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Chapter 37

  • Our animals were impatiently expecting us; they had been neglected during th_torm, and were ill-supplied with food, besides being half-sunk in water. Th_ucks and the flamingo liked it well enough, and were swimming comfortably i_he muddy water; but the quadrupeds were complaining aloud, each in his ow_roper language, and making a frightful confusion of sounds. _Valiant_ ,
  • especially,—the name Francis had bestowed on the calf I had given him to brin_p,—bleated incessantly for his young master, and could not be quieted till h_ame. It is wonderful how this child, only twelve years old, had tamed an_ttached this animal; though sometimes so fierce, with him he was mild as _amb. The boy rode on his back, guiding him with a little stick, with which h_ust touched the side of his neck as he wished him to move; but if hi_rothers had ventured to mount, they would have been certainly thrown off. _retty sight was our cavalry: Fritz on his handsome onagra, Jack on his hug_uffalo, and Francis on his young bull. There was nothing left for Ernest bu_he donkey, and its slow and peaceful habits suited him very well.
  • Francis ran up to his favourite, who showed his delight at seeing him as wel_s he was able, and at the first summons followed his master from the stable.
  • Fritz brought out _Lightfoot_ Jack his buffalo, and I followed with the co_nd the ass. We left them to sport about at liberty on the humid earth, til_e removed the water from their stable, and supplied them with fresh food. W_hen drove them in, considering it advisable to pursue our expedition on foot,
  • lest the bridge should still be overflowed. Francis was the superintendent o_he fowls, and knew every little chicken by name; he called them out an_cattered their food for them, and soon had his beautiful and noisy famil_luttering round him.
  • After having made all our animals comfortable, and given them their breakfast,
  • we began to think of our own. Francis made a fire and warmed some chicke_roth for his mother; for ourselves, we were contented with some new milk,
  • some salt herrings, and cold potatoes. I had often searched in my excursion_or the precious _bread-fruit_ tree, so highly spoken of by modern travellers,
  • which I had hoped might be found in our island, from its favourable situation;
  • but I had hitherto been unsuccessful. We were unable to procure the blessin_f _bread_ , our ship biscuit had long been exhausted, and though we had sow_ur European corn, we had not yet reaped any.
  • After we had together knelt down to thank God for his merciful protectio_hrough the terrors of the past night, and besought him to continue it, w_repared to set out. The waves still ran high, though the wind had subsided,
  • and we determined merely to go along the shore, as the roads still continue_mpassable from the rain, and the sand was easier to walk on than the we_rass; besides, our principal motive for the excursion was to search for an_races of a recent shipwreck. At first we could discover nothing, even wit_he telescope; but Fritz, mounting a high rock, fancied he discovere_omething floating towards the island. He besought me to allow him to take th_anoe, which was still where he left it the preceding night. As the bridge wa_ow easy to cross, I consented, only insisting on accompanying him to assis_n managing it. Jack, who was much afraid of being left behind, was the firs_o leap in and seize an oar. There was, however, no need of it; I steered m_ittle boat into the current, and we were carried away with such velocity a_lmost to take our breath. Fritz was at the helm, and appeared to have n_ear; I will not say that his father was so tranquil. I held Jack, for fear o_ccidents, but he only laughed, and observed to his brother that the cano_alloped better than Lightfoot. We were soon in the open sea, and directed ou_anoe towards the object we had remarked, and which we still had in sight. W_ere afraid it was the boat upset, but it proved to be a tolerably large cask,
  • which had probably been thrown overboard to lighten the distressed vessel; w_aw several others, but neither mast nor plank to give us any idea that th_essel and boat had perished. Fritz wished much to have made the circuit o_he island, to assure ourselves of this, but I would not hear of it; I though_f my wife's terror; besides, the sea was still too rough for our frail bark,
  • and we had, moreover, no provisions. If my canoe had not been well built, i_ould have run great risk of being overset by the waves, which broke over it.
  • Jack, when he saw one coming, lay down on his face, saying he preferred havin_hem on his back rather than in his mouth; he jumped up as soon as it passed,
  • to help to empty the canoe, till another wave came to fill it again; but,
  • thanks to my out-riggers, we preserved our balance very well, and I consente_o go as far as _Cape Disappointment_ , which merited the name a second time,
  • for we found no trace here of the vessel, though we mounted the hill, and thu_ommanded a wide extent of view. As we looked round the country, it appeare_ompletely devastated: trees torn up by the roots, plantations levelled wit_he ground, water collected into absolute lakes,—all announced desolation; an_he tempest seemed to be renewing. The sky was darkened, the wind arose, an_as unfavourable for our return; nor could I venture the canoe on the waves,
  • every instant becoming more formidable. We moored our bark to a large palm-
  • tree we found at the foot of the hill, near the shore, and set out by land t_ur home. We crossed the Gourd Wood and the Wood of Monkeys, and arrived a_ur farm, which we found, to our great satisfaction, had not suffered muc_rom the storm. The food we had left in the stables was nearly consumed; fro_hich we concluded that the animals we had left here had sheltered themselve_uring the storm. We refilled the mangers with the hay we had preserved in th_oft, and observing the sky getting more and more threatening, we set ou_ithout delay for our house, from which we were yet a considerable distance.
  • To avoid _Flamingo Marsh_ , which was towards the sea, and _Rice Marsh_ ,
  • towards the rock, we determined to go through _Cotton Wood_ , which would sav_s from the wind, which was ready to blow us off our feet. I was still uneas_bout the ship, which the lieutenant had told me was out of repair; but _ndulged a hope that they might have taken refuge in some bay, or foun_nchorage on some hospitable shore, where they might get their vessel int_rder.
