They will impress themselves better on our memory, and at the same time will be more practical. The shape of the island is so strange that we shall not be troubled to imagine what it resembles. As to the streams which we do not know as yet, in different parts of the forest which we shall explore later, the creeks which afterwards will he discovered, we can christen them as we find them. What do you think, my friends?"
The engineer's proposal was unanimously agreed to by his companions. The island was spread out under their eyes like a map, and they had only to give names to all its angles and points. Gideon Spilett would write them down, and the geographical nomenclature of the island would be definitely adopted. First, they named the two bays and the mountain, Union Bay, Washington Bay, and Mount Franklin, as the engineer had suggested.
"Now," said the reporter, "to this peninsula at the southwest of the island, I propose to give the name of Serpentine Peninsula, and that of Reptile-end to the bent tail which terminates it, for it is just like a reptile's tail."
"Adopted," said the engineer.
"Now," said Herbert, pointing to the other extremity of the island, "let us call this gulf which is so singularly like a pair of open jaws, Shark Gulf."
"Capital!" cried Pencroft, "and we can complete the resemblance by naming the two parts of the jaws Mandible Cape."
"But there are two capes," observed the reporter.
"Well," replied Pencroft, "we can have North Mandible Cape and South Mandible Cape."
"They are inscribed," said Spilett.
"There is only the point at the southeastern extremity of the island to be named," said Pencroft.
"That is, the extremity of Union Bay?" asked Herbert.
"Claw Cape," cried Neb directly, who also wished to be godfather to some part of his domain.
In truth, Neb had found an excellent name, for this cape was very like the powerful claw of the fantastic animal which this singularly-shaped island represented.
Pencroft was delighted at the turn things had taken, and their imaginations soon gave to the river which furnished the settlers with drinking water and near which the balloon had thrown them, the name of the Mercy, in true gratitude to Providence. To the islet upon which the castaways had first landed, the name of Safety Island; to the plateau which crowned the high granite precipice above the Chimneys, and from whence the gaze could embrace the whole of the vast bay, the name of Prospect Heights.
Lastly, all the masses of impenetrable wood which covered the Serpentine Peninsula were named the forests of the Far West.
The nomenclature of the visible and known parts of the island was thus finished, and later, they would complete it as they made fresh discoveries.
As to the points of the compass, the engineer had roughly fixed them by the height and position of the sun, which placed Union Bay and Prospect Heights to the east. But the next day, by taking the exact hour of the rising and setting of the sun, and by marking its position between this rising and setting, he reckoned to fix the north of the island exactly, for, in consequence of its situation in the Southern Hemisphere, the sun, at the precise moment of its culmination, passed in the north and not in the south, as, in its apparent movement, it seems to do, to those places situated in the Northern Hemisphere.
Everything was finished, and the settlers had only to descend Mount Franklin to return to the Chimneys, when Pencroft cried out,--
"Well! we are preciously stupid!"
"Why?" asked Gideon Spilett, who had closed his notebook and risen to depart.
"Why! our island! we have forgotten to christen it!"
Herbert was going to propose to give it the engineer's name and all his companions would have applauded him, when Cyrus Harding said simply,--
"Let us give it the name of a great citizen, my friend; of him who now struggles to defend the unity of the American Republic! Let us call it Lincoln Island!"
The engineer's proposal was replied to by three hurrahs.