"I am not, I assure you."
"That is all right, Mr. Jeorling; and now that I know you, that I am able to appreciate you, I congratulate myself upon having you for a passenger until our arrival at the Falklands."
"I am very grateful, captain, for what you have done for me, and I feel encouraged to--"
The moment seemed propitious to my making my proposal, when Captain Len Guy interrupted me.
[P. 86] "Well, Mr. Jeorling," he asked, "are you now convinced of the reality of the voyage of the Jane, or do you still regard Edgar Poe's book as a work of pure imagination?"
"I do not so regard it, captain."
"You no longer doubt that Arthur Pym and Dirk Peters have really existed, or that my brother William Guy and five of his companions are living ?"
"I should be the most incredulous of men, captain, to doubt either fact, and my earnest desire is that the favour of Heaven may attend you and secure the safety of the shipwrecked mariners of the Jane."
"I will do all in my power, Mr. Jeorling, and by the blessing of God I shall succeed."
"I hope so, captain. Indeed, I am certain it will be so, and if you consent--"
"Is it not the case that you talked of this matter with one Glass, an English ex-corporal, who sets up to be Governor of Tristan d'Acunha?" inquired the captain, without allowing me to finish my sentence.
"That is so," I replied, "and what I learned from Glass has contributed not a little to change my doubts into certainty."
"Ah I he has satisfied you ?"
"Yes. He perfectly remembers to have seen the Jane, eleven years ago, when she had put in at Tristan d'Acunha."
"The Jane--and my brother?"
"He told me that he had personal dealings with Captain William Guy."
"And he traded with the Jane?"
"Yes, as he has just been trading with the Halbrane."
"She was moored in this bay ?"
[P. 87] "In the same place as your schooner."
"And--Arthur Pym--Dirk Peters?"
"He was with them frequently."
"Did he ask what had become of them?"
"Oh yes, and I informed him of the death of Arthur Pym, whom he regarded as a foolhardy adventurer, capable of any daring folly."
"Say a madman, and a dangerous madman, Mr. Jeorling. Was it not he who led my unfortunate brother into that fatal enterprise?"
"There is, indeed, reason to believe so from his narrative."
"And never to forget it! added the captain in a tone of agitation.
"This man, Glass," I resumed, "also knew Patterson, the mate of the Jane."
"He was a fine, brave, faithful fellow, Mr. Jeorling, and devoted, body and soul, to my brother."
"As West is to you, captain."
"Does Glass know where the shipwrecked men from the Jane are now?"
"I told him, captain, and also all that you have resolved to do to save them."
I did not think proper to add that Glass had been much surprised at Captain Guy's abstaining from visiting him, as, in his absurd vanity, he held the commander of the Halbrane bound to do, nor that he did not consider the Governor of Tristan d'Acunha bound to take the initiative.
"I wish to ask you, Mr. jeorling, whether you think everything in Arthur Pym's journal, which has been published by Edgar Poe, is exactly true?"
[P. 88] "I think there is some need for doubt," I answered "the singular
character of the hero of those adventures being taken into consideration--at
least concerning the phenomena of the island of Tsalal. And we know that
Arthur Pym was mistaken in asserting that Captain William Guy and several
of his companions perished in the landslip of the hill at Klock-Klock."
"Ah! but he does not assert this, Mr. Jeorling! He says only that, when he and Dirk Peters had reached the opening through which they could discern the surrounding country, the seat of the artificial earthquake was revealed to them. Now, as the whole face of the hill was rushing into the ravine, the fate of my brother and twenty-nine of his men could not be doubtful to his mind. He was, most naturally, led to believe that Dirk Peters and himself were the only white men remaining alive on the island. He said nothing but this--nothing more. These were only suppositions--very reasonable, are they not ?"
"I admit that, fully, captain."
"But now, thanks to Patterson's note-book, we are certain that my brother and five of his companions escaped from the landslip contrived by the natives."
"That is quite clear, captain. But, as to what became of the survivors of the Jane, whether they were taken by the natives of Tsalal and kept in captivity, or remained free, Patterson's note-book says nothing, nor does it relate under what circumstances he himself was carried far away from them."
"All that we shall learn, Mr. Jeorling. Yes, we shall know all. The main point is that we are quite sure my brother and five of his sailors were living less than four months ago on some part of Tsalal Island. There is [p. 89] now no question of a romance signed 'Edgar Poe,' but of a veracious narrative signed 'Patterson.'"
"Captain," said I, "will you let me be one of your company until the end of the campaign of the tfalbrant in the Antarctic seas?"
Captain Len Guy looked at me with a glance as penetrating as a keen blade. Otherwise hedid not appear surprised by the proposal I had made; perhaps he had been expecting it--and he uttered only the single word: