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The Swiss Family Robinson; or Adventures in a Desert Island
by Johann David Wyss
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They all crowded round the frightful animal, anxious to know what it was. I told them it was a land-crab—which we might call the cocoa-nut crab, as we owed such a store to it. Being unable to break the shell of the nut, of which they are very fond, they climb the tree, and break them off, in the unripe state. They then descend to enjoy their feast, which they obtain by inserting their claw through the small holes in the end, and abstracting the contents. They sometimes find them broken by the fall, when they can eat them at pleasure.

The hideousness of the animal, and the mingled terror and bravery of Jack, gave us subject of conversation for some time. We placed our booty on the sledge, and continued to go on through the wood. Our path became every instant more intricate, from the amazing quantity of creeping plants which choked the way, and obliged us to use the axe continually. The heat was excessive, and we got on slowly, when Ernest, always observing, and who was a little behind us, cried out, "Halt! a new and important discovery!" We returned, and he showed us, that from the stalk of one of the creepers we had cut with our axe, there was issuing clear, pure water. It was the liane rouge, which, in America, furnishes the hunter such a precious resource against thirst. Ernest was much pleased; he filled a cocoa-nut cup with the water, which flowed from the cut stalks like a fountain, and carried it to his mother, assuring her she might drink fearlessly; and we all had the comfort of allaying our thirst, and blessing the Gracious Hand who has placed this refreshing plant in the midst of the dry wilderness for the benefit of man.



We now marched on with more vigour, and soon arrived at the Gourd Wood, where my wife and younger sons beheld with wonder the growth of this remarkable fruit. Fritz repeated all the history of our former attempts, and cut some gourds to make his mother some egg-baskets, and a large spoon to cream the milk. But we first sat down under the shade, and took some refreshment; and afterwards, while we all worked at making baskets, bowls, and flasks, Ernest, who had no taste for such labour, explored the wood. Suddenly we saw him running to us, in great terror, crying, "A wild boar! Papa; a great wild boar!" Fritz and I seized our guns, and ran to the spot he pointed out, the dogs preceding us. We soon heard barking and loud grunting, which proved the combat had begun, and, hoping for a good prize, we hastened forward; when, what was our vexation, when we found the dogs holding by the ears, not a wild boar, but our own great sow, whose wild and intractable disposition had induced her to leave us, and live in the woods! We could not but laugh at our disappointment, after a while, and I made the dogs release the poor sow, who immediately resumed her feast on a small fruit, which had fallen from the trees, and, scattered on the ground, had evidently tempted the voracious beast to this part. I took up one of these apples, which somewhat resembled a medlar, and opening it, found the contents of a rich and juicy nature, but did not venture to taste it till we had put it to the usual test. We collected a quantity—I even broke a loaded branch from the tree, and we returned to our party. Master Knips no sooner saw them than he seized on some, and crunched them up with great enjoyment. This satisfied me that the fruit was wholesome, and we regaled ourselves with some. My wife was especially delighted when I told her this must be the guava, from which the delicious jelly is obtained, so much prized in America.

"But, with all this," said Fritz, "we have a poor show of game. Do let us leave mamma with the young ones, and set off, to see what we can meet with."

I consented, and we left Ernest with his mother and Francis, Jack wishing to accompany us. We made towards the rocks at the right hand, and Jack preceded us a little, when he startled us by crying out, "A crocodile, papa!—a crocodile!"

"You simpleton!" said I, "a crocodile in a place where there is not a drop of water!"

"Papa!—I see it!" said the poor child, his eyes fixed on one spot; "it is there, on this rock, sleeping. I am sure it is a crocodile!"

As soon as I was near enough to distinguish it, I assured him his crocodile was a very harmless lizard, called the iguana, whose eggs and flesh were excellent food. Fritz would immediately have shot at this frightful creature, which was about five feet in length. I showed him that his scaly coat rendered such an attempt useless. I then cut a strong stick and a light wand. To the end of the former I attached a cord with a noose; this I held in my right hand, keeping the wand in my left. I approached softly, whistling. The animal awoke, apparently listening with pleasure. I drew nearer, tickling him gently with the wand. He lifted up his head, and opened his formidable jaws. I then dexterously threw the noose round his neck, drew it, and, jumping on his back, by the aid of my sons, held him down, though he succeeded in giving Jack a desperate blow with his tail. Then, plunging my wand up his nostrils, a few drops of blood came, and he died apparently without pain.

We now carried off our game. I took him on my back, holding him by the fore-claws, while my boys carried the tail behind me; and, with shouts of laughter, the procession returned to the sledge.

Poor little Francis was in great dismay when he saw the terrible monster we brought, and began to cry; but we rallied him out of his cowardice, and his mother, satisfied with our exploits, begged to return home. As the sledge was heavily laden, we decided to leave it till the next day, placing on the ass, the iguana, the crab, our gourd vessels, and a bag of the guavas, little Francis being also mounted. The bustard we loosed, and, securing it by a string tied to one of its legs, led it with us.

We arrived at home in good time. My wife prepared part of the iguana for supper, which was pronounced excellent. The crab was rejected as tough and tasteless. Our new utensils were then tried, the egg-baskets and the milk-bowls, and Fritz was charged to dig a hole in the earth, to be covered with boards, and serve as a dairy, till something better was thought of. Finally, we ascended our leafy abode, and slept in peace.

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CHAPTER XXII.

I projected an excursion with my eldest son, to explore the limits of our country, and satisfy ourselves that it was an island, and not a part of the continent. We set out, ostensibly, to bring the sledge we had left the previous evening. I took Turk and the ass with us, and left Flora with my wife and children, and, with a bag of provisions, we left Falcon's Nest as soon as breakfast was over.

In crossing a wood of oaks, covered with the sweet, eatable acorn, we again met with the sow; our service to her in the evening did not seem to be forgotten, for she appeared tamer, and did not run from us. A little farther on, we saw some beautiful birds. Fritz shot some, among which I recognized the large blue Virginian jay, and some different kinds of parrots. As he was reloading his gun, we heard at a distance a singular noise, like a muffled drum, mingled with the sound made in sharpening a saw. It might be savages; and we plunged into a thicket, and there discovered the cause of the noise in a brilliant green bird, seated on the withered trunk of a tree. It spread its wings and tail, and strutted about with strange contortions, to the great delight of its mates, who seemed lost in admiration of him. At the same time, he made the sharp cry we heard, and, striking his wing against the tree, produced the drum-like sound. I knew this to be the ruffed grouse, one of the greatest ornaments of the forests of America. My insatiable hunter soon put an end to the scene; he fired at the bird, who fell dead, and his crowd of admirers, with piercing cries, took to flight.

I reprimanded my son for so rashly killing everything we met with without consideration, and for the mere love of destruction. He seemed sensible of his error, and, as the thing was done, I thought it as well to make the best of it, and sent him to pick up his game.

"What a creature!" said he, as he brought it; "how it would have figured in our poultry-yard, if I had not been in such a hurry."

We went on to our sledge in the Gourd Wood, and, as the morning was not far advanced, we determined to leave all here, and proceed in our projected excursion beyond the chain of rocks. But we took the ass with us to carry our provisions, and any game or other object we should meet with in the new country we hoped to penetrate. Amongst gigantic trees, and through grass of a prodigious height, we travelled with some labour, looking right and left to avoid danger, or to make discoveries. Turk walked the first, smelling the air; then came the donkey, with his grave and careless step; and we followed, with our guns in readiness. We met with plains of potatoes and of manioc, amongst the stalks of which were sporting tribes of agoutis; but we were not tempted by such game.

We now met with a new kind of bush covered with small white berries about the size of a pea. On pressing these berries, which adhered to my fingers, I discovered that this plant was the Myrica cerifera, or candle-berry myrtle, from which a wax is obtained that may be made into candles. With great pleasure I gathered a bag of these berries, knowing how my wife would appreciate this acquisition; for she often lamented that we were compelled to go to bed with the birds, as soon as the sun set.

We forgot our fatigue, as we proceeded, in contemplation of the wonders of nature, flowers of marvellous beauty, butterflies of more dazzling colours than the flowers, and birds graceful in form, and brilliant in plumage. Fritz climbed a tree, and succeeded in securing a young green parrot, which he enveloped in his handkerchief, with the intention of bringing it up, and teaching it to speak. And now we met with another wonder: a number of birds who lived in a community, in nests, sheltered by a common roof, in the formation of which they had probably laboured jointly. This roof was composed of straw and dry sticks, plastered with clay, which rendered it equally impenetrable to sun or rain. Pressed as we were for time, I could not help stopping to admire this feathered colony. This leading us to speak of natural history, as it relates to animals who live in societies, we recalled in succession the ingenious labours of the beavers and the marmots; the not less marvellous constructions of the bees, the wasps, and the ants; and I mentioned particularly those immense ant-hills of America, of which the masonry is finished with such skill and solidity that they are sometimes used for ovens, to which they bear a resemblance.

