Part 4 out of 7
forward toward Woodlands, where we intended to rest for the night,
after our long and fatiguing march.
Our tent was pitched, and on our beds of cotton we slept soundly.
Next morning early we examined our farmyard, which appeared in a most
prosperous and flourishing condition. The sight of all these domestic
animals made us long even more than ever for our home at Rockburg, and
we determined to hasten thither with all possible speed.
The number of our pigs, goats, and poultry had greatly increased since
we had last visited our colony; and some of these, two fine broods of
chickens especially, my wife wished to take back with her.
We found that the herd of antelopes, which Fritz and Jack had driven
through the Gap, had taken up their abode in the neighborhood, and
several times we saw the beautiful animals browsing among the trees.
While at the farm, we repaired both the animals' stall and our
dwelling room, that the former might be more secure against the
attacks of wild beasts, and the latter fitted for our accommodation
when we should visit the spot.
Everything at length being satisfactorily arranged, we again retired
to rest, and early next morning completed our journey to Rockburg.
By midday we were once more settled at home. Windows and doors were
thrown open to admit fresh air; the animals established in their
stalls; and the cart's miscellaneous cargo discharged and arranged.
As much time as I could spare, I devoted to the ostrich, whom we
fastened, for the present, between two bamboo posts in front of our
I then turned my attention to the eggs we had brought, which I
determined to hatch, if possible, by artificial heat. For this purpose
I arranged a stove, which I maintained at a uniform temperature, and
on it I placed the eggs, carefully wrapped in cotton wool.
Next morning Fritz and I went off in the boat, first to Whale Island,
there to establish our colonists, the Angora rabbits, and then to
Shark Island, where we placed the dainty little antelopes. Having made
them happy with their liberty and abundance of food, we returned as
quickly as possible to cure the bearskins, and add the provisions we
had brought to the stores lying in our cellar.
As we returned, we caught up Jack, making his way in great glee toward
Rockburg. He was carrying, in a basket, an immense eel, which he and
Ernest had secured.
Ernest had set, on the previous night, a couple of lines; one had been
dragged away, but on the other they found this splendid fellow.
It proved delicious. Half was prepared for dinner, and the other half
salted and stowed away.
We now, for a short time, again turned our attention to our duties
about the house.
Thinking that the veranda would be greatly improved by some creepers,
I sowed, round the foot of each bamboo pillar, vanilla and pepper
seed, as well as that of other creeping plants, which would not only
give the house a pleasanter aspect, but also afford us shade during
the summer months. Despite all our efforts, the ostrich appeared as
untameable as ever. I determined, therefore, to adopt a plan which had
subdued the refractory eagle.
The effect of the tobacco fumes almost alarmed me. The ostrich sank to
the ground and lay motionless. Slowly, at length, he arose, and paced
up and down between the bamboo posts.
He was subdued, but to my dismay resolutely refused all food. I feared
he would die; for three days he pined, growing weaker and weaker each
"Food he must have!" said I to my wife; "food he must have!"
The mother determined to attempt an experiment. She prepared balls of
maize flour, mixed with butter. One of these she placed within the
bird's beak. He swallowed it, and stretched out his long neck, looking
inquiringly for a second mouthful. A second, third, and fourth ball
followed the first. His appetite returned, and his strength came
All the wild nature of the bird had gone, and I saw with delight that
we might begin his education as soon as we chose. Rice, guavas, maize,
and corn he ate readily--washing it down, as Jack expressed it, with
small pebbles, to the great surprise of Franz, to whom I explained
that the ostrich was merely following the instinct common to all
birds; that he required these pebbles to digest his food, just as
smaller birds require gravel.
After a month of careful training, our captive would trot, gallop,
obey the sound of our voice, feed from our hand; and, in fact, showed
himself perfectly docile. Now our ingenuity was taxed to the utmost.
How were we to saddle and bridle a bird? First, for a bit for his
beak. Vague ideas passed through my mind, but every one I was obliged
[Illustration JACK AND THE OSTRICH]
A plan at length occurred to me. I recollected the effect of light and
its absence upon the ostrich, how his movements were checked by sudden
darkness, and how, with the light, power returned to his limbs.
I immediately constructed a leathern hood, to reach from the neck to
the beak, cutting holes in it for the eyes and ears.
Over the eyeholes I contrived square flaps or blinkers, which were so
arranged with whalebone springs that they closed tightly of
themselves. The reins were connected with these blinkers, so that the
flaps might be raised or allowed to close at the rider's pleasure.
When both blinkers were open, the ostrich would gallop straight ahead;
close his right eye and he turned to the left, close his left and he
turned to the right, shut both and he stood stock-still. [Footnote:
Ostriches actually may be managed in this way.]
I was justly proud of my contrivance, but before I could really test
its utility, I was obliged to make a saddle.
After several failures, I succeeded in manufacturing one to my liking,
and in properly securing it; it was something like an old-fashioned
trooper's saddle, peaked before and behind--for my great fear was lest
the boys should fall. This curious-looking contrivance I placed upon
the shoulders as near the neck as possible, and secured it with strong
girths round the wings and across the breast, to avoid all possibility
of the saddle slipping down the bird's sloping back.
I soon saw that my plan would succeed, though skill and considerable
practice were necessary in the use of my patent bridle. It was
difficult to remember that to check the courser's speed it was
necessary to slacken rein, and that the tighter the reins were drawn,
the faster he would fly. We at length, however, all learned to manage
Master Hurricane, and the distance between Rockburg and Falconhurst
was traversed in an almost incredibly short space of time.
The rainy season having set in, we were compelled to give up our daily
Even in the spacious house which we now occupied, and with our varied
and interesting employments, we yet found the time dragging heavily.
The spirits of all were depressed, and even occasional rapid rides,
during a partial cessation of the rain, failed permanently to arouse
them. Fritz, as well as I, had perceived this, and he said to me:
"Why, father, should we not make a canoe, something swifter and more
manageable than those vessels we as yet possess? I often long for a
light skiff, in which I might skim over the surface of the water."
The idea delighted all hands; but the mother, who was never happy when
we were on the sea, declared that our chances of drowning were, with
the pinnace, already sufficiently great, and that there was not the
slightest necessity for our adding to these chances by constructing
another craft which would tempt us out upon the perfidious element. My
wife's fears were, however, speedily allayed, for I assured her that
the boat I intended to construct should be no flimsy cockleshell, but
as safe and stout a craft as ever floated upon the sea. The
Greenlander's cajack I intended to be my model, and I resolved not
only to occupy the children, but also to produce a strong and
serviceable canoe--a masterpiece of art. The boys were interested, and
the boat building was soon in operation. We constructed the skeleton
of whalebone, using split bamboo canes to strengthen the sides and
also to form the deck, which extended the whole length of the boat,
leaving merely a square hole in which the occupant of the canoe might
The work engrossed our attention most entirely, and by the time it was
complete the rain had passed away and the glorious sun again shone
Our front door was just wide enough to admit of the egress of our
boat, and we completed her construction in the open air. We quickly
cased the sides and deck with sealskin, making all the seams
thoroughly water-tight with caoutchouc.
The cajack was indeed a curious-looking craft, yet so light that she
might be lifted easily with one hand, and when at length we launched
her she bounded upon the water like an india-rubber ball. Fritz was
unanimously voted her rightful owner, but before his mother would hear
of his entering the frail-looking skiff she declared she must contrive
a swimming dress, that "should his boat receive a puncture from a
sharp rock or the dorsal fin of a fish and collapse, he might yet have
a chance of saving his life."
Though I did not consider the cajack quite the soap bubble the mother
imagined it, I yet willingly agreed to assist her in the construction
of the dress.
The garment we produced was most curious in appearance, and I must own
that I doubted its efficiency. It was like a double waistcoat, made of
linen prepared with a solution of india rubber, the seams being
likewise coated with caoutchouc, and the whole rendered perfectly air-
tight. We so arranged it that one little hole was left, by means of
which air could be forced into the space between the outer covering
and the lining, and the dress inflated.
Meanwhile I perceived with pleasure the rapid vegetation the climate
was producing. The seeds we had scattered had germinated, and were now
promising magnificent crops. The veranda, too, was looking pleasant
with its gay and sweet-scented creepers, which were already aspiring
to the summit of the pillars. The air was full of birds, the earth
seemed teeming with life.
The dress was at length completed, and Fritz one fine afternoon
offered publicly to prove it. We all assembled on the beach, the boy
gravely donned and inflated the garment, and, amid roars of laughter
from his brothers, entered the water. Quickly and easily he paddled
himself across the bay toward Shark Island, whither we followed in one
of our boats.
The experiment was most successful, and Ernest, Jack, and Franz, in
spite of their laughter at their brother's garment, begged their
mother to make for each of them a similar dress.
While on the island we paid a visit to the colonists whom we had
established there the previous autumn. All were well; we could
perceive by the footprints that the antelopes had discovered and made
use of the shelter we had erected for them, and feeling that we could
do nothing more we scattered handfuls of maize and salt, and strolled
across to the other side of the island. The shore was covered with
lovely shells, many of which, with beautiful pieces of delicate coral,
the boys collected for their museum; strewn by the edge of the water,
too, lay a great quantity of seaweed of various colors, and as the
mother declared that much of it was of use, the boys assisted her to
collect it and store it in the boat. As we pulled back to the land I
was surprised to see that my wife chose from among the seaweed a
number of curious leaves with edges notched like a saw. When we
reached home she carefully washed these and dried them in the oven.
There was evidently something mysterious about this preparation, and
my curiosity at length prompted me to make an attempt to discover the
"Are these leaves to form a substitute for tobacco?" said I; "do you
so long for its refreshing smell?"
My wife smiled, for her dislike to tobacco was well known, and she
answered in the same jocular tone: "Do you not think that a mattress
stuffed with these leaves would be very cool in summer?"
The twinkle in her eyes showed me that my curiosity must still remain
unsatisfied, but it nevertheless became greater than ever.
The boys and I had one day made a long and fatiguing expedition, and,
tired out, we flung ourselves down in the veranda. As we lay there
resting, we heard the mother's voice.
"Could any of you enjoy a little jelly?"
