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Title: Yr Ynys Unyg - The Lonely Island
Author: Winton, Julia de
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Yr Ynys Unyg - The Lonely Island" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



by The University of Florida, The Internet
Archive/Children's Library)



[Illustration]



                   YR YNYS UNYG;


                 THE LONELY ISLAND:


                    A NARRATIVE

                        FOR

                   YOUNG PEOPLE.


    "Beseech you, be merry: we have cause
    Of joy: for our escape
    Is much beyond our loss: our hint of woe
    Is common: every day, some sailor's wife,
    The masters of some merchant, and the merchant
    Have just our theme of woe: but for the miracle,
    I mean our preservation, few in millions
    Can speak like us: then wisely, good sir, weigh
    Our sorrow with our comfort."--_Tempest._



                      LONDON:
 SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO., STATIONERS' HALL COURT;
    GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND CO., FARRINGDON STREET.

     NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE: F. AND W. DODSWORTH.

                       1852.



Transcriber's Note:

    Archaic and dialect spellings remain as printed. Punctuation has
    been normalised. Significant errors have been noted at the end of
    the text.



INTRODUCTION.


DEAR FRIEND,

I enclose you the manuscript of which you have so long desired
possession. You have permission to do what you like with it, on one
condition, which is, that you alter all the names, and expunge anything
like personality therein; for, as you are aware (with two exceptions)
each character mentioned in the story is now alive, and so few years
have elapsed since the events recorded took place that it would not be
at all difficult for a stranger to recognize the heroes and heroines
therein mentioned. Having settled that business, I now proceed to say,
that as the narrative begins very abruptly, you will find it necessary
to have some little personal account of the parties concerned, which I
will lose no time in giving you. The mother of the party you know so
well I need say nothing further of her than that she was about 27 when
these events occurred; what her age is now, I must be excused telling,
inasmuch as it has nothing to do with the story, and it is her own
concern, and it will too certainly expose the time of the narrative and
other things she wished left in obscurity. Mrs. E., the little mother,
as she is called by every one, was the second in command. A greater
contrast to her cousin could not exist. Short, and rather stout, she
trotted by the side of her companion, as the little hippopotamus by the
side of the giraffe. Both their eyes were dark, but the mother's were
soft, and the little mother's so brilliant when she fixed her eyes on
you, you must tell what you thought, as they penetrated into the heart.
Her broad forehead showed the prevalence of the intellectual powers, and
the reliance on her own sense and judgment. To be sure some people
called her very masculine, and it is true that, when equipped in her
riding gear, and ready to get into her second home (the saddle), she
certainly slaps her tiny boots with her whip, walks round her horse,
examines his legs, and questions her groom as to the throwing out of
curbs, and other mysteries, known as stable lore. The horse has his nose
twitched that she may get into the saddle before the usual kicking scene
commences; once there, he may do what he likes, she is part of her
horse, and enjoys his gambols as much as himself. When in female
garments, though somewhat brusque in manners and blunt in speech, she is
a true woman, and as feminine in heart as the fairest and most delicate
among the sex. Madame, the governess, must occupy our attention the
next. She was the kindest, best, most loving guardian over her flock,
and seemed to have but one unhappiness in the world, and that was her
utter inability to keep in order and understand one rebellious pupil
among them. But I will not tell tales out of school. Sybil and Serena
were the mother's young sisters, 13 and 14 years of age, innocent, gay,
and happy creatures, blessed with beauty and sense above the common lot.
Gertrude, or Gatty, was the child of an old and valued friend. She was
about 12, with the wit, the quickness, the sense of 20, and I had almost
said the size, for so large a proportion of flesh, blood, and bones
rarely fall to the lot of male or female at that age. She was
alternately the soul of fun and merriment or the plague and torment of
every one about her. She had the judgment of mature age and the nonsense
of the greatest baby in her. The mother alone obtained unlimited
obedience from her. I am afraid I have discovered the "unruly one," but
all the characters shall speak for themselves. The mother's own children
were three in number. Oscar, a fine tall active boy, with a grave quick
demeanour, but the open brow and frank sweet smile won him the love of
every one. Lilly, the little girl, was about 6, a little, loving,
winning thing, with eyes like violets, and long dark rich curls
floating all round her, from the middle of which was uplifted a little
rosy face, almost perfect in its childish beauty. Felix, the youngest
boy and child, was a little, delicate, spoilt fellow, whose face seemed
made up of naught but eyes and eyelashes. They were all three quick and
clever children; and it was partly for the improvement of the little
boy's health the voyage took place, the incidents of which are mentioned
in this book. Zoë and Winifred were two little nieces. The former a
grave, little, quiet picture of a sweet Madonna, and the latter a
little, sparkling, merry pet, with the quick action and grace of a
fairy. Madame does not know it, or think we guess it, but Winny is
certainly her pet. Mrs. Hargrave, the lady's maid, and Jenny, the little
pet nurse, concluded the females; while a fine, tall, handsome, athletic
gamekeeper formed their only male attendant. Now, having said my say, I
leave you; but you must be answerable for the faults of this journal if
you will publish it; nothing could be more irregular and hasty than its
compilation. With this burden on your shoulders, dear friend, believe
me, thine in all pity and affection,

                                                        A FRIEND.



CHAPTER I.


On the 3rd of May, 183--, we embarked on board our pretty yacht, "La
Luna," the crew of which included all the party mentioned in the
preceding pages, besides those necessary to work her. These consisted of
a captain, two mates, a boatswain, fourteen seamen, a cook, a steward,
and my son's gamekeeper. Captain MacNab was a remarkably nice, active,
bluff, plain-spoken man. It was easy to be seen that he was not too much
pleased at commanding a company composed so entirely of women and
children; neither do I think he would have undertaken the charge had we
not expected Sir Walter Mayton, my children's guardian, and Mr. B.,
their tutor, to make part of the live stock. The former was prevented
accompanying us by domestic matters; the latter from his father's death.
But we made arrangements for both to join us at Madeira, for it was not
deemed advisable to wait the month it would take Mr. B. to settle his
father's affairs and provide a home for his sisters. The weather was so
beautiful it was thought we could easily spend a month in the
Mediterranean, previously to extending our voyage across the Atlantic;
besides I was anxious to see the promised roses restored to my little
son's face, and, without being foolhardy or presumptuous, I could not
entertain the least idea of danger. Our first mate, Mr. Skead, was not
only extremely skilful, but the nicest merriest person on board, being
quite as ready to be the boys' play-fellow as they could be to have him.
Mr. Austin was the second mate, a grave religious person, who kindly
acted chaplain for us. Of the seamen I need say nothing, but that they
were all picked men. Alas, when I recall that day, and see so vividly
before me all their rough but honest manly faces, and remember the close
intimacy that, being sharers in one common home, participators in all
things alike, engendered, I cannot but mourn over each face as I recall
it to memory. In the few months we were together each seemed a part of
the family, and in the sudden severing of our lives and fates mournful
thoughts will arise as to what can have been the fate of those in whom
we were so interested. But I must not anticipate, and, moreover, my task
is a long one, and I have no time to spare lingering over the past. Our
cook was a black man, called Benjie, which rather disturbed the peace of
the little girls. They could not think the white rolls were really made
by his black hands, and only his extreme good nature and willing
activity caused them to be in any degree reconciled to having a black
man for a cook. He was a very good one however, and willingly would we,
many years after, have hailed his black face and white teeth with the
joy of a dear friend. Smart, the gamekeeper, was a fine, tall, handsome
man, of Gloucester make and tongue; he was quite a character in his way,
and the contrast between his fear of the sea, his illness at the least
gale, his utter ignorance of anything nautical was very great, when we
thought of his courage, strength, and skill on shore, in his own
vocation. Under his care he had two large dogs, half blood hounds half
St. Bernard, their names were Bernard and Cwmro. But I must describe our
vessel:--La Luna had been built expressly for her present purpose, in
the river Clyde; she was of nearly 200 tons burden, three-masted,
beautiful and elegant in her appearance, and nothing could exceed the
convenience and comfort, combined with strength, with which she was
fitted up; we had a deck house, surrounded with windows, so that we were
shaded from sun and sheltered from breeze, and could see in every
direction each pursuing his or her favourite occupation, and yet losing
none of the beauties and wonders of the ocean; near the deck house were
two berths, one for Captain MacNab, the other for Mr. Austin; down
stairs we had a saloon, the length of which was the width of the vessel,
and about twelve feet across; on the upper end a smaller saloon, or
drawing room, the sofas of which made up four berths; the three girls
used this room, and it opened into the stern cabin, where Jenny and the
three younger girls slept, and through which the rudder came; at the
other end was a double cabin, which served for my cousin and me, opening
into the bath room, beyond that was the boys' cabin, and on the left
hand side of the stern cabin was Mrs. Tollair's cabin; in the other part
of the vessel were four other cabins, a steward's or servant's room,
besides the seamen's berths, here also were two very excellent deck
cabins for our two gentlemen whenever they joined us. We had fitted up
the whole of the saloon with bookcases, of which one was devoted to the
children's school books, drawing materials, and everything of that sort
they might require. Our travels were at present not only indefinite as
to time, but equally so as to place. We had a piano and a small hand
organ, which could be carried on deck.

It would be impossible to convey any idea of the bustle, the noise, the
confusion, the pleasure, the novelty that possessed everybody and
everything the few days before we sailed. The leave-takings were the
most painful, for having the care of so many who left the nearest and
dearest ties behind them, on a voyage, the singularity of which invested
it with a certain degree of mysterious danger, the nature of which no
one could define, and which I now for the first time felt. All this gave
a degree of sadness to the feelings of the whole party as we watched the
English coast fading from our sight. I sat on the deck until a late hour
recalling the happy and cheerful "God speed you" that my mother gave us,
the more grave and solemn farewell of my father, whose foreboding mind
looked farther than ours did. And then I recalled the parents of those
with me; the hearty and oft-expressed wish of Gatty's father, high in
honours and public esteem, to accompany us, the tearful farewell of her
mother, dear Winny's merry and light-hearted mother, while her father
bid her remember, during her long absence, the lessons of goodness and
high principle he was always so anxious to inculcate in her. My brother
and sister-in-law had been prevented coming to wish Zoë farewell, on
account of the illness of one of her brothers. I could not but think
this as well, for her mother's delicate nerves could never have borne
the parting from a child so beloved, and Zoë's leave to come would have
been rescinded at the last moment. Poor child! I know not whether to
wish it better to have been so or not. Dear uncle P. came to wish his
daughter, my cousin, good bye, and to promise once more a father's and
mother's care over her two little children during her absence. I could
not help being amused at his sometimes expressing a wish to go with us,
and the next minute scolding us for doing anything so mad. Well, we were
off! the last adieus were said, the last looks given, the last words
spoken. We were off! The die is cast, and it seemed strange to me that
now and only now did fearful doubts, and vain regrets, and sad
forebodings oppress my heart, and take possession of my mind. With
striking vividness I recalled how, mainly to please myself and amuse my
mind, I had projected and finally carried out this expedition; how I had
covered my own private wishes and thoughts under the plea of the good it
would do my little boy, the benefit it was to all young people to
enlarge their minds by travelling and experience, the novelty of the
adventure, and the sort of certain uncertainty which was to attend our
steps and ways during the next eight months, thus giving the charm of
novelty and singularity to the whole scheme. I know not how long I
should have dwelt on these circumstances, had not the children come to
wish me their wonted good night. Schillie declared I had moped enough,
the girls were eager that together we should take our last view of
England, for the breeze that carried us now so fast through the water
bid fair to take us soon out of sight of land. The young soon lose the
painful feelings of parting; besides, they were so delighted at being
really off, they had been so fearful lest anything should occur to
prevent one or all going, so as to destroy the _unity_, if I may so call
it, of the party, that unmitigated pleasure alone pervaded them. This
buoyancy of their feelings had as yet prevented any symptoms of illness,
and I don't think there was a pale face amongst the party, save the
little invalid and Smart, the gamekeeper. He sat silent and amazed
between his two dogs, and, could we have analyzed his feelings, I have
no doubt we should have been privy to most curious and contradictory
ideas. Qualms were coming over him of various kinds, equally foreign to
his nature. Probably, for the first time, he was experiencing fear and
sickness at the same moment, and quite unable to understand the symptoms
of either. The boys had not yet found out what made their dear Smart so
dull and unlike himself, when they were so joyous and delighted. We all
rose up, and went together to watch the fading land. Various
exclamations proved how much our thoughts dwelt on that beloved shore,
and long after my short sight had deemed it passed from view did my dear
girls exclaim, "they yet saw it; there were still lights." But Captain
MacNab wanted his deck to himself, so with cheerful good nights, the
moon being up, we descended to take our first meal on board, and use
those narrow couches at which we were so much amused, and which the
children had been longing to try from the moment they came on board.
Such a noisy tea never was, interrupted now and then by a lurching of
the vessel, which was such a new thing to us that all started, some in
fear, some in fun, and some, I must own, with other feelings not very
agreeable. The oddity of having nothing steady on our swinging table,
the laughing at the pale looks that flitted across the faces of others,
the grave determination with which little Winny declared "that now she
was really a sailor, she would only eat ship biscuit," caused intense
merriment. But ere tea was over one or two of our party disappeared, and
when twelve o'clock arrived Captain MacNab had La Luna all to himself
and his men, for the feminine crew were deep in slumber, caused by the,
to them, unusual motion of the sea, and the unwonted excitement of the
day.



CHAPTER II.


_May 4._--The next morning there were many defaulters, myself amongst
the number. In lieu of the laughter and joy of the preceding evening,
there were groans, and moans, and beseechings for tea or a drink of
water. Sybil, Gatty, and Serena all rose valiantly; Gatty scornfully
repudiating the possibility of being ill. But it was in vain, "the
loftiest spirit was lowliest laid." The little girls rather courted the
notion. Being ill in bed of course precluded the idea of lessons, with
which a certain portion of every day had been threatened, and as they
lay in bed thus they discoursed:--

_Zoë._--"I really do not think it will be pleasant if we are to be like
this all the time."

_Lilly._--"Oh, Zoë, I am so snug, I have got a nice book to read, and
there will be no playing on the piano to-day."

_Winny._--"Oh! I am very sorry for that. If I did not feel so funny, I
should like to go and play very much. But I am glad we are to have no
French. Jenny says Madame is very ill indeed, and I think I heard her
groan once."

_Zoë._--"Groan, did you? then she must be very bad. I don't wish her to
groan much, but I don't mind if she is sick always from ten until two.
You know mother promised we should do no lessons after two. Here is
Jenny. Why, Jenny, what is the matter with you?"

_Jenny._--"Indeed, Miss, I don't know; but just as I was fastening Miss
Sybil's dress, I felt so queer, and I was so ashamed, I was obliged to
sit down before all the young ladies."

All the little girls at once exclaimed, "Ah, Jenny, Jenny, you know you
are sea-sick." "No, indeed, young ladies," exclaimed Jenny, vehemently,
"I am sure it is no such thing; but Master Felix would have some cold
beef with Worcester sauce for his breakfast, and that gave me a turn, it
has such a strong smell." But ere Jenny had well got the words out of
her mouth, nature asserted her rights, and after an undeniable fit, she
reeled off to bed, and was a victim for three days. Hargrave, my maid,
being of a stolid, determined, sort of stoical character, announced her
intention of not giving way; and though a victim, or rather martyr, she
never suffered a sign to appear, or neglected one thing that she was
asked to do, or showed the smallest feeling on the occasion beyond a
general sense of dissatisfaction at all things connected with the sea.
But of all our sufferers none equalled my poor cousin. Not a word was to
be got out of her, but short pithy anathemas against everybody that came
near her, everybody that spoke to her, every lurch the ship made, every
noise overhead; an expression of pity caused an explosion of wrath, a
hope that she was better a wish that she was dead, and an offer of
assistance a command to be gone out of her sight. Neither of the boys
suffered in the least. And now the increased motion of the vessel, the
noise overhead, and various other signs told us that the lovely smooth
ocean, on whose bosom we had trusted ourselves, for some cause unknown
to us was considerably disturbed, internally or externally. It was
impossible for any land-lubbers to stand; it was equally impossible to
eat in the form prescribed by the rules of polite society, food being
snatched at a venture, and not always arriving at the mouth for which it
was originally intended. One or two were pitched out of their cots, and
a murmuring of fear that this should be a tempest, and that we were
going to be wrecked, caused a message to be sent to Captain MacNab to
know whereabouts we were, for no one liked to be first to acknowledge
fear or expose our ignorance to the Captain, who had good-humouredly
rallied some on what they would do and say in case of bad weather.
Therefore the question of whereabouts are we seemed a very safe one,
likely to obtain the real news we wanted without exposing our fears to
the captain. In answer, we received a message to say we were near the
Bay of Biscay and as there was a very pretty sea, we should do well to
come up and look at it. "Come up and look at it?" that showed at once
that no shipwreck was in contemplation. But how to get up? that was the
question. The message, however, was dispatched round to the different
berths, with the additional one, "that the mother was going
immediately," that being my title amongst the young ones, and the little
mother being the title of my cousin.

On deck we were received by the captain, who welcomed us with much
pleasure, an undisguised twinkle in his eyes betraying a little inkling
into the purport of our message. To our amazement, he and the sailors
seemed quite at their ease, walking as steadily as if the vessel was a
rock, and as immoveable as the pyramids. But what a sea! I looked up and
saw high grey mountains on all sides, and ere I could decide whether
they were moveable or my sight deceptive, they had disappeared, and,
from a height that seemed awful, we looked down upon a troubled,
rolling, restless mass of waters, each wave seeming to buffet its
neighbour with an angry determination to put it down. In the midst of
all this chaos, one monster wave rose superior to all the rest, and
rolling forward with giant strength and resistless impetuosity,
threatened instant destruction to the vessel. A cry, a terrific roll, a
shudder through the vessel, and again we were in the valley of waters;
and during the comparative lull the captain roared in my ear, "Is it not
a pretty sea, Madam?"

We can now laugh at our fears, and the awe-struck faces we all
presented, but it was many hours ere some of us recovered ourselves, and
for this show of timidity Gatty scolded Sybil.

_Gatty._--"How can you be such a goose, Sybil? Why, you are trembling
now."

_Sybil._--"No, I am only a little cold; but you know, Gatty, that was
such an awful wave, if we had stretched our necks ever so high we could
not see to the top."

_Gatty._--"Well, and what did that matter? It was a glorious wave, a
magnificent fellow, I dare say a tenth wave. If we had been walking on
the sea shore we should have counted and known."

_Sybil._--"But I could not tell how we were ever to get to the top. I
thought we must certainly go through it, or it would go over us."

_Gatty_ (laughing).--"Serena, do come here, Sybil is talking such
splendid stuff, and, moreover, she is frightened out of her wits, and I
do believe wishes herself at home."

_Serena._--"Oh dear! I am so ill; going on deck has quite upset me, and
I am worse than I was."

_Gatty._--"Now, whatever you do, don't go and be so foolish, Serena. I
shall have no pleasure at all if Sybil is frightened and you are ill.
Get up, and eat a lot of roast beef with heaps of mustard and you will
be quite well."

A little small voice called to Gatty, and also asked for beef and
mustard. "I am sure, quite sure, Gatty," said the little speaker, Winny,
"it will do me a great deal of good." "Ah," said Lilly, "I wish I was
out of this place. Do, mother, ask the captain to stop and put me down
somewhere." This little idea caused infinite amusement. Time, however,
went on, and cured us all. We had lovely weather, and began to keep
regular hours, and have allotted times of the day for different things.
All attending, whatever might be our occupations, to the captain's
summons; for when anything new was to be seen, any wonders of the
ocean, any curious bird resting its weary wings on the only haven in
sight--our little vessel, any furling of sails, or any change, so did
the good-natured captain send for us, and we joyfully obeyed the
summons, listening to all his wondrous tales, watching the rolling of
the porpoises, and the wondrous colours of the sea. As we approached a
hotter climate, everything became, in our eyes, objects of new and
strange interest. In this manner we reached Gibraltar, and landed for
the first time, having been thirteen days at sea.



CHAPTER III.


_May 16._--GIBRALTAR.--I, for one, was very glad to land, for somehow on
board ship one never seemed to be able to finish one's toilette with the
degree of niceness necessary, a lurch of the ship very often caused an
utter derangement, a rolling sea made it a matter of great difficulty
even to wash one's face, and as for tidying the hair that had been given
up, and those who did not wear caps enclosed their rough curls in nets.
We therefore migrated to the principal hotel, leaving the two boys, at
their own request, on board, under the care of Jenny and Smart. The
three elder girls were to wait on each other, and each take a little
girl in their charge, while Hargrave waited on the three elderly ladies.
We were objects of great curiosity, and many people supposed our party
to consist of a school. They were more surprised at hearing that La Luna
belonged to the school. The visitors on board of her became innumerable,
causing the good-natured captain a world of trouble. Every day he came
and reported himself, as he called it, to his commanding officer,
meaning myself and brought an account of the boys, or one with him; and
it was most curious to see this great rough captain take each little
girl up in his arms and kiss her quite gently, always expressing a hope
to each that they were not getting too fond of the land, but would soon
return to their ocean home, as he was quite dull without them. Whatever
misgivings he might have had on starting, they had all given way to an
interest and affection for us all, that made it quite a pleasure to us
to communicate with him.

We took advantage of our first landing to write letters home, which,
having been preserved with sorrowful care, have now become agreeable
memorials of our adventures, and may be interesting, as their own
letters will best explain the individual character of each of those who
were now on their way towards adventures strange as unexpected. The
letters of the elder portion of our party contained but a description of
Gibraltar, which is well known to most people. Sybil's letter was as
follows:--


                                        "_Gibraltar, May 16, 18--_

"MY DEAREST MAMMA AND SISTERS,

"Here we are safe on dry land again, and who would have believed a
fortnight ago that we should have been so glad to get out of our dear La
Luna. But we don't make half such good sailors as we expected; and how
Em would have laughed could she have seen all the queer looks and sad
faces which possessed the merry party she had so lately seen. But here
we are really on dry land, and at Gibraltar, at the summit of all our
present hopes, and charmed enough to make us forget all the horrors of
the sea, and even think we could undergo them twenty times for such a
sight. We came into the harbour last night, and landed as soon as we
could collect our wits, and mother collect us; Madame has been at
Gibraltar before, and so ought to have had the use of hers, but knowing
her propensity to lose her way, we made Hargrave look after her, while
we three elder girls each took a little child. Both the mothers looked
after our things. The boys and Jenny were left behind. So we landed just
before gun fire, passing through the long rows of houses, which looked
so strange to our wondering eyes, piled one above the other, and as we
were passed and stared at by numbers of odd queer-looking people, we
quite fancied ourselves in a dream, or realizing the Arabian Nights. At
last we halted at our hotel. Our sailors deposited our boxes, and seemed
to wish us good night with sorrow. We had a famous tea, if I may so call
such an odd mixture of eatables, and went to bed, hardly believing we
could be in Gibraltar. This morning we were awoke by some little voices
round our beds--'Oh, auntie, dear auntie, do get up; this is such a
lovely place, and so odd. There are such rocks, and oh, auntie, such
queer people. I saw a man in a turban, and there is a black man in the
house, and----' 'Hush, little nieces, how are aunties to get up, if you
chatter so? rather help us to dress, that we may see the wonderful
things too.' We found our two mothers in the pretty drawing room. Three
large windows looked out upon the busy town and blue sea below. The
little mother was out in the balcony, in a perfect ecstasy of delight.
A call to breakfast was obeyed, though we could hardly eat, the chicks
jumping up every minute to look at something new and strange going on
below, and the aunties quite wishing that they might commit such a
breach of decorum. We were startled out of all propriety at last by a
well-known voice sounding under the windows, and a remonstrance which
drew us all there. Looking down, we beheld Felix seated on the top of a
most extraordinary vehicle, the driver of which he had superseded, and
was trying to persuade the lumbering old horse to get on. Smart was
behind vainly endeavouring to persuade his young master to come down. A
glance at the drawing-room windows effected what Smart's entreaties had
failed to do, and the young pickle was soon at high breakfast, and had
demolished a pretty considerable quantity ere his steady elder brother
appeared.

"We have just returned from our first expedition so charmed, even our
excited imaginations came not up to the beautiful reality. The town is a
very curious one. A long street composes the principal part. Almost all
the houses are painted black, with flat roofs. The shops open to the
street. But the rock itself! My dearest sisters, you cannot imagine
anything so exquisite as the tiers upon tiers, the masses of granite or
marble rising one above another until one's eyes ached in counting them.
I think if our party are always as wild as the fresh air, the beautiful
scenery, and the new sensations caused to day, our mother will repent
her responsibility. Even the quiet Zoë was roused, and her exclamations
were as rapturous as Winny's. Felix's feats of climbing were frightful;
we were never quite sure where to look for him. If Smart had not kept
his eye on him, and threatened him with sundry punishments, I don't know
in what mischief he would not have been. He is much more afraid of Smart
than he is of his mother. Lilly's head was full of some classic stories
which she had picked up somewhere, the scene of which she was quite sure
was in Gibraltar, and each auntie in turn came in for a bit of the
story, which might have created a sensation at any other time or in any
other scene but this. So you may imagine us now, all so happy, so weary,
so enchanted, so sleepy, but wide-awake enough to be able to send the
dear party at home a bit of our pleasure, and the wish that they were
all with us to delight also in such scenes. I don't think the mother
will ever get us all away. We have quite forgotten our pretty La Luna;
indeed she is at present as little thought of as her great prototype in
broad daylight. So I will now say good-bye, hoping you will set down all
deficiencies and incoherences in this long dispatch to the new and
delightful feelings such a place and such a new pleasure have produced
in our wondering heads. But in Gibraltar as at home, you must believe me
ever, dearest mamma, your dutiful and affectionate daughter, and dearest
sisters, your loving and affectionate sister,

                                                        "SYBIL."


My eldest son's letter to his grandpapa was as follows:


"DEAR GRANDPAPA,

"I like the sea quite as well as I expected; but I would rather go out
shooting at home. I hope mamma, however, will allow us to go to the Cape
or Canada. Smart says he should like to shoot a bear, and I wish to kill
an elephant. In the Bay of Biscay we had a rolling sea. The captain told
us the waves were 30 feet high; the wind was very great, and blew from
the South-West; but the captain did not seem afraid, he laughed and
liked it, so I thought it better not to be afraid either. But Smart was
very ill, and said, whenever we spoke to him, 'Oh! I wish I was at home
with my old woman.' Felix told him he was a coward and afraid; but he
said, 'I ain't afeard, but I be going to die, I be sure.' The dogs are
very happy and so is the cow; we feed her every day, and she knows us
quite well; she has not been sea-sick, or the dogs, or Felix and I, or
the captain and sailors, but I think everybody else has. Pray give my
love to grandmamma and my aunts. I am tired of this long letter, and I
think you will be also. I remain, your dutiful and affectionate
grandson,

                                                        "OSCAR."


Gatty's letter was to her sister:--


"MY DEAREST LIFFY,

"This is such glorious fun; but I am so hot. I declare if I stay here
much longer I shall flow away, and nothing be left of me but a rivulet.
I eat oranges all day long. We have a basket full put by our bedsides at
night, and I never leave one by breakfast time if I can help it. It is a
horrid nuisance being so sick at sea. I really thought in the Bay of
Biscay that I should make a fool of myself and wish I was at home again.
I don't like this place much, one is so stewed; there is not a shadow,
all seems baked hard as pie-crust twice done. I like being on the sea
better now I have got over being ill; there is a breeze to cool one,
besides it is so jolly having nothing to do but watch the waves and the
wind and learn to mind the helm. I have made great friends with all the
sailors, and they are very nice fellows, all but one crabbed old
Scotchman, who says, when he sees us on deck, 'ladies should always stay
down stairs.' I crawled up stairs in the Bay of Biscay, because they
said it was such a glorious sea, and, at first, I thought we were in a
vast quarry of bright blue marble, all the broken edges being crested
with brilliant white spar. Suddenly we seemed to go over all, all my
quarry disappeared, and I was as near as possible going headlong down
the companion ladder, and if I had how they would have laughed. The
captain said the ship was on an angle of twenty degrees, what that means
I cannot precisely say, but leave you to find out. I can only tell you I
thought we were topsy-turvy very often, and I hope we shall not
experience any more angles of that kind again. Sybil was awfully
frightened, and as white as a sheet. Serena was too ill to care whether
the ship was in angles or out. Felix is such a jolly boy, and likes the
winds roaring and the waves foaming, and he struts and blusters about as
if he was six feet two, and stout in proportion, instead of being a
shrimp of the smallest dimensions. He is getting a colour though, and
his mother looks at him quite happy. Winny is such an innocent little
donkey, so quaint and matter-of-factish.

"I suppose you don't care to hear about Gibraltar, you will get a much
better account in some Gazetteer than I can give you; I hate
descriptions. However, I'll look in our Gazetteer, and tell you if it is
true. All right, very good account. So now I will finish. I hope we
shall go across the Atlantic. The little mother is as cross as a bear;
but, as she cannot be so always, we are looking out for a change of
weather. You know I never can make civil speeches, so please say
everything proper for me, including my best of loves to papa and mamma.
Ever, old girl, believe me your most affectionate sister,

                                                        "GATTY."



CHAPTER IV.


I think the three letters I have given you will sufficiently explain the
feelings of our party. We now retraced our steps, though I should have
much liked to stop at Lisbon to see the celebrated Cintra.

We, to fulfil the promises made to our gentlemen, were now obliged to
make the best of our way to Madeira. This we accomplished within two
days of the time we had promised to meet them. But alas! instead of
having to welcome them, we received letters, stating that their joining
our party must be again postponed, from circumstances needless to
mention, and that we must either cruise about for another month or fix
some spot where they could meet us at the expiration of that time.
Having now become a nautical character, I may be excused saying "that I
was quite taken aback." What to do, where to go, or how to manage, I
knew not. But to proceed. After a variety of consultations, a vast
quantity of advice from all sides, we, backed by our captain's wishes,
and rendered rampant by the stretch we had given our hitherto
home-clipped wings, decided that we would cross the Atlantic. So great a
change had taken place in the captain's mind regarding ourselves that I
am not quite sure he mourned at all for the defalcation of our male
escort. He had us all to himself now; and, in recommending us the trip
across the Atlantic, he reminded me that my brother was stationed at Rio
Janeiro, being captain in H.M.S. C----, and that we might cruise up
towards North America, and pick up the gentlemen, who, coming from
England in the fast-sailing packet boats, would not be more than a
fortnight or three weeks at most on the voyage. Of course all the
children were wild to go. Remaining in the Mediterranean was voted dull
and stupid. How charming to go to America, to see things much more
uncommon, much more curious. Everybody could and did see the
Mediterranean; it was quite a common yacht excursion. Besides, as I
overheard Gatty say to her companions, "Just think, Girls, what a bore
it would have been, if, in a month or two's time, our mother should have
got tired of the sea, or the little mother continued, every time we have
a gale, to get sea sick, they would have ordered us homewards, without
consulting our wishes, and at the end of three months we should have
been in stupid England again."

_Sybil._--"Stupid England!"

_Gatty._--"Stupid England. I did not say stupid England, did I?"

_Sybil_ (much shocked).--"Yes, Gertrude, you did."

_Gatty._--"Then, Sybil, I am very sorry. England is anything but stupid.
It's a glorious place. It's a delectable place. It's a place that if any
one dared to say a word against it, I really think I should feel very
much inclined to----"

_Sybil._--"Well! What?"

_Gatty_ (softly).--"Why, I should like to knock them down; only don't
mention my ideas. Madame will bother me, and say it is unladylike; and
perhaps she will give me Theresa Tidy's maxims to do into French as a
punishment."

_Serena._--"Then we won't tell on any account; such a fate would be so
horrible. But I agree with you that it would be dreadfully stupid to go
home in three months. Now, if once we get to America, we shall have so
much to see and do that the winter would come on, and mother would never
trust all us precious people across the Atlantic in bad weather, so we
shall have to winter in New York perhaps."

_Gatty._--"How jolly! won't I 'guess' and 'reckon' every minute; and
won't I fire up if I hear anyone abuse our monarchical and loyal
constitution."

_Sybil._--"What grand words, Gatty. Where did you pick them up?"

_Serena._--"Oh, Gatty is so loyal, that I think she will be quite ready
to do that which we promised not to mention a little while ago, if----"

_Gatty._--"Hush, hush, Serena, you will get me into a scrape. Don't you
know everything is heard in this horrid--no, no, not horrid--sweet,
charming, dear, darling La Luna. You know what I mean, so hold your
tongue."

Therefore, across the Atlantic, accordingly, we pursued our merry
course, previously writing letters to detail our plans, to describe our
pleasures of all kinds, and to appoint a place of meeting.

What can express the delicious pleasure of the sea in a tropical
climate. The soft trade wind blowing us gently but swiftly through the
water, fanning every limb, and filling every vein with the very meat,
drink, and clothing of air; everything around, above, below bathed in
brightest purest sunshine; the still life, consequent upon the heat,
which pervaded the vessel, each person enjoying the unwonted luxury of
enforced idleness in their own way; the very barque herself seeming to
sleep on her silent course through the parting water; and as I raised
myself from the couch where I had lain down to read, I could not help
being struck with the pretty picture the vessel presented. My cousin was
reclining not far from me; her book had fallen from her listless hand,
her bright searching eyes, so restless in their intelligent activity
when open, were closed, her flushed face shewed she slept. Madame was
quietly pacing up and down, shaded from the sun by a great parasol; to
her the heat was soothing and agreeable, for she had lived much in
India, and it agreed with her better than cold winds and chilling
frosts. The three girls were not far off; the two elder ones making
pretence to read, but looking more inclined to snooze, while the
restless Gatty utterly prevented their pursuing either occupation. From
them came the only sounds in the vessel, and they consisted of peevish
expostulation, requests to be left alone, now and then a more energetic
appeal, a threat to complain to the higher powers, promises to be quiet
and still, and this scene at last resolved itself into a promise from
Sybil to tell a story, if the restless individual would only be quiet.
Immediately a reinforcement offered itself to the party in the shape of
Zoë and Winny. A pretty little group of four eager listeners and one
inspired narrator soon disposed themselves in the unstudied grace of
childhood, and the soft voice was heard in regular cadence, now lively,
now solemn, now pathetic, and again elevated according to the interest
and pathos of her story. Oscar, in his sailor's dress, with his fair
bright curls, his animated blue eyes, added to their picture. But in the
distance lay the prettiest group; tired and heated with the noisy play
of childhood, the mischievous and excited Felix lay fast asleep with his
arms round the neck of one of the dogs, as if he was determined the dog
should not play if he could not; but the watchful eye of Bernard shewed
that he was merely still for his little master's sake, and that he even
looked with a distrustful eye at the measured pacing of Madame, fearing
that her slight movement would disturb the profound repose into which
his charge had fallen. With her long curls sweeping half over the other
dog, and half over herself, lay the tired little Lilly, so mixed with
the other two that Cwmro did not seem to think it necessary to keep
guard while his companion watched so faithfully, and nothing could
exceed the depth of repose and stillness into which they seemed plunged;
and in finishing this picture I will end my chapter, for our days
glided quietly and deliciously, a time often looked back upon by us as
the sweetest and calmest we ever passed, and was only too short in its
duration.



CHAPTER V.


There fell upon us a dead calm. The heat was insufferable; the sky was
too blue to be looked at; the sea too dazzling to be gazed on; the sun
too scorching to be endured. We turned night into day, without mending
matters much. Gatty ran about, hot and panting, searching for a cool
hole, while she declared that the ship was a great pie, which the sun
had undertaken to bake, and that we were all the unfortunate pigeons
destined to be stewed therein. "Then," said the matter-of-fact little
Winny, "we must put all our feet together, and stick them up in the
middle." One day, when we happened to be in that indescribable state--a
sort of half consciousness of what was passing around--scarcely knowing
whether we were dreaming or waking, we heard a knock at the door, and
the hot but smiling face of our captain shewed itself. He was
immediately assailed with innumerable questions. Was the heat going? Was
the wind rising? When were we to go on? Why did he not whistle for a
breeze? Where could we get out of the way of the sun? Was it possible to
get into a shade? Could he give us anything to cool us? What would
happen if we all went on being baked in this manner? In fact, the
purport of his visit to the saloon at such an unusual hour was all but
lost sight of in the midst of these queries when I asked him if anything
was the matter. "I only wish to look at your barometer; something has
happened to mine," was his reply. So amidst an uproar of young voices,
with pullings, tuggings, and caresses, for he was a prodigious
favourite, he accomplished his object. I was surprised to see such an
expression of concern cross his countenance as he gazed at it, and
questioning him thereon, he answered, "Why, Madam, I find both the
barometers tell the same tale; therefore, what I imagined was owing to a
fault in mine, I must now impute to some extraordinary change in the
weather."

_Gatty._--"I hope then it will be hard frost."

_Felix._--"Or a storm, Gatty. I want the wind to blow, and the waves to
be mountains high."

_Lilly_ (yawning).--"I wish something would blow, and I wish I had two
little slave girls to fan me as they do in India."

_Zoë._--"I don't think I should; they would be so hot themselves, poor
things, I should be quite sorry all the time."

_Oscar._--"I vote for a hard frost, like Gatty, then we should have such
splendid skating on the sea."

_Serena._--"But, supposing (which I believe is no supposition, but a
fact) that the sea freezes in waves, we could not then skate."

_Gatty._--"Oh, don't talk any more of ice and frost, it makes one hotter
still to think of the contrast."

I proceeded to enquire of the captain what change he expected.

_Capt._--"Madam, it must be a storm of some kind; I have been becalmed
very often, but I never endured such profound stillness and heat as
there have been now for some days past. Dear little souls, I quite feel
for the young people, Madam."

_Mother._--"But, captain, is it likely to be a bad storm, or will there
be any danger?"

_Capt._--"You are all such good sailors that I am not at all afraid of
telling you the truth. Indeed," looking smilingly on the surrounding
faces, "I am thinking some of you will be glad to hear we are likely to
have a hurricane!"

The babble on this announcement was tremendous. Gatty and Felix shook
hands on the spot, and congratulated each other on the probable
fulfilment of their secret wishes. Madame turned deadly pale, and sunk
into a seat. My cousin tossed up her head, and said "anything is better
than this confounded heat." I trembled; the two little girls clasped
each other's hands half in fear, half in excitement; Sybil and Serena
both looked pleased; and Oscar besought me to allow him to be on deck
the whole time, that he might see the hurricane.

_Capt._ (seeing my alarm).--"You may be sure, Madam, I would not joke if
I thought there was any danger. I have been in Chinese typhoons,
hurricanes in the Tropics, and storms in the Atlantic, where one would
imagine heaven and earth were coming together, and under the blessing of
God" (here our captain bowed his head) "I apprehend nothing, Madam, but
what care and skill can overcome."

_Mother._--"But your face expressed great concern when you looked at the
barometer; and, besides, you mentioned the heat and calm as greater than
you ever before experienced."

_Capt._ (half hesitating).--"That is true, Madam, but I am such an ass,
I cannot hide the impulse of the moment."

_Mother._--"But, tell me, is this the impulse of the moment? Do you not
fear a more than ordinary severe hurricane? Remember, you have praised
us so much for being such good sailors, and so obedient to orders, that
you must put us to the proof; and the more you take us into your
confidence, the more well-behaved you will find us."

A number of voices, "Yes do, dear captain, tell us everything. Are we
going to have a grand storm? Will there be ice and snow? Shall we have
thunder and lightning? Will the waves be one hundred feet high? Do you
think the masts will be blown away? Tell us that it will be a
magnificent storm, whatever you do," said Gatty, winding up the noise.

_Capt._ (very much perplexed and anxiously).--"Dear little souls. Ma'am,
it does my heart good to hear them. They ought all to have been born
sailors, and bred to the sea into the bargain. Yes, my darlings, you
shall have a grand storm, no doubt you shall have all your wish,
whatever I can do for you, my little angels," and the good captain
looked quite benignly at them all, giving great energetic kisses back
for all the light rosy ones imprinted on his great Scotch face.

My cousin laughed as she turned to me and said, "Good as the captain is,
I hope he is not really going to spoil those children and conjure up a
prodigious storm for their amusement. Now brats, get out of the way, and
let us have a little common sense. You think we shall have a storm,
captain?"

_Capt._--"I fear so, Madam; that is, I don't fear," apologetically
turning to the young ones, "but I have no doubt we shall have a storm."

_Schillie._--"Then you would advise my betaking myself to bed, I
suppose, immediately."

_Capt._--"No, Ma'am, no, for I cannot judge when we shall have it, not
these twenty-four hours yet."

_Schillie._--"But, pray, have you any advice to give us against the
storm does come. When a horse kicks, I am well aware that the rider has
solely to think of sticking on; but, I confess, storms and their
consequences are quite out of my way."

_Capt._--"Indeed, Madam, I should be greatly obliged if you would
undertake to keep everybody quiet below, the children especially: if
they come running up after me, dear little souls. I shall be thinking
too much of them to mind my ship."

_Schillie._--"Then I will take particular good care they are kept out of
your way. I have no mind to lose my life for a parcel of spoilt animals.
But, otherwise, you think there is no danger?"

_Capt._--"Why she is a good boat, a very good boat; I fear nothing as
long as we have room."

_Gatty._--"Room, captain, what sort of room?"

_Capt._--"Sea room, begging your pardon, Miss. I quite forgot you would
not understand me."

Gatty now pouted in mortification that her intended laugh at the captain
should be construed into ignorance on her part of what he meant, and the
colloquy was broken up by the captain being sent for. We crawled on
deck, as a matter of duty, panting and exhausted with doing nothing.
Though we had bright blue sky above us, and the glittering sea around
us, I never shall forget the brazen, hard, heated look that everything
appeared to possess. The sky seemed to be gradually turning into brass,
the ship looking like brass, we feeling like brass. It was horrible; and
it was with no slight pleasure I heard a moaning wind rise slowly in the
night, freshening into a gale by morning. Ere twenty-four hours had
passed, with bare poles we were driven through the water just as a
child's walnut shell might be tossed on a rough ocean. Here, there, and
everywhere the sea rose, each wave with a crest to it madly buffeting
and fighting with the others, yet each apparently bent on attacking the
vessel, freighted with such precious lives. The wind whistled and roared
until every other sound was lost. We could hear it gathering in the
distance, then collecting, as it were, strength, rage, and speed as it
advanced, it poured all its wrath and fury upon what appeared to us, the
only victim with which it had to deal. The noble vessel bent, as it
were, her graceful head in deprecation of such furious rage and turmoil,
and shivering from bow to stern, would again rise lightly and proudly,
as if appalled, but yet indignant at the rough usage she was receiving;
yet far above the rattling wind the pealing thunder rolled with majestic
sound, while the incessant lightning showed us the mad waves in all
their forms. From time to time the captain sent us kind messages. We got
used to the noise, uproar, and shocks; but, nevertheless, we could
perceive the gale increased instead of abating. We bore it well for
twelve hours, not a murmur, not a fear was expressed; but, after a
shock, so tremendous that the vessel trembled to her inmost timber, a
faint shriek was heard from Madame, this was echoed from the deck, it
seemed to strike the ship motionless. As our breath returned to us,
slowly and labouringly did she rise, heavy and waterlogged; how unlike
the buoyant creature she had been a few moments before. Alas! that fatal
cry was not without its signification; a sea had struck her, and in
sweeping off seven men, had filled the ship with water, and carried away
rudder, deck-house, and everything. Then, indeed, fear took possession
of our minds. Amidst the roaring of the wind, the earnest and solemn
prayers of Madame might be heard, as she sat in the gloom of the cabin,
with ashen face and clasped hands, while the wailing sobs of the little
girls came mingled with subdued cries from the elder ones. The two boys
sat with faces uplifted, and their large eyes distended in fear and awe,
as if their wild wishes had caused this awful tempest. The servants,
unable to bear their fears alone, were seated in a distant part of the
saloon, the wringing hands of the one and the deep groans of the other
testifying the anguish and terror of their minds. Unawed by the
dreadful turmoil above and the painful scene around her, Schillie alone
seemed fearless and unmoved; steadying herself by the cabin door, she
stood erect, and, as she looked at each of us, the calm undaunted
expression of her countenance seemed to impart to us the courage her
words would have given could we have heard them.

