"What does the word Ouraki mean?" said I to the missionary.
"It is the new name of your son," answered he; "or rather of the son of Bara-ourou, who has just adopted him."
"Never!" cried I, darting forward. "Boys, let us rescue your brother from these barbarians!" We all three rushed towards Francis, who, weeping, extended his arms to us. The savages attempted to repulse us; but at that moment the missionary pronounced some words in a loud voice; they immediately prostrated themselves on their faces, and we had no difficulty in securing the child. We brought him to our protector, who still remained in the same attitude in which he had spoken, with his eyes and his right hand raised towards heaven. He made a sign for the savages to rise, and afterwards spoke for some time to them. What would I have given to have understood him! But I formed some idea from the effect of his words. He frequently pointed to us, pronouncing the word eroue, and particularly addressed the king, who listened motionless to him. At the conclusion of his speech, Bara-ourou approached, and attempted to take hold of Francis, who threw himself into my arms, where I firmly held him.
"Let him now go," said Mr. Willis, "and fear nothing."
I released the child; the king lifted him up, pressed his own nose to his; then, placing him on the ground, took away the feathers and necklace with which he had decked him, and replaced him in my arms, rubbing my nose also, and repeating several words. In my first emotion, I threw myself on my knees, and was imitated by my two sons.
"It is well!" cried the missionary, again raising his eyes and hands. "Thus should you offer thanks to heaven. The king, convinced it is the will of God, restores your child, and wishes to become your friend: he is worthy to be so, for he adores and fears your God. May he soon learn to know and believe all the truths of Christianity! Let us pray together that the time may come when, on these shores, where paternal love has triumphed, I may see a temple rise to the Father of all,—the God of peace and love."
He kneeled down, and the king and all his people followed his example. Without understanding the words of his prayer, I joined in the spirit of it with all my heart and soul.
I then presented my offerings to the king, increasing them considerably. I would willingly have given all my treasures in exchange for him he had restored to me. My sons also gave something to each of the savages, who incessantly cried tayo, tayo. I begged Mr. Willis to tell the king I gave him my canoe, and hoped he would use it to visit us in our island, to which we were returning. He appeared pleased, and wished to accompany us in our pinnace, which he seemed greatly to admire; some of his people followed him on board to row, the rest placed themselves in the canoes. We soon entered the sea again, and, doubling the second point, we came to an arm of the sea much wider, and deep enough for our pinnace, and which conducted us to the object of our dearest hopes.
* * * * *
We were never weary with caressing our dear Francis. We were very anxious to learn from him all the particulars of the arrival of the savages in our island, the seizure of his mother and himself, their voyage, and their residence here, and who were the friends they had met with: but it was impossible, his tawny majesty never left us for a moment, and played with the boy as if he had been a child himself. Francis showed him all the toys from our chest; he was extremely amused with the small mirrors, and the dolls. A painted carriage, driven by a coachman who raised his whip when the wheels turned, appeared miraculous to him. He uttered screams of delight as he pointed it out to his followers. The ticking of my watch also charmed him; and as I had several more, I gave him it, showing him how to wind it up. But the first time he tried to do it, he broke the spring, and when it was silent he cared no longer for it, but threw it on one side. However, as the gold was very glittering, he took it up again, and suspending it from the handkerchief that was wound round his head, it hung over his nose, and formed a striking ornament. Francis showed him his face in a mirror, which royal amusement made him laugh heartily. He asked the missionary if it was the invisible and Almighty God who had made all these wonderful things. Mr. Willis replied, that it was he who gave men the power to make them. I do not know whether Bara-ourou comprehended this, but he remained for some time in deep thought. I profited by this to ask the missionary what were the words which had terrified them so when they wished to keep my son from me, and which had compelled them to surrender him?
"I told them," answered he, "that the Almighty and unseen God, of whom I spoke to them daily, ordered them, by my voice, to restore a son to his father; I threatened them with his anger if they refused, and promised them his mercy if they obeyed; and they did obey. The first step is gained, they know the duty of adoring and obeying God; every other truth proceeds from this, and I have no doubt that my savages will one day become good Christians. My method of instruction is suited to their limited capacity. I prove to them that their wooden idols, made by their own hands, could neither create, hear them, nor protect them. I have shown them God in his works, have declared him to be as good as he is powerful, hating evil, cruelty, murder, and cannibalism, and they have renounced all these. In their late wars they have either released or adopted their prisoners. If they carried off your wife and son, they intended it for a good action, as you will soon understand."
I could not ask Francis any questions, as Bara-ourou continued playing with him, so turning to Ernest, I asked him what passed when the savages joined him?
"When you left me," said he, "I amused myself by searching for shells, plants, and zoophytes, with which the rocks abound, and I have added a good deal to my collection. I was at some distance from the pinnace, when I heard a confused sound of voices, and concluded that the savages were coming; in fact, ten or a dozen issued from the road you had entered, and I cannot comprehend how you missed meeting them. Fearing they would attempt to take possession of my pinnace, I returned speedily, and seized a loaded musket, though I determined to use it only to defend my own life, or the pinnace. I stood on the deck in an attitude as bold and imposing as I could command; but I did not succeed in intimidating them. They leaped, one after the other, on deck, and surrounded me, uttering loud cries. I could not discover whether they were cries of joy or of fury; but I showed no fear, and addressed them in a friendly tone, in some words from Capt. Cook's vocabulary; but they did not seem to comprehend me, neither could I understand any of theirs except ecroue (father), which they frequently repeated, and tara-tauo (woman). One of them had Fritz's gun, from which I concluded they were of the party that had carried off Jack. I took it, and showing him mine, endeavoured to make him understand that it also belonged to me. He thought I wished to exchange, and readily offered to return it, and take mine. This would not have suited me; Fritz's gun was discharged, and I could not let them have mine loaded. To prevent accident, surrounded as I was, I decided to give them a fright, and seeing a bird flying above us, I took aim so correctly, that my shot brought down the bird, a blue pigeon. They were for a moment stupified with terror; then immediately all left the pinnace, except Parabery; he seemed to be pleased with me, often pointing to the sky, saying mete, which means good, I believe. His comrades were examining the dead bird. Some touched their own shoulders, to try if they were wounded as well as the bird and Jack had been, which convinced me they had carried him off. I tried to make Parabery understand my suspicion, and I think I succeeded, for he made me an affirmative sign, pointing to the interior of the island, and touching his shoulder with an air of pity. I took several things from the chest, and gave them to him, making signs that he should show them to the others, and induce them to return to me. He comprehended me very well, and complied with my wishes. I was soon surrounded by the whole party, begging of me. I was busy distributing beads, mirrors, and small knives when you came, and we are now excellent friends. Two or three of them returned to the wood, and brought me cocoa-nuts and bananas. But we must be careful to hide our guns, of which they have a holy horror. And now, dear father, I think we ought not to call these people savages. They have the simplicity of childhood; a trifle irritates them, a trifle appeases them; they are grateful and affectionate. I find them neither cruel nor barbarous. They have done me no harm, when they might easily have killed me, thrown me into the sea, or carried me away."
"We must not," said I, "judge of all savage people by these, who have had the benefit of a virtuous teacher. Mr. Willis has already cast into their hearts the seeds of that divine religion, which commands us to do unto others as we would they should do unto us, and to pardon and love our enemies."
While we were discoursing, we arrived at a spot where the canoes had already landed; we were about to do the same, but the king did not seem inclined to quit the pinnace, but continued speaking to the missionary. I was still fearful that he wished to keep Francis, to whom he seemed to be more and more attached, holding him constantly on his knee; but at last, to my great joy, he placed him in my arms.
"He keeps his word with you," said Mr. Willis. "You may carry him to his mother; but, in return, he wishes you to permit him to go in your pinnace to his abode on the other side of the strait, that he may show it to the women, and he promises to bring it back; perhaps there would be danger in refusing him."
I agreed with him; but still there was a difficulty in granting this request. If he chose to keep it, how should we return? Besides, it contained our only barrel of powder, and all our articles of traffic, and how could we expect it would escape pillage?
Mr. Willis confessed he had not yet been able to cure their fondness for theft, and suggested, as the only means of security, that I should accompany the king, and bring the pinnace back, which was then to be committed to the charge of Parabery, for whose honesty he would be responsible.
