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首页 » 双语小说 » 神秘岛 The Mysterious Island » Book 1 Chapter 19
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Book 1 Chapter 19

The next day, the 22nd of May, the arrangement of their new dwelling was commenced. In fact, the settlers longed to exchange the insufficient shelter of the Chimneys for this large and healthy retreat, in the midst of solid rock, and sheltered from the water both of the sea and sky. Their former dwelling was not, however, to be entirely abandoned, for the engineer intended to make a manufactory of it for important works. Cyrus Harding's first care was to find out the position of the front of Granite House from the outside. He went to the beach, and as the pickaxe when it escaped from the hands of the reporter must have fallen perpendicularly to the foot of the cliff, the finding it would be sufficient to show the place where the hole had been pierced in the granite.

The pickaxe was easily found, and the hole could be seen in a perpendicular line above the spot where it was stuck in the sand. Some rock pigeons were already flying in and out of the narrow opening; they evidently thought that Granite House had been discovered on purpose for them. It was the engineer's intention to divide the right portion of the cavern into several rooms, preceded by an entrance passage, and to light it by means of five windows and a door, pierced in the front. Pencroft was much pleased with the five windows, but he could not understand the use of the door, since the passage offered a natural staircase, through which it would always be easy to enter Granite House.

"My friend," replied Harding, "if it is easy for us to reach our dwelling by this passage, it will be equally easy for others besides us. I mean, on the contrary, to block up that opening, to seal it hermetically, and, if it is necessary, to completely hide the entrance by making a dam, and thus causing the water of the lake to rise."

"And how shall we get in?" asked the sailor.

"By an outside ladder," replied Cyrus Harding, "a rope ladder, which, once drawn up, will render access to our dwelling impossible."

"But why so many precautions?" asked Pencroft. "As yet we have seen no dangerous animals. As to our island being inhabited by natives, I don't believe it!"

"Are you quite sure of that, Pencroft?" asked the engineer, looking at the sailor.

"Of course we shall not be quite sure, till we have explored it in every direction," replied Pencroft.

"Yes," said Harding, "for we know only a small portion of it as yet. But at any rate, if we have no enemies in the interior, they may come from the exterior, for parts of the Pacific are very dangerous. We must be provided against every contingency."

Cyrus Harding spoke wisely; and without making any further objection, Pencroft prepared to execute his orders.

The front of Granite House was then to be lighted by five windows and a door, besides a large bay window and some smaller oval ones, which would admit plenty of light to enter into the marvelous nave which was to be their chief room. This facade, situated at a height of eighty feet above the ground, was exposed to the east, and the rising sun saluted it with its first rays. It was found to be just at that part of the cliff which was between the projection at the mouth of the Mercy and a perpendicular line traced above the heap of rocks which formed the Chimneys. Thus the winds from the northeast would only strike it obliquely, for it was protected by the projection. Besides, until the window-frames were made, the engineer meant to close the openings with thick shutters, which would prevent either wind or rain from entering, and which could be concealed in need.

The first work was to make the openings. This would have taken too long with the pickaxe alone, and it is known that Harding was an ingenious man. He had still a quantity of nitro-glycerine at his disposal, and he employed it usefully. By means of this explosive substance the rock was broken open at the very places chosen by the engineer. Then, with the pickaxe and spade, the windows and doors were properly shaped, the jagged edges were smoothed off, and a few days alter the beginning of the work, Granite House was abundantly lighted by the rising sun, whose rays penetrated into its most secret recesses. Following the plan proposed by Cyrus Harding, the space was to be divided into five compartments looking out on the sea; to the right, an entry with a door, which would meet the ladder; then a kitchen, thirty feet long; a dining-room, measuring forty feet; a sleeping- room, of equal size; and lastly, a "Visitor's room," petitioned for by Pencroft, and which was next to the great hall. These rooms, or rather this suite of rooms, would not occupy all the depth of the cave. There would be also a corridor and a storehouse, in which their tools, provisions, and stores would be kept. All the productions of the island, the flora as well as the fauna, were to be there in the best possible state of preservation, and completely sheltered from the damp. There was no want of space, so that each object could be methodically arranged. Besides, the colonists had still at their disposal the little grotto above the great cavern, which was like the garret of the new dwelling.

