Continued form Part I
TABLE OF CONTENTS II: Chapters XI-XXIII
Chapter XI. A Mocking Laugh Chapter XII. Liberty Island Chapter XIII. Joco Chapter XIV. Joco's Story Chapter XV. Cannibals Chapter XVI. Surrounded by Fire Chapter XVII. A Mysterious River Chapter XVIII. Wonders of Nature Chapter XIX. Joco's Disappearance Chapter XX. Joco Discovered Chapter XXI. Joco's Story Chapter XXII. Waupango Chapter XXIII. After Trials -- Home Again On my way to the new house I saw a plant which caused me to pause.
I did not know much about farming, having been brought up in Water Street, New York, but I had seen potatoes growing, and the plant looked uncommonly like that edible tuber.
I had no digging-tools, so down on my knees I went, and scraped away the earth until I reached the roots, and there I saw a cluster of the nicest-looking potatoes ever grown out of Ireland.
The tears came into my eyes --- tears of joy --- for I liked potatoes, and they would make a good substitute for bread.
I found eight nice large ones, and how careful1y I carried them!
I reached the new house, expecting a welcome from Spero, but was doomed to disappointment.
I lighted a fire, and soon had the potatoes ready for roasting in the ashes --- the best way to cook a potato.
While the potatoes were roasting I began making a spade.
I sawed a board, which I had found at the wreck, into something like the shape of a spade and handle; then I sharpened the spade end and rounded off the handle with my spokeshave.
My tool broke before I got through, and the accident alarmed me.
What should I do when my tools were all broken?
My spade was worse than the clumsiest snow-shovel ever made, but I could dig with it after a fashion.
My potatoes were ready, and I took one of the largest and broke it open.
It was like a ball of flower.
Never had I enjoyed anything so much before.
But where was Spero? I missed him.
The ten-foot timbers were heavy. I had let him do all the lifting before.
I staggered under the weight, and when I had lifted the first one into its place I found I could not both hold and fasten it.
I struggled for an hour, and gave up in despair.
I was sure Spero would return if he were still alive, and so I deferred the binding and went on with cutting down the trees and sawing them into lengths. But even that was wearisome work, and I quit very soon.
I searched through my tool-chest, more to pass away the time than anything else.
In the dirt and rubbish at the bottom I found two little grains of Indian corn.
I was just about to wash them and eat them, when a new idea stopped me.
I would plant them.
Digging up a piece of ground, I planted my two grains of corn.
Then I carefully surrounded the place with tree-stumps so that no one --- and I laughed to think that "no one" could only mean myself --- could step on and crush out the life of my cornfield.
All day passed, but Spero did not return.
Two days more of loneliness, and I had relinquished all thought of building a stockade.
Not because I did not think it necessary, but I was not strong enough to erect it unaided.
It was early morning on the fourth day of Spero's absence, when I was awakened from my sleep by a most unearthly chattering.
I had spent the night at the new house, instead of the cave.
I left my bed, which consisted of palm-leaves, and cautiously grasped my ax before I looked out.
I almost fainted at what I saw.
There was Spero, alive and evidently well, but he was not alone.
He had with him two other baboons, uglier than he was.
One of them had a nasty gash on the head, covered with clotted blood.
Spero was showing them how to build the stockade.
He made them carry the timbers and stand them in place, while he tried to secure them with the cords.
Every mistake the baboons made was punished by a heavy blow administered by Spero with a stick.
I understood the situation.
Spero wanted to be a "boss."
He had searched the island for workers, and had most probably beaten the two baboons into submission.
They were now to work for him, as be had done for me.
He had a great head.
I forgave his absence, but I was in awe of his assistants. Suppose that the three monkeys should turn against me.
What chance should I have?
A fly would have a better one.
I saw that I should have to be always very watchful.
Spero grinned as I approached him, and he pointed out the workmen.
He rubbed his chest and patted his head; then he shot out his arm as in the act of striking; he next fell on his knees, and when he rose he shouldered one of the logs of timber and carried it to the wall.
I understood this pantomime as well as if he had spoken.
He felt the work too heavy for him, so he began to think. He started out in pursuit of some of his former neighbors, and, having found them, he beat them into subjection.
I found all three ready workers, but Spero resented my interference with his men.
I had to tell him what I wanted them to do, and he would in some language of his tribe acquaint them.
He was a harsh taskmaster, for he generally emphasized his orders by a good, heavy blow.
I made him understand about the cornfield, that it was not to be touched.
For dinner I had broiled or roast fowl and roast potatoes, with wild grapes and a cup of coffee for dessert.
It was not bad fare, but Spero and his companions would not touch the fowl, and preferred the potatoes raw, so all the cooking was for one, and that one myself.
Nothing eventful happened for more than two weeks.
I had made a calendar out of a very tall palm growing in the center of my enclosure.
I cut a small notch in the bark for each day, a long one, going a quarter round the tree, for each seventh day.
I had lost the actual reckoning, so it was quite probable that my Sabbath was not the same as that observed in New York, but it was the seventh day, and I scrupulously abstained from work on that day.
I had left New Bedford late in April, I had been on the whaler about five or six weeks, so I reckoned that I was landed on my island about the middle of June.
I commenced my calendar with the first of July, which gave me about ten days or so before I began my reckoning.
By the time I had finished my stockade, which now encircled my house with a solid fence ten feet high, it was the end of October.
The weather was getting warmer, and it was far pleasanter to sleep outside than in my room.
In my farmyard I had a gate which could only be opened from the inside, my mode of ingress and egress being by a rope ladder which I had made out of fibers of palm- leaves; these fibers were very strong and as soft as silk.
I had made a tent on the ground with the giant palmetto-leaves --- which often grew to be as much as four or five feet wide.
Under this tent I slept, leaving Spero and the others to enjoy themselves in the house or among the branches of the trees.
I had called the assistants Hercules and Cupid.
The one because of his immense strength, for Spero was like a child in his hands, the other because he was so playful and loving that I could not think of any better name than Cupid.
I was lying on my back under my palm-leaf tent, when I fancied I heard something trying to climb the stockade in front of me.
At first the noise disconcerted me, but I remembered that the fence was ten feet high, and that no animal, save one of the monkey tribe, could climb it.
I closed my eyes and tried to sleep.
I fancy I must have dozed off, for I found myself thinking of Water Street and wondering whether the old captains still drank rum and spun yarns in the office.
Then a strange suspicion filled my mind.
Was my father a smuggler?
Well, not exactly that, either, but did he give assistance to and receive profit from smugglers?
I used sometimes to think invoices and charter- parties were queer things.
Once I saw an invoice of a cargo of goods, and was told there was no duty to be paid on that particular shipment. I so entered it on my books, but I was puzzled when, instead of canvas, the vessel contained bales of silk, on which a heavy duty was levied.
I woke myself by laughing.
Did I laugh?
I am sure I did.
But there was a second laugh.
Whence did it come?
Spero could grin, but made no noise.
Hercules could not even do that; he was far too serious a monkey to appreciate mirth in any way, while Cupid danced and grinned when he wished to express his delight.
Yet there was a second laugh.
It could not have been an echo.
I jumped to my feet.
Seizing my ax, I went out of the tent.
There was silence everywhere.
I was soon at the top of the wall, and as it was a moonlight night I was able to see a long distance.
There were no signs of either animal or human being.
Was it possible I had been deceived?
I sat on the top of the wall, wondering about it until I fell asleep.
I have often thought since that it was nothing short of a miracle that I did not fall down and break my neck.
My father used sometimes to jest about me, and say I was born to be hanged, and I often thought of his saying, wondering whether he had any sight into the future.
It was morning when I awoke, and I nearly fell, through my surprise, when I found where I had made my bed.
It was some time before I could bring back a remembrance of the reason for my being on the top of the wall.
Then I was perplexed.
Was it all a dream, or had I really heard some one laughing?
I was very positive that no animal could have laughed so humanly.
I lowered my ladder and descended to the sands.
There, clearly enough, was the same mysterious footprint.
A large, naked footprint had been there.
Who could my fellow islander be? Why should he mock me and refuse to be interviewed?
I again set off and explored the country all about, but without any success.
When I returned I saw Spero and Cupid examining my cornfield.
I am afraid I suspected them of being about to steal my corn.
But they looked very innocent and walked away.
The corn was nearly ripe.
Both grains had grown, and on one stalk I had four cobs and on the other three.
I thought in that latitude I could get two harvests in the year, so it would not be long before I could get some corn.
The thought of corn suggested bread, and I could not bake bread without an oven.
That day I, accompanied by my three workmen, went inland about half a mile, to where I had seen some good clay.
Each of my baboons carried a board, while I shouldered my heavy wooden spade.
I dug the clay, and, there being a stream of water near, we soon puddled it and began brickmaking.
It was very easy shaping the bricks; I made them smaller than the usual size, because I thought I should have to trust to the sun to bake them.
When our day's work was done I gave each of my assistants a good, heavy load of clay to carry.
They were the very best of servants, for they did not complain.
I began with the clay as soon as we got home.
Fashioning it into various shapes, I made a rough and rude bowl in which I could hold water, and perhaps boil it.
Why had I not thought of it before?
I had means of making a fire; I would burn my bowl.
Spero watched my every movement with interest; Hercules turned his head away, as though expressing contempt for such frivolous work, while Cupid was mischievously fastening Hercules to the stockade by means of a rope he had tied around his tail.
The flames wound round the bowl, and I was sure my experiment would be a success.
I set to work and made some cups --- I had used coconut shells up to that time --- and plates.
They were very crude-looking things.
It had appeared a very easy thing to model cups and plates, but when I tried it I saw that art and skill were required.
My bowl was a nice red, and I lifted it from the fire with a stick.
When it was cold I found it quite hard and capable of holding water, though it was as porous as a common flower pot.
Still it was a success.
My bricks I burned; it was quicker than baking them in the sun.
Hercules was pleased with the work of carrying them to the stockade.
When we had a goodly number there I built an oven.
I raised the walls easy enough, but was puzzled for some time about the floor of the oven, for I had no mortar.
A happy thought occurred to me.
I would make the floor all in one piece.
