Perfectly refreshed, we went on cheerfully to the place where we had left our gourd utensils. We found them quite dry, and hard as bone; we had no difficulty in carrying them in our game-bags. (“Game” is hunted animals, so those bags must be where they carried any small game they shot.) We had scarcely got through the little wood where we had breakfasted, when Turk darted furiously on a troop of monkeys, who were sporting about, and had not perceived him. He immediately seized a female, holding a young one in her arms, which impeded her flight, and had killed and devoured the poor mother before we could reach him. The young one had hidden itself among the long grass, when Fritz arrived; he had run with all his might, losing his hat, bottle, and canes, but could not prevent the murder of the poor mother.
The little monkey no sooner saw him than it leaped upon his shoulders, fastening its paws in his curls, and neither cries, threats, nor shaking could rid him of it. I ran up to him laughing, for I saw the little creature could not hurt him, and tried in vain to disengage it. I told him he must carry it thus. It was evident the sagacious little creature, having lost its mother, had adopted him for a father. (Are you picturing it? Who’s Turk? What did he do? Who’s attached to Fritz?)
I succeeded, at last, in quietly releasing him, and took the little orphan, which was no bigger than a cat, in my arms, pitying its helplessness. The mother appeared as tall as Fritz.
I was reluctant to add another mouth to the number we had to feed; but Fritz earnestly begged to keep it, offering to divide his share of cocoa-nut milk with it till we had our cows. I consented, on condition that he took care of it, and taught it to be obedient to him.
Turk, in the mean time, was feasting on the remains of the unfortunate mother. Fritz would have driven him off, but I saw we had not food sufficient to satisfy this voracious animal, and we might ourselves be in danger from his appetite.
We left him, therefore, with his prey, the little orphan sitting on the shoulder of his protector, while I carried the canes. Turk soon overtook us, and was received very coldly; we reproached him with his cruelty, but he was quite unconcerned, and continued to walk after Fritz. The little monkey seemed uneasy at the sight of him, and crept into Fritz’s bosom, much to his inconvenience. But a thought struck him; he tied the monkey with a cord to Turk’s back, leading the dog by another cord, as he was very rebellious at first; but our threats and caresses at last induced him to submit to his burden. We proceeded slowly, and I could not help anticipating the mirth of my little ones, when they saw us approach like a pair of show-men.
I advised Fritz not to correct the dogs for attacking and killing unknown animals. Heaven bestows the dog on man, as well as the horse, for a friend and protector. Fritz thought we were very fortunate, then, in having two such faithful dogs; he only regretted that our horses had died on the passage, and only left us the ass.
“Let us not disdain the ass,” said I; “I wish we had him here; he is of a very fine breed, and would be as useful as a horse to us.”
In such conversations, we arrived at the banks of our river before we were aware. Flora barked to announce our approach, and Turk answered so loudly, that the terrified little monkey leaped from his back to the shoulder of its protector, and would not come down. Turk ran off to meet his companion, and our dear family soon appeared on the opposite shore, shouting with joy at our happy return. We crossed at the same place as we had done in the morning, and embraced each other. Then began such a noise of exclamations. “A monkey! a real, live monkey! Ah! how delightful! How glad we are! How did you catch him?”
“He is very ugly,” said little Francis, who was almost afraid of him.
“He is prettier than you are,” said Jack; “see how he laughs! how I should like to see him eat!”
“If we only had some cocoa-nuts,” said Ernest. “Have you found any, and are they good?”
“Have you had any unpleasant adventures?” asked my wife.
It was in vain to attempt replying to so many questions and exclamations.
At length, when we got a little peace, I told them that, though I had brought them all sorts of good things, I had, unfortunately, not met with any of our companions.
“God’s will be done!” said my wife; “let us thank Him for saving us, and again bringing us together now. This day has seemed an age. But put down your loads, and let us hear your adventures; we have not been idle, but we are less fatigued than you. Boys, assist your father and brother.”
Jack took my gun, Ernest the cocoa-nuts, Francis the gourd-rinds, and my wife the game-bag. Fritz distributed his sugar-canes, and placed the monkey on Turk’s back, to the amusement of the children. He begged Ernest to carry his gun, but he complained of being overloaded with the great bowls. His indulgent mother took them from him, and we proceeded to the tent.
Fritz thought Ernest would not have relinquished the bowls, if he had known what they contained, and called out to tell him they were cocoa-nuts.
“Give them to me,” cried Ernest. “I will carry them, mamma, and the gun too.”
His mother declined giving them.
“I can throw away these sticks,” said he, “and carry the gun in my hand.”
