The Swiss Family Robinson; or Adventures in a Desert Island
by Johann David Wyss
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"While we were carefully depositing our spoil in the game-bags, we were astonished at the sight of a sail. Ernest was certain it was papa and Fritz, and though Francis was in dread that it should be the savages who visited Robinson Crusoe's island, coming to eat us up, we were soon enabled to calm his fears. We crossed the river by leaping from stone to stone, and, hastening to the landing-place, arrived to greet you on your happy return."

"And I understand, my dear," said I, "that you have discovered a tree sixty feet high, where you wish we should perch like fowls. But how are we to get up?"

"Oh! you must remember," answered she, "the large lime-tree near our native town, in which was a ball-room. We used to ascend to it by a wooden staircase. Could you not contrive something of the sort in one of these gigantic trees, where we might sleep in peace, fearing neither jackals nor any other terrible nocturnal enemy."

I promised to consider this plan, hoping at least that we might make a commodious and shady dwelling among the roots. To-morrow we were to examine it. We then performed our evening devotions, and retired to rest.

* * * * *


"Now, my dear Elizabeth," said I, waking early next morning, "let us talk a little on this grand project of changing our residence; to which there are many objections. First, it seems wise to remain on the spot where Providence has cast us, where we can have at once means of support drawn from the ship, and security from all attacks, protected by the rock, the river, and the sea on all sides."

My wife distrusted the river, which could not protect us from the jackals, and complained of the intolerable heat of this sandy desert, of her distaste for such food as oysters and wild geese; and, lastly, of her agony of mind, when we ventured to the wreck; willingly renouncing all its treasures, and begging we might rest content with the blessings we already had.

"There is some truth in your objections," said I, "and perhaps we may erect a dwelling under the roots of your favourite tree; but among these rocks we must have a storehouse for our goods, and a retreat in case of invasion. I hope, by blowing off some pieces of the rock with powder, to be able to fortify the part next the river, leaving a secret passage known only to ourselves. This would make it impregnable. But before we proceed, we must have a bridge to convey our baggage across the river.

"A bridge," said she, in a tone of vexation; "then when shall we get from here? Why cannot we ford it as usual? The cow and ass could carry our stores."

I explained to her how necessary it was for our ammunition and provision to be conveyed over without risk of wetting, and begged her to manufacture some bags and baskets, and leave the bridge to me and my boys. If we succeeded, it would always be useful; as for fear of danger from lightning or accident, I intended to make a powder-magazine among the rocks.

The important question was now decided. I called up my sons, and communicated our plans to them. They were greatly delighted, though somewhat alarmed, at the formidable project of the bridge; besides, the delay was vexatious; they were all anxious for a removal into the Land of Promise, as they chose to call it.

We read prayers, and then thought of breakfast. The monkey sucked one of the goats, as if it had been its mother. My wife milked the cow, and gave us boiled milk with biscuit for our breakfast; part of which she put in a flask, for us to take on our expedition. We then prepared our boat for a voyage to the vessel, to procure planks and timber for our bridge. I took both Ernest and Fritz, as I foresaw our cargo would be weighty, and require all our hands to bring it to shore.

We rowed vigorously till we got into the current, which soon carried us beyond the bay. We had scarcely reached a little isle at the entrance, when we saw a vast number of gulls and other sea-birds, fluttering with discordant cries over it. I hoisted the sail, and we approached rapidly; and, when near enough, we stepped on shore, and saw that the birds were feasting so eagerly on the remains of a huge fish, that they did not even notice our approach. We might have killed numbers, even with our sticks. This fish was the shark which Fritz had so skilfully shot through the head the night before. He found the marks of his three balls. Ernest drew his ramrod from his gun, and struck so vigorously right and left among the birds, that he killed some, and put the rest to flight. We then hastily cut off some pieces of the skin of the monster, which I thought might be useful, and placed them in our boat. But this was not the only advantage we gained by landing. I perceived an immense quantity of wrecked timber lying on the shore of the island, which would spare us our voyage to the ship. We selected such planks as were fit for our purpose; then, by the aid of our jack-screw and some levers we had brought with us, we extricated the planks from the sand, and floated them; and, binding the spars and yards together with cords, with the planks above them, like a raft, we tied them to the stern of our boat, and hoisted our sail.

Fritz, as we sailed, was drying the shark's skin, which I hoped to convert into files. And Ernest, in his usual reflective manner, observed to me, "What a beautiful arrangement of Providence it is, that the mouth of the shark should be placed in such a position that he is compelled to turn on his back to seize his prey, thus giving it a chance of escape; else, with his excessive voracity, he might depopulate the ocean."

At last, we reached our landing-place, and, securing our boat, and calling out loudly, we soon saw our friends running from the river; each carried a handkerchief filled with some new acquisition, and Francis had over his shoulder a small fishing-net. Jack reached us first, and threw down before us from his handkerchief some fine crawfish. They had each as many, forming a provision for many days.

Francis claimed the merit of the discovery. Jack related, that Francis and he took a walk to find a good place for the bridge.

"Thank you, Mr. Architect," said I; "then you must superintend the workmen. Have you fixed on your place?"

"Yes, yes!" cried he; "only listen. When we got to the river, Francis, who was looking about, called out, 'Jack! Jack! Fritz's jackal is covered with crabs! Come!—come!' I ran to tell mamma, who brought a net that came from the ship, and we caught these in a few minutes, and could have got many more, if you had not come."

I commanded them to put the smaller ones back into the river, reserving only as many as we could eat. I was truly thankful to discover another means of support.

We now landed our timber. I had looked at Jack's site for the bridge, and thought my little architect very happy in his selection; but it was at a great distance from the timber. I recollected the simplicity of the harness the Laplanders used for their reindeer. I tied cords to the horns of the cow—as the strength of this animal is in the head—and then fastened the other ends round the piece of timber we wanted moving. I placed a halter round the neck of the ass, and attached the cords to this. We were thus enabled, by degrees, to remove all our wood to the chosen spot, where the sides of the river were steep, and appeared of equal height.

It was necessary to know the breadth of the river, to select the proper planks; and Ernest proposed to procure a ball of packthread from his mother, to tie a stone to one end of the string, and throw it across the river, and to measure it after drawing it back. This expedient succeeded admirably. We found the breadth to be eighteen feet; but, as I proposed to give the bridge strength by having three feet, at least, resting on each shore, we chose some planks of twenty-four feet in length. How we were to get these across the river was another question, which we prepared to discuss during dinner, to which my wife now summoned us.

Our dinner consisted of a dish of crawfish, and some very good rice-milk. But, before we began, we admired her work. She had made a pair of bags for the ass, sewed with packthread; but having no large needles, she had been obliged to pierce holes with a nail, a tedious and painful process. Well satisfied with her success, we turned to our repast, talking of our bridge, which the boys, by anticipation, named the Nonpareil. We then went to work.

There happened to be an old trunk of a tree standing on the shore. To this I tied my main beam by a strong cord, loose enough to turn round the trunk. Another cord was attached to the opposite end of the beam, long enough to cross the river twice. I took the end of my rope over the stream, where we had previously fixed the block, used in our boat, to a tree, by the hook which usually suspended it. I passed my rope, and returned with the end to our own side. I then harnessed my cow and ass to the end of my rope, and drove them forcibly from the shore. The beam turned slowly round the trunk, then advanced, and was finally lodged over the river, amidst the shouts of the boys; its own weight keeping it firm. Fritz and Jack leaped on it immediately to run across, to my great fear.

We succeeded in placing four strong beams in the same way; and, by the aid of my sons, I arranged them at a convenient distance from each other, that we might have a broad and good bridge. We then laid down planks close together across the beams; but not fixed, as in time of danger it might be necessary rapidly to remove the bridge. My wife and I were as much excited as the children, and ran across with delight. Our bridge was at least ten feet broad.

Thoroughly fatigued with our day of labour, we returned home, supped, and offered thanks to God, and went to rest.

* * * * *


The next morning, after prayers, I assembled my family. We took a solemn leave of our first place of refuge. I cautioned my sons to be prudent, and on their guard; and especially to remain together during our journey. We then prepared for departure. We assembled the cattle: the bags were fixed across the backs of the cow and the ass, and loaded with all our heavy baggage; our cooking utensils; and provisions, consisting of biscuits, butter, cheese, and portable soup; our hammocks and blankets; the captain's service of plate, were all carefully packed in the bags, equally poised on each side the animals.

All was ready, when my wife came in haste with her inexhaustible bag, requesting a place for it. Neither would she consent to leave the poultry, as food for the jackals; above all, Francis must have a place; he could not possibly walk all the way. I was amused with the exactions of the sex; but consented to all, and made a good place for Francis between the bags, on the back of the ass.

The elder boys returned in despair,—they could not succeed in catching the fowls; but the experienced mother laughed at them, and said she would soon capture them.

"If you do," said my pert little Jack, "I will be contented to be roasted in the place of the first chicken taken."

"Then, my poor Jack," said his mother, "you will soon be on the spit. Remember, that intellect has always more power than mere bodily exertion. Look here!" She scattered a few handfuls of grain before the tent, calling the fowls; they soon all assembled, including the pigeons; then throwing more down inside the tent, they followed her. It was now only necessary to close the entrance; and they were all soon taken, tied by the wings and feet, and, being placed in baskets covered with nets, were added to the rest of our luggage on the backs of the animals.

