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The Swiss Family Robinson; or Adventures in a Desert Island
by Johann David Wyss
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[Transcriber's note: There are two pages unavailable for scanning (pages 284-285) from the original book. I was unable to find this exact story in other editions.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CHAPTER XLVI.

Whilst we continued to talk and to admire the beauty of the stars, they at length began to fade away before the first light of morning. Ernest returned to us, and we awoke Jack, who had slept uninterruptedly, and was quite unconscious where he was. We returned to the pass, which now, by the light of day, seemed to us in a more hopeless state than in the dusk of evening. I was struck with consternation: it appeared to me that we were entirely enclosed at this side; and I shuddered to think of crossing the island again, to pass round at the other end, of the risk we should run of meeting wild beasts, and of the painful and perilous passage along the coral reefs. At that moment I would gladly have consented to open a passage through the grotto, at the hazard of any visitors, in order to get through myself, that I might relieve the anxious feelings of my dear wife and boy. The thoughts of their agony unnerved me, and took away all courage for the commencement of a labour which seemed impossible, our only utensils being a small saw, and a little dibble for taking up plants, which Ernest had been unwilling to leave behind us. The path by which Jack and I had passed was covered with rocks and masses of soil, which obstructed even the course of the stream; we could not discover the place we had forded, the river had opened itself a wider course, far beyond its former one.

"It is impossible," said Fritz, gazing on the ruins, "that we can remove all these immense stones without proper tools; but, perhaps, with a little courage, we may cross over them, the rivulet being widened cannot be very deep. At all events, it cannot be worse than the coral reefs."

"Let us try; but I fear it will be impossible, at least for him," said I, pointing to Jack.

"Him, indeed, papa, and why not?" said the bold fellow; "he is perhaps as strong, and more active, than some of them; ask Fritz what he thinks of his workman. Shall I go the first to show you the way?"

And he was advancing boldly, but I checked him, and said, that before we undertook to scale these masses of rock, absolutely bare, where we had nothing to support us, or to hold by, it would be as well to examine if, by descending lower, we could not find a less dangerous road. We descended to the narrow pass, and found our drawbridge, plantation, all our fortification that my boys were so proud of, and where, at Fritz's request, I had even planted a small cannon, all, all destroyed; the cannon swallowed up with the rest. My boys deplored their disappointment; but I showed them how useless such a defence must ever be. Nature had provided us with a better fortification than we could construct, as we just now bitterly experienced.

We had descended several yards lower with incredible difficulty, plunged in a wet, heavy soil, and obliged to step across immense stones, when Fritz, who went first, cried out, joyfully—

"The roof, papa! the roof of our chalet! it is quite whole; it will be a bridge for us if we can only get to it."

"What roof? What chalet?" said I, in astonishment.

"The roof of our little hermitage," said he, "which we had covered so well with stones, like the Swiss chalets."

I then recollected that I had made this little hut, after the fashion of the Swiss chalet, of bark, with a roof nearly flat and covered with stones, to secure it against the winds. It was this circumstance, and its situation, that had saved it in the storm. I had placed it opposite the cascade, that we might see the fall in all its beauty, and, consequently, a little on one side of the passage filled up by the fall of the rocks. Some fragments reached the roof of the hut, and we certainly could not have entered it; but the chalet was supported by this means, and the roof was still standing and perfectly secure. We contrived to slide along the rock which sustained it; Jack was the first to stand on the roof and sing victory. It was very easy to descend on the other side, holding by the poles and pieces of bark, and we soon found ourselves safe in our own island. Ernest had lost his gun in the passage: not being willing to resign his bag of curiosities, he had dropped the gun into the abyss.

"You may take the gun I left in the canoe," said Fritz; "but, another time, throw away your stones, and keep your gun—you will find it a good friend in need."

"Let us embark in our canoe," cried Jack. "The sea! the sea! Long live the waves! they are not so hard as the stones."

I was very glad to have the opportunity of conveying my canoe back to the port of Tent House; our important occupations had prevented me till now, and everything favoured the plan: the sea was calm, the wind favourable, and we should arrive at home sooner, and with less fatigue, than by land. We skirted the great Bay to the Cabbage-palm Wood. I had moored the canoe so firmly to one of the palms, that I felt secure of it being there. We arrived at the place, and no canoe was there! The mark of the cord which fastened it was still to be seen round the tree, but the canoe had entirely disappeared. Struck with astonishment, we looked at each other with terror, and without being able to articulate a word. What was become of it?

"Some animal,—the jackals; a monkey, perhaps,—might have detached it," said Jack; "but they could not have eaten the canoe." And we could not find a trace of it, any more than of the gun Fritz had left in it.

This extraordinary circumstance gave me a great deal of thought. Savages, surely, had landed on our island, and carried off our canoe. We could no longer doubt it when we discovered on the sands the print of naked feet! It is easy to believe how uneasy and agitated I was. I hastened to take the road to Tent House, from which we were now more than three leagues distant. I forbade my sons to mention this event, or our suspicions, to their mother, as I knew it would rob her of all peace of mind. I tried to console myself. It was possible that chance had conducted them to the Bay, that they had seen our pretty canoe, and that, satisfied with their prize, and seeing no inhabitants, they might not return. Perhaps, on the contrary, these islanders might prove kind and humane, and become our friends. There was no trace of their proceedings further than the shore. We called at The Farm, on purpose to examine. All appeared in order; and certainly, if they had reached here, there was much to tempt them: our cotton mattresses, our osier seats, and some household utensils that my wife had left here. Our geese and fowls did not appear to have been alarmed, but were pecking about as usual for worms and insects. I began to hope that we might get off with the loss of our canoe,—a loss which might be repaired. We were a sufficient number, being well armed, not to be afraid of a few savages, even if they penetrated further into the island, and showed hostile intentions. I exhorted my sons to do nothing to irritate them; on the contrary, to meet them with kindness and attention, and to commit no violence against them unless called on to defend their lives. I also recommended them to select from the wrecked chest, some articles likely to please the savages, and to carry them always about with them. "And I beseech you, once more," added I, "not to alarm your mother." They promised me; and we continued our road unmolested to Falcon's Nest. Jack preceded us, delighted, he said, to see our castle again, which he hoped the savages had not carried away. Suddenly, we saw him return, running, with terror painted on his countenance.

"They are there!" said he; "they have taken possession of it; our dwelling is full of them. Oh! how frightful they are! What a blessing mamma is not there; she would have died of fright to see them enter."

I confess I was much agitated; but, not wishing to expose my children to danger before I had done all in my power to prevent it, I ordered them to remain behind till I called them. I broke a branch from a tree hastily, which I held in one hand, and in the other some long nails, which I found by chance in the bottom of my pocket; and I advanced thus to my Tree-Castle. I expected to have found the door of my staircase torn open and broken, and our new guests ascending and descending; but I saw at once it was closed as I had left it; being of bark, it was not easily distinguished. How had these savages reached the dwelling, forty feet from the ground? I had placed planks before the great opening; they were no longer there; the greater part of them had been hurled down to the ground, and I heard such a noise in our house, that I could not doubt Jack's report. I advanced timidly, holding up in the air the branch and my offerings, when I discovered, all at once, that I was offering them to a troop of monkeys, lodged in the fortress, which they were amusing themselves by destroying. We had numbers of them in the island; some large and mischievous, against whom we had some difficulty in defending ourselves when crossing the woods, where they principally dwelt. The frequent report of fire-arms round our dwelling had kept them aloof till now, when, emboldened by our absence, and enticed by the figs on our tree, they had come in crowds. These vexatious animals had got through the roof, and, once in, had thrown down the planks that covered the opening; they made the most frightful grimaces, throwing down everything they could seize.

Although this devastation caused me much vexation, I could not help laughing at their antics, and at the humble and submissive manner in which I had advanced to pay homage to them. I called my sons, who laughed heartily, and rallied "the prince of the monkeys" without mercy, for not knowing his own subjects. Fritz wished much to discharge his gun amongst them, but I forbade him. I was too anxious to reach Tent House, to be able to turn my thoughts on these depredators just now.

We continued our journey—but I pause here; my heart is oppressed. My feelings when I reached home require another chapter to describe them, and I must summon courage for the task.

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CHAPTER XLVII

We soon arrived at Family Bridge, where I had some hopes of meeting Francis, and perhaps his mother, who was beginning to walk very well; but I was disappointed—they were not there. Yet I was not uneasy, for they were neither certain of the hour of our return, nor of the way we might take. I expected, however, to find them in the colonnade—they were not there. I hastily entered the house; I called aloud, "Elizabeth! Francis! where are you?" No one answered. A mortal terror seized me—and for a moment I could not move.

"They will be in the grotto," said Ernest.

"Or in the garden," said Fritz.

"Perhaps on the shore," cried Jack; "my mother likes to watch the waves, and Francis may be gathering shells."

