THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
TOLD IN WORDS OF ONE SYLLABLE
By Mary Godolphin
WHEN one has a good tale to tell, he should try to be brief, and not say more than he can help ere he makes a fair start; so I shall not say a word of what took place on board the ship till we had been six days in a storm. The barque had gone far out of her true course, and no one on board knew where we were. The masts lay in splints on the deck, a leak in the side of the ship let more in than the crew could pump out, and each one felt that ere long he would find a grave in the deep sea, which sent its spray from side to side of what was now but a mere hulk.
"Come, boys," said I to my four sons, who were with me, "God can save us if it please Him so to do; but, if this is to be our last hour, let us bow to His will—we shall at least go down side by side."
My dear wife could not hide the tears that fell down her cheeks as I thus spoke to my sons, but she was calm, and knelt down to pray, while the boys clung round her as if they thought she could help them.
Just then we heard a cry of "Land! land!" felt a shock, and it was clear that we had struck on a rock, for we heard a loud cry from one of the men, "We are lost! Launch the boat; try for your lives!"
I went at once on deck, and found that all the boats had been let down, and that the last of the crew had just left the ship. I cried out for the men to come back and take us with them, but it was in vain.
I then thought that our last chance was gone. Still, as I felt the ship did not sink, I went to the stern, and found, to my joy, that she was held up by a piece of rock on each side, and made fast like a wedge. At the same time I saw some trace of land, which lay to the south, and this made me go back with some hope that we had still a faint chance.
As soon as I got down stairs I took my wife by the hand, and said, "Be of good cheer, we are at least safe for some time, and if the wind should veer round, we may yet reach the land that lies but a short way off."
I said this to calm the fears of my wife and sons, and it did so far more than I had a right to hope.
"Let us now take some food," said my wife. "We are sure to need it, for this will no doubt be a night to try our strength."
My wife got some food for her boys, which we were glad to see them eat, poor as it was; but we could not share their meal. Three out of the four were put to bed in their berths, and soon went to sleep; but Fritz, who was our first child, would not leave us. He said, like a good son, that he would try to be of some use, and think what could be done.
"If we could but find some cork," said Fritz to me in a low tone, "we might make floats. You and I will not need them, for we can swim, but the rest will want some such means to keep them up."
"A good thought," said I. "Let us try to find what things there are in the ship that we can thus make use of."
We soon found some casks and ropes, and with these we made a kind of float for each of the three boys, and then my wife made one for her own use. This done, we got some knives, string, and such things as we could make fast to our belts. We did not fail to look for and find a flint and steel, and the box in which the burnt rags were kept, for these were at that time in use as the means to strike a light.
Fritz, who was now well-nigh worn out, lay down on his bed and slept like the rest. As for me and my poor wife, we kept watch, each in fear lest the next wave should lift the ship off the rock and break it up.
I need not tell you how glad we were when we saw the first gleam of light. At dawn the wind did not blow so strong, the sky was clear of clouds, and we saw the sun rise, and with it rose our hopes. I soon had my wife and sons on deck.
"Where are the men?" said they. "How can we steer the ship?"
"My dear boys," said I, "He who has kept us safe till now will still aid us. Let all hands set to work, and leave the rest to God."
At these words we all went to work with a will. My wife went to feed the live stock; Fritz set off in search of arms, and the means to make use of them; and Ernest made his way to the tool chest. Jack ran to pick up what he could find, but as he got to one of the doors he gave it a push, and two huge dogs sprang out and leaped at him. He thought at first that they would bite him, but he soon found that they meant him no harm, and one of them let him get on his back and ride up to me as I came from the hold of the ship.
When the boys had done their search, and the spoil was brought on deck, we thought we had found all that we should need. "As for me," said my wife, "I have brought good news, for I find we have still on board a cow, an ass, two goats, six sheep, a ram, a pig, and a sow, and I have found food for them all."
"All that you bring will be of use," said I; "but I fear that Jack's dogs will do us more harm than good."
"Not at all," said Jack, "for they can help us to hunt when we get to land."
"Well said, Jack. And now let us see what we can do that will aid us to get there."
We then took the casks that we had found, and Ernest and I soon cut them in half. With these tubs we made a kind of raft, though it was no slight task. The tubs, in fact, were a fleet of eight small round boats, made so fast to some planks that no one of them could float from the rest. The next thing to be done was to launch the raft. This we at length did, and when the boys saw it slide down the side of the ship and float on the sea, they gave a loud shout, and each one tried who should be the first to get on it. I made it fast to the ship, and there left it.
I then told my wife to change her dress for that of one of the crew which she had found, as her skirts would have got in her way when she had to climb. She did not at first like this, but did so as soon as she saw the truth of what I told her.
At last, when all was done, we went to bed, and slept as sound as if we had been on land.
WE were all up at the break of day, and knelt down to thank God that He had kept us from harm through the night.
We then put all the things on the raft, and ten live hens and two cocks were put in one of the tubs. Some ducks and geese we let go, in the hope that they would swim to the shore; and a pair of doves were set free, as they could fly to the land.
There was a place in the raft for each of us. In the first tub sat my wife; in the next Frank, who was eight years old; in the third Fritz, not quite twice the age of Frank; in the fourth were the fowls, and some old sails that would make us a tent; the fifth was full of good things in the way of food; in the sixth stood Jack, a bold lad, ten years old; in the next Ernest, twelve years of age, well taught, but too fond of self, and less fond of work than the rest; while I sat in the eighth, to guide the raft that was to save all that was dear to me in the world.
As soon as the dogs (Bill and Turk by name) saw us push off from the ship they leaped in the sea, swam near the raft, and kept well up with us.
The sea was calm; so that we felt quite safe. We made good use of the oars, and the raft bore its freight straight to the land; but as we drew near to the shore the sight of the bare rocks led us to think that we might still be in need of food and drink when that which we had was gone.
As we got near, the coast lost its bare look, and we were glad to see that there was no lack of trees. We soon found a bay, to which the ducks and geese had found their way, and here we saw a place where we could land.
As soon as we had made the raft fast with a strong rope, we took out all our wealth, and made a tent with the old sail cloth we had brought with us, and stuck a pole in the ground to keep it up. This done, I sent the boys to get some moss and dry grass to make our beds with. With the flint and steel we soon set fire to some dry twigs, and my wife made a pot of soup with what she had brought from the ship.
Fritz, who had charge of the guns, chose one, and took a stroll by the side of a stream, while Jack went in search of shell fish, which he thought he might find on the rocks. My share of the work was to save two large casks which were near the shore. While I was up to my knees in the sea I heard a shrill cry, which I knew to come from Jack. I got out at once, took up an axe, and ran to his help. I found him with his legs in a rock pool, where a large crab held him by his toes. It soon made off as I came near; but I struck at it with the axe, and brought it out of the pool. Jack then took it up, though it gave him a pinch or two ere he found out how to hold it, and ran off in high glee to show what he had caught.
When I got back to the tent, I found that Ernest had brought us news that he had seen salt in the chinks of the rocks, and that shell fish were not scarce.
"Well, my boy, if you are sure you saw them, I will ask you to go back for some. We must each do some work for the good of all."
He went, and soon found the salt, left by the sea on the rocks, which the sun had made quite dry. There was some sand with it, but my wife did not take long to find a way to cure that. She had been to a fresh stream with a large jug; from this I saw her pour some on the salt, strain it through a cloth, and let it drip in a cup, so that all the sand was left on the cloth.
When the soup was made hot we had each a taste, and all said that it was good.
"Be not in too great haste," said my wife, "we must wait for Fritz; but if he were here, I do not see how we are to take our soup, for we have no plates nor spoons."
"If we had but some large nuts," said Ernest, "we might cut them in half, and they would make good bowls."
"Quite true," said I; "but as there are none, we may as well wish for delf bowls and real spoons at once."
"Now I have it," quoth Ernest. "Let us use the shells I saw on the shore."
Off ran Jack to the shore, with Ernest at his heels, and back they both came with large and small shells for us all.
Just then Fritz came in, with a look of gloom on his face, which I could see was a sham.
