The Mysterious Island
Dropped From the Clouds
THE METALLIC PERIOD
"Well, sir," he asked, "what shall we do to-day?"
"What the captain pleases," replied the reporter.
Till then the engineer's companions had been brickmakers and potters, now they were to become metallurgists.
The day before, after lunch, they had explored as far as the point of Mandible Cape, seven miles distant from the Chimneys. There, the long series of downs ended, and the soil had a volcanic appearance. There were no longer high cliffs as at Prospect Heights, but a strange and capricious border which surrounded the narrow gulf between the two capes, formed of mineral matter, thrown up by the volcano. Arrived at this point the settlers retraced their steps, and at nightfall entered the Chimneys; but they did not sleep before the question of knowing whether they could think of leaving Lincoln Island or not was definitely settled.
The twelve hundred miles which separated the island from the Austral Islands was a considerable distance. A boat could not cross it, especially at the approach of the bad season. Pencroft had expressly declared this. Now, to construct a simple boat, even with the necessary tools, was a difficult work, and the colonists not having tools they must begin by making hammers, axes, adzes, saws, augers, planes, etc., which would take some time. It was decided, therefore, that they would winter at Lincoln Island, and that they would seek for a more comfortable dwelling than the Chimneys, in which to pass the winter months.
Before anything else could be done it was necessary to make the iron ore, of which the engineer had observed