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

Part 4 out of 7

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active, healthy, and innocent life, and live _with us_, which they might
not do in the world. For four years we have been happy here, and what
shall we find in Europe to compensate us for what we leave
here?--poverty, war, and none of those things which we have here

"But we should find grandmamma," said little Francis; and stopped,
recollecting my prohibition.

He had, however, said sufficient to bring tears to his mother's eyes.

"You are right, my darling," said she, "that is my sole regret; but my
dear parent was aged and infirm, in all probability I should no longer
find her in this world; and if removed to Heaven, she watches over us in
this island, as well as if we were in Europe."

After my dear wife had subdued the agitation this remembrance caused
her, I pursued the conversation as follows:--

* * * * *


"I see, my dear wife," said I, "that you, as well as the rest of my
family, are contented to remain on this island, where it seems it is the
will of God for us to dwell, as it is improbable that in such a tempest
Captain Johnson would risk approaching the island, if indeed it has not
been already fatal to him. I am impatient to learn if Fritz has any
tidings of him; for it was on the shore near Tent House that he and Jack
passed the night."

"Well done, my good and courageous boys!" said their mother; "they might
at any rate have given assistance to them if wrecked."

"You are more courageous than I am, my dear Elizabeth," answered I; "I
have passed the whole night mourning for my children, and you think only
of the good they might have done to their fellow-creatures."

My sons were awake by this time, and I eagerly inquired if they had
discovered any traces of the vessel. Fritz said they had not; but he
feared it would never be able to resist the fury of the tempest.

"No, indeed," said Jack; "those mountains of waves, which were not
fixtures like other mountains, came full gallop to swallow up Fritz the
great, Jack the little, and their fine canoe."

My wife nearly fainted when she heard they had ventured on that terrible
sea; and I reminded Fritz that I had forbidden him to do this.

"But you have often said to me, papa," said he, "do unto others as you
would they should do unto you; and what a happiness it would have been
to us, when our vessel was wrecked, if we had seen a canoe!"

"With two bold men coming to our assistance," said Jack;--"but go on
with your story, Fritz."

Fritz continued: "We proceeded first to the rocks, and, with some
difficulty, and not until Jack had shed some blood in the cause, we
secured the karata-leaves, with their ugly thorns at the end. When our
sack was full, we proceeded along the rocks towards Tent House. From
this height I tried to discover the ship, but the darkness obscured
everything. Once I thought I perceived at a great distance a fixed
light, which was neither a star nor the lightning, and which I lost
sight of occasionally. We had now arrived at the cascade, which, from
the noise, seemed much swollen by the rain--our great stones were quite
hidden by a boiling foam. I would have attempted to cross, if I had been
alone; but, with Jack on my shoulders, I was afraid of the risk. I
therefore prepared to follow the course of the river to Family Bridge.
The wet ground continually brought us on our knees, and with great
difficulty we reached the bridge. But judge of our consternation! the
river had risen so much that the planks were covered, and, as we
conceived, the whole was destroyed. I then told Jack to return to
Falcon's Nest with the karata-leaves, and I would swim across the river.
I returned about a hundred yards up the stream to find a wider and less
rapid part, and easily crossed. Judge of my surprise when I saw a human
figure approaching to meet me; I had no doubt it was the captain of the
vessel, and--"

"And it was Captain Jack, _sans peur et sans reproche_," said the bold
little fellow. "I was determined not to return home a poltroon who was
afraid of the water." When Fritz was gone, I tried the bridge, and soon
found there was not sufficient water over it to risk my being drowned. I
took off my boots, which might have made me slip, and my cloak, which
was too heavy, and, making a dart, I ran with all my strength across,
and reached the other side. I put on my boots, which I had in my hands,
and advanced to meet Fritz, who called out, as soon as he saw me, "Is it
you, captain?" I tried to say, "Yes, certainly," in a deep tone, but my
laughter betrayed me.

"To my great regret;" said Fritz, "I should truly have preferred meeting
Captain Johnson; but I fear he and his people are at the bottom of the
sea. After meeting with Jack, we proceeded to Tent House, where we
kindled a good fire, and dried ourselves a little. We then refreshed
ourselves with some wine which remained on the table where you had
entertained the captain, and proceeded to prepare a signal to inform the
vessel we were ready to receive them. We procured a thick bamboo cane
from the magazine; I fixed firmly to one end of it the large lantern of
the fish's bladder you gave us to take; I filled the lamp with oil, and
placed in it a thick cotton-wick, which, when lighted, was very
brilliant. Jack and I then placed it on the shore, at the entrance of
the bay. We fixed it before the rock, where the land-wind would not
reach it, sunk it three or four feet into the ground, steadied it with
stones, and then went to rest over our fire, after this long and
difficult labour. After drying ourselves a little, we set out on our
return, when, looking towards the sea, we were startled by the
appearance of the same light we had noticed before; we heard, at the
same time, the distant report of a gun, which was repeated three or four
times at irregular intervals. We were persuaded that it was the vessel
calling to us for aid, and, remembering the command of our Saviour, we
thought you would forgive our disobedience if we presented to you in the
morning the captain, the lieutenant, and as many as our canoe would
contain. We entered it then without any fear, for you know how light and
well-balanced it is; and, rowing into the bay, the sail was spread to
the wind, and we had no more trouble. I then took the helm; my own
signal-light shone clearly on the shore; and, _except_ for the rain
which fell in torrents, the waves which washed over our canoe, and
uneasiness about the ship and about you, and our fear that the wind
might carry us into the open sea, we should have had a delightful
little maritime excursion. When we got out of the bay, I perceived the
wind was driving us towards Shark's Island, which, being directly before
the bay, forms two entrances to it. I intended to go round it, and
disembark there, if possible, that I might look out for some trace of
the ship, but we found this impossible; the sea ran too high; besides,
we should have been unable to moor our canoe, the island not affording a
single tree or anything we could lash it to, and the waves would soon
have carried it away. We had now lost sight of the light, and hearing no
more signals, I began to think on your distress when we did not arrive
at the hour we promised. I therefore resolved to return by the other
side of the bay, carefully avoiding the current, which would have
carried us into the open sea. I lowered the sail by means of the ropes
you had fixed to it, and we rowed into port. We carefully moored the
canoe, and, without returning to Tent House, took the road home. We
crossed the bridge as Jack had done, found the waterproof cloak and bag
of karata-leaves where he had left them, and soon after met Ernest. As
it was daylight, I did not take him for the captain, but knew him
immediately, and felt the deepest remorse when I heard from him in what
anxiety and anguish you had passed the night. Our enterprise was
imprudent, and altogether useless; but we might have saved life, which
would have been an ample remuneration. I fear all is hopeless. What do
you think, father, of their fate?"

"I hope they are far from this dangerous coast," said I; "but if still
in our neighbourhood, we will do all we can to assist them. As soon as
the tempest is subsided, we will take the pinnace and sail round the
island. You have long urged me to this, Fritz; and who knows but on the
opposite side we may find some traces of our own poor sailors,--perhaps
even meet with them?"

The weather gradually clearing, I called my sons to go out with me. My
wife earnestly besought me not to venture on the sea; I assured her it
was not sufficiently calm, but we must examine our plantations, to
ascertain what damage was done, and at the same time we might look out
for some traces of the wreck; besides, our animals were becoming
clamorous for food; therefore, leaving Ernest with her, we descended to
administer in the first place to their wants.

* * * * *


Our animals were impatiently expecting us; they had been neglected
during the storm, and were ill-supplied with food, besides being
half-sunk in water. The ducks and the flamingo liked it well enough, and
were swimming comfortably in the muddy water; but the quadrupeds were
complaining aloud, each in his own proper language, and making a
frightful confusion of sounds. _Valiant_, especially,--the name Francis
had bestowed on the calf I had given him to bring up,--bleated
incessantly for his young master, and could not be quieted till he came.
It is wonderful how this child, only twelve years old, had tamed and
attached this animal; though sometimes so fierce, with him he was mild
as a lamb. The boy rode on his back, guiding him with a little stick,
with which he just touched the side of his neck as he wished him to
move; but if his brothers had ventured to mount, they would have been
certainly thrown off. A pretty sight was our cavalry: Fritz on his
handsome onagra, Jack on his huge buffalo, and Francis on his young
bull. There was nothing left for Ernest but the donkey, and its slow and
peaceful habits suited him very well.

Francis ran up to his favourite, who showed his delight at seeing him as
well as he was able, and at the first summons followed his master from
the stable. Fritz brought out _Lightfoot_ Jack his buffalo, and I
followed with the cow and the ass. We left them to sport about at
liberty on the humid earth, till we removed the water from their stable,
and supplied them with fresh food. We then drove them in, considering it
advisable to pursue our expedition on foot, lest the bridge should still
be overflowed. Francis was the superintendent of the fowls, and knew
every little chicken by name; he called them out and scattered their
food for them, and soon had his beautiful and noisy family fluttering
round him.

After having made all our animals comfortable, and given them their
breakfast, we began to think of our own. Francis made a fire and warmed
some chicken broth for his mother; for ourselves, we were contented with
some new milk, some salt herrings, and cold potatoes. I had often
searched in my excursions for the precious _bread-fruit_ tree, so highly
spoken of by modern travellers, which I had hoped might be found in our
island, from its favourable situation; but I had hitherto been
unsuccessful. We were unable to procure the blessing of _bread_, our
ship biscuit had long been exhausted, and though we had sown our
European corn, we had not yet reaped any.

After we had together knelt down to thank God for his merciful
protection through the terrors of the past night, and besought him to
continue it, we prepared to set out. The waves still ran high, though
the wind had subsided, and we determined merely to go along the shore,
as the roads still continued impassable from the rain, and the sand was
easier to walk on than the wet grass; besides, our principal motive for
the excursion was to search for any traces of a recent shipwreck. At
first we could discover nothing, even with the telescope; but Fritz,
mounting a high rock, fancied he discovered something floating towards
the island. He besought me to allow him to take the canoe, which was
still where he left it the preceding night. As the bridge was now easy
to cross, I consented, only insisting on accompanying him to assist in
managing it. Jack, who was much afraid of being left behind, was the
first to leap in and seize an oar. There was, however, no need of it; I
steered my little boat into the current, and we were carried away with
such velocity as almost to take our breath. Fritz was at the helm, and
appeared to have no fear; I will not say that his father was so
tranquil. I held Jack, for fear of accidents, but he only laughed, and
observed to his brother that the canoe galloped better than Lightfoot.
We were soon in the open sea, and directed our canoe towards the object
we had remarked, and which we still had in sight. We were afraid it was
the boat upset, but it proved to be a tolerably large cask, which had
probably been thrown overboard to lighten the distressed vessel; we saw
several others, but neither mast nor plank to give us any idea that the
vessel and boat had perished. Fritz wished much to have made the circuit
of the island, to assure ourselves of this, but I would not hear of it;
I thought of my wife's terror; besides, the sea was still too rough for
our frail bark, and we had, moreover, no provisions. If my canoe had not
been well built, it would have run great risk of being overset by the
waves, which broke over it. Jack, when he saw one coming, lay down on
his face, saying he preferred having them on his back rather than in his
mouth; he jumped up as soon as it passed, to help to empty the canoe,
till another wave came to fill it again; but, thanks to my out-riggers,
we preserved our balance very well, and I consented to go as far as
_Cape Disappointment_, which merited the name a second time, for we
found no trace here of the vessel, though we mounted the hill, and thus
commanded a wide extent of view. As we looked round the country, it
appeared completely devastated: trees torn up by the roots, plantations
levelled with the ground, water collected into absolute lakes,--all
announced desolation; and the tempest seemed to be renewing. The sky was
darkened, the wind arose, and was unfavourable for our return; nor could
I venture the canoe on the waves, every instant becoming more
formidable. We moored our bark to a large palm-tree we found at the foot
of the hill, near the shore, and set out by land to our home. We crossed
the Gourd Wood and the Wood of Monkeys, and arrived at our farm, which
we found, to our great satisfaction, had not suffered much from the
storm. The food we had left in the stables was nearly consumed; from
which we concluded that the animals we had left here had sheltered
themselves during the storm. We refilled the mangers with the hay we had
preserved in the loft, and observing the sky getting more and more
threatening, we set out without delay for our house, from which we were
yet a considerable distance. To avoid _Flamingo Marsh_, which was
towards the sea, and _Rice Marsh_, towards the rock, we determined to go
through _Cotton Wood_, which would save us from the wind, which was
ready to blow us off our feet. I was still uneasy about the ship, which
the lieutenant had told me was out of repair; but I indulged a hope that
they might have taken refuge in some bay, or found anchorage on some
hospitable shore, where they might get their vessel into order.

