The Mysterious Island
In the evening the hunters returned, having enjoyed good sport, and being
literally loaded with game; indeed, they had as much as four men could possibly
carry. Top wore a necklace of teal and Jup wreaths of snipe round his body.
"Here, master," cried Neb; "here's something to employ our time! Preserved and
made into pies we shall have a welcome store! But I must have some one to help
me. I count on you, Pencroft."
"No, Neb," replied the sailor; "I have the rigging of the vessel to finish and to look
after, and you will have to do without me."
"And you, Mr. Herbert?"
"I must go to the corral to-morrow, Neb," replied the lad.
"It will be you then, Mr. Spilett, who will help me?"
"To oblige you, Neb, I will," replied the reporter; "but I warn you that if you
disclose your receipts to me, I shall publish them."
"Whenever you like, Mr. Spilett," replied Neb; "whenever you like."
And so the next day Gideon Spilett became Neb's assistant and was installed in
his culinary laboratory. The engineer had previously made known to him the
result of the exploration which he had made the day before, and on this point the
reporter shared Harding's opinion, that although he had found nothing, a secret
still remained to be discovered!
The frost continued for another week, and the settlers did not leave Granite
House unless to look after the poultry-yard. The dwelling was filled with
appetizing odors, which were emitted from the learned manipulation of Neb and
the reporter. But all the results of the chase were not made into preserved
provisions; and as the game kept perfectly in the intense cold, wild duck and
other fowl were eaten fresh, and declared superior to all other aquatic birds in the
During this week, Pencroft, aided by Herbert, who handled the sailmaker's
needle with much skill, worked with such energy that the sails of the vessel were
finished. There was no want of cordage. Thanks to the rigging which had been
discovered with the case of the balloon, the ropes and cables from the net were
all of good quality, and the sailor turned them all to account. To the sails were
attached strong bolt ropes, and there still remained enough from which to make