Part 5 out of 7
consented to open a passage through the grotto, at the hazard of any
visitors, in order to get through myself, that I might relieve the
anxious feelings of my dear wife and boy. The thoughts of their agony
unnerved me, and took away all courage for the commencement of a labour
which seemed impossible, our only utensils being a small saw, and a
little dibble for taking up plants, which Ernest had been unwilling to
leave behind us. The path by which Jack and I had passed was covered
with rocks and masses of soil, which obstructed even the course of the
stream; we could not discover the place we had forded, the river had
opened itself a wider course, far beyond its former one.
"It is impossible," said Fritz, gazing on the ruins, "that we can remove
all these immense stones without proper tools; but, perhaps, with a
little courage, we may cross over them, the rivulet being widened cannot
be very deep. At all events, it cannot be worse than the coral reefs."
"Let us try; but I fear it will be impossible, at least for _him_," said
I, pointing to Jack.
"_Him_, indeed, papa, and why not?" said the bold fellow; "_he_ is
perhaps as strong, and more active, than some of _them_; ask Fritz what
he thinks of his workman. Shall I go the first to show you the way?"
And he was advancing boldly, but I checked him, and said, that before we
undertook to scale these masses of rock, absolutely bare, where we had
nothing to support us, or to hold by, it would be as well to examine if,
by descending lower, we could not find a less dangerous road. We
descended to the narrow pass, and found our drawbridge, plantation, all
our fortification that my boys were so proud of, and where, at Fritz's
request, I had even planted a small cannon, all, all destroyed; the
cannon swallowed up with the rest. My boys deplored their
disappointment; but I showed them how useless such a defence must ever
be. Nature had provided us with a better fortification than we could
construct, as we just now bitterly experienced.
We had descended several yards lower with incredible difficulty, plunged
in a wet, heavy soil, and obliged to step across immense stones, when
Fritz, who went first, cried out, joyfully--
"The roof, papa! the roof of our _chalet_! it is quite whole; it will be
a bridge for us if we can only get to it."
"What roof? What chalet?" said I, in astonishment.
"The roof of our little hermitage," said he, "which we had covered so
well with stones, like the Swiss _chalets_."
I then recollected that I had made this little hut, after the fashion of
the Swiss chalet, of bark, with a roof nearly flat and covered with
stones, to secure it against the winds. It was this circumstance, and
its situation, that had saved it in the storm. I had placed it opposite
the cascade, that we might see the fall in all its beauty, and,
consequently, a little on one side of the passage filled up by the fall
of the rocks. Some fragments reached the roof of the hut, and we
certainly could not have entered it; but the chalet was supported by
this means, and the roof was still standing and perfectly secure. We
contrived to slide along the rock which sustained it; Jack was the first
to stand on the roof and sing victory. It was very easy to descend on
the other side, holding by the poles and pieces of bark, and we soon
found ourselves safe in our _own_ island. Ernest had lost his gun in
the passage: not being willing to resign his bag of curiosities, he had
dropped the gun into the abyss.
"You may take the gun I left in the canoe," said Fritz; "but, another
time, throw away your stones, and keep your gun--you will find it a good
friend in need."
"Let us embark in our canoe," cried Jack. "The sea! the sea! Long live
the waves! they are not so hard as the stones."
I was very glad to have the opportunity of conveying my canoe back to
the port of Tent House; our important occupations had prevented me till
now, and everything favoured the plan: the sea was calm, the wind
favourable, and we should arrive at home sooner, and with less fatigue,
than by land. We skirted the great Bay to the Cabbage-palm Wood. I had
moored the canoe so firmly to one of the palms, that I felt secure of it
being there. We arrived at the place, and no canoe was there! The mark
of the cord which fastened it was still to be seen round the tree, but
the canoe had entirely disappeared. Struck with astonishment, we looked
at each other with terror, and without being able to articulate a word.
What was become of it?
"Some animal,--the jackals; a monkey, perhaps,--might have detached it,"
said Jack; "but they could not have eaten the canoe." And we could not
find a trace of it, any more than of the gun Fritz had left in it.
This extraordinary circumstance gave me a great deal of thought.
Savages, surely, had landed on our island, and carried off our canoe. We
could no longer doubt it when we discovered on the sands the print of
naked feet! It is easy to believe how uneasy and agitated I was. I
hastened to take the road to Tent House, from which we were now more
than three leagues distant. I forbade my sons to mention this event, or
our suspicions, to their mother, as I knew it would rob her of all peace
of mind. I tried to console myself. It was possible that chance had
conducted them to the Bay, that they had seen our pretty canoe, and
that, satisfied with their prize, and seeing no inhabitants, they might
not return. Perhaps, on the contrary, these islanders might prove kind
and humane, and become our friends. There was no trace of their
proceedings further than the shore. We called at _The Farm_, on purpose
to examine. All appeared in order; and certainly, if they had reached
here, there was much to tempt them: our cotton mattresses, our osier
seats, and some household utensils that my wife had left here. Our geese
and fowls did not appear to have been alarmed, but were pecking about as
usual for worms and insects. I began to hope that we might get off with
the loss of our canoe,--a loss which might be repaired. We were a
sufficient number, being well armed, not to be afraid of a few savages,
even if they penetrated further into the island, and showed hostile
intentions. I exhorted my sons to do nothing to irritate them; on the
contrary, to meet them with kindness and attention, and to commit no
violence against them unless called on to defend their lives. I also
recommended them to select from the wrecked chest, some articles likely
to please the savages, and to carry them always about with them. "And I
beseech you, once more," added I, "not to alarm your mother." They
promised me; and we continued our road unmolested to Falcon's Nest. Jack
preceded us, delighted, he said, to see our castle again, which he hoped
the savages had not carried away. Suddenly, we saw him return, running,
with terror painted on his countenance.
"They are there!" said he; "they have taken possession of it; our
dwelling is full of them. Oh! how frightful they are! What a blessing
mamma is not there; she would have died of fright to see them enter."
I confess I was much agitated; but, not wishing to expose my children to
danger before I had done all in my power to prevent it, I ordered them
to remain behind till I called them. I broke a branch from a tree
hastily, which I held in one hand, and in the other some long nails,
which I found by chance in the bottom of my pocket; and I advanced thus
to my Tree-Castle. I expected to have found the door of my staircase
torn open and broken, and our new guests ascending and descending; but I
saw at once it was closed as I had left it; being of bark, it was not
easily distinguished. How had these savages reached the dwelling, forty
feet from the ground? I had placed planks before the great opening; they
were no longer there; the greater part of them had been hurled down to
the ground, and I heard such a noise in our house, that I could not
doubt Jack's report. I advanced timidly, holding up in the air the
branch and my offerings, when I discovered, all at once, that I was
offering them to a troop of monkeys, lodged in the fortress, which they
were amusing themselves by destroying. We had numbers of them in the
island; some large and mischievous, against whom we had some difficulty
in defending ourselves when crossing the woods, where they principally
dwelt. The frequent report of fire-arms round our dwelling had kept them
aloof till now, when, emboldened by our absence, and enticed by the figs
on our tree, they had come in crowds. These vexatious animals had got
through the roof, and, once in, had thrown down the planks that covered
the opening; they made the most frightful grimaces, throwing down
everything they could seize.
Although this devastation caused me much vexation, I could not help
laughing at their antics, and at the humble and submissive manner in
which I had advanced to pay homage to them. I called my sons, who
laughed heartily, and rallied "_the prince of the monkeys_" without
mercy, for not knowing his own subjects. Fritz wished much to discharge
his gun amongst them, but I forbade him. I was too anxious to reach Tent
House, to be able to turn my thoughts on these depredators just now.
We continued our journey--but I pause here; my heart is oppressed. My
feelings when I reached home require another chapter to describe them,
and I must summon courage for the task.
* * * * *
We soon arrived at Family Bridge, where I had some hopes of meeting
Francis, and perhaps his mother, who was beginning to walk very well;
but I was disappointed--they were not there. Yet I was not uneasy, for
they were neither certain of the hour of our return, nor of the way we
might take. I expected, however, to find them in the colonnade--they
were not there. I hastily entered the house; I called aloud, "Elizabeth!
Francis! where are you?" No one answered. A mortal terror seized me--and
for a moment I could not move.
"They will be in the grotto," said Ernest.
"Or in the garden," said Fritz.
"Perhaps on the shore," cried Jack; "my mother likes to watch the waves,
and Francis may be gathering shells."
These were possibilities. My sons flew in all directions in search of
their mother and brother. I found it impossible to move, and was obliged
to sit down. I trembled, and my heart beat till I could scarcely
breathe. I did not venture to dwell on the extent of my fears, or,
rather, I had no distinct notion of them. I tried to recover myself. I
murmured, "Yes--at the grotto, or the garden--they will return
directly." Still, I could not compose myself. I was overwhelmed with a
sad presentiment of the misfortune which impended over me. It was but
too soon realized. My sons returned in fear and consternation. They had
no occasion to tell me the result of their search; I saw it at once,
and, sinking down motionless, I cried, "Alas! they are not there!"
Jack returned the last, and in the most frightful state; he had been at
the sea-shore, and, throwing himself into my arms, he sobbed out--
"The savages have been here, and carried away my mother and Francis;
perhaps they have devoured them; I have seen the marks of their
horrible feet on the sands, and the print of dear Francis's boots."
This account at once recalled me to strength and action.
"Come, my children, let us fly to save them. God will pity our sorrow,
and assist us. He will restore them. Come, come!"
They were ready in a moment. But a distracting thought seized me. Had
they carried off the pinnace? if so, every hope was gone. Jack, in his
distress, had never thought of remarking this; but, the instant I named
it, Fritz and he ran to ascertain the important circumstance, Ernest, in
the mean time, supporting me, and endeavouring to calm me.
"Perhaps," said he, "they are still in the island. Perhaps they may have
fled to hide themselves in some wood, or amongst the reeds. Even if the
pinnace be left, it would be prudent to search the island from end to
end before we leave it. Trust Fritz and me, we will do this; and, even
if we find them in the hands of the enemy, we will recover them. Whilst
we are off on this expedition, you can be preparing for our voyage, and
we will search the world from one end to the other, every country and
every sea, but we will find them. And we shall succeed. Let us put our
whole trust in God. He is our Father, he will not try us beyond our
I embraced my child, and a flood of tears relieved my overcharged heart.
My eyes and hands were raised to Heaven; my silent prayers winged their
flight to the Almighty, to him who tries us and consoles us. A ray of
hope seemed to visit my mind, when I heard my boys cry out, as they
"The pinnace is here! they have not carried that away!"
I fervently thanked God--it was a kind of miracle; for this pretty
vessel was more tempting than the canoe. Perhaps, as it was hidden in a
little creek between the rocks, it had escaped their observation;
perhaps they might not know how to manage it; or they might not be
numerous enough. No matter, it was there, and might be the means of our
recovering the beloved objects those barbarians had torn from us. How
gracious is God, to give us hope to sustain us in our afflictions!
Without hope, we could not live; it restores and revives us, and, even
if never realized below, accompanies us to the end of our life, and
beyond the grave!
I imparted to my eldest son the idea of his brother, that they might be
concealed in some part of the island; but I dared not rely on this sweet
hope. Finally, as we ought not to run the risk of abandoning them, if
they were still here, and perhaps in the power of the savages, I
consented that my two eldest sons should go to ascertain the fact.
Besides, however impatient I was, I felt that a voyage such as we were
undertaking into unknown seas might be of long duration, and it was
necessary to make some preparations--I must think on food, water, arms,
and many other things. There are situations in life which seize the
heart and soul, rendering us insensible to the wants of the body--this
we now experienced. We had just come from a painful journey, on foot, of
twenty-four hours, during which we had had little rest, and no sleep.
Since morning we had eaten nothing but some morsels of the bread-fruit;
it was natural that we should be overcome with fatigue and hunger. But
we none of us had even thought of our own state--we were supported, if I
may use the expression, by our despair. At the moment that my sons were
going to set out, the remembrance of their need of refreshment suddenly
occurred to me, and I besought them to rest a little, and take
something; but they were too much agitated to consent. I gave Fritz a
bottle of Canary, and some slices of roast mutton I met with, which he
put in his pocket. They had each a loaded musket, and they set out,
taking the road along the rocks, where the most hidden retreats and most
impenetrable woods lay; they promised me to fire off their pieces
frequently to let their mother know they were there, if she was hidden
among the rocks--they took also one of the dogs. Flora we could not
find, which made us conclude she had followed her mistress, to whom she
was much attached.
As soon as my eldest sons had left us, I made Jack conduct me to the
shore where he had seen the footmarks, that I might examine them, to
judge of their number and direction. I found many very distinct, but so
mingled, I could come to no positive conclusion. Some were near the sea,
with the foot pointing to the shore; and amongst these Jack thought he
could distinguish the boot-mark of Francis. My wife wore very light
boots also, which I had made for her; they rendered stockings
unnecessary, and strengthened her ankles. I could not find the trace of
these; but I soon discovered that my poor Elizabeth had been here, from
a piece torn from an apron she wore, made of her own cotton, and dyed
red. I had now not the least doubt that she was in the canoe with her
son. It was a sort of consolation to think they were together; but how
many mortal fears accompanied this consolation! Oh! was I ever to see
again these objects of my tenderest affection!
Certain now that they were not in the island, I was impatient for the
return of my sons, and I made every preparation for our departure. The
first thing I thought of was the wrecked chest, which would furnish me
with means to conciliate the savages, and to ransom my loved ones. I
added to it everything likely to tempt them; utensils, stuffs, trinkets;
I even took with me gold and silver coin, which was thrown on one side
as useless, but might be of service to us on this occasion. I wished my
riches were three times as much as they were, that I might give all in
exchange for the life and liberty of my wife and son. I then turned my
thoughts on those remaining to me: I took, in bags and gourds, all that
we had left of cassava-bread, manioc-roots, and potatoes; a barrel of
salt-fish, two bottles of rum, and several jars of fresh water. Jack
wept as he filled them at his fountain, which he perhaps might never see
again, any more than his dear Valiant, whom I set at liberty, as well as
the cow, ass, buffalo, and the beautiful onagra. These docile animals
were accustomed to us and our attentions, and they remained in their
places, surprised that they were neither harnessed nor mounted. We
opened the poultry-yard and pigeon-cote. The flamingo would not leave
us, it went and came with us from the house to the pinnace. We took
also oil, candles, fuel, and a large iron pot to cook our provisions in.
For our defence, I took two more guns, and a small barrel of powder, all
we had left. I added besides some changes of linen, not forgetting some
for my dear wife, which I hoped might be needed. The time fled rapidly
while we were thus employed; night came on, and my sons returned not. My
grief was inconceivable; the island was so large and woody, that they
might have lost themselves, or the savages might have returned and
encountered them. After twenty hours of frightful terror, I heard the
report of a gun--alas! only _one_ report! it was the signal agreed on if
they returned alone; _two_ if they brought their mother; _three_ if
Francis also accompanied them; but I expected they would return alone,
and I was still grateful. I ran to meet them; they were overcome with
fatigue and vexation.
They begged to set out immediately, not to lose one precious moment;
they were now sure the island did not contain those they lamented, and
they hoped I would not return without discovering them, for what would
the island be to us without our loved ones? Fritz, at that moment, saw
his dear Lightfoot capering round him, and could not help sighing as he
caressed him, and took leave of him.
"May I find thee here," said he, "where I leave thee in such sorrow; and
I will bring back thy young master," added he, turning to the bull, who
was also approaching him.
He then begged me again to set out, as the moon was just rising in all
"The queen of night," said Ernest; "will guide us to the queen of our
island, who is perhaps now looking up to her, and calling on us to
"Most assuredly," said I, "she is thinking on us; but it is on God she
is calling for help. Let us join her in prayer, my dear children, for
herself and our dear Francis."
They fell on their knees with me, and I uttered the most fervent and
earnest prayer that ever human heart poured forth; and I rose with
confidence that our prayers were heard. I proceeded with new courage to
the creek that contained our pinnace, where Jack arranged all we had
brought; we rowed out of the creek, and when we were in the bay, we held
a council to consider on which side we were to commence our search. I
thought of returning to the great bay, from whence our canoe had been
taken; my sons, on the contrary, thought that these islanders, content
with their acquisition, had been returning homewards, coasting along the
island, when an unhappy chance had led their mother and brother to the
shore, where the savages had seen them, and carried them off. At the
most, they could but be a day before us; but that was long enough to
fill us with dreadful anticipations. I yielded to the opinion of my
sons, which had a great deal of reason on its side, besides the wind was
favourable in that direction; and, abandoning ourselves in full
confidence to Almighty God, we spread our sails, and were soon in
the open sea.
* * * * *
A gentle wind swelled our sails, and the current carried us rapidly into
the open sea. I then seated myself at the helm, and employed the little
knowledge I had gained during our voyage from Europe in directing our
bark, so that we might avoid the rocks and coral banks that surrounded
our island. My two oldest sons, overcome with fatigue, had no sooner
seated themselves on a bench, than they fell into a profound sleep,
notwithstanding their sorrows. Jack held out the best; his love of the
sea kept him awake, and I surrendered the helm to him till I took a
momentary slumber, my head resting against the stern. A happy dream
placed me in the midst of my family in our dear island; but a shout from
Ernest awoke me, he was calling on Jack to leave the helm, as he was
contriving to run the vessel among the breakers on the coast. I seized
the helm, and soon set all right, determined not to trust my giddy
Jack, of all my sons, was the one who evinced most taste for the sea;
but being so young when we made our voyage, his knowledge of nautical
affairs was very scanty. My elder sons had learnt more. Ernest, who had
a great thirst for knowledge of every kind, had questioned the pilot on
all he had seen him do. He had learned a great deal in theory, but of
practical knowledge he had none. The mechanical genius of Fritz had
drawn conclusions from what he saw; this would have induced me to place
much trust in him in case of that danger which I prayed Heaven might be
averted. What a situation was mine for a father! Wandering through
unknown and dangerous seas with my three sons, my only hope, in search
of a fourth, and of my beloved helpmate; utterly ignorant which way we
should direct our course, or where to find a trace of those we sought.
How often do we allay the happiness granted us below by vain wishes! I
had at one time regretted that we had no means of leaving our island;
now we had left it, and our sole wish was to recover those we had lost,
to bring them back to it, and never to leave it more. I sometimes
regretted that I had led my sons into this danger. I might have ventured
alone; but I reflected that I could not have left them, for Fritz had
said, "If the savages had carried off the pinnace, I would have swum
from isle to isle till I had found them." My boys all endeavoured to
encourage and console me. Fritz placed himself at the rudder, observing
that the pinnace was new and well built, and likely to resist a tempest.
Ernest stood on the deck silently watching the stars, only breaking his
silence by telling me he should be able by them to supply the want of
the compass, and point out how we should direct our course. Jack climbed
dexterously up the mast to let me see his skill; we called him the
cabin-boy, Fritz was the pilot, Ernest the astronomer, and I was the
captain and commander of the expedition. Daybreak showed us we had
passed far from our island, which now only appeared a dark speck. I, as
well as Fritz and Jack, was of opinion that it would be advisable to go
round it, and try our fortune on the opposite coast; but Ernest, who
had not forgotten his telescope, was certain he saw land in a direction
he pointed out to us. We took the glass, and were soon convinced he was
right. As day advanced, we saw the land plainly, and did not hesitate to
sail towards it.
As this appeared the land nearest to our island, we supposed the savages
might have conveyed their captives there. But more trials awaited us
before we arrived there. It being necessary to shift the sail, in order
to reach the coast in view, my poor cabin-boy, Jack, ran up the mast,
holding by the ropes; but before he reached the sail, the rope which he
held broke suddenly; he was precipitated into the sea, and disappeared
in a moment; but he soon rose to the surface, trying to swim, and
mingling his cries with ours. Fritz, who was the first to see the
accident, was in the water almost as soon as Jack, and seizing him by
the hair, swam with the other hand, calling on him to try and keep
afloat, and hold by him. When I saw my two sons thus struggling with the
waves, that were very strong from a land wind, I should, in my despair,
have leaped in after them; but Ernest held me, and implored me to remain
to assist in getting them into the pinnace. He had thrown ropes to them,
and a bench which he had torn up with the strength of despair. Fritz had
contrived to catch one of the ropes and fasten it round Jack, who still
swam, but feebly, as if nearly exhausted. Fritz had been considered an
excellent swimmer in Switzerland; he preserved all his presence of mind,
calling to us to draw the rope gently, while he supported the poor boy,
and pushed him towards the pinnace. At last I was able to reach and
draw him up; and when I saw him extended, nearly lifeless, at the bottom
of the pinnace, I fell down senseless beside him. How precious to us now
was the composed mind of Ernest! In the midst of such a scene, he was
calm and collected; promptly disengaging the rope from the body of Jack,
he flung it back to Fritz, to help him in reaching the pinnace,
attaching the other end firmly to the mast. This done, quicker than I
can write it, he approached us, raised his brother so that he might
relieve himself from the quantity of water he had swallowed; then
turning to me, restored me to my senses by administering to me some
drops of rum, and by saying, "Courage, father! you have saved Jack, and
I will save Fritz. He has hold of the rope; he is swimming strongly; he
is coming; he is here!"
He left me to assist his brother, who was soon in the vessel, and in my
arms. Jack, perfectly recovered, joined him; and fervently did I thank
God for granting me, in the midst of my trials, such a moment of
happiness. We could not help fancying this happy preservation was an
augury of our success in our anxious search, and that we should bring
back the lost ones to our island.
"Oh, how terrified mamma would have been," said Jack, "to see me sink! I
thought I was going, like a stone, to the bottom of the sea; but I
pushed out my arms and legs with all my strength, and up I rose."
He as well as Fritz was quite wet. I had by chance brought some changes
of clothes, which I made them put on, after giving each a little rum.
They were so much fatigued, and I was so overcome by my agitation, that
we were obliged to relinquish rowing, most unwillingly, as the skies
threatened a storm. We gradually began to distinguish clearly the island
we wished to approach; and the land-birds, which came to rest on our
sails, gave us hopes that we should reach it before night; but,
suddenly, such a thick fog arose, that it hid every object from us, even
the sea itself, and we seemed to be sailing among the clouds. I thought
it prudent to drop our anchor, as, fortunately, we had a tolerably
strong one; but there appeared so little water, that I feared we were
near the breakers, and I watched anxiously for the fog to dissipate, and
permit us to see the coast. It finally changed into a heavy rain, which
we could with difficulty protect ourselves from; there was, however, a
half-deck to the pinnace, under which we crept, and sheltered ourselves.
Here, crowded close together, we talked over the late accident. Fritz
assured me he was never in any danger, and that he would plunge again
into the sea that moment, if he had the least hope that it would lead
him to find his mother and Francis. We all said the same; though Jack
confessed that his friends, the waves, had not received his visit very
politely, but had even beat him very rudely.
"But I would bear twice as much," said he, "to see mamma and dear
Francis again. Do you think, papa, that the savages could ever hurt
them? Mamma is so good, and Francis is so pretty! and then, poor mamma
is so lame yet; I hope they would pity her, and carry her."
