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- The Little Savage - 4/51 -
expected. But let me once get you into my hands, I'll make you remember it."
"I care not if I were in your hands," replied I; "I am as strong as you." For I had thought so many a day, and meant to prove it.
"Indeed! well, come here, and let us try."
"No, no," replied I; "I'm not such a fool as you say I am--not that I'm afraid of you; for I shall have an axe in my hand always ready, and you will not find another."
"I wish that I had tossed you over the cliffs when you were a child," said he, bitterly, "instead of nursing you and bringing you up."
"Then why have you not been kind to me? As far back as I can remember you have always treated me ill; you have made me work for you; and yet never even spoken kindly to me. I have wanted to know things, and you have never answered my questions, but called me a fool, and told me to hold my tongue. You have made me hate you, and you have often told me how you hated me--you know you have."
"It's true, quite true," replied he, as if talking to himself. "I have done all that he says, and I have hated him. But I have had cause. Come here, boy."
"No," replied I; "do you come here. You have been master, and I have been boy, long enough. Now I am master and you are boy, and you shall find it so."
Having said this, I walked out of the cabin and left him. He cried out, "Don't leave me," but I heeded him not, and sat down at the edge of the fiat ledge of the rock before the cabin. Looking at the white dancing waves, and deep in my own thoughts, I considered a long while how I should behave towards him. I did not wish him to die, as I knew he must if I left him. He could not obtain water from the rill without a great chance of falling over the cliff. In fact, I was now fully aware of his helpless state; to prove it to myself, I rose and shut my own eyes; tried if I could venture to move on such dangerous ground, and I felt sure that I could not. He was then in my power; he could do nothing; he must trust to me for almost everything. I had said, let what would follow, I would be master and he boy; but that could not be, as I must still attend upon him, or he would die. At last the thought came suddenly upon me--I will be master, nevertheless, for now he shall answer me all my questions, tell me all he knows, or he shall starve. He is in my power. He shall now do what I have ever tried to make him do, and he has ever refused. Having thus arranged my plans, I returned to the cabin, and said to him:
"Hear what I say--I will be kind to you, and not leave you to starve, if you will do what I ask."
"And what is that?" replied he.
"For a long while I have asked you many questions, and you have refused to answer them. Instead of telling me what I would know, you have beaten or thrown stones at me, called me names, and threatened me. I now give you your choice--either you shall promise to answer every question that I put to you, or you may live how you can, for I shall leave you to help yourself. If you do as I wish, I will do all I can to help you, but if you will not, thank yourself for what may happen. Recollect, I am master now; so take your choice."
"Well," replied he slowly, "it's a judgment upon me, and I must agree to it. I will do what you wish."
"Well, then, to begin," said I, "I have often asked you what your name was, and what was mine. I must call you something, and Master I will not, for I am master now. What is your name?"
He groaned, ground his teeth, and then said, "Edward Jackson."
"Edward Jackson! very well; and my name?"
"No, I cannot bear the name. I cannot say it," replied he, angrily.
"Be it so," replied I. "Then I leave you."
"Will you bring me some water for my eyes? they burn," said he.
"No, I will not, nor anything else, unless you tell me my name."
"Frank Henniker--and curses on it."
"Frank Henniker. Well, now you shall have the water."
I went out, filled a kid, and put it by his side,
"There is the water, Jackson; if you want anything, call me. I shall be outside."
