From The International Library of Masterpieces, Literature, Art, and Rare Manuscripts, Volume XXX, Editor-in-Chief: Harry Thurston Peck; The International Bibliophile Society, New York; 1901; pp. 11220-11236.
WYSS, JOHANN RUDOLF, a Swiss poet, editor, and juvenile writer; born in Berne, Switzerland, March 13, 1781; died there, March 31, 1830. He became Professor of Philosophy in the University of Berne and Chief Librarian of his native town. He edited “Der Alpenrosen” from 1811 for about twenty years, and for this periodical he wrote many poems, chiefly relating to Swiss history and legend. He was the author of the national song of Switzerland, “Rufst du, mein Vaterland,” but his title to a place in the hearts of the boys and girls of every nation must rest upon a book whose fame has been second only to that of De Foe’s “Robinson Crusoe,” — “The Swiss Family Robinson” (1813). This book was begun by his father, but was left in a very crude and unsatisfactory state, and to the subject of this sketch the credit of its authorship really belongs. “The Swiss Family Robinson” has been translated into every European language, and has gone through hundreds of editions. In 1815 Wyss published “Idyls, Traditions, Legends, and Tales of Switzerland,”
THE tempest had raged for six days, and on the seventh seemed to increase. The ship had been so far driven from its course, that no one on board knew where we were. Every one was exhausted with fatigue and watching. The shattered vessel began to leak in many places, the oaths of the sailors were changed to prayers, and each thought only how to save his own life. “Children,” said I, to my terrified boys, who were clinging round me, “God can save us if he will. To him nothing is impossible; but if he thinks it good to call us to him, let us not murmur: we shall not be separated.” My excellent wife dried her tears, and from that moment became more tranquil. We knelt down to pray for the help of our Heavenly Father; and the fervor and emotion of my innocent 11221 boys proved to me that even children can pray, and find in prayer consolation and peace.
We rose from our knees strengthened to bear the afflictions that hung over us. Suddenly we heard amid the roaring of the waves the cry of “Land! land!” At that moment the ship struck on a rock; the concussion threw us down. We heard a loud cracking, as if the vessel was parting asunder; we felt that we were aground, and heard the captain cry, in a tone of despair, “We are lost! Launch the boats!” These words were a dagger to my heart, and the lamentations of my children were louder than ever. I then recollected myself, and said, “Courage, my darlings, we are still above water, and the land is hear. God helps those who trust in him. Remain here, and I will endeavor to save us.”
I went on deck, and was instantly thrown down, and wet through by a huge sea; a second followed. I struggled boldly with the waves, and succeeded in keeping myself up, when I saw, with terror, the extent of our wretchedness. The shattered vessel was almost in two; the crew had crowded into the boats, and the last sailor was cutting the rope. I cried out, and prayed them to take us with them; but my voice was drowned in the roar of the tempest, nor could they have returned for us through waves that ran mountains high. All hope from their assistance was lost; but I was consoled by observing that the water did not enter the ship above a certain height. The stern, under which lay the cabin which contained all that was dear to me on earth, was immovably fixed between two rocks. At the same time I observed, towards the south, traces of land, which, though wild and barren, was now the haven of my almost expiring hopes; no longer being able to depend on any human aid. I returned to my family, and endeavored to appear calm. “Take courage,” cried I, “there is yet hope for us; the vessel, in striking between the rocks, is fixed in a position which protects our cabin above the water, and if the wind should settle to-morrow, we may possibly reach the land.”
This assurance calmed my children, and as usual, they depended on all I told them; they rejoiced that the heaving of the vessel had ceased, as, while it lasted, they were continually thrown against each other. My wife, more accustomed to read my countenance, discovered my uneasiness, and by a sign, I explained to her that I had lost all hope. I felt great consolation 11222 in seeing that she supported our misfortune with truly Christian resignation.
“Let us take some food,” said she; “with the body, the mind is strengthened; this must be a night of trial.”
