Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 62


CHAPTER 20

An isolated rock, thirty feet in length, twenty in breadth, scarcely ten
from the water's edge, such was the only solid point which the waves of the
Pacific had not engulfed.

It was all that remained of the structure of Granite House! The wall had
fallen headlong and been then shattered to fragments, and a few of the
rocks of the large room were piled one above another to form this point.
All around had disappeared in the abyss; the inferior cone of Mount
Franklin, rent asunder by the explosion; the lava jaws of Shark Gulf, the
plateau of Prospect Heights, Safety Islet, the granite rocks of Port
Balloon, the basalts of Dakkar Grotto, the long Serpentine Peninsula, so
distant nevertheless from the center of the eruption. All that could now be
seen of Lincoln Island was the narrow rock which now served as a refuge to
the six colonists and their dog Top.

The animals had also perished in the catastrophe; the birds, as well as
those representing the fauna of the island--all either crushed or drowned,
and the unfortunate Jup himself had, alas! found his death in some crevice
of the soil.

If Cyrus Harding, Gideon Spilett, Herbert, Pencroft, Neb, and Ayrton had
survived, it was because, assembled under their tent, they had been hurled
into the sea at the instant when the fragments of the island rained down on
every side.

When they reached the surface they could only perceive, at half a cable's
length, this mass of rocks, towards which they swam and on which they found
footing.

On this barren rock they had now existed for nine days. A few provisions
taken from the magazine of Granite House before the catastrophe, a little
fresh water from the rain which had fallen in a hollow of the rock, was all
that the unfortunate colonists possessed. Their last hope, the vessel, had
been shattered to pieces. They had no means of quitting the reef; no fire,
nor any means of obtaining it. It seemed that they must inevitably perish.

This day, the 18th of March, there remained only provisions for two days,
although they limited their consumption to the bare necessaries of life.
All their science and intelligence could avail them nothing in their
present position. They were in the hand of God.

Cyrus Harding was calm, Gideon Spilett more nervous, and Pencroft, a prey
to sullen anger, walked to and fro on the rock. Herbert did not for a
moment quit the engineer's side, as if demanding from him that assistance
he had no power to give. Neb and Ayrton were resigned to their fate.

"Ah, what a misfortune! what a misfortune!" often repeated Pencroft. "If
we had but a walnut-shell to take us to Tabor Island! But we have nothing,
nothing!"

"Captain Nemo did right to die," said Neb.

During the five ensuing days Cyrus Harding and his unfortunate companions
husbanded their provisions with the most extreme care, eating only what
would prevent them from dying of starvation. Their weakness was extreme.
Herbert and Neb began to show symptoms of delirium.

Under these circumstances was it possible for them to retain even the
shadow of a hope? No! What was their sole remaining chance? That a vessel
should appear in sight of the rock? But they knew only too well from
experience that no ships ever visited this part of the Pacific. Could they
calculate that, by a truly providential coincidence, the Scotch yacht would
arrive precisely at this time in search of Ayrton at Tabor Island? It was
scarcely probable; and, besides, supposing she should come there, as the
colonists had not been able to deposit a notice pointing out Ayrton's
change of abode, the commander of the yacht, after having explored Tabor
Island without results, would again set sail and return to lower latitudes.

No! no hope of being saved could be retained, and a horrible death, death
from hunger and thirst, awaited them upon this rock.

Already they were stretched on the rock, inanimate, and no longer
conscious of what passed around them. Ayrton alone, by a supreme effort,
from time to time raised his head, and cast a despairing glance over the
desert ocean.

But on the morning of the 24th of March Ayrton's arms were extended
toward a point in the horizon; he raised himself, at first on his knees,
then upright, and his hand seemed to make a signal.

A sail was in sight off the rock. She was evidently not without an
object. The reef was the mark for which she was making in a direct line,
under all steam, and the unfortunate colonists might have made her out some
hours before if they had had the strength to watch the horizon.

"The 'Duncan'!" murmured Ayrton--and fell back without sign of life.

When Cyrus Harding and his companions recovered consciousness, thanks to
the attention lavished upon them, they found themselves in the cabin of a
steamer, without being able to comprehend how they had escaped death.

A word from Ayrton explained everything.

"The 'Duncan'!" he murmured.

"The 'Duncan'!" exclaimed Cyrus Harding. And raising his hand to Heaven,
he said, "Oh! Almighty God! mercifully hast Thou preserved us!"

