The Mysterious Island: The Secret of the Island

Chapter XX

An isolated rock in the Pacific—The last refuge of the colonists of Lincoln Island—Death in view—Unexpected help—Why and how it came—The last benefaction—An island on firm ground—The tomb of Captain Nemo.

An isolated rock, thirty feet long, fifteen wide, emerging barely ten feet, such was the only solid point that had not been overrun by the waves of the Pacific.

It was all that remained of the block of Granite House! The wall had been overthrown, then broken up, and a few rocks from the large hall had piled up so as to form this culminating point. All had disappeared in the abyss around them; the lower cone of Mount Franklin torn apart by the explosion, the lava jaws of Shark Gulf, Grand View Plateau, Safety Islet, the granites of Port Balloon, the basalts of Dakkar Crypt, the long Serpentine Peninsula so far from the eruptive center! Of Lincoln Island they could only see this narrow rock which now served as a refuge for six colonists and their dog Top.

The animals had likewise perished in the catastrophe, the birds as well as the other representatives of the fauna of the island, all crushed or drowned and the unfortunate Jup himself had alas! found death in some crevice in the ground!

If Cyrus Smith, Gideon Spilett, Herbert, Pencroff, Neb and Ayrton had survived, it was because, gathered then under their tent, they had been thrown into the sea at the moment when the debris from the island rained down on all sides.

When they returned to the surface, they could see only this pile of rocks half a cable away to which they swam and on which they set foot.

It was on this bare rock that they had lived for the last nine days! A few provisions taken from the Granite House storeroom before the catastrophe, a little sweet water which the rain had spilled into a crack in a rock, that was all that the unfortunates possessed. Their last hope, their vessel, had been destroyed. They had no means of leaving this reef. No fire nor the means to make it. They were destined to perish!

On this day, the 18th of March, there only remained provisions for two days even though they had consumed only what was strictly necessary. All their science, all their intelligence could do nothing for them in this situation. They were completely in the hands of God.

Cyrus Smith was calm. Gideon Spilett was nervous and Pencroff, a prey to muted anger, went back and forth on the rock. Herbert did not leave the engineer and looked at him as if asking of him help which the latter could not provide. Neb and Ayrton were resigned to their fate.

“Ah! Misery! Misery!” Pencroff repeated often. “If we only had even a nutshell to take us to Tabor Island! But nothing, nothing!”

“Captain Nemo did well to die,” Neb once said.

During the five days which followed, Cyrus Smith and his unfortunate companions lived with the most extreme parsimony, eating just enough so as not to succumb to hunger. Their weakness was extreme. Herbert and Neb began to show some signs of delirium.

In this situation could they even preserve a shadow of hope? No! What was their only chance? That a vessel would pass in view of the reef? But they well knew from experience that ships never visited this portion of the Pacific! Could they count then that by a truly providential coincidence the Scotch yacht would come precisely at this time to look for Ayrton at Tabor Island? That was improbable and besides, even admitting that it did come there, since the colonists had not been able to leave a notice indicating the changes that befell Ayrton, the commander of the yacht, after having searched the islet without result, would again take to the sea to go back to lower latitudes.

No! They could not preserve any hope of being saved and a horrible death, a death from hunger and from thirst, awaited them on this rock!

And already they were stretched out on this rock, inanimate, not having any awareness of what was going on around them. Ayrton alone, by a supreme effort, still raised his head and threw a desperate look at this deserted sea!...

But there on the morning of the 24th of March, Ayrton’s arms reached out toward a point in space. He got up, on his knees at first, then erect, his hand seemed to make a signal...

Ayrton’s arms reached out...

A vessel was in sight of the island! This vessel was not sailing the sea at random. The reef was the goal toward which it was moving in a straight line under full steam and the unfortunates would have seen it several hours earlier if they had still had the strength to observe the horizon!

“The Duncan!” murmured Ayrton and he fell back without movement. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When Cyrus Smith and his companions regained consciousness thanks to the cares which had been showered upon them, they found themselves in the room of a steamer without being able to understand how they had escaped death.

A word from Ayrton sufficed to tell them everything.

“The Duncan!” he murmured.

“The Duncan!” replied Cyrus Smith.

And raising his arms toward Heaven he cried:

“Ah! All powerful God! It is by your will that we are saved!”

