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The Baldwin Library
ADVENTURES AND TRAVELS.
.LONDON AND NEW YORK:
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND .
UNCLE JOHN I CANADA 0
,, ,, THE CAFP 33
,, ,, SHIPWRECK 3
,, ,, ICELAND 77
AN EXCURSION TO THE NORE 100
UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES AND
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND.
" WHAT are you reading in that thick book, Aunt
Lucy ?" said Arthur Campbell: I think you have
been reading it a very long time."
I am reading an account of Sweden and Lapland,"
replied his aunt, which I have found very enter-
Oh! then will you read some of it to Godfrey
and me; or, what we should like still better, tell us
some of the amusing stories out of it? "
Yes, I will with pleasure, when I have finished the
volume; I shall not be above a quarter of an hour. I
wish to return the book to the library this evening,
and will ask you and Godfrey to take it i1r
2 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
"We shall like to do that," said Arthur; ,at
pray finish the book very quickly, aunt."
Aunt Lucy laughed at the instructions to finish
quickly, and proceeded with her book. When she had
arrived at the last word, she called her two nephews
to look at the numerous prints.
Dr. Clarke's Travels in Sweden and Lapland,"
said Godfrey, reading the title aloud; "I suppose
he gives a description of the great forests of
"Yes, these forests are so immense, that the
view of them strikes every traveller. Dr. Clarke
says that the King of Sweden might be called
the King of the -Woods. Sometimes this forest
scenery is all at once changed for beautiful views of
broad cascades; many streams uniting together, and
roaring and foaming to the Gulf of Bothnia. Some-
times rude bridges, formed of trunks of trees, stripped
merely of the bark, are thrown across these cataracts."
I should be almost frightened to pass over them,"
Oh, I should not think of that," said Godfrey;
"I should be delighted to look down upon such
immense waterfalls. Are there many mountains
in Sweden, aunt?"
"Yes," replied his aunt; "in the North there are
mountains, valleys, forests, lakes, rivers, and water-
falls. In the great forests, the underwood grows so
SWEDEN AND LA.PLA.i-D. 3
luxuriantly, that the wildest animals find shelter
there, and among them the bear and the elk. Dr.
Clarke saw there also ants' nests of such prodigious
size, that till he had carefully examined them, he
could hardly believe it possible that insects could
have constructed them. They were four or five
That is not so large as the nests of the white
ants in Africa," said Arthur: "I think they are ten
or twelve feet high."
"Yes," said Godfrey; "but they are the work of
ants in hot countries; I never heard of such large
ants' nests in cold climates before. Are they made
of clay or earth, like the nests of the white ants ?"
No; they are made of small leaves, and the fibres
of the pine, heaped up together like a sugar-loaf.
Bears are very fond of the eggs of ants, and by the
havoc amongst the nests, the trace of the bear is fre-
quently discovered. There are other insects, how-
ever, which cause much greater annoyance than ants.
During the short summer of Lapland, the mosquitoes
are numerous there beyond description. Dr. Clarke
was obliged to wear two veils tied down over his face;
but that was not enough to guard his skin, for the mos-
quitoes pierced through the thick gloves that covered
his hands; and at last he was made so ill by their
attacks during the hot weather, that he consented to
haie his hands, face, and legs smeared ove, with a
4 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
mixture of tar and cream, in the same way that tho
natives tarred theirs."
"I should not have liked that at all," said Arthur.
" Go on, aunt."
"Pray, give me time to breathe, Arthur," said his
"When Dr. Clarke was travelling in Denmark, he
found that the nights were so light that he could
travel by night as well as by day; for the sun rose
so soon after setting, that it was never darker than
what we call twilight. The farther he proceeded
north, the longer did the days become. There are
parts in the north of Lapland and Sweden, where
the sun in the middle of summer never sets, but may
be seen at midnight."
"How very strange," said Arthur; but how
delightful. I should like to have it light always,
and no night. Did not Dr. Clarke enjoy it ?"
No; he says that the continual glare was pain-
ful, and that he was quite glad, when autumn re-
turned, to enjoy the darkness of an English night."
"In what part of Lapland, aunt, is the sun seen
the longest at one time, without setting ?" inquired
"In the most northern part, as you might know if
you reflected. At the North Cape it does not set-
that is, is not out of sight-from the middle of May
to the end of July; but, on the other hand, the sun
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND. 5
is not visible there from the middle of November to
the end of January."
"I wonder whether the birds go to roost in those
wonderful light nights," said Arthur.
"Dr. Clarke says that the snipes were piping all
night long, and the flowers blossoming as in the day-
time. I think there are not many small birds in
Sweden or Lapland."
I suppose the Laplanders travel in winter time
by the light of the moon or stars," said Godfrey.
"In England, our winter nights are very light, when
the ground is covered with snow."
"Yes, they are so," replied his aunt: "but the
Laplanders have another kind of light-the Aurora
Borealis, or Northern Light, as it is called. Streams
of crimson light appear as if darting from the
northern side of the sky, and illuminate the whole
of the heavens."
"Ah! that is the same beautiful light that voyagers
see in the Arctic Ocean," said Godfrey; "and now
and then a faint light resembling the Aurora Borealis
is seen in this country, is it not, aunt?"
Yes, I have witnessed it two or three times, and
once it was very brilliant; but it is usually pale, and
passes quickly away; it cannot be compared in beauty
to the Aurora Borealis of Lapland."
I suppose the houses in Sweden are usually built of
wood," said Arthur, "as there is such a quantity of it?"
6 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
Yes, they are often built entirely of wood, with-
out even the use of a saw, plane, hammer, or nail;
an axe being the only tool employed. The trunks
of the trees are placed one above another, to form the
dwelling; moss is stuffed into the crevices to keep
out rain, and when completed the whole is tarred and
painted red. They cover the roof with the bark or
trees, which is pressed down by long poles laid across,
and these are kept in their places by heavy stones.
Grass will often grow to such a height on these roofs,
that they are like meadows on the house-tops.
Every dwelling has by the side of it a high rack
for drying the unripened corn. These racks become
more frequent as you approach the North, because
the short summers prevent the corn from ever being
properly ripened. In the south of Sweden wheat
is grown; but in the north barley and rye are the
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND. 7
only kinds of corn that will grow and ripen sufficiently
to be usable for food."
What a trouble to dry the produce of a large
field in this manner !" said Godfrey. Is the bread
good that is made from this corn?"
"Not what you and I should call good," replied his
aunt. The rye or barley meal is made into great cakes,
which are strung upon rods and placed under the roof
of every house, so that they can easily be taken down
when wanted. Even these hard cakes are by no
means the worst bread in Sweden; for in the most
northern parts of Swedish Lapland, the bread con-
sists chiefly of the inner bark of the fir-tree pounded
and mixed with chaff and a very little barley meal.
Some of this bread Dr. Clarke brought into England,
and gave to a friend. Many years afterwards, at
a sale of a collection of minerals, a piece of this
very bread was sold by mistake as a particular kind
of stone, called rock leather."
"Well, that was curious," said Arthur. What
strange stuff it must have been!"
"Yes: Dr. Clarke's servant, as he travelled north-
ward, was always longing for the bread which he had
refused to eat in the last province. Now get your
little Atlas out, for I want to show you the position
of Tornea, from which place the wild part of the
country commences, and which is nearly the most
southern town that the Laplanders frequent."
P UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
"I am glad we have come to the Laplanders,"
said Arthur; "I have been longing to hear of Dr.-
Clarke's meeting with them. Make haste, Godfrey;
have you got the Atlas?"
"Yes; and here is the map of Norway, and
Sweden," said Godfrey, returning from the book-
case. Tornea,-let me see-it is on the shores of
the Gulf of Bothnia, at the most northern part. Is
not that gulf frozen over in the winter, aunt ?"
"Every winter, I believe, Godfrey; and this is
taken advantage of by the inhabitants of the coast;
for when they require to visit the opposite shore,
they travel over the ice in their sledges. The first
thing that, struck Dr. Clarke on his approach to
Tornea was the appearance of the pines, birch,
aspen, and other trees, which were scarcely bigger
than shrubs; but the beauty of the flowers made
amends for the puny aspect of the trees; the banks
of the lakes and rivers being covered with them,
besides abundance of strawberries, dewberries, and
And what kind of a place is Tornea?" said
It is so different from any town we see in
England," replied Aunt Lucy, that Dr. Clarke says,
you might easily imagine, the whole town being built
of logs, that you were in the midst of faggot stacks
and piles of timber heaped for exportation."
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND. 9
"Exportation,-that is sending things out of a
country," said Arthur.
Yes; the merchants of Tornea export the skins
of reindeer, bears, foxes, and wild-cats to Stock-
holm and Russia, besides iron, deal planks, tar, and
butter. It is one of the most curious and interest-
ing sights to see the traders depart for their annual
tour among the mountains and woods, to traffic
wvith the Laplanders. They generally start in the
winter. Each merchant has in his service from
five to six hundred reindeer; thirty Laplanders to
tend them, and several other servants. The train
of one merchant alone will sometimes extend to the
distance of two English miles. They carry with
them all kinds of provision for their own use, and
cloth, linen, brandy, and silver plate in the form of
drinking-cups and spoons, to exchange with the
Laplanders for the furs and deer-skins."
Look," continued his aunt, here is a print of
the first Lapland woman that Dr. Clarke met with."
The baby looks as if it were in a fiddle case,"
said Arthur. Poor little thing! can it like to be
"Dr. Clarke says that the infants appeared very
comfortable," replied his aunt. "The case or cradle
is well lined with the hair of the reindeer and soft
moss, and the strings across the top protect the face
of the child from injury. When the mother is busy
I0 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
she hangs up the case to a tree, or to some part of
the hut, and as it easily rocks with the breeze, the
baby is soon hushed, even if it cries for a moment.
The dress of the woman is made of sheep's skin, with
the wool turned inside, and bound round the waist
by a blue sash. The features of both men and
women among the Laplanders are coarse and ugly;
they have wide mouths, with dark complexions,
differing very much from the Swedes. The Lap-
landers are gentle and kind in their dispositions,
hospitable to strangers, and fond of their own
country. Most of them are forced to lead a ram-
bling life, to find pasture for their large flocks of
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND. t
reindeer. Very few of the Laplanders cultivate the
ground, and live in log-houses like the Swedes."
"Did Dr. Clarke ever go into the Lapland huts?"
"Yes, frequently; and he says that the richest
Laplander has scarcely a better habitation than the
poorest. A few poles are fastened together at the
top, and spread out so as to make a circle on the
ground; the poles are then merely covered with
coarse cloth or skins. The ground is strewed with
fir branches, instead of a carpet, and the fire is placed
in the middle. Round this fire the whole family
sleep, wrapped in deer-skins. The reindeer are
kept in enclosures near the hut, and are often very
tame.- Each hut has a dairy attached to it."
A dairy !" said Godfrey. Why, what kind of a
building can that be? not much like our English
dairies, I suppose ?"
No; the Lapland dairy consists merely of a shelf
raised between two trees, supported by the stems,
and overshadowed by the branches. On this shelf
the curds and cheese made from the milk of the
reindeer are placed."
Have the Laplanders no cows ?" said Arthur.
"Only in some parts of Lapland, Arthur; and there
the cows are very small; but they produce delicious
milk. They are fed on young branches of trees, and
on the lichen, which is called the reindeer moss."
12 UNCLE 701J N'S ADVENTURES.
"Oh that is the moss that I heard a visitor talk
to mamma about the other day," said Godfrey. He
showed mamma some grey lichen that he found on
HIounslow Heath, which he said was the same kind
that the reindeer feed on in Lapland; and tfen he
told mamma how clever the reindeer were in hunt-
ing out their food from beneath the snow. He said
that, however thick the snow might be, a reindeer
was sure to discover it; and that he works and works
away-with his fore-feet till he has scratched it up."
"I believe," said Aunt Lucy, that the rein-deer
moss may be found in several parts of England, and
if it be so good for the food of cows in Lapland, it is
a pity that it is not used for that purpose in England.'