It was, in fact, the "Duncan," Lord Glenarvan's yacht, now commanded by
Robert, son of Captain Grant, who had been despatched to Tabor Island to
find Ayrton, and bring him back to his native land alter twelve years of
expiation.

The colonists were not only saved, but already on the way to their native
country.

"Captain Grant," asked Cyrus Harding, "who can have suggested to you the
idea, after having left Tabor Island, where you did not find Ayrton, of
coming a hundred miles farther northeast?"

"Captain Harding," replied Robert Grant, "it was in order to find, not
only Ayrton, but yourself and your companions."

"My companions and myself?"

"Doubtless, at Lincoln Island."

"At Lincoln Island!" exclaimed in a breath Gideon Spilett, Herbert, Neb,
and Pencroft, in the highest degree astonished.

"How could you be aware of the existence of Lincoln Island?" inquired
Cyrus Harding, "it is not even named in the charts."

"I knew of it from a document left by you on Tabor Island," answered
Robert Grant.

"A document!" cried Gideon Spilett.

"Without doubt, and here it is," answered Robert Grant, producing a paper
which indicated the longitude and latitude of Lincoln Island, "the present
residence of Ayrton and five American colonists."

"It is Captain Nemo!" cried Cyrus Harding, after having read the notice,
and recognized that the handwriting was similar to that of the paper found
at the corral.

"Ah!" said Pencroft, "it was then he who took our 'Bonadventure' and
hazarded himself alone to go to Tabor Island!"

"In order to leave this notice," added Herbert.

"I was then right in saying," exclaimed the sailor, "that even after his
death the captain would render us a last service.'

"My friends," said Cyrus Harding, in a voice of the profoundest emotion,
"may the God of mercy have had pity on the soul of Captain Nemo, our
benefactor."

The colonists uncovered themselves at these last words of Cyrus Harding,
and murmured the name of Captain Nemo.

Then Ayrton, approaching the engineer, said simply, "Where should this
coffer be deposited?"

It was the coffer which Ayrton had saved at the risk of his life, at the
very instant that the island had been engulfed, and which he now faithfully
handed to the engineer.

"Ayrton! Ayrton!" said Cyrus Harding, deeply touched. Then, addressing
Robert Grant, "Sir," he added, "you left behind you a criminal; you find in
his place a man who has become honest by penitence, and whose hand I am
proud to clasp in mine."

Robert Grant was now made acquainted with the strange history of Captain
Nemo and the colonists of Lincoln Island. Then, observation being taken of
what remained of this shoal, which must henceforward figure on the charts
of the Pacific, the order was given to make all sail.

A few weeks afterwards the colonists landed in America, and found their
country once more at peace alter the terrible conflict in which right and
justice had triumphed.

Of the treasures contained in the coffer left by Captain Nemo to the
colonists of Lincoln Island, the larger portion was employed in the
purchase of a vast territory in the State of Iowa. One pearl alone, the
finest, was reserved from the treasure and sent to Lady Glenarvan in the
name of the castaways restored to their country by the "Duncan."

There, upon this domain, the colonists invited to labor, that is to say,
to wealth and happiness, all those to whom they had hoped to offer the
hospitality of Lincoln Island. There was founded a vast colony to which
they gave the name of that island sunk beneath the waters of the Pacific. A
river there was called the Mercy, a mountain took the name of Mount
Franklin, a small lake was named Lake Grant, and the forests became the
forests of the Far West. It might have been an island on terra firma.

There, under the intelligent hands of the engineer and his companions,
everything prospered. Not one of the former colonists of Lincoln Island was
absent, for they had sworn to live always together. Neb was with his
master; Ayrton was there ready to sacrifice himself for all; Pencroft was
more a farmer than he had ever been a sailor; Herbert, who completed his
studies under the superintendence of Cyrus Harding, and Gideon Spilett, who
founded the New Lincoln Herald, the best-informed journal in the world.

There Cyrus Harding and his companions received at intervals visits from
Lord and Lady Glenarvan, Captain John Mangles and his wife, the sister of
Robert Grant, Robert Grant himself, Major McNab, and all those who had
taken part in the history both of Captain Grant and Captain Nemo.

There, to conclude, all were happy, united in the present as they had
been in the past; but never could they forget that island upon which they
had arrived poor and friendless, that island which, during four years had
supplied all their wants, and of which there remained but a fragment of
granite washed by the waves of the Pacific, the tomb of him who had borne
the name of Captain Nemo.


Jules Verne