The heavy rolling of the ship became each moment more apparent; the
timbers creaked and groaned; as if satisfied with the mischief it had
done, the wind ceased its wild uproar, and, during the temporary calm
that succeeded, we learned the loss of the seven men, hurled at once
into eternity, the wreck of all on deck, and the fatal consequences
still more likely to ensue from the sea we had shipped. The pumps were
manned immediately, and a temporary rudder made from one of the spars.
So little did the captain hide our danger from us that he accepted the
offer for those that could to help at the pumps; this enabled him to
spare two men for the rudder and other work he thought necessary.

Madame remained below with the children, beseeching for that aid which
is equally necessary on sea or shore, and Hargrave, being helpless from
fear and despair, remained with her. Wrapping ourselves up in warm close
garments, we took our places, two at one and two at another pump, to
help the men; and we had the exquisite gratification of finding that our
labours were successful, for once more La Luna rode lightly on the
waters, and our captain, in the broadest Scotch, which he always used
when agitated, expressed his heartfelt happiness, while he let out, in
broken exclamations of thankfulness, the fear he had entertained that
her waterlogged condition might have proceeded from the starting of some
of her timbers; and, indeed, the shocks and buffets she had received
from the angry waves, with the straining and pitching, made us,
inexperienced mariners as were, wonder, more than once, that she was not
riven into a thousand pieces. Many were the fond words and endearing
epithets bestowed on the brave La Luna by the good captain while he
apostrophized her, as if endued with life and consciousness, beseeching
her to hold on yet awhile, by all the good angels in heaven, by the
mighty powers of the deep, by the love she bore to those within her, by
the affection they bore to her, by the value of their lives, by the
preciousness of the little innocent children, by the hopes she had given
them of her strength and goodness; while he promised her in return every
good thing on sea or in sky, fair breezes, bright sun, and ever-flowing
sheet, with the devoted love and affection of all on board.

Towards evening, the moaning wind again rose in furious gusts, and we
were recalled from the calm into which we had been sunk by the sudden
and awful death that had befallen so many of our companions (a feeling
only to be felt at sea) to a repetition of all we had undergone before,
save in that one instance. In the language of scripture, "we strake
sail, and so were driven." The sky was as pitch, the waves furious, the
wind awful. Night and day passed without thought or heed. Working at the
pumps had done us all good, diverting our minds from the loss we had
sustained, and preventing us from dwelling on the perils surrounding us.
But now we had nothing to do, and we experienced, in its full force,
that heart-sickness consequent upon hope deferred. Hours sped on, yet
still the ship was driven like a mad thing through the water. Bruised
and sore, from the various falls and shocks we hourly received, hungry
and faint from inability to get the food so necessary for our exhausted
frames, death seemed our inevitable doom.



CHAPTER VI.


At the end of the seventh day, we were startled by the cry "Land ho!
Land, Land." We exclaimed, "we are saved, we are saved!" and, for a
moment, there was deep silence, an instructive feeling of gratitude
prompted in each breast, young and old, a spontaneous prayer of
thanksgiving to the mighty Being in whose hands we were, who was at once
our Father and our God. The first powerful impulse obeyed, we had
leisure to think of each other. I kissed the little ones, but said
nothing. Madame was loud in her rejoicings and thanksgivings, the
servants outrageous in their frantic joy, but the dread fear of the past
days, the fury of the still existing storm, kept the elder girls yet in
a state of subdued feeling. Dashing the tears from her eyes, and
assuming an indifferent manner, Schillie said, "Madame, spare your
rejoicings until we land; and you howlers," turning to the maids, "keep
your noise for a fitting occasion. I imagine," looking at the rest of
the party, "our condition is rendered more dangerous by the probability
of being driven on shore; when, instead of going to the bottom, like
Christians, with whole skins, we shall be dashed to pieces on the rocks,
and washed up in little bits."

_Felix._--"I hope some of my little bits will get near mama's little
bits, and then I shall not care."

_Oscar._--"Mother, may I creep up and ask Smart what the captain thinks
about the land?"

_All._--"Yes, do, do, dear boy."

"Mind you are careful, my darling boy," said the anxious Mother.

The captain came down himself with the boy, and corroborated Schillie's
idea, that land was dangerous if the gale continued. "But, thank God,"
said he, bowing his head, "the gale is breaking; may I see you all down
before my eyes, if I am deceived in thinking we shall have fine weather
in a few hours; but," continued he, looking round with concern, "what
pale faces, what suffering and misery you have undergone. I am a'most
done myself," the large tears rolling down his pale shrunken cheeks,
"and, but for the lives under my care, I must have given way long ere
this. Ye have need to pray yet for succour; we are aye in a mickle mess,
shortened in our hands, with work for twenty men, it is not to be
expected as nature 'll stand it out. The men are fairly done, and, but
for that likely Smart, I ken we should be in a far worse state. I am
thinking, leddies, a spell at the pump will no harm you, and gie us a
better chance of our lives, while the men get a bit snack. Another six
hours will make or mar us; but it's no me as will disguise from any one
that she's sprung a leak. All the straining and strammashing she has
gone through would have foundered some score of fine boats, but she is a
good one, aye, a grand one. So weel ye just come?"

We were awfully startled at the announcement of a leak, but followed him
as well as we were able. Lashed to the pumps, we again worked hard, but
not as before to reap a reward of our labours in seeing the pumps become
dry. At the end of two hours, when we had worked turn and turn about,
the captain told us that the water did not gain on us, yet the pumps
must be kept going night and day to keep her afloat. How grieved we were
to see our kind-hearted merry Smart, who had always looked such a fine
handsome specimen of an English gamekeeper, worn down to a shadow, his
fine fresh colour gone, his cheeks shrunk and withered, his bright eyes
and frank smile vanished, and a care-worn, haggard, gaunt man in his
stead. The two dogs were near him, looking famished and subdued. But
throughout the whole time, during our greatest danger, he had never
forgotten the cow; he remembered how necessary the milk was to the
health of his little master, and he had fenced and guarded her stall
with sails and straw-bands to prevent her being knocked about;
nevertheless, with all his care, she looked pitiable, and was galled and
bruised in many places.

Gradually the leaden darkness over our heads seemed to be stealing away,
a low moaning sound succeeded to the hollow blasts and whistling
hurricane that had been making us their sport. Instead of the violent
pitching and tossing that had been our fate for so many days, with the
fearful careening over of the labouring ship, we were now going slowly
up and down with the swelling rolling waves. Gradually and distinctly
the land, that had been viewed some hours before, became more visible,
and we beheld what seemed to us a small irregular island, rising very
abruptly to the right, and of great height, but shelving off to the
left; and, as we approached nearer, we could perceive long breakers
dashing for a great distance over the lower part, leading us to imagine
that it extended some miles into the sea. Our captain edged off as well
as he could, with his crippled rudder and the troubled sea with which he
had to contend, because night was coming on. Though the wind was quite
subdued, and the sea becoming each hour more calm, the night was an
anxious one, and weary enough to some of us, for the pumps could not be
left a moment.

The harassing time the young ones had passed made me anxious that they
should obtain that rest so long desired, while the age and delicate
health of Madame rendered her almost as necessary an object of care; but
the maids with my cousin and myself did our duty with the rest in our
endeavours to keep the ship afloat.

We were rewarded in the morning by, oh! joyful and beauteous sight, the
unclouded and glorious rising of the sun. Months seemed to have passed
since we had seen his beautiful face, and the genial warmth and bright
beams imparted a glow to every eye and every heart. The cock, so long
silent and almost dead with salt water, faintly crowed, the dogs barked,
and the cow lowed. When dumb animals thus endeavoured to express their
joy and thankfulness, could we be silent? Oh no, words were not wanting
to add to nature's hymn, happy and joyful sounds were heard on all
sides, and those who could not help it wept the happiness they found
themselves unable to express in words.



CHAPTER VII.


In us was exemplified the old adage, "that man is but the creature of
circumstances." Who could have foretold that in two short weeks we
should think so differently, and yet in that fortnight of dark anxiety,
undefined dread and forebodings, more distressing than reality itself,
we had seemed to live years of misery. The bodily sufferings we had
endured from the heat and burning fever of the scorching sun seemed as
nothing in comparison with the horrors we afterwards underwent, and it
was almost impossible to imagine that we had ever deprecated the bright
beams or complained of the genial warmth now so grateful to our
feelings.

What happiness it was to hear the joyous voices of the young ones, as
each, in their different manner, expressed their delight at the
beautiful change. The gentle Zoë clasped her hands with excited joy;
Felix flew into his dear Smart's arms, exclaiming "that the sun was
shining most stunningly;" Oscar came softly behind me, and with one arm
round my neck, whispered "Dear mama, surely we are saved now;" Lilly and
Winny ran from one end of the vessel to the other, singing, in clear
ringing voices, the morning hymn; while each and all gazed on the
surrounding scene with happiness and delight, worn out as we were with
aching arms, blistered hands, and utter weariness, we could not be
insensible to the beauty of the little island we were now approaching.

It was seemingly so long since we had seen land that even if it had been
a barren rock, we should have hailed it with delight. Yet, with all our
love for La Luna, with all our experience of her goodness, beauty,
strength, and worth, not a heart beat on board of her, I fear, that did
not pant to be on shore. It seemed as if this little island had risen
out of the sea for the sole purpose of affording us the rest and peace
our shattered condition and worn-out frames demanded. And yet it was
curious and half alarming to see this little spot of earth rising so
lonely and yet so beautiful in the middle of the sea: like an emerald
gem on the vast extent of water it lay calm and alone, no other land in
sight, no other object to divide our attention with it. The nearer we
approached, the more we became absorbed in our inspection. It grew
larger, it appeared higher, we distinguished cliffs or rocks, we noticed
ravines, and beheld small bays. The roaring of the breakers was
distinctly heard, and the rolling billows, collecting foam as they
advanced, seemed to spend their force against the reef of rocks, while
they lightly and gently swept on towards the little island, breaking so
softly on the sanded shore that they seemed to regard it as a favoured
child, whose solitary condition demanded protection and indulgence.
Slowly and heavily the laden ship advanced; suddenly we seemed, as it
were, to pass a corner of the island, and came upon a view so lovely in
its quiet beauty, so unexpected in its richness and colour, so
delightful in its homelike appearance, that one cry of admiration burst
from all. How exquisite! How lovely! What rocks! What trees! Look, look,
a gushing stream, a lovely waterfall! I see birds, bright birds, and
beauteous flowers, I am sure! What colours! What a lovely bay! What blue
water! What golden sands! Was ever such a scene beheld before by mortal
eyes! Such and many more were the exclamations heard on all sides. There
hung, in vast variety, gigantic trees, stretching their huge limbs in
every direction on the face of the cliff, as if clinging for support.
Every here and there verdant spots appeared, like mossy resting places
for the weary climber, from whence hung creeping plants, wonderful to us
for their size and beauty. In the right side of the bay, the cliffs
seemed suddenly rent asunder, and through the opening gleamed a silvery
thread, which, advancing to the edge, fell in a rich stream of water
from rock to rock, dispersing into a thousand sparkling dancing rills,
sometimes lost, then again bursting forth, now shadowed by a huge old
tree, then deepening into a quiet smiling pool, until at last tossed,
tumbled, and thrown from a descent of a hundred feet, it reunited its
troubled waters on the sand, and flowed in tranquil beauty to the sea.
The cliffs shelved up higher almost immediately beyond the waterfall,
and rounding abruptly on either side towards the sea, they formed a bay
or harbour, scarcely half a mile from point to point, though it must
have been some miles round it. High on the right hand, which in fact was
the sort of corner we had passed, rose abruptly from the sea a gigantic
rock separated from the mainland; it had an archway, apparently hollowed
by the sea, quite through it, and was curiously picturesque and strange
to view. On the left, the bay was also sheltered by rocks, filled with
caves and hollow places, but none separated from the mainland. Our
captain had been occupied taking soundings ever since we had neared the
land, and amidst all our exclamations arose regularly the man's deep
voice, proclaiming the depth of the line, with a melodious cadence
peculiar to the cry.



CHAPTER VIII.


But not even that sound or the nearness of our approach to land prepared
us for a sudden grating noise, a shock, a succession of bumps that
finally left nearly everybody on their faces and the ship perfectly
motionless and fast on a sand bank. Those who soonest recovered
themselves were greeted by the captain with cheering voice and hearty
shakes of the hand. Wiping the numerous drops of anxiety from his brow,
he congratulated us on what seemed the climax of our misfortunes.

"All right, all right," he exclaimed, "capitally done; I hardly hoped we
should manage it so well. Cheer up, cheer up, my darling," picking up
poor little Winny, whose bleeding nose shewed how suddenly the shock had
upset her, "we are all safe now. There is the bonny island ready to
receive us, and the pratty ship has borne us safe and sound, as far as
she weel could, and now she is safe on a soft sand bank, and no harm to
speak on. Another few hours, and we wadna hae had hands to shake or
mou's to praise God for all his mercies." In answer to my appealing
look, he continued, "She could not have floated long, Madam, the pumps
are clogged and useless. Every hour was increasing the weight of water.
With all my wisdom and knowledge, I could not have saved you had not a
merciful providence raised up this picture of 'the fair havens,' like as
is mentioned in the holy scriptures, and I bid ye welcome with my auld
heart singing for joy. Never mind your bit knock my hinny. Here's a
pratty home and a lovely garden come up from the ocean depths to shield
and shelter ye; and ye shall have bonny fruits and flowers to pleasure
ye, after the strife and turmoil you have been undergoing. But, aye,
leddies, what a grand boat this is. I'd wager my mither's silver tea-urn
none could have done so weel; she has borne and sheltered us to the last
minute, and now she lays us gently and saftly on a nice sand bank, and
we may step ashore with the ease and pleasure of grand folk. Oh, she's a
darling."

_Oscar._--"But she did not lay us so softly, I came down with such force
that I am quite sore now."

_Capt._--"But, my darling, you would not expect a ship to be so gentle
in her manners as your own lady mother. Na, na, she did as weel as she
could, and that's better than the best, I'll engage."

_Winny_ (half angry).--"But she made my nose bleed with her great
bumps."

_Capt._--"And did she not do it on purpose, my precious lamb? How could
she have settled herself so fast and high without making a bed for
herself in the sand; she's as knowledgeable as a Christian, and there's
no denying of it. Most lumbering vessels would have bumped a hole in
their bottoms, but I'll be bound she has not rasped an inch of her
keel. Here she lays us, and bids us, while she lies doon to rest, to
take a snack ashore, and be thankful for a' the mercies showered on our
unworthy heads. Good Mr. Austin is gone fra us, Madam, but surely there
remains some amongst us to lift the song of praise and glory."

[Illustration]

Every heart responded to the good captain's words, and the crippled
crew, more alive than we were to the danger we had escaped, flocked from
each part of the vessel to join us. The startled birds, unused to human
sounds, rose in clouds as the energetic and outpouring spirit of praise
rose in the air, fervent in its expression, heartfelt in its depth and
feeling.

And then our good captain manned the only boat left us, and calling upon
me to choose any three other companions I liked, bid me come and take
possession of the fair island in the name of the Queen. Calling
Schillie, Serena, and Oscar, with the two poor dogs, we got into the
boat; in a few minutes we approached, we landed, and seeing the showers
of tears that rushed to our eyes, the captain considerately shoved off,
and ere we had well dried them, clinging arms and soft voices hung round
us, and welcomed us to this land of loveliness and beauty. A very short
time elapsed ere we were all on shore, and would have wandered from tree
to tree and rock to rock in pleasure too delicious to be described, had
not the considerate kindness and untiring exertions of our good captain
made us anxious to assist him as well as we could. Everybody was called
into requisition, even the volatile Felix and the indolent Lilly were
chidden into useful activity, and bestirred themselves to the best of
their little powers, on being promised the reward of sleeping on shore.
It was nearly noon when we landed, but, in spite of the heat, we worked
untiringly, having, first of all, fixed on a dry and sheltered corner on
which to have a tent pitched. Under the captain's judicious management,
the sailors soon erected a large and commodious apartment, into which we
put couches and cushions to serve as beds; a smaller tent, a few feet
below us, was prepared for the captain, the boys, and Smart. A large
fire was kindled ere night approached to keep off wild beasts, or scare
any other unknown enemies. On a shelving rock, against which the waves
gently broke, we had our first meal, one never to be forgotten by me,
for the many mixed feelings with which it was partaken. All hearts were
too full to say much. The overwrought mind of the captain showed itself
in his profound silence, while slowly and at intervals a single large
tear rolled down his cheeks. Madame swallowed as many tears as tea.
Schillie gulped down her food in convulsive starts while she spoke only
in short sentences to the dogs, sharply reproving them for nothing.
Sybil and Serena both wept quietly, and ever and anon cast fond and
anxious but furtive glances at their two mothers. Gatty shewed the
workings of her mind by the innumerable holes she was tearing in her
poor handkerchief, while she earnestly begged the little girls to eat
more, and called them stupid little apes when they did not. They, poor
children, would have been joyful and happy, for the feelings of
childhood chase each other like clouds on an April day, but the unwonted
sight of the kind captain's tears, the uncontrollable feelings that
possessed the elder party, gave an awe to the whole proceeding. Oscar
and Felix ate and drank to their heart's content, relieving their
feelings by occasional visits to Smart, who sat at a little distance
with some of the sailors. Such a state of feeling could not last. Our
meal ended abruptly, and ere the lingering glory of the sun had wholly
left the sky, all the worn frames and overtaxed hearts sought the repose
so necessary for them, and, save two faithful watches by the fire, deep
sleep fell on all the party.



CHAPTER IX.


I awoke in the morning, hardly at first comprehending where I was. On
rising, I found myself alone, no sound broke the stillness, no sight met
my eyes to assist me in restoring my still dreaming thoughts. After
passing some moments in endeavouring to recollect myself, I opened the
door of the tent. High and dry on a sanded bank lay La Luna, almost on
her beam ends, while active figures were busily employed in her. The
little boat had just left her laden with a heavy cargo. Smart and the
two maids were apparently waiting to receive what she brought, and
assist in unloading her. Scattered in numerous and pretty groups along
the shore were all my loved companions. I slowly and mechanically
counted them, as if I feared from the unwonted stillness some were
missing; but they were all there; I thanked God, and sat down to recover
myself. One of the dogs barked, and I saw my cousin run forward to
silence him. The little girls were feeding the ducks and chickens, at
least two were, while the third was wandering close to the waves at some
distance. The boys were one rubbing the cow down, the other feeding her
with fresh grass, for which she eagerly pursued him. Schillie walked
slowly to the water's edge, and began to make ducks and drakes, as it is
called, with a stone, apparently trying to hit a dark object that was
moving in the water. The dogs were going in after the stones, when a
shout from the vessel roused her. Pointing to the black object, of which
now there appeared many, vehement signs were made to her to forbear. The
noise reached the ears of all, and they came each from their separate
occupations to know what was the matter, and I also walked from the tent
for the same purpose. The moment I was perceived they all uttered joyful
cries, and ran towards me, expressing their pleasure that I was at last
awake; and I then learnt that the cause of their great silence was a
wish to leave my repose as undisturbed as possible. I thanked them all,
and was greatly relieved; and now there was no end to the gabble, which
nearly made us forget the cause which had first broken the stillness.

But Smart came, sent by the captain's orders, to tell us not to throw
more stones, or allow the dogs to go into the water, as the odd black
things we saw were sharks. Some of the party were aghast, and some
delighted at the notion of being on such familiar terms with creatures
of whom we had only before read. We sent a message back to the captain
to come to breakfast, which had been prepared under a vast plane tree,
whose huge branches afforded us delightful shelter. He soon arrived, and
greeted us all, in famous spirits. He shook our hands until they ached,
he kissed the children a dozen times, and he talked broader Scotch than
we had ever heard him do yet; also, he drank about fifteen cups of tea.
We all did ample justice to our breakfast; and I was glad to see poor
Madame quite merry, roused by the mirth and noise of the children.

_Gatty._--"What a jolly island this is."

_Oscar._--"Yes. Should you like to live here?"

_Gatty._--"I'll be Robinson Crusoe, and you shall be my Man Friday."

_Winny._--"You must be Mrs. Robinson Crusoe, Gatty, because you are a
woman."

_Mother._--"Then I suppose we had better go away, and leave you two
here."

_Oscar._--"Oh no! don't do that, but we will go and live at the top of
that rock, and make believe to be Crusoe and Friday; only, Gatty, if I
let you be Crusoe, you must let me have a gun, and I must not sit at
your feet, and have to read, because I can do that already quite well.
The best thing will be for us both to be Crusoe, and have no Friday at
all, because I shall have to black myself."

_Sybil._--"And I know that won't please you at all, you little Eton
dandy, with your smart waistcoat, white tie, and shining boots."

_Oscar._--"Why you know, aunt Sib, we are no longer sailors now. We must
dress as shore-going folks. Besides, we don't know if there may not be
company here."

_Madame_ (turning quite pale).--"Oh dear! Do you think there are any
savages likely to be near us. I have such a dread of them."

_Capt._ (laughing).--"Why, Ma'am, from all I could see of this island,
there isn't much room for them and us, and there cannot be many of them
at any rate. If there are, they will show themselves soon."

_Schillie._--"I would advise an exploring excursion, that we may see who
has possession of this island besides ourselves. It would be as well to
know if we have foes, either man or beasts. I know one person," with a
slight glance at me, "who will be as fidgety as she is high if her
mind's not at rest. She'll see a savage in every bush, a tiger behind
every stone, and sharks walking on the sand swallowing brats like pills.
It did not seem very large, captain, though we can hardly tell now,
walled in as we are by these great cliffs."

_Capt._--"I think your advice very sensible, Madam. It will ease my mind
too, very much, to know that you are exposed to no danger while I am
busy overhauling the ship. Here comes Mr. Skead, and we'll take his
opinion. Ah! good Mr. Austin, you're a sair miss."

This apostrophe to the memory of our kind good mate was heartily
responded to by all. Amongst others who were lost in that fatal night
was the old Scotch sailor; but the subject was so painful to us, we
never recurred to it, if possible. We could not recover the shock of
such a fatal parting from our late companions.

We gave Mr. Skead some breakfast, and then entered into a discussion of
plans, in which every one took a part. The captain declared that La Luna
must be overhauled, that all her cargo must be taken out, and that he
had work for fifty men, and had but ten to do it, himself and Mr. Skead
making twelve, Smart and Benjie fourteen. And yet every voice
pronounced, "we must go and explore." The good captain was sorely
puzzled, and in his perplexity talked Scotch to an unintelligible
degree. Every day was of consequence until he had discovered what injury
the ship had received. We, on our parts, declared it was impossible to
sleep or rest in peace while we were subjected to any unknown enemy
rushing out upon us.

_Schillie._--"Good lack! What a noise. Pray be quiet for a moment, and
listen to common sense. Why should the captain go exploring at all. Let
him remain with his men and ship, and give us Smart and some guns, and
we will go and explore."

A dead silence followed this announcement of Schillie's. At last,
exclaimed Gatty, "It will be capital fun." "So it will," said Sybil.
"Most delightful," said Serena. "I want so much to climb up those
cliffs," said Zoë. "I want to gather flowers," said Winny. "I want to
kill a lion," said Oscar. "I wish to climb up a cocoa-nut tree, and get
mama some cocoa-nut milk," said Felix. "And I," said Lilly, "want to
stay here and pick up shells. Oh, mama, such shells, I never, never,
never saw such lovely----" here I put my hand on her little mouth, while
Madame exclaimed, "My dearest children, my darling girls, are you mad.
What, go up those frightful rocks, exposed to the dangers of wild
beasts, get torn and scratched amongst the forest, scorched and burnt by
the sun. My dear young ladies, believe me, I cannot permit such
indecorum." Blank looks followed, while I, taking Madame's hand; said
in a deprecating tone, "You know, dear Madame, we are in peculiar
circumstances, and we must all do our duty in the small circle to which
we are now reduced. As it is so necessary that the captain should
examine the ship, and as we cannot help in that, I think we may as well
try our talents in exploring. I think you will have no objection to the
girls going if the two mothers go also."

_Madame._--"Oh! my dear Madam, think not of it. Remember how precious
your life is. Think what would become of us should anything occur to
either of you. I feel quite incapable of filling your place; and a
thousand unseen dangers are preferable to your leaving us for a moment."

_Mother._--"Thank you very much, Madame, for your very kind interest. Be
assured I will do nothing rashly. What do you say, captain?"

_Capt._--"Why I must say, Madam, every day I live with you ladies adds
to my wonderment. You are no ladies, but brave fine warriors, and
nothing will daunt you. There is not a man in the world has such a soul
as she has," pointing to Schillie. "I'll wager my mither's silver punch
bowl that she's afraid of nothing. You can fire a gun, no doubt, Ma'am?"

_Oscar._--"Yes, to be sure, and a pistol too, and she can load them
also."

_Capt._ (gazing at her with great admiration).--"Well then, she's as
good as another man. There will be Smart and her, and as you must go
quietly, they will be quite enough."

The three girls exclaimed, "But we want to go, captain; we don't fear
anything, and we will be very brave. If you show us how to fire off a
gun, we will do it."

_Schillie._--"Pooh, pooh, girls. I should like to know what peace and
quiet there would be with you three magpies after us."

_Mother._--"I don't see the advantage of going quietly; though I hope we
shall do so peaceably. I think the larger the party the better; and I
therefore propose that Hargrave and Jenny cook the dinner wanted here,
and by that means Benjie can be spared, who will be very useful, as he
is acquainted with the bush and all the things about these places of
which we are ignorant. Therefore, let Smart and Benjie go first, you
next, then the three girls and Oscar and I will bring up the rear."

Schillie was about making a remonstrance, when we were interrupted by a
burst of weeping, most outrageous in its noise; and, between sobs and
passion, Felix blurted forth his indignation and disappointment at not
being included in the party. Taking him up from the ground, where he had
thrown himself in his passion, the good captain tried to console
him--"Come now, come, my little man, don't fret so. Don't you know we
want you here. How could the dear little girls and the good old lady do
without such a grand protector as you."

_Felix_ (blubbering).--"I hate taking care of girls, they do such silly
work, and I won't take care of Madame; and if lions and tigers come,
they may kill them themselves, for I won't do it for any of them."

Even the too indulgent Mother could not help laughing at the absurdity
of such a frit killing tigers and lions, looking not much bigger than an
impudent monkey. Fresh tears followed the universal laughter. "Well
then, my man," continued the captain, "you shall come on board with me.
I want a very clever active hand to help me."

_Felix._--"I hate the ship, and I won't go on board. She is a nasty
creature, and nearly drowned us all."

This impudence was too much for the captain, so he put him down with an
ejaculation, "Ech! but you're a fashious bairn;" and how long he might
have continued to roar we know not, but between his tears his eye
suddenly caught sight of the cow, who, either intoxicated by all the
fresh sweet grass she had eaten, or having risen in particularly good
spirits, was indulging in a series of antics, equally ludicrous and
unbecoming in such a sober creature. With the tears rolling down his
cheeks, he clapped his hands and shouted with glee. Smart took advantage
of the favourable moment, and said, in a commanding voice, "Sir, I'll
thank you to catch us some fish to-day; they are jumping in
buckets-full, and we shall want some supper agin we return."

This restored the smiles, and, with rod in hand, away he went in
happiest spirits; and ere we were ready to depart, such was the change
in the state of his feelings, that he privately confided to his brother,
he thought him a great muff to go toiling up the rocks instead of
stopping with him to catch the fish that were jumping about, almost
asking to be taken out.

The captain gave us many orders and directions, charged Smart and Benjie
with innumerable cautions, and finally dismissed us with hearty good
wishes and fervent hopes for our safe return. Madame was too much
agitated to speak, and could only wave her adieus. Jenny and Hargrave,
who were assisting in our preparations, each in their own way expressed
their feelings. The former declaring she would be glad of a quiet day to
get through a lot of washing, the latter grumbling that the young ladies
would spoil their clothes and get them torn, while both had indistinct
visions of snakes and dragons snapping us up, lions and tigers leaving
only our bones as sad memorials, savages or monsters running away with
us! Fortified by these ideas, we emerged from the tent, properly
equipped, and then had to take leave of the little girls. Their notions
all tended towards the pleasurable kind, and had we been in a civilized
place, spectators might have imagined we were starting for a good day's
shopping in London or elsewhere, provided they had interpreted the young
ladies' wishes as toys and not real live creatures. "I'll thank you to
bring me a monkey and some grapes," said Felix. "I also wish for a
monkey," said Winny. "No, no, Winny," said Zoë, "don't have a monkey,
they smell so. Let us have each a parrot." "Oh yes, yes, a parrot. Bring
Zoë a green one and me a blue one," said Winny, "A blue one, you stupid
girl," said Oscar, "there never was a blue one in all the world." "Then
I will have a yellow one; red parrots are so common and vulgar," Lilly
said, "but whatever you do, mind and bring us some cocoa-nuts." We
promised to do our best, and started, not in the order I proposed, but
with Benjie in the rear. Hard work it was, and many times did we stop,
pretending to admire the view, watching the dear ones below, answering
their signals, but only with an object to gain breath for fresh
exertions. It took us quite an hour and a half to get to the top, during
which we frightened innumerable quantities of birds, and disturbed a
vast number of lizards. The latter alarmed some of us very much, and
they turned their large serious odd eyes upon us as if in wonderment at
our appearance, gliding so imperceptibly from our sight, that it seemed
as if they dissolved in air. Once at the top, we sat down to rest and
eat, for, by the captain's advice, we determined not to stir during the
hot part of the day. We of course had the dogs with us, but they were
kept to heel by Smart, to avoid rousing any enemy. After cooling
ourselves, and recovering our breath, we had leisure to examine the
exquisite beauty of everything around us. Anything like the trees with
the foliage of every shade of green, and creepers with stems as thick as
the trees in our country could not be imagined. Whatever fears the girls
might have had, they seemed all to have vanished; and they sat talking
and laughing with the same glee and unconcern as if they had been in the
garden at home. During the noise they were making, we had not perceived
that Benjie had left us. Presently he returned with a vine clinging
round him, covered with ripe luscious grapes. We were enchanted, and had
only one drawback, that we could not send any one below. Madame would
have enjoyed them so much, and it was so hot on the shore, compared to
the breeze we were enjoying. Benjie, comprehending our words, said, "Hi,
Benjie, cook that for them, hi, Benjie, first-rate good cook, and send a
pye-grape down to Miss Winny." Miss Winny was his pet, because when the
little girls with more openness and candour than civility, expressed
their horror of a black cook, Winny had endeavoured to soften the matter
as much as possible, declaring that even if he had a black face he had
whiter teeth than anybody else, and she was sure that if he could he
would have washed himself long ago, "Besides," she ended, "he is so kind
and gentle, that I am sure his mind and soul are white." Benjie
understood quite enough to make him Winny's slave for life.

He soon returned to us with some enormous gourds. The girls jumped up in
delight, and Gatty seizing hold of one, attempted to carry it--suddenly
she uttered a shriek, dropped her gourd, and ran behind us all; a large
green lizard peeped out of a hole in the gourd, and peering about for a
few moments, finally crawled out, followed by innumerable little ones,
who disappeared like magic in the grass. Nothing would induce Gatty to
touch the gourd again, Benjie soon scooped one out, and, putting green
leaves inside, filled it with grapes, and, covering the hole with some
strong shiny green leaves, gathered from a tree close by, he gave a
shout, using his favourite word "Hi!" Not only did the sky become dark
with the clouds of birds which arose at that unearthly cry, but various
noises in the bushes made us huddle together in fear and alarm. However,
it effected his object, and we could see them eagerly, and apparently in
alarm, looking up from below. Benjie showed every tooth in his head,
and, swinging his gourd round and round, he sent it bounding down from
point to point, until it fell as if on purpose, nearer to little Winny
than any of the other spectators. Nevertheless, as might be expected,
Benjie's "pie-grape" was somewhat damaged in its descent. We, however,
sent them some more, and a note inside one, to say we were all merry and
well, and greeted them right lovingly.

It was now time to move on, Smart took Oscar up and seated him on his
shoulders, saying, "Now, Sir, keep watch up there, and if you see
anything coming just let me know, and, particklarly, a beere, Sir, I
have a notion I should like to kill a beere ere I die." Oscar promised
faithfully, and added, "But I shall not tell you of an elephant, as I
want to shoot that myself." "As you please, Sir," said the willing
Smart, "but I will keep my gun ready in case you misses him."

The point we were aiming for was the highest part of the island;
hitherto we had great difficulty in forcing our way, though we all used
our hatchets without remorse, Gatty bestowing much unnecessary labour in
the matter. We were beginning to think our adventure rather stupid; not
a sign of any animal had we seen, great or small, no dragons, no
griffins, no snakes, no anything. Our dissatisfaction might soon have
found words, had not Oscar, from his elevated seat, called vehemently on
Smart to stop. "What is it, Sir, a beere or a helephant?" "Go back,
Smart, just under that tree. Now then stop, stand steady, while I
scramble up here. I thought so, look! look! did you ever see anything so
droll." So saying, he pulled out from the branches of a huge tree two
quiet, wise-looking parrots, not quite fledged, that were seated side by
side in a hole in the tree. They did not seem in the least discomposed,
but gazed on us with great gravity. "They are neither blue nor yellow,
but dear mother, they will just do for the little girls. Pray let me
take them home." I was very loathe to give leave, I could not help
thinking somebody might be only in the next bush, ready to take away my
nestlings. Everybody added their entreaties, so it was agreed as we must
return the way we came, if we found them again we would politely request
their company home with us.

So that matter being settled, Smart resumed his burden, warning his
young master to be more quiet in his next announcement, if he had
nothing better to encounter than a nest of parrots. We found grapes in
every direction. Benjie also showed us the Banana tree, gave us a
perfect volume of his discovering yams, and danced with glee before a
small plantation of sugar canes. Yet all this time we saw no living
thing but birds. We were enchanted with the flowers, their size and
colour were beyond all description, at last we came to an open glade,
and through this ran the stream, which fell over the cliffs into the
sea. The trees were gigantic, and Benjie in his broken English,
endeavoured to describe them all to us, telling us their Indian names,
and their qualifications. Here following the stream a little way, we
peeped over the precipice, and by the help of glasses I saw all our
belongings at dinner, our feeble shouts were of course unheard, and now
for the first time, we heard a noise, a rustling in the bushes. I turned
pale, Sybil, Gatty, and Serena ran to each other. Schillie raised her
gun and looked at the bushes with a determined eye. We all stood
breathless. It came nearer and nearer, the bushes absolutely crashed
with the sound. It could be nothing but an elephant, or rather a dozen
of them. At the distance of a few hundred yards was a gigantic tree. To
our amazement this tree, without a breath of wind to stir a leaf, shook
and trembled in every branch, sometimes it waved with a solemn and slow
motion, and again it was agitated in the most violent manner. Benjie
fell flat on his face, apparently in a fit, as we stood transfixed with
amazement. Smart, whose courage rose with the excitement, signed to the
dogs to go forward. They nothing loathe, sprang into the bushes, and
made straight for the tree. It quivered no more; but a dreadful howl
from one of the dogs, bespoke something horrible. The other fleeing
before some enemy, for we heard him yelling with fear, and the sound
gradually died away, as did the crashing and noise, we had heard before.
We waited some minutes in silence, when Smart asked Oscar in a low voice
if he could see anything. "Nothing" was the boy's reply. "Get down then,
Sir, and let me see what ails blacky." For a black man it was strange to
see how livid Benjie was, and he trembled in every limb. "Come, come,
Snow-balls," said Smart, "what are you quaking about?" "Me dead wid
fear, masser Smart." "You need not tell me that, you sneak," muttered
Smart, "come get up, and let's go to yon tree, and see if the old
gentleman holds court there." "No, no masser Smart, please ma'am, do
ma'am, I dead, I dead." "But what is it, Benjie, that frightens you so?"
said I. "Oh! ma'am, dat no elephant, dat no bear. Good elephant, good
bear to that. It some horrid thing, great big monkey, or worse and worse
great big snake." "Well it's gone now, whatever it do be, old hero, so
get up, and come along, I am going to see what's there." "I'll go too,
Smart," said Schillie, "leave the boy behind." They went slowly and
cautiously, but presently called on us to come. We obeyed, and after
passing thro' the hedge of thick underwood that was before us, we came
to a beautiful open glade, sloping down in smooth banks or terraces to a
little lake, from whence flowed the stream so often mentioned. The south
and west sides of this valley were closed in with precipitate rocks,
and the most conspicuous object in this lovely spot, was the large tree,
whose extraordinary motions, had so bewildered us. Smart and Schillie
were underneath it. "Did you ever see such a glorious fellow," said
Schillie, pointing to the tree. "H'd cut into a sight of timber," said
Smart, whose manners were fast acquiring the familiarity and sociability
consequent upon our being so intimately connected in various ways, since
our misfortunes. I never saw such a tree, but we all looked at it, with
awe, expecting it to begin again its mysterious movements. There was a
disagreeable odour pervading the air, that made us feel sick. Nothing
however was to be seen, broken branches, and the mark of some large
creature might be traced all about the place. Smart whistled for his
dogs, but they either did not hear him, or as he feared, they must have
been killed. We soon returned to where we had left Benjie, quite amazed
at the beauty of the place, but bewildered with the strangeness of this
event, and the total disappearance of both enemy and dogs. Finding him
still overcome, we decided to prosecute our searches no further, after
we had made one excursion up to the top of the cliff, when there, we had
a full and perfect view of the whole island, which appeared about three
miles across, four long, and about thirteen miles round. It seemed
bathed in tranquil peaceful beauty, we saw no movement, heard no sound,
and but for the unseen enemy, we should have supposed that excepting
birds, we were the only living things on the island. We now began to be
weary, and foot sore, so we gladly turned our faces homewards, the
descent being much more speedy than the ascent, as might be supposed. We
could get nothing out of Benjie, more than groans and bewailings. We
picked up the two little parrots, loaded ourselves with fruit and
flowers, and curiosities, and it might have been imagined that we had
been absent years, from the welcome that was given us on our return.
Never was such a noisy supper, or so much talking, but the captain was
quite puzzled at learning that we had seen nothing alive, and he looked
grave and serious at hearing the adventure about the tree. The children
had been so occupied tasting all the different fruits and luxuries we
had brought home, that they had forgotten the blue and yellow parrots.
Oscar had said nothing about them, but now supper being over, the
excitement a little quelled, the talking rather subdued, he ran to a
little hole in the rock, and hiding the birds with his cap, his bright
eyes and radiant smile showed he had more pleasure in store for them.
How delighted they were, when they were at last allowed a peep, what
earnest requests from every one, that they might have them for their
own. "How can that be," said Oscar, "here you are, three girls, and
there are only two parrots, and I spied them out, so I ought to have one
at least." "Then may I have the other," said the three little girls at
once. "No," said Felix, "I must have it. We are lords of the creation
and ought to be served before you girls."

"Oh! master Felix," whispered Jenny, "for shame, sir, ladies are always
served first, real gentlemen always give way to ladies." "Well! but,
Jenny, how can they all three have it, I'd like to know, besides it
looks so wise at me, I know it will love me best. Let mama decide," said
Oscar, "yes, yes, yes," said each little girl, and each came flying with
an eager petition to where we all sat. "Oh," said Schillie, "humph, so
you are fighting about the parrots, for my part (peeping into the nest),
I have always heard that parrots make a capital pie." "Oh, oh, oh,
little mother, how cruel you are." We laughed at this dismay, and Gatty
said, "yes, I'll crunch their bones like Grumbo the giant." But the
captain made amends for our cruelty, and if he had had his own way,
would have marched up instantly in search of three more parrots; luckily
the darkness came on so quickly that we were all obliged to make
preparation for retiring, Felix being fixed on as the fortunate
possessor of the other parrot, partly because I did not like to single
out one little girl more than another, and partly because Oscar wished
it. Besides the captain promised the little girls a perfect flock of
parrots the first opportunity. So we all bid each other good night,
Felix as the last thing, giving Jenny a practical proof that her lessons
were not thrown away, by declaring that she must put the girls to bed
before him, as ladies were to be served first.

With grateful hearts, we slept soundly and rose refreshed.



CHAPTER X.


It was so hot down on the sands that we agreed to move half way up the
cliff, where a cool breeze from the sea blew morning and evening. The
brook fell over a shelf of rock, about ten feet in depth, and then lay
calm and quiet in a fair round pool. Two or three palms were on one side
and a large Spanish chestnut on the other, giving us ample shade. We had
a lovely view of the whole bay, and were, as we thought, quite secure
from any dangers above, the rock being very precipitate, but the dogs
never came home, which gave us very great uneasiness. While the others
were busily employed running up and down to bring our goods and
chattels, to the new abode, I, and the two little girls arranged them as
they were brought up. They were merrily singing on one side of the
brook, clearing a place for the tent to be placed, while I, on the
other, was arranging seats for a dining place. Suddenly the song ceased
abruptly. Looking up to see the cause, as well as that of a sudden
crashing noise, I saw the little girls gazing in speechless amazement at
the great chestnut tree, and again, without apparent cause, I beheld the
huge branches shake and quiver like an aspen tree in the storm. I sprang
across the stream, and stood before the little girls. From between the
branches there appeared and disappeared a horrible head, with glittering
eyes and forked tongue, and, as I gazed still more the whole tree seemed
to me to be enveloped in the folds of an enormous serpent.

The little girls now began to utter shriek upon shriek, which brought
Serena with the speed of a lapwing to our side. "Take the children
away," I whispered, "fly, fly, quickly." "Run, little ones, run," she
said, feeling there was danger, but hardly realizing the full horrors of
it. They obeyed her, and, as their little forms appeared from behind us,
fleeing for their lives, the monster looked out still further from the
groaning tree, his diamond eyes fixed upon their receding frames.

Fold after fold seemed rapidly unwinding from the branches. In the agony
of the moment Serena flung a hatchet she had in her hand at the head she
now for the first time saw. A frightful hiss, and a loathsome and deadly
odour, told us it had taken effect. Again it coiled itself round the
tree, which rocked and groaned with its furious movements. Faint with
fear and the horrible smell, I knew not my own voice, as I said to
Serena, "Fly, child, fly, and send help; and you also." She said, "Nay,
one must stay, it must have one victim to save the others." "No, no, let
us both go, I will not go without you, Serena, I command you go, it
comes nearer and nearer." "No, no, I will die with you." She threw her
arms round me, burying her face in my neck, to avoid seeing the dreadful
jaws opening so near us. I flung her off, and thought would it not be
better for us to be dashed to pieces over the rocks than to be grasped
in those deadly coils. "We will both fly," I said; we turned and fled. I
looked behind; he was not more than thirty yards from us. I tried to
shout and scare him with my voice, but all sound died away in my throat.
My heart seemed to stop beating; my utterance to be choked. Everything
seemed to be moving with the same angry springing motion of the snake.
Nothing stopped our flight; heedless of every impediment we bounded over
stones, bushes, gulleys, rocks; but each glance showed him advancing. We
now came to an open smooth platform of turf, from whence I knew there
was a precipitous fall of twenty feet, unless we hit upon the right spot
to descend. "We must throw ourselves down," I whispered. "Anywhere with
you," she answered, "but, oh horrible fate, was that another monster
just before us or the same?" No, there was but one, he was before us,
round us, everywhere; and he knew he had us safe, for his eyes grew
larger and more glowing as he bounded and leaped on every side of us,
each bound and each leap bringing him nearer. Was there no escape? Yes,
almost before I saw it myself the monster's quick eye has discerned two
horns rising with the sloping ground, and with one bound which threw us
both down, he darted forward. A rushing deadly wind seemed to blow over
us, and, ere it was past, the crashing bones, and dying bellow of the
cow gave us warning of the horrible fate from which she had saved us.

