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首页 » 双语小说 » 神秘岛 The Mysterious Island » Book 1 Chapter 4
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Book 1 Chapter 4

All at once the reporter sprang up, and telling the sailor that he would rejoin them at that same place, he climbed the cliff in the direction which the Negro Neb had taken a few hours before. Anxiety hastened his steps, for he longed to obtain news of his friend, and he soon disappeared round an angle of the cliff. Herbert wished to accompany him.

"Stop here, my boy," said the sailor; "we have to prepare an encampment, and to try and find rather better grub than these shell-fish. Our friends will want something when they come back. There is work for everybody."

"I am ready," replied Herbert.

"All right," said the sailor; "that will do. We must set about it regularly. We are tired, cold, and hungry; therefore we must have shelter, fire, and food. There is wood in the forest, and eggs in nests; we have only to find a house."

"Very well," returned Herbert, "I will look for a cave among the rocks, and I shall be sure to discover some hole into which we can creep."

"All right," said Pencroft; "go on, my boy."

They both walked to the foot of the enormous wall over the beach, far from which the tide had now retreated; but instead of going towards the north, they went southward. Pencroft had remarked, several hundred feet from the place at which they landed, a narrow cutting, out of which he thought a river or stream might issue. Now, on the one hand it was important to settle themselves in the neighborhood of a good stream of water, and on the other it was possible that the current had thrown Cyrus Harding on the shore there.

The cliff, as has been said, rose to a height of three hundred feet, but the mass was unbroken throughout, and even at its base, scarcely washed by the sea, it did not offer the smallest fissure which would serve as a dwelling. It was a perpendicular wall of very hard granite, which even the waves had not worn away. Towards the summit fluttered myriads of sea-fowl, and especially those of the web-footed species with long, flat, pointed beaks--a clamorous tribe, bold in the presence of man, who probably for the first time thus invaded their domains. Pencroft recognized the skua and other gulls among them, the voracious little sea-mew, which in great numbers nestled in the crevices of the granite. A shot fired among this swarm would have killed a great number, but to fire a shot a gun was needed, and neither Pencroft nor Herbert had one; besides this, gulls and sea-mews are scarcely eatable, and even their eggs have a detestable taste. However, Herbert, who had gone forward a little more to the left, soon came upon rocks covered with sea-weed, which, some hours later, would be hidden by the high tide. On these rocks, in the midst of slippery wrack, abounded bivalve shell-fish, not to be despised by starving people. Herbert called Pencroft, who ran up hastily.

"Here are mussels!" cried the sailor; "these will do instead of eggs!"

"They are not mussels," replied Herbert, who was attentively examining the molluscs attached to the rocks; "they are lithodomes."

"Are they good to eat?" asked Pencroft.

"Perfectly so."

"Then let us eat some lithodomes."

The sailor could rely upon Herbert; the young boy was well up in natural history, and always had had quite a passion for the science. His father had encouraged him in it, by letting him attend the lectures of the best professors in Boston, who were very fond of the intelligent, industrious lad. And his turn for natural history was, more than once in the course of time, of great use, and he was not mistaken in this instance. These lithodomes were oblong shells, suspended in clusters and adhering very tightly to the rocks. They belong to that species of molluscous perforators which excavate holes in the hardest stone; their shell is rounded at both ends, a feature which is not remarked in the common mussel.

Pencroft and Herbert made a good meal of the lithodomes, which were then half opened to the sun. They ate them as oysters, and as they had a strong peppery taste, they were palatable without condiments of any sort.

Their hunger was thus appeased for the time, but not their thirst, which increased after eating these naturally-spiced molluscs. They had then to find fresh water, and it was not likely that it would be wanting in such a capriciously uneven region. Pencroft and Herbert, after having taken the precaution of collecting an ample supply of lithodomes, with which they filled their pockets and handkerchiefs, regained the foot of the cliff.