These were possibilities. My sons flew in all directions in search of their mother and brother. I found it impossible to move, and was obliged to sit down. I trembled, and my heart beat till I could scarcely breathe. I did not venture to dwell on the extent of my fears, or, rather, I had no distinct notion of them. I tried to recover myself. I murmured, "Yes—at the grotto, or the garden—they will return directly." Still, I could not compose myself. I was overwhelmed with a sad presentiment of the misfortune which impended over me. It was but too soon realized. My sons returned in fear and consternation. They had no occasion to tell me the result of their search; I saw it at once, and, sinking down motionless, I cried, "Alas! they are not there!"

Jack returned the last, and in the most frightful state; he had been at the sea-shore, and, throwing himself into my arms, he sobbed out—

"The savages have been here, and carried away my mother and Francis; perhaps they have devoured them; I have seen the marks of their horrible feet on the sands, and the print of dear Francis's boots."

This account at once recalled me to strength and action.

"Come, my children, let us fly to save them. God will pity our sorrow, and assist us. He will restore them. Come, come!"

They were ready in a moment. But a distracting thought seized me. Had they carried off the pinnace? if so, every hope was gone. Jack, in his distress, had never thought of remarking this; but, the instant I named it, Fritz and he ran to ascertain the important circumstance, Ernest, in the mean time, supporting me, and endeavouring to calm me.

"Perhaps," said he, "they are still in the island. Perhaps they may have fled to hide themselves in some wood, or amongst the reeds. Even if the pinnace be left, it would be prudent to search the island from end to end before we leave it. Trust Fritz and me, we will do this; and, even if we find them in the hands of the enemy, we will recover them. Whilst we are off on this expedition, you can be preparing for our voyage, and we will search the world from one end to the other, every country and every sea, but we will find them. And we shall succeed. Let us put our whole trust in God. He is our Father, he will not try us beyond our strength."

I embraced my child, and a flood of tears relieved my overcharged heart. My eyes and hands were raised to Heaven; my silent prayers winged their flight to the Almighty, to him who tries us and consoles us. A ray of hope seemed to visit my mind, when I heard my boys cry out, as they approached—

"The pinnace is here! they have not carried that away!"

I fervently thanked God—it was a kind of miracle; for this pretty vessel was more tempting than the canoe. Perhaps, as it was hidden in a little creek between the rocks, it had escaped their observation; perhaps they might not know how to manage it; or they might not be numerous enough. No matter, it was there, and might be the means of our recovering the beloved objects those barbarians had torn from us. How gracious is God, to give us hope to sustain us in our afflictions! Without hope, we could not live; it restores and revives us, and, even if never realized below, accompanies us to the end of our life, and beyond the grave!

I imparted to my eldest son the idea of his brother, that they might be concealed in some part of the island; but I dared not rely on this sweet hope. Finally, as we ought not to run the risk of abandoning them, if they were still here, and perhaps in the power of the savages, I consented that my two eldest sons should go to ascertain the fact. Besides, however impatient I was, I felt that a voyage such as we were undertaking into unknown seas might be of long duration, and it was necessary to make some preparations—I must think on food, water, arms, and many other things. There are situations in life which seize the heart and soul, rendering us insensible to the wants of the body—this we now experienced. We had just come from a painful journey, on foot, of twenty-four hours, during which we had had little rest, and no sleep. Since morning we had eaten nothing but some morsels of the bread-fruit; it was natural that we should be overcome with fatigue and hunger. But we none of us had even thought of our own state—we were supported, if I may use the expression, by our despair. At the moment that my sons were going to set out, the remembrance of their need of refreshment suddenly occurred to me, and I besought them to rest a little, and take something; but they were too much agitated to consent. I gave Fritz a bottle of Canary, and some slices of roast mutton I met with, which he put in his pocket. They had each a loaded musket, and they set out, taking the road along the rocks, where the most hidden retreats and most impenetrable woods lay; they promised me to fire off their pieces frequently to let their mother know they were there, if she was hidden among the rocks—they took also one of the dogs. Flora we could not find, which made us conclude she had followed her mistress, to whom she was much attached.

As soon as my eldest sons had left us, I made Jack conduct me to the shore where he had seen the footmarks, that I might examine them, to judge of their number and direction. I found many very distinct, but so mingled, I could come to no positive conclusion. Some were near the sea, with the foot pointing to the shore; and amongst these Jack thought he could distinguish the boot-mark of Francis. My wife wore very light boots also, which I had made for her; they rendered stockings unnecessary, and strengthened her ankles. I could not find the trace of these; but I soon discovered that my poor Elizabeth had been here, from a piece torn from an apron she wore, made of her own cotton, and dyed red. I had now not the least doubt that she was in the canoe with her son. It was a sort of consolation to think they were together; but how many mortal fears accompanied this consolation! Oh! was I ever to see again these objects of my tenderest affection!

Certain now that they were not in the island, I was impatient for the return of my sons, and I made every preparation for our departure. The first thing I thought of was the wrecked chest, which would furnish me with means to conciliate the savages, and to ransom my loved ones. I added to it everything likely to tempt them; utensils, stuffs, trinkets; I even took with me gold and silver coin, which was thrown on one side as useless, but might be of service to us on this occasion. I wished my riches were three times as much as they were, that I might give all in exchange for the life and liberty of my wife and son. I then turned my thoughts on those remaining to me: I took, in bags and gourds, all that we had left of cassava-bread, manioc-roots, and potatoes; a barrel of salt-fish, two bottles of rum, and several jars of fresh water. Jack wept as he filled them at his fountain, which he perhaps might never see again, any more than his dear Valiant, whom I set at liberty, as well as the cow, ass, buffalo, and the beautiful onagra. These docile animals were accustomed to us and our attentions, and they remained in their places, surprised that they were neither harnessed nor mounted. We opened the poultry-yard and pigeon-cote. The flamingo would not leave us, it went and came with us from the house to the pinnace. We took also oil, candles, fuel, and a large iron pot to cook our provisions in. For our defence, I took two more guns, and a small barrel of powder, all we had left. I added besides some changes of linen, not forgetting some for my dear wife, which I hoped might be needed. The time fled rapidly while we were thus employed; night came on, and my sons returned not. My grief was inconceivable; the island was so large and woody, that they might have lost themselves, or the savages might have returned and encountered them. After twenty hours of frightful terror, I heard the report of a gun—alas! only one report! it was the signal agreed on if they returned alone; two if they brought their mother; three if Francis also accompanied them; but I expected they would return alone, and I was still grateful. I ran to meet them; they were overcome with fatigue and vexation.

They begged to set out immediately, not to lose one precious moment; they were now sure the island did not contain those they lamented, and they hoped I would not return without discovering them, for what would the island be to us without our loved ones? Fritz, at that moment, saw his dear Lightfoot capering round him, and could not help sighing as he caressed him, and took leave of him.

"May I find thee here," said he, "where I leave thee in such sorrow; and I will bring back thy young master," added he, turning to the bull, who was also approaching him.

He then begged me again to set out, as the moon was just rising in all her majesty.

"The queen of night," said Ernest; "will guide us to the queen of our island, who is perhaps now looking up to her, and calling on us to help her."

"Most assuredly," said I, "she is thinking on us; but it is on God she is calling for help. Let us join her in prayer, my dear children, for herself and our dear Francis."

They fell on their knees with me, and I uttered the most fervent and earnest prayer that ever human heart poured forth; and I rose with confidence that our prayers were heard. I proceeded with new courage to the creek that contained our pinnace, where Jack arranged all we had brought; we rowed out of the creek, and when we were in the bay, we held a council to consider on which side we were to commence our search. I thought of returning to the great bay, from whence our canoe had been taken; my sons, on the contrary, thought that these islanders, content with their acquisition, had been returning homewards, coasting along the island, when an unhappy chance had led their mother and brother to the shore, where the savages had seen them, and carried them off. At the most, they could but be a day before us; but that was long enough to fill us with dreadful anticipations. I yielded to the opinion of my sons, which had a great deal of reason on its side, besides the wind was favourable in that direction; and, abandoning ourselves in full confidence to Almighty God, we spread our sails, and were soon in the open sea.

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CHAPTER XLVIII.

A gentle wind swelled our sails, and the current carried us rapidly into the open sea. I then seated myself at the helm, and employed the little knowledge I had gained during our voyage from Europe in directing our bark, so that we might avoid the rocks and coral banks that surrounded our island. My two oldest sons, overcome with fatigue, had no sooner seated themselves on a bench, than they fell into a profound sleep, notwithstanding their sorrows. Jack held out the best; his love of the sea kept him awake, and I surrendered the helm to him till I took a momentary slumber, my head resting against the stern. A happy dream placed me in the midst of my family in our dear island; but a shout from Ernest awoke me, he was calling on Jack to leave the helm, as he was contriving to run the vessel among the breakers on the coast. I seized the helm, and soon set all right, determined not to trust my giddy son again.