She presently appeared, bearing a porcelain dish laden with most
lovely transparent jelly. Cut with a spoon and laid before us it
quivered and glittered in the light. "Ambrosia!" exclaimed Fritz,
tasting it. It was indeed delicious, and, still marveling from whence
the mother could have obtained a dish so rare, we disposed of all that
she had set before us.
"Aha," laughed the mother, "is not this an excellent substitute for
tobacco, far more refreshing than the nasty weed itself? Behold the
product of my mysterious seaweed."
"My dear wife," exclaimed I, "this dish is indeed a masterpiece of
culinary art, but where had you met with it? What put it into your
"While staying with my Dutch friends at the Cape," replied she, "I
often saw it, and at once recognized the leaves on Shark Island. Once
knowing the secret, the preparation of the dish is extremely simple;
the leaves are soaked in water, fresh every day, for a week, and then
boiled for a few hours with orange juice, citron, and sugar."
At last came the day when Fritz was to make his trial trip with the
cajack. Completely equipped in swimming costume--trousers, jacket and
cap--it was most ludicrous to see him cower down in the canoe and puff
and blow till he began to swell like the frog in the fable.
All trace of his original figure was speedily lost, and shouts of
laughter greeted his comical appearance. Even his mother could not
resist a smile, although the dress was her invention.
I got the other boat out, that my wife might see we were ready to go
to his assistance the moment it became necessary.
The cajack was launched from a convenient shelving point, and floated
lightly on the sea-green ocean mirror. Fritz with his paddles then
began to practice all manner of evolutions; darting along with arrowy
swiftness, wheeling to the right, then to the left; and at last,
flinging himself quite on his side, while his mother uttered a shriek
of terror, he showed that the tiny craft would neither capsize nor
sink. Then, recovering his balance, he sped securely on his further
Encouraged by our shouts of approbation, he now boldly ventured into
the strong current of Jackal River, and was rapidly carried out to
This being more than I had bargained for, I lost no time in giving
chase in the boat, with Ernest and Jack; my wife urging us to greater
speed, and declaring that some accident could not fail to happen to
"that horrid soap bubble."
We soon arrived outside the bay, at the rocks where formerly lay the
wreck, and gazed in all directions for signs of the runaway.
After a time we saw, at a considerable distance, a faint puff of
smoke, which was followed by the crack of a pistol. Upon this we fired
a signal shot, which was presently answered by another, and, steering
in the direction of the sound, we soon heard the boy's cheery halloo;
the cajack darted from behind a point of land, and we quickly joined
"Come to this rocky beach," cried Fritz; "I have something to show
With blank amazement we beheld a fine, well-grown young walrus,
harpooned and quite dead.
"Did you kill this creature, my dear Fritz?" I exclaimed, looking
round in some anxiety, and half expecting to see a naked savage come
to claim the prize.
"To be sure, father! don't you see my harpoon?"
I wished Fritz to keep close to us, that we might all arrive together;
but I yielded to his earnest wish to return alone as he came; he
longed to act as our avant-courrier, and announce our approach to his
mother; so he was soon skimming away over the surface of the water,
while we followed at a slower rate.
[Illustration: THE WALRUS]
Black clouds meanwhile gathered thick and fast around us, and a
tremendous storm came on. Fritz was out of sight, and beyond our
We buckled on the swimming belts, and firmly lashed ourselves to the
boat, so that we might not be washed overboard by the towering seas
which broke over it.
The horizon was shrouded in darkness, fearful gusts of wind lashed the
ocean into foam, rain descended in torrents, while livid lightning
glared athwart the gloom. Both my boys faced the danger nobly; and my
feelings of alarm were mingled with hope on finding how well the boat
The tempest swept on its way, and the sky began to clear as suddenly
as it had been overcast; yet the stormy waves continued for a long
time to threaten our frail bark with destruction, in spite of its
buoyancy and steadiness.
Yet I never lost hope for ourselves--all my fears were for Fritz; in
fact, I gave him up for lost, and my whole agonized heart arose in
prayer for strength to say, "Thy will be done!"
At last we rounded the point, and once more entering Safety Bay,
quickly drew near the little harbor.
What was our surprise--our overwhelming delight--when there we saw the
mother with Fritz as well as her little boy, on their knees in prayer
so earnest for our deliverance, that our approach was unperceived,
until with cries of joy we attracted their notice. Then indeed ensued
a happy meeting, and we gave thanks together for the mercy which had
spared our lives.
Returning joyfully to Rockburg, we changed our drenched garments for
warm, dry clothes; and, seated at a comfortable meal, considered and
described at our ease the perils of the storm.
Afterward, the head of the walrus was conveyed to our workshop, where
it underwent such a skilful and thorough process of cleaning,
embalming, and drying, that ere long it was actually fixed on the prow
of the cajack, and a most imposing appearance it presented.
The strips of hide, when well tanned and prepared, made valuable
Much damage had been done by the late storm. The heavy rain had
flooded all the streams, and injured crops which should have been
housed before the regular rainy season. The bridge over Jackal River
was partly broken down, and the water tanks and pipes all needed
repair. So our time was much occupied in restoring things to order.
The return of the fishing season again gave us busy days. Large takes
of salmon, sturgeon and herring rewarded our exertions, and our
storeroom again assumed a well-stocked appearance.
THE BOYS ON THE SECOND EXCURSION
Many quiet, uneventful days passed by, and I perceived that the boys,
wearied by the routine of farm work at Rockburg, were longing for a
cruise in the yacht or an expedition into the woods, which would
refresh both mind and body.
"Father," said Fritz at length, "we want a quantity of hurdles, and
have scarcely any more bamboos of which to make them. Had we not
better get a supply from Woodlands? And you said, too, the other day,
that you wished you had some more of the fine clay; we might visit the
Gap at the same time."
I had really no objection to propose; and it was shortly afterward
settled that Fritz, Jack and Franz should start together; and that
Ernest, who had no great desire to accompany his brothers, should
remain with his mother and me, and assist in the construction of a
sugar mill, the erection of which I had long contemplated.
They were ready to start, when I observed Jack quietly slip a basket
containing several pigeons, under the packages in the cart.
[Illustration: LATEST NEWS BY PIGEON POST]
The weather was exquisite; and, with exhortations to prudence and
caution from both me and their mother, the three lads started in the
very highest spirits. Storm and Grumble, as usual, drew the cart, and
were ridden by Fritz and Franz; while Hurry carried Jack swiftly
across the bridge in advance of them, followed by Floss and Bruno,
barking at his heels.
The sugar mill occupied us for several days, and was made so much like
our other mills that I need not now describe it.
On the evening of the first day, as we sat resting in the porch at
Rockburg, we naturally talked of the absentees, wondering and guessing
what they might be about.
Ernest looked rather mysterious, and hinted that he might have news of
them next morning.
Just then a bird alighted on the dovecot, and entered. I could not
see, in the failing light, whether it was one of our own pigeons or an
intruder. Ernest started up, and said he would see that all was right.
In a few minutes he returned with a scrap of paper in his hand.
"News, father! The very latest news by pigeon post, mother!"
"Well done, boys! what a capital idea!" said I, and taking the note I
"DEAREST PARENTS AND ERNEST:
"A brute of a hyena has killed a ram and two lambs. The dogs seized
it. Franz shot it. It is dead and skinned. We are all right. Love to
"WOODLANDS, 15th instant."
"A true hunter's letter!" laughed I; "but what exciting news. When
does the next post come in, Ernest?"
"To-night, I hope," said he, while his mother sighed, and doubted the
value of such glimpses into the scenes of danger through which her
sons were passing, declaring she would much rather wait and hear all
about it when she had them safe home again.
Thus the winged letter-carriers kept us informed from day to day of
the outline of adventures which were afterward more fully described.
On approaching the farm at Woodlands, the boys were startled by
hearing, as they thought, human laughter, repeated again and again;
while, to their astonishment, the oxen testified the greatest
uneasiness, the dogs growled and drew close to their masters, and the
ostrich fairly bolted with Jack into the rice swamp. The laughter
continued, and the beasts became unmanageable.
"Something is very far wrong!" cried Fritz. "I cannot leave the
animals; but while I unharness them, do you, Franz, take the dogs, and
advance cautiously to see what is the matter."
Without a moment's hesitation, Franz made his way among the bushes
with his gun, closely followed by the dogs; until, through an opening
in the thicket, he could see, at a distance of about forty paces, an
enormous hyena, in the most wonderful state of excitement; dancing
round a lamb just killed, and uttering, from time to time, the ghastly
hysterical laughter which had pealed through the forest.
The beast kept running backward and forward, rising on its hind legs,
and then rapidly whirling round and round, nodding its head, and going
through most frantic and ludicrous antics.
Franz kept his presence of mind very well; for he watched till,
calming down, the hyena began with horrid growls to tear its prey; and
then, firing steadily both barrels, he broke its fore leg, and wounded
it in the breast.
Meanwhile Fritz, having unyoked the oxen and secured them to trees,
hurried to his brother's assistance. The dogs and the dying hyena were
by this time engaged in mortal strife; but the latter, although it
severely wounded both Floss and Bruno, speedily succumbed, and was
dead when Fritz reached the spot. They raised a shout of triumph,
which guided Jack to the scene of action; and their first care was for
the dogs, whose wounds they dressed before minutely examining the
hyena. It was as large as a wild boar; long, stiff bristles formed a
mane on its neck, its color was gray marked with black, the teeth and
jaws were of extraordinary strength, the thighs muscular and sinewy,
the claws remarkably strong and sharp altogether. But for his wounds
he would certainly have been more than a match for the dogs.
After unloading the cart at the farm, the boys returned for the
carcass of the tiger-wolf, as it is sometimes called, and occupied
themselves in skinning it during the remainder of the day, when, after
dispatching the carrier-pigeon to Rockburg, they retired to rest on
their bearskin rugs, to dream of adventures past and future.
The following day they devised no less a scheme than to survey the
shores of Wood Lake, and place marks wherever the surrounding marsh
was practicable, and might be crossed either to reach the water or
Fritz in the cajack, and the boys on shore, carefully examined the
ground together; and when they found firm footing to the water's edge,
the spot was indicated by planting a tall bamboo, bearing on high a
bundle of reeds and branches.
They succeeded in capturing three young black swans, after
considerable resistance from the old ones. They were afterward brought
to Rockburg, and retained as ornaments to Safety Bay. The young
hunters seemed to have lived very comfortably on peccary ham, cassava
bread and fruit, and plenty of baked potatoes and milk.
