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The Mysterious Island

Chapter 3
The next day, the 30th of October, all was ready for the proposed exploring
expedition, which recent events had rendered so necessary. In fact, things had
so come about that the settlers in Lincoln Island no longer needed help for
themselves, but were even able to carry it to others.
It was therefore agreed that they should ascend the Mercy as far as the river was
navigable. A great part of the distance would thus be traversed without fatigue,
and the explorers could transport their provisions and arms to an advanced point
in the west of the island.
It was necessary to think not only of the things which they should take with them,
but also of those which they might have by chance to bring back to Granite
House. If there had been a wreck on the coast, as was supposed, there would be
many things cast up, which would be lawfully their prizes. In the event of this, the
cart would have been of more use than the light canoe, but it was heavy and
clumsy to drag, and therefore more difficult to use; this led Pencroft to express
his regret that the chest had not contained, besides "his halfpound of tobacco," a
pair of strong New Jersey horses, which would have been very useful to the
colony!
The provisions, which Neb had already packed up, consisted of a store of meat
and of several gallons of beer, that is to say enough to sustain them for three
days, the time which Harding assigned for the expedition. They hoped besides to
supply themselves on the road, and Neb took care not to forget the portable
stove.
The only tools the settlers took were the two woodmen's axes, which they could
use to cut a path through the thick forests, as also the instruments, the telescope
and pocket-compass.
For weapons they selected the two flint-lock guns, which were likely to be more
useful to them than the percussion fowling-pieces, the first only requiring flints
which could be easily replaced, and the latter needing fulminating caps, a
frequent use of which would soon exhaust their limited stock. However, they took
also one of the carbines and some cartridges. As to the powder, of which there
was about fifty pounds In the barrel, a small supply of it had to be taken, but the
engineer hoped to manufacture an explosive substance which would allow them
to husband it. To the firearms were added the five cutlasses well sheathed in
leather, and, thus supplied, the settlers could venture into the vast forest with
some chance of success.
 
 
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