Finally, we conveyed inside the tent all we could not carry away, closing the entrance, and barricading it with chests and casks, thus confiding all our possessions to the care of God. We set out on our pilgrimage, each carrying a game-bag and a gun. My wife and her eldest son led the way, followed by the heavily-laden cow and ass; the third division consisted of the goats, driven by Jack, the little monkey seated on the back of its nurse, and grimacing, to our great amusement; next came Ernest, with the sheep; and I followed, superintending the whole. Our gallant dogs acted as aides-de-camp, and were continually passing from the front to the rear rank.

Our march was slow, but orderly, and quite patriarchal. "We are now travelling across the deserts, as our first fathers did," said I, "and as the Arabs, Tartars, and other nomade nations do to this day, followed by their flocks and herds. But these people generally have strong camels to bear their burdens, instead of a poor ass and cow. I hope this may be the last of our pilgrimages." My wife also hoped that, once under the shade of her marvellous trees, we should have no temptation to travel further.

We now crossed our new bridge, and here the party was happily augmented by a new arrival. The sow had proved very mutinous at setting out, and we had been compelled to leave her; she now voluntarily joined us, seeing we were actually departing; but continued to grunt loudly her disapprobation of our proceedings. After we had crossed the river, we had another embarrassment. The rich grass tempted our animals to stray off to feed, and, but for our dogs, we should never have been able to muster them again. But, for fear of further accident, I commanded my advanced guard to take the road by the coast, which offered no temptation to our troops.

We had scarcely left the high grass when our dogs rushed back into it, barking furiously, and howling as if in combat; Fritz immediately prepared for action, Ernest drew near his mother, Jack rushed forward with his gun over his shoulder, and I cautiously advanced, commanding them to be discreet and cool. But Jack, with his usual impetuosity, leaped among the high grass to the dogs; and immediately returned, clapping his hands, and crying out, "Be quick, papa! a huge porcupine, with quills as long as my arm!"

When I got up, I really found a porcupine, whom the dogs were warmly attacking. It made a frightful noise, erecting its quills so boldly, that the wounded animals howled with pain after every attempt to seize it. As we were looking at them Jack drew a pistol from his belt, and discharged it directly into the head of the porcupine, which fell dead. Jack was very proud of his feat, and Fritz, not a little jealous, suggested that such a little boy should not be trusted with pistols, as he might have shot one of the dogs, or even one of us. I forbade any envy or jealousy among the brothers, and declared that all did well who acted for the public good. Mamma was now summoned to see the curious animal her son's valour had destroyed. Her first thought was to dress the wounds made by the quills which had stuck in the noses of the dogs during their attack. In the mean time, I corrected my son's notions on the power of this animal to lance its darts when in danger. This is a popular error; nature has given it a sufficient protection in its defensive and offensive armour.

As Jack earnestly desired to carry his booty with him, I carefully imbedded the body in soft grass, to preserve the quills; then packed it in strong cloth, and placed it on the ass behind Francis.

At last, we arrived at the end of our journey,—and, certainly, the size of the trees surpassed anything I could have imagined. Jack was certain they were gigantic walnut-trees; for my own part, I believed them to be a species of fig-tree—probably the Antilles fig. But all thanks were given to the kind mother who had sought out such a pleasant home for us; at all events, we could find a convenient shelter among the roots. And, if we should ever succeed in perching on the branches, I told her we should be safe from all wild beasts. I would defy even the bears of our native mountains to climb these immense trunks, totally destitute of branches.

We released our animals from their loads, tying their fore legs together, that they might not stray; except the sow, who, as usual, did her own way. The fowls and pigeons we released, and left to their own discretion. We then sat down on the grass, to consider where we should establish ourselves. I wished to mount the tree that very night. Suddenly we heard, to our no slight alarm, the report of a gun. But the next moment the voice of Fritz re-assured us. He had stolen out unnoticed, and shot a beautiful tiger-cat, which he displayed in great triumph.

"Well done, noble hunter!" said I; "you deserve the thanks of the fowls and pigeons; they would most probably have all fallen a sacrifice to-night, if you had not slain their deadly foe. Pray wage war with all his kind, or we shall not have a chicken left for the pot."

Ernest then examined the animal with his customary attention, and declared that the proper name was the margay, a fact Fritz did not dispute, only requesting that Jack might not meddle with the skin, as he wished to preserve it for a belt. I recommended them to skin it immediately, and give the flesh to the dogs. Jack, at the same time, determined to skin his porcupine, to make dog-collars. Part of its flesh went into the soup-kettle, and the rest was salted for the next day. We then sought for some flat stones in the bed of the charming little river that ran at a little distance from us, and set about constructing a cooking-place. Francis collected dry wood for the fire; and, while my wife was occupied in preparing our supper, I amused myself by making some packing-needles for her rude work from the quills of the porcupine. I held a large nail in the fire till it was red-hot, then, holding the head in wet linen, I pierced the quills, and made several needles, of various sizes, to the great contentment of our indefatigable workwoman.

Still occupied with the idea of our castle in the air, I thought of making a ladder of ropes; but this would be useless, if we did not succeed in getting a cord over the lower branches, to draw it up. Neither my sons nor myself could throw a stone, to which I had fastened a cord, over these branches, which were thirty feet above us. It was necessary to think of some other expedient. In the mean time, dinner was ready. The porcupine made excellent soup, and the flesh was well-tasted, though rather hard. My wife could not make up her mind to taste it, but contented herself with a slice of ham and some cheese.

* * * * *


After dinner, as I found we could not ascend at present, I suspended our hammocks under the arched roots of our tree, and, covering the whole with sailcloth, we had a shelter from the dew and the insects.

While my wife was employed making harness for the cow and ass, I went with my sons to the shore, to look for wood fit for our use next day. We saw a great quantity of wreck, but none fit for our purpose, till Ernest met with a heap of bamboo canes, half buried in sand and mud. These were exactly what I wanted. I drew them out of the sand, stripped them of their leaves, cut them in pieces of about four or five feet long, and my sons each made up a bundle to carry home. I then set out to seek some slender stalks to make arrows, which I should need in my project.

We went towards a thick grove, which appeared likely to contain something for my purpose. We were very cautious, for fear of reptiles or other dangerous animals, allowing Flora to precede us. When we got near, she darted furiously among the bushes, and out flew a troop of beautiful flamingoes, and soared into the air. Fritz, always ready, fired at them. Two fell; one quite dead, the other, slightly wounded in the wing, made use of its long legs so well that it would have escaped, if Flora had not seized it and held it till I came up to take possession. The joy of Fritz was extreme, to have this beautiful creature alive. He thought at once of curing its wound, and domesticating it with our own poultry.

"What splendid plumage!" said Ernest; "and you see he is web-footed, like the goose, and has long legs like the stork; thus he can run as fast on land as he can swim in the water,"

"Yes," said I, "and fly as quickly in the air. These birds are remarkable for the power and strength of their wings. Few birds have so many advantages."

My boys occupied themselves in binding their captive and dressing his wound; while I sought some of the canes which had done flowering, to cut off the hard ends, to point my arrows. These are used by the savages of the Antilles. I then selected the highest canes I could meet with, to assist me in measuring, by a geometrical process, the height of the tree. Ernest took the canes, I had the wounded flamingo, and Fritz carried his own game. Very loud were the cries of joy and astonishment at our approach. The boys all hoped the flamingo might be tamed, of which I felt no doubt; but my wife was uneasy, lest it should require more food than she could spare. However, I assured her, our new guest would need no attention, as he would provide for himself at the river-side, feeding on small fishes, worms, and insects. His wounds I dressed, and found they would soon be healed; I then tied him to a stake, near the river, by a cord long enough to allow him to fish at his pleasure, and, in fact, in a few days, he learned to know us, and was quite domesticated. Meantime, my boys had been trying to measure the tree with the long canes I had brought, and came laughing to report to me, that I ought to have got them ten times as long to reach even the lowest branches. "There is a simpler mode than that," said I, "which geometry teaches us, and by which the highest mountains can be measured."

I then showed the method of measuring heights by triangles and imaginary lines, using canes of different lengths and cords instead of mathematical instruments. My result was thirty feet to the lowest branches. This experiment filled the boys with wonder and desire to become acquainted with this useful, exact science, which, happily, I was able to teach them fully.

I now ordered Fritz to measure our strong cord, and the little ones to collect all the small string, and wind it. I then took a strong bamboo and made a bow of it, and some arrows of the slender canes, filling them with wet sand to give them weight, and feathering them from the dead flamingo. As soon as my work was completed, the boys crowded round me, all begging to try the bow and arrows. I begged them to be patient, and asked my wife to supply me with a ball of thick strong thread. The enchanted bag did not fail us; the very ball I wanted appeared at her summons. This, my little ones declared, must be magic; but I explained to them, that prudence, foresight, and presence of mind in danger, such as their good mother had displayed, produced more miracles than magic.

