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Chapter 38

  • The storm continued to rage the whole of the following day, and even the da_fter, with the same violence. Happily our tree stood firm, though severa_ranches were broken; amongst others, that to which Francis's wire wa_uspended. I replaced it with more care, carried it beyond our roof, and fixe_t the extremity the pointed instrument which had attracted the lightning. _hen substituted for the hammocks before the window, strong planks, whic_emained from my building, and which my sons assisted me to raise wit_ulleys, after having sawed them to the proper length. Through these I mad_oop-holes, to admit the light and air. In order to carry off the rain, _ixed a sort of spout, made of the wood of a tree I had met with, which wa_nknown to me, though apparently somewhat like the elder. The whole of th_ree, almost to the bark, was filled up with a sort of pith, easily removed.
  • From this tree I made the pipes for our fountain, and the remainder was no_seful for these rain-spouts. I employed those days in which I could not g_ut, in separating the seeds and grain, of which I saw we should have need,
  • and in mending our work-tools; my sons, in the mean time, nestled under th_ree among the roots, were incessantly employed in the construction of th_arriage for their mother. The karatas had nearly completed the cure o_rnest's hand, and he was able to assist his brothers preparing the canes,
  • which Fritz and Jack wove between the flat wooden wands, with which they ha_ade the frame of their pannier; they succeeded in making it so strong an_lose, that they might have carried liquids in it. My dear wife's foot and le_ere gradually improving; and I took the opportunity of her confinement, t_eason with her on her false notion of the dangers of the sea, and t_epresent to her the gloomy prospect of our sons, if they were left alone i_he island. She agreed with me, but could not resolve to leave it; she hope_od would send some vessel to us, which might leave us some society; and afte_ll, if our sons were left, she pointed out to me, that they had our beautifu_innace, and might at any time, of their own accord, leave the island.
  • "And why should we anticipate the evils of futurity, my dear friend?" sai_he. "Let us think only of the present. I am anxious now to know if the stor_as spared my fine kitchen-garden."
  • "You must wait a little," said I. "I am as uneasy as you, for my maize-
  • plantations, my sugar-canes, and my corn-fields."
  • At last, one night, the storm ceased, the clouds passed away, and the moo_howed herself in all her glory. How delighted we were! My wife got me t_emove the large planks I had placed before the opening, and the brigh_oonbeams streamed through the branches of the tree into our room; a gentl_reeze refreshed us, and so delighted were we in gazing on that sky o_romise, that we could scarcely bear to go to bed, but spent half the night i_rojects for the morrow; the good mother alone said, that she could not joi_n our excursions. Jack and Francis smiled at each other, as they thought o_heir litter, which was now nearly finished.
  • A bright sun awoke us early next morning. Fritz and Jack had requested me t_llow them to finish their carriage; so, leaving Ernest with his mother, _ook Francis with me to ascertain the damage done to the garden at Tent House,
  • about which his mother was so anxious. We easily crossed the bridge, but th_ater had carried away some of the planks; however, my little boy leaped fro_ne plank to another with great agility, though the distance was sometime_onsiderable. He was so proud of being my sole companion, that he scarcel_ouched the ground as he ran on before me; but he had a sad shock when he go_o the garden; of which we could not find the slightest trace. All wa_estroyed; the walks, the fine vegetable-beds, the plantations of pines an_elons—all had vanished. Francis stood like a marble statue, as pale an_till; till, bursting into tears, he recovered himself.
  • "Oh! my good mamma," said he; "what will she say when she hears of thi_isfortune? But she need not know it, papa," added he, after a pause; "i_ould distress her too much; and if you and my brothers will help me, we wil_epair the damage before she can walk. The plants may not be so large; but th_arth is moist, and they will grow quickly, and I will work hard to get i_nto order."
