: desiccation would permit them to be used in
building the oven, that is to say, in three or four days.
It was on the 2nd of April that Harding had employed
himself in fixing the orientation of the island, or, in other
words, the precise spot where the sun rose. The day before
he had noted exactly the hour when the sun disappeared
beneath the horizon, making allowance for the refraction.
This morning he noted, no less exactly, the hour at which
it reappeared. Between this setting and rising twelve
hours twenty-four minutes passed. Then, six hours,
twelve minutes after its rising, the sun on this. day
would exactly pass the meridian, and the point of the
sky which it occupied at this moment would be the
At the said hour, Cyrus marked this point, and putting
in a line with the sun tivo trees which would serve him for
1 Indeed at this time of the year and in this latitude the sun rises at
33 minutes past 5 in the morning, and sets at 17 minutes past 6 in the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 173
marks, he thus obtained an invariable meridian for his
The settlers employed the two days before the oven
was built in collecting fuel. Branches were cut all round
the glade, and they picked up all the fallen wood under
the trees. They were also able to hunt with greater
success, since Pencroft now possessed some dozen arrows
armed with sharp points. It was Top who had furnished
these points, by bringing in a porcupine, rather inferior
eating, but of great value, thanks to the quills with which
it bristled. These quills were fixed firmly at the ends of the
arrows, the flight of which was made more certain by
some cockatoosâ€™ feathers. The reporter and Herbert soon
became very skilful archers. Game of all sorts in con-
sequence abounded at the Chimneys, capybaras, pigeons,
agoutis, grouse, &c. The greater part of these animals
were killed in the part of the forest on the left
bank of the Mercy, to which they gave the name of
Jacamar Wood, in remembrance of the bird which Pen-
croft and Herbert had pursued when on their first
This game was eaten fresh, but they preserved some
capybara hams, by smoking them above a fire of green
wood, after having perfumed them with sweet-smelling
leaves. However, this food,although verystrengthening, was
always roast upon roast, and the party would have been
174 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
delighted to hear some soup bubbling on the hearth, but
they must wait till a pot could be made, and, consequently,
till the oven was built.
During these excursions, which were not extended far
from the brick-field, the hunters could discern the recent
passage of animals of a large size, armed with powerful
claws, but they could not recognize the species.. Cyrus
Harding advised them to be very careful, as the forest
probably enclosed many dangerous beasts.
And he did right. Indeed, Gideon Spilett and Herbert
one day saw an animal which resembled a jaguar.. Hap-
pily the creature did not attack them, or they might not
have escaped without a severe wound. Assoon as he could
get a regular weapon, that is to say, one of the guns which
Pencroft begged for, Gideon Spilett resolved to make des-
perate war against the ferocious beasts, and exterminate
them from the island.
The Chimneys during these few days was not made more
comfortable, for the engineer hoped to discover, or build if
necessary, a more convenient dwelling. They contented
themselves with spreading moss and dry leaves on the sand
of the passages, and on these primitive couches the tired
workers slept soundly.
They also reckoned the days they had passed on Lincoln
Island, and from that time kept a regular account. The
5th of April, which was Wednesday, was twelve days
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 175
from the time whÃ©n the wind threw the castaways on
On the 6th of April, at daybreak, the engineer and his
companions were collected in the glade, at the place where
they were going to perform the operation of baking the
bricks. Naturally this had to be in the open air, and not
in a kiln, or rather, the agglomeration of bricks made an
enormous kiln, which would bake itself. The fuel, made
of well-prepared fagots, was laid on the ground and sur-
rounded with several rows of diied bricks, which soon
formed an enormous cube, to the exterior of which they
contrived air-holes. -The work lasted all day, and it was
not till the evening that they set fire to the fagots. No
one slept that night, all watching carefully to keep up
The operation lasted forty-eight hours, and succeeded
perfectly. It then became necessary to leave the smoking
mass to cool, and during this time Neb and Pencroft,
guided by Cyrus Harding, brought, on a hurdle made of
interlaced branches, loads of carbonate of lime and common
stones, which were very abundant, to the north of the lake,
These stones, when decomposed by heat, made a very
strong quicklime, greatly increased by slacking, at least as
pure as if it had been produced by the calcination of
chalk or marble. Mixed with sand the lime made excellent
176 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
The result of these different works was, that, on the oth
of April, the engineer had at his disposal a quantity of
prepared lime and some thousands of bricks.
Without losing an instant, therefore, they began the
construction of a kiln to bake the pottery, which was indis-
pensable for their domestic use. They succeeded without
much difficulty. Five days after, the kiln was supplied with
coal, which the engineer had discovered lying open to the
sky towards the mouth of the Red Creek, and the first
smoke escaped from a chimney twenty feet high. The glade
was transformed into a manufactory, and Pencroft was not
far wrong in believing that from this kiln would issue all
the products of modern industry.
In the meantime what the settlers first manufactured was
a common pottery in which to cook their food. The chief
material was clay, to which Harding added a little lime and
quartz. This paste made regular â€œ pipe-clay,â€ with which
they manufactured bowls, cups moulded on stones of a
proper size, great jars and pots to hold water, &c. The
shape of these objects was clumsy and â€˜defective, but after
they had been baked in a high temperature, the kitchen of
the Chimneys was provided with a number of utensils, as
precious to the settlers as the most beautifully enamelled
china. We must mention here that Pencroft, desirous to
know. if the clay thus prepared was worthy of its name of
pipe-clay, made some large pipes, which he thought charm-
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 177
ing but for which, alas! he had no tobacco, and that was a
great privation to Pencroft. â€œBut tobacco will come, like
everything else!â€ he repeated, in a burst of absolute con-
This work lasted till the 15th of April, and the time
was well employed. The settlers, having begome potters,
made nothing but pottery. When it suited Cyrus Harding
to change them into smiths, they would become smiths.
But the next day being Sunday, and also Easter Sunday,
all agreed to sanctify the day by rest. These Americans
were religious men, scrupulous observers of the precepts
of the Bible, and their situation could not but develope
sentiments of confidence towards the Author of all things.
On the evening of the 15th of April they returned to the
Chimneys, carrying with them the pottery, the furnace being
extinguished until they could put it toa new use. Their
return was marked by a fortunate incident; the engineer
discovered a substance which replaced tinder. It is known
that a spungy, velvety flesh is procured from a certain
mushroom of the genus polyporous. Properly prepared, it
is extremely inflammable, especially when it has been
previously saturated with gunpowder, or boiled in a solu-
tion of nitrate or chlorate of potash. But, till then, they
had not found any of these polypores or even any of the
morels which could replace them. On this day, the engi-
neer, seeing a plant belonging to the wormwood genus, the
178 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
principal species of which are absinthe, balm-mint, tarragon,
&c., gathered several tufts, and, presenting them to the
â€˜Here, Pencroft, this will please you.â€
Pencroft looked attentively at the plant, covered with
long silky hair, the leaves being clothed with soft down.
â€œWhat's that, captain?â€ asked Pencroft.. â€œIs it to-
â€œNo,â€ replied Harding, â€œit is wormwood ; Chinese worta-
wood to the learned, but to us it will be tinder.â€
When the wormwood was properly dried it provided
them with a very inflammable substance, especially after-
wards when the engineer had impregnated it with nitrat .: of
potash, of which the island possessed several beds, ind
which is in truth saltpetre.
The colonists had a good:supper that evening. Neb pre-
pared some agouti soup, a smoked capybara ham, to which
was added the boiled tubercules of the â€œcaladium macro-
rhizum,â€ an herbaceous plant of the arum family. They had
an excellent taste, and were very nutritious, being something
similar to the substance which is sold in England under
the name of â€œ Portland sago ;â€ they were also a good sub-
stitute for bread, which the settlers in Lincoln Island did
not yet possess.
When supper was finished, before sleeping, Harding and
his companions went to take the air on the beach. It was
DROPPED FROM TIIE CLOUDS. 179
eight oâ€™clock in the evening ; the night was magnificent.
The moon, which had been full five days before, had not
yet risen, but the horizon was already silvered by those
soft, pale shades which might be called the dawn of the
moon. At the southern zenith glittered the circumpolar
constellations, and above all the Southern Cross, which
some days before the engineer had greeted on the summit
of Mount Franklin.
Cyrus Harding gazed for some time at this splendid
constellation, which has at its summit and at its base
two stars of the first magnitude, at its left arm a star
of the second, and at its right arm a star of the third
Then, after some minutesâ€™ thoughtâ€”
â€œHerbert,â€ he asked of the lad, â€œis not this the 15th
â€œYes, captain,â€ replied Herbert.
â€œWell, if I am not mistaken, to-morrow will be one of
the four days in the year in which the real time is identical
with average time; that is to say, my boy, that to-morrow,
to within some seconds, the sun will pass the meridian just
at mid-day by the clocks. If the weather is fine I think
that I shall obtain the longitude of the island with an ap-
proximation of some degrees.â€
â€œWithout instruments, without sextant?â€ asked Gideon
180 TITE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œYes,â€ replied the engineer. â€œ Also, since the night is
clear, I will try, this very evening, to obtain our latitude
by calculating the height of the Southern Cross, that is,
from the southern pole above the horizon. You under-
stand, my friends, that before undertaking the work of
installation in earnest it is not enough to have found out
that this land is an island; we must, as nearly. as possible,
know at what distance it is situated, either from the
American continent or Australia, or from the principal
archipelagos of the Pacific.â€
â€œTn fact,â€ said the reporter, â€œinstead of building a house
it would be more important to build a boat, if by chance
we are not more than a hundred miles from an inhabited
â€œThat is why,â€ returned Harding, â€œI am going to try
this evening to calculate the latitude of Lincoln Island,
and to-morrow, at mid-day, I will try to calculate the
If the engineer had possessed a sextant, an apparatus
with which the angular distance of objects can be
measured with great precision, there would have been
no difficulty in the operation. This evening by the height
of the pole, the next day by the passing of the sun at
the meridian, he would obtain the position of the island.
But as they had not one he would have to supply the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 181
_ Harding then entered the Chimneys. By the light of
the fire he cut two little flat rulers, which he joined together
at one end so as to form a pair of compasses, whose legs
could separate or come together. The fastening was fixed
with a strong acacia thorn which was found in the wood
pile. This instrument finished, the engineer returned to
the beach, but as it was necessary to take the height of
the pole from above a clear horizon, that is, a sea horizon,
and as Claw Cape hid the southern horizon, he was obliged
to look fora more suitable station. The best would evi-
dently have been the shore exposed directly to the south ;
but the Mercy would have to be crossed, and that was a
difficulty. Harding resolved, in consequence, to make his
observation from Prospect Heights, taking into considera-
tion its height above the level of the seaâ€”a height which
he intended to calculate next day by a simple process of
The settlers, therefore, went to the plateau, ascending
the left bank of the Mercy, and placed themselves on the
edge which looked north-west and south-east, that is, above
the curiously-shaped rocks which bordered the river.
This part of the plateau commanded the heights of the
left bank, which sloped away to the extremity of Claw
Cape, and to the southern side of the island. No obstacle
intercepted their gaze, which swept the horizon in a semi-
circle from the cape to Reptile End. To the south the
182 , THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
horizon, lighted by the first rays of the moon, was very
clearly defined against the sky. |
At this moment the Southern Cross presented itself to
the observer in an inverted position, the star Alpha marking
its base, which is nearer to the southern pole.
This constellation is not situated as near to. the antarctic
pole as the Polar Star is to the arctic pole. The star
Alpha is about twenty-seven degrees from it, but. Cyrus
Harding knew this and made allowance for it in his
calculation. He took care also to observe the moment
when it passed the meridian below the pole, which. would
simplify the operation.
Cyrus Harding pointed one leg of the compasses te the
sea horizon, the other to Alpha, and the.space between. the
two legs gave him the angular distance which separated
Alpha from the horizon. In order to fix the angle ob-
tained, he fastened with thorns the two pieces of wood on
a third placed transversely, so that their separation should
be properly maintained.
That done, there was only the ee to calculate by:
bringing back the observation to the level of the sea,
taking into consideration the depression of the horizon,
which would necessitate measuring the height of theâ€™ cliff
The value of this. angle would give the height of Alpha,
and consequently that of the pole above the horizon, that
is to say, the latitude of the island, since the latitude of a
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 183
point of the globe is always equal to the height of the
pole above the horizon of this point.
The calculations were left for the next day, and at ten
oâ€™clock every one was sleeping soundly.
184 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
MEASURING THE CLIFFâ€”AN APPLICATION OF THE THEO-
REM OF SIMILAR TRIANGLESâ€”LATITUDE OF THE
ISLANDâ€”EXCURSION TO THE NORTHâ€”AN OYSTER-
BEDâ€”PLANS FOR THE FUTUREâ€”THE SUN PASSING
THE MERIDIAN â€” THE LONGITUDE OF LINCOLN
THE next day, the 16th of April, and Easter Sunday, the
settlers issued from the Chimneys at daybreak, and pro-
ceeded to wash their linen. The engineer intended to
manufacture soap as scon as he could procure the neces-
sary materialsâ€”soda or potash, fat or oil. The important
question of renewing their wardrobe would be treated of
in the proper time and place. At any rate their clothes
would last at least six months longer, for they were strong,
and could resist the wear of manual labour. But all would
depend on the situation of the island with regard to in-
THE SETTLERS TURNED WASHERWOMEN.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 185
habited land. This would be settled to-day if the weather
-The sun rising above a clear horizon, announced a magni-
ficent day, one of those beautiful autumn days which
are like the last farewells of the warm season.
It was now necessary to complete the observations of
the evening before by measuring the height of the cliff
above the level of the sea.
â€œShall you not need an instrument similar to the one
which you used yesterday ?â€ said Herbert to the engineer. .
â€œNo, my boy,â€ replied the latter, â€œwe are going to
proceed differently, but in as precise a way.â€
Herbert, wishing to learn everything he could, followed
the engineer to the beach. Pencroft, Neb, and the reporter
remained behind and occupied themselves in different
Cyrus Harding had provided himself with a straight
stick, twelve feet long, which he had measured as exactly
asâ€™ possible by comparing it with his own height, which
he knew to a hair. Herbert carried a plumb-line which
Harding had given him, that is to say, a simple stonÃ©
fastened to the end of a flexible fibre. Having reached a
spot about twenty feet from the edge of the beach, and
nearly five hundred feet from the cliff, which rose per-
pendicularly, Harding thrust the pole two feet into the
sand, and wedging it up carefully, he managed by means
186 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
of the plumb-line to erect it perpendicularly with the plane
of the horizon.
That done, he retired the necessary distance, when, lying
on the sand, his eye glanced at the same time at the top
of the pole and the crest of the cliff. He carefully marked
the place with a little stick.
Then addressing Herbertâ€”
â€œDo you know the first principles of geometry ?â€ he
â€œ Slightly, captain,â€ replied Herbert, who did not wish to
put himself forward.
â€œYou remember what are the properties of two similar
â€œYes,â€ replied Herbert; â€œtheir homologous sides are
â€œWell, my boy, I have just constructed two similar
right-angled triangles; the first, the smallest, has for its
sides the perpendicular pole, the distance which separates
the little stick from the foot of the pole, and my visual ray
for hypothenuse; the second has for its sides the perpen-
dicular cliff, the height of which we wish to measure, the
distance which separates the little stick from the bottom of
the cliff, and my visual ray also forms its hypothenuse,
which proves to be the prolongation of that of the first
â€œ Ah, captain, I understand!â€ cried Herbert.
CALCULATING THE HEIGHT OF THE CLIFF.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 187
â€œAs the distance from the stick to the pole is to the
distance from the stick to the base of the cliff, so is the
height of the pole to the height of the cliff.â€
â€œJust so, Herbert,â€ replied the engineer; â€œand when
we have measured the two first distances, knowing the
height of the pole, we shall only have a sum in proportion
to do, which will give us the height of the cliff, and will
save us the trouble of measuring it directly.â€
The two horizontal distances were found out by means
of the pole, whose length above the sand was exactly ten
The first distance was fifteen-feet between the stick and
the place where the pole was thrust into the sand.
The second distance between the stick and the bottom
of the cliff was five hundred feet.
These measurements finished, Cyrus Harding and the
lad returned to the Chimneys.
The engineer then took a flat stone which he had brought
back from: one of his previous excursions, a sort of slate,
on which it was easy to trace figures with a sharp shell.
He then proved the following proportions :â€”
500 x IO = 5000
15 = 333: 3
188 _ THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
From which it was proved that the granite cliff measured
333 feet in height.
Cyrus-Harding then took the instrument which he had
made the evening before, the space between its two legs
giving the angular distance between the star Alpha and
the horizon. He measured, very exactly, the opening of
this: angle on a circumference which he divided into 360
equal parts. Now, this angle, by adding to it the twenty-
seven degrees which separated Alpha from the antarctic
pole, and by reducing to the level of the sea the height of
the cliff on which the observation had been made, was'
found to be fifty-three degrees. These fifty-three degrees
being subtracted from ninety degreesâ€”the distance from
the pole to the equatorâ€”there remained thirty-seven
degrees. Cyrus Harding concluded, therefore, that Lincoln
Island was situated on the thirty-seventh degree of the
southern latitude, or taking into consideration through the
imperfection of the performance, an error of five degrees,
that it must be situated between the thirty-fifth and the
There was only the longitude to be obtained, and the
position of the island would be determined. The engineer
hoped to attempt this the same day, at twelve oâ€™clock, at
which moment the sun would pass the meridian.
It was decided that Sunday should be spent in a walk,
or rather an exploring expedition, to that side of the island
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 189
between the north of the lake and Shark Gulf, and if there
was time they would push their discoveries to the northern
side of Cape South Mandible. They would breakfast on
the downs, and not return till evening.
At half-past eight the little band was following the
edge of the channel. On_ the other side, on Safety
Islet, numerous â€˜birds â€œwere gravely strutting. They
were divers, easily recognized by their cry, which much
resembles the braying of a donkey. Pencroft only con-
sidered them in an eatable point of view, and learnt with
some satisfaction that their flesh, though blackish, is not
bad food. .
Great amphibious creatures could also be seen crawling
on the sandâ€™; seals, doubtless, who appeared to have chosen
the islet for a place of refuge. It was impossible to think
of those animals in an alimentary point of view, for their
oily fleshâ€™ â€˜is detestable ; however, Cyrus Harding observed
them attentively, and without making known his idea, he
announced to his companions that very soon they would
pay a visit to the islet. The beach was strewn with innu-
merable shells, some of which would have rejoiced the
heart of a â€˜conchologist ; there were, among others, the
phasianella, the terebratula, &c. But what would be of
more use, was the discovery, by Neb, at low tide, of a
large oyster-bed, among the rocks, nearly five miles from
190 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œ Neb will not have lost his day,â€ cried Pencroft, looking
at the spacious oyster-bed.
â€œTt is really a fortunate discovery,â€ said the reporter,
â€œand as it is said that each oyster produces yearly from
fifty to sixty thousand eggs, we shall have an inexhaustible
â€œOnly I believe that the oyster is not very nourishing,â€
â€œNo,â€ replied Harding. â€œThe oyster contains very
little nitrogen, and if a man lived exclusively on them,
he would. have to eat not less than fifteen to sixteen dozen
â€œCapital!â€ replied Pencroft. â€œWe might swallow
dozens and dozens without exhausting the bed. Shall
we take some for breakfast ?â€
And without waiting for a reply to his proposal, know-
ing that it would be approved of, the sailor and Neb
detached a quantity of the molluscs. They put them ina
sort of net of hibiscus fibre, which Neb had manufactured,
and which already contained food ; they then continued to
climb the coast between the downs and the sea.
From time to time Harding consulted his watch, so as
to be prepared in time for the solar observation, which had
to be made exactly at mid-day.
All that part of the island was very barren as far as the
point which closed Union Bay, and which had received
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 1Qr
the name of Cape South Mandible. Nothing could be
seen there but sand and shells, mingled with dÃ©bris of lava.
A few sea-birds frequented this desolate coast, gulls, great
albatrosses, as well as wild duck, for which Pencroft
had a great fancy. He tried to knock some over with
an arrow, but without result, for they seldom perched, and
he could not hit them on the wing.
This led the sailor to repeat to the engineer,â€”
â€œYou see,.captain, so long as we have not one or two
fowling-pieces, we shall never get anything!â€
â€œDoubtless, Pencroft,â€ replied the reporter, â€œbut it
depends on you. Procure us some iron for the barrels,
steel for the hammers, saltpetre, coal, and sulphur for
powder, mercury and nitric acid for the fulminate, and
lead for the shot, and the captain wil! make us first-rate
â€œOh!â€ replied the engineer, â€œwe might, no doubt, find
all these substances on the island, but a gun is a delicate
instrument, and needs very particular tools. However, we
shall see later !â€
â€œWhy,â€ cried Pencroft, â€œwere we obliged to throw over-
board all the weapons we had with us in the car, all our
implements, even our pocket-knives ?â€
â€œBut if we had not thrown them away, Pencroft, the
balloon would have thrown us to the bottom of the sea!â€
192 THE. MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
â€œWhat you say is true, my boy,â€ replied the sailor.
Then passing to another idea,â€”
â€œ Think,â€ said he, â€œhow astounded Jonathan Forster and
his companions must have been when, next morning, they
found the place empty, and the machine flown away !â€
â€œTam utterly indifferent about knowing what they may
have thought,â€ said the reporter.
â€œTt was all my idea, that!â€ said Pencroft, with a satis-
fied air. ; Hh
â€œA splendid idea, Pencroft!â€ replied Gideon Spilett,
laughing, â€œ and which has placed us where we are.â€
â€œTI would. rather be here than in the hands of the
Southerners,â€ cried the sailor, â€œespecially since the captain
has been kind enough to come and join us again.â€
â€œSo would I, truly!â€ replied the reporter. â€œ Besides,
what do we want? Nothing.â€
â€˜If that is notâ€”everything!â€ replied Pencroft, laughing
and shrugging his-shoulders. â€œ But, some day or other,
we shall find means of going away !â€
â€œSooner, perhaps, than you imagine, my friends,â€ re-
marked the engineer, â€œif Lincoln Islandâ€™ is but a medium
distance from an inhabited island, or from a continent.
We shall know in an hour. I have not a map of the
Pacific, but my memory has. preserved a very clear recol-
lection of its southern part. -The latitude which I obtained
yesterday placed New Zealand to the west of Lincoln
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 193
Island, and the coast of Chili to the east. But between
these two countries, there is a distance of at least six
thousand miles. It has, therefore, to be determined what
point in this great space the island occupies, and this the
longitude will give us presently, with a sufficient approxi-
mation, I hope.â€
â€œIs not the archipelago of the Pomoutous, the nearest
point to us in latitude?â€ asked Herbert. 7
â€œYes,â€ replied the engineer, â€œbut the distance which
separates us from it is more than twelve hundred miles.â€
â€œAnd that way?â€ asked Neb, who followed the con-
versation with extreme interest, pointing to the south.
â€œThat way, nothing,â€ replied Pencroft.
â€œNothing, indeed,â€ added the engineer.
â€œWell, Cyrus,â€ asked the reporter, â€œif Lincoln Island is
not more than two or three thousand miles from New
Zealand or Chili?â€
â€œWell,â€ replied the engineer, â€œinstead of building a
house we will build a boat, and Master Pencroft shall be
put in commandâ€”â€
â€œ Well then,â€ cried the sailor, â€œ I am quite ready to be
captainâ€”as soon as you can make a craft thatâ€™s able to
keep at sea!â€
â€œWe shall do it, if it is necessary,â€ replied Cyrus
But whilst these men, who really hesitated at nothing,
194 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
were talking, the hour approached at which the observation
was to be made. What Cyrus Harding was to do to
ascertain the passage of the sun at the meridian of the
island, without an instrument of any sort, Herbert could
- The observers were then about six miles from the
Chimneys, not far from that part of the downs in which
the engineer had been found after his enigmatical . pre-
servation. They halted at this place and prepared for
breakfast, for it was half-past eleven. Herbert went for
some fresh water from a stream which ran near, and
brought it back ina jug which Neb had provided.
During these preparations Harding arranged everything
for his astronomical observation. He â€˜chose a clear place
on the shore, which the ebbing tide had left perfectly level.
This bed of fine sand was as smooth as ice, not a grain out
of place. It was of little importance whether it. was. hori-
zontal-or not, and it did not matter much whether the stick,
six feet high, which was planted there, rose perpendicularly.
On the contrary, the engineer inclined it towards the south,
that is to say, in the direction of the coast opposite to
the sun, for it must not be forgotten that the settlers in
Lincoln Island, as the island was situated in the southern
hemisphere, saw the radiant planet describe its diurnal arc
above the northern, and not above the southern horizon.
Herbert now understood, how the engineer was going to
AN INTERESTING SCIENTIFIC OPERATION.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 195
proceed to ascertain the culmination of the sun, that is to
say its passing the meridian of the island or, in other
terms, the south of the place. It was by means of the
shadow cast on the sand by the stick, a way which, for
want of an instrument, would give him a suitable approach
to the result which he wished to obtain. .
In fact, the moment when this shadow would reach its
minimum of length would be exactly twelve oâ€™clock, and it
would be enough to watch the extremity of the shadow, so
as to ascertain the instant when, after having successively
diminished, it began to lengthen. By inclining his stick to
the side opposite to the sun, Cyrus Harding made the
shadow longer, and consequently its modifications would
be more easily ascertained. In fact, the longer the needle
ofa dial is, the more easily can the movement.of its point
be followed. The shadow of the stick was nothing but the
needle of a dial. |
When he thought the moment had come, Cyrus Harding
knelt on the sand, and with little wooden pegs, which he
stuck into the sand, he began to mark the successive dimi-
nutions of the stickâ€™s shadow. His companions, bending
over him, watched the operation with extreme interest.
The reporter held his chronometer in his hand, ready to
tell the hour which it marked when the shadow would be
at its shortest. Moreover, as Cyrus Harding was working
on the 16th of April, the day on which the true and the
196 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
average time are identical, the hour given by - Gideon
Spilett would be the true hour then at Washington, which
would simplify the calculation. Meanwhile as the sun slowly
advanced, the shadow slowly diminished, and when it
appeared to Cyrus Harding that it was beginning to
increase, he asked, â€œ What o'clock is it ?â€
â€œ One minute past five,â€ replied Gideon Spilett directly.
They had now only to calculate the operation. Nothing
could be.easier. It could be seen that there existed, in
round numbers, a difference of five hours between the
meridian of Washington and that of Lincoln Island, that
is to say, it was mid-day in Lincoln Island when it was
already five o'clock in the evening in Washington. Now
the sun, in its apparent movement round the earth, traverses
one degree in four minutes, or fifteen degrees an hour,
Fifteen degrees multiplied by five hours give seventy-five
Then, since Washington is 77Â° 3' 11â€, as much as to
say seventy-seven degrees counted from the meridian of
Greenwichâ€”which the Americans take for their starting-
point for longitudes concurrently with the Englishâ€”it
followed that the island must be situated seventy-seven and
seventy-five degrees west of the meridian of Greenwich,
that is to say, on the hundred and fifty-second degree of
Cyrus Harding announced this result to his companions,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 197
and taking into consideration errors of observation, as he
had done for the latitude, he believed he could positively
affirm that the position of Lincoln Island was between the
thirty-fifth and the thirty-seventh parallel, and between
the hundred and fiftieth and the hundred and fifty-fifth
meridian to the west of the meridian of Greenwich.
The possible fault which he attributed to errors in the
observation was, it may beâ€™seen, of five degrees on both
sides, which, at sixty miles to a degree, would give an
error of three hundred miles in latitude and longitude for
the exact position.
But this error would not influence the determination
which it was necessary to take. It was very evident that
Lincoln Island was at such a distance from every country
or island that it would be too hazardous to attempt to
reach one in a frail boat.
In fact this calculation placed it at least twelve hundred
miles from Tahiti and the islands of the archipelago of
the Pomoutous, more than eighteen hundred miles: from
New Zealand, and more than four thousand five hundred
miles from the American coast !
And when Cyrus Harding consulted his memory, he
could not remember in. any way that such an island
occupied, in that part of the Pacific, the situation assigned
to Lincoln Island.
198 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
IT-IS DECIDED TO WINTER:ON THE ISLANDâ€”A METALLIC
QUESTIONâ€”EXPLORING SAFETY ISLANDâ€”A SEAL
HUNTâ€”CAPTURE OF AN ECHIDUAâ€”A KOALAâ€”WHAT
IS CALLED THE CATALAN METHODâ€”MANUFACTURING
â€˜ IRONâ€”HOW STEEL IS OBTAINED.
THE next day, the 17th of April, the sailorâ€™s first words
were addressed to Gideon Spilett.
â€œWell, sir,â€ he asked, â€œ whatâ€™ shall we do to-day ?â€
â€œ What the captain pleases,â€ replied the reporter.
â€˜Till then the engineerâ€™s companions had been brickmakers
and potters, now they were to become metallurgists.
The day before, after breakfast, they had explored as far
as the point of Mandible Cape, seven miles distant from
the Chimneys. There, the long series of downs ended, and
the soil hada volcanic appearance. There were no longer
high cliffs as at Prospect Heights, but a strange and
capricious border which surrounded the narrow gulf between
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 199
the two capes, formed of mineral matter, thrown up by the
volcano. Arrived at this point the settlers retraced â€˜their
steps, and at nightfall entered the Chimneys; but they did
not sleep before the question of knowing whether they could
think of leaving Lincoln Island or not was definitely settled.
The twelve hundred miles which separated the island
from the Pomoutou Islands was a considerable distance. A
boat could not cross it, especially at the approach of the
bad season. Pencroft had expressly declared this. Now,
to construct a simple boat, even with the necessary tools,
was a difficult work, and the colonists not having tools they
must begin by making hammers, axes, adzes, saws, augers,
planes, &c., which would take some time. It was decided,
therefore, that they would winter at Lincoln Island, and
that they would seek for a more comfortable dwelling than
the Chimneys, in which to pass the winter months.
Before anything else could be done it was necessary to
make the iron ore, of which the engineers had observed
some traces in the north-west part of the island, fit for use
by converting it either into iron or into steel.
Metals are not generally found in the ground in a pure
state. For the most part they are combined with oxygen
or sulphur. Such was the case with the two specimens
which Cyrus Harding had brought back, one of magnetic
iron, not carbonated, the other a pyrite, also called sulphu-
ret of iron. It was, therefore, the first, the oxyde of iron,
200 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
which they must reduce with coal, that is to say, get rid of
the oxygen, to obtain it ina pure state. This reduction is
made by subjecting the ore with coal to a high tem-
perature, either by the rapid and easy Catalan method,
which has the advantage of transforming the ore into iron
in a single operation, or by the blast furnace, which first
smelts the ore, then changes it into iron, by carrying away
the three to four per cent. of coal, which is combined with it,
Now Cyrus Harding wanted iron, and he wished to
obtain it as soon as possible. The ore which he had
picked up was in itself very pure and rich. It was the
oxydulous iron, which is found in confused masses of a
deep grey colour; it gives a black dust, crystallized in the
form-of the regular octahedron... Native loadstones consist
of this ore, and iron of the first quality is made in Europe
from that with which Sweden and Norway are so abun-
dantly supplied. Not far from this vein was the vein of
coal already made use of by the settlers. The ingredients
for the manufacture being close together would greatly
facilitate the treatment of the ore. . This is the cause of the
wealth of the mines in Great Britain, where the coal aids
the manufacture of the metal extracted from the same soil
at the same time as itself.
â€œThen, captain,â€ said Pencroft, â€œwe are going to work
â€œYes, my friend,â€ replied the engineer, â€œand for thatâ€”
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 201
something which will please youâ€”we must begin by having
a seal hunt on the islet.â€
â€œ A seal hunt!â€ cried the sailor, turning towards Gideon
Spilett. â€œAre seals needed to make iron ?â€
â€œSince Cyrus has said so!â€ replied the reporter.
But the engineer had already left the Chimneys, and
Pencroft. prepared for the seal hunt, without having received
any other explanation.
Cyrus Harding, Herbert, Gideon Spilett, Neb, and the
sailor were soon collected on the shore, at a place where the
channel left a ford passable at low tide. The hunters could
therefore traverse it without getting wet higher than the
Harding then put his foot on the islet for the first, and
his companions for the second time.
On their landing some hundreds of penguins looked
fearlessly at them. The hunters, armed with sticks, could
have killed them easily, but they were not guilty of such
useless massacre, as it was important not to frighten the
seals, who were lying on the sand several cable lengths off.
They also respected certain innocent-looking birds, whose
wings were reduced to the state of stumps, spread out like
fins, ornamented with feathers of a scaly appearance. The
settlers, therefore, prudently advanced towards the north
point, walking over ground riddled with little holes, which
formed nests for the sea-birds. Towards the extremity of
202 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
the islet appeared great black heads floating just above
the water, having exactly the appearance of rocks in
These were the seals which were to be captured. It was
necessary, however, first to allow them to land, for with
their close, short hair, and their fusiform conformation,
being excellent swimmers, it is difficult to catch them in
the sea, whilst on land their short, webbed feet prevent their
having more than a slow, waddling movement.
Pencroft knew the habits of these creatures, and he
advised waiting till they were stretched on the sand, when
the sun, before long, would send them to sleep. They
must then manage to cut off their retreat and knock them
on the head.
The hunters, having concealed themselves behind the
rocks, waited silently.
An hour passed before the seals came to play on the
sand. They could count half a dozen. Pencroft and
Herbert then went round the point of the islet, so as to
take them in the rear, and cut off their retreat. During
this time Cyrus Harding, Spilett, and Neb, crawling
behind the rocks, glided towards the future scene of
All at. once the tall figure of the sailor appeared.
Pencroft shouted. The engineer and his two companions
threw themselves between the sea and the seals. Two of
A SEAI., HUNT.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 203
the animals soon lay dead on the sand, but the rest regained
the sea in safety.
â€œHere are the seals required, captain!â€ said the sailor,
advancing towards the engineer.
