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Chapter 43

  • THE next and following days were spent in removing our furniture and property,
  • particularly our poultry, which had multiplied greatly. We also constructed _oultry-yard, at a sufficient distance from our house to save our sleep fro_isturbance, and still so near that we could easily tend them. We made it as _ontinuation of the colonnade, and on the same plan, but enclosed in the fron_y a sort of wire trellis-work, which Fritz and Jack made wonderfully well.
  • Fritz, who had a turn for architecture and mechanics, gave me some good hints,
  • especially one, which we put into execution. This was to carry the water fro_he basin of the fountain through the poultry-yard, which enabled us also t_ave a little pond for our ducks. The pigeons had their abode above the hen-
  • roosts, in some pretty baskets, which Ernest and Francis made, similar t_hose made by the savages of the Friendly Isles, of which they had see_ngravings in Cook's Voyages. When all was finished, my wife was delighted t_hink that even in the rainy season she could attend to her feathered famil_nd collect their eggs.
  • "What a difference," said she, admiring the elegance of our buildings,—"what _ifference between this Tent House and the original dwelling that suggeste_he name to us, and which was our only shelter four years ago. What _urprising progress luxury has made with us in that time! Do you remember, m_ear, the barrel which served us for a table, and the oyster-shells fo_poons, the tent where we slept, crowded together on dried leaves, and withou_ndressing, and the river half a mile off, where we were obliged to go t_rink if we were thirsty? Compared to what we were then, we are now grea_lords_ "
  • "Kings, you mean, mamma," said Jack, "for all this island is ours, and it i_uite like a kingdom."
  • "And how many millions of subjects does Prince Jack reckon in the kingdom o_is august father?" said I.
  • Prince Jack declared he had not yet counted the parrots, kangaroos, agoutis,
  • and monkeys. The laughter of his brothers stopped him. I then agreed with m_ife that our luxuries had increased; but I explained to her that this was th_esult of our industry. All civilized nations have commenced as we did;
  • necessity has developed the intellect which God has given to man alone, and b_egrees the arts have progressed, and knowledge has extended more perhaps tha_s conducive to happiness. What appeared luxury to us now was still simplicit_ompared with the luxury of towns, or even villages, among civilized nations.
  • My wife declared she had everything she wished for, and should not know wha_ore to ask for, as we now had only to rest and enjoy our happiness.
  • I declared against spending our time in rest and indolence, as the sure mean_f ending our pleasure; and I well knew my dear wife was, like myself, a_nemy to idleness; but she dreaded any more laborious undertakings.
  • "But, mamma," said Fritz, "you must let me make a mill under the cascade; i_ill be so useful when our corn grows, and even now for the maize. I als_hink of making an oven in the kitchen, which will be very useful for you t_ake your bread in."
  • "These would indeed be useful labours," said the good mother, smiling; "bu_an you accomplish them?"
  • "I hope so," said Fritz, "with the help of God and that of my dear brothers."
  • Ernest promised his best aid, in return for his brother's kind services i_orming his grotto, only requesting occasional leisure for his natural histor_ollections. His mother did not see the utility of these collections, but,
  • willing to indulge her kind and attentive Ernest, she offered, till she coul_alk well, to assist him in arranging and labelling his plants, which were ye_n disorder, and he gratefully consented. In procuring her some paper for th_urpose, of which I had brought a large quantity from the vessel, I brough_ut an unopened packet, amongst which was a piece of some fabric, neithe_aper nor stuff apparently. We examined it together, and at length remembere_t was a piece of stuff made at Otaheite, which our captain had bought of _ative at an island where we had touched on our voyage. Fritz appearing muc_nterested in examining this cloth, Ernest said gravely, "I can teach you ho_o make it;" and immediately bringing _Cook's Voyages_ , where a detaile_escription is given, he proceeded to read it. Fritz was disappointed to fin_t could only be made of the bark of three trees—of these our island produce_nly one. These trees were the mulberry-tree, the bread fruit, and the wil_ig. We had the last in abundance, but of the two former we had not ye_iscovered a single plant. Fritz was not, however, discouraged. "They ought t_e here," said he, "since they are found in all the South-Sea Islands. Perhap_e may find them on the other side of the rocks, where I saw some super_nknown trees from the height where we discovered the grotto; and who know_ut I may find my pretty gazelle there again. The rogue can leap better than _an over those rocks. I had a great wish to descend them, but found i_mpossible; some are very high and perpendicular; others have overhangin_ummits; I might, however, get round as you did by the pass, between th_orrent and the rocks at the Great Bay."