Dr. Clarke was not aware that it grew in this
country; but he recommended that it should be
brought over from Lapland for winter food for our
cattle, for even then it would be cheaper than hay."
How dreary and desolate those great forests must
look in the winter-time!" said Godfrey. "I think the
poor Laplander must be glad to shut himself up in
his hut and sleep the time away!"
On the contrary, Godfrey, the winter is their
most active time; all the fairs are then held, and at
stated places they meet the merchants from the coasts
of Norway and the Gulf of Bothnia. All is cheer-
fulness and activity. Even the children take their
part in the occupations. The whole family start on
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND. 13
the expedition together, each one being entrusted with
a train of reindeer and sledges. Children of nine
years old are sometimes allowed to conduct a raid, as
each train belonging to the whole caravan is called.
These little boys and girls will manage a long train
of sledges laden with merchandise, drawn by as many
as fifteen reindeer, and only fastened together by one
long line. From the great rapidity with which they
travel, accidents will sometimes happen, but in gene-
ral the guides show so much cleverness in avoiding all
obstacles, that this mode of travelling is as safe as it
is delightful. The reindeer will endure more fatigue,
I believe, than almost any other animal. Many re-
markable stories are told of the length of their jour-
neys and their great fleetness. Dr. Clarke mentions
seeing two reindeer, which the Laplanders did not
think particularly strong or fleet, that had travelled
one hundred and fifty miles in nineteen hours."
That would be very nearly eight miles an hour,
if they did not stop once to eat or rest," said Godfrey.
" Do the Laplanders ever ride on them, aunt, or will
the reindeer only draw ? "
"The Laplanders occasionally ride on them; and
Dr. Clarke tried to do so, but he was always out-
stripped by the Laplanders, who were exceedingly
amused at his awkwardness. When Dr. Clarke was
Sat Enontekis, a village three hundred miles to the
North uf Tornea, he determined to entertain a great
14 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
number of the Laplanders with the sight of a bal-
loon. It took him three days to make it, as it was
very large, measuring nearly seventeen feet in height
and fifty feet in circumference. It was made of
white paper, with scarlet ornaments. Notice was
sent over all the country to the distance of forty
miles, and when the day of the exhibition arrived,
the Laplanders flocked in great numbers to the ap-
pointed place. Unfortunately, the wind proved
strong, and the Laplanders seeing the balloon begin
to move, caught hold of the sides, and a rent being
made, it fell to the ground. This accident caused
great disappointment, but the Laplanders resolved
to remain on the spot all night, if necessary, while
Dr. Clarke mended the balloon. This was soon done,
and in due time it rose majestically in the air, to the
great astonishment and even terror of the Laplanders,
who, equally frightened with their own reindeer,
scampered away in all directions."
"What fun !" exclaimed Arthur; how I should
have liked to have been there!"
What, to see the fright of the Laplanders!" said
his aunt: "they would not be much indebted to
you. The next sight, however, pleased them much
better: after the balloon had fallen, Dr. Clarke
hoisted a large paper kite which he had made for
the children of a S wedish family, by whom he had
been very kindly treated. Old and young, men,
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND. 15
women, and children, expressed their joy by capering
and squeaking, all coming in turn to lay hold of the
string, and bursting into fits of laughter when they
found that the string was pulled by the kite."
"I wonder the kite was not let go amongst them
all," said Arthur; "but I suppose Dr. Clarke took
good care not to give it quite up to them. How
funny their little short figures wrapped in furs must
have looked, jumping and capering about! You have
not told us anything about the wolves, aunt. I
thought there were a great many of them in Lapland."
"Yes, so there are, Arthur. Many Laplanders
have had their herds of reindeer nearly destroyed
by them. During one year in particular, when the
wolves were exceedingly numerous, some of the Lap-
landers, who possessed twelve or fifteen hundred
reindeer, lost between six and seven hundred by
these fierce animals. In some parts of Lapland, the
first question one traveller asks of another, is, 'Have
the wolves molested you?' so frequent are their
attacks. After travelling through wild districts with-
out roads, and without any of the conveniences and
comforts of civilized Europe, Dr. Clarke was very
glad to return to Tornea, the town which you remem-
ber he said looked like a collection of faggot stacks.
There he found abundance of food, wholesome at
all events, if not of the same kind that he had been
accustomed to in England, and his health, whice
16 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
had been much injured by the many hardships
that he had undergone, now returned, and made
everything appear bright and agreeable to him.
lie found a few of the inhabitants acquainted
with natural history; and indeed, both in Tornea
and in other towns of Sweden, he had been sur-
prised at the beauty of the collections of native
birds, insects, and wild animals. While he was at
Tornea, he sent to an apothecary's for some pre-
served Arctic raspberries. They were brought by a
boy who had neither shoes nor stockings. Dr.
Clarke was, at the time, looking over his books of
dried plants,, and to his great surprise, the boy
named every plant by its Latin name, and mentioned
where each was to be found. This boy was the son
of a poor widow, of the name of Pyppon, who having
given him the best education she could, had placed
him with an apothecary as an apprentice. The
apothecary was fond of natural history, but would
not allow his apprentice to study it. He said that it
interrupted the business of the shop. The conse-
quence was, that young Pyppon carried on his studies
unknown to his master, by concealing his books and
his plants, arid by rising every morning at three
o'clock, in order that he might snatch a few hours
of study before his services were required in the
shop. If he happened to find in his bare-footed
rambles a new plant, or a new insect, he was com-
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND. 17
pelled to hide it in his hat,, and thus bear it to his
"And did not the master ever find him out ?
asked Arthur, eagerly.
"Yes, he at length discovered the boxes of insects,
and he then allowed Pyppon to keep his curiosities
in the shop, because they attracted the notice of cus-
tomers; but he had the meanness to show them as
specimens of his own collecting."
"Oh! how dishonest," exclaimed Godfrey; "what
a shabby fellow he must have been!"
Why did not Pyppon leave him ?" said Arthur.
"I would not have stayed with him."
"Pyppon was obliged to stay with him, or give
up the hope of being a doctor. There was no oiher
apothecary for miles and miles round. Pyppon bore
patiently many other hardships, that he might not
give pain to his mother, by complaining of treatment
which she could not alter for him. During six
years that lie had been with the apothecary, he had
never had a single holiday, nor any other recreation,
than his summer morning scampers after a flower
or an insect. You may imagine, therefore, his
pleasure, when Dr. Clarke prevailed on his master
to spare him to go with himself and a friend to the
Kiemi fair. In the highest spirits Pyppon took his
seat in the wagon, dressed for the first time in a
coat and shoes and stockings. Long, however, he-
18 UNCLE 'YOIN'S ADVENTURES.
fore they arrived at the fair, he was obliged to
throw them aside, from the inconvenience they
occasioned him. At one moment the horses could
hardly go quick enough to please him; at another
he was longing to stop them, to run after some plant
that he espied on a bank ; nothing could surpass his
gaiety and pleasure. After the fair was over, he
was forced to part with Dr. Clarke, who was on the
point of returning to England. When the poor lad
saw him preparing to depart, the tears rolled down
his cheeks, nor could Dr. Clarke prevail on him to
name any present he might wish for. At length he
said, Should you remember me when you return
to England, send me a dried plant of the sun-dew,
which travellers assure me grows in your country."
"I know the sun-dew," said Godfrey; "the leaves
close up when touched, like the Venus' fly-trap.
Did Pyppon receive it?"
I do not know for certain," replied his aunt;
" but from the known kindness of Dr. Clarke, I
should think it most probable."
I wish Pyppon could have come to England
with Dr. Clarke," said Arthur. Do you know any-
thing more about him?"
No, I do not, Arthur; and now I think I have
tdld you all that you will feel particularly interested
about, and I will thank you to take the book back to
SWEDEN AND LAPLAND. 19
Oh, yes, I will; but are you sure there is no
more we should like?"
There is much more that you will like when you
are older, but not now."
Well, aunt, thank you for telling us so much
from the book," said Godfrey. I have been very
much entertained;" and he ran out of the room to
put on his cap and cloak to comply with his aunt's
UNCLE JOHN IN CANADA.
" UNCLE John is coming to-night, Richard," cried
Oliver, "so make haste and finish your map. You
know, he said it must be finished before he could
tell us anything about the difficult passage le had
across the great river St. Lawrence, in the winter
"c My map of that part of Canada which he said
he would tell us about is done," replied Richard.
"I am only putting in a few more places beyond
the town of Quebec."
Let me look," said Oliver; and he took the map
of Canada, in North America, of which his brother
had been making an outline. He saw the noble
river St. Lawrence, and, on the northern side of it,
the town of Quebec. Richard had also marked the
width of the river at this place, nearly one mile and
a half, and had also marked that the water was not
salt, but that the ebb and flow of the tide continued
beyond the town.
UNCLE JOHN IN CANADA. 21
This will do capitally. I wish uncle John would
come. The sky looks so dark, that I am sure we
are going to have a fall of snow."
At this moment a rap at the door made the boys
rush down. They opened the door, and in came
uncle John. Oliver hastily took from him his
umbrella and great coat, while Richard pulled off
his hat and gloves.
"Ha, ha, ha! well-done, my lads!" cried the
good-natured uncle, "ha, ha, ha! you are as active
We are so glad you have come," said the boys.
" The map is done, and we want to hear all about
the frozen river, and everything else that you
Up-stairs they all went. The map was laid before
uncle John. He took out his spectacles, wiped them,
and placing them on his nose, carefully looked at
the map before him.
"Very well, my dears, very well; this is cor-
rectly laid down: and therefore, as you have kept
your part of the bargain, I will not shirk mine. But
let us draw nearer to the fire, for it is a cold night,
and my story is a cold one."
Richard and Oliver stood one on each side of their
uncle, and with little Arthur between his knees, uncle
John began his account of the serious difficulty he
had in crossing the St. Lawrence in the winter time.
22 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
"The adventure, of which I am now going to
give you an account, took place many years ago.
I had some important business, which called me to
Quebec. But when the time for my leaving Eng-
land arrived, the season was so far advanced, that
the navigation of the St. Lawrence was closed. I
was obliged therefore to embark for Halifax. I
proceeded from that town, through many hardships
and dangers, to the south side of the river, opposite
to Quebec. I was two months performing the
journey from Halifax, short as it is, the quantity of
Shalf-melted snow making the roads in many places
"It was the beginning of January when I reached
the St. Lawrence; and I was almost fearful, when I
arrived there, that I should not be able to get across
"But my business required me to lose no time;
no sooner, therefore, had I entered the little posting
house which was situated on the banks of the river
nearly opposite to Quebec, than I began to in-
quire about a canoe and boatmen to take me
"'You will hardly be able to cross,' said the
master of the house, 'for the river is neither frozen
enough to bear on foot, nor open enough for a boat.
It is in a sad state of confusion, filled with blocks
of ice floating about, which the eddy of the tide
UNCLE JOHN IN CANADA. 23
keeps driving against each other with a horrid clash.
See, what a sight!'
I turned, and true enough, I saw lumps of ice
much bigger than a stage-coach, loaded with passen-
gers and luggage, rolling about, sometimes sinking
so as not to be seen, and then rising several yards
ahead, twisting round and round, and heaving about
with the current.
"After these had passed by, a stream- of water
was to be seen every here and there, running quite
clear. But the river was frozen solidly more than
three hundred yards from tke shore."
"How could the ice get into such large lumps?"
"The water does not freeze all at once; and as
it freezes, one flake of ice seems to get piled upon
another flake of ice, until, jostled together by the tide,
the pieces join into a great mass. The noise that
these masses of ice make, when they clash together
at the complete freezing of the river, is prodigious.
In one moment a general jam takes place, and the
smaller pieces, being driven with great force against
the larger, split in all directions, and the sound
echoes all around.
"I did not like the appearance of the iiver at all,
and yet I could not delay proceeding to Quebec. I
thought I might either be jammed between some of
these enormous lumps of ice, or my crazy bark be
24 UNCLE 7011N'S ADVENTURES.
capsized beneath one of the large slabs or flakes that
were floating about just under the surface of the
water. If I could have waited till the river was
quite frozen over, I should have had no trouble to get
across. But there is no use in thinking of that. Go
at once I must, and therefore I asked the master of
the house which would be the best way to get
He tried to persuade me to wait till the next day,
to take the chance of the ice being set, as he called
it. I told him this was impossible. I must cross if I
could do so by any means.
