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The Swiss Family Robinson; or Adventures in a Desert Island by Johann David Wyss

Part 3 out of 7

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underwood to make a road for the cart. Our water-pipes, being very long,
somewhat impeded our progress; but we happily reached the candle-berry
trees without accident, and placed our sacks on the cart. We did not
find more than a quart of the caoutchouc gum; but it would be
sufficient for our first experiment, and I carried it off.

In crossing the little wood of guavas, we suddenly heard our dogs, who
were before us with Fritz and Jack, uttering the most frightful
howlings. I was struck with terror lest they should have encountered a
tiger, and rushed forward ready to fire. The dogs were endeavouring to
enter a thicket, in the midst of which Fritz declared he had caught a
glimpse of an animal larger than the buffalo, with a black, bristly
skin. I was just about to discharge my gun into the thicket, when Jack,
who had lain down on the ground, to look under the bushes, burst into a
loud laugh. "It is another trick of that vexatious animal, our old sow!
she is always making fools of us," cried he. Half merry and half angry,
we made an opening into the thicket, and there discovered the lady
lying, surrounded by seven little pigs, only a few days old. We were
very glad to see our old friend so attended, and stroked her. She seemed
to recognize us, and grunted amicably. We supplied her with some
potatoes, sweet acorns, and cassava bread; intending, in return, to eat
her young ones, when they were ready for the spit, though my dear wife
cried out against the cruelty of the idea. At present we left them with
her, but proposed afterwards to take away two, to be brought up at home,
and leave the rest to support themselves on acorns in the woods, where
they would become game for us. At length we arrived at Falcon's Nest,
which we regarded with all the attachment of home. Our domestic animals
crowded round us, and noisily welcomed us. We tied up the buffalo and
jackal, as they were not yet domesticated. Fritz fastened his eagle to
a branch by a chain long enough to allow it to move freely, and then
imprudently uncovered its eyes; it immediately raised its head, erected
its feathers, and struck on all sides with its beak and claws; our fowls
took to flight, but the poor parrot fell in his way, and was torn to
pieces before we could assist it. Fritz was very angry, and would have
executed the murderer; but Ernest begged he would not be so rash, as
parrots were more plentiful than eagles, and it was his own fault for
uncovering his eyes; the falconers always keeping their young birds
hooded six weeks, till they are quite tamed. He offered to train it, if
Fritz would part with it; but this Fritz indignantly refused. I told
them the fable of the dog in the manger, which abashed Fritz; and he
then besought his brother to teach him the means of training this noble
bird, and promised to present him with his monkey.

Ernest then told him that the Caribs subdue the largest birds by making
them inhale tobacco smoke. Fritz laughed at this; but Ernest brought a
pipe and some tobacco he had found in the ship, and began to smoke
gravely under the branch where the bird was perched. It was soon calm,
and on his continuing to smoke it became quite motionless. Fritz then
easily replaced the bandage, and thanked his brother for his
good service.

The next morning we set out early to our young plantation of
fruit-trees, to fix props to support the weaker plants. We loaded the
cart with the thick bamboo canes and our tools, and harnessed the cow to
it, leaving the buffalo in the stable, as I wished the wound in his
nostrils to be perfectly healed before I put him to any hard work. I
left Francis with his mother, to prepare our dinner, begging them not to
forget the maccaroni.

We began at the entrance of the avenue to Falcon's Nest, where all the
trees were much bent by the wind. We raised them gently by a crowbar; I
made a hole in the earth, in which one of my sons placed the bamboo
props, driving them firmly down with a mallet, and we proceeded to
another, while Ernest and Jack tied the trees to them with a long,
tough, pliant plant, which I suspected was a species of _llana_. As we
were working, Fritz inquired if these fruit-trees were wild.

"A pretty question!" cried Jack. "Do you think that trees are tamed like
eagles or buffaloes? You perhaps could teach them to bow politely, so
that we might gather the fruit!"

"You fancy you are a wit," said I, "but you speak like a dunce. We
cannot make trees bow at our pleasure; but we can make a tree, which by
nature bears sour and uneatable fruit, produce what is sweet and
wholesome. This is effected by grafting into a wild tree a small branch,
or even a bud, of the sort you wish. I will show you this method
practically at some future time, for by these means we can procure all
sorts of fruit; only we must remember, that we can only graft a tree
with one of the same natural family; thus, we could not graft an apple
on a cherry-tree, for one belongs to the apple tribe, and the other to
the plum tribe."

"Do we know the origin of all these European fruits?" asked the
inquiring Ernest.

"All our shell fruits," answered I, "such as the nut, the almond, and
the chesnut, are natives of the East; the peach, of Persia; the orange
and apricot, of Armenia; the cherry, which was unknown in Europe sixty
years before Christ, was brought by the proconsul Lucullus from the
southern shores of the Euxine; the olives come from Palestine. The first
olive-trees were planted on Mount Olympus, and from thence were spread
through the rest of Europe; the fig is from Lydia; the plums, your
favourite fruit, with the exception of some natural sorts that are
natives of our forests, are from Syria, and the town of Damascus has
given its name to one sort, the _Damascene_, or Damson. The pear is a
fruit of Greece; the ancients called it the fruit of Peloponnesus; the
mulberry is from Asia; and the quince from the island of Crete."

Our work progressed as we talked thus, and we had soon propped all our
valuable plants. It was now noon, and we returned to Falcon's Nest very
hungry, and found an excellent dinner prepared, of smoked beef, and the
tender bud of the cabbage-palm, the most delicious of vegetables.

After dinner, we began to discuss a plan I had long had in my head; but
the execution of it presented many difficulties. It was, to substitute a
firm and solid staircase for the ladder of ropes, which was a source of
continual fear to my wife. It is true, that we only had to ascend it to
go to bed; but bad weather might compel us to remain in our apartment;
we should then have frequently to ascend and descend, and the ladder was
very unsafe. But the immense height of the tree, and the impossibility
of procuring beams to sustain a staircase round it, threw me into
despair. However, looking at the monstrous trunk of the tree, I
thought, if we cannot succeed outside, could we not contrive to mount

"Have you not said there was a swarm of bees in the trunk of the tree?"
I inquired of my wife. "Yes," said little Francis, "they stung my face
dreadfully the other day, when I was on the ladder. I was pushing a
stick into the hole they came out of, to try how deep it was."

"Now, then," cried I, "I see through my difficulties. Let us find out
how far the tree is hollow; we can increase the size of the tunnel, and
I have already planned the sort of staircase I can construct." I had
hardly spoken, when the boys leaped like squirrels, some upon the arched
roots, some on the steps of the ladder, and began to strike with sticks
and mallets to sound the tree. This rash proceeding had nearly been
fatal to Jack, who, having placed himself just before the opening, and
striking violently, the whole swarm, alarmed at an attack, which
probably shook their palace of wax, issued forth, and revenged
themselves amply on all the assailants. Nothing was heard but cries and
stamping of feet. My wife hastened to cover the stings with moist earth,
which rather relieved them; but it was some hours before they could open
their eyes. They begged me to get them the honey from their foes, and I
prepared a hive, which I had long thought of--a large gourd, which I
placed on a board nailed upon a branch of our tree, and covered with
straw to shelter it from the sun and wind. But it was now bedtime, and
we deferred our attack on the fortress till next day.

* * * * *


An hour before day, I waked my sons to assist me in removing the bees to
the new abode I had prepared for them. I commenced by plastering up the
entrance to their present dwelling with clay, leaving only room to admit
the bowl of my pipe. This was necessary, because I had neither masks nor
gloves, as the regular bee-takers have. I then began to smoke briskly,
to stupify the bees. At first we heard a great buzzing in the hollow,
like the sound of a distant storm: the murmur ceased by degrees, and a
profound stillness succeeded, and I withdrew my pipe without a single
bee appearing. Fritz and I then, with a chisel and small axe, made an
opening about three feet square, below the bees' entrance. Before we
detached this, I repeated the fumigation, lest the noise and the fresh
air should awake the bees; but there was no fear of such a thing,--they
were quite stupified. We removed the wood, and through this opening
beheld, with wonder and admiration, the work of this insect nation.
There was such a store of wax and honey, that we feared we should not
have vessels to contain it. The interior of the tree was filled with the
honeycombs; I cut them carefully, and placed them in the gourds the boys
brought me. As soon as I had made a little space, I placed the upper
comb, on which the bees were hanging in clusters, in the new hive, and
put it on the plank prepared for it; I then descended with the rest of
the honeycomb, and filled a cask with it, which I had previously washed
in the stream; this we covered with sailcloth and planks, lest the
bees, attracted by the smell, should come to claim their own. We left
out some comb for a treat at dinner, and my wife carefully put by
the rest.

To prevent the bees returning to their old abode, we placed some burning
tobacco in the hollow, the smell and fumes of which drove them from the
tree, when they wished to enter; and, finally, they settled in the new
hive, where the queen bee, doubtless, had fixed herself.

We now began our work; we emptied the cask of honey into a large boiler,
except a little reserved for daily use; we added a little water, placed
the boiler on a slow fire, and reduced it to a liquid mass; this was
strained through a bag into the cask, and left standing all night to
cool. The next morning the wax had risen to the top, and formed a hard
and solid cake, which we easily removed; and beneath was the most pure
and delicious honey. The barrel was then carefully closed, and placed in
a cool place. We now proceeded to examine the interior of the tree. I
took a long pole, and tried the height from the window I had made; and
tied a stone to a string to sound the depth. To my surprise, the pole
penetrated without resistance to the very branches where our dwelling
was, and the stone went to the roots. It was entirely hollow, and I
thought I could easily fix a winding staircase in this wide tunnel. It
would seem, that this huge tree, like the willow of our country, is
nourished through the bark, for it was flourishing in luxuriant beauty.

We began by cutting a doorway, on the side facing the sea, of the size
of the door we had brought from the captain's cabin, with its
framework, thus securing ourselves from invasion on that side. We then
cleansed, and perfectly smoothed the cavity, fixing in the middle the
trunk of a tree about ten feet high, to serve for the axis of the
staircase. We had prepared, the evening before, a number of boards from
the staves of a large barrel, to form our steps. By the aid of the
chisel and mallet, we made deep notches in the inner part of our tree,
and corresponding notches in the central pillar; I placed my steps in
these notches, riveting them with large nails; I raised myself in this
manner step after step, but always turning round the pillar, till we got
to the top. We then fixed on the central pillar another trunk of the
same height, prepared beforehand, and continued our winding steps. Four
times we had to repeat this operation, and, finally, we reached our
branches, and terminated the staircase on the level of the floor of our
apartment. I cleared the entrance by some strokes of my axe. To render
it more solid, I filled up the spaces between the steps with planks, and
fastened two strong cords from above, to each side of the staircase, to
hold by. Towards different points, I made openings; in which were placed
the windows taken from the cabin, which gave light to the interior, and
favoured our observations outside.

The construction of this solid and convenient staircase occupied us
during a month of patient industry; not that we laboured like slaves,
for we had no one to constrain us; we had in this time completed several
works of less importance; and many events had amused us amidst our toil.

A few days after we commenced, Flora produced six puppies; but the
number being too large for our means of support, I commanded that only a
male and female should be preserved, that the breed might be
perpetuated; this was done, and the little jackal being placed with the
remainder, Flora gave it the same privileges as her own offspring. Our
goats also, about this time, gave us two kids; and our sheep some lambs.
We saw this increase of our flock with great satisfaction; and for fear
these useful animals should take it into their heads to stray from us,
as our ass had done, we tied round their necks some small bells we had
found on the wreck, intended to propitiate the savages, and which would
always put us on the track of the fugitives.

The education of the young buffalo was one of the employments that
varied our labour as carpenters. Through the incision in his nostrils, I
had passed a small stick, to the ends of which I attached a strap. This
formed a kind of bit, after the fashion of those of the Hottentots; and
by this I guided him as I chose; though not without much rebellion on
his part. It was only after Fritz had broken it in for mounting, that we
began to make it carry. It was certainly a remarkable instance of
patience and perseverance surmounting difficulties, that we not only
made it bear the wallets we usually placed on the ass, but Ernest, Jack,
and even little Francis, took lessons in _horsemanship_, by riding him,
and, henceforward, would have been able to ride the most spirited horse
without fear; for it could not be worse than the buffalo they had
assisted to subdue.