â€œCapital,â€ replied Harding. â€œWe will make bellows of
â€œBellows!â€ cried Pencroft. â€œWell! these are lucky
It was, in fact, a blowing-machine, necessary for the
treatment of the ore that the engineer wished to manufac-
ture with the skins of the amphibious creatures. They were
of a medium size, for their length did not exceed six feet.
They resembled a dog about the head.
As it was useless to burden themselves with the weight
of both the animals, Neb and Pencroft resolved to skin
them on the spot, whilst Cyrus Harding and the aoe
continued to explore the islet.
The sailor and the negro cleverly performed the opera-
tion, and three hours afterwards Cyrus Harding had at
his disposal two sealsâ€™ skins, which he intended to use
in this state, without subjecting them to any tanning
The settlers waited till the tide was again low, and cross-
ing the channel they entered the Chimneys.
The skins had then to be stretched on a frame of wood,
and sewn by means of fibres so as to preserve the air with-
204 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
out allowing too much to escape. Cyrus Harding had
nothing but the two steel blades from Topâ€™s collar, and yet
he was so clever, and his companions aided him with so
much intelligence, that three days afterwards the little
colonyâ€™s stock of tools: was augmented by a blowing-
machine, destined to inject the air into the midst of
the. ore when it should be subjected to heat,â€”an indis-
pensable condition to the success of the operation.
On the morning of the 2oth of April began the â€œ metallic
period,â€ as the reporter called it in his notes. -The engineer
had decided, as has been said, to operate near the veins both
of coal and ore. Now, according to his observations, these
veins were situated at the foot of the north-east spurs of
Mount Franklin, that is to say, a distance of six miles from
their home. It was impossible, therefore, to return every
day to the Chimneys, and it was agreed that the little
colony should camp under a hut of branches, so that the
important operation could be followed night and day.
This settled, they set out in the morning. Neb and
Pencroft dragged the bellows on a hurdle; also a quantity
of vegetables and animals, which they besides could renew
on the way.
The road led through Jacamar Wood, which_ they
traversed obliquely from south-east to north-west, and in
the thickest part. It was necessary to beat a path, which
would in the future form the most direct road to Prospect
DROPPED FROM: THE CLOUDS. 205
Heights and Mount Franklin. The trees, belonging to the
species already discovered, were magnificent. Herbert
found some new ones, amongst others some which Pencroft
called â€œ sham leeks a for, in spite of their size, they were
of the same liliaceous family as the onion, chive, shalot, or
asparagus. These trees, produce, ligneous. roots which,
when cooked, are excellent ; from them, by fermentation,
a very agreeable liquor is made. They therefore made a
good store of the roots.
The journey through the wood was long; it lasted. the
whole day, and so allowed plenty of time for examining the
flora and fauna. Top, who took special charge of the fauna,
ran through the grass and brushwood, putting up all sorts
of game. Herbert and Gideon Spilett killed two kangaroos
with bows and arrows, and also an animal which strongly
resembled both a hedgehog and an ant-eater. It was like
the first because it rolled itself into a ball, and bristled with
spines, and the second because it had sharp claws, a long
slender snout which terminated in a birdâ€™s beak, and an
extendible tongue, covered with little thorns which served
to hold the insects.
â€œ And when it is in the pot,â€ asked Pencroft naturally,
â€œwhat will it be like?â€ . .
â€œ An excellent piece of beef,â€ replied Herbert.
â€œ We will not.ask more trom it,â€ replied the sailor.
During this excursion they saw several wild boars, which
206 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
however, did not offer to attack the little band; and it
appeared as if they would not meet with any dangerous
beasts ; when, in a thick part of the wood, the reporter
thought he saw, some paces from him, among the lower
branches of a tree, an animal which he took for a bear, and
which he very tranquilly began to draw. Happily for
Gideon Spilett, the animal in question did not belong to
the redoubtable family of the plantigrades. It was only a
koala, better known under the name of the sloth, being
about the size of a large dog, and having stiff hair ofa
dirty colour, the paws armed with strong claws, which
enabled it to climb trees and feed on the leaves. Having
identified the. animal, which they did not disturb, Gideon
Spilett erased â€œbearâ€ from the title of his sketch, putting
koala in its place, and the journey was resumed.
At five o'clock in the evening, Cyrus Harding gave the
signal to halt. They were now outside the forest, at the
beginning of the powerful spurs which supported Mount
Franklin towards the west. Ata distance of some hundred
feet. flowed the Red Creek, and consequently plenty of
fresh water was within their reach.
â€˜ The camp was soon organized. In less than an hour, on
the edge of the forest, among the trees, a hut of branches
interlaced with creepers, and pasted over with clay, offered
a tolerable shelter. Their geological researches were put
off till the next day. Supper was prepared, a good fire
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 207
blazed before the hut, the roast turned, and at eight o'clock,
whilst one of the settlers watched to keep up the fire, in
case any wild beasts should prowl in the neighbourhood,
the others slept soundly.
The next day, the 21st of April, Cyrus Harding,
accompanied by Herbert; went to look for the soil of
ancient formation, on which he had already discovered a
specimen of ore. They found the vein above ground, near
the source of the creek, at the foot of one of the north-
eastern spurs. This ore, very rich in iron, enclosed in
its fusible vein-stone, was perfectly suited to the mode of
reduction which the engineer intended to employ ; that is,
the Catalan method, but simplified, as it is used in Corsica.
In fact, the Catalan method, properly.so called, requires the
construction of kilns and crucibles, in which the ore and the
coal, placed in alternate layers, are transformed and reduced.
But Cyrus Harding intended to economize these construc-
tions, and wished simply to form, with the ore and the
coal, a cubic mass, to the centre of which he would: direct
the wind from his bellows. Doubtless, it was the proceeding
employed by Tubal Cain, and the first metallurgists of the
inhabited world. Now that which had succeeded with the
grandson of Adam, and which still yielded good results in
countries rich in ore: and fuel, could â€˜not but succeed with
the settlers in Lincoln Island.
The coal, as well as the ore, was collected without trouble
208 . TIIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
on the surface of the ground. They first broke the ore
into little pieces, and cleansed them with the hand from
the impurities which soiled their. surface. Then coal and
ore were arranged in heaps and in-successive layers, as the
charcoal-burner does with the wood which he wishes to
carbonize. In this way, under the influence of the air pro-
jected by the blowing-machine, the coal would be transformed
into carbonic acid, then into oxyde of carbon, its use being
to reduce the oxyde of iron, that is to say, to rid it of the
Thus:the engineer proceeded: The bellows of sealskin,
furnished at its extremity with a nozzle of clay, which
had been previously fabricated in the pottery kiln,
was established near the heap of ore. Moved by a
mechanism which consisted of a frame, cords of. fibre
and counterpoise, he threw into the mass an abundance
of air, which by raising the temperature also concurred
with the chemical transformationâ€™ to produce in time
pure iron. :
The operation was difficult. All the patience, all the
ingenuity of the settlers:was needed; but at last it
succeeded, and the result was a lump of iron, reduced to a
spongy state, which it was necessary to shingle and fagot,
that is to say, to forge so as to expel from it the liquefied
vein-stone. These amateur smiths had, of course, no
hammer; but they were in no worse a situation than the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 209
first metallurgist, and therefore did what, no doubt, he had
to. do. :
A handle was fixed to the first lump, and was used as a
hammer to forge the second on a granite anvil, and thus
they obtained a coarse but useful metal. At length, after
many trials and much fatigue, on the 25th of April several
bars of iron were forged, and transformed into tools, crow-
bars, pincers, pickaxes, spades, &c., which Pencroft and
Neb declared to be real jewels.
But the metal was not yet in its most serviceable state,
that is, of steel. Now steel is a combination of iron and
coal, which is extracted, either from the liquid ore, by
taking from it the excess of coal, or from the iron by adding
to it the coal which was wanting. The first, obtained by
the decarburation of the metal, gives natural or puddled
steel ; the second, produced by the carburation of the iron,
gives steel of cementation.
It was the last which Cyrus Herding intended to forge,
as he possessed iron in a pure state. He succeeded by
heating the metal with powdered coal in a crucible which
had previously been manufactured from clay suitable for
He then worked this steel, which is malleable both when
hot or cold, with the hammer. Neb and -Pencroft, cleverly
directed, made hatchets, which, heated red-hot, and plunged
suddenly into cold water, acquired an excellent temper.
210 THE MYSTERIOUS â€œISLAND.
Other instruments, of course roughly fashioned, were also
manufactured ; blades for planes, axes, hatchets, pieces of
steel. to..be transformed into saws, chisels; then iron for
spades, pickaxes, hammers, nails, &c. At last, on the 5th
of May, the metallic period ended, the smiths returned to
the Chimneys, and new work would soon authorize them
to take a fresh title,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 211
THE QUESTION OF A DWELLING IS AGAIN DISCUSSEDâ€”
PENCROFTâ€™S FANCIESâ€”EXPLORING TO THE NORTH
OF THE LAKEâ€”THE NORTHERN EDGE OF THE PLA-
TEAUâ€”SNAKESâ€”THE EXTREMITY OF THE LAKEâ€”
TOPâ€™S â€˜UNEASINESSâ€”-TOP SWIMMINGâ€”A COMBAT
UNDER THE WATERâ€”THE DUGONG.
IT was the .6th of May, a. day which corresponds to
the 6th of: November. in the countries of the northern
hemisphere,.. The sky had been obscured for some days,
and it was of importance to make preparations for the
winter. However, the temperature was not as yet much
lower, and a centigrade thermometer, transported to Lincoln
Island, would still have-marked an average.of ten to twelve
degrees above zero... This was not surprising, since Lincoln
Island, probably situated. between the thirty-fifth and
fortieth parallel, would be subject, in the southern hemi-
sphere, to the same climate as Sicily or Greece in the
212 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
northern hemisphere. But as Greece and Sicily have
severe cold, producing snow and ice, so doubtless would
Lincoln Island in the severest part of the winter, and it was
advisable to provide against it.
In any case if cold did not yet threaten them, the rainy
season would begin, and on this lonely island, exposed
to all the fury of the elements, in mid ocean, bad
weather would be frequent, and probably terrible. The
question of a more.comfortable dwelling than the Chim-
neys, must therefore be seriously considered and promptly
Pencroft, naturally, had some predilection for the retreat
which he had discovered, but he well understood that another
must be found. The Chimneys had been already visited
by the sea, under circumstances which are known, and it
would not do to be exposed again to a similar accident.
â€œBesides,â€ added Cyrus Harding, who this day was
talking of these things with his companions, â€œ we have some
precautions to take.â€
â€œWhy? The island is not inhabited,â€ said the reporter.
â€œ That is probable,â€ replied the engineer, â€œalthough we
have not yet explored the interior ; but if no human beings
are found, I fear that dangerous animals may abound. It
is necessary to guard against a possible attack, so that we
shall not be obliged to watch every night, or to keep up a
fire. And then, my friends, we must foresee everything.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 213:
We are here in a part of the Pacific often frequented by
â€˜What !â€ said Herbert; â€œat suchâ€™a distance from land?â€
â€œYes, my boy,â€ replied the engineer. â€œThese pirates
atÃ© bold sailors as well as formidable enemies, and we
must take measures accordingly.â€
?Â« Welliâ€ replied Pencroft, â€œwe will fortify ourselves
against savages with two legs as well as against savages
with four. But, captain, will it not be best to explore
Ã©very part of the island before undertaking anything
â€œThat would be best,â€ added Gideon Spilett.
â€œWho knows if we might not find on the opposite side
one of the caverns which we have searched for in vain
' â€œThat is true,â€ replied the engineer, â€œbut you forget,
my friends, that it will be necessary to establish ourselves
in the neighbourhood of a watercourse, and that, from the
summit of Mount Franklin, we could not see towards the
west, either stream or river. Here, on the contrary, we are
placed between the Mercy and Lake Grant, an advantage
which must not be neglected. And, besides, this side,
looking towards the east, is not exposed as the other is to
the trade-winds,â€™ which in this hemisphere blow from the
â€œThen, captain,â€ replied the sailor, â€œlet us build a
214 THE, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
house on the edge of the lake. Neither bricks nor,tools
are wanting now. After having been brickmakers, potters,
smelters, and.. smiths, we shall. surely know. how to be
â€œYes, my friend; but before coming to any decision we
must consider the matter thoroughly. A natural dwelling
would spare :us,much..work, and.would be a surer retreat,
for it would be as well defended against enemies from the
interior.as, those from outside,â€ ao
. â€œThat, is true, Cyrus,â€ replied..the reporter, â€œbut we,
have already examined all that mass of granite, and there
is not a hole,;not.a.cranny!â€
â€œNo, not one!â€ added-Pencroft. â€œAh, if we were able
to dig-out a dwelling in that cliff, at a.good height, so-.as to,
be out of the reach of harm, that would be capital! I can
see that.on the front. which looks .seaward, five or six
â€œWith windows to light them !.â€ said Herbert, laughing,
â€œ And a staircase to climb. up to them!â€ added Neb.
â€œVou are laughing,â€ cried the-sailor, â€œand. why? What
is there impossible in what I propose? Havenâ€™t we got
pickaxes and spades?.. Wonâ€™t- Captain Harding be able to
make powder to blow up the mine? Isn't it true, captain,
that you will make powder the very day we want it?â€
Cyrus Harding listened to the enthusiastic Pencroft
developing his fanciful projects: To attack this mass. of
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 215
granite, even by: a mine,.was Herculean work, and it was
really vexing that nature could not helpâ€™ them at their
need. But the engineer did not reply to the sailor except
by proposing to examine the cliff more attentively, from
the mouth of the river to the angle â€˜which terminated it on
They went out, therefore, and the exploration was made
with extreme care over an extent of nearly two. miles.
But in no place, in the bare, straight cliff, could any cavity
be found. The nests of the rock pigeons which fluttered
at its summit were only, in reality; holes bored at'the very
top, and on the irregular edge ofâ€™the granite.
It was a provoking circumstance, and as to attacking
this -cliff, either with pickaxe or with powder, so as to
effect: a sufficient excavation, it was â€˜not to be thought of.
It so happened that, on all this part of the shore, Pencroft
had discovered the only habitable shelter, that is to say,
the Chimneys, which now had to be abandoned.
â€˜The exploration ended, the colonists found themselves
at the north angleâ€™ of the cliff, where it terminated in long
slopes which diedâ€™ away on the shore. From this place, to
its extreme limitâ€™ in the. west, it only â€˜formed a sort of
declivity, a thick mass of:'stones, earth, and sand, bound
together by plants, bushes, and grass, inclined at'an angle
of only: forty-five degrees, Clumpsâ€˜of trees grew on these
slopes, which were also carpetedâ€˜ with thick:grass, But the
216 â€˜THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
vegetation did not extend far, and a long, sandy plain,
which began at the foot of these slopes, reached to the
Cyrus Harding thought, not without reason, that the
overplus of the lake must overflow on this side. The
excess of water furnished by the Red Creek must also
escape by some channel or other. Now the engineer had
not found this channel on any part of the shore already
explored, that is to say, from the mouth of the stream on
the west of Prospect Heights.
The engineer now proposed to his companions to climb
the slope, and to return to the Chimneys by the heights,
while exploring the northern and eastern shores of the
lake. The proposal was accepted, and in a few minutes
Herbert and Neb were on the upper plateau. Cyrus
Harding, Gideon Spilett, and Pencroft followed with more
The beautiful sheet of water glittered through the trees
under the rays of the sun. In this direction the country
was charming. The eye feasted on the groups of trees.
Some old trunks, bent with age, showed black against the
verdant grass which covered the ground. Crowds of
brilliant cockatoos screamed among the branches, moving
prisms, hopping from one bough to another.
The settlers instead of going directly to the north bank
of the lake, made a circuit round the edge of the plateau,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 217
so as to join the mouth of the creek on its left bank. It
was a dÃ©tour of more than a mile and a half. Walking
was easy, for the trees widely spread, left a considerable
space between them. The fertile zone evidently stopped
at this point, and vegetation would â€˜be less vigorous in the
part between the course of the Creek and the Mercy.
Cyrus Harding and his companions walked over this
new ground with great care. Bows, arrows, and sticks
with sharp iron points were their only weapons. However,
no wild beast showed itself, and it was probable that these
animals frequented rather the thick forests in the south;
but the settlers had the disagreeable surprise of seeing Top
stop before 'a snake of great size, measuring from fourteen
to fifteen feet in length. Neb killed it by a blow from his
stick. Cyrus Harding examined the reptile, and declared
it not Venomous, for it belonged to that species of diamond
serpents which the natives of NewSouth Wales rear. But
it was possible that others existed whose bite was mortal,
such as the deaf vipers with forked tails, which rise up
under the feet, or those winged snakes, furnished with two
ears, which enable them to proceed with great rapidity.
Top, the first moment of surprise over, began a reptile
chase with such eagerness, that they feared for his safety.
His master called him back directly.
The mouth of the Red Creek, at the place where it
entered into the lake, was soon reached. The explorers
218 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
recognized on the opposite shore the point which they had
visited on their descÃ©nt from Mount Franklin. Cyrus
Harding ascertained that the flow of water into it from the
creek was considerable. Nature must therefore have pro-
vided some place for â€˜the escape of the overplus. This
doubtless formed a fall, which, if it could be discovered,
would be of great use.
The colonists, walking apart, but not straying far from each
other, began to skirt the edge of the lake, which was very
steep. The water appeared to be full of fish, and Pencroft
resolved to make some fishing-rods, so as to try and catch
The north-east point was first to be doubled. It might
have been supposed that the discharge of water was at this
place, for the extremity of the lake was almost on a level
with the edge of the plateau. But no signs of this were
discovered, and the colonists continued to explore the
bank, which, after a slight bend, descended parallel to the
On this side â€˜the banks were less woody, but clumps of
trees, here and there, added to the picturesqueness of the
country. Lake Grant was viewed from thence in all its
extent, and no breath disturbed the surface of its waters,
Top, in beating the bushes, put up flocks of birds of
different kinds, which Gideon Spilett and Herbert saluted
with arrows. One was hit by the lad, and fell into some
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 219
marshy grass. Top rushed forward, and brought a beauti-
ful swimming bird, of a slate colour, short beak, very
developed frontal plate, and wings edged with white. It
was a â€œcoot,â€ the size of a large partridge, belonging to
the group of macrodactyles which form the transition
between the order of wading birds and that of palmipeds.
Sorry game, in truth, and its flavour is far from pleasant.
But Top was not so particular in these things as his
masters, and it was agreed that the coot should be for his
The settlers were now following the eastern bank of the
lake, and they would not be long in reaching the part
which they already knew. The engineer was much sur-
prised at not seeing any indication of the discharge of
water. The reporter and â€˜the sailor talked with him, and
he could not conceal his astonishment.
At this moment Top, who had been very quiet till then,
gave signs of agitation. The intelligent animal went back-
wards and forwards on the shore, stopped suddenly, and
looked at the water, one paw raised, as if he was pointing
at some invisible game; then he barked furiously, and was
Neither Cyrus Harding nor his companions had at first
paid any attention to Topâ€™s behaviour; but the dogâ€™s
barking soon became so frequent that the engineer
220 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œWhat is there there, Top?â€ he asked.
The dog bounded towards his master, seeming to be
very uneasy, and then rushed again towards the bank.
Then, all at once, he plunged into the lake.
â€œHere, Top!â€ cried Cyrus Harding, who did not like his
dog to venture into the treacherous water.
â€œWhatâ€™s happening down there?â€ asked Pencroft, exa-
mining the surface of the lake.
â€œ Top smells some amphibious creature,â€ replied Herbert.
â€œ An alligator, perhaps,â€ said the reporter.
â€œT do not think so,â€ replied Harding. â€œ Alligators are
only met with in regions less elevated in latitude.
Meanwhile Top had returned at his masterâ€™s call, and
had regained the shore: but he could not stay quiet ; he
plunged in amongst the tall grass, and guided by instinct,
he appeared to follow some invisible being which was
slipping along under the surface of the water. However,
the water was calm, not a ripple disturbed its surface.
Several times the settlers stopped on the bank, and
observed it attentively. Nothing appeared. There was
some mystery there.
The engineer was puzzled.
â€œLet us pursue this exploration to the end,â€ said he.
Half an hour after they had all arrived at the south-east
angle of the lake, on Prospect Heights. At this point the
examination of the banks of the lake was considered
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 221
finished, â€˜and yet the engineer had not been able to dis-
cover how and where the waters were discharged. â€˜â€œ There is
no doubt this overflow exists,â€ he repeated, â€œand since it is
not visible it must go through the granite cliff at the west!â€
â€œBut what importance do you attach to knowing that,
my dear Cyrus?â€ asked Gideon Spilett.
â€œ Considerable importance,â€ replied the engineer; â€œ for
if it flows through the cliff there is probably some cavity,
which it would be easy to render habitable after turning
away the water.â€
â€œBut is it not possible, captain, that the water flows
away at the bottom of the lake,â€ said Herbert, â€œand that
it reaches the sea by some subterranean passage?â€
â€œThat might be,â€ replied the engineer, â€œand should it
be so we shall be obliged to build our house ourselves,
since nature has not done it for us.â€
The colonists were about to begin to traverse the plateau
to return to the Chimneys, when Top gave new signs of
agitation. He barked with fury, and before his master
could restrain him, he had plunged a second time into the
All ran towards the bank. The dog was already more
than twenty feet off, and Cyrus was calling him back, when
an enormous head emerged from the water, which did not
appear to be deep in that place.
Herbert recognized directly the species of amphibian to
222 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
which the tapering head, with large eyes, and adorned with
long silky mustaches, belonged.
â€œA lamantin!â€ he cried.
It was not a lamantin, but one of that species of the
order of cetaceans, which bear the name of the â€œ dugong,â€
for its nostrils were open at the upper part of its snout.
The enormous animal rushed on the dog, who tried
to escape by returning towards the shore. His master
could do nothing to save him, and before Gideon Spilett or
Herbert thought of bending their bows, Top, seized. by the
dugong, had disappeared beneath the water.
Neb, his iron-tipped spear in his hand, wished to go to
Topâ€™s help, and attack the dangerous animal in its own
â€œNo, Neb,â€ said the engineer, restraining his courageous
Meanwhile a struggle was going on beneath the water,
an inexplicable struggle, for in his situation Top could not
possibly resist ; and judging by the bubbling of the surface
it must be also a terrible struggle, and could not but termi-
nate in the death of the dog! But suddenly, in the middle
of a foaming. circle, Top reappeared. Thrown in the air by
some unknown power, he rose ten feet above the surface
of the lake, fell again into the midst of the agitated waters,
and then soon gained the shore, without any severe wounds,
TOPâ€™S STRANGE ADVENTURE
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 223
Cyrus Harding and his companions could not under-
stand it. What was not less inexplicable was that the
struggle still appeared to be going on. Doubtless, the
dugong, attacked by some powerful animal, after having
released the dog, was fighting on its own account. But
it did not last long. The water became red with blood,
and the body of the dugong, emerging from the sheet of
scarlet which spread around, soon stranded on a little
beach at the south angle of the lake. The colonists ran
towards it. The dugong was dead. It was an enormous
animal, fifteen or sixteen feet long, and must have weighed
from three to four thousand pounds, At its neck was a
wound, which appeared to have been produced by a sharp
What could the amphibious creature have been, who, by
this terrible blow had destroyed the formidable dugong?
No one could tell, and much interested in this incident,
Harding and his companions returned to the Chimneys,
224 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
VISIT TO THE LAKEâ€”THE INDICATING CURRENTâ€”CYRUS
HARDING'S PROJECTSâ€”THE FAT OF THE DUGONGâ€”
EMPLOYING SHISTOSE PYRITESâ€”SULPHATE OF IRON
â€”HOW GLYCERINE IS MADEâ€”SOAPâ€”SALTPETREâ€”
SULPHURIC ACIDâ€”AZOTIC ACIDâ€”-THE NEW FALL.
THE next day, the 7th of May, Harding and Gideon Spilett,
leaving Neb to prepare breakfast, climbed Prospect Heights,
whilst Herbert and Pencroft ascended by the river, to renew
their store of wood.
The engineer and the reporter soon reached the little
beach on which the dugong had been stranded. Already
flocks of birds had attacked the mass of flesh, and had to be
driven away with stones, for Cyrus wished to keep the fat
for the use of the colony. As to the animalâ€™s flesh, it would
furnish excellent food, for in the islands of the Malay archi-
pelago and elsewhere, it is especially reserved for the table
of the native princes. But that was Nebâ€™s affair.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 225
At this moment Cyrus Harding had other thoughts.
He was much interested in the incident of the day before.
He wished to penetrate the mystery of that submarine
combat, and to ascertain what monster could have given
the dugong so strange a wound. He remained at the
edge of the lake, looking, observing ; but nothing appeared
under the tranquil waters, which sparkled in the first rays
of the rising sun.
At the beach, on which lay the body of the dugong, the
water was tolerably shallow, but from this point the bottom
of the lake sloped gradually, and it was probable that the
depth was considerable in the centre. The lake might be
considered as a large centre basin, which was filled by the
water from the Red Creek.
â€œWell, Cyrus,â€ said the reporter, â€œthere seems to be
nothing suspicious in this water.â€
â€œNo, my dear Spilett,â€ replied the engineer, â€œand I
really do not know how to acccunt for the incident of
â€œT acknowledge,â€ returned Spilett, â€œthat the wound
given to this creature is, at least, very strange, and I cannot
explain either how Top was so vigorously cast up out of
the water. One could have thought that a powerful arm
hurled him up, and that the same arm with a dagger killed
the dugong !â€ ;
â€œYes,â€ replied. the engineer, who had become thought-
226 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
ful; â€˜there is something there that I cannot understand,
But do you better understand either, my dear Spilett, in
what way I was saved myselfâ€”how I was drawn from the
waves, and carried to the downs? No! Is it not true?
Now, I feel sure that there is some mystery there, which,
doubtless, we shall discover some day. Let us observe,
but do not dwell on these singular incidents before our
companions. Let us keep our remarks to ourselves, and
continue our work.â€ :
It will be remembered that the engineer had not as yet
been able to discover the place where the surplus water
escaped, but he knew it must exist somewhere. He was
much surprised to see a strong current at this place. By
throwing in some bits of wood he found that it set towards
the southern angle. He followed the current, and arrived
at the south point of the lake.
There was there a sort of depression in the water, as if it
was suddenly lost in some fissure in the ground.
Harding listened ; placing his ear to the level of the lake,
he very distinctly heard the noise of a subterranean fall.
â€œ There,â€ said he, rising, â€œ is the discharge of the water;
there, doubtless, by a passage in the granite cliff, it joins
the sea, through cavities which we can use to our Prene
Well, I can find it!â€
The engineer cut a long branch, stripped it of its leaves,
and, plunging it into the angle between the two banks, he
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 227
found that there was.a large hole one foot only beneath the
surface of the water. This hole was the opening so long
looked for in vain, and the force of the current was such
that the branch was torn from the engineer's hands and
â€œThere is no doubt about it now,â€ repeated Harding.
â€œ There is the outlet, and I will lay it open to view!â€
â€œ How ?â€ asked Gideon Spilett.
â€œ By lowering the level of the water of the lake three
â€œ And how will you lower the level ?â€
â€œ By opening another outlet larger than this.â€
â€œ At what place, Cyrus?â€
â€œ At the part of the bank nearest the coast.â€
â€œBut it isa mass of granite!â€ observed Spilett.
â€œWell,â€ replied Cyrus Harding, â€œI will blow up the
granite, and the water escaping, will subside, so as to lay
bare this openingâ€”â€
â€œAnd make a waterfall, by falling on to the beach,â€
added the reporter.
â€œA fall that we shall make use of!â€ replied Cyrus.
â€œ Come, come!â€
The engineer hurried away his companion, whose con-
fidence in Harding was such that he did not doubt the
enterprise would succeed. And yet, how was this granite
wall to be opened without powder, and with imperfect
228 TIIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
instruments? Was not this work upon which the engineer
was so bent above their strength?
When Harding and the reporter entered the Chimneys,
they found Herbert and Pencroft unloading their raft
â€œThe woodmen have just finished, captain,â€ said the
sailor, laughing, â€œand when you want masonsâ€”â€
â€œMasons,â€”no, but chemists,â€ replied the engineer.
â€œYes,â€ added the reporter, â€œwe are going to blow up the
â€œ Blow up the island?â€ cried Pencroft.
â€œPart of it, at least,â€ replied Spilett.
â€œListen to me, my friends,â€ said the engineer. And he
made known to them the result of his observations.
According to him, a cavity, more or less considerable,
must exist in the mass of granite which supported Prospect
Heights, and he intended to penetrate into it. To do this,
the opening through which the water rushed must first be
cleared, and the level lowered by making a larger outlet.
Therefore an explosive substance must be manufactured,
which would make a deep trench in some other part of the
shore. This was what Harding was going to attempt with
the minerals which nature placed at his disposal.
It is useless to say with what enthusiasm all, especially
Pencroft, received this project. To employ great means,
open the granite, create a cascade, that suited the sailor.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 229
And he would just as soon be a chemist as a mason or
bootmaker, since the engineer wanted chemicals. He
would be all that they liked, â€œeven a professor of dancing
and deportment,â€ said he to Neb,. if that was ever
Neb and Pencroft were first of all told to extract the
grease from the dugong, and to keep the flesh, which was
destined for food.. Such perfect confidence hdd they in the
engineer, that they set out directly, without even asking a
question. A few minutes after them, Cyrus Harding,
Herbert, and Gideon Spilett, dragging the hurdle, went
towards the vein of coals, where those shistose pyrites
abound which are met with in the most recent transition
soil, and of which Harding had already found a specimen.
All the day being employed in carrying a quantity of
these stones to the Chimneys, by evening they had several
The next day, the 8th of May, the engineer began his
manipulations. These shistose pyrites being composed
principally of coal, flint, alumina, and sulphuret of ironâ€”
the latter in excessâ€”it was necessary to separate the
sulphuret of iron, and transform it into sulphate as rapidly
as possible. The sulphate obtained, the sulphuric acid
could then be extracted.
This was the object to be attained. Sulphuric acid is
one of the agents the most frequently employed, and the
230.â€”CÂ«; THE MYSTERIOUS: ISLAND.
manufacturing importance of a nation can be' measured by
the consumption which is made of it. This acid would
later:be of great use to the settlers, in the manufacturing of
candles, tanning skins, &c., but this time the engineer
reserved it for another use. ie
Cyrus: Harding chose, behind the Chimneys, a: site tiene
the ground was perfectly level. On this ground he placed
a layer of branches.and chopped wood, on which were piled
some pieces of shistose pyrites, buttressed one against the
other, the whoie being covered with a thin layer of Bynes,
previously reduced to the size of a-nut.
This done, they set fire to the wood, the heat was
communicated to the shist, which soon kindled, since it
contains -coal' and sulphur. Then new layers of bruised
pyrites were arranged.so.as to form an immense heap, the
exterior of which was covered with earth and grass, several
air-holes being left, as if it was a stack of wood which was
to be carbonized to make charcoal.
They then left the transformation to complete itself, and
it would not take less than ten or twelve days for the sul-
phuret of iron to be changed into sulphate of iron and the
alumina into sulphate of â€˜alumina, two equally soluble sub-
stances, the others, flint, burnt coal, and cinders, not being so.
While this chemical work was going on, Cyrus Harding
proceeded with other operations, which were pursued with
more than zeal,â€”it was eagerness.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 231
Neb and Pencroft had taken away the fat from the
dugong, and placed it in large earthen pots. It was then
necessary to separate the glycerine from the fat by saponi-
fying it. . Now, to obtain. this result, it had to be treated
either with soda or lime. In fact, one or other of these
substances, after having attacked the fat, would form a
soap by separating the glycerine, and it was just this
glycerine which the engineer wished to obtain. There was
no want of lime, only treatment by lime would giye cal-
careous soap, insoluble, and consequently useless, whilst
treatment by soda would furnish, on the contrary, a soluble
soap, which could be put to domestic use. Now, a prac-
tical man, like Cyrus Harding, would rather try to obtain
soda. Was this difficult? No; for marine plants abounded
on the shore, glass-wort, ficoides, and all those fucacee
which form wrack. A large quantity of these plants was
collected, first dried, then burnt in holes in the open
air. The combustion of these plants was kept up for
several days, and the result was a compact grey mass,
which has been long known under the name of â€œnatural
This obtained, the engineer treated the fat with soda,
which gave both a soluble soap and that neutral substance
But this was not all. Cyrus Harding still needed, in
view of his future preparation, another substance, azote of
232 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
potash,. which is better known: under the name of: salt of
nitre, or of saltpetre.
. Cyrus Harding could have manufactured this substance
by treating the carbonate of potash, which would be easily
extracted from the cinders of the vegetables, by. azotic
acid,, But this acid was wanting, and he would have been
in some. difficulty, if nature had not: happily furnished the
saltpetre, without giving them any other trouble than that
of picking it up. Herbert found a vein of it at the foot
of Mount Franklin, and they had nothing to do but nee
These different works lasted a week. They were finished
before the transformation of the sulphuret into sulphate. of
iron had been accomplished. During the following days
the settlers had time to constructa furnace of bricks of a
particular arrangement, to serve for the distillation â€˜of the
sulphate of iron when it had been obtained. All this was
finished about the 18th of May, nearly at the time when.
the chemical transformation terminated. Gideon Spilett,
Herbert, Neb, and Pencroft, skilfully directed by the
engineer, had become most clever workmen. Before all
masters, necessity is the one most listened to, and who
teaches the best.
