Swiss Family Robinson Chapter 57 – Part 2

The next day, Fritz and Ernest set out on their expedition with Parabery, in his canoe, to seek our two valued dogs. The good islander carried his canoe on his back to the shore. I saw them set off, but not without some dread, in such a frail bark, into which the water leaked through every seam. But my boys could swim well; and the kind, skilful, and bold Parabery undertook to answer for their safety. I therefore recommended them to God, and returned to the grotto, to tranquillize my wife’s fears. Jack was inconsolable that he could not form one of the party; but Sophia scolded him for wishing to leave them, to go upon the sea, which had swallowed up poor Alfred.

In the evening we had the pleasure of seeing our brave dogs enter the grotto. They leaped on us in a way that terrified the poor little girls at first, who took them for bears; but they were soon reconciled to them when they saw them fawn round us, lick our hands, and pass from one to the other to be caressed. My sons had had no difficulty in finding them; they had run to them at the first call, and seemed delighted to see their masters again.

The poor animals had subsisted on the remains of the kangaroos, but apparently had met with no fresh water, for they seemed dying with thirst, and rushed to the brook as soon as they discovered it, and returned again and again. Then they followed us to the hut of the good missionary, who had been engaged all day in visiting the dwellings of the natives, and teaching them the truths of religion. I had accompanied him, but, from ignorance of the language, could not aid him. I was, however, delighted with the simple and earnest manner in which he spoke, and the eagerness with which they heard him. He finished by a prayer, kneeling, and they all imitated him, lifting up their hands and eyes to heaven. He told me he was trying to make them celebrate the Sunday. He assembled them in his tent, which he wished to make a temple for the worship of the true God. He intended to consecrate it for this purpose, and to live in the grotto, after our departure.

The day arrived at last. Jack’s shoulder was nearly healed, and my wife, along with her happiness, recovered her strength. The pinnace had been so well guarded by Parabery and his friends that it suffered no injury. I distributed among the islanders everything I had that could please them, and made Parabery invite them to come and see us in our island, requesting we might live on friendly terms. Mr. Willis wished much to see it, and to complete our happiness he promised to accompany and spend some days with us; and Parabery said he would take him back when he wished it.

We embarked, then, after taking leave of Bara-ourou, who was very liberal in his presents, giving us, besides fruits of every kind, a whole hog roasted, which was excellent.

We were fourteen in number; sixteen, reckoning the two dogs. The missionary accompanied us, and a young islander, whom Parabery had procured to be his servant, as he was too old and too much occupied with his mission to attend to his own wants. This youth was of a good disposition and much attached to him. Parabery took him to assist in rowing when he returned.

Emily could not but feel rather affected at leaving the grotto, where she had passed four tranquil, if not happy years, fulfilling the duties of a mother. Neither could she avoid a painful sensation when she once more saw the sea that had been so fatal to her husband and son; she could scarcely subdue the fear she had of trusting all she had left to that treacherous element. She held her daughters in her arms, and prayed for the protection of Heaven. Mr. Willis and I spoke to her of the goodness of God, and pointed out to her the calmness of the water, the security of the pinnace, and the favourable state of the wind. My wife described to her our establishment, and promised her a far more beautiful grotto than the one she had left, and at last she became more reconciled.

After seven or eight hours’ voyage, we arrived at Cape Disappointment, and we agreed the bay should henceforth be called the Bay of the Happy Return.

The distance to Tent House from hence was much too great for the ladies and children to go on foot. My intention was to take them by water to the other end of the island near our house; but my elder sons had begged to be landed at the bay, to seek their live stock, and take them home. I left them there with Parabery; Jack recommended his buffalo to them, and Francis his bull, and all were found. We coasted the island, arrived at Safety Bay, and were soon at Tent House, where we found all, as we had left it, in good condition.

Notwithstanding the description my wife had given them, our new guests found our establishment far beyond their expectation. With what delight Jack and Francis ran up and down the colonnade with their young friends! What stories they had to tell of all the surprises they had prepared for their mother! They showed them Fritzia, Jackia, the Franciade, and gave their friends water from their beautiful fountain. Absence seemed to have improved everything; and I must confess I had some difficulty to refrain from demonstrating my joy as wildly as my children. Minouminou, Parabery, and Canda, were lost in admiration, calling out continually, miti! beautiful! My wife was busied in arranging a temporary lodging for our guests. The work-room was given up to Mr. Willis; my wife and Madame Emily had our apartment, the two little girls being with them, to whom the hammocks of the elder boys were appropriated. Canda, who knew nothing about beds, was wonderfully, comfortable on the carpet. Fritz, Ernest, and the two natives, stowed themselves wherever they wished, in the colonnade, or in the kitchen; all was alike to them. I slept on moss and cotton in Mr. Willis’s room, with my two younger sons. Every one was content, waiting till our ulterior arrangements were completed.

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