Here was another delay; the day was so far advanced, that I might not, perhaps, be able to return before night. Besides, though my wife did not know we were so near her, she knew they had carried away Francis, and she would certainly be very uneasy about him. Bara-ourou looked very impatient, and as it was necessary to answer him, I decided at once; I resigned Francis to the missionary, entreating him to take him to his mother, to prepare her for our approach, and to relate the cause of our delay. I told my sons, it was my desire they should accompany me. Fritz agreed rather indignantly, and Ernest with calmness. Mr. Willis told the king, that in gratitude to him, and to do him honour, I and my sons wished to accompany him. He appeared much flattered at this, made my sons seat themselves on each side of him, endeavoured to pronounce their names, and finished by exchanging names as a token of friendship, calling Fritz, Bara; Ernest, Ourou; and himself, Fritz-Ernest. Mr. Willis and Francis left us; our hearts were sad to see them go where all our wishes centred; but the die was cast. The king gave the signal to depart; the canoes took the lead, and we followed. In an hour we saw the royal palace. It was a tolerably large hut, constructed of bamboos and palm-leaves, very neatly. Several women were seated before it, busily employed in making the short petticoats of reeds which they all wore. Their hair was very carefully braided in tufts on the crown of the head; none were good-looking, except two daughters of the king, about ten and twelve years old, who, though very dark, were graceful: these, no doubt, he intended for wives for my Francis. We disembarked about a hundred yards from the hut. The women came to meet us, carrying a branch of the mimosa in each hand; they then performed a singular kind of dance, entwining their arms and shaking their feet, but never moving from the spot; this they accompanied with a wild chant, which was anything but musical. The king seemed pleased with it; and, calling his wives and daughters, he showed them his tayo, Bara and Ourou, calling himself Fritz-Ernest; he then joined in the dance, dragging my sons with him, who managed it pretty well. As for me, he treated me with great respect, always calling me ecroue—father, and made me sit down on a large trunk of a tree before his house; which was, doubtless, his throne, for he placed me there with great ceremony, rubbing his royal nose against mine. After the dance was concluded, the women retired to the hut, and returned to offer us a collation, served up in the shells of cocoa-nuts. It was a sort of paste, composed, I believe, of different sorts of fruit, mixed up with a kind of flour and the milk of the cocoa-nut. This mixture was detestable to me; but I made up for it with some kernel of cocoa-nuts and the bread-fruit. Perceiving that I liked these, Bara-ourou ordered some of them to be gathered, and carried to the pinnace.
The hut was backed by a wood of palms and other trees, so that our provision was readily made. Still there was time for my sons to run to the pinnace, attended by Parabery, and bring from the chest some beads, mirrors, scissors, needles and pins, to distribute to the ladies. When they brought the fruit they had gathered, I made a sign to Bara-ourou to take them to see the pinnace; he called them, and they followed him timidly, and submitting to his wishes in everything, They carried the fruit two and two, in a sort of baskets, very skilfully woven in rushes, which appeared to have a European form. They had no furniture in their dwelling but mats, which were doubtless their beds, and some trunks of trees, serving for seats and tables. Several baskets were suspended to the bamboo which formed the walls, and also lances, slings, clubs, and other similar weapons; from which I concluded they were a nation of warriors. I did not observe much, however, for my thoughts were in the future, and I was very impatient for our departure. I hastened to the pinnace, and my sons distributed their gifts to the females, who did not dare to express their delight; but it was evident in their countenances. They immediately began to adorn themselves with their presents, and appeared to value the mirrors much more than their husbands had done. They soon understood their use, and employed them to arrange with taste the strings of beads round their necks, heads, and arms.
At last the signal was given for our departure; I rubbed my nose against that of the king. I added to my presents a packet of nails, and one of gilt buttons, which he seemed to covet. I went on board my pinnace, and, conducted by the good Parabery, we took our way to that part of the coast where the dear ones resided whom I so anxiously desired to see. Some of the savages accompanied us in their own canoe; we should have preferred having only our friend Parabery, but we were not the masters.
Favoured by the wind, we soon reached the shore we had formerly quitted, and found our excellent missionary waiting for us.
"Come," said he, "you are now going to receive your reward. Your wife and children impatiently expect you; they would have come to meet you, but your wife is still weak, and Jack suffering—your presence will soon cure them."
I was too much affected to answer. Fritz gave me his arm, as much to support me as to restrain himself from rushing on before. Ernest did the same with Mr. Willis; his mildness pleased the good man, who also saw his taste for study, and tried to encourage it. After half an hour's walk, the missionary told us we were now near our good friends. I saw no sign of a habitation, nothing but trees and rocks; at last I saw a light smoke among the trees, and at that moment Francis, who had been watching, ran to meet us.
"Mamma is expecting you," said he, showing us the way through a grove of shrubs, thick enough to hide entirely the entrance into a kind of grotto; we had to stoop to pass into it. It resembled much the entrance of the bear's den, which we found in the remote part of our island. A mat of rushes covered the opening, yet permitted the light to penetrate it. Francis removed the matting, calling—
"Mamma, here we are!"
A lady, apparently about twenty-even years of age, of mild and pleasing appearance, came forward to meet me. She a clothed in a rob mad of palm-leaves tied together, which reached from her throat to her feet, leaving her beautiful arms uncovered. Her light hair was braided and fastened up round her head.
"You are welcome," said she, taking my hand; "you will be my poor friend's best physician."
We entered, and saw my dear wife seated on a bed of moss and leaves; she wept abundantly, pointing out to me our dear boy by her side. A little nymph of eleven or twelve years old was endeavouring to raise him.
"Here are your papa and brothers, Jack," said she; "you are very happy in having what I have not: but your papa will be mine, and you shall be my brother."
Jack thanked her affectionately. Fritz and Ernest, kneeling beside the couch, embraced their mother. Fritz begged her to forgive him for hurting his brother; and then tenderly inquired of Jack after his wound. For me, I cannot describe my gratitude and agitation; I could scarce utter a word to my dear wife, who, on her part, sunk down quite overcome on her bed. The lady, who was, I understood, named Madame Hirtel, approached to assist her. When she recovered, she presented to me Madame Hirtel and her two daughters. The eldest, Sophia, was attending on Jack; Matilda, who was about ten or eleven years of age, was playing with Francis; while the good missionary, on his knees, thanked God for having re-united us.
"And for life," cried my dear wife. "My dear husband, I well knew you would set out to seek me; but how could I anticipate that you would ever succeed in finding me? We will now separate no more; this beloved friend has agreed to accompany us to the Happy Island, as I intend to call it, if I ever have the happiness to reach it again with all I love in the world. How graciously God permits us to derive blessings from our sorrows. See what my trial has produced me: a friend and two dear daughters, for henceforward we are only one family,"
We were mutually delighted with this arrangement, and entreated Mr. Willis to visit us often, and to come and live in the Happy Island when his mission was completed.
"I will consent," said he, "if you will come and assist me in my duties; for which purpose you and your sons must acquire the language of these islanders. We are much nearer your island than you think, for you took a very circuitous course, and Parabery, who knows it, declares it is only a day's voyage with a fair wind. And, moreover, he tells me, that he is so much delighted with you and your sons, that he cannot part with you, and wishes me to obtain your permission to accompany you, and remain with you. He will be exceedingly useful to you: will teach the language to you all, and will be a ready means of communication between us."
I gladly agreed to take Parabery with us as a friend; but it was no time yet to think of departing, as Mr. Willis wished to have Jack some days longer under his care; we therefore arranged that I and my two sons should become his guests, as his hut was but a short distance off. We had many things to hear; but, as my wife was yet too weak to relate her adventures, we resolved first to have the history of Madame Hirtel. Night coming on, the missionary lighted a gourd lamp, and, after a light collation of bread-fruit, Madame Hirtel began her story.
* * * * *
"My life," she began, "passed without any remarkable events, till the misfortune occurred which brought me to this island. I was married, when very young, to Mr. Hirtel, a merchant at Hamburg, an excellent man, whose loss I have deeply felt. I was very happy in this union, arranged by my parents, and sanctioned by reason. We had three children, a son and two daughters, in the first three years of our marriage; and M. Hirtel, seeing his family increase so rapidly, wished to increase his income. An advantageous establishment was offered him in the Canary Islands; he accepted it, and prevailed on me to settle there, with my family, for some years. My parents were dead, I had no tie to detain me in Europe. I was going to see new regions, those fortunate isles I had heard so much of, and I set out joyfully with my husband and children, little foreseeing the misfortunes before me.
