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- Journeys Through Bookland V3 - 20/69 -
and painful wounds, especially about the neck. The dogs began to lick each other on the places which they could not reach with their own tongues, and my wife carefully dressed the wounds with butter, from which she had extracted the salt by washing.
I begged the party who were to remain on shore to keep together as much as possible, and having arranged a set of signals with my wife, that we might exchange communications, asked a blessing on our enterprise. I erected a signal post, and, while Fritz was making preparations for our departure, hoisted a strip of sailcloth as a flag; this flag was to remain hoisted so long as all was well on shore, but should our return be desired, three shots were to be fired and the flag was to be lowered.
All was now ready, and warning my wife that we might find it necessary to remain all night on the vessel, we tenderly bade adieu and embarked. Except our guns and ammunition, we were taking nothing, that we might leave as much space as possible for the stowage of a large cargo. Fritz, however, had resolved to take his little monkey, that he might obtain milk for it as soon as possible. We had not got far from the shore, when I perceived that a current from the river set in directly for the vessel, and though my nautical knowledge was not great, I succeeded in steering the boat into the favorable stream, which carried us nearly three-fourths of our passage with little or no trouble to ourselves; then by dint of hard pulling, we accomplished the whole distance, and entering through the breach, gladly made fast our boat and stepped on board. Our first care was to see the animals, who greeted us with joy--lowing, bellowing, and bleating as we approached; not that the poor beasts were hungry, for they were all still well supplied with food, but they were apparently pleased by the mere sight of human beings. Fritz then placed his monkey by one of the goats, and the little animal immediately sucked the milk with evident relish, chattering and grinning all the while; the monkey provided for, we refreshed ourselves with some wine and biscuits.
I chose a stout spar to serve as a mast for our boat, and having made a hole in a plank nailed across one of the tubs, we, with the help of a rope and a couple of blocks, stepped it and secured it with stays. We then discovered a lugsail, which had belonged to one of the ship's boats; this we hoisted; and our craft was ready to sail. Fritz begged me to decorate the masthead with a red streamer, to give our vessel a more finished appearance. Smiling at this childish but natural vanity, I complied with his request. I then contrived a rudder, that I might be able to steer the boat; for though I knew that an oar would serve the purpose, it was cumbrous and inconvenient. While I was thus employed, Fritz examined the shore with his glass, and soon announced that the flag was flying and all was well.
So much time had now slipped away that we found we could not return that night, as I had wished. We signaled our intention of remaining on board, and then spent the rest of our time in taking out the stones we had placed in the boat for ballast, and stowing in their place heavy articles of value to us. As the ship had sailed for the purpose of supplying a young colony, she had on board every conceivable article we could desire in our present situation; our only difficulty, indeed, was to make a wise selection. A large quantity of powder and shot we first secured, and as Fritz considered that we could not have too many weapons, we added three excellent guns, and a whole armful of swords, daggers, and knives. We remembered that knives and forks were necessary, and we therefore laid in a large stock of them, and kitchen utensils of all sorts. We then went over the stores, and supplied ourselves with potted meats, portable soups, Westphalian hams, sausages, a bag of maize and wheat, and a quantity of other seeds and vegetables. I then added a barrel of sulphur for matches, and as much cordage as I could find. All this--with nails, tools, and agricultural implements--completed our cargo, and sank our boat so low that I should have been obliged to lighten her had not the sea been calm.
Night drew on, and a large fire, lighted by those on shore, showed us that all was well. We replied by hoisting four ship's lanterns, and two shots announced to us that our signal was perceived; then, with a heartfelt prayer for the safety of our dear ones on shore, we retired to our boat, and Fritz, at all events, was soon sound asleep. For a while I could not sleep; the thought of my wife and children--alone and unprotected, save by the great dogs--disturbed my rest.
The night at length passed away. At daybreak Fritz and I arose and went on deck. I brought the telescope to bear upon the shore, and with pleasure saw the flag still waving in the morning breeze; while I kept the glass directed to the land, I saw the door of the tent open, and my wife appear and look steadfastly toward us.
I at once hoisted a white flag, and in reply the flag on shore was thrice dipped. Oh, what a weight seemed lifted from my heart as I saw the signal!
"Fritz," I said, "I am not now in such haste to get back, and begin to feel compassion for all these poor beasts. I wish we could devise some means for getting them on shore."
"We might make a raft," suggested Fritz, "and take off one or two at a time."