I then tied the end of the ball of thread to one of my arrows, fixed it in my bow, and sent it directly over one of the thickest of the lower branches of the tree, and, falling to the ground, it drew the thread after it. Charmed with this result, I hastened to complete my ladder. Fritz had measured our ropes, and found two of forty feet each,—exactly what I wanted. These I stretched on the ground at about one foot distance from each other; Fritz cut pieces of cane two feet long, which Ernest passed to me. I placed these in knots which I had made in the cords, at about a foot distance from each other, and Jack fastened each end with a long nail, to prevent it slipping. In a very short time our ladder was completed; and, tying it to the end of the cord which went over the branch, we drew it up without difficulty. All the boys were anxious to ascend; but I chose Jack, as the lightest and most active. Accordingly, he ascended, while his brothers and myself held the ladder firm by the end of the cord. Fritz followed him, conveying a bag with nails and hammer. They were soon perched on the branches, huzzaing to us. Fritz secured the ladder so firmly to the branch, that I had no hesitation in ascending myself. I carried with me a large pulley fixed to the end of a rope, which I attached to a branch above us, to enable us to raise the planks necessary to form the groundwork of our habitation. I smoothed the branches a little by aid of my axe, sending the boys down to be out of my way. After completing my day's work, I descended by the light of the moon, and was alarmed to find that Fritz and Jack were not below; and still more so, when I heard their clear, sweet voices, at the summit of the tree, singing the evening hymn, as if to sanctify our future abode. They had climbed the tree, instead of descending, and, filled with wonder and reverence at the sublime view below them, had burst out into the hymn of thanksgiving to God.

I could not scold my dear boys, when they descended, but directed them to assemble the animals, and to collect wood, to keep up fires during the night, in order to drive away any wild beasts that might be near.

My wife then displayed her work,—complete harness for our two beasts of burden, and, in return, I promised her we would establish ourselves next day in the tree. Supper was now ready, one piece of the porcupine was roasted by the fire, smelling deliciously; another piece formed a rich soup; a cloth was spread on the turf; the ham, cheese, butter, and biscuits, were placed upon it.

My wife first assembled the fowls, by throwing some grain to them, to accustom them to the place. We soon saw the pigeons fly to roost on the higher branches of the trees, while the fowls perched on the ladder; the beasts we tied to the roots, close to us. Now, that our cares were over, we sat down to a merry and excellent repast by moonlight. Then, after the prayers of the evening, I kindled our watch-fires, and we all lay down to rest in our hammocks. The boys were rather discontented, and complained of their cramped position, longing for the freedom of their beds of moss; but I instructed them to lie, as the sailors do, diagonally, and swinging the hammock, and told them that brave Swiss boys might sleep as the sailors of all nations were compelled to sleep. After some stifled sighs and groans, all sank to rest except myself, kept awake by anxiety for the safety of the rest.

* * * * *


My anxiety kept me awake till near morning, when, after a short sleep, I rose, and we were soon all at work. My wife, after milking the cow and goats, harnessed the cow and ass, and set out to search for drift-wood for our use. In the mean time, I mounted the ladder with Fritz, and we set to work stoutly, with axe and saw, to rid ourselves of all useless branches. Some, about six feet above our foundation, I left, to suspend our hammocks from, and others, a little higher, to support the roof, which, at present, was to be merely sailcloth. My wife succeeded in collecting us some boards and planks, which, with her assistance, and the aid of the pulley, we hoisted up. We then arranged them on the level branches close to each other, in such a manner as to form a smooth and solid floor. I made a sort of parapet round, to prevent accidents. By degrees, our dwelling began to assume a distinct form; the sailcloth was raised over the high branches, forming a roof; and, being brought down on each side, was nailed to the parapet. The immense trunk protected the back of our apartment, and the front was open to admit the breeze from the sea, which was visible from this elevation. We hoisted our hammocks and blankets by the pulley, and suspended them; my son and I then descended, and, as our day was not yet exhausted, we set about constructing a rude table and some benches, from the remainder of our wood, which we placed beneath the roots of the tree, henceforward to be our dining-room. The little boys collected the chips and pieces of wood for fire-wood; while their mamma prepared supper, which we needed much after the extraordinary fatigues of this day.

The next day, however, being Sunday, we looked forward to as a day of rest, of recreation, and thanksgiving to the great God who had preserved us.

Supper was now ready, my wife took a large earthen pot from the fire, which contained a good stew, made of the flamingo, which Ernest had told her was an old bird, and would not be eatable, if dressed any other way. His brothers laughed heartily, and called him the cook. He was, however, quite right, the stew, well seasoned, was excellent, and we picked the very bones. Whilst we were thus occupied, the living flamingo, accompanying the rest of the fowls, and free from bonds, came in, quite tame, to claim his share of the repast, evidently quite unsuspicious that we were devouring his mate; he did not seem at all inclined to quit us. The little monkey, too, was quite at home with the boys, leaping from one to another for food, which he took in his forepaws, and ate with such absurd mimicry of their actions, that he kept us in continual convulsions of laughter. To augment our satisfaction, our great sow, who had deserted us for two days, returned of her own accord, grunting her joy at our re-union. My wife welcomed her with particular distinction, treating her with all the milk we had to spare; for, as she had no dairy utensils to make cheese and butter, it was best thus to dispose of our superfluity. I promised her, on our next voyage to the ship, to procure all these necessaries. This she could not, however, hear of, without shuddering.

The boys now lighted the fires for the night. The dogs were tied to the roots of the tree, as a protection against invaders, and we commenced our ascent. My three eldest sons soon ran up the ladder, my wife followed, with more deliberation, but arrived safely; my own journey was more difficult, as, besides having to carry Francis on my back, I had detached the lower part of the ladder from the roots, where it was nailed; in order to be able to draw it up during the night. We were thus as safe in our castle as the knights of old, when their drawbridge was raised. We retired to our hammocks free from care, and did not wake till the sun shone brightly in upon us.

* * * * *


Next morning, all awoke in good spirits; I told them that on this, the Lord's day, we would do no work. That it was appointed, not only for a day of rest, but a day when we must, as much as possible, turn our hearts from the vanities of the world, to God himself; thank him, worship him, and serve him. Jack thought we could not do this without a church and a priest; but Ernest believed that God would hear our prayers under his own sky, and papa could give them a sermon; Francis wished to know if God would like to hear them sing the beautiful hymns mamma had taught them, without an organ accompaniment.

"Yes, my dear children," said I, "God is everywhere; and to bless him, to praise him in all his works, to submit to his holy will, and to obey him,—is to serve him. But everything in its time. Let us first attend to the wants of our animals, and breakfast, and we will then begin the services of the day by a hymn."

We descended, and breakfasted on warm milk, fed our animals, and then, my children and their mother seated on the turf, I placed myself on a little eminence before them, and, after the service of the day, which I knew by heart, and singing some portions of the 119th Psalm, I told them a little allegory.

"There was once on a time a great king, whose kingdom was called the Land of Light and Reality, because there reigned there constant light and incessant activity. On the most remote frontier of this kingdom, towards the north, there was another large kingdom, equally subject to his rule, and of which none but himself knew the immense extent. From time immemorial, an exact plan of this kingdom had been preserved in the archives. It was called the Land of Obscurity, or Night, because everything in it was dark and inactive.

"In the most fertile and agreeable part of the empire of Reality, the king had a magnificent residence, called The Heavenly City, where he held his brilliant court. Millions of servants executed his wishes—still more were ready to receive his orders. The first were clothed in glittering robes, whiter than snow—for white was the colour of the Great King, as the emblem of purity. Others were clothed in armour, shining like the colours of the rainbow, and carried flaming swords in their hands. Each, at his master's nod, flew like lightning to accomplish his will. All his servants—faithful, vigilant, bold, and ardent—were united in friendship, and could imagine no happiness greater than the favour of their master. There were some, less elevated, who were still good, rich, and happy in the favours of their sovereign, to whom all his subjects were alike, and were treated by him as his children.

"Not far from the frontiers, the Great King possessed a desert island, which he desired to people and cultivate, in order to make it, for a time, the abode of those of his subjects whom he intended to admit, by degrees, into his Heavenly City—a favour he wished to bestow on the greatest number possible.

"This island was called Earthly Abode; and he who had passed some time there, worthily, was to be received into all the happiness of the heavenly city. To attain this, the Great King equipped a fleet to transport the colonists, whom he chose from the kingdom of Night, to this island, where he gave them light and activity—advantages they had not known before. Think how joyful their arrival would be! The island was fertile when cultivated; and all was prepared to make the time pass agreeably, till they were admitted to their highest honours.

"At the moment of embarkation, the Great King sent his own son, who spoke thus to them in His name:—

"'My dear children, I have called you from inaction and insensibility to render you happy by feeling, by action, by life. Never forget I am your king, and obey my commands, by cultivating the country I confide to you. Every one will receive his portion of land, and wise and learned men are appointed to explain my will to you. I wish you all to acquire the knowledge of my laws, and that every father should keep a copy, to read daily to his children, that they may never be forgotten. And on the first day of the week you must all assemble, as brothers, in one place, to hear these laws read and explained. Thus it will be easy for every one to learn the best method of improving his land, what to plant, and how to cleanse it from the tares that might choke the good seed. All may ask what they desire, and every reasonable demand will be granted, if it be conformable to the great end.

"'If you feel grateful for these benefits, and testify it by increased activity, and by occupying yourself on this day in expressing your gratitude to me, I will take care this day of rest shall be a benefit, and not a loss. I wish that all your useful animals, and even the wild beasts of the plains, should on this day repose in peace.

"'He who obeys my commands in Earthly Abode, shall receive a rich reward in the Heavenly City; but the idle, the negligent, and the evil-disposed, shall be condemned to perpetual slavery, or to labour in mines, in the bowels of the earth.

"'From time to time, I shall send ships, to bring away individuals, to be rewarded or punished, as they have fulfilled my commands. None can deceive me; a magic mirror will show me the actions and thoughts of all,'

"The colonists were satisfied, and eager to begin their labour. The portions of land and instruments of labour were distributed to them, with seeds, and useful plants, and fruit-trees. They were then left to turn these good gifts to profit.

