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“Because that, in the event of his being sure of being delivered at a certain time, he would have waited the hour of his

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deliverance and would not have thrown this document into the sea. No, it is more probable that he was condemned to die on that islet, and that he never expected to see his fellow-creatures again!”

“But,” observed the sailor, “there is one thing which I cannot explain.”

“What is it?”

“If this man had been left for twelve years on Tabor Island, one may well suppose that he had been several years already in the wild state in which we found him!”

“That is probable,” replied Cyrus Harding.

“It must then be many years since he wrote that document!”

“No doubt, and yet the document appears to have been recently 长沙桑拿推荐 written!”

“Besides, how do you know that the bottle which enclosed the document may not have taken several years to come from Tabor Island to Lincoln Island?”

“That is not absolutely impossible,” replied the reporter.

“Might it not have been a long time already on the coast of the island?”

“No,” answered Pencroft, “for it was still floating. We could not even suppose that after it had stayed for any length of time on the shore, it would have been swept off by[Pg 182] the sea, for the south coast is all rocks, and it would certainly have been smashed to pieces there!”

“That is true,” rejoined Cyrus Harding thoughtfully.

“And then,” continued the sailor, “if the document was several years old, if it had been shut up in that bottle for several years, it would have been injured by damp. Now, there is nothing of the kind, and it was found in a perfect state of preservation.”

The sailor’s reasoning was very just, and pointed out an incomprehensible fact, for the document appeared to have been recently written, when the colonists found it in the bottle. Moreover, it gave the latitude and longitude of Tabor Island correctly, which implied that its author had a more complete knowledge of hydrography than could be expected of a common sailor.

“There is in this, again, something unaccountable,” said the engineer; “but we will not urge our companion to speak. When he likes, my friends, then we shall be ready to hear him!”

During the following days the stranger did not speak a word, and did not once leave the precincts of the plateau. He worked away, without losing a moment, without taking a minute’s rest, but always in a retired place. At meal times he never came to Granite House, although invited several times to do so, but contented himself with eating a few raw vegetables. At nightfall he did not return to the room assigned to him, but remained under some clump of trees, or when the weather was bad crouched in some cleft of the rocks. Thus he lived in the same manner as when he had no other shelter than the forests of Tabor Island, and as all persuasion to induce him to improve his life was in vain, the colonists waited patiently. And the time was near, when, as it seemed, almost involuntarily urged by his conscience, a terrible confession escaped him.

On the 10th of November, about eight o’clock in the evening, as night was coming on, the stranger appeared unexpectedly before the settlers, who were assembled under the verandah. His eyes burned strangely, and he had quite resumed the wild 长沙桑拿会所爽记 aspect of his worst days.

Cyrus Harding and his companions were astounded on seeing that, overcome by some terrible emotion, his teeth[Pg 183] chattered like those of a person in a fever. What was the matter with him?

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Was the sight of his fellow-creatures insupportable to him? Was he weary of this return to a civilised mode of existence? Was he pining for his former savage life? It appeared so, as soon he was heard to express himself in these incoherent sentences:—

“Why am I here?… By what right have you dragged me from my islet?… Do you think there could be any tie between you and me?… Do you know who I am—what I have done—why I was there—alone? And who told you that I was not abandoned there—that I was not condemned to die there?… Do you know my past?… How do you know that I have not stolen, murdered—that I am 长沙桑拿哪里便宜 not a wretch—an accursed being—only fit to live like a wild beast far from all—speak—do you know it?”