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The Mysterious Island

Chapter 13
"A castaway!" exclaimed Pencroft; "left on this Tabor Island not two hundred
miles from us! Ah, Captain Harding, you won't now oppose my going."
"No, Pencroft," replied Cyrus Harding; "and you shall set out as soon as
The engineer still held in his hand the paper which he had taken from the bottle.
He contemplated it for some instants, then resumed,
"From this document, my friends, from the way in which it is worded, we may
conclude this: first, that the castaway on Tabor Island is a man possessing a
considerable knowledge of navigation, since he gives the latitude and longitude
of the island exactly as we ourselves found it, and to a second of approximation;
secondly, that he is either English or American, as the document is written in the
English language."
"That is perfectly logical," answered Spilett; "and the presence of this castaway
explains the arrival of the case on the shores of our island. There must have
been a wreck, since there is a castaway. As to the latter, whoever he may be, it
is lucky for him that Pencroft thought of building this boat and of trying her this
very day, for a day later and this bottle might have been broken on the rocks."
"Indeed," said Herbert, "it is a fortunate chance that the 'Bonadventure' passed
exactly where the bottle was still floating!"
"Does not this appear strange to you?" asked Harding of Pencroft.
"It appears fortunate, that's all," answered the sailor. "Do you see anything
extraordinary in it, captain? The bottle must go somewhere, and why not here as
well as anywhere else?"
"Perhaps you are right, Pencroft," replied the engineer; "and yet--"
"But," observed Herbert, "there's nothing to prove that this bottle has been
floating long in the sea."
"Nothing," replied Gideon Spilett, "and the document appears even to have been
recently written. What do you think about it, Cyrus?"