This hammock, that Erik examined immediately, bore the stamp of the “Vega.” On a sort of table formed from the shoulder-blade of some animal and supported by four thigh bones, lay some crumbs of ship’s biscuit, a pewter goblet, and a wooden spoon of Swedish workmanship.
They could not doubt that they were in the dwelling-place of Patrick O’Donoghan, and according to all appearances he had only left it a short time ago. Had he quitted the island, or had he only gone to take a walk? The only thing they could do was to make a thorough exploration of the island.
Around the habitation excavations bore witness to the fact that a great amount of hard work had been done; on a sort of plateau that formed the summit of the hill, a great quantity of ivory had been piled up, and indicated the nature of the work. The voyagers perceived that all the skeletons of elephants and other animals had been despoiled of their ivory, and they arrived at the conclusion that the natives of the Siberian coast had been aware, long before the visit of Patrick O’Donoghan, of the treasure which was to be found upon the island, and had come and carried off large quantities of it. The Irishman, therefore, had not found the quantity of ivory upon the surface of the ground which he had expected, and had been compelled to make excavations and exhume it. The quality of this ivory, which had been buried probably for a long time, appeared to the travelers to be of a very inferior quality.
Now the young doctor of the “Vega” had told them, as had the proprietor of the Red Anchor, in Brooklyn, that laziness was one of the distinguishing characteristics of Patrick O’Donoghan. It therefore seemed to them very improbable that he would be resigned to follow such a laborious and unremunerative life. They therefore felt sure that he would embrace the first opportunity to leave the Island of Ljakow. The only hope that still remained of finding him there was that which the examination of his cabin had furnished them.
A path descended to the shore, opposite to that by which our explorers had climbed up. They followed it, and soon reached the bottom, where the melting snows had formed a sort of little lake, separated from the sea by a wall of rocks. The path followed the shores of this quiet water, and going around the cliff they found a natural harbor.
They saw a sleigh abandoned on the land, and also traces of a recent fire; Erik examined the shore carefully, but could find no traces of any recent embarkation. He was returning to his companions, when he perceived at the foot of a shrub a red object, which he picked up immediately. It was one of those tin boxes painted outside with carmine which had contained that preserved beef commonly called “endaubage,” and which all vessels carry among their provisions. It was not so great a prize, since the captain of the “Vega” had supplied Patrick O’Donoghan with food. But what struck Erik as significant, was the fact that there was printed on the empty box the name of Martinez Domingo, Valparaiso.