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“Well, Pencroft,” asked Cyrus Harding, “can you not anchor off the 长沙桑拿洗浴 Cape?”

“Anchor near land, with bad weather coming on!” exclaimed the sailor. “What are you thinking of, captain? We should

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run aground to a certainty!”

“What will you do then?”

“I shall try to keep in the offing until the flood, that is to say, till about seven in the evening, and if there is still light enough I will try to enter the gulf; if not, we must stand off and on during the night, and we will enter to-morrow at sunrise.”

“As I told you, Pencroft, we will leave it to you,” answered Harding.[Pg 224]

“Ah!” said Pencroft, “if there was only a light-house on the coast, it would be much more convenient for sailors.”

“Yes,” replied Herbert, “and this time we shall have no obliging engineer to light a fire to guide us into port!”

“Why, indeed, my dear Cyrus,” said Spilett, “we have never thanked you for it, but 长沙桑拿会所 frankly, without that fire we should never have been able to reach—”

“A fire?” asked Harding, much astonished at the reporter’s words.

“We mean, captain,” answered Pencroft, “that on board the Bonadventure we were very anxious during the few hours before our return, and we should have passed to windward of the island, if it had not been for the precaution you took of lighting a fire in the night of the 19th of October, on Prospect Heights.”

“Yes, yes! That was a lucky idea of mine!” replied the engineer.

“And this time,” continued the sailor, “unless the idea occurs to Ayrton, there will be no one to do us that little service!”

“No! no one!” answered Cyrus Harding.

A few minutes after, finding himself alone in the bows of the vessel with the reporter, the engineer bent down and whispered,—

“If there is one thing certain in 长沙桑拿休闲娱乐会所 this world, Spilett, it is that I never lighted any fire during the night of the 19th of October, neither on Prospect Heights nor on any other part of the island!”
CHAPTER XX
A Night at Sea—Shark Gulf—Confidences—Preparations for Winter—Forwardness of the bad Season—Severe Cold—Work in the Interior—In six Months—A photographic Negative—Unexpected Incident.

Things happened as Pencroft had predicted, he being seldom mistaken in his prognostications. The wind rose, and from a fresh breeze it soon increased to a regular gale; that is to say, it acquired a speed of from forty to forty-five miles an hour, before which a ship in the open sea would have run under close-reefed topsails. Now, as it was nearly six o’clock when the Bonadventure reached the gulf, and as at that moment the tide turned, it was impossible to enter. They were therefore compelled to stand off, for even if he had wished to do so, Pencroft could not have gained the mouth of the Mercy. Hoisting the jib to the mainmast by way of a storm-sail, he hove to, putting the head of the vessel towards the land.

Fortunately, although the wind was strong, the sea, being sheltered by the land, did not run very high. They had then little to fear from the waves, which always endanger small craft. The Bonadventure would doubtlessly not have capsized, for she was well ballasted; but enormous masses of water falling on the deck, might injure her, if her timbers could not sustain them. Pencroft, as a good sailor, was prepared for anything. Certainly, he had great confidence in his vessel, but nevertheless he awaited the return of day with some anxiety.

During the night, Cyrus Harding and Gideon Spilett had no opportunity for talking together, and yet the words pronounced in the reporter’s ear by the engineer were well worth being discussed, together with the mysterious influence which appeared to reign over Lincoln Island. Gideon Spilett did not cease from pondering over this new and inexplicable incident,—the appearance of a fire on the coast of the island.[Pg 227] The fire had actually been seen! His companions, Herbert and Pencroft, had seen it with him! The fire had served to signalise the position of the island during that dark night, and they had not doubted that it was lighted by the engineer’s hand; and here was Cyrus Harding expressly declaring that he had never done anything of the sort! Spilett resolved to recur to this incident as soon as the Bonadventure returned, and to urge Cyrus Harding to acquaint their companions with these strange facts. Perhaps it would be decided to make in common a complete investigation of every part of Lincoln Island.