"I have gained the mastery," thought I,--"it will be my turn now. He don't like to answer, but he shall, or he shall starve. Why does he feel so angry at my name? Henniker! what is the meaning of Henniker, I wonder? I will make him tell me. Yes, he shall tell me everything." I may here observe, that as for pity and compassion, I did not know such feelings. I had been so ill-treated, that I only felt that might was right; and this right I determined upon exercising to the utmost. I felt an inconceivable pleasure at the idea of my being the master, and he the boy. I felt the love of power, the pride of superiority. I then revolved in my mind the daily task which I would set him, before he should receive his daily sustenance. He should talk now as much as I pleased, for I was the master. I had been treated as a slave, and I was now fully prepared to play the tyrant. Mercy and compassion I knew not. I had never seen them called forth, and I felt them not. I sat down on the flat rock for some time, and then it occurred to me that I would turn the course of the water which fell into the hole at the edge of the cliff; so that if he crawled there, he would not be able to obtain any. I did so, and emptied the hole. The water was now only to be obtained by climbing up, and it was out of his power to obtain a drop. Food, of course, he could obtain, as the dried birds were all piled up at the farther end of the cabin, and I could not well remove them; but what was food without water? I was turning in my mind what should be the first question to put to him; and I had decided that I would have a full and particular account of how the vessel had been wrecked on the island, and who were my father and mother, and why I was named Henniker--when I was roused by hearing Jackson (as I shall in future call him) crying out, "Boy, boy!" "Boy, indeed," thought I--"no longer boy," and I gave no reply. Again he called, and at last he cried out, "Henniker," but I had been ruffled by his calling me boy, and I would not answer him. At last he fairly screamed my name, and then was silent. After a moment, I perceived that he crawled out of his bed-place, and feeling by the sides of the cabin, contrived on his hands and knees to crawl in the direction of the hole into which the water had previously been received; and I smiled at what I knew would be his disappointment when he arrived there. He did so at last: put his hand to feel the edge of the hole, and then down into it to feel for the water; and when he found that there was none, he cursed bitterly, and I laughed at his vexation. He then felt all the way down where the water had fallen, and found that the course of it had been stopped, and he dared not attempt anything further. He dashed his clenched hand against the rock. "Oh! that I had him in this grasp--if it were but for one moment. I would not care if I died the next."
"I do not doubt you," replied I to him, above, "but you have not got me in your hands, and you will not. Go in to bed directly--quick," cried I, throwing a piece of rock at him, which hit him on the head. "Crawl back as fast as you can, you fool, or I'll send another at your head directly. I'll tame you, as you used to say to me."
The blow on the head appeared to have confused him; but after a time he crawled back to his bed-place, and threw himself down with a heavy groan.
I then went down to the water's edge to see if I could find anything from the wreck, for the water was smooth, and no longer washed over the rocks of the island. Except fragments of wood, I perceived nothing until I arrived at the pool where we were accustomed to bathe; and I found that the sea had thrown into it two articles of large dimensions--one was a cask of the size of a puncheon, which lay in about a foot of water farthest from the seaward; and the other was a seaman's chest. What these things were I did not then know, and I wish the reader to recollect that a great portion of this narrative is compiled from after knowledge. The cask was firm in the sand, and I could not move it. The chest was floating; I hauled it on the rocks without difficulty, and then proceeded to open it. It was some time before I could discover how, for I had never seen a lock, or a hinge in my life; but at last, finding that the lid was the only portion of the chest which yielded, I contrived, with a piece of rock, to break it open. I found in it a quantity of seamen's clothes, upon which I put no value; but some of the articles I immediately comprehended the use of, and they filled me with delight. There were two new tin pannikins, and those would hold water. There were three empty wine bottles, a hammer, a chisel, gimlet, and some other tools, also three or four fishing-lines many fathoms long. But what pleased me most were two knives, one shutting up, with a lanyard sheath to wear round the waist; and the other an American long knife, in a sheath, which is usually worn by them in the belt. Now, three or four years back, Jackson had the remains of a clasp knife--that is, there was about an inch of the blade remaining--and this, as may be supposed, he valued very much; indeed, miserable as the article was, in our destitute state it was invaluable.
This knife he had laid on the rock when fishing, and it had been dragged into the sea as his line ran out; and he was for many days inconsolable for its loss. We had used it for cutting open the birds when we skinned them, and, indeed this remains of a knife had been always in request. Since the loss of it, we had had hard work to get the skins off the birds; I therefore well knew the value of these knives, which I immediately secured. The remainder of the articles in the chest, which was quite full, I laid upon the rocks, with the clothes, to dry; of most of them I did not know the use, and consequently did not prize them at the time. It was not until afterwards, when I had taken them to my companion, that I learned their value. I may as well here observe, that amongst these articles were two books, and, from the positive commands of my companion, not to touch the book in the cabin, I looked upon them with a degree of awe, and hesitated upon taking them in my hand; but, at last, I put them out to dry on the rocks, with the rest of the contents of the chest.
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