Jack was alarmed lest they should fall into the hands of the
_anthropophagi_, who eat men like hares or sheep, of whom he had read in
some book of travels, and excited the ridicule of his brother, who was
astonished at his ready belief of travellers' tales, which he asserted
were usually false.

"But Robinson Crusoe would not tell a falsehood," said Jack,
indignantly; "and there were cannibals came to his island, and were
going to eat Friday, if he had not saved him."

"Oh! Robinson could not tell a falsehood," said Fritz, "because he never
existed. The whole history is a romance--is not that the name, father,
that is given to works of the imagination?"

"It is," said I; "but we must not call Robinson Crusoe a romance; though
Robinson himself, and all the circumstances of his history are probably
fictitious, the details are all founded on truth--on the adventures and
descriptions of voyagers who may be depended on, and unfortunate
individuals who have actually been wrecked on unknown shores. If ever
our journal should be printed, many may believe that it is only a
romance--a mere work of the imagination."

My boys hoped we should not have to introduce any savages into our
romance, and were astonished that an island so beautiful had not tempted
any to inhabit it; in fact, I had often been myself surprised at this
circumstance; but I told them many voyagers had noticed islands
apparently fertile, and yet uninhabited; besides, the chain of rocks
which surrounded this might prevent the approach of savages, unless they
had discovered the little _Bay of Safety_ where we had landed. Fritz
said he anxiously desired to circumnavigate the island, in order to
ascertain the size of it, and if there were similar chains of rocks on
the opposite side. I promised him, as soon as the stormy weather was
past, and his mother well enough to remove to Tent House, we would take
our pinnace, and set out on our little voyage.

We now approached the marsh, and he begged me to let him go and cut some
canes, as he projected making a sort of carriage for his mother. As we
were collecting them, he explained his scheme to me. He wished to weave
of these reeds, which were very strong, a large and long sort of
pannier, in which his mother might sit or recline, and which might be
suspended between two strong bamboo-canes by handles of rope. He then
purposed to yoke two of our most gentle animals, the cow and the ass,
the one before and the other behind, between these shafts, the leader to
be mounted by one of the children as director; the other would follow
naturally, and the good mother would thus be carried, as if in a litter,
without any danger of jolting. I was pleased with this idea, and we all
set to work to load ourselves each with a huge burden of reeds. They
requested me not to tell my wife, that they might give her an agreeable
surprise. It needed such affection as ours to induce us to the
undertaking in such unpropitious weather. It rained in torrents, and the
marsh was so soft and wet, that we were in danger of sinking at every
step. However, I could not be less courageous than my sons, whom nothing
daunted, and we soon made up our bundles, and, placing them on our
heads, they formed a sort of umbrella, which was not without its
benefits. We soon arrived at Falcon's Nest. Before we reached the tree,
I saw a fire shine to such a distance, that I was alarmed; but soon
found it was only meant for our benefit by our kind friends at home.
When my wife saw the rain falling, she had instructed her little
assistant to make a fire in our usual cooking-place, at a little
distance from the tree, and protected by a canopy of waterproof cloth
from the rain. The young cook had not only kept up a good fire to dry us
on our return, but had taken the opportunity of roasting two dozen of
those excellent little birds which his mother had preserved in butter,
and which, all ranged on the old sword which served us for a spit, were
just ready on our arrival, and the fire and feast were equally grateful
to the hungry, exhausted, and wet travellers, who sat down to
enjoy them.

However, before we sat down to our repast, we went up to see our
invalids, whom we found tolerably well, though anxious for our return.
Ernest, with his sound hand, and the assistance of Francis, had
succeeded in forming a sort of _rampart_ before the opening into the
room, composed of the four hammocks in which he and his brothers slept,
placed side by side, on end. This sufficiently protected them from the
rain, but excluded the light, so that they had been obliged to light a
candle, and Ernest had been reading to his mother in a book of voyages
that had formed part of the captain's small library. It was a singular
coincidence, that while we were talking of the savages on the way home,
they were also reading of them; and I found my dear wife much agitated
by the fears these accounts had awakened in her mind. After soothing her
terrors, I returned to the fire to dry myself, and to enjoy my repast.
Besides the birds, Francis had prepared fresh eggs and potatoes for us.
He told me that his mamma had given up her office of cook to him, and
assured me that he would perform the duties to our satisfaction,
provided he was furnished with materials. Fritz was to hunt, Jack to
fish, I was to order dinner, and he would make it ready. "And when we
have neither game nor fish," said Jack, "we will attack your
poultry-yard." This was not at all to the taste of poor little Francis,
who could not bear his favourites to be killed, and who had actually
wept over the chicken that was _slaughtered_ to make broth for his
mother. We were obliged to promise him that, when other resources
failed, we would apply to our barrels of salt-fish. He, however, gave us
leave to dispose as we liked of the ducks and geese, which were too
noisy for him.

After we had concluded our repast, we carried a part of it to our
friends above, and proceeded to give them an account of our expedition.
I then secured the hammocks somewhat more firmly, to save us from the
storm that was still raging, and the hour of rest being at hand, my sons
established themselves on mattresses of cotton, made by their kind
mother, and in spite of the roaring of the winds, we were soon in
profound repose.

* * * * *


The storm continued to rage the whole of the following day, and even the
day after, with the same violence. Happily our tree stood firm, though
several branches were broken; amongst others, that to which Francis's
wire was suspended. I replaced it with more care, carried it beyond our
roof, and fixed at the extremity the pointed instrument which had
attracted the lightning. I then substituted for the hammocks before the
window, strong planks, which remained from my building, and which my
sons assisted me to raise with pulleys, after having sawed them to the
proper length. Through these I made loop-holes, to admit the light and
air. In order to carry off the rain, I fixed a sort of spout, made of
the wood of a tree I had met with, which was unknown to me, though
apparently somewhat like the elder. The whole of the tree, almost to
the bark, was filled up with a sort of pith, easily removed. From this
tree I made the pipes for our fountain, and the remainder was now useful
for these rain-spouts. I employed those days in which I could not go
out, in separating the seeds and grain, of which I saw we should have
need, and in mending our work-tools; my sons, in the mean time, nestled
under the tree among the roots, were incessantly employed in the
construction of the carriage for their mother. The karatas had nearly
completed the cure of Ernest's hand, and he was able to assist his
brothers preparing the canes, which Fritz and Jack wove between the flat
wooden wands, with which they had made the frame of their pannier; they
succeeded in making it so strong and close, that they might have carried
liquids in it. My dear wife's foot and leg were gradually improving; and
I took the opportunity of her confinement, to reason with her on her
false notion of the dangers of the sea, and to represent to her the
gloomy prospect of our sons, if they were left alone in the island. She
agreed with me, but could not resolve to leave it; she hoped God would
send some vessel to us, which might leave us some society; and after
all, if our sons were left, she pointed out to me, that they had our
beautiful pinnace, and might at any time, of their own accord, leave
the island.

"And why should we anticipate the evils of futurity, my dear friend?"
said she. "Let us think only of the present. I am anxious now to know if
the storm has spared my fine kitchen-garden."

"You must wait a little," said I. "I am as uneasy as you, for my
maize-plantations, my sugar-canes, and my corn-fields."

At last, one night, the storm ceased, the clouds passed away, and the
moon showed herself in all her glory. How delighted we were! My wife got
me to remove the large planks I had placed before the opening, and the
bright moonbeams streamed through the branches of the tree into our
room; a gentle breeze refreshed us, and so delighted were we in gazing
on that sky of promise, that we could scarcely bear to go to bed, but
spent half the night in projects for the morrow; the good mother alone
said, that she could not join in our excursions. Jack and Francis smiled
at each other, as they thought of their litter, which was now
nearly finished.

A bright sun awoke us early next morning. Fritz and Jack had requested
me to allow them to finish their carriage; so, leaving Ernest with his
mother, I took Francis with me to ascertain the damage done to the
garden at Tent House, about which his mother was so anxious. We easily
crossed the bridge, but the water had carried away some of the planks;
however, my little boy leaped from one plank to another with great
agility, though the distance was sometimes considerable. He was so proud
of being my sole companion, that he scarcely touched the ground as he
ran on before me; but he had a sad shock when he got to the garden; of
which we could not find the slightest trace. All was destroyed; the
walks, the fine vegetable-beds, the plantations of pines and melons--all
had vanished. Francis stood like a marble statue, as pale and still;
till, bursting into tears, he recovered himself.

"Oh! my good mamma," said he; "what will she say when she hears of this
misfortune? But she need not know it, papa," added he, after a pause;
"it would distress her too much; and if you and my brothers will help
me, we will repair the damage before she can walk. The plants may not be
so large; but the earth is moist, and they will grow quickly, and I will
work hard to get it into order."

I embraced my dear boy, and promised him this should be our first work.
I feared we should have many other disasters to repair; but a child of
twelve years old gave me an example of resignation and courage. We
agreed to come next day to begin our labour, for the garden was too well
situated for me to abandon it. It was on a gentle declivity, at the foot
of the rocks, which sheltered it from the north wind, and was
conveniently watered from the cascade. I resolved to add a sort of bank,
or terrace, to protect it from the violent rains; and Francis was so
pleased with the idea, that he began to gather the large stones which
were scattered over the garden, and to carry them to the place where I
wished to build my terrace. He would have worked all day, if I would
have allowed him; but I wanted to look after my young plantations, my
sugar-canes, and my fields, and, after the destruction I had just
witnessed, I had everything to fear. I proceeded to the avenue of
fruit-trees that led to Tent House, and was agreeably surprised. All
were half-bowed to the ground, as well as the bamboos that supported
them, but few were torn up; and I saw that my sons and I, with the
labour of two or three days, could restore them. Some of them had
already begun to bear fruit, but all was destroyed for this year. This
was, however, a trifling loss, compared with what I had anticipated;
for, having no more plants of European fruits, I could not have replaced
them. Besides, having resolved to inhabit Tent House at present,
entirely,--being there defended from storms,--it was absolutely
necessary to contrive some protection from the heat. My new plantations
afforded little shade yet, and I trembled to propose to my wife to come
and inhabit these burning rocks. Francis was gathering some of the
beautiful unknown flowers of the island for his mother, and when he had
formed his nosegay, bringing it to me,--

"See, papa," said he, "how the rain has refreshed these flowers. I wish
it would rain still, it is so dreadfully hot here. Oh! if we had but a
little shade."

"That is just what I was thinking of, my dear," said I; "we shall have
shade enough when my trees are grown; but, in the mean time--"

"In the mean time, papa," said Francis, "I will tell you what you must
do. You must make a very long, broad colonnade before our house, covered
with cloth, and open before, so that mamma may have air and shade
at once."