Alas! I could not hope as my boy did; I feared that they would force her
to walk. I tried to conceal other horrible fears, that almost threw me
into despair. I recalled all the cruelties of the cannibal nations, and
shuddered to think that my Elizabeth and my darling child were perhaps
in their ferocious hands. Prayer and confidence in God were the only
means, not to console, but to support me, and teach me to endure my
heavy affliction with resignation. I looked on my three sons, and
endeavoured, for their sakes, to hope and submit. The darkness rapidly
increased, till it became total; we concluded it was night. The rain
having ceased, I went out to strike a light, as I wished to hang the
lighted lantern to the mast, when Ernest, who was on deck, called out
loudly, "Father! brothers! come! the sea is on fire!" And, indeed, as
far as the eye could reach, the surface of the water appeared in flames;
this light, of the most brilliant, fiery red, reached even to the
vessel, and we were surrounded by it. It was a sight at once beautiful,
and almost terrific. Jack seriously inquired, if there was not a volcano
at the bottom of the sea; and I astonished him much by telling him, that
this light was caused by a kind of marine animals, which in form
resembled plants so much, that they were formerly considered such; but
naturalists and modern voyagers have entirely destroyed this error, and
furnished proofs that they are organized beings, having all the
spontaneous movements peculiar to animals. They feel when they are
touched, seek for food, seize and devour it; they are of various kinds
and colours, and are known under the general name of zoophytes.
"And this which glitters in such beautiful colours on the sea, is called
_pyrosoma_," said Ernest. "See, here are some I have caught in my hat;
you may see them move. How they change colour--orange, green, blue, like
the rainbow; and when you touch them, the flame appears still more
brilliant; now they are pale yellow."
They amused themselves some time with these bright and beautiful
creatures, which appear to have but a half-life. They occupied a large
space on the water, and their astonishing radiance, in the midst of the
darkness of the atmosphere, had such a striking and magnificent effect,
that for a few moments we were diverted from our own sad thoughts; but
an observation from Jack soon recalled them.
"If Francis passed this way," said he, "how he would be amused with
these funny creatures, which look like fire, but do not burn; but I know
he would be afraid to touch them; and how much afraid mamma would be, as
she likes no animals she does not know. Ah! how glad I shall be to tell
her all about our voyage, and my excursion into the sea, and how Fritz
dragged me by the hair, and what they call these fiery fishes; tell me
again, Ernest; py--py--"
"Pyrosoma, Mr. Peron calls them," said Ernest. "The description of them
is very interesting in his voyage, which I have read to mamma; and as
she would recollect it, she would not be afraid."
"I pray to God," replied I, "that she may have nothing more to fear than
the pyrosoma, and that we may soon see them again, with her
We all said Amen; and, the day breaking, we decided to weigh the anchor,
and endeavour to find a passage through the reefs to reach the island,
which we now distinctly saw, and which seemed an uncultivated and rocky
coast. I resumed my place at the helm, my sons took the oars, and we
advanced cautiously, sounding every minute. What would have become of us
if our pinnace had been injured! The sea was perfectly calm, and, after
prayer to God, and a slight refreshment, we proceeded forward, looking
carefully round for any canoe of the savages--it might be, even our own;
but, no! we were not fortunate enough to discover any trace of our
beloved friends, nor any symptom of the isle being inhabited; however,
as it was our only point of hope, we did not wish to abandon it. By dint
of searching, we found a small bay, which reminded us of our own. It was
formed by a river, broad and deep enough for our pinnace to enter. We
rowed in; and having placed our vessel in a creek, where it appeared to
be secure, we began to consider the means of exploring the whole island.
* * * * *
I did not disembark on this unknown shore without great emotion: it
might be inhabited by a barbarous and cruel race, and I almost doubted
the prudence of thus risking my three remaining children in the
hazardous and uncertain search after our dear lost ones. I think I could
have borne my bereavement with Christian resignation, if I had seen my
wife and child die in my arms; I should then have been certain they were
happy in the bosom of their God; but to think of them in the power of
ferocious and idolatrous savages, who might subject them to cruel
tortures and death, chilled my very blood. I demanded of my sons, if
they felt courage to pursue the difficult and perilous enterprise we had
commenced. They all declared they would rather die than not find their
mother and brother. Fritz even besought me, with Ernest and Jack, to
return to the island, in case the wanderers should come back, and be
terrified to find it deserted; and to leave him the arms, and the means
of trafficking with the savages, without any uneasiness about his
prudence and discretion.
I assured him I did not distrust his courage and prudence, but I showed
him the futility of hoping that the savages would voluntarily carry back
their victims, or that they could escape alone. And should he meet with
them here, and succeed, how could he carry his recovered treasures to
"No, my children," said I, "we will all search, in the confidence that
God will bless our efforts."
"And perhaps sooner than we think," said Ernest. "Perhaps they are in
Jack was running off immediately to search, but I called my little
madcap back, till we arranged our plans. I advised that two of us should
remain to watch the coast, while the other two penetrated into the
interior. The first thing necessary to ascertain was if the island was
inhabited, which might easily be done, by climbing some tree that
overlooked the country, and remarking if there were any traces of the
natives, any huts, or fires lighted, &c. Those who made any discovery
were immediately to inform the rest, that we might go in a body to
recover our own. If nothing announced that the island was inhabited, we
were to leave it immediately, to search elsewhere. All wished to be of
the party of discovery. At length, Ernest agreed to remain with me, and
watch for any arrivals by sea. Before we parted, we all knelt to invoke
the blessing of God on our endeavours. Fritz and Jack, as the most
active, were to visit the interior of the island, and to return with
information as soon as possible. To be prepared for any chance, I gave
them a game-bag filled with toys, trinkets, and pieces of money, to
please the savages; I also made them take some food. Fritz took his gun,
after promising me he would not fire it, except to defend his life, lest
he should alarm the savages, and induce them to remove their captives.
Jack took his lasso, and they set out with our benedictions, accompanied
by the brave Turk, on whom I depended much to discover his mistress and
his companion Flora, if she was still with her friends.
As soon as they were out of sight, Ernest and I set to work to conceal
as much as possible our pinnace from discovery. We lowered the masts,
and hid with great care under the deck the precious chest with our
treasure, provisions, and powder. We got our pinnace with great
difficulty, the water being low, behind a rock, which completely
concealed it on the land-side, but it was still visible from the sea.
Ernest suggested that we should entirely cover it with branches of
trees, so that it might appear like a heap of bushes; and we began to
cut them immediately with two hatchets we found in the chest, and which
we speedily fitted with handles. We found also a large iron staple,
which Ernest succeeded, with a hammer and pieces of wood, in fixing in
the rock to moor the pinnace to. We had some difficulty in finding
branches within our reach; there were many trees on the shore, but their
trunks were bare. We found, at last, at some distance, an extensive
thicket, composed of a beautiful shrub, which Ernest recognized to be a
species of mimosa. The trunk of this plant is knotty and stunted, about
three or four feet high, and spreads its branches horizontally, clothed
with beautiful foliage, and so thickly interwoven, that the little
quadrupeds who make their dwellings in these thickets are obliged to
open covered roads out of the entangled mass of vegetation.
At the first blow of the hatchet, a number of beautiful little creatures
poured forth on all sides. They resembled the kangaroos of our island,
but were smaller, more elegant, and remarkable for the beauty of their
skin, which was striped like that of the zebra.
"It is the striped kangaroo," cried Ernest, "described in the voyages of
Peron. How I long to have one. The female should have a pouch to contain
her young ones."
He lay down very still at the entrance of the thicket, and soon had the
satisfaction of seizing two, which leaped out almost into his arms. This
animal is timid as the hare of our country. They endeavoured to escape,
but Ernest held them fast. One was a female, which had her young one in
her pouch, which my son took out very cautiously. It was an elegant
little creature, with a skin like its mother, only more brilliant--it
was full of graceful antics. The poor mother no longer wished to escape;
all her desire seemed to be to recover her offspring, and to replace it
in its nest. At last, she succeeded in seizing and placing it carefully
in security. Then her desire to escape was so strong, that Ernest could
scarcely hold her. He wished much to keep and tame her, and asked my
permission to empty one of the chests for a dwelling for her, and to
carry her off in the pinnace; but I refused him decidedly. I explained
to him the uncertainty of our return to the island, and the imprudence
of adding to our cares, and, "certainly," added I, "you would not wish
this poor mother to perish from famine and confinement, when your own
mother is herself a prisoner?"
His eyes filled with tears, and he declared he would not be such a
savage as to keep a poor mother in captivity. "Go, pretty creature,"
said he, releasing her, "and may my mother be as fortunate as you." She
soon profited by his permission, and skipped off with her treasure.
We continued to cut down the branches of the mimosa; but they were so
entangled, and the foliage so light, that we agreed to extend our search
for some thicker branches.
As we left the shore, the country appeared more fertile: we found many
unknown trees, which bore no fruit; but some covered with delicious
flowers. Ernest was in his element, he wanted to collect and examine
all, to endeavour to discover their names, either from analogy to other
plants, or from descriptions he had read. He thought he recognized the
_melaleuca_, several kinds of _mimosa_, and the Virginian pine, which
has the largest and thickest branches. We loaded ourselves with as much
as we could carry, and, in two or three journeys, we had collected
sufficient to cover the vessel, and to make a shelter for ourselves, if
we were obliged to pass the night on shore. I had given orders to my
sons that both were to return before night, at all events; and if the
least hope appeared, one was to run with all speed to tell us. All my
fear was that they might lose their way in this unknown country: they
might meet with lakes, marshes, or perplexing forests; every moment I
was alarmed with the idea of some new danger, and never did any day seem
so long. Ernest endeavoured, by every means in his power, to comfort and
encourage me; but the buoyancy of spirit, peculiar to youth, prevented
him dwelling long on one painful thought. He amused his mind by turning
to search for the marine productions with which the rocks were covered:
sea-weed, mosses of the most brilliant colours, zoophytes of various
kinds, occupied his attention. He brought them to me, regretting that he
could not preserve them.
"Oh! if my dear mother could see them," said he, "or if Fritz could
paint them, how they would amuse Francis!"
This recalled our sorrows, and my uneasiness increased.
* * * * *
All was so still around us, and our pinnace was so completely hidden
with its canopy of verdure, that I could not help regretting that I had
not accompanied my sons. It was now too late, but my steps
involuntarily turned to the road I had seen them take, Ernest remaining
on the rocks in search of natural curiosities; but I was suddenly
recalled by a cry from Ernest--
"Father, a canoe! a canoe!"
"Alas! is it not ours?" I said, rushing to the shore, where, indeed, I
saw beyond the reefs a canoe, floating lightly, apparently filled with
the islanders, easy to distinguish from their dark complexion. This
canoe did not resemble ours; it was longer, narrower, and seemed to be
composed of long strips of bark, quite rough, tied together at each end,
which gave somewhat of a graceful form to it, though it evidently
belonged to the infancy of the art of navigation. It is almost
inconceivable how these frail barks resist the slightest storm; but
these islanders swim so well, that even if the canoe fills, they jump
out, empty it, and take their places again. When landed, one or two men
take up the canoe and carry it to their habitation. This, however,
appeared to be provided with out-riggers, to preserve the equilibrium,
and six savages, with a sort of oars, made it fly like the wind. When it
passed the part of the island where we were, we hailed it as loudly as
we could; the savages answered by frightful cries, but showed no
intention of approaching us or entering the bay; on the contrary, they
went on with great rapidity, continuing their cries. I followed them
with my eyes as far as I could in speechless emotion; for either my
fancy deceived me, or I faintly distinguished a form of fairer
complexion than the dark-hued beings who surrounded him--features or
dress I could not see; on the whole, it was a vague impression, that I
trembled alike to believe or to doubt. Ernest, more active than I, had
climbed a sand-bank, and, with his telescope, had commanded a better
view of the canoe. He watched it round a point of land, and then came
down almost as much agitated as myself. I ran to him and said--
"Ernest, was it your mother?"
"No, papa; I am certain it was not my mother," said he. "Neither was it
Here he was silent: a cold shuddering came over me.
"Why are you silent?" said I; "what do you think?"
"Indeed, papa, I could distinguish nothing," said he, "even with the
telescope, they passed so quickly. Would that it were my mother and
brother, we should then be sure they were living, and might follow them.
But a thought strikes me: let us free the pinnace, and sail after the
canoe. We can go quicker than they with the sail; we shall overtake them
behind the cape, and then we shall at least be satisfied."
