About three miles from my grotto I met with a large space of ground full of a low plant, growing only with a single woody stalk half a foot high, and from thence issued a round head, about a foot or ten inches diameter, but quite flat, about three-quarters of an inch thick, and just like a cream-cheese standing upon its edge: these grew so close together, that upon the least wind stirring, their heads rattled against each other very musically; for though the stalks were so very strong that they would not easily either bend or break, yet the fanning of the wind upon the broad heads twisting the stalks, so as to let the heads strike each other, they made a most agreeable sound.
I stood some time admiring this shrub, and then cutting up one of them, I found it weighed about two pounds; they had a tough green rind or covering, very smooth, and the inside full of a stringy pulp, quite white. In short, I made divers other trials of berries, roots, herbs, and what else I could find, but received little satisfaction from any of them for fear of bad qualities. I returned back ruminating on what things I had seen, resolving to take my cart the next walk, and bring it home loaded with different kinds of them, in order to make my trials thereof at leisure: but my cart being too flat and wanting sides, I considered it would carry very little, and that what it would otherwise bear, on that account, must tumble and roll off, so I made a fire and turned smith; for with a great deal to do breaking off the wards of a large key I had, and making it red-hot, I by degrees fashioned it into a kind of spindle, and therewith making holes quite round the bottom of my cart, in them I stuck up sticks about two feet high that I had tapered at the end to fit them.
Having thus qualified my cart for a load, I proceeded with it to the wood, and cutting a small quantity of each species of green, berry, fruit, and flower that I could find, and packing them severally in parcels, I returned at night heavy-laden, and held a council with myself what use they could most properly be applied to.
I had amongst my goods, as I said, a copper-kettle which held about a gallon: this I set over my fire and boiled something by turns of every sort in it, watching all the while, and with a stick stirring and raising up one thing and then another, to feel when they were boiled tender: but of upwards of twenty greens which I thus dressed, only one proved eatable, all the rest becoming more stringy, tough, and insipid for the cooking. The one I have excepted was a round, thick, woolly-leafed plant, which boiled tender and tasted as well as spinach; I therefore preserved some leaves of this to know it again by; and for distinction called it by the name of that herb.
I then began upon my fruits of the pear and quince kind, at least eight different sorts; but I found I could make nothing of them, for they were most of them as rough and crabbed after stewing as before, so I laid them all aside. Lastly, I boiled my ram's-horn and cream-cheese, as I called them, together. Upon tasting the latter of these, it was become so watery and insipid, I laid it aside as useless. I then cut the other and tasted the juice, which proved so exceeding pleasant that I took a large gulp or two of it, and tossed it into the kettle again.
Having now gone through the several kinds of my exotics, I had a mind to re-examine them after cooling, but could make nothing of any of my greens but the spinach. I tried several berries and nuts too, but, save a few sort of nuts, they were all very tasteless. Then I began to review the fruits, and could find but two sorts that I had any the least hopes from. I then laid the best by and threw the others away. After this process, which took me up near a whole day, and clearing my house of good-for-nothings, I returned to reexamine my cheese, that was grown cold, and was now so dry and hard I could not get my teeth into it; upon which I was going to skim it away out of my grotto, saying, "Go, thou worthless!" (for I always spoke aloud my thoughts to myself)—I say I was just despatching it when I checked my hands, and as I could make no impression with my teeth, had a mind to try what my knife would do. Accordingly I began at the edge of the quarter, for I had boiled but a quarter of it, but the rind was grown so hard and brittle that my knife slipping and raking along the cut edge of it, scratched off some powder as white as possible; I then scraped it backward and forward some time, till I found it would all scrape away in this powder, except the rind, upon which I laid it aside again for farther experiment.
During this review my kettle and ram's-horn had been boiling, till hearing it blubber very loud, and seeing there was but little liquor in it, I whipped it off the fire, for fear of burning its bottom, but took no further notice of it till about two hours after; when returning to the grotto, I went to wash out my kettle, but could scarce get my ram's-horn from the bottom; and when I did, it brought up with it a sort of pitchy substance, though not so black, and several gummy threads hanging to it, drawn out to a great length. I wondered at this, and thought the shell of the ram's-horn had melted, or some such thing, till, venturing to put a little of the stuff on my tongue, it proved to my thinking as good treacle as I had ever tasted.
This new discovery pleased me very much. I scraped all the sweet thing up, and laid it near my grotto in a large leaf of one of the trees (about two feet long, and broad in proportion) to prevent its running about. In getting this curiosity out of my kettle, I found in it a small piece of my cheese, which I suppose had been broke off in stirring; and biting it (for it was soft enough) I think it was the most luscious and delicate morsel I ever put into my lips. This unexpected good fortune put me on trying the best of my pears again; so setting on my kettle, with very little water, and putting some of my treacle into it, and two of the best pears quartered, I found, upon a little boiling, they also became an excellent dainty.
Having succeeded so well, I was quite ripe for another journey with my cart; which I accordingly undertook, taking my route over the stone bridge, to see what the other side of the lake produced. In travelling through the trees, I met, amongst other things, with abundance of large gourds, which, climbing the trees, displayed their fruit to the height of twenty or thirty feet above the ground. I cut a great many of these, and some very large ones of different hues and forms; which of themselves making a great load, with some few new sorts of berries and greens, were the gathering of that day. But I must tell you I was almost foiled in getting them home; for coming to my stone bridge, it rose so steep, and was so much ruggeder than the grass or wood ground, that I was at a set upon the first entrance and terribly afraid that I should either break my wheels or pull off my axle-trees. Hereupon I was forced to unload, and carry my cargo over in my arms to the other side of the bridge; whither having then, with less fear but much caution, drawn my cart, I loaded again and got safe home.
I was mightily pleased with the acquisitions of this journey; for now, thought I, I shall have several convenient family utensils; so spent the next day or two in scooping my gourds and cleaning away the pulp. When I had done this, finding the rinds to be very weak and yielding, I made a good fire, and setting them round it at a moderate distance to dry, I went about something else without doors: but, alas! my hopes were ill founded; for coming home to turn my gourds and see how dry they were, I found them all warped and turned into a variety of uncouth shapes. This put me to a stand; but, however, I recovered some pieces of them for use, as the bottom parts of most of them, after paring away the sides, would hold something, though they by no means answered my first purpose.
Well, thought I, what if I have lost my gourds, I have gained experience. I will dry them next time with the guts in, and having stiffened their rinds in their proper dimensions, then try to cleanse them. So next morning (for I was very eager at it) I set out with my cart for another load; and having handed them over the bridge, got safe with them to the grotto. These by proper management proved exceedingly valuable to me, answering, in one way or other, the several uses of plates, bottles, pans, and divers other vessels.
I now got a large quantity of the vegetable ram's-horn, and filled a great many of the gourds with the treacle it yielded; I also boiled and dried a large parcel of my cheeses, and hung them up for use, for I had now for some time made all my bread of the latter, scraping and bruising the flour, and mixing it with my treacle and water; and this indeed made such a sweet and nourishing bread, that I could even have lived wholly upon it; but I afterwards very much improved it by putting the milky juice of the ram's-horn, unboiled, to my flour in a small quantity, and then baking it on the hearth, covered over with embers. This detracted nothing from the sweetness and mellowness of my bread, but made it much lighter than the treacle alone would have done.
Finding there was no fear of starving, but so far from it, that from day to day I found out something new to add to my repast, either in substantials or by way of dessert, I set me down very well contented with my condition. I had nothing to do but to lay up store against sickness and the dark weather, which last I expected would soon be upon me, as the days were now exceeding short. Indeed, though I had now been here six months, I had never seen the sun since I first entered the gulf; and though there was very little rain, and but few clouds, yet the brightest daylight never exceeded that of half an hour after sunset in the summer-time in England, and little more than just reddened the sky. For the first part of my time here, there was but little if any difference between day and night; but afterwards, what I might call the night, or lesser degree of light, took up more hours than the greater, and went on gradually increasing as to time, so that I perceived total darkness approached, such as I had on board my ship the year before.
