Part 2 out of 7
sweet voices, at the summit of the tree, singing the evening hymn, as if
to sanctify our future abode. They had climbed the tree, instead of
descending, and, filled with wonder and reverence at the sublime view
below them, had burst out into the hymn of thanksgiving to God.
I could not scold my dear boys, when they descended, but directed them
to assemble the animals, and to collect wood, to keep up fires during
the night, in order to drive away any wild beasts that might be near.
My wife then displayed her work,--complete harness for our two beasts
of burden, and, in return, I promised her we would establish ourselves
next day in the tree. Supper was now ready, one piece of the porcupine
was roasted by the fire, smelling deliciously; another piece formed a
rich soup; a cloth was spread on the turf; the ham, cheese, butter, and
biscuits, were placed upon it.
My wife first assembled the fowls, by throwing some grain to them, to
accustom them to the place. We soon saw the pigeons fly to roost on the
higher branches of the trees, while the fowls perched on the ladder; the
beasts we tied to the roots, close to us. Now, that our cares were over,
we sat down to a merry and excellent repast by moonlight. Then, after
the prayers of the evening, I kindled our watch-fires, and we all lay
down to rest in our hammocks. The boys were rather discontented, and
complained of their cramped position, longing for the freedom of their
beds of moss; but I instructed them to lie, as the sailors do,
diagonally, and swinging the hammock, and told them that brave Swiss
boys might sleep as the sailors of all nations were compelled to sleep.
After some stifled sighs and groans, all sank to rest except myself,
kept awake by anxiety for the safety of the rest.
* * * * *
My anxiety kept me awake till near morning, when, after a short sleep, I
rose, and we were soon all at work. My wife, after milking the cow and
goats, harnessed the cow and ass, and set out to search for drift-wood
for our use. In the mean time, I mounted the ladder with Fritz, and we
set to work stoutly, with axe and saw, to rid ourselves of all useless
branches. Some, about six feet above our foundation, I left, to suspend
our hammocks from, and others, a little higher, to support the roof,
which, at present, was to be merely sailcloth. My wife succeeded in
collecting us some boards and planks, which, with her assistance, and
the aid of the pulley, we hoisted up. We then arranged them on the level
branches close to each other, in such a manner as to form a smooth and
solid floor. I made a sort of parapet round, to prevent accidents. By
degrees, our dwelling began to assume a distinct form; the sailcloth was
raised over the high branches, forming a roof; and, being brought down
on each side, was nailed to the parapet. The immense trunk protected the
back of our apartment, and the front was open to admit the breeze from
the sea, which was visible from this elevation. We hoisted our hammocks
and blankets by the pulley, and suspended them; my son and I then
descended, and, as our day was not yet exhausted, we set about
constructing a rude table and some benches, from the remainder of our
wood, which we placed beneath the roots of the tree, henceforward to be
our dining-room. The little boys collected the chips and pieces of wood
for fire-wood; while their mamma prepared supper, which we needed much
after the extraordinary fatigues of this day.
The next day, however, being Sunday, we looked forward to as a day of
rest, of recreation, and thanksgiving to the great God who had
Supper was now ready, my wife took a large earthen pot from the fire,
which contained a good stew, made of the flamingo, which Ernest had told
her was an old bird, and would not be eatable, if dressed any other way.
His brothers laughed heartily, and called him the cook. He was, however,
quite right, the stew, well seasoned, was excellent, and we picked the
very bones. Whilst we were thus occupied, the living flamingo,
accompanying the rest of the fowls, and free from bonds, came in, quite
tame, to claim his share of the repast, evidently quite unsuspicious
that we were devouring his mate; he did not seem at all inclined to quit
us. The little monkey, too, was quite at home with the boys, leaping
from one to another for food, which he took in his forepaws, and ate
with such absurd mimicry of their actions, that he kept us in continual
convulsions of laughter. To augment our satisfaction, our great sow, who
had deserted us for two days, returned of her own accord, grunting her
joy at our re-union. My wife welcomed her with particular distinction,
treating her with all the milk we had to spare; for, as she had no dairy
utensils to make cheese and butter, it was best thus to dispose of our
superfluity. I promised her, on our next voyage to the ship, to procure
all these necessaries. This she could not, however, hear of, without
The boys now lighted the fires for the night. The dogs were tied to the
roots of the tree, as a protection against invaders, and we commenced
our ascent. My three eldest sons soon ran up the ladder, my wife
followed, with more deliberation, but arrived safely; my own journey was
more difficult, as, besides having to carry Francis on my back, I had
detached the lower part of the ladder from the roots, where it was
nailed; in order to be able to draw it up during the night. We were thus
as safe in our castle as the knights of old, when their drawbridge was
raised. We retired to our hammocks free from care, and did not wake till
the sun shone brightly in upon us.
* * * * *
Next morning, all awoke in good spirits; I told them that on this, the
Lord's day, we would do no work. That it was appointed, not only for a
day of rest, but a day when we must, as much as possible, turn our
hearts from the vanities of the world, to God himself; thank him,
worship him, and serve him. Jack thought we could not do this without a
church and a priest; but Ernest believed that God would hear our prayers
under his own sky, and papa could give them a sermon; Francis wished to
know if God would like to hear them sing the beautiful hymns mamma had
taught them, without an organ accompaniment.
"Yes, my dear children," said I, "God is everywhere; and to bless him,
to praise him in all his works, to submit to his holy will, and to obey
him,--is to serve him. But everything in its time. Let us first attend
to the wants of our animals, and breakfast, and we will then begin the
services of the day by a hymn."
We descended, and breakfasted on warm milk, fed our animals, and then,
my children and their mother seated on the turf, I placed myself on a
little eminence before them, and, after the service of the day, which I
knew by heart, and singing some portions of the 119th Psalm, I told them
a little allegory.
"There was once on a time a great king, whose kingdom was called the
Land of _Light_ and _Reality_, because there reigned there constant
light and incessant activity. On the most remote frontier of this
kingdom, towards the north, there was another large kingdom, equally
subject to his rule, and of which none but himself knew the immense
extent. From time immemorial, an exact plan of this kingdom had been
preserved in the archives. It was called the Land of Obscurity, or
_Night_, because everything in it was dark and inactive.
"In the most fertile and agreeable part of the empire of Reality, the
king had a magnificent residence, called _The Heavenly City_, where he
held his brilliant court. Millions of servants executed his
wishes--still more were ready to receive his orders. The first were
clothed in glittering robes, whiter than snow--for white was the colour
of the Great King, as the emblem of purity. Others were clothed in
armour, shining like the colours of the rainbow, and carried flaming
swords in their hands. Each, at his master's nod, flew like lightning to
accomplish his will. All his servants--faithful, vigilant, bold, and
ardent--were united in friendship, and could imagine no happiness
greater than the favour of their master. There were some, less elevated,
who were still good, rich, and happy in the favours of their sovereign,
to whom all his subjects were alike, and were treated by him as
"Not far from the frontiers, the Great King possessed a desert island,
which he desired to people and cultivate, in order to make it, for a
time, the abode of those of his subjects whom he intended to admit, by
degrees, into his _Heavenly City_--a favour he wished to bestow on the
greatest number possible.
"This island was called _Earthly Abode_; and he who had passed some time
there, worthily, was to be received into all the happiness of the
heavenly city. To attain this, the Great King equipped a fleet to
transport the colonists, whom he chose from the kingdom of _Night_, to
this island, where he gave them light and activity--advantages they had
not known before. Think how joyful their arrival would be! The island
was fertile when cultivated; and all was prepared to make the time pass
agreeably, till they were admitted to their highest honours.
"At the moment of embarkation, the Great King sent his own son, who
spoke thus to them in His name:--
"'My dear children, I have called you from inaction and insensibility to
render you happy by feeling, by action, by life. Never forget I am your
king, and obey my commands, by cultivating the country I confide to you.
Every one will receive his portion of land, and wise and learned men are
appointed to explain my will to you. I wish you all to acquire the
knowledge of my laws, and that every father should keep a copy, to read
daily to his children, that they may never be forgotten. And on the
first day of the week you must all assemble, as brothers, in one place,
to hear these laws read and explained. Thus it will be easy for every
one to learn the best method of improving his land, what to plant, and
how to cleanse it from the tares that might choke the good seed. All may
ask what they desire, and every reasonable demand will be granted, if it
be conformable to the great end.
"'If you feel grateful for these benefits, and testify it by increased
activity, and by occupying yourself on this day in expressing your
gratitude to me, I will take care this day of rest shall be a benefit,
and not a loss. I wish that all your useful animals, and even the wild
beasts of the plains, should on this day repose in peace.
"'He who obeys my commands in _Earthly Abode,_ shall receive a rich
reward in the _Heavenly City;_ but the idle, the negligent, and the
evil-disposed, shall be condemned to perpetual slavery, or to labour in
mines, in the bowels of the earth.
"'From time to time, I shall send ships, to bring away individuals, to
be rewarded or punished, as they have fulfilled my commands. None can
deceive me; a magic mirror will show me the actions and thoughts
"The colonists were satisfied, and eager to begin their labour. The
portions of land and instruments of labour were distributed to them,
with seeds, and useful plants, and fruit-trees. They were then left to
turn these good gifts to profit.
"But what followed? Every one did as he wished. Some planted their
ground with groves and gardens, pretty and useless. Others planted wild
fruit, instead of the good fruit the Great King had commanded. A third
had sowed good seed; but, not knowing the tares from the wheat, he had
torn up all before they reached maturity. But the most part left their
land uncultivated; they had lost their seeds, or spoiled their
implements. Many would not understand the orders of the great king; and
others tried, by subtlety, to evade them.
"A few laboured with courage, as they had been taught, rejoicing in the
hope of the promise given them. Their greatest danger was in the
disbelief of their teachers. Though every one had a copy of the law, few
read it; all were ready, by some excuse, to avoid this duty. Some
asserted they knew it, yet never thought on it: some called these the
laws of past times; not of the present. Other said the Great King did
not regard the actions of his subjects, that he had neither mines nor
dungeons, and that all would certainly be taken to the _Heavenly City_.
They began to neglect the duties of the day dedicated to the Great King.
Few assembled; and of these, the most part were inattentive, and did not
profit by the instruction given them.
"But the Great King was faithful to his word. From time to time,
frigates arrived, bearing the name of some disease. These were followed
by a large vessel called _The Grave_, bearing the terrible flag of the
Admiral _Death_; this flag was of two colours, green and black; and
appeared to the colonists, according to their state, the smiling colour
of _Hope_, or the gloomy hue of _Despa'r._
"This fleet always arrived unexpectedly, and was usually unwelcome. The
officers were sent out, by the admiral, to seize those he pointed out:
many who were unwilling were compelled to go; and others whose land was
prepared, and even the harvest ripening, were summoned; but these went
joyfully, sure that they went to happiness. The fleet being ready,
sailed for the _Heavenly City_. Then the Great King, in his justice,
awarded the punishments and recompenses. Excuses were now too late; the
negligent and disobedient were sent to labour in the dark mines; while
the faithful and obedient, arrayed in bright robes, were received into
their glorious abodes of happiness.
"I have finished my parable, my dear children; reflect on it, and profit
by it. Fritz, what do you think of it?"
"I am considering the goodness of the Great King, and the ingratitude of
his people," answered he.
"And how very foolish they were," said Ernest, "with a little prudence,
they might have kept their land in good condition, and secured a
pleasant life afterwards."