Working-up some clay, I rolled and patted it out until it made two bricks, each three feet long by two feet broad.
I let it harden in the sun for two days, and after that burned it.
Again my experiment proved a great success, and I had my oven built.
One of the large bricks I used as a floor, the other as the top and lighting a fire underneath, I soon had my oven hot enough to roast a fowl or bake a loaf of bread.
I had dug up a good store of potatoes, putting some on one side for seed and eating from the others.
One day Hercules had been wandering about, and re turned eating something which had an unusual but pleasant odor.
It looked like new bread.
I begged a piece, and Hercules gave me all he had.
I tasted a little, and liked it.
I knew at once that it was the breadfruit.
I had heard some sailors on the whaler describe how they cooked it and how good it was.
Hercules was easily persuaded to show me where he had got it, and we brought back twenty good-sized breadfruits.
I cut them in quarters, took out the cores, and got ready to bake them.
I placed some hot bricks in a hole in the ground, and covered them with green leaves; upon this I placed a layer of fruit, then stones, leaves, and fruit alternately, until the hole was nearly filled; then I put more leaves, and finished filling the hole with dirt.
I left the fruit for about half an hour, and then removed it.
The outsides were nicely browned, and the inner part tasted like new bread, though much sweeter.
Hercules turned a somersault when he tasted the baked fruit. Spero clapped his hands, while Cupid was so de lighted that he tried to tie Spero's and Hercules' tails together.
My breadfruit was a success.
I baked some in the oven; but it was not nearly so good.
I began to think it time to give a name to my island home.
I had not the remotest idea of its latitude or longitude, and so did not know whether it was marked on the maps or not.
After puzzling my brains for a long time, I said aloud:
"What is the matter with Liberty? Haven't I all the liberty I care for? Of course, so Liberty Island it is and shall be."
After I had so decided, I strutted up and down before my house, inflated with my own importance.
The naming of the island led me to a greater project.
I would explore Liberty Island, make a map of it, and give names to all its capes and promontories, its hills and dells.
The bay in front of my house I drew on my map and called it, Rest Haven.
My house and stockade I dubbed by the pleasing title Castle Content.
I was pleased with my work, and began scratching my head again to find a name for my rocky dwelling, my cave.
I first called it Stony Mount, but a few days later changed it to the name it now bears --- Fort Lookout.
The wood I called Hercules Forest.
Quickly the idea came to me that the pretty little valley right at the east of my stockade, where trickled a tiny stream of the purest water, should be called Cupid Dell.
Pretty name, don't you think so?
After amusing myself with the naming of my island home I set to work to gather in a good store of coconuts for future use.
After losing a great many, I hit upon a plan which led to great results.
I sent --- at first --- Hercules and Cupid up the trees to gather the fruit, which they threw down to the ground, while Spero and myself piled it in heaps.
I sat on the beach thinking, when Cupid came crying and howling to me.
He had his tongue hanging out of his mouth and kept rubbing his stomach.
I fancied he had been poisoned.
"Show me, Cupid, where you have been."
The baboon --- all the time uttering the most heartrending cries --- hurried along until he reached a place in Hercules Forest.
A little spring bubbled up from the ground.
Cupid pantomimically pointed to the spring and then to his mouth.
I put my hand on what I supposed was water, and found the liquid greasy.
"It looks like oil," I said, and Cupid howled with the remembrance.
I found a coconut-shell near-by, and I filled it with the liquid.
When I reached the stockade I dipped a dry leaf into the oil and held it near my cooking-fire.
It blazed up so brightly that I was startled.
"Eureka!" I shouted.
Spero, Hercules, and Cupid came and squatted on the ground near me.
I got together a big handful of dry grass and tied it tightly together.
I then attached it to a palmetto-leaf parachute.
The three monkeys wondered what new fake I was attempting.
I saturated the grass in the natural oil, and set fire to it.
Presently the leaf filled out with rarified air, and away it wept, far above the trees, and carrying with it the bright light, it looked like a floating fiery star in the early darkness of the evening.
In all my journeyings I had not seen any more footprints, and I had about come to the conclusion that a ship must have anchored near Liberty Island, and some of the crew visited it.
The weeks passed away, and I had lost all fear.
I had to look after my harvest.
My corn had been very productive, and I could not resist eating one cob --- the rest I kept for seed.
I set to work to stock my poultry-yard, and found that I had undertaken a most difficult task.
But after a number of unsuccessful attempts I succeeded, and fifteen fowls were made captive.
The poultry kept me well supplied with eggs.
A little incident is worth relating here.
One morning I had slept a little later than usual, and should have indulged still longer had I not been aroused by a strange excitement.
Hercules, Spero, and Cupid were shouting and laughing in the most uproarious fashion.
I wondered what could have roused the enthusiasm of my family at that early hour of the morning.
Not wishing to disturb them, and yet filled with curiosity, I crept, with great secrecy, from the house, and saw that the three baboons were in my poultry-yard.
They were having a high old time playing snowball, only, instead of snow --- of which I had not seen any on the island --- they used eggs.
Not only had they taken all they found in the poultry-yard, but they had appropriated my stock from the house as well. I was mad.
I am afraid I used some bad words.
I got my stick ready to inflict the most condign punishment on the criminal jesters.
But Spero looked round, and the sight was so ludicrous that I sat down and laughed.
Egg all over him.
The bright-yellow yolk mixed with the dark hair of his face.
Chrome yellow everywhere.
Cupid was as bad, and as for Hercules, he looked as if he had literally rolled in eggs, the shells and yolks being all over him.
My sides ached with laughter.
The tears ran down my cheeks.
The more I laughed, the more eggs were thrown.
Had I known that I should not get another egg for a month, I could not have stopped the game just then.
Seeing me laugh caused Cupid to think I enjoyed the game and wished to join in.
He took up an egg --- I wonder whether it had been hidden for just such an occasion --- and threw it at me.
It struck my face.
More than half of it went into my mouth.
And, oh, the pity of it, the egg had matured with old age into a most offensive object
It must have been laid for twelvemonth.
Where did Cupid get it? That I never knew.
My experience made me angry. I laid about me with my stick. I belabored the three until I couldn't raise my arm to strike another blow.
As soon as I realized my helplessness I saw my danger. What if they turned on me?
But they did not.
They took the matter philosophically.
They had had their little game with eggs; I had taken mine with a stick.
I had found some animals which bore so striking a resemblance to pigs that I captured several small ones and built a pig-pen for them.
I was now enjoying some of the luxuries of life. I had plenty of coffee, I had also eggs for breakfast, and looked forward to the time when I should have bacon.
The breadfruit was almost as palatable as fresh wheaten bread; and quite as nourishing.
I was quite happy in Castle Content.
I thought that I should be willing to stay there the remainder of my life. But that very evening, when I was most contented, I went down to Rest Haven and threw myself on the sands.
I looked out to sea.
I had not seen a sail since the time when the pirates destroyed my flag which floated above Fort Lookout.
I thought of that as I looked out to sea.
I wondered, also, why I had never seen at Rest Haven any of the serpent fishes, or the octopus, such as I had seen on the other side of the island, near Fort Lookout.
A strange desire came over me.
I wanted to tell my adventures to some one.
What would the old captains think if I could just drop in on them at my father's office and tell them where I had been and what I had seen.
Of course, they wouldn't believe one-half, but that would be their misfortune, not my fault.
While I was thinking of home I saw a ship --- not floating on the sea, but high up in the clouds and upside down.
It looked quite natural that it should be so.
There was nothing extraordinary in it to me.
I watched it. Its sails were full set.
A flag floated from its masthead, but I could not distinguish its nationality.
I knew it was a mirage.
But young and inexperienced as I was, I knew that a mirage is only a reflection of something actually existing.
A vessel was near.
Perhaps it was within signaling-distance.
Should I light my fire?
She might be a pirate craft.
No, she was too trim for a pirate. She must be a merchantman.
I hurried to Fort Lookout.
I got together all the brushwood I could, and then I went back to Castle Content for big bowl of the natural oil.
I ignited the oil and brushwood.
A column of fire darted up into the sky.
I saw Spero coming toward me.
I ran away and hid in Fort Lookout.
I was ashamed.
I felt that I was trying to do a mean act --- that I was trying to leave my faithful friends and get away from Liberty Island.
I argued that the baboons had lived before I went to the island, and could do so after I left.
But my reason whispered:
That is so, but you have civilized them, you have taught them to be almost human, and now to leave them is a cruel desertion.
Higher and higher went the flames, but no answering signal came from the ocean.
The mirage disappeared, and, although I kept my fire burning all night, not once closing my eyes, no sign of any sail appeared.
When morning came I was nearly heartbroken.
I had longed for civilization. I had desired to leave Liberty Island.
My hopes were fixed on a mirage, and, like that phantom reflection, had melted away and left me most discontented.
All day I was idle.
I could not work.
And as if to cap the climax, upon ascending a tree deep in the forest, I slipped and fell to the ground, striking hard enough to lose my senses entirely.
How long I remained unconscious I have really no means of knowing.
It must have been several hours, for the sun had gone down.
When I opened my eyes I saw Spero looking at me with an almost human expression on his face.
Hercules and Cupid were seated some distance away, rocking to and fro, and looking the very picture of misery.
The faithful dumb friend danced with joy when he heard my voice.
He had thought me dead.
Hercules stopped his moaning and came across to me, looked straight into my eyes, and, in his great joy, ran up a tree and swung from branch to branch, shouting and gesticulating in almost human manner.
It was some minutes before I was able to rise, but when I did so I fancied I heard a moan.
Cupid turned away his head when I looked at him, and Hercules dropped from the tree to the ground.
"Where is it, Spero?" I asked.
Spero pointed sullenly to a dense part of the jungle, and I started to investigate.
Hercules gave me a push.
I knew he did not want me to go.
That made me all the more determined, and I waved him on one side.
The moaning grew more distinct.
It was too human to proceed from even a monkey; was I to solve the mystery of the island at last?
After breaking through the brush, I saw a little path which I might have traversed and so saved myself considerable scratches.
Lying on a green bank, in the very center of the almost impenetrable brush, was a man who seemed to be suffering.
"Who --- what are you?" I asked.