I hesitated, lest my sons should come back; but Ernest represented to me
that we were only fulfilling the wishes of Fritz; besides, we should
return in a short time; he added, that he would soon disencumber
"Soon," cried I, "when we have been at least two hours in covering it."
"Yes," said he; "but we had a dozen journeys to make to the trees then;
I will have it ready in less than half an hour."
I assisted him as actively as I could, though not with good heart, for I
was uneasy about abandoning my sons. I would have given worlds to see
them arrive before our departure; to have their assistance, which was of
much consequence in the pinnace, and to know they were safe. I often
left off my work to take a glance into the interior of the island,
hoping to see them. Frequently I mistook the trees in the twilight,
which was now coming on, for moving objects. At last, I was not
deceived, I saw distinctly a figure walking rapidly.
"They are here!" I cried, running forward, followed by Ernest; and we
soon saw a dark-coloured figure approaching. I concluded it was a
savage, and, though disappointed, was not alarmed, as he was alone. I
stopped, and begged Ernest to recollect all the words he had met with in
his books, of the language of the savages. The black man approached; and
conceive my surprise when I heard him cry, in my own language--
"Don't be alarmed, father, it is I, your son Fritz."
"Is it possible," said I; "can I believe it? and Jack? What have you
done with my Jack? Where is he? Speak...."
Ernest did not ask. Alas! he knew too well; he had seen with his
telescope that it was his dear brother Jack that was in the canoe with
the savages; but he had not dared to tell me. I was in agony. Fritz,
harassed with fatigue, and overwhelmed with grief, sunk down on
"Oh father!" said he, sobbing, "I dread to appear before you without my
brother! I have lost him. Can you ever forgive your unfortunate Fritz?"
"Oh yes, yes; we are all equally unfortunate," cried I, sinking down
beside my son, while Ernest seated himself on the other side to support
me. I then besought Fritz to tell me if the savages had murdered my dear
boy. He assured me that he was not killed, but carried off by the
savages; still he hoped he was safe. Ernest then told me he had seen him
seated in the canoe, apparently without clothes, but not stained black
as Fritz was.
"I earnestly wish he had been," said Fritz; to that I attribute my
escape. But I am truly thankful to God that you have seen him, Ernest.
"Which way have the monsters gone?"
Ernest pointed out the cape, and Fritz was anxious that we should embark
without delay, and endeavour to snatch him from them.
"And have you learned nothing of your mother and Francis?" said I.
"Alas! nothing," said he; "though I think I recognized a handkerchief,
belonging to dear mamma, on the head of a savage. I will tell you all my
adventure as we go. You forgive me, dear father?"
"Yes, my dear son," said I; "I forgive and pity you; but are you sure my
wife and Francis are not on the island?"
"Quite sure," said he. "In fact the island is entirely uninhabited;
there is no fresh water, nor game, and no quadrupeds whatever, but rats
and kangaroos; but plenty of fruit. I have filled my bag with
bread-fuit, which is all we shall need: let us go."
We worked so hard, that in a quarter of an hour the branches were
removed, and the pinnace ready to receive us. The wind was favourable
for carrying us towards the cape the savages had turned; we hoisted our
sail, I took my place at the helm; the sea was calm, and the moon
lighted our way. After recommending ourselves to the protection of God,
I desired Fritz to commence his melancholy recital.
"It will be melancholy, indeed," said the poor boy, weeping; "if we do
not find my dear Jack, I shall never forgive myself for not having
stained his skin before my own; then he should have been with you now--"
"But I have you, my dear son, to console your father," said I. "I can do
nothing myself, in my sorrow. I depend on you, my two eldest, to restore
to me what I have lost. Go on, Fritz."
"We went on," continued he, "with courage and hope; and as we proceeded,
we felt that you were right in saying we ought not to judge of the
island by the borders. You can form no idea of the fertility of the
island, or of the beauty of the trees and shrubs we met with at every
step, quite unknown to me; some were covered with fragrant flowers,
others with tempting fruits; which, however, we did not venture to
taste, as we had not Knips to try them."
"Did you see any monkeys?" asked Ernest.
"Not one," replied his brother, "to the great vexation of Jack; but we
saw parrots, and all sorts of birds of the most splendid plumage. Whilst
we were remarking these creatures, I did not neglect to look carefully
about for any trace that might aid our search. I saw no hut, no sort of
dwelling, nor anything that could indicate that the island was
inhabited, and not the slightest appearance of fresh water; and we
should have been tormented with thirst if we had not found some
cocoa-nuts containing milk, and an acid fruit, full of juice, which we
have in our own island--Ernest calls it the _carambolier_; we quenched
our thirst with this, as well as with the plant, which we also have, and
which contains water in the stem. The country is flat and open, and its
beautiful trees stand at such a distance from each other, that no one
could hide amongst them. But if we found no dwellings, we often
discovered traces of the savages,--extinguished fires, remains of
kangaroos and of fish, cocoa-nut shells, and even entire nuts, which we
secured for ourselves; we remarked, also, footmarks on the sand. We both
wished anxiously to meet with a savage, that we might endeavour to make
him comprehend, by signs, whom we were in search of, hoping that natural
affection might have some influence even with these untaught creatures.
I was only fearful that my dress and the colour of my skin might terrify
them. In the mean time, Jack, with his usual rashness, had climbed to
the summit of one of the tallest trees, and suddenly cried out, 'Fritz,
prepare your signs, the savages are landing. Oh! what black ugly
creatures they are, and nearly naked! you ought to dress yourself like
them, to make friends with them. You can stain your skin with these,'
throwing me down branches of a sort of fruit of a dark purple colour,
large as a plum, with a skin like the mulberry. 'I have been tasting
them, they are very nauseous, and they have stained my fingers black;
rub yourself well with the juice of this fruit, and you will be a
"I agreed immediately. He descended from the tree while I undressed, and
with his assistance I stained myself from head to foot, as you see me;
but don't be alarmed, a single dip in the sea will make me a European
again. The good-natured Jack then helped to dress me in a sort of tunic
made of large leaves, and laughed heartily when he looked at me, calling
me _Omnibou_, of whom he had seen a picture, which he declared I exactly
resembled. I then wished to disguise him in the same way, but he would
not consent; he declared that, when he met with mamma and Francis, he
should fly to embrace them, and that he should alarm and disgust them in
such a costume. He said I could protect him if the savages wished to
devour him: they were now at hand, and we went forward, Jack following
me with my bundle of clothes under his arm. I had slung my kangaroo-skin
bag of powder and provision on my shoulders, and I was glad to see that
most of the savages wore the skin of that animal, for the most part
spread out like a mantle over their shoulders; few of them had other
clothes, excepting one, who appeared to be the chief, and had a tunic of
green rushes, neatly woven. I tried to recollect all the words of savage
language I could, but very few occurred to me. I said at first '_tayo,
tayo_'. I don't know whether they comprehended me, but they paid me
great attention, evidently taking me for a savage; only one of them
wished to seize my gun; but I held it firmly, and on the chief speaking
a word to him, he drew back. They spoke very rapidly, and I saw by their
looks they spoke about us; they looked incessantly at Jack, repeating,
'_To maiti tata_.' Jack imitated all their motions, and made some
grimaces which seemed to amuse them. I tried in vain to attract their
attention. I had observed a handkerchief twisted round the head of him
who seemed the chief, that reminded me much of the one my mother usually
wore. I approached him, touched the handkerchief, saying expressively,
'_Metoua aine mere, et tata frere_;' I added, pointing to the sea, '_pay
canot_.' But, alas! they did not appear to understand my words. The
chief thought I wished to rob him of his handkerchief, and repelled me
roughly. I then wished to retire, and I told Jack to follow me; but four
islanders seized him, opened his waistcoat and shirt, and cried out
together, '_Alea tea tata_.' In an instant he was stripped, and his
clothes and mine were put on in a strange fashion by the savages. Jack,
mimicking all their contortions, recovered his shirt from one of them,
put it on, and began to dance, calling on me to do the same, and, in a
tone as if singing, repeated, 'Make your escape, Fritz, while I am
amusing them; I will then run off and join you very soon,' As if I could
for a moment think of leaving him in the hands of these barbarians!
However, I recollected at that moment the bag you had given me of toys
and trinkets; we had thoughtlessly left it under the great tree where I
had undressed. I told Jack, in the same tone, I would fetch it, if he
could amuse the savages till I returned, which he might be certain would
be very soon. I ran off with all speed, and without opposition arrived
at the tree, found my bag well guarded, indeed, father; for what was my
surprise to find our two faithful dogs, Turk and Flora, sitting
"Flora!" cried I, "she accompanied my dear wife and child into their
captivity; they must be in this island--why have we left it!"
"My dear father," continued Fritz, "depend on it, they are not there;
but I feel convinced that the wretches who have carried off Jack, hold
dear mamma and Francis in captivity; therefore we must, at all events,
pursue them. The meeting between Flora and me was truly joyful, for I
was now convinced that my mother and Francis were not far off, though
certainly not on the same island, or their attached friend would not
have quitted them. I concluded that the chief who had taken my mamma's
handkerchief had also taken her dog, and brought her on this excursion,
and that she had here met with her friend Turk, who had rambled from us.
"After caressing Flora, and taking up my bag, I ran off full speed to
the spot where my dear Jack was trying to divert the barbarians. As I
approached, I heard cries,--not the noisy laughter of the savages, but
cries of distress from my beloved brother,--cries for help, addressed to
me. I did not walk--I flew till I reached the spot, and I then saw him
bound with a sort of strong cord, made of gut; his hands were fastened
behind his back, his legs tied together, and these cruel men were
carrying him towards their canoe, while he was crying out, 'Fritz,
Fritz, where are you?' I threw myself desperately on the six men who
were bearing him off. In the struggle, my gun, which I held in my hand,
caught something, and accidentally went off, and--O, father, it was my
own dear Jack that I wounded! I cannot tell how I survived his cry of
'You have killed me!' And when I saw his blood flow, my senses forsook
me, and I fainted. When I recovered, I was alone; they had carried him
off. I rose, and following the traces of his blood, arrived fortunately
at the shore just as they were embarking. God permitted me to see him
again, supported by one of the savages, and even to hear his feeble
voice cry, 'Console yourself, Fritz, I am not dead; I am only wounded in
the shoulder; it is not your fault; go, my kind brother, as quick as
possible to papa, and you will both'--the canoe sailed away so swiftly,
that I heard no more; but I understood the rest--'_you will both come
and rescue me_.' But will there be time? Will they dress his wound? Oh!
father, what have I done! Can you forgive me?"
Overwhelmed with grief, I could only hold out my hand to my poor boy,
and assure him I could not possibly blame him for this distressing
Ernest, though greatly afflicted, endeavoured to console his brother; he
told him a wound in the shoulder was not dangerous, and the savages
certainly intended to dress his wound, or they would have left him to
die. Fritz, somewhat comforted, begged me to allow him to bathe, to
divest himself of the colouring, which was now become odious to him, as
being that of these ruthless barbarians. I was reluctant to consent; I
thought it might still be useful, in gaining access to the savages; but
he was certain they would recognize him in that disguise as the bearer
of _the thunder_, and would distrust him. I now recollected to ask what
had become of his gun, and was sorry to learn that they had carried it
off whilst he lay insensible; he himself considered that it would be
useless to them, as they had fortunately left him the bag of ammunition.
Ernest, however, regretted the loss to ourselves, this being the third
we had lost--the one we had left in the canoe being also in the
possession of the savages. The dogs we missed, too, and Fritz could give
no account of them; we concluded they had either followed the savages,
or were still in the island. This was another severe sorrow; it seemed
as if every sort of misfortune was poured out upon us. I rested on the
shoulder of Ernest in my anguish. Fritz took advantage of my silence,
and leaped out of the pinnace to have a bath. I was alarmed at first;
but he was such an excellent swimmer, and the sea was so calm, that I
soon abandoned my fears for him.