"You do not mean to tell me you have come back with nought?" said I, as he put out his hands as if to prove that such was the case. But Jack, who had been round him, cried out, "No, no! he's got a pig!—such a fine one. Tell us where you found it."
Fritz now brought forth his prize. When I saw it, I knew, from what I had read, that it was not a pig, but a swift beast, known in these parts, that lives on fruit and nuts, and hides in the earth. (*The Agouti.)
"I like the place much more than I do this spot," said he. "The shore lies low, and there are planks, casks, chests, and all sorts of things, that the sea has thrown up. Why not leave this place at once, and go there?"
"There is a time for all things," said I. "We must at least rest here for one night."
We all sat down to take our soup with the shell spoons. Ernest took from his coat a large shell, which he had hid till now, put it in the soup, and then set it down to cool.
"You do not show want of thought," said I to him. "But I am not glad to see that you think so of your-self, and do so much for your own ease, when all the rest do so much for yours. Now, that shell full of soup you must give to our two dogs. We can all dip our small shells in the pot, and you must do as we do."
I knew he felt hurt at this, but he gave it to the dogs at once, and they soon made quick work of their share of the soup.
The sun was low when our meal came to an end. The fowls came round us to pick up the stray crumbs we had let fall, and my wife took out her bag of grain and fed the cocks and hens, and sent them to roost on the top of our tent.
We took care to load our fire-arms, in case we might need them in the night; sang a hymn of praise to God, and then left our fate in His hands.
As soon as I heard the cock crow, and saw by the light that it was break of day, I got out of bed and spoke to my wife as to what we should do next.
"First," said I, "Fritz and I will make a tour of the coast and try to find some of the men who left the ship, for if they are here they may be in want."
"But," said Fritz, who had heard me from his bed, "why should we search for those who left us to die on the wreck?"
"Well, I will tell you," said I. "First, we should do to them as we would wish them to do to us, not as they have done; next, we know that they took no food with them, and we should not leave them to starve; and last, it may be that they can help us, though now they stand more in need of our aid."
The boys were soon up, and we all sat down to a good meal. That done, Fritz and I got our guns. I put a pair of small arms in his belt, gave him a game bag, and told him to take an axe. I took some food for us both, and a full flask, out of which we could drink if we should stray far from a stream.
When we took our leave, my wife and the three boys were in tears. The dog Bill we left to guard the tent, but Turk went with us, and ran by our side.
We soon got to the banks of a stream; but then had to make our way down its course. It took us some time to reach the sea shore. There was not a boat to be seen, or any sign that the ship's crew had found the land. We left the shore, and went through a wood full of tall trees. Here Fritz struck some hard thing on the ground with his foot, which we found to be a CO-COA NUT. He gave it a blow with his axe, and broke the shell, and we both sat down to rest, and eat the nut.
At the end of the wood we came to a plain which gave us a clear view of the place. Fritz, who was on the look out, ran off with Turk to some strange trees that he saw on the right.
When I got up to him, it gave me no small joy to find that it was a gourd tree.
"Try," said I, "if you can get hold of one of those queer lumps that grow on it."
With that he brought one down, and we had a look at it.
"Now, of this," said I, "we can make a plate, a dish, or a flask. Wild men set great store by its shell, which they use to hold their food and drink."
We then set to work to make plates of the gourds. When we had made some eight or ten bowls, and some flat ones for plates, we laid them out in the sun to dry, and then went on our way.
We could see, not far off, a grove of fine palm trees, but to reach them we should have to pass through reeds and long grass. I knew this was just the place to find snakes, so we each cut a cane, that we might beat them off should we meet with any. As I took hold of my staff, I felt a gum or juice ooze out of the end. I put my tongue to it, and found it of a sweet taste. This led me to suck the reed, and I then knew that we had met with the SUG-AR CANE. By this time Fritz had done the same, for I could see that he held his cane to his mouth.
"Do not suck too much of it," said I, "or it will make you ill; but let us cut some of the best and take them back with us, for those at home will prize so great a treat."
It did not take us long to reach the place where the palms grew, and then we sat down in the shade to eat the food we had brought with us.
"Do you see those nuts at the top of the trees, Fritz?" said I.
"To be sure I do; but they are far too high to reach. Look, look!" he cried, "there are some MON-KEYS; let me have a shot at them." "Do not do that," I said, and held his arm; "it will do us no good to kill them, and I think I can make use of them." With that I threw some stones up at the tree where they were, though they had got safe out of my reach. They then made a loud noise, took hold of the nuts that were near, and flung them straight at us. The trick made Fritz laugh, who soon had hard work to pick up the nuts that were thrown at him.
We broke some of the nuts, and put the juice of the canes in the thick white cream which forms close to the shell; and this made us a dish that Fritz said was fit for a king.
Fritz and I then made fast some nuts to a string, which I tied round my waist, while he took up his canes, and we both set off on our road home.
ON our way back we took up the gourd bowls and plates, which we found quite dry and hard as bone, and put them in our bags. We had scarce got through the wood, when Turk made a dart in front of us, and we saw a troop of apes rush out of the way. But he gave a leap and brought down one that could not climb so fast as the rest, for she had a young one in her arms. Turk made short work of the poor thing, for ere Fritz could call the dog off, the ape was dead. The young one, as soon as it saw Fritz, sprang on his back, put its paws in his curls, and would not let go. I at length got the ape from Fritz's back, and took it up in my arms like a child. We found that it was too young to seek its own food, and, as Fritz said he should like to take it home, we put it on Turk's back. Turk did not at first like this, but we soon got him to bear the ape, which held so tight by the hair on the dog's neck that it could not well fall off. Fritz then led Turk with a string, that he might not stray out of sight, or throw off his charge, which I think he would have done had we not been on the watch.
It did not take us long to reach the bank of the stream near to our home.
I need not tell you how glad my wife and sons were to see us safe back, or with what joy the boys took the "real live ape" out of Fritz's arms.
At length, when they got more staid, I told them that we had brought them all sorts of good things, but that we had not met with any of the men of whom we went in search. "God's will be done," said my wife, "let us thank Him that you have come back safe to us. This day to me has been an age; but put down your loads, for we must now go in and hear what you have to tell."
Fritz and I then told them, by turns, where we found the things we brought with us, how we made and dried the plates and bowls, cut the canes, and caught the ape in the wood. Our tales had not come to an end when we were told that it was time to sup. Ernest had shot a wild goose, and some fish had been caught in the stream. With these, and the Dutch cheese that we brought from the ship, we made a good meal; but the boys would not rest till we broke some of the nuts, from which they drank the milk, made sweet with the juice of the canes. I must tell you that we ate our food in great state from our gourd rind plates, which my wife said she should prize more than if they were made of pure gold.
That night the ape went to bed with Jack and Fritz, and we all slept in peace till the cocks on the roof of the tent woke us up.
Next day Fritz and I went back to the wreck to save the live stock, and get what else we had left that might be of use to us. We found it no light task, for we had to make floats for the cow, the ass, the sheep, and the goats, throw them in the sea, and tie them with ropes to our raft. We put on board the raft a vast deal of food that had not been spoiled by the sea, though the waves had made a breach in the sides of the wreck. We then put to sea with our train of live stock made fast to the stern.
We had not gone far when I heard a loud cry of fear from Fritz, "We are lost! We are lost! See what a great shark is on its way to us!"
Though pale with fright, he took aim with his gun, and shot the fish in the head. It sank at once, but left a track of blood in the sea, which I knew to be a sign that we were once more safe. We then got to land, and made fast our freight to the shore. Ere we had done this our friends came to give us what help they could to get the beasts out of the stream, and take them up to the tent. The poor things were well nigh worn out; but we took good care of them, and put them to rest on some dry grass that my wife had laid out for them.
That night we did not sup on the ground. My wife had spread a cloth on the top of a cask, and we each sat on a tub. With the knives and forks that we had found in the ship we ate a dish of hot ham and eggs, nor did we fail to test the wine that I had brought with me in a small cask from the wreck.
Ere bed-time my wife had told me that while I was at the wreck she had gone in search of some place in which we could build a house.
