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|Chapter I.||The soldier's return -- Marriage -- Birth of our hero -- His education -- He loses his father -- Untractableness and bad disposition of Felix -- He wishes to go to sea -- His Mother is forced to consent to it -- Journey in the Diligence -- Reception -- Embarkation -- Conduct of Felix on board -- He takes care of Castor -- Tempest -- Shipwreck -- The Grateful Dog saves his Master..|
|Chapter II.||Feelings and gratitude of Felix -- His grief and fears -- He suffers hunger and thirst -- Murmurs -- Unlooked-for succour -- The subterranean road -- The plain and the brook -- The bird's eggs -- Felix lights a fire -- The gourd tree -- The agouti -- Felix sleeps in a tree -- The river -- The mountain -- Hopes destroyed -- Choice of a place of abode.|
|Chapter III.||The potatoes -- The sweet acorns -- The cocoa tree -- Construction of a hut -- Felix eats roast meat -- The door of the roof -- The turtle's eggs -- Salt -- The good night's rest -- Subject of uneasiness -- Trust in God -- Intention to take a journey -- Departure -- The cocoa nuts -- The goats -- Felix catches one -- He returns to his dwelling.|
|Chapter IV.||The park of goats -- increase of family -- the karatas -- Felix is in want of tinder -- grief -- consolations -- another journey -- The sugar canes -- The citron trees -- Lemonade -- Rice -- Strawberries -- The impenetrable cavern -- Regret of Felix at not being able to enter it -- The chest -- Felix is Unable to open it -- He breaks his knife -- Return to the hut -- The goat's milk -- Agreeable surprize -- Extravagant joy of Felix.|
|Chapter V.||Important occupations -- Felix returns to the cavern A fire -- The chest is opened -- The potatoes burned -- The scollops -- Fortunate discovery -- Felix procures tools -- Castor's successful chase -- Entrance into the cavern -- The window -- The storm -- The chest is broken up -- Fresh discoveries -- The storm has nearly destroyed the hut -- Change of abode.|
|Chapter VI.||The Caravan -- The porcupine -- New shoes -- The harvest -- The fire-place -- The turtle. Ah! what a nice supper! -- Felix thinks of winter -- He fears being troubled with ennui -- He prepares employment for himself-Clothes of skins -- Packthread -- Baskets -- Employment of the mind -- What fine weather! -- Journey to the country-house to drive the flock thither.|
|Chapter VII.||New Journey -- The banana tree -- Curious fishing -- Felix makes a good supper -- The wood of palm trees -- Aha! this is wine -- Nothing wanting at dinner -- The parroquet -- Means of not forgetting how to talk and write -- The ananas -- The hurdle -- Castor is harnessed to it -- How pretty cocoa is! -- The garden.|
|Chapter VIII.||Provisions for winter -- Departure for the great river -- The dwarf palm -- The Miraco, or wax tree -- Quick return to the grotto -- Felix makes tapers -- Employment of the second Winter -- The bow and arrows -- Remorse of Felix -- He weeps in thinking of his mother -- He prays, and is comforted -- Return of Spring -- Progress of the garden -- Felix learns archery -- He makes a table and benches.|
|Chapter IX.||Important enterprise -- Ambition and imprudence -- The dark forest -- What a malicious animal is the ape! -- Combat -- Victory of Felix and Castor -- The storm -- Coco is very much frightened -- Violent wind -- Terrifying noise -- The cassia tree -- The valley and the cascade -- The loxia and its dwelling -- Change of scene -- Felix in want of every thing -- He cannot find his way out, nor protect himself against the rain -- The cavern of death -- The bones -- He is not afraid of any thing -- He buries the bones -- Felix quits the cavern -- He recommences his journey.|
|Chapter X.||Felix has reasoned well -- He retraces the course of the brook -- Hopes -- He will get out -- Joy and gratitude -- The mountain -- Delightful view -- Arrival -- State of the flock -- Oh, how pleasant home is! -- Felix makes new clothes -- Sorrowful meditations -- Consoling comparison -- Increase of stature and strength -- Considerable works -- Departure for the coast -- -Dreadful spectacle -- Consternation -- Curiosity -- Great surprise -- Transports of joy -- Return to the grotto -- Joyful reflections -- Castor becomes acquainted with the new comer.|
|Chapter XI.||Solicitude of Felix for Tommy -- The bath -- The cradle -- The evening walk -- Remembrances -- Inquietude -- Impracticable scheme -- The first stage of infancy -- Journey -- Labours -- The pleasant winter -- Plan of education -- Tommy is clothed -- Good disposition of the little Savage -- He has an animal to ride on -- A family excursion.|
|Chapter XII.||Infantile prattle -- Tempest -- Signals of distress -- Afflicting night to Felix -- They have all perished -- Researches -- Here is a body -- It is a female -- She lives -- Successful cares of Felix -- His joy -- Resolution, &c.|
|Chapter XIII.||History of Susan -- Division of employments -- Here is butter -- Construction of a raft -- Voyage to the vessel -- Felix loads his raft with articles of great utility -- Return -- Dinner served up in proper form -- Carriage home of the effects saved -- Agreeable night.|
|Chapter XIV.||Toilette of Felix and Susan -- Surprize of Tommy -- Increase of riches -- The acacia bower -- Grief of Susan -- Recognition -- Family excursion -- Return -- Winter employments -- The oratory and the covered way -- Piety of the solitaries -- The agreeable winter -- Projects of Felix and Susan -- The casket -- Useless riches.|
|Chapter XV.||Unexpected rencontre -- Reception in the grotto -- Hospitality -- Adventures of the Englishmen -- Offers of service -- Advice of Felix -- The English return on board -- Resignation of the solitaries -- Sir Edward Walter -- Abode on the island -- Departure -- Landing on the Island of St. Christopher -- Generosity of the Captain -- They embark for Plymouth- -- Adieu -- Sir Walter's present to Tommy -- Arrival -- The family goes into France -- Return to the native soil -- The arrangement of affairs -- Happiness of the family.|
The French Cabin Boy
The Authoress of the little French work, entitled "Le Robinson de Douze Ans," has addressed it to her young family, encouraged, she says, by the success attending her former Tales, which, while they contributed to afford amusement, served the higher purpose of correcting their faults, by pointing out the evils resulting from misconduct in the characters held up as beacons for their warning, and encouraging them to emulate the virtues of others, exhibited as examples for their imitation. From similar motives, and in a sincere wish that effects equally happy may be produced in the conduct of the youthful classes of our own community, has originated the endeavour to render the sentiments contained in this interesting little story accessible to those readers who are unacquainted with the original, and to make it acceptable to those who may prefer it in their native language; and should it, in its present dress, be the means of deterring any headstrong youth from setting his own will in opposition to that of an indulgent parent, or of convincing any "fair mother of our isle" of the dangerous consequences to be apprehended from slackening too much the reins of wholesome discipline, the chief end which he had in view will have been attained by the
Louis Francour had for thirty years served his country with honour; his bravery and good conduct had acquired him the esteem of his officers, while his frankness and gaiety had endeared him to his comrades. Covered with wounds, and at the age of forty-six, he began to feel himself in need of repose, and his feeling heart sighed for those tender ties, which, it honouring the man with the title of husband and of father, bestow on him, in the bosom of a beloved family, all the happiness he is capable of enjoying in this world.
Louis arrived at his birth-place with the rank of sergeant. He enjoyed a pension of four hundred francs, with which the king had recompensed his services, and an income of eight hundred left him by his parents. He was received in his native village, situated a league from Brest, with joy and affection. A young and handsome peasant girl did not disdain the offer of his hand, and the laurels which covered the brows of the soldier concealed from her eyes the disparity of their years. This union was propitious. Francour, always satisfied and joyous, because his conscience was pure, wished that all around him should feel pleasure. The happiness of his wife constituted an essential part of his own. Susan was an excellent housewife, kept order and neatness in the house, provided for all the wants of her husband with a tender solicitude, listened with interest to the recital of the battles in which he had been engaged, and when the warrior painted in lively colours the dangers he had been exposed to, Susan folded him in her arms, as if to assure herself of his having escaped them. Soon a new tie was added to strengthen this happy union; the birth of a son crowned the vows of the married pair. "He shall be named Felix," said Francour, "for I hope he will be as fortunate as his father, who would not exchange his lot for that of a king." Felix never quitted the bosom of his mother, except to be received into the arms of Francour, and was lulled to sleep by the tune of a war song, which he hummed to him, while Susan softly rocked this beloved child.
How many projects did this happy couple form for the education of their dear Felix. "I will make him an honest man," said Francoeur, "a good citizen, and a brave defender of his country;" in pronouncing which, a ray of pride sparkled in the eyes of the veteran. "I," replied Susan, "desire above all things, that he should be a good Christian: that will, I hope, accord with what you propose for him." "Perfectly well, my dear wife. I will some day relate to you the history of the valiant Bayard, who was surnamed 'the Knight without fear and without reproach.' You will see whether or not he was a religious character. I think you will be satisfied with the manner of his death, which was that of a true Christian. Many others of our heroes have set us the same example. Inspire our son then with that piety which renders you so amiable, and causes you to find such pleasure in fulfilling your duties."
At five years of age Felix was sent to school; his father superintended his studies, made him every day repeat his lessons, and do, under his inspection, a page of writing: his mother also taught him to read the Evangelists, and to pray to God. His memory and capacity filled his good parents with joy; nevertheless, an extreme heedlessness and giddiness were not his only defects. He showed amongst his playfellows a quarrelsome disposition, which often procured him a beating; and, at eight years of age, he seldom returned home without a black eye or a torn ear; however, he made no complaints of any one, he had taken his revenge, and that satisfied him. Felix would have been a very bad boy if the fear of his father had not restrained him: but the sergeant brought him up with a wise severity, which was but too much counteracted by the excessive tenderness of his mother. It was at this period that an epidemic fever carried off honest Francour from his disconsolate wife, and entirely set free their son from that salutary restraint so necessary to such a disposition as his. From that time he gave himself up entirely to his love of pastime and diversion, neglected his studies, and disregarded the gentle reproofs of Susan.
The vicinity of a sea-port town had been the means of inspiring Felix with a strong inclination for a seafaring life: he often withdrew himself from home unknown to his mother, hurried to Brest, rambled over every part of the port, went on board the ships, and amused himself with climbing up the ropes. His boldness and agility attracted the observation of the officers, who encouraged him by their applause. Sometimes he passed the whole day in this favourite amusement, and night alone forced him to return home to his mother, breathless, overheated, and exhausted by hunger, not having taken any food since the morning. Poor Susan, weeping and disconsolate, told her son, that he would break her heart; but he replied, "that she would do well to accustom herself to these things, because that, as soon as he was old enough, he was determined to embark on board the first ship that would receive him."
About four years passed in this manner. The widow of Francour, fearing that her son, who was become a tall, stout lad, would quit her the first opportunity that should present itself, wrote to Captain Sinval, the youth's god father, to beg him to take him on board his ship, in order that he might be under his own protection and guidance, since she found it impossible to oppose his inclinations. His answer was favourable; he sent her money to pay the travelling expenses of Felix, who was to join him at l'Orient, where the vessel which he commanded was then lying, and which was about to sail in a short time.
Susan, in informing Felix of the steps she had taken, and the success, which had attended them, blended many tender reproofs with her maternal advice. "My son," said she, "you have by your conduct added a thousand poignant griefs to those already inflicted by the loss of your father. A spirit of disobedience has taken possession of your mind; you have braved the authority of your mother, and formed the resolution of abandoning her; but what would have become of you if I had not been careful to make proper arrangements for you? Mr. Sinval will supply the place of your father; he will watch over you, and accustom you to that subordination so necessary in every situation of life; your attention to your duty, and your obedience to your officers, may procure you success in that which you have chosen. My heart trembles at the many dangers you will there be exposed to; I pray Heaven to protect you, and to avert from you the punishment threatened to disobedient children. May God pardon you as I do, and may his blessing accompany mine."
Felix had a tender heart -- the discourse of his mother, her tears and sobs, affected him sensibly; he threw himself at her feet, tenderly kissed her hand, and testified the most bitter repentance for his past conduct. The good mother clasped him to her bosom, reminded him in a simple and touching manner of the religious principles which she had endeavoured to instil into him from his earliest infancy, and exhorted him, in whatever situation he might be cast, to rely on the care of Providence, and never to despair of its assistance.
The days following this conversation were occupied in arranging the apparel of Felix, and adding to it such articles as were necessary. Felix, on the point of separation from his mother, scarcely quitted her an instant, and seemed desirous of making amends for the pain he had occasioned her. Susan might have conceived a hope of retaining him with her, had not the boy, in the midst of his caresses, often thanked her for her condescension in permitting him to go to sea. "What a pleasure it will be, my dear mother," said he, "when I shall return to you; I shall be so much bigger and stronger, you will hardly know me again. I shall tell you all about my voyages, and will bring you home curiosities from all the countries I shall have travelled over." Susan sighed deeply. "God only knows," said she, "if I shall ever see thee again; but life will have lost all charms for me when I am bereaved of my only child."
At length the day of departure arrived; Susan accompanied her son to Brest, paid his fare in the Diligence to l'Orient, and recommended him to the care of the conductor, whom she interested in his favour by a handsome gratuity. It was necessary to tear Felix from the arms of his mother. She followed the carriage with her eyes as long as it was in sight, and then, with a heavy heart, retraced her steps to her own village. Felix, bathed in tears, participated in the grief of his mother, but he was soon diverted from it by a change of scene, and by the novelty of the objects that presented themselves to him. How amusing soever this first journey he had ever taken must have appeared to him, his natural impatience made him think it tedious, and he wished himself arrived at the end of it as soon as it was commenced. When the Diligence stopped for refreshment, he eat at the table d'hote, swallowed his food with the utmost avidity, in order to be the sooner ready to remount the vehicle, and was impatient with the other passengers, whom he accused of delaying its departure by their tardiness. At length he perceived the tower l'Orient: Felix clapped his hands, shouted for joy, and when the Diligence stopped, he rushed to the door, jostling his fellow-travellers, and made but one leap into the street. A female exclaimed, "What an ill-bred little boy!" "My conscience, Madam," replied the lad, "I am sorry if I have offended you; I am a sailor, I am going to join my ship, and I should not like it to sail without me." Nevertheless, he was under the necessity of learning patience, and of waiting till the conductor had disposed of the luggage of the travellers. This man had undertaken to conduct Felix himself to the house of Mr. Sinval, and to deliver him a letter from Susan.
The captain gave a very kind reception to his godson, whom he had not seen since the day of his christening; the pleasing countenance of the youth, his free and unconstrained deportment, prepossessed him in his favour. "My young friend," said he to him, "for your first voyage I can give you no better station than that of a cabin boy; but, if you do your duty well, and endeavour to become a good seaman, I promise to advance you rapidly. In two days time we are going to the roadsted of Port Louis, from whence we shall depart with the first fair wind. Make the best use of this short time to view the town and the port, and do not forget to write to your good mother, whose affection demands your utmost gratitude." Felix kissed his god- father's hand, and retired to the little closet allotted to him for a sleeping apartment. He was burning with impatience to go out and examine the port of 1' Orient, and to see two fine eighty- gun ships which were on the stocks, and which were to be launched in a few days. But an idea suggested itself to his mind, to which all others gave place. "I know," said he to himself, "that if once I go out, so many things will engage my curiosity, that I shall perhaps not think of writing to my mother; and if she receives no letter from me, she will think me an ungrateful child. I have given her already but too much occasion for affliction; I will not add this to her grief." Felix then seated himself at a little table, and began a very affectionate epistle; as he wrote, fresh ideas crowded on his mind, and, imperceptibly, he filled three large pages with expressions of his respect and love. Thus satisfied with himself, he sealed his letter, and begged Lapierre, Mr. Sinval's servant, to show him the way to the post-office. The boy offered to conduct him. to it, and accompany him to all the places he wished to visit; a prososal [sic] which Felix accepted with much pleasure.
No doubt, my young friends, you are pleased with the conduct of our hero, and that the sacrifice which he made to filial piety has obtained your approbation. The natural effect of good actions is, to excite a desire of imitating them, I hope, then, that you will all bear in mind, that duty should take the precedence of pleasure, which is the only way to enjoy the latter unalloyed by pain and regret.
We shall not follow Felix through all his walks, in which he saw much to gratify his curiosity, and from which he might have derived much instruction, but he saw them only with the eyes of a child; and you will perceive, in the sequel, how much cause he had to regret having paid so little attention to them. At length, then, behold him on board of ship bound to the East Indies; the anchors are weighed, a favourable wind swells the sails, and the coast of France disappears from the astonished eyes of Felix. I wish I could trace out to you the ship's course; but our young noviciate was so heedless, that though he has recounted his own adventures, he has never been able to give any account of that. He has only informed us, that for two months they had a favourable passage, and afterwards he has been able to speak of nothing but his own personal concerns. He was very much caressed by his god father, whose heart he had gained by his attentions and his engaging manners. His frolics amused Mr. Sinval; and when he had deserved punishment, he extricated himself by some merry conceit, and in exciting laughter he disarmed anger. The title of captain's cabin-boy gave him a great predominance over his companions, and he abused this advantage even to tyranny; they paid a kind of court to him -- he had his favourites whom he allowed to do what they pleased, but those who offended him, or opposed his inclinations, he often ill- treated, and they could obtain no redress from the captain, who was too much prejudiced in favour of his protegee. On one occasion only he made a good use of his power. A passenger had lately died, and had left a dog which no one noticed, except the young cabin boys, who amused themselves with tormenting him. Sometimes they fastened to his tail a paper or something to make a clatter. The poor frightened Castor ran about howling, and getting kicked by the sailors, who were enraged at his noise. Another time these mischievous lads put crackers in his ears, which terrified him dreadfully. Felix stood forth as the protector of the poor dog, and, throwing down his hat, said that he would fight any one who ill used Castor. This threat was sufficient to restrain his persecutors. Felix did not stop here; but, having protected him from their malice, he took upon himself the care of his subsistence; he divided his meals with him, and, by his many little engaging ways, he coaxed the cook to give him some additional scraps for his dog, who, grateful for so many kindnesses, attached himself to his benefactor; he followed him every where, slept under his hammock, and showed his teeth at those who made a feint of attacking his young master. Felix congratulated himself at finding a friend to his mind, that is to say, tractable to all his wishes, and submissive to all his caprices, and he preferred him to his companions, who still sometimes took the liberty to contradict him.
In the mean time the weather changed on a sudden; a thick fog arose, which continued several days, during which the ship drifted so far out of her course towards the south-east, that they knew not in what part of the world they were. A dreadful tempest succeeded, the ship was in the greatest danger, and the masts were carried overboard. They passed three days and three nights in this terrible situation; the vessel sprang a leak in several places: the water gained so fast upon her that the pumps could not keep it under. The crew were exhausted with fatigue and quite disheartened. To complete their misfortunes, the captain, who was in the act of giving his orders and encouraging his men, was swept overboard by a wave; the second in command, on whom the charge of the vessel devolved, possessed neither his presence of mind nor his authority.
At day-break they perceived land at about a league distant; the crew were clamorous to take to the boats in order to endeavour to reach it; and, notwithstanding the refusal of the commanding officer, the seamen launched them, and he thought himself fortunate that they allowed him to come on board one of them. All the men got into the boats, the cabin boys threw themselves after them; Felix wished to do so likewise, but there was no more room, and they appeared overloaded; he had lost his protector, and his conduct had not gained him any friends -- he was repulsed and thrown down on the deck nearly senseless, and when he recovered he found himself alone with his dog, and perceived the boats at a great distance struggling with the waves.
It is not possible, my little friends, to describe the despair of this poor child, with the prospect of immediate death before his eyes. He tore his hair, rent the air with his cries, and wickedly dared to reproach Divine Providence for having abandoned him, though so many others were saved. While uttering these complaints, he beheld the boats upset one after another, and swallowed in the depths of the sea. This terrible spectacle completely overwhelmed him; he fell on his face in dreadful agony, expecting every instant that the ship would go to pieces, and that he should share the fate of his unhappy companions. But the idea occurred to him, that he should not perish entirely, since he possessed an immortal soul, which God had created, accountable to him at some future day. This consoling thought revived him a little -- "My God," cried he, "take pity on a helpless child; I submit to thy will; pardon my murmuring; I well know that I must one day die; if it be thy will that this should be the day, let thy will be done: but when my body shall be buried in the sea, do thou receive my soul; afford also consolation to my dear mother, who will lament the death of her only child, and re-unite us in thy happy abodes." After this fervent prayer Felix arose more calm; but the sight of the foaming billows beating against the sides of the ship, the frightful howlings of the winds, and the dreadful claps of thunder, renewed all his terrors. In this situation he remained for two long hours; the vessel, in the meantime, continuing to drive before the wind and tide towards land. At length she struck upon a rock -- a horrible crash announced her complete destruction, and she went entirely to pieces. Felix was precipitated into the sea; he sunk immediately to the bottom, but soon rose to the top of the water, and having been accustomed to swimming, he exerted his utmost strength, to keep himself afloat, and to direct his course towards the shore. Sometimes the waves carried him towards it, but others coming in a contrary direction, drove him back again, and overwhelmed him with a mountain of waters. After some time, exhausted by his fruitless efforts, his strength forsook him, his arms and legs became motionless, and he was on the point of being swallowed up by the sea, when his faithful dog, Castor, who was swimming near him, seized his clothes in his mouth, and bore him up with extraordinary vigour. He stemmed the force of the waves with his burden, and, with equal strength and dexterity, gained the shore where access was easy; he there deposited his dear master, and, seeing him incapable of helping himself, he drew him so far on the sand as to be out of the reach of the water.
I suppose, young friends, that you are very well pleased at seeing our friend Felix safe on shore. I shall now leave him to speak for himself, and to give his own account of his thoughts and actions when he recovered the use of his senses, of which fear had deprived him. He has written a relation of all that befel[l] him from the time of his shipwreck till that of his restoration to society. I have had this relation in my possession, and made from it an extract for your benefit. "I was," says he, "extended on the sand without sense or motion, the caresses of my faithful Castor recalled me to life. This affectionate animal, overcome by the exertions he had made in saving me, was licking my hands and face, and appeared rejoiced when he saw me open my eyes. The first thoughts of my heart were directed to the God of Mercy, who had just delivered me from a death apparently inevitable. I threw myself on my knees to return him thanks for his great goodness; for some time I felt nothing but joy at being still in existence; with tears of gratitude I embraced the faithful animal to whom I owed my life. The winds were calmed, the waves began to subside, and the thunder was only heard at a distance, and af[t]er long intervals. The beams of the sun, which now began to shine in its full splendour, soon dispersed the clouds, and its genial warmth completed the restoration of my faculties, and dried my clothes; but I was tormented by a violent thirst. Castor, who suffered the like distress, lay panting by my side with his parched tongue hanging out of his mouth.
I cast around me looks of anguish, and discovered on all sides of the sandy beach on which I had been cast, nothing but the steep rocks which it appeared impossible for me to surmount. All at once Castor ran swiftly away; I called to him as loud as I was able, but in vain; he seemed not to hear my voice, and suddenly he disappeared entirely. I now thought myself abandoned by my companion, and my tears flowed abundantly. Almost dying with hunger and thirst, which I saw no means of satisfying, I ceased to regard life as a blessing from heaven, and murmurs escaped me against that God, who seemed only to have saved me from the fury of the waves to let me perish justly with famine on this barren coast. I passed an hoar in this dreadful situation; from which I was at length aroused by the return of Castor, who ran to me, refreshed and active. In leaping upon me to caress me, he shook his long ears, and my hands were sprinkled with water; I easily guessed that this animal, guided by instinct, had discovered a spring behind the rocks. Thirst was then the most pressing of my wants; I rose hastily, and patting my companion, went towards the place where I had so suddenly lost sight of him: he appeared much rejoiced, and ran on before me, then returned and seemed to invite me to follow him. At last he led me to the entrance of a sort of cavern, the opening to which appeared too narrow to admit us. Castor crept in first, without any difficulty; I entered after him, crawling on my hands and knees: I was struck with fear at the silence and darkness of this subterraneous route, which were sufficient to terrify a child. I expected to meet with serpents, and other venomous creatures, and the dread of being devoured by them made me tremble all over. Had it not been for the burning thirst which afflicted me, I should have very soon turned back again. At length I perceived a feeble light which penetrated through the clefts of the rock, and discovered to me a long passage under ground; it enlarged imperceptibly; the farther I advanced, the more lofty the vault became. At length I was able to walk upright and follow Castor, who served as my guide. Having proceeded about a quarter of an hour, I perceived a large opening, and hastened to it, anxious to escape from so dismal a place. I cannot express my surprise and joy, at seeing a fine plain covered with herbs and plants which were unknown to me, and surrounded by trees of a prodigious size. A brook ran winding through the midst of a green turf covered with flowers; I flew to it, and taking up the water with my hands plentifully, relieved my thirst: I then washed my face, and this refreshment greatly alleviated my sufferings, and rendered me capable of reflecting on my situation: it was already less painful; this charming place promised many resources for my subsistence, for which I could not have hoped on the barren coast on which I had been thrown. In admiring the bounty of Providence I could not help bitterly reproaching myself for my murmurs, and implored God to pardon me, and to continue his gracious care over a poor, unprotected child, that had no hope but in him.