"Away with them to the mines!" cried Jack, "they richly deserved such a
"How much I should like," said Francis, "to see those soldiers in their
"I hope you will see them some day, my dear boy, if you continue to be
good and obedient." I then explained my parable fully, and applied the
moral to each of my sons directly.
"You, Fritz, should take warning from the people who planted wild fruit,
and wished to make them pass for good fruit. Such are those who are
proud of natural virtues, easy to exercise,--such as bodily strength,
or physical courage; and place these above the qualities which are only
attained by labour and patience.
"You, Ernest, must remember the subjects who laid out their land in
flowery gardens; like those who seek the pleasures of life, rather than
the duties. And you, my thoughtless Jack, and little Francis, think of
the fate of those who left their land untilled, or heedlessly sowed
tares for wheat. These are God's people who neither study nor reflect;
who cast to the winds all instruction, and leave room in their minds for
evil. Then let us all be, like the good labourers of the parable,
constantly cultivating our ground, that, when Death comes for us, we may
willingly follow him to the feet of the Great King, to hear these
blessed words: 'Good and faithful servants! enter into the joy of
This made a great impression on my children. We concluded by singing a
hymn. Then my good wife produced from her unfailing bag, a copy of the
Holy Scripture, from which I selected such passages as applied to our
situation; and explained them to my best ability. My boys remained for
some time thoughtful and serious, and though they followed their
innocent recreations during the day, they did not lose sight of the
useful lesson of the morning, but, by a more gentle and amiable manner,
showed that my words had taken effect.
The next morning, Ernest had used my bow, which I had given him, very
skilfully; bringing down some dozens of small birds, a sort of ortolan,
from the branches of our tree, where they assembled to feed on the figs.
This induced them all to wish for such a weapon. I was glad to comply
with their wishes, as I wished them to become skilful in the use of
these arms of our forefathers, which might be of great value to us, when
our ammunition failed. I made two bows; and two quivers, to contain
their arrows, of a flexible piece of bark, and, attaching a strap to
them, I soon armed my little archers.
Fritz was engaged in preparing the skin of the margay, with more care
than Jack had shown with that of the jackal. I showed him how to clean
it, by rubbing it with sand in the river, till no vestige of fat or
flesh was left; and then applying butter, to render it flexible.
These employments filled up the morning till dinner-time came. We had
Ernest's ortolans, and some fried ham and eggs, which made us a
sumptuous repast. I gave my boys leave to kill as many ortolans as they
chose, for I knew that, half-roasted, and put into casks, covered with
butter, they would keep for a length of time, and prove an invaluable
resource in time of need. As I continued my work, making arrows, and a
bow for Francis, I intimated to my wife that the abundant supply of figs
would save our grain, as the poultry and pigeons would feed on them, as
well as the ortolans. This was a great satisfaction to her. And thus
another day passed, and we mounted to our dormitory, to taste the sweet
slumber that follows a day of toil.
* * * * *
The next morning, all were engaged in archery: I completed the bow for
Francis, and at his particular request made him a quiver too. The
delicate bark of a tree, united by glue, obtained from our portable
soup, formed an admirable quiver; this I suspended by a string round the
neck of my boy, furnished with arrows; then taking his bow in his hand,
he was as proud as a knight armed at all points.
After dinner, I proposed that we should give names to all the parts of
our island known to us, in order that, by a pleasing delusion, we might
fancy ourselves in an inhabited country. My proposal was well received,
and then began the discussion of names. Jack wished for something
high-sounding and difficult, such as _Monomotapa_ or _Zanguebar_; very
difficult words, to puzzle any one that visited our island. But I
objected to this, as _we_ were the most likely to have to use the names
ourselves, and we should suffer from it. I rather suggested that we
should give, in our own language, such simple names as should point out
some circumstance connected with the spot. I proposed we should begin
with the bay where we landed, and called on Fritz for his name.
"_The Bay of Oysters_" said he,--"we found so many there."
"Oh, no!" said Jack, "let it be _Lobster Bay_; for there I was caught by
[Illustration: MAP OF THE HAPPY ISLAND.
A. Tent House.
B. First Grotto.
C. Second Grotto.
D. Falcon's Nest.
F. Family Bridge.
I. Shark's Island.
J. Cabbage Palms.
K. Rice Marsh.
O. Sugar Canes.
P. Gourd Wood.
Q. Acorn Wood.
R. Monkey Wood.
S. Sand Hills.
T. Coral Reefs.
U. Cotton Wood.
V. Flamingo Marsh.
W. Palm Cocoa Wood.
X. Potatoe Plantation.]
"Then we ought to call it the _Bay of Tears_," said Ernest, "to
commemorate those you shed on the occasion."
"My advice," said my wife, "is, that in gratitude to God we should name
it _Safety Bay_."
We were all pleased with this name, and proceeded to give the name of
_Tent House_ to our first abode; _Shark Island_, to the little island in
the bay, where we had found that animal; and, at Jack's desire, the
marshy spot where we had cut our arrows was named _Flamingo Marsh_.
There the height from which we had vainly sought traces of our
shipmates, received the name of _Cape Disappointment_. The river was to
be _Jackal River_, and the bridge, _Family Bridge_. The most difficult
point was, to name our present abode. At last we agreed on the name of
_Falcon's Nest_ (in German _Falken-hoist)_. This was received with
acclamations, and I poured out for my young nestlings each a glass of
sweet wine, to drink Prosperity to _Falcon's Nest_. We thus laid the
foundation of the geography of our new country, promising to forward it
to Europe by the first post.
After dinner, my sons returned to their occupation as tanners, Fritz to
complete his belt, and Jack to make a sort of cuirass, of the formidable
skin of the porcupine, to protect the dogs. He finished by making a sort
of helmet from the head of the animal, as strange as the cuirasses.
The heat of the day being over, we prepared to set out to walk to Tent
House, to renew our stock of provisions, and endeavour to bring the
geese and ducks to our new residence; but, instead of going by the
coast, we proposed to go up the river till we reached the chain of
rocks, and continue under their shade till we got to the cascade, where
we could cross, and return by Family Bridge.
This was approved, and we set out. Fritz, decorated with his beautiful
belt of skin, Jack in his porcupine helmet. Each had a gun and game-bag;
except Francis, who, with his pretty fair face, his golden hair, and his
bow and quiver, was a perfect Cupid. My wife was loaded with a large
butter-pot for a fresh supply. Turk walked before us with his coat of
mail, and Flora followed, peeping at a respectful distance from him, for
fear of the darts. _Knips_, as my boys called the monkey, finding this
new saddle very inconvenient, jumped off, with many contortions, but
soon fixed on Flora, who, not being able to shake him off, was compelled
to become his palfrey.
The road by the river was smooth and pleasant. When we reached the end
of the wood, the country seemed more open; and now the boys, who had
been rambling about, came running up, out of breath; Ernest was holding
a plant with leaves and flowers, and green apples hanging on it.
"Potatoes!" said he; "I am certain they are potatoes!"
"God be praised," said I; "this precious plant will secure provision for
"Well," said Jack, "if his superior knowledge discovered them, I will be
the first to dig them up;" and he set to work so ardently, that we had
soon a bag of fine ripe potatoes, which we carried on to Tent House.
* * * * *
We had been much delighted with the new and lovely scenery of our road:
the prickly cactus, and aloe, with its white flowers; the Indian fig;
the white and yellow jasmine; the fragrant vanilla, throwing round its
graceful festoons. Above all, the regal pineapple grew in profusion,
and we feasted on it, for the first time, with avidity.
Among the prickly stalks of the cactus and aloes, I perceived a plant
with large pointed leaves, which I knew to be the _karata_. I pointed
out to the boys its beautiful red flowers; the leaves are an excellent
application to wounds, and thread is made from the filaments, and the
pith of the stem is used by the savage tribes for tinder.
When I showed the boys, by experiment, the use of the pith, they thought
the _tinder-tree_ would be almost as useful as the potatoes.
"At all events," I said, "it will be more useful than the pine-apples;
your mother will be thankful for thread, when her enchanted bag is
"How happy it is for us," said she, "that you have devoted yourself to
reading and study. In our ignorance we might have passed this treasure,
without suspecting its value."
Fritz inquired of what use in the world all the rest of these prickly
plants could be, which wounded every one that came near.
"All these have their use, Fritz," said I; "some contain juices and
gums, which are daily made use of in medicine; others are useful in the
arts, or in manufactures. The Indian fig, for instance, is a most
interesting tree. It grows in the most arid soil. The fruit is said to
be sweet and wholesome."
In a moment, my little active Jack was climbing the rocks to gather some
of these figs; but he had not remarked that they were covered with
thousands of slender thorns, finer than the finest needles, which
terribly wounded his fingers. He returned, weeping bitterly and dancing
with pain. Having rallied him a little for his greediness, I extracted
the thorns, and then showed him how to open the fruit, by first cutting
off the pointed end, as it lay on the ground; into this I fixed a piece
of stick, and then pared it with my knife. The novelty of the expedient
recommended it, and they were soon all engaged eating the fruit, which
they declared was very good.
In the mean time, I saw Ernest examining one of the figs very
attentively. "Oh! papa!" said he, "what a singular sight; the fig is
covered with a small red insect. I cannot shake them off. Can they be
the _Cochineal_?" I recognized at once the precious insect, of which I
explained to my sons the nature and use. "It is with this insect," said
I, "that the beautiful and rich scarlet dye is made. It is found in
America, and the Europeans give its weight in gold for it."
Thus discoursing on the wonders of nature, and the necessity of
increasing our knowledge by observation and study, we arrived at Tent
House, and found it in the same state as we left it.
We all began to collect necessaries. Fritz loaded himself with powder
and shot, I opened the butter-cask, and my wife and little Francis
filled the pot. Ernest and Jack went to try and secure the geese and
ducks; but they had become so wild that it would have been impossible,
if Ernest had not thought of an expedient. He tied pieces of cheese, for
bait, to threads, which he floated on the water. The voracious creatures
immediately swallowed the cheese and were drawn out by the thread. They
were then securely tied, and fastened to the game-bags, to be carried
home on our backs. As the bait could not be recovered, the boys
contented themselves with cutting off the string close to the beak,
leaving them to digest the rest.
Our bags were already loaded with potatoes, but we filled up the spaces
between them with salt; and, having relieved Turk of his armour, we
placed the heaviest on his back. I took the butter-pot; and, after
replacing everything, and closing our tent, we resumed our march, with
our ludicrous incumbrances. The geese and ducks were very noisy in their
adieu to their old marsh; the dogs barked; and we all laughed so
excessively, that we forgot our burdens till we sat down again under our
tree. My wife soon had her pot of potatoes on the fire. She then milked
the cow and goat, while I set the fowls at liberty on the banks of the
river. We then sat down to a smoking dish of potatoes, a jug of milk,
and butter and cheese. After supper we had prayers, thanking God
especially for his new benefits; and we then sought our repose among
* * * * *
I had observed on the shore, the preceding day, a quantity of wood,
which I thought would suit to make a sledge, to convey our casks and
heavy stores from Tent House to Falcon's Nest. At dawn of day I woke
Ernest, whose inclination to indolence I wished to overcome, and leaving
the rest asleep, we descended, and harnessing the ass to a strong branch
of a tree that was lying near, we proceeded to the shore. I had no
difficulty in selecting proper pieces of wood; we sawed them the right
length, tied them together, and laid them across the bough, which the
patient animal drew very contentedly. We added to the load a small chest
we discovered half buried in the sand, and we returned homewards, Ernest
leading the ass, and I assisted by raising the load with a lever when we
met with any obstruction. My wife had been rather alarmed; but seeing
the result of our expedition, and hearing of the prospect of a sledge,
she was satisfied. I opened the chest, which contained only some
sailors' dresses and some linen, both wetted with sea-water; but likely
to be very useful as our own clothes decayed. I found Fritz and Jack had
been shooting ortolans; they had killed about fifty, but had consumed so
much powder and shot, that I checked a prodigality so imprudent in our
situation. I taught them to make snares for the birds of the threads we
drew from the karata leaves we had brought home. My wife and her two
younger sons busied themselves with these, while I, with my two elder
boys, began to construct the sledge. As we were working, we heard a
great noise among the fowls, and Ernest, looking about, discovered the
monkey seizing and hiding the eggs from the nests; he had collected a
good store in a hole among the roots, which Ernest carried to his
mother; and Knips was punished by being tied up, every morning, till the
eggs were collected.