"And did you find one, my dear?" I said.
"Oh, yes," said she. "We can take you to a great tree that will serve us well, if we can but get across the stream with our goods."
"But would you have us roost, like fowls, in a tree? How do you think we could get up to our perch?"
"Was there not a large lime tree in our town in which they built a ball room, with stairs up the trunk?"
"To be sure there was," said I; "and if we can not build in it, we can at least make use of its shade, and dwell in a hut on the roots."
Ernest said that he took a string, and found that it was twelve yards round. This led me to think that my wife's scheme was by no means a bad one, and that I would have a look at the tree the next day.
When I had heard all they had to tell, we knelt down to pray, and then sought a good night's rest, which the toils of the day made us much in need of.
WHEN I rose from my bed the next day, I said to my wife: "Does it not seem, my dear, as if God had led us to this place, and that we should do wrong to leave it?"
"What you say may be quite true, so far as it goes," she said; "but I must tell you that the mid-day heat is more than we can bear, and that if we stay here we may have to keep watch at night, for there are, no doubt, wild beasts of some kind that will find us out; and we should not trust too much to our dogs, who may lose their lives in a fight with them."
"I dare say you are right," said I; "but I do not yet see how we can cross the stream. We shall first have to build a bridge."
The boys were now all out of their beds; and while my wife went to milk the cow and cook some food, I made my plans known to them. They were all glad when they heard that we were to leave, and each said he, would help to build the bridge.
The first thing to be done was to find some strong planks; and Fritz, Ernest, and I went down to the shore, and got in the boat, which the tide took down to the bay.
On a piece of land which lay to the left we could see some large dark thing, round which flew a flock of sea gulls. We put up a sail and caught a gust of wind which had sprung up, and this soon brought the boat to the spot. We made no noise, but crept up the shore step by step, and we got so near that Ernest brought down some of the birds with a stick. Fritz was the first to find out that what the sea gulls had just left was the huge fish he had shot in the sea. We cut off some rough skin, which we thought might serve for files, and then went back to the boat. I took a glance at the shore ere I got in, and to my great joy saw some of the planks and spars from the wreck lay on the ground not far off. Our next care was to bind these so as to make a raft, which we tied to the stern of the boat, and then, by the use of our oars, soon made our way up the stream to the place where the bridge was to be built. Our young friends were glad to see us back so soon, and ran to meet us; Jack had a cloth in his hand, in which was a store of cray fish and crabs just caught in some of the nooks of a rock up the stream.
"Do not fail to give God thanks," said I, "that our lot has been cast where we can pick up more food than we can eat."
It would take a long time to tell how we brought all the wood up to the spot, built piers of stone in the stream, and put the planks one by one in the place; it was late at night when we left off work, and once more sought our tent.
The next day we saw the sun rise, and took our first meal in haste, for we knew we should have a long day's toil. All the stores that we could not take with us were laid by in the tent, the door of which was made safe by a row of casks, that we put round it. My wife and Fritz soon led the way; the cow went next; then the ass, with Frank on its back. Jack led the goats, and on the back of one of them sat the ape. Ernest took charge of the sheep, and I brought up the rear as chief guard. We took care to cross the bridge one at a time, and found it bore our weight well; but once or twice we thought the cow would step in the stream, or fall off the boards, when she went to the sides to drink.
Just as we had left the bridge, Jack cried out, "Be quick! here is a strange beast with quills as long as my arm." The dogs ran, and I with them, and found a large POR-CU-PINE, in the grass. It made a loud noise, and shot out its quills at the dogs, and made them bleed. At this Jack shot at the beast, which fell dead on the spot. My wife's first thought was to dress the wounds made by the quills, which had stuck in the nose of one of the dogs, while the boys made haste to pluck some of the quills from the skin of their strange prize.
At last our march came to an end, and I saw for the first time the great trees that my wife had told me of. They were of vast size, and were, I thought, fig trees. "If we can but fix our tent up there," I said, "we shall have no cause to dread, for no wild beasts can reach us." We sent Frank off to find sticks, with which to make a fire, and my wife made some soup of the flesh of the beast we had slain, though we did not like it so well as we did the ham and cheese we brought with us.
THE meal at an end, my first thought was to make some steps by means of which we could reach the first strong branch of the tree. Ernest and I went in search of some thick canes that grew in the sands hard by. These we cut down, bound them to four long poles, and thus made a pair of steps that would, we thought, reach far up the trunk.
On our way back from the sands, one of the dogs made a dart at a clump of reeds, and a troop of large birds rose on the wing with a loud noise. Fritz let fly at them, and brought down two at a shot. One of them fell quite dead, but its mate, though hurt in the wing, made use of its long legs so well that it would have got off if Bill had not held it. The joy of Fritz, to have caught such a strange bird, was so great that he would have us at once bind it by the neck and take it back with us. "Look," said Ernest, "what fine plumes he has, and you see he has web feet like a goose, and has long legs like a stork: thus he can run on land as fast as he can swim."
"Yes," said I, "and he can fly with more speed through the air, for these birds have great strength in their wings. In fact, few birds have such means of flight as the FLA-MIN-GO."
My wife thought the great bird might need more food than we could spare. I told her that it would feed on small fish and worms, and not rob our geese of their grain. I then tied him to a stake near the stream; and in a few days we were glad to find that he knew us, and would come at a call, like a tame bird.
While I sat on the grass with my sons, late in the day, I thought I would try to make a bow and thus save our shot. This I did with a long cane and a piece of string, and then made a dart with a sharp point, which I shot off and found it would go straight. The branch of the tree on which we were to fix our hut was so high that our steps would not near reach it. I tied some strong thread to the dart, and shot it over the branch; then tied a piece of rope to the end of the thread, and drew that up, and at last made a long row of cane steps, with a rope at each side, which we drew up to the first strong branch. The boys were now all in haste to climb the tree, but I chose that Jack, who was light of build and sure of foot, should go up first and try the strength of our work. Fritz went up next with some nails, and made the ropes fast to the tree, while I drove stakes in the ground to keep them firm at the foot. It was now time for me to mount, and up I went with an axe to lop off the twigs and smooth the bough that was to form the ground of our new house. I sent the boys down out of my way, and kept hard at work till it was late, for the sky was clear, and the moon lent me her beams of light to see by.
When I came down my wife spread a good meal on the ground, which we ate as best we could, and then made our beds of dry moss, round which we put heaps of twigs. These we set light to, as watch fires to keep off wild beasts and snakes. The toils of the day had made the boys tired, and they were soon in a sound sleep, but my wife and I took it in turns to watch through the whole night.
We were all out of bed as soon as light was in the sky, and set to work to hoist up the planks that were to form the floor of our hut. These we laid down on the branch, with their ends made fast to a cross piece of wood that we had to fix to the trunk of the tree. Our nails were long, and we drove each one of them home, so that we had no cause to fear the strength of our work. By the time we had done this the day was far spent, and we were all glad to lay by our tools and rest our limbs. That night we lit our fires round the tree, tied the dogs to the roots, and went up to sleep out of harm's way for the first time since we left the ship. When the steps were drawn up we all felt that we were now safe at last, and that we had brought the toils of the day to a good end.
WE did not wake next day till the sun shone in upon us. I told my wife and sons that as it was the Lord's day we would do no work. Our beasts and birds had first to be fed. This was done by my wife, who then brought us some hot milk, and made us sit down on the grass and take it. When our meal was done, I got on a log in front of my sons, and we all sang a psalm we knew by heart. Then I sought to teach them and spoke to them thus:
"There was once on a time a Great King, who had two vast realms, the Land of Light and Truth, and the Land of Night and Sloth. Those who dwelt in the first were full of life and joy. The King held his court at the Place of Rest where all was bright.
"This King had a land, not far off, where those for whom he had so much love should dwell ere they went one by one to the Place of Rest. This land was the Home of Earth. He gave to his Son the right to rule the host that dwelt in the Home of Earth, and set forth to think what they were to do, and all the ills that would come to them if they did not do as they were bid.