The evening was far advanced, I was starving with hunger, but saw nothing fit to eat. I had gathered some herbs, but they were tough and bitter, and it was impossible to swallow them. Castor felt the same wants as myself, and we both lay down on the grass weak and exhausted. At length sleep took possession of us, and supplying the place of food, repaired our wasted strength. We slept the whole night, and in the morning awoke to feel again the pressing calls of hunger. I drew near to some trees, and found the happy effects of having accustomed myself to exhibit my dexterity in climbing up the masts without the help of the ropes; it enabled me, by clinging with my knees to the trunk, with the assistance of my hands and feet to ascend to the top of a tree whose thick foliage I thought might conceal some kind of fruit; but my toil was unrewarded; I found no fruit on it, and discouraged by disappointment, came down and began weeping; but reflecting that tears availed me nothing, I resumed my courage and mounted several other trees with the same ill success,; at length, on the last which I ascended, I discovered a very large nest curiously constructed, in which I found seven eggs much larger than those of our hens. I broke one of them and eat it immediately, but found it not at all to my taste, it was very different from the omelets which my mother used to make, and the hard eggs with which she furnished the table along with a delightful salad. "And what," said I to myself, "prevents my cooking them? I have a steel and some tinder in my pocket, and can pick up dry wood to make a fire; I will place my eggs in the ashes, and they will soon be roasted. Delighted with this idea, I folded the eggs in my handkerchief, that I might not break them, and descending carefully, arrived safe at the bottom with my little store of provisions. I seated myself on the grass and examined my pockets, which I had not hitherto thought of doing; I there found my steel and some tinder, which being shut in a tinder box had escaped being wetted, a pretty strong knife, a large ball of pack-thread, and a top, which was my favourite plaything; but at this time I scarcely deigned to look at it; I had plenty to do without thinking of diversions. I searched about for dry leaves and dead sticks; struck a light, kindled a fire and blew it with my breath; a sparkling flame arose and soon formed a heap of ashes, in which I buried my eggs, and tried to restrain my impatience till they were cooked; I then first perceived the absence of Castor, and concluded that he was also in search of food, and doubted not that he would soon come back to me. In a little time the eggs were roasted; I devoured four of them with an appetite which made them highly relishing, though I had nothing to serve as seasoning. I was going to eat the two last, but I considered, that perhaps I should not be fortunate enough to find others on the same day, and that it would be prudent to reserve these for my supper: I laid them by carefully, and had the forbearance to restrain my appetite, which was very far from being satisfied. Many hours were passed in these employments, and the sun darting its beams on my bare head, I sought shelter under the large trees which surrounded the plain, and amused myself in examining them. I discovered one whose trunk was covered with a large fruit resembling pumpkins; I beat down one of them with a great branch which I had picked up; the rind of it was so hard, that I could scarcely cut a piece of it with my knife; the inside was soft and yellowish, but the taste so unpleasant that I threw it from me in anger, aud [sic] remained in a very ill humour, when I perceived my Castor, who was returning from the chase, his mouth was bloody, and he was dragging the body of an animal which he had killed, and of which he had already eaten a part; this sight filled me with joy. I fondled my dog, and as he had satisfied his own hunger, I easily took possession of his prey. I skinned the animal as well as I was able -- it was about the size of a hare, but had a head somewhat resembling that of a pig. Having finished this work, I returned to my fire; it was still burning beneath the ashes; I collected together the largest embers and broiled a leg of the creature; its flesh was white like a rabbit's, but very dry, and had a rank flavour, which prevented my eating enough to satisfy my hunger. I allayed my thirst with the water from the brook, but having nothing but my hands to dip it with only a few drops at a time reached my mouth. A happy thought struck me, I ran to pick up the gourd wtich [sic] I had thrown away with so much contempt: I enlarged the opening with my knife, and taking out all the pulp, scrapped out the inner skin, and then had a drinking vessel larger than a bottle: I ran to fill it at the brook, and slaked my thirst very conveniently. I was the more pleased with my contrivance, thinking I should be able to make of this fruit, utensils of various kinds which would be very useful to me.
The great heat and the solid meal I had just made, inclined me to sleep. I stretched myself under a tree, and Castor laid down at my feet I know not how long I slept, but on waking I found myself quite recovered from my fatigue, I now began to consider what course I had best take, and I reasoned thus with myself: -- "I am here quite alone in an unknown country; if I remain where I am, I run the risk of perishing with hunger. Beyond these trees I see a very lofty mountain: if I can climb to the top of if, I shall discover the whole country; I shall see houses and men; without doubt, they will take pity on me and give me food: I shall offer my services to them, for I had rather work for them, than remain in this disconsolate condition, since I am neither old enough nor strong enough to provide for my own wants. I have always wished to be my own master, and not have any one to obey. How stupid I was! I now go where I will, I do what I choose, and yet I never was so unhappy. O my dear mother! could I but return to you, with what pleasure would I do whatever you commanded me. I have well deserved all I suffer, by my disobedience, and I acknowledge the justice of God in my punishment." Floods of tears ran down my cheeks at these melancholy reflections. At length I regained my spirits, and determined to set off the nest day for the mountain, and if I should discover any habitation, to make the best of my way to it. As I intended to take some provisions with me, I hung up what remained of my broiled meat in a tree, and gave what was undressed, to my dog. I afterwards went to look for eggs, and found five in one nest, and four in another: I stirred up my tire afresh, and cooked them for my next day's journey. The sun was set by the time I had accomplished my work; I said my evening prayers, and prepared to stretch myself on the turf to sleep, as I had done the preceding night, when a terrifying thought presented itself to my mind and filled me with alarm. I fancied that some hungry wild beast might attack me whilst I was asleep, tear me to pieces, and devour me in two or three mouthfuls. "In vain," said I, "will my brave dog Castor endeavour to defend me, a bear or a lion is much stronger than he, and we should both become a prey to the ferocious animals." I saw no other means of avoiding so dreadful a fate than by climbing up one of the loftiest trees, where I concealed myself among; the thick foliage, and seated myself as commodiously as I could upon a strong branch, whilst another supported my back, and my feet were firmly fixed; but all this did not secure me against the fear of falling; I therefore took off my garters, tied them together, and formed a bandage with which I made myself fast to the trunk of the tree. In spite of all these precautions, fear kept me a long while awake; I was, besides, very uneasy respecting my dear companion, who had no means of securing himself against the danger of being devoured. At last I fell asleep, sighing for the happiness of being able to find some inhabitants to defend and afford me subsistence, and a house to shelter me.
Castor, who partook of none of my fears or anxieties, slept very quietly, but he was the first to wake, and came barking at the foot of my tree as if to warn me that it was time to think of setting off. It was just day-break; this was the favourable time to begin my journey; my preparations were soon made, I folded up neatly, in some large leaves, the meat which I had left, and tied it in my handkerchief, distributed the eggs in my pockets, filled my calabash, hung it across my shoulder on a branch, and began my march. Castor, who had breakfasted abundantly on what remained of his game, followed me gaily, making a thousand leaps and gambols; and I had not omitted elevating my thoughts to God, and imploring his blessing on my journey.
After traversing the immense plain, and passing through the trees which surrounded it, we arrived at a tract of land which descended with a gentle slope, so that I advanced more than a league without experiencing any fatigue. As I proceeded, the herbage became so high that it reached to my shoulders; frequently our approach startled, from among the tangled grass, flocks of young birds, which made me conclude that the old ones deposited their eggs among this cool verdure; I could easily have caught some of these birds, which were scarcely strong enough to fly, but I was wholly engrossed with the desire and hope of meeting with some inhabitants; the fear of retarding my journey would not allow me to stop, nor examine the surrounding objects. At the bottom of the valley I met with an obstacle, which, if I had had any experience, I might have easily foreseen; this was a wide and beautiful river, which it was necessary to pass in order to arrive at the foot of the mountain. Castor leaped in and soon swam to the opposite side; I did not hesitate to follow him, though the crossing it was as much as my strength was equal to; but I was sure that the powerful animal would come to my assistance, if it failed me; however, I needed not his aid on this occasion, and arrived safe on the other shore. I observed that this river was very full of fish, and with almost any net I might catch great plenty of them, but I paid no regard to this circumstance, little thinking I was destined to provide for myself; I expected that others would work for me.
When we had gained the foot of the mountain, the sun was shining in its full strength, and not a tree was near to afford us shade; I looked around and discovered, with great pleasure, a cavity in the rock where we might retire during the extreme heat. I carried there some large stones to make me a seat; Castor stretched himself at my feet; the air and exercise had given me so good an appetite, that the piece of meat I had with me appeared but a small allowance, the more so, as I must share it with my companion; but what was still worse, when I came to unfold it, so bad a smell exhaled from it that it quite turned my stomach; the great heat had entirely spoiled it, and I was forced to give it to my dog, who devoured it in a few mouthfuls, so that I was obliged to be content with the hard eggs with which I had provided myself.
After resting some hours I began to climb the mountain with much fatigue and difficulty; in some places I met with a smooth rock where I could get no foot hold, and was forced to crawl by clinging to the shrubs which grew out of the crevices; farther up the earth was covered with flints, and the soil was so loose, that I was often on the point of rolling to the bottom; notwithstanding, I kept up my courage, and the sight of a tuft of trees, which I perceived about half way up, encouraged me to redouble my efforts. My trusty companion assisted me to the utmost of his power, and when I felt myself sliding down clung to his long shaggy coat, which he permitted with great good nature, and with his help I at length reached the wood, where I met with ample recompense for all my trouble. Large citron trees, loaded with fruit in full perfection, afforded me a relief of which I stood in great need: the ground was strewed with citrons, I eat of them with avidity; nothing had ever afforded me more pleasure than their refreshing juice, at a time when I was sinking with the excess of heat and fatigue. After resting awhile I filled my pocket with fruit, and quitted this agreeable place to climb with fresh courage in order to gain the top of the mountain before night. I had overcome the greatest part of the difficulties: the rest of the way was smooth and easy of ascent; a kind of steps formed by nature led me to the object of my wishes; but before I had attained it the sun had been long set, and darkness prevented my distinguishing distant objects, and satisfying my impatient curiosity; I therefore began to think of making my arrangements for the night. As I had not there any tree on which I might ascend to secure myself against the wild beasts, my apprehensions were renewed, in addition to which experienced an excessive cold; I knew not at the time that it was owing to my being in so elevated a situation. I determined to make a large fire to sleep by; many dry plants afforded me materials for my purpose: I collected a great heap of them, which I easily set on fire: I then said my prayers, and relying on the goodness of God, fell asleep in spite of my fears. I awoke with the day, and my first care was to cast my eyes on all sides in hopes of discovering some traces of habitation, houses or huts, men or flocks. What was my consternation and grief, at finding the land where I then was, surrounded entirely by the sea, and that in fact it was an island, and without doubt I was the only human creature who inhabited it! I could perceive no part of the land to be cultivated, not a single cottage, not one domestick [sic] animal. "Miserable wretch that I am!" cried I, throwing myself on the earth, "poor, forsaken child! thou wilt here perish with want, and misery, since thou hast no one to afford thee assistance." I shed abundance of tears, and gave myself up to despair: the caresses of Castor aroused me from this state; he appeared to participate my grief, he licked my hands, and accompanied my sobs with deep sighs, he fixed his eyes on me tenderly, and by every thing in his power, expressed a most lively sympathy. "This then," said I, sighing, "is my only remaining friend; but have I deserved to have any? How have I behaved to my companions? I always endeavoured to tyrannize over them, I treated them neither with regard nor civility. Oh! if I had now but one companion of my solitary life, how I would love him! how desirous I should be to oblige him!" At the same time I returned the affectionate caresses of my good Castor, and, in the end, considered myself fortunate in having him with me.
It was necessary for me to think about my future subsistence, since I had none but myself to depend on. I was very hungry, and had only some citrons, which though they refreshed me, afforded me no nourishment. I examined more deliberately, from the top of the mountain, all the surrounding places, in order to fix on one for my abode. I wished to be again near the sea shore, where I hoped to find shell-fish for my support. On the side opposite to that on which I had landed, I discovered a shore which appeared fertile; large trees and a great number of shrubs gave it a very pleasing aspect; I took particular notice of the side, on which I should descend, and the route I ought to follow in order to arrive at it; then summoning all my resolution, and submitting to necessity, I determined to exert myself to the utmost in order to support life, and to accustom myself to labour, which was the only method of procuring what was necessary to it.
The descent from the mountain was little more than sport to me; sometimes I sat down and slid a long distance; where I found the surface smooth, I rolled like a ball, which was a still more rapid mode of travelling. On arriving at the bottom, I found a beautiful field covered with white and lilac flowers which grew on stalks, forming a pretty nosegay; I easily discovered them to be potatoes: my mother had cultivated some in her garden, and I had the charge of attending them, but as I was then an idle little fellow, I often neglected them. This discovery was exceedingly valuable to me, my eyes were filled with tears of joy and gratitude; I thought that God, who takes care of all his children, had caused these plants to grow here for my nourishment. I thanked him with my whole heart, and began immediately to get up as many potatoes as my pockets would hold; I likewise filled my handkerchief with them, and found myself relieved from the fear of dying with hunger: I did not foresee that in a short time I should be unable to make any use of this food, since my tinder would be expended, and I then should have no means of making a fire. I had not accustomed myself to reflection, and like the animals, I rejoiced in the present, without thinking of the future.
I quitted the potato field, and walked along the side of a brook bordered with rushes and reeds; it led me to a wood, which I had much difficulty in passing through, on account of the briers and entangled shrubs, which frequently stopped my passage; I cut some of them with my knife, and pushed aside others with my hands, at the expense of several scratches; at last I came to a spot where the trees being more distant from each other, left an open space, which formed beautiful verdant saloon. This was a charming place for taking that repose which I then so much needed, and I arrived at it in the moment when the heat was insupportable. I enjoyed greatly the pleasures of this refres[h]ing shade, but the calls of hunger would not permit me to remain idle, I therefore placed my potatoes in the earth and made a fire over them. Castor, who smelt nothing which was likely to suit his appetite, set off on one of his excursions. While my potatoes were cooking, I attentively examined the trees and plants which surrounded me, and recognized with extreme pleasure, the majestic oak, so common in my native country; the foliage was somewhat different from that of the European, but the acorns, which were scattered on the ground, removed all doubt of its being of the same species. I wished to taste them, and found them very sweet and agreeable to the palate; and while my repast was preparing I regaled myself with them, rejoicing in having discovered this addition to my means of subsistence. At some distance I saw some very lofty trees, which bore no leaves except at the very top, where they were united like a crown, underneath which grew the fruit, as large as my head, and forming a kind of bunch, One of these fruits had fallen; I wished to know what it contained, but the shell was so hard that my knife would not enter it; I tried to break it with a large stone, but was at last forced to give up the attempt.
The smell of the roasting potatoes invited me to dinner; I seated myself under an oak, and made an excellent meal: I thought of sprinkling my potatoes with citron juice, and found this gave them a very pleasant relish. My good dog now returned with lopping ears and famished looks, plainly showing that his chase had been unsuccessful. I offered him some potatoes and for want of something better, he made shift with them; he did not refuse even the acorns, but munched of them till his hunger was satisfied.
The great heat being over, I prepared to quit the wood and continue my route. The ground by degrees becoming less and less woody, I uttered a cry of joy at beholding the sea at a little distance. I observed some few rocks on this coast, but they were of no considerable height; the shore in other places was level and formed a beautiful sand. I quickened my pace in order to arrive on the beach before the setting of the sun, which I beheld sinking below the horizon in floods of light; I could not remove my eyes from this glorious spectacle till it had entirely disappeared from my sight; I then sought for a place to pass the night in, and made choice of the top of a tree which grew out of a rock; its roots had penetrated into the clefts of the stone, which had given it firmness sufficient to withstand the fury of the winds and storms. This retreat, however, was not as commodious as it was safe; I found it very uncomfortable to be sleeping perched in a tree like a bird, and in the morning felt myself bruised all over, and pains in all my limbs. I sighed after the pleasure of sleeping stretched on something less hard than the branch of a tree; but, in order to enjoy that comfort, it would be necessary to construct a hut which might shelter me from being attacked. I thought almost the whole night on this subject, and resolved to set about the work the very next day. With the first dawn I went down to the shore; the tops of the rocks were clothed with an agreeable verdure, and with a great variety of trees; the space between them and the sea was partly covered with tall herbage, and partly with low wood. I should have very well liked to have built a stone house of solid workmanship, but I had neither cement, plaster, nor lime, nor could I dig the foundation, having nothing but my hands and my knife to work with: I was therefore forced to be content with a hut formed of branches woven together, and which, nevertheless, would cost me much time and trouble in constructing.
I made choice of four trees growing at equal distances at the foot of a pretty high rock, which would serve to screen me from the north wind; these I intended for the pillars of my edifice[.] I was so anxious to set about my undertaking, that I was going to commence it, forgetful that was yet fasting, but my stomach reminded me of it, and I thought it prudent to strengthen myself by taking some food before I began my work. I made my prayer to God that he would grant me that daily bread which it was his will his children should depend on him for, and looking about for Castor, saw him on the seashore fishing very adroitly with his paws for crabs, on which he was regaling himself. I followed his example, and collected a good store but did not think fit to eat them raw: some time must be spent in lighting a fire, and in the meantime I devoured some oysters that I picked up on the sand. When I had breakfasted, hurried to the place I had pitched upon for my abode. I broke down a great quantity of flexible branches, placed them across from one tree to another, and tied them tightly together with certain filaceous plants which grew in abundance out of the clefts of the rocks. In this manner I made a kind of enclosure on three sides, but it was yet far from being firm and compact: to render it closer and more solid, I wove in other branches in all directions, and by means labour and perseverance, at length contrived to make three pretty strong walls, firmly supported by the four pillars. The front was still quite open, and my next concern was to shut up part of it, and to make a kind of door to it: in this lay the greatest difficulty, and I could not suggest any method of accomplishing it. I sat down in front of my unfinished work, and began weeping. After losing an hour in unavailing regrets, I became ashamed of my weakness. "I am not yet a man," said I, "but I ought to become one; my strength will increase every day, and what appears impossible to me now, will be easy when I am grown bigger; I ought then to be content with what I am at present able to accomplish, and wait patiently till age adds to my powers." While making these reflections, I was scorched by the sun, and thought I might shelter myself from its beams by the walls I had just erected: I retired there and rejoiced at being in the shade. Castor followed me, and we reposed ourselves during the great heat of the day. In the evening I walked to the wood of oaks, and brought away a good stock of acorns and citrons. I collected likewise some potatoes, and having provided my food for the present day and for the morrow, returned to the shore, where the sight of my hut caused me to sigh deeply; but an unexpected pleasure drove away these sad thoughts. My dog joined me, dragging with him an animal similar to that which he had before killed; it was an agouti, but I then knew not the name of it: he readily gave up his prey to me, knowing that he should have his share of it. The animal was soon uncased, but having a mind to eat it roasted, I made a strong fire, and stuck into the ground two forked sticks: I thrust a very straight one through the agouti's body, laid it across the two forks, and began to turn my spit. I intended to augment the pleasure of this repast by adding to it the potatoes which were cooking, in order that they might supply the place of bread: when my dish was about half roasted, I squeezed over it some citron juice, which, mixing with what dropped from the animal into a calabash I had placed to receive it, formed an incomparable sauce. My companion and I supped with a good appetite, and before I ascended my tree in order to resign myself to sleep, I considered how I might keep the remainder of my meat from spoiling till the morrow. I placed it in a hole of the rock, covering it slightly with leaves, hoping that, as the nights were tolerably cool, owing to the vicinity of the sea, it might easily be preserved: my hopes were not deceived, we had sufficient for the next day, without the necessity of lighting a fire or losing time in seeking for food.
I employed myself then wholly in finishing my hut. I sought among the stones on the shore and found one large and flat, which had a sharp edge; this I made use of to dig round two young trees which I meant to take up by the roots; I afterwards made two deep holes in front of my little dwelling at equal distances from the two corners; in doing which I alternately made use of my hands, my knife, and large shells. When I had made the holes deep enough, I planted in them the two young trees that I intended to support my door: the space between them and the two pillars was filled up with woven branches, which formed the fourth wall of the house, and only differed from the other three in having an opening in it. I was very well pleased with my performance and sat down to admire it, and to take some rest. The night before I had stretched out the skin of the agouti that it might dry in the sun, hoping to make some use of it; I now perceived that it was quite shrivelled up and was good for nothing. How much I then desired to possess some nails and a hammer; I should have stretched this skin. with all my strength and have nailed it up, it would then have dried without shrinking. I entered into my leafy inclosure to work at constructing my door. I formed a long square of four very strong branches; the difficulty was to fasten them together; I did not succeed till after many trials, and was obliged to sacrifice a part of my string which I was very unwilling to make use of. I filled up this frame in the same manner as my walls, and fitted it to the open space of that in the front. I tied this door in such a manner as to allow it play freely; when I opened it, it shut of itself. I had only now to construct a roof and resolved to make it of rushes; I employed the evening in collecting them on the banks of brook at a little distance from my habitation. cut as many as I could carry in five or six journeys, and before retiring to rest had a large pile near my hut.
In climbing into my tree I pleased myself with the idea that it would be the last time I should pass the night so ill at ease; I hoped to finish my house the next day, and was so taken up with the idea of what remained for me to do that I slept but little. My first intention was to arrange horizontally some branches supported on my four walls, and to cover them with a thick layer of rushes; but I reflected that the roofs of the houses and cottages in Europe were sloping to let the rain off more easily. "Should heavy rains fall," said I, "they will soon penetrate through my roof if I make it quite flat. Fortunately the rock against which I had placed the back of my hut was higher than its walls. Against this rock, therefore, I supported one end of my timbers, the other rested on the front wall, which was about a foot and a half lower. When they were firmly fixed I placed on them three layers of rushes, well fastened together. I then found myself possessed of a hut, well closed in, capable of sheltering me against the heat in the day, and affording me the means of sleeping quietly during the night, on a bed of dry leaves and moss. It was not till after I had prepared this delightful couch that I thought of taking a slight meal. Nothing remained of my provisions except some roasted potatoes, to which I wished to add some oysters: while I was pulling them from the rocks, I observed Castor scratching something round out of the sand, which he eat greedily; I searched in the same place and discovered many white balls, wrapped in a skin like wet parchment, and covered with a layer of sand; I imagined that these might be turtles' eggs: I had heard the sailors say, that they were excellent food; I took some of them, but was so weary that I deferred cooking them till the next day.
This evening was a very fortunate one. I perceived in the crevices of the rock a white substance, which excited my curiosity; I tasted it, and found, to my great joy, that it was salt, which I had so often lamented the want of; the potatoes, the eggs, and even the meat itself, tasted very insipid without this seasoning; I filled two large shells with it, and carried it home with my other provisions. In approaching my dwelling, I felt an emotion of pride in reflecting that this handsome cottage was my own work; I conceived a high opinion of my abilities, and doubted not that I was able to perform whatever I chose to undertake. I called my faithful companion, for whom I had also made up a bed of leaves; we stretched ourselves at our ease near each other, and I passed a delightful night, visited by pleasant dreams.
I began to be no longer afraid of wild beasts, as, since I had been on my island, I had not seen any, nor had any cries or howlings disturbed my repose. My hut appeared all that I could have wished; the sun did not penetrate it. and I did not doubt of being able to furnish it with some useful articles, and I would not then have changed it for the finest house of my native village, so much value do we attach to one's own performances.
The young persons to whom my story may be related, will perhaps be astonished that I could live without play, but let them think of the many things that occupied my mind, and how precious my time was; the days glided away too fast for all I had to do. The only recreation I allowed myself was to bathe a little before sunset; after a scorching day nothing could be more agreeable. I swam round and round in all directions, but without going far from shore: my friend Castor watched over me with tender anxiety, and when I returned ashore testified his joy by leaping on my shoulders, and bestowing on me numberless caresses. I took care to keep myself perfectly clean, and often washed my shirt, my nankeen trowsers, and my ticken waistcoat; as for my stockings, the feet of them had been long worn out, and since they could no longer be of use, and I foresaw that I might have occasion for thread, I unravelled them and made a large ball of it.
I promised myself a delicious repast of my turtles' eggs, now that I could add salt to them. I found them quite to my taste, but my enjoyment was very much disturbed at perceiving that my tinder would very soon fail; the occupations of the preceding days prevented my thinking of this. What would then become of me? Deprived of the means of making a fire, I should be reduced to the necessity of living on oysters, acorns, and raw eggs; my fine potatoes and the huntings of my dog would be no longer of any benefit to me, for I would not bring myself to eat raw meat. I shed many tears on the occasion, which, after a while, relieved my heart: I lifted up my eyes to heaven, and prayed that God would grant me courage, and direct me by his wisdom how to act. After much reflection I resolved to visit every part of my island, hoping to find some new productions, some fruits which would not require cooking, and which might serve me for my subsistence, Fortunately I had learned on board of ship the points of the compass; it was by them I intended to direct my course during my journey, and to find my way back again: I passed this whole day in preparing every thing for my departure; I dug up some potatoes, and dressed as many as I could carry; and the next day as soon as it was light I set out, accompanied by Castor. I took northerly direction, and, after walking about two hours, found myself again on the banks of same river I had swum across, but on the shore opposite to that which I had traversed before. It was beautified by a number of trees of different species. The citron trees grew in great abundance, and I observed many of the lofty tree with such large leaves, and at whose tops those great nuts, which I had not been able break: I was desirous to ascend one of them and get down some of the nuts to make a fresh trial: I accomplished it with much trouble and threw down a dozen of these fruits; when I descended I examined one of them carefully, the outer covering or rind was composed of threads like hemp; the second, or shell, was as hard as iron, and I had no doubt it contained something fit to eat, and thought of an expedient to separate it. I first fixed it between some stones, then placed my knife very exactly to the middle of the nut, and with a large stone struck the back of it with all my strength; I had the pleasure to find that it entered the shell; I redoubled my blows, and it separated in two halves. The kernel was a kind of oily substance which tasted like sweet almonds, and in the middle, which was hollow, I found some milk of a delicious flavour. Oh! how thankful I was to God for having provided me his food at a moment when I feared being without any. The two halves of the shell formed two good cups, and I saw the means of procuring as many such as I should have occasion for. I broke several other nuts, and satisfied my hunger completely, reserving my potatoes for a time of need.