We helped each other to rise, and scrambling down the rock, we never
stopped or spoke until we sunk breathless by the tents, where the little
girls had only just arrived. But it was many minutes ere we could tell
the frightful scene going on above. We clung together and all drew
within the tent, while Smart went to summon the captain. The poisonous
breath of the monstrous creature made Serena and myself the victims of
successive fainting fits, we had the greatest difficulty in swallowing
anything, and only revived under the influence of strong salts, and
constant fanning. Our features assumed the paleness of death, and a cold
dew rolled in large drops from our foreheads. The moment we raised our
heads dreadful sickness overcame us, and when the captain and his men
arrived, we were totally unable to give any particulars beyond the
creature being monstrous and the cow destroyed. The captain desired
every one to keep as quiet as possible, and directed the sides of the
tent to be raised to give us air and our faces and heads to be sponged
with cold vinegar and water. He entreated no one to be alarmed as the
serpent would not leave his prey, and might be a day or two swallowing
it, during which time we were quite safe. And afterwards in his gorged
state he would be an easy victim. Towards evening Benjie crept up as
near the spot as he dared, and came down reporting the snake was still
occupied in reducing the poor cow to a shapeless mass, and had not even
begun to swallow his intended meal. Even his dark skin shewed the fear
and horror he was in, his look being quite pallid, and his eyeballs
livid, his teeth chattering. He declared the snake to be the most
monstrous of its kind ever seen, and called it an anaconda. On the
second evening the captain, Smart, and Benjie all went cautiously up.
When they returned the good captain seemed unable to express his mixed
feelings, amazement at its large size, horror at what might have been
our fate, thankfulness at our merciful escape, all overcame him. He
could only wring our hands, and loudly and earnestly thank God.

After a while he took the two little girls in his arms, and said, "Oh!
my darlings, my little precious ones, had you found a horrible grave in
those dreadful jaws, swallowed as if you had been two little innocent
lambs, I must have laid my head on the nearest stone, and burst my heart
with sorrow." Smart openly blubbered like a great school boy as he
described to Oscar, "that it was the awfullest worm he ever seed, and
that the poor cow was nothing but a bloody, broken mass enough to break
the heart of a toad in a stone." It had only swallowed half its meal,
and the tail was still so active and full of muscular movement that the
captain did not deem it safe to try to destroy it till the next evening.

He particularly requested Schillie and every body that could, to come up
and see the creature before the men cut it up, saying, they might live
one thousand years, and never see such a sight again. So they all set
off, leaving Serena and I to the care of Hargrave, who declared that if
St. George and the Dragon were fighting up above, she would not leave
her mistress to see them. Schillie came back very soon, and folded me in
her arms, while the tears rained down her cheeks; not a word said she,
but so unusual a sight told me all she felt.

Bye and bye all came down, poor Madame clasping her hands, invoking
blessings and showering kisses on her pupil Serena. The little ones were
in full fuss, especially the two who had first seen the snake, and who
now detailed all their fears and feelings at full length. "Mama," said
Felix, "I gave him a good kick with my thick nailed boots for daring to
think of eating you." Gatty, from a similar feeling, had indulged
herself with chopping the tail into little bits, and even the gentle and
sweet Sybil had bestowed some very hard words, let alone blows, on the
inanimate body. "Well! now then," said I, "captain, I wish to go on
board as soon as possible." "Why? why? why?" sounded on all sides.
"Because there may be more of these snakes on the island," said I, with
a shudder.

"No, Madam, no, you may rest assured, the only enemy you have on this
island is now dead. I can assure you I have until now been much puzzled
to account for the lack of living things on this luxuriant and lonely
island, save birds. The sight of this anaconda has solved the mystery;
he has depopulated it (if I may so say) of every creeping or four-footed
thing. Nay, I am also certain it has destroyed its own kind too. By
what means it became of so monstrous a size I know not; but, having
become so, it was lord or master of the island; moreover, I am certain
that of late its food has run extremely short; nothing but extreme
hunger could have driven it down those sharp rocks, in search of us, the
prey it saw below it." In many places it was bleeding besides the wound
given it by the hatchet, and three or four inches of skin had been
rubbed off in various parts, evidently quite fresh, and done in descent.
Also, if it had not been weakened for want of food, such an enormous
creature would not have been so long demolishing the cow.

"But, captain, can you account for its making all those hideous gambols
at us, and not springing at us directly as it did at poor Daisy." "Yes,
Madam, it had never seen the likes of you before. Your clothes made it
fearful; but they never attack people unless angry or frantic from
hunger, as I am sure he was. But, to set you at rest, Madam, to-morrow,
spite of all my anxiety about the ship, every man of us will join
parties, and we will go from one end of the island to another. We'll not
leave a bush unexplored, or a corner unvisited, and then I know your
mind will be easy." "I thank you, captain, that it will. Now, give the
men each some grog, for I see them coming down, and let us all have
supper and go to bed."



CHAPTER XI.


So we accordingly did, and long ere we were awake in the morning the
captain and all his men, including Smart and Oscar, had departed to
execute his plans. We busied ourselves in preparing them a good supper
against their return; we had also all a dip in the sea, in a little
natural bath in the rocks, where no sharks could get at us. Finally, not
without misgivings, we all went up to look once more on the anaconda.
That evening, if they returned in time, it was to be skinned; the shiny,
scaly covering being to be preserved as a memorial of the event, and the
loathsome remains were to be thrown to the sharks. While we were
standing looking at its huge length, we heard shouts from above, and saw
the exploring party coming home. They soon joined us, the captain
delighted at being able to say that a large rat seemed our only wild
beast while Smart grumbled, and said he "did not think there was a beere
on the hisland." They had done as they promised, and not left a part of
the island unvisited.

They brought us home quantities of grapes, prickly pears, yams, bananas,
cocoa-nuts, with what would have been magnificent flowers but the hot
tropical climate withered them almost as soon as gathered. Oscar and
Smart seemed to have some great secrets between them, and, after keeping
Felix and the little girls in suspense for some time, Smart put his hand
into his pocket, and brought out a tiny, little, droll-looking monkey.
Shrieks of delight were heard, Felix exclaiming above all, "Oh give him
to me, let him be mine; oh the darling fellow." The little creature,
with its wild sorrowful eyes, looked from one face to the other, and, at
last, making a spring, it jumped into Felix's arms, and, nestling its
little head in his pinafore, grinned at everybody, as much as to say,
"Now, I don't care for you." Felix was by no means backward in returning
this spontaneous affection, spite of the little girls' civil remark
"that he was so like a monkey the little thing took him for his father
and mother."

We went to rest all very happy and contented, and enjoyed a week of the
merriest gipsy life that could be imagined. Both the parrots and the
monkey were getting quite familiar, and at home with us, taking to their
education comfortably.

At the end of that time, after the young ones had gone to bed, the
captain asked me how we liked this life? There was not a dissentient
voice. "Then," said he, "I think this a favourable opportunity to
propose a plan to you; it has been in my mind for some days. I only
waited until I saw whether it would be as agreeable, as it seems to me
inevitable." We waited in breathless expectation. He looked round us all
as he said, "How would you like staying here another six weeks?" "Very
much indeed! Beyond every thing. It is just what we wanted. It would be
most jolly." Schillie wound up by saying, "It is extremely stupid, and I
should not like it at all." "Would _you_ not?" said the captain, with
kind concern, laying great stress on the you; "Oh but ye must, I'd never
take ye to sea, and La Luna in such a leaky state." "What, captain, how!
pray explain yourself." "Well, if I must tell the truth, the more we
have examined the ship the more fearful are we to trust you all on board
of her." Heaps of voices now interrupted the captain. "But what are we
to do? How are we to get away? We don't want to stay here for ever. That
would be too much of a good thing." "Silence, girls," said I, "do let us
hear what the captain proposes." "This is my proposal then, Madam.
Emptied of her cargo, and with as few hands in her as possible, La Luna
will run nicely to St. Domingo, or some of the parts lying to the
westward, and belonging to South America; and, even should she fail, we
men can take to the boat, and, at all events make for some place, where
we can procure a vessel to come for you." "But La Luna won't sink,
surely we shall not lose her; we don't want any ship but her. Don't you
know how you love her yourself, captain?" "So I do! so I do! young
ladies, and I am fain to allow it's as much for her sake as yours, that
I want to take her to some port to get properly repaired. She has
strained so much that her ribs are quite bent, and, lying as she does,
exposed to this hot sun, her seams are bursting asunder in all
directions. She is too much damaged for us to repair, so as to make it
safe for you to go in her. Therefore, Madam, will you let me take her
empty to St. Domingo, where I will immediately charter a vessel for your
use, and leave La Luna in dock to be repaired against we come for her."
"But, supposing anything was to happen; supposing she was to founder and
all hands be lost, what would become of us?" "I would not have proposed
such a scheme, Madam, did I not feel sure there would be no danger of
such a thing happening; and, any way, it is better you should be left on
this island, for the chance of a ship coming this way, than liable to go
down to the bottom of the sea, without the power of man to save you." "I
am not so sure of that, captain, I think I should prefer all sinking or
swimming together." "At any rate, Madam," added the captain, "having
unburdened my mind, I'll leave you to sleep over the matter. Tak time to
consider, and let me know your wull in the morning."



CHAPTER XII.


Not all the taking time to consider, "nor all the morns" that ever came
reconciled Schillie to the captain's plan. For my part I liked it, and
am free to own that I entered into all the fun, and oddities the young
ones proposed to themselves in living for six weeks _al fresco_. Madame
had great misgivings about the matter. She did not think lessons would
prosper; the cultivation of ladylike behaviour would be very
difficult--manners would be at a very low ebb--music would be utterly
abolished, and she was fast approaching a declaration on Schillie's
side, when Serena, by a master-stroke of policy, brought her round. "We
will speak any language you like, Madame," said she, "whatever we are
doing, we can always speak in the language you order us." "So you can,
my love," said Madame, most benignantly, "so I desire at once that you
speak French, Mondays and Thursdays; Italian, Tuesdays and Fridays;
German, Wednesdays and Saturdays."

"Oh come, come," said Gatty, "that's too bad, how am I ever to get all
the nonsense, that is in my head, out if I am only to talk English on
Sundays."

"My dear! you ought to have no nonsense in your head."

"But there it is, Madame, and you will be very angry if I break the
Sabbath, by making puns and guessing jokes all Sunday."

"My dear Gertrude, your spirits carry you quite too far."

"Then think, Madame, what they will be on Sundays if my spirits are
corked up all the other six days."

"I have not the least objection to your making puns either in French,
Italian, or German."

"You're extremely kind, Madame, and I should feel most grateful for such
kind permission, had I the least perception how I can profit by it."

"It is my wish that you all should understand those languages equally as
well as your own."

"I have no doubt, Madame, that you will always be able to wish us such
proficiency."

"No doubt, my dear child, no doubt, and that is the only drawback to my
pleasure on the voyage, namely the number of interruptions and constant
holidays you obtain."

"You are a pert young lady, Miss Gatty," said Schillie, "and had better
leave the Mother to settle with Madame; come with me and let us see what
fish the boys have got for supper."

I promised Madame that regular school should be held every day, and our
conversation was put an end to, by the arrival of the captain. He wanted
the assistance of every body, to get La Luna afloat that evening; with
infinite trouble this was done, and we were all worn out with heat and
fatigue by tea-time. But La Luna floated once more, and looked as lovely
and graceful on the water. We were quite enchanted with her appearance.
At tea, I proposed to the captain, that when he did leave us, he should
take Smart and Benjie with him, instead of their remaining with us, for
I had found out from the maids, and the boys, that the captain was very
anxious to have them, being doubtful about managing the ship with so few
men, and it was agreed that they could be of no use to us, as we were
exposed to no dangers, and they would be of infinite use to the captain,
and ensure his return much sooner; much therefore to Smart's disgust it
was decided that he was to be exposed once more to what he called "a
ship-wrecked life." Schillie grew more reconciled to our being left on
hearing this idea for she immediately took upon herself the care of us
all, and the responsibility put her into some spirits on the subject. I
asked when they meant to leave us. "The sooner the better," said she,
"for then they will be the sooner back again." The captain said nothing,
but he lingered over his tea, and told us so many things that we were to
do, and to guard against, and seemed so low and oppressed, that I
thought he was ill, or had over-worked himself. But he declared he was
quite well, though he still repeated the same things, and he kissed and
wished the little girls good-bye so often that they began to joke with
him about his absence of mind. We were also all so tired, we longed to
get to bed, yet he still sipped his tea, having had, as Sybil, the
tea-maker whispered, eleven cups. "And horrible stuff it is without any
milk," whispered Gatty back again, "I wonder at his taste." I began to
be quite affected by his manner, while the others yawned, and yawned,
until I thought all their jaws would be broken. Suddenly the darkness
came on, as it always did, at once, and he was roused from his musings
by eager good nights. His voice sounded rather strange as he returned
our salutations, while the children declared his face was wet with
tears. Schillie and I wondered to ourselves what could be the matter
with him, as we undressed, the children noisily felicitating themselves
that every body was obliged to go to bed at the same time that they
were. But we were too weary to think much about it. It was not until
early morning, when rising and opening the tent door, I looked out again
to see the lovely scene we had admired so much the evening before. But
did my eyes deceive me! Was I awake? Where was that object which had
excited our admiration so much? I uttered a cry. Schillie ran to me; all
awoke, and started from their beds. Every eye was strained, but what
tongue could be the first to say that La Luna was gone; far away we
could see her distant sails against the clear blue sky; we were alone,
alone.



CHAPTER XIII.


All was explained now that had seemed to us extraordinary in our kind
captain's conduct the evening before, and as we hurried down to the
beach half in hopes not to find every one gone, we found at the usual
dining place, a packet of papers put in a conspicuous situation,
evidently meant to attract our notice. In this was a note from the
captain, apologizing for departing in such a secret manner, but
declaring that unless he had stolen away he could not have left us. That
it was of such importance he should go and return ere the rainy season
commenced, he could not even afford a day, and that he knew, however
cheerful I might talk about the matter, my heart would misgive me, when
the time came for him to leave, I might not probably grant him
permission to go, when it was of the most vital importance he should. He
was right in his last conjecture, the dread that came over me, as I read
his letter, and looked at our helpless party, made me feel how truly he
had judged me, tho' I so little knew it myself. The other papers
consisted of directions, lists of what he had left, and where they were
put. Also an account, written from Benjie's lips, as to what trees and
fruits might be poisonous, what we had better avoid, and particular
orders about the night air, the musquitos; in fact he seems to have left
nothing for us to think of, and the papers wound up with many sweet
messages to the children, and the dear young ladies, a characteristic
speech to Schillie, a hope that the good old lady would not be nervous,
or keep the children too long at their lessons, which was a bad thing in
hot climates, and a very urgent appeal to all to be careful of her,
whose heart was wrapped up in their happiness, to whom the breath of
life came ebbing and flowing, according to the welfare and goodness of
her precious charge.

There was a letter from Smart to the boys as follows, the spelling being
corrected:--


"HONOURED YOUNG GENTS,

"I hope this will find you, as it leaves me, in good health, but very
low in my spirits. I hope you will be good honourable young gentlemen,
and obey that good lady, your Mama; and also I hope you will learn your
lessons, as a sight of learning is a good thing, tho' I don't rightly
know who speaks them lingos as Madame talks. But, chiefly, my dear young
gents, I write to say, I am very low in my spirits, and I shall have no
peace until I see my dear young masters again. I have been very
melancholy ever since that big worm swallowed my two dogs, and I now
feel it more, as I should not have left you so uneasy in mind had they
been left with you. They were rale good dogs, and would mind you,
master Oscar, most as well as me. I am satisfied of one thing, that
there is no beere in the hisland, and you won't be eat up, and certainly
there never can be another such viper as that there, as took two dogs,
swallowing Daisy. But I write, young gents, to beg you to be careful,
and to mind them sharks; I have heard they swallow all things, and are
particular fond of bright buttons, and jackets like yours, young
masters, and also I have heard they have nine rows of teeth, so there
will be no escape, like Jonah in the whale's belly. Now I charge you to
be careful, woe's me, that ever I be going to leave you. My heart is
just broke, but do, master Oscar, be good to your little brother, and
don't put on him. He has a high spirit, and it is no doubt cantankerous,
but he must be honourably treated, and there's never a finer temper to
be seed.

"Well, my hand is weary of this cramping, tho' I have a deal more to
say. My respectful duty to the mistress and all the ladies, and my love
to the little ladies and Jane. My compliments to Mrs. Hargrave. May good
angels guard my dear young masters.

                    "Your true sorrowful servant till death,
                                                        "T. SMART."


Leaving the others still to pore over the letters and directions, I
wandered away to a shady nook, to recover the shock, only now _did_ it
weigh upon my mind, what a responsibility rested on my shoulders, and,
for a time, I was quite overcome with the fears that took possession of
my heart. How long I sat I know not, but a hand was laid on my arm,
interrupting my reverie. "For what reasonable purpose are you moping
here?" said Schillie. "I am very melancholy," I answered. "There is such
a weight on my heart, I cannot think how I ever suffered the captain to
leave." "And in the name of all that is ridiculous why did you not stop
him when you could? Now that it has become impossible, like a spoilt
child you are crying for them all back again."

"Don't speak so roughly, Schillie, I am sad enough without being
upbraided by you."

"I don't want to upbraid you, but you were so bent on humouring the
children it was no use talking common sense to you; otherwise I could
have suggested plenty of notions better than leaving a pack of women and
children alone on this wretched little island, dull as ditch water."

"Then pray mention one."

"Why what could be more easy, than for us all to wait together, until
some vessel came by, and getting them to take us away or take a
message?"

"You adjured me in the name of all that is ridiculous, pray may I ask in
the name of all that's sensible why you did not mention this before?"

"Because I saw you so bent on your own plans, and because I don't
particularly care what happens so long as I am with you, and lastly
because it has only just come into my head."

"Well, then, don't scold me any more, but comfort, me, Schillie." "With
all my heart, should anything happen to us, it will be a great comfort
to think that the captain will come and take away our bones to England,
and give them decent burial."

"How cruel you are, Schillie."

"But I am quite in the dark as to what you expect will happen; you are
crying your eyes out for some misfortune, but, unless you tell me what
you fear, how can I comfort you?"

"I fear so many things; here we are all alone, without a single
efficient person amongst us." "Pray speak for yourself."

"Well! then, only you with a spark of courage amongst us; and we don't
know what may be here."

"Now, that's nonsense, you know that there is scarcely a fly on the
island that will do you harm."

"Well, then, those sharks!"

"And, who is going to walk into the mouth of a shark, I should be glad
to know?"

"Nobody, certainly, but supposing a ship should come?"

"Then, we should have company, and a mighty good thing too. I think the
society of women and children very mawkish for a continuance."

"But, then, supposing they should not be friends."

"Then that will be their own faults, we are not likely to quarrel with
them."

"Stupid you are, Schillie! Don't you understand that they may take
advantage of such a helpless party, and, if they are slavers may seize
us, and sell us for slaves, and, if they are marauders or pirates they
may murder or marry us!!!"

"Well! of those two latter fates one is as bad the other. But, I will
comfort you by saying, nobody will want to marry you with that red nose.
Really if you go on fretting in this manner, you'll wear yourself into
an old hag. I see grey hairs and wrinkles springing up like mushrooms."

"Now, I'll return good for evil, and tell you that I never saw you
looking so well; your eyes are quite dazzling, and, as for your figure,
it has become slim and handsome."

"You may amuse yourself as you like about my dumpy figure, so long as
you smile and are merry; but, come, wash your face in the brook, and let
us join the rest. If the girls were to see you with that face they would
screech beyond stopping; and, as for Madame, she would go into such a
fit we should never be able to bring her round."

So I washed my face, but, in the middle of the business, said Schillie,
"You never told me what we should do if pirates and slaves come?"

"Do! Why, of course we would do the best we could. Wait till they come,
and then see if we don't do something. For my part I am not going to be
sold for a slave, and, as for a pirate's wife, there will be two words
about that matter. I don't intend to darn any one's stockings, and I
hate ordering dinner, both of which events occur, I suppose, in the
establishments of pirates, as well as more homely folk. Come, don't be
absurd, we have only six weeks to stay here, and we'll enjoy ourselves
as much as we can."

"Very well, I won't bother you any more, but we will join the others,
and settle what everybody is to do to pass away the time."

"Pooh! pooh! the time will pass quick enough. Why need ye fuss? But, if
we have regular habits so much the better for the girls."

"Nonsense, let the poor girls lead the life of larks for a change, they
will never have such another opportunity. You and I will always be
together, and you shall talk to me, and Madame may ruralize on that
green terrace with her book and big parasol; depend upon it we shall be
happy."

"Now, it is my turn to say pooh! pooh! Don't you know that even the
larks have to work to get them food?"

"Oh certainly, that I allow. I have no objection to help myself. I can
cook a beefsteak and make lobster salad against any one."

"First catch your beefsteak and lobster, saith Mrs. Glass. But here are
Madame and the girls."

"We are quite lost without our Mothers," said the girls as they sprang
towards us. "Here's Madame, wanting us to do lessons," said Gatty,
sending her great thumb right through her handkerchief. "I never heard
of gipsies saying lessons and we are now no better than gipsies," said
Serena.

"Or people at a pic-nic," said Sybil. "Madame, the next six weeks must
be one great pic-nic; do consent, now do; we will sketch if you like,
and sing songs, and eat and drink for ever."

"Saucy girls," said Madame, smiling most kindly on them, "but I am sure
your Mama would not allow such thorough waste of time," assuming a
slight austerity of manner.

"Oh yes she will, Madame," said Schillie, "so betake yourselves off
girls, wherever you choose, provided you don't come and bother us."

"Leave them alone, Madame," said I, in answer to her beseeching looks at
me, "let them have their own way for a day or two, and you will find
them come to you and beg for a dose of the multiplication table."

"Now, that's very comfortable, girls, you have leave to go to the moon
if you choose, and, Madame, I'll go for your parasol and book, and you
can amuse yourself on that sunny bank, watching us all," said Schillie.

But Madame was much more easily disposed of than the girls, in spite of
Schillie's broad hints, and, at last, open remonstrances, that they
would go about their own business, not one would stir.

"What's the use of a holiday, unless we may spend it with our Mothers?"
said Sybil.

"That's all that we want a holiday for," said Serena, "that we may be
with you all day."

"Yes," said Gatty, "this is most jolly, and now you may have one side of
the big Mother, and Sybil shall have the other; Serena shall sit behind
her, and I'll sit here," throwing herself down at our feet with such
force that we both sprang up with pain.

"How do you like this lark's life?" said I, laughing.

"Good lack, girls, do you mean to say that you are going to be such
geese, as to sit here all day? Have you no curiosity to examine those
caves, no wish to discover figs and plums, no ambition to get on the top
of that rock?"

"No," said Sybil, "our curiosity is at a low ebb, our wishes are quite
fulfilled at being seated here, and we have no ambition but to remain."

"Indeed, Miss Sybil, your tongue runs very glibly, but if you think I am
going to stand the bore of the company of you girls all day you are
mistaken, and, good lack, look at my handkerchief, with a hole in it a
dog could get through."

"Indeed, I beg your pardon, little Mother," said Gatty, reddening all
over, "I thought it was mine."

"And, does that make the matter any better? Can't you employ your
fingers any better than making holes in your handkerchiefs?"

"It's a way larks have," said I.

Schillie rose up in a huff.

"Come," said I, "let us all go and have a dip in the sea."

We all agreed to this, and we also agreed we would make an extensive
bathing place, where we could learn to swim, and yet be out of harm from
the sharks. In this matter every one helped. We rolled stones down to
the water, and then, placed them so as to form a wall or pier into the
sea, at twenty yards distance; from that we made another, and we sloped
them so as to make their ends nearly meet. "Thus," as Oscar said,
"leaving only room for a baby shark to get in."

"And we shall not mind that," said Zoë, "for it would not have cut its
teeth."

It took us two or three days to do this, but that evening at tea, being
heartily fatigued, we agreed to sit still and talk over all we should
do.

"Oscar and I intend to fish all day," said Felix, "and you may be very
much obliged to us, because it's very--"

"Very what, Felix," said his sister, who loved to tease him, "very
tiresome, I suppose you mean."

"No; not tiresome exactly, but very fatiguing."

"Oh very fatiguing indeed, I dare say, and you know you would cry like a
baby if any one prevented you fishing."

"Lilly, you are so aggravating, I wish Winny was my sister, that I do,
for she is so kind, and it's hard the only sister I have should tease me
in this manner."

The faithful Jenny was at hand to take the part of each, and please
both, while she put an end to the dispute.

"But, Mama," said Lilly, "if the boys do nothing but fish all day, may
we little girls pick up shells; ah you cannot think what lovely shells
there are; I am going to make a collection, and I should like to class
them all, and, by the time La Luna comes back, I want to have hundreds
and hundreds, and I will take them to ornament my garden, or they will
look lovely arranged all round the big hall; or, Mama, dear, we might
make a grotto, think how lovely it would be! So let us little girls do
nothing but pick up shells. Do, dear Mama, do let us?"

"What a little tongue you have, child. Do you think Zoë and Winny would
like to do nothing but pick up shells?"

"I am sure I should not," said Zoë. "I must say I rather think, but I am
not quite sure, that I shall not like it all day either," said Winny.

"We'll settle that important question soon, but at present I wish to
propound to the company at large whether you think Hargrave and Jenny
can wait on us all, without a little help?"

"Oh yes, Ma'am," said the smiling Jenny, "we can do well enough if
Master Felix does not wet his feet too often, and the little ladies will
do their own hair."

"I shall be happy to assist Jane, Ma'am, in any way I can after I have
waited on you," said Hargrave.

"I thank you, Hargrave," said I, "but I must do without the waiting on,
we must wait on each other."

"I hope not, Ma'am, I have always endeavoured to give you satisfaction,
and should not like seeing any one wait on you but myself."

"Yes, yes, all that I understand, but--"

"I beg your pardon, Ma'am, but I cannot think of stopping with you,
Ma'am, if any one else, Ma'am, is to be put above me, or take my place."

Hargrave was proceeding, in increased agitation and heat, when Gatty
interrupted the business by repeated peals of laughter.

"Pray, pray, Gertrude, refrain, how very unladylike; you laugh like a
great cow-boy," said Madame.

"I like Gatty's laughs, they are so merry," said Oscar, "but what are
you laughing at?"

"Why at Hargrave to be sure, giving warning here, on this desert
island."

"Who will you go to, Hargrave, if you leave your present mistress? The
Duchess of Puddleduck? Lady Ape? or Baroness Shark? Ha! ha! my dear
girls, did you ever hear anything so absurd?"

"Indeed, Miss Gertrude, I wonder at your manners to a poor servant like
me, but I am not going to be put upon any how."

"And who was going to put upon you, my good woman? I meant nothing but
that we must all help each other, and that there was no occasion for you
to wait upon me as heretofore, while we are in this island."

Slightly mollified, she grumbled out "That it was certainly no use
plaiting one's hair in such a place."

"Now, Schillie, what charge will you take?"

"Take! You mean do as I bid you."

"Then, if that's the case, you shall be caterer."

"No, no, that I protest against. Under no circumstances can I undertake
dinner, though I fancy one has no great variety here. I'll look after
your pet boys, and see that neither of them drown themselves fishing,
and I'll take charge of the guns, powder, and shot, and any little odd
things requiring to be done I am ready to be called on to help."

"Very good. And you, Madame?" I gave her a warning glance not to say
anything about lessons, so, after a pause, she said, "I will undertake
to prepare the table for meals, and collect fruit and flowers, with the
help of my three little ones."

"Thank you very much, that will be very kind, and now you elder girls!"

"Oh! we'll do as we are bid, except lessons," said Gatty.

"Then, Gatty and Serena, you must always bring the water from the brook
morning and evening, and you, Sybil, must see that the children are tidy
and that the things all put away in the tent, and you must, all three,
help Jenny to wash up the things, and put them in their places tidy. And
now then we will all disperse, until eleven o'clock, when Jenny must
give us dinner as usual, and then we will all take siesta, and in the
evening we shall be ready for no end of fun and mischief. Our dinner may
seem somewhat early, but then we were obliged to be up very early to
enjoy the cool part of the day." But I will begin my next chapter with a
description of our doings.



CHAPTER XIV.


The first person that awoke in the morning generally rose and opened the
tent letting in the fresh sea breeze. This might be between two and
three in the morning, and always the most refreshing part of the whole
day. The first bathing party then went down to the sea, consisting of
Schillie, the three girls, Madame, and myself. Before we were well out
of the water, and finishing our toilettes under the tent, the boys used
to come rushing down with Jenny in attendance, who was always fearing
her heedless Master Felix would get into danger. Finally the three
little girls, with both the maids, habited in readiness to dip the
unwilling ones, finished the morning ablutions.

Afterwards we all proceeded to the great chestnut tree, where we had
prayers, the morning psalms, and lessons, and sung a hymn, which sounded
in that lone but lovely spot so soft and beautiful that it used to bring
tears to my eyes. So many young voices, gave a peculiar flute-like sound
to the music, and as each cadence rose swelling through the branches of
the great tree above us, so did the birds rise in clouds above us,
returning nearer and nearer, as the soft voices died away, at the end
of each verse. And to look at each young face uplifted with fresh sweet
feelings of piety and love to me seemed a picture of what we might see
hereafter in that other and brighter world, "which eye hath not seen,
neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive." The fair
blooming face of Sybil contrasted well with the brilliant dark eyes and
fine countenance of Gertrude, while the slight statue-like form of the
graceful Serena, with her small head and beautiful throat bent over her
book, completed their picture. And a smaller group stood beside them
equally pretty to look at, equally wrapt up in the solemn duty they were
performing. The taller Zoë in the middle, her black hair drawn from her
fair and lovely profile, one little hand resting, on the pretty
sparkling Winifred whose arch look was sobered into childish gravity, a
pretty demureness hiding the merry blue eyes, and leaving long curling
dark eyelashes to veil her cheeks; while on the other side, hanging or
leaning, or both, stood Lilly, her long black curls swept in every
direction, and falling in rich masses over all three as the wind listed
to blow them, the prettiest face in the world, peeping from between the
dishevelled locks, with rosy mouth parted, and violet eyes upraised to
heaven, as she sang with bird-like clearness above the rest.

The bright sun, the glowing sky, the brilliant flowers, the rich shade
of the dark chestnut tree, all cast their lights and shadows on these
two pretty groups as they stood before us, adding beauty to both.

The last verse being sung, all dispersed to their different duties, and
the birds were now startled by the bursts of merry laughter that came
from each group. Madame, with Sybil and her three little maidens,
prepared the breakfast. Gatty and Serena ran for water, the maids put
the tents to rights, the boys lighted the fire. Schillie and I sat
looking on, acting company. I with admiring eyes, on the lovely scenery
and pretty figures, she with inquisitive looks, scanning each unknown
plant, moss, bird, or stone, and conjecturing their names and qualities.
A little clamouring below, as to who was to blow a great shell that
Benjie had taught them how to use, prepared us two idle ones for the
summons to breakfast, of which we all partook with great hilarity and
content, the grumblings for want of milk, having ceased partly because
they were not attended to, and partly because all the grumbling in the
world obtained none. After breakfast, I settled with Jenny the difficult
question of dinner, which generally consisted of fish, potatoes, and
pudding, sometimes a little salt meat, sometimes a little fresh meat,
out of the tin cases we had brought. But invariably we had a magnificent
dessert, so that the children could eat nothing for thinking of what was
coming. That important matter done, I joined the rest. Madame betook
herself to her green parasol and terrace, with a dignified but
compassionate air, as if the young ones did not know what they were
losing, in preferring play to lessons. The three little girls in high
delight went to collect that indispensable quantity of shells, that was
deemed necessary to ornament all they wished at home. The two good boys
prepared with the gravity necessary for so important a business, to fish
for our dinner, speculating upon what bait the fish would take that
particular morning, and what they would not. To which we listened in
solemn propriety, though well aware all the time they jumped at a bit of
red worsted, as much as any other thing.

But the three elder ones did not care for picking up shells, and could
not abide fishing. It was too hot to work, too sunny to read. They
wanted to sit all day long in the pockets of the two Mothers, the elder
one telling them stories, and the younger one making quaint remarks
thereon, thereby spoiling many a sentimental speech, and upsetting many
a romantic idea, but causing plenty of fun and merriment. But that could
not last all day. Though we dined at eleven, it still wanted two good
hours thereto. The big Mother was tired of telling tales; the little
Mother was weary with doing nothing. All this time the green parasol
meandered up and down, now and then sitting down to rest, and bending
towards the girls with an unmistakeable look, that seemed to say, "come
to your lessons, pray come to your lessons." But, the green parasol
nodded in vain. At last after a fit of yawning, we all went botanizing,
but that was very provoking work, for we could not tell the names of the
lovely flowers and trees we found. Sybil suggested giving them our own
names. Serena nearly broke her neck, climbing an almost inaccessible
crag, and Gatty tore her frock every five minutes.

By this time the conch-shell sounded for dinner, in doing which Jenny
blew her cheeks into the colour of a peony, we were all hot and tired
and not in a very good humour.

The more we shewed this, the more gracious and cheerful Madame became,
the little girls had been quite happy, the boys had wonders to relate as
to the strange creatures that came peeping up at them from the deep as
they were fishing. Lilly hopes they were not mermaids, for she had heard
they were very cruel, and enticed men down into the dark sea weed
caverns, from whence they never more appeared.

_Felix._--"They will never catch me doing anything so silly. I like Mama
better than twenty thousand mermaids, and so I won't be ticed, Lilly."

_Lilly._--"Enticed, my dear boy, you mean, and that signifies that you
cannot help yourself. They will carry you down into the sea, full of
great polypuses, with a hundred blood red arms."

_Oscar._--"Lilly, you are talking great stuff, no mermaids shall ever
catch Felix or me, I shall shoot them first. And besides I won't believe
there are any mermaids."

_Gatty._--"And also besides, if they did come up from the sea, and look
at Otty and Felix, I don't think they would steal them away from us,
without a great battle on our parts."

"But," said Lilly, who always stuck pertinaciously to her text, "I have
read it in a book, that they comb their long, sea-green hair, and sing
all the time so beautifully, that men jump into the sea after them."

_Felix._--"Well! I shall not do that, for green hair must be very ugly."

_Oscar._--"And you need not bother about it any more, Lilly, for I hate
singing."

_Felix._--"And we must take care of ourselves, because we are the only
two men you have got to take care of you all."

_Sybil._--"Ah! indeed that is very true, you must be very careful,
because what should we do without our protectors."

_Felix._--"Yes, but, Aunt Sib, don't you think it is very wrong of Lilly
to frighten us. Pray tell us, do mermaids really steal men away?"

_Schillie._--"What is all this nonsense about mermaids, eh? Felix." She
was told; then added, "Don't alarm yourselves, if an army of mermaids
were to come, they would not take either of you for men; so comfort
yourself, my boys, with that notion."

As most of the party agreed with her the subject dropped. After dinner
we all took a siesta for two or three hours, a necessary rest during the
heat of the day. Afterwards the same scene occurred as before dinner the
"green parasol" meandered up and down, the little ones ran about, being
now assisted by the boys, the elder ones hung about us two until
tea-time, when all had some employment again. Afterwards we chatted and
worked until the sun went down. This sometimes occurred so suddenly that
we had to run like lapwings, from the great chestnut down to the tents,
in order to scramble into bed before it was quite dark. So passed the
first few days, I purposely proposing neither work nor any employment
that the girls might be thoroughly sickened of idleness. Each day,
however, the "green parasol" became more elevated, the measured tread
more majestic. Madame was getting seriously angry, having no idea that
their love of idleness would last so long. Even to me monosyllables only
were vouchsafed, and matters assumed a lowering aspect. Schillie's
temper had been gone two days, and she was at open war with the three
girls, extremely cross with me that I did not order them away, though
too proud to acknowledge it. Sybil had taken refuge in books, and was
always so deeply immersed in her stories and novels, that she could
think of nothing else. Her wits were anywhere but where they ought to
have been, and she was of no use to any one. Serena was making a child
of herself, with the little ones, which pleased them very much, and gave
her some employment for her useless activity. As for Gatty, having
nothing else to do, she was in every boy's way. When every handkerchief
she had was full of holes, she proceeded to destroy other people's
private property. The "green parasol" having been inadvertently left
alone for a short time, was used as a mark to throw stones at, and, ere
its owner appeared to rescue it, had several great holes in it. An offer
to assist the boys in their fishing tackle caused inextricable confusion
amongst their work. The necessity of making some use of such restless
activity occasioned Jenny to be gratuitously assisted in cooking the
dinner, which ended in there being nothing eatable that day. Cross with
Serena because she would make a baby of herself with the little ones,
angry with Sybil because she was buried in silly stories, irate with the
little Mother because she had called her a great plague, afraid of the
big Mother because she looked so gravely at her, not on speaking terms
with any of the little ones for various misdemeanours, the poor Gatty
wandered up and down on a particular evening (the fourth day) like a
perturbed young elephant shut up in a cage. She wanted something to do,
and she glanced around each party to see which she might venture to
join. The "green parasol" was to be avoided at all rates, the two
Mothers had forbidden her approach for an hour. Jenny had declined a
kitchen maid's help with a stammering apology that clearly told why. She
was too proud to join those who had called her cross. Sybil sat alone;
her feet almost in the stream, her head buried in her book, so absorbed
that she saw and heard nothing. Gatty approached her from above, and,
being obliged to do something, saw at one glance a most beautiful
opportunity of startling Sybil out of her studies, and became quite
exhilarated with the work. With a little trouble she moved some stones,
made a channel in the sand, and in a few minutes a rippling stream ran
down it, gathering force as it went, and, stopping for neither stick nor
stone, dashed upon Sybil, as if animated with Gatty's own spirit of
mischief. Up she jumped, her cry of surprise being in chorus with
Gatty's shriek of delight. Thoroughly roused, her usual meek spirit gave
way, she threw down her book, sprang towards the aggressor, her fair
face blushed with anger, her dark eyes flashing indignantly. So nimble
was she, that she was almost upon the delighted culprit ere she
restrained her laughter. In endeavouring to avoid the injured one her
foot slipped, over she rolled just as Sybil reached her, and down they
both went into the brook, rolling over and over several times.

Having watched the whole business from our resting place, we were down
at the spot, ere they had recovered themselves, and risen from the
water.

The conch-shell sounded for tea, at the same moment, and in a high state
of excitement, every body talking their loudest we all adjourned. Then
every body opened their hearts. I confessed I had let them be so idle,
in order to make them resume their lessons with pleasure and zest.
Schillie allowed she was very wrong to take them from their books, which
were much better for them than idling about and bothering her. Madame
had wondered at my permitting such disorderly doings, as had been going
on from day to day, but would excuse it as I seemed to have a motive,
and the young ladies were penitent. Sybil confessed she was tired of
reading so much, and would much prefer doing something rational. Serena
said she and the little ones had been privately learning something, just
to employ themselves. Gatty alone still declared it was a great shame to
do lessons in this hot climate, but she would not mind music and
summing. Zoë and Winny joyfully agreed to learn anything, so that they
might have something to do. Lilly made a stipulation about having time
to pick up shells, before she finally capitulated; and the boys having
been very good up to this minute, neither troublesome or quarrelsome,
but on the contrary very useful, turned round completely, became naughty
and rude, declaring that lessons were humbug, French a bore, German a
nuisance, and almost openly declaring a complete rebellion.

This mutiny of course was quelled, we retired to bed in harmony and good
humour, and rose the next morning determined to do our best, to be
industrious and useful. Madame was in high spirits. Schillie most
benign. The boys happy in the privilege of not having to go to their
studies until an hour after the girls, and to do part of them with the
Mothers. The girls all in high spirits, so that when the conch-shell
sounded twice as indicative that school time had commenced, great
alacrity was shown on all sides, and good humour reigned supreme.



CHAPTER XV.


"Now then," said I to the little Mother, "what are you and I to do with
ourselves."

_Schillie._--"Oh, I am perfectly comfortable, now that we are not to be
plagued with those girls. Let us sit down here, and now you shall talk
to me."

_Mother._--"I don't intend to do anything of the sort; I said, 'What
shall we do?' merely to know if you had any private business on hand.
Because if you have not, I have."

_Schillie._--"I have nothing in the world to do, and I have not the
least inclination to exert myself, and I won't allow you to do anything
either, in spite of your private business."

_Mother._--"Nevertheless, whether you help me or not, I am going to
build a little hut."

_Schillie._--"Good lack! if you are not mad to think of such a thing! I
am gasping with heat, and really melt away so fast, on the slightest
exertion, and have such indifferent dinners to make amends, that if the
captain does not arrive precisely to his date, my skin will be a bag
containing nothing but rattling bones."

_Mother._--"Don't distress yourself, you look very jolly yet, and if
those cannibals come, of whom Madame is so afraid, you will be the first
delicate morsel chosen, I am certain. But about this hut."

_Schillie._--"Don't, June, you will kill me outright if you mention such
hard work again. Let us go and botanize a bit. Did you ever see such a
fellow as this! He must be a plantain I think."

_Mother._--"Yes! these are the broad leaves that will roof our hut!"

_Schillie._--"You will drive me mad with your hut, who wants a hut? and
what is the good of putting ourselves into a fever, spoiling our hands,
and such like, merely for your whims. Let us go round that point, and
see if any turtle land on this island. I am sure it will be a blessing
to have something decent to eat."

_Mother._--"I shall be delighted to go, but I think we shall dirty our
hands much more slaughtering a great turtle than building a nice little
hut."

_Schillie._--"Now, Mrs. June, if you bother me any more about that hut,
I won't stir one finger to help you."

_Mother._--"Oh, so you will help me, well! that's all I want, so sit
down here while I tell you all about my hut."

She made some ineffectual efforts to escape, was very indignant,
stormed, and spluttered, and wound up by saying, "Well! now, my
Mistress, what do you wish me to do?" which was exactly the state into
which I had intended to bully her. "You know how hot we are in the tent
every night," said I. "Good me! and those horrid girls snoring and
talking, one worse than another, to say nothing of someone who shall be
nameless snoring like ten pigs." "That snorer is not me, I flatter
myself, so make no more remarks, but listen, you see I have brought you
to a very pretty little spot on the cliffs, and here are six or seven
nice little trees, that look so pliant and slender we can bend them into
any shape, but you are not listening."

_Schillie._--"I wonder what trees these are. They all seem to proceed
from the same mass of roots, and yet they are nearly in the form of a
square; leaves, shiny, dark, green, pinnated, I cannot make them out."

_Mother._--"What does it matter to us about their names and property, if
they will do for us to make our hut."

_Schillie._--"And how can you imagine that I can make a hut or live in
it, until I have found out the name of these trees."

So we were nearly coming to a rupture again, but waiting patiently until
she had exhausted every idea on the subject we set to work once more.
"You see these trees are in the form of a square already, and will just
mark out the size of our hut."

"Yes very well for me, but if our hut has a window you will have to lay
with your head out of it, or if a door with your feet ditto."

_Mother._--"Come don't be rude about my length of limb. The square is
quite seven feet this way, and we may make it double that the other way
by cutting down this one tree."

_Schillie._--"I wish I knew what those two trees are."

_Mother._--"Then we can twist these pliant sort of reeds in and out."

_Schillie._--"Reeds, June! those are not reeds, I wonder what these are?
They must be all of the same family, only these are young ones.
Something of the willow sort, I imagine."

_Mother._--"Well! we can twist them in and out between the stems."

_Schillie._--"Or perhaps they are a species of gigantic rush, but that
we shall know by the flower."

_Mother._--"Twist them in and out like basket work."

_Schillie._--"I wish you would cease with your twistings in and out, and
help me to guess what these things are."