Our work was interrupted by dinner, composed of ortolans, milk, and
cheese. After dinner, Jack had climbed to the higher branches of the
trees to place his snares, and found the pigeons were making nests. I
then told him to look often to the snares, for fear our own poor birds
should be taken; and, above all, never in future to fire into the tree.
"Papa," said little Francis, "can we not sow some gunpowder, and then we
shall have plenty?" This proposal was received with shouts of laughter,
which greatly discomposed the little innocent fellow. Professor Ernest
immediately seized the opportunity to give a lecture on the composition
At the end of the day my sledge was finished. Two long curved planks of
wood, crossed by three pieces, at a distance from each other, formed the
simple conveyance. The fore and hind parts were in the form of horns, to
keep the load from falling off. Two ropes were fastened to the front,
and my sledge was complete. My wife was delighted with it, and hoped I
would now set out immediately to Tent House for the butter-cask. I made
no objection to this; and Ernest and I prepared to go, and leave Fritz
in charge of the family.
* * * * *
When we were ready to set out, Fritz presented each of us with a little
case he had made from the skin of the margay. They were ingeniously
contrived to contain knife, fork, and spoon, and a small hatchet. We
then harnessed the ass and the cow to the sledge, took a flexible bamboo
cane for a whip, and, followed by Flora, we departed, leaving Turk to
guard the tree.
We went by the shore, as the better road for the sledge, and crossing
Family Bridge, were soon at Tent House. After unharnessing the animals,
we began to load. We took the cask of butter, the cheese, and the
biscuit; all the rest of our utensils, powder, shot, and Turk's armour,
which we had left there. These labours had so occupied us, that we had
not observed that our animals, attracted by the pasturage, had crossed
the bridge, and wandered out of sight. I sent Ernest to seek them, and
in the mean time went to the bay, where I discovered some convenient
little hollows in the rock, that seemed cut out for baths. I called
Ernest to come, and till he arrived, employed myself in cutting some
rushes, which I thought might be useful. When my son came, I found he
had ingeniously removed the first planks from the bridge, to prevent the
animals straying over again. We then had a very pleasant bath, and
Ernest being out first, I sent him to the rock, where the salt was
accumulated, to fill a small bag, to be transferred to the large bags on
the ass. He had not been absent long, when I heard him cry out, "Papa!
papa! a huge fish! I cannot hold it; it will break my line." I ran to
his assistance, and found him lying on the ground on his face, tugging
at his line, to which an enormous salmon was attached, that had nearly
pulled him into the water. I let it have a little more line, then drew
it gently into a shallow, and secured it. It appeared about fifteen
pounds weight; and we pleased ourselves with the idea of presenting this
to our good cook. Ernest said, he remembered having remarked how this
place swarmed with fish, and he took care to bring his rod with him; he
had taken about a dozen small fishes, which he had in his handkerchief,
before he was overpowered by the salmon. I cut the fishes open, and
rubbed the inside with salt, to preserve them; then placing them in a
small box on the sledge, and adding our bags of salt, we harnessed our
animals, and set off homewards.
When we were about half-way, Flora left us, and, by her barking, raised
a singular animal, which seemed to leap instead of ran. The irregular
bounds of the animal disconcerted my aim, and, though very near, I
missed it. Ernest was more fortunate; he fired at it, and killed it. It
was an animal about the size of a sheep, with the tail of a tiger; its
head and skin were like those of a mouse, ears longer than the hare;
there was a curious pouch on the belly; the fore legs were short, as if
imperfectly developed, and armed with strong claws, the hind legs long,
like a pair of stilts. After Ernest's pride of victory was a little
subdued, he fell back on his science, and began to examine his spoil.
"By its teeth," said he, "it should belong to the family of _rodentes_,
or gnawers; by its legs, to the _jumpers_; and by its pouch, to the
This gave me the right clue. "Then," said I, "this must be the animal
Cook first discovered in New Holland, and it is called the _kangaroo_."
We now tied the legs of the animal together, and, putting a stick
through, carried it to the sledge very carefully, for Ernest was anxious
to preserve the beautiful skin. Our animals were heavily laden; but,
giving them a little rest and some fresh grass, we once more started,
and in a short time reached Falcon's Nest.
My wife had been employed during our absence in washing the clothes of
the three boys, clothing them in the mean time from the sailor's chest
we had found a few days before. Their appearance was excessively
ridiculous, as the garments neither suited their age nor size, and
caused great mirth to us all; but my wife had preferred this disguise to
the alternative of their going naked.
We now began to display our riches, and relate our adventures. The
butter and the rest of the provisions were very welcome, the salmon
still more so, but the sight of the kangaroo produced screams of
admiration. Fritz displayed a little jealousy, but soon surmounted it by
an exertion of his nobler feelings; and only the keen eye of a father
could have discovered it. He congratulated Ernest warmly, but could not
help begging to accompany me next time.
"I promise you that," said I, "as a reward for the conquest you have
achieved over your jealousy of your brother. But, remember, I could not
have given you a greater proof of my confidence, than in leaving you to
protect your mother and brothers. A noble mind finds its purest joy in
the accomplishment of its duty, and to that willingly sacrifices its
inclination. But," I added, in a low tone, lest I should distress my
wife, "I propose another expedition to the vessel, and you must
We then fed our tired animals, giving them some salt with their grass, a
great treat to them. Some salmon was prepared for dinner, and the rest
salted. After dinner, I hung up the kangaroo till next day, when we
intended to salt and smoke the flesh. Evening arrived, and an excellent
supper of fish, ortolans, and potatoes refreshed us; and, after thanks
to God, we retired to rest.
* * * * *
I rose early, and descended the ladder, a little uneasy about my
kangaroo, and found I was but just in time to save it, for my dogs had
so enjoyed their repast on the entrails, which I had given them the
night before, that they wished to appropriate the rest. They had
succeeded in tearing off the head, which was in their reach, and were
devouring it in a sort of growling partnership. As we had no store-room
for our provision, I decided to administer a little correction, as a
warning to these gluttons. I gave them some smart strokes with a cane,
and they fled howling to the stable under the roots. Their cries roused
my wife, who came down; and, though she could not but allow the
chastisement to be just and prudent, she was so moved by compassion,
that she consoled the poor sufferers with some remains of last
I now carefully stripped the kangaroo of his elegant skin, and washing
myself, and changing my dress after this unpleasant operation, I joined
my family at breakfast. I then announced my plan of visiting the vessel,
and ordered Fritz to make preparations. My wife resigned herself
mournfully to the necessity. When we were ready to depart, Ernest and
Jack were not to be found; their mother suspected they had gone to get
potatoes. This calmed my apprehension; but I charged her to reprimand
them for going without leave. We set out towards Tent House, leaving
Flora to protect the household, and taking our guns as usual.
We had scarcely left the wood, and were approaching Jackal River, when
we heard piercing cries, and suddenly Ernest and Jack leaped from a
thicket, delighted, as Jack said, in having succeeded in their plan of
accompanying us, and, moreover, in making us believe we were beset with
savages. They were, however, disappointed. I gave them a severe reproof
for their disobedience, and sent them home with a message to their
mother that I thought we might be detained all night, and begged she
would not be uneasy.
They listened to me in great confusion, and were much mortified at
their dismissal; but I begged Fritz to give Ernest his silver watch,
that they might know how the time passed; and I knew that I could
replace it, as there was a case of watches in the ship. This reconciled
them a little to their lot, and they left us. We went forward to our
boat, embarked, and, aided by the current, soon reached the vessel.
My first care was to construct some more convenient transport-vessel
than our boat. Fritz proposed a raft, similar to those used by savage
nations, supported on skins filled with air. These we had not; but we
found a number of water-hogsheads, which we emptied, and closed again,
and threw a dozen of them into the sea, between the ship and our boat.
Some long planks were laid on these, and secured with ropes. We added a
raised edge of planks to secure our cargo, and thus had a solid raft,
capable of conveying any burden. This work occupied us the whole day,
scarcely interrupted by eating a little cold meat from our game-bags.
Exhausted by fatigue, we were glad to take a good night's rest in the
captain's cabin on an elastic mattress, of which our hammocks had made
us forget the comfort. Early next morning we began to load our raft.
We began by entirely stripping our own cabin and that of the captain. We
carried away even the doors and windows. The chests of the carpenter and
the gunner followed. There were cases of rich jewellery, and caskets of
money, which at first tempted us, but were speedily relinquished for
objects of real utility. I preferred a case of young plants of European
fruits, carefully packed in moss for transportation. I saw, with
delight, among these precious plants, apple, pear, plum, orange,
apricot, peach, almond, and chesnut trees, and some young shoots of
vines. How I longed to plant these familiar trees of home in a foreign
soil. We secured some bars of iron and pigs of lead, grindstones,
cart-wheels ready for mounting, tongs, shovels, plough-shares, packets
of copper and iron wire, sacks of maize, peas, oats, and vetches; and
even a small hand-mill. The vessel had been, in fact, laden with
everything likely to be useful in a new colony. We found a saw-mill in
pieces, but marked, so that it could be easily put together. It was
difficult to select, but we took as much as was safe on the raft, adding
a large fishing-net and the ship's compass. Fritz begged to take the
harpoons, which he hung by the ropes over the bow of our boat; and I
indulged his fancy. We were now loaded as far as prudence would allow
us; so, attaching our raft firmly to the boat, we hoisted our sail, and
made slowly to the shore.
* * * * *
The wind was favourable, but we advanced slowly, the floating mass that
we had to tug retarding us. Fritz had been some time regarding a large
object in the water; he called me to steer a little towards it, that he
might see what it was. I went to the rudder, and made the movement;
immediately I heard the whistling of the cord, and felt a shock; then a
second, which was followed by a rapid motion of the boat.
"We are going to founder!" cried I. "What is the matter?"
"I have caught it," shouted Fritz; "I have harpooned it in the neck. It
is a turtle."
I saw the harpoon shining at a distance, and the turtle was rapidly
drawing us along by the line. I lowered the sail, and rushed forward to
cut the line; but Fritz besought me not to do it. He assured me there
was no danger, and that he himself would release us if necessary. I
reluctantly consented, and saw our whole convoy drawn by an animal whose
agony increased its strength. As we drew near the shore, I endeavoured
to steer so that we might not strike and be capsized. I saw after a few
minutes that our conductor again wanted to make out to sea; I therefore
hoisted the sail, and the wind being in our favour, he found resistance
vain, and, tugging as before, followed up the current, only taking more
to the left, towards Falcon's Nest, and landing us in a shallow, rested
on the shore. I leaped out of the boat, and with a hatchet soon put our
powerful conductor out of his misery.