Jack, of all my sons, was the one who evinced most taste for the sea; but being so young when we made our voyage, his knowledge of nautical affairs was very scanty. My elder sons had learnt more. Ernest, who had a great thirst for knowledge of every kind, had questioned the pilot on all he had seen him do. He had learned a great deal in theory, but of practical knowledge he had none. The mechanical genius of Fritz had drawn conclusions from what he saw; this would have induced me to place much trust in him in case of that danger which I prayed Heaven might be averted. What a situation was mine for a father! Wandering through unknown and dangerous seas with my three sons, my only hope, in search of a fourth, and of my beloved helpmate; utterly ignorant which way we should direct our course, or where to find a trace of those we sought. How often do we allay the happiness granted us below by vain wishes! I had at one time regretted that we had no means of leaving our island; now we had left it, and our sole wish was to recover those we had lost, to bring them back to it, and never to leave it more. I sometimes regretted that I had led my sons into this danger. I might have ventured alone; but I reflected that I could not have left them, for Fritz had said, "If the savages had carried off the pinnace, I would have swum from isle to isle till I had found them." My boys all endeavoured to encourage and console me. Fritz placed himself at the rudder, observing that the pinnace was new and well built, and likely to resist a tempest. Ernest stood on the deck silently watching the stars, only breaking his silence by telling me he should be able by them to supply the want of the compass, and point out how we should direct our course. Jack climbed dexterously up the mast to let me see his skill; we called him the cabin-boy, Fritz was the pilot, Ernest the astronomer, and I was the captain and commander of the expedition. Daybreak showed us we had passed far from our island, which now only appeared a dark speck. I, as well as Fritz and Jack, was of opinion that it would be advisable to go round it, and try our fortune on the opposite coast; but Ernest, who had not forgotten his telescope, was certain he saw land in a direction he pointed out to us. We took the glass, and were soon convinced he was right. As day advanced, we saw the land plainly, and did not hesitate to sail towards it.

As this appeared the land nearest to our island, we supposed the savages might have conveyed their captives there. But more trials awaited us before we arrived there. It being necessary to shift the sail, in order to reach the coast in view, my poor cabin-boy, Jack, ran up the mast, holding by the ropes; but before he reached the sail, the rope which he held broke suddenly; he was precipitated into the sea, and disappeared in a moment; but he soon rose to the surface, trying to swim, and mingling his cries with ours. Fritz, who was the first to see the accident, was in the water almost as soon as Jack, and seizing him by the hair, swam with the other hand, calling on him to try and keep afloat, and hold by him. When I saw my two sons thus struggling with the waves, that were very strong from a land wind, I should, in my despair, have leaped in after them; but Ernest held me, and implored me to remain to assist in getting them into the pinnace. He had thrown ropes to them, and a bench which he had torn up with the strength of despair. Fritz had contrived to catch one of the ropes and fasten it round Jack, who still swam, but feebly, as if nearly exhausted. Fritz had been considered an excellent swimmer in Switzerland; he preserved all his presence of mind, calling to us to draw the rope gently, while he supported the poor boy, and pushed him towards the pinnace. At last I was able to reach and draw him up; and when I saw him extended, nearly lifeless, at the bottom of the pinnace, I fell down senseless beside him. How precious to us now was the composed mind of Ernest! In the midst of such a scene, he was calm and collected; promptly disengaging the rope from the body of Jack, he flung it back to Fritz, to help him in reaching the pinnace, attaching the other end firmly to the mast. This done, quicker than I can write it, he approached us, raised his brother so that he might relieve himself from the quantity of water he had swallowed; then turning to me, restored me to my senses by administering to me some drops of rum, and by saying, "Courage, father! you have saved Jack, and I will save Fritz. He has hold of the rope; he is swimming strongly; he is coming; he is here!"

He left me to assist his brother, who was soon in the vessel, and in my arms. Jack, perfectly recovered, joined him; and fervently did I thank God for granting me, in the midst of my trials, such a moment of happiness. We could not help fancying this happy preservation was an augury of our success in our anxious search, and that we should bring back the lost ones to our island.

"Oh, how terrified mamma would have been," said Jack, "to see me sink! I thought I was going, like a stone, to the bottom of the sea; but I pushed out my arms and legs with all my strength, and up I rose."

He as well as Fritz was quite wet. I had by chance brought some changes of clothes, which I made them put on, after giving each a little rum. They were so much fatigued, and I was so overcome by my agitation, that we were obliged to relinquish rowing, most unwillingly, as the skies threatened a storm. We gradually began to distinguish clearly the island we wished to approach; and the land-birds, which came to rest on our sails, gave us hopes that we should reach it before night; but, suddenly, such a thick fog arose, that it hid every object from us, even the sea itself, and we seemed to be sailing among the clouds. I thought it prudent to drop our anchor, as, fortunately, we had a tolerably strong one; but there appeared so little water, that I feared we were near the breakers, and I watched anxiously for the fog to dissipate, and permit us to see the coast. It finally changed into a heavy rain, which we could with difficulty protect ourselves from; there was, however, a half-deck to the pinnace, under which we crept, and sheltered ourselves. Here, crowded close together, we talked over the late accident. Fritz assured me he was never in any danger, and that he would plunge again into the sea that moment, if he had the least hope that it would lead him to find his mother and Francis. We all said the same; though Jack confessed that his friends, the waves, had not received his visit very politely, but had even beat him very rudely.

"But I would bear twice as much," said he, "to see mamma and dear Francis again. Do you think, papa, that the savages could ever hurt them? Mamma is so good, and Francis is so pretty! and then, poor mamma is so lame yet; I hope they would pity her, and carry her."

Alas! I could not hope as my boy did; I feared that they would force her to walk. I tried to conceal other horrible fears, that almost threw me into despair. I recalled all the cruelties of the cannibal nations, and shuddered to think that my Elizabeth and my darling child were perhaps in their ferocious hands. Prayer and confidence in God were the only means, not to console, but to support me, and teach me to endure my heavy affliction with resignation. I looked on my three sons, and endeavoured, for their sakes, to hope and submit. The darkness rapidly increased, till it became total; we concluded it was night. The rain having ceased, I went out to strike a light, as I wished to hang the lighted lantern to the mast, when Ernest, who was on deck, called out loudly, "Father! brothers! come! the sea is on fire!" And, indeed, as far as the eye could reach, the surface of the water appeared in flames; this light, of the most brilliant, fiery red, reached even to the vessel, and we were surrounded by it. It was a sight at once beautiful, and almost terrific. Jack seriously inquired, if there was not a volcano at the bottom of the sea; and I astonished him much by telling him, that this light was caused by a kind of marine animals, which in form resembled plants so much, that they were formerly considered such; but naturalists and modern voyagers have entirely destroyed this error, and furnished proofs that they are organized beings, having all the spontaneous movements peculiar to animals. They feel when they are touched, seek for food, seize and devour it; they are of various kinds and colours, and are known under the general name of zoophytes.

"And this which glitters in such beautiful colours on the sea, is called pyrosoma," said Ernest. "See, here are some I have caught in my hat; you may see them move. How they change colour—orange, green, blue, like the rainbow; and when you touch them, the flame appears still more brilliant; now they are pale yellow."

They amused themselves some time with these bright and beautiful creatures, which appear to have but a half-life. They occupied a large space on the water, and their astonishing radiance, in the midst of the darkness of the atmosphere, had such a striking and magnificent effect, that for a few moments we were diverted from our own sad thoughts; but an observation from Jack soon recalled them.

"If Francis passed this way," said he, "how he would be amused with these funny creatures, which look like fire, but do not burn; but I know he would be afraid to touch them; and how much afraid mamma would be, as she likes no animals she does not know. Ah! how glad I shall be to tell her all about our voyage, and my excursion into the sea, and how Fritz dragged me by the hair, and what they call these fiery fishes; tell me again, Ernest; py—py—"

"Pyrosoma, Mr. Peron calls them," said Ernest. "The description of them is very interesting in his voyage, which I have read to mamma; and as she would recollect it, she would not be afraid."

"I pray to God," replied I, "that she may have nothing more to fear than the pyrosoma, and that we may soon see them again, with her and Francis."

We all said Amen; and, the day breaking, we decided to weigh the anchor, and endeavour to find a passage through the reefs to reach the island, which we now distinctly saw, and which seemed an uncultivated and rocky coast. I resumed my place at the helm, my sons took the oars, and we advanced cautiously, sounding every minute. What would have become of us if our pinnace had been injured! The sea was perfectly calm, and, after prayer to God, and a slight refreshment, we proceeded forward, looking carefully round for any canoe of the savages—it might be, even our own; but, no! we were not fortunate enough to discover any trace of our beloved friends, nor any symptom of the isle being inhabited; however, as it was our only point of hope, we did not wish to abandon it. By dint of searching, we found a small bay, which reminded us of our own. It was formed by a river, broad and deep enough for our pinnace to enter. We rowed in; and having placed our vessel in a creek, where it appeared to be secure, we began to consider the means of exploring the whole island.

* * * * *



CHAPTER XLIX.

