The Baldwin Uibraqy
_1_1_____ _____ ~______~______~I
SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
WILLIAM H. G. KINGSTON
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
GLASGOW AND NEW YORK
"The Swiss Family Robinson" is so general a favourite that
it is hoped a fresh version may prove acceptable.
It has been translated by members of my family from the
German, with the omission of the long sententious lectures found
in the original, and some slight alterations calculated to enliven
W. H. G. K.
SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON.
Storm-tossed-Wrecked-Deserted-Supper-We make'swimming-belts for the children
-An anxious night-The gale moderates-We examine our cargo-Jack introduces
two new acquaintances-How shall we get on shore?-Jack's plan-We adopt it-
The use of a lever-Our tub-boat completed-Another night on the wreck-We
collect a cargo-And embark-Jack's friends will not be left behind-Steer for the
shore-Once more on land-We erect a tent-Glue soup-Jack makes the
acquaintance of a lobster-Ernest shirks the water-Oysters and salt-How shall
we eat our soup?-Ernest solves the diflieulty-Fritz returns-The sucking-pig-
How to open an oyster and how to eat it-The dogs devour the Agouti-Fritz's
anger-Our lirst night in the new country.
FoR many days --- --
we had been tempest-
tossed. Six times -
had the darkness --
closed over a wild
and terrific scene,
and returning light
as often brought but I'
renewed distress, for
the raging storm in-
creased in fury until i
on the seventh day -
all hope was lost.
We were driven -
completely out of our
course; no conjecture -
could be formed as to
Thle crew had lost
heart, and were ut-
terly exhausted by
The riven masts
had gone by the
board, leaks hafd been r
sprung in every di-.
rection, and the
water, which rushed
in, gained upon us
rapidly. THE WRECK.
Instead of reckless
oaths, the seamen now uttered frantic cries to God for mercy, mingled with
strange and often ludicrous vows, to be performed should deliverance be granted.
Every man on board alternately commended his soul to his Creator, and
strove to bethinklr himself of some means of saving his life.
My heart sank as I looked round upon my family in the midst of these
"horrors. Our four young sons were overpowered by terror. "Dear children,"
2 The Swiss Family Robinson.
said I, "if the Lord will, He can save us even from this fearful peril; if not,
let us calmly yield our lives into His hand, and think of the joy and blessedness
of finding ourselves for ever and ever united in that happy home above."
At these words my weeping wife looked bravely up, and, as the boys clustered
round her, she began to cheer and encourage them with calm and loving words.
I rejoiced to see her fortitude, though my heart was ready to break as I gazed
on my dear ones.
We knelt down together, one after another praying with deep earnestness
and emotion. Fritz, in particular, besought help and deliverance for his dear
parents and brothers, as though quite forgetting himself.
Our hearts were soothed by the never-failing comfort of child-like confiding
prayer, and the horrors of our situation seemed less overwhelming. "Ah,"
thought I, the Lord will hear our prayer He will help us."
Amid the roar of the thundering waves I suddenly heard the cry of "Land !'
land!" while at the same instant the ship struck with a frightful shock,
which threw everyone to the deck, and seemed to threaten her immediate
Dreadful sounds betokened the breaking up of the ship, and the roaring
waters poured in on all sides.
Then the voice of the captain was heard above the tumult, shouting, Lower
away the boats! We are lost!"
Lost!" I exclaimed, and the word went like a dagger to my heart; but
seeing my children's terror renewed, I composed myself, calling out cheerfully,
"Take courage, my boys! we are all above water yet. There is the land not
far off, let us do our best to reach it. You know God helps those that help
themselves !" With that, I left them and went on deck. What was my horror
*when through the foam and spray I beheld the only remaining boat leave the
ship, the last of the seamen spring into her and push off, regardless of my cries
and entreaties that we might be allowed to share their slender chance of pre-
serving their lives. My voice was drowned in the howling of the blast, and
even had the crew wished it, the return of the boat was impossible.
Casting my eyes despairingly around, I became gradually aware that our
position was by no means hopeless, inasmuch as the stern of the ship containing
our cabin was jammed between two high rocks, and was partly raised from
among the breakers which dashed the forepart to pieces. As the clouds of mist
and rain drove past I could make out, through rents in the vaporous curtain, a
line of rocky coast, and, rugged as it was, my heart bounded towards it as a
sign of help in the hour of need. Yet the sense of our lonely and forsaken con-
dition weighed heavily upon me as I returned to my family, constraining myself
to say with a smile, Courage, dear ones! Although our good ship will never
sail more, she is so placed that our cabin will remain above water, and to-
morrow, if the wind and waves abate, I see no reason why we should not be
able to get ashore."
These few words had an immediate effect on the spirits of my children, who
at once regarded our problematical chance of escaping as a happy certainty, and
began to enjoy the relief from the violent pitching and rolling of the vessel.
My wife, however, perceived my distress and anxiety, in spite of my forced
composure, and I made her comprehend our real situation, greatly fearing the
effect of the intelligence on her nerves. Not for a moment did her courage and
trust in Providence forsake her, and on seeing this, my fortitude revived.
"We must find some food, and take a good supper," said she, "it will never
do to grow faint by fasting too long. We shall require our utmost strength to-
Night drew on apace, the storm was as fierce as ever, and at intervals we were
startled by crashes announcing further damage to our unfortunate ship.
God will help us soon now, won't He, father ?" said my youngest child.
You silly little thing," said Fritz, my eldest son, sharply, don't you know
that we must not settle what God is to do for us ? We must have patience and
wait His time."
The Wreck-The break of morning. 3
"Very well said, had it been said kindly, Fritz, my boy. You too often
speak harshly to your brothers, although you may not mean to do so."
A good meal being now ready, my youngsters ate heartily, and retiring to
rest were speedily fast asleep. Fritz, who was of an age to be aware of the
real danger we were in, kept watch with us. After a long silence, "Father,"
said he, don't you think we might contrive swimming belts for mother
and the boys ? with those we might all escape to land, for you and I can
"Your idea is so good," answered I, "that I shall arrange something at
once, in case of an accident during the night."
We immediately searched about for what would answer the purpose, and
fortunately got hold of a number of empty flasks and tin canisters, which we
connected two and two together so as to form floats sufficiently buoyant to
support a person in the water, and my wife and young sons each willingly put
one on. I then provided myself with matches, knives, cord, and other portable
articles, trusting that, should the vessel go to pieces before daylight, we might
gain the shore, not wholly destitute.
Fritz, as well as his brothers, now slept soundly. Throughout the night my
wife and I maintained our prayerful watch, dreading at every fresh sound some
fatal change in the position of the wreck.
At length the faint dawn of day appeared, the long weary night was over,
and with thankful hearts we perceived that the gale had begun to moderate;
blue sky was seen above us, and the lovely hues of sunrise adorned the eastern
I aroused the boys, and we assembled on the remaining portion of the deck,
when they, to their surprise, discovered that no one else was on board.
Hallo, papa! what has become of everybody! Are the sailors gone ? Have
they taken away the boats? Oh, papa! why did they leave us behind ? What
can we do by ourselves!"
"My good children," I replied, we must not despair, although we seem
deserted. See how those on whose skill and good faith we depended have left
us cruelly to our fate in the hour of danger. God will never do so. He has not
forsaken us, and we will trust Him still. Only let us bestir ourselves, and each
cheerily do his best. Who has anything to propose?"
"The sea will soon be calm enough for swimming," said Fritz.
"And that would be all very fine for you," exclaimed Ernest, "but think of
mother and the rest of us! Why not build a raft and all get on shore
We should find it difficult, I think to make a raft that would carry us safe to
shore. However, we must contrive something, and first let each try to procure
what will be of most use to us."
Away we all went to see what was to be found, I myself proceeding to
examine, as of greatest consequence, the supplies of provisions and fresh water
within our reach.
My wife took her youngest son, Franz, to help her to feed the unfortunate
animals on board, who were in a pitiful plight, having been neglected for
Fritz hastened to the arm-chest, Ernest to look for tools; and Jack went
towards the captain's cabin, the door of which he no sooner opened, than out
sprang two splendid large dogs, who testified their extreme delight and gratitude
by such tremendous bounds that they knocked their little deliverer completely
head over heels, frightening him nearly out of his wits. Jack did not long yield
either to fear or anger, he presently recovered himself, the dogs seemed to ask
pardon by vehemently licking his face and hands, and so, seizing the larger by
the ears, he jumped on his back, and, to my great amusemement, coolly rode to
meet me as I came up the hatchway.
When we re-assembled in the cabin, we all displayed our treasures.
Fritz brought a couple of guns, shot belt, powder flasks, and plenty of
4 The Swiss Family Robinson.
Ernest produced a cap full of nails, an axe, and a hammer, while pincers,
chisels, and augers stuck out of allhis pockets.
Little Franz carried a box, and eagerly began to show us the "nice sharp
little hooks" it contained. "Well done, Franz cried I, "these fish-hooks,
which you the youngest have found, may contribute more than anything else in
the ship to save our lives by procuring food for us. Fritz and Ernest, you have
Will you praise me too ?" said my dear wife. "I have nothing to show, but
I can give you good news. Some useful animals are still alive; a cow, a
donkey, two goats, six sheep, a ram, and a fine sow. I was but just in time to
save their lives by taking food to them.
All these things are exceLent indeed," said I; "but my friend Jack here,
has presented-me with a couple of huge hungry useless dogs, who will eat more
than any of us."
Oh, papa! .they will be of use Whj, they will help us to hunt when we
get on shore!"
"No doubt they will, if ever we .do get on shore, Jack;- but I must say
I don't know how it is to be done."
Can't we each get it.. hi: tub, and float there ? returned he. "I have
often sailed splendidly .'.. I. ,1, round the pond at home."
My child, you have hit on a capital idea," cried I. "Now Ernest, let me
have your tools, hammers, nails, saws, augers, and all; and then make haste to
collect any tubs you can find !
We very soon found four large casks, made of sound wood, and strongly
bound with iron hoops; they were floating with many other things in the water
in the hold, but we :-n :'.--1 i-. fish them out, and drag them to a suitable place
for launching them. T1i.v *.lre exactly what I wanted, and 1 succeeded in
sawing them across the middle. Hard work it was, and we were glad enough to
stop and refresh ourselves with wine and biscuits.
My eight tubs now stood ranged in a row, near the water's edge, and 1 looked
at them with grat.satisfaction ; to my surprise, my wife did not seem to share
my pleasure !
"I shall never," said she, muster courage to get into one of these "
"Do not be too sure of that, dear wife; when you see my contrivance
completed, you will perhaps prefer it to this immoveable wreck."
I next procured a long thin plank on "hinh m-. tubs could be fixed, and the
two ends of this I bent upwards so as to I- ..I. I .... Other two planks were
nailed along the sides of the tubs ; they also being flexible, were brought to a
point at each end, and all firmly secured and nailed together. I felt satisfied
that in smooth water this craft would be perfectly trustworthy. But when we
thought all was ready for the launch, we found to our dismay, that the grand
contrivance was so heavy and clumsy, that even our united efforts could not
move it an inch.
I must have a lever," cried I. Run and fetch the capstan bar!"
Fritz quickly brought one, and hnvi-no formed rollers by cutting up a long
spar, I raised the fore-part of my ... r 1.1 the bar, and my sons placed a roller
How is it, father," inquired Ernest, "that with that thing you alone can do
more than all of us together ?"
I explained, as well as I could in a hurry, the principle of the lever; and
promised to have a long talk on the subject of Mechanics, should we have a
I now made fast a long rope to the stern of our boat, attaching the other end
to a beam; then placing a second and third roller under it, we once more began
to push, this time with success, and soon our gallant craft was safely launched:
so swiftly indeed did she glide into the water that, but for the rope, she would
have passed beyond our reach. The boys wished to jump in directly; but,
alas, she leaned so much on one side that they could not venture to do so.
Some heavy things being thrown in, however, the boat righted itself by
A Novel Style of Craft.
degrees, and the boys were so delighted that they struggled which should first
leap in to have the fun of sitting down in the tubs. But it was plain so me at
once that something more was required to make her perfectly safe, so I con-
rived out-riggers to preserve the balance, by nailing long poles across at the
tem and stern, and fixing at the ends of each empty brandy casks. Then the
boat appearing steady, I got in; and turning it towards the most open side of the
wreck, i cut and cleared away obstructions, so as to leave a free passage for our
departure, and the boys brought oars to be ready for the voyage. This im-
portant undertaking we were forced to postpone until the next day, as it was by
this time far too late to attempt it. It was not pleasant to have to spend another
night in so precarious a situation; but, yielding to necessity, we sat down to
enjoy a comfortable supper, for during our exciting and incessant work all day
we had taken nothing but an occasional biscuit and a little wine.
We prepared for rest in a much happier frame of mind than on the preceding
day, but I did not forget the possibility of a renewed storm, and therefore made
every one put on the belts as before.
I persuaded my wife (not without considerable difficulty), to put on a sailor's
dress, assuring her she would find it much more comfortable and convenient for
all she would have to go through. She at last consented to do this, and left us
for a short time, reappearing with much embarrassment and many blushes, in a
most becoming suit, which she had found in a midshipman's chest. We all
admired her costume, and any awkwardness she felt soon began to pass off;
then retiring to our berths, peaceful sleep prepared us all for the exertions of
the coming day.
We rose up betimes, for sleep weighs lightly on the hopeful, as well as on
the anxious. After kneeling together in prayer, Now my beloved ones," said
I, "with God's help we are about to effect our escape. Let the poor animals
we must leave behind be well fed, and put plenty of fodder within their reach;
in a few days we may be able to return, and save them likewise. After that,
collect everything you can think of which may be of use to us."
The boys joyfully obeyed me, and I selected from the large quantity of stores
they got together, canvas to make a tent, a chest of carpenter's tools, guns,
pistols, powder, shot, and bullet, rods and fishing tackle, an iron pot, a case of
portable soup, and another of biscuit. These useful articles of course took the
place of the ballast I had hastily thrown in the day before.
With a hearty prayer for God's blessing, we now began to take our seats,
each in his tub. Just then we heard the cocl~ begin to crow, as though to
reproach us for deserting them. Why shoulTnot the fowls go with us!"
exclaimed I. "If we find no food for them, they can be food for us." Ten
hens and a couple of cocks were '......lil; i-.. .... in one of the tubs, and
secured with some wire-netting ove ci. .,,i
The ducks and goese were set at liberty, and took to the water at once, while
the pigeons, rPioirin- to find themselves on the wing, swiftly made for the
shore. My ". II, !.. managed all this for me, kept us waiting for her some
little time, and came at last with a bag as big as a pillow in her arms. "This
is my contribution," said she, throwing the bag to little Franz, to be, as I
thought, a cushion for him to sit upon.
All being ready, we cast off, and moved away from the wreck. My good,
brave wife, sat in the first compartment of the boat; next her was Franz, a
pretty little boy, nearly eight years old. Then came Fritz, a handsome,
spirited young fellow of fifteen; the two centre tubs contained the valuable
cargo; then came our bold, thoughtless Jack; next him Ernest, my second son,
intelligent, well-informed, and rather indolent. I myself, the anxious, loving
father, stood in the stern, endeavouring to guide the raft with its precious
burden to a safe landing-place.
The elder boys took the oars, every one wore a float belt, and had something
useful close to him in case of being thrown into the water.
The tide was flowing, which was a great help to the young oarsmen. We
emerged from the wreck and glided into the open sea. All eyes were strained
6 The Swiss Family Robinson.
to get a full view of the land, and the boys pulled with a will; but for some
time we made no progress, as the boat kept turning round and round, until I
hit upon the right way to steer it, after which we merrily made for the shore.
We had left the two dogs, Turk and Juno, on the wreck, as being both large
mastiffs we did not care to have their additional weight on board our craft; but
when they saw us apparently deserting them, they set up a piteous howl, and
sprang into the sea. I was sorry to see this, for the distance to the land was so
great that I scarcely expected them to be able to accomplish it. They followed
us, however, and, -... r.. i' i. :r;,n their fore-paws on the outriggers, kept
up with us well. Jack was inclined to deny them this their only chance of
safety. Stop," said I, that would be unkind as well as foolish; remember,
the merciful man regardeth the life of his beast."
Our passage though tedious was safe; but the nearer we approached the shore
the less inviting it ap-
peared; the barren rocks
seemed to threaten us with
.- i misery and want.
"- --- Many casks, boxes, and
-- ,bales of goods floated on
S- 'the water around us.
--. '"' .11 Fritz and I managed to
secure a couple of hogs-
_A i ""' heads, so as to tow them
.alongside. With the pro-
spect of famine before us,
'- it was desirable to lay hold
-' '-. o-f anything likely to con-
'. tain provisions.
s. ,-By-and-by we began to
i perceive th it, between and
.. beyond t'e cliffs, green
ito t grass and trees were dis-
ple I cernible. Fritz could dis-
ay r tinguish many tall palms,
W IN would prove to be cocoa-
lnut trees, and enjoyed the
S thoughts of drinking the
--. refreshing milk.
"I am very sorry I never
thought of bringing away
t- the Captain's telescope,"
--- -- said I.
"Oh, look here, father!"
R:'lEURNING TinhuS. cried Jack, drawing a little
spy-glass joyfully out of
By means of this glass, I made out that at some distance to the left the coast
was much more inviting, a strong current however carried us directly towards
the frowning rocks, but I presently observed an opening, where a stream flowed
into the sea, and saw that our geese and ducks were swimming towards thi,
place. I steered after them into the creek, and we found ourselves in a small
bay or inlet where the water was perfectly smooth and of moderate depth. The
ground sloped gently upwards from the low banks to the cliffs which hern
retired inland, leaving a small plain, on which it was easy for us to land. Every
one sprang gladly out of the boat but little Franz, who, lying packed ia his tub
like a potted shrinp, had to be lifted out by his mother.
The dogs had scrambled on shore before us; they received us with loud
barking and the wildest demonstrations of delight. The geese and ducks kept
Jack makes a Prize. 7
up an incessant din, added to which was the screaming and croaking of
flamingoes and penguins, whose dominion we were invading. The noise was
deafening, but far from unwelcome to me, as I thought of the good dinners the
birds might furnish.
As soon as we could oi... .ur children around us on dry land, we knelt to
ofier thanks and praise !.... merciful escape, and with full hearts we com-
mended ourselves to God's good keeping for the time to come.
All hands then briskly fell to the work of unloading, and oh how rich we felt
ourselves as we did
so! The poultry --- -
we left at liberty to .-
forage for them- -
selves, and setabout
finding a suitable
place to erect a tent -
in which to pass
the night. This .-
we speedily did; l
thrusting a long '
spar into a hole in w
the rock, and sup- .
porting the other -
end by a pole firm- -
ly planted in the "
ground, we formed
a framework over ,
which we stretched
the sail-cloth we
had brought; be-
sides fastening this
down with pegs,
we placed our
heavy chests and f
boxes on the border
of the canvas, and 7
arranged hooks so
as to be able to
close up the en-
trance during the -
When this was
accomplished, the -- -
boys had to collect
moss and grass, to
spread in the tent
for our beds, while
I arranged a fire- MOTHER ROTER! A LOBSTER
Flace with some
large flat stones near the brook which flowed close by. Dry twigs and sea-
weed were soon in a blaze on the hearth, I filled the Iron pot with water, and
giving my wife several cakes of the portable soup, she established herself as our
cook, with little Franz to help her.
Hle, thinking his mother was melting some glue for carpentering, was eager
to know "what papa was going to make next?
This is to be soup for your dinner, my child. Do you think these cakes
look like glue ? "
"Yes, indeed I do," replied Franz, "and I should not much like to taste glue
soup! don't you want some beef or mutton, mamma ? "
"' Where can I get it, dear said she, we are a long way from a butcher's
8 The Swiss Family Robinson.
shop i but these cakes are made of the juice of good meat, boiled till it becomes
a strong stiff jelly-people take them when they go to sea, because on a long
voyage they can only have salt meat, which will not make nice soup."
Fritz meanwhile leaving a loaded gun with me, took another himself, and
went along the rough coast to see what lay beyond the stream; this fatiguing
sort of walk not suiting Ernest's fancy, he sauntered down to the beach, and
Jack scrambed among the rocks searching for shellfish.
I was anxious to land the two casks which were floating alongside our boat,
but on attempting to do so, 1 found that I could not get them up the bank on
which we had landed, and was therefore obliged to look for a more convenient
spot. As 1 did so, I was startled by hearing Jack shouting 'for help, as though
in great danger. He was at some distance, and I hurried towards him with a
hatchet in my hand. The little fellow stood screaming in a deep pool, and as I
approached, I saw that a huge lobster had caught his leg in its powerful claw.
Poor Jack was in a terrible fright; kick as he would, his enemy still clung on.
I waded into the water, and seizing the lobster firmly by the back, managed to
make it loosen its hold, and we brought it safe to land. Jack, having speedily
recovered his spirits, and anxious to take such a prize to his mother, caught the
lobster in both hands, but instantly received such a severe blow from its tail,
that he flung it down, and passionately hit the creature with a large stone.
This display of temper vexed me. "You are acting in a very childish way,
my son," said I, "Never strike an enemy in a revengeful spirit." Once more
lifting the lobster, Jack ran triumphantly towards the tent.
"Mother, mother! a lobster! A lobster, Ernest! look here, Franz mind,
he'll bite you! Where's Fritz ?" All came crowding round Jack and his
prize, wondering at its unusual size, and Ernest wanted his mother -to make
lobster soup directly, by adding it to what she was now boiling.
She, however, begged to decline making any such experiment, and said she
preferred cooking one dish at a time. Having remarked that the scene of Jack's
adventure afforded a convenient place for getting my casks on shore, I returned
thither and succeeded in drawing them up on the beach, where I set them on
end, and for the present left them.
On my return I resumed the subject of Jack's lobster, and told him he should
have the offending claw all to himself when it was ready to be eaten, con-
gratulating him on being the first to discover anything useful.
"As to that," said Ernest, "I found something very good to eat, as well as
Jack, only I could not get at them without wetting my feet."
How shall we eat our Soup 9
"Pooh!" cried Jack, "I know what he ,. -i,.. ;,. I., lt some nasty
mussels-I saw them too. Who wants to eat I, i. It! Lobster for
"I believe them to be oysters, not mussels," returned Ernest, calmnly.
"Be good enough, my philosophical young friend, to fetch a few specimens of
these oysters in time for our next meal, said I; "we must all exert ourselves
Ernest, for the common good, and pray never let me hear you object to wetting
your feet. See how quickly the sun has dried Jack and me."
"I can bring some salt at the same time," said Ernest," I remarked a good
deal lying in the crevices of the rocks; it tasted very pure and good, and I
concluded it was produced by the evaporation of sea water in the sun."
Extremely probable, learned sir," cried I; but if you had brought a bag
full of this good salt instead of merely speculating so profoundly on the subject,
it would have been more to the purpose. Run and fetch some directly.
It proved to he salt sure enough, although so impure that it seemed useless,
till my wife dissolved and strained it, when it became fit to put in the soup.
Why not use the sea water itself ? asked Jack.
Because," said Ernest, it is not only salt, but bitter too. Just try it."
"lNow," said my wife, tasting the soup with the stick with which she had
been stirring it," dinner is ready, but where can Fritz be?" she continued, a
"ExHow are we to eat our soup when he does comeif" I asked; "bwe have
neither plates nor spoons, and we can scarcely lift the boiling pot to our mouths.
We are in as uncomfortable a position as was the fox to whom the stork served
up a dinner in a jug with a long neck."
o1 The Swiss Family Robinson.
Oh, for a few cocoa-nut shells !" sighed Ernest.
"Oh, for half a dozen plates and as many silver spoons!" rejoined I,
"Really though, oyster shells would do," said he, after a moment's
True, that is an idea worth having! Off with you my boys, get the oysters
and clean out a few shells. What though our spoons have no handles, and we
do burn our fingers a little in baling the soup out."
Jack was away and up to his kness in the water in a moment detaching the
oysters. Ernest followed more leisurely, and still unwilling to wet his feet,
stood by the margin of the pool and gathered in his handkerchief the oysters his
brother threw him; as he thus stood he picked up and pocketed a large mussel
shell for his own use. As they returned with a good supply we heard a shout
from Fritz in the distance; we returned it joyfully, and he presently appeared
before us, his hands behind his back, and a look of disappointment upon his
Unsuccessful! said he.
lle.ly I replied; never mind, my boy, better luck next time."
Oh, Fritz ex-
Sclaimed his brothers
who had looked be-
hind him," a sucking-
pig, a little sucking-
pig. Where did you
Si, d t get it ? How did ou
shoot it Do let us
Fritz then with
e go sparkling eyes ex-
hibited his prize.
I am glad to see
S the result of your
ot. prowess, mny boy,"
said I; but I cannot
approve of deceit,
even as a joke; stick
OYSTERS. to the truth in jest
Fritz then told us how he had been to the other side of the stream. So
different from this," he said; it is really a beautiful country, and the shore,
which runs down to the sea in a gentle slope, is covered with all1sorts of useful
things from the wreck. Do let us go and collect them. And, father, why
should we not return to the wreck and bring off some of the animals ? Just
think of what value the cow would be to us, and what a pity it would be to lose
her. Let us get her on shore, and we will move over the stream, where she will
have good pasturage, and we shall be in the shade instead of on this desert, and,
father, I do wish-"
Stop, stop, my boy !" cried I. "All will be done in good time. To-morrow
and the day after will bring work of their owns. And tell me, did you see no
traces of our shipmates ?"
Not a sign of them, either on land or sea, living or dead," he replied.
But the sucking pig," said Jack, where did you get it ? "
"It was one of several," said Fritz, which I found on the shore; most
curious animals they are, they hopped rather than walked, and every now and
then would squat down on their hind legs and rub their snouts with their fore-
paws. Had not I been afraid of losing them all, I would have tried to catch one
alive they seemed so tame."
Meanjc'hile, Ernest had been carefully examining the animal in question.
"This is no pig," he said; "and except for its bristly skin, does not look
Ernest's Prudence. I
like one. See its teeth are not like those of a pig, but rather those of a
squirrel. In fact," he continued, looking at Fritz, "your sucking-pig is an
Dear me," said Fritz, "listen to the great professor lecturing! He is going
to prove that a pig is not a pig "
You need not be so quick to laugh at your brother," said I, in my turn;
"he is quite right. I, too, know the Agouti by descriptions and pictures, and
there is little doubt that this is a specimen. The little animal is a native of
North America, where it makes its nest under the roots of trees, and lives upon
fruit. But, Ernest, the Agouti not only looks something like a pig, but most
decidedly grunts like a porker.
'While we were thus talking, Jack had been vainly endeavouring to open an
oyster with his large knife. Here is a simpler way," said 7, r' .... oyster
on the fire; it immediately opened. "Now," I continued, I.. i Iry this
delicacy ? All at first hesitated to partake of them, so unattractive did they
appear. Jack, however, tightly closing his eves and making a face as though
about to take medicine, gulped one down, We followed his example, one after
the other, each doing so rather to provide himself with a spoon than with any
hope of cultivating a taste for oysters.
Our spoons were now ready, and gathering round the pot we dipped them in,
not, however, without sundry scalded fingers. Ernest then drew from his
pocket the large shell he had procured for his own use, and scooping up a good
quantity of soup he put it down to cool, smiling at his own foresight.
"Prudence should be exercised for others," I remarked; your cool soup will
do capitally for the dogs, my boy; take it to them, and then come and eat like
the rest of us."
Ernest winced at this, but silently taking up his shell he placed it on the
ground before the hungry dogs, who lapped up its contents in a moment; he
then returned, and we all went merrily on with our dinner. While we were
thus busily employed, we suddenly discovered that our dogs, not satisfied with
their mouthful of soup, had espied the Agouti, and were rapidly devouring it.
Fritz seizing his gun flew to rescue it from their hungry jaws, and before I
12 The Swiss Family Robinson.
could prevent him, struck one of them with such force that his gun was bent.
The poor beasts ran off howling, followed by a shower of stones from Fritz, who
shouted and yelled at them so fiercely, that his mother was actually terrified. I
allowed him, and as soon as he would listen to me, represented to him how
despicable as well as wicked was such an outbreak of temper: for," said I,
"you have hurt, if not actually wounded, the dogs; you have distressed and
terrified your mother, and spoiled your gun."
Though Fritz's passion was easily aroused it never lasted long, and speedily
recovering himself, immediately he entreated his mother's pardon, and expressed
his sorrow for his fault.
By this time the sun was sinking beneath the horizon, and the poultry, which
had been straying to some little distance, .t l.:..i ..... nd us, and began to pick
up the crumb of biscuits which had !1..r ..- I... our repast. My wife
whereupon drew from her mysterious bag some handfuls of oats, peas, and other
grain, and with them began to feed the poultry. She at the same time showed
me several other seeds of various vegetables. "That was indeed thoughtful,"
said I; "but pray be careful of what will be of such value to us; we can bring
plenty of damaged biscuits from the wreck, which though of no use as food for
us, will suit the fowls very well indeed.
The pigeons now flew up to crevices in the rocks, the fowls perched themselves
on our tent pole, and the ducks and geese waddled off cackling and quacking to
the marshy margin of the river. We too, were ready for repose, and having
loaded our guns, and offered up our prayers to God, thanking him for his many
mercies to us, we conmencaded ourselves to his protecting care, and as the last ray
of light departed, closed our tent and lay down to rest.
The children remarked the suddenness of nightfall, for indeed there had been
little or no I-.,li .i r This convinced me that we must be not far from the
equator, for i..,Iii results from n he refraction of the sun's rays; the more
obliquely these rays fall, the further does the partial light extend, while the
more perpendicularly they strike the earth the longer do they continue their
undiminished force, until, when the sun sinks, they totally disappear, thus
producing sudden darkness.
A morning consultation-Breakfast-Away on an expedition-Over the stream and
through the grass-An unexpected reinforcement-Search in vain for our comrades
-Rest by a stream-Fritz finds a round bird's nest "-Natural history of a cocoa-
nut-Calabash trees-The use of gourds-How to make a bottle-A lovely but
lonely scene-Sugar-canes-Monkeys of use-Cocoa-nut milk turned to champagne
-Turk kills an unfortunate mother monkey-Carry the orphan home-Display our
treasures-A sumptuous supper-Ernest's ...... ,-.. '...., ...'.. s.e led to vinegar
-A fight with jackals-A curious sentinel- r I.. ---.. rig our craft
-Stow a cargo-Sleep on board--Floats for our herd-We embark-Encounter a
shark-Land-Relate our adventures.
Wi should have been badly off without the shelter of our tent, for the night
proved as cold as the day had been hot, but we managed to sleep comfortably,
every one being thoroughly fatig -.1 1 1-- the labours of the day. The voice of
our vigilant cock, which as he .... I saluted the rising moon, was the last
sound I heard at night, roused me at daybreak, and I then awoke my wife, that
in the quiet interval while yet our children slept, we might take counsel
together on our situation and prospects. It was plain to both of us that in the
first place, we should ascertain if possible the fate of our late companions, and
then examine into the nature and resources of the country on which we were
An Excursion. 13
We therefore came to the resolution that, as soon as we-had breakfasted,
Fritz and I should start on an expedition with these objects in view, while my
wife remained near our landing-place with the three younger boys.
Rouse up, rouse up, my boys," cried I, awakening the children cheerfully.
"Come and help your mother to get breakfast ready."
As to that," said she, smiling, "we can but set on the pot, and boil some
Why! you forget Jack's fine lobster! replied I. What has become of it,
"It has been safe in this hole in the rock all night, father. You see, I
thought as the dogs seem to like good things, they might take a fancy to that as
well as to the Agouti."
"A very sensible precaution," remarked I; "I believe even my heedless
Jack will learn wisdom in time. It is well the lobster is so large, for we shall
want to take part with us on our excursion to-day."
At the mention of an excursion, the four children were wild with delight, and,
capering around me, clapped their hands for joy.
"Steady there, steady!" said 1, "you cannot expect all to go. Such an
expedition as this would be too dangerous and fatiguing for you younger ones.
Fritz and I will go alone this time, with one of the dogs, leaving the other to
We then armed ourselves, each taking a gun and a game bag; Fritz in addition
sticking a pair of pistols in his belt, and I a small hatchet in mine; breakfast
being over, we stowed away the remainder of the lobster and some biscuits, with
a flask of water, and were ready for a start.
Stop !" I exclaimed, we have still left something very important un-
Surely not," said Fritz.
"Yes, said I, we have not yet joined in morning prayer. We are only too
ready, amid the cares and pleasures of this life, to forget the God to whom we
owe all things." Then having commended ourselves to his protecting care I
took leave of my wife and children, and bidding them not wander far from the
boat and tent, we parted not without some anxiety on either side, for we knew
not what might assail us in this unknown region.
We now found that the banks of the stream were on both sides so rocky that
we could get down to the water by only one narrow passage, and there was no
corresponding path on the other side. I was glad to see this however, for I now
knew that my wife and children were on a comparatively inaccessible spot, the
other side of the tent being protected by steep and precipitous cliff's. Fritz and
I pursued our way up the stream until we reached a point where the waters fell
from a considerable height in a cascade, and where several large rocks lay half
covered by the water; by means of these we succeeded in crossing the stream in
safety. We thus had the sea on our left, and a long line of rocky heights, here
and there adorned with clumps of trees, stretching away inland to the right.
We had forced our way scarcely fifty yards through the long rank grass, which
was here partly withered by the sun and much tangled, when we heard behind
us a rustling, and on looking round saw the grass waving to and fro, as if some
animal were passing through it. Fritz instantly turned and brought his gun to
his shoulder, ready to fire the moment the beast should appear. I was much
pleased with my son's coolness and presence of mind, for it showed me that I
might thoroughly rely upon him on any future occasion when real danger might
occur; this time, however, no savage beast rushed out, but our trusty dog Turk,
whom, in our anxiety at parting, we had forgotten, and who had been sent after
us doubtless by my thoughtful wife.
From this little incident, however, we saw how dangerous was our position,
and how difficult escape would be should any fierce beast steal upon us unawares:
we therefore hastened to make our way to the open sea-shore. Here the scene
which presented itself was indeed delightful. A background of hills, the green
waving grass, the pleasant groups of trees stretching here and there to the very
I4 The Swiss Family Robinson.
water's edge, formed a lovely prospect. On the smooth sand we searched care-
fully for any trace of our hapless companions, but not the mark of a footstep
could we find.
Shall I fire a shot or two ? said Fritz; "that would bring our companions,
if they are within hearing."
"It would indeed," I replied, "or any savages that may be here. No, no;
let us search diligently, but as quietly as possible.'
"But why, father, should we trouble ourselves about them at all? They left
us to shift for ourselves, and I for one don't care to set eyes on them again."
"You are wrong, my boy," said T. In the first place, we should not return
evil for evil; then, again,
they might be of great as-
,'.',-' ",:_..'"' '' ; K' ... i'n distance to us in building a
house of some sort; and
: I lastly, you must remember
o V -that they took nothing
with them from the vessel,
and may be perishing of
SThus talking, we pushed
on until we came to a plea-
sant grove which stretched
lo'' down to the water's edge;
st'a w- e e, here we halted to rest, seat-
St ing ourseles under a large
', tree, by a rivulet which
s murmured and splashed
along its pebbly bed into
the great ocean before us.
A thousand gaily-plum-
aged birds flew twittering
t-' .. above us, and Fritz and I
gazed up at them.
: y son suddenly started
wt t e "sA monkeyy" hle ex-
claimed; "I am nearly
sure I saw a monkey."
-- As ,he spoke he sprang
round to the other side of
A PLEASANT R:ST. the tree, and in doing so
stumbled over a round sub-
stance, which he handed to me, remarking, as he did so, that it was a round
bird's nest, of which he had often heard.
You may have done so," said I laughing, "but you need not necessarily
conclude that every round hairy thing is a bird's nest; this, for instance, is
not one, but a cocoa-nut,"
We split open the nut, but to our disgust, found the kernel dry and
"lullo," cried Fritz, "I always thought a cocoa-nut was full of delicious
sweet liquid, like almond milk."
So it is," I replied, when young and fresh, but as it ripens the milk be-
comes congealed, and in course of time is solidified into a kernel. This kernel
then dries as you see here, but when the nrut falls on favourable soil, the germ
within the kernel swells until it bursts through the shell, and taking root,
springs up a new tree."
"I do not understand," said Fritz, how the little germ manages to get
through this great thick shell, which is not like an almond or hazel nut-shell,
that is divided down the middle already,"
Calabash Trees. 15
Nature provides for all things," I answered, taking up the pieces. Look
here, do you see these three round holes near the stalk: it is through them that
the germ obtains egress. Now let us find a good nut if we can."
As cocoa-nuts must be over-ripe before they fall naturally from the tree, it
was not without difficulty that we obtained one in which the kernel was not
dried up. When we succeeded, however, we were so refreshed by the fruit that
we could defer the repast we called our dinner until later in the day, and so
spare our stock of provisions.