We had now reached some trees quite unknown to us. They were from forty to sixty feet in height, and from the bark, which was cracked in many places, issued small balls of a thick gum. Fritz got one off with difficulty, it was so hardened by the sun. He wished to soften it with his hands, but found that heat only gave it the power of extension, and that by pulling the two extremities, and then releasing them, it immediately resumed its first form.

Fritz ran to me, crying out, "I have found some India-rubber!"

"If that be true," said I, "you have made a most valuable discovery."

He thought I was laughing at him, for we had no drawing to rub out here.

I told him this gum might be turned to many useful purposes; among the rest we might make excellent shoes of it. This interested him. How could we accomplish this?

"The caoutchouc," said I, "is the milky sap which is obtained from certain trees of the Euphorbium kind, by incisions made in the bark. It is collected in vessels, care being taken to agitate them, that the liquid may not coagulate. In this state they cover little clay bottles with successive layers of it, till it attains the required thickness. It is then dried in smoke, which gives it the dark brown colour. Before it is quite dry, it is ornamented by lines and flowers drawn with the knife. Finally, they break the clay form, and extract it from the mouth; and there remains the India-rubber bottle of commerce, soft and flexible. Now, this is my plan for shoemaking; we will fill a stocking with sand, cover it with repeated layers of the gum till it is of the proper thickness; then empty out the sand, and, if I do not deceive myself, we shall have perfect boots or shoes."

Comfortable in the hope of new boots, we advanced through an interminable forest of various trees. The monkeys on the cocoa-nut trees furnished us with pleasant refreshment, and a small store of nuts besides. Among these trees I saw some lower bushes, whose leaves were covered with a white dust. I opened the trunk of one of these, which had been torn up by the wind, and found in the interior a white farinaceous substance, which, on tasting, I knew to be the sago imported into Europe. This, as connected with our subsistence, was a most important affair, and my son and I, with our hatchets, laid open the tree, and obtained from it twenty-five pounds of the valuable sago.

This occupied us an hour; and, weary and hungry, I thought it prudent not to push our discoveries farther this day. We therefore returned to the Gourd Wood, placed all our treasures on the sledge, and took our way home. We arrived without more adventures, and were warmly greeted, and our various offerings gratefully welcomed, especially the green parrot. We talked of the caoutchouc, and new boots, with great delight during supper; and, afterwards, my wife looked with exceeding content at her bag of candle-berries, anticipating the time when we should not have to go to bed, as we did now, as soon as the sun set.

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CHAPTER XXIII.

The next morning my wife and children besought me to begin my manufacture of candles. I remembered having seen the chandler at work, and I tried to recall all my remembrances of the process. I put into a boiler as many berries as it would hold, and placed it over a moderate fire: the wax melted from the berries, and rose to the surface, and this I carefully skimmed with a large flat spoon and put in a separate vessel placed near the fire; when this was done, my wife supplied me with some wicks she had made from the threads of sailcloth; these wicks were attached, four at a time, to a small stick; I dipped them into the wax, and placed them on two branches of a tree to dry; I repeated this operation as often as necessary to make them the proper thickness, and then placed them in a cool spot to harden. But we could not forbear trying them that very night; and, thought somewhat rude in form, it was sufficient that they reminded us of our European home, and prolonged our days by many useful hours we had lost before.

This encouraged me to attempt another enterprise. My wife had long regretted that she had not been able to make butter. She had attempted to beat her cream in a vessel, but either the heat of the climate, or her want of patience, rendered her trials unsuccessful. I felt that I had not skill enough to make a churn; but I fancied that by some simple method, like that used by the Hottentots, who put their cream in a skin and shake it till they produce butter, we might obtain the same result. I cut a large gourd in two, filled it with three quarts of cream, then united the parts, and secured them closely. I fastened a stick to each corner of a square piece of sailcloth, placed the gourd in the middle, and, giving a corner to each of my sons, directed them to rock the cloth with a slow, regular motion, as you would a child's cradle. This was quite an amusement for them; and at the end of an hour, my wife had the pleasure of placing before us some excellent butter. I then tried to make a cart, our sledge being unfitted for some roads; the wheels I had brought from the wreck rendered this less difficult; and I completed a very rude vehicle, which was, nevertheless, very useful to us.

While I was thus usefully employed, my wife and children were not idle. They had transplanted the European trees, and thoughtfully placed each in the situation best suited to it. I assisted with my hands and counsels. The vines we planted round the roots of our trees, and hoped in time to form a trellis-work. Of the chesnut, walnut, and cherry-trees, we formed an avenue from Falcon's Nest to Family Bridge, which, we hoped, would ultimately be a shady road between our two mansions. We made a solid road between the two rows of trees, raised in the middle and covered with sand, which we brought from the shore in our wheelbarrows. I also made a sort of tumbril, to which we harnessed the ass, to lighten this difficult labour.

We then turned our thoughts to Tent House, our first abode, and which still might form our refuge in case of danger. Nature had not favoured it; but our labour soon supplied all deficiencies. We planted round it every tree that requires ardent heat; the citron, pistachio, the almond, the mulberry, the Siamese orange, of which the fruit is as large as the head of a child, and the Indian fig, with its long prickly leaves, all had a place here. These plantations succeeding admirably, we had, after some time, the pleasure of seeing the dry and sandy desert converted into a shady grove, rich in flowers and fruit. As this place was the magazine for our arms, ammunition, and provisions of all sorts; we made a sort of fortress of it, surrounding it with a high hedge of strong, thorny trees; so that not only to wild beasts, but even to human enemies, it was inaccessible. Our bridge was the only point of approach, and we always carefully removed the first planks after crossing it. We also placed our two cannon on a little elevation within the enclosure; and, finally, we planted some cedars, near our usual landing-place, to which we might, at a future time, fasten our vessels. These labours occupied us three months, only interrupted by a strict attention to the devotions and duties of the Sunday. I was most especially grateful to God for the robust health we all enjoyed, in the midst of our employments. All went on well in our little colony. We had an abundant and certain supply of provisions; but our wardrobe, notwithstanding the continual repairing my wife bestowed on it, was in a most wretched state, and we had no means of renewing it, except by again visiting the wreck, which I knew still contained some chests of clothes, and bales of cloth. This decided me to make another voyage; besides I was rather anxious to see the state of the vessel.

We found it much in the same condition we had left it, except being much more shattered by the winds and waves.

We selected many useful things for our cargo; the bales of linen and woollen cloth were not forgotten; some barrels of tar; and everything portable that we could remove; doors, windows, tables, benches, locks and bolts, all the ammunition, and even such of the guns as we could move. In fact we completely sacked the vessel; carrying off, after several days' labour, all our booty, with the exception of some weighty articles, amongst which were three or four immense boilers, intended for a sugar-manufactory. These we tied to some large empty casks, which we pitched completely over, and hoped they would be able to float in the water.

When we had completed our arrangements, I resolved to blow up the ship. We placed a large barrel of gunpowder in the hold, and arranging a long match from it, which would burn some hours, we lighted it, and proceeded without delay to Safety Bay to watch the event. I proposed to my wife to sup on a point of land where we could distinctly see the vessel. Just as the sun was going down, a majestic rolling, like thunder, succeeded by a column of fire, announced the destruction of the vessel, which had brought us from Europe, and bestowed its great riches on us. We could not help shedding tears, as we heard the last mournful cry of this sole remaining bond that connected us with home. We returned sorrowfully to Tent House, and felt as if we had lost an old friend.

We rose early next morning, and hastened to the shore, which we found covered with the wreck, which, with a little exertion, we found it easy to collect. Amongst the rest, were the large boilers. We afterwards used these to cover our barrels of gunpowder, which we placed in a part of the rock, where, even if an explosion took place, no damage could ensue.

My wife, in assisting us with the wreck, made the agreeable discovery, that two of our ducks, and one goose, had hatched each a brood, and were leading their noisy young families to the water. This reminded us of all our poultry and domestic comfort, at Falcon's Nest, and we determined to defer, for some time, the rest of our work at Tent House, and to return the next day to our shady summer home.