Two hundred paces farther they arrived at the cutting, through which, as Pencroft had guessed, ran a stream of water, whether fresh or not was to be ascertained. At this place the wall appeared to have been separated by some violent subterranean force. At its base was hollowed out a little creek, the farthest part of which formed a tolerably sharp angle. The watercourse at that part measured one hundred feet in breadth, and its two banks on each side were scarcely twenty feet high. The river became strong almost directly between the two walls of granite, which began to sink above the mouth; it then suddenly turned and disappeared beneath a wood of stunted trees half a mile off.

"Here is the water, and yonder is the wood we require!" said Pencroft. "Well, Herbert, now we only want the house."

The water of the river was limpid. The sailor ascertained that at this time--that is to say, at low tide, when the rising floods did not reach it --it was sweet. This important point established, Herbert looked for some cavity which would serve them as a retreat, but in vain; everywhere the wall appeared smooth, plain, and perpendicular.

However, at the mouth of the watercourse and above the reach of the high tide, the convulsions of nature had formed, not a grotto, but a pile of enormous rocks, such as are often met with in granite countries and which bear the name of "Chimneys."

Pencroft and Herbert penetrated quite far in among the rocks, by sandy passages in which light was not wanting, for it entered through the openings which were left between the blocks, of which some were only sustained by a miracle of equilibrium; but with the light came also air--a regular corridor-gale--and with the wind the sharp cold from the exterior. However, the sailor thought that by stopping-up some of the openings with a mixture of stones and sand, the Chimneys could be rendered habitable. Their geometrical plan represented the typographical sign "&," which signifies "et cetera" abridged, but by isolating the upper mouth of the sign, through which the south and west winds blew so strongly, they could succeed in making the lower part of use.

"Here's our work," said Pencroft, "and if we ever see Captain Harding again, he will know how to make something of this labyrinth."

"We shall see him again, Pencroft," cried Herbert, "and when be returns he must find a tolerable dwelling here. It will be so, if we can make a fireplace in the left passage and keep an opening for the smoke."

"So we can, my boy," replied the sailor, "and these Chimneys will serve our turn. Let us set to work, but first come and get a store of fuel. I think some branches will be very useful in stopping up these openings, through which the wind shrieks like so many fiends."

Herbert and Pencroft left the Chimneys, and, turning the angle, they began to climb the left bank of the river. The current here was quite rapid, and drifted down some dead wood. The rising tide--and it could already be perceived--must drive it back with force to a considerable distance. The sailor then thought that they could utilize this ebb and flow for the transport of heavy objects.

After having walked for a quarter of an hour, the sailor and the boy arrived at the angle which the river made in turning towards the left. From this point its course was pursued through a forest of magnificent trees. These trees still retained their verdure, notwithstanding the advanced season, for they belonged to the family of "coniferae," which is spread over all the regions of the globe, from northern climates to the tropics. The young naturalist recognized especially the "deedara," which are very numerous in the Himalayan zone, and which spread around them a most agreeable odor. Between these beautiful trees sprang up clusters of firs, whose opaque open parasol boughs spread wide around. Among the long grass, Pencroft felt that his feet were crushing dry branches which crackled like fireworks.

"Well, my boy," said he to Herbert, "if I don't know the name of these trees, at any rate I reckon that we may call them 'burning wood,' and just now that's the chief thing we want."

"Let us get a supply," replied Herbert, who immediately set to work.

The collection was easily made. It was not even necessary to lop the trees, for enormous quantities of dead wood were lying at their feet; but if fuel was not wanting, the means of transporting it was not yet found. The wood, being very dry, would burn rapidly; it was therefore necessary to carry to the Chimneys a considerable quantity, and the loads of two men would not be sufficient. Herbert remarked this.

"Well, my boy," replied the sailor, "there must be some way of carrying this wood; there is always a way of doing everything. If we had a cart or a boat, it would be easy enough."

"But we have the river," said Herbert.

"Right," replied Pencroft; "the river will be to us like a road which carries of itself, and rafts have not been invented for nothing."

"Only," observed Herbert, "at this moment our road is going the wrong way, for the tide is rising!"

"We shall be all right if we wait till it ebbs," replied the sailor, "and then we will trust it to carry our fuel to the Chimneys. Let us get the raft ready."

