The Swiss Family Robinson, In Words of One Syllable/Chapter 3

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As soon as I heard the cock crow, and say by the light that it was the break of day, got out of bed and spoke to my wife as to what we should do next.

"First," said I, "Fritz and I will make a tour of the coast, and try to find some of the men who left the ship, for if they are here, they may be in want."

"But," said Fritz, who heard me from his bed, "why should we search for those who left us to die on the wreck?"

"Well, I will tell you," said I. "First, we should do to them as we would wish them to do to us, not as they have done; next, we know that they took no food with them, and we should not leave them to starve; and last, it may be that they can help us, though now they stand more in need of our aid."

The boys were soon up, and we all sat down to

a good meal. That done, Fritz and I got our guns. I put a pair of small arms in his belt, gave him a game bag, and told him to take an axe. I took some food for us both, and a full flask, out of which we could drink if we should stray far from a stream. Fritz was now in haste to be off, but Ernest said that there was one thing still left to do ere we could start.

"And what is that?" said Fritz.

"We have yet to pray to God," said Ernest.

"That is right, my dear boy," said I. "We are all too apt to think less than we ought of what God tells us to do, and you know that he tells us to pray to Him day by day."

When we took our leave, my wife and the three boys were in tears. The dog Bill we left to guard the tent, but Turk went with us, and ran by our side.

We soon got to the banks of a stream; but then had to make our way down its course through the tall, rank grass. It took us some time to reach the sea shore. There was not a boat to be seen, or any sign that the ship's crew had found the land. We left the shore, and went through a wood full of tall trees. Here Fritz struck some hard thing on the ground with his foot, which we found to be a Co-coa-nut. He gave it a blow with his axe, and broke the shell, and we both sat down to rest, and eat the nut. We drank the milk to quench our thirst, and made a fair meal of the fruit.

At the end of the wood we came to a plain which gave us a clear view of the place. Fritz, who was on the look out, ran off with Turk to some strange trees that he saw on the right.

"Do come here," he cried, "and tell me what these are."

When I got up to him, it gave me no small joy to find that it was a gourd tree.

"Try," said I, "if you can get hold of one of those queer lumps that grow on it."

With that he brought one down, and we had a look at it.

"Now, of this," said I, "we can make a plate, a dish, or a flask. It is by no means a nice kind of food, but wild men set great store by its shell, which they use to hold their food and drink."

We then set to work to make plates of the gourds, which we did in this way: I tied a string round the shell, and then made nicks all round it with a sharp knife. In these we put the string, and then gave it a tight pull, which cut it in half, and made two bowls. When we had thus made some eight or ten bowls, and some flat ones for plates, we laid them out in the sun to dry, and then went on our way.

We could see, not far off, a grove of fine palm trees, but to reach them we should have to pass through reeds and long grass, which grew so thick that we made Turk go on first and tread a path for us. I knew this was just the place to find snakes, so we each cut a cane, that we might beat them off should we meed with any. As I took hold of my staff, I felt a gum or juice ooze out of the end. I put my tongue to it, and found it of a sweet taste. This lead me to suck the reed, and I then knew that we had met with the Su-gar Cane. By this time Fritz had done the same, for I could see that he held his cane to his mouth.

"Do not suck too much of it," said I, "or it will make you ill; but let us cut some of the best and take them back with us, for those at home will prize so great a treat." This we did, and bound them in a bunch, which Fritz took on his back.

It did not take us long to reach the place where the palms grew, and then we sat down in the shade to eat the food we had brought with us. "Do you see those nuts at the top of the trees, Fritz?" said I.

"To be sure I do; but they are far too high to reach. Look, look!" he cried, "there are some Mon-keys; let me have a shot at them."

"Do not do that," I said, and held his arm; "it will do us no good to kill them, and I think I can make use of them." With that I threw some stones up at the tree where they were, thought they had got safe out of my reach. They then made a loud noise,

took hold of the nuts that were near, and flung them straight at us. This was not new to me, for I had read that it is oft done by men who live in the woods, and have to get their food as best they can; but the trick made Fritz laugh, who soon had hard work to pick up the nuts that were thrown at him.

We broke some of the nuts, and put the juice of the canes in the thick white cream which forms close to the shell; and this made us a dish so sweet and nice that Fritz said it was fit for a king. Turk did not seem to like it, so we gave him some of the meat in our bag, which we could now well spare.

Fritz and I then made fast some nuts to a string, which I tied round my waist, while he took up his canes, and we both set off on our road home.