In a few days we completed the _Grotto Ernestine_. It contained som_talactites; but not so many as our former grotto. We found, however, _eautiful block of salt, which resembled white marble, of which Ernest forme_ sort of altar, supported by four pillars, on which he placed a pretty vas_f citron-wood, which he had turned himself, and in which he arranged some o_he beautiful _erica_ which had been the cause of his discovering the grotto.
It was one of those occasions when his feelings overcame his natura_ndolence, when he became for a time the most active of the four, and brough_orward all his resources, which were many. This indolence was merel_hysical; when not excited by any sudden circumstance, or by some fancy whic_oon assumed the character of a passion, he loved ease, and to enjoy lif_ranquilly in study. He improved his mind continually, as well by hi_xcellent memory, as by natural talent and application. He reflected, mad_xperiments, and was always successful. He had at last succeeded in making hi_other a very pretty bonnet. He had also composed some verses, which wer_ntended to celebrate her visit to Tent House; and this joyful day being a_ast fixed, the boys all went over, the evening before, to make thei_reparations. The flowers that the storm had spared were gathered to ornamen_he fountains, the altar, and the table, on which was placed an excellent col_inner, entirely prepared by themselves. Fritz supplied and roasted th_ame,—a fine bustard, the flesh of which resembles a turkey, and a brace o_artridges. Ernest brought pines, melons, and figs; Jack should have supplie_he fish, but was able only to procure oysters, crabs, and turtles' eggs.
Francis had the charge of the dessert, which consisted of a dish o_trawberries, honeycomb, and the cream of the cocoa-nut. I had contributed _ottle of Canary wine, that we might drink mamma's health. All was arranged o_ table in the middle of the _Franciade_ , and my sons returned to accompan_he expedition next day.
The morning was beautiful, and the sun shone brightly on our emigration. M_ife was anxious to set out, expecting she should have to return to her aëria_welling. Though her leg and foot were better, she still walked feebly, an_he begged us to harness the cow and ass to the cart, and to lead them a_ently as possible.
"I will only go a little way the first day," said she, "for I am not stron_nough to visit Tent House yet."
We felt quite convinced she would change her opinion when once in her litter.
I wished to carry her down the staircase; but she declined, and descended ver_ell with the help of my arm. When the door was opened, and she found hersel_nce more in the open air, surrounded by her children, she thanked God, wit_ears of gratitude, for her recovery, and all his mercies to us. Then th_retty osier carriage arrived. They had harnessed the cow and young bull t_t; Francis answering for the docility of Valiant, provided he guided hi_imself. Accordingly, he was mounted before, his cane in his hand, and his bo_nd quiver on his back, very proud to be mamma's charioteer. My other thre_oys mounted on their animals, were ready before, to form the advanced guard,
while I proposed to follow, and watch over the whole. My wife was moved eve_o tears, and could not cease admiring her new carriage, which Fritz and Jac_resented to her as their own work. Francis, however, boasted that he ha_arded the cotton for the soft cushion on which she was to sit, and I, that _ad made it. I then lifted her in, and as soon as she was seated Ernest cam_o put her new bonnet on her head, which greatly delighted her; it was of fin_traw, and so thick and firm that it might even defend her from the rain. Bu_hat pleased her most was, that it was the shape worn by the Swiss peasants i_he Canton of Vaud, where my dear wife had resided some time in her youth. Sh_hanked all her dear children, and felt so easy and comfortable in her ne_onveyance, that we arrived at Family Bridge without her feeling the leas_atigue. Here we stopped.
"Would you like to cross here, my dear?" said I; "and as we are very near,
look in at your convenient Tent House, where you will have no staircase t_scend. And we should like to know, too, if you approve of our management o_our garden,"
"As you please," said she; "in fact, I am so comfortable in my carriage, tha_f it were necessary, I could make the tour of the island. I should like t_ee my house again; but it will be so very hot at this season, that we mus_ot stay long."
"But you must dine there, my dear mother," said Fritz; "it is too late t_eturn to dinner at Falcon's Nest; consider, too, the fatigue it woul_ccasion you."
"I would be very glad, indeed, my dear," said she; "but what are we to din_n? We have prepared no provision, and I fear we shall all be hungry."
"What matter," said Jack, "provided you dine with us? You must take you_hance. I will go and get some oysters, that we may not die with hunger;" an_ff he galloped on his buffalo. Fritz followed him, on some pretence, o_ightfoot. Mamma wished she had brought a vessel to carry some water from th_iver, for she knew we could get none at Tent House. Francis reminded her w_ould milk the cow, and she was satisfied, and enjoyed her journey much. A_ast we arrived before the colonnade. My wife was dumb with wonder for som_oments.
"Where am I, and what do I see?" said she, when she could speak.
"You see the _Franciade_ , mamma," said her little boy; "this beautifu_olonnade was my invention, to protect you from the heat; stay, read what i_ritten above: _Francis to his dear mother. May this colonnade, which i_alled the Franciade, be to her a temple of happiness._ Now mamma, lean on me,
and come and see my brothers' gifts—much better than mine;" and he led her t_ack's pavilion, who was standing by the fountain. He held a shell in hi_and, which he filled with water, and drank, saying, "To the health of th_ueen of the Island; may she have no more accidents, and live as long as he_hildren! Long live Queen Elizabeth, and may she come every day to _Jackia_ ,
to drink her son Jack's health."