"But what followed? Every one did as he wished. Some planted their ground with groves and gardens, pretty and useless. Others planted wild fruit, instead of the good fruit the Great King had commanded. A third had sowed good seed; but, not knowing the tares from the wheat, he had torn up all before they reached maturity. But the most part left their land uncultivated; they had lost their seeds, or spoiled their implements. Many would not understand the orders of the great king; and others tried, by subtlety, to evade them.

"A few laboured with courage, as they had been taught, rejoicing in the hope of the promise given them. Their greatest danger was in the disbelief of their teachers. Though every one had a copy of the law, few read it; all were ready, by some excuse, to avoid this duty. Some asserted they knew it, yet never thought on it: some called these the laws of past times; not of the present. Other said the Great King did not regard the actions of his subjects, that he had neither mines nor dungeons, and that all would certainly be taken to the Heavenly City. They began to neglect the duties of the day dedicated to the Great King. Few assembled; and of these, the most part were inattentive, and did not profit by the instruction given them.

"But the Great King was faithful to his word. From time to time, frigates arrived, bearing the name of some disease. These were followed by a large vessel called The Grave, bearing the terrible flag of the Admiral Death; this flag was of two colours, green and black; and appeared to the colonists, according to their state, the smiling colour of Hope, or the gloomy hue of Despa'r.

"This fleet always arrived unexpectedly, and was usually unwelcome. The officers were sent out, by the admiral, to seize those he pointed out: many who were unwilling were compelled to go; and others whose land was prepared, and even the harvest ripening, were summoned; but these went joyfully, sure that they went to happiness. The fleet being ready, sailed for the Heavenly City. Then the Great King, in his justice, awarded the punishments and recompenses. Excuses were now too late; the negligent and disobedient were sent to labour in the dark mines; while the faithful and obedient, arrayed in bright robes, were received into their glorious abodes of happiness.

"I have finished my parable, my dear children; reflect on it, and profit by it. Fritz, what do you think of it?"

"I am considering the goodness of the Great King, and the ingratitude of his people," answered he.

"And how very foolish they were," said Ernest, "with a little prudence, they might have kept their land in good condition, and secured a pleasant life afterwards."

"Away with them to the mines!" cried Jack, "they richly deserved such a doom."

"How much I should like," said Francis, "to see those soldiers in their shining armour!"

"I hope you will see them some day, my dear boy, if you continue to be good and obedient." I then explained my parable fully, and applied the moral to each of my sons directly.

"You, Fritz, should take warning from the people who planted wild fruit, and wished to make them pass for good fruit. Such are those who are proud of natural virtues, easy to exercise,—such as bodily strength, or physical courage; and place these above the qualities which are only attained by labour and patience.

"You, Ernest, must remember the subjects who laid out their land in flowery gardens; like those who seek the pleasures of life, rather than the duties. And you, my thoughtless Jack, and little Francis, think of the fate of those who left their land untilled, or heedlessly sowed tares for wheat. These are God's people who neither study nor reflect; who cast to the winds all instruction, and leave room in their minds for evil. Then let us all be, like the good labourers of the parable, constantly cultivating our ground, that, when Death comes for us, we may willingly follow him to the feet of the Great King, to hear these blessed words: 'Good and faithful servants! enter into the joy of your Lord!'"

This made a great impression on my children. We concluded by singing a hymn. Then my good wife produced from her unfailing bag, a copy of the Holy Scripture, from which I selected such passages as applied to our situation; and explained them to my best ability. My boys remained for some time thoughtful and serious, and though they followed their innocent recreations during the day, they did not lose sight of the useful lesson of the morning, but, by a more gentle and amiable manner, showed that my words had taken effect.

The next morning, Ernest had used my bow, which I had given him, very skilfully; bringing down some dozens of small birds, a sort of ortolan, from the branches of our tree, where they assembled to feed on the figs. This induced them all to wish for such a weapon. I was glad to comply with their wishes, as I wished them to become skilful in the use of these arms of our forefathers, which might be of great value to us, when our ammunition failed. I made two bows; and two quivers, to contain their arrows, of a flexible piece of bark, and, attaching a strap to them, I soon armed my little archers.

Fritz was engaged in preparing the skin of the margay, with more care than Jack had shown with that of the jackal. I showed him how to clean it, by rubbing it with sand in the river, till no vestige of fat or flesh was left; and then applying butter, to render it flexible.

These employments filled up the morning till dinner-time came. We had Ernest's ortolans, and some fried ham and eggs, which made us a sumptuous repast. I gave my boys leave to kill as many ortolans as they chose, for I knew that, half-roasted, and put into casks, covered with butter, they would keep for a length of time, and prove an invaluable resource in time of need. As I continued my work, making arrows, and a bow for Francis, I intimated to my wife that the abundant supply of figs would save our grain, as the poultry and pigeons would feed on them, as well as the ortolans. This was a great satisfaction to her. And thus another day passed, and we mounted to our dormitory, to taste the sweet slumber that follows a day of toil.

* * * * *


The next morning, all were engaged in archery: I completed the bow for Francis, and at his particular request made him a quiver too. The delicate bark of a tree, united by glue, obtained from our portable soup, formed an admirable quiver; this I suspended by a string round the neck of my boy, furnished with arrows; then taking his bow in his hand, he was as proud as a knight armed at all points.

After dinner, I proposed that we should give names to all the parts of our island known to us, in order that, by a pleasing delusion, we might fancy ourselves in an inhabited country. My proposal was well received, and then began the discussion of names. Jack wished for something high-sounding and difficult, such as Monomotapa or Zanguebar; very difficult words, to puzzle any one that visited our island. But I objected to this, as we were the most likely to have to use the names ourselves, and we should suffer from it. I rather suggested that we should give, in our own language, such simple names as should point out some circumstance connected with the spot. I proposed we should begin with the bay where we landed, and called on Fritz for his name.

"The Bay of Oysters" said he,—"we found so many there."

"Oh, no!" said Jack, "let it be Lobster Bay; for there I was caught by the leg."

"Then we ought to call it the Bay of Tears," said Ernest, "to commemorate those you shed on the occasion."

"My advice," said my wife, "is, that in gratitude to God we should name it Safety Bay."

We were all pleased with this name, and proceeded to give the name of Tent House to our first abode; Shark Island, to the little island in the bay, where we had found that animal; and, at Jack's desire, the marshy spot where we had cut our arrows was named Flamingo Marsh. There the height from which we had vainly sought traces of our shipmates, received the name of Cape Disappointment. The river was to be Jackal River, and the bridge, Family Bridge. The most difficult point was, to name our present abode. At last we agreed on the name of Falcon's Nest (in German Falken-hoist). This was received with acclamations, and I poured out for my young nestlings each a glass of sweet wine, to drink Prosperity to Falcon's Nest. We thus laid the foundation of the geography of our new country, promising to forward it to Europe by the first post.

After dinner, my sons returned to their occupation as tanners, Fritz to complete his belt, and Jack to make a sort of cuirass, of the formidable skin of the porcupine, to protect the dogs. He finished by making a sort of helmet from the head of the animal, as strange as the cuirasses.

The heat of the day being over, we prepared to set out to walk to Tent House, to renew our stock of provisions, and endeavour to bring the geese and ducks to our new residence; but, instead of going by the coast, we proposed to go up the river till we reached the chain of rocks, and continue under their shade till we got to the cascade, where we could cross, and return by Family Bridge.

This was approved, and we set out. Fritz, decorated with his beautiful belt of skin, Jack in his porcupine helmet. Each had a gun and game-bag; except Francis, who, with his pretty fair face, his golden hair, and his bow and quiver, was a perfect Cupid. My wife was loaded with a large butter-pot for a fresh supply. Turk walked before us with his coat of mail, and Flora followed, peeping at a respectful distance from him, for fear of the darts. Knips, as my boys called the monkey, finding this new saddle very inconvenient, jumped off, with many contortions, but soon fixed on Flora, who, not being able to shake him off, was compelled to become his palfrey.

The road by the river was smooth and pleasant. When we reached the end of the wood, the country seemed more open; and now the boys, who had been rambling about, came running up, out of breath; Ernest was holding a plant with leaves and flowers, and green apples hanging on it.

"Potatoes!" said he; "I am certain they are potatoes!"

"God be praised," said I; "this precious plant will secure provision for our colony."

"Well," said Jack, "if his superior knowledge discovered them, I will be the first to dig them up;" and he set to work so ardently, that we had soon a bag of fine ripe potatoes, which we carried on to Tent House.

* * * * *


We had been much delighted with the new and lovely scenery of our road: the prickly cactus, and aloe, with its white flowers; the Indian fig; the white and yellow jasmine; the fragrant vanilla, throwing round its graceful festoons. Above all, the regal pineapple grew in profusion, and we feasted on it, for the first time, with avidity.

Among the prickly stalks of the cactus and aloes, I perceived a plant with large pointed leaves, which I knew to be the karata. I pointed out to the boys its beautiful red flowers; the leaves are an excellent application to wounds, and thread is made from the filaments, and the pith of the stem is used by the savage tribes for tinder.

When I showed the boys, by experiment, the use of the pith, they thought the tinder-tree would be almost as useful as the potatoes.

"At all events," I said, "it will be more useful than the pine-apples; your mother will be thankful for thread, when her enchanted bag is exhausted."

"How happy it is for us," said she, "that you have devoted yourself to reading and study. In our ignorance we might have passed this treasure, without suspecting its value."

