At break of day we were awake and ready, and after morning
prayer, I addressed my children thus: "We are now, my dear boys,
with the help of God, about to attempt our deliverance. Before we
go, provide our poor animals with food for some days: we cannot
take them with us, but if our voyage succeed, we may return for
them. Are you ready? Collect what you wish to carry away, but only
things absolutely necessary for our actual wants." I planned that
our first cargo should consist of a barrel of powder, three
fowling-pieces, three muskets, two pair of pocket pistols, and one
pair larger, ball, shot, and lead as much as we could carry, with a
bullet-mould; and I wished each of my sons, as well as their
mother, should have a complete game-bag, of which there were
several in the officers' cabins. We then set apart a box of
portable soup, another of biscuit, an iron pot, a fishing-rod, a
chest of nails, and one of carpenter's tools, also some sailcloth
to make a tent. In fact my boys collected so many things, we were
compelled to leave some behind, though I exchanged all the useless
ballast for necessaries.
When all was ready, we implored the blessing of God on our
undertaking, and prepared to embark in our tubs. At this moment the
cocks crowed a sort of reproachful farewell to us; we had forgotten
them; I immediately proposed to take our poultry with us, geese,
ducks, fowls and pigeons, for, as I observed to my wife, if we
could not feed them, they would, at any rate, feed us. We placed
our ten hens and two cocks in a covered tub; the rest we set at
liberty, hoping the geese and ducks might reach the shore by water,
and the pigeons by flight.
We waited a little for my wife, who came loaded with a large
bag, which she threw into the tub that contained her youngest son.
I concluded it was intended to steady him, or for a seat, and made
no observation on it. Here follows the order of our embarkation. In
the first division, sat the tender mother, the faithful and pious
wife. In the second, our amiable little Francis, six years old, and
of a sweet disposition.
In the third, Fritz, our eldest, fourteen or fifteen years old,
a curly-headed, clever, intelligent and lively youth.
In the fourth, the powder-cask, with the fowls and the
Our provisions filled the fifth.
In the sixth, our heedless Jack, ten years old, enterprising,
bold, and useful.
In the seventh, Ernest, twelve years of age, well-informed and
rational, but somewhat selfish and indolent. In the eighth, myself,
an anxious father, charged with the important duty of guiding the
vessel to save my dear family. Each of us had some useful tools
beside us; each held an oar, and had a swimming apparatus at hand,
in case we were unfortunately upset. The tide was rising when we
left, which I considered might assist my weak endeavours. We turned
our out-riggers length-ways, and thus passed from the cleft of the
ship into the open sea. We rowed with all our might, to reach the
blue land we saw at a distance, but for some time in vain, as the
boat kept turning round, and made no progress. At last I contrived
to steer it, so that we went straight forward.
As soon as our dogs saw us depart, they leaped into the sea, and
followed us; I could not let them get into the boat, for fear they
should upset it. I was very sorry, for I hardly expected they would
be able to swim to land; but by occasionally resting their forepaws
on our out-riggers, they managed to keep up with us. Turk was an
English dog, and Flora of a Danish breed.
We proceeded slowly, but safely. The nearer we approached the
land, the more dreary and unpromising it appeared. The rocky coast
seemed to announce to us nothing but famine and misery. The waves,
gently rippling against the shore, were scattered over with
barrels, bales, and chests from the wreck. Hoping to secure some
good provisions, I called on Fritz for assistance; he held a cord,
hammer, and nails, and we managed to seize two hogsheads in
passing, and fastening them with cords to our vessel, drew them
after us to the shore.
As we approached, the coast seemed to improve. The chain of rock
was not entire, and Fritz's hawk eye made out some trees, which he
declared were the cocoa-nut tree; Ernest was delighted at the
prospect of eating these nuts, so much larger and better than any
grown in Europe. I was regretting not having brought the large
telescope from the captain's cabin, when Jack produced from his
pocket a smaller one, which he offered me with no little pride.