I was pleased with my son's idea, and promised him to construct a
gallery soon, and call it the _Franciade_ in honour of him. My little
boy was delighted that his suggestion should be thus approved, and
begged me not to tell his mamma, as he wished to surprise her, as much
as his brothers did with their carriage; and he hoped the _Franciade_
might be finished before she visited Tent House. I assured him I would
be silent; and we took the road hence, talking about our new colonnade.
I projected making it in the most simple and easy way. A row of strong
bamboo-canes planted at equal distances along the front of our house,
and united by a plank of wood at the top cut into arches between the
canes; others I would place sloping from the rock, to which I would
fasten them by iron cramps; these were to be covered with sailcloth,
prepared with the elastic gum, and well secured to the plank. This
building would not take much time, and I anticipated the pleasure of my
wife when she found out that it was an invention of her little
favourite, who, of a mild and reflecting disposition, was beloved by us
all. As we walked along, we saw something approaching, that Francis soon
discovered to be his brothers, with their new carriage; and, concluding
that his mamma occupied it, he hastened to meet them, lest they should
proceed to the garden. But on our approach, we discovered that Ernest
was in the litter, which was borne by the cow before, on which Fritz was
mounted, and by the ass behind, with Jack on it. Ernest declared the
conveyance was so easy and delightful that he should often take his
mother's place.

"I like that very much," said Jack; "then I will take care that we will
harness the onagra and the buffalo for you, and they will give you a
pretty jolting, I promise you. The cow and ass are only for mamma. Look,
papa, is it not complete? We wished to try it as soon as we finished
it, so we got Ernest to occupy it, while mother was asleep."

Ernest declared it only wanted two cushions, one to sit upon, the other
to recline against, to make it perfect; and though I could not help
smiling at his love of ease, I encouraged the notion, in order to delay
my wife's excursion till our plans were completed. I then put Francis
into the carriage beside his brother; and ordering Fritz and Jack to
proceed with their equipage to inspect our corn-fields, I returned to my
wife, who was still sleeping. On her awaking, I told her the garden and
plantations would require a few days' labour to set them in order, and I
should leave Ernest, who was not yet in condition to be a labourer, to
nurse her and read to her. My sons returned in the evening, and gave me
a melancholy account of our corn-fields; the corn was completely
destroyed, and we regretted this the more, as we had very little left
for seed. We had anticipated a feast of _real bread_, but we were
obliged to give up all hope for this year, and to content ourselves with
our cakes of cassava, and with potatoes. The maize had suffered less,
and might have been a resource for us, but the large, hard grain was so
very difficult to reduce to flour fine enough for dough. Fritz often
recurred to the necessity of building a mill near the cascade at Tent
House; but this was not the work of a moment, and we had time to
consider of it; for at present we had no corn to grind. As I found
Francis had let his brothers into all our secrets, it was agreed that I,
with Fritz, Jack, and Francis, should proceed to Tent House next
morning. Francis desired to be of the party, that he might direct the
laying out of the garden, he said, with an important air, as he had been
his mother's assistant on its formation. We arranged our bag of
vegetable-seeds, and having bathed my wife's foot with a simple
embrocation, we offered our united prayers, and retired to our beds to
prepare ourselves for the toils of the next day.

* * * * *


We rose early; and, after our usual morning duties, we left our invalids
for the whole day, taking with us, for our dinner, a goose and some
potatoes, made ready the evening before. We harnessed the bull and the
buffalo to the cart, and I sent Fritz and Jack to the wood of bamboos,
with orders to load the cart with as many as it would contain; and,
especially, to select some very thick ones for my colonnade; the rest I
intended for props for my young trees; and this I proposed to be my
first undertaking. Francis would have preferred beginning with the
_Franciade_, or the garden, but he was finally won over by the thoughts
of the delicious fruits, which we might lose by our neglect; the
peaches, plums, pears, and, above all, the cherries, of which he was
very fond. He then consented to assist me in holding the trees whilst I
replaced the roots; after which he went to cut the reeds to tie them.
Suddenly I heard him cry, "Papa, papa, here is a large chest come for
us; come and take it." I ran to him, and saw it was the very chest we
had seen floating, and which we had taken for the boat at a distance;
the waves had left it in our bay, entangled in the reeds, which grew
abundantly here. It was almost buried in the sand. We could not remove
it alone, and, notwithstanding our curiosity, we were compelled to wait
for the arrival of my sons. We returned to our work, and it was pretty
well advanced when the tired and hungry party returned with their
cart-load of bamboos. We rested, and sat down to eat our goose. Guavas
and sweet acorns, which had escaped the storm, and which my sons
brought, completed our repast. Fritz had killed a large bird in the
marsh, which I took at first for a young flamingo; but it was a young
cassowary, the first I had seen in the island. This bird is remarkable
for its extraordinary size, and for its plumage, so short and fine that
it seems rather to be hair than feathers. I should have liked to have
had it alive to ornament our poultry-yard, and it was so young we might
have tamed it; but Fritz's unerring aim had killed it at once. I wished
to let my wife see this rare bird, which, if standing on its webbed
feet, would have been four feet high; I therefore forbade them to
meddle with it.

[Illustration: "Fritz, with a strong hatchet forced the chest open, and
we all eagerly crowded to see the contents."]

As we ate, we talked of the chest, and our curiosity being stronger than
our hunger, we swallowed our repast hastily, and then ran down to the
shore. We were obliged to plunge into the water up to the waist, and
then had some difficulty to extricate it from the weed and slime, and to
push it on shore. No sooner had we placed it in safety than Fritz, with
a strong hatchet, forced it open, and we all eagerly crowded to see the
contents. Fritz hoped it would be powder and fire-arms; Jack, who was
somewhat fond of dress, and had notions of elegance, declared in favour
of clothes, and particularly of linen, finer and whiter than that which
his mother wove; if Ernest had been there, books would have been his
desire; for my own part, there was nothing I was more anxious for than
European seeds, particularly corn; Francis had a lingering wish that the
chest might contain some of those gingerbread cakes which his grandmamma
used to treat him with in Europe, and which he had often regretted; but
he kept this wish to himself, for fear his brothers should call him
"little glutton," and assured us that he should like a little
pocket-knife, with a small saw, better than anything in the world; and
he was the only one who had his wish. The chest was opened, and we saw
that it was filled with a number of trifling things likely to tempt
savage nations, and to become the means of exchange,--principally glass
and iron ware, coloured beads, pins, needles, looking-glasses,
children's toys, constructed as models, such as carts, and tools of
every sort; amongst which we found some likely to be useful, such as
hatchets, saws, planes, gimlets, &c.; besides a collection of knives, of
which Francis had the choice; and scissors, which were reserved for
mamma, her own being nearly worn out. I had, moreover, the pleasure of
finding a quantity of nails of every size and kind, besides iron hooks,
staples, &c, which I needed greatly. After we had examined the contents,
and selected what we wanted immediately, we closed up the chest, and
conveyed it to our magazine at Tent House. We had spent so much time in
our examination, that we had some difficulty to finish propping our
trees, and to arrive at home before it was dark. We found my wife
somewhat uneasy at our lengthened absence, but our appearance soon
calmed her. "Mother," said I, "I have brought back all your chickens to
crowd under your wing."

"And we have not come back empty-handed," said Jack. "Look, mamma; here
are a beautiful pair of scissors, a large paper of needles, another of
pins, and a thimble! How rich you are now! And when you get well, you
can make me a pretty waistcoat and a pair of trousers, for I am in great
want of them."

"And I, mamma," said Francis, "have brought you a mirror, that you may
arrange your cap; you have often been sorry papa did not remember to
bring one from the ship. This was intended for the savages, and I will
begin with you."

"I believe I rather resemble one now," said my good Elizabeth, arranging
the red and yellow silk handkerchief which she usually wore on her head.

"Only, mamma," said Jack, "when you wear the comical pointed bonnet
which Ernest made you."

"What matters it," said she, "whether it be pointed or round? It will
protect me from the sun, and it is the work of my Ernest, to whom I am
much obliged."

Ernest, with great ingenuity and patience, had endeavoured to plait his
mother a bonnet of the rice-straw; he had succeeded; but not knowing how
to form the round crown, he was obliged to finish it in a point, to the
great and incessant diversion of his brothers.

"Mother," said Ernest, in his usual grave and thoughtful tone, "I
should not like you to look like a savage; therefore, as soon as I
regain the use of my hand, my first work shall be to make you a bonnet,
which I will take care shall be formed with a round crown, as you will
lend me one of your large needles, and I will take, to sew the crown on,
the head of either Jack or Francis."

"What do you mean? My head!" said they both together.

"Oh, I don't mean to take it off your shoulders," said he; "it will only
be necessary that one of you should kneel down before me, for a day
perhaps, while I use your head as a model; and you need not cry out much
if I should chance to push my needle in."

This time the philosopher had the laugh on his side, and his tormentors
were silenced.

We now explained to my wife where we had found the presents we had
brought her. My offerings to her were a light axe, which she could use
to cut her fire-wood with, and an iron kettle, smaller and more
convenient than the one she had. Fritz had retired, and now came in
dragging with difficulty his huge cassowary. "Here, mamma," said he, "I
have brought you a little chicken for your dinner;" and the astonishment
and laughter again commenced. The rest of the evening was spent in
plucking the bird, to prepare part of it for next day. We then retired
to rest, that we might begin our labour early next morning. Ernest chose
to remain with his books and his mother, for whom he formed with the
mattresses a sort of reclining chair, in which she was able to sit up in
bed and sew. Thus she endured a confinement of six weeks, without
complaint, and in that time got all our clothes put into good order.
Francis had nearly betrayed our secret once, by asking his mamma to make
him a mason's apron. "A mason's apron!" said she; "are you going to
build a house, child?"

"I meant to say a gardener's apron," said he.

His mamma was satisfied, and promised to comply with his request.

In the mean time, my three sons and I laboured assiduously to get the
garden into order again, and to raise the terraces, which we hoped might
be a defence against future storms. Fritz had also proposed to me to
construct a stone conduit, to bring the water to our kitchen-garden from
the river, to which we might carry it back, after it had passed round
our vegetable-beds. This was a formidable task, but too useful an affair
to be neglected; and, aided by the geometrical skill of Fritz, and the
ready hands of my two younger boys, the conduit was completed. I took an
opportunity, at the same time, to dig a pond above the garden, into
which the conduit poured the water; this was always warm with the sun,
and, by means of a sluice, we were able to disperse it in little
channels to water the garden. The pond would also be useful to preserve
small fish and crabs for use. We next proceeded to our embankment. This
was intended to protect the garden from any extraordinary overflow of
the river, and from the water running from the rocks after heavy rains.
We then laid out our garden on the same plan as before, except that I
made the walks wider, and not so flat; I carried one directly to our
house, which, in the autumn, I intended to plant with shrubs, that my
wife might have a shady avenue to approach her garden; where I also
planned an arbour, furnished with seats, as a resting-place for her. The
rocks were covered with numerous climbing plants, bearing every variety
of elegant flower, and I had only to make my selection.

All this work, with the enclosing the garden with palisades of bamboo,
occupied us about a fortnight, in which time our invalids made great
progress towards their recovery. After the whole was finished, Francis
entreated me to begin his gallery. My boys approved of my plan, and
Fritz declared that the house was certainly comfortable and commodious,
but that it would be wonderfully improved by a colonnade, with a little
pavilion at each end, and a fountain in each pavilion.

"I never heard a word of these pavilions," said I.

"No," said Jack, "they are our own invention. The colonnade will be
called the _Franciade_; and we wish our little pavilions to be named,
the one _Fritzia_, the other _Jackia_, if you please."

I agreed to this reasonable request, and only begged to know how they
would procure water for their fountains. Fritz undertook to bring the
water, if I would only assist them in completing this little scheme, to
give pleasure to their beloved mother. I was charmed to see the zeal and
anxiety of my children to oblige their tender mother. Her illness seemed
to have strengthened their attachment; they thought only how to console
and amuse her. She sometimes told me she really blessed the accident,
which had taught her how much she was valued by all around her.

* * * * *


The next day was Sunday,--our happy Sabbath for repose and quiet
conversation at home. After passing the day in our usual devotions and
sober reading, my three elder boys requested my permission to walk
towards our farm in the evening. On their return, they informed me it
would be necessary to give a few days' labour to our plantations of
maize and potatoes. I therefore determined to look to them.