Continuing our way through a thicket, and which was so densely overgrown
with lianas that we had to clear a passage with our hatchets, we again emerged
on the seashore beyond, and found an open view, the forest sweeping inland,
while on the space before us stood at intervals single trees of remarkable
These at once attracted Fritz's observant eye, and he pointed to them, ex-
Oh, what absurd-looking trees, father! See what strange bumps there are
on the trunks."
We approached to examine them, and I recognized them as calabash trees, the
fruit of which grows in this curious way on the stems, and is a species of
gourd from the hard rind of which bowls, spoons, and bottles can be made.
"The savages," I remarked, "are said to form these things most ingeni-
ously, using them to contain liquids : indeed, they actually cook food in
Oh, but that is impossible," returned Fritz. "I am quite sure this rind
would be burnt through directly it was set on the fire."
I did not say it was set on the fire at all. When the gourd has been divided
in two, and the shell or rind emptied of its contents, it is filled with water, into
which the fish, or whatever is to be cooked, is put; red-hot stones are added
until the water boils ; the food becomes fit to eat, and the gourd-rind remains
"That is a very clever plan: very simple too. I daresay I should have hit
on it, if I had tried," said Fritz.
The friends of Columbus thought it very easy to make an egg stand upon
its end when he had shown them how to do it. But now suppose we prepare
some of these calabashes, that they may be ready for use when we take them
Fritz instantly took up one of the gourds, and tried to split it equally with
his knife, but in vain; the blade slipped, and the calabash was cut jaggedly.
" What a nuisance! said Fritz, flinging it down, the thing is spoiled: and
yet it seemed so simple to divide it properly."
"Stay," said I; you are too impatient, those pieces are not useless. Do
you try to fashion from them a spoon or two while I provide a dish."
I then took from my pocket a piece of string, which I tied tightly round a
gourd, as near one end of it as I could; then tapping the string with the back
of my knife, it penetrated the outer shell. When this was accomplished, I tied
the string yet tighter; and drawing the ends with all my might, the gourd fell,
divided exactly as I wished.
That is clever !" cried Fritz. What in the world put that plan into
your head ?"
"It is a plan," I replied, which the negroes adopt, as I have learned from
reading books of travel."
"Well, it certainly makes a capital soup-tureen, and a soup-plate too," said
Fritz, examining the gourd. But supposing you had wanted to make a
bottle, how would you have set to work ?"
It would be an easier operation than this, if possible. All that is necessary,
is to cut a round hole at one end, then to scoop out the interior, and to drop in
several shot or stones; when these are shaken, any remaining portions of the
fruit are detached, and the gourd is thoroughly cleaned, and the bottle cogm-
r6 The Swiss Family Robinson.
"That would not make a very convenient bottle though, father; it would be
more like a barrel."
"True, my boy; if you want a more shapely vessel, you must take it in hald
when it is younger. To give it a neck, for instance, you must tie a bandage
round the young gourd while it is still on the tree, and then all will swell but
that part which you have checked."
As I spoke, I filled the gourds with sand, and left them to dry; marking ,the.
spot that me might return for them on our way back.
For three hours or more we pushed forward, keeping a sharp look-out on
either side for any trace of our companions, till we reached a bold promontory,
stretching some way into the sea, from whose rocky summit I knew that we
should obtain a good and comprehensive view of the surrounding country.
With little difficulty we reached the top, but the most careful survey of the
beautiful landscape failed to show us the slightest sign or trace of human beings.
Before us stretched a wide and lovely bay, fringed with yellow sands, either
side -:t. i.l'ii: itu the distance, and almost lost to view in two shadowy pro-
montories; inclosed by these two arms lay a sheet of rippling water, which
reflected in its depths the glorious sun above. The scene inland was no less
beautiful; and yet Fritz and I both felt a shade of loneliness stealing over us as
we gazed on its utter solitude.
Cheer up, Fritz, my boy," said I, presently. Remember that we chose a
settler's life long ago, before we left our own dear country; we certainly did
not expect to be so entirely alone-but what matters a few people, more or less.
With God's help, let us endeavour to live here contentedly, thankful that we
were not cast upon some bare and inhospitable island. But come, the heat here
is getting unbearable; let us find some shady place before we are completely
We descended the hill and made for a clump of palm trees, which we saw at
a little distance. To reach this, we had to pass through a dense thicket of
reeds, no pleasant or easy task; for, besides the difficulty of forcing our way
though, I feared at every step that we might tread on some venomous snake.
Sending Turk in advance, I cut one of the reeds, thinking it would be a more
useful weapon against a reptile than my gun. I had carried it but a little way,
when I noticed a thick juice exuding from one end. I tasted it, and to my
delight, found it sweet and pleasant. I at once know that I was I ..iu.
amongst sugar-canes. Wishing Fritz to make the same discovery, I advised
him to cut a cane for his defence; he did so, and as he beat the ground before
him, the reed split, and his hand was covered with the juice. He carefully
touched the cane with the tip of his tongue, then, finding the juice sweet, he
did so again with less hesitation; and a moment afterwards sprang back to me,
Oh, father, sugar-canes, sugar-canes! Taste it. Oh, how delicious, how
delightful! do let us take a lot home to mother," he continued, sucking eagerly
at the cane!
Gently there," said I, "take breath a moment, moderation in all things,
remember. Cut some to take home if you like, only don't take more than you
can conveniently carry."
In spite of my warning, my son cut a dozen or more of the largest canes, and
stripping them of their leaves, carried them under his arm. We then pushed
through the cane-brake, and reached the clump of palms for which we had been
making; as we entered it a troop of monkeys, who had been disporting them-
selves on the ground, sprang up chattering and grimmacing, and before we
could clearly distinguish them, were at the very top of the trees.
Fritz was so provoked by their impertinent gestures that he raised his gun,
and would have shot one of the poor beasts.
.- tr,," cried I, "never take the life of any animal needlessly. A live
monkey up in that tree is of more use to us than a dozen dead ones at our feet,
as I will show you."
Saying this, I gathered a handful of small stones, and threw them up towards
Cocoa-nut Wine. 17
tBc apes. The stones did not go near them, but influenced by their instinctive
mania for imitation, they instantly seized all the cocoa-nuts within their reach,
and sent a perfect hail of them down upon us.
Fritz was delighted with my stratagem, and rushing forward picked up some
cf the finest of the nuts. We drank the milk they contained, drawing it
through the holes which I pierced, and then splitting the nuts open with the
hatchet, ate the cream which lined their shells. After this delicious meal, we
thoroughly despised the lobster we had bten carrying, and threw it to Turk,
who ate it gratefully; but far from being satisfied, the poor beast .began to
gnaw the ends of the sugar-canes, and to beg for cocoa-nut. I slung a couple
of the nuts over my shoulder, fastening them together by their stalks, and
Fritz having resumed his burden, we began our homeward march.
I soon discovered that Fritz found the weight of his canes considerably more
than he expected: he shifted them from shoulder to shoulder, then for a while
carried them under his arm, and finally stopped short with a sigh. I had no
idea he said, that a few reeds would be so heavy."
everr mind, my boy," I said, "Patience and courage! Do you not
remember the story of JEsop and his bread-basket, how heavy he found it
when he started, and how light at the end of his journey ? Let us each take
a fresh staff, and then fasien the bundle crosswise with your gun."
We did so, and once more stepped forward. Fritz presently noticed that I
from time to time sucked the end of my cane.
Oh, come," said he, that's a capital plan of yours, father, I'll do
So saying, he began to suck most vigorously, but not a drop of the juice
could he extract. How is this ?" he asked. Iow do you get the juice out,
Think a little," I replied, "you are quite as capable as I am of finding out
the way, even if you do not know the real reason of your failure."
Oh of course," said he, "it is like trying to suck marrow from a marrow
bone, without making a hole at the other end."
"Quite right," I aid, you form a vacuum in your mouth and the end of
your tube, and expect the air to force down the liquid from the other end which
it cannot possibly enter."
Fritz was speedily perfect in the accomplishment of sucking sugar-cane,
discovering by experience the necessity for a fresh cut at each joint or knot in
your cane, through which the juice could not flow; he talked of the pleasure of
initiating his brothers in the art, and of how Ernest would enjoy the cocoa-nut
milk, with which he had filled his flask.
My dear boy,' said I, you need not have added that to your load? the
chances are it is vinegar by the time we get home. In the heat of the sun, it
will ferment soon after being drawn from the nut."
'Vingar! Oh that would be a horrid bore! I must look directly, and see
how it is getting on," cried Fritz, hastily swinging the flask from his shoulder,
and tugging out the cork. With a loud pop," the contents came forth, foaming
There now said I, laughing as he tasted this new luxury, you will have
to exercise moderation again, friend Fritz I daresay it is delicious, but it will
go to your head, if you venture deep into your flask."
My dear father, you cannot think how good it is Do take some. Vinegar,
indeed! This is like excellent wine."
We were both invigorated by this unexpected draught, and went on so merrily
after it, that the distance to the place where we had left our gourd dishes
seemed less than we expected. We found them quite dry, and very light and
easy to carry.
Just as we had passed through the grove in which we had breakfasted, Turk
suddenly darl.:.1 .-. 1, r...... us, and sprang furiously among a troop of monkeys,
which were ,; *. i..li*!'' p! lyfully on the turf at a little distance from the trees.
They were taken by surprise completely, and the dog, now really ravenous
18 The Swiss Family Robinson.
from hunger, had seized, and was fiercely tearing one to pieces before we could
approach the spot.
His luckless victim was the mother of a tiny little monkey, which being on
her back when the dog flew at her, had hindered her flight; the little creature
attempted to hide among the grass, and in trembling fear watched the tragic
fate of its mother. On perceiving Turk's bloodthirsty design, Fritz had e i- 1
rushed to the rescue, Dfiging away all he was carrying and losing his ihr in.
his haste. All to no purpose as far as the poor mother ape was concerned, and
a laughable scene ensued, for no sooner did the young monkey catch sight of
him, than at one bound it was on his shoulders, and, holding fast by his thick
curly hair, it firmly kept its seat in spite of all he could do to 1 i.-.1i: Ir He
screamed and plunged about as he endeavoured to shake or pull ii,. i- ,r,,,. off,
but all in vain, it only clung the closer to his neck, making the most absurd
I laughed so much at this ridiculous scene that I could scarcely assist my
terrified boy out of his awkward predicament.
At last, by coaxing the monkey, offering it a bit of biscuit, and gradually
i .: I .... i:.I! its small sinewy paws from the curls it grasped so tightly, 1
managed to relieve poor Fritz, who then looked with interest at the baby ape,
no bi-'o- than a kitten, as it lay in my arms.
-. Vi u.i a jolly little fellow it is! exclaimed he, "do let me try to rear it,
father. I dare say cocoa nut milk would do until we can bring the cow and the
goats from the wreck. If he lives he might be useful to us. I believe monkeys
', K, ri 1' know what fruits are wholesome and what are poisonous."
':. !i,' -.aid I, "let the little orphan be yours. You bravely and kindly
exerted yourself to save the mother's life, now you must train her child care-
fully, for unless you do so, its natural instinct will prove mischievous instead of
useful to us."
Turk was meanwhile devouring with great satisfaction the little animal's
unfortunate mother. I could not grudge it him, and continued hunger might
have made him I,,. to ourselves. We did not think it necessary to
wait until he had -.,, we prepared to resume our march.
The tiny ape seated itself in the coolest way imaginable on Fritz's shoulder,
I helped to carry his canes, and we were on some distance before Turk overtook
us, looking uncommonly well pleased, and licking his chops as though recalling
the memory of his feast.
He took no notice of the monkey, but it was very uneasy at sight of him,
and scrambled down into Fritz's arms, which was so inconvenient to him that
he devised a plan to relieve himself of his burden. Calling Turk, and seriously
enjoining obedience, he seated the monkey on his back, securing it there with
a cord, and then putting a second string round the dog's neck that he might
lead him, he put a loop of the knot into the comical riders hand, --ii
gravely, "Having slain the parent, Mr. Turk, you will please to ...., ti,
At first this arrangement mightily displeased them both, but by and by they
yielded to it quietly; the monkey especially amused us by riding along with
the air of a person perfectly at his ease.
We look just like a couple of mountebanks on their way to a fair with
animals to exhibit," said I. What an outcry the children will make when we
My son enquired to what species of the monkey tribe I thought his protege
heolneed, which led to a good deal of talk on the subject, and conversation
1. -. i. the way, we found ourselves ere long on the rocky margin of the stream
and close to the rest of our party.
Juno was the first to be aware of our approach, and gave notice of it by loud
1.. .1...,, to which Turk replied with such hearty good will, that his little rider,
i .. .. at the noise his steed was making, slipped from under the cord and fled
to his refuge on Fritz's shoulder, where he regained his composure and settled
We Carry the OrI/an Monkey home. 19
Turk, who by this time knew where he was, finding himself free, dashed
forward to rejoin his friend, and announce our coming.
One after another our dear ones came running to the opposite bank, testifying
in various ways their delight at our return, and hastening up on their siae of
the river, as we on ours, to the ford at which we had crossed in the morning.
TURK CARRYING rTHE MONKEY.
We were quickly on the other side, and, full of joy and affection, our happy
party was once more united.
The boys suddenly perceiving the little animal which was clinging close to
their brother, in alarm at the tumult of voices, shouted in ecstasy.
A monkey! a monkey! oh how splendid! where did Fritz find him ? What
may we give him to at ? Oh, what a bundle of sticks Look at those curious
great nuts father has got! "
We could neither check this confused torrent of questions, nor get in a word
in answer to them.
At length when the excitement subsided a little, I was able to say a few words
with a chance of being listened to. I am truly thankful to see you all safe
and well, and, thank God, our expedition has been very satisfactory, except that
we have entirely failed to discover any trace of our shipmates."
If it be the will of God," said my wife, "to leave us alone on this solitary
Tlace, let us be content; and rejoice that we are altogether in safety."
20 The Swiss Family Robinson.
"Now we want to hear all your adventures, and let us relieve you of your
burdens," added she, taking my game bag..
Jack shouldered my gun, Ernest took the cocoa-nuts, and little Franz carried
the gourds, Fritz distributed the sugar canes amongst his brothers, and handing
Ernest his gun replaced the monkey on Turk's back. Ernest soon found the
burden with which Fritz had laden him too heavy to his taste. His mother per-
ceiving this, offered to relieve him of part of the load. He gave up willingly the
cocoa-nuts, but no sooner had he done so than his elder brother exclaimed-
"Hullo, Ernest, you surely do not know what you are parting with ; did you
really intend to hand over those good cocoa-nuts without so much as tasting
What? ho! are they really cocoa-nuts ?" cried Ernest, "Do let me take
them again, mother, do let me look at them." No, thank you," replied my
wife with a smile. "I have no wish to see you again overburdened." "Oh but
I have only to throw away these sticks, which are of no use, and then I can
easily carry them."
Worse and worse," said Fritz; I have a particular regard for those heavy
useless sticks. Did you ever hear of sugar canes ? "
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when Ernest began to suck vigor-
ously at the end of the cane with no better result, however, than Fritz had
obtained as we were on the march.
Here," said Fritz, "let me show you the trick of it," and he speedily set all
thls .... I .. work extracting the luscious juice.
; -' i prudent housekeeper, was no less dci.1Li.... than the children
with this discovery; the sight of the dishes also pleased her greatly, for she
1. r.- 1 t.. see us eat once more like civilised beings. We went into the kitchen
.I I, i. found I... ..i ..... for a truly sumptuous meal. Two forked sticks
were planted in -.!. ; ... a_ either side of the fire, on these rested a rod from
which hung several tempting looking fish, opposite them hung a goose from a
similar contrivance, slowly roasting while the gravy dropped into a large shell
placed beneath it. In the centre sat the great pot from which issued the smell
of a most delicious soup. To crown this splendid array, stood an open hogshead
full of Dutch cheeses. All this was very pleasant to two hungry travellers, but
I was about to beg my wife to spare the poultry until our stock should have in-
creased, when she, perceiving my thought, quickly relieved my anxiety. "This
is not one of our geese," she said, but a wild bird Ernest killed."
"Yes," said Ernest, "It is a Penguin, I think, it let me get quite close, so
that I knocked it on the head with a stick. Here are its head and feet which I
preserved to show you; the bill is, you see, narrow and curved downwards, and
the feet are webbed. It had funny little bits of useless wings, and its eyes looked
so solemnly and sedately at me, that I was almost ashamed to kill it. Do you
not think it must have been a Penguin ? "
I have little doubt on the matter, my boy," and I was about to make a few
remarks on the habits of this bird, when my wife interrupted me and begged us
to come to dinner and continue our natural history conversation at some future
time. We then sat down before th. ..... I .... "n... prepared for us, our gourds
coming for the first time into use, ...'I, ,- ,,_ ..,,. it full justice, produced the
cocoa-nuts by way of dessert. Here is better food for your little friend," said
I to Fritz, who had been vainly ..1.. ,;,. i.. persuade the monkey to taste
dainty morsels of the food we h1.I ..., ,ii. "the poor little animal has
been accustomed I i.. i .ilI... Iut i. I,..I, -' .., i-, fetch me a saw, one ofyou."
I then, after -. -r,,i.. I.. milk of the nuts from their natural holes, carefully
cut the shells in half, thus providing several more useful basins. The monkey
was perfectly satisfied with the milk, and eagerly sucked the corner of a hand-
kerchief dipped in it. Fritz now suddenly recollected his delicious wine, and
producing his flask, begged his mother to taste it. Try it first yourself," said
I; Fritz did so, and I instantly saw by his countenance that the liquor had
passed through the first stage of :. i.. t,. LI t ,, I i ,ii t. :. ...n' vinegar.
" Never mind, my boy," said i, a1. .., .. -i-. ., lh.-- i.Larned the cause of
A Fight with Jackals. 21
his wry faces, we have wine already but no vinegar; I am really pleased at
The sun was now rapidly sinking beyond the horizon, and the poultry retiring
for the night warned us that we must follow their example. Having offered np
our prayers, we lay down on our beds, the monkey crouched down between Jack
and ritz, and we were all soon fast asleep.
We did not, however, long enjoy this repose; a loud barking from our dogs,
who were on guard outside the tent, awakened us, and the fluttering and cack-
ling of our poultry warned us that a foe was approaching. Fritz and I sprang
up, and seizing our guns rushed out. There we found a desperate combat going
on, our gallant dogs, surrounded by a dozen or more large jackals, were fighting
bravely, four of their opponents lay dead, but the others were in no way deterred
by the fate of their comrades. Fritz and I, however, sent bullets through the
heads of a couple more, and the rest galloped off. Turk and Juno did not intend
that they should escape so cheaply, and pursuing them, they caught, killed, and
devoured another of the animals, regardless of their new relationship. Fritz
wished to save one of the jackals that he might be able to show it to his brothers
in the morning; dragging therefore the one that he had shot near the tent, he
concealed it, and we once more returned to our beds,
Soundly and peacefully we slept until cock-crow next morning, when my wife
and I awoke, and began to discuss the business of the day.
It seems absolutely necessary, my dear wife," I began, to return at once to
the wreck while it is yet calm, that we may save the poor animals left there,
and bring on shore many articles of infinite value to us, which, if we do not now
recover, we may finally lose entirely. On the other hand, I feel that there is an
immense deal to be done on shore, and that I ought not to leave you in such an
insecure shelter as this tent."
Return to the wreck by all means," replied my wife, cheerfully. "Patience,
order, and perseverance will help us through all our work, and I agree with you
that a visit to the wreck is without doubt our first duty. Come, let us wake the
children, and set to work without delay."
They were soon roused, and Fritz overcoming his drowsiness before the
others, ran out for his jackal; it was cold and stiff from the night air, and he
placed it on its legs before the tent, in a most life-like attitude, and stood by to
watch the effect upon the family. The dogs were the first to perceive their
enemy, and growling, seemed inclined to dispose of the animal as they had
disposed of its brethren in the night, but Fritz called them off. The noise the
dogs made, however, had the effect of bringing out the younger children, and
many were the exclamations they made at the sight of the strange animal.
SA yellow dog cried Franz.
"A wolf! exclaimed Jack.
"It is a striped fox," said Ernest.
"Hullo," said Fritz. "The greatest men may make mistakes. Our
Professor does not know a jackal when he sees one."
But really," continued Ernest, examining the animal, I think it is a fox."
"Very well, very well," retorted Fritz, "no doubt you know better than your
father! He thinks it is a jackal."
"Come boys," said I, "no more of this quarrelling; you are none of you very
far wrong, for the jackal partakes of the nature of all three, dog, wolf, and fox.'.
Tte monkey had come out on Jack's shoulder, but no sooner did it catch
sigh of the jackal, than it fled precipitately back into the tent, and hid itself in
a heap of moss until nothing was visible but the tip of its little nose. Jack
soothed and comforted the frightened little animal, and I then summoned them
all to prayers, soon after which we began our breakfast. So severely had we
dealt with our supper the previous night, that we had little to eat but the
biscuits, which were so dry and hard, that, hungry as we were, we could not
swallow much. Fritz and I took some cheese to help them down, while my wife
and younger sons soaked theirs in water. Ernest roamed down to the shore, and
looked about for shell-fish. Presently he returned with a few whelks. "'Ah,"
22 The Swiss Fnmily Robinson.
said he, "if we had but some butter." "My good boy," I replied, "Your
perpetual IF Ir, quite annoys me, why do you not sit down and eat cheese like
the rest of us." Not while I can get butter;" he said, "see here, father,"
and he pointed to a large cask, "that barrel contains butter of some sort or
another, for it is oozing out at the end."
Really, Ernest," I said, we are indebted to you. I will open the cask." So
saying, I took a knife and carefully cut a small hole, so that I could extract
the butter without exposing the mass of it to the effects of the air and heat.
Filling a cocoa-nut shell, we once more sat down, and -...ri... .ir biscuits
before the fire, spread them with the good Dutch butter. W.. t ...- I this vastly
better than the dry biscuit, and while we were thus employed, I noticed that the
two dogs were lying unusually quietly by my side. I at first attributed this
drowsiness to their large meal during the night, but I soon discovered that it
arose from a different cause ; the faithful animals had not escaped unhurt from
their late combat, but had received several deep and painful wounds, especially
about the neck. The dogs began to lick each other on the places which they
could not reach with their own tongues, and my wife carefully dressed the
wounds with butter from which she had extracted the salt by washing.
A sudden thought now struck Ernest, and he wisely remarked, that if we were
to make spiked collars for the dogs, they would in future escape such dangerous
wounds. Oh yes," exclaimed Jack, and I will make them, may I not, father ?"
Try by all means, my little fellow," said I, and persuade your mother to
assist you, and now, Fritz," I continued, we must be starting, for you and I
are to make a trip to the wreck." I begged the party who were to remain on
shore, to keep together as much as possible, and having arranged a set of signals
with my wife, that we might exchange communications, asked a blessing on our
enterprise. I erected a signal post, and while Fritz was making preparations
for our departure, hoisted a strip of sailcloth as a flag; this flag was to remain
hoisted so long as all was well on shore, but should our return be desired, three
shots were to be fired and the flag lowered.
All was now ready, and warning my wife that we might find it necessary to
remniin all night on the vessel, we tenderly bade adieu and embarked. Except
our guns and ammunition we were taking nothing, that we might leave as much
space as possible for the stowage of a large cargo. Fritz, however, had resolved
to bring his little monkey, that he might obtain milk for it as soon as possible.
We hid not got far from the shore, when I perceived that a current from the
river set in directly for the vessel, and though my nautical knowledge was not
great, I succeeded in steering the boat into the favourable stream, which carried
us nearly three-fourths of our passage with little or no trouble to ourselves;
then, by dint of hard pulling, we accomplished the whole distance, and,
entering through the breach, gladly made fast our boat and stepped on board.
Our first care was to see to the animals, who greeted us with joy--lowing,
bellowing, and bleating as we approached; not that the poor beasts were
hungry, for they were all still well supplied with food, but they were apparently
pleased by the mere sight of human beings. Fritz then placed his monkey by
one of the goats, and the little animal immediately sucked the milk with evident
relish, chattering and grinning all the while; the monkey provided for, we
refreshed ourselves with some wine and biscuits. "Now," said I, "we have
plenty to do ; where shall we begin ?"
Let us fix a mast and sail to our boat," answered Fritz; "for the current
which brought us out will not take us back; whereas the fresh breeze we met
would help us immensely had we but a sail."
"Capital thought," I replied; "let us set to work at once."
I chose a stout spar to serve as a mast, and having made a hole in a plank
nailed across one of the tubs, we, with the help of a rope and a couple of blocks,
stepped it and secured it with stays. We then discovered a lug-sail, which had
belon ged to one of the ships' boats; this we hoisted; and our craft was ready to
sail. Fritz begged me to decorate the mast-head with a red streamer; to give
our vessel a more finished appearance. Smiling at this childish but natural
Sleep on Board. 23
vanity, I complied with his request. I then contrived a rudder, that I might be
able to steer the boat; for though I knew that an oar would serve the purpose,
it was cumbrous and inconvenient. While I was thus employed, Fritz examined
the shore with his glass, and soon announced that the flag was flying and all
So much time had now slipped away, that we found we could not return
that night, as I had wished. We signalled our intention of remaining on
board, and then spent the rest of our time in taking out the stones we had
placed in the boat for ballast, and stowed in their place heavy articles, of value
to us. The ship had sailed for the purpose of supplying a young colony, she had
therefore on board every conceivable article we could desire in our present
situation, our only difficulty indeed was to make a wise selection. A lhrge
quantity of powder and shot we first secured, and as Fritz considered that
we could not have too many weapons, we added three excellent guns, and
a whole armful of swords, daggers, and knives. We remembered that knives
and forks were necessary, we therefore laid in a large stock of them, and
kitchen utensils of all sorts. Exploring the captain's cabin, we discovered
a service of silver plate and a cellaret of good old wine; we then went
over the stores, and supplied ourselves with potted meats, portable soups,
Westphalian hams, sausages, a bag of maize and wheat, and a quantity of other
seeds and vegetables. I then added a barrel of sulphur for matches, and as
much cordage as I could find. All this-with nails, tools, and agricultural
implements-completed our cargo, and sank our boat so low, that I should have
been obliged to lighten her had not the sea been calm.
Night drew on, and a large fire, lighted by those on shore, showed us that all
was well. We replied by hoisting four ship's lanterns, and two shots announced
as that our signal was perceived; then, with a heart-felt prayer for the safety of
our dear ones on shore, we retired to our boat, and Fritz at all events was soon
sound asleep. For a while I could not sleep, the thought of my wife and
children-alone and unprotected, save by the great dogs-disturbed my rest.
The night at length passed away. At day-break Fritz and I arose, and went
on deck. I brought the telescope to bear upon the shore, and with pleasure saw
the flag still waving in the morning breeze; while I kept the glass directed to
the land, I saw the door of the tent open, and my wife appear and look stead-
fastly towards us.
I at once hoisted a white flag, and in reply, the flag on shore wns thrice
clipped. Oh, what a weight seemed lifted from my heart as I saw the signal!
"Fritz," I said, I am not now in such haste to get back, and begin to feel
compassion for all these poor beasts. I wish we could devise some means for
getting them on shore."
"We might make a : ifr. .... ..1 Fritz, "And take one ortwooff ata time."
"True," I replied; I i: ....ough to stiy, 'make a raft,' but to do it is
quite another thing."
Well," said Fritz, I can think of nothing else, unless indeed we make them
such swimming belts as you made for the children."
"Really, my boy, that idea is worth having. I am not joking, indeed," I
continued, as I saw him smile; "we may get every one of the animals ashore in
So saying, I caught a fine sheep, and proceeded to put our plan into execution.
I first fastened a broad piece of linen round its belly, and to lhis attached some
corks and empty tins; then with Fritz's help, I flung the animal into the sea-
it sank, but a moment afterwards rose and floated famously.
SHurrah exclaimed Fritz, we will treat them all like that." We then
rapidly caught the other animals and provided them one after the other with a
similar contrivance. The cow and ass gave us more trouble than did the others,
for, for them we required something more buoyant than the mere cork; we at
last found some empty casks and fastened two to each animal by thongs passed
under its belly. This done the whole herd were ready to start, and we brought
the ass to one of the ports to be the first to be launched. After some mancouvring
24 The Swiss Family Robinson.
we got him in a convenient position, and then a sudden heave sent him
plunging into the sea. He sank, and then, buoyed up by the casks, emerged head
and back from the water. The cow, sheep, and goats followed him one after the
other, and then the sow alone remained. She seemed, however, determined not
to leave the ship; she kicked, struggled, and squealed so violently, that I really
thought we should be obliged to abandon her; at length, after much trouble, we
succeeded in sending her out of the port after the others, and when once in the
water, such was the old lady's energy that she quickly distanced them, and was
the first to reach the shore.
We had fastened to the horns or neck of each animal a cord with a float
attached to the end, and now embarking, we gathered up these floats, set sail,
and steered for shore, drawing our herd after us.
Delighted with the successful accomplishment of our task, we got out some
biscuits and enjoyed a midday meal; then, while Fritz amused himself with his
monkey, I took up my glass and tried to make out how our dear ones on shore
were employing themselves. As I was thus engaged, a sudden shout from Fritz
surprised me. I glanced up; there stood Fritz with his gun to his shoulder,
pointing it at a huge shark ; the monster was making for one of the finest of the
sheep ; he turned on his side to seize his prey ; as the white of his belly appeared
Fritz fired. The shot took effect, and our enemy disappeared, leaving a trace of
blood on the calm water.
Well done, my boy," I cried, you will become a crack shot one of these
days; but I trust you will not often have such dangerous game to shoot." Fritz's
eyes sparkled at his success and my praise, and reloading his gun, carefully
watched the water. But the shark did not again appear, and borne onwards
by the breeze, we quickly neared the shore. Steering the boat to a convenient
landing place, I cast off the ropes which secured the animals, and let them get
ashore as best they might.
There was no sign of my wife or children when we stepped on land, but a few
moments afterwards they appeared, and with a shout of joy ran towards us. We
were thankful to be once more united, and after asking and replying to a few
preliminary questions, proceeded to release our herd from their swimming belts,
which, though so useful in the water, were exceedingly inconvenient on shore.
._ oi. was astonished at the apparatus.
II clever you are," said she.
"I am not the inventor," I replied, "the honour is due to Fritz. He not
only thought of this plan fu 1wrinini- off the animals, but saved one at least of
them from a most fearful .i.. i." .'- I then told them how bravely he had
encountered the shark.
My wife was delighted with her son's success, but declared that she would
dread our trips to the vessel more than ever, knowing that such savage fish in-
habited the waters.
Fritz, Ernest, and I began the work of -, l.. ..il ; our craft, while Jack, seeing
that the poor donkey was still encumbered 1 a 1. swimming belt, tried to free
him from it. But the donkey would not stand quiet, and the child's fingers
were not strong enough to loosen the cordage; finally, therefore, he scrambled
upon the animal's back, and urging him on with hand and foot, trotted towards
Come, my boy," I said, "no one must be idle here, even for a moment;. you
will have riding practice enough hereafter; dismount and come and help us."
Jack was soon on his feet. "But I have not been idle all day," he said; "look
here and he pointed to a belt round his waist. It was a broad belt of yellow
hair in which he had stuck a couple of pistols and a knife. "And see,"
he added, what I have made for the dogs. Here, Juno, Turk," the dogs came
bounding up at his call, and I saw that they were each supplied with a collar of
the same skin, in which were fastened nails, which bristled round their necks in
a most formidable manner.
"Capital, capital my boy," said I, "but where did you get your materials,
and who helped you ?"
Turtles Eggs. 25
"Except in cutting the skin," said my wife, he had no assistance, and as
for the materials, Fritz's jackal supplied us with the skin, and the needles and
thread came out of my wonderful bag. You little think how many useful things
may be had from that same bag; it is woman's duty and nature, you know, to
see after trifles."
Fritz evidently did not approve of the use to which his jackal's hide
had been devoted, and holding his nose, begged his little brother to keep
at a distance ;
he said, "you -
the hide before-- -
you used it, the
smell is disgust-
ing, don't come .
near me., -
"EIt's not the w se
hide that smells
at all," retorted
Jack, "it is you
that you left in
said I, no quar
selling here; do
you, Jack, help
your brother to
(rIP the carcase
t.t 1 sea, and if
your belt smells -
after that you
must take it off
and dry it bet- '..
The jackal was
dragged off, and _
we then finished 4
our work of un-
loading our boat. "
When this was Jl "'
accomplished we --
started for our
tent, and finding
there no prepara-
tion for supper, I
said, "Fritz, let
us have a West- JACK FULLY EQUIPPED.
Ernest," said my wife, smiling, let us see if we cannot conjure up some
Fritz got out a splendid ham and carried it to his mother triumphantly, while
Ernest set before me a dozen white balls with parchment-like coverings.
"Turtles' eggs! said I. Well done, Ernest,- where did you get
them ? "
That," replied my wife, shall be told in due course when We relate our
adventures; now we will see what they will do towards making a supper for
you; with these and your ham I do not think we shall starve."
Leaving my wife to prepare supper, we returned to the shore and brought up
26 The Swiss Family Robinson.
what of the cargo we had left there; then, having collected our herd of animals,
we returned to the tent.
The meal which awaited us was as unlike the first supper we had there
enjoyed as possible. My wife had improvised a table of a board laid on two
casks, on this was spread a white damask tablecloth, on which were placed
knives, forks, spoons, and plates for each person. A tureen of good soup first
appeared, followed by a capital omelette, then slices of the ham; and finally
some Dutch cheese, butter, and biscuits, with a bottle of the captain's canary
wine, completed the repast.
While we thus regaled ourselves, I related to my wife our adventures, and
then begged she would remember her promise and tell me all that had happened
in my absence.
The mother relates her adventures-Proposes that we should, build a nest-How Jack
treated the Jackal skin-How the boys were surprised by a Bustard-How they
found the Mangrove tree--How the dogs caught the crabs-We discuss the possi-
bility of making a house in the tree-To bed once more-We start for the wreck-
The shark again-Return to land-Franz's craw-fish-Bridge-building-We pack
up-A family removing in patriarchal style-A prickly enemy-Jack shoots it-We
reach our new home-Fritz rids our poultry of an enemy-Little Franz finds the
fi--Dinii -.--w prepare materials for our nest-Flamingoes-Roast and tame-
Ii ,..r ..ometry-A cord carried over the bough-The rope ladder made-
We mount our tree-Sleep under the roots-The building of the nest-Retire to
roost for the first time.
I WILL spare you a description, (said my wife,) of our first day's occupa-
tions; truth to tell, I spent the time chiefly in anxious thought and watching
your progress and signals. I rose very early this morning, and with the utmost
joy perceiving your signal that all was right, hastened to reply to it, and then
while my sons yet slumbered, I sat down and began to consider how our position
could be improved. 'For it is perfectly impossible,' said I to myself, 'to live
much longer where we are now. The sun beats burningly the livelong day on
this bare rocky spot, our only shelter is this poor tent, beneath the canvas of
which the heat is even more oppressive than on the open shore. Why should
not I and my little boys exert ourselves as well as my husband and Fritz ?
Why should not we too try to accomplish something useful? If we could but
exchange this melancholy and unwholesome abode for a pleasant shady dwelling-
place, we should all improve in health and spirits. Among those delightful
woods and groves where Fritz and his father saw so many charming things, I
feel sure there must be some little retreat where we could establish ourselves
comfortably; there must be, and I will find it.'
By this time the boys were up, and I observed Jack very quietly and busily
occupied with his knife about the spot where Fritz's jackal lay. Watching his
proceedings, I saw that he had cut two long narrow strips of the animal's skin,
which he cleaned and scraped very carefully, and then taking a handful of great
nails out of his pocket, he stuck them through the skin points outwards, after
which he cut strips of canvas sailcloth twice as broad as the thongs, doubled
them, and laid them on the raw side of the skin so as to cover the broad flat
nail heads. At this point of the performance, Master Jack came to me with the
agreeable request that I would kindly stitch the canvas and (moist) skin toge-
ther for him. I gave him needles and thread, but could not think of depriving
him of the pleasure of doing it himself.
"However, when I saw how good-humouredly he persevered in the work
with his awkward unskilful fingers, I took pity upon him, and conquering the
Surprised by a Bustard. 27
disgust I felt, finished lining the skin dog-collars he had so ingeniously con-
trived. After this I was called upon to complete in the same way a fine belt of
skin he had made for himself. I advised him to think of some means by which
the skin might be kept from shrinking.
SErnest, although rather treating Jack's manufacture with ridicule, proposed
a sensible enough plan, which Jack forthwith put into execution. He nailed
the skin, stretched flat, on a board, and put it in the sun to dry.
My scheme of a journey was agreed to joyously by my young companions.
Preparations were instantly set on foot: weapons and provisions provided : the
two elder boys carrying guns, while they gave me charge of the water flask, and
a small hatchet.