After collecting a supply of rice and cotton, they took their way to
Prospect Hill; "and," said Fritz, as he afterward vividly described
the dreadful scene there enacted, "when we entered the pine wood, we
found it in possession of troops of monkeys, who resolved to make our
passage through it as disagreeable as possible, for they howled and
chattered at us like demons, pelting us as hard as they could with
"They became so unbearable, that at last we fired a few shots right
and left among them; several bit the dust, the rest fled, and we
continued our way in peace to Prospect Hill, but only to discover the
havoc the wretches had made there.
"Would you believe it, father? The pleasant cottage had been overrun
and ruined by apes just as Woodland was last summer! The most dreadful
dirt and disorder met our eyes wherever we turned, and we had hard
work to make the place fit for human habitation; and even then we
preferred the tent. I felt quite at a loss how to guard the farm for
the future; but seeing a bottle of the poisonous gum of the euphorbia
in the tool chest, I devised a plan for the destruction of the apes
which succeeded beyond my expectations.
"I mixed poison with milk, bruised millet, and anything I thought the
monkeys would eat, and put it in cocoanut shells, which I hung about
in the trees, high enough to be out of reach of our own animals. The
evening was calm and lovely; the sea murmured in the distance, and the
rising moon shed a beauty over the landscape which we seemed never
before to have so admired and enjoyed. The summer night closed around
us in all its solemn stillness, and our deepest feelings were touched;
when suddenly the spell was broken by an outburst of the most hideous
and discordant noises. As by one consent, every beast of the forest
seemed to arise from its den, and utter its wild nocturnal cry.
Snorting, snarling, and shrieking filled the wood beneath us.
"From the hills echoed the mournful howl of jackals, answered by Fangs
in the yard, who was backed up by the barking and yelping of his
friends Floss and Bruno. Far away beyond the rocky fastnesses of the
Gap, sounded unearthly, hollow snortings and neighings, reminding one
of the strange cry of the hippopotamus; above these, occasional deep
majestic roaring made our hearts quail with the conviction that we
heard the voices of lions and elephants.
"Overawed and silent, we retired to rest, hoping to forget in sleep
the terrors of the midnight forest, but ere long the most fearful
cries in the adjoining woods gave notice that the apes were beginning
to suffer from the poisoned repast prepared for them.
"As our dogs could not remain silent amid the uproar and din, we had
not a wink of sleep until the morning. It was late, therefore, when we
rose, and looked on the awful spectacle presented by the multitude of
dead monkeys and baboons thickly strewn under the trees round the
farm. I shall not tell you how many there were. I can only say, I
wished I had not found the poison, and we made all haste to clear away
the dead bodies and the dangerous food, burying some deep in the
earth, and carrying the rest to the shore, where we pitched them over
the rocks into the sea. That day we traveled on to the Gap."
The same evening that the boys reached the rocky pass, a messenger
pigeon arrived at Rockburg, bearing a note which concluded as follows:
"The barricade at the Gap is broken down. Everything laid waste as far
as the sugar-brake, where the hut is knocked to pieces, and the fields
trampled over by huge footmarks. Come to us, father--we are safe, but
feel we are no match for this unknown danger."
I lost not an instant, but saddled Swift, late as it was, in order to
ride to the assistance of our boys, desiring Ernest to prepare the
small cart, and follow me with his mother at daybreak, bringing
everything we should require for camping out for some days.
The bright moonlight favored my journey, and my arrival at the Gap
surprised and delighted the boys, who did not expect me till the next
day. Early on the following morning I inspected the footprints and
ravages of the great unknown. The canebrake had, without doubt, been
visited by an elephant. That great animal alone could have left such
traces and committed such fearful ravages. Thick posts in the
barricade were snapped across like reeds; the trees in the vicinity,
where we planned to build a cool summerhouse, were stripped of leaves
and branches to a great height, but the worst mischief was done among
the young sugar-cane plants, which were all either devoured or
trampled down and destroyed.
It seemed to me that not one elephant, but a troop must have invaded
our grounds. The tracks were very numerous, and the footprints of
various sizes; but, to my satisfaction, I saw that they could be
traced not only from the Gap, but back to it in evidently equal
We did not, therefore, suppose that the mighty animals remained hidden
in the woods of our territory; but concluded that, after this
freebooting incursion, they had withdrawn to their native wilds,
where, by greatly increasing the strength of our ramparts, we hoped
henceforth to oblige them to remain. The mother and Ernest arrived
next day, and she rejoiced to find all well, making light of trodden
fields and trampled sugar canes, since her sons were sound in life and
A systematic scheme of defense was now elaborated, and the erection of
the barricade occupied us for at least a month, as it was to be a firm
and durable building, proof against all invasion. As our little tent
was unsuited to a long residence of this sort, I adopted Fritz's idea
of a Kamschatchan dwelling, and, to his great delight, forthwith
carried it out.
Instead of planting four posts, on which to place a platform, we chose
four trees of equal size, which, in a very suitable place, grew
exactly in a square, twelve or fourteen feet apart. Between these, at
about twenty feet from the ground we laid a flooring of beams and
bamboo, smoothly and strongly planked. From this rose, on all four
sides, walls of cane; the frame of the roof was covered so effectually
by large pieces of bark that no rain could penetrate. The staircase to
this tree-cottage was simply a broad plank with bars nailed across it
for steps. The flooring projected like a balcony in front of the
entrance door, and underneath, on the ground, we fitted up sheds for
cattle and fowls. Various ornaments in Chinese or Japanese style were
added to the roof and eaves, and a most convenient, cool, and
picturesque cottage, overhung and adorned by the graceful foliage of
the trees, was the result of our ingenuity.
I was pleased to find that the various birds taken by the boys during
this excursion seemed likely to thrive; they were the first inmates of
the new sheds, and even the black swans soon became tame and sociable.
The day before our return to Rockburg, Fritz went again to the inland
region beyond the river to obtain a large supply of young banana
plants, and the cacao fruit. He took the cajack and a bundle of reeds
to float behind him as a raft to carry the fruit, plants, and anything
else he might wish to bring back.
In the evening he made his appearance, coming swiftly down stream. His
brothers rushed to meet him, each eager to see and help to land his
Securing the cajack, Fritz sprang toward us, his handsome face radiant
with pleasure, as he exhibited a beautiful waterfowl.
Its plumage was rich purple, changing on the back to dark green; the
legs, feet, and a mark above the bill, bright red. This lovely bird I
concluded to be the sultan cock described by Buffon, and as it was
gentle, we gladly received it among our domestic pets. Fritz gave a
stirring account of his exploring trip, having made his way far up the
river, between fertile plains and majestic forests of lofty trees,
where the cries of vast numbers of birds, parrots, peacocks, guinea
fowls, and hundreds unknown to him, quite bewildered, and made him
"It was in the Buffalo Swamp," continued he, "that I saw the splendid
birds you call sultan cocks, and I set my heart on catching one alive,
which, as they seemed to have little fear of my approach, I managed by
means of a wire snare. Farther on I saw a grove of mimosa trees, among
which from fifteen to twenty elephants were feeding peacefully on the
leafy boughs, tearing down branches with their trunks and shoving them
into their mouths with one jerk, or bathing in the deep waters of the
marsh for refreshment in the great heat. You cannot imagine the wild
grandeur of the scene! The river being very broad, I felt safe from
wild animals, and more than once saw splendid jaguars crouched on the
banks, their glossy skin glancing in the sunlight.
"While considering if it would be simply fool-hardy to try a shot at
one of these creatures, I was suddenly convinced that discretion is
the better part of valor, and urging my canoe into the center current,
made a rapid retreat down the river. For just before me, in the calm
deep water of a sheltered bay where I was quietly floating, there
arose a violent boiling, bubbling commotion, and for an instant I
thought a hot spring was going to burst forth. Instead of that, up
rose the hideous head and gaping jaws of a hippopotamus, who, with a
hoarse, terrific snort, seemed about to attack me. I can tell you I
did not wait to see the rest of him! a glimpse of his enormous mouth
and its array of white gleaming tusks was quite enough. 'Right about
face!' said I to myself, and shot down stream like an arrow, never
pausing till a bend in the river brought me within sight of the Gap,
where I once more felt safe, and joyfully made my way back to you
This narrative was of thrilling interest to us, proving the existence
of tribes of the most formidable animals beyond the rocky barrier
which defended, in so providential a manner, the small and fertile
territory on which our lot was cast.
During the absence of the adventurer we had been busily engaged in
making preparations for our departure--and everything was packed up
and ready by the morning after his return.
After some hesitation I yielded to his great wish, which was to return
by sea in his cajack round Cape Disappointment, and so meet us at
Rockburg. He was much interested in examining the outlines of the
coast and the rugged precipices of the Cape. These were tenanted by
vast flocks of sea fowl and birds of prey; while many varieties of
shrubs and plants, hitherto unknown to us, grew in the clefts and
crevices of the rocks, some of them diffusing a strong aromatic odor.
Among the specimens he brought I recognized the caper plant, and, with
still greater pleasure, a shrub which was, I felt sure, the tea plant
of China--it bore very pretty white flowers, and the leaves resembled
Our land journey was effected without accident or adventure of any
AFTER TEN YEARS
"We spend our years as a tale that is told," said King David.
These words recurred to me again and again as I reviewed ten years, of
which the story lay chronicled in the pages of my journal.
Year followed year; chapter succeeded chapter; steadily,
imperceptibly, time was passing away.
The shade of sadness cast on my mind by retrospect of this kind was
dispelled by thoughts full of gratitude to God, for the welfare and
happiness of my beloved family during so long a period. I had cause
especially to rejoice in seeing our sons advance to manhood,
strengthened by early training for lives of usefulness and activity
wherever their lot might fall.
And my great wish is, that young people who read this record of our
lives and adventures should learn from it how admirably suited is the
peaceful, industrious, and pious life of a cheerful united family, to
the formation of strong, pure, and manly character.
None take a better place in the great national family, none are
happier or more beloved than those who go forth from such homes to
fulfill new duties, and to gather fresh interests around them.
