The Mysterious Island HTML version
Yes! the unfortunate man had wept! Some recollection doubtless had flashed
across his brain, and to use Cyrus Harding's expression, by those tears he was
once more a man.
The colonists left him for some time on the plateau, and withdrew themselves to
a short distance, so that he might feel himself free; but he did not think of
profiting by this liberty, and Harding soon brought him back to Granite House.
Two days after this occurrence, the stranger appeared to wish gradually to
mingle with their common life. He evidently heard and understood, but no less
evidently was he strangely determined not to speak to the colonists; for one
evening, Pencroft, listening at the door of his room, heard these words escape
from his lips:--
"No! here! I! never!"
The sailor reported these words to his companions.
"There is some painful mystery there!" said Harding.
The stranger had begun to use the laboring tools, and he worked in the garden.
When he stopped in his work, as was often the case, he remained retired within
himself, but on the engineer's recommendation, they respected the reserve which
he apparently wished to keep. If one of the settlers approached him, he drew
back, and his chest heaved with sobs, as if overburdened!
Was it remorse that overwhelmed him thus? They were compelled to believe so,
and Gideon Spilett could not help one day making this observation,--
"If he does not speak it is because he has, I fear, things too serious to be told!"
They must be patient and wait.
A few days later, on the 3rd of November, the stranger, working on the plateau,
had stopped, letting his spade drop to the ground, and Harding, who was
observing him from a little distance, saw that tears were again flowing from his
eyes. A sort of irresistible pity led him towards the unfortunate man, and he
touched his arm lightly.
"My friend!" said he.
The stranger tried to avoid his look, and Cyrus Harding having endeavored to
take his hand, he drew back quickly.