Leaving everything in as good order as we could at the tent, we proceeded
towards the stream, accompanied by the dogs. Turk, who had accompanied % on
on your first expedition, seemed immediately to understand that we wished to
pursue the same route, and proudly led the way.
"As I looked at my two young sons, each with his gun, and considered how
much the safety of the party depended on these little fellows, I felt grateful
to you, dear husband, for having acquainted them in childhood with the use of
Filling our water-jar, we crossed the stream, and went on to the height from
whence, as you described, a lovely prospect is obtained, at the sight of which a
pleasurable sensation of buoyant hope, to which I had long been a stranger,
awoke within my breast.
A pretty little wood in the distance attracted my notice particularly, and
thither we directed our course. But soon finding it impossible to force our way
through the tall strong grass which grew in dense luxuriance higher than the
children's heads, we turned towards the open beach on our left, and following
it we reached a point much nearer the little wood, when, quitting the strand,
we made towards it.
We had not entirely escaped the tall grass, however, and with the utmost
fatigue and difficulty were struggling through the reeds, when suddenly a great
rushing noise terrified us all dreadfully. Averylarge and powerful bird sprang
upward on the wing. Both boys attempted to take aim, but the bird was far
away before they were ready to fire.
"' Oh dear, what a pity !' exclaimed Ernest; now if I had only had my
light gun, and if the bird had not flown quite so fast, I should have brought him
down directly !'
Oh yes,' said I, no doubt you would be a capital sportsman if only your
game would always give you time to make ready comfortably.'
But I had no notion that anything was going to fly up just at our feet like
that,' cried he.
'A good shot,' I replied, 'must be prepared for surprises: neither wild
birds nor wild beasts will send you notice that they are about to fly or to run.'
What sort of bird can it have been ?' enquired Jack.
'Oh, certainly it must have been an eagle,' answered little Franz, 'it was
so very big!'
Just as if every big bird must be an eagle replied Ernest, in a tone of
'Let's see where he was sitting, at all events!' said I.
"Jack sprang towards the place, and instantly a second bird, rather larger
than the first, rushed upward into the air, with a most startling noise.
"The boys stood staring upwards, perfectly stupefied, while I laughed
heartily, saying, Well, you are first-rate sportsmen, to be sure! You certainly
will keep my larder famously well supplied !'
At this, Ernest coloured up, and looked inclined to cry, while Jack put
on a comical face, pulled off his cap, and with a low bow, called after the
"'Adieu for the present, sir I live in hopes of another meeting! '
On searching the ground carefully, we discovered a rude sort of nest made
28 The Swiss Family Robinson.
untidily of dry grass. It was empty, although we perceived broken egg-shells
at no great distance, and concluded that the young brood had escaped among the
grass, which, in fact, we could see was waving at a little distance, as the little
birds ran through it.
Now look here, Franz,' said Ernest, presently, 'just consider how this bird
could by any possibility have been an eagle. Eagles never build on the ground,
neither can their young leave the nest and run as soon as they are out of the
egg. That is a peculiarity of the gallinaceous tribe of birds alone, to which
then these must belong. The species, I think, is indicated by the white belly
and dull red colour of the wing coverts which I observed in these specimens, ana
I believe them to be bustards, especially as I noticed in the largest the fine
moustache-like feathers over the beak, peculiar to the Great Bustard.'
My dear boy!' I said, your eyes were actively employed, I must confess,
if your fingers were unready with the gun. And after all, it is just as well
perhaps, that we have not thrown the bustard's family into mourning.'
"Thus chatting, we at length approached my pretty wood. Numbers of
birds fluttered and sang among the high branches, but I did not eonr rnoT- the
boys in their wish to try to shoot any of the happy little creature. W. were
lost in admiration of the trees of this grove, and I cannot describe to you how
wonderful they are, nor can you form the least idea of their enormous size'with-
out seeing them yourself. What we had been calling a wood proved to be a
group of about a dozen trees only, and, what was strange, the roots sustained
the massive trunks exalted in the air, forming strong arches, and props and
stays all around each individual stem, which was firmly rooted in the centre.
'' I gave Jack some twine, and scrambling up one of the curious open-air roots,
he succeeded in measuring round the trunk itself, and made it out to be about
eighteen yards. I saw no sort of fruit, but the foliage is thick and abundant,
throwing delicious shade on the ground beneath, which is carpeted with soft
green herbage, and entirely free from thorns, briars, or bushes of any kind. I,
is the most charming -:- i P.- .l..- that ever was seen, and I and the boys
1-i--..-1 ou: r,;ll, ...1 i .inensely in this glorious palace of the woods, so
-i .-l to .... .. i ri. glare and heat of our journey thither. The dogs
joined us after a while. They had lingered behind on the sea-shore, and I was
surprised to see them lie down and go comfortably to sleep without begging for
food, as they do usually when we eat.
The longer we remained in this enchanting place, the more did it charm my
fancy; and if we could but manage to live in some sort of dwelling up among
the branches of those grand, noble trees, I should feel perfectly safe and happy.
It seemed to me absurd to suppose we should ever find another place half so
lovely, so I determined to search no further, but return to the beach and see
if anything from the wreck had been cast up by the waves, which we could
carry away with us.
Before starting, Jack persuaded me to sit quietly a little longer, and finish
making his belt and the spike-collars for the dogs, for you must know that the
child had actually been carrying the board on which these were stretched all
this time, so that they should get the full benefit of the sun. As they were now
quite dry, I completed them easily, and Jack girded on the belt with great
pride, t1rtin" h pi pistols in it, and marching about in a most self-important
style, i.i. 1i .. :I fitted the collars on the two -.
On reaching the shore, we found it strewed i many articles, doubtless of
value, but all too heavy for us to lift. We rolled some casks, however, beyond
highwater mark, and dragged a chest or two alos hio-h1 on the beach; and,
while doing so, observed that our dogs were busy .... II. rooks. They were
carefully watching the crevices and pools, and every now and then would
pounce downwards and seize something which they swallowed with apparent
"'They are eating crabs,' said Jack. 'No wonder they have not seemed
And, sure enough, they were catching the little green crabs with which
A Consultation. 29
the water abounded. These, however, did not apparently entirely satisfy
Some time afterwards, just as we were about to turn inland towards the
ford, we noticed that Juno was scraping in the sand, and turning up some
round substances, which she hastily devoured. Ernest went to see what
these were, and reported in his calm way that the dog had found turtles'
Oh,' cried I,' then let us by all means share in the booty !' Mrs. Juno,
however, did not at all approve of this, and it was with some difficulty that we
drove her aside while we gathered a couple of dozen of the eggs, stowing them
in our provision bags.
While thus employed, we caught sight of a sail which appeared to be
merrily approaching the shore beyond the cliffs. Ernest declared it must be
our raft. Little Franz, always having the fear of savages before his eyes,
began to look frightened, and for a moment 1 myself was doubtful what to
"However, we hastened to the stream; and, crossing it by the stepping-
stones, came in sight of the landing-place, where we joyfully'met you.
"Now I hope you approve of the proceedings of your exploring party, and
that to-morrow you will do me the favour of packing everything up, and taking
us away to live amongst my splendid trees."
Ay, little wife," said I; "so that is your idea of comfort and security, is it!
A tree, I do not know how many feet high, on which we are to perch and roost
like the birds ? If we had but wings or a balloon, it would, I own, be a capital
Laugh as much as you like," returned my wife, my idea is not so absurd
as you make it out. We should be safe up there from jackals' visits during the
night. And I know I have seen at home in Switzerland, quite a pretty arbour,
with a strong floor, up among the branches of a lime tree, and we went up a
staircase to reach it. Why could not we contrive a place like that, where we
could sleep safely at night ? "
I will consider the idea seriously, my wife," said I; "perhaps something
may come of it, after all! Meantime, as we have finished supper, and night
is coming on, let us commend ourselves to Almighty protection and retire to
Beneath the shelter of ourtent, we all slept soundly, like marmots, until
break of day; when, my wife and I awaking, took counsel together as to future
Referring to the task she had the previous evening proposed for me, I
remarked that to undertake it would involve so many difficulties that it was
highly necessary to look closely into the subject.
In the first place," said I, I am unwilling hastily to quit a spot to which
I am convinced we were providentially led as a landing-place. See how secure
it is; guarded on all sides by these high cliffs, and accessible only by the
narrow passage to the ford, while from this point it is so easy to reach the ship
that the whole of its valuable cargo is at our disposal. Suppose we decide to
: i. t i....!t I here for the present-until, at least, we have brought on shore
".' 'ii.- .. possibly can ? "
-\ .. i.--- th Iou to a certain extent, dear husband," replied she; "but you
do not know how dreadfully the heat among the rocks tries me. It is almost in-
tolerable to us who remain here all day while you and Fritz are away out at sea,
or wandering among the shady woods, where cool fruits refresh, and fair scenes
delight you. As to the contents of the ship, an immense deal has been cast
ashore, and I would much rather give up all the remainder, and be spared the
painful anxiety it gives me when you even talk of venturing again on the faith-
"Well, I must admit that there is much right on your side," I continued;
suppose we were to remove to your chosen abode, and make this rocky fastness
our magazine and place of retreat in case of danger. I could easily render it
30 Tle Swiss Family Robinson.
still more secure, by blasting portions of the rock with gunpowder. But p
bridge must be constructed in the first place, to enable us to cross bag and
Oh, I shall be parched to death before we can leave this place, if a bridge
has to be made," cried my wife impatiently. Why not just take our things
on our backs and wade across as we have done already ? The cow and the
donkey could carry a great deal."
"That they will have to do, in whatever fashion we make the move," said I;
"but bags and baskets we must have, to put things in, and if you will turn your
attention to providing those, I will set about the bridge at once. It will be
wanted not once, but continually; the stream will probably swell and be impass-
able at times, and even as it is, an accident might happen."
"Well! well! cried my wife, "I submit to your opinion; only pray set
about it without delay, for I long to be off. It is an excellent idea to make a
strong place among the cliffs here; the gunpowder especially, I shall be delighted
to see stored here when we go away. for it is frightfully dangerous to keep so
much as we have .lose to our habitation."
Gunpowder is indeed the most .1...:. ..: and at the same time most useful
thing we have," said I, and for -.. r,, t. reasons we must be especially care-
ful of it. In time I will hollow out a place in the rock where we can store it
safe from either fire or damp."
By this morning's consultation we had settled the weighty question of our
change of abode, and also chalked out work for the day.
When the children heard of the proposed move their joy was boundless ; they
began at once to talk of it as our "journey to the Promised Land," and only
regretted that time must be wasted," as they said, in bridge-building before it
could be undertaken.
Every one being impatient for breakfast that work might be begun at once, the
cow and goats were milked, and, having enjoyed a comfortable meal of biscuit
boiled in milk, I prepared to start for the wreck, in order to obtain planks for
the proposed bridge. Ernest as well as Fritz accompanied me, and we were soon
within the influence of the current, and were carried swiftly out to sea. Fr tz
was steering, and we had no sooner passed beyond the islet at the entrance of the
bay, so as to come in sight of its seaward beach, than we were astonished to see
a countless multitude of sea-birds, gulls, and others, which rose like a cloud in
the air, disturbed by our approach, and deafened us by their wild and screaming
cries. Fritz caught up his gun, and would have sent a shot among them had I
permitted it. I was very curious to find out what could be the great attraction
for all this swarm of feathered fowl; and availing myself of a fresh breeze from
the sea, I set the sail and directed our course towards the island.
The swelling sail and flying pennant charmed Ernest, while Fritz bent his
keen eyes eagerly towards the sandy shore, where the flocks of birds were again
Presently he shouted: Aha! now I see what they are after! They have got
a huge monster of a fish there, and a proper feast they are making! Let's have
a nearer look at it, father "
We could not take our boat very close in, but we managed to effect a landing
at a short distance from the festive scene ; and; securing the raft by casting a
rope round a large stone, we cautiously drew near the object of interest.
It proved to be a monstrous fish, on whose flesh these multitudes of birds were
ravenously feeding; and it was extraordinary to watch the ferocity, the envy,
the gluttony, and all manner of evil passions, exhibited among the guests at this
There was nothing on this sandy beach when we passed yesterday, I am
certain, father," said Fritz. "It seems strange to see this creature stranded
Why, Fritz !" cried Ernest, "it must be the shark! your shark, you know!
I believe I can see where you hit him in the head."
"You are right, I do believe, Ernest," said I, though I think your imagina-
Shark's Skin. 31
tion only can distinguish the gun-shot wounds among all the pecking and
tearing of the voracious birds there. Just look, boys, at those terrific jaws,
beneath the strangely projecting snout. See the rows upon rows of murderous
teeth, and thank God we were delivered from them Let us try if we can induce
these greedy birds to spare us a bit of the shark's skin; it is extremely rough,
and when dry may be used like a file."
Ernest drew the ramrod from his gun, and charged so manfully into the crowd,
that striking right and left he speedily killed several, whilst most of the others
took to flight. Fritz detached some broad strips of skin with his knife, and we
returned towards the boat.
Perceiving with satisfaction that the shore was strewn with just the sort of
boards and planks I wanted, I lost no time in collecting them ; and, forming a
raft to tow after us, we were in a short time able to direct our course homeward,
without visiting the wreck at all. As we sailed along, extremely well pleased
with our good fortune, Fritz, by my direction, nailed part of the shark's skin
flat on boards to dry in the sun, and the rest on the rounded mast.
Will that be a good plan, father?" enquired he, it will be quite bent and
crooked when it hardens."
"That is just what I want it to
be," said I, "we may happen to
find it useful in that form as well
as flat. It would be beautiful
shagreen if we could smooth and
"I thought," remarked Ernest,
"that shagreen was made from
"And you thought rightly,"
said I. The best shagreen is
prepared in Turkey, Persia, and
artary, from the skins of horses
and asses. In these skins, the
roughness is produced artificially;
while the skin is newly flayed
and still soft, hard grains of corn CnAWlISH.
are spread on the under surface,
and pressed into it as it dries. These grains are afterwards removed, and the
roughness imparted to the appearance of the skin remains indelibly; shagreen
is useful in polishing joiner's work, and it is made in France from the rough
skin of a hideous creature called the angel-fish."
Angel-fish! exclaimed Fritz, what a name to give anything 'hideous,'
"There are bad angels as well as good ones," observed Ernest, in his dry,
quiet way; "it is better to leave people to see for themselves which is
By this time we were close in shore; and, lowering the sali, we soon had
our craft with the raft in tow, safely moored to the bank.
No one was in sight, not a sound to be heard, so with united voice we gave a
loud cheery halloo, which after a while was answered in shrill tones, and the
mother with her two boys came running from behind the high rocks between us
and the stream, each carrying a small bundle in a handkerchief, while little
Franz held aloft a landing net.
Our return so soon was quite unexpected, and they anxiously inquired the
reason, which we soon explained; and then the mysterious bundles were opened,
and a great number of fine crawfish displayed; whose efforts to escape by
scuttling away in every direction, directly they were placed in a heap on the
ground, caused immense fun and laughter as the boys pursued and brought them
back, only to find others scrambling off in a dozen different ways.
"Now, father, have we not done well, to-day !" cried Jack, "did you ever see
32 The Swiss Family Robinson.
such a splendid crawfish ? Oh, there were thousands of them, and I am sure we
have got two hundred here at least. Just look at their claws! "
"-No doubt you were the discoverer of these fine crabs, eh Jack? said I.
"No! fancy young Franz being the lucky man! answered he. He and I
went towards the stream while mother was busy, just to look. for a good place
for the bridge. Franz was picking up pebbles and alabasters, some because
they were so pretty, some to strike sparks with in the dark, and some
he insisted were gold.' 'Jack 'Jack cried he presently, 'come and
see the crabs on Fritz's jackal! You know we threw it away there, and to be
sure it was swarming with these creatures. Are you glad we have found them,
father ? Will they be good to eat ? "
"Very excellent, my boy, and we may be thankful that food for our wants is
thus provided day by day."
When each party had related the day's adventures, and while the mother was
cooking the crawfish, we went to bring our store of planks to land. Even this
apparently simple operation required thought, and I had to improvise rope-
harness for the cow and the donkey, by which we could make them drag each
board separately from the water's edge to the margin of the stream.
Jack showed me where he thought the bridge should be, and I certainly saw
no better place, as the banks were at that point-tolerably close to one another,
steep, and of about equal height.
How shall we find out if our planks are long enough to reach across ?" said
I. A surveyor's table would be useful now."
What do you say to a ball of string, father ? said Ernest. "Tie one end
to a stone, throw it across, then draw it back, and measure the line! "
Adopting my son's idea, we speedily ascertained the distance across to be
eighteen feet. Then allowing three feet more at each side, I calculated twenty-
four feet as the necessary length of the boards.
The question as to how the planks were to be laid across was a difficult one.
We resolved to discuss it during dinner, to which we were now summoned. And
my wife, as we sat resting, displayed to me her needlework. With hard labour
had she made two large canvas bags for the ass to carry. Having no suitable
needle, she had been obliged to bore the hole for each stitch with a nail, and
gained great praise for her ingenuity and patience. Dinner was quickly des-
patched, as we were all eager to continue our engineering work. A scheme had
occurred to me for conveying one end of a plank across the water, and I set about
it in this way. There fortunately were one or two trees close to the stream on
either side; I attached a rope pretty near one end of a beam, and slung it loosely
to the tree beside us; then, fastening a long rope to the other end, I crossed
with it by means of broken rocks and stones, and having a pulley and block, I
soon arranged the rope on a strong limb of the opposite tree, again returning
with the end to our own side.
Now putting my idea to the proof, I brought the ass and the cow, and fasten-
ing this rope to the harness I had previously contrived for them, I drove them
steadily away from the bank. To my great satisfaction, and the surprise and
delight of the boys, the end of the plank which had been laid alongside the
stream began gently to move, rose higher, turned, and soon projecting over the
water continued to advance, until, having described the segment of a circle,
it reached the opposite bank; I stopped my team, the plank rested on the
ground, the bridge was made! So at least thought Fritz and Jack, who in a
moment were lightly running across the narrow way, shouting joyfully as they
sprang to the other side.
SOur work was now comparatively easy. A second and third plank were laid
beside the first; and when these were carefully secured at each end-to the
ground and to the trees, we very quickly laid short boards side by side across
the beams, the boys nailing them lightly down as I sawed them in lengths; and
when this, was done, our bridge was pronounced complete. Nothing could
exceed the excitement of the children. They danced to and fro on the won-
derful structure, i -,l,. h...ut Ii and cutting the wildest capers.
A Grand Procession. 33
I must confess I heartily sympathized with their triumphant feelings.
Now that the work was done, we began to feel how much we were fatigued,
and gladly returried to our tent for refreshment and repose.
Next morning, while we breakfasted, I made a little speech to my sons on the
subject of the important move we were about to make, wishing to impress them
with a sense of the absolute necessity of great caution.
Remember," said I, "that, although you all begin to feel very much at your
ease here, we are yet complete strangers to a variety of dangers which .may
surprise us unawares. I charge you, therefore, to maintain good order, and
keep together on the march. No darting offinto bye-ways, Jack. No lingering
behind to philosophise, Ernest. And now all hands to work."
.The greatest activity instantly prevailed in our camp. Some collected pro-
visions, others packed kitchen utensils, tools, ropes, and hammocks, arranging
them as burdens for the cow and ass. My wife pleaded for a seat on the latter
for her little Franz, and assuring me likewise that she could not possibly leave
the poultry, even for a night, nor exist an hour without her magic bag, I agreed
to do my best to please her, without downright cruelty to animals.
Away ran the children to catch the cocks and hens. Great chasing, fluttering,
and cackling ensued; but with no success whatever, until the mother recalled
her panting sons, and, scattering some handfuls of grain within the open tent, soon
decoyed the fowls and pigeons into the enclosure; where, when the curtain was
dropped, they were easily caught, tied together, and placed on the cow. This
amiable and, phlegmatic animal had stood calmly chewing the cud, while
package after package was disposed on her broad back, nor did she now
object even to this noisy addition to her load. I placed a couple of half-hoops
over all; and, spreading sail-cloth on them, put the fowls in darkness, and they
rapidly became quiet; and the cow, with the appearance of having a small
w1,i-m on her back, was ready to start.
1 -e was firmly seated on the ass, amidst bags and bundles of all sorts and
sizes; they rose about him like cushions and pillows, and his curly head rested
on the precious magic bag, which surmounted all the rest.
Having filled the tent with the things we left behind, closing it carefully, and
ranging chests and casks around it, we were finally ready to be off, each well
equipped and in the highest spirits.
Fritz and his mother led the van.
Franz (the young cavalier), and the sober-minded cow followed then closely.
Jack conducted the goats; one of these had also a rider, for Knips the monkey
was seated on his foster-mother, whose patience was sorely tried by his restlsss-
ness and playful tricks.
The sheep were under Ernest's care, and I brought up the rear of this patri-
archal band, while the two dogs kept constantly running backwards and forwards
in the character of aides-de-camp.
"We seem delightfully like those simple and pastoral tribes I have read of,"
said Ernest, as we proceeded, whose whole lives are spent in shifting from
place to place, without any wish to settle."
Yes," said I. Among the Arabs, Tartars, and some other Eastern nations,
this mode of life is natural. They for that reason are called Nomades.
"These tribes are amply provided with camels and horses, and effect their
journeys more quickly and *..r-..-. i- i,!, I, we are likely to do with these
deliberate quadrupeds of ours 1\ -. I i. young folks may think, I suspect
your mother and I will be quite satisfied with one such undertaking. At'least I
hope she will be contented with the nest she intends me to build for her up in
her wonderful trees."
With honest pride I introduced my wife to my bridge, and after receiving
from her what I considered well-merited praise for my skill in its construction,
we passed over it in grand procession, reinforced unexpectedly on tri .-..l..ire
side by the arrival of our cross-grained old sow. The perverse (ri.: ,.i. i..l
German, Knipps, a mannikin,
34 The Swiss Facmily Robinson.
obstinately resisted olu' attempts to bring her with us, but finding herself
deserted, had followed of her own accord, testifying in the most unmistakable
manner, by angry grmuts and squeals, her entire disapproval of our proceedings.
I soon found we must, as before, turn down to the sea-beach, for not only did
the rank grass impede our progress, but it also tempted the animals to break
away from us, and, but for our watchful dogs, we might have lost several of
On the firm open sands we were making good way, when to my annoyance,
both our dogs suddenly left us, and springing into the thick cover to our right,
commenced a furious barking, following by howling as if in fear and violent
Not for a moment doubting that some dangerous animal was at hand, I
hastened to the spot, remarking as I went the characteristic behaviour of my
Fritz cocked his gun and advanced boldly, but with caution.
Ernest looked disconcerted, and drew back, but got ready to fire.
While Jack hurried after Fritz, without so much as unslinging his gun from
Before I could come up with them, I heard Jack shouting excitedly,
"Father father come quickly! a huge porcupine! a most enormous porcu-
Sure enough, the dogs were rushing round and round a porcupine, and having
attempted to seize it, were already severely wounded by its quills. Each time
they came near, the creature, wit U c- i;- noise, bristled up its spines.
Somewhat to my amusement, ---I I.. .... looking at the curious defence
this creature was making, little Jack stepped close up to it, with a pocket
pistol in his hand, and shot it dead, making sure of it by a couple of hearty raps
on the head, and then giving way to a burst of boyish exultation, he called
upon us to help to convey his prize to his mother. This it was not by any
means easy to do. Sundry attempts resulted in bloody fingers, till Jack, taking
his pocket-handkerchief, and fastening one corner round its neck, ran off,
dragging it after him to where his mother awaited us.
Hullo, mother! here's a jolly beast, isn't it ? I shot it, and it's good to
eat! Father says so I only wish you had seen how it terrified the dogs, and
heard the rattling and rustling of its spines. Oh, it is a fearful creature "
Ernest, examining it carefully, pronounced its incisor teeth, its ears and feet,
to resemble those of the human race, and pointed out the curious crest of stiff
hairs on its head and neck.
I have read of another species," said he, called the Tuft-tailed Porcupine,
which must be even more curious-looking than this is. It has short flat quills,
and a scaly tail ending in an extraordinary tuft, like a bunch of narrow strips
of parchment. It cannot be such a disagreeable enemy to encounter as this
WiTere you not afraid, Jack," asked I, lest the porcupine should cast some
of his quills like darts at you ?"
Of course not," returned he, I know well enough that is nothing but a
A fable said I, why look at your mother! she is drawing five or six
spines out of each of the dogs! "
Ah, those stuck into them when they so fiercely fell upon it in their attack.
Those are the shortest quills, and seem very slightly fixed in its skin. The long
quills bent aside when Juno pressed against them.'
You are perfectly right, my boy," said I; there is no truth in the old idea
of shooting out the spines. But now, shall we leave this prickly booty of yours,
or attempt to take it with us ?"
SOh, please, father, let us take it! Wn it ii good to eat! "
Smiling at the child's eagerness, and IIr. to please him, I made a some-
what awkward bundle of the porcupine, wrapping it in several folds of cloth,
and added it to the donkey's load.
Our future Place of Residence. 35
Our party then resumed the march, which, with little interruption, was con-
tinued steadily, until we came in sight of our future place of residence.
The wonderful appearance of the enormous trees, and the calm beauty of the
spot altogether, fully came up to the enthusiastic description which had been
given to me. And my wife gladly heard me say that if an abode could be con-
trived among the branches, it would be the safest and most charging home hi
We hastily unloaded the ass and cow, securing them, as well as the sheep and
goats, by tying their fore-feet loosely together. The doves and poultry were
set at liberty, and we sat down to rest among the soft herbage while we laid our
plans for the night.
Fritz soon left us, but presentlytwo shots were fired, andhe appeared holding
a fine tiger-cat by the hind legs, which, with the intensest delight, he exhibited
to each in turn.
Well done, Fritz! cried I. Our cocks and hens would have had an
I I _' .. ./
unfortunate night of it but for this lucky shot of yours. It is to be hoped he
has left no companion near at hand. You must be on the look-out."
How curious it seems," remarked Ernest, that God should create hurtful
animals like this."
"To our feeble and narrow vision many of the ways of the Infinite and
Eternal Mind are incomprehensible," I replied. What our limited reason
cannot grasp, let us be content to acknowledge as the workings of Almighty
power and wisdom, and thankfully trust in that 'Rock,' which, were it not
' higher than' we, would afford no sense of security to the immortal soul. That
animals should prey upon one another is a means of preserving a due balance
in the world of nature, and in many ways these beasts of prey are also useful to
man. What beautiful and warm furs are procured by hunters just in those
countries where no other covering would defend the inhabitants from the wintry
cold !-as, for instance, the skins of bears, wolverines, and arctic foxes, wild
cats, and manl others."
"The skin of the seal, or sea-dog, is also valuable," said Ernest.
It is," I replied, and in its own element that creature preys on fish as the
36 The Swiss Family Robinson.
dog did on land animals before his race became domesticated by iallt. But
now, Fritz, tell us how you obtained your prize."
Observing that something moved among the branches," said he, "I went
softly round the tree with my gun, and making sure the creature was a wild
cat I fired and brought it down. It was severely wounded, but, rising in a
fury, it attempted to climb the tree, when I, luckily having a loaded pistol,
gave it a quietus. And do tell me, father, what sort of cat it is."
It is a mercy the brute did not fly at your throat instead of attempting to
escape," said I. It belongs to a fierce and blood-thirsty race-that of the
ocelots or i .. .I rt i-es of the tropical parts of America. I should say this
was a margay, and as it would have proved a cruel foe, not only of our poultry,
but also of our sheep and goats, I am well pleased that you have rid us of it."
"May I have the beautiful skin, father ? And will you tell me what will be
the best use to make of it ?"
I advise you to skin the animal very carefully, and of the handsome black
and yellow tail, make a hunting-belt for yourself. The paws-let me see-why,
I hfncy the paws might be made famous cases for knife, fork, and spoon, and
look well hanging from the belt. The skin of the body you had better preserve
until you find some suitable use for it."
"Oh, father, what a splendid plan! cried Jack; do tell me some good use
for my porcupine."
"I think its feet may make cases also; at least, you may try. The quills, I am
sure, may be used for packing-needles, and for tipping arrows, and I should try
to make defensive armour for the dogs outof the rest. They may fall in with foes
more dangerous than any we have yet seen."
To be sure, father, the very thing shouted Jack inhigh glee. I have seen
pictures of boar hunts, in which the dogs were protected by a sort of leather coat
of mail. That will be grand! "
After giving this advice, I got no peace until I had shown my boys how to act
upon it, and in a short time each had his prize fastened up by the hind legs, and
carefully slitting the skin, was stripping it from the carcase.
Ernest, meanwhile, was fetching large flat stones in order to form a fire-place,
while Franz gathered sticks, as his mother was anxious to prepare some food.
What sort or tree do you suppose this to be, father ?" enquired Ernest, seeing
me examining that under which we were encamping. "Is not the leaf something
like a walnut r"
"There is a resemblance, but in my opinion these :.: ,iFr.. trees must be man-
groves or wild figs. I have heard their enormous height described, and also the
peculiarity of the arching roots supporting the main trunk raised above
Just then little Franz came up with a large bundle of sticks, and his mouth
full of something he was eating with evident satisfaction.
Oh, mother 7" cried he, "this is so good! So delicious!"
"Greedy little boy! exclaimed she in a fright. "What have you got there ?
Don't swallow it, whatever you do. Very likely it is poisonous! Spit it all out
this minute! And the anxious mother quickly extracted from the rosy little
mouth the remains of a small fig.
"Where did you find this ?" said I.
"There are thousands lying among the grass yonder," replied the little boy.
"They taste very nice. I thought poison was nasty. Do you think they will
hurt me ? The pigeons and the hens are gobbling them up with all their might
and main, papa "
I think you' have no cause for alarm, dear wife," I said. The trees seem
to be the F ..1. -,, ;. mangrove of the Antilles. But remember, Franz, you must
never eat '-,,.l without first showing it to me, never mind how good it
seems. If birds and monkeys eat a fruit or vegetable, it is usually safe to-
believe it wholesome," added I, turning to the other boys, who instantly taking
the hint, coaxed Franz to give them the figs he still had in his pocket, and ran
to offer them to Knips, who was closely watching the skinning of the tiger-cat.
and' porcupine, apparently giving his opinion on thW subject with much chatter-
ing and gesticulation;
Here, Knips, allow me to present you with a fig !"' cried Jack, holding one
out to the funny little creature.
Knips took it readily, and after turning it about, and sniffing and smelling it,
he popped it into his mouth, with such a droll grimace of delight and satisfac-
tion that the boys all laughed and clapped their hands, crying Bravo, Knips !
you know a good thing when you see it, don't you, old fellow! Hurrah! "
My wife, with her mind set at rest on the question of the figs, now continued
her preparations for dinner.
The flesh of the margay was given to the dogs, but part of the porcupine was
put on the fire to boil, while we reserved'the rest for -oasting.
I employed myself in contriving needles for my wife's work, by boring holes
at one end of the quills, which I did by means of a red hot nail, and I soon had
a nice packet of various sizes, which pleased her immensely. I also laid plans
for making proper harness for our beasts of burden, but could not attempt to
begin that while so many wants more pressing demanded attention.
We examined the different trees, and chose one which seemed most suited lo
our purpose. The branches spread at a great height above us, and I made the
boys try if it were possible to throw sticks or stones over one of these, my
intention being to construct a rope ladder if we could once succeed in getting
a string across a strong bough.
Finding we could not succeed in that way, I resolved other schemes in my
mind, and meantime went with Jack and Fritz to a small brook close by, where
I showed them how to place the skins to steep and soften in the water, with
stones placed on them to keep them beneath the surface.
When dinner was over, I prepared our night quarters. I first slung our ham-
mocks from the roots of the tree, which, meeting above us, formed an arched
roof, then covering the whole with sail-cloth, we made a temporary tent, which
would at least keep off the night damps and noxious insects.
Leaving my wife engaged in making a set of harness for the ass and cow,
whose strength I intended to employ the following dayin drawing the beams up
to our tree, I walked down with Fritz and Ernest to the beach to look for wood
suitable for building our new abode and also to discover, if possible, some light
rods to form a ladder. For some time we hunted in vain, nothing but rough
drift wood was to be seen, utterly unfit for our purpose. Ernest at length
pointed out a quantity of bamboos half buried in the sand. These were exactly
what I wanted, and stripping them of their leaves I cut them into lengths of
about five feet each; these I bound in bundles to carry to the tree, and then
began to look about for some slight reeds to serve as arrows.
I presently saw what I required in a copse at a little distance. We advanced
cautiously lest the thicket should contain some wild beast or venomous serpent.
Juno rushed ahead; as she did so a flock of flamingoes, which had been quietly
feeding, rose in the air. Fritz i.. I ,i i, firing brought a couple of the birds
to the ground, the rest of the squadron sailing away in perfect order, their
plumage continually changing, as they flew, from beautiful rose to pure white,
: -,it. i,. ,I.1, their snowy wings and rosy breasts were visible. One of those
_ L. I. l ., perfectly dead, but the other appeared only slightly wounded in
the wing, for it made off across the swampy ground. I attempted to follow, but
soon found that progress was impossible on the marsh; Juno, however, chased
the bird and, seizing it, speedily brought it to my feet. Fritz and Ernest were
delighted at the sight of our prize.
What a handsome bird !" exclaimed they. "Is it much hurt ? Lt us tame
it and let it run about with the fowls."
"Its plumage is much more brilliant than that of the dead one," remarked
Yes,' said Ernest, ''this is a full grown bird, while yours is younger; it is
sonie years before they reach perfection. See what long active legs it has, like
-those of a stork, while with its great webbed feet it can swim faster than a
38 The Swiss Family Robinson.
goose. Earth, air, or water is all the same to the flamingo, it is equally at tome
in any one of the three."
Well," said Fritz, "let us take the dead one to mother and get her to intro-
duce it to the other element and see what it will make of that; if it is young
and tender, as you say, it should make a delicious roast."
Fritz aud Ernest then carried the birds and bamboos to the tree, while I
proceeded to cut my reeds. I chose those which had flowered, knowing that
they were harder, and having cut a sufficient quantity of these, I selected one or
two of the tallest canes I could find to assist me in measuring the height of the
tree. I then bound them together and returned to my family.
Do you mean to keep this great hungry bird Fritz has brought ?" said my
wife, "it is another mouth to feed, remember, and provisions are still scarce."
"Luckily," I replied, "the flamingo will not eat grain like our poultry, but
will be quite satisfied with insects, fish, and little crabs, which it will pick up
for itself. Pray reassure yourself, therefore, and lot me see to the poor bird's
So saying, I procured some wine and butter and anointing the wing, which
though hurt was not broken, I bound it up, and then took the bird to
the stream, where I fastened it by a long cord to a stake and left it to shift for
itself. In a few days the wound was healed, and the bird, subdued by kind
treatment, became rapidly tame.
While I was thus employed my sons were endeavouring to ascertain the
height of the lowest branch of the tree from the ground. They had fastened
together the long reeds 1 had brought with them, and were trying to measure
the distance, but in vain; they soon found that were the rods ten times their
length they could not touch the branch.
illo, my boys," I said, when I discovered what they were about, that is
not the way to set to work. Geometry will simplify the operation considerably;
with its help the altitude of the highest mountains are ascertained; we may,
therefore, easily find the height of that branch."
So saying, I measured out a certain distance from the base of the tree and
marked the spot, and then by means of a rod, whose length I knew, and
imaginary lines, I calculated the angle subtended by the trunk of the tree from
the ground to the root of the branch. This done, I was able to discover the
height required, and, to the astonishment of the younger children, announced
that we should henceforth live thirty feet above the ground. This I wanted to
know, that I might construct a ladder of. the necessary length.
Telling Fritz to collect all our cord, and the others to roll all the twine into a
ball, I sat down and, taking the reeds, speedily manufactured half-a-dozen
arrows and feathered them from the dead flamingo. I then took a strong
bamboo, bent it and strung it so as to form a bow. When the boys saw what I
had done they were delighted, and begged to have the pleasure of firing the
"No, no! said I, "I did not make this for mere pleasure, nor is it even
intended as a weapon, the arrows are pointless. Elizabeth," I continued to my
wife, "can you supply me with a ball of stout thread from your wonderfulbag ?,
Certainly," replied she, I think that a ball of thread was the first thing to
enter the bag," and diving her hand deep in, she drew out the very thing
Now, boys," I said, I am going to fire the first shot," and I fastened one
end of the thread to one of my arrows and aimed at a large branch above me.
The arrow flew upwards and bore the thread over the branch and fell at our feet.
Thus was the first step in our undertaking accomplished. Now for the ropa
Fritz had obtained two coils of cord each about forty feet in length; these we
stretched on the ground side by side; then Fritz cut the bamboos into pieces of
two feet for the steps of the ladder, and as he handed them to me, I passed them
through knots which I had prepared in the ropes, while Jack fixed each end with
a nail driven through the wood. When the ladder was finished, I carried over
Nest Building. 39
the bough a rope by which it might be hauled up. This done, I fixed the lower
end of the ladder firmly to the ground by means of stakes, and all was ready for
an ascent. The boys who had been watching me with intense interest were
each eager to be first.