“I would advise you not,” observed Fritz, “for the sticks are sugar-canes.”
“Sugar-canes!” cried they all, surrounding Fritz, who had to give them the history, and teach them the art of sucking the canes.
My wife, who had a proper respect for sugar in her housekeeping, was much pleased with this discovery, and the history of all our acquisitions, which I displayed to her. Nothing gave her so much pleasure as our plates and dishes, which were actual necessaries. We went to our kitchen, and were gratified to see preparations going on for a good supper. My wife had planted a forked stick on each side the hearth; on these rested a long thin wand, on which all sorts of fish were roasting, Francis being intrusted to turn the spit. On the other side was impaled a goose on another spit, and a row of oyster-shells formed the dripping-pan: besides this, the iron pot was on the fire, from which arose the savoury odour of a good soup. Behind the hearth stood one of the hogsheads, opened, and containing the finest Dutch cheeses, enclosed in cases of lead. All this was very tempting to hungry travellers, and very unlike a supper on a desert island. I could not think my family had been idle, when I saw such a result of their labours; I was only sorry they had killed the goose, as I wished to be economical with our poultry.
“Have no uneasiness,” said my wife, “this is not from our poultry-yard, it is a wild goose, killed by Ernest.”
“It is a sort of penguin, I believe,” said Ernest, “distinguished by the name of booby, and so stupid, that I knocked it down with a stick. It is web-footed, has a long narrow beak, a little curved downwards. I have preserved the head and neck for you to examine; it exactly resembles the penguin of my book of natural history.”
I pointed out to him the advantages of study, and was making more inquiries about the form and habits of the bird, when my wife requested me to defer my catechism of natural history.
“Ernest has killed the bird,” added she; “I received it; we shall eat it. What more would you have? Let the poor child have the pleasure of examining and tasting the cocoa-nuts.”
“Very well,” replied I, “Fritz must teach them how to open them; and we must not forget the little monkey, who has lost his mother’s milk.”
“I have tried him,” cried Jack, “and he will eat nothing.”
I told them he had not yet learnt to eat, and we must feed him with cocoa-nut milk till we could get something better. Jack generously offered all his share, but Ernest and Francis were anxious to taste the milk themselves.
“But the monkey must live,” said Jack, petulantly.
“And so must we all,” said mamma. “Supper is ready, and we will reserve the cocoa-nuts for dessert.”
We sat down on the ground, and the supper was served on our gourd-rind service, which answered the purpose admirably. My impatient boys had broken the nuts, which they found excellent, and they made themselves spoons of the shell. Jack had taken care the monkey had his share; they dipped the corner of their handkerchiefs in the milk, and let him suck them. They were going to break up some more nuts, after emptying them through the natural holes, but I stopped them, and called for a saw. I carefully divided the nuts with this instrument, and soon provided us each with a neat basin for our soup, to the great comfort of my dear wife, who was gratified by seeing us able to eat like civilized beings. Fritz begged now to enliven the repast by introducing his champaign. I consented; requesting him, however, to taste it himself before he served it. What was his mortification to find it vinegar! But we consoled ourselves by using it as sauce to our goose; a great improvement also to the fish. We had now to hear the history of our supper. Jack and Francis had caught the fish at the edge of the sea. My active wife had performed the most laborious duty, in rolling the hogshead to the place and breaking open the head.
The sun was going down as we finished supper, and, recollecting how rapidly night succeeded, we hastened to our tent, where we found our beds much more comfortable, from the kind attention of the good mother, who had collected a large addition of dried grass. After prayers, we all lay down; the monkey between Jack and Fritz, carefully covered with moss to keep him warm. The fowls went to their roost, as on the previous night, and, after our fatigue, we were all soon in a profound sleep.
We had not slept long, when a great commotion among the dogs and fowls announced the presence of an enemy. My wife, Fritz, and I, each seizing a gun, rushed out.
By the light of the moon, we saw a terrible battle going on: our brave dogs were surrounded by a dozen jackals, three or four were extended dead, but our faithful animals were nearly overpowered by numbers when we arrived. I was glad to find nothing worse than jackals; Fritz and I fired on them; two fell dead, and the others fled slowly, evidently wounded. Turk and Flora pursued and completed the business, and then, like true dogs, devoured their fallen foes, regardless of the bonds of relationship.
All being quiet again, we retired to our beds; Fritz obtaining leave to drag the jackal he had killed towards the tent, to save it from the dogs, and to show to his brothers next morning. This he accomplished with difficulty, for it was as big as a large dog.
We all slept peacefully the remainder of the night, till the crowing of the cock awoke my wife and myself to a consultation on the business of the day.