"A man like yourself," was his reply.
He had a fine, muscular form, strong joints, and well developed limbs, a skin almost mahogany color, face rather pleasing, the lips not so thick as a full-blooded African, but more prominent than a white man's.
He arose to his feet and tried to walk, but was lame.
"He did it," pointing to Spero, and I learned that my faithful baboon had found me soon after I had fainted, and seeing the stranger bending over me, had struck at and lamed him.
"How came you here? Who are you?" I asked.
The man looked at me in astonishment.
"Don't you know? Is it possible that you haven't hunted me?"
"I haven't hunted you because I did not know of your existence. I saw footprints ---"
"They were mine."
"I heard a laugh."
"It was my laugh; I could not help it."
"I searched ---"
"I know it."
"But only because I wanted company."
"You wouldn't give me up?"
"I don't understand you. Come to my stockade and we will talk over all your troubles, for I see you have some. Can you walk?"
"I don't know; that brute, I'll get even with him ---"
"No, you will not. Spero is my friend, and I'll protect him."
The man tried to walk, but after a few steps he fell, and we had to arrange a litter and carry him.
Hercules did not like the task, neither did Cupid.
They were not afraid of him, but they were jealous.
"What is your name" I asked.
"Jocolowski," answered the man.
I laughed at the strange name, and tried to pronounce it. "You won't be offended if I call you Joco?"
"No, no; anything so long as you won't give me up."
"Give you up! What do you mean?"
"It is a long story," he said, "and I am tired and hungry."
"Then you shall not tell me anything until you have had a rest."
I was puzzled over this strange being.
He spoke the English language as well as I did, and yet he was evidently of African or savage descent.
He was afraid of being given up to some one.
What could he have done?
Who could he be?
What if he were a murderer, or a criminal, was I not in danger of my life?
But he was a human being, and although only a little before I declared I never wanted to see any fellow creature again I was now full of joy, because I had discovered a naked savage.
Joco ate heartily and slept for several hours.
When he awoke he approached me and made a salaam, which told me he had been accustomed to be with superiors.
"I will tell you my story if you desire it," he said. "You ought to know who I am and why I came here. I told you my name --- call me always Joco, I like it better. I was born a free man in Jamaica, was educated to be a schoolteacher for the colored children, as the English thought they would learn better than with a white teacher ---"
"That accounts for your fluent speech," I said, feeling quite proud of myself for my ready reply.
He did not notice what I said, but continued:
"I was very happy and contented and life was pleasant. But one clay I thought I would like a vacation."
"I obtained permission, and purchased a ticket for New York. I intended returning by the same boat, as the sea voyage would take all my time.
"I had been three days out, when we heard a gun fired and we were ordered to lay to."
"The vessel which had waylaid us ran up the black flag to the foremast; and we knew resistance was useless."
"Our ship was captured, and yet it was only through sheer force of numbers, for our people fought well, and it was only when a dozen of the crew and passengers were killed that the vessel was surrendered."
"We had several ladies on board, all white. Of course, as my skin was dark, I was not allowed to sit with the white folks, but when the trouble came they did not care whether I was black, or blue, or yellow; I was just as good as anyone, for I was strong and able to fight."
"All the prisoners who were captured were taken on board the pirate craft and chained together."
"We were given our choice --- we could either die at once or become pirates. We each and all thought it just as well to live."
"And so you became a pirate?" I asked.
"Yes, I did become a pirate, and so did all but one, and he was a white man. He folded his arms and answered calmly: 'You can kill me --- I am in your power; but I will never be a pirate.' The brave man was thrown to the sharks."
"For several days we were kept in the hold, evidently for fear we might mutiny."
"One day, when we were pining for a glimpse of daylight and a breath of fresh air, we heard the heavy boom of the ship's gun, and knew that another vessel was near."
"We thought we might have a chance to escape, but we little knew the mistrust of the Malays."
"The holds were battened down and we were allowed to listen to the fight without taking part in it, until near the last."
"We were called on deck, and assigned the duty of cleaning up the ship."
"I don't want to tire you, young sir, with all that took place for the eighteen months I was a pirate."
"You shudder, and well you may, but during that eighteen months I never had a chance to escape, or even to land."
"I saw that my only chance was to be as bad as any of the Malays, and, as life was sweet, I appeared to be as bloodthirsty as they were."
"I don't wish to make myself out to be better than I am, yet it is only fair for me to say that I never struck a man except in self-defense, and I don't think I ever seriously hurt man or woman while I was a pirate, until that last, but that I will tell you of later."
"I am glad to hear it," I said, and, as it was dinner-time, I proposed we should eat together before he finished his story.
"No, no, no!" he said emphatically. "If you desire to eat, do so, but I will not touch anything until you have heard all my story."
"Go on, then, I will listen, and may we be comrades after I have heard all."
Joco paused for a few minutes in his narrative, and when he continued it was evident his emotion almost prevented him speaking.
"I determined to escape. Some of the others agreed to join me, but at last they grew frightened, and, through talking too loud, revealed our plot."
"I was lashed to the mast and whipped until my back was scarred and scored in every direction."
"I fainted, but was soon restored to consciousness by the brutes rubbing my bare and bleeding back with salt."
"The pain was so great that I could not cry out. I saw that it was the first officer who was superintending the flogging and brutality, and I resolved that if ever I got the chance he should die."
"For a week I suffered the most horrible tortures, and what made it harder to bear was the continued insults."
Nature does not give in easily, and I got well. My flesh healed, and I was made to do the most menial work on the ship."
"One day we sighted this island, and I thought my time had come. I was desperate."
"The first officer called me, and, pointing out the land, asked: 'Would you like to be put on shore?'"
"I answered that I should, whereupon he laughed and said I should die on board that pirate craft. I seized a boarding-hook, and, without thinking of the consequences, I struck the officer a violent blow on the head. He fell to the deck; his eyes were fixed on me; he never moved. I knew he was dead, and yet he did not bleed."
"I could not understand it, and I was frightened."
"There had been no noise, and no one had seen me do the deed. I was a coward, perhaps, for I became afraid. I lifted the dead body over the gunwale, and the next moment there was a splash."
"The noise attracted attention. All came running forward, and the captain called out to me: 'Here, you nigger, what was that you let fall overboard?'"
"I made some answer, and got cursed for my carelessness. I was threatened with punishment. I did not wait for it, but lowered myself overboard and sat in the chains."
"I heard the captain call for his first officer. I knew the ship was being searched, and that the officer would not be found."
"Then the voice of the captain was heard distinctly by me, declaring that I had killed the officer. I was sent for, but, of course, could not be found."
"I dared not stay where I was, and I dropped noiselessly into the water and swam toward the island, I had only just touched land when I saw the boats put off in pursuit."
"Fortunately for me, you had lighted a fire and hoisted a flag. The crew went there first, scaling the cliff and destroying your flag."
"That gave me a chance to get away. I crawled into the jungle, and, to my delight, saw that the search was given up."
"But I was not safe, for only nine returned to the pirate ship, and ten were in the boat when it left."
"Then you think one remained behind?"
"I am sure of it. And I thought you were one of the pirates, and had lighted the fire on purpose to get some one to stay with you."
I began to wonder whether the white man I had buried was one of the pirates.
I described him to Joco, and he at once exclaimed:
"'Tis he. He was a passenger on the same vessel with me, and tried to escape several times. They must have killed him and left him here."
"But the boat?"
"That is a mystery. But we will find out all about it yet."
"But tell me, are you not afraid of me?"
"No, Joco. I should have done as you did, and we will be brothers ---"
"No, I will be your servant."
"That will not do; you shall be my friend. We will live here together and die together, or be saved, as Heaven wills.
"How did you live?" I asked Joco presently.
"Any way. I ate raw fish, berries, leaves, anything I could secure."
"You shall live better now," I said generously.
Joco showed himself to be energetic, vigilant, and a first-class friend, and though I had got on well with Spero, Hercules, and Cupid, it was much nicer to have some one with whom I could converse.
We set to work and added to our poultry-yard, trapping a dozen fine fowls of a much larger breed than I had hitherto possessed.
I soon found that Joco was an acquisition.
Unfortunately, he always had a fear that the pirates would land and kill him. For this reason he preferred going out wearing a jaguar dress, he having killed such a beast before I met him.
Such was his fear of the pirates that I arranged for him to live at Fort Lookout --- a place where he was absolutely safe.
Each morning he would come to the stockade and help me devise various things for our future comfort.
Joco was, well educated, and, being some years my senior, I soon learned to treat him with great respect.
One of the favorite studies of his had been chemistry, and he often talked of the way in which gunpowder could be made.
I wondered whether we could hot make some, and so be in possession of more powerful weapons.
Joco, however, while he saw but little difficu1tyin making the powder, was not able to make the guns; so we gave up that idea, at least for a time.
"Have you never thought of escaping?" he asked me one day.
"I have watched for a sail, but in vain."
"Why not make a large boat, so that in case of necessity we could go out to the vessels' tracks?"
"Could we make one which would be seaworthy?"
"We could easily try."
There was a quiet confidence in the words that impressed me. We talked over the plans and discussed the details.
Joco, a school-teacher, knew more about practical boatbuilding than I did, who had been at sea for some little time.
Spero was quite proud when he started off with us to cut some trees.
Joco suggested that we should first make a raft and navigate the coast. We should perhaps find some more wreckage which would be useful.
The idea was a good one.
We soon had a raft made which measured fifteen feet long by about ten feet wide.
A mast in the center was so heavy at first that it would persist in dragging over the raft, but after considerable patience we got it balanced just right, and, with a sail made of palm-leaves, we started out on our voyage.
Spero, Hercules, and Cupid begged so hard to go that we could not refuse.
We took our boat along, in case of any accident to the raft.
It was not a pleasant sail, for the water washed over us all the time.
Our provisions' were high and dry in the boat, which we had lifted on the raft.
We had been out only about half an hour, when Cupid leaned over to let his hand drag in the water.
A sudden lurch of the raft caused him to fall overboard.
A more frightened monkey never existed than Cupid when we fished him out and placed him again on the raft.
We passed round the eastern boundary of Rest Haven, and entered upon a stretch of water unknown to me.