"Jack shall have the honour," saidI, "as he is tlfe lightest, so up with you,
my boy, and do not break your neck."
Jack, who was as active as a monkey, sprang up the ladder and quickly gained
"Three cheers for the nest!" he exclaimed, waving his cap. "HIurrah,
hurrah, hurrah for our jolly nest What a grand house we will have up here;
come along, Fritz! "
His brother was soon by his side, and with a hammer and nails secured the
ladder yet more securely. I followed with an axe, and took a survey of the
tree. It was admirably suited to our purpose; the branches were very strong
and so closely interwoven that no beams would be required to form a flooring,
but when some of the boughs were lopped and cleared away, a few planks would
be quite sufficient.
I now called for a pulley, which my wife fastened to the cord hanging beside
the ladder, I hauled it up, and finding the boys rather in my way, told them to
go down while I proceeded to fasten the pulley to a stout branch above me, that
we might be able to haul up the beams we should require the next day. I then
made other preparations that there might be no delay on the morrow, and a
bright moon having arisen, I by its light continued working until I was quite
worn out, and then at length descended. I reached the ground, but to my
surprise found that the two boys were not there. They had not been seen. A
moment afterwards, however, all anxiety was dispelled, for amongst the topmost
boughs I heard their young voices raised in the evening hymn. Instead of
descending, they had, while I was busy, climbed upwards, and had been sitting
in silent admiration of the moonlight scene, high above me. They now joined
us, and my wife showed me the results of her labour. She had made two
complete sets of harness. I congratulated her upon her success, and we then
sat down to sipper. On a cloth spread out upon the grass were arranged a roast
shoulder of porcupine, a delicious bowl of soup made from a piece of the same
animal, cheese, butter, and biscuits, forming a most tempting repast. Having
done this ample justice, we collected our cattle, and the pigeons nrd fn' I hinvin-T
retired to roost on the neighboring trees, and on the steps I .1 1 I.I', -
made up a glorious fire to keep off any prowling wild beasts, and ourselves lay
down. The children, in spite of the novelty of the hammocks, were quickly
asleep. In vain I tried to follow their example: a thousand anxious thoughts
presented themselves, and as quickly as I dispelled them others rose in their
place. The night wore on, and I was still awake; the fire burned low, and I
rose and replenished it with dry fuel. Then again I climbed into my hammock,
and towards morning fell asleep.
Early next morning we were astir, and dispersed to our various occupations.
My wife milked the goats and cow, while we gave the animals their food, after
which we went down to the beach, to collect more wood for our building opera-
tions. To the larger beams we harnessed the cow and ass, while we ourselves
dlrqoe-vld p the remainder. Fritz and I then ascended the tree, and finished
i-. .'. r." '..., I had begun the night before, all useless boughs we lopped off,
leaving a few about six feet from the floor, from which we might sling our
hammocks, and others still higher, to support -' I.-.. ...i roof of sailcloth.
My wife made fast the planks to a rope passed -! .....!h II.. block I had fixed to
the bough above us, and by this means Fritz and I hauled them up. These we
arranged side by side on the foundation of boughs, so as to form a smooth solid
floor, and round this platform built a bulwark of planks, and then throwing the
sailcloth over the higher branches, we drew it down and firmly nailed it. Our
house was thus enclosed on three sides, for behind the great trunk protected us,
while the front was left open to admit the fresh sea breeze which blew directly
in. We then hauled up our hammocks and bedding and slung them from the
40 The Swiss F, :'.'.*"r Robinson.
branches we had left for that purpose. A few hours of cl-,, I Ij r 1, 1 i irL -..r
we cleared the floor from leaves and chips, and then ii. ....... i .. !,i..o i
table and a few benches from the remainder of the wood. After working likl
slaves all day, Fritz and I flung ourselves on the grass, while my wife arranged
supper on the table we handmade.
"Come," said she at length, come and taste flamingo stew, and tell me
how you like it. Ernest assured me that it would be much better stewed than
roasted, and I have been following his directions."
Laughing at the idea of Ernest turning scientific cook we sat down. The
fowls lli ... I .. ad us to pick up the crumbs, and the tame flamingo joined
them, i ri.. ... r. r Knips skipped about from one to the other, chattering and
mimicking our gestures continually. To my wife's joy, the sow appeared
shortly after, and was presented with all the milk that remained from the day's
stock that she might be persuaded to return every night.
For," said my wife, this surplus milk is really of no use to us, as it will
be sour before the morning in this hot climate."
You are quite right," I replied, but we must contrive to make it of use.
The next time Fritz and I return to the wreck we will bring off a churn amongst
the other things we require."
Must you really go again to that dreadful wreck ?" said my wife shudder-
ing. "You have no idea how anxious I am when you are away there."
"Go we must, I am afraid," I replied, "but not for a day or two yet.
Come, it is getting late. We and the chickens must go to roost."
We lit our watch fires, and, leaving the dogs on guard below, ascended the
ladder. Fritz, Ernest, and Jack were up in a moment. Their mother followed
very cautiously, for though she had originated the idea of building a nest, she
yet hesitated to entrust herself at such a terrific height from the ground.
When she was safely landed in the house, taking little Franz on my back, I let
go the fqa ia ini" which secured the lower end of the ladder to the ground, and
swinging *-i h..., slowly ascended.
Then for the first time we stood all together in our new home. I drew up
the ladder, and, with a greater sense of security than I had enjoyed since we
lauded on the island, offered up our evening prayer, and retired for thenight.
A day o rest- A parable for tl ..; i -U.* ... ,i. .. -'. ... !
clature- The margay and ... 1 .. i .,... 1 ,i .. .... I i i.i hIj r
-Potatoes, potatoes--Tropical vegetation-The use of the Karatas-Jack's
greediness and its punishment-Ernest discovers cochineal-Arrive at Tentholm-
The poultry rebellious-Return to Falconhurst-Ernest roused out early-We
collect wood for a sledge-, i ,. !'..,. Il.i 11 ...- Franz's plan for the saving of
ammunition-Ernest and i r i i. !. I ii. utholm-Ernest's laziness exem-
plified-He catches a salmon-We start for home-Kill a kangaroo-And cook it.
NEXT morning all were early awake, and the children sprang about the.tree
like young monkeys.
What shall we begin to do, father ? they cried. What do you want us
to do, to-day."
Rest, my boys," I replied, "rest."
SRest repeated they. Why should we rest ?
Six days shalt thou labour and do all that thou hast to do, but on the
seventh, -thou shalt do no manner of work.' This is the seventh dlay," I
replied, on it, therefore, let us rest."
A Parable. 41
What, is it really Sunday?" said Jack; "how jolly! oh, I wont do any
work but I'll take a bow and arrow and shoot, and we'll climb about the tree
and have fun-all day."
That is not resting," said I, "that is not the way you are accustomed to
spend the Lord's day."
"No! but then we can't go to church here, and there is nothing else to do."
"We can worship here as well as at home," said I.
"But there is no church, no clergyman, and no organ," said Franz.
"The leafy shade of this great tree is far more beautiful than any church," I
said; "there will we worship our Creator. Come, boys, down with you: turn
our dining hall into a breakfast room."
The children, one by one, slipped down the ladder.
"MLy dear Elizabeth," said I, "this morning we will devote to the service of
the Lord, and by means of a parable I will endeavour to give the children some
serious thoughts; but, without books, or the possibility of any of the usual
Sunday occupations, we cannot keep them quiet the whole day; afterwards,
therefore, I shall allow them to pursue any innocent recreation they choose, and
in the cool of the evening we will take a walk."
My wife entirely agreed with my proposal, and having breakfasted, the
family assembled round me, as we sat in the pleasant shade on the fresh soft
After singing some hymns and offering heartfelt prayers to the Almighty Giver
of all good, I told the children I would relate to them a parable instead of
preaching a sermon.
Oh that will be delightful! I like the parables in the Bible better than
anything," said Franz. "When can we hear you read out of the Bible again,
Ah, my little boy, your words reproach me," returned I. While eagerly
striving to procure from the ship what would feed our bodies and provide for
their comfort, I blush to think that I have neglected the Bread of Life, the word
of God. I shall search for a Bible on my next return to the wreck: although
our own books were nearly all destroyed, I am pretty sure to find one."
At these words, my wife arose and, fetching her magic bag, she drew from it
a copy of the Holy Scriptures, which I thankfully received from her hand; and
after reading aloud from its sacred pages, I spoke as follows :
"A Great King, ruling in power and splendour over a vast realm of light and
love, possessed within its boundaries a desolate and unfruitful island. This spot
he' made the object of his special care; and, lavishing on it all the varied
resources of his might and. goodness, it bloomed in beauty, and became the
happy residence of a band of colonists who were charged not only with the cul-
tivation and improvement of the soil, but each individually was bound to cherish
in his soul the spirit of love and true allegiance to his Sovereign. While this
faithful union was maintained, the colony flourished; and the noblest virtues
exalted and rendered happy the existence of every member of the race. That a
discontented and rebellious spirit should ever have infected these fortunate
subjects of so loving a master, seems incredible, yet so it was; disobedience and
pride brought misery and punishment, the fair prospects of the colony were
blighted, the labours of the colonists were unblessed, and total separation from the
parent kingdom seemed inevitable. A message of pardon-of free forgiveness-
was nevertheless accorded to these rebels; and to all who, humbly '..... !.ri it,
"moulded their future lives to the will of the Great King (now revealed in a
character even more gracious than before) was held out the promise of removal
at last from among the ruins caused by the great rebellion, to the glory and
undimmed splendour of the realm of Light and Blessedness."
Having interested the children, I then, leaving allegory, pressed simply and
earnestly home to each young heart the truths I sought to teach; and, with a
short prayer for a blessing on my words, brought the service to a close.
After a thoughtful pause, we separated, and each employed himself as he felt
42 The Swiss Family Robinson.
I took some arrows, and endeavoured to point them with porcupine quills.
Franz came to beg me make a little bow and arrow for him to shoot with,
while Fritz asked my advice about the tiger-cat skin and the cases he was to
contrive from it. Jack assisted with the arrow making, and inserting a sharp
spine at one end of each reed made it fast with pack-thread, and began to wish
for glue to ensure its remaining firm.
Oh, Jack! Mamma's soup is as sticky as anything! cried Franz; "shall
I run and ask for a cake of it?"
"No, no, little goose! better look for some real glue in the tool-box."
"There he will find glue,
to be sure," said I, and
the soup would scarcely have
S answered your purpose. But
Jack, my boy, I do not like
=- to hear you ridicule your
little brother's idea. Some
-u of the most valuable dis-
d i-- ccoveries have been the re-
__ sult of thoughts which ori-
ginally appeared no wiser
-- While thus directing and
S assisting my sons, we were
S surprised by hearing a shot
just over our heads; at the
same moment two small
f- b bids fell dead at our feet,
---a d looking up, we beheld
-- Ernest among the branches,
-- as bending his face
towards us, he cried, V11
hit! well hit! a good shot,
'" l wasn't it?"
Then slipping down the
.- ladder, and picking up the
birds, he brought them to
--me. One was a kind of
S.1 thrush, the other a small
dove called the Ortolan, and
S -: esteemed a very great deli-
cacy on account of its exqui-
V -site flavour. As the figs on
"- which these birds came to
s- feed were only just begin-
uig ning to ripen, it was pro-
-- able that they would soon
:'. .'flock in numbers to our trees;
and by waiting until we
ORTOL.,M could procure them in large
quantities, we might provide
ourselves with valuable food for the rainy season, by placing them, when half
cooked, in cases with melted lard or butter poured over them.
By this time Jack had pointed a good supply of arrows, and industriously
practised archery. I finished the bow and arrows for Franz, and expected to be
left in peace; but the young man next demanded a quiver, and I had to invent
that also, to complete his equipment. It was easily done by stripping a piece
of bark from a small tree, fitting afiat side and a bottom to it, and then a string.
Attaching it to his shoulders, the youthful hunter filled it with arrows and went
off; looking, as his'mother said, like an innocent little Cupid, bent on conquest.
Geographical Nomencature. 43
Not long after this, we were summoned to dinner, and all right willingly
obeyed the call.
During the meal I interested the boys very much by proposing to decide on
suitable names for the different spots we had visited on this ooast.
'' For," said I, "it will become more and more troublesome to explain what we
mean, unless we do so. Besides which, we shall feel much more at home if we
can talk as people do in inhabited countries: instead of saying, for instance,
the little island at the mouth of our bay, where we found the dead shark,'
'the large stream near our tent, across which we made the bridge,' 'that wood
where we found cocoa-nuts, and caught the monkey,' and so on. Let us begin
by naming the bay in which we landed. What shall we call it ?"
Oyster Bay," said Fritz.
"No, no!-Lobster Bay," cried Jack, "in memory of the old fellow who
took a fancy to my leg! "
I think," observed his mother, that in token of gratitude for our escape,
we should call it Safety Bay."
This name met with general approbation, and was forthwith fixed upon.
Other names were quickly chosen. Our first place of abode we called Tent-
holm; the islet in the bay, Shark's Island; and the reedy swamp, Flamingo
Marsh. It was some time before the serious question of a name for our leafy
castle could be decided. But finally it was entitled Falconhurst; and we then
rapidly named the few remaining points; Prospect fill, the eminence we first
ascended; Cape Disappointment, from whose rocky heights we had strained
our eyes in vain search for our ship's company; and Jackal River, as a name
for the large stream at our landing place, concluded our geographical nomen-
In the afternoon the boys went on with their various employment. Fritz
finished his cases, and Jack asked my assistance in carrying out his plan of
making a cuirass for Turk, out of the porcupine skin. After thoroughly
cleansing the inside, we cut and fitted it round the body of the patient dog : then
when strings were sewn on, and it became tolerably dry, he was armed with this
ingenious coat of mail, and a most singular figure he cut!
Juno strongly objected to his friendly approaches, and got out of his way as
fast as she could; and it was clear that he would easily put to flight the fiercest
animal he might encounter, while protected by armour at once defensive and
I determined to make also a helmet for Jack out of the remainder of the skin,
which to his infinite delight I speedily did.
Amid these interesting .- .. ..ri._.n, the evening drew on, and after a pleasant
walk among the sweet glades near our abode, we closed our Sabbath day with
prayer and a glad hymn of praise, retiring to rest with peaceful hearts.
Next morning, 1 proposed an expedition to Tentholm, saying I wished to
make my way thither, by a different route. We left the tree well armed; I and
my three elder sons each carrying a gun and game bag, while little Franz was
equipped with his bow and quiver full of arrows. A most curious party we
formed; Fritz adorned with his belt of margay skin, and Jack, with his extra-
ordinary head-dress, looked like a couple of young savages. Their mother and
I walked together; she, of the whole party, being the only one unarmed, carried
a jar in which to get butter from Tentholm; we were preceded by the dogs-
Turk armed most effectually with his cuirass of porcupine skin, and Juno
keeping at a respectful distance from so formidable a companion. Master
Knips fully intended to mount his charger as usual; but when he saw him
arrayed apparently in a new skin, he approached him carefully, and touching
him with one paw, discovered that such a hide would make anything but an
agreeable seat; the grimace he made was most comical, and chattering vocifer-
ously he bounded towards Juno, skipped on her back, seated himself, and soon
appeared perfectly reconciled to the change of oc1d. The Flamingo saw us
SHot-t, in German, means nest" or "eyrie."
44 The Swiss Family Robinson.-
starting, and having been much petted during the last day or two, considered
himself entitled to accompany us; for some time he kept beside the children,
following first one and then another, as they explored the wood on either side;
their irregular course, however, at length disgusted him, and, abandoning them,
he walked sedately by my side. We strolled on in the cool evening air, follow-
ing the course of the stream; the great trees overshadowed us, and the cool
green sward stretched away between them at our feet. The boys roamed ahead
of me, intent on exploration. Presently I heard a joyful shout, and saw Ernest
running at full speed towards me, followed by his brothers. In his hand he
held a plant, and, panting for breath, and with sparkling eyes, he held it
up to me.
"Potatoes! potatoes! father," he gasped out.
Yes," said Jack, "acres and acres of potatoes! "
My dear Ernest," said I, for there was no mistaking the flower and leaf, and
the light lear-green bulbous roots, you have indeed made a discovery; with
the potato we shall never starve."
"But come and look at them," said Jack, "come and feast your eyes on
thousands of potatoes."
We hurried to the spot: there, spread out before us, was a great tract of
ground, covered with the precious plant.
It would have been rather difficult," remarked Jack, not to have discovered
such a great field."
Very likely," replied Ernest, smiling; but I doubt if you would have
discovered that it was a potato field."
"Perhaps not," said Jack, "you are quite welcome, at all events, to the
honour of the discovery; I'll have the honour of being the first to get a supply
of them." So saying, he dug up, with hands and knife, a number of plants,
and filled his game-bag with the roots. The monkey followed his example,
and scratching away with his paws most cleverly, soon had a heap beside him.
So delighted were we with the discovery, and so eager were we to possess a
large supply of the roots, that we stopped not digging until every bag, pouch,
and pocket was filled. Some wished to return at once to Falconhurst, to cook
and taste our new acquisition; but this I overruled, and we continued our
march, heavily laden, but delighted.
How," said I, can we thank the Giver of all these blessings, sufficiently ? "
"Oh," said Franz, we can say, We thank thee, 0 Lord, for all thy good-
ness and mercy; and bless us, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen. ''
"That would not be sufficient," said Fritz. "Do you think it would be
enough, just to say to father and mother: Thank you for all you do,' and not
to show that we were really thankful, by loving them and doing what we can
to please them ? "
You are quite right, Fritz," said I; Franz did not say all that was neces-
sary, he should have added, Give me grace to do Thy will, and to obey Thee in
all things.' "
As we thus talked, we reached the head of our streamlet, where it fell from
the rocks above in a beautiful, sparkling, splashing cascade. We crossed and
entered the tall grass on the other side. We forced our way through with diffi-
culty, so thick and tangled were the reeds. Beyond this, the landscape was
most lovely. Rich tropical vegetation flourished on every side: the tall stately
palms, surrounded by luxuriant ferns; brilliant flowers and graceful creepers;
the prickly cactus shooting up amidst them; aloe, jasmine, and sweet-scented
vanilla; the Indian pea, and above all the regal pine-apple, loaded the breath of
the evening breeze with their rich perfume. The boys were delighted with the
pine-apple, and so eagerly did they fall to, that my wife had to caution them
that there were no doctors on our territory, and that if they became ill, they
would have to cure themselves as best-tley might.
This advice, however ._sm oa -tohave small effect on my sons, anid showing
Knips what t.w"axed, they sent him after the ripest and best fruit.
i -neny weroe.thus employed, I examined the other shrubs and bushes,
Ernest discovers Cochinealt. 45
Among these I presently noticed one which I knew well from description to be
Come here, boys," I said; "here is something of far more value'than your
pine-apples. Do you see that plant with long pointed leaves and l.Putiful
red flower ? That is the karatas. The filaments of the leaves !u ,I... ,p.il
thread, while the leaves themselves, bruised, form an invaluable salve. The
pith of this wonderful plant may be used either for tinder or bait for fish.
Suppose, Ernest, you had been wrecked here, how would you have made a fire
without matches, or flint and steel ? "
"As the savages do," replied he; "I would rub two pieces of wood together
until they kindled."
Try it," I said; "but, if you please, try it when you have a' hole day
before you, and no other work to be done, for I am certain it would be night
before you accomplished the feat. But see here," and I broke a dry twig from
the karatas, and peeling off the bark, laid the pith upon a stone. struck a
couple of pebbles over it, and they emitting a spark, the pith caught fire.
The boys were delighted with the experiment. I then drew some of the
threads from the leaves, and presented them to my wife.
But.what," said Fritz, is the use of all these other prickly plants, except
to annoy one S l ere, for instance, is a disagreeable little tree."
That is an Indian fig," said I. "It grows best on dry, rocky ground; for
most of its nourishment is derived from the air. Its juice is used, I believe,
medicinally, while its fruit is pleasant and wholesome."
Master Jack was off in a moment when he heard of a new delicacy, and
attempted to gather some of the fruit, but in vain; the sharp thorns defied his
efforts, and with bleeding hands and rueful countenance, he returned. I
removed the thorns from his hands, and making a sharp wooden skewer,
I thrust it into a fig, and quickly twisted it from its branch and split it open
with a knife, still holding it upon the skewer. The rest followed my example,
and we regaled ourselves upon the fruit, which we found excellent. Ernest
carefully examined the fig he was eating. "What are these ? he exclaimed,
presently; "little red insects! they cling all over the fruit, and I cannot shake
them off. Can they be cochineal ?"
He handed me the fig, and I examined it attentively.
You are quite right, my boy," I said; there is no doubt this is the real
cochineal. However, though it is worth its weight in gold to European traders,
it is of little use to us, I am afraid, unless any of you care to appear in gay
colours. The cochineal, you know, forms the most lovely scarlet dye."
No, thank you," said Jack, "but we will take a lot of it when we go home
again. Now let us find something more useful to us." And they thereupon
plied me incessantly with questions concerning every plant and shrub we passed.
"Stop, stop," I said at length; "the most learned naturalist would be much
puzzled with many of these trees; and I, who have never seen any of them
before, and know them merely by description, cannot pretend to tell you the
names, or explain to you the uses of one quarter of them."
Discussing, however, the properties of such shrubs as I did know, we at
length reached Tentholm. Everything was safe, and we set to work to collect
what we wanted. I opened the butter cask, from which my wife filled her pot.
Fritz saw after the ammunition, and Jack and Ernest ran down to the beach to
capture the geese and ducks. This they found no easy matter, for the birds,
left so long alone, were shy, and nothing would induce them to come on shore
and be caught. Ernest at length hit upon an ingenious plan. He took some
pieces of cheese, and tied them to long strings. This bait he threw into the
water, and the hungry ducks instantly made a grab at it; then with a little
skilful manoeuvring he drew them on shore. While Jack and he were thus
busily employed catching and tying the rebels together by the feet, we procured
a fresh supply of salt, which we packed upon Turk's back, first relieving him
of his coat of mail. The birds we fastened to our game-bags, and carefully
closing the door of our tent, started homewards by the sea-shore. After a
46 The Swiss Family Robinson.
cheerful andi pleasant walk, we once more reached our woodland abode. I
released the birds, and, clipping their wings to prevent their leaving us,
established them on the stream. Then, after a delicious supper of potatoes,
milk, and butter, we ascended our tree and turned in.
Having remarked a great deal of drift-wood on the sands the preceding
evening, it occurred to me that it would be well to get some of it, and make a
kind of sledge, so that the labour of fetching what we wanted from our stores at
Tentholm might not fall so heavily on ourselves.
I awoke early, and roused Ernest as my assistant, wishing to encourage him
to overcome his natural fault of indolence. After a little stretching and yawn-
ing, he got up cheerfully, pleased with the idea of an expedition while the
others still slept, and we made our way to the beach, taking with us the donkey,
who drew a large broad bough, which I expected to find useful in bringing back
As we went along, I remarked to Ernest that I supposed he was rather sorry
for himself, and grudged leaving his cosy hammock and pleasant dreams at this
Oh, father, do not laugh at my laziness Indeed I mean to cure myself of
it. 1 am very glad to go with you. I intended to shoot some more of the
ortolans this morning, but there will be plenty of time afterwards. The boys
will be shooting at them, I daresay, but I don't expect they will have any great
Why not, pray ? inquired I.
"I don't believe they will know what shot to use at first, and, besides, they
will most likely shoot upwards at the birds and be sure to miss them, on account
of the great height and thickness of the branches and foliage."
Well, Ernest, you certainly possess the gifts of prudence and reflection, as
well as observation. These are valuable ; but sudden action is so often necessary
in life, that I advise you to cultivate the power of instantly perceiving and
deciding what must be done in cases of emergency. Presence of mind is a
precious quality, which, although natural in some characters, may be acquired
in a certain degree by all who train themselves to it."
Once on the sea-shore, our work was quickly accomplished, for selecting the
wood I thought fit for my purpose, we laid it across the broad leafy branch, and,
with some help from us, the donkey dragged a very fair load of it homewards,
with the addition of a small chest which I raised from among the sand which
nearly covered it.
We heard the boys popping away at the birds as we drew near. They hastened
to meet us, and inquired where we had been, looking curiously at the chest,
which i allowed them to open, while I asked my wife to excuse our "absence
without leave; and after submitting to her gentle reprimand, I explained my
plan for a sledge, which pleased her greatly, and she already imagied it loaded
with her hogshead of butter, and on its way from Tentholm to Falconhurst.
The chest proved to be merely that of a common sailor, containing his clothes,
very much wetted by the sea water.
The boys exhibited an array of several dozen birds, and related, during break-
fast, the various incidents of failure and success which had attended their gmls.
Ernest had rightly guessed the mistakes they would make, but practice was
making them perfect, and they seemed disposed to continue their sport, when
their mother, assuring them that she could not use more birds than those already
killed, asked if I did not think some means of snaring them might be contrived,
as much powder and shot would be expended if they fired on at this rate.
Entirely agreeing with this view of the subject, I desired the lads to lay aside
their guns for the present, and the younger ones readily applied themselves to
making snares of the long threads drawn from the leaves of the karatas in a
simple way I taught them, while Fritz and Ernest gave me substantial assistance
in the manufacture of the new sledge,
We were busily at work, when a tremendous disturbance among our fowls led
us to suppose that a fox or wild cat had got into their midst.
A flan for saving Ammunition. 47
The cocks crowed defiantly, the hens fluttered and cackled in a state of the
wildest excitement. We hastened towards them, but Ernest remarking Master
Knips slipping away, as though conscious of some misdemeanor, went to watch
him, and presently caught him in the act of eating a new-laid egg, which he had
carried off.and hidden among the grass and roots. Ernest found several others.
These were very welcome to my wife, for hitherto the hens had not presented us
with any eggs. Hereafter she determined to imprison the monkey every
morning until the eggs had been collected.
Soon after this, as Jack was setting the newly-made snares among the branches,
he discovered that a pair of our own pigeons were building in the tree. It was
very desirable to increase our stock of these pretty birds, and I cautioned the
boys against shooting near our tree while they had nests there, and also with
regard to the snares, which were meant only to entrap the wild-fig-eaters.
Although my sons were interested in setting the snares, they by no means
approved of the new order to economise the ammunition. No doubt they had
been discussing this hardship, for little Franz came to me with a brilliant pro-
posal of his own.
"Papa," said he, why should not we begin to plant some powder and shot
immediately? It would be so much more useful than bare grain for the fowls."
His brothers burst into a roar of laughter, and I must confess I found it no
easy matter to keep my countenance.
Come, Ernest, said I; "now we have had our amusement, tell the little
fellow what gunpowder really is."
"It is not seed at all, Franz," Ernest explained. "Gunpowder is made of
charcoal, sulphur, and saltpetre, mixed cleverly together; so you see it cannot
be sown like corn, any more than shot can be planted like peas and beans."
My carpentering meantime went on apace. In order to shape my sledge with
ends properly turned up in front, I had chosen wood which had been part of the
bow of the vessel, and was curved in the necessary way for my purpose. Two
pieces, perfectly similar, formed the sides of my sleigh, or sledge, and I simply
united these strongly by fixing short bars across them. Then, when the ropes
of the donkey's harness were attached to the raised points in front, the equipage
was complete and ready for use.
My attention had been for some time wholly engrossed by my work, and I only
now observed that the mother and her little boys had been busily plucking above
two dozen of the wild birds, and were preparing to roast them, spitted in a row
on a long, narrow sword blade, belonging to one of our ship's officers.
It seemed somewhat wasteful to cook so many at once; but my wife explained
that she was getting them ready for the butter-cask I was going to fetch for her
on the new sledge, as I had advised her to preserve them half-cooked, and packed
Amused by her promptitude, I could do nothing less than promise to go for
her cask directly after dinner. For her part, she was resolved in our absence to
have a grand wash of linen and other clothes, and she advised me to arrange
regular baths for all the boys in future.
Early in the afternoon Ernest and I were ready to be off, equipped as usual.
Fritz presented us each with a neat case of Margay skin to hang at our girdles.
Weharnessed both cow and ass to the sledge, and, accompanied by Juno, cheer-
fully took our departure, choosing the way by the sands, and reaching Tentholm
without accident or adventure.
There, unharnessing the animals, we began at once to load the sledge, not only
with the butter-cask, but with a powder-chest, a barrel of cheese, and a variety
of other articles,-ball, shot, tools, and Turk's armour, which had been left
behind on our last visit.
Our work had so closely engaged our attention, that when we were ready to
leave it and go in search of a good bathing-place, we discovered that our two
animals had wandered quite out of sight, having crossed the bridge to reach the
good pasture beyond the river.
I sent Ernest after them, and went alone to the extremity of the bay. It
48 The Swiss Family Robinson.
terminated in bold and precipitous cliffs, which extended into the deep water,
and rose abruptly, so as to form an inaccessible wall of rock and crag. .'". '. i
ground, overgrown with large canes, intervened between me and these !. Il: 1
cut a large bundle of the reeds, and returned to Ernest. It was some time before
I found him, comfortably extended full length on the ground near the tent, and
sleeping as sound as a top, while the cow and the ass, grazing at will, were again
making for the bridge.
Get up, Ernest, you lazy fellow exclaimed I, much annoyed; "why don't
yo mind your business ? Look at the animals 1 They will be over the river
No fear of that, father," returned he, with the utmost composure. "I have
taken a couple of boards off the bridge. They won't pass the gap."
I could not help laughing at the ingenious device by which the boy had
spared himself all trouble; at the same time I observed that it is wrong to waste
the precious moments in sleep when duty has to be performed. I then bid him
go and collect some salt, which was wanted at home, while I went to bathe.
On coming back, much refreshed, I again missed Ernest, and began to wonder
whether he was still gathering salt, or whether he had lain down somewhere to
finish his nap, when I heard him loudly calling,-
Father, father I've caught a fish! an immense fellow he is. I can scarcely
hold him, he drags the line so!"
Hastening towards the spot, I saw the boy lying in the grass, on a point of
land close to the mouth of the stream, and with all his might keeping hold of a
rod. The line was strained to the utmost by the frantic efforts of a very large
fish, which was attempting to free itself from the hook.
I quickly took the rod from him, and giving the fish more line, led him by
degrees into shallow water. Ernest ran in with his hatchet and killed him.
It proved to be a salmon of full fifteen pounds weight, and I was delighted to
think of taking such a valuable prize to them.
"This is capital, Ernest!" cried I; you have cleared yourself for once of
the charge of laziness! Let us now carry this splendid salmon to the sledge.
I will clean and pack it for the journey, "that it may arrive in good condition,
while you go and take a bath in the sea."
All this being accomplished, we harnessed our beasts to the well-laden vehicle,
and replacing the boards on the bridge, commenced the journey home.
We kept inland this time, and were skirting the borders of a grassy thicket,
when Juno suddenly left us, and plunging into the bushes, with fierce barking
hunted out, right in front of us, the most singular-looking creature I ever
beheld. It was taking wonderful flying leaps, apparently in a sitting posture,
and got over the ground at an astonishing rate. I attempted to shoot it as it
passed, but missed. Ernest, who was behind me, observed its movements very
coolly, and seeing that the dog was puzzled, and that the animal, having paused,
was crouching among the grass, went cautiously nearer, fired at the spot he had
marked, and shot it dead.
The extraordinary appearance of this creature surprised us very much. It
was as large as a sheep, its head was shaped like that of a mouse; its skin also
was of a mouse-colour, it had long ears like a hare, and a tail like a tiger's.
The fore-paws resembled those of a squirrel, but they seemed only half-grown,
while the hind-legs were enormous, and so long, that when upright on them
the animal would look as if mounted on stilts.
For some time we stood silently wondering at the remarkable creature before
us. I could not recollect to have seen or heard of any such.
Well, father," said Ernest at last. 1 should say this was about the queerest
beast to be met with anywhere. I amn glad I knocked it over. How they will
all stare when I carry it home!"
"You have had a lucky day altogether, certainly," said I;. "but I cannot
think what this animal can be. Examine its teeth, and let us see to what
class of mammalia it belongs. We may be led to guess at its name in that
A Kangaroo. 49
"I see four sharp incisor teeth, father,-two upper, and two under, as a
"AAh! then he is a rodent. What rodents can you remember, Ernest ?"
"I do not know them all, but there are the mouse, the marmot, the squirrel,
the hare, the beaver, the jerboa-"
The jerboa!" I exclaimed, "the jerboa! now we shall have it... This is
really very like a jerboa, only far larger. It must be a kangaroo, one of the
class of animals which has a pouch or purse beneath the body, in which its
young can take refuge. They were discovered in New Holland, by the great
Captain Cook, and I congratulate you on being the first to obtain a specimen in
New Switzerland! I added, laughing, as I extemporized the name.
The kangaroo was added to the already heavy load on our sledge, and we pro-
ceeded slowly, arriving late at Falconhurst, but meeting with the usual bright
Very eager and inquisitive were the glances turned towards the sledge, for the
load piled on it surpassed all expectation: we on our part staring in equal sur-
prise at the extraordinary rig of the young folks who came to meet us.
One wore a long night-shirt, which, with a belt, was a convenient length in
front, but trailed behind in orthodox ghost fashion.
Another had on a very wide pair of trousers, braced up so short that each
little leg looked like the clapper in a bell.
The third, buttoned up in a pea-jacket which came down to his ankles, looked
for all the world like a walking portmanteau.
Amid much joking and laughter, the mother exclaimed that she had been
washing all day, and while their clothes were drying, the boys amused them-
selves by dressing up in things they found while i ru.' ..ii. H ...l..r's chest,
and had kept them on, that Ernest and I might :.... p. ... '.i. It cer-
tainly amused us, but made me regret that so little belonging to ourselves had
been saved from the wreck, in consequence of which the children had scarcely a
change of linen.
Turning now to our new acquisitions, we excited great interest by exhibiting
each in turn; the large salmon, but more especially the kangaroo, surprised and
Fritz alone wore a look expressive of dissatisfaction, and I saw that he was
envious of his younger brother's success. Vexed that so noble a prize had fallen
to Ernest's gun, instead of his own, he treated it rather slightingly; but I
could see that he was struggling against his jealous feelings, and he, after a
while, succeeded in recovering his good humour, and joined pleasantly in the
"What a famous day's sport you have had altogether! said he, coming
close up to me. "It will be my turn to go out with you next, will it not,
father ? Just about here there is nothing to shoot, and I have found it very
Still you have been doing your duty, my dear boy: you were entrusted with
the care of the family, and a youth of manly character will not depend for hap-
piness on mere excitement."
As the shades of night approached, we made haste to conclude the day's work,
by preparing the kangaroo, part for immediate use, and part for salting. The
animals were fed, and a plentiful allowance of salt made to them. Our own
supper of broiled salmon and potatoes was dispatched with great appetite, and
we retired, with thankful hearts, to sound and well-earned repose.
50 The Swiss Family Robinson.
Jack and Ernest disappear-Fritz and I start for the wreck-The boys' ambuscade-We
form a raft-Ransack the vessel-Again embark-A Turtle in sight-Fritz harpoons
it-The Turtle acts as Steam Tug "-Safe ashore-Return honme-Jack's clay-field
-A fresh discovery-The mother's cellar-A trip to the wreck-The pinnace-Jack's
raid on the Lilliputians-A secret revealed-A new method of grinding flour-
Wholesome or poisonous ?-Bread-making in earnest.
NEXT morning, while the breakfast was getting ready, I attended to the
beautiful skin of the kangaroo, which I was anxious to preserve entire; and
afterwards, when Fritz had prepared everything in readiness for our trip to the
wreck, I called Ernest and Jack in order to give them some parting injunctions.
They, however, had disappeared directly after breakfast, and their mother could
only guess, that, as we required potatoes, they might have gone to fetch a supply.
I desired her to reprove them, on their return, for starting away without leave;
but, as it appeared they had taken Turk, I satisfied myself that no harm
was likely to befall them, although it was not without reluctance that I left my
dear wife alone with little Franz, cheering her with hopes of our speedy return
with new treasures from the wreck.
Advancing steadily on our way, we crossed the bridge at Jackal River, when
suddenly, to our no small astonishment, Jack and Ernest burst out of a hiding-
place where they had lain in wait for us, and were enchanted with the startling
effect of their unexpected appearance upon their ui.:u-i.... 'r..father. and
brother. It was evident that they fully believed they might now go with us to
To this notion I at once put a decided stop, although I could not find in
my heart to scold the two merry rogues for their thoughtless frolic, more
especially as I particularly wished to send back a message to my wife. I told them
they must hurry home, so as not to leave their mother in suspense, although, as
they were already so far, they might collect some salt. And I instructed them
to explain that, as my work on board would take up a long time, she must try
to bear with our absence for a night. This I had meant to say when we parted,
but my courage had failed, knowing how much she would object to such a plan,
and I had resolved to return in the evening.