  • Jack offered to be his guide, even with his eyes shut, into that rich countr_here he conquered and captured his buffalo; and Ernest begged to be of th_arty. As this was an expedition I had long projected, I agreed to accompan_hem next day, their mother being content to have Francis left with her as _rotector. I cautioned Fritz not to fire off his gun when we approached th_uffaloes, as any show of hostility might render them furious; otherwise th_nimals, unaccustomed to man, have no fear of him, and will not harm him. "I_eneral," added I, "I cannot sufficiently recommend to you to be careful o_our powder; we have not more than will last us a year, and there may be _ecessity to have recourse to it for our defence."
  • "I have a plan for making it," said Fritz, who never saw a difficulty i_nything. "I know it is composed of charcoal, saltpetre, and sulphur—and w_ught to find all these materials in the island. It is only necessary t_ombine them, and to form it into little round grains. This is my onl_ifficulty; but I will consider it over; and I have my mill to think on first.
  • I have a confused recollection of a powder manufactory at Berne: there wa_ome machinery which went by water; this machinery moved some hammers, whic_ounded and mixed the ingredients—was not this the case, father?"
  • "Something like it," said I; "but we have many things to do before makin_owder. First, we must go to sleep; we must set out before daybreak, if w_ntend to return to-morrow evening." We did indeed rise before the sun, whic_ould not rise for us. The sky was very cloudy, and shortly we had an abundan_nd incessant rain, which obliged us to defer our journey, and put us all i_ad humour, but my wife, who was not sorry to keep us with her, and wh_eclared this gracious rain would water her garden, and bring it forward.
  • Fritz was the first who consoled himself; he thought on nothing but buildin_ills, and manufacturing gunpowder. He begged me to draw him a mill; this wa_ery easy, so far as regards the exterior,—that is, the wheel, and th_aterfall that sets it in motion; but the interior,—the disposition of th_heels, the stones to bruise the grain, the sieve, or bolter, to separate th_lour from the bran; all this complicated machinery was difficult to explain;
  • but he comprehended all, adding his usual expression,—"I will try, and I shal_ucceed." Not to lose any time, and to profit by this rainy day, he began b_aking sieves of different materials, which he fastened to a circle of plian_ood, and tried by passing through them the flour of the cassava; he made som_ith sailcloth, others with the hair of the onagra, which is very long an_trong, and some of the fibres of bark. His mother admired his work, which h_ontinued to improve more and more; she assured him the sieve would b_ufficient for her; it was useless to have the trouble of building a mill.
  • "But how shall we bruise the grain, mamma?" said he; "it would be tedious an_ard work."
  • "And you think there will be no hard work in building your mill?" said Jack.
  • "I am curious to see how you will contrive to form that huge stone, which i_alled the millstone."
  • "You shall see," said Fritz; "only find me the stone, and it shall soon b_one. Do you think, father, that of our rock would be suitable?"
  • I told him I thought it would be hard enough, but it would be difficult to cu_rom the rock a piece large enough for the purpose. He made his usual reply,—
  • " _I will try_. Ernest and Jack will assist me; and perhaps you, papa."
  • I declared my willingness, but named him the _master-mason;_ we must only b_is workmen. Francis was impatient to see the mill in operation. "Oh!" sai_ack, "you shall soon have that pleasure. It is a mere trifle; we only wan_tone, wood, tools, and science."
  • At the word " _science_ ," Ernest, who was reading in a corner, withou_istening to us, raised his head suddenly, saying,— "What science are you i_eed of?"
  • "Of one you know nothing of, Mr. Philosopher," said Jack. "Come, tell us, d_ou know how to build a mill?"
  • "A mill?" answered Ernest; "of what description? There are many sorts. I wa_ust looking in my dictionary for it. There are corn-mills, and powder-mills,
  • oil-mills, wind-mills, water-mills, hand-mills, and saw-mills; which do yo_ant?"
  • Fritz would have liked them all.
  • "You remind me," said I, "that we brought from the vessel a hand-mill and _aw-mill, taken to pieces, to be sure, but numbered and labelled, so that the_ould be easily united: they should be in the magazine, where you found th_nvil and iron bars; I had forgotten them."
  • "Let us go and examine them," said Fritz, lighting his lantern; "I shall ge_ome ideas from them."
  • "Rather," said his mother, "they will spare you the trouble of thinking an_abouring."
  • I sent them all four to seek these treasures, which, heaped in an obscur_orner of the store-room, had escaped my recollection. When we were alone, _eriously besought my wife not to oppose any occupations our children migh_lan, however they might seem beyond their power; the great point being, t_eep them continually occupied, so that no evil or dangerous fancies migh_ill their minds. "Let them," I said, "cut stone, fell trees, or di_ountains, and bless God that their thoughts are so innocently directed." Sh_nderstood me, and promised not to discourage them, only fearing the excessiv_atigue of these undertakings.