"'To get across now is a difficultjob.' said he; 'but
still, should you be bent upon so doing, it can be
managed, if you set off instantly. It is now slack
water, and about half-tide, so that is just the right
time to make the attempt. At full tide you must not
hope, with the river in such a state as it is now, to
make the passage without the greatest danger of
losing your life.'
"I am ready to depart this instant," I replied;
"where shall I find a boat and boatmen?"
"' I will send them to you,' said the man. 'You
must not have a boat, but a log canoe; and then, with
some Canadian boatmen, I'll answer for your safe
landing at Quebec in about an hour or two.'
"I begged him to lose no time, and away he went
to find a canoe and the men. In a short time he
UAvCLE 701HN IN CANADA. 25
returned with the news that everything was ready to
receive me, and I went down to the river side.
"There I found five Canadians, each with an axe
stuck in his sash, and a paddle in his hand, and the
What is a log canoe ? asked Arthur.
A log canoe is nothing more than about fifteen
feet of an entire tree, rounded at both ends alike, and
hollowed out in the middle. At the head, and at
the stern were fixed two pieces of rope, each nearly
eight feet long. The men were holding the rope at
head of the canoe, and directly I joined them, they
began to drag the canoe from the shore along the ice,
as far as it was solid enough to bear their weight.
The last few feet being rather unsound they chopped
it away with their axes, and so brought the head of
the canoe close to the water.
The tide being nearly at its ebb, was not just
then very rapid; and this was lucky, for I did not
much like the prospect of launching the little
awkward vessel into water so troubled, and with the ice
in such continual and violent motion. The boatmen
were quarrelling, and kept up an unceasing chattering
as to the best manner of launching. This did not
aTbrd me much encouragement.
They bade me get into the canoe, and sit down at
the bottom, midships, and so be ready for the launch.
I sat down, and fixed myself as tight as I could.
26' UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
Just as we were going off a large flake of ice made its
appearance. Had we been near it, our canoe must
have upset. So we waited till it had passed.
"After this had floated by, we saw a channel of
clear water, for about a hundred yards. This was
the time to seize, and the boatmen giving the signal
for moving, by bawling out Keep steady, sit still,
hold fast,' in an instant began pushing the canoe off
the ice. She came plump into the water with a
splash, and a shock that I shall never forget."
Very lucky you did not fall out," said Oliver,
"you would have had a rare cold dip if you had,
"Ay, my lad, there you are right: but let me tell
you I found it difficult to keep my place. The fall
from the ice into the water was a fall of two feet, and
it made the canoe pitch not a little."
Two feet from the ice to the water! exclaimed
Richard, Why, how can that be ?"
"You know, uncle," said Oliver, "that the ice,
which is only water frozen, could not be higher than
the water which is not frozen."
"I begin to think that your wits must be frozen
in spite of this delightful fire," replied their uncle;
"cannot you understand that, while the water falls
with the tide, such part of the ice as forms a com-
plete mass, and sticks to the shore, continues always
of the same height ?"
UNCLE JOHN IN CANADA. as
Ah!" said Richard, and it was low water when
you crossed. I wonder I did not think of that."
Go on, uncle," said Arthur.
"No sooner," continued their uncle, "was the
canoe on the water, than every one of the fellows
leaped in, each in his place, and began paddling with
the most eager haste to avoid an enormous piece of
ice that was bearing down hard upon us.
"Everything now depended upon their activity;
for no progress was to be made, except by their
seizing in a moment the opportunity which presented
What did you do all this time, uncle John?" said
Sat as quietly as I could, midships, in the canoe,
and contrived not to be pitched out of her, during
the various contrary motions that she received, by
the haste and bustling activity of the boatmen.
When the men found that they could not pass this
piece of ice, they got alongside of it, and with a
quickness that astonished me,.they all at once jumped
out of the canoe upon it, seized the rope which was
fastened to the head of the canoe, and drew her by
main force out of the water upon it. Then, three
on one side and three on the other, they pushed her
along, running more than one hundred and fifty
yards across, till they saw the clear water again.
"With a shout of 'Sit steady!' they made the
28 UNCLE O7HN'S ADVENTURES.
second launch, and unluckily we were this time
splashed all over. The water froze hard instantly
on my clothes. I had no time to shake myself to
get rid of any of the icicles, for a great quantity of
ice that we had not seen, and which seemed to have
just risen up from the bottom of the river, came
bearing down upon us in so alarming a manner,
that I expected every moment we should be sunk
"The men paddled, strained, and blamed one
another for not having kept a better look-out. But
all would not do. On, on came the ice: there was
no escape for us, and we were hemmed in, and
jammed on both sides by a soft pulpy mass, which
carried us along with it down the current, consider-
ably below the point we were trying to reach. With
all our efforts, we were as helpless as infants.
"I asked what was to be done now. But, without
giving me any answer, out the hardy fellows jumped
into this freezing mass, and sank above their knees
and sometimes even to their hips in the water,
trying to drag the canoe forward by the rope."
"Oh, uncle cried Richard, "I never heard
of such a thing in all my life! What could they
stand upon, when the ice was not hard ?"
What I tell you, master Richard, is a fact,"
replied his uncle, "I saw it with my own eyes, and
this is the way in which the men contrive it. The
UNCLE 70HN IN CANADA. 29
river was full of moving ice, as I have told you, and
although the surface of it was unsound in some
places, yet there were large slabs of ice floating
underneath, upon which they rested after sinking
through the unsound part. I never saw such men;
they were not to be conquered. They kept on
pulling and hauling, and every now and then cut-
ting away with their axes such blocks of ice as they
could neither pass nor get over. They ordered me
to keep rocking and shaking the canoe, that she
might not freeze on the ice; until having got through
all the obstacles, we were once more free of the ice
and in a channel of clear water."
"If the canoe had frozen on the ice, uncle John,
what would you all have done?" asked Oliver.
I cannot say; our situation would have been very
unpleasant. We most probably should have been
frozen, for the day was intensely cold, and we must
have floated on with the ice, without any chance of
"But you kept the canoe well rocked about, did
you not?" said Oliver. "If I had been with you,
I could have done that nicely."
"You think so by this warm snug fire," replied
uncle John; "but let me tell you, you would not
have found it such an easy job upon that freezing
river, with your clothes all stiff with ice, and your
hands and body benumbed with the cold. Strong as I
30 UNCLE 70HN'S ADVENTURES.
am, if the men had not helped me, we should have
So on we went for a few minutes in clear water.
But not long did we enjoy this way of proceeding,
for soon again we were inclosed in half-frozen heaps
of melted snow, and then were rapidly driven over
sheets of ice. The boatmen did not lose a single
moment of time. They either pulled the canoe on by
the rope, themselves wading in the water, or they
pushed her over the ice. Every ridge of ice that they
could not pass, they hewed down with their axes.
They were in the canoe, and out of the canoe, now
paddling, now dragging, now cutting, now pushing
with the boat-hook, now hauling with the rope,
just as these different ways for our getting on
"How glad they must have been when they
reached the opposite shore," said Richard.
"Yes," replied his uncle, "for it took us more
than an hour to cross. When we arrived at Quebec,
I was so stiff with the cold that I could hardly stand;
and besides that, I had a complete coating of ice
encrusted hard upon me, from the splashing of the
The poor boatmen mast have been in a worse
plight," said Richard.
"So they were, but they were very hardy fellows,
and were also accustomed to the work, and to the
UNCLE JOHN IN CANADA. 31
severity of the cold, and therefore they did not mind.
They pocketed with much glee the passage-money I
had engaged to give them, to which I added a
little more, as a reward for their skill and persever-
"Did you soon get warmed at a comfortable fire?"
"No, my little man, I had to climb, or rather
crawl, slowly up the narrow, steep, and dirty street,
which leads from the lower part to the upper part of
the town, where the house was situated to which I
was going. I was extremely grateful to get into a
room well warmed by a sto e, and so recover the use
of my limbs."
"Do people go upon the river when it is quite
frozen over? said Oliver.
"Yes; and they drive upon the ice in carriages.
Heavy waggons also cross over. As soon as the ice
is reckoned secure, a road is broken as smooth and
as straight as the inequality of the heaps of ice will
permit. The whole surface of the river is covered
with little hills of ice, some of which the people
chop through, and in those places where the ice is
too hard to be moved the road is made to wind."
Just then the door opened and the tea-things were
brought in. All the boys exclaimed that they were
"So am not I," said uncle John, "I shall be
32 UNCLE 7'OHN'S ADVENTURES.
obliged to your mother for a cup of warm tea before
I go out in the snow; for boys, I must now say good-
bye, as I have a person waiting to see me at home."
When will you come again, dear uncle," said
Oliver, "and tell us something more of the many
curious things you have seen in your travels ? "
The first leisure afternoon that I have I will be
with you; so fetch me my hat and the rest of my
tackle, and shake hands. Good-bye to ye all.
UNCLE JOHN AT THE CAPE OF
" I AM so dull to-night," said Oliver; I have got
nothing to do, and it rains so heavily that I must
stay at home. I wish it were bed-time;" and he
I don't, though," replied Richard. Uncle John
promised to come and see us to-night, and I think he
will soon be here."
"Oh, Richard! he will never come out in such a
pouring rain as this," said Oliver.
SWhy not ?" said Richard; "I suppose he has an
Before Oliver could answer, the door opened, and
in bounced little Arthur, shouting out, "Uncle John,
"Ay, ay, Uncle John;" cried the kind uncle,
while he was rubbing his shoes on the mat. Are
ye glad, boys, that he has come? "
The boys answered this question by running out
and shaking hands with him.
34 UNCLE 70HN'S ADVENTURES.
"Oliver thought you would be afraid of the rain,"
Why so ? Does he take me for a lump of barley-
sugar ?" said his uncle: a little summer rain like
this which is now falling refreshes a man after the
heat of the day. How often, when I was in Africa,
did I wish for such a shower!"
Come in, uncle; .come in," said the boys; your
shoes are quite clean, and we have taken care to put
your umbrella to dry. We are so happy you have
come to see us again."
That is all right, lads," said their uncle; "but
where is your mother ?"
"Oh, she is not at home this evening," said Oliver;
"she has gone to meet papa."
Well, then, we must amuse ourselves," said his
uncle: "what shall we do? "
"Cannot you tell us something amusing, uncle,
something that has happened to you in your voyages
or travels ?" asked Richard.
Uncle, I want to know what you did with your-
self when you were so long away in Africa, when
mamma was so unhappy because she did not receive
a letter from you."
"When I was at the Cape of Good Hope? said
his uncle. "Ay, I remember, I went to the farm
of a Dutch settler, a great distance from Cape Town,
UNCLE 7OHN AT THE CAPE. 35
up the country, and I had no means of sending a
letter to England."
"Yes, that is the time: tell us something about
Africa," said Oliver.
"I amused myself in visiting the farms of the
different English and Dutch people who had settled
about the country, near to Cape Town; and once I
spent a whole week in hunting elephants."
"What, hunting for a whole week on horseback
the whole of the time, Uncle John ? cried Richard;
"that's not possible."
We don't hunt elephants on horseback in South
Africa, Master Richard, as you hunt poor hares and
stags in England," replied his uncle.
"Pray, tell us then how you do hunt them," said
Oliver, "for they are such great, heavy, clumsy
animals, that I should think you would soon finish a
chase of one of them."
"There you are a little mistaken," replied his
uncle; "for in the hunt that I joined, I found it was
not such an easy affair. In the hills through which
the Fish River flows, the country is thickly covered
with bushes, and is quite uncultivated, and only
wild animals live in it. The elephants are in great
numbers. The man whom I accompanied was a
regular hunter of these animals, and he told me that
he had seen as many as three thousand elephants in
a troop at a time."
36 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
"What did he hunt elephants for?" asked
"-For their ivory tusks," replied Uncle John.
"The only roads through this wild thorny country
are those made by the foot-prints of these animals.