This was a valuable acquisition, as I was now enabled to make
the requisite observations, and direct my course. The coast before
us had a wild and desert appearance,—it looked better towards the
left; but I could not approach that part, for a current which drove
us towards the rocky and barren shore. At length we saw, near the
mouth of a rivulet, a little creek between the rocks, towards which
our geese and ducks made, serving us for guides. This opening
formed a little bay of smooth water, just deep enough for our boat.
I cautiously entered it, and landed at a place where the coast was
about the height of our tubs, and the water deep enough to let us
approach. The shore spread inland, forming a gentle declivity of a
triangular form, the point lost among the rocks, and the base to
All that were able leaped on shore in a moment. Even little
Francis, who had been laid down in his tub, like a salted herring,
tried to crawl out, but was compelled to wait for his mother's
assistance. The dogs, who had preceded us in landing, welcomed us
in a truly friendly manner, leaping playfully around us; the geese
kept up a loud cackling, to which the yellow-billed ducks quacked a
powerful bass. This, with the clacking of the liberated fowls, and
the chattering of the boys, formed a perfect Babel; mingled with
these, were the harsh cries of the penguins and flamingoes, which
hovered over our heads, or sat on the points of the rocks. They
were in immense numbers, and their notes almost deafened us,
especially as they did not accord with the harmony of our civilized
fowls. However I rejoiced to see these feathered creatures, already
fancying them on my table, if we were obliged to remain in this
Our first care, when we stepped in safety on land, was to kneel
down and thank God, to whom we owed our lives; and to resign
ourselves wholly to his Fatherly kindness.
We then began to unload our vessel. How rich we thought
ourselves with the little we had saved! We sought a convenient
place for our tent, under the shade of the rocks. We then inserted
a pole into a fissure in the rock; this, resting firmly on another
pole fixed in the ground, formed the frame of the tent. The
sailcloth was then stretched over it, and fastened down at proper
distances, by pegs, to which, for greater security, we added some
boxes of provision; we fixed some hooks to the canvas at the
opening in front, that we might close the entrance during the
night. I sent my sons to seek some moss and withered grass, and
spread it in the sun to dry, to form our beds; and while all, even
little Francis, were busy with this, I constructed a sort of
cooking-place, at some distance from the tent, near the river which
was to supply us with fresh water. It was merely a hearth of flat
stones from the bed of the stream, fenced round with some thick
branches. I kindled a cheerful fire with some dry twigs, put on the
pot, filled with water and some squares of portable soup, and left
my wife, with Francis for assistant, to prepare dinner. He took the
portable soup for glue, and could not conceive how mamma could make
soup, as we had no meat, and there were no butchers' shops
Fritz, in the mean time, had loaded our guns. He took one to the
side of the river; Ernest declined accompanying him, as the rugged
road was not to his taste; he preferred the sea-shore. Jack
proceeded to a ridge of rocks on the left, which ran towards the
sea, to get some muscles. I went to try and draw the two floating
hogsheads on shore, but could not succeed, for our landing-place
was too steep to get them up. Whilst I was vainly trying to find a
more favourable place, I heard my dear Jack uttering most alarming
cries. I seized my hatchet, and ran to his assistance. I found him
up to the knees in a shallow pool, with a large lobster holding his
leg in its sharp claws. It made off at my approach; but I was
determined it should pay for the fright it had given me. Cautiously
taking it up, I brought it out, followed by Jack, who, now very
triumphant, wished to present it himself to his mother, after
watching how I held it. But he had hardly got it into his hands,
when it gave him such a violent blow on the cheek with its tail,
that he let it fall, and began to cry again. I could not help
laughing at him, and, in his rage, he seized a stone, and put an
end to his adversary. I was grieved at this, and recommended him
never to act in a moment of anger, showing him that he was unjust
in being so revengeful; for, if he had been bitten by the lobster,
it was plain he would have eaten his foe if he had conquered him.