_Mother._--"My dear, I have guessed long ago, and think I am quite right
too in my guess."

_Schillie._--"And why are you so unkind as not to tell me? you know how
anxious I am."

_Mother._--"I am quite surprised that you did not see at once, they are
only gigantic 'fighting cocks,' as we used to call plantain in our
youth."

_Schillie._--"You are the greatest----, well! I won't say what with your
fighting cocks. Come, go on about your blessed old hut."

_Mother._--"But it is not an old hut, inasmuch as it is not built yet,
or even begun, nor does it seem likely to be begun, as we have
quarrelled three times over merely of what it is to be made."

_Schillie._--"Then now I won't trouble you any more, I will think of
nothing but this hut, and will do whatever you bid me. But you must
promise me, that if I help you, that no one else is to share it with us.
I won't have any fidgety girls, or sick boys to come and wear one to
death with their nonsense."

_Mother._--"Pooh, pooh, you know who will be the first to invite them
in, however, I only mean it for us two."

So to work we set, and in a short time had so changed our relative
positions, that I was scolded for not working hard enough, and having
entered thoroughly into the business, she took the command, and I
willingly obeyed her sage orders. She had a capital head for
contrivance, and consequently treated some of my suggestions with scorn
and indifference. In fact, my notion of "twisting in and out" so often
mentioned, was immediately pronounced as a trap for musquitos,
scorpions, and such like. We were to have our hut made partly of boughs,
partly of sods, partly of mud. This was to keep it cool. Over all we
placed the large smooth plantain leaves and it really did not look
amiss, but something like the little round mushroom huts of the charcoal
burners. It took us four days to complete it. We told nobody until it
was finished; then, of course everybody wanted to sleep in it. The size
of the hut spoke the best answer. At each end we had nailed a strip of
sail-cloth, which served for the bed on which to lie, and, wrapped up in
a sheet, it was very cool and comfortable. Though Schillie was very
uneasy for the first hour, and, upon my remonstrating, muttered, half
asleep, "I wish I knew what these trees were."

We satisfied the eager wishers, by promising to help to make huts for
all who liked it, and, for the next week, as soon as school hours were
over, every minute was employed in this new business. Madame alone
preferred the tent, and soon had it to herself. From the sand the little
colony of huts looked quite picturesque, perched upon little green
knolls or terraces, and great improvements were made, so that ours
looked quite a little vulgar affair in comparison to the ornamented
mansions which soon appeared. The little ones had now good use for their
shells, and the tasteful Sybil and Serena ornamented theirs with fresh
flowers every day, and transplanted creepers and other things to train
all over their abode.

We found amongst our stores a packet of garden seeds, I having desired
the gardener before we left home to put some up, for I had heard that we
could grow mustard and cress, endive and parsley, and even lettuces on
board, and that it would be a very good thing for the children. Not
having specified what I really wanted, on opening the packet we found
every species of seed that a kitchen garden would require, and though we
laughed at the parcels of beans and peas, and other things impossible to
be grown on board, also carrots and turnips, yet they were most
opportune in amusing the young ones, for every one must have a garden
round their abode, and it was quite surprising to see how quickly the
seeds sprang up. In fact, we had so much to amuse us, that a month
passed ere we thought one week had gone, and the life we were leading
seemed to agree with us all, especially the children. Oscar's fine open
countenance bloomed with health, and he grew so manly and tall that we
treated him with great respect as the King of the Island, while the
small little delicate features of Felix were getting embrowned, fast
losing their delicacy; his beautiful starlike eyes were radiant with
health, and through the long dark eyelashes, so peculiar to that species
of deep grey eye, the pretty pink colour seemed to be fixing its
residence there at last.



CHAPTER XVI.


The girls being very much absorbed in their gardens, Schillie and I took
a scramble one day round the point she had wished to go when we
commenced building our hut. We privately told the servants if we were
not at home to dinner, to explain the cause, and not to expect us until
tea-time.

It was very hard work, but when we had accomplished it, we came to
another bay, not so pretty as ours, but much more extensive. There were
scarcely any cliffs, but the great trees came bending down to the
water's edge in many places. Here Schillie gave full scope to her
enquiring mind, and we progressed at the rate of twenty yards every half
hour, while she exhausted herself in vain conjectures without end. Going
over the rocks, among the caverns and crevices we found a curious
creeping plant, the stems trailing two or three feet long, the leaves
were rather oval, of a bright green, and the flowers large beautiful
white ones, each composed of four petals tinged with red. At last from
the unopened buds being so like capers, we tasted them, and they were so
sharp and as acid as we could wish. So we decided they were, or rather
it was the caper plant, and while Schillie felicitated herself upon
having settled that matter satisfactorily, she groaned over the notion
of our having no boiled mutton.

The next thing we discovered was a bright green shrub, apparently an
evergreen, with bunches of white flowers, which were sweet scented.
There being no seeds formed, we were sometime in making it out to be the
coffee tree, but Schillie remembered once seeing a coffee plant at
Chatsworth. So she was in high spirits until we came to another shrub
with purple and white flowers. Some of the green leaves were exceedingly
light, and some nearly black, and they almost seemed to be turning
colour, as we looked at them.

We wasted a whole hour over this shrub and a tree close by rather small
with foliage like a birch. It had fruit somewhat like a hop, only very
much larger.

We now came to an immense Banana tree, out of which flew a cloud of
blueish pigeons. The leaves of this Banana looked six or seven feet long
and about one wide; the fruit was hanging in every direction, looking
like large misshapen cucumbers. Benjie had taught us not to cut it
crossways, but from end to end, as it tasted better when cut wrong. But
it was curious when cut wrong what an exact cross was pictured in the
middle. Twined in the Banana tree was an immense gourd plant. At this
minute I shuddered with horror. We had been so secure, so careless, so
utterly unmindful of any danger that I was quite unnerved at seeing a
huge thing three or four feet long drop from the Banana, close between
us. "Keep back, keep back," said Schillie, "I have got my hatchet." But
she never could bear to kill anything, so we looked on the creature, and
it on us. It was very ugly and formidable to look at, but it had a quiet
eye, and after a little while it crawled gently away, and commenced
trying to get up the tree again. "I think it must be an iguana," said I
at last.

"Whatever it is I admire its civility," said Schillie.

"If it is they are quite harmless, though he looks very horrible," said
I.

"He does not intend to harm us, it appears, so we will go on," said
Schillie, "because I begin to feel very hungry, and we had better look
out for a comfortable spot on which to dine."

"I have been hungry more than an hour, but you were so absorbed in your
discoveries you would not listen to my hints. I should like to go to
that little knoll, in which those four cocoa-nut trees stand, we shall
have a little air then, and can see any danger all round, and, perchance
find a cocoa-nut."

"Which you may have all to yourself, June, for I think them unwholesome
things."

After a dinner and a successful nutting, I proposed a siesta, as it was
impossible to move during the sultry noon, which Schillie agreed to
provided I went to sleep first, whilst she watched for an hour, then
she was to waken me, and I was to watch in my turn.

After a profound sleep of some duration I awoke, and found my guard in a
helpless state of somnambulism, which was so very deep I did not like to
disturb her; neither could I move, as the better to guard me she was
lying half over me, I, therefore, though anxious about the time we had
been sleeping, decided to sit still and wait until she showed some signs
of waking. She had the watch round her neck, and I could not look at it
without disturbing her, so I amused myself with watching the curious and
strange things around me. I noticed some black things in the water,
which came nearer and nearer, and I gave a start of pleasure when I
perceived that they must be turtle; at last one landed and crawled in
the most extraordinary manner some way up the sands. After spending what
I thought was half an hour in the oddest movements and vagaries for such
an unwieldy thing as a turtle to indulge in, it returned to the sea, and
was the only one that landed. The sleeper at last moved, and I roused
her up. At first she declared she had not been asleep at all, but when
time and circumstances made that assertion untenable, she fell back upon
the excuse that it was so dull sitting there with no one to talk to, and
nothing to do, and, besides, her thoughts were very melancholy.

_June._--"Your thoughts melancholy! That's the first time, then, since I
have known you."

_Schillie._--"I was thinking of my poor little children, and how wrong I
was to go and leave them all."

_June._--"But you have not yet been away from them half the time, or,
indeed, one-third of what was originally intended, when we left
England."

_Schillie._--"I know that quite well, but, if you will go to sleep, and
leave me to my own dull thoughts, how can I help thinking of my being so
ill-behaved as to leave them for such a period."

_June._--"It was you that made me go to sleep first. But, however, I
must comfort you, and remind you how kind your father is to them, and
how your mother's sole business in life is to see that they have double
as much as they ought to have. And how your sister, that best of
Kittie's, is more than a mother to them; indeed most strangers take her
for their mother, and you for an unnatural sort of aunt."

_Schillie._--"Well, that may be true, June, but you should not upbraid me
with it now I am so sad; I don't pretend to be a fond mother, but I hope
I am a good one."

_June._--"Come! don't be so horribly pathetic; it does not suit you at
all, but, if you are really very unhappy, the captain will be here in
ten days or so, and then we will all go home."

_Schillie._--"But, how do I know if we may not all be drowned in going
home, or have a fire at sea, or something should occur which will
prevent me ever seeing my little chicks again," and the great tears
rolled one by one down her round blooming cheeks.

This was getting a most serious business, so I said in an angry manner
as it were, "You are too absurd! just as if every day when at home you
don't put your life into imminent danger, riding that frangy beast, who
every ten yards has either his heels or his toes in the air."

_Schillie._--"Heels and toes! Whoever heard a horse spoken of in such
terms? And after all the pains I have taken with your equine education,
to talk in such terms of a little playfulness! I would not give
two-pence to ride a horse that goes straight along."

_June._--"I should not call that playful riding to come home with one's
hands all blistered from holding the animal in. For my part, I never saw
you go down the carriage road, on that beast Staunton, with his tail
flying and his legs anywhere but on the road, without preparing my
nerves for seeing your mangled remains brought home on a shutter."

_Schillie._--"Mangled fiddlesticks! Did you ever see such a butterfly?
Don't catch it; you'll hurt it. There, it is settled now. I wonder what
his name is?"

So her thoughts being diverted we wandered on, the heat dried the big
tears, and we made many grand discoveries; amongst others, that the
rocks were wholly composed of coral.

But, before we left the spot, without telling her that I had seen the
turtle, we went to the place I had seen it throwing up the sand, and,
upon examination, found a great quantity of eggs. For some time
Schillie would not believe that I had seen a turtle, or that these were
turtle's eggs. However we kept our eyes on the black specks on the
water, and, turning a corner of the bay, we came upon a whole colony of
turtles, all on shore. I was afraid at first to run after them and turn
them, and Schillie could not manage it by herself, so that ere I had
conquered my reluctance they all got away from her but one, which we
turned over all right, and nothing was more ridiculous than to see the
poor hideous creature sprawling and straggling with ineffectual efforts.
But we could not lift it by any means, and Schillie felt half inclined
to let it go again, as it would be exposed so many hours to the broiling
sun, ere we could come back with the others to despatch it. So we
covered it over with Banana leaves, fastening them safe over the poor
beast with bits of wood stuck through the leaves into the sand; and
there we left it, making our way homewards over the rocks. The moment we
appeared on the top seemed the signal for a general commotion amongst
our people, and they all came running round the bay to meet us; Gatty
reached us first, followed closely by Serena. They could not speak, they
were so completely out of breath; but the first thing Gatty could say
was a vehement reproach for leaving them all day. They had been so dull,
and, coming out of school they had rushed immediately to join the two
Mothers, and had found none; and the dinner was so stupid, and the
lessons had been so tiresome, and Madame had been so particular, and it
had been so hot; in fact, all had gone wrong.

But we were soon very merry at tea, all except Madame, who looked a
little stately; and, after tea, she said she had a complaint to make
against a certain person, for misconduct during my absence.

She was interrupted by Gatty's jumping up, and saying. "Oh yes! yes!
such a glorious thing happened, it was so killing!--"

"Gertrude, you shock me," said Madame, "to talk of so grave a
misdemeanour, in such terms."

"Indeed! Madame, I cannot help it. I never laughed so much in my life.
Did you, Sib? Did you, Serena?"

Whereupon all the girls, big and little, tittered and laughed according
to their different natures, and I felt relieved. But I was convinced
that Felix was the culprit he was so red, and, while his brother rolled
on the sand with merriment, he said nothing.

But Madame was so very grave, and seemed really so annoyed, that the
laughing ceased, except when Gatty burst into a fresh fit, though she
was cramming her handkerchief into her mouth, and that set Oscar off
too.

"The young gentlemen came to their lessons in very good time," proceeded
Madame, "and Master Oscar immediately proceeded to learn his Latin
declensions and to little Felix I gave a short lesson in French, out of
that small book which, as you know, Madam, contained a page or two of
first French lessons for young beginners." I nodded as much as to say I
knew the book. "And then, Madam, as he was so giddy and volatile, I put
him under the table to learn it, with the cloth all round him, that his
attention might be distracted by nothing that he saw."

Here the tittering was vehement. "He was I must acknowledge, very quiet
and good, so much so, that perhaps it was half an hour ere I called him
to say it." Here Gatty became convulsed. Oscar in a similar state, and
not all Madame's gravity could restrain the others.

"You may imagine my surprise, Madam, when I found the book gone, he had
it not. In vain I made him look for it, nay, I acknowledge that I went
down on my knees under the table to look for it also, thinking he must
be telling an untruth, in saying it was not there. I could find it
nowhere, neither can I find it now, and though I have made him confess
what he did with it, yet, I assure you, Madam, the matter seems so
extraordinary to me, I beg you will ask him yourself." In spite of the
laughter, I called Felix, and with a half impudent air, emboldened by
his companion's merriment, half frightened at what I might say. He said
in a low clear voice, "Mama, I ate it!"

_Mother._--"Ate it, child!"

_Felix._--"Yes, Mama, I ate it every bit."

Madame sat down in triumph; the young ones made the air sound with their
laughter; Jenny looked appealingly to me. Schillie said, "What a nasty
boy." I exclaimed in horror and wonder, "Good heavens! suppose it
disagrees with him." This frightful notion spread; Jenny took to
tears--Madame was quite affected--Schillie recommended an
emetic--Hargrave rushed to put it in force--and Felix was overwhelmed
with questions as to what he felt; had he a pain?--where was his
pain?--did he feel odd?--was he sure he felt nothing?--and it was nearly
an hour ere he was suffered to go to bed, with no other remedy than a
good fright, and the next day he appeared as pert as ever, recommending
those that did not like certain lesson books to eat them up, for, after
all, he added, "books are not so nasty to eat as to learn."



CHAPTER XVII.


The time passed, to use Gatty's phrase, "fatally fast," in fact, we
heard distant murmurs and fears expressed lest our dear old captain
should return too soon. There was something so novel and unrestrained in
our present life, and we all seemed to feel we never should again have
such an opportunity of imitating the gipsies, and we were so happy and
merry, that, excepting Madame, we were none of us willing to be restored
too soon to civilized life.

Was our future fate a punishment or not, for thus presuming to decide
our own destiny? A fortnight passed. On whose heart fell first the dread
thought that something was pending over us, too horrible to be put into
words? In the dead of night, I whispered low in Schillie's ear, "Do you
think anything can have happened to the ship?" "Nonsense, who but you
would think anything so ridiculous. Do you know I think I have
discovered what these trees are. I am sure they are a species of
Banyan." "Yes," said I absently. "Yes," said she, "yes, did you say?
Then why did you not tell me before. I have never been able to sleep a
wink when I first came to bed for wondering what they could be. Just
like you." So she sulkily went off to sleep.

Another fortnight passed. No word yet was spoken, no voice had even
uttered where was the Captain, Smart, La Luna? But the Mother's face was
pale. She spent her days on the cliffs, looking out until her eyes
ached, and bade the little Mother, who sat so silent and quiet beside
her, to look for her through the telescope. And the merry voices were
hushed, no laughter was heard, the meals passed in silence, the little
ones played at a distance speaking in whispers, on every face you could
trace a hidden fear, a secret dread, a mysterious foreboding, but not a
word was spoken on the thought of each heart. As evening after evening
stole by, the Mothers came down from their watch on the cliff, and
though every eye asked, "Have you seen nothing?" yet no tongue had
courage to say, "Where was the Captain, Smart, La Luna?"

One day, it was hotter than usual, the sun was going down with a red
glare, a low moaning wind came every now and then suddenly through the
trees. As Schillie and I came down the cliffs, our knees knocked
together with heat and lassitude. We had not spoken for several hours
until I had said, "Come, let us go." She mutely assented, and,
supporting each other, we wearily and slowly clambered down. Suddenly
stopping at a a smooth place on the cliff, on which had been spread by
Smart the skin of the Anaconda to dry, and which still remained as he
had left it, she said to me, "Which fate do you prefer, June, would you
rather now be a corpse within that skin, or yet alive with your present
feelings and fears." "O, Schillie, Schillie," I exclaimed, "it is not
for myself I fear, but think of all these young ones, can it really be
possible or true that we are likely to spend our lives in this place."

_Schillie._--"At present it seems true enough, not that you will have
long to fret about it, for we shall have to bury you soon, grieving in
this manner; I shall go as soon as I can after you; Madame is already
gasping; and then I should like to know what will become of all the
young ones."

_Mother._--"I do my best, I try to think about it as little as possible.
But what are your thoughts, Schillie? What do you think about them not
returning for us? Is it accident, or----"

_Schillie._--"Come, say no more at present, here are the girls coming to
meet us. To-morrow we must settle something, it is due to them for the
patience with which they have acted in the last fortnight, to take them
into our councils. Give us all until to-morrow, before we finally doom
ourselves to consider this island our living grave."

_Mother._--"But have you no hope, Schillie, speak quickly ere they come,
have you no hope?"

_Schillie._--"Hope! hope for Aladdin's Lamp, Prince Hassan's Carpet,
Green's Balloon, a Railway over the Sea. Hope nothing, and you won't be
disappointed."

_Mother._--"You are cruel, Schillie."

_Schillie._--"Face the worst at once, it will save you much sorrow
hereafter. Now say no more, but scrape up a smile for those poor girls
if you can."

Even this uncomfortable conversation proved of so much relief to us two
that we were more cheerful that evening at tea, and consequently the
poor children took courage to be also a little more lively. But we were
hurried to our different shelters by a clap of thunder and flash of
lightning, unlike anything we had ever seen before, and the rain fell in
large splashing drops. In the middle of the night, we were awakened by
repeated peals of thunder crashing over our heads, while the lightning
played incessantly, beautiful but most awful to behold. The rain at
first came in gusts, but after a while, such a deluge poured down upon
us, that in half an hour our little frail huts were beaten down over our
heads. One minute's exposure to the sheets of water that were descending
drenched us through. With difficulty we crawled to a little cavern,
which just held us, and also permitted the servants to change the
children's dripping clothes, and thus passed the whole night; but the
sun arose as bright as ever, rendering the scene more brilliant and
lovely, from the innumerable rain-drops bespangling everything. Not all
the cold, misery, and discomfort we had undergone, besides losing our
rest, prevented us exclaiming at the fresh beauty of the verdure and
trees, and the sweet smell of the thirsty earth as we emerged from our
cavern.

We had first to light a great fire, and then to spread all the bedding
on the rocks to dry in the sun. We soon warmed some water, and drank hot
tea and coffee; but Madame showed symptoms of a violent cold, and little
Felix and Winny shivered and shook as if in an ague fit. The poor little
huts were entirely ruined, and what was worse still, all our stores and
the different things belonging to La Luna, though carefully covered with
sail cloth and other things, were yet evidently much damaged by the wet;
in fact, it was not this day only that we had to deplore the effect of
the night storms catching us so unprepared. We suffered for it, as will
be seen hereafter, the whole time we were on the island. However, we
could now only think of making ourselves comfortable again. Of course
the tents had been beaten down even before the huts; we could not
shelter under the great chestnut tree, as the stream had swollen so as
to surround it on all sides, washing away all our seats, a great many
dinner things, books, and various other matters which we had left there,
and which of course had been carried down into the sea, so that we never
recovered them again. Fresh disasters were being discovered every
minute, and so much were we taken up by them, that it was not until late
in the evening, when tired and exhausted we sat down to tea, that the
much greater weight and dread on our minds returned in full force.

After a silence, Schillie looked at me and nodded. I tried to speak, but
the words would not come, they died away in whispers. All waited in
anxious expectation, not knowing what was coming; at last, Sybil and
Serena both rose, and coming to me, clasped their arms round me, and
said, "Dear Sister, if the ship does not come back for us, we do not
care so long as you are well and happy. Do not grieve on our account,
everything will end well, you will see. Do you not always bid us trust
in God. Let us pray then for his help, but do not grieve, do not weep
thus."

But their sweet voices, and comforting words were lost amidst the
wailing and weeping that arose on all sides, now that we had given voice
to our sad fears. Words fail me when I think of describing this mournful
and affecting scene, for one and all seemed equally certain that hope
was gone, we had now been three months here, and the captain told us
all, not once, but many times, that in six weeks for certain he should
return. Something therefore must have happened. Either the vessel must
have foundered, or they had failed in getting another vessel for us, or
they had met with some accident, or worse than all from the instruments
being destroyed on deck during the storm Captain MacNab had not been
able to take any observations so as to settle whereabouts this island
was, and he was perhaps now sailing about unable to find us. For it was
a most singular thing which we had several times noticed, that during
the whole time we had been there we had never seen a vessel on the
horizon. That was a mournful evening, so sad and painful that I am sure
none of those who participated in it could forget it as long as life
lasted. And in the midst of the fears that assailed us regarding our
future lot, many were the sorrowful thoughts we had as to what could
have become of the kind good Captain, the faithful and attached Smart,
and all those worthy companions, so lately forming a part of ourselves.
Darkness had long wrapped the little island in her dull mantle, but sobs
were heard in different parts of the little cavern in which we had all
been obliged to congregate for the night, and gentle whispers of prayer
to the giver of all good rose now and then in the stillness of the
night, shewing that some hearts felt too deeply to sleep; the
overwrought minds sought comfort from the bountiful fountain of love and
compassion, that increaseth as it is poured forth. And full well can we
say, our trust hath not been in vain, deeply as we suffered then and
since. But on looking back to that time, and all the subsequent trials
that have befallen us, I think this period was the most painful we ever
endured. Not only were we in miserable uncertainty about ourselves, but
we lost and bewildered ourselves in painful conjectures as as to what
could have become of our companions.

To have been told that they were really destroyed, that we should never
see them more, that we must depend upon ourselves for every thing, and
upon chance that we might be taken from the island, would I think have
been less painful to bear than the state in which we found ourselves. At
any rate then we should have known what to do, and would in all
probability have exerted ourselves to better our condition as best we
could.

But at present we were like people suddenly left in the dark, with the
additional feeling of not knowing when it would be light again, or what
we could do to free ourselves. Say that we were to sit still, and wait
with patience, hoping the best, believing it impossible that we could be
alone and deserted, this could not last, we could not sit still for
ever. Say that we immediately made up our minds to the worst; that we
were alone, and to be so for an indefinite, perhaps final period; that
we must shift for ourselves; that our welfare, peace, comfort, food,
clothing, solely depended on our own exertions; then, perhaps, after
making these exertions, after using every effort, and they would be no
slight ones, but must commence immediately with great toil, and anxious
thought, they would arrive, we should be saved, and thus have undergone
unnecessary labour and fatigue for nothing.

Yet we were at present fitted for neither of these fates. The life of
ease and enjoyment without care or thought, that we had indulged in for
two months; the indolent habits we had contracted from the, to us,
unusual hot climate; the strangeness and suddenness of our fate, all
combined to unnerve us, and for the present overwhelm the energy and
strength of character necessary for such emergency.

That was a memorable night, calm and serene, as it was after the great
storm of the preceding one. Troubled and tempest-tost was each heart as
it awakened scared by its own dreams, through which ran wild visions of
the beloved faces, perhaps never more to be seen. Yearnings after the
homes we had so thoughtlessly left, the scenes we might never more
behold, the voices perchance we should never hear again. Every thing we
loved and valued and had left! seemed on this memorable night to come
vividly before us. Was it therefore to be wondered that with subdued and
chastened feelings we all met the next day, the elder ones steeling
their hearts, and recovering their minds to enter into a regular
discussion and investigation of the fate destined for them; the younger
ones meek and sorrowful but most loving and engaging in their simple
reliance on our words, and their quiet, but watchful anticipations of
our looks and wishes, and this day happened to be a Sunday.

We generally performed the church service on an elevated, but small
platform above the dining place, looking down upon the great chestnut
tree, and indeed upon all our possessions. Thus endeavouring to realize
the scenes so often seen in England, where the pretty simple church,
with its graceful spire, is seen on an elevated place, while the humble
cottages, and rose-covered houses clustered round its base.

To make the resemblance more perfect, one single large cocoa-nut tree,
with its tall stem and fan-like head, was the only tree growing near the
spot, and the children were wont to call this tree when its solitary
condition caught their eye, the church spire.

The cliff shelved over some feet, making a natural shade and cover, and
here we placed the proper seats, two only being at the foot of the tree
whose occupants read and responded to the church service.

Sometimes a sermon was read after the prayers, but more often it was my
habit to give each of the young ones a text from the Holy Bible, and
from that they made small sermons, or rather remarks of their own which
were meant only for the Mother's eye, and sacredly respected by her in
that particular.

On this Sunday, the prayers being over, the psalm sung, they waited a
short space for me to give them their texts as usual, but seeing how
sorrowful and weak I was, and so slow in finding them out, they asked to
choose their own texts for this time, which I willingly granted.

They separated to perform their own tasks until dinner time, after which
Schillie and I intended between us to enter into a full discussion of
our present state, and future lot, assisted by Madame, before them all.
"In the multitude of councillors there is knowledge," and tho' many of
our party were so young, yet I have often noticed happy thoughts, and
very sage ideas rise in little heads, and amongst so many might not some
brilliant conception arise, some fresh thought be promulgated which had
escaped the harassed minds, and jaded spirits of the older heads. My
readers shall judge of this in the next chapter.



CHAPTER XVIII.


The meal was finished, everything was cleared away, the two maids were
bid come and form part of the conclave, we were all equal now, and every
one was to have a voice in this council.

Madame began by saying that she thought I was unnaturally hasty in
concluding that we were really left on this island for life. "So many
things, dear Madam, may have occurred to prevent their coming, of which
we know nothing. Besides, Captain MacNab knew that we had provisions for
six months, and he might not like to trust the vessel to the hurricanes
that often precede the rainy season."

_Mother._--"That is very true, Madame, but I don't think the Captain
would willingly put us to such anxiety; besides, he knows that we have
no shelter to screen us from the violent effects of the rain."

_Madame._--"But I think, Madam, we should not so immediately conclude
that he is not coming at all, and that we are inevitably left alone
here."

_Mother._--"I do not conclude so inevitably, but it is better to come to
some decision than to spend our time as we have done the last six
weeks. Had we not spent our days in hoping instead of doing we should
not be in such an uncomfortable situation as we are now. Two children
have certainly got symptoms of ague, and you have a wretched cold and
cough, half our worldly possessions are more or less damaged by the
rain, and should it return, where are we to look for shelter, what can
we do to preserve the goods left us?"

_Madame._--"I have no doubt that the storm of the other night was only
the precursor of the rainy season, which lasts from fifteen to
twenty-five days in the climate to which I have been accustomed."

_Mother._--"Then there is the more necessity for our exerting ourselves.
Tell me, Schillie, what do you think?"

_Schillie._--"I think nothing. If we are to be drowned, it's the same to
me whether it is by rain or sea."

_Mother._--"Nay, you are unkind. It is at moments like these when clear
heads and quick wits are most invaluable. You surely don't intend to
burden me with the sole arrangement of this painful and arduous
undertaking."

_Schillie._--"I don't see what you have got to bother yourself about.
You would build a hut spite of all I could say, and the first shower
drove it down on your ears."

Several voices exclaimed, "Oh, cousin Schillie, a shower! did you call
that dreadful storm a shower!" while Madame lifted up her hands and
eyes, and said, "it was a fearful deluge."

_Schillie._--"Yes, yes, I dare say it was rather heavy; but it is
nothing to what we shall have."

"Heaven forbid," again exclaimed Madame, while the little ones seemed
equally aghast at the idea.

_Mother._--"I grant that building more huts is out of the question, and,
besides, we have not time, I suppose, but we must do something to save
what we have left of our property. Come, girls, what can you suggest?"

_Sybil._--"I can only think of covering everything with those great big
plantain leaves."

_Serena._--"And we can put stones on them to keep them down; and by
putting a great many layers, I don't think it is possible the rain can
get through."

_Mother._--"And you, Gatty."

"Oh," said Gatty, getting very red, and twisting her pocket handkerchief
into a series of knots, "I don't know much about such things, but,"
seeing she must speak out, "perhaps stowing them away under a big tree
would do."

_Zoë._--"I think the same as Gatty, Mother, for it must be impossible
for the heaviest rain to get through some of the thick trees out there."

_Winny._--"I am not certain which plan I think best; but I will wait and
hear what Mother thinks before I quite decide."

_Lilly._--"I think digging a deep hole, and burying them in the sand
would be the best."

_Oscar._--"Just as if the rain would not go through the sand. You always
think of such out-of-the-way things, Lilly."

_Mother._--"But I do not think hers's such a bad idea, I think it a very
good one for such a little girl; but what do you think best yourself?"

_Oscar._--"I think we had much better put them all safe in the cavern in
which we sleep, especially the powder and shot, because if that gets wet
it is done for, and we can dry ourselves by a fire, and yet not be
hurt."

_Madame._--"Oh, my dear boy, you do not know how dangerous it is to get
wet in this climate, and as for sleeping out all night, you would not be
alive for one week."

_Oscar._--"But it is of very great consequence, Madame, that we should
preserve the guns, and powder, and shot. Supposing your friends, the
savages, should come, how are we to kill them if I have no powder and
shot, I should like to know."

Felix warmly supported Oscar, merely saying, "If Mama's plan is a better
one, I will choose that, but I suppose you won't mind, Oscar!" Oscar set
him at rest on this subject.

Hargrave vehemently protested against the powder and shot being placed
any where near, what she considered her property, namely all our
clothes, trinkets, bonnets, and caps, and bitterly bewailed the mischief
the storm had done amongst various silk dresses, and pretty smart caps.
Nearly all the young ladies' bonnets were more or less hurt, and not
finding her wits capable of discussing any other subject, we released
her from the obligation placed on every one else, namely to give their
opinion on what we should do.

Jenny sided with her dear Miss Lilly, partly because she had been
snubbed by Oscar, and partly because she had a great opinion of her
sense and quickness.

Having gone the round of the family, nothing remained but to sum up the
whole, and make the most of it. That most was so little, we were soon
all in high discussion again. Madame and Oscar being the principal
talkers, and carrying on their dispute to some length, she declaring the
cavern must not be given up, he vociferating that the powder and shot
must be saved. They at length arrived at a pitch, so as to extract an
observation from Schillie, which was one reason why I had allowed the
boy to argue so much.

_Schillie._--"Madame, it is too hot to get into such a stew. Do you
imagine there is only one cavern in the island?"

_Oscar._--"And so I wanted to tell Madame, but she would not hear me
out. I did not want your old cavern, Madame, I only wanted to put all
the things safe in some cavern."

_Schillie._--"I think, instead of making all this noise, we had better
go and search for some more caverns."

_Madame._--"But it is Sunday."

_Schillie._--"Necessity has no law, Madame, besides the heavens are at
work, see!"

As she spoke, the lightning played before us, and the heavy thunder
broke over our heads. We crouched beneath the rock, but the cloud passed
away, the sun came out again, brilliantly lighting up the rain-drops
which fell sharply and heavily for ten minutes.

"Now then," said Schillie, "we will all go and search for caverns. You
had better lie down, as you look done up. We will be absent an hour, or
you may sound the conch-shell to bring us home in time for evening
church. And, Hargrave, have something ready to drink when we return. I
shall be dying of thirst, I know."

Every one followed her, Madame and Hargrave only making short searchings
near at hand. In the meantime, I lay down and looked at all the texts
the young ones had brought to me, as was their custom before the Sunday
dinner, and which on this day they had chosen for themselves. How
profoundly was I affected at the selection they had made, and the simple
trustful observations accompanying each, while the wish to comfort
pervaded them all, mixed with hopeful anticipations that all would end
well, and earnest protestations that they would be very good, and I had
only to speak to be obeyed. But I think their own papers will better
show the comfort and consolation they gave me than all I can say on the
subject, and I will therefore give them verbatim:--


SYBIL'S SERMON.

_Psalm_ 107, verses 4, 5, 6.--"They went astray in the wilderness out of
the way, and found no city to dwell in. Their soul fainted within them.
So they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out
of their distress."

How good is our great Father in giving such consolation to us. We cannot
believe He will forsake us, when in almost every page of His Holy Book
we find promises of help and deliverance to those who trust in Him; and
how happy should we feel in believing that the greater our sorrow and
desolation the nearer we are to Him who afflicts those whom he loveth.
Let us think also what comfort he has left us still--that we are not
solitary in this lonely island--that our Mothers and dear companions are
with us; and let us show our gratitude for such mercies left us by
becoming more obedient, loving, and dutiful to those whose sorrow for
our forlorn state is so deep. May we be a comfort to our Mother, and
always think that in this small island, as in the great world, our
thoughts and actions are known, our prayers are listened to by One who
has promised never to leave or forsake us. How happy it is to think that
on this Holy day numbers of our fellow creatures are in our own dear
country praying "for all those in danger, necessity, and tribulation,"
and whose voices in earnest prayer meet ours, and join with those of the
choir of angels above. We may hope that He who supports and sends us
comfort in our despair may console our sorrowing ones at home, and give
them hopes, as He does us, of meeting them again in this world. For our
Saviour, Jesus Christ's sake, whose loving words "It is I, be not
afraid," follow us and comfort us far from home. We will ask him to look
down and guard our little island, which He brought from the depths of
the sea, to be our refuge from storms and winds. To Him whose care is
over us we commit ourselves, and those near and dear to us, and we will
believe "that those who cry unto the Lord in their trouble He delivereth
them from their distress."


SERENA'S SERMON.

"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord
hearkened."--_Malachi_ iii. 16.

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to hear us, for we fear Thee and love Thee. We
are separated from those we love; we cannot speak to them, or they to
us; we have little prospect before us of ever seeing them again; but we
have the gracious Lord to speak to, and we have His gracious promise
that He will hear us. Through our Father in Heaven we can hold
intercourse with our Father on earth. We pray for him, and we know God
heareth the prayer that goeth not out of feigned lips. He prays for us,
and God heareth him, as we see daily, hourly, in the lovely place
allotted to us, in the fruits that rise before us, in the flowers that
spring up to our hands, in the love we bear each other, and, oh, more
than all, in the privilege that we may speak to each other of the
Lord's mercies and loving kindnesses, and know that he heareth us, for
Jesus Christ's sake. Then let us remember, should despondency overwhelm
us, or sorrow cast her gloomy mantle upon us, that this land is not our
"abiding place," that here we have no "continuing city," but that beyond
the tomb we have an house prepared, not made with hands, where we shall
not only meet those from whom we have been torn in this life, but such
things "as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered
into the heart of man to conceive."


GERTRUDE'S SERMON.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall
mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they
shall walk and not faint."--_Isaiah_ xl. 31.

It is a very happy thing for us that the great God has mercifully
promised in such numerous places in the Bible health and strength in our
hour of need, for, indeed, we require it now more than ever I remember
before; for, though we have everything we could want in this wretched
little island, we seem doomed to pass our days here, never more to see
everything we loved at home. But there is a heaven above, where there is
to be no sorrow, where "tears shall be wiped away from every eye," and
to this we must raise our hearts, trusting that God will renew our
strength and make us strong to fulfil our duties until the time comes
for us to meet them. We must pray to Him that we be not weary or faint
in doing the work He has set before us, that we may be worthy of going
to that place where "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are
at rest."


ZOË'S SERMON.

"Oh! what great troubles and adversities hast Thou showed me, and yet
didst Thou turn and refresh me."--_Psalm_ lxxi. 8.

Ever since we left our happy home we have been troubled and tossed
about. Many adversities have fallen upon us that we never thought could
have happened. But God has willed it so, and for wise purposes. Perhaps
He thought us too happy; perhaps it was necessary to do us good that we
should be thus afflicted. Let us then not grieve, but look into our
hearts to see our faults, and then we shall have so much to do that time
will pass quickly, and we shall have peace and comfort in our minds
beyond all other pleasure, the peace that our Heavenly Father gives to
those who strive to please Him. This will make our little island like a
paradise, preparing us for the happy and beautiful paradise where we
shall meet all those we love so much.


WINNY'S SERMON.

"But God shall deliver the island of the innocent."--_Job_ xxii. 30.

I think this is an island in which we now live, and I think that we who
are in it are innocent people; therefore God will love us, and take care
of us, for He tells us so in His Holy Book. Look at my text, and study
it; there is a great promise, and nobody in the world, I am sure, wants
such a promise so much as we poor lonely people do. Let us then be very
innocent and good, and then we shall be certain that God means that holy
promise, which I have written down as my text for us, and just as much
as if He spoke it to us. And, though we are all alone here, we have our
Bibles to teach us to be innocent people, and that's what no savages or
heathen people have, and, therefore, we should rejoice and be glad, and
sing a song of thankfulness. And now I think I have explained my text,
and have only to say that we must often pray to our Heavenly Father,
through Jesus Christ, because without His help we cannot be innocent
people.


LILLY'S SERMON.

"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people."

When we look into the Holy Book of God, at every page we read something
that does us good; that is, if our hearts are rightly turned towards
God, so that we wish to do His will and not our own. Lo I opened my
Bible at this place, and found my text, and think it very proper for us,
for we do comfort each other, and God comforts us, and we have nothing
to wish for, and nothing to want, except to see our homes once more.
And, if God wills that we should return home, how happy and grateful
shall we be, and if He does not, we have much to do here, especially in
comforting each other, and, if we work cheerfully, without sorrow and
grief, great shall be our reward in heaven.


END OF THE SERMONS.



CHAPTER XIX.


While I was thus thinking my dear companions returned from their search
which had been very successful. I kissed and thanked them all for their
pretty thoughts and comforting words, and told them how much good they
had done me, and how, for this once I must show them all to Madame and
Schillie, that they might derive the same pleasure from them that I did,
to which Sybil, as spokeswoman for all, gave a smiling blushing consent,
and, though they did not read them just then, yet I may as well say that
Madame could not sufficiently express her admiration of these innocent
Sermons, and got leave from me and them to copy them into a book of her
own; and, whenever she was ill or out of spirits, we always saw the
little marble-covered book, containing them, brought out and regularly
studied.

Schillie, in a more characteristic manner, expressed her approbation,
saying that they were all good worthy children, and they wrote much
better Sermons than most she had heard, for, besides being greatly to
the point, they were extremely short.

And, now to return to the caverns. They had found a perfect series of
comfortable places, as they called them, some being connected with
others, so that we could go from one to the other without being exposed
to the wet.

We had another severe storm that night, but the next day we worked and
stowed everything away as well as we could. The old original cavern,
being to Oscar's great delight the receptacle for the gunpowder and
ammunition, more because it was the furthest from the others than from
any particular wish to oblige him. Every now and then in the midst of
our arrangements we had a severe storm, generally accompanied with
thunder and lightning. To be exposed to one for only a few minutes
wetted us quite through, therefore not wishing to lose a moment of such
precious time, it was not until late in the evening that we changed or
rested. At the end of three days we had done wonders, but had nearly
done ourselves up also. That morning there was no sun; nothing but
continual pouring down of rain all day, and so it continued for a
fortnight. During this time we made ourselves more comfortable in the
three caverns, which communicated with each other; one of which was very
dark and close. The lighter ones we used all day, but they smelt damp
and unwholesome, and the children began to grow pale, and become
restless. Besides our food was but indifferent; no fruit or vegetables,
or fish. Eggs we had in abundance from the chickens and ducks we had
brought with us, and which had scarcely ceased laying since we arrived,
so much did they thrive in this luxuriant island. The evenings were very
tedious, and we had to invent all sorts of games which would at once
amuse them, and yet be exercise also.

Felix and Winny were both attacked with ague, and Madame had so bad a
cough no lessons could be done. I wondered at first, on hearing Gatty's
eager enquiries every morning after Madame, until I accidently heard in
answer by Hargrave that Madame had not slept during the night, "All
right, girls, the cough is delightfully bad." This put me and Schillie
upon employing our spare time in teaching them ourselves, which
announcement was at first received rather coldly; but they derived such
infinite amusement from our inaptness to the business that they were
quite impatient if anything prevented us performing this office. With
the utmost gravity and demureness Gatty would bring me the same lesson
to repeat every day; and though I must, in justice to myself, allow that
I thought it must be the easiest book in the world, it seemed all the
same thing, I was too innocent to imagine she was amusing herself at my
expense. How long I should have gone on I know not, but her exquisite
delight at my simplicity was too great to be kept in, she told her own
secret amidst the laughter of all, her dupe being one of the most
amused. Sybil and Serena took equal liberties, all more from the love of
fun than real delinquency, so that during our reign lessons were at a
premium. Schillie undertook writing and summing, and as she was always
mending pens and cutting pencils, holding one or other between her lips,
she was often not in a condition to reprimand by words, consequently a
tap on the head, a blow on the cheek, a pinch on the arm, generally
expressed her disapprobation. Moreover, she was very impatient if the
sums were done wrong, and exclaiming, "Good lack, what young noodles,"
would do the sums again herself, instead of making the delinquents
correct them. This plan I pronounced with great dignity as highly
improper; she, in dudgeon, said I was a noodle too, and we came to high
words, much to the delight and gratification of our pupils.

But Sybil and Serena delighted in drawing her out while they were all
three reading aloud to her in turns their English History. Then warmed
with her subject, delighting in all the political and historical
details, she would take the book from their hands, and enter into long
discussions, her strong whig principles startling the two bred and born
tory girls into sufficient argument and opposition to give piquancy and
eloquence to her words as they flowed rapidly from her lips. During
these periods, Gatty, who only cared to get done as quick as possible
what she was obliged to do, and thought all these digressions a great
bore, employed her idle fingers in whatever mischief lay within her
reach. If she had no pocket handkerchief to twist into holes, it took
her but a few minutes to dog-ear a whole book; or, probably, the
energetic discussion and the attentive listeners would be interrupted
by a sudden crash, proclaiming the tearing of something, and each would
instinctively look round for their handkerchiefs; or she would collect
little animals, like ants, spiders, or flies, and, having got a handful,
would empty them over one of the three; in fact, she would do anything
to put an end to the discussion, that they might finish their allotted
task and get it over. Then in wrath Schillie would turn round and
exclaim, "You idle young monkey, why don't you go on with your reading?"

_Gatty_ (demurely).--"If you please, little Mother, we can't."

_Schillie._--"Cannot! What stops you, I should like to know? Nothing but
your own laziness, keeping me waiting here all day."

_Gatty_ (still more meekly).--"If you please, little Mother, you have
got the book."

_Schillie._--"Got the book! Who wants to keep your book? I am sure I
don't; I only wish to have done with you as soon as possible."

_Gatty._--"If you please, little Mother, you stopped us to talk about
those people."

_Schillie._--"Those people indeed! You who ought to be more interested
in such characters than the other girls, because your Father's name will
be handed down to posterity in the same manner. I am quite done up with
you being such an owlet, Gatty."

_Gatty._--"If you please, little Mother, I don't care about them at all.
They are all dead, and they are nothing to me, and I only wish they had
not lived, and then we should not have had such a long History of
England to read through."

Such speeches were too much for Schillie's fortitude, and Gatty's
sparkling eyes showed how successful her manœuvres were in being
dismissed at once, "as too stupid to be borne with."