I accompanied, as I have said, a man who was a
regular hunter of elephants. He had in his party
nine dogs, three or four Hottentots, and a little boy,
his son, whom he was teaching to hunt."
Pray, uncle, what are Hottentots?" said Arthur.
"They are the native people of this part of
Africa," said his uncle; "but they are not kindly
used by the Dutch and English people, who have
taken possession of the country that once belonged
to them. They live miserably, and are made to
work for the new comers. These Hottentots carried
the food that we should want, and the sheep-skins,
on which at night we were to sleep, and they lighted
the fires round which we sat."
Fires, uncle !" cried Oliver, why, I thought
Africa was a dreadfully hot country."
So it is," said his uncle, in the day-time; but
the dews that fall in the evening and at night are
very chilling, and make fires necessary, especially
to those who are obliged to sleep in the open air.
We should have had the wolves, and rhinoceroses,
and all sorts of wild animals attacking us, if we had
had no fire in the night".
UNCLE 7OHN AT THE CAPE. 37
"Did you all sleep at the same time?" asked
"No; one was the fire watchman. I spent a
whole week among the wild hills I have mentioned,
and I can remember feeling very lonely when the
night fires burnt low, and I heard the howling
of the wolves, and the thundering tread of the
"The first day's search after the elephants was in
vain; we followed their tracks, winding over hills
and through deep ravines, and thick brushwood, of
which the thorns were very sharp, until I was so
tired, that I could hardly go on. The hunter was
not at all fatigued, and laughed at me not a little.
SCourage,' said he, we shall soon be among the
elephants, and then you can sit down and watch them
as long as you like.'
One of the Hottentots pointed out the track
which would be the best to follow. This foot-print,'
said he, 'is last night's, that track to the right is
three days old.'"
"Oh, uncle how could he tell that?" cried
Because he had been in the habit of observing
these things. He could tell at once the age of the
spoor, or foot-print."
"How clever!" exclaimed Arthur. "I wish I
knew how he managed to do so."
38 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
If you think it clever to judge of the age of the
foot-print, what do you think of the Hottentot fling-
ing his hatchet into a bush, and without having a
finger-post, or anything that we could observe to
mark the spot, returning after some days, nay, even
weeks, as I have been told, and without any trouble,
finding his hatchet again?"
"Why, it is very curious, indeed," said Richard,
" and shows the use of looking well at the objects
that surround us."
But the ground must have been very soft," said
Arthur, "to show the foot-mark."
Very true, my lad," said Uncle John, but the
Hottentot can also judge by the wearing off of the
turf, as well as by the mark on the soft ground.
The foot-marks are generally to be found in the mud
round the small ponds. The elephants; as well as
the other wild animals, leave their haunts at night,
and come to drink; and round those ponds the
Hottentots pointed out to me the foot-marks of the
various animals that had been down to drink."
"What were those other animals, uncle?" said
"The buffalo, the wolf, the rhinoceros, whose
hoof resembles that of three horses' hoofs joined
together, the baboon, and the antelope. The foot-
marks of all these animals were easily to be traced."
"How curious," said Oliver ( "the nest time I go
UNCLE 701HN AT THE CAPE. 39
out, I will try to find out the foot-marks of the
English animals round the pond on the common.
Go on, uncle, I want to come to the elephants."
And so did we, Master Oliver," said Uncle John,
"and accordingly we walked on in spite of the
intense heat. The heat of the sun at mid-day made
me ready to drop with fatigue, and as we marched
on, I began to feel that I should not be able to
continue doing so much longer. Towards evening
our search was becoming hopeless, no elephant had
been seen, and I told the hunter that I must stop a
while to rest. Not now,' said he, 'for I am sure
that at this very instant I see a troop of elephants
passing over yonder hill.' I looked, but could see
nothing; but the news made me agree to go on, and
we took care to ascend the hill before us with the
wind in our faces."
"What for? asked Oliver.
"That the animals might not smell us, which they
would have done if the wind had' blown from us
to them, instead of from them to us," replied his
"We marched on, one after the other, along a
narrow rocky path, which skirted one bank of a
small hollow, and we saw the huge beasts feeding
on the opposite bank."
"Now for it," cried Oliver, present, fire, bang,
they are shot."
40 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
"Not quite in such double-quick time, young
man, do you kill an elephant," said his uncle, as
you will learn. The hunter and the men halted;
and the hunter bade me and the little boy make a
light, and set fire to the bushes and grass, and then,
in case the animals should rush our way, to run as
fast as possible to the fire."
Oh, uncle 1 and did they rush your way?" cried
"I felt rather odd, to see myself only twenty
yards from such a number of these enormous
creatures, who, if they had charged forwards, must
have trampled us to death," said Uncle John.
Why, you could have got out of the way," said
"Pray, which way would that have been?" asked
his uncle. Until they begin to run, no one can
know what direction these beasts will take. There
we saw them quietly feeding on the long grass and
bushes, and flapping their large ears, and looking
very lazy. Myself and the boy lighted a bush, and
before it had burnt up into a flame, we heard a shot
fired, and then another, and the elephants began
running. We saw one totter as he ran, halt a little,
and then fall, rise up again, and fall again. His
groans were terrible. We went up to him: a
ball had pierced the shoulder, and reached the
UNCLE 7OHN AT THE CAPE. 41
"Uncle," said Arthur, "I am sorry for the poor
elephant. Why was he killed ?"
"To get his ivory tusks," said Uncle John; "but
we did not stop to take them then; we only cut off
his tail, marked the tusks, and followed the troop
down the hill.
We saw them tearing on, destroying everything
that was in their path. Both trees and shrubs were
broken and uprooted, and their tread sounded like
thunder. Being already much tired, I could not post
after them so quickly as my companions did, and so
I seated myself on the ground, and told the hunter
to send one of the Hottentots for me when he had
hunted enough for that night.
"'It is impossible,' said he; 'the night will be
dark, no one-will be able to find you, you must keep
up with us!' I told him that I could go no further,
and that I did not wish to spoil his sport, and then I
stretched myself out full length on the ground."
"Oh, uncle !" cried Arthur, "suppose the ele-
phants had turned back."
"Yes, boy; but I was too much tired to care at
that moment about them. 'Were a rhinoceros to
come now,' said the hunter, 'you would soon find
your legs: come, mount the hill with us.' No; I was
too tired, and so, after some little delay, the hunter
resolved to leave his boy with me, as being better
acquainted with those hills than I was; and he told
42 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
us, when I should be sufficiently rested, and able
to follow them, to light fires all up the hill to mark
our course. The hunter and Hottentots then quitted
us in pursuit of the elephants."
I don't think you were very wise to stay behind,
uncle," said Richard.
"I don't think I was," said his uncle; but I was
too tired to care for anything. I had lost not only
my fear of the wild animals, but even the more
reasonable fear of losing myself in the wild places I
was in. I threw myself on the ground, and watched
the sun sinking, and the beautiful colours of the sky
for more than half an hour. I do not remember ever
to have found a bed or sofa so agreeable as the grass
was to me at that time.
"For half an hour I rested on the ground, and
then with the boy, who had been very impatient at
my delay, mounted the hill by the elephant track.
The valley we had just left, was so thickly covered
with high bushes and trees, that we could not see
through them. Slowly were we climbing up the hill,
and trailing our guns after us, when we heard the
heavy gallop of a large animal approaching. My
little companion was blowing a lighted stick, in order
to set fire to the bush, as the hunter had desired.
'Listen I' I said, 'do you hear anything?' The boy
began to look quite alarmed, and in a moment he ran
away from the sound, while I ran up the hill, not
UNCLE 70HN AT TIHE CAPE. 43
doubting but it was a rhinoceros. The heavy tramp
was behind me, and the next moment a large dark
animal burst through the branches close to me, and
turned into the very path I was following. I did not
stop, but dashed across from the path to my little
companion, who with great presence of mind set fire
to the bush."
"Your heels were of use to you for once in your
life, uncle," said Oliver, laughing.
Yes, you rogue; and I was obliged to be active
with them. And lucky it was for me that I trusted
to them rather than to my gun: for the rhinoceros is
a very fierce animal, who will make even lions and
tigers run from him. The boldest hunters fear him,
and are glad to get out of his way. But I say it was
very lucky that I ran away, for when I tried to fire
off'my gun, it snapped three times, and would not go
off, so that had I trusted to being able to shoot the
rhinoceros, I should have been killed."
Did not the rhinoceros pursue you, uncle ? said
"No; the burning bush protected me, he ran from
it with all speed."
"Now, confess, dear uncle," said Oliver, "that
you were very much frightened."
"I cannot say that I felt much fear," said his
uncle. I had no time to be frightened. I was
forced to skip out of the way as fast as I could.
44 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
The affair was of use to me, for I felt the advantage
of always having presence of mind. If the boy had
acted as unwisely and thoughtlessly as I did, we
should have been in danger of our lives. After
the animal was out of sight, we lost no time in
ascending the lill."
Ha, ha! the hunter was right," interrupted
Oliver, the rhinoceros soon made you find the use
of your legs."
Uncle John laughed.
Pray, Oliver, be quiet," said Arthur, "I want
Uncle John to go on,-I do not like him to be
on those wild hills, at a distance from the hunter
and the men and dogs."
Uncle John stroked Arthur's hair, and said,
" No, my little man, and after this visit, I did not
wish to be without their company, I assure you.
I had no gun that I could use, and so the boy
and myself made haste up the hill. When we
reached the top of it, we saw the elephants tearing
about, their huge backs being much higher than the
bushes. Presently we heard our companions fire,
and all in a file the animals rushed away, charging
directly upon us. After the rhinoceros had gone,
I had taken a lighted torch in my hand, and now.
that I saw these elephants coming, I set fire to the
bushes and grass that were round us: we were
obliged to stand in a circle of flame. We listened,
UNCLE 70HN AT THE CAPE. 45
but the burning of the wood made such a noise as it
cracked and split, and the flames reared so, that we
could hear nothing else. Here we waited till the
fire had burnt sufficiently low to let us pass through
it; we then went on, and the boy lighted every
bush in our track, so that we might proceed in
That was well done," said Richard.
"Yes; it was prudent, for the fire at once checks
the elephant as well as other wild animals. We
came soon to the place where the elephants had been
shot at; on the ground lay one, heaving her sides
in agony,-poor thing! she had ten balls in her
body. A young elephant was with her, and was
walking round and round her. I felt quite sorry to
see the young animal covered with the blood of
its dying mother, and still clinging to her in death."
Poor elephant I" said all the boys.
"We passed on," continued Uncle John, "and
now became anxious to join our party. We wanted
both their company, and some water to refresh us,
for we were quite parched with thirst. I had sucked,
through my closed teeth, water out of a pool which
the elephants had trodden into a muddy puddle-
and so thirsty was I, that I thought it delicious. I
fired off the boy's gun, but no shot was fired in
return, and we both became uneasy that the hunter
did lat meet us."
46 UNCLE 70HN'S ADVENTURES.
"Ah, you should have gone on with him as
he advised," said Oliver.
Dark night now came on," continued his uncle,
"and with it came on the heavy dew, that prevents
the bush and grass from burning. The boy's courage,
which had hitherto been so steady, now fell-he
halloed and he begged me to do so also-and he
began to talk about being destroyed by the surround-
ing elephants and other wild animals."
"Was your halloo answered ?" asked Arthur.
"No; neither halloo nor gun did we hear. I felt
sorry for the boy-tried to laugh him out of his
fears, and persuaded him, while the bushes would
still burn, to collect sticks and wood for our night
fire, for I saw clearly that- we should have to pass
the night where -we were. With his help I soon
made a cheerful blazing pile of wood, and then,
spreading our sheepskins, I bade him lie down to
sleep, and promised to keep watch till daybreak.
The little fellow soon snored upon his sheepskin."
"Did you sleep, uncle ? asked Arthur.
"No; I kept watch for five hours, and did not feel
at all inclined to sleep. I was too anxious about our
safety. I heard so many noises all around me-
first, a hollow tramping, which made me think that
hundreds of elephants were crossing the hills close
to us-and, whenever my fire burnt dim, I heard
the short howl of the wolf approaching us."
