Fritz and I now went in search of the nest, which we soon found. I took the eggs from it and put them in a bag I had brought to hold them, in which I put some wool and moss, so that they should not break.
It did not take us long to get up to the two boys, who had gone on first, and we were glad to find that the poor bird had made up its mind to its fate, and kept up well with the pace of the bulls.
When we got in sight of home, my wife and Ernest, who had been on the look out for us, came forth to meet us; and the strange way in which we brought home our new prize made them laugh. I need not say that we took great care of it.
The next day we built it a house, with a space in front for it to walk up and down, round which were put rails, so that it could not get out. At first it was shy, and would not take any food, so that we had to force some balls of maize down its throat; but in a short time it took grain from the hands of my wife, and soon grew quite tame.
The boys now set to work to break it in for use. They taught it first to bear them on its back. Then they put a pair of string reins in its mouth, and made it turn which way they chose to pull, and to walk, or run, or stand still, as it was bid. Thus, in a month from the time we caught it, the boys made it take them on its back to and from the Farm or The Nest, in less than half the time an ox would go; so that it came to be the best steed we had to ride on.
The eggs we found in the nest were put in a warm dry place, and though we scarce thought our care would bring live birds out of the shells, we had the joy to hatch three of them, and this led us to hope that we should ere long have a steed for each of our sons.
My work at this time was by no means light. Our hats and caps were all worn out, and with skins of the musk cat I had to make new ones. The bears' skins were laid in the sun to dry, and of these we made fur coats, which would keep us warm when the cold wet nights came round, and there were some left to serve as quilts or rugs for our beds.
I now tried my hand at a new craft. I dug some clay out of the bed of the stream, and taught the boys to knead it up with sand, and some talc that had been ground as fine as road drift. I had made a lathe with a wheel, and by its aid the clay left my bands in the shape of plates, cups, pots, and pans. We then burnt them in a rude kiln, and though at least one half broke with the heat and our want of skill, still those that came out whole more than paid me for my toil, and kept up my wife's stock of delf. Some of the jars were set round with red and blue beads, and these were put on a shelf as works of art, and kept full of long dried grass.
The time was now at hand when we must reap our grain and store the ripe crops that were still on the ground; and, in fact, there was so much to be done, that we scarce knew what to do first. The truth must be told that our wants did not keep pace with the growth of our wealth, for the land was rich, and we had but a few mouths to fill.
We knew that we might leave the roots in the ground for some time, as the soil was dry, but that the grain would soon spoil; so we made the corn our first care. When it was all cut and brought home, our next task was to thresh it. The floor of our store room was now as hard as a rock, for the sun had dried it, and there was not a crack to be seen. On this we laid the ears of ripe corn, from which the long straw had been cut, and sent the boys to bring in such of our live stock as were fit for the work to be next done.
Jack and Fritz were soon on the backs of their steeds, and thought it fine fun to make them course round the floor and tread out the grain. Ernest and I had each a long fork, with which we threw the corn at their feet, so that all of it might be trod on. The ox on which Jack sat put down his head and took a bunch of the ears in his mouth.
"Come," said Jack, "it is not put there for you to eat, off you go!" and with that he gave it a lash with his whip.
"Nay," said I, "do you not know what God has said in his Word? We must not bind up the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn. This brings to my mind the fact that the means we now take to thresh our wheat were those used by the Jews in the days of old."
To sort the chaff from the grain we threw it up with our spades while the land or sea breeze blew strong. The draught which came in at the door took the light chaff with it to one side of the room, while the grain fell straight to the ground by its own weight.
The maize we left to dry in the sun, and then beat out the grain with long skin thongs. By this means we got a store of the soft leaves of this plant, which my wife made use of to stuff our beds.
When all the grain had been put in our store room, some in sacks and the rest in dry casks, we took a walk one day to our fields, and found that flocks of birds, most of which were quails, had come there to feed. This gave us a fine day's sport with our guns, and the next year we did not fail to look for them, so that the fields were made to yield a stock of game as well as a crop of grain.
With but slight change in our mode of life, we spent ten long years in our strange home. Yet the time did not seem long to us. Each day brought with it quite as much work as we could do, so that weeks and months and years flew past, till at last we gave up all hope that we should leave the isle or see our old Swiss home, the thought of which was still dear to us.
