The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version
We Explore The Reef
OCTOBER 31 to November 5. -- Our first proceeding on the morning of the 31st was to
make the proposed tour of the reef, which is about a quarter of a mile long. With the aid
of our sounding-lines we found that the water was deep, right up to the very rocks, and
that no shelving shores prevented us coasting along them. There was not a shadow of
doubt as to the rock being of purely volcanic origin, up- heaved by some mighty
subterranean convulsion. It is formed of blocks of basalt, arranged in perfect order, of
which the regular prisms give the whole mass the effect of being one gigantic crystal; and
the remarkable transparency of the sea enabled us plainly to observe the curious shafts of
the prismatic columns that support the marvelous sub- structure.
"This is indeed a singular island," said M. Letourneur; "evidently it is of quite recent
"Yes, father," said Andre, "and I should think it has been caused by a phenomenon
similar to those which pro- duced the Julia Island, off the coast of Sicily, or the group of
the Santorini, in the Grecian Archipelago. One could almost fancy that it had been
created expressly for the Chan- cellor to strand upon."
"It is very certain," I observed, "that some upheaving has lately taken place. This is by no
means an unfrequented part of the Atlantic, so that it is not at all likely that it could have
escaped the notice of sailors if it had been always in existence; yet it is not marked even
in the most modern charts. We must try and explore it thoroughly and give future
navigators the benefit of our observations."
"But, perhaps, it will disappear as it came," said Andre. "You are no doubt aware, Mr.
Kazallon, that these volcanic islands sometimes have a very transitory existence. Not im-
possibly, by the time it gets marked upon the maps it may no longer be here."
"Never mind, my boy," answered his father, "it is bet- ter to give warning of a danger that
does not exist than overlook one that does. I dare say the sailors will not grumble much,
if they don't find a reef where we have marked one."
"No, I dare say not, father," said Andre, "and after all this island is very likely as firm as a
continent. However, if it is to disappear, I expect Captain Curtis would be glad to see it
take its departure as soon as possible after he has finished his repairs; it would save him a
world of trouble in getting his ship afloat."
"Why, what a fellow you are, Andre!" I said, laugh- ing; "I believe you would like to rule
Nature with a magic wand, first of all, you would call up a reef from the depth of the
ocean to give the Chancellor time to extinguish her flames, and then you would make it
disappear just that the ship might be free again."