In the midst of this, Fritz did not neglect the training of his young
eagle. The royal bird began already to pounce very cleverly on the dead
game his master brought, and placed before him; sometimes between the
horns of the buffalo, sometimes on the back of the great bustard, or the
flamingo; sometimes he put it on a board, or on the end of a pole, to
accustom it to pounce, like the falcon, on other birds. He taught it to
settle on his wrist at a call, or a whistle; but it was some time before
he could trust it to fly, without a long string attached to its leg, for
fear its wild nature should carry it from us for ever. Even the indolent
Ernest was seized with the mania of instructing animals. He undertook
the education of his little monkey, who gave him sufficient employment.
It was amusing to see the quiet, slow, studious Ernest obliged to make
leaps and gambols with his pupil to accomplish his instruction. He
wished to accustom Master Knips to carry a pannier, and to climb the
cocoa-nut trees with it on his back; Jack and he wove a small light
pannier of rushes, and fixed it firmly on his back with three straps.
This was intolerable to him at first; he ground his teeth, rolled on the
ground, and leaped about in a frantic manner, trying in vain to release
himself. They left the pannier on his back night and day, and only
allowed him to eat what he had previously put into it. After a little
time, he became so accustomed to it, that he rebelled if they wished to
remove it, and threw into it everything they gave him to hold. He was
very useful to us, but he obeyed only Ernest, who had very properly
taught him equally to love and fear him.

Jack was not so successful with his jackal; for, though he gave him the
name of _"The Hunter,"_ yet, for the first six months, the carnivorous
animal chased only for himself, and, if he brought anything to his
master, it was only the skin of the animal he had just devoured; but I
charged him not to despair, and he continued zealously his instructions.

During this time I had perfected my candle manufacture; by means of
mixing the bees' wax with that obtained from the candle-berry, and by
using cane moulds, which Jack first suggested to me, I succeeded in
giving my candles the roundness and polish of those of Europe. The wicks
were for some time an obstacle. I did not wish to use the small quantity
of calico we had left, but my wife happily proposed to me to substitute
the pith of a species of elder, which answered my purpose completely.

I now turned myself to the preparation of the caoutchouc, of which we
had found several trees. I encouraged the boys to try their ingenuity in
making flasks and cups, by covering moulds of clay with the gum, as I
had explained to them. For my part, I took a pair of old stockings, and
filled them with sand for my mould, which I covered with a coating of
mud, and left to dry in the sun. I cut out a pair of soles of buffalo
leather, which I first hammered well, and then fastened with small tacks
to the sole of the stocking, filling up the spaces left with the gum, so
as to fix it completely. Then, with a brush of goats hair, I covered it
with layer upon layer of the elastic gum, till I thought it sufficiently
thick. It was easy after this to remove the sand, the stocking, and the
hardened mud, to shake out the dust, and I had a pair of waterproof
boots, without seam, and fitting as well as if I had employed an English
shoemaker. My boys were wild with joy, and all begged for a pair; but I
wished first to try their durability, compared with those of buffalo
leather. I began to make a pair of boots for Fritz, using the skin drawn
from the legs of the buffalo we had killed; but I had much more
difficulty than with the caoutchouc. I used the gum to cover the seams,
so that the water might not penetrate. They were certainly not elegant
as a work of art, and the boys laughed at their brother's awkward
movements in them; but their own productions, though useful vessels,
were not models of perfection.

We then worked at our fountain, a great source of pleasure to my wife
and to all of us. We raised, in the upper part of the river, a sort of
dam, made with stakes and stones, from whence the water flowed into our
channels of the sago-palm, laid down a gentle declivity nearly to our
tent, and there it was received into the shell of the turtle, which we
had raised on some stones of a convenient height, the hole which the
harpoon had made serving to carry off the waste water through a cane
that was fitted to it. On two crossed sticks were placed the gourds that
served us for pails, and thus we had always the murmuring of the water
near us, and a plentiful supply of it, always pure and clean, which the
river, troubled by our water-fowl and the refuse of decayed leaves,
could not always give us. The only inconvenience of these open channels
was, that the water reached us warm and unrefreshing; but this I hoped
to remedy in time, by using bamboo pipes buried in the earth. In the
mean time, we were grateful for this new acquisition, and gave credit to
Fritz, who had suggested the idea.

* * * * *


One morning, as we were engaged in giving the last finish to our
staircase, we were alarmed at hearing at a distance strange, sharp,
prolonged sounds, like the roars of a wild beast, but mingled with an
unaccountable hissing. Our dogs erected their ears, and prepared for
deadly combat. I assembled my family; we then ascended our tree, closing
the lower door, loaded our guns, and looked anxiously round, but nothing
appeared. I armed my dogs with their porcupine coats of mail and
collars, and left them below to take care of our animals.

The horrible howlings seemed to approach nearer to us; at length, Fritz,
who was leaning forward to listen as attentively as he could, threw down
his gun, and bursting into a loud laugh, cried out, "It is our fugitive,
the ass, come back to us, and singing his song of joy on his return!" We
listened, and were sure he was right, and could not but feel a little
vexation at being put into such a fright by a donkey. Soon after, we had
the pleasure of seeing him appear among the trees; and, what was still
better, he was accompanied by another animal of his own species, but
infinitely more beautiful. I knew it at once to be the onagra, or wild
ass, a most important capture, if we could make it; though all
naturalists have declared it impossible to tame this elegant creature,
yet I determined to make the attempt.

I went down with Fritz, exhorting his brothers to remain quiet, and I
consulted with my privy counsellor on the means of taking our prize. I
also prepared, as quickly as possible, a long cord with a noose, kept
open by a slight stick, which would fall out as soon as the animal's
head entered, while any attempt to escape would only draw the noose
closer; the end of this cord was tied to the root of a tree. I took then
a piece of bamboo, about two feet long, and splitting it up, tied it
firmly at one end, to form a pair of pincers for the nose of the animal.
In the mean time, the two animals had approached nearer, our old Grizzle
apparently doing the honours to his visitor, and both grazing very

By degrees we advanced softly to them, concealed by the trees; Fritz
carrying the lasso, and I the pincers. The onagra, as soon as he got
sight of Fritz, who was before me, raised his head, and started back,
evidently only in surprise, as it was probably the first man the
creature had seen. Fritz remained still, and the animal resumed his
browsing. Fritz went up to our old servant, and offered him a handful of
oats mixed with salt; the ass came directly to eat its favourite treat;
its companion followed, raised its head, snuffed the air, and came so
near, that Fritz adroitly threw the noose over its head. The terrified
animal attempted to fly, but that drew the cord so tight as almost to
stop his respiration, and he lay down, his tongue hanging out. I
hastened up and relaxed the cord, lest he should be strangled. I threw
the halter of the ass round his neck, and placed the split cane over
his nose, tying it firmly below with a string. I subdued this wild
animal by the means that blacksmiths use the first time they shoe a
horse. I then took off the noose, and tied the halter by two long cords
to the roots of two separate trees, and left him to recover himself.

In the mean time, the rest of the family had collected to admire this
noble animal, whose graceful and elegant form, so superior to that of
the ass, raises it almost to the dignity of a horse. After a while it
rose, and stamped furiously with its feet, trying to release itself; but
the pain in its nose obliged it to lie down again. Then my eldest son
and I, approaching gently, took the two cords, and led or dragged it
between two roots very near to each other, to which we tied the cords so
short, that it had little power to move, and could not escape. We took
care our own donkey should not stray again, by tying his fore-feet
loosely, and putting on him a new halter, and left him near the onagra.

I continued, with a patience I had never had in Europe, to use every
means I could think of with our new guest, and at the end of a month he
was so far subdued, that I ventured to begin his education. This was a
long and difficult task. We placed some burdens on his back; but the
obedience necessary before we could mount him, it seemed impossible to
instil into him. At last, I recollected the method they use in America
to tame the wild horses, and I resolved to try it. In spite of the
bounds and kicks of the furious animal, I leaped on his back, and
seizing one of his long ears between my teeth, I bit it till the blood
came. In a moment he reared himself almost erect on his hind-feet,
remained for a while stiff and motionless, then came down on his
fore-feet slowly, I still holding on his ear. At last I ventured to
release him; he made some leaps, but soon subsided into a sort of trot,
I having previously placed loose cords on his fore-legs. From that time
we were his masters; my sons mounted him one after another; they gave
him the name of Lightfoot, and never animal deserved his name better. As
a precaution, we kept the cords on his legs for some time; and as he
never would submit to the bit, we used a snaffle, by which we obtained
power over his head, guiding him by a stick, with which we struck the
right or left ear, as we wished him to go.

During this time, our poultry-yard was increased by three broods of
chickens. We had at least forty of these little creatures chirping and
pecking about, the pride of their good mistress's heart. Part of these
were kept at home, to supply the table, and part she allowed to colonize
in the woods, where we could find them when we wanted them. "These," she
said, "are of more use than your monkeys, jackals, and eagles, who do
nothing but eat, and would not be worth eating themselves, if we were in
need." However, she allowed there was some use in the buffalo, who
carried burdens, and Lightfoot, who carried her sons so well. The fowls,
which cost us little for food, would be always ready, she said, either
to supply us with eggs or chickens, when the rainy season came on--the
winter of this climate.

This reminded me that the approach of that dreary season permitted me no
longer to defer a very necessary work for the protection of our
animals. This was to construct, under the roots of the trees, covered
houses for them. We began by making a kind of roof above the vaulted
roots of our tree. We used bamboo canes for this purpose; the longer and
stouter were used for the supports, like columns, the slighter ones
bound together closely formed the roof. The intervals we filled up with
moss and clay, and spread over the whole a coating of tar. The roof was
so firm, that it formed a platform, which we surrounded with a railing;
and thus we had a balcony, and a pleasant promenade. By the aid of some
boards nailed to the roots, we made several divisions in the interior,
each little enclosure being appropriated to some useful purpose; and
thus, stables, poultry-houses, dairy, larder, hay-house, store-room,
&c., besides our dining-room, were all united under one roof. This
occupied us some time, as it was necessary to fill our store-room before
the bad weather came; and our cart was constantly employed in bringing
useful stores.

One evening, as we were bringing home a load of potatoes on our cart,
drawn by the ass, the cow, and the buffalo, I saw the cart was not yet
full; I therefore sent home the two younger boys with their mother, and
went on with Fritz and Ernest to the oak wood, to collect a sack of
sweet acorns--Fritz mounted on his onagra, Ernest followed by his
monkey, and I carrying the bag. On arriving at the wood, we tied
Lightfoot to a tree, and all three began to gather the dropped acorns,
when we were startled by the cries of birds, and a loud flapping of
wings, and we concluded that a brisk combat was going on between Master
Knips and the tenants of the thickets, from whence the noise came.
Ernest went softly to see what was the matter, and we soon heard him
calling out, "Be quick! a fine heath-fowl's nest, full of eggs! Knips
wants to suck them, and the mother is beating him."

Fritz ran up, and secured the two beautiful birds, who fluttered, and
cried out furiously, and returned, followed by Ernest, carrying a large
nest filled with eggs. The monkey had served us well on this occasion;
for the nest was so hidden by a bush with long leaves, of which Ernest
held his hand full, that, but for the instinct of the animal, we could
never have discovered it. Ernest was overjoyed to carry the nest and
eggs for his dear mamma, and the long, pointed leaves he intended for
Francis, to serve as little toy-swords.

We set out on our return, placing the sack of acorns behind Fritz on
Lightfoot; Ernest carried the two fowls, and I charged myself with the
care of the eggs, which I covered up, as I found they were warm, and I
hoped to get the mother to resume her brooding when we got to Falcon's
Nest. We were all delighted with the good news we should have to carry
home, and Fritz, anxious to be first, struck his charger with a bunch of
the pointed leaves he had taken from Ernest: this terrified the animal
so much, that he took the bit in his teeth, and flew out of sight like
an arrow. We followed, in some uneasiness, but found him safe. Master
Lightfoot had stopped of himself when he reached his stable. My wife
placed the valuable eggs under a sitting hen, the true mother refusing
to fulfil her office. She was then put into the cage of the poor
parrot, and hung in our dining-room, to accustom her to society. In a
few days the eggs were hatched, and the poultry-yard had an increase of
fifteen little strangers, who fed greedily on bruised acorns, and soon
became as tame as any of our fowls, though I plucked the large feathers
out of their wings when they were full-grown, lest their wild nature
should tempt them to quit us.