Having given a detailed account of several years' residence in New
Switzerland, as we liked to call our dominion, it is needless for me
to continue what would exhaust the patience of the most long-
suffering, by repeating monotonous narratives of exploring parties and
hunting expeditions, wearisome descriptions of awkward inventions and
clumsy machines, with an endless record of discoveries, more fit for
the pages of an encyclopedia than a book of family history.
Yet before winding up with the concluding events, I may mention some
interesting facts illustrative of our exact position at the time these
Rockburg and Falconhurst continued to be our winter and summer
headquarters, and improvements were added which made them more and
more convenient, as well as attractive in appearance.
The fountains, trellised verandas, and plantations round Rockburg
completely changed the character of the residence, which, on account
of the heat and want of vegetation, had in former days been so
distasteful to my wife. Flowering creepers overhung the balconies and
pillars; while shrubs and trees, both native and European, grew
luxuriantly in groves of our planting.
In the distance, Shark Island, now clothed with graceful palms,
guarded the entrance to Safety Bay, the battery and flagstaff
prominently visible on its crested rock.
The swamp, cleared and drained, was now a considerable lake, with just
marsh and reeds enough beyond it to form good cover for the waterfowl
whose favorite retreat it was.
On its blue waters sailed stately black swans, snow-white geese, and
richly colored ducks; while out and in among the water plants and
rushes would appear at intervals glimpses of the brilliant sultan,
marsh-fowl, crimson flamingoes, soft, blue-gray, demoiselle cranes,
and crested heron, all associating in harmony, and with no fear of us,
Beneath the spreading trees, and through the aromatic shrubberies, old
Hurry, the ostrich, was usually to be seen marching about, with grave
and dignified pace, as though monarch of all he surveyed. Every
variety of beautiful pigeon nested in the rocks and dovecots, their
soft cooing and glossy plumage making them favorite household pets.
By the bridge alone could Rockburg be approached; for higher up the
river, where, near the cascade, it was fordable, a dense and
impenetrable thicket of orange and lemon trees, Indian figs, prickly
pears, and all manner of thorn-bearing shrubs, planted by us, now
formed a complete barrier.
The rabbit warren on Shark Island kept us well supplied with food, as
well as soft and useful fur; and, as the antelopes did not thrive on
Whale Isle, they also were placed among the shady groves with the
rabbits, and their own island was devoted to such work as candle
making, tanning, wool cleaning, and any other needful but offensive
The farm at Woodlands nourished, and our flocks and herds supplied us
with mutton, beef, and veal, while my wife's dairy was almost more
than she could manage.
My boys retained their old love for giving names to the animals. They
had a beautiful creamy-white cow called Blanche, and a bull with such
tremendous voice that he received the name of Stentor. Two fleet young
onagers were named Arrow and Dart; and Jack had a descendant of his
old favorite Fangs, the jackal, which he chose to call Coco, asserting
that no word could be distinguished at a distance without the letter
"o" in it, giving illustrations of his theory till our ears were
Excellent health had been enjoyed by us all during these ten years,
though my wife occasionally suffered from slight attacks of fever, and
the boys sometimes met with little accidents.
Although so many years had elapsed in total seclusion, it continued to
be my strong impression that we should one day be restored to the
society of our fellow-men.
But time, which was bringing our sons to manhood, was also carrying
their parents onward to old age; and anxious, gloomy thoughts relating
to their future, should they be left indeed alone, sometimes oppressed
My elder sons often made expeditions of which we knew nothing until
their return after many hours; when any uneasiness I might have felt
was dissipated by their joyous appearance, and reproof always died
away on my lips.
Fritz had been absent one whole day from Rockburg, and not until
evening did we remark that his cajack was gone, and that he must be
out at sea.
Anxious to see him return before nightfall, I went off to Shark Island
with Ernest and Jack, in order to look out for him from the watch
tower there, at the same time hoisting our signal flag, and loading
Long we gazed across the expanse of ocean glittering in the level
beams of the setting sun, and finally discerned a small black speck in
the distance, which, by the telescope, was proved to be the returning
I remarked that his skiff sailed at a slower rate than usual toward
the shore. The cannon was fired to let him know that his approach was
observed, and then we joyfully hurried back to receive him at the
It was easy to see, as he drew near, what had delayed his progress.
The cajack towed a large sack, besides being heavily laden.
"Welcome, Fritz!" I cried. "Welcome back, wherever you come from, and
whatever you bring. You seem to have quite a cargo there!"
"Yes, and my trip has led to discoveries as well as booty," answered
he; "interesting discoveries which will tempt us again in the same
direction. Come, boys, let's carry up the things."
As soon as possible all assembled round him. "Ever since I possessed
the cajack it has been my ambition to make a voyage of discovery along
the coast, which we have never explored beyond the point at which I
killed the walrus. "This morning dawned magnificently; the calm sea,
the gentle breeze, all drew me irresistibly to the fulfilment of my
"I left the harbor unperceived, the current quickly bore me out to
sea, and I rounded the point to the left, passing just over the spot
where, beneath the waves, lie the guns, cannon balls, ironwork, and
all that was indestructible about our good old wreck. And would you
believe it? Through the glassy clear water, undisturbed by a ripple, I
actually saw many such things strewn on the flat rocky bottom.
"Pursuing my way, I passed among rugged cliffs and rocks which jutted
out from the shore, or rose in rugged masses from the water. Myriads
of sea fowl inhabited the most inaccessible of these, while on the
lower ridges, seals, sea bears, and walruses were to be seen, some
basking lazily in the sun, some plunging into the water, or emerging
awkwardly from it, hoisting their unwieldy bodies up the rocks by
means of their tusks.
"I must confess to feeling anything but comfortable while going
through places held in possession by these monsters of the deep, and
used every effort to pass quickly and unnoticed. Yet it was more than
an hour and a half before I got clear of the rocks, cliffs, and shoals
to which they resorted, and neared a high and precipitous cape,
running far out to sea. Right opposite to me, in the side of this
rocky wall, was a magnificent archway, forming, as it first appeared
to me, a lofty entrance to an immense vaulted cavern, I passed beneath
this noble portal and examined the interior. It was tenanted by
numbers of a small species of swallow, scarcely larger than a wren,
and the walls were covered by thousands of their nests. They were
rudely built, and their peculiarity was that each rested on a kind of
platform, something like a spoon without the handle, I detached a
number, and found that they had a curious appearance, seemingly made
of something fibrous and gelatinous, and more like a set of sponges,
corals, or fungi, than nests of birds, I have brought them home in my
"When placed in water and well soaked," I said, "they soften and
swell, and are made into soup of very strengthening and restorative
"After laying in my store of nests," continued Fritz, "I pursued my
way through this vaulted cave or corridor; which, presently turning,
opened into a very lovely bay, so calm and lake-like, that, although
of considerable size, I concluded at once it must be nearly land
locked. Its shores, beyond the rocky boundary through which I
penetrated, extended in a fertile plain toward what seemed the mouth
of a river, beyond which lay rough, and probably marshy, ground, and a
dense forest of cedars, which closed the view.
"The water beneath me was clear as crystal; and, gazing into its
depths and shallows, I perceived beds of shellfish, like large
oysters, attached to the rocks and to each other by tufts of hairy
"'If these are oysters,' thought I, 'they must be better worth eating,
as far as size goes, than our little friends in Safety Bay,' and
thereupon I hooked up several clusters with my boat hook, and landing
soon after on the beach, I flung them on the sand, resolving to fetch
another load, and then tow them after me in the fishing-net.
"The hot sun disagreed with their constitution, I suppose; for when I
came back the shells were all gaping wide open; so I began to examine
them, thinking that after all they were probably much less delicate
than the small oysters we have learnt to like so much.
"Somehow, when a thing is to be 'examined,' one generally needs a
knife. The blade met with resistance here and there in the creature's
body; and still closer 'examination' produced from it several pearly
balls like peas, of different sizes. Do you think they can be pearls?
I have a number here in a box."
"Oh, show them to us, Fritz!" cried the boys. "What pretty shining
things! and how delicately rounded, and how softly they gleam!"
"You have discovered treasure, indeed!" I exclaimed; "why these are
most beautiful pearls! Valueless, certainly, under present
circumstances; but they may prove a source of wealth, should we ever
again come into contact with the civilized world. We must visit your
pearl-oyster beds at the earliest opportunity."
"After resting for some time, and refreshing myself with food,"
pursued Fritz, "I resumed my survey of the coast, my progress somewhat
impeded by the bag of shellfish, which I drew after me; but I
proceeded without accident past the mouth of the stream to the further
side of the bay, which was there inclosed by a point corresponding to
that through which I had entered; and between these headlands I found
a line of reefs and sandbanks, with but a single channel leading out
to the open sea; from which, therefore, Pearl Bay, as I named it, lies
"The tide was setting strongly in shore, so that I could not then
attempt a passage through it, but examined the crags of the headland,
thinking I might perchance discover a second vaulted archway. I saw
nothing remarkable, however, but thousands of sea fowl of every sort
and kind, from the gull and sea swallow to the mighty albatross.
"My approach was evidently regarded as an invasion and trespass; for
they regularly beset me, screaming and wheeling over my head, till,
out of all patience, I stood up, and hit furiously about me with the
boat hook; when, rather to my surprise, one blow struck an albatross
with such force, that he fell stunned into the water.
"I now once more attempted to cross the reef by the narrow channel,
and happily succeeding, found myself in the open sea, and speeding
homeward, joyfully saw our flag flying, and heard the welcome salute
Here ended the narrative; but next morning Fritz drew me aside, and
confided to me a most remarkable sequel, in these words:
"There was something very extraordinary about that albatross, father.
I allowed you to suppose that I left it as it fell, but in reality I
raised it to the deck of the canoe, and then perceived a piece of rag
wound round one of its legs. This I removed, and, to my utter
astonishment, saw English words written on it, which I plainly made
out to be: 'Save an unfortunate Englishwoman from the smoking rock!'
"This little sentence sent a thrill through every nerve: my brain
seemed to whirl. I doubted the evidence of my senses.
"'Is this reality, or delusion?' thought I, 'Can it be true, that a
fellow-creature breathes with us the air of this lonely region?'
"I felt stupefied for some minutes; the bird began to show signs of
life, which recalled me to myself; and, quickly deciding what must be
done, I tore a strip from my handkerchief, on which I traced the
words--'Do not despair! Help is near!'