It was the Duncan in fact, Lord Glenarvan’s yacht, now commanded by Robert, the son of Captain Grant, which had been sent to Tabor Island to look for Ayrton there and to repatriate him after twelve years of expiation...

The colonists were saved. They were already on their way home!

“Captain Robert,” asked Cyrus Smith, “who could have given you the idea, after having left Tabor Island where you no longer found Ayrton, of going a hundred miles to the northeast?”

“Mister Smith,” replied Robert Grant, “it was to find not only Ayrton but your companions and you!”

“My companions and me?”

“Doubtless! At Lincoln Island!”

“Lincoln Island!” Gideon Spilett, Herbert, Neb and Pencroff shouted at the same time at the highest degree of astonishment.

“How do you know about Lincoln Island?” asked Cyrus Smith, “since this island is not even marked on the maps?”

“I knew about it from a notice that you left on Tabor Island,” replied Robert Grant.

“A notice?” shouted Gideon Spilett.

“Without doubt and here it is,” replied Robert Grant, presenting a document which indicated the position of Lincoln Island in longitude and in latitude, “the actual residence of Ayrton and of five American colonists.”

“Captain Nemo!...” said Cyrus Smith, after having read the notice and having recognized that it was the same hand that had written the document found at the corral!

“Ah!” said Pencroff, “so it was he who took our Bonadventure, he who chanced the trip to Mount Tabor alone!...”

“To leave this notice there!” replied Herbert.

“So I had good reason to say,” shouted the sailor, “that even after his death the captain would still render us a last service!”

“My friends,” said Cyrus Smith with a voice of deep emotion, “may God of all mercy receive the soul of Captain Nemo, our savior!”

The colonists uncovered themselves on hearing Cyrus Smith and murmured the name of the captain.

At this moment Ayrton approached the engineer and said to him simply:

“What should be done with this coffer?”

It was the coffer which Ayrton had saved at peril to his life at the moment when the island was engulfed, and which he came faithfully to give to the engineer.

“Ayrton! Ayrton!” said Cyrus Smith with deep emotion.

Then addressing himself to Robert Grant:

“Sir” he added, “where you left a culprit you now find a man that expiation has made honest and to whom I am proud to offer my hand!”

Robert Grant was then told about the strange history of Captain Nemo and of the colonists of Lincoln Island. Then making a record of what remained of this reef which would henceforth figure in the maps of the Pacific, he gave the order to turn around.

Fifteen days later the colonists landed in America and they again found their country at peace after this terrible war which had brought the triumph of justice and of right.

Of the riches contained in the coffer bequeathed by Captain Nemo to the colonists of Lincoln Island, the largest part was used in the acquisition of a vast domain in the state of Iowa. A single pearl, the finest, was set aside from this treasure and sent to Lady Glenarvan in the name of the castaways repatriated by the Duncan.

There, on this domain, the colonists called to labor, that is to say to fortune and to happiness, all those that they had intended to offer the hospitality of Lincoln island. There they founded a vast colony to which they gave the name of the island that had disappeared in the depths of the Pacific. They found there a river which was called the Mercy, a mountain which took the name of Franklin, a small lake which was Lake Grant, forests which became the forest of the Far West. It was like an island on terra firma.

There, under the intelligent hand of the engineer and of his companions, all prospered. Not one of the former colonists of Lincoln Island was missing because they had sworn to live together always, Neb where his master was, Ayrton ready to sacrifice himself on all occasions, Pencroff more a farmer than he had ever been a sailor, Herbert whose studies were completed under the direction of Cyrus Smith, Gideon Spilett who himself founded the New Lincoln Herald which was the most informed journal of the entire world.

There Cyrus Smith and his companions received visits on several occasions from Lord and Lady Glenarvan, from Captain John Mangles and his wife, the sister of Robert Grant, from Robert Grant himself, from Major MacNabbs, from all those who had been associated with the double history of Captain Grant and of Captain Nemo.

There, at last, all were happy, united in the present as they had been in the past; but never could they forget this island on which they had arrived poor and bare, this island which for four years had sufficed for their needs and of which nothing remained any longer but a piece of granite battered by the waves of the Pacific, the tomb of him who had been Captain Nemo!


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Translation Copyright © 1992 Sidney Kravitz
Copyright © Zvi Har’El
$Date: 2007/12/23 17:44:42 $