But the lapse of ten years had wrought a great change in our sons. Frank, who was but a mere child when we first came, had grown up to be a strong youth; and Jack was as brave a lad as one could wish to see. Fritz, of course, was now a young man, and took a large share of the work off my hands. Ernest had just come of age, and his shrewd mode of thought and great tact was as great a help to us as was the strength and skill of the rest.
To crown all, it was a rare thing for them to be ill; and they were free from those sins which too oft tempt young men to stray from the right path. My wife and I did our best to train them, so that they might know right from wrong; and it gave us great joy to find that what we told them sunk deep in their hearts, and, like ripe seed sown in rich soil, brought forth good fruit.
I need not say that in the course of ten years we had made great strides in those arts which our wants had first led us to learn. When we first came the land near Tent House was a bare waste; now it bore fine crops, and was kept as neat as a Swiss farm. At the foot of the hill by the side of Rock Cave was a large plot of ground, which we laid out in beds, and here we grew herbs and shrubs, and such plants as we used for food. Near this we dug a pond, and by means of a sluice which led from the stream, we kept our plants fresh in times of drought. Nor was this the sole use we made of the pond; for in it we kept small fish and crabs, and took them out with a rod and line when we had need of food, and time to spare for that kind of sport. In the ground round the mouth of the Cave we drove a row of strong canes, bound at the top to a piece of wood, so as to form a fence, up which grew a vine, and, at each side, plants that threw a good show of gay bloom crept up to meet it. Shells of great size and strange shapes were got from the shore, and these we built up here and there with burnt clay, so as to form clumps of rock work, on which grew ferns and rare plants. All this gave a charm to our home, and made the grounds round it a source of joy when, we laid by our work for the day. In fact, we thought there was now scarce a thing to wish for that we had not got.
Our cares were few, and our life was as full of joy and peace as we could well wish; yet I oft cast a look on the sea, in the hope that some day I should spy a sail, and once more greet a friend from the wide world from which we had been so long shut out. This hope, vague as it was, led me to store up such things as would bring a price, if we had the chance to sell them; they might prove a source of wealth to us if a ship came that way, or would at least help to pay the charge of a cruise back to the land we came from.
It is but just to say that the boys did not share my hopes, nor did they seem to wish that we should leave the place where they had been brought up. It was their world, and the cave, to which we gave the name Rock House, was more dear to them than any spot on the earth.
"Go back!" Fritz would say; "to leave our cave, that we dug with our own hands; to part with our dear kind beasts and birds; to bid good-by to our farms, and so much that is our own, and which no one in the world wants. No, no! You can not wish us to leave such a spot."
My dear wife and I both felt that age would soon creep on us, and we could not help some doubts as to the fate of our sons. Should we stay and end our days here, some one of us would out-live the rest, and this thought came oft to my mind, and brought with it a sense of dread I could not get rid of. It made me pray to God that He would save us all from so dire a fate as to die far from the sound of the voice of man, with no one to hear our last words, or lay us in the earth when He should call us to our rest.
My wife did not share this dread. "Why should we go back?" she would say. "We have here all that we can wish for. The boys lead a life of health, free from sin, and live with us, which might not be the case if we went out in the world. Let us leave our fate in the hands of God."
As Fritz and Ernest were now men, they were of course free to go where they chose, and to come back when their will led them home. Thus, from time to time they took long trips, and went far from Rock House. They had fine boats and strong steeds, and of these they made such good use that there was scarce a spot for leagues round that was not well known to them.
At one time, Fritz had been so long from home that we had a dread lest he should have lost his way, or fallen a prey to wild beasts. When he came back he told us a long tale of what he had seen and where he had been, and how he had brought with him birds, beasts, moths, and such strange things as he thought Ernest would like to see. When he had done, he drew me out into our grounds and said he had a strange thing to tell me. It seems that he found a piece of white cloth tied to the foot of a bird which he had struck down with a stick, on which were these words: "Save a poor soul, who is on the rock from which you may see the smoke rise."
He thought that this rock could not be far off, and that he ought to set off at once in search of it.
"I have a thought," said he; "I will tie a piece of cloth, like that I found, to the leg of the bird, and on it I will write, 'Have faith in God: help is near.' If the bird goes back to the place from whence it came, our brief note may reach the eye of the lone one in the rock. At any rate, it can do no harm, and may do some good."
He at once took the bird, which was an AL-BA-TROSS, tied the strip of cloth to its foot, and let it go.