I did not disembark on this unknown shore without great emotion: it might be inhabited by a barbarous and cruel race, and I almost doubted the prudence of thus risking my three remaining children in the hazardous and uncertain search after our dear lost ones. I think I could have borne my bereavement with Christian resignation, if I had seen my wife and child die in my arms; I should then have been certain they were happy in the bosom of their God; but to think of them in the power of ferocious and idolatrous savages, who might subject them to cruel tortures and death, chilled my very blood. I demanded of my sons, if they felt courage to pursue the difficult and perilous enterprise we had commenced. They all declared they would rather die than not find their mother and brother. Fritz even besought me, with Ernest and Jack, to return to the island, in case the wanderers should come back, and be terrified to find it deserted; and to leave him the arms, and the means of trafficking with the savages, without any uneasiness about his prudence and discretion.

I assured him I did not distrust his courage and prudence, but I showed him the futility of hoping that the savages would voluntarily carry back their victims, or that they could escape alone. And should he meet with them here, and succeed, how could he carry his recovered treasures to the island?

"No, my children," said I, "we will all search, in the confidence that God will bless our efforts."

"And perhaps sooner than we think," said Ernest. "Perhaps they are in this island."

Jack was running off immediately to search, but I called my little madcap back, till we arranged our plans. I advised that two of us should remain to watch the coast, while the other two penetrated into the interior. The first thing necessary to ascertain was if the island was inhabited, which might easily be done, by climbing some tree that overlooked the country, and remarking if there were any traces of the natives, any huts, or fires lighted, &c. Those who made any discovery were immediately to inform the rest, that we might go in a body to recover our own. If nothing announced that the island was inhabited, we were to leave it immediately, to search elsewhere. All wished to be of the party of discovery. At length, Ernest agreed to remain with me, and watch for any arrivals by sea. Before we parted, we all knelt to invoke the blessing of God on our endeavours. Fritz and Jack, as the most active, were to visit the interior of the island, and to return with information as soon as possible. To be prepared for any chance, I gave them a game-bag filled with toys, trinkets, and pieces of money, to please the savages; I also made them take some food. Fritz took his gun, after promising me he would not fire it, except to defend his life, lest he should alarm the savages, and induce them to remove their captives. Jack took his lasso, and they set out with our benedictions, accompanied by the brave Turk, on whom I depended much to discover his mistress and his companion Flora, if she was still with her friends.

As soon as they were out of sight, Ernest and I set to work to conceal as much as possible our pinnace from discovery. We lowered the masts, and hid with great care under the deck the precious chest with our treasure, provisions, and powder. We got our pinnace with great difficulty, the water being low, behind a rock, which completely concealed it on the land-side, but it was still visible from the sea. Ernest suggested that we should entirely cover it with branches of trees, so that it might appear like a heap of bushes; and we began to cut them immediately with two hatchets we found in the chest, and which we speedily fitted with handles. We found also a large iron staple, which Ernest succeeded, with a hammer and pieces of wood, in fixing in the rock to moor the pinnace to. We had some difficulty in finding branches within our reach; there were many trees on the shore, but their trunks were bare. We found, at last, at some distance, an extensive thicket, composed of a beautiful shrub, which Ernest recognized to be a species of mimosa. The trunk of this plant is knotty and stunted, about three or four feet high, and spreads its branches horizontally, clothed with beautiful foliage, and so thickly interwoven, that the little quadrupeds who make their dwellings in these thickets are obliged to open covered roads out of the entangled mass of vegetation.

At the first blow of the hatchet, a number of beautiful little creatures poured forth on all sides. They resembled the kangaroos of our island, but were smaller, more elegant, and remarkable for the beauty of their skin, which was striped like that of the zebra.

"It is the striped kangaroo," cried Ernest, "described in the voyages of Peron. How I long to have one. The female should have a pouch to contain her young ones."

He lay down very still at the entrance of the thicket, and soon had the satisfaction of seizing two, which leaped out almost into his arms. This animal is timid as the hare of our country. They endeavoured to escape, but Ernest held them fast. One was a female, which had her young one in her pouch, which my son took out very cautiously. It was an elegant little creature, with a skin like its mother, only more brilliant—it was full of graceful antics. The poor mother no longer wished to escape; all her desire seemed to be to recover her offspring, and to replace it in its nest. At last, she succeeded in seizing and placing it carefully in security. Then her desire to escape was so strong, that Ernest could scarcely hold her. He wished much to keep and tame her, and asked my permission to empty one of the chests for a dwelling for her, and to carry her off in the pinnace; but I refused him decidedly. I explained to him the uncertainty of our return to the island, and the imprudence of adding to our cares, and, "certainly," added I, "you would not wish this poor mother to perish from famine and confinement, when your own mother is herself a prisoner?"

His eyes filled with tears, and he declared he would not be such a savage as to keep a poor mother in captivity. "Go, pretty creature," said he, releasing her, "and may my mother be as fortunate as you." She soon profited by his permission, and skipped off with her treasure.

We continued to cut down the branches of the mimosa; but they were so entangled, and the foliage so light, that we agreed to extend our search for some thicker branches.

As we left the shore, the country appeared more fertile: we found many unknown trees, which bore no fruit; but some covered with delicious flowers. Ernest was in his element, he wanted to collect and examine all, to endeavour to discover their names, either from analogy to other plants, or from descriptions he had read. He thought he recognized the melaleuca, several kinds of mimosa, and the Virginian pine, which has the largest and thickest branches. We loaded ourselves with as much as we could carry, and, in two or three journeys, we had collected sufficient to cover the vessel, and to make a shelter for ourselves, if we were obliged to pass the night on shore. I had given orders to my sons that both were to return before night, at all events; and if the least hope appeared, one was to run with all speed to tell us. All my fear was that they might lose their way in this unknown country: they might meet with lakes, marshes, or perplexing forests; every moment I was alarmed with the idea of some new danger, and never did any day seem so long. Ernest endeavoured, by every means in his power, to comfort and encourage me; but the buoyancy of spirit, peculiar to youth, prevented him dwelling long on one painful thought. He amused his mind by turning to search for the marine productions with which the rocks were covered: sea-weed, mosses of the most brilliant colours, zoophytes of various kinds, occupied his attention. He brought them to me, regretting that he could not preserve them.

"Oh! if my dear mother could see them," said he, "or if Fritz could paint them, how they would amuse Francis!"

This recalled our sorrows, and my uneasiness increased.

* * * * *



CHAPTER L.

All was so still around us, and our pinnace was so completely hidden with its canopy of verdure, that I could not help regretting that I had not accompanied my sons. It was now too late, but my steps involuntarily turned to the road I had seen them take, Ernest remaining on the rocks in search of natural curiosities; but I was suddenly recalled by a cry from Ernest—

"Father, a canoe! a canoe!"

"Alas! is it not ours?" I said, rushing to the shore, where, indeed, I saw beyond the reefs a canoe, floating lightly, apparently filled with the islanders, easy to distinguish from their dark complexion. This canoe did not resemble ours; it was longer, narrower, and seemed to be composed of long strips of bark, quite rough, tied together at each end, which gave somewhat of a graceful form to it, though it evidently belonged to the infancy of the art of navigation. It is almost inconceivable how these frail barks resist the slightest storm; but these islanders swim so well, that even if the canoe fills, they jump out, empty it, and take their places again. When landed, one or two men take up the canoe and carry it to their habitation. This, however, appeared to be provided with out-riggers, to preserve the equilibrium, and six savages, with a sort of oars, made it fly like the wind. When it passed the part of the island where we were, we hailed it as loudly as we could; the savages answered by frightful cries, but showed no intention of approaching us or entering the bay; on the contrary, they went on with great rapidity, continuing their cries. I followed them with my eyes as far as I could in speechless emotion; for either my fancy deceived me, or I faintly distinguished a form of fairer complexion than the dark-hued beings who surrounded him—features or dress I could not see; on the whole, it was a vague impression, that I trembled alike to believe or to doubt. Ernest, more active than I, had climbed a sand-bank, and, with his telescope, had commanded a better view of the canoe. He watched it round a point of land, and then came down almost as much agitated as myself. I ran to him and said—

"Ernest, was it your mother?"

"No, papa; I am certain it was not my mother," said he. "Neither was it Francis."

Here he was silent: a cold shuddering came over me.

"Why are you silent?" said I; "what do you think?"

"Indeed, papa, I could distinguish nothing," said he, "even with the telescope, they passed so quickly. Would that it were my mother and brother, we should then be sure they were living, and might follow them. But a thought strikes me: let us free the pinnace, and sail after the canoe. We can go quicker than they with the sail; we shall overtake them behind the cape, and then we shall at least be satisfied."

I hesitated, lest my sons should come back; but Ernest represented to me that we were only fulfilling the wishes of Fritz; besides, we should return in a short time; he added, that he would soon disencumber the pinnace.

"Soon," cried I, "when we have been at least two hours in covering it."

"Yes," said he; "but we had a dozen journeys to make to the trees then; I will have it ready in less than half an hour."