Fritz uttered a shout of joy, and fired off his gun, as a signal of our
arrival. All came running to greet us, and great was their surprise, not
only at the value of our cargo, but at the strange mode by which it had
been brought into harbour. My first care was to send them for the
sledge, to remove some of our load without delay, and as the ebbing tide
was leaving our vessels almost dry on the sand, I profited by the
opportunity to secure them. By the aid of the jack-screw and levers, we
raised and brought to the shore two large pieces of lead from the raft.
These served for anchors and, connected to the boat and raft by strong
cables, fixed them safely.
As soon as the sledge arrived, we placed the turtle with some difficulty
on it, as it weighed at least three hundredweight. We added some lighter
articles, the mattresses, some small chests, &c., and proceeded with our
first load to Falcon's Nest in great spirits. As we walked on, Fritz
told them of the wondrous cases of jewellery we had abandoned for things
of use; Jack wished Fritz had brought him a gold snuff-box, to hold
curious seeds; and Francis wished for some of the money to buy
gingerbread at the fair! Everybody laughed at the little simpleton, who
could not help laughing himself, when he remembered his distance from
fairs. Arrived at home, our first care was to turn the turtle on his
back, to get the excellent meat out of the shell. With my hatchet I
separated the cartilages that unite the shells: the upper shell is
convex, the lower one nearly flat.
We had some of the turtle prepared for dinner, though my wife felt great
repugnance in touching the green fat, notwithstanding my assurance of
its being the chief delicacy to an epicure.
We salted the remainder of the flesh, and gave the offal to the dogs.
The boys were all clamorous to possess the shell; but I said it belonged
to Fritz, by right of conquest, and he must dispose of it as he
"Then," said he, "I will make a basin of it, and place it near the
river, that my mother may always keep it full of fresh water."
"Very good," said I, "and we will fill our basin, as soon as we find
some clay to make a solid foundation."
"I found some this morning," said Jack,--"a whole bed of clay, and I
brought these balls home to show you."
"And I have made a discovery too," said Ernest. "Look at these roots,
like radishes; I have not eaten any, but the sow enjoys them very much."
"A most valuable discovery, indeed," said I; "if I am not mistaken, this
is the root of the _manioc_, which with the potatoes will insure us from
famine. Of this root they make in the West Indies a sort of bread,
called cassava bread. In its natural state it contains a violent poison,
but by a process of heating it becomes wholesome. The nutritious tapioca
is a preparation from this root."
By this time we had unloaded, and proceeded to the shore to bring a
second load before night came on. We brought up two chests of our own
clothes and property, some chests of tools, the cart-wheels, and the
hand-mill, likely now to be of use for the cassava. After unloading, we
sat down to an excellent supper of turtle, with potatoes, instead of
bread. After supper, my wife said, smiling, "After such a hard day, I
think I can give you something to restore you." She then brought a
bottle and glasses, and filled us each a glass of clear, amber-coloured
wine. I found it excellent Malaga. She had been down to the shore the
previous day, and there found a small cask thrown up by the waves. This,
with the assistance of her sons, she had rolled up to the foot of our
tree, and there covered it with leaves to keep it cool till our arrival.
We were so invigorated by this cordial, that we set briskly to work to
hoist up our mattresses to our dormitory, which we accomplished by the
aid of ropes and pulleys. My wife received and arranged them, and after
our usual evening devotions, we gladly lay down on them, to enjoy a
night of sweet repose.
* * * * *
I rose before daylight, and, leaving my family sleeping, descended, to
go to the shore to look after my vessels. I found all the animals
moving. The dogs leaped about me; the cocks were crowing; the goats
browsing on the dewy grass. The ass alone was sleeping; and, as he was
the assistant I wanted, I was compelled to rouse him, a preference which
did not appear to flatter him. Nevertheless, I harnessed him to the
sledge, and, followed by the dogs, went forward to the coast, where I
found my boat and raft safe at anchor. I took up a moderate load and
came home to breakfast; but found all still as I left them. I called my
family, and they sprung up ashamed of their sloth; my wife declared it
must have been the good mattress that had charmed her.
I gave my boys a short admonition for their sloth. We then came down to
a hasty breakfast, and returned to the coast to finish the unloading the
boats, that I might, at high water, take them round to moor at the usual
place in the Bay of Safety. I sent my wife up with the last load, while
Fritz and I embarked, and, seeing Jack watching us, I consented that he
should form one of the crew, for I had determined to make another visit
to the wreck before I moored my craft. When we reached the vessel, the
day was so far advanced that we had only time to collect hastily
anything easy to embark. My sons ran over the ship. Jack came trundling
a wheelbarrow, which he said would be excellent for fetching the
But Fritz brought me good news: he had found, between decks, a beautiful
pinnace (a small vessel, of which the prow is square), taken to pieces,
with all its fittings, and even two small guns. I saw that all the
pieces were numbered, and placed in order; nothing was wanting. I felt
the importance of this acquisition; but it would take days of labour to
put it together; and then how could we launch it? At present, I felt I
must renounce the undertaking. I returned to my loading. It consisted of
all sorts of utensils: a copper boiler, some plates of iron,
tobacco-graters, two grindstones, a barrel of powder, and one of flints.
Jack did not forget his wheelbarrow; and we found two more, which we
added to our cargo, and then sailed off speedily, to avoid the
land-wind, which rises in the evening.
As we drew near, we were astonished to see a row of little creatures
standing on the shore, apparently regarding us with much curiosity. They
were dressed in black, with white waistcoats, and thick cravats; their
arms hung down carelessly; but from time to time they raised them as if
they wished to bestow on us a fraternal embrace.
"I believe," said I, laughing, "this must be the country of pigmies,
and they are coming to welcome us."
"They are the Lilliputians, father," said Jack; "I have read of them;
but I thought they had been less."
"As if Gulliver's Travels was true!" said Fritz, in a tone of derision.
"Then are there no pigmies?" asked he.
"No, my dear boy," said I; "all these stories are either the invention
or the mistakes of ancient navigators, who have taken troops of monkeys
for men, or who have wished to repeat something marvellous. But the
romance of Gulliver is an allegory, intended to convey great truths."
"And now," said Fritz, "I begin to see our pigmies have beaks and
"You are right," said I; "they are penguins, as Ernest explained to us
some time since. They are good swimmers; but, unable to fly, are very
helpless on land."
I steered gently to the shore, that I might not disturb them; but Jack
leaped into the water up to his knees, and, dashing among the penguins,
with a stick struck right and left, knocking down half a dozen of the
poor stupid birds before they were aware. Some of these we brought away
alive. The rest, not liking such a reception, took to the water, and
were soon out of sight. I scolded Jack for his useless rashness, for the
flesh of the penguin is by no means a delicacy.
We now filled our three wheelbarrows with such things as we could
carry, not forgetting the sheets of iron and the graters, and trudged
home. Our dogs announced our approach, and all rushed out to meet us. A
curious and merry examination commenced. They laughed at my graters; but
I let them laugh, for I had a project in my head. The penguins I
intended for our poultry-yard; and, for the present, I ordered the boys
to tie each of them by a leg to one of our geese or ducks, who opposed
the bondage very clamorously; but necessity made them submissive.
My wife showed me a large store of potatoes and manioc roots, which she
and her children had dug up the evening before. We then went to supper,
and talked of all we had seen in the vessel, especially of the pinnace,
which we had been obliged to leave. My wife did not feel much regret on
this account, as she dreaded maritime expeditions, though she agreed she
might have felt less uneasiness if we had had a vessel of this
description. I gave my sons a charge to rise early next morning, as we
had an important business on hand; and curiosity roused them all in very
good time. After our usual preparations for the day, I addressed them
thus: "Gentlemen, I am going to teach you all a new business,--that of a
baker. Give me the plates of iron and the graters we brought yesterday."
My wife was astonished; but I requested her to wait patiently and she
should have bread, not perhaps light buns, but eatable flat cakes. But
first she was to make me two small bags of sailcloth. She obeyed me;
but, at the same time, I observed she put the potatoes on the fire, a
proof she had not much faith in my bread-making. I then spread a cloth
over the ground, and, giving each of the boys a grater, we began to
grate the carefully-washed manioc roots, resting the end on the cloth.
In a short time we had a heap of what appeared to be moist white
sawdust; certainly not tempting to the appetite; but the little workmen
were amused with their labour, and jested no little about the cakes made
of scraped radishes.
"Laugh now, boys," said I; "we shall see, after a while. But you,
Ernest, ought to know that the manioc is one of the most precious of
alimentary roots, forming the principal sustenance of many nations of
America, and often preferred by Europeans, who inhabit those countries,
to wheaten bread."
When all the roots were grated, I filled the two bags closely with the
pollard, and my wife sewed the ends up firmly. It was now necessary to
apply strong pressure to extract the juice from the root, as this juice
is a deadly poison. I selected an oak beam, one end of which we fixed
between the roots of our tree; beneath this I placed our bags on a row
of little blocks of wood; I then took a large bough, which I had cut
from a tree, and prepared for the purpose, and laid it across them. We
all united then in drawing down the opposite end of the plank over the
bough, till we got it to a certain point, when we suspended to it the
heaviest substances we possessed; hammers, bars of iron, and masses of
lead. This acting upon the manioc, the sap burst through the cloth, and
flowed on the ground copiously. When I thought the pressure was
complete, we relieved the bags from the lever, and opening one, drew out
a handful of the pollard, still rather moist, resembling coarse
"It only wants a little heat to complete our success," said I, in great
delight. I ordered a fire to be lighted, and fixing one of our iron
plates, which was round in form, and rather concave, on two stones
placed on each side of the fire, I covered it with the flour which we
took from the bag with a small wooden shovel. It soon formed a solid
cake, which we turned, that it might be equally baked.
It smelled so good, that they all wished to commence eating immediately;
and I had some difficulty in convincing them that this was only a trial,
and that our baking was still imperfect. Besides, as I told them there
were three kinds of manioc, of which one contained more poison than the
rest, I thought it prudent to try whether we had perfectly extracted it,
by giving a small quantity to our fowls. As soon, therefore, as the cake
was cold, I gave some to two chickens, which I kept apart; and also some
to Master Knips, the monkey, that he might, for the first time, do us a
little service. He ate it with so much relish, and such grimaces of
enjoyment, that my young party were quite anxious to share his feast;
but I ordered them to wait till we could judge of the effect, and,
leaving our employment, we went to our dinner of potatoes, to which my
wife had added one of the penguins, which was truly rather tough and
fishy; but as Jack would not allow this, and declared it was a dish fit
for a king, we allowed him to regale on it as much as he liked. During
dinner, I talked to them of the various preparations made from the
manioc; I told my wife we could obtain an excellent starch from the
expressed juice; but this did not interest her much, as at present she
usually wore the dress of a sailor, for convenience, and had neither
caps nor collars to starch.
The cake made from the root is called by the natives of the Antilles
_cassava_, and in no savage nation do we find any word signifying
_bread_; an article of food unknown to them.
We spoke of poisons; and I explained to my sons the different nature and
effects of them. Especially I warned them against the _manchineel_,
which ought to grow in this part of the world. I described the fruit to
them, as resembling a tempting yellow apple, with red spots, which is
one of the most deadly poisons: it is said that even to sleep under the
tree is dangerous. I forbade them to taste any unknown fruit, and they
promised to obey me.
On leaving the table, we went to visit the victims of our experiment.
Jack whistled for Knips, who came in three bounds from the summit of a
high tree, where he had doubtless been plundering some nest; and his
vivacity, and the peaceful cackling of the fowls, assured us our
preparation was harmless.