* * * * *


Francis had soon become tired of playing with the long leaves his
brother had brought him, and they were thrown aside. Fritz happened to
take some of the withered leaves up, which were soft and flexible as a
ribbon, and he advised Francis to make whiplashes of them, to drive the
goats and sheep with, for the little fellow was the shepherd. He was
pleased with the idea, and began to split the leaves into strips, which
Fritz platted together into very good whiplashes. I remarked, as they
were working, how strong and pliant these strips seemed, and, examining
them closely, I found they were composed of long fibres, or filaments,
which made me suspect it to be _Phormium tenax,_ or New Zealand flax, a
most important discovery to us, and which, when I communicated it to my
wife, almost overwhelmed her with joy. "Bring me all the leaves you can
without delay," cried she, "and I will make you stockings, shirts,
coats, sewing-thread, cords--in fact, give me but flax and work-tools,
and I can manage all." I could not help smiling at the vivacity of her
imagination, roused at the very name of flax; but there was still great
space between the leaves lying before us and the linen she was already
sewing in idea. But my boys, always ready to second the wishes of their
beloved mother, soon mounted their coursers, Fritz on Lightfoot, and
Jack on the great buffalo, to procure supplies.

Whilst we waited for these, my wife, all life and animation, explained
to me all the machines I must make, to enable her to spin and weave, and
make linen to clothe us from head to foot; her eyes sparkled with
delight as she spoke, and I promised her all she asked.

In a short time, our young cavaliers returned from their foraging
expedition, conveying on their steeds huge bundles of the precious
plant, which they laid at the feet of their mother. She gave up
everything to begin her preparation. The first operation necessary was
to steep the flax, which is usually done by exposing it in the open air
in the rain, the wind, and the dew, so as, in a certain degree, to
dissolve the plant, rendering the separation of the fibrous and ligneous
parts more easy. It can then be cleaned and picked for spinning. But, as
the vegetable glue that connects the two parts is very tenacious, and
resists for a long time the action of moisture, it is often advisable to
steep it in water, and this, in our dry climate, I considered most

My wife agreed to this, and proposed that we should convey it to
Flamingo Marsh; and we spent the rest of the day in tying up the leaves
in bundles. Next morning, we loaded our cart, and proceeded to the
marsh: we there untied our bundles, and spread them in the water,
pressing them down with stones, and leaving them till it was time to
take them out to dry. We could not but admire here the ingenious nests
of the flamingo; they are of a conical form, raised above the level of
the marsh, having a recess above, in which the eggs are deposited, out
of the reach of danger, and the female can sit on them with her legs in
the water. These nests are of clay, and so solid, that they resist the
water till the young are able to swim.

In a fortnight the flax was ready to be taken out of the water; we
spread it in the sun, which dried it so effectually, that we brought it
to Falcon's Nest the same evening, where it was stored till we were
ready for further operations. At present we laboured to lay up provision
for the rainy season, leaving all sedentary occupations to amuse us in
our confinement. We brought in continually loads of sweet acorns,
manioc, potatoes, wood, fodder for the cattle, sugar-canes, fruit,
indeed everything that might be useful during the uncertain period of
the rainy season. We profited by the last few days to sow the wheat and
other remaining European grains, that the rain might germinate them. We
had already had some showers; the temperature was variable, the sky
became cloudy, and the wind rose. The season changed sooner than we
expected; the winds raged through the woods, the sea roared, mountains
of clouds were piled in the heavens. They soon burst over our heads, and
torrents of rain fell night and day, without intermission; the rivers
swelled till their waters met, and turned the whole country around us
into an immense lake. Happily we had formed our little establishment on
a spot rather elevated above the rest of the valley; the waters did not
quite reach our tree, but surrounded us about two hundred yards off,
leaving us on a sort of island in the midst of the general inundation.
We were reluctantly obliged to descend from our aerial abode; the rain
entered it on all sides, and the hurricane threatened every moment to
carry away the apartment, and all that were in it. We set about our
removal, bringing down our hammocks and bedding to the sheltered space
under the roots of the trees that we had roofed for the animals. We were
painfully crowded in the small space; the stores of provisions, the
cooking-utensils, and especially the neighbourhood of the animals, and
the various offensive smells, made our retreat almost insupportable. We
were choked with smoke if we lighted a fire, and inundated with rain if
we opened a door. For the first time since our misfortune, we sighed for
the comforts of our native home; but action was necessary, and we set
about endeavouring to amend our condition.

The winding staircase was very useful to us; the upper part was crowded
with things we did not want, and my wife frequently worked in the lower
part, at one of the windows. We crowded our beasts a little more, and
gave a current of air to the places they had left. I placed outside the
enclosure the animals of the country, which could bear the inclemency of
the season; thus I gave a half-liberty to the buffalo and the onagra,
tying their legs loosely, to prevent them straying, the boughs of the
tree affording them a shelter. We made as few fires as possible, as,
fortunately it was never cold, and we had no provisions that required a
long process of cookery. We had milk in abundance, smoked meat, and
fish, the preserved ortolans, and cassava cakes. As we sent out some of
our animals in the morning, with bells round their necks, Fritz and I
had to seek them and bring them in every evening, when we were
invariably wet through. This induced my ingenious Elizabeth to make us a
sort of blouse and hood out of old garments of the sailors, which we
covered with coatings of the caoutchouc, and thus obtained two capital
waterproof dresses; all that the exhausted state of our gum permitted
us to make.

The care of our animals occupied us a great part of the morning, then we
prepared our cassava, and baked our cakes on iron plates. Though we had
a glazed door to our hut, the gloominess of the weather, and the
obscurity caused by the vast boughs of the tree, made night come on
early. We then lighted a candle, fixed in a gourd on the table, round
which we were all assembled. The good mother laboured with her needle,
mending the clothes; I wrote my journal, which Ernest copied, as he
wrote a beautiful hand; while Fritz and Jack taught their young brother
to read and write, or amused themselves with drawing the animals or
plants they had been struck with. We read the lessons from the Bible in
turns, and concluded the evening with devotion. We then retired to rest,
content with ourselves and with our innocent and peaceful life. Our kind
housekeeper often made us a little feast of a roast chicken, a pigeon,
or a duck, and once in four or five days we had fresh butter made in the
gourd churn; and the delicious honey which we ate to our cassava bread
might have been a treat to European epicures.

The remains of our repast was always divided among our domestic animals.
We had four dogs, the jackal, the eagle, and the monkey, who relied on
their masters, and were never neglected. But if the buffalo, the onagra,
and the sow had not been able to provide for themselves, we must have
killed them, for we had no food for them.

We now decided that we would not expose ourselves to another rainy
season in such an unsuitable habitation; even my gentle Elizabeth got
out of temper with the inconveniences, and begged we would build a
better winter house; stipulating, however, that we should return to our
tree in summer. We consulted a great deal on this matter; Fritz quoted
Robinson Crusoe, who had cut a dwelling out of the rock, which sheltered
him in the inclement season; and the idea of making our home at Tent
House naturally came into my mind. It would probably be a long and
difficult undertaking, but with time, patience, and perseverance, we
might work wonders. We resolved, as soon as the weather would allow us,
to go and examine the rocks at Tent House.

The last work of the winter was, at my wife's incessant request, a
beetle for her flax, and some carding-combs. The beetle was easily made,
but the combs cost much trouble. I filed large nails till they were
round and pointed, I fixed them, slightly inclined, at equal distances,
in a sheet of tin, and raised the edge like a box; I then poured melted
lead between the nails and the edge, to fix them more firmly. I nailed
this on a board, and the machine was fit for use, and my wife was all
anxiety to begin her manufacture.

* * * * *


I cannot describe our delight when, after long and gloomy weeks, we saw
at length the sky clear, and the sun, dispersing the dark clouds of
winter, spread its vivifying rays over all nature; the winds were
lulled, the waters subsided, and the air became mild and serene. We went
out, with shouts of joy, to breathe the balmy air, and gratified our
eyes with the sight of the fresh verdure already springing up around us.
Nature seemed in her youth again, and amidst the charms that breathed on
every side, we forgot our sufferings, and, like the children of Noah
coming forth from the ark, we raised a hymn of thanksgiving to the Giver
of all good.

All our plantations and seeds had prospered. The corn was springing, and
the trees were covered with leaves and blossoms. The air was perfumed
with the odour of countless beautiful flowers; and lively with the songs
and cries of hundreds of brilliant birds, all busy building their nests.
This was really spring in all its glory.

We began our summer occupation by cleaning and putting in order our
dormitory in the tree, which the rain and the scattered leaves had
greatly deranged; and in a few days we were able to inhabit it again. My
wife immediately began with her flax; while my sons were leading the
cattle to the pasture, I took the bundles of flax into the open air,
where I constructed a sort of oven of stone, which dried it completely.
We began that very evening to strip, beat, and comb it; and I drew out
such handfuls of soft, fine flax, ready for spinning, that my wife was
overjoyed, and begged me to make her a wheel, that she might commence.

I had formerly had a little taste for turning, and though I had now
neither lathe nor any other of the tools, yet I knew how a
spinning-wheel and reel should be made, and, by dint of application, I
succeeded in completing these two machines to her satisfaction. She
began to spin with so much earnestness, that she would hardly take a
walk, and reluctantly left her wheel to make dinner ready. She employed
Francis to reel off the thread as she spun it, and would willingly have
had the elder boys to take her place when she was called off; but they
rebelled at the effeminate work, except Ernest, whose indolent habits
made him prefer it to more laborious occupation.

In the mean time we walked over to Tent House to see the state of
things, and found that winter had done more damage there than at
Falcon's Nest. The storm had overthrown the tent, carried away some of
the sailcloth, and injured our provisions so much, that great part was
good for nothing, and the rest required to be immediately dried.
Fortunately our beautiful pinnace had not suffered much,--it was still
safe at anchor, and fit for use; but our tub boat was entirely

Our most important loss was two barrels of gunpowder, which had been
left in the tent, instead of under the shelter of the rock, and which
the rain had rendered wholly useless. This made us feel still more
strongly the necessity of securing for the future a more suitable
shelter than a canvas tent, or a roof of foliage. Still I had small hope
from the gigantic plan of Fritz or the boldness of Jack. I could not be
blind to the difficulties of the undertaking. The rocks which surrounded
Tent House presented an unbroken surface, like a wall without any
crevice, and, to all appearance, of so hard a nature as to leave little
hopes of success. However, it was necessary to try to contrive some sort
of cave, if only for our gunpowder. I made up my mind, and selected the
most perpendicular face of the rock as the place to begin our work. It
was a much pleasanter situation than our tent, commanding a view of the
whole bay, and the two banks of Jackal River, with its picturesque
bridge. I marked out with chalk the dimension of the entrance I wished
to give to the cave; then my sons and I took our chisels, pickaxes, and
heavy miner's hammers, and began boldly to hew the stone.

Our first blows produced very little effect; the rock seemed
impenetrable, the sun had so hardened the surface; and the sweat poured
off our brows with the hard labour. Nevertheless, the efforts of my
young workmen did not relax. Every evening we left our work advanced,
perhaps, a few inches; and every morning returned to the task with
renewed ardour. At the end of five or six days, when the surface of the
rock was removed, we found the stone become easier to work; it then
seemed calcarious, and, finally, only a sort of hardened clay, which we
could remove with spades; and we began to hope. After a few days' more
labour, we found we had advanced about seven feet. Fritz wheeled out the
rubbish, and formed a sort of terrace with it before the opening; while
I was working at the higher part, Jack, as the least, worked below. One
morning he was hammering an iron bar, which he had pointed at the end,
into the rock, to loosen the earth, when he suddenly cried out--

"Papa! papa! I have pierced through!"

"Not through your hand, child?" asked I.