I assisted him as actively as I could, though not with good heart, for I was uneasy about abandoning my sons. I would have given worlds to see them arrive before our departure; to have their assistance, which was of much consequence in the pinnace, and to know they were safe. I often left off my work to take a glance into the interior of the island, hoping to see them. Frequently I mistook the trees in the twilight, which was now coming on, for moving objects. At last, I was not deceived, I saw distinctly a figure walking rapidly.

"They are here!" I cried, running forward, followed by Ernest; and we soon saw a dark-coloured figure approaching. I concluded it was a savage, and, though disappointed, was not alarmed, as he was alone. I stopped, and begged Ernest to recollect all the words he had met with in his books, of the language of the savages. The black man approached; and conceive my surprise when I heard him cry, in my own language—

"Don't be alarmed, father, it is I, your son Fritz."

"Is it possible," said I; "can I believe it? and Jack? What have you done with my Jack? Where is he? Speak...."

Ernest did not ask. Alas! he knew too well; he had seen with his telescope that it was his dear brother Jack that was in the canoe with the savages; but he had not dared to tell me. I was in agony. Fritz, harassed with fatigue, and overwhelmed with grief, sunk down on the ground.

"Oh father!" said he, sobbing, "I dread to appear before you without my brother! I have lost him. Can you ever forgive your unfortunate Fritz?"

"Oh yes, yes; we are all equally unfortunate," cried I, sinking down beside my son, while Ernest seated himself on the other side to support me. I then besought Fritz to tell me if the savages had murdered my dear boy. He assured me that he was not killed, but carried off by the savages; still he hoped he was safe. Ernest then told me he had seen him seated in the canoe, apparently without clothes, but not stained black as Fritz was.

"I earnestly wish he had been," said Fritz; to that I attribute my escape. But I am truly thankful to God that you have seen him, Ernest. "Which way have the monsters gone?"

Ernest pointed out the cape, and Fritz was anxious that we should embark without delay, and endeavour to snatch him from them.

"And have you learned nothing of your mother and Francis?" said I.

"Alas! nothing," said he; "though I think I recognized a handkerchief, belonging to dear mamma, on the head of a savage. I will tell you all my adventure as we go. You forgive me, dear father?"

"Yes, my dear son," said I; "I forgive and pity you; but are you sure my wife and Francis are not on the island?"

"Quite sure," said he. "In fact the island is entirely uninhabited; there is no fresh water, nor game, and no quadrupeds whatever, but rats and kangaroos; but plenty of fruit. I have filled my bag with bread-fuit, which is all we shall need: let us go."

We worked so hard, that in a quarter of an hour the branches were removed, and the pinnace ready to receive us. The wind was favourable for carrying us towards the cape the savages had turned; we hoisted our sail, I took my place at the helm; the sea was calm, and the moon lighted our way. After recommending ourselves to the protection of God, I desired Fritz to commence his melancholy recital.

"It will be melancholy, indeed," said the poor boy, weeping; "if we do not find my dear Jack, I shall never forgive myself for not having stained his skin before my own; then he should have been with you now—"

"But I have you, my dear son, to console your father," said I. "I can do nothing myself, in my sorrow. I depend on you, my two eldest, to restore to me what I have lost. Go on, Fritz."

"We went on," continued he, "with courage and hope; and as we proceeded, we felt that you were right in saying we ought not to judge of the island by the borders. You can form no idea of the fertility of the island, or of the beauty of the trees and shrubs we met with at every step, quite unknown to me; some were covered with fragrant flowers, others with tempting fruits; which, however, we did not venture to taste, as we had not Knips to try them."

"Did you see any monkeys?" asked Ernest.

"Not one," replied his brother, "to the great vexation of Jack; but we saw parrots, and all sorts of birds of the most splendid plumage. Whilst we were remarking these creatures, I did not neglect to look carefully about for any trace that might aid our search. I saw no hut, no sort of dwelling, nor anything that could indicate that the island was inhabited, and not the slightest appearance of fresh water; and we should have been tormented with thirst if we had not found some cocoa-nuts containing milk, and an acid fruit, full of juice, which we have in our own island—Ernest calls it the carambolier; we quenched our thirst with this, as well as with the plant, which we also have, and which contains water in the stem. The country is flat and open, and its beautiful trees stand at such a distance from each other, that no one could hide amongst them. But if we found no dwellings, we often discovered traces of the savages,—extinguished fires, remains of kangaroos and of fish, cocoa-nut shells, and even entire nuts, which we secured for ourselves; we remarked, also, footmarks on the sand. We both wished anxiously to meet with a savage, that we might endeavour to make him comprehend, by signs, whom we were in search of, hoping that natural affection might have some influence even with these untaught creatures. I was only fearful that my dress and the colour of my skin might terrify them. In the mean time, Jack, with his usual rashness, had climbed to the summit of one of the tallest trees, and suddenly cried out, 'Fritz, prepare your signs, the savages are landing. Oh! what black ugly creatures they are, and nearly naked! you ought to dress yourself like them, to make friends with them. You can stain your skin with these,' throwing me down branches of a sort of fruit of a dark purple colour, large as a plum, with a skin like the mulberry. 'I have been tasting them, they are very nauseous, and they have stained my fingers black; rub yourself well with the juice of this fruit, and you will be a perfect savage,'

"I agreed immediately. He descended from the tree while I undressed, and with his assistance I stained myself from head to foot, as you see me; but don't be alarmed, a single dip in the sea will make me a European again. The good-natured Jack then helped to dress me in a sort of tunic made of large leaves, and laughed heartily when he looked at me, calling me Omnibou, of whom he had seen a picture, which he declared I exactly resembled. I then wished to disguise him in the same way, but he would not consent; he declared that, when he met with mamma and Francis, he should fly to embrace them, and that he should alarm and disgust them in such a costume. He said I could protect him if the savages wished to devour him: they were now at hand, and we went forward, Jack following me with my bundle of clothes under his arm. I had slung my kangaroo-skin bag of powder and provision on my shoulders, and I was glad to see that most of the savages wore the skin of that animal, for the most part spread out like a mantle over their shoulders; few of them had other clothes, excepting one, who appeared to be the chief, and had a tunic of green rushes, neatly woven. I tried to recollect all the words of savage language I could, but very few occurred to me. I said at first 'tayo, tayo'. I don't know whether they comprehended me, but they paid me great attention, evidently taking me for a savage; only one of them wished to seize my gun; but I held it firmly, and on the chief speaking a word to him, he drew back. They spoke very rapidly, and I saw by their looks they spoke about us; they looked incessantly at Jack, repeating, 'To maiti tata.' Jack imitated all their motions, and made some grimaces which seemed to amuse them. I tried in vain to attract their attention. I had observed a handkerchief twisted round the head of him who seemed the chief, that reminded me much of the one my mother usually wore. I approached him, touched the handkerchief, saying expressively, 'Metoua aine mere, et tata frere;' I added, pointing to the sea, 'pay canot.' But, alas! they did not appear to understand my words. The chief thought I wished to rob him of his handkerchief, and repelled me roughly. I then wished to retire, and I told Jack to follow me; but four islanders seized him, opened his waistcoat and shirt, and cried out together, 'Alea tea tata.' In an instant he was stripped, and his clothes and mine were put on in a strange fashion by the savages. Jack, mimicking all their contortions, recovered his shirt from one of them, put it on, and began to dance, calling on me to do the same, and, in a tone as if singing, repeated, 'Make your escape, Fritz, while I am amusing them; I will then run off and join you very soon,' As if I could for a moment think of leaving him in the hands of these barbarians! However, I recollected at that moment the bag you had given me of toys and trinkets; we had thoughtlessly left it under the great tree where I had undressed. I told Jack, in the same tone, I would fetch it, if he could amuse the savages till I returned, which he might be certain would be very soon. I ran off with all speed, and without opposition arrived at the tree, found my bag well guarded, indeed, father; for what was my surprise to find our two faithful dogs, Turk and Flora, sitting over it."

"Flora!" cried I, "she accompanied my dear wife and child into their captivity; they must be in this island—why have we left it!"

"My dear father," continued Fritz, "depend on it, they are not there; but I feel convinced that the wretches who have carried off Jack, hold dear mamma and Francis in captivity; therefore we must, at all events, pursue them. The meeting between Flora and me was truly joyful, for I was now convinced that my mother and Francis were not far off, though certainly not on the same island, or their attached friend would not have quitted them. I concluded that the chief who had taken my mamma's handkerchief had also taken her dog, and brought her on this excursion, and that she had here met with her friend Turk, who had rambled from us.