Castor had gone into a little neighbouring wood, and I fell asleep under a tree, but was wakened by a noise, which at first alarmed me! I soon took courage, however, on perceiving that it was a herd of wild goats, who were come to drink at the river. The sight of these animal gave me much pleasure. I immediately formed the design of taking one of them alive: their full udders gave me hope of abundance of milk, and I ardently longed for a treat of it. I rejoiced the absence of my dog, whose barking would have scared away the whole herd. I hid myself behind a large tree, and while the goats were copiously drinking and cooling themselves in the water, made ready my string; I plaited it in three to make it stronger, and formed a running noose to it, and when the animals were coming out of the river, laid wait for that which passed nearest me. Never having been attacked by any one, they were not shy; a female, near her time of yeaning, was grazing very near the tree where was on the watch; I threw my noose with so good an aim, that her horns were entangled: I pulled the string with such force that the goat fell to the ground, and before she could get up again I tied her to the trunk of a tree in such a manner, that it was impossible for her to extricate herself from her bonds. The poor beast struggled and endeavoured to strike me with her feet and horns but I took care to keep at a distance. Her piteous bleatings awakened my compassion, but I promised myself so much advantage from her, that I was not tempted to set her at liberty. All the flock, terrified, took to flight, and I remained alone with my prize; I resolved to put off, for the present, my journey of discovery, and to return to my hut with the goat, in order to secure her. I dined in haste on my roasted potatoes, and as soon as Castor had joined me, untied the string from the tree and twisted it round my left arm, taking in my right hand a large bough to strike the goat, while I dragged her towards my dwelling. I should not have been able to get her there without the help of my dog; she resisted with all her strength, and tried to kick me, but the barking of Castor frightened her; he followed close at her heels, and bit her legs when she refused to advance; however, we arrived at home before night. I tied my prisoner again to a large tree growing in a sandy spot, where there was not a blade of grass; I had heard that every kind of animal was to be tamed by hunger, and determined to leave this without food till the next day, whatever pain it might cost me to keep fasting my new guest, whom I was already fond of, and whom I hoped to make fond of me. When I had satisfied myself that she was safe, I went home with my companion, and laid down on my bed of leaves, very well contented with the success of the day.
As soon as the morrow began to dawn, I set about collecting fresh grass for my goat's breakfast; I went up to her; the poor beast was lying on the sand; she appeared very much dispirited and turned her languid eyes on me. I hastened to complete my stock of forage; I offered her the grass I had just plucked; she eat it greedily, and suffered me to pat her without any resistance, I was much pleased with having a new companion, and it was then only for the sake of her society, for being near her time of having young ones, she had not any milk.
The increase of my family deranged all my schemes. I could not think of leaving home before I had secured, not only the goat, but the whole flock, which I already fancied myself possessed of. I wished to form a park near my dwelling, and after revolving various plans, I determined on the following. I dug up a number of young trees, taking care to keep some of the earth about their roots: I then made holes, and planted them very near each other in the form of a square, and at the foot of each of them put in some creeping plants, which abounded in this place. My cocoa nut cups (for I now know the name of this precious fruit) I found very useful in taking up water for watering my plantation, which was a work of no little fatigue; for having only such small vessels, I had more than thirty times, every day, to go to the nearest brook; however, nothing discouraged me; I worked with indefatigable industry, and was so fearful of losing a moment's time, that I lived with the greatest abstinence. Oysters, acorns, and some cocoa nuts, were my only food, because they required no preparation. In the mean while, my goat, whom I kept still tied up, began to grow tame; I took care to provide her early in the morning with food for the whole day: in the evening I led her to the brook to drink: she had formed a friendship with Castor; when she lay down he played between her horns: I was pleased with the cordiality which these animals manifested towards each other, as that which subsists among brothers gives pleasure to the father of a family.
One morning, when I came out of my hut, I was agreeably surprised by the sight of two little kids lying by the side of my goat, and sucking heartily. I approached, my heart palpitating with joy, and caressed the little ones; the mother made no opposition but looked at me with an air of satisfaction. I ran to the fields, and did not regret the trouble of providing food for the mother and her nurslings. On my return, these latter were sleeping quietly; I was tempted to press the udder of the goat, and to drink a good cup of warm milk, but soon reproached myself or this selfish idea. "No," said I, "I will not deprive these innocent creatures of the nourishment which nature has provided for them; I will wait for that pleasure till they shall be able to browze [sic] the herbage, like their mother; then the care which I shall take for their subsistence, will entitle me to partake of the food which is now so necessary for them." My goat, which was still tied to the trunk of the tree, appeared incommoded in suckling her young. The enclosure of my park was nearly finished, the shrubs and plants had taken root, and had put forth fresh leaves, and when they grew would become interwoven. I had left but one little opening as a passage for my flock, which I now led into it, persuaded that the goat, with her young ones by her side, and provided with all that she wanted, would become attached to her new abode, and likewise to myself: I intended, besides, to prevent her being able to quit me, should she be so inclined. I collected a quan[t]ity of the dry branches of thorny shrubs, and placed them along the inside of the park hedge, to prevent the goats getting near it, as she would not have failed to gnaw the young shoots. When I had put her into the park with her kids, I released her entirely from her bonds at which she testified her joy by a thousand gambols; she then lay down on some good litter of dry leaves, and her young ones began again to suck.
I now left the enclosure, stopping up the entrance with boughs and stones, and resumed my work with a light heart. I continued my search among the plants which grew in the cleft of the rocks, or at their feet, for those which appeared fittest for climbing up my young trees and for rendering my hedge more bushy. This day I discovered a new and very singular species which I have since learned is called the karatas: its large thick leaves were hollowed in the middle in the shape of a cup, and seemed formed of a texture from which I might draw very strong thread; its stem was straight, and bore on it top, in the midst of a tuft of leaves, a quantity of beautiful red flowers. I transplanted some of these handsome shrubs to strengthen the fence of my park, but was then far from imagining wherein they would be so serviceable to me. Hunger forced me to break off my work; I went to the shore to look for oysters, and there found Castor zealously occupied in scratching up turtles' eggs, and no less so in eating them: I joined him and carried away a good many, which I prepared to cook; but, oh grief! I perceived that I was about to use the last of my tinder, and that hereafter I should be obliged to make shift without fire; I was truly afflicted, and looked sorrowfully on my flints and steel, and the impossibility of their being of any further use distressed me exceedingly. My repast was dull, and my work during the remainder of the day was influenced by the despondency into which I was fallen: at night I prayed with a similar languor, inquietude drove away sleep, and I passed a great part of the night in distressing reflections. What then, said I to myself, is the life of man, since that of a child is mingled with so many troubles? My mind then reverted to my shipwreck, the desolate condition in which I was left, and the small portion of strength and of resources which I possessed, all which rendered me extremely miserable. "if at least, " said I sighing deeply, "I had but a hatchet, a saw, a hammer, and some nails, I could with the help of these tools perform many things which I have in my mind, and which I cannot undertake with my bare hands. If but one of my shipmates had been saved as well as myself, what pleasure I should have enjoyed in his company! We should have loved and consoled each other: but I have not here a fellow creature to love me, and to whom I can attach myself. " These afflicting thoughts were succeeded by others of a very different kind. Ungrateful as thou art, cried I, what is it thou darest complain of? Thou murmurest against God because thou alone hast been saved; is not that an act of his kind providence, for which thou oughtest to return him thy sincere thanks? What hadst thou done to merit this special favour? Certainly nothing. But why has God preserved thy life? It is, that thou mayest amend it; that thou mayest repent of thy faults, and submit to the labours and privations which thy situation requires of thee. Bow then to His will, and think of all the favours "He has bestowed on thee, to make thee grateful." I reflected, that I might have landed on a country infested with wild beasts, by whom I should have been devoured; or on a spot so barren that I should have perished with famine; and that I was indebted to the fatherly care of my Creator, for all the resources I had met with in my island. I was so moved with these affecting thoughts, that my tears of despair were changed into tears of tenderness. My mind being relieved by these last reflections, I was enabled before morning to enjoy a few hours' sleep.
My enclosure was finished the next day, an I resumed my intention of making a journey, as I could be absent from my beloved animals for some days without anxiety. Besides a store of forage which I had provided them with, my goat could browse on the shoots of the young trees which surrounded her park, and when she should have eaten those within the fence, those on the outside would keep it sufficiently thick.
On this occasion, I only took with me some oysters and acorns; the potatoes were no longer of use to me, and I left the care of my subsistence to Providence. I and my dog set off before sunrise, and I pursued the same route as I had done before. On arriving on the bank of the river, and under the beautiful cocoa trees, I mounted them with facility, and procured an excellent breakfast. Following the course of the river, and continuing my march towards the north, I perceived at some distance a little grove which appeared very inviting; but, in order to get to it, I was forced to pass a large piece of ground covered with rushes, which were lying, down confusedly in all directions, and impeded my walking very much. Castor went first and cleared the way for me, I followed slowly. To support me in this difficult march, I cut a large reed; in leaning upon it, I found my hand moistened with a glutinous juice which ran out of it, and discovered with equal surprise and joy that it was sugar. I had learned on ship- board that it was canes which produced it, and made no doubt that I had found this valuable plant. I ate a good quantity of it, and felt myself refreshed and strengthened by this excellent juice. I cut a dozen of these canes, and walking on with fresh vigour gained the little wood, which was chiefly composed of citron trees. "Bravo! Felix," cried I; "let us now have some lemonade, there is but little trouble in making it; I will squeeze some of the juice of the sugar canes into a cocoa-nut cup, which, mixed with that of some citrons, will afford me a drink both pleasant and wholesome." The sun now shining with its full strength, I laid down on the turf and slept soundly; on waking, I found a pleasant cool air blowing, which invited me to continue my journey. Before quitting the wood, I made a very agreeable discovery, which was of some trees much resembling our acacias; they bore beautiful flowers, and were furnished with strong thorns, growing by threes together; they were so sharp that they might be made into a dangerous weapon. I saw at the first view what use I might convert them to: I thought that by drying them in the sun they would become hard enough to supply the place of nails: I cut a great number of them, tied them together with string, and threw them over my shoulder on a stick.
On going out of the wood, I came to a field covered with rice; the sight of this, at first, rejoiced me much, but I soon recollected that the being deprived of fire prevented me from deriving any advantage from it: the only part which appeared useful was the straw, which I did not despair of being able to plait and make me a hat, which I very much needed to defend me from the heat of the sun. I soon after mounted on a little rising ground, from whence I discovered another part of the coast, of so different an aspect from what I had already seen, that I determined to examine it more closely. Expecting to be able to reach it on the next day, I descended into the plain, and after having supped on acorns and cocoa nuts, and drank a cup of lemonade, disposed myself on a tree, to take my night's rest. My travelling companion was less inconvenienced than myself, in procuring food; he often found, among the high grass, the nests of different birds, whose young he snapped up greedily; he sometimes brought me a part of his prey, which only served to renew my regret at being unable to profit by it.
The next day was a very fatiguing owe, I scarcely took time for rest, but gathered some fresh sugar canes as I went along, and found a place abounding with strawberries, which were a great refreshment to me. The sea breezes tempered the heat: this fortunate circumstance enabled me to attain my object before night. Being extremely fatigued, my only object, on arriving, was to seek that repose I was so much in want of.
I arose very early in the morning to make my observations; the coast in this place was guarded entirely by rocks of the most varied and singular forms; the water came in at high tide, and afforded opportunity of taking a bath in the most commodious manner possible; salt was there in abundance; the sand was covered with shell-fish of every species; among a great number of oysters and muscles, I recognised scollops, of which I should have made a good repast if I had been able to cook them.
I visited the chain of rocks which lined the shore, and discovered one which had an opening like that of a cavern, but it was so completely stopped up by a great number of thorny plants that it was impossible for me to penetrate into it: my knife was not strong enough to cut these thick brambles, and after having torn my hands till they were covered with blood, I was constrained to give up the attempt. It was with the greatest grief that now, for the first time since my shipwreck, I began to consider that the fine weather which I then enjoyed would not last for ever, but that winter would succeed, and that my pretty cottage, of which I had been so proud, would not resist the heavy rains, and might be blown down by a gust of wind: it was then of consequence for me to contrive a shelter, more secure, and fitter to resist the tempests; I could think of no better plan than to inhabit the hollow of some rock; and thought I had now found one, which might serve me as a retreat, but insurmountable obstacles prevented my entrance. If I had at least but a hatchet, said I, weeping bitterly, I would cut all these briars, even should it take me many hours to do it: if I had tinder, I could set them on fire; it would only burn these hateful plants, without consuming the stones; but all these means I am deprived of, and am fated to perish by cold, or by the rains. It was not long before I repented of these fresh murmurs. "My God!" cried I, "thou hast not preserved me in shipwreck to abandon me in distress: it is now a long time that I have been supported here by the care of thy Providence. I will still trust in it, and expect every thing from. thy goodness." Re-animated by this prayer, I walked along the shore, eating now and then oysters and muscles, when to my extreme surprise, I discovered a large chest of very hard wood, half buried in the sand; I concluded that it must have come from some ship which had been cast away upon the coast, and the hope of finding in it something which might be useful to me, excited me to employ all my efforts to get it open. It was necessary to take the opportunity of low water, for at the flood, the chest was covered with the sea, which was the cause of much sand being amassed round it; I cleared away with much trouble, and at length discovered the lock, which was so strong that it was impossible to break it. If I had been able cut the wood all round, I could have got it open but I tried in vain, and this fruitless attempt cost me dear, for I broke my knife, which was a most serious misfortune; I had now no longer the means of opening the cocoa nuts, which were my principal subsistence: I blamed myself for this accident, because I ought to have reflected that even could I have succeeded in breaking the lock my strength would have been insufficient to up the lid of the chest. So much ill success had plunged me in grief. I the more regretted not being able to establish myself in this part of the island, as it was here that I should have found the greatest number of resources united. Shell-fish abounded on the coast, potatoes grew behind the rocks; clumps of trees, scattered here and there, offered me the nutritious cocoa, the wholesome citron, the Indian fig, and many other fruits whose names I was ignorant of, but whose flavour was delicious. Brooks flowed on every side; willows and oziers grew on their banks, wild goats came there in flocks to drink, and I should have hoped to catch some of them; but was forced to renounce all these advantages, as I could not construct a dwelling more secure than that which I already possessed: I therefore resolved to return thither, hoping to divert my grief by the sight of my property, and more especially of my little flock. I did not easily find my way back, or rather took another, and much longer way; I passed several nights in the open air, and did not arrive at home until the fourteenth day after my departure. I found my hut and my enclosure in very good order, and my dear little animals in perfect health; the kids were cropping the herbage, which decked the park, and could already reach the branches of the young trees. Seeing them in a condition to provide for their own subsistence, I did not hesitate to milk the goat, and filled one of my cocoa-nut cups with her milk; I drank it with delight, after having squeezed into it the juice of a sugar-cane. This beverage recruited my strength, which my painful journey had exhausted; and wishing to give up the rest of the day to repose, I drove my goat and her young ones out of the park, and tied the mother to a tree, by a long string, which allowed her to stray to a certain distance. I might even have dispensed with this precaution; she was become quite tame, knew my voice, and would have followed me like a dog; the kids skipped around their mother, and I sat enjoying this interesting sight. I then contemplated my cottage, which made a very charming appearance, especially in the eyes of the architect; and the park, situated in the front, added to the effect. The foliage of the young trees was become very thick; the bushy and thorny plants, with which I had filled up the intervals, had climbed up the trunks of the trees, and were covered with flowers of such various colours that I seemed in the midst of a parterre; I particularly noticed those which have before spoken of, and whose bright red blossoms outshone all the rest. I took a branch of this shrub, to examine it more closely, stripped off the bark, and drew out a piece of dry, spongy pith; without any motive, I stripped several other branches, and made a little heap of this pith, having no idea that it could be of any use to me. The misfortune of being deprived fire recurred to my mind, and caused me many sighs: I took my steel from my pocket, and with my flint struck out sparks merely for amusement; when, O joyful surprise! some of them fell upon the pith of the red flowered plant, which quickly kindled; and I saw myself provided with excellent tinder, and in possession of a precious treasure. The joy which seized my mind caused me to commit a thousand extravagancies. I called Castor to me, kissed him, and hugged him in my arms, as if to make him partake of my pleasure; the good dog returned my endearments, without comprehending the motive of them. I ran and jumped about as if I had lost my senses. When I became a little more tranquil, I considered that it was God to whom owed the blessing, by which I was so overjoyed, and returned him thanks from the very bottom of my heart. Night being come, I drove my animals back into the park, and retired with my dog into my hut, where my excellent bed of dry leaves yielded me sincere pleasure.
The next day, on waking, I found so many things to do, that I was at a loss which to begin with. After saying my prayers, I milked my goat, and divided her milk with my trust Castor; then walked to the shore, to seek for turtles' eggs. I had fared but scantily a long while, and was willing to make up for it. I found half-a-dozen eggs, and there still remained some potatoes in the hut; I lighted a good fire, and roasted them; placed the eggs in the ashes, and prepared myself a hearty dinner. My mind was however, less taken up with what I was then engaged in, than with a design I had formed of returning soon to the place where I wished to establish my winter dwelling. By means of fire I hoped to effect an entrance into the cavern: the chest I had found, also occupied much of my thoughts; I racked my invention for some method of opening it; endeavoured to guess what it might contain, but bewildered myself in my conjectures. If it should be clothes, said I, they will come very opportunely, for soon, mine will fall to rags; and should I be left naked, the heat of the sun would be insupportable. If I should find in it fire arms and ammunition, I could kill birds, and many of that kind of hares which have already furnished me so many good dishes of roast meat.
While my dinner was cooking, I employed myself in putting the park in order. I set my stock at liberty, to feed in its environs; they did not abuse this indulgence, but kept near my dwelling. I removed the old litter, gave them fresh, and made a new provision of forage, to last during the absence which I meditated; in short, took care to supply my animals with everything necessary.
I quitted my abode a third time, but without much preparation for my subsistence. Provided with a flint and steel, and with a good quantity of the precious pith which served me for tinder, I was secure from the want of food. I walked on briskly, not being much loaded, and the desire of arriving at my journey's end, lent me wings. I found nothing fresh in a route had already travelled over; and besides, did not bestow any time in making observations. On the fourth day, I reached the desired spot; it was yet so early, that I would not put off the execution of my project. I made a fire, and put some potatoes, which I had taken up by the way, to roast; when the wood was well lighted, I seized a flaming brand, ran to the rock, and thrust it among the roots and brambles which stopped up the opening; the flame communicated rapidly from one to the other, and produced so thick a smoke that I could not distinguish the cavern In less than an hour, the fire devoured all that was on the outside, and from thence gained the interior, where it consumed every thing that could serve to feed it; after which it appeared extinguished, the smoke began to clear away by degrees, and discovered to me an opening, whose height did not much exceed my own, but of the width of an ordinary door. I was about to enter with my usual thoughtlessness, but new clouds of black noxious smoke burst forth, and had nearly suffocated me. I got away quickly, and sat myself down at some distance, to consider what I had best do. It was evident that the fire, which I thought extinct, was still burning under the ashes, and that it would perhaps remain stifling there for a long while; I saw the necessity of checking my impatience, and, in order to divert it, went to he chest, the second object of my desires and anxieties. It lay dry, the tide being down; I examined it afresh on all sides, and perceiving still the same impossibility of either opening or breaking it, I fell into a profound reverie. On a, sudden the thought struck me, that I would set fire to it. I may hope to save some of the things contains, said I; when then the fire has consumed one end, I will use all my efforts to put it out; it cannot burn very rapidly, since the sea covers it every day. When the fire is out, I can take possession of what remains uninjuried [sic]; whereas, if I do not adopt this plan, I shall never benefit by what it contains. On this occasion, I had not to reproach myself with acting too precipitately; it was after much reflection, that I determined to make use of this expedient. I had the patience to wait the return of the tide, considering that the sea in rising would reach the chest, and assist me powerfully in putting out the fire. The moment being arrived, I carried several lighted branches, and placing them close to the chest, watched, with a palpitating heart, the fire, which, catching the wood, soon blackened, and afterwards began to burn it. As I had forseen [sic], its progress was but slow; I stood by, observing it with a mixture of hope and fear; at length, one end of it having been consumed without producing a flame, I thought it time to put a stop to the fire. Having nothing to fetch water in but my cocoa- nut cups, this method would have been too tedious; I therefore thought of taking wet sand to throw upon the fire, and to make a heap before the place where it was burning. In the mean time the sea reached it, and at times the waves covered it entirely; so that, by their help, I completely extinguished the fire, which had effected as opening large enough to admit me easily; but this day was destined for the exercising of my patience; it was necessary to wait for the ebbing of the tide, and to remove the sand with which I had stopped the hole, before I could ascertain what were the fruits of my labours.
The being obliged to remain idle, reminded me that I was hungry, which the continual occupation of my mind had prevented my thinking of. I went to take up my potatoes, but, owing to the long time they had been left in the ashes, and the too strong fire they had been exposed to, they were burnt to cinders. How was this to be remedied? I had learned better than to shed useless tears whenever I was vexed; I therefore went to the shore, where the sight of some scollops gave me much pleasure; for a long time I had been desirous of eating some; I placed them on the hot ashes to make them open, then cleaned them from the sand which had got in; and, after squeezing some citron juice into the deepest shell, placed them on a slow fire, and when cooked they made me an excellent dinner. After this repast, I took a walk round the rocks, to collect some potatoes for the following days: I could bring home but a few at a time, having only my two pockets and my hankerchief to carry them in: I resolved, therefore, to make a basket of oziers; having seen a basket-maker in our neighbourhood at his work, I flattered myself that I should be able to imitate him, at least so far as to answer my purpose.
I slept but little this night, so much was I taken up with the important events of the preceding day. Will the cave in the rock be large enough to serve me as an habitation? Will it not be so dark, that I shall be unable to do any thing within it? What shall I find in the chest? Will not the water have spoiled whatever it contains? Such were the questions I asked myself, and which kept me a long time awake. As soon as daylight appeared, I came down from the tree where I had been perched; and, after addressing my prayers to God, I proceeded immediately to the chest, and began removing the sand from the opening; my dog assisted me in this work, by scratching it away with his paws. This faithful animal had so much instinct, that he comprehended whatever I wished him to understand; and so much docility, that he obeyed the slightest sign.
As soon as it was practicable, I thrust my arm into the chest, and drew out a little hatchet: nothing could have been so acceptable, it more than compensated for my broken knife; I might now easily cut wood, and undertake many works. I sought with fresh ardour, and my joy was increased at finding a saw, two hammers, and bag of nails of different sizes. In drawing out these precious articles, which was done with some difficulty, I enlarged the opening very much, and drew out of it more hatchets and saws, both large and small; pincers, gimlets and a quantity of other tools, of which I neither knew the name nor the use. Some were so large and heavy, that I was forced to leave them where they were. Some of the handles of the saws and hatchets the fire had destroyed, but as many as I had need of remained entire. Behind the large articles which I could not remove, there were yet many other things, which I wished to get possession of; but, having already several sorts of instruments, I did not despair of being able to break up the chest, and make myself master of what remained in it.
A miser who has just found a treasure, is not more enraptured than I was, in contemplating my newly acquired riches. The chest had been a carpenter's, which the waves had driven on the shore of my island, and I met with it at a time when it was the most necessary of any thing I could have been provided with. I admired this fresh instance of God's goodness, and returned him thanks with tears of gratitude and joy. I carried all that I had taken out of the chest near to the cavern, hoping to be able to use them the next day. Castor afforded me a pleasant surprise, by bringing an agouti larger than any he had before killed; I intended to make shoes, or rather a kind of sandals, of his skin; my shoes being so much worn, that my feet were torn by the thorns, or cut by the flints. I skinned the animal as neatly as I could, and nailed its skin on the trunk of a tree, that it might not shrink. I afterwards spitted the body, and it may be imagined whether I and my companion did not make a hearty meal. I saved the fat of the agouti, and rubbed the skin over with it several times, to soften and render it more pliant.
I went often to visit the opening of the rock; there issued no more smoke, and I doubled not that I should be able to enter the next day. At day-break I armed myself with a hatchet, and entered the cavern boldly, only taking the precaution to send in my dog before, whose barking would have given me notice had there been any danger. We walked at first over a heap of ashes, but they were cold, which proved that the fire had been extinguished for some time. I went first to the right hand wall of the grotto, then to the left, to ascertain in some measure its width. I counted twenty-two of my steps between the two walls: my next care was to find out its depth, in order to which I walked straight forward; while near the mouth of the cavern, I had sufficient light to direct me, but as I went forward it diminished sensibly, and I found myself at last in complete darkness. After counting fifty steps, I was stopped by a wall of rock, and knew that the grotto extended no farther. It was very spacious, and well adapted to serve me as a place of retreat; but what a dismal habitation! where the day-light never penetrated. How could I work in this dark cell? Nevertheless, I wished to improve and furnish it; my head was full of schemes, but this terrible darkness prevented the execution of them. I was not easily disheartened; but resolved to inhabit for the present the entrance of the cavern, which admitted a degree of light; at least to pass the nights there, and to lay up my tools and my provisions in it; and did not despair of being able to invent some means of introducing a little light into the interior. During eight whole days I was engaged in fruitless endeavours. I climbed on the outside of the rock, and searched in every crevice; I put wedges, which I drove by striking them with all my strength with a hammer; when I succeded in splitting off a piece of stone, I expected was about to perforate a hole which would admit the light. Always disappointed of my hopes, faint with fatigue, and grieved at my ill success, I was going to abandon my undertaking, when I observed a hollow, in which a tuft of plants had grown, which appeared to receive more nourishment than those which sprang out of the rock. I concluded that there was more earth in that place than elsewhere, and that it would perhaps be easier to pierce through. I quickly tore up all the plants, and dug away the earth with shells, sharp stones, and my hatchet, and met with no rock, which circumstance strengthened my hopes. I threw aside the earth which I took out of the hole; but I deemed myself still far from attaining my object, when it broke through, and the shell which I was using fell to the bottom of the cavern. I was so transported with joy, that I remained motionless: my zeal, however, was soon re[-]animated; I continued to scratch and clear away the earth, and at length succeeded in making a hole of about a foot square. Very well satisfied with my work, I thought about taking rest, and strengthening myself by some food; but before preparing my repast, I wished to go into my grotto; for when any important work engaged my attention, eating and drinking were but secondary considerations. I saw, with very great pleasure, that the window I had perforated let in sufficient light for distinguishing objects. Castor appeared to partake of my joy and jumped round me, as if to congratulate me on my success.