"Now, gentlemen," said I, laughing, "to the bakehouse, and let us see
what we can do." I wished them each to try to make the cakes. They
immediately kindled the fire and heated the iron plate. In the mean
time, I broke up the grated cassava, and mixed it with a little milk;
and giving each of them a cocoa-nut basin filled with the paste, I
showed them how to pour it with a spoon upon the plate, and spread it
about; when the paste began to puff up, I judged it was baked on one
side, and turned it, like a pancake, with a fork; and after a little
time, we had a quantity of nice yellow biscuits, which, with a jug of
milk, made us a delicious collation; and determined us, without delay,
to set about cultivating the manioc.
The rest of the day was employed in bringing up the remainder of our
cargo, by means of the sledge and the useful wheelbarrows.
* * * * *
The next morning I decided on returning to the wreck. The idea of the
pinnace continually haunted my mind, and left me no repose. But it was
necessary to take all the hands I could raise, and with difficulty I got
my wife's consent to take my three elder sons, on promising her we would
return in the evening. We set out, taking provision for the day, and
soon arrived at the vessel, when my boys began to load the raft with all
manner of portable things. But the great matter was the pinnace. It was
contained in the after-hold of the vessel, immediately below the
officers' berths. My sons, with all the ardour of their age, begged to
begin by clearing a space in the vessel to put the pinnace together, and
we might afterwards think how we should launch it. Under any other
circumstances I should have shown them the folly of such an undertaking;
but in truth, I had myself a vague hope of success, that encouraged me,
and I cried out, "To work! to work!" The hold was lighted by some chinks
in the ship's side. We set diligently to work, hacking, cutting, and
sawing away all obstacles, and before evening we had a clear space round
us. But now it was necessary to return, and we put to sea with our
cargo, purposing to continue our work daily. On reaching the Bay of
Safety, we had the pleasure of finding my wife and Francis, who had
established themselves at Tent House, intending to continue there till
our visits to the vessel were concluded; that they might always keep us
in sight, and spare us the unnecessary labour of a walk after our
I thanked my wife tenderly for this kind sacrifice, for I knew how much
she enjoyed the cool shade of Falcon's Nest; and in return I showed her
the treasures we had brought her from the vessel, consisting of two
barrels of salt butter, three hogsheads of flour, several bags of
millet, rice, and other grains, and a variety of useful household
articles, which she conveyed with great delight to our storehouse in
For a week we spent every day in the vessel, returning in the evening to
enjoy a good supper, and talk of our progress; and my wife, happily
engrossed with her poultry and other household cares, got accustomed to
our absence. With much hard labour, the pinnace was at last put
together. Its construction was light and elegant, it looked as if it
would sail well; at the head was a short half-deck; the masts and sails
were like those of a brigantine. We carefully caulked all the seams with
tow dipped in melted tar; and we even indulged ourselves by placing the
two small guns in it, fastened by chains.
And there stood the beautiful little bark, immovable on the stocks. We
admired it incessantly; but what could we do to get it afloat? The
difficulty of forcing a way through the mighty timbers lined with
copper, that formed the side of the ship, was insurmountable.
Suddenly, suggested by the excess of my despair, a bold but dangerous
idea presented itself to me, in which all might be lost, as well as all
gained. I said nothing about this to my children, to avoid the vexation
of a possible disappointment, but began to execute my plan.
I found a cast-iron mortar, exactly fitted for my purpose, which I
filled with gunpowder. I then took a strong oak plank to cover it, to
which I fixed iron hooks, so that they could reach the handles of the
mortar. I cut a groove in the side of the plank, that I might introduce
a long match, which should burn at least two hours before it reached the
powder. I placed the plank then over the mortar, fastened the hooks
through the handles, surrounded it with pitch, and then bound some
strong chains round the whole, to give it greater solidity. I proceeded
to suspend this infernal machine against the side of the ship near our
work, taking care to place it where the recoil from the explosion should
not injure the pinnace. When all was ready, I gave the signal of
departure, my sons having been employed in the boat, and not observing
my preparations. I remained a moment to fire the match, and then hastily
joined them with a beating heart, and proceeded to the shore.
As soon as we reached our harbour, I detached the raft, that I might
return in the boat as soon as I heard the explosion. We began actively
to unload the boat, and while thus employed, a report like thunder was
heard. All trembled, and threw down their load in terror.
"What can it be?" cried they. "Perhaps a signal from some vessel in
distress. Let us go to their assistance."
"It came from the vessel," said my wife. "It must have blown up. You
have not been careful of fire; and have left some near a barrel of
"At all events," said I, "we will go and ascertain the cause. Who'll go
By way of reply, my three sons leaped into the boat, and consoling the
anxious mother by a promise to return immediately, away we rowed. We
never made the voyage so quickly. Curiosity quickened the movements of
my sons, and I was all impatience to see the result of my project. As we
approached, I was glad to see no appearance of flames, or even smoke.
The position of the vessel did not seem altered. Instead of entering the
vessel as usual, we rounded the prow, and came opposite the other side.
The greater part of the side of the ship was gone. The sea was covered
with the remains of it. In its place stood our beautiful pinnace, quite
uninjured, only leaning a little over the stocks. At the sight I cried
out, in a transport that amazed my sons, "Victory! victory! the charming
vessel is our own; it will be easy now to launch her."
"Ah! I comprehend now," said Fritz. "Papa has blown up the ship; but how
could you manage to do it so exactly?"
I explained all to him, as we entered through the broken side of the
devoted vessel. I soon ascertained that no fire remained; and that the
pinnace had escaped any injury. We set to work to clear away all the
broken timbers in our way, and, by the aid of the jack-screw and
levers, we moved the pinnace, which we had taken care to build on
rollers, to the opening; then attaching a strong cable to her head, and
fixing the other end to the most solid part of the ship, we easily
launched her. It was too late to do any more now, except carefully
securing our prize. And we returned to the good mother, to whom, wishing
to give her an agreeable surprise, we merely said, that the side of the
vessel was blown out with powder; but we were still able to obtain more
from it; at which she sighed, and, in her heart, I have no doubt, wished
the vessel, and all it contained, at the bottom of the sea.
We had two days of incessant labour in fitting and loading the pinnace;
finally, after putting up our masts, ropes, and sails, we selected a
cargo of things our boats could not bring. When all was ready, my boys
obtained permission, as a reward for their industry, to salute their
mamma, as we entered the bay, by firing our two guns. Fritz was captain,
and Ernest and Jack, at his command, put their matches to the guns, and
fired. My wife and little boy rushed out in alarm; but our joyful shouts
soon re-assured them; and they were ready to welcome us with
astonishment and delight. Fritz placed a plank from the pinnace to the
shore, and, assisting his mother, she came on board. They gave her a new
salute, and christened the vessel _The Elizabeth,_ after her.
My wife praised our skill and perseverance, but begged we would not
suppose that Francis and she had been idle during our long absence. We
moored the little fleet safely to the shore, and followed her up the
river to the cascade, where we saw a neat garden laid out in beds
"This is our work," said she; "the soil here, being chiefly composed of
decayed leaves, is light and easy to dig. There I have my potatoes;
there manioc roots: these are sown with peas, beans and lentils; in this
row of beds are sown lettuces, radishes, cabbages, and other European
vegetables. I have reserved one part for sugar-canes; on the high ground
I have transplanted pine-apples, and sown melons. Finally, round every
bed, I have sown a border of maize, that the high, bushy stems may
protect the young plants from the sun."
I was delighted with the result of the labour and industry of a delicate
female and a child, and could scarcely believe it was accomplished in so
short a time.
"I must confess I had no great hope of success at first," said my wife,
"and this made me averse to speaking of it. Afterwards, when I suspected
you had a secret, I determined to have one, too, and give you a
After again applauding these useful labours, we returned to discharge
our cargo; and as we went, my good Elizabeth, still full of
horticultural plans, reminded me of the young fruit-trees we had brought
from the vessel. I promised to look after them next day, and to
establish my orchard near her kitchen-garden.
We unloaded our vessels; placed on the sledge all that might be useful
at Falcon's Nest; and, arranging the rest under the tent, fixed our
pinnace to the shore, by means of the anchor and a cord fastened to a
heavy stone; and at length set out to Falcon's Nest, where we arrived
soon, to the great comfort of my wife, who dreaded the burning plain at
* * * * *
After our return to Falcon's Nest, I requested my sons to continue their
exercises in gymnastics. I wished to develope all the vigour and energy
that nature had given them; and which, in our situation, were especially
necessary. I added to archery, racing, leaping, wrestling, and climbing
trees, either by the trunks, or by a rope suspended from the branches,
as sailors climb. I next taught them to use the _lasso_, a powerful
weapon, by aid of which the people of South America capture savage
animals. I fixed two balls of lead to the ends of a cord about a fathom
in length. The Patagonians, I told them, used this weapon with wonderful
dexterity. Having no leaden balls, they attach a heavy stone to each end
of a cord about thirty yards long. If they wish to capture an animal,
they hurl one of the stones at it with singular address. By the peculiar
art with which the ball is thrown, the rope makes a turn or two round
the neck of the animal, which remains entangled, without the power of
escaping. In order to show the power of this weapon, I took aim at the
trunk of a tree which they pointed out. My throw was quite successful.
The end of the rope passed two or three times round the trunk of the
tree, and remained firmly fixed to it. If the tree had been the neck of
a tiger, I should have been absolute master of it. This experiment
decided them all to learn the use of the lasso. Fritz was soon skilful
in throwing it, and I encouraged the rest to persevere in acquiring the
same facility, as the weapon might be invaluable to us when our
The next morning I saw, on looking out, that the sea was too much
agitated for any expedition in the boats; I therefore turned to some
home employments. We looked over our stores for winter provision. My
wife showed me a cask of ortolans she had preserved in butter, and a
quantity of loaves of cassava bread, carefully prepared. She pointed
out, that the pigeons had built in the tree, and were sitting on their
eggs. We then looked over the young fruit-trees brought from Europe, and
my sons and I immediately laid out a piece of ground, and planted them.
The day passed in these employments; and as we had lived only on
potatoes, cassava bread, and milk for this day, we determined to go off
next morning in pursuit of game to recruit our larder. At dawn of day we
all started, including little Francis and his mother, who wished to take
this opportunity of seeing a little more of the country. My sons and I
took our arms, I harnessed the ass to the sledge which contained our
provision for the day, and was destined to bring back the products of
the chase. Turk, accoutred in his coat of mail, formed the advanced
guard; my sons followed with their guns; then came my wife with Francis
leading the ass; and at a little distance I closed the procession, with
Master Knips mounted on the patient Flora.
We crossed Flamingo Marsh, and there my wife was charmed with the
richness of the vegetation and the lofty trees. Fritz left us, thinking
this a favourable spot for game. We soon heard the report of his gun,
and an enormous bird fell a few paces from us. I ran to assist him, as
he had much difficulty in securing his prize, which was only wounded in
the wing, and was defending itself vigorously with its beak and claws. I
threw a handkerchief over its head, and, confused by the darkness, I had
no difficulty in binding it, and conveying it in triumph to the sledge.
We were all in raptures at the sight of this beautiful creature, which
Ernest pronounced to be a female of the bustard tribe. My wife hoped
that the bird might be domesticated among her poultry, and, attracting
some more of its species, might enlarge our stock of useful fowls. We
soon arrived at the Wood of Monkeys, as we called it, where we had
obtained our cocoa-nuts; and Fritz related the laughable scene of the
stratagem to his mother and brothers. Ernest looked up wistfully at the
nuts, but there were no monkeys to throw them down.