Night came, and the tempest continued its fury, tearing away the planks from the devoted vessel with a fearful crashing. It appeared absolutely impossible that the boats could have outlived the storm.
My wife had prepared some refreshment, of which the children partook with an appetite that we could not feel. The three younger ones retired to their beds, and soon slept soundly. Fritz, the eldest, watched with me. “I have been considering,” said he, “how we could save ourselves. If we only had some cork jackets, or bladders, for mamma and my brothers — you and I don’t need them — we could then swim to land.”
“A good thought,” said I; “I will try during the night to contrive some expedient to secure our safety.” We found some small empty barrels in the cabin, which we tied two together with our handkerchiefs, leaving a space between for each child, and fastened this new swimming apparatus under their arms. My wife prepared the same for herself. We then collected some knives, string, tinder-box, and such little necessaries as we could put in our pockets; thus, in case the vessel should fall to pieces during the night, we hoped we might be enabled to reach land.
At length Fritz, overcome with fatigue, lay down and slept with his brothers. My wife and I, too anxious to rest, spent that dreadful night in prayer, and in arranging various plans. How gladly we welcomed the light of day, shining through an opening. The wind was subsiding, the sky serene, and I watched the sun rise with renewed hope. I called my wife and children on deck. The younger ones were surprised to find we were alone. They inquired what had become of the sailors, and how we should manage the ship alone.
“Children,” said I, “One more powerful than man has protected us till now, and will extend a saving arm to us, if we do not give way to complaint and despair. Let all hands set to work. Remember that excellent maxim, God helps those who help themselves. Let us all consider what is best to do now.”
“Let us leap into the sea,” cried Fritz, “and swim to the shore.”11223
“Very well for you,” replied Ernest, “who can swim; but we should be all drowned. Would it not be better to construct a raft, and go all together?”
‘That might do,” added I, “if we were strong enough for such a work, and if a raft was not always so dangerous a conveyance. But away, boys, look about you, and seek for anything that may be useful to us.”
We all dispersed to different parts of the vessel. For my own part, I went to the provision-room, to look after the casks of water and other necessaries of life; my wife visited the live stock and fed them, for they were almost famished; Fritz sought for arms and ammunition, Ernest for the carpenter’s tools. Jack had opened the captain’s cabin, and was immediately thrown down by two large dogs, who leaped upon him so roughly that he cried out as if they were going to devour him. However, hunger had rendered them so docile that they licked his hands, and he soon recovered his feet, seized the largest by the ears, and mounting his back, gravely rode up to me as I was coming from the hold. I could not help laughing; I applauded his courage, but recommended him always to be prudent with animals of that kind, who are often dangerous when hungry.
My little troop began to assemble. Fritz had found two fowling-pieces, some bags of powder and shot, and some balls in horn flasks. Ernest was loaded with an axe and hammer, a pair of pincers, a large pair of scissors, and an auger showed itself half out of his pocket.
Francis had a large box under his arm, from which he eagerly produced what he called little pointed hooks. His brothers laughed at his prize. “Silence,” said I; “the youngest has made the most valuable addition to our stores. These are fish-hooks, and may be more useful for the preservation of our lives than anything the ship contains. However, Fritz and Ernest have not done amiss.”
“For my part,” said my wife, “I only contribute good news; I have found a cow, an ass, two goats, six sheep, and a sow with young. I have fed them, and hope we may preserve them.”
“Very well,” said I to my little workmen; “I am satisfied with all but master Jack, who, instead of anything useful, has contributed two great eaters, who will do us more harm than good.”11224
“They can help us to hunt when we get to land,” said Jack.
“Yes,” replied I, “but can you devise any means of our getting there?”
“It does not seem at all difficult,” said the spirited little fellow; “put us each into a great tub, and let us float them. I remember sailing capitally that way on godpapa’s great pond at S——.”