I had reason to be satisfied with my new dwelling; the floor of it was even, and covered with a very fine, dry, white sand; the walls were composed of glittering stones, and seemed sprinkled with particles of gold and silver; the roof, which in some places was very lofty, became lower towards the farther end, where the width of the cave decreased very much, and formed a sort of closet; this was the only part which had no light. I intended to store my provisions here, for I considered that, during the winter, I should find neither fruits nor potatoes, and that I should act prudently in providing beforehand for it. I wished also to lodge my goats in another part of the cavern, during the severe season, to preserve them from injury.
A thousand different thoughts occupied my mind, which became completely confused. I had so much work on my hands, that it seemed impossible to get through it all. I should have wished to do every thing at once, and the hastiness of my disposition was such, that it needed much reflection to make me determine on doing one thing before I began another. Before commencing my great works, I thought it right, to make a journey to my hut, and bring away the flock, on whose account I was always anxious when absent from them. I feared lest they should be in want of food, and that as the kids had quite given over sucking, the mother might lose her milk, which would deprive me of one great resource for the winter. Since I had introduced the light into the grotto, I had removed my bed farther from the opening, into a nook in the rock which formed an alcove; this was a fortunate circumstance, for during the night I was awakened by loud claps of thunder. I sat up, and admired the effects of the lightning on my brilliant walls, which seemed to sparkle with a thousand fires. The noise of the thunder, repeated by the echoes of the rocks, was so awfully grand, that I listened to it with delight The storm went off with so violent a rain, that water which fell through the window, and entered at the door, overflowed a great part of the cavern, but did not reach my sleeping place. This deluge lasted more than two hours, during which I was forced to remain inactive in the same place. At length the rain ceased, the sky became clear, and the sand of the grotto absorded [sic] the water which had entered. I then went out, and saw with dismay the ravages the tempest had made; many trees were blown down by the violence of the wind, the country was inundated, and I walked up to my knees in water. O! how fortunate I deemed myself in having a substantial dwelling place, which would secure me against these terrible storms; I immediately formed the project of rendering it more close, by stopping up the window on such occurrences as this. I felt great anxiety respecting my hut of boughs, my park, and my flock, but I could not travel that day; it was necessary to allow time for the waters to subside. In the mean time, I went on the shore, where the raging of the waves had driven so great a quantity of shell-fish, that I soon made an ample provision of them, I had emptied one of the nail bags, which I had found, into a corner of the grotto, and it was now very useful in conveying any thing I had occasion to remove; I filled it with scollops, oysters, muscles [sic], and a kind of shells shaped like knives, which were very sharp, and might supply the place of the knife I had broken.
After having stowed all these in the cavern, I went to visit the chest, and perceived, with much pleasure, that during the preceding night, the waves had battered it so much that the planks began to part asunder. I took the largest axe I was able to lift, and drove wedges between them, by which I contrived to separate many of them. What an increase of treasure! I now saw he means of making a door to my grotto, and a shutter to my window. In a short time, all that remained in the chest was discovered to view: among the articles too heavy for me to remove, were three other bags of nails, an iron crow, sundry joiner's tools, and by a most fortunate chance, a little cast-iron pot with a cover. This last prize made me leap for joy; I was now enabled to make broth, and to boil my potatoes, my fish, and my eggs. I employed myself this day in transporting to my dwelling, with much labour, my new acquisitions. The planks I drew up high on the beach, that the sea might not wash them away, resolving to work on them where they laid; the rest of the day was occupied in arranging my effects, in such a manner, that I could easily find whatever I wanted, without throwing the others into confusion. A sound sleep made amends for the restless night I had passed, and I was the next day ready to proceed on my journey. I took the shortest way, passing through the rice fields; now that I possessed the means of making a fire, this was an abundant granary for me, which would insure me subsistence during the inclement season: but it would needful for me to purchase this blessing by many cares and fatigues; the grain must be carried home, beaten out of the straw, and laid in a heap in the recess at the lower end of the cavern.
My heart sunk in approaching my former dwelling place. Alas! I scarce knew it again; the roof of rushes was entirely broken in, the walls of boughs half thrown down; it no longer afforded means of shelter. The park had suffered less: the young trees which I had planted had taken root, and shot out so many branches on all sides, that they were interwoven, and mutually supported each other; and besides, these being pliable, by yielding and bending to the storm, escaped being broken. My flock did not appear to have suffered, but the goat was incommoded by her milk; the young ones scarcely sucked at all, and the poor animal was greatly relieved at being milked. I also received much pleasure in drinking a cup of her milk; this refreshing beverage recruited my strength, after my fatigues,
Having deliberated on the subject a long while, I decided not to repair my hut at present, but to go and inhabit my grotto until the winter, which I expected would soon commence, should be passed. I then proposed to retire to this place, and to construct a new cottage, much more substantial than the former, which I could without much difficulty effect, being now furnished with tools. I could dig deeper, and drive my stakes so that they should not be easily shaken. I wished to make, in this gayer and more smiling spot, a country house to pass the summer in; for which purpose it would be necessary to bring hither a lot of my tools, and I already conceived in my mind the method I would employ to accomplish that object: at present my most urgent business was, to conduct my flock to the grotto, and to apply myself entirely to the works which I ought to finish before the bad weather.
The third day after my arrival, I quitted this place with my little caravan. I led the goat with a string, the kids followed, and Castor brought up the rear. When the little ones strayed, he quickly brought them back. I stopped now and then, where the grass was the thickest, to let my flock graze: in one of these halts, my dog, who had wandered at some little distance, began to bark and howl in an unusual manner, as if he had been hurt or scared by some ferocious animal: I was much alarmed, but could not leave my faithful animal without assistance: I had no other arms than a hatchet, but I determined to make use of that to defend my dear Castor: I advanced cautiously, looking round me on all sides, and perceived him engaged with an enemy whose appearance was more singular than terrifying: it was an animal of the size of a large cat, covered with spikes, which struck out of his body like quills. Castor had thought fit to attack him, as his bleeding muzzle testified: on a sudden, the animal rolled himself up like a ball, presenting to us his bristling darts, with a rattling noise: I took my hatchet in both hands, and levelled so violent a blow at him, that the ground was sprinkled with his blood; he gave such a terrible spring up, that I drew back quickly, but returning to the attack, repeated my blows till I killed him. I confess that I felt very proud of this victory, the first I had ever gained in my life, and much wished to carry off the body of my enemy; but that was not possible, as I knew not where to take hold of him; I therefore contented myself then with cutting off with my hatchet, all the animal's darts, which were so strong and sharp, that I conceived, if I could contrive to pierce a hole through the thickest end of them, they would serve well for needles, to sew the skins of which I intended to make my clothes. Those who shall read this relation will, no doubt, be better informed than I was then, and will discover from the description I have given, that this animal was a porcupine.
This was the only remarkable circumstance in my journey. I arrived safely at my dwelling, established my flock in their new abode, and not being inclined that day to set about any thing fatiguing, employed myself in working up the skin of the agouti, to defend my feet from the wounds they had been exposed to since I had been without shoes. I cut out the soles in the best manner I was able, and afterwards made some straps to fasten them on the feet and round the legs: to join them together, it was necessary to have needles, and I took the following method to procure them. I made a pointed nail red hot in a strong fire, laid hold on the head of it with my handkerchief wetted, and bored a hole through the thick end of the porcupine's quills; this succeeding perfectly well, I had very good needles, and was enabled to fix the straps of skin firmly to the soles, so that I might now walk without being hurt. The evening was occupied in providing food for several days, that I might work without interruption. I made use of my pot to cook crabs, muscles, and other shell-fish, waiting till the success of my dog in the chase should furnish me with the means to make broth.
The first thing then that I set about was the making a door for my grotto. What trouble and fatigue it cost me! I first measured the width and length of the opening, and afterwards sawed the top of the chest, which remained entire, into the same dimensions. It may be imagined that this took a considerable time; but when this was done, I was not much the forwarder. It required to be conveyed to the cavern; and, though the distance was not very great, I could not accomplish this, as I was scarcely able to move it: thus I again suffered for my want of foresight, and was forced to be content with shutting up my grotto with a kind of hurdle, formed of branches woven together. I succeeded better with my window shutter, as it was much less; I finished it in a few days, and placed it near my window, to be used at night or during the rains. My next care was my rice harvest and my potatoes, and I now congratulated myself in having some good large bags: without the assistance of these, how could I have carried home my stores? In the space of fifteen days, I had gathered in grain and potatoes enough for the consumption of such a lad as myself: the whole was lodged in the driest part of my dwelling, and I began to use rice milk, of which I was very fond; at other times I cooked the rice in water, and let it boil away till it was quite dry; I then used it as bread, with eggs or shell-fish, which I was seldom in want of; these, relished with salt or citron juice, made a very tolerable meat.
Hitherto, I had always made my fire in the open air: but I considered that, in heavy rains, I should never be able to light one, or that, if lighted, it would be immediately put out. I saw the necessity of constructing a fire-place within the grotto; the great difficulty, however, was, how to make a passage for the smoke to go out, that I might not be suffocated by it. I first sought for some flat stones, and ranged them one upon another, placing between them a layer of an unctuous earth, which I thought likely to serve as cement. I built two walls, as high as my waist, and laid a plank across the top, plastered with the same kind of earth, to prevent its catching fire. I had fixed this fireplace near my window, and had the good luck to find another opening in the rock, that had been stopped only by earth and grass, which I removed, and made a hole large enough to pass my two hands through: I then sawed four very narrow boards, and put them into the hole, fastening them firmly with large nails; this formed a kind of chimney, which conducted the smoke outside. It was impossible to be more pleased than I was with this invention: I was willing to make an immediate trial of it, by setting the pot on my new fire-place. While my rice was boiling, I took a walk on the shore. I had often seen on the brink of the sea enormous turtles, which deposited their eggs in the sand, and provided me such excellent repasts; I should have very well liked to catch some of them, for I had learned from the sailors that they were very fine food, and that they made good soup of them; I knew also that, in order to prevent their running back to the sea, the turtles must be turned on their backs, but all that I had hitherto seen were too large and heavy to admit of my doing this. I now met with one that was much less, and which I hoped to be able to manage. I called Castor, that he might cut off her retreat, and approaching cautiously, threw her dexterously on her back; the turtle being unable either to escape or to defend herself, was then in my power. I killed her with my hatchet, and on opening her, found twenty-two eggs; I afterwards cut off a large piece, which I put into my porridge pot; then returning to my prize, and having cut it entirely to pieces without breaking the upper shell, I found myself possessed of a handsome trough, which I soon made use of to a good purpose; the sight of so handy a vessel gave me the idea of salting the turtle, to preserve it. I recollected what I had seen my mother do, when she was salting pork, and I acted in the same manner. I carried my shell-trough into the grotto, and likewise all the flesh of my turtle; then placed a layer of salt, and one of meat alternately, until the trough was full, then cover the whole with salt the thickness of my finger, and placed upon this some ends of boards, and lastly some heavy stones to press it down; this done, I returned to my cookery: I found it done to a nicety, and had the pleasure of eating an excellent rice soup; the turtle's flesh also was much to my taste, and Castor regaled himself with it as well as I.
The most urgent of my affairs seemed to be dispatched: I had provided for my winter's subsistence, and had a commodious retreat to protect me from the inclemency of the weather. I turned my thoughts to what I should next employ myself about. Since I have been here, said I to myself, I have not had a moment of ennui; nevertheless, I have not a single companion to speak to, or who can speak to me; I have not a kite, nor playthings of any kind: how happens it, then, that the days pass away so quickly, and that I never find them tiresome? Oh! I know why; it is because my mind and my hands are always employed. But in the bad weather, when the rains prevent my going abroad, how shall I pass my time? I have no company, no books, nor means of writing? If I am without occupation, I shall die of wearisomeness: it is only work that can preserve me: what can I do better than prepare for it beforehand? I shall make some baskets, to hold my stores; and will go and collect a quantity of oziers and young branches of willow, which I will lay up in the cavern. Oh! if I could but kill some goats before the winter, and prepare their skins, I could then make clothes for myself. Well then, enough said; this is what I must immediately make my chief concern; if I succeed, the dismal wet days will be passed in tailor's work, or in basket- making.
This project was well conceived, but the execution of it. was difficult. I saw no other way of taking the goats, than by spreading a large net in the way which they passed in going to drink. I intended to watch them, accompanied by my dog; to come suddenly upon them, and by my shouts, and the barking of Castor, put them to flight, when I hoped that some of them would fall into my nets, where I could easily kill them. But the misfortune was, that my string was used up; I tried to make some with several fibrous plants, and that which appeared fittest for the purpose was the outer coat of the cocoa nut; I drew from thence a kind of thread, with which I made small cords by twisting them with a piece of wood cut into the form of a spindle. I had often seen the fishermen at work on their nets; I formed a mesh and needle, and succeeded in making a large and strong net. I then applied myself wholly to the chase; I was so successful that I scarcely passed a day without taking a goat or a kid: I killed the old ones, stripped them, and put their skins to dry; the young ones I added to my flock, which now consisted, exclusive of my first goat, of nine kids, male and female. I determined likewise to make a quantity of nets of different sizes, some to take birds and others to catch fish. I was very well pleased with the precautions I had taken against the necessity of remaining inactive. The rains began with such violence, that for many days it was impossible to go out of doors; how I congratulated myself in being provided with employment! Exercise and labour had considerably increased my strength, and the habit of reflecting on what was useful had enlarged my ideas, so that both in body and mind I was much forwarder than the generality of children. Necessity had rendered me industrious, and above all, observant. For example, when the bad weather began, my first thought was, that I ought to calculate the time of its continuance, in order to know how to provide for the following years; for this purpose I took a large calabash, and every day put a stone to it, intending to count them at the end of the winter.
I began my works by that of making baskets, which I wrought of all shapes and sizes. I must confess their form was not very elegant, but they were strong, and I found them very serviceable; I wove two large strong ones to lay up my rice in, where it was kept much cleaner than heaped in my magazine. Whenever there happened a day free from rain, I took the advantage of it to go out and collect grass, that my animals should not want food. Castor also went out on those days, and sometimes regaled me with game, at other times potatoes, rice and goat's milk furnished my kitchen abundantly; and if food had failed me, I could have killed one of the kids; but these creatures, which I had domesticated, which I had fed with so much care, and which formed part of my family, I was become extremely fond of; and it would have been only in the greatest extremity that I could have prevailed on myself to kill them. I did not, however, wish that my flock should increase, and concluding that they would breed in the spring, I had resolved to kill the young ones as soon as they had left off sucking, which would be a twofold advantage, in procuring me plenty of milk, as well as providing me with skin for making clothes. The turtle I had salted kept very well; when I had consumed it, I watched an opportunity of catching another, which I managed in the same manner, and whose shell furnished me with another trough, and the means of augmenting my salt provisions.
When I was well stocked with wicker work, I drove large nails into the clefts of the rock, and hung against the walls of the grotto, baskets filled with all my provisions. I also secured my nails and my small iron articles, in the same manner; my stores being arranged in such good order, my dwelling was not encumber by them.
All that annoyed me was, the having so little light; frequently the rain obliged me to keep my window shutter close, I was then deprived of the light from the window, and was forced to work near the door; besides which, the days were short and it was necessary to leave off work early; I had then no resource against ennui, or idleness; I became wretched, and all my thoughts were melancholy. Seeing myself abundantly supplied with the necessaries of life, I felt the more poignant regret at not having a companion to share them with me; the least amiable of all my former comrades would have formed an invaluable society for me, and his friendship would have made the happiness of my life. The caresses of my dog did not satisfy me. I wanted a being who could partake of my pains and my pleasures. These reflections made me shed bitter tears, which began as soon as it was dark, and I often passed several hours weeping before I went to bed.
One night, when I was overwhelmed with grief, a very happy thought came into my mind, which restored my courage, and enabled me to overcome my sorrow. I spoke thus to myself: Of what use are all the tears and afflictions to which I give myself up? My useless regrets will not procure me what I want. If God has decreed that I am to spend my life in complete solitude, His will must be accomplished in spite of my murmurs; it will therefore be much wiser in me to submit with resignation, and to endeavour to render my situation as little wretched as possible. One part of the day hangs heavily on my hand, because I am in darkness, and cannot employ myself; but there are two kinds of employment, that of the body and that of the mind. It is true I have neither books, nor pens, nor paper, to occupy my mind, but I have a memory; what then prevents my recalling all that I have formerly learned, all I have read at home or at school? Will not this be as well as if I was listening to stories, or reading afresh? I will also recollect all I have thought, and all I have done since my abode in this island. How do I know but that I may find something to supply the place of paper? I will then write my adventures, and I am sure they will be very amusing. This idea occupied me the whole of the evening; I dried up my tears, and went to repose on my leafy couch with my heart more at ease than usual.
My readers, if I have any, will perhaps I surprised that a lad scarcely thirteen years old should be capable of reasoning thus; but I beg them to observe, that from the situation in which I was placed, all my thoughts were bent on what was useful; and that not being diverted by the plays common to those of my age, nor disturbed by the frivolous talk of other children, I was incessantly employed in reflection, so that the instructions I had received from my good parents and teachers, shot forth, if I may so say, in solitude, like seed sown in a soil where it meets with nothing to impede its growth.
I had calculated the time by moons. It was the 21st of April when I suffered shipwreck. I was then 12 years and a half old; I had counted four moons from that time to the beginning of the rainy season, which I judged to be the end of the month of August: I have shown the method I adopted to know exactly how long it continued and have not to reproach myself with having lost a single day in my reckoning. My clothes being quite worn out, I made others of goats' skins: they consisted of a kind of coat, very wide, and reaching to the knees; it was formed of two pieces joined together by a coarse seam, to accomplish which I had made use of my porcupine needles, and some thread I had spun in the manner I have related: this garment was fastened round my waist, with a strap of the same skin. I likewise made gaiters, to defend my legs from the stings of insects, and several pairs of sandals, for they lasted but a short time. My head also needed protection from the sun beams, by which I was often incommoded. I plaited some oziers into the shape of a pointed cap, not much unlike bishop's mitre, and covered it with skin, the hair outwards, like my garments. With these equipments I might have been taken for a little bear; be that as it may, I was very well pleased with my performance, and the assurance it gave me of being always clothed. The dark and rainy days were passed in these employments, and the evening in those by which I had contrived to banish ennui or vacancy of thought. I had read the Bible, and the Evangelists over again during three or four years; deeply impressed on my memory, I took pleasure in recalling them, according to the series of the events. I soon had in my mind a connected history, commencing at the creation of the world, and ending at the death of Jesus Christ. How much did I desire to be able to write! I should then have enriched it with the little reflections which so fine a subject gave rise to. After my sacred history, I set about digesting my adventures; and it is owing to this that I have been able to give an exact account of all that befel me on my island. I could not look back on the past without feeling penetrated by the most tender gratitude towards the God of Mercy, who had delivered me from death, and heaped so many benefits on me; nor call to mind my murmurings, without experiencing the most severe compunction: from that time I placed the most entire confidence in Providence, and my prayers were more fervent. I no longer looked upon myself as an unhappy, unprotected being, but as a child under the care of a father, ready, in every danger, to shelter me in his arms.
Besides these consolatory thoughts, I had yet the hopes that every succeeding year, by increasing my strength, would augment the means of bettering my situation. The remainder of the wet season was taken up in spinning a great quantity of string of different sizes, and in making a fishing net.
I had many subjects of astonishment, in not feeling cold, in seeing neither ice nor snow; rains, which were almost incessant, and sometimes hail. I remarked with surprise, when the weather permitted me to go out, that the trees in this happy climate always retained their verdure. At length the rains ceased, the sun shone with full splendour, and I flattered myself that the winter was past. This was a matter of extreme rejoicing; I went again to view the charming bowers of my island, to visit all my domains, to renew my stores of provisions, and vary my diet, I counted the stones which I had put day by day into the vessel, and found a hundred and fifteen, which amounted to nearly four months; I concluded, therefore, that this was about the duration of every winter in this part of the world.
Having formed great plans for travelling, I wished to be equipped accordingly. I made myself a girdle of skin, to carry a hatchet on one side, and a small saw in the other. A strong branch stripped of its leaves served me for a stick, which I bore on my shoulder in the manner of a gun, and on which I slung a basket, to carry any thing I might find worth bringing home. I likewise loaded myself with a sack, rolled it up, and fastened it on my back. I then took the road towards my country house, to drive my flock hither, and establish them in their park. The poor animals were very well pleased at having their liberty, and at browsing the fresh herbage of the field, and the young branches of the shrubs; they proceeded gaily, and Castor, overjoyed at having a run with his master, made numberless gambols, rolled himself on the turf, and overwhelmed me with his caresses.
On my arrival, I could not find any vestige of my hut, it was entirely destroyed, and the ruins of it swept away by the rains. The park, on the contrary, was in the most flourishing condition: the hedge was so thick that I could scarcely thrust my hand through it, and the young trees had shot out so many branches on all sides, that the opening I had left was quite overgrown. I lopped away the branches, which stopped it up, with my hatchet, and drove in my flock. My goat had been without milk for some time. I foresaw no inconvenience in leaving these creatures to themselves and thought there was no necessity for providing them with forage, but to leave them at liberty to go out of the park to seek their own subsistence, being well assured that they would return every night, as they could sleep there more commodiously. The good condition of my plantation made me wistful to form a similar one near my grotto, and to surround my habitation with a grove of choice trees to adorn and enliven it. I postponed the execution of this project till near the winter, thinking that the abundant rains would be favourable to their growth.
I set out, with my heart full of the hopes of making new discoveries in those parts of the island which I had not yet visited; I took the southern coast; as I could not walk on the beach, on account of the masses of sharp rocks in many places, I ascended the sloping shore, in order to descend again a little further on, but on the summit I found the trees so close together, and so entangled with brambles, that it was impossible to penetrate into the forest which offered itself to my view. I walked some time on the tops of the rocks, having on one side of me the immense ocean, and on the other this forest, which terminated my prospect. Soon, however, the trees became more widely separated, the coast less elevated, and I could see for nearly a league in front of me the shore which, like a beautiful carpet of verdure, ornamented with bowers of wood, extended itself on the southern side from east to west. I hastened to descend into this delightful natural meadow, where at every step I was presented with agreeable shades, and there I discovered new productions which I had not perceived in the other portions of the Island I had traversed. As my time was my own, and there was nothing to call me back to my dwelling, where I had left every thing in good order, I determined to examine attentively all the trees and plants around me, in order to derive some advantage from them.
I now inform my readers, that for the perspicuity of my recital, I shall henceforward give to every species the names which belong to them, and which I have learned since I quitted the island. I hitherto have described them by the analogies they bore to the articles they furnished me with for supplying my wants. I called the karatas with the red flowers, the tinder tree, because its pith served me instead of that article, and so likewise of others.
The banana first attracted my attention by its singularity. This tree, which appeared to have no trunk, resembled a number of rolls of leaves set one upon the other: its large green stalk was three times my height, but was so soft that I cut one of them down with a single blow of my hatchet, and sat down to examine it at my ease. The leaves of the banana are of an enormous size, it bears a fruit pretty much like cucumbers. I found them of a sourish taste, but very pleasant; and could not help imagining they would be much better if cooked. The hour arrived for dinner, which was to consist of eggs, birds, and potatoes. I dug a hole in the ground like a small fire place, into which I put several of the bananas and made my tire over them. This succeeded very well; I found them excellent, and almost as nutritious as bread. After this repast, I sought the thickest shade to screen me from the excessive heat; this relief was afforded me by some mangoes which raised themselves into a vast number of interwoven bowers reaching to the extremity of the shore, and even extending far into the sea, where they formed verdant arches and canopies of the most varied shapes. The mango tree, or wild fig, grows on the sea shore and in marshy grounds; its roots lift themselves out of the earth and extend on all sides, sometimes becoming of an immeasurable height. My observations however were disturbed by a very diverting spectacle; this was a fishing party, which was taking place about a hundred paces from me. The fishers were a group of large birds with flame-coloured wings, called flamingoes; they were drawn up in a line along the shore, and looked like a regiment of soldiers in red uniform ranged in battle array, This was so novel a sight to me, that it excited all my curiosity; I looked on these birds without daring to move or make the least noise, lest I should scare them away. I observed that some of them were posted as sentinels for the security of the whole troop. I hid myself among the foliage, that I might not be perceived, and amused myself some time in seeing them eat the little fishes, and dive into the mud with their long beaks to find the insects of which they are so fond. In spite of the pleasure which I had in looking at them, I wished to derive some advantage from them. I approached softly among the trees, and when I was within reach of the group, threw a large stone into the midst of them, with so true an aim that one was knocked down and severely wounded. The sentinels set up a piercing cry, and the whole flock took to their wings. I seized on the flamingo; as he was as big as myself, I could not carry him, but dragged him by a string into a shade of the mangoes: he had lost so much blood, that he had not strength to strike me with his beak. I cut off its head, and began to pluck it, intending not to roast it till the next day. I regailed Castor with the entrails, and when properly prepared hung it to the branches of the tree, in which I purposed passing the night. The coolness of the evening invited me to walk on the sea shore; I there observed many small fishes, which, no doubt, were what drew thither the fishing birds. I hastily made a line, and fastened to the end of it some of the bowels of the flamingo, and though I had no hook, succeeded in catching fish enough to make me a supper; I broiled them on the ashes, and found them excellent. I finished this interesting day by prayer and thanksgiving to God, for these fresh benefits bestowed on me, and went to repose myself among the thick foliage of a mango tree.