"This I carefully bound round one leg, replacing the rag on the other,
and then applied myself to the complete restoration of the bird. It
gradually revived; and after drinking a little, surprised me by
suddenly rising on the wing, faltering a moment in its flight, and
then rapidly disappearing from my view in a westerly direction.
"Now, father, one thought occupies me continually: will my note ever
reach this Englishwoman? Shall I be able to find, and to save her?"
I listened to this account with feelings of the liveliest interest and
"My dear son," said I, "you have done wisely in confiding to me alone
your most exciting discovery. Unless we know more, we must not
unsettle the others by speaking of it; for it appears to me quite
possible that these words were penned long ago on some distant shore,
where, by this time, the unhappy stranger may have perished miserably.
By the 'smoking rock' must be meant a volcano. There are none here."
Fritz was not disposed to look at the case from this gloomy point of
view; did not think the rag so very old; believed smoke might rise
from a rock which was not volcanic; and evidently cherished the hope
that he might be able to respond effectually to this touching appeal.
I was in reality as anxious as himself on the subject, but judged it
prudent to abate rather than excite hopes of success which might be
doomed to bitter disappointment.
After earnest consultation on the subject, we decided that Fritz
should go in search of the writer of the message, but not until he had
so altered the canoe as to fit it for carrying two persons, as well as
provisions sufficient to admit of his absence for a considerable time.
Impatient as he was, he could not but see the wisdom of this delay.
We returned to the house, and saw the boys busily opening the oysters,
and greatly excited as ever and anon a pearl was found. "May we not
establish a pearl fishery at once, father?" shouted they. "We might
build a hut on the shore of the bay, and set about it regularly."
An excursion to Pearl Bay was now the event to which all thoughts
turned, and for which preparations on a grand scale were made. It was
to form, as it were, the basis of the more important voyage Fritz had
in view, and to which, unsuspected by the rest, he could devote all
THE EXCURSION TO PEARL BAY
It took some time to make several raking or scraping machines, which I
invented for the purpose of detaching and lifting the oysters from
their native rocks; but that gave Fritz leisure to change the fittings
of his canoe, so as to have a spare seat in it.
His brothers naturally concluded he meant to take one of them as
shipmate on board, and he allowed the mistake to continue. They
occupied themselves in making various articles they expected to be of
use, and bore the delay with tolerable patience.
At last came the day, when, taking leave of the mother and Franz, we
went on board the yacht, accompanied by some of the dogs; while Jack,
proudly occupying the new seat beside Fritz in the canoe, shared with
him the honor of leading the way in the character of pilots.
We passed safely through the rocks and shoals near Walrus Island into
an expanse of calm water, sheltered by jutting cliffs, where the sea
glanced like a mirror, and for the first time we observed the fairy-
like shells of the paper nautilus sailing lightly over the dazzling
Further on we rounded a short promontory, flat, with an abrupt rock at
the extremity, to which we gave the name of Cape Pug-Nose; and then,
at some distance, appeared the grand cliffs of a headland running far
out to sea.
This I supposed we should have to weather, but my pilots made no
change in our course, and, following the canoe, we soon came in sight
of the majestic archway which offered us a short passage to Pearl Bay.
The wonderfully architectural appearance of the pillars, arches, and
pinnacles surrounding and surmounting this noble entrance struck me
with admiration, resembling parts of a fine Gothic cathedral, and
inducing me to propose for it the name, Cape Minster.
A perfect cloud of little swallows darted from the cavernous entrance
on our approach, divided into flocks, soared, wheeled, flew right and
left, and finally returned in a body as swiftly as they came, to the
sides of the long dark tunnel, which were festooned with their nests.
We detached a number of these as we passed, taking care to leave those
containing eggs or young. The best were at a considerable height, but
the broken and shelving rocks afforded, in some places, footing for
such daring and active climbers as Fritz and Jack, and they quickly
obtained as many as we could possibly require.
Our progress was much assisted by the tide, which, like a current,
bore us onward along the nave of this natural cathedral; aisles,
transepts, screens, and side-chapels appearing between the columns and
arches which in the "dim religious light" were revealed to our
[Illustration: PEARL BAY]
On emerging into the dazzling sunshine, we found ourselves floating in
the calm expanse of Pearl Bay; but it was some minutes before we could
look around on the bright and lovely scene.
Fritz had not overrated its beauty, and the romantic islets which
studded its waters seemed to give the effect of a pleasant smile to
features already perfect.
We cruised about for some time, surveying the coast with its fertile
meadows, shady groves, gently swelling hills, and murmuring brooks,
seeking a convenient landing place in the vicinity of the shallows
where lay the oyster beds.
This we found, close to a sparkling streamlet; and, as the day was
fast declining, we made speedy arrangements for burning a watch fire;
after which we partook of a hasty supper, and leaving the dogs, with
Coco, the jackal, to sleep on shore, we returned on board the yacht
for the night, anchoring within gunshot of the land.
The coast being quite strange to us, I knew not what wild beasts might
frequent it; but, though I did not fear that any would approach us by
swimming, yet I was glad to have with us our lively little ape,
Mercury (the successor of our old favorite, Knips, long since gathered
to his fathers), for he occupied at night a cosy berth on deck, and
was certain to give vociferous notice should anything alarming occur.
Fritz moored the cajack alongside, and came on board. The night passed
in peace, although for a time we were disturbed by the yelping of
jackals, with whom Coco persisted in keeping up a noisy conversation.
We awoke at daybreak, and repaired in haste with nets, scrapers, and
all other requisites, to the oyster beds, where we worked with such
diligence and success that in the course of two days we had an immense
pile of shells built up like a stack on the beach, and left to decay.
I collected a quantity of seaweed to spread over them, which was
afterward burnt to make alkali, when we returned to secure our harvest
Every evening we went out shooting in the neighborhood, and kept
ourselves supplied with game of one sort or another. The last day of
our fishery we started earlier, intending to make a longer excursion
into the woods.
Ernest set off first with Floss, Jack and Coco strolling after them.
Fritz and I were still employed in taking on board the last load of
our tools, when we suddenly heard a shot, a loud cry of pain or fear,
and then another shot.
At the first alarm, the other two dogs rushed away from us toward the
spot, and Fritz, who had just called Pounce, the eagle, from his
perch, to accompany us in the ramble, let him fly, and seizing his
rifle darted off in the same direction.
Before I could reach the scene of action, more shots were heard, and
then a shout of victory; after which appeared through the stems of the
trees the disconsolate figure of Jack, hobbling along like a cripple,
supported on each side by his brothers.
When they came near me they stopped; and poor Jack, moaning and
groaning, began to feel himself all over, as if to search for broken
bones, crying out:
"I'm pounded like a half-crushed pepper-corn!"
On examination I found some severe bruises.
"Who or what has been pommeling the boy?" I exclaimed; "one would
think he had been beaten."
"It was a huge wild boar," said Ernest, "with fierce eyes, monstrous
tusks, and a snout as broad as my hand. Floss and I were going quietly
along, when there was a sudden rustling and snorting close by, and a
great boar broke through the bushes, making for the outskirts of the
wood. Floss gave chase directly, and the boar turned and stood at bay.
Then up came Jack with Coco, and the gallant little jackal attacked
the monster in the rear. In another moment, however, he was sent
sprawling upon his back, and this so provoked his master that he fired
a hasty ill-directed shot. The brute's notice and fury at once turned
upon Jack, who prudently took to his heels, when I attempted to check
the career of the boar by a shot, which, however, only slightly
wounded it. Jack stumbled and fell over the root of a tree, just as
the animal came up with him. 'Help! murder,' shouted he; and if the
other dogs had not then arrived, and tackled the boar together, I fear
it would have been a case of murder indeed."
All at once a deep, fearful sound echoed through the neighboring
woods. It made our blood curdle in our veins. We listened with
straining ears, hoping it would not be repeated. With a shudder we
heard the dread voice roar again, yet nearer to us, and an answer peal
from the distance.
"We must find out who are the performers in this concert!" exclaimed
Fritz, springing to his feet and snatching up his rifle. "Make the
fire blaze; get on board the yacht, and have all the guns in
readiness. I am off to reconnoiter in the canoe."
We mechanically obeyed his rapid orders, while the bold youth
disappeared in the darkness; and, after heaping fuel on the fire, we
went on board and armed ourselves with cutlasses, besides loading all
the guns, waiting in readiness either to land again or to quit the
We presently saw the whole pack of our dogs, as well as Coco, the
jackal, and the little ape, Mercury (who had been tempted by the
truffles to stay with them in the woods), come galloping at full speed
up to the fire.
Mercury was evidently excessively discomposed at finding us gone; he
gnashed his teeth, and chattered, as though in fear, looking
hopelessly at the water, through which he could not venture.
The dogs planted themselves by the fire, gazing fixedly landward, with
ears erect, and occasionally uttering a barking challenge, or a
Meantime, the horrid roarings approached nearer, and I concluded that
a couple of leopards or panthers had been attracted by the scent of
the boar's carcass. But not long after I had expressed this opinion,
we beheld a large, powerful animal spring from the underwood, and,
with a bound, and muttered roar, approach the fire. In a moment I
recognized the unmistakable outlines of the form of a lion, though in
size he far surpassed any I had ever seen exhibited in Europe.
The dogs slunk behind the fire, and the lion seated himself almost
like a cat on his hind legs, glaring alternately at them, and at the
great boar hams which hung near, with doubtless a mixed feeling of
irritation and appetite, which was testified by the restless movement
of his tail.
He then arose, and commenced walking up and down with slow and
measured pace, occasionally uttering short, angry roars, quite unlike
the prolonged, full tones we had heard at first.
At times he went to drink at the brook, always returning with such
haste that I fully expected to see him spring.
Gradually his manner became more and more threatening; he turned
toward us, crouched, and with his body at full stretch, waved his
tail, and glared so furiously that I was in doubt whether to fire or
retreat, when through the darkness rang the sharp crack of a rifle.
"That is Fritz!" exclaimed every one; while, with a fearful roar, the
lion sprang to his feet, stood stock-still, tottered, sank on his
knees, rolled over, and lay motionless on the sand.
"We are saved!" I cried; "that was a masterly shot. The lion is struck
to the heart; he will never stir again. Stay on board, boys. I must
join my brave Fritz."