Fritz inquired of what use in the world all the rest of these prickly plants could be, which wounded every one that came near.

"All these have their use, Fritz," said I; "some contain juices and gums, which are daily made use of in medicine; others are useful in the arts, or in manufactures. The Indian fig, for instance, is a most interesting tree. It grows in the most arid soil. The fruit is said to be sweet and wholesome."

In a moment, my little active Jack was climbing the rocks to gather some of these figs; but he had not remarked that they were covered with thousands of slender thorns, finer than the finest needles, which terribly wounded his fingers. He returned, weeping bitterly and dancing with pain. Having rallied him a little for his greediness, I extracted the thorns, and then showed him how to open the fruit, by first cutting off the pointed end, as it lay on the ground; into this I fixed a piece of stick, and then pared it with my knife. The novelty of the expedient recommended it, and they were soon all engaged eating the fruit, which they declared was very good.

In the mean time, I saw Ernest examining one of the figs very attentively. "Oh! papa!" said he, "what a singular sight; the fig is covered with a small red insect. I cannot shake them off. Can they be the Cochineal?" I recognized at once the precious insect, of which I explained to my sons the nature and use. "It is with this insect," said I, "that the beautiful and rich scarlet dye is made. It is found in America, and the Europeans give its weight in gold for it."

Thus discoursing on the wonders of nature, and the necessity of increasing our knowledge by observation and study, we arrived at Tent House, and found it in the same state as we left it.

We all began to collect necessaries. Fritz loaded himself with powder and shot, I opened the butter-cask, and my wife and little Francis filled the pot. Ernest and Jack went to try and secure the geese and ducks; but they had become so wild that it would have been impossible, if Ernest had not thought of an expedient. He tied pieces of cheese, for bait, to threads, which he floated on the water. The voracious creatures immediately swallowed the cheese and were drawn out by the thread. They were then securely tied, and fastened to the game-bags, to be carried home on our backs. As the bait could not be recovered, the boys contented themselves with cutting off the string close to the beak, leaving them to digest the rest.

Our bags were already loaded with potatoes, but we filled up the spaces between them with salt; and, having relieved Turk of his armour, we placed the heaviest on his back. I took the butter-pot; and, after replacing everything, and closing our tent, we resumed our march, with our ludicrous incumbrances. The geese and ducks were very noisy in their adieu to their old marsh; the dogs barked; and we all laughed so excessively, that we forgot our burdens till we sat down again under our tree. My wife soon had her pot of potatoes on the fire. She then milked the cow and goat, while I set the fowls at liberty on the banks of the river. We then sat down to a smoking dish of potatoes, a jug of milk, and butter and cheese. After supper we had prayers, thanking God especially for his new benefits; and we then sought our repose among the leaves.

* * * * *


I had observed on the shore, the preceding day, a quantity of wood, which I thought would suit to make a sledge, to convey our casks and heavy stores from Tent House to Falcon's Nest. At dawn of day I woke Ernest, whose inclination to indolence I wished to overcome, and leaving the rest asleep, we descended, and harnessing the ass to a strong branch of a tree that was lying near, we proceeded to the shore. I had no difficulty in selecting proper pieces of wood; we sawed them the right length, tied them together, and laid them across the bough, which the patient animal drew very contentedly. We added to the load a small chest we discovered half buried in the sand, and we returned homewards, Ernest leading the ass, and I assisted by raising the load with a lever when we met with any obstruction. My wife had been rather alarmed; but seeing the result of our expedition, and hearing of the prospect of a sledge, she was satisfied. I opened the chest, which contained only some sailors' dresses and some linen, both wetted with sea-water; but likely to be very useful as our own clothes decayed. I found Fritz and Jack had been shooting ortolans; they had killed about fifty, but had consumed so much powder and shot, that I checked a prodigality so imprudent in our situation. I taught them to make snares for the birds of the threads we drew from the karata leaves we had brought home. My wife and her two younger sons busied themselves with these, while I, with my two elder boys, began to construct the sledge. As we were working, we heard a great noise among the fowls, and Ernest, looking about, discovered the monkey seizing and hiding the eggs from the nests; he had collected a good store in a hole among the roots, which Ernest carried to his mother; and Knips was punished by being tied up, every morning, till the eggs were collected.

Our work was interrupted by dinner, composed of ortolans, milk, and cheese. After dinner, Jack had climbed to the higher branches of the trees to place his snares, and found the pigeons were making nests. I then told him to look often to the snares, for fear our own poor birds should be taken; and, above all, never in future to fire into the tree.

"Papa," said little Francis, "can we not sow some gunpowder, and then we shall have plenty?" This proposal was received with shouts of laughter, which greatly discomposed the little innocent fellow. Professor Ernest immediately seized the opportunity to give a lecture on the composition of gunpowder.

At the end of the day my sledge was finished. Two long curved planks of wood, crossed by three pieces, at a distance from each other, formed the simple conveyance. The fore and hind parts were in the form of horns, to keep the load from falling off. Two ropes were fastened to the front, and my sledge was complete. My wife was delighted with it, and hoped I would now set out immediately to Tent House for the butter-cask. I made no objection to this; and Ernest and I prepared to go, and leave Fritz in charge of the family.

* * * * *


When we were ready to set out, Fritz presented each of us with a little case he had made from the skin of the margay. They were ingeniously contrived to contain knife, fork, and spoon, and a small hatchet. We then harnessed the ass and the cow to the sledge, took a flexible bamboo cane for a whip, and, followed by Flora, we departed, leaving Turk to guard the tree.

We went by the shore, as the better road for the sledge, and crossing Family Bridge, were soon at Tent House. After unharnessing the animals, we began to load. We took the cask of butter, the cheese, and the biscuit; all the rest of our utensils, powder, shot, and Turk's armour, which we had left there. These labours had so occupied us, that we had not observed that our animals, attracted by the pasturage, had crossed the bridge, and wandered out of sight. I sent Ernest to seek them, and in the mean time went to the bay, where I discovered some convenient little hollows in the rock, that seemed cut out for baths. I called Ernest to come, and till he arrived, employed myself in cutting some rushes, which I thought might be useful. When my son came, I found he had ingeniously removed the first planks from the bridge, to prevent the animals straying over again. We then had a very pleasant bath, and Ernest being out first, I sent him to the rock, where the salt was accumulated, to fill a small bag, to be transferred to the large bags on the ass. He had not been absent long, when I heard him cry out, "Papa! papa! a huge fish! I cannot hold it; it will break my line." I ran to his assistance, and found him lying on the ground on his face, tugging at his line, to which an enormous salmon was attached, that had nearly pulled him into the water. I let it have a little more line, then drew it gently into a shallow, and secured it. It appeared about fifteen pounds weight; and we pleased ourselves with the idea of presenting this to our good cook. Ernest said, he remembered having remarked how this place swarmed with fish, and he took care to bring his rod with him; he had taken about a dozen small fishes, which he had in his handkerchief, before he was overpowered by the salmon. I cut the fishes open, and rubbed the inside with salt, to preserve them; then placing them in a small box on the sledge, and adding our bags of salt, we harnessed our animals, and set off homewards.

When we were about half-way, Flora left us, and, by her barking, raised a singular animal, which seemed to leap instead of ran. The irregular bounds of the animal disconcerted my aim, and, though very near, I missed it. Ernest was more fortunate; he fired at it, and killed it. It was an animal about the size of a sheep, with the tail of a tiger; its head and skin were like those of a mouse, ears longer than the hare; there was a curious pouch on the belly; the fore legs were short, as if imperfectly developed, and armed with strong claws, the hind legs long, like a pair of stilts. After Ernest's pride of victory was a little subdued, he fell back on his science, and began to examine his spoil.

"By its teeth," said he, "it should belong to the family of rodentes, or gnawers; by its legs, to the jumpers; and by its pouch, to the opossum tribe."

This gave me the right clue. "Then," said I, "this must be the animal Cook first discovered in New Holland, and it is called the kangaroo."

We now tied the legs of the animal together, and, putting a stick through, carried it to the sledge very carefully, for Ernest was anxious to preserve the beautiful skin. Our animals were heavily laden; but, giving them a little rest and some fresh grass, we once more started, and in a short time reached Falcon's Nest.

My wife had been employed during our absence in washing the clothes of the three boys, clothing them in the mean time from the sailor's chest we had found a few days before. Their appearance was excessively ridiculous, as the garments neither suited their age nor size, and caused great mirth to us all; but my wife had preferred this disguise to the alternative of their going naked.

We now began to display our riches, and relate our adventures. The butter and the rest of the provisions were very welcome, the salmon still more so, but the sight of the kangaroo produced screams of admiration. Fritz displayed a little jealousy, but soon surmounted it by an exertion of his nobler feelings; and only the keen eye of a father could have discovered it. He congratulated Ernest warmly, but could not help begging to accompany me next time.

"I promise you that," said I, "as a reward for the conquest you have achieved over your jealousy of your brother. But, remember, I could not have given you a greater proof of my confidence, than in leaving you to protect your mother and brothers. A noble mind finds its purest joy in the accomplishment of its duty, and to that willingly sacrifices its inclination. But," I added, in a low tone, lest I should distress my wife, "I propose another expedition to the vessel, and you must accompany me."

We then fed our tired animals, giving them some salt with their grass, a great treat to them. Some salmon was prepared for dinner, and the rest salted. After dinner, I hung up the kangaroo till next day, when we intended to salt and smoke the flesh. Evening arrived, and an excellent supper of fish, ortolans, and potatoes refreshed us; and, after thanks to God, we retired to rest.