* * * * *
Fritz was now swimming far before us, and appeared to have no idea of
turning, so that I was at once certain he projected swimming on to the
point where we had lost sight of the savages, to be the first to
discover and aid his brother. Although he was an excellent swimmer, yet
the distance was so great, that I was much alarmed; and especially for
his arrival by night in the midst of the savages. This fear was much
increased by a very extraordinary sound, which we now heard gradually
approaching us; it was a sort of submarine tempest. The weather was
beautiful; there was no wind, the moon shone in a cloudless sky, yet the
waves were swoln as if by a storm, and threatened to swallow us; we
heard at the same time a noise like violent rain. Terrified at these
phenomena, I cried out aloud for Fritz to return; and though it was
almost impossible my voice could reach him, we saw him swimming towards
us with all his strength. Ernest and I used all our power in rowing to
meet him, so that we soon got to him. The moment he leaped in, he
uttered in a stifled voice, pointing to the mountains of waves, "They
are enormous marine monsters! whales, I believe! such an immense shoal!
They will swallow us up!"
"No," said Ernest, quietly; "don't be alarmed; the whale is a gentle and
harmless animal, when not attacked. I am very glad to see them so near.
We shall pass as quietly through the midst of these colossal creatures,
as we did through the shining zoophytes: doubtless the whales are
searching for them, for they constitute a principal article of
They were now very near us, sporting on the surface of the water, or
plunging into its abysses, and forcing out columns of water through
their nostrils to a great height, which occasionally fell on us, and
wetted us. Sometimes they raised themselves on their huge tail, and
looked like giants ready to fall on us and crush us; then they went down
again into the water, which foamed under their immense weight. Then they
seemed to be going through some military evolutions, advancing in a
single line, like a body of regular troops, one after another swimming
with grave dignity; still more frequently they were in lines of two and
two. This wonderful sight partly diverted us from our own melancholy
thoughts. Fritz had, however, seized his oar, without giving himself
time to dress, whilst I, at the rudder, steered as well as I could
through these monsters, who are, notwithstanding their appearance, the
mildest animals that exist. They allowed us to pass so closely, that we
were wetted with the water they spouted up, and might have touched them;
and with the power to overturn us with a stroke of their tail, they
never noticed us; they seemed to be satisfied with each other's society.
We were truly sorry to see their mortal enemy appear amongst them, the
sword-fish of the south, armed with its long saw, remarkable for a sort
of _fringe_ of nine or ten inches long, which distinguishes it from the
sword-fish of the north. They are both terrible enemies to the whale,
and next to man, who wages an eternal war with them, its most formidable
foes. The whales in our South Seas had only the sword-fish to dread; as
soon as they saw him approach, they dispersed, or dived into the depths
of the ocean. One only, very near us, did not succeed in escaping, and
we witnessed a combat, of which, however, we could not see the event.
These two monsters attacked each other with equal ferocity; but as they
took an opposite direction to that we were going, we soon lost sight of
them, but we shall never forget our meeting with these wonderful giants
of the deep.
We happily doubled the promontory behind which the canoe had passed, and
found ourselves in an extensive gulf, which narrowed as it entered the
land, and resembled the mouth of a river. We did not hesitate to follow
its course. We went round the bay, but found no traces of man, but
numerous herds of the amphibious animal, called sometimes the sea-lion,
the sea-dog, or the sea-elephant, or trunked phoca: modern voyagers give
it the last name. These animals, though of enormous size, are gentle and
peaceful, unless roused by the cruelty of man. They were in such numbers
on this desert coast, that they would have prevented our approach if we
had intended it. They actually covered the beach and the rocks, opening
their huge mouths, armed with very sharp teeth, more frightful than
dangerous. As it was night when we entered the bay, they were all
sleeping, but they produced a most deafening noise with their breathing.
We left them to their noisy slumber; for us, alas! no such comfort
remained. The continual anxiety attending an affliction like ours
destroys all repose, and for three days we had not slept an hour. Since
the new misfortune of Jack's captivity, we were all kept up by a kind of
fever. Fritz was in a most incredible state of excitement, and declared
he would never sleep till he had rescued his beloved brother. His bath
had partially removed the colouring from his skin, but he was still dark
enough to pass for a savage, when arrayed like them. The shores of the
strait we were navigating were very steep, and we had yet not met with
any place where we could land; however, my sons persisted in thinking
the savages could have taken no other route, as they had lost sight of
their canoe round the promontory. As the strait was narrow and shallow,
I consented that Fritz should throw off the clothes he had on, and swim
to reconnoitre a place which seemed to be an opening in the rocks or
hills that obstructed our passage, and we soon had the pleasure of
seeing him standing on the shore, motioning for us to approach. The
strait was now so confined, that we could not have proceeded any further
with the pinnace; we could not even bring it to the shore. Ernest and I
were obliged to step into the water up to the waist; but we took the
precaution to tie a long and strong rope to the prow, and when we were
aided by the vigorous arm of Fritz, we soon drew the pinnace near enough
to fix it by means of the anchor.
There were neither trees nor rocks on that desert shore to which we
could fasten the pinnace; but, to our great delight and encouragement,
we found, at a short distance from our landing-place, a bark canoe,
which my sons were certain was that in which Jack had been carried off.
We entered it, but at first saw only the oars; at last, however, Ernest
discovered, in the water which half filled the canoe, part of a
handkerchief, stained with blood, which they recognized as belonging to
Jack. This discovery, which relieved our doubts, caused Fritz to shed
tears of joy. We were certainly on the track of the robbers, and might
trust that they had not proceeded farther with their barbarity. We found
on the sand, and in the boat, some cocoa-nut shells and fish-bones,
which satisfied us of the nature of their repasts. We resolved to
continue our search into the interior of the country, following the
traces of the steps of the savages. We could not find any traces of
Jack's foot, which would have alarmed us, if Fritz had not suggested
that they had carried him, on account of his wound. We were about to set
out, when the thoughts of the pinnace came over us; it was more than
ever necessary for us to preserve this, our only means of return, and
which moreover contained our goods for ransom, our ammunition, and our
provisions, still untouched, for some bread-fruit Fritz had gathered,
some muscles, and small, but excellent, oysters, had been sufficient for
us. It was fortunate that we had brought some gourds of water with us,
for we had not met with any. We decided that it would be necessary to
leave one of our party to guard the precious pinnace, though this would
be but an insufficient and dangerous defence, in case of the approach of
the natives. My recent bereavements made me tremble at the idea of
leaving either of my sons. I cannot yet reflect on the agony of that
moment without horror--yet it was the sole means to secure our vessel;
there was not a creek or a tree to hide it, and the situation of the
canoe made it certain the savages must return there to embark. My
children knew my thoughts, by the distracted glances with which I
alternately regarded them and the pinnace, and, after consulting each
other's looks, Ernest said--
"The pinnace must not remain here unguarded, father, to be taken, or, at
any rate, pillaged by the natives, who will return for their canoe.
Either we must all wait till they come, or you must leave me to defend
it. I see, Fritz, that you could not endure to remain here."
In fact, Fritz impatiently stamped with his foot, saying--
"I confess, I cannot remain here; Jack may be dying of his wound, and
every moment is precious. I will seek him--find him--and save him! I
have a presentiment I shall; and if I discover him, as I expect, in the
hands of the savages, I know the way to release him, and to prevent
them carrying off our pinnace."
I saw that the daring youth, in the heat of his exasperation, exposed
alone to the horde of barbarians, might also become their victim. I saw
that my presence was necessary to restrain and aid him; and I decided,
with a heavy heart, to leave Ernest alone to protect the vessel. His
calm and cool manner made it less dangerous for him to meet the natives.
He knew several words of their language, and had read of the mode of
addressing and conciliating them. He promised me to be prudent, which
his elder brother could not be. We took the bag of toys which Fritz had
brought, and left those in the chest, to use if necessary; and, praying
for the blessing of Heaven on my son, we left him. My sorrow was great;
but he was no longer a child, and his character encouraged me. Fritz
embraced his brother, and promised him to bring Jack back in safety.
* * * * *
After having traversed for some time a desert, sandy plain without
meeting a living creature, we arrived at a thick wood, where we lost the
traces we had carefully followed. We were obliged to direct our course
by chance, keeping no fixed road, but advancing as the interwoven
branches permitted us. The wood was alive with the most beautiful birds
of brilliant and varied plumage; but, in our anxious and distressed
state, we should have been more interested in seeing a savage than a
bird. We passed at last through these verdant groves, and reached an
arid plain extending to the shore. We again discovered numerous
footsteps; and, whilst we were observing them, we saw a large canoe pass
rapidly, filled with islanders: and this time I thought that, in spite
of the distance, I could recognize the canoe we had built, and which
they had robbed us of. Fritz wished to swim after them, and was
beginning to undress himself, and I only stopped him by declaring that
if he did, I must follow him, as I had decided not to be separated from
him. I even proposed that we should return to Ernest, as I was of
opinion that the savages would stop at the place where we had
disembarked, to take away the boat they had left, and we might then, by
means of the words Ernest had acquired, learn from them what had become
of my wife and children. Fritz agreed to this, though he still persisted
that the easiest and quickest mode of return would have been by
swimming. We were endeavouring to retrace our road, when, to our great
astonishment, we saw, at a few yards' distance, a man clothed in a long
black robe advancing towards us, whom we immediately recognized as
"Either I am greatly deceived," said I, "or this is a missionary, a
worthy servant of God, come into these remote regions to make Him known
to the wretched idolators."
We hastened to him. I was not wrong. He was one of those zealous and
courageous Christians who devote their energies and their lives to the
instruction and eternal salvation of men born in another hemisphere, of
another colour, uncivilized, but not less our brothers. I had quitted
Europe with the same intention, but Providence had ordered it
otherwise; yet I met with joy one of my Christian brethren, and, unable
to speak from emotion, I silently embraced him. He spoke to me in
English--a language I had fortunately learned myself, and taught to my
children--and his words fell on my soul like the message of the angel to
Abraham, commanding him to spare his son.
"You are the person I am seeking," said he, in a mild and tender tone,
"and I thank Heaven that I have met with you. This youth is Fritz, your
eldest son, I conclude; but where have you left your second
"Reverend man," cried Fritz, seizing his hands, "you have seen my
brother Jack. Perhaps my mother? You know where they are. Oh! are
"Yes, they are living, and well taken care of," said the missionary;
"come, and I will lead you to them."
It was, indeed, necessary to lead me; I was so overcome with joy, that I
should have fainted, but the good missionary made me inhale some
volatile salts which he had about him; and supported by him and my son,
I managed to walk. My first words were a thanksgiving to God for his
mercy; then I implored my good friend to tell me if I should indeed see
my wife and children again. He assured me that an hour's walk would
bring me to them; but I suddenly recollected Ernest, and refused to
present myself before the beloved ones while he was still in danger. The
missionary smiled, as he told me he expected this delay, and wished to
know where we had left Ernest. I recounted to him our arrival in the
island, and the purpose for which we had left Ernest; with our intention
of returning to him as soon as we saw the canoe pass, hoping to obtain
some intelligence from the savages.
"But how could you have made yourselves understood?" said he; "are you
acquainted with their language?"
I told him Ernest had studied the vocabulary of the South Sea islanders.
"Doubtless that of Tahiti, or the Friendly Islands," said he; "but the
dialect of these islanders differs much from theirs. I have resided here
more than a year, and have studied it, so may be of use to you; let us
go. Which way did you come?"
"Through that thick wood," replied I; "where we wandered a long time;
and I fear we shall have some difficulty in finding our way back."
"You should have taken the precaution to notch the trees as you came,"
said our worthy friend; "without that precaution, you were in danger of
being lost; but we will find my marks, which will lead us to the brook,
and following its course we shall be safe."
"We saw no brook," remarked Fritz.
"There is a brook of excellent water, which you have missed in crossing
the forest; if you had ascended the course of the stream, you would have
reached the hut which contains your dear friends; the brook runs
Fritz struck his forehead with vexation.