The author lays in a store against the dark weather-Hears voices—His thoughts thereon—Persuades himself it was a dream—Hears them again—Determines to see if any one lodged in the rock—Is satisfied there is nobody—Observations on what he saw—Finds a strong weed like whipcord—Makes a drag-net—Lengthens it—Catches a monster—Its description— Makes oil of it
I had now well stored my grotto with all sorts of winter provisions, and feeling the weather grow very cold, I expected and waited patiently for the total darkness. I went little abroad, and employed myself within doors endeavouring to fence against the approaching extremity of the cold. For this purpose I prepared a quantity of rushes, which being very dry, I spread them smoothly on the floor of my bed-chamber a good thickness, and over them I laid my mattress. Then I made a double sheet of the boat's awning or sail, that I had brought to cover my goods; and having skewered together several of the jackets and clothes I found in the chest, of them I made a coverlid; so that I lay very commodiously, and made very long nights of it now the dark season was set in.
As I lay awake one night, or day, I know not which, I very plainly heard the sound of several human voices, and sometimes very loud; but though I could easily distinguish the articulations, I could not understand the least word that was said; nor did the voices seem at all to me like such as I had anywhere heard before, but much softer and more musical. This startled me, and I rose immediately, slipping on my clothes and taking my gun in my hand (which I always kept charged, being my constant travelling companion) and my cutlass. Thus equipped, I walked into my ante-chamber, where I heard the voices much plainer, till after some little time they by degrees died quite away. After watching here, and hearkening a good while, hearing nothing, I walked back into the grotto, and laid me down again on my bed. I was inclined to open the door of my ante-chamber, but I own I was afraid; besides, I considered that if I did, I could discover nothing at any distance by reason of the thick and gloomy wood that enclosed me.
I had a thousand different surmises about the meaning of this odd incident; and could not conceive how any human creatures should be in my kingdom (as I called it) but myself, and I never yet see them, or any trace of their habitation. But then again I reflected, that though I had surrounded the whole lake, yet I had not traced the out-bounds of the wood next the rock, where there might be innumerable grottoes like mine; nay, perhaps some as spacious as that I had sailed through to the lake; and that though I had not perceived it, yet this beautiful spot might be very well peopled. But, says I again, if there be any such beings as I am fancying here, surely they don't skulk in their dens, like savage beasts, by daylight, and only patrole for prey by night; if so, I shall probably become a delicious morsel for them ere long, if they meet with me. This kept me still more within doors than before, and I hardly ever stirred out but for water or firing. At length, hearing no more voices, nor seeing any one, I began to be more composed in my mind, and at last grew persuaded it was all a mere delusion, and only a fancy of mine, without any real foundation; and sometimes, though I was sure I was fully awake when I heard them, I persuaded myself I had rose in my sleep, upon a dream of voices, and recollected with myself the various stories I had heard when a boy of walking in one's sleep, and the surprising effects of it; so the whole notion was now blown over.
I had not enjoyed my tranquillity above a week, before my fears were roused afresh, hearing the same sound of voices twice the same night, but not many minutes at a time. What gave me most pain was that they were at such a distance, as I judged by the languor of the sound, that if I had opened my door I could not have seen the utterers through the trees, and I was resolved not to venture out; but then I determined, if they should come again anything near my grotto, to open the door, see who they were, and stand upon my defence, whatever came of it: For, says I, my entrance is so narrow and high that more than one cannot come at a time; and I can with ease despatch twenty of them before they can secure me, if they should be savages; but if they prove sensible human creatures, it will be a great benefit to me to join myself to their society. Thus had I formed my scheme, but I heard no more of them for a great while; so that at length beginning to grow ashamed of my fears, I became tranquil again.
The day now returning, and with it my labours, I applied to my usual callings; but my mind ran strangely upon viewing the rock quite round, that is, the whole circuit of my dominions; for, thinks I, there may possibly be an outlet through the rock into some other country, from whence the persons I heard may come. As soon therefore as the days grew towards the longest, I prepared for my progress. Having lived so well at home since my settlement, I did not care to trust only to what I could pick up in the woods for my subsistence during this journey, which would not only take up time in procuring, but perhaps not agree with me; so I resolved to carry a supply with me, proportionate to the length of my perambulation. Hereupon considering that though my walk round the lake was finished in two days, yet as I now intended to go round by the rock, the way would be much longer and perhaps more troublesome than that was; remembering also my journey with Glanlepze in Africa, and how much I complained of the fruits we carried for our subsistence; these circumstances, I say, laying together, I resolved to load the cart with a variety of food, bread and fruits especially, and draw that with me.
Thus provided, I sallied forth with great cheerfulness, and proceeded in the main easily; though in some places I was forced to make way with my hatchet, the ground was so over-run with underwood. I very narrowly viewed the rock as I went, bottom and sides, all the way, but could see nothing like a passage through it, or indeed any more than one opening, or inlet, which I entered for about thirty yards, but it was not above three feet wide, and terminated in the solid rock.
After some days' travel (making all the observations I could on the several plants, shrubs, and trees which I met with, particularly where any of these occurred to me entirely new), finding myself a little faintish, I had a mind for a sup of ram's-horn juice; so I cut me one, but upon opening it found therein only a pithy pulp, and noways fit to taste. I supposed by this I was too early for the milk, it being three months later the last year when I cut them. Hereon, seeing one upon another shrub, which by its rusty colour I judged might have hung all the winter, I opened that, and found it full of milk; but putting some of it into my mouth, it was as sour as any vinegar I ever tasted in my life. So, thinks I (and said so too; for, as I told you before, I always spoke out), here's sauce for something when I want it; and this gave me a hint to store myself with these gourds, to hang by for vinegar the next winter.
By this time I had come almost to my rill, when I entered upon a large plat of ground miserably over-run with weeds, matted together very thick. These choked up my wheels in such a manner that I could neither free them with my hands, nor get either backwards or forwards, they binding my cart down like so many cords; so that I was obliged to cut my way back again with my hatchet, and take a sweep round in the wood, on the outside of these weeds.
In all my life I never saw anything of its size, for it was no thicker than a whipcord, so strong as this weed; and what raised my wonder was the length of it, for I drew out pieces of it near fifty feet long, and even they were broken at the end, so that it might be as long again for aught I know, for it was so matted and twisted together, that it was a great trial of patience to untangle it; but that which was driest, and to me looked the rottenest and weakest, I found to be much the strongest. Upon examination of its parts, I discovered it to be composed of an infinite number of small threads, spirally overlaying and enfolding one another.
As I saw but few things that I could not find a use for, so this I perceived would serve all the common purposes of packthread; a thing I was often in want of. This inclined me to take a load of it home with me. Indeed the difficulty of getting a quantity in the condition I desired it, puzzled me a little; for, says I, if I cut up a good deal of it with my hatchet, as I first designed, I shall only have small lengths, good for little, and to get it in pieces of any considerable length, so as to be of service, will require much time and labour. But reflecting how much I needed it, and of what benefit it would be, I resolved to make a trial of what I could do; so, without more hesitation, I went to work, and cutting a fibre close to its root, I extricated that thread from all its windings, just as one does an entangled whipcord. When I had thus disengaged a sufficient length, I cut that off, and repeating the like operation, in about three hours' time, but with no little toil, I made up my load of different lengths just to my liking. Having finished this task, I filled the gourd, brought for that purpose, with water; and having first viewed the whole remaining part of the rock, I returned over the stone bridge home again.
This journey, though it took me up several days, and was attended with some fatigue, had yet given me great satisfaction; for now I was persuaded I could not have one rival or enemy to fear in my whole dominions. And from the impossibility, as I supposed, of there being any, or of the ingress of any, unless by the same passage I entered at, and by which I was well assured they could never return, I grew contented, and blamed myself for the folly of my imaginary voices, as I called them then, and took it for a distemper of the fancy only.
The next day I looked over my load of matweed, having given it that name, and separated the different lengths from each other. I then found I had several pieces between forty and fifty feet long, of which I resolved to get a good number more, to make me a drag-net that I might try for some fish in the lake. A day or two after, therefore, I brought home another load of it Then I picked out a smooth level spot upon the green-sward, and having prepared a great number of short wooden pegs, I strained a line of the matweed about ten feet long, tying it at each end to a peg, and stuck a row of pegs along by that line, about two inches asunder; I next strained another line of the same length, parallel to that, at the distance of forty feet from it, and stuck pegs thereby, corresponding to the former row; and from each peg on one side, to the opposite peg on the other, I tied a like length of my mat-line, quite through the whole number of pegs; when the work looked like the inside of a harpsichord. I afterwards drove pegs in like manner along the whole length of the two outermost longer lines, and tied shorter lines to them, so that the whole affair then represented the squares of a racket; the corners of each of which squares I tied very tight with smaller pieces of the line, till I had formed a complete net of forty feet long and ten wide.