"At first they were all glad to hear the way in which they were to live, and the terms on which they could reach the Land of Light and Truth. Sad to tell, they soon broke the King's laws, and paid no heed to what they knew to be his will. Still there were a few who did as they had been taught, and dwelt in peace, in the hope that they would please the King and at last reach the place where he held his court.
"From time to time ships came to the Home of Earth, and at last a great ship was sent, the name of which was The Grave, which bore the flag of Death. To the good it was a sign of hope, but the bad were thrown by the sight of it into a state of gloom. These ships were not seen till they came close to the shore, and then the crew were sent forth to find those whom they were told to seize. Some went back with them full of joy, but most were seen to weep and mourn their fate. So soon as they were brought in sight of the Great King, the Prince took those who had done well, and put a white robe on them; but those who went their own way when on the Home of Earth, he sent down to toil in deep, dark mines till time shall be no more."
When my sons had heard my tale to the end they all knew what it meant; I then drew from them their views of what they ought to do to please and serve the Great King. We then sang a hymn; and my wife drew from her bag the BIBLE, which I gave to one of the boys, who read from it in a clear, loud voice. When this was brought to a close, we all knelt down on the grass to pray, and to ask God to bless the means we took to learn His will.
We did no work that day, but took a long stroll up the banks of the stream.
The next day Ernest and Jack tried their skill with the bow, and brought down some small birds that came to the great tree in quest of figs. I gave them leave to kill what they could; for I knew if put in casks made air tight with grease, they would keep for a time, and might prove a boon, if our stock of food should get low.
When we sat down to dine, the thought struck me that it would be well to give some name to each part of the land that was known to us. This was at first the source of some fun, for Fritz said we should call the bay where we had found the shell spoons by the name of Spoon Bay; but Jack, who still had a mark on his toe where the crab gave him a pinch, thought we ought to term it Crab Bay.
"If you will let me give it a name," said my wife, "I should wish to know it by some term that will make us bear in mind how good God was to lead our raft there, and I don't think Safe Bay will be a bad name for it."
"So let it be," said I; and from that time Safe Bay had a name. "What shall be the name of the spot where we spent our first night on shore? You shall give that its name," said I to Fritz.
"Let us call it Tent House."
"That will do," said I. "And now for the spot at the mouth of Safe Bay, where we found our planks?"
"Sharp Point," said Ernest. The place from which Fritz and I sought for a trace of out ship mates was to be known as No Man's Cape. Then we had the Boys' Bridge, which name I gave it from a wish to please my sons, who had done so much to build it.
"But what shall we call the place which is most dear to us all?"
"Now, my dear," said I to my wife, "it is your turn. What shall we say?"
"Let us call it The Nest," said she; and with that I gave each of my young birds a glass of sweet wine.
"Here's to 'The Nest,'" said I; "and may we live long to bless the day and the means that brought us here."
When the heat of the day was past, I told my sons that I should be glad to take a walk with them. My wife said that she should like to go with us; so we left The Nest in charge of Turk, and bent our course to the banks of the stream. On our way we went past some shrubs and rare herbs, which my wife knew well how to make use of should we fall sick; and Ernest found a large spot of ground on which grew a fine kind of PO-TA-TO. At these the boys set to work with such zeal, that we soon had a full bag of the ripe fruit. We then went on to Tent House, which we found in the same state as when we left it to cross the stream on our way to the great tree.
We found that our ducks and geese had grown so wild that they would not come near us; so, while my wife and I went to pick up such things as we thought we might take back with us, Ernest and Fritz were sent to catch them, and to tie their legs and wings, and in this way we got them at last to The Nest.
IT took the whole of the next day to make a sledge, to which we tied the ass, and drove to Tent House. On our sledge we put such of the casks which held food, and took them back to The Nest. Fritz and I went once more to the wreck, and this time we brought off chests of clothes, pigs of lead, cart wheels, sacks of maize, oats, peas, and wheat. With a strong bar we broke down some of the doors, and took such parts of the ship as we thought would aid us to build our house, which as yet was far less safe than I could wish. These we bound with cords, and made them float back at the stern of the raft.
When we got to the shore my wife and the three boys were there to greet us. My first care was to send for the sledge, and with this we took most of our new wealth up to The Nest.
The next day I told my sons that they must now learn to run, to leap, to climb, and to throw stones straight at a mark, as all these things would be of great use to them in their new mode of life.
I next taught them to use the LAS-SO, by means of which men catch the wild horse on the vast plains of the New World. I tied two stones to the ends of a cord some yards in length, and flung off one of them at the trunk of a young tree; the cord went round and round it in a coil and bound it so tight that I could have drawn it to me had it not been fast in the ground. This trick the boys were not slow to learn; and Fritz, in a short time, could take an aim as well with a stone as he could with his gun.
As yet we had not seen much of the isle; for it took most of our time to build the house. But one day we made up our minds that we would all start on a tour. We rose at dawn, put the ass in the sledge, took what food we thought we should need, and set out from The Nest just as the sun rose.
When we came to the wood where Fritz found the ape, he told them by what means we got the nuts, but now there were no apes there to throw them down.
"Oh, if one would but fall from the trees," he said.
The words had but just left his lips when a large nut fell at his feet. He made a start back, and two more came down near the same spot.
As the nuts were far from ripe, I was at a loss to know how they could fall off the tree, for I could not see an ape nor a bird near.
I went close up to the tree, and saw a large land crab on its way down the trunk. Jack struck a blow at him with a stick, but did not hit the beast. He then took off his coat and threw it on the crab's head, while I made an end of him with an axe. I told them that these crabs climb the trees and break off the nuts, as we had seen, and then come down to feast on them at their ease.
"But how do they crack the nuts?" said Jack.
"They make a hole through the shell at the thin end, and then suck them dry."
The dead crab was put in the sledge, and we went on through the wood. When we came to the Gourd Wood, we sat down to make some more bowls and flasks to take back with us. Ernest had gone to try what new thing he could find, but he had not been from us long, when we heard him call out,
"A wild boar! A great wild boar! Come here, pray!"
We took up our guns, and went at once with the dogs to the spot. We soon heard Turk give a loud bark, and just then we heard Ernest laugh, and saw the two dogs come through a clump of brush wood, with our old sow fast by the ears. She did not seem to like the way in which they had put an end to her feast of fruit, so she ran back as soon as we told the dogs to let go their hold of her ears.
"But with all our sport," said Fritz, "we have a poor show of game. Let us leave the young ones, and set off to see what we can meet with." Ernest sat down with Frank, and we left them and my wife at the gourd tree, while Fritz and Jack set off with me to a high rock which we saw on the right.
"Fritz, look here," said Jack, as he made his way to the rock.
"What have you found now?" said Fritz.
"I don't know what it is, but it's a fine prize."
When I went up I saw at once that it was a large I-GUA-NA, the flesh and eggs of which are both good for food. I had heard that these and such like beasts will stand still if you play an air on a pipe. So I crept near, and made a low sound with my lips, while I held in my right hand a stout stick, to which I had tied a cord with a noose, and in my left hand a slight wand. I saw it first move its tail, and then draw its head from side to side, as if to look where the sound came from. I then threw the noose round its neck, drew it tight, got on its back with a leap and thrust the wand up its nose, which is the sole part of the beast where there are no hard scales. It bled at once, and was soon dead, nor did it seem to feel any pain. Our prize, which was near five feet long was no slight weight to lift. I got it at last on my back, and thus we went back to the gourd tree, where we found the rest quite safe.
It took us a long time to reach The Nest that night. My wife did her best to dress some of the flesh of the land crab, but it was tough, and did not taste so nice as the soup made from the beast that we had caught by the nose.
FRITZ and I spent the whole of the next day in the woods. We took the ass and one of the dogs with us, but left all else at home.
Our way first lay through a dense wood, where we saw no end of small birds, but such game could not now tempt Fritz to waste his shot. We then had to cross a vast plain, and to wade through the high grass, which we did with care, lest we should tread on some strange thing that might turn and bite us.
