Robur the Conqueror
Chapter 19. Anchored At Last
When the "Albatross" was high in the air the island could be seen to be of
moderate size. But on what parallel was it situated? What meridian ran through
it? Was it an island in the Pacific, in Australasia, or in the Indian Ocean? When
the sun appeared, and Robur had taken his observations, they would know; but
although they could not trust to the indications of the compass there was reason
to think they were in the Pacific.
At this height--one hundred and, fifty feet--the island which measured about
fifteen miles round, was like a three-pointed star in the sea.
Off the southwest point was an islet and a range of rocks. On the shore there
were no tide-marks, and this tended to confirm Robur in his opinion as to his
position for the ebb and flow are almost imperceptible in the Pacific.
At the northwest point there was a conical mountain about two hundred feet high.
No natives were to be seen, but they might be on the opposite coast. In any
case, if they had perceived the aeronef, terror had made them either hide
themselves or run away. The "Albatross" had anchored on the southwest point of
the island. Not far off, down a little creek, a small river flowed in among the rocks.
Beyond were several winding valleys; trees of different kinds; and birds--
partridges and bustards--in great numbers. If the island was not inhabited it was
habitable. Robur might surely have landed on it; if he had not done so it was
probably because the ground was uneven and did not offer a convenient spot to
beach the aeronef.
While he was waiting for the sun the engineer began the repairs he reckoned on
completing before the day was over. The suspensory screws were undamaged
and had worked admirably amid all the violence of the storm, which, as we have
said, had considerably lightened their work. At this moment half of them were in
action, enough to keep the "Albatross" fixed to the shore by the taut cable. But
the two propellers had suffered, and more than Robur had thought. Their blades
would have to be adjusted and the gearing seen to by which they received their
It was the screw at the bow which was first attacked under Robur's
superintendence. It was the best to commence with, in case the "Albatross" had
to leave before the work was finished. With only this propeller he could easily
keep a proper course.
Meanwhile Uncle Prudent and his colleague, after walking about the deck, had
sat down aft. Frycollin was strangely reassured. What a difference! To be
suspended only one hundred and fifty feet from the ground!
The work was only interrupted for a moment while the elevation of the sun above
the horizon allowed Robur to take an horary angle, so that at the time of its
culmination he could calculate his position.
The result of the observation, taken with the greatest exactitude, was as follows:
Longitude, 176 degrees 10' west.
Latitude, 44 degrees 25' south.