I got an idea that Joco had been there before, and I began to be very suspicious of his actions.
Poor fellow, he was loyal enough to me, but I had been so long alone that I mistrusted everything, man included.
"What is it?"
"I don't hear anything."
"I do: listen to the plash of oars."
I did listen, and I fancied I did hear oars dipping into water.
Was it so, or only imagination?
"Lie low!" suddenly whispered Joco.
I stretched myself full-length on the raft, as did Joco and the baboons.
Right in front of us we saw two large boats, or canoes.
We hoped our raft hadn't been seen, but yet wished to know where the canoes were going.
I managed to pull down the sail, and as I did so I unloosened the mast, and it toppled over into the water.
We wished to land, but did not know how to do so.
I suggested getting into the boat and towing the raft to land; but Joco discovered that we had neglected to bring the oars.
Quietly the colored teacher lowered himself into the water, and with bold, vigorous strokes swam toward the shore, towing the raft as easily as we could have done with the boat.
We landed safely, and drew the boat up into a dense brushwood which grew close to the beach.
Climbing to the top of the rocky eminence, from which we could get a good view of the valley, we lay flat on our stomachs and watched the canoes.
About twenty naked savages landed from the boats.
They were well armed with spears and a weapon like a tomahawk.
I shuddered when I saw them, and more so when I saw that they had a prisoner with them.
They got near enough to enable us to see that the prisoner was a young girl.
She was painted all over her body with bright colors.
Joco looked at her and her captors intently.
"They are going to kill and eat her," he said.
"Oh, horror! Are you sure?"
"Certain! Look, they are getting the fire built, ready to roast her."
"Then, by Heaven! we'll spoil their feast!" I exclaimed.
"Are you mad, Scott? What can two of us do against twenty?"
"Wait and see."
I had not formed any definite plan by which I could save the girl's life, but I was determined to rescue her.
The naked savages danced round the victim they were about to kill and eat.
The child looked frightened, but did not make a sound.
Either she had become resigned, or else was too agitated for speech.
Joco was very sure we should not save her, but he was equally confident our lives would be sacrificed if we made any attempt.
"Are you afraid, Joco?" I asked.
"Then do as I tell you, and we will frighten those fiends so that they will not come near the island again."
I saw that there was a small cave running from the side of the hill, and, as I fancied, opening close to where the altar of fire was being prepared.
I had with me a sheep's bladder full of the mineral-oil.
I gathered a lot of grass and saturated it with the oil.
When I had a good quantity gathered, I told Joco my plan.
Taking a good big handful of the grass; I crawled into the cave.
Unfortunately, it got smaller and smaller, until I could scarcely move.
Had I not seen a slight glimmer of light at the other end, I should have given up, though I was fearful I could not push myself back again.
But I managed to wriggle and push my way through, and succeeded in getting so close to the opening that I could almost touch the feet of the chief of the savages.
It was better than I expected, for there was no one I wished to scare more.
I had to be very cautious what I was doing, for if my hand should be seen I was bound to die.
Cautiously I pushed my handful of grass through the opening, and nearly spoiled all by some of it coming in contact with the chief's feet.
He, however, merely kicked it away and continued watching the building of the fire.
I had some slow-match, which I always carried with me, and, placing one end in the saturated grass, I struck my flint with my knife, and a spark dropped on the fuse.
With only a slight hissing, the slow-match burned until the sparks came in contact with the oil-soaked grass.
Then there burst up such a flame that startled every savage almost out of his skin.
It blistered the chief's legs.
The flame spread along the dry grass, and everything seemed on fire.
The savages began to run, but as they did so, Joco threw handfuls of the grass in their path, and almost before they fell the sparks would reach the grass and the flames would welcome the savages with warm affection.
I had forced my way through the hole, and, seizing the girl's arm, tried to drag her away.
She was more afraid of me than of those who wanted to eat her.
I tried to make her understand that she was safe, but she struggled so much that I had to relinquish my hold on her arm.
When we were fully satisfied that the enemy had gone off to sea in fright, we began to look for the girl.
We searched everywhere.
She had disappeared as effectually as if the earth had opened and swallowed her.
Hour after hour passed, and we began to think of Castle Content, but the wind blew big guns, and we thought it better to stay for the night in the shelter of the trees.
Neither of us slept.
The wind moaned and groaned through the trees, making weird sounds which almost drove me frantic.
I was glad when morning came.
Constantly the image of the frightened girl appeared on my mind, and I wondered what had become of her.
Joco declared I was silly to take any notice of a little savage, and shrugged his shoulders when I said I would have liked to feel we were all alone on the island.
"She is but a girl. If it were a man, why, it would be different," he said.
Early next morning we returned to Castle Content, and felt quite happy at being once again within the stockade.
For several days I was occupied with the necessary work about the farm.
The poultry needed attending to, and I set several hens.
Then some more ground needed spading, so that we could plant our potatoes and corn.
The climate of Liberty Island was so perfect that we could plant and sow at almost any time, being sure of two crops in the year.
Joco had a surprise for me.
He had not said anything about it, but had quietly given me a cup of the most delicious milk.
"That is not goat's milk," I said, but he only laughed as though he had deceived me, and said no more about it.
When I had staked out the ground for the potatoes, he took me to a small enclosure, which we had made for our cows, when we should catch any, and there, stood one of the meekest-eyed, pretty cows I had ever seen.
"Where did you get her?"
"Cupid caught her."
"I can only surmise, but yesterday, when you were hunting the interior for that black girl, Cupid went away right early, and I saw nothing of him until I was looking out the last time for you. I saw some strange- looking object coming toward me at a fearful rate. When it got nearer, I perceived that it was Cupid seated on the head of a cow, and holding on by the horns.
"I opened the door of the stockade," said Joco, "and in rushed the cow. When it saw how nicely it had been trapped, it bellowed in anger. Cupid had sense enough to leap from his very uncomfortable perch to the top of the stockade. The cow soon became reconciled, and now we can have plenty of milk daily. I waited until to-day, to surprise you."
Of course, a herd of cattle must have at some time in the past swum to the island from a wreck, or else other Crusoes had once lived here, which would account for many things, such as my finding coffee, potatoes, pigs, and do mestic fowls at large.
When we had got things pretty straight at Castle Content, and inspected Fort Lookout, I suggested that we explore a cave I had recently discovered.
Joco smiled as he answered:
"I am ready."
I led the way to a precipice, down which I clambered, with Joco following closely.
He was filled with amazement when he saw the great boulders of cold lava, and tears ran down his cheeks when later he stood by the side of the lake of liquid fire.
"I am so sorry for doubting you," he said, and I saw how much he felt it.
I accepted his apology.
He followed me willingly.
I easily found the passage through which I had reached the lake.
It was dark, but a light in the distance gave us confidence. The cave, so brilliant with stalactites and stalagmites, was reached, and Joco shouted with joy.
I learned that he was a geologist, and he told me the constitution of the various minerals.
"See," he said, picking up a bright piece of stone, "this is almost pure soda; how it got here I cannot say, but if we can get sulfuric acid, and I think we can, we can make some glass for windows."
"Glass?" I repeated, in astonishment.
"Yes. Glass is made of sand, chalk, and soda. We can easily get sand, there is plenty of lime from which to get our chalk, pyrites will give us the sulfuric acid and we have plenty of fuel, so we can get the glass."
I could not help saying:
"Fancy a learned pirate."
I could have bitten my tongue out for saying it when I saw the pained expression on Joco's face, and I very humbly, begged his pardon.
He said no more about geology at the time, but motioned for me to proceed.
Gulping down a lump which would rise in my throat, I led the way along the passage until we came to another cavern, of which I had no remembrance.
Two large fissures in the roof gave sufficient light.
We were more than astonished when we saw evidences of food scattered about.
"Some one has been here recently," I said.
"Yes, but I did not eat," I answered.
The food was fresh.
Berries and wild grapes, some breadfruit and some meat were still fresh.
I was impatient.
Joco very obediently followed me.
The way became darker until it was impossible to distinguish each other.
Joco placed his hand on my arm, and, in an awfully solemn voice, said:
A low, rumbling sound was all that I heard, but it made me afraid.
"What is it?" I asked, and was fearful, for I dreaded his answer would be the one word, "earthquake."
"It is the sea."
I breathed more freely.
"We are under it."
"What do you mean, Joco? You frighten me."
"It is a fact, we are really under the sea."
"Let us get away from here," I said, and he answered very quickly:
I led the way, or, at least, went first; but darkness prevented us from seeing each other.
The sound of the ocean grew plainer.
I almost fancied I could hear the breaking of the waves on the shore.
It was weary walking, and many times I stumbled.
"A light," said Joco, after an extraordinary long pause.
"Yes, it is the sunlight," I answered.
I was right, for an hour later we reached a plateau overlooking the ocean.
We were once again in the open air.
We were standing on a black rock which stood out in the ocean like a deserted giant.
Far away --- it must have been three or four miles --- we could see the shore of Liberty Island.
What a distance we had walked!
No wonder we were tired.
How glad I was that I had filled the great hour- glass at Castle Content, for had I not we should have lost all record of time.
When we got back we could tell pretty accurately how long we had been away.
We were both tired and sleepy.
There was nothing to prevent us from taking a nap.
The water could not reach us, and we had no fear of anything else.
We were soon asleep.
I was the first to awake.
When I did so I took hold of Joco and shook him until he awoke.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Some one has been here --- I saw them."
"Yes; some one was close here when I awoke, but ran away before I could speak."
"It is a mystery, but we will solve it," he said seriously.
"Are you sure you saw them?" Joco asked, with a look of incredulity on his face.
"Sure as I live. I am not dreaming," I answered, feeling vexed with my companion for his doubt.
"Let us search for these mysterious visitants, then, and if we find them ---"
"We shall get roasted for our trouble."
"Or find a way to escape from our lonely life," said Joco, sighing as he spoke.
We turned back, entering the cave through which we had reached the rock.
After going some distance. Joco stopped so suddenly that, as he was leading, I fell against him with such force that we both rolled over on the slimy floor of the cave.
"What did you do that for?" he asked.
"What made you stop so suddenly?" I asked, by way of reply.