This plan settled, it had only to be put into execution. The miners became brickmakers again, then the bricks were brought to the foot of Granite House. Till then, Harding and his companions had only entered the cavern by the long passage. This mode of communication obliged them first to climb Prospect Heights, making a detour by the river's bank, and then to descend two hundred feet through the passage, having to climb as far when they wished to return to the plateau. This was a great loss of time, and was also very fatiguing. Cyrus Harding, therefore, resolved to proceed without any further delay to the fabrication of a strong rope ladder, which, once raised, would render Granite House completely inaccessible.

This ladder was manufactured with extreme care, and its uprights, formed of the twisted fibers of a species of cane, had the strength of a thick cable. As to the rounds, they were made of a sort of red cedar, with light, strong branches; and this apparatus was wrought by the masterly hand of Pencroft.

Other ropes were made with vegetable fibers, and a sort of crane with a tackle was fixed at the door. In this way bricks could easily be raised into Granite House. The transport of the materials being thus simplified, the arrangement of the interior could begin immediately. There was no want of lime, and some thousands of bricks were there ready to be used. The framework of the partitions was soon raised, very roughly at first, and in a short time, the cave was divided into rooms and storehouses, according to the plan agreed upon.

These different works progressed rapidly under the direction of the engineer, who himself handled the hammer and the trowel. No labor came amiss to Cyrus Harding, who thus set an example to his intelligent and zealous companions. They worked with confidence, even gaily, Pencroft always having some joke to crack, sometimes carpenter, sometimes rope- maker, sometimes mason, while he communicated his good humor to all the members of their little world. His faith in the engineer was complete; nothing could disturb it. He believed him capable of undertaking anything and succeeding in everything. The question of boots and clothes--assuredly a serious question,--that of light during the winter months, utilizing the fertile parts of the island, transforming the wild flora into cultivated flora, it all appeared easy to him; Cyrus Harding helping, everything would be done in time. He dreamed of canals facilitating the transport of the riches of the ground; workings of quarries and mines; machines for every industrial manufacture; railroads; yes, railroads! of which a network would certainly one day cover Lincoln Island.

The engineer let Pencroft talk. He did not put down the aspirations of this brave heart. He knew how communicable confidence is; he even smiled to hear him speak, and said nothing of the uneasiness for the future which he felt. In fact, in that part of the Pacific, out of the course of vessels, it was to be feared that no help would ever come to them. It was on themselves, on themselves alone, that the settlers must depend, for the distance of Lincoln Island from all other land was such, that to hazard themselves in a boat, of a necessarily inferior construction, would be a serious and perilous thing.

"But," as the sailor said, "they quite took the wind out of the sails of the Robinsons, for whom everything was done by a miracle."

In fact, they were energetic; an energetic man will succeed where an indolent one would vegetate and inevitably perish.

Herbert distinguished himself in these works. He was intelligent and active; understanding quickly, he performed well; and Cyrus Harding became more and more attached to the boy. Herbert had a lively and reverent love for the engineer. Pencroft saw the close sympathy which existed between the two, but he was not in the least jealous. Neb was Neb: he was what he would be always, courage, zeal, devotion, self-denial personified. He had the same faith in his master that Pencroft had, but he showed it less vehemently. When the sailor was enthusiastic, Neb always looked as if he would say, "Nothing could be more natural." Pencroft and he were great friends.

As to Gideon Spilett, he took part in the common work, and was not less skilful in it than his companions, which always rather astonished the sailor. A "journalist," clever, not only in understanding, but in performing everything.

The ladder was finally fixed on the 28th of May. There were not less than a hundred rounds in this perpendicular height of eighty feet. Harding had been able, fortunately, to divide it in two parts, profiting by an overhanging of the cliff which made a projection forty feet above the ground. This projection, carefully leveled by the pickaxe, made a sort of platform, to which they fixed the first ladder, of which the oscillation was thus diminished one-half, and a rope permitted it to be raised to the level of Granite House. As to the second ladder, it was secured both at its lower part, which rested on the projection, and at its upper end, which was fastened to the door. In short the ascent had been made much easier. Besides, Cyrus Harding hoped later to establish an hydraulic apparatus, which would avoid all fatigue and loss of time, for the inhabitants of Granite House.

