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I begged her to prepare breakfast immediately, which she warned me would be scanty, as no soup was provided. Whilst my wife made the fire, and put on the pot, I called the children, and asking Jack for the lobster, he brought it from a crevice in the rock, where he had hidden it from the dogs, he said, who did not despise anything eatable. But I told them we could not all go.

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They must remain with their mother, with Flora for a protector. Fritz and I would take Turk; with him and a loaded gun I thought we should inspire respect. I then ordered Fritz to tie up Flora, and get the guns ready. Fritz blushed, and tried in vain to straighten his crooked gun. I let him go on for some time, and then allowed him to take another; for I saw he was penitent. The dogs, too, snarled, and would not let him approach them.

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He wept, and begged some biscuit from his mother, declaring he would give up his own breakfast to make his peace with the dogs. He fed them, caressed them, and seemed to ask pardon. The dog is always grateful; Flora soon licked his hands; Turk was more unrelenting, appearing to distrust him. Think of an almond as big as my head, with a large cup full of rich milk. We began our preparation; we each took a game-bag and a hatchet.

I gave Fritz a pair of pistols in addition to his gun, equipped myself in the same way, and took care to carry biscuit and a flask of fresh water. The lobster proved so hard at breakfast, that the boys did not object to our carrying off the remainder; and, though the flesh is coarse, it is very nutritious.

I proposed before we departed, to have prayers, and my thoughtless Jack began to imitate the sound of church-bells--"Ding, dong! Then, kneeling down, I prayed God's blessing on our undertaking, and his pardon for us all, especially for him who had now so grievously sinned. Poor Jack came and kneeled by me, weeping and begging for forgiveness from me and from God.

I embraced him, and enjoined him and his brothers to obey their mother. I then loaded the guns I left with them, and charged my wife to keep near the boat, their best refuge. We took leave of our friends with many tears, as we did not know what dangers might assail us in an unknown region. But the murmur of the river, which we were now approaching, drowned the sound of their sobs, and we bent our thoughts on our journey. The bank of the river was so steep, that we could only reach the bed at one little opening, [pg ] near the sea, where we had procured our water; but here the opposite side was guarded by a ridge of lofty perpendicular rocks.

We were obliged to ascend the river to a place where it fell over some rocks, some fragments of which having fallen, made a sort of stepping-stones, which enabled us to cross with some hazard. We made our way, with difficulty, through the high grass, withered by the sun, directing our course towards the sea, in hopes of discovering some traces of the boats, or the crew. We had scarcely gone a hundred yards, when we heard a loud noise and rustling in the grass, which was as tall as we were. We imagined we were pursued by some wild beast, and I was gratified to observe the courage of Fritz, who, instead of running away, calmly turned round and presented his piece.

What was our joy when we discovered that the formidable enemy was only our faithful Turk, whom we had forgotten in our distress, and our friends had doubtless dispatched him after us! I applauded my son's presence of mind; a rash act might have deprived us of this valuable friend. We continued our way: the sea lay to our left; on our right, at a short distance, ran the chain of rocks, which were continued from our landing-place, in a line parallel to the sea; the summits clothed with verdure and various trees.

Between the rocks and the sea, several little woods extended, even to the shore, to which we kept as close as possible, vainly looking out on land or sea for any trace of our crew.

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Fritz proposed to fire his gun, as a signal to them, if they should be near us; but I reminded him that this signal might bring the ravages round us, instead of our friends. He then inquired why we should search after those persons at all, who so unfeelingly abandoned us on the wreck. Besides, they may assist us, or be in need of our assistance. Above all, remember, they could save nothing but themselves.

We have got many useful things which they have as much right to as we. We proceeded, and entering a little wood that extended to the sea, we rested in the shade, near a clear stream, and took some refreshment. We were surrounded by unknown birds, more remarkable for brilliant plumage than for the charm of their voice. Fritz thought he saw some monkeys among the leaves, and Turk began to be restless, smelling about, and barking very loud. Fritz was gazing up into the trees, when he fell over a large round substance, which he brought to me, observing that it might be a bird's nest.