The next morning I bent my steps towards a beautiful wood of palm trees; my flamingo incommoded me a great deal, being very heavy, and I being already much loaded. I thought of tying it on the back of Castor; and partly by threats, and partly by coaxing, prevailed on the good creature to carry this burden, which I eased him of as soon as we reached the wood, where I intended to pass the morning and prepare my dinner; in this place I noticed the different kind of palm-trees, each of which offered me some advantage. Those which are named fan-palms are so called because the leaves are placed like a fan at the extremity of the branches: they are very lofty, but not of a corresponding thickness. I easily cut down a young one; the trunk not being very woody, it contained a great quantity of pith, resembling flax: a new material for me to make cords and strings of. I collected a quantity, which I laid to dry in the sun in order to fill my sack with it.
The cabbage-palm bears at the top, a bunch of tender leaves which is called a cabbage. It excellent food, whose taste much resembles that of an artichoke; so great a value is set upon it, that they cut down the tree in order to get at it: my ignorance prevented my procuring any food from it, but chance discovered to me that it afforded a delicious beverage. Wishing to ascertain the thickness of the bark, I made an incision in the trunk, from which there soon trickled a liquid, which I caught in a cup: it was a sweet wine, very agreeable to the palate; and remained good for three or four days, after which it turned to vinegar.
I saw likewise the sago-palm tree; had I possessed more experience, I might have procured from its pith a succulent nutritious paste How I lamented my want of instruction, which deprived me of the advantages so many different productions would have afforded, me, had I known their properties!
The superb cocoa elevated itself in the midst all these trees, and attracted my unwearied admiration: it seemed that this tree alone was sufficient for all the principal wants of man: every part of it is useful; its leaves, dried and twisted together, form a good covering for huts; like the palm tree, it supplies a pleasant liquid by means of incision, and its young fruit produces a delicious milk; when ripe, it affords a kernel white and firm as a nut, whose flavour it somewhat resembles: its shell furnishes cups, and its outer coat may be employed, as I used it, for strings and cordage.
The time had passed very quickly in contemplating so many wonderful things. It was necessary to prepare the splendid repast, which, on this day, I intended should not be deficient in any thing, since excellent wine was to crown the good cheer. The flamingo was carefully roasted; it afforded much oily fat, which I caught in a cocoa-nut cup; I had preserved in my grotto that of all the animals I had eaten; but an idea struck me at this moment, which had not before entered my mind; I thought this fat might be fit for burning, as well as that of beef or mutton. "How happy should I be," cried I, "could I but have a lamp to afford me light during the dismal winter evenings! And why not? I have all that is necessary for it; a scollop shell shall be my lamp; the thread of the stockings I have unknit will serve for wicks, and the fat of my roast meats will turn oil." I leaped for joy at this invention, but a kick which I gave the vessel overturned all the fat of the flamingo; this did not grieve me much, as I had sufficient to replace it. I recollected the fable of the milk maid and the pot of milk, which I had learned by heart, and its resemblance to my own case made me laugh heartily. In this gay humour I placed myself at table, that is to say, I sat down on the fresh turf. Leaves of the cocoa- tree served as a table cloth, on which I placed my roast fowl, accompanied, on one side, by a fine cocoa-nut, and, on the other, by a pyramid of potatoes; two cups of palm wine were at the two ends, so that nothing was wanting to render the feast sumptuous. Castor, seated in front of me, waited impatiently for his share of the game; like a good master I helped him first, and we both not only satisfied our hunger, but indulged our appetites.
In the afternoon I mounted several trees to seek for nests, and found those of pigeons and doves; but my most valuable discovery was a parroquet's nest; the young had been hatched some days, and began to be fledged. I took the one that appeared to be the strongest, wishing to breed it up, under the pleasing idea of teaching it to talk, and to hear once more something resembling human accents. I came down carefully with my little prisoner; it was trembling all over; I encouraged it by caresses, warmed it in my bosom, and afterwards poured some palm wine into its beak, and then placed it in my basket on a little bed of leaves.
I was sometimes fearful that I should forget the French language, having no opportunity of speaking it. Hoping that hereafter some persons might land on my island, I wished to be able to make myself understood. I always said my payers aloud; besides which, I took pleasure in repeating, as I walked, all that I had learned in my childhood, but the hope of talking with my parroquet pleased me much, and I determined to take great pains with his education. I could not bear the thoughts of forgetting what I had learned, and found myself sufficiently unhappy in not being able to learn any thing new. I did not reflect that experience was my instructor, under whom I every day acquired fresh knowledge, without being conscious of it. I wrote a good hand, and was grieved at my not being able to cultivate this talent; at last the idea occurred to me of writing some of my thoughts every evening on the sand with a small stick; the characters were effaced the next day, but I kept up, by this method, the practice of writing.
After a journey of eight days, which presented new objects to my curiosity, and enriched me with many useful acquisitions, I found myself, undesignedly, in the way to my habitation, which I arrived at on a different side from that on which I set out. The chain of rocks in this place wore the most picturesque aspect; they reminded me of a beautiful green house; instead of flower pots, the little terraces, the clefts, the projections were covered with the choicest plants, charming the eye by their variety, especially a luxuriant species of plants, with thick fleshy leaves, and most of them bearing thorns. The karatas, the aloe, the superb torch-thistle, abounded there, and the gloss plantain hung its numberless interwoven tendrils over the face of the rocks. Among these different productions I discovered a fruit, whose delightful odour invited me to taste it. Each plant bore but one, on the top of its stalk, which was about two feet high, and of the thickness of one's thumb. This fruit was shaped like a pine apple, the outside was yellow; nothing had ever pleased me so much as the delightful flavour of its white pulp, which left a charming coolness in the mouth -- it was the beautiful anana, the most perfect fruit of the new world. I was epicure enough to rejoice at finding this prize, but yet sufficiently rational to prefer to it things which were more necessary in my present situation. On arriving at my dwelling, where I found every thing in perfect order, I experienced much regret in not being able to bring home a thousand articles which I had met with on my journey, and of which I perceived all the utility. I had filled my sack with the flax which the palm tree had afforded me, and tied it on the back of Castor; for myself, I was loaded with a bundle of sugar canes, some cocoa nuts, and the basket in which I had placed my dear little parroquet.
Oh ! how I longed to have made a carriage, had it been but a cart; but the axle-tree, and above all, the wheels, surpassed the limits of my skill, being entirely unacquainted with all that belonged to the cartwright's trade. I would, nevertheless, have willingly given my ananas, my strawberries, nay, my sugar-canes themselves, for even a wheel-barrow. After much consideration, I could find no better expedient than making a hurdle, on which I might load the articles I wished to bring; home. I foresaw that I should have much trouble in getting it along, as it would be without wheels, but flattered myself, that by harnessing my dog to it, and pushing it behind, I should contrive to accomplish it. I would not delay the attempt: I wove together some branches of withy, and formed a hurdle about four feet long and three wide, then sawed a board from the precious dies into slips, which being nailed on the top, gave it more strength and solidity. During the intervals of my work I began to make use of my fishing nets, and caught several fishes like mullets, which, when broiled, had a very pleasant flavour. Soon after my hurdle was finished, an opportunity of making use of it presented itself. I killed a large turtle on the shore, placed it on my hurdle, and endeavoured to harness Castor to it, but it was not without much trouble that I succeeded; he resisted stoutly, and whenever I attempted to fasten him, he shook off his bands and ran off to a distance. I was constrained to beat him, though very unwillingly, in order to render him more tractable; at length he thought fit to submit, and with our united efforts, we succeeded in bringing our load to the grotto. I was much pleased with my success, but pitied my good comrade, whom the cords by which he was fastened, had unavoidably hurt. To remedy this, I formed a plan of making him something like the harness of a horse out of goat skins: the traces which I made for him to draw by, were soft and pliant, and could not do him any injury, so that he soon accustomed himself to them.
Little excursions and useful works filled up my time; I perceived with joy, that three of my goats were with young, and gave me hopes of a supply of milk, which I had long been deprived of. My parroquet, which I had named Coco, grew perceptibly, and already pronounced some words: I fed him with fruit, bananas, and palm wine. He was so tame that he accompanied me in all my walks, perched on my shoulder, kissing me from time to time. My stature and my strength increased surprisingly; I carried burdens which I could scarcely move the year before, and was obliged to stoop to enter my grotto, whose opening at first was as high as myself: all this encouraged me to plan new undertakings. I determined to make a garden close to my dwelling, and to gather together under my own eye, the trees, the plants, and the roots, which were most necessary or most agreeable. I first made an enclosure of young trees, which I took up by the roots, and planted at a small distance from each other; they consisted of citron trees, acacias, elders, and many other species. The space between them was filled up with creeping plants, which the following year would make an impenetrable hedge. I divided this area into four little squares, in which I cultivated separately, potatoes, strawberries, rice and all other productions which might be serviceable to me. This work was tedious and laborious; it was necessary to make long journeys to fetch those things which were at a distance from my habitation, to bring them home by means of my hurdle, afterwards to sow, plant, water, turn the earth over and over again, which was done by the aid of a large shell, to which I had contrived to fix a handle of wood, so that my garden was just laid out before the rainy season, which obliged me the second time to shut myself up in my dwelling.
My goats had yeaned, I resolved to bring up the young ones, to kill the old males for the sake if their skins, and to eat their flesh in the winter. I was now proficient in the art of salting and preparing meats to preserve them, and only wanted more turtle shell vessels in order to lay up ample stores, and make sure of good pottage during the bad weather. I caught a great, number of little birds, by snares; half roasted them, then arranged them regularly in a trough, and covered them with melted fat, that the air might not get to them to spoil them; by which method I preserved some for nearly six months. I was not so fortunate in my attempts to procure light. The goat's fat went out in my lamp, and all my efforts to make it burn were ineffectual. In the mean while the rainy season was advancing, and it was not without much grief that I reflected on passing a great part of the days in melancholy darkness. This afflicting idea was near depriving me of courage, and causing me to let the rest of the fine weather glide away in inaction; but soon reproaching myself for this weakness, and submitting to the law of necessity, I determined, before winter, to make an excursion to the shores of the great river, which I had not visited this year.
I began my journey one morning, after harnessing Castor to the hurdle, which he drew easily, as it was very little loaded. I walked gravely on by the side of it, armed at all points, with my parroquet on my shoulder, and considering myself as master and sovereign of all I beheld; but I would readily have exchanged my empire for the society of a human being, for the pleasure of possessing a friend. I ascended a hill, and discovered a large fertile delicious plain which seemed the abode of tranquillity; it was covered with high and most beautifully verdant herbage, decorated here and there with little groves of palms, and other trees unknown to me. The river, like a large silver ribbon, crossed the valley, having its banks fringed with rushes and other aquatic plants. I made haste to descend into it, and reach the first tuft of trees, where I wished to rest myself a while. I noticed a species of palm tree which I had not seen any where else; it was infinitely less than the others, its stem being scarcely as high as a man, on which account I named it the dwarf palm: its leaves were thorny, and its fruit not larger than a pigeon's egg. I determined to pull up some of the youngest, to strengthen my hedge with.
A pretty thicket of bushes, which I was unacquainted with, drew my attention; all the branches were loaded with berries, of an uncommon appearance: I gathered some of them; they were covered with wax, which stuck to my fingers; I was struck with this singularity, which induced the following train of thoughts. Is there not some method to collect sufficient of this wax to make tapers of? If I carry home a large quantity of these berries, and boil them in water, the wax without doubt will rise to the top, that being the property of all greasy substances. Could I once separate it from the fruit, I might easily make tapers in the same manner they make tallow candles in my country. Come! here is what will make it worth while to return directly to my grotto; if I do not succeed, at least I shall have no reason to reproach myself; without further delay, I began my work. I spent the whole day in gathering the berries, with which I filled a sack and a large basket, and placed them on the hurdle. It was very late when I had finished my work, but a fine moon-light favoured my return; the cool air of the evening diminished the fatigue both of myself and my fellow labourer; he drew courageously, and I helped him to the utmost of my power by pushing behind. The chattering Coco amused me on the way; "courage! courage my little master," cried he, distinctly; "home home! give Coco some wine." Then he whistled the air, "Vive Henri IV." which I had taken pleasure in teaching him. On my arrival, I stood in great need of my bed, and immediate threw myself on it, after drinking a cup of cold milk, and with no small impatience wished for the arrival of the morrow: the sun, therefore, did not find me sleeping. My first care was to light a fire; I put the berries into my pot, let them boil gently, and while they were boiling prepared some wicks. When I perceived a fine oily substance, of a clear green colour and agreeable smell, rise to the top of the pot, I skimmed it off with a deep shell, and put it in one of my turtle shell vessels. When the fat was all taken off, it produced a great quantity of melted wax. I then dipped the wicks one after the other into it, and afterwards hung them on the branches; when the wax was settled round them and cooled, I dipped them again, and repeated it till my tapers appeared large enough; and lastly, placed them in the coolest part of the grotto, to harden perfectly before using them. However, it may be easily imagined, that I much wished to try them that very evening; I did so, and was very well satisfied; my tapers afforded a pleasant light, which, being reflected by the brilliant walls of the grotto, enlightened the whole interior, and enabled me to work as well as in day light. O! how fortunate I deemed myself in possessing so invaluable an advantage. My heart was filled with affection and gratitude, for this fresh instance of the goodness of Providence; and this sentiment was awakened every time I lighted one of my tapers. I did not regret the trouble it cost me to procure a large quantity of them. I made five or six trips to the little wood of palm trees, and brought berries enough from thence to make nearly a hundred tapers.
I saw the arrival of winter, without the least uneasiness; it was passed, as the former one, in different works, in making garments, and improving the fashion of them. I increased my wardrobe by a good cloak, to protect me when I should be overtaken by a storm, which not unfrequently took place. I spun a great quantity of string and small cords, which were very serviceable to me. These works being accomplished, I undertook the making a bow. My island produced a flexible sort of wood, very fit for my purpose; after many ineffectual efforts, I succeeded, by means of perseverance, in making a bow which I could bend easily; the arrows cost me much more time; I made the points at first with fish bones, but what answered best were the thorns of that acacia tree I have before mentioned; they suited my purpose perfectly; lastly, I formed a case of skin, intended for carrying my arrows in the manner of a quiver. I purposed exercising myself in archery as soon as the fine weather would permit me to go abroad. If the powers of my body were inactive, those of my mind were not idle; they increased daily by reflection and study. This last term may surprise my readers. Indeed! they will cry; what can one study without masters and without books? But it was Nature that I studied; that is a book always open to those who wish to read it. I carefully examined all the productions of my island, sought to draw from them some advantage, classed them in my head in such order as prevented my confounding them, though so numerous and varied. In contemplating the wonders of creation, my soul was lifted up towards the Author of them; I admired his infinite wisdom, his boundless goodness to the beings he has formed, and my mind and heart were filled with veneration and gratitude.
My reflections, however, were sometimes painful; the more I advanced in age, and the more my reason strengthened, the more I reproached myself for my misconduct towards my mother, and the disconsolate situation in which I had left her. I witnessed the tenderness of mothers for their young, in the different kinds of animals which surrounded me: they reminded me of the affectionate cares of which I had been the object, and which I had repaid only by ingratitude. "O my God!" cried I, in the agony of my grief, "if Thou hast ordained that I am to pass my life in this solitude, I ought to submit to it as the punishment I have deserved; but if, after some years of suffering, thou vouchsafest to pardon me, ah! restore me to my mother, that all my most earnest cares may be employed in making amends for my past misconduct, in honouring, cherishing, and assisting her who gave me life, who instructed me to know and to love Thee." A torrent of tears accompanied this prayer, after the offering up of which, I felt hope rekindle in my afflicted heart.
The rains had continued a fortnight longer than in the preceding year; but not being now in darkness, this time had appeared shorter to me. Notwit[h]standing, I saw with much pleasure the return of the fine weather. The improvement which had taken place in my plantation, during the four months and a half of winter, gave me much satisfaction. The trees had grown considerably, the climbing plants had reached the tops of them, and the whole being entwined together defended my garden as securely as a stone wall. All that I had sown and planted was prospering; the rice was beautiful, the strawberries in full bloom like flakes of snow, the sugar canes improved wonderfully; all was lively, and flourishing in this charming enclosure. A multitude of birds, drawn thither by the coolness of the place, and the abundance of food which they found, were seeking among the trees for convenient places to form their nests; this feathered host devoured a part of my grain and my fruits, but I foresaw that they would make me amends in more ways than one. Their eggs would supply me with my favourite dish, and by means of my bow and arrows I expected to diminish their number sufficiently to prevent their doing much mischief to my harvest, and that they would furnish my kitchen with some delicate roasts. Under this impression, it may be imagined that I did not neglect to practise with my bow, in order to shoot true. At first, I set up a mark, and did not give over until I had hit it; when I found myself more expert, I tried my skill on birds, and at length became so adroit, that I seldom missed the object I aimed at. I found, in this exercise, not only the means of adding to my cheer, but very great amusement. I should have reproached myself for killing these innocent creatures, if necessity had not obliged me; but had I not destroyed a great portion of them, they would have spared me the trouble of getting in my grain and my fruits, and would not have left me sufficient to have lived on during winter.
Being provided with the necessaries of life, I next turned my attention to procuring some of its conveniencies. I had used all the boards of the chest, so that I could not make any thing of wood; I nevertheless wished for a bedstead covered with skins, to defend me from the damp, a table, a chair, or a bench to sit at my ease. I performed all these in basket work, at which, by dint of practice, I was become very dexterous. To form my bedstead, I drove four stakes, of about a foot high, firmly into the ground, and nailed upon them a hurdle of twisted oziers, which I covered with three or four goat's skins; this made a very tolerable bed. The table was of exactly the same workmanship as the bedstead, but the former was square, and the latter longer than it was wide. I cannot boast much of the elegance of these performances, but I looked only to their utility, and they answered my purpose. I was entirely baffled in my attempts to make a chair, therefore was forced to put up with a bench, and even to render that firm, I found it necessary to fix it to the ground, in front of my table; so that not being able to make a portable one, I was obliged to make three others, which were set up in different parts of the grotto.
If my readers have observed my manner of living, and my different occupations, they must have remarked that they were much more multiplied at the approach of winter. My harvest was to be got in, my salt meats to be prepared, materials for work to be collected, provision of dry wood to be made, grass to be dried, and laid up for the subsistence of my flock. It was at the beginning of the fine weather that I enjoyed the greatest liberty, and this was the time I chose for making these grand tours. It must be granted that I was possessed with a mania for travelling; I had nearly every thing I could desire, but had not the good sense to be contented with them; I was always wishing to discover new regions, and to enrich my domains. Why should man, who has few real wants, be so insatiable in his desires, and so often destroy his happiness by endeavouring to increase it? Youth as I was, I partook of this folly of the human mind. I had already traversed a great part of the coasts of my island, but was little acquainted with the interior, which I had the most ardent wish to penetrate into, under the persuasion that I should find there many things worthy of my curiosity, and adapted for the augmenting my riches. As I intended this only as a journey of observation, I would not incommode myself with the hurdle, which would have retarded my march, and have fatigued both myself and my dog. Castor was only loaded with two sacks rolled up, and my cloak. I armed myself with a hatchet and a saw, with my bow and arrows. I carried likewise a kind of pouch, which I had lately made. Having no fear of robbers, I left the door of my grotto open, that my goats might go out to pasture in the fields, being assured that they would, of their own accord, return to their shelter in the evening. My garden was completely enclosed, so that these animals could not get in, to do any mischief.
At length I set off, my heart full of gaiety and hope. Castor, who partook of my wandering disposition, ran gaily before me, and Coco chattered incessantly in my ears. After crossing the great plain, as far as the river which divides it through its whole length, I pursued my course along the shore, till I came to a place where it was so shallow, that I was able to ford it, the water not reaching above my middle. I then advanced into a country decorated here and there with citron trees in full bloom, that exhaled an odour that perfumed the air. At the extremity of a level and very wide tract of land, I perceived a thick forest, towards which I directed my steps: trees of a fresh species had great attractions for me, having often experienced how many useful things they afforded; I arrived at A time when the great heat made its salutary shade very desirable. I made my repast of potatoes and some roasted birds, which I had brought with me; and after some hours repose, plunged into the forest. I was very thirsty, not having found any water since I passed the river. Seeing a clump of cocoa trees, I prepared to climb up one of them to gather some nuts, in order to drink the milk, but was as much surprised as terrified, at seeing a number of them fall, which appeared to be thrown from the tops of the trees, and aimed at me. I had much trouble to protect myself, as well as Castor, who began barking with all his force. I endeavoured in vain to discover the hidden enemy by whom I was so suddenly attacked. I saw the leaves agitated, but they were so thick that they prevented my discovering what occasioned it. At last I perceived an ape leaping from one tree to another; he then came down the trunk, and squatted himself at the foot of it, making horrible grimaces. Castor seeing the mischievous beast within his reach, sprang upon him and strangled him in the twinkling of an eye. Immediately a dozen of these animals descended from the cocoa trees, uttering shrill cries, and advancing upon us in a menacing way. I cheered my companion to attack them, and in order to second him, I bent my bow, and shot with so true an aim that I wounded one; seeing, however, that they were surrounding my dog, and that he had much trouble in defending himself, I fell upon them with my hatchet and killed several. The rest, terrified, took to flight, redoubling their cries, and left us masters of the field, and of the arms of the vanquished, that is to say, of about twenty cocoa nuts, which they had hurled at us.
This rencontre with the apes surprised me much, as during my two years residence on the island I had only seen goats and agoutis. I imagined that the forest might serve as a retreat for other animals more dangerous; in order, therefore, to keep them away, I lighted a large fire at the approach of night. After supping upon cocoa nuts, I mounted an oak, and disposed myself to take my rest. I placed my parroquet on a branch, and slept soundly, but was awakened by the noise of thunder, and by flashes of lightning, which rent the clouds. Every thing foretold a violent storm: if a heavy rain, should fall I had no shelter but the foliage of a tree, which would very soon be penetrated. I wrapped myself up, in the best manner I was able, in my cloak, and placed Coco in my bosom, where he was strangely agitated and dreadfully frightened at the tempest. In this situation I waited for the inundation I expected; but a furious wind arose suddenly and drove away the clouds. I knew not whether to rejoice at this circumstance or not; all the trees of the forest were shattered, and that which served me for an asylum, suffered many terrible shocks. To increase my terrors, my ears were assailed by a most strange and incessant noise, the cause of which I could not divine; it was redoubled at every gust of wind, and I think that the boldest man would not have heard it without emotion. My parroquet cried out and fluttered against my bosom; Castor, at the foot of the tree, howled piteously, and their master, clinging to the strongest branches, waited trembling, to know what Heaven should ordain to be his fate. How long did this night appear to me! particularly on account of this insupportable noise which stunned and petrified me with fear. At length the day appeared: as soon as any objects were discernible, I looked around on all sides, and saw at a distance from me a group of trees resembling walnut trees; their tops bore a quantity of long pods of a dark brown colour, and of so hard a texture that striking against each other by the force of the wind, they produced the dreadful din which had so terrified me. Naturally bold, I was ashamed of the fear that had possessed me, and became convinced that things which alarm us when we are ignorant of the cause, are most frequently free from danger. I was curious to examine, more closely, these noisy fruits. The wind beginning to grow calmer, I climbed up one of those trees, and pulled off some of the pods. I soon recognized them to be the cassia, and recollected that I had often eaten of it in my childhood; the shell, which is long and as hard as iron, is divided into little cells, inclosing a kind of black sweetmeat, and a kernel which is the seed of the tree. I resolved, for the future, not to be more afraid of noise than of darkness, neither of which have any thing in themselves to frighten one.
My two travelling companions indemnified themselves for the fatigues of the night, Castor in devouring the body of one of the apes we had killed, the parroquet in nibbling the kernel of a cocoa nut. For myself, I desired nothing so much as to find water; I walked more than two hours without meeting with any; but the land suddenly becoming shelving, renewed my hopes: I descended into a charming valley, whose verdure was so fresh and cool that it plainly indicated the vicinity of some spring, and very soon a sound, the most delightful, struck my ear; it was that of a cascade, which fell from a rock about fifteen feet high into a natural basin, and divided itself into almost imperceptible streams of water.