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CHAPTER XXIV.

As we went along the avenue of fruit-trees, I was concerned to see my young plants beginning to droop, and I immediately resolved to proceed to Cape Disappointment the next morning, to cut bamboos to make props for them. It was determined we should all go, as, on our arrival at Falcon's Nest, we discovered many other supplies wanting. The candles were failing: we must have more berries, for now my wife sewed by candlelight, while I wrote my journal. She wanted, also, some wild-fowls' eggs to set under her hens. Jack wanted some guavas, and Francis wished for some sugar-canes. So we made a family tour of it, taking the cart, with the cow and ass, to contain our provision, and a large sailcloth, to make a tent. The weather was delightful, and we set out singing, in great spirits.

We crossed the potato and manioc plantations, and the wood of guavas, on which my boys feasted to their great satisfaction. The road was rugged, but we assisted to move the cart, and rested frequently. We stopped to see the bird colony, which greatly delighted them all, and Ernest declared they belonged to the species of Loxia gregaria, the sociable grosbeak. He pointed out to us their wonderful instinct in forming their colony in the midst of the candle-berry bushes, on which they feed. We filled two bags with these berries, and another with guavas, my wife proposing to make jelly from them.

We then proceeded to the caoutchouc-tree, and here I determined to rest awhile, to collect some of the valuable gum. I had brought some large gourd-shells with me for the purpose. I made incisions in the trees, and placed these bowls to receive the gum, which soon began to run out in a milky stream, and we hoped to find them filled on our return. We turned a little to the left, and entered a beautiful and fertile plain, bounded on one side by the sugar-canes, behind which rose a wood of palms, on the other by the bamboos; and before us was Cape Disappointment, backed by the ocean—a magnificent picture.

We at once decided to make this our resting-place; we even thought of transferring our residence from Falcon's Nest to this spot; but we dismissed the thought, when we reflected on the perfect security of our dear castle in the air. We contented ourselves with arranging to make this always our station for refreshment in our excursions. We loosed our animals, and allowed them to graze on the rich grass around us. We arranged to spend the night here, and, taking a light repast, we separated on our several employments—some to cut sugar-canes, others bamboos, and, after stripping them, to make them into bundles, and place them in the cart. This hard work made the boys hungry; they refreshed themselves with sugar-canes, but had a great desire to have some cocoa-nuts. Unfortunately, there were neither monkeys nor crabs to bestow them, and the many attempts they made to climb the lofty, bare trunk of the palm ended only in disappointment and confusion. I went to their assistance. I gave them pieces of the rough skin of the shark, which I had brought for the purpose, to brace on their legs, and showing them how to climb, by the aid of a cord fastened round the tree with a running noose, a method practised with success by the savages, my little climbers soon reached the summit of the trees; they then used their hatchets, which they had carried up in their girdles, and a shower of cocoa-nuts fell down. These furnished a pleasant dessert, enlivened by the jests of Fritz and Jack, who, being the climbers, did not spare Doctor Ernest, who had contented himself with looking up at them; and even now, regardless of their banter, he was lost in some new idea. Rising suddenly, and looking at the palms, he took a cocoa-nut cup, and a tin flask with a handle, and gravely addressed us thus:—

"Gentlemen and lady! this exercise of climbing is really very disagreeable and difficult; but since it confers so much honour on the undertakers, I should like also to attempt an adventure, hoping to do something at once glorious and agreeable to the company."

He then bound his legs with the pieces of shark's skin, and with singular vigour and agility sprung up a palm which he had long been attentively examining. His brothers laughed loudly at his taking the trouble to ascend a tree that had not a single nut on it. Ernest took no notice of their ridicule, but, as soon as he reached the top, struck with his hatchet, and a tuft of tender yellow leaves fell at our feet, which I recognized as the product of the cabbage-palm, a delicate food, highly valued in America. His mother thought it a mischievous act, to destroy the tree thus; but he assured her his prize was worth many cocoa-nuts. But our hero did not descend; and I asked him if he wanted to replace the cabbage he had cut off?

"Wait a little," said he; "I am bringing you some wine to drink my health; but it comes slower than I could wish."

He now descended, holding his cocoa-cup, into which he poured from the flask a clear rose-coloured liquor, and, presenting it to me, begged me to drink. It was, indeed, the true palm-wine, which is as pleasant as champaign, and, taken moderately, a great restorative.

We all drank; and Ernest was praised and thanked by all, till he forgot all the scoffs he had received.

As it was getting late, we set about putting up our tent for the night, when suddenly our ass, who had been quietly grazing near us, began to bray furiously, erected his ears, kicking right and left, and, plunging into the bamboos, disappeared. This made us very uneasy. I could not submit to lose the useful animal; and, moreover, I was afraid his agitation announced the approach of some wild beast. The dogs and I sought for any trace of it in vain; I therefore, to guard against any danger, made a large fire before our tent, which I continued to watch till midnight, when, all being still, I crept into the tent, to my bed of moss, and slept undisturbed till morning.

In the morning we thanked God for our health and safety, and then began to lament our poor donkey, which, I hoped, might have been attracted by the light of our fire, and have returned; but we saw nothing of him, and we decided that his services were so indispensable, that I should go, with one of my sons, and the two dogs, in search of him, and cross the thickets of bamboo. I chose to take Jack with me, to his great satisfaction, for Fritz and Ernest formed a better guard for their mother in a strange place. We set out, well armed, with bags of provisions on our back, and after an hour's fruitless search among the canes, We emerged beyond them, in an extensive plain on the borders of the great bay. We saw that the ridge of rocks still extended on the right till it nearly reached the shore, when it abruptly terminated in a perpendicular precipice. A considerable river flowed into the bay here, and between the river and the rock was a narrow passage, which at high water would be overflowed. We thought it most likely that our ass had passed by this defile; and I wished to see whether these rocks merely bordered or divided the island; we therefore went forward till we met with a stream, which fell in a cascade from a mass of rocks into the river. We ascended the stream till we found a place shallow enough to cross. Here we saw the shoemarks of our ass, mingled with the footsteps of other animals, and at a distance we saw a herd of animals, but could not distinguish what they were. We ascended a little hill, and, through our telescope, saw a most beautiful and fertile country, breathing peace and repose. To our right rose the majestic chain of rocks that divided the island. On our left a succession of beautiful green hills spread to the horizon. Woods of palms and various unknown trees were scattered over the scene. The beautiful stream meandered across the valley like a silver ribbon, bordered by rushes and other aquatic plants. There was no trace of the footstep of man. The country had all the purity of its first creation; no living creatures but some beautiful birds and brilliant butterflies appeared.

But, at a distance, we saw some specks, which I concluded were the animals we had first seen, and I resolved to go nearer, in hopes our ass might have joined them. We made towards the spot, and, to shorten the road, crossed a little wood of bamboos, the stalks of which, as thick as a man's thigh, rose to the height of thirty feet. I suspected this to be the giant reed of America, so useful for the masts of boats and canoes. I promised Jack to allow him to cut some on our return; but at present the ass was my sole care. When we had crossed the wood, we suddenly came face to face on a herd of buffaloes, not numerous certainly, but formidable in appearance. At the sight, I was absolutely petrified, and my gun useless. Fortunately the dogs were in the rear, and the animals, lifting their heads, and fixing their large eyes on us, seemed more astonished than angry—we were the first men probably they had ever seen.

We drew back a little, prepared our arms, and endeavoured to retreat, when the dogs arrived, and, notwithstanding our efforts to restrain them, flew at the buffaloes. It was no time now to retreat; the combat was begun. The whole troop uttered the most frightful roars, beat the ground with their feet, and butted with their horns. Our brave dogs were not intimidated, but marched straight upon the enemy, and, falling on a young buffalo that had strayed before the rest, seized it by the ears. The creature began to bellow, and struggle to escape; its mother ran to its assistance, and, with her, the whole herd. At that moment,—I tremble as I write it, I gave the signal to my brave Jack, who behaved with admirable coolness, and at the same moment we fired on the herd. The effect was wonderful: they paused a moment, and then, even before the smoke was dissipated, took to flight with incredible rapidity, forded the river, and were soon out of sight. My dogs still held their prize, and the mother, though wounded by our shot, tore up the ground in her fury, and was advancing on the dogs to destroy them; but I stepped forward, and discharging a pistol between the horns, put an end to her life.