"And now," said he, "tell me what you think of this. If we should, find a new friend, what a source of joy it will be. Will you join me in the search?"
"To be sure I will," said I; "and so shall the rest; but we will not yet tell them of this."
They were all glad to take a trip in the large boat, but they could not make out why we went in such haste.
"The fact is," said Jack, "Fritz has found some queer thing on the coast that he can't bring home, and wants us to see it. But I dare say we shall know what it all means in good time."
Fritz was our guide, and went first in his bark boat, or CA-NOE. In this he could go round the rocks and shoals that girt the coast, which would not have been safe for the large boat. He went up all the small creeks we met with on the way, and kept a sharp look-out for the smoke by which he would know the rock we came out to find.
I must tell you that once when he came to these parts with Ernest he met with a TI-GER, and would have lost his life had it not been for his pet Ea-gle. The brave bird, to save Fritz from the beast, made a swoop down on its head. Fritz thus got off with a scratch or two, but the poor bird was struck dead by a blow from the paw of its foe. This was a sad loss to Fritz, for his pet had been a kind friend, and would go with him at all times when he went far from home.
There was scarce a spot we came to that did not bring to the mind of one of us some such tale as this, so that we were full of talk while the boat bore us on.
We had been out some days, but could find no trace of what we went in search. I rose from my berth at dawn, and went on deck with Fritz. I told him that as we had no clue to the place, we must now give up the search. He did not seem to like this, but no more was said. That day we spent on shore, and came back to our boat to sleep at night. Next day we were to change our course, and trace our way back, for the wind now blew from the sea.
When I went on deck next day I found a short note from Fritz, in which he told me that he could not give up the search, but had gone some way up the coast in his small boat. "Let me beg of you," he wrote, "to lie in wait for me here till I come back."
When he had been gone two days, I felt that I ought to tell my wife the cause of our trip, as it might ease her mind, and she now had some fear lest her son should not be safe. She heard me to the end, and then said that she was sure he would not fail, but soon bring back good news.
As we were all on the look-out for Fritz, we saw his boat a long way off.
"There is no one with him in the boat," said I to my wife; "that does not say much for our hopes."
"Oh, where have you been?" said the boys, all at once, as he came on board. But they scarce got a word from him. He then drew me on one side, and said, with a smile of joy, "What do you think is the news I bring?"
"Let me hear it," said I.
"Then I have found what I went forth to seek, and our search has not been in vain."
"And who is it that you have found?"
"Not a man," he said, "but a girl. The dress she wears is that of a man, and she does not wish at first that her sex should be known to more that we can help, for she would not like to meet Ernest and the rest in that state, if they knew that she was a girl. And, strange to tell," said Fritz, "she has been on shore three years."
While I went to tell the news to my wife, Fritz had gone down to his berth to change his clothes, and I must say that he took more care to look neat in his dress than was his wont at home.
He was not long, and when he came on deck he bid me say no word to the rest of whom he had found. He leaped like a frog in to his light craft, and led the way. We were soon on our course through the rocks and shoals, and an hour's sail, with the aid of a good breeze, brought us to a small tract of land, the trees of which hid the soil from our view.
Here we got close in to the shore, and made our bark safe. We all got out, and ran up the banks, led by the marks that Fritz had made in the soil with his feet. We soon found a path that led to a clump of trees, and there saw a hut, with a fire in front, from which rose a stream of smoke.
As we drew near I could see that the boys did not know what to make of it, for they gave me a stare, as if to ask what they were to see next. They did not know how to give vent to their joy when they saw Fritz come out of the hut with a strange youth, whose slight make, fair face, and grace of form, did not seem to match well with the clothes that hung upon his limbs.
It was so long since we had seen a strange face, that we were all loth to speak first. When I could gain my speech I took our new friend by the hand, and told her in words as kind as I could call to my aid, how, glad we were to have thus found her.
Fritz, when he bade Ernest and Jack shake bands with her, spoke of our new friend as James, but she could not hide her sex from my wife, for her first act was to fall on her breast and weep. The boys were not slow to see through the trick, and made Fritz tell them that "James" was not the name they should call her by.
I could not but note that our strange mode of life had made my sons rough, and that years of rude toil had worn off that grace and ease which is one of the charms of well-bred youth.
I saw that this made the girl shy of them, and that the garb she wore brought a blush to her cheek. I bade my wife take charge of her, and lead her down to the boat, while the boys and I stood a while to speak of our fair guest.