"Our voyage was favourable; the children, like myself, were delighted with the novelties of it. I was then twenty-three years old; Sophia, seven; Matilda, six; and Alfred, our pretty, gentle boy, not yet five. Poor child! he was the darling and the plaything of all the crew."
She wept bitterly for a few moments, and then resumed her narration.
"He was as fair as your own Francis, and greatly resembled him. We proceeded first to Bourdeaux, where my husband had a correspondent, with whom he had large dealings; by his means my husband was enabled to raise large sums for his new undertaking. We carried with us, in fact, nearly his whole fortune. We re-embarked under the most favourable auspices—the weather delightful, and the wind fair; but we very soon had a change; we were met by a terrible storm and hurricane, such as the sailors had never witnessed. For a week our ship was tossed about by contrary winds, driven into unknown seas, lost all its rigging, and was at last so broken, that the water poured in on all sides. All was lost, apparently; but, in this extremity, my husband made a last attempt to save us. He tied my daughters and myself firmly to a plank, taking the charge of my boy himself, as he feared the additional weight would be too much for our raft. His intention was to tie himself to another plank, to fasten this to ours, and, taking his son in his arms, to give us a chance of being carried to the shore, which did not appear far off. Whilst he was occupied in placing us, he gave Alfred to the care of a sailor who was particularly attached to him. I heard the man say, 'Leave him with me, I will take care to save him.' On this, M. Hirtel insisted on his restoring him, and I cried out that he should be given to me. At that moment the ship, which was already fallen on its side, filled rapidly with water, plunged, and disappeared with all on board. The plank on which I and my daughters were fixed alone floated, and I saw nothing but death and desolation round me."
Madame Hirtel paused, almost suffocated by the remembrance of that awful moment.
"Poor woman!" said my wife, weeping, "it is five years since this misfortune. It was at the same time as our shipwreck, and was doubtless caused by the same storm. But how much more fortunate was I! I lost none that were dear to me, and we even had the vessel left for our use. But, my dear, unfortunate friend, by what miracle were you saved?"
"It was He who only can work miracles," said the missionary, "who cares for the widow and the orphan, and without whose word not a hair of the head can perish, who at that moment gave courage to the Christian mother."
"My strength," continued she, "was nearly exhausted, when, after being tossed about by the furious waves, I found myself thrown upon what I supposed to be a sand-bank with my two children. I envied the state of my husband and son. If I had not been a mother, I should have wished to have followed them; but my two girls lay senseless at my side, and I was anxious, as I perceived they still breathed, to recover them. At the moment M. Hirtel pushed the raft into the water, he threw upon it a box bound with iron, which I grasped mechanically, and still held, when we were left on shore. It was not locked, yet it was with some difficulty, in my confined position, that I succeeded in opening it. It contained a quantity of gold and bank-notes, which I looked upon with contempt, and regret. But there was something useful in the box. In the morocco portfolio which contained the bank-notes, there were the usual little instruments—a knife, scissors, pencils, stiletto, and also a small bottle of Eau de Cologne, which was particularly serviceable in restoring my children. I began by cutting the cords that tied us. I then rubbed my dear children with the Eau de Cologne, made them inhale it, and even swallow a little. The wind was still blowing, but the clouds began to break, and the sun appeared, which dried and warmed us. My poor children opened their eyes, and knew me, and I felt I was not utterly comfortless; but their first words were to ask for their father and brother. I could not tell them they were no more. I tried to deceive myself, to support my strength, by a feeble and delusive hope. M. Hirtel swam well, the sailor still better; and the last words I had heard still rung in my ears—'Do not be uneasy, I will save the child.' If I saw anything floating at a distance, my heart began to beat, and I ran towards the water; but I saw it was only wreck, which I could not even reach. Some pieces were, however, thrown on shore, and with these and our own raft I was enabled to make a sort of shelter, by resting them against a rock. My poor children, by crouching under this, sheltered themselves from the rain, or from the rays of the sun. I had the good fortune to preserve a large beaver hat, which I wore at the time, and this protected me; but these resources gave me little consolation; my children were complaining of hunger, and I felt only how much we were in want of. I had seen a shell-fish on the shore, resembling the oyster, or muscle. I collected some, and, opening them with my knife, we made a repast on them, which sufficed for the first day. Night came—my children offered up their evening prayer, and I earnestly besought the succour of the Almighty. I then lay down beside my babes on our raft, as conveniently as we could, and they soon slept. The fearful thoughts of the past, and dreadful anticipations of the future, prevented me from sleeping. My situation was indeed melancholy; but I felt, as a mother, I ought not to wish for death.
"As soon as day broke, I went close to the shore, to seek some shell-fish for our breakfast. In crossing the sand, I nearly plunged my foot into a hole, and fancied I heard a crash. I stooped, and putting my hand into the opening, found it was full of eggs; I had broken two or three, which I tasted, and thought very good. From the colour, form, and taste, I knew them to be turtle's eggs; there were at least sixty, so I had no more care about food. I carried away in my apron as many as I could preserve from the rays of the sun: this I endeavoured to effect by burying them in the sand, and covering them with one end of our plank, and succeeded very well. Besides these, there were as many to be found on the shore as we required; I have sometimes found as many as ninety together. These were our sole support while we remained there: my children liked them very much. I forgot to add, that I was fortunate enough to discover a stream of fresh water, running into the sea; it was the same which runs past this house, and which conducted me here. The first day we suffered greatly from thirst, but on the second we met with the stream which saved us. I will not tire you by relating day by day our sad life; every one was the same, and took away by degrees every hope from me. As long as I dared to indulge any, I could not bear to leave the shore; but at last it became insupportable to me. I was worn out with gazing continually on that boundless horizon, and that moving crystal which had swallowed up my hopes. I pined for the verdure and shade of trees. Although I had contrived to make for my daughters little hats of a marine rush, they suffered much from the extreme heat,—the burning rays of a tropical sun. I decided at last to abandon that sandy shore; to penetrate, at all risks, into the country, in order to seek a shady and cooler abode, and to escape from the view of that sea which was so painful to me. I resolved not to quit the stream which was so precious to us, for, not having any vessel to contain water, I could not carry it with us. Sophia, who is naturally quick, formed, from a large leaf, a sort of goblet, which served us to drink from; and I filled my pockets with turtles' eggs, as provision for a few days. I then set off with my two children, after praying the God of all mercy to watch over us; and, taking leave of the vast tomb which held my husband and my son, I never lost sight of the stream; if any obstacle obliged me to turn a little way from it, I soon recovered my path. My eldest daughter, who was very strong and robust, followed me stoutly, as I took care not to walk too far without resting; but I was often compelled to carry my little Matilda on my shoulders. Both were delighted with the shade of the woods, and were so amused with the delightful birds that inhabited them, and a pretty little sportive green monkey, that they became as playful as ever. They sang and prattled; but often asked me if papa and Alfred would not soon return to see these pretty creatures, and if we were going to seek them. These words rent my heart, and I thought it best then to tell them they would meet no more on earth, and that they were both gone to heaven, to that good God to whom they prayed morning and evening. Sophia was very thoughtful, and the tears ran down her cheeks: 'I will pray to God more than ever,' said she, 'that he may make them happy, and send them back to us,' 'Mamma,' said Matilda, 'have we left the sea to go to heaven? Shall we soon be there? And shall we see beautiful birds like these?' We walked on very slowly, making frequent rests, till night drew on, and it was necessary to find a place for repose. I fixed on a sort of thick grove, which I could only enter by stooping; it was formed of one tree, whose branches, reaching the ground, take root there, and soon produce other stems, which follow the same course, and become, in time, an almost impenetrable thicket. Here I found a place for us to lie down, which appeared sheltered from wild beasts or savages, whom I equally dreaded. We had still some eggs, which we ate; but I saw with fear that the time approached when we must have more food, which I knew not where to find. I saw, indeed, some fruits on the trees, but I did not know them, and feared to give them to my children, who wished to have them. I saw also cocoa-nuts, but quite out of my reach; and even if I could have got them, I did not know how to open them. The tree under whose branches we had found protection was, I conjectured, an American fig-tree; it bore a quantity of fruit, very small and red, and like the European fig. I ventured to taste them, and found them inferior to ours,—insipid and soft,—but, I thought, quite harmless. I remarked that the little green monkeys ate them greedily, so I had no more fear, and allowed my children to regale themselves. I was much more afraid of wild beasts during the night; however, I had seen nothing worse than some little quadrupeds resembling the rabbit or squirrel, which came in numbers to shelter themselves during the night under our tree. The children wished to catch one, but I could not undertake to increase my charge. We had a quiet night, and were early awaked by the songs of the birds. How delighted I was to have escaped the noise of the waves, and to feel the freshness of the woods, and the perfume of the flowers, with which my children made garlands, to decorate my head and their own! These ornaments, during this time of mourning and bereavement, affected me painfully, and I was weak enough to forbid them this innocent pleasure; I tore away my garland, and threw it into the rivulet. 'Gather flowers,' said I, 'but do not dress yourselves in them; they are no fitting ornaments for us; your father and Alfred cannot see them.' They were silent and sad, and threw their garlands into the water, as I had done.