"True," I replied; "it is easy enough to say, 'make a raft,' but to do it is quite another thing."
"Well," said Fritz, "I can think of nothing else, unless indeed we make them such swimming belts as you made for the children."
"Really, my boy, that idea is worth having. I am not joking, indeed," I continued, as I saw him smile; "we may get every one of the animals ashore in that way."
So saying, I caught a fine sheep, and proceeded to put our plan into execution. I first fastened a broad piece of linen round its belly, and to this attached some corks and empty tins; then, with Fritz's help, I flung the animal into the sea--it sank, but a moment afterward rose and floated famously.
[Illustration: THE SHEEP FLOATED FAMOUSLY]
"Hurrah!" exclaimed Fritz, "we will treat them all like that." We then rapidly caught the other animals and provided them, one after the other, with a similar contrivance. The cow and ass gave us more trouble than did the others, as for them we required something more buoyant than the mere cork; we at last found some empty casks and fastened two to each animal by thongs passed under its belly. This done, the whole herd were ready to start, and we brought the ass to one of the ports to be the first to be launched. After some maneuvering we got him in a convenient position, and then a sudden heave sent him plunging into the sea. He sank, and then, buoyed up by the casks, emerged head and back from the water. The cow, sheep, and goats followed him one after the other, and then the sow alone remained. She seemed, however, determined not to leave the ship; she kicked, struggled, and squealed so violently, that I really thought we should be obliged to abandon her; at length, after much trouble, we succeeded in sending her out of the port after the others, and when once in the water, such was the old lady's energy that she quickly distanced them, and was the first to reach the shore.
We had fastened to the horns or neck of each animal a cord with a float attached to the end, and now embarking, we gathered up these floats, set sail, and steered for shore, drawing our herd after us.
Delighted with the successful accomplishment of our task, we got out some biscuits and enjoyed a midday meal; then, while Fritz amused himself with his monkey, I took up my glass and tried to make out how our dear ones on shore were employing themselves. As I was thus engaged, a sudden shout from Fritz surprised me. I glanced up; there stood Fritz with his gun to his shoulder, pointing it at a huge shark; the monster was making for one of the finest sheep; he turned on his side to seize his prey; as the white of his belly appeared Fritz fired. The shot took effect, and our enemy disappeared, leaving a trace of blood on the calm water.
"Well done, my boy," I cried; "you will become a crack shot one of these days; but I trust you will not often have such dangerous game to shoot." Fritz's eyes sparkled at his success and my praise, and reloading his gun he carefully watched the water. But the shark did not again appear, and, borne onward by the breeze, we quickly neared the shore. Steering the boat to a convenient landing place, I cast off the ropes which secured the animals, and let them get ashore as best they might. There was no sign of my wife or children when we stepped on land, but a few moments afterward they appeared, and with a shout of joy ran toward us. We were thankful to be once more united, and after asking and replying to a few preliminary questions, proceeded to release our herd from their swimming belts, which, though so useful in the water, were exceedingly inconvenient on shore. My wife was astonished at the apparatus.
Fritz, Ernest and I began the work of unloading our craft, while Jack, seeing that the poor donkey was still encumbered with his swimming belt, tried to free him from it. But the donkey would not stand quiet, and the child's fingers were not strong enough to loosen the cordage; finally, therefore, he scrambled upon the animal's back, and urging him on with hand and foot, trotted toward us.
"Come, my boy," I said, "no one must be idle here, even for a moment; you will have riding practice enough hereafter; dismount and come and help us."
Leaving my wife to prepare supper, we returned to the shore and brought up what of the cargo we had left there; then, having collected our herd of animals, we returned to the tent.
The meal which awaited us was as unlike the first supper we had there enjoyed as possible. My wife had improvised a table of a board laid on two casks; on this was spread a white damask table-cloth, on which were placed knives, forks, spoons, and plates for each person. A tureen of good soup first appeared, followed by a capital omelet, then slices of ham; and finally some Dutch cheese, butter, and biscuits completed the repast.
DISMANTLING THE SHIP
NOTE.--The temporary tent which the castaways erected on the shore where they landed was neither safe nor comfortable, so they moved farther along shore, where in a group of trees they built a shelter among the limbs of a mangrove, about thirty feet from the ground. It was necessary to bridge the river and make a road in order to transfer supplies easily.
Besides their building operations, all were compelled to hunt, fish and forage for supplies for their own table and for food for their animals and pets. Porcupines, crabs, flamingoes and numerous other
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