The sailor, followed by Herbert, directed his steps towards the river. They both carried, each in proportion to his strength, a load of wood bound in fagots. They found on the bank also a great quantity of dead branches in the midst of grass, among which the foot of man had probably never before trod. Pencroft began directly to make his raft. In a kind of little bay, created by a point of the shore which broke the current, the sailor and the lad placed some good-sized pieces of wood, which they had fastened together with dry creepers. A raft was thus formed, on which they stacked all they had collected, sufficient, indeed, to have loaded at least twenty men. In an hour the work was finished, and the raft moored to the bank, awaited the turning of the tide.

There were still several hours to be occupied, and with one consent Pencroft and Herbert resolved to gain the upper plateau, so as to have a more extended view of the surrounding country.

Exactly two hundred feet behind the angle formed by the river, the wall, terminated by a fall of rocks, died away in a gentle slope to the edge of the forest. It was a natural staircase. Herbert and the sailor began their ascent; thanks to the vigor of their muscles they reached the summit in a few minutes; and proceeded to the point above the mouth of the river.

On attaining it, their first look was cast upon the ocean which not long before they had traversed in such a terrible condition. They observed, with emotion, all that part to the north of the coast on which the catastrophe had taken place. It was there that Cyrus Harding had disappeared. They looked to see if some portion of their balloon, to which a man might possibly cling, yet existed. Nothing! The sea was but one vast watery desert. As to the coast, it was solitary also. Neither the reporter nor Neb could be anywhere seen. But it was possible that at this time they were both too far away to be perceived.

"Something tells me," cried Herbert, "that a man as energetic as Captain Harding would not let himself be drowned like other people. He must have reached some point of the shore; don't you think so, Pencroft?"

The sailor shook his head sadly. He little expected ever to see Cyrus Harding again; but wishing to leave some hope to Herbert: "Doubtless, doubtless," said he; "our engineer is a man who would get out of a scrape to which any one else would yield."

In the meantime he examined the coast with great attention. Stretched out below them was the sandy shore, bounded on the right of the river's mouth by lines of breakers. The rocks which were visible appeared like amphibious monsters reposing in the surf. Beyond the reef, the sea sparkled beneath the sun's rays. To the south a sharp point closed the horizon, and it could not be seen if the land was prolonged in that direction, or if it ran southeast and southwest, which would have made this coast a very long peninsula. At the northern extremity of the bay the outline of the shore was continued to a great distance in a wider curve. There the shore was low, flat, without cliffs, and with great banks of sand, which the tide left uncovered. Pencroft and Herbert then returned towards the west. Their attention was first arrested by the snow-topped mountain which rose at a distance of six or seven miles. From its first declivities to within two miles of the coast were spread vast masses of wood, relieved by large green patches, caused by the presence of evergreen trees. Then, from the edge of this forest to the shore extended a plain, scattered irregularly with groups of trees. Here and there on the left sparkled through glades the waters of the little river; they could trace its winding course back towards the spurs of the mountain, among which it seemed to spring. At the point where the sailor had left his raft of wood, it began to run between the two high granite walls; but if on the left bank the wall remained clear and abrupt, on the right bank, on the contrary, it sank gradually, the massive sides changed to isolated rocks, the rocks to stones, the stones to shingle running to the extremity of the point.

"Are we on an island?" murmured the sailor.

"At any rate, it seems to be big enough," replied the lad.

"An island, ever so big, is an island all the same!" said Pencroft.

But this important question could not yet be answered. A more perfect survey had to be made to settle the point. As to the land itself, island or continent, it appeared fertile, agreeable in its aspect, and varied in its productions.

"This is satisfactory," observed Pencroft; "and in our misfortune, we must thank Providence for it."

"God be praised!" responded Herbert, whose pious heart was full of gratitude to the Author of all things.

Pencroft and Herbert examined for some time the country on which they had been cast; but it was difficult to guess after so hasty an inspection what the future had in store for them.

They then returned, following the southern crest of the granite platform, bordered by a long fringe of jagged rocks, of the most whimsical shapes. Some hundreds of birds lived there nestled in the holes of the stone; Herbert, jumping over the rocks, startled a whole flock of these winged creatures.