When the heap of pyrites had been entirely reduced by
fire, the result of the operation; consisting of sulphate of
iron, sulphate of alumina, flint, remains of coal, and cinders,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 233
was placed in a basin full of water. They stirred this
mixture, let it settle, then decanted it, and obtained:a clear
liquid, containing in solution sulphate of iron.and sulphate
of alumina, the other matters remaining solid since they
are insoluble. Lastly, this liquid being partly evaporated,
crystals of -sulphate: of iron were deposited, and the not
evaporated liquid, which contained the sulphate of alumina,
was thrown away. '
Cyrus Harding had now at his disposal a large quantity
of these sulphate of iron crystals, from which the sulphuric
acid had to be extracted. The making of sulphuric acid
is a very expensive manufacture. Considerable works are
necessaryâ€”a special set of tools, an apparatus of platina,
leaden chambers, unassailable by the acid, and in which
the transformation is performed, &c. The engineer had
none of these at his disposal, but he knew that, in Bohemia
especially, sulphuric acid is manufactured by very simple
means, which have also the advantage of producing it toa
superior degree of concentration. It is thus that the acid
known under the name of Nordhausen acid is made.
To obtain sulphuric acid, Cyrus Harding had only one
operation to make, to calcine the sulphate of iron crystals
in a close vase, so that the sulphuric acid should distil in
vapour, which vapour, by condensation, would produce
The crystals were placed in pots, and the heat from the
234 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND...
furnace would distil the sulphuric acid. The operation was
successfully completed, and on the 20th of May, twelve
days after commencing it, the engineer was the possessor
of the agent which later he hoped to use in so many
Now, why did he wish for this agent ? Simply to produce
azotic acid ; and that was easy, since saltpetre, attacked
by sulphuric acid, gives this acid by distillation.
But, after all, how was he going to employ this azotic
acid? His companions were still ignorant of this, for he
had not informed them of the result at which he aimed.
However, the engineer had nearly accomplished his
purpose, and by a last operation he would procure the
substance which had given so much trouble.
Taking some azotic acid, he mixed it with glycerine,
which had been previously concentrated by evaporation,
subjected to the water-bath, and he obtained, without even
employing a refrigerant mixture, several pints of an oily
This last operation Cyrus Harding had made alone, in
a retired place, at a distance from the Chimneys, for he
feared the danger of an explosion, and when he showed a
bottle of this liquid to his friends, he contented himself
â€œ Here is nitro-glycerine |â€
- It was really this terrible production, of which the
HERE IS NITRO-GLYCERINE !
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 235
explosive power is perhaps tenfold that of ordinary
powder, and which has already caused so many accidents.
However, since a way has been found to transform it into
dynamite, that is to say, to mix with it some solid
substance, clay or sugar, porous enough to hold it, the
dangerous liquid has been used with more security. But
dynamite was not yet known at the time when the settlers
worked in Lincoln Island.
â€œAnd is it that liquid that is going to blow up our
rocks?â€ said Pencroft incredulously.
â€œYes, my friend,â€ replied the engineer, â€œand this nitro-
glycerine will produce so much the more effect, as the
granite is extremely hard, and will oppose a greater
resistance to the explosion.â€
â€œ And when shall we see this, captain ?â€
â€œTo-morrow, as soon as we have dug a hole for the
mine,â€ replied the engineer.
The next day, the 21st of May, at daybreak, the miners
went to the point which formed the eastern shore of Lake
Grant, and was only five hundred feet from the coast.
At this place, the plateau inclined downwards from the
waters, which were only restrained by their granite case.
Therefore, if this case was broken, the water would escape
by the opening and form a stream, which, flowing over the
inclined surface of the plateau, would rush on to the
beach. Consequently, the level of the lake would be
236 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
greatly lowered, and the opening where the water escaped
would be exposed, which was their final aim.
Under the engineerâ€™s directions, Pencroft, armed with
a pickaxe, which he: handled. skilfully and vigorously,
attacked â€˜the granite. The hole was made on the point
of the-shore, slanting, so that it should meet a much lower
level than thatâ€™of the water of the lake. In this way the
explosive force, by scattering the rock, would open a large
place for the water to rush out.
The work took some time, for the engineer, wishing to
produce a great effect, intended to devote not less than
seven quarts of nitro-glycerine to the â€˜operation. But
Pencroft, relieved by Neb, did so well, that towards four
o'clock in the evening, the mine was finished.
Now the question of setting fire to the explosive sub-
stance was raised. Generally, nitro-glycerine is ignited
by amorces of fulminate, which in bursting cause the
explosion. A shock is therefore needed to produce the
explosion, for, simply lighted, this substance would burn
Cyrus Harding would certainly have been able to fabri-
cate an amorce. In default of fulminate, he could easily
obtain a substance similar to gun-cotton, since. he had
azotic acid at his disposal. This substance, pressed in a
cartridge, and introduced amongst the nitro-glycerine,
would burst by means of a match, and cause the explosion.
PREPARING THE MINE.
AN EXCITING MOMENT.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 237
But Cyrus Harding knew that nitro-glycerine would
explode by a shock. He resolved to employ this means,
and try another way, if this did not succeed.
In fact, the blow of a hammer on a few drops of nitro-
glycerine, spread out on a hard surface, was enough to
create an explosion. But the operator could not be there
to give the blow, without becoming a victim to the ope-
ration. Harding, therefore, thought of suspending a mass
of iron, weighing several pounds, by means of a fibre, to
an upright just above the mine. Another long fibre, pre-
viously impregnated with sulphur, was attached to the
middle of the first, by one end, whilst the other lay on the
ground several feet distant from the mine. The second
fibre being set on fire, it would burn till it reached the
first. This catching fire in its turn, would break, and
the mass of iron would fall on the nitro-glycerine. This
apparatus being then arranged, the engineer, after having
sent his companions to a distance, filled the hole, so that
the nitro-glycerine was on a level with the opening; then
he threw a few drops of it on the surface of the rock,
above which the mass of iron was already suspended.
This done, Harding lit the end of the sulphured fibre,
and leaving the place, he returned with his companions to
The fibre was intended to burn five and twenty minutes,
and, in fact, five and twenty minutes afterwards a most
238 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
tremendous explosion was heard. The island appeared to
tremble to its very foundation. Stones were projected in
the air as if by the eruption of a volcano. The shock
produced by the displacing of the air was such, that the
rocks of the Chimneys shook. The settlers, although
they were more than two miles from the mine, were
thrown on the ground.
They rose, climbed the plateau, and ran towards the
place where the bank of the lake must have been
shattered by the explosion.
A cheer escaped them! A large rent was seen in the
granite! A rapid stream of water rushed foaming across
the plateau and dashed down a height of three hundred
feet on to the beach!
DROPPED FROM TILE CLOUDS. 239
PENCROFT NOW DOUBTS NOTHINGâ€”THE OUTLET OF
THE LAKEâ€”A SUBTERRANEAN DESCENTâ€”THE WAY
THROUGH THE GRANITEâ€”TOP. DISAPPEARSâ€”THE
CENTRAL CAVERNâ€”THE LOWER WELLâ€”MYSTERYâ€”
_ USING THE PICKAXEâ€”THE RETURN.
Cyrus HARDING'S project had succeeded, but, according
to â€˜his usualâ€˜ habit, heâ€™ showed no satisfaction; with closed
lips and a fixed look, he remained motionless. Herbert
was in ecstasies, Neb bounded with joy, Pencroft nodded
his great head, murmuring these wordsâ€” â€”~
â€œCome, our engineer gets on capitally !â€
The â€˜nitro-glycerine had indeed acted powerfully. The
opening which it had made was so large that the volume
of water which escaped through this new outlet was at
least treble that which before passed through the old
one. The result was, that a short time after the opera-
tion the level of the lake would be lowered two feet, or
240 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The settlers went to the Chimneys, to take some pick-
axes, iron-tipped spears, string made of fibres, flint and
steel; they then returned to the plateau, Top accom-
On the way the sailor could not help saying to the
â€œDonâ€™t you think, captain, that by means of that
charming liquid you have made, one could blow up the
whole of our island ?â€
â€œWithout any doubt, the island, continents, and the
world itself,â€ replied the engineer. â€œIt is only a question
â€œThen could you not use this nitro-glycerine for loading
fire-arms ?â€ asked the sailor.
â€œNo, Pencroft; for it is too explosive a substance.
But it would be easy to make some gun-cutton, or even
ordinary powder, as we have azotic acid, saltpetre, sulphur,
and coal. Unhappily, it is the guns which we have not
â€œQh, captain,â€ replied the sailor, â€œwith a little deter-
Pencroft had erased the word â€œimpossibleâ€ from the
dictionary of Lincoln Island.
The settlers, having arrived at Prospect Heights, went
immediately towards that point of the lake near which
was the old opening now uncovered. This outlet had now
DROPPED FROM. THE CLOUDS. 241
become practicable, since the water no longer rushed
through it, and it would doubtless be easy to explore the
In a few minutes the settlers had reached the lower point
of the lake, and a glance showed them that the object had
In. fact,.in the side of the lake, and now above the
surface of the water, appeared the long-looked-for opening.
A narrow ridge, left bare by the retreat of the water,
allowed them to approach it. This orifice was nearly
twenty feet in width, but scarcely two in height. It was
like the mouth of a drain at the edge of the pavement,
and therefore did not offer an easy passage.to the settlers ;
but Neb and Pencroft, taking their pickaxes, soon made it
of a suitable height.
The engineer then approached, and found that the sides
of the opening, in its upper part at least, had not a slope
of more than from thirty to thirty-five degrees. It was
therefore practicable, and, provided that the declivity did
not increase, it would be easy to descend even to the level
of the sea. If then, as was probable, some vast cavity
existed in the interior of the granice, it might, perhaps, be
of great use.
â€œWell, captain, what are we stopping for?â€ asked the
sailor, impatient to enter the narrow passage. â€œYou see
Top has got before us !â€
242 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œVery well,â€ replied the engineer. â€œBut we must see
our way. Neb, go and cut some resinous branches.â€
Neb and Herbert ran to the edge of the lake, shaded
with pines and other green trees, and soon returned with
some branches, which they made into torches. The torches
were lighted with flint and steel, and Cyrus Harding
leading, the settlers ventured into the dark passage, which
the overplus of the lake had formerly filled.
Contrary to what might have been supposed, the dia-
meter of the passage increased as the explorers proceeded,
so that they very soon were able to stand upright. The
granite, worn by the water for an infinite time, was very
slippery, and falls were to be dreaded. But the settlers
were all attached to each other by a cord, as is frequently
done in ascending mountains. Happily some projections
of the granite, forming regular steps, made the descent
less perilous. Drops, still hanging from the rocks, shone
here and there under the light of the torches, and the
explorers guessed that the sides were clothed with innu-
merable stalactites. The engineer examined this. black
granite. There was not a stratum, not a break init. The
mass was compact, and of an extremely close grain. The
passage dated, then, from the very origin of the island.
It was not the water which little by little had hollowed it.
Pluto and not Neptune had bored it with his own hand,
and on the wall traces of an eruptive work could be dis-
EXPLORING THE CAVERN.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 243
tinguished, which all the washing of the water had not
been able totally to efface.
The settlers descended very slowly. They could not but
feel a certain awe, in thus venturing into these unknown
depths, for the first time visited by human beings. They
did not speak, but they thought; and the thought came
to more than one, that some polypus or other gigantic
cephalopod might inhabit the interior cavities, which were
in communication with the sea. However, Top kept at
the head of the little band, and they could.rely on the
sagacity of the dog, who would not fail to give the alarm
if there was any need for it.
After having descended: about a hundred feet, following
a winding road, Harding, who was walking on before,
stopped, and his companions came up with him. The
place where they had halted was wider, so as to form a
cavern of moderate dimensions. Drops of water fell from
the vault, but that did not prove that they oozed through
the rock. They were simply the last traces left by the
torrent which had so long thundered through this cavity,
and the air there was pure though slightly damp, but
producing no mephitic exhalation.
â€œWell, my dear Cyrus,â€ said Gideon Spilett, â€œhere is a
very secure retreat, well hid in the depths of the rock, but
it is, however, uninhabitable.â€
â€œ Why uninhabitable ?â€ asked the sailor.
244 . THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
* Because it is too small and too dark.â€
â€œCouldnâ€™t we enlarge it, hollow it out, make openings
to let in light and air?â€ replied Pencroft, who now thought
â€œLet us go on with our exploration,â€ said Cyrus
Harding. â€œPerhaps lower down, nature will have spared
us this labour.â€
â€œWe have only gone a third of the way,â€ observed
â€œNearly a third,â€ replied Harding, â€œfor we have
descended a hundred feet from the opening, and it is
not impossible that a hundred feet further downâ€”â€
â€œWhere is Top ?â€ asked Neb, interrupting his master.
They searched the cavern, but the dog was not there.
â€œMost likely he has gone on,â€ said Pencroft.
â€œ Let us join him,â€ replied Harding.
The descent was continued. The engineer carefully
observed all the deviations of the passage, and notwith-
standing so many dÃ©tours, he could easily have given an
account of its general direction, which went towards
the sea. â€” ;
â€˜The settlers had gone some fifty feet farther, when their
attention was attracted by distant sounds which came up
from the depths. They stopped and listened. These
sounds, carried through the passage as through an acoustic
tube, came clearly to the ear.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 245
â€œ That is Top barking!â€ cried Herbert.
â€œYes,â€ replied Pencroft, â€œand our brave dog is barking
â€œWe have our iron-tipped spears,â€ said Cyrus Harding.
â€œKeep on your guard, and forward!â€
â€œTt is becoming more and more interesting,â€ murmured
Gideon Spilett in the sailorâ€™s ear, who nodded. Harding
and his companions rushed to the help of their dog. Topâ€™s
barking became more and more perceptible, and it seemed
strangely fierce. Was he engaged in a struggle with
some animal whose retreat he had disturbed? Without
thinking of the danger to which they might be exposed,
the explorers were now impelled by an irresistible curiosity,
and in a few minutes, sixteen feet lower they rejoined Top.
There the passage ended in a vast and magnificent
cavern. Top was running backwards and forwards, bark-
ing furiously. Pencroft and Neb, waving their torches,
threw the light into every crevice; and at the same time,
Harding, Gideon Spilett, and Herbert, their spears raised,
were ready for any emergency which might arise. The
enormous cavern was empty. The settlers explored it in
every direction. There was nothing there, not an animal,
not a human being; and yet Top continued to bark.
Neither caresses nor threats could make him be silent.
â€œThere must be a place somewhere, by which the waters
of the lake reached the sea,â€ said the engineer, â€”
246 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
â€œOf course,â€ replied Pencroft, â€œand we must take care
not to tumble into a hole.â€
â€œGo, Top, go!â€ cried Harding.
The dog, excited by his masterâ€™s words, ran towards the
extremity of the cavern, and there redoubled his barking.
They followed him, and by the light of the torches,
perceived the mouth of a regular well in the granite. It
was by this that the water escaped; and this time it was
not an oblique and practicable passage, but a perpendicular
well, into which it was impossible to venture.
The torches were held over the opening: nothing could
be seen. Harding took a lighted branch, and threw it into
the abyss. The blazing resin, whose illuminating power
increased still more by the rapidity of its fall, lighted up
the interior of the well, but yet nothing appeared. The
flame then went out with a slight hiss, which showed that
it had reached the water, that is to say, the level of the sea.
The engineer, calculating the time employed in its fall,
was able to calculate the depth of the well, which was
found to be about ninety feet.
The floor of the cavern must thus be situated ninety feet
above the level of the sea.
â€œHere is our dwelling,â€ said Cyrus Harding.
â€œ But it was occupied by some creature,â€ replied Gideon
Spilett, whose curiosity was not yet satisfied.
â€œ Well, the creature, amphibious or otherwise, has made
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 247
off through this opening,â€ replied the engineer, â€œand has
left the place for us.â€
- â€œNever mind,â€ added the sailor, â€œI should like very
much to be Top, just. for a quarter of an hour, for he
doesnâ€™t bark for nothing!â€
Cyrus Harding looked at his dog, and those of his com-
panions who were near him, might have heard him murmur
â€œVes, I believe that Top knows more than we do about
a great many things.â€
However, the wishes of the settlers were for the most
part satisfied. Chance, aided by the marvellous sagacity
of their leader, had done them great service. They had
now at their disposal a vast cavern, the size of which
could not be properly calculated by the feeble light of
their torches, but it would certainly be easy to divide it
into rooms, by means of brick partitions, or to use it, if
not as a house, at least as a spacious apartment. The
water which had left it could not return. The place was
Two difficulties remained; firstly, the possibility of
lighting this excavation in the midst of solid rock;
secondly, the necessity of rendering the means of access
more easy. It was useless to think of lighting it from
above, because of the enormous thickness of the granite
which composed the ceiling ; but perhaps the outer wall
248 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
next the sea might be pierced. Cyrus Harding, during
the descent, had roughly calculated its obliqueness, and
consequently the length of the passage, and was therefore
led to believe that the outer wall could not be very thick.
If light was thus obtained, so would a means of access,
for it would be as easy. to pierce a door as windows, and to
establish an exterior ladder.
Harding made known his ideas to his companions.
' â€œThen, captain, let us set to work!â€ replied: Pencroft.
â€œT have my pickaxe, and I shall soon make my way
through this wall.. Where shall I strike?â€
â€œHere,â€ replied the engineer, showing the sturdy sailor
a considerable recess in the side, which would much dimi-
nish the thickness. ,
Pencroft attacked the granite, and for half an hour, by
the light of the torches, he made the splinters fly around
him. Neb relieved him, then Gideon Spilett took Nebâ€™s
This work had lasted two hours, and they began to fear
that at this spot the wall would not yield to the pickaxe,
when ata last blow, given by Gideon Spilett, the instru-
ment, passing through the rock, fell outside.
â€œHurrah! hurrah!â€ cried Pencroft.
The wall only measured there three feet in thickness.
Harding applied his eye to the aperture, which over-
looked the ground from a height of eighty feet. Before
inn (i l it
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 249
him was extended the sea-coast, the islet, and beyond the
Floods of light entered by this hole, inundating the
splendid cavern and producing a magic effect! On its
left side it did not measure more than thirty feet in height
and breadth, but on the right it was enormous, and its
vaulted roof rose to a height of more than eighty feet.
In some places granite pillars, irregularly disposed, sup-
ported the vaulted roof, as those in the nave of a cathedral,
here forming lateral piers, there elliptical arches, adorned
with pointed mouldings, losing themselves in dark bays,
amid the fantastic arches of which glimpses could be
caught in the shade, covered with a profusion of projec-
tions formed like so many pendants. This cavern was a
picturesque mixture of all the styles of Byzantine, Roman,
or Gothic architecture ever produced by the hand of man.
And yet this was only the work of nature. She alone had
hollowed this fairy Alhambra in a mass of granite.
The settlers were overwhelmed with admiration. Where
they had only expected to find a narrow cavity, they had
found a sort of marvellous palace, and Neb had taken off
his hat, as if he had been transported into a temple!
Cries of admiration issued from every mouth. Hurrahs
resounded, and the echo was repeated again and again till
it died away in the dark naves. -
â€œAh, my friends!â€ exclaimed Cyrus. Harding, â€œwhen
250 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
we have lighted the interior of this place, and have
arranged our rooms and storehouses in the left part, we
shall still have this splendid cavern, which we will make
our study and our museum !â€
â€œ And we will call it ?â€”â€ asked Herbert.
â€œGranite House,â€ replied Harding; a name which his
companions again saluted with a cheer.
fhe torches were now almost consumed, and as they
were obliged to return by the passage to reach the summit
of the plateau, it was decided to put off the work neces-
sary for the arrangement of their new dwelling till the
Before departing, Cyrus Harding leant once more over
the dark well, which descended perpendicularly to the level
of the sea. He listened attentively. No noise was heard,
not even that of the water, which the undulations of the
surge must sometimes agitate in its depths. A flaming
branch was again thrown in. The sides of the well were
lighted up for an instant, but as at the first time, nothing
suspicious was seen.
If some marine monster had been surprised unawares by
the retreat of the water, he would by this time have
regained the sea by the subterranean passage, before the
new opening had been offered to him.
Meanwhile, the engineer was standing. motionless, his
eyes fixed on the gulf, without uttering a word,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 251
The sailor approached him, and touching his arm,
â€œ Captain!â€ said he.
â€œWhat do you want, my friend ?â€ asked the engineer, as
if he had returned from the land of dreams,
â€œThe torches will soon go out.â€
â€œForward !â€ replied Cyrus Harding.
The little band left the cavern and -began to ascend
through the dark passage. Top closed the rear, still
growling every now and then. The ascent was painful
enough. The settlers rested a few minutes in the upper
grotto, which made a sort of landing-place half way up
the long granite staircase. Then they began to climb
Soon fresher air was felt. The drops of water, dried by
evaporation, no longer sparkled on the walls, The flaring
torches began to grow dim. The one which Neb carried
went out, and if they did not wish to find their.way in the
dark, they must hasten.
This was done, and a little before four oâ€™clock, at the
moment when the sailorâ€™s torch went out in its turn, Cyrus
Harding and his companions passed out of the passage.
252 TIIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
CYRUS HARDING'S PROJECTâ€”THE FRONT OF GRANITE
HOUSEâ€”THE ROPE LADDERâ€”PENCROFTâ€™S DREAMSâ€”
AROMATIC HERBSâ€”A NATURAL WARRENâ€”WATER
FOR THE NEW DWELLINGâ€”VIEW FROM THE WINDOWS
OF GRANITE HOUSE.
THE next day, the 22nd of May, the arrangement of their
new dwelling was commenced. In fact, the settlers longed
to exchange the insufficient shelter of the Chimneys for this
large and healthy retreat, in the midst of solid rock, and
sheltered from the water both of the sea and sky. Their
former dwelling was not, however, to be entirely aban-
doned, for the engineer intended to make a manufactory
of it for important works. Cyrus Hardingâ€™s first care was
*o find out the position of the front of Granite House from
the outside. He went to the beach, and as the pickaxe
when it escaped from the hands of the reporter must
have fallen perpendicularly to the foot of the cliff, the
finding it would be sufficient to show the place where the
hole had been pierced in the granite.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 253
â€œThe pickaxe was easily found, and the. hole could: be
seen in a perpendicular line above the spot where it was
stuck.in the sand.. Some rock pigeons were already flying
in and out of-the narrow opening; they evidently thought
that Granite House had been..discovered on purpose for
them. It was the engineer's intention to divide the right
portion â€˜of the cavern into:several rooms, preceded by an
entrance passage, and to light. it by means of. five windows
and a door, pierced in the front. Pencroft was much
pleased with â€˜the five windows, but he could not under-
stand the use of the door, since the passage offered a
natural staircase, through which it would always be easy
to enter Granite House.
â€œ My friend,â€ replied Harding, â€œif it is easy for us to
reach our dwelling by this passage, it will be equally easy
for others besides us. I mean, on the contrary, to block
up that opening, to seal it hermetically, and, if it is neces.
sary, to completely hide the entrance, by making a dam,
and thus causing the water of the lake to rise.â€
â€œAnd how shall we get in?â€ asked the sailor.
â€œ By an outside ladder,â€ replied Cyrus Harding, â€œa rope
ladder, which, once drawn up, will render access to our
â€œ But why so many precautions?â€ asked Pencroft. â€œAs
yet we have seen no dangerous animals. As to our island
being inhabited by natives, I donâ€™t believe it!â€
254 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œAre you quite sure of that Pencroft?â€ asked the
engineer, looking at the sailor. = po
â€œOf course we shall not be :quite sure, till we have
explored it in every direction,â€ replied Pencroft.
â€œYes,â€ said Harding, â€œ for we know only a small portion
of it as yet. Butâ€™ at any rate, if weâ€™ have no enemies in
the interior, they may come from the exterior, for parts
of the Pacific are very dangerous, We must be provided
against every contingency.â€
Cyrus Harding spoke wisely; and without making
any further. objection, Pencroft prepared to. execute his
The front of Granite House was then to be lighted by
five windows and a door, besides a large bay window and
some smaller oval ones, which would admit plenty of light
to enter into the marvellous nave which was to be. their
chief room. This fagade, situated at a height of eighty
feet above the ground, was exposed to the east, and the
rising sun saluted it-with his first rays. It was found to
be just at that part of the cliff which was. between the
projection at the mouth of the Mercy, anda perpendicular
â€˜line traced above the heap of rocks which formed the
Chimneys. Thus the winds from the north-east would
only strike it obliquely, for it was protected by the pro-
jection. Besides, until the window-frames were made, the
engineer meant to close the openings with thick. shutters,
DROPPED. FROM THE CLOUDS, 255
which would Â«prevent either wind or rain from entering,
and which could.be concealed in need.
- The first work was to make the openings. This would
have takenâ€™ too long with the pickaxe alone, and it is
known that Harding was an ingenious man. He had
still a quantity of nitro-glycerine at his disposal, and he
employed it usefully. By means of this explosive sub-
stance the rock was broken open.at the very places chosen
by the engineer. Then, with the pickaxe and spade, the
windows and doors were properly shaped, the jagged edges
were smoothed off, and a few days after the beginning of
the work, Granite House was abundantly lighted â€˜by the
rising â€˜sun, whose rays penetrated into its most secret
recesses... Following the plan proposed by Cyrus Harding,
the space was to be divided into five compartments looking
out on the sea; to the right, an entry with a door, which
would meet the ladder; then a kitchen, thirty feet long; a
dining-room, measuring forty feet; a sleeping-room, of
equal.size ; and lastly, a â€œ Visitorâ€™s room,â€ petitioned for
by Pencroft; and which was next to the great hall. These
rooms, or rather this. suite of rooms, would not occupy all
the depth of the cave. There would be also a corridor
and a storehouse, in which their tools, provisions, and
stores would be kept. All the productions of the â€˜island,
the flora as well as the fauna, were to be there in the best
possible: stateâ€™ of. preservation, and completely â€˜sheltered
256 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
from the damp. There was no want of space, so that
each object could be methodically arranged. Besides, the
colonists had still at their disposal the little grotto above
the great cavern, which was like the garret of the new
This plan settled, it had only to be.put into execution.
The miners became brick-makers again, then the bricks
were brought to the foot of .Granite House... Till then,
Harding and his companions had only entered the cavern
by the long passage. This mode of communication obliged
them first to climb Prospect Heights, making a dÃ©tour by
the riverâ€™s bank, and then to descend two hundred feet.
through the passage, having to climb as far when they
wished to return to the plateau. This was a great loss of
time, and was also very fatiguing. Cyrus Harding, there-
fore, resolved to proceed without any further delay to the
fabrication of a strong rope ladder, which, once raised,
would render Granite House completely inaccessible.
This ladder was manufactured with extreme care, and
its uprights, formed of the twisted fibres of a species of.
cane, had the strength of a thick cable. As to the rounds,.
they were made of a sort of red cedar, with light, strong
branches ; and this apparatus was wrought by the masterly
hand of Pencroft. ;
Other ropes were made with vegetable fibres, and a sort.
of crane with a tackle was fixed at the door. In this way
DROPPED FROM THE .CLOUDS. 257
bricks could easily be raised into Granite House. The
transport of the materials being thus simplified, the arrange-
ment of the interior could begin immediately. There was
no want of lime, and some thousands of â€˜bricks were there
ready to be used. The framework of the partitions was
soon raised, very roughly at first, and in a short time, the
cave was divided into rooms and storehouses, according to
the plan agreed upon.
. These different works progressed Scidiy ender the
direction of the engineer, who himself handled the hammer
and the trowel. No labour came amiss to Cyrus Harding,
who thus set an example. to his intelligent and zealous
companions. They worked with confidence, even gaily,
Pencroft always having some joke to crack, sometimes
carpenter, sometimes ropemaker, sometimes mason, while
he communicated his good humour to all the members of
their little world. His faith in the engineer was complete ;
nothing could disturb it. He believed him capable of
undertaking anything and succeeding in everything. The
question of boots and clothesâ€”assuredly a serious question,
â€”that of light during the winter months, utilizing the
fertile parts of the island; transforming the wild flora into
cultivated. flora, it .all appeared easy to him; Cyrus
Harding helping, everything would be done in time. He
dreamt of canals, facilitating the transport of the riches of
the ground; workings of quarries and mines ; machines
258 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
for every industrial manufacture ; railroads ; yes, railroads!
of which a net-work would certainly one day cover Lincoln
'The engineer let Pencroft talk. -He did not put: down
the aspirations of this brave heart. He knew how com-
municable â€˜confidence is; he even smiled to hear him
speak, and said nothing of the uneasiness for the future
which he felt. In fact, in that part of the Pacific, out of
the course of vessels, it was to be feared that no help
would ever come to them. It was on themselves, on
themselves alone, that the settlers must depend, for the
distance of Lincoln Island from all other land was such,
that to hazard themselves in a boat, of a necessarily
inferior construction, would be a serious and_ perilous
â€œ But,â€ as the sailor said, â€œthey quite took the wind out
of the sails of the Robinsons, for whom everything was
done by a miracle.â€
In fact, they were energetic; an energetic man will
succeed where an indolent one would vegetate and
Herbert distinguished himself in these works. He was
intelligent and active; understanding quickly, he per-
formed well; and Cyrus Harding became more and more
attached to the boy. Herbert had a lively and reverent
love for the engineer. Pencroft saw the close sympathy
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 259
which existed between the two, but he was not in the least
jealous. Neb was Neb: he was what he would be always,
courage, zeal, devotion, self-denial personified. He had
the same faith in his master that. Pencroft had, but he
showed it less vehemently. When the sailor was enthu-
siastic, Neb always looked as if he would. say, â€œ Nothing
could â€˜be more natural.â€ Pencroft and. he were great
As.to Gideon Spilett, he took his: part in the common
work, and was not less skilful in it than his companions,
which always rather astonished the:sailor. A â€œjournalist,â€
clever, not only in understanding, but in performing every-
The ladder was finally fixed on the 28th of May. There
were not less than a hundred rounds in this perpendicular
height of eighty feet. Harding had been able, fortunately,
to divide it in two parts, profiting by an overhanging of
the cliff which made. a projection forty feet above the
ground. This projection, carefully levelled by the pickaxe,
made a sort of platform, to which they fixed the first
ladder, of which the oscillation was thus diminished one
half, and a rope permitted it to be raised to the level of
Granite House. As to the second ladder, it was secured
both at its lower part, which rested on the projection, and
at its upper end, which was fastened to the door. In short
the ascent had been made much easier. Besides, Cyrus
260 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Harding hoped later to establish an hydraulic apparatus,
which would avoid all fatigue and loss of time, for the
inhabitants of Granite House.
: The settlers soon became habituated to the use of thisâ€™
ladder. They were light and active, and Pencroft, as a
sailor, accustomÃ©d to run up the masts and shrouds, was.
able to give them lessons. But it was also necessary: to
give them to Top. The poor dog, with his four paws, was
not formed â€˜for this: sort of exercise. But Pencroft was
such a â€˜zealous master, that Top ended by properly â€˜per-
forming his ascents, and soon mounted the ladder as
readily â€˜as his brethren in the -circus. . It need not be said
that the sailor was proud of his pupil. However, more
than -once Pencroft hoisted him on his back, which Top
never complained of.
It. must be mentioned here, that during these works,
which were actively conducted, for the bad season was
approaching, the alimentary question was not neglected.
Every day, the reporter and Herbert, who had been voted
purveyors tothe colony, devoted some hours to the chase.
As yet, they only hunted in Jacamar wood, on the left of
the river, because, for want of a bridge or boat, the Mercy
had not yet been crossed. All the immense woods, to
which the name of the Forests of the Far West. had: been
given, were not: explored, They reserved this important
excursion for the first fine days of the next: spring. But
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 261
Jacamar wood was full of game; kangaroos and boars
abounded, and the huntersâ€™ iron-tipped spears and bows
and arrows did wonders. Besides, Herbert discovered
towards the south-west point of the lagoon a natural.
warren, a slightly damp meadow, covered with willows
and aromatic herbs which scented the air, such as thyme,
basil, savory, all the sweet-scented species of the labiated
plants, which the rabbits appeared to be particularly
On the reporter observing that since the table was spread
for the rabbits, it was strange that the rabbits themselves
should be' wanting, the two sportsmen carefully explored
the warren. At any rate, it produced an abundance of
useful plants, and a naturalist would have had a good
opportunity of studying many specimens of the vegetable
kingdom. Herbert gathered several shoots of the basil, .
rosemary, balm, betony, &c., which possess different
medicinal. properties, some pectoral, astringent, febrifuge,
others anti-spasmodic, or anti-rheumatic. When, after-
wards, Pencroft asked the use of this collection of
â€œFor medicine,â€ replied the lad, â€œto treat us when we
â€œWhy should we be ill, since there are no doctors in the
island?â€ asked Pencroft quite seriously.
There was no reply to be made to that, but the lad went .
262 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. ~
on with his collection all:the same, and it was well received
at Granite House. Besides these medicinalâ€™ herbs, he
added a plant known in North America as â€œ Osweee tea,â€
which made an excellent beverage. :
At last, by searching thoroughly, the hunters arrivedâ€™ at
the real site of the warren. There the ground was per-
forated like a sieve. ae
â€œ Here are the burrows!â€ cried Herbert.
â€œYes,â€ replicd the reporter, â€œso I see.â€
â€œ But are they inhabited ?â€
â€œ That is the question.â€
This was soon answered. Almost immediately, hundreds
of little animals, similar to rabbits, fled in every direction,
with such rapidity that even Top could not overtake them.
Hunters and dog ran in vain, these rodents escaped them
easily. But the reporter resolved not to leave the place,
until he had captured at least half-a-dozen of the
quadrupeds. He wished to stock their larder first, and
domesticate those which they might take later. It
would not have -been difficult to do this, with a few snares
stretched at the openings of the burrows. But at this
moment they had neither snares, nor anything to â€˜make
them of. They must, therefore, be satisfied with visiting
each â€˜hole, and rummaging in it with a stick, hoping by
dint of patience to do what could not â€˜be done in | aity
other way. â€˜
THE RABBIT WARREN,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 263
At last, after half an hour, four rodents were taken
in their holes. They were similar to their Europeanâ€™
brethren, and are commonly known by the name of
This produce of the chase was brought back to Granite
House, and figured at the evening repast. The tenants of
the warren were not. at all to be despised, for they were
delicious. It was a valuable resource of the colony, and it
appeared to be inexhaustible.