When we got on board we sat down to hear Fritz tell how he came to find Miss Jane, for that was her real name; but he had not told half his tale when he saw my wife and her new friend come up on deck. She still had a shy look, but as soon as she saw Fritz she held out her hand to him with a smile, and this made us feel more at our ease.
The next day we were to go back to our home, and on the way Fritz was to tell us what he knew of Miss Jane, for his tale had been cut short when she came on the deck with my wife. The boys did all they could to make her feel at home with them, and by the end of the day they were the best of friends.
The next day we set sail at sun rise; for we had far to go, and the boys had a strange wish to hear Fritz tell his tale.
When the boat had made a fair start, we all sat down on the deck, with Jane in our midst, while Fritz told his tale to the end.
Jane Rose was born in IN-DI-A. She was the child of one Cap-tain Rose, whose wife died when Jane was but a babe in arms. When ten years of age he sent her to a first class school, where she was taught all that was fit for the child of a rich man to know. In course of time she could ride a horse with some skill, and she then grew fond of most of the field sports of the East. As the Captain had to go from place to place with his troops, he thought that this kind of sport would train her for the mode of life she would lead when she came to live with him. But this was not to be, for one day he told Jane that he must leave the East, and take home the troops. As it was a rule that no girl should sail in a ship with troops on board, he left her to the care of a friend who was to leave near the same time. He thought fit that she should dress in the garb of a young man while at sea, as there would then be no need for her to keep in her berth, and he knew that she was strong and brave, and would like to go on deck, and see the crew at their work. It gave the Captain pain to part with his child, but there was, no help for it.
The ship had been some weeks at sea, when one day a storm broke over it, and the wind drove it for days out of its course. The crew did their best to steer clear of the rocks, but she struck on a reef and sprung a leak. The boats then put off from the wreck, but a wave broke over the one in which Jane left, and she was borne, half dead with fright, to the place where we found her. She had been thrown high up on the beach, and though faint and sick, got out of the reach of the waves. She did not know if those who were in the boat with her had lost their lives, but she had seen no trace of them since.
When she had strength to walk, she found some birds' eggs and shell fish, which she ate, and then went in search of some safe place where she could rest for the night. By good chance she had a flint and a knife; with these she set light to some dry twigs, and made a fire, which she did not once let out till the day she left. Her life was at first hard to bear, but she was full of hope that some day a ship would come near the shore, to which she could make signs for help. The wild sports of the East in which she took part had made her strong of limb, and she had been taught to make light of such things as would vex most of her sex.
She built a hut to sleep in, and made snares to catch birds. Some of them she made use of for food, and some she let go with bits of cloth tied to their legs, on which she wrote words, in the hope that they might meet the eye of some one who could help her. This, as we knew, had led Fritz to make his search, the end of which had brought as much joy to us as to the young friend who now sat in our midst.
When Fritz had told us this, and much more, we came in sight of Safe Bay. He then took Ernest with him in his small boat, and left us to go up the stream as fast as he could to Rock House, so as to make the place look neat by the time we brought home our guest. The two boys—for to us they were still boys—met us on the beach. Fritz, with a look of pride, gave his hand to Jane, and I could see a slight blush rise to her cheek as she gave him hers. He then led her up the path, on each side of which grew a row of young trees, and took her to a seat in our grounds. There he and Ernest had spread out a feast of our best food—fish, fowls, and fruit, and some of my wife's choice jam—whilst our burnt clay plate made a great show on the board, for it was set out with some taste. We had a wish to show Jane that, though the coast was a wild kind of place, still there were means to make life a joy to those who dwelt on it, if they chose to use them. As for Jane, the sight of our home, the style of our feast, and the kind words of the boys, were things so new to her, that she knew not what to say.
"I shall tell no more than the truth," she said, "when I say that what you have shown me is of far more worth than all the wealth I have seen in the East, and that I feel more joy this day than I have felt in all the days of my life. I can use no terms less strong than these to show how much I thank you."
This was just the kind of speech to please the boys, for there had been no one to praise their work till now. When the meal was done, my wife brought out some of her best wine, and we drank to the health of our guest in great state, and with loud cheers. We then made a tour of our house and grounds, that Jane might see the whole of the place that from this time she was to make her home. It would take me a long time to tell what she thought of all she saw, or the neat things she said in praise of our skill, as we took her from place to place. My wife's room, in which were kept the pots and pans to dress our food, and the plates, bowls, and cups, out of which we ate, took her some time to view; for she had long felt the want of such things as she now saw we had made for our own use out of what we could find.