"No, papa!" cried he; "I have pierced through the mountain! Huzza!"

Fritz ran in at the shout, and told him he had better have said at once
that he had pierced through the earth! But Jack persisted that, however
his brother might laugh, he was quite sure he had felt his iron bar
enter an empty space behind. I now came down from my ladder, and, moving
the bar, I felt there was really a hollow into which the rubbish fell,
but apparently very little below the level we were working on. I took a
long pole and probed the cavity, and found that it must be of
considerable size. My boys wished to have the opening enlarged and to
enter immediately, but this I strictly forbade; for, as I leaned forward
to examine it through the opening, a rush of mephitic air gave me a sort
of vertigo. "Come away, children," cried I, in terror; "the air you
would breathe there is certain death." I explained to them that, under
certain circumstances, carbonic acid gas was frequently accumulated in
caves or grottoes, rendering the air unfit for respiration; producing
giddiness of the head, fainting, and eventually death. I sent them to
collect some hay, which I lighted and threw into the cave; this was
immediately extinguished; we repeated the experiment several times with
the same result. I now saw that more active means must be resorted to.

We had brought from the vessel a box of fireworks, intended for signals;
I threw into the cave, by a cord, a quantity of rockets, grenades, &c.,
and scattered a train of gunpowder from them; to this I applied a long
match, and we retired to a little distance. This succeeded well; a great
explosion agitated the air, a torrent of the carbonic acid gas rushed
through the opening, and was replaced by the pure air; we sent in a few
more rockets, which flew round like fiery dragons, disclosing to us the
vast extent of the cave. A shower of stars, which concluded our
experiment, made us wish the duration had been longer. It seemed as if a
crowd of winged genii, carrying each a lamp, were floating about in that
enchanted cavern. When they vanished, I threw in some more lighted hay,
which blazed in such a lively manner, that I knew all danger was over
from the gas; but, for fear of deep pits, or pools of water, I would not
venture in without lights. I therefore despatched Jack, on his buffalo,
to report this discovery to his mother, and bring all the candles she
had made. I purposely sent Jack on the errand, for his lively and poetic
turn of mind would, I hoped, invest the grotto with such charms, that
his mother would even abandon her wheel to come and see it.

[Illustration: "This succeeded well; a great explosion agitated the
air--a torrent of the carbonic acid gas rushed through the opening."]

Delighted with his commission, Jack leaped upon his buffalo, and, waving
his whip, galloped off with an intrepidity that made my hair stand on
end. During his absence, Fritz and I enlarged the opening, to make it
easy of access, removed all the rubbish, and swept a road for mamma. We
had just finished, when we heard the sound of wheels crossing the
bridge, and the cart appeared, drawn by the cow and ass, led by Ernest.
Jack rode before on his buffalo, blowing through his hand to imitate a
horn, and whipping the lazy cow and ass. He rode up first, and alighted
from his huge courser, to help his mother out.

I then lighted our candles, giving one to each, with a spare candle and
flint and steel in our pockets. We took our arms, and proceeded in a
solemn manner into the rock. I walked first, my sons followed, and their
mother came last, with Francis. We had not gone on above a few steps,
when we stopped, struck with wonder and admiration; all was glittering
around us; we were in a grotto of diamonds! From the height of the lofty
vaulted roof hung innumerable crystals, which, uniting with those on the
walls, formed colonnades, altars, and every sort of gothic ornament of
dazzling lustre, creating a fairy palace, or an illuminated temple.

When we were a little recovered from our first astonishment, we advanced
with more confidence. The grotto was spacious, the floor smooth, and
covered with a fine dry sand. From the appearance of these crystals, I
suspected their nature, and, on breaking off a piece and tasting it, I
found, to my great joy, that we were in a grotto of rock salt, which is
found in large masses in the earth, usually above a bed of gypsum, and
surrounded by fossils. We were charmed with this discovery, of which we
could no longer have a doubt. What an advantage this was to our cattle,
and to ourselves! We could now procure this precious commodity without
care or labour. The acquisition was almost as valuable as this brilliant
retreat was in itself, of which we were never tired of admiring the
beauty. My wife was struck with our good fortune in opening the rock
precisely at the right spot; but I was of opinion, that this mine was of
great extent, and that we could not well have missed it. Some blocks of
salt were scattered on the ground, which had apparently fallen from the
vaulted roof. I was alarmed; for such an accident might destroy one of
my children; but, on examination, I found the mass above too solid to be
detached spontaneously, and I concluded that the explosion of the
fireworks had given this shock to the subterranean palace, which had not
been entered since the creation of the world. I feared there might yet
be some pieces loosened; I therefore sent out my wife and younger sons.
Fritz and I remained, and, after carefully examining the suspected
parts, we fired our guns, and watched the effect; one or two pieces
fell, but the rest remained firm, though we struck with long poles as
high as we could reach. We were now satisfied of the security of our
magnificent abode, and began to plan our arrangements for converting it
into a convenient and pleasant habitation. The majority were for coming
here immediately, but the wiser heads determined that, for this year,
Falcon's Nest was to continue our home. There we went every night, and
spent the day at Tent House, contriving and arranging our future
winter dwelling.

* * * * *


The last bed of rock, before we reached the cave which Jack had pierced,
was so soft, and easy to work, that we had little difficulty in
proportioning and opening the place for our door; I hoped that, being
now exposed to the heat of the sun, it would soon become as hard as the
original surface. The door was that we had used for the staircase at
Falcon's Nest; for as we only intended to make a temporary residence of
our old tree, there was no necessity for solid fittings; and, besides, I
intended to close the entrance of the tree by a door of bark, more
effectually to conceal it, in case savages should visit us. I then laid
out the extent of the grotto at pleasure, for we had ample space. We
began by dividing it into two parts; that on the right of the entrance
was to be our dwelling; on the left were, first, our kitchen, then the
workshop and the stables; behind these were the store-rooms and the
cellar. In order to give light and air to our apartments, it was
necessary to insert in the rock the windows we had brought from the
ship; and this cost us many days of labour. The right-hand portion was
subdivided into three rooms: the first our own bedroom; the middle, the
common sitting-room, and beyond the boys' room. As we had only three
windows, we appropriated one to each bedroom, and the third to the
kitchen, contenting ourselves, at present, with a grating in the
dining-room. I constructed a sort of chimney in the kitchen, formed of
four boards, and conducted the smoke thus, through a hole made in the
face of the rock. We made bur work-room spacious enough for us to carry
on all our manufactures, and it served also for our cart-house. Finally,
all the partition-walls were put up, communicating by doors, and
completing our commodious habitation. These various labours, the removal
of our effects, and arranging them again, all the confusion of a change
when it was necessary to be at once workmen and directors, took us a
great part of summer; but the recollection of the vexations we should
escape in the rainy season gave us energy.

We passed nearly all our time at Tent House, the centre of our
operations; and, besides the gardens and plantations which surrounded
it, we found many advantages which we profited by. Large turtles often
came to deposit their eggs in the sand, a pleasant treat for us; but we
raised our desires to the possession of the turtles themselves, living,
to eat when we chose. As soon as we saw one on the shore, one of my sons
ran to cut off its retreat. We then hastened to assist, turned the
creature on its back, passed a long cord through its shell, and tied it
firmly to a post close to the water. We then placed it on its legs, when
of course it made for the water, but could only ramble the length of its
cord; it seemed, however, very content, and we had it in readiness when
we wanted it. The lobsters, crabs, muscles, and every sort of fish which
abounded on the coast, plentifully supplied our table. One morning, we
were struck with an extraordinary spectacle: a large portion of the sea
appeared in a state of ebullition, and immense flocks of marine birds
were hovering over it, uttering piercing cries, and plunging into the
waves. From time to time the surface, on which the rising sun now shone,
seemed covered with little flames, which rapidly appeared and vanished.
Suddenly, this extraordinary mass advanced to the bay; and we ran down,
fall of curiosity. We found, on our arrival, that this strange
phenomenon was caused by a shoal of herrings. These shoals are so dense,
that they are often taken for sand-banks, are many leagues in extent,
and several feet in depth: they spread themselves over the seas,
carrying to barren shores the resources that nature has denied them.

These brilliant, scaly creatures had now entered the bay, and my wife
and children were lost in admiration of the wonderful sight; but I
reminded them, that when Providence sends plenty, we ought to put forth
our hands to take it. I sent immediately for the necessary utensils, and
organized my fishery. Fritz and Jack stood in the water, and such was
the thickness of the shoal, that they filled baskets, taking them up as
you would water in a pail; they threw them on the sand; my wife and
Ernest cut them open, cleaned them, and rubbed them with salt; I
arranged them in small barrels, a layer of herrings and a layer of salt;
and when the barrel was full, the ass, led by Francis, took them up to
the storehouse. This labour occupied us several days, and at the end of
that time we had a dozen barrels of excellent salt provision against the
winter season.

The refuse of this fishery, which we threw into the sea, attracted a
number of sea-dogs; we killed several for the sake of the skin and the
oil, which would be useful to burn in lamps, or even as an ingredient
in soap, which I hoped to make at some future time.

At this time I greatly improved my sledge, by placing it on two small
wheels belonging to the guns of the ship, making it a light and
commodious carriage, and so low, that we could easily place heavy
weights on it. Satisfied with our labours, we returned very happy to
Falcon's Nest, to spend our Sunday, and to thank God heartily for all
the blessings he had given us.

* * * * *


We went on with our labours but slowly, as many employments diverted us
from the great work. I had discovered that the crystals of salt in our
grotto had a bed of gypsum for their base, from which I hoped to obtain
a great advantage. I was fortunate enough to discover, behind a
projecting rock, a natural passage leading to our store-room, strewed
with fragments of gypsum. I took some of it to the kitchen, and by
repeated burnings calcined it, and reduced it to a fine white powder,
which I put into casks, and carefully preserved for use. My intention
was, to form our partition-walls of square stones, cemented with the
gypsum. I employed my sons daily to collect this, till we had amassed a
large quantity; using some, in the first place, effectually to cover our
herring-barrels. Four barrels were salted and covered in this way; the
rest my wife smoked in a little hut of reeds and branches, in the midst
of which the herrings were laid on sticks, and exposed to the smoke of
a fire of green moss kindled below. This dried them, and gave them the
peculiar flavour so agreeable to many.

We were visited by another shoal of fish a month after that of the
herrings. Jack first discovered them at the mouth of Jackal River, where
they had apparently come to deposit their eggs among the scattered
stones. They were so large, that he was sure they must be whales. I
found them to be pretty large sturgeons, besides salmon, large trout,
and many other fishes. Jack immediately ran for his bow and arrows, and
told me he would kill them all. He fastened the end of a ball of string
to an arrow, with a hook at the end of it; he tied the bladders of the
dog-fish at certain distances to the string; he then placed the ball
safe on the shore, took his bow, fixed the arrow in it, and aiming at
the largest salmon, shot it in the side; the fish tried to escape; I
assisted him to draw the cord; it was no easy task, for he struggled
tremendously; but at length, weakened by loss of blood, we drew him to
land, and despatched him.

The other boys came running up to congratulate the young fisherman on
his invention, and as it was to be feared that the rest, alarmed by this
attack, might take their departure, we determined to abandon everything
for the fishery. Fritz threw his harpoon, and landed, by means of the
reel, some large salmon; Ernest took his rod, and caught trout; and I,
armed like Neptune with an iron trident, succeeded in striking, amongst
the stones, some enormous fish. The greatest difficulty was to land our
booty; Fritz had struck a sturgeon at least eight feet long, which
resisted our united efforts, till my wife brought the buffalo, which we
harnessed to the line, and made ourselves masters of this immense prize.

We had a great deal of labour in opening and cleaning all our fish: some
we dried and salted; some my wife boiled in oil, as they preserve the
tunny. The spawn of the sturgeon, a huge mass, weighing not less than
thirty pounds, I laid aside to prepare as _caviare_, a favourite dish in
Holland and Russia. I carefully cleansed the eggs from the skin and
fibres that were mixed with them, washed them thoroughly in sea-water,
slightly sprinkled them with salt, then put them in a gourd pierced with
small holes to let the water escape, and placed weights on them to press
them completely for twenty-four hours. We then removed the caviare in
solid masses, like cheeses, took it to the smoking-hut to dry, and in a
few days had this large addition to our winter provision.