Though I was out early next morning, I found Fritz and Jack had been
gone some time, leaving only the ass in the stables, which I secured for
my little Francis. I perceived, also, that they had dismounted my cart,
and carried away the wheels, from which I concluded that they had met
with some tree in their walk the preceding evening, suitable for the
pipes for their fountains, and that they had now returned to cut it
down, and convey it to Tent House. As I did not know where to meet with
them, I proceeded with Francis on the ass to commence his favourite
work. I drew my plan on the ground first. At the distance of twelve feet
from the rock which formed the front of our house, I marked a straight
line of fifty feet, which I divided into ten spaces of five feet each
for my colonnade; the two ends were to be reserved for the two pavilions
my sons wished to build. I was busy in my calculations, and Francis
placing stakes in the places where I wished to dig, when the cart drove
up with our two good labourers. They had, as I expected, found the
evening before a species of pine, well adapted for their pipes. They had
cut down four, of fifteen or twenty feet in length, which they had
brought on the wheels of the cart, drawn by the four animals. They had
had some difficulty in transporting them to the place; and the greatest
still remained--the boring the trunks, and then uniting them firmly. I
had neither augers nor any tools fit for the purpose. I had, certainly,
constructed a little fountain at Falcon's Nest; but the stream was near
at hand, and was easily conveyed by cane pipes to our tortoise-shell
basin. Here the distance was considerable, the ground unequal, and, to
have the water pure and cool, underground pipes were necessary. I
thought of large bamboos, but Fritz pointed out the knots, and the
difficulty of joining the pieces, and begged me to leave it to him, as
he had seen fountains made in Switzerland, and had no fears of success.
In the mean time, all hands set to work at the arcade. We selected
twelve bamboos of equal height and thickness, and fixed them securely in
the earth, at five feet from each other. These formed a pretty
colonnade, and were work enough for one day.

We took care to divert all inquiries at night, by discussing the
subjects which our invalids had been reading during the day. The little
library of our captain was very choice; besides the voyages and travels,
which interested them greatly, there was a good collection of
historians, and some of the best poets, for which Ernest had no little
taste. However, he requested earnestly that he might be of our party
next day, and Francis, good-naturedly, offered to stay with mamma,
expecting, no doubt, Ernest's congratulations on the forward state of
the Franciade. The next morning Ernest and I set out, his brothers
having preceded us. Poor Ernest regretted, as we went, that he had no
share in these happy schemes for his mother. I reminded him, however, of
his dutiful care of her during her sickness, and all his endeavours to
amuse her. "And, besides," added I, "did you not make her a
straw bonnet?"

"Yes," said he, "and I now remember what a frightful shape it was. I
will try to make a better, and will go to-morrow morning to choose
my straw."

As we approached Tent House, we heard a most singular noise, echoing at
intervals amongst the rocks. We soon discovered the cause; in a hollow
of the rocks I saw a very hot fire, which Jack was blowing through a
cane, whilst Fritz was turning amidst the embers a bar of iron. When it
was red hot, they laid it on an anvil I had brought from the ship, and
struck it alternately with hammers to bring it to a point.

"Well done, my young smiths," said I; "we ought to try all things, and
keep what is good. Do you expect to succeed in making your auger? I
suppose that is what you want."

"Yes, father," said Fritz; "we should succeed well enough if we only had
a good pair of bellows; you see we have already got a tolerable point."

Now Fritz could not believe anything was impossible. He had killed a
kangaroo the evening before, and skinned it. The flesh made us a dinner;
of the skin he determined to make a pair of bellows. He nailed it, with
the hair out, not having time to tan it, to two flat pieces of wood,
with holes in them; to this he added a reed for the pipe; he then fixed
it by means of a long cord and a post, to the side of his fire, and
Jack, with his hand or his foot, blew the fire, so that the iron was
speedily red hot, and quite malleable. I then showed them how to twist
the iron into a screw,--rather clumsy, but which would answer the
purpose tolerably well. At one end they formed a ring, in which we
placed a piece of wood transversely, to enable them to turn the screw.
We then made a trial of it. We placed a tree on two props, and Fritz and
I managed the auger so well, that we had our tree pierced through in a
very little time, working first at one end and then at the other. Jack,
in the mean time, collected the shavings we made, which he deposited in
the kitchen for his mother's use, to kindle the fire. Ernest, meanwhile,
was walking about, making observations, and giving his advice to his
brothers on the architecture of their pavilions, till, seeing they were
going to bore another tree, he retired into the garden to see the
embankment. He returned delighted with the improvements, and much
disposed to take some employment. He wanted to assist in boring the
tree, but we could not all work at it. I undertook this labour myself,
and sent him to blow the bellows, while his brothers laboured at the
forge, the work not being too hard for his lame hand. My young smiths
were engaged in flattening the iron to make joints to unite their pipes;
they succeeded very well, and then began to dig the ground to lay them.
Ernest, knowing something of geometry and land-surveying, was able to
give them some useful hints, which enabled them to complete their work
successfully. Leaving them to do this, I employed myself in covering in
my long colonnade. After I had placed on my columns a plank cut in
arches, which united them, and was firmly nailed to them, I extended
from it bamboos, placed sloping against the rock, and secured to it by
cramps of iron, the work of my young smiths. When my bamboo roof was
solidly fixed, the canes as close as possible, I filled the interstices
with a clay I found near the river, and poured gum over it; I had thus
an impervious and brilliant roof, which appeared to be varnished, and
striped green and brown. I then raised the floor a foot, in order that
there might be no damp, and paved it with the square stones I had
preserved when we cut the rock. It must be understood that all this was
the work of many days. I was assisted by Jack and Fritz, and by Ernest
and Francis alternately, one always remaining with his mother, who was
still unable to walk. Ernest employed his time, when at home, in making
the straw bonnet, without either borrowing his brother's head for a
model, or letting any of them know what he was doing. Nevertheless, he
assisted his brothers with their pavilions by his really valuable
knowledge. They formed them very elegantly,--something like a Chinese
pagoda. They were exactly square, supported on four columns, and rather
higher than the gallery. The roofs terminated in a point, and resembled
_a large parasol_. The fountains were in the middle; the basins,
breast-high, were formed of the shells of two turtles from our
reservoir, which were mercilessly sacrificed for the purpose, and
furnished our table abundantly for some days. They succeeded the
cassowary, which had supplied us very seasonably: its flesh tasted like
beef, and made excellent soup.

But to return to the fountains. Ernest suggested the idea of ornamenting
the end of the perpendicular pipe, which brought the water to the basin,
with shells; every sort might be collected on the shore, of the most
brilliant colours, and curious and varied shapes. He was passionately
devoted to natural history, and had made a collection of these,
endeavouring to classify them from the descriptions he met with in the
books of voyages and travels. Some of these, of the most dazzling
beauty, were placed round the pipe, which had been plastered with clay;
from thence the water was received into a _volute_, shaped like an
antique urn, and again was poured gracefully into the large
turtle-shell; a small channel conveyed it then out of the pavilions. The
whole was completed in less time than I could have imagined, and greatly
surpassed my expectations; conferring an inestimable advantage on our
dwelling, by securing us from the heat. All honour was rendered to
Master Francis, the inventor, and _The Franciade_ was written in large
letters on the middle arch; _Fritzia_ and _Jackia_ were written in the
same way over the pavilions. Ernest alone was not named; and he seemed
somewhat affected by it. He had acquired a great taste for rambling and
botanizing, and had communicated it also to Fritz, and now that our
labours were ended at Tent House, they left us to nurse our invalid, and
made long excursions together, which lasted sometimes whole days. As
they generally returned with some game, or some new fruit, we pardoned
their absence, and they were always welcome. Sometimes they brought a
kangaroo, sometimes an agouti, the flesh of which resembles that of a
rabbit, but is richer; sometimes they brought wild ducks, pigeons, and
even partridges. These were contributed by Fritz, who never went out
without his gun and his dogs. Ernest brought us natural curiosities,
which amused us much,--stones, crystals, petrifactions, insects,
butterflies of rare beauty, and flowers, whose colours and fragrance no
one in Europe can form an idea of. Sometimes he brought fruit, which we
always administered first to our monkey, as taster: some of them proved
very delicious. Two of his discoveries, especially, were most valuable
acquisitions,--the guajaraba, on the large leaf of which one may write
with a pointed instrument, and the fruit of which, a sort of grape, is
very good to eat; also the date-palm, every part of which is so useful,
that we were truly thankful to Heaven, and our dear boys, for the
discovery. Whilst young, the trunk contains a sort of _marrow_, very
delicious. The date-palm is crowned by a head, formed of from forty to
eighty leafy branches, which spread round the top. The dates are
particularly good about half-dried; and my wife immediately began to
preserve them. My sons could only bring the fruit now, but we purposed
to transplant some of the trees themselves near our abode. We did not
discourage our sons in these profitable expeditions; but they had
another aim, which I was yet ignorant of. In the mean time, I usually
walked with one of my younger sons towards Tent House, to attend to our
garden, and to see if our works continued in good condition to receive
mamma, who daily improved; but I insisted on her being completely
restored, before she was introduced to them. Our dwelling looked
beautiful amongst the picturesque rocks, surrounded by trees of every
sort, and facing the smooth and lovely Bay of Safety. The garden was not
so forward as I could have wished; but we were obliged to be patient,
and hope for the best.

* * * * *


One day, having gone over with my younger sons to weed the garden, and
survey our possessions, I perceived that the roof of the gallery wanted
a little repair, and called Jack to raise for me the rope ladder which I
had brought from Falcon's Nest, and which had been very useful while we
were constructing the roof; but we sought for it everywhere; it could
not be found; and as we were quite free from _robbers_ in our island, I
could only accuse my elder sons, who had doubtless carried it off to
ascend some tall cocoa-nut tree. Obliged to be content, we walked into
the garden by the foot of the rocks. Since our arrival, I had been
somewhat uneasy at hearing a dull, continued noise, which appeared to
proceed from this side. The forge we had passed, now extinguished, and
our workmen were absent. Passing along, close to the rocks, the noise
became more distinct, and I was truly alarmed. Could it be an
earthquake? Or perhaps it announced some volcanic explosion. I stopped
before that part of the rock where the noise was loudest; the surface
was firm and level; but from time to time, blows and falling stones
seemed to strike our ears. I was uncertain what to do; curiosity
prompted me to stay, but a sort of terror urged me to remove my child
and myself. However, Jack, always daring, was unwilling to go till he
had discovered the cause of the phenomenon. "If Francis were here," said
he, "he would fancy it was the wicked gnomes, working underground, and
he would be in a fine fright. For my part, I believe it is only people
come to collect the salt in the rock."

"People!" said I; "you don't know what you are saying, Jack; I could
excuse Francis and his _gnomes_,--it would be at least a poetic fancy,
but yours is quite absurd. Where are the people to come from?"

"But what else can it be?" said he. "Hark! you may hear them strike the

"Be certain, however," said I, "there are no people." At that moment, I
distinctly heard human voices, speaking, laughing, and apparently
clapping their hands. I could not distinguish any words; I was struck
with a mortal terror; but Jack, whom nothing could alarm, clapped his
hands also, with joy, that he had guessed right. "What did I say, papa?
Was I not right? Are there not people within the rock?--friends, I
hope." He was approaching the rock, when it appeared to me to be
shaking; a stone soon fell down, then another. I seized hold of Jack, to
drag him away, lest he should be crushed by the fragments of rock. At
that moment another stone fell, and we saw two heads appear through the
opening,--the heads of Fritz and Ernest. Judge of our surprise and joy!
Jack was soon through the opening, and assisting his brothers to
enlarge it. As soon as I could enter, I stepped in, and found myself in
a real grotto, of a round form, with a vaulted roof, divided by a narrow
crevice, which admitted the light and air. It was, however, better
lighted by two large gourd lamps. I saw my long ladder of ropes
suspended from the opening at the top, and thus comprehended how my sons
had penetrated into this recess, which it was impossible to suspect the
existence of from the outside. But how had they discovered it? and what
were they making of it? These were my two questions. Ernest replied at
once to the last. "I wished," said he, "to make a resting-place for my
mother, when she came to her garden. My brothers have each built some
place for her, and called it by their name. I had a desire that some
place in our island might be dedicated to Ernest, and I now present you
the _Grotto Ernestine_."