The settlers soon became habituated to the use of this ladder. They were light and active, and Pencroft, as a sailor, accustomed to run up the masts and shrouds, was able to give them lessons. But it was also necessary to give them to Top. The poor dog, with his four paws, was not formed for this sort of exercise. But Pencroft was such a zealous master, that Top ended by properly performing his ascents, and soon mounted the ladder as readily as his brethren in the circus. It need not be said that the sailor was proud of his pupil. However, more than once Pencroft hoisted him on his back, which Top never complained of.

It must be mentioned here, that during these works, which were actively conducted, for the bad season was approaching, the alimentary question was not neglected. Every day, the reporter and Herbert, who had been voted purveyors to the colony, devoted some hours to the chase. As yet, they only hunted in Jacamar Wood, on the left of the river, because, for want of a bridge or boat, the Mercy had not yet been crossed. All the immense woods, to which the name of the Forests of the Far West had been given, were not explored. They reserved this important excursion for the first fine days of the next spring. But Jacamar Wood was full of game; kangaroos and boars abounded, and the hunters iron-tipped spears and bows and arrows did wonders. Besides, Herbert discovered towards the southwest point of the lagoon a natural warren, a slightly damp meadow, covered with willows and aromatic herbs which scented the air, such as thyme, basil, savory, all the sweet-scented species of the labiated plants, which the rabbits appeared to be particularly fond of.

On the reporter observing that since the table was spread for the rabbits, it was strange that the rabbits themselves should be wanting, the two sportsmen carefully explored the warren. At any rate, it produced an abundance of useful plants, and a naturalist would have had a good opportunity of studying many specimens of the vegetable kingdom. Herbert gathered several shoots of the basil, rosemary, balm, betony, etc., which possess different medicinal properties, some pectoral, astringent, febrifuge, others anti-spasmodic, or anti-rheumatic. When, afterwards, Pencroft asked the use of this collection of herbs,--

"For medicine," replied the lad, "to treat us when we are ill."

"Why should we be ill, since there are no doctors in the island?" asked Pencroft quite seriously.

There was no reply to be made to that, but the lad went on with his collection all the same, and it was well received at Granite House. Besides these medicinal herbs, he added a plant known in North America as "Oswego tea," which made an excellent beverage.

At last, by searching thoroughly, the hunters arrived at the real site of the warren. There the ground was perforated like a sieve.

"Here are the burrows!" cried Herbert.

"Yes," replied the reporter, "so I see."

"But are they inhabited?"

"That is the question."

This was soon answered. Almost immediately, hundreds of little animals, similar to rabbits, fled in every direction, with such rapidity that even Top could not overtake them. Hunters and dog ran in vain; these rodents escaped them easily. But the reporter resolved not to leave the place, until he had captured at least half-a-dozen of the quadrupeds. He wished to stock their larder first, and domesticate those which they might take later. It would not have been difficult to do this, with a few snares stretched at the openings of the burrows. But at this moment they had neither snares, nor anything to make them of. They must, therefore, be satisfied with visiting each hole, and rummaging in it with a stick, hoping by dint of patience to do what could not be done in any other way.

At last, after half an hour, four rodents were taken in their holes. They were similar to their European brethren, and are commonly known by the name of American rabbits.

This produce of the chase was brought back to Granite House, and figured at the evening repast. The tenants of the warren were not at all to be despised, for they were delicious. It was a valuable resource of the colony, and it appeared to be inexhaustible.

On the 31st of May the partitions were finished. The rooms had now only to be furnished, and this would be work for the long winter days. A chimney was established in the first room, which served as a kitchen. The pipe destined to conduct the smoke outside gave some trouble to these amateur bricklayers. It appeared simplest to Harding to make it of brick clay; as creating an outlet for it to the upper plateau was not to be thought of, a hole was pierced in the granite above the window of the kitchen, and the pipe met it like that of an iron stove. Perhaps the winds which blew directly against the facade would make the chimney smoke, but these winds were rare, and besides, Master Neb, the cook, was not so very particular about that.