My next employment was the preparation of the valuable isinglass. I took
the air-bladder and sounds of the fish, cut them in strips, twisted them
in rolls, and dried them in the sun. This is all that is necessary to
prepare this excellent glue. It becomes very hard, and, when wanted for
use, is cut up in small pieces, and dissolved over a slow fire. The glue
was so white and transparent, that I hoped to make window-panes from it
instead of glass.

After this work was finished, we began to plan a boat to replace our tub
raft. I wished to try to make one of bark, as the savage nations do, and
I proposed to make an expedition in search of a tree for our purpose.
All those in our own neighbourhood were too precious to destroy; some
for their fruits, others for their shade. We resolved to search at a
distance for trees fit for our purpose, taking in our road a survey of
our plantations and fields. Our garden at Tent House produced abundantly
continual successions of vegetables in that virgin soil, and in a
climate which recognized no change of season. The peas, beans, lentils,
and lettuces were flourishing, and only required water, and our channels
from the river brought this plentifully to us. We had delicious
cucumbers and melons; the maize was already a foot high, the sugar-canes
were prospering, and the pine-apples on the high ground promised us a
rich treat.

We hoped our distant plantations were going on as well, and all set out
one fine morning to Falcon's Nest, to examine the state of things there.
We found my wife's corn-fields were luxuriant in appearance, and for the
most part ready for cutting. There were barley, wheat, oats, beans,
millet, and lentils. We cut such of these as were ready, sufficient to
give us seeds for another year. The richest crop was the maize, which
suited the soil. But there were a quantity of gatherers more eager to
taste these new productions than we were; these were birds of every
kind, from the bustard to the quail, and from the various establishments
they had formed round, it might be presumed they would not leave
much for us.

After our first shock at the sight of these robbers, we used some
measures to lessen the number of them. Fritz unhooded his eagle, and
pointed out the dispersing bustards. The well-trained bird immediately
soared, and pounced on a superb bustard, and laid it at the feet of its
master. The jackal, too, who was a capital pointer, brought to his
master about a dozen little fat quails, which furnished us with an
excellent repast; to which my wife added a liquor of her own invention,
made of the green maize crushed in water, and mingled with the juice of
the sugar-cane; a most agreeable beverage, white as milk, sweet and

We found the bustard, which the eagle had struck down, but slightly
wounded; we washed his hurts with a balsam made of wine, butter, and
water, and tied him by the leg in the poultry-yard, as a companion to
our tame bustard.

We passed the remainder of the day at Falcon's Nest, putting our summer
abode into order, and thrashing out our grain, to save the precious seed
for another year. The Turkey wheat was laid by in sheaves, till we
should have time to thrash and winnow it; and then I told Fritz that it
would be necessary to put the hand-mill in order, that we had brought
from the wreck. Fritz thought we could build a mill ourselves on the
river; but this bold scheme was, at present, impracticable.

The next day we set out on an excursion in the neighbourhood. My wife
wished to establish colonies of our animals at some distance from
Falcon's Nest, at a convenient spot, where they would be secure, and
might find subsistence. She selected from her poultry-yard twelve young
fowls; I took four young pigs, two couple of sheep, and two goats. These
animals were placed in the cart, in which we had previously placed our
provisions of every kind, and the tools and utensils we might need, not
forgetting the rope ladder and the portable tent; we then harnessed the
buffalo, the cow, and the ass, and departed on our tour.

Fritz rode before on Lightfoot, to reconnoitre the ground, that we
might not plunge into any difficulties; as, this time, we went in a new
direction, exactly in the midst between the rocks and the shore, that we
might get acquainted with the whole of the country that stretched to
Cape Disappointment. We had the usual difficulty, at first, in getting
through the high grass, and the underwood embarrassed our road, till we
were compelled to use the axe frequently. I made some trifling
discoveries that were useful, while engaged in this labour; amongst
others, some roots of trees curved like saddles, and yokes for beasts of
draught. I cut away several of these, and placed them on the cart. When
we had nearly passed the wood, we were struck with the singular
appearance of a little thicket of low bushes, apparently covered with
snow. Francis clapped his hands with joy, and begged to get out of the
cart that he might make some snowballs. Fritz galloped forward, and
returned, bringing me a branch loaded with this beautiful white down,
which, to my great joy, I recognized to be cotton. It was a discovery of
inestimable value to us, and my wife began immediately to enumerate all
the advantages we should derive from it, when I should have constructed
for her the machines for spinning and weaving the cotton. We soon
gathered as much as filled three bags, intending afterwards to collect
the seeds of this marvellous plant, to sow in the neighbourhood of
Tent House.

After crossing the plain of the cotton-trees, we reached the summit of a
hill, from which the eye rested on a terrestrial paradise. Trees of
every sort covered the sides of the hill, and a murmuring stream
crossed the plain, adding to its beauty and fertility. The wood we had
just crossed formed a shelter against the north winds, and the rich
pasture offered food for our cattle. We decided at once that this should
be the site of our farm.

We erected our tent, made a fireplace, and set about cooking our dinner.
While this was going on, Fritz and I sought a convenient spot for our
structure; and we met with a group of beautiful trees, at such a
distance one from another, as to form natural pillars for our dwelling;
we carried all our tools here; but as the day was far advanced, we
delayed commencing our work till next day. We returned to the tent, and
found my wife and her boys picking cotton, with which they made some
very comfortable beds, and we slept peacefully under our canvass roof.

* * * * *


The trees which I had chosen for my farmhouse were about a foot in
diameter in the trunk. They formed a long square; the long side facing
the sea. The dimensions of the whole were about twenty-four feet by
sixteen. I cut deep mortices in the trees, about ten feet distant from
the ground, and again ten feet higher, to form a second story; I then
placed in them strong poles: this was the skeleton of my house--solid,
if not elegant; I placed over this a rude roof of bark, cut in squares,
and placed sloping, that the rain might run off. We fastened these with
the thorn of the acacia, as our nails were too precious to be lavished.
While procuring the bark, we made many discoveries. The first was that
of two remarkable trees,--the _Pistacia terebinthus_ and the _Pistacia
atlantica;_ the next, the thorny acacia, from which we got the
substitute for nails.

The instinct of my goats led us also to find out, among the pieces of
bark, that of the cinnamon, not perhaps equal to that of Ceylon, but
very fragrant and agreeable. But this was of little value, compared to
the turpentine and mastic I hoped to procure from the pistachios, to
compose a sort of pitch to complete our intended boat.

We continued our work at the house, which occupied us several days. We
formed the walls of thin laths interwoven with long pliant reeds for
about six feet from the ground; the rest was merely a sort of light
trellis-work, to admit light and air. The door opened on the front to
the sea. The interior consisted simply of a series of compartments,
proportioned to the guests they were to contain. One small apartment was
for ourselves, when we chose to visit our colony. On the upper story was
a sort of hayloft for the fodder. We projected plastering the walls with
clay; but these finishing touches we deferred to a future time,
contented that we had provided a shelter for our cattle and fowls. To
accustom them to come to this shelter of themselves, we took care to
fill their racks with the food they liked best, mingled with salt; and
this we proposed to renew at intervals, till the habit of coming to
their houses was fixed. We all laboured ardently, but the work proceeded
slowly, from our inexperience; and the provisions we had brought were
nearly exhausted. I did not wish to return to Falcon's Nest till I had
completed my new establishment, and therefore determined to send Fritz
and Jack to look after the animals at home, and bring back a fresh stock
of provisions. Our two young couriers set out, each on his favourite
steed, Fritz leading the ass to bring back the load, and Jack urging the
indolent animal forward with his whip.

During their absence, Ernest and I made a little excursion, to add to
our provision--if we could meet with them, some potatoes and cocoa-nuts.
We ascended the stream for some time, which led us to a large marsh,
beyond which we discovered a lake abounding with water-fowl. This lake
was surrounded by tall, thick grass, with ears of a grain, which I found
to be a very good, though small, sort of rice. As to the lake itself, it
is only a Swiss, accustomed from his infancy to look on such smooth,
tranquil waters, that can comprehend the happiness we felt on looking
upon this. We fancied we were once more in Switzerland, our own dear
land; but the majestic trees and luxuriant vegetation soon reminded us
we were no longer in Europe, and that the ocean separated us from our
native home.

In the mean time, Ernest had brought down several birds, with a skill
and success that surprised me. A little after, we saw Knips leap off the
back of his usual palfrey, Flora, and, making his way through the rich
grass, collect and carry rapidly to his mouth something that seemed
particularly to please his palate. We followed him, and, to our great
comfort, were able to refresh ourselves with that delicious strawberry
called in Europe the Chili or pineapple strawberry. We ate plentifully
of this fruit, which was of enormous size; Ernest especially enjoyed
them, but did not forget the absent; he filled Knips's little pannier
with them, and I covered them with large leaves, which I fastened down
with reeds, lest he should take a fancy to help himself as we went home.
I took, also, a specimen of rice, for the inspection of our good
housekeeper, who would, I knew, rejoice in such an acquisition.

We proceeded round the lake, which presented a different scene on every
side. This was one of the most lovely and fertile parts we had yet seen
of this country. Birds of all kinds abounded; but we were particularly
struck with a pair of black swans, sailing majestically on the water.
Their plumage was perfectly black and glossy, except the extremity of
the wings, which was white. Ernest would have tried his skill again, but
I forbade him to disturb the profound tranquillity of this
charming region.

But Flora, who probably had not the same taste for the beauties of
nature that I had, suddenly darted forward like an arrow, pounced upon a
creature that was swimming quietly at the edge of the water, and brought
it to us. It was a most curious animal. It resembled an otter in form,
but was web-footed, had an erect bushy tail like the squirrel, small
head, eyes and ears almost invisible. A long, flat bill, like that of a
duck, completed its strange appearance. We were completely puzzled--even
Ernest, the naturalist, could not give its name. I boldly gave it the
name of the beast with a bill. I told Ernest to take it, as I wished to
stuff and preserve it.

"It will be," said the little philosopher, "the first natural object for
our museum."

"Exactly," replied I; "and, when the establishment is fully arranged,
we will appoint you curator."

But, thinking my wife would grow uneasy at our protracted absence, we
returned by a direct road to the tent. Our two messengers arrived about
the same time, and we all sat down together to a cheerful repast. Every
one related his feats. Ernest dwelt on his discoveries, and was very
pompous in his descriptions, and I was obliged to promise to take Fritz
another time. I learnt, with pleasure, that all was going on well at
Falcon's Nest, and that the boys had had the forethought to leave the
animals with provisions for ten days. This enabled me to complete my
farmhouse. We remained four days longer, in which time I finished the
interior, and my wife arranged in our own apartment the cotton
mattresses, to be ready for our visits, and put into the houses the
fodder and grain for their respective tenants. We then loaded our cart,
and began our march. The animals wished to follow us, but Fritz, on
Lightfoot, covered our retreat, and kept them at the farm till we were
out of sight.

We did not proceed directly, but went towards the wood of monkeys. These
mischievous creatures assaulted us with showers of the fir-apples; but a
few shots dispersed our assailants.

Fritz collected some of these new fruits they had flung at us, and I
recognized them as those of the stone Pine, the kernel of which is good
to eat, and produces an excellent oil. We gathered a bag of these, and
continued our journey till we reached the neighbourhood of Cape
Disappointment. There we ascended a little hill, from the summit of
which we looked upon rich plains, rivers, and woods clothed with verdure
and brilliant flowers, and gay birds that fluttered among the bushes.
"Here, my children," cried I, "here we will build our summer house. This
is truly Arcadia." Here we placed our tent, and immediately began to
erect a new building, formed in the same manner as the Farm House, but
now executed more quickly. We raised the roof in the middle, and made
four sloped sides. The interior was divided into eating and sleeping
apartments, stables, and a store-room for provisions; the whole was
completed and provisioned in ten days; and we had now another mansion
for ourselves, and a shelter for new colonies of animals. This new
erection received the name of Prospect Hill, to gratify Ernest, who
thought it had an English appearance.

