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首页 » 双语小说 » 神秘岛 The Mysterious Island » Book 1 Chapter 3
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Book 1 Chapter 3

The engineer, the meshes of the net having given way, had been carried off by a wave. His dog also had disappeared. The faithful animal had voluntarily leaped out to help his master. "Forward," cried the reporter; and all four, Spilett, Herbert, Pencroft, and Neb, forgetting their fatigue, began their search. Poor Neb shed bitter tears, giving way to despair at the thought of having lost the only being he loved on earth.

Only two minutes had passed from the time when Cyrus Harding disappeared to the moment when his companions set foot on the ground. They had hopes therefore of arriving in time to save him. "Let us look for him! let us look for him!" cried Neb.

"Yes, Neb," replied Gideon Spilett, "and we will find him too!"

"Living, I trust!"

"Still living!"

"Can he swim?" asked Pencroft.

"Yes," replied Neb, "and besides, Top is there."

The sailor, observing the heavy surf on the shore, shook his head.

The engineer had disappeared to the north of the shore, and nearly half a mile from the place where the castaways had landed. The nearest point of the beach he could reach was thus fully that distance off.

It was then nearly six o'clock. A thick fog made the night very dark. The castaways proceeded toward the north of the land on which chance had thrown them, an unknown region, the geographical situation of which they could not even guess. They were walking upon a sandy soil, mingled with stones, which appeared destitute of any sort of vegetation. The ground, very unequal and rough, was in some places perfectly riddled with holes, making walking extremely painful. From these holes escaped every minute great birds of clumsy flight, which flew in all directions. Others, more active, rose in flocks and passed in clouds over their heads. The sailor thought he recognized gulls and cormorants, whose shrill cries rose above the roaring of the sea.

From time to time the castaways stopped and shouted, then listened for some response from the ocean, for they thought that if the engineer had landed, and they had been near to the place, they would have heard the barking of the dog Top, even should Harding himself have been unable to give any sign of existence. They stopped to listen, but no sound arose above the roaring of the waves and the dashing of the surf. The little band then continued their march forward, searching into every hollow of the shore.

After walking for twenty minutes, the four castaways were suddenly brought to a standstill by the sight of foaming billows close to their feet. The solid ground ended here. They found themselves at the extremity of a sharp point on which the sea broke furiously.

"It is a promontory," said the sailor; "we must retrace our steps, holding towards the right, and we shall thus gain the mainland."

"But if he is there," said Neb, pointing to the ocean, whose waves shone of a snowy white in the darkness. "Well, let us call again," and all uniting their voices, they gave a vigorous shout, but there came no reply. They waited for a lull, then began again; still no reply.

The castaways accordingly returned, following the opposite side of the promontory, over a soil equally sandy and rugged. However, Pencroft observed that the shore was more equal, that the ground rose, and he declared that it was joined by a long slope to a hill, whose massive front he thought that he could see looming indistinctly through the mist. The birds were less numerous on this part of the shore; the sea was also less tumultuous, and they observed that the agitation of the waves was diminished. The noise of the surf was scarcely heard. This side of the promontory evidently formed a semicircular bay, which the sharp point sheltered from the breakers of the open sea. But to follow this direction was to go south, exactly opposite to that part of the coast where Harding might have landed. After a walk of a mile and a half, the shore presented no curve which would permit them to return to the north. This promontory, of which they had turned the point, must be attached to the mainland. The castaways, although their strength was nearly exhausted, still marched courageously forward, hoping every moment to meet with a sudden angle which would set them in the first direction. What was their disappointment, when, after trudging nearly two miles, having reached an elevated point composed of slippery rocks, they found themselves again stopped by the sea.

"We are on an islet," said Pencroft, "and we have surveyed it from one extremity to the other."

The sailor was right; they had been thrown, not on a continent, not even on an island, but on an islet which was not more than two miles in length, with even a less breadth.