We began to breathe. We had looked death in the face,—a most horrible death; and thanked God for our preservation. I praised Jack for his courage and presence of mind; any fear or agitation on his part would have unnerved me, and rendered our fate certain. The dogs still held the young calf by the ears, it bellowed incessantly, and I feared they would either be injured or lose their prize. I went up to their assistance. I hardly knew how to act. I could easily have killed it; but I had a great desire to carry it off alive, and try to tame it, to replace our ass, whom I did not intend to follow farther. A happy idea struck Jack: he always carried his lasso in his pocket; he drew it out, retired a little, and flung it so dexterously that he completely wound it round the hind legs of the calf, and threw it down. I now approached; I replaced the lasso by a stronger cord, and used another to bind his fore legs loosely. Jack cried victory, and already thought how his mother and brothers would be delighted, when we presented it; but that was no easy matter. At last I thought of the method used in Italy to tame the wild bulls, and I resolved to try it, though it was a little cruel.

I began by tying to the foot of a tree the cords that held the legs; then making the dogs seize him again by the ears, I caught hold of his mouth, and with a sharp knife perforated the nostril, and quickly passed a cord through the opening. This cord was to serve as my rein, to guide the animal. The operation was successful; and, as soon as the blood ceased to flow, I took the cord, uniting the two ends, and the poor suffering creature, completely subdued, followed me without resistance.

I was unwilling to abandon the whole of the buffalo I had killed, as it is excellent meat; I therefore cut out the tongue, and some of the best parts from the loin, and covered them well with salt, of which we had taken a provision with us. I then carefully skinned the four legs, remembering that the American hunters use these skins for boots, being remarkably soft and flexible. We permitted the dogs to feast on the remainder; and while they were enjoying themselves, we washed ourselves, and sat down under a tree to rest and refresh ourselves. But the poor beasts had soon many guests at their banquet. Clouds of birds of prey came from every part; an incessant combat was kept up; no sooner was one troop of brigands satisfied, than another succeeded; and soon all that remained of the poor buffalo was the bones. I noticed amongst these ravenous birds the royal vulture, an elegant bird, remarkable for a brilliant collar of down. We could easily have killed some of these robbers, but I thought it useless to destroy for mere curiosity, and I preferred employing our time in cutting, with a small saw we had brought, some of the gigantic reeds that grew round us. We cut several of the very thick ones, which make excellent vessels when separated at the joints; but I perceived that Jack was cutting some of small dimensions, and I inquired if he was going to make a Pandean pipe, to celebrate his triumphal return with the buffalo.

"No," said he; "I don't recollect that Robinson Crusoe amused himself with music in his island; but I have thought of something that will be useful to mamma. I am cutting these reeds to make moulds for our candles."

"An excellent thought, my dear boy!" said I; "and if even we break our moulds in getting out the candles, which I suspect we may, we know where they grow, and can come for more."

We collected all our reeds in bundles, and then set out. The calf, intimidated by the dogs, and galled by the rein, went on tolerably well. We crossed the narrow pass in the rocks, and here our dogs killed a large jackal which was coming from her den in the rock. The furious animals then entered the den, followed by Jack, who saved, with difficulty, one of the young cubs, the others being immediately worried. It was a pretty little gold-coloured creature, about the size of a cat. Jack petitioned earnestly to have it to bring up; and I made him happy by granting his request.

In the mean time I had tied the calf to a low tree, which I discovered was the thorny dwarf palm, which grows quickly, and is extremely useful for fences. It bears an oblong fruit, about the size of a pigeon's egg, from which is extracted an oil which is an excellent substitute for butter. I determined to return for some young plants of this palm to plant at Tent House.

It was almost night when we joined our family; and endless were the questions the sight of the buffalo produced, and great was the boasting of Jack the dauntless. I was compelled to lower his pride a little by an unvarnished statement, though I gave him much credit for his coolness and resolution; and, supper-time arriving, my wife had time to tell me what had passed while we had been on our expedition.

* * * * *



CHAPTER XXV.

My wife began by saying they had not been idle in my absence. They had collected wood, and made torches for the night. Fritz and Ernest had even cut down an immense sago-palm, seventy feet high, intending to extract its precious pith; but this they had been unable to accomplish alone, and waited for my assistance. But while they were engaged in this employment, a troop of monkeys had broken into the tent and pillaged and destroyed everything; they had drunk or overturned the milk, and carried off or spoiled all our provisions; and even so much injured the palisade I had erected round the tent, that it took them an hour, after they returned, to repair the damage. Fritz had made also a beautiful capture, in a nest he had discovered in the rocks at Cape Disappointment. It was a superb bird, and, though very young, quite feathered. Ernest had pronounced it to be the eagle of Malabar, and I confirmed his assertion; and as this species of eagle is not large, and does not require much food, I advised him to train it as a falcon, to chase other birds. I took this opportunity to announce that henceforward every one must attend to his own live stock, or they should be set at liberty, mamma having sufficient to manage in her own charge.

We then made a fire of green wood, in the smoke of which we placed the buffalo-meat we had brought home, leaving it during the night, that it might be perfectly cured. We had had some for supper, and thought it excellent. The young buffalo was beginning to graze, and we gave him a little milk to-night, as well as to the jackal. Fritz had taken the precaution to cover the eyes of his eagle, and tying it fast by the leg to a branch, it rested very tranquilly. We then retired to our mossy beds, to recruit our strength for the labours of another day.

At break of day we rose, made a light breakfast, and I was about to give the signal of departure, when my wife communicated to me the difficulty they had had in cutting down the palm-tree, and the valuable provision that might be obtained from it with a little trouble. I thought she was right, and decided to remain here another day; for it was no trifling undertaking to split up a tree seventy feet long. I consented the more readily, as I thought I might, after removing the useful pith from the trunk, obtain two large spouts or channels to conduct the water from Jackal River to the kitchen garden.

Such tools as we had we carried to the place where the tree lay. We first sawed off the head; then, with the hatchet making an opening at each end, we took wedges and mallets, and the wood being tolerably soft, after four hours' labour, we succeeded in splitting it completely. When parted, we pressed the pith with our hands, to get the whole into one division of the trunk, and began to make our paste. At one end of the spout we nailed one of the graters, through which we intended to force the paste, to form the round seeds. My little bakers set vigorously to work, some pouring water on the pith, while the rest mixed it into paste. When sufficiently worked, I pressed it strongly with my hand against the grater; the farinaceous parts passed easily through the holes, while the ligneous part, consisting of splinters of wood, &c, was left behind. This we threw into a heap, hoping mushrooms might spring from it. My wife now carefully spread the grains on sailcloth, in the sun, to dry them. I also formed some vermicelli, by giving more consistence to the paste, and forcing it through the holes in little pipes. My wife promised with this, and the Dutch cheese, to make us a dish equal to Naples maccaroni. We were now contented; we could at any time obtain more sago by cutting down a tree, and we were anxious to get home to try our water-pipes. We spent the rest of the day in loading the cart with our utensils and the halves of the tree. We retired to our hut at sunset, and slept in peace.

The next morning the whole caravan began to move at an early hour. The buffalo, harnessed to the cart, by the side of his nurse, the cow, took the place of our lost ass, and began his apprenticeship as a beast of draught. We took the same road on our return, that we might carry away the candle-berries and the vessels of India-rubber. The vanguard was composed of Fritz and Jack, who pioneered our way, by cutting down the underwood to make a road for the cart. Our water-pipes, being very long, somewhat impeded our progress; but we happily reached the candle-berry trees without accident, and placed our sacks on the cart. We did not find more than a quart of the caoutchouc gum; but it would be sufficient for our first experiment, and I carried it off.