In a few moments I landed; the dogs met me with evident tokens of
pleasure, but kept whining uneasily, and looking toward the deep
darkness of the woods whence the lion had come.
This behavior made me cautious; and, seeing nothing of Fritz, I
lingered by the boat, when suddenly a lioness bounded from the shadow
of the trees, into the light diffused by the fire.
At sight of the blazing fagots she paused, as though startled; passed
with uncertain step round the outskirts of the illuminated circle; and
uttered roarings, which were evidently calls to her mate, whose dead
body she presently discovered.
Finding him motionless, her manner betokened the greatest concern; she
touched him with her fore paws, smelt round him, and licked his
bleeding wounds. Then, raising her head, she gnashed her teeth, and
gave forth the most lamentable and dreadful sound I ever heard; a
mingled roar and howl, which was like the expression of grief, rage,
and a vow to be revenged, all in one.
Crack! Another shot: the creature's right fore paw was lamed; and the
dogs, seeing me raise my gun, suddenly gathered courage, and ran
forward just as I fired. My shot also wounded the lioness, but not
mortally, and the most terrific combat ensued.
It was impossible to fire again, for fear of wounding the dogs. The
scene was fearful beyond description. Black night surrounded us; the
fitful blaze of the fire shed a strange, unnatural light on the
prostrate body of the huge dead lion, and on the wounded lioness, who
fought desperately against the attack of the four gallant dogs; while
the cries, roars, and groans of anguish and fury uttered by all the
animals were enough to try the stoutest nerves.
Old Juno, staunch to the last, was foremost in the fray. After a time,
I saw her change her plan of attack, and spring at the throat of the
lioness; who, in an instant, raised her left paw, and at one blow the
cruel claws had laid open the body of the dog, and destroyed the life
of the true and faithful companion of so many years.
Just then Fritz appeared. The lioness was much weakened, and we
ventured to go near enough to fire with safety to ourselves; and
finally I dispatched her by plunging a hunting-knife deep in her
Ernest and Jack were summoned from the yacht to witness the completed
victory; and I regretted having left them on board, when I saw how
greatly the noise and tumult had alarmed them, unable, as they were,
to ascertain what was going on.
They hastened toward us in great agitation, and their joy on seeing us
safe was only equaled by the grief they felt on learning of the death
The night was now far advanced; the fire burnt low; but we piled on
more wood, and, by the renewed light, drew poor Juno from between the
paws of the lioness; and by the brookside, washed and bound up the
torn body, wrapping it carefully in canvas, and carrying it with us on
board the yacht, that it might be buried at Rockburg, whither on the
following day it was our purpose to return.
Wearied and sorrowful, but full of thankfulness for our personal
safety, we at length lay down to sleep, having brought all the dogs on
Next morning, before quitting Pearl Bay, we once more landed, that we
might possess ourselves of the magnificent skins of the lion and
lioness, whose visit, fatal to themselves, had caused such a commotion
during the night.
In about a couple of hours we returned to the yacht, leaving the
flayed carcasses to the tender mercies of the birds of prey sure to be
attracted to them.
"Homeward bound," sang out the boys, as they cheerily weighed anchor,
and prepared to stand out to sea. I could see, though he did not
complain, that poor Jack had not recovered from the boar's rough
treatment, and moved very stiffly.
"You must pilot us through the channel in the reef this time, Fritz,"
said I; adding, in a lower tone, "and then is it to be 'farewell,' my
"Yes, dear father--Au revoir!" returned he, brightly, with a glance
full of meaning, while he threw into his canoe a cushion and a fur
He sprang into his skiff and led the way toward the open sea. We
followed, carefully, and soon passed the reef. Then while his brothers
were busy with the sails, Fritz waved his hand to me, turned in the
opposite direction, and vanished behind the point.
When missed by his brothers, I said he had a fancy to explore more of
the coast, and if he found it interesting he might, instead of only a
few hours, remain absent for two or three days.
Toward evening, we sailed into Safety Bay.
Five days passed, but Fritz still remained absent. I could not conceal
my anxiety, and at length determined to follow him. All were delighted
at the proposal, and even the mother, when she heard that we were to
sail in the pinnace, agreed to accompany us.
The boat was stored, and on a bright morning, with a favorable breeze,
we five, with the dogs, stepped aboard, and ran for Cape Minster.
Our beautiful little yacht bounded over the water gaily, and the
bright sunshine and delicious sea breeze put us all in the highest
spirits. The entrance of the archway was in sight, and thither I was
directing the boat's course. Suddenly, right ahead, I saw a dark and
shadowy mass just below the surface of the water. "A sunken rock!" I
thought to myself, "and yet it is strange that I never before noticed
it." I put down the helm in a moment, but a catastrophe seemed
We surged ahead! A slight shock, and all was over! The danger was
I glanced astern, to look again at the dangerous spot; but the rock
was gone, and, where but a moment before I had distinctly seen its
great green shadow, I could now see nothing. Before we had recovered
from our amazement, a shout from Jack surprised me.
"There is another," he exclaimed, "to starboard, father!"
Sure enough, there lay, apparently, another sunken rock.
"The rock is moving!" shouted Franz; and a great black body emerged
from the sea, while from the upper extremity rushed a column of water,
which, with a mighty noise, rose upward and then fell like rain all
around. The mystery was explained; for, as the great beast emerged yet
further from the water, I recognized, from its enormous size and great
length of head, the cachalot whale.
The monster was apparently enraged at the way we had scratched his
back; for, retreating to a short distance, he evidently meditated a
rush upon us. Fearful stories occurred to me of the savage temper of
this whale, how he has been known to destroy boat after boat, and even
ships, and with a feeling of desperation I sprang to one of the guns.
Jack leaped to the other, and almost simultaneously we fired. Both
shots apparently took effect; for the whale, after lashing the water
violently for a few seconds, plunged beneath the surface, and
disappeared. We kept a sharp lookout for him, for I was unwilling to
lose such a valuable prize, and, reloading, stood toward the shore, in
which direction he was apparently making. Presently we again sighted
him in shallow water, lashing fearfully with his tail, and dyeing the
waves around him with blood. Approaching the infuriated animal as
nearly as I dared, we again fired.
The struggles of the whale seemed for a few moments to become even
more frantic, and then, with a quiver from head to tail, he lay
The boys were about to raise the cry of victory, but checked the shout
upon their very lips; for darting behind a rock they espied a canoe
paddled by a tall and muscular savage, who now stood up in his skiff
and appeared to be examining us attentively. Seeing that we were
standing toward him, the swarthy native seized his paddle and again
darted behind a rock. An awful thought now took possession of me.
There must be a tribe of blacks lurking on these shores, and Fritz
must have fallen into their hands. We, however, I determined, should
not be easily taken; and our guns were loaded and run out.
Presently a dusky face appeared, peeping at us from a lofty rock; it
vanished, and we saw another peeping at us from lower down. Then,
again, the skiff put out as though to make a further reconnoiter. All,
even Jack, looked anxious, and glanced at me for orders.
"Hoist a white flag," said I, "and hand me the speaking trumpet."
I seized the instrument and uttered such peaceable words in the Malay
language as I could recall; neither the flag nor my words seemed to
produce any effect, and the savage was about to return to the shore.
Jack hereupon lost patience, and in his turn took up the trumpet.
"Come here, you black son of a gun," he exclaimed. "Come on board and
make friends, or we'll blow you and your--"
"Stop! stop! you foolish boy," I said; "you will but alarm the man,
with your wild words and gestures."
"No! but see," he cried, "he is paddling toward us!"
And sure enough the canoe was rapidly approaching.
Presently a cry from Franz alarmed me. "Look! look!" he shrieked, "the
villain is in Fritz's cajack. I can see the walrus head."
Ernest alone remained unmoved. He took the speaking trumpet:
"Fritz, ahoy!" he shouted; "welcome, old fellow!"
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when I, too, recognized the
well-known face beneath its dusky disguise.
In another minute the brave boy was on board, and in spite of his
blackened face was kissed and welcomed heartily. He was now assailed
with a storm of questions from all sides: "Where had he been?" "What
had kept him so long, and why had he turned blackamoor?"
"The last question," replied he, with a smile, "is the only one I will
now answer; the others shall be explained when I give a full account
of my adventures. Hearing guns fired, my mind was instantly filled
with ideas of Malay pirates, for I never dreamed that you could be
here in the yacht, so I disguised myself as you now see me, and came
forth to reconnoiter. When you addressed me in Malay you only added to
my terror, for it left not a doubt in my mind that you were pirates."
Having in our turn described to him our adventure with the cachalot
whale, I asked him if he knew of a suitable spot for the anchorage of
"Certainly," he replied, casting toward me a glance full of meaning;
"I can lead you to an island where there is a splendid anchorage, and
which is itself well worth seeing, for it contains all sorts of
strange things." And after removing the stains from his skin, and
turning himself once more into a civilized being, he again sprang into
his canoe and piloted us to a picturesque little island in the bay.
Now that there could be no doubt as to the success of Fritz's
expedition, I no longer hesitated to give to my wife an account of his
project, and to prepare her mind for the surprise which awaited her.
She was greatly startled as I expected, and seemed almost overcome
with emotion at the idea of seeing a human being, and that being one
of her own sex.
"But why," she asked, "did you not tell me of this at first? "Why wait
until the last moment with such joyful news?"
"I was unwilling," I replied, "to raise hopes which might never be
realized: but now, thank Heaven, he has succeeded, and there is no
need for concealment."
The boys could not at all understand the evident air of mystery and
suppressed excitement which neither their mother, Fritz, nor I could
entirely conceal. They cast glances of the greatest curiosity toward
the island, and as soon as the sails were furled and the anchor
dropped, they sprang eagerly ashore. In a body we followed Fritz,
maintaining perfect silence. Presently we emerged from the thicket
through which we were passing, and saw before us a hut of sheltering
boughs, at the entrance of which burned a cheerful fire.
Into this leafy bower Fritz dived, leaving his brothers without, mute
with astonishment. In another moment he emerged, leading by the hand a
slight, handsome youth, by his dress apparently a young English naval
officer. The pair advanced to meet us; and Fritz, with a countenance
radiant with joy, briefly introduced his companion as Edward Montrose.
