The Landing On The Island



For many days we had been tempest-tossed. Six times had the darkness

closed over a wild and terrific scene, and returning light as often

brought but renewed distress, for the raging storm increased in fury

until on the seventh day all hope was lost. We were driven completely

out of our course; no conjecture could be formed as to our

whereabouts. The crew had lost heart, and were utterly exhausted by

incessant labor....



My heart sank as I looked round upon my family in the midst of these

horrors. Our four young sons were overpowered by terror. "Dear

children," said I, "if the Lord will, he can save us even from this

fearful peril; if not, let us calmly yield our lives into his hand,

and think of the joy and blessedness of finding ourselves forever and

ever united in that happy home above."



At these words my weeping wife looked bravely up, and, as the boys

clustered round her, she began to cheer and encourage them with calm

and loving words. I rejoiced to see her fortitude, though my heart was

ready to break as I gazed on my dear ones....



Amid the roar of the thundering waves I suddenly heard the cry of

"Land, land!" while at the same instant the ship struck with a

frightful shock, which threw everyone to the deck, and seemed to

threaten her immediate destruction.



Dreadful sounds betokened the breaking up of the ship, and the roaring

waters poured in on all sides.



Then the voice of the captain was heard above the tumult, shouting,

"Lower away the boats! We are lost!"...



Throughout the night my wife and I maintained our prayerful watch,

dreading at every fresh sound some fatal change in the position of the

wreck.



At length the faint dawn of day appeared, the long, weary night was

over, and with thankful hearts we perceived that the gale had begun to

moderate; blue sky was seen above us, and the lovely hues of sunrise

adorned the eastern horizon.



I aroused the boys, and we assembled on the remaining portion of the

deck, when they, to their surprise, discovered that no one else was on

board.



"Hallo, papa! what has become of everybody? Are the sailors gone? Have

they taken away the boats? Oh, papa! why did they leave us behind?

What can we do by ourselves?"



"My good children," I replied, "we must not despair, although we seem

deserted. See how those on whose skill and good faith we depended have

left us cruelly to our fate in the hour of danger. God will never do

so. He has not forsaken us, and we will trust him still. Only let us

bestir ourselves, and each cheerily do his best. Let each try to

procure what will be of most use to us."...



Fritz brought out a couple of guns, shot belt, powder flasks, and

plenty of bullets.



Ernest produced a cap full of nails, an axe and a hammer, while

pinchers, chisels, and augers stuck out of all his pockets.



Little Franz carried a box, and eagerly began to show us the "nice

sharp little hooks" it contained. "Well done, Franz," cried I; "these

fish-hooks, which you, the youngest, have found, may contribute more

than anything else in the ship to save our lives by procuring food for

us. Fritz and Ernest, you have chosen well."



"Will you praise me, too?" said my dear wife. "I have nothing to show,

but I can give you good news. Some useful animals are still alive; a

cow, a donkey, two goats, six sheep, a ram and a fine sow. I was but

just in time to save their lives by taking food to them."



"All these things are excellent indeed," said I; "but my friend Jack

here has presented me with a couple of huge, hungry, useless dogs, who

will eat more than any of us."



"Oh, papa, they will be of use! Why, they will help us to hunt when we

get on shore!"



"No doubt they will, if ever we do get on shore, Jack; but I must say

I don't know how it is to be done."



"Can't we each get into a big tub, and float there?" returned he. "I

have often sailed splendidly like that, round the pond at home."



"My child, you have hit on a capital idea," cried I. "Now, Ernest, let

me have your tools, hammers, nails, saws, augers, and all; and then

make haste to collect any tubs you can find!"



We very soon found four large casks, made of sound wood, and strongly

bound with iron hoops; they were floating with many other things in

the water in the hold, but we managed to fish them out, and drag them

to a suitable place for launching them. They were exactly what I

wanted, and I succeeded in sawing them across the middle. Hard work it

was, and we were glad enough to stop and refresh ourselves with wine

and biscuits.



My eight tubs now stood ranged in a row near the water's edge, and I

looked at them with great satisfaction; to my surprise, my wife did

not seem to share my pleasure!



"I shall never," said she, "muster courage to get into one of those!"



"Do not be too sure of that, dear wife; when you see my contrivance

completed, you will perhaps prefer it to this immovable wreck."...



All being ready, we cast off, and moved away from the wreck. My good,

brave wife sat in the first compartment of the boat; next her was

Franz, a pretty little boy, nearly eight years old. Then came Fritz, a

handsome, spirited young fellow of fifteen; the two centre tubs

contained the valuable cargo; then came our bold, thoughtless Jack;

next him Ernest, my second son, intelligent, well-formed, and rather

indolent. I myself, the anxious, loving father, stood in the stern,

endeavoring to guide the raft with its precious burden to a safe

landing-place.