In crossing the little wood of guavas, we suddenly heard our dogs, who were before us with Fritz and Jack, uttering the most frightful howlings. I was struck with terror lest they should have encountered a tiger, and rushed forward ready to fire. The dogs were endeavouring to enter a thicket, in the midst of which Fritz declared he had caught a glimpse of an animal larger than the buffalo, with a black, bristly skin. I was just about to discharge my gun into the thicket, when Jack, who had lain down on the ground, to look under the bushes, burst into a loud laugh. "It is another trick of that vexatious animal, our old sow! she is always making fools of us," cried he. Half merry and half angry, we made an opening into the thicket, and there discovered the lady lying, surrounded by seven little pigs, only a few days old. We were very glad to see our old friend so attended, and stroked her. She seemed to recognize us, and grunted amicably. We supplied her with some potatoes, sweet acorns, and cassava bread; intending, in return, to eat her young ones, when they were ready for the spit, though my dear wife cried out against the cruelty of the idea. At present we left them with her, but proposed afterwards to take away two, to be brought up at home, and leave the rest to support themselves on acorns in the woods, where they would become game for us. At length we arrived at Falcon's Nest, which we regarded with all the attachment of home. Our domestic animals crowded round us, and noisily welcomed us. We tied up the buffalo and jackal, as they were not yet domesticated. Fritz fastened his eagle to a branch by a chain long enough to allow it to move freely, and then imprudently uncovered its eyes; it immediately raised its head, erected its feathers, and struck on all sides with its beak and claws; our fowls took to flight, but the poor parrot fell in his way, and was torn to pieces before we could assist it. Fritz was very angry, and would have executed the murderer; but Ernest begged he would not be so rash, as parrots were more plentiful than eagles, and it was his own fault for uncovering his eyes; the falconers always keeping their young birds hooded six weeks, till they are quite tamed. He offered to train it, if Fritz would part with it; but this Fritz indignantly refused. I told them the fable of the dog in the manger, which abashed Fritz; and he then besought his brother to teach him the means of training this noble bird, and promised to present him with his monkey.

Ernest then told him that the Caribs subdue the largest birds by making them inhale tobacco smoke. Fritz laughed at this; but Ernest brought a pipe and some tobacco he had found in the ship, and began to smoke gravely under the branch where the bird was perched. It was soon calm, and on his continuing to smoke it became quite motionless. Fritz then easily replaced the bandage, and thanked his brother for his good service.

The next morning we set out early to our young plantation of fruit-trees, to fix props to support the weaker plants. We loaded the cart with the thick bamboo canes and our tools, and harnessed the cow to it, leaving the buffalo in the stable, as I wished the wound in his nostrils to be perfectly healed before I put him to any hard work. I left Francis with his mother, to prepare our dinner, begging them not to forget the maccaroni.

We began at the entrance of the avenue to Falcon's Nest, where all the trees were much bent by the wind. We raised them gently by a crowbar; I made a hole in the earth, in which one of my sons placed the bamboo props, driving them firmly down with a mallet, and we proceeded to another, while Ernest and Jack tied the trees to them with a long, tough, pliant plant, which I suspected was a species of llana. As we were working, Fritz inquired if these fruit-trees were wild.

"A pretty question!" cried Jack. "Do you think that trees are tamed like eagles or buffaloes? You perhaps could teach them to bow politely, so that we might gather the fruit!"

"You fancy you are a wit," said I, "but you speak like a dunce. We cannot make trees bow at our pleasure; but we can make a tree, which by nature bears sour and uneatable fruit, produce what is sweet and wholesome. This is effected by grafting into a wild tree a small branch, or even a bud, of the sort you wish. I will show you this method practically at some future time, for by these means we can procure all sorts of fruit; only we must remember, that we can only graft a tree with one of the same natural family; thus, we could not graft an apple on a cherry-tree, for one belongs to the apple tribe, and the other to the plum tribe."

"Do we know the origin of all these European fruits?" asked the inquiring Ernest.

"All our shell fruits," answered I, "such as the nut, the almond, and the chesnut, are natives of the East; the peach, of Persia; the orange and apricot, of Armenia; the cherry, which was unknown in Europe sixty years before Christ, was brought by the proconsul Lucullus from the southern shores of the Euxine; the olives come from Palestine. The first olive-trees were planted on Mount Olympus, and from thence were spread through the rest of Europe; the fig is from Lydia; the plums, your favourite fruit, with the exception of some natural sorts that are natives of our forests, are from Syria, and the town of Damascus has given its name to one sort, the Damascene, or Damson. The pear is a fruit of Greece; the ancients called it the fruit of Peloponnesus; the mulberry is from Asia; and the quince from the island of Crete."

Our work progressed as we talked thus, and we had soon propped all our valuable plants. It was now noon, and we returned to Falcon's Nest very hungry, and found an excellent dinner prepared, of smoked beef, and the tender bud of the cabbage-palm, the most delicious of vegetables.

After dinner, we began to discuss a plan I had long had in my head; but the execution of it presented many difficulties. It was, to substitute a firm and solid staircase for the ladder of ropes, which was a source of continual fear to my wife. It is true, that we only had to ascend it to go to bed; but bad weather might compel us to remain in our apartment; we should then have frequently to ascend and descend, and the ladder was very unsafe. But the immense height of the tree, and the impossibility of procuring beams to sustain a staircase round it, threw me into despair. However, looking at the monstrous trunk of the tree, I thought, if we cannot succeed outside, could we not contrive to mount within?

"Have you not said there was a swarm of bees in the trunk of the tree?" I inquired of my wife. "Yes," said little Francis, "they stung my face dreadfully the other day, when I was on the ladder. I was pushing a stick into the hole they came out of, to try how deep it was."

"Now, then," cried I, "I see through my difficulties. Let us find out how far the tree is hollow; we can increase the size of the tunnel, and I have already planned the sort of staircase I can construct." I had hardly spoken, when the boys leaped like squirrels, some upon the arched roots, some on the steps of the ladder, and began to strike with sticks and mallets to sound the tree. This rash proceeding had nearly been fatal to Jack, who, having placed himself just before the opening, and striking violently, the whole swarm, alarmed at an attack, which probably shook their palace of wax, issued forth, and revenged themselves amply on all the assailants. Nothing was heard but cries and stamping of feet. My wife hastened to cover the stings with moist earth, which rather relieved them; but it was some hours before they could open their eyes. They begged me to get them the honey from their foes, and I prepared a hive, which I had long thought of—a large gourd, which I placed on a board nailed upon a branch of our tree, and covered with straw to shelter it from the sun and wind. But it was now bedtime, and we deferred our attack on the fortress till next day.

* * * * *



CHAPTER XXVI.

An hour before day, I waked my sons to assist me in removing the bees to the new abode I had prepared for them. I commenced by plastering up the entrance to their present dwelling with clay, leaving only room to admit the bowl of my pipe. This was necessary, because I had neither masks nor gloves, as the regular bee-takers have. I then began to smoke briskly, to stupify the bees. At first we heard a great buzzing in the hollow, like the sound of a distant storm: the murmur ceased by degrees, and a profound stillness succeeded, and I withdrew my pipe without a single bee appearing. Fritz and I then, with a chisel and small axe, made an opening about three feet square, below the bees' entrance. Before we detached this, I repeated the fumigation, lest the noise and the fresh air should awake the bees; but there was no fear of such a thing,—they were quite stupified. We removed the wood, and through this opening beheld, with wonder and admiration, the work of this insect nation. There was such a store of wax and honey, that we feared we should not have vessels to contain it. The interior of the tree was filled with the honeycombs; I cut them carefully, and placed them in the gourds the boys brought me. As soon as I had made a little space, I placed the upper comb, on which the bees were hanging in clusters, in the new hive, and put it on the plank prepared for it; I then descended with the rest of the honeycomb, and filled a cask with it, which I had previously washed in the stream; this we covered with sailcloth and planks, lest the bees, attracted by the smell, should come to claim their own. We left out some comb for a treat at dinner, and my wife carefully put by the rest.

To prevent the bees returning to their old abode, we placed some burning tobacco in the hollow, the smell and fumes of which drove them from the tree, when they wished to enter; and, finally, they settled in the new hive, where the queen bee, doubtless, had fixed herself.

We now began our work; we emptied the cask of honey into a large boiler, except a little reserved for daily use; we added a little water, placed the boiler on a slow fire, and reduced it to a liquid mass; this was strained through a bag into the cask, and left standing all night to cool. The next morning the wax had risen to the top, and formed a hard and solid cake, which we easily removed; and beneath was the most pure and delicious honey. The barrel was then carefully closed, and placed in a cool place. We now proceeded to examine the interior of the tree. I took a long pole, and tried the height from the window I had made; and tied a stone to a string to sound the depth. To my surprise, the pole penetrated without resistance to the very branches where our dwelling was, and the stone went to the roots. It was entirely hollow, and I thought I could easily fix a winding staircase in this wide tunnel. It would seem, that this huge tree, like the willow of our country, is nourished through the bark, for it was flourishing in luxuriant beauty.