When these interior arrangements were finished, the engineer occupied himself in blocking up the outlet by the lake, so as to prevent any access by that way. Masses of rock were rolled to the entrance and strongly cemented together. Cyrus Harding did not yet realize his plan of drowning this opening under the waters of the lake, by restoring them to their former level by means of a dam. He contented himself with hiding the obstruction with grass and shrubs, which were planted in the interstices of the rocks, and which next spring would sprout thickly. However, he used the waterfall so as to lead a small stream of fresh water to the new dwelling. A little trench, made below their level, produced this result; and this derivation from a pure and inexhaustible source yielded twenty-five or thirty gallons a day. There would never be any want of water at Granite House. At last all was finished, and it was time, for the bad season was near. Thick shutters closed the windows of the facade, until the engineer had time to make glass.

Gideon Spilett had very artistically arranged on the rocky projections around the windows plants of different kinds, as well as long streaming grass, so that the openings were picturesquely framed in green, which had a pleasing effect.

The inhabitants of this solid, healthy, and secure dwelling, could not but be charmed with their work. The view from the windows extended over a boundless horizon, which was closed by the two Mandible Capes on the north, and Claw Cape on the south. All Union Bay was spread before them. Yes, our brave settlers had reason to be satisfied, and Pencroft was lavish in his praise of what he humorously called, "his apartments on the fifth floor above the ground!"

第二天是5月22日,他们开始布置新房了。的确,由于“石窟”不够住,居民们都想早些搬到这个宽大而合乎卫生的住宅里来,这个住宅隐藏在坚固的岩石里,海水灌不着,雨水打不到。然而他们并没有完全放弃故居,工程师打算把它开辟成重要工作的作坊。赛勒斯·史密斯首先想从外面找到“花岗石宫”的正面。他来到海滩上,通讯记者甩掉的鹤嘴锄一定从峭壁上直落下来,只要找到鹤嘴锄就可以发现凿穿花岗石的地方了。

他们一下子就找到了鹤嘴锄。鹤嘴锄掉下来以后已经陷在泥沙里了。他们就从这一点一直望上去,发现了那个缺口。已经有几只野鸽在这个小洞口飞进飞出了,它们显然认为“花岗石宫”是专为它们开辟的。工程师主张把石洞的右部分成几间,前面留一条过道,另外再在迎面开五扇窗子和一扇门,用来透光。潘克洛夫对于开五扇窗子这一点非常同意,可是他不明白门的用途,他认为甬道就是“花岗石宫”的天然梯阶,从这里出来进去并没有什么困难。

“朋友,”史密斯说,“如果我们图方便,从甬道里走进住宅,那么其他的人要进去也同样是方便的。我的意思和你相反,要把那个入口堵死,如果必要的话,再做一道堤坝,使湖水重新升高,把入口完全淹下去。”

“那么我们怎么进去呢?”水手问道。

“从外面用梯子上去,”赛勒斯·史密斯答道,“用绳子做一个软梯,只要一吊起来,就谁也进不了我们的住宅了。”

“你干吗要这么胆小呢?”潘克洛夫问道。“直到目前,我们还没有见到过什么猛兽。要是说我们岛上有土人,那我可不相信!”

“你能肯定吗,潘克洛夫?”工程师看着水手问道。

“我们还没有查遍全岛,当然没法完全肯定啦。”潘克洛夫说。

“是呵,”史密斯说,“到目前为止,我们才了解它的一小部分。再说,即使我们岛内没有敌人,外面还是可能有敌人来的,因为太平洋的某些地方非常危险。我们必须防备一切意外。”

赛勒斯·史密斯的话是很英明的。潘克洛夫没有继续反对,准备执行他的命令了。

于是大家一致同意在“花岗石宫”的正面开五扇窗和一道门,此外,还要开一扇往外凸出的大窗子和几个比较小的椭圆形窗孔,以便透进大量的光线。他们这样打算,就是要把这间奇妙的中堂作为主要的房间。“花岗石宫”的正面高出地面八十英尺,朝着正东,太阳一升起来,首先就会把它照亮。他们发现如果从形成“石窟”的乱石堆上画一条垂直线到地面来,那么“花岗石宫”在峭壁上的位置就正在这条线和慈悲河口峭壁凸出的地方中间。由于有凸出的峭壁遮挡着,东北风只能从侧面吹来。此外,工程师还打算在窗架做好以前,先安上厚实的百叶窗,把窗洞挡起来,避免室内遭到风吹雨打,在必要的时候,还能把这些百叶窗隐蔽起来。

