Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
On March 24, 1865, a balloon carrying five persons escaping from Richmond, capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, falls into the sea. Caught in a storm, the balloon had flown some seven thousand miles in five days. The five passengers are Captain Cyrus Harding, an engineer in General Grant’s army; his black servant, Nebuchadnezzar, known as Neb; Gideon Spilett, a reporter; Jack Pencroft, a sailor; and Herbert Brown, the fifteen-year-old orphan son of one of Pencroft’s former sea captains.
The balloon falls near an uncharted island, and Harding, together with his dog, Top, is washed overboard. Once its load is lightened, the balloon then deposits the other travelers on the shore of the island. The next morning, Neb looks for his “master” while the others explore the island. The next day, Herbert, Pencroft, and Spilett take stock of their resources, which consist of the clothes they wear, a notebook, and a watch. They suddenly hear Top barking. The dog leads them to Captain Harding, who, having been unconscious, is at a loss to explain how he arrived at a place more than a mile away from the shore.
When Harding gets stronger, the group decides to consider themselves colonists rather than castaways, and they call their new home Lincoln Island. Harding finds on the island samples of iron, pyrite, clay, lime, coal, and other useful minerals. The colonists make bricks, which they use to construct an oven in which to make...
(The entire section is 1192 words.)
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