"We are going the wrong way."
I could not help laughing, the whole thing was so absurd.
How could we be going the wrong way? We had en tered the cave and walked on and on, until I fell over Joco.
"This cave is not the one we passed through before."
"What do you mean?"
"Just what I say. You may laugh, Scott, as much as you please, but just think. We were able to touch the roof all the way in the other cave; you can't do so here."
That was true enough, and yet it was not likely there could be two cavernous passages so much alike.
"What do you propose? Shall we turn back?"
"No, let us go on."
"Agreed, my dear fellow, Go on, and I will follow."
Joco led the way in silence, and I began to believe that he had been right.
We could scarcely keep our feet, the way was so slippery, and I thought it strange that I should not have noticed it before.
The exclamation was as sudden as Joco's previous stopping, and I asked:
"Keep to the right, close to the wall; there is a great hole in the middle. Better still, stay until I can get a light."
My companion spoke so rapidly that I was sure something serious had been discovered by him.
He was carrying my jackknife and flint, and very quickly a spark dropped on the tinder, and we lighted one of our candles.
Joco had made some splendid candles out of goat- fat and the mineral-oil. The wick was made of twisted grass, and when lighted produced a brilliant light.
Joco had fortunately brought one of the largest of these candles with him, and right glad we were that he had done so.
As the candle burned up we saw that we were no longer in a narrow passage, but in a large cavern, the roof of which must have been a score of feet above our heads.
The walls were wet and slimy, the water trickling down from innumerable crevices.
A great, yawning chasm was right before me.
How Joco escaped I could not conceive.
"I kicked a stone down there," he said, "so I felt my way cautiously round it."
"There seems to be water at the bottom," I said.
"Yes, and it is running water. We have found some subterranean river."
I was young and inexperienced in those days, but I fondly imagined I knew everything.
I laughed at the idea of a river underground.
It was like a fairy-story, and although I had seen many wonders which I thought could never have existed, such as the lake of fire, yet I was not prepared to believe in a stream of running water away under the ground.
I began to argue with Joco.
"Where could such a river rise?" I asked, with such confidence that I fully expected my companion to say:
"Of course, it cannot possibly be a river."
Instead of that, he answered:
"It may be some great lake emptying itself down a fissure of the rocks."
"But how could it empty itself, seeing that it must be below the level of the sea?"
That was a poser for Joco.
He was silent for a few moments.
He was evidently listening to some sound.
When he spoke I was almost inclined to think he had gone mad.
"Scott, we are under the sea."
"Under the sea?"
"Yes; the sea is above us, and a river is below."
"Ha, ha, ha!"
I was compelled to laugh, and yet I felt far from mirthful.
The idea of a river flowing under the ocean was too much for me.
"It may be a lake," I said, as I looked down at the water beneath.
"We will test that."
Joco unwound a long grass rope which he had round his body, and, tying a small stone to the end, lowered it until it touched the water. The stone was borne along so rapidly that the cord was almost dragged from Joco's hand.
"Do you believe now?"
"Yes, I must believe; but it is very strange."
Joco drew up the rope, and, in place of the stone, fastened the lighted candle in such a way that it remained upright.
"It won't burn," I said, feeling confident that I was on safe ground.
"There will be so much carbonic acid gas that the flame will be put out."
But again I was wrong.
The light continued to burn and it really seemed to increase in brilliancy the lower it got.
"There must be a lot of oxygen down there," said Joco, and I was compelled to agree with him.
The candle touched the water and the light was ex tinguished.
"Scott, will you do me a favor?" asked Joco.
"Of course I will, old fellow; what is it?"
"I am going down there" --- pointing to the river --- "if I never come back, will you, when you escape from Liberty Island, tell my friends --- you will find their names and addresses at Fort Lookout --- how I lived with you and how I died?"
"Of course I will; but why go down there? Why tempt fate?"
"I must go. I am so full of curiosity that even if I were sure I was going to die I should go just the same."
I knew Joco well enough to be sure that he had as much obstinacy as any white man --- white man, I mean, as regards the color of his skin --- for Joco was as white in soul as any man that ever drew breath.
Making fast the rope --- he had tested its strength many times before --- he shook my hand hastily, and began to lower himself down the great shaft.
He had fastened his light to his head by means of a lump of clayey dirt, into which he stuck the candle.
Down, down, lower and lower, he went, until I felt the rope was hanging looser.
I called down the shaft:
But there was no answer.
I waited --- what else could I do?
An hour must have passed, for I know I had given up all hope of ever seeing Joco again.
I was wondering how I should ever find my way back to Liberty Island, and mentally pledging my vows that, once back, I would never wander away again.
I was about to draw up the rope, and yet hesitated.
What if he were alive, and found the rope gone. He would never reach the top.
But even as I laid my hand on the rope I felt it taut, and again I called:
To my great joy, a response came back:
Hand over hand, Joco climbed the rope, and in a very few minutes he was standing by my side.
It was all I could say. Joco looked as frightened as any one I had ever seen.
He shook worse than anyone with the chills, and that is saying a great deal.
"What have you seen?" I asked, when I found he did not speak.
"'I have been in another world," he answered.
I could not laugh.
A strange feeling overcame me; my tongue seemed to fill my mouth, my throat was parched, my heart was too large for my body.
"Another world!" I gasped.
"Yes; I will tell you some other time. Let us return."
I was perfectly willing, and we retraced our steps to the plateau from which we had started.
We searched for another cave, but could not find one.
And yet both were sure that we had not come by the way of the mysterious shaft, at the bottom of which was the still stranger river.
"Let us take a light and explore the cave," I suggested.
Joco was in favor of my staying there while he swam to Liberty Island and came back by way of the cave, but I would not stay alone --- no, not for all the wealth of the world.
Carrying the lighted candle, we again entered the cave and proceeded along its rugged floor for ten minutes or so. Then we saw a division.
Two passages converged at so sharp a point that any one walking either to the right or the left in the semi darkness would never have known that there was more than one.
As we had found the mysterious shaft in the road to the right, we now followed the one leading to the left, and after considerable delay we emerged, to see the great crater where existed the lake of fire.
We shouted for joy when we found ourselves once more on Liberty Island, and ran like schoolboys to Castle Content.
There was a look almost of reproach on the faces of our animals when we returned, for they had exhausted all their food, and were beginning to think that we had forgotten them.
Our first work was to provide them with food, and many a cry of satisfaction and cackle of delight rewarded us.
When evening set in, we lighted a big fire and filled our cups with arrack.
We felt we needed some stimulant, and excused ourselves that way.
All day, and it was early morning when we returned, we had called at intervals for Hercules and Cupid --- poor Spero we had lost by accident recently --- but they did not answer.
We missed them almost as much as they had been human beings, and felt lonely without them.
After a big draft of our homemade arrack, I screwed up courage to ask Joco about his experiences by the subterranean river.
He shuddered, drank some more arrack, and commenced:
"There is a mystery there which I shall try to settle some day. I found, when I got to the bottom, a swift-flowing river, but it scarcely seemed like water."
"It was thick and greasy."
"I put my hand into it, and nearly lost it for my curiosity, for a hideous monster leaped up and snapped at me."
"A monster! What was it like?" I asked.
"Its head was round and seemed to be enveloped in a hood. The head was very large, the mouth very wide, and eyes quite small, but they rolled about until I believed they must belong to a human being. Behind each eye there was an orifice, shaped like a crescent, which seemed to answer no other purpose save increasing the horrible look of the beast. It had two wings, and I saw that they were useful for both flying and swimming."
"How large was this monster?"
"It must have been seven feet long, for as it sprang out of the water it was very much taller than me."
"It must have looked awful."
"It did. I never saw anything like it before, and I don't want to again. I never heard of such a fish, and it seems to me to belong entirely to that particular river.
"The water," continued Joco, after taking another draft of arrack and lighting a cigar, "was warm, and, as I told you before, was greasy."
The fragrance of the smoke which rose from Joco's rude cigar was too much for me, and I had to make one for myself.
I had found a plant which closely resembled tobacco, though there was a very different perfume emanating from it when smoked. We gathered a lot of the leaves, and dried them.
When we wanted a smoke, we took some of the leaves and rolled them together until we had a cigar, which was very enjoyable, but certainly not salable, had we offered it in New York, for its looks were against it.
I made my cigar and commenced to smoke.
Joco continued his story, puffing at the tobacco between almost every word.
"I walked along by the side of this strange river, and saw that the descent was something frightful. The grade was so steep I could scarcely keep on my feet. Where did the water empty itself? That was and is a mystery. I saw some other strange animals, or fishes --- one, a small fellow, fortunately, had a head just like a horse, but its tail, which was very long, was like an alligator's, with the difference that it was very small and was used very much as an elephant uses its trunk, for the purpose of conveying food to its mouth."'
"I knew you would be worrying, and so I returned."
"You looked very frightened when you got back," I said.
"Did I? Well, I felt so. I had been to the infernal regions; of that I am convinced, and I shall go again."
"Not until after you are dead," I ventured as a joke; but Joco did not take it as such, for he answered seriously:
"Yes, I shall go again soon; I must and will know where the river rises and where it finds an outlet."
I was getting sleepy.
Perhaps I was tired, or it may have been the arrack; anyway, I scarcely heard the last part of Joco's speech, and I am afraid that if he said anything more I was too far gone to have heard it.
The next day we decided on having some bread.
That was a luxury I had not enjoyed since I left home. The hardtack, or biscuits, on ship could scarcely be called bread.
Joco set to work to grind some of the corn which we could spare.
He had found a large rock with a smooth top to it, and this he used for his grinding-table. A heavy, round piece of granite was lifted on the rock. It strained us pretty hard to lift it.
Where could Hercules and Cupid have got to? Their strength would have been useful.
Joco rolled this stone back and forth, to and fro, over the corn until we had a fairly fine meal.
The perspiration poured from Joco as he worked, for it was a pretty steep kind of labor, but we felt we were well repaid.
We had nearly a bushel of corn-meal.
How we should laugh at such a small quantity in New York, but to us, the inhabitants of Liberty Island, that bushel appeared to be an enormous amount.