UNCLE JOHN AT THE CAPE. 47
How did you know it was approaching ?" asked
Because the second howl was louder and nearer
than the first, and each succeeding howl louder
silll" replied his uncle. "But I soon made these
fellows keep their distance. I stirred up the fire, or
put fresh wood on it, and the brisk flame made them
quickly depart. Then I heard the croaking of the
night raven, who was attracted by the smell of the
dead elephant-and then a noise came so near, that
it awoke my little companion."
"What noise was that?" said Arthur.
"It was a strange noise, something between a
chattering and a howl. The boy begged me to heap
up more wood and make a large blaze, for he knew
by the noise that a hyena was near. The howl of
this animal was the most unpleasant noise I had
heard. At last day appeared, and we arose and
took our guns and some lighted sticks from the fire,
and again set off in search of our party. I soon saw
that our fire had preserved us from being trampled
to death that night, for the ground all around was
marked with the fresh foot-prints of the elephants
and buffaloes, whose galloping I had heard. We soon
had the pleasure of meeting our friends. They had
passed the night on one of the hills, not far from us."'
You did not leave the hunter again, did you,
uncle?" said Arthur.
48 UNCLE 70HN'S ADVENTURES.
No, my lad. When we told him of our escape
from the rhinoceros, he said we were lucky that my
gun had not fired, for if the rhinoceros is shot at,
and wounded, he turns against his enemy, and then
the sight of the flames of the burning bush has
no effect upon him."
"What sort of an animal is the rhinoceros ?"
"It is in shape more like an enormous hog than
any other animal, and is very nearly as large as
the elephant-but with a hide so tough and thick,
that leaden musket-balls will not pierce it. The
rhinoceros of Africa -"
"Uncle, the rhinoceros inhabits parts of Asia,"
"Yes, yes; I know, my dear," said his uncle,
"but the rhinoceros of Africa is different in two
things from the rhinoceros of Asia. The African
rhinoceros has two sharp-pointed horns growing
from his nose, while that of Asia has only one-this
UNCLE 70JHN AT THE CAPE. 49
is one point of difference; Ihe other part of the
animal that is different is the hide. The African has
a hide perfectly smooth, while the rhinoceros of
Asia has a hide full of thick folds; but the animal
of both countries likes to wallow in the mud, and the
sense of smell in both is very keen, and the eye very
"What do they eat ?" said Arthur.
Green boughs and bushes, and any kind of
vegetable," said his uncle; "and they seem to be
able to conquer every animal but the elephant. I
should not have escaped so easily from the rhinoceros
that rushed past me if he had had a better sight.
But this animal can only see in a straight line."
Was the rhinoceros that came out upon you
angry ?" asked Oliver.
I rather think not, for he did not root up the
ground with his horns. I think the elephants had
alarmed him, and that he was running away from
them. It is a curious sight to see how easily
these beasts can split open trees with their sharp
"How many elephants did you kill altogether in
this hunt?" asked Oliver.
I did not even kill one," replied his uncle, but
the hunter and his men killed five. The last three
were caught in a narrow pass between the hills,
where they were quietly feeding on the bushes, and
50 UNCLE 7H0N'S ADVENTURES.
the hunters fired so skilfully upon them that they
fell dead in a few minutes.
"What did you do with them when they were
killed ?" asked Arthur.
We took the ivory tusks, and then we cut out
such parts of the animals as we wanted for food," said
"Food," cried Oliver; "what! eat elephant-
meat? I never heard of such a thing in my
Very likely," said Uncle John; and yet 1
have eaten elephar.t-meat--and lot me tell you,
that it is very good meat, especially when a man is
Aye, but it is net so good as beef and mutton,"
"I thought differently when I ate it, young man,"
said his uncle. "I found it very relishing. We
took from one of the elephants the trunk and one
foot, and then opened the body and took out the
heart, part of which we also meant to eat. We tied
ap the whole lot with a strip cut from his huge
flappy ear, and we left the rest of the body as food
for the vultures, hyenas, and wolves."
Pray, uncle, tell me one thing," said Arthur.
"Did you eat the elephant's flesh raw?"
"No, my dear; I don't think I could eat even
be-.f or mutton in that state. We made a fire, and
UNCLE 0OHN AT THE CAPE. 5
then we cut the meat into small pieces, v h'ch we
thrust upon a sharp long stick. Then we peppered
and salted it, and broiled the meat on the fire. As
we had no dishes nor plates, nor table, in that wild
place, we stuck the stick firmly into the ground,
when the meat was enough cooked, and then we all
sat down in a circle around it, and each man with
his knife cut off from the stick as much meat as he
"Ha, ha, ha!" said Oliver, laughing; "I should
like to have seen you all-I would gladly have
eaten some with you. How funny it must have
"Funny enough," replied his uncle, "but I think
it much pleasanter to have a clean plate, and a table
and a knife and fork, than to cut off lumps of neat
from an upright stick. But hungry men in the
wilds of Africa are grateful even for such a meal
as this. I did not remain much longer with the
hunting-party, but took one of the Hottentots to
guide me back to Cape Town, where I remained
until a vessel was sailing for England."
The boys all thanked their uncle; and, as their
mother had not yet come home, they sat down to the
table, and began to try to draw the different animals
that their uncle had mentioned. Oliver and Richard
tried to draw a rhinoceros, and Arthur an elephant;
and at last, with the help of Uncle John, they suc-
52 UNCLE 701J V'S ADVENTURES.
needed in making outlines somewhat resembling those
animals: but not until the rhinoceros that Oliver
had drawn, had been rubbed out more than six times,
because he could not put the two horns in the right
place on the nose.
UNCLE JOHN'S SIIIPWRECK.
" DEAR Uncle, I am so glad you have come; for
I want to know who that curious-looking man was
that you had with you when we were at your house
last Wednesday week," said Oliver.
"I do not remember," said Uncle John.
"Oh, but you must," replied Oliver, "because
I have been thinking of him ever since."
"He was showing you some arrows that had
pieces of bone fixed to the end of them." said
"Yes, and he had lost three fingers on one of his
hands," said Arthur.
"I know now whom you mean," said Uncle John.
"That person was an old school-fellow, and after-
wards shipmate of mine. He has had many
adventures, and I thought, at one time, that he
was lying at the bottom of the sea."
"Do tell us, Uncle, all about him," cried Arthur,
"how his fingers were cut off, and everything."
"He lost his fingers some years ago, in a very
54 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
perilous shipwreck that we encountered together in
the South Seas, and from which we had a most
wonderful escape," said Uncle John.
"Pray begin from the very beginning of your
setting out, Uncle," said Oliver, drawing his chair
closer to his Uncle. "I suspect we shall hear some-
thing of the savages of some of the islands in the
South Seas, and that is just what I like."
But first tell us his name," said Richard, "and
the voyage he was going on."
"And tell us the name of his ship, and where-
abouts he was wrecked," said little Arthur.
"And where he got those arrows from,", added
Gently, gently, young men," said Uncle John;
"let me tell my story in my own way, or perhaps
I may not tell it at all. Instead of wanting me to
begin at the very beginning, as you call it, you want
me to mix together beginning, middle, and end,
without any order. But if you will cease your
chattering, and listen to me, I will tell you of our
The boys now placed themselves around their
Uncle, and listened attentively.
The man that you saw at my house," said their
Uncle, "is named Thornby. We were brought up
at the same school, and it so happened that we sailed
many voyages together. At the time that I am now
UNCLE O7HN'S SHIPWRECK. 55
going to speak of, he was chief mate of the ship
'Good Hope,' and we were bound on a whaling
voyage to the South Seas.
The voyage had been so far prosperous that we
had fallen in with many whales, and had succeeded
in killing several, and had nearly filled the ship witli
oil. I will explain to you another time how the
whales are killed and the oil procured.
The ship was cruising about in latitude 5 deg.
south and longitude 159 deg. 20 min. east, when a
strong gale arose from the westward, and blew
throughout the day. As sunset approached, the
wind, far from abating, increased; and the captain
ordered the sails of the ship to be close-reefed."
What do you mean by that? asked Oliver.
"Do you know how to open and shut an um-
brella?" said his Uncle. "You may call your
umbrella, when shut, close-reefed, if you like."
"But a sail is not like an umbrella?" said Oliver.
"No, but have you ever seen a sail?" asked his
"Oh, yes, often, when I have looked at the ship-
ping from London Bridge, and once when I went
on the sea in a boat with papa, at Brighton," said
"Well, then, did you observe some little pieces of
rope hanging down in rows ? The sailors call these
ropes 'reef-points,'" said Uncle John.
-56 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
"Yes, I saw them flapping about, and wondered
what they were for," said Richard.
"It is with these ropes that the sail is fastened up
to the yard," said his Uncle.
"Fastened up to the yard! Why, Uncle, what
gibberish you talk !" said Oliver, laughing.
"Yes, my little man, I dare say it sounds like
gibberish to you, but the piece of wood or the spar,
(for there is another curious word for you,) which
runs along the top of the sail, and. to which the sail
is fastened, and by which the sail is connected with
the mast, is called the _yard. In very blowing
weather the sailors go up to this yard, and, pulling
the reef-points up, tie them over the yard. When
this has been done, less of the sail is, of course,
exposed to the wind. Each of these rows of reef-
points is called a reef; and the top-sails have as
many as three or four, and in the largest ships
as many as five of these reefs; so that the sails can
be made large or small, according to the quantity of
wind. When the reef-points are all tied up, the ship
is said to be close-reefed. When one row of them is
untied or let go, it is called letting out a reef."
"But," asked Arthur, "do you mean to say,
Uncle, that the sailors stand upon the yard ? I should
not like to go up there."
No, my lad," replied his Uncle; "I did not
exactly say that the sailors stand upon the yard;
UNCLE JOHN'S SHIPWRECK. 57
there is a stout rope fastened to two ends of the
yard, so-as to hang something like a swing, only not
so slack. Upon this rope the sailors stand, and can
thus put their arms over the yard, or hold by it as
they may wish. These ropes are called foot-ropes."
I should very much like to see a ship, while the
sailors are taking in a reef," said Richard..
So should I," said Arthur; "but I should not
like to help to do it. I wonder how the sailors can
be brave enough."
"That may be," said his Uncle; but no ship
could be navigated if there were not braver people
than you in the world."
Well, Uncle, go on, now we understand the
meaning of close-reefed," said Oliver. You left
off, where the captain ordered the ship to be close-
reefed,-what next ?"
"As night was coming on, two men were employed
looking out a-head, as we call it in sea language,"
said Uncle John.
Oh! that means looking out to see whether there
is anything to interrupt the free sailing of the ship?"
Exactly so," replied his Uncle. "The gale con-
tinued blowing very hard; and as the night advanced,
it became more squally, and heavy rain fell. The
ship wore to south-south-west, and at about half-past
one after midnight, the men on watch gave a loud
58 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
shout of, 'Breakers a-head! breakers a-head!' That
sound is dismal to a ship's company in a dark
stormy night. The whole crew was instantly in
"Pray, Uncle, why should' breakers a-head' alarm
the crew ?" asked Richard.
"I will tell you. You have seen the waves on
the sea-shore, and the little waves, when the wind
is high, at the edges of the pond on the common.
As they break against the shore, they make a foam;
and these broken waves are called 'breakers.' They
only splash and foam in this way when they come in
contact with the shore, or sand-banks, or sunken
rocks. When, therefore, you perceive at sea the
waves foaming as they do when near the shore, you
may be certain that you are either near the shore, or
close upon a hidden rock or bank. So it was, unfor-
tunately, with the Good Hope.' In less than ten
minutes after the men appointed to watch had given
notice that there were breakers a-head, the ship
struck upon a sunken coral-reef."
I never did hear anything like the names that
sailors give to things," said Oliver; "what with
their reefs in the sails and their reefs under water,
how is one to know what they mean?"
"I wish you would not be so stupid, Oliver," said
Richard, as to stop my Uncle in so interesting a
part of his story. Everybody knows what a reef of
UNCLE 7OHN'S SHIPWRECK. 59
rocks means. Do go on, dear Uncle, I want to know
so much what became of the ship."