  • Our boys returned from the magazine, delighted with what they had found, an_oaded with work-tools. Those of the masons,—the chisel, the short hammer, an_he trowel, were not to be found, and rarely are taken out to sea; but the_ad collected a great number of carpenters' tools,—saws, planes, rules, &c.
  • And now that Fritz was a smith, he had no difficulty in making any tool h_anted. He was loaded on each shoulder, and in each hand he brought a specime_f gunpowder; one sort was in good condition, and they had found a barrel o_t; the other was much damaged by the water. Jack and Francis were als_ending under the weight of various articles; among which I saw some pieces o_he hand-mill Fritz wished to examine. Ernest, always rather idle, cam_roudly on, with a leather belt across his shoulders, to which was suspended _arge tin box for plants, and a leather portmanteau for stones, minerals, an_hells. His brothers, even Francis, rallied him unmercifully on his immens_urden; one offered to help him, another to go and bring the ass; he preserve_is grave and thoughtful air, and extended himself on a seat near his mother,
  • who was occupied with his specimens of natural history. Jack deposited hi_oad in a corner, and ran out; we soon saw him return with a huge screw-
  • machine on his head, which he placed before Ernest, saying, with an air o_espect,—
  • "I have the honour to bring for his Highness the Prince of the Idle Penguins,
  • the press for his august plants, which his Highness doubtless found too heavy;
  • and, truly, it is no little weight."
  • Ernest did not know whether to thank him or to be angry, but he decided t_oin in the jest, and, therefore, answered gravely that he was distressed tha_is Highness the Prince of the Monkeys should have taken so much trouble t_blige him, that he ought to have employed some of his docile subjects to d_t; after all, he confessed that the press, which he had not noticed, gave hi_reat pleasure, and he placed some plants in it immediately, which he ha_ollected the evening before.
  • The rain ceasing for a short time, I went with Fritz and Jack to examine ou_mbankment, and to open the sluices of the pond. We found all right, and ou_arden looking beautiful after the rain. On our return, we looked in at th_Grotto Ernestine,_ which we found inundated from the opening above. W_roposed to make a trench, or little channel, to carry off the rain-water fro_t. We returned home, and retired to bed, in hopes of being able to set ou_ext morning. We were, however, again disappointed, and for a longer perio_han we expected. The rain continued some days, and the country was again _omplete lake; we had, however, no storm or wind, and our possessions did no_uffer; so we resolved to wait patiently till the weather would permit us t_o. My wife was delighted to be in her comfortable abode, and to have us roun_er; neither did we waste the time. Ernest finished the arrangement of hi_ollection with his mother and Francis. Fritz and Jack prepared the tools tha_ould be wanted in their great undertaking—the first attempt was to be a saw-
  • mill. In order to prepare the planks they wished, a very large saw, which the_ad found amongst the tools, would serve their purpose; but it was necessar_o set it in motion by water, and here was the difficulty. Fritz made severa_odels from the thin wood of our chests, and the wheels of our guns, but the_ere too small. In the mean time, the mind of my young mechanic was exercised,
  • his ideas were enlarged and improved; and, as this science was so necessary i_ur situation, I allowed him to go on with his experiments. Notwithstandin_he rain, protected by my cloak, he went several times to the cascade to loo_ut for a place where he should place his mills to the best advantage, an_ave a constant supply of water. Ernest assisted him by his advice, an_romised his labour when it should be needed. Jack and Francis were helpin_heir mother to card cotton, of which she had made a large collection,
  • intending to spin it for our clothing; and I exercised my mechanical talent_n turning a large wheel for her, which it was necessary should revolve ver_asily, her leg being still stiff; and a reel, by which four bobbins wer_illed at once by turning a handle.
  • These different occupations aided us to pass the rainy season, which visite_s earlier this year, and did not remain so long. My wife knew something o_yeing cloth; and, some of the plants she had helped Ernest to dry having lef_heir colour on the papers, she made some experiments, and succeeded i_btaining a very pretty blue to dye our clothes with; and, with the cochinea_rom our fig-tree, a beautiful red brown, with which she had dyed for hersel_ complete dress.
  • Thus passed several weeks. Ernest read to us from some amusing or instructiv_ork every evening; and, when his collections were all put in order, he worke_t his lathe, or at the business of weaving. At last the sun appeared; w_pent some days enjoying it in our delightful colonnade. We went to visit th_rotto and the garden, where all was going on well—the embankment ha_revented the inundation. Satisfied with our work, we now fixed our departur_or the next day, once more hoping the rain would not come again to disappoin_s.