"God orders all for the best," said I to the good priest; "we might not
have met with you; we should have been without Ernest; you might have
sought us all day in vain. Ah! good man, it is under your holy auspices
that our family ought to meet, in order to increase our happiness. Now
please to tell me"--
"But first," interrupted Fritz, "pray tell me how Jack is? He was
"Be composed, young man," said the calm man of God; "the wound, which he
confesses he owes to his own imprudence, will have no evil consequences;
the savages had applied some healing herbs to it, but it was necessary
to extract a small ball, an operation which I performed yesterday
evening. Since then he suffers less; and will be soon well, when his
anxiety about you is relieved."
Fritz embraced the kind missionary, entreating his pardon for his
rashness, and adding, "Did my brother talk to you of us, sir?"
"He did," answered his friend; "but I was acquainted with you before;
your mother talked continually of her husband and children. What mingled
pain and delight she felt yesterday evening when the savages brought to
her dear Jack, wounded! I was fortunately in the hut to comfort her, and
assist her beloved boy."
"And dear Francis," said I, "how rejoiced he would be to see his brother
"Francis," said the missionary, smiling, "will be the protector of you
all. He is the idol of the savages now; an idolatry permitted by
We proceeded through the wood as we conversed, and at last reached the
brook. I had a thousand questions to ask, and was very anxious to know
how my wife and Francis had been brought to this island, and how they
met with the missionary. The five or six days we had been separated
seemed to me five or six months. We walked too quickly for me to get
much information. The English minister said little, and referred me to
my wife and son for all details. On the subject of his own noble mission
he was less reserved.
"Thank God," said he, "I have already succeeded in giving this people
some notions of humanity. They love their _black friend_, as they call
me, and willingly listen to my preaching, and the singing of some hymns.
When your little Francis was taken, he had his reed flageolet in his
pocket, and his playing and graceful manners have so captivated them
that I fear they will with reluctance resign him. The king is anxious to
adopt him. But do not alarm yourself, brother; I hope to arrange all
happily, with the divine assistance. I have gained some power over them,
and I will avail myself of it. A year ago, I could not have answered for
the life of the prisoners; now I believe them to be in safety. But how
much is there yet to teach these simple children of nature, who listen
only to her voice, and yield to every impression! Their first impulse is
good, but they are so unsteady that affection may suddenly change to
hatred; they are inclined to theft, violent in their anger, yet generous
and affectionate. You will see an instance of this in the abode where a
woman, more unfortunate than your wife, since she has lost her husband,
has found an asylum."
He was silent, and I did not question him farther on this subject. We
were approaching the arm of the sea where we had left our pinnace, and
my heart, at ease about the rest, became now anxious solely for Ernest.
Sometimes the hills concealed the water from us; Fritz climbed them,
anxious to discover his brother, at last I heard him suddenly cry out
He was answered by shouts, or rather howls, amongst which I could not
distinguish the voice of my son. Terror seized me.
"These are the islanders," said I to the missionary; "and these
"Are cries of joy," said he, "which will be increased when they see you.
This path will conduct us to the shore. Call Fritz; but I do not see
him; he will, doubtless, have descended the hill, and joined them. Have
no fears; recommend your sons to be prudent. The _black friend_ will
speak to his black friends, and they will hear him."
We proceeded towards the shore, when, at some distance, I perceived my
two sons on the deck of the pinnace, which was covered with the
islanders, to whom they were distributing the treasures of the chest, at
least those we had put apart in the bag; they had not been so imprudent
as to open the chest itself, which would soon have been emptied; it
remained snugly below the deck, with the powder-barrel. At every new
acquisition, the savages uttered cries of joy, repeating _mona, mona_
signifying _beautiful_. The mirrors were at first received with the most
delight, but this soon changed into terror; they evidently conceived
there was something magical about them, and flung them all into the sea.
The coloured glass beads had then the preference, but the distribution
caused many disputes. Those who had not obtained any, wished to deprive
the rest of them by force. The clamour and quarrelling were increasing,
when the voice of the missionary was heard, and calmed them as if by
enchantment. All left the pinnace, and crowded round him; he harangued
them in their own language, and pointed me out to them, naming me, _me
touatane_, that is, _father_, which they repeated in their turn. Some
approached me, and rubbed their noses against mine, which, the pastor
had informed me, was a mark of respect. In the mean time, Fritz had
informed Ernest that his mother and brothers were found, and that the
man who accompanied us was a European. Ernest received the intelligence
with a calm joy; it was only by the tears in his eyes you could discover
how much his heart was affected; he leaped from the pinnace and came to
thank the missionary. I had my share of his gratitude too, for coming to
seek him, before I had seen the dear lost ones.
We had now to think of joining them. We unanimously decided to proceed
by water; in the first place, that we might bring our pinnace as near as
possible to my dear Elizabeth, who was still suffering from her fall,
her forced voyage, and, above all, from her anxiety; besides, I confess
that I felt a little fatigue, and should have reluctantly set out to
cross the wood a third time; but, in addition to this, I was assured
that it was the promptest mode of reaching our friends, and this alone
would have decided me. The pinnace was then loosened, the sail set, and
we entered with thankfulness. Dreading the agitation of my wife if she
saw us suddenly, I entreated our new friend to precede us, and prepare
her. He consented; but, as he was coming on board, he was suddenly
stopped by the natives, and one of them addressed him for some time. The
missionary listened till he had concluded, with calmness and dignity;
then, turning to me, he said--
"You must answer for me, brother, the request which _Parabery_ makes: he
wishes me, in the name of the whole, to wait a few moments for their
chief, to whom they give the title of king. _Bara-ourou_, as he is
called, has assembled them here for a ceremony, at which all his
warriors must assist. I have been anxious to attend, fearing it might be
a sacrifice to their idols, which I have always strongly opposed, and
wishing to seize this occasion to declare to them the one true God.
Bara-ourou is not wicked, and I hope to succeed in touching his heart,
enlightening his mind, and converting him to Christianity; his example
would certainly be followed by the greatest part of his subjects, who
are much attached to him. Your presence, and the name of God uttered by
you, with the fervour and in the attitude of profound veneration and
devotion, may aid this work of charity and love. Have you sufficient
self-command to delay, for perhaps a few hours, the meeting with your
family? Your wife and children, not expecting you, will not suffer from
suspense. If you do not agree to this, I will conduct you to them, and
return, I hope in time, to fulfil my duty. I wait your decision to reply
to Parabery, who is already sufficiently acquainted with the truth, to
desire that his king and his brethren should know it also."
Such were the words of this true servant of God; but I cannot do justice
to the expression of his heavenly countenance. Mr. Willis, for such was
his name, was forty-five or fifty years of age, tall and thin; the
labours and fatigues of his divine vocation had, more than years, left
their traces on his noble figure and countenance; he stooped a little,
his open and elevated forehead was slightly wrinkled, and his thin hair
was prematurely grey; his clear blue eyes were full of intelligence and
kindness, reading your thoughts, and showing you all his own. He usually
kept his arms folded over his breast, and was very calm in speaking; but
when his extended hand pointed to heaven, the effect was irresistible;
one might have thought he saw the very glory he spoke of. His simple
words to me seemed a message from God, and it would have been impossible
to resist him. It was indeed a sacrifice; but I made it without
hesitation. I glanced at my sons, who had their eyes cast down; but I
saw Fritz knitting his brows. "I shall stay with you, father," said I,
"happy if I can assist you in fulfilling your sacred duties."
"And you, young people," said he, "are you of the same opinion?"
Fritz came forward, and frankly said, "Sir, it was, unfortunately, I who
wounded my brother Jack; he has been generous enough to conceal this;
you extracted the ball which I discharged into his shoulder; I owe his
life to you, and mine is at your disposal; I can refuse you nothing;
and, however impatient, I must remain with you."
"I repeat the same," said Ernest; "you protected our mother and
brothers, and, by God's permission, you restore them to us. We will all
remain with you; you shall fix the time of our meeting, which will not,
I trust, be long delayed."
I signified my approbation, and the missionary gave them his hand,
assuring them that their joy on meeting their friends would be greatly
increased by the consciousness of this virtuous self-denial.
We soon experienced this. Mr. Willis learned from Parabery, that they
were going to fetch their king in our pretty canoe when we saw it pass.
The royal habitation was situated on the other side of the promontory,
and we soon heard a joyful cry, that they saw the canoe coming. While
the savages were engaged in preparing to meet their chief, I entered the
pinnace, and descending beneath the deck, I took from the chest what I
judged most fitting to present to his majesty. I chose an axe, a saw, a
pretty, small, ornamented sabre, which could not do much harm, a packet
of nails, and one of glass-beads. I had scarcely put aside these
articles, when my sons rushed to me in great excitement.
"Oh! father," cried they, at once, "look! look! summon all your
fortitude; see! there is Francis himself in the canoe; oh! how curiously
he is dressed!"
[Illustration: "Two savages took Francis on their shoulders, and two
others took the king in the same way."]
I looked, and saw, at some distance, our canoe ascending the strait; it
was decorated with green branches, which the savages, who formed the
king's guard, held in their hand; others were rowing vigorously; and the
chief, wearing a red and yellow handkerchief, which had belonged to my
wife, as a turban, was seated at the stern, and a pretty, little,
blooming, flaxen-haired boy was placed on his right shoulder. With what
delight did I recognize my child. He was naked above the waist, and wore
a little tunic of woven leaves, which reached to his knees, a necklace
and bracelets of shells, and a variety of coloured feathers mingled
with his bright curls; one of these fell over his face, and doubtless
prevented him from seeing us. The chief seemed much engaged with him,
and continually took some ornament from his own dress to decorate him.
"It is my child!" said I, in great terror, to Mr. Willis, "my dearest
and youngest! They have taken him from his mother. What must be her
grief! He is her Benjamin--the child of her love. Why have they taken
him? Why have they adorned him in this manner? Why have they brought
"Have no fear," said the missionary; "they will do him no harm. I
promise you they shall restore him, and you shall take him back to his
mother. Place yourselves at my side, with these branches in your hands."
He took some from Parabery, who held a bundle of them, and gave us each
one; each of the savages took one also. They were from a tree which had
slender, elegant leaves, and rich scarlet flowers--species of _mimosa_;
the Indians call it the tree of peace. They carry a branch of it when
they have no hostile intentions; in all their assemblies, when war is
proclaimed, they make a fire of these branches, and if all are consumed,
it is considered an omen of victory.
While Mr. Willis was explaining this to us, the canoe approached. Two
savages took Francis on their shoulders, two others took the king in the
same way, and advanced gravely towards us. What difficulty I had to
restrain myself from snatching my child from his bearers, and embracing
him! My sons were equally agitated; Fritz was darting forward, but the
missionary restrained him. Francis, somewhat alarmed at his position,
had his eyes cast down, and had not yet seen us. When the king was
within twenty yards of us, they stopped, and all the savages prostrated
themselves before him; we alone remained standing. Then Francis saw us,
and uttered a piercing cry, calling out, "Papa! dear brothers!" He
struggled to quit the shoulders of his bearers, but they held him too
firmly. It was impossible to restrain ourselves longer; we all cried
out, and mingled our tears and lamentations. I said to the good
missionary,--a little too harshly, perhaps,--"Ah! if you were a father!"
"I am," said he, "the father of all this flock, and your children are
mine; I am answerable for all. Command your sons to be silent; request
the child to be composed, and leave the rest to me."
I immediately took advantage of the permission to speak. "Dear Francis,"
said I, holding out my arms, "we are come to seek you and your mother;
after all our dangers, we shall soon meet again, to part no more. But be
composed, my child, and do not risk the happiness of that moment by any
impatience. Trust in God, and in this good friend that He has given us,
and who has restored to me the treasures without which I could not
live." We then waved our hands to him, and he remained still, but wept
quietly, murmuring our names: "Papa, Fritz, Ernest,--tell me about
mamma," said he, at last, in an inquiring tone.