Sometimes I handed over the little girls to her to say their lessons,
and they were invariably dismissed before they could have said half of
them. And when I enquired the reason thereof, "Poor little victims," she
answered, "what is the use of addling their brains with such a cart load
of lessons, one more silly than another. As if they could not order a
much better dinner than is mentioned in this French phrase book, and all
that trumpery poetry; and their geography book is the stupidest I ever
saw, as if they did not all know what an island is. It's my opinion they
will know too well what an island is, without learning it in a book."

With the boys she got on pretty well, except hurting Felix's feelings
now and then by saying, "Now learn your book, and don't eat it this
time," which allusion generally caused a tear or two, he having a well
very near his eyes.

None of the young ones were anxious to give up their new governesses,
but they, on the contrary, hailed the return of fine weather with great
joy.



CHAPTER XX.


I fancied we all looked quite mouldy, when we emerged from our dusky
dark caverns. But the weather was so delicious, so cool and refreshing;
everything was so green and beautiful that we soon revived. I thought it
necessary to take an inventory of all our possessions, that we might
husband them as much as possible. We also attended greatly to our
gardens, and the few remaining potatoes that we had were planted that we
might not be totally bereft of such a useful vegetable. I never saw
anything like the growth of the English vegetables we had brought with
us. They were almost too luxuriant, approaching to rankness.

Day after day passed by and we were still alone. No ardently-desired
vessel hove in sight, nothing met our longing gaze as we daily scanned
the horizon. Fearing the inevitable lowness of spirits that such
constant hoping and longing, followed by as constant disappointment,
must end in, I, one evening, said that I should not at all like being
cooped up in those caverns again the next rainy season.

_Schillie._--"Now if you mention one word about building one of your old
huts, you shall be whipt."

_Mother._--"Oh no, no! I have had quite enough of the huts. I have not
the smallest intention of building such another flimsy affair."

_Schillie._--"Then if you are going to talk common sense, I am quite
willing to listen. Those caverns certainly put one rather in mind of
one's grave, and I cannot get the nasty dead smell of them out of my
nose. Now then, June, be speedy, and let us hear your intentions. Shall
we build a boat, and betake ourselves off or shall we live _al fresco_,
despite Madame's fears, or what? Come, speak up."

_Mother._--"I don't fancy building a boat at all, much less trusting
myself in it; but, agreeing with you in your horror of huts, I think we
must now make a good substantial house."

"Your horror!" said Schillie. "Delightful," exclaimed all the others.
"What splendid fun. How very charming. Where shall it be? Let us begin
immediately."

Spite of all her opposition, Schillie knew very well we must have a
house, and the more she grumbled I knew the harder she would work. So
everybody was ordered to use their best wits, and give their opinions as
to the kind, size, situation, and other things belonging to the intended
mansion, and at tea-time the sense of the company was to be taken. In
the meantime I compared our list of goods, with what the captain had
made out for us, and found that we had suffered considerably by the
rain. Out of seven barrels of flour four were nearly spoilt; a cask of
cheese and ship's biscuit was all that remained of those commodities;
not a bit of the salted beef and pork could be touched, we had to throw
it all away, but some bacon and hams were quite good. We had four or
five cases of preserved meats, but, as Jenny observed, we could eat
those up in a week, and then what were we to do for meat. I gave her
clearly to understand that we must do without meat for the future, which
caused her to drop one of our saucepans in surprise and dismay, while
she exclaimed, "Whatever, Ma'am, shall we do about Master Felix if he
has no meat, and he growing so fast?" "Whatever, Jenny, shall we do if
you knock holes in the saucepans in such a careless way?" said I. Jenny
apologised as best she could, but it was evident all the saucepans in
the world might get punched into holes provided her little master had
meat for his dinner every day; she comforted herself very much, however,
thinking of the ducks and chickens, though she bewailed over his great
affection for mutton chops and beef steaks, and now for the future that
weakness of his would run no chance of being gratified.

The potatoes were nearly all gone, as before mentioned, but that was to
be only a temporary deprivation. We had stores sufficient to last for
six months of rice, sago, tapioca, tea, coffee, sugar, raisins, and all
those kind of things; but the ship's provisions, which had been mostly
left behind to lighten the vessel (the Captain having only taken what
was just necessary) were greatly damaged by the rain; they had not been
in good tin cases like ours, and eventually were of little use. The
packets of seeds became now our most valuable possessions. We had a
great quantity of ropes, spars, sails, and other things belonging to the
vessel, carpenters' tools, nails, screws, &c., all of which became
invaluable to us, though we afterwards discovered a good substitute for
nails in the thick sharp thorns of a species of Cactus. We had a great
deal of furniture, sofas, bedding, hammocks, tables, chairs, bookcases,
a great deal of pantry furniture, of which we were now most careful,
knowing we could never replace the china or glass; also, we had a plate
chest, in which we had silver to the value of £200. Of kitchen utensils
we were greatly in want, almost everything having been lost in the
caboose when it was washed away. We had two kettles and a small boiler.
The men had constructed a sort of fire-place and oven for Jenny before
they left, but it was so far from the dining place that we had
everything generally cold. We had about six dozen bottles of various
sorts of wine, a large cask of rum and another of brandy, which belonged
to the ship's company, plenty of beer, ale, and porter, which, however,
being in casks, spoilt long before we could drink it, from the heat of
the climate. But such details must be tedious, as it can be easily
imagined what our possessions would be out of a vessel victualled,
furnished, and prepared for a twelve months' voyage. The result of the
investigation, however, proved that of civilized food we had but little,
and that we must soon set about preparing to live upon what the island
would afford us. And when I looked round on the fertility and richness
surrounding us, and the vast variety of food we could indulge in, I
could not help thanking the Giver of all good for so much mercy showered
upon us in the midst of such extraordinary events.

We had one cock and eleven hens and about seven ducks, all of whom
seemed to provide themselves with food, without any assistance from us.

Every one knows that in preparing for a sea voyage quantities of linen
are necessary; we were therefore most fortunate in that particular. I
had also pieces of muslin, white and coloured, which I brought to make
frocks for the young ones in the hot climates, knowing how fast they
would grow. I left the arrangement of the clothes to Hargrave, who
grumbled and put away, and put away and grumbled to her heart's content.
She arranged all the best dresses and also the fine things, laces and
trinkets, in such a manner that she could constantly look at them, as
she could not have the satisfaction of seeing us wear them, and to each
person was given out a certain quantity of wearing apparel that was to
last a given time. But these are such dry details, that I will proceed
at once to tea, at which such an important subject as building a house
was to be discussed.



CHAPTER XXI.


While I and the two maids had been undergoing the dull labour mentioned
in the preceding chapter, all the others had been attending to their
gardens, and they all flocked to tea, laden with fruit and decorated
with flowers, looking so pretty and happy that I could not but think,
whatever our lot, we should retain our spirits and cheerfulness to the
end. Schillie came last, dragging with her a heap of unknown lichens,
creepers, and mosses, on all of which she wanted me to hold a
consultation as to what they could be.

Having made some highly-satisfactory guesses, and also having discovered
amongst our books one on Botany, and another on Natural History of all
kinds, and also the Travels of a Gentleman in the West Indies, that gave
a very accurate account of all the productions natural to the climate we
were in, she was in an especial good humour.

Sybil begged earnestly that the house might be in the gothic style,
which upset Schillie a little, but she pooh, poohed it off, until Serena
came out with a vehement hope that it might be a Swiss cottage. "Swiss
fiddlestick," retorted Schillie, "my dear girls, if you think I shall
break my back and spoil my hands ornamenting a house for you, you will
find yourselves wonderfully deceived." She had very pretty small white
hands. Gatty thought it would be delightful to cut down a tree, and
muttered something about the impossibility of learning lessons and
building a house at the same time. In this she was unanimously supported
by several youthful voices, and Madame was already appealing to me by
looks of a most pathetic kind (she had the most extraordinary horror of
a holiday that I ever saw), and Schillie, on seeing her look, exclaimed,
"Well, Madame, you are certainly not of the same species as I am. I
should be only too willing to give them holidays every day if I were
their governess." "Yes, Madame," said Sybil, "and she acts up to it; for
when you were ill, I heard her say to the little girls that she would
give them a whole holiday that day because they had had only half a one
the day before." Madame looked horror-stricken, and mournfully shook her
head at Schillie.

_Mother._--"Come, come, now, about this house. Where shall we put it
up!"

Many places were suggested, and at last, partly because there were so
many trees there, partly because we fancied it more sheltered, and
partly because it was such a lovely spot, we fixed upon the little
valley or glade which was sheltered by the cliffs on one side and by a
thick wood on the other. In the centre was the great tree which had
bewildered us so by its strange movements while under the influence of
the great Anaconda. Inland, beyond the tree, was the pretty peaceful
lake, and a sloping terrace took us down to it.

Great impatience was now manifested on all sides to begin; Madame alone
was in low spirits. It had been decreed by the higher powers that, until
we could see how we got on in this new and unusual work for feminine
fingers, it was as well to employ the whole force of the island;
besides, after being screwed up in the caverns, where lessons and Madame
were met at every corner, and there was no escape, a little holiday
would be a great boon. The piano had been sadly damaged by the wet, so
we begged her to set it right, that it might be ready for the new
drawing room.

We all drew plans of the house first, and, to the surprise of everybody,
Schillie's was undoubtedly the best. So the little Mother was well
bullied for being so disgusted at having to build a house, and yet
taking the trouble of making such a good plan. She was made clerk of the
works on the spot. Gatty's plan had consisted of merely one square. "On
one side we can sleep," she said, "and on the other sit and do all we
have to do." "But where are we to eat?" said Sybil. "Oh, I think nothing
so stupid as having regular meals," said Gatty. "When I have a house of
my own, I never intend to order anything, but I shall go to the cupboard
and eat when I am hungry." "But," said Winny, "I don't see a cupboard
in your plan, Gatty." "Oh, we will stick one up somewhere, little one,"
returned Gatty.

The high spirits with which every one began their allotted tasks rather
gave way under the fatigue and hard work, so unusual to delicate
fingers. Gatty had earnestly begged to cut down the tree, with Jenny,
Oscar, and Schillie to help. Sybil's hands were too slight and small to
hold the hatchet, so she had to collect grass and moss with the young
ones. The first tree that was cut down, how often it was anathematized,
it seemed determined not to come down. Hot and panting we sat down one
after another to rest, and a sort of vague notion kept running in our
heads, if one tree is such a trouble, what shall we do having to cut
down so many. But Schillie was not to be daunted by a tree; taking a
great glassful of porter, she called on us all to set to work again,
partly laughing at us, partly praising us, and especially animating us
by her energetic example; at length down came our first tree with a
delightful crash. And happy were the boys, sitting astride on the
branches, and sawing away as if they received wages for all they did.
The next tree was more civil, and came down in half the time; the fact
is, we grew more expert, and at last it was but one hour's task among us
all to fell one. In a week we had cleared a good space, sawn and chopped
a vast quantity of wood, and then the clerk of the works ordered me to
get a great feast ready, as the next day she was going to lay, not the
first stone, but the first tree of our house. So we went in great state
to the ceremony, and we took a bottle of wine with us to drink success
to the new house, and the clerk of the works made a very neat and
appropriate speech, in which, however, she showed herself on rather too
familiar terms with her workpeople; and I, in return, proposed, "health
and long life to the clerk of the works," which was received with great
cheering and applause. Madame became quite merry, and having settled the
well-being of the piano, actually offered her services to assist in the
building, and never mentioned lessons the whole day. We had a superb
feast. A magnificent dish of fish, the last piece of beef in our
possession, peas, bacon and beans, roasted yams, a glorious
plum-pudding, with brandy blazing up in the middle, fruit, beautiful to
behold and delicious to taste. Then, after dinner, we sang songs, and
Madame told us some stories, and we went to bed extremely happy, but
nearly as weary of our day's pleasure as we were of our daily work, we
had laughed and talked so much. It was quite a month before the clerk of
the works would allow us to consider our house fit to be looked at, and
I cannot say it was ever quite finished, as we always found something to
alter and arrange in it. It consisted of one hall in the middle, thirty
feet long, twenty feet wide, the walls of which were composed of the
trees we had cut down, a double row of them, the intermediate space
being filled up with everything we could collect in the shape of grass
and moss; the inside was plastered with clay, which, after a while, we
painted, as we had a good store of oils and turpentine and other things,
which had been designed for the ship. On both sides of the hall, we had
what we called lean-tos, the roofs of which began where the roof of the
hall ended, and they sloped down to within four feet of the ground. The
other side, or point of the hall, was the entrance. The sheds on each
side opened into the hall, but had no other outlet. There were two on
each side and one at the end opposite the entrance, which was a kitchen
and scullery. Of the four little side rooms, Schillie and I occupied the
one on the right hand of the door, Madame and the three little girls the
next one, the two maids and two boys opposite us, and the three girls
opposite Madame. The little girls used our room to dress and wash in, so
that Madame's was not intruded upon except at night, and she could keep
it quiet for herself when she wanted to lie down and rest. The bed
places were put just where the roof was lowest, so that, in fact, when
lying down, our faces were within two feet of the roof, but, by this
means, we had more room in which to stand upright and move about. The
kitchen had an outlet at the side. The reason we made our side roofs
slope down so much was to allow the rain to fall off quicker, and to let
hurricanes blow over us, if possible, without finding any resisting
substance the wind could blow away. Then all round our house we planted
the prickly pear, which grew like a weed, so that nothing could attack
our dwelling from the outside, excepting by the door, and that makes me
remember to remark that we had no door at all, and we often laughed at
ourselves for taking such care to guard the sides of the house when we
left open the only place where there was an entrance. However, then we
were under no alarm regarding thieves and robbers. But we had a
sail-cloth curtain, which at night we fastened with bars of wood across,
as much to prevent the wind flapping it to and fro as to hinder anything
getting in; also, each bed-room had a curtain before its door or
entrance. We had a great deal of trouble with the roof it must be
acknowledged, even the clerk of the works stamped her foot, and went so
far as to say, "Hang the roof," to which Sybil demurely replied, "That's
just what we want to do."

We took three spars, one for the middle and two each side, these latter
being placed two feet lower; on these we nailed a strip of sail-cloth
each side, which we tarred and painted very often, especially the
inside, which, at the children's request, was painted in blue, to make
our roof or ceiling look pretty; above the sail-cloth outside we laid a
smooth layer of leaves, and then across we nailed shingles of wood
lapped one over the other, which again were seamed by cross pieces very
strongly fastened. Lucky it was that the walls were so thick, otherwise
such an elaborate roof could never have been supported. When finished,
we all had an argument as to whether it really would resist water, and
Gatty offered, with Serena to help her, to go up and empty buckets of
water on it to try. This handsome offer was declined, as we thought the
rain would do that soon enough, and we were at present too much in love
with our work to bear the shock of finding all our labour was thrown
away. I am afraid of appearing tedious in describing our many mistakes,
our frequent mishaps, and the many blundering contrivances we had.
Certain it is that to the clerk of the works we owed most of our
neatness, to the quick wits of the girls many of our ideas, and one and
all worked with a will. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the commonest
carpenter in the smallest village would have laughed at the house we
built, and how we rectified gaps with grass and moss, how things warped
one way and others shrunk the contrary, how nails stuck out their points
and their heads were utterly lost, how screws were such a time before
they would ever screw for us, how, animated by the clerk of the works,
few thought of chopped fingers and hammered hands, how others ceased to
shriek at the monstrous spiders, centipedes, lizards and small snakes,
appearing every minute in the grass and moss; and now one and all
agreed, that, in spite of every impediment, we should have the
housewarming dinner and the first usage of our new mansion on the first
Christmas-day we had ever spent on this unknown but lonely island.



CHAPTER XXII.


And so it was quite ready, and with what pride and satisfaction we
viewed it. We took little private excursions around it; we made
innumerable drives into it; we gave it affectionate little pattings, as
if it was a child; we smoothed down little inequalities; we utterly
denied the existence of a smell of paint, an idea hazarded by Madame.
Schillie had a doubt it was rather on one side, which doubt was driven
to the winds. Sybil suggested a wish that it had been made higher, for
which she was scouted by the older ones, and nearly tickled to death by
the younger ones. Not even the remembrance of our home put us out of
conceit of our new, but certainly most clumsy mansion. Oh home! That
lovely home? Are we to see it again, or is it only to be seen in a dream
of the past; and our kith and kin, our kind good neighbours, all that we
loved so much, were we to see them no more? But this was Christmas-day.

The young ones had swept and decorated our church, as well as they could
in imitation of the churches at home. Certainly nothing could be more
gorgeous than the long trailing creepers that hung suspended all round,
some with scarlet flowers, some bright blue, the magnificent hibiscus,
the beautiful bell-shaped datura, with innumerable others, to which we
could give no names.

This was to be a complete holiday. We dressed in silks and satins, we
exchanged gifts, we offered to each other the proper Christmas greeting.
Can I say that no heart was sad, that no remembrance of past Christmases
haunted the celebration of this day? It is but too true that sad
thoughts arose, but they were not for ourselves.

I must, however, proceed with the opening of the new house, which was
also to have a name given it. After church we all helped to get dinner
ready. Schillie cooked with Jenny, being determined to have some superb
turtle soup. I made by her orders some lime punch, Hargrave boiled
vegetables of all kinds, the girls got fruit and flowers, Madame
arranged them, and the boys were getting the fish. I went into the
kitchen to ask Schillie some question relative to the punch, and was
sent out with a word and a blow almost. Her face was blazing like a
warming pan, the soup was at its most important crisis. Gatty hearing
the explosion of wrath, came as was her usual custom to join in the
_mêlée_, also got a shower of invectives, but, knowing the soup-pot
could not be left, she stood her ground, and occupied herself in various
petty acts of mischief. For instance, the new cook had a perfect series
of cloths and such like articles pinned to her when she made her
appearance. Hargrave found all the gourds and pipkins into which she had
put the vegetables changed, and, not being naturally sweet tempered, she
declared, "Miss Gertrude was the most aggravatingest creature she ever
met, and she would not serve her for a pound a day." But all ended well,
and the dinner was served. We had boiled chickens at the top, and roast
chickens at the bottom, and we had roast ducks on both sides, and the
great bowl of turtle soup was in the middle, with two jugs of lime punch
each side, and we had guava jelly in two places, and a pumpkin pie, and
roasted yams, and rice and fruit mixed together of all kinds. In fact,
it was a perfect Lord Mayor's feast. Schillie had insisted on dining
like Christians, as she called it, with dinner napkins and finger
glasses. The rest of the dinner table was covered with fruits and
flowers, such as I am sure no Lord Mayor ever saw at his table. Grace
was said. Schillie, with the dinner napkin spread out with an air, her
face still glowing, but bland in the extreme knowing that she had
achieved a triumph of cookery, proceeded to serve the soup. I being the
first to taste it pronounced it delicious. Madame thought it the best
she had ever tasted! when we heard an exclamation from Schillie, "In the
name of all that's ridiculous what's in the soup?" said she, turning
wrathfully to Jenny. "Indeed, Madam, you poured it out of the pan
yourself, and I only brought it in." "What can it be, here is something
hard at the bottom rolling about, and I declare everything was stewed to
a sponge when I last stirred it," continued she in rising choler.

_Gatty_ (rising with great alacrity).--"If you please, little Mother,
shall I try to fish it out?"

_Schillie._--"Fish fiddlesticks out, indeed, Miss Gatty. Ah you may look
as demure as you like, I'll be bound you are at the bottom of this
mischief. I remember now, when I was taking off these rags you pinned on
me, my back was turned. Now, tell me this instant, you young crocodile,
what have you been putting in the soup?"

_Gatty._--"If you please, little Mother, don't be so angry, it's only a
stone, and I washed it quite clean."

_Schillie._--"Then take that stone for your dinner, Miss, and nothing
else shall you have."

This threat of course went for nothing, and Gatty had as much dinner as
any of us, and, perhaps, rather more, considering that she was nearly
the biggest of us all, and also never being still, she required more
nourishment to keep up the demand upon the constitution.

We made Jenny and Hargrave dine with us. Hargrave mincing her words,
looking dignified, and eating next to nothing, because she thought it
more ladylike; while Jenny sat between her two dear boys, and made
nearly as much noise as they did, swallowing all they made her taste out
of their own plates, though she was helped out of the same dishes they
were. The chattering on all sides could only equal the eating. I
proposed the health of the new house with the first glass of lime punch.
This was drank with great applause, and a discussion ensued as to what
we should call it.

_Schillie_ (with her mouth full of turtle).--"Pooh, pooh, use your
brains for some other purpose. It's a house, is it not? Then why not
call it a house!"

_Sybil._--"But all houses have names to distinguish them."

_Schillie._--"Alack, if you are not a young noodle. Pray, who has got a
house here besides? A great boon it would be to have some neighbours to
whom one could talk common sense."

_Serena._--"Oh, we will talk as much common sense as you like, little
Mother; and the first thing I shall say is, though there is but one
house in the island, we may just as well make it as like home as we can,
and call it the same name."

I nodded approvingly to the dear girl for her nice thought. Madame's
pocket handkerchief was in requisition, while Schillie, who seemed to
favour Serena's remarks with more attention than any of the others,
said, "Call it any name you like, my dear child, if it gives you the
smallest pleasure; only you will see house it is, and house it will be
called, until a hurricane blows it down."

"Oh don't, my dear Madam," murmured Madame. "Hurricanes will come,"
repeated Schillie. "I would oblige you if I could, but in this
particular I am not clerk of the works, and have no control."

"Then," said Sybil, "we will call it Maescelyn."

"No," said Oscar, "I won't have it called that. The real Maescelyn is a
castle, very large, airy, and handsome to look at, and this is a dingy
little house, with no windows in it."

What a start we all gave. It was too true. Even the clerk of the works
looked quite silly. The house that had cost us such infinite labour, on
which we looked with such pride and affection, had no windows of any
kind or sort in its principal room. It is true the door was very wide,
it is true that floods of light poured in through it, but, suppose we
had to shut the door (that is when we had made one) what could we do
then? It is true the little bed-rooms had each their little pigeon holes
for light and ventilation, and that the back kitchen was very airy, but
our hall, dining-room, drawing-room, school-room (the pride of our
hearts and delight of our eyes) had no windows whatever. No wonder we
all felt the remark was true. Felix spoke first, but only in a whisper,
which whisper passed round among the young ones, and marvellously
restored their equanimity. "There was no possibility of doing lessons in
the dark." As Madame became aware of this telegraphic dispatch, and saw
its effect, she grew quite nervous, which always caused her to lose her
voice. In vain she attempted an expostulation, and, what between her
efforts and the rising exultation, I began to apprehend she would have
a fit, so I comforted her, and said, "Never mind, Madame, we will have a
window without doubt somewhere, and at present you see we don't want
one, for the door throws in so much light, that we never found out we
ought to have windows." I don't think the clerk of the works spoke for
the next half hour, she was so annoyed; but, what we thought a great
misfortune proved afterwards a very desirable thing, for it was most
refreshing in the glaring sunshine and hot baking air to come into the
dark cool house, the walls of which being so thick, and filled up with
clay, preventing the heat penetrating into it.

So we carried on the discussion about the name; Madame, Sybil, Serena,
and Winifred all for calling it Maescelyn. Oscar, Felix, Lilly, and
Jenny all against it. The little Mother, not having recovered herself
gave no name, Gatty was waiting for her opinion before she gave any,
for, though in constant warfare, their similarity of tastes made them in
reality sworn friends. Hargrave also would give no name, principally
because she said, "It was a 'orrifying place, and very outrageous," by
which we suppose she meant outlandish. Though urged by the little ones,
whom she suspected were laughing at her, to explain, she would not, but
went off into a discussion upon dress, and, bidding the young ladies to
look at her Mistress dressed in Christmas robes, with her hair so
beautifully plaited in a basket plait, and her curls so smooth and
bright, and her black satin gown sitting and hanging so becomingly and
well. "And then to think she could like such a 'ole of an hisland, where
no one could see how she 'ad hattired her Mistress, and to give such a
'eathen place a name too, was more than she could bear." So the girls
who loved to tease her, declared her Mistress did not look one bit
better than the rest of the party, and that Madame's neat plain white
cap was the prettiest thing at the dinner table, or Jenny's smart blue
one, with bows and ends all over it. As she was too-matter-of-fact to
see any joke in this, and as her Mistress's hair was her weak point, she
waxed wrath, and began a splendid description, misplacing all the h's,
and making such a sad havoc amongst her parts of speech, that it was
difficult to make out what she wished us must to admire, whether her
Mistress, or diamonds, or black velvet, herself or hair. I had the
casting vote in giving a name to the house, but, previously, I thought
it as well that we should give a name to our island. "Certainly,
certainly," was said on all sides, and also most voices decided it
should be a Welsh name; therefore, in a glass of lime punch, after a
long discussion, we christened our island "YR YNYS UNYG," the last word,
Unyg, being pronounced as inig. This in English signified "The Lonely
Island." Much as I wished all my dear companions to feel happy, and to
be as much at home in our painful situation as circumstances would
allow, and, much also as I liked the notion of our calling everything
about us by home names, I yet shrunk from giving the name of our
beloved home to the hut in which we now seemed doomed to pass our days.
Several times I attempted to begin upon the subject, but it was too
painful and I dared not trust my voice, lest its faltering should show
my companions that this Christmas-day was not one of unmixed pleasure,
and I was the more anxious to restrain my feelings as I could easily
perceive that a little was only wanting to turn our day of feasting into
one of mourning. It was not, therefore, until repeated entreaties had
been urged, that, at last, I said somewhat shortly, and with an effort
of hilarity, "I think we will call our house 'Cartref Pellenig,' or 'The
Distant Home,' because--because--"

_Schillie._--"Well, why, because."

"Oh hush, hush, cousin Schillie," said Lilly, who was always impetuous,
and, throwing her arms round me, she continued, "Don't, dear Mama, my
own Mother, don't cry, I cannot bear it. We shall see home again, we
shall not always live here, we will be so good, we will do everything to
please you. Oh Mother, my own darling Mother, don't cry so."

And so all my efforts were in vain, we were all upset, and the little
house, so late the scene of merriment, now was filled with the voices of
lamentation and woe. Each in their different way mourned and wept, but,
as I said before, it was not so much for ourselves as for others.

We had been so busy, and had so much on our minds that we had thought
of little else than mending our own condition, and doing all we could to
make ourselves comfortable. To the olden heads it had been a time of
great anxiety and trouble, while the younger ones had been forced out of
their proper sphere of dependance, into that of companions, helpers, and
advisers. We had, therefore, but little time to think of those who, it
now struck us, on this Christmas-day, for the first time, would be
suffering under fear and anxiety for our fate.

The same feelings that were so forcibly striking us of the relations,
friends, and neighbours with whom we had always exchanged the happy
Christmas greetings, would, we now began to feel, also strike them. In
our family what gaps would be seen in the heretofore merry Christmas
party. I looked round, Schillie was separated from her children, Gatty,
Zoë, Winifred, Madame, even the poor servants, how many mourning
households would there be? Not because we were missing from the
Christmas party, as that was expected, but because they must be aware
that something had occurred. They must now be suffering under that worst
of all fears, doubt and apprehension. Eight months had passed since we
had seen them, and six must have gone by since they had heard from us.
There could be no doubt that, painful as our feelings were, they were
now most to be pitied. Oh how we longed for the wings of a bird to fly
over, and set them at rest. How the more we wept and talked about them,
the more unbearable and painful grew this feeling. All that we had
undergone; all that we seemed likely to undergo, appeared but as a drop
on the ocean compared to the mourning and sorrow which we knew were
filling the hearts of so many households, weeping, as they would be at
the mysterious and unknown fate of those they loved so much. We were
safe, we were well, we were comparatively happy, yet we could not tell
this, and, perhaps at the time, the very time, we were celebrating our
housewarming and Christmas dinner, they were lamenting us as dead.

Will it be wondered at that our Christmas-day ended in sorrow, and that
we wept for those weeping for us. We talked over all they might be
thinking and doing. Every speech, every sentence ending, "Oh if we could
only tell them, if they could only peep into the rude hut, and see the
healthy blooming faces contained therein, albeit each face was bedewed
with tears, each voice was choking with sorrow." This picture would they
see. The rustic rough house, with its wide open entrance, showing the
table strewn with the wrecks of our feast, but brilliant with flowers
and fruit. Lying on a rude grass cushion was the Mother, her hair all
dishevelled with sorrow, her face lengthened with woe; close by her,
with her face hidden from sight, was the little Mother; Madame leaning
far back in her chair, with a handkerchief over her face, was weeping
bitterly behind it; the six girls, in various groups, about the two
Mothers, were each, though deeply sorrowful, trying in their own sweet
ways, to speak of hope and comfort; the two boys, at a little distance,
were sitting on the ground, Oscar grave and sorrowful, Felix weeping and
crying while he fed his monkey to keep it quiet; the servants had
retired. Beyond, through the door, was seen the deep blue quiet sea,
over which we were so anxious to fly, while the rich dark foliage of the
trees appeared cool and refreshing against the glowing sky. But this
sadness could not last long in a party animated by christian hopes,
sustained by christian faith; ere the hour for evening service arrived
our sorrow grew lighter, each seemed to feel in the stored words an
individual comfort, and we retired to rest committing the consolation of
all near and dear to us to Him who had preserved _us_ through so many
and great dangers, for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ. Thus we sat for
hours on this Christmas-day, but what was going on at home?



CHAPTER XXIII.


In a distant county, in the North of England, there was situated in a
quiet country parish a rural rectory, surrounded by a garden, and
adorned with the only good trees in the neighbourhood; it stood
sheltered at the foot of a hill, the only rising ground to be seen
amidst a flat and smoke-dried country. Within that rectory lived a
venerable and venerated father, with a loving and adored mother, who had
hitherto been surrounded at Christmas by the happy faces and smiling
countenances of thirteen children, with their numerous offsprings.

A bright blazing fire is sending a gloomy tint all over the pretty
drawing room, hung with green, and adorned with bright flowers, worked
by skilful fingers. Various beautiful and rare specimens of Foreign
workmanship ornament every part of the room, chairs and sofas of ease
and luxury pervade the apartment, nothing seems wanting to render this
room the beau ideal of an English home at Christmas time, for the bright
green holly with its scarlet berries is hung in every direction. It is
well inhabited too. In the high-backed old-fashioned chair sits a sweet
and dignified lady, but her face had a painful expression, her eyes were
fixed on nothing, her delicate white fingers were half clasped together,
her thoughts seemed far away. On the opposite side of the fire sat a
girl writing, whose pretty figure bent over the paper until the long
chestnut curls lay resting on the table, but they quite concealed the
face. A tall slim figure was busily winding silk, with her back to the
fire, her dark hair, beautifully plaited in a thick Grecian plait,
shewing her small head to great advantage. In full front of the fire sat
another girl, whose pretty sweet face was bedewed with tears, which
every now and then she wiped away. A step was heard on the stairs, the
sweet Mother's eyes recovered their animation, the winder stopped from
her occupation, the writer raised a pale and care-worn face, each
advanced to the door as it opened to admit the grey-headed Father. He
bore a packet of letters, but his face was mournful as he said, "No,
none from them." "Alas, alas," said the sorrowful Mother, sinking back
into her chair, "what are we to think? I see, I see, all this heap of
letters, and not one contains the news we pine for. They are only
repetitions of what we have already had; anxious enquiries from still
more anxious parents, painful to read, still more painful to answer. I
cannot read them, I cannot bear them in my sight." As they tried to
comfort her, rapid wheels and fast-trotting horses' feet were heard, and
the next minute a carriage with four breathless and smoking horses
turned into the drive, and stood at the front door. Before they had
stopped, a gentleman sprung from the carriage and bounded up stairs in a
minute, his figure being concealed in a travelling cloak. As he raised
his hat, he shewed the fine bald head and handsome countenance of Sir
Walter Mayton. The aged father raised one hand, the sorrowful mother
clasped the other, as they exclaimed, "What news, what news. Have you
heard of our lost ones?" He could not bring himself to speak the
negative that his sorrowful shake of the hand indicated, but another
person was behind him, having come in the same carriage. Who could
mistake that kind and loving face, the noble features so handsome in
their regularity, so beneficent, so benign, the snow-white hair, the
merry kind blue eye, the upright figure. The weeping Mother threw
herself into his arms. "Don't cry, don't cry, my dear Emily," said he,
the tears rolling down his rich ruddy cheek, "we shall find them again.
We will go in search of them. Remember, I too am a sufferer. Have I not
lost my right hand, the sunbeam of my house, my sweet, little,
mischievous, pretty, fidgety Gatty," and he raised his eyes reverently
to heaven, as if to invoke a blessing on his lost child; and this was
Gatty's Father, who had left his court, and had come down purposely with
Sir Walter Mayton to consult on the best mode of discovering the lost
party, and taking the advice of all those nearly and dearly interested
in them.

"Now," said Sir Walter Mayton, seeing that the painfulness of the
meeting was nearly over, "now let us proceed to business. First of all,
will you allow me to ring the bell for some dinner, as I can tell my
story while it is getting ready, and we must leave immediately after."
That matter being arranged, he proceeded, "You are aware that I,
according to directions that I received from our lost party, dated
Madeira, followed them to Rio Janeiro by the next packet. I had a
capital voyage, and was so speedy in my movements that I was not
surprised at finding La Luna not in port when I arrived. I waited
patiently for a week during which time I hired a house and made
preparations for their seeing all that was worth seeing in the country.
At the end of that time your son's ship came into port, and she had not
reported herself five minutes ere I was on board. He, with me, expressed
great disappointment at the non-arrival of our party, and, from being
rather fidgety before, I became doubly so at seeing his anxiety.
Accordingly, we left orders and persons ready to receive them should
they arrive by any means unknown to us; and I, at his request,
accompanied him on his cruise up and down the coast, thinking, in my
impatience, that I should hear of them sooner; and at all events, it was
some employment, for, I frankly own, I could not have waited another
week doing nothing, and suffering such anxiety.

"We were out a fortnight, and all we heard was that there had been a
tremendous gale, for those vessels that were only in the tail of it
suffered considerably. But, your son had no fear of La Luna riding it
out, knowing what a good sea-boat she was; except, indeed, she had by
some misfortune got into the circle of the storm, by which she would not
only have the worst of it, but be violently exposed for many more days
than otherwise. Our anxiety grew with the weeks, so at the end of the
fortnight we put into Rio again, and consulted the best authorities. We
all agreed on one subject, namely, that having good sea-room, which we
calculated she must have had when the storm overtook her, she could not
have foundered or been lost. We had then to think what else could have
occurred, and in making up our minds to wait patiently another
fortnight, we calculated that ladies do sometimes change their minds,
and that they might have been seduced into landing on some of the
numerous and lonely islands with which the Atlantic abounds.

"But, it was sorry work this waiting, I determined to make them pay
dearly for breaking their promise, should it be the case, and for
putting me into such a painful state."

"I can well believe it, Sir, I can well believe it," said the
grey-headed Father. "Thank you, thank you for all your kind interest."

"Nay, Sir, thank me not. I own I have neither chick nor child, and so
may not be expected to feel as much as a parent would do on such an
occasion; but, Sir, I feel for my wards as tenderly as any Father can, I
would rather a thousand ills occurred to me than that a hair of their
heads should be injured." His strong voice faltered, "But, enough, I
came here to tell my tale, and not to indulge in unavailing sorrow. Let
it suffice to tell you I left not a port unexplored on the coast of
America; I left not a stone unturned to learn their fate; I rested not
day or night; your son had permission from the admiral to devote as much
time to the same search, as his duties would permit. I mentally resolved
I would not leave the spot until I heard something of them."

"How kind, how good you are," said the listeners.

"And I should have kept my promise, had it not been for a letter from
Mr. M., who you know is co-trustee and joint guardian with me of your
grandchildren. Of course the loss of such a party soon became known, in
fact our anxiety, and all we did, and the sympathy we met with, and the
help we obtained, would detain you much too long were I to tell you. But
you will not be surprised to hear that the next heir to my wards'
estates has intimated his knowledge that some dire misfortune has
occurred to the three children on whom the property is entailed, your
grandchildren. I, therefore, came home at once. I have consulted Mr. M.,
I have taken the ablest advice, and where could I have better than from
him who is so interested in the matter, and so high in his profession?"
Bowing to Gatty's Father. "Also I have seen the once-hasty heir, and
settled his business, I have put everything into the hands of Mr. M.
regarding the property, and in such training that nothing can be done
for a year or two by the next heir, and now I am come down to see you,
and take your orders and wishes, and to-morrow I sail for America to
prosecute my search, and not leave it until I find them dead or alive."

"You are too kind, too good, one might expect such devotion in one of
their relations, but not in one barely connected with them. We know not
how to thank you."

With such speeches the whole party were proceeding, but Sir Walter
interrupted them, saying, "Nay, nay, say no more, I am not acting so
disinterestedly as you think, my conscience would not suffer me to rest
easy did I not do my duty to the children of one of my oldest and
dearest friends. At his dying request I undertook the charge, and only
with life do I mean to relinquish my care over them. Besides, look round
amongst all who are now mourning the loss of those I am about to seek;
have they not ties of home, children, professions? I have none. I had
but to guard the property of my wards, superintend their education, and
prevent their mother spoiling them, and, by this sad event that business
is over. It is my duty to seek for them; as a military man and
acquainted with the world, I am fitted for adventure and all its
consequences. I go with a cheerful heart and hopeful expectations. I
have but one sorrow, and that is the mad permission I gave them to go
without me." Thus saying, he arose and paced the room rapidly. Gatty's
Father rose also, and, taking his hand, solemnly thanked him for what he
was about to do as regarded the welfare of his lost child, continuing
in this strain, "Your language and energy, Sir Walter, make me wish I
could accompany you, but that you know is impossible, serving her
Majesty in the capacity I do. But my heart and prayers go with you, and
remember that as I cannot indulge my wish to join you in your search,
you must command my purse. Ah my Gatty, my pretty darling, did your
Father reckon your value by his purse, what worlds could contain the
treasure I would give for thee? The merciful God preserve my dear child,
and restore her to my arms." All were too much affected to speak for
some little time, but the meal being announced as ready, they entered
once more into conversation as they ate it.

Emily, the active winder, asked if they had escaped the tempest, what
probable fate could have detained them so long? Sir Walter looked up,
quickly laid down his knife and fork, and was about to say something,
when he corrected himself, and said instead, "You shall know all I can
learn when I get to America."

"But," said Charlotte, looking up from between her long curls, with
great anxiety, "you do know more only you are afraid to tell us. Pray be
kind to us, and tell us all you know." "Why should I tell you what would
add to your sorrow, when there may be nothing but conjecture in the
idea?" "Oh," said the eager Mother, "tell us all, we are so bewildered
and lost in conjectures, that nothing you can tell us could add to the
anxiety we are in. Moreover, I think I know what you mean. I have
already hinted such a thing to my husband. Are you not afraid they have
been captured by the pirates, whose depredations my son has been ordered
to subdue?" "Just so, my dear Madam, it was the common opinion of every
one, when I left Rio, that they had fallen into the hands of the gang of
pirates now infesting those seas. This knowledge has added an additional
spur to your son's exertions, though he did not want it, for the Admiral
had been laughing at him, and calling his ship a 'Will o' the Wisp,' she
seemed to be in every port every day. I can assure you, Sir," turning to
the Father, "you may, amidst all your sorrow, congratulate yourself on
having for a son one of the most promising officers in Her Majesty's
service, and it is well known too." The dear beloved parents needed such
a balm to their harassed minds. "But, can you," said Gatty's Father,
"form any conjecture as to what would be their fate, say they were in
the hands of the pirates?" "I took good care, Sir, before I left Rio, to
offer very tempting ransoms, and to publish them in all quarters, and it
is well known they are a very needy set, and that so much money will be
too difficult for them to refuse. So I have every hope, and now I must
be off."

Amidst the prayers, tears, blessings, and good wishes of the whole party
he departed, leaving the loving Mother comfortable, the christian Father
resigned, the sweet anxious sisters hopeful. But the weary months flew
by; the distant parents came to talk over the fate of the lost ones; the
letters from America grew brief and desponding; hope died totally away
in the breasts of some; Sir Walter again visited England, and again
returned to pursue his search; H.M.S. C---- was on the eve of being
ordered home; some went into deep mourning, as if their nearest and
dearest were but just dead; the over-hasty heir was beginning to
threaten; the letters home ceased, as if it were better not to write at
all than to write disappointment.

Had years gone by since that pretty drawing room had disclosed the
affectionate family mourning their lost ones on Christmas-day? Had not
Christmas come and gone, and yet they were still mourning? Time will
show. It takes the sick couch, the dying words, the quivering breath,
the last sigh, the solemn funeral pomp, to make death seem reality, to
be assured we have lost "the light of our eyes," to be certain that one
from amongst us has gone, and that we shall see his face no more.

Without all this, was it possible to feel that so large a gap was made
in the family circle, such a rent was torn from the flourishing tree,
and yet no sign was given to show how it was done?

Weep on, beloved mourners, weep on, but not for ever. Have we not a
home, where no such ties can be severed, no such grief felt? This is but
a passage to a better world; why should we grieve at what occurs to us
herein, when we have the home of the blessed before us, the rest of the
faithful awaiting us. In such words spake the pious, humble, consistent
Father to his family, and they were comforted; and as months flew by,
they whispered and talked of their lost ones, as if they were already
denizens of the bright world beyond the tomb, and peace was restored to
the family.



CHAPTER XXIV.


It fortunately happened that we had so much to do we could not weep all
day; moreover, Jenny, who was very methodical, thought if we went on
crying all the evening, how was she to get the tea ready. Accordingly,
with some hesitation, having shewn her face several times before, she
ventured to enquire if she might take away the remains of our feast. On
this we all roused up, and bestirred ourselves; the girls helped to wash
up; the little ones ran out to amuse themselves; I swept the floor,
while Schillie put the room tidy; Madame having gone to lay down to cure
her sad headache. We then all went down to the sea to bathe and enjoy
the cool breeze, and at night we went to bed sorrowful but thankful for
the many mercies above, around, about us.

On the morrow, lessons were to begin seriously, and some seemed to think
it almost a hanging matter, so doleful did they look. They were to have
that part of the room nearest the door, as being lighter and more airy.
The maids had the rest of the room for laying the meals, while Schillie
and I had to dispose of ourselves any way we could, so it was out of the
way.

We had a long conversation on this particular morning, which I began by
saying, "We must now begin to think of making discoveries, and storing
food against the rainy weather."

_Schillie._--"Good woman, how fidgety you are. I do think you might
allow me a little rest after building that horrid house and labouring so
hard."

_Mother._--"But we shall look so silly if we have nothing to eat, and it
is impossible to get out during the wet weather."

_Schillie._--"That's granted, I cannot abide wet weather."

_Mother._--"Then making discoveries is your principal delight; and you
may combine amusement and use together."

_Schillie._--"A thing I abominate. I hate joining two things, and I
cannot be amused when all the time I am thinking I am so useful."

_Mother._--"Then sit down here, while I go and perpetrate this horrid
crime!"

_Schillie._--"Now, June, you are going too far, as if I would suffer you
to stir a yard without me; you will be tumbling over some precipice, get
eaten up by a huge turtle, or light on another great snake. Now, come
along, what's the first discovery we are to make?"

_Mother._--"That's more than I can settle, because I am quite in the
dark at present about what we require. But, if you must have a decided
answer, pray discover some shoes and boots."

_Schillie._--"Now you must talk common sense if you mean me to help you.
I heard that little demure Jenny, who thinks of nothing but the
children, coming to you this morning with a complaint about the number
of holes in her darling's only pair of shoes."

_Mother._--"Oh but she brought in her apron the whole establishment of
young boots and shoes, that I might see the dilapidated condition in
which they were."

_Schillie._--"And what did you say to that?"

_Mother._--"I looked at her gravely and said, 'Then Jenny, order the
carriage, and tell Goode I shall go to H---- this evening to buy boots
and shoes for the young ones.' I was sorry after I had indulged in this
joke, for first of all she looked perplexed, then she looked sorrowful,
and finally she bundled up her miserable cargo, and fled in a burst of
tears."