We came at last to a grove of small trees, and in their midst I saw a bush, which I knew to be the wax tree, for the wax grew on it like white beads. I need not say how glad I was to find so great a prize. We had up to this time gone to bed as soon as the sun went down, for we had no lamp to use; but as we could now make wax lights, I told Fritz that we had found what would add two or three hours per day to our lives. We took as much of the wax as would serve us for some time, and then made our way out of the grove.
"How came you," said Fritz, "to know so much of the queer beasts, trees, and plants that we have found here?"
"When young," said I, "I used to read all the books that fell in my way; and those that told of strange lands and what was to be seen in them had for me as great a charm as they have for Ernest, who has read a great deal, and knows more of plants than you do."
"Well," said he, "I will do the same if I but get the chance. Can you tell what is the name of that huge tree on the right? See, there are balls on the bark."
We went close to it, and found that these balls were of thick gum, which the sun had made quite hard. Fritz tried to pull one of them off, but felt that it clung tight to the bark, though he could change its shape with his warm hands. "Look," said he, "I feel sure that this is the IN-DI-A RUB-BER which we used to clean our school books." I took a piece of it in my hand, and said, "To be sure it is. What shall we not find in this rich land?" I then told him how the men in the New World made flasks of this gum, in which form it is sent to all parts of the world. "And I do not see why we should not make boots of it in the same way. We have but to fill a sock with sand, then put gum all round it, while in a soft state, till it is as thick as we need, then pour the sand out, and we shall have made a shoe or a boot that will at least keep out the damp, and that is more than mine do just now."
Not far from this we came to a bush, the leaves of which were strewn with a white dust; and close by were two or three more in the same state. I cut a slit in the trunk of one of these, and found it full of the white dust, which I knew by the taste to be SA-GO. We took all of this that we could get out of the tree, for it would add to our stock of food; and when our bags were full we laid them on the back of the ass, and set off to find our way back to The Nest.
"Each day brings us fresh wealth," said my wife; "but I think we might now try to add to our goods." I knew that she had some fear lest we should one day get lost in the woods, or meet with wild beasts, so I at once said that we would now stay at home, at least for some days.
My first work was to make some wax lights, for my wife could then mend our clothes at night, while we sat down to talk. This done, the next task they gave me was to make a churn. I took a large gourd, made a small hole in the side, and cut out as much as I could, so as to leave but the rind. In this I put the cream, laid a piece on the hole, and bound it up so that none could come out. The boys then held a cloth, and on it I put the gourd, which they rolled from side to side. They kept up this game with great mirth for near an hour, when my wife took off the string, and found that the churn had done its work well.
As our sledge was not fit to use on rough roads, my next work was to make a cart. I had brought a pair of wheels from the wreck, so that my task did not prove a hard one.
While I was thus at work, my wife and the boys took some of the fruit trees we had brought with us, and put them in the ground where they thought they would grow best. On each side of the path that led from The Nest to the Boy's Bridge they put a row of young nut trees. To make the path hard we laid down sand from the sea shore, and then beat it down with our spades.
We were for six weeks at this and such like work. We were loth to spare any pains to make The Nest, and all that could be seen near it, look neat and trim, though there were no eyes but our own to view the scene.
One day I told my sons that I would try to make a flight of stairs in place of the cane steps with rope sides, which were, to tell the truth, the worst part of our house. As yet we had not used them much, but the rain would some day force us to keep in The Nest, and then we should like to go up and down stairs with more ease than we could now climb the rude steps. I knew that a swarm of bees had built their nest in the trunk of our tree, and this led me to think that there might be a void space in it some way up. "Should this prove to be the case," I said, "our work will be half done, for we shall then have but to fix the stairs in the tree round the trunk." The boys got up and went to the top of the root to tap the trunk, and to judge by the sound how far up the hole went. But they had to pay for their want of thought; the whole swarm of bees came out as soon as they heard the noise, stung their cheeks, stuck to their hair and clothes, and soon put them to flight.
We found that Jack, who was at all times rash, had struck the bees' nest with his axe, and was much more hurt by them than the rest. Ernest, who went to his work in his slow way, got up to it last, and thus did not get more than a sting or two, but the rest were some hours ere they could see out of their eyes. I took a large gourd, which had long been meant to serve for a hive, and put it on a stand, We then made a straw roof to keep it from the sun and wind, and as by this time it grew dark, we left the hive there for the night.
Next day, the boys, whose wounds were now quite well, went with me to help to move the bees to the new home we had made for them. Our first work was to stop with clay all the holes in the tree but one through which the bees were wont to go in to their nest. To this I put the bowl of a pipe, and blew in the smoke of the weed as fast as I could. At first we heard a loud buzz like the noise of a storm afar off; but the more I blew my pipe the less grew the sound, till at last the bees were quite still.
We now cut out a piece of the trunk, three feet square, and this gave us a full view of the nest. Our joy was great to find such a stock of wax, for I could see the comb reached far up the tree. I took some of the comb, in which the bees lay in swarms, and put it by on the plank.
We then put the gourd on the comb that held the swarm, and took care that the queen bee was not left out. By these means we soon got a hive of fine bees, and the trunk of the tree was left free for our use.
We had now to try the length of the hole. This we did with a long pole, and found it reached as far up as the branch on which our house stood.
We now cut a square hole in that side of the trunk next the sea shore, and made one of the doors that we had brought from the ship to fit in the space. We then made the sides smooth all the way up, and with planks and the staves of some old casks, built up the stairs round a pole which we made fast in the ground. To do this we had to make a notch in the pole and one in the side of the trunk for each stair, and thus go up step by step till we came to the top. Each day we spent a part of our time at what we could now call the farm, where the beasts and fowls were kept, and did odd jobs as well, so that we should not make too great a toil of the flight of stairs, which took us some six weeks to put up.
One day Fritz caught a fine EA-GLE, which he tied by the leg to a branch of the tree, and fed with small birds. It took him a long while to tame, but in time he taught it to perch on his wrist, and to feed from his hand. He once let it go, and thought he would have lost it, but the bird knew it had a good friend, for it came back to the tree at night. From that time it was left free, though we thought that some day its love of war and wild sports would tempt it to leave us for the rocks of the sea shore, where Fritz had first found it.
Each of my boys had now some pet to take care of, and, I may say, to tease, for they all thought they had a fair right to get some fun out of the pets they could call their own; but they were kind to them, fed them well, and kept them clean.
In what I may term my spare time, which was when I left off work out of doors, I made a pair of gum shoes for each of my sons, in the way I had told Fritz it could be done. I do not know what we should have done had we not found the gum tree, for the stones soon wore out the boots we had, and we could not have gone through the woods or trod the hard rocks with bare feet.
By this time our sow had brought forth ten young pigs, and the hens had each a brood of fine chicks. Some we kept near us, but most of them went to the wood, where my wife said she could find them when she had need to use them.
I knew the time must now be near when, in this clime, the rain comes down day by day for weeks, and that it would wash us out of The Nest if we did not make a good roof to our house. Then our live stock would need some place where they could rest out of the rain. The thatch for The Nest was of course our first care; then we made a long roof of canes for our live stock, and on this we spread clay and moss, and then a thick coat of tar, so that it was rain proof from end to end. This was held up by thick canes stuck deep in the ground, with planks made fast to them to form the walls, and round the whole we put a row of cask staves to serve for rails. In this way we soon had a barn, store room, and hay loft, with stalls for the cow, the ass, and what else we kept that had need of a place to live in.
FRANK one day found some long leaves, to which, from their shape, he gave the name of sword leaves. These he brought home to play with, and then, when he grew tired of them, threw them down. As they lay on the floor, Fritz took some of them in his hand, and found them so limp, that he said he could plait them, and make a whip for Frank to drive the sheep and goats with. As he split them up to do this, I could not but note their strength. This led me to try them, and I found that we had now a kind of flax plant, which was a source of great joy to my wife.
"You have not yet found a thing," she said, "that will be of more use to us than this. Go at once and search for some more of these leaves, and bring me the most you can of them. With these I can make you hose, shirts, clothes, thread, rope; in short, give me flax, and make me a loom and some frames, and I shall be at no loss for work when the rain comes."
I could not help a smile at my wife's joy when she heard the name of flax; for there was still much to do ere the leaves could take the shape of cloth. But two of the boys set off at once to try to find some more of the flax.