"Oh!" cried he, "those are not gulls nor sea-mews!"

"What are they then?" asked Pencroft.

"Upon my word, one would say they were pigeons!"

"Just so, but these are wild or rock pigeons. I recognize them by the double band of black on the wing, by the white tail, and by their slate- colored plumage. But if the rock-pigeon is good to eat, its eggs must be excellent, and we will soon see how many they may have left in their nests!"

"We will not give them time to hatch, unless it is in the shape of an omelet!" replied Pencroft merrily.

"But what will you make your omelet in?" asked Herbert; "in your hat?"

"Well!" replied the sailor, "I am not quite conjuror enough for that; we must come down to eggs in the shell, my boy, and I will undertake to despatch the hardest!"

Pencroft and Herbert attentively examined the cavities in the granite, and they really found eggs in some of the hollows. A few dozen being collected, were packed in the sailor's handkerchief, and as the time when the tide would be full was approaching, Pencroft and Herbert began to redescend towards the watercourse. When they arrived there, it was an hour after midday. The tide had already turned. They must now avail themselves of the ebb to take the wood to the mouth. Pencroft did not intend to let the raft go away in the current without guidance, neither did he mean to embark on it himself to steer it. But a sailor is never at a loss when there is a question of cables or ropes, and Pencroft rapidly twisted a cord, a few fathoms long, made of dry creepers. This vegetable cable was fastened to the after-part of the raft, and the sailor held it in his hand while Herbert, pushing off the raft with a long pole, kept it in the current. This succeeded capitally. The enormous load of wood drifted down the current. The bank was very equal; there was no fear that the raft would run aground, and before two o'clock they arrived at the river's mouth, a few paces from the Chimneys.

突然,通讯记者跳起来,叫水手在原地等他,然后他就顺着几小时以前纳布所爬过的方向攀上了悬崖。他急于想知道朋友的下落,因此急急忙忙地加快了步子,马上就绕过峭壁的拐角不见了。赫伯特想跟他一起去。

“别去,孩子,”水手说,“我们要准备一个过宿的地方,再想法子弄点儿比贝类动物好吃的东西。他们回来后需要吃点儿。各人都有自己的工作。”

“那我们马上就动手吧。”赫伯特说。

“好,”水手说,“干吧,我们要好好地布置一下。我们又累、又冷、又饿,因此必须找个住的地方,生一堆火,找点吃的。森林里有柴,鸟窝里有蛋,只要找个安身的地方就行了。”

“很好,”赫伯特说,“我去找个山洞,我相信一定能找到一个容纳得下我们的山洞。”

“好,”潘克洛夫说,“去吧,孩子。”

他们两个人走到海滩的庞大石壁底下,潮水离这里已经很远了,他们没有往北走,而是向南。潘克洛夫在着陆时注意到几百步以外的地方有一个狭窄的山口,他认为那可能是一条河或小溪的出口。现在他们正需要在一条这样的淡水河旁边安身;另一方面海流也可能把赛勒斯·史密斯冲到这里的岸边来。

前面已经说过,悬崖高达三百英尺,它从上到下没有一个空洞,波涛难得冲到它下面,所以连一点能够容身的裂缝都没有。悬崖是一片坚实而陡峭的花岗岩,连海水也没法侵蚀它。无数的海鸥在悬崖顶上盘旋着,其中最多的是蹼足鸟类,它们的尖嘴又扁又长,叽叽喳喳地叫个不休,看见人一点也不害怕——也许这还是人类第一次侵犯它们的领土。在这些鸟当中,潘克洛夫认得有一种就是人家通常称做游禽类的大鸥,另外还有无数贪吃的小海鸥隐藏在花岗岩峭壁的缝隙里。向它们开一枪,准能打死很多,首先自然要有枪,但是潘克洛夫和赫伯特都无枪可放。再说,这些海鸥的肉都是难以下咽的,连它们的蛋也都腥臭难闻,赫伯特又向左走了几步,忽然碰到一堆覆盖着海藻的乱石,几小时以后潮水就要把这里淹没了。在这些岩石上和又湿又滑的海藻之间,到处是蛤蜊类,饿着肚子的人见了以后,是不会轻易放过的。赫伯特喊了一声潘克洛夫,水手连忙跑过来。

“怎么!都是贻贝吗?”水手喊道,“这可以代替鸟蛋了!”