We began by cutting a doorway, on the side facing the sea, of the size of the door we had brought from the captain's cabin, with its framework, thus securing ourselves from invasion on that side. We then cleansed, and perfectly smoothed the cavity, fixing in the middle the trunk of a tree about ten feet high, to serve for the axis of the staircase. We had prepared, the evening before, a number of boards from the staves of a large barrel, to form our steps. By the aid of the chisel and mallet, we made deep notches in the inner part of our tree, and corresponding notches in the central pillar; I placed my steps in these notches, riveting them with large nails; I raised myself in this manner step after step, but always turning round the pillar, till we got to the top. We then fixed on the central pillar another trunk of the same height, prepared beforehand, and continued our winding steps. Four times we had to repeat this operation, and, finally, we reached our branches, and terminated the staircase on the level of the floor of our apartment. I cleared the entrance by some strokes of my axe. To render it more solid, I filled up the spaces between the steps with planks, and fastened two strong cords from above, to each side of the staircase, to hold by. Towards different points, I made openings; in which were placed the windows taken from the cabin, which gave light to the interior, and favoured our observations outside.

The construction of this solid and convenient staircase occupied us during a month of patient industry; not that we laboured like slaves, for we had no one to constrain us; we had in this time completed several works of less importance; and many events had amused us amidst our toil.

A few days after we commenced, Flora produced six puppies; but the number being too large for our means of support, I commanded that only a male and female should be preserved, that the breed might be perpetuated; this was done, and the little jackal being placed with the remainder, Flora gave it the same privileges as her own offspring. Our goats also, about this time, gave us two kids; and our sheep some lambs. We saw this increase of our flock with great satisfaction; and for fear these useful animals should take it into their heads to stray from us, as our ass had done, we tied round their necks some small bells we had found on the wreck, intended to propitiate the savages, and which would always put us on the track of the fugitives.

The education of the young buffalo was one of the employments that varied our labour as carpenters. Through the incision in his nostrils, I had passed a small stick, to the ends of which I attached a strap. This formed a kind of bit, after the fashion of those of the Hottentots; and by this I guided him as I chose; though not without much rebellion on his part. It was only after Fritz had broken it in for mounting, that we began to make it carry. It was certainly a remarkable instance of patience and perseverance surmounting difficulties, that we not only made it bear the wallets we usually placed on the ass, but Ernest, Jack, and even little Francis, took lessons in horsemanship, by riding him, and, henceforward, would have been able to ride the most spirited horse without fear; for it could not be worse than the buffalo they had assisted to subdue.

In the midst of this, Fritz did not neglect the training of his young eagle. The royal bird began already to pounce very cleverly on the dead game his master brought, and placed before him; sometimes between the horns of the buffalo, sometimes on the back of the great bustard, or the flamingo; sometimes he put it on a board, or on the end of a pole, to accustom it to pounce, like the falcon, on other birds. He taught it to settle on his wrist at a call, or a whistle; but it was some time before he could trust it to fly, without a long string attached to its leg, for fear its wild nature should carry it from us for ever. Even the indolent Ernest was seized with the mania of instructing animals. He undertook the education of his little monkey, who gave him sufficient employment. It was amusing to see the quiet, slow, studious Ernest obliged to make leaps and gambols with his pupil to accomplish his instruction. He wished to accustom Master Knips to carry a pannier, and to climb the cocoa-nut trees with it on his back; Jack and he wove a small light pannier of rushes, and fixed it firmly on his back with three straps. This was intolerable to him at first; he ground his teeth, rolled on the ground, and leaped about in a frantic manner, trying in vain to release himself. They left the pannier on his back night and day, and only allowed him to eat what he had previously put into it. After a little time, he became so accustomed to it, that he rebelled if they wished to remove it, and threw into it everything they gave him to hold. He was very useful to us, but he obeyed only Ernest, who had very properly taught him equally to love and fear him.

Jack was not so successful with his jackal; for, though he gave him the name of "The Hunter," yet, for the first six months, the carnivorous animal chased only for himself, and, if he brought anything to his master, it was only the skin of the animal he had just devoured; but I charged him not to despair, and he continued zealously his instructions.

During this time I had perfected my candle manufacture; by means of mixing the bees' wax with that obtained from the candle-berry, and by using cane moulds, which Jack first suggested to me, I succeeded in giving my candles the roundness and polish of those of Europe. The wicks were for some time an obstacle. I did not wish to use the small quantity of calico we had left, but my wife happily proposed to me to substitute the pith of a species of elder, which answered my purpose completely.

I now turned myself to the preparation of the caoutchouc, of which we had found several trees. I encouraged the boys to try their ingenuity in making flasks and cups, by covering moulds of clay with the gum, as I had explained to them. For my part, I took a pair of old stockings, and filled them with sand for my mould, which I covered with a coating of mud, and left to dry in the sun. I cut out a pair of soles of buffalo leather, which I first hammered well, and then fastened with small tacks to the sole of the stocking, filling up the spaces left with the gum, so as to fix it completely. Then, with a brush of goats hair, I covered it with layer upon layer of the elastic gum, till I thought it sufficiently thick. It was easy after this to remove the sand, the stocking, and the hardened mud, to shake out the dust, and I had a pair of waterproof boots, without seam, and fitting as well as if I had employed an English shoemaker. My boys were wild with joy, and all begged for a pair; but I wished first to try their durability, compared with those of buffalo leather. I began to make a pair of boots for Fritz, using the skin drawn from the legs of the buffalo we had killed; but I had much more difficulty than with the caoutchouc. I used the gum to cover the seams, so that the water might not penetrate. They were certainly not elegant as a work of art, and the boys laughed at their brother's awkward movements in them; but their own productions, though useful vessels, were not models of perfection.

We then worked at our fountain, a great source of pleasure to my wife and to all of us. We raised, in the upper part of the river, a sort of dam, made with stakes and stones, from whence the water flowed into our channels of the sago-palm, laid down a gentle declivity nearly to our tent, and there it was received into the shell of the turtle, which we had raised on some stones of a convenient height, the hole which the harpoon had made serving to carry off the waste water through a cane that was fitted to it. On two crossed sticks were placed the gourds that served us for pails, and thus we had always the murmuring of the water near us, and a plentiful supply of it, always pure and clean, which the river, troubled by our water-fowl and the refuse of decayed leaves, could not always give us. The only inconvenience of these open channels was, that the water reached us warm and unrefreshing; but this I hoped to remedy in time, by using bamboo pipes buried in the earth. In the mean time, we were grateful for this new acquisition, and gave credit to Fritz, who had suggested the idea.

* * * * *



CHAPTER XXVII.

One morning, as we were engaged in giving the last finish to our staircase, we were alarmed at hearing at a distance strange, sharp, prolonged sounds, like the roars of a wild beast, but mingled with an unaccountable hissing. Our dogs erected their ears, and prepared for deadly combat. I assembled my family; we then ascended our tree, closing the lower door, loaded our guns, and looked anxiously round, but nothing appeared. I armed my dogs with their porcupine coats of mail and collars, and left them below to take care of our animals.

The horrible howlings seemed to approach nearer to us; at length, Fritz, who was leaning forward to listen as attentively as he could, threw down his gun, and bursting into a loud laugh, cried out, "It is our fugitive, the ass, come back to us, and singing his song of joy on his return!" We listened, and were sure he was right, and could not but feel a little vexation at being put into such a fright by a donkey. Soon after, we had the pleasure of seeing him appear among the trees; and, what was still better, he was accompanied by another animal of his own species, but infinitely more beautiful. I knew it at once to be the onagra, or wild ass, a most important capture, if we could make it; though all naturalists have declared it impossible to tame this elegant creature, yet I determined to make the attempt.

I went down with Fritz, exhorting his brothers to remain quiet, and I consulted with my privy counsellor on the means of taking our prize. I also prepared, as quickly as possible, a long cord with a noose, kept open by a slight stick, which would fall out as soon as the animal's head entered, while any attempt to escape would only draw the noose closer; the end of this cord was tied to the root of a tree. I took then a piece of bamboo, about two feet long, and splitting it up, tied it firmly at one end, to form a pair of pincers for the nose of the animal. In the mean time, the two animals had approached nearer, our old Grizzle apparently doing the honours to his visitor, and both grazing very comfortably.

By degrees we advanced softly to them, concealed by the trees; Fritz carrying the lasso, and I the pincers. The onagra, as soon as he got sight of Fritz, who was before me, raised his head, and started back, evidently only in surprise, as it was probably the first man the creature had seen. Fritz remained still, and the animal resumed his browsing. Fritz went up to our old servant, and offered him a handful of oats mixed with salt; the ass came directly to eat its favourite treat; its companion followed, raised its head, snuffed the air, and came so near, that Fritz adroitly threw the noose over its head. The terrified animal attempted to fly, but that drew the cord so tight as almost to stop his respiration, and he lay down, his tongue hanging out. I hastened up and relaxed the cord, lest he should be strangled. I threw the halter of the ass round his neck, and placed the split cane over his nose, tying it firmly below with a string. I subdued this wild animal by the means that blacksmiths use the first time they shoe a horse. I then took off the noose, and tied the halter by two long cords to the roots of two separate trees, and left him to recover himself.

