The disposition of the forests and plains had been marked in a general way on the reporter's plan. They had now only to descend the mountain slopes again, and explore the soil, in the triple point of view, of its mineral, vegetable, and animal resources.
But before giving his companions the signal for departure, Cyrus Harding said to them in a calm, grave voice,--
Here, my friends, is the small corner of land upon which the hand of the Almighty has thrown us. We are going to live here; a long time, perhaps. Perhaps, too, unexpected help will arrive, if some ship passes by chance. I say by chance, because this is an unimportant island; there is not even a port in which ships could anchor, and it is to be feared that it is situated out of the route usually followed, that is to say, too much to the south for the ships which frequent the archipelagoes of the Pacific, and too much to the north for those which go to Australia by doubling Cape Horn. I wish to hide nothing of our position from you--"
"And you are right, my dear Cyrus," replied the reporter, with animation. "You have to deal with men. They have confidence in you, and you can depend upon them. Is it not so, my friends?"
"I will obey you in everything, captain," said Herbert, seizing the engineer's hand.
"My master always, and everywhere!" cried Neb.
"As for me," said the sailor, "if I ever grumble at work, my name's not Jack Pencroft, and if you like, captain, we will make a little America of this island! We will build towns, we will establish railways, start telegraphs, and one fine day, when it is quite changed, quite put in order and quite civilized, we will go and offer it to the government of the Union. Only, I ask one thing."
"What is that?" said the reporter.
"It is, that we do not consider ourselves castaways, but colonists, who have come here to settle." Harding could not help smiling, and the sailor's idea was adopted. He then thanked his companions, and added, that he would rely on their energy and on the aid of Heaven.
"Well, now let us set off to the Chimneys!" cried Pencroft.
"One minute, my friends," said the engineer. "It seems to me it would be a good thing to give a name to this island, as well as to, the capes, promontories, and watercourses, which we can see.
"Very good," said the reporter. "In the future, that will simplify the instructions which we shall have to give and follow."
"Indeed," said the sailor, "already it is something to be able to say where one is going, and where one has come from. At least, it looks like somewhere."
"The Chimneys, for example," said Herbert.
"Exactly!" replied Pencroft. "That name was the most convenient, and it came to me quite of myself. Shall we keep the name of the Chimneys for our first encampment, captain?"
"Yes, Pencroft, since you have so christened it."
"Good! as for the others, that will be easy," returned the sailor, who was in high spirits. "Let us give them names, as the Robinsons did, whose story Herbert has often read to me; Providence Bay, Whale Point, Cape Disappointment!"
"Or, rather, the names of Captain Harding," said Herbert, "of Mr. Spilett, of Neb!--"
"My name!" cried Neb, showing his sparkling white teeth.
"Why not?" replied Pencroft. "Port Neb, that would do very well! And Cape Gideon--"
"I should prefer borrowing names from our country," said the reporter, "which would remind us of America."
"Yes, for the principal ones," then said Cyrus Harding; "for those of the bays and seas, I admit it willingly. We might give to that vast bay on the east the name of Union Bay, for example; to that large hollow on the south, Washington Bay; to the mountain upon which we are standing, that of Mount Franklin; to that lake which is extended under our eyes, that of Lake Grant; nothing could be better, my friends. These names will recall our country, and those of the great citizens who have honored it; but for the rivers, gulfs, capes, and promontories, which we perceive from the top of this mountain, rather let us choose names which will recall their particular shape.