The Mysterious Island
On the 9th of October the bark canoe was entirely finished. Pencroft had kept his
promise, and a light boat, the shell of which was joined together by the flexible
twigs of the crejimba, had been constructed in five days. A seat in the stern, a
second seat in the middle to preserve the equilibrium, a third seat in the bows,
rowlocks for the two oars, a scull to steer with, completed the little craft, which
was twelve feet long, and did not weigh more than two hundred pounds. The
operation of launching it was extremely simple. The canoe was carried to the
beach and laid on the sand before Granite House, and the rising tide floated it.
Pencroft, who leaped in directly, maneuvered it with the scull and declared it to
be just the thing for the purpose to which they wished to put it.
"Hurrah!" cried the sailor, who did not disdain to celebrate thus his own triumph.
"With this we could go round--"
"The world?" asked Gideon Spilett.
"No, the island. Some stones for ballast, a mast and a sail, which the captain will
make for us some day, and we shall go splendidly! Well, captain--and you, Mr.
Spilett; and you, Herbert; and you, Neb--aren't you coming to try our new vessel?
Come along! we must see if it will carry all five of us!"
This was certainly a trial which ought to be made. Pencroft soon brought the
canoe to the shore by a narrow passage among the rocks, and it was agreed that
they should make a trial of the boat that day by following the shore as far as the
first point at which the rocks of the south ended.
As they embarked, Neb cried,--
"But your boat leaks rather, Pencroft."
"That's nothing, Neb," replied the sailor; "the wood will get seasoned. In two days
there won't be a single leak, and our boat will have no more water in her than
there is in the stomach of a drunkard. Jump in!"
They were soon all seated, and Pencroft shoved off. The weather was
magnificent, the sea as calm as if its waters were contained within the narrow
limits of a lake. Thus the boat could proceed with as much security as if it was
ascending the tranquil current of the Mercy.
Neb took one of the oars, Herbert the other, and Pencroft remained in the stern
in order to use the scull.