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Chapter 53

  • We were never weary with caressing our dear Francis. We were very anxious t_earn from him all the particulars of the arrival of the savages in ou_sland, the seizure of his mother and himself, their voyage, and thei_esidence here, and who were the friends they had met with: but it wa_mpossible, his tawny majesty never left us for a moment, and played with th_oy as if he had been a child himself. Francis showed him all the toys fro_ur chest; he was extremely amused with the small mirrors, and the dolls. _ainted carriage, driven by a coachman who raised his whip when the wheel_urned, appeared miraculous to him. He uttered screams of delight as h_ointed it out to his followers. The ticking of my watch also charmed him; an_s I had several more, I gave him it, showing him how to wind it up. But th_irst time he tried to do it, he broke the spring, and when it was silent h_ared no longer for it, but threw it on one side. However, as the gold wa_ery glittering, he took it up again, and suspending it from the handkerchie_hat was wound round his head, it hung over his nose, and formed a strikin_rnament. Francis showed him his face in a mirror, which royal amusement mad_im laugh heartily. He asked the missionary if it was the invisible an_lmighty God who had made all these wonderful things. Mr. Willis replied, tha_t was he who gave men the power to make them. I do not know whether Bara-
  • ourou comprehended this, but he remained for some time in deep thought. _rofited by this to ask the missionary what were the words which had terrifie_hem so when they wished to keep my son from me, and which had compelled the_o surrender him?
  • "I told them," answered he, "that the Almighty and unseen God, of whom I spok_o them daily, ordered them, by my voice, to restore a son to his father; _hreatened them with his anger if they refused, and promised them his mercy i_hey obeyed; and they did obey. The first step is gained, they know the dut_f adoring and obeying God; every other truth proceeds from this, and I hav_o doubt that my savages will one day become good Christians. My method o_nstruction is suited to their limited capacity. I prove to them that thei_ooden idols, made by their own hands, could neither create, hear them, no_rotect them. I have shown them God in his works, have declared him to be a_ood as he is powerful, hating evil, cruelty, murder, and cannibalism, an_hey have renounced all these. In their late wars they have either released o_dopted their prisoners. If they carried off your wife and son, they intende_t for a good action, as you will soon understand."
  • I could not ask Francis any questions, as Bara-ourou continued playing wit_im, so turning to Ernest, I asked him what passed when the savages joine_im?
  • "When you left me," said he, "I amused myself by searching for shells, plants,
  • and zoophytes, with which the rocks abound, and I have added a good deal to m_ollection. I was at some distance from the pinnace, when I heard a confuse_ound of voices, and concluded that the savages were coming; in fact, ten or _ozen issued from the road you had entered, and I cannot comprehend how yo_issed meeting them. Fearing they would attempt to take possession of m_innace, I returned speedily, and seized a loaded musket, though I determine_o use it only to defend my own life, or the pinnace. I stood on the deck i_n attitude as bold and imposing as I could command; but I did not succeed i_ntimidating them. They leaped, one after the other, on deck, and surrounde_e, uttering loud cries. I could not discover whether they were cries of jo_r of fury; but I showed no fear, and addressed them in a friendly tone, i_ome words from Capt. Cook's vocabulary; but they did not seem to comprehen_e, neither could I understand any of theirs except  _écroué_  (father), whic_hey frequently repeated, and  _tara-tauo_  (woman). One of them had Fritz'_un, from which I concluded they were of the party that had carried off Jack.
  • I took it, and showing him mine, endeavoured to make him understand that i_lso belonged to me. He thought I wished to exchange, and readily offered t_eturn it, and take mine. This would not have suited me; Fritz's gun wa_ischarged, and I could not let them have mine loaded. To prevent accident,
  • surrounded as I was, I decided to give them a fright, and seeing a bird flyin_bove us, I took aim so correctly, that my shot brought down the bird, a blu_igeon. They were for a moment stupified with terror; then immediately al_eft the pinnace, except Parabéry; he seemed to be pleased with me, ofte_ointing to the sky, saying  _mété_ , which means  _good_ , I believe. Hi_omrades were examining the dead bird. Some touched their own shoulders, t_ry if they were wounded as well as the bird and Jack had been, whic_onvinced me they had carried him off. I tried to make Parabéry understand m_uspicion, and I think I succeeded, for he made me an affirmative sign,
  • pointing to the interior of the island, and touching his shoulder with an ai_f pity. I took several things from the chest, and gave them to him, makin_igns that he should show them to the others, and induce them to return to me.
  • He comprehended me very well, and complied with my wishes. I was soo_urrounded by the whole party, begging of me. I was busy distributing beads,
  • mirrors, and small knives when you came, and we are now excellent friends. Tw_r three of them returned to the wood, and brought me cocoa-nuts and bananas.
  • But we must be careful to hide our guns, of which they have a holy horror. An_ow, dear father, I think we ought not to call these people  _savages_. The_ave the simplicity of childhood; a trifle irritates them, a trifle appease_hem; they are grateful and affectionate. I find them neither cruel no_arbarous. They have done me no harm, when they might easily have killed me,
  • thrown me into the sea, or carried me away."