We talked of griddle-cakes and corn muffins, of pies and bread, as though the meal would last forever.
But after making some cakes, we pulled long faces, for we saw what a hole we had already made in the meal.
Did ever cakes taste better than those?
Did ever cook make griddle-cakes equal to them?
We couldn't imagine anything superior, for if was the first bread we had tasted for months.
For several days, we worked about our far, looking after the little chickens, making a more comfortable house for the goats and pigs.
Joco said nothing more about the mysterious river, and I hoped he had determined to leave it a mystery forever.
Nearly two weeks passed before Hercules and Cupid returned.
They slunk in as though they were ashamed of them selves.
Where could they have been?
They could not tell me in words, of course, but I gathered from their actions, from the way in which they moaned and groaned, that they had been searching for Spero, whose burial they had not witnessed.
They worked just as well as ever, and we found them of great use.
The climate was so equable that we did not hesitate to plant and sow at any time.
We put in quite a large patch of potatoes and corn, and looked forward to a plentiful harvest.
"Do you know you are counting on three crops in the year?" asked Joco.
"Well, if nature can stand it, I can," I answered, as though nature was trifling with and teasing me by its bountifulness.
I had forgotten one thing.
I had entirely left the rainy season out of my reckoning. When I did remember I was appalled, for it was due at any time, and we had put all our seeds in the ground.
Of course, everyone knows that seeds will not germinate and grow without rain; but the rainy season on Liberty Island was something beyond compare. Every drop seemed to plow up the ground.
The valleys became rivers, the great hollows were lakes, and yet it only rained three or four days at most.
"What shall we do, Joco?" I asked, in wild despair. "We cannot dig up the seed, so we must protect it."
Joco laughed at my ignorance. He had lived all his life in the tropics, and knew that at times seeds had to be protected.
"You shall be boss," I said. "Tell us what to do and we will do it."
I answered for Hercules and Cupid, as well as myself.
Acting under Joco's instructions, we dug a deep ditch, or moat, all round our potato and corn-patch. That would prevent it, being flooded.
When this was done, Joco got the baboons to cut a quantity of palm-leaves and brushwood.
With this he made a thatch porous enough to allow moisture to pass through, but yet strong and close enough to prevent the heavy rain beating into the ground.
In reality, we covered in a quarter of an acre of ground with a thatch roof, with drainage on each side into the deep ditch.
"What if we don't get the rain after all?" I said, when we had placed the last leaf in position.
But before Joco could answer, a big drop landed on my nose and another struck me with almost the force of a hailstone on my cheek.
"It is here," said Joco; "and Castle Content will be pleasanter than the open.
We ran to our shelter, and were only just in time.
The rain came down in torrents.
Like great sheets of water it fell on the dry and parched earth.
Our house was nearly water-tight, and we were glad.
It was the first storm which had come to test its strength of resistance.
We dare not stir outside;
For five days we were prisoners.
It was not the fear of getting wet, but the rain beat down so heavily that it was almost impossible to breathe.
We were not idle.
Both Joco and I needed clothes, so we set to work with jaguar-skins, and made garments which were certainly unique.
Coat and trousers all in one piece.
That was my idea --- not that I thought myself a dress reformer, but it seemed to me the easiest way to make the clothes.
We spread a jaguar-skin on the ground, and then I laid down upon it.
Joco, with my sharp knife, slit the skin half-way up, and cut out a V-shaped piece.
Another skin was cut in the same way, and this made the back and front of the trousers; the coat was a straight and very ungainly looking article, but using the skin of the forelegs for sleeves, we made a very warm and comfortable dress.
The great objection was that we had to' draw it on from the feet and fasten it round the neck.
When the rain was over we went to look at our farm.
The thatched roof had saved our seeds, the ditch was full of water and nearly overflowing.
We soon made an outlet, and the ditch was drained dry.
The cattle seemed refreshed, for the air was clear and beautiful, while the earth, which had been parched, was now, moist and the grass green.
A strange noise attracted our attention. Outside we saw a flock of animals very like sheep, with long, shaggy wool.
They had sought shelter from the rain, and were half-starved and soaked.
We drove them into the cow-house, and congratulated ourselves on the great increase in our live stock.
"They want shearing badly," said Joco.
"Yes, and wouldn't it be jolly if we could make some cloth with the wool?"
"But we cannot."
"Don't be so fast, Joco. I went to school at Doctor Jowler's, and one thing he made me study as a punishment was how to make cloth."
"Yes, or, at least, felt."
"But we have no mill."
"We don't want one. You shear the sheep, and I will make the felt, at least we will all help .
It took us two days to manufacture a pair of shears out of our jack-knives, but we managed it, and started to make our cloth.
I forgot about the great quantity of grease in the wool and nearly spoiled the whole of it through that piece of forgetfulness.
We warmed some water and poured it over the wool. This was repeated a dozen times, Cupid and Hercules fetching the great earthen kettle of water and pouring the contents over the wool.
Joco had found some soda, and that helped us very materially, although the soda was very crude and dirty."
When the grease was extracted, we spread the wool out to dry.
Then we wetted it again, and repeated the process of wetting and drying a dozen times or more.
While this was taking place we were engaged in making a long, shallow trough.
If was not a very artistic piece of work, but it answered our purpose.
Joco manufactured some soap from the mineral oil, goat's fat, and soda, and I made a strong lather of the soap.
The wool was placed in the trough and the lather poured over it.
Now commenced our work of cloth-making.
We had no hot cylinders with which to press the wool, so we went back to the ancient method.
Each of us took a heavy wooden mallet and pounded the wool until it began to adhere and interweave itself.
Cupid and Hercules enjoyed this work, and we kept them at it until our felt was about half an inch thick.
We had to make a wider trough, use more soapy water, and hammer still harder.
At the end of three weeks from the time of catching our sheep, we had twelve yards of cloth two yards wide and nearly a quarter of an inch thick.
It was of no value as a marketable article.
No house would offer it, or anything like it, over its counter, but the two inhabitants of Liberty Island were prouder of it than they could have been of the finest woven texture.
The excitement of making the felt had caused us to forget everything else.
The mysterious river was never referred to; the disappearance of the girl we had saved from the cannibals, even, had been forgotten.
We were, however, brought back, to a memory of the past by seeing the imprint of human feet outside our stockade.
The footprints were small, and the thought occurred to both of us at the same time:
The girl must have returned!
We followed the trail for some distance, and were at sea, for beyond Cupid Dell there was not the faintest trace of any human presence.
Not a tree nor a shrub seemed to have been touched; the brush was dense, but had not been disturbed.
And yet we traced the footprints right up to the dell.
Joco was more excited than I had ever seen him.
He almost became frantic.
Several times he went back and forth from the stockade to the dell, each time losing the trail at the same place.
"I will find it out, even if I die in doing so!"
"Don't be silly, Joco. If anything happened to you, I should go crazy."
All day his excitement continued, and although we searched everywhere, we could not discover who had made the footprints.
I laughed at Joco's anxiety, and reminded him how he had puzzled me until, at last, I had discovered his retreat.
I managed to get him to help me make some clothes out of the felt.
They required more skill than the jaguar suits, and Joco became interested.
I cut out the cloth, and Joco sewed it; we had a most primitive needle, using a long thorn, and the fiber of a palm-leaf for thread.
Gradually the interest in tailoring overshadowed that of the footprints, and for several weeks we lived perfectly happy.
Two coats had been made out of the felt, and right comfortable they were.
We had started on trousers, but had not made so much headway.
When I thought all was working so satisfactorily, Joco became ill at ease, and told me he was going to spend a day or two at Fort Lookout. Of course, there was no objection to that, for Fort Lookout was his home.
But when a week passed by and Joco did not return, I became uneasy.
I was beginning to feel lonely.
I was unfitted to live alone after having had companionship.
Hercules and Cupid saw that something was wrong.
I was irritable and cross.
At last I could stand it no longer.
Joco had asked me not to disturb him, and I had promised. But a week had passed.
I went to Lookout.
My spirits went down to zero, my heart into my boots; for it was evident that Joco had not been there at all.
And I had not seen him for eight days.
What had become of him?
My only human companion had gone, but where?
Had he sought again the wild life in the jungle, from which I had rescued him?
That I could not think possible.
I thought of the mysterious river, and of his resolve to explore it from its rise to the sea.
There must be his hiding-place, but how could he live?
I went back to Castle content, and waited for his return.
I was not superstitious.
I did not believe in omens, but I was certain I should never see Joco again.
No one who reads this can realize how lonely I felt.
Everyone knows what a strange feeling is experienced on entering an empty house and staying there some hours.
Every sound becomes magnified, every creak and crack of the wood sounds weird and ghostlike.
So Castle Content was a lonely place.
Hercules and Cupid were romping about and jabbering, but their presence only made the solitude more distressing, for I felt, more than ever I had before, that they were only monkeys.
And Joco was a man, well educated, intelligent, far more so than myself, and a gentleman in manners, although he was dark-colored and had been a pirate.
Why did I not search the cave and even descend the shaft to the mysterious river?
I will confess my shortcomings.
I was afraid.
Yes, I trembled and shook as I thought of the horrors of that subterranean region.
I liked Joco, but not enough to go alone to search for him in the caves below the sea.
I waited two days more.
Ten days, and no companion!
Could I endure it much longer?
My head seemed as if it would burst; my heart was beating so fast that I could scarcely breathe.
I must seek him.
Leaving Castle Content, I crossed the Hercules Wood in the direction of the lake of fire.
I was tired, the least exertion took away all my strength. Seating myself on a rock, I fell asleep.
I was wearing the jaguar-skin garments, and must have looked an unearthly object.
Was I dreaming, or did some one touch me?
I raised my head.
My eyes were wide open, and I knew I was not asleep. Standing in front of me, I saw the girl I had rescued from the cannibals.
How did she get there?
It was evident she had not been hiding in the wood ever since, for her dress was different.
There was not a superabundance of clothing, for she wore a string of beads round her neck and a short skirt of grass cloth was her only additional attire.
"Where did you come from?" I asked, but she only laughed and showed two rows of ivories, which were as pretty as any I had ever seen.
She put her hand on my arm and pulled me.