After having satisfied my thirst, I turned my thoughts to the recruiting my stock of provisions, I killed many birds, they were so numerous that I had plenty of sport; I likewise found many bananas, which I cooked for my dinner, and eat on the brink of the basin, which was the most enchanting spot I had ever seen. The forest as there much thinner, but the basin was environed by it on all sides, and this magnificent, verdant saloon seemed a retreat shut out from the rest of the world by an impenetrable barrier of trees, which the least ray of the sun could not penetrate; so that, notwithstanding the agreeableness of the place, I could not avoid some uneasiness respecting the difficulty of getting out of this forest, whose limits my eye could not reach. Too much precaution, however, is not the characteristic of the youth; this idea was, therefore, soon banished by others, and the great heat of the day being past, I continued my journey cheerfully. I proceeded for four days; without meeting any new objects worthy my attention; but, on the fifth, I found myself under some prodigiously large trees, which were entirely unknown to me. There ran from then a great quantity of gum, I tasted some and found it delicious; then casting my eyes to the top of the trees, I was seized with astonishment at perceiving a kind of cottage, covered with a roof, and which appeared very spacious. Was this the work of men? Is it inhabited? Ought I to venture to mount to it? After asking myself these questions, I remained undecided, not being able to guess what kind of creature could have chosen such an habitation. Curiosity got the better of the undefined fear which restrained me; but the trunk of the tree was so lofty and so slippery, that I slid down again several times. I disencumbered myself of every thing that might impede me, reserving only my hatchet to defend myself in case of attack, and after incredible exertions, gained the top of the tree. The aerial edifice was deserted, and partly destroyed by time; large holes in the roof permitted my seeing the interior; it consisted of a suite of nests, placed at two inches apart in two rows; there were several entrances, each one of which formed a street. These buildings were composed of grass skilfully arranged, and the roof covered it in such a manner that no animal could penetrate it: some broken egg shells proved it to be the work of a species of birds, living in a society like bees. To give my readers an opportunity of consulting the dictionaries of natural history, respecting this singular phenomenon, I shall inform them that I have since learned the tree I had ascended was the mimosa, and the bird which constructed these curious nests was called the loxia. This extraordinary spectacle awakened in me melancholy reflections. "Happy birds!" cried I; "how much reason have I to envy your lot; you live and die in the midst of your families, surrounded by your own species: with their assistance you execute the most difficult works; whilst I, alone in a desert, abandoned to my own exertions, without parents, without friends, shall live in wretched solitude, and die without exciting any regret. But, added I, what can have destroyed your abode, inoffensive creatures? You are, no doubt, sorrowing on account of your dispersion, or have perished[,] the victims of your enemies. Ah! why cannot I re- assemble you in your peaceful dwelling, and render you that happiness, which alas! I am deprived of myself." I came down oppressed by deep melancholy, which was somewhat diverted by the endearments of Castor and those of my parroquet. "Where have you been Felix?" said the latter: "Give Coco some wine; kiss Coco."
I began to be weary of wandering in this forest, and wished to behold the sea once more, and to revisit my habitation, but the farther I advanced the more obstacles I met with; the aspect of the place was entirely changed, and presented to me nothing agreeable. Instead of those beautiful trees loaded with fruit, which furnished both sustenance and refreshment, I saw only firs and other barren trees, which were intertwined and surrounded by so great a quantity of bind-weed, brambles, briars, and all sorts of prickly planks, that it was only by the help of my hatchet that I could open myself a passage. I was often in want of food, the birds resorted but little to these sterile regions, where I sometimes journeyed a whole day without finding a cup of water. No more citrons, no more cocoa-nuts, no more sweet acorns; nothing but hard, bitter roots, which extreme hunger drove me to eat, and which caused cholics and frequently vomitings. The desire and hope of finding an outlet, and of quitting a place which appeared to me like a vast prison, supported my courage; notwithstanding, my situation became every day more and more distressing; I was arrived at a spot so choaked up with thickets that it would have required a company of pioneers to force a passage. My hatchet, quite blunted, was but of little service to me, my legs were bleeding from the thorns, and my sandals, worn out by walking on the stones, no longer protected my feet from injury. So many cruel circumstances overcame my resolution; I sunk on the ground, and shed a torrent of tears. How much I lamented my imprudence, in straying so far from my dwelling place, in losing sight of the sea coasts, and in having entangled myself in this gloomy forest. How much I regretted the being deprived of the conveniences of my cheerful home. In the midst of my tears and sobs, I lifted up my hands towards Heaven, and fervently prayed that God would either put an end to my sufferings, by a speedy death, or afford me the means of deliverance from this dismal place. My prayer was doubtless accepted by Him, who never abandons his creatures; I had an immediate proof of His protecting providence: Castor, who, famishing with hunger, was roaming every where for food, came dragging an animal which I was unacquainted with, and of which he had already eaten off the head, and laid it at my feet. I snatched it from him, and skinning it instantly, made a fire with branches, which, though dry and resinous, yet kindled too slowly to suit my impatience. The animal was broiled, and I ate a part of it before it was nearly cooked: somewhat refreshed by this food, I returned thanks to God, and began to reflect more tranquilly on my situation. Seeing the impossibility of penetrating farther, I prepared to return back again, but this was no easy task; the routes, crossing and intersecting each other, could not be recognised: I was always getting into fresh tracks, and was unable to find that by which I had entered; in vain I sought for the cascade and the beautiful valley which had charmed me so much; I could find no trace of it, and all my efforts only served to bewilder me the more. To complete my misfortunes, the weather became stormy; the rain fell in torrents, and hail succeeded; I had no other shelter than the trees, whose foliage, being soon surcharged with water, poured it on me with still greater violence. In this extremity, when I was just sinking under all these discouragements, the barking of Castor drew me towards a rock, where I discovered a very low opening. In my present situation, nothing could fright me. I crept with difficulty into it, and found it a deep cavern, where a few rays of light penetrated from above. After walking some time, I came to a tolerably large chamber, in the centre of which was a kind of open bier, formed of sticks laid across each other, and supported on props about the height of a man; I climbed up to examine the bier; it was filled with human bones, nearly reduced to dust, two skulls only remained entire; at the foot of these relics, were a bow and arrows, a sabre of extremely hard wood, and several empty calabashes. I remained motionless with astonishment, unable to conceive how the remains of human bodies should be found in this place; after thinking a long time on the subject, I was persuaded that the island had been formerly peopled, that the islanders had chosen this cavern for the burial place of their dead, perhaps of their kings; that some calamity had either destroyed, or forced them to quit the island, and that, a great number of years ago. This place, frightful as it was, appeared an asylum afforded me by the goodness of the Almighty; circumstanced as I was, to find a shelter from the inclemency of the weather, was a great happiness. I had often heard my parents speak of the respect that was due to the dead: necessity obliged me to take possession of the resting place of these, but I wished previously to prepare them another; I was not so silly as to fear the deceased, and felt no reluctance in removing these bones into a grave I had dug for them at some distance. I wrapped them in my goat skin cloak, and covered them again with earth. Returning into the cavern, I set about cleaning it, and made a fire to purify the air. The bow which I had found on the tomb was stronger and better made than my own, the sabre was as sharp as if the blade had been made of steel, but they were both too heavy for me to use. I resolved to keep them till the increase of my strength should enable me to make use of them.
The following night I had the pleasure of sleeping on a good bed of moss; it was near three months that my wandering life had deprived me of that enjoyment; nevertheless my mind was too agitated to allow me to sleep much. Am I destined, said I to myself, to remain shut up in this dreary place? Should winter overtake me here, I must expect to perish with want, since in this season. I can scarcely find wherewith to support me; how will it be, when the violent rains hinder my going abroad? I must not then be disheartened, but exert myself to get out of this forest, and regain my habitation; neither trouble nor fatigue ought to stop me, since my life depends on it.
As soon as day-light appeared, I bent my thoughts on what might facilitate my march. I used the skin of the animal that Castor had killed, to make me some new sandals, and doubled it, that it might last the longer. Then slinging the sabre and the bow and arrows of the savages at my back, I departed, determined to overcome every difficulty, in order to recover my liberty.
I quitted the melancholy dark cavern of the dead without any regret, the only benefit it had afforded me was shelter from the torrents of rain, all my wishes were directed towards my dear grotto, my garden, and my flock. Since having lost myself in this forest, I had scarcely been able to calculate my time; but I imagined, and with reason, that I had not more than sufficient remaining for the purposes of getting in my harvest, and making provision for the winter. Filled with these thoughts, I advanced courageously, cutting and hewing down all that opposed my passage. The murmuring sound of water inspired me with hope, I heard it some time before I could obtain a sight of it, at length I discovered a brook, the way along its bank appeared the least difficult. I reasoned thus with myself: -- This brook has its rise in some fountain, which, if I trace it upwards, I shall necessarily arrive at; should it be within the forest itself, I will mount to its summit, and from the tops of the loftiest trees I shall meet with there, shall be able to discover the surrounding places, and the way I ought to take; it is even possible, that this rivulet may conduct me out of this forest. O my God! direct my steps, abandon not thy child in this great extremity, Much perseverance was needful in pursuing this project; I travelled four days without finding any thing to justify my hopes, living on roots, or rather starving with hunger. My poor Castor, as well as myself, was enfeebled by want, and I was near losing my parroquet; fortunately he found, on the bushes, a little fruit, resembling black currants, on which he fed, though their acidity prevented my eating them.
On the fifth day the forest became a little lighter, the trees, less closely planted, permitted my seeing some distance before me; I again found some of the kinds of trees I was acquainted with. I saw some oaks, the sweet acorns of which afforded me a tolerable meal: at length my friendly brook conducted me to the limits of the forest, when casting my eyes around, I beheld with surprise and extacy the same mountain I had formerly climbed, and which I perfectly recognised. I fell on my knees, and thanked God for my deliverance: a man shut up in a dungeon, waiting the execution of the sentence of death, could not be more transported with joy at being set free, than I was in this happy moment. I forgot all my past troubles, and felt only the present pleasure. The mountain on this side presented a very different aspect; a kind of pathway afforded much facility in the ascent, but fatigue obliged me to wait till the next day, before attempting it. Some potatoes, which I had the good fortune to find, recruited a little my exhausted strength, and I passed the night on a tree at the foot of the mountain.
Before noon, the next day, I had attained the wished-for summit. With what transports did I discover all the spots I had so often traversed, but chiefly the way which led to my beloved dwelling-place! I noticed the side I should descend by, in order to gain it the soonest. My sensations were very different from those I had experienced on this same mountain, a little time after my shipwreck: it was then that I learned the certainty of my being the only creature of my species who inhabited this island; and shed many bitter tears at this my wretched, desolate condition. Now, accustomed to solitude and resigned to my lot, I felt nothing but joy at being free, and at returning to take possession of all my riches.
After some hours rest, I descended into the valley, and took the road towards my habitation. Every relief I stood in need of presented itself by the way, but the desire of arriving at my journey's end scarcely permitted my availing myself of them. I sucked a citron, or eat some bananas, without stopping; and passed under cocoa trees, without being tempted to mount them, and gather their fruits. In spite of my impatience, darkness overtook me at a good distance from my dwelling, and I was obliged once more to pass the night in the open air.
At length I approached the end of my journey, and at perceiving the trees of my enclosure, tears of joy rolled down my cheeks; before entering my grotto, I prostrated myself, and kissed the earth I was so happy to see again. I heard the bleating of my goats, and, running to them, caressed the dear animals, resolving never again to wander away from them. My flock was increased by four kids, that their mothers were sucking; this circumstance promised me abundance of milk, and allowed me to kill some of the old ones for winter stores. I stood in great need of wholesome nourishing food, having fallen away excessively, and my strength being very much enfeebled. Dedicating the remainder of the day to rest, my only care was to milk my goats; a dish of rice milk appeared to me a most delicious treat, after the long fast I had been constrained to keep.
Ah! how pleasant home is. The most miserable retreat has always some charms for its possessor; mine was the work of my own hands I owed to my own labour and industry all the conveniencies of it, on which account it was doubly dear to me; I looked upon the day on which I returned to it, after having despaired of seeing it again, as one of the most happy of my life.
I was overburdened with business in preparing my resources for the winter season, but my first concern was the restoration of my exhausted strength. I killed three male and two female goats, some parts of which furnished me with good broth, and I set about salting the rest. My poor companion, who, like the dog of La Fontaine, was nothing but skin and bone, soon recovered his flesh by this nutritious food, and the traces of our fatigues wore off by degrees. I had but very little rice to get in; the birds had enjoyed themselves during my absence, as nobody was near to put a stop to their pillage. I killed some of them, which were so well fattened at my expense, that they were a delicious treat. My crop of potatoes was very good, and made amends for the loss of my rice. After providing for my subsistence, my next care was to procure tapers: I went to collect the micara berries, and after some days labour, was secured against the danger of wanting light. I prepared also my goats' skins, with the intention of making new clothes, my wanderings in the forest having worn out my old ones: I meditated also the improving of the fashion of them, and succeeded so well, that when they were finished, I no longer deigned to look at those I had first made, and was quite proud of my new apparel.
Winter passed away like the foregoing, but my reflections were more serious: I was now near sixteen years old, and began to think about the future. I thought, for the first time, that a chance similar to that which had thrown me on this desert coast, might bring there another vessel, and that it was possible I might one day return amongst mankind. My eyes were moisted with tears at this affecting idea. To return to my mother was the first desire of my heart, to live in the society of my fellow- creatures was the second. Oh! if Providence should grant me this blessing, how was I resolved to render myself thankful for it! To love and assist my brethren should be the employment of my whole life.
My imagination wandered a long time on this subject, but the little probability of any change in my lot, forced itself on my mind, and overwhelmed me with grief. Ah! how miserable I am, cried I one day; at this instant, I recollected the dark forest, and represented to myself what would have been my situation, had I been obliged to pass the winter there, with no other shelter than a frightful cavern, deprived of light, and without doubt perishing with hunger. Then, casting my eyes around me, I contemplated my spacious, convenient abode, furnished with every thing necessary for me: my dog, which was lying at my feet, soothed me by his endearments, and my parroquet, placed on my table, amused me with his chattering; the bleating of my goats admonished me that it was time to relieve them of their burden of milk, and that they were about to afford me a delicious repast. I then felt most sensibly how much I was indebted to the God of goodness, who had bestowed all these benefits on me. I returned him thanks from the bottom of my heart, and surrendered myself entirely to his disposal.
In order to prevent the return of these fits of melancholy, with which I reproached myself as offensive to the Almighty, I made a resolution to turn my thoughts on myself, and to seek again in the stores of my memory for the employment of my mind, which could not remain inactive; I succeeded in my endeavours sufficiently to regain my cheerfulness: a certain inward satisfaction was the reward of this effort.
The third winter I had passed in my grotto was just completed: the heat of the sun re-animated all nature: the trees were covered with, flowers. The carols of the birds celebrated the return of the fine weather, and the solitary inhabitant of the cavern went forth to enjoy the pleasures it promised him. As soon as I had an opportunity of going out, I was convinced of the astonishing increase of my bodily powers. The bow and the sabre, which I had found in the sepulchre of the savages, were no longer too heavy for my sinewy arms. I bent the bow, and the arrow I let fly was lost in the clouds. My stature was tall, my limbs muscular, and few youths at eighteen were as well formed as I was at sixteen. In walking on the sea shore I found a turtle; instead of cutting it up on the spot, as I was accustomed to do, I placed it on my shoulders and carried it into my grotto.
I was not of a disposition to neglect these fresh advantages; the strength which I derived from labour and activity afforded me the means of undertaking more difficult enterprises. I could now make use of the tools, which three years ago I was unable even to lift. I began by widening my cavern where I found it too narrow, and enlarged it by adding a kind of magazine to secure my provisions; the place formerly appropriated to that purpose was transformed into a large hall, in which I contrived two windows, so that it was the best illuminated of all my apartments. I also extended my enclosure, and collected in my garden all the useful plants which were to be found in the different quarters of the island; experience had taught me to improve the soil by culture. The fruits acquired a more delicious flavour, and the roots became more savoury.
Having accomplished these works, I amused myself by fresh excursions, but took good care never to lose sight of the sea coast, and only to visit those places in the interior with which I was well acquainted. Curiosity to see new objects yielded to prudence, and to the bitter recollection of the dark forest.
I set out very early one morning, coasting the shore towards the north, when the most unexpected sight caused me to stop short, and excited in extreme agitation: several canoes passed before my eyes not far from the land. They were very small, and each manned by two or three people of a copper colour, and nearly naked. They exhibited strong symptoms of fear, and rowed with all their might to get away, as if pursued: the dread of being discovered caused me to conceal myself behind a bush. This precaution was quite needless; for the poor creatures thought only of escaping the danger which threatened them. The first canoes got off to a good distance, and I was some time before I saw any more; at length I perceived three others, two of them flew rapidly over the waves; the third impelled, without doubt, by weaker arms, was much behind. I then discovered two enormous fishes, or rather sea monsters, which were pursuing these miserable beings; they overtook the last canoe in which there were but two persons, overturned it, and seizing each one his prey, disappeared with them.
Struck with honor and pity, I remained motionless; a cold sweat bedewed my forehead; all my limbs were agitated with convulsive motions, and I fell to the earth in a state of indescribable agony. When I recovered my senses, I arose, and walking towards the sea shore, saw the overturned canoe floating at the mercy of the waves; but another object soon fixed my attention; the rising tide brought it towards the beach, and not being able to conjecture what it could be, I felt the most ardent desire to inform myself. I drew near: my heart, which beat violently, seemed to announce some happy event. I seized a long pole, and catching hold of the object of my wishes, drew it carefully to land. It was a basket of such fine close texture, that the water could not penetrate it. An infant, beautiful as the day, was sleeping tranquilly in it; its complexion was tawny, and it appeared to be about a year old. My extreme surprise may be conceived, but it is impossible to give an idea of the excess of my joy. I fell on my knees to thank Heaven for a gift so precious. "Blessed be thou, O gracious Being!" cried I, "do thou make me thankful for this fresh instance of thy goodness bestowed on me. I will teach this child to know and love thee; as soon as his lips are capable of articulating any thing, he shall join his prayers to those which I offer up to thee."
I returned to my child: the little innocent opened its eyes and smiled on me. I bestowed thousands of kisses on it: it soon began to cry; I supposed it was hungry or thirsty. I was in no want of nurses, but was at a distance from home, and it would take me an hour to reach it. Having brought some palm wine in a calabash, I appeased the infant by making him drink a few drops: he soon fell asleep, when, placing the basket on my shoulders, I took the way to my grotto. My heart danced with joy; my mind was filled with a thousand projects, all of them having reference to the child: and my ideas were in such a state of confusion, that I could not possibly reduce them to any order.
On my arrival, I selected one of the finest of my milch goats, and placed the little boy near her. He greedily seized the conduit of milk; while he was sucking, I caressed the docile animal, who so readily performed the service required. The goat very soon became attached to her nursling, and came regularly to look for him at the times she was accustomed to give him suck.
When I had provided for the wants of my child, I gave myself up to reflection; and felt the necessity of calming and collecting my scattered thoughts. I made the following soliloquy: "Here is a companion sent me by Heaven: I will nourish, take care of, and instruct this dear little one; he will be bound to me by the ties of friendship and gratitude; I shall hear his sweet voice answering mine: I will love him, and he will love me; this is a happiness which I should not have dared to hope for: I shall no longer work for myself alone, and my labours will become an hundred times more interesting. I must have a convenient cradle for my dear Tommy, that is the name I shall give him; I have a sufficient quantity of willow and ozier to weave one, and to-morrow I will set about it.
I passed a most agreeable evening; the infant placed on my knee, was playing with the curls of my hair. I called Castor, in order that he might become acquainted with him: at first he shewed some signs of jealousy, but by dividing my caresses, I succeeded in making him lick the hands and face of the little one. As for Coco, he appeared charmed with the increase of the family, and babbled enough to stun us. I confess that the words he pronounced no longer gave me the same pleasure; I longed for that of hearing Tommy speak, and felt that one word from his mouth would afford me more pleasure than all the chattering of my parroquet.
It may be well imagined, that my first thoughts on waking were directed towards my little boy; his sleep was peaceful, and a smile was on his lips. Amiable child, said I, looking tenderly on him; if Providence had not sent me to thy succour, thou wouldst have been buried in the abyss of the waters, or have become food for the voracious monsters which have devoured thy parents. Poor infant! thou art now an orphan, thou hast no other protector than a boy, who is himself but very young. I feel, notwithstanding, all the importance of the duties which God has imposed on me by throwing thee on my care; I will supplicate Him to assist me in performing them: it is His will that I should act the part of a father before I am old enough to be so in reality; he who gives me the inclinations will also bestow the abilities.
How fervent were my prayers on that day! it was not for myself alone that I implored the assistance of Heaven. The little boy awoke; on his crying, the goat ran to him, and when he had satisfied the cravings of nature, I gave my attention to those cares which cleanliness and the health of the child required. I plunged him in pure water, which I had the day before exposed to the heat of the sun; a turtle's shell formed his bath. I had made several mats which I used for various purposes, one of these I spread on the ground and placed Tommy on it, where he began rolling about and exercising his growing strength; he endeavoured to get up, but soon fell down again, all his motions appeared peculiarly graceful, and I beheld him with delight. Castor came to partake of his play, and to render the spectacle more interesting; the good natured animal seemed fearful of hurting his little comrade, and his tender precautions removed all my uneasiness on the subject. In the mean while I worked at the child's cradle, on which I bestowed more pains than on all my other performances. When it was finished, I lined it with skins, and the put a mattrass [sic] of dry moss within it. It was placed near my own bed, and the child found himself so comfortable in it that he slept soundly. Seeing him so strong, I imagined that he had need of more solid food than goat's milk. I had often seen the women in my own country make pap; nothing could be more easy for me, since I had milk and rice. I determined, therefore, to reserve all I had remaining, for the child, and to deprive myself of it till the next harvest.
Being obliged to wage continual war with the robbers of my property, I lived almost entirely on small birds that I killed with my arrows, or caught in my snares; I embraced every opportunity of the child's being asleep, to pursue the chace [sic], and on my return I brought him fruits: he already began to know me, and stretched out little arms towards me as soon as I entered the grotto. I spoke to him very frequently, though I knew he could not understand me; yet I considered, that in order to teach him to speak, it was needful to pronounce to him often the same words. Coco had very soon learned his name, and called "Tommy" from morning to night.
Every day when the heat was passed, I took my little boy in my arms, and walked on the shore, then sat down on a part of the rock, and invented some games to amuse my dear little child and to make him laugh, which always gave me fresh delight.
For some time, intoxicated with my happiness, all my ideas were concentrated in this object of my tender affection and sweetest hopes. I lived only for the present and future: the past seemed effaced from my memory. One evening, however, as I was contemplating the sea, then smooth as glass, I called to mind the appearance of the canoes full of savages, and endeavoured to account for it. For nearly four years that I had been on the island, this was the first time of my seeing any. I concluded that it was unknown to them, and that chance, or some circumstance which I could not form any idea of, had brought them to that coast. I knew from the narrations of the sailors, that there were some savage nations who were not strangers to humanity; who practised the rites of hospitality, and who pitied and relieved the distressed; but I remembered likewise that there existed others, characterized by the most ferocious barbarity, and who put to death in the most cruel manner the unfortunate wretches who fall into their hands. I shuddered in thinking that those I had seen were perhaps of this latter description, that they might have noticed my island, and might, at some future time, make a descent on it: Should they attempt, thought I, to take from me my child, even though I might escape myself, could I live happy if deprived of him? This fear made such an impression on my mind, that I was tempted to abandon my dwelling, and to remove inland; but an open country did not appear to me a retreat sufficiently secure for the concealment of my treasure: the dark forest was the only asylum into which I was certain the savages would not penetrate. The cavern of the dead no longer appeared so frightful, since it might conceal my child from all their researches. But how should I provide for him there, when I myself was near starving with hunger? This idea and many others, diverted me from my extravagant project; I would not deprive my dear Tommy of the beauties of nature, to shut him up in a dark prison, but committed him, as well as myself, to the protection of the Almighty, resolving to enjoy his blessings without tormenting myself about future and imaginary evils.
The fine weather passed away very agreeably: Hitherto my hands had been employed, and my mind had not been idle, but my heart wanted some object to which it might attach itself, and which might participate [in] the sentiments it inspired. I had now found it, and enjoyed, in anticipation, the friendship which my dear Tommy would have for me; wholly engrossed by him, I had a right to look for that return of affection which would constitute my happiness. This amiable child improved visibly. In our walks, when I had placed him on the soft turf, he no longer contented himself with rolling on it, but endeavoured to get up and stand on his legs. I called him, and his tottering steps were directed towards me; he often fell, but as his falls could not be dangerous, he saw that I laughed, and he laughed likewise.
I had not given up my excursions, from which I always brought home something useful for my housekeeping; I recommenced these as soon as the child was able to do without his nurse. He eat potatoes, bananas, and all the fruits which the island produced; birds' eggs also agreed very well with him: I was sure of finding all these resources in the places I should pass through. Before setting out, I placed my child in the basket, the only inheritance he derived from his parents, and loaded with this agreeable burden, walked on cautiously, not to disturb his slumbers. When I rested for the night, during my journey, I chose out the tree in which I meant to sleep, and hung the basket to a strong branch, and a cord, passed round my arm, supported it likewise.
My labours were no way impeded by my pleasing solicitude for the child; if I was forced to quit him for a moment, I entrusted him to the care of my faithful Castor, who appeared quite proud of his charge, and acquitted himself to perfection. He not only watched over him to secure him from danger, but amused him, and submitted, with the utmost good humour, to all his little fancies, so that my sowings, my saltings, my manufacture of tapers, were all finished in proper time. My garden had become a delightful spot; every year I beautified it by additional plants and shrubs. I trimmed them around to form them into bowers and verdant retreats, which afforded us cool shades during the most ardent heats of the day.
The rains, at length, obliged me to shut myself up, in the grotto: new pleasures awaited me there. Tommy began to stammer some words; the name of "Papa" already struck my ear, and made my heart palpitate with joy. This was, in my opinion, the time to form a plan of education; all my thoughts were directed to this point. I now regretted most sensibly having so little profited by that which I had myself received. I felt my insufficiency, and the slender means I had of instructing my pupil; but if I could give him only a small portion of knowledge, I resolved to form his mind to virtue, and to inspire him with love and respect for the Deity, humanity towards every creature, courage in danger, resignation in distress, and moderation in success. I had acquired these qualities in the school of misfortune, and desired that my child should possess them without their costing him so dear.