* * * * *


I rose early, and descended the ladder, a little uneasy about my kangaroo, and found I was but just in time to save it, for my dogs had so enjoyed their repast on the entrails, which I had given them the night before, that they wished to appropriate the rest. They had succeeded in tearing off the head, which was in their reach, and were devouring it in a sort of growling partnership. As we had no store-room for our provision, I decided to administer a little correction, as a warning to these gluttons. I gave them some smart strokes with a cane, and they fled howling to the stable under the roots. Their cries roused my wife, who came down; and, though she could not but allow the chastisement to be just and prudent, she was so moved by compassion, that she consoled the poor sufferers with some remains of last night's supper.

I now carefully stripped the kangaroo of his elegant skin, and washing myself, and changing my dress after this unpleasant operation, I joined my family at breakfast. I then announced my plan of visiting the vessel, and ordered Fritz to make preparations. My wife resigned herself mournfully to the necessity. When we were ready to depart, Ernest and Jack were not to be found; their mother suspected they had gone to get potatoes. This calmed my apprehension; but I charged her to reprimand them for going without leave. We set out towards Tent House, leaving Flora to protect the household, and taking our guns as usual.

We had scarcely left the wood, and were approaching Jackal River, when we heard piercing cries, and suddenly Ernest and Jack leaped from a thicket, delighted, as Jack said, in having succeeded in their plan of accompanying us, and, moreover, in making us believe we were beset with savages. They were, however, disappointed. I gave them a severe reproof for their disobedience, and sent them home with a message to their mother that I thought we might be detained all night, and begged she would not be uneasy.

They listened to me in great confusion, and were much mortified at their dismissal; but I begged Fritz to give Ernest his silver watch, that they might know how the time passed; and I knew that I could replace it, as there was a case of watches in the ship. This reconciled them a little to their lot, and they left us. We went forward to our boat, embarked, and, aided by the current, soon reached the vessel.

My first care was to construct some more convenient transport-vessel than our boat. Fritz proposed a raft, similar to those used by savage nations, supported on skins filled with air. These we had not; but we found a number of water-hogsheads, which we emptied, and closed again, and threw a dozen of them into the sea, between the ship and our boat. Some long planks were laid on these, and secured with ropes. We added a raised edge of planks to secure our cargo, and thus had a solid raft, capable of conveying any burden. This work occupied us the whole day, scarcely interrupted by eating a little cold meat from our game-bags. Exhausted by fatigue, we were glad to take a good night's rest in the captain's cabin on an elastic mattress, of which our hammocks had made us forget the comfort. Early next morning we began to load our raft.

We began by entirely stripping our own cabin and that of the captain. We carried away even the doors and windows. The chests of the carpenter and the gunner followed. There were cases of rich jewellery, and caskets of money, which at first tempted us, but were speedily relinquished for objects of real utility. I preferred a case of young plants of European fruits, carefully packed in moss for transportation. I saw, with delight, among these precious plants, apple, pear, plum, orange, apricot, peach, almond, and chesnut trees, and some young shoots of vines. How I longed to plant these familiar trees of home in a foreign soil. We secured some bars of iron and pigs of lead, grindstones, cart-wheels ready for mounting, tongs, shovels, plough-shares, packets of copper and iron wire, sacks of maize, peas, oats, and vetches; and even a small hand-mill. The vessel had been, in fact, laden with everything likely to be useful in a new colony. We found a saw-mill in pieces, but marked, so that it could be easily put together. It was difficult to select, but we took as much as was safe on the raft, adding a large fishing-net and the ship's compass. Fritz begged to take the harpoons, which he hung by the ropes over the bow of our boat; and I indulged his fancy. We were now loaded as far as prudence would allow us; so, attaching our raft firmly to the boat, we hoisted our sail, and made slowly to the shore.

* * * * *


The wind was favourable, but we advanced slowly, the floating mass that we had to tug retarding us. Fritz had been some time regarding a large object in the water; he called me to steer a little towards it, that he might see what it was. I went to the rudder, and made the movement; immediately I heard the whistling of the cord, and felt a shock; then a second, which was followed by a rapid motion of the boat.

"We are going to founder!" cried I. "What is the matter?"

"I have caught it," shouted Fritz; "I have harpooned it in the neck. It is a turtle."

I saw the harpoon shining at a distance, and the turtle was rapidly drawing us along by the line. I lowered the sail, and rushed forward to cut the line; but Fritz besought me not to do it. He assured me there was no danger, and that he himself would release us if necessary. I reluctantly consented, and saw our whole convoy drawn by an animal whose agony increased its strength. As we drew near the shore, I endeavoured to steer so that we might not strike and be capsized. I saw after a few minutes that our conductor again wanted to make out to sea; I therefore hoisted the sail, and the wind being in our favour, he found resistance vain, and, tugging as before, followed up the current, only taking more to the left, towards Falcon's Nest, and landing us in a shallow, rested on the shore. I leaped out of the boat, and with a hatchet soon put our powerful conductor out of his misery.

Fritz uttered a shout of joy, and fired off his gun, as a signal of our arrival. All came running to greet us, and great was their surprise, not only at the value of our cargo, but at the strange mode by which it had been brought into harbour. My first care was to send them for the sledge, to remove some of our load without delay, and as the ebbing tide was leaving our vessels almost dry on the sand, I profited by the opportunity to secure them. By the aid of the jack-screw and levers, we raised and brought to the shore two large pieces of lead from the raft. These served for anchors and, connected to the boat and raft by strong cables, fixed them safely.

As soon as the sledge arrived, we placed the turtle with some difficulty on it, as it weighed at least three hundredweight. We added some lighter articles, the mattresses, some small chests, &c., and proceeded with our first load to Falcon's Nest in great spirits. As we walked on, Fritz told them of the wondrous cases of jewellery we had abandoned for things of use; Jack wished Fritz had brought him a gold snuff-box, to hold curious seeds; and Francis wished for some of the money to buy gingerbread at the fair! Everybody laughed at the little simpleton, who could not help laughing himself, when he remembered his distance from fairs. Arrived at home, our first care was to turn the turtle on his back, to get the excellent meat out of the shell. With my hatchet I separated the cartilages that unite the shells: the upper shell is convex, the lower one nearly flat.

We had some of the turtle prepared for dinner, though my wife felt great repugnance in touching the green fat, notwithstanding my assurance of its being the chief delicacy to an epicure.

We salted the remainder of the flesh, and gave the offal to the dogs. The boys were all clamorous to possess the shell; but I said it belonged to Fritz, by right of conquest, and he must dispose of it as he thought best.

"Then," said he, "I will make a basin of it, and place it near the river, that my mother may always keep it full of fresh water."

"Very good," said I, "and we will fill our basin, as soon as we find some clay to make a solid foundation."

"I found some this morning," said Jack,—"a whole bed of clay, and I brought these balls home to show you."

"And I have made a discovery too," said Ernest. "Look at these roots, like radishes; I have not eaten any, but the sow enjoys them very much."

"A most valuable discovery, indeed," said I; "if I am not mistaken, this is the root of the manioc, which with the potatoes will insure us from famine. Of this root they make in the West Indies a sort of bread, called cassava bread. In its natural state it contains a violent poison, but by a process of heating it becomes wholesome. The nutritious tapioca is a preparation from this root."

By this time we had unloaded, and proceeded to the shore to bring a second load before night came on. We brought up two chests of our own clothes and property, some chests of tools, the cart-wheels, and the hand-mill, likely now to be of use for the cassava. After unloading, we sat down to an excellent supper of turtle, with potatoes, instead of bread. After supper, my wife said, smiling, "After such a hard day, I think I can give you something to restore you." She then brought a bottle and glasses, and filled us each a glass of clear, amber-coloured wine. I found it excellent Malaga. She had been down to the shore the previous day, and there found a small cask thrown up by the waves. This, with the assistance of her sons, she had rolled up to the foot of our tree, and there covered it with leaves to keep it cool till our arrival.

We were so invigorated by this cordial, that we set briskly to work to hoist up our mattresses to our dormitory, which we accomplished by the aid of ropes and pulleys. My wife received and arranged them, and after our usual evening devotions, we gladly lay down on them, to enjoy a night of sweet repose.

* * * * *


I rose before daylight, and, leaving my family sleeping, descended, to go to the shore to look after my vessels. I found all the animals moving. The dogs leaped about me; the cocks were crowing; the goats browsing on the dewy grass. The ass alone was sleeping; and, as he was the assistant I wanted, I was compelled to rouse him, a preference which did not appear to flatter him. Nevertheless, I harnessed him to the sledge, and, followed by the dogs, went forward to the coast, where I found my boat and raft safe at anchor. I took up a moderate load and came home to breakfast; but found all still as I left them. I called my family, and they sprung up ashamed of their sloth; my wife declared it must have been the good mattress that had charmed her.

I gave my boys a short admonition for their sloth. We then came down to a hasty breakfast, and returned to the coast to finish the unloading the boats, that I might, at high water, take them round to moor at the usual place in the Bay of Safety. I sent my wife up with the last load, while Fritz and I embarked, and, seeing Jack watching us, I consented that he should form one of the crew, for I had determined to make another visit to the wreck before I moored my craft. When we reached the vessel, the day was so far advanced that we had only time to collect hastily anything easy to embark. My sons ran over the ship. Jack came trundling a wheelbarrow, which he said would be excellent for fetching the potatoes in.