“A very good idea, Jack; good counsel may sometimes be given, even by a child. Be quick, boys, give me the saw and auger, with some nails; we will see what we can do.” I remembered seeing some empty casks in the hold. We went down, and found them floating. This gave us less difficulty in getting them upon the lower deck, which was but just above the water. They were of strong wood, bound with iron hoops, and exactly suited my purpose; my sons and I therefore began to saw them through the middle. After long labor, we had eight tubs, all the same height. We refreshed ourselves with wine and biscuit, which we had found in some of the casks. I then contemplated with delight my little squadron of boats, ranged in a line, and was surprised that my wife still continued depressed. She looked mournfully on them. “I can never venture in one of these tubs,” said she.
“Wait a little, till my work is finished,” replied I, “and you will see it is more to be depended on than this broken vessel.”
I sought out a long flexible plank, and arranged eight tubs on it, close to each other, leaving a piece at each end to form a curve upwards, like the keel of a vessel. When then nailed them firmly to the plank, and to each other. We nailed a plank at each side, of the same length as the first, and succeeded in producing a sort of boat, divided into eight compartments, in which it did not appear difficult to make a short voyage over a calm sea.
But, unluckily, our wonderful vessel proved so heavy, that our united efforts could not move it an inch. I sent Fritz to bring me the jack-screw, and in the meantime sawed a thick round pole into pieces; then raising the forepart of our work by means of the powerful machine, Fritz placed one of these rollers under it.
Ernest was very anxious to know how this small machine could accomplish more than our united strength. I explained 11225 to him, as well as I could, the power of the lever of Archimedes, with which he declared he could move the world, if he had but a point to rest it on, and I promised my son to take the machine to pieces when were on shore, and explain the mode of operation. I then told them that God, to compensate for the weakness of man, had bestowed on him reason, invention, and skill in workmanship. The result of these had produced a science, which, under the name of Mechanics, taught us to increase and extend our limited powers incredibly by the aid of instruments.
Jack remarked that the jack-screw worked very slowly.
“Better slowly than not at all,” said I. “It is a principle in mechanics, that what is gained in time is lost in power. The jack is not meant to work rapidly, but to raise heavy weights; and the heavier the weight, the slower the operation. But can you tell me how we can make up for this slowness?”
“Oh, by turning the handle quicker, to be sure!”
“Quite wrong; that would not aid us at all. Patience and Reason are the two fairies, by whose potent help I hope to get our boat afloat.”
I quickly proceeded to tie a strong cord to the after part of it, and the other end to a beam in the ship, which was still firm, leaving it long enough for security; then introducing two more rollers underneath, and working with the jack, we succeeded in launching our bark, which passed into the water with such velocity, that but for our rope it would have gone out to sea. Unfortunately, it leaned so much on one side that none of the boys would venture into it. I was in despair, when I suddenly remembered it only wanted ballast to keep it in equilibrium. I hastily threw in anything I got hold of that was heavy, and soon had my boat level, and ready for occupation. They now contended who should enter first, but I stopped them, reflecting that these restless children might easily capsize our vessel. I remembered that savage nations made use of an out-rigger, to prevent their canoe oversetting, and this I determined to add to my work. I fixed two portions of a topsail yard, one over the prow, the other across the stern, in such a manner that they should not be in the way in pushing off our boat from the wreck. I forced the end of each yard into the bunghole of an empty brandy cask, to keep them steady during our progress.
It was now necessary to clear the way for our departure. 11226 I got into the first tub, and managed to get the boat into the cleft in the ship’s side, by way of a haven; I then returned, and with the axe and saw, cut away right and left all that could obstruct our passage. Then we secured some oars, to be ready for our voyage next day.