"But was it a rock?" exclaimed Arthur and
Yes, it was," said Uncle John.
Did not you know where you were?" said
Oliver. What was the use of your charts, if you
did not know of this rock beforehand ?"
The rock, Master Oliver, was not laid down in
the chart. Those seas have not been sailed upon so
much as the Atlantic and European seas, and there-
fore the charts are not perfect. I am afraid there
are still many rocks that remain to be discovered
in as painful a way as we discovered this one."
"I am surprised, Uncle, though, that you did not
stop the ship," said Arthur.
We did attempt to do so; but a ship cannot be
stopped in a minute," said his Uncle, no more than
a stage-coach going at full speed down-hill. The
shock was so great, that we knew at once the nature
of our misfortune; although we did not immediately
discover the full extent of the damage to the ship.
No efforts were spared to get her off; the cooper
stove fifty barrels of oil."
What use could there be in wasting the oil ?" said
Arthur; "how could that help the ship off the rock?"
"By making her lighter, to be sure," said Richard.
"Did the crew succeed, dear Uncle ?"
6O UNCLE JOHN'SS ADVENTURES.
"I am sorry to say that all our efforts were of no
use," replied his Uncle; the ship continued to strike
with great force in the mid-ships, and the sea broke
over her tremendously, sweeping the deck, and filling
the vessel with water. The men pumped, but the
water gained upon them, and in a short time the
ship was on her beam-ends."
"Troublesome Uncle, again to talk in sea lan-
guage, which nobody can make out!" said Oliver.
I shall call you Oliver the Impatient," said his
Uncle; "I was that moment going to explain to you
what was meant by 'beam-ends.' The ship was
thrown quite over on one side."
Oh! Uncle, what a pity !" said Arthur. What
did you and the other poor men do then? Why did
you not get into your boats ?"
As long as we had any hope of saving the ship,
we stayed by her. But when we saw that she was
not to be got off the rock, we prepared our boats.
We collected such things as are necessary for navi-
gation, charts, compass, and other sea instruments,
of which you know neither the names nor the use,
provisions, fire-arms and gunpowder, and placed them
in our boat. To be upon the sea in an open boat,
at such a distance from any land where assistance
could be obtained, was felt by us all to be very
dismal. The sea, too, was running very high, and
the surf was tremendous; and we feared that our
UNCLE JOHN'S SHIPWRECK. 61
boats might be swamped in the launch from the
ship's side. We waited, therefore, as long as wo
could, before we ventured; but I shall not easily
forget the cry of despair that arose from us all when
we did launch them."
Why, Uncle,-why?" cried the three bdys
Because the boats were swallowed up in an
instant by the surf; and nearly all the provisions
and other things that had been put into them were
washed away. During some minutes we gave our-
selves up for lost; until my friend Thornby inspired
us with fresh courage, by remarking that we might
yet save the boats, and offering, if some of the men
would assist him, to try to regain them."
That was brave of him," cried Oliver.
"As the dawn appeared, we beheld a raging, tem-
pestuous sea, and our wrecked ship fast breaking to
pieces; and," continued Uncle John, there was not
a trace of land to be seen anywhere. Thornby and
his men succeeded in recovering the three boats, but
not before the sides of the ship began to give way.
Several butts of oil made their way through the
larboard side, and the decks burst up. We made
all possible haste into the boats. Thornby, as chief
mate, had the command of one, the captain of
another, and the second mate, by name Philips, of
"In which boat did you go?" said Richard.
62 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
"I was with the captain," said Uncle John.
Did the ship sink, Uncle?" said Arthur.
We did not see it fall entirely to pieces, but it
was going fast when we put off from the rock that
had been our destruction. We determined to make
for Salomon's Islands."
How could you know which way to steer with-
out a compass ?" asked Richard.
" Luckily we found that the compass put into the
captain's boat had been so well secured, that it had
not been washed away. Thornby's boat was without
one, nor did we know that Philips had one. The
three boats kept close together."
"Poor fellows! I hope you always managed to
keep together during the night," said Richard.
I am glad," said Arthur, that you all got safe
into the boats."
"We made sail to the southward, steering, as I
said, for the Salomon's Islands," continued Uncle
John. We were thirty-two men. We proceeded
on our course all day without accident, having to
contend occasionally with heavy squalls of wind,
and a high running sea. At night we took in sail,
and kept within call of one another. The next
morning Philips's boat was found to be so leaky,
that unless the leak could be stopped, the boat must
be abandoned. Thornby immediately rendered all
the assistance in his power, and with hard labour
UNCLE 7OHN'S SHIP WRECK. 63
by the evening succeeded in making the boat per-
fectly safe and tight. No sooner had he done this
kind service than his own boat shipped a heavy
sea and capsized."
What, overturned, Uncle?" said Arthur.
"Yes, overturned. The captain's boat was at
some little distance when this accident happened,
but Philips's boat was close at hand. That ungrate-
ful wretch, however, who had so lately received
such kindness from our excellent friend Thornby,
instead of taking in those who had so generously
helped him when in trouble, would pay no atten-
tion to their cries for assistance."
"Leave them to be drowned! Oh, Uncle, what
a bad man that Philips must be!" cried the boys.
We saw him making haste away, and we hallooed,
and desired him to take the drowning men into his
boat; but he would not. He ordered his men, who
were as unfeeling as himself, to pull away."
What became of the men?" said the boys.
Thornby with five of his men swam to our
boat, and we took them in. Five other poor
fellows we saw clinging to the capsized boat, call-
ing aloud for help, and begging us to come and
"You went and helped them, did you not, Uncle?"
said Oliver. I am sure you were not so selfish and
unfeeling as that second mate."
'4 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
We couldn't reach them that night to afford
any help. Our own boat was so heavily laden that
we expected every moment to go down, and the sea
was very boisterous. But I shall never forget the
night we passed. Faint with hunger, shivering with
cold, drenched with rain, and with the huge waves
every now and then washing over us, we heard be-
tween the blasts of wind the cries of the poor men
clinging to the boat."
I am glad I was not with you," said Richard.
But, as soon as we had a little daylight, we
resolved to try to save the men, and right the boat;
and, after much difficulty, we succeeded in doing
both. Thornby and his crew again got into their
boat, and we made sail in company."
And what became of the selfish Philips and his
crew ?" asked Oliver.
We saw his boat at a distance, all that day,"
replied Uncle John, but from that time we never
saw it again. There is reason to suppose that it was
lost at sea, for no tidings of it or its crew have ever
I don't pity Philips and his crew as I did the
good Thornby, Uncle," said Arthur.
I should have been glad to have seen them
again," said Uncle John, with a sigh, in spite of
their unfeeling conduct. Poor fellows! they may
have suflbreA great torments from hunger and thirst
SI 4 S 6 7 a
X., Cape St. George.
t L PART OF NEW GUINEA.
UNCLE JOHN'S SHIPWRECK. 67
before they died." This thought brought tears into
Uncle John's eyes.
Oh !" said Richard, that is a sad way of dying.
But, although I pity them, I should have felt more
pity for the good Thornby, had he been lost."
His brothers agreed with him, and begged their
Uncle to go on with his account, which he did.
In two days from this time, making four from
leaving the ship, we discovered land. With great
joy we reached an island which, according to our
observations, appeared to be in 8 degrees 12 minutes
south latitude, and 161 degrees east longitude. We
were without water, and had nearly eaten the few
provisions that we had succeeded in saving from the
ship. After searching some time, we found a little
dirty brackish water, and a few cocoa-nuts. These
we eagerly secured and again put to sea. This day
we passed several islands."
Why did not you land and get such provisions
as you were in want of?" asked Oliver.
C Because the people who inhabited these islands
were very savage. Once we did try to land; and
one of the sailors, contrary to the captain's advice,
swam ashore. But the savages would not let
him return to us. They stripped him, and I have
little doubt but they murdered and ate him. We
had no means of rescuing him. We offered our
jackets and buttons, which were the only things of
68 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
any value left to us, as an exchange for the poor
fellow, but the savages would not let him go; and
we were obliged to leave him to his fate. We pro-
ceeded on our course with neither food nor water in
At length we came in sight of one of the Salo-
mon Islands; and gladly did we come to an anchor,
for we were quite exhausted and scarcely capable of
using the oars. Here we obtained some shell-fish, and
water, and cocoa-nuts; and, putting out to sea again,
we steered to the north-west, sailing for several days
among reefs, shoals, and uninhabited islands. We
were so much in want of food and water, that some
of our men began to lose their senses, and we found
it difficult to manage them. We landed on one of
the islands and obtained a little water, but no food;
and were pulling out to sea again, when we saw
two canoes approaching. We made all possible sail
to be well out at sea, and then waited for them.
These canoes supplied us with water and cocoa-nuts,
for which we gave the natives part of an old shirt."
Oh, Uncle, what an exchange! Did they thank
you for such rubbish ? said Oliver.
What you call rubbish is much prized by them,
who do not .know h' w to make such things," replied
his uncle. But we did not like their appearance,
for we observed them whispering together, and we
began to suspect that they meant to seize our boats.
UNCLE 7OHN'S SHIPWRECK. 69
They pursued us some little distance, but we suc-
ceeded in keeping out of their reach. Our course
was west-north-west, towards New Ireland."
Perhaps, Philips and his men were killed by
some of these people, Uncle !" said Oliver.
As I said before, we knew not what became of
him and his party. For ourselves we continued sail-
ing on. In six days more we saw Cape St. George,
which is the southernmost point of New Ireland, to
the south-west; and on the same day we rounded
the Cape and proceeded past Gowcr's Harbour,
amidst heavy squalls of rain, and suffering much
from the want of food and water. On arriving at
Baraden Beach, a little farther to the north, we were
able to get a supply of both from the natives, for
which we gave in exchange some few remains of our
clothes that we could ill spare. In two days more
we proceeded past Carteret's Harbour, and in four
days more arrived off Sandwich Island."
What, the place where the brave Captain Cook
was so cruelly killed ? said Oliver.
No, my lad; he was killed at Owhyhee, one of
the Sandwich Islands in the North Pacific," said
Uncle John; more than 4,000 miles from this
place. Our boats had scarcely touched the shore
before we observed such a bustle among the natives
as to cause us to put out to sea again, with feelings
of great alarm. In a short time, we saw canoes
70 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
filled with men, approaching on every side. They
brandished their clubs and hatchets very fiercely.
Thornby's boat, which did not sail so fast as ours,
was first surrounded; and he was attacked with so
much fury, that he and his crew must soon have
been destroyed, had we not hastened towards him
in our boat, and fired into their canoes."
Why did not Thornby and his men fire their
guns, Uncle ?" asked Oliver; "I thought a gun
always kept off a savage."
"Savages are quickly frightened with gunpow-
der," said Uncle John, and so it was in this case,
for, on our firing, they fled at once. But Thornby
had no fire-arms in his boat; he had nothing but a
boat-spade. The savages had killed one of his crew,
and had wounded Thornby with a hatchet."
I guess now," said Arthur, that he lost his
fingers in that battle."
Yes; he had seized hold of one of the chiefs,
when another savage behind the chief struck at him.
The fellow missed Thornby's head, but struck his
fingers off; and so tightly had Thornby grasped the
savage chief, that, upon his hold being suddenly
loosened, the chief fell overboard, and was drowned."
You were now worse off than ever," said Richard;
Sfor you had wounds to cure, and had lost another
of your company."
You have not heard the whole of our disasters
UNCLE 70HN'S SHIPWRECK. 71
yet," said Uncle John. We had got clear of the
savages about six in the evening, when a heavy gale
came on from the north-west, which carried away
the mast of Thornby's boat, and she could not pro-
ceed without being taken in tow by the captain's
boat. This was difficult to be done, for the sea was
high, and the night threatened to be stormy. Three
times the warp broke, that connected the two boats
together; and then it was agreed to heave to till the
morning. We were fearful lest we should be sepa-
rated, so we hallooed to each other at intervals be-
tween the gusts of wind.