Was this barren spot the desolate refuge of sea-birds, strewn with stones and destitute of vegetation, attached to a more important archipelago? It was impossible to say. When the voyagers from their car saw the land through the mist, they had not been able to reconnoiter it sufficiently. However, Pencroft, accustomed with his sailor eyes to piece through the gloom, was almost certain that he could clearly distinguish in the west confused masses which indicated an elevated coast. But they could not in the dark determine whether it was a single island, or connected with others. They could not leave it either, as the sea surrounded them; they must therefore put off till the next day their search for the engineer, from whom, alas! not a single cry had reached them to show that he was still in existence.

"The silence of our friend proves nothing," said the reporter. "Perhaps he has fainted or is wounded, and unable to reply directly, so we will not despair."

The reporter then proposed to light a fire on a point of the islet, which would serve as a signal to the engineer. But they searched in vain for wood or dry brambles; nothing but sand and stones were to be found. The grief of Neb and his companions, who were all strongly attached to the intrepid Harding, can be better pictured than described. It was too evident that they were powerless to help him. They must wait with what patience they could for daylight. Either the engineer had been able to save himself, and had already found a refuge on some point of the coast, or he was lost for ever! The long and painful hours passed by. The cold was intense. The castaways suffered cruelly, but they scarcely perceived it. They did not even think of taking a minute's rest. Forgetting everything but their chief, hoping or wishing to hope on, they continued to walk up and down on this sterile spot, always returning to its northern point, where they could approach nearest to the scene of the catastrophe. They listened, they called, and then uniting their voices, they endeavored to raise even a louder shout than before, which would be transmitted to a great distance. The wind had now fallen almost to a calm, and the noise of the sea began also to subside. One of Neb's shouts even appeared to produce an echo. Herbert directed Pencroft's attention to it, adding, "That proves that there is a coast to the west, at no great distance." The sailor nodded; besides, his eyes could not deceive him. If he had discovered land, however indistinct it might appear, land was sure to be there. But that distant echo was the only response produced by Neb's shouts, while a heavy gloom hung over all the part east of the island.

Meanwhile, the sky was clearing little by little. Towards midnight the stars shone out, and if the engineer had been there with his companions he would have remarked that these stars did not belong to the Northern Hemisphere. The Polar Star was not visible, the constellations were not those which they had been accustomed to see in the United States; the Southern Cross glittered brightly in the sky.

The night passed away. Towards five o'clock in the morning of the 25th of March, the sky began to lighten; the horizon still remained dark, but with daybreak a thick mist rose from the sea, so that the eye could scarcely penetrate beyond twenty feet or so from where they stood. At length the fog gradually unrolled itself in great heavily moving waves.

It was unfortunate, however, that the castaways could distinguish nothing around them. While the gaze of the reporter and Neb were cast upon the ocean, the sailor and Herbert looked eagerly for the coast in the west. But not a speck of land was visible. "Never mind," said Pencroft, "though I do not see the land, I feel it... it is there... there... as sure as the fact that we are no longer at Richmond." But the fog was not long in rising. it was only a fine-weather mist. A hot sun soon penetrated to the surface of the island. About half-past six, three-quarters of an hour after sunrise, the mist became more transparent. It grew thicker above, but cleared away below. Soon the isle appeared as if it had descended from a cloud, then the sea showed itself around them, spreading far away towards the east, but bounded on the west by an abrupt and precipitous coast.

Yes! the land was there. Their safety was at least provisionally insured. The islet and the coast were separated by a channel about half a mile in breadth, through which rushed an extremely rapid current.

However, one of the castaways, following the impulse of his heart, immediately threw himself into the current, without consulting his companions, without saying a single word. It was Neb. He was in haste to be on the other side, and to climb towards the north. It had been impossible to hold him back. Pencroft called him in vain. The reporter prepared to follow him, but Pencroft stopped him. "Do you want to cross the channel?" he asked. "Yes," replied Spilett. "All right!" said the seaman; "wait a bit; Neb is well able to carry help to his master. If we venture into the channel, we risk being carried into the open sea by the current, which is running very strong; but, if I'm not wrong, it is ebbing. See, the tide is going down over the sand. Let us have patience, and at low water it is possible we may find a fordable passage." "You are right," replied the reporter, "we will not separate more than we can help."