"We followed the stream, and passed two more nights under the trees. We had the good fortune to find more figs; but they did not satisfy us, and our eggs were exhausted. In my distress I almost decided to return to the shore, where we might at least meet with that nourishment. As I sat by the stream, reflecting mournfully on our situation, the children, who had been throwing stones into the water, cried out, 'Look, mamma, what pretty fishes!' I saw, indeed, a quantity of small salmon-trout in the river; but how could I take them? I tried to seize them with my hands, but could not catch them; necessity, however, is the mother of invention. I cut a number of branches with my knife, and wove them together to make a kind of light hurdle, the breadth of the stream, which was very narrow just here. I made two of these; my daughters assisted me, and were soon very skilful. We then undressed ourselves, and took a bath, which refreshed us much. I placed one of my hurdles upright across the rivulet, and the second a little lower. The fishes who remained between attempted to pass, but the hurdles were woven too close. We watched for them attempting the other passage; many escaped us, but we captured sufficient for our dinner. We threw them out upon the grass, at a distance from the stream, so that they could not leap back. My daughters had taken more than I; but the sensible Sophia threw back those we did not require, to give them pleasure, she said, and Matilda did the same, to see them leap. We then removed our hurdles, dressed ourselves, and I began to consider how I should cook my fish; for I had no fire, and had never kindled one myself. However, I had often seen Mr. Hirtel, who was a smoker, light his pipe by means of the flint and steel; they were in the precious morocco case, together with tinder and matches. I tried to strike a light, and after some difficulty succeeded. I collected the fragments of the branches used for the hurdles, the children gathered some dry leaves, and I had soon a bright, lively fire, which I was delighted to see, notwithstanding the heat of the climate. I scraped the scales from the fish with my knife, washed them in the rivulet, and then placed them on the fire to broil; this was my apprenticeship in the art of cookery. I thought how useful it would be to give young ladies some knowledge of the useful arts; for who can foresee what they may need? Our European dinner delighted us as much as the bath and the fishing which had preceded it. I decided to fix our residence at the side of the rivulet, and beneath the fig-trees; my only objection being the fear of missing some passing vessel which might carry us back to Europe. But can you understand my feelings, when I confess to you that, although overcome by sorrow and desolation, having lost husband, son, and fortune, knowing that in order to support myself and bring up my children I must depend upon my friends, and to attain this having to hazard again the dangers of the sea, the very thought of which made me shudder, I should prefer to remain where Providence had brought me, and live calmly without obligation to any one? I might certainly have some difficulty in procuring the means of supporting a life which was dear to me for the sake of my children; but even this was an employment and an amusement. My children would early learn to bear privations, to content themselves with a simple and frugal life, and to labour for their own support. I might teach them all that I knew would be useful to them in future, and above all, impress upon their young minds the great truths of our holy religion. By bringing this constantly before their unsophisticated understanding, I might hope they would draw from it the necessary virtues of resignation and contentment. I was only twenty-three years of age, and might hope, by God's mercy, to be spared to them some time, and in the course of years who knew what might happen? Besides we were not so far from the sea but that I might visit it sometimes, if it were only to seek for turtles' eggs. I remained then under our fig-tree at night, and by day on the borders of the stream."
"It was under a fig-tree, also," said my wife, "that I have spent four happy years of my life. Unknown to each other, our fate has been similar; but henceforward I hope we shall not be separated."
Madame Hirtel embraced her kind friend, and observing that the evening was advanced, and that my wife, after such agitation, needed repose, we agreed to defer till next day the conclusion of the interesting narrative. My elder sons and myself followed the missionary to his hut, which resembled the king's palace, though it was smaller; it was constructed of bamboos, bound together, and the intervals filled with moss and clay; it was covered in the same way, and was tolerably solid. A mat in one corner, without any covering, formed his bed; but he brought out a bear's skin, which he used in winter, and which he now spread on the ground for us. I had observed a similar one in the grotto, and he told us we should hear the history of these skins next day, in the continuation of the story of Emily, or Mimi, as she was affectionately called by all. We retired to our couch, after a prayer from Mr. Willis; and for the first time since my dear wife was taken from me, I slept in peace.
* * * * *
We went to the grotto early in the morning, and found our two invalids much improved: my wife had slept better, and Mr. Willis found Jack's wound going on well. Madame Mimi told her daughters to prepare breakfast: they went out and soon returned, with a native woman and a boy of four or five years old, carrying newly-made rush baskets filled with all sorts of fruit: figs, guavas, strawberries, cocoa-nuts, and the bread-fruit.
"I must introduce you," said Emily, "to the rest of my family: this is Canda, the wife of your friend Parabery, and this is their son, Minou-minou, whom I regard as my own. Your Elizabeth is already attached to them, and bespeaks your friendship for them. They will follow us to the Happy Island."
"Oh, if you knew," said Francis, "what a well-behaved boy Minou is! He can climb trees, run, and leap, though he is less than I am. He must be my friend."
"And Canda," said Elizabeth, "shall be our assistant and friend."
She gave her hand to Canda, I did the same, and caressed the boy, who seemed delighted with me, and, to my great surprise, spoke to me in very good German—the mother, too, knew several words of the language. They busied themselves with our breakfast: opened the cocoa-nuts, and poured the milk into the shells, after separating the kernel; they arranged the fruits on the trunk of a tree, which served for a table, and did great credit to the talent of their instructress.
"I should have liked to have offered you coffee," said Madame Hirtel, "which grows in this island, but having no utensils for roasting, grinding, or preparing it, it has been useless to me, and I have not even gathered it."
"Do you think, my dear, that it would grow in our island?" said my wife to me, in some anxiety.
I then recollected, for the first time, how fond my wife was of coffee, which, in Europe, had always been her favourite breakfast. There would certainly be in the ship some bags, which I might have brought away; but I had never thought of it, and my unselfish wife, not seeing it, had never named it, except once wishing we had some to plant in the garden. Now that there was a probability of obtaining it, she confessed that coffee and bread were the only luxuries she regretted. I promised to try and cultivate it in our island; foreseeing, however, that it would probably not be of the best quality, I told her she must not expect Mocha; but her long privation from this delicious beverage had made her less fastidious, and she assured me it would be a treat to her. After breakfast, we begged Madame Hirtel to resume her interesting narrative. She continued:
"After the reflections on my situation, which I told you of last night, I determined only to return to the sea-shore, when our food failed us in the woods; but I acquired other means of procuring it. Encouraged by the success of my fishing, I made a sort of net from the filaments of the bark of a tree and a plant resembling hemp. With these I succeeded in catching some birds: one, resembling our thrush, was very fat, and of delicious flavour. I had the greatest difficulty in overcoming my repugnance to taking away their life; nothing but the obligation of preserving our own could have reconciled me to it. My children plucked them; I then spitted them on a slender branch and roasted them before the fire. I also found some nests of eggs, which I concluded were those of the wild ducks which frequented our stream. I made myself acquainted with all the fruits which the monkeys and parroquets eat, and which were not out of my reach. I found a sort of acorn which had the flavour of a nut. The children also discovered plenty of large strawberries, a delicious repast; and I found a quantity of honeycomb in the hollow of a tree, which I obtained by stupifying the bees with a smoking brand.