"And after all," said Jack, "it will make a pretty dwelling for the
first of us that marries."

"Silence, little giddy-pate," said I; "where do you expect to find a
wife in this island? Do you think you shall discover one among the
rocks, as your brothers have discovered the grotto? But tell me, Fritz,
what directed you here."

"Our good star, father," said he. "Ernest and I were walking round these
rocks, and talking of his wish for a resting-place for my mother on her
way to the garden. He projected a tent; but the path was too narrow to
admit it; and the rock, heated by the sun, was like a stove. We were
considering what we should do, when I saw on the summit of the rock a
very beautiful little unknown quadruped. From its form I should have
taken it for a young chamois, if I had been in Switzerland; but Ernest
reminded me that the chamois was peculiar to cold countries, and he
thought it was a gazelle or antelope; probably the gazelle of Guinea or
Java, called by naturalists the chevrotain. You may suppose I tried to
climb the rock on which this little animal remained standing, with one
foot raised, and its pretty head turning first to one side and then to
the other; but it was useless to attempt it here, where the rock was
smooth and perpendicular; besides, I should have put the gazelle to
flight, as it is a timid and wild animal. I then remembered there was a
place near Tent House where a considerable break occurred in the chain
of rocks, and we found that, with a little difficulty, the rock might be
scaled by ascending this ravine. Ernest laughed at me, and asked me if I
expected the antelope would wait patiently till I got to it? No matter,
I determined to try, and I told him to remain; but he soon determined to
accompany me, for he fancied that in the fissure of a rock he saw a
flower of a beautiful rose-colour, which was unknown to him. My learned
botanist thought it must be an _erica_, or heath, and wished to
ascertain the fact. One helping the other, we soon got through all
difficulties, and arrived at the summit; and here we were amply repaid
by the beautiful prospect on every side. We will talk of that
afterwards, father; I have formed some idea of the country which these
rocks separate us from. But to return to our grotto. I went along, first
looking for my pretty gazelle, which I saw licking a piece of rock,
where doubtless she found some salt. I was hardly a hundred yards from
her, my gun ready, when I was suddenly stopped by a crevice, which I
could not cross, though the opening was not very wide. The pretty
quadruped was on the rock opposite to me; but of what use would it have
been to shoot it, when I could not secure it. I was obliged to defer it
till a better opportunity offered, and turned to examine the opening,
which appeared deep; still I could see that the bottom of the cavity was
white, like that of our former grotto. I called Ernest, who was behind
me, with his plants and stones, to impart to him an idea that suddenly
struck me. It was, to make this the retreat for my mother. I told him
that I believed the floor of the cave was nearly on a level with the
path that led to the garden, and we had only to make an opening in the
form of a natural grotto, and it would be exactly what he wished. Ernest
was much pleased with the idea, and said he could easily ascertain the
level by means of a weight attached to a string; but though he was
startled at the difficulty of descending to our labour every day, and
returning in the evening, he would not agree to my wish of beginning at
the outside of the rock, as we had done in our former grotto, He had
several reasons for wishing to work from within. 'In the first place,'
said he, 'it will be so much cooler this summer weather; we should be
soon unable to go on labouring before the burning rock; then our path is
so narrow, that we should not know how to dispose of the rubbish; in the
interior, it will serve us to make a bench round the grotto; besides, I
should have such pleasure in completing it secretly, and unsuspected,
without any assistance or advice except yours, my dear Fritz, which I
accept with all my heart; so pray find out some means of descending and
ascending readily.'

"I immediately recollected your rope ladder, father; it was forty feet
long, and we could easily fasten it to the point of the rock. Ernest was
delighted and sanguine. We returned with all speed. We took first a roll
of cord and some candles; then the rope ladder, which we rolled up as
well as we could, but had great difficulty in conveying it up the rock;
once or twice, when the ascent was very difficult, we were obliged to
fasten a cord to it, and draw it up after us; but determination,
courage, and perseverance overcame all obstacles. We arrived at the
opening, and, on sounding it, we were glad to find our ladder would be
long enough to reach the bottom. We then measured the outside of the
rock, and ascertained that the floor of the grotto was near the same
level as the ground outside. We remembered your lessons, father, and
made some experiments to discover if it contained mephitic air. We first
lighted some candles, which were not extinguished; we then kindled a
large heap of sticks and dried grass, which-burned well, the smoke
passing through the opening like a chimney. Having no uneasiness about
this, we deferred our commencement till the next day. Then we lighted
the forge, and pointed some iron bars we found in the magazine; these
were to be our tools to break open the rock. We secured, also, your
chisel, as well as some hammers, and all our tools were thrown down
below; we then arranged two gourds to serve us for lamps; and when all
was ready, and our ladder firmly fixed, we descended ourselves; and we
have nothing more to tell you, except that we were very glad when we
heard your voices outside, at the very time when our work was drawing to
an end. We were sure, when we distinguished your voices so clearly, that
we must be near the external air; we redoubled our efforts, and here we
are. Now tell us, father, are you pleased with our idea? and will you
forgive us for making a mystery of it?"

I assured them of my forgiveness, and my cordial approbation of their
manly and useful enterprise; and made Ernest happy by declaring that it
should always be called the _Grotto Ernestine_.

"Thanks to you all, my dear children," said I; "your dear mamma will now
prefer Tent House to Falcon's Nest, and will have no occasion to risk
breaking a limb in descending the winding staircase. I will assist you
to enlarge the opening, and as we will leave it all the simplicity of a
natural grotto, it will soon be ready."

We all set to work; Jack carried away the loosened stones and rubbish,
and formed benches on each side the grotto. With what had fallen
outside, he also made two seats in the front of the rock, and before
evening all was complete. Fritz ascended to unfasten the ladder, and to
convey it by an easier road to Tent House; he then rejoined us, and we
returned to our castle in the air, which was henceforward only to be
looked on as a pleasure-house. We resolved, however, to establish here,
as we had done at our farm, a colony of our cattle, which increased
daily: we had now a number of young cows, which were most useful for our
support. We wished, however, for a female buffalo, as the milk of that
animal makes excellent cheese. Conversing on our future plans, we soon
reached home, and found all well.

* * * * *


In a few days we completed the _Grotto Ernestine_. It contained some
stalactites; but not so many as our former grotto. We found, however, a
beautiful block of salt, which resembled white marble, of which Ernest
formed a sort of altar, supported by four pillars, on which he placed a
pretty vase of citron-wood, which he had turned himself, and in which he
arranged some of the beautiful _erica_ which had been the cause of his
discovering the grotto. It was one of those occasions when his feelings
overcame his natural indolence, when he became for a time the most
active of the four, and brought forward all his resources, which were
many. This indolence was merely physical; when not excited by any sudden
circumstance, or by some fancy which soon assumed the character of a
passion, he loved ease, and to enjoy life tranquilly in study. He
improved his mind continually, as well by his excellent memory, as by
natural talent and application. He reflected, made experiments, and was
always successful. He had at last succeeded in making his mother a very
pretty bonnet. He had also composed some verses, which were intended to
celebrate her visit to Tent House; and this joyful day being at last
fixed, the boys all went over, the evening before, to make their
preparations. The flowers that the storm had spared were gathered to
ornament the fountains, the altar, and the table, on which was placed an
excellent cold dinner, entirely prepared by themselves. Fritz supplied
and roasted the game,--a fine bustard, the flesh of which resembles a
turkey, and a brace of partridges. Ernest brought pines, melons, and
figs; Jack should have supplied the fish, but was able only to procure
oysters, crabs, and turtles' eggs. Francis had the charge of the
dessert, which consisted of a dish of strawberries, honeycomb, and the
cream of the cocoa-nut. I had contributed a bottle of Canary wine, that
we might drink mamma's health. All was arranged on a table in the middle
of the _Franciade_, and my sons returned to accompany the
expedition next day.

The morning was beautiful, and the sun shone brightly on our emigration.
My wife was anxious to set out, expecting she should have to return to
her aerial dwelling. Though her leg and foot were better, she still
walked feebly, and she begged us to harness the cow and ass to the cart,
and to lead them as gently as possible.

"I will only go a little way the first day," said she, "for I am not
strong enough to visit Tent House yet."

We felt quite convinced she would change her opinion when once in her
litter. I wished to carry her down the staircase; but she declined, and
descended very well with the help of my arm. When the door was opened,
and she found herself once more in the open air, surrounded by her
children, she thanked God, with tears of gratitude, for her recovery,
and all his mercies to us. Then the pretty osier carriage arrived. They
had harnessed the cow and young bull to it; Francis answering for the
docility of Valiant, provided he guided him himself. Accordingly, he was
mounted before, his cane in his hand, and his bow and quiver on his
back, very proud to be mamma's charioteer. My other three boys mounted
on their animals, were ready before, to form the advanced guard, while I
proposed to follow, and watch over the whole. My wife was moved even to
tears, and could not cease admiring her new carriage, which Fritz and
Jack presented to her as their own work. Francis, however, boasted that
he had carded the cotton for the soft cushion on which she was to sit,
and I, that I had made it. I then lifted her in, and as soon as she was
seated Ernest came to put her new bonnet on her head, which greatly
delighted her; it was of fine straw, and so thick and firm that it might
even defend her from the rain. But what pleased her most was, that it
was the shape worn by the Swiss peasants in the Canton of Vaud, where my
dear wife had resided some time in her youth. She thanked all her dear
children, and felt so easy and comfortable in her new conveyance, that
we arrived at Family Bridge without her feeling the least fatigue. Here
we stopped.

"Would you like to cross here, my dear?" said I; "and as we are very
near, look in at your convenient Tent House, where you will have no
staircase to ascend. And we should like to know, too, if you approve of
our management of your garden,"

"As you please," said she; "in fact, I am so comfortable in my carriage,
that if it were necessary, I could make the tour of the island. I
should like to see my house again; but it will be so very hot at this
season, that we must not stay long."

"But you must dine there, my dear mother," said Fritz; "it is too late
to return to dinner at Falcon's Nest; consider, too, the fatigue it
would occasion you."

"I would be very glad, indeed, my dear," said she; "but what are we to
dine on? We have prepared no provision, and I fear we shall all
be hungry."

"What matter," said Jack, "provided you dine with us? You must take your
chance. I will go and get some oysters, that we may not die with
hunger;" and off he galloped on his buffalo. Fritz followed him, on some
pretence, on Lightfoot. Mamma wished she had brought a vessel to carry
some water from the river, for she knew we could get none at Tent House.
Francis reminded her we could milk the cow, and she was satisfied, and
enjoyed her journey much. At last we arrived before the colonnade. My
wife was dumb with wonder for some moments.

"Where am I, and what do I see?" said she, when she could speak.

"You see the _Franciade_, mamma," said her little boy; "this beautiful
colonnade was my invention, to protect you from the heat; stay, read
what is written above: _Francis to his dear mother. May this colonnade,
which is called the Franciade, be to her a temple of happiness._ Now
mamma, lean on me, and come and see my brothers' gifts--much better than
mine;" and he led her to Jack's pavilion, who was standing by the
fountain. He held a shell in his hand, which he filled with water, and
drank, saying, "To the health of the Queen of the Island; may she have
no more accidents, and live as long as her children! Long live Queen
Elizabeth, and may she come every day to _Jackia_, to drink her son
Jack's health."

I supported my wife, and was almost as much affected as herself. She
wept and trembled with joy and surprise. Jack and Ernest then joined
their hands, and carried her to the other pavilion, where Fritz was
waiting to receive her, and the same scene of tenderness ensued. "Accept
this pavilion, dear mother," said he; "and may _Fritzia_ ever make you
think on Fritz."