On the 31st of May the partitions were finished. The
rooms had now only to be furnished, and this would be
work for the long winter days. A chimney was established:
in the first room, which served as a kitchen. The pipe
destined to conduct the smoke outside gave some trouble
to these amateur bricklayers. It appeared: simplest to
Harding to make it of brick clay ; as creating an outlet for
it to the upper plateau was not to be thought of, a hole
was pierced in the granite above the window of the kitchen,
and the pipe met it like that of an iron stove. Perhaps
the winds which blew directly against the facade would
make the chimney smoke, but these winds were rare, and
besides, Master-Neb, the cook, was. not so very particular
When these interior arrangements were finished, the
engineer occupied himself in blocking up the outlet by the
lake, so as to prevent any access. by that way. Masses of
264 TIIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
rock were rolled to the entrance and strongly cemented
together. Cyrus Harding did not yet realize his plan of
drowning this opening under the waters of the lake, by
restoring them to their former level by means of a dam.
He contented hiniself with hiding the obstruction with
grass and shrubs, which were planted in the interstices of
the rocks, and which next spring would sprout thickly.
However, he used the waterfall so as to lead a small stream
of fresh water to the new dwelling. A little trench, made
below their level, produced this result ; and this derivation
from a pure and inexhaustible source yielded twenty-five
or thirty gallons a day. There would never be any want
of water at Granite House. At last all was finished, and
it was time; for the bad season was near. Thick shutters
closed the windows of the facade, until the engineer had
time to make glass.
Gideon Spilett had very artistically arranged on the
rocky projections around the windows plants of different
kinds, as well as long streaming grass, so that the openings
were picturesquely framed in green, which had a pleasing
The inhabitants of this solid, healthy, and secure dwell-
ing, could not but be charmed with their work. The view
from the windows extended over a boundless horizon, which
was closed by the two Mandible Capes on the north, and
Glaw Cape on the south. All Union Bay was spread
F WATER AT GRANITE
ERE WOULD NEVER BE ANY WANT O
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 265
before them. Yes, our brave settlers had reason to be
satisfied, and Pencrott was lavish in his praise of what he
humorously called, â€œhis apartments on the fifth floor
above the ground!â€
266 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
THE RAINY SEASONâ€”THE QUESTION OF CLOTHESâ€”A
SEAL HUNTâ€”MANUFACTURING CANDLESâ€”WORK IN
GRANITE HOUSEâ€”THE TWO BRIDGESâ€”RETURN FROM
A VISIT TO THE OYSTER BEDâ€”WHAT HERBERT FINDS
IN HIS POCKET.
THE winter season set in with the month of June, which
corresponds with the month of December in the northern
hemisphere. It began with showers and squalls, which
succeeded each other without intermission. The tenants
of Granite House could appreciate the advantages of a
dwelling which sheltered them from the inclement weather.
The Chimneys would have been quite insufficient to
protect them against the rigour of winter, and it was to be
feared that the high tides would make another irruption.
Cyrus Harding had taken precautions against this con-
tingency, so as to preserve as much as possible the forge
and furnace which were established there.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. _ 267
During the whole of the month of June the time was
employed in different occupations, which excluded neither
hunting nor fishing, the larder being therefore abundantly
supplied. Pencroft, so soon as he had leisure, proposed to
set some traps, from which he expected great results. He
soon made some snares with creepers, by the aid of which
the warren henceforth every day furnished: its quota of
rodents. Neb employed nearly all his time in salting or
smoking meat, which insured their always having plenty of
provisions. The question of clothes was now seriously
discussed, the settlers having no other garments than â€˜those
they. wore when the balloon threw them on the island,
These clothes were warm and good ; they had taken great
care of them as well as of their linen, and they were
perfectly whole, but they would soon need to be replaced.
Moreover, if the winter was severe, the settlers would suffer
greatly from cold.
On this subject the ingenuity. of Harding was at fault.
They must provide for their most pressing wants, settle
their dwelling, and lay in a store of food; thus the cold
might come upon them before the question of clothes had
been settled. They must therefore make up their minds
to pass this first winter without additional clothing. When
the fine season came round again, they would regularly
hunt those musmons which had been seen on the expedition
to Mount Franklin, and the wool once collected, the
268 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
: engineer would know how to make it into strong warm
stuff. . . How? he would consider.
â€œWell, we are free to roast ourselves at Granite House!â€
_said Pencroft. â€œThere are heaps of fuel, and no reason for
â€œ Besides,â€ added Gideon Spilett, â€œ Lincoln Island is-not
situated under a very high latitude, and probably the
winters here are not severe. Did you not say, Cyrus, that
this thirty-fifth parallel corresponded to that of Spain in
the other hemisphere ?â€
â€œDoubtless,â€ replied the engineer, â€œbut some winters in
Spain are very cold! No want of snow and ice; and
perhaps Lincoln Island is just as rigorously tried. How-
ever, it is an island, and as such, I hope that the tempera-
ture will be more moderate.â€
â€œWhy, captain?â€ asked Herbert.
â€œBecause the sea, my boy, may be considered as an
immense reservoir, in which is stored the heat of the
summer. When winter comes, it restores this heat, which
insures for the regions near the ocean a medium tempera-
â€˜ture, less high in summer, but less low in winter.â€
â€œWe shall prove that,â€ replied Pencroft. â€œBut I donâ€™t
want to bother myself about whether it will be cold
or not. One thing is certain, that is that the days are
already short, and the evenings long. Suppose we talk
about the question of light.â€
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 269
â€œ Nothing is easier,â€ replied Harding,
â€œTo talk about?â€ asked the sailor.
â€œTo settle.â€ -
â€œ And when shall we begin ?â€
â€œTo-morrow, by having a seal hunt.â€
â€œTo make candles ?â€
Such was the engineerâ€™s project; and it was quite
feasible, since he had lime and sulphuric acid, while the
amphibians of the islet would furnish the fat necessary for
They were now at the ath of June. It was Whit
Sunday, and they agreed to observe this feast. All
work was suspended, and prayers were offered to Heaven.
But these prayers were now thanksgivings. The settlers
in Lincoln Island were no longer the miserable castaways
thrown on the islet. They asked for nothing moreâ€”they
gave thanks. The next day, the 5th of June, in rather
uncertain weather, they set out for the islet. They had to
profit by the low tide to cross the Channel, and it was agreed
that they would construct, for this purpose, as well as they
could, a boat which would render communication so much
easier, and would also permit them to ascend the Mercy,
at the time of their grand exploration of the south-west of
the island, which was put off till the first fine days,
The seals were numerous, and the hunters, armed with
240 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
their iron-tipped spears, easily killed half-a-dozen. Neb
and Pencroft skinned them, and only brought back to
Granite House their fat and skin, this skin being intended
for the manufacture of boots,
The result of the hunt was this: nearly three hundred
pounds of fat, all to be employed in the fabrication of
The operation was extremely simple, and if it did not
yield absolutely perfect results, they were at least very
useful. Cyrus Harding would only have had at his disposal
sulphuric acid, but by heating this acid with the neutral
fatty bodies, he could separate the glycerine; then from
this new combination, he easily separated the olein, the
margarin, and the stearin, by employing boiling water.
But to simplify the operation, he preferred to saponify the
fat by means of lime. By this he obtained a calcareous
soap, easy to decompose by sulphuric acid, which pre-
cipitated the lime into the state of sulphate, and liberated
the fatty acids,
From these three acidsâ€”oleic, margaric, and stearicâ€”
the first, being liquid, was driven out by a sufficient
pressure. As to the two others, they formed the very
substance of which the candles -were to be moulded.
This operation did not last more than four and twenty
hours. The wicks, after several trials, were made of
vegetable fibres, and dipped in the liquified substance, they
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 271
formed regular stearic candles, moulded by the hand, which
only wanted whiteness and polish. They would not doubt-
less have the advantage of the wicks which are impregnated
with boracic acid, and which vitrify as they burn and are
entirely consumed, but Cyrus Harding having manufactured
a beautiful pair of snuffers, these candles would be greatly
appreciated during the long evenings in Granite House.
During this month there was no want of work in the
interior of their new dwelling. The joiners had plenty to
do. They improved their tools, which were very rough,
and added others also.
Scissors were made among other things, and the settlers
were at last able to cut their hair, and also to shave, or at
least trim their beards, Herbert had none, Neb but little,
but their companions were bristling in a way which justified
the making of the said scissors.
The manufacture of a hand-saw cost infinite trouble, but
at last an instrument was obtained which, when vigorously
handled, could divide the ligneous fibres of the wood.
They then made tables, seats, cupboards, to furnish the
principal rooms, and bÃ©dsteads, of which all the bedding
consisted of grass mattrasses. The kitchen, with its
shelves, on which rested the cooking utensils, its brick
stove, looked very well, and Neb worked away there as
earnestly as if he was in a chemistâ€™s laboratory.
But the joiners had soon.to be replaced by carpenters,
272 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. -
In fact, the waterfall created by the explosion, rendered
the construction of two bridges necessary, one on Prospect
Heights, the other on the shore. Now the plateau and
the shore were transversely divided by a watercourse, which
had to be crossed to reach the northern part of the island.
To avoid it the colonists had been obliged to make a
considerable dÃ©tour, by climbing up to the source of the
Red Creek. The simplest thing was to establish on the
plateau, and on the shore, two bridges from twenty to five
and twenty feet in length. All the carpenterâ€™s work that
was needed was to clear some trees of their branches: this
was a business of some days. Directly the bridges were
established, Neb and Pencroft profited by them to go to
the oyster-bed which had been discovered near the downs,
They dragged with them a sort of rough cart, which
replaced the former inconvenient hurdle, and brought back
some thousands of oysters, which soon increased among
the rocks and formed a bed at the mouth of the Mercy.
These molluscs were of excellent quality, and the colonists
consumed some daily.
It has been seen that Lincoln Island, although its in-
habitants had as yet only explored a small portion of it,
already contributed to almost all their wants. It was
probable that if they hunted into its most secret recesses,
tn all the wooded part between the Mercy and Reptile
Point, they would find new treasures,
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 273
The settlers in Lincoln Island had still one privation.
There was no want of meat, nor of vegetable products ;
those ligneous roots which they had found, when subjectedâ€™
to fermentation, gave them an acid drink, which was
preferable to cold water; they also made sugar, without
canes or beetroots, by collecting the liquor which distils
from the â€œacer saccharinum,â€ a sort of maple-tree, which
flourishes in all the temperate zones, and o. which the
island possessed a great number; they made a very agree-
able tea by employing the herbs brought from the warren ;
lastly, they had an abundance of salt, the only mineral
which is used in food, . . : but bread was wanting.
Perhaps in time the settlers could replace this want by
some equivalent, it was possible that they might find the
sago or the bread-fruit tree amongst the forests o. the
south, but they had not as yet met with these precious
trees. However, Providence came directly to their aid, in
an infinitesimal proportion it is true, but Cyrus Harding,
with all his intelligence, all his ingenuity, would never have
been able to produce that which, by the greatest chance,
Herbert one day found in the lining o. his waistcoat,
which he was occupied in setting to rights.
On this day, as it was raining in torrents, the settlers
were assembled in the great hall in Granite House, when
the lad cried out all at once,â€”
â€œLook here, captainâ€”a grain of corn!â€
274 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
And he showed his companions a grainâ€”a singlÃ© grainâ€”
whichâ€™ from-a hole in his pocket had got into the lining of
his waistcoat. e
- The presence of this grain. was explained by the fact
that Herbert, when at Richmond, used to feed some
pigeons, of which Pencroft had made him a present.
â€œ A grain of corn?â€ said the engineer quickly.
â€œ Ves, captain ; but one, only one!â€
â€œWell, my boy,â€ said Pencroft, laughing, â€œwe're getting
on capitally, upon my word! What shall we make with
one grain of corn?â€ .
â€œWe will make bread of it,â€ replied Cyrus Harding.
â€œBread, cakes, tarts!â€ replied the sailor. â€œCome, the
bread that this grain of corn will make wonâ€™t choke us
very soon !â€
Herbert, not attaching much importance to his dis-
covery, was going to throw away the grain in question;
but Harding took it, examined it, found that it was in
good condition, and looking the sailor full in the faceâ€”
â€œPencroft,â€ he asked quietly, â€œdo you know how many
ears one grain of â€˜corn can produce ?â€
â€œOne, I suppose!â€ replied the sailor, ap chute at the
â€œTen, Pencroft! And do you know how many grains
one ear bears?â€
â€œNo, upon my word.â€
LECTURE ON A GRAIN OF WHEAT.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 275
â€œAbout eighty!â€ said Cyrus Harding. â€œThen, if we
plant this grain, at the first crop we shall reap eight
hundred grains, which at the second will produce six
hundred and forty thousand; at the third, five hundred
and twelve millions ; at the fourth, more than four hundred
â€˜housands of millions! There is the proportion.â€
Hardingâ€™s companions listened without answering.
These numbers astonished them. They were exact,
â€œYes, my friends,â€ continued the engineer, â€œsuch are the
arithmetical progressions of prolific nature ; and yet what
is this multiplication of the grain of corn, of which the ear
only bears eight hundred grains, compared to the poppy-
plant, which bears thirty-two thousand seeds; to the
tobacco-plant, which produces three hundred and sixty
thousand? In a few years, without the numerous causes
of destruction which arrest their fecundity, these plants
would overrun the earth.â€
But the engineer had not finished his lecture.
â€œ And now, Pencroft,â€ he continued, â€œdo you know how
many bushels four hundred thousand millions of grains
would make ?â€ |
â€™ â€œNo,â€ replied the sailor; â€œbut what I do know is, that I
am nothing better than a fool!â€ es 4
â€œWell, they would make more than three millions, at a
hundred and thirty thousand a bushel, Pencroft.â€
276 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œ Three millions!â€ cried Pencroft.
â€œTn four years?â€
â€œIn four years,â€ replied Cyrus Harding, â€œand even in
two years, if, as I hope, in this latitude we can obtain two
crops a year.â€
At that, according to his usual custom, Pencroft could
not reply otherwise than by a tremendous hurrah.
â€œSo, Herbert,â€ added the engineer, â€œyou have made a
discovery of great importance to us. Everything, my
friends, everything can serve us in the condition in which,
we are. Do not forget that, I beg of you.â€
. â€œNo, captain, no, we shanâ€™t forget it,â€ replied Pencroft ;
â€œand if ever I find one of those tobacco-seeds, which
multiply by three hundred and sixty thousand, I assure
you I wonâ€™t throw it away! And now, what must we do ?â€
_ â€œWe must plant this grain,â€ replied Herbert.
â€œYes,â€ added Gideon Spilett, â€œand with every possible
care, for it bears in itself our future harvests.â€
â€œ Provided it grows!â€ cried the sailor.
â€œTt will grow,â€ replied Cyrus Harding.
This was the 2oth of June. The time was then pro-
Pitious for sowing this single precious grain of corn. Â«It
was first proposed to plant it in a pot, but upon reflection
it was decided to leave it to nature, and confide it to the
earth, This was done that very day, and it is needless to
DROPPED FROM THE. CLOUDS. 277
add, that every precaution was taken that the experiment
The weather having cleared, the settlers climbed the
height above Granite House. There, on the plateau, they
chose a spot, well sheltered from the wind, and exposed to
all the heat of the mid-day sun. The place was cleared,
carefully weeded, and searched for insects and worms;
then a bed of good earth, improved with a little lime, was
made ; it was surrounded by a railing ; and the grain was
buried in the damp earth.
Did it not seem as if the settlers were laying the first
stone of some edifice? It recalled to Pencroft the day on
which he lighted his only match, and all the anxiety of the
operation. But this time the thing was more serious. In
fact, the castaways would have been always able to procurÃ©
fire, in some mode or other, but no human power could
supply another grain of corn, if unfortunately this shoud
278 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
- CHAPTER XXI
SOME DEGREES BELOW, ZEROâ€”EXPLORING THE MARSHY
PART TO THE SOUTH-EASTâ€”THE WOLF-FOXâ€”VIEW
OF THE SEAâ€”A CONVERSATION ON THE FUTURE OF
THE PACIFIC OCEANâ€”THE INCESSANT WORK OF THE
_ CORAL INSECTSâ€”WHAT OUR GLOBE WILL BECOMEâ€”
' THE CHASE â€”TADORNâ€™ S FENS.
FROM this time Pencroft did not let a single day, pass with-
out going to visit what: he gravely called his â€œ corn-field.â€
And woe to the insects which dared to venture there! No
mercy was shown them,
Towards the end of the month of June, after incessant
rain, the weather became decidedly colder, and on the 29th
a Fahrenheit thermometer would certainly have announced
only twenty degrees above zero, that is considerably below
the freezing-point. The next day, the 30th of June, the
day which corresponds to the 31st of December in the
northern year, was a Friday. Neb remarked that the
year finished on a bad day, but Pencroft replied that
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 279
naturally the next would begin on a good one, which was
At any rate it commenced by very severe cold. Ice
accumulated â€˜at the mouth of the Mercy, and it was
not long before the whole expanse of the lake was
The settlers had frequently been obliged to renew their
store of wood. Pencroft also had wisely not waited till the
river was. frozen, but had brought enormous rafts of wood
to their destination. The current was an indefatigable
moving power, and it was employed in conveying the float-
ing wood to the moment when the frost enchained it. To
the fuel which was so abundantly supplied by the forest,
they added several cartloads of coal, which had to be
brought from the foot of the spurs of Mount Franklin. The
powerful heat of the coal was greatly appreciated in the low
temperature, which on the 4th of July fell to eight degrees
of Fahrenheit, that is, thirteen degrees below zero. A second
fireplace had been established in the dining-room, where
theyall worked together at their different avocations, During
this period of cold, Cyrus Harding had great cause to con-
gratulate himself on having brought to Granite House the
little stream of water from Lake Grant. Taken below the
frozen surface, and conducted through the passage, it
preserved its fluidity, and arrived at an interior reservoir
which had been hollowed out at the backâ€™ part of the
280 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€˜store-room, while theâ€™ overflow ran through the well to the
- â€˜About this time, the weather being extremely dry, â€˜the
colonists, clothed as warmly as possibly, resolved to devote
a day to the exploration of that part of the island between
the Mercy and Claw Cape. It was a wide extent of marshy
â€˜and, and they would probably find good sport, for water-
birds ought to swarm there.
They reckoned that it would be about eight or nine miles
to go there, and as much to â€˜return, so that the whole of the
day. would be occupied. As an unknown part of the island
was about to be explored, the whole colony took part: in
the expedition. Accordingly, on the 5th of July, at six
oâ€™clock in the morning, when day had scarcely broken,
Cyrus Harding, Gideon Spilett, Herbert, Neb, and Pen-
croft, armed with spears, snares, bows and arrows, â€˜and
provided with provisions, left Granite House, preceded â€˜by
Top, who bounded before them.
Their shortest way was to cross the Mercy on the ice,
which then covered â€˜it.
. â€œBut,â€ as the engineer justly observed, â€œthat could nct
take the place of a regular bridge!â€ So, the construc-
tion of a regular meets was noted in the list of â€˜future
It was the first time that the settlers ted set foot-on the
tight bank of the Mercy, and ventured into the midst of
A WINTER EXPLORATION.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 281
those gigantic and superb coniferee now sprinkled over
But they had not gone half a mile when from a thicket
a whole family of quadrupeds, who had made a. home
there, disturbed by Top, rushed forth into the open country.
â€œAh! I should say those are foxes!â€ cried Herbert,
when he saw the troop rapidly decamping.
They were foxes, but of a very large size, who uttered a
sort of barking, at which Top seemed to be very much
astonished, for he stopped short in the chase, and gave the
swift animals time to disappear.
The dog had reason to be surprised, as he did not
know Natural History. But, by their barking, these foxes,
with reddish-grey hair, black tails terminating in a white
tuft, had betrayed their origin. So Herbert was able,
without hesitating, to give them their real name of â€œ Arctic
foxes.â€ They are frequently met with in Chili, in the
Falkland Islands, and in all parts of America traversed
by the thirtieth and fortieth parallels. Herbert much
regretted that Top had not been able to catch: one of
â€œAre they good to eat?â€ asked Pencroft, who only
regarded the representatives of the fauna in the island
from one special point of view.
â€œNo,â€ replied Herbert; â€œbut zoologists have not yet
found out if the eye of these foxes is diurnal or nocturnal,
282 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
or â€˜whether it is correct to class them in the genus dog,
properly so called.â€
Harding could not help smiling on hearing the ladâ€™s
reflection, which showed a thoughtful mind. As to the
sailor, from the moment when he found that the foxes
were not classed in the genus eatable, they were nothing to
him. However, when a poultry-yard was established at
Granite House, he observed that it would be best to take
some precautions against a probable visit from these four-
legged plunderers, and no one disputed this.
After having turned the point, the settlers saw a long
beach washed by the open sea. It was then eight oâ€™clock
in the morning. The sky was very clear, as it often is
after prolonged cold; but warmed by their walk, neither
Harding nor his companions felt the sharpness of the
atmosphere too severely. Besides there was no wind,
which made it much more bearable. A brilliant sun, but
without any calorific action, was just issuing from the ocean,
The sea was as tranquil and blue as that of a Mediter-
ranean gulf, when the sky is clear. Claw Cape, bent in the
form of a yataghan, tapered away nearly four miles to the
south-east. To the left the edge of the marsh was abruptly
ended by alittle point. Certainly, in this part of Union Bay,
which nothing sheltered from the open sea, not even a sand-
bank, ships beaten by the east winds would have found no
shelter. They perceived by the tranquillity of the sea, in
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 283
which no shallows troubled the waters, by its uniform
colour, which was stained by no yellow shades, by the
absence of even a reef, that the coast was steep and that
the ocean there covered a deep abyss. Behind in the
west, but at a distance of four miles, rose the first trees of
the forests of the Far West. They might have believed
themselves to be on the desolate coast of some island in
the Antarctic regions which the ice had invaded. The
colonists halted at this place for breakfast.
brushwood and dried seaweed was lighted, and Neb pre-
pared the breakfast of cold meat, to which he added some
cups of Oswego tea.
Whilst eating they looked around them. This. part of
Lincoln Island was very sterile, and contrasted with all
the western part. The reporter was thus led to observe
that if chance had thrown them at first on the shore, they
would have had but a deplorable idea of their future
â€œT believe that we should not have been able to reach
it,â€ replied the engineer, â€œfor the sea is deep, and there is
not a rock on which we could have taken refuge. Before
Granite House, at least, there were sandbanks, an islet,
which multiplied our chances of safety. Here, nothing
but the depths!â€ .
â€œTt is singular enough,â€ remarked Spilett, â€œthat this
comparatively small island should present such varied
284 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
ground. This diversity of aspect, logically only belongs
to continents of a certain extent. One would really say,
that the western part of Lincoln Island, so rich and so
fertile, is washed by the warm waters of the Gulf of
Mexico, and that its shores to the north and the south-
east extend over a sort of Arctic sea. .
â€œYou are right, my dear Spilett,â€ replied Cyrus
Harding, â€œI have also observed this. I think the form
and also the nature of this island strange. It is a sum-
mary of all the aspects which a continent presents, and I
should not be surprised if it was a continent formerly.â€
â€œWhat! a continent in the middle of the Pacific ?â€ cried
â€œWhy not?â€ replied Cyrus Harding. â€œWhy should
not Australia, New Ireland, Australasia, united to the
archipelagos of the Pacific, have once formed a sixth part
of the world, as important as Europe or Asia, as Africa or
the two Americas? To my mind, it is quite possible that
all these islands, emerging from this vast ocean, are but
the summits of a continent, now submerged, but which
was above the waters at an ante-historic period.â€
â€œ As the Atlantis was formerly,â€ replied Herbert.
â€œYes, my boy ... if, however, it has existed.â€
â€œ And would Lincoln Island have been a part of that
continent ?â€ asked Pencroft. .
â€œIt is probable,â€ replied Cyrus Harding, â€œand that
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 285
would sufficiently explain the variety of. productions
which are seen on its surface.â€
â€œAnd the great number of animals which still inhabit
it,â€™ added Herbert.
â€œYes, my boy,â€ replied the engineer, â€œand you furnish
me with an argument to support my theory, It is certain,
after what we have seen, that animals are numerous in
this island, and what is more strange, that the species are
extremely varied. There is a reason for that, and to me
it is that Lincoln Island may have formerly been a part of
some vast continent which has gradually sunk below the
â€œThen, some fine day,â€ said Pencroft, who did not
appear to be entirely convinced, â€œthe rest of this ancient
continent may disappear in its turn, and there will be
nothing between America and Asia.â€
â€œYes,â€ replied Harding, â€œthere will be new continents
which millions and millions of animalcule are building at
this moment.â€ ,
â€œ And what are these masons?â€ asked Pencroft.
â€œCoral insects,â€ replied Cyrus Harding. â€œBy constant
work they made the island of Clermont-Tonnerre, and
numerous other coral-islands in the Pacific Ocean. â€˜Forty-
seven millions of these insects are needed to weigh a grain,
and yet, with the sea-salt they absorb, the solid elements
â€œof water which they assimilate, these animalcule produce
286 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
limestone, and this limestone forms enormous submarine
erections, of which the hardness and solidity equal granite.
Formerly, at the first periods of creation, nature employing
fire, heaved up the land, but now she entrusts to these
microscopic creatures the task of replacing this agent, of
which the dynamic power in the interior of the globe has
evidently diminishedâ€”which is proved by the number of
volcanoes on the surface of the earth, now actually extinct,
And I believe that centuries succeeding to centuries, and
insects to insects, this Pacific may one day be changed into
a vast continent, which new generations will inhabit and
civilize in their turn.â€
â€œ That will take a long time,â€ said Pencroft.
â€œ Nature has time for it,â€ replied the engineer.
â€œ But what would be the use of new continents ?â€ asked
Herbert. â€œIt appears to me that the present extent of
habitable countries is sufficient for humanity. Yet nature
does nothing uselessly.â€
â€œNothing uselessly, certainly,â€ replied the engineer,
â€œbut-this is how the necessity of new continents for the:
future, and exactly on the tropical zone occupied by the
coral islands, may be explained. At least to me this
explanation appears plausible.â€
â€œWe are listening, captain,â€ said Herbert.
â€œThis is my idea; philosophers generally admit that
some day ourâ€™ globe will end, or rather that animal and
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 287
vegetable life will no longer be possible, because of the
intense cold to which it will be subjected. What they are
not agreed upon, is the cause of this cold. Some think
that it will arise from the falling of the temperature, which
the sun will experience after millions of years; others,
from the gradual extinction of the fires in the interior of
our globe, which have a greater influence on it than is
generally supposed. I hold to this last hypothesis,
grounding it on the fact that the moon is really a cold
star, which is no longer habitable, although the sun con-
tinues to throw on its surface the same amount of heat.
If, then, the moon has become cold, it is because the
interior fires to which, as do all the stars of the stellar
world, it owes its origin, are completely extinct. Lastly,
whatever may be the cause, our globe will become cold
some day, but this cold will only operate gradually.
What will happen, then? The temperate zones, at a more
or less distant period, will not be more habitable than the
polar regions now are. Then the population of men, as
well as the animals, will flow towards the latitudes which
are more directly under the solar influence. An immense
emigration will be performed. Europe, Central Asia,
North America, will gradually be abandoned, as well as
Australasia and the lower parts of South America. The
vegetation will follow the human emigration. The flora
will retreat towards the Equator at the same time as the
288 - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
fauna. The central parts of South America and Africa
will be the continents chiefly inhabited. The Laplanders
and the Samoides will find the climate of the polar regions
on the shores of the Mediterranean. ' Who can say, that at
this period, the equatorial regions will not be too small, to
contain and nourish terrestrial humanity? Now, may not
provident nature, so as to give refuge to all the vegetable
and animal emigration, be at present laying the foundation
of a new continent under the Equator, and may she not have
entrusted these insects with the construction of it? I have
often thought of all these things, my friends, and I seriously
believe that the aspect of our globe will some day be com-
pletely changed ; that by the raising of new continents the
sea will cover the old, and that, in future ages, a Colombus
will go to discover the islands of Chimborazo, of the
Himalaya, or of Mont Blanc, remains of a submerged
America, Asia, and Europe. Then these new continents
will become, in their turn, uninhabitable; heat will die
away, as does the heat from a body when the soul has left
it; and life will disappear from the globe, if not for ever,
at least for a period. Perhaps then, our spheroid will rest
â€”will be left to deathâ€”to revive some day under superior
conditions! But all that, my friends, is the secret of the
Author of all things; and beginning by the work oi the
insects, I have perhaps let myself be carried too iar, in
investigating the secrets of the future.â€
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 289
â€œMy dear Cyrus,â€ replied Spilett, â€œthese theories are
prophecies to me, and they will be accomplished some
â€œThat is the secret of God,â€ said the engineer.
â€œ All that is well and good,â€ then said Pencroft, who had
listened with all his might, â€œbut will you tell me, captain,
if Lincoln Island has been made by your insects ?â€
â€œNo,â€ replied Harding; â€œit is of a purely volcanic
â€œThen it will disappear some day?â€
â€œThat is probable.â€
â€œT hope we won't be here then.â€
â€œNo, donâ€™t be uneasy, Pencroft; we shall not be here
then, as we have no wish to die here, and hope to get away
â€œIn the meantime,â€ replied Gideon Spilett, â€œlet us
establish ourselves here as if for ever. There is no use in
doing things by halves.â€
This ended the conversation. Breakfast was finished,
the exploration was continued, and the settlers arrived at
the border of the marshy region, It was a marsh of which
the extent, to the rounded coast which terminated the
island at the south-east, was about twenty square miles
The soil was formed of clayey flint-earth, mingled with
vegetable matter, such as the remains of rushes, reeds,
grass, &c. Here and there beds of grass, thick as a carpet,
290 TIIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
covered it. In many places icy pools sparkled in the sun,
Neither rain nor any river, increased by a sudden swelling,
could supply these ponds. They therefore naturally con-
cluded that the marsh was fed by the infiltrations of the
soil, and it was really so. It was also to be feared that
during the heat miasmas would arise, which might produce
Above the aquatic plants, on the surface of the stagnant
water, fluttered numbers of birds. Wild duck, teal, snipe
lived there in flocks, and those fearless birds allowed them-
selves to be easily approached.
One shot from a gun would certainly have brought down
some dozen of the birds, they were so close together. The
explorers were, however, obliged to content themselves
with bows and arrows. The result was less, but the silent
arrow had the advantage of not frightening the birds, whilst
the noise of fire-arms would have dispersed them to all
parts of the marsh. The hunters were satisfied, for this
time, with a dozen ducks, which had white bodies with a
band of cinnamon, a green head, wings black, white, and
red, and flattened beak. Herbert called them tadorns.
Top helped in the capture of these birds, whose name was
given to this marshy part.of the island. The settlers had
here an abundant reserve of aquatic game. At some
future time they meant to explore it more carefully, and it
was probable that some of the birds there might be domes-
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. Â© 29!
ticated, or at least brought to the shores of the lake, so that
they would be more within their reach. .
About five oâ€™clock in the evening Cyrus Harding and
his companions retraced their steps to their dwelling by
traversing Tadornâ€™s Fens, and crossed the Mercy on the
At eight in the evening they all entered Granite House.
292 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
TRAPSâ€”FOXESâ€”PECCARIESâ€”THE WIND CHANGES TO
-â€”â€”-THE SEVEREST COLDâ€”MAPLE SUGARâ€”THE MYS-
TERIOUS WELLâ€”AN EXPLORATION PLANNEDâ€”THE
THIS intense cold lasted till the 15th of August, without,
however, passing the degree of Fahrenheit already men-
tioned. When the atmosphere was calm, the low tempera-
ture was easily borne, but when the wind blew, the poor
settlers, insufficiently clothed, felt it severely. Pencroft
regretted that Lincoln Island was not the home of a few
families of bears rather than of so many foxes and seals.
â€œBears,â€ said he, â€œare generally very well dressed, and I
ask no more than to borrow for the winter the warm cloaks
which they have on their bagÂ¢ks.â€
â€œ But,â€ replied Neb, laughing, â€œperhaps the bears would
not consent to give you their cloaks, Poncrore These
beasts are not St. Martins.â€
BEASTS WHICH ARE GOOD FOR NOTHING.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 293
â€œWe would. make them -do it, Neb, we would make
them,â€ replied Pencroft, in quite an authoritative tone.
But these formidable carnivora did not exist in the
island, or at â€˜any.rate they had not as yet shown them-
In the meanwhile, Herbert, Pencroft, and â€˜the reporter,
occupied themselves with making traps on Prospect Heights
and at the border of the forest. i
According to the sailor, any animal, whatever. it was,
would be.a lawful prize, and the rodents or carnivora which
might get into the new snares would be well: received at
Granite House. *
The traps were â€˜besides extremely simple; being pits dug
in the ground, a platform of branches and grass above,
which concealed the opening, and at the bottom some bait,
the scent of which. would attract animals. It must be
mentioned also, that.they had not been dug at random, but
at certain: places where numerous footprints..showed. that
quadrupeds frequented the ground... They were visited
every day, and at three different times, during the first days,
specimens of those Antarctic foxes which they had already
seen on the right bank of the.Mercy were found in them.
â€œWhy, there are nothing but foxes in this country!â€
cried Pencroft, when for the third time he drew one of the
animals out of the pit. Looking at it in great disgust, he
added, â€œ beasts which are good for nothing!â€
2904 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œYes,â€ said Gideon Spilett, â€œthey are good for some-
â€œ And what is that?â€
â€œTo make bait to attract other creatures!â€
he reporter was right, and the traps were henceforward
baited with the foxesâ€™ carcases,
The sailor had also made snares from the long tough
fibres of a certain plant, and they were even more successful
than the traps. Rarely a day passed without some rabbits
from the warren being caught. It was always rabbit, but
Neb knew how to vary his sauces, and the settlers did not
think of complaining.