On consideration, however, of the importance of constructing a raft, which
was my intention in going, and finishing it without a second trip, I determined
to remain on board for the night, as the boys had, unintentionally, given me the
chance of sending a message to that effect.
Good-bye, boys, take care of yourselves! we're off," shouted Fritz, as I
joined him in the tub-boat, and we shoved off.
The current carried us briskly out of the bay; we were very soon moored
safely alongside the wreck, and scrambling up her shattered sides stood, on what
remained of the deck, and began at once to lay our plans.
I wanted to make a raft fit to carry on shore a great variety of articles far too
large and heavy for our present boat. A number of empty water-casks seemed
just what was required for a foundation: we closed them tightly, pushed .them
overboard, and arranging twelve of them side by side in rows of three, we firmly
secured them together by means of spars, and then proceeded to lay a good
substantial floor of planks, which was defended by a low bulwark. In this way
we soon had a first-rate raft, exactly suited to our purpose.
It would have been impossible to return to land that same'evening, for we were
thoroughly fatigued by our labours, and had eaten only the light refreshment we
had brought in our wallets, scarcely desisting a moment from our work.
Rejoicing that we were not expected home, we now made an excellent supper
from the ship's provisions, and then rested for the night on spring mattresses, a
perfect luxury to us, after our hard and narrow hammocks.
We ransack the Vessel. 51
Next morning we actively set about loading the raft and boat: first carrying
off the entire contents of our own cabins; and, passing on to the Captain's
room, we removed the furniture, as well as the doors and window-frames, with
their bolts, bars, and locks. We next took the officers' chests, and those
belonging to the carpenter and gunsmith; the contents of these latter we had to
remove in portions, as their weight was far beyond our strength.
One large chest was filled with an assortment of fancy goods, and reminded us
of a jeweller's shop, so glittering was the display of gold and silver watches,
snuff-boxes, buckles, studs, chains, rings, and all manner of trinkets; these, and
a box of money, drew our attention for a time; but more useful to us at present
was a case of common knives and forks, which I was glad to find, as more suited
to us than the smart silver ones we had previously taken on shore. To my
delight we found, most carefully packed, a number of young fruit trees; and we
read on the tickets attached to them the names, so pleasant to European ears,
of the apple, pear, chestnut, orange, almond, peach, apricot, plum, cherry,
The cargo, which had been destined for the supply of a distant colony, proved,
in fact, a rich and almost inexhaustible treasure to us. Ironmongery, plumber's
tools, lead, paint, grind-stones, cart wheels, and all that was necessary for the
work of a smith's forge, spades and plough -shares, sacks of maize, peas, oats, and
wheat, a hand-mill, and also the parts of a saw-mill so carefully numbered that,
were we strong enough, it would be easy to put it up, had been stowed away.
So bewildered were we by the wealth around us that for some time we ere at
a loss as to what to remove to the raft. It would be impossible to take every-
thing; yet the first storm would complete the destruction of the ship, and we
should lose all we left behind. Selecting a number of the most useful articles,
however, including of course the grain and the fruit trees, we gradually loaded
our raft. Fishing lines, reels, cordage, and a couple of harpoons were put on
board, as well as a mariner's compass.
Fritz, recollecting our encounter with the shark, placed the harpoons in
readiness; and amused me by seeming to picture himself a whaler, flourishing
his harpoon in most approved fashion.
Early in the afternoon, both our crafts were heavily laden, and we were
ready to make for the shore. The voyage was begun with considerable anxiety,
as, with the raft in tow, there was some danger of an accident.
But the sea being calm and the wind favourable, we found we could spread the
sail, and our progress was very satisfactory.
Presently, Fritz asked me for the telescope, as he had observed something
curious floating at a distance. Then handing it back, he begged me to examine
the object; which I soon discovered to be a turtle asleep on the water, and
of course unconscious of our approach.
"Do, father, steer towards it! exclaimed he.
I accordingly did so, that he might have a nearer look at the creature. Little
did I suspect what was to follow. The lad's back was turned to me, and the
broad sail was between us, so that I could not perceive his actions ; when, all of
a sudden, I experienced a shock, and the thrill as of line running through a reel.
Before I had time to call out, a second shock, and the sensation of the boat being
rapidly drawn through the water, alarmed me.
''Fritz, what are you about F cried I, you are sending us to the bottom."
"I have him, hurrah I have him safe shouted he, in eager excitement.
To my amazement, I perceived that he really had struck the tortoise with
a harpoon; a rope was attached to it, and the creature was running away
Lowering the sail and seizing my hatchet, I hastened forward, in order to cut
the line, and cast adrift at once turtle and harpoon.
"Father! do wait!" pleaded the boy, "there is no danger just yet? I
promise to cut the line myself the instant it is necessary Let us catch this
turtle if we possibly can."
My dear boy, the turtle will be a very dear bargain, if he upsets all our
52 The Swiss Family Robinson.
goods into the sea, even if he does not drown us too. For heaven's sake be
careful! I will wait a few minutes, but the instant there is danger, cut the line."
As the turtle began to make for the open sea, I hoisted the sail again; and,
finding the opposition too much for it, the creature again directed its course
landward, drawing us rapidly after it. The part of the shore, for which the
turtle was making, was considerably to the left of our usual landing-place. The
beach there shelved very gradually, and at some distance from land we grounded
with a sharp shock, but fortunately without a capsize.
The turtle was evidently greatly exhausted, and no wonder, since it had been
acting the part of a steam tug, and had been dragging, at full speed, a couple of
heavily laden vessels. Its intention was to escape to land; but I leaped into
the water, and wading up to it, despatched it with my axe. Such was its
tenacity of life, however, that it did not cease its struggles, until I had actually
severed its head from its body.
As we were by no means far from Falconhurst, Fritz gave notice of our
approach by firing off his gun, as well as shouting loudly in his glee; and, while
we were yet engaged in securing our boats and getting the turtle on shore, the
whole family appeared in the distance hastening eagerly towards us; and our
new prize, together with the well-laden boat and raft, excited the liveliest
interest, my wife's chief pleasure, however, consisted in seeing us safely back,
as our night's absence had disturbed her, and she was horrified by the descrip-
tion of our dangerous run in the wake of our fugitive turtle.
Being anxious to remove some of our goods before night, the boys ran off to
fetch the sledge; while I, having no anchor, contrived to moor the boats by
means of some of the heavy blocks of iron we had brought.
It required our united strength to get the turtle hoisted on to the sledge, its
weight being prodigious; we found it, indeed, with the addition of the sapling
fruit-trees, quite a sufficient load.
We then made the best of our way home, chatting merrily about our various
adventures. The first thing to be done on arriving was to obtain some of the
turtle's flesh to cook for supper. To my wife this appeared necessarily a work
of time, as well as of difficulty; but I turned the beast on its back, and soon de-
tached a portion of the meat from the breast with a hatchet, by breaking the
lower shell; and I then directed that it should be cooked, with a little salt, shell
But let me first cut away this disgusting green fat," said my wife with a
little shudder. See how it sticks all over the meat. No one could eat any-
thing so nasty."
Leave the fat, whatever you do exclaimed I. Why, my dear, that is
the very best part, and the delight of the epicure. If there be really too much,
cut some off-it can be used as lard, and let the dogs make a supper of tho
"And the handsome shell! cried Fritz ; "I should like to make a water.
trough of that, to stand near the brook, and be kept always full of clear water
How useful that would be! "
That is a capital idea," I replied, and we may manage it easily, if we can
find clay so as to make a firm foundation on which to place it."
Oh, as to clay," said Jack, "I have a grand lump of clay there under
Well done, my lad! when did you find it ?"
He found a bed of clay near the river this morning," said his mother, and
came home in such a mess, I had regularly to scrape his clothes and wash hir
Well, mother, I can only tell you I should never in all my days have found
the clay, if I had not slipped and fallen amongst it."
That I can well believe," returned his mother; "only, to hear your talk this
morning, one would have thought your discovery of clay the result of very
arduous search indeed."
- "When you have ended the question of the clay and the turtle-shell," said
Cassava Bread. 53
Ernest, "I should like to show you some roots I found f..-.. they are getting
rather dry now. They look something like radishes, ll I.i.; 'i the plant itself
was almost a bush; but I have not ventured to taste them, although our old sow
was devouring them at a great rate."
In that you did wisely, my boy. Swine eat many things injurious to men.
Let me see your roots. Iow dlid you discover them ?"
I was rambling in the wood this morning, and came upon : very busy
grubbing under a small bush, and eating something ravenously; so I drove her
away, and found a number of these roots, which I brought for you to see.
Indeed, Ernest," I exclaimed, after taking the roots in my hand and consi-
dering them attentively, I am inclined to believe that you have really made a
brilliant discovery If this proves to be, as I expect, the manioc root, we might
lose every other eatable we possess and yet not starve. In the West Indies,
cakes called cassava bread are made from it; and, already having potatoes, we
shall be very independent if we can succeed in preparing flour from these roots.
Great care must be taken in the manufacture to express the juice, otherwise the
flour may be injurious and even poisonous."
"If we can collect a sufficient quantity, we will attempt bread-making. I
think I know how to set about it."
Finding there was still time to make another trip with the sledge, I went off
with the elder boys, leaving Franz with his mother; and we all looked forward
with satisfaction to the prospect of the princely supper they were to have ready
for us, for our day's work had been none of the lightest.
I have been thinking about my turtle, father," said Fritz, as we went along;
'is not the shell very valuable ? Surely beautiful combs, boxes, and a number
of ornamental things ore made of tortoise-shell, and if so, it seems a pity to use
it for a water-trough."
Your turtle, Fritz, is only fit for eating, its shell is worthless as regards
ornament; whereas the species whose shell is prized so much is unfit for food.
Tortoise-shell is subjected to the action of heat, the outer layer peels off, leaving
a beautifully marked, semi-transparent surface, which is susceptible of a very
The sledge quickly received its second load from the raft. Chests, four cart-
wheels, and the hand-mill were placed on it, with all manner of smaller articles,
and we lost no time in returning to Falconhurst.
The mother welcomed us joyfully, for she said we had been regularly over-
worked during the last two days. However, now you are come home to rest,"
said she, and you little think what refreshment awaits you here in the shade.
Come and see my cellar! and she smilingly exhibited a small cask, half sunk
in the ground, and well sheltered with leaves and branches.
"Alh! you wonder where this came from," continued the mother; "well, I
found it myself on the sands, to-day, while you were all absent; and fancying
it was wine of some sort, I got it up here on purpose to be ready for you. The
boys are most anxious to know what sort of wine it will prove to be."
As the simplest method of ascertaining this, I inserted a straw at the vent-
hole, and presently announced that in all my life I had never enjoyed a more
delicious draught of canary sack. The mother was immensely pleased to find
that her exertions in my behalf had not been thrown away, and the boys pressed
round me, armed with straws, and begging for a taste.
After so strongly .- -'.-:'*:-u, i own enjoyment of the wine, it seemed unrea-
sonable to deny t!. iirt., i-,. I let them come in turns, but was speedily
obliged to call a halt; for the rogues got so eager and excited that I had to
reprove them for their greediness, and warn them of the risk they ran of being
intoxicated. In fact, I blamed myself for allowing them to have this strong wine
as a beverage at all. They were wholly unaccustomed to it, and were besides
fatigued and very hungry. Supper was more to the purpose; and, as the turtle
proved delicious, it was heartily enjoyed, and gave us strength to haul the
mattresses we had brought from the ship, up into our sleeping-rooms, so that
very refreshing slumbers closed the day.
54 The Swiss Family Robinson.
Early, next morning, I got up without rousing any of the others, intending
to pay a visit to the beach; for I had my doubts about the safety of my vessels
on the open shore. The dogs were delighted when I descended the ladder, and
bounded to meet me; the cocks crowed and flapped their wings; two pretty kids
gambolled around; all was life and energy: the ass alone seemed disinclined t&
begin the day, and, as I especially required his services, this was unfortunate.
I put his morning dreams to flight, however, and harnessed him to the sledge;
the cow, as she had not been milked, enjoyed the privilege of further repose,
and with the rest of the family, I left her dozing.
My fears as to the safety of the boats were soon dispelled, for they were all
right; and, being in haste to return, the load I collected from their freight was
but a light one, and the donkey willingly trotted home with it, he, as well as I,
being uncommonly ready for breakfast. Approaching the tree, not a sound was
to be heard, not a soul was to be seen, although it was broad day; and great
was my good wife's surprise, when, roused by the clatter and hullabaloo I made,
she started up, and became aware of the late hour !
What can have made us oversleep ourselves like this ?" she exclaimed.
"It must be the fault of those mattresses, they are delightful, but really too
lulling; see the children are sound asleep still."
With much stretching and many yawns, the boys at last came tumbling down
from the tree, rubbing their eyes and seeming but half awake; Ernest last, as usual.
Come, my boys," said I, this will never do! Your beds were too luxurious
last night, I see: in my own opinion, however, I felt there was something
else to blame besides the comfortable mattresses, and I made a mental resolve
that the captain's fine canary should be dealt with very sparingly in future.
"So now for prayers and breakfast," I continued, and then off to work; I
must have our cargo landed in time to get the boats off with the next tide."
By dint of downright hard work, we accomplished this, and I got on board
with Fritz as soon as they were afloat; the rest turned homewards, but Jack
lingered behind with such imploring looks, that I could not resist taking him
My intention had been simply to take the vessels round to the harbour in
Safety Bay, but the calm sea and fine weather tempted me to make another
trip to the wreck. It took up more time than I expected, so that, when on
board, we could only make a further examination of the cargo, collect a few
portable articles, and then avail ourselves of the sea-breeze which would f.il us
after in the evening.
To Jack the pleasure of hunting about in the hold, was novel and charming,
and very soon a tremendous rattling and clattering heralded his approach with
a wheel-barrow, in the highest spirits at his good fortune in having found such
a capital thing in which to bring home potatoes.
He was followed by Fritz, whose news was still more important. He had
found, carefully packed and enclosed within partitions, what appeared to be the
separate parts of a pinnace, with rigging and fittings complete, even to a
couple of small brass guns. This was a great discovery, and I hastened to see
if the lad was right. Indeed he was, but my pleasure was qualified by a sense
of the arduous task it would be to put such a craft together so as to be fit for
sea. For the present, we had barely time to get something to eat and hurry into
the boat, where were collected our new acquisitions, namely, a copper boiler, iron
plates, tobacco-graters, two grindstones, a small barrel of powder, and another
of flints, two wheel-barrows, besides Jack's, which he kept under his own especial
As we drew near the shore, we were surprised to see a number of little figures
ranged in a row along the water's edge, and apparently gazing fixedly at us.
They seemed to wear dark coats and light waistcoats, and stood quite still with
their arms dropping by their sides, only every now and then one would extend
them gently, as though longing to embrace us.
"Ah! here at last come the pigmy inhabitants of the country to welcome
us cried I, laughing.
Lilliz utians. 55
Oh, father! exclaimed Jack, I hope they are Lilliputians! I once read
in a book about them, so there must be such people you know, only these look
rather too large."
You must be content to give up the Lilliputians and accept penguins, my
Aear Jack," said I. "We have not before seen them in such numbers, but
Ernest knocked one down if you remember, soon after we landed. They are
excellent swimmers, but helpless on land, as they can neither fly nor run."
We were gradually approaching the land as I spoke, and no sooner
was the water shallow, than out sprang Jack from his tub, and wading
ashore, took the
by surprise, and
with his stick laid
half a dozen, right
and left, either
stunned or dead at
his feet. The rest
escaped into the
water, dived, and
disappeared. oi -
As these pen-
guins are disagree.
able food, on ac-
count of their strong
oily taste, I was
sorry Jack had at-
tacked them; but
going to examine
them when we
landed, some of the
fallen arose from -,
their swoon, and 2
began solemnly to
waddle away, upon
which we caught .
them, and tying
their feet together
with long grass,
laid them on the
sand to wait until
we were ready to
The three wheel-
barrows then each
received a load, JAOx'S RAID ON THE PENGUINS.
the live penguins
seated gravely were trundled along by Jack, and away we went at a great
The unusual noise of our approach set the dogs barking furiously, but dis-
covering us, they rushed forward with such forcible demonstrations of delight,
that poor little Jack, who, as it was, could scarcely manage his barrow, was
fairly upset; penguins and all. This was too much for his patience, and it was
absurd to see how he started up and cuffed them soundly for their boisterous
This scene, and the examination of our burdens, caused great merriment:
the tobacco-grater and iron plates evidently puzzling everybody.
I sent the boys to catch some of our geese and ducks, and bid them fasten a
penguin to each by the leg, thinking that it was worth while to try to tame
56 The Swiss Family Robinson.
My wife had exerted herself in our absence to provide a good store of pota,
toes, and also of manioc root. I admired her industry, and little Franz said,
Ah, father! I wonder what you will say when mother and I give you eome
Indian corn, and melons, and pumpkins, and cucumbers!"
"Now you little chatterbox cried she, "you have let out my secret I
was to have the pleasure of surprising your father when my plants were
"Ah, the poor disappointed little mother!" said I. "Never mind! I am
charmed to hear about it. Only do tell me, where did those seeds come from ?"
Out of my magic bag, of course! replied she. And each time I have
gone for potatoes, I have sown seeds in the ground which was dug up to get
them; and I have planted potatoes also."
"Well done, you wise little woman! I exclaimed. "Why you are a model
of prudence and industry !
But," continued she, I do not half like the appearance of those tobacco-
graters you have brought. Is it possible you are going to make snuff? Do,
pray, let us make sure of abundance of food for our mouths, before we think of
our noses "
Make your mind easy, my wife," said I. I have not the remotest inten-
tion of introducing the dirty, ridiculous habit of snuffing into your family!
Please to treat my graters with respect, however, because they are to be the
means of providing you with the first fresh bread you have seen this many a
SWhat possible connection can there be between bread and tobacco-graters ?
I cannot imagine what you mean, and to talk of bread where there are no
ovens is only tantalizing."
Ah, you must not expect real loaves," said I. But on these flat iron plates
I can bake flat cakes or scones, which will be excellent bread; I mean to try at
once what I can do with Ernest's roots. And first of all, I want you to make me
a nice strong canvas bag."
This the mother willingly undertook to do, but she evidently had not much
faith in my powers as a baker, and I saw her set on a good potful of potatoes
before beginning to work, as though to make sure of a meal without depending
on my bread.
Spreading a large sail-cloth on the ground, I summoned my boys and set to
work. Each tool a grater and a supply of well-washed manioc root, and when
all were seated round the cloth,-" Once, twice, thrice Off! cried I, begin-
ning to rub a root as hard as I could against the rough surface of my grater.
My example was instantly followed by the whole party, amid bursts of merri-
ment, as each remarked the funny attitude and odd gestures of his neighbours
while vehemently rubbing, rasping, grating and grinding down the roots allotted
to him. No one was tempted by the look of the flour to stop and taste it, for in
truth it looked much like wet sawdust.
Cassava bread is highly esteemed in many parts of the New World, and I
have even heard that some Europeans there prefer it to the wheaten bread of
their own country. There are various species of manioc. One sort grows
quickly, and its roots ripen in a very short time. Another kind is of some-
what slower growth. The roots of the third kind do not come to maturity for two
years.' The two first are poisonous if eaten raw, yet they are preferred to the
third, which is harmless, because they are so much more fruitful, and the flour
produced is excellent if the scrapings are carefully pressed."
"What is the good of pressing them, father ? inquired Ernest.
It is in order to express the sap, which contains the poison. The dry pith
is wholesome and nourishing. Still, I do not mean to taste my cakes, until I
have tried their effect on our fowls and the ape."
By this time our supply of roots being reduced to damp powder, the canvas
bag was filled with it, and tying it tightly up, I attempted to squeeze it, but
soon found that mechanical aid was necessary in order to express the moisture.
My arrangements for this purpose were as follows. A strong straight beam was
Expressing the Mamnoc Sap, 57
Made flat on one side, smooth planks were laid across two of the lower roots of
our tree; on these we placed the sack, above the sack another plank, and over
that the long beam; one end was passed under a root near the sack, the other
projected far forward. And to that we attached all the heaviest weights we
could think of, such as an anvil, iron bars, and masses of lead. The consequent
pressure on the bag was enormous, and the sap flowed from it to the ground.
Will this stuff keep any time ?" inquired my wife, who came to see how we
were getting on. Or must all this great bagful be used at once ? In that case
we shall have to spend the whole of to-morrow in baking cakes."
Not at all," I replied once dry, the flour in barrels will keep fresh a long
time. We shall use a great deal of this, however, as you shall see."
"Do you think we might begin now, father ?" said Fritz. "There does not
seem the least moisture remaining."
"Certainly," said I. "But I shall only make one cake to-day for an
experiment; We must see how it agrees with Master Knips and the hens before
we set up a bakehouse in regular ntyle."
I took out a couple of handfuls of flour for this purpose, and with a stick
loosened and stirred the remainder, which I intended should again be pressed.
While an iron plate placed over a good fire was getting hot, I mixed the meal
with water and a little salt, kneaded it well, and forming a thickish cake, laid
it on the hot plate-, when one side presently becoming a nice yellow brown
colour, it was turned and was quickly baked.
It smelt so delicious, that the boys quite envied the two hens and the monkey,
who were selected as the subjects of this interesting experiment, and they
silently watched them gobbling up the bits of cake I gave them, until Fritz
turned to me, saying, Suppose the cake is poisonous, what effect will it have on
the creatures? Will they be stupefied, or will they suffer pain "
"That depends upon the nature of the poison. Some cause violent pain, as
colchicum, hellebore, and aconite. Others produce stupefaction and paralysis, as
opium, hemlock, and prussic acid; while others again, as strychnine, are fol-
lowed by violent convulsions, or, as belladonna, by delirium. The effects
of course vary according to the quantity taken, and such remedies should
be applied as will best counteract the effect of each poison: emetics in any case
to remove as much as possible of the noxious substance, combined with oils and
mucilaginous drinks to soothe and protect the stomach in the case of irritants;
stimulants, such as spirits, ammonia, or strong coffee to rouse from the stupor of
the narcotics; and sedative drugs, which are perhaps in themselves poisons, to
counteract the over stimulation of the nerves caused by the convulsant poisons.
But now let us think no more of poisons; here is supper ready, and we need not
be afraid to eat roast penguin and potatoes."
No sooner said than done; we left the fowls picking up the least crumb they
could find of the questionable food, and assembled to enjoy our evening meal.
The potatoes were as usual excellent, the penguin really not so bad as I expected,
although fishy in taste and very tough.
Next morning every one expressed the tenderest concern as to the health of
inips and the hens; and lively pleasure was in every countenance when Jack,
who ran first to make the visit of inquiry, brought news of their perfect good
health and spirits.
No time was now to be lost, and bread-baking commenced in earnest. A large
fire was kindled, the plates heated, the meal made into cakes, each of the boys
busily preparing his own, and watching the baking most eagerly. Mistakes
occurred, of course; some of the bread was burnt, some not done enough; but a
pile of nice tempting cakes was at length ready, and with plenty of good milk
we breakfasted right royally, and in high spirits at our success.
Soon after, whilst feeding the poultry with the fragments of the repast,
I observed that the captive penguins were. quite at ease among them and as
tame as the geese and ducks; their bonds were therefore loosed, and they were
left as free as the other fowls.
The Swiss Family Robinson.
Now for the pinnace-Repeated visits to the wreck-The pinnace built-How shall we
cut her out ?-The difficulty solved-We fit her out-Fire a salute -The mother's
surprise-We visit Falconhurst-Attend to our fruit trees-Athletics-The lasso-
An excursion-A Bustard captured-Ernest discovers a magician-Jack fights him
-The Liane Rouge-We turn carvers-Ernest's alarm-The old sow again-We dis-
cover a sleeping beauty-Return with it to the camp-Knips pronounces our apples
"good"-Return to Falconhurst.
HAVING now discovered how to provide bread for my family, my thoughts
began to revert to the wreck and all the valuables yet contained within it.
Above all, I was bent on acquiring possession of the beautiful pinnance, and
aware that our united efforts would be required to do the necessary work, I
began to coax and persuade the mother to let me go in force with all her
boys except Franz.
She very unwillingly gave her consent at last, but not until I had faithfully
promised never to pass a night on board. I did so with reluctance, and we
parted, neither feeling quite satisfied with the arrangement.
The boys were delighted to go in so large a party, and merrily carried
provision-bags filled with cassava bread and potatoes.
Reaching Safety Bay without adventure, we first paid a visit to the geese and
ducks which inhabited the marsh there, and havingfed them and seen they were
thriving well, we buckled on each his cork-belt, stepped into the tub-boat, and,
with the raft in tow, steered straight for the wreck.
When we got on board, I desired the boys to collect whatever came first to
hand, and load the raft to be ready for our return at night, and then we made a
minute inspection of the pinnace.
I came to the conclusion that difficulties, well-nigh insuperable, lay between
me and the safe possession of the beautiful little vessel. She lay in a most un-
get-at-able position at the further end of the hold, stowed in so confined and
narrow a space, that it was impossible to think of fitting the parts together
there. At the same time these parts were so heavy, that removing them to a
convenient place piece by piece was equally out of the question.
I sent the boys away to amuse themselves by rummaging out anything they
liked to carry away, and sat down quietly to consider the matter.
As my eyes became used to the dim light which entered the compartment
through a chink or crevice here and there, I perceived how carefully every part
of the pinnace was arranged and marked with numbers, so that if only I could
bestow sufficient time on the work, and contrive space in which to execute it, I
might reasonably hope for success.
Room room to work in, boys that's what we need in the first place I
cried, as my sons came to see what plan I had devised, for so great was their
reliance on me, that they never doubted the pinnace was to be ours.
Fetch axes, and let us break down the compartment and clear space
To work we all went, yet evening drew near, and but little impression
was made on the mass of woodwork around us. We had to acknowledge that an
immense amount of labour and perseverance would be required before we could
call ourselves the owners of the useful and elegant little craft, which lay within
this vast hulk like a fossil shell embedded in a rock.
Preparations for returning to shore were hastily made, and we landed
without much relish for the long walk to Falconhurst, when, to our great
surprise and pleasure, we found the mother and little Franz at Tentholm
awaiting us. She had resolved to take up her quarters there during the time
we should be engaged on the wreck. In that way you will live nearer your
work, and I shall not quite lose sight of you I" said she, with a pleasant smile.
Mly Exyeriment. 59
"You are a good, sensible, kind wife," I exclaimed, delighted with her plan,
" and we shall work with the greater diligence, that you may return as soon as
possible to your dear Falconhurst."
"Come and see what we have brought you, mother! cried Fritz; a good
addition to your stores, is it not ? and he and his brothers exhibited two small
casks of butter, three of flour, corn, rice, and many other articles welcome to our
Our days were now spent in hard work on board, first cutting and clearing
an open space round the pinnace, and then putting the parts together. We
started early and returned at night, bringing each time a valuable freight from
the old vessel.
At length, with incredible labour, all was completed. The pinnace stood
actually ready to be launched, but imprisoned within massive wooden walls
which defied our strength.
It seemed exactly as though the graceful vessel had awakened from sleep, and
was longing to spring into the free blue sea, and spread her wings to the breeze.
I could not bear to think that our success so far should be followed by failure
and disappointment. Yet no possible means of setting her free could I conceive,
and I was almost in despair, when an idea occurred to me, which, if I could
carry it out, would effect her release without further labour or delay.
Without explaining my purpose, I got a large cast-iron mortar, filled it with
gunpowder, secured a block of oak to the top, through which I pierced a hole
for the insertion of the match, and this great petard I so placed, that when it
exploded, it should blow out the side of the vessel next which the finance lay.
Then securing it with chains, that the recoil might do no damage, I told the
boys I was going ashore earlier than usual, and calmly desired them to get into
the boat. Then lighting a match I had prepared, and which would burn some
time before reaching the powder, I hastened after them with a beating heart,
and we made for the land.
We brought the raft close in shore and began to unload it; the other boat I
did not haul up, but kept her ready to put off at a moment's notice; my anxiety
was unobserved by anyone, as I listened with strained nerves for the expected
sound. It came !- a flash a mighty roar-a grand burst of smoke !
My wife and children, terror-stricken, turned their eyes towards the sea,
whence the startling noise came, and then in fear and wonder, looked to me for
some explanation. Perhaps," said the mother, as I did not speak, "perhaps
you have left a light burning near some of the gunpowder, and an explosion
has taken place."
Not at all unlikely," replied I, quietly; we had a fire below when we were
caulking the seams of the pinnace. I shall go off at once and see what has
happened. Will any one come?"
The boys needed no second invitation, but sprang into the boat, while I
lingered to re-assure my wife by whispering a few words of explanation,
and then joining them, we pulled for the wreck at a more rapid rate than we
ever had done before.
No alteration had taken place in the side at which we usually boarded her,
and we pulled round to the further side, where a marvellous sight awaited us.
A huge rent appeared, the decks and bulwarks were torn open, the water was
covered with floating wreckage-all seemed in ruins ; and the compartment
where the pinnace rested was fully revealed to view. There sat the little beauty,
to all appearance uninjured; and the boys, whose attention was taken up with
the melancholy scene of ruin and confusion around them, were astonished to
hear me shout in enthusiastic delight: "Hurrah! she is ours! The lovely
pinnace is won! we shall be able to launch her easily after all. Come, boys, let
us see if she has suffered from the explosion, which has set her free."
The boys gazed at me for a moment, and then guessing my secret, "You
planned it yourself, you clever, cunning father Oh, that machine we helped
to make, was on purpose to blow it up! cried they; and eagerly they followed
me into the shattered opening, where, to my intense satisfaction, I found every-
60 The Swiss Family Robinson.
thing as I could wish, and the captive in no way a sufferer from the violent
measures I had adopted for her deliverance.
The boys were deeply interested in examining the effects of the explosion, and
in the explanation I gave them, of the principle, and proper way to manage a
It was evident that the launch could now be effected without much trouble ; I
had been careful to place rollers beneath the keel, so that by means of levers
and pulleys we might, with our united strength, move her forward towards the
water. A rope was attached by which to regulate the speed of the descent, and
then, all hands putting their shoulders to the work, the pinnace began to slide
from the stocks, and finally slipped gently and steadily into the water, where
she floated as if consciousitwas her native element; while we, wild with excite-
ment, cheered and waved enthusiastically. We then only remained long enough
to secure our prize carefully at the most sheltered point, and went back to
Tentholm, where we accounted for the explosion; saying that having blown
away one side of the ship, we should be able to obtain the rest of its contents
with a very few more days' work.
These days were devoted to completing the rigging, the mounting of her two
little brass guns, and all necessary arrangements about the pinnace. It was
wonderful what martial ardour was awakened by the possession of a vessel
armed with two real guns. The boys chattered incessantly about savages, fleets
of canoes, attack, defence, and final annihilation of the invaders.
I assured them that, brilliant as their victories would doubtless be, we should
have good cause to thank God if their fighting powers and new-born valour were
never put to the test.
The pinnace was fully equipped and ready to sail, while yet no idea of the
surprise we were preparing for her had dawned upon my wife, and I permitted
the boys, who had kept the secret so well, to fire a salute when we entered the
Casting off from the ship, and spreading the sail, our voyage began. The
pinnace glided swiftly through the water, I stood at the helm, Ernest and Jack
manned the ,n-. ai.l Fritz gave the word of command, "Fire!" Bang! bang!
rattled out ihIllI.i.g report, which echoed and re-echoed among the cliffs,
followed by our shouts and hurrahs.
The mother and her little boy rushed hastily forward from near the tent, and
we could plainly see their alarm and astonishment; but speedily recognizing us,
they waved joyfully, and came quickly to the landing-place to meet us.
By skilful management we brought the pinnace near a projection of the bank,
and Fritz assisted his mother to come on board, where, breathless with haste and
excitement, she exclaimed, "You dear, horrid, wonderful people, shall I scold
you or praise you ? You have frightened me out of my wits! To see a beautiful
little ship come sailing in was startling enough, for I could not conceive who
might be on board, but the report of your guns made me tremble with fear-and
had I not recognized your voices directly after, I should have run away with
ranz-Heaven knows where But have you really done all this work your-
selves ?" she continued, when we had been forgiven for terrifying her with our
vain-glorious salute. What a charring little yacht! I should not be afraid
to sail in this myself."
After the pinnace had been shown off, and received the admiration she
deserved, while our industry, skill, and perseverance met with boundless praise,
"Now," said my wife, you must come with me, and see how little Franz and
I have improved our time every day of your absence."
We all landed, and with great curiosity followed the mother up the river to-
wards the cascade; where, to our astonishment, we found a garden neatly laid
out in beds and walks; and she continued, We don't frighten people by firing
salutes in honour of our performances; although, by-and-by, I too shall want fire
in a peaceable form. Look at my beds of lettuce and cabbages, my rows of
beans and peas! Think what delicious dinners I shall be able to cook for you,
and give me credit for iny diligence,"
Ve return to Faiconh/Mrt. 61
My dear wife! I exclaimed, "this is beautiful! You have done wonders!
Did you not find the work too hard ?"
"The ground is light and easy to dig hereabouts," she replied. "I have
planted potatoes, and cassava roots, there is space for sugar-canes, and the young
fruit trees, and I shall want you to contrive to irrigate them, by leading water
from the cascades in hollow bamboos. Up by the sheltering rocks I mean to
have pine-apples and melons, they will look splendid when they spread there.
To shelter the beds of European vegetables from the heat of the sun, I have
planted seeds of maize round them. The shadow of the tall plants
will afford protection from the burning rays. Do you think that is a good
"I do indeed; the whole arrangement is capital. Now, as sunset approaches,
we must return to the tent for supper and rest, for both of-which we are all
The time passed in happy talk over our many new interests; every one had
the pleasant sensation which attends successful labour, as well as experiencing
the joy of affording unexpected pleasure to others; and I especially pointed out
to my sons, how truly genuine happiness consists in that, rather than in mere
Next morning, my wife said: "If you can exist on shore long enough to
visit Falconhurst, dear husband, I should like you to attend to the little fruit
trees. I fear they have been too much neglected. I have watered them occa-
sionally, and spread earth over the roots as they lay, but I could not manage to
"You have done far more than I could have expected, my wife," 1 replied,
"and provided you do not ask me to give up the sea altogether, I most willingly
agree to your request, and will go to Falconhurst as soon as the raft is unloaded,
and everything safely arranged here."
Life on shore was an agreeable change for us all, and the boys went actively
to work, so that the stores were quickly brought up to the tent, piled in order,
and carefully covered with sailcloths, fastened down by pegs all round. The
pinnace being provided with an anchor, was properly moored, and her elegant
appearance quite altered the look of our harbour, hitherto occupied only by the
grotesque tub-boat, and flat uninteresting raft.
Taking an ample supply of everything we should require at Falconhurst, we
were soon comfortably re-established in that charming abode, its peaceful shade
seeming more delightful than ever, after the beat and hard work we had lately
Several Sundays had passed during our stay at Tentholm, and the welcome
Day of Rest now returned again, to be observed with heartfelt devotion and
I did not attempt too much in the form of preaching, as I could not have
secured the attention of my hearers to any long-winded discourse, but they were
interested in the Bible-reading and simple instructions I drew from it, and
their young voices joined sweetly in favourite hymns, which my wife sang from
In the evening, I desired my boys to let me see their dexterity in athletic
exercises, such as running, leaping, wrestling, and climbing; telling them that
they must keep up the practice of these things, so as to grow strong active men,
powerful to repel and cope with danger, as well as agile and swift-footed to
escape from it. No man can be really courageous and self-reliant without an
inward consciousness of physical power and capability.
I want to see my sons strong, both morally and physically," said I; "that
means, little Franz," (as the large blue eyes looked inquiringly up at me;]
brave to do what is good and right, and to hate evil, and strong to work, hunt,
and provide for themselves and others, and to fight if necessary."
On the following day, the boys seeming disposed to carry out my wishes by
muscular exercise of all sorts, I encouraged them by saying, I meant to prepare
a-curious new weapon for them, only they must promise not to neglect the
62 The Swiss Family Robiwson.
practice of archery: as to their guns, I had no reason to fear they would be
Taking a long cord, I attached a leaden bullet to each end, and had instantly
to answer a storm of questions as to what this could possibly be for.
This is a miniature lasso," said I; the Mexicans, Patagonians, and various
tribes of South America, make use of this weapon in hunting, with marvellous
dexterity, only, having no bullets, they fasten stones to their ropes, which are
immensely longer than this. One end is swung round and round the mounted
hunter's head, and then cast with skill and precision towards the animal he
wishes to strike; immediately drawing it back, he can repeat the blow, and
either kill or wound his prey. Frequently, however, the intention is to take
the animal, wild horse, or buffalo, or whatever it may be, alive; and in that
case, the lasso is thrown, while riding in hot pursuit, in such a way as to make
the stone twist many times round the neck, body, or legs of the fugitive, arrest-
ing him even in full career."