"After caressing Flora, and taking up my bag, I ran off full speed to the spot where my dear Jack was trying to divert the barbarians. As I approached, I heard cries,—not the noisy laughter of the savages, but cries of distress from my beloved brother,—cries for help, addressed to me. I did not walk—I flew till I reached the spot, and I then saw him bound with a sort of strong cord, made of gut; his hands were fastened behind his back, his legs tied together, and these cruel men were carrying him towards their canoe, while he was crying out, 'Fritz, Fritz, where are you?' I threw myself desperately on the six men who were bearing him off. In the struggle, my gun, which I held in my hand, caught something, and accidentally went off, and—O, father, it was my own dear Jack that I wounded! I cannot tell how I survived his cry of 'You have killed me!' And when I saw his blood flow, my senses forsook me, and I fainted. When I recovered, I was alone; they had carried him off. I rose, and following the traces of his blood, arrived fortunately at the shore just as they were embarking. God permitted me to see him again, supported by one of the savages, and even to hear his feeble voice cry, 'Console yourself, Fritz, I am not dead; I am only wounded in the shoulder; it is not your fault; go, my kind brother, as quick as possible to papa, and you will both'—the canoe sailed away so swiftly, that I heard no more; but I understood the rest—'you will both come and rescue me.' But will there be time? Will they dress his wound? Oh! father, what have I done! Can you forgive me?"

Overwhelmed with grief, I could only hold out my hand to my poor boy, and assure him I could not possibly blame him for this distressing accident.

Ernest, though greatly afflicted, endeavoured to console his brother; he told him a wound in the shoulder was not dangerous, and the savages certainly intended to dress his wound, or they would have left him to die. Fritz, somewhat comforted, begged me to allow him to bathe, to divest himself of the colouring, which was now become odious to him, as being that of these ruthless barbarians. I was reluctant to consent; I thought it might still be useful, in gaining access to the savages; but he was certain they would recognize him in that disguise as the bearer of the thunder, and would distrust him. I now recollected to ask what had become of his gun, and was sorry to learn that they had carried it off whilst he lay insensible; he himself considered that it would be useless to them, as they had fortunately left him the bag of ammunition. Ernest, however, regretted the loss to ourselves, this being the third we had lost—the one we had left in the canoe being also in the possession of the savages. The dogs we missed, too, and Fritz could give no account of them; we concluded they had either followed the savages, or were still in the island. This was another severe sorrow; it seemed as if every sort of misfortune was poured out upon us. I rested on the shoulder of Ernest in my anguish. Fritz took advantage of my silence, and leaped out of the pinnace to have a bath. I was alarmed at first; but he was such an excellent swimmer, and the sea was so calm, that I soon abandoned my fears for him.

* * * * *



CHAPTER LI.

Fritz was now swimming far before us, and appeared to have no idea of turning, so that I was at once certain he projected swimming on to the point where we had lost sight of the savages, to be the first to discover and aid his brother. Although he was an excellent swimmer, yet the distance was so great, that I was much alarmed; and especially for his arrival by night in the midst of the savages. This fear was much increased by a very extraordinary sound, which we now heard gradually approaching us; it was a sort of submarine tempest. The weather was beautiful; there was no wind, the moon shone in a cloudless sky, yet the waves were swoln as if by a storm, and threatened to swallow us; we heard at the same time a noise like violent rain. Terrified at these phenomena, I cried out aloud for Fritz to return; and though it was almost impossible my voice could reach him, we saw him swimming towards us with all his strength. Ernest and I used all our power in rowing to meet him, so that we soon got to him. The moment he leaped in, he uttered in a stifled voice, pointing to the mountains of waves, "They are enormous marine monsters! whales, I believe! such an immense shoal! They will swallow us up!"

"No," said Ernest, quietly; "don't be alarmed; the whale is a gentle and harmless animal, when not attacked. I am very glad to see them so near. We shall pass as quietly through the midst of these colossal creatures, as we did through the shining zoophytes: doubtless the whales are searching for them, for they constitute a principal article of their food."

They were now very near us, sporting on the surface of the water, or plunging into its abysses, and forcing out columns of water through their nostrils to a great height, which occasionally fell on us, and wetted us. Sometimes they raised themselves on their huge tail, and looked like giants ready to fall on us and crush us; then they went down again into the water, which foamed under their immense weight. Then they seemed to be going through some military evolutions, advancing in a single line, like a body of regular troops, one after another swimming with grave dignity; still more frequently they were in lines of two and two. This wonderful sight partly diverted us from our own melancholy thoughts. Fritz had, however, seized his oar, without giving himself time to dress, whilst I, at the rudder, steered as well as I could through these monsters, who are, notwithstanding their appearance, the mildest animals that exist. They allowed us to pass so closely, that we were wetted with the water they spouted up, and might have touched them; and with the power to overturn us with a stroke of their tail, they never noticed us; they seemed to be satisfied with each other's society. We were truly sorry to see their mortal enemy appear amongst them, the sword-fish of the south, armed with its long saw, remarkable for a sort of fringe of nine or ten inches long, which distinguishes it from the sword-fish of the north. They are both terrible enemies to the whale, and next to man, who wages an eternal war with them, its most formidable foes. The whales in our South Seas had only the sword-fish to dread; as soon as they saw him approach, they dispersed, or dived into the depths of the ocean. One only, very near us, did not succeed in escaping, and we witnessed a combat, of which, however, we could not see the event. These two monsters attacked each other with equal ferocity; but as they took an opposite direction to that we were going, we soon lost sight of them, but we shall never forget our meeting with these wonderful giants of the deep.

We happily doubled the promontory behind which the canoe had passed, and found ourselves in an extensive gulf, which narrowed as it entered the land, and resembled the mouth of a river. We did not hesitate to follow its course. We went round the bay, but found no traces of man, but numerous herds of the amphibious animal, called sometimes the sea-lion, the sea-dog, or the sea-elephant, or trunked phoca: modern voyagers give it the last name. These animals, though of enormous size, are gentle and peaceful, unless roused by the cruelty of man. They were in such numbers on this desert coast, that they would have prevented our approach if we had intended it. They actually covered the beach and the rocks, opening their huge mouths, armed with very sharp teeth, more frightful than dangerous. As it was night when we entered the bay, they were all sleeping, but they produced a most deafening noise with their breathing. We left them to their noisy slumber; for us, alas! no such comfort remained. The continual anxiety attending an affliction like ours destroys all repose, and for three days we had not slept an hour. Since the new misfortune of Jack's captivity, we were all kept up by a kind of fever. Fritz was in a most incredible state of excitement, and declared he would never sleep till he had rescued his beloved brother. His bath had partially removed the colouring from his skin, but he was still dark enough to pass for a savage, when arrayed like them. The shores of the strait we were navigating were very steep, and we had yet not met with any place where we could land; however, my sons persisted in thinking the savages could have taken no other route, as they had lost sight of their canoe round the promontory. As the strait was narrow and shallow, I consented that Fritz should throw off the clothes he had on, and swim to reconnoitre a place which seemed to be an opening in the rocks or hills that obstructed our passage, and we soon had the pleasure of seeing him standing on the shore, motioning for us to approach. The strait was now so confined, that we could not have proceeded any further with the pinnace; we could not even bring it to the shore. Ernest and I were obliged to step into the water up to the waist; but we took the precaution to tie a long and strong rope to the prow, and when we were aided by the vigorous arm of Fritz, we soon drew the pinnace near enough to fix it by means of the anchor.

There were neither trees nor rocks on that desert shore to which we could fasten the pinnace; but, to our great delight and encouragement, we found, at a short distance from our landing-place, a bark canoe, which my sons were certain was that in which Jack had been carried off. We entered it, but at first saw only the oars; at last, however, Ernest discovered, in the water which half filled the canoe, part of a handkerchief, stained with blood, which they recognized as belonging to Jack. This discovery, which relieved our doubts, caused Fritz to shed tears of joy. We were certainly on the track of the robbers, and might trust that they had not proceeded farther with their barbarity. We found on the sand, and in the boat, some cocoa-nut shells and fish-bones, which satisfied us of the nature of their repasts. We resolved to continue our search into the interior of the country, following the traces of the steps of the savages. We could not find any traces of Jack's foot, which would have alarmed us, if Fritz had not suggested that they had carried him, on account of his wound. We were about to set out, when the thoughts of the pinnace came over us; it was more than ever necessary for us to preserve this, our only means of return, and which moreover contained our goods for ransom, our ammunition, and our provisions, still untouched, for some bread-fruit Fritz had gathered, some muscles, and small, but excellent, oysters, had been sufficient for us. It was fortunate that we had brought some gourds of water with us, for we had not met with any. We decided that it would be necessary to leave one of our party to guard the precious pinnace, though this would be but an insufficient and dangerous defence, in case of the approach of the natives. My recent bereavements made me tremble at the idea of leaving either of my sons. I cannot yet reflect on the agony of that moment without horror—yet it was the sole means to secure our vessel; there was not a creek or a tree to hide it, and the situation of the canoe made it certain the savages must return there to embark. My children knew my thoughts, by the distracted glances with which I alternately regarded them and the pinnace, and, after consulting each other's looks, Ernest said—

"The pinnace must not remain here unguarded, father, to be taken, or, at any rate, pillaged by the natives, who will return for their canoe. Either we must all wait till they come, or you must leave me to defend it. I see, Fritz, that you could not endure to remain here."