However, once or twice in the second week of August,
the traps supplied the hunters with other animals more
useful than foxes, namely, several of those small wild boars
which had already been seen to the north of the lake.
Pencroft had no need to ask if these beasts were eatable,
He could see that by their resemblance to the pig of
America and Europe.
â€œBut these are not pigs,â€ said Herbert to him, â€œI warn
you of that, Pencroft.â€
â€œMy boy,â€ replied the sailor, bending over the trap and
drawing out one of these representatives of the family of szs
by. the little appendage which served it asa tail. â€œLet me
believe that these are pigs!â€
DROPPED: FROM THE CLOUDS, 205
â€œBecause. that pleases me!â€
â€œAre you very fond of pig then, Pencroft ?â€
â€œTI am very fond of pig,â€ replied the sailor, â€œparticularly
of its feet, andjif it had eight instead: of four, I should like
it twice as much!â€
As to the animals in question, they were peccaries
belonging to one of the four species which are included in
the family, and they were also of the species of Tajacu,
recognizable by their deep colour and the absence of those
long teeth with which: the mouths of their congeners are
armed. These peccaries generally live in herds, and it was
probable that. they abounded in the woody parts of the
At any rate, they were eatable from head to foot, and
Pencroft. did, not ask moreâ€™ from them.
Towards the 15th of August, the state of the a ee
was suddenly moderated by the wind shifting to â€˜the north-
west. The temperature rose some degrees, and the accu-
mulated vapour in the air was not long in resolving into
snow. . All the island was covered with a sheet of white, and
showed itself to its inhabitants under a new aspect. The
snow fell abundantly. for several days, and it soon â€˜reached
a thickness. of two feet. ;
The wind also blew with great.violence, and at the
height, of Granite House the sea could be heard thundering
against, the. reefs... In some. places, the wind, eddying
296 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
round the corners, formed theâ€™ snow into tall whirling
columns, resembling those waterspouts which turn round
on their base, and which vessels attack with a shot from a
gun. However, the storm, coming from the north-west,
blew across the island, and the position of Granite House
preserved it from a direct attack.
But inthe midst of this snow-storm, as terrible as if it
had been produced in some polar country, neither Cyrus
Harding nor his companions could, notwithstanding their
wish for it, venture forth, and they remained shut up for five
days, from the 20th to the 25th of August. They: could
hear the tempest raging in the Jacamar woods, which would
surely suffer from it. Many of the trees would no doubt
be torn. up by the roots, but Pencroft consoled: himself by
thinking that he would not have the trouble of cutting them
â€œ The wind is turning woodman, let it alone,â€ he repeated.
Besides, there was no way of stopping it, if they had
wished to do so.
How grateful the inhabitants of Granite House. then
were to Heaven for having prepared for them this solid
and immoveable retreat! Cyrus Harding had also â€˜his
legitimate share of thanks, but after all, it was Nature who
had hollowed out this vast cavern, and he had only dis-
covered it. There all were in safety, and the tempest
could not reach them. If they had constructed a house of
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 207
bricks and wood â€˜on Prospect Heights, it certainly would
not have: resisted â€˜the fury of this storm. As â€˜to the
Chimneys, it must have been absolutely uninhabitable, for
the sea, passing over the islet, would beat furiously against
it. But here, in Granite House, in: the middle of a solid
mass, over which neither the sea nor air had any influence,
there was nothing to fear.
During these days of seclusion the settlers did not
There was no want of wood, cut up into ina in the
store-room, and little by little they completed their furnish-
ing; constructing the most solid of tables and chairs, for
material was not spared. â€˜Neb and Pencroft were very.
proud of this rather heavy furniture, which they would not
have changed on any account. :
Then the carpenters became basket-makers, and they
did not succeed badly in this new manufacture. At the
point of the lake which projected: to the north, they hadâ€™
discovered an osier-bed in which grew a large number of
purple osiers.. Before â€˜the rainy season, Pencroft and
Herbert had. cut down these useful -shrubs, and their
branches, well prepared, could now be effectively. employed.
The first attempts were somewhat crude, but in conse-
quence of the cleverness and intelligence of the workmen,
by consulting, and recalling the models which. they: had
seen, and by emulating each other, the possessions of the
208 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. |
colony. were soon-increased by several baskets of different
sizes. The store-room was provided with them, and in
special baskets: Neb placed his collections, of rhizomes,
stone-pine almonds, &c. -
During, the last week of the month of August the
weather moderated. again. The temperature fell a little,
and the tempest abated. The colonists sallied out directly.
There was certainly two feet of snow on the shore, but
they were able to walk without much difficulty on the
hardened surface.: Cyrus Harding and: his companions
climbed Prospect Heights.
What.a change!. The woods, which they had left green,
especially in the part at, which the firs predominated, had.
disappeared under a uniform colour. All was white, from
the summit of Mount Franklin to the shore, the forests, the
plains, the lake, the river. The waters of the Mercy flowed
under a roof of ice, which, at each rising and ebbing of the
tide, broke up with-loud crashes.. Numerous birds fluttered
over the frozen surface of the lake. Ducks and snipe, teal
and. guillemots were assembled in thousands. The rocks
among which the cascade flowed were bristling with icicles,
One might have said that the water escaped by a monstrous
gargoyle, ornamented as grotesquely as an artist of thÃ©
Renaissance. As to the damage caused by the storm in
the forest, that could not as yet be ascertained, they must
wait till the snowy covering was dissipated.
THE CASCADE OF ICE.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 299
Gideon Spilett, Pencroft, and Herbert did not miss this
opportunity of going to visit their traps. They did not
find them easily, under the snow with which they were
covered. They had also to be careful not to fall into one
or other of them, which would have been both danger-
ous and humiliating; to be taken in their own snares!
But happily they avoided this unpleasantness, and found
their traps perfectly intact. No animal had fallen into
them, and yet the footprints in the neighbourhood were
very numerous, amongst others, certain very clear marks
of claws. Herbert did not hesitate to affirm that some
animal of the feline species had passed there, which justi-
fied the engineerâ€™s opinion that dangerous beasts existed in
Lincoln Island. These animals doubtless generally lived
in the forests of the Far West, but pressed by hunger, they
had ventured as far as Prospect Heights. Perhaps they
had smelt out the inhabitants of Granite House.
â€œNow, what are these feline creatures?â€ asked Pencroft.
. â€œ They are tigers,â€ replied Herbert.
â€œI thought those beasts were only found in hot
â€œOn the newcontinent,â€ replied the lad, â€œthey are found
from Mexico to the Pampas of Buenos Ayres. Now, as
Lincoln Island is nearly under the same latitude as the
provinces of La Plata, it is not surprising that tigers are te
be met with in it.â€
300 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œWell, we must look out for them,â€ replied Pencroft.
However, the snow soon disappeared, quickly dissolving
under the influence of the rising temperature. Rain fell,
and the sheet of white soon vanished. Notwithstanding
the bad: weather, the settlers renewed their stores of dif-
ferent things, stone-pine almonds, rhizomes, syrup from
the maple-tree, for the vegetable part; rabbits from the
warren, agouties, and kangaroos for the animal part. This
necessitated several excursions into the forest, and they
found that a great number of trees had been blown down
by the last hurricane. Pencroft and Neb also pushed with
the cart as far as the vein of coal, and brought back
several tons of fuel. They saw in passing that the pottery
kiln had been severely damaged by the wind, at least six
feet of it having been blown off.
At the same time as theâ€™ coal, the store of wood was
renewed at Granite House, and they profited by the
current of the Mercy having again become free, to float
down several ratts. They could see that the cold period
was not ended.
A visit was also paid to the Chimneys, and the settlers
could not but congratulate themselves on not having been
living there during the hurricane. The sea had left un-
questionable traces of its ravages. Sweeping over the islet,
it had furicusly assailed the passages, half filling them
with sand, while thick beds of sea-weed covered the
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 30)
rocks, Whilst Neb, Herbert, and Pencroft hunted or
collected wood, Cyrus Harding and Gideon Spilett busied
themselves in putting the Chimneys to rights, and they
found the forge and the bellows almost unhurt, protected
as they had been from the first by the heaps of sand.
_ The store of fuel had not been made uselessly. The
settlers had not done with the rigorous cold. It is known
that, in the northern hemisphere, the month of February is
principally distinguished by rapid fallings of the tempera-
ture. Itâ€˜is the same in the southern hemisphere, and the
end of the month of August, which is the February of
North America, does not escape this climateric law.
About the 25th, after another change from snow to rain,
the wind shifted to the south-east, and the cold became,
suddenly, very severe. According to the engineer's calcu-
lation, the mercurial column of a Fahrenheit thermometer
would not have marked less than eight degrees below zero,
and this intense cold, rendered still more painful by a
sharp gale, lasted for several days. The colonists were
again shut up in Granite House, and as it was necessary to
hermetically seal all the openings of the facade, only
leaving a narrow passage for renewing the air, the con-
sumption of candles was considerable. To economize
them, the cavern was often only lighted by the blazing
hearths, on which fuel was not spared. Several times, one
or other of the settlers descended to the beach in the midst
302 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
of ice which the waves heaped up at each tide, but they
soon climbed up again to Granite House, and it was not
without pain and difficulty that their hands could hold to
the rounds of the ladder. In consequence of the intense
cold, their fingers felt as if burnt when they touched. the
rounds. To occupy the leisure hours, which the tenants of
Granite House now had at their disposal, Cyrus Harding
undertook an operation which could be performed in-
We know that the settlers had no other sugar at thcir
disposal than the liquid substance which they drew from the
maple, by making deep incisions in the tree. They con-
tented themselves with collecting this liquor in jars and
employing it in this state for different culinary purposes,
and â€˜the more so, as on growing old, this liquid began to
become white and to be of a syrupy consistency.
But there was something better to be made of it, and
one day Cyrus Harding announced to his companions that
they were going to turn into refiners.
â€œRefiners!â€ replied Pencroft. â€œThat is rather a warm
trade, I think.â€
â€œ Very warm,â€ answered the engineer.
â€œThen it will be seasonable!â€ said the sailor.
This word refining need not awake in the mind thoughts
of an elaborate manufactory with apparatus and numerous
workmen. No! to crystallize this liquor, only an extremely
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS, 303
easy operation is required. Placed on the fire in large
earthen pots, it was simply subjected to evaporation, and
soon a scum arose to its surface. As soon as this began
to thicken, Neb carefully removed it with a wooden
spatula; this accelerated the evaporation, and at the same
time prevented it from contracting an empyreumatic
After boiling for several hours on a hot fire, which did
as much good to the operators as the substance operated
upon, the latter was transformed into a thick syrup. This
syrup was poured into clay moulds, previously fabricated
in the kitchen stove, and to which.they had given various
shapes. The next day this syrup had become cold, and
formed cakes and tablets. This was sugar of rather a
reddish colour, but nearly transparent and of a delicious
The cold continued to the middle of September, and the
prisoners in Granite House began to find their captivity
rather tedious. Nearly every day they attempted sorties
which they could not prolong. They constantly worked
at the improvement of their dwelling. They talked whilst
working. Harding instructed his companions in many
things, principally explaining to them the practical appli-
cations of science. The colonists had no library at their
disposal ; but the engineer was a book which was always
at hand, always open at the page which one wanted, a
304. THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
book which answered all their questions, and which they
often consulted. The time thus passed away pleasantly
these brave men not appearing to have any fears for the
However, all were anxious to see, if not the fine season,
at least the cessation of the insupportable cold. If only
they had been clothed in a way to meet it, how many
excursions they would have attempted, either to the
downs or to Tadornâ€™s Fens! Game would have been
easily approached, and the chase would certainly have
been most productive. But Cyrus Harding considered it
of importance that no one should injure his health, for he
had need of all his hands, and his advice was followed.
But it must be said, that the one who was most impa-
tient of this imprisonment, after Pencroft. perhaps, was
Top. The faithful dog found Granite House very narrow.
He ran backwards and forwards from one room to another,
showing in his way how weary he was of being shut up.
Harding often remarked that when he approached the
dark well which communicated with the sea, and of which
the orifice opened at the back of the store-room, Top
uttered singular growlings. He ran round and round this
hole, which had been covered with a wooden lid. _Some-
times even he tried to put his paws under the lid, as if he
wished to raise it, He then yelped in a peculiar way,
which showed at once anger and uneasiness, .
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 305
The engineer observed this manceuvre several times.
What could there be in this abyss to make such an
impression on the intelligent animal? The well led to the
sea, that was certain. Could narrow passages spread from
it through the foundations of the island ? Did some marine
monster come from time to time, to breathe at the bottom
of this well? The engineer did not know what to think,
and could not refrain from dreaming of many strange
improbabilities. Accustomed to go far into the regions of
scientific reality, he would not allow himself to be drawn
into the. regions of the strange and almost of the super-
natural ; but yet how to explain why Top, one of those
sensible dogs who never waste their time in barking at the
moon, should persist in trying with scent and hearing to
fathom this abyss, if there was nothing there to cause his
uneasiness ?. Topâ€™s conduct puzzled Cyrus Harding even
more than he cared to acknowledge to himsel..
At all events, the engineer only communicated his im-
pressions to Gideon Spilett, for he thought it useless to
explain to his companions the suspicions which arose from
. what perhaps was only Topâ€™s fancy.
At last the cold ceased. There had been rain, squalls
mingled with snow, hailstorms, gusts of wind, but these
inclemencies did not last. The ice melted. the snow dis-
appeared ; the shore, the plateau, the banks of the Mercy,
306 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
the forest, again became practicable. This return of spring
delighted the tenants of Granite House, and they soon
only passed in it the hours necessary for eating and
They hunted much in the second part of September,
which led Pencroft to again entreat for the fire-arms, which
he asserted had been promised by Cyrus Harding. The
latter, knowing well that without special tools it would be
nearly impossible for him to manufacture a gun which
would be of any use, still drew back and put off the
operation to some future time, observing in his usual
dry way, that Herbert and Spilett had become very
skilful archers, so that many sorts of excellent animals,
agouties, kangaroos, capyboras, pigeons, bustards, wild
ducks, snipes, in short, game both with fur and feathers,
fell victims to their arrows, and that, consequently, they
could wait. But the obstinate sailor would listen to
nothing of this, and he would give the engineer no peace
till he promised to satisfy his desire. Gideon Spilett,
however, supported Pencroft.
â€œTf, which may be doubted,â€ said he, â€œthe island is
inhabited by wild beasts, we must think how to fight with
and exterminate them. A time may come when this will
be our first duty.â€
But at this period, it was not the question of fire- arms
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 307
which occupied Harding, but that of clothes. Those which
the settlers wore had passed this winter, but they would
not last until next winter. Skins of carnivora or the wool
of ruminants must be procured at any price, and since
there were plenty of musmons, it was agreed to consult on
the means of forming a flock which might be brought up
for the use of the colony. An enclosure for the domestic
animals, a poultry-yard for the birds, in a word to establish
a sort of farm in the island, such were the two important
projects for the fine season.
In consequence and in view of these future establish-
ments, it became of much importance that they should
penetrate into all the yet unknown parts of Lincoln Island,
that is to say, through that thick forest which extended
onthe right bank of the Mercy, from its mouth to the
extremity of the Serpentine peninsular, as well as on the
whole of its western side. But this needed settled weather,
and a month must pass before this exploration could be
They therefore waited with some impatience, when an
incident occurred which increased the desire the settlers
had to visit the whole of their domain.
It was the 24th of October. On: this day, Pencroft had
gone to â€˜visit his traps, which he always kept properly
baited. In one of them he found three animals which
308 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
would be very welcome for the larder. They were a
female peccary and her two young ones.
Pencroft then returned to Granite House, enchanted
with his capture, and as usual, he made a great show of
â€œCome, we shall have a grand feast, captain!â€ he
exclaimed. â€œAnd you too, Mr. Spilett, you will eat
â€œI shall be very happy,â€ replied the reporter ; â€œ but what
is it that I am going to eat?â€
â€œOh indeed, sucking-pig, Pencroft? To hear you, I
thought that you were bringing back a young partridge
stuffed with truffles !â€
â€œWhat ?â€ cried Pencroft. â€œDo you mean to say that
you turn up your nose at sucking-pig ?â€
â€œNo,â€ replied Gideon Spilett, without showing any
enthusiasm ; â€œ provided one doesnâ€™t eat too muchâ€”â€
â€œ Thatâ€™s right, thatâ€™s right,â€ returned the sailor, who was
not pleased whenever he heard his chase made light of.
â€œYou like to make objections. Seven months ago, when
we landed on the island, you would have been only too
glad to have met with such game!â€
â€œ Well,well,â€ replied the reporter, â€œman is never perfect,
MILLI YP j,
IT WAS A LEADEN BULLET.
DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS. 309
â€œNow,â€ said Pencroft, â€œI hope that Neb will distinguish
himself. Look here! These two little peccaries are not
more than three months old! They will be as tender as
quails! Come along, Neb, come! I will look after the
And the sailor, followed by Neb, entered the kitchen,
where they were soon absorbed in their culinary labours.
They were allowed to do it in their own way. Neb,
therefore, prepared a magnificent repastâ€”the two little
peccaries, kangaroo soup, a smoked ham, stone-pine
almonds, Oswego tea; in fact, all the best that they had,
but amongst all the dishes figured in the first rank the
At five oâ€™clock dinner was served in the dining-room of
Granite House. The kangaroo soup was smoking on the
table. They found it excellent.
To the soup succeeded the peccaries, which Pencroft
insisted on carving himself, and of which he served out
monstrous portions to each of the guests.
These sucking-pigs were really delicious, and Pencroft
was devouring his share with great gusto, when all at once
a cry and an oath escaped him.
â€œ What's the matter ?â€ asked Cyrus Harding.
â€œThe matter? the matter is that I have just broken a
tooth !â€ replied the sailor.
310 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œWhat, are there pebbles in your peccaries ?â€ said Gideon
â€œTsuppose so,â€ replied Pencroft, drawing from his lips
the object which had cost him a grinder !|â€”
It was not a pebbleâ€”it was a leaden bullet.
END OF DROPPED FROM THE CLOUDS.
Press or RAND, AVERY, & CO., BOSTON.
HE SEIZED THE JAGUARâ€™S THROAT WITH ONE POWERFUL HAND.
The Mysterious Jsland_
CONVERSATION ON THE SUBJECT OF THE BULLETâ€”CON-
_ STRUCTION OF .A CANOEâ€”HUNTINGâ€”AT THE TOP
OF A KAURIâ€”NOTHING TO ATTEST THE PRESENCE
OF MANâ€”NEB. AND HERBERT'S PRIZEâ€”TURNING A
TURTLEâ€”THE TURTLE DISAPPEARSâ€”CYRUS HARD-
IT was now exactly seven months since the balloon
voyagers had been thrown on Lincoln Island.â€™ During that
time, notwithstanding the researches they had made, no
human being had beenâ€™ discovered. No smoke even had
betrayed the presenceâ€™of man on the surface of the island.
No vestiges of his handiwork showed that either at an early.
or at alate â€˜petiod had man lived there. Not only did. it
now appear to be uninhabitedâ€™ by any but: themselves, but
the colonists were-compelled to believe that it never had
been inhabited: Â» And.now, all this scaffolding of reasonings
2 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
fell before a simple ball of metal, found in the body of an
inoffensive rodent! In fact, this bullet must have issued
from a fire-arm, and who but.a human being could have
used such a weapon ? . .
When Pencroft had placed the bullet on the table, his
companions looked at it with intense astonishment. All
the consequences likely to result from this incident, not-
withstanding its apparent insignificance, immediately took
possession of their minds. The sudden apparition of a
supernatural being could not have startled them more
Cyrus Harding did not hesitate to give utterance to the
suggestions which this fact, at once surprising and unex-
pected, could not fail to raise in his mind. He took the
bullet, turned it over and over, rolled it between his finger
and thumb ; then, turning to Pencroft, he asked,â€”
â€œ Are you sure that the peccary wounded by this bullet
was not more than three months old ?â€
â€œNot more, captain,â€ replied Pencroft. â€œIt was still
sucking its mother when I found it in the trap.â€
â€œWell,â€ said the engineer, â€˜â€˜that proves that within three
months a gun-shot was fired in Lincoln Island.â€
-â€œ And that a bullet,â€ added Gideon Spilett, â€œwounded,
though not mortally, this little animal.â€
â€œThat is unquestionable,â€ said Cyrus Harding, â€œand
these are the deductions which must be drawn from this
' THE ABANDONED. 3
incident: that the island was inhabited before our arrival,
or that men have landed here within three months. Did
these men arrive here voluntarily or involuntarily, by
disembarking on the shore or by being wrecked? This
point can only be cleared up later. As to what they were,
Europeans or Malays, enemies or friends of our race, we
cannot possibly guess; and if they still inhabit the island,
or if they have left it, we know not. But these questions
are of too much importance to be allowed to remain long
â€œNo! a hundred times no! a thousand times no!â€ cried
the sailor, springing up from the table. â€œThere are no
other men than ourselves on Lincoln Island! By my
faith! The island isnâ€™t large, and if it had been inhabited,
we should have seen some of the inhabitants long before
â€œTn fact, the contrary would be very astonishing,â€ said
â€œBut it would be much more astonishing, I should
think,â€ observed the reporter, â€œ that this peccary should have
been born with a bullet in its inside!â€
â€œ At least,â€ said Neb seriously, â€œif Pencroft has not
â€œLook here, Neb,â€ burst out Pencroft. â€œDo you think
I could have a bullet in my jaw for five or six months
without finding it out? Where could it be hidden?â€ he
4 TIIE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
asked, opening his mouth to show the two-and-thirty teeth
with which it was furnished. â€œ Look well, Neb, and if you
find one hollow tooth in this set, I will let you pull out
half a dozen!â€ . :
â€œNebâ€™s supposition is certainly inadmissible,â€ replied
Harding, who, notwithstanding the gravity of his thoughts,
could not restrain a smile. â€œIt is certain that a gun has
been fired in the island, within three months at most.. But
I am inclined to think that the people who landed on this
coast were only here a very short time ago, or that they
just touched here ; for if, when we surveyed the island from
the summit of Mount Franklin, it had been inhabited, we
should have seen them or we should have been seen our-
selves. It is therefore probable that within only a few
weeks castaways have been thrown by a storm on some
part of the coast. However that may be, it is of
â€˜consequence to us to have this point settled.â€
â€œT think that we should act with caution,â€ said the
â€œSuch is my advice,â€ replied Cyrus Harding, â€œfor it is
to be feared that Malay pirates have landed on the island!â€
â€œ Captain,â€ asked the sailor, â€œwould it not be a good
plan, before setting out, to build a canoe in which we could
either ascend the river, or, if we liked, coast round the
island? It will not do to be unprovided.â€
â€œYour idea is good, Pencroft,â€ replied. the engineer,
THE â€˜ABANDONED. 5
â€œbut we cannot wait for that. It would take at least a
month to build a boat.â€
â€œYes, a real boat,â€ replied the sailor; â€œbut we do not
want one for a sea voyage, and in five days at the most, I
will undertake to construct a canoe fit to navigate the
â€œ Five days,â€ cried Neb, â€œto build a boat?â€
â€œYes, Neb; a boat in the Indian fashion.â€
â€œ Of wood?â€ asked the negro, looking still unconvinced.
â€œOf wood,â€ replied Pencroft, â€œor rather of bark. I
repeat, captain, that in five days the work will be
â€œIn five days, then, be it,â€ replied the engineer.
â€œBut till that time. we must be very watchful,â€ said
â€œVery watchful indeed, my friends,â€ replied Harding ;
â€œand I beg you to confine your hunting excursions to the
neighbourhood of Granite House.â€
The dinner ended less gaily than Pencroft had hoped. -
So, then, the island was, or had been, inhabited by others
than the settlers. Proved as it was by the incident of the
bullet, it was hereafter an unquestionable fact, and such a
discovery could not but cause great uneasiness amongst
Cyrus Harding and Gideon Spilett, before sleeping,
conversed long about the matter, They asked themselves
6 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
if by chance this: incident might not have some connexion
with the inexplicable way in which the engineer had been
saved, and the other peculiar circumstances which had
struck them at different times. However, Cyrus Harding,
after having discussed the pros and cons of the question,
ended by saying,â€”
â€œTn short, would you like to know my opinion, my dear
â€œVes, Cyrusâ€ ;
â€˜Well, then, it is this: however minutely we explore
the island, we shall find nothing.â€
The next day Pencroft set to work. He did not mean
to build a boat with boards and planking, but simply a
flat-bottomed canoe, which would be well suited for
navigating the Mercyâ€”above all, for approaching its
source, where the water would naturally be shallow.
Pieces of bark, fastened one to the other; would form a
light boat ; and in case of natural obstacles, which would
render a portage necessary, it would be easily carried,
Pencroft intended to secure the pieces of bark by means of
nails, to insure the canoe being water-tight.
It was first necessary to select the trees which would
afford a strong and supple bark for the work.. Now the
last storm had brought down a number of large birch-trees,
the bark of which would be perfectly suited for their
purpose. Some of these trees lay on the ground, and they
â€œTHE ABANDONED. 7
had only to be barked, which was the most difficult thing
of all, owing to the imperfect tools which the settlers
possessed. However, they overcame all difficulties.
Whilst the sailor, seconded by the engineer, thus
occupied himself without losing an hour, Gideon Spilett
and Herbert were not idle. They were made purveyors to
the colony. The reporter could not but admire the boy,
who had acquired great skill in handling the bow and
spear. Herbert also showed great courage and much of
that presence of mind which may justly be called â€œthe
reasoning of bravery.â€ These two companions of the
chase, remembering Cyrus Hardingâ€™s recommendations, did.
not go beyond a.radius of two miles round Granite House;
but the borders of the forest furnished a sufficient tribute of
agoutis, capybaras, kangaroos, peccaries, &c.; and if the
result from the traps was less than during the cold, still the
warren yielded its accustomed quota, which might have fed
all the colony in Lincoln Island.
Often during these excursions, Herbert talked with
Gideon Spilett on the incident of the bullet, and the
deductions which the engineer drew from it, and one dayâ€”
it was the 26th of Octoberâ€”he said,â€”
â€œBut, Mr. Spilett, do you not think it very extraordinary
that, if any castaways have landed on the island, they have
not yet shown themselves near Granite House ?â€
â€œVery astonishing if they are still here,â€ replied the
8 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
reporter, â€œbut not astonishing at all if they are here no
â€œSo you think that these people have already quitted the
island?â€ returned Herbert.
â€œIt is more than probable, my boy; for if their stay was
prolonged, and above all, if they were still here, some
accident would have at last betrayed their presence.â€
â€œBut if they were able to go away,â€ observed the lad,
â€œthey could not have been castaways.â€
â€œNo, Herbert; or, at least, they were what might be
called provisional castaways. It is very possible that a
storm may have driven them to the island without destroy-
ing their vessel, and that, the storm over,they went away
â€œT. must acknowledge one thing,â€ said Herbert, â€œit is
that Captain Harding appears rather to fear than desire the
presence of human beings on our island.â€
â€œIn short,â€™ responded the reporter, â€œthere are only
Malays who frequent these seas, and those fellows are
ruffians which it is best. to avoid.â€
â€œIt is:not:impossible, Mr. Spilett,â€ saidâ€™ Herbert, â€œthat
some day or other we may find traces of their landing.â€
â€œI do not say no, my boy. A deserted camp, the ashes
of a fire, would put us on the track, and this is what we will
â€˜ook for in our next expedition.â€
. The day on which the hunters spoke thus, they were in a
THE ABANDONED. 9
part of the forest near the Mercy, remarkable for its beau-
tiful trees, There, among others, rose, to a height of nearly
200 feet above the ground, some of those superb conifere,
to which, in New Zealand, the natives give the name of
â€œTI have an idea, Mr. Spilett,â€ said Herbert. â€œIf I were
to:climb to the top of one of these kauris, I could survey
the country for an immense distance round.â€
â€œThe idea is good,â€ replied the reporter, â€œbut could you
climb to the top of those giants ?â€
â€œT can at least try,â€ replied Herbert.
The light and active boy then sprang.on the first
vranches,' the arrangement of which made the ascent of
the kauri easy, and in a few minutes he arrived at the
summit, which emerged from the immense plain of verdure.
From this elevated situation his gaze extended over all
the southern portion of the island, from Claw Cape on the
south-east, to Reptile End on the south-west. To the
north-west rose Mount Franklin, which concealed a great
part of the horizon.
But. Herbert, from the height of his observatory, could
examine all the yet unknown portion of the island which
might have given shelter to the strangers whose presence
The lad looked attentively. There was nothing in sight
on the sea, not a sail, neither on the horizon nor near the
10 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
island. However, as the bank of trees hid the shore, it
was possible that a vessel, especially if deprived of her
masts, might lie close to the land and thus be invisible to
Neither in the forests of the Far West was anything to
be seen. The wood formed an impenetrable screen, mea-
suring several square miles, without a break or an opening
It was impossible even to follow the course of the Mercy,
or to ascertain in what part of the mountain it took its
source. Perhaps other creeks also ran towards the west,
but they could not be seen.
But at last, if all indication of an encampment escaped
Herbertâ€™s sight, could he not even catch a glimpse of
smoke, the faintest trace of which would be easily discernible
in the pure atmosphere?
For an instant Herbert thought he could perceive a
slight smoke in the west, but a more attentive examination
showed that he was mistaken. He strained his eyes in
every direction, and his sight was excellent. No, decidedly
there was nothing there. ;
Herbert descended to the foot of the kauri, and the two
sportsmen returned to Granite House. There Cyrus Hard.
ing listened to the ladâ€™s account, shook his head and said
nothing. It was very evident that no decided opinion
could be pronounced on this question until after a complete
exploration of the island,
TURNING A TURTLE.
- THE ABANDONED. II
- Two days â€˜afterâ€”the 28th of Octoberâ€”another â€˜incident
occurred, for which an explanation was again required.
Whilst strolling along the shore about two milÃ©s from
Granite House,. Herbert and: Neb were fortunate enough to
capture'a magnificent specimenâ€™ of the order of chelonia.
It was a turtle of the species Midas, the edible green turtle,
so called from the colour both of its shell and fat.
Herbert caught sight of this turtle as. it was crawling
among the rocks:to reach the sea,
â€œHelp, Neb, help!â€ he cried;
Neb ran up.
â€œWhat a fine animal !â€ â€˜said mae â€œbut how are we to
â€œNothing is easier, Neb,â€ replied Herbert. . â€œWe â€˜have
only to turn the turtle on its back, and it cannot possibly
get away. Take your spear and do as I do.â€
: The reptile, aware of danger, had retired between its cara-
pace and plastron.. They no longer saw: its head or feet,
and it was motionless as a rock.
â€˜Herbert and Neb then drove their sticks underneath the
animal, and by their united efforts managed without
difficulty to turn it on its back. The turtle, which was three
feet in length, would have = at least four hundred
â€œCapital!â€ cried Neb; â€œthis is something which will
rejoice friend Pencroftâ€™s heart.â€
12 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
In fact, the heart of friend Pencroft could not fail toâ€™ be
rejoiced, for the flesh of the turtle, which feeds on wrack-
grass, is extremely savoury. At this moment the creatureâ€™s
head could be seen, which was small, flat, but widened
behind by the large temporal fossze hidden under. the
â€œ And now, what shall we do with our prize?â€ said Neb,
â€œWe canâ€™t drag it to Granite House!â€
â€œLeave it here, since it cannot turn over,â€ replied Her-
bert, â€œand we will come back with the cart to fetch it.â€
â€œThat is the best plan.â€
However, for greater precaution, Herbert took the
trouble, which Neb deemed superfluous, to wedge up the
animal with great stones; after which the two hunters
returned to Granite House, following the beach, which the
tide had left uncovered. Herbert, wishing to surprise
Pencroft, said nothing about the â€œsuperb specimen of a
chelonianâ€ which they had turned over on the sand ; but,
two hours later, he and Neb returned with the cart to the
place where they had left it. The â€œsuperb specimen of a
chelonian â€ was no longer there! .
Neb and Herbert stared at each other first; then they
stared about them. It was just at this spot that the turtle
had been left. The lad even found the stones which he
had used, and therefore he was certain of not being
THE ABANDONED, 13
â€œWell!â€ said Neb, â€œthese beasts can turn themselves
over, then?â€ .
â€œIt appears so,â€ replied Herbert, who could not under-
stand it at, all, and was gazing at the stones scattered.on
the sand. â€™
â€œWell, Pencroft will be disgusted !â€
â€œAnd Captain Harding will perhaps be very per-
plexed how to explain this disappearance,â€ shoveht
â€œLook here,â€ said Neb, ai wished to hide his ill-luck,
â€œwe won't speak about it.â€
â€œOn the contrary, Neb, we must speak about it,â€ replied
And the two, taking the cart, which there was now no use
for, returned:to:Granite House.
. Arrived at the dockyard, where the engineer and the
sailor were working together, Herbert recounted what had
â€œOh! the stupids!â€ cried the Ã©silon Â« â€œto have let at fess
fifty-meals escape!â€ - .
â€œBut, Pencroft,â€ replied Neb, â€œit wasnâ€™t our fault that the
beast got away ; as I tell you, we had turned it over on its
â€œThen you didnâ€™t turn it over enough!â€ returned the
â€œNot enough!â€ cried Herbert.
14 : THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œAnd he told how he had taken care to wedge up the
turtle with stones,
â€œIt is a miracle, then!â€ replied Pencroft.
â€œT thought, â€˜captain,â€ said Herbert, â€œthat turtles, once
placed on their backs, could not regain their feet, especially
when they are of a large size?â€ Ee
â€œThat is true, my boy,â€ replied Cyrus oe
- â€œThen how did it manage?â€
â€œ At what distance from the sea did you leave this
turtle?â€ asked the engineer, who, having suspended a
work, was reflecting on this incident.
â€œ Fifteen feet at the most,â€ replied Herbert.
â€œ And the tide was low at the time?â€
â€œWell,â€ replied the engineer, â€œwhat the turtle could not
do on the'sand it might have been able to â€˜do â€˜in the water.