"I took care to mark down every day on the blank leaves of my pocket-book. I had now marked thirty days of my wandering life on the border of the river, for I never strayed beyond the sound of its waters. Still I kept continually advancing towards the interior of the island. I had yet met with nothing alarming, and the weather had been most favourable; but we were not long to enjoy this comfort. The rainy season came on: and one night, to my great distress, I heard it descend in torrents. We were no longer under our fig-tree, which would have sheltered us for a considerable time. The tree under which we now were had tempted me by having several cavities between the roots, filled with soft moss, which formed natural couches, but the foliage was very thin, and we were soon drenched completely. I crept near my poor children to protect them a little, but in vain; our little bed was soon filled with water, and we were compelled to leave it. Our clothes were so heavy with the rain that we could scarcely stand; and the night was so dark that we could see no road, and ran the risk of falling, or striking against some tree, if we moved. My children wept, and I trembled for their health, and for my own, which was so necessary to them. This was one of the most terrible nights of my pilgrimage. My children and I knelt down, and I prayed to our Heavenly Father for strength to bear this trial, if it was his will to continue it. I felt consolation and strength from my prayers, and rose with courage and confidence; and though the rain continued unabated, I waited with resignation the pleasure of the Almighty. I reconciled my children to our situation; and Sophia told me she had asked her father, who was near the gracious God, to entreat Him to send no more rain, but let the sun come back. I assured them God would not forget them; they began to be accustomed to the rain, only Sophia begged they might take off their clothes, and then it would be like a bath in the brook. I consented to this, thinking they would be less liable to suffer than by wearing their wet garments.
"The day began to break, and I determined to walk on without stopping, in order to warm ourselves by the motion; and to try to find some cave, some hollow tree, or some tree with thick foliage, to shelter us the next night.
"I undressed the children, and made a bundle of their clothes, which I would have carried myself, but I found they would not be too heavy for them, and I judged it best to accustom them early to the difficulties, fatigue, and labour, which would be their lot; and to attend entirely on themselves; I, therefore, divided the clothes into two unequal bundles, proportioned to their strength, and having made a knot in each, I passed a slender branch through it, and showed them how to carry it on their shoulders.
"When I saw them walking before me in this savage fashion, with their little white bodies exposed to the storm, I could not refrain from tears. I blamed myself for condemning them to such an existence, and thought of returning to the shore, where some vessel might rescue us; but we were now too far off to set about it. I continued to proceed with much more difficulty than my children, who had nothing on but their shoes and large hats. I carried the valuable box, in which I had placed the remains of our last night's supper, an act of necessary prudence, as there was neither fishing nor hunting now.
"As the day advanced, the rain diminished, and even the sun appeared above the horizon.
"'Look, my darlings,' said I, 'God has heard us, and sent his sun to warm and cheer us. Let us thank him,'
"'Papa has begged it of him!' said Matilda. 'Oh! mamma, let us pray him to send Alfred back!'
"My poor little girl bitterly regretted the loss of her brother. Even now she can scarcely hear his name without tears. When the savages brought Francis to us, she at first took him for her brother. 'Oh, how you have grown in heaven!' cried she; and, after she discovered he was not her brother, she often said to him, 'How I wish your name was Alfred!'
"Forgive me for dwelling so long on the details of my wretched journey, which was not without its comforts, in the pleasure I took in the development of my children's minds, and in forming plans for their future education. Though anything relating to science, or the usual accomplishments, would be useless to them, I did not wish to bring them up like young savages; I hoped to be able to communicate much useful knowledge to them, and to give them juster ideas of this world and that to come.
"As soon as the sun had dried them, I made them put on their dresses, and we continued our walk by the brook, till we arrived at the grove which is before this rock. I removed the branches to pass through it, and saw beyond them the entrance to this grotto. It was very low and narrow; but I could not help uttering a cry of joy, for this was the only sort of retreat that could securely shelter us. I was going to enter it without thought, not reflecting there might be in it some ferocious animal, when I was arrested by a plaintive cry, more like that of a child than a wild beast; I advanced with more caution, and tried to find out what sort of an inhabitant the cave contained. It was indeed a human being!—an infant, whose age I could not discover; but it seemed too young to walk, and was, besides, tied up in leaves and moss, enclosed in a piece of bark, which was much torn and rent. The poor infant uttered the most piteous cries, and I did not hesitate a moment to enter the cave, and to take the innocent little creature in my arms; it ceased its cries as soon as it felt the warmth of my cheek; but it was evidently in want of food, and I had nothing to give it but some figs, of which I pressed the juice into its mouth; this seemed to satisfy it, and, rocking it in my arms, it soon went to sleep. I had then time to examine it, and to look round the cave. From the size and form of the face, I concluded it might be older than I had first thought; and I recollected to have read that the savages carried their children swaddled up in this way, even till they could walk. The complexion of the child was a pale olive, which I have since discovered is the natural complexion of the natives, before the exposure to the heat of the sun gives them the bronze hue you have seen; the features were good, except that the lips were thicker and the mouth larger than those of the Europeans. My two girls were charmed with it, and caressed it with great joy. I left them to rock it gently in its cradle of bark, till I went round this cave, which I intended for my palace, and which I have never quitted. You see it—the form is not changed; but, since Heaven has sent me a friend," looking at the missionary, "it is adorned with furniture and utensils which have completed my comforts. But to return.
"The grotto was spacious, and irregular in form. In a hollow I found, with surprise, a sort of bed, carefully arranged with moss, dry leaves, and small twigs. I was alarmed. Was this grotto inhabited by men or by wild beasts? In either case, it was dangerous to remain here. I encouraged a hope, however, that, from the infant being here, the mother must be the inhabitant, and that, on her return, finding me nursing her child, she might be induced to share her asylum with us. I could not, however, reconcile this hope with the circumstance of the child being abandoned in this open cave.
"As I was considering whether I ought to remain, or leave the cave, I heard strange cries at a distance, mingled with the screams of my children, who came running to me for protection, bringing with them the young savage, who fortunately was only half awaked, and soon went to sleep again, sucking a fig. I laid him gently on the bed of leaves, and told my daughters to remain near him in a dark corner; then, stepping cautiously, I ventured to look out to discover what was passing, without being seen. The noise approached nearer, to my great alarm, and I could perceive, through the trees, a crowd of men armed with long pointed lances, clubs, and stones; they appeared furious, and the idea that they might enter the cave froze me with terror. I had an idea of taking the little native babe, and holding it in my arms, as my best shield; but this time my fears were groundless. The whole troop passed outside the wood, without even looking on the same side as the grotto; they appeared to follow some traces they were looking out for on the ground. I heard their shouts for some time, but they died away, and I recovered from my fears. Still, the dread of meeting them overcame even hunger. I had nothing left in my box but some figs, which I kept for the infant, who was satisfied with them, and I told my daughters we must go to bed without supper. The sleeping infant amused them so much, that they readily consented to give up the figs. He awoke smiling, and they gave him the figs to suck. In the mean time, I prepared to release him from his bondage to make him more comfortable; and I then saw that the outer covering of bark was torn by the teeth of some animal, and even the skin of the child slightly grazed. I ventured to carry him to the brook, into which I plunged him two or three times, which seemed to give him great pleasure.
"I ran back to the cave, which is, you see, not more than twenty yards distant, and found Sophia and Matilda very much delighted at a treasure they had found under the dry leaves in a corner. This was a great quantity of fruits of various kinds, roots of some unknown plant, and a good supply of beautiful honey, on which the little gluttons were already feasting. They came directly to give some on their fingers to their little doll, as they called the babe. This discovery made me very thoughtful. Was it possible that we were in a bear's den! I had read that they sometimes carried off infants and that they were very fond of fruits and of honey, of which they generally had a hoard. I remarked on the earth, and especially at the entrance, where the rain had made it soft, the impression of large paws which left me no doubt. The animal would certainly return to his den, and we were in the greatest danger; but where could we go? The sky, dark with clouds, threatened a return of the storm; and the troop of savages might still be wandering about the island. I had not courage, just as night set in, to depart with my children; nor could I leave the poor infant, who was now sleeping peacefully, after his honey and figs. His two nurses soon followed his example; but for me there was no rest; the noise of the wind among the trees, and of the rain pattering on the leaves,—the murmur of the brook,—the light bounds of the kangaroo,—all made my heart beat with fear and terror; I fancied it was the bear returning to devour us. I had cut and broken some branches to place before the entrance; but these were but a weak defence against a furious and probably famished animal; and if he even did no other harm to my children, I was sure their terror at the sight of him would kill them. I paced backwards and forwards, from the entrance to the bed, in the darkness, envying the dear sleepers their calm and fearless rest; the dark-skinned baby slept soundly, nestled warmly between my daughters, till day broke at last, without anything terrible occurring. Then my little people awoke, and cried out with hunger. We ate of the fruits and honey brought us by our unknown friend, feeding, also, our little charge, to whom my daughters gave the pet name of Minou, which he still keeps.