Had she been able to talk my language, she would doubtless have asked me to follow her, but she merely motioned with one hand, while she pulled with the other.
I rose and resolved to go with her.
She was human, and, although black, was certainly better company than my baboons.
She led me to the precipice, and almost dragged me down the steps.
A shudder passed over her as we reached the lake of fire, for she was evidently afraid of it.
On, with rapid steps, she led the way into the cave, and I still followed. How far we went I could not tell, for I stumbled so much trying to keep up with her that I was really no judge of the distance.
We reached the large cavern from whose roof hung the stalactites glistening and dazzling bright as the sun shone through the fissures of the rock.
Then she stopped, took me by both shoulders, and forced me to a seat.
Perhaps she thought I was tired, on account of my stumbling.
She was not, evidently, for she ran from the cavern with the fleetness and surefootedness of a deer.
For what had she brought me there?
I wondered as I waited.
Then I fell asleep and dreamed,
I thought I had found Joco again.
When I awoke, the girl was standing in front of me, looking at me very intently. Her mouth opened, and a merry laugh rippled between her teeth.
The, girl seized my arm again and pulled me forward.
There was a strange magnetism about her which I could not resist.
I went through a long passage and entered another cave, which was lighted by the sun, whose rays crept in through a narrow opening in the rock.
My companion pointed to one corner, and ran away so rapidly that I had not the remotest idea which way she had gone.
I crossed to the dark corner, and saw Joco.
He was lying very contentedly asleep.
Here was a new mystery.
Should I wake him?
I did not hesitate long. I shook him somewhat roughly, and was a long time before I could rouse him from his sleep.
"Scott! Thank Heaven!" he exclaimed, when he saw me.
"Where have you been? How came you here?" I asked.
"I will tell you all I know when we get back to Liberty Island. But, Scott, can you help me? I am lame."
He leaned on my shoulder and stood up. I could see that it pained him to do so.
"Can you walk at all?" I asked.
"I think I can; I will try."
Something impelled me to remain silent on our way. By easy stages --- he had to rest every few minutes --- we reached the large cavern.
"I am hungry," he said.
I had some cocoa-leaves in my pocket. I had found the cocoa shrub on Liberty Island, and soon learned the value of its leaves.
He chewed some of them, and was invigorated.
For hours we walked and rested, and were rewarded at last by reaching Castle Content.
Hercules turned a somersault as soon as he saw Joco, and Cupid was so delighted that he bit his companion's tail so hard that Hercules cried out with pain.
Joco fell asleep almost as soon as he got into the house, and although I watched beside him, he never moved all night.
In the morning I prepared a soup of mutton, potatoes, and yams, and was well repaid by seeing Joco swallow a large quantity.
"Did you wonder where I was?" he asked, and I told him how I had searched and the way by which I had at last found him.
"She is an angel!" he said, his eyes filling with tears as he spoke. "She saved my life, and I shall never forget her. But where is she?"
"I don't know; when she pointed you out she ran away, and I have not seen her since."
"It is very strange."
"Very. Tell me, won't you, where you have been?"
"I feel well enough now, and I will do so, for I want you to love that girl as I do."
"When I left you I started for Fort Lookout."
"That was where you said you were going," I interrupted.
"Yes, but I did not go. I had a strange premonition --- a feeling of something hanging over me --- and I wanted to find the secret of the river.
"It haunted me. I was insane, if you like to call it so, but I must find the source of the river and where it emptied itself.
"So, instead of going to Lookout, I thought I would go to the shaft and look down at it, anyway."
"I reached the lake of fire safely, and sat for some time looking at the molten lava."
"I threw a stone into the lake."
"It sank quickly, but was forced, by some strange power, to the surface again. I knew it by its peculiar shape."
"I threw in another, with the same result."
"What power was it which drove the stones upward with such force?"
"The same which melts the lava," I answered, more for the sake of saying something than anything else.
"Of course, but I got the idea that the meeting of the waters of the river with the fire which was burning in the volcano generated a gas of enormous power."
"Very likely,'" I said, "but what better are we for knowing that?"
"Science, my dear fellow --- science, which always benefits the world."
"But we are not of the world, and shall never see civilization again."
"I may not, but you will, and some day, Scott, you will be a great author, telling the world of the wonders of that lake of fire."
Joco had rolled up some tobacco-leaves, and was smoking' very contentedly while I had been doing some necessary work about the house and thinking.
He was just about to resume his story, when a most horrible cry startled us both.
Hercules and Cupid had got some tobacco, and were taking their first lesson in smoking.
They had become so deathly sick that they became frightened, and screamed out almost humanly.
"Go out, you varmints!" I shouted, more expressively than politely, and they quickly went outside the house. They threw themselves on the ground, and cried and rolled about in the greatest agony.
Joco laughed at their misery, and said that he felt about the same when he smoked his first pipe. I never had such an experience. If I had, I should never have had a second, for I would not have touched tobacco again.
"To return to the lake of fire: I entered the cave, intending to note carefully whether I descended or ascended as I walked," continued Joco. "But I soon forgot to do so, for I was anxious to reach the shaft. I must have missed my way, for I found myself on the brink of a ledge of rock about five or six feet high. I knew that I had not been along that passage before, and became all the more interested. I dropped down carefully, and walked about a hundred yards."
"I heard voices."
"What did I tell you?" I asked quickly.
"I heard voices; and ran forward, to my cost, for I fell down another precipice, and knew no more until I found myself in the great cave where you saw me."
"But where had you been?"
"The girl we rescued from the cannibals spoke a fair language, the Mamsutta, which I understood, and she told me all about how she had saved my life."
"Then you spoke to her?"
"Yes, and I sent her for you. Once she came to Castle Content, but saw Hercules, and she became frightened, for her sister had been carried away by a huge monkey, and has never been seen since."
"How interesting tell me all."
"This girl, whose name is Waupango, lived on an island about six miles from Liberty. Her people are not cannibals, but through the cruelties of pirates who have landed there, they kill all who come as strangers.
"The Wallalooloos, a savage tribe of islanders, made war on her people and captured several women and children for food, as they are cannibals.
"They had fattened Waupango, and were going to have a feast, when you stopped them with the fire."
"But how did she escape from the island?"
"She knew of the passage under the sea between, the islands, and was not long in reaching home. Well, Waupango came several times to the island, but could never reach us on account of the baboons; she was making another attempt when she found me. She dare not take me to her island home, for she knew I should be instantly killed, so she took me to the cavern, and fed me until I was strong enough to be moved. Then she fetched you, and we have not seen her since."
I had no reason to doubt the story, although it seemed improbable.
I felt I would like to see Waupango, and suggested that together we should explore the passage to the other island and take our chances as to living.
Joco agreed to this, but counseled delay.
He wanted to be stronger, and, as he confided to me later, he wanted to be sure of safety.
He had been experimenting and had nearly succeeded in making an explosive stronger than gunpowder.
"If I can do it," he said, "we will risk the visit, and, then, should they pursue us, we can return to the cave, and blow up the rocks behind us, so closing the passage and insuring our safety."
I thought the idea a good one, and consented.
Joco got strong very quickly, and the weeks flew by with astonishing rapidity.
I devoted all my time to the farm, while Joco attended to his experiments.
We saw no more of Waupango, and had become quite reconciled to our loneliness.
Everything on our farm was a success.
The corn was most prolific, the potatoes equal to any I had ever tasted in New York.
We had built ourselves a brick wall on the east of the house, which sheltered us from the wind, which sometimes was most piercing.
If any two men could be happy on an island in mid-ocean, cut off from all communication from the world, we were.
Sometimes I sighed as I thought of home.
Sometimes I would strain my eyes, hoping to see a sail, but we were out of the track of vessels, and not even the pirates came near Liberty again.
Occasionally we would see a whale spouting away in the distance, and then we would watch and wait for the ap pearance of a whaler, but none ever came.
Up to the time of Joco's disappearance I had been careful to keep up my calendar, but after that had got careless, and lost my reckoning.
I tried to remember and recall the events of each day, but there were big blanks, and I ceased to bother.
What did it matter about time? We should not die any sooner or live any longer had we possessed clocks and calendars.
As near as I can remember, a year must have passed before Joco finished his experiments and had made a powerful explosive.
We tried its force on rocks, and saw the great giants of the mineral world blown into thousands of pieces.
"When shall we go and see Waupango?" I asked.
"To-day, if you like."
That was rather earlier than I cared about, so I suggested that we get together a good quantity of food and start the next morning.
Joco thanked me for the suggestion, and the day was devoted to preparations for the journey.
Joco had a great parcel of his explosive grass --- for it was really grass soaked in same peculiar acids he had made and I had an equally large parcel of food.
We carried the parcels on our backs, like soldiers carry their knapsacks.
We made our way quickly, until we came to those places where there was a steep decline.
For several hours we walked along, jumped over chasms, dropped down small precipices, and all without accident.
At last we were rewarded by hearing voices.
We stopped to argue upon our plan of action, and decided to ask, boldly for Waupango.
It was a risky action to take, but the only one which seemed to augur well for success.
We walked about a hundred yards farther, and almost suddenly passed into the open air.
I say almost suddenly, for the passage was so dark that we could not believe we were so near the end.
We saw a most luxuriant plain, the grass growing to an enormous height, looking almost like wheat, as the gentle breeze blew it to and fro.
From the cave a path had been cut through the grass, and along this we walked. I went first, for Joco thought the sight of a white man would disarm suspicion.
In the center of the plain a large circle had been mown, and seated round a fire were some hundred naked savages.
As soon as I emerged from between the walls of tall grass, they arose and gave a wild whoop.
As if by magic, the scene was changed, for scores of women and children came trooping into the circle.
The women were all dressed as I had seen Waupango; the children were naked. Almost instantly the men and women fell into line, forming a solid square, the women and children being in the center.
Joco stepped forward, and, making a very low salaam, said:
"Most noble and worthy chief and great people, a daughter of thy race hath shown mercy to those who rescued her from her enemies. The fire was kindled which was to prepare her for the food of her foes, but thy servants rescued her. Where is Waupango that she may receive our thanks?"
Every man uttered the name:
Every woman and child muttered it, and the very grass seemed to bow and mutter the name.
