Short summary - The Children of Captain Grant - Les Enfants du capitaine Grant - Jules Gabriel Verne

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Children of Captain Grant - Les Enfants du capitaine Grant
Jules Gabriel Verne

On June 26, 1864, the crew of the yacht "Duncan", owned by Lord Edward Glenarvan, the most prominent member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club and a wealthy Scottish landowner, catches a shark in the Irish Sea, in the stomach of which they find a bottle with a note in three languages: English, German and French ... The note briefly states that during the crash of the Britannia, three survived - Captain Grant and two sailors, that they fell on some land; both latitude and longitude are indicated, but it is impossible to make out what longitude it is - the figure is blurred. The note says that the rescued are at thirty-seventh degrees eleven minutes south latitude. The longitude is unknown. Therefore, it is necessary to search for Captain Grant and his companions somewhere on the thirty-seventh parallel. The English Admiralty refuses to equip a rescue expedition, but Lord Glenarvan and his wife decide to do their best to find Captain Grant. They meet Harry Grant's children - sixteen-year-old Mary and twelve-year-old Robert. The yacht is equipped for a long voyage, in which the Lord's wife, Helen Glenarvan, a very kind and courageous young woman, and the children of Captain Grant, wish to take part. The expedition also includes Major McNabbs, a man of about fifty, modest, silent and good-natured, a close relative of Glenarvan; 30-year-old captain of the "Duncan" John Mangles, cousin of Glenarvan, a man of courage, kind and energetic; Captain's mate Tom Austin, a trustworthy old seaman, and twenty-three crewmen, all Scots, like their master.
Duncan sets sail from Glasgow on 25 August. The next day, it turns out that there is another passenger on board. It turns out to be the secretary of the Paris Geographical Society, the Frenchman Jacques Paganel. Due to his usual absent-mindedness, the day before the departure of "Duncan", having mixed up the ships (because he wanted to sail to India on the steamer "Scotland"), he climbed into the cabin and slept there exactly thirty-six hours in order to better endure the pitching, and did not go out on deck until second day of travel. When Paganel learns that he is sailing to South America instead of India, at first he is seized with despair, but then, upon learning about the purpose of the expedition, he decides to change his plans and sail with everyone.
Having crossed the Atlantic Ocean and passing through the Strait of Magellan, "Duncan" finds herself in the Pacific Ocean and goes to the shores of Patagonia, where, according to some assumptions - at first this is how the note was interpreted - Captain Grant languishes in captivity with the Indians.
The Duncan's passengers - Lord Glenarvan, Major McNabbs, Paganel, Robert and three sailors - disembark on the west coast of Patagonia, while Helen Glenarvan and Mary, under the tutelage of John Mangles, remain on a sailboat that is supposed to circle the continent and await travelers on the east coast. at Cape Corrientes.
Glenarvan and his companions pass through all Patagonia, following the thirty-seventh parallel. On this journey, incredible adventures take place with them. Robert disappears during an earthquake in Chile. Several days of searching end in failure - the child cannot be found anywhere. When a small detachment, having lost all hope of finding him, is about to set off, the travelers suddenly see a condor, who carries Robert in his powerful paws and begins to soar up into the skies with him. McNabbs is about to shoot the bird when suddenly another well-aimed shot is ahead of him. The wounded bird, like a parachute, on its mighty wings, lowers Robert to the ground. It turns out that this shot was fired by a native named Talcave. He becomes their guide through the plains of Argentina, and in the future and a real friend.
In the pampas, travelers are threatened with death from thirst. Talcave, Glenarvan and Robert, whose horses are not yet very tired, go in search of water and are ahead of the rest. By the river at night they are attacked by a pack of red wolves. Three travelers face imminent death. Then Robert jumps on the swift-footed Tauka, Talcave's horse, and, at the risk of being torn to pieces by the wolves, carries the flock away from Glenarvan and Talcave. He manages to avoid death. He joins Paganel's group and in the morning meets again with the rescued Glenarvan and Talcave.
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Shortly thereafter, in the lowlands, the squad will have to survive a flood due to flooding of rivers. Travelers manage to climb a sprawling walnut tree, which the brown stream could not pull out of the ground. On it they make a halt, even make a fire. At night, a hurricane pulls out a tree, and people manage to swim out onto land on it.
It occurs to Paganel that Captain Grant's note was originally misinterpreted and that it is not about Patagonia, but about Australia. He very convincingly convinces the rest of the correctness of his conclusion, and the travelers decide to return to the ship to continue sailing to the shores of Australia. This is what they do.
They explore, but in vain, the two islands that lie along the way - Tristan da Cunha and Amsterdam. The Duncan then approaches Cape Bernoulli, located on the Australian coast. Glenarvan lands on land. A few miles offshore is the farm of an Irishman who welcomes travelers. Lord Glenarvan tells the Irishman about what brought him to this region and asks if he has any information about the British three-masted ship Britannia, which was wrecked about two years ago somewhere off the western coast of Australia.
Irishman has never heard of a sunken ship, but, to the great surprise of everyone present, one of his employees, by the name of Ayrton, intervenes in the conversation. He states that if Captain Grant is still alive, he is on Australian soil. His documents and story prove that he served as a boatswain on the Britannia. Ayrton says he lost sight of the captain when the ship crashed on the coastal reefs. Until now, he was convinced that he alone was the only survivor of the whole Britannia team. True, Ayrton assures that the ship crashed not off the western, but off the eastern coasts of Australia, and if Captain Grant is still alive, as evidenced by the note, he is in captivity by the natives somewhere on the east coast.
