The Mysterious Island
Gideon Spilett was standing motionless on the shore, his arms crossed, gazing
over the sea, the horizon of which was lost towards the east in a thick black cloud
which was spreading rapidly towards the zenith. The wind was already strong,
and increased with the decline of day. The whole sky was of a threatening
aspect, and the first symptoms of a violent storm were clearly visible.
Herbert entered the Chimneys, and Pencroft went towards the reporter. The
latter, deeply absorbed, did not see him approach.
"We are going to have a dirty night, Mr. Spilett!" said the sailor: "Petrels delight in
wind and rain."
The reporter, turning at the moment, saw Pencroft, and his first words were,--
"At what distance from the coast would you say the car was, when the waves
carried off our companion?"
The sailor had not expected this question. He reflected an instant and replied,--
"Two cables lengths at the most."
"But what is a cable's length?" asked Gideon Spilett.
"About a hundred and twenty fathoms, or six hundred feet."
"Then," said the reporter, "Cyrus Harding must have disappeared twelve hundred
feet at the most from the shore?"
"About that," replied Pencroft.
"And his dog also?"
"What astonishes me," rejoined the reporter, "while admitting that our companion
has perished, is that Top has also met his death, and that neither the body of the
dog nor of his master has been cast on the shore!"
"It is not astonishing, with such a heavy sea," replied the sailor. "Besides, it is
possible that currents have carried them farther down the coast."