Tommy was always in good humour; I prevented all his wants, but granted nothing to his caprices. If he asked by expressive gestures for any thing which I ought to refuse him, an unwholesome fruit for example, or a tool by which he might be hurt, his cries or tears would not obtain it for him; convinced of their unutility, he only shed them when he was in pain; I then sought for their cause with tender solicitude, and either succeeded in relieving or in diverting them.
Fearing that the cold of the cavern might be injurious to the child, I made him some little clothes, but had some trouble in reconciling him to the use of them. He disliked any thing that confined his movements, which were always very active: notwithstanding, as he grew, decency required that he should be clothed. I made, him therefore a wide kind of tunic, which reached to the knees, and accustomed him to wear it. I did not think it necessary to make him shoes, considering that, being habituated from his early infancy to go barefooted, his feet would become hardened, like those of the little peasants in my country, who ran about on the stones without being hurt by them. Having often regretted not being brought up in this manner myself, I determined that Tommy should have the advantage of being so. In the mean time, his improvement was rapid; he began to walk steadily, and pronounced a great many words distinctly: but what gave me more pleasure, was, that he evinced a good temper and much affection. He divided with Castor whatever I gave him; he distinguished among the goats her who had nursed him, and bestowed on her abundance of caresses; but I was the object of his most tender attachment; he was never so happy as with me, and as soon as I called him, he quitted every amusement to run into my arms. He already shewed those imitative propensities so peculiar to children. If I was weaving rushes or oziers, he would seize some twigs and endeavour to do the like; if I was pulling up weeds in the garden, he would still imitate me. Observing this, I was convinced how carefully those who have the bringing up of young persons, ought to watch over their actions; that they should not, in any thing, set a dangerous example. It is more from the conduct of the master that the child forms his own, than from the precepts he receives, which latter produces no fruit if unsupported by example. As soon as I perceived the child could unite any ideas, I accustomed him to lift his little hands towards heaven, and to pronounce reverently the name of God. This mechanical homage disposed him afterwards to render to the Supreme, a worship more worthy of Him. I waited impatiently for the moment when I could instruct him in his duty towards Him. I said my prayers in his presence devoutly, and in the most respectful posture: he will one day, thought I, ask me the reason, then will be the time to give him the first notions of the worship which man ought to render to the Being who formed him.
I continually recalled to my mind the Old and New Testament, which I intended as the foundation of the instruction I should give to him. How much I rejoiced in reflecting that I might be instrumental in rescuing from the darkness of idolatry, this poor child, who, had not accident thrown him into my hands, would have been brought up by heathen parents, and might never had known the true God.
At the return of spring, Tommy might be eighteen or nineteen months old; he was much stronger than children of that age usually are; he ran alone and spoke distinctly; the fine weather contributed much to strengthen him. I accustomed him to make short excursions, and to render me many little services; he was never more pleased than when he thought I had need of him, and already shewed a pleasure in being useful. Between Castor and him there existed the most perfect friendship. I wished to take advantage of this, and induce the kind animal to carry the child on his back when we made long journeys. I formed a kind of pannel with skins, and strapped it on the dog; I added a back to it, in order to support the little boy, and some rests for his feet. Before venturing upon an excursion with this equipage, I made several trials of the invention; but the easy pace of Castor, who walked with the greatest precaution, as if conscious of the charge confided to him, and the boldness of Tommy, who enjoyed much this manner of travelling, put my mind at ease, and determined me to set out, accompanied by all my household, to visit the banks of the great river. I relieved my dog, when I saw him fatigued, by taking the child in my arms; our march was exceedingly slow, but I had nothing to hurry me in the least, my time being entirely my own.
The two following years were remarkable only for the improvement of Tommy, and the fresh pleasures he afforded me: in other respects, there were the same cares, the same occupations. It wanted but a short time of my having been six years on the island; my little boy was four years old: his forward intellect and lively curiosity assisted me much in the work of his education. His most usual question was, "Papa, who made that?" I generally answered, "It was God," or sometimes, "It was I." One day, as he was looking at the rising sun, he said to me, "You, who make so many things, make me another sun.["] "And why ?" replied I, smiling at this request. "To light Tommy when the sun shall be hid down there." "But, my little friend, I cannot make a sun; it is only God who is powerful enough to do that." "You have told me that it is also the good God who made you; you thank him and pray to him every day; do the sun and the moon pray to him likewise?" "All creatures praise him after their own manner, but chiefly in performing his will. He has commanded the sun to light the earth during the day, and you see that it obeys him." "And we, Papa, what does God require that we should do?" "He ordains that we should love him with our whole heart, and that we should love each other likewise." "Oh, how easy it is to obey the good God in doing that."
These simple questions of my dear child affected me even to tears; it was only the remembrance of my mother that prevented my being perfectly happy; without that, I should neither have regretted the world, nor have desired to quit my solitude. One beautiful evening, as I was enjoying its charms at a little distance from my grotto, the sky became suddenly quite overcast with black sulphurous clouds, the sea began to swell and foam, the sound of thunder was heard at a distance, and every thing portended a violent tempest. I snatched up Tommy in my arms, and running as fast as my strength would permit, regained my retreat. I shut up my doors and my windows closely, and lighted some tapers. Scarcely had I taken these precautions, when I heard torrents of rain falling, the noise of which mingled with that of the raging winds and the roaring of the thunder, seemed to threaten the destruction of my island. I was accustom to these shocks of nature, and persuaded that the Almighty would not withdraw from me his fatherly guardianship, I threw myself on the bed near the cradle of my little boy, who was sleeping peaceably, and invoked the protection of Heaven for us both; when I thought I heard the report of cannons fired at regular intervals; I listened attentively, and was soon convinced that I did not mistake. They were, doubtless, signals of distress from some vessel in extreme danger: the unhappy beings who made them implored the succour of their fellow-creatures, but they were heard only by a boy, who was unable to render them any assistance. This idea was most distressing. I would willingly have ventured my life to save them, but had not any means of so doing. The thought, however, struck me, that some of these unfortunates might, by the help of their boats, land upon my island, if they had any knowledge of it; and that, by lighting a large fire oh the shore, it would point out to them its situation. The rain had ceased, but the wind still blew with violence, I quitted my grotto, and went down to the beach, loaded with dry wood from my magazine. I made a faggot, and set fire to it; the violence of the winds soon caused it to blaze, and three discharges of cannon gave me reason to hope that it had been noticed. I sheltered myself as well as I could under the projection of a rock, and passed the rest of this most anxious night in keeping up my fire. In about an hour after my arrival, the firing of the cannon ceased, which made me think the unhappy mariners had abandoned the ship. I waited for day with extreme impatience; at length it appeared, and I discovered at a distance, as far as my eye could reach, a vessel entirely dismasted, and on her beam ends between two rocks, which appeared just above the water's edge. I was in hopes of perceiving the boats rowing towards the island, but they did not present themselves to my sight: and the aspect of a foaming sea, whose swelling waves dashed themselves to pieces against the shore, gave me reason to fear that they had been ingulfed [sic] in its deep abyss. I needed the exertion of my utmost resignation to enable me to submit patiently to this dispensation of Providence. My heart was ready to burst, and tears ran down my cheeks. I walked back to my grotto, overwhelmed with grief: Tommy was awake; the attention I paid to him diverted, in some measure, my sadness. When I had provided for all his wants, I left him under the care of my dog, and returned to the shore, resolving to coast it, with the intent of bestowing burial on the bodies which the sea might cast on the beach. My search was, for a long time, fruitless; but approaching a point of land, which jutted into the sea like a little promontory, and turning the corner of a rock, I perceived on the sand a body, in female attire, apparently lifeless. This spectacle filled me with pity; I placed myself on my knees, near this unfortunate being, to seek for some signs of life in a countenance disfigured, and darkened by the shadows of death. I lifted up her arm, it was stiff and cold; I placed my hand on her heart, and thought I perceived a feeble pulsation; exerting then all my strength, I took her in my arms, placed her against the rock, and supported her head. This motion caused her to throw up a large quantity of water, which she had swallowed; she opened her eyes for a moment, but soon relapsed into a state of insensibility.
My situation was very embarrassing. I was ignorant of the means of restoring to life, her who awakened in me so lively an interest. Having with me some palm wine, I succeeded with much difficulty in making her swallow a small quantity of it, and had the satisfaction of seeing her revive and breathe freely. She came quite to herself, and looking on me with tenderness and gratitude, "I owe you my life," said she, "and can never acquit myself of the obligation; but I make a vow to serve you the rest of my days, which shall henceforth be devoted to testifying my gratitude. At the affecting sound of this voice, I experienced the most violent emotion; it recalled to my mind a very tender remembrance. I considered attentively the features, disfigured by sorrow and fear, THEY WERE THOSE OF MY AFFECTIONATE MOTHER, the palpitations of my heart left me no room for doubt. Divided between joy, grief, and compunction, I remained speechless and was fear fainting: Susan perceived my paleness. "God protect my preserver," cried she, and starting from my arms, made me sit at the foot of the rock, and returned me those cares I had liberally bestowed on her. I had not been deprived of consciousness, but was incapable of uttering a word. I considered what was best for me to do: it would have been dangerous to make myself known to my mother, in her present weak state; she would have been unable to support the excess of joy this discovery would have occasioned. My tall stature, and my unusually muscular form, prevented her recognizing me, and rendered it impossible for her to imagine that it was her son she held in her arms. On recovering the use of speech, I removed her fears respecting my indisposition, which I attributed to the fatigues of the preceding night; I expressed a desire of conducting her to my dwelling; she consented, and leaning on my arm we walked slowly towards the grotto. As soon as she entered I seated her on a bench covered with skins, and placing my little Tommy on her knees, begged her to adopt this child and to love him for my sake; she loaded him with caresses, which he returned with the natural graces of infancy.
Entirely engaged by solicitude for the restoration of my mother's health, after having given her a cup of milk with some juice of a sugar cane squeezed into it, I begged her to repose herself upon my bed. She soon fell into a tranquil sleep, during which I employed myself making some good broth; I put a piece of turtle into my pot, and added two birds of a delicate flavour; these I boiled down and afterwards thickened the mess with rice, which composed a very nourishing pottage. While engaged in these pleasing cares, my heart palpitated with joy; it was filled with affection and gratitude towards the God of goodness, who had afforded me the means of repairing the wrongs I had committed, and constituting the happiness of my mother; I resolved not to make myself known till I should have proved to her my repentance and my love. I frequently left my cookery to enjoy the pleasure of looking on her during her slumber; the refreshment of sleep had spread over her cheek a rosy tint; her features regained their sweetness, and I contemplated with delight the beloved countenance of my mother, nearly such as I had seen it formerly. She was not more than thirty-eight years of age; her excellent constitution had borne up under the grief I had caused her, and led me to hope that I might prolong, yet many years, a life which was more dear to me than my own.
Tommy came running round me, asking me in a whisper, a thousand questions about my new guest. Having no idea that there existed two sexes, he spoke of her as of a man. "How he kissed me!" said he; "I think he will love me very much; it is perhaps another Papa that the good God has given me." " No, my little friend, it is a mamma, it is a woman; I will explain that to you some other time, but do not make a noise for fear of waking her; come with me to the garden; we will gather an anana and some strawberries for your mamma to eat.
He followed me, jumping and continuing his prattle. "How happy I am! a papa, a mamma! when papa goes out and cannot take me with him, I shall not be left alone with Castor, I shall stay with mamma."
After three hours tranquil sleep, my mother awoke quite recovered: I presented her the repast I had prepared for her: she was extremely surprised to find, in a remote desert, such wholesome and agreeable food. She gave me many thanks for the cares I had exerted on her account, and told me that she wished I would give up to her the office of cook, and content myself with that of purveyor. After dinner she expressed a strong curiosity to know my adventures; I could not deny her request, but began the recital from the period of my shipwreck. She supposed me to be twenty years of age, and I allowed her to continue in that error: I then entered into the detail of my labours, my discoveries, all my employments, and of all the resources I had met with. I gave her an account of my reflections and my feelings, and assured her that I was indebted to the good principles inculcated by my parents, for the courage and resignation which had supported me in the most trying situations. She lifted her eyes and hands to Heaven, and tears overflowed her cheeks; it was the remembrance of her son that caused them to flow; with one word I could have stopped them, but I would not present to the eyes of my mother, a guilty child; I wished to blot out the traces of my fault by my attentions, and by the whole tenor of my conduct. The adventure of the dark forest made her shudder, still more so did the account of the death of the parents of Tommy, and the manner in which he had fallen into my hands; she pressed the poor child to her heart, and I saw that she participated [in] all the sentiments with which he had inspired me.
I had also a great desire to learn by what accident my mother had been brought to my island, and by what means divine Providence had made me the happy instrument of saving her life; but I delayed asking her, until she should have recovered her strength. I led her into my garden, the arrangement of which she much admired; from thence to the sea shore, where we amused ourselves in searching for turtle's eggs, for our evening's repast.
The waves had driven on shore some of the planks, which were loosened from the wrecked vessel. This was a precious acquisition. I carried them into my magazine; they gave birth to an idea of framing a raft, by means of which I might go to the stranded vessel, and save out of it some useful articles. I had no anxiety as to the subsistence of my mother; I needed only to cultivate a greater quantity of rice, and of potatoes, to prepare more salt provisions, and to augment my flock by some more goats: but I saw with pain that she would experience privations of another kind. Notwithstanding infancy easily accustoms itself to any thing, I had found it very unpleasant to be without linen; how very distressing would it then be for her to have, like me, nothing but skins of beasts for clothing. I saw no other way of procuring apparel or linen, but to go and fetch it from the ship; and determined that neither fatigues nor dangers should prevent me.
I had much trouble in persuading my mother to accept my bed; she yielded only to my most pressing requests, and to the promise I gave her of working the next day in making another, and allowing her to assist me. She carried a heap of dry leaves into the hall, which was for the future to be my sleeping apartment; they were spread out and covered with skins. Tommy, delighted with all this bustle, followed her like a little dog, and endeavoured to render himself useful; he collected leaves, and bringing both his hands full, fancied himself wonderfully useful. My mother conceived so great an affection for this child, that she asked me to let his cradle be placed near her bed: her desires were laws to me, therefore I did not oppose this wish.
Oh, what a delightful night we passed! I was doubtless the most happy, because I knew the extent of my felicity. In the midst of the enjoyments I had procured for my mother, sighs often escaped her bosom: she thought of her dear Felix; he was near her, and she knew him not.
The next day Susan collected all the willows and oziers she could find among my stores, and called upon me to keep my word. As soon as she saw the method I took, she imitated me with much skill, so that the work went on pleasantly. I took this opportunity to beg she would relate her history. "It is," said she, "a sorrowful recital, but I cannot refuse anything to my preserver."
My mother then began the detail of her marriage, of my birth, the pains she and my father had taken with my education, and the hopes that they had entertained that I would have profited by them. She painted, in lively colours, her grief on the death of her husband: I cannot doubt that her affection for me had prevented her sinking under it. But when she spoke of my disobedience, of my wandering disposition, and the uneasiness I had occasioned her, it awakened all my remorse, and wrung my heart; I was near losing my senses. My mother reproached herself bitterly for the weakness which had prevented her exerting all her authority over me, and making use of coercion for my amendment; she lamented yet more, her having granted her consent to my quitting her, and looked upon herself as the cause of my death.
I shall here take up the recital of Susan, and in nearly the same words she herself made use of; the lively interest I took in it engraved them deeply in my memory.
"When I was separated from my dear Felix, and saw him depart in the diligence, I returned, weeping, to my own village. My neighbours and friends, commiserating my grief, sought to alleviate it, by coming often to visit me. Those who were mothers, particularly, spoke to me of my son, and assured me that in a few months I should hear some news of him: this was the best method of consoling me, but the only true comfort I found, was, when I prostrated myself before God, and implored him in behalf of my child. Eighteen months passed away without my hearing any tidings of the ship in which he had sailed. At Brest, and in its neighbourhood, every body was persuaded he was lost. For me, ignorant of all that regarded maritime affairs, I suffered myself to be persuaded by the discourses of those who interested themselves about me, and who wished to conceal from me my misfortune. It was at length made known to me; two sailors from our village had escaped from the shipwreck; they had saved themselves on a rock, where they were near perishing with want, when an American vessel picked them up, and they had since returned to their own country. Our worthy curate, finding it impossible to conceal from me what was known to every body else, took upon himself the office of announcing to me the afflicting intelligence; in doing which, his humanity led him to use the greatest precaution, but the shock was not the less dreadful. I fell senseless at his feet, and recovered from a long fainting fit only to be seized with a violent fever and delirium. I was for many days in this state. When I recovered my senses, the venerable pastor was by my bedside, holding one of my hands; he spoke to me with angelic sweetness, and availed himself of the most powerful motives of religion to lead me to submit with resignation to my lot. I well recollect the answer I made to all his remonstrances; 'Ah! sir, I had so earnestly prayed to God not to punish him!' 'Well,' said he, at length, 'dare you reproach the Almighty for not having granted your prayer? Can you penetrate his designs? Are you not assured, that, being your Father, all that he ordains is ultimately for your good? Your child, had he been permitted to remain in this world, might perhaps have forfeited his hopes of that which is to come: God has taken him to himself. Woman of little faith, submit patiently, that you may render yourself worthy to join him.' This tone of severity was foreign to the heart of the good curate; he soon resumed the natural sweetness of his disposition, and accomodating himself to my weakness, permitted me to cherish a hope, which he did not entertain himself, and which alone has sustained me during several years of my unhappy existence. My mind was possessed of the idea, that since two sailors were saved, my son might have had the same good fortune; that he was perhaps still living in some corner of the world, and that I should see him again sooner or later. This idea made so strong an impression on my mind, that I started every time any one knocked at my door, and ran to open it in extreme agitation; my disappointed hopes threw me back into a state of excessive debility.
" I had been brought up in a convent, consequently was not so ignorant as others in my station of life; but I had not the least idea of geography. A new schoolmaster had just established himself in our village, who taught this science to the children of the gentry and rich-trades people in the neighbourhood. I conceived so great a desire to take lessons of him, that I could not resist its impulse. I kept this a secret, fearing I should be laughed at, but went every evening to the teacher's house, and soon learned to understand maps; from that time, my pleasantest employment was to examine them, to trace the route of the ships which sail to India, or to our American colonies, to observe the immense number of islands yet uninhabited. When my eyes were arrested by an Archipelago, I could not withdraw them; I fancied I saw my son on one of these isles, without considering that so young a child would have been unable to procure subsistence, and that he would have become the prey of wild beasts, against whom he had no means of defence.
"These chimeras occupied my mind for three years. In the mean time I declined daily; my health sunk under the anguish of my heart, when I learnt that Madame d'Altamont, a rich widow residing at Brest, was about to depart for Martinique, whither she was going to take possession of a considerable property she was become heiress to; and that, she wanted a confidential person as a companion. My imagination was excited by this intelligence; if I could follow this lady, I should see the same places my son had visited; I would enquire every where, and should perhaps find him. -- This idea, though without any foundation, haunted me day and night. I went and presented myself before our curate, and begged him to propose me to Madame d'Altamont, to whom he was known. He at first opposed my design, but seeing how much I was bent on it, he informed me that this lady was of an imperious and haughty disposition, and that I should have much to put up with from her temper. This was a weak objection to so ardent a desire as mine; I redoubled my entreaties and my tears; the curate was softened by them, he went to Brest, and by his recommendation I obtained the situation I so earnestly wished. By the advice of the prudent pastor, I made the necessary arrangements for securing my little fortune to my son, if he should return, or in default of him, to my legal heirs, in case it should be the will of God that I should not survive the voyage. The curate also made me promise that, if my researches should prove fruitless, I would resign myself patiently to the will of the Almighty; and I made a firm resolution, in that case, to retire into some religious house, and consecrate the rest of my days to Him, who alone could fill up in my heart the place of my son.
"My preparations were soon made; I repaired to Brest accompanied by the curate, who wished to present me himself to my new mistress. She was surprised at my disinterestedness, as I would not make any stipulation with her, but threw myself entirely on her generosity: provided I was conveyed to the new world, all my wishes would be gratified.
"I have already trespassed too much on your patience in engaging your attention so long with my misfortunes: I will not relate to you the vexations I experienced during the voyage. Madame d'Altamont had indeed a most fantastic and whimsical disposition: in spite of all my efforts, I could do nothing to please her; she would have made me feel bitterly my dependent state in putting up with her ill humours, but being wholly engrossed by the object of my voyage, I did not suffer her behaviour to make any serious impression; frequently I heard not her reproaches, or, as I was conscious of not meriting them, I heard them with indifference. She was longtime troubled with sea sickness; fortunately I felt it but slightly, so that I was able to render her those attentions she had a right to expect from me. We touched at the Madeira Islands, and Madame d'Altamont there recovered her health. The rest of our passage was without any disaster, till the time we experienced the horrible tempest which wrecked our ship on the rocks that surround this island. In the midst of the universal consternation, I constantly employed myself in assisting my unhappy mistress who was fallen into dreadful convulsions, and appeared every moment ready to expire. As to myself I had voluntarily hazarded my life, and the hope of rejoining my husband and my son made me look on death without much emotion. Meanwhile the vessel lying on her side began to fill with water; it reached the little cabin into which we had retired. The movements which took place above, and the exclamations of the crew, made me conclude they were going to take to the boats. I apprized Madame d'Altamont, and exhorted her to go upon deck and endeavour to save herself by the same means; she found strength to follow my advice. The boats, already overloaded with people, were just pushing off from the vessel; but the supplications of my mistress induced the men to take her in; they called to us to slide down by means of a rope which hung from the ship's side. Madame d'Altamont seized it first and got on board, I followed immediately, but a wave drove off the boat at the moment I was setting my foot on it, and I fell into the sea: the noise of the tempest, and the darkness which surrounded us, without doubt, prevented their perceiving what had happened, or they were unable to afford me assistance. I lost all sensation, and only recovered it when your generous cares restored me to life. I know not by what miracle Providence has conducted me alive to this island, but I receive with gratitude this blessing of the Almighty; my imagination is cured of its chimerical hopes, and my heart submits at length to the will of Heaven. Ashamed and repentant, at my little resignation, I now consent to support life, as long as it shall please God to grant it me; perhaps it may yet become dearer to me, if I could be serviceable to him who has preserved it. I have no longer a son, my young friend, be you a son to me; allow me to fulfil the duties of a mother towards you, and restore me the happiness of which it has been my unhappy lot to be deprived."
These tender words penetrated my heart. I threw myself at my mother's feet, and promised her the respect, the obedience, the affection of a son. "Well then," said she, "I shall be doubly happy, I will persuade myself that this child is yours, and the title of grandmother will afford me a new pleasure. In so saying, she almost stifled little Tommy with kisses, who was overjoyed at having so kind a mamma.
Susan would not be refused taking charge of the kitchen, and all the household department. I went every day shooting or fishing, brought her home delicate game, or excellent fish. I always found on the sand some wrecks of the ship, and worked secretly at constructing a raft, while my mother was employed in the grotto, preparing me some agreeable surprize. She knew how to make butter, but was in want of a churn, and her ingenuity contrived one: she one day presented me with a cocoa-nut-cup full of delicious butter: these dainties recalled to my mind my own country, and gave me infinite pleasure: from this time we were in no want of them, and my mother had the means of making very good sauces, and of varying our diet.
When the raft was completed, I was tempted to go and visit the ship without acquainting my mother: but the submission I owed her, and the fear of causing her uneasiness, withheld me. I asked her permission to make this voyage, and had much trouble in obtaining it; I represented to her, that by choosing the ebb tide for the time of my departure, it would necessarily carry me towards the rocks where the vessel was stranded, and that waiting on board till the time of flood, I could, by its aid, easily return to shore, and that in case of accident, the distance was not so great, but that I might swim back. Since my abode on the island, I was become an excellent swimmer; and, assuring my mother of my vigour and skill in that exercise, I succeeded in lessening her fears; but she insisted that I should take Castor with me, whose faithful attachment had, once already, saved my life. There was nothing more to do than to set the raft afloat, which I had constructed near the water's edge, on a sloping ground. When the tide came up, it lifted one end of it; we raised up the other with two strong levers, and soon had the pleasure of seeing it glide down softly, and at length float on the water. We tied it by a strong cord to the trunk of a tree, and I waited impatiently for the time when the ebb would allow me to put to sea. My mother described the situation of her mistress's cabin; it was in a part of the ship where probably the water had not done much damage, for the stem being entirely buried in the sea, the stern necessarily lay very high. A little trunk, containing the effects belonging to my mother, and some curiosities which she usually placed near her bed, and a small almanack which was there likewise, were all she desired me to bring; "only," said she, "take care of yourself, and load your raft with nothing but what is useful and convenient."