Oh, father, what a splendid contrivance! Will you try it now ? There is
the donkey, father! do catch the donkey."
Not at all certain of my powers, I declined to practise upon a live subject, but
consented to make a trial of skill by aiming at the stump of a tree at no great
My success surpassed my own expectations; the stump was entwined by the
cord in such a way as to leave no doubt whatever as to the feasibility of the
wonderful performances I described; and I was assailed by petitions from the
boys, each anxious to possess a lasso of his own, without a moment's delay.
As -the manufacture was simple, their wishes were speedily gratified, and
lasso-practice became the order of the day.
Fritz, who was the most active and adroit, besides having, of course, the
greatest muscular strength, soon became skilled in the art.
That night a change came over the weather, and early next morning I per-
ceived that a gale of wind was getting up. From the height of our trees I
could see that the surface of the sea was in violent agitation.
It was with no small satisfaction that I thought of our hard-won pinnace,
safely moored in the harbour, and recollected that there was nothing to call us
to the wreck for the next few days.
My attention was by no means monopolised by my sons and their amusements.
The good mother had much to show me demanding my approval, advice, or
assistance, as the case might be.
A good supply of wild pigeons and ortolans had been snared, partly cooked,
and preserved in lard. Of these she showed me her small cask well filled.
Then the nests of various pairs of tame pigeons were exhibited, but her chief
care was the unpromising condition of her dear little fruit trees, for, having
been forgotten, they were so dry and withered, that unless planted without
further delay, she feared we should lose them.
This needful work we set about, therefore, at once, proposing afterwards an
excursion to the Calabash Wood, 'n order to manufacture a large supply of
vessels and utensils of all sorts and sizes.
Every one was inclined for this expedition ; consequently the planting of the
orchard was carried on with surprising vigour, but was not completed until
towards evening; and then all sorts of arrangements were made for an early
start next day. The mother and Franz were to be of the party, and their
equipment took some time, for we meant to make a grand family excursion
attended by our domestic pets and servants!
By sunrise we were all astir, and everything quickly made ready for a
The sledge loaded with ammunition and baskets of provisions, and drawn by
the donkey, was to be used for carrying home our gourd manufactures, as well
as any other prize we might fall in with.
Turk, as usual, headed the procession, clad in his coat of mail.
Then came the boys with their guns and game-bags. Their mother and I
We capture a Bustard. 63
followed, and behind trotted Juno, not in very good spirits, poor dog! because
Master Knips, who had no idea of being left alone, must needs ride on her
On this occasion I took two guns with me, one loaded with shot for game,
another with ball for our defence against beasts of prey.
Flamingo Marsh was quickly crossed, and the magnificent country beyond lay
extended in all its beauty and fertility before our eyes. It was new to my wife
and two of the boys, and the lovely prospect enchanted them.
Here Fritz and Jack turned aside into the bush, where presently loud barking
was followed by the quick report of a gun, and a large bird, which had risen
from the thicket, fell heavily to the ground before us. Far from resigning itself,
however, to death or captivity, it sprang to its feet, and, unable to fly, rushed
away with extraordinary speed, hotly pursued by the excited dog, while Fritz
ran panting in the same direction, and Juno, eager to join the chase, sprang aside
so suddenly, that her rider was flung unceremoniously on the sand, as she darted
to intercept the retreat of the active bird. This she cleverly accomplished, but
its defence was maintained so fiercely, as it struck out with its powerful legs
and sharp claws, that neither Fritz nor the dogs could master it.
I hastened to their assistance, and found Juno holding on nobly by the wing
she had seized, while the bird, which proved to be a magnificent bustard.
struggled and fought fiercely. Watching my opportunity, I threw a large
handkerchief over it, and with difficulty succeeded in binding its legs and wings.
It was borne in triumph to the rest of our party, who meantime had been
reclining on the sand.
What have you got ? What has Fritz shot?" cried the boys, starting
up at our approach. "A bustard oh, that is splendid "
To be sure, it is the one we missed thf i .1.'-, don't you remember, mother ?
Ah, ha! old fellow, you are done for this -n.! said Jack.
"I think this is a'hen bustard, it is the mother bird," said Ernest.
"Ah, yes, poor thing! exclaimed my wife, in a tone of concern; it is most
likely the same, and I know she had a brood of young birds, and now they will
be left unprotected and miserable. Had we not better let her go ?"
Why, my dear, kind-hearted wife, that was weeks and weeks ago Those
little birds are all strong and big by this time, and I daresay Mrs. Bustard here
has forgotten all about them. Besides, she is .11, -- ......, .nd we must try
to cure the hurt. If we succeed, she will be a I !,. I. ltii...u. to our poultry-
yard; if we cannot, you shall roast her for dinner."
Resuming our march, we next arrived at the Monkey Grove, which was the
scene of the tragi-comic adventure by which Fritz became the guardian of the
While he amused us all by a lively and graphic description of the scene,
Ernest was standing apart under a splendid cocoa-nut palm, gazing in fixed
admiration at the grand height of the stem, and its beautiful graceful crown of
leaves. The cluster of nuts beneath these evidently added 'interest to the
spectacle, for, drawing quietly near him, I heard a long-drawn sigh, and the
It's awfully high! I wish one would fall down!"
Scarcely had he uttered these words, than, as if by magic, down plumped a
huge nut at his feet.
The boy was quite startled, and sprang aside, looking timidly upwards, when,
to my surprise, down came another.
Why, this is just like the fairy tale of the wishing-cap cried Ernest. My
wish is granted as soon as formed! "
I suspect the fairy in this instance is more anxious to pelt us and drive us
away, than to bestow dainty gifts upon us," said I. "I think there is most
likely a cross-grained old ape sitting up among those shadowy leaves and.
We examined the nuts, thinking they were perhaps old ones, and had fallen, in
consequence, naturally, but they were not even quite ripe.
64 The Swiss Family Robinson.
Antious to discover what was in the tree, we all surrounded it, gaping and
gazing upwards with curious eyes.
Hullo I see him shouted Fritz presently. Oh, a hideous creature !
what can it be? flat, round, as big as a plate, and with a pair of horiid claws!
Hprp hP comes! He is going to creep down the tree !"
A I t little Franz slipped behind his mother, Ernest took a glance round to
mark a place of retreat, Jack raised the butt-cs.] ...f 1 uh, I. .1 every eye was
fixed on the trunk of the tree, down which I ii. I i 1 ..i-.. commenced a
leisurely descent. As it approached within i.-,.. ,. I, ar r t boldly, when
i;r i.,.l'.i.! i..[..i., ris. r. gainingg distance, and opening its great claws, sidled
:..r. r ,!in ,-,r!: ..i i. 1,ol. rapidity, upon which he fairly turned tail and ran.
We all burst into a roar of laughter, which soon made him face about, and then,
to our infinite amusement, the little fellow prepared for a fresh onset; laying
down all h .. 1. ;. pulling off' his jacket and spreading it wide out in both
hands, he :-r -.,.i- t.. ir.: charge, suddenly threw his garment over the creature,
wrapped it well round it, and then pummelled it with all the strength of his
For a few minutes I could do nothing but laugh, but then running to him
with my hatchet, I struck several sharp blows on his bundle, which we opened
carefully, and found within the land-crab perfectly dead.
Well, this is an.ugly rascal! cried Jack; "if he hadn't been so hideous, I
should not have dealt so severely with him. I wasn't a bit afraid. What is the
creature's name ? "
"This is a crab, a land-crab," said I, of which there are many varieties, and
this; I thI.t I .' i .i ... t '.-it'rab, or at least it deserves the name, for it is
evidently i-, i .u.1 ..! i u. t, .-. nuts, since it takes the trouble to climb the
trees for -1.. r, ,I 1...I .. .i r ..r' getting at the kernel, too, is considerable. .You
showed no little presence of mind, Jack, when "..u rir...u.i .t ..1 Ii it 1. your
jacket; in fact it might havebeen more than a ,t. t .. ....r .. .,, I..i some
are most dcif..: r .1 i; _h i d are very swift too. Now let us take it, as well
as'thenu r. ri .!.:.... o,.I :o -on our way."
P rogre L.. n .: .r i Ii t.. ,r .. .. 1 ,- ; r, ,,.,
the wood, by having to cut a ., r,'. Iu i. i, ...., ....j.,i,' I, r. ..r: i. .
interlaced them Ernest was I.. !.1 I. ,Iu -.-.-,,.i-. ..rr!..I .1 ,. Ir r.. -.. I ,,
proved to be an important i-. .. i..,: ..i..n h ..'. Il stalks of one of these
creepers flowed clear cold water, and I recognized the linee rouge," which is
known in America, and is so precious to the thirsty hunter or traveller. This is
truly one of God's good gifts to man!
The boys were much delighted with this curious plant. Only fancy, mother,"
said Ernest, as he showed it to her, "how cheering and refreshing to find this
if one were lost and alone in a vast forest, wandering for days and days with-
out being nea: .i..... ..,:: of water."
"But are yd...., r ,r i fe to drink this?" asked she.
I assured her'it was so, and advised the boys to cut enough to quench the
thirst of the 1...1. -., i including our animals. This they did, only finding it
necessary, as ,I i ri g.ar canes, to cut air holes above the joints.
After struggling onward for a short time, we emerged from the thickets into
open ground, and saw the calabash trees in the distance. As we drew near, their
curious appeiarnce r nd 'in- ni, frit caused much surprise and also amusement,
for we were -...: .hily ,.l .. ,- II .1... the trees, where, as I chose and cut down
the gourds most likely to be useful, every one engaged merrily in the work of
atir .,,... A. sawing, and scooping some manner of dish, bowl, cup, jar, or
pi I 1, r., .. .. .Ii;." to his several taste or ability.
-.- .... 1r, ,li..- here, and after a time Fritz and Jack began to prepare afire-
place, their great ambition being to heat the stones red hot, and cook the crab in
a hollow gourd. 'Their mother, therefore, left them to their own devices, and
attended t.- th. 1i- i i;.,, il., unharnessing the ass to graze, and giving cocoa-
nit.milk'- i.. I. ml' i,,..,l:ey, who had been obliged to travel in a covered
basket for some time, lest he should be lost in the woods. The wounded bustard
A Sudden Alardl 65
had been completely forgotten, and from heat and thirst was suffering greatly
until her friendly care revived it, and it-was tied toa tree and allowed to move
about, its fierce spirit greatly tamed by adversity.
The cooking operations came to a stand soon after the fire was lighted, for it
appeared that we had no more water in the jars 1 1 ....1.,1, so the boys
proposed to go in search of a spring. I agreed to '"''"': i. .. ; Ernest also
wished to join us, and
as our intention was to
examine merely the i -
surrounding wood, I '
saw no objection to i;
leaving their mother
anid Franz for a short w
Very soon after our .
exploration began, I
Ernest, who wae in
front, turned with a
face of terror, shout-
ing, "A wild boar! an
immense wild boar,
father Do come
quick!" And sure
enough I heard a loud
snorting and tis l.t
as sore l .- ...... ,, "'
passed oI! l h.,,
the thick underwood
beyond us. After
him, lads, after him!"
cried I, hurrying for-
wards. "Callthedogs! .
stand ready to fire!" ,
And we pressed through
the bushes to the spot
where Ernest had seen
the creature. The
ground was grubbed -
up, and some potatoes
lay about, showing -'':-'
that we had disturbed
him at his mid-day
meal. Ernest and Jack f -
were more disposed to -,2*-:
gather the roots than,
to follow up the chase.
Fritz and I alone went A WILD BOARn A WILD BOAR !"
after the dogs, who
eagerly pushed on, and by the sounds we heard had evidently attacked the
boar at no great distance. Terrific barking, snarling, and grunting, guided us
to the scene of action, and we beheld our mastiffs one on each side of a large
respectable-looking pig, holding on by the great ears, while the animal on
seeing us, appeared rather to beseech our interference than to propose to offer a
In a moment the truth became apparent! The captive grunter was no fierce
native of the forest, but our own run-away sow! Our excitement had been wound
to so a high a pitch, that the discovery was quite a shock, and we felt half
:angry with the creature who had disappointed us; then the absurdity of the
whole thing made us laugh heartily, and calling off the dogs, the old lady was
66 The Swiss Family Robinson.
released from her ignominious position. Our laughter resounding through the
wood, brought Ernest and Jack from their potatoes, to see what was going on.
Much use you two would have been suppose we had required help," cried
Fritz, as they recognized their old friend. .
Ah, well, you see," returned Jack, Ernest and I had a sort of a kind of
presentiment that this was going to be the old sow. And just look at our fine
A good deal of joking on the subject ensued, but was interrupted by Ernest,
who drew our attention to fruit resembling apples on the surrounding bushes,
and on the grass beneath them.
The sow was making amends for the fright and pain she had endured by
munching and crunching this fruit at a great rate. Fritz feared that it might
be the poisonous manchineel, against which I once warned them, but on
examining it, I was induced to pronounce a more favourable opinion, and we
collected a quantity in hopes that, if the monkey approved of it as well as the
old sow, we might be able to enjoy a feast ourselves.
All this time not a drop of water had we seen, and our own thirst increasing,
we felt eager to procure some before returning to our resting-place.
Jack preceded us, and we made our way towards a high rock, which rose
above the thickets, when he suddenly startled us by a loud cry of "A crocodile!
father! father! A crocodile!"
Nonsense, boy A crocodile of all things, in this dry, parched forest, where
we can't get so much as a mouthful of water! "
On advancing where Jack stood, I perceived that his mistake was not so very
silly after all, for I beheld an iguana, one of the largest of the lizard species, and
a truly formidable-looking fellow. I was glad to assure Jack that the strange
creature he had found was perfectly harmless, and that its flesh being esteemed
a delicacy, it would be a valuable prize to carry back with us.
In another moment Fritz would have fired, but arresting his hand,-"Your
shot," I said, "would probably only wound the animal, and being extremely
tenacious of life, it would certainly escape us; we must gain possession of the
sleeping beauty by a gentler method."
"You are not going to kiss it, are you, father ? asked Jack, with a grin.
I tried to rebuke him for his impertinence, but, failing, I commenced opera-
tions. I first attached a cord and running-noose to a stout stick, and holding a
light switch in my other hand, I began to approach the creature with soft, slow
steps, while the boys looked on with the utmost curiosity.
Presently I began very softly to whistle a sweet, yet very lively air, which I
continued more and more distinctly as I drew near the lizard; until, awaking,
it seemed to listen with pleasure-raising its head as though better to catch the
sounds, or to discover whence they came.
When near enough, I began gently to stroke and tickle him with the wand,
continuing to whistle the prettiest tunes I could think of; and the lizard gave
signs of pleasurable contentment, stretching his limbs and moving his tail in
token of enjoyment.
Suddenly, availing myself of a movement of his head, I cast the noose over
it, drew the cord tight, and placing my foot on the body, I was about to kill it
by piercing the nostril-almost the only vulnerable part in this :....il .. ...~ .i
-when Jack received such a slap from its tail, which it was furiously driving in
all directions, as sent him rolling over like a nine-pin. At the same time lhe
opened his jaws, when the boys took fright at the row of sharp teeth, and think-
ing that the sooner he was dead the better, were for battering him with sticks;
but I assuring them my method would ki!l him more quickly and without pain,
thrust my rod into his nostril, on which the blood flowed and the lizard soon
The boys seemed to think me as wonderful a person as a snake-charmer, and
the success of my stratagem, as well as of the means by which the lizard was
slain, called forth great admiration, since they never had heard of the animal,
nor of the method of capturing it so commonly practised in the West Indies.
Now came the question of how we were to carry this unwieldly burden. I
had a great dislike to killing any creature and leaving it useless behind me ; so,
without more ado, I fairly took it on my back, and marched off with it.
As we came towards the Calabash Wood, we'could hear the voices of the
deserted mother and child calling us in anxious tones; for indeed our protracted
absence alarmed them. We shouted joyously in reply, and our appearance, as
we issued from the woods, afforded them welcome relief from their fears, although
the dreadful creature on my back startled them not a little.
There was so much to tell, so much to be seen, that for a time hunger and
thirst were forgotten; and no one thought even of the water we had vainly gone
in search of, until Master Knips, having slyly possessed himself of some of our
new-found apples, was discovered munching away and enjoying them amazingly
-which instantly gave the boys a strong wish to eat some also; and as the
bustard likewise pecked at them without hesitation, I felt sure there could be no
danger; and on tasting them, I concluded it was the fruit of the Guava, a West
Indian plant, which we were delighted to have.
Although refreshing, this fruit rather sharpened than appeased our appetites,
and we were glad to eat the provisions we had brought from home, without
waiting to cook anything, as we had originally intended.
It was, in fact, high time to move homewards, and we thought it best not to
encumber ourselves with the sledge and the greater part of its load, but to leave
it until the next day. The ass was laden with the iguana and the bustard; and
little Franz, tired as he was, looked in vain for a spare seat on its back.
Our road home lay through a majestic forest of oak trees, beneath which lay
numberless acorns, some of which we ..1 we went along; and at length,
before night closed in, we all reached I i..... !... '. in safety.
When supper was ready, we were thankful to recruit our exhausted strength
by eating heartily of a piece of broiled iguana, with potatoes and roast acorns,
which tasted like excellent chestnuts.
Fritz and I return to the Calabash wood-Fritz shoots a Ruffed Grouse-We come
across Wax-berry bushes-Sociable Grosbeaks-Fritz captures a Parrot-A lecture
on Ants-Caoutchouc trees-The Sago-palm, and the edible worms-Return with
sugar-canes to Falconihurst-Candle-smaking-IIow to make butter without a churn
-Plant trees and adorn Tentholmo-Last visit to the wreck-The first ducklings on
the island-Falconhurst again-An excursion-We pitch our tent-Fritz and Jack
ascend the cocoa-nut trees-Ernest brings us 1.- ,----.-- -f Grizzle-Jack and
I go in pursuit-Giantbamboos-Encounter ., .I I -.... Buffalo calf-Find
a Jackal's lair-Reach our camp-Whwat l"y-r'-n in our absence-Fritz's pet-
Sago manufacture-Meet with our sow ... I t.. "'I,' again-How Ernest tamed
THE first thing to be done on the following day was to return to the Calabash
Wood, to fetch the sledge with the dishes, bowls, and baskets we had made.
Fritz alone accompanied me. I desired the other boys to remain with their
mother, intending to explore beyond the chain of rocky hills, and thinking a
large party undesirable on the occasion.
Passing through the wood of evergreen oaks, we observed our sow feasting on
the acorns, evidently not a whit the worse for the fright we had given her the
previous day-in fact, she appeared more friendly disposed towards us than
usual, possibly considering us as her deliverers from the jaws of the savage
Many birds tenanted this grove, and were undisturbed by our movements,
68 The Swiss -Family Robinson.
until Fritz fired and shot a beautiful blue jay, and a couple of paroquets, one a
brilliant scarlet, the other green and gold.
Fritz was in the act of re-loading his gun, when an unaccountable noise struck
our ears, and put us instantly on the alert, because it appeared like the dull
thumping sound of a muffled drum, and reminded us of the possible presence of
With the greatest caution we drew nearer the sound, concealing ourselves
among the low bushes and thick grass and creepers, until we reached an open
glade; where, standing on an old prostrate log, was a beautiful bird, about the
size of a cock, of a rich chestnut brown colour, finely mottled with dark brown
and grey. On the shoulders were curious tufts of velvety black feathers, glossed
with green. He was ruffling his wings, erecting his tail and neck feathers,
strutting and wheeling about in a most strange ,.1 i ,.1, r 1,;..- After ma-
nnuvering for some time in this manner, great4 r.. ri. ...Ir,. t.r... ..t'a party of
birds resembling him but without any ruff, who, assembled round the stump,
were enjoying his performances,' he spread out his tail like a fan, stiffened his
wings, and began to strike with them in short, rapid beats, faster and faster,
until a rumbling sound like very distant thunder was produced, and the
whliirinle wings enveloped him as in a cloud. This was the drumming noise
- 1I..i ..i alarmed us, increased, as I imagine, by the wing strokes falling at
times on the decayed and hollow stump on which the curious pantomime was
I was watching it with the utmost interest, when a shot from behind me was
fired, and in a moment the play was at an end; my over-hibty agnm hdl changed
the pretty comedy into a sad and needl"- tr. ."dr The .!.i..i ..- i. drummer
fell dead from his perch, and the ..-. I i admiringg companions fled in
The cruel interruption of a scene so rare and remarkable annoyed me ex-
tremely, and I blamed Fritz for firin. without t my leave. I felt sure the bird
was the ruffed grouse, and a -. ,.... specimen. We placed it on the ass,
which was patiently ,r .... return, and went on our way.
The sledge was qui. t I ... we had left it; it was early in the day, and
I resolved to explore, as I had intended, the line of cliff and rocky hills, which,
at more or less distance from the sea-shore, extended the whole length of coast
known or visible to us.
I desired to discover an opening, if any existed, by which to penetrate the
interior of the country, or to ascertain positively that we were walled in and
isolated on this portion of the coast.
Leaving Calabash Wood behind us, we advanced over ground covered with
manioc, potatoes, and many plants unknown to us; pleasant streamlets watered
the fruitful soil, and the view on all sides was open and agreeable.
I: 1l,,.i. : ir .1 ,n,- notice, loaded with small white berries, of peculiar
i... 1 i ...- i:. -:,. -.ir very sticky when plucked. I i.-. -...;- in this a
i .I. ll.:.I I., L...t aU.., .ryrica cerifera, and with much pI.. ..u'. plainedd to
I, l : ti_, i. _r.ir.- I straining these berries, we might easily succeed in
making candles, and afford very great satisfaction to the mother, who did not at
all approve of having to lay her work aside and retire to rest the moment the
sun set. The greenish wax to be obtained would be more brittle than bees' wax,
but it would burn very fairly, and diffuse an agreeable perfume. Having the
ass with us, we lost no time in gathering berries enough to fill one of the large
canvas bags he carried, and we then continued our route.
Very soon we met with another natural curiosity, the curious ..-' .i'r,... of
which surprised us much. This was the abode, under one .... !,.. i '..-ole
colony of birds, about the size of yellow hammers, but'of plain brown plumage.
The nests were built in a mass round the stem and among the branches of a tree
standing alone, and a kind of roof formed of grass, straws, and fibres covered
them all, and sheltered the community from rain and the heat of-the sun.
There were numbers of openings into the irregular sides of the group of dwel-
ilngs, the nests resembling different apartments in a house common to all;
A Curious Colony. 69
twigs and small branches emerged here and there from the walls, and served as
perches for the young birds, and resting-places and posts of observation for all.
The general appearance of the establishment reminded us of a huge bath-sponge.
The feathered inhabitants swarmed in and out by thousands, and we saw among
them many beautiful little parrots, who seemed in many instances to contest
possession of the nest with the lawful owners.
Fritz, being an expert climber, and exceedingly anxious to examine the
nests more closely, ascended the tree, hoping to obtain one or two young birds,
if any were hatched. He put his hand into several holes which were empty;
but at last his intended theft and robbery met with repulse and chastisement he
little expected; for, reaching far back into a nest, his finger was seized and
sharply bitten by a very strong beak, so that with a cry he withdrew his hand,
and shook it vigorously to lessen the pain. Recovering from the surprise, he
again and more resolutely seized the unkind bird, and despite its shrieks and
screams, drew it from its retreat, crammed it into his pocket, buttoned up his
coat, and slid quickly to the ground, pursued by numbers of the captive's rela-
tions, who darted from the other holes and flew round the robber, screeching
and pecking at him in a rage.
Fritz's prize was not one of the real owners of the nest, which were those of
the sociable grosbeak, but a very pretty small green parrot, with which he was
greatly pleased, and which he at once determined to tame and teach to speak;
for the present, it was carefully remanded to prison in his pocket.
This curious colony of birds afforded us matter for conversation as we
went on our way; their cheerful sociable habit, and the instinct which
prompted them to unite in labour for the common good, appearing most
wonderful to us.
Examples of the kind, however," said I, are numerous, in various classes
of animals. Beavers, for instance, build and live together in a very remarkable
way. Among insects, bees, wasps, and ants, are well known as social architects;
in like manner, the coral insect works wonders beneath the ocean waves, by
force of perseverance and united effort."
"I have often watched ants at work," said Fritz; "it is most amusing to
see how they carry on the various works and duties of their commonwealth."
"Have you ever noticed how much trouble.they take with the eggs ." in-
quired I, to see how far he understood the process; carrying them about in the
warmth of the sun until they are hatched '"
"Ah that is rather the chrysalis of the antworm, or larva which is produced
from al egg. I know they are called ants' eggs, but, strictly speaking, that is
You are perfectly right, my boy. Well, if you have taken so much interest
in watching the little ants of your native country, how delighted and as-
tonished you would be to see the wonders performed by the vast tribes of large
ants in foreign lands.
Some of these build heaps or nests, four or six feet high and proportionately
broad, which are so strong and firm that they defy equally sunshine and rain.
They are, within, divided into regular streets, galleries, vaults, and nurseries.
So firmly are these mounds built, that with interior alterations, a deserted one
might be used for a baking-oven.
The ant, although respected since the days of King Solomon, as a model of
industry, is not in itself an attractive insect.
It exudes a sticky moisture, its smell is unpleasant, and it destroys and
devours whatever eatable comes in its way. Although, in our own country it
does little harm, the lare ants of foreign lands are most destructive and trouble-
some; it being very difficultto check their depredations. Fortunately they have
enemies by whose exertions their numbers are kept down ; birds, other insects,
and even four-footed beasts prey upon them. Chief among the latter is the
Ant-bear, or Tamanoir, of South America, a large creature six or seven feet in
I-b l lh. h....... d with long coarse hair, drooping like a heavy plume over the
nrL.'i au.IulM,, The head is wonderfully elongated and very narrow; it is
70 The Swiss Family Robinson.
destitute of teeth, and the tongue resembles somewhat a great red earth-worm.
It has immensely strong curved claws, with which it tears and breaks down and
scratches to pieces the hard walls of the ant-heaps; then, protruding its sticky
tongue, it coils and twists it about among the terrified millions disturbed by its
attack; they adhere to this horrible invader, and are drawn irresistibly back-
wards into the hungry toothless jaws awaiting them.
The Little Ant-eater is not more than about twenty-one inch.:: in i ... I.
has a shorter and more natural looking head, and fine silky fur. It ,,u !1, i! .
I was pleased to find my memory served me so well on this subject, as it in,
terested my boy amazingly ; and occupied us for a considerable time while we
Arriving presently at a grove of tall trees, with very strong, broad, thick
leaves, we paused to examine them; they bore a round fig-like fruit, full of
little seeds and of a sour harsh taste.
Fritz saw some gummy resin exuding from cracks in the bark, andit re-
minded him of the boyish delight afforded by collecting gum from cherry-trees
at home, so that he must needs stop to scrape off as much as he could. He
rejoined me presently, attempting to soften what he had collected in his hands;
but finding it would not work like gum, he was about to fling it away, when
he suddenly found that he could stretch it, and that it sprang back to its
Oh father, only look! this gum is quite elastic! Can it possibly be india-
rubber ? "
"What!" cried I; "let me see it! a valuable discovery that would be,
need; and I do believe you are perfectly right!"
Why would it be so very valuable, father ?" enquired Fritz. "I have only
seen it used for rubbing out pencil marks."
"Indiarubber," I replied, or, more properly, caoutchouc, is a milky resinous
juice which flows from certain trees in considerable quantities when the stem is
purposely tapped. These trees are indigenous to the South American countries
of Brazil, Guiana, and Cayenne. The natives, who first obtained it, used to
form bottles by smearing earthen flasks with repeated coatings of the gum when
just fresh from the trees; and when hardened and sufficiently thick, they broke
the mould, shook out the fragments, and hung the bottles in the smoke, when
they became firmer and of a dark colour. While moist, the savages were in the
habit of drawing rude figures and lines on the resin by way of ornament: these
marks you may have observed, for the bottles, obtained from the natives by the
Spaniards and Portuguese, have for years been brought to Europe, and cut
into portions to be sold for use in drawing. Caoutchouc can be put to many
uses, and I am delighted to have it here, as we shall, I hope, be able to make it
into different forms; first and foremost, I shall try to manufacture boots and
Soon after making this discovery, we reached the cocoa-nut wood, and saw the
bay extending before us, and the great promontory we called Cape Disappoint-
ment, which hitherto had always bounded our excursions.
In passing through the wood, I remarked a smaller sort of palm, which,
among its grand companions, I had not previously noticed. One of these had
been broken by the wind, and I saw that the pith had a peculiar mealy appear-
ance, and I felt convinced that this was the world-renowned sago-palm.
In the pith I saw some fat worms or : .." ; and suddenly recollected that
I had heard of them before as feeding on r,. ..., and that in the West Indies
they are eaten as a delicacy.
I felt inclined to try what they tasted like; so at once kindling a fire, and
placing some half-dozen, sprinkled with salt, on a little wooden spit, I set them
Very soon rich fat began to drop from them, and they smelt so temptingly
good, that all repugnance to the idea of eating worms vanished; and, putting
one like a pat of butter on a baked potato, I boldly swallowed it, and liked it so
We turn C:.: ... 7I
much, that several others followed in the same way. Fritz also summoned
courage to partake of this novel food; which was a savoury addition to our
dinner of baked potatoes.
Being once more ready to start, we found so dense a thicket in the direct route,
that we turned aside without attempting to penetrate it, and made our way
towards the sugar brake near Cape Disappointment. This we could not pass
without cutting a handsome bundle of sugar-canes, and the donkey carried that,
in addition to the bag of wax berries.
In time we reached the sledge in Calabash wood: the ass was unloaded, every-
thing placed on the sledge, and our patient beast began calmly and readily to
drag the burden he had hitherto borne on his back.
No further adventure befel us, and we arrived in the evening at Falconhurst,
where our welcome was as warm as usual-all we had to tell, listened to with
the greatest interest, all we had to show, most eagerly examined, the pretty
green paroquet enchanting the boys most particularly.
An excellent supper was ready for us, and with thankful hearts we enjoyed it
together; then, ascending to our tree-castle, and drawing up the ladder after us,
we betook ourselves to the repose well earned and greatly needed after this
The idea of candle-making seemed to have taken the fancy of all the boys;
and next morning they woke, one after the other, with the word candle on their
lips. When they were thoroughly aroused they continued to talk candles; all
breakfast-time, candles were the subject of conversation; and after breakfast
they would hear of nothing else but setting to work at once and making
"So be it," said I; "let us become chandlers."
I spoke confidently, but to tell the truth, I had in my own mind certain mis-
givings as to the result of our experiment. In the first place, I knew that we
lacked a very important ingredient-animal fat, which is necessary to make
candles burn for any length of time with brilliancy. Besides this, I rather
doubted how far my memory would recall the various operations necessary in
the manufacture. Of all this, however, I said noill,,,- ,.1 .i. 1-.",- ..-.. .i .
direction, were soon at work. We first picked off -.. i.. l. u.I ti.. r ,.. ,.,
a large shallow iron vessel placed on the fire. The -roon -cet-scented wax was
rapidly melted, rising to the surface of the juice ,. 1.i..1 1i. r'!,. berries. This we
skimmed off and placed in a separate pot by the fire, ready for use i [.. ,i "
the operation several times, until we had collected sufficient liquid I ..,u
purpose. I then took the wicks my wife had prepared, and dipped them one
after the other into the wax, handing them as I did so to Fritz, who hung them
up on a bush to dry. The coating they thus obtained, was not very thick ; but,
by repeating the operation several times, they at length assumed very fair pro-
portions, and became real sturdy candles. Our wax being at an end, we hung
these in a cool shady place to harden; and that same night we sat up like
civilized beings three whole hours after sunset, and Falconhurst was for the first
time brilliantly illuminated.
We were all delighted with the success of our cpC-rimrint
"You are indeed clever," said my wife; i ...ul, -:-i-l that with your
ingenuity you would show me how to make butter. Day after day I have the
annoyance of seeing a large supply of good cream go bad under my very eyes,
simply because I have no use to which to put it. Invent a plan, please do."
I think that perhaps I can help you," I replied after a little consideration;
" not that I can claim the honour of the invention of my plan, that is due to the
Hottentots. I will see what I can do. Jack, bring me one of our gourd
I took the gourd, one of those I had previously prepared, with a small hole at
one end and well hollowed out and cleaned; this I partially filled with cream
and then corked up the hole tightly.
Here boys," said I, you can continue the operation, while I turn carpenter
and make a cart to take the place of our sledge."
72 TAe Swiss Family Robinson.
I gave them their directions, and then set about my own work. They fixed
four posts in the ground, and to them fastened a square piece of sail-cloth by
four cords attached to the corners. In this cradle they placed the gourd of
cream, and each taking a side, rolled it backwards and forwards continuously for
half an hour.
"Now," I cried, looking up from my work, "open the gourd and take
the contents to your mother, with my compliments."
They did so; and my good wife's eyes were delighted with the sight of a large
lump of capital fresh butter.
With my sons' assistance the cart was in time completed; a clumsy vehicle it
was, but strong enough for any purpose to which we might put it, and, as it
proved, of immense use to us in collecting the harvest.
We then turned our attention to our fruit-trees, which we had planted
in a plot ready for t. ... .1 .-..1. The walnut, cherry, and chestnut trees we
arranged in parallel rows so as to form a shady avenue from Falconhurst
to Family-bridge; and between them we laid down a tolerable road, that we
might have no difficulty in reaching Tentholm, be the weather bad as it might.
We planted the vines round the arched roots of our great mangrove, and the rest
of the trees in suitable spots; some near Falconhurst, and others away over
Jackal river, to adorn Tentholm. Tentholm had been the subject of serious
thoughts to me for some time past, and I now turned all my attention thither.
It was not my ambition to make it beautiful, but to form of it a safe place of
refuge in a case of emergency. My first care, therefore, was to plant a thick
prickly hedge, capable of protecting us from any wild animal, :.i1 P. ,.. .
tolerable obstacle to the attack of even savages, should they 'p." "
satisfied with this, however, we fortified the bridge, and on a couple of hillocks
mounted two guns which we brought from the wreck, and with whose angry
mouths we might bark defiance at any enemy, man or beast.
Six weeks slipped away while we were thus busily occupied, six weeks of hard
yet pleasant labour. We greeted each Sunday and its accompanying rest most
I- I i ..', and on that day alw., .: .r....I thanked God for our continued
I.. -i,. -,.I. safety. I soon saw 1I. i Iti i .I.I work was developing in the boys
remarkable strength, and this I encouraged by making them practise running,
leaping, climbing, and swimming; I also saw, however, that it was having a less
satisfactory effect upon their clothes, which, though a short time before
remarkably neat, were now, in spite of the busy mother's mending and patching,
most untidy and disreputable. I determined, therefore, to pay another visit to
the wreck, to replenish our wardrobe and to see how much longer the vessel was
likely to hold together. Three of the boys and I went off in the pinnace. The
old ship seemed in much the same condition as when we had left her, a few more
planks had gone, but that was all.
Come, boys," cried I, "not an article of the slightest value must be left on
board; rummage her out to the very bottom of her hold."
They took me at my word: sailors' chests, bales of cloth and linen, a couple
of small guns, ball and shot, tables, benches, window shutters, bolts and locks,
barrels of pitch, all were soon in a heap on the deck. We loaded the pinnace
and went on shore. We soon returned with our tub-boat in tow, and after a
few more trips nothing was left on board.
One more trip," said I to my wife, before we started again, and there will
be the end of the brave ship which carried us from Switzerland. I have left
two barrels of gunpowder on board, and mean to blow her up."
Before we lighted the fusee, I discovered a large copper cauldron which I
thought I might save. I made fast to it a couple of empty casks, that when the
ship.went up it might float. The barrels were placed, the train lighted, and we
returned on shore.
The supper was laid outside the tent, at a spot from whence we might obtain
a good view of the wreck. Darkness came on. Suddenly a vivid pillar of fire
rose from the black waters, a sullen roar boomed across the sea, and we knew
that our good old ship was no more.
The Caoutchouc Tree. 73
We had planned the destruction of the. vessel, we knew that it was for
the best; and yet that night we went to bed with a feeling of sadness in
our hearts, as though we had lost a dear old friend.
Next morning all our sadness was dispelled, and it was with pleasure that we
saw the shore lined with a rich store of planks and beams, the remnants of the
wreck. I soon found, too, the copper cauldron which was successfully floated by
the casks; this I got on shore, and hauling it up among the rocks, stored under
it the powder casks we had landed the day before. Collecting all these valuables
gave us some little trouble, and while we were thus engaged my wife brought us
good news. She had discovered that two ducks and a goose had each reared a
large family among the reeds by the river; and they presently appeared
waddling past us, apparently vastly well-pleased with their performance. We
greeted them joyfully.
Hurrah! cried Ernest, we'll be able to afford duck and green peas some
day soon, and imagine we're once more civilized mortals."