In the mean time, the rest of the family had collected to admire this noble animal, whose graceful and elegant form, so superior to that of the ass, raises it almost to the dignity of a horse. After a while it rose, and stamped furiously with its feet, trying to release itself; but the pain in its nose obliged it to lie down again. Then my eldest son and I, approaching gently, took the two cords, and led or dragged it between two roots very near to each other, to which we tied the cords so short, that it had little power to move, and could not escape. We took care our own donkey should not stray again, by tying his fore-feet loosely, and putting on him a new halter, and left him near the onagra.

I continued, with a patience I had never had in Europe, to use every means I could think of with our new guest, and at the end of a month he was so far subdued, that I ventured to begin his education. This was a long and difficult task. We placed some burdens on his back; but the obedience necessary before we could mount him, it seemed impossible to instil into him. At last, I recollected the method they use in America to tame the wild horses, and I resolved to try it. In spite of the bounds and kicks of the furious animal, I leaped on his back, and seizing one of his long ears between my teeth, I bit it till the blood came. In a moment he reared himself almost erect on his hind-feet, remained for a while stiff and motionless, then came down on his fore-feet slowly, I still holding on his ear. At last I ventured to release him; he made some leaps, but soon subsided into a sort of trot, I having previously placed loose cords on his fore-legs. From that time we were his masters; my sons mounted him one after another; they gave him the name of Lightfoot, and never animal deserved his name better. As a precaution, we kept the cords on his legs for some time; and as he never would submit to the bit, we used a snaffle, by which we obtained power over his head, guiding him by a stick, with which we struck the right or left ear, as we wished him to go.

During this time, our poultry-yard was increased by three broods of chickens. We had at least forty of these little creatures chirping and pecking about, the pride of their good mistress's heart. Part of these were kept at home, to supply the table, and part she allowed to colonize in the woods, where we could find them when we wanted them. "These," she said, "are of more use than your monkeys, jackals, and eagles, who do nothing but eat, and would not be worth eating themselves, if we were in need." However, she allowed there was some use in the buffalo, who carried burdens, and Lightfoot, who carried her sons so well. The fowls, which cost us little for food, would be always ready, she said, either to supply us with eggs or chickens, when the rainy season came on—the winter of this climate.

This reminded me that the approach of that dreary season permitted me no longer to defer a very necessary work for the protection of our animals. This was to construct, under the roots of the trees, covered houses for them. We began by making a kind of roof above the vaulted roots of our tree. We used bamboo canes for this purpose; the longer and stouter were used for the supports, like columns, the slighter ones bound together closely formed the roof. The intervals we filled up with moss and clay, and spread over the whole a coating of tar. The roof was so firm, that it formed a platform, which we surrounded with a railing; and thus we had a balcony, and a pleasant promenade. By the aid of some boards nailed to the roots, we made several divisions in the interior, each little enclosure being appropriated to some useful purpose; and thus, stables, poultry-houses, dairy, larder, hay-house, store-room, &c., besides our dining-room, were all united under one roof. This occupied us some time, as it was necessary to fill our store-room before the bad weather came; and our cart was constantly employed in bringing useful stores.

One evening, as we were bringing home a load of potatoes on our cart, drawn by the ass, the cow, and the buffalo, I saw the cart was not yet full; I therefore sent home the two younger boys with their mother, and went on with Fritz and Ernest to the oak wood, to collect a sack of sweet acorns—Fritz mounted on his onagra, Ernest followed by his monkey, and I carrying the bag. On arriving at the wood, we tied Lightfoot to a tree, and all three began to gather the dropped acorns, when we were startled by the cries of birds, and a loud flapping of wings, and we concluded that a brisk combat was going on between Master Knips and the tenants of the thickets, from whence the noise came. Ernest went softly to see what was the matter, and we soon heard him calling out, "Be quick! a fine heath-fowl's nest, full of eggs! Knips wants to suck them, and the mother is beating him."

Fritz ran up, and secured the two beautiful birds, who fluttered, and cried out furiously, and returned, followed by Ernest, carrying a large nest filled with eggs. The monkey had served us well on this occasion; for the nest was so hidden by a bush with long leaves, of which Ernest held his hand full, that, but for the instinct of the animal, we could never have discovered it. Ernest was overjoyed to carry the nest and eggs for his dear mamma, and the long, pointed leaves he intended for Francis, to serve as little toy-swords.

We set out on our return, placing the sack of acorns behind Fritz on Lightfoot; Ernest carried the two fowls, and I charged myself with the care of the eggs, which I covered up, as I found they were warm, and I hoped to get the mother to resume her brooding when we got to Falcon's Nest. We were all delighted with the good news we should have to carry home, and Fritz, anxious to be first, struck his charger with a bunch of the pointed leaves he had taken from Ernest: this terrified the animal so much, that he took the bit in his teeth, and flew out of sight like an arrow. We followed, in some uneasiness, but found him safe. Master Lightfoot had stopped of himself when he reached his stable. My wife placed the valuable eggs under a sitting hen, the true mother refusing to fulfil her office. She was then put into the cage of the poor parrot, and hung in our dining-room, to accustom her to society. In a few days the eggs were hatched, and the poultry-yard had an increase of fifteen little strangers, who fed greedily on bruised acorns, and soon became as tame as any of our fowls, though I plucked the large feathers out of their wings when they were full-grown, lest their wild nature should tempt them to quit us.

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CHAPTER XXVIII.

Francis had soon become tired of playing with the long leaves his brother had brought him, and they were thrown aside. Fritz happened to take some of the withered leaves up, which were soft and flexible as a ribbon, and he advised Francis to make whiplashes of them, to drive the goats and sheep with, for the little fellow was the shepherd. He was pleased with the idea, and began to split the leaves into strips, which Fritz platted together into very good whiplashes. I remarked, as they were working, how strong and pliant these strips seemed, and, examining them closely, I found they were composed of long fibres, or filaments, which made me suspect it to be Phormium tenax, or New Zealand flax, a most important discovery to us, and which, when I communicated it to my wife, almost overwhelmed her with joy. "Bring me all the leaves you can without delay," cried she, "and I will make you stockings, shirts, coats, sewing-thread, cords—in fact, give me but flax and work-tools, and I can manage all." I could not help smiling at the vivacity of her imagination, roused at the very name of flax; but there was still great space between the leaves lying before us and the linen she was already sewing in idea. But my boys, always ready to second the wishes of their beloved mother, soon mounted their coursers, Fritz on Lightfoot, and Jack on the great buffalo, to procure supplies.

Whilst we waited for these, my wife, all life and animation, explained to me all the machines I must make, to enable her to spin and weave, and make linen to clothe us from head to foot; her eyes sparkled with delight as she spoke, and I promised her all she asked.

In a short time, our young cavaliers returned from their foraging expedition, conveying on their steeds huge bundles of the precious plant, which they laid at the feet of their mother. She gave up everything to begin her preparation. The first operation necessary was to steep the flax, which is usually done by exposing it in the open air in the rain, the wind, and the dew, so as, in a certain degree, to dissolve the plant, rendering the separation of the fibrous and ligneous parts more easy. It can then be cleaned and picked for spinning. But, as the vegetable glue that connects the two parts is very tenacious, and resists for a long time the action of moisture, it is often advisable to steep it in water, and this, in our dry climate, I considered most expedient.

My wife agreed to this, and proposed that we should convey it to Flamingo Marsh; and we spent the rest of the day in tying up the leaves in bundles. Next morning, we loaded our cart, and proceeded to the marsh: we there untied our bundles, and spread them in the water, pressing them down with stones, and leaving them till it was time to take them out to dry. We could not but admire here the ingenious nests of the flamingo; they are of a conical form, raised above the level of the marsh, having a recess above, in which the eggs are deposited, out of the reach of danger, and the female can sit on them with her legs in the water. These nests are of clay, and so solid, that they resist the water till the young are able to swim.