But Fritz brought me good news: he had found, between decks, a beautiful pinnace (a small vessel, of which the prow is square), taken to pieces, with all its fittings, and even two small guns. I saw that all the pieces were numbered, and placed in order; nothing was wanting. I felt the importance of this acquisition; but it would take days of labour to put it together; and then how could we launch it? At present, I felt I must renounce the undertaking. I returned to my loading. It consisted of all sorts of utensils: a copper boiler, some plates of iron, tobacco-graters, two grindstones, a barrel of powder, and one of flints. Jack did not forget his wheelbarrow; and we found two more, which we added to our cargo, and then sailed off speedily, to avoid the land-wind, which rises in the evening.

As we drew near, we were astonished to see a row of little creatures standing on the shore, apparently regarding us with much curiosity. They were dressed in black, with white waistcoats, and thick cravats; their arms hung down carelessly; but from time to time they raised them as if they wished to bestow on us a fraternal embrace.

"I believe," said I, laughing, "this must be the country of pigmies, and they are coming to welcome us."

"They are the Lilliputians, father," said Jack; "I have read of them; but I thought they had been less."

"As if Gulliver's Travels was true!" said Fritz, in a tone of derision.

"Then are there no pigmies?" asked he.

"No, my dear boy," said I; "all these stories are either the invention or the mistakes of ancient navigators, who have taken troops of monkeys for men, or who have wished to repeat something marvellous. But the romance of Gulliver is an allegory, intended to convey great truths."

"And now," said Fritz, "I begin to see our pigmies have beaks and wings."

"You are right," said I; "they are penguins, as Ernest explained to us some time since. They are good swimmers; but, unable to fly, are very helpless on land."

I steered gently to the shore, that I might not disturb them; but Jack leaped into the water up to his knees, and, dashing among the penguins, with a stick struck right and left, knocking down half a dozen of the poor stupid birds before they were aware. Some of these we brought away alive. The rest, not liking such a reception, took to the water, and were soon out of sight. I scolded Jack for his useless rashness, for the flesh of the penguin is by no means a delicacy.

We now filled our three wheelbarrows with such things as we could carry, not forgetting the sheets of iron and the graters, and trudged home. Our dogs announced our approach, and all rushed out to meet us. A curious and merry examination commenced. They laughed at my graters; but I let them laugh, for I had a project in my head. The penguins I intended for our poultry-yard; and, for the present, I ordered the boys to tie each of them by a leg to one of our geese or ducks, who opposed the bondage very clamorously; but necessity made them submissive.

My wife showed me a large store of potatoes and manioc roots, which she and her children had dug up the evening before. We then went to supper, and talked of all we had seen in the vessel, especially of the pinnace, which we had been obliged to leave. My wife did not feel much regret on this account, as she dreaded maritime expeditions, though she agreed she might have felt less uneasiness if we had had a vessel of this description. I gave my sons a charge to rise early next morning, as we had an important business on hand; and curiosity roused them all in very good time. After our usual preparations for the day, I addressed them thus: "Gentlemen, I am going to teach you all a new business,—that of a baker. Give me the plates of iron and the graters we brought yesterday." My wife was astonished; but I requested her to wait patiently and she should have bread, not perhaps light buns, but eatable flat cakes. But first she was to make me two small bags of sailcloth. She obeyed me; but, at the same time, I observed she put the potatoes on the fire, a proof she had not much faith in my bread-making. I then spread a cloth over the ground, and, giving each of the boys a grater, we began to grate the carefully-washed manioc roots, resting the end on the cloth. In a short time we had a heap of what appeared to be moist white sawdust; certainly not tempting to the appetite; but the little workmen were amused with their labour, and jested no little about the cakes made of scraped radishes.

"Laugh now, boys," said I; "we shall see, after a while. But you, Ernest, ought to know that the manioc is one of the most precious of alimentary roots, forming the principal sustenance of many nations of America, and often preferred by Europeans, who inhabit those countries, to wheaten bread."

When all the roots were grated, I filled the two bags closely with the pollard, and my wife sewed the ends up firmly. It was now necessary to apply strong pressure to extract the juice from the root, as this juice is a deadly poison. I selected an oak beam, one end of which we fixed between the roots of our tree; beneath this I placed our bags on a row of little blocks of wood; I then took a large bough, which I had cut from a tree, and prepared for the purpose, and laid it across them. We all united then in drawing down the opposite end of the plank over the bough, till we got it to a certain point, when we suspended to it the heaviest substances we possessed; hammers, bars of iron, and masses of lead. This acting upon the manioc, the sap burst through the cloth, and flowed on the ground copiously. When I thought the pressure was complete, we relieved the bags from the lever, and opening one, drew out a handful of the pollard, still rather moist, resembling coarse maize-flour.

"It only wants a little heat to complete our success," said I, in great delight. I ordered a fire to be lighted, and fixing one of our iron plates, which was round in form, and rather concave, on two stones placed on each side of the fire, I covered it with the flour which we took from the bag with a small wooden shovel. It soon formed a solid cake, which we turned, that it might be equally baked.

It smelled so good, that they all wished to commence eating immediately; and I had some difficulty in convincing them that this was only a trial, and that our baking was still imperfect. Besides, as I told them there were three kinds of manioc, of which one contained more poison than the rest, I thought it prudent to try whether we had perfectly extracted it, by giving a small quantity to our fowls. As soon, therefore, as the cake was cold, I gave some to two chickens, which I kept apart; and also some to Master Knips, the monkey, that he might, for the first time, do us a little service. He ate it with so much relish, and such grimaces of enjoyment, that my young party were quite anxious to share his feast; but I ordered them to wait till we could judge of the effect, and, leaving our employment, we went to our dinner of potatoes, to which my wife had added one of the penguins, which was truly rather tough and fishy; but as Jack would not allow this, and declared it was a dish fit for a king, we allowed him to regale on it as much as he liked. During dinner, I talked to them of the various preparations made from the manioc; I told my wife we could obtain an excellent starch from the expressed juice; but this did not interest her much, as at present she usually wore the dress of a sailor, for convenience, and had neither caps nor collars to starch.

The cake made from the root is called by the natives of the Antilles cassava, and in no savage nation do we find any word signifying bread; an article of food unknown to them.

We spoke of poisons; and I explained to my sons the different nature and effects of them. Especially I warned them against the manchineel, which ought to grow in this part of the world. I described the fruit to them, as resembling a tempting yellow apple, with red spots, which is one of the most deadly poisons: it is said that even to sleep under the tree is dangerous. I forbade them to taste any unknown fruit, and they promised to obey me.

On leaving the table, we went to visit the victims of our experiment. Jack whistled for Knips, who came in three bounds from the summit of a high tree, where he had doubtless been plundering some nest; and his vivacity, and the peaceful cackling of the fowls, assured us our preparation was harmless.

"Now, gentlemen," said I, laughing, "to the bakehouse, and let us see what we can do." I wished them each to try to make the cakes. They immediately kindled the fire and heated the iron plate. In the mean time, I broke up the grated cassava, and mixed it with a little milk; and giving each of them a cocoa-nut basin filled with the paste, I showed them how to pour it with a spoon upon the plate, and spread it about; when the paste began to puff up, I judged it was baked on one side, and turned it, like a pancake, with a fork; and after a little time, we had a quantity of nice yellow biscuits, which, with a jug of milk, made us a delicious collation; and determined us, without delay, to set about cultivating the manioc.

The rest of the day was employed in bringing up the remainder of our cargo, by means of the sledge and the useful wheelbarrows.

* * * * *


The next morning I decided on returning to the wreck. The idea of the pinnace continually haunted my mind, and left me no repose. But it was necessary to take all the hands I could raise, and with difficulty I got my wife's consent to take my three elder sons, on promising her we would return in the evening. We set out, taking provision for the day, and soon arrived at the vessel, when my boys began to load the raft with all manner of portable things. But the great matter was the pinnace. It was contained in the after-hold of the vessel, immediately below the officers' berths. My sons, with all the ardour of their age, begged to begin by clearing a space in the vessel to put the pinnace together, and we might afterwards think how we should launch it. Under any other circumstances I should have shown them the folly of such an undertaking; but in truth, I had myself a vague hope of success, that encouraged me, and I cried out, "To work! to work!" The hold was lighted by some chinks in the ship's side. We set diligently to work, hacking, cutting, and sawing away all obstacles, and before evening we had a clear space round us. But now it was necessary to return, and we put to sea with our cargo, purposing to continue our work daily. On reaching the Bay of Safety, we had the pleasure of finding my wife and Francis, who had established themselves at Tent House, intending to continue there till our visits to the vessel were concluded; that they might always keep us in sight, and spare us the unnecessary labour of a walk after our day's work.

I thanked my wife tenderly for this kind sacrifice, for I knew how much she enjoyed the cool shade of Falcon's Nest; and in return I showed her the treasures we had brought her from the vessel, consisting of two barrels of salt butter, three hogsheads of flour, several bags of millet, rice, and other grains, and a variety of useful household articles, which she conveyed with great delight to our storehouse in the rocks.

For a week we spent every day in the vessel, returning in the evening to enjoy a good supper, and talk of our progress; and my wife, happily engrossed with her poultry and other household cares, got accustomed to our absence. With much hard labour, the pinnace was at last put together. Its construction was light and elegant, it looked as if it would sail well; at the head was a short half-deck; the masts and sails were like those of a brigantine. We carefully caulked all the seams with tow dipped in melted tar; and we even indulged ourselves by placing the two small guns in it, fastened by chains.