While they were gone, my wife, full of new life, and with some show of pride, told me how I should make the loom by means of which she was to clothe us from head to foot. In a short time they came back, and brought with them a good load of the plant, which they laid at her feet. She now said she would lay by all else till she had tried what she could make of it. The first thing to be done was to steep the flax. To do this we took the plant down to the marsh, tied up in small bales, as they pack hemp for sale. The leaves were then spread out in the pond, and kept down with stones, and left there in that state till it was time to take them out and set them in the sun to dry, when they would be so soft that we could peel them with ease. It was two weeks ere the flax was fit for us to take out of the marsh. We spread it out on the grass in the sun, where it dried so quick that we took it home to The Nest the same day. It was then put by till we could find time to make the wheels, reels, and combs which my wife said that she would want to turn our new found plant to its best use.
We now made haste to lay up a store of canes, nuts, wood, and such things as we thought we might want; and took care, while it was still fine, to sow wheat, and all the grain we had left in our bags was soon put in the ground. The fear that the rain might come and put a stop to our work led us to take our meals in haste, and to make the days as long as we could see. We knew the rain was close at hand, for the nights were cold; large clouds could be seen in the sky, and the wind blew as we had not felt it since the night our ship had struck on the rock.
The great change came at last. One night we were woke up out of our sleep with the noise made by the rush of the wind through the woods, and we could hear the loud roar of the sea far off. Then the dense storm clouds which we had seen in the sky burst on us, and the rain came down in floods. The streams, pools, and ponds on all sides were soon full, and the whole plain round us met our view as one vast lake. By good luck, the site of our house stood up out of the flood, and our group of trees had the look of a small isle in the midst of the lake.
We soon found that The Nest was not built so well as we thought, for the rain came in at the sides, and we had good cause to fear that the wind would blow the roof off. Once the storm made such a rush at it that we heard the beams creak, and the planks gave signs that there was more strain on them than they could bear. This drove us from our room to the stairs in the trunk, on which we sat in a state of fear till the worst of the storm was past. Then we went down to the shed we had built on the ground at the root of the tree, and made the best shift we could. All our stores were kept here, so that the space was too small to hold us, and the smell from the beasts made it far from a fit place for six of us to dwell in; but it was at least safe for a time, and this was of course the first thing to be thought of. To dress our food we had to make a fire in the barn, and as there was no place to let out the smoke, it got down our throats and made us cough all the day long.
It was now for the first time that my wife gave a sigh for her old Swiss home. But we all knew that it was of no use to grieve, and each set to work to do all he could to make the place look neat and clean. Some of our stores we took up the stairs out of our way, and this gave us more room. As we had cut square holes in the trunk of the tree all the way up, and put in frames of glass that we got from the ship, my wife could sit on the stairs, with Frank at her feet, and mend our clothes. Each day I drove from the barn such beasts as could bear to be out in the rain. That we might not lose them, I tied bells round their necks; and if we found that they did not come back when the sun went down, Fritz and I went out to bring them in. We oft got wet through to the skin, which gave us a chill, and might have laid us up if my wife had not made cloth capes and hoods for us to wear. To make these rain proof, I spread some of the gum on them while hot, and this, when dry, had the look of oil cloth, and kept the head, arms, chest, and back free from damp. Our gum boots came far up our legs, so that we could go out in the rain and come back quite free from cold and damp.
We made but few fires, for the air was not cold, save for an hour or two late at night, and we did not cook more than we could help, but ate the dried meat, fowls, and fish we had by us.
The care of our beasts took us a great part of the day; then we made our cakes and set them to bake in a tin plate on a slow fire. I had cut a hole in the wall to give us light, and put a pane of glass in it to keep out the wind, but the thick clouds hid the sun from the earth, and the shade of the tree threw a gloom round our barn, so that our day light was but short, and night came on far too soon. We then made use of our wax lights, and all sat round a bench. My wife had as much as she could well do to mend the rents we made in our clothes. I kept a log, In which I put down, day by day, what we did and what we had seen; and then Ernest wrote this out in a neat, clear hand, and made a book of it. Fritz and Jack drew the plants, trees, and beasts which they had found, and these were stuck in our book. Each night we took it in turns to read the Word of God, and then all knelt down to pray ere we went to bed. Ours was not a life of ease, it is true, but it was one of peace and hope; and we felt that God had been so kind to us that it would be a great sin to wish for what it did not please Him to grant us.
My wife did all she could to cheer us, and it was no strange thing for us to find that while we were out in the rain with the live stock, she had made some new dish, which we would scent as soon as we put our heads in at the door. One night it was a thrush pie, the next a roast fowl, or some wild duck soup; and once in a while she would give us a grand feast, and bring out some of all the good things we had in store.
In the course of our stay in doors we made up our minds that we would not spend the next time of storm and rain, when it should come round, in the same place. The Nest would serve us well in that time of year when it was fine and dry, but we should have to look out for some spot where we could build a house that would keep us from the rain the next time the storms came.
Fritz thought that we might find a cave, or cut one out of the rocks by the sea shore. I told him that this would be a good plan, but would take a long while to do. By this time the boys were all well used to hard work, and they thought they would much like to try their skill at some new kind of work.
"Well," said I, "we will go to the rocks round Tent House the first fine day that comes, and try to find some place that will serve to keep us from the next year's storms."
I CAN not tell how glad we all were when we at last saw a change in the sky, and felt once more the warm rays of the sun. In a few days the floods sank in the earth, and left the ground of a bright green hue; the air grew warm and dry, and there were no more dark clouds to be seen in the sky.
We found our young trees had put forth new leaves, and the seed we had sown had come up through the moist ground. The air had a fresh sweet smell, for it bore the scent of the bloom which hung like snow flakes on the boughs of the fruit trees; the songs and cries of the birds were to be heard on all sides, and we could see them fly from tree to tree in search of twigs to build their nests. This in fact was the spring of the year, when all things put forth new life; and we knew that the time was now come when we could once more range the woods and till the soil, and this made the boys leap for joy.
Some planks had been blown off the roof of The Nest, and the rain had got in here and there; so our first job was to mend our house, and make it fit to sleep in.
This done, Jack, Fritz, and I set out to Tent House. We found it in a sad state. The storm had thrown down the tent, blown off some of the sail cloth, and let in the rain on our casks, some of which held a store of food. Our boat was still safe, but the raft of tubs had broken Lip, and what there was left of it lay in splints on the shore.
Our loss in the storm had been so great that I felt we ought at once to seek for some place on the rocks where we could put what was left.
We went all round the cliffs, in the hope that we might find a cave, but in vain.
"There is no way but to hew one out of the rock", said Fritz, "we must not be beat."
"Well said, Fritz," said Jack; "we have each an axe. Why not try this cliff at once?"
I gave them leave to try, and we soon set to work at the rock. From this spot we had a good view of the whole bay, and could see both banks of the stream.
With a piece of chalk I made a mark on the side of the cliff, to show the width and height that the cave should be cut. Then each took an axe to try what kind of stuff our rock was made of. We found it a hard kind of stone; and, as we were not used to this sort of work, we had not done much when the time came for us to leave off.
We came back next day, and got on with more speed, though we thought it would not take us less than six months to make the cave, if our work were done at the same rate each day.
At the end of five or six days we had got through the face of the rock, and we found the stone soft. In a day or two more we came to what was but hard clay, which gave way at a slight blow from the axe.
"We need not fear now," said I, "for we shall soon have a hole as large as we want."
With the earth we took out we made a ridge in front of the cliff. The boys now got on so well, and dug so much out, that I had hard work to throw up the earth on the bank.
One day, as Jack stuck his pick in at the back of the cave, which was now more than eight feet from the front, a great mass of the rock fell in, and he cried out, "Look here! I have got through."
"Through what?" said I. "Not through your hand, I hope."
"No, no, but through the rock."
At this, Fritz set up a loud laugh.
"Why not say through the world at once, and push your crow bar in till you reach EU-ROPE, which, Ernest says, lies in a straight line from our feet. I should like to have a peep down, such a hole, for I might thus get a sight of our dear Swiss home."