When I had finished my net, as I thought, I wrapped several stones in rags, and fastened them to the bottom to sink it, and some of the smallest unscooped dry gourds to the top, to keep that part buoyant. I now longed to begin my new trade, and carried the net to my boat with that intention; but after two or three hauls I found it would not answer for want of length (though by chance I caught a blackish fish without scales, a little bigger than whiting, but much longer, which stuck by the gills in it); so I left the net in the boat, resolving to make an addition to it with all speed; and returning to my grotto, I supped on the fish I had taken and considered how to pursue my enterprise with better effect.
I provided me with another large parcel of line; and having brought two more lengths to perfection, I joined all together, and fixing one end on shore, by a pole I had cut for that purpose, I launched my boat, with the other end in it, taking a sweep the length of my net round to my stick again, and getting on shore, hauled up my net by both ends together. I found now I had mended my instrument, and taken a proper way of applying it; for by this means, in five hauls, I caught about sixteen fish of three or four different sorts, and one shell-fish, almost like a lobster, but without great claws, and with a very small short tail; which made me think, as the body was thrice as long as a lobster's in proportion, that it did not swim backwards, like that creature, but only crawled forwards (it having lobsterlike legs, but much shorter and stronger), and that the legs all standing so forward, its tail was, by its motion, to keep the hinder part of the body from dragging upon the ground, as I observed it did when the creature walked on land, it then frequently flacking its short tail.
These fish made me rich in provisions. Some of them I ate fresh, and the remainder I salted down. But of all the kinds, my lobster was the most delicious food, and made me almost three meals.
Thus finding there were fish to be had, though my present tackle seemed suitable enough to my family, yet could I not rest till I had improved my fishery by enlarging my net; for as it was, even with my late addition, I must either sweep little or no compass of ground, or it would have no bag behind me. Upon this I set to work and shortly doubled the dimensions of it. I had then a mind to try it at the mouth of my rill; so taking it with me the next time I crossed the lake for water, and fastening it to my pole, close by the right side of the rill, I swept a long compass round to the left, and closing the ends, attempted to draw it up in the hollow cut of the rill. But by the time I had gathered up two-thirds of the net, I felt a resistance that quite amazed me. In short, I was not able to stand against the force I felt. Whereupon sitting down in the rill, and clapping my feet to the two sides of it, I exerted all my strength, till finally I became conqueror, and brought up so shocking a monster, that I was just rising to run for my life on the sight of it. But recollecting that the creature was hampered, and could not make so much resistance on the land as in the water, I ventured to drag the net up as far from the rill as my strength and breath would permit me; and then running to the boat for my gun, I returned to the net to examine my prize. Indeed, I had not instantly resolution enough to survey it, and when at length I assumed courage enough to do so, I could not perfectly distinguish the parts, they were so discomposed; but taking hold of one end of the net, I endeavoured to disentangle the thing, and then drawing the net away, a most surprising sight presented itself: the creature reared upright, about three feet high, covered all over with long, black shaggy hair, like a bear, which hung down from his head and neck quite along his back and sides. He had two fins, very broad and large, which, as he stood erect, looked like arms, and these he waved and whirled about with incredible velocity; and though I wondered at first at it, I found afterwards it was the motion of these fins that kept him upright; for I perceived when they ceased their motion he fell flat on his belly. He had two very large feet, which he stood upon, but could not run, and but barely walk on them, which made me in the less haste to despatch him; and after he had stood upon his feet about four minutes, clapping his fins to his sides, he fell upon his belly.
When I found he could not attack me, I was moving closer to him; but upon sight of my stirring, up he rose again, and whirled his fins about as before so long as he stood. And now I viewed him round, and found he had no tail at all, and that his hinder fins, or feet, very much resembled a large frog's, but were at least ten inches broad, and eighteen long, from heel to toe; and his legs were so short that when he stood upright his breech bore upon the ground. His belly, which he kept towards me, was of an ash-colour, and very broad, as also was his breast His eyes were small and blue, with a large black sight in the middle, and rather of an oval than round make. He had a long snout like a boar, and vast teeth. Thus having surveyed him near half an hour living, I made him rise up once more and shot him in the breast. He fell, and giving a loud howl, or groan, expired.
I had then time to see what else I had caught; and turning over the net, found a few of the same fish I had taken before, and some others of a flat-tish make, and one little lump of flesh unformed; which last, by all I could make of it, seemed to be either a spawn or young one of that I had shot.
The great creature was so heavy, I was afraid I must have cut him in pieces to get him to the boat; but with much ado, having stowed the rest, I tumbled him on board. I then filled my water-cask and rowed homewards. Being got to land, I was obliged to bring down my cart, to carry my great beast-fish, as I termed him, up to the grotto. When I had got him thither, I had a notion of first tasting, and then, if I liked his flesh, of salting him down and drying him; so, having flayed him and taken out the guts and entrails, I boiled a piece of him; but it made such a blaze that most of the fat ran into the fire, and the flesh proved so dry and rank that I could no ways endure it.
I then began to be sorry I had taken so much pains for no profit, and had endangered my net into the bargain (for that had got a crack or two in the scuffle), and was thinking to throw away my large but worthless acquisition.
However, as I was now prone to weighing all things, before I threw it away I resolved to consider a little; whereupon I changed my mind. Says I, Here is a good warm skin, which, when dry, will make me a rare cushion. Again, I have for a long while had no light beside that of the day; but now as this beast's fat makes such a blaze in the fire, and issues in so great a quantity from such a small piece as I broiled, why may not I boil a good tallow or oil out of it? and if I can, I have not made so bad a hand of my time as I thought for.
In short, I went immediately to work upon this subject (for I never let a project cool after I had once started it), and boiled as much of the flesh as the kettle would hold, and letting it stand to cool, I found it turned out very good oil for burning; though I confess I thought it would rather have made tallow. This success quickened my industry; and I repeated the operation till I got about ten quarts of this stuff, which very well rewarded my labour. After I had extracted as much oil as I could from the beast-fish, the creature having strongly impressed my imagination, I conceived a new fancy in relation to it; and that was, having heard him make a deep, howling groan at his death, I endeavoured to persuade myself, and at last verily believed, that the voices I had so often heard in the dark weather proceeded from numbers of these creatures, diverting themselves in the lake, or sporting together on the shore; and this thought, in its turn, contributed to ease my apprehensions in that respect.
The author passes the summer pleasantly—Hears the voices in the winter—Ventures out—Sees a strange sight on the lake— His uneasiness at it—His dream—Soliloquy—Hears the voices again, and perceives a great shock on his building— Takes up a beautiful woman—He thinks her dead, but recovers her—A description of her—She stays with him
I passed the summer (though I had never yet seen the sun's body) very much to my satisfaction: partly in the work I have been describing (for I had taken two more of the beast-fish, and had a great quantity of oil from them); partly in building me a chimney in my ante-chamber of mud and earth burnt on my own hearth into a sort of brick; in making a window at one end of the abovesaid chamber, to let in what little light would come through the trees when I did not choose to open my door; in moulding an earthen lamp for my oil; and, finally, in providing and laying in stores, fresh and salt (for I had now cured and dried many more fish), against winter. These, I say, were my summer employments at home, intermixed with many agreeable excursions. But now the winter coming on, and the days growing very short, or indeed there being no day properly speaking, but a kind of twilight, I kept mostly in my habitation, though not so much as I had done the winter before, when I had no light within doors, and slept, or at least lay still, great part of my time; for now my lamp was never out. I also turned two of my beast-fish skins into a rug to cover my bed, and the third into a cushion, which I always sat upon, and a very soft and warm cushion it made. All this together rendered my life very easy, yea, even comfortable.
An indifferent person would now be apt to ask, What would this man desire more than he had? To this I answer, that I was contented while my condition was such as I have been describing; but a little while after the darkness or twilight came on, I frequently heard the voices again; sometimes a few only at a time, as it seemed, and then again in great numbers. This threw me into new fears, and I became as uneasy as ever, even to the degree of growing quite melancholy; though, otherwise, I never received the least injury from anything. I foolishly attempted several times, by looking out of my window, to discover what these odd sounds proceeded from, though I knew it was too dark to see anything there.