"Do they never fall from the trees?" and hardly had he spoken, when a
large cocoa-nut fell at his feet, succeeded by a second, to my great
astonishment, for I saw no animal in the tree, and I was convinced the
nuts in the half-ripe state, as these were, could not fall of
"It is exactly like a fairy tale," said Ernest; "I had only to speak,
and my wish was accomplished."
"And here comes the magician," said I, as, after a shower of nuts, I saw
a huge land-crab descending the tree quietly, and quite regardless of
our presence. Jack boldly struck a blow at him, but missed, and the
animal, opening its enormous claws, made up to its opponent, who fled in
terror. But the laughter of his brothers made him ashamed, and recalling
his courage, he pulled off his coat, and threw it over the back of the
crab; this checked its movements, and going to his assistance, I killed
it with a blow of my hatchet.
They all crowded round the frightful animal, anxious to know what it
was. I told them it was a land-crab--which we might call the _cocoa-nut
crab,_ as we owed such a store to it. Being unable to break the shell of
the nut, of which they are very fond, they climb the tree, and break
them off, in the unripe state. They then descend to enjoy their feast,
which they obtain by inserting their claw through the small holes in the
end, and abstracting the contents. They sometimes find them broken by
the fall, when they can eat them at pleasure.
The hideousness of the animal, and the mingled terror and bravery of
Jack, gave us subject of conversation for some time. We placed our booty
on the sledge, and continued to go on through the wood. Our path became
every instant more intricate, from the amazing quantity of creeping
plants which choked the way, and obliged us to use the axe continually.
The heat was excessive, and we got on slowly, when Ernest, always
observing, and who was a little behind us, cried out, "Halt! a new and
important discovery!" We returned, and he showed us, that from the stalk
of one of the creepers we had cut with our axe, there was issuing clear,
pure water. It was the _liane rouge_, which, in America, furnishes
the hunter such a precious resource against thirst. Ernest was much
pleased; he filled a cocoa-nut cup with the water, which flowed from the
cut stalks like a fountain, and carried it to his mother, assuring her
she might drink fearlessly; and we all had the comfort of allaying our
thirst, and blessing the Gracious Hand who has placed this refreshing
plant in the midst of the dry wilderness for the benefit of man.
[Illustration: "Suddenly we saw Ernest running to us, in great terror,
crying, 'A wild boar, papa! a great wild boar!'"]
We now marched on with more vigour, and soon arrived at the Gourd Wood,
where my wife and younger sons beheld with wonder the growth of this
remarkable fruit. Fritz repeated all the history of our former attempts,
and cut some gourds to make his mother some egg-baskets, and a large
spoon to cream the milk. But we first sat down under the shade, and took
some refreshment; and afterwards, while we all worked at making baskets,
bowls, and flasks, Ernest, who had no taste for such labour, explored
the wood. Suddenly we saw him running to us, in great terror, crying, "A
wild boar! Papa; a great wild boar!" Fritz and I seized our guns, and
ran to the spot he pointed out, the dogs preceding us. We soon heard
barking and loud grunting, which proved the combat had begun, and,
hoping for a good prize, we hastened forward; when, what was our
vexation, when we found the dogs holding by the ears, not a wild boar,
but our own great sow, whose wild and intractable disposition had
induced her to leave us, and live in the woods! We could not but laugh
at our disappointment, after a while, and I made the dogs release the
poor sow, who immediately resumed her feast on a small fruit, which had
fallen from the trees, and, scattered on the ground, had evidently
tempted the voracious beast to this part. I took up one of these apples,
which somewhat resembled a medlar, and opening it, found the contents of
a rich and juicy nature, but did not venture to taste it till we had put
it to the usual test. We collected a quantity--I even broke a loaded
branch from the tree, and we returned to our party. Master Knips no
sooner saw them than he seized on some, and crunched them up with great
enjoyment. This satisfied me that the fruit was wholesome, and we
regaled ourselves with some. My wife was especially delighted when I
told her this must be the guava, from which the delicious jelly is
obtained, so much prized in America.
"But, with all this," said Fritz, "we have a poor show of game. Do let
us leave mamma with the young ones, and set off, to see what we can
I consented, and we left Ernest with his mother and Francis, Jack
wishing to accompany us. We made towards the rocks at the right hand,
and Jack preceded us a little, when he startled us by crying out, "A
crocodile, papa!--a crocodile!"
"You simpleton!" said I, "a crocodile in a place where there is not a
drop of water!"
"Papa!--I see it!" said the poor child, his eyes fixed on one spot; "it
is there, on this rock, sleeping. I am sure it is a crocodile!"
As soon as I was near enough to distinguish it, I assured him his
crocodile was a very harmless lizard, called the _iguana_, whose eggs
and flesh were excellent food. Fritz would immediately have shot at this
frightful creature, which was about five feet in length. I showed him
that his scaly coat rendered such an attempt useless. I then cut a
strong stick and a light wand. To the end of the former I attached a
cord with a noose; this I held in my right hand, keeping the wand in my
left. I approached softly, whistling. The animal awoke, apparently
listening with pleasure. I drew nearer, tickling him gently with the
wand. He lifted up his head, and opened his formidable jaws. I then
dexterously threw the noose round his neck, drew it, and, jumping on his
back, by the aid of my sons, held him down, though he succeeded in
giving Jack a desperate blow with his tail. Then, plunging my wand up
his nostrils, a few drops of blood came, and he died apparently
We now carried off our game. I took him on my back, holding him by the
fore-claws, while my boys carried the tail behind me; and, with shouts
of laughter, the procession returned to the sledge.
Poor little Francis was in great dismay when he saw the terrible monster
we brought, and began to cry; but we rallied him out of his cowardice,
and his mother, satisfied with our exploits, begged to return home. As
the sledge was heavily laden, we decided to leave it till the next day,
placing on the ass, the iguana, the crab, our gourd vessels, and a bag
of the guavas, little Francis being also mounted. The bustard we loosed,
and, securing it by a string tied to one of its legs, led it with us.
We arrived at home in good time. My wife prepared part of the iguana for
supper, which was pronounced excellent. The crab was rejected as tough
and tasteless. Our new utensils were then tried, the egg-baskets and the
milk-bowls, and Fritz was charged to dig a hole in the earth, to be
covered with boards, and serve as a dairy, till something better was
thought of. Finally, we ascended our leafy abode, and slept in peace.
* * * * *
I projected an excursion with my eldest son, to explore the limits of
our country, and satisfy ourselves that it was an island, and not a part
of the continent. We set out, ostensibly, to bring the sledge we had
left the previous evening. I took Turk and the ass with us, and left
Flora with my wife and children, and, with a bag of provisions, we left
Falcon's Nest as soon as breakfast was over.
In crossing a wood of oaks, covered with the sweet, eatable acorn, we
again met with the sow; our service to her in the evening did not seem
to be forgotten, for she appeared tamer, and did not run from us. A
little farther on, we saw some beautiful birds. Fritz shot some, among
which I recognized the large blue Virginian jay, and some different
kinds of parrots. As he was reloading his gun, we heard at a distance a
singular noise, like a muffled drum, mingled with the sound made in
sharpening a saw. It might be savages; and we plunged into a thicket,
and there discovered the cause of the noise in a brilliant green bird,
seated on the withered trunk of a tree. It spread its wings and tail,
and strutted about with strange contortions, to the great delight of its
mates, who seemed lost in admiration of him. At the same time, he made
the sharp cry we heard, and, striking his wing against the tree,
produced the drum-like sound. I knew this to be the _ruffed grouse_, one
of the greatest ornaments of the forests of America. My insatiable
hunter soon put an end to the scene; he fired at the bird, who fell
dead, and his crowd of admirers, with piercing cries, took to flight.
I reprimanded my son for so rashly killing everything we met with
without consideration, and for the mere love of destruction. He seemed
sensible of his error, and, as the thing was done, I thought it as well
to make the best of it, and sent him to pick up his game.
"What a creature!" said he, as he brought it; "how it would have figured
in our poultry-yard, if I had not been in such a hurry."
We went on to our sledge in the Gourd Wood, and, as the morning was not
far advanced, we determined to leave all here, and proceed in our
projected excursion beyond the chain of rocks. But we took the ass with
us to carry our provisions, and any game or other object we should meet
with in the new country we hoped to penetrate. Amongst gigantic trees,
and through grass of a prodigious height, we travelled with some labour,
looking right and left to avoid danger, or to make discoveries. Turk
walked the first, smelling the air; then came the donkey, with his grave
and careless step; and we followed, with our guns in readiness. We met
with plains of potatoes and of manioc, amongst the stalks of which were
sporting tribes of agoutis; but we were not tempted by such game.
We now met with a new kind of bush covered with small white berries
about the size of a pea. On pressing these berries, which adhered to my
fingers, I discovered that this plant was the _Myrica cerifera,_ or
candle-berry myrtle, from which a wax is obtained that may be made into
candles. With great pleasure I gathered a bag of these berries, knowing
how my wife would appreciate this acquisition; for she often lamented
that we were compelled to go to bed with the birds, as soon as the
We forgot our fatigue, as we proceeded, in contemplation of the wonders
of nature, flowers of marvellous beauty, butterflies of more dazzling
colours than the flowers, and birds graceful in form, and brilliant in
plumage. Fritz climbed a tree, and succeeded in securing a young green
parrot, which he enveloped in his handkerchief, with the intention of
bringing it up, and teaching it to speak. And now we met with another
wonder: a number of birds who lived in a community, in nests, sheltered
by a common roof, in the formation of which they had probably laboured
jointly. This roof was composed of straw and dry sticks, plastered with
clay, which rendered it equally impenetrable to sun or rain. Pressed as
we were for time, I could not help stopping to admire this feathered
colony. This leading us to speak of natural history, as it relates to
animals who live in societies, we recalled in succession the ingenious
labours of the beavers and the marmots; the not less marvellous
constructions of the bees, the wasps, and the ants; and I mentioned
particularly those immense ant-hills of America, of which the masonry is
finished with such skill and solidity that they are sometimes used for
ovens, to which they bear a resemblance.
We had now reached some trees quite unknown to us. They were from forty
to sixty feet in height, and from the bark, which was cracked in many
places, issued small balls of a thick gum. Fritz got one off with
difficulty, it was so hardened by the sun. He wished to soften it with
his hands, but found that heat only gave it the power of extension, and
that by pulling the two extremities, and then releasing them, it
immediately resumed its first form.
Fritz ran to me, crying out, "I have found some India-rubber!"
"If that be true," said I, "you have made a most valuable discovery."
He thought I was laughing at him, for we had no drawing to rub out here.
I told him this gum might be turned to many useful purposes; among the
rest we might make excellent shoes of it. This interested him. How could
we accomplish this?
"The caoutchouc," said I, "is the milky sap which is obtained from
certain trees of the _Euphorbium_ kind, by incisions made in the bark.
It is collected in vessels, care being taken to agitate them, that the
liquid may not coagulate. In this state they cover little clay bottles
with successive layers of it, till it attains the required thickness. It
is then dried in smoke, which gives it the dark brown colour. Before it
is quite dry, it is ornamented by lines and flowers drawn with the
knife. Finally, they break the clay form, and extract it from the mouth;
and there remains the India-rubber bottle of commerce, soft and
flexible. Now, this is my plan for shoemaking; we will fill a stocking
with sand, cover it with repeated layers of the gum till it is of the
proper thickness; then empty out the sand, and, if I do not deceive
myself, we shall have perfect boots or shoes."