Midnight arrived. Suddenly the gale chopped
round to the south, and the captain's boat, in which
I was, was carried at a' prodigious rate before the
wind. Any power that we could exert to keep our
boat near the other was as nothing in comparison
with the power of the wind and waves that carried us
onward. In the morning, not a trace of Thornby's
boat was to be seen. We hardly dared to hope
that they could have survived the night. But
what were they to do, if they should fortunately
have succeeded in weathering the storm? We
had, it is true, divided the fire-arms with them,
after the last-attack; but in our boat was the only
"Poor men!" said Richard; "what had really
become of the-m?"
72 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
I will first land myself," said his Uncle; and
then I will tell you what became of that brave man,
and his brave little party. To return to my story,-
we continued to be carried along by a current and
gale that we could in no way resist. We were three
days in the greatest distress, being completely with-
out food and water, and almost without clothing.
On the fourth day we had the good luck to fall in
vith an English merchant ship, bound from Sydney
in New South Wales, for India."
"Poor Thornby! how I wish he had been with
you!" exclaimed Oliver.
"Did the captain of this ship take you all on
board, Uncle ?" asked Arthur.
"Yes, he took us in, and treated us with the
utmost kindness. We were landed at Samarang in
the island of Java, from whence we sailed in an
American ship bound for Gibraltar. When landed
there, I went on by the first vessel that was going
to Cadiz; from whence I sailed again in the Govern-
ment steamer, and at last arrived at Falmouth,
having been absent from England almost three
"I suppose you looked thinner, Uncle, than you
do now," said Oliver.
"Yes, my dear, I had suffered from hunger
approaching to starvation, and from fatigue, and
want of sleep, and from anxiety, also, for the safety
UNCLE JOHN'S SHIPWRECK. 73
of my friend. When I arrived in London, I made
diligent. inquiry, still clinging to the hope tnat lie
might have been picked up by some ship. But
when I found tha no tidings had been heard of
hiii, I gave him up for lost, and lamented him as
An agreeable surprise, however, awaited me.
Some months afterwards, when down at the London
docks, I heard my name called out, and turning to
see who hailed me, I beheld him whom I supposed
to be lost,-my valued friend Thornby."
Now, I am very glad," said Oliver; "be quick,
dear Uncle, and tell us how he escaped."
When the gale carried off our boat, as I have
mentioned, Thornby did not at-first perceive the
misfortune that had happened. It was not until
the blasts of wind became less frequent, that our
silence was noticed; and he was not fully aware
of his forlorn situation, until the return of daylight
made known the disappearance of our boat."
What did they do ?" said Arthur.
"They did not lose their courage, although they
were without compass, and almost starved. They
consulted together as to what would be their best
course; and all agreed that it would be better to
return, if possible, to Carteret's Harbour, and there
await the chance arrival of some vessel."
"But the natives, Uncle!" cried Oliver.
74 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
"They hal nothing to fear from the natives of
Carteret's Harbour. The savages who had attacked
us, came from some of the many smaller islands in
those seas. From Carteret's Harbour, they went
back to Baraden Beach, where they landed, and by
parting with his boat-sail, Thornby obtained some
provisions in exchange. The natives behaved to
these shipwrecked men with great kindness, and
even invited them to remain on the island. The
king, whose name was Tansarah, was particularly
kind. He gave to Thornby most of the curious
things that you had a glimpse of last Wednesday.
Upon inspecting this part of the coast of New
Ireland, Thornby discovered that a great part of
St. George's Channel could be seen from some
rising ground, and he consequently promised a
reward to the first person who should discover
"I am afraid they had to wait a long time," said
Richard, "for I suppose but few ships pass that
Fortunately they did not wait long for a vessel.
They had not been quite three weeks with King
Tansarah, when one of the natives discovered a
whaling ship just entering the channel, between
Cape St. George and New Britain. With great
joy, Thornby mustered his crew, launched his boa;,
and in a few hours came alongside of the ship."
UNCLE JOHN'S SHIPWRECK. 75
Were they taken on board ? asked Arthur.
"Yes, and they remained the rest of that day and
the night on board," replied Uncle John.
"I think they did not behave well to the savages
and the kind savage king, to run away without
rewarding them as they had promised," said Oliver;
"they ought to have kept their promise."
"And so they did," said his Uncle; for on the
next day, they returned for the express purpose of
giving the reward promised, and also with presents
to King Tansarah, and some others of the natives, who
had been kind to them. This good faith of the white
men pleased the natives much, and the presents were
received with great joy., After this, Thornby and
his companions returned to the ship; and they re-
mained in her, until the crew having killed a suffi-
cient number of whales to make a full cargo of oil,
they returned all together to England."
"The captain was a generous man to give them
the presents for the savages," said Richard.
He was s&k and Thornby repaid him as soon as
he was able, for this kindness," said Uncle John.
I like Thornby very much, Uncle," said Oliver;
"he is both honest and brave; I wish you would
bring him to see us some evening, and he will tell us
about the savages."
Oh, do I" said Arthur, I want to see the hand
close, from which the fingers were chopped off."
76 UNCLE 0OHN'S ADVENTURES.
SAnd I want to see the curious things that King
Tansarah gave to him," said Richard. Do bring
If your father and mother have no objection, I
will, my lads," said Uncle John; and he will be able
to tell you all about the South Sea whale fishery."
We shall, I am sure, all be glad to see so worthy
and brave a man," said their mother, who had been
busy at work; "and now, my boys," added she,
"come and eat your suppers and go to bed, for it
is much past your usual hour; and, Uncle John,
after so much talking, let me advise you to take some
supper also; for you must want refreshment."
Uncle John, and the three boys, with their father
and mother, sat down to their suppers, and after-
wards the boys wished their Uncle good night, and
went to bed.
UNCLE JOHN IN ICELAND.
SUNCLE JOHN," said Oliver to his Uncle, have
you ever been in Italy, and seen that terrible vol-
cano, Mount Vesuvius ?"
No, Oliver," replied his Uncle, I have not,
but I have seen quite as terrible a volcano as
Vesuvius : Mount "
"Mount Etna," interrupted Oliver, I suppose
you mean, Uncle."
"Patiently, my young friend," said Uncle John.
"I do not mean Mount Etna. The volcano that
I have visited is situated in a very cold country,
where the whole surface of the ground is covered
with snow, often more than three feet in depth,
and the ice remains unmelted during the greater
part of the year."
What can you mean?" said Oliver; "you are
laughing at me: I near heard of volcanoes in
"Perhaps not," said his uncle; and yet what
I tell you is a fact. You must read a little more,
and think a little more, and see a little more of
78 UNCLE 7OHN'S AD VENTURES.
the world, before you can know much of the won-
ders and curiosities that are in it."
When I am old enough," said Oliver, I shall
be a sailor, and then I can easily see all the wonders;
and that will be better than troubling myself to hunt
in books for an account of them."
Now I laugh," replied his Uncle. The trouble
of hunting in books, as you call it, is ease, compared
to the hardships and toil of a sailor's life. If you
think a sailor's life is an easy one, you are much
mistaken. You must prepare yourself for trouble,
and danger, and sufferings, such as at present you
have no idea of."
"I am not afraid of hardships," said Oliver; "and
as to danger, that gives one something to think about;
so that, Uncle John, you cannot frighten me."
His uncle laughed, and said, "I do not wish to
frighten you; I only wish you to know that a sailor's
life has more of toil and danger than you seem to sup-
pose; and that when the wind blows, and the ship is
buffeted about by the waves, like a shuttlecock by a
battledore, you might find hunting in books, by a warm
fire, a pleasanter affair than to be out at sea just then."
"Never mind about all that now," said Oliver;
"but tell us something, dear Uncle, of this cold
volcano that you have seen."
"Nay, a hot volcano in a cold country," replied
his Uncle; "I dare say Richard knows something
UNCLE 70HN IN ICELAND. 79
about it. Come here, Richard; put down your slate
awhile, and help Oliver to the name of a volcano in
a cold country."
"Is it situated in Europe?" asked Richard.
"Yes," said his Uncle.
"You mean Mount Hecla, in Iceland," replied
"Now tell us the situation of Iceland, and then
I will tell you something about the country and
people," said his Uncle.
"Iceland," said Richard, looking at the map, is
a large island in the North Sea, between Greenland
and Norway. It lies between 63 degrees and 67
degrees of north latitude, and between 11 degrees
and 27 degrees of west longitude."
"Very right," replied his Uncle, "and it is not
above forty miles from the east coast of Greenland.
The island is four hundred miles in length, and
more than one hundred and sixty in breadth. It
is nearly as large as England and Wales; but I
can assure you it is not so pleasant a place to
"I should think not with that volcano," said
Arthur. "I do not like those burning mountains."
"Iceland appears a dismal, dreary place to a
person who has been accustomed to live among
corn-fields, and to see the fine elm, oak, beech, and
other trees that grow here. In Iceland there are
80 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
no beautiful fields, either of corn or grass, no fine
trees, no pleasant villages, nor gay flower-gardens.
It is a country of rocks and rugged mountains, and
is covered with snow and ice, which, in some parts,
never melt,-not to mention the lava, by which the
country has been laid waste for many miles toge-
And can such a country be inhabited?" asked
"Yes," said his Uncle; "and there are many
other countries inhabited, which are still more
uncomfortable; Greenland, for instance, where the
suffering from cold is much greater. I spent a
pleasant time in Iceland, although I felt a little
uncomfortable at first.
"It was in the summer that I landed at Bes-
sesstedr, which is one of the principal places, and
on the southern coast of the island. I certainly
thought the country looked veiy dismal, for I was
thinking of the beautiful Isle of Wight we had left
so lately. I could see nothing but barren mountains,
with small spots of rank, coarse grass, and plains of
lava; and although it was summer time, every here
and there the snow was lying unmelted; in some
hollows more than three feet deep. I wondered
how such a place could be inhabited, just as you
do, Oliver. But I soon found so many new and
curious things to look at, that I forgot the dismal
UNCLE 7OHN IN ICELANDD. SI
which at first annoyed me. What do you think
the people generally build their houses with?"
"I do not know," said Oliver; "bricks and wood,
"Most of the houses are built of lava; and as the
pieces of lava do not always join closely together,
small bits of moss are stuffed into the chinks. The
roof is made of rafters of wood, or ribs of whales,
upon which sods of turf are thickly laid. These
houses are small, being no more than nine feet in
height, and consisting only of the ground floor.
Lend me your slate, Richard, and I will draw you
the ground plan of a house in Iceland."
Richard gave the slate, and Uncle John drew
C B B B A
Where I have written the letter A," said he,
" is the entrance, B B B is the passage, which runs
through the middle of the house, about six feet wide.
This passage is lighted by holes, or windows, in the
roof; but excepting that these holes admit some
iight, they have not much resemblance to our win-
dows. I will explain to you the whole contrivance.
82 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
Instead of glass, the people use a thin skin, which
lines the stomachs of their sheep. The round holes
in the roof have wooden hoops fitted into them,
upon which this skin is tightly stretched; and thus
the light is admitted, and the cold air kept out.
But you cannot see through the skin."
What! have they no glass for their windows?"
"Only in the very best houses. At the end of
the passage is a room, C,_ usually from twenty-
four to twenty-eight feet long, and from twelve to
sixteen feet wide, in which the women sit at their
work during the day, and the master of the house
sleeps at night. This is the only comfortable room
in an Iceland house; for it has a ceiling and floor,
and a few small windows, sometimes made of glass,
but more often of the skin I have mentioned, and
the walls are lined with wainscot."
"And what are the other four rooms used for ?"
The one marked D is the kitchen, E the eating-
room, F the dairy, and G the servants' room. All
these rooms have neither ceilings nor floors, and the
walls are not lined. The windows are made of akin,
and in the roof."
"But when the rain or snow falls heavily, Uncle,"
said Oliver, I should think the skin would break
or soak through."
UNCLE JOHN IN ICELAND. 83
As a defence against this, there is a wooden
shutter," said his Uncle, which the Icelanders let
down upon the window in stormy weather."
"Then they must put themselves in the dark;-
how disagreeable!" said Arthur.
"They light their lamps, and do not grumble at
what they cannot prevent or avoid," said his Uncle.