“不是贻贝,”赫伯特一面回答,一面仔细观察岩石上的那些软体动物,“是茨蟹。”

“好吃吗?”潘克洛夫问道。

“好吃极了。”

“那我们就吃些茨蟹吧。”

水手很信任赫伯特;少年不但热爱博物学,而且精通这门科学。他的父亲曾经鼓励他在这方面钻研,并且让他旁听波士顿名教授讲课,那些教授都很喜欢这个聪明好学的少年。过去他已经不止一次地证明了博物学的用处,这一次他也没有弄错。这些茨蟹有椭圆形的贝壳,它们成群地紧粘在岩石上,一动也不动。它们属于穿孔类软体动物,能在最坚硬的岩石中挖洞;它们的外壳两端浑圆,这是一般贻贝所没有的特征。

潘克洛夫和赫伯特饱餐了一顿在日光中半开着壳的茨蟹。他们象吃蛤蜊似的吃着。茨蟹的味道很辣,不加任何作料也非常可口。

他们暂时总算吃饱了,然而吃了这些“自来香”的软体动物之后,觉得更加口渴了,因此必须喝水。在这一带特别崎岖的地方,看来是不会找不着淡水的。潘克洛夫和赫伯特捡了许多茨蟹,装满了衣袋和手帕,就回到悬崖下面去。

他们走了二百步左右,到了潘克洛夫曾认为可能有河水流出来的那个山口,只是究竟是不是淡水,那还不能肯定。这里的石壁好象是由于剧烈的地震裂开的,石壁底下是一股小溪,溪流的尽头形成一个相当尖锐的弯角。那段水流宽达一百英尺,两岸不到二十英尺高。河水在花岗石的夹壁间流得非常急。石壁俯临河口,然后,河身突然拐了个弯,消失在半英里以外的矮树林中了。

“这里有水,那里有我们需要的木柴!”潘克洛夫说,“赫伯特,现在我们只少住的地方了。”

河水是清澈的。水手相信河水在这时候——也就是海水还没有随着涨潮倒灌进来的时候——是清甜适口的。这个重要的问题解决了以后,赫伯特就去找可以藏身的山洞了,但是到处都是平滑陡峭的石壁,因此找来找去毫无效果。

但是,在河口比涨潮后的水面较高的地方,大地的剧烈震动叠起了一大堆的岩石——不是普通的岩洞——这种高大的岩石堆就是在花岗右产地常见的所谓“石窟”。

潘克洛夫和赫伯特钻进岩石堆,沿着沙路走了很远,这里光线并不很暗,因为有阳光可以从石缝照进来;有些石块象奇迹似的保持着平衡,随着阳光,风也透了进来,形成一般的过堂风;随着风,外面的寒气也进来了。但是,水手却认为如果用沙石把一部分石缝堵住,“石窟”里是可以居住的。它的平面图很象印刷体中的“&”字,也就是拉丁文“和”字的缩写。的确,只要把上面那个口堵住,不让强烈的西风和南风吹进来,他们就可以利用它在下面安身了。

“我们有活干啦,”潘克洛夫说,“要是我们能找到史密斯先生的话,他一定会很好地利用这座迷宫的。”

“我们准会找到他的,潘克洛夫,”赫伯特大声说,“等他回来的时候,一定要让他在这里瞧见一所象样的住宅。如果我们在左边通道里生火,再留个洞口出烟,那就行了。”

“那好办,孩子,”水手答道,“‘石窟’够我们用的了。我们动手吧,可是首先要去弄些木柴来。我觉得可以用树枝来堵塞这些石缝,要不然风吹进来就好象鬼叫似的。”

