“I scarcely think,” said Jack, “that I should often feel thirsty under such circumstances.”
“The skin furnishes them with clothes, tents, and boats.”
“Of which our canoe and life-preservers are a fair sample,” said Fritz.
“The fat furnishes them with fire and candle, the muscles with thread and rope, the gut with windows and curtains, the bones with arrow heads and harness; in short, with everything they require.”
“True, Willis, in so far as regards their degree of civilization, which is not very great, when we consider that they bury their sick whilst alive, because they are afraid of corpses; that they believe the sun, moon, and stars to be dead Esquimaux, who have been translated from earth to heaven.”
Whilst chatting in this way, the party had imperceptibly arrived at Falcon’s Nest, wherein they had not set foot for a fortnight previously.
Fritz went up first, and before the others had ascended, came running down again as fast as his legs would carry him.
“Father,” he cried, in an accent of alarm, “there is a fresh litter of leaves up stairs, which has been recently slept upon, and I miss a knife that I left the last time we were here!”
THE SEARCH FOR THE UNKNOWN—THREE FLEETS ON DRY LAND—THE INDISCRETIONS OF A SUGAR CANE—LARBOARD AND STARBOARD—THE SUPPOSED SENSIBILITY OF PLANTS—THE FLY-TRAP—VENDETTA—ROOT AND GERM—MINE AND COUNTERMINE—THE POLYPI—OVIPAROUS AND VIVIPAROUS—A QUID PRO QUO.
“Have any of you been at Falcon’s Nest lately?” inquired Becker, when he had verified the truth of Fritz’s intelligence.
“None of us,” unanimously replied all the boys.
“You will understand that the question I put to you is, under the circumstances in which we are placed, one of the greatest moment. If, therefore, there is any unseemly joking, any trick, or secret project in contemplation, with which this affair is connected, do not conceal it any longer.”
All the boys again reiterated their innocence of the matter in question.
Becker then called to mind the mysterious disappearance of Willis, and, although they were too short in duration to admit of his having been at Falcon’s Nest, still he deemed it advisable to put the question to him individually.
Willis declared that the present was the first time he had been in the vicinity of the Nest, and his word was known to be sacred.
“There can be no mistake then,” said Becker; “the traces are self-evident. This is altogether a circumstance calculated to give us serious uneasiness. Nevertheless, we must view the matter calmly, and consider what steps we should take to unravel the mystery.”
“Let us instantly beat up the island,” suggested Fritz.
“It appears to me,” remarked Willis, “that the Nelson has been wrecked after all, and that one of the men has escaped.”