第一步工作就是凿洞。如果单靠鹤嘴锄,那不知道要费多少时间才能完成。好在大家都知道史密斯精明强干,他还有一部分硝化甘油没有用完,正好在这件工作上发挥了它的效用。工程师利用这种炸药把在石壁上选定的地方准确地炸开。然后,大家就用鹤嘴锄和铲子把门窗凿成一定的形状,粗糙的边缘也磨平了。这样工作了几天,早上的阳光就大量地透进“花岗石宫”来,连最隐蔽的角落都照亮了。根据赛勒斯·史密斯的计划,下一步应该把石洞分成面临海洋的五间空房;最右边开一道门作为进口,门外安上梯子;然后是一间三十英尺长的厨房,四十英尺长的饭厅和同样大小的寝室;还有一间“会客室”,这是根据潘克洛夫的请求而设的;再往左就是大厅了。这些房间——实际上是一套房间——并没有把整个石洞都占掉。因此他们还打算设一个走廊和一间仓库,他们的工具、食品和储备物资都可以藏在仓库里。这是个很好的保存东西的地方。岛上的各种物产,动物和植物,放在这里完全不会受潮。这里地方很宽,可以井井有条地把每一样东西放在一处。并且,除了这个大石洞以外,上面还有一个小石洞,可以供他们随便利用;这个小石洞好象是新居的气楼一样。

计划拟定以后,只等实行了。工兵们又成了制砖工人。砖头烧成以后,就搬到“花岗石宫”下边来了。直到目前,史密斯和他的伙伴们一直都是通过狭长的甬道进洞的。他们必须先爬上眺望岗,绕过河岸,然后在甬道里往下走二百英尺,要想回到高地上来,就还要往上爬同样长的一段距离。这样不但浪费许多时间,而且也非常吃力。因此赛勒斯·史密斯决定不再拖延,立刻开始制造结实的绳梯。以后只要把梯子拉起来,就没有上“花岗石宫”的道路了。

软梯做得非常讲究,梯帮是用一种爬藤植物的桑韧纤维做成的,和粗索差不多结实。横档用的是红杉的树枝,既轻巧又结实,这套设备是由绳梯专家潘克洛夫一手做成的。

另外他们又用植物纤维编成一些绳子,在门上拴了一个辘轳,装置起一架类似起重机的工具。这样就可以毫不费力地把砖头运到“花岗石宫”上去了。由于材料的运输工作简化了,内部的整修工作就可以立刻开始。他们有的是石灰;砖头存了几千块,也随时可以使用。隔间的初坯马上就砌起来了;起初显得非常简陋,可是不久以后,石洞就完全按照通过的计划,隔成了房间和仓库。

工程师亲自拿着锤子和刮刀带头干,各项工作进行得非常迅速。他没有一种工作不愿意干,他总是以身作则,为聪明而热情的伙伴树立良好的榜样。他们对工作很有信心,干起来非常愉快。潘克洛夫老爱说笑话,他一会儿当木工,一会儿当绳索工,一会儿当泥水工,总是给这个小小的世界制造着笑料。他对工程师佩服得五体投地,不管什么也不能改变他的信仰。他认为工程师是一个万能博士,任何一件事情都能做成。穿衣裳(这的确是一个严重的问题)、冬季室内的照明、利用岛上的肥沃土地以及把野生植物变为栽培植物等问题,这一切在他看来都很容易,有赛勒斯·史密斯帮助,到时候一切都能解决的。他还梦想着开几条运河,以便运输岛上丰富的物产;开矿,制造各种工业生产的机器;修铁路;不错,铁路!肯定地说,林肯岛上的铁路息有一天会稠密得象蜘蛛网似的。

