In the morning of the 27th of July, about seven o'clock, land was sighted to the north. It was soon seen to be an island. But which island was it of the thousands that dot the Pacific? However, Robur decided to stop at it without landing. He thought, that he could repair damages during the day and start in the evening.
The wind had died away completely and this was a favorable circumstance for the maneuver he desired to execute. At least, if she did not remain stationary the "Albatross" would be carried he knew not where.
A cable one hundred and fifty feet long with an anchor at the end was dropped overboard. When the aeronef reached the shore of the island the anchor dragged up the first few rocks and then got firmly fixed between two large blocks. The cable then stretched to full length under the influence of the suspensory screws, and the "Albatross" remained motionless, riding like a ship in a roadstead.
It was the first time she had been fastened to the earth since she left Philadelphia.
ANCHORED AT LAST
When the "Albatross" was high in the air the island could be seen to be of moderate size. But on what parallel was it situated? What meridian ran through it? Was it an island in the Pacific, in Australasia, or in the Indian Ocean? When the sun appeared, and Robur had taken his observations, they would know; but although they could not trust to the indications of the compass there was reason to think they were in the Pacific.
At this height--one hundred and, fifty feet--the island which measured about fifteen miles round, was like a three-pointed star in the sea.
Off the southwest point was an islet and a range of rocks. On the shore there were no tide-marks, and this tended to confirm Robur in his opinion as to his position for the ebb and flow are almost imperceptible in the Pacific.
At the northwest point there was a conical mountain about two hundred feet high.
No natives were to be seen, but they might be on the opposite coast. In any case, if they had perceived the aeronef, terror had made them either hide themselves or run away. The "Albatross" had anchored on the southwest point of the island. Not far off, down a little creek, a small river flowed in among the rocks. Beyond were several winding valleys; trees of different kinds; and birds--partridges and bustards--in great numbers. If the island was not inhabited it was habitable. Robur might surely have landed on it; if he had not done so it was probably because the ground was uneven and did not offer a convenient spot to beach the aeronef.
While he was waiting for the sun the engineer began the repairs he reckoned on completing before the day was over. The suspensory screws were undamaged and had worked admirably amid all the violence of the storm, which, as we have said, had considerably lightened their work. At this moment half of them were in action, enough to keep the "Albatross" fixed to the shore by the taut cable. But the two propellers had suffered, and more than Robur had thought. Their blades would have to be adjusted and the gearing seen to by which they received their rotatory movement.
It was the screw at the bow which was first attacked under Robur's superintendence. It was the best to commence with, in case the "Albatross" had to leave before the work was finished. With only this propeller be could easily keep a proper course.
Meanwhile Uncle Prudent and his colleague, after walking about the deck, had sat down aft. Frycollin was strangely reassured. What a difference! To be suspended only one hundred and fifty feet from the ground!
The work was only interrupted for a moment while the elevation of the sun above the horizon allowed Robur to take an horary angle, so that at the time of its culmination he could calculate his position.
The result of the observation, taken with the greatest exactitude, was as follows:
Longitude, 176° 10' west. Latitude, 44° 25' south.
This point on the map answered to the position of the Chatham Islands, and particularly of Pitt Island, one of the group.