The Swiss Family Robinson, In Words of One Syllable/Chapter 7

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CHAPTER VII.

We did not wake next day till the sun shone in upon us. I told my wife and sons that as it was the Lord's day we would do no work. Our beasts and birds had first to be fed. This was done my my wife, who then brought us some hot milk, and made us sit down on the grass and take it. When our meal was done, I got on a long in front of my sons, and we all sang a psalm we knew by heart. Then I sought to teach them in the best way I could think of, and spoke to them thus:—

"There was once on a time a Great King, who had two vast realms, one known as the Land of Light and Truth, and one as the Land of Night and Sloth. Those who dwelt in the first were full of life and joy. The King held his court at the Place of Rest, where all was bright. The great aim and joy of all who dwell there was to wait on Him, for they were bound by a bond of love.

"This King had a land, not far off, which He made for a time the place where those for whom He had so much love should dwell ere they went one by one to the Place of Rest. This land was the Home of Earth. He told each of them that this was to be their home but for a time, and that all who did His will and kept His laws should go to the Land of Light and Truth. He gave to His Son the right to rule the host that dwelt in the Home of Earth, and set forth to them what they were to do, and all the ills that would come to them if they did not do as they were bid. The Prince told them that ships would be sent from time to time to bring off such as did His will, and take them to the Land of Light.

"At first they were all glad to hear the way in which they were to live, and the terms on which they could reach the Land of Light and Truth. Sad to tell, they soon broke the King's laws, and paid no heed to what they knew to be His will; each, in fact, did as he chose, and thought more of his ease, sloth, or self will, than of the Place of Rest or the Land of Light. Still there were a few who did as they had been taught, and dwelt in peace, in the hope that they would please the King and at last reach the place where He held his court.

"The King was true to his word. From time to time ships came to the Home of Earth, and each bore the name of some dire evil. At last a great ship was sent, the name of which was The Grave, which bore the flag of Death. The flag was of green and black. To the good it was a sign of hope, but the bad were thrown by the sight of it into a state of gloom. These ships were not seen till they came close to the shore, and then the crew were sent forth to find those whom they were told to seize. Some went back with them full of joy, but most were seen to weep and mourn their fate. So soon as they were brought in sight of the Great King, the Prince took those who had done well, and put a white robe on them; but those who went their own way when on the Home of Earth, He sent down to toil in deep dark mines till time shall be no more."

When my sons had heard my tale to the end they all knew what it meant; I then drew from them their views of what they ought to do to please and serve the Great King, and did my best to teach them the truths that would guide them safe to the Place of Rest, when the time should come for them to leave the Home of Earth. We then sang a hymn; and my wife drew from her bag the Bi-ble, which I gave to one of the boys, who read from it in a clear, loud voice. When this was brought to a close, we all knelt down on the grass to pray, and to ask God to bless the means we took to learn His will.

We did no work that day, but took a long stroll up the banks of the stream, and spoke of such things as we felt would cause our minds to dwell on the truths we had heard read out of the Word of God. The next day Ernest and Jack tried their skill with the bow, and brought down some small birds that came to the great tree in quest of figs. I gave them leave to kill what they could; for I knew that, if put in casks made air tight with grease, they would keep for a length of time, and might prove a boon, if our stock of food should get low.

When we sat down to dine, the thought struck me that it would be as well to give some name to each part of the strange land that was now known to us. "We can, then," said I, "speak of a place as we did when we were at home, and not have to say so much ere we can tell the spot we mean." This was at first the source of some fun, for Fritz said we should call the bay where we had found the shell spoons by the name of Spoon Bay; but Jack, who still had a mark on his toe where the crab gave him a pinch, thought we ought to term it Crab Bay.

"If you will let me give it a name," said my wife, "I should wish to know it by some term that will make us bear in mind how good God was to us to lead our raft there, and I don't think Safe Bay will be a bad name for it."

"So let it be," said I; and from that time Safe Bay had a name.

"What shall be the name of the spot where we spent our first night on shore? You shall give that its name," said I to Fritz.

"Let us call it Tent House," said he.

"That will do," said I. "And now for the spot at the mouth of Safe Bay, where we found out planks?"

"Shark Point," said Ernest, and we gave it that name, from the fact that the great fish which Fritz shot had been found there. The place from which Fritz and I sought in vain for a trace of our ship mates was to be known as No Man's Cape. Then we had the Boys' Bridge, which name I gave it from a wish to please my sons, who had done so much to build it.

"But what shall we call the place which is now most dear to us all?" said I.

Fritz thought we should call it The Roost, Jack said he should like us to give it the name of The Perch, while Frank chose Dove Cote as the best he could think of.

"Now, my dear," said I to my wife, "it is your turn. What shall we say?"

"Let us call it The Nest," said she; and with that I gave each of my young birds a glass of sweet wine.

"Here's to 'The Nest,'" said I; "and my we live long to bless the day and the means that brought us here."

I then told Fritz to draw a map of the place in his spare time, and to mark down the name of each spot as near as he could.

When the heat of the day was past, I told my sons that I should be glad to take a walk with them. They all left off work, threw down their tools, and made haste to join me. My wife said that she should like to go with us; so we left The Nest in charge of Turk, and bent our course to the banks of the stream. On our way we went past some shrubs and rare herbs, which my wife knew well how to make use of should we fall sick; and Ernest, who had read much, and knew most kind of plants, found a large spot of ground on which grew a fine kind of Po-ta-to. At these the boys set to work with such zeal, that we soon had a full bag of the ripe fruit. We then went on to Tent House, which we found in the same state as when we left it to cross the stream on our way to the great tree.

We found that our ducks and geese had grown so wild that they would not come near us; so, while my wife and I went to pick up such things as we thought we might take back with us, Ernest and Fritz were sent to catch them, and to tie their legs and wings, and in this way we got them at last to The Nest. It was late at night when we came in sight of the tree, and the weight of the fowls and bags that we brought back tried our strength. My wife soon made a fire to boil some of the fruit that Ernest had found, which we ate with milk form the cow and the goat, and then went up to The Nest for the night.