  • "We must not," said I, "judge of all savage people by these, who have had th_enefit of a virtuous teacher. Mr. Willis has already cast into their heart_he seeds of that divine religion, which commands us to do unto others as w_ould they should do unto us, and to pardon and love our enemies."
  • While we were discoursing, we arrived at a spot where the canoes had alread_anded; we were about to do the same, but the king did not seem inclined t_uit the pinnace, but continued speaking to the missionary. I was stil_earful that he wished to keep Francis, to whom he seemed to be more and mor_ttached, holding him constantly on his knee; but at last, to my great joy, h_laced him in my arms.
  • "He keeps his word with you," said Mr. Willis. "You may carry him to hi_other; but, in return, he wishes you to permit him to go in your pinnace t_is abode on the other side of the strait, that he may show it to the women,
  • and he promises to bring it back; perhaps there would be danger in refusin_im."
  • I agreed with him; but still there was a difficulty in granting this request.
  • If he chose to keep it, how should we return? Besides, it contained our onl_arrel of powder, and all our articles of traffic, and how could we expect i_ould escape pillage?
  • Mr. Willis confessed he had not yet been able to cure their fondness fo_heft, and suggested, as the only means of security, that I should accompan_he king, and bring the pinnace back, which was then to be committed to th_harge of Parabéry, for whose honesty he would be responsible.
  • Here was another delay; the day was so far advanced, that I might not,
  • perhaps, be able to return before night. Besides, though my wife did not kno_e were so near her, she knew they had carried away Francis, and she woul_ertainly be very uneasy about him. Bara-ourou looked very impatient, and a_t was necessary to answer him, I decided at once; I resigned Francis to th_issionary, entreating him to take him to his mother, to prepare her for ou_pproach, and to relate the cause of our delay. I told my sons, it was m_esire they should accompany me. Fritz agreed rather indignantly, and Ernes_ith calmness. Mr. Willis told the king, that in gratitude to him, and to d_im honour, I and my sons wished to accompany him. He appeared much flattere_t this, made my sons seat themselves on each side of him, endeavoured t_ronounce their names, and finished by exchanging names as a token o_riendship, calling Fritz,  _Bara_ ; Ernest,  _Ourou_ ; and himself, Fritz-
  • Ernest. Mr. Willis and Francis left us; our hearts were sad to see them g_here all our wishes centred; but the die was cast. The king gave the signa_o depart; the canoes took the lead, and we followed. In an hour we saw th_oyal palace. It was a tolerably large hut, constructed of bamboos and palm-
  • leaves, very neatly. Several women were seated before it, busily employed i_aking the short petticoats of reeds which they all wore. Their hair was ver_arefully braided in tufts on the crown of the head; none were good-looking,
  • except two daughters of the king, about ten and twelve years old, who, thoug_ery dark, were graceful: these, no doubt, he intended for wives for m_rancis. We disembarked about a hundred yards from the hut. The women came t_eet us, carrying a branch of the mimosa in each hand; they then performed _ingular kind of dance, entwining their arms and shaking their feet, but neve_oving from the spot; this they accompanied with a wild chant, which wa_nything but musical. The king seemed pleased with it; and, calling his wive_nd daughters, he showed them his  _tayo, Bara_  and  _Ourou_ , callin_imself Fritz-Ernest; he then joined in the dance, dragging my sons with him,
  • who managed it pretty well. As for me, he treated me with great respect,
  • always calling me  _écroué_ —father, and made me sit down on a large trunk o_ tree before his house; which was, doubtless, his throne, for he placed m_here with great ceremony, rubbing his royal nose against mine. After th_ance was concluded, the women retired to the hut, and returned to offer us _ollation, served up in the shells of cocoa-nuts. It was a sort of paste,
  • composed, I believe, of different sorts of fruit, mixed up with a kind o_lour and the milk of the cocoa-nut. This mixture was detestable to me; but _ade up for it with some kernel of cocoa-nuts and the bread-fruit. Perceivin_hat I liked these, Bara-ourou ordered some of them to be gathered, an_arried to the pinnace.
  • The hut was backed by a wood of palms and other trees, so that our provisio_as readily made. Still there was time for my sons to run to the pinnace,
  • attended by Parabéry, and bring from the chest some beads, mirrors, scissors,
  • needles and pins, to distribute to the ladies. When they brought the frui_hey had gathered, I made a sign to Bara-ourou to take them to see th_innace; he called them, and they followed him timidly, and submitting to hi_ishes in everything, They carried the fruit two and two, in a sort o_askets, very skilfully woven in rushes, which appeared to have a Europea_orm. They had no furniture in their dwelling but mats, which were doubtles_heir beds, and some trunks of trees, serving for seats and tables. Severa_askets were suspended to the bamboo which formed the walls, and also lances,
  • slings, clubs, and other similar weapons; from which I concluded they were _ation of warriors. I did not observe much, however, for my thoughts were i_he future, and I was very impatient for our departure. I hastened to th_innace, and my sons distributed their gifts to the females, who did not dar_o express their delight; but it was evident in their countenances. The_mmediately began to adorn themselves with their presents, and appeared t_alue the mirrors much more than their husbands had done. They soon understoo_heir use, and employed them to arrange with taste the strings of beads roun_heir necks, heads, and arms.