_Schillie._--"Then she is a greater goose than I imagined. She would
have been more sensible had she devised some means of repairing them,
without bothering you."

_Mother._--"But they are past repair."

_Schillie._--"Then she might have tried to concoct new ones."

_Mother._--"Perhaps she does not like combining amusement and business
together."

_Schillie._--"Now, June, you are too bad, and to punish you I'll not
help you a bit with your boots and shoes."

_Mother._--"Suppose we take to going without any."

_Schillie._--"Yes, and get bitten to death with these horrid scorpions,
or, look here, see how pleasant to put one's naked foot on these black
ants."

_Mother._--"Then it seems clear we must have boots and shoes."

_Schillie._--"Of course, who doubted it?"

_Mother._--"Then let us go and discover something that will somehow do
for them."

_Schillie._--"You always come round me in such a manner, that I begin to
think if you told me to do so I should be creeping out of my skin some
day."

_Mother._--"Pray don't disturb yourself with that idea, as I rather want
to clothe you than disrobe you. For our next discovery must be something
of which to make dresses."

_Schillie._--"Are you gone mad; who wants dresses, have we not enough to
last us for a year at least?"

_Mother._--"Yes, that I know, but I want to make the discovery, and get
expert in the business before our own clothes are quite gone. It will be
so awkward to have no clothes at all."

_Schillie._--"Very much so."

_Mother._--"Now do you know I have already had a great idea that this is
the palm tree, out of which they make sago. Here you see are the young
ones, small prickly shrubs, and here they are growing up into trees, and
this one that I first pointed out is covered with a whitish dust, which
I have read is an indication that the sago is ready to be taken."

_Schillie._--"You seem very learned on the subject, but are you going to
make boots and shoes out of sago?"

_Mother_ (laughing).--"No, no, I don't want to confine my discoveries
only to boots and shoes, I am for discovering everything, and I meant to
have told you of this discovery before, for I conjectured it when you
used to make me lie down to rest in this spot while you did my work."

_Schillie._--"And very lucky it is that you have some one with an ounce
of sense near you to make you rest. You don't work race horses like
carters, but a Suffolk Punch is made for use, and all the better for
it."

_Mother._--"You don't compliment yourself, Mrs. Suffolk Punch, though I
agree you do the work of the animal you liken yourself to. But I beg you
won't compare me to anything so useless as a racer, who is only required
for a few days hard labour, and then may die, having fulfilled the
purpose of filling the owner's pockets."

_Schillie._--"You know nothing about the matter. You don't suppose that
horses are bred so highly merely for running races. It is to improve the
breed of horses, and you may go to the moon and never----"

_Mother._--"Look, look, what a lovely tree!"

_Schillie._--"So it is. Let us sit down, while I fish out my book, and
discover what it is. Now then for characteristics. Why here is a picture
of it. What a nice book this is. It's a nutmeg tree. Then it may go to
the dogs, for I hate nutmegs."

_Mother._--"I don't like them either, but I have heard they are very
good preserved, and, besides, some of the others may like them, so let
us see if any are ripe. No! none at all, so it's lucky we are
indifferent about nutmegs at present."

_Schillie._--"All this shrubby stuff about here, looking something like
Jerusalem artichoke, is ginger I think."

_Mother._--"Yes, it is, so we will take some home, as it is very good
for Madame. What nice large roots it has, but I don't call it a shrub.
Shrubs are bushy things."

_Schillie._--"Call it what you like, so we may have some preserved. I
could eat it for breakfast, dinner, and tea. Now, here are your boots
and shoes growing on this Ita palm. Look, my knowing little book says
the leaves are enclosed in cases, which serve for shoes, and this is the
exact description of these tall fellows. Now, June, if we can only take
some home to Jenny she will be as pleased as Punch, and so shall I, for
I did not think your fidgetiness would end in such a fine encouraging
manner."

_Mother._--"But, good lack, as you say, how are we ever to get at them;
this tree must be at least a hundred feet high, and all the others seem
bigger, and all the leaves are at the top; almost sky-high they look."

_Schillie._--"We must cut one down, there is no help for it. I will run
home for a couple of hatchets, and mind you don't stir from hence until
I return, and don't get eaten up, for your life, by anything."

_Mother._--"Suppose you bring the girls with you; we shall never cut it
down ourselves without aching all over, and they will be so glad to get
out of school."

_Schillie._--"I'll be bound they will. But first I shall say only those
are to come out who have been good, for the pleasure of seeing Miss
Gatty screw up her countenance into ineffable disgust, for I know she
will have been naughty."

_Mother._--"You know you will do nothing of the sort, but, on the
contrary, say that Gatty is more wanted than the others."

_Schillie._--"I confess I have a weakness for that child, she is so
preposterously mischievous."

_Mother._--"Now I have a weakness for her, because she is like the
knights of old, 'the soul of honour.' Now she fires up, and now she
ruins her pocket handkerchiefs if anything is said derogatory to her own
country or to her Queen. Did you hear or rather see her this morning
while they were reading their history, when Madame praised Napoleon
Buonaparte at the expense of the Duke of Wellington?"

_Schillie._--"Yes. I misdoubt me that I shall find her in sad disgrace.
She will have endeavoured to soothe her wounded feelings by putting
spiders on Sybil, changing Serena's book, mislaying Madame's alderman,
which is neither more nor less than the name Gatty has given that great
fat pencil with which Madame marks their books, and rat-ta-ta-tals them
up when they are looking dull and stupid."

_Mother._--"Don't come without her, however, for she is the strongest.
It's a pity Sybil is so good as never to be in disgrace, for her little
delicate fingers are of no use in such a case."

_Schillie._--"Indeed Sybil and Serena are too stupid for anything. They
learn all their books, they like all their lessons, they agree to all
Madame's crinkums crankums, and they are so horridly good, it quite puts
me out."

_Mother._--"Pooh, nonsense. If we had three Gattys here we should find
the island too hot to hold us. Be content at having two of the best
girls in the world to deal with."

_Schillie._--"I must say Serena is a tip-top girl, she makes Miss Gatty
look about her; but I must be off."

During her absence, I sat down upon an old stump of a tree, and by and
by I heard a little rustling in the bushes, out of which came a sort of
animal like a large rat, but it had a flat tail, and each side of this
tail was adorned with hair like fringe. It looked at me steadily, and,
except its tail, was not an ugly creature. I did not choose to be
frightened; but still as another and another came, and all stood
steadily gazing at me, I had a sort of qualm that some rats fly at one's
throat, and, though not really injured, I might perhaps get severely
bitten if they attacked me. I was therefore glad to hear the merry
voices in the distance coming nearer and nearer; and, as the rats heard
the unusual sounds, they slunk away as if by magic, for I could hardly
perceive the movement by which they disappeared.

_Schillie_ (quite breathless).--"Well, here you are quite safe. I am
always so afraid when I leave you that you get into some mischief. But
you have seen something, I know by your face."

_Mother._--"Then don't look as if I was injured. I have only seen some
odd-looking sorts of rats with flat tails."

_Schillie._--"Then Otty must come with his gun and shoot them, for I
dare say now that snake is dead the animals of all kinds will increase
very much. I only wish there was a snake among the gnat tribe. Anything
like the way in which I am teased by things biting me is not to be
described."

The girls were delighted with the business set before them, and even
Madame appeared with a hatchet in her delicate fingers, but without
being able to make even an apology of a stroke.

When the tree was down, we proceeded to shoe ourselves, intent upon
delighting and surprising Jenny. But we never regarded a gummy substance
exuding from all parts of the tree, which plagued us for some time
afterwards, destroying the stockings, and very, very difficult to get
off, also blistering the skin a little, but these sheathes for the
leaves of the Ita palm really made capital shoes. We had only to dry
them a little in the sun. They did not however last very long, and it
was no uncommon thing for the boys to want a new pair every day.
Notwithstanding there being such an abundance of these naturally-growing
ready-made shoes, we were not sorry at the ingenious invention of Sybil
and Serena, who, after repeated efforts, contrived to plait most
excellent shoes out of grass.

One day, penetrating a little farther than usual, we came to a rich
little glen, running down to the sea. Here, digging up some plants, as
was our usual custom, to make fresh discoveries, we found the mould of a
beautiful bright red colour; this shaded off into deep chocolate or
bright yellow. We could not discover any metallic substance in it, or
that it tasted of anything, but it painted our fingers whenever we
touched it, and when first turned up was glossy and shining. Near this
place grew some sugar canes, curiously striped, and a tree or shrub,
seven or eight feet high, with an oblong hairy pod; something like a
chestnut, hanging to it; inside were about thirty or forty seeds, buried
in a pulp of bright red colour, smelling rather fragrant. We found out
afterwards that these seeds were good for fevers, and the pulp made very
good red paint.

The tobacco plant we all knew very well. It grew in the most rank manner
here. But one of the most lovely trees we had yet discovered was one
twenty feet high, with a grey, smooth, shining trunk, apparently
destitute of bark. It had beautiful dark green leaves, with an
astonishing profusion of white flowers, so deliciously fragrant, that we
sat to the wind side of it with the greatest delight. It had berries on
it, out of which squeezed a sweet oil smelling of cloves.

We did not like the situation of our house nearly so much as on the
cliffs; we had so little air, and were so much tormented by insects of
all kinds. Some of the ant hills were at least three feet high; and upon
merely walking near them, the angry little inhabitants came swarming out
in multitudes to resent the supposed injury.

On the cactuses, which grew very large, and in a most luxuriant manner,
we discovered what we supposed were the insects for making cochineal,
but we did not think that a grand discovery, but, on the contrary,
thought the cotton plant a much greater gift.

I had been used to spin when in Scotland, having taken a fancy to the
thing. But, not all the wishes in the world could produce a spinning
wheel, so I kept my desires secret until I saw some hope of
accomplishment. Every day each person had to bring in their quota of
discoveries and additions to our larder and stores, for, though we knew
nothing about the climate we imagined ourselves looking remarkably
silly, should bad weather come on, and find us unprovided.

Taking one day as a specimen for all the rest, after three hours
exploring, in different parties, we produced our treasures, as
follows:--Madame had gathered a number of small reeds or rushes, out of
which she had concocted two very pretty and useful baskets, one of which
had been immediately appropriated by a hen. For, while she was busy
with the other, this hen thought she had never beheld so cosy a nest,
and, therefore, laid an egg in it. This was of course given to Madame,
for her supper, as a reward for her ingenuity. Schillie came dragging
with her, besides innumerable other plants and curiosities, an enormous
root, as thick as her waist.

_Schillie._--"Now then, young ones, come round and see what this is. You
see when I cut it what milky stuff flows from it."

"Yes," said they, "we see; may we not have some to put into our own tea?
It is so nasty without milk."

_Schillie._--"For goodness sake, brats, don't be so rash, it's rank
poison."

_Mother, Madame, and a whole Chorus._--"Then, what good is it to us?"

_Schillie._--"Well! don't make such a row, and you shall see. Here,
Jenny, you and some of the young ladies help me to rasp or scrape it up,
but, for your life don't let it touch the skin, or you may die, but, at
all events, you may get blisters on your hands."

_Mother_ (very cross).--"How can you be so absurd, Schillie, as to bring
such a dangerous thing amongst the children?"

_Schillie._--"Now, pray, keep yourself quiet until I have hurt one of
them. You told me to make discoveries, and this is a superb one. Now, we
have got a good heap. Fetch a cloth, Jenny, pop it in; now hold one
while I hold the other, and twist and squeeze as if Master Felix's life
depended thereon. And now behold."

So opening the cloth we discovered some nice white flowery-looking
stuff, which she declared was tapioca, and which we discovered made most
excellent bread. We really voted this discovery of the cassada root
quite a grand discovery, though I was always very fidgety about the
poisonous milk in it. But the loaves made from the flower were
delicious. She, of course, had many more things to show us, but I will
only take one from each of us. Sybil had been indefatigable in her
search for hemp, and had found a species of grass, which she had beaten
between two stones in the water, and it had spread into innumerable fine
threads, so that hers was a most valuable discovery. Serena had found a
perfect horde of turtle's eggs, besides eggs innumerable of all kinds of
birds. Gatty, we all knew, could not have discovered much, for she had
been running from one Mother to another, flying off again to the girls,
helping the little ones in innumerable difficulties, and doing anything
but minding her own duties. However, nothing undaunted, she opened an
apology for a handkerchief, and out waddled a large odd crab, for which
Schillie greatly applauded her, and said she would have him boiled for
supper. "But I have discovered something else," said Gatty, with a
mischievous twinkling of her eyes, and opening a paper box, out sprang a
horrible spider, three inches round I am sure, black and hairy, faintly
spotted. Madame and Sybil fled, the little ones shrieked, Schillie
scolded, and in the midst of the uproar the spider bolted, and peace was
restored. Zoë had discovered a beautiful species of jessamine tree, most
fragrant in smell, and on which, for a wonder, there were no insects
whatever, and she therefore supposed it must be something good.

We found out that no ants would touch the wood, so it proved very useful
to us. Winny bent and quivered under the weight of an enormous
curiously-shaped gourd, and triumphantly declared her discovery was
nearly as big as the little Mother's. "But it is no discovery, little
one," said Serena, "for we have had gourds before." "But it is a
discovery," persisted the little one, "for it is such a big fellow, and
it has a growing in and a growing out, quite unlike the others." So we
thanked her warmly, and Jenny said she was and had been undone to
possess a gourd of that very particular shape. Lilly had discovered so
many wonderful things (upon supposition) that we contented ourselves
with thanking her for some large and useful shells which would serve for
many purposes. The boys had been so intent on manufacturing fishing
lines that they had spent their time wandering vaguely about, hoping
fishing lines would fall from the skies for them, but as no such thing
happened, they had pulled long hairy lines from the cactuses, and they
had also brought in their pockets a fruit like an apple outside, but it
was full of an insipid kind of custard. Jenny had got some sand for
scouring her floors and kettles, also she said she had got a plant that
looked like one in an old book she had, from which they made soap. This
we found correct, and it proved a most valuable discovery; it was called
the soap-wort. Hargrave had contented herself with gathering the most
beautiful flowers she could see, at the same time bewailing over their
rapid destruction, only wishing that they were artificial ones that she
might ornament the young ladies' dresses. It was on this day that my
discovery consisted of the cinnamon tree. But all this will appear
tedious, so I will go on to the time when we were roused from our
discoveries, pretty walks, out-door amusements, and healthy exercise, by
a terrific thunder storm.



CHAPTER XXV.


We had become somewhat accustomed to the storms, and, though this one
was terrific, and also followed by no interval of sunshine to break us
in for the wet weather, yet our condition was so greatly ameliorated, we
thought but little of it. Our house was waterproof even when the rain
came down like the sea itself pouring over us. The wind was furious, but
the nook we had selected was most sheltered, and, but for the uproar it
made among the trees, we should have hardly known the real extent of the
hurricane. Sometimes the thunder cracking over our heads awoke us in the
night, and we congregated together for companionship and comfort. In the
day-time we were very busy; I was inventing a spinning wheel; Schillie
and the girls concocting chessmen; the boys knocking up shelves, seats,
and boxes; the maids labouring through a perfect haycock of rent
clothes and damaged stockings; somebody always singing, and sometimes
that somebody was everybody. In the evening, Madame played, and
everybody danced for an hour by the light of one candle; when breathless
and tired, stories were told, each taking it in turn. A quick and
pleasant three weeks passed, for which we daily thanked the Giver of all
good.

When the sun shone once more our occupations were innumerable, leaving
us no leisure from early morn, until the darkness came. What with
gardening, lessons, manufacturing food and clothes, we had our hands
full. It was astonishing to see how active the young ones were in
turning everything to use; how quick and clever they became in all sorts
of ways that belonged more to older heads. It is true there were some
symptoms of fine ladyism that grumbled at washing clothes, grinding
sand, and cleaning up dirty dishes; the latter was carried to so great a
height that Zoë and Lilly came to me with a flat refusal to wash the
breakfast plates. "Why?" said I. "Because they are so dirty," said they.
"Very well," said I, "you need not do it." But they never objected again
to any work, for their dirty plates were put before them, without any
remark, each day, until they washed them of their own accord; and the
elder girls let slip no opportunity of commenting upon fine ladies, who
expressed great anxiety to help others, but must have the plates cleaned
before they could wash or wipe them, and supposed they must have people
to sweep the way before them, others to hand their food to their mouths.
In fact, the irony ran so high, and was felt so sorely, that a private
petition was sent in to have it stopped. This I was most glad to do, for
our meals had been rendered a little unpleasant by mortified tears
bedewing the face of the gentle Zoë, while indignant sobs and haughty
looks betokened the harassed feelings of the high-spirited Lilly.

As may be supposed, we had many conversations regarding our future fate,
and the probability of passing our days in this island.

_Mother._--"It is the idea which always makes me so anxious, Schillie,
to retain every possible memorial of our civilized life. Should our
children and their descendants remain on this island, they will live to
thank the Mother who worries you so with all the spinning, weaving, and
other inventions that tease you."

_Schillie._--"So you expect the children to marry, do you? Well, there
will be plenty of old maids left to keep up the civilized art of
scandal, seeing there are but two husbands for these six girls."

_Felix._--"Don't call me a husband, cousin Schillie, for I don't intend
to marry."

_Oscar._--"I don't mind marrying Gatty, because she will go out shooting
with me."

_Schillie._--"And what has set you against matrimony, you imp of
mischief?"

_Felix._--"Why I don't like being called grandfather, and so I won't
marry and have grandchildren."

This unfortunate announcement drew upon him the fate he wished to avoid,
and, spite of his indignation, and tears, "grandfather" became his
_sobriquet_ until they were tired of the joke.

But we renewed our conversation, and, though I used my best arguments,
and had Madame on my side, and though the battle waxed hot and loud, and
was oft renewed between us, I never could get Schillie to allow that it
was of the slightest use our thus exerting ourselves. This surprised me
a good deal, for she had so much plain good sense, and was so naturally
clever, and gifted with such brains for invention and concoction, that I
expected to find her the champion of my plans, instead of the damper she
proved. The hot and relaxing climate might have had some effect on her
constitution, or the good hope she always carried about with her that we
were not to remain here for ever, might make her reluctant to take
trouble for nothing.

But it proved always in the end, the more busy and interested we were in
our occupations the quicker time went, and less of it was spent in those
vain regrets and idle wishes that left wounds on the heart which nothing
could heal.

In justice, I must say, when fairly roused, none worked so hard or so
well and the little workpeople had to look sharply about them when she
was in superintendence.

She was in a cross mood one day, when she discovered me writing.

_Schillie._--"What can you be doing, June?"

_Mother_ (hesitating a little).--"I am writing a journal."

_Schillie._--"Now, pray, tell me for what purpose."

_Mother._--"It will be interesting to us to recur to some day; or it
will serve to enlighten our own descendants, should we never leave this
place."

_Schillie._--"Well, I could not think you would be so absurd. Who wants
to recall this horrible time; or what possible interest can you put into
the details of such a life as ours."

_Mother._--"I grant it's very difficult, but you are at liberty to look
at it."

_Schillie_ (reading).--"Ha! a thunderstorm (very interesting). Another
(truly pathetic). Felix ill (the dear pet, how sorry his grandchildren
will be to hear it). Gatty in mischief (when is she ever out of it?)
Schillie worked the most of all (and what has she got to do besides?)
Very merry tea (what a fib, when we have had no tea this month). Sybil
so amiable (yes, quite mawkishly so). Our dear captain (good me! what a
monody). The good Smart (perfect epitaphs over them all, pity they are
not in rhyme). Well, June, of all the nonsense I ever read your journal
seems the crown thereof."

_Mother._--"I don't pretend to write anything amusing, for how can I
with so few incidents; only I wished to keep a sort of journal."

_Schillie._--"It seems to me nothing but about the children, how they
were naughty and how they got good again. Why don't you write the
geological structure of the island, the botanical history, and a whole
account of the birds and beasts."

_Mother._--"That I leave for your abler head and pen."

_Schillie._--"Then it will never be done. I hate the place so much, I
would not record a single thing about it."

_Mother._--"If that is the case, leave my poor journal alone. I grant it
is everything you say, dull, stupid, and monotonous, nevertheless, I
have a fancy to keep it."

_Schillie._--"Then, pray, indulge your fancy, and, in addition to
keeping your journal, keep it locked up, for it is quite enough to
endure all the children's twaddle, without writing it down."

My spinning-wheel answered remarkably well; but all my spinning was of
little avail, as we had no idea of weaving. Schillie promised if she was
not bothered by having to build more houses, she would try her hand at
inventing a weaving machine the next rainy season. Luckily my yarn or
thread was as coarse as needs be, and answered very well for crocheting
and knitting. In both these arts we became wonderfully skilful; sewed
crochet boots and shoes, while others knitted petticoats and jackets, so
that we were in no particular fear that when our present clothes failed
we should become a tribe of white savages. The children grew like the
vegetation, and Gatty stalked over the ground like a young Patagonian.
We had no lack of food, though we had neither beef or mutton, but
poultry, birds, fish, eggs, and turtle, with innumerable vegetables and
fruits, were surely enough for our simple party. In the midst of our
many avocations, sighs and tears would arise for those we loved; neither
could the the affection we bore each other, and the peaceful, useful,
and happy lives we led, obliterate from our minds all we had lost. It
was no uncommon thing, especially on Sunday, for us to collect round a
favourite tree, and talk of and picture to ourselves what was passing at
each home. In remembering the simple stedfast faith of my Father, the
hopeful, sweet, loving nature of my Mother, I could not but think that
through their virtues we might hope for a restoration to home. As the
sins of the parents are visited on the children, so are their virtues
means of showering blessings to the third and fourth generation. Was it
possible that we were to be finally severed from the world for ever? all
the comforts of civilized life fresh in our minds and thoughts. And here
I sometimes paused, thinking to myself should we be restored in a few
years, in what sort of state and condition should I deliver up each of
my precious charges to their parents. I could not disguise from myself
that their present mode of life was not suited for the highly-bred and
polished youth of the nineteenth century. Madame, I must say, whatever
employment they were about, from cutting down a tree to washing and
peeling potatoes, never failed to inculcate a ladylike way of doing
either employment, and spared no pains to make them as accomplished and
graceful as our limited means afforded her.

Sybil was naturally so feminine and elegant that no rough work could
spoil her. Serena had a bounding springing freedom of action that
befitted a graceful young savage, and was too healthful and pretty to
make any act one not suiting to her; while that dear young leviathan,
Gatty, could have been graceful nowhere, though beaming with health and
strength; how she did grow, and how she found out she was stronger than
the little Mother, and how she teased her in consequence, enticing her
upon little shelves of rock, under pretence of having discovered a new
plant, and then keeping her there, though I might be calling for my lost
companion until I was hoarse. Mischievous Gatty, and yet good and loving
as she was mischievous. Serena managed her admirably, and could make her
do whatever she liked; and it was pretty to see the sylph-like girl
holding the great strong powerful Gatty in awe, lecturing her in a
gentle, grave, simple way, with a sweet low voice, that murmured like a
stream. Sybil might talk of duty, and "you ought" and "you ought not,"
until her fair face was flushed with talking, but she either found
herself showered over with insects, or laid gently on the greensward, or
swung up into a branch of a tree, from which she feared to jump down. No
mercy had Gatty upon the gentle soft Sybil. The only one among the
children who did not seem happy was Oscar. He had no boy of his own age
to associate with in boyish pastimes; he was brought prematurely
forward, from being the eldest male of our company; he had been
passionately attached to his home, and he could bear no allusion to it,
or the probability of not seeing it again, without being seriously
unhappy for the day. Fond as they were of each other, his brother was
too young to enter into the feelings that were unnaturally old, because
forced on him.

If Schillie and Gatty devoted themselves to him for a day, he seemed
more happy, but he loved to mope about by himself with his gun; and
while he grew tall and strong, his face was pale, and his brow
thoughtful beyond his years. Many were my anxious thoughts about him,
and I lamented a thousand times having suffered Smart to leave, for he
would at all events have been some sort of companion to him. Of all our
party, he certainly was the only one who invariably remained grave and
quiet, whatever might be the pleasantries in which we indulged.

Madame talked for an hour upon the dreadful fact of having no new music
for the girls, and used the same phrases and words concerning there
being no shop to buy a new cap as she did to the anxieties we had
endured and the fears that others must be enduring for us.

Her horror at having no chemist near to make up her tonic mixture
equalled the horror she felt at what had become of our companions, or
seeing the girls do anything inconsistent to her notions as befitting
young ladies caused her as dreadful a shock as the thunder. She was
afflicted with fits of dying perpetually, which we remedied the best way
we could, generally finding out that a long confidential talk about her
sorrows, making her will, and confiding her last wishes to us, restored
her as soon as any other recipe. But she was so good, and so fond of the
children, that Madame had but to speak to have us all her messengers;
even Schillie succumbed to her when the dying fit came on, matter of
fact as she was, and scolding me as she did for giving in to it. I had
exhausted all my efforts at consolation in one fit, and sent in Schillie
to take my place.

"Well, Madame," began Schillie, in a great, stout, hearty,
anti-invalidish voice, "better, of course, you are, I see."

_Madame_ (in a faint whisper).--"Ah, my dear Madam, my dear kind friend,
I may say now I am going to leave you."

_The great Voice._--"I am proud to be your friend always, Madame, but
it's all nonsense talking of leaving us. Why you look as well and
rosy----"

_Madame_ (a little hysterical).--"Fever, dear Mrs. E., all fever; my
poor frame cannot support this long."

_The Voice._--"Fever, is it? Let me count your pulse. Very good pulse,
rather weak I should say. Take a glass of port wine and you will be all
right."

_Madame._--"Dear friend, your robust frame knows not what it is to
suffer. Ah, the agonies I endure, the insupportable suffering!"

_Schillie_ (a little softer).--"Rheumatism, I dare say; I have it
sometimes in my knees, and it is very aggravating."

_Madame._--"Alas, alas, would that it were; but I must not lose my
precious moments, I must try to speak while I am able."

_Schillie._--"Don't hurry, don't hurry, dear Madame. I have nothing to
do at present, I can wait as long as you like."

_Madame._--"Dear Mrs. E., thanks, but it is I, it is my time that is so
short."

_Schillie._--"Oh, come, come, that's all nonsense. I see no symptoms of
dying about you. Indeed you look better than I have seen you for ages."

_Madame._--"It's all deception. My time has come, dear friend, and to
you I wish to confide my last wishes."

_Schillie._--"But I never can keep a secret. Don't confide anything to
me."

_Madame._--"They are not secrets. I only wish to confide my beloved
little ones to your care after I am gone."

_Schillie._--"But I hate children, Madame. June will take care of them."

_Madame._--"Ah, I know she will; but she is so fond, so tender a Mother,
she sees no faults in them. There is my darling Sybil, she is certainly,
if a human being can be, faultless."

_Schillie._--"She is a very good soul in her way, Madame, but shockingly
untidy."

_Madame._--"But her lovely smile, her sweet engaging manners. My Serena
is something like her, but, being so much with Gertrude, she is a little
less ladylike in manners than I could wish. Could you, dear Mrs. E.,
just hint to her when I am gone----"

_Schillie._--"Oh, good lack! no, Madame, I can hint nothing. I'll tell
her you thought her unladylike if you wish; but I think both she and
Gatty are first-rate Girls. They are afraid of nothing, and your
pattern, Sybil, jumps at a spider."

_Madame._--"Dear angel! I must go on. My lovely Zoë will certainly have
a poke if she is not watched."

_Schillie._--"I'll poke her up always, Madame, I promise you, for your
sake."

_Madame._--"Thank you, thank you, and my pretty Winifred. Have you not
observed how she turns in her right foot?"

_Schillie._--"No indeed, Madame, I never observed either right or left
foot, but I'll look out, if I remember, for the future."

_Madame._--"Thanks, dear friend, I think that is all about my darlings,
save Lilly's eyes."

_Schillie._--"They are very good eyes, Madame, and neither poke or turn
in, which would be a squint I suppose."

_Madame._--"They are lovely eyes, of heaven's own blue, but she ruins
them by reading no much."

_Schillie._--"Well, I'll stop her reading. Anything more Madame?"

_Madame._--"Yes, I should like to be buried under trees near our
church."

_Schillie._--"Very well, I can safely promise that, as I suppose I shall
help to dig your grave myself."

Madame then wound up in such a pathetic manner that Schillie was obliged
to have recourse to her pocket handkerchief, and came blubbering out of
the room, muttering that though she believed she was only an old humbug
she would be very sorry if the old lady really died.

She was only just recovering this fit one very sultry day when we
carried her to the edge of the cliff to catch a breath of air if she
could. It was so extremely hot we could do nothing, and therefore lay
beside her, instead of leaving a little girl in attendance as usual. We
fancied something must be about to occur, for every breath seemed as if
drawing in hot air. I, with what Schillie called my usual fidgetiness,
was imagining horror upon horrors, when, suddenly looking at the sea, we
beheld it rise and fall as if one tremendous wave passed over it. Almost
immediately the whole island seemed to tremble under our feet, a
rumbling and at the same time crashing sound quite surrounded us. "An
earthquake," cried some, while all sprang to their feet. A breathless
silence ensued, but all nature seemed as if nothing had occurred. "The
house," said Schillie. "The boys!" I exclaimed. We flew down headlong
towards the rocks from which they usually fished. Not a trace of them or
the rocks, the sea was boiling beyond what we had never seen covered
before. I sat stupidly down on the sands, as if waiting for the waves
to cast my sons up at my feet.

"They may not have been fishing," said Schillie. I did not heed her
until the sharp cry of a child in pain struck on my ear. We rushed
towards the place, and found Oscar supporting his brother, who was
screaming violently. They were alive; all other things seemed to me as
nothing. As I took him in my arms, Oscar told me that, finding the fish
would not bite, and feeling excessively tired, they had agreed to go to
a shady ledge on the rocks, and sleep for an hour. He was awakened by a
strange noise, as well as being thrown rather violently from the place
where he lay; opening his eyes, he beheld Felix some feet below him,
lying apparently dead. He ran and picked him up, and throwing some water
on his face from the brook near which they had lain down, in the course
of some minutes he opened his eyes and knew his brother, but on moving
he shrieked with pain. Oscar wrung his hands, and cried as he said, "Oh,
Mother, Mother, what is the matter, will he die? Who has hurt him? What
has happened? Oh my brother, my brother, I should die for my Felix." The
sight of Oscar's distress caused a cessation in Felix's screams. He put
out one little hand, and said, "Don't cry, Otty, I'll bear it, only
don't cry so." "Bear what, my darling," said I, "where are you hurt?" "I
am hurted all about, Mama; but is it a snake that has eaten me, or who
killed me? I'll be a man, dear Otty. I'll not scream any more, if you
will only not cry so, because I shall cry, I know I shall, I must cry
just a little, but it is not the pain." As he tried thus to comfort his
brother, the colour fled from his cheeks, his eyes closed, the rosy lips
paled, he fell back in my arms motionless. I thought he was dead, but he
was in my arms, the wild waves had him not for their prey; could it be
possible that I felt comforted as I clasped him closer? Wine was
brought, water poured on his face; and, as we laid him on the sward, his
right arm fell in an unnatural position. It was broken. Stripping off
his clothes, and carefully examining, we found him bruised in various
places, but no other bones injured save the collar bone. Schillie set
both arm and collar bone. We bandaged them as well as we could, and then
carefully carrying him to the old tent place, we did our best to restore
him to consciousness. In this we succeeded; and, though for many days he
lay in a dangerous fever, once that was subdued he grew well
astonishingly fast. The arm reunited perfectly, but the collar bone
retains a lump on it to this day.

The first symptom he gave us of returning health and strength was in a
conversation he had with his beloved Jenny, who was so occupied in
nursing him her attentions to us were of the most scanty kind. Imagine a
little figure, clothed in a little white gown, his arm and shoulder
bandaged up, lying on a lot of cushions. The smallest little white face
peeped out from a mass of hair, and a little brown monkey, with a face
about the same size, watches the different clouds of restlessness or
pleasure that passed over the little white face with a curious mixture
of wonder and curiosity. Jenny appears with a dish and exposes it to
view. The little invalid, with a lordly air, surveys his dinner.

_Felix._--"A nasty chicken again, Jenny."

_Jenny._--"Oh, Sir, I have roasted it to a turn, and here is egg sauce."

_Felix._--"Then give me the egg sauce, and you may have the chicken. I
wish chickens were never invented."

_Jenny._--"Would you like a duck, Sir?"

_Felix._--"No, duck is nastier. I want a mutton chop, Jenny."

_Jenny._--"But I have not got one, Sir."

_Felix._--"Then a beefsteak."

_Jenny._--"Indeed, I wish I could get one for you, Sir."

_Felix._--"Well, I don't mind, just for once, eating some boiled leg of
mutton."

_Jenny._--"Oh, my darling, then you must want mutton very bad, and you
know there is not such a thing on the island."

_Felix._--"Then it's a bad place, and I wish we were away, having
nothing but chickens and chickens, ducks and ducks, until we shall all
crow and quack."

_Jenny._--"Oh, don't, Sir, don't go for to move, and get in such a
passion, you'll displace the bones, and make your Mama so unhappy."

_Felix._--"I am sure nobody is so unhappy as me; and as for your
chicken, there----"

And with a kick of the little impudent foot away went the chicken out of
its dish into Jenny's face, who forgave her darling on the spot; nay,
even came to us for congratulations on his recovery. "For," says she,
"he is as impudent as ever he was when well, and is that not a good
sign, Ma'am."

_Schillie._--"Wash the remains of the chicken off your face, Jenny, and
then I'll tell you my opinion."



CHAPTER XXVI.


The fact that our beloved island was subject to earthquakes disturbed us
considerably. Storms we began to think quite common, hurricanes nothing,
rain but another mode for enjoyment; but to be swallowed up by the
earth, by the very land that had proved a haven to us when storm-beset
and wave-tossed, seemed an infliction not to be got over.

For some time we imagined every noise a rumbling earthquake, the swift
running feet of the children as if the house was coming down, the noisy
thumping of the washing stones as indicative of the rocks falling over
us. This induced us to think, much to Schillie's horror, of seeking a
new abode during the very hot weather on a smooth plain where no rocks
could cover us, nor trees fall on us, though we could not prevent the
earth opening her mouth and swallowing us up.

In one of our exploring parties for this purpose we came upon the site
and signs of an old habitation, evidently having been a substantial and
large dwelling, with remains of garden and palisade. We know not how it
escaped the observation of our kind captain, unless from the fact that
it lay on the open plain, and just before it was a plantation of trees,
so that, unless you walked across the plain, and went behind the trees,
you would see nothing of it; and they being able to see all across,
doubtless thought it labour lost to investigate what seemed open before
them.

Here we fancied had been the lair of the great serpent, from the close
smell and other circumstances about the place; but it was with feelings
rather akin to awe that we investigated a place built by other hands
than our own. Feeling so assured, as we did, that no mortal was on the
island, or apparently had been, but ourselves, we had begun to think
really that it was our own, risen out of the sea for us alone, so that
Schillie was for a time the only one who took a matter-of-fact view of
this appearance to us "Robinson Crusoes" of "Friday's foot." She
declared it had been deserted twenty years and more, and that the roof
was a very bad one at the very beginning of it, and not on such a good
plan as ours; that certainly she descried a new lichen on the walls,
which she went to fetch, and proved herself correct; finally, that there
might be some lock-up place within, giving us a clue to the former
inhabitants. We accordingly searched, and found various articles of
clothing and furniture, evidently of foreign manufacture. Everything was
covered some inches thick with a fine sand, which caused insufferable
choking and sneezing to those who were heedless. It seemed very apparent
that the house had been quitted suddenly, or that something had caused
great disorder and confusion. After wasting a great deal of time,
talking, thinking, and conjecturing, we at last came to the conclusion
that, with some trouble, we might make it a very tidy house, and that we
would proceed systematically to clean it, and make it fit for the use of
such august people as we were; and, being governed by the soul of
honour, every article looking like private property was carefully put
away, in case the real owners should arrive, though there was many a
thing that would have been rather useful to us. Some books in the
Spanish language we kept, as the girls and I thought to amuse ourselves
during the next rainy season in teaching ourselves Spanish. "Mighty
silly," says Schillie, "taking such unnecessary trouble, as who knows
but that there may be nobody to talk to ere long even in English." This
old house was very low, and full of rents and holes; also, we discovered
that, though on a plain, it was so contrived nobody could perceive it
was a habitation unless close to it. From two sides it was quite hidden
by trees, though not close to them, from the third side it looked like
part of the plantation, and from the fourth side it seemed to be part
and parcel of a mound and clump of rocks close by. It had five rooms in
it, two not much bigger than closets. Altogether we agreed our new abode
had not the open, frank, handsome air of our own home, with its
wide-spread doorless entrance, but looked rather like the covered den of
people wishing to keep themselves concealed and out of sight. However,
we used it in all openness and fairness, and whatever might have been
the character of its last inhabitants, we kept open house, never closing
the great iron-plated door or the barred shutters; also, we misdoubted
they could have been good people, as there was nothing feminine to be
found about the place. Nevertheless, we lived in great comfort, and
every evening somebody told a new romance as to what had been the fate
of the lost and gone, until we wove a history about them, equal to any
fairy story ever told, winding up with one from Felix, who, after giving
various touching descriptions as to their numerous qualities and
perfections, declared that they died one by one. "How?" said the little
girls, looking aghast at such an abrupt conclusion. "They disappeared,"
said Felix, "one every night." "But that's no story, how did they
disappear?" "Oh, you must guess, my story is a riddle." So they guessed
and guessed, but, becoming no wiser, they clamourously called on him to
tell. "But if you don't guess," said Felix, "how can I tell, for not one
of them was left alive." "You are a stupid boy," said Lilly, "and tell a
very bad story." "Yours was a much badderer, and you are a stupid girl
not to guess that the big snake eat them all up." "Well done, well
done," said everybody, "a very good idea. I dare say it did happen." So
then we fell upon conjecturing what we should have done to save
ourselves under similar circumstances, which gave rise to so many
bloody-minded schemes and horrible intentions of torture, that no
respectable snake would have ventured near us.



CHAPTER XXVII.


What! has a year gone? Are we celebrating the day of our arrival at YR
YNYS UNYG? More, much more, days flee away, weeks speed on, months glide
by us. Has hope gone? Are the cheerful strong hearts weary and low? The
elastic young spirits, the energetic wills, the high courage and strong
energies, could not always last on the full stretch. But why detail the
fits of despondency, the listless hopeless state into which we sometimes
fell? Suffice it that nature sometimes asserted her rights, while
religion kept us from open despair. Many events occurred, wearisome to
the reader, though interesting to ourselves. Sometimes we divided, and
half lived in one house and half in the other. We then paid each other
visits of ceremony, expending much labour, even if no cost, on the
feasts we prepared for our company. Also we established a post, in which
we wrote imaginary news from England. The girls became very expert in
drawing. We spoke all kinds of languages. We invented stories and told
them, many of the children's I have preserved, being very clever and
amusing. Also we had another earthquake, which led to a great discovery.
No less than that the cliffs behind our house, and reaching down to the
beach, were one continuous range of caverns, all apparently formed of
old coral. Serena was the fortunate discoverer, for, excited by
curiosity one day, she insinuated her slender figure in a fissure which
had been rent in the rock by the last earthquake. Her exclamations of
delight and pleasure caused all those who could follow her to do so;
but, alas for the stout Schillie, and the gigantic Gatty, they were
compelled to hear the shouts of joy and yet could bear no part; a
discovery was made and no Schillie to give her opinion thereon; a new
adventure and no Gatty to lend a helping hand. They chafed like lions in
a cage, until Madame happily came to their rescue, by suggesting an
enlargement of the fissure. But this was not the work of a moment, more
especially as every two minutes they were interrupted by the little ones
rushing out with fresh wonders to detail, while the big ones shouted
more and more.

Gatty squeezed herself through with the loss of half her garments, fully
prepared to prove the new discovery nothing, while Schillie, Madame, and
I worked for another half hour, and went through like ladies to see a
sight which enchanted us. A most magnificent cavern, cool and dark,
though some light penetrated in from above somewhere, the ground was
covered with fine dry sand, the numerous grotesque shapes and oddities
all around the cavern seemed almost made on purpose for little private
habitations and snug corners. It was so large in size that it had
nothing of the musty feeling of the little caverns below, but was airy,
and even bright with sunshine during part of the day. Every body seemed
to find a nook or place in it so suited to their minds, that we called
it the "Cavern of Content." We nearly deserted our houses during the hot
weather, and lived almost entirely in the cavern, everybody choosing
their own private apartment, and fitting up according to their own
fashion. Schillie grumbled a good deal at the perversity of the cavern
in not having suffered itself to be discovered before, and saved her the
trouble of building a house. "I declare," said she, "my hands have never
been fit to look at since." These hands were her weak point, as I said
before, but, as they were just as white and pretty as ever, I would not
nibble at her fish for a compliment, and she held them up without a
remark from any of us until Gatty pinched them.

The only thing I did not like about the cavern was that it had
innumerable passages and windings about, and odd places, with dark
holes, and ghostly-looking corners. I was not satisfied until I had
explored them all, blocking up narrow little slits, and doing all I
could to rout out anything that might be harbouring there. There was one
passage very long and steep, the entrance to it out of the cavern was so
narrow we did not notice it at first; but, when once through, we had
every here and there light, and it led in one or two instances to other
caverns, though none so large as ours, but it always led downwards. At
last we came to a place utterly dark, and, as we stopped for a moment,
we heard the rushing of water. Of course I thought we should all be
drowned, and commanded every one to return, but, somehow, we could not
rest without finding out what dangers we might be exposing ourselves to.
So, after a couple of day's doubt, we took candles and torches, and the
whole family set out, not being willing to leave one survivor to tell
the tale of what might befall us. At the dark place we lighted our
torches and proceeded towards a glimmering light. The rushing of water
sounded nearer and nearer, our steps became slower and more slow, the
light brighter and better, at last what should we see but the sea
shining through a fall of waters that hung like a gauze curtain between
us and the open air. We were able to creep out with but a slight
sprinkling, and then found ourselves not far from the great chestnut
tree, at the place before mentioned, where the rocks had a precipitate
fall of twenty feet, over which the stream fell; in fact, the entrance
into the cavern was immediately under the fall, and, with very little
trouble, we could make egress and ingress without getting wet.

It is impossible to do justice to the beauty of the scene looking at it
through the sparkling veil of waters, or to describe our pleasure at
this singular discovery. Not only did the outside of the island belong
to us, but now we had the secrets of the interior exposed to us, and the
right of making what we liked of them.

_Mother._--"Now, Schillie, this is one of the most charming discoveries
in the world, for if pirates and marauders come here, we shall be able
to hide for weeks without their discovering us."

_Schillie._--"I had hoped your head was cleared of those piratical
notions. For my part, I wish someone would come. The King of the Pirates
would be welcome so that we could have a little variety."

_Mother._--"I think you are ungrateful. We have been eighteen months
here now, and can you say that we have had one privation or serious
trouble?"

_Schillie._--"June, you have your children near you, you see nothing
else and care for nothing else. I own the sight of my Willie, and the
long sunny curls of my Puss, would, were it but for one moment, ease my
heart, and make me bear hunger, thirst, privations of every kind,
without a murmur. We have everything here we can possibly want, and that
without having to slave for it. We have food growing up to our mouths,
the trees shed clothes for us, the sea, the sky, the air, the island,
more lovely than angels' dreams; the young ones grow and thrive; Madame
has become a new creature; you are regaining your youth and spirits. So
what have I to do, but eat, drink, and sleep, and think of what I have
left behind, and what I may never see again. I tell you, June, I am
moped to death. I welcome the thunder storms as a variety, I look upon
the earthquakes as a desirable change in something, I watch the
hurricanes with a sort of insane desire that they would blow us all
away!"