"And," he continued, looking at his mother and me, "will you not
welcome him as a friend and a brother to our family circle?"
"That will we, indeed!" I exclaimed, advancing and holding out my
hands to the fair young stranger. "Our wild life may have roughened
our looks and manners, but it has not hardened our hearts, I trust."
The mother, too, embraced the seeming youth most heartily. The lads,
and even the dogs, were not behindhand in testifying their
gratification at the appearance of their new friend--the former
delighted at the idea of a fresh companion, and the latter won by her
sweet voice and appearance.
From the expression made use of by Fritz I perceived that the girl
wished her sex to remain unrevealed to the rest of the party until the
mother could obtain for her a costume more suited to her real
The young men then ran down to the yacht to bring up what was
necessary for supper, as well as to make preparations for a camp in
which we might spend the night. This done, the mother hastened to set
before us a substantial meal, while the boys, anxious to make their
new acquaintance feel at home among them, were doing their best to
amuse her. She herself, after the first feeling of strangeness had
worn off, entered fully into all their fun; and by the time they sat
down to supper was laughing and chattering as gaily as any one of the
rest. She admired the various dishes, tasted our mead, and, without
alluding once to her previous life, kept up a lively conversation.
The mere fact of meeting with any human being after so many years of
isolation was in itself sufficient to raise the boys to the greatest
state of excitement; but that this being should be one so handsome, so
gay, so perfectly charming, seemed completely to have turned their
heads; and when I gave the sign for breaking up of the feast, and
their new friend was about to be led to the night quarters which had
been prepared for her on board the yacht, the health of Edward
Montrose was proposed, and drunk in fragrant mead, amid the cheers and
acclamations of all hands. When she was gone, and silence had been
restored, Jack exclaimed:
"Now, then, Fritz, if you please, just tell me where you came across
this jolly fellow. Did you take your mysterious voyage in search of
him, or did you meet him by chance? Out with your adventures, while we
sit comfortably round the fire." So saying, Jack cast more wood upon
the blazing pile, and throwing himself down in his usual careless
fashion, prepared to listen attentively.
Fritz, after a few moments' hesitation, began:
"Perhaps you remember," said he, "how, when I returned from my
expedition in the cajack the other day, I struck down an albatross.
None but my father at the time knew, however, what became of the
wounded bird, or even thought more about it. Yet it was that albatross
who brought me notice of the shipwrecked stranger and he, too, I
determined should carry back a message, to cheer and encourage the
"I first, as you know, prepared my cajack to carry two persons; and
then, with a heart full of hope and trust, left you and the yacht,
and, with Pounce seated before me, made for the open sea. For several
hours I paddled steadily on, till, the wind freshening, I thought it
advisable to keep in nearer shore; that, should a regular storm arise,
I might find some sheltered bay in which to weather it.
"It was well I did so; for, scarcely had I reached a quiet cove which
promised to afford me the protection I desired, when the sea appeared
one mass of foam: great surging waves arose; and even in the
comparative calm of the bay I felt that I was in some danger.
"I passed the night in my cajack; and next morning, after a frugal
meal of pemmican, [Footnote: Pemmican is meat cut into thin slices
dried in the sun, pounded to a powder, and then compressed into
cakes.] and a draught of water from my flask, once more ventured
forth. The wind had subsided, and the sea was tolerably smooth; and,
keeping my eyes busily employed in seeking in every direction to
detect, if possible, the slightest trace of smoke, or other sign of
human life, I paddled on till noon.
"The aspect of the coast now began to change: the shores were sandy,
while further inland lay dense forests, from whose gloomy depths I
could ever and anon hear the fierce roar of beasts of prey, the yell
of apes, the fiendish laugh of the hyena, or the despairing death cry
of a hapless deer. Seldom have I experienced a greater feeling of
solitude than while listening to these strange sounds, and knowing
that I, in this frail canoe, was the only human being near. Giving
myself up to contemplation, I rested my paddle, and allowed my cajack
to drift slowly on.
"For some hours I paddled quickly on, sometimes passing the mouth of a
stream, sometimes that of a broad river. Had I been merely on an
exploring expedition, I should have been tempted, doubtless, to cruise
a little way up one of these pathways into the forest; but now such an
idea did not enter my head. On, on, on, I felt I must go, until I
should reach the goal of my voyage.
"The shades of night at length drew on, and, finding a sheltered cove,
I moored my cajack, and stepped on shore. You may imagine how pleasant
it was to stretch my legs, after sitting for so long in the cramped
position which my cajack enforces. It would not do, however, to sleep
on shore; so after preparing and enjoying my supper, I returned on
board, and there spent the night.
"My thoughts on awakening were gloomy. I felt that I could no longer
continue the voyage. The albatross, I thought, may have flown hundreds
of miles before it reached me. This stranger may be on different
shores from these entirely; every stroke of my paddle may be carrying
me further from the blazing signal: who knows?
"This feeling of discouragement was not, however, to be of long
duration; for in a moment more a sight presented itself, which
banished all my doubts and fears, and raised me to the highest pitch
"A high point of land lay before me. I rounded it, and beyond found a
calm and pleasant bay, from whose curved and thickly wooded shores ran
out a reef of rocks. From the point of this reef rose a column of
smoke, steadily and clearly curling upward in the calm air, I could
scarcely believe my senses, but stopped gazing at it, as though I were
in a dream; then, with throbbing pulse and giddy brain, I seized my
paddle, and strained every nerve to reach it.
"A few strokes seemed to carry me across the bay, and, securing my
canoe, I leaped upon the rock, on which the beacon was blazing, but
not a sign of a human being could I see. I was about to shout, for as
the fire had evidently been recently piled up, I knew the stranger
could not be far off; but, before I could do so, I saw a slight figure
passing along the chain of rocks toward the spot on which I stood. You
may imagine my sensations.
"I advanced a few paces; and then mastering my emotion as best I
could, I said in English:
"'Welcome, fair stranger! God, in his mercy, has heard your call, and
has sent me to your aid!'
"Miss Montrose came quickly forward--"
"Who? What?" shouted the boys, interrupting the narrative; "who came
forward?" and amid a general hubbub, Ernest, rising and advancing to
his brother, said in his quiet way:
"I did not like to make any remark till you actually let out the
secret, Fritz, but we need no longer pretend not to see through the
disguise of Edward Montrose."
Fritz, though much disconcerted by the discovery of the secret,
recovered his self-possession; and, after bearing with perfect
equanimity the jokes with which his brothers assailed him, joined in
three cheers for their new sister, and when the confusion and laughter
which ensued had subsided, continued his story:
"Miss Montrose grasped my hands warmly, and guessing from my
pronunciation, I am afraid, that I was not in the habit of speaking
English every day of my life, said in French:
"'Long, long, have I waited since the bird returned with your message.
Thank God, you have come at last!'
"Then, with tears of joy and gratitude, she led me to the shore, where
she had built a hut and a safe sleeping place, like Falconhurst on a
small scale, among the branches of a tree. I was delighted with all
she showed me, for indeed her hut and its fittings evinced no ordinary
skill and ingenuity. Round the walls hung bows, arrows, lances, and
bird snares; while on her worktable, in boxes and cases, carved
skilfully with a knife, were fishhooks of mother-of-pearl, needles
made from fish bones, and bodkins from the beaks of birds, fishing
lines of all sorts, and knives and other tools. These latter she told
me were, with a chest of wearing apparel, almost the only things
washed ashore after the wreck, when three years ago she was cast alone
upon this desolate coast. I marveled more and more at the wonderful
way in which this girl had surmounted obstacles, the quarter of which
would completely have appalled the generality of her sex. The hut
itself was a marvel of skill; stout posts had been driven into the
ground, with cross pieces of bamboo, to form a framework; the walls
had been woven with reeds, the roof thatched with palm leaves, and the
whole plastered smoothly with clay, an open space being left in the
center of the roof for a chimney to carry off the smoke of the fire.
"As we entered, a cormorant, with a cry of anger, flew from under the
table toward me, and was about to attack me fiercely. Miss Montrose
called it off, and she then told me she had captured and tamed the
bird soon after first landing, and since that time had contrived to
train it to assist her in every conceivable way; it now not only was a
pleasant companion, but brought her food of every description, fish,
flesh and fowl, for whether it dived into the waters, according to its
natural habit, struck down birds upon the wing, or seized rabbits and
other small animals upon the land, it laid all its booty at her feet.
"Before darkness closed in, all the curiosities and ingenious
contrivances of the place had been displayed--the kitchen stove,
cooking utensils, skin bottles, shell plates and spoons, the fishing
raft and numberless other things--and then, as I sat with my fair
hostess at a most appetizing meal she gave me a short account of her
"Jenny Montrose was the daughter of a British officer, who had served
for many years in India, where she herself was born. At the early age
of three years she lost her mother.
"After the death of his wife, all the colonel's love and care was
centered upon his only child; under his eye she was instructed in all
the accomplishments suited to her sex; and from him she imbibed an
ardent love for field sports. By the time she was seventeen, she was
as much at home upon her horse in the field as in her father's
drawing-room. Colonel Montrose now received orders to return home with
his regiment, and as for certain reasons he did not wish her to
accompany him in the ship with the troops, he obtained a passage for
her on board a vessel which was about to sail at the same time.
"The separation was extremely painful to both the old soldier and his
daughter, but there was no alternative. They parted, and Miss Montrose
sailed in the Dorcas for England. A week after she had left Calcutta,
a storm arose and drove the vessel far out of her course; more bad
weather ensued; and at length, leaks having been sprung in all
directions, the crew was obliged to take to the boats. Jenny obtained
a place in one of the largest of these. After enduring the perils of
the sea for many days, land was sighted; and, the other boats having
disappeared, an attempt was made to land. The boat was capsized, and
Miss Montrose alone reached the shore. For a long time she lay upon
the sand almost inanimate; but, reviving sufficiently to move, she at
length obtained some shellfish, and by degrees recovered her strength.
From that time forth until I appeared she never set eyes upon a human
being. To attract any passing vessel, and obtain assistance, however,
she kept a beacon continually blazing at the end of the reef; and,
with the same purpose in view, attached missives to the feet of any
birds she could take alive in her snares. The albatross, she told me,
she had kept for some time, and partially tamed; but, as it was in the
habit of making long excursions on its own account, she conceived the
idea of sending it also with a message, that, should it by chance be
seen and taken alive, it might return with an answer.