And there stood the beautiful little bark, immovable on the stocks. We admired it incessantly; but what could we do to get it afloat? The difficulty of forcing a way through the mighty timbers lined with copper, that formed the side of the ship, was insurmountable.

Suddenly, suggested by the excess of my despair, a bold but dangerous idea presented itself to me, in which all might be lost, as well as all gained. I said nothing about this to my children, to avoid the vexation of a possible disappointment, but began to execute my plan.

I found a cast-iron mortar, exactly fitted for my purpose, which I filled with gunpowder. I then took a strong oak plank to cover it, to which I fixed iron hooks, so that they could reach the handles of the mortar. I cut a groove in the side of the plank, that I might introduce a long match, which should burn at least two hours before it reached the powder. I placed the plank then over the mortar, fastened the hooks through the handles, surrounded it with pitch, and then bound some strong chains round the whole, to give it greater solidity. I proceeded to suspend this infernal machine against the side of the ship near our work, taking care to place it where the recoil from the explosion should not injure the pinnace. When all was ready, I gave the signal of departure, my sons having been employed in the boat, and not observing my preparations. I remained a moment to fire the match, and then hastily joined them with a beating heart, and proceeded to the shore.

As soon as we reached our harbour, I detached the raft, that I might return in the boat as soon as I heard the explosion. We began actively to unload the boat, and while thus employed, a report like thunder was heard. All trembled, and threw down their load in terror.

"What can it be?" cried they. "Perhaps a signal from some vessel in distress. Let us go to their assistance."

"It came from the vessel," said my wife. "It must have blown up. You have not been careful of fire; and have left some near a barrel of gunpowder."

"At all events," said I, "we will go and ascertain the cause. Who'll go with me?"

By way of reply, my three sons leaped into the boat, and consoling the anxious mother by a promise to return immediately, away we rowed. We never made the voyage so quickly. Curiosity quickened the movements of my sons, and I was all impatience to see the result of my project. As we approached, I was glad to see no appearance of flames, or even smoke. The position of the vessel did not seem altered. Instead of entering the vessel as usual, we rounded the prow, and came opposite the other side. The greater part of the side of the ship was gone. The sea was covered with the remains of it. In its place stood our beautiful pinnace, quite uninjured, only leaning a little over the stocks. At the sight I cried out, in a transport that amazed my sons, "Victory! victory! the charming vessel is our own; it will be easy now to launch her."

"Ah! I comprehend now," said Fritz. "Papa has blown up the ship; but how could you manage to do it so exactly?"

I explained all to him, as we entered through the broken side of the devoted vessel. I soon ascertained that no fire remained; and that the pinnace had escaped any injury. We set to work to clear away all the broken timbers in our way, and, by the aid of the jack-screw and levers, we moved the pinnace, which we had taken care to build on rollers, to the opening; then attaching a strong cable to her head, and fixing the other end to the most solid part of the ship, we easily launched her. It was too late to do any more now, except carefully securing our prize. And we returned to the good mother, to whom, wishing to give her an agreeable surprise, we merely said, that the side of the vessel was blown out with powder; but we were still able to obtain more from it; at which she sighed, and, in her heart, I have no doubt, wished the vessel, and all it contained, at the bottom of the sea.

We had two days of incessant labour in fitting and loading the pinnace; finally, after putting up our masts, ropes, and sails, we selected a cargo of things our boats could not bring. When all was ready, my boys obtained permission, as a reward for their industry, to salute their mamma, as we entered the bay, by firing our two guns. Fritz was captain, and Ernest and Jack, at his command, put their matches to the guns, and fired. My wife and little boy rushed out in alarm; but our joyful shouts soon re-assured them; and they were ready to welcome us with astonishment and delight. Fritz placed a plank from the pinnace to the shore, and, assisting his mother, she came on board. They gave her a new salute, and christened the vessel The Elizabeth, after her.

My wife praised our skill and perseverance, but begged we would not suppose that Francis and she had been idle during our long absence. We moored the little fleet safely to the shore, and followed her up the river to the cascade, where we saw a neat garden laid out in beds and walks.

"This is our work," said she; "the soil here, being chiefly composed of decayed leaves, is light and easy to dig. There I have my potatoes; there manioc roots: these are sown with peas, beans and lentils; in this row of beds are sown lettuces, radishes, cabbages, and other European vegetables. I have reserved one part for sugar-canes; on the high ground I have transplanted pine-apples, and sown melons. Finally, round every bed, I have sown a border of maize, that the high, bushy stems may protect the young plants from the sun."

I was delighted with the result of the labour and industry of a delicate female and a child, and could scarcely believe it was accomplished in so short a time.

"I must confess I had no great hope of success at first," said my wife, "and this made me averse to speaking of it. Afterwards, when I suspected you had a secret, I determined to have one, too, and give you a surprise."

After again applauding these useful labours, we returned to discharge our cargo; and as we went, my good Elizabeth, still full of horticultural plans, reminded me of the young fruit-trees we had brought from the vessel. I promised to look after them next day, and to establish my orchard near her kitchen-garden.

We unloaded our vessels; placed on the sledge all that might be useful at Falcon's Nest; and, arranging the rest under the tent, fixed our pinnace to the shore, by means of the anchor and a cord fastened to a heavy stone; and at length set out to Falcon's Nest, where we arrived soon, to the great comfort of my wife, who dreaded the burning plain at Tent House.

* * * * *


After our return to Falcon's Nest, I requested my sons to continue their exercises in gymnastics. I wished to develope all the vigour and energy that nature had given them; and which, in our situation, were especially necessary. I added to archery, racing, leaping, wrestling, and climbing trees, either by the trunks, or by a rope suspended from the branches, as sailors climb. I next taught them to use the lasso, a powerful weapon, by aid of which the people of South America capture savage animals. I fixed two balls of lead to the ends of a cord about a fathom in length. The Patagonians, I told them, used this weapon with wonderful dexterity. Having no leaden balls, they attach a heavy stone to each end of a cord about thirty yards long. If they wish to capture an animal, they hurl one of the stones at it with singular address. By the peculiar art with which the ball is thrown, the rope makes a turn or two round the neck of the animal, which remains entangled, without the power of escaping. In order to show the power of this weapon, I took aim at the trunk of a tree which they pointed out. My throw was quite successful. The end of the rope passed two or three times round the trunk of the tree, and remained firmly fixed to it. If the tree had been the neck of a tiger, I should have been absolute master of it. This experiment decided them all to learn the use of the lasso. Fritz was soon skilful in throwing it, and I encouraged the rest to persevere in acquiring the same facility, as the weapon might be invaluable to us when our ammunition failed.

The next morning I saw, on looking out, that the sea was too much agitated for any expedition in the boats; I therefore turned to some home employments. We looked over our stores for winter provision. My wife showed me a cask of ortolans she had preserved in butter, and a quantity of loaves of cassava bread, carefully prepared. She pointed out, that the pigeons had built in the tree, and were sitting on their eggs. We then looked over the young fruit-trees brought from Europe, and my sons and I immediately laid out a piece of ground, and planted them.

The day passed in these employments; and as we had lived only on potatoes, cassava bread, and milk for this day, we determined to go off next morning in pursuit of game to recruit our larder. At dawn of day we all started, including little Francis and his mother, who wished to take this opportunity of seeing a little more of the country. My sons and I took our arms, I harnessed the ass to the sledge which contained our provision for the day, and was destined to bring back the products of the chase. Turk, accoutred in his coat of mail, formed the advanced guard; my sons followed with their guns; then came my wife with Francis leading the ass; and at a little distance I closed the procession, with Master Knips mounted on the patient Flora.

We crossed Flamingo Marsh, and there my wife was charmed with the richness of the vegetation and the lofty trees. Fritz left us, thinking this a favourable spot for game. We soon heard the report of his gun, and an enormous bird fell a few paces from us. I ran to assist him, as he had much difficulty in securing his prize, which was only wounded in the wing, and was defending itself vigorously with its beak and claws. I threw a handkerchief over its head, and, confused by the darkness, I had no difficulty in binding it, and conveying it in triumph to the sledge. We were all in raptures at the sight of this beautiful creature, which Ernest pronounced to be a female of the bustard tribe. My wife hoped that the bird might be domesticated among her poultry, and, attracting some more of its species, might enlarge our stock of useful fowls. We soon arrived at the Wood of Monkeys, as we called it, where we had obtained our cocoa-nuts; and Fritz related the laughable scene of the stratagem to his mother and brothers. Ernest looked up wistfully at the nuts, but there were no monkeys to throw them down.

"Do they never fall from the trees?" and hardly had he spoken, when a large cocoa-nut fell at his feet, succeeded by a second, to my great astonishment, for I saw no animal in the tree, and I was convinced the nuts in the half-ripe state, as these were, could not fall of themselves.

"It is exactly like a fairy tale," said Ernest; "I had only to speak, and my wish was accomplished."

"And here comes the magician," said I, as, after a shower of nuts, I saw a huge land-crab descending the tree quietly, and quite regardless of our presence. Jack boldly struck a blow at him, but missed, and the animal, opening its enormous claws, made up to its opponent, who fled in terror. But the laughter of his brothers made him ashamed, and recalling his courage, he pulled off his coat, and threw it over the back of the crab; this checked its movements, and going to his assistance, I killed it with a blow of my hatchet.

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