During this time Neb was struggling vigorously against the current. He was crossing in an oblique direction. His black shoulders could be seen emerging at each stroke. He was carried down very quickly, but he also made way towards the shore. It took more than half an hour to cross from the islet to the land, and he reached the shore several hundred feet from the place which was opposite to the point from which he had started.

Landing at the foot of a high wall of granite, he shook himself vigorously; and then, setting off running, soon disappeared behind a rocky point, which projected to nearly the height of the northern extremity of the islet.

Neb's companions had watched his daring attempt with painful anxiety, and when he was out of sight, they fixed their attention on the land where their hope of safety lay, while eating some shell-fish with which the sand was strewn. It was a wretched repast, but still it was better than nothing. The opposite coast formed one vast bay, terminating on the south by a very sharp point, which was destitute of all vegetation, and was of a very wild aspect. This point abutted on the shore in a grotesque outline of high granite rocks. Towards the north, on the contrary, the bay widened, and a more rounded coast appeared, trending from the southwest to the northeast, and terminating in a slender cape. The distance between these two extremities, which made the bow of the bay, was about eight miles. Half a mile from the shore rose the islet, which somewhat resembled the carcass of a gigantic whale. Its extreme breadth was not more than a quarter of a mile.

Opposite the islet, the beach consisted first of sand, covered with black stones, which were now appearing little by little above the retreating tide. The second level was separated by a perpendicular granite cliff, terminated at the top by an unequal edge at a height of at least 300 feet. It continued thus for a length of three miles, ending suddenly on the right with a precipice which looked as if cut by the hand of man. On the left, above the promontory, this irregular and jagged cliff descended by a long slope of conglomerated rocks till it mingled with the ground of the southern point. On the upper plateau of the coast not a tree appeared. It was a flat tableland like that above Cape Town at the Cape of Good Hope, but of reduced proportions; at least so it appeared seen from the islet. However, verdure was not wanting to the right beyond the precipice. They could easily distinguish a confused mass of great trees, which extended beyond the limits of their view. This verdure relieved the eye, so long wearied by the continued ranges of granite. Lastly, beyond and above the plateau, in a northwesterly direction and at a distance of at least seven miles, glittered a white summit which reflected the sun's rays. It was that of a lofty mountain, capped with snow.

The question could not at present be decided whether this land formed an island, or whether it belonged to a continent. But on beholding the convulsed masses heaped up on the left, no geologist would have hesitated to give them a volcanic origin, for they were unquestionably the work of subterranean convulsions.

Gideon Spilett, Pencroft, and Herbert attentively examined this land, on which they might perhaps have to live many long years; on which indeed they might even die, should it be out of the usual track of vessels, as was likely to be the case.

"Well," asked Herbert, "what do you say, Pencroft?"

"There is some good and some bad, as in everything," replied the sailor. "We shall see. But now the ebb is evidently making. In three hours we will attempt the passage, and once on the other side, we will try to get out of this scrape, and I hope may find the captain." Pencroft was not wrong in his anticipations. Three hours later at low tide, the greater part of the sand forming the bed of the channel was uncovered. Between the islet and the coast there only remained a narrow channel which would no doubt be easy to cross.

About ten o'clock, Gideon Spilett and his companions stripped themselves of their clothes, which they placed in bundles on their heads, and then ventured into the water, which was not more than five feet deep. Herbert, for whom it was too deep, swam like a fish, and got through capitally. All three arrived without difficulty on the opposite shore. Quickly drying themselves in the sun, they put on their clothes, which they had preserved from contact with the water, and sat down to take counsel together what to do next.