Jack promised to be more discreet and merciful in future, and
obtained leave to bear the prize to his mother.
"Mamma," said he, proudly, "a lobster! A lobster, Ernest! Where
is Fritz! Take care it does not bite you, Francis!" They all
crowded round in astonishment. "Yes," added he, triumphantly, "here
is the impertinent claw that seized me; but I repaid the
"You are a boaster," said I. "You would have got indifferently
on with the lobster, if I had not come up; and have you forgotten
the slap on the cheek which compelled you to release him? Besides,
he only defended himself with his natural arms; but you had to take
a great stone. You have no reason to be proud, Jack."
Ernest wished to have the lobster added to the soup to improve
it; but his mother, with a spirit of economy, reserved it for
another day. I then walked to the spot where Jack's lobster was
caught, and, finding it favourable for my purpose, drew my two
hogsheads on shore there, and secured them by turning them on
On returning, I congratulated Jack on being the first who had
been successful in foraging. Ernest remarked, that he had seen some
oysters attached to a rock, but could not get at them without
wetting his feet, which he did not like.
"Indeed, my delicate gentleman!" said I, laughing, "I must
trouble you to return and procure us some. We must all unite in
working for the public good, regardless of wet feet. The sun will
soon dry us."
"I might as well bring some salt at the same time," said he; "I
saw plenty in the fissures of the rock, left by the sea, I should
"Doubtless, Mr. Reasoner," replied I; "where else could it have
come from? the fact was so obvious, that you had better have
brought a bagful, than delayed to reflect about it. But if you wish
to escape insipid soup, be quick and procure some."
He went, and returned with some salt, so mixed with sand and
earth, that I should have thrown it away as useless; but my wife
dissolved it in fresh water, and, filtering it through a piece of
canvas, managed to flavour our soup with it.
Jack asked why we could not have used sea-water; and I explained
to him that the bitter and nauseous taste of sea-water would have
spoiled our dinner. My wife stirred the soup with a little stick,
and, tasting it, pronounced it very good, but added, "We must wait
for Fritz. And how shall we eat our soup without plates or spoons?
We cannot possibly raise this large boiling pot to our heads, and
drink out of it."
It was too true. We gazed stupified at our pot, and, at last,
all burst into laughter at our destitution, and our folly in
forgetting such useful necessaries.
"If we only had cocoa-nuts," said Ernest, "we might split them,
and make basins and spoons."
"If!" replied I—"but we have none! We might as well
wish for a dozen handsome silver spoons at once, if wishes were of
"But," observed he, "we can use oyster-shells."
"A useful thought, Ernest; go directly and get the oysters; and,
remember, gentlemen, no complaints, though the spoons are without
handles, and you should dip your fingers into the bowl."
Off ran Jack, and was mid-leg in the water before Ernest got to
him. He tore down the oysters, and threw them to his idle brother,
who filled his handkerchief, taking care to put a large one into
his pocket for his own use; and they returned with their spoil.
Fritz had not yet appeared, and his mother was becoming uneasy,
when we heard him cheerfully hailing us at a distance. He soon came
up, with a feigned air of disappointment, and his hands behind him;
but Jack, who had glided round him, cried out, "A sucking pig! a
sucking pig!" And he then, with, great pride and satisfaction,
produced his booty, which I recognized, from the description of
travellers, to be the agouti, common in these regions, a
swift animal, which burrows in the earth, and lives on fruits and
nuts; its flesh, something like that of the rabbit, has an
unpleasant flavour to Europeans.
All were anxious to know the particulars of the chase; but I
seriously reproved my son for his little fiction, and warned him
never to use the least deceit, even in jest. I then inquired where
he had met with the agouti. He told me he had been on the other
side of the river, "a very different place to this," continued he.
"The shore lies low, and you can have no idea of the number of
casks, chests, planks, and all sorts of things the sea has thrown
up; shall we go and take possession of them? And to-morrow, father,
we ought to make another trip to the vessel, to look after our
cattle. We might, at least, bring away the cow. Our biscuit would
not be so hard dipped in milk."