"I busied myself with his toilette. There was no need to go to the brook for a bath, for the rain came down incessantly. I then folded Matilda's apron round him, which pleased her greatly. The rain ceased for a while, and they set off for flowers to amuse him. They were scarcely gone when I heard the cries of the savages again; but this time they seemed rather shouts of joy and triumph; they sung and chaunted a sort of chorus; but were still at such distance that I had time to recal my daughters, and withdrew them out of sight. I took Minou with me as a mediator, and placed myself in an angle of the rock, where I could see without being seen. They passed, as before, beyond the wood, armed, and two of them bore at the end of their lances something very large and dark, which I could not distinguish, but thought might be some wild beast they had destroyed; afterwards, I flattered myself it might be the bear, whose return I so greatly dreaded. Following the train was a woman, naked, with her hair hanging down, uttering loud cries, and tearing her face and breast. No one attempted to soothe her; but occasionally one of the bearers of the black mass pointed it out to her; she then became furious, threw herself on it, and tried to tear it with her teeth and nails. I was quite overcome with horror and pity.
"That woman, my friends, was Canda, whom you have just seen. Canda, usually so mild and gentle, was rendered frantic by the loss of her child,—her first-born,—whom she believed was devoured by the bear. Parabery, her husband, tried to console her, but was himself in great sorrow. These bears, as I have since learnt, for there were two of them, had come from a mountain, at the foot of which was Parabery's hut. They had only this son, and Canda, according to the custom of the country, tying it in a piece of bark, carried it on her back. One morning, after having bathed him in the stream, which has its source near their abode, she placed him on the turf a few moments, while she was employed in some household duties. She soon heard his cries, mingled with a sort of growl; she ran to the spot, and saw a frightful beast holding her child in its mouth, and running off with it. It was then more than twenty yards off; her cries brought her husband; she pointed to the horrible animal, and darted after it, determined to save her child or perish. Her husband only stopped to seize his javelin, and followed her, but did not overtake her till fatigue and the heat of the day made her fall, almost senseless, on the ground. Stopping for a moment to raise and encourage her, he lost sight of the bear, and could not recover the track. All the night,—that dreadful night of rain, when I was weeping and murmuring, thinking myself the most unfortunate of women,—was Canda exposed, without clothes, to that frightful storm, hopelessly seeking her only child, and not even feeling that it did rain. Parabery, not less afflicted, but more composed, went to relate his misfortune to his neighbours, who, arming themselves, set out, with Parabery at their head, following the track of the animal over the wet ground. They discovered it next morning with another bear, so busy devouring a swarm of bees and their honey, that the savages were able to draw near them. Parabery pierced one with his spear, and despatched him with a blow of his club; one of his comrades killed the other, and Parabery tasted the truly savage joy of vengeance. But the poor mother could not be so comforted. After wandering through the rain all night, she reached the party as they were skinning the bear and dividing the flesh. Parabery only asked and obtained the skins, to recompense him for the loss of his son. They returned home in triumph, Canda following them with bitter cries, tearing her face with a shark's tooth. From observation of these circumstances, I concluded that Canda must be the mother of my little protege. My heart sympathized with her, and I even made some steps forward to restore him; but the sight of the savage crowd, with their tattooed bodies, filled me with such terror, that I retreated involuntarily to the grotto, where my children, alarmed by the noise, were hiding themselves.
"'Why do the people cry out so?' said Sophia, 'they frighten me. Don't let them come here, mamma, or they may carry Minou away,'
"'Certainly,' said I; 'and I should have no right to forbid them. I think they are his friends who are distressed at losing him; I wish I could restore him to them.'
"'Oh, no! mamma,' said Matilda. 'Pray don't give him back; we like him so much, and we will be his little mammas. He will be far happier with us than with those ugly savages, who tied him up like a parcel in the bark, with the moss which pricked him so much; he is much more comfortable in my apron. How he moves his legs as if he wanted to walk; Sophia and I will teach him. Do let us keep him, mimi.'
"Even if I had decided, it was now too late; the savages had passed on to some distance. I, however, explained to Matilda the beauty of the divine precept, 'Do unto others as you would they should do unto you,' asking her how she would have liked to be detained by the savages, and what, then, would be the suffering of her own mamma? She was thoughtful for a moment, and then, embracing Minou and me, 'You are right, mamma mimi; but if she loves her baby, let her come and seek him,' said the little rebel. In the mean time, Sophia had been out, and returned with some brilliant flowers, fresh after the rain, with which they made garlands to dress up the infant. 'Oh! if his mamma saw him, she would be glad to let us have him,' said Matilda. She then explained to her sister who this mamma was, and Sophia shed tears to think of the sorrow of the poor mother. 'But how do you know, mamma, that she was Minou's mother?' demanded she. This question proved that her judgment was forming, and I took the opportunity of teaching her what information one may derive from observation. She understood me very well; and when I told her on what I had founded my idea, she trembled to think he had been brought here by a bear, and asked me if the bear would have eaten him.
"'I cannot answer for it,' said I, 'if it had been pressed by hunger; they tell us, that the bear does no harm to man unless attacked, and is especially fond of children. But, notwithstanding this, I should not like to trust it. At all events, the poor babe would have died, if we had not found him.'
"'Poor babe, he shall not die of hunger now,' said she. 'Let us give him some figs; but these are not good; we must go and seek some more.'
"The rain having ceased, I consented, passing through the grove, where there are no fig-trees, to search farther. My daughters had fed the child with honey and water; it appeared quite reconciled to us, and had ceased to cry. I judged it might be about eight months old. We soon found some trees covered with the violet-coloured figs. Whilst I gathered them, the girls made a pretty bed of moss, adorned with flowers, for their little favourite, and fed him with the fresh fruit, which he enjoyed much; and with their fair hair and rosy faces, and the little negro between them, with his arch, dark countenance, they formed a charming picture, which affected me greatly."
* * * * *
"We had been more than an hour under the tree, when I heard cries again; but this time I was not alarmed, for I distinguished the voice of the disconsolate mother, and I knew that I could comfort her. Her grief brought her back to the spot where she thought her child had been devoured; she wished, as she afterwards told us, when we could understand her, to search for some remains of him,—his hair, his bones, or even a piece of the bark that bound him; and here he was, full of life and health. She advanced slowly, sobbing, and her eyes turned to the ground. She was so absorbed in her search, that she did not see us when we were but twenty yards from her. Suddenly, Sophia darted like an arrow to her, took her hand, and said, 'Come, Minou is here.'
"Canda neither knew what she saw nor what she heard; she took my daughter for something supernatural, and made no resistance, but followed her to the fig-tree. Even then she did not recognize the little creature, released from his bonds, half-clothed, covered with flowers, and surrounded by three divinities, for she took us for such, and wished to prostrate herself before us. She was still more convinced of it when I took up her son, and placed him in her arms: she recognized him, and the poor little infant held out his arms to her. I can never express to you the transport of the mother; she screamed, clasped her child till he was half-suffocated, rapidly repeating words which we could not understand, wept, laughed, and was in a delirium of delight that terrified Minou. He began to cry, and held out his arms to Sophia, who, as well as Matilda, was weeping at the sight. Canda looked at them with astonishment; she soothed the child, and put him to her breast, which he rejected at first, but finally seized it, and his mother was happy. I took the opportunity to try and make her comprehend, that the great animal had brought him here; that we had found him, and taken care of him; and I made signs for her to follow me, which she did without hesitation, till we reached the grotto, when, without entering, she fled away with her infant with such rapidity, that it was impossible to overtake her, and was soon out of sight.