The elder boys took the oars; every one wore a float belt, and had

something useful close to him in case of being thrown into the water.



The tide was flowing, which was a great help to the young oarsmen. We

emerged from the wreck and glided into the open sea. All eyes were

strained to get a full view of the land, and the boys pulled with a

will; but for some time we made no progress, as the boat kept turning

round and round, until I hit upon the right way to steer it, after

which we merrily made for the shore.



We had left two large dogs, Turk and Juno, on the wreck, as being both

large mastiffs we did not care to have their additional weight on

board our craft; but when they saw us apparently deserting them, they

set up a piteous howl, and sprang into the sea. I was sorry to see

this, for the distance to the land was so great that I scarcely

expected them to be able to accomplish it. They followed us, however,

and, occasionally resting their fore-paws on the outriggers, kept up

with us well. Jack was inclined to deny them this, their only chance

of safety. "Stop," said I, "that would be unkind as well as foolish;

remember, the merciful man regardeth the life of his beast."



Our passage, though tedious, was safe; but the nearer we approached

the shore the less inviting it appeared; the barren rocks seemed to

threaten us with misery and want.



Many casks, boxes, and bales of goods floated on the water around us.

Fritz and I managed to secure a couple of hogsheads, so as to tow them

alongside. With the prospect of famine before us, it was desirable to

lay hold of anything likely to contain provisions.



By and by we began to perceive that, between and beyond the cliffs,

green grass and trees were discernible. Fritz could distinguish many

tall palms, and Ernest hoped they would prove to be cocoanut trees,

and enjoyed the thought of drinking the refreshing milk.



"I am very sorry I never thought of bringing away the captain's

telescope," said I.



"Oh, look here, father!" cried Jack, drawing a little spyglass

joyfully out of his pocket.



By means of this glass, I made out that at some distance to the left

the coast was much more inviting; a strong current however, carried us

directly toward the frowning rocks, but I presently observed an

opening, where a stream flowed into the sea, and saw that our geese

and ducks were swimming towards this place. I steered after them into

the creek, and we found ourselves in a small bay or inlet where the

water was perfectly smooth and of moderate depth. The ground sloped

gently upward from the low banks of the cliffs, which here retired

inland, leaving a small plain, on which it was easy for us to land.

Everyone sprang gladly out of the boat but little Franz, who, lying

packed in his tub like a potted shrimp, had to be lifted out by his

mother....



Fritz meanwhile, leaving a loaded gun with me, took another himself,

and went along the rough coast to see what lay beyond the stream; this

fatiguing sort of walk not suiting Ernest's fancy, he sauntered down

to the beach, and Jack scrambled among the rocks, searching for

shellfish.



I was anxious to land the two casks which were floating alongside our

boat, but on attempting to do so I found that I could not get them up

the bank on which we had landed, and was therefore obliged to look for

a more convenient spot. As I did so, I was startled by hearing Jack

shouting for help, as though in great danger. He was at some distance,

and I hurried toward him with a hatchet in my hand. The little fellow

stood screaming in a deep pool, and as I approached, I saw that a huge

lobster had caught his leg in its powerful claw. Poor Jack was in a

terrible fright; kick as he would, his enemy still clung on. I waded

into the water, and seizing the lobster firmly by the back, managed to

make it loosen its hold, and we brought it safe to land. Jack, having

speedily recovered his spirits, and anxious to take such a prize to

his mother, caught the lobster in both hands, but instantly received

such a severe blow from its tail that he flung it down, and

passionately hit the creature with a large stone. This display of

temper vexed me. "You are acting in a very childish way, my son," said

I; "never strike an enemy in a revengeful spirit." Once more lifting

the lobster, Jack ran triumphantly toward the tent.



"Mother, mother! a lobster, Ernest! look here, Franz! mind, he'll bite

you! Where's Fritz?" All came crowding round Jack and his prize,

wondering at its unusual size, and Ernest wanted his mother to make

lobster soup directly, by adding it to what she was now boiling.



She, however, begged to decline making any such experiment, and said

she preferred cooking one dish at a time. Having remarked that the

scene of Jack's adventure afforded a convenient place for getting my

casks on shore, I returned thither and succeeded in drawing them up on

the beach, where I set them on end, and for the present left them.



On my return, I resumed the subject of Jack's lobster, and told him he

should have the offending claw all to himself, when it was ready to be

eaten, congratulating him on being the first to discover anything

useful.