However, the end for which our expedition was planned was not yet
fulfilled. I had not yet met with a tree likely to suit me for a boat.
We returned then to inspect the trees, and I fixed on a sort of oak, the
bark of which was closer than that of the European oak, resembling more
that of the cork-tree. The trunk was at least five feet in diameter, and
I fancied its coating, if I could obtain it whole, would perfectly
answer my purpose. I traced a circle at the foot, and with a small saw
cut the bark entirely through; Fritz, by means of the rope ladder we had
brought with us, and attached to the lower branches of the tree,
ascended, and cut a similar circle eighteen feet above mine. We then cut
out, perpendicularly, a slip the whole length, and, removing it, we had
room to insert the necessary tools, and, with wedges, we finally
succeeded in loosening the whole. The first part was easy enough, but
there was greater difficulty as we advanced. We sustained it as we
proceeded with ropes, and then gently let it down on the grass. I
immediately began to form my boat while the bark was fresh and flexible.
My sons, in their impatience, thought it would do very well if we nailed
a board at each end of the roll; but this would have been merely a heavy
trough, inelegant and unserviceable; I wished to have one that would
look well by the side of the pinnace; and this idea at once rendered my
boys patient and obedient. We began by cutting out at each end of the
roll of bark a triangular piece of about five feet long; then, placing
the sloping parts one over the other, I united them with pegs and strong
glue, and thus finished the ends of my boat in a pointed form. This
operation having widened it too much in the middle, we passed strong
ropes round it, and drew it into the form we required. We then exposed
it to the sun, which dried and fixed it in the proper shape.

As many things were necessary to complete my work, I sent Fritz and Jack
to Tent House for the sledge, to convey it there, that we might finish
it more conveniently. I had the good fortune to meet with some very
hard, crooked wood, the natural curve of which would be admirably
suitable for supporting the sides of the boat. We found also a resinous
tree, which distilled a sort of pitch, easy to manage, and which soon
hardened in the sun. My wife and Francis collected sufficient of it for
my work. It was almost night when our two messengers returned. We had
only time to sup and retire to our rest.

We were all early at work next morning. We loaded the sledge, placing on
it the canoe, the wood for the sides, the pitch, and some young trees,
which I had transplanted for our plantation at Tent House, and which we
put into the boat. But, before we set out, I wished to erect a sort of
fortification at the pass of the rock, for the double purpose of
securing us against the attacks of wild beasts or of savages, and for
keeping enclosed, in the savannah beyond the rocks, some young pigs,
that we wished to multiply there, out of the way of our fields and

As we crossed the sugar-cane plantation, I saw some bamboos larger than
any I had ever met with, and we cut down one for a mast to our canoe. We
now had the river to our left, and the chain of rocks to our right,
which here approached the river, leaving only a narrow pass. At the
narrowest part of this we raised a rampart before a deep ditch, which
could only be crossed by a drawbridge we placed there. Beyond the
bridge, we put a narrow gate of woven bamboos, to enable us to enter the
country beyond, when we wished. We planted the side of the rampart with
dwarf palms, India fig, and other thorny shrubs, making a winding path
through the plantation, and digging in the midst a hidden pitfall, known
to ourselves by four low posts, intended to support a plank bridge when
we wished to cross it. After this was completed, we built a little
_chalet_ of bark in that part of the plantation that faced the stream,
and gave it the name of the Hermitage, intending it for a
resting-place. After several days of hard labour, we returned to
Prospect Hill, and took a little relaxation. The only work we did was to
prepare the mast, and lay it on the sledge with the rest.

The next morning we returned to Tent House, where we immediately set to
work on our canoe with such diligence that it was soon completed. It was
solid and elegant, lined through with wood, and furnished with a keel.
We provided it with brass rings for the oars, and stays for the mast.
Instead of ballast, I laid at the bottom a layer of stones covered with
clay, and over this a flooring of boards. The benches for the rowers
were laid across, and in the midst the bamboo mast rose majestically,
with a triangular sail. Behind I fixed the rudder, worked by a tiller;
and I could boast now of having built a capital canoe.

Our fleet was now in good condition. For distant excursions we could
take the pinnace, but the canoe would be invaluable for the
coasting service.

Our cow had, in the mean time, given us a young male calf, which I
undertook to train for service, as I had done the buffalo, beginning by
piercing its nostrils; and the calf promised to be docile and useful;
and, as each of the other boys had his favourite animal to ride, I
bestowed the bull on Francis, and intrusted him with its education, to
encourage him to habits of boldness and activity. He was delighted with
his new charger, and chose to give him the name of Valiant.

We had still two months before the rainy season, and this time we
devoted to completing the comforts of our grotto. We made all the
partitions of wood, except those which divided us from the stables,
which we built of stone, to exclude any smell from the animals. We soon
acquired skill in our works; we had a plentiful supply of beams and
planks from the ship; and by practice we became very good plasterers. We
covered the floors with a sort of well-beaten mud, smoothed it, and it
dried perfectly hard. We then contrived a sort of felt carpet. We first
covered the floor with sailcloth; we spread over this wool and goats'
hair mixed, and poured over it isinglass dissolved, rolling up the
carpet, and beating it well. When this was dry, we repeated the process,
and in the end had a felt carpet. We made one of these for each room, to
guard against any damp that we might be subject to in the rainy season.

The privations we had suffered the preceding winter increased the
enjoyment of our present comforts. The rainy season came on; we had now
a warm, well-lighted, convenient habitation, and abundance of excellent
provision for ourselves and our cattle. In the morning, we could attend
to their wants without trouble, for the rain-water, carefully collected
in clean vessels, prevented the necessity of going to the river. We then
assembled in the dining-room to prayers. After that we went to our
work-room. My wife took her wheel, or her loom, which was a rude
construction of mine, but in which she had contrived to weave some
useful cloth of wool and cotton, and also some linen, which she had made
up for us. Everybody worked; the workshop was never empty. I contrived,
with the wheel of a gun, to arrange a sort of lathe, by means of which
I and my sons produced some neat furniture and utensils. Ernest
surpassed us all in this art, and made some elegant little things for
his mother.

After dinner, our evening occupations commenced; our room was lighted up
brilliantly; we did not spare our candles, which were so easily
procured, and we enjoyed the reflection in the elegant crystals above
us. We had partitioned off a little chapel in one corner of the grotto,
which we had left untouched, and nothing could be more magnificent than
this chapel lighted up, with its colonnades, portico, and altars. We had
divine service here every Sunday. I had erected a sort of pulpit, from
which I delivered a short sermon to my congregation, which I endeavoured
to render as simple and as instructive as possible.

Jack and Francis had a natural taste for music. I made them flageolets
of reeds, on which they acquired considerable skill. They accompanied
their mother, who had a very good voice; and this music in our lofty
grotto had a charming effect.

We had thus made great steps towards civilization; and, though
condemned, perhaps, to pass our lives alone on this unknown shore, we
might yet be happy. We were placed in the midst of abundance. We were
active, industrious, and content; blessed with health, and united by
affection, our minds seemed to enlarge and improve every day. We saw
around us on every side traces of the Divine wisdom and beneficence; and
our hearts overflowed with love and veneration for that Almighty hand
which had so miraculously saved, and continued to protect us. I humbly
trusted in Him, either to restore us to the world, or send some beings
to join us in this beloved island, where for two years we had seen no
trace of man. To Him we committed our fate. We were happy and tranquil,
looking with resignation to the future.


* * * * *


It is necessary to explain how this first part of the journal of the
Swiss pastor came into my hands.

Three or four years after the family had been cast on this desert coast,
where, as we see, they lived a happy and contented life, an English
transport was driven by a storm upon the same shore. This vessel was the
_Adventurer_, Captain Johnson, and was returning from New Zealand to the
eastern coast of North America, by Otaheite, to fetch a cargo of furs
for China, and then to proceed from Canton to England. A violent storm,
which lasted several days, drove them out of their course. For many days
they wandered in unknown seas, and the ship was so injured by the storm,
that the captain looked out for some port to repair it. They discovered
a rocky coast, and, as the violence of the wind was lulled, ventured to
approach the shore. At a short distance they anchored, and sent a boat
to examine the coast. Lieutenant Bell, who went with the boat, knew a
little German. They were some time before they could venture to land
among the rocks which guarded the island, but, turning the promontory,
they saw Safety Bay, and entering it, were astonished to see a handsome
pinnace and boat at anchor, near the strand a tent, and in the rock
doors and windows, like those of a European house.

They landed, and saw a middle-aged man coming to meet them, clothed in
European fashion, and well armed. After a friendly salutation, they
first spoke in German and then in English. This was the good father; the
family were at Falcon's Nest, where they were spending the summer. He
had seen the vessel in the morning through his telescope, but, unwilling
to alarm, or to encourage hopes that might be vain, he had not spoken of
it, but come alone towards the coast.

After much friendly conference, the party were regaled with all
hospitality at Tent House, the good Swiss gave the Lieutenant this first
part of his journal for the perusal of Captain Johnson, and, after an
hour's conversation, they separated, hoping to have a pleasant
meeting next day.

But Heaven decreed it otherwise. During the night, another fearful storm
arose; the _Adventurer_ lost its anchor, and was driven out to sea; and,
after several days of anxiety and danger, found itself so far from the
island, and so much shattered, that all thoughts of returning were given
up for that time, and Captain Johnson reluctantly relinquished the hope
of rescuing the interesting family.

Thus it happened that the first part of this journal was brought to
England, and from thence sent to me, a friend of the family, in
Switzerland, accompanied by a letter from the Captain, declaring, that
he could have no rest till he found, and became acquainted with, this
happy family; that he would search for the island in his future voyages,
and either bring away the family, or, if they preferred to remain, he
would send out from England some colonists, and everything that might be
necessary to promote their comfort. A rough map of the island is added
to the journal, executed by Fritz, the eldest son.

* * * * *



I left the reader at the moment in which I had placed the first part of
my journal in the hands of Lieutenant Bell, to deliver to Captain
Johnson, of the English vessel the _Adventurer_, expecting him to return
the next day with Lieutenant Bell. We separated in this hope, and I
thought it necessary to inform my family of this expected visit, which
might decide their future lot. My wife and elder sons might wish to
seize this only occasion that might occur to revisit their native
country--to quit their beloved island, which would doubtless cost them
much sorrow at the last moment, but was necessary to their future
comfort. I could not help feeling distressed at the prospect of my dear
children's solitary old age, and I determined, if they did not wish to
return with Captain Johnson, to request him to send some colonists out
to people our island.

It will be remembered that I had left home alone, and at an early hour,
having perceived a vessel from the top of our tree with my telescope. I
had set out without breakfast, without giving my sons their tasks, or
making any arrangements for the labours of the day. My conference with
Lieutenant Bell had been long; it was now past noon, and knowing how
prompt my wife was to alarm herself, I was surprised that I did not
meet her, nor any of my sons. I began to be uneasy, and on my arrival I
hastily mounted the tree, and found my faithful partner extended on her
bed, surrounded by her four sons, and apparently in great pain. I
demanded, with a cry of grief, what had happened; all wished to speak at
once, and it was with some difficulty I learned, that my dear wife, in
descending the staircase, had been seized with a giddiness in her head,
and had fallen down and injured herself so much, that she was unable to
rise without assistance; she was now enduring great pain in her right
leg and in her left foot. "Ernest and I," added Fritz, "carried her
without delay to her bed, though not without difficulty, for the
staircase is so narrow; but she continued to get worse, and we did not
know what to do."

_Jack_. I have rubbed her foot continually, but it swells more and more,
as well as her leg, which I dare not touch, it hurts her so much.

_Ernest_. I remember, father, that of the chests that we brought from
the ship there is one unopened, which is marked "_medicines,"_--may it
not contain something that will relieve mamma?

_Father_. Perhaps it may, my son. You did well to remember it; we will
go to Tent House for it. Fritz, you shall accompany me to assist in
bringing it.