The time arrived for unmooring; I untied the raft; a long pole served for thrusting it off, and guiding it. I performed successfully the short passage to the vessel; the ropes assisted me in getting on board; she was entirely parted asunder, and in such a condition that she could not escape going to pieces the first gale of wind; it behoved me, therefore, to take advantage of this voyage and to collect what was most necessary, as I could not flatter myself with the hope of making a second. My mother's trunk did not exceed my strength; I carried it upon deck, and by means of a rope lowered it on the raft. I likewise threw down some large coils of different sized cordage. I afterwards visited every part of the ship which was above water, and found in the captain's cabin several large trunks filled with linen and wearing apparel; as they were very heavy I emptied them, and made parcels of what I wished to have. I took also a case of bottles of brandy and liquors. I wished to procure some barrels of biscuit, but the water was between decks, so that I could not get any, and besides it must have been all spoiled: I had therefore reason to congratulate myself, that the productions of my island being sufficient to satisfy the wants of life, I had only to look after what might render it agreeable. Several mattresses made part of my load, which was completed by all the household utensils I could find, porridge pots, copper pans, coffee pots, dishes, plates, spoons, knives, and forks. I could not see, without longing for them, a great number of fire-arms; I had always wished to be provided with some, in case of an attack; how I much more did I desire it, now that I had to defend all that was dear to me in the world, my mother and my adopted child; but I had the mortification of being unable to procure any powder; it was all stowed away in a part of the ship which I could not come at on account of the water, and therefore, sighing, I left behind the guns and pistols, but carried away two large sabres. Fearing to overload my raft, and wishing to take advantage of the tide which was beginning to rise, I quitted the vessel, and worked courageously to reach the shore. My family was waiting for me there: on approaching I beheld my mother on her knees, praying fervently for the fortunate issue of my voyage. As soon as I set my foot on shore, she came to me with open arms, testifying the joy she felt in seeing me arrive safe, and entreating me with the most affectionate expressions not to expose myself again to similar dangers, but to promise her not to return any more to the ship; I made her the promise she required, and, being freed from all her inquietudes, she cheerfully assisted me in unloading the raft. I wished to have immediately carried the goods I had saved into the, grotto, but my mother insisted that I should first recruit my strength by a good dinner. We therefore returned to our habitation, I taking only the case of liquors, and she some plates; dishes, &c. Our meal was quite ready, it consisted of good soup and half a roasted kid. I spread a handsome cloth on the table, and arranged the plates, dishes, knives and forks; and, for the first time during five years, had the pleasure of eating after the European manner. Tommy, quite astonished at what he saw, uttered exclamations of surprize, and endeavouring to imitate us, spilt the broth upon him, or pricked his tongue with a fork, but he only laughed at these trifling accidents. A little Barbaboes [sic] cream, which I gave him at the dessert, put him quite in good humour; his joy excited ours, and we should have prolonged this agreeable repast, if more important occupations had not called us to the shore. Before night, with the help of the hurdle and Castor, we had transported all our riches to our dwelling place. After placing them in security, we found ourselves exceedingly fatigued, and spreading two mattresses on each of our beds, we lay down, blessing God for the additional benefits he had bestowed on us.
When I awoke, my mother was still sleeping soundly. I pleased myself with the idea of appearing before her, dressed in the French fashion; I took a fine shirt, a jacket and pantaloons of Nankin, thread stockings, and a pair of shoes. It may be well imagined that I did not omit to furnish myself with those necessary articles, but brought away all the shoes that would fit me, as likewise two pair of boots, which seemed made for me: an embroidered muslin neckcloth and a green morocco cap completed my apparel. I was preparing to go to my mother's apartment, when she entered the room in a handsome undress of English linen, and a black taftety [sic] apron: her hair, still very fine, was carefully arranged, parted in front like the Madona's of Raphael, turned up and fastened behind with a tortoise-shell comb. We complimented each other mutually on our dress. My mother acknowledged that it was a great pleasure to her not to be without linen and clothes; but she observed, I must feel this pleasure much more sensibly than herself, after being so long- deprived of it.
Tommy, on awaking, was much surprised at our new attire; he threw his large eyes first on Susan, and then on me; after looking on us a long time, he held out his little arms, and said, "It is still papa and mamma, but they are much handsomer."
We proceeded to examine the contents of my mother's trunk, in order to put every thing in its place. I had reason to admire the foresight of females, and their attention to the minuti‘ of housewifery. Besides a sufficient quantity of linen and clothes, Susan had provided herself with every thing necessary for needle- work. She had an ample store of needles and thread, with several pairs of scissors; but what gave me most satisfaction was, to find at the bottom of the trunk half a ream of common paper, and some quires of letter paper, some pens, and two bottles of ink well sealed. "O! what a treasure!" cried I, seizing it; "how much I prize it above all we have procured either for convenience or pleasure." "It is yours, my dear son," said Susan; "and these are mine, which I will partake with you." She drew forth a Bible, a book of the Gospels, and some volumes of Massillon; I kissed these sacred books: besides the use they might be of to myself, they afforded me the means of teaching my child to read, and of instructing him in the first principles of religion. I accepted my mother's present with gratitude, and having plenty of boards, undertook the making a wooden table, on which I might write commodiously.
I had not forgotten the articles which Susan's piety had led her to wish for, but had presented them to her on my arrival from the ship; some days after, she begged me to resign to her one of the green bowers, with which I had ornamented my garden. "Know you not," replied I, "that all I have is yours? Choose which of them you please, you shall be there at perfect liberty, and I will not approach it when you forbid." "There is not a moment," said she, "when your presence is not agreeable to me; but, in your absence, I will often retire into the arbour of acacias and honeysuckles; it is that which I ask of you, with permission to fit it up according to my own taste." "You distress me," replied I, "by speaking in this manner: you are mistress and sovereign of this little empire, and I am the most submissive of your subjects."
A fortnight passed in our ordinary occupations: we had, in addition, the care of collecting on the sea beach what the flood tide brought on shore from the wreck of the vessel, which the shock of the waves was continually breaking up. The evening of the fifteenth day, I perceived a cloud of sadness on the countenance of my mother, which afflicted me; she stifled her sighs, and endeavoured to hide the tears which filled her eyes. I did not venture to ask her any questions, but, respecting her melancholy, I retired betimes to leave her at liberty. Rising very early in the morning, I entered her chamber softly: surprised at not finding her there, I searched every corner of the grotto; she was already gone out. On entering the garden, and approaching the acacia bower, I heard sobs and groans; I advanced on tiptoe, scarcely breathing and beheld an altar of turf raised in the middle of the bower, the crucifix was placed in a niche ornamented with flowers, my mother was prostrate, and praying in a low voice; it was for her son that she addressed her prayers to Heaven. I entered, and knelt beside her; she perceived me, and turning on me her eyes swimming with tears, "Pardon me," said she; "you who have saved my life, and whose every endeavour is to render it happy, believe me, I feel most grateful for the benefits you have conferred on me, but I cannot forget that I had a son; this is the anniversary of his birth- day, he would to-day have been eighteen years old; this epoch justly renews my grief." She could say no more; her strength forsook her, and she fainted in my arms. I was extremely terrified at seeing her in this condition, and reproached myself for having concealed from her that I was living; and calling on her repeatedly by the endearing name of mother, sought to re- animate her by the tenderest caresses; at length she revived, and seeing me at her feet in a supplicating posture, "What mean you?" said she. "You never offended me, and yet you seem to ask forgiveness." "Yes, my mother; I ask pardon for the guilty Felix. Recognise the child who is still so dear to you, in spite of all the wrongs he has committed, and who wished to atone for them before he dared to make himself known." The excess of joy suspended all the faculties of the tender Susan; she leaned her head on my bosom, and a flood of tears relieved her heart. She considered my features attentively, and notwithstanding the change which years, labour, and climate had produced, she recollected them, and felt the pleasure of being still a mother. She had poured out her grief before God, she now offered up the homage of her joy, and never were devotions performed with greater fervour.
We opened our hearts in the most delightful conversation; my mother made me repeat all the particulars I had already recited, but which she listened to with fresh interest; and we ended by congratulating ourselves on having, after all our sufferings, attained the happy state we now enjoyed. We were both at that period of life which might lead us to hope we should be able, by our exertions, to provide for the wants of it during many years, and we were bringing up a child who would one day supply our place, and repay to us the cares we had bestowed on him. We foresaw the possibility of one day being removed from our island, and restored to society, but we thought of this event without any anxious solicitude; satisfied with our present condition, we committed to Providence the care of the future.
On our return to the grotto, we found that Tommy had been some time awake, and was playing with Castor and talking to Coco; he was rejoiced at seeing us with such happy countenances: our breakfast was very cheerful. I informed my mother that I was going to begin writing my adventures, and she undertook teaching the child to read, and begged me to trace on some square pieces of paper, the letters of the alphabet, in order that he might become acquainted with them. Perfectly instructed in her religion, she purposed making a little abridgment of the Christian doctrine, to initiate Tommy in its first principles.
My mother had not yet been at any distance from our dwelling. I wished to show her the charming landscapes with which the interior of the island abounded; and besides, it was high time to think of laying in our provision of wax. I proposed to her a journey to the beautiful plain and the delightful groves, where the miraca trees grew: she consented with pleasure, and this excursion proved extremely agreeable to us. Susan ceased not to admire the beauties of nature, and the resources she afforded us in this happy climate. Tommy most frequently ran before us; when he was tired we carried him alternately: my mother had made him some light clothing of cotton, which was much more convenient to him than his coat of skin; his vivacity and infantile graces charmed us both; never was there a more amiable, a more sprightly, or a more tractable child.
From the top of a hill I pointed out to my mother the forest which had been so disastrous to me, and smiling, proposed to her to traverse it with me, assuring her that nothing could be more curious than the cavern of the dead. "No, no," replied she; "we are now in a terrestrial paradise, my curiosity shall not cause me to forfeit it."
We gathered an abundant crop of the miraca berries, collected a good quantity of sugar canes and cocoa nuts, and also laid in a provision of potatoes, in case those growing in our garden should not be sufficient for us. At length, after having remained abroad on the banks of the river for several days, we returned home, loaded with whatever might, be useful to us during the winter. Other cares now demanded our attention; we salted goats, turtles, and some large fish much resembling cod; we collected many eggs, which we preserved in sand, and got in our harvest of rice. Our next employment was making tapers and all was finished before the end of the fine weather.
I was never more happy than when employed in doing something to contribute to my mother's pleasure. Her piety caused her to value very highly the oratory which she had formed in the garden: it gave me pain to think she would be deprived of it during the rainy season; I therefore took advantage of the intervening time, to construct a hut with planks, and covered it with rushes, over which I spread some goat skins, that it might be proof against the rain: this erection was near the entrance of the grotto, and I contrived a covered way to lead to it, so that my mother had the enjoyment of her oratory in all weathers. She conducted Tommy there every morning and evening; I often joined them, and we offered up to Heaven our united prayers.
The rains now obliged us to shut ourselves up in our grotto, but we were not the less happy on that account. A variety of occupations, and the charms of a society as delightful as the ties which united it were tender, made the time pass away with extreme rapidity. I employed myself three or four hours every day in preparing the relation which I am giving to the public; manual labour engaged the rest of my time. My mother took upon herself the care of providing our meals, milking the goats, and keeping the linen and clothes in good order. We were both engaged in the education of Tommy, who enlivened us by his pretty interesting ways and his pertinent questions. In the evening I read to my mother, and we often broke off to communicate to each other the reflections which the subject gave rise to.
The human mind delights in forming schemes, and we in our remote retreat, had our projects: we intended, on the return of the fine weather, to construct a rural habitation at about a league distant from the grotto, on the smiling banks of the great river. It was to be our farm, we were to remove our cattle there, and to rear pigeons and a kind of fowls we had lately discovered; but Providence had ordered otherwise, having determined to restore us to the society of our fellow-creatures, and was even then preparing our deliverance.
In my voyage to the ship, I had found in the cabin of Madame d'Altamont, a casket of rosewood ornamented with plates of silver, and very strongly secured; I took possession of it, with the idea that it might please my mother. Both of us being occupied with matters more essential, we had placed this box in a corner of the grotto, and forgotten it. Susan met with it, and, curious to know what it contained, she begged me to force the lock; this was soon done, but we were much disconcerted at finding that it contained only some valuable jewels, some family papers, and a thousand louis d'ors. Disappointed at first with so useless a discovery, we began to laugh at it and passed many jokes on this unexpected fortune: like a careful father, I spoke of disposing of it for the benefit of Tommy, by purchasing a share in some lucrative establishment. After having made ourselves merry a long time on the subject, my mother suggested a more rational idea. "If," said she, "we should one day quit this island, and have the happiness of returning to our country, we shall have the satisfaction of restoring to the heirs of Madame d'Altamont what legally belongs to them, and to whom this gold and these jewels may be very needful, and these papers which the casket contains, may be probably of great consequence." It was then resolved that we should replace every thing carefully, and keep the whole as a sacred deposit, for which justice and our conscience rendered us responsible.
We waited for the fine weather without impatience, but it was with much pleasure that we beheld Nature resume her charms, the trees become covered with blossoms, the birds re-assemble in the groves, and all around us breathe new life. Archery and fishing were my favourite amusements, and I began to practise them again. One morning, wishing to reach a part of the coast which abounds with fish, I had to pass through a little grove of trees, and had scarcely entered it, when to my inexpressible astonishment, I perceived four men, armed with guns, advancing towards me. On seeing me, they exhibited signs of great surprise, and accosted me by addressing some words to me in a language I did not understand: I answered them in my own, when one of them approached me, and shaking me by the hand, asked me in broken French, how I came there, and from whence; at the same time informing me that they were English, and friendly disposed towards me and all men, and requesting me to conduct them to my place of abode, if I had one.
Pleased that, at least, I could make myself understood by one of these strangers, I begged him to follow me, with his companions, assuring him that it would give me pleasure to receive them at my dwelling. As we went along, I briefly recounted the history of my shipwreck, which I saw much interested him who could understand me; he repeated it in English to the other three, who came by turns to shake me cordially by the hand.
It is easy to imagine the astonishment of my mother at the sight of four strangers; she received them, however, courteously, and the table was soon spread with the best we had to offer. The brandy and the liquors, which we had husbanded until now, were distributed liberally to our guests, who were very well pleased with their reception: they spoke frequently to each other, and though we did not understand their discourse, we guessed by their gestures and the expression of their countenances, that they were making arrangements for taking us with them; our conjectures were confirmed by him who spoke a little French, and who was the chief surgeon of the ship. He gave us the following information: --
A ship commanded by Captain Sir Edward Walter, returning from the South Seas, after passing the straits of Magellan, had touched at Rio Janeiro, where she was re-victualled, from hence she sailed to Jamaica, where she again put in, to land some of her cargo, and to take on board other merchandise, and was on her voyage homeward bound to England, when the weather, which till then had been favourable, suddenly changed; a violent storm drove them out of their course, and they were beating about for ten days quite out of their latitude. Provisions began to run short, as well as fresh water, of which each man received only an allowance of a quart a day. The ship had received some damage, and the Captain was anxious to find a place where he might refit her, procure provisions, and above all, lay in a stock of fresh water: they discovered a coast surrounded by reefs; the wind having considerably abated, they sailed along the shore, and cast anchor at about a quarter of a league distant; a boat, having on board eight seamen with two officers, besides the surgeon and pilot, was sent off to examine the coast and look for a landing place. In ranging along shore, after doubling a point of land, they discovered a bay where the sea was smooth, and the shore easily accessible; there they ran the boat in. The sailors dispersed themselves in the island to seek for water, and the officers advanced in-land on another side, to kill game, or to find any other resources. The surgeon consulted us as to what they had best do to procure provisions. My advice was, that they should bring the vessel near the coast to refit, and during the time that was doing, they should kill as many goats as they could to victual the ship; in the mean while I offered them my flock, consisting of two he-goats, four females, and eight young kids, for the subsistence of the crew, and promised to shew them fields of rice and potatoes, and the places where they might find turtle in abundance. The Englishmen expressed much gratitude for these obliging offers, and were in haste to return on board, in order to communicate them to the Captain. We went together to look for the seamen, who had already filled several butts of water; then proceeding to the place where the boat lay, and ascending a rock, I saw the ship lying at anchor. We separated with many expressions of friendship, and I returned to the grotto to converse with my mother on the hopes this event was calculated to inspire us with. I found her much agitated, and confess I partook of her solicitude; since our re-union, we thought that nothing was wanting to our happiness; but the mention of our country awakened delicious emotions in our hearts, and if the hopes we now conceived of seeing it once more, should prove fallacious, it was to be feared that our solitude would lose all its charms. In this state of suspense it was needful to call to our aid those great principles of submission to the Divine will, and dependence upon Providence, which ought to guide all Christians: from this source Susan derived calmness and resignation, her example and discourses soon inspired me with them likewise: we succeeded in regaining our tranquillity, and waited, without uneasiness, for what Heaven should ordain for us.
When we had set every thing in order in our house, I wished to conduct my mother to the bay where the English had landed: she leaned on my arm and we set out. Tommy went before us, leaping like a young kid. On our arrival, we noticed a great stir on board the ship; some time after the anchors were weighed, the sails hoisted, and the ship stood in for the bay, which she entered without accident, and brought up at a little distance from shore. A boat came off, and in a short time we had the pleasure of presenting ourselves to Sir Edward Walter, who received us in the kindest manner, and in our own language, which he spoke fluently; expressed his great happiness in having met with us, and engaged to remove us from this island, and to procure us the means of returning to France. After giving his orders to his men, he followed us to our habitation, accompanied by his second in command: he was surprised and charmed with all he saw there, and could not refrain from expressing his wonder, that, young as I was, I should have been able to provide for myself during five years, and by my own exertions to have furnished myself with all the necessaries of life. He approved of the advice I had given his officers, but as to my flock, he assured me he would not allow a single beast to be killed, but would take them on board as live stock for the voyage; concluding, reasonably, that by shooting, and fishing, they should be able to procure abundant subsistence for the crew during their stay on the island. While we were thus conversing, four sailors arrived, loaded with biscuits, cheeses, a fine ham, and a case of Bourdeaux [sic] wine. This was a very acceptable present, which the captain made us, and we thanked him heartily for it.
Sir Edward conceived a friendship for me; during the twelve days that he continued on the island, I accompanied him in all his excursions; while we were absent, my mother was engaged in preparing us nutritious food to refresh us after our fatigues, for the captain took his meals with us all the time he was on shore. The crew procured by their guns a sufficient stock of provisions to last them a good while at sea; but though they knew not exactly what part of the world they were in, they concluded themselves to be not very distant from the Antilles. The captain ordered a neat cabin to be prepared for us on board, near to his own: and when the ship was repaired we embarked, feeling some regret at quitting the hospitable land which had afforded us the necessaries of life, where we had enjoyed tranquillity, and where we had experienced the happiness of meeting again after a long separation. We took nothing but our clothes and the casket of Madame d'Altamont. I made the captain a present of my parroquet; he was so well taught, and spoke so distinctly, that he was very valuable to those who fancy these birds. It may be imagined that I did not part with my friend and preserver, the faithful Castor: many of the officers wished to purchase him, but my attachment for this good animal was for life and death.
When the ship had set sail, and I was at liberty to converse freely with my mother, I imparted to her my uneasiness. I do not doubt, said I, that Sir Edward will act generously by us, and will conduct us to some of the colonies, without requiring any thing for our passage; but how shall we live there, since we possess nothing? and how shall we get back to our dear country, without money to pay the passage of three persons? I see no other resource than that I should enter the service of some rich planter: with the captain's recommendation I might obtain some situation, which would enable me to supply our wants, and perhaps, after some few years, to lay up a sum sufficient to return to France. "This project, my son, is very well conceived," said my mother; "you love labour, and possess all the requisites for a good economist, but I do not see that it is necessary to have recourse to this mode of subsistence, nor to wait so long before we revisit our country; have you forgotten that we have a sum of twenty-four thousand francs, apart of which will be sufficient to relieve us from this embarrassment?" "It is doubtless," replied I, "in order to prove my integrity, that you make this proposal; but, my dear mother, what have I ever done, or what have I said, which should make you suspect I should disregard the dictates of justice and probity? The deposite [sic] which we have in our hands, ought to be delivered untouched into those of the heirs of Madame d'Altamont; rather than make use of it, I would submit to labour as a slave all the rest of my life."
At these words, uttered with much warmth, my mother pressed me to her bosom. "Dear Felix," she exclaimed, " this moment makes amends for all I have suffered. How it charms me to find you actuated by this delicacy of conscience, and these solid principles, which I hope will always influence your conduct. I will explain to you that which surprises you in mine. Circumstances authorize me to make use of the money we have saved, because I have a certainty of replacing it, on our arrival in France; the sale of some portions of land will suffice for that purpose; and if your inheritance is thereby diminished, our industry will soon repair the loss. When you quitted me, you was but a child; you was not aware that I possessed fortune enough to render your circumstances easy; you judged of my means by the economical manner of our living, which was occasioned by my desire of seeing you one day enjoy a comfortable independence." This explanation, while it set my mind at ease, increased my gratitude for my affectionate mother. After a voyage of three weeks, we arrived at the isle of St. Christopher. Sir Edward had friends and correspondents there; he lodged at a very handsome hotel, and his friendship for us led him to wish that we should inhabit it likewise. As soon as he had arranged his own affairs, he gave his attention to ours. Perceiving our ardent wish to return to France, he engaged our passage on board an English ship bound for Plymouth, and omitted nothing in his power, which might contribute to render our voyage agreeable. He sent on board some cases of wine, liquors, and dried sweetmeats, and when we wished to settle our account with our landlord, he informed us that all was paid. The captain would not allow us to express our gratitude, but wished us to suppose that he was the party obliged. He conducted us on board, himself, and we took an affectionate leave of each other. Tommy, who loved Sir Edward very much, had thrown his arms round his neck, and would not quit him; but the latter disengaged himself gently, and gave the child so gay a pocket book, that his attention was attracted by it. The captain seized the opportunity of hastening into the boat, from whence he waved his handerchief to us in token of friendship, as long as we could perceive him.
Left to ourselves, we were conversing on the kindness of the captain, when Tommy came to me to beg that I would open his pocket book; it shut with a secret spring, which I soon found out, and there fell from it a paper, that on examination, proved to be a bank bill for five hundred pounds sterling, accompanied by the words written on the tablets: "Present of Sir Edward Walter to his little Friend."
Thanks to the liberality of the Captain, our child was now secured against want, and all our prospects were flattering. The voyage, which was a favourable one, did not appear tiresome, though we could not form an acquaintance with any of those on board the vessel, not one of whom spoke a word of French. We remained but three days at Plymouth, to rest ourselves, and receive the amount of our bank bill. We travelled post to Dover, and embarked on board the packet for Calais. My mother's health obliged us to stay some days in this town; she had several attacks of fever; I called in the most celebrated physician, and our cares soon re-established her. We were now in France, but our most ardent wish was not yet accomplished; we sighed for the place of our nativity; the soil which our fathers had inhabited seemed alone capable of supplying the place of the pleasant and peaceable retreat of our island. We left Calais in the Diligence; the journey was not fatiguing; we had very pleasant companions, and the charms of interesting conversation diverted the extreme impatience we felt to arrive at our journey's end. At length we reached Brest, and scarcely allowing ourselves time to take a slight repast, mounted a little carriage, and in less than an hour, were in sight of the steeple of our village church. Tears of joy filled our eyes; every object we recognised made our hearts palpitate -- "There is the church which was built at the last mission -- here is the fine avenue of lime trees which leads to the village -- we are now on the spot where the old men meet to talk over their affairs, where the young folks dance to the sound of rural music, and the children engage in the noisy sports suited to their age." We alighted at the door of the parsonage-house; the worthy curate was informed of our arrival; he hastened to us, clasped us in his arms, and with parental embrace, blessed that Providence which had preserved us in so many dangers, and had conducted us back to our home. "Mary," said he to his cook, "we ought to kill the fatted calf to celebrate the return of the prodigal son; but he must content himself with a young lamb, with which I intended to have regaled my brethren at the village festival; but these are my children, and ought to have the preference."
The good curate led us to his study, where we recited to him minutely all that had befallen us. He was pleased with my conduct and sentiments, and made many judicious reflections on the happiness of having received a Christian education, and seen virtuous examples, the impressions of which are never effaced from the mind: he was much affected at the history of Tommy, and returned thanks to God for having snatched this child from death, and from the darkness of idolatry.
We afterwards spoke of our affairs; we had spent but six thousand francs out of the sum which we had in our charge. We begged our pastor to convey the casket to the hands of Madame d'Altamont's heirs, and to ask them to allow three months for selling a piece of land, to enable us to repay the two thousand crowns we had taken from thence. The farmer who rented our house and the land attached to it, was far from being an industrious man, consequently managed his affairs very ill; he agreed that we should take the property into our hands, allowing him a compensation of four thousand francs. This money was drawn from that belonging to Tommy, and we bought in his name, a farm contiguous to our estate, which brought in a rental of five hundred francs.
We again took possession of our house and lands, where every thing was in a very bad condition, but we had the power and inclination to improve our estate; I resolved to establish myself there in the honourable occupation of a cultivator; it is known how much I loved labour; I had sufficient capacity to acquire, in a short time, an insight into rural economy, and my taste led me to follow it.
The curate returned from Brest accompanied by two of the principal heirs of Madame d'Altamont; in the transports of their joy and gratitude, there was nothing they would not have done for us. An unjust process had been commenced against them, which the papers we had saved insured their gaining. They would not allow us to mention the restitution we wished to make, but pressed on my mother's acceptance a very valuable ring, as a token of their gratitude.
Providence has highly blessed our labours; our affairs arc prosperous; we are in easy circumstances; our mutual attachment rendered us as happy as it is possible to be in this world. Our respectable pastor has undertaken the education of Tommy; and when he is ten years of age, I intend to send him to college, that he may, on some future day, be fit to fill that station of life which may suit his genius.
Beloved by our neighbours, to whom we have often the happiness of rendering ourselves useful, content with our mediocrity, and enjoying domestic tranquillity, we make all who surround us partake of our happiness. Our servants are treated as our children; we employ the laborious poor in preference to others; and a prudent economy, the distinguishing characteristic of my mother, enables us to perform some charities. It is thus that Heaven has led us, after the severest trials, to a condition the most desirable, and the most exempt from care.
I beg my young readers to take notice how useful it is to acquire betimes a knowledge of things in general, to accustom themselves to fatigue, and to the inclemency of the weather; to banish vain fears, and to prepare their minds for every event. Those which chequer the life of man are so varied, that it is impossible to foresee the situation into which we may be thrown; but patience and courage are powerful defences in all circumstances; with their help, and the protection of Heaven, there is no obstacle we may not surmount, no misfortune which we may not overcome.
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