"I had some difficulty in consoling my daughters for the loss of Minou; they thought they should see him no more, and that his mother was very ungrateful to carry him off, without even letting them take leave of him. They were still weeping and complaining, when we saw the objects of our anxiety approaching; but Canda was now accompanied by a man, who was carrying the child. They entered the grotto, and prostrated themselves before us. You know Parabery; his countenance pleased and tranquillized us. As a relation of the king, he was distinguished by wearing a short tunic of leaves; his body was tattooed and stained with various colours; but not his face, which expressed kindness and gratitude, united with great intelligence. He comprehended most of my signs. I did not succeed so well in understanding him; but saw he meant kindly. In the mean time my daughters had a more intelligible conversation with Canda and Minou; they half-devoured the latter with caresses, fed him with figs and honey, and amused him so much, that he would scarcely leave them. Canda was not jealous of this preference, but seemed delighted with it; she, in her turn, caressed my daughters, admired their glossy hair and fair skin, and pointed them out to her husband; she repeated Minou after them, but always added another Minou, and appeared to think this name beautiful. After some words with Parabery, she placed Minou-Minou in Sophia's arms, and they both departed, making signs that they would return; but we did not see them for some time after. Sophia and Matilda had their full enjoyment of their favourite; they wished to teach him to walk and to speak, and they assured me he was making great progress. They were beginning to hope his parents had left him entirely, when they came in sight, Parabery bending under the weight of two bear-skins, and a beautiful piece of matting to close the entrance to my grotto; Canda carried a basket on her head filled with fine fruit; the cocoa, the bread-fruit (which they call rima), pine-apples, figs, and, finally, a piece of bear's flesh, roasted at the fire, which I did not like; but I enjoyed the fruits and the milk of the cocoa-nut, of which Minou-Minou had a good share. They spread the bear-skins in the midst of the grotto; Parabery, Canda, and the infant, between them, took possession of one without ceremony, and motioned to us to make our bed of the other. But the bears having only been killed the evening before, these skins had an intolerable smell. I made them comprehend this, and Parabery immediately carried them off and placed them in the brook, secured by stones. He brought us in exchange a heap of moss and leaves, on which we slept very well.
"From this moment we became one family. Canda remained with us, and repaid to my daughters all the care and affection they bestowed on Minou-Minou. There never was a child had more indulgence; but he deserved it, for his quickness and docility. At the end of a few months he began to lisp a few words of German, as well as his mother, of whom I was the teacher, and who made rapid progress. Parabery was very little with us, but he undertook to be our purveyor, and furnished us abundantly with everything necessary for our subsistence. Canda taught my daughter to make beautiful baskets,—some, of a flat form, served for our plates and dishes. Parabery made us knives from sharp stones. My daughters, in return, taught Canda to sew. At the time of our shipwreck we had, each of us, in her pocket, a morocco housewife, with a store of needles and thread. By means of these we had mended our linen, and we now made dresses of palm-leaves. The bear-skins, washed in the stream, and thoroughly dried in the burning sun, have been very useful to us in the cold and rainy season. Now that we had guides, we made, in the fine season, excursions to different parts of the island. Minou-Minou soon learned to walk, and being strong, like all these islanders, would always accompany us. We went one day to the sea-shore. I shuddered at the sight, and Canda, who knew that my husband and child had perished in the sea, wept with me. We now spoke each other's language well enough to converse. She told me that a black friend (Emily bowed to Mr. Willis) had arrived in a neighbouring island, to announce to them that there was a Being, almighty and all-merciful, who lived in Heaven, and heard all they said. Her comprehension of this truth was very confused, and I endeavoured to make it more clear and positive.
"'I see very well,' said she, 'that you know him. Is it to Him that you speak every morning and evening, kneeling as we do before our king Bara-ourou?'
"'Yes, Canda,' said I, 'it is before Him who is the King of Kings, who gave us our life, who preserves it, and bestows on us all good, and who promises us still more when this life is past.'
"'Was it he who charged you to take care of Minou-Minou, and to restore him to me?' asked she.
"'Yes, Canda; all that you or I do that is good, is put into our hearts by Him.'
"I thus tried to prepare the simple mind of Canda for the great truths that Mr. Willis was to teach her."
"You left me little to do," said Mr. Willis. "I found Parabery and Canda prepared to believe, with sincere faith, the holy religion I came to teach—the God of the white people was the only one they adored. I knew Parabery, he had come to hunt seals in the island where I was established, and I was struck by his appearance. What was my astonishment to find, that when I spoke to him of the one true God, he was no stranger to the subject. He had even some ideas of a Saviour, and of future rewards and punishments.
"'It was the white lady,' said he, 'who taught me this; she teaches Canda and Minou-minou, whose life she saved, and whom she is bringing up to be good like herself.'
"I had a great desire," continued Mr. Willis, "to become acquainted with my powerful assistant in the great work of my mission. I told Parabery this, who offered to bring me here in his canoe; I came and found, in a miserable cave, or rather in a bear's den, all the virtues of mature age united to the charms of youth; a resigned and pious mother, bringing up her children, as women should be brought up, in simplicity, forbearance, and love of industry; teaching them, as the best knowledge, to love God with all their heart, and their neighbour as themselves. Under the inspection of their mother, they were educating the son of Parabery. This child, then four years and a half old, spoke German well, and knew his alphabet, which Madame Hirtel traced on the floor of the grotto; in this way she taught her daughters to read; they taught Minou-minou, who, in his turn, teaches his parents. Parabery often brings his friends to the grotto, and Madame Hirtel, having acquired the language, casts into their hearts the good seed, which I venture to hope will not be unfruitful.
"Finding these people in such a good state, and wishing to enjoy the society of a family, like myself, banished to a remote region, I decided to take up my abode in this island.
"Parabery soon built me a hut in the neighbourhood of the grotto; Madame Hirtel compelled me to take one of her bear-skins. I have by degrees formed my establishment, dividing with my worthy neighbour the few useful articles I brought from Europe, and we live a tranquil and happy life.
"And now comes the time that brought about our meeting. Some of our islanders, in a fishing expedition, were driven by the wind on your island. At the entrance of a large bay, they found a small canoe of bark, carefully moored to a tree. Either their innate propensity for theft, or the notion that it had no owner, prevailed over them, and they brought it away. I was informed of this, and was curious to see it; I recognized at once that it was made by Europeans: the careful finish, the neat form, the oars, rudder, mast, and triangular sail, all showed that it had not been made by savages. The seats of the rowers were made of planks, and were painted, and what further convinced me was, that I found in it a capital gun, loaded, and a horn of powder in a hole under one of the seats. I then made particular inquiries about the island from whence they had brought the canoe; and all their answers confirmed my idea that it must be inhabited by a European, from whom they had perhaps taken his only means of leaving it.
"Restless about this fancy, I tried to persuade them to return and discover if the island was inhabited. I could not prevail on them to restore the canoe; but, seeing me much agitated, they resolved secretly to procure me a great pleasure as they thought, by returning to the island and bringing away any one they could meet with, whether he would or not. Parabery, always the leader in perilous enterprises, and who was so attached to me, would not be left out in one which was to produce me such pleasure. They set out, and you know the result of their expedition. I leave it to your wife to tell you how she was brought away, and pass on to the time of their arrival. My people brought them to me in triumph, and were vexed that they had only found one woman and a child, whom I might give to the white lady. This I did promptly. Your wife was ill and distressed, and I carried her immediately to the grotto. There she found a companion who welcomed her with joy; Francis replaced her own lost Alfred, and the two good mothers were soon intimate friends. But, notwithstanding this solace, your Elizabeth was inconsolable at the separation from her husband and children, and terrified at the danger to which you would expose yourself in searching for her. We were even afraid she would lose her reason, when the king came to take away Francis. He had seen him on his arrival, and was much taken with his appearance; he came again to see him, and resolved to adopt him as his son. You know what passed on this subject; and now you are once more united to all those who are dear to you.
"Bless God, brother, who knows how to produce good from what we think evil, and acknowledge the wisdom of his ways. You must return all together to your island; I am too much interested in the happiness of Emily to wish to detain her; and if God permits me, when my missions are completed, I will come to end my days with you, and to bless your rising colony."
I suppress all our reflections on this interesting history, and our gratitude for the termination of our trials, and hasten to the recital, which, at my particular entreaty, my wife proceeded to give us.
* * * * *
"My story," she began, "will not be long. I might make it in two words,—you have lost me, and you have found me. I have every reason to thank Heaven for a circumstance, which has proved to me how dear I am to you, and has given me the happiness of gaining a friend and two dear daughters. Can one complain of an event which has produced such consequences, even though it was attended with some violence? But I ought to do the savages justice,—this violence was as gentle as it could be. I need only tell you Parabery was there, to convince you I was well treated, and it was solely the sorrow of being parted from you that affected my health. I shall be well now, and as soon as Jack can walk, I shall be ready to embark for our happy island. I will now tell you how I was brought away.