工程师让潘克洛夫一个人自言自语。他没有使这位勇士扫兴。他知道信心是带有感染性的;他甚至一边听他说,一边微笑着,绝口不提他认为日后会遇到的困难。事实上,在这航线以外的太平洋地区里,他们可能一辈子也得不到人们的援助。居民们只有依靠自己,别的什么也得不到,因为林肯岛和任何一个岛屿都离得很远,他们又不可能造出很好的船来,如果要想冒险乘小船出发航海,那就太危险了。

“可是,”正如水手所说的,“鲁宾逊象奇迹似的得到了一切,而我们却占了鲁宾逊的上风。”

事实上,他们的精力非常旺盛,在一个懒汉必然死亡的地方,他们是可以成功的。

赫伯特在这一段工作里表现得非常突出。他既聪明又活泼,学得快,干得好,赛勒斯·史密斯越发喜欢这个少年了。赫伯特对工程师也怀着一种热情而尊敬的爱。潘克洛夫看到他们彼此亲近,丝毫没有嫉妒的意思。纳布还是和往常一样:一贯表现着勇敢、热心、忠诚、无私的美好品德。他和潘克洛夫同样崇拜他的主人,可是表现得不那么热烈。每当潘克洛夫兴高采烈的时候,纳布总是带着一种表情,好象在说,“这有什么稀奇。”然而潘克洛夫和他却是好朋友,他们很快就用“你”来互相称呼了。

吉丁·史佩莱在共同的事业中也分担了辛劳,而且干得非常熟练,并不比伙伴们差,这一点水手总是非常诧异。这个“新闻记者”不仅会分析问题,做起后来竟也这么能干。

软梯终于在5月28日装妥了。在八十英尺的垂直高度上,至少有一百档梯阶。也是运气,离地面四十英尺的光景,峭壁上有一个凸出的地方,史密斯就利用这里把软梯分成两截。他们用鹤嘴锄仔细把凸出部分凿开,形成一座平台,然后把第一段梯子从这里系下去,这样摇晃的程度就减少了一半,而且还可以用一根绳子把软梯吊到“花岗石宫”上去。第二段梯子的下端固定在平台上,上端系在“花岗石宫”的门口。总之,现在上去要容易得多了。此外赛勒斯·史密斯还打算将来装置一种水力机械,那时候,就可以完全不用“花岗石宫”里的居民浪费时间和气力了。

居民们很快就习惯用软梯上下了。他们的胳膊和大腿固然都很灵便,但这和潘克洛夫的指导是分不开的,因为他是个水手,是爬惯了桅杆和帆索的。托普更是非教不可。照理说这只可怜的四条腿的狗,实在不适于受这种训练。可是经过潘克洛夫热心的教导,托普最后居然也能勉强攀登,而且不久它的爬梯技能大可以和马戏团里的同类相媲美了。不用说,水手有这样一个学徒,是感到十分骄傲的。然而,潘克洛夫有时候还是背着它攀登,托普自然也不拒绝。

必须说明,当上述工作正进行得热火朝天的时候——因为寒冷的季节快到了——大家也没有忘记吃的问题。通讯记者和赫伯特被公推为小队里的食品采办员,他们每天都要抽出几个钟头去打猎,到目前为止,他们活动的范围只是在啄木鸟林以及河的左岸一带,由于缺少桥梁和船只,他们还不能过慈悲河。被命名为“远西”的大片密林也没有探索过。这项重要的探险工作打算留到开春以后天气转暖的时候再进行,然而啄木鸟林就是一个鸟兽群聚的地方,这里有的是袋鼠和野猪,猎人们的标枪和弓箭神出鬼没,经常打到很多。此外赫伯特还在湖的西南发现了一片天然的养兔场,这是一片稍微有些潮湿的草地,到处都有杨柳枝条摇曳,各种各样的香草散发着阵阵清香,其中有麝香草、“罗勒”、香薄荷以及各种唇形科的芳香植物,这些都是兔子所特别喜欢吃的。

通讯记者认为这片草地既然是天造地设的养兔场,如果没有兔子,那未免有些奇怪,于是这两个猎人就仔细地搜索起来。这里生长着许多珍贵的植物,对自然学家来说,在这里研究植物界的品种倒是一个极好的机会。赫伯特搜集了几把“罗勒”、迷迭香、薄荷、郭公草等等的嫩芽,它们各有各的医药用途,有的可以治肺病,有的可以作为收敛剂,有的可以作为退热剂,还有的可以防止痉挛或风湿症。潘克洛夫问这些草弄来有什么用。