I wished to be alone with Fritz, to consult him about the English
vessel, and was glad of this opportunity. Before I left my wife, I
intended to examine her leg and foot, which were exceedingly painful.
When I was preparing to enter the Church, I had studied medicine and
practical surgery, in order to be able to administer to the bodily
afflictions of my poor parishioners, as well as to their spiritual
sorrows. I knew how to bleed, and could replace a dislocated limb. I had
often made cures; but since my arrival at the island I had neglected my
medical studies, which happily had not been needed. I hoped now,
however, to recall as much of my knowledge as would be sufficient to
cure my poor wife. I examined her foot first, which I found to be
violently sprained. She begged me then to look at her leg, and what was
my distress when I saw it was fractured above the ancle; however, the
fracture appeared simple, without splinters, and easy to cure. I sent
Fritz without delay to procure me two pieces of the bark of a tree,
between which I placed the leg, after having, with the assistance of my
son, stretched it till the two pieces of broken bone united; I then
bound it with bandages of linen, and tied the pieces of bark round the
leg, so that it might not be moved. I bound the sprained foot very
tightly, till I could procure the balsam which I expected to find in the
chest. I felt assured, that the giddiness of the head, which had caused
her fall, proceeded from some existing cause, which I suspected, from
the pulse and the complexion, must be a fulness of blood; and it
appeared to be necessary to take away some ounces, which I persuaded her
to allow me to do, when I should have brought my medicine-chest and
instruments from Tent House. I left her, with many charges, to the care
of my three younger sons, and proceeded to Tent House with Fritz, to
whom I now related my morning adventure, and consulted him how we should
mention it to his mother. Fritz was astonished. I saw how his mind was
employed; he looked round on our fields and plantations, increasing and

"We must not tell her, father," said he. "I will be at Tent House early
in the morning; you must give me some commission to execute; I will
await the arrival of the Captain, and tell him that my dear mother is
ill,--and that he may return as he came."

"You speak rashly, Fritz," answered I. "I have told you that this ship
has suffered much from the storm, and needs repairs. Have you not often
read the golden rule of our divine Master, _Do unto others as you would
have others do unto you?_ Our duty is to receive the Captain into our
island, and to assist him in repairing and refitting his vessel."

"And he will find," said he, "we know something of that kind of work.
Did you show him our beautiful pinnace and canoe? But can such a large
vessel enter our Bay of Safety?"

"No," replied I; "I fear there will not be sufficient water; but we will
show the captain the large bay at the other end of the island, formed by
Cape Disappointment; he will find there a beautiful harbour."

"And he and his officers may live at the farm, and we can go over every
day to assist in repairing their vessel," continued Fritz.

"Very well," said I; "and when it is finished, he will, in return, give
us a place in it to return to Europe."

"To return to Europe, father!" cried he; "to leave our beautiful winter
dwelling, Tent House, and our charming summer residence, Falcon's Nest;
our dear, good animals; our crystals of salt; our farms; so much that is
our own, and which nobody covets, to return into Europe to poverty, to
war, to those wicked soldiers who have banished us! We want nothing.
Dear father, can you consent to leave our beloved island?"

"You are right, my dear son," said I. "Would to God we might always
remain here happily together; but we are of different ages, and by the
law of nature we must one day be separated. Consider, my dear son, if
you should survive your brothers, how cheerless it would be to live
quite alone on this desert island, without any one to close your eyes.
But let us look at these trees; I see they are tamarind-trees; their
fruit contains a pulp which is very useful in medicine, and which will
suit your mother, I think, as well as the juice of the orange or lemon.
We shall find some of the latter at our plantation near Tent House; but,
in the mean time, do you climb the tamarind-tree, and gather some of
those pods which resemble those of beans, fill one side of the bag with
them, the other we will reserve for the oranges and lemons. Not to lose
any time, I will go on to Tent House to seek for the two chests, and you
can follow me."

Fritz was up the tamarind-tree in a moment. I crossed Family Bridge, and
soon reached the grotto. I lighted a candle, which I always kept ready,
entered the magazine, and found the two chests, labelled.

They were neither large nor heavy, and, having tied cords round them for
the convenience of carrying them, I proceeded to visit the orange and
lemon trees, where I found the fruit sufficiently ripe for lemonade.
Fritz came to meet me, with a good supply of tamarinds. We filled the
other end of his sack with oranges and lemons. He threw it over his
shoulder, and, neither of us being overloaded, we pursued our way
homewards very quickly, notwithstanding the heat, which was excessively
oppressive, though the sun was hidden under the thick clouds, which
entirely concealed the sea from us. Nothing was to be seen but the waves
breaking against the rocks. Fritz expressed his fears that a storm was
coming on, which might prove fatal to the vessel, and wished to take out
the pinnace and endeavour to assist Captain Johnson. Delighted as I felt
with his fearless humanity, I could not consent; I reminded him of the
situation of his mother. "Forgive me, dear father," said he; "I had
forgotten everything but the poor vessel. But the captain may do as we
did, leave his ship between the rocks, and come, with all in the vessel,
to establish themselves here. We will give them up a corner of our
islands; and if there should be any ladies amongst them, how pleasant it
would be for mamma to have a friend!"

The rain now fell in torrents, and we proceeded with great difficulty.
After crossing the bridge, we saw at a distance a very extraordinary
figure approaching us; we could not ascertain what species of animal it
was. It appeared taller than any of the monkeys we had seen, and much
larger, of a black or brown colour. We could not distinguish the head,
but it seemed to have two thick and moveable horns before it. We had
fortunately taken no gun with us, or Fritz would certainly have fired
at this singular animal. But as it rapidly approached us, we soon
recognized the step, and the cry of pleasure which hailed us. "It is
Jack," we exclaimed; and in fact it was he, who was hurrying to meet us
with my large cloak and waterproof caoutchouc boots. I had neglected to
take them, and my dear little fellow had volunteered to bring them to
Tent House. To protect himself on the way, he had put the cloak on,
covering his head with the hood, and my boots being too large for him,
he had put one on each arm, which he held up to secure the hood.
Conceive what a singular figure he made. Notwithstanding our uneasiness,
and our wretched condition, for we were wet to the skin, we could not
but laugh heartily at him. I would not consent to use the coverings he
had brought; neither Fritz nor I could be worse for the distance we had
to go, and Jack was younger and more delicate; I obliged him therefore
to retain his curious protection; and asked how he had left his mother.
"Very uneasy," said he, "about you; else I think she must be much
better, for her cheeks are very red, and her eyes very bright, and she
talks incessantly. She would have come herself to seek you, but could
not rise; and when I told her I would come, she bid me be very quick;
but when I was coming down stairs, I heard her call me back for fear of
the rain and the thunder; I would not hear her, but ran as fast as I
could, hoping to reach Tent House. Why did you come back so soon?"

"To spare you half your journey, my brave little man," said I, hastening
on; for Jack's account of his mother made me uneasy. I perceived she
must be labouring under fever, and the blood ascending to her head. My
children followed me, and we soon reached the foot of our castle in
the air.

* * * * *


We entered our apartment literally as if we had come out of the sea, and
I found my poor Elizabeth much agitated. "Heaven be praised!" said she;
"but where is Jack, that rash little fellow?"

"Here I am, mamma," said he, "as dry as when I left you. I have left my
dress below, that I might not terrify you; for if Mr. Fritz had had his
gun, I might have been shot as a _rhinoceros_, and not been here to tell
you my story."

The good mother then turned her thoughts on Fritz and me, and would not
suffer us to come near her till we had changed our drenched garments. To
oblige her, we retired to a little closet I had contrived between two
thick branches at the top of the staircase, which was used to contain
our chests of linen, our dresses, and our provisions. Our dress was soon
changed; we hung up the wet garments, and I returned to my companion,
who was suffering from her foot, but still more from a frightful
headache. She had a burning fever. I concluded that bleeding was
urgently needed, but commenced by assuaging her thirst with some
lemonade. I then opened my box of surgical instruments, and approached
the opening to the east which served us for a window, and which we
could close by means of a curtain, that was now entirely raised to give
air to our dear invalid, and to amuse my children, who were watching the
storm. The mighty waves that broke against the rocks, the vivid
lightning bursting through the castles of murky clouds, the majestic and
incessant rolling of the thunder, formed one of those enchanting
spectacles to which they had been from infancy accustomed. As in the
Swiss mountains we are liable to frightful storms, to which it is
necessary to familiarize oneself, as one cannot avoid them, I had
accustomed my wife and children, by my own example, to behold, not only
without fear, but even with admiration, these great shocks of the
elements,--these convulsions of nature.

I had opened the chest, and my children had directed their attention to
the instruments it contained; the first were a little rusty, and I
handed them to Ernest, who, after examining them, placed them on a table
inside the window. I was searching for a lancet in good condition, when
a clap of thunder, such as I had never heard in my life, terrified us
all so much, that we nearly fell down. This burst of thunder had not
been preceded by any lightning, but was accompanied by two immense
forked columns of fire, which seemed to stretch from the sky to our very
feet. We all cried out, even my poor wife; but the silence of terror
succeeded, and seemed to be the silence of death. I flew to the bedside,
and found my dear patient in a state of total insensibility. I was
convinced that she was dead, and I was dumb with despair. I was roused
from my stupor by the voice of my children. I then remembered that I
had not lost all: there still remained duties to fulfil, and affection
to console me. "My children," cried I, extending my arms to them, "come
and comfort your unfortunate father: come and lament with him the best
of wives and mothers." Terrified at the appearance of their mother, they
surrounded her bed, calling on her in piercing accents. At that moment I
saw my little Francis was missing, and my grief was augmented by the
fear that he had been killed by the lightning. I hastily turned to the
window, expecting to find my child dead, and our dwelling in flames.
Fortunately, all was safe; but, in my distraction, I scarcely thanked
God for His mercy, at the very moment even when he graciously restored
to me my lost treasures. Francis, frightened by the storm, had hidden
himself in his mother's bed, and fallen asleep; awaked by the thunder,
he had not dared to move, fearing it announced the arrival of the
savages; but at last, the cries of his brothers roused him, and raising
his pretty fair head, supposing his mother sleeping, he flung his arms
round her neck, saying, "Wake, mamma, we are all here,--papa, my
brothers, and the storm, too, which is very beautiful, but frightens me.
Open your eyes, mamma; look at the bright lightning, and kiss your
little Francis." Either his sweet voice, or the cries of her elder
children, restored her faculties: she gradually recovered, and called me
to her. The excess of my joy threatened to be almost as fatal as my
grief. With difficulty I controlled my own feelings and those of my
boys; and, after I had sent them from the bed, I ascertained that she
was not only really living, but much better. The pulse was calm, and
the fever had subsided, leaving only a weakness that was by no means
alarming. I relinquished, joyfully, the intention of bleeding her, the
necessity of which I had trembled to contemplate, and contented myself
with employing the boys to prepare a cooling mixture, composed of the
juice of the lemon, of barley, and tamarinds, which they completed to
the great satisfaction of their mother. I then ordered Fritz to descend
to the yard, to kill a fowl, pluck and boil it, to make broth,--a
wholesome and light nourishment for our dear invalid. I told one of his
brothers to assist him, and Jack and Francis, frequently employed under
their mother, were ready in a moment. Ernest alone remained quietly on
his seat, which I attributed to his usual indolence, and tried to make
him ashamed of it. "Ernest," said I, "you are not very anxious to oblige
your mother; you sit as if the thunderbolt had struck you."

"It has, indeed, rendered me unfit to be of any service to my good
mother," said he, quietly; and, drawing his right hand from under his
waistcoat, he showed it to me, most frightfully black and burnt.

