In Search of the Castaways
Jules Verne
Novels
18:28 h
Level 6
In Search of the Castaways (French: Les Enfants du capitaine Grant, lit. 'The Children of Captain Grant') is a novel by the French writer Jules Verne, published in 1867–68. The book tells the story of the quest for Captain Grant of the Britannia. After finding a bottle the captain had cast into the ocean after the Britannia is shipwrecked, Lord and Lady Glenarvan of Scotland contact Mary and Robert, the young daughter and son of Captain Grant, through an announcement in a newspaper. The government refuses to launch a rescue expedition, but Lord and Lady Glenarvan, moved by the children's condition, decide to do it by themselves. The main difficulty is that the coordinates of the wreckage are mostly erased, and only the latitude (37 degrees) is known; thus, the expedition would have to circumnavigate the 37th parallel south. The bottle was retrieved from a shark's stomach, so it is impossible to trace its origin by the currents.

In Search of the Castaways

or, The Children of Captain Grant

by
Jules Verne


Introduction

The three books gathered under the title “In Search of the Castaways” occupied much of Verne’s attention during the three years following 1865. The characters used in these books were afterwards reintroduced in “The Mysterious Island,” which was in its turn a sequel to “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” Thus this entire set of books form a united series upon which Verne worked intermittently during ten years.

“In Search of the Castaways,” which has also been published as “The Children of Captain Grant” and as “A Voyage Around the World,” is perhaps most interesting in connection with the last of these titles. It is our author’s first distinctly geographical romance. By an ingenious device he sets before the rescuers a search which compels their circumnavigation of the globe around a certain parallel of the southern hemisphere. Thus they cross in turn through South America, Australia and New Zealand, besides visiting minor islands.

The three great regions form the sub-titles of the three books which compose the story. In each region the rescuers meet with adventures characteristic of the land. They encounter Indians in America; bushrangers in Australia; and Maoris in New Zealand. The passage of the searching party gives ground, — one is almost tempted to say, excuse, — for a close and careful description of each country and of its inhabitants, step by step. Even the lesser incidents of the story are employed to emphasise the distinctive features of each land. The explorers are almost frozen on the heights of the Andes, and almost drowned in the floods of the Patagonian Pampas. An avalanche sweeps some of them away; a condor carries off a lad. In Australia they are stopped by jungles and by quagmires; they hunt kangaroos. In New Zealand they take refuge amid hot sulphur springs and in a house “tabooed”; they escape by starting a volcano into eruption.

Here then are fancy and extravagance mixed with truth and information. Verne has done a vast and useful work in stimulating the interest not only of Frenchmen but of all civilised nations, with regard to the lesser known regions of our globe. He has broadened knowledge and guided study. During the years following 1865 he even, for a time, deserted his favorite field of labor, fiction, and devoted himself to a popular semi-scientific book, now superseded by later works, entitled “The Illustrated Geography of France and her Colonies.”

Verne has perhaps had a larger share than any other single individual in causing the ever-increasing yearly tide of international travel. And because with mutual knowledge among the nations comes mutual understanding and appreciation, mutual brotherhood; hence Jules Verne was one of the first and greatest of those teachers who are now leading us toward International Peace.


South America

Chapter I
The Shark

On the 26th of July, 1864, a magnificent yacht was steaming along the North Channel at full speed, with a strong breeze blowing from the N. E. The Union Jack was flying at the mizzen-mast, and a blue standard bearing the initials E. G., embroidered in gold, and surmounted by a ducal coronet, floated from the topgallant head of the main-mast. The name of the yacht was the Duncan, and the owner was Lord Glenarvan, one of the sixteen Scotch peers who sit in the Upper House, and the most distinguished member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, so famous throughout the United Kingdom.

Lord Edward Glenarvan was on board with his young wife, Lady Helena, and one of his cousins, Major McNabbs.

The Duncan was newly built, and had been making a trial trip a few miles outside the Firth of Clyde. She was returning to Glasgow, and the Isle of Arran already loomed in the distance, when the sailor on watch caught sight of an enormous fish sporting in the wake of the ship. Lord Edward, who was immediately apprised of the fact, came up on the poop a few minutes after with his cousin, and asked John Mangles, the captain, what sort of an animal he thought it was.

“Well, since your Lordship asks my opinion,” said Mangles, “I think it is a shark, and a fine large one too.”

“A shark on these shores!”