In fact, Fritz impatiently stamped with his foot, saying—

"I confess, I cannot remain here; Jack may be dying of his wound, and every moment is precious. I will seek him—find him—and save him! I have a presentiment I shall; and if I discover him, as I expect, in the hands of the savages, I know the way to release him, and to prevent them carrying off our pinnace."

I saw that the daring youth, in the heat of his exasperation, exposed alone to the horde of barbarians, might also become their victim. I saw that my presence was necessary to restrain and aid him; and I decided, with a heavy heart, to leave Ernest alone to protect the vessel. His calm and cool manner made it less dangerous for him to meet the natives. He knew several words of their language, and had read of the mode of addressing and conciliating them. He promised me to be prudent, which his elder brother could not be. We took the bag of toys which Fritz had brought, and left those in the chest, to use if necessary; and, praying for the blessing of Heaven on my son, we left him. My sorrow was great; but he was no longer a child, and his character encouraged me. Fritz embraced his brother, and promised him to bring Jack back in safety.

* * * * *



CHAPTER LII.

After having traversed for some time a desert, sandy plain without meeting a living creature, we arrived at a thick wood, where we lost the traces we had carefully followed. We were obliged to direct our course by chance, keeping no fixed road, but advancing as the interwoven branches permitted us. The wood was alive with the most beautiful birds of brilliant and varied plumage; but, in our anxious and distressed state, we should have been more interested in seeing a savage than a bird. We passed at last through these verdant groves, and reached an arid plain extending to the shore. We again discovered numerous footsteps; and, whilst we were observing them, we saw a large canoe pass rapidly, filled with islanders: and this time I thought that, in spite of the distance, I could recognize the canoe we had built, and which they had robbed us of. Fritz wished to swim after them, and was beginning to undress himself, and I only stopped him by declaring that if he did, I must follow him, as I had decided not to be separated from him. I even proposed that we should return to Ernest, as I was of opinion that the savages would stop at the place where we had disembarked, to take away the boat they had left, and we might then, by means of the words Ernest had acquired, learn from them what had become of my wife and children. Fritz agreed to this, though he still persisted that the easiest and quickest mode of return would have been by swimming. We were endeavouring to retrace our road, when, to our great astonishment, we saw, at a few yards' distance, a man clothed in a long black robe advancing towards us, whom we immediately recognized as a European.

"Either I am greatly deceived," said I, "or this is a missionary, a worthy servant of God, come into these remote regions to make Him known to the wretched idolators."

We hastened to him. I was not wrong. He was one of those zealous and courageous Christians who devote their energies and their lives to the instruction and eternal salvation of men born in another hemisphere, of another colour, uncivilized, but not less our brothers. I had quitted Europe with the same intention, but Providence had ordered it otherwise; yet I met with joy one of my Christian brethren, and, unable to speak from emotion, I silently embraced him. He spoke to me in English—a language I had fortunately learned myself, and taught to my children—and his words fell on my soul like the message of the angel to Abraham, commanding him to spare his son.

"You are the person I am seeking," said he, in a mild and tender tone, "and I thank Heaven that I have met with you. This youth is Fritz, your eldest son, I conclude; but where have you left your second son, Ernest?"

"Reverend man," cried Fritz, seizing his hands, "you have seen my brother Jack. Perhaps my mother? You know where they are. Oh! are they living?"

"Yes, they are living, and well taken care of," said the missionary; "come, and I will lead you to them."

It was, indeed, necessary to lead me; I was so overcome with joy, that I should have fainted, but the good missionary made me inhale some volatile salts which he had about him; and supported by him and my son, I managed to walk. My first words were a thanksgiving to God for his mercy; then I implored my good friend to tell me if I should indeed see my wife and children again. He assured me that an hour's walk would bring me to them; but I suddenly recollected Ernest, and refused to present myself before the beloved ones while he was still in danger. The missionary smiled, as he told me he expected this delay, and wished to know where we had left Ernest. I recounted to him our arrival in the island, and the purpose for which we had left Ernest; with our intention of returning to him as soon as we saw the canoe pass, hoping to obtain some intelligence from the savages.

"But how could you have made yourselves understood?" said he; "are you acquainted with their language?"

I told him Ernest had studied the vocabulary of the South Sea islanders.

"Doubtless that of Tahiti, or the Friendly Islands," said he; "but the dialect of these islanders differs much from theirs. I have resided here more than a year, and have studied it, so may be of use to you; let us go. Which way did you come?"

"Through that thick wood," replied I; "where we wandered a long time; and I fear we shall have some difficulty in finding our way back."

"You should have taken the precaution to notch the trees as you came," said our worthy friend; "without that precaution, you were in danger of being lost; but we will find my marks, which will lead us to the brook, and following its course we shall be safe."

"We saw no brook," remarked Fritz.

"There is a brook of excellent water, which you have missed in crossing the forest; if you had ascended the course of the stream, you would have reached the hut which contains your dear friends; the brook runs before it."

Fritz struck his forehead with vexation.

"God orders all for the best," said I to the good priest; "we might not have met with you; we should have been without Ernest; you might have sought us all day in vain. Ah! good man, it is under your holy auspices that our family ought to meet, in order to increase our happiness. Now please to tell me"—

"But first," interrupted Fritz, "pray tell me how Jack is? He was wounded, and"—

"Be composed, young man," said the calm man of God; "the wound, which he confesses he owes to his own imprudence, will have no evil consequences; the savages had applied some healing herbs to it, but it was necessary to extract a small ball, an operation which I performed yesterday evening. Since then he suffers less; and will be soon well, when his anxiety about you is relieved."

Fritz embraced the kind missionary, entreating his pardon for his rashness, and adding, "Did my brother talk to you of us, sir?"

"He did," answered his friend; "but I was acquainted with you before; your mother talked continually of her husband and children. What mingled pain and delight she felt yesterday evening when the savages brought to her dear Jack, wounded! I was fortunately in the hut to comfort her, and assist her beloved boy."

"And dear Francis," said I, "how rejoiced he would be to see his brother again!"

"Francis," said the missionary, smiling, "will be the protector of you all. He is the idol of the savages now; an idolatry permitted by Christianity."

We proceeded through the wood as we conversed, and at last reached the brook. I had a thousand questions to ask, and was very anxious to know how my wife and Francis had been brought to this island, and how they met with the missionary. The five or six days we had been separated seemed to me five or six months. We walked too quickly for me to get much information. The English minister said little, and referred me to my wife and son for all details. On the subject of his own noble mission he was less reserved.

"Thank God," said he, "I have already succeeded in giving this people some notions of humanity. They love their black friend, as they call me, and willingly listen to my preaching, and the singing of some hymns. When your little Francis was taken, he had his reed flageolet in his pocket, and his playing and graceful manners have so captivated them that I fear they will with reluctance resign him. The king is anxious to adopt him. But do not alarm yourself, brother; I hope to arrange all happily, with the divine assistance. I have gained some power over them, and I will avail myself of it. A year ago, I could not have answered for the life of the prisoners; now I believe them to be in safety. But how much is there yet to teach these simple children of nature, who listen only to her voice, and yield to every impression! Their first impulse is good, but they are so unsteady that affection may suddenly change to hatred; they are inclined to theft, violent in their anger, yet generous and affectionate. You will see an instance of this in the abode where a woman, more unfortunate than your wife, since she has lost her husband, has found an asylum."

He was silent, and I did not question him farther on this subject. We were approaching the arm of the sea where we had left our pinnace, and my heart, at ease about the rest, became now anxious solely for Ernest. Sometimes the hills concealed the water from us; Fritz climbed them, anxious to discover his brother, at last I heard him suddenly cry out "Ernest, Ernest...."

He was answered by shouts, or rather howls, amongst which I could not distinguish the voice of my son. Terror seized me.

"These are the islanders," said I to the missionary; "and these frightful cries...."

"Are cries of joy," said he, "which will be increased when they see you. This path will conduct us to the shore. Call Fritz; but I do not see him; he will, doubtless, have descended the hill, and joined them. Have no fears; recommend your sons to be prudent. The black friend will speak to his black friends, and they will hear him."

We proceeded towards the shore, when, at some distance, I perceived my two sons on the deck of the pinnace, which was covered with the islanders, to whom they were distributing the treasures of the chest, at least those we had put apart in the bag; they had not been so imprudent as to open the chest itself, which would soon have been emptied; it remained snugly below the deck, with the powder-barrel. At every new acquisition, the savages uttered cries of joy, repeating mona, mona signifying beautiful. The mirrors were at first received with the most delight, but this soon changed into terror; they evidently conceived there was something magical about them, and flung them all into the sea. The coloured glass beads had then the preference, but the distribution caused many disputes. Those who had not obtained any, wished to deprive the rest of them by force. The clamour and quarrelling were increasing, when the voice of the missionary was heard, and calmed them as if by enchantment. All left the pinnace, and crowded round him; he harangued them in their own language, and pointed me out to them, naming me, me touatane, that is, father, which they repeated in their turn. Some approached me, and rubbed their noses against mine, which, the pastor had informed me, was a mark of respect. In the mean time, Fritz had informed Ernest that his mother and brothers were found, and that the man who accompanied us was a European. Ernest received the intelligence with a calm joy; it was only by the tears in his eyes you could discover how much his heart was affected; he leaped from the pinnace and came to thank the missionary. I had my share of his gratitude too, for coming to seek him, before I had seen the dear lost ones.