I was now fully convinced, by a more deliberate attention to them, that they could not be uttered by the beast-fish, as I had afore conjectured, but only by beings capable of articulate speech; but then, what or where they were, it galled me to be ignorant of.
At length, one night or day, I cannot say which, hearing the voices very distinctly, and praying very earnestly to be either delivered from the uncertainty they had put me under, or to have them removed from me, I took courage, and arming myself with gun, pistols, and cutlass, I went out of my grotto and crept down the wood. I then heard them plainer than before, and was able to judge from what point of the compass they proceeded. Hereupon I went forward towards the sound, till I came to the verge of the wood, where I could see the lake very well by the dazzle of the water. Thereon, as I thought, I beheld a fleet of boats, covering a large compass, and not far from the bridge. I was shocked hereat beyond expression. I could not conceive where they came from, or whither they would go; but supposed there must be some other passage to the lake than I had found in my voyage through the cavern, and that for certain they came that way, and from some place of which as yet I had no manner of knowledge.
Whilst I was entertaining myself with this speculation, I heard the people in the boats laughing and talking very merrily, though I was too distant to distinguish the words. I discerned soon after all the boats (as I still supposed 'em) draw up, and push for the bridge; presently after, though I was sure no boat entered the arch, I saw a multitude of people on the opposite shore all marching towards the bridge; and what was the strangest of all, there was not the least sign of a boat now left upon the whole lake. I then was in a greater consternation than before; but was still much more so when I saw the whole posse of people, that as I have just said were marching towards the bridge, coming over it to my side of the lake. At this my heart failed, and I was just going to run to my grotto for shelter; but taking one look more, I plainly discovered that the people, leaping one after another from the top of the bridge, as if into the water, and then rising again, flew in a long train over the lake, the lengthways of it, quite out of my sight, laughing, hallooing, and sporting together; so that looking back again to the bridge and on the lake, I could neither see person nor boat, nor anything else, nor hear the least noise or stir afterwards for that time.
I returned to my grotto brimful of this amazing adventure, bemoaning my misfortune in being at a place where I was like to remain ignorant of what was doing about me. For, says I, if I am in a land of spirits, as now I have little room to doubt, there is no guarding against them. I am never safe, even in my grotto; for that can be no security against such beings as can sail on the water in no boats, and fly in the air on no wings, as the case now appears to me, who can be here and there and wherever they please. What a miserable state, I say, am I fallen to! I should have been glad to have had human converse, and to have found inhabitants in this place; but there being none, as I supposed hitherto, I contented myself with thinking that I was at least safe from all those evils mankind in society are obnoxious to. But now, what may be the consequence of the next hour I know not; nay, I am not able to say but whilst I speak, and show my discontent, they may at a distance conceive my thoughts, and be hatching revenge against me for my dislike of them.
The pressure of my spirits inclining me to repose, I laid me down, but could get no rest; nor could all my most serious thoughts, even of the Almighty Providence, give me relief under my present anxiety: and all this was only from my state of uncertainty concerning the reality of what I had heard and seen, and from the earnestness with which I coveted a satisfactory knowledge of those beings who had just taken their flight from me.
I really believe the fiercest wild beast, or the most savage of mankind that had met me, and put me upon my defence, would not have given me half the trouble that then lay upon me; and the more, for that I had no seeming possibility of ever being rid of my apprehensions: so finding I could not sleep, I got up again; but as I could not fly from myself, all the art I could use with myself was but in vain to obtain me any quiet.
In the height of my distress I had recourse to prayer, with no small benefit; begging that if it pleased not the Almighty Power to remove the object of my fears, at least to resolve my doubts about them, and to render them rather helpful than hurtful to me. I hereupon, as I always did on such occasions, found myself much more placid and easy, and began to hope the best, till I had almost persuaded myself that I was out of danger; and then laying myself down, I rested very sweetly till I was awakened by the impulse of the following dream.
Methought I was in Cornwall, at my wife's aunt's; and inquiring after her and my children, the old gentlewoman informed me, both my wife and children had been dead some time, and that my wife, before her departure, desired her (that is, her aunt) immediately upon my arrival to tell me she was only gone to the lake, where I should be sure to see her, and be happy with her ever after. I then, as I fancied, ran to the lake to find her. In my passage she stopped me, crying, "Whither so fast, Peter? I am your wife, your Patty." Methought I did not know her, she was so altered; but observing her voice, and looking more wistfully at her, she appeared to me as the most beautiful creature I ever beheld. I then went to seize her in my arms; but the hurry of my spirits awakened me.
When I got up, I kept at home, not caring even to look out at my door. My dream ran strangely in my head, and I had now nothing but Patty in my mind. "Oh!" cries I, "how happy could I be with her, though I had only her in this solitude. Oh! that this was but a reality, and not a dream." And indeed, though it was but a dream, I could scarce refrain from running to the lake to meet my Patty. But then I checked my folly, and reasoned myself into some degree of temper again. However, I could not forbear crying out, "What, nobody to converse with! Nobody to assist, comfort, or counsel me! This is a melancholy situation indeed." Thus I ran on lamenting till I was almost weary, when on a sudden I again heard the voices. "Hark!" says I, "here they come again. Well, I am now resolved to face them, come life, come death! It is not to be alone I thus dread; but to have company about me, and not know who or what, is death to me worse than I can suffer from them, be they who or what they will."
During my soliloquy the voices increased, and then by degrees diminished as usual; but I had scarce got my gun in my hand, to pursue my resolution of showing myself to those who uttered them, when I felt such a thump upon the roof of my ante-chamber as shook the whole fabric and set me all over into a tremor. I then heard a sort of shriek, and a rustle near the door of my apartment; all which together seemed very terrible. But I, having before determined to see what and who it was, resolutely opened my door and leaped out I saw nobody; all was quite silent, and nothing that I could perceive but my own fears amoving. I went then softly to the corner of the building, and there looking down, by the glimmer of my lamp which stood in the window, I saw something in human shape lying at my feet. I gave the word, "Who is there?" Still no one answered. My heart was ready to force a way through my side. I was for a while fixed to the earth like a statue. At length, recovering, I stepped in, fetched my lamp, and returning saw the very beautiful face my Patty appeared under in my dream; and not considering that it was only a dream, I verily thought I had my Patty before me; but she seemed to be stone dead. Upon viewing her other parts (for I had never yet removed my eyes from her face), I found she had a sort of brown chaplet, like lace, round her head, under and about which her hair was tucked up and twined; and she seemed to me to be clothed in a thin hair-coloured silk garment, which, upon trying to raise her, I found to be quite warm, and therefore hoped there was life in the body it contained. I then took her into my arms, and treading a step backwards with her, I put out my lamp; however, having her in my arms, I conveyed her through the doorway in the dark into my grotto; here I laid her upon my bed, and then ran out for my lamp.
This, thinks I, is an amazing adventure. How could Patty come here, and dressed in silk and whalebone too? Sure that is not the reigning fashion in England now? But my dream said she was dead. Why, truly, says I, so she seems to be. But be it so; she is warm. Whether this is the place for persons to inhabit after death or not, I can't tell (for I see there are people here, though I don't know them); but be it as it will, she feels as flesh and blood; and if I can but bring her to stir and act again as my wife, what matters it to me what she is? It will be a great blessing and comfort to me; for she never would have come to this very spot but for my good.
Top-full of these thoughts, I re-entered my grotto, shut my door and lighted my lamp; when going to my Patty (as I delighted to fancy her), I thought I saw her eyes stir a little. I then set the lamp farther off for fear of offending them if she should look up; and warming the last glass I had reserved of my Madeira, I carried it to her, but she never stirred. I now supposed the fall had absolutely killed her, and was prodigiously grieved; when laying my hand on her breast I perceived the fountain of life had some motion. This gave me infinite pleasure; so, not despairing, I dipped my finger in the wine and moistened her lips with it two or three times, and I imagined they opened a little. Upon this I bethought me, and taking a teaspoon, I gently poured a few drops of the wine by that means into her mouth. Finding she swallowed it, I poured in another spoonful, and another, till I brought her to herself so well as to be able to sit up. All this I did by a glimmering light which the lamp afforded from a distant part of the room, where I had placed it, as I have said, out of her sight.