It turned over when the tide overtook it, and then quietly
returned to the deep sea.â€
~ â€œOh! what stupids we were!â€ cried Neb,
â€œ That is precisely what I had the honour of ee you
before!â€ returned the sailor.
Cyrus Harding -had given this explanation, which, no
doubt, was admissible. But was he himself convinced of
the â€˜accuracy of -this-Ã©xplanation?.. It cannot be said: that
THE ABANDONED. : 15
' CHAPTER IL
FIRST TRIAL OF. THE CANOEâ€”A WRECK ON THE COAST
â€”TOWINGâ€”FLOTSAM POINTâ€”INVENTORY OF THE
CASE: TOOLS, WEAPONS, INSTRUMENTS, CLOTHES,
BOOKS, UTENSILSâ€”WHAT PENCROFT MISSESâ€”THE
GOSPELâ€”A VERSE FROM THE SACRED BOOK.
ON the oth of October the bark canoe was entirely finished.
Pencroft had kept his promise, and a light boat, the shell
of which was joined together by the flexible twigs of the
crejimba, had been constructed in five days. A seat in the
stern, a second seat in the middle to preserve the equili-
brium, a third seat in the bows, rowlocks for the two oars,
a scull to steer with, completed the little craft, which
was twelve feet long, and did not weigh more than 200
â€˜The operation of launching it was extremely simple.
The canoe was carried to the beach and laid on the sand
before Granite House, and the rising tide floated it. Pen-
croft, who leapt in directly, manceuvred it with the scull
16 HE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
and declared it to be just the thing for the purpose to
which they wished to put it.
â€œHurrah!â€ cried.the sailor, who did not disdain to cele-
brate thus his own triumph. â€˜With this we could go
â€œThe world ?â€ asked Gideon Spilett.
â€œNo, the island. Some stones for ballast, a mast and a
sail, which the captain will make for us some day, and we
shall go splendidly! Well, captainâ€”and you, Mr. Spilett;
and you, Herbert; and you, Nebâ€”arenâ€™t you coming to
try our new vessel? Come along! we must see if it will
carry all five of us!â€
This was certainly a trial which ought to be made. Pens
croft soon brought the canoe to the shore by a narrow
passage among the rocks, and it was agreed that they
should make a trial of the boat that day by following the
shore as far as the first point at which the rocks of the
As they embarked, Neb cried,â€”
â€œBut your boat leaks rather, Pencroft.â€
â€œThatâ€™s nothing, Neb,â€ replied the sailor; â€œthe wood
will get seasoned. In two days there wonâ€™t be a single
leak, and our boat will have no more water in her than
there is in the stomach of a drunkard. Jump in!â€
They were soon all seated, and Pencroft shoved off.
The weather was magnificent, the sea as calm as in its
. THE ABANDONED. 17
waters were contained within the narrow limits of a lake.
Thus the boat could proceed. with as much security as if it
was ascending the tranquil current of the Mercy.
Neb took one of the oars, Herbert the other, and Pen-
croft remained in the stern in order to use the scull.
The sailor first crossed the channel, and steered close to
the southern point of the islet. A light breeze blew from
the south. , No roughness-was found either in the channel
or the green sea. A long sweâ€™!, which the canoe scarcely
felt, as it was heavily laden, rolled regularly over the surface
of the water. They pulled out about half a mile distant
from the shore, that they might have a good view of Mount
Pencroft afterwards returned towards the. mouth of the
river. The-boat then skirted the shore, which, extending
to the extreme point, hid all Tadornâ€™s Fens.
This point, of which the distance was increased by the
irregularity of the coast, was nearly three miles from the
Mercy. The settlers resolved to go to its extremity, and
only,.go, beyond it as much as was necessary, to take a
rapid survey of the coast as far as Claw Cape.
The canoe followed the windings of the shore, avoiding
the rocks which fringed. it, and which the rising tide began
to cover. . The cliff gradually sloped away from the mouth
of the river tothe point. .This was formed of granite.rocks,
capriciously distributed, very â€˜different from theâ€™ cliff at
18 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Prospect Heights,'and of an extremely wildâ€™ aspect: â€œIt
might have â€˜beenâ€™ saidâ€™ thatâ€™ an immense cartload of rocks
had been emptied out'there. Â© There was no vegetation on
this sharp promontory, which projected two milesâ€™ from the
forest, andâ€™ it: thusâ€™ represented a giantâ€™s arm stretched out
from a leafy sleeve.
o-The canoe, impelled by the two oars, advanced without
difficulty.â€™ Gideon â€˜Spilett, â€˜pencil in oneâ€™ hand and 'note-
book: inthe other; sketched the coast -in- boldâ€™ strokes.
Neb, Herbert, and Pencroft chatted, whilst examining this
part of their domain,â€˜ which was new to them, and, in
proportion: â€˜as: the canoe proceeded towards the south, the
two Mandible Capes appeared to move, and surround
Union Bay more closely.
â€œAs to Cyrusâ€™ Harding, he did not speak; he sant
aac, and by the mistrust which his look expressed, it
appeared that he was examining some strange country.
Inthe meanwhile, after a voyage of three quarters of an
hour, the canoe reached the extremity of the point, and
Pencroftâ€™ was preparing to return, when Herbert, rising,
pointed to a black object, saying,â€”
â€œWhat do I see down there on the beach ?â€
All eyes turned towards the point indicated,
â€œWhy,â€ said the reporter, â€œthere is something. -It looks
like part: of a wreck half buried in the sand.â€
Â». â€œAh!â€ cried Pencroft, â€œ1 seeâ€™what it is)":
-- THE. ABANDONED. -,- ig.
Â¢. What ? ?â€ asked Neb.
â€œBarrels, barrels, which perhaps. are fall, â€ replied the
â€œ Pull to the shore, Pencroft!â€ said. Cae
A few strokes of the oar brought the canoe into a little
creek, and its passengers leapt on shore.
Pencroft was not mistaken: Two barrels were there half
buried in the sand, but still firmly attached to a large
chest, which, sustained, by them, had floated to the moment
when it stranded on the beach. 3
â€œThere has been a wreck, then, in some part of the
island,â€ said Herbert.
â€œEvidently,â€ replied Spilett.
â€œBut whatâ€™s in this chest?â€ cried Pencroft, with very
natural impatience. â€˜ Whatâ€™s in this chest? It is shut up,
and nothing to open it with! Well, perhaps a stoneâ€”â€
And the sailor, raising a heavy block, was about to break
in one of the sides of the chest, when the engineer arrested
â€œ Pencroft,â€ said he, â€œcan. you restrain your impatience
for one hour only?â€
â€œBut, captain, just think! Perhaps there is everything
we want in there!â€
â€œWe shall find that out, Pencroft,â€ replied the engineer ;
â€œbut trust to me, and do not break the chest, which may be
useful to us, We, must.convey it,to. Granite House, where
20: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
we can open it easily, and without breaking it. It is quite
prepared for a voyage ; and, since it has floated here, it
may just as well float to the mouth of the river.â€
â€œYou are right, captain, and I was wrong, as usual,â€
replied the sailor.
The engineerâ€™s advice was good. â€˜In fact, the canoe pro-
bably would not have been able to contain the articles
possibly enclosed in the chest, which doubtless was heavy,
since two empty barrels were required to buoy it up. It
was, therefore, much better to tow it to the beach at
And now, whence had this chest come? That was the
important question. Cyrus Harding and his companions
looked attentively around them, and examined the shore
for several hundred steps. No other articles or pieces
of wreck could be found. Herbert and Neb climbed
a high rock to survey the sea, but there was nothing
in â€˜sightâ€”neither a dismasted vessel nor a ship under
However, there was no doubt that there had been a
wreck. Perhaps this incident was connected with that of
the bullet? Perhaps strangers had landed on another part
of the island? Perhaps they were still there? But the
thought which came naturally to the settlers was, that
these strangers could not be Malay pirates, for the chest
was evidently of American or European make.
THE ABANDONED. 21
All the party returned to the chest, which was of an
unusually large size. It was made of oak wood, very
carefully closed and covered with a thick hide, which was
secured by copper nails. The two great. barrels, her-
metically sealed, but which sounded hollow and empty, were
fastened to its sides by strong ropes, knotted with a skill
which Pencroft directly pronounced sailors alone could
exhibit. It appeared to be in a perfect state of preserva-
tion, which was explained by the fact that it had stranded
on a sandy beach, and not among rocks, They had no
doubt whatever, on examining it carefully, that it had not
been long in the water, and that its arrival on this coast was
recent. The water did not appear to have penetrated to
the inside, and the articles which it contained were no
doubt uninjured. .
It was evident that this chest had been thrown over-
board from some dismasted vessel driven towards the
island, and that, in the hope that it would reach the land,
where they might afterwards find it, the passengers had
taken the precaution to buoy it up by means of this
â€œWe will tow this chest to Granite House,â€ said the
engineer, â€œwhere we can make an inventory of its. con-
tents; then, if we discover any of the survivors from the
supposed wreck, we can return it to those to whom it
belongs. If we find no oneâ€”â€
22 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
â€œWe will keep it for ourselves!â€ cried Pencroft. â€œ But
what in the world can there be in it?â€
The sea was already approaching the chest, and the high
tide would evidently float it. One of the ropes which
fastened the barrels was partly unlashed and used as a
cable to unite the floating apparatus with the canoe.
Pencroft and Neb then dug away the sand with their oars,
so as to facilitate the moving of the chest, towing which
the boat soon began to double the point, to which the
name of Flotsam Point was given.
The chest was heavy, and the barrels were scarcely
sufficient to keep it above water. The sailor also feared
every instant that it would get loose and sink to the
bottom of the sea. But happily his fears were not
realized, and an hour and a half after they set outâ€”
all that time had been taken up in going a distance
of three milesâ€”the boat touched the-beach below Granite
Canoe and chest were then hauled up on the sand; and
as the tide was then going out, they were soon left high
and dry. Neb, hurrying home, brought back some tools
with which to open the chest in such a way that it might
be injured as little as possible, and they proceeded to its
inventory. Pencroft did not try to hide that he was
The sailor began by detaching the two barrels, which,
THE ABANDONED. 23
being in good condition, would of course be of use. Then
the locks were forced with a cold chisel and hammer,
and the lid thrown back. A second casing of zinc lined
the interior of the chest, which had been evidently arranged
that the articles which it enclosed might under any cir-
cumstances be sheltered from damp.
â€œOh!â€ cried Neb, â€œ suppose itâ€™s jam!â€
â€œT hope not,â€ replied the reporter.
â€œTf only there wasâ€”â€™ said the sailor in a low
â€œWhat?â€ asked Neb, who overheard him.
The covering of zinc was torn off and thrown back over
the sides of the chest, and by degrees numerous articles
of very varied character were produced and strewn about
on the sand. At each new object Pencroft uttered fresh
hurrahs, Herbert clapped his hands, and Neb dancedâ€”
like a nigger. There were books which made Herbert
wild with joy, and cooking utensils which Neb covered
with kisses !
In short, the colonists had reason to be extremely satis-
fied, for this chest contained tools, weapons, instruments,
clothes, books ; and this is the exact list of them as stated
in Gideon Spilettâ€™s note-book :â€”
Tools :â€”3 knives with several blades, 2 woodmenâ€™ S axes,
2 carpenterâ€™s hatchets, 3 planes, 2 adzes, 1 twibil or mat-
24 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
tock, 6 chisels, 2 files, 3 hammers, 3 gimlets, 2 augers,
10 bags of nails and screws, 3 saws of different sizes,
2 boxes of needles.
Weapons:â€” 2 flint-lock guns, 2 for percussion caps,
2: breech-loader carbines, 5 boarding cutlasses, 4 sabres,
2 barrels of powder, each containing twenty-five pounds ;
12 boxes of percussion caps,
Instruments â€”1 sextant, 1 double opera-glass, 1 tele-
scope, 1 box of mathematical instruments, 1 marinerâ€™s
compass, 1 Fahrenheit thermometer, 1 aneroid barometer,
1 box containing a photographic apparatus, object- â€”
plates, chemicals, &c.
Clothes :â€”z2 dozen shirts of a peculiar material resem-
bling wool, but evidently of a vegetable origin; 3 dozen
stockings of the same material.
Utensils:â€”1 iron pot, 6 copper saucepans, 3 iron dishes,
10 metal plates, 2 kettles, 1 portable stove, 6 table-
Books :â€”1 Bible, 1 atlas, 1 dictionary of the different
Polynesian idioms, 1 dictionary of natural science, in six
volumes ; 3Â° reams of white paper, 2 books with blank
â€œIt must be allowed,â€ said the reporter, after the inven-
tory had been made, â€œthat the owner of this chest was a
practical man! Tools, weapons, instruments, clothes, uten-
sils, booksâ€”nothing is wanting! It might really be said
UNPACKING THE MARVELLOUS CHEST,
TIE ABANDONED. 25
that he expected to be wrecked, and had prepared for it
â€œ Nothing is wanting, indeed,â€ murmured Cyrus Harding
â€œ And for a certainty,â€ added Herbert, â€œthe vessel which
carried this chest and its owner was not a Malay pirate!â€
â€œUnless,â€ said Pencroft, â€œthe owner had been taken
prisoner by piratesâ€”â€
â€œThat is not admissible,â€ replied the reporter. â€œIt is
more probable that an American or European vessel has
been driven into this quarter, and that her passengers,
wishing to save necessaries at least, prepared this chest and
threw it overboard.â€
â€œTs that your opinion, captain?â€ asked Herbert.
â€œYes, my boy,â€ replied the engineer, â€œthat may have
been the case. It is possible that at the moment, or in
expectation of a wreck, they collected into this chest dif-
ferent articles of the greatest use in hopes of finding it
again onâ€™ the coastâ€”â€
â€œEven the photographic box!â€ exclaimed the sailor
â€œAsto that apparatus,â€ replied Harding, â€œI do not quite
see the use of it; and a more complete supply of clothes
or more abundant ammunition would have been more
valuable to us as well as to any other castaways!â€
â€œBut isnâ€™t there any mark or direction on these instru-
26 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
ments, tools, or books, which would tell us something
about them ?â€ asked Gideon Spilett.
That might be ascertained. Each article was carefully
examined, especially the books, instruments and weapons.
Neither the weapons nor the instruments, contrary to the
usual custom, bore the name of the maker; they were,
besides, in a perfect state, and did not appear to have
been used. The same peculiarity marked the tools and
utensils ; all were new, which proved that the articles had
not been taken by chance and thrown into the chest, but,
on the contrary, that the choice of the things had been
well considered and arranged with care. This was also
indicated by the second case of metal which had preserved
them from damp, and which could not have been soldered
in a moment of haste.
As to the dictionaries of natural science and Polynesian
idioms, both were English ; but they neither bore the name
of the publisher nor the date of publication.
The same with the Bible printed in English, in quarto,
remarkable in a typographical point of view, and which
appeared to have been often used.
The atlas was a magnificent work, comprising maps of
every country in the world, and several planispheres
arranged upon Mercatorâ€™s projection, and of which the
nomenclature was in Frenchâ€”but which also bore neither
date nor name of publisher,
THE ABANDONED. 27
There was nothing, therefore, on these different articles
by which they could be traced, and nothing consequently
of a nature to show the nationality of the vessel which must
have recently passed these shores.
But, wherever the chest might have come from, it
was a treasure to the settlers on Lincoln Island. Till
then, by making use of the productions of nature, they
had created everything for themselves, and, thanks to
their intelligence, they had managed without difficulty.
But did it not appear as if Providence had wished
to reward them by sending them these productions of
human industry? Their thanks rose unanimously to
However, one of them was not quite satisfied: it was
Pencroft. It appeared that the chest did not contain
something which he evidently held in great esteem, for in
proportion as they approached the bottom of the box, his
hurrahs diminished in heartiness, and, the inventory finished,
he was heard to mutter these words :â€”
â€œThatâ€™s all very fine, but you can see that there is
nothing for me in that box!â€
This led Neb to say,â€”
â€œWhy, friend Pencroft, what more do you expect?â€
â€œHalf a pound of tobacco,â€ replied Pencroft seriously,
â€œand nothing would have been wanting to complete my
28 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
No. one couldâ€™ help laughing at this speech of the
But the result of this discovery of the chest was, that
it was now more than ever necessary to explore the island
thoroughly. It was therefore agreed that the next morning
at break of day they should set out, by ascending the
Mercy so as to reach the western shore. If any castaways
had landed on the coast, it was to be feared they were
without resources, and it was therefore the more necessary
to carry help to them without delay.
During the day the different articles were. carried to
Granite House, where they were methodically arranged in
the great hall.
This dayâ€”the 29th of Bases to be a
Sunday, and, before going to bed, Herbert asked the
engineer if he would not read them something from the
â€œWillingly,â€ replied Cyrus Harding,
He took the sacred volume, and was about to open it,
when Pencroft stopped him, saying,â€”
â€œCaptain, I am superstitious. Open at random and
read the first verse which your eye falls rer We will
see if it applies to our: situation.â€
Cyrus Harding smiled at the sailorâ€™s idea, and, yielding
to his wish, he opened exactly at a place where the leaves
were separated by a marker.
THE ABANDONED. 29
Immediately his eyes were attracted by a cross which,
made with a pencil, was placed against the eighth verse of
the seventh chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew. He
read the verse, which was this :â€”
â€œFor every one that asketh receiveth; and he that
30 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
THE STARTâ€”THE RISING TIDEâ€”ELMS AND DIFFERENT
PLANTSâ€”THE JACAMARâ€”ASPECT OF THE FORESTâ€”
GIGANTIC EUCALYPTIâ€”THE REASON THEY ARE
CALLED â€œ FEVER TREESâ€â€”TROOPS OF MONKEYSâ€”
A WATER-FALLâ€”THE NIGHT ENCAMPMENT.
THE next day, the 30th of October, all was ready for the
proposed exploring expedition, which recent events had
rendered so necessary. In fact, things had so come
about that the settlers in Lincoln Island no longer
needed help for themselves, but were even able to carry it
It was therefore agreed that they should ascend the
Mercy as far as the river was navigable. A great part of
the distance would thus be traversed without fatigue, and
the explorers could transport their provisions and arms
to an advanced point in the west of the island.
It was necessary to think not only of the things which
they should take with them, but also of those which they
THE ABANDONED. 31
might have by chance to bring back to Granite House. If
there had been a wreck on the coast, as was supposed,
there would be many things cast up, which would be
lawfully their prizes. In the event of this, the cart would
have been of more use than the light canoe, but it was
heavy and clumsy to drag, and therefore more difficult to
use; this led Pencroft to express his regret that the chest
had not contained, besides â€œhis half-pound of tobacco,â€ a
pair of strong New Jersey horses, which would have been
very useful to the colony !
The provisions, which Neb had already packed up, con-
sisted of a store of meat and of several gallons of beer,
that is to say enough to sustain them for three days, the
time which Harding assigned for the expedition. They
hoped besides to supply themselves on the road, and Neb
took care not to forget the portable stove.
The only tools the settlers took were the two wood-
menâ€™s axes, which they could use to cut a path through the
thick forests, as also the instruments, the telescope and
For weapons they selected the two flint-lock guns, which
were likely to be more useful to them than the percussion
fowling-pieces, the first only requiring flints which could be
easily replaced, and the latter needing fulminating caps, a
frequent use of which would soon exhaust their limited
stock. However, they took also one of the carbines and
32 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
some cartridges. -As to the powder, of which there was
about fifty pounds in the barrel, a small supply of it had
to be taken, but the engineer hoped to manufacture an
explosive substance which would allow them to husband it.
To the fire-arms were added the five cutlasses well sheathed
in leather, and, thus supplied, the settlers could venture into
the vast forest with some chance of success,
It is useless to add that Pencroft, Herbert, and Neb,
thus armed, were at the summit of their happiness,
although Cyrus Harding made them promise not to fire a
shot unless it was necessary.
At six in the morning the canoe put off from the shore;
all had embarked, including Top, and they proceeded to
the mouth of the Mercy.
The tide had begun to come up half an hour before.
For several hours, therefore, there would be a current,
which it was well to profit by, for later the ebb would
make it difficult to ascend the river. The tide was already
strong, for in three days the moon would be full, and it
was enough to keep the boat in the centre of the current,
where it floated swiftly along between the high banks with-
out its being necessary to increase its speed by the aid of
the oars. In a few minutes the explorers arrived atthe
angle formed by the Mercy, and exactly at the place
where, seven months before, Pencroft had made his first
raft of wood. . |
THE ABANDONED, 33
After this sudden angle the river widened and flowed
under the shade of great evergreen firs.
-The aspect of the banks was magnificent. Cyrus Harding
and his companions could not but admire the lovely effects
so easily produced by nature with water and trees.. As
they advanced. the forest element diminished. On the
right bank of the river grew magnificent specimens of the
ulmacez tribe, the precious elm, so valuable to builders,
and which withstands well the action of water. Then
there were numerous groups belonging to the same family,
amongst others one in particular, the fruit of which pro-
duces a very useful oil. Further on, Herbert remarked
the lardizabala, a twining shrub which, when bruised in
water, furnishes excellent cordage; and two or three
ebony trees of a beautiful black, crossed with capricious
From time to time, in certain places where the landing.
was easy, the canoe was stopped, when Gideon Spilett,
Herbert, and Pencroft, their guns in their hands, and
preceded by Top, jumped on shore. Without expecting
game, some useful plant might be met with, and the young
naturalist was delighted with discovering a sort of wild
spinage, belonging to the order of chenopodiacese, and
numerous specimens of cruciferae, belonging to the cabbage
tribe, which it would certainly be possible to cultivate by
transplanting. There were cresses. horse-radish, turnips,
34 â€˜ THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
and lastly, little branching hairy stalks, scarcely more than
three feet high, which produced brownish grains.
â€œDo you know what this plant is?â€ asked Herbert of
â€œTobacco!â€ cried Pencroft, who evidently had never
seen his favourite plant except in the bowl of his pipe.
â€œNo, Pencroft,â€ replied Herbert ; â€œthis is not tobacco, it
â€œMustard be hanged!â€ returned the sailor; â€œ but if by
chance you happen to come across a tobacco-plant, my
boy, pray donâ€™t scorn that!â€
â€œWe shall find it some day!â€ said Gideon Spilett.
â€œWell!â€ exclaimed Pencroft, â€œwhen that day comes, I
do not know what more will be wanting in our island!â€
These different plants, which had been carefully rooted
up, were carried to the canoe, where Cyrus Harding had
remained buried in thought.
The reporter, Herbert, and Pencroft in this manner
frequently disembarked, sometimes on the right oe
sometimes on the left bank of the Mercy.
The latter was less abrupt, but the former more wooded.
The engineer ascertained by consulting his pocket compass
that the direction of the river from the first turn was
obviously. south-west and north-east, and nearly straight
for a length of about three miles. But it was to be sup-
posed that this direction changed beyond that point, and
Is IT TOBACCO?
THE ABANDONED. 35
that the Mercy continued to the north-west, towards the
spurs of Mount Franklin, among which the river rose.
During one of these excursions, Gideon Spilett managed
to get hold of two couples of living gallinaceze. They were
birds with long, thin beaks, lengthened necks, short wings,
and without any appearance of a tail. Herbert rightly
gave them the name of tinamons, and it was resolved that
they should be the first tenants of their future poultry-
But till then the guns had not spoken, and the first
report which awoke the echoes of the forest of the Far
West was provoked by the appearance of a beautiful bird,
resembling the kingfisher.
â€œT recognize him!â€ cried Pencroft, and it seemed as if
his gun went off by itself.
â€œWhat do you recognize?â€ asked the reporter.
â€œThe bird which escaped us on our first excursion, and
from which we gave the name to that part oi the forest.â€
â€œ A jacamar!â€ cried Herbert.
It was indeed a jacamar, of which the plumage shines
with a metallic lustre. A shot brought it to the ground,
and Top carried it to the canoe. At the same time half a
dozen lories were brought down, The lory is of the size of
a pigeon, the plumage dashed with green, part of the wings
crimson, and its crest bordered with white. To the young
hoy belonged the honour o. this shot, and he was proud
36 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
enough of it. LoriÃ©s are better food than the jacamar, the
flesh of which is rather tough, but it was difficult to
persuade. Pencroft that he had not killed the king ot
eatable birds.. It was ten oâ€™clock in the morning when the
canoe reached a second angle of the Mercy, nearly five
miles from its mouth. Here a halt was made for breakfast
under the shade of some splendid trees. The river still
measured from sixty to seventy feet in breadth, and its bed
from five to six feet in depth. The engineer had observed
that it was increased by numerous affluents, but they were
unnavigable, being simply little streams. As to the forest,
including Jacamar Wood, as well as the forests of the Far
West, it extended as far as the eye could reach. Inno
place, either in the depths of the forest or under the trees
on the banks of the Mercy, was the presence of man
revealed.. The explorers could not discover one suspicious
trace. It was evident that-the woodmanâ€™s axe had never
touched these trees, that the pioneerâ€™s knife had never
severed the creepers hanging from one trunk to another in
the midst of tangled brushwood and long grass. If cast-
aways had landed on the island, they could not have yet
quitted the shore, and it was not in the woods that the
survivors of the supposed shipwreck should be sought.
The engineer therefore manifested some impatience to
reach the western coast of Lincoln Island, which was at
least five miles distant according to his estimation,
TUE HALT FOR BREAKFAST.
THE ABANDONED. 37
The voyage was continued, and as the Mercy appeared
to flow not towards the shore, but rather towards Mount
Franklin, it was decided that they should use the boat as
long as there was enough water under its keel to float it.
It was both fatigue spared and time gained, for they would
have been obliged to cut a path through the thick wood
with their axes. But soon the flow completely failed them,
either the tide was going down, and it was about the hour,
or it couid no longer be felt at this distance from the mouth
of the Mercy. They had therefore to make use of the
oars, Herbert and Neb each took one, and Pencroft took
the scull. The forest soon became less dense, the trees
grew further apart and often quite isolated. But. the
further they were from each other the more magnificent
they appeared, profiting, as they did, by the free, pure air
which circulated around them.
What splendid specimens of the Flora of this latitude!
Certainly their presence would have been enough for a
botanist to name without hesitation the parallel which
traversed Lincoln Island.
â€œEucalypti!â€ cried Herbert,
They were, in fact, those splendid trees, the giants of
the extra-tropical zone, the congeners of the Australian
and New Zealand eucalyptus, both situated under the
same latitude as Lincoln Island. Some rose to a height of
two hundred feet. Their trunks at the base measured
38 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
twenty feet in circumference, and their bark was covered
by a network of furrows containing a red, sweet-smelling
gum. Nothing is more wonderful or more singular than
those enormous specimens of the order of the myrtacee,
with their leavesâ€™ placed vertically and not horizontally, so
that an edge and not a surface looks upwards, the effect
being that the sunâ€™s rays penetrate more freely among the
The ground at the foot of the eucalypti was carpeted
with grass, and from the bushes escaped flights of little
birds, which glittered in the sunlight like winged rubies.
â€œThese are something like trees!â€ cried Neb; â€œbut are
they good for anything ?â€
â€œPooh!â€ replied Pencroft. â€œ Of course there are vege-
table giants as well as human giants, and they are no good,
except to show themselves at fairs !â€
â€œJT think that you are mistaken, Pencroft,â€ replied
Gideon Spilett, â€œand that the wood of the eucalyptus
has begun to be very advantageously employed in cabinet-
â€œAnd I may add,â€ said Herbert, â€œthat the eucalyptus
belongs to a family which comprises many useful-members ;
the guava-tree, from whose fruit guava jelly is made; the
clove-tree, which produces the spice; the pomegranate-
tree, which bears pomegranates ; the Eugeacia Cauliflora,
the fruit of which is used in making a tolerable wine ; the
- THE ABANDONED. 39
Ugui myrtle, which contains an excellent alcoholic liquor ;
the Caryophyllus myrtle, of which the bark forms an
esteemed cinnamon; the Eugenia Pimenta, from whence
comes Jamaica pepper; the common myrtle, from whose
buds and berries spice is sometimes made; the Eucalyptus
manifera, which yields a sweet sort of manna; the Guinea
Eucalyptus, the sap of which is transformed into beer by
fermentation ; in short, all those trees known under the
name of gum-trees or iron-bark trees in Australia, belong
to this family of the myrtacez, which contains forty-six
genera and thirteen hundred species!â€
The lad was allowed to run on, and he delivered his little
botanical lecture with great animation. Cyrus Harding
listened smiling, and Pencroft with an indescribable feeling
â€œVery good, Herbert,â€ replied Pencroft, â€œbut I could
swear that all those useful specimens you have just told us
about are none of them giants like these!â€ _
â€œThat is true, Pencroft.â€
â€œThat supports what I said,â€ returned the sailor,
â€œnamely, that these giants are good for nothing!â€
â€œThere you are wrong, Pencroft,â€ said the engineer ;
â€œthese gigantic eucalypti, which shelter us, are good for
And what is that ?â€
â€œTo render the countries which they inhabit healthy
qo THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Do you know what they are called in Australia and New
â€œ They are called â€˜fever trees,â€™â€
â€œ Because they give fevers ?â€
â€œNo, because they prevent them !â€
â€œGood. I must note that,â€ said the reporter,
â€œNote it then, my dear Spilett; for it appears proved
that the presence of the eucalyptus is enough to neutralize
miasmas.. This natural antidote has been tried in certain
countries in the middle of Europe and the north of Africa,
where the soil was absolutely unhealthy, and the sanitary
condition of the inhabitants has been gradually ameliorated,
No more intermittent: fevers: prevail in the regions now
covered with forests of the myrtacee. This fact is now
beyond doubt, and it is a happy circumstance for us
settlers in Lincoln Island.â€
â€œAh! what an island! What a blessed island!â€ cried
Pencroft. I tell you, it wants nothingâ€”unless it isâ€”â€
â€œThat will come, Pencroft, that will. be found,â€ replied
the engineer; â€œbut now we must continue our voyage and
push on as far as the river will carry our boat!â€
The exploration was therefore continued for another
two miles in the midst of country covered with eucalypti,
which predominated in the woods of this portion of the
island. . The space which they occupied extended as far as
THE ABANDONED. 41
the eye could reach on each side of the Mercy, which
wound along between high green banks. The bed was
often obstructed by long weeds, and even by pointed rocks,
which rendered the navigation very difficult. The action
of the oars was prevented, and Pencroft was obliged to
push with a pole. They found also that the water was
becoming shallower and shallower, and that the canoe
must soon stop. The sun was already sinking towards
the horizon, and the trees threw long shadows on the
ground. Cyrus Harding, seeing that he could not hope
to reach the western coast of the island in one journey,
resolved to camp at the place where any further naviga-
tion was prevented by want of water. He calculated that
they were still five or six miles from the coast, and this
distance was too great for them to attempt traversing
during the night in the midst of unknown woods.
The boat was pushed on through the forest, which
gradually became thicker again, and appeared also to
have more inhabitants; for if the eyes of the sailor did
not deceive him, he thought he saw bands of monkeys
springing among the trees: Sometimes even two or three
of these animals stopped at a little distance from the
canoe and gazed at the settlers without manifesting any
terror, as if, seeing men for the first time, they had not yet
learned to fear them. It would have been easy to bring
down one of these quadrumani with a gunshot, and Pen-
42 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
croft was greatly tempted to fire, but Harding opposed so
useless a massacre. This was prudent, for the monkeys,
or apes rather, appearing to be very powerful and extremely
active, it was useless to provoke an unnecessary aggression,
and the creatures might, ignorant of the power of the ex-
plorersâ€™ fire-arms, have attacked them. It is true that the
sailor considered the monkeys from a purely alimentary
point of view, for those animals which are herbivorous make
very excellent game; but since they had an abundant supply
of provisions, it was a pity to waste their ammunition.
Towards four o'clock, the navigation of the Mercy: became
exceediugly difficult, for its course was obstructed by
aquatic plants and rocks. The banks rose higher and
higher, and already they were approaching the spurs of
Mount Franklin. The source could not be far off, since it
was fed by the water from the southern slopes of the
â€œIn a quarter of an hour,â€ said the sailor, â€œwe shall be
obliged to stop, captain.â€
â€œVery well, we will stop, Pencroft, and we will make
our encampment for the night.â€
â€œAt what distance are we from Granite House?â€ asked
â€œ About seven miles,â€ replied the engineer, â€œtaking into
calculation, however, the dÃ©tours of the river, which has
carried us to the north-west.â€
THE ABANDONED. 43
â€œ Shall we go on?â€ asked the reporter.
â€œYes, as long as we can,â€ replied Cyrus Harding, â€œTo-
morrow, at break of day, we will leave the canoe, and in
two hours I hope we shall cross the distance which separates
us from the coast, and then we shall have the whole day in
which to explore the shore.â€
â€œGo-ahead!â€ replied Pencroft.
But soon the boat grated on the stony bottom of the
river, which was now not more than twenty feet in breadth.
The trees met like a bower overhead, and caused a half-
darkness. They also heard the noise of a waterfall, which
showed that a few hundred feet up the river there was a
Presently, after a sudden turn of the river, a cascade
appeared through the trees. The canoe again touched the
bottom, and in a few minutes it was moored to a trunk
near the right bank.
It was nearly five oâ€™clock. The last rays of the sun
gleamed through the thick foliage and glancedâ€™ on the
little waterfall, making the spray sparkle with all the
colours of the rainbow. Beyond that, the Mercy was lost
in the brushwood, where it was fed from some hidden
source, The different streams which flowed into it
increased it to a regular river further down, but here it
was simply a shallow, limpid brook.
It was agreed to camp here, as the place was charming.
44 THE. MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The colonists disembarked, and a-fire was. soon lighted
under a clump of trees, among the branches of which
Cyrus Harding and his companions could, if it was
necessary, take refuge for the night. Â©
Supper was quickly devoured, for they were very hungry,
and then there was only sleeping to think of. But, as
roarings of rather a suspicious nature had been heard
during the evening, a good fire was made up for the night,
so as to protect the sleepers with its crackling flames.
