The Mysterious Island
Half an hour later Cyrus Harding and Herbert had returned to the encampment.
The engineer merely told his companions that the land upon which fate had
thrown them was an island, and that the next day they would consult. Then each
settled himself as well as he could to sleep, and in that rocky hole, at a height of
two thousand five hundred feet above the level of the sea, through a peaceful
night, the islanders enjoyed profound repose.
The next day, the 30th of March, after a hasty breakfast, which consisted solely
of the roasted tragopan, the engineer wished to climb again to the summit of the
volcano, so as more attentively to survey the island upon which he and his
companions were imprisoned for life perhaps, should the island be situated at a
great distance from any land, or if it was out of the course of vessels which
visited the archipelagoes of the Pacific Ocean. This time his companions
followed him in the new exploration. They also wished to see the island, on the
productions of which they must depend for the supply of all their wants.
It was about seven o'clock in the morning when Cyrus Harding, Herbert,
Pencroft, Gideon Spilett, and Neb quitted the encampment. No one appeared to
be anxious about their situation. They had faith in themselves, doubtless, but it
must be observed that the basis of this faith was not the same with Harding as
with his companions. The engineer had confidence, because he felt capable of
extorting from this wild country everything necessary for the life of himself and his
companions; the latter feared nothing, just because Cyrus Harding was with
them. Pencroft especially, since the incident of the relighted fire, would not have
despaired for an instant, even if he was on a bare rock, if the engineer was with
him on the rock.
"Pshaw," said he, "we left Richmond without permission from the authorities! It
will be hard if we don't manage to get away some day or other from a place
where certainly no one will detain us!"
Cyrus Harding followed the same road as the evening before. They went round
the cone by the plateau which formed the shoulder, to the mouth of the
enormous chasm. The weather was magnificent. The sun rose in a pure sky and
flooded with his rays all the eastern side of the mountain.
The crater was reached. It was just what the engineer had made it out to be in
the dark; that is to say, a vast funnel which extended, widening, to a height of a
thousand feet above the plateau. Below the chasm, large thick streaks of lava
wound over the sides of the mountain, and thus marked the course of the
eruptive matter to the lower valleys which furrowed the northern part of the