The day had passed in toil, and we were compelled to spend another night on the wreck, though we knew it might not remain till morning. We took a regular meal, for during the day we had scarcely time to snatch a morsel of bread and a glass of wine. More composed than on the preceding night, we retired to rest. I took the precaution to fasten the swimming apparatus across the shoulders of my three younger children and my wife, for fear another storm might destroy the vessel, and cast us into the sea. I also advised my wife to put on a sailor’s dress, as more convenient for her expected toils and trials. She reluctantly consented, and after a short absence, appeared in the dress of a youth who had served as a volunteer in the vessel. She felt very timid and awkward in her new dress, but I showed her the advantage of the change, and at last she was reconciled, and joined in the laughter of the children at her strange disguise. She then got into her hammock, and we enjoyed a pleasant sleep, to prepare us for new labors.
At break of day we were awake and ready, and after morning prayer, I addressed my children thus: “We are now, my dear boys, with the help of God, about to attempt our deliverance. Before we go, provide our poor animals with food for some days; we cannot take them with us, but if our voyage succeed, we may return for them. Are you ready? Collect what you wish to carry away, but only things absolutely necessary for our actual wants.” I planned that our first cargo should consist of a barrel of powder, three fowling-pieces, three muskets, two pair of pocket pistols, and one pair larger, ball, shot, and lead, as much as we could carry, with a bullet-mould; and I wished each of my sons, as well as their mother, should have a complete game-bag, of which there were several in the officers’ cabins. We then set apart a box of portable soup, another of biscuit, an iron pot, a fishing-rod, a chest of nails, and one of carpenter’s tools, also some sail-cloth to make a tent. In fact my boys collected so many things, we were compelled to leave some behind, though I exchanged all the useless ballast for necessaries.11227
When all was ready, we implored the blessing of God on our undertaking, and prepared to embark in our tubs. At this moment the cocks crowed a sort of reproachful farewell to us: we had forgotten them; I immediately proposed to take our poultry with us, geese, ducks, fowls, and pigeons, for, as I observed to my wife, if we could not feed them, they would, at any rate, feed us. We placed our ten hens and two cocks in a covered tub; the rest we set at liberty, hoping the geese and ducks might reach the shore by water, and the pigeons by flight.
We waited a little for my wife, who came loaded with a large bag, which she threw into the tub that contained her youngest son. I concluded it was intended to steady him, or for a seat, and made no observation on it. Here follows the order of our embarkation: In the first division sat the tender mother, the faithful and pious wife. In the second, our amiable little Francis, six years old, and of a sweet disposition.
In the third, Fritz, our eldest, fourteen or fifteen years old, a curly-headed, clever, intelligent, and lively youth.
In the fourth, the powder-cask, with the fowls and the sail-cloth.
Our provisions filled the fifth.
In the sixth, our heedless Jack, ten years old, enterprising, bold, and useful.
In the seventh, Ernest, twelve years of age, well-informed and rational, but somewhat selfish and indolent. In the eighth, myself, an anxious father, charged with the important duty of guiding the vessel to save my dear family. Each of us had some useful tools beside us; each held an oar, and had a swimming apparatus at hand, in case we were unfortunately upset. The tide was rising when we left, which I considered might assist my weak endeavors. We turned our out-riggers lengthwise, and thus passed from the cleft of the ship into the open sea. We rowed with all our might to reach the blue land we saw at a distance, but for some time in vain, as the boat kept turning round, and made no progress. At last I contrived to steer it, so that we went straight forward.
As soon as our dogs saw us depart, they leaped into the sea and followed us; I could not let them get into the boat, for fear they should upset it. I was very sorry, for I hardly expected that they would be able to swim to land; but by occasionally resting their forepaws on our out-riggers, they 11228 managed to keep up with us. Turk was an English dog, and Flora of a Danish breed.
We proceeded slowly, but safely. The nearer we approached the land, the more dreary and unpromising it appeared. The rocky coast seemed to announce to us nothing but famine and misery. The waves, gently rippling against the shore, were scattered over with barrels, bales, and chests from the wreck. Hoping to secure some good provision, I called on Fritz for assistance; he held a cord, hammer, and nails, and we managed to seize two hogsheads in passing, and fastening them with cords to our vessel, drew them after us to the shore.