I then spoke to her, and asked divers questions, as if she had really been Patty and understood me; in return of which she uttered a language I had no idea of, though in the most musical tone, and with the sweetest accent I ever heard. It grieved me I could not understand her. However, thinking she might like to be on her feet, I went to lift her off the bed, when she felt to my touch in the oddest manner imaginable; for while in one respect it was as though she had been cased up in whalebone it was at the same time as soft and warm as if she had been naked.
I then took her in my arms and carried her into my ante-chamber again, where I would fain have entered into conversation, but found she and I could make nothing of it together, unless we could understand one another's speech. It is very strange my dream should have prepossessed me so of Patty, and of the alteration of her countenance, that I could by no means persuade myself the person I had with me was not she; though, upon a deliberate comparison, Patty, as pleasing as she always was to my taste, would no more come up to this fair creature than a coarse ale-wife would to Venus herself.
You may imagine we stared heartily at each other, and I doubted not but she wondered as much as I by what means we came so near each other. I offered her everything in my grotto which I thought might please her; some of which she gratefully received, as appeared by her looks and behaviour. But she avoided my lamp, and always placed her back toward it. I observing that, and ascribing it to her modesty in my company, let her have her will, and took care to set it in such a position myself as seemed agreeable to her, though it deprived me of a prospect I very much admired.
After we had sat a good while, now and then, I may say, chattering to one another, she got up and took a turn or two about the room. When I saw her in that attitude, her grace and motion perfectly charmed me, and her shape was incomparable; but the strangeness of her dress put me to my trumps to conceive either what it was, or how it was put on.
Well, we supped together, and I set the best of everything I had before her, nor could either of us forbear speaking in our own tongue, though we were sensible neither of us understood the other. After supper I gave her some of my cordials, for which she showed great tokens of thankfulness, and often in her way, by signs and gestures, which were very far from being insignificant, expressed her gratitude for my kindness. When supper had been some time over, I showed her my bed and made signs for her to go to it; but she seemed very shy of that, till I showed her where I meant to lie myself, by pointing to myself, then to that, and again pointing to her and to my bed. When at length I had made this matter intelligible to her, she lay down very composedly; and after I had taken care of my fire, and set the things I had been using for supper in their places, I laid myself down too; for I could have no suspicious thoughts or fear of danger from a form so excellent.
I treated her for some time with all the respect imaginable, and never suffered her to do the least part of my work. It was very inconvenient to both of us only to know each other's meaning by signs; but I could not be otherwise than pleased to see that she endeavoured all in her power to learn to talk like me. Indeed I was not behindhand with her in that respect, striving all I could to imitate her. What I all the while wondered at was, she never showed the least disquiet at her confinement; for I kept my door shut at first, through fear of losing her, thinking she would have taken an opportunity to run away from me; for little did I then think she could fly.
Wilkin s afraid of losing his new mistress—They live together all winter—A remark on that—They begin to know each other's language—A long discourse between them at cross purposes—She flies—They engage to be man and wife.
After my new love had been with me a fortnight, finding my water run low, I was greatly troubled at the thought of quitting her any time to go for more; and having hinted it to her, with seeming uneasiness, she could not for a while fathom my meaning; but when she saw me much confused, she came at length, by the many signs I made, to imagine it was my concern for her which made me so; whereupon she expressively enough signified I might be easy, for she did not fear anything happening to her in my absence. On this, as well as I could declare my meaning, I entreated her not to go away before my return. As soon as she understood what I signified to her by actions, she sat down, with her arms across, leaning her head against the wall to assure me she would not stir. However, as I had before nailed a cord to the outside of the door, I tied that for caution's sake to the tree, for fear of the worst: but I believe she had not the least design of removing.
I took my boat, net, and water-cask, as usual, desirous of bringing her home a fresh fish dinner, and succeeded so well as to catch enough for several good meals, and to spare. What remained I salted, and found she liked that better than the fresh, after a few days' salting; though she did not so well approve of that I had formerly pickled and dried. As my salt grew very low, though I had been as sparing of it as possible, I now resolved to try making some; and the next summer I effected it.
Thus we spent the remainder of the winter together, till the days began to be light enough for me to walk abroad a little in the middle of them; for I was now under no apprehensions of her leaving me, as she had before this time had so many opportunities of doing so, but never once attempted it.
I must here make one reflection upon our conduct, which you will almost think incredible, viz., that we two, of different sexes, not wanting our peculiar desires, fully inflamed with love to each other, and no outward obstacle to prevent our wishes, should have been together, under the same roof alone for five months, conversing together from morning to night (for by this time she pretty well understood English, and I her language), and yet I should never have clasped her in my arms, or have shown any further amorous desires to her than what the deference I all along paid her could give her room to surmise. Nay, I can affirm that I did not even then know that the covering she wore was not the work of art, but the work of nature, for I really took it for silk; though it must be premised that I had never seen it by any other light than of my lamp. Indeed the modesty of her carriage and sweetness of her behaviour to me had struck into me such a dread of offending her, that though nothing upon earth could be more capable of exciting passion than her charms, I could have died rather than have attempted only to salute her without actual invitation.
When the weather cleared up a little by the lengthening of daylight, I took courage one afternoon to invite her to walk with me to the lake; but she sweetly excused herself from it, whilst there was such a frightful glare of light, as she said; but looking out at the door, told me, if I would not go out of the wood she would accompany me: so we agreed to take a turn only there. I first went myself over the stile of the door, and thinking it rather too high for her, I took her in my arms and lifted her over. But even when I had her in this manner, I knew not what to make of her clothing, it sat so true and close; but seeing by a steadier and truer light in the grove, though a heavy gloomy one, than my lamp had afforded, I begged she would let me know of what silk or other composition her garment was made. She smiled, and asked me if mine was not the same under my jacket "No, lady," says I, "I have nothing but my skin under my clothes."—"Why, what do you mean?" replies she, somewhat tartly; "but indeed I was afraid that something was the matter by that nasty covering you wear, that you might not be seen. Are you not a glumm?"*—"Yes,"says I, "fair creature." (Here, though you may conceive she spoke part English, part her own tongue, and I the same, as we best understood each other, yet I shall give you our discourse, word for word, in plain English.) "Then," says she, "I am afraid you must have been a very bad man, and have been crashee,** which I should be very sorry to hear."
* A man.
I told her I believed we were none of us so good as we might be, but I hoped my faults had not at most exceeded other men's; but I had suffered abundance of hardships in my time; and that at last Providence having settled me in this spot, from whence I had no prospect of ever departing, it was none of the least of its mercies to bring to my knowledge and company the most exquisite piece of all His works, in her, which I should acknowledge as long as I lived. She was surprised at this discourse, and asked me (if I did not mean to impose upon her, and was indeed an ingcrashee* glumm) why I should tell her I had no prospect of departing hence. "Have not you," says she, "the same prospect that I or any other person has of departing? Sir," added she, "you don't do well, and really I fear you are slit, or you would not wear this nasty cumbersome coat (taking hold of my jacket-sleeve), if you were not afraid of showing the signs of a bad life upon your natural clothing."
I could not for my heart imagine what way there was to get out of my dominions. But certainly, thought I, there must be some way or other, or she would not be so peremptory. And as to my jacket, and showing myself in my natural clothing, I profess she made me blush; and but for shame, I would have stripped to my skin to have satisfied her. "But, madam," says I, "pray pardon me, for you are really mistaken; I have examined every nook and corner of this new world in which we now are, and can find no possible outlet; nay, even by the same way I came in, I am sure it is impossible to get out again."—"Why," says she, "what outlets have you searched for, or what way can you expect out but the way you came in? And why is that impossible to return by again? If you are not slit, is not the air open to you? Will not the sky admit you to patrole in it, as well as other people? I tell you, sir, I fear you have been slit for your crimes; and though you have been so good to me, that I can't help loving of you heartily for it, yet if I thought you had been slit, I would not, nay, could not, stay a moment longer with you; no, though it should break my heart to leave you."