I supported my wife, and was almost as much affected as herself. She wept an_rembled with joy and surprise. Jack and Ernest then joined their hands, an_arried her to the other pavilion, where Fritz was waiting to receive her, an_he same scene of tenderness ensued. "Accept this pavilion, dear mother," sai_e; "and may _Fritzia_ ever make you think on Fritz."
The delighted mother embraced them all, and observing Ernest's name was no_ommemorated by any trophy, thanked him again for her beautiful bonnet. Sh_hen drank some of the delicious water of the fountain, and returned to sea_erself at the repast, which was another surprise for her. We all made a_xcellent dinner; and at the dessert, I handed my Canary wine round in shells;
and then Ernest rose and sung us very prettily, to a familiar air, some littl_erses he had composed:—
> On this festive happy day,
> Let us pour our grateful lay;
> Since Heaven has hush'd our mother's pain,
> And given her to her sons again.
> Then from this quiet, lovely home
> Never, never, may we roam.
> All we love around us smile:
> Joyful is our desert isle.
> When o'er our mother's couch we bent,
> Fervent prayers to Heaven we sent,
> And God has spared that mother dear,
> To bless her happy children here.
> Then from this quiet, lovely home,
> Never, never, may we roam;
> All we love around us smile,
> Joyful is our desert isle.
We all joined in the chorus, and none of us thought of the ship, of Europe, o_f anything that was passing in the world. The island was our universe, an_ent House was a palace we would not have exchanged for any the worl_ontained. This was one of those happy days that God grants us sometimes o_arth, to give us an idea of the bliss of Heaven; and most fervently did w_hank Him, at the end of our repast, for all his mercies and blessings to us.
After dinner, I told my wife she must not think of returning to Falcon's Nest,
with all its risks of storms and the winding staircase, and she could no_etter recompense her sons for their labours than by living among them. Sh_as of the same opinion, and was very glad to be so near her kitchen and he_tores, and to be able to walk alone with the assistance of a stick in th_olonnade, which she could do already; but she made me promise to leav_alcon's Nest as it was. It would be a pretty place to walk to, and besides,
this castle in the air was her own invention. We agreed that this very evenin_he should take possession of her own pretty room, with the good felt carpet,
on which she could walk without fear; and that the next day, I should go wit_y elder sons and the animals to bring the cart, such utensils as we needed,
and above all, the poultry. Our dogs always followed their masters, as well a_he monkey and jackal, and they were so domesticated, we had no trouble wit_hem.
I then prevailed on my wife to go into her room and rest for an hour, afte_hich we were to visit the garden. She complied, and after her repose foun_er four sons ready to carry her in her litter as in a sedan-chair. They too_are to bring her straight to the grotto, where I was waiting for her. Thi_as a new surprise for the good mother. She could not sufficiently express he_stonishment and delight, when Jack and Francis, taking their flageolets,
accompanied their brothers, who sung the following verse, which Ernest ha_dded to his former attempt.
> Dear mother, let this gift be mine,
> Accept the Grotto Ernestine.
> May all your hours be doubly blest
> Within this tranquil place of rest.
> Then from this quiet, lovely home
> Never, never may we roam;
> All we love around us smile.
> Joyful is our desert isle!
What cause had we to rejoice in our children! we could not but shed tears t_itness their affection and perfect happiness.
Below the vase of flowers, on the block of salt, Ernest had written:—
> Ernest, assisted by his brother Fritz,
> Has prepared this grotto,
> As a retreat for his beloved mother,
> When she visits her garden.
Ernest then conducted his mother to one of the benches, which he had covere_ith soft moss, as a seat for her, and there she rested at her ease to hea_he history of the discovery of the grotto. It was now my turn to offer m_resent; the garden, the embankment, the pond, and the arbour. She walked,
supported by my arm, to view her little empire, and her delight was extreme;
the pond, which enabled her to water her vegetables, particularly pleased her,
as well as her shady arbour, under which she found all her gardening tools,
ornamented with flowers, and augmented by two light _watering-pans,_onstructed by Jack and Francis, from two gourds. They had canes for spouts,
with the gourd bottles at the end, pierced with holes, through which the wate_ame in the manner of a watering-pan. The embankment was also a grea_urprise; she proposed to place plants of pines and melon on it, and I agree_o it. Truly did she rejoice at the appearance of the vegetables, whic_romised us some excellent European provision, a great comfort to her. Afte_xpressing her grateful feelings, she returned to the grotto, and seatin_erself in her sedan-chair, returned to Tent House, to enjoy the repose sh_eeded, after such a day of excitement. We did not, however, lie down befor_e had together thanked God for the manifold blessings he had given us, an_or the pleasure of that day.
"If I had been in Europe," said my dear wife, "on the festival of my recovery,
I should have received a nosegay, a ribbon, or some trinket; here I have ha_resented a carriage, a colonnade, pavilions, ornamental fountains, a larg_rotto, a garden, a pond, an arbour, and a straw bonnet!"