"She does not know we are so near her," said I. "How did you leave her?"
"Very much grieved," said he, "that they brought me away; but they have
not done me any harm,--they are so kind; and we shall soon all go back
to her. Oh! what joy for her and our friends!"
"One word about Jack," said Fritz; "how does his wound go on?"
"Oh, pretty well," answered he; "he has no pain now, and Sophia nurses
him and amuses him. How little Matilda would weep when the savages
carried me off! If you knew, papa, how kind and good she is!"
I had no time to ask who Sophia and Matilda were. They had allowed me to
speak to my son to tranquillize him, but the king now commanded silence,
and, still elevated on the shoulders of his people, began to harangue
the assembly. He was a middle-aged man, with striking features; his
thick lips, his hair tinged with red paint, his dark brown face, which,
as well as his body, was tattooed with white, gave him a formidable
aspect; yet his countenance was not unpleasant, and announced no
ferocity. In general, these savages have enormous mouths, with long
white teeth; they wear a tunic of reeds or leaves from the waist to the
knees. My wife's handkerchief, which I had recognized at first, was
gracefully twisted round the head of the king; his hair was fastened up
high, and ornamented with feathers, but he had nearly removed them all
to deck my boy. He placed him at his side, and frequently pointed him
out during his speech. I was on thorns. As soon as he had concluded, the
savages shouted, clapped their hands, and surrounded my child, dancing,
and presenting him fruit, flowers, and shells, crying out, _Ouraki_! a
cry in which the king, who was now standing, joined also.
"What does the word _Ouraki_ mean?" said I to the missionary.
"It is the new name of your son," answered he; "or rather of the son of
_Bara-ourou_, who has just adopted him."
"Never!" cried I, darting forward. "Boys, let us rescue your brother
from these barbarians!" We all three rushed towards Francis, who,
weeping, extended his arms to us. The savages attempted to repulse us;
but at that moment the missionary pronounced some words in a loud voice;
they immediately prostrated themselves on their faces, and we had no
difficulty in securing the child. We brought him to our protector, who
still remained in the same attitude in which he had spoken, with his
eyes and his right hand raised towards heaven. He made a sign for the
savages to rise, and afterwards spoke for some time to them. What would
I have given to have understood him! But I formed some idea from the
effect of his words. He frequently pointed to us, pronouncing the word
_eroue_, and particularly addressed the king, who listened motionless to
him. At the conclusion of his speech, Bara-ourou approached, and
attempted to take hold of Francis, who threw himself into my arms, where
I firmly held him.
"Let him now go," said Mr. Willis, "and fear nothing."
I released the child; the king lifted him up, pressed his own nose to
his; then, placing him on the ground, took away the feathers and
necklace with which he had decked him, and replaced him in my arms,
rubbing my nose also, and repeating several words. In my first emotion,
I threw myself on my knees, and was imitated by my two sons.
"It is well!" cried the missionary, again raising his eyes and hands.
"Thus should you offer thanks to heaven. The king, convinced it is the
will of God, restores your child, and wishes to become your friend: he
is worthy to be so, for he adores and fears your God. May he soon learn
to know and believe all the truths of Christianity! Let us pray together
that the time may come when, on these shores, where paternal love has
triumphed, I may see a temple rise to the Father of all,--the God of
peace and love."
He kneeled down, and the king and all his people followed his example.
Without understanding the words of his prayer, I joined in the spirit of
it with all my heart and soul.
I then presented my offerings to the king, increasing them considerably.
I would willingly have given all my treasures in exchange for him he had
restored to me. My sons also gave something to each of the savages, who
incessantly cried _tayo, tayo_. I begged Mr. Willis to tell the king I
gave him my canoe, and hoped he would use it to visit us in our island,
to which we were returning. He appeared pleased, and wished to accompany
us in our pinnace, which he seemed greatly to admire; some of his people
followed him on board to row, the rest placed themselves in the canoes.
We soon entered the sea again, and, doubling the second point, we came
to an arm of the sea much wider, and deep enough for our pinnace, and
which conducted us to the object of our dearest hopes.
* * * * *
We were never weary with caressing our dear Francis. We were very
anxious to learn from him all the particulars of the arrival of the
savages in our island, the seizure of his mother and himself, their
voyage, and their residence here, and who were the friends they had met
with: but it was impossible, his tawny majesty never left us for a
moment, and played with the boy as if he had been a child himself.
Francis showed him all the toys from our chest; he was extremely amused
with the small mirrors, and the dolls. A painted carriage, driven by a
coachman who raised his whip when the wheels turned, appeared miraculous
to him. He uttered screams of delight as he pointed it out to his
followers. The ticking of my watch also charmed him; and as I had
several more, I gave him it, showing him how to wind it up. But the
first time he tried to do it, he broke the spring, and when it was
silent he cared no longer for it, but threw it on one side. However, as
the gold was very glittering, he took it up again, and suspending it
from the handkerchief that was wound round his head, it hung over his
nose, and formed a striking ornament. Francis showed him his face in a
mirror, which royal amusement made him laugh heartily. He asked the
missionary if it was the invisible and Almighty God who had made all
these wonderful things. Mr. Willis replied, that it was he who gave men
the power to make them. I do not know whether Bara-ourou comprehended
this, but he remained for some time in deep thought. I profited by this
to ask the missionary what were the words which had terrified them so
when they wished to keep my son from me, and which had compelled them to
"I told them," answered he, "that the Almighty and unseen God, of whom I
spoke to them daily, ordered them, by my voice, to restore a son to his
father; I threatened them with his anger if they refused, and promised
them his mercy if they obeyed; and they did obey. The first step is
gained, they know the duty of adoring and obeying God; every other truth
proceeds from this, and I have no doubt that my savages will one day
become good Christians. My method of instruction is suited to their
limited capacity. I prove to them that their wooden idols, made by their
own hands, could neither create, hear them, nor protect them. I have
shown them God in his works, have declared him to be as good as he is
powerful, hating evil, cruelty, murder, and cannibalism, and they have
renounced all these. In their late wars they have either released or
adopted their prisoners. If they carried off your wife and son, they
intended it for a good action, as you will soon understand."
I could not ask Francis any questions, as Bara-ourou continued playing
with him, so turning to Ernest, I asked him what passed when the savages
"When you left me," said he, "I amused myself by searching for shells,
plants, and zoophytes, with which the rocks abound, and I have added a
good deal to my collection. I was at some distance from the pinnace,
when I heard a confused sound of voices, and concluded that the savages
were coming; in fact, ten or a dozen issued from the road you had
entered, and I cannot comprehend how you missed meeting them. Fearing
they would attempt to take possession of my pinnace, I returned
speedily, and seized a loaded musket, though I determined to use it only
to defend my own life, or the pinnace. I stood on the deck in an
attitude as bold and imposing as I could command; but I did not succeed
in intimidating them. They leaped, one after the other, on deck, and
surrounded me, uttering loud cries. I could not discover whether they
were cries of joy or of fury; but I showed no fear, and addressed them
in a friendly tone, in some words from Capt. Cook's vocabulary; but they
did not seem to comprehend me, neither could I understand any of theirs
except _ecroue_ (father), which they frequently repeated, and
_tara-tauo_ (woman). One of them had Fritz's gun, from which I concluded
they were of the party that had carried off Jack. I took it, and showing
him mine, endeavoured to make him understand that it also belonged to
me. He thought I wished to exchange, and readily offered to return it,
and take mine. This would not have suited me; Fritz's gun was
discharged, and I could not let them have mine loaded. To prevent
accident, surrounded as I was, I decided to give them a fright, and
seeing a bird flying above us, I took aim so correctly, that my shot
brought down the bird, a blue pigeon. They were for a moment stupified
with terror; then immediately all left the pinnace, except Parabery; he
seemed to be pleased with me, often pointing to the sky, saying _mete_,
which means _good_, I believe. His comrades were examining the dead
bird. Some touched their own shoulders, to try if they were wounded as
well as the bird and Jack had been, which convinced me they had carried
him off. I tried to make Parabery understand my suspicion, and I think I
succeeded, for he made me an affirmative sign, pointing to the interior
of the island, and touching his shoulder with an air of pity. I took
several things from the chest, and gave them to him, making signs that
he should show them to the others, and induce them to return to me. He
comprehended me very well, and complied with my wishes. I was soon
surrounded by the whole party, begging of me. I was busy distributing
beads, mirrors, and small knives when you came, and we are now excellent
friends. Two or three of them returned to the wood, and brought me
cocoa-nuts and bananas. But we must be careful to hide our guns, of
which they have a holy horror. And now, dear father, I think we ought
not to call these people _savages_. They have the simplicity of
childhood; a trifle irritates them, a trifle appeases them; they are
grateful and affectionate. I find them neither cruel nor barbarous. They
have done me no harm, when they might easily have killed me, thrown me
into the sea, or carried me away."
"We must not," said I, "judge of all savage people by these, who have
had the benefit of a virtuous teacher. Mr. Willis has already cast into
their hearts the seeds of that divine religion, which commands us to do
unto others as we would they should do unto us, and to pardon and love
While we were discoursing, we arrived at a spot where the canoes had
already landed; we were about to do the same, but the king did not seem
inclined to quit the pinnace, but continued speaking to the missionary.
I was still fearful that he wished to keep Francis, to whom he seemed to
be more and more attached, holding him constantly on his knee; but at
last, to my great joy, he placed him in my arms.
"He keeps his word with you," said Mr. Willis. "You may carry him to his
mother; but, in return, he wishes you to permit him to go in your
pinnace to his abode on the other side of the strait, that he may show
it to the women, and he promises to bring it back; perhaps there would
be danger in refusing him."
I agreed with him; but still there was a difficulty in granting this
request. If he chose to keep it, how should we return? Besides, it
contained our only barrel of powder, and all our articles of traffic,
and how could we expect it would escape pillage?
Mr. Willis confessed he had not yet been able to cure their fondness for
theft, and suggested, as the only means of security, that I should
accompany the king, and bring the pinnace back, which was then to be
committed to the charge of Parabery, for whose honesty he would be
Here was another delay; the day was so far advanced, that I might not,
perhaps, be able to return before night. Besides, though my wife did
not know we were so near her, she knew they had carried away Francis,
and she would certainly be very uneasy about him. Bara-ourou looked very
impatient, and as it was necessary to answer him, I decided at once; I
resigned Francis to the missionary, entreating him to take him to his
mother, to prepare her for our approach, and to relate the cause of our
delay. I told my sons, it was my desire they should accompany me. Fritz
agreed rather indignantly, and Ernest with calmness. Mr. Willis told the
king, that in gratitude to him, and to do him honour, I and my sons
wished to accompany him. He appeared much flattered at this, made my
sons seat themselves on each side of him, endeavoured to pronounce their
names, and finished by exchanging names as a token of friendship,
calling Fritz, _Bara_; Ernest, _Ourou_; and himself, Fritz-Ernest. Mr.
Willis and Francis left us; our hearts were sad to see them go where all
our wishes centred; but the die was cast. The king gave the signal to
depart; the canoes took the lead, and we followed. In an hour we saw the
royal palace. It was a tolerably large hut, constructed of bamboos and
palm-leaves, very neatly. Several women were seated before it, busily
employed in making the short petticoats of reeds which they all wore.
Their hair was very carefully braided in tufts on the crown of the head;
none were good-looking, except two daughters of the king, about ten and
twelve years old, who, though very dark, were graceful: these, no doubt,
he intended for wives for my Francis. We disembarked about a hundred
yards from the hut. The women came to meet us, carrying a branch of the
mimosa in each hand; they then performed a singular kind of dance,
entwining their arms and shaking their feet, but never moving from the
spot; this they accompanied with a wild chant, which was anything but
musical. The king seemed pleased with it; and, calling his wives and
daughters, he showed them his _tayo, Bara_ and _Ourou_, calling himself
Fritz-Ernest; he then joined in the dance, dragging my sons with him,
who managed it pretty well. As for me, he treated me with great respect,
always calling me _ecroue_--father, and made me sit down on a large
trunk of a tree before his house; which was, doubtless, his throne, for
he placed me there with great ceremony, rubbing his royal nose against
mine. After the dance was concluded, the women retired to the hut, and
returned to offer us a collation, served up in the shells of cocoa-nuts.