The delighted mother embraced them all, and observing Ernest's name was
not commemorated by any trophy, thanked him again for her beautiful
bonnet. She then drank some of the delicious water of the fountain, and
returned to seat herself at the repast, which was another surprise for
her. We all made an excellent dinner; and at the dessert, I handed my
Canary wine round in shells; and then Ernest rose and sung us very
prettily, to a familiar air, some little verses he had composed:--

On this festive happy day,
Let us pour our grateful lay;
Since Heaven has hush'd our mother's pain,
And given her to her sons again.
Then from this quiet, lovely home
Never, never, may we roam.
All we love around us smile:
Joyful is our desert isle.

When o'er our mother's couch we bent,
Fervent prayers to Heaven we sent,
And God has spared that mother dear,
To bless her happy children here.
Then from this quiet, lovely home,
Never, never, may we roam;
All we love around us smile,
Joyful is our desert isle.

We all joined in the chorus, and none of us thought of the ship, of
Europe, or of anything that was passing in the world. The island was our
universe, and Tent House was a palace we would not have exchanged for
any the world contained. This was one of those happy days that God
grants us sometimes on earth, to give us an idea of the bliss of Heaven;
and most fervently did we thank Him, at the end of our repast, for all
his mercies and blessings to us.

After dinner, I told my wife she must not think of returning to Falcon's
Nest, with all its risks of storms and the winding staircase, and she
could not better recompense her sons for their labours than by living
among them. She was of the same opinion, and was very glad to be so near
her kitchen and her stores, and to be able to walk alone with the
assistance of a stick in the colonnade, which she could do already; but
she made me promise to leave Falcon's Nest as it was. It would be a
pretty place to walk to, and besides, this castle in the air was her own
invention. We agreed that this very evening she should take possession
of her own pretty room, with the good felt carpet, on which she could
walk without fear; and that the next day, I should go with my elder sons
and the animals to bring the cart, such utensils as we needed, and above
all, the poultry. Our dogs always followed their masters, as well as
the monkey and jackal, and they were so domesticated, we had no trouble
with them.

I then prevailed on my wife to go into her room and rest for an hour,
after which we were to visit the garden. She complied, and after her
repose found her four sons ready to carry her in her litter as in a
sedan-chair. They took care to bring her straight to the grotto, where I
was waiting for her. This was a new surprise for the good mother. She
could not sufficiently express her astonishment and delight, when Jack
and Francis, taking their flageolets, accompanied their brothers, who
sung the following verse, which Ernest had added to his former attempt.

Dear mother, let this gift be mine,
Accept the Grotto Ernestine.
May all your hours be doubly blest
Within this tranquil place of rest.
Then from this quiet, lovely home
Never, never may we roam;
All we love around us smile.
Joyful is our desert isle!

What cause had we to rejoice in our children! we could not but shed
tears to witness their affection and perfect happiness.

Below the vase of flowers, on the block of salt, Ernest had written:--

Ernest, assisted by his brother Fritz,
Has prepared this grotto,
As a retreat for his beloved mother,
When she visits her garden.

Ernest then conducted his mother to one of the benches, which he had
covered with soft moss, as a seat for her, and there she rested at her
ease to hear the history of the discovery of the grotto. It was now my
turn to offer my present; the garden, the embankment, the pond, and the
arbour. She walked, supported by my arm, to view her little empire, and
her delight was extreme; the pond, which enabled her to water her
vegetables, particularly pleased her, as well as her shady arbour, under
which she found all her gardening tools, ornamented with flowers, and
augmented by two light _watering-pans,_ constructed by Jack and Francis,
from two gourds. They had canes for spouts, with the gourd bottles at
the end, pierced with holes, through which the water came in the manner
of a watering-pan. The embankment was also a great surprise; she
proposed to place plants of pines and melon on it, and I agreed to it.
Truly did she rejoice at the appearance of the vegetables, which
promised us some excellent European provision, a great comfort to her.
After expressing her grateful feelings, she returned to the grotto, and
seating herself in her sedan-chair, returned to Tent House, to enjoy the
repose she needed, after such a day of excitement. We did not, however,
lie down before we had together thanked God for the manifold blessings
he had given us, and for the pleasure of that day.

"If I had been in Europe," said my dear wife, "on the festival of my
recovery, I should have received a nosegay, a ribbon, or some trinket;
here I have had presented a carriage, a colonnade, pavilions, ornamental
fountains, a large grotto, a garden, a pond, an arbour, and a
straw bonnet!"

* * * * *


THE next and following days were spent in removing our furniture and
property, particularly our poultry, which had multiplied greatly. We
also constructed a poultry-yard, at a sufficient distance from our house
to save our sleep from disturbance, and still so near that we could
easily tend them. We made it as a continuation of the colonnade, and on
the same plan, but enclosed in the front by a sort of wire trellis-work,
which Fritz and Jack made wonderfully well. Fritz, who had a turn for
architecture and mechanics, gave me some good hints, especially one,
which we put into execution. This was to carry the water from the basin
of the fountain through the poultry-yard, which enabled us also to have
a little pond for our ducks. The pigeons had their abode above the
hen-roosts, in some pretty baskets, which Ernest and Francis made,
similar to those made by the savages of the Friendly Isles, of which
they had seen engravings in Cook's Voyages. When all was finished, my
wife was delighted to think that even in the rainy season she could
attend to her feathered family and collect their eggs.

"What a difference," said she, admiring the elegance of our
buildings,--"what a difference between this Tent House and the original
dwelling that suggested the name to us, and which was our only shelter
four years ago. What a surprising progress luxury has made with us in
that time! Do you remember, my dear, the barrel which served us for a
table, and the oyster-shells for spoons, the tent where we slept,
crowded together on dried leaves, and without undressing, and the river
half a mile off, where we were obliged to go to drink if we were
thirsty? Compared to what we were then, we are now great _lords_"

"Kings, you mean, mamma," said Jack, "for all this island is ours, and
it is quite like a kingdom."

"And how many millions of subjects does Prince Jack reckon in the
kingdom of his august father?" said I.

Prince Jack declared he had not yet counted the parrots, kangaroos,
agoutis, and monkeys. The laughter of his brothers stopped him. I then
agreed with my wife that our luxuries had increased; but I explained to
her that this was the result of our industry. All civilized nations have
commenced as we did; necessity has developed the intellect which God has
given to man alone, and by degrees the arts have progressed, and
knowledge has extended more perhaps than is conducive to happiness. What
appeared luxury to us now was still simplicity compared with the luxury
of towns, or even villages, among civilized nations. My wife declared
she had everything she wished for, and should not know what more to ask
for, as we now had only to rest and enjoy our happiness.

I declared against spending our time in rest and indolence, as the sure
means of ending our pleasure; and I well knew my dear wife was, like
myself, an enemy to idleness; but she dreaded any more laborious

"But, mamma," said Fritz, "you must let me make a mill under the
cascade; it will be so useful when our corn grows, and even now for the
maize. I also think of making an oven in the kitchen, which will be
very useful for you to bake your bread in."

"These would indeed be useful labours," said the good mother, smiling;
"but can you accomplish them?"

"I hope so," said Fritz, "with the help of God and that of my dear

Ernest promised his best aid, in return for his brother's kind services
in forming his grotto, only requesting occasional leisure for his
natural history collections. His mother did not see the utility of these
collections, but, willing to indulge her kind and attentive Ernest, she
offered, till she could walk well, to assist him in arranging and
labelling his plants, which were yet in disorder, and he gratefully
consented. In procuring her some paper for the purpose, of which I had
brought a large quantity from the vessel, I brought out an unopened
packet, amongst which was a piece of some fabric, neither paper nor
stuff apparently. We examined it together, and at length remembered it
was a piece of stuff made at Otaheite, which our captain had bought of a
native at an island where we had touched on our voyage. Fritz appearing
much interested in examining this cloth, Ernest said gravely, "I can
teach you how to make it;" and immediately bringing _Cook's Voyages_,
where a detailed description is given, he proceeded to read it. Fritz
was disappointed to find it could only be made of the bark of three
trees--of these our island produced only one. These trees were the
mulberry-tree, the bread fruit, and the wild fig. We had the last in
abundance, but of the two former we had not yet discovered a single
plant. Fritz was not, however, discouraged. "They ought to be here,"
said he, "since they are found in all the South-Sea Islands. Perhaps we
may find them on the other side of the rocks, where I saw some superb
unknown trees from the height where we discovered the grotto; and who
knows but I may find my pretty gazelle there again. The rogue can leap
better than I can over those rocks. I had a great wish to descend them,
but found it impossible; some are very high and perpendicular; others
have overhanging summits; I might, however, get round as you did by the
pass, between the torrent and the rocks at the Great Bay."

Jack offered to be his guide, even with his eyes shut, into that rich
country where he conquered and captured his buffalo; and Ernest begged
to be of the party. As this was an expedition I had long projected, I
agreed to accompany them next day, their mother being content to have
Francis left with her as a protector. I cautioned Fritz not to fire off
his gun when we approached the buffaloes, as any show of hostility might
render them furious; otherwise the animals, unaccustomed to man, have no
fear of him, and will not harm him. "In general," added I, "I cannot
sufficiently recommend to you to be careful of your powder; we have not
more than will last us a year, and there may be a necessity to have
recourse to it for our defence."

"I have a plan for making it," said Fritz, who never saw a difficulty in
anything. "I know it is composed of charcoal, saltpetre, and
sulphur--and we ought to find all these materials in the island. It is
only necessary to combine them, and to form it into little round
grains. This is my only difficulty; but I will consider it over; and I
have my mill to think on first. I have a confused recollection of a
powder manufactory at Berne: there was some machinery which went by
water; this machinery moved some hammers, which pounded and mixed the
ingredients--was not this the case, father?"

"Something like it," said I; "but we have many things to do before
making powder. First, we must go to sleep; we must set out before
daybreak, if we intend to return to-morrow evening." We did indeed rise
before the sun, which would not rise for us. The sky was very cloudy,
and shortly we had an abundant and incessant rain, which obliged us to
defer our journey, and put us all in bad humour, but my wife, who was
not sorry to keep us with her, and who declared this gracious rain would
water her garden, and bring it forward. Fritz was the first who consoled
himself; he thought on nothing but building mills, and manufacturing
gunpowder. He begged me to draw him a mill; this was very easy, so far
as regards the exterior,--that is, the wheel, and the waterfall that
sets it in motion; but the interior,--the disposition of the wheels, the
stones to bruise the grain, the sieve, or bolter, to separate the flour
from the bran; all this complicated machinery was difficult to explain;
but he comprehended all, adding his usual expression,--"I will try, and
I shall succeed." Not to lose any time, and to profit by this rainy day,
he began by making sieves of different materials, which he fastened to a
circle of pliant wood, and tried by passing through them the flour of
the cassava; he made some with sailcloth, others with the hair of the
onagra, which is very long and strong, and some of the fibres of bark.
His mother admired his work, which he continued to improve more and
more; she assured him the sieve would be sufficient for her; it was
useless to have the trouble of building a mill.

"But how shall we bruise the grain, mamma?" said he; "it would be
tedious and hard work."

"And you think there will be no hard work in building your mill?" said
Jack. "I am curious to see how you will contrive to form that huge
stone, which is called the millstone."

"You shall see," said Fritz; "only find me the stone, and it shall soon
be done. Do you think, father, that of our rock would be suitable?"

I told him I thought it would be hard enough, but it would be difficult
to cut from the rock a piece large enough for the purpose. He made his
usual reply,--"_I will try_. Ernest and Jack will assist me; and
perhaps you, papa."

I declared my willingness, but named him the _master-mason;_ we must
only be his workmen. Francis was impatient to see the mill in operation.
"Oh!" said Jack, "you shall soon have that pleasure. It is a mere
trifle; we only want stone, wood, tools, and science."