_Mother._--"My darling! I am vexed for you. I trust that God will look
upon your present state with compassion and mercy, restoring you once
more to your children. But remember yours are with the best and kindest
friends, in the midst of civilisation and religious advantages. Look at
mine. Though I have them with me, and they are healthy and strong, yet
is this the sort of education I intended for them? Is this the life I
had hoped to see them lead? Should they not soon be restored to their
homes and country will they not be rendered unfit for mixing with
civilised society? or too old to change; or, even if we remain here,
will not that be worse for them?"

_Schillie._--"Well, I grant our troubles are equal, but I wish, I wish,
oh how I wish to see my children once more. But here are the girls, and
they must not see me thus. Upon my word Gatty is too stupid. She has
grown almost as good as Sybil and Serena. I don't think she has been in
a bit of mischief these three months."

_Mother._--"Don't make yourself unhappy about that, lest you find reason
to eat your words, and have to sit in repentance once for some act
against you. Now girls, don't you think this one of your best
discoveries?"

"Yes," said Sybil, "because during the rainy season we can come here
every day and have a shower bath."

"And," said Serena, "we can get fresh water every day without being
half-drowned."

"And," said Gatty, "we can sit here and look out for ships all day
long."

_Mother._--"What, Gatty, are you tired of being here?"

_Gatty._--"Tired, tired does not express what I think about this place.
There is nothing to do. Nothing frightens Sybil now, and Serena is so
busy learning Spanish, she won't listen to a word I say in English.
Oscar makes me talk of home and Wales until I am ready to cry my eyes
out at my own descriptions. And the three little girls are all so wise
and womanly that they seem to reprove me if I do anything the least like
play or fun. I have not had a bit of fun since Felix tried to teach his
monkey to fish, that he might lazily read himself. I am quite done up
with dullness" (heaving a sort of groan).

_Mother._--"Indeed, I think you are badly used, especially since Madame
has found out you really can be a good girl if you like."

_Gatty._--"I could be as mischievous as ever, only nobody cares for it
or scolds me."

_Schillie._--"Mischievous! I should think so, you sphinx of plagues, I
declare I am dripping, and you know I have a horror of being over damp."

_Gatty._--"It is quite clean water, little Mother, and it is but a
little stream, and has not been running long to you."

_Schillie._--"But you know if it had not been for your great clumsy
fingers making a channel, that stream would never have come to where I
am sitting; and you did it on purpose you know, so that it should just
dribble to my seat and not June's."

_Gatty._--"Yes, I know I did, little Mother, because you know I would
never have done so to her."

_Schillie._--"Did any one ever hear such impudence. Now, I insist on it
that you go back, and bring me some dry things. But it's no use, I must
go myself. I am wet through and through. Well, you shall never catch me
complaining again of Miss Gatty being stupidly good; and she knows so
well I hate anything like damp."

_Gatty_ (with her demure face).--"Yes, little Mother, I know that so
well, that I sent sufficient water to wet you thoroughly instead of
damping you."

Schillie went off muttering horrible imprecations.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


We employed the next rainy season in making the passage through the
cavern wider and better, so that we could run up and down without
torches or fears. The rainy season had commenced with what Felix called
a very savage storm, and it seemed likely to end with one equally
fierce. The thunder pealed so loud that many large pieces of rock were
shaken down in the cavern by the concussion, and it became dangerous to
live in it. Schillie turned us all out, therefore, one day, and taking
Oscar and Gatty, she placed them in different safe corners with guns,
and they all three fired their guns in the cavern for half an hour,
thereby bringing down any loose rocks or dangerous parts of the cavern.
When we were re-admitted, we were nearly all choked with the smell of
the gunpowder, which did not go off for a good while. The cavern was so
dry, healthy, and large, and being able to run down to the brook was so
delicious, that we scarcely thought of the danger we incurred in living
in it. But this storm was tremendous. We ran to the narrow part, close
by the waterfall, to flee out at a minute's warning. As we sat huddled
together, all silent and awe-struck, what was that we saw in the flash
of lightning? Some uttered a hurried exclamation, all started, but none
said a word. The thunder crashed louder; we longed for the lightning. It
came, one long, bright flash, and every mouth uttered "a ship! a ship!"

How unaccountable were our feelings. Fear for the ship predominated.
Then the wild conjectures, the hopes, the fears. Suppose it was the
beloved La Luna, or some stranger. We heeded not the storm for ourselves
now. We longed for the flashes of lightning to reveal to us the strange,
the welcome, the bewildering sight. She was apparently riding at anchor,
endeavouring to weather the storm under the shelter of the great rock,
for each flash showed her in the same place, but each flash also took
away from the most sanguine the hope that it was La Luna; yet still we
clung to the idea that it might be the dear captain come in another
vessel. To leave the spot was impossible; the maids brought cloaks and
wrappers for the children, who slept at our feet, but the older watchers
remained with their eyes fixed on the one spot, waiting for the coming
dawn. The wind lulled, the rain ceased, the thunder was silent, and the
impenetrable darkness remained unrelieved by the lightning. Thus we sat
through that dark night, waiting for the coming hour so important to our
fate.

Over the wide-spread sea streamed the first light of morning. As it
spread from one end of heaven to the other our hearts beat, our eyes
ached to penetrate still quicker the fast-receding gloom. It was then
that Madame spoke, beseeching me earnestly to suffer no signs of our
being on the island to show themselves until we had carefully scanned
and examined the strangers. To this I silently agreed. Schillie and
Gatty, with the three girls, were so absorbed in their watch that Madame
went to each and gave them the caution she had given me. In a few
minutes the world was in a blaze of light, and conspicuous on the
troubled but brilliant sea was the long, low, black hull of a
schooner-rigged vessel. There seemed no signs of life on board, which
sent a chill to our hearts. If our dear captain had been there, would he
not have been watching for the daylight as we had been? Would he not
have been landing at this moment, and we rushing down to meet him? Many
sobbed aloud, half overcome at the sight of human beings again, half
overwhelmed at the fatal fear that they came not for us. Madame alone
seemed to have her senses about her. Silently beckoning the maids to
follow, she left us, but what to do we neither asked or cared to know.
The little ones still slumbered, we still watched, no life, no signs of
humanity to be seen on board the object of our fond wishes, our deep
anxiety. An hour passed, and, as the little sleepers each awoke, Madame
had them carried off. Presently the maids brought us each some coffee,
but we hardly cared to drink it.

At last a man is seen. We grasped each other's hands and withdrew,
clinging closer together, though the veil of waters effectually screened
us, well as we could see through it. Another half hour, and the vessel
was alive with human beings. Finally, about a dozen, all armed, got into
a boat and came to land. They, one and all, anxiously gazed on the
cliffs and rocks, while some used their telescopes. When landed, they
examined with wonder and curiosity the remains of our tent; we had left
but few signs there, as nothing could remain out in the wet weather
without being damaged. But still there was enough to show them that
human beings had been there, and that within a month or so. They sat
down, and talked vehemently, always looking with great earnestness on
the island. We supposed them to be alarmed, for they did not venture one
hundred yards from their boat. How little did they think what a helpless
party was watching them, and that, too, with greater fear than interest.
Not that I was not already feeling the wisdom of Madame's advice, for,
as far as we could judge, they seemed a black strange wild-looking set
of men. But our suspense was soon ended. We heard one shouting, the
others all ran, and he pointed to something on the cliffs we could not
see. I trembled as I looked round for the children, but Gatty, whose
curiosity and excitement took her beyond the bounds of prudence,
exclaimed, it is the snake's skin, they are wondering at it. She was
quite right. Two got into the boat and rowed back to the ship, the rest
ran without apparent fear to the rock on which our captain had nailed
the great skin, and which we had never removed, and which neither time
or storms had apparently injured. The boat brought back another load,
who also ran to the place, and all seemed in a great state of
excitement.

"June," said Schillie to me, "they are not alarmed about us, you see.
They must have known of this island, and the great snake, and been
afraid of it; now they see its skin you'll see they'll be all over the
island. I misdoubt me, that big fellow is the King of the Pirates, whom
fate has wafted hither in compliance with my mad wishes; and that house
we found on the plain is his castle, and now he'll go and take
possession, and find out that somebody has been beforehand. I don't like
their looks, June, we must keep close at present. But what infatuated
geese we are to sit here, when we must run to Tir-y-hir, and do away
with as much of our whereabouts as we can."

Leaving the children to watch, with Sybil in charge of them, we ran for
our lives. Here we found the wise and thoughtful Madame beforehand with
us, she and the maids had been moving everything, and it required but
willing hands and quick work to pile up stones, and remove all vestiges
of the cavern. Of course our house would speak for itself. Luckily we
had been living in the cavern for a month, so that no very recent traces
of us could be discovered. Gatty grumbled a little, indeed I don't think
she would have worked had she not anticipated some amusement in watching
the new arrivals, whilst they must be utterly ignorant of our
existence. Schillie worked with a will; from the first I think she had a
foreboding that all was not right about these people. We now went back,
and found the watchers full of news, and also full of squabbles amongst
themselves. More people had come from the ship; fires had been lighted.
Every one had gone to look at the big snake's skin. Working was going
on; symptoms of a tent had been commenced. The squabbles amongst the
little ones arose because of their different opinions of the new comers.
Oscar voted them pirates, and declared he would shoot the first one that
came near us. The little girls declared they must be friends, and would
be sure to take them home if they gave them money. Felix was most
anxious to be amongst them and get on board, and go home, and every
other variety of scheme, but the promise from Oscar that he should have
the first chance of shooting the first pirate completely turned him, and
he became perfectly convinced that they were horrible robbers, perhaps
slave-stealers, and did he not shoot them he and his Mother would be
stolen and sold for slaves to different masters. A climax of fate that
seemed to him would settle the period of his life.

We took little food that day, and the strangers never imagined that
throughout the whole time at least four pairs of eyes were constantly
watching them; nay, even when night arrived two of us kept watch, though
we had most of us fits of impatience, not to say remorse, at thus
welcoming strangers so long desired. In fact, if it had not been for
Schillie and Madame we should certainly have rushed upon our fate in our
anxiety to find out whether they were friends or foes. Gatty chafed like
a young lion, every handkerchief that came near her was soon in tatters.
Sybil glowed with animation as she said, "They never could harm us, they
will be only too glad to help us, they will pity us so much for our sad
fate; we have only to tell them our story and they would take us all
away; oh I am sure, quite sure they would. It seems so unkind and
ungracious to be thus suspicious of the first human beings we have seen
so long."

_Schillie._--"Pooh, pooh, child, it is better to leave them in ignorance
of our unkindness, for fear you should find out when too late that they
will be equally unkind in chopping you up into beefsteaks, at least you
had better make up your mind which of the two acts will be the most
unkind."

_Sybil._--"But, surely they are not cannibals; I don't think there is a
sailor in the world who could be a cannibal, they are all such good
fellows."

_Schillie._--"Humph! Think as you like my dear. I honour your innocence
and applaud your approbation of sailors. But you are such a noodle, and,
being the stoutest of the party, ought to have more compassion on
yourself."

_Serena._--"But I agree with Sybil in thinking it very ungracious, not
giving them the option of being kind to us, if they like it. They can
but leave us behind if they don't like us."

_Schillie._--"If they would promise to leave us behind in case they
don't like us, I am ready to go and meet them now."

_Gatty._--"Then do come, for I do think this most horrid work, peeping
and watching, and imagining every evil thing against them. Besides,
supposing they do turn out uncivil, what is to prevent us when they are
all asleep rising and taking possession of their vessel, and sailing off
with it, leaving them a note to say we will pay them for it as soon as
ever we arrive in England."

_Schillie._--"And I trust you are prepared to act captain to the vessel,
as well as mate and crew. I promise you that I am not going to sea
without some experienced hands to guide the ship."

_Sybil._--"Perhaps we can bribe some of them to come with us. For if
they are wicked people there are sure to be some unfortunate good ones
among them, who will be glad to get away."

_Mother._--"Well! between us we shall weave a romantic story about them.
In the meantime don't let us be impatient."

_Serena._--"But, dear sister, won't they think it unkind of us hiding
ourselves from them in this suspicious way, supposing they turn out to
be good friendly people."

_Madame._--"My sweet child, let them think us anything rather than we
should get into their power. Once in their hands we should never get
out again so helpless as we are. Indeed they look so ferocious that two
of them would be quite enough to kill us all."

_Oscar._--"I should like to see two dare to do it."

_Felix._--"And so would I, we would soon settle their business, would we
not Otty? You should take the left fellow, and I would knock down the
right one."

_Gatty._--"Yes! indeed; two! Why I could settle two myself! But this is
such sorry work; peeping like brats. We might be even now making
preparations to go away, they having promised to take us by this time. I
can't stand waiting another day, I know I cannot."

_Serena._--"Then you must sit, and be patient, meanwhile let me tell
you----"

_Schillie._--"I think you are very childish. Think if these people turn
out to be enemies what an advantage we have in being able to see and
watch all they do, and yet they not being able to find out anything
about us."

_Sybil._--"But I don't like to think they are enemies or that they would
be so to us."

_Gatty._--"Of course not, Syb. For once I agree with you, and I think it
a great shame to behave like this to them; so like Madame fearing an
elephant behind a straw."

This last sentence was muttered between her teeth, but Schillie caught
it, and turning round said, "I'll tell you what Miss Gatty, if you say
another word on the subject, or favour us with any more of your
remarkably silly ideas, I'll have you locked up."

"Where, little Mother?" said Gatty, winding her great arms round
Schillie, who struggled in vain to release herself from the potent
grasp. "June, June, con---- no, I don't mean that, hang---- no nor that,
you horrid---- Well! I am in a vice, June, I say June, make her release
me. What arms the wretch has, will you let me out you good-for-nothing,
I'll give it you well, Miss; come release me, June, I'll never speak to
you again, if you don't let me free instead of laughing in that absurd
manner."

Truly it was very ridiculous; Gatty so cool and quiet, but holding her
fast; Schillie in a red hot rage, and utterly unable to release herself.
But we were getting too noisy, so peace was proclaimed, and harmony
restored.

The next morning we found it a true prophecy that the strangers would be
all over the island. First of all they examined all our remains and
marks of habitation on the cliffs, especially the church, where our
foot-marks would be more recent than anywhere else. But we trusted to
the great rains that had fallen to obliterate them as much as possible.
In examining the cliffs they came so near us that we could distinguish
their voices, and even found that they spoke a sort of Spanish. The
nearer they came the less prepossessing they appeared, and even Gatty
retreated with a shudder as two wild fierce-looking hairy faces showed
themselves just above a ledge of rocks within fifty yards of our hiding
place.

Some of us remained under the waterfall, the noise of which prevented us
hearing anything distinctly, while the remainder ran up and watched at
the other entrance. There, through chinks and crevices we could watch
them, as they gradually came in different parties towards the little
valley in which our house was built. It was quite inevitable their
discovering it, so we made up our minds to that matter; and it was not
long ere the shouts of those who did so drew all the others to the
place.

How rejoiced we were on a nearer view of them that Madame had been so
provident in advising us to keep close until we could learn something of
them. Even Sybil was obliged to allow that she did not recognise a
single good face amongst them. So wild and fierce a set I never saw, and
their looks made me shudder. From our small knowledge of Spanish we
could make out that they were greatly surprised, and evidently guessed
some one was on the island. Also they said a great deal about the snake,
and their rejoicings it was dead, making evident allusions to the island
as if they knew it quite well. After satisfying their curiosity some sat
down to smoke, as if intending to wait patiently for the arrival of the
inhabitants, others pursued their researches and we had no doubt went to
the other house, while all examined their arms and primed their guns, as
if preparing for an engagement with the warlike people who had
slaughtered so great a monster as the snake.

We made all these remarks amongst ourselves, and were greatly amused at
our conjectures and interpretations of all they said.

But we could not thus calmly give up all our fond hopes and wishes. We
had still some struggles, frightened as we were at the sight of our new
companions. It was necessary, however, that we should come to some
regular arrangement of our time and work, as we were in danger of
starving to death in our eagerness to watch these people. Unluckily a
great part of our store of food was in the house they were now so busily
smoking in. We had enough with us for a few days, but we generally kept
our stores there, as they seemed to do better there than in the cavern.
Also it was useless the whole set of us watching; accordingly we took it
turn about, two at each entrance for two hours at each time, a little
one and a big one always together. The remainder went about their usual
occupations, all except lessons, about which Madame seemed to have
tasted the waters of Lethe. We suffered rather in point of meals, as we
dared not light a fire for fear of the smoke discovering us. Besides our
kitchen apparatus was all in the house, so that altogether, what with
fatigue, worry, and discomfort, we were getting unanimous in abusing our
new neighbours. We came to one agreement, namely, that the next day
being Sunday we should observe how they spent it. If, in anything like a
christian manner we would open negotiations with them by some means yet
to be discussed, but, if in a heathen manner, then we should consider
them as savages, cannibals, and no one knows what; and, hiding close, we
should quietly endure our privations as best we could, until the
ill-omened, disappointing black vessel should leave us once more to our
fate.

In the security of darkness and secrecy we slept that night, Madame and
Jenny moving their mattresses to the waterfall side, Schillie and I to
the side where Tir-y-hir was, that, at all events we might have the
first intimation of any discovery they might make. Before we went to
sleep, however, we assured ourselves that they had been to the other
house, and, if anything could have completed our disgust it was the fact
that they returned dragging with them all our summer clothes, with which
they covered themselves. The pretty white hats belonging to the girls,
which they had learned to plait themselves, were thrust on the great,
dirty, greasy heads of these horrid men. All the pretty silk Sunday
frocks, the shawls, the scarfs, the caps, the bonnets, the carefully
hoarded remains of our civilized attire, alas! alas! did they not also
tell these wretches what a helpless party were on the island? Everything
was recklessly thrown about, torn, and trodden under foot. Hargrave flew
from the sight, and hid her tears and stifled her sobs in the darkest
corner of the cavern. From that hour they were doomed in her estimation
as the acme of wickedness and vice.

Many times during the night were we awakened by their noise and drunken
revelry, and alas for the hopes we had formed of the Sabbath-day none
ever were less fulfilled.

The scenes of riot, quarrelling, drinking, and imprecation were so
dreadful we could not keep watch any more, but hurried as far we were
able from the sight and sounds of life so abhorrent to our nature, so
horrid to witness. With pale faces and tearful eyes, and ears yet filled
with oaths and bitter words, we proceeded to gain courage and implore
help from the throne of grace, feeling how we stood in need of such aid.
For not even when about to be a prey to the stormy elements, or the
desolate feeling when left alone in a solitary island, or the sudden
death which appeared inevitable in the jaws of the horrid snake, not
even in all these did we feel our helplessness as we did now. And it was
our own species we feared, for whose coming we had so often prayed. It
was man, once created in the image of God, that sent this pang of horror
through us.

But, enough of this; suffice it to say we were a set of miserable,
trembling, quaking women, but God in his mercy calmed and comforted us,
so that after the morning prayers we proceeded to make our hiding place
still more secure.

As I said before, the waterfall was a most effectual screen, especially
now that there was so much water in the brook. The more water that fell
of course the more liable we were to get wet as we passed in and out,
but, owing to the height from which it fell, the water cleared the rock
by some feet, and thus gave us a passage underneath. The tall ones had
always to stoop, but the little ones ran out and in like rabbits in a
burrow. At the other entrance it was almost as well concealed. Now we
got in and out, for the rock projected some ten feet out, and then just
round the corner appeared a sort of recess. This seemed exactly smooth
with the rock, but, by edging round and squeezing a little, you came to
a sort of slit or cleft in the rock and that led to the cavern. But even
when there we had innumerable holes and hiding places, and it would have
been a good week's work to ferret us all out from thence. In case,
however, of discovery, we organised a plan and arranged our places of
retreat, and we practised ourselves in quick hiding, and, to get our
lesson perfect, in every now and then calling out "The pirates are
coming." Whereupon, as a matter of course, every one ran for their lives
to their appointed place. Each place had a communication with another,
so that we could telegraph all round. The place from whence we made our
observations was on a ledge up in the cavern, from whence some of the
light came in; it might be about twenty feet from the ground, and we
looked down on them. Dreadful wretches.



CHAPTER XXIX.


We were up, had had our shower bath after careful examination, had
breakfasted, and yet there lay our enemies in stupid and heavy sleep
still.

"Now then," said Gatty, "now is our time."

"Yes," said Otty, "I'll engage to kill them all."

"With my help," said Master Felix consequentially.

"No, no, children, don't be so absurd," said I, "drunken people are not
so helpless as you imagine, and, besides, they may not be all so. Some
may be watching elsewhere, some others may still be in the ship; they
will soon be tired of looking for us, and leave us in peaceable
possession of our dear little island."

_Schillie._--"I am not quite sure if it would not be a good plan to pick
them off one by one, when we can find them at an advantage."

_Mother._--"For heaven's sake don't be mad. The report of a gun would
bring them all on us, and the smoke betray us."

_Sybil._--"Besides, little Mother, they may after all be good people,
and we have no right to kill them until they have tried to hurt us."

_Hargrave._--"Oh Miss Sybil, whatever can you go for to say they 'ave
not 'armed hus. I never, no never saw such wickedness! My mistress's
best lace dress! I shall never forget it to my dying day, no nor never
forgive it. The 'eathens, the monsters, I am willing to 'old any
hinstrument for my young master while he shoots the dreadful
scrummagers."

_Gatty._--"You don't say so! Hargrave, then take hold of this."

Hargrave shuddered as she grasped the gun, but she resolutely held it at
arms length. Gatty having put her to the proof, applauded her, and we
went on with our conversation.

_Mother._--"I can never feel sufficiently grateful to you, Madame, for
your forethoughts and wisdom. We are now at all events our own
mistresses and masters, but no one knows what would have become of us,
had we gone open-armed to meet these people."

_Madame._--"They look capable of any wickedness, Madam, and I really
begin to think from all I can make out that they are pirates, and then
they would have had no scruples in carrying us all off, and selling us
for slaves."

_Schillie._--"Or worse, they might have turned us into wives, a thing I
could by no means consent to, even to be Queen of the Pirates."

_Serena_ (our best Spanish Scholar).--"I heard them talking a great deal
about the snake, and it seemed they were afraid to land at first for
fear of it, but wanted water very much. And it was only on discovering
its skin that they ceased to feel any alarm, and have wandered all about
since."

_Gatty._--"What owls we were to leave the skin there. However I think it
great fun to dodge them in this way."

_Madame._--"Fun did you say, my dear child? Poor deceived child."

_Gatty._--"Not deceived at all, Madame, and, besides, we all think it
fun."

_Sybil._--"Yes, Madame, I think it very amusing to feel so safe and
secure, and yet to be able to watch them so well."

_Serena._--"And you know, Madame, it gives us such advantage; we know
all about them, and they know nothing about us."

_Schillie._--"Also, Madame, we have now something to do, and June cannot
thrust any more of her inventions upon us for want of some other
amusement."

_Zoë._--"And you know, Madame, we cannot have any lessons while we are
so busy watching."

_Winny._--"Yes, Madame, and it is so nice to feel so useful, and have
you all running up to ask us, 'Well! what do we see now? What's going on
at present?'"

_Lilly._--"And to see them all running about here and there looking for
us, and all too in the wrong places."

_Oscar._--"And what fun it will be to shoot them."

_Felix._--"Yes! right and left shots."

_Jenny._--"Oh, Master Felix, how pleased I should be to see you do that."

_Hargrave._--"Nobody more so than hi, I make bold to say."

Madame turned from one to another in sad dismay, and then looked at me.

"Well! Madame, it is better they should all think thus than be as
wretched as we were yesterday," returned I. "So let us make the best of
it, hope the best, and ardently pray for it."

"I should like just to kill a few before they leave," said Gatty.

_Mother._--"For what possible reason, my dear child?"

_Gatty._--"Because, because, it will be then a real good downright
adventure, and we shall be able----"

Here we were interrupted by a great noise. Every heart jumped into every
mouth, at least mine did, so I suppose every other person's did. We flew
to our hiding places. By and by there was a great smell of smoke. I
telegraphed Schillie, and we crept from our corners, and went to the spy
place. Oh sight of horror, what did we see but our beloved house, that
matchless building, all in flames! Not being able to speak, Schillie
shook her fists at them, until I thought she would shake them off. The
dear little house, our pride and delight, built with such labour,
inhabited with such pleasure, was fast consuming under the hands of
these robbers. It seems that having guessed all our stores were there,
and having made every effort to find us, and not succeeding, they had
resorted to this method in the hope of forcing us to appear. But, such
a base act only made us think much more badly of them, and we could
hardly tell the news as we went sorrowfully back to the others.

In the meantime they shouted and called to us in every part of the
island, offered us every inducement they could think of to make us
appear. But, not even the bribe of a promise to take us away from the
island moved us one bit. We kept closer and more quiet the more furious
they became. This lasted two days. We had not much more food left, and
it was absolutely necessary we should get to the gardens to obtain
something, or to the other house. This was a dreadful idea. At one time
I half thought it would be better to starve altogether. But, could I
bear to see the little ones die before my face?

It makes me shiver when I think of that hour, and the settling who was
to go. It must be Schillie or I, one to go, one to stay for fear of
accidents. The lot fell on her. I would not let her have her way, but
would draw lots. I did not know which was the worst fate of two, to go
or stay. Jenny offered to go, Otty would go, and the lot fell on Serena
of the three girls. Gatty groaned aloud in disappointment. The hour
fixed on was just before night, when they would all be carousing. Well!
we let them out. Ah! how horrible it was to see them withdrawn from the
shelter of the secret cavern. I sprang to recall them my feelings were
so dreadful. But they disappeared like lapwings. On our knees we waited
for them, Sybil laying her head in the dust for sorrow, her Serena in
such danger, Gatty tearing at the rocks and stones until her hands bled.
And we could not see them if they were in danger. The suspense was too
dreadful to be borne. With a few hasty words to Madame we seized as much
rope and cordage as we could carry, and, slipping out expeditiously, we
made our way, with the dexterity of long practice, up the side of the
cliffs, among the brushwood, to the top of the cavern. Here we could see
half over the island. But first we tied two stout ropes strongly to two
trees, and let them down into the cavern through one of the apertures
which lighted it. This told them inside that we had safely arrived at
the top, and the ropes were strong enough to let us down in case we
could not safely get back. Sybil, Gatty, and I were these three
impatient ones. Having done that, we looked out for our beloved ones.
They would be under cover all but the plain. We saw them! They were just
going to cross it. How they ran! How we wept and prayed for them. How
endless appeared the time when we once more lost them in the plantation
by the house. It is beginning to grow dark. They are coming! yes, all
four of them, heavily laden evidently. Now they are across the plain!
Now the friendly trees receive them! In ten minutes more they will be
here! How we shall welcome them, though I cannot think how I am ever to
touch the food they have gained at such a risk. Now we must go down to
meet them, and help the dear beloved creatures in with their precious
loads. The trees crack, "let us make haste," the brushwood opens. Ah!
the dreadful sight! Six great pirates appear just as our dear ones burst
through the trees, hurrying all the more from being so near home,
half-blinded with the weights they carried. It is over! They are
surrounded, the pirates shout, they scream, and I fall to the ground
with those sounds ringing in my ears.



CHAPTER XXX.


But not a minute did I stay there. We must be up and doing. Despair made
us calm and cool. Everything seemed to depend on our judgment and
caution. How my heart was wrung with those cries. Poor Sybil, the dear
child seemed frantic, almost beside herself; she became resolute, almost
fierce; she seemed ready to dare the whole band. But they are carrying
them off. Can we resist flying after them? Yes, we must, we must. They
are going to take them down the cliffs. But where is Oscar? He is not
among them. They go. Now then, now is our time; we must get quickly
down, and run to the waterfall to see what is done to our heart's
treasures. We got down safely. As we emerge, one by one, we hear a
slight sound, and, looking round, perceive Otty hiding in the brushwood.
Being a quick sharp boy, he had seen the pirates in a minute, and,
falling down among the bushes, had escaped notice.

I clasped him in my arms, Gatty seized his bundle. We rushed into the
cavern, and told our tale; not that Sybil stopped or stayed, she made
her way to the waterfall at once, and arrived long before she could see
them coming down the cliffs. But the ever-provident Gatty, calling on
the little girls, ran out, and collected the dearly-bought food; and,
taking the little girls, she went boldly to the gardens, and between
them they brought in a plentiful supply of everything. She knew she
could not help them, neither could we watchers. Night came on, and left
us in despair and darkness.

Poor Sybil! the morning sun showed her in despair. We could not
recognise the soft smiling girl in the wild, excited, agitated being
before us. What were we to do? What could we do? We were ready to do
anything. We came to one agreement, that separated we would not be. If
we could not rescue them, we should join them in their captivity. Now
all the men collect together; we see nothing of their prisoners, but
imagine that they are on board the ship. We count twenty-two, the number
of all we had seen. They talk earnestly. Eight go on board, and, after
some bustle, return with the boat laden with empty casks. These are
rolled by the rest to the stream. Now all day the whole party fill the
casks, roll them back, and take them on board; they don't rest one hour.
We must do something. "Then," said Madame, "let me go out boldly among
them. I will find out what they mean to do. They may take me prisoner;
but, old and grey-headed, it is more likely they may not think it worth
while. I will write what I find out, and put it under a stone near the
old tent, if they don't allow me to return." So Madame goes, taking
care to appear from quite a different side to our entrance. They
surround her, she is bound to a tree, and they proceed with their
watering. At last it seems done, and they all appear tired and
exhausted, having worked hard, without food or rest, for eight hours. A
consultation is held about Madame, and finally she is left loose and
unbound, while they all run eagerly to the place where the meal is now
being prepared for them. She watches her opportunity, and gradually
steals up the cliff; when near the top, she is overtaken, and brought
back. Dear old lady, what incredible exertions had she made; we had
watched her scrambling up spots we knew she almost fainted to look at.
But that was nothing to her dauntless courage and energy. When they were
all safe at their meal, Gatty ran from the upper opening to the top of
the cliff, from whence they had taken her back, and, sure enough, under
a stone, close by which she had dropped her handkerchief, we found a
note.

This told us that the pirates intended sailing the next morning, that
they were delighted at having made these prisoners, that they had done
them no harm at present, but, being on board the ship, they certainly
intended carrying them off, that all the men intended sleeping on shore
but two, that Madame, if kept a prisoner, would stay near the boat, and
bear a light to direct us to it in case we thought we could rescue them.
(Of course we could and would rescue them, who doubted it?) The rest she
would leave to us, she could advise nothing. "Glorious," said Gatty,
"now we have something to do. Would that night was come."

_Mother._--"Now here is something to amuse us until night comes on.
Suppose we write as many letters as we can, and when we go on board for
the dear prisoners, let us leave them there. If these people are real
pirates, their vessel may be captured, and our letters found and
forwarded by the vessel that takes them. And even if no such event
happens, and they are not pirates, compassion may make them forward them
to their proper destination by some ship or opportunity."

A capital notion, and we proceeded to put it into execution, and
altogether accomplished about a dozen letters, each directed to
different members of our beloved family. All being ready, the darkness
impenetrable, we looked out and saw two lights burning. One we supposed
to be the ship light, the other Madame's, which she was to light when
all were asleep. With the utmost expedition, but the greatest caution
and silence, we slid down the rocks in a different direction from the
lights, that no rolling stone or slipping feet might be heard. Once on
the sand, our noiseless feet flew, as well as they could consistent with
the caution necessary in such darkness, and the way in which a bright
light, under such circumstances, deceives you. We kept by the moving
waves in part to guide us. We came to the bathing place. Now we must
creep on our hands and knees, we are so near. We touch Madame--happiness
inexpressible. Silently, Gatty, Oscar, and I creep into the boat; we tie
handkerchiefs and towels round the two oars; nevertheless, what a noise
we make, but we are very nearly reckless. Madame wraps her arms round
Sybil, lest her impatience should make her throw herself into the water,
in her wish to get to her second self. Now we touch the ship. Gatty and
I are on deck like cats. We have taken off our shoes that our footsteps
may not be heard. Otty keeps to the boat. We creep to the lamp and get a
light, and then go down stairs. We try a door, but it is locked. Gatty
goes back to Otty, and tells him to move under the cabin windows, to see
if he can find them out there. I try to push some of my long hair
through the key-hole to attract their attention, but the key is in. I
then thrust some letters under the door. I hear their voices, but am
just frantic at not being able to make them hear, but Oscar has. It is
all right; they know him, and speak to him. I hear Schillie say, "Where
is June?" How can we be so rash, and make such a noise. I can only
account for their not hearing us by the fact that they were completely
knocked up with the heat and work of the day, and had no idea there were
any more people on the island; and, as the boat was on shore, their
prisoners could not escape by themselves; so that in all security they
sleep profoundly. Now then, at last, the door opens, and we see them,
but not a word is spoken, and, merely squeezing our fingers, they pass
out. I hide the letters in different parts of the cabin, and, finding
them all ready in the boat, we push off, and in a few minutes, guided by
the friendly light, Serena is in Sybil's arms. They hurry off the same
way we came, only treading in the waves that their footsteps may not be
traced. I remain behind but to fasten up the boat in the same way we
found it; and then, after some difficulty, many falls, and constant
losing our way, owing to the darkness, we hear the welcome sounds of the
waterfall. Heedless of a wetting, we rush in, we are safe, we are in the
cavern, and then what a scene takes place. But no pen can describe it.
Mine cannot.



CHAPTER XXXI.


Exhausted by our many emotions, and the agony of the last twenty-four
hours, we slept until very late. But our first words on awaking were,
"Is the ship gone?"

Yes! she was gone from her mooring; nevertheless she was lying to, and
the boat came off to shore with about ten men in it. They lost no time,
but hurried about in every direction to find what we were certainly not
going to lose sight of again. We heard them wrangling and grumbling as
they searched all about Cartref Pellenig. A gun recalled them to the
ship after they had spent many fruitless hours in the search. Ere sunset
arrived, the low black hull of the evil ship was hardly to be traced on
the horizon. Then we questioned the three heroines as to their
adventures.

_Schillie._--"Odious beasts."

_Mother._--"Is that all you have to say about them?"

_Schillie._--"Wretches."

_Mother._--"But, Serena, what do you say?"

_Serena._--"They are shocking people."

_Mother._--"Well, I must try Jenny, for you did only tell us what we
guessed before."

_Jenny._--"Oh, Ma'am, they are such a wicked lot!"

Finding we could not get any news out of them, we waited until they had
sufficiently relieved their feelings by abusing them, and then gleaned
the following information by fits and starts. To use Schillie's words
they were audibly and horribly elated at having captured such notable
prisoners. Also they were questioned very much about themselves, and
Schillie's friend, the King of the Pirates, asked if they belonged to a
party of ladies and children supposed to be lost in a yacht about two
years ago. To this she replied in the affirmative, hoping to hear news
from home. Then they told her that many people were employed in the
search after them, and that very large rewards were offered to any one
who could give information. "Then," said Schillie, "if you take us all
home you shall receive rewards beyond your greatest wishes."

This conversation was held in French. He went and retailed it to his
companions in Spanish, not deeming that Serena understood them. They
then had a dispute amongst themselves as to whether they would retain
possession of the prisoners or claim the promised reward. The dispute
ran so high that they all agreed to defer it till they got to sea,
having too much to do to waste the time at present. When Serena
interpreted this to Schillie she was wrath beyond expression, and vowed
she would jump overboard and be swallowed by a shark ere she went to sea
and leave it undecided as to what their future fate must be. Then the
captain asked her where all the others were? And in a fit of disgust
and horror she said to him he should not take her from the island unless
it was to restore them to their friends. Giving her a ferocious look he
said her fate should be decided according as she behaved, and they were
in no particular want of money at present, having been very successful
in their late excursion. He also told her that they had been on the look
out for us a long time, and wanted to know if we had not great riches,
plate, and diamonds with us; he, in fact, asked so many questions, we
could not but perceive they knew a great deal about us. Finding Schillie
grew more and more reserved and angry, he separated the three, and
proceeded to question them. Jenny declared point blank, as well as she
could by signs, that all the rest of us were dead! and only those three
left. Serena pretended not to understand, and fell into such hysterical
tears at being separated from Schillie, that after awhile they restored
them together.

"Well, Schillie," said I, "I don't think I should have objected to go
with them so much, for they are generally such needy people these
pirates that money would surely have tempted them to give you up."

_Schillie._--"Brutes!"

_Mother._--"And then you could have made arrangements to come for us."

_Schillie._--"Villains!"

_Mother._--"Now do be rational, why don't you listen to what I say,
instead of vituperating in this manner?"

_Schillie._--"It is you that want reason. I tell you what, June, I had
rather stay here all the days of my life, and live to be the last
person on it, burying you every one, than be a week at sea with such a
set of rascally, vile, audacious, drunken robbers as they were. Now if
you love me let me hear their names no more. Let me enjoy the fact that
I am with you all again. Let me do anything to drive away the horrors
that beset me when in their power. I don't mean to say they were
uncivil, or rude, or that they treated us unnecessarily roughly. I had a
knife ready if they had done so to either of us."

So the subject was dropped, and, though we might have had some
misgivings that we had not acted with great courage, and that we had
lost an opportunity of being restored to the world which we might not
have again, yet we were not worse off than we had been ten days ago.
Moreover, we had escaped a great and serious misfortune, namely, being
separated. Also we knew the extent of what we had suffered, and we could
not tell what we might have had to endure. Also we had the heartfelt
satisfaction of knowing that we were not given up as lost, that kind
hearts and active energies were being employed in our behalf. Were we
wrong to be so hopeful that these exertions would meet with a due
reward?

These thoughts gave us food for many a conversation, though we made very
few allusions to the pirates themselves. Once, indeed, on remarking a
few cooking utensils, and a great big bottle that were now in use among
us, and which I had never seen before, "Oh," said Gatty composedly,
"they had no business to burn down our house, so Otty and I cleared
their caboose while you were down in the cabin, and Jenny helped us, and
she allows we have now a tidy set of cooking things, and Goodness knows
they have arrived just in the nick of time as ours were done up."

_Jenny._--"Indeed, Ma'am, it is quite true. Look at our old saucepans.
Past mending, even if there was a tinker next door."

_Schillie._--"Very sensible brat! I did not think she had such _nous_ in
her."

_Mother._--"Really I think we ought to give you a vote of thanks,
Gatty."

_Madame._--"But surely, my dear Madam, the want of principle Gertrude
has shewn ought to be reproved. It was (pray do not think me unkind) but
I am afraid I can call it nothing but a theft on her part."

_Hargrave_ (bursting into the conversation _nolens volens_).--"I beg
pardon, ladies, but I must say Miss Gertrude has hacted in a manner
surprisingly delightful. Them 'orrifying hannimals 'as destroyed 'eaps
of our best dresses and millineries; and hif Miss could but 'ave tossed
their best suits hoverboard my mind would be hat rest, and my 'eart
heased."

So Gatty got applauded on all sides, for Madame was reminded if it had
not been for her thieving propensities she would never have had the nice
quantities of warm water we could now heat for her bath. Therefore she
pocketed her principles at the shrine of her baths, at least to a
certain extent.



CHAPTER XXXII.


Quiet prevailed, lessons predominated, we were all getting very stupid
again. Schillie was very much subdued after her sojourn with the
pirates, and took to following me everywhere, as the faithful dog
follows his master. Also, she was very amenable to all my wishes and
worked like a horse in the gardens and potatoe grounds, because I
thought we had better lay in great stores of food, for fear the pirates
should come again. Besides this work, we plaited grass into ropes, and
made a ladder or two, with which we practised running up and down into
the cavern from the opening at the top. It was something to do, and
might be useful. The children were like cats at last, and used to
frighten me out of my wits by their feats of agility.

So many of our clothes had been destroyed that it became necessary to do
something towards replacing them; and, after various attempts, Schillie
and I constructed two rude weaving machines, in which, with hard work,
we made a coarse kind of cloth. This was dyed any colour we fancied, and
then made into a long loose dress, with hanging sleeves, capable of
being tucked up, and a broad belt to confine them round the waist. We
found them very convenient and cool, only it was incessant work,
spinning, weaving, and making them. We certainly did not eat the bread
of idleness, and many a day's holiday was asked from Madame, only to
work the poor girls harder at spinning, weaving, or gardening. But they
enjoyed it, and grew like palm trees, looking so pretty and lively, that
it was quite a sight to look at them: Sybil fair as a lily, and bright
as a rose; Gatty glowing like the bright hibiscus; the pale and graceful
Serena, faultless in form and action; while the little ones seemed to be
growing up into what the elder girls had been when we first landed on
the island.

The rainy season came and went. God blessed us in our house and field,
and in the hearts content that filled every mind.

Intuitively we all seemed to feel that a good time was coming for us,
and we prepared for the fine weather with fresh energies and renewed
hopes, not unmixed with the notion that we should have dangers and
difficulties to encounter, ere we should be finally restored to all we
loved.

We encouraged each other in every way. We relied on some of our letters
reaching their proper destination, we assured each other that another
six months would not pass without our friends coming to look for us.

We made every preparation, stores of food for a full year were stowed
away in the cavern. We concocted a kitchen, from whence the smoke could
never betray us, and we sat down in patient expectation, and full trust
in our Almighty Father, that should the pirates come again we were quite
prepared; therefore, without fear, though with a little palpitation of
heart, we received the news one brilliant morning that a sail was to be
seen on the horizon.

It came nearer and nearer and yet kept off the island. We might have
thought, for a time, that perchance it was our friends, but one after
another allowed the mournful fact to escape from our lips, that it was
indeed the pirates' vessel.

Supposing us to be inexperienced in vessels, and not likely to know one
again, after seeing it once, we imagined they kept dodging on and off
the island to deceive us, and that they would do this until dark, and
then landing as best they might, they would thus take us by surprise.
They little knew how sharp was the watch we kept, as much prompted by
affection as fear.

But we understood their manœuvres very well, and were quite prepared.
We had long ceased to need the Cartref Pellenig entrance, letting
everything down by the aperture above, where the rock and brushwood
would tell no tales of our footsteps. We had made some more places of
observation, and we went to rest that night feeling prepared for
everything. It happened as we expected. The whole island seemed alive
with pirates as the sun arose. We had taken care to leave their works of
destruction as much like what they had left them as possible. They spent
a whole week in diligently searching the island, yet were no restraint
upon us whatever. We had our shower baths, and even our exercise up and
down the rope ladders, peeping out upon them from the top, for we had
smoothed the sides of the cliff so well, there was not a place for a cat
to get up, and besides it seeming only to be bare rock and brushwood,
they thought they saw all over it without deeming that anything could be
hidden down in it.

We got rather rash, they got very vexed, we were delighted, they were
disappointed. At last at the end of ten days, they began to unload the
vessel. Now! thought we, "what is going to happen, surely they are not
going to stay here." Our ill-timed hilarity received a sudden check, for
our fears were confirmed, they unloaded the vessel completely, and after
ballasting her with sand and shingle, they set sail, and departed. But
alas! for us they left ten of their people behind them, who commenced to
our horror and disgust building a house very near Cartref Pellenig, but
so placed that they could look down the cliffs and over the sea. By this
arrangement we had certainly one-half of the island entirely to
ourselves, and as they were extremely busy, evidently trying to get
their house completed ere the second rains came on, and as what time
they had to spare they spent entirely in carousing and sleeping, we ran
little danger of being discovered, though out for hours together. One
precaution we took which was always to have a watcher on their
movements, and never to leave the cavern, without settling where we were
to be found in case of warning. Also they seemed quite to have made up
their own minds that they were the sole inhabitants of the island.
Little dreaming what a home she gave in her friendly bosom to the weak
and helpless, and how many eyes watched their every movement.

We gathered the fruits of roots, enjoyed the turtle, collected eggs, and
accustomed our hens to lay in the cavern, giving them a remote egress,
through which nothing but fowls could get. We were not therefore in
danger of starving, supposing they did take up their abode on the island
with us. So we sat down on the carpet of contentment.