The next day we all went to The Nest, and when the rainy season came round, Jane knew the place quite as well as we did. My wife found in her a true friend, for she soon took a large share of the work off her hands, and did it with so much skill, and with so strong a wish to please us, that we grew to love her as if she had been our own child.
When the time came for us to keep in doors from the rain, the boys would oft lay by their work, and sit to hear Jane talk of what she had seen in the East, and Ernest and Fritz would read to her by turns such books as she might choose. I was glad to see that this wrought a great change in my sons, whose mode of life had made them rough in their ways and loud in their speech—faults which we did not think of so long as there was no one to see or hear them.
When the spring came, the boys went in our boat to the spot where they had found Jane, which we now knew by the name of "Jane's Isle," and brought back some beans, which were new to them. These we found to be COF-FEE. Jane told us that they were by no means scarce, but that she had not made use of them, as she knew no way to roast or grind the beans, which she found in a green state.
"Do you think," said my wife, "that the plant would grow here?"
I then thought for the first time how fond she was of it. There had been some bags on board the ship, but I had not brought them from the wreck; and my wife had once said that she would like to see the plant in our ground. Now that we knew where to get it, she told me that it was one of the few things that she felt the loss of. When the boys heard this, they set out on a trip to Jane's Isle, and while there they went to the spot where she had dwelt for so long, and sought for what things she had left when she came to live with us.
All these were brought to Rock, House, and I may tell you that Fritz set great store by them. There were all sorts of odd clothes, which she had made of the skin of the sea calf; fish lines wrought out of the hair of her head; pins made from the bones of fish; a lamp made out of a shell, with a wick of the threads which she had drawn from her hose. There were the shells she used to cook her food in; a hat made from the breast of a large bird, the tail of which she had spread out so as to shade her neck from the sun; belts, shoes, and odd things of a like kind.
My wife, who had now a friend of her own sex to talk with, did not feel dull when the boys left us for a time, so they had leave to roam where their wish led them, and to stay as long as they chose. In the course of time they knew the whole of the isle on which we dwelt. Ernest drew a map of it to scale, so that we could trace their course from place to place with ease. When they went for a long trip they took some doves with them, and these birds brought us notes tied to their wings from time to time, so that we knew where they were, and could point out the spot on the map.
I will not dwell on what took place now for some time, for I find that each year was very much like the last. We had our fields to sow, our crops to reap, our beasts to feed and train; and these cares kept our hands at work, and our minds free from the least thought of our lone mode of life.
I turn to my log as I write this, and on each page my eye falls on some thing that brings back to my mind the glad time we spent at Rock House.
IN the spring time of the year, when the rain was past, Fritz and Jack set off on a trip in their boat to Shark Isle. The day was fine, the sky clear, and there was no wind, yet the waves rose and fell as in a storm.
"See!" cried Jack, "here comes a shoal of whales. They will eat us up."
"There is no fear of that," said Fritz; "whales will do us no harm, if we do not touch them." This proved to be the case. Though any one of them might have broken up the boat with a stroke of its tail, they did not touch it, but swam by in a line, two by two, like a file of troops.
On Shark Isle, near the shore, we had thrown up a mound, and built a fort, on which were set two of the ship's guns. These the boys made a rule to fire off, with a view to let us know that they were safe, and to try if the guns were still fit for use. This time they found their charge quite dry, and the guns went off with a loud bang.
They had just put a plug in the hole of one of the guns, to keep out the wet, when they heard a sound roll through the air.
"Did you bear that?" said Jack. "I am sure that noise must have come from some ship at sea. Let us fire once more."
But Fritz thought they ought to go home at once and tell me what they had heard. They both ran to the boat with all speed, and put out their strength to reach home ere the sun went down.
The day was fine, and as the rain had kept us in doors for two months, we were glad to go down on the beach for a change. All at once I saw the boys come up the stream in their boat, at a great speed, and the way they used their sculls led me to think that all was not right.
"What have you seen, that should thus put two brave youths to flight?" said I.
Then they told me what had brought them back so soon. I had heard the sound of the two guns which they had fired off, but no more. I told them I thought their ears must be at fault, and that the sounds they had heard were no more than those of their own guns, which the hills had sent back through the air. This view of the case did not at all please them, as by this time they well knew what sounds their guns made.