As we approached, the coast seemed to improve. The chain of rocks was not entire, and Fritz’s hawk-eye made out some trees, which he declared were the cocoa-nut tree; Ernest was delighted at the prospect of eating these nuts, so much larger and better than any grown in Europe. I was regretting not having brought the large telescope from the captain’s cabin, when Jack produced from his pocket a smaller one, which he offered me with no little pride.
This was a valuable acquisition, as I was now enabled to make the requisite observations, and direct my course. The coast before us had a wild and desert appearance, — it looked better towards the left, but I could not approach that part for a current which drove us towards the rocky and barren shore. At length we saw, near the mouth of a rivulet, a little creek between the rocks, towards which our geese and ducks made, serving us for guides. This opening formed a little bay of smooth water, just deep enough for our boat. I cautiously entered it, and landed at a place where the coast was about the height of our tubs, and the water deep enough to let us approach. The shore spread inland, forming a gentle declivity of a triangular form, the point lost among the rocks, and the base to the sea.
All that were able leaped on shore in a moment. Even little Francis, who had been laid down in his tub like a salted herring, tried to crawl out, but was compelled to wait for his mother’s assistance. The dogs, who had preceded us in landing, welcomed us in a truly friendly manner, leaping playfully around us; the geese kept up a loud cackling, to which the yellow-billed ducks quacked a powerful bass. This, with the cackling of the liberated fowls, and the chattering of the boys, formed a perfect Babel; mingled with these were the harsh 11229 cries of the penguins and flamingoes, which hovered over our heads, or sat on the points of the rocks. They were in immense numbers, and their notes almost deafened us, especially as they did not accord with the harmony of our civilized fowls. However, I rejoiced to see these feathered creatures, already fancying them on my table, if we were obliged to remain in this desert region.
Our first care, when we stepped in safety on land, was to kneel down and thank God, to whom we owed our lives, and to resign ourselves wholly to his fatherly kindness.
THE trees which I had chosen for my farm-house were about a foot in diameter in the trunk. They formed a long square, the long side facing the sea. The dimensions of the whole were about twenty-four feet by sixteen. I cut deep mortices in the trees, about ten feet distant from the ground, and again ten feet higher, to form a second story; I then placed in them strong poles: this was the skeleton of my house — solid, if not elegant; I placed over this a rude roof of bark, cut in squares and placed sloping, that the rain might run off. We fastened these with the thorn of the acacia, as our nails were too precious to be lavished. While procuring the bark, we made many discoveries. The first was that of two remarkable trees, the Pistacia terebinthus and the Pistacia atlantica ; the next, the thorny acacia, from which we got the substitute for nails.
The instinct of my goats led us also to find out, among the pieces of bark, that of the cinnamon, not perhaps equal to that of Ceylon, but very fragrant and agreeable. But this was of little value, compared to the turpentine and mastic I hoped to procure from the pistachios, to compose a sort of pitch to complete our intended boat.
We continued our work at the house, which occupied us several days. We formed the walls of thin laths interwoven with long pliant reeds for about six feet from the ground; the rest was merely a sort of light trellis-work, to admit light and air. The door opened on the front to the sea. The interior consisted simply of a series of compartments, proportioned to the guests they were to contain. One small apartment was for 11230 ourselves, when we chose to visit our colony. On the upper story was a sort of hayloft for the fodder. We projected plastering the walls with clay; but these finishing touches we deferred to a future time, contented that we had provided a shelter for our cattle and fowls. To accustom them to come to this shelter of themselves, we took care to fill their racks with the food they liked best, mingled with salt; and this we proposed to renew at intervals, till the habit of coming to their houses was fixed. We all labored ardently, but the work proceeded slowly, from our inexperience; and the provisions we had brought were nearly exhausted. I did not wish to return to Falcon’s Nest till I had completed my new establishment, and therefore determined to send Fritz and Jack to look after the animals at home, and bring back a fresh stock of provisions. Our two young couriers set out each on his favorite steed, Fritz leading the ass to bring back the load, and Jack urging the indolent animal forward with his whip.