" They have no chimneys, not even in their kitchens.
The fire used for cooking is made between three
stones on the hearth, and the smoke finds its way out
through a hole in the roof."
I think our English houses are much more com-
fortable," said Oliver.
"There can be no doubt of that," replied his
Uncle; "and also that the climate of England is
much pleasanter than that of Iceland. At the side
of the dwelling-house is a stable for the cattle, and
a shed for the dried fish."
But, Uncle, if no wood grows in Iceland, what
can the people do for fuel, for I suppose they have
no coal ? asked Richard.
"Not any like ours; but I will tell you how they
manage," said his uncle. There is a kind of wood-
coal, of a brown colour, called by the natives sutur-
brand,' which is dug out of marshy grounds. The
earthy varieties of this suturbrand hold together, and
do not rot as long as they are kept in water, but drop
to pieces as soon as they are brought into the air.
84 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
The fibrous kind exactly resembles the coal found
near Bovey Tracey, in Devonshire. It is very valu-
able to the natives, for it yields a bright, though
weak flame, and a prodigious heat; although the
smell while burning is not pleasant, being sourish.
It is preferred by the blacksmiths to coal, of which
they sometimes obtain a small supply from the ships
-it yields so much more heat,"
"Is this suturbrand found all over the island ?"
No; generally among the mountains, where now
not even a small shrub is to be found growing. I
believe there is little doubt that it is wood, for on
parts of it, less hardened than others, evident marks
of branches, and the circles of the annual growth of
the tree may be seen. The impression of leaves and
bark also is to be found in the clay which surrounds
the bed of this suturbrand. The Icelanders make
use of turf and fern, likewise, as fuel, and the roots
of large trees that have been destroyed, it is sup-
posed, by the volcanoes, and which are found in the
ground a little below the surface. The stunted trees
that grow upon the island are used both for firing
and for making furniture. Another supply of wood
is obtained, in a way that you would little expect.
On the north-west coast, a quantity of floating
timber is drifted every year, supposed to come
from America. This drift wood is, of course,
UNCLE 70HN IN ICELAND. 85
much prized by the people, and is generally used
"Have the people any fruit trees?" asked Arthur.
"A few bushes, but no trees," said Uncle John.
"I did not see above ten gardens, and I visited a
large part of the island. The gooseberry bushes
appeared to grow well, and to produce fine fruit;
and beans, peas, and cabbages, all grow well. The
Iceland summer is just long enough to allow these
things to come to perfection."
Is wheat grown in Iceland? asked Richard.
No; the summer is too short to bring that to
maturity. A little barley and rye have been occa-
sionally grown, but the growth of even these is
Have the people no bread, then? asked Oliver.
During my stay in Iceland," said his Uncle, "I
saw no bread; we had now and then some sour bis-
cuits brought from Copenhagen."
What had you to eat, I wonder?" said the
"Dried fish, spread with sour butter, fresh, and
salt fish, the flesh of bears, sheep, and oxen, and cf
birds, partly salted, partly smoked; plenty of sour
butter, which the people are very fond of, although
it is full of hairs, for in their dairies they do not take
the trouble to strain the milk through a sieve as we
do in this country; sour whey and curds, and a sort
86 UNCLE YOHN'S ADVENTURES.
of jelly made by boiling the bones of fish and animals
in whey till they are dissolved. These things formed
our general food; but every now and then we had a
treat of shark and whale."
Oh, Uncle shark and whale, sour hairy butter,
and other sour things!" cried Oliver and Arthur;
"and could you really eat such nasty stuff?"
Yes, I contrived to satisfy my hunger tolerably
well," said their Uncle; "I only remember one
thing that I could not eat, and that was fish nearly
rotten, which I have seen the people eat vora-
Well, Uncle, with plenty of fresh fish at hand, I
think the Icelanders are a very filthy people to eat
rotten fish," said Oliver.
And why do they eat sour butter and sour whey,
Uncle? Why should they let their food spoil before
they eat it?" said Richard.
My young friends," said Uncle John, "the
Icelanders would answer that question by putting
another to you. They would say, 'Why eat food
that is not ripe and good?' These people only
prize their butter when it has become sour. They
do not use it either fresh or salted. When the
butter has become sour, it will keep twenty years
or longer, and the Icelanders consider it more plea-
sant and more wholesome, too, than when eaten
UNCLE JOHN IN ICELAND. 87
"How very strange!" said Oliver;. I should not
be able-to eat it. If I am ever in Iceland, I shall go
without butter, or I shall take some kegs of ready
salted butter with me."
"Ha, ha, ha! that would not avail you much,"
said his Uncle. "Do you know, friend Oliver, that
these people use sour butter and sour whey, not only
as the sauces to their food, but they positively cook
the different articles of food in them. Meat is boiled
in the whey, which they call syra."
"Pray tell us, Uncle, what your breakfast and
dinner did really consist of," said Oliver.
"In the house that I stayed at," said his Uncle,
" we breakfasted at seven o'clock in the morning, on
hard curds, mixed with new milk or with juniper
berries, or on hard curdled milk, boiled till it became
quite of a red colour. At two o'clock we had dinner,
and then we had dried or fresh fish, with plenty of
sour butter, and sometimes we had meat boiled in
the syra, not a very pleasant broth. This was
our common every-day fare. But when the richer
Icelanders invite their friends to dinner, they give
the additional treat- of a dessert of shark and
"What a dessert! said the boys.
"I was invited to a dinner-party one day, and the
dinner and dessert were reckoned very excellent. In
the middle of the table was placed a dish of dried
88 UNCLE O7HN'S ADVENTURES.
fish. cut up into very small pieces, and at the sides
iome roast mutton, syra broth, and salmon; plenty
of sour butter being poured over the different dishes.
When these were removed some of the flesh of the
shark and whale, which, from the manner of pre-
paring it, looked like rusty bacon, was placed upon
And how did this dessert, this preserved shark,
taste? said Oliver.
"The little bit that I tasted was so unpleasant,
that I took no more," replied his uncle; "it had one
good effect, it made the mutton that I had eaten
appear quite delicious."
"Now, uncle," said Oliver, "let us talk no more
of their eating or way of living, but tell us about
Willingly," said his Uncle, "for Hecla, I must
allow, was much more attractive and interesting to
me than either sour butter or shark's flesh. This
volcano is only four miles from the sea-shore, and is
visible to all ships passing that way. Mount Hecla
has three distinct tops. As I wished to see every
thing curious in this remote and little-visited part of
the world, I determined to climb up to the highest of
these three points, which is 3,700 feet above the
level of the sea. The state of the surrounding
country shows how terrible have been the eruptions
from this volcano. I travelled over fifty or sixty
UNCLE JOHN IN ICELAND. 89
miles of lava, before I arrived at the foot of the
mountain. With very few exceptions, the whole
island appears to have been laid waste at different
times with lava. Fiery eruptions, accompanied by
earthquakes, are continually bursting forth in all
parts of the country, and many of the snowy moun-
tains have become volcanoes in the recollection of
people living. An island of fire one night arose
from the sea close by Iceland, and still remains."
"Mount Hecla, if I remember right, is higher
than Vesuvius," said Oliver.
"Yes," said his uncle; "since the famous erup-
tion of 1822, when eight hundred feet of the cone
of Vesuvius were blown off. Its eruptions, also,
have been much more extensive. In one eruption,
the ashes were thrown to the distance of one hun-
dred and eighty miles. During my stay in Iceland,
the mountain remained perfectly quiet: the smoke
issuing from it alone made known to us that it was
a volcano. The eruptions have made several open-
ings up the sides of the mountain. In most of the
openings marks of boiling water are to be seen, and
the steam came out so hot, that the degree of heat
was beyond what could be measured by our ther-
mometer. As we ascended, we found the mountain
covered with snow."
"Did you go quite up to the top?" said Arthur.
"Yes; and although the cold was so intense, that the
90 UNCLE JOHN'S ADVENTURES.
thermometer fell to 24 degrees below freezing point,
the steam from the various holes in the mountain
was hotter than we could measure. The wind, also,
was so high as we approached the top, that we were
sometimes obliged to lie flat on the ground to avoid
being blown down frightful precipices by its fury.
The snow was all melted at the very top for about
the space of eight yards."
"The feeling of heat and cold at the same time,"
said Richard, "must have been very strange; for
while your bodies shivered, your feet must have
been quite warm."
"Has Mount Hecla had an eruption lately?"
"I have not heard of one since 1766, when the
eruption lasted from the 4th of April to the 7th of
September, and destroyed many fields and farms.
It seldom happens that the volcanoes begin to throw
out fire without some previous warning. A loud
rumbling noise, and cracking of the earth, and
sometimes earthquakes, generally precede an erup-
tion for several days."
"Do the springs dry up as in Italy?" asked
When the springs and small lakes and rivulets
dry up," continued his uncle, an eruption is always
considered to be impending. But the first thing
that is usually obsei ved before the eruption of fire, is
UNCLE 701NLV IC ELAND, 91
the cracking of the ice, which bursts, as it were,
with a dreadful noise. Then come the flames and
lightning; and balls of fire, which issue with the
smoke, may be seen many miles off. Stones are also
cast out and thrown to a great distance, and last
come the boiling water and lava, black pumice-
stones, and sand and ashes. But besides these vol-
canoes, there are springs of hot water in all parts of
What a curious country Iceland must be," said
Oliver, "to be covered during half the year with
snow and ice, and yet to have springs of hot water
coming out of the ground."
But so it is," said his uncle. In some parts of
the country, the springs issue from the ground boil-
ing hot; in other places the heat is more moderate,
and not greater than is agreeable to drink or to use
as a bath."
"Do the people make any use of these springs?"
"They use the water for cooking, as well as for
drinking, and they cool it for their cattle. But they
also cook in the very springs. The day that I visited
the Geyser, which is the most surprising of these foun-
tains, our dinner was cooked in one of the smaller
boiling springs. We had some salmon and a
ptarmigan boiled. The bird was cooked in six
92 UNCLE 7OHN'S ADVENTURES.
"But how do the people cook in these springs ?"
asked Arthur. "Do they throw the fish and meat
"That would be a curious way of cooking, friend
Arthur," said his uncle. How do you think the
food could be got out again? Is it pleasant to plunge
your hands into boiling water?"
"That would be like playing at snap-dragon for
dinner," said Oliver.
"Have you ever seen a party of gipsies boiling
their kettle in a lane, or by the road side? Because
the same contrivance to hold the kettle is used by
the Icelanders, and sticks or stakes, fastened together
at the top, are placed across the spring. From the
top of these sticks hangs the kettle."
"To what height do the springs rise?" asked
"The height is as various as are the colour and
heat of the water. Some rose five, some ten,
and some twenty feet; while others rose so high,
as to be lost in the clouds. The hot springs at
Geyser are the most remarkable. Here a marsh
extends about half a mile in circumference, whero
are forty or fifty boiling springs, from which a great
vapour ascends. In the midst of these springs, is
an enormous fountain, which by starts, at certain
intervals, rises from twenty to sixty feet, with a
UNCLE 70HN IL ICELAND. 93
"What a beautiful sight that must have been!"
Yes, and well worth a voyage to Iceland," replied
Uncle John. "The opening from which the water
rose in this large spring was perfectly round, and
nineteen feet in diameter, and around it the water
had formed a basin nearly sixty feet in diameter, and
nine feet deep. The earth trembles; and noises, just
like the discharge of a cannon, are heard before the
boiling water spouts forth. We wanted to ascertain
how deep the opening might be, but we could not
succeed. The stones that we threw in were all
thrown up again into the air by the force of the
water. The whole scene was so remarkable, that
it will never leave my memory. I was told that
this spring had once risen to the height of sixty
"Sixty fathoms! why, that is three hundred and
sixty feet!" said Oliver.
"Did you put the thermometer into any of these
springs?" asked Richard, "and did you really find
them of boiling heat ?"
"In some of the springs," replied his uncle, "the
thermometer rose to 212 degrees and 213 degrees, in
others to 188 degrees. At Geyser it stood at 212
degrees (which is the heat of boiling water)."
"Are the Icelanders a happy people?" asked