We had now to think of joining them. We unanimously decided to proceed by water; in the first place, that we might bring our pinnace as near as possible to my dear Elizabeth, who was still suffering from her fall, her forced voyage, and, above all, from her anxiety; besides, I confess that I felt a little fatigue, and should have reluctantly set out to cross the wood a third time; but, in addition to this, I was assured that it was the promptest mode of reaching our friends, and this alone would have decided me. The pinnace was then loosened, the sail set, and we entered with thankfulness. Dreading the agitation of my wife if she saw us suddenly, I entreated our new friend to precede us, and prepare her. He consented; but, as he was coming on board, he was suddenly stopped by the natives, and one of them addressed him for some time. The missionary listened till he had concluded, with calmness and dignity; then, turning to me, he said—

"You must answer for me, brother, the request which Parabery makes: he wishes me, in the name of the whole, to wait a few moments for their chief, to whom they give the title of king. Bara-ourou, as he is called, has assembled them here for a ceremony, at which all his warriors must assist. I have been anxious to attend, fearing it might be a sacrifice to their idols, which I have always strongly opposed, and wishing to seize this occasion to declare to them the one true God. Bara-ourou is not wicked, and I hope to succeed in touching his heart, enlightening his mind, and converting him to Christianity; his example would certainly be followed by the greatest part of his subjects, who are much attached to him. Your presence, and the name of God uttered by you, with the fervour and in the attitude of profound veneration and devotion, may aid this work of charity and love. Have you sufficient self-command to delay, for perhaps a few hours, the meeting with your family? Your wife and children, not expecting you, will not suffer from suspense. If you do not agree to this, I will conduct you to them, and return, I hope in time, to fulfil my duty. I wait your decision to reply to Parabery, who is already sufficiently acquainted with the truth, to desire that his king and his brethren should know it also."

Such were the words of this true servant of God; but I cannot do justice to the expression of his heavenly countenance. Mr. Willis, for such was his name, was forty-five or fifty years of age, tall and thin; the labours and fatigues of his divine vocation had, more than years, left their traces on his noble figure and countenance; he stooped a little, his open and elevated forehead was slightly wrinkled, and his thin hair was prematurely grey; his clear blue eyes were full of intelligence and kindness, reading your thoughts, and showing you all his own. He usually kept his arms folded over his breast, and was very calm in speaking; but when his extended hand pointed to heaven, the effect was irresistible; one might have thought he saw the very glory he spoke of. His simple words to me seemed a message from God, and it would have been impossible to resist him. It was indeed a sacrifice; but I made it without hesitation. I glanced at my sons, who had their eyes cast down; but I saw Fritz knitting his brows. "I shall stay with you, father," said I, "happy if I can assist you in fulfilling your sacred duties."

"And you, young people," said he, "are you of the same opinion?"

Fritz came forward, and frankly said, "Sir, it was, unfortunately, I who wounded my brother Jack; he has been generous enough to conceal this; you extracted the ball which I discharged into his shoulder; I owe his life to you, and mine is at your disposal; I can refuse you nothing; and, however impatient, I must remain with you."

"I repeat the same," said Ernest; "you protected our mother and brothers, and, by God's permission, you restore them to us. We will all remain with you; you shall fix the time of our meeting, which will not, I trust, be long delayed."

I signified my approbation, and the missionary gave them his hand, assuring them that their joy on meeting their friends would be greatly increased by the consciousness of this virtuous self-denial.

We soon experienced this. Mr. Willis learned from Parabery, that they were going to fetch their king in our pretty canoe when we saw it pass. The royal habitation was situated on the other side of the promontory, and we soon heard a joyful cry, that they saw the canoe coming. While the savages were engaged in preparing to meet their chief, I entered the pinnace, and descending beneath the deck, I took from the chest what I judged most fitting to present to his majesty. I chose an axe, a saw, a pretty, small, ornamented sabre, which could not do much harm, a packet of nails, and one of glass-beads. I had scarcely put aside these articles, when my sons rushed to me in great excitement.

"Oh! father," cried they, at once, "look! look! summon all your fortitude; see! there is Francis himself in the canoe; oh! how curiously he is dressed!"



I looked, and saw, at some distance, our canoe ascending the strait; it was decorated with green branches, which the savages, who formed the king's guard, held in their hand; others were rowing vigorously; and the chief, wearing a red and yellow handkerchief, which had belonged to my wife, as a turban, was seated at the stern, and a pretty, little, blooming, flaxen-haired boy was placed on his right shoulder. With what delight did I recognize my child. He was naked above the waist, and wore a little tunic of woven leaves, which reached to his knees, a necklace and bracelets of shells, and a variety of coloured feathers mingled with his bright curls; one of these fell over his face, and doubtless prevented him from seeing us. The chief seemed much engaged with him, and continually took some ornament from his own dress to decorate him. "It is my child!" said I, in great terror, to Mr. Willis, "my dearest and youngest! They have taken him from his mother. What must be her grief! He is her Benjamin—the child of her love. Why have they taken him? Why have they adorned him in this manner? Why have they brought him here?"

"Have no fear," said the missionary; "they will do him no harm. I promise you they shall restore him, and you shall take him back to his mother. Place yourselves at my side, with these branches in your hands."

He took some from Parabery, who held a bundle of them, and gave us each one; each of the savages took one also. They were from a tree which had slender, elegant leaves, and rich scarlet flowers—species of mimosa; the Indians call it the tree of peace. They carry a branch of it when they have no hostile intentions; in all their assemblies, when war is proclaimed, they make a fire of these branches, and if all are consumed, it is considered an omen of victory.

While Mr. Willis was explaining this to us, the canoe approached. Two savages took Francis on their shoulders, two others took the king in the same way, and advanced gravely towards us. What difficulty I had to restrain myself from snatching my child from his bearers, and embracing him! My sons were equally agitated; Fritz was darting forward, but the missionary restrained him. Francis, somewhat alarmed at his position, had his eyes cast down, and had not yet seen us. When the king was within twenty yards of us, they stopped, and all the savages prostrated themselves before him; we alone remained standing. Then Francis saw us, and uttered a piercing cry, calling out, "Papa! dear brothers!" He struggled to quit the shoulders of his bearers, but they held him too firmly. It was impossible to restrain ourselves longer; we all cried out, and mingled our tears and lamentations. I said to the good missionary,—a little too harshly, perhaps,—"Ah! if you were a father!"

"I am," said he, "the father of all this flock, and your children are mine; I am answerable for all. Command your sons to be silent; request the child to be composed, and leave the rest to me."

I immediately took advantage of the permission to speak. "Dear Francis," said I, holding out my arms, "we are come to seek you and your mother; after all our dangers, we shall soon meet again, to part no more. But be composed, my child, and do not risk the happiness of that moment by any impatience. Trust in God, and in this good friend that He has given us, and who has restored to me the treasures without which I could not live." We then waved our hands to him, and he remained still, but wept quietly, murmuring our names: "Papa, Fritz, Ernest,—tell me about mamma," said he, at last, in an inquiring tone.

"She does not know we are so near her," said I. "How did you leave her?"

"Very much grieved," said he, "that they brought me away; but they have not done me any harm,—they are so kind; and we shall soon all go back to her. Oh! what joy for her and our friends!"

"One word about Jack," said Fritz; "how does his wound go on?"

"Oh, pretty well," answered he; "he has no pain now, and Sophia nurses him and amuses him. How little Matilda would weep when the savages carried me off! If you knew, papa, how kind and good she is!"

I had no time to ask who Sophia and Matilda were. They had allowed me to speak to my son to tranquillize him, but the king now commanded silence, and, still elevated on the shoulders of his people, began to harangue the assembly. He was a middle-aged man, with striking features; his thick lips, his hair tinged with red paint, his dark brown face, which, as well as his body, was tattooed with white, gave him a formidable aspect; yet his countenance was not unpleasant, and announced no ferocity. In general, these savages have enormous mouths, with long white teeth; they wear a tunic of reeds or leaves from the waist to the knees. My wife's handkerchief, which I had recognized at first, was gracefully twisted round the head of the king; his hair was fastened up high, and ornamented with feathers, but he had nearly removed them all to deck my boy. He placed him at his side, and frequently pointed him out during his speech. I was on thorns. As soon as he had concluded, the savages shouted, clapped their hands, and surrounded my child, dancing, and presenting him fruit, flowers, and shells, crying out, Ouraki! a cry in which the king, who was now standing, joined also.

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