赫伯特和潘克洛夫离开了“石窟”,转过拐角,爬上河的左岸。这里水势非常湍急,一棵枯树顺流往下冲来。上涨的潮水——现在已经可以看出来了——必然会有力地把它推回很远。于是水手考虑到可以利用潮水的涨落来运送较重的东西。

走了一刻钟以后,水手和少年来到河流向左弯曲的拐角处。在这里,河水流过一片美丽的森林。虽然已经是秋天了,这些树木还保持着苍翠的颜色。这种松柏科的树木布满了地球上的各个区域,从北方较冷的地区一直延伸到热带。这位少年博物学家特别认得出那发散出一股清香的是喜马拉雅杉,在这些美丽的杉树中间,还夹杂着枞树,它们向四周伸展着浓密而宽阔的伞形树枝。当他们在深草丛中走过的时候,枯枝在潘克洛夫的脚下发出鞭炮一样的响声。

“孩子,”他对赫伯特说,“虽然我不知道这些树的名字,至少我们可以把它叫做‘柴树’,眼前我们最需要的就是它。”

“我们多弄点回去吧。”赫伯特一面回答,一面就动手收集起来。

收集木柴毫不费力,满地都是枯枝,他们甚至不必到树上去折。虽然有了燃料,运输的办法却一时还想不出来。木柴很干,燃烧起来一定很快;应该多搞点回去!据赫伯特估计,两个人所能带走的还不够用。

“孩子,”水手说,“一定得想个法子搬运木柴,不论干什么都得有个办法。要是我们有一辆大车或是一只船,那就好办了。”

“但是我们有河。”赫伯特说。

“对,”潘克洛夫说,“河就是我们的自动运输线,我们可以做个木筏。”

“不过,”赫伯特说,“现在我们这运输线的方向不对了,正在涨潮呢!”

“等到退潮的时候就行了,”水手答道,“那时候我们就可以借着河流把燃料运到‘石窟’去。我们先把木筏做好吧。”

水手带领着赫伯特,直向河边走去。他们两个人各尽自己的力量,把成捆的木柴搬去。在河畔草丛里他们又找到大量的枯枝,这里大概从来也不曾有人来过。潘克洛夫马上就开始造木筏了。堤岸的一部分突入河里,使水势减弱,形成一个小港。水手和少年就在这里安排了几根很粗的木头,用爬藤把它们绑在一起。这样就造成了一只木筏。他们把捡来的木柴都堆在上面,真的,这些木柴二十个人也搬不完。一个钟头以后,工作就完成了,木筏系在岸边,只等退潮了。

离退潮还有几个钟头,潘克洛夫和赫伯特商量好以后,决定爬上高地去,看一看周围更远的景物。

离河流的拐角整整二百英尺的地方,石壁的一端往下倾斜,慢漫地伸展到森林的边缘,然后平伏下去了。这是一座天然的梯子。赫伯特和水手往上走去,他们身强力壮,几分钟的工夫就到达了山顶,然后走到俯临河口的地方。

上山以后,他们首先看见的是他们在十分危险的情况下曾经渡过的海洋。他们以激动的心情望着海岸的北部地区。赛勒斯·史密斯就是在那里失踪的!他们希望能够看到气球的一点残骸,史密斯很可能还攀在上面。可是什么也没有,周围只是辽阔无边的海洋。海岸上同样是一个人也没有。到处都没有通讯记者和纳布的踪迹。也许这时候他们离得太远了,所以看不见。

“我总觉得,”赫伯特大声说,“象史密斯那样能干的人是不会象平常人一样被淹死的。他一定是在什么地方上岸了,你是不是也这样想,潘克洛夫?”