At the word "_science_," Ernest, who was reading in a corner, without
listening to us, raised his head suddenly, saying,--"What science are
you in need of?"

"Of one you know nothing of, Mr. Philosopher," said Jack. "Come, tell
us, do you know how to build a mill?"

"A mill?" answered Ernest; "of what description? There are many sorts.
I was just looking in my dictionary for it. There are corn-mills, and
powder-mills, oil-mills, wind-mills, water-mills, hand-mills, and
saw-mills; which do you want?"

Fritz would have liked them all.

"You remind me," said I, "that we brought from the vessel a hand-mill
and a saw-mill, taken to pieces, to be sure, but numbered and labelled,
so that they could be easily united: they should be in the magazine,
where you found the anvil and iron bars; I had forgotten them."

"Let us go and examine them," said Fritz, lighting his lantern; "I shall
get some ideas from them."

"Rather," said his mother, "they will spare you the trouble of thinking
and labouring."

I sent them all four to seek these treasures, which, heaped in an
obscure corner of the store-room, had escaped my recollection. When we
were alone, I seriously besought my wife not to oppose any occupations
our children might plan, however they might seem beyond their power; the
great point being, to keep them continually occupied, so that no evil or
dangerous fancies might fill their minds. "Let them," I said, "cut
stone, fell trees, or dig fountains, and bless God that their thoughts
are so innocently directed." She understood me, and promised not to
discourage them, only fearing the excessive fatigue of these

Our boys returned from the magazine, delighted with what they had found,
and loaded with work-tools. Those of the masons,--the chisel, the short
hammer, and the trowel, were not to be found, and rarely are taken out
to sea; but they had collected a great number of carpenters'
tools,--saws, planes, rules, &c. And now that Fritz was a smith, he had
no difficulty in making any tool he wanted. He was loaded on each
shoulder, and in each hand he brought a specimen of gunpowder; one sort
was in good condition, and they had found a barrel of it; the other was
much damaged by the water. Jack and Francis were also bending under the
weight of various articles; among which I saw some pieces of the
hand-mill Fritz wished to examine. Ernest, always rather idle, came
proudly on, with a leather belt across his shoulders, to which was
suspended a large tin box for plants, and a leather portmanteau for
stones, minerals, and shells. His brothers, even Francis, rallied him
unmercifully on his immense burden; one offered to help him, another to
go and bring the ass; he preserved his grave and thoughtful air, and
extended himself on a seat near his mother, who was occupied with his
specimens of natural history. Jack deposited his load in a corner, and
ran out; we soon saw him return with a huge screw-machine on his head,
which he placed before Ernest, saying, with an air of respect,--

"I have the honour to bring for his Highness the Prince of the Idle
Penguins, the press for his august plants, which his Highness doubtless
found too heavy; and, truly, it is no little weight."

Ernest did not know whether to thank him or to be angry, but he decided
to join in the jest, and, therefore, answered gravely that he was
distressed that his Highness the Prince of the Monkeys should have taken
so much trouble to oblige him, that he ought to have employed some of
his docile subjects to do it; after all, he confessed that the press,
which he had not noticed, gave him great pleasure, and he placed some
plants in it immediately, which he had collected the evening before.

The rain ceasing for a short time, I went with Fritz and Jack to examine
our embankment, and to open the sluices of the pond. We found all right,
and our garden looking beautiful after the rain. On our return, we
looked in at the _Grotto Ernestine,_ which we found inundated from the
opening above. We proposed to make a trench, or little channel, to carry
off the rain-water from it. We returned home, and retired to bed, in
hopes of being able to set out next morning. We were, however, again
disappointed, and for a longer period than we expected. The rain
continued some days, and the country was again a complete lake; we had,
however, no storm or wind, and our possessions did not suffer; so we
resolved to wait patiently till the weather would permit us to go. My
wife was delighted to be in her comfortable abode, and to have us round
her; neither did we waste the time. Ernest finished the arrangement of
his collection with his mother and Francis. Fritz and Jack prepared the
tools that would be wanted in their great undertaking--the first attempt
was to be a saw-mill. In order to prepare the planks they wished, a very
large saw, which they had found amongst the tools, would serve their
purpose; but it was necessary to set it in motion by water, and here was
the difficulty. Fritz made several models from the thin wood of our
chests, and the wheels of our guns, but they were too small. In the
mean time, the mind of my young mechanic was exercised, his ideas were
enlarged and improved; and, as this science was so necessary in our
situation, I allowed him to go on with his experiments. Notwithstanding
the rain, protected by my cloak, he went several times to the cascade to
look out for a place where he should place his mills to the best
advantage, and have a constant supply of water. Ernest assisted him by
his advice, and promised his labour when it should be needed. Jack and
Francis were helping their mother to card cotton, of which she had made
a large collection, intending to spin it for our clothing; and I
exercised my mechanical talents in turning a large wheel for her, which
it was necessary should revolve very easily, her leg being still stiff;
and a reel, by which four bobbins were filled at once by turning
a handle.

These different occupations aided us to pass the rainy season, which
visited us earlier this year, and did not remain so long. My wife knew
something of dyeing cloth; and, some of the plants she had helped Ernest
to dry having left their colour on the papers, she made some
experiments, and succeeded in obtaining a very pretty blue to dye our
clothes with; and, with the cochineal from our fig-tree, a beautiful red
brown, with which she had dyed for herself a complete dress.

Thus passed several weeks. Ernest read to us from some amusing or
instructive work every evening; and, when his collections were all put
in order, he worked at his lathe, or at the business of weaving. At last
the sun appeared; we spent some days enjoying it in our delightful
colonnade. We went to visit the grotto and the garden, where all was
going on well--the embankment had prevented the inundation. Satisfied
with our work, we now fixed our departure for the next day, once more
hoping the rain would not come again to disappoint us.

* * * * *


The next day the weather was delightful. We rose before daybreak. My
eldest sons took their work-tools, which we might want, and their guns
also, but under the condition that they should not use them till I gave
the word, "Fire!" I carried the bag of provisions. Our flock of sheep
had increased so much at the farm, that we allowed ourselves to kill
one, and my wife had roasted a piece for us the preceding evening; to
this we added a cake of cassava, and for our dessert we depended on the
fruits of the trees we might discover. But, previous to our departure,
while I was taking leave of my wife and Francis, I heard a dispute in
the colonnade, which I hastened to learn the cause of. I found it was a
question between Fritz and Jack, whether we should make the tour of the
island by sea or land; and each was anxious for my support. Fritz
complained that, since their two expeditions in the canoe, Jack believed
himself the first sailor in the world, and that they had given him the
name of Lord of the Waves, because he was constantly saying--"When I was
under the waves--when the waves were washing over me, do you think that
they left me dry?"

"No, Mr. Sportsman," said Jack, "you got enough of them, and that's the
reason you don't wish to try them again. For my part, I love the waves,
and I sing, 'The sea! the sea! it was the sea that brought us here!'"

"What a boaster you are," said Fritz: "it was only yesterday you said to
me, 'I will guide you; I know the way by the rocks; I got my buffalo
there, and I intend to have another.' Was it in the pinnace you intended
to pass the defile, and pursue buffaloes?"

"No, no! I meant on foot," said Jack; "but I thought we should be only
two then. But, as we are four--papa at the helm, and three bold rowers,
why should we fatigue ourselves in making the tour of the island on our
legs, when we have a good vessel to carry us? What says Mr. Philosopher,
the prince of idlers, to it?"

"For my part," said Ernest, quietly, "I am quite indifferent whether I
use my legs in walking, or my arms in rowing, it is equally fatiguing;
but walking gives me more chance of filling my plant-box and my

"And does he think," added Fritz, "that the mulberry and bread-fruit
trees, which we shall certainly find on the other side, grow on the sea?
without naming my gazelle, which does not run over the waves."

"No, it is waiting, without moving, for you to shoot it," said Jack;
"and Ernest, perhaps you may find on the sea some of those curious
things half plants, half animals, which you were showing me in a book."

"The zoophytes, or polypi; for they are the same family, though there
are more than a thousand species," said Ernest, charmed to display his
knowledge; but I stopped him by saying: "We will dispense with the
thousand names at present. After hearing all your arguments, attend to
mine; even Jack must yield to them. Our principal aim now being to
search for the trees we are in need of, and to examine the productions
of the island, our most sensible plan will be to walk."

Jack still contended that we might land occasionally; but I showed him
the danger of this, the island being, in all probability, surrounded by
reefs, which might extend so far into the sea as to take us out of the
sight of the island; this I intended to ascertain some day; and in the
mean time I proposed to them that we should endeavour to find a pass
round the rocks on our side, from whence we could walk to the defile at
the other end, take our canoe, which we had left at anchor near the
Great Bay, and return to Tent House.

Jack was in ecstasies; he declared the pass must be very well concealed
that escaped his search, and, seizing his lasso and his bow, rushed out
the first, singing "The sea! the sea!"

"There goes a sailor formed by nature," thought I, as we followed the
course of the chain of rocks to the left of our dwelling. It conducted
us first to the place of our landing, that little uncultivated plain of
triangular form, of which the base was washed by the sea, and the point
was lost among the rocks. I found here some traces of our first
establishment; but how wretched all appeared, compared with our present
comforts! We tried here in vain to find a passage to cross the
rocks--the chain was everywhere like an impenetrable wall. We arrived at
the ravine Fritz and Ernest had scaled when they discovered their
grotto; and, truly, nothing but the courage and rashness of youth could
have undertaken this enterprise, and continued it daily for three weeks.
It appeared to me almost impossible; Fritz offered to ascend, to show me
how they accomplished it; but I would not consent, as it could serve no
useful purpose. I thought it better for us to proceed to the border of
the island, where it was not impossible there might be a small space on
the strand between the rocks and the sea, round which we could pass;
from my sons being able to distinguish from the summit the country on
the other side, it was evident the chain of rocks could not be very
broad. Suddenly Fritz struck his forehead, and, seizing Ernest by the
arm--"Brother," said he, "what fools we have been!"

Ernest inquired what folly they had been guilty of.

"Why did we not," said Fritz, "when we were working within our grotto,
attempt to make the opening on the other side? We should not have had
much difficulty, I am persuaded, and if our tools had not been
sufficient, a little powder would have opened us a door on the other
side. Only consider, father, the convenience of bringing the cart loaded
with the trees we wanted through our grotto, and to be able to go
a-hunting without having I don't know how many miles to go."

"Well, we can still do that," said Ernest, in his usual calm, grave
manner; "if we do not find another passage, we will make one through the
Grotto Ernestine, with mamma's permission, as it is her property."

This idea of my son appeared good. It was quite certain, from our
experience at Tent House and in the grotto, that the cavity in the rocks
was of very great extent, and it did not appear difficult to pierce
through to the other side; but some other chain of rocks, some gigantic
tree, some hill, at the end of our tunnel, might render all our labour
useless. I proposed that we should defer our work till we had examined
the nature of the ground on the other side; my sons agreed, and we
proceeded with renewed courage, when we were suddenly checked by the
sight of the sea beating against a perpendicular rock of terrific
height, which terminated our island on this side, and did not give us a
chance of going on. I saw the rock did not extend far; but how to get
round it, I could not devise. I did not conceive we could get the
pinnace round, as the coast seemed surrounded by reefs; masses of rock
stood up in the sea, and the breakers showed that more were hidden.
After much consideration and many plans, Ernest proposed that we should
swim out to the uncovered rocks, and endeavour to pass round. Fritz
objected, on account of his arms and ammunition; but Ernest suggested
that the powder should be secured in the pockets of his clothes, which
he might carry on his head, holding his gun above the water.

With some difficulty we arranged our incumbrances, and succeeded in
reaching the range of outer rocks, without swimming, as the water was
not above our shoulders. We rested here awhile, and, putting on some of
our clothes, we commenced our walk over sharp stones, which wounded our
feet. In many places, where the rocks lay low, we were up to the waist
in the water. Ernest, the proposer of the plan, encouraged us, and led
the way for some time; but at last he fell behind, and remained so long,
that I became alarmed, and calling aloud, for I had lost sight of him,
he answered me, and at last I discovered him stretched on the rock,
endeavouring to separate a piece from it with his knife.