Neb and Pencroft also watched by turns, and did not
spare fuel. They thought they saw the dark forms of
some wild animals prowling round the camp among the
bushes, but the night passed without incident, and the
next day, the 31st of October, at five o'clock in the
morning, all were on foot, ready for a start.
THE ABANDONED. | 48
a ASE Nn
JOURNEY TO THE COASTâ€” TROOPS OF MONKEYS-â€”A NEW
RIVERâ€”THE REASON THE TIDE WAS NOT FELTâ€”A
WOODY SHOREâ€”REPTILE PROMONTORYâ€”HERBERT
ENVIES GIDEON SPILETTâ€”EXPLOSION OF BAMBOOS.
IT was six oâ€™clock in the morning when the settlers, after
a hasty breakfast, set out to reach by the shortest way
the western coast of the island. And how long would it
take to do this? Cyrus Harding had said two hours, but
of. course that depended on the nature of the obstacles
they might meet with. As it was probable that they would
have to cut a path through the grass, shrubs, and creepers,
they marched. axe in hand, and with. guns also ready,
wisely taking warning from the cries of the wild beasts
heard in the night.
The exact position of the encampment could be deter-
mined by the bearing of Mount Franklin, and as the
volcano arose in the north at a distance of less than three
miles, they had only to go straight towards the south-
46 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
west to reach the western coast. They set out, having
first carefully secured the canoe. Pencroft. and Neb
carried sufficient provisions for the little band for at least
two days. It would not thus be necessary to hunt. The
engineer advised his companions to refrain from firing,
that their presence might not be betrayed to any one near
the shore. The first hatchet blows were given among the
brushwood in the midst of some mastick-trees, a little
above the cascade; and his compass in his hand, Cyrus
Harding led the way.
The forest here was composed for the most part of trees
which had already been met with near the lake and on
Prospect Heights. There were deodars, Douglas firs, casu-
arinas, gum-trees, eucalypti, hibiscus, cedars, and other
trees, generally of a moderate size, for their number
prevented their growth. .
Since their departure, the settlers had descended the
slopes which constituted the mountain system of the island,
on to a dry soil, but the luxuriant vegetation of which
indicated it to be watered either by some subterranean
marsh or by some stream. However, Cyrus Harding did
not remember to have seen, at the time of his excursion to
the crater, any other watercourses but the Red Creek and
During the first part of their excursion, they saw nume-
rous troops of monkeys who exhibited great astonishment
DENIZENS OF THE FOREST.
THE ABANDONED. 47
at the sight of men, whose appearance was so new to them.
Gideon Spilett jokingly asked whether these active and
merry quadrupeds did not cons.der him and his companions
as degenerate brothers.
And certainly, pedestrians, hindered at each step by
bushes, caught by creepers, barred by trunks of trees, did
not shine beside those supple animals, who, bounding from
branch to branch, were hindered by nothing on their
course. The monkeys were numerous, but happily they
did not manifest any hostile disposition.
Several pigs, agoutis, kangaroos, and other rodents were
seen, also two or three kaolas, at which Pencroft longed
to have a shot.
â€œBut,â€ said he, â€œyou may jump and play just now; we
shall have one or two words to say to you on our way
At half-past nine the way was suddenly found to be
barred by an unknown stream, from thirty to forty feet
broad, whose rapid current dashed foaming over the nume-
rous rocks which interrupted its course. This creek was
deep and clear, but it was absolutely unnavigable.
â€œWe are cut off!â€ cried Neb.
** No,â€ replied Herbert, â€œit is only a stream, and we can
easily swim over.â€
â€œWhat would be the use of that ?â€ returned Harding.
â€œThis creek evidently runs to the sea. Let us remain
48 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
on this side and follow the bank, and I shall be much
astonished if it does not lead us very quickly to the coast.
â€œOne minute,â€ said the reporter. â€œThe name of this
creek, my friends? Do not let us leave our geography
â€œAll right!â€ said Pencroft.
â€œName it, my boy,â€ said the engineer, addressing the lad.
â€œWill it not be better to wait until we have explored it
to its mouth?â€ answered Herbert.
â€œVery well,â€ replied Cyrus Harding. â€œLet us follow it
as fast as we can without stopping.â€
â€œStill another minute!â€ said Pencroft.
â€œWhat's the matter?â€ asked the reporter.
â€œThough hunting is forbidden, fishing is allowed, I
suppose,â€ said the sailor.
â€œ We have no time to lose,â€ replied the engineer.
â€œOh! five minutes!â€ replied Pencroft, â€œI only ask for
five minutes to use in the interest of our breakfast!â€
And Pencroft, lying down on the bank, plunged his
arm into the water, and soon pulled up several dozen of fine
crayfish from among the stones.
â€œ These will be good!â€ cried Neb, going to the sailorâ€™s
â€œAs I said, there is everything in this island, except
tobacco!â€ muttered Pencroft with a sigh.
THE ABANDONED. 49
The fishing did not take five minutes, for the crayfish
were swarming in the creek. A bag was filled with the
crustacez, whose shells were of a cobalt blue. The settlers
then pushed on.
They advanced more rapidly and easily along the bank
of the river than in the forest. From time to time they
came upon the traces of animals of a large size who had
come to quench their thirst at the stream, but none were
actually seen, and it was evidently not in this part of the
forest that the peccary had received the bullet which had
cost Pencroft a grinder.
In the meanwhile, considering the rapid current, Hard-
ing was led to suppose that he and his companions were
much farther from the western coast than they had at first
supposed. In fact, at this hour, the rising tide would have
turned back the current of the creek, if its mouth had only
been a few miles distant. Now, this effect was not pro-
duced, and the water pursued its natural course. The
engineer was much astonished at this, and frequently
consulted his compass, to assure himself that some turn of.
the river was not leading them again into the Far West.
However, the creek gradually widened and its waters
became less tumultuous. The trees on the right bank
were as close together as on the left bank, and it was
impossible to distinguish anything beyond them ; but these
masses of wood were evidently uninhabited, for Top did not
50 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
bark, and the intelligent animal would not have failed to
signal the presence of any stranger in the neighbourhood.
At half-past ten, to the great surprise of Cyrus Harding,
Herbert, who was a little in front, suddenly stopped and
In a few minutes more, the whole western shore of the
island lay extended before the eyes of the settlers.
But what a contrast between this and the eastern coast,
upon which chance had first thrown them. No granite
cliff, no rocks, not even a sandy beach. The forest reached
the shore, and the tall trees bending over the water were
beaten by the waves. It was not such a shore as is usually
formed by nature, either by extending a vast carpet of
sand, or by grouping masses of rock, but a beautiful border
consisting of the most splendid trees. The bank was
raised a little above the level of the sea, and on this
luxuriant soil supported by a granite base, the fine forest
trees seemed to be as firmly planted as in the interior of
The colonists were then on the shore of an unimportant
little harbour, which would scarcely have contained even
two or three fishing-boats, It served as a neck to the new
creek, of which the curious thing was that its waters, instead
of joining the sea by a gentle slope, fell from a height of
mere than forty feet, which explained why the rising tide
THE ABANDONED. 51
was not felt up the stream. In fact, the tides of the Pacific,
even at their maximum of elevation, could never reach the
level of the river, and, doubtless, millions of years would
pass before the water would have worn away the granite
and hollowed a practicable mouth.
It was settled that the name of Falls River should be
given to this stream. Beyond, towards the north, the
forest border was prolonged for a space of nearly two
miles; then the trees became scarcer, and beyond that
again the picturesque heights described a nearly straight
line, which ran north and south. On the contrary, all the
part of the shore between Falls River and Reptile End was
a mass of wood, magnificent trees, some straight, others
bent, so that the long sea-swell bathed their roots. Now,
it was this coast, that is, all the Serpentine peninsula, that
was to be explored, for this part of the shore offered a
refuge to castaways, which the other wild and barren side
must have refused.
The weather was fine and clear, and from the height of a
hillock on which Neb and Pencroft had arranged breakfast,
a wide view was obtained. There was, however, not a sail
in sight; nothing could be seen along the shore as far as
the eye could reach. But the engineer would take nothing
for granted until he had explored the coast to the very
extremity of the Serpentine peninsula. ,
Breakfast was soon despatched, and at half-past eleven
52 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
the captain gave the signal for departure. Instead of
proceeding over the summit of a cliff or along a sandy
beach, the settlers were obliged to remain under cover of
the trees so that they might continue on the shore.
The distance which separated Falls River from Reptile
End was about twelve miles. It would have taken the
settlers four hours to do this, on a clear ground and without
hurrying themselves; but as it was they needed double
the time, for what with trees to go round, bushes to cut
down, and creepers to chop away, they were impeded at
every step, these obstacles greatly lengthening their
There was, however, nothing to show that a shipwreck
had taken place recently. It is true that, as Gideon
Spilett observed, any remains of it might have drifted out
to sea, and they must not take it for granted that because
they could find no traces of it,a ship had not been cast
away on the coast.
The reporter's argument was just, and besides, the
incident of the bullet proved that a shot must have been
fired in Lincoln Island within three months.
It was already five oâ€™clock, and there were still two miles
between the settlers and the extremity of the Serpentine
peninsula. It was evident that after having reached Reptile
End, Harding and his companions would not have time to
return before dark to their encampment near the source of
THE ABANDONED. 53
the Mercy. It would therefore be necessary to pass the
nightâ€™ on the promontory. But-they had no lack of
provisions, which was lucky, for there were no animals on
the shore, though birds, on the contrary, aboundedâ€”
jacamars, couroucoos, tragopans, grouse, lories, parrots,
cockatoos, pheasants, pigeons, and a hundred others.
There was not a tree without a nest, and not a nest which
was not full of flapping wings.
Towards: seven o'clock the weary explorers arrived at
Reptile End. Here the seaside forest ended. and the shore
resumed the customary appearance of a coast, with rocks,
reefs, and sands. It was possible that something might be
found here, but darkness came on, and the further explora-
tion had to be put off to the next day.
Pencroft and Herbert hastened on to find a suitable
place for their camp. Amongst the last trees of the forest
of the Far West, the boy found several thick clumps of
â€œGood,â€ said he; â€œthis is a valuable discovery.â€
â€œValuable?â€ returned Pencroft.
â€œCertainly,â€ replied Herbert. â€œI may say, Pencroft,
that the bark of the bamboo, cut into flexible laths, is used
for making baskets; that this bark,-mashed into a paste, is
used for the manufacture of Chinese paper ; that the stalks
furnish, according to their size, canes and pipes, and are
used for conducting water; that large bamboos make
54 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
excellent material for building, being light and strong, and
being never attacked by insects. I will add that by sawing
the bamboo in two at the joint, keeping for the bottom the
part of the transverse film which forms the joint, useful cups
are obtained, which are much in use among the Chinese.
No! you donâ€™t care for that. Butâ€”â€
â€œBut I can tell you, if you are ignorant of it, that in
India these bamboos are eaten like asparagus.â€
â€œAsparagus thirty feet high!â€ exclaimed the sailor.
â€œ And are they good ?â€
â€œExcellent,â€ replied Herbert. â€œOnly it is not the stems
of thirty feet high which are eaten, but the young shoots.â€
â€œ Perfect, my boy, perfect!â€ replied Pencroft.
â€œT will also add that the pith of the young stalks,
preserved in vinegar, makes a good pickle.â€ |
â€œBetter and better, Herbert!â€
â€œ And lastly, that the bamboos exude a sweet liquor
which can be made intÂ« a very agreeable drink.â€
â€œTs that all?â€ asked the sailor.
â€œThat is all!â€
â€œ And they donâ€™t happen to do for smoking ?â€
â€œNo, my poor Pencroft.â€
Herbert and the sailor had not to look long fora place in
which to pass the night. The rocks, which must have been
violently beaten by the sea under the influence of the winds
THE ABANDONED. 55
of the south-west, presented many cavities in which shelter
could be found against the night air. But just as they
were about to enter one of these caves a loud roaring
â€œBack!â€ cried Pencroft. â€œOur guns are only loaded
with small shot, and beasts which can roar as loud as that
would care no more for it than for grains of salt!â€ And
the sailor, seizing Herbert by the arm, dragged him behind
a rock, just as a magnificent animal showed itself at the
entrance of the cavern.
It was a jaguar of a size at least equal to its Asiatic
congeners, that is to say, it measured five feet from the
extremity.of its head to the beginning of its tail. The
yellow colour of its hair was relieved by streaks and regular
oblong spots of black, which contrasted with the white of
its chest. Herbert recognized it as the ferocious rival of
the tiger, as formidable as the puma, which is the rival of
the largest wolf!
The jaguar advanced and gazed around him with blazing
eyes, his hair bristling as if this was not the first time he
had scented men,
At this moment the reporter appeared round a rock, and
Herbert, thinking that he had not seen the jaguar, was
about to rush towards him, when Gideon Spilett signed to
him to remain where he was. . This was not his first tiger,
and advancing to within ten feet of the animal he remained
56 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
motionless, his gun to his shoulder, without moving a
muscle. The jaguar collected itself for a spring, but at
that moment-a shot struck it in the eyes, and it fell dead.
Herbert and Pencroft rushed towards the jaguar. Neb
and Harding also ran up, and they remained for some
instants contemplating the animal as it lay stretched on
the ground, thinking. that. its magnificent skin would be a
great ornament to the hall at Granite House.
â€œOh, Mr. Spilett; how I admire and envy you!â€ cried
Herbert, in'a fit of very natural enthusiasm.
â€œWell, my boy,â€ replied the reporter, â€œyou could have
â€œTI! with such coolness !|â€”â€ Sa,
â€œTmagine to yourself, Herbert, that the jaguar is only a
hare, and you would fire as quietly as possible.â€
â€œThat is,â€ rejoined Pencroft, â€œthat it is not more dan-
gerous than a hare!â€
â€œ And now,â€ said Gideon Spilett, â€œsince the jaguar has
left its abode, I do not see, my friends, why we should not
take possession of it for the night.â€
â€œBut others may come,â€ said Pencroft.
â€œTt will be enough to light a fire at the entrance of the
cavern,â€ said the reporter, â€œand no wild beasts will dare to
cross the threshold.â€
â€œInto the jaguarâ€™s house, then!â€ replied the sailor,
dragging after him the body of the animal.
AT THAT MOMENT A SHOT STRUCK THE JAGUAR BETWEEN
THE EYES, AND IT FELL DEAD.
THE ABANDONED. BF
Whilst Neb skinned the jaguar, his companions collected
an abundant supply of dry wood from the forest, which
they heaped up at the cave. -
Cyrus Harding, seeing the clump of bamboos, cut a
quantity, which he mingled with the other fuel.
This done, they entered the grotto, of which the floor
was strewn with bones, the guns were carefully loaded, in
case of a sudden attack, they had supper, and then just
before they lay down to rest, the heap of wood piled at the
entrance was set fire to. Immediately, a regular explosion,
or rather, a series of reports, broke the silence! The noise
was caused by the bamboos, which, as the flames reached
them, exploded like fireworks. The noise was enough to
terrify even the boldest of wild beasts.
It was not the engineer who had invented this way of
causing loud explosions, for, according to Marco Polo, the
Tartars have employed it for many centuries to drive away
from their encarmpments the formidable wild beasts of
Central Asia, â€˜
53. THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
PROPOSAL TO RETURN BY THE SOUTHERN SHOREâ€” CON-
FIGURATION OF THE COASTâ€”SEARCHING FOR THE
SUPPOSED WRECKâ€”A WRECK IN THE AIRâ€”DIS-
COVERY OF A SMALL NATURAL PORTâ€”AT MIDNIGHT
ON THE BANKS OF THE MERCYâ€”THE CANOE ADRIFT,
Cyrus HARDING and his companions slept like innocent
marmots in the cave which the jaguar had so politely left
at their disposal,
_At sunrise all were on the shore at the extremity of
the promontory, and their gaze was directed towards the
horizon, of which two-thirds of the circumference were
visible. For the last time the engineer could ascertain that
not a sail nor the wreck of a ship was on the sea, and even
with the telescope nothing suspicious could be discovered,
There was nothing either on the shore, at least, in the
straight line of three miles which formed the south side of
the promontory, for beyond that, rising ground hid the rest
of the coast, and even from the extremity of the Serpentine
peninsula Cape Claw could not be seen.
THE ABANDONED. 5G
The southern coast of the island still remained to be
explored. Now should they undertake it panes
and devote this day to it?
This was not included in their first plan. In fact, when
the boat was abandoned at the sources of the Mercy, it
had been agreed that after having surveyed the west coast,
they should go back to it, and return to Granite House by
the Mercy. Harding then thought that the western coast
would have offered refuge, either to a ship in distress, or to
a vessel in her regular course ; but now, as he saw that this
coast presented no good anchorage, he wished to seek on
the south what they had not been able to find on the
Gideon Spilett proposed to continue the exploration,
that the question of the supposed wreck might be com-
pletely settled, and he asked at what distance Claw Cape
might be from the extremity of the penitisula.
â€œ About thirty miles,â€ replied the engineer, â€œif we take
into consideration the curvings of the coast.â€ -
Thirty miles!â€ returned Spilett. â€œThat would be a
long dayâ€™s march. â€œNevertheless, I think thatâ€™ we should
return to Granite House by the south coast.â€
â€œ But,â€ observed Herbert, â€œfrom Claw Cape to Granite
House there must be at least another ten miles.â€
â€œMake it forty miles in all,â€ replied the engineer, â€œand
do not hesitate to do it. At least we should survey the
60 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
unknown shore, and then we shall not have to begin the
â€œVery good,â€ said Pencroft. â€œBut the boat ?â€
â€œThe boat has remained by itself for one day at the
sources of the Mercy,â€ replied Gideon Spilett; â€œit may
just as well stay there two days! As yet, we have had no
reason to think that the island is infested by thieves!â€
â€œYet,â€ said the sailor, â€œwhen I remember the history of
the turtle, I am far from confident of that.â€
â€œThe turtle! the turtle!â€ replied the reporter. â€œ Donâ€™t
you know that the sea turned it over ?â€
â€œWho knows ?â€ murmured the engineer.
â€œ Butâ€”â€ said Neb.
Neb had evidently something to say, for he opened his
mouth to speak and-yet said nothing.
â€œWhat do you want to say, Neb?â€ asked the engineer.
â€œTf we return â€˜by the shore to Claw Cape,â€ replied Neb,
â€œafter having doubled the Cape, we shall be stoppedâ€”â€
â€œBy the Mercy! of course,â€
shall have neither bridge nor boat by which to cross.â€
replied Herbert, â€œand we
â€œBut, captain,â€ added Pencroft, â€œwith a few floating
trunks we shall have no difficulty in crossing the river.â€
â€œNever mind,â€ said Spilett, â€œit will be useful to con-
struct a bridge if we wish to have an easy access to the Far
â€œA bridge!â€ cried Pencroft. â€œWell, is not the captain
THE ABANDONED. . : 61
the best engineer in his profession? He will make usa
bridge when we want one. As to transporting you this
evening to the other side of the Mercy, and that without
wetting one thread. of your clothes, I will take care of that.
We have provisions for.another day, and besides we can
get plenty of game. Forward!â€
The reporterâ€™s proposal, so strongly seconded by the
sailor, received general approbation, for each wished to
have their doubts set at rest, and by returning by Claw
Cape the exploration would be ended. But there was not
an hour to lose, for forty miles was a long march, and they
could not hope to reach Granite House before night.
At six oâ€™clock in the morning the little band set out.
â€˜As a precaution the guns were loaded with ball, and Top,
who led the van, received orders to beat about the edge of
From the extremity of the promontory which formed
the tail of the peninsula the coast was rounded for a
distance of five miles, which was rapidly passed over,
without even the most minute investigations bringing to
light the least trace of any old or recent landings; no
debris, no mark of an encampment, no, cinders of a fire, nor
even a footprint !
From the point of the peninsula on which the settlers
now were their gaze could extend along the south-west.
Twenty-five miles off the coast terminated in the Claw
62 , THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Cape, which loomed dimly through the morning mists, and
which, by the phenomenon of the mirage, appeared as if
suspended between land and water.
Between the place occupied by the colonists and the
other side of the immense bay, the shore was composed,
first, of a tract of low land, bordered in the background by
trees; then the shore became more irregular, projecting
sharp points into the sea, and finally ended in the black
rocks which, accumulated in picturesque disorder, formed
Such was the development of this part of the island,
which the settlers took in at a glance, whilst stopping for
â€œTf a vessel ran in here,â€ said Pencroft, â€œshe would
certainly be lost. Sandbanks and reefs everywhere |! Bad
â€œBut at least something would be left of the ship,â€
observed the reporter.
â€œThere might be pieces of wood on the rocks, but
nothing on the sands,â€ replied the sailor.
â€œ Because the sands are still more dangerous than the
rocks, for they swallow up everything that is thrown on
them. In a few days the hull of a ship of several hundred
tons would disappear entirely in there!â€
â€œSo, Pencroft,â€ asked the engineer, â€œif a ship has been
THE ABANDONED. 63
wrecked -on these banks, is it not astonishing that there is
now no trace of her remaining ?â€
_â€œNo, captain, with the aid of time and tempest. How-
ever, it would be surprising, even in this case, that some of
the masts or spars should not have. been thrown on the
beach, out of reach of the waves.â€
â€œLet. us go on with our search, then,â€ returned Cyrus
At one-oâ€™clock the colonists arrived at the other side of
Washington Bay, they having now gone a distance of
They then halted for breakfast.
Here began the irregular coast, covered with lines of
rocks and sandbanks. The long sea-swell could be seen
breaking over the rocks in the bay, forming a foamy
fringe. From this point to Claw Cape the beach was very
narrow between the edge of the forest and the reefs,
Walking was now more difficult, on account of the
numerous rocks which encumbered the beach. The granite
cliff also gradually increased in height, and only the green
tops of the trees which crowned it could be seen.
After half an hourâ€™s rest, the settlers resumed their
journey, and not a spot among the rocks was left un-
examined. Pencroft and Neb even rushed into the surf
whenever any object attracted their attention. But they
found nothing, some curious formations of the rocks having
64 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
deceived them. They ascertained, however, that eatable
shell-fish abounded there, but these could not be of any
great advantage to them until some easy means of commu-
nication had been established between the two banks of
the Mercy, and until the means of transport had been
- Nothing therefore which threw any light on the supposed
wreck could be found on this shore, yet an object of any
importance, such as the hull of a ship, would have been
seen directly, or any of her masts and spars would have
been washed on shore, just as the chest had been, which
was found twenty miles from here. But there was
Towards three oâ€™clock Harding and his companions
arrived at a snug little creek. It formed quite a natural
harbour, invisible from the sea, and was entered by a
At the back of this creek some violent convulsion had
torn up the rocky border, and a cutting, by a gentle slope,â€™
gave access to an upper plateau, which might be situated
at least ten miles from Claw Cape, and consequently four
miles in a straight line from Prospect Heights. Gideon
Spilett proposed to his companions that they should make.
a halt here. They agreed readily, for their walk had
sharpened their appetites ; and although it was not their
usual dinner-hour, no one refused to strengthen himself
THE ABANDONED. 65
with a piece of venison. This luncheon would sustain them
till their supper, which they intended to take at Granite
House. In a few minutes the settlers, seated under a
clump of fine sea-pines, were devouring the provisions
which Neb produced from his bag.
This spot was raised from fifty to sixty feet above the
level of the sea. The view was very extensive, but beyond
the cape it ended in Union Bay. Neither the islet nor
Prospect Heights were visible, and could not be from
thence, for the rising ground and the curtain of trees
closed the northern horizon.
It is useless to add that notwithstanding the wide
extent of sea which the explorers could survey, and
though the engineer swept the horizon with his glass, no
vessel could be found.
The shore was of course examined with the same care
from the edge of the water to the cliff, and nothing could
be discovered even with the aid of the instrument.
â€œWell,â€ said Gideon Spilett, â€œit seems we must make
up our minds to console ourselves with thinking that no
one will come to dispute with us the possession of Lincoln
â€œBut the bullet,â€ cried Herbert. â€œThat was not
imaginary, I suppose!â€
â€œHang it, no!â€ exclaimed Pencroft, thinking of his
66 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œThen what â€˜conclusion may be drawn?â€ asked the
â€œ This,â€ replied the engineer, â€œthat three months or
more ago, a vessel, either voluntarily or not, came here.â€
â€œWhat! then you admit, Cyrus, that she was swallowed
up without leaving any trace ?â€ cried the reporter.
â€œNo, my dear Spilett; but you see that if it is certain
that a human being set foot on the island, it appears no
less certain that he has now left it.â€
â€œ Then, if I understand you right, captain,â€ said Herbert,
â€œthe vessel has left again ?â€
â€œAnd we have lost an opportunity to get back to our
country ?â€ said Neb.
â€œ] fear so.â€
â€œVery well, since the opportunity is lost, let us go'on;
it canâ€™t be helped,â€ said Pencroft, who felt home-sickness
for Granite House.
But just as they were rising, Top was heard loudly
barking ; and the dog issued from the wood, holding in his
mouth a rag soiled with mud.
Neb seized it. It was a piece of strong cloth !
Top still barked, and by his going and coming, seemed
to invite his master to follow him into the forest.
â€œNow thereâ€™s something to explain the bullet!â€ ex-
S SOMETHING TO EXPLAIN THE BULLET
THE ABANDONED. 67
â€œ A castaway !â€ replied Herbert.
* Wounded, perhaps!â€ said Neb.
â€œ Or dead!â€ added the reporter.
All ran after the dog, among the tall pines on the
border of the forest. Harding and his companions made
ready their fire-arms, in case of an emergency.
They advanced some way into the wood, but to their
great disappointment, they as yet saw no signs of any
human being having passed that way. Shrubs and
creepers were uninjured, and they had even to cut them
away with the axe, as they had done in the deepest
recesses of the forest. It was difficult to fancy that any
human creature had ever passed there, but yet Top went
backwards and forwards, not like a dog who searches at
random, but like a being endowed with a mind, who is
following up an idea.
In about seven or eight minutes Top stopped in a glade
surrounded with tall trees. The settlers gazed around
them, but saw nothing, neither under the bushes nor
among the trees.
â€œ What is the matter, Top? ?â€ said Cyrus Harding.
Top barked louder, bounding about at the foot of a
gigantic pine. All at once Pencroft shouted,â€”
â€œ Ho, splendid! capital 1
â€œ What is it?â€ asked Spilett.
â€œWe have been looking for a wreck at sea or on land!â€
68 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œ Well; and here we've found one in the air!â€
And the sailor pointed to a great white rag, caugnt in
the top of the pine, a fallen scrap of which the dog had
brought to them.
Â« But that is not a wreck!â€ cried Gideon Spilett.
â€œI-beg-your pardon!â€ returned eee
â€œWhy ?-is itâ€”?â€
â€œIt is all that remains of our airy boat, of our balloon,
which has been caught up aloft there, at the top of that
Pencroft was not mistaken, and he gave vent. to his
feelings in a. tremendous hurrah, adding,â€”
_ â€œThere is good cloth! There is what will furnish us
with linen for years. There is what will make us hand-
kerchiefs and shirts! Ha, ha, Mr. Spilett, what do you say
to an island where shirts grow on-the trees?â€
It was certainly a lucky circumstance for the settlers. in
Lincoln Island that the balloon, after having made _ its
last bound into the air, had fallen on the island and thus
given them the opportunity of finding it again, whether
they kept the case under its present form, or whether they
wished to attempt another escape by it,-or whether they
usefully employed the several hundred yards of cotton,
which was of fine quality. Peneroft's joy was therefore
shared by all. .
A WRECK IN THE AIR.
THE. ABANDONED. - 6g;
But it was necessary to bring down the remains of the
balloon from the Â«tree, to: place it in security, and-this was
no slight task. Â«Neb, Herbert, and the sailor, climbing to
the summit. of the tree, used all their skill to disetesee
the now reduced balloon.
The operation â€˜lasted two hours, and then not only the
case, with its valve; its springs, its brasswork, layÂ°on the
ground, but. the .net,'that is to say a considerable: quantity
of ropes and cordage, â€˜and the circleâ€˜and the anchor. | The
case, except for the fracture, was in. good condition, only
the lower portion being:torn.
It was a fortune: which:had fallen from.the sky. :
â€œAll the â€˜same, captain,â€ said the sailor; â€œif we ever
decide. to leave the island, it. won't â€˜be in a balloon, will it?
These air-boats: wonâ€™t go where we want them to go, and
we have had some experience in that way! Look here, we
will build a craft! of some twenty tons, and then we can
make a main-sail,.a fore-sail, and a jibâ€˜out ofthat cloth.
As to the rest of it, that will help to dress_us.â€
â€œWe a see, Pencroft,â€ replied Cyrus eee ; â€œw
-â€œIn the meantime,: we must put it in a'safe place,â€
They certainly could not: think of carrying this load. of
cloth, ropes, and cordage, to Granite House, for the weight
of it was very considerable, and whilst waiting for a suitable
79 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
vehicle in which to convey it, it was of importance â€˜that
this treasure should not be left longer exposed to the
mercies of the first storm. The settlers uniting their
efforts, managed to drag it as far as the shore, where
they discovered a large rocky cavity, which owing to its
position could not be visited either by the wind or rain.
â€œWe needed a locker, and now we have one,â€ said
Pencroft ;.â€œ but as we.cannot lock it up, it will be pru-
dent to hide the opening. I donâ€™t mean from two-legged
thieves, but from those with four paws!â€
At six o'clock, all was stowed away, and after having
given the creek the very suitable name of â€œ Port Balloon,â€
the settlers pursued their way along Claw Cape. Pen-
croft and the engineer talked of the different projects
which it was agreed to put into execution with the briefest
possible delay. It was necessary first of all to throw a
bridge over the Mercy, so as to establish an easy com-
munication with the south of the island; then the cart
must be taken to bring back the balloon, for the canoe
alone could not carry it, then they would build a decked
boat, and Pencroft would rig it as a cutter, and they would
be able to undertake voyages of circumnavigation round
the island, &c.
In the meanwhile night came on, and it was already
dark when the settlers reached Flotsam Point, the place
where they had discovered the precious chest.
THE ABANDONED. 71
The distance between Flotsam Point and Granite
House was another four miles, and it was midnight when,
after having followed the shore to the mouth of the
Mercy, the settlers arrived at the first angle formed by
There the river was eighty feet in breadth, which was
awkward to cross, but as Pencroft had taken upon himself
to conquer this difficulty, he was compelled to do it. The
settlers certainly had reason to be pretty. tired. The
journey had been long, and the task of getting down the
balloon had not rested either their arms or legs. They
were anxious ro reach Granite House to eat and sleep, and
if the bridge had been constructed, in a quarter of an hour
they would have been at home.
. The night was very dark. Pencroft prepared to keep
his promise by constructing a sort of raft, on which to
make the passage of the Mercy. He and Neb,armed with
axes, chose two trees near the water, and began to attack
them at the base.
Cyrus Harding and Spilett, seated on the bank, waited
till their companions were ready for their help, whilst
Herbert roamed about, though without going to any
distance. All at once, the lad, who had strolled by the
river, came running back, and, pointing up the Mercy,
â€œWha. is floating there 2?â€
72 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
Pencroft stopped working, and seeing an indistinct object
moving through the gloom,â€”
â€œA canoe!â€ cried he.
All approached, and saw to their extreme surprise, a boat
floating down the current.
â€œBoat ahoy!â€ shouted the sailor, without thinking that
perhaps it would be best to keep silence.
No reply. The boat still drifted onwards, and it was not
more than twelve feet off, when the sailor exclaimed,â€”
â€œBut it is our own boat! she has broken her moorings,
and floated down the current. I must say she has arrived
~ â€œOur boat?â€ murmured the engineer.
Pencroft was right. It was indeed the canoe, of which
the rope had undoubtedly broken, and which had come
alone from the sources of the Mercy. It was very impor-
tant to seize it before the rapid current should have swept
it away out of the mouth of the river, but Neb and Pencroft
cleverly managed this by means of a long pole.
- The canoe touched the shore. The engineer leapt in
first, and found, on examining the rope, that it had been
really worn through by rubbing against the rocks.
â€œWell,â€ said the reporter to him, in a low voice; â€œ this
is a strange thing.â€ .
â€œ Strange indeed!â€ returned Cyrus Harding.
Strange or not, it was very fortunate. Herbert, the
THERE WAS NO LONGER A LADDER!
THE ABANDONED. 73
reporter, Neb, and Pencroft, embarked in turn. There
was no doubt about the rope having been worn through,
but the astonishing part of the affair was, that the boat
should have arrived just at the moment when the settlers
were there to seize it on its way, for a quarter of an hour
earlier or later it would have been lost in the sea.
If they had been living in the time of genii, this inci-
dent would have given them the right to think that the
island was haunted by some supernatural being, who used
his power in the service of the castaways!
A few strokes of the oar brought the settlers to the
mouth of the Mercy. The canoe was hauled up on the
beach near the Chimneys, and all proceeded towards the
ladder of Granite House.
But at that moment, Top barked angrily, and Neb, who
was looking for the first steps, uttered a cry.
There was no longer a ladder!
74 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
PENCROFTâ€™S HALLOOSâ€”A NIGHT IN THE CHIMNEYSâ€”
HERBERT'S ARROWSâ€”THE CAPTAINâ€™S PROJECTâ€”AN
UNEXPECTED EXPLANATIONâ€”WHAT HAS HAPPENED
IN GRANITE HOUSEâ€”IIOW A NEW SERVANT ENTERS
THE SERVICE OF THE COLONISTS.
CyRUS HARDING stood still, without saying a word. His
companions searched in the darkness on the wall, in case
the wind should have moved the ladder, and on the ground,
thinking that it might have fallen down..... But the
ladder had quite disappeared. As to ascertaining if a
squall had blown it on to the landing-place, half way up,
that was impossible in the dark.