“下药,”少年答道,“留到生病的时候吃。”

“岛上又没有医生,我们为什么要生病呢?”潘克洛夫一本正经地问道。

少年没有回答这个问题,还是继续搜集,“花岗石宫”里的人对这件事都表示非常欢迎。除了这些药草以外,少年又带回一种北美洲的“薄荷茶”,可以用它泡成非常可口的饮料。

经过彻底的搜查以后,猎人们终于找到真正的养兔场了。这里满地都是窟窿,象筛子似的。

“到了兔子的老家了!”赫伯特喊道。

“不错,”通讯记者说,“我看也是的。”

“可是它们在家吗?”

“那很难说。”

这个问题马上就得到解答了,话还没有说完,就有成千类似兔子的小动物向四面八方逃去,它们跑得极快,连托普也追不上。猎人和狗白赶了一阵,这些啮齿动物都轻易地逃走了。可是通讯记者不死心,决定至少要逮住半打再走。他打算先抓来充实他们的食品室,以后有工夫再捉来驯养。要想捉住它们并不困难,只要在洞口布置几个圈套就行了。可是,眼前没有圈套,又没有东西可以制造。他们只好到每个洞里去搜寻,把棍子伸进去搅一阵,别的方法既然无效,他们就只好耐心等待了。

半个钟头以后,他们终于在洞里捉住四只兔子。这种啮齿动物和欧洲种差不多,一般称为美洲兔。

他们把捉住的兔子带回“花岗石宫”,晚餐的时候,就作为主菜端出来了。谁都没有瞧不起养兔场的住客——美洲兔,因为它滋味很美。这是小队的一个有价值的资源,而且看起来好象永远也吃不完。

5月31日,隔间的工程完毕了。房间里只差添设一些家具,这项工作打算在漫长的冬季进行。他们把第一间房作为厨房,里面砌了一个烟囱。业余制砖工人们感到把烟通到外面去的烟囱很难做。史密斯认为要想凿一个出口通到上面的高地去是不可能的,最简单的方法是用砖头砌烟囱;于是就在厨房的窗子上面开了一个小洞,烟囱象铁炉的炉管一样,从洞里通出去。如果有风迎面吹来,烟囱也许会倒烟的,然而迎面吹来的风究竟很少,并且炊事员纳布在这一点上倒也不怎么挑剔。

内部装修完毕以后,工程师就去堵塞湖水原来的出口,这样任何人也不能从这条路进来。他们把大块的岩石滚到入口处去,牢牢地砌在一起。赛勒斯·史密斯并没有按照原来的计划筑堤坝,使湖水恢复原有的高度来淹没洞口。他只是在石缝间种了一些野草和灌木,到了明年春天,这些草木就会长得非常茂密,堵塞的地方就可以一点看不出来了。另外,他还想利用瀑布把淡水引到新居里来。在地面上凿了一道小沟,这个工程就完成了:引来的湖水非常清澈,而且永远也流不完,每天的输水量在二十五加仑到三十加仑之间。“花岗石宫”里再也不会没有水用了。现在,一切都已安排就绪,这些工作完成得非常及时,因为寒冷的季节转眼就要到了。迎面的窗口安有厚厚的百叶窗,关闭时很严紧,只等工程师将来有时间再做玻璃。

吉丁·史佩莱把各种各样的植物,还有许多很长的浮草装饰在窗子周围凸出的岩石上,布置得非常艺术化,窗口好象镶在美丽的绿色框架里一样,看起来清凉悦目。

住在这幢坚固、舒适而且安全的住宅里的人,不禁对自己的成就自我陶醉起来。从窗口望出去是辽阔的天边,北边的尽头是颚骨角的两个部分,南边是爪角。站在窗前可以看得见整个联合湾。的确,我们这些勇敢的居民感到满足不是没有理由的,潘克洛夫对他们的住宅更是赞不绝口,他幽默地把住宅称做“五层楼上的公寓”!



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