"When you and our three sons left, to make the tour of the island, I was very comfortable; you had told me you might return late, or probably not till next day, and when the evening passed away without seeing you, I was not uneasy. Francis was constantly with me; we went together to water the garden, and rested in the Grotto Ernestine; then I returned to the house, took my wheel, and placed myself in my favourite colonnade, where I should be the first to see your return. Francis, seeing me at work, asked if he might go as far as the bridge to meet you; to which I readily consented. He set out, and I was sitting, thinking of the pleasure I should have in seeing you again, and hearing you relate your voyage, when I saw Francis running, crying out, 'Mamma! mamma! there is a canoe on the sea; I know it is ours; it is full of men, perhaps savages.'
"'Silly little fellow!' said I, 'it is your father and brothers; if they are in the canoe, there can be no doubt of it. Your father told me he would bring it, and they would return by water; I had forgotten this when I let you go. Now you can go and meet them on the shore; give me your arm, and I will go too,' and we set off very joyfully to meet our captors. I soon, alas! saw my error; it was, indeed, our canoe, but, instead of my dear ones, there were in it six half-naked savages, with terrible countenances, who landed and surrounded us. My blood froze with fright, and if I had wished to flee, I was unable. I fell on the shore, nearly insensible; still, I heard the cries of my dear Francis, who clung to me, and held me with all his strength; at last my senses quite failed me, and I only recovered to find myself lying at the bottom of the canoe. My son, weeping over me, was trying to recover me, assisted by one of the savages, of less repulsive appearance than his companions, and who seemed the chief; this was Parabery. He made me swallow a few drops of a detestable fermented liquor, which, however, restored me. I felt, as I recovered, the extent of my disaster, and your grief, my dears, when you should find me missing. I should have been wholly disconsolate, but that Francis was left to me, and he was continually praying me to live for his sake. I received some comfort from a vague notion that as this was our canoe, the savages had already carried you off, and were taking us to you.
"I was confirmed in this hope, when I saw that the savages, instead of making to sea, continued to coast the island, till they came to the Great Bay. I had then no doubt but that we should meet with you; but this hope was soon destroyed. Two or three more of the savages were waiting there on the shore; they spoke to their friends in the canoe; and I understood from their gestures, that they were saying they could not find anybody there. I have since learnt from Canda, that part of them landed at the Great Bay, with instructions to search that side of the island for inhabitants, whilst the rest proceeded with the canoe to examine the other side, and had succeeded but too well. The night came on, and they were anxious to return, which, doubtless, prevented them pillaging our house. I believe, moreover, that none of them could have reached Tent House, defended by our strong palisade, and hidden by the rocks amidst which it is built; and the other party, finding us on the shore, would not penetrate further.
"When all had entered the canoe, they pushed off, by the light of the stars, into the open sea. I think I must have sunk under my sorrow, but for Francis, and, I must confess it, my dear dog Flora, who had never left me. Francis told me, that she had tried to defend me, and flew at the savages; but one of them took my apron, tore it, and tied it over her mouth like a muzzle, bound her legs, and then threw her into the canoe, where the poor creature lay at my feet, moaning piteously. She arrived with us in this island, but I have not seen her since; I have often inquired of Parabery, but he could not tell me what had become of her."
"But I know," said Fritz, "and have seen her. We brought Turk with us, and the savages had carried Flora to that desert part of the island, from whence Jack was carried off; so the two dogs met. When I had the misfortune to wound Jack, I quite forgot them; they were rambling off, in chase of kangaroos; we left them, and no doubt they are there still. But we must not abandon the poor beasts; if my father will permit me, I will go and seek them in Parabery's canoe."
As we were obliged to wait a few days for Jack's recovery, I consented, on condition that Parabery accompanied them, and the next day was fixed for the expedition. Ernest begged to be of the party, that he might see the beautiful trees and flowers they had described. I then requested the narration might be continued, which had been interrupted by this episode of the two dogs. Francis resumed it where his mother had left off.
"We had a favourable passage—the sea was calm, and the boat went so smoothly, that both mamma and I went to sleep. You must have come a much longer round than necessary, papa, as your voyage lasted three days, and we arrived here the day after our departure. Mamma was then awake, and wept constantly, believing she should never more see you or my brothers. Parabery seemed very sorry for her, and tried to console her; at last, he addressed to her two or three words of German, pointing to heaven. His words were very plain—Almighty God, good; and then black friend, and white lady; adding the words Canda, bear, and Minou-minou. We did not understand what he meant; but he seemed so pleased at speaking these words, that we could not but be pleased too; and to hear him name God in German gave us confidence, though we could, not comprehend where or how he had learnt the words. 'Perhaps,' said mamma, 'he has seen your papa and brothers,' I thought so too; still, it appeared strange that, in so short a time, he could acquire and remember these words. However it might be, mamma was delighted to have him near her, and taught him to pronounce the words father, mother, and son, which did not seem strange to him, and he soon knew them. She pointed to me and to herself, as she pronounced the words, and he readily comprehended them, and said to us, with bursts of laughter, showing his large ivory teeth, Canda, mother; Minou-minou, son; Parabery, father; white lady, mother. Mamma thought he referred to her, but it was to Madame Emily. He tried to pronounce this name and two others, but could not succeed; at last, he said, girls, girls, and almost convinced us he must know some Europeans, which was a great comfort to us.
"When I saw mamma more composed, I took out my flageolet to amuse her, and played the air to Ernest's verses. This made her weep again very much, and she begged me to desist; the savages, however, wished me to continue, and I did not know whom to obey. I changed the air, playing the merriest I knew. They were in ecstasies; they took me in their arms one after the other, saying, Bara-ourou, Bara-ourou. I repeated the word after them, and they were still more delighted. But mamma was so uneasy to see me in their arms, that I broke from them, and returned to her.
"At last we landed. They carried mamma, who was too weak to walk. About a hundred yards from the shore, we saw a large building of wood and reeds, before which there was a crowd of savages. One who was very tall came to receive us. He was dressed in a short tunic, much ornamented, and wore a necklace of pierced shells. He was a little disfigured by a white bone passed through his nostrils. But you saw him, papa, when he wanted to adopt me; it was Bara-ourou, the king of the island. I was presented to him, and he was pleased with me, touched the end of my nose with his, and admired my hair very much. My conductors ordered me to play on the flageolet. I played some lively German airs, which made them dance and leap, till the king fell down with fatigue, and made a sign for me to desist. He then spoke for some time to the savages, who stood in a circle round him. He looked at mamma, who was seated in a corner, near her protector Parabery. He called the latter, who obliged mamma to rise, and presented her to the king. Bara-ourou looked only at the red and yellow India handkerchief which she wore on her head; he took it off, very unceremoniously, and put it on his own head, saying, miti, which means beautiful. He then made us re-embark in the canoe with him, amusing himself with me and my flageolet, which he attempted to play by blowing it through his nose, but did not succeed. After turning round a point which seemed to divide the island into two, we landed on a sandy beach. Parabery and another savage proceeded into the interior, carrying my mother, and we followed. We arrived at a hut similar to the king's, but not so large. There we were received by Mr. Willis, whom we judged to be the black friend, and from that time we had no more fears. He took us under his protection, first speaking to the king and to Parabery in their own language. He then addressed mamma in German, mixed with a few English words, which we understood very well. He knew nothing of you and my brothers; but, from what mamma told him, he promised to have you sought for, and brought as soon as possible to the island. In the mean time, he offered to lead us to a friend who would take care of us, and nurse poor mamma, who looked very ill. She was obliged to be carried to the grotto; but, after that, her cares were over, and her pleasure without alloy; for the black friend had promised to seek you. The white lady received us like old friends, and Sophia and Matilda took me at first for their own brother, and still love me as if I was. We only wished for you all. Madame Mimi made mamma lie down on the bear-skin, and prepared her a pleasant beverage from the milk of the cocoa-nut. Sophia and Matilda took me to gather strawberries, and figs, and beautiful flowers; and we caught fish in the brook, between two osier hurdles. We amused ourselves very well with Minou-minou, while Canda and Madame Emily amused mamma.