It was a sort of paste, composed, I believe, of different sorts of
fruit, mixed up with a kind of flour and the milk of the cocoa-nut. This
mixture was detestable to me; but I made up for it with some kernel of
cocoa-nuts and the bread-fruit. Perceiving that I liked these,
Bara-ourou ordered some of them to be gathered, and carried to
The hut was backed by a wood of palms and other trees, so that our
provision was readily made. Still there was time for my sons to run to
the pinnace, attended by Parabery, and bring from the chest some beads,
mirrors, scissors, needles and pins, to distribute to the ladies. When
they brought the fruit they had gathered, I made a sign to Bara-ourou to
take them to see the pinnace; he called them, and they followed him
timidly, and submitting to his wishes in everything, They carried the
fruit two and two, in a sort of baskets, very skilfully woven in rushes,
which appeared to have a European form. They had no furniture in their
dwelling but mats, which were doubtless their beds, and some trunks of
trees, serving for seats and tables. Several baskets were suspended to
the bamboo which formed the walls, and also lances, slings, clubs, and
other similar weapons; from which I concluded they were a nation of
warriors. I did not observe much, however, for my thoughts were in the
future, and I was very impatient for our departure. I hastened to the
pinnace, and my sons distributed their gifts to the females, who did not
dare to express their delight; but it was evident in their countenances.
They immediately began to adorn themselves with their presents, and
appeared to value the mirrors much more than their husbands had done.
They soon understood their use, and employed them to arrange with taste
the strings of beads round their necks, heads, and arms.
At last the signal was given for our departure; I rubbed my nose against
that of the king. I added to my presents a packet of nails, and one of
gilt buttons, which he seemed to covet. I went on board my pinnace, and,
conducted by the good Parabery, we took our way to that part of the
coast where the dear ones resided whom I so anxiously desired to see.
Some of the savages accompanied us in their own canoe; we should have
preferred having only our friend Parabery, but we were not the masters.
Favoured by the wind, we soon reached the shore we had formerly
quitted, and found our excellent missionary waiting for us.
"Come," said he, "you are now going to receive your reward. Your wife
and children impatiently expect you; they would have come to meet you,
but your wife is still weak, and Jack suffering--your presence will soon
I was too much affected to answer. Fritz gave me his arm, as much to
support me as to restrain himself from rushing on before. Ernest did the
same with Mr. Willis; his mildness pleased the good man, who also saw
his taste for study, and tried to encourage it. After half an hour's
walk, the missionary told us we were now near our good friends. I saw no
sign of a habitation, nothing but trees and rocks; at last I saw a light
smoke among the trees, and at that moment Francis, who had been
watching, ran to meet us.
"Mamma is expecting you," said he, showing us the way through a grove of
shrubs, thick enough to hide entirely the entrance into a kind of
grotto; we had to stoop to pass into it. It resembled much the entrance
of the bear's den, which we found in the remote part of our island. A
mat of rushes covered the opening, yet permitted the light to penetrate
it. Francis removed the matting, calling--
"Mamma, here we are!"
A lady, apparently about twenty-even years of age, of mild and pleasing
appearance, came forward to meet me. She a clothed in a rob mad of
palm-leaves tied together, which reached from her throat to her feet,
leaving her beautiful arms uncovered. Her light hair was braided and
fastened up round her head.
"You are welcome," said she, taking my hand; "you will be my poor
friend's best physician."
We entered, and saw my dear wife seated on a bed of moss and leaves; she
wept abundantly, pointing out to me our dear boy by her side. A little
nymph of eleven or twelve years old was endeavouring to raise him.
"Here are your papa and brothers, Jack," said she; "you are very happy
in having what I have not: but your papa will be mine, and you shall be
Jack thanked her affectionately. Fritz and Ernest, kneeling beside the
couch, embraced their mother. Fritz begged her to forgive him for
hurting his brother; and then tenderly inquired of Jack after his wound.
For me, I cannot describe my gratitude and agitation; I could scarce
utter a word to my dear wife, who, on her part, sunk down quite overcome
on her bed. The lady, who was, I understood, named Madame Hirtel,
approached to assist her. When she recovered, she presented to me Madame
Hirtel and her two daughters. The eldest, Sophia, was attending on Jack;
Matilda, who was about ten or eleven years of age, was playing with
Francis; while the good missionary, on his knees, thanked God for having
"And for life," cried my dear wife. "My dear husband, I well knew you
would set out to seek me; but how could I anticipate that you would ever
succeed in finding me? We will now separate no more; this beloved friend
has agreed to accompany us to the Happy Island, as I intend to call it,
if I ever have the happiness to reach it again with all I love in the
world. How graciously God permits us to derive blessings from our
sorrows. See what my trial has produced me: a friend and two dear
daughters, for henceforward we are only one family,"
We were mutually delighted with this arrangement, and entreated Mr.
Willis to visit us often, and to come and live in the Happy Island when
his mission was completed.
"I will consent," said he, "if you will come and assist me in my duties;
for which purpose you and your sons must acquire the language of these
islanders. We are much nearer your island than you think, for you took a
very circuitous course, and Parabery, who knows it, declares it is only
a day's voyage with a fair wind. And, moreover, he tells me, that he is
so much delighted with you and your sons, that he cannot part with you,
and wishes me to obtain your permission to accompany you, and remain
with you. He will be exceedingly useful to you: will teach the language
to you all, and will be a ready means of communication between us."
I gladly agreed to take Parabery with us as a friend; but it was no time
yet to think of departing, as Mr. Willis wished to have Jack some days
longer under his care; we therefore arranged that I and my two sons
should become his guests, as his hut was but a short distance off. We
had many things to hear; but, as my wife was yet too weak to relate her
adventures, we resolved first to have the history of Madame Hirtel.
Night coming on, the missionary lighted a gourd lamp, and, after a
light collation of bread-fruit, Madame Hirtel began her story.
* * * * *
"My life," she began, "passed without any remarkable events, till the
misfortune occurred which brought me to this island. I was married, when
very young, to Mr. Hirtel, a merchant at Hamburg, an excellent man,
whose loss I have deeply felt. I was very happy in this union, arranged
by my parents, and sanctioned by reason. We had three children, a son
and two daughters, in the first three years of our marriage; and M.
Hirtel, seeing his family increase so rapidly, wished to increase his
income. An advantageous establishment was offered him in the Canary
Islands; he accepted it, and prevailed on me to settle there, with my
family, for some years. My parents were dead, I had no tie to detain me
in Europe. I was going to see new regions, those fortunate isles I had
heard so much of, and I set out joyfully with my husband and children,
little foreseeing the misfortunes before me.
"Our voyage was favourable; the children, like myself, were delighted
with the novelties of it. I was then twenty-three years old; Sophia,
seven; Matilda, six; and Alfred, our pretty, gentle boy, not yet five.
Poor child! he was the darling and the plaything of all the crew."
She wept bitterly for a few moments, and then resumed her narration.
"He was as fair as your own Francis, and greatly resembled him. We
proceeded first to Bourdeaux, where my husband had a correspondent, with
whom he had large dealings; by his means my husband was enabled to raise
large sums for his new undertaking. We carried with us, in fact, nearly
his whole fortune. We re-embarked under the most favourable
auspices--the weather delightful, and the wind fair; but we very soon
had a change; we were met by a terrible storm and hurricane, such as the
sailors had never witnessed. For a week our ship was tossed about by
contrary winds, driven into unknown seas, lost all its rigging, and was
at last so broken, that the water poured in on all sides. All was lost,
apparently; but, in this extremity, my husband made a last attempt to
save us. He tied my daughters and myself firmly to a plank, taking the
charge of my boy himself, as he feared the additional weight would be
too much for our raft. His intention was to tie himself to another
plank, to fasten this to ours, and, taking his son in his arms, to give
us a chance of being carried to the shore, which did not appear far off.
Whilst he was occupied in placing us, he gave Alfred to the care of a
sailor who was particularly attached to him. I heard the man say, 'Leave
him with me, I will take care to save him.' On this, M. Hirtel insisted
on his restoring him, and I cried out that he should be given to me. At
that moment the ship, which was already fallen on its side, filled
rapidly with water, plunged, and disappeared with all on board. The
plank on which I and my daughters were fixed alone floated, and I saw
nothing but death and desolation round me."
Madame Hirtel paused, almost suffocated by the remembrance of that awful
"Poor woman!" said my wife, weeping, "it is five years since this
misfortune. It was at the same time as our shipwreck, and was doubtless
caused by the same storm. But how much more fortunate was I! I lost none
that were dear to me, and we even had the vessel left for our use. But,
my dear, unfortunate friend, by what miracle were you saved?"
"It was He who only can work miracles," said the missionary, "who cares
for the widow and the orphan, and without whose word not a hair of the
head can perish, who at that moment gave courage to the
"My strength," continued she, "was nearly exhausted, when, after being
tossed about by the furious waves, I found myself thrown upon what I
supposed to be a sand-bank with my two children. I envied the state of
my husband and son. If I had not been a mother, I should have wished to
have followed them; but my two girls lay senseless at my side, and I was
anxious, as I perceived they still breathed, to recover them. At the
moment M. Hirtel pushed the raft into the water, he threw upon it a box
bound with iron, which I grasped mechanically, and still held, when we
were left on shore. It was not locked, yet it was with some difficulty,
in my confined position, that I succeeded in opening it. It contained a
quantity of gold and bank-notes, which I looked upon with contempt, and
regret. But there was something useful in the box. In the morocco
portfolio which contained the bank-notes, there were the usual little
instruments--a knife, scissors, pencils, stiletto, and also a small
bottle of Eau de Cologne, which was particularly serviceable in
restoring my children. I began by cutting the cords that tied us. I then
rubbed my dear children with the Eau de Cologne, made them inhale it,
and even swallow a little. The wind was still blowing, but the clouds
began to break, and the sun appeared, which dried and warmed us. My poor
children opened their eyes, and knew me, and I felt I was not utterly
comfortless; but their first words were to ask for their father and
brother. I could not tell them they were no more. I tried to deceive
myself, to support my strength, by a feeble and delusive hope. M. Hirtel
swam well, the sailor still better; and the last words I had heard still
rung in my ears--'Do not be uneasy, I will save the child.' If I saw
anything floating at a distance, my heart began to beat, and I ran
towards the water; but I saw it was only wreck, which I could not even
reach. Some pieces were, however, thrown on shore, and with these and
our own raft I was enabled to make a sort of shelter, by resting them
against a rock. My poor children, by crouching under this, sheltered
themselves from the rain, or from the rays of the sun. I had the good
fortune to preserve a large beaver hat, which I wore at the time, and
this protected me; but these resources gave me little consolation; my
children were complaining of hunger, and I felt only how much we were in
want of. I had seen a shell-fish on the shore, resembling the oyster,
or muscle. I collected some, and, opening them with my knife, we made a
repast on them, which sufficed for the first day. Night came--my
children offered up their evening prayer, and I earnestly besought the
succour of the Almighty. I then lay down beside my babes on our raft, as
conveniently as we could, and they soon slept. The fearful thoughts of
the past, and dreadful anticipations of the future, prevented me from
sleeping. My situation was indeed melancholy; but I felt, as a mother, I
ought not to wish for death.
"As soon as day broke, I went close to the shore, to seek some
shell-fish for our breakfast. In crossing the sand, I nearly plunged my
foot into a hole, and fancied I heard a crash. I stooped, and putting my
hand into the opening, found it was full of eggs; I had broken two or
three, which I tasted, and thought very good. From the colour, form, and
taste, I knew them to be turtle's eggs; there were at least sixty, so I
had no more care about food. I carried away in my apron as many as I