Ayrton speaks with compelling sincerity. It is difficult to doubt his words. In addition, the Irishman for whom he served is vouching for him. Lord Glenarvan trusts Ayrton and, on his advice, decides to cross Australia along the thirty-seventh parallel. Glenarvan, his wife, the children of Captain Grant, the major, the geographer, Captain Mangles and several sailors, having gathered in a small detachment, set off with Ayrton at the head. "Duncan", having received some damage in the hull, heads for Melbourne, where it is planned to carry out its repairs. The crew of the yacht, led by Captain Tom Austin, is to await Glenarvan's orders there.
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Women ride in a carriage drawn by six bulls, and men - on horseback. During the trip, travelers pass by gold mines, admire Australian flora and fauna. At first, the journey takes place in rather comfortable conditions, through the populated area. However, one of the horses breaks a horseshoe. Ayrton follows the blacksmith, and he sets up new horseshoes with a shamrock - the sign of the Black Point cattle-breeding camp. Soon, a small detachment is already on its way. Travelers witness the results of the crime committed on the Camden Bridge. All the cars, except for the last one, collapsed into the river due to the fact that the rails were not demolished. The last carriage was robbed, burnt and mutilated corpses were scattered everywhere. The police are inclined to believe that this crime was the work of a gang of fugitive convicts led by Ben Joyce.
Soon Ayrton leads the detachment into the forest. Travelers are forced to stop for an indefinite time, because in front of them there is a stormy overflowing river, which can be forded only when it returns to normal. Meanwhile, due to an incomprehensible disease, all the bulls and horses die, with the exception of the one that was shod with a shamrock. One evening Major McNabbs sees some people in the shade of the trees. Without saying a word to anyone, he sets out on reconnaissance. It turns out that these are convicts; he sneaks up on them and overhears their conversation, from which it becomes obvious that Ben Joyce and Ayrton are one person, and his gang during the entire journey of Glenarvan's squad across the mainland kept close to him, focusing on the horse trail from the Black Point horseshoe. Returning to his friends, the major for the time being does not tell them about his discovery. Ayrton persuades Lord Glenarvan to order "Duncan" from Melbourne to go to the east coast - there the bandits would easily take possession of the yacht. The traitor is almost handed an order addressed to the captain's mate, but then the major exposes him and Ayrton has to flee. Before fleeing, he stabs Glenarvan in the arm. After a while, the travelers decide to send another messenger to Melbourne. Instead of the wounded Glenarvan, the order is written by Paganel. One of the sailors sets off. However, Ben Joyce seriously wounds the sailor, takes the letter from him and goes to Melbourne himself. His gang crosses a nearby bridge and then burns it to prevent Glenarvan from using it. The detachment waits for the level of the river to drop, then builds a raft and is ferried on a raft across the calmed river. Having reached the coast, Glenarvan realizes that Ben Joyce's gang has already taken possession of "Duncan" and, having interrupted the team, set off on it in an unknown direction. Everyone comes to the conclusion that it is necessary to stop the search, because there is nothing to do it, and return to Europe. However, it turns out that the ship going to Europe may have to wait a very long time. Then travelers decide to sail to Auckland, which is in New Zealand: from there, flights to Europe are regular. On a fragile boat with an eternally drunk captain and sailors, having survived a storm during which the ship runs aground, Glenarvan and his friends still reach the shores of New Zealand.
There they are captured by the natives-cannibals, who are going to kill them. However, thanks to Robert's resourcefulness, they manage to escape from captivity. After a few days of the journey, they reach the east coast of New Zealand and see a pirogue near the coast, and a little further - a group of natives. The travelers sit down in a pirogue, but the natives in several boats chase them. Desperate travelers. After what they had to endure in captivity, they prefer to die, but not surrender. Suddenly, in the distance, Glenarvan sees "Duncan" with his own crew on board, which helps him to break away from his pursuers. Travelers wonder why the Duncan sits off the eastern shores of New Zealand. Tom Austin shows the order, written in the hand of an absent-minded Paganel, who, instead of writing "Australia," wrote "New Zealand." Due to the mistake of Paganel, Ayrton's plans collapsed. He took it into his head to rebel. They locked him up. Now Ayrton, against his will, is sailing on the "Duncan" along with those whom he wanted to deceive.
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Glenarvan tries to convince Ayrton to give true information about the death of "Britain". Lady Glenarvan's repeated requests and tenacity are doing their job. Ayrton agrees to tell everything he knows, and in exchange for this asks to be dropped off on some uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean. Glenarvan accepts his offer. It turns out that Ayrton left Britain before the crash. He was landed by Harry Grant in Australia for attempting to organize a riot. Ayrton's story sheds no light on Captain Grant's whereabouts. However, Glenarvan keeps his word. "Duncan" sails farther and farther, and the island of Tabor appears in the distance. It was decided to leave Ayrton on it. However, on this piece of land, lying on the thirty-seventh parallel, a miracle occurs: it turns out that it was here that Captain Grant and two of his sailors found shelter. Instead, Ayrton remains on the island to have the opportunity to repent and atone for their crimes. Glenarvan promises that someday he will return.
And "Duncan" returns safely to Scotland. Mary Grant soon becomes engaged to John Mangles, with whom during their journey together she was bound by a tender feeling. Paganel marries the major's cousin. Robert, like his father, becomes a gallant sailor.