工程师从网眼上掉下来以后,就被海浪卷走了。吊篮里的狗也失踪了。这只忠实的狗主动地跳出去营救它的主人。“前进啊!”通讯记者喊道;他们四个人——史佩莱、赫伯特、潘克洛夫和纳布——全都忘记了疲倦,到处寻找。可怜的纳布痛哭流涕,一想到世界上自己唯一心爱的人已经丧命,他不禁感到灰心。

从赛勒斯·史密斯失踪到他的伙伴们着陆,前后只有两分钟。因此他们希望能及时赶去救他。纳布喊道:“我们去找他吧!我们去找他吧!”

“对,纳布,”吉丁·史佩莱说,“我们一定找得到他!”

“他还活着吗?”

“一定活着!”

“他会游泳吗?”潘克洛夫问道。

“会的,”纳布答道,“还有托普跟他在一起呢。”

水手望着拍岸的巨浪,不禁摇摇头。

工程师是在海滨的北部失踪的,离这群遇难人着陆的地点将近半英里。因此,也就是说,他离最近的海岸足有半英里。

这时候将近六点钟了。暮色在浓雾的笼罩下,显得格外昏暗。遇难的人从他们偶然落下的地方向北面一片陌生的地区走去,那里的地理位置他们简直无从猜测。他们在寸草不生的沙地上跋涉着。地面坎坷不平,有些地方完全是坑洞,走起来非常困难。不时有许多不善飞翔的大鸟从这些坑洞里向各处飞去。比较灵活的鸟成群地象云似的从他们头上掠过。水手认得这些是海鸥和鸳鸯,它们的尖叫连奔腾澎湃的潮水声也掩盖不了。

这些遇难人不时站下来高声喊叫,倾听着海上有没有回音。他们认为,如果工程师已经登岸,而他们离登岸地点又不太远,那么即使史密斯没法表示他在这里,他们至少也可以听见托普的叫声。他们站下来静听,但除了澎湃的海水和拍岸的惊涛之外,什么也听不到。于是这一小伙人继续前进,找遍了海滨的每一个角落。

徒步走了二十分钟以后,这四个遇难的人突然发现脚下白浪翻腾,只得停下来。陆地到此为止了。他们发觉自己来到一个海角的尽头,海水猛烈地冲击着它的尖端。

“这是一个海角,”水手说,“我们只好按原路回去,向着右边走,这样我们就能返回本土了。”

“也许他就在那里呢,我们还是再喊几声吧!”纳布一面说,一面指着黑暗中白浪滔天的大海,于是他们又齐声大喊起来,但是没有响应,他们稍停了片刻,又喊了一次,还是没有回音。

遇难的人只好回去了;他们沿着海角的另一边走着,这里不但遍地沙石,而且道路崎岖。但是,潘克洛夫发现海岸较直,地面也高起来了,他告诉大家,这里毗连着丘陵斜坡;通过浓雾,他隐隐约约地望到山峦的雄姿。这一带海岸上鸟类较少,海水的喧嚣声也不大;他们还注意到波涛减弱了。几乎听不到拍岸的波涛声。海角的这一面显然形成了一个半圆形的海港,海里的浪花掩盖着海角的尖端。循着这个方向是通往南边的,正和史密斯可能登陆的海岸遥遥相对。步行了一英里半之后,他们在海岸上找不着拐回北边去的弯路了。这个海角——他们曾经绕过它的尽头——一定是和本土相连的。他们虽然已经筋疲力尽,但还是鼓起勇气前进,随时盼望突然遇到一个转角,使他们能回到原地去。走了差不多两英里以后,到了一个高耸的地岬上,遍地都是又湿又滑的岩石,又被海水阻挡住了,他们不禁大失所望。

潘克洛夫说:“我们是在一个小岛上,我们已经从它的一端勘察到另一端了。”

水手说得对;他们落下来的地方不是大陆,甚至也不是海岛,而只是一个小岛,它全长还不到两英里,宽度就更短了。

这一片海鸟栖身的荒地上,满地都是乱石,一点草木也不生,它是不是还和其他较重要的群岛相连呢?这很难说。飞航员在吊篮里的时候,透过云雾看见了陆地,但是他们没来得及仔细观察。尽管这样,潘克洛夫航海多年,他的眼睛在昏暗中几乎还是可以肯定西方朦胧的巨影就是隆起的海岸。不过在黑暗中他们不能断定那是一个孤岛,还是和其他岛屿相连。他们也不能离开这个岛,因为周围都是大海;因此他们只好把寻找工程师的事情拖到第二天。糟糕的是他们连一声叫喊都没有听到,没法知道工程师的死活。