This dear child, who must have suffered very much, had never uttered a
complaint, for fear of alarming his mother; and even now he made a sign
to me to be silent, lest she should hear, and discover the truth. She
soon, however, fell into a sleep, which enabled me to attend to poor
Ernest, and to question him about the accident. I learned that a long
and pointed steel instrument, which he was examining near the large
window, stooping over it to see it better, had attracted the lightning,
which, falling partly on the hand in which he held it, had caused the
misfortune. There were traces on his arm of the electric fire, and his
hair was burnt on one side. By what miracle the electric fluid had been
diverted, and how we, dwelling in a tree, had been preserved from a
sudden and general conflagration, I knew not. My son assured me he had
seen the fire run along the instrument he held, and from thence fall
perpendicularly to the earth, where it seemed to burst with a second
explosion. I was impatient to examine this phenomenon, and to see if any
other traces were left, except those on the hand of my son, which it was
necessary, in the first place, to attend to. I remembered frequently to
have applied with success in burns the most simple and easy of remedies,
which everybody can command: this is, to bathe the hand affected in cold
water, taking care to renew it every eight or ten minutes. I placed
Ernest between two tubs of cold water, and, exhorting him to patience
and perseverance, I left him to bathe his hand, and approached the
opening, to try and discover what had preserved us, by averting the
direction of the lightning, which one might have expected would have
killed my son, and destroyed our dwelling. I saw only some light traces
on the table; but, on looking more attentively, I found that the greater
part of the surgical instruments which Ernest had placed upon it were
either melted or much damaged. In examining them separately, I remarked
one much longer than the rest, which projected beyond the edge of the
table, and was much marked by the fire. I could not easily take it up;
it had adhered somewhat in melting, and, in endeavouring to disengage
it, I saw that the point, which was beyond the opening, touched a thick
wire, which seemed to be suspended from the roof of our tent. All was
now explained to me; except that I could in no way account for this
wire, placed expressly to serve as a conductor for the lightning. It
seemed to be the work of magic. The evening was too far advanced for me
to distinguish how it was fastened, and what fixed it below; therefore,
enjoining Ernest to call loudly if he needed me, I hastened down. I saw
my three cooks very busy, as I passed through, preparing the broth for
their mother--they assured me it would be excellent. Fritz boasted that
he had killed the fowl with all speed, Jack that he had plucked it
without tearing it much, and Francis that he had lighted and kept up the
fire. They had nothing to employ them just then, and I took them with me
to have some one to talk to on the phenomenon of the lightning. Below
the window I found a large packet of iron wire, which I had brought from
Tent House some days before, intending on some leisure day to make a
sort of grating before our poultry-yard. By what chance was it here, and
hooked by one end to the roof of our house? Some time before I had
replaced our cloth canopy by a sort of roof covered with bark nailed
upon laths; the cloth still enclosed the sides and front; all was so
inflammable, that, but for the providential conductor, we must have been
in flames in an instant. I thanked God for our preservation; and little
Francis, seeing me so happy, said--

"Is it quite true, papa, that this wire has preserved us?"

"Yes, it is true, my darling; and I wish to know what good genius has
placed it there, that I may be thankful," said I.

"Ah! father," said my little fellow, "embrace me, but do not thank me;
for I did not know that I was doing good."

Astonished at this information, I requested my boy to tell me why and
how he had fixed the wire?

"I wanted to reach some figs," said he, "when you and Fritz were at Tent
House, and Jack and Ernest were nursing mamma; I wished to do some good
for her. I thought she would like some of our sweet figs; but there were
none in my reach, and I had no stick long enough to beat them down. I
went below, and found that great roll of wire. I tried to break a piece
off, but could not; and I then determined to carry the whole up to our
dwelling, and to bend one end into a hook, by which I might catch some
of the branches, and bring them near me to gather the figs. I was very
successful at first, and secured one or two figs. I had my packet of
wire on the table by the window, and stood near it myself. I thought I
could reach a branch that hung over our roof, loaded with fruit. I
leaned forward, and extended my hook to the branch; I felt I had secured
it, and joyfully began to pull. You know, papa, they bend, and don't
break; but it remained immovable, as well as my hook, which was held by
one of the laths of the roof. I pulled with all my strength, and, in my
efforts, I struck my foot against the roll of wire, which fell down to
the ground without detaching the hook. You may judge how firm it is, for
it is no trifling leap from our house to the ground."

"A good work, indeed, my boy," said I, "is yours, for it has saved us.
God has inspired you, and has made use of the hand of a child for our
preservation. Your conductor shall remain where you have so happily
placed it; we may still have need of it. The sky still looks very
threatening; let us return to your mother, and take a light with us."

I had contrived a sort of portable lantern, made of isinglass, which
lighted us in our offices. Moreover, a calibash pierced with small
holes, with a candle inside, was placed at the top of the winding
staircase, and lighted it entirely, so that we were able to descend
without danger by night as w ell as by day. I was, however, uneasy about
the way we should bring my wife down, if we found it necessary to remove
her during her sickness; I named it to Fritz.

"Have no uneasiness, father," said he, "Ernest and I are very strong
now, and we can carry mamma like a feather."

"You and I might, my dear boy," said I; "but Ernest cannot be of much
assistance to us at present."

I then related his misfortune to them. They were distressed and
astonished, not comprehending the cause, which I promised to explain.
They wished now, however, to see their brother. Fritz then requested, in
a low tone of voice, that he might go to Tent House, to see if the
vessel and the captain had arrived. Seeing his brothers listening with
curiosity, I thought it best to tell them the affair, requesting them,
however, not to name it to their mother at present. Jack, who was now
about fourteen years of age, listened with the most intense interest,
his eyes sparkling with joy and surprise.

"A vessel!--people from Europe! Do you think they have come to seek us?
Perhaps they are our relations and friends."

"How glad should I be," said Francis, "if my good grandmamma were there;
she loved me so much, and was always giving me sweetmeats." This was the
mother of my dear wife, from whom she had parted with extreme regret; I
knew that a single word from the child would have revived all her
sorrows, and would in her present state be dangerous. I therefore
forbade him naming such a thing to his mother, even if we mentioned
the vessel.

We ascended, and found our dear patient awake, with Ernest at her side,
his hand tied up, and somewhat relieved; though, from not having applied
the water immediately, there were several blisters, which he requested
me to open. It was necessary to tell his mother he had had a burn; she
named several remedies, and I was hesitating which to use, when Fritz,
giving me a significant glance, said, "Don't you think, father, that the
leaves of the karata, which cured Jack's leg so well, would be is
serviceable to Ernest's hand?"

"I have no doubt of it," said I; "but we have none here."

"I know very well where they grow," said he. "Come, Jack, we shall soon
be there; we shall have a little rain, but what of that? we shall not be
melted, and we can have a bath."

My wife was divided between her desire to relieve Ernest, and her fear
of the boys venturing out in such a stormy night. She agreed at last,
provided Jack had my cloak, and Fritz the boots, and that they should
take the lantern. Thus equipped, they set out; I accompanied them
outside the tree; Fritz assuring me they would be back in three hours,
at most. He intended to proceed along the rocks towards Tent House, to
make what observations he could; for, as he told me, he could not get
the poor captain and his vessel out of his head. It was now seven
o'clock; I gave them my blessing, and left them with injunctions to be
prudent, and returned with an anxious heart to my invalids.

* * * * *


On entering, I found Francis sitting on his mother's bed, telling her
the story of the lightning, of the wire which was called _a conductor_,
of the figs that he was going to gather for her, and that papa had
called him--little Francis--_the preserver of the whole family_. Having
briefly explained to them the results of Francis's fortunate device, I
procured some raw potato to apply to Ernest's hand, which still gave him
great pain, and bathed my wife's foot with some _eau d'arquebusade_,
which I procured from my medicine-chest; here I also met with some
laudanum, a few drops of which I infused into the lemonade, wishing her
to sleep till her sons returned. She soon was in a sweet slumber; the
boys followed her example, and I was left alone with my anxieties;
happy, however, to see them at rest after such an evening of agitation.
The hours passed, still my children returned not. I was continually at
the window, listening for their steps or the sound of their voices; I
heard only the rain falling in torrents, the waves breaking against the
rocks, and the wind howling frightfully. I could not help thinking of
the danger they ran, having twice to cross the river, which was
doubtless swoln by the rain. I was not so much alarmed for Fritz, a
strong, bold youth of nineteen years of age, and a determined hunter: as
for poor Jack, bold even to rashness, and having neither strength nor
experience to secure him, I could not help fancying him carried away by
the stream, and his brother not daring to return without him. My wife
occasionally awoke, but the narcotic stupified her; she did not perceive
the absence of her sons. Francis slept tranquilly; but when Ernest
awoke, and heard the tempest so terribly augmented, he was almost
distracted; all his selfishness, all his indolence disappeared. He
entreated me to allow him to go in search of his brothers, and with
difficulty I detained him. To convince him that he was not the sole
cause of the danger of Fritz and Jack, I related to him, for the first
time, the history of the boat and the vessel, and assured him that the
great cause of their anxiety to go over to Tent House, was to search for
some traces of the unfortunate seamen and their vessel, exposed to that
furious sea.

"And Fritz, also, is exposed to that sea," cried Ernest. "I know it; I
am sure that he is at this moment in his canoe, struggling against
the waves!"

"And Jack, my poor Jack!" sighed I, infected with his fears.

"No, father," added Ernest; "be composed; Fritz will not be so
imprudent; he will have left Jack in our house at the rock; and,
probably, seeing the hopelessness of his undertaking, he is returned
himself now, and is waiting there till the stream subsides a little; do
allow me to go, dear father; you have ordered me cold water for my burnt
hand, and it will certainly cure it to get well wet."

I could not consent to expose my third son to the tempest, which was now
become frightful; the sailcloth which covered our window was torn into a
thousand pieces, and carried away; the rain, like a deluge, forced
itself into our dwelling, even to the bed where my wife and child were
lying. I could neither make up my mind to leave them myself in this
perilous situation, nor to spare my boy, who could not even be of any
use to his brothers. I commanded him to remain, succeeded in persuading
him of their probable safety, and induced him to lie down to rest. Now,
in my terrible solitude, I turned to Him, "who tempers the wind to the
shorn lamb;" who forbids us not to address Him in the trials he sends
us, to beseech Him to soften them, or to give us strength to bear them.
Kneeling down, I dared to supplicate Him to restore me my children,
submissively adding, after the example of our blessed Saviour, "Yet, not
my will, but thine be done, O Lord."

My prayers appeared to be heard; the storm gradually abated, and the day
began to break. I awoke Ernest, and having dressed his wounded hand, he
set out for Tent House, in search of his brothers. I followed him with
my eyes as far as I could see; the whole country appeared one vast lake,
and the road to Tent House was like the bed of a river; but, protected
by his good gaiters of buffalo-skin, he proceeded fearlessly, and was
soon out of my sight.

I was recalled from the window by the voice of my wife, who was awake,
and anxiously inquiring for her sons.

"They are gone," said I, "to gather the leaves of the karata for
Ernest's burnt hand, and he wished to go too."

Her deep sleep had entirely chased from her memory all the events of the
previous evening, and I was glad to allow Francis to repeat his little
tale of the burn and his _conductor_ in order to gain time. She was
astonished and uneasy to hear of Ernest's accident, and was afraid they
would _get wet_ in searching for the karata, little aware of the hours
of anguish I had endured waiting and watching for those she believed had
only just left home. At that moment, the dear and well-known voices were
heard under the great window.

"Father, I am bringing back my brothers," cried Ernest.

"Yes, papa, we are all alive, and as wet as fishes," added the sweet
voice of Jack.

"But not without having had our troubles," said the manly voice of

I rushed down the staircase to meet them, and, embracing them, I led
them, trembling with emotion, to the bed of their mother, who could not
comprehend the transport of joy I expressed.

"Dear Elizabeth," said I, "here are our sons; God has given them to us a
second time."

"Have we then been in any danger of losing them?" said she. "What is the
meaning of this?"

They saw their mother was unconscious of their long absence, and
assured her it was only the storm which had so completely wetted them,
that had alarmed me. I hastened to get them to change their clothes, and
go to bed a little while to rest themselves; as, however anxious I was
myself, I wished to prepare my wife for their recital, and also to tell
her of the vessel. Jack would not go till he had produced his bundle of
the karata leaves.

"There is enough for six-and-thirty thunderstorms," said he; "and I will
prepare them. I have had some experience with my own, and I know the
best method."

He soon divided one of the leaves with his knife, after cutting away the
triangular thorn from the end, and applied it to his brother's hand,
binding it with his handkerchief. Having completed this dressing, he
threw off his clothes, and, jumping into his bed, he and his brothers
were sound asleep in ten minutes.

I then sat down by my wife, and began my tale; from my first view of the
vessel, and my anxious watching for intercourse with it, in order that
we might take the opportunity to return to Europe.

"But why should we return to Europe?" said she; "we want nothing here
now, since I have got flax, cotton, and a wheel. Our children lead an

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