  • I embraced my dear boy, and promised him this should be our first work. _eared we should have many other disasters to repair; but a child of twelv_ears old gave me an example of resignation and courage. We agreed to com_ext day to begin our labour, for the garden was too well situated for me t_bandon it. It was on a gentle declivity, at the foot of the rocks, whic_heltered it from the north wind, and was conveniently watered from th_ascade. I resolved to add a sort of bank, or terrace, to protect it from th_iolent rains; and Francis was so pleased with the idea, that he began t_ather the large stones which were scattered over the garden, and to carr_hem to the place where I wished to build my terrace. He would have worked al_ay, if I would have allowed him; but I wanted to look after my youn_lantations, my sugar-canes, and my fields, and, after the destruction I ha_ust witnessed, I had everything to fear. I proceeded to the avenue of fruit-
  • trees that led to Tent House, and was agreeably surprised. All were half-bowe_o the ground, as well as the bamboos that supported them, but few were tor_p; and I saw that my sons and I, with the labour of two or three days, coul_estore them. Some of them had already begun to bear fruit, but all wa_estroyed for this year. This was, however, a trifling loss, compared wit_hat I had anticipated; for, having no more plants of European fruits, I coul_ot have replaced them. Besides, having resolved to inhabit Tent House a_resent, entirely,—being there defended from storms,—it was absolutel_ecessary to contrive some protection from the heat. My new plantation_fforded little shade yet, and I trembled to propose to my wife to come an_nhabit these burning rocks. Francis was gathering some of the beautifu_nknown flowers of the island for his mother, and when he had formed hi_osegay, bringing it to me,—
  • "See, papa," said he, "how the rain has refreshed these flowers. I wish i_ould rain still, it is so dreadfully hot here. Oh! if we had but a littl_hade."
  • "That is just what I was thinking of, my dear," said I; "we shall have shad_nough when my trees are grown; but, in the mean time—"
  • "In the mean time, papa," said Francis, "I will tell you what you must do. Yo_ust make a very long, broad colonnade before our house, covered with cloth,
  • and open before, so that mamma may have air and shade at once."
  • I was pleased with my son's idea, and promised him to construct a galler_oon, and call it the _Franciade_ in honour of him. My little boy wa_elighted that his suggestion should be thus approved, and begged me not t_ell his mamma, as he wished to surprise her, as much as his brothers did wit_heir carriage; and he hoped the _Franciade_ might be finished before sh_isited Tent House. I assured him I would be silent; and we took the roa_ence, talking about our new colonnade. I projected making it in the mos_imple and easy way. A row of strong bamboo-canes planted at equal distance_long the front of our house, and united by a plank of wood at the top cu_nto arches between the canes; others I would place sloping from the rock, t_hich I would fasten them by iron cramps; these were to be covered wit_ailcloth, prepared with the elastic gum, and well secured to the plank. Thi_uilding would not take much time, and I anticipated the pleasure of my wif_hen she found out that it was an invention of her little favourite, who, of _ild and reflecting disposition, was beloved by us all. As we walked along, w_aw something approaching, that Francis soon discovered to be his brothers,
  • with their new carriage; and, concluding that his mamma occupied it, h_astened to meet them, lest they should proceed to the garden. But on ou_pproach, we discovered that Ernest was in the litter, which was borne by th_ow before, on which Fritz was mounted, and by the ass behind, with Jack o_t. Ernest declared the conveyance was so easy and delightful that he shoul_ften take his mother's place.
  • "I like that very much," said Jack; "then I will take care that we wil_arness the onagra and the buffalo for you, and they will give you a prett_olting, I promise you. The cow and ass are only for mamma. Look, papa, is i_ot complete? We wished to try it as soon as we finished it, so we got Ernes_o occupy it, while mother was asleep."
  • Ernest declared it only wanted two cushions, one to sit upon, the other t_ecline against, to make it perfect; and though I could not help smiling a_is love of ease, I encouraged the notion, in order to delay my wife'_xcursion till our plans were completed. I then put Francis into the carriag_eside his brother; and ordering Fritz and Jack to proceed with their equipag_o inspect our corn-fields, I returned to my wife, who was still sleeping. O_er awaking, I told her the garden and plantations would require a few days'
  • labour to set them in order, and I should leave Ernest, who was not yet i_ondition to be a labourer, to nurse her and read to her. My sons returned i_he evening, and gave me a melancholy account of our corn-fields; the corn wa_ompletely destroyed, and we regretted this the more, as we had very littl_eft for seed. We had anticipated a feast of _real bread_ , but we wer_bliged to give up all hope for this year, and to content ourselves with ou_akes of cassava, and with potatoes. The maize had suffered less, and migh_ave been a resource for us, but the large, hard grain was so very difficul_o reduce to flour fine enough for dough. Fritz often recurred to th_ecessity of building a mill near the cascade at Tent House; but this was no_he work of a moment, and we had time to consider of it; for at present we ha_o corn to grind. As I found Francis had let his brothers into all ou_ecrets, it was agreed that I, with Fritz, Jack, and Francis, should procee_o Tent House next morning. Francis desired to be of the party, that he migh_irect the laying out of the garden, he said, with an important air, as he ha_een his mother's assistant on its formation. We arranged our bag o_egetable-seeds, and having bathed my wife's foot with a simple embrocation,
  • we offered our united prayers, and retired to our beds to prepare ourselve_or the toils of the next day.