The Mysterious Island HTML version

Chapter 20
The winter season set in with the month of June, which corresponds with the
month of December in the Northern Hemisphere. It began with showers and
squalls, which succeeded each other without intermission. The tenants of Granite
House could appreciate the advantages of a dwelling which sheltered them from
the inclement weather. The Chimneys would have been quite insufficient to
protect them against the rigor of winter, and it was to be feared that the high tides
would make another irruption. Cyrus Harding had taken precautions against this
contingency, so as to preserve as much as possible the forge and furnace which
were established there.
During the whole of the month of June the time was employed in different
occupations, which excluded neither hunting nor fishing, the larder being,
therefore, abundantly supplied. Pencroft, so soon as he had leisure, proposed to
set some traps, from which he expected great results. He soon made some
snares with creepers, by the aid of which the warren henceforth every day
furnished its quota of rodents. Neb employed nearly all his time in salting or
smoking meat, which insured their always having plenty of provisions. The
question of clothes was now seriously discussed, the settlers having no other
garments than those they wore when the balloon threw them on the island.
These clothes were warm and good; they had taken great care of them as well
as of their linen, and they were perfectly whole, but they would soon need to be
replaced. Moreover, if the winter was severe, the settlers would suffer greatly
from cold.
On this subject the ingenuity of Harding was at fault. They must provide for their
most pressing wants, settle their dwelling, and lay in a store of food; thus the cold
might come upon them before the question of clothes had been settled. They
must therefore make up their minds to pass this first winter without additional
clothing. When the fine season came round again, they would regularly hunt
those musmons which had been seen on the expedition to Mount Franklin, and
the wool once collected, the engineer would know how to make it into strong
warm stuff.... How? He would consider.
"Well, we are free to roast ourselves at Granite House!" said Pencroft. "There are
heaps of fuel, and no reason for sparing it."
"Besides," added Gideon Spilett, "Lincoln Island is not situated under a very high
latitude, and probably the winters here are not severe. Did you not say, Cyrus,
that this thirty-fifth parallel corresponded to that of Spain in the other