During their absence, Ernest and I made a little excursion to add to our provision — if we could meet with them, some potatoes and cocoa-nuts. We ascended the stream for some time, which led us to a large marsh, beyond which we discovered a lake abounding with water-fowl. This lake was surrounded by tall, thick grass, with ears of a grain, which I found to be very good, though small, sort of rice. As to the lake itself, it is only a Swiss, accustomed from his infancy to look on such smooth tranquil waters, that can comprehend the happiness we felt on looking upon this. We fancied we were once more in Switzerland, our own dear land; but the majestic trees and luxuriant vegetation soon reminded us we were no longer in Europe, and that the ocean separated us from our native home.
In the meantime, Ernest had brought down several birds, with a skill and success that surprised me. A little after, we saw Knip leap off the back of his usual palfrey, Flora, and, making his way through the rich grass, collect and carry rapidly to his mouth something that seemed particularly to please his palate. We followed him, and, to our great comfort, were able to refresh ourselves with that delicious strawberry called in Europe the Chile or pine-apple strawberry. We ate plentifully of this fruit, which was of enormous size; Ernest especially enjoyed them, but did not forget the absent; he filled Knip’s little pannier with them, and I covered them 11231 with large leaves, which I fastened down with reeds, lest he should take a fancy to help himself as we went home. I took, also, a specimen of rice, for the inspection of our good housekeeper, who would, I knew, rejoice in such an acquisition.
We proceeded round the lake, which presented a different scene on every side. This was one of the most lovely and fertile parts we had yet seen of this county. Birds of all kinds abounded; but we were particularly struck with a pair of black swans sailing majestically on the water. Their plumage was perfectly black and glossy, except the extremity of the wings, which was white. Ernest would have tried his skill again, but I forbade him to disturb the profound tranquillity of this charming region.
But Flora, who probably had not the same taste for the beauties of nature that I had, suddenly darted forward like a arrow, pounced upon a creature that was swimming quietly at the edge of the water, and brought it to us. It was a most curious animal. It resembled an otter in form, but was web-footed, had an erect bushy tail like the squirrel, small head, eyes and ears almost invisible. A long, flat bill, like that of a duck, completed its strange appearance. We were completely puzzled — even Ernest, the naturalist, could not give its name. I boldly gave it the name of the beast with a bill. I told Ernest to take it, as I wished to stuff and preserve it.
“It will be,” said the little philosopher, “the first natural object for our museum.”
“Exactly,” replied I; “and when the establishment is fully arranged, we will appoint you curator.”
But, thinking my wife would grow uneasy at our protracted absence, we returned by a direct road to the tent. Our two messengers arrived about the same time, and we all sat down together to a cheerful repast. Every one related his feats. Ernest dwelt on his discoveries, and was very pompous in his descriptions, and I was obliged to promise to take Fritz another time. I learnt, with pleasure, that all was going on well at Falcon’s Nest, and that the boys had had the forethought to leave the animals with provisions for ten days. This enabled me to complete my farm-house. We remained four days longer, in which time I finished the interior, and my wife arranged in our own apartment the cotton mattresses, to be ready for our visits, and put into the houses the fodder and grain for their respective tenants. We then loaded our cart 11232 and began our march. The animals wished to follow us, but Fritz, on Lightfoot, covered our retreat, and kept them at the farm till we were out of sight.
We did not proceed directly, but went towards the wood of monkeys. These mischievous creatures assaulted us with showers of the fir-apples; but a few shots dispersed our assailants.