“我们的朋友虽然默不作声,但这并不能说明什么问题,”通讯记者说。“他也许晕过去了,也许受了伤,不能马上回答,我们不必灰心。”

随后通讯记者提议在小岛上燃起一堆火来给工程师作为信号。但是这里遍地都是沙石,找不到任何树枝或干枯的荆棘。纳布和他的伙伴们对勇敢的史密斯都非常敬爱,他们的悲痛只能用画笔来描绘,而不是文字所能形容的。显然,他们已经没法去帮助他了。他们只能尽量忍耐到天亮。除非工程师能够自己逃生,在海岸上找到一个避难的地方,要不然他就是永远离开了这个世界!漫长而痛苦的时光过去了。天气非常寒冷。遇难的人处境十分困难,但是他们几乎没有感觉到。他们连一分钟也不想休息。一心想着他们的首领,他们怀着希望,或者说还抱着一线希望在这一片不毛之地上继续奔走,几次回到小岛的北端,也就是离遇难地点最近的地方。他们倾听、喊叫、齐声高呼,他们打算叫得更响亮一些,使遥远的地方也能听见。现在已经风平浪静。纳布有一次喊叫以后甚至仿佛传来了回声,赫伯特提醒潘克洛夫说:“这说明西边不远的地方有海岸。”水手点点头,他相信自己的眼睛是不会欺骗他的。他只要发现了陆地,不管多么模糊不请,那儿就准有陆地。可是回答纳布呼唤的只是遥远的回声,而小岛整个的东部却是一片昏暗。

在这期间,天空逐渐清朗起来了。午夜的时候,已经是满天星斗,如果工程师在这里,他就会告诉他的伙伴,这不是北半球的星星。这里看不见北极星,星座也不是美国常见的那些了,南十字座在天空闪耀着亮光。

黑夜过去了。3月25日消晨将近五点钟的时候,天渐渐地亮了,地平线上还是黑黝黝的一片。破晓时分,海面上升起了一抹朝雾,他们站在那里连二十英尺以外的东西都看不清楚。最后大片的浓雾动荡不停地四散飘开。

然而不幸得很,这些遇难的人还是看不见周围有任何东西。通讯记者和纳布仔细地视察着海洋,水手和赫伯特急切地寻找看西边有没有海岸。可是连一点陆地的影子也没有。“不要紧,”潘克洛夫说,“虽然我没有看见陆地,可是我感觉得出来……那里准有陆地……正象我们目前已经不在里士满那样肯定。”朝雾不久就停止上升,这不过是晴天的烟霭。炎热的阳光不久就射到海岛上来了。大约在六点半钟左右,也就是太阳升起后三刻钟的时候,烟雾更加淡薄。它的上层逐渐浓厚,而下层却消散了。不久个岛就好象从云端里降下来似的,整个地现了出来。同时周围海洋也显现出来了,它在东面向远处伸展出去,可是西面却被突然插入的险滩挡住了。

是的!那里有陆地。至少他们暂时可以安全了,小岛和对岸之间有一条半英里宽的海峡,海峡里水流湍急。

这时,有一个遇难的人由于内心的驱使,没有同伙伴们商量,就一言不发地跳下水去了,这就是纳布。他急于要到对岸,并向北边爬去。他们拦也拦不住他。潘克洛夫喊他也不听。通讯记者打算跟着去,可是潘克洛夫把他拦住了。“你打算渡过海峡吗?”他问道。“是的。”史佩莱回答说。“好!”水手说:“等一会儿,纳布一个人足够帮助他的主人了。假如我们冒险跳到海峡里去,那就有被急流冲到大海里去的危险;如果我没有看错的话,现在正退潮。你瞧,沙滩上的潮水退下去了。别着急,水浅的时候我们就容易找到一条可以涉水过去的道路了。”“你说得对,”通讯记者答道,“我们不要太分散了,免得大家没法互相照顾。”