"It will be a strange thing," said I, "if the hope to which I have so long clung should at last come to be a fact; but we must have a care that we do not hail a ship the crew of which may rob and kill us for the sake of our wealth. I feel that we have as much cause to dread a foe as we have grounds of hope that we may meet with friends."
Our first course was to make the cave quite safe, and then to mount guard where we could see a ship if one should come near the coast. That night the rain came down in a flood, and a storm broke over us, and we were thus kept in doors for two days and two nights.
On the third day I set out with Jack to Shark Isle, with a view to seek for the strange ship which he said he knew must be in some place not far from the coast. I went to the top of a high rock, but though my eye swept the sea for miles round, I could see no signs of a sail. I then made Jack fire three more shots, to try if they would give the same sound as the two boys had heard. You may judge how I felt, when I heard one! two! three! boom through the air.
There was now no room for doubt that, though I could not see it, there must be a ship near Shark's Isle. Jack heard me say this with great glee, and cried out, "What can we now do to find it?"
We had brought a flag with us, and I told Jack to haul this up twice to the top of the staff, by means of which sign those who saw it would know that we had good news to tell them.
I then left Jack on the fort with the guns, and told him to fire as soon as a ship hove in sight. I bent my way at once back to Rock House, to talk with my wife, Jane, and the boys, as to what steps we should now take. They all met me on the beach, and made me tell them the news while I was still in the boat.
"We know no more," said I, "than the fact that there is still a ship on the coast. You must all now keep in doors, while Fritz and I go in search of it."
We set off at noon, and went straight to the west part of the coast, where we thought the sound must have come from. We knew a cape there from which we could get a good view of the sea, and by the side of which lay a small bay.
When we got round the cape, great was our joy to find a fine ship in the bay. It was not far off from us, for we could see the ENG-LISH flag float in the breeze from one of its masts. I seek in vain to find words by means of which I can set forth in print what I then felt. Both Fritz and I fell on our knees and gave thanks to God that He had thus led the ship to our coast. If I had not held him back, Fritz would have gone into the sea with a leap and swum off to the ship.
"Stay," said I, "till we are quite sure what they are. There are bad men on the seas who put up false flags to lure ships out of their course, and then rob and kill the crew."
We could now see all that took place on board. Two tents had been set up on the shore, in front of which was a fire; and we could see that men went to and fro with planks. There were two men left on guard on the deck of the ship, and to these we made signs. When they saw us they spoke to some one who stood near, and whom we thought had charge of the ship. He then put his glass up to his eye and took a good view of us through it.
We did not at first like to go too near, but kept our boat some way off. Fritz said he could see that the faces of the men were not so dark as our own.
"If that be the case," said I, "we are safe, and we may trust their flag."
We both sang a Swiss song, and then I cried out at the top of my voice these words: "Ship ahoy! good men!" But they made no sign that they heard us. Our song, our boat, and, more than all, our dress, made them no doubt guess that we were wild men of the wood; for at last one of the crew on board held up knives and glass beads, which I knew the wild tribes of the New World were fond of. This made us laugh, but we would not as yet draw nigh to the ship, as we thought we ought to meet our new friends in our best trim.
We then gave a shout and a wave of the hand, and shot off round the cape as fast as our boat would take us. We soon got back to Rock House, where our dear ones were on the look-out for us. My wife said we had done quite right to come back, but Jane thought we should have found out who they were.
That night none of us slept well; our guest thought there might now be a chance for her to reach her home, and she dreamed she heard the well-known voice of her sire call her to come to him. The boys were half crazed with vague hopes, and lay for hours ere they went to sleep. My wife and I sat up late to think and talk of the use that might be made of this chance. We felt that we were now full of years, and should not like in our old age to leave the place where we had spent the best part of our lives; still we might do some trade with the land from which the ship came, if it were but known that we were here, and we might hear news of our dear Swiss home.
At break of day we put on board our boat a stock of fruit and fresh food of all kinds, such as we thought the crew of the ship would like to have, and Fritz and I set sail for the bay. We took with us all the arms we could find, so as not to be at a loss should the crew prove false to their flag, and turn out to be a set of thieves.
