The Secret of the Island was another of the series of Voyages Extraordinaires which ran through a famous Paris magazine for younger readers, the Magasin Illustré. It formed the third and completing part of the Mysterious Island set of tales of adventure. We may count it, taken separately, as next to Robinson Crusoe and possibly Treasure Island, the best read and the best appreciated book in all that large group of island-tales and sea-stories to which it belongs. It gained its vogue immediately in France, Great Britain, and overseas besides being translated, with more or less despatch, into other European tongues. M. Jules Verne must indeed have gained enough by it and its two connective tales to have acquired an island of his own. The present book was translated into English by the late W.H.G. Kingston; and is printed in Everyman’s Library by special exclusive arrangement with Messrs Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd., 1909.
The list of tales and romances by Jules Verne includes the following:—
Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1870; A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, translated by J.V., 1872; tr. F.A. Malleson, 1876; Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, 1873; tr. H. Frith, 1876; From the Earth to the Moon, and a Trip Round it, tr. Q. Mercier and E.G. King, 1873; The English at the North Pole, 1873; Meridiana: Adventures of Three English and Three Russians, 1873; Dr Ox’s Experiment and other Stories, 1874; A Floating City, 1874; The Blockade Runners, 1874; Around the World in Eighty Days; tr. G.M. Towle and N. D’Anvers, 1874, 1876; tr. H. Frith, 1879; The Fur Country, or Seventy Degrees North Latitude, tr. N. D’Anvers, 1874; tr. H. Frith, 1879; The Mysterious Island, tr. W.H.G. Kingston, 1875; The Survivors of the Chancellor: Diary of J.R. Kazallon, tr. E. Frewer, 1875; Martin Paz, tr. E. Frewer, 1876; Field of Ice, 1876; Child of the Cavern, tr. W.H.G. Kingston, 1877; Michael Strogoff, tr. W.H.G. Kingston, 1877; A Voyage Round the World, 1877; Hector Servadac, tr. E. Frewer, 1878; Dick Sands, the Boy Captain, tr. E. Frewer, 1879; Celebrated Travels and Travellers: The Great Navigators of the Eighteenth Century, tr. Dora Leigh, N. D’Anvers, etc., 1879-81; Tribulations of a Chinaman, tr. E. Frewer, 1880; The Begum’s Fortune, tr. W.H.G. Kingston, 1880; The Steam House, tr. A.D. Kingston, 1881; The Giant Raft, W.J. Gordon, 1881; Godfrey Morgan, 1S83; The Green Ray, tr. M. de Hauteville, 1883; The Vanished Diamond, 1885; The Archipelago on Fire, 1886; Mathias Sandorf, 1886; Keraban the Inflexible, 1887; The Lottery Ticket, 1887; Clipper of the Clouds, 1887; The Flight to France, or Memoirs of a Dragoon, 1888; North against South: Story of the American Civil War, 1888; Adrift in the Pacific, 1889; Cesar Cacabel, 1891; The Purchase of the North Pole, 1891; A Family without a Name, 1891; Mistress Branican, 1892; Claudius Bombarnac, 1894; Foundling Mick, 1895; Clovis Dardentor, 1897; For the Flag, tr. Mrs C. Hoey, 1897; An Antarctic Mystery, 1898.
Jules Verne’s works are published in an authorised and illustrated edition by Messrs Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd.
Lost or saved—Ayrton summoned—Important Discussion—It is not the Duncan—Suspicious Vessel—Precautions to be taken—The Ship approaches—A Cannon-Shot—The Brig anchors in Sight of the Island—Night comes on.
It was now two years and a half since the castaways from the balloon had been thrown on Lincoln Island, and during that period there had been no communication between them and their fellow-creatures. Once the reporter had attempted to communicate with the inhabited world by confiding to a bird a letter which contained the secret of their situation, but that was a chance on which it was impossible to reckon seriously. Ayrton, alone, under the circumstances which have been related, had come to join the little colony. Now, suddenly, on this day, the 17th of October, other men had unexpectedly appeared in sight of the island, on that deserted sea!
There could be no doubt about it! A vessel was there! But would she pass on, or would she put into port? In a few hours the colonists would definitely know what to expect.
Cyrus Harding and Herbert having immediately called Gideon Spilett, Pencroft, and Neb into the dining-room of Granite House, told them what had happened. Pencroft, seizing the telescope, rapidly swept the horizon, and stopping on the indicated point, that is to say, on that which had made the almost imperceptible spot on the photographic negative—
“I’m blessed but it is really a vessel!” he exclaimed, in a voice which did not express any great amount of satisfaction.
“Is she coming here?” asked Gideon Spilett.
“Impossible to say anything yet,” answered Pencroft, “for her rigging alone is above the horizon, and not a bit of her hull can be seen.”
“What is to be done?” asked the lad.
“Wait,” replied Harding.
And for a considerable time the settlers remained silent, given up to all the thoughts, all the emotions, all the fears, all the hopes, which were aroused by this incident—the most important which had occurred since their arrival in Lincoln Island. Certainly, the colonists were not in the situation of castaways abandoned on a sterile islet, constantly contending against a cruel nature for their miserable existence, and incessantly tormented by the longing to return to inhabited countries. Pencroft and Neb, especially, who felt themselves at once so happy and so rich, would not have left their island without regret. They were accustomed, besides, to this new life in the midst of the domain which their intelligence had as it were civilised. But at any rate this ship brought news from the world, perhaps even from their native land. It was bringing fellow-creatures to them, and it may be conceived how deeply their hearts were moved at the sight!
From time to time Pencroft took the glass and rested himself at the window. From thence he very attentively examined the vessel, which was at a distance of twenty miles to the east. The colonists had as yet, therefore, no means of signalising their presence. A flag would not have been perceived; a gun would not have been heard; a fire would not have been visible. However, it was certain that the island, overtopped by Mount Franklin, could not have escaped the notice of the vessel’s look-out. But why was this ship coming there? Was it simple chance which brought it to that part of the Pacific, where the maps mentioned no land except Tabor Islet, which itself was out of the route usually followed by vessels from the Polynesian Archipelagos, from New Zealand, and from the American coast? To this question, which each one asked himself, a reply was suddenly made by Herbert.
“Can it be the Duncan?” he cried.
The Duncan, as has been said, was Lord Glenarvan’s yacht, which had left Ayrton on the islet, and which was to return there some day to fetch him. Now, the islet was not so far-distant from Lincoln Island, but that a vessel, standing for the one, could pass in sight of the other. A hundred and fifty miles only separated them in longitude, and seventy in latitude.
“We must tell Ayrton,” said Gideon Spilett, “and send for him immediately. He alone can say if it is the Duncan.”
This was the opinion of all, and the reporter, going to the telegraphic apparatus which placed the corral in communication with Granite House, sent this telegram:—“Come with all possible speed.”
In a few minutes the bell sounded.
“I am coming,” replied Ayrton.
Then the settlers