"As to that," said Ernest, "I found something very good to eat, as

well as Jack, only I could not get at them without wetting my feet."



"Pooh!" cried Jack, "I know what he saw--nothing but some nasty

mussels; I saw them too. Who wants to eat trash like that? Lobster for

me!"



"I believe them to be oysters, not mussels," returned Ernest calmly.



"Be good enough, my philosophical young friend, to fetch a few

specimens of these oysters in time for our next meal," said I; "we

must all exert ourselves, Ernest, for the common good, and pray never

let me hear you object to wetting your feet. See how quickly the sun

has dried Jack and me."



"I can bring some salt at the same time," said Ernest. "I remarked a

good deal lying in the crevices of the rocks; it tasted very pure and

good, and I concluded it was produced by the evaporation of sea-water

in the sun."



"Extremely probable, learned sir," cried I; "but if you had brought a

bagful of this good salt instead of merely speculating so profoundly

on the subject, it would have been more to the purpose. Run and fetch

some directly."



It proved to be salt sure enough, although so impure that it seemed

useless, till my wife dissolved and strained it, when it became fit to

put in the soup.



"Why not use the sea-water itself?" asked Jack.



"Because," said Ernest, "it is not only salt, but bitter too. Just try

it."



"Now," said my wife, tasting the soup with the stick with which she

had been stirring it, "dinner is ready, but where can Fritz be?" she

continued, a little anxiously....



He presently appeared before us, his hands behind his back, and a look

of disappointment upon his countenance.



"Unsuccessful!" said he.



"Really!" I replied; "never mind, my boy, better luck next time."



"Oh, Fritz!" exclaimed his brothers, who had looked behind him, "a

sucking-pig, a little sucking-pig. Where did you get it? How did you

shoot it? Do let us see it!"....



"It was one of several," said Fritz, "which I found on the shore; most

curious animals they are; they hopped rather than walked, and every

now and then would squat down on their legs and rub their snouts with

their fore-paws. Had not I been afraid of losing them all, I would

have tried to catch one alive, they seemed so tame."



Meanwhile Ernest had been carefully examining the animal in question.



"This is no pig," he said; "and except for its bristly skin, does not

look like one. See, its teeth are not like those of a pig, but rather

those of a squirrel. In fact," he continued, looking at Fritz, "your

sucking-pig is an agouti."



"Dear me," said Fritz; "listen to the great professor lecturing! He is

going to prove that a pig is not a pig!"



"You need not be so quick to laugh at your brother," said I, in my

turn; "he is quite right. I, too, know the agouti by descriptions and

pictures, and there is little doubt that this is a specimen. The

little animal is a native of North America, where it makes its nest

under the roots of trees, and lives upon fruit. But, Ernest, the

agouti not only looks something like a pig, but most decidedly grunts

like a porker."



While we were thus talking, Jack had been vainly endeavoring to open

an oyster with his large knife. "Here is a simpler way," said I,

placing an oyster on the fire; it immediately opened. "Now," I

continued, "who will try this delicacy?" All at first hesitated to

partake of them, so unattractive did they appear. Jack, however,

tightly closing his eyes and making a face as though about to take

medicine, gulped one down. We followed his example, one after the

other, each doing so rather to provide himself with a spoon than with

any hope of cultivating a taste for oysters.



Our spoons were now ready, and gathering round the pot we dipped them

in, not, however, without sundry scalded fingers. Ernest then drew

from his pocket the large shell he had procured for his own use, and

scooping up a good quantity of soup he put it down to cool, smiling at

his own foresight.



"Prudence should be exercised for others," I remarked; "your cool soup

will do capitally for the dogs, my boy; take it to them, and then come

and eat like the rest of us...."



By this time the sun was sinking beneath the horizon, and the poultry,

which had been straying to some little distance, gathered round us,

and began to pick up the crumbs of biscuits which had fallen during

our repast. My wife hereupon drew from her mysterious bag some

handfuls of oats, peas, and other grain, and with them began to feed

the poultry. She showed me at the same time several other seeds of

various vegetables. "That was indeed thoughtful," said I; "but pray be

careful of what will be of such value to us; we can bring plenty of

damaged biscuits from the wreck, which, though of no use as food for

us, will suit the fowls very well indeed."



The pigeons now flew up to crevices in the rocks, the fowls perched

themselves on our tent pole, and the ducks waddled off, cackling and

quacking, to the marshy margin of the river. We, too, were ready for

repose, and having loaded our guns, and offered up our prayers to God,

thanking Him for His many mercies to us, we commended ourselves to His

protecting care, and as the last ray of light departed, closed our

tent and lay down to rest.





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