水手闷声不响摇摇头。他似乎觉得再也不能见到赛勒斯·史密斯了,但他不愿意使赫伯特灰心,因此说:“当然,当然,就是在别人毫无办法的情况下,工程师也是能够脱险的。”

在那一段时间中,他仔细地观察了海滨。下面是一片沙滩,它向外伸展出去,直到河口的右边就被翻滚的浪花拦住了,露出来的礁石象水陆两栖的怪物似的躺在波涛里。礁石以外的大海在阳光下闪闪发光。南面的水平线被一个突出的海角遮住了,看不见陆地是顺着那个方向伸展出去,还是延向东南和西南,使海岸成为一个很长的半岛。在港湾北部的尽头,海岸的轮廓延伸到很远的地方,形成一个很大的弧形。那里的海滨地势平坦,没有悬崖,只有退潮后露出来的大片沙滩。潘克洛夫和赫伯特然后就回身向西走去。他们首先注意到六七英里外那座顶端积雪的高山。从离海岸两英里以内一直到山坡开始下斜的地方,生长着大片的树木,还有许多常绿树点缀在里面,因此看上去一大片苍翠的绿荫,并不觉得单调。从森林的边缘直到海边是一片平原,上面东一堆西一堆地生长着树丛。左边的林间空地上闪耀着小河的流水;沿着这条弯弯曲曲的小河可以溯流到山岭的支脉间去,河水似乎是从那里发源的。就在水手停靠木筏的地方,它就开始从巍峨的花岗石壁之间流出来;左壁固然峥嵘险峻,右壁却不同,它逐渐倾斜下去,整片的石壁变成一块一块的岩石,岩石又变为石子,石子又变成了沙砾,一直延伸到海角的尽头。

“我们是在一个岛上吗?”水手喃喃地说。

“不管怎么样,这个岛似乎还够大的。”少年答道。

“不管多大,岛终归还是个岛!”潘克洛夫说。

但是这个重要的问题一时还不能得到解答。要解决这问题就必须更全面地察看一下。不论是岛也好,是大陆也好,这里的土地看起来是肥沃的,风景也很好,物产也很丰富。

“不错,”潘克洛夫说,“有这样的地方可算是不幸中的大幸了。”

“谢天谢地。”赫伯特说,他虔诚地对上苍表示万分的感谢。

潘克洛夫和赫伯特在他们落难的这片土地上观察了好久,可是这样走马看花的看了一遍,也很难想象出他们未来的命运如何。

后来他们就沿着花岗石台地的南边山脊往回走了,台地的边缘是一道奇形怪状、参差不齐的石块。石穴里栖息着成千成百的飞鸟;赫伯特从石头上跳下来,惊起了大群的飞禽。

“啊!”他喊道,“这不是海鸥,也不是沙鸥!”

“那么是什么呢?”潘克洛夫问道。“我想也许是鸽子!”

“对了,不过这些是野鸽子,或者是山鸽子,它们的翅膀上有两道黑纹,尾巴是白的,羽毛是青灰色的,所以我认得出来,野鸽子肉本来就很好吃,它们的蛋想必更加好吃了,我们去瞧瞧它们的窝里有多少蛋!”

“我们不给它们时间孵蛋了,除非它们能够孵出荷包蛋来!”潘克洛夫兴致勃勃地说。

“现在你打算用什么东西来煎荷包蛋呢?”赫伯特说,“用你的帽子吗?”

“好哇!”水手回答说,“我可不会变这样的戏法。我们只好将就些吃泡蛋罢,最硬的蛋给我来解决!”

潘克洛夫和赫伯特在花岗石的空隙里仔细搜了一遍,果然在一些洞穴里找到一些鸟蛋。他们捡了好几打,包在水手的手帕里。快要到满潮的时候,潘克洛夫和赫伯特就从山上下来,回头往河边走会。到达河边的时候已经是午后一点钟。海潮已经回头了。现在他们必须利用低潮把木材运送到河口去。潘克洛夫不愿意亲自在筏上掌握方向,可也不能让木筏无人照管而随波逐流,虽然没有绳索和钢缆,可是一个水手是不会因为这个而毫无办法的;潘克洛夫很快就用干爬藤拧成一条几寻长的绳子。他把这根藤索系在木筏的后部,用手控制着另一端,赫伯特用一根长竿把木筏撑开,使它漂浮在水流上。这件工作做得非常圆满,大批的木柴随着水流漂去了。河岸很平坦,丝毫不用担心木筏会在水中打旋。还不到下午两点钟,他们就来到河口,离“石窟”只有几步远了。



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