As we drew near the ship I fired a gun, and told Fritz to hoist a flag like theirs to the top of our mast, and as we did so the crew gave a loud cheer. I then went on board, and the mate of the ship led me to his chief, who soon put me at my ease by a frank shake of the hand. I then told him who we were, and how we came to dwell on the isle. I learned from him, in turn, that he was bound for New South Wales; that he knew Captain Rose, who had lost his child, and that he had made a search for her on the coast. He told me that a storm had thrown him off his course, and that the wind drove him on this coast, where he took care to fill his casks from a fresh stream that ran by the side of a hill, and to take in a stock of wood.
"It was then," he said, "that we first heard your guns; and when on the third day the same sound came to our ears, we knew that there must be some one on the coast, and this led us to put up our tents and wait till the crew should search the land round the bay."
I then made the crew a gift of what we had brought in our boat, and said to Captain Stone, for that was his name: "I hope, sir, that you will now go with me to Rock House, the place where we live, and where you will see Miss Rose, who will be glad to hear some news of home."
"To be sure I will, and thank you much," said he; "and I have no doubt that Mr. West would like to go with us." This Mr. West was on his way, with his wife and two girls, to New South Wales, where he meant to build a house and clear a piece of land.
We all three then left the ship in our boat, and as we came in sight of Shark Isle, Jack, who was on the fort, fired his guns.
When we came to the beach, my wife and the rest were there to meet us. Jane was half wild with joy when she heard that Captain Stone had brought her good news from home.
We led them round our house and through the grounds and Mr. West took note of all he saw. When we came to talk, I found that he had made up his mind to stay with us. I need not say how glad I was to hear this, for he had brought out with him a large stock of farm tools, of which we had long been in want.
The boys were of course in high glee at all this, but I did not share their joy so much as I could wish. The ship which now lay close to our shore was the first we had seen since we came to the isle, and no one could tell when the next might come. My wife and I did not wish to leave. I had a love for the kind of life we led, and we were both at an age when ease and rest should take the place of toil. But then our sons were young—not yet in the prime of life—and I did not think it right that we should keep them from the world. Jane, I could tell, would not stay with us, nor did she hide from us the fact that her heart drew her to the dear one at home, from whom she had been kept so long. So I told my wife that I would ask my boys to choose what they would do—to stay with us on the isle, or leave with Captain Stone in the ship.
Fritz and Jack said they would not leave us; Ernest spoke not a word, but I saw that he had made up his mind to go. I did not grieve at this, as I felt that our isle was too small for the scope of his mind, and did not give him the means to learn all he could wish. I told him to speak out, when he said he should like to leave the place for a few years, and he knew Frank had a wish to go with him.
I thought this would give my wife pain, but she said that the boys had made a good choice, and that she knew Ernest and Frank would make their way in the world.
Captain Stone gave Jane, Ernest, and Frank leave to go with him, as there was room in the ship now that the Wests were to stay with us.
The ship was brought round to Safe Bay, and Fritz and Jack went on board to fetch Mrs. West and her two girls, who were glad to find that they were not to go back to the ship, for the storm had made them dread the sea.
I may here say, by the way, that my wife soon found that her two sons grew fond of their fair friends, and gave me a hint that some day we should see them wed, which would be a fresh source of joy to us.
I have not much more to tell. The stores I had laid up—furs, pearls, spice, and fruits—were put on board the ship, and left to the care of my sons, who were to sell them. And then the time came for us to part. I need not say that it was a hard trial for my wife; but she bore up well, for she had made up her mind that it was all for the best, and that her sons would some day come back to see her. I felt, too, that with the help of our new friends, we should not miss them so much as we at first thought, and this we found to be the case.
As the next day my boys were to leave me, I had a long talk with them. I told them to act well their part in the new sphere in which they were to move, and to take as their guide the Word of God. They then knelt down for me to bless them, and went to their beds in Rock House for the last time.
I got no sleep all that night, nor did the two boys, who were to start the next day.
As Ernest takes this Tale with him—which I gave him leave to print, that all may know how good God has been to us—I have no time to add more than a few words.
The ship that is to take from us our two sons and our fair guest will sail from this coast in a few hours, and by the close of the day three who are dear to us will have gone from our midst. I can not put down what I feel, or tell the grief of my poor wife.
I add these lines while the boat waits for my sons. May God grant them health and strength for the trials they may have to pass through; may they gain the love of those with whom they are now to dwell; and may they keep free from taint the good name of the Swiss Family Robinson.