Comfortable in the hope of new boots, we advanced through an
interminable forest of various trees. The monkeys on the cocoa-nut trees
furnished us with pleasant refreshment, and a small store of nuts
besides. Among these trees I saw some lower bushes, whose leaves were
covered with a white dust. I opened the trunk of one of these, which had
been torn up by the wind, and found in the interior a white farinaceous
substance, which, on tasting, I knew to be the sago imported into
Europe. This, as connected with our subsistence, was a most important
affair, and my son and I, with our hatchets, laid open the tree, and
obtained from it twenty-five pounds of the valuable sago.
This occupied us an hour; and, weary and hungry, I thought it prudent
not to push our discoveries farther this day. We therefore returned to
the Gourd Wood, placed all our treasures on the sledge, and took our way
home. We arrived without more adventures, and were warmly greeted, and
our various offerings gratefully welcomed, especially the green parrot.
We talked of the caoutchouc, and new boots, with great delight during
supper; and, afterwards, my wife looked with exceeding content at her
bag of candle-berries, anticipating the time when we should not have to
go to bed, as we did now, as soon as the sun set.
* * * * *
The next morning my wife and children besought me to begin my
manufacture of candles. I remembered having seen the chandler at work,
and I tried to recall all my remembrances of the process. I put into a
boiler as many berries as it would hold, and placed it over a moderate
fire: the wax melted from the berries, and rose to the surface, and this
I carefully skimmed with a large flat spoon and put in a separate vessel
placed near the fire; when this was done, my wife supplied me with some
wicks she had made from the threads of sailcloth; these wicks were
attached, four at a time, to a small stick; I dipped them into the wax,
and placed them on two branches of a tree to dry; I repeated this
operation as often as necessary to make them the proper thickness, and
then placed them in a cool spot to harden. But we could not forbear
trying them that very night; and, thought somewhat rude in form, it was
sufficient that they reminded us of our European home, and prolonged our
days by many useful hours we had lost before.
This encouraged me to attempt another enterprise. My wife had long
regretted that she had not been able to make butter. She had attempted
to beat her cream in a vessel, but either the heat of the climate, or
her want of patience, rendered her trials unsuccessful. I felt that I
had not skill enough to make a churn; but I fancied that by some simple
method, like that used by the Hottentots, who put their cream in a skin
and shake it till they produce butter, we might obtain the same result.
I cut a large gourd in two, filled it with three quarts of cream, then
united the parts, and secured them closely. I fastened a stick to each
corner of a square piece of sailcloth, placed the gourd in the middle,
and, giving a corner to each of my sons, directed them to rock the cloth
with a slow, regular motion, as you would a child's cradle. This was
quite an amusement for them; and at the end of an hour, my wife had the
pleasure of placing before us some excellent butter. I then tried to
make a cart, our sledge being unfitted for some roads; the wheels I had
brought from the wreck rendered this less difficult; and I completed a
very rude vehicle, which was, nevertheless, very useful to us.
While I was thus usefully employed, my wife and children were not idle.
They had transplanted the European trees, and thoughtfully placed each
in the situation best suited to it. I assisted with my hands and
counsels. The vines we planted round the roots of our trees, and hoped
in time to form a trellis-work. Of the chesnut, walnut, and
cherry-trees, we formed an avenue from Falcon's Nest to Family Bridge,
which, we hoped, would ultimately be a shady road between our two
mansions. We made a solid road between the two rows of trees, raised in
the middle and covered with sand, which we brought from the shore in our
wheelbarrows. I also made a sort of tumbril, to which we harnessed the
ass, to lighten this difficult labour.
We then turned our thoughts to Tent House, our first abode, and which
still might form our refuge in case of danger. Nature had not favoured
it; but our labour soon supplied all deficiencies. We planted round it
every tree that requires ardent heat; the citron, pistachio, the almond,
the mulberry, the Siamese orange, of which the fruit is as large as the
head of a child, and the Indian fig, with its long prickly leaves, all
had a place here. These plantations succeeding admirably, we had, after
some time, the pleasure of seeing the dry and sandy desert converted
into a shady grove, rich in flowers and fruit. As this place was the
magazine for our arms, ammunition, and provisions of all sorts; we made
a sort of fortress of it, surrounding it with a high hedge of strong,
thorny trees; so that not only to wild beasts, but even to human
enemies, it was inaccessible. Our bridge was the only point of approach,
and we always carefully removed the first planks after crossing it. We
also placed our two cannon on a little elevation within the enclosure;
and, finally, we planted some cedars, near our usual landing-place, to
which we might, at a future time, fasten our vessels. These labours
occupied us three months, only interrupted by a strict attention to the
devotions and duties of the Sunday. I was most especially grateful to
God for the robust health we all enjoyed, in the midst of our
employments. All went on well in our little colony. We had an abundant
and certain supply of provisions; but our wardrobe, notwithstanding the
continual repairing my wife bestowed on it, was in a most wretched
state, and we had no means of renewing it, except by again visiting the
wreck, which I knew still contained some chests of clothes, and bales
of cloth. This decided me to make another voyage; besides I was rather
anxious to see the state of the vessel.
We found it much in the same condition we had left it, except being much
more shattered by the winds and waves.
We selected many useful things for our cargo; the bales of linen and
woollen cloth were not forgotten; some barrels of tar; and everything
portable that we could remove; doors, windows, tables, benches, locks
and bolts, all the ammunition, and even such of the guns as we could
move. In fact we completely sacked the vessel; carrying off, after
several days' labour, all our booty, with the exception of some weighty
articles, amongst which were three or four immense boilers, intended for
a sugar-manufactory. These we tied to some large empty casks, which we
pitched completely over, and hoped they would be able to float in
When we had completed our arrangements, I resolved to blow up the ship.
We placed a large barrel of gunpowder in the hold, and arranging a long
match from it, which would burn some hours, we lighted it, and proceeded
without delay to Safety Bay to watch the event. I proposed to my wife to
sup on a point of land where we could distinctly see the vessel. Just as
the sun was going down, a majestic rolling, like thunder, succeeded by a
column of fire, announced the destruction of the vessel, which had
brought us from Europe, and bestowed its great riches on us. We could
not help shedding tears, as we heard the last mournful cry of this sole
remaining bond that connected us with home. We returned sorrowfully to
Tent House, and felt as if we had lost an old friend.
We rose early next morning, and hastened to the shore, which we found
covered with the wreck, which, with a little exertion, we found it easy
to collect. Amongst the rest, were the large boilers. We afterwards used
these to cover our barrels of gunpowder, which we placed in a part of
the rock, where, even if an explosion took place, no damage could ensue.
My wife, in assisting us with the wreck, made the agreeable discovery,
that two of our ducks, and one goose, had hatched each a brood, and were
leading their noisy young families to the water. This reminded us of all
our poultry and domestic comfort, at Falcon's Nest, and we determined to
defer, for some time, the rest of our work at Tent House, and to return
the next day to our shady summer home.
* * * * *
As we went along the avenue of fruit-trees, I was concerned to see my
young plants beginning to droop, and I immediately resolved to proceed
to Cape Disappointment the next morning, to cut bamboos to make props
for them. It was determined we should all go, as, on our arrival at
Falcon's Nest, we discovered many other supplies wanting. The candles
were failing: we must have more berries, for now my wife sewed by
candlelight, while I wrote my journal. She wanted, also, some
wild-fowls' eggs to set under her hens. Jack wanted some guavas, and
Francis wished for some sugar-canes. So we made a family tour of it,
taking the cart, with the cow and ass, to contain our provision, and a
large sailcloth, to make a tent. The weather was delightful, and we set
out singing, in great spirits.
We crossed the potato and manioc plantations, and the wood of guavas, on
which my boys feasted to their great satisfaction. The road was rugged,
but we assisted to move the cart, and rested frequently. We stopped to
see the bird colony, which greatly delighted them all, and Ernest
declared they belonged to the species of _Loxia gregaria_, the sociable
grosbeak. He pointed out to us their wonderful instinct in forming their
colony in the midst of the candle-berry bushes, on which they feed. We
filled two bags with these berries, and another with guavas, my wife
proposing to make jelly from them.
We then proceeded to the caoutchouc-tree, and here I determined to rest
awhile, to collect some of the valuable gum. I had brought some large
gourd-shells with me for the purpose. I made incisions in the trees, and
placed these bowls to receive the gum, which soon began to run out in a
milky stream, and we hoped to find them filled on our return. We turned
a little to the left, and entered a beautiful and fertile plain, bounded
on one side by the sugar-canes, behind which rose a wood of palms, on
the other by the bamboos; and before us was Cape Disappointment, backed
by the ocean--a magnificent picture.
We at once decided to make this our resting-place; we even thought of
transferring our residence from Falcon's Nest to this spot; but we
dismissed the thought, when we reflected on the perfect security of our
dear castle in the air. We contented ourselves with arranging to make
this always our station for refreshment in our excursions. We loosed our
animals, and allowed them to graze on the rich grass around us. We
arranged to spend the night here, and, taking a light repast, we
separated on our several employments--some to cut sugar-canes, others
bamboos, and, after stripping them, to make them into bundles, and place
them in the cart. This hard work made the boys hungry; they refreshed
themselves with sugar-canes, but had a great desire to have some
cocoa-nuts. Unfortunately, there were neither monkeys nor crabs to
bestow them, and the many attempts they made to climb the lofty, bare
trunk of the palm ended only in disappointment and confusion. I went to
their assistance. I gave them pieces of the rough skin of the shark,
which I had brought for the purpose, to brace on their legs, and showing
them how to climb, by the aid of a cord fastened round the tree with a
running noose, a method practised with success by the savages, my little
climbers soon reached the summit of the trees; they then used their
hatchets, which they had carried up in their girdles, and a shower of
cocoa-nuts fell down. These furnished a pleasant dessert, enlivened by
the jests of Fritz and Jack, who, being the climbers, did not spare
Doctor Ernest, who had contented himself with looking up at them; and
even now, regardless of their banter, he was lost in some new idea.
Rising suddenly, and looking at the palms, he took a cocoa-nut cup, and
a tin flask with a handle, and gravely addressed us thus:--
"Gentlemen and lady! this exercise of climbing is really very
disagreeable and difficult; but since it confers so much honour on the
undertakers, I should like also to attempt an adventure, hoping to do
something at once glorious and agreeable to the company."
He then bound his legs with the pieces of shark's skin, and with
singular vigour and agility sprung up a palm which he had long been
attentively examining. His brothers laughed loudly at his taking the
trouble to ascend a tree that had not a single nut on it. Ernest took no
notice of their ridicule, but, as soon as he reached the top, struck
with his hatchet, and a tuft of tender yellow leaves fell at our feet,
which I recognized as the product of the cabbage-palm, a delicate food,
highly valued in America. His mother thought it a mischievous act, to
destroy the tree thus; but he assured her his prize was worth many
cocoa-nuts. But our hero did not descend; and I asked him if he wanted
to replace the cabbage he had cut off?
"Wait a little," said he; "I am bringing you some wine to drink my
health; but it comes slower than I could wish."
He now descended, holding his cocoa-cup, into which he poured from the
flask a clear rose-coloured liquor, and, presenting it to me, begged me
to drink. It was, indeed, the true palm-wine, which is as pleasant as
champaign, and, taken moderately, a great restorative.
We all drank; and Ernest was praised and thanked by all, till he forgot
all the scoffs he had received.