I found myself now in a strange quandary, longing to know what she meant by being slit, and had a hundred strange notions in my head whether I was slit or not; for though I knew what the word naturally signified well enough, yet in what manner or by what figure of speech she applied it to me, I had no idea of. But seeing her look a little angrily upon me, "Pray, madam," says I, "don't be offended, if I take the liberty to ask you what you mean by the word crashee* so often repeated by you; for I am an utter stranger to what you mean by it."—"Sir," says she, "pray answer me first how you came here?"—"Madam," replied I, "will you please to take a walk to the verge of the wood, I will show you the very passage."—"Sir," says she, "I perfectly know the range of the rocks all round, and by the least description, without going to see them, can tell from which you descended."—"In truth," said I, "most charming lady, I descended from no rock at all; nor would I for a thousand worlds attempt what could not be accomplished but by my destruction."—"Sir," says she, in some anger, "it is false, and you impose upon me."—"I declare to you," says I, "madam, what I tell you is strictly true; I never was near the summit of any of the surrounding rocks, or anything like it; but as you are not far from the verge of the wood, be so good as to step a little farther and I will show you my entrance in hither."—"Well," says she, "now this odious dazzle of light is lessened, I don't care if I do go with you."
When we came far enough to see the bridge, "There, madam," says I, "there is my entrance, where the sea pours into this lake from yonder cavern."—"It is not possible," says she; "this is another untruth; and as I see you would deceive me, and are not to be believed, farewell; I must be gone. But, hold," says she, "let me ask you one thing more; that is, by what means did you come through that cavern? You could not have used to have come over the rock?"—"Bless me, madam!" says I, "do you think I and my boat could fly? Come over the rock, did you say? No, madam; I sailed from the great sea, the main ocean, in my boat, through that cavern into this very lake here."—"What do you mean by your boat?" says she. "You seem to make two things of your boat you say you sailed with and yourself."—"I do so," replied I; "for, madam, I take myself to be good flesh and blood, but my boat is made of wood and other materials."—"Is it so?" says she. "And, pray, where is this boat that is made of wood and other materials?—under your jacket?"—"Lord, madam!" says I, "you put me in fear that you were angry; but now I hope you only joke with me. What, put a boat under my jacket! No, madam; my boat is in the lake."—"What, more untruths?" says she.—"No, madam," I replied; "if you would be satisfied of what I say (every word of which is as true as that my boat now is in the lake), pray walk with me thither and make your own eyes judges what sincerity I speak with." To this she agreed, it growing dusky; but assured me, if I did not give her good satisfaction, I should see her no more.
We arrived at the lake; and going to my wet-dock, "Now, madam," says I, "pray satisfy yourself whether I spake true or no." She looked at my boat, but could not yet frame a proper notion of it. Says I, "Madam, in this very boat I sailed from the main ocean through that cavern into this lake; and shall at last think myself the happiest of all men if you continue with me, love me, and credit me; and I promise you I'll never deceive you, but think my life happily spent in your service." I found she was hardly content yet to believe what I told her of my boat to be true; till I stepped into it, and pushing from the shore, took my oars in my hand, and sailed along the lake by her, as she walked on the shore. At last she seemed so well reconciled to me and my boat, that she desired I would take her in. I immediately did so, and we sailed a good way; and as we returned to my dock I described to her how I procured the water we drank, and brought it to shore in that vessel.
"Well," says she, "I have sailed, as you call it, many a mile in my lifetime, but never in such a thing as this. I own it will serve very well where one has a great many things to carry from place to place; but to be labouring thus at an oar when one intends pleasure in sailing, is in my mind a most ridiculous piece of slavery."—"Why, pray, madam, how would you have me sail? for getting into the boat only will not carry us this way or that without using some force."—"But," says she, "pray, where did you get this boat, as you call it?"—"O madam!" says I, "that is too long and fatal a story to begin upon now; this boat was made many thousand miles from hence, among a people coal-black, a quite different sort from us; and, when I first had it, I little thought of seeing this country; but I will make a faithful relation of all to you when we come home." Indeed, I began to wish heartily we were there, for it grew into the night; and having strolled so far without my gun, I was afraid of what I had before seen and heard, and hinted our return; but I found my motion was disagreeable to her, and so I dropped it.
I now perceived and wondered at it, that the later it grew the more agreeable it seemed to her; and as I had now brought her into good-humour again by seeing and sailing in my boat, I was not willing to prevent its increase. I told her, if she pleased, we would land, and when I had docked my boat, I would accompany her where and as long as she liked. As we talked and walked by the lake, she made a little run before me and sprung into it Perceiving this, I cried out, whereupon she merrily called on me to follow her. The light was then so dim, as prevented my having more than a confused sight of her when she jumped in; and looking earnestly after her, I could discern nothing more than a small boat in the water, which skimmed along at so great a rate that I almost lost sight of it presently; but running along the shore for fear of losing her, I met her gravely walking to meet me, and then had entirely lost sight of the boat upon the lake. "This," says she, accosting me with a smile, "is my way of sailing, which, I perceive, by the fright you were in, you are altogether unacquainted with; and, as you tell me you came from so many thousand miles off, it is possible you may be made differently from me: but, surely we are the part of the creation which has had most care bestowed upon it; and I suspect, from all your discourse, to which I have been very attentive, it is possible you may no more be able to fly than to sail as I do."—"No, charming creature," says I, "that I cannot, I'll assure you." She then, stepping to the edge of the lake, for the advantage of a descent before her, sprung up into the air, and away she went farther than my eyes could follow her.
I was quite astonished. "So," says I, "then all is over! all a delusion which I have so long been in! a mere phantom! Better had it been for me never to have seen her, than thus to lose her again! But what could I expect had she stayed? For it is plain she is no human composition. But," says I, "she felt like flesh, too, when I lifted her out at the door!" I had but very little time for reflection; for, in about ten minutes after she had left me in this mixture of grief and amazement, she alighted just by me on her feet.
Her return, as she plainly saw, filled me with a transport not to be concealed; and which, as she afterwards told me, was very agreeable to her. Indeed, I was some moments in such an agitation of mind from these unparalleled incidents, that I was like one thunder-struck; but coming presently to myself, and clasping her in my arms with as much love and passion as I was capable of expressing, and for the first time with any desire,—"Are you returned again, kind angel," said I, "to bless a wretch who can only be happy in adoring you? Can it be, that you, who have so many advantages over me, should quit all the pleasures that nature has formed you for, and all your friends and relations, to take an asylum in my arms? But I here make you a tender of all I am able to bestow—my love and constancy."—"Come, come," says she, "no more raptures; I find you are a worthier man than I thought I had reason to take you for, and I beg your pardon for my distrust whilst I was ignorant of your imperfections; but now I verily believe all you have said is true; and I promise you, as you have seemed so much to delight in me, I will never quit you till death, or other as fatal accident shall part us. But we will now, if you choose, go home; for I know you have been some time uneasy in this gloom, though agreeable to me: for, giving my eyes the pleasure of looking eagerly on you, it conceals my blushes from your sight."
In this manner, exchanging mutual endearments and soft speeches, hand in hand, we arrived at the grotto; where we that night consummated our nuptials, without farther ceremony than mutual solemn engagements to each other; which are, in truth, the essence of marriage, and all that was there and then in our power.
The author's disappointment at first going to bed with his new wife—Some strange circumstances relating thereto—She resolves several questions he asks her, and clears up his fears as to the voices—A description of swangeans.
Every calm is succeeded by a storm, as is every storm by its calm; for, after supper, in order to give my bride the opportunity of undressing alone, which I thought might be most agreeable the first night, I withdrew into the antechamber till I thought she was laid; and then, having first disposed of my lamp, I moved softly towards her, and stepped into bed too; when, on my nearer approach to her, I imagined she had her clothes on. This struck a thorough damp over me; and asking her the reason of it, not being able to touch the least bit of her flesh but her face and hands, she burst out a-laugh-ing; and, running her hand along my naked side, soon perceived the difference she before had made such doubt of between herself and me. Upon which she fairly told me, that neither she, nor any person she had ever seen before, had any other covering than what they were born with, and which they would not willingly part with but with their lives. This shocked me terribly; not from the horror of the thing itself, or any distaste I had to this covering (for it was quite smooth, warm, and softer than velvet or the finest skin imaginable), but from an apprehension of her being so wholly encased in it, that, though I had so fine a companion, and now a wife, yet I should have no conjugal benefit from her, either to my own gratification, or the increase of our species.