In a fortnight the flax was ready to be taken out of the water; we spread it in the sun, which dried it so effectually, that we brought it to Falcon's Nest the same evening, where it was stored till we were ready for further operations. At present we laboured to lay up provision for the rainy season, leaving all sedentary occupations to amuse us in our confinement. We brought in continually loads of sweet acorns, manioc, potatoes, wood, fodder for the cattle, sugar-canes, fruit, indeed everything that might be useful during the uncertain period of the rainy season. We profited by the last few days to sow the wheat and other remaining European grains, that the rain might germinate them. We had already had some showers; the temperature was variable, the sky became cloudy, and the wind rose. The season changed sooner than we expected; the winds raged through the woods, the sea roared, mountains of clouds were piled in the heavens. They soon burst over our heads, and torrents of rain fell night and day, without intermission; the rivers swelled till their waters met, and turned the whole country around us into an immense lake. Happily we had formed our little establishment on a spot rather elevated above the rest of the valley; the waters did not quite reach our tree, but surrounded us about two hundred yards off, leaving us on a sort of island in the midst of the general inundation. We were reluctantly obliged to descend from our aerial abode; the rain entered it on all sides, and the hurricane threatened every moment to carry away the apartment, and all that were in it. We set about our removal, bringing down our hammocks and bedding to the sheltered space under the roots of the trees that we had roofed for the animals. We were painfully crowded in the small space; the stores of provisions, the cooking-utensils, and especially the neighbourhood of the animals, and the various offensive smells, made our retreat almost insupportable. We were choked with smoke if we lighted a fire, and inundated with rain if we opened a door. For the first time since our misfortune, we sighed for the comforts of our native home; but action was necessary, and we set about endeavouring to amend our condition.

The winding staircase was very useful to us; the upper part was crowded with things we did not want, and my wife frequently worked in the lower part, at one of the windows. We crowded our beasts a little more, and gave a current of air to the places they had left. I placed outside the enclosure the animals of the country, which could bear the inclemency of the season; thus I gave a half-liberty to the buffalo and the onagra, tying their legs loosely, to prevent them straying, the boughs of the tree affording them a shelter. We made as few fires as possible, as, fortunately it was never cold, and we had no provisions that required a long process of cookery. We had milk in abundance, smoked meat, and fish, the preserved ortolans, and cassava cakes. As we sent out some of our animals in the morning, with bells round their necks, Fritz and I had to seek them and bring them in every evening, when we were invariably wet through. This induced my ingenious Elizabeth to make us a sort of blouse and hood out of old garments of the sailors, which we covered with coatings of the caoutchouc, and thus obtained two capital waterproof dresses; all that the exhausted state of our gum permitted us to make.

The care of our animals occupied us a great part of the morning, then we prepared our cassava, and baked our cakes on iron plates. Though we had a glazed door to our hut, the gloominess of the weather, and the obscurity caused by the vast boughs of the tree, made night come on early. We then lighted a candle, fixed in a gourd on the table, round which we were all assembled. The good mother laboured with her needle, mending the clothes; I wrote my journal, which Ernest copied, as he wrote a beautiful hand; while Fritz and Jack taught their young brother to read and write, or amused themselves with drawing the animals or plants they had been struck with. We read the lessons from the Bible in turns, and concluded the evening with devotion. We then retired to rest, content with ourselves and with our innocent and peaceful life. Our kind housekeeper often made us a little feast of a roast chicken, a pigeon, or a duck, and once in four or five days we had fresh butter made in the gourd churn; and the delicious honey which we ate to our cassava bread might have been a treat to European epicures.

The remains of our repast was always divided among our domestic animals. We had four dogs, the jackal, the eagle, and the monkey, who relied on their masters, and were never neglected. But if the buffalo, the onagra, and the sow had not been able to provide for themselves, we must have killed them, for we had no food for them.

We now decided that we would not expose ourselves to another rainy season in such an unsuitable habitation; even my gentle Elizabeth got out of temper with the inconveniences, and begged we would build a better winter house; stipulating, however, that we should return to our tree in summer. We consulted a great deal on this matter; Fritz quoted Robinson Crusoe, who had cut a dwelling out of the rock, which sheltered him in the inclement season; and the idea of making our home at Tent House naturally came into my mind. It would probably be a long and difficult undertaking, but with time, patience, and perseverance, we might work wonders. We resolved, as soon as the weather would allow us, to go and examine the rocks at Tent House.

The last work of the winter was, at my wife's incessant request, a beetle for her flax, and some carding-combs. The beetle was easily made, but the combs cost much trouble. I filed large nails till they were round and pointed, I fixed them, slightly inclined, at equal distances, in a sheet of tin, and raised the edge like a box; I then poured melted lead between the nails and the edge, to fix them more firmly. I nailed this on a board, and the machine was fit for use, and my wife was all anxiety to begin her manufacture.

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CHAPTER XXIX.

I cannot describe our delight when, after long and gloomy weeks, we saw at length the sky clear, and the sun, dispersing the dark clouds of winter, spread its vivifying rays over all nature; the winds were lulled, the waters subsided, and the air became mild and serene. We went out, with shouts of joy, to breathe the balmy air, and gratified our eyes with the sight of the fresh verdure already springing up around us. Nature seemed in her youth again, and amidst the charms that breathed on every side, we forgot our sufferings, and, like the children of Noah coming forth from the ark, we raised a hymn of thanksgiving to the Giver of all good.

All our plantations and seeds had prospered. The corn was springing, and the trees were covered with leaves and blossoms. The air was perfumed with the odour of countless beautiful flowers; and lively with the songs and cries of hundreds of brilliant birds, all busy building their nests. This was really spring in all its glory.

We began our summer occupation by cleaning and putting in order our dormitory in the tree, which the rain and the scattered leaves had greatly deranged; and in a few days we were able to inhabit it again. My wife immediately began with her flax; while my sons were leading the cattle to the pasture, I took the bundles of flax into the open air, where I constructed a sort of oven of stone, which dried it completely. We began that very evening to strip, beat, and comb it; and I drew out such handfuls of soft, fine flax, ready for spinning, that my wife was overjoyed, and begged me to make her a wheel, that she might commence.

I had formerly had a little taste for turning, and though I had now neither lathe nor any other of the tools, yet I knew how a spinning-wheel and reel should be made, and, by dint of application, I succeeded in completing these two machines to her satisfaction. She began to spin with so much earnestness, that she would hardly take a walk, and reluctantly left her wheel to make dinner ready. She employed Francis to reel off the thread as she spun it, and would willingly have had the elder boys to take her place when she was called off; but they rebelled at the effeminate work, except Ernest, whose indolent habits made him prefer it to more laborious occupation.

In the mean time we walked over to Tent House to see the state of things, and found that winter had done more damage there than at Falcon's Nest. The storm had overthrown the tent, carried away some of the sailcloth, and injured our provisions so much, that great part was good for nothing, and the rest required to be immediately dried. Fortunately our beautiful pinnace had not suffered much,—it was still safe at anchor, and fit for use; but our tub boat was entirely destroyed.

Our most important loss was two barrels of gunpowder, which had been left in the tent, instead of under the shelter of the rock, and which the rain had rendered wholly useless. This made us feel still more strongly the necessity of securing for the future a more suitable shelter than a canvas tent, or a roof of foliage. Still I had small hope from the gigantic plan of Fritz or the boldness of Jack. I could not be blind to the difficulties of the undertaking. The rocks which surrounded Tent House presented an unbroken surface, like a wall without any crevice, and, to all appearance, of so hard a nature as to leave little hopes of success. However, it was necessary to try to contrive some sort of cave, if only for our gunpowder. I made up my mind, and selected the most perpendicular face of the rock as the place to begin our work. It was a much pleasanter situation than our tent, commanding a view of the whole bay, and the two banks of Jackal River, with its picturesque bridge. I marked out with chalk the dimension of the entrance I wished to give to the cave; then my sons and I took our chisels, pickaxes, and heavy miner's hammers, and began boldly to hew the stone.

Our first blows produced very little effect; the rock seemed impenetrable, the sun had so hardened the surface; and the sweat poured off our brows with the hard labour. Nevertheless, the efforts of my young workmen did not relax. Every evening we left our work advanced, perhaps, a few inches; and every morning returned to the task with renewed ardour. At the end of five or six days, when the surface of the rock was removed, we found the stone become easier to work; it then seemed calcarious, and, finally, only a sort of hardened clay, which we could remove with spades; and we began to hope. After a few days' more labour, we found we had advanced about seven feet. Fritz wheeled out the rubbish, and formed a sort of terrace with it before the opening; while I was working at the higher part, Jack, as the least, worked below. One morning he was hammering an iron bar, which he had pointed at the end, into the rock, to loosen the earth, when he suddenly cried out—

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