Fritz and I went up to the wall and found that Jack was right, for he had come to a clear space. His first thought was to jump in; but as I knew that there might be foul air in the cave, I would not let him risk his life.
The boys then set fire to some dry grass, and thrust it in the hole, but it went out at once, which was a sure sign that the air was not fit to breathe.
I knew that we had brought from the wreck a box full of fire works, which were used on board to make signs to ships far out at sea. I sent Fritz to Tent House for these, though I thought that they might be too damp to make use of. When he came back, I set light to some of them, and threw them in the hole. They flew round, and threw out a stream of sparks that lit up the cave. When these were burnt out, we put in a heap of straw and threw a light on it. This was now soon in a blaze, and gave us a clear view of the cave; but it was too deep for us to see the end.
Our joy was so great that we sent Jack off home to The Nest to tell the good news, and to bring back some wax lights. I did not deem it safe for us to go in the cave in the dark, for there might be pools or deep dry pits in the ground.
Fritz and I had just thrown up on the bank the last spade full of earth that had been dug out, when we heard a loud shout. We got up on the top of the cave, and saw that Jack had brought back a tribe at his heels. The large cart, drawn by the cow and the ass, came on at a slow pace, led by Jack on a black ox, and in it were my wife, Frank, and Ernest.
By the help of a flint and steel I soon lit some of the wax lights, and gave one to each. I went in first and led the way, and the rest kept close at my back. We had not gone on more than a few steps when we came to a dead stop, struck with awe at the grand sight that met our view. The walls and roof of the cave were lit up, as it were, with star-like gems, while some hung down like glass drops from the roof, and some rose up from the ground at its sides like blocks of spar. I broke off a piece and put it on my tongue.
"What does it taste like?" said Jack.
"I find," said I, "that we are in a cave of rock salt."
"We shall not have to scrape the rocks to get our salt now," said Ernest, "for there is more here than would serve a whole town for a lifetime."
When we went back to The Nest that night we laid out a plan for our new home, for there could be no doubt that the cave was the best place for us to dwell in, though we should still sleep in The Nest when we went on that side of the stream.
The next day we all set to work; the floor of the cave was quite smooth, and the walls dry, so that we could build at once. We first cut holes in the sides of the rock to let in the light, and then brought frames and panes of glass from The Nest, and put them in. We then brought all the planks and wood we could find, and built a strong wall in the midst of the cave. On the right side of this wall we made three rooms, two of which were to be used as bed rooms, and one to take our meals in. On the left side was a room for my wife to cook in, one to work in, to which we gave the name of the shop, and a place with stalls in it for our live stock. At the back of these was a store house, where we could keep our stock of food and the whole of our spare goods.
I need not say that it took us some months to do all this, nor that we had to toil hard day by day, from morn till night, ere we got to the end of our task; but the end did come at last, and then the joy we felt that we had done all this with our own hands more than paid us for our toil.
OUR fields near Tent House had by this time brought forth good crops of wheat, maize, beans, and peas; but as the work of the Cave had for some weeks kept us on this side of the stream, we did not know in what state we should find our crops at The Nest.
One day we all set out for our old home. We found our corn fields of a rich brown hue, and saw that the wheat was, for the most part, fit to reap. This, and a large patch of rye we cut down, and, as we did so, whole flocks of birds took to wing when we got near them, while quails were seen to run off at the sight of our dogs, who had no lack of sport that day.
We laid by the seed that was quite ripe till the time should come for us to sow it, and put the rest in sacks. Some of the wheat was laid up in sheaves till we should have time to beat out the grain.
When we left The Nest for the Cave, we could not find the hand mill that we had brought from the ship. This now came to light, and we took care to pack it up to take with us, as we should want it to grind our corn.
That night we slept once more in the great tree; but I must say that we did not now sleep so sound there as we used to do, nor did we feel so safe as we did in our rooms at Rock House.
The next day we were to start a plan by means of which our live stock would not want so much of our care. They had bred so fast that we could well spare some of them, and these I thought might be left in some place to seek their own food, and yet be in reach should we want them.
My wife took from her hen roost ten young fowls, and I took four young pigs, four sheep, and two goats. These we put in our large cart, with such tools as we thought we should need, tied the black ox, the cow, and the ass to the shafts, and then set off from The Nest.
We had to cross a wide plain, and here we met with some dwarf plants on which, as Jack would have it, grew snow balls.
Fritz ran to see what they were, and brought me a twig to which clung balls of snow white down. I held it up to show my wife, for I knew the sight would please her still more than her sons.
"See," said I, "this is the COT-TON plant, which you have oft tried to find. It seems to grow here as thick as weeds, and, if I am a judge, it is of the best kind."
We got as much of this as our bags would hold, and my wife took care to pluck some of the ripe seed, that we might raise a crop in our grounds at Tent House.
At the end of the plain we came to the brow of a high hill, from which the eye fell on a view the like of which we had not yet seen. Trees of all kinds grew on the sides of the hill, and a clear stream ran through the plain at its base, and shone bright in the rays of the sun.
We said at once that this should be the site of our new farm. Close by we found a group of trees, the trunks of which, as they stood, would do for the main props of the house.
I had long had a mind to build a boat, and here I at last came on a tree that would suit. Fritz and I went for a mile or two in search of what we could find, and by the time we came back my wife had put up our tent for the night. We then all sat down to sup, and went to rest on beds made of the bags of the white down that we brought from the trees on the plain.
The next day we rose at dawn. The trees which were to form the frame of our farm house stood on a piece of land eight yards long by five wide. I made a deep cut in each of the trunks, ten feet from the ground, and put up cross beams to form a roof, on which we laid some bark in such a way that the rain would run off.
We were hard at work for some days at the Farm House. The walls we built of thin laths and long reeds, wove close for six feet from the ground, but the rest we made of thin cross bars to let in both light and air. We made racks to store bay and such like food for the live stock, and put by some grain for the fowls, for our plan was to come from time to time to feed them, till they got used to the place.
Our work took us more time than we thought; and as our store of food got low, we sent Fritz and Jack home to bring us a fresh stock, and to feed the beasts we had left at Tent House.
While they were gone, Ernest and I made a tour of the woods for some miles round the new Farm. We first took the course of the stream that ran by the foot of the hill. Some way up we came to a marsh on the edge of a small lake, and here in the swamp grew a kind of wild rice, now ripe on the stalk, round which flew flocks of birds. We shot five or six of these, and I was glad to note the skill with which Ernest now used his gun. I took some of the rice, that my wife might judge how far it was of use to us as food.
We went quite round the lake, and saw plants and trees that were not known to me, and birds that Ernest said he had not seen in any of the woods near The Nest. But we were most struck with the sight of a pair of black swans, and a troop of young ones that came in their train. Ernest would have shot at them, but I told him not to kill what we did not want for use.
We did not get back till late in the day. Jack and Fritz, whom we met just as we came round the foot of the bill, had done their task well, for they had a good stock of food in a sack that lay on the back of the ass, and they brought the good news that all was well at home.
We spent four more days at the Farm, and then left it in such a state as to be fit for our use when we chose to go back to it.
The Farm House was but a part of our plan, for we had made up our minds to build a sort of half way house, or cot, in which we could rest on our way to the Farm. This took us six days to do. The spot we chose lay by the side of a brook, and was just such a place as would tempt, one to stop and rest in the shade of the trees, that grew on the bank. While at the brook, I made a boat out of the tree we found at the Farm, and took it back with us to Tent House in the cart.
We had still two months ere the rain would set in, and this left us time to put the last touch to our cave. We laid the whole floor with clay, and spread on it some fine sand, which we beat down till it was quite smooth and firm. On this we put sail cloth, and threw down goat's hair and wool made moist with gum. This was well beat, and, when dry, made a kind of felt mat that was warm and soft to tread on, and would keep the damp from our feet.
By the time these works were done, our cave was in a fit state for us to dwell in. We did not now dread the rain, for we were safe out of its reach, and there was no need that we should go out in it. We had a warm light shop to work in by day, a snug place where we could take our meals and dry bed rooms in which we could sleep in peace. Our live stock we kept in a shed at the back of the cave, and our store room held all that we could want.
