Puslapio vaizdai

been bad enough, if his companions had not carefully covered him with their coats and waistcoats.

Supper, this evening, was of course, composed of the inevitable lithodomes, of which Harbert and Neb picked up a plentiful supply on the beach. However, to the molluscs, the lad added some edible seaweed, which he gathered on high rocks whose sides were only washed by the sea at the time of high tide. This seaweed, which belongs to the order of Sucacæ, of the genus Sargussum, when dry, produces a gelatinous matter, rich and nutritious. The reporter and his companions, after having eaten a quantity of lithodomes, sucked the Sargussu, the taste of which was very excellent. It is used very often in parts of the East by the natives.

"Never mind!" said the sailor, "it is time that the captain came to our help."


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 produce fire. Neb helped him in this work. He found some dry moss, and by striking together two pebbles he obtained some sparks, but the moss, not being inflammable enough, did not take fire, for the sparks were really only incandescent, and not at all of the same consistency as those which are emitted from flint when struck in the same manner. The experiment, therefore, did not succeed.

Pencroff, although he had no confidence in the proceeding, then tried rubbing two pieces of dried wood together, as savages do. Certainly the movement which he and Neb gave themselves, if it had been transformed into heat, according to the


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new theory, would have been enough to heat the boiler of a steamer! But it came to nothing. The bits of wood became hot, but did not ignite.

After working an hour, Pencroff, who was in a complete state of perspiration. threw down the pieces of wood in disgust.

"When I can be made to believe that savages light their fires in this way," said he, "it will be warm, even in winter! could sooner light my arms by rubbing them against each other!"


The sailor was wrong to despise the proceeding. Savages often kindle wood by means of rapid rubbing. But every sort of wood does not answer for the purpose, and besides there is "the knack,'



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"Well, we will make matches."

"It is just as easy as that," cried the reporter, striking the sailor on the shoulder. the latter did not think it was so simple, but he did not protest. All went out. The weather had become very fine. The sun was rising from the sea's horizon, and the huge precipice was everywhere touched with golden spangles.

Having thrown a rapid glance around him, the engineer seated himself on a block of stone. Harbert offered him a few handfuls of shellfish and sargussum, saying,

"It is all that we have, Captain Smith." "Thanks, my boy," replied Smith; "it will do for this morning at least."

He ate the wretched food with appetite, and washed it down with a little fresh water, drawn from the river in an immense shell.

His companions. looked at him without speaking. Then, after being refreshed more or less, Cyrus Smith, crossing his arms, said:

"So, my friends, you do not know yet whether fate has thrown us on an island, or on a continent?" alguem

"No, Captain," replied the boy.207

"We shall know tomorrow," said the engineer; "till then there is nothing to be done." "Yes," replied Pencroff. off rat i


"Fire," said the sailor who, too, had a fixed idea.

"Yes," replied Spilett "a mountain which must be rather high."

"Well," replied the engineer, "we will climb to the summit to-morrow and then we shall see if this land is an island or a continent. Till then, I repeat, there is nothing to be done."

"Yes, fire!" said the obstinate sailor again.

But he will make us a fire!" replied Gideon Spilett, "only have a little patience, Pencroff!"

The seaman looked at Spilett in a way which seemed to say: "If it depended upon you to do it, we wouldn't taste roast meat very soon;" but he was silent.

Meanwhile Captain Smith had made no reply. He appeared to be very little troubled by the question of fire. For a few minutes he remained absorbed in thought; then, again speaking

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"My friends," said he, "our situation is, perhaps, deplorable; but, at any rate, it is very plain. Either we are on a continent, and then, at the expense of greater or less fatigue, we shall reach some inhabited place, or we are on an island. In the latter case, if the island is inhabited, we will try to get out of the scrape with the help of its inhabitants; if it is a desert, we will try to get out of the scrape by ourselves."

"Certainly, nothing could be plainer," replied Pencroff.

"But whether it is an island, or a continent," asked Gideon Spilett, "where do you think, Cyrus, this storm has thrown us?"