In the height of my impatience I made divers essays for unfolding this covering, but unsuccessfully. Surely, says I, there must be some way of coming at my wishes, or why should she seem so shy of me at first, and now we are under engagements to each other, meet me half way with such a yielding compliance? I could, if I had had time to spare, have gone on, starting objections and answering them, in my own breast, a great while longer (for I now knew not what to make of it); but being prompted to act as well as think, and feeling, as tenderly as possible, upon her bosom, for the folds or plaits of her garment, she lying perfectly still, and perceiving divers flat broad ledges, like whale-bone, seemingly under her covering, which closely enfolded her body, I thought it might be all laced on together somewhat like stays, and felt behind for the lacing.
At length, perceiving me so puzzled, and beyond conception vexed at my disappointment, of asudden, lest I should grow outrageous (which I was almost come to), she threw down all those seeming ribs flat to her side so imperceptibly to me, that I knew nothing of the matter, though I lay close to her; till putting forth my hand again to her bosom, the softest skin, and most delightful body, free from all impediment, presented itself to my wishes, and gave itself up to my embraces.
I slept very soundly till morning, and so did she; but at waking I was very solicitous to find out what sort of being I had had in my arms, and with what qualities her garment was endued, or how contrived that, notwithstanding all my fruitless attempts to uncover her, she herself could so instantaneously dispose of it undiscerned by me. Well, thought I, she is my wife, I will be satisfied in everything; for surely she will not now refuse to gratify my curiosity.
We rose with the light; but surely no two were ever more amorous, or more delighted with each other. I, being up first, lighted the fire, and prepared breakfast of some fish soup, thickened with my cream-cheese; and then calling her, I kept my eye towards the bed to see how she dressed herself; but throwing aside the clothes, she stepped out ready dressed, and came to me. When I had kissed her, and wished her a good day, we sat down to breakfast; which being soon over, I told her I hoped every minute of our lives would prove as happy as those we so lately passed together; which she seemed to wish with equal ardour. I then told her, now she was my wife, I thought proper to know her name, which I had never before asked, for fear of giving uneasiness; for, as I added, I did not doubt she had observed in my behaviour, ever since I first saw her, a peculiar tenderness for her, and a sedulous concern not to offend, which had obliged me hitherto to stifle several questions I had to ask her whenever they would be agreeable to her. She then bid me begin; for as she was now my wife, whilst I was speaking it became her to be all attention, and to give me the utmost satisfaction she could in all I should require, as she herself should have so great an interest in everything for the future which would oblige me.
Compliments (if, in compliance with old custom, I may call them so, for they were by us delivered from the heart) being a little over on both sides, I first desired to know what name she went by before I found her: "For," says I, "having only hitherto called you madam, and my lady, besides the future expression of my love to you in the word dear, I would know your original name, that so I might join it with that tender epithet."—"That you shall," says she, "and also my family at another opportunity; but as my name will not take up long time to repeat at present, it is Youwarkee. And pray," says she, "now gratify me with the knowledge of yours."—"My dear Youwarkee," says I, "my name was Peter Wilkins when I heard it last; but that is so long ago, I had almost forgot it. And now," says I, "there is another thing you can give me a pleasure in."—"You need, then, only mention it, my dear Peter," says she.—"That is," says I, "only to tell me if you did not, by some accident, fall from the top of the rock over my habitation, upon the roof of it, when I first took you in here; and whether you are of the country upon the rocks?"—She, softly smiling, answered, "My dear Peter, you run your questions too thick. As to my country, which is not on the rocks, as you suppose, but at a vast distance from hence, I shall leave that till I may hereafter, at more leisure, speak of my family, as I promised you before; but as to how I came into this grotto, I knew not at first, but soon perceived your humanity had brought me in, to take care of me, after a terrible fall I had; not from the rock, as you suppose, for then I must not now have been living to enjoy you, but from a far less considerable height in the air. I'll tell you how it happened. A parcel of us young people were upon a merry swangean* round this arkoe,** which we usually divert ourselves with at set times of the year, chasing and pursuing one another, sometimes soaring to an extravagant height, and then shooting down again with surprising precipitancy, till we even touch the trees; when of a sudden we mount again and away."
** Water surrounded with a wood.
"I say, being of this party, and pursued by one of my comrades, I descended down to the very trees, and she after me; but as I mounted, she over-shooting me, brushed so stiffly against the upper part of my graundee* that I lost my bearing; and being so near the branches before I could recover it again, I sunk into the tree, and rendered my graundee useless to me; so that down I came, and that with so much force, that I but just felt my fall, and lost my senses. Whether I cried out or no upon my coming to the ground, I cannot say; but if I did, my companion was too far gone by that time to hear or take notice of me; as she, probably, in so swift a flight, saw not my fall. As to the condition I was in, or what happened immediately afterwards, I must be obliged to you for a relation of that; but one thing I was quickly sensible of, and never can forget, viz., that I owe my life to your care and kindness to me."
* The covering and wings of skin they flew with.
I told her she should have that part of her story from me another time. "But," says I, "there is something so amazing in these flights, or swangeans, as you call them, that I must, as the questions for this day, beg you would let me know what is the method of them. What is the nature of your covering, which was at first such an obstacle to my wishes? How you put it on? And how you use it in your swangean?"
"Surely, my dearest Peter," says she, "but that I can deny you nothing, since you are my barkatt* which you seem so passionately to desire, the latter of your questions would not be answered, for it must put me to the blush. As to our method of flight, you saw somewhat of that last night, though in a light hardly sufficient for you; and for the nature of my covering, you perceive that now; but to show you how it is put on, as you call it, I am afraid it will be necessary, as far as I can, to put it off, before I can make you comprehend that; which having done, the whole will be no farther a mystery. But, not to be tedious, is it your command that I uncover? Lay that upon me, it shall be done."
Here I was at a plunge whether to proceed or drop the question. Thinks I, if my curiosity should be fatal to me, as I may see something I can never bear hereafter, I am undone. She waits the command! Why so? I know not the consequence! What shall I do? At last, somewhat resolutely, I asked her whether her answer either way to my command would cause her to leave me, or me to love her less? She, seeing my hesitation, and perceiving the cause, was so pleased, that she cried out—"No, my dear Peter, not that, nor all the force on earth, shall ever part me from you. But I conceive you are afraid you shall discover something in me you may not like. I fear not that; but an immodest appearance before you I cannot suffer myself to be guilty of, but under your own command."—"My lovely Youwarkee," says I, "delay then my desires no longer; and since you require a warrant from me, I do command you to do it" Immediately her graundee flew open (discovering her naked body just to the hip, and round the rim of her belly) and, expanding itself, was near six feet wide. Here my love and curiosity had a hard conflict; the one to gain my attention to the graundee, and the other to retain my eyes and thoughts on her lovely body, which I had never beheld so much of before. Though I was very unwilling to keep her uncovered too long, I could not easily dismiss so charming a sight I attentively viewed her lovely flesh, and examined the case that enshrined it; but as I shall give you a full description of the graundee hereafter, in a more proper place, I will mention it no farther here, than to tell you that when I had narrowly surveyed the upper part of it, she in a moment contracted it round her so close that the nicest eye could not perceive the joining of the parts. "Indeed, my dear Youwarkee," says I, "you had the best of reasons for saying you was not fearful I should discover anything in you displeasing; for if my bosom glowed with love before, you have now therein raised an ardent flame, which neither time, nor aught else, will ever be able to extinguish. I now almost conceive how you fly; though yet I am at a loss to know how you extend and make use of the lower part of your graundee, which rises up and meets the upper; but I will rather guess at that by what I have seen, than raise the colour higher in those fair cheeks, which are, however, adorned with blushes." Then running to her, and taking her in my arms, I called her the dearest gift of Heaven; and left off further interrogatories till another opportunity.
Youwarkee cannot bear a strong light—Wilkins makes her spectacles, which help her—A description of them
Youwarkee and I having no other company than one another's, we talked together almost from morn to night, in order to learn each other's dialect But how compilable soever she was in all other respects, I could not persuade her to go out with me to fetch water, or to the lake, in the day-time. It being now the light season, I wanted her to be more abroad; but she excused herself, telling me her people never came into those luminous parts of the country during the false glare, as they called it, but kept altogether at home, where their light was more moderate and steadier; and that the place where I resided was not frequented by them for half the year, and at other times only upon parties of pleasure, it not being worth while to settle habitations where they could not abide always. She said Normnbdsgrsutt was the finest region in the world, where her king's court was, and a vast kingdom. I asked her twice or thrice more to name the country to me, but not all the art we could use, hers in dictating, and mine in endeavouring to pronounce it, would render me conqueror of that her monosyllable (for as such it sounded from her sweet lips); so I relinquished the name to her, telling her whenever she had any more occasion to mention the place, I desired it might be under the style of Doorpt Swangeanti, which she promised; but wondered, as she could speak the other so glibly, as she called it, I could not do so too.