The chief answered Joco:
"Art thou the one who gavest life to our daughter ---; our Waupango?"
"We are those who gave her back to life."
"Then thou shalt be cared for. Take them to the kraal of the chief," he said, turning to the savage nearest him.
I did not like the turn things had taken, but Joco was pleased.
It appeared only a friendly act to him.
I had lived so long alone that I was very suspicious, and saw a lurking danger in this apparent friendliness.
We were surrounded by the savages and taken to a stockade, or kraal, into which we were hurried unceremoniously.
"I don't like this," said Joco, when we were quite alone.
"Neither do I."
"They left us our food and our explosives, that is one good thing."
All day we were kept there in solitude.
No one brought food or water, and we were parched, for we had not brought water along with us."
Night came, and we threw ourselves down on the grass, tired and exhausted.
We had no intention of falling asleep, but nature had to have her way, and we dropped into a quiet slumber.
A gentle hand passed over my face so softly that I was not alarmed, and yet with such force that I awoke. It was Waupango.
She placed her finger on her lips, and I knew she meant for us to be silent.
She crossed to Joco and whispered for some time in his ear.
In as low a voice he translated her speech.
"They will kill you," she said; "but as you saved my life, you will be killed as a chief is killed when he is too old to be a chief, and all the people will honor you. But it isn't nice to be killed any way, and I thought I would save you."
"Why are we to be killed?" I asked, and Joco repeated to her.
"Because you are strangers, and no stranger can live on our island; and another reason, you have seen me, and I am the daughter of a chief. No one can see me and live, unless he is of our nation."
"What shall we do?"
"Get back as fast as you can."
Waupango opened the door of the kraal, and we passed out.
She fastened it securely, and pointed out the way for us to go.
Wishing the kind-hearted girl good-by, we went along the path as quickly as possible.
We had not got far before a war-whoop startled us.
"It is a trap," I said, as I ran.
"Yes; the girl was sent to tell us how we were to die; you see now that she did not mean us to escape. We are to be killed like a chief --- that is, killed as a soldier, with spear and lance."
We ran as we talked.
A shower of arrows fell around us, but we were without a scratch.
What a relief it was when we reached the cave.
But, to our dismay, the fighting, howling savages rushed into the cave, carrying lighted torches.
They gained on us every minute, for they knew the roadbed better than we did.
Joco was unstrapping his explosive, to be ready for use; but the danger was that we might be killed as well as the savages.
We reached the rock which we had noticed as a good place for the explosive, and Joco halted.
"Run for your life," he said.
"Not without you," I answered.
The savages had halted.
We could see their torches in the distance.
Did they intend going back, or was their halt only to plan some vigorous action?
Joco fixed his explosive and lighted the slow- match.
We looked back once, and saw the torches getting nearer.
A thundering noise shook the earth, and hundreds of pieces of rock fell about our heads.
Joco had stopped up the cave.
Were the savages killed, or did they escape?
I never knew; I had lost all curiosity respecting them. How glad we were when we sat round our fire once again, at Castle Content!
I resolved never to leave it until I left the island forever, if such a time ever came.
Joco was, however, still inclined to explore, although much of his ardor had cooled.
For several months we lived a life of blissful content.
We were not bothered by neighbors, nor did we trouble about the affairs of the world. .
I was getting manly, for a thick beard covered my chin and a heavy mustache my upper lip.
I could not shave, and so, perforce, the hair had to grow.
We had just finished our harvesting and ground our corn.
Together, Joco and I had constructed a windmill, which did the grinding better than we could.
We had corn bread at every meal, and were so civilized that we could scarcely imagine we were far away from the world.
We had made cups and saucers, basins and plates, and had become so practical that they were well shaped. Our earthenware, pots, and kettles were our greatest trouble, for they were constantly getting cracked with the heat, but as clay was to be found in abundance, all we had to do was to make more.
Joco's knowledge of chemistry enabled us to put a white enamel gloss on our earthenware, and this improved its appearance.
We had delicious coffee and plenty of good milk, bacon, mutton, wild birds, and fish, with plenty of potatoes and corn bread, which gave us considerable variety.
Then we had soup whenever we felt like it, fruits in abundance for dessert, and a copious supply of arrack, which, however, was so strong that we could only drink a very small quantity.
It seemed strange that whenever we felt most settled something would come to disturb Joco's serenity.
Perhaps he had never given up the idea of exploring the river, but I thought he had.
One dark, cloudy day he startled me by saying that it was too miserable to do any work outside, so he would go and look at the river.
I tried to dissuade him, but it was no use. He was set as firm as a rock when once he made up his mind.
He had not been gone three hours when the clouds became blacker and the wind blew a hurricane.
I fancied he was safer than I was, and almost wished I had gone with him.
Soon a low rumbling noise startled me.
I tried to believe it was thunder, but I knew differently. It was an earthquake.
The waves rose mountain-high, the wind blew an enor mous gale, the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed with terrible vividness, but that was not the worst.
The mountains seemed to groan. The valleys trembled. All the island was convulsed.
At last came one gigantic roar.
Trees fell prostrate, rocks were split asunder, a river bed was opened right past my stockade, and then all was still.
The shock of the earthquake seemed the last convulsive gasp of nature's agony.
All was silent --- the wind ceased to blow, the sea looked like a great, fresh-water lake, the birds began singing as though to rejoice over nature's silence.
I wondered where Joco had been at the time of the earthquake, and I trembled for his safety.
All day, all night, the next day and the next night I watched and waited; then I could endure it no longer.
I started, for the entrance to the mysterious river.
I reached the place where the shaft had been.
Alas! it was there no longer.
Huge rocks filled up the shaft, and if Joco had descended he had met his death in the waters of the mysterious river.
Faithful friend and loving companion, though thy skin was dark, thy heart was as white as an angel's.
Years, many years have passed since that earthquake shock, but I have never seen Joco since.
I was left alone!
My solitude was worse than ever it had been, for even Hercules and Cupid had fallen victims to that terrible storm.
I shudder when I think of that day.
Again and again have I pictured to myself the dazzling brilliance of the lightning, the awful roar of the thunder, and the rolling and throbbing of the earthquake shock.
Sometimes I fancy I can see the interesting face of Joco looking at me from the waters of that mysterious river.
And when I fancy it, I shriek with agony, for I loved Jocolowski as though he had been my brother.\
* * * * * * *
I had been on Liberty Island, as nearly as I could reckon, close on thirty years. It may have been more, or it may have been less, for I had lost much of my zeal for accurate reckoning of time.
Joco had been dead, or, at least, missing, over twenty years, and from that day on I never spoke to human being, save once.
I followed the cave I had originally traversed, and was seated on a ledge of rock, when I was startled by feeling a pair of arms round my neck.
I was still more surprised when a kiss --- the first I had received since I left my mother in Water Street, New York --- was pressed on my lips.
I turned and saw Waupango.
She had found a way to the rock, and daily came, hoping to see Joco, for he it was she expected to find.
I had learned a little of her language from Joco, and I told her of his death.
It was some time before she really understood what I meant.
I was sorry I had told her, for no sooner did she really comprehend that she would never see him again, than she set up such a wailing cry that nearly broke my heart.
In the wild eloquence of her race she told me that she had fled from the man the tribe had ordered her to marry, because she loved Joco; but as he was dead, she would die, too.
Before I could prevent her, she had thrown herself into the sea, and a moment later a man eating shark had ended her life.
That was the last human being I spoke to while I remained on Liberty Island.
One day I saw a school of whales nearer to the island than usual.
I watched them disport themselves in the water, and wished I were the owner of a whaler just in their vicinity.
I watched them for hours.
As I looked, I fancied I saw one of the whales come nearer the island.
I was excited with the antics of the great monsters.
As I kept my eyes fixed on them I saw a boat.
I shouted for joy. I screamed with hysterical laughter.
I hadn't seen one for thirty years.
There must be a whaling-ship near.
Yes, I could see the sail!
At all risks, I must signal. A sudden hope took possession of my soul.
I gathered together brush and trees, grass, anything which would blaze.
On it I poured gallons of the mineral oil, and when I fired it, a column of flame seemed to pierce the clouds.
The whale had been harpooned, and was making for the island, dragging the boat along with it.
I thought of the way I had been landed on the island, and I wept --- wept tears of joy to think I might be saved through a whale's struggle, against death.
I knew no more until I heard voices above me. I had fainted.
I looked up and saw some white men.
They were rough seamen, but they looked like angels to me then.
I took them to Castle Content. I gave them arrack, and they laughed and talked about the long cruise.
The next day the skipper came ashore, and I told him my story, and asked him to let me go with him.
He searched the island, and got to believe my story of loneliness.
I bought my passage, for I gave him pots, and pans, and earthenware as a memento, and a whole lot of jaguar skins.
But that night I bade farewell to Liberty Island. I
I looked in a bit of looking-glass in the skipper's room, and saw the reflection of a wrinkled face, with heavy, shaggy eyebrows and long beard.
I could not help quoting a sentence from the Bible: "'Tis not good for man to live alone;" for I saw how loneliness had made me close akin to the beasts of the field."
The ship, the Gray Lion, did not reach New Bedford, for she was wrecked, and for months the crew and, myself dwelt among the Fijians.
We narrowly escaped death at their hands.
Two years after I left Liberty Island I was again on the high seas, and, what was better, was entering the harbor of New' York, having been rescued by a merchantman bound for that city.
I landed in my native town, but, alas! I was a stranger in a strange place.
How it had changed!
The old office in Water Street had gone, and my father and mother were resting in the family grave.
I found baby Jane, the only surviving member of my family, but she would not own me. I was dead to her, as I had been to my father.
I have lived since a wandering life.
I inherited a small income from my dear, patient mother, and have added to it by doing odd jobs, but my life was happier when on Liberty Island.
I have suffered, and am still suffering, and I know that I have brought it all on myself, so I should have honored my father and mother in my youth, instead of running away and taking my chance on the battlefield of life.
I broke my mother's heart, and have led a life of no use to myself or others.
Let my career be a warning, for though it may be interesting to read of, it is far from pleasant to be a modern Robinson Crusoe.
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