  • Jack was alarmed lest they should fall into the hands of the _anthropophagi_ ,
  • who eat men like hares or sheep, of whom he had read in some book of travels,
  • and excited the ridicule of his brother, who was astonished at his read_elief of travellers' tales, which he asserted were usually false.
  • "But Robinson Crusoe would not tell a falsehood," said Jack, indignantly; "an_here were cannibals came to his island, and were going to eat Friday, if h_ad not saved him."
  • "Oh! Robinson could not tell a falsehood," said Fritz, "because he neve_xisted. The whole history is a romance—is not that the name, father, that i_iven to works of the imagination?"
  • "It is," said I; "but we must not call Robinson Crusoe a romance; thoug_obinson himself, and all the circumstances of his history are probabl_ictitious, the details are all founded on truth—on the adventures an_escriptions of voyagers who may be depended on, and unfortunate individual_ho have actually been wrecked on unknown shores. If ever our journal shoul_e printed, many may believe that it is only a romance—a mere work of th_magination."
  • My boys hoped we should not have to introduce any savages into our romance,
  • and were astonished that an island so beautiful had not tempted any to inhabi_t; in fact, I had often been myself surprised at this circumstance; but _old them many voyagers had noticed islands apparently fertile, and ye_ninhabited; besides, the chain of rocks which surrounded this might preven_he approach of savages, unless they had discovered the little _Bay of Safety_here we had landed. Fritz said he anxiously desired to circumnavigate th_sland, in order to ascertain the size of it, and if there were similar chain_f rocks on the opposite side. I promised him, as soon as the stormy weathe_as past, and his mother well enough to remove to Tent House, we would tak_ur pinnace, and set out on our little voyage.
  • We now approached the marsh, and he begged me to let him go and cut som_anes, as he projected making a sort of carriage for his mother. As we wer_ollecting them, he explained his scheme to me. He wished to weave of thes_eeds, which were very strong, a large and long sort of pannier, in which hi_other might sit or recline, and which might be suspended between two stron_amboo-canes by handles of rope. He then purposed to yoke two of our mos_entle animals, the cow and the ass, the one before and the other behind,
  • between these shafts, the leader to be mounted by one of the children a_irector; the other would follow naturally, and the good mother would thus b_arried, as if in a litter, without any danger of jolting. I was pleased wit_his idea, and we all set to work to load ourselves each with a huge burden o_eeds. They requested me not to tell my wife, that they might give her a_greeable surprise. It needed such affection as ours to induce us to th_ndertaking in such unpropitious weather. It rained in torrents, and the mars_as so soft and wet, that we were in danger of sinking at every step. However,
  • I could not be less courageous than my sons, whom nothing daunted, and we soo_ade up our bundles, and, placing them on our heads, they formed a sort o_mbrella, which was not without its benefits. We soon arrived at Falcon'_est. Before we reached the tree, I saw a fire shine to such a distance, tha_ was alarmed; but soon found it was only meant for our benefit by our kin_riends at home. When my wife saw the rain falling, she had instructed he_ittle assistant to make a fire in our usual cooking-place, at a littl_istance from the tree, and protected by a canopy of water-proof cloth fro_he rain. The young cook had not only kept up a good fire to dry us on ou_eturn, but had taken the opportunity of roasting two dozen of those excellen_ittle birds which his mother had preserved in butter, and which, all range_n the old sword which served us for a spit, were just ready on our arrival,
  • and the fire and feast were equally grateful to the hungry, exhausted, and we_ravellers, who sat down to enjoy them.
  • However, before we sat down to our repast, we went up to see our invalids,
  • whom we found tolerably well, though anxious for our return. Ernest, with hi_ound hand, and the assistance of Francis, had succeeded in forming a sort o_rampart_ before the opening into the room, composed of the four hammocks i_hich he and his brothers slept, placed side by side, on end. Thi_ufficiently protected them from the rain, but excluded the light, so tha_hey had been obliged to light a candle, and Ernest had been reading to hi_other in a book of voyages that had formed part of the captain's smal_ibrary. It was a singular coincidence, that while we were talking of th_avages on the way home, they were also reading of them; and I found my dea_ife much agitated by the fears these accounts had awakened in her mind. Afte_oothing her terrors, I returned to the fire to dry myself, and to enjoy m_epast. Besides the birds, Francis had prepared fresh eggs and potatoes fo_s. He told me that his mamma had given up her office of cook to him, an_ssured me that he would perform the duties to our satisfaction, provided h_as furnished with materials. Fritz was to hunt, Jack to fish, I was to orde_inner, and he would make it ready. "And when we have neither game nor fish,"
  • said Jack, "we will attack your poultry-yard." This was not at all to th_aste of poor little Francis, who could not bear his favourites to be killed,
  • and who had actually wept over the chicken that was _slaughtered_ to mak_roth for his mother. We were obliged to promise him that, when othe_esources failed, we would apply to our barrels of salt-fish. He, however,
  • gave us leave to dispose as we liked of the ducks and geese, which were to_oisy for him.
  • After we had concluded our repast, we carried a part of it to our friend_bove, and proceeded to give them an account of our expedition. I then secure_he hammocks somewhat more firmly, to save us from the storm that was stil_aging, and the hour of rest being at hand, my sons established themselves o_attresses of cotton, made by their kind mother, and in spite of the roarin_f the winds, we were soon in profound repose.