Jeorling. Was it not he who led my unfortunate brother into that fatal enterprise?”
“There is, indeed, reason to believe so from his narrative.”
“And never to forget it! added the captain in a tone of agitation.
“This man, Glass,” I resumed, “also knew Patterson, the mate of the Jane.”
“He was a fine, brave, faithful fellow, Mr. Jeorling, and devoted, body and soul, to my brother.”
“As West is to you, captain.”
“Does Glass know where the shipwrecked men from the Jane are now?”
“I told him, captain, and also all that you have resolved to do to save them.”
I did not think proper to add that Glass had been much surprised at Captain Guy’s abstaining from visiting him, as, in his absurd vanity, he held the commander of the Halbrane bound to do, nor that he did not consider the Governor of Tristan d’Acunha bound to take the initiative.
“I wish to ask you, Mr. Jeorling, whether you think everything in Arthur Pym’s journal, which has been published by Edgar Poe, is exactly true?”
“I think there is some need for doubt,” I answered “the singular character of the hero of those adventures being taken into consideration—at least concerning the phenomena of the island of Tsalal. And we know that Arthur Pym was mistaken in asserting that Captain William Guy and several of his companions perished in the landslip of the hill at Klock-Klock.”
“Ah! but he does not assert this, Mr. Jeorling! He says only that, when he and Dirk Peters had reached the opening through which they could discern the surrounding country, the seat of the artificial earthquake was revealed to them. Now, as the whole face of the hill was rushing into the ravine, the fate of my brother and twenty-nine of his men could not be doubtful to his mind. He was, most naturally, led to believe that Dirk Peters and himself were the only white men remaining alive on the island. He said nothing but this—nothing more. These were only suppositions—very reasonable, are they not ?”
“I admit that, fully, captain.”
“But now, thanks to Patterson’s note-book, we are certain that my brother and five of his companions escaped from the landslip contrived by the natives.”
“That is quite clear, captain. But, as to what became of the survivors of the Jane, whether they were taken by the natives of Tsalal and kept in captivity, or remained free, Patterson’s note-book says nothing, nor does it relate under what circumstances he himself was carried far away from them.”
“All that we shall learn, Mr. Jeorling. Yes, we shall know all. The main point is that we are quite sure my brother and five of his sailors were living less than four months ago on some part of Tsalal Island. There is now no question of a romance signed ‘Edgar Poe,’ but of a veracious narrative signed ‘Patterson.’“
“Captain,” said I, “will you let me be one of your company until the end of the campaign of the Halbrane in the Antarctic seas?”
Captain Len Guy looked at me with a glance as penetrating as a keen blade. Otherwise hedid not appear surprised by the proposal I had made; perhaps he had been expecting it—and he uttered only the single word:
FITTING OUT THE HALBRANE
On the 15th of October, our schooner cast anchor in Port Egmont, on the north of West Falkland. The group is composed of two islands, one the above-named, the other Soledad or East Falkland. Captain Len Guy gave twelve hours’ leave to the whole crew. The next day the proceedings were to begin by a careful and minute inspection of the vessel’s hull and keel, in view of the contemplated prolonged navigation of the Antarctic seas. That day Captain Len Guy went ashore, to confer with the Governor of the group on the subject of the immediate re-victualling of the schooner. He did not intend to make expense a consideration, because the whole adventure might be wrecked by an unwise economy. Besides I was ready to aid with my purse, as I told him, and I intended that we should be partners in tile cost of this expedition.
James West remained on board all day, according to his custom in the absence of the captain, and was engaged until evening in the inspection of the hold.