I cannot say exactly," replied the en

gineer, but 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 violence itself proves that it could not have varied. If the direction has been maintained from north-east to south-west, we have traversed the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, the Gulf of Mexico itself, in its narrow part, then a part of the Pacific Ocean. I cannot estimate the distance traversed by the balloon at less than six to seven thousand miles, and, even supposing that the wind had varied half a quarter, it must have brought us either to the archipelago of Mendava, or on the Pomotus, 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 very small archipelago, perhaps we shall be able to reconnoiter it from the summit of that peak which overlooks the country, and then we shall see how to establish ourselves here as if we were never to go away."



Never!" cried the reporter. say 'never,' my dear Cyrus!"

"Better to put things at the worst first," replied the engineer, "and reserve the best for a surprise."

"Well said," remarked Pencroff. "It is to be hoped, too, that this island, if it is one, is not situated just out of the course of ships. That would be really unlucky!"

"We shall not know what we have to re


ly on until we have made the ascent of the mountain," replied the engineer.

"But to-morrow, Captain," asked Harbert, "shall you be in a state to bear the fatigue of the ascent?"

"I hope so," replied the engineer, "provided you and Pencroff show yourselves quick and clever hunters."

"Captain," said the sailor, "since you are speaking of game, if on my return I was as certain of being able to roast it as I am of bringing it back


"Bring it back all the same, Pencroff," replied Smith.

It was then agreed that the engineer and the reporter should pass the day at the Chimneys, so as to examine the shore and the upper plateau. Neb, Harbert 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.

"Hunters," replied Harbert; "there is Top already in quest."

"We will hunt, then," said the sailor, "and come back and collect our wood afterwards."

This agreed to, Harbert, Neb and Pencroff, after having torn three sticks from the trunk of a young fir, followed Top, who was jumping about in the long grass.

This time, the hunters, instead of following the course of the river, plunged straight into the heart of the forest. There were still the same trees, belonging, for the most part, to the pine family. In certain. places, less crowded and growing in clumps, these pines exhibited considerable dimensions, and seemed to indicate, by their development, that the country was situated in a higher latitude than the engineer had supposed. A glade bristled with stumps, and was covered with dry wood, which formed an inexhaustible store of fuel. Then, the glade passed, the underwood thickened again, and became almost impenetrable.

It was difficult enough to find the way through the clumps of trees, without any beaten track. So the sailor from time to VOL VIII-27

time broke off branches which might be easily recognized. But perhaps he was wrong not to follow the water-course, as he and Harbert had done on their first excursion, for after walking an hour not a creature had shown itself. Top, running under the branches, only roused birds which could not be approached. Even the couroucous were invisible, 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 tetra fishing.

They set out then, about ten o'clock in the morning, Harbert confident, Neb joyous, Pencroff murmuring aside: "If, on my return, I find a fire at the house, I shall believe that the lightning itself came to lighting it." All three climbed the bank. Arriving at the angle made by the river, the sailor, stopping, said to his two companions:

"Shall we start out as hunters or woodmen ?"

"Well, Pencroff," said Neb, in a slightly sarcastic tone, "if this is all the game you promised to bring back to my master, it won't need a very large fire to roast it!"

"Have patience," replied the sailor, "it isn't the game that will be wanting on our return."

"Haven't you confidence in Captain Smith ?"


"But you don't believe that he will make fire ?"

I shall believe it when the wood is blazin the fire-place."


It will blaze, then, for my master has said so."

"We shall see!"

Meanwhile, the sun had not yet reached the zenith. The exploration, therefore, continued, and Harbert soon discovered 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 maturity, and Harbert described them to his companions, who feasted on them.

"Come," said Pencroff, "sea-weed by way of bread, raw mussels for meat, and almonds for desert, that's certainly a good dinner for those who haven't a single match in their pockets!"

"We mustn't complain," said Harbert. "I am not complaining, my boy," replied Pencroff, "only I repeat, that meat is a little too much economized in this sort of meal."

"Top has seen something!" cried Neb, who ran towards a thicket, in the midst of which the dog had disappeared, barking. With Top's barking were mingled curious gruntings.

The sailor and Harbert 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.

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