Too Long; Didn't ReadFormentera was at once recognized by Servadac and the count as the name of one of the smallest of the Balearic Islands. It was more than probable that the unknown writer had thence sent out the mysterious documents, and from the message just come to hand by the carrier-pigeon, it appeared all but certain that at the beginning of April, a fortnight back, he had still been there. In one important particular the present communication differed from those that had preceded it: it was written entirely in French, and exhibited none of the ecstatic exclamations in other languages that had been remarkable in the two former papers. The concluding line, with its intimation of failing provisions, amounted almost to an appeal for help. Captain Servadac briefly drew attention to these points, and concluded by saying, “My friends, we must, without delay, hasten to the assistance of this unfortunate man.”
“For my part,” said the count, “I am quite ready to accompany you; it is not unlikely that he is not alone in his distress.”
Lieutenant Procope expressed much surprise. “We must have passed close to Formentera,” he said, “when we explored the site of the Balearic Isles; this fragment must be very small; it must be smaller than the remaining splinter of Gibraltar or Ceuta; otherwise, surely it would never have escaped our observation.”
“However small it may be,” replied Servadac, “we must find it. How far off do you suppose it is?”
“It must be a hundred and twenty leagues away,” said the lieutenant, thoughtfully; “and I do not quite understand how you would propose to get there.”
“Why, on skates of course; no difficulty in that, I should imagine,” answered Servadac, and he appealed to the count for confirmation of his opinion.
The count assented, but Procope looked doubtful.
“Your enterprise is generous,” he said, “and I should be most unwilling to throw any unnecessary obstacle in the way of its execution; but, pardon me, if I submit to you a few considerations which to my mind are very important. First of all, the thermometer is already down to 22 degrees below zero, and the keen wind from the south is making the temperature absolutely unendurable; in the second place, supposing you travel at the rate of twenty leagues a day, you would be exposed for at least six consecutive days; and thirdly, your expedition will be of small avail unless you convey provisions not only for yourselves, but for those whom you hope to relieve.”