“And that the bottle only arrived at Lincoln Island after having floated in the sea a long time.”
“Why not,” returned Pencroft. “But night is coming on,” added he, “and I think that it will be best to give up the search for the present.”
“Let us go on board, and to-morrow we will begin again,” said the reporter.
This was the wisest course, and it was about to be followed when Herbert, pointing to a confused mass among the trees, exclaimed,—
All three immediately ran towards the dwelling. In the twilight it was just possible to see that it was built of planks and covered with a thick tarpaulin.
The half-closed door was pushed open by Pencroft, who entered with a rapid step.
The hut was empty!
The Inventory—Night—A few Letters—Continuation of the Search—Plants and Animals—Herbert in great Danger—On Board—The Departure—Bad Weather—A Gleam of Reason—Lost on the Sea—A timely Light.
Pencroft, Herbert, and Gideon Spilett remained silent in the midst of the darkness.
Pencroft shouted loudly.
No reply was made.
The sailor then struck a light and set fire to a twig. This lighted for a minute a small room, which appeared perfectly empty. At the back was a rude fireplace, with a few cold cinders, supporting an armful of dry wood. Pencroft threw the blazing twig on it, the wood cracked and gave forth a bright light.
The sailor and his two companions then perceived a disordered bed, of which the damp and yellow coverlets proved that it had not been used for a long time. In the corner of the fireplace were two kettles, covered with rust, and an overthrown pot. A cupboard, with a few mouldy sailor’s clothes; on the table a tin plate and a Bible, eaten away by damp;佛山桑拿上门服务电话 in a corner a few tools, a spade, pickaxe, two fowling-pieces, one of which was broken; on a plank, forming a shelf, stood a barrel of powder, still untouched, a barrel of shot, and several boxes of caps, all thickly covered with dust, accumulated, perhaps, by many long years.
“There is no one here,” said the reporter.
“No one,” replied Pencroft.
“It is a long time since this room has been inhabited,” observed Herbert.
“Yes, a very long time!” answered the reporter.
“Mr. Spilett,” then said Pencroft, “instead of returning on board, I think that it would be well to pass the night in this hut.”
“You are right, Pencroft,” answered Gideon Spilett, “and[Pg 155] if its owner returns, well! perhaps he will not be sorry to find the place taken possession of.”
“He will not return,” said the sailor, shaking his head.
“You think 佛山桑拿价格2012 that he has quitted the island?” asked the reporter.
“If he had quitted the island he would have taken away his weapons and his tools,” replied Pencroft. “You know the value which castaways set on such articles as these, the last remains of a wreck? No! no!” repeated the sailor, in a tone of conviction, “no, he has not left the island! If he had escaped in a boat made by himself, he would still less have left these indispensable and necessary articles. No! he is on the island!”
“Living?” asked Herbert.
“Living or dead. But if he is dead, I suppose he has not buried himself, and so we shall at least find his remains!”
It was then agreed that the night should be passed in the deserted dwelling, and a store of wood found in a corner was sufficient to warm it. The door closed, Pencroft, Herbert, and Spilett remained there, 佛山桑拿js seated on a bench, talking little but wondering much. They were in a frame of mind to imagine anything or expect anything. They listened eagerly for sounds outside. The door might have opened suddenly, and a man presented himself to them without their being in the least surprised, notwithstanding all that the hut revealed of abandonment, and they had their hands ready to press the hands of this man, this castaway, this unknown friend, for whom friends were waiting.
But no voice was heard, the door did not open. The hours thus passed away.
How long the night appeared to the sailor and his companions! Herbert alone slept for two hours, for at his age sleep is a necessity. They were all three anxious to continue their exploration of the day before, and to search the most secret recesses of the islet! The inferences deduced by 佛山桑拿女qq Pencroft were perfectly reasonable, and it was nearly certain that, as the hut was deserted, and the tools, utensils, and weapons were still there, the owner had succumbed. It was agreed, therefore, that they should search for his remains, and give them at least Christian burial.
Day dawned; Pencroft and his companions immediately[Pg 156] proceeded to survey the dwelling. It had certainly been built in a favourable situation, at the back of a little hill, sheltered by five or six magnificent gum trees. Before its front and through the trees the axe had prepared a wide clearing, which allowed the view to extend to the sea. Beyond a lawn, surrounded by a wooden fence falling to pieces, was the shore, on the left of which was the mouth of the stream.
The hut had been built of planks, and it was easy to see that these planks had 佛山桑拿按摩论坛交流区 been obtained from the hull or deck of a ship. It was probable that a disabled vessel had been cast on the coast of the island, that one at least of the crew had been saved, and that by means of the wreck this man, having tools at his disposal, had built the dwelling.
And this became still more evident when Gideon Spilett, after having walked round the hut, saw on a plank, probably one of those which had formed the armour of the wrecked vessel, these letters already half effaced:—
“Britannia,” exclaimed Pencroft, whom the reporter had called; “it is a common name for ships, and I could not say if she was English or American!”
“It matters very little, Pencroft!”
“Very little indeed,” answered the sailor; “and we will save the survivor of her crew if he is still living, to whatever country he may belong. But before 佛山桑拿按摩一条龙 beginning our search again let us go on board the Bonadventure.”
A sort of uneasiness had seized Pencroft upon the subject of his vessel. Should the island be inhabited after all, and should some one have taken possession of her? But he shrugged his shoulders at such an unreasonable supposition. At any rate the sailor was not sorry to go to breakfast on board. The road already trodden was not long, scarcely a mile. They set out on their walk, gazing into the wood and thickets through which goats and pigs fled in hundreds.
Twenty minutes after leaving the hut Pencroft and his companions reached the western coast of the island, and saw the Bonadventure held fast by her anchor, which was buried deep in the sand.
Pencroft could not restrain a sigh of satisfaction. After[Pg 157] all this vessel was his child, and it is
the right of fathers to be often uneasy when there is no occasion for it.