As it was getting late, we set about putting up our tent for the night,
when suddenly our ass, who had been quietly grazing near us, began to
bray furiously, erected his ears, kicking right and left, and, plunging
into the bamboos, disappeared. This made us very uneasy. I could not
submit to lose the useful animal; and, moreover, I was afraid his
agitation announced the approach of some wild beast. The dogs and I
sought for any trace of it in vain; I therefore, to guard against any
danger, made a large fire before our tent, which I continued to watch
till midnight, when, all being still, I crept into the tent, to my bed
of moss, and slept undisturbed till morning.
In the morning we thanked God for our health and safety, and then began
to lament our poor donkey, which, I hoped, might have been attracted by
the light of our fire, and have returned; but we saw nothing of him, and
we decided that his services were so indispensable, that I should go,
with one of my sons, and the two dogs, in search of him, and cross the
thickets of bamboo. I chose to take Jack with me, to his great
satisfaction, for Fritz and Ernest formed a better guard for their
mother in a strange place. We set out, well armed, with bags of
provisions on our back, and after an hour's fruitless search among the
canes, We emerged beyond them, in an extensive plain on the borders of
the great bay. We saw that the ridge of rocks still extended on the
right till it nearly reached the shore, when it abruptly terminated in a
perpendicular precipice. A considerable river flowed into the bay here,
and between the river and the rock was a narrow passage, which at high
water would be overflowed. We thought it most likely that our ass had
passed by this defile; and I wished to see whether these rocks merely
bordered or divided the island; we therefore went forward till we met
with a stream, which fell in a cascade from a mass of rocks into the
river. We ascended the stream till we found a place shallow enough to
cross. Here we saw the shoemarks of our ass, mingled with the footsteps
of other animals, and at a distance we saw a herd of animals, but could
not distinguish what they were. We ascended a little hill, and, through
our telescope, saw a most beautiful and fertile country, breathing peace
and repose. To our right rose the majestic chain of rocks that divided
the island. On our left a succession of beautiful green hills spread to
the horizon. Woods of palms and various unknown trees were scattered
over the scene. The beautiful stream meandered across the valley like a
silver ribbon, bordered by rushes and other aquatic plants. There was no
trace of the footstep of man. The country had all the purity of its
first creation; no living creatures but some beautiful birds and
brilliant butterflies appeared.
But, at a distance, we saw some specks, which I concluded were the
animals we had first seen, and I resolved to go nearer, in hopes our ass
might have joined them. We made towards the spot, and, to shorten the
road, crossed a little wood of bamboos, the stalks of which, as thick as
a man's thigh, rose to the height of thirty feet. I suspected this to be
the giant reed of America, so useful for the masts of boats and canoes.
I promised Jack to allow him to cut some on our return; but at present
the ass was my sole care. When we had crossed the wood, we suddenly came
face to face on a herd of buffaloes, not numerous certainly, but
formidable in appearance. At the sight, I was absolutely petrified, and
my gun useless. Fortunately the dogs were in the rear, and the animals,
lifting their heads, and fixing their large eyes on us, seemed more
astonished than angry--we were the first men probably they had
We drew back a little, prepared our arms, and endeavoured to retreat,
when the dogs arrived, and, notwithstanding our efforts to restrain
them, flew at the buffaloes. It was no time now to retreat; the combat
was begun. The whole troop uttered the most frightful roars, beat the
ground with their feet, and butted with their horns. Our brave dogs were
not intimidated, but marched straight upon the enemy, and, falling on a
young buffalo that had strayed before the rest, seized it by the ears.
The creature began to bellow, and struggle to escape; its mother ran to
its assistance, and, with her, the whole herd. At that moment,--I
tremble as I write it, I gave the signal to my brave Jack, who behaved
with admirable coolness, and at the same moment we fired on the herd.
The effect was wonderful: they paused a moment, and then, even before
the smoke was dissipated, took to flight with incredible rapidity,
forded the river, and were soon out of sight. My dogs still held their
prize, and the mother, though wounded by our shot, tore up the ground in
her fury, and was advancing on the dogs to destroy them; but I stepped
forward, and discharging a pistol between the horns, put an end to
We began to breathe. We had looked death in the face,--a most horrible
death; and thanked God for our preservation. I praised Jack for his
courage and presence of mind; any fear or agitation on his part would
have unnerved me, and rendered our fate certain. The dogs still held the
young calf by the ears, it bellowed incessantly, and I feared they would
either be injured or lose their prize. I went up to their assistance. I
hardly knew how to act. I could easily have killed it; but I had a great
desire to carry it off alive, and try to tame it, to replace our ass,
whom I did not intend to follow farther. A happy idea struck Jack: he
always carried his lasso in his pocket; he drew it out, retired a
little, and flung it so dexterously that he completely wound it round
the hind legs of the calf, and threw it down. I now approached; I
replaced the lasso by a stronger cord, and used another to bind his fore
legs loosely. Jack cried victory, and already thought how his mother and
brothers would be delighted, when we presented it; but that was no easy
matter. At last I thought of the method used in Italy to tame the wild
bulls, and I resolved to try it, though it was a little cruel.
I began by tying to the foot of a tree the cords that held the legs;
then making the dogs seize him again by the ears, I caught hold of his
mouth, and with a sharp knife perforated the nostril, and quickly passed
a cord through the opening. This cord was to serve as my rein, to guide
the animal. The operation was successful; and, as soon as the blood
ceased to flow, I took the cord, uniting the two ends, and the poor
suffering creature, completely subdued, followed me without resistance.
I was unwilling to abandon the whole of the buffalo I had killed, as it
is excellent meat; I therefore cut out the tongue, and some of the best
parts from the loin, and covered them well with salt, of which we had
taken a provision with us. I then carefully skinned the four legs,
remembering that the American hunters use these skins for boots, being
remarkably soft and flexible. We permitted the dogs to feast on the
remainder; and while they were enjoying themselves, we washed ourselves,
and sat down under a tree to rest and refresh ourselves. But the poor
beasts had soon many guests at their banquet. Clouds of birds of prey
came from every part; an incessant combat was kept up; no sooner was one
troop of brigands satisfied, than another succeeded; and soon all that
remained of the poor buffalo was the bones. I noticed amongst these
ravenous birds the royal vulture, an elegant bird, remarkable for a
brilliant collar of down. We could easily have killed some of these
robbers, but I thought it useless to destroy for mere curiosity, and I
preferred employing our time in cutting, with a small saw we had
brought, some of the gigantic reeds that grew round us. We cut several
of the very thick ones, which make excellent vessels when separated at
the joints; but I perceived that Jack was cutting some of small
dimensions, and I inquired if he was going to make a Pandean pipe, to
celebrate his triumphal return with the buffalo.
"No," said he; "I don't recollect that Robinson Crusoe amused himself
with music in his island; but I have thought of something that will be
useful to mamma. I am cutting these reeds to make moulds for
"An excellent thought, my dear boy!" said I; "and if even we break our
moulds in getting out the candles, which I suspect we may, we know where
they grow, and can come for more."
We collected all our reeds in bundles, and then set out. The calf,
intimidated by the dogs, and galled by the rein, went on tolerably well.
We crossed the narrow pass in the rocks, and here our dogs killed a
large jackal which was coming from her den in the rock. The furious
animals then entered the den, followed by Jack, who saved, with
difficulty, one of the young cubs, the others being immediately worried.
It was a pretty little gold-coloured creature, about the size of a cat.
Jack petitioned earnestly to have it to bring up; and I made him happy
by granting his request.
In the mean time I had tied the calf to a low tree, which I discovered
was the thorny dwarf palm, which grows quickly, and is extremely useful
for fences. It bears an oblong fruit, about the size of a pigeon's egg,
from which is extracted an oil which is an excellent substitute for
butter. I determined to return for some young plants of this palm to
plant at Tent House.
It was almost night when we joined our family; and endless were the
questions the sight of the buffalo produced, and great was the boasting
of Jack the dauntless. I was compelled to lower his pride a little by an
unvarnished statement, though I gave him much credit for his coolness
and resolution; and, supper-time arriving, my wife had time to tell me
what had passed while we had been on our expedition.
* * * * *
My wife began by saying they had not been idle in my absence. They had
collected wood, and made torches for the night. Fritz and Ernest had
even cut down an immense sago-palm, seventy feet high, intending to
extract its precious pith; but this they had been unable to accomplish
alone, and waited for my assistance. But while they were engaged in this
employment, a troop of monkeys had broken into the tent and pillaged and
destroyed everything; they had drunk or overturned the milk, and carried
off or spoiled all our provisions; and even so much injured the palisade
I had erected round the tent, that it took them an hour, after they
returned, to repair the damage. Fritz had made also a beautiful capture,
in a nest he had discovered in the rocks at Cape Disappointment. It was
a superb bird, and, though very young, quite feathered. Ernest had
pronounced it to be the eagle of Malabar, and I confirmed his assertion;
and as this species of eagle is not large, and does not require much
food, I advised him to train it as a falcon, to chase other birds. I
took this opportunity to announce that henceforward every one must
attend to his own live stock, or they should be set at liberty, mamma
having sufficient to manage in her own charge.
We then made a fire of green wood, in the smoke of which we placed the
buffalo-meat we had brought home, leaving it during the night, that it
might be perfectly cured. We had had some for supper, and thought it
excellent. The young buffalo was beginning to graze, and we gave him a
little milk to-night, as well as to the jackal. Fritz had taken the
precaution to cover the eyes of his eagle, and tying it fast by the leg
to a branch, it rested very tranquilly. We then retired to our mossy
beds, to recruit our strength for the labours of another day.
At break of day we rose, made a light breakfast, and I was about to give
the signal of departure, when my wife communicated to me the difficulty
they had had in cutting down the palm-tree, and the valuable provision
that might be obtained from it with a little trouble. I thought she was
right, and decided to remain here another day; for it was no trifling
undertaking to split up a tree seventy feet long. I consented the more
readily, as I thought I might, after removing the useful pith from the
trunk, obtain two large spouts or channels to conduct the water from
Jackal River to the kitchen garden.
Such tools as we had we carried to the place where the tree lay. We
first sawed off the head; then, with the hatchet making an opening at
each end, we took wedges and mallets, and the wood being tolerably soft,
after four hours' labour, we succeeded in splitting it completely. When
parted, we pressed the pith with our hands, to get the whole into one
division of the trunk, and began to make our paste. At one end of the
spout we nailed one of the graters, through which we intended to force
the paste, to form the round seeds. My little bakers set vigorously to
work, some pouring water on the pith, while the rest mixed it into
paste. When sufficiently worked, I pressed it strongly with my hand
against the grater; the farinaceous parts passed easily through the
holes, while the _ligneous_ part, consisting of splinters of wood, &c,
was left behind. This we threw into a heap, hoping mushrooms might
spring from it. My wife now carefully spread the grains on sailcloth, in
the sun, to dry them. I also formed some vermicelli, by giving more
consistence to the paste, and forcing it through the holes in little
pipes. My wife promised with this, and the Dutch cheese, to make us a
dish equal to Naples maccaroni. We were now contented; we could at any
time obtain more sago by cutting down a tree, and we were anxious to get
home to try our water-pipes. We spent the rest of the day in loading the
cart with our utensils and the halves of the tree. We retired to our hut
at sunset, and slept in peace.
The next morning the whole caravan began to move at an early hour. The
buffalo, harnessed to the cart, by the side of his nurse, the cow, took
the place of our lost ass, and began his apprenticeship as a beast of
draught. We took the same road on our return, that we might carry away
the candle-berries and the vessels of India-rubber. The vanguard was
composed of Fritz and Jack, who pioneered our way, by cutting down the