Fritz collected some of these new fruits they had flung at us, and I recognized them as those of the stone Pine, the kernel of which is good to eat, and produce an excellent oil. We gathered a bag of these, and continued our journey till we reached the neighborhood of Cape Disappointment. There we ascended a little hill, from the summit of which we looked upon rich plains, rivers, and woods clothed with verdure and brilliant flowers, and gay birds that fluttered among the bushes. “Here, my children,” cried I, “here we will build our summer-house. This is truly Arcadia.” Here we placed our tent, and immediately began to erect a new building, formed in the same manner as the farm-house, but now executed more quickly. We raised the roof in the middle and made four sloped sides. The interior was divided into eating and sleeping apartments, stables, and a store-room for provisions; the whole was completed and provisioned in ten days; and we had now another mansion for ourselves, and a shelter for new colonies of animals. This new erection received the name of Prospect Hill to gratify Ernest, who thought it had an English appearance.
However, the end for which our expedition was planned was not yet fulfilled. I had not yet met with a tree likely to suit me for a boat. We returned then to inspect the trees, and I fixed on a sort of oak, the bark of which was closer than that of the European bark, resembling more that of the cork-tree. The trunk was at least five feet in diameter, and I fancied its coating, if I could obtain it whole, would perfectly answer my purpose, I cut a circle at the foot, and with a small saw cut the bark entirely through; Fritz, by means of the rope ladder we had brought with us, and attached to the lower branches of the tree, ascended, and cut a similar circle eighteen feet above mine. We then cut out, perpendicularly, a slip the whole length, and removing it, we had room to insert the necessary tools, and with wedges, we finally succeeded in loosening the whole. The first part was easy 11233 enough, but there was a greater difficulty as we advanced. We sustained it as we proceeded with ropes, and then gently let it down on the grass. I immediately began to form my boat while the bark was fresh and flexible. My sons, in their impatience, thought it would do very well if we nailed a board at each end of the roll; but this would have been merely a heavy trough, inelegant and unserviceable; I wished to have one that would look well by the side of the pinnace; and this idea at once rendered my boys patient and obedient. We began by cutting out at each end of the roll of bark a triangular piece of about five feet long; then, placing the sloping parts one over the other, I united them with pegs and strong glue, and thus finished the ends of my boat in a pointed form. This operation having widened it too much in the middle, we passed strong ropes round it and drew it into the form we required. We then exposed it to the sun, which dried and fixed it in the proper shape.
As many things were necessary to complete my work, I sent Fritz and Jack to Tent House for the sledge, to convey it there, that we might finish it more conveniently. I had the good fortune to meet with some very hard, crooked wood, the natural curve of which would be admirably suitable for supporting the sides of the boat. We found also a resinous tree, which distilled a sort of pitch easy to manage, and which soon hardened in the sun. My wife and Francis collected sufficient of it for my work. It was almost night when our two messengers returned. We had only time to sup and retire to our rest.
We were all early at work next morning. We loaded the sledge, placing on it the canoe, the wood for the sides, the pitch, and some young trees, which I had transplanted for our plantation at Tent House, and which we put into the boat. But before we set out, I wished to erect a sort of fortification at the pass of the rock, for the double purpose of securing us against the attacks of wild beasts or of savages, and of keeping inclosed, in the savannah beyond the rocks, some young pigs that we wished to multiply there, out of the way of our fields and plantations.
As we crossed the sugar-cane plantation, I saw some bamboos larger than any I had ever met with, and we cut down one for a mast to our canoe. We now had the river to our left and the chain of rocks to our right, which here approached the 11234 river, leaving only a narrow pass. At the narrowest part of this we raised a rampart before a deep ditch, which could only be crossed by a drawbridge we placed there. Beyond the bridge we put a narrow gate of woven bamboos, to enable us to enter the country beyond when we wished. We planted the side of the rampart with dwarf palms, India fig, and other thorny shrubs, making a winding path through the plantation, and digging in the midst a hidden pitfall, known to ourselves by four low posts, intended to support a plank bridge when we wished to cross it. After this was completed, we built a little chalet of bark in that part of the plantation that faced the stream, and gave it the name of the Hermitage, intending it for a resting-place. After several days of hard labor, we returned to Prospect Hill and took a little relaxation. The only work we did was to prepare the mast and lay it on the sledge with the rest.
