The Mysterious Island
Cyrus Harding and his companions slept like innocent marmots in the cave which
the jaguar had so politely left at their disposal.
At sunrise all were on the shore at the extremity of the promontory, and their
gaze was directed towards the horizon, of which two-thirds of the circumference
were visible. For the last time the engineer could ascertain that not a sail nor the
wreck of a ship was on the sea, and even with the telescope nothing suspicious
could be discovered.
There was nothing either on the shore, at least, in the straight line of three miles
which formed the south side of the promontory, for beyond that, rising ground
had the rest of the coast, and even from the extremity of the Serpentine
Peninsula Claw Cape could not be seen.
The southern coast of the island still remained to be explored. Now should they
undertake it immediately, and devote this day to it?
This was not included in their first plan. In fact, when the boat was abandoned at
the sources of the Mercy, it had been agreed that after having surveyed the west
coast, they should go back to it, and return to Granite House by the Mercy.
Harding then thought that the western coast would have offered refuge, either to
a ship in distress, or to a vessel in her regular course; but now, as he saw that
this coast presented no good anchorage, he wished to seek on the south what
they had not been able to find on the west.
Gideon Spilett proposed to continue the exploration, that the question of the
supposed wreck might be completely settled, and he asked at what distance
Claw Cape might be from the extremity of the peninsula.
"About thirty miles," replied the engineer, "if we take into consideration the
curvings of the coast."
"Thirty miles!" returned Spilett. "That would be a long day's march. Nevertheless,
I think that we should return to Granite House by the south coast."
"But," observed Herbert, "from Claw Cape to Granite House there must be at
least another ten miles.
"Make it forty miles in all," replied the engineer, "and do not hesitate to do it. At
least we should survey the unknown shore, and then we shall not have to begin
the exploration again."