The sight of these birds reminded me of our family at Falconhurst, and
I announced my intention of paying them a visit.
Every one was delighted, and every one would come with me. As we
approached Falconhurst I noticed that several young trees in our avenue were
considerably bent by the wind, and this resolved me to make an expedition
next day to cut bamboos for their support. As Fritz was the only one besides
myself who had visited Cape Disappointment and the sil ....1.. I; .. .ii.,, my
wife and the younger boys begged hard to be allowed to ...** .. 'i'', I con-
sented; and next morning we started, bringing with us the cart, drawn by the
cow and ass, and laden with everything necessary for an expedition of several
days-a tent, provisions, a large supply of ammunition, and all sorts of
implements and utensils; for I intended to make a great collection of fruits and
the produce of different trees. It wvas a lovely morning, and passing gaily
through the plantations of potatoes, manioc, and cassavas, we came to the nests
of the sociable grosbeak, the sight of which charmed the children immensely.
We reached the wax trees, and there I called a halt, for I wished to gather a
,sack or two of the berries that we might renew our stock of candles. The berries
were soon plucked; and I stored them away amongst the bushes, marking the
spot that we might find them on our return.
"Now for the caoutchouc tree," said I; "now for waterproof boots and
leggings to keep your feet dry, Ernest." To the caoutchouc tree we directed our
steps, and were soon busily engaged in stabbing the bark and placing vessels
beneath to catch the sap. We again moved forward; and crossing the palm
wood, entered upon a delightful plain bounded on one side by an extensive field
of waving sugar-cane, on the other by a thicket of bamboos and lovely palms,
while in front stretched the shining sea, calm and noiseless.
How beautiful! exclaimed Jack, "let us pitch our tent here and stay here
always instead of living at Falconhurst. It would be jolly."
"Very likely," replied I, "and so would be the attacks of wild beasts;
imaTin T"a "t tiger lying in wait in the thicket yonder, and pouncing out en
us i r.t. N .. no, thank you, I r,,,,i., -. 1 our nest in the tree, or our im-
pregnable position at Tentholm.. i ..u ri I-ce this our head quarters for the
present, however; for, though perhaps dangerous, it is the most convenient spot
we shall find. Call a halt and pitch the tent."
Our beasts were quickly unyoked, the tent arranged, a large fire lit, supper
prepared, and we dispersed in various directions, some to cut bamboos, and some
to collect sugar-cane. We then returned; and, as supper was still not quite
ready ivT- th .. -.7-- were hungry, they decided to obtain some cocoa-nuts. This
time, ...-. I, I.'. assistance was to be had from either monkeys or land-crabs,
and they gazed up with longing eyes at the fruit above them.
We can climb," said Fritz, "up with you, boys."
Jack and he each rushedat one of the smooth slippery trunks; right vigorously
they struggled upwards, but to no purpose, before they had accomplished one
quarter of the distance they found themselves slipping rapidly to the ground,
74 The Swiss Family Robinson.
Here, you young athletes," cried I, "I foresaw this difficulty, and have pro-
vided for it." So saying I held up buskins of shark's skin which I had
previously prepared, and which I now bound on to their legs. Thus equipped
they again attempted the ascent, and with a loop of rope passed round their
body and the trunk of the tree, quickly reached the summit. My wife joined
me, and together we watched the boys as they ascended tree after tree, throwing
down the best fruit from each.
They then returned, and jestingly begged Ernest to produce the result of his
labour. The professor had been lying on the gr _, r'' .. palms; but, on
this sarcastic remark, he sprang to his feet. -.'- .1.. exclaimed, and
seizing a pair of buskins he quickly donned them. "Give me a cocoa-nut
shell," said he. I gave him one, and he put it in his pocket. He ran to a tree,
and, with an agility which surprised us all, quickly reached the top. No sooner
had he done so than Fritz and Jack burst into a roar of laughter. He had
swarmed a tree which bore no nuts. Ernest apparently heard them ; for, as it
seemed in a fit of anger, he drew his knife and severed the leafy crest, which fell
to the ground. I glanced up at him, surprised at such a display of temper.
But a bright smile greeted me, and in a merry tone he shouted:
Jack, pick that palm-cabbage up and take it to father; that is only half my
contribution, and it is worth all your nuts put together."
He spoke truly: the cabbage palm is rare, and the tuft of leaves at its
summit is greatly prized by the South Americans for its great delicacy and
highly nutritive qualities.
"Bravo!" I cried, "you have retrieved your character; come down and
receive the thanks of the company, what are you -- ,In._ .- there for ? "
I am coming presently," he replied, with the second half of my contribu-
tion; I hope it will be as fully appreciated as the first."
In a short time he slipped down the tree, and, advancing to his mother,
presented her with the nutshell he had taken up with him.
"Here," he said, "is a wine which the greatest connoisseur would prize.
Taste it, mother."
The shell was filled with a clear rosy liquor, bright and sparkling. My wife
tasted it. "Excellent, excellent," she exclaimed. "Your very good health,
my dear boy!"
We drank the rosy wine in turn, and Ernest received hearty thanks from
It was getting late, and while we were enjoying our supper before our tent,
our donkey, who had been quietly browsing near us, suddenly set up a loud
bray, and, without the least apparent cause, pricked up his ears, threw up his
heels, and galloped off into the thicket of bamboos. We followed for a short
distance, and I sent the dogs in chase, but they returned without our friend,
and, as it was late, we were obliged to abandon the chase.
I was annoyed by this incident, and even alarmed; for not only had we lost
the ass, but I knew not what had occasioned his sudden flight. I knew not
whether he was aware, by instinct, of the approach of some fierce wild beast. I
said nothing of this to my family, but, making up an unusually large fire, I bade
them sleep with their arms by their sides, and we all lay down.
A bright morning awoke us early, and I rose and looked out, thinking that
perhaps our poor donkey might have been attracted by the light of the fires, and
have returned. Alas, not a sign of him was to be seen. As we could not afford
to loose so valuable a beast, I determined to leave no attempt untried to regain
him. We hurriedly breakfasted, and, as I required the dogs to assist me in the
search, I left my elder sons to protect their mother, and bade Jack get ready for
a day's march. This arrangement delighted him, and we quickly set out.
For an hour or more we trudged onwards, directed by the print of the ass's
hoofs. Sometimes we lost the track for a while, and then again discovered it as
we reached softer soil. Finally this guide failed us altogether, for the donkey
seemed to have joined in with a herd of some larger animals, with whose hoof-
prints his had mingled. I now almost turned back in despair, but Jack urged
Capture of a Buzfalo. 75
me to continue the search: "For," said he, "if we once get upon a hill we
shall see such a large herd as this must be at almost any distance. Do let us go
I consented, and we again pushed forwards, through bushes, and over torrents,
sometimes cutting our way with an axe, and sometimes plunging knee-deep
"h.... : np. We at length reached the border of a wide plain, and on it,
i .-.: .. I could see a herd of animals, browsing on the rich grass. It
struck me that it might be the very herd to which our good donkey had joined
himself; and, wishing to ascertain whether this was so, I resolved to make a
detour through a bamboo marsh, and get as near as possible to the animals with-
out disturbing them. The bamboos were huge, many of them over thirty feet in
height; and, as we made our way through them, I remembered an account of
the giant cane of South America, which is greatly prized by the Indians on
account of its extreme usefulness; the reeds themselves make masts for their
canoes, while each joint will form a cask or box. I was delighted, for I had
little doubt that the bamboos we were among were of the same species. I ex-
plained this to Jack, and as we discussed the possibility of cutting one down and
carrying a portion of it home, we reached the border of the marsh, and emerged
upon the plain. There we suddenly found ourselves face to face with the herd
which we sought-a herd of buffaloes. They looked up, and stared at us inqui-
sitively, but without moving. Jack would have fired, but I checked him.
Back to the thicket," I said, "and keep back the dogs !"
We began to retreat, but before we were again under cover, the dogs joined
us; and, in spite of our shouts and efforts to restrain them, they dashed forwards,
and seized a buffalo calf. This was a signal to the whole herd to attack us.
They bellowed loudly, pawed the ground, and tore it up with their horns, and
then dashed madly towards us. We had not time to step behind a rock before
the leader was upon us. So close was he that my gun was useless. I drew a
pistol and fired. He fell dead at my feet. His fall checked the advance of the
rest. They halted, snuffed the air, turned tail and galloped off across the plain.
They were gone, but the dogs still held gallantly to the calf. They dragged and
tussled with him, but with their utmost efforts could not bring him to the ground.
How to assist them without shooting the poor beast, I knew not; and this I was
unwilling to do, for I hoped that, if we could but capture him alive, we might in
time manage to tame him, and use him as a beast of burden. Jack's clever little
head, however, suddenly devised a plan for their aid, and with his usual promp-
titude he at once put it into execution. He unwound the lasso, which was
coiled round his body, and, as the young bull flung up his heels, he cast it and
caught him by his hind legs. The noose drew tight, and in a twinkling the
beast was upon the ground. We fastened the other end of the cord round a stout
bamboo, called off the dogs, and the animal was at our mercy.
"Now we have got him," said Jack, as he looked at the poor beast, lying
panting on the ground, "what are we to do with him? "
I will show you," said I; "help me to fasten his fore-legs together, and you
shall see the next operation."
The bull, thus secured, could not move; and while Jack held his head I
drew my knife and pierced the cartilage of his nose, and when the blood flowed
less freely, passed a stout cord through the hole. I felt some repugnance at
thus paninng the animal, but it was a case of necessity, and I could not hesitate.
We united the ends of the cord, freed the animal, set him upon his legs, and
subdued and overawed, he followed us without resistance. I now turned my
attention to the dead buffalo, but as I could not then skin it, I contented myself
with cutting off the most delicate parts, its tongue and a couple of steaks, and,
packing them in salt in my wallet, abandoned the rest to the dogs. They fell
upon it greedily, and we retired under the shade to enjoy a meal after our hard
work. The dogs, however, were not to have undisputed possession of the car-
case; vultures, crows, and other birds of prey, with that marvellous instinct
which always leads them to a dead body, quickly filled the air, and, with dis-
cordant cries, swooped down upon the buffalo. An amusing contest ensued:
76 The. Swiss Family. .Robinson.
the dogs again and again drove off.the intruders,.and they, as often, returned
reinforced by others who swarmed to the spot. Jack, with his usual impetu-
osity, wished to send a shot in amongst the robber band, but I prevented him,
for I knew that the bird or two he might kill would be of no use to us,. while
his shot would not drive away the rest. even had we wished it. Both we and
the .1. r ... length satisfied, and as it was getting late, I determined to give
up :.. -, i. I ... ..- t the search for the ass, and to return to our camp. We again
made our way through the bamboos, but before we left the thicket, I cut down
one of the smallest of the reeds, the largest of whose joints would form capital
little barrels, I 1i. lose near the tapering top would serve as moulds for our
n.-t b-t.h ..f .iI..l.
i I.. i ..., .I., with a dog on either side and the rope through his nose, was
following us passively, and we presently induced him to submit to a package of
our goods laid upon his back. We pushed rapidly forward, Jack eager to display
our latest acquisition. As we repassed the rocky bed of a stream we had
crossed in the morning, Juno dashed ahead, and was about to rush into a cleft
between the rocks, when the appearance of a lre'P jackal suddenly checked her
further progress. Both dogs instantly flew .1 i animal, and though she
fought desperately, ..1;. .. ... ..1 ,,,.1 throttled her. From the way the
beast had shown figtir I .:....!.. 1 .1.. lIr ,P ., young must be close by, probably
- Ii, l, h,.- very cleft Juno was about to enter.
I .... ; Jack heard this, he wished to creep in and bring out the young
jackals. I hesitated to allow him to do so, for I thought it possible that the
male jackal might be still lying in wait within the cave. We peered into the
darkness, and after a while, Jack declared he could discern the little yellow
jackals, and.. that he was quite sure the old one was not there. He then crept
in, followed closely by the dogs, and presently emerged bearing in his arms a
handsome cub of ai l.. ,iril ...lien yellow and about the size of a small cat.
He was the only o .. ...lt ,. .... I he had managed to save, for Turk and Juno,
without pity for their youth or beauty, had worried all the rest. I did not much
regret this, however, for I firmly believe that, had he saved them, Jack would
have insisted upon bringing up the whole litter. As it was I considered
that one jackal was, with our young bull, quite sufficient an addition to our
During the halt we had made, I had fastened the buffalo to a small tree, and
as I now was again about to move on, I recognized it as the dwarf-palm, whose
long sharp leaves form an excellent barrier if it is planted as a hedge. I deter-
mined to return and get some young plants to strengthen our hedge at Tentholm.
It was late before we reached our camp, where we found our family anxiously
awaiting our return..
The sight of the new animals delighted the children immensely, and in their
opinion amply compensated for the loss of our poor donkey. Jack had to answer
a host of questions concerning their capture, and to give a minute account of
the affray with the buffaloes. This he did, with graphic power certainly, but
with so much boasting and self-glorification, that I was obliged to check him,
and give a plain and unvarnished account of the affair.
*rIr...r.[ -l.... 1 rived, and as we sat at that meal, for which Jack and I were
I.,- ., I i, II l: I:rl, my wife and her party proceeded to -give an account of their
Ernest had discovered a sago-palm, and had, after much labour, contrived to
fell it. Franz and his mother had collected dry wood, of which a huge heap
now stood before the tent sufficient to keep up a fire all the rest of the time we
should stay on the spot. Fritz had gone off shooting and had secured a good
bag. While they had been thus variously employed, a troop of apes had visited
the tent, and when they returned, they found the place ransacked and turned
upside down. The provisions were eaten and gnawed, the potatoes thrown about,
the milk drunk and spilt, every box had been peeped into, every pot and pan
had been divested of its lid, the palisade, round the hut had been partly
destroyed, nothing had been left untouched. Industriously had the boys worked
'he Sago- /ahn. '77
to repair the damage, andwhenwe returned uI. ii 1 1, seen of the dis-
order. No one would have guessed what h J .. i I i r.,o u t iL delicious supper
we were eating.
After matters had been again arranged Fritz had gone down to the shore and,
amongst the rocks at Cape Disappointment, had discovered a you:-i .!.. 1,1. 1
Ernest declared to be a Malabar or Indian eagle; he was much l' '. '.. tL In;
discovery, and I recommended him to bring the bird up and try to train it to
hunt as a falcon.
Look here though, boys," said I, you are now collecting a good many
pets, and I am not going to have your mother troubled with the care of them
all; each must look after his own, and if I find one neglected, whether beast or
bird, I set it at liberty; Mark that and remember it !"
My wife looked greatly relieved at this announcement, and the boys promised
tn obpv my directions, Before we retired for the night I prepared the buffalo
i. I i !i ,. brought, I lit a large fire of green wood, and in the smoke of this
thoroughly dried both the tongue and steaks. We then properly secured all the
animals, Jack took his little pet in his arms, and we lay down and were soon
At daybreak we were on foot, and began to prepare for a return to Falcon-
You are not going to despise my sago, I hope," said Ernest; "you have no
idea what a trouble it was to cut it down, and I have been thinking too that if
we could but split the tree, we might make a couple of long useful troughs
which might, I think, be made to carry water from Jackal's River to Tentholm.
Is my plan worth consideration? "
Indeed it is," I replied ; and at all events we must not abandon such a
valuable prize as a sago-palm. I would put off our departure for a day, rather
than leave it behind."
We went to the palm, and with the tools we had with us attempted to split
the trunk. We first sawed off the upper end, and then with an axe and saw
managed to insert a wedge. This accomplished, our task was less difficult, for
with a heavy mallet we forced the wedge in further and further, until at length
the trunk was split in twain. From one half of the trunk we then removed the
pith, 11..- ;i-. it,, with difficulty, from the tough wood fibres; at each end,
howe' I !.. tI portion of the pith untouched, thus forming a trough in which
to work the sago.
Now, boys," said I, when we had removed the pith from the other half of
the trunk, off with your coats and turn up your shirt-sleeves; I am going to
teach you to knead."
They were all delighted, and even little Franz begged to be allowed to help.
Ernest brought a couple of pitchers of water, and throwing it in amongst the
pith, we set to work right heartily. As the dough was formed and properly
kneaded, I handed it to the mother who spread it out on a cloth in the sun to
dry. This new occupation kept us busy until the evening, and when it was at
length completed we loaded the cart with the sago, a store of cocoanuts and our
other possessions, that we might be ready to start early on the following morn-
ing. As the sun rose above the horizon, we packed up our tent and set forth, a
goodly caravan. I thought it unfair to the cow to make her drag such a load as
we now had alone, and determined if possible to make the young buffalo take
the place of our lost donkey; after soine persuasion he consented, and soon put
his strength to the work and brought the cart along famously. As we had the
trough slung under the cart we had to choose the clearest possible route, avoid-
ing anything like a thicket, we, therefore, could not pass directly by the candle-
berry and .. ...nt. i.... trees, and I sent Ernest and Jack aside to visit the store
we.had made on our outward journey.
They had not Tong been gone when I was alarmed by a most terrible noise
S.....ui. ,-1..i by the furious barking of the dog and shouts from Jack and Ernest.
I hbkirg th it the boys had been attacked by some wild beast, I ran to their
assistance. A most ludicrous scene awaited me when I reached the spot. They
78 TAe Swiss Family Robinson.
were dancing and shouting round and round a glassy glade, and I as nearly as
possible followed their example, for in the centre, surrounded by a promising
litter, lay our old sow, whose squeals, previously so alarming, were now sub-
siding into comfortable grunts of recognition. I did not join my boys in their
triumphal dance, but I was nevertheless very much pleased at the sight
of the flourishing family, and immediately returned to the cart to obtain
biscuits and potatoes for the benefit of the happy mother. Jack and Ernest
meanwhile pushed further on, and brought back the sack of candleberries and
caoutchouc, and as we could not then take the sow with us, we left her alone
with her family and proceeded to Falconhurst.
The animals were delighted to see us back again, and received us with mani-
festations of joy, but looked askance at the new pets. The eagle especially came
in for shy glances, and promised to be no favourite. Fritz, however, determined
that his pet should at present do no harm, secured him by the leg to a root of
the fig-tree and uncovered his eyes. In a moment the aspect of the bird was
changed; with his sight returned all his savage instincts, he flapped his wings,
raised his head, darted to the full length of his chain, and before any one
could prevent him seized the unfortunate parrot which stood near, and tore it
to pieces. Fritz's anger rose at the sight, and he was about to put an end to
the savage bird,
"Stop," said Ernest, don't kill the poor creature, he is but following his
natural instincts; give him to me, and I will tame him."
Fritz hesitated. "No, no," he said, "I don't want really to kill the bird,
but I can't give him up; tell me how to tame him, and you shall have Master
Very well," replied Ernest, I will tell you my plan, and, if it succeeds,
I will accept Knip as a mark of your gratitude. Take a pipe and tobacco, and
send the smoke all round his he ad, so that he must inhale it; by degrees he will
become stupified, and his savage nature from that moment subdued."
Fritz was rather inclined to ridicule the plan, but, knowing that Ernest
generally had a good reason for anything of the sort that he proposed, he con-
sented to make the attempt. He soon seated himself beneath the bird, who
still struggled furiously, and puffed cloud after cloud upwards, and as each
cloud circled round the eagle's head he became quieter and quieter, until he sat
quite still, gazing stupidly at the young smoker.
"Capital! cried Fritz, as he hooded the bird, capital, Ernest ; Knip is
Prop our young trees-A lecture on grafting-A new idea broached-Why should we
not build stairs within the trunk of our tree ?-Jack finds one objection-I make a
beehive, and we drive the bees from the tree-Stair-making-Additions to our
family of domestic animals-The education of the 'pets '-Shoe-making-We lead
water from the stream to Falconhurst-A strange animal approaches-Our old ass
and his companion-The Onager captured-Provisioning our winter quarters-
Capture of Rutted Grouse-We discover flax-The rainy season.
NEXT morning the boys and I started with the cart laden with our bundles of
bamboos to attend to the avenue of fruit trees. The buffalo we left behind, for his
services were not needed, and I wished the wound in his nostrils to become com-
pletely cicatrized before I againput him to work. We were not a moment too soon;
many of the young trees which before threatened to fall had now fulfilled their
promise, and were lying prostrate on the ground, others were bent, some few
only remained erect. We raised the trees, and digging deeply at their roots,
Lecture on Horticulture. 79
drove in stout bamboo props, to which we lashed them firmly with strong broad
"Papa," said Franz, as we were thus engaged, and he handed me the fibres
as I required them, are these wild or tame trees ?"
"Oh, these are wild trees, most ferocious trees," laughed Jack, and we are
tying them up lest they should run away, and in a little while we will untie
them and they will trot about after us and give us fruit wherever we go. Oh,
we will tame them; they shall have a ring through their noses like the
"That's not true," replied Franz, gravely, "but there are wild and tame
trees, the wild ones grow out in the woods like the crab-apples, and the tame
ones in the garden like the pears and peaches at home. Which are these,
"They are not wild," I replied, "but grafted or cultivated, or, as you call
them, tame trees. No European tree bears good fruit until it is grafted I
saw a puzzled look come over the little boy's face as he heard this new word,
and I hastened to explain it. "Grafting," I continued, "is the process of
inserting a slip or twig of a tree into what is called an eye; that is, a knot or
hole in the branch of another. This twig or slip then grows and produces, not
such fruit as the original stock would have borne, but such as the tree from
which it was taken would have produced. Thus, if we have a sour crab-tree,
and an apple-tree bearing fine ribston pippins, we would take a slip of the
latter, insert it in an eye of the former, and in a year or two the branch which
would then grow would be laden with good apples."
But," asked Ernest, where did the slips of good fruit trees come from, if
none grow without grafting ?"
From foreign countries," I replied; "it is only in the cold climate of our
part of the world that they require this grafting ; in many parts of the world,
m more southern latitudes than ours, the most luscious fruit trees are indigenous
to the soil, and flourish and bear sweet wholesome fruit, without the slightest
care or attention being bestowed upon them; while in England and Germany,
and even in France, these same trees require the utmost exertion of horti-
cultural skill to make them bring forth any fruit whatever. Thus, when the
Romans invaded England they found there nothing in the way of fruit-trees
but the crab-apple, nut bushes, and bramble-bushes, but by grafting on these,
fine apples, filberts, and raspberries were produced, and it was the same in our
own dear Switzerland-all our fruit trees were imported."
Were cherries, father ? May we not even call cherries Swiss ? I always
thought they grew nowhere else."
"I am afraid we cannot even claim cherries as our own, not even the name
of them; they are called cherries from Cerasus, a state of Pontus, in Asia,
whence they were brought to Europe by Lucullus, a Roman general, about
seventy years before Christ. Hazel nuts also came from Pontus; walnuts,
again, came ..,i., ;.!! from Persia. As for grapes, they are of the greatest
antiquity. \\ ... ,,, if you remember, of Noah cultivating vines, and they
have been brought from one place to another until they now are to be found in
most parts of the civilized world."
Do you think all these trees will grow ?" asked Fritz, as we crossed Jackal
River and entered our plantation at Tcntholm; ",here are lemons, pomegranates,
pistachio nuts, and mulberries,"
"I have little doubt of it," I replied, "we are evidently within the tropics,
where such trees as these are sure to flourish. These pines, now, come from
France, Spain, and Italy; the olives from Armenia and Palestine; the figs
originally from the island of Chios; the peaches and apricots from Persia;
plums from Damascus in Syria, and the pears of all sorts from Greece. How-
ever, if our countries have not been blessed in the same way with fruit, we
have been given wisdom and skill, which has enabled us to import and culti-
vate the trees of other lands."
We thus talked and worked until every tree that required the treatment was
:80 The Swiss :.' ~' Robinson.
provided with a stout bamboo prop, and then, with appetites which a gourmand
might well have envied, we returned to Falconhurst. I think the good mother
was almost alarmed at the way we fell upon the corned-beef and .'1...i ,l1.1...
she set before us, but at length these good things produced the (id. I... ..1.. r,
and.one rt -i ..il.: .. .:lared himself satisfied. As we sat reclining after our
labour ai,.l J.,.. ,., .:..-e dinner we discussed the various projects we had in
contempt ,r,.. .. i I ij," said my wife, that you would invent some other
plan for climbing to the nest above us; I think that the nest itself i; -.-. i,
I really wish for nothing better, but I should like to be able to get -... II li.:..
scaling that dreadful ladder every time.;. could you not make a flight of steps to
I carefully thought over the project, and turned over every plan for its
It would be impossible, I am afraid," said I, to make stairs outside, but
within the trunk it might be done, ,.... than once have- I thought that this
trunk might be hollow or partly so, and if such be the case our task would be
comparatively easy. Did you not tell me the other day that you noticed bees
coming from a hole in the tree ?"
: Oh, yes," said little Franz, and I went to look at them and one flew right
against my face and stung me, and I almost cried, but I didn't.'
Brave little boy," said I. Well, now, if the trunk be sufficiently hollow
to contain a swarm of bees, it may be for all we can tell hollow the greater part
of .its length, for like. the willow in our own country it might draw all its
nourishment through the bark, and in spite of its real unsoundness retain a
Master Jack, practical as usual, instantly sprang to his feet to put my con-
jecture to the proof. The rest followed his example, and they were all soon
climbing: about lik.. .i,;. i 1: i.... ii .' l b, Ito the hole, and tapping the wood to
discover by sound I1 I r. .i i., extended.
SThey fnro.t, in it. .. ,. -.!1,. cere the tenants of this interesting
trunk. i tO were soon reminded of it, however, for the bees, disturbed by this
unusual, noise, with an angry buzz burst out and in an instant attacked the
causers of the annoyance ; they swarmed round them, stung them on the
hands, face, and neck, settled in ,their hair, and pursued them as they ran to
me for assistance. It was.with difficulty that we got rid of the angry insects,
and were able to attend to the boys. Jack, who had been the first to reach the
hole, had fared the worst and was soon a :- ... i ,i ;i r. his face swelled to
an extraordinary 'degree, and it was onl) i.,- t .... *.i i,,r application of cold
earth that the pain was alleviated. They were all eager to commence an -r.
nized attack upon the bees at once, but for an hour or more by reason of i,. L.
pain they were unable to render me much assistance. In the meanwhile I made
my arrangements. I first took a 1.... dabash gourd, for I intended to make a
beehive, that, when we had driS. it.. insects from their present abode, we
might not lose them entirely. The lower half of the gourd I flattened, I then
cut an arched opening in the front for a doorway, made a straw roof as a protec-
tion from the rain and heat, and the little house was complete.
Nothing more however could then be done, for the irritated bees were still
angrily buzzing.round the tree. I waited till dark, and then when all the bees
had again returned to their trunk, with Fritz's assistance I carefully stopped up
every hole in the tree with wet clay, that the bees might not issue forth next
morning before. we would begin operations. Very early were we up and at
work. I first took a 1: ...11.. i. i ,l 1 inserted one end through the clay into
the tree ; downthis t,,Il. i I~. .... td tobacco I smoked most furiously.
The humming and i. -... tI t rent on within was tremendous; the bees
evidently could not understand what was going to happen. I ~, i.-. i restt
pipeful, and, putting my thumb'over the end of the cane, I -... ... tl.: ..- to
Fritz to refill. He did so, and I again smoked. The buzzing was now becoming
less noisy, and was u. .;i. iL- into a mere murmur. By the time I had finished
this second.pipe all W1. :il, the :... .-':. stup.,i .d.
How we Imprisoned the Bees. 81
SNow.then, Fritz," said I, "quick with a hammer and chisel, and stand here
He was up in a moment, and, together, we cut a small door by the side of
the hole; this door, however, we did not take out, but we left it attached by
one corner that it might be removed at a moment's notice, then giving the bees
a final dose of tobacco smoke, we opened it.
Carefully but rapidly we removed the insects, as they clung in clusters to the
sides of the tree, and placed them in the hive prepared for their reception. As
rapidly I then took every atom of wax and honey from their store house, and
put it in a cask I had made ready for the purpose.
The bees were now safely removed from the trunk, but I could not tell
whether, when they revived from their temporary stupor, they might not refuse
to occupy the house with which I had presented them, and insist on returning to
their old quarters. To prevent the possibility of this occurrence, I took a quantity
of tobacco, and, placing it upon a board nailed horizontally within the trunk, I
lighted it and allowed it to burn slowly that the fumes might fill the cavity. It
was well I did so, for, as the bees returned to consciousness, they left their
pretty hive and buzzed away to the trunk of the tree. They seemed astonished
at finding this uninhabitable, and an immense deal of noisy humming ensued.
Round and round they flew, backwards and forwards between the gourd and tree,
now settling here. and now there, until, at length, after due consideration, they
took possession of the hive and abandoned their former habitation to us the
invaders of their territory. By the evening they were quite quiet, and we
ventured to open the cask in which we had stored our plunder. We first sepa-
rated the honey from the honeycomb and poured it off into jars and pots; the
rest we then took and threw into a vessel of water placed over a slow fire. It
soon boiled and the entire mass became fluid. This we placed in a clean canvas
bag and subjected to a heavy pressure. The honey was thus soon f., .. ,1 ...I.f, .u.1
we stored it in a cask, and, though not perhaps -quite equal t.. tr h. I..!.
batch in .i .!i;,'. It was yet capital. The wax that remrinerl in the bag I also
carefully :i.... i .- I knew it would be of great use :.. r.i La r h. manufacture of
candles. Then after a hard day's work we turned in.
The internal architecture of the tree had now to be attended to, and early
the following morning we prepared for the laborious task. A door had first
to be made, so at the base of the trunk we cut away the bark and formed an
opening just the size of the door we had brought from the captain's cabin; and
which, hinges and all, was ready to be hung. The clearing of the rotten wood
from the centre of the trunk occupied us come time, but at lengTI we had the
satisfaction of seeing it entirely accomplished, and,:as we stood below, we could
look up the trunk, which was like a great smooth funnel, and see the sky above.
It was now ready for the staircase, and first we erected in the centre a stout
-.i to form an axis round which to build the spiral -t ir': it hiih we cut
notches to receive the steps, and corresponding notches in H .. i,. t...-lf t.-. 1.-
port the outer ends. The steps themselves we formed carefully and 1..: I, '
planks from the wreck, and clenched them firmly in their places with stout nails.
Upwards and upwards we built, cutting windows in the trunk as we required,
to admit light and air, until we were flush with the top of the centre pole. On
this pole we erected another to reach the top of the tree, and .I... 1- i i -mly,
built in the same way round it until we at length reached th.. !-- ..i t .r' floor
of the nest above. To make the ascent of the stairs perfectly easy, we ran a
hand-rail on either side, one round the centre pillar, and the other following
the curve of the trunk.
This task occupied us a whole month, and by the end of that period, so accus-
tomed had we become to having a definite piece of work before us, that we began
to consider wha .-.,ii.: ... er .1. i ,. are should undertake. We were, how-
ever, of course a. i I! ..t. I., I l of our colonial establishment. There
were all the animals to be attended to, the goats and sheep had both presented
us with additions to our flocl ,. .J tI i.. I ri nn- oterl hTidto be seen after;
to prevent them straying to In, o.: .' i.:r.tii...:, .. .-i I .rl n.i wish to lose them ,
82 The Swiss Family Robinson.
we tied round their necks little bells, which we had found on board the wreck,
and which would assist us to track them. Juno, too, had a fine litter of puppies,
but, in spite of the entreaties of the children, I could not consent to keep more
thali two, and the rest disappeared in that mysterious way in which puppies and
kittens are wont to leave the earth. To console the mother, as he said, but also,
I suspect, to save himself considerable trouble, Jack placed his little jackal
beside the remaining puppies, and, to his joy, found it readily adopted. The
other pets were also flourishing, and were being usefully trained. The buffalo,
after giving us much trouble, had now become perfectly domesticated, and was a
very useful beast of burden, besides being a capital steed for the boys. They guided
him by a bar thrust through the hole in his nose, which was now perfectly
healed, and this served the purpose just as a bit in the mouth of a horse. I
began his education by securing round him a broad girth of buffalo-hide and
fastening to it various articles, to accustom him to carrying a burden. By degrees
he permitted this to be done without making the slightest resistance, and soon
carried the panniers, before borne by the ass, readily and willingly.
I then made Master Knip sit upon his back and hold the reins I had prepared
for him, that the animal might become accustomed to the feeling of a rider, and
finally allowed Fritz himself to mount. The education of the eagle was not
neglected. Fritz every day shot small birds for his food, and these he placed
sometimes between the wide-spreading horns of the buffalo or goat, and some-
times upon the back of the great bustard, that he might become accustomed to
pounce upon living prey. These lessons had their due effect, and the bird,
having been taught to obey the voice and whistle of his master, he was soon
allowed to bring down small birds upon the wing, when he stooped and struck
his quarry in most sportsmanlike manner. We kept him well away from the
poultry-yard lest his natural instincts should show themselves, and he should put
an untimely end to some of our feathered pets.
Neither was Master Knip allowed to remain idle, for Ernest, now that he was
in his possession, wished to train him to be of some use. With Jack's help he
made a little basket of rushes, which he so arranged with straps that it might
be easily'fitted on to the monkey's back. Thus equipped he was taught to mount
cocoa-nut palms and other lofty trees, and to bring down their fruit in the
Jack was not so successful in his educational attempts. Fangs, as he had
christened his jackal, used his fangs indeed, but only on his own account;
nothing could persuade him that the animals he caught were not at once to be
devoured, consequently poor Jack was never able to save from his jaws anything
but the tattered skin of his prey. Not disheartened, however, he determined
that Fangs could be trained, and that he would train him.
These, and such like employment, afforded us the rest and recreation we
required while engaged in the laborious task of stair-case building.
Among my minor occupations I applied myself to the improvement of our can-
dles. Though the former batch had greatly delighted us at first, yet we were soon
obliged to acknowledge that the light they gave was imperfect, and their ap-
pearance was unsightly; my wife, too, begged me to find some substitute for the
threads of our cotton neck-ties, which I had previously used as wicks. To give
the proper shape and smoothness to the candles, I determined to use the
bamboo moulds I had prepared. My first idea was to pour the wax in at the
end of the mould, and then when the candles were cooled to slip them out; but I
was soon convinced that this plan would not succeed. I therefore determined
to divide the moulds lengthwise, and then, having greased them well, we
might pour the melted wax into the two halves bound tightly together, and
so be able to take out the candles when cool without injuring them. The
wicks were my next difficulty, and as the mother positively refused to allow
us to devote our ties and handkerchiefs for the purpose, I took a piece of in-
flammable wood from a tree, a native of the Antilles, which I thought would
serve our purpose; this I cut into long slips, and fixed in the centres of the
moulds. My wife, too, prepared some wicks from the fibres of the karata tree,
Water roof Boots. 83
which she declared would beat mine completely out of the field. We put them
to the proof.
On a large fire we placed a pot, in which we prepared our wax mixture-half
bees' wax and half wax from the candle-berries. The moulds, carefully prepared
-half with karate fibre, and half with wooden splint wicks-stood on their ends
in a tub of cold water, ready to receive the wax. They were filled; the wax
cooled; the candles taken out and subjected to the criticism of all hands.
When night drew on, they were formally tested. The decision was unanimous:
neither gave such a good light as those with the cotton wicks; but even my
wife declared that the light from mine was far preferable to that emitted by
hers, for the former, though rather flaring, burned brilliantly, while the latter
gave out such a feeble and flickering flame that it was almost useless.
I then turned shoemaker, for I had promised myself a pair of waterproof
boots, and now determined to make them.
Taking a pair of socks, I filled them with sand, and then coated them over
with a thin layer of clay to form a convenient mould; this was soon hardened
in the sun, and was ready for use. Layer after layer of caoutchouc I brushed
over it, allowing each layer to dry before the next was put on, until at length I
considered that the shoes were of sufficient thickness. I dried them, broke out
the clay, secured with nails a strip of buffalo-hide to the soles, brushed that over
with caoutchouc, and I had a pair of comfortable, durable, respectable-looking
I was delighted; orders poured in from all sides, and soon every one in the
family was likewise provided for.
One objection to Falconhurst was the absence of any spring close by, so that
the boys were obliged to bring water daily from the stream; and this involving
no little trouble, it was proposed that we should carry the water by pipes from
the stream to our present residence. A dam had to be thrown across the river
some way up-stream, that the water might be raised to a sufficient height to
run to Falconhurst. From the reservoir thus made we led the water down by
pipes into the turtle's shell, which we placed near our dwelling, and from which
the superfluous water flowed off through the hole made in it by Fritz's harpoon.
This was an immense convenience, and we formally inaugurated the trough by
washing thmTein a whole sack of potatoes. Thus day after day brought its own
work, and day after day saw that work completed. We had no time to be idle,
or to lament our separation from our fellow creatures.
One morning, as we were completing our spiral staircase, and giving it such
finish as we were capable of, we were suddenly alarmed by hearing a most terrific
noise, the roaring or bellowing of a wild beast; so strange a sound was it, that
I could not imagine by what animal it was uttered.