When the rain at length set in, we all had some task that kept us close at work in the cave. My wife took her wheel or her loom, both of which I had made for her, for this kind of work fell to her share from choice. By the help of the wheels of one of the ship's guns I had made a lathe, and with this I could turn legs for stools and chairs. Ernest, too, was fond of the lathe, and soon learned to do such work quite as well as I.
At dusk, when we had done our work for the day, we brought out our stock of books, and sat down to read by the light of a lamp.
At times, Jack and Prank would play a tune on their flutes, which I had made out of reeds; and my wife, who had a sweet voice, would sing some of the old Swiss songs, that brought to our minds the joys of home.
Though we were by no means dull, nor in want of work to fill up our time, we were glad when the time came for the rain to cease, and when we could gaze once more on the green fields. We went out the first fine day, and took a long walk by the base of the cliff. On the shore we found a dead whale, which the sea had no doubt thrown up in the storm. We had long felt the need of oil; for though we had a lamp, we had naught but our wax lights to put in it, and these gave a poor light to read by. The next day we cut up the whale, and put the flesh in tubs. It was far from a clean job, for the oil ran down our clothes and made them smell; but as we could change them for new ones, thanks to the hemp and my wife's skill, we did not mind that, for the oil was now worth more to us than our clothes, though at one time we should not have thought so.
One day we all set out on a tour to the Farm. Jack and Frank had gone on first, while my wife and I were as yet close to the Cave. All at once the boys came back, and Fritz said, "Look at that strange thing on its way up the path. What can it be?"
I cast my eye on the spot and cried out, "Fly all of you to the Cave! fly for your lives!" for I saw it was a huge snake, or boa, that would make a meal of one of us, if we did not get out of its way.
We all ran in doors, and put bars up to the door of the Cave. A large dove cote had been made on the roof, and to this we got up through a hole in the rock.
Ernest took aim with his gun, and shot at the snake, so did Fritz and Jack, but it gave no sign that they had hit it. I then tried my skill, but it did not seem to feel my shot any more than theirs, though I was sure I must have struck its head. Just as we took aim at it once more, we saw it turn round and glide through the reeds in the marsh.
Our fears kept us for three long days in the Cave. The snake gave no sign that could lead us to think it was still near, but the ducks and geese had left the spot where their nests were, and this we knew to be a bad sign. On the fourth day I went to the door, with a view to let out some of the beasts to graze, for we were short of food for them. The ass was just at my back, and as soon as it saw the light, made a rush to get out. Off it went, straight to the sands, with its heels in the air, but just as it got to the marsh we saw the boa glide out from the reeds, part its wide jaws and make for its prey. The ass at once saw its foe, but stood still as if struck with fear, and in less time than I take to tell it, our old friend was tight in the folds of the boa.
This was a sad sight for all of us, yet we could not take our eyes off the snake, but saw it crush the poor beast, and then gorge its prey. When it had put the whole of the ass out of sight, it lay down on the sand quite still, as if it had gone to sleep or died.
"Now is the time to seal the fate of our foe," said I to Fritz; and with that we went out with our guns. When we got near, we both took a straight aim, and each put a ball in its head. This made it move with a start, and writhe as if in pain.
"See how its eyes glare on us with rage. Now load your gun, and let us put a bit more lead in him."
Our next shot went in his eyes. It then shook as with a strong spasm, and fell dead on the sand.
A shout of joy brought my wife and the three boys to the spot. The state of fear they had been kept in for three whole days had made them quite ill, but now the joy of Jack and Frank knew no bounds, for they leaped on the snake and beat it as if they would go mad.
My wife said that the death of the boa took a great weight off her mind, for she thought it would lie in wait for us near the Cave, starve us out, and then kill us as it had done the poor ass.
We slit up the snake, and took out the flesh of the ass, which the boys laid in a grave near Tent House. The boa's skin we hung up at the door of the Cave, over which Ernest wrote the words, "No ass to be found here," which we all thought to be a good joke.
One day late in the spring I went with my three sons a long way from the Cave. My wife and Frank were left at our Half Way House, to wait till we came back, but the dogs went with us. Our route lay far up the course of a small stream, which had its source some miles north of the Farm House. The ground was new to us, but we could not well lose our way, for on the right stood a hill from which we could see the whole of the plain.
Ernest had gone with one of the dogs to a cave that he had spied at the foot of the hill, but we saw him turn round and run back with Turk at his heels. As soon as he thought his voice would reach us, he cried out, "A bear! A bear! come to my help!"
We could now see that there were two great beasts at the mouth of the cave. At a word from us both the dogs, flew to fight the bear that stood in front.
Fritz took up his post at my side, while Jack and Ernest kept in the rear. Our first shot was "a miss," as Jack said; but we took a sure aim the next time, and both shots told. We would have let fly at them once more from this spot, but as we thought we might hit our brave dogs, who were now in the heat of a hard fight with their foes, we ran up close to them.
"Now, Fritz," said I, "take a straight aim at the head of the first, while I fire on the one at his back."
We both shot at once; the bears gave a loud growl, and then, with a moan, fell dead at our feet.
As it was now time to go back, we put the bears in the cave, but took care to cut off their paws, which form a dish fit to grace the feast of a king.
We had a long walk back to the place where I had left my wife. The boys told her what a hard fight the dogs had with the bears, and how Fritz and I had shot them, and then gave her the paws. With the aid of Frank she had fed our live stock and brought in wood to make up our watch fire for the night, so we sat down to sup at once, and then went to rest.
Next day we put our beasts to the cart and drove as far as the bear's den. As we came near to the spot a flock of birds flew out of the mouth of the cave, two or three of which Fritz brought down with his gun. It took us the whole day to cut up the bears. The hams were laid by to be smoke dried; while my wife took charge of the fat and the skins.
WE had now so much work to do, and the days and weeks came and went so quick, that I do not think we should have known the time of year had it not been for our log.
Some days were spent at the Cave, where we made our goods, ground our flour, stored our food, and kept our tame live stock. Then we had to take care of our crops in the fields near The Nest, and this took us two or three days in each month. Once in ten days at least we went to the Farm on the hill, and at the same time made a call at the Half Way House; so that there was not a day that we had not our hands quite full. Now and then we went out to hunt for sport or to add to our stock of beasts, which had grown so large that there were few we could name that had not been caught and brought home. We had birds of the air, fowls of the land, and beasts of all kinds' from the great black ox of the plain to the small wild RAB-BIT that came and made its hole close by our cave.
But there was one bird that we had not yet caught, though we had seen it two or three times in the woods. This was the OS-TRICH. Fritz found a nest with some eggs in it, and this led us to make a tour with a view to catch one of the old birds. We rose that day ere it was light, and set out at dawn, each on the back of a good steed.
As we should have to hunt through the woods, my wife was left at home; and Ernest, who did not like rough work, chose to stay with her. We made it a rule to take one of the dogs with us when we went out to hunt, but on this day we thought it wise to let them both come.
Fritz took us straight to where he had seen the nest, which was not more than a few miles up the stream. When we came in sight of the spot, we saw four great birds, as if on their way to meet us. As they drew near we kept the dogs well in, and made no noise, so that they did not stop till they came near us.
Fritz had brought his Ea-gle with him, which he now let fly. At one swoop the bird came down on the head of the Os-trich, held on with its beak, and struck out its wings with great force, as if to stun it.
We now rode up close to the scene of war. Jack first flung a cord round the legs of the bird, which made it fall to the ground. I then threw my pouch on its head, and, strange to say, it lay down as still as a lamb.
I now tied both its legs with cords, but left it just room to walk. We then made it fast to the two bulls that had brought Jack and Frank all the way from home, and put one of them on each side. They next got up on their steeds, and I took the pouch from the head of the bird. As soon as it could see, it gave a wild stare, and then fought to get free.
The boys then put spurs to the flanks of their steeds, and when the bird had made a few starts back, as if to try the strength of the cords which held it, it set off with a run, and the bulls at each side made it keep up a smart pace.