“What is the good?” said Pencroft. “The island is quite comfortable where it is!”
“Well, who knows,” returned the reporter, “who knows but that we may be much nearer inhabited land than we think?”
“We shall know to-morrow,” replied Cyrus Harding, “and if it had not been for the occupations which left me no leisure, we should have known it already.”
“Good!” said Pencroft. “The captain is too good an observer to be mistaken, and, if it has not moved from its place, the island is just where he put it.”
“We shall see.”
On the next day, therefore, by means of the sextant, the engineer made the necessary observations to verify the position which he had already obtained, and this was the result of his operation. His first observation had given him the situation of Lincoln Island,—
In west longitude: from 1500 to 1550;
In south latitude: from 300 to 350
The second gave exactly:
In longitude: 1500 30’
In south latitude: 340 57’
So then, notwithstanding the imperfection of his apparatus, Cyrus Harding had operated with so much skill that his error did not exceed five degrees.
“Now,” said Gideon Spilett, “since we possess an atlas as well as a sextant, let us see, my dear Cyrus, the exact position which Lincoln Island occupies in the Pacific.”
Herbert fetched the atlas, and the map of the Pacific was opened, and the engineer, compass in hand, prepared to determine their position.
Suddenly the compasses stopped, and he exclaimed,
“But an island exists in this part of the Pacific already!”
“An island?” cried Pencroft.
“An important island?”
“No, an islet lost in the Pacific, and which perhaps has never been visited.”
“Well, we will visit it,” said Pencroft.
“Yes, captain. We will build a decked boat, and I will undertake to steer her. At what distance are we from this Tabor Island?”
“About a hundred and fifty miles to the northeast,” replied Harding.
“A hundred and fifty miles! And what’s that?” returned Pencroft. “In forty-eight hours, with a good wind, we should sight it!”
And, on this reply, it was decided that a vessel should be constructed in time to be launched towards the month of next October, on the return of the fine season.
When Pencroft had once got a plan in his head, he had no peace till it was executed. Now he wished to visit Tabor Island, and as a boat of a certain size was necessary for this voyage, he determined to build one.
What wood should he employ? Elm or fir, both of which abounded in the island? They decided for the fir, as being easy to work, but which stands water as well as the elm.
These details settled, it was agreed that since the fine season would not return before six months, Cyrus Harding and Pencroft should work alone at the boat. Gideon Spilett and Herbert were to continue to hunt, and neither Neb nor Master Jup, his assistant, were to leave the domestic duties which had devolved upon them.