"Our supper was over, and, at length, both wearied out with the
anxieties and excitement of the day, we retired to rest, she to her
leafy bower, and I to sleep in the hut below.
"Next morning, having packed her belongings in the cajack, we both
went on board; and bidding adieu to her well-known bay she took her
seat before me, and I made for home.
"We should have reached Rockburg this evening had not an accident
occurred to our skiff and compelled us to put in at this island. The
boat was scarcely repaired when I heard your first shots. I instantly
disguised myself; and, never doubting that Malay pirates were near,
came forth to reconnoiter. Glad indeed was I to find my fears
Next morning, as we assembled for breakfast, I took the opportunity of
begging Miss Montrose no longer to attempt to continue her disguise,
but to allow us to address her in her real character.
Jenny smiled; for she had noticed, as the young men met her when she
came from the cabin, a great alteration in their manner, and had at
once seen that her secret was guessed.
"After all," she said, "I need not be ashamed of this attire; it has
been my only costume for the last three years, and in any other I
should have been unable to manage all the work which during that time
has been necessary."
All was now bustle and activity; and breakfast over, we went aboard
the yacht. Fritz and Jack stepped into the canoe; and we soon left
Fair Isle and Pearl Bay far behind.
The morning was delightful. The sea, excepting for the slight ripple
raised by the gentle breeze wafting us homeward, was perfectly calm.
Slowly and contentedly we glided on through the wonders of the
splendid archway, threaded our passage among the rocks and shoals, and
passed out to the open sea. So slowly did we make our way, that the
occupants of the cajack announced that they could not wait for us when
they had once piloted us out from among the shoals and reefs, and
plied their paddles to such good purpose that they were soon out of
sight. Nautilus Bay and Cape Pug-Nose were in due time passed,
however, and Shark Island hove in sight.
With great astonishment Jenny gazed at our watchtower, with its
guardhouse, the fierce-looking guns, and the waving flag upon the
heights. We landed, that she might visit the fortification; when we
displayed all our arrangements with great pride. When they and the
herd of lovely gazelles had been sufficiently admired, we again
embarked, and steered toward Deliverance Bay. On reaching the
entrance, a grand salute of twelve shots welcomed us and our fair
guest to Rockburg. Not pleased with the even number, however, Ernest
insisted upon replying with thirteen guns, an odd number being, he
declared, absolutely necessary for form's sake.
As we neared the quay, Fritz and Jack stood ready to receive us, and
with true politeness handed their mother and Jenny ashore. They turned
and led the way to the house through the gardens, orchards, and
shrubberies which lay on the rising ground that sloped gently upward
to our dwelling.
Jenny's surprise was changed to wonder as she neared the villa itself
--its broad, shady balcony, its fountains sparkling in the sun, the
dovecots, the pigeons wheeling above, and the bright, fresh creepers,
twined round the columns, delighted her. She could scarcely believe
that she was still far from any civilized nation, and that she was
among a family wrecked like herself upon a lonely coast.
My amazement, however, fully equaled that of my little daughter when,
beneath the shade of the veranda, I saw a table laid out with a
delicious luncheon. All our china, silver, and glass had been called
into requisition, and was arranged upon the spotless damask cloth.
Wine sparkled in the decanters, splendid pineapples, oranges, guavas,
apples, and pears resting on cool green leaves, lay heaped in pyramids
upon the porcelain dishes. A haunch of venison, cold fowl, ham, and
tongues occupied the ends and sides of the table, while in the center
rose a vase of gay flowers, surrounded by bowls of milk and great jugs
of mead. It was, indeed, a perfect feast, and the heartiness of the
welcome brought tears of joy into the lovely eyes of the fair girl in
whose honor it had been devised.
All were soon ready to sit down; and Jenny, looking prettier than ever
in the dress for which she had exchanged her sailor's suit, took the
place of honor between the mother and me. Ernest and Franz also seated
themselves; but nothing would induce Fritz and Jack to follow their
example. They considered themselves our entertainers, and waited upon
us most attentively, carving the joints, filling our glasses, and
changing the plates; for, as Jack declared to Miss Montrose, the
servants had all run away in our absence, and, for the next day or
two, perhaps we should be obliged to wait upon ourselves.
When the banquet was over, and the waiters had satisfied their
appetites, they joined their brothers, and with them displayed all the
wonders of Rockburg to their new sister. To the house, cave, stables,
gardens, fields and boathouses, to one after the other did they lead
Not a corner would they have left unnoticed, had not the mother,
fearing they would tire the poor girl out, come to the rescue, and led
her back to the house.
On the following day, after an early breakfast, we started, while it
was yet cool, for Falconhurst; and as I knew that repairs and
arrangements for the coming winter would be necessary, and would
detain us for several days, we took with us a supply of tools, as well
as baskets of provisions, and other things essential to our comfort.
The whole of our stud, excepting the ostrich, were in their paddocks
near the tree; but Jack, saying that his mother and Jenny really must
not walk the whole way, to the great amusement of the latter, leaped
on Hurry, and fled away in front of us. Before we had accomplished
one-quarter of the distance, we heard the thundering tread of many
feet galloping down the avenue, and presently espied our motley troop
of steeds being driven furiously toward us. Storm, Lightfoot, Swift,
Grumble, Stentor, Arrow and Dart were there, with Jack, on his fleet
two-legged courser, at their heels. At his saddle-bow hung a cluster
of saddles and bridles, the bits all jangling and clanking, adding to
the din and confusion, and urging on the excited animals, who
thoroughly entered into the fun, and with tails in the air, ears back,
and heels ever and anon thrown playfully out, seemed about to
overwhelm us. We stepped aside to shelter ourselves behind the trees
from the furious onset; but a shout from Fritz brought the whole herd
to a sudden halt, and Jack spurred toward us. "Which of the cattle
shall we saddle for you, Jenny?" he shouted; "they're all as gentle as
lambs, and as active as cats. Every one has been ridden by mother, and
knows what a side-saddle means, so you can't go wrong."
To his great delight, Jenny quickly showed her appreciation of the
merits of the steeds by picking out Dart, the fleetest and most
spirited in the whole stud.
The ostrich was then relieved of his unusual burden, the animals were
speedily equipped, and Lightfoot bearing the baskets and hampers, the
whole party mounted and trotted forward. Jenny was delighted with her
palfry, and henceforward he was reserved for her special use.
The work at Falconhurst, as I had expected, occupied us for some time,
and it was a week before we could again return to Rockburg. Yet the
time passed pleasantly; for though the young men were busy from
morning to night, the presence of their new companion, her lively
spirits and gay conversation, kept them in constant good humor.
When the repairs were all finished, we remained yet a day or two
longer, that we might make excursions in various directions to bring
in poultry from Woodlands, stores of acorns for the pigs, and grass,
willows, and canes, to be manufactured during the winter into mats,
baskets, hurdles, and hen-coops.
Many a shower wetted us through during these days, and we had scarcely
time to hurry back to Rockburg and house our cattle and possessions
before the annual deluge began.
Never before had this dreary season seemed so short and pleasant; with
Jenny among us, the usual feeling of weariness and discontent never
appeared; the English language was quickly acquired by all hands,
Fritz, in particular, speaking it so well that Jenny declared she
could scarcely believe he was not an Englishman. She herself already
spoke French, and therefore easily learned our native language and
spoke it fluently before we were released from our captivity.
THE ENGLISH WARSHIP
Many wondrous tales were told or read in turn by the boys and Jenny
during the long evenings as we sat drawing, weaving and plaiting in
our cozy study. In fact, this winter was a truly happy time, and when
at length the rain ceased and the bright sun again smiled upon the
face of nature, we could scarcely believe, as we stepped forth and
once more felt the balmy breath of spring, that, for so many weeks, we
had been prisoners within our rocky walls.
All was once more activity and life; the duties in field, garden, and
orchard called forth the energy of the lads, while their mother and
sister found abundant occupation in the poultry yard and house. Our
various settlements and stations required attention. Falconhurst,
Woodlands, Prospect Hill, Shark and Whale Islands were in turn visited
and set in order. The duty of attending to the island battery fell to
Jack and Franz.
They had been busy all day repairing the flagstaff, rehoisting the
flag, and cleaning and putting into working order the two guns.
Evening was drawing on and our day's work was over; the rest of us
were strolling up and down upon the beach, enjoying the cool sea
breeze. They loaded and ran out their guns, and paddling off with an
empty tub in the cajack, placed it out at sea as a mark for practice.
They returned and fired, and the barrel flew in pieces, and then, with
a shout of triumph, they cleaned the guns and ran them in.
Scarcely had they done so when, as though in answer to their shots,
came the sound of three guns booming across the water from the
We stopped speechless. Was it fancy? Had we really heard guns from a
strange ship? Or had the boys again fired? No! there were the lads
leaping into their canoe, and paddling in hot haste toward us. They,
too, had heard the sound.
A tumult of feelings rushed over us--anxiety, joy, hope, doubt, each
in turn took possession of our minds. Was it a European vessel close
upon our shores, and were we about to be linked once more to civilized
life? Or did those sounds proceed from a Malay pirate, who would rob
and murder us? What was to be the result of meeting with our fellow
beings; were they to be friends who would help us, enemies who would
attack us, or would they prove unfortunate creatures in need of our
assistance? Who could tell?
Before we could express these thoughts in words the cajack had touched
the shore, and Jack and Franz were among us.
"Did you hear them? Did you hear them?" they gasped. "What shall we
do? Where shall we go?"
"O Fritz," continued my youngest son, "it must be a European ship. We
shall find her. We shall see our Fatherland once more," and in an
emotion of joy he grasped his brother's hands.
Till then I knew not what a craving for civilized life had been
aroused in the two young men by the appearance of their European
All eyes were turned toward me. What would I advise?
"At present," I said, "we can do nothing, for night is drawing on. We
must make what preparations we can, and pray for guidance."
In the greatest excitement we returned to the house, all talking
eagerly, and till late no one could be persuaded to retire to rest.
Few slept that night. The boys and I took it in turn to keep watch
from the veranda, lest more signals might be fired, or a hostile visit
might be paid us. But about midnight the wind began to rise, and