â€œTf it is a joke,â€ cried Pencroft, â€œit isa very stupid one;
to come home and find no staircase to go up to your room
by ; for weary men, there is nothing to laugh at that I
Neb could do nothing but cry out â€œOh! oh! oh!â€
THE ABANDONED. 75
â€œT begin to think that very curious things happen in
Lincoln Island!â€ said Pencroft.
â€œCurious?â€ replied Gideon Spilett, â€œ not at all Pencroft,
nothing can be more natural. Some one has come during
our absence, taken possession of our dwelling and drawn
up the ladder.â€
â€œSome one,â€ cried the sailor. â€œBut who?â€
â€œWho but the hunter who fired the bullet?â€ replied the
â€œWell, if there is any one up there,â€ replied Pencroft,
who began to lose patience, â€œI will give them a hail, and
they must answer.â€
And in a stentorian voice the sailor gave a prolonged
â€œHalloo!â€ which was echoed again and again from the
cliff and rocks.
The settlers listened and they thought they heard a sort
of chuckling laugh, of which they could not guess the
origin. But no voice replied to Pencroft, who in vain
repeated his vigorous shouts.
There was something indeed in this to astonish the most
apathetic of men, and the settlers were not men of that
description. In their situation every incident had its
importance, and, certainly, during the seven months which
they had spent on the island, they had not before met with
anything of so surprising a character.
Be that as it may, forgetting their fatigue in the singu-
76 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
larity of the event, they remained below Granite House,
not knowing what to think, not knowing what to do, ques-
tioning each other without any hope of a satisfactory reply,
every one starting some supposition each more unlikely
than the last. Neb bewailed himself, much disappointed
at not being able to get into his kitchen, for the provisions
which they had had on their expedition were exhausted,
and they had no means of renewing them.
â€œ My friends,â€ at last said Cyrus Harding, â€œ there is only
one thing to be done at present, wait for day, and then act
according to circumstances. But let us go to the Chimneys.
There we shall be under shelter, and if we cannot eat, we
can at least sleep.â€
â€œ But who is it that has played us this cool trick?â€ again
asked Pencroft, unable to make up his mind to retire from
Whoever it was, the only thing practicable was to do as
the engineer proposed, to go to the Chimneys and there
wait forday. In the meanwhile Top was ordered to mount
guard below the windows of Granite House, and when
Top received an order he obeyed it without any questioning.
The brave dog therefore remained at the foot of the cliff
whilst his master with his companions sought a refuge
among the rocks,
To say that the settlers, notwithstanding their fatigue,
slept well on the sandy floor of the Chimneys would not
THE ABANDONED. 77
be true. It was not only that they were extremely anxious
to find out the cause of what had happened, whether it
was the result of an accident which would be discovered at
the return of day, or whether on the contrary it was the
work of a human being; but they also had very uncom-
fortable beds. That could not be helped, however, for in
some way or other at that moment their dwelling was
occupied, and they could not possibly enter it.
Now Granite House was more than their dwelling, it was
their warehouse. There were all the stores belonging to
the colony, weapons, instruments, tools, ammunition, pro-
visions, &c. To think that all that might be pillaged and
that the settlers would have all their work to do over again,
fresh weapons and tools to make, was a serious matter.
Their uneasiness led one or other of them also ty go out
every few minutes to see if Top was keeping good watch.
Cyrus Harding alone waited with his habitual patience,
although his strong mind was exasperated at being con-
fronted with such an inexplicable fact, and he was provoked
at himself for allowing a feeling to which he could not give
a name, to gain an influence over him. Gideon Spilett
shared his feelings in this respect, and the two conversed
together in whispers of the inexplicable circumstance which
baffled even their intelligence and experience,
â€œJt is a joke,â€ said Pencroft ; â€œit is a trick some one has
played us. Well, I donâ€™t like such jokes, and the joker
78 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
had better look out for himself, if he falls into my hands,
I can tell him.â€
As soon as the first gleam of light appeared in the east,
the colonists, suitably armed, repaired to the beach under
Granite House. The rising sun now shone on the cliff and
they could see the windows, the shutters of which were
closed, through the curtains of foliage.
All here was in order; but a cry escaped the colonists
when they saw that the door, which they had closed on
their departure, was now wide open. ,
Some one had entered Granite Houseâ€”there could be
no more doubt about that.
The upper ladder, which generally ane from the door to
the landing, was in its place, but the lower ladder was drawn
up and raised to the threshold. It was evident that the
intruders had wished to guard themselves against a surprise.
Pencroft hailed again.
â€œThe beggars,â€ exclaimed the sailor. â€˜â€œ There they are
sleeping quietly as if they were in their own house. Hallo
there, you pirates, brigands, robbers, sons of John Bull!â€
When Pencroft, being a Yankee, treated any one to the
epithet of â€˜son of John Bull,â€ he considered he had reached
the last limits of insult.
The sun had now completely risen, and the whole fagade
of Granite House became illuminated by his rays; but in
THE ABANDONED. . 79
the interior as well as on the exterior all was quiet and
The settlers asked if Granite House was inhabited or
not, and yet the position of the ladder was sufficient to
show that it was; it was also certain that the inhabitants,
whoever they might be, had not been able to escape. But
how were they to be got at?
Herbert then thought of fastening a cord to an arrow, and
shooting the arrow so that it should pass between the first
rounds of the ladder which hung from the threshold. By
means of the cord they would then be able to draw down
the ladder to the ground, and so re-establish the communi-
cation between the beach and Granite House. There was
evidently nothing else to be done, and, with a little skill,
this method might succeed. Very fortunately bows and
arrows had been left at the Chimneys, where they also
found a quantity of light hibiscus cord. Pencroft fastened
this to a well-feathered arrow. Then Herbert fixing it
to his bow, took a careful aim for the lower part of the
Cyrus. Harding, Gideon Spilett, Pencroft, and Neb
drew back, so as to see if anything appeared at the win-
dows. The reporter lifted his gun to his.shoulder and
covered the door.
The bow was bent, the arrow flew, taking the cord with
it, and passed between the two last rounds.
80 -â€™ THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
The operation had succeeded.
Herbert immediately seized the end of the cord, but, at
that moment when he gave it a pull to bring down the
ladder, an arm, thrust suddenly out between the wall and
the door, grasped it and dragged it inside Granite House.
â€œThe rascals!â€ shouted the sailor. â€œIf a ball can do
anything for you, you shall not have long to wait for it.â€
â€œ But who was it?â€ asked Neb.
â€œWho was it? Didnâ€™t you see?â€
â€œIt was a monkey, a sapago, an orang-outang, a baboon,
a gorilla, a sagoin. Our dwelling has been invaded by
monkeys, who climbed up the ladder during our absence.â€
And, at this moment, as if to bear witness to the truth
of the sailor's words, two or three quadrumana showed
themselves at the windows, from which they had pushed
back the shutters, and saluted the real proprietors of the
place with a thousand hideous grimaces.
â€œT knew that it was only a joke,â€ cried Pencroft;
â€œbut one of the jokers shall pay the penalty for the
So saying, the sailor, raising his piece, took a rapid aim
at one of the monkeys and fired. All disappeared, except
one whe fell mortally wounded on the beach. This monkey,
which was of a large size, evidently belonged to the first
order of the quadrumana. Whether this was a chimpan-
THE INVADERS OF GRANITE HOUSE.
THE ABANDONED. 81
zee, an orang-outang, or a gorilla, he took rank among the
anthropoid apes, who are so called from their resemblance
to the human race. However, Herbert declared it t3 be an
â€œWhat a magnificent beast!â€ cried Neb.
â€œMagnificent, if you like,â€ replied Pencroft; â€œbut still
I do not see how we are to get into our house.â€
â€œHerbert is a good marksman,â€ said the reporter, â€œand
his bow is here. He can try again.â€
â€œWhy, these apes are so cunning,â€ returned Pencroft ;
â€œthey wonâ€™t show themselves again at the windows and so
we canâ€™t kill them; and when I think of the mischief they
may do in the rooms and storehouseâ€”â€
â€œHave patience,â€ replied Harding; â€œthese creatures
cannot keep us long at bay.â€
â€œT shall not be sure of that till I see them down here,â€
replied the sailor. â€œAnd now, captain, do you know how
many dozens of these fellows are up there ?â€
It was difficult to reply to Pencroft, and as for the young
boy making another attempt, that was not easy; for the
lower part of the ladder had been drawn again into the
door, and when another pull was given, the line broke and
the ladder remained firm. The case was really perplexing.
Pencroft stormed. There was a comic side to the situation,
but he did not think it funny at all. It was certain that
the seitlers would end by reinstating themselves in their
82 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. .
domicile and driving out the intruders, but when and how?
this is what they were not able to say.
Two hours passed, during which the apes took care not
to show themselves, but they were still there, and three or
four times a nose or a paw was poked out at the door or
windows, and was immediately saluted by a gun-shot.
â€œLet usâ€ â€˜hide ourselves,â€ at last said the engineer.
â€œPerhaps the apes will think we have gone quite away
and will show themselves again. Let Spilett and Herbert
conceal themselves behind those rocks and fire on all that
The engineerâ€™s orders were obeyed, and whilst the re-
porter and the lad, the best marksmen in the colony,
posted themselves in a good position, but out of the
monkeysâ€™ sight, Neb, Pencroft, and Cyrus climbed the
plateau and entered the forest in order to kill some game,
for it was now time for breakfast and they had no provi-
In half an hour the hunters returned with a few rock
pigeons, which they roasted as well as they could. Not
an ape had appeared. Gideon Spilett and Herbert went
to take their share of the breakfast, leaving Top to watch
under the windows. They then, having eaten, returned to
Two hours later, their situation was in no degree im-
proved. The quadrumana gave no sign of existence, and
THE ABANDONED. 83
it might have been supposed that they had disappeared ;
but what seemed more probable was that, terrified by the
death of one of their companions, and frightened by the
noise of the fire-arms, they had retreated to the back part
of the house or probably even into the store-room. And
when they thought of the valuables which this store-room
contained, the patience so much recommended by the en-
gineer, fast changed into great irritation, and there certainly
was room for it.
â€œDecidedly it is too bad,â€ said the reporter; â€œand
the worst of it is, there is no way of putting an end
â€œBut we must drive these vagabonds out somehow,â€
cried the sailor. â€œWe could soon get the better of them,
even if there are twenty of the rascals ; but for that, we must
meet them hand to hand. Come now, is there no way of
getting at them?â€
â€œLet us try to enter Granite House by the old opening
at the lake,â€ replied the engineer.
â€œOh!â€ shouted the sailor, â€œ and I never thought of
This was in reality the only way by which to penetrate
into Granite House so as to fight with and drive out the
intruders. The opening was, it is true, closed up with a wall
of cemented stones, which it would be necessary to sacrifice,
but that could easily be rebuilt. Fortunately, Cyrus Harding
84 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
had not as yet effected his project of hiding this opening
by raising the waters of the lake, for the operation would
then have taken some time.
It was already past twelve oâ€™clock, when the colonists,
well armed and provided with picks and spades, left the
Chimneys, passed beneath the windows of Granite House,
after telling Top to remain at his post, and began to
ascend the left bank of the Mercy, so as to reach Pros-
But they had not made fifty steps in this direction, when
they heard the dog barking furiously.
And all rushed down the bank again.
Arrived at the turning, they saw that the situation had
In fact, the apes, seized with a sudden panic, from some
unknown cause, were trying to escape. Two or three ran
and clambered from one window to another with the agility
of acrobats, They were not even trying to replace the
ladder, by which it would have been easy to descend ; per-
haps in their terror they had forgotten this way of escape.
The colonists, now being able to take aim without difficulty,
fired. Some, wounded or killed, fell back into the rooms,
uttering piercing cries. The rest, throwing themselves out,
were dashed to pieces in their fall, and in a few minutes, so
far as they knew, there was not a living quadrumana in
THE ABANDONED. 85
At this moment the ladder was seen to slip over the
threshold, then unroll and fall to the ground.
â€œHullo!â€ cried the sailor, â€œthis is queer!â€
â€œVery strange!â€ murmured the engineer, leaping first up
â€œTake care, captain!â€ cried Pencroft, â€œperhaps there are
still some of these rascals. pas
â€œWe shall soon see,â€ replied the engineer, without stop-
All his companions followed him, and in a minute
they had arrived at the threshold. They searched
everywhere. There was no one in the rooms nor in
the storehouse, which had been respected by the band of
â€œWell now, and the ladder,â€ cried the sailor; â€œ who can
the gentleman have been who sent us that down?â€
But at that moment a cry was heard, and a great orang,
who had hidden himself in the passage, rushed into the
room, pursued by Neb.
â€œ Ah, the robber!â€ cried Pencroft.
And hatchet in hand, he was about to cleave the head of
the animal, when Cyrus Harding seized his arm, saying,â€”
â€œ Spare him, Pencroft.â€
â€œPardon this rascal ?â€
â€œYes! it was he who threw us the ladder!â€
And the engineer said this in such a peculiar voice
86 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
that it was difficult to know whether he spoke seriously
Nevertheless, they threw themselves on the orang, who
defended himself gallantly, but was soon overpowered and
â€œThere!â€ said Pencroft. â€œAnd what shall we make of
him, now we've got him ?â€
â€œA servant!â€ replied Herbert.
The lad was not joking in saying this, for he knew how
this intelligent race could be turned to account.
The settlers then approached the ape and gazed at it
attentively. He belonged to the family of anthropoid apes,
of which the facial angle is not much inferior to that of the
Australians and Hottentots. It was an orang-outang, and
as such, had neither the ferocity of the gorilla, nor the
stupidity of the baboon. It is to this family of the anthro-
poid apes that so many characteristics belong which prove
them to be possessed of an almost human intelligence.
Employed in houses, they can wait at table, sweep rooms,
brush clothes, clean boots, handle a knife, fork, and spoon
properly, and even drink wine, . . . doing everything
as well as the best servant that ever walked upon two legs.
Buffon possessed one of these apes, who served him for a
long time as a faithful and zealous servant.
The one which had been seized in the hall of Granite
House was a great fellow, six feet high, with an admirably
CAPTURING THE ORANG.
THE ABANDONED, 87
proportioned frame, a broad chest, head of a moderate size,
the facial angle reaching sixty-five degrees, round skull,
projecting nose, skin covered. with soft glossy hair, in short,
a fine specimen of the anthropoids. His eyes, rather smaller
than human eyes, sparkled with intelligence; his white
teeth glittered under his moustache, and he wore a little
curly brown beard.
â€œA handsome fellow!â€ said Pencroft; â€œif we only knew
his language, we could talk to himâ€
â€œBut, master,â€ said Neb, â€œare you serious? Are we going
to take him as a servant?â€
â€œYes, Neb,â€ replied the engineer, smiling. â€œBut you
must not be jealous.â€
â€œAnd I hope he will make an excellent servant,â€
added Herbert. â€œHe appears young, and will be easy
to educate, and we shall not be obliged to use force
to subdue him, nor draw his teeth, as is sometimes done.
He will soon grow fond of his masters if they are kind
â€œ And they will be,â€ replied Pencroft, who had forgotten
all his rancour against â€œthe jokers.â€
Then, approaching the orang,â€”
â€œWell, old boy!â€ he asked, â€œ how are you?â€
The orang replied by a little grunt which did not show
â€œYou wish to join the colony ?â€ again asked the sailor.
88 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,
â€œYou are going to enter the service of Captain Cyrus
Another respondent grunt was uttered by the ape.
â€œ And you will be satisfied with no other wages than your
Third affirmative grunt.
â€œThis conversation is slightly monotonous,â€ observed
â€™ â€œSo much the better,â€ replied Pencroft; â€œthe best ser-
vants are those who talk the least. And then, no wages,
do you hear my boy? We will give you no wages at first,
but we will double them afterwards if we are pleased with
Thus the colony was increased by a new member. As to
his name the sailor begged that in memory of another ape
which he had known, he might be called Jupiter, and Jup
And so, without more ceremony, Master Jup was installed
in Granite House,
L7 ) :
. \ ,
ENGAGING THE NEW SERVANT,
THE ABANDONED. 89
PLANSâ€”A BRIDGE OVER THE MERCYâ€”MODE ADOPTED
FOR MAKING AN ISLAND OF PROSPECT HEIGHTSâ€”
THE DRAW-BRIDGEâ€”HARVESTâ€”THE STREAMâ€”THE
POULTRY YARDâ€”A PIGEON-HOUSEâ€”THE TWO ONA-
GASâ€”THE CART-â€”EXCURSION TO PORT BALLOON.
THE settlers in Lincoln Island had now regained their
dwelling, without having been obliged to reach it by the old
opening, and were therefore spared the trouble of masonâ€™s
work. It was certainly lucky, that at the moment they
were about to set out to do so, the apes had been seized
with that terror, no less sudden than inexplicable, which
had driven them out of Granite House. Had the animals
discovered that they were about to be attacked from
another direction? This was the only explanation of their
During the day the bodies of the apes were carried into
the wood, where they were buried ; then the settlers busied
themselves in repairing the disorder caused by the intru-
90 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
ders, disorder but not damage, for although they had turned
everything in the rooms topsy-turvy, yet they had broken
nothing. Neb relighted his stove, and the stores in the
larder furnished a substantial repast, to which all did ample
Jup was not forgotten, and he ate with relish some stone
pine almonds and rhizome roots, with which he was abune
dantly supplied. Pencroft had unfastened his arms, but
judged it best to have his legs tied until they were more
surÃ© of his submission. ;
Then, before retiring to rest, Harding and his companions
seated round their table, discussed those plans, the execu-
tion of which was most pressing. The most important and
most urgent was the establishment of a bridge over the
Mercy, so as to. form a communication with the southern
part of the island and Granite House; then the making of
an enclosure for the musmons or other woolly animals
which they wished to capture.
These two projects would help to solve the difficulty as
to their clothing, which was now serious. The bridge
would render easy the transport of the balloon case, which
would furnish them with linen; and the inhabitants of the
enclosure would yield wool which would supply them with
As to the enclosure, it was Cyrus Hardingâ€™s intention to
establish it at the sources of the Red Creek, where the
THE ABANDONED. Ol
ruminants would find fresh and abundant pasture. The
road between Prospect Heights and the sources of the
stream was already, partly beaten, and with a better cart
than the first, the material could be easily conveyed to the
spot, especially if they could manage to capture some
animals to draw it.
But though there might be no inconvenience in the
enclosure being so far from Granite House, it would not be
the same with the poultry-yard, to which Neb called the
attention of the colonists.. It was indeed necessary that the
birds should be close within reach of the cook, and no place
appeared more favourable for the establishment of the said
poultry-yard than that portion of the banks of the lake
which was close to tae old opening.
Water-birds would prosper there as well as others, and
the couple of tinamous taken in their last excursion would
be the first to be domesticated.
The next day, the 3rd of November, the new works were
begun. by the construction of the bridge, and all hands
were required for this important task. Saws, hatchets, and
hammers were shouldered by the settlers, who, now trans-
formed into carpenters, descended to the shore.
There Pencroft observed,â€”
â€œSuppose, that during our absence, Master Jup takes it
into his head to draw up the ladder which he so politely
returned to.us yesterday ?â€
92 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€œLet us tie its lower end down firmly,â€ replied Cyrus
This was done by â€˜means. of two stakes: securely fixed
in the sand. â€œThen theâ€™ settlers, ascending the left bank
of the Mercy, soon arrived at the angle formed by the
There they halted, in order to ascertain if the bridge
could be thrown across. The place appeared suitable.
In fact, from-this spot, to Port Balloon, discovered the
day before on the southern coast, there was only a distance
of three miles and a half, and from the bridge to the Port,
it would be easy to make a good cart-road which would
render the communication between Granite House and the
south of the island extremely easy.
Cyrus Harding now imparted to his companions a scheme
for completely isolating Prospect Heights so asto shelter it
from the attacks both of quadrupeds and quadrumana. In
this way, Granite House, the Chimneys, the poultry-yard,
and all the upper part of the plateau which was to-be used
for cultivation, would be protected against the depredations
of animals, â€˜Nothing could be easier than to execute this-
project, and this is how the engineer intended to set to
The plateau was already defended on three sides by
watercourses, either artificial or natural. On the north--
west, by the shores of Lake Grant, from the entrance of the!
THE. ABANDONED. 93
passage to the breach made in the banks of the lake for the
escape of the water.
Onthe north, from this breach to the sea, by. ne new
watercourse which had hollowed out a bed for itself across
the plateau and:â€˜shore, above and below the fall, and it
would be enough to dig the bed of this creek a little deeper
to make â€˜it impracticable for.animals, on all the eastern
border by the sea itself, from the mouth of the aforesaid
creek to the mouth of:the Mercy.
Lastly, on :the south, from the mouth to the turn of the
* Mercy where the bridge was to be established.
The western border of the plateau now remained between
the turn of the river and the southern angle of the lake, a.
distance of about a mile, which was open to all comers.
But nothing could be easier than to dig a broad deep ditch,
which could be filled from the lake, and the overflow of
which would throw itself by a rapid fall into the bed of the
Mercy. The level of the lake would, no doubt, be some-
what lowered by this fresh discharge of its. waters, but
Cyrus Harding had ascertained that the volume of water in
the Red Creek was considerable enough to allow of the
-execution of this project.
. â€œSo then,â€ added the engineer, â€œ ee Heights will
become.a regular island, being surrounded with water on
all sides, and only communicating with the rest of our
domain by the bridge which we are about to throw across
94. THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
the Mercy, the two little bridges:already established above
and below the fall; and, lastly, two other : little bridges
which must be constructed,-one over â€˜the canal: which I
propose to dig, the other across to the left bank of the
Mercy. - Now, if these bridges can be raised at will,
Prospect Heights will be guarded from any surprise.â€
' The bridge was the most urgent work. Trees were
selected, cut down, stripped:of their branches, and cut into
beams, joists, and planks. The end of the bridge which
rested on the right bank of the Mercy was to be firm, but
the other end on the left bank -was to be moveable, so that
it might be raised by means of a counterpoise, as some
canal bridges are managed.
This was certainly a considerable work, and though it
was skilfully conducted, it took some time, for the Mercy
at this place was eighty feet wide. It was therefore neces-
sary to fix piles in the bed of the river so as to sustain the
floor of the bridge and establish a pile-driver to act on the
tops of these piles, which would thus form two arches and
allow the bridge to support heavy loads.
Happily there was no want of tools with which to shape
the wood, nor of iron-work to make it firm, nor of the inge-
nuity of a man who had a marvellous knowledge of the
work, nor lastly, the zeal of his companions, who in seven
months had necessarily acquired great skill in the use of
their tools; and it must be said that not the least skilful
BUILDING THE BRIDGE.
THE ABANDONED. 95
was Gideon Spilett, who in dexterity almost equalled: the
sailor himself. â€œWho would ever have expected'so much
from a newspaper man!â€ thought Pencroft. :
The construction of the Mercy bridge lasted three weeks
of regular hard work. They even breakfasted on the scene
of their labours, and the weather being magnificent, they
only returned to Granite House to sleep.
During this period it may be stated: that Master Jup
grew more accustomed to his new masters, whose move-
ments he always watched â€˜with very inquisitive eyes.
However, as a precautionary measure, Pencroft. did not
as yet allow him complete liberty, rightly wishing to wait
until the limits of the plateau should be settled by the
projected works. Top and Jup were good friends and
played willingly together, but Jup did everything solemnly.
On the 2oth of November the: bridge was finished. The
moveable part, balanced by the counterpoise, swung easily,
and only a slight effort was needed to raise it; between its
hinge and the last cross-bar on which it rested when closed,
there existed a space of twenty feet, which was sufficiently
wide to prevent any animals from crossing.
The settlers now began to talk of fetching the balloon-
case, which they were anxious to place in. perfect security ;
but to bring it, it would be necessary to take a cart to Port
Balloon, and consequently, necessary to beat a road through
the dense forests of the Far West. Thisâ€™ would take some
96 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
time. Also, Neb and Pencroft having gone to examine
into â€˜the state of things at Port Balloon, and reported that
the stock of cloth would suffer no! damage in the grotto
where it was stored, it was decided that the work-at Pros-
pect Heights should not be discontinued.
â€œThat,â€ observed Pencroft, â€œwill enable us to establish
our poultry-yard under better conditions, since we need
have no fear of â€˜visits from foxes nor the attacks of other
â€œThen,â€ added Neb, â€œwe can clear the plateau, and
transplant wild plants to it.â€
â€œAnd prepare our second corn-field!â€ cried the sailor
with a triumphant air.
In fact, the first corn-field sown with a single grain had
prospered admirably, thanks to Pencroftâ€™s care. It had
produced the ten ears foretold by the engineer, and each
ear containing eighty grains, the colony found itself in
possession of eight hundred grains, in six months, which
promised a double harvest each year.
These eight hundred grains, except fifty, which were
prudently reserved, were to be sown in a new field, but with
no less care than was bestowed on the single grain.
The field was. prepared, then surrounded with a strong
palisade, high and pointed, which quadrupeds would have
found difficulty in leaping. As to birds, some scare-
crows, due to Pencroftâ€™s ingenious brain, were enough to
THE ABANDONED. 97
frighten them. The seven hundred and fifty grains depo-
sited in very regular furrows, were then left for nature to do
On-the 21st of November, Cyrus Harding began to plan
the canal which was to close the plateau on the west, from
the south angle of Lake Grant to the angle of the Mercy.
There was there two or three feet of vegetable earth, and
below that granite. It was therefore necessary to manu-
facture some more. nitro-glycerine, and the nitro-glycerine
did its accustomed work. In less than a fortnight a ditch,
twelve feet wide and six deep, was dug out in the hard
ground of the plateau. A new trench was made by the
same means in the rocky border of the lake, forming a
small stream, to. which they gave the name of Creek
Glycerine, and which was thus an affluent of the Mercy.
As the engineer had predicted, the level of the lake was
lowered, though very slightly. To complete the enclosure
the bed of the stream on the beach was considerably
enlarged, and the sand supported by means of stakes.
By the end of the first fortnight of December these
works were finished, and Prospect Heightsâ€”that is to say,
a sort of irregular pentagon, having a perimeter of nearly
four miles, surrounded by a liquid beltâ€”was completely
protected from depredators Â«â€™ every description.
During the montho December, the heat was very great.
In spite of it, however, the settlers continued their work,
98. THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
and as they were anxious to possess a poultry-yard they
forthwith commenced it.
It is useless to say that since the enclosing of the plateau
had been. completed, Master Jup had been set at liberty.
He did not. leave his masters, and evinced no wish to
escape. He was a gentle animal, though very powerful
and. wonderfully active. He was already taught to make
himself useful by drawing loads of wood and carting away
the stones which were extracted from the bed of Creek
The poultry-yard. occupied an area of two hundred square
yards, .on the south-eastern bank of the lake. It was
surrounded by a palisade, and in it were constructed
various shelters for the birds which were to populate it.
These were simply built of branches andâ€™ divided
compartments, made ready for the expected guests.
The first were the two tinamous, which were not long in
having a number of young ones; they had for companions
half a dozen ducks, accustomed to the bordets of the lake.
Some belonged to the Chinese species, of which the wings
open like a fan, and which by the brilliancy of their
plumage rival the golden pheasants. A few days after-
wards, Herbert snared a couple of gallinacez, with spread-
ing tails composed of long feathers, magnificent alectors,
which soon became tame. As: to pelicans, kingfishers,
water-hens, they came of themselves.to the shores of: the
THE ABANDONED. 99
poultry-yard, and this little community, after some dis-
putes, cooing, screaming, clucking, ended by settling down
peacefully, and increased in encouraging proportion for the
future use of the colony.
Cyrus Harding, wishing to complete his performance,
established a pigeon-house in a corner of the poultry-yard.
There he lodged a dozen of those pigeons which frequented
the rocks of the plateau. These birds soon became accus-
tomed to returning every evening to their new dwelling,
and showed more disposition to domesticate themselves
than their congeners, the wood-pigeons.
Lastly, the time had come for turning the balloon-case
to use, by cutting it up to make shirts and other articles ;
for as to keeping it in its present form, and risking them-
selves in a balloon filled with gas, above a sea of the limits
of which they had no idea, it was not to be thought of.
It was necessary to bring the case to Granite House, and
the colonists employed themselves in rendering their heavy
cart lighter and more manageable. But though they had
a vehicle, the moving power was yet to be found.
But did there not exist in the island some animal which
might supply the place of the horse, ass, or ox? That was
â€œCertainly,â€ said Pencroft, â€œa beast of burden would be
very useful to us until the captain has made a steam cart,
or even an engine, for some day we shall have a railroad
100 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
from Granite House to Port Balloon, with a branch line to
Mount Franklin !â€
One day, the 23rd of December, Neb and Top were
heard shouting and barking, each apparently trying who
could make the most noise. The settlers, who were busy
at the Chimneys, ran, fearing some vexatious incident.
What did they see? Two fine animals of a large size,
who had imprudently ventured on the plateau, when the
bridges were open. One would have said they were horses,
or at least donkeys, male and female, of a fine shape, dove-
coloured, the legs and tail white, striped with black on the
head and neck. They advanced quietly without showing
any uneasiness, and gazed at the men, in whom they could
not as yet recognize their future masters.
â€œ These are onagas !â€ cried Herbert, â€œanimals something
between the zebra and the conaga !â€
â€œWhy not donkeys?â€ asked Neb.
_â€œ Because they have not long ears, and their shape is
more graceful !â€
â€œDonkeys or horses,â€ interrupted Pencroft, â€œthey are
â€˜moving powers, as the captain would say, and as such
must be captured !â€
The sailor, without frightening the animals, crept
through the grass to the bridge over Creek Glycerine,
lowered it, and the onagas were prisoners.
Now, should they seize them with violence and master
THE ABANDONED. Iol
them by force? No. It was decided that for a few days
they should be allowed to roam freely about the plateau,
where there was an abundance of grass, and the engineer
immediately began to prepare a stable near the poultry-
yard, in which the onagas might find food, with a good
litter, and shelter during the night.
This done, the movements of the two magnificent
creatures were left entirely free, and the settlers avoided
even approaching them so as to terrify them. Several
times, however, the onagas appeared to wish to leave the
plateau, too confined for animals accustomed to the plains
and forests. They were then seen following the water-
barrier which everywhere presented itself before them,
uttering short neighs, then galloping through the grass,
and becoming calmer, they would remain entire hours
gazing at the woods, from which they were cut off for
In the meantime harness of vegetable fibre had been
manufactured, and some days after the capture of the
onagas, not only the cart was ready, but a straight road, or
rather a cutting, had been made through the forests of the
Far West, from the angle of the Mercy to Port Balloon.
The cart might then be driven there, and towards the end
of December they tried the onagas for the first time.
Pencroft had already coaxed the animals to come and
eat out of his hand, and they allowed him to approach
102 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
without making any difficulty, but once harnessed they
reared and could with difficulty be held in. However, it
was not long before they submitted to this new service,
for the onaga, being less refractory than the zebra, is
frequently put in harness in the mountainous regions of
Southern Africa, and it has even been acclimatized in
Europe, under zones of a relative coolness.
On this day all the colony, except Pencroft who walked
at the animalsâ€™ heads, mounted the cart, and set out on
the road to Port Balloon.
Of course they were jolted over the somewhat rough
1oad, but the vehicle arrived withoutâ€™any accident, and
was soon loaded with the case and rigging of the balloon.
At eight o'clock that evening the cart, after passing over
the Mercy bridge, descended the left bank of the river, and
stopped on the beach. The onagas being unharnessed, were
thence Iced to their stable, and Pencroft before going to
sleep gave vent to his feelings in a deep sigh of satisfaction
that awoke all the echoes of Granite House,
THE ABANDONED. 103
LINENâ€”SHOES OF SEAL-LEATHERâ€”MANUFACTURE OF
IMPROVEMENT OF MASTER JUPâ€” THE CORRALâ€”
MUSMON HUNTâ€”NEW ANIMAL AND VEGETABLE
POSSESSIONSâ€” RECOLLECTIONS OF THEIR NATIVE
THE first week of January was devoted to the manufac-
ture of the linen garments required by the colony. The
needles found in the box were used by sturdy if not
delicate fingers, and we may be sure that what was sewn
was sewn firmly.
There was no lack of thread, thanks to Cyrus Hardingâ€™s
idea of re-employing that which had been already used in
the covering of the balloon. This with admirable patience
was all unpicked by Gideon Spilett and Herbert, for
Pencroft had been obliged to give this work up, as it
irritated him beyond measure; but he had no equal in the
104 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
â€˜sewing part of the business. Indeed, everybody knows
that sailors have a remarkable aptitude for tailoring.
The cloth of which the balloon-case was made was
then cleaned by means of soda and potash, obtained by
the incineration of plants, in such a way that the cotton,
having got rid of the varnish, resumed its natural softness
and elasticity; then, exposed to the action of the atmos-
phere, it soon became perfectly white. Some dozen shirts
and socksâ€”the latter not knitted of course, but made of
cotton-â€”were thus manufactured. What a comfort it was
to the settlers to clothe themselves again in clean linen,
which was doubtlessâ€™ rather rough, but they were not
troubled about that! and then to go to sleep between
sheets, which made the couches at Granite House into
quite comfortable beds!
It was about this time also that they made boots of seal-
leather, which were greatly needed to replace â€˜the shoes
and boots brought from America. We may be â€˜sure that
these new shoes were large enough and never pinched the
teet of the wearers.
With the beginning of the year 1866 the heat. was very
great, but the hunting in the forests did not stand still.
Agouties, peccaries, capybaras, kangaroos, game of all sorts,
actually swarmed there, and Spilett and Herbert were too
good marksmen ever to throw away their shot uselessly.
Cyrus Harding still recommended them to husband the
THE SETTLERSâ€™ NEW SHIRTS.
THE ABANDONED. 10Â§
ammunition, and he took measures to replace the powder and
shot which had been found in the box, and which he wished
to reserve for the future. How did he know where chance
might one day cast his companions and himself in the event
of their leaving their domain? They should, then, prepare
for the unknown future by husbanding their ammunition
and by substituting for it some easily renewable substance,