I thought it more likely to be a cocoa-nut. The fibrous covering had reminded him of the description he had read of the nests of certain birds; but, on breaking the shell, we found it was indeed a cocoa-nut, but quite decayed and uneatable. I told him the milk was only in the half-ripe nuts; that it thickened and hardened as the [pg ] nut ripened, becoming a kernel.

This nut had perished from remaining above ground. If it had been in the earth, it would have vegetated, and burst the shell.

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I advised my son to try if he could not find a perfect nut. After some search, we found one, and sat down to eat it, keeping our own provision for dinner. The nut was somewhat rancid; but we enjoyed it, and then continued our journey. We were some time before we got through the wood, being frequently obliged to clear a road for ourselves, through the entangled brushwood, with our hatchets. At last we entered the open plain again, and had a clear view before us.

The forest still extended about a stone's throw to our right, and Fritz, who was always on the look-out for discoveries, observed a remarkable tree, here and there, which he approached to examine; and he soon called me to see this wonderful tree, with wens growing on the trunk. On coming up, I was overjoyed to find this tree, of which there were a great number, was the gourd-tree, which bears fruit on the trunk. Fritz asked if these were sponges.

I told him to bring me one, and I would explain the mystery. We call it the gourd-tree. Fritz leaped for joy. He immediately replied, that the smaller branches [pg ] would not bear the weight of the fruit. He asked me if this fruit was eatable. Its great value to savage nations consists in the shell, which they use to contain their food, and drink, and even cook in it. I told him the shell was not placed on the fire; but, being filled with cold water, and the fish or meat placed in it, red-hot stones are, by degrees, introduced into the water, till it attains sufficient heat to cook the food, without injuring the vessel.

We then set about making our dishes and plates. I showed Fritz a better plan of dividing the gourd than with a knife. I tied a string tightly round the nut, struck it with the handle of my knife till an incision was made, then tightened it till the nut was separated into two equally-sized bowls. Fritz had spoiled his gourd by cutting it irregularly with his knife. I advised him to try and make spoons of it, as it would not do for basins now. I told him I had learnt my plan from books of travels. It is the practice of the savages, who have no knives, to use a sort of string, made from the bark of trees, for this purpose.

They then open the top, and extract the contents by putting in pebbles and shaking it. By this means they have a complete bottle. We worked on. Fritz completed a dish and some plates, to his great satisfaction, but we considered, [pg ] that being so frail, we could not carry them with us.

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We therefore filled them with sand, that the sun might not warp them, and left them to dry, till we returned. As we went on, Fritz amused himself with cutting spoons from the rind of the gourd, and I tried to do the same with the fragments of the cocoa-nut; but I must confess my performances were inferior to those I had seen in the museum in London, the work of the South Sea islanders. We laughed at our spoons, which would have required mouths from ear to ear to eat with them. Fritz declared that the curve of the rind was the cause of that defect: if the spoons had been smaller, they would have been flat; and you might as well eat soup with an oyster-shell as with a shovel. While we talked, we did not neglect looking about for our lost companions, but in vain. At last, we arrived at a place where a tongue of land ran to some distance into the sea, on which was an elevated spot, favourable for observation. We attained the summit with great labour, and saw before us a magnificent prospect of land and water; but with all the aid our excellent telescope gave us, we could in no direction discover any trace of man.

Nature only appeared in her greatest beauty. The shore enclosed a large bay, which terminated on the other side in a promontory. The gentle rippling of the waves, the varied verdure of the woods, and the multitude of novelties around us, would have filled us with delight, but for the painful recollection of those who, we now were compelled to believe, were buried beneath that glittering water.

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We did not feel less, however, the mercy of God, who had preserved us, and [pg ] given us a home, with a prospect of subsistence and safety. We had not yet met with any dangerous animals, nor could we perceive any huts of savages. I remarked to my son that God seemed to have destined us to a solitary life in this rich country, unless some vessel should reach these shores.

Now let us retire to that pretty wood to rest ourselves, and eat our dinner, before we return. We proceeded towards a pleasant wood of palm-trees; but before reaching it, had to pass through an immense number of reeds, which greatly obstructed our road. We were, moreover, fearful of treading on the deadly serpents who choose such retreats.