The next morning we returned to Tent House, where we immediately set to work on our canoe with such diligence that it was soon completed. It was solid and elegant, lined through with wood, and furnished with a keel. We provided it with brass rings for the bars and stays for the mast. Instead of ballast, I laid at the bottom a layer of stones covered with clay, and over this a flooring of boards. The benches for the rowers were laid across, and in the midst the bamboo mast rose majestically, with a triangular sail. Behind I fixed the rudder, worked by a tiller; and I could boast now of having built a capital canoe.
Our fleet was now in good condition. For distant excursions we could take the pinnace, but the canoe would be invaluable for the coasting service.
Our cow had, in the meantime, given us a young male calf, which I undertook to train for service, as I had done the buffalo, beginning by piercing its nostrils: and the calf promised to be docile and useful; and as each of the boys had his favorite animal to ride, I bestowed the bull on Francis, and intrusted him with its education, to encourage him to habits of boldness and activity. He was delighted with his new charger, and chose to give him the name of Valiant.
We had still two months before the rainy season, and this time we devoted to completing the comforts of our grotto. We made all the partitions of wood, except those which divided us 11235 from the stables, which we built of stone, to exclude any smell from the animals. We soon acquired skill in our work; we had a plentiful supply of beams and planks from the ship; and by practice we became very good plasterers. We covered the floors with a sort of well-beaten mud, smoothed it, and it dried perfectly hard. We then contrived a sort of felt carpet. We first covered the floor with sail-cloth; we spread over this wool and goats’ hair mixed, and poured over it isinglass dissolved, rolling up the carpet and beating it well. When this was dry, we repeated the process, and in the end had a felt carpet. We made one of these for each room, to guard against any damp that we might be subject to in the rainy season.
The privations we had suffered the preceding winter increased the enjoyment of our present comforts. The rainy season came on; we had now a warm, well-lighted, convenient habitation, and abundance of excellent provision for ourselves and our cattle. In the morning we could attend to their wants without trouble, for the rain-water, carefully collected in clean vessels, prevented the necessity of going to the river. We then assembled in the dining-room to prayers. After that we went to our work-room. My wife took her wheel, or her loom, which was a rude construction of mine, but in which she had contrived to weave some useful cloth of wool and cotton, and also some linen, which she had made up for us. Everybody worked; the workshop was never empty. I contrived, with the wheel of a gun, to arrange a sort of lathe, by means of which I and my sons produced some neat furniture and utensils. Ernest surpassed us all in this art, and made some elegant little things for his mother.
After dinner, our evening occupations commenced; our room was lighted up brilliantly; we did not spare our candles, which were so easily procured, and we enjoyed the reflection in the elegant crystals above us. We had partitioned off a little chapel in one corner of the grotto, which we had left untouched, and nothing could be more magnificent than this chapel lighted up, with its colonnades, portico, and altars. We had divine service here every Sunday. I had erected a sort of pulpit, from which I delivered a short sermon to my congregation, which I endeavored to render as simple and instructive as possible.
Jack and Francis had a natural taste for music. I made them flageolets of reeds, on which they acquired considerable 11236 skill. They accompanied their mother, who had a very good voice; and this music in our lofty grotto had a charming effect.
We had thus made great steps towards civilization; and though condemned, perhaps, to pass our lives alone on this unknown shore, we might yet be happy. We were placed in the midst of abundance. We were active, industrious, and content; blessed with health and united by affection, our minds seemed to enlarge and improve every day. We saw around us on every side traces of the Divine wisdom and beneficence, and our hearts overflowed with love and veneration for that Almighty hand which so miraculously saved, and continued to protect us. I humbly trusted in Him either to restore us to the world, or send some beings to join us in this beloved island, where for two years we had seen no trace of man. To Him we committed our fate. We were happy and tranquil, looking with resignation to the future.