At last, on the 21st, the usual observation gave 82° 50’ of latitude, and 42° 20’ of west longitude. Bennet Islet, if it had any existence, could not be far off now.
Yes! the islet did exist, and its bearings were those indicated by Arthur Pym.
At six o’clock in the evening one of the crew cried out that there was land ahead on the port side.
(1) The legendary etymology of this piscatorial designation is Janitore, the” door-keeper,” in allusion to St. Peter, who brought a fish said to be of that species, to our Lord at His command.
The Halbrane was then within sight of Bennet Islet! The crew urgently needed rest, so the disembarkation was deferred until the following day, and I went back to my cabin. The night passed without disturbance, and when day came not a craft of any kind was visible on the waters, not a native on the beach. There were no huts upon the coast, no smoke arose in the distance to indicate that Bennet Islet was inhabited. But William Guy had not found any trace of human beings there, and what I saw of the islet answered to the description given by Arthur Pym. It rose upon a rocky base of about a league in circumference, and was so arid that no vegetation existed on its surface. “Mr. Jeorling,” said Captain Len Guy, “do you observe a promontory in the direction of the north-east?”
“I observe it, captain.”
“Is it not formed of heaped-up rocks which look like giant bales of cotton?”
“That is so, and just what the narrative describes.”
“Then all we have to do is to land on the promontory, Mr. leoding. Who knows but we may come across some vestige of the crew of the fane, supposing them to have succeeded in escaping from Tsalal Island.”
The speaker was devouring the islet with his eyes. What must his thoughts, his desires, his impatience have been! But there was a man whose gaze was set upon the same point even more fixedly; that man was Hunt.
Before we left the Halbrane Len Guy enjoined the most minute and careful watchfulness upon his lieutenant. This was a charge which West did not need. Our exploration would take only half a day at most. If the boat had not returned in the afternoon a second was to be sent in search of us.
“Look sharp also after our recruits,” added the captain.
“Don’t be uneasy, captain,” replied the lieutenant. “Indeed, since you want four men at the oars you had better take them from among the new ones. That will leave four less troublesome fellows on board.”
This was a good idea, for, under the deplorable influence of Hearne, the discontent of his shipmates from the Falklands was on the increase. The boat being ready, four of the new crew took their places forward, while Hunt, at his own request, was steersman. Captain Len Guy, the boatswain and myself, all well armed, seated ourselves aft, and we started for the northern point of the islet. In the course ot an hour we had doubled the promontory, and come in sight of the little bay whose shores the boats of the fane had touched.
Hunt steered for this bay, gliding with remarkable skill between the rocky points which stuck up here and there. One would have thought he knew his way among them.
We disembarked on a stony coast. The stones were covered with sparse lichen. The tide was already ebbing, leaving uncovered the sandy bottom of a sort of beach strewn with black blocks, resembling big nail-heads.
Two men were left in charge of the boat while we landed amid the rocks, and, accompanied by the other two, Captain Len Guy, the boatswain, Hunt and I proceeded towards the centre, where we found some rising ground, from whence we could see the whole extent of the islet. But there was nothing to be seen on any side, absolutely nothing. On coming down from the slight eminence Hunt went on in front, as it had been agreed that he was to be our guide. We followed him therefore, as he led us towards the southern extremity of the islet. Having reached the point, Hunt looked carefullyon all sides of him, then stooped and showed us a piece of half rotten wood lying among the scattered stones.