"And very much nicer," added the greedy Ernest.
"Then," continued Fritz, "beyond the river there is rich grass
for pasturage, and a shady wood. Why should we remain in this
"Softly!" replied I, "there is a time for all things. To-morrow,
and the day after to-morrow will have their work. But first tell
me, did you see anything of our shipmates?"
"Not a trace of man, living or dead, on land or sea; but I saw
an animal more like a hog than this, but with feet like a hare; it
leaped among the grass, sometimes sitting upright, and rubbing its
mouth with its forepaws; sometimes seeking for roots, and gnawing
them like a squirrel. If I had not been afraid it would escape me,
I would have tried to take it alive, it seemed so very tame."
As we were talking, Jack had been trying, with many grimaces, to
force an oyster open with his knife. I laughed at his vain
endeavours, and putting some on the fire, showed him them open of
themselves. I had no taste for oysters myself; but as they are
everywhere accounted a delicacy, I advised my sons to try them.
They all at first declined the unattractive repast, except Jack,
who, with great courage, closed his eyes, and desperately swallowed
one as if it had been medicine. The rest followed his example, and
then all agreed with me that oysters were not good. The shells were
soon plunged into the pot to bring out some of the good soup; but
scalding their fingers, it was who could cry out the loudest.
Ernest took his large shell from his pocket, cautiously filled it
with a good portion of soup, and set it down to cool, exulting in
his own prudence. "You have been very thoughtful, my dear Ernest,"
said I; "but why are your thoughts always for yourself; so seldom
for others? As a punishment for your egotism, that portion must be
given to our faithful dogs. We can all dip our shells into the pot,
the dogs cannot. Therefore, they shall have your soup, and you must
wait, and eat as we do." My reproach struck his heart, and he
placed his shell obediently on the ground, which the dogs emptied
immediately. We were almost as hungry as they were, and were
watching anxiously till the soup began to cool; when we perceived
that the dogs were tearing and gnawing Fritz's agouti. The boys all
cried out; Fritz was in a fury, took his gun, struck the dogs,
called them names, threw stones at them, and would have killed them
if I had not held him. He had actually bent his gun with striking
them. As soon as he would listen to me, I reproached him seriously
for his violence, and represented to him how much he had distressed
us, and terrified his mother; that he had spoiled his gun, which
might have been so useful to us, and had almost killed the poor
animals, who might be more so. "Anger," said I, "leads to every
crime. Remember Cain, who killed his brother in a fit of passion."
"Oh, father!" said he, in a voice of terror; and, acknowledging his
error, he asked pardon, and shed bitter tears.
Soon after our repast the sun set, and the fowls gathered round
us, and picked up the scattered crumbs of biscuit. My wife then
took out her mysterious bag, and drew from it some handfuls of
grain to feed her flock. She showed me also many other seeds of
useful vegetables. I praised her prudence, and begged her to be
very economical, as these seeds were of great value, and we could
bring from the vessel some spoiled biscuit for the fowls.
Our pigeons now flew among the rocks, the cocks and hens perched
on the frame of the tent, and the geese and ducks chose to roost in
a marsh, covered with bushes, near the sea. We prepared for our
rest; we loaded all our arms, then offered up our prayers together,
thanking God for his signal mercy to us, and commending ourselves
to his care. When the last ray of light departed, we closed our
tent, and lay down on our beds, close together. The children had
remarked how suddenly the darkness came on, from which I concluded
we were not far from the equator; for I explained to them, the more
perpendicularly the rays of the sun fall, the less their
refraction; and consequently night comes on suddenly when the sun
is below the horizon.
Once more I looked out to see if all was quiet, then carefully
closing the entrance, I lay down. Warm as the day had been, the
night was so cold that we were obliged to crowd together for
warmth. The children soon slept, and when I saw their mother in her
first peaceful sleep, my own eyes closed, and our first night on
the island passed comfortably.