  • At last the signal was given for our departure; I rubbed my nose against tha_f the king. I added to my presents a packet of nails, and one of gil_uttons, which he seemed to covet. I went on board my pinnace, and, conducte_y the good Parabéry, we took our way to that part of the coast where the dea_nes resided whom I so anxiously desired to see. Some of the savage_ccompanied us in their own canoe; we should have preferred having only ou_riend Parabéry, but we were not the masters.
  • Favoured by the wind, we soon reached the shore we had formerly quitted, an_ound our excellent missionary waiting for us.
  • "Come," said he, "you are now going to receive your reward. Your wife an_hildren impatiently expect you; they would have come to meet you, but you_ife is still weak, and Jack suffering—your presence will soon cure them."
  • I was too much affected to answer. Fritz gave me his arm, as much to suppor_e as to restrain himself from rushing on before. Ernest did the same with Mr.
  • Willis; his mildness pleased the good man, who also saw his taste for study,
  • and tried to encourage it. After half an hour's walk, the missionary told u_e were now near our good friends. I saw no sign of a habitation, nothing bu_rees and rocks; at last I saw a light smoke among the trees, and at tha_oment Francis, who had been watching, ran to meet us.
  • "Mamma is expecting you," said he, showing us the way through a grove o_hrubs, thick enough to hide entirely the entrance into a kind of grotto; w_ad to stoop to pass into it. It resembled much the entrance of the bear'_en, which we found in the remote part of our island. A mat of rushes covere_he opening, yet permitted the light to penetrate it. Francis removed th_atting, calling—
  • "Mamma, here we are!"
  • A lady, apparently about twenty-even years of age, of mild and pleasin_ppearance, came forward to meet me. She a clothed in a rob mad of palm-leave_ied together, which reached from her throat to her feet, leaving he_eautiful arms uncovered. Her light hair was braided and fastened up round he_ead.
  • "You are welcome," said she, taking my hand; "you will be my poor friend'_est physician."
  • We entered, and saw my dear wife seated on a bed of moss and leaves; she wep_bundantly, pointing out to me our dear boy by her side. A little nymph o_leven or twelve years old was endeavouring to raise him.
  • "Here are your papa and brothers, Jack," said she; "you are very happy i_aving what I have not: but your papa will be mine, and you shall be m_rother."
  • Jack thanked her affectionately. Fritz and Ernest, kneeling beside the couch,
  • embraced their mother. Fritz begged her to forgive him for hurting hi_rother; and then tenderly inquired of Jack after his wound. For me, I canno_escribe my gratitude and agitation; I could scarce utter a word to my dea_ife, who, on her part, sunk down quite overcome on her bed. The lady, wh_as, I understood, named Madame Hirtel, approached to assist her. When sh_ecovered, she presented to me Madame Hirtel and her two daughters. Th_ldest, Sophia, was attending on Jack; Matilda, who was about ten or eleve_ears of age, was playing with Francis; while the good missionary, on hi_nees, thanked God for having re-united us.
  • "And for life," cried my dear wife. "My dear husband, I well knew you woul_et out to seek me; but how could I anticipate that you would ever succeed i_inding me? We will now separate no more; this beloved friend has agreed t_ccompany us to the Happy Island, as I intend to call it, if I ever have th_appiness to reach it again with all I love in the world. How graciously Go_ermits us to derive blessings from our sorrows. See what my trial ha_roduced me: a friend and two dear daughters, for henceforward we are only on_amily,"
  • We were mutually delighted with this arrangement, and entreated Mr. Willis t_isit us often, and to come and live in the Happy Island when his mission wa_ompleted.
  • "I will consent," said he, "if you will come and assist me in my duties; fo_hich purpose you and your sons must acquire the language of these islanders.
  • We are much nearer your island than you think, for you took a very circuitou_ourse, and Parabéry, who knows it, declares it is only a day's voyage with _air wind. And, moreover, he tells me, that he is so much delighted with yo_nd your sons, that he cannot part with you, and wishes me to obtain you_ermission to accompany you, and remain with you. He will be exceedingl_seful to you: will teach the language to you all, and will be a ready mean_f communication between us."
  • I gladly agreed to take Parabéry with us as a friend; but it was no time ye_o think of departing, as Mr. Willis wished to have Jack some days longe_nder his care; we therefore arranged that I and my two sons should become hi_uests, as his hut was but a short distance off. We had many things to hear;
  • but, as my wife was yet too weak to relate her adventures, we resolved firs_o have the history of Madame Hirtel. Night coming on, the missionary lighte_ gourd lamp, and, after a light collation of bread-fruit, Madame Hirtel bega_er story.