"Father," said he, "I am now certain that this bed of rocks, over which
we are walking, and which we fancied was formed of stone or flints, is
nothing but the work of those remarkable zoophytes, called coral
insects, which form coral and many other extraordinary things; they can
even make whole islands. Look at these little points and hollows, and
these stars of every colour and every form; I would give all the world
to have a specimen of each kind."

He succeeded in breaking off a piece, which was of a deep orange-colour
inside; he collected also, and deposited in his bag, some other pieces,
of various forms and colours. These greatly enriched his collection;
and, idle as he was, he did not complain of any difficulty in obtaining
them. He had given his gun to Jack, who complained much of the
ruggedness of our road. Our march was truly painful, and I repented more
than once of having yielded to the idea; besides the misery of walking
along these shelly rocks, which presented points like the sharp teeth of
a saw, tearing our shoes and even our skin, the sea, in some of the
lower places, was so high as to bar our passage, and we were obliged, in
the interval between two waves, to rush across, with the water to our
chins. We had some difficulty to avoid being carried away. I trembled
especially for Jack; though small and light, he preferred facing the
wave to avoiding it. I was several times obliged to catch hold of him,
and narrowly escaped destruction along with him. Happily, our march was
not above half a mile, and we gained the shore at last without any
serious accident, but much fatigued and foot-sore; and we made a
resolution never more to cross the coral reefs.

After dressing ourselves, resting, and taking a slight refreshment on
the beach, we resumed our march more at our ease into the interior of
the island; but though the long grass was not so sharp as the coral, it
was almost as troublesome, twisting round our legs, and threatening to
throw us down every step we took. Ernest, loaded with his bag of
fragments of rock, coral, and zoophytes, had given his gun to Jack; and,
fearing an accident among the long grass, I thought it prudent to
discharge it. In order to profit by it, I fired at a little quadruped,
about the size of a squirrel, and killed it. It appeared to me to be the
animal called by naturalists the palm-squirrel, because it climbs the
cocoa and date-palms, hooks itself by its tail, which is very long and
flexible, to the upper branches, and feeds at pleasure on the fruit, of
which it is very fond. We amused ourselves by details of the habits of
this animal, occasionally separating to make more discoveries, but
agreeing on a particular call, which was to assemble us when
necessary,--a precaution by no means useless, as it turned out.

Fritz, with his head raised, went on examining all the trees, and
occasionally giving a keen look after his gazelle. Ernest, stooping
down, examined plants, insects, and, occasionally pursuing rare and
beautiful butterflies, was filling his bag and plant-box with various
curiosities. Jack, with his lasso in his hand, prepared himself to fling
it round the legs of the first buffalo he met with, and was vexed that
he did not see any. For my own part, I was engaged in surveying the
chain of rocks, in order to discover that which contained the Grotto
Ernestine. It was easy to recognize it, from its summit cleft in two;
and I wished to ascertain, as nearly as possible, if the cleft extended
to the base of the rock, as this would render our work much easier. This
side of the island did not resemble that near the Great Bay, with which
Jack and I had been so much charmed. The island was much narrower here,
and instead of the wide plain, crossed by a river, divided by delightful
woods, giving an idea of paradise on earth; we were journeying through a
contracted valley, lying between the rocky wall which divided the
island, and a chain of sandy hills, which hid the sea and sheltered the
valley from the wind. Fritz and I ascended one of these hills, on which
a few pines and broom were growing, and perceived beyond them a barren
tract, stretching to the sea, where the coral reefs rose to the level of
the water, and appeared to extend far into the sea. Any navigators,
sailing along these shores, would pronounce the island inaccessible and
entirely barren. This is not the fact; the grass is very thick, and the
trees of noble growth; we found many unknown to us, some loaded with
fruit; also, several beautiful shrubs covered with flowers; the dwarf
orange-tree, the elegant melaleuca, the nutmeg-tree, and the Bengal rose
blending its flowers with the fragrant jasmine. I should never finish,
if I were to try and name all the plants found in this shady valley,
which might be called the botanic garden of Nature. Ernest was in
ecstasies; he wished to carry away everything, but he did not know how
to dispose of them.

"Ah!" said he, "if only our grotto were open to this side!"

At this moment Fritz came running out of breath, crying out, "The
bread-fruit tree! I have found the bread-fruit tree! Here is the
fruit,--excellent, delicious bread. Taste it, father; here, Ernest;
here, Jack;" and he gave us each a part of an oval fruit, about the size
of an ordinary melon, which really seemed very good and nourishing.

"There are many of these trees," continued he, "loaded with fruit. Would
that we had our grotto opened, that we might collect a store of them,
now that they are ripe."

My boys pointed out to me exactly the situation of the grotto, judging
from the rock above, and longed for their tools, that they might
commence the opening directly. We proceeded to make our way through a
border of trees and bushes, that separated us from the rock, that we
might examine it, and judge of the difficulties of our undertaking. Jack
preceded us, as usual, after giving Ernest his gun; Fritz followed him,
and suddenly turning to me, said,--

"I believe kind Nature has saved us much trouble; the rock appears to be
divided from top to bottom; at the foot I see a sort of cave, or grotto,
already made."

[Illustration: "We saw at the entrance of the cave two large brown

At this moment Jack uttered a piercing cry, and came running to us, his
lasso in his hand: "Two monstrous beasts!" cried he. "Help! help!" We
rushed forward, our guns ready, and saw at the entrance of the cave two
large brown bears. The black bear, whose fur is most valued, is only
found in cold and mountainous countries; but the brown prefers the
south. It is a carnivorous animal, considered very ferocious. The black
bear lives only on vegetables and honey. Of these, the one I judged to
be the female seemed much irritated, uttering deep growls, and furiously
gnashing her teeth. As I knew something of these animals, having met
with them on the Alps, I remembered having heard that a sharp whistling
terrifies and checks them. I therefore whistled as long and loudly as I
could, and immediately saw the female retire backwards into the cave,
while the male, raising himself on his hind legs, stood quite still,
with his paws closed. My two elder sons fired into his breast: he fell
down, but being only wounded, turned furiously on us. I fired a third
shot at him, and finished him. We then hastened to load our guns again,
to be ready to receive his companion. Jack wished to use his lasso; but
I explained to him that the legs of the bear were too short and thick
for such a measure to be successful. He related to us, that having
entered the cave, he saw something moving at the bottom; he took up a
stone, and threw it with all his strength at the object; immediately he
heard a frightful growling, and saw two large beasts coming towards him;
he had barely time to escape and call for help, and then to hide himself
behind a tree. To save ourselves from the other bear, it was necessary
that we should take some prompt measures; we therefore advanced, and
formed a line

* * * * *

[Transcriber's note: There are two pages unavailable for scanning (pages
284-285) from the original book. I was unable to find this exact story
in other editions.]

* * * * *

the whole valley, which could not be. It was
a gentle stream, gushing from a perpendicular
rock, which reminded me of the source of the
river Orbe, in the Canton of Vaud; it issued
forth in its full width, rolling at first over a rocky
bed; then forming a graceful bend, it took its
course towards the great bay, and fell in a cascade
into the sea. We remained some time here
to fill our gourds, drinking moderately, and taking
a bath, which refreshed us all greatly.

The evening was approaching, and we began to fear we should not reach
home before night. I had warned my wife that there was a possibility
that we might be delayed, though I could not then anticipate the cause
of our delay. We endeavoured, however, by walking as quickly as we
could, and resting no more, to reach our farm at any rate. We followed
the course of the river, on the opposite shore of which rose a wide
plain, where we saw the herd of buffaloes quietly grazing, ruminating,
and drinking, without paying the slightest attention to us. We thought
we distinguished some other quadrupeds amongst them, which Fritz was
certain were zebras or onagras; but certainly not his dear gazelle, for
which he had incessantly looked round. Jack was in despair that the
river separated us from the buffaloes, so that he could not cast his
lasso round the legs of one of them, as he had promised Ernest. He even
wished to swim across the stream, to have a hunt; but I forbade him,
encouraging him to hope that perhaps a single buffalo might cross to our
side, and throw itself in the way of his lasso. I was far from wishing
such a thing myself, for we had no time to lose, nor any means to
secure and lead it home, should we succeed in capturing one, not having
any cords with us; and moreover, intending to return from the bay in the
canoe. When we arrived at the bay, the night, which comes on rapidly in
equinoctial countries, had almost closed. We were scarcely able to see,
without terror, the changes that the late storm had occasioned; the
narrow pass which led from the other side of the island, between the
river and a deep stream that flowed from the rocks, was entirely
obstructed with rocks and earth fallen upon it; and to render our
passage practicable, it was necessary to undertake a labour that the
darkness now prevented, and which would at any time be attended by
danger. We were obliged then to spend the night in the open air, and
separated from our dear and anxious friends at Tent House. Fortunately,
Fritz had collected a store of bread-fruit for his mother, with which he
had filled his own pockets and those of his brothers. These, with water
from the river, formed our supper; for we had nothing but the bone of
our leg of mutton left. We turned back a little way, to establish
ourselves under a clump of trees, where we were in greater safety; we
loaded our muskets, we kindled a large fire of dry branches, and
recommending ourselves to the protection of God, we lay ourselves down
on the soft moss to wait for the first rays of light. With the exception
of Jack, who from the first slept as if he had been in his bed, we none
of us could rest. The night was beautiful; a multitude of stars shone
over our heads in the ethereal vault. Ernest was never tired of gazing
on them. After some questions and suppositions on the plurality of
worlds, their courses and their distances, he quitted us to wander on
the borders of the river, which reflected them in all their brilliancy.
From this night his passion for astronomy commenced, a passion which he
carried beyond all others. This became his favourite and continual
study, nor did he fall far short of Duval, whose history he had read.
Whilst he was engaged in contemplation, Fritz and I conversed on our
projects for tunnelling to the grotto, and on the utility of such a
passage, as this side of the island was quite lost to us, from the
difficulty in reaching it. "And yet," said I, "it is to this difficulty
we owe the safety we have enjoyed. Who can say that the bears and the
buffaloes may not find the way through the grotto? I confess I am not
desirous of their visits, nor even of those of the onagras. Who knows
but they might persuade your favourite Lightfoot to return and live
amongst them? Liberty has many charms. Till now, we have been very happy
on our side of the island, without the productions of this. My dear boy,
there is a proverb, 'Let _well_ alone,' Let us not have too much
ambition,--it has ruined greater states than ours."

Fritz seemed grieved to give up his plan, and suggested that he could
forge some strong bars of iron to place before the opening, which could
be removed at will.

"But," said I, "they will not prevent the snakes from passing
underneath. I have noticed some with terror, as they are animals I have
a great antipathy to; and if your mother saw one crawl into her grotto,
she would never enter it again; even if she did not die of fright."

"Well, we must give it up," said Fritz; "but it is a pity. Do you
think, father, there are more bears in the island than those we killed?"

"In all probability," said I; "it is scarcely to be supposed that there
should only be two. I cannot well account for their being here. They can
swim very well, and perhaps the abundance of fruit in this part of the
island may have attracted them." I then gave my son a short account of
their manners and habits, from the best works on the history of
these animals.

* * * * *


Whilst we continued to talk and to admire the beauty of the stars, they
at length began to fade away before the first light of morning. Ernest
returned to us, and we awoke Jack, who had slept uninterruptedly, and
was quite unconscious where he was. We returned to the pass, which now,
by the light of day, seemed to us in a more hopeless state than in the
dusk of evening. I was struck with consternation: it appeared to me that
we were entirely enclosed at this side; and I shuddered to think of
crossing the island again, to pass round at the other end, of the risk
we should run of meeting wild beasts, and of the painful and perilous
passage along the coral reefs. At that moment I would gladly have

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