这时候纳布正和潮流激烈地搏斗。他在斜渡海峡。当他划水的时候,水里露出他的黑肩膀来。他很快地被冲往下游去,但终于接近了对岸。从小岛横渡到对岸需要半个钟头以上,当他上岸的时候,离对面的出发点已经有几百英尺了。

他在一片高大的花岗石壁下登了岸,用力抖了一下身子,然后拔脚就跑,一会儿工夫就消失在一个岩石的海角后面了。这个海角几乎和小岛北端的高度相等。

纳布的伙伴们焦急地望着他的大胆尝试。当他的身影消失以后,他们就一面吃散布在沙滩上的贝壳动物,一面注视他们寄托着安全希望的陆地,这种食物虽然很难吃,但总比饿着肚子强一些。对岸形成一个宽阔的港湾,南端是一个险峻的海角,上面寸草不生,看起来非常荒凉。这个海角毗连海岸,形成一道奇形怪状的花岗石轮廓,高耸在地面上。相反地,愈向北港湾就愈加宽了,这里的海岸显得更加迂曲,从西南弯向东北,终点形成一个狭长的地角。构成港湾弓形地带的两端之间相距八英里左右。小岛离海岸半英里,很象一条大鲸鱼。最宽的地方也不过四分之一英里。

小岛对面海滩的最低层是沙砾,上面散布着黑石头。退潮以后,这些石头都慢慢地露出来了。海滩的第二层有一道垂直的花岗石峭壁把它隔开,峭壁的顶端参差不齐,至少高达三百英尺。峭壁连绵三英里,右方伸展到一座好象人工凿开的断崖处突然终止了。左边,在海角的上面,这座参差不齐的悬崖下降成一片很长的砾岩山坡,一直湮没在南角的地面上。海滨的高地上一棵树也没有,有些象好望角开普敦的平坦台地,只是显得小一些;至少从小岛上看来是这样的。悬崖的右边倒有不少青翠的植物。他们一眼就看见一大片望不到边的树林。看了绵延起伏的花岗石丘陵,再看这一片苍翠的绿荫,不禁使他们感到满目清凉。最后,越过高原,在西北至少七英里远的地方,他们看见一个白色的山巅在阳光里闪闪发光。这是一座顶端积雪的高山。

这片土地究竟是一个孤岛,还是和大陆相连,现在还很难说,可是地质学家们看了左边那些由于地震所形成的石堆以后,一定会毫不犹豫地指出,这是由火山爆发引起的,因为这些东西无疑是大地内部震动的结果。

吉丁·史佩莱、潘克洛夫和赫伯特仔细地考察了这片土地。也许他们要在这里住上好几年。假如这个荒岛远离船舶的经常航线,那么他们甚至可能要在这里待一辈子。

赫伯特问道:“喂,潘克洛夫,你认为怎么样?”

“跟任何事情一样,有好的一面,也有坏的一面,”水手答道。“等着瞧吧,现在显然正在退潮,三个钟头之后我们就可以想法子过去了。只要一到对岸,就可以想法子脱离这个困难的境地,我认为是可能找到史密斯的。”果然不出潘克洛夫所料,三个钟头以后,在低潮的时候,海峡有大部分都露出了沙滩。小岛和对岸之间只留下一条很窄的水道,要渡过去显然是很容易的。

十点钟左右,吉丁·史佩莱和他的伙伴们脱去衣服,捆起来顶在头上,然后跨进不到五英尺深的海水。赫伯特嫌水太深,就象一条鱼似的很出色地游过去了。三个人都顺利地抵达了对岸。他们在阳光下很快晒干了身子,穿上衣服——他们没有让衣服浸湿——然后坐下来商量下一步该怎么办。



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