Jack thought it perhaps a lion, Fritz hazarded a gorilla, while Ernest gave it
as his opinion, and I thought it possible that he was right, that it was a hymna.
Whatever it is," said I, we must prepare to receive it; up with you all to
the nest while I secure the door."
Then arming the dogs with their collars, I sent them out to protect the
animals below, closed the door, and joined my family. Every gun was loaded,
every eye was upon the watch. The sound drew nearer, and then all was still;
nothing was to be seen. I determined to descend and reconnoitre, and Fritz and
I carefully crept down; with our guns at full cock we glided amongst the trees;
noiselessly and quickly we pushed on further and further; suddenly, close by,
we heard the terrific sound again. Fritz raised his gun, but almost as quickly
again dropped it, and burst into a hearty fit of laughter. There was no mistaking
those dulcet tones-lhe-haw, he-haw, he-haw,-resounded through the forest, and
our ass braying his approach right merrily appeared in sight. To our surprise,
however, our friend was not alone: behind him trotted another animal, an ass
no doubt, but slim and graceful as a horse. We watched their movements
"Fritz," I whispered, "that is an onager. Creep back to Falconhurst and
bring me a piece of cord-quietly now!"
84 The Swiss F.:".: Robinson.
While he was gone, I cut a bamboo fo.I i.t ;i halfway down to form a pair of
pincers, which I knew would be' of use to me should I get near the animal. Fritz
soon returned with the cord, and I. was glad to observe also brought
some oats and salt. We made one end of'the cord fast to a tree, and at
the other end made a running noose. Silently we watched the animals,
as they approached, quietly browsing; Fritz then rose, holding in one
hand the noose, and in the other some oats and salt. The ass seeing his
favourite food thus held out, advanced to take it; Fritz allowed him to do so,
and he was soon munching contentedly. The stranger, on seeing Fritz, started
back; but finding her companion show no signs of alarm, was reassured, and
soon approached sniffing, and was about to take some of the tempting food. In
a moment the noose left Fritz's adroit hand and fell round her neck; with a
single bound she sprang backwards the full length of the cord, the noose drew
tight, and she fell to the earth half strangled. I at once ran up, loosened the
rope and replaced it by a halter; and placing the pincers upon her nose, secured
her by two cords fastened between two trees, and then left her to recover herself.
Everyone hastened up to examine the beautiful animal as she rose to the
ground and cast fiery glances around. She lashed out with her heels on every
side; and, giving vent to angry .snorts, struggled violently to get free. All her
endeavours were vain: the cords were stout, and after a while she quieted down
and stood exhausted and quivering. I then approached: she suffered me to lead
her to the roots of ouit tree, which for the present formed our stables, and there I
tied her up close to the donkey, who was likewise prevented from playing truant.
Next morning I found the onager after her night's rest as wild as ever, and as
I looked at the handsome creature I almost despaired of ever taming her proud
spirit. Every expedient was tried, and at length, when the animal was subdued
by hunger, I thought I might venture to mount her; and having given her the
strongest curb and shackled her feet, I attempted to do so. She was as unruly
as ever, and as a last expedient I resolved to adopt a plan which, though cruel,
-v. I knew attended with wonderful success by the American Indians, by whom
S;. practised. Watching a favourable opportunity, I sprang upon the onager's
back, and seizing her long ear in my teeth, in spite of her kicking and plunging,
bit it through. The result was marvellous, the animal ceased plunging, and,
quivering violently, stood stock still. From that moment w ee were r masters,
the children mounted her one after the other, and she carried them obediently
and quietly. Proud, indeed, did I feel as I watched this animal, which natu-
ralists and travellers have declared to be beyond the power of man to tame,
guided hither and thither by my youngest son.
Additions to our poultry yard reminded me of the necessity of providing some
substantial shelter for our animals before the rainy season came on ; three broods
of chickens had been successfully hatched, and the little creatures, forty in all,
were my wife's pride and delight. We began by making a roof over the vaulted
roots of our tree, forming the framework of bamboo canes which we laid close
together and bound tightly down; others we fixed below as supports. The inter-
stices were filled up with clay and moss; and coating the whole over with a
mixture of tar and lime-water, we obtained a firm balcony, and a capital roof im-
pervious to the severest fall of rain. I ran a light rail round the balcony to give
it a more ornamental appearance, and below divided the building into several
compartments. Stables, poultry-yard, hay and provision lofts, dairy, kitchen,
larder, and dining-hall were united under one roof.
Our winter-quarters were now completed, and we had but to store them with
food. Day after day we worked, bringing in provisions of every description.
As we were one evening returning from gathering potatoes, it struck me that
we should take in a store of acorns; and sending the two younger boys home
with their mother and the cart, I took a large canvas bag, and with Fritz and
Ernest, the former mounted on his onager, and the latter carrying his little
favourite, Knip, made a detour towards the Acorn wood.
, We reached the spot, tied Lightfoot to a neighboring tree, and began rapidly
to fill the sack. As we were thus engaged, Knip sprang suddenly into a bush
New Zealand Flax. 85
close by, from which, a moment afterwards, issued such strange cries that Ernest
followed to see what could be the matter.
"Come !" he shouted; "come and help me! I've got a couple of birds and
their eggs. Quick! Ruffedgrouse !"
We hurried to the spot. There was Ernest with a fluttering, screaming bird
in either hand; while, with his foot, he was endeavouring to prevent his greedy
little monkey from seizing the eggs. We quickly tied the legs of the birds, and
removing the eggs from the nest, placed them in Ernest's hat; while he gathered
some of the long, broad grass, with which the nest was woven, and which grew
luxuriantly around, for Franz to play at sword-drill with. We then loaded the
onager with the acorns, and moved homewards. The eggs I covered carefully
with dry moss, that they might be kept warm, and as soon.as possible I handed
them over to my wife, who managed the mother so cleverly that she induced her
to return to the eggs, and in a few days, to our great delight, we had fifteen
beautiful little Canadian chicks.
Franz was greatly pleased with the swords his brother brought him ; but
having no small companion on whom to exercise his valour, he amused himself
for a short time in hewing down imaginary foes, and then cut the reeds in slips,
and plaited them to form 1-'ip for.Lightfoot. The leaves seemed so pliable and
strong, that I examined rl ... c.. see to what further use they might be put.
Their tissue was composed of long silky-fibres. A sudden thought struck me-
this must be New Zealand flax. I could not rest till I had announced this in-
valuable discovery to my wife. She was no less delighted than I- was.
S"Bring me the leaves! she exclaimed. "Oh, what a delightful discovery !
No one shall now be clothed in rags; just make me a spindle, and you shall soon
have shirts tiand stockings and trousers, all good home-spun! Quick, Friz, and
bring your mother more leaves!"
We could not help smiling at her eager zeal; but Fritz and Ernest sprang on
their steeds, and soon the onager and buffalo were galloping home again, each
laden with a great bundle of flax. The boys dismounted and deposited their
offering at their mother's feet.
"Capital!" she exclaimed. "I shall now show you that I am not at all
behindhand in ingenuity. This must be retted, carded, spun and woven, and
then with scissors, needle, and thread I will make you any article of clothing you
We decided that Flamingo Marsh would be the best spot for the operation of
steeping or getting" the flax, and next morning we set out thither; the cart
drawn by the ass, and laden with the bundles, between which sat Franz and
Knip, while the rest of us followed with spades and hatchets. I described to my
boys as we went along the process of getting, and explained to them how steeping
the flax leaves destroys the useless membrane, while the strong fibres remain.
As we were employed in making beds for the flax and placing it in them, we
observed several nests of the Flamingo. These are most curiously and skilfully
made of glutinous clay, so strong that they can neither be overturned nor washed
away. They are formed in the shape of blunted cones, and placed point down-
wards; at the upper and broader end is built a little platform to contain I: .
on which the female bird sits, with her long legs in the water on either side,
until the little birds are hatched and can take to the water. For a fortnight we
left the flax to steep, and then taking it out and drying it thoroughly in the sun,
stored it for future use at Falconhurst.
Daily did we load our cart with provisions to be brought to our winter-
quarters: manioc, potatoes, cocoa-nuts, sweet acorns, sugar-canes, were all col-
lected and stored in abundance-for grumbling thunder, lowering skies, and
sharp showers warned us that we had Ino time to lose. Our corn was sowed, our
animals housed, our provisions stored, when down came the rain.
To continue in our nest we found impossible, and we were obliged to retreat to
the trunk, where we.carried such of our domestic furniture as might have
been injured by the damp. Our dwelling was indeed crowded: the animals
and, provisions below, and ou beds.and household goods around us, hemmed us
86 The Swiss Family Robinson.
in on every side; by degrees, by dint of patience and better packing, we obtained
sufficient room to work and lie down in; by degrees, too, we became accustomed
to the continual noise of the animals and the smell of the stables. The smoke
from the fire, which we were occasionally obliged to light, was not agreeable;
but in time even that seemed to become more bearable.
To make more space, we turned such animals as we had captured, and who
therefore might be imagined to know how to shift for themselves, outside during
the daytime, bringing them under the arched roots only at night. To perform
this duty Fritz and I used to sally forth every evening, and as regularly every
evening did we return soaked to the skin. To obviate this, the mother, who
feared these continual wettings might injure our health, contrived waterproofs:
she brushed on several layers of caoutchouc over stout shirts, to which she
attached hoods; she then fixed to these duck trousers, and thus prepared for
each of us a complete waterproof suit, clad in which we might brave the severest
In spite of our endeavours to keep ourselves busy, the time dragged heavily.
Our mornings were occupied in tending the animals; the boys amused themselves
with their pets, and assisted me in the manufacture of carding-combs and a
spindle for the mother. The combs I made with nails, which I placed head-
downwards on a sheet of tin about an inch wide; holding the nails in their
proper positions I poured solder round their heads to fix them to the tin, which
I then folded down on either side of them to keep them perfectly firm. In the
evening, when our room was illuminated with wax candles, I wrote a journal of
all the events which had occurred since our arrival in this foreign land; and,
while the mother was busy with her needle and Ernest making sketches of birds,
beasts, and flowers with which he had met during the past months, Fritz and
Jack taught little Franz to read.
Week after week rolled by. Week after week saw us still close prisoners.
Incessant rain battered down above us, constant gloom hung over the desolate
Spring agiin-Wn iT-in to hew a cave-Jack makes a discovery--We drive the foul air
from i. .....- i I. mother and her boys join us-We explore the cave-Fit it up
as our winter-quarters-The Herring-banl --.. r. i,--, I ..... on a grand
scale-Isinglass and caviare-We visit our i ,.r ,r .. --. .. i. 1, r, to establish
a colony-The building of Woodlands "-Jack and Fritz return to Falconhurst
for provisions-Ernest and I explore-A "beast with a bill "-We build a canoe-
Franz undertakes the education of Grumble-We continue our work at the cave-
Carpet-making-Thanksgiving-day-A r ..il..;. salute-Athletics and shooting-
Prize-giving-Manufacture of bird-lime --I i, and Jack ride off for caoutchouc-
Shoot a Crane and Badger-Find "Woodlands turned upside down by monkeys -
THre winds at length were lulled, the sun shot his brilliant rays through the
riven clouds, the rain ceased to 1il- .1-[,'r: had come. No prisoners set at
liberty could have felt more joy th, .- -. iI ,, we stepped forth from our winter
abode, refreshed our eyes with the pleasant verdure around us, and our ears
with the merry songs of a thousand happy birds, and drank in the pure balmy
air of spring.
Our plantations were thriving vigorously. The seed we had sown was shoot-
ing through the moist earth. All nature was refreshed.
Our nest was our first care; filled with leaves and broken and torn by the
A Cavern Discovered. 87
wind, it looked indeed dilapidated. We worked hard, and in a few days it was
again habitable. My wife begged that I would now start her with the flax, and
as early as possible I built a drying-oven, and then prepared it for her use; I
also, after some trouble, manufactured a beetle-reel and spinning-wheel, and she
and Franz were soon hard at work, the little boy reeling off the thread his
I was anxious to visit Tentholm, for I feared that much of our precious stores
might have suffered. Fritz and I made an excursion thither. The damage done
to Falconhurst was as nothing compared to the scene that awaited us. The tent
was blown to the ground, the canvas torn to rags, the provisions soaked, and two
casks of powder utterly destroyed. We immediately spread such things as we.
hoped yet to preserve in the sun to dry. The pinnace was safe, but our faithful
tub-boat was dashed in pieces, and the irreparable damage we had sustained
made me resolve to contrive some safer and more stable winter-quarters before
the arrival of the next rainy season. Fritz proposed that we should hollow out
a cave in the rock, and though the difficulties such an undertaking would pre-
sent appeared almost insurmountable, I yet determined to make the attempt; we
might not, I thought, hew out a cavern of sufficient size to serve as a room, but
we might at least make a cellar for the more valuable and perishable of our
Some days afterwards we left Falconhurst with the cart laiden with a cargo of
spades, hammers, chisels, pickaxes and crowbars, and began our undertaking.
On the smooth face of the perpendicular rock I drew out in chalk the size of the
proposed entrance, and then, with minds bent on success, we battered away.
Six days of hard and incessant toil made but little impression; I do not think
that the hole would have been a satisfactory shelter for even Master Knip: but
we still did not despair, and were presently rewarded by coming to softer and
more yielding substance; our work progressed, and our minds were relieved.
On the tenth day, as our persevering blows were falling heavily, Jack, who
was working diligently with a hammer and crowbar, shouted,-
Gone, father! Fritz, my bar has gone through the mountain!'
"Run round and get it," laughed Fritz; "perhaps it has dropped into
Europe-you must not loose a good crowbar."
But, really, it is through; it went right through the rock; I heard it crash
down inside. Oh, do come and see!" he shouted excitedly.
We sprang to his side, and I thrust the handle of my hammer into the hole he
spoke of; it met with no opposition, I could turn it in any direction I chose.
Fritz handed me a long pole; I tried the depth with that. Nothing could I
feel. A thin wall, then, was all that intervened between us and a great
With a shout of joy, the boys battered vigorously at the rock; piece by piece
fell, and soon the hole was large enough for us to enter. I stepped near the
aperture, and was about to make a further examination, when a sudden rush of
poisonous air turned me giddy, and shouting to my sons to stand off, I leaned
against the rock.
When I came to myself I explained to them the danger of approaching any
cavern or other place where the air has for a long time been stagnant. "Unless
air is incessantly renewed it becomes vitiated," I said, and fatal to those who
breathe it. The safest way of restoring it to its original state is to subject it to
the action of fire, a few handfuls of blazing hay thrown into this hole may, if
the place be small, sufficiently purify the air within to allow us to enter without
danger." We tried the experiment. The flame was extinguished the instant
it entered. Though bundles of blazing grass were thrown in, no difference was
I saw that we must apply some more efficacious remedy, and sent the boys for
a chest of signal-rockets we had brought from the wreck. We let fly some
dozens of these fiery serpents, which went whizzing in, and disappeared at ap-
parently a vast distance from us. Some flew like radiant meteors round, lighted
up the mighty circumference and displayed, as by a magician's wand, a sparkling
88 The Swiss Family Robinson.
glittering roof. They looked like avenging dragons driving a foul malignant
fiend out of a beauteous palace.
We waited for a little while after these'experiments, and I then again threw
in lighted hay. It burned clearly; the air was purified.
Fritz and I enlarged the opening, while Jack, springing on his buffalo, thun-
dered away to Falconhurst to bear the great and astonishing news to his
Great must have .been the effect on Jack's eloquence on' those at home, for
the timbers of the bridge were soon again resounding under the swift but
heavy tramp of his steed;
and he was quickly fol-
S. l 1. lowed by the rest of our
F n!I i. r. e cart.
S111 .. in the high-
:. oest state of excitement.
"t" 'Jack had stored in the
i cart all the candles he
Y. could find, and we now,
1-' ,, these, shoul-
li dered our arms and en-
t' tered. I led the way,
sounding the ground as
I advanced with a long'
pole, that we might not
fall unexpectedly into
i.t.- t. h6le or chasmn.
,: we marched-
the another, the boys,
and even the dogs seem-
ing overawed with the
grandeur and beauty of
Sthe scene. We were i
a grotto of diamonds-a
v ast cave of glittering
crystal; the candles re-
flected on the walls a
golden light, bright as
the stars of Heaven,
while great crystal pil-
lars rose from the floor
like mighty trees, min-
Sgling their branches
high above us and droop-
ing" in hundreds of
stalactites, which spirk-
led and glittered with
TIE rOOK-SALT CAVERN. all the colours of the
The floo. .. ci .... 1.1. was fornmsd of hard, -i; .... c Ih t l,,t
I sawe at .. 11. .....r 1 i 1, take up our abole ....., l ..
- 1.1- :, feat of danger from damp.
i ...... the appearance of the brilliant crystals round about us, I suspected
I tasted a piece. This was a cavern of rock-salt. There was no doubt about
it-here was an unlimited supply of the best and purest' salt i But one thing
detracted from my entire satisfaction and delight-large crystals lay scattered
here and there, which, detached from the roof, had fallen to the ground; this,
if apt to recur, would keep us in constant4 prril I oramined some of the masses
and discovered that they had been all n., ~til -I p.i'1, r ,, and therefore o6n-
The Cavern fitted u.' 89
Secluded that the concussion of the air, occasioned by the rockets, had caused their
fall. To satisfy ourselves, however, that there were no more pieces tottering
above us, we discharged our guns from the entrance, and watched the effect.
Nothing more fell-our magnificent abode was safe.
We returned to Falconhurst with minds full of wonder at our new discovery,
and plans for turning it to the best possible advantage.
Nothing was now talked of but the new house, how it should be arranged,
how it should be fitted up. The safety and comfort of Falconhurst, which had
at first seemed so great, now dwindled awayin our opinion to nothing; it should
be kept up we decided merely as a summer residence, while our cave should be
formed into a winter house and impregnable castle. Our attention was now
fully occupied with this new house. Light and air were to be admitted, so we
hewed a row of windows in the rock, where we fitted the window-cases we had
brought from the officers' cabins. We brought the door, too, from Falconhurst,
and fitted it in the aperture we had made for the opening in the trunk of the
tree, which I determined to conceal with bark, as less likely to attract the notice
of wild beasts or savages should they approach during our absence. The cave
itself we divided into four parts; in front, a large compartment into which the
door opened, subdivided into our sitting, eating, and sleeping apartments: the
right-hand division, containing our kitchen and workshop, and the left our
stables; behind all this, in the dark recess of the cave, was our storehouse and
i..-v.] .....- ; ... Having already undergone one rainy season, we knew well
I,. ,i .i. !.. r ,..i thought of many useful arrangements in the laying out of
our dwelling. We did rnt intprl to be again smoke-dried; we, therefore, con-
trived a properly built r -,i r ... and chimney; our stable arrangements, too,
were better, and plenty of space was left in our workshop that we should not be
hampered in even the most extensive ..-*i... '..
Our frequent residence at Tentholm revealed to us several important ad-
vantages which we had not foreseen. Numbers of splendid turtles often came
ashore to deposit their eggs in the sand, and their delicious flesh afforded us
many a sumptuous meal. When more than one of these creatures appeared at
a time, we used to cut off their retreat to the sea, and, turning them on their
backs, fasten them to a stake, driven in close by the water's edge, by a cord
passed through a hole in their shell. We thus had fresh turtle continually
within our reach; for the animals throve well thus secured, and appeared in as
good condition, after having been kept thus for several weeks, as others when
freshly caught. Lobsters, crabs, and mussels also abounded on the shore. But
this was not all: an additional surprise awaited us.
As we were one morning approaching Tentholm, we were attracted by a most
curious phenomenon. The waters out to sea appeared agitated by some unseen
movement, and as they heaved and boiled, their surface, struck by the beams of
the morning sun, seemed illuminated by flashes of fire. Over the water where
this disturbance was taking place hovered hundreds of birds, screaming loudly,
which ever and anon would dart downwards, some plunging beneath the water,
some 1.I;,,,,i... !he surface. .Then again they would rise and resume their
harsh i- t.: shining, sparkling mass then rolled onwards, and approached
in a direct line our bay, followed by the feathered flock above. We hurried
down to the shore to further examine this strange sight.
I was convinced as we approached that it was a shoal or bani .-f b.lriri'?
No sooner did I give utterance to my conjecture, than I s ,l .. bL. a
host of questions concerning this herring-bank, what it was, and what occa-
A herring-bank," I said, "is composed of an immense number of herrings
swimming together. I can scarcely express to you the huge size of this living
bank, which extends over a great area many fathoms deep. It is followed by
numbers of great ravenous fish, who devour quantities of the herrings, while
above hover birds, as you have just seen, ready to pounce down on stragglers
near the top. To escape these enemies, the shoal makes for the nearest shore,
Sand seeks safety in those shallows where the large fish cannot follow." But here
90 The Swiss Family Robinson.
it meets with a third great enemy. It may escape from the fish, and elude the
vigilance of sharp-sighted birds, but from the ingenuity of man it can find no
escape. In one year millions of these fish are caught, and yet the roes of only a
small number would be sufficient to supply as many fish again.
Soon our fishery was in operation. Jack and Fritz stood in the water with
baskets, and baled out the fish, as one bales water with a bucket, throwing them
to us on the shore. As quickly as possible we cleaned them, and placed them in
casks with salt, first a layer of salt, and then a layer of herrings, and so on, until
we had ready many casks of pickled fish.
As the barrels were filled, we closed them carefully, and rolled them away to
the coal vaults at the back of our cave.
Our good fortune, however, was not to end here. A day after the herring
fishery was over, and the shoal had left our bay, a great number of seals
appeared, attracted by the refuse of the herrings which we had thrown into the
sea. Though I feared they would not be suitable for our table, we yet secured a
score or two for the sake of their skins and fat. The skins we drew carefully off
for harness and clothing, and the fat we boiled down for oil, which we put aside
in casks f.' I ,i.A'io_ soap-making, and burning in lamps.
These .... 'i .. interfered for some time with our work at Rock House;
but as soon as possible we again returned to our labour with renewed
I had noticed that the salt crystals had for their base a species of gypsum,
which I knew might be made of great service to us in our building operations as
As an experiment, I broke off some pieces, and, after subjecting them to great
heat, reduced them to powder. The plaster this formed with water was smooth
and white, and as I had then no particular use to which I might put it, I
plastered over some of the herring casks, that I might be perfectly certain that
all air was excluded. The remainder of the casks I left as they were, for I
presently intended to preserve their contents by smoking. To do this, the boys
and I built a small hut of reeds and branches, and then we strung our herrings
on lines across the roof. On the floor we lit a great fire of brushwood and moss,
which threw out a dense smoke, curling in volumes round the fish, and they in
a few days seemed perfectly cured.
About a month after the appearance of the herrings we were favoured by a
visit from other shoals of fish. Jack espied them first, and called to us that a
lot of young whales were off the coast. We ran down and discovered the bay
apparently swarming with great sturgeon, salmon, and trout, all making for the
mouth of Jackal River, that they might ascend it and deposit their spawn
amongst the stones.
Jack was delighted at his discovery.
Here are proper fish he exclaimed; "none of your paltry fry. How do
you preserve these sorts of fish ? Potted, salted, or smoked ? "
"Not so fast," said I, "not so fast; tell me how they are to be caught, and I
will tell you how they are to be cooked."
Oh! I'll catch them fast enough," he replied, and darted off to Rock House.
While I was still puzzling my brains as to how I should set to work. he
returned with his fishing apparatus in hand: a bow and arrow, and a ball of
At the arrow-head he had fastened a barbed spike, and had secured the arrow
to the end of the string. Armed with this weapon, he advanced to the river's
His arrow flew from the bow, and, to my surprise, struck one of the largest
fish in the side.
"Help, father, help! he cried, as the great fish darted off, carrying arrow
and all with it; help or he will pull me into the water."
I ran to his assistance, and together we struggled with the finny monster. He
pulled tremendously, and lashed the water round him; but we held the cord
fast, and he had no chance of escape. Weaker and weaker grew his struggles,
Huge Sturgeons captured. 91
and, at length, exhausted by his exertions and loss of blood, he allowed us to
draw him ashore.
He was a noble prize, and Fritz and Ernest, who came up just as we completed
his capture, were quite envious of Jack's success. Not to be behindhand, they
eagerly rushed off for weapons themselves.
We were soon all in the water, Fritz with a harpoon, Ernest with a rod and
line, and I myself, armed like Neptune, with an irbn trident, or more properly
speaking, perhaps, a pitchfork. Soon the shore was strewn with a goodly
number of the finest fish-monster after monster we drew to land. At length
Fritz, after harpooning a great sturgeon full eight feet long, could not get the
beast ashore; we all went to his assistance, but our united efforts were un-
The buffalo! proposed my wife, and off went Jack for Storm. Storm was
harnessed to the harpoon rope, and soon the monstrous fish lay panting on the
We at length, when we had captured as many fish as we could possibly utilize,
set about cleaning and preparing their flesh. Some we salted, some we dried
like the herrings, some we treated like the tunny of the Mediterranean-we
prepared them in oil. Of the roe of the sturgeon I decided to form caviare, the
great Russian dish. I removed from it all the membranes by which it is sur-
rounded, washed it in vinegar, salted it, pressed out all the moisture caused by
the wet-absorbing properties of the salt, packed it in small barrels and stowed it
away in our storehouse.
I knew that of the sturgeon's bladder the best isinglass is made, so carefully
collecting the air-bladders from all those we had killed, I washed them and
hung them up to stiffen. The outer coat or membrane I then pealed off, cutting
the remainder into strips, technically called staples. These staples I placed in
an iron pot over the fire, and when they had been reduced to a proper consistency
I strained off the glue through a clean cloth, and spread it out on a slab of stone
in thin layers, letting them remain until they were dry. The substance I thus
obtained was beautifully transparent, and promised to serve as an excellent
substitute for glass in our window-frames.
Fortunately, in this beautiful climate little or no attention was necessary to
the kitchen garden, the seeds sprang up and flourished without apparently the
slightest regard for the time or season of the year. Peas, beans, wheat, barley,
rye, and Indian corn, seemed constantly ripe, while cucumbers, melons, and all
sorts of other vegetables grew luxuriantly. The success of our garden at
Tontholm encouraged me to hope that my experiment at Falconhurst had not
failed, and one morning we started to visit the spot.
As we passed by the field from which the potatoes had been dug, we found it
covered with barley, wheat, rye and peas in profusion.
I turned to the mother in amazement.
Where has this fine crop sprung from F said I.
"From the earth," she replied, laughing, "where Franz and I sowed the
seed I brought from the wreck. The ground was ready tilled by you and the
boys; all we had to do was to scatter the seed."
I was delighted at the sight, and it augured well, I thought, for the success
of my maize plantation. We hurried to the field. The crop had indeed grown
well, and, what was more, appeared to be duly appreciated. A tremendous
flock of feathered thieves rose as we approached. Amongst them Fritz espied a
few ruffed.grouse, and quick as thought, unhooding his "srl1 he started him off
in chase, then sprung on his onager and followed at full ..ll. His noble bird
marked out the finest grouse, and, soaring high above it. stooped and bore his
prey to the ground. Fritz was close at hand, and springing through the bushes
he saved the bird from death, hooded the eagle's eyes, and returned triumph-
antly. Jack had not stood idle, fo 1;i..;.11 his pet Fangs, he had started him
among some quails who remained q1.... H. field, and to my surprise the jackal
secured some dozen of the birds, bringing them faithfully to his master's feet.
We then turned our steps towards Falconhurst, where we were refreshed by a
92 The Swiss- Family -Robinson.
most delicious drink the mother prepared for us; the stems of the young Indian
corn crushed, strained, and mixed with water and the juice of the sugar-cane.
We then made preparations for an excursion the following day, for I wished
to establish a sort of semi-civilized farm at some distance from Falconhurst,
where we might place some of our animals which had become too numerous with
our limited means to supply them with food. In the large cart, to which we
harnessed the buffalo, cow, and ass, we placed a dozen fowls, four young pigs,
two couple of sheep, and as many goats, and a pair of hens and one cock grouse.
Fritz led the way on his onager, and by a new track we forced a passage through
the woods and tall grasses towards Cape Disappointment.
The difficult march was at length over, and we emerged from the forest upon
a large plain covered with curious little bushes; the branches of these little
shrubs and the ground about them were covered with pure white flakes.
"Snow! snow exclaimed Franz; "Oh, mother, come down from the cart
and play snowballs. This is jolly; much better than the ugly rain."
I was not surprised at the boy's mistake, for indeed the flakes did look like
snow; but before I could express my opinion, Fritz declared that the plant must
be a kind of dwarf cotton-tree. We approached nearer and found he was right
-soft fine wool enclosed in pods, and still hanging on the bushes or lying on the
ground, abounded in every direction. We had indeed discovered this valuable
plant. The mother was charmed; and gathering a great quantity in three
capacious bags, we resumed our journey.
Crossing the cotton-field, we ascended a pretty wooded bill. The view from the
summit was glorious: luxuriant grass at our feet stretching down the hill-side,
dotted here and there with shady trees, among which gushed down a sparlding
brook, while be].." i tl.: ,.1b green forest, with the sea beyond.
What better i' tr..u .:.:.,l.1 we hope to find for our new farm? Pasture,
water, shade, c .I .bl- i. i .... here.
We pitched our tent, I....1 r.u fireplace, and, leaving the mother to prepare
our repast, Fritz and I selected a spot for the erection of our shed. We soon
found a group of trees so situated that the trunks-would serve as posts for our
intended building. Thither we carried all our tools, and then, as the day was
far advanced, enjoyed our supper, and lay down upon most comfortable beds
which the mother had prepared for us with the cotton.
The group of trees we had selected was exactly suited to our purpose, for it
formed a regular rectilinear figure, the greatest side of which faced the sea. I
cut deep mortices in the trunks about ten feet from the ground, and again ten
feet higher up to form a second storey. In these mortices I inserted beams,
thus forming a framework for my building, and then, making a roof of laths, I
overlaid it with bark, which I stripped from a neighboring tree, and fixed with
acacia thorns, and which would effectually shoot off any amount of rain.
While clearing up the scraps of bark and other rubbish for fuel for our fire, I
noticed a peculiar smell, and stooping down I picked up pieces of the bark, some
of which, to my great surprise, I found was that of the terebinth tree, and the
rest that of the American fir. The goats, too, made an important discovery
amongst the same heap, for we found them busily routing out pieces of
cinnamon, a most delicious and aromatic spice.
From the fir," said I to the boys, we get turpentine and tar, and thus it
is that the fir tree becomes such a valuable article of commerce. So we may
look forward to preparing pitch for our yacht with tar and oil, you know, and
cart-grease, too, with tar and fat. I do not know that you will equally
appreciate the terebinth tree; a gum issues from incisions in the bark which
hardens in the sun, and becomes as transparent as amber; when burned it gives
forth a most delicious perfume, and when dissolved in spirits of wine, forms a
beautiful transparent varnish."
The completion of our new farm-house occupied us several days, we wove
strong lianas and other creepers together to form the walls to the height of
about six feet; the rest, up to the roof, we formed merely of a lattice-work of
laths to admit both air and light. Within we divided the house into three
Knip finds Ripe Strawberries. 93
arts;'one sub-divided into stalls for'the animals; a second fitted with perches
fr the birds, and a third, simply furnished with a'rough table and benches, to
serve as a sleeping-apartment for ourselves, -when we should find it necessary to
pay the place a visit; In a short tiine rh- d'---l:" lu .t -..r ,
arranged, and as we daily filled the feedin -rtr...i 1h "1 tri f...... rIt.. ', i t [i
best liked, they showed no inclination to desert the spot we. had -chosen for
Yet, hard as we had worked, we found that the provisions we had brought
with us, would be ex-
hausted before we could ,
hope to be able to leave i
the farm. I therefore
despatched Jack and
Fritz for fresh supplies.
During their absence,
Ernest and I made .a
short excursion .in the
neighbourhood, that we
might know more ex-
actly the character of
the country near. our __
Passing over a brook
which flowed towards
the wall of-rooks, we. -
reached a large 'marsh,
and as we walked round
it, I noticed with delight
that it was covered with
the rice plant growing
wild in the greatest pro-
fusion. Here and there
only were there any ripe .-
plants, and from these
rose a number of ruffed
grouse, at which both ii.
Ernest and I let fly.
Two fell, and FPangs,
who was with us,
brought them to our
feet.- As we advanced,
Knip. skipped from the
back of his steed Juno and
began, to regale himself
on some fruit, at a short
distance off; we followed T- E B0ILDIIQ Q-ODIADS. -7 .
the little animal and
fml d hhn1 d irin. I .l .. I : 11 _. -l 11 "1.'' I- i l Ii :!-- l. .
his pilfering paws with 1, i. l r .. n! .--. ..
I then took a sample of the rice seeds to shdw: the nmothlr, and -.. ,.,r i
our journey: ...
Presently we reached the [ I...i. r: i i : ,i -1c; "-. I i :.
beyond the swamp.: -The nt .ci '-,.,' .. ,_ .iu r- -.il-- ..hn iJ,
us, and stiI1 more so, the sight .. .,,t.1,- 1 ..I I id 1. 1i '1 ", ,.... r h, ,',-!: V .
onl the glassy surface, in 11 .v rti -t ,t.. 1, .1 ,,.1 .. .. u! rU ..i .mI I'.
were reflected as in a 2min.. It ,' .. .,t, "- ,''h th. .1,,1,,[ b ,
old- and young swimming L... -hi i_ th.: I.r,.,-! ..r- ii .::,1 0. t IA i., .-*king
their food,:and.pursuing-one ,n.tihe! Il~,t.fJil-I i, the IN t'd.
94 The Swiss Family Robinson.
I could not think of breaking in upon their happy beautiful existence by
firing among them, but our dog Juno was by no means so considerate; for all at
once I heard a plunge, and saw her drag out of the water a most peculiar-d6oking
creature, something like a small otter, but not above twenty-two inches in
length, which she would have torn to pieces, had we not hurried up and taken
it from her.
This curious little animal was of a soft dark brown colour, the fur being of a
lighter shade under the body; its feet were furnished with large claws, and also
completely webbed, the head small, with deeply set eyes and ears, and terminating
in a broad flat bill like that of a duck.
This singularity seemed to us so droll that we both laughed heartily, feeling
at the same time much puzzled to know what sort of animal it could possibly be.
For want of a better, we gave it the name of the "Beast with a Bill," and
Ernest willingly undertook to carry it, that it might be stuffed and kept as a
After this we returned to the farm, thinking our messengers might soon
arrive, and sure enough, in about a quarter of an hour, Fritz and Jack made
their appearance at a brisk trot, and gave a circumstantial account of their
.I was pleased to see that they had fulfilled their orders intelligently, carrying
out my intentions in the spirit and not blindly to the letter.
Next morning we quitted the farm (which we named Woodlands), after
providing amply for the wants of the animals, sheep, goats, and poultry, which
we left there.
Shortly afterwards, on entering a wood, we found it tenanted by an enormous
number of apes, who instantly assailed us with showers of fir-cones, uttering
hideous and angry cries, and effectually checking our progress, until we put
them to flight by a couple of shots, which not a little astonished their
Fritz picked up some of their missiles, and, showing them to me, I recognized
the cone of the stone-pine.
By all means gather some of these cones, boys," said I; you will find the
kernel has a pleasant taste, like almonds, and from it we can, by pressing,
obtain an excellent oil. Therefore I should like to carry some home with us."
A hill, which seemed to promise a good view from its summit, next attracted
my notice, and, on climbing it, we were more than repaid for the exertion by
the extensive and beautiful prospect which lay spread before our eyes. The
situation altogether was so agreeable, that here also I resolved to make a
settlement, to be visited occasionally, and, after resting awhile and talking the
matter over, we set to work to build a cottage such as we had lately finished at
Woodlands. Our experience there enabled us to proceed quickly with the
work, and in a few days the rustic abode was completed, and received, by
Ernest's choice, the grand name of Prospect Hill.
My chief object in undertaking this expedition had been to discover some tree
from whose bark I could hope to make a useful light boat or canoe. Hitherto I
had met with none at all fit for my purpose, but, not despairing of success, I
began, when the cottage was built, to examine carefully the surrounding woods,
and, after considerable trouble, came upon two magnificent tall straight trees,
the bark of which seemed something like that of the birch. Selecting one
whose trunk was, to a great height, free from branches, we attached to one
of the lower of these boughs the rope ladder we had with us, and, Fritz
ascending it, cut the bark through in a circle ; I did the same at the foot of the
tree, and then, from between the circles, we took a narrow perpendicular slip
of bark entirely out, so that we could introduce the proper tools by which
gradually to loosen and raise the main part, so as finally to separate it from the
tree uninjured and entire. This we found possible, because the bark was moist
and flexible. Great care and exertion were necessary, as the bark became
detached, to support it, until the whole was ready to be let gently down upon
the grass. This seemed a great achievement; but our work was by no means ended