I told her that the light of my native country was far stronger than any I had seen since my arrival at Graundevolet (for that, I found by her, was the name my dominions went by); and that we had a sun, or ball of fire, which rolled over our heads every day, with such a light, and such a heat, that it would sometimes almost scorch one, it was so hot, and was of such brightness that the eye could not look at it without danger of blindness. She was heartily glad, she said, she was not born in so wretched a land; and she did not believe there was any other so good as her own. I thought no benefit could arise from my combating these innocent prejudices, so I let them alone.
She had often lamented to me the difference of our eyesight, and the trouble it was to her that she could not at all times go about with me, till it gave me a good deal of uneasiness to see her concern. At last I told her, that though I believed it would be impossible to reduce my sight to the standard of hers, yet I was persuaded I could bring hers to bear the strongest light I had ever seen in this country. She was mightily pleased with the thought of that, and said she wished I might, for she was sensible of no grief like being obliged to stay at home when I went abroad on my business, and was resolved to try my experiment if I pleased, and in the meantime should heartily pray for the success. I hit on the following invention.
I rummaged over all my old things, and by good luck found an old crape hatband. This I tried myself, single, before my own eyes, in the strongest light we had; but believing I had not yet obscured it enough, I doubled it, and then thought it might do; but for fear it should not I trebled it, and then it seemed too dark for eyes like mine to discover objects through it, and so I judged it would suit hers; for I was determined to produce something, if possible, that would do at first, without repetition of trial, which I thought would only deject her more, by making her look on the matter as impracticable. I now only wanted a proper method for fixing it on her, and this I thought would be easily effected, but had much more difficulty in it than I imagined. A first I purposed to tie the crape over her eyes, but trying it myself, I found it very rough and fretting: I then designed fixing it to an old crown of a hat that held my fish-hooks and lines, and so let it hang down before her face; but that also had its inconveniences, as it would slap her eyes in windy weather, and would be not only useless, but very troublesome in flight; so that I was scarce ever more puzzled before. At last I thought of a method that answered exceedingly well, the hint of which I took from somewhat I had seen with my master when I was at school, which he called goggles, and which he used to tie round his head to screen his eyes in riding. The thing I made upon that plan was composed of old hat, pieces of rams-horn, and the above-mentioned crape.
When I had finished the whole apparatus, I tried it first upon myself, and finding great reason to believe it would perfectly answer the intention, I ran directly to Youwarkee. "Come," says I, "my dear, will you go with me to the water-rill; for I must fetch some this morning?" She shook her head, and, with tears in her eyes, wished she could. "But," says she, "let me see how light it is abroad."—"No," says I, "my love, you must not look out till you go."—"Indeed," says she, "if it did not affect my eyes and head you should not ask me twice."—"Well," says I, "my Youwarkee, I am now come to take you with me; and that you may not suffer by it, turn about, and let me apply the remedy I told you of for your sight" She wanted much to see first what it was, but I begged her to forbear till she tried whether it would be useful or not She told me she would absolutely submit to my direction, so I adjusted the thing to her head. "Now," says I, "you have it on, let us go out and try it, and let me know the moment you find the light offensive, and take particular notice how you are affected." Hereupon away we marched, and I heard no complaint in all our walk to the lake.
"Now, my dear Youwarkee," says I, when we got there, "what do you think of my contrivance? Can you see at all?"—"Yes, very well," says she. "But, my dear Peter, you have taken the advantage of the twilight, I know, to deceive me; and I had rather have stayed at home than have subjected you to return in the night for the sake of my company." I then assured her it was mid-day, and no later, which pleased her mightily; and, to satisfy her, I untied the string behind, and just let her be convinced it was so. When I had fixed the shade on her head again, she put up her hands and felt the several materials of which it consisted; and after expressing her admiration of it, "So, my dear Peter," says she, "you have now encumbered yourself with a wife indeed, for since I can come abroad in a glaring light with so much ease, you will never henceforward be without my company."
Youwarkee being thus in spirits, we launched the boat, watered, took a draught of fish, and returned; passing the night at home, in talking of the spectacles (for that was the name I told her they must go by) and of the fishing, for that exercise delighted her to a great degree. But, above all, the spectacles were her chief theme; she handled them and looked at them again and again, and asked several rational questions about them; as, how they could have that effect on her eyes, enabling her to see, and the like. She ventured out with them next day by herself; and, as she threatened, was as good as her word, for she scarcely afterwards let me go abroad by myself, but accompanied me everywhere freely, and with delight.
Youwarkee with child—Their stock of provisions—No beast or fish in Youwarkeis country—The voices again—Her reason for not seeing those who uttered them—She bears a son—A hard speech in her lying-in—Divers birds appear—Their eggs gathered—How Wilkits kept account of time
About three months after we were married, as we called it, Youwarkee told me she believed she was breeding, and I was mightily pleased with it, for though I had had two children before by Patty, yet I had never seen either of them, so that I longed to be a father. I sometimes amused myself with whimsical conjectures, as, whether the child would have a graundee or not; which of us it would be most like; how we should do without a midwife; and what must become of the infant, as we had not milk, in case Youwarkee could not suckle it. Indeed, I had leisure enough for indulging such reveries; for, having laid in our winter stores, my wife and I had nothing to do but enjoy ourselves over a good fire, prattling and toying together, making as good cheer as we could; and truly that was none of the worst, for we had as fine bread as need to be eaten; we had pears preserved; all sorts of dried fish; and once a fortnight, for two or three days together, had fresh fish; we had vinegar, and a biting herb which I had found, for pepper; and several sorts of nuts; so there was no want.
It was at this time, after my return from watering one day, where Youwarkee had been with me, that, having taken several fish, and amongst them some I had not before seen, I asked her, as we were preparing and salting some of them, how they managed fish in her country, and what variety they had of them there. She told me she neither ever saw nor heard of a fish in her life till she came to me. "How!" says I, "no fish amongst you? Why, you want one of the greatest dainties that can be set upon a table. Do you wholly eat flesh," says I, "at Doorpt Swangeanti?"—"Flesh," says she laughingly, "of what?"—"Nay," says I, "you know best what the beasts of your own country are. We have in England, where I was born and bred, oxen, very large hogs, sheep, lambs, and calves; these make our ordinary dishes: then we have deer, hares, rabbits, and these are reckoned dainties; besides numberless kinds of poultry, and fish without stint"—"I never heard of any of these things in my life," says Youwarkee, "nor did I ever eat anything but fruits and herbs, and what is made from them, at Normnbdsgrsutt."—"You will speak that crabbed word," says I, "again."—"I beg your pardon, my dear," says she; "at Doorpt Swangeanti, I say; nor I, nor any one else, to my knowledge, ever ate any such thing; but seeing you eat fish, as you call them, I made no scruple of doing so too, and like them very well, especially the salted ones, for I never tasted what you call salt neither till I came here."—"I cannot think," says I, "what sort of a country yours is, or how you all live there."—"Oh," says she, "there is no want; I wish you and I were there." I was afraid I had talked too much of her country already, so we called a new cause.
Soon after winter had set in, as we were in bed one night, I heard the voices again; and though my wife had told me of her countryfolk's swangeans in that place, I, being frighted a little, waked her; and she hearing them too, cried out, "There they are! it is ten to one but my sister or some of our family are there. Hark! I believe I hear her voice." I myself hearkened very attentively; and by this time understanding a great deal of their language, I not only could distinguish different speakers, but knew the meaning of several of the words they pronounced.
I would have had Youwarkee have gotten up and called to them. "Not for the world," says she; "have you a mind to part with me? Though I have no intent to leave you, as I am with child, if they should try to force me away without my consent, I may receive some injury, to the danger of my own life, or at least of the child's." This reason perfectly satisfying me, endeared the loving creature to me ten times more, if possible, than ever.