During the ensuing wet weather we saw nothing of our visitors, and we
beguiled the time with writing stories and romances, and reciting them
in the evening while we knitted, spun, and weaved. Part of the girls'
lessons consisted in learning French Plays by heart, and Schillie and I
as spectators saw more than poor Madame, who innocently left them to
select their own lessons. Sometimes they would repeat the same lessons
three days running, making grimaces at us to say nothing. Sometimes
Gatty managed so to arrange it, that, during four or five long pages of
dialogue, all she had to say was, "_Et Tartuffe_" "_Le Pauvre-homme_"
two or three times, and then she received the good jeton necessary for
such a long lesson.

_Schillie._--"You will be hanged some day, Miss Gatty, if you go on in
this deceptious manner."

_Gatty._--"Oh, Sib likes the fun, and Serena is so fond of languages,
she does not care how much she says, provided it is not in her mother
tongue, and I love them both so much, I always like to oblige them."

_Schillie._--"I dare say you do, you young sinner. Now see if I don't
expose you to Madame, and then in addition to the crime of stealing, you
will have fibbing added."

_Gatty._--"I am quite ready to go and restore the kettle and other
things, if you like it, little Mother. Perhaps you would not mind coming
with me to do this act of justice."

_Schillie._--"Mention such a thing again, and see how I will punch you,
Miss, just as if I would walk one yard nearer those wretches, than the
horrid narrow limits of this island oblige me. No, if they were dying by
inches for want of their kettle I would not stir one step to give it
them."

_Serena._--"How severe you are upon them, little Mother, I hate the sight
of them, but I don't think I could see them starve."

_Sybil._--"Indeed I should not care what became of them, or what fate
happened to them so that they were all dead."

_Gatty._--"There, Madame, there, hear what your pattern of gentleness
and goodness says. Don't talk to me any more about being more like a boy
than a girl. Here Syb declares she would like to see the pirates roasted
alive."

_Sybil._--"Now, Gatty, how can you?"

_Gatty._--"You said you did not care what became of them; perhaps flayed
alive will suit you better."

_Sybil._--"Horrid girl, how you make me shudder."

_Madame._--"I feel perfectly correct in saying, Gertrude, that you are
merely giving voice to your own ideas, and not to my gentle Sybil's."

_Sybil._--"Then, dear Madame, I must undeceive you, for, when I look at
Serena, I don't think I should care whether they were roasted or not."

_Madame._--"My child, my dear child, since when have you adopted these
notions, so foreign to your mild nature?"

_Sybil._--"I don't know, indeed, Madame; but I am ready to fire off a
gun if it is necessary to drive them away."

_Madame._--"You see, Madam, what an effect it has had upon our household
already, the visit of these pirates."

_Mother._--"Then, Madame, we must hope no worse effects will ensue. At
present I admire Sybil's spirit and energy, and think she wanted but
that to make her almost what you think her, perfection."

_Gatty._--"I don't like the change at all. Nothing I can do to her now
frightens her. I found the most frightful old bloated toad yesterday,
and put it on her fat white arm, saying 'there's a pirate for you, Syb,'
and, would you believe it, she neither shrieked or screamed, but said
quite savagely, 'I only wish it was, and that I could make away with him
as quickly as I could this poor toad.' It is quite provoking, all my fun
is gone."

_Oscar._--"Perhaps, aunt Sib, you won't mind learning to fire a gun
now."

_Sybil._--"Not at all, dear boy, but (adding quickly) you know we must
not shoot at present for fear of discovering ourselves."

_Felix._--"Oh, she's a coward yet, she most certainly is."

_Lilly._--"She was no coward when she went to the ship that dark night,
boy" (indignantly).

_Zoë._--"I am sure she is as brave as any of us when occasion requires"
(more indignantly).

_Winny._--"Yes, indeed, all her stories are full of brave people, and
they are such pretty stories."

_Schillie._--"Well, children, don't let us have any more of this mawkish
dispute. Aunt Sib is agreed to be nearly perfection by you all, and when
I see her looking steadily at a spider without a wink I'll think her so
too. It is lucky she has turned out so brave, as we may want her
services, and I trust you will all follow her worthy example. I intend
organizing an army, and making myself field-marshal thereof; and if you
make good soldiers, and obey the word of command, I'll tell you the
story of the little jack-daws."

The house the men built, which we called Pirate Hall, was magnificent
compared to our poor dear Cartref Pellenig, and was made with such
rapidity, speed, and neatness, our clerk of the works fell into fits of
envy and jealousy. We had visited it very often without being
discovered; but the children, from sheer mischief, used to carry off
things of all kinds back to our cavern, and we were unable to prevent
them, as they almost considered it an act of duty to do so. I would not
let them go; besides, we might have been discovered, as, through the
loss of different things in such a strange manner, they must suspect
some other people were on the island. Schillie, Madame, and I had many
private conversations regarding these pirates and their settling on the
island; for we were not so hopeful as to think if they settled here
permanently we could always escape notice. Some inadvertence on our
part, some chance on theirs, an earthquake, any of these things might
discover us.

Schillie imagined, from the peculiar way in which Pirate Hall was built,
they meant to use it as a storehouse, and that probably the vessel would
return, take off the ten men, now our neighbours, and only visit the
island when they had to store away their ill-gotten gains, or from bad
weather. I agreed with her, and further added, that probably the old
house had been built for the same purpose, but that their rendezvous
had been disturbed by the extraordinary snake which had been so nearly
fatal to us. Now that it was dead they were again making use of the
island, and we must be prepared for this and any other disagreeable
occurrence that their proximity to us would cause.

Madame hoped that if they really took permanent possession of the
island, we might in some manner contrive to quit it, either through
their ships and boats, or from my brother's ship, which we knew had been
stationed on the South American Coast, for the purpose of exterminating
the pirates, and discovering their hordes. And if he ever pursued one,
in endeavouring to reach this island, he might be led on after them, and
so discover us.

I doubted their permitting so safe and convenient a spot being
discovered. However time would show, and without any event occurring,
that could be interesting to others than ourselves, time brought the
pirate's vessel back again. Henceforward its visits were at all times
and all hours, never staying above a day when it did come, then all
hands worked hard to unload and refit again. Sometimes everybody went in
it. Sometimes two or three remained behind. And it was on one of these
occasions we had a most dreadful fright. Hearing a noise amongst the
brushwood at the top of the cavern, we found out in a minute, one or all
of the pirates were up there. Almost before the thought rushed through
us, there was a crash, a whizzing through the air, and the large heavy
body of one of the men fell into the midst of us, and lay there a
shapeless bloody mass. Voices were immediately heard, calling to the
man, and cautioning each other to beware. We heard the axe cutting away
the brushwood, which fell in the cavern amongst us, and fancied faces
were peeping down upon us, to see what had occurred to their companion.
We stood and sat motionless. They called to him, and speculated on his
fate, and wondered that they heard nothing from him. What should we do,
if they discovered our ladders. It seemed however that they were too
much alarmed at the unknown fate of their companion, to hazard their
lives in search of him, but left the place, saying something about ropes
and a further search.

And now what were we do? Here we were with the great body of a pirate in
the midst of us, who, though dead, inspired us with almost as much
horror and terror, as if alive. What could we do with the crushed and
horrid remains. This seemed to oppress us the most, and in thinking who
was to touch and move it, we lost sight of the danger we incurred from
the other pirates coming back to look for the body.

_Mother._--"Well! Schillie, what must we do?"

_Schillie._--"I shall not touch the beast!"

_Madame._--"The sight is frightful, I really must retire."

The three girls hung aloof, the little ones had hidden themselves out of
sight. Though I said nothing, I looked at Hargrave and Jenny.

_Hargrave_ (very mysteriously).--"I hassure you, Ma'am, I am not
haccustomed, that is, Ma'am, it is no business of mine. I ham not in the
'abits of touching corpses and hexcuse me, Ma'am, this is so very--oh
dear me whathever 'as come hover me. I shall faint, I know."

_Jenny_ (very pale and _resolute_).--"I think, Ma'am, if I rolled it up
in a sheet, we might drag it between us to some distant cavern, and bury
it in the sand."

_Oscar._--"No, Jenny, we must cut him in pieces, and carry him out bit by
bit into the sea."

_Felix._--"Yes, here is his own saw, that I took away the last time we
were at his house. He is only a pirate, Jenny, and quite dead; so, saw
away!"

_Jenny._--"Oh, Master Felix, I did not think you had the heart to be so
cruel."

_Oscar._--"Cruel! don't be absurd, Jenny. You don't care a bit for
cutting off the heads of the chickens so why should you mind cutting up
this great brute."

_Jenny._--"Oh! Sir, you really must excuse me, I cannot do it, even to
please you."

Our dilemma was really growing most painful. "Can one bury him here, as
he is, without touching him?" said I. "Oh no, Mother," said Oscar. "We
could never endure the place knowing this body was buried in it.
Besides, see where he has fallen just where we dine. At all events, if
you will none of you touch him, and he must be buried here, let us seek
another cavern to live in, one nearer the waterfall."

"Shall we follow Otty's advice," said I to the others, "it seems the
only thing we can do, but it is horrible."

"Cover up those unsightly remains, and let us begone," said Schillie,
"the place is getting horrible even now."

We ran for every sort of thing we could find to shovel the sand over
him, and though very soon out of sight, we worked harder and harder, as
if the more sand we put over him, the more we drove from us the horrible
sight. We then recollected the ladders, and Gatty and Serena ran up, and
let them down, and then swung themselves down by a rope, which we
fastened at the side of the cavern, in such a manner as to be hardly
apparent, and certainly of no use.

For a full hour after we had done, the children were throwing more sand
on the great Tumulus now before us, while we moved as many of our things
as we could to another cavern, smaller, less convenient, and darker. We
were so busy, that we forgot the pirates might come back, and were
therefore electrified at the sound of their voices above. They called
once or twice to the dead man, now buried many feet in sand, and of
course receiving no answer, we found they were preparing to let a man
down.

"Oh! Mother," said Oscar, "let us stone him well as he comes down, and
that will frighten him." "And let us hiss like snakes," said Felix,
"and he'll think he has got into a nest of big snakes." "Capital," said
Gatty, "it will be glorious fun." "No, we must shoot him," said
Schillie. "No, no, little Mother, do let us stone him, and hiss him
out," said all the little ones, and they ran to collect stones.

"Indeed, Schillie, I think the children's idea a very good one. If he is
well stoned he won't come down, and if we hiss they will certainly think
us snakes and, being already fearful about them, who knows but the fear
of their being in the caverns of the island may drive them all away."

_Schillie._--"Did ever any one hear of anything so silly. As if a man
with an ounce of brains would be taken in by such a child's trick as
this."

_Oscar._--"Then keep the guns ready, cousin, and you and I will have a
shot at him if necessary."

"Agreed," said she. "Now make haste, every one hide in different
corners; he is coming down."

Most of this conversation was, of course, in whispers. Gatty was to give
the signal for the stoning operations by her most accomplished hiss.

A sudden burst of daylight; he was cutting the brushwood away to
investigate as far as he could before descending. We were all like
silent mice. Three hairy faces peered down. We shivered, and picked up
the biggest stones. Now then he is coming, they say all right in
Spanish, and he requests they will let him down very slowly. Now we see
his legs, now his body, now the whole of him. Why does not Gatty give
the signal? Lower and lower, I must hiss in a minute if she does not; at
last he is fairly half way down. A great hiss, a perfect hurricane of
hisses ensues, and a shower of stones aimed with such right goodwill
that the man roared again. In their start and alarm above they had let
him slip down suddenly a few feet, but his violent cries and entreaties
to be drawn up were quickly attended to, and, amidst incessant hitting,
and such a volley of stones that I do not think one inch of his body
escaped a bruise, he disappeared from our sight.

We heard him groaning and moaning above, while the others questioned
him. He was too much stunned however to say anything as far as we could
make it out, and presently we found they were lowering him down from the
cliffs near Cartref Pellenig, as the easiest way of getting him home.

From our peep-holes we had the satisfaction of seeing our enemy in a
deplorable state, and apparently insensible, which Gatty averred was her
performance, as she aimed particularly at his head.

As Madame observed, a most unladylike proceeding!



CHAPTER XXXIII.


We were some time in learning what effect our stratagem had had upon the
pirates. On our parts we were delighted at the scheme succeeding so
wonderfully, and dubbed the hero of it "The Knight of the Descending
Ladder." They kept very close, and we saw but little of them until the
ship returned. Then, indeed, there was a great row, and we saw the
unfortunate "Knight" brought out on a sort of board, apparently to tell
his tale, which must have been very wonderful to judge by their
amazement. He seemed very ill indeed, and while some of us expressed a
little sorrow for him, there were a few who wondered how he dare be
still alive after their incredible exertions to kill him.

Schillie declared she had a great contempt now for the pirates, since
they had been deceived and frightened by such children's play, and began
to speculate upon getting rid of them all by degrees through working on
their fears, and a sparing use of the gun.

_Mother._--"Nothing surprises me so much as the change in your
character. Formerly you scolded me for even killing a wasp (that
allowed enemy to man and fruit), and yet now you coolly talk of shooting
pirates as if it was a common morning's amusement."

_Schillie._--"I shall not be happy as long as these wretches remain,
especially as it only requires an earthquake to expose us to view. And
now that they have got some notion (fools as they are) that the island
is not without its dangers, we may as well follow it up, and, whoever
they leave behind this time we must take care they never see again."

_Mother._--"What! you mean to kill and bury them before the others
return. I think it a very good plan, and it will effectually frighten
them away if they come back two or three times, and on each return find
those they have left here gone, without a trace of their disappearance.
But I can never persuade myself that there is one amongst our party who
can deliberately go and shoot a man in cold blood who has never done
them any harm."

_Schillie._--"Pooh! pooh! just put yourself into their power for a day,
and I'll be bound you come back quite ready to do anything to get rid of
them. Such a set of wretches I never saw."

_Jenny_ (smiling and smirking to me).--"And yet, Ma'am, they thought so
much of Mrs. E. that time we were with them. The captain could not take
his eyes off her."

We all laughed heartily at this, and congratulated Schillie on her
conquest, while I added that I could easily perceive now why she was
irritated against the pirates.

This put her into a great fit of the sulks, and I do not know with whom
she would not have quarrelled if our conversation had not been put an
end to by Oscar and Felix.

_Oscar._--"Oh Mother, they are unloading the ship, and they have got
some prisoners."

_Felix._--"And, oh Mother, one poor prisoner is so wounded he is lame."

_Oscar._--"And, Mother, we saw them bound, carried out of the boat."

_Felix._--"And, oh Mother, they beat their poor prisoners, and one is
lame."

_Oscar._--"And, Mother, they are driving them up to Pirate Hall, and,
Mother, we must----"

_Felix._--"Oh Mother, we must----"

_Oscar._--"Yes, yes, we must----"

_Felix._--"Oh Mother, say yes, say yes."

_Gatty._--"Release them! of course, glorious boys, we will. Have I not
often released you two when playing at 'Prisoners base.'"

_Sybil._--"Poor, poor fellows, we must try to help them."

_Mother._--"This is news indeed! and I quite agree with all your
feelings. But, children, you must let us think. Imagine what dangers you
run."

_Oscar._--"But, Mother, the poor prisoners!"

_Felix._--"And, oh Mother, perhaps they will eat them, as Friday was
going to be eaten."

_Gatty._--"Pray, pray, do let us try to release them."

_Sybil._--"Once they were safe in here we could soon make them well."

_Serena._--"And then, being men, they will help us to fight against the
pirates, and kill them all."

_Mother._--"That will be very nice indeed. Schillie, these prisoners
seem just sent in the nick of time to do the work I doubted our
accomplishing."

_Schillie._--"I think you and the children all a little cracked
together, and have no doubt you will instantly march out in a body, give
battle, and return victorious, carrying the prisoners in triumph, and
decorated with the bloody heads of your enemies."

_Gatty._--"You don't mean to say, little Mother, you would not help to
get those two poor prisoners out of the murderous hands of these
pirates?"

_Felix._--"And one quite lame!"

_Oscar._--"And perhaps they will eat them up."

_Schillie._--"Pooh! pooh! brats, don't set up such a howling. Who said I
was not ready to go to the rescue? Am I not your commander-in-chief? and
are you not bound to obey your general? I only beg simply for the same
grace your Mother asked for, namely, a little thought to settle our
plans."

_Madame._--"Oh, my dear Mrs. E., I had hoped from your knowledge of the
world, and general good sense, that you would have calmed the young
people's excited minds. Consider what risks we should run in releasing
these people, and the inconvenience of having strangers and men attached
to our party, living in the strange way we do."

_Schillie._--"Madame, I consider but one thing; these two poor men are
in the hands of the pirates and, rescued from their jaws they shall be,
if I can do it."

Such a clapping of hands, and shouts of approbation arose on this speech
that I was in mortal fear lest we should be heard.

Leaving the girls and children to argue the point with Madame, who had
only Hargrave on her side, Schillie and I retired to talk over the
matter, for it was really too grave a subject to be discussed with the
same publicity that every other thing underwent in our community.

And it did require great deliberation, for, after all, it was a mad
thing, a parcel of weak women and children thinking they could out-do
thirty-two ruffian pirates. To be sure we had some great advantages,
but, after all, what we should lose in the event of this act of
philanthropy failing was everything, and for two strangers! who might
turn out to be what Schillie called very uncomfortable people. And,
besides, we had every prospect before us of out-witting the pirates, and
finally getting rid of them. I own I began to be dubious, but my
companion was firm, and wound-up by saying, "Mind I expect a solemn
promise if we fail that you put a pistol to my head rather than let me
fall into the hands of that fellow." I smiled maliciously, saying, "What
the King of the Pirates?" "King of Horrors," said she, "don't forget
now." "Then Jenny's story was true about his admiration of you,"
returned I. "Jenny's a goose, and you are another. If you mention him
again I'll leave you, and go and settle in another part of the island."

In settling our plans for the release of the prisoners we were very much
fettered by not being able to let them know what schemes we were making
for their benefit. Also of what language and nation they were.

So it was agreed, greatly to the little boys' disgust, that we must try
some experiments to make them know they had friends on the island. They
declared that if we lost so much time they might both be eaten up before
they could rescue them, and that it ought to be tried to-night. Not
being so alarmed as the boys about the eating part of the business, the
commander-in-chief merely ordered out a couple of scouts, who, from
their practical knowledge of the country, knew the best places to drop
little bits of paper, on which was written in English the following
Notice:--

"If the prisoners would like to hear of something to their advantage,
let them burn a light some night when communication can be
uninterrupted and convenient, and to shew that they and only they have
got this notice, let them tie something white round each arm."

We wrote in English, because we knew that the pirates understood French.

Gatty and Jenny were the two scouts, and we were very uneasy until they
returned, which they did after two hours absence in the night. We
diligently watched all that day, but saw no signs of the white mark on
the prisoners' arms, though one was kept working hard in the very course
where some of the billet doux were placed. The other we supposed was
ill, as he did not appear until evening, when supported by the one we
had seen all day. They retired together to a ledge of rocks by
themselves, and seemed to hold earnest communion. One wrung his hands
and seemed in the greatest grief, which made the children half-wild to
get at them, to whisper comfort and release. Three days passed and no
white sign, though every day they sat in the evening by themselves in
this spot, and always secured in the utmost sorrow. We agreed we must
put a billet doux there, if another day passed without the sign, though
it was dangerously near Pirate Hall. In the meantime they were
villainously used and ill-treated by the pirates, besides very hardly
worked, so that they sometimes staggered and fell down from the weights
they had to carry. Our indignation was great, and, like an impatient
army as we were, we implored the commander in chief to give the word of
march. We longed to hear him say "Up, guards, and at them." But that
very evening surely we saw the white sign. It was true, indeed; how
pleased we were. And then the delightful hope that they must be English
was nearly confirmed, and showed how all our secret hopes and wishes had
been in unison. This added to our zest in a wonderful manner. But now
such a row, everybody wanted to go to the rescue, and it became a matter
of difficulty to quell the military ardour of the army.

It was arranged that Schillie was to go first, with a rope in her hand,
I was to follow holding the end of hers and the beginning of another,
Oscar ditto, Jenny ditto, Gatty, Serena, Felix, Sybil, Zoë, Madame,
Winny, Lilly, Hargrave the last. So that we were all linked together,
and had a regular chain of communication. Any danger in front was
indicated by pull of the ropes. And then it was to be "_Sauve qui
pent_." Thus the whole army was employed, and we were not likely to lose
our way home, as the line extended so far that Hargrave would be close
at home. The only risk we ran was, that, to enable us to perform this
manœuvre, we had to go out at the Cartref Pellenig entrance, which we
had in consequence to pull down and open for the first time in four
months. However, we trusted to our good cause, and the fact that the
entrance was at all times difficult to find, and would not take half an
hour to put to rights again. But this notable plan was to depend in a
great measure whereabouts the signal light would be placed.

When it was quite dark, we looked out with beating hearts. No light. We
watched and waited half an hour; suddenly a light shone for a minute or
so, and then darkness again. "That must certainly be a signal," said we,
"however, we will wait another half hour." In less than half an hour,
again a light shone for only a few minutes, and, as far as we could
judge, just in the usual spot where they went every evening to talk by
themselves. In fact, the spot where the before-mentioned manœuvre of
our great army was to be executed. So we rushed up the caverns in a most
disorderly manner, and were all ready to obey the word of command in
less than ten minutes at the Cartref Pellenig entrance. To our honour be
it spoken, as an army composed of so many females, not a word was
spoken, and we emerged from the entrance as noiselessly as bats out of
an old chimney.

Cautiously we proceeded, keeping close to the rock, so as to feel our
way, but had to pass dangerously near Pirate Hall. We could hear them
snoring in sleep; but there were watchers also, for they were talking
noisily in one of the rooms. Now we must pause a moment, in hopes the
light will again shine, and also to still our hearts, if possible, they
are beating so loud. Five minutes passed, Schillie was then going slowly
on, when her rope jumped with a start, so did mine, so I suppose did
all the others, and I was sure I recognised the faintest little scream
from Madame. The light shone out all of a sudden, not ten yards from us;
it was that which made us start so. We noted the two men distinctly,
and, waiting until the light was out again, we then advanced, and
Schillie touching one and I the other, we took hold of some hard horny
hands, and made the signal by shaking the ropes to return.

Back we went, in rather a hurry-scurry I must allow. As everybody got
into the cavern, the others came rushing in quicker and quicker;
Schillie and I alone kept a stately march, holding the hard horny hands,
not a word passing between the delivered and the deliverers; but if
gratitude could be expressed by a grasp, it was done by the hand I held
in mine. I had the lame prisoner, and while the hand trembled in mine
like the hand of a timid woman, I felt his hairy mouth touching it, and
the other hand trying in a gentle but earnest manner to feel the arm and
as much of me as he could. He seemed to shake like an aspen leaf, and
almost choked with suppressed emotion. But we are nearer, Gatty is in,
Jenny, Oscar, the General slipped by me, and unhandsomely got in first.
Now we were all safe. Jenny, Hargrave, and the girls flew for the
torches to do up the entrance again. We silently led the rescued
prisoners to a little cavern, which was somewhat remote from the others.

Madame brought us a torch, and with acknowledged curiosity we proceeded
to examine what were now our prisoners. Two great hairy men. Why did we
start? A deep groan, and an English "God be thanked" burst from the lips
of one as he fell senseless to the ground. The other rushed to the boys
with vehement gesture, and catching both in his arms, uttered a shout
that made the cavern ring again. "Oh, Smart, Smart," said they, "our
dear, dear Tom Smart, is it really you? are you come back for us? are
you alive?"

Could this be real? It was indeed too true. The prisoners about whom we
had been so anxious, the poor fellows we had so intuitively been
interested in, and determined to risk our lives to save, were no other
than our dear lamented captain and equally beloved Smart. Surely we
could now tell why, from the first, we had been so anxious about them.
There yet remained a trace in their sadly-altered appearance of
something we had loved and lost. But the news spread like lightning, the
entrance was left to its fate, every one flocked with their own eyes to
behold that it was really true. The little ones flew into Smart's arms,
and kissed his great face, and welcomed him as a father. The dear
captain still remains insensible on the ground. We poured water over
him, we chafed his hands, we called him by every tender name, but his
insensibility remained deep and profound. It was necessary that
something should check our joy, otherwise we should have been too elated
for safety and prudence.

Two of us watched by the captain, and the others, accompanied by the
not-to-be-lost-sight-of Smart, went to fill up the entrance. It was now
daylight, and in this little instance we saw what it was to have our
dear Smart back again. In ten minutes he secured the entrance far more
safely than we could do in an hour; and all being now right, we
adjourned to our breakfasts, though it was only to ask questions and
give answers, for nobody could eat; but his important communications
must be kept for another chapter.



CHAPTER XXXIV.


With a little girl on each knee, Felix hanging with arms round his neck,
Oscar sitting into his pocket, and we all ranged in a circle before him,
we forgot the pirates, we forgot everything but the present moment. We
almost fancied ourselves once more at home; and thus we sat for hours,
heedless of meals and dangers, listening to and retailing again all that
had occurred since our sad and fatal parting.

The only interruptions were our occasional visits to the dear captain,
whose insensibility had given place to an attack of fever and delirium,
through which Madame had engaged to bring him, if we left her in peace
and quiet to fulfil her own prescriptions. We could not avoid, however,
spite our deep interest in all Smart said, running to enquire every ten
minutes if he was better. And painful was it to hear his broken
exclamations, his cries after us, the mournful repetition of each little
pet name, his agonies for their fancied danger, his remorse and sorrow
choking the prayers and petitions he mixed with all he said. Dear kind
captain, if all you said in your delirium had been running through your
brain once you had parted from us, no wonder that it had at last given
way, and that you now lay before us a wreck of what you once were, a
broken-down, miserable-looking, white-headed man. But now for Smart's
story, which I think it best to give in his own words, as well as how we
questioned it all out of him.

_Felix._--"Ah, Tommy, dear Tommy, how could you run away and leave us in
that bad manner?"

_Oscar._--"Yes, Smart, I don't think we have ever been happy since,
until to-day."

_Smart_ (blowing his nose and wiping his eyes).--"My dear young 'squire,
my darling Mr. Felix, was it not the mistress's orders? But I will never
leave you again, no, not if I am pounded to death by those scums of the
earth, and live to see them rewarded for their trouble."

_The three little girls_ (all in piteous voices).--"And could they hurt
you, dear Smart, so good and kind as you are, and our darling captain?
Oh, make haste, make haste, and tell us all about it."

_Smart._--"I will make every haste, dear young ladies, but I don't
rightly know where to begin. The sight of all your beautiful faces and
my young gentlemen grown into men, and looking so proud and handsome,
makes me in a manner beside myself; and me and the old captain was but
a-saying last night no longer could we bear the trouble, but must do
ourselves a mischief."

_Felix._--"You, a mischief! No, no, Smart, you were always a very good
boy. It's only me was a mischief."

_Smart._--"You are a very fine young gentleman, and be growed; dear me,
Sir, how you be growed. I would not a known you but for them eyes, and
that bit of mischief they have in them. Give me leave, Ma'am, just to
take one good look of you all. My heart, how the young ladies have
sprung up, like lilies on a stalk. Miss Gatty no doubt as free as ever,
only quite a woman; and you, Ma'am, be a sight stouter. Oh, what a sight
this is. Little did we think, ould captain and I, when we seed this
onlucky island agin, little did we think as you was still here. When
they brought us up out of the hold, I knowed the spot in a minute. Says
I to the cap'in, 'Not content with murdering us they mean to cut our
hearts in two. Here's the very blessed place as I saw them all last time
as ever I laid eyes on them.' With that he gave a great shout and has
never rightly been himself since. And, truly, with my own heart nigh
bursting, his'n was a mighty heavy one to bear up. Spite of all our hard
work, we did our best to examine every spot to find traces of you, and
we came to the notion, as you were all gone, through good whiles,
maybees safe, unknowst of our fate, maybees dead; any way, we thought
you had escaped our sad hap."

_Schillie._--"But, Smart, that's the end of your story, begin at the
beginning."

_Smart._--"Where's that, Ma'am? I know neither beginning or end of
anything since that unlucky morn we slipped away."

_Schillie._--"Where did you go to then?"

_Smart._--"Why we sailed away some few days; the vessel was but a cockle
on the water, she was so light, so that we were noways comfortable in
the matter of steadiness and good walking ground. Anyways, however, we
had plenty to do spelling at the pumps, and so we went on, I won't say
with hearts as light as the vessel, until a shot struck the big stick as
stands in the middle of the ship. Well, we looked about, and saw an
evil-disposed, black-looking, hang-dog of a vessel, that sent shot upon
shot into us. Well, the smell of powder did me good, and we gave it them
back right well with them two brass guns, Master. I beg your pardon,
Sir, you being so growed, Mr. Oscar. And so we should ha' gone on
peppering them to this minute, until they were all dead or gave in, had
it not been for them same guns getting so hot, they were next to no use
at all. Howsumdever, when they came aboord, we gave it them in a manner
as some will carry to their dying day. And though that never mended the
matter, it's a poor heart that does not rejoice over something, and that
something was the settling of a round dozen of them rascally pirates by
my own hand."

_The boys_ (together).--"Twelve pirates! Did you really kill twelve?"

_Smart._--"Kill or drown 'em, you may reckon on that, Sirs, and many
more would I have served out in like manner, but four great brutes came
behind me, and cracked my skull to that degree as neither sight to my
eyes or sense to my tongue came for a length of weeks. And, maybe, but
for the good old captain, it's in heaven only (if God in his goodness
will grant me to go there) that I ever thought to see your sweet faces
again."

_Lilly._--"Now, dear Smart, go on."

_Smart._--"Yes, Miss Lilly, but what a head o' hair you have, my pretty
young lady; why here are curls enough to hang a score of pirates, but
never a hair shall go near them, mark my words. They shall hew me into
mince-meat ere they look on the sight that makes me strong as lions."

_Lilly._--"But go on, dear Smart."

_Smart._--"The breadth and length of them shall pass over my body ere
they touch even Mrs. Hargrave. My heart sings with joy. I feel as a
giant refreshed, now I know thee to be all safe and well, and growed so
beautiful. I wants nothing, I cares for nothing. It's enough that I see
you once more."

_All the little girls and boys._--"But, dear Smart, go on. What did the
pirates do to you?"

_Smart._--"They did that to me as I never thought living man would do.
They marked my back with stripes, but I never felt them, for the wound
in my heart. They worked me worse than any horse; yet I was glad to be
druv from my thoughts. And when I would fall from weakness, want, and
hard treatment, I would sink with pleasure, trusting my time was come,
and that they would have nothing but senseless clay to kick.
Howsumdever, God has been good to me. May I never forget this hour. All
things will prosper now. The good time is coming, and the worst is over.
Could we but build a bridge now to bonnie ould England, I would desire
nothing else in this world, save one good fight with those d----. I
humbly beg pardon, ladies, but excuse poor Smart, he has almost forgot
his manners in the bad company he has been keeping."

_The boys._--"Never mind, Smart, we will help you to kill them. Mother
and cousin Schillie were going to set about it as soon as ever the
pirate vessel was gone, and we were to help."

_Felix._--"And I was going to have a right and left shot, Tommy."

_Smart._--"And you would ha' settled 'em, I'll be bound, Sir. What a
stout fine fellow you be growed, Sir, and I hope as good too, and very
sensible too; and I dare say, Sir, quite the gentleman to the little
ladies."

_Felix_ (looking down).--"Yes, yes, I dare say, perhaps, Smart, but we
are not able to be ladies and gentlemen here you know. We are obliged to
be servants and everything, and Otty and I are the gamekeepers."

_Smart._--"Well, I do suppose, Sir, that does not prevent your behaving
in a civil like way to the little ladies."

_Felix._--"Oh yes, we are very civil to them when they are kind to us.
But once we could not have any fish, because Lilly would not give us one
of her curls to make lines."

_Smart._--"Oh, my heart alive, take one of these pretty curls to make
fishing lines? Indeed, Master Felix, I always thought you were very
oudacious, Sir, begging your pardon."

_Felix._--"But she had such a many of them, Smart."

_Mother._--"There you need say no more on that sore subject. You know
Lilly repented afterwards, and you ought to be ashamed of mentioning the
matter."

_Felix._--"But I must just tell Smart she did give us two at last, her
two longest and best; and, my stars, how angry Jenny was, I really
thought she would whip me."

_Jenny._--"Indeed, Sir, you was very aggravating. See how shocked Smart
is that ever you should have wanted or taken Miss Lilly's curls."

_Felix._--"Well, Smart, don't be angry, we will never do it any more,
only they did make such good lines, and Mama was nearly as vexed as
Jenny."

_Big and little girls._--"Now, Smart, go on."

_Smart._--"I ha' a'most done, ladies; them times is too shocking to
remember; but it's true gospel, as we all remained servants and slaves
to them----scums. They took the ship, and painted and fitted her out
until her own sister would not ha' known her. And they came and went
just as suited 'em, always a-leaving us with sum on 'em, and their
wives, and houses, and children, in a outlandish place, hot as the place
I trust they'll all go to."

_Oscar._--"Sailors and all, Benjie and Mr. ----"

_Smart._--"He, poor fellow, was done for at the first, and a good many
of the sailors were likewise done up and made away with, so that,
maybees, there was not six left on us. The cap'in and I have stuck to
each other through fair and foul, though it's precious little of the
former as has blessed our heads, and there be sum few yet remaining at
that place I was telling you was so hot."

_The Quixotic little girls and boys_ all exclaim, "Then we must go and
save them, especially Benjie."

_Smart._--"Hi, Benjie, he was doing very well, but, being a good decent
sort of chap, it's my wonder he never poisoned them----ramscallions
when cooking for them."

Smart always, when mentioning the pirates, seemed half choked in
preventing himself saying some word that he did not deem proper for our
ears. Sometimes it half slipped out, when he made an apologetical bow;
sometimes he swallowed it whole; but he always paused, as if to give
himself time to say it privately as a relief to his feelings.

But this conversation will be wearisome, so I will say no more than that
Smart imagines they were brought to this island to help to look after
the stores and gardens, and to be servants, the pirates not knowing the
important interest they had in the island, or that they had ever seen it
before. Also, that they intended to make it their regular colony, and by
degrees bring their whole establishment there; for the island was very
well known, and always shunned by vessels on account of the great
snake, whom it seemed impossible to destroy. This accounted for our
never seeing any vessels all this time; and the pirates would not have
ventured there had it not been for the storm we had thought so unlucky,
and which now seemed to be the crowning providence of our eventful
lives.

In the meantime, Smart was never tired in listening to the children's
tales, and whatever he was doing, he had the whole five clinging about
him.



CHAPTER XXXV.


Madame fulfilled her promise, and in a few days we had the inexpressible
satisfaction of sitting by the rude couch of the captain, and hearing
his broken exclamations of happiness and delight. It seemed sufficient
pleasure to him to watch us as we went about our various duties, and
smiles mixed with tears often covered his poor thin face as the little
ones vied with each other in nursing him. But he was too weak yet to
enter into much conversation, and his nurse was very careful not to let
him over-exert himself, for fear of a relapse. In fact, nature seemed to
speak for him, as in reply to our anxious queries whether we could do
anything for him, he would reply, "Nothing, nothing, but let me look at
you, God be praised."

In these few days of exquisite happiness we forgot all about the
pirates. Nobody watched them, nobody thought of them, though we have
reason to suppose that they made a diligent search for their prisoners,
and even persevered in it to the top of the large cavern. This we had
deserted for some time on account of the dead body, and we now lived in
the smaller ones lower down, one of which was so near the waterfall we
had nearly as much light as above, and also heard the murmuring sound of
the water in a very pleasing and cooling manner. Here, close by the
waterfall, the little ones led their dear captain, that he might inhale
as much of the fresh sea air as we could get, and from thence we, of
course, watched our enemies. They seemed very busy indeed, and it was no
small satisfaction to the children to watch them working so hard, and
pointing them out to Smart, saying, "See, dear Smart, you would have
been doing that if our great army had not come and saved you."

By degrees the captain told us a more coherent story than Smart had been
able to give us, and said within a fortnight of their leaving us they
were made prisoners by the pirates; that they dragged out lengthened
days of misery, want, and ill-usage, only held up by the knowledge that
our future deliverance depended upon their escape. And when time went
on, and he thought it was almost impossible such a helpless party of
women and children could survive and bear up under such an unhappy fate,
he was almost reduced to despair, and they were both determined to do
something desperate when they were put on board the pirates' vessel and
brought here. And when brought up on deck, and Smart's exclamation awoke
his mind to the fact that he was looking upon the lovely bay in which he
had left us with hopes of a speedy and happy return, his brain turned
with inward emotion, his heart seemed to turn to stone, he became a
moving body without soul or sense, save an eager looking for traces of
us.

These could, as we knew, be only so very faint they could leave no clue
to our destiny. The first ray of hope that shot through him was finding
one of our little notes, though, for some time, they thought it was but
the writing of ancient days, and not meant for them now. But when they
found another, and when the pirates picked more up, and turned them
round and round to make out their meaning, a conviction shot through
them they had some kind person interested in their fate on the island.
But they had some difficulty in managing about the light, as burning it
steady would have been forbidden by the pirates. A wild hope had now and
then crossed their minds, but had each time been driven away as
impossible, and it was not until they felt the soft smooth female hands
in that dark but happy night that they gave up their minds to hopeful
anticipations, mixed with some fears. How their fondest wishes were
realized almost in the first flash of the torch had been already
detailed, and while the weakened frame and overwrought mind of the
captain sunk under the weight of so much happiness the buoyant Smart
recovered his own character at once, and became all and everything he
had ever been to us, with a double portion of strength, energy, and
sense to assist and help us.

And now a fortnight had passed, and we found the pirates making great
preparations to sail. This they soon did, and, counting their members as
they went on board, we had the inexpressible happiness of finding that
not one was left behind. Once more we had our dear little island to
ourselves, and thoroughly did we enjoy the open air and brilliant
sunshine, for, with all thankfulness for their kind shelter, it must be
acknowledged the caverns were a little gloomy and musty. We wandered
over every well-known place, shewed our dear house, now such a ruin, and
expatiated upon all its beauties and conveniences, until the captain
declared it must have been the most perfect house in the world, while
Smart vowed he would settle a score of pirates for daring to burn it
down.

And now we found out what the pirates had been so busy about during the
last fortnight, namely, building a perfect village of huts at the old
house by the plantation. The captain shook his head as he mournfully
said, "the whole colony are coming to settle here," while Smart coolly
declared, "he was mighty glad thereat, as he would not die happy unless
he could settle 'em all, big and little." And forthwith persuaded
everybody but Madame and Hargrave to take to ball practice as he called
it, that the army might be ready in case of any emergency. We thought it
no harm to practice with our neighbours' goods, though we meant to turn
them against themselves. But Smart knew where their magazine was, and in
a most unprincipled manner we abstracted whatever we could that would
not be immediately discovered.

Smart, who always had had a secret admiration for Schillie's _sang
froid_ and man-like propensities, treated her as his favourite pupil;
and after she had hit the mark seventeen times running, held her up to
us as worthy of imitation.

_Smart._--"I used to always be a-telling our cap'in they'll do well if
they mind Mrs. E, she has the soul of a man and the wits of a king; and
it's my belief even if they hadna gotten us back, she'd a outwitted them
ere----rascallion divildims."

Nothing delighted the boys so much as to put Smart into a rage, talking
about the pirates. The dooms they were all to meet with, if once he got
them into his power, would have done for Foxe's book of Martyrs. But
much as we enjoyed this time we were not idle; we were making constant
preparations for the great struggle that must, we knew, inevitably take
place between us and the pirates. And, calculating that they would
arrive with their colony a short time before the wet weather, to get
settled in their houses before it commenced, we should have that time to
mature our plans, besides settling what had best be done.



CHAPTER XXXVI.


The sight of two sail in the horizon one evening prepared us for seeing
them in harbour the next day. But conceive our indignation when the
captain told us that the other dirty, dingy, ill-looking, black vessel
was no other than our darling La Luna. To be sure she had not lost her
elegant shape, but in every other respect she was so altered not one of
us knew her. The little girls sat down and cried like fishes (if they do
cry), and Madame helped to swell the stream by a copious flow of tears;
while the indignation of the elder girls vented itself in anathemas and
threats against the pirates, that showed they had profited pretty
considerably by Smart's conversation and opinions. We were now obliged
to take to our burrows, and watched, with immense wrath and disgust, the
debarkation of the female pirates from the pretty cabins and berths of
our La Luna.

In appearance and manners they matched the men, but we agreed amongst
ourselves, tall and fierce as they looked, we were not afraid of them,
and had no objection to "settle them," as Smart called it. There were
fifteen women and about eleven children, while the pirates themselves
now amounted to forty-five. Fearful odds against us. Nevertheless, the
courage and determination of the army rose higher and higher. They had
only just time to get themselves into their houses and huts, and the
ships into winter quarters; ere the bad weather commenced. How they
spent their time on the island we never enquired. It was enough that we
were very happy within her friendly bosom, indulging in all sorts of
merriment and fun, knowing they were a good way off, close prisoners
like ourselves. And while in the pretty, elegant, and spacious
drawing-room once before mentioned, so replete with luxury, beauty, and
every comfort, mourners still sat and thought of and wept for the
long-lost, the mysteriously-doomed members of that once happy family;
each kind face bearing the traces of the anxious fear and thoughts
months but added to and time could not heal: how looked the little party
in the coral caverns of the Pacific? We will look at them once more, ere
we take our leave of them for good. Lying on a rude grass couch is an
elderly lady, her hair snow-white, and covered with a cambric
handkerchief to serve as a cap; she is reading. Not far from her are two
servants, in long blue rough dresses; they seem preparing a meal. On the
other side of them is seated, on a rude bench, a weather-beaten
white-haired man; a pretty graceful girl of twelve is watching him
concocting a pair of shoes, and as they are for herself, she diligently
assists. A little sparkling bright face peeps behind, and mischievously
adorns the captain's head with Hargrave's sad remains of a cap, which she
always carefully puts aside when doing anything likely to hurt it. Not
far from them is the fine, tall, athletic frame of the keeper, both boys
intently watching him making fishing lines, they dressed in loose white
shirts, open in front, and full white trousers; the elder boy imitating
the art of making lines, the little one exciting his parrot to abstract
Smart's apparatus, as fast as he puts one thing down after another,
which leads to sundry threats on Smart's part that he will "settle" both
young Master and parrot if they are not quiet. As this "settling" never
takes place, of course the delinquents go on, even to abstracting all
the treasures out of Smart's pockets. But you can see by Smart's eye a
day of reckoning is coming for those two. There are no less than nine
parrots making more or less noise in the cavern, who have each a
different owner, and whose voices they distinguish with wonderful
sagacity, and hop, crawl, and climb in their quaint manner whenever they
are called.

Two little, quiet, serious-looking monkeys are busily watching the
preparations for dinner, appropriating what they can to themselves in so
secret and sly a manner that Hargrave is totally ignorant of the real
thieves, and accuses Jenny wrathfully of misplacing her things. Jenny
laughs and shows her pretty white teeth, enjoying the joke as much as we
do.

Three fine, tall, becoming girls, each above the middle size, one fair
and bright-looking as the sun, another graceful as the fawn with eyes
and mouth the perfection of sweet gentle beauty, and the last a sort of
female Smart, strong as a young elephant, with mouth like rosebuds,
teeth like almonds, and eyes so bright in their dark beauty you could
hardly gaze into them; such were the dear girls, a sight, as the captain
said, such as he only thought to see in heaven. They are grouped
together over two weaving machines, and while one is employed removing
the broken threads that invariably occur in our clumsy machines, the
other two throw the shuttle to and fro. Not with much diligence though
for that ever-mischievous Gatty throws one impediment after another in
their way, so that I foresee the two sisters will suddenly set upon her,
and there will be a regular scuffle.

And who is that lying her full length on the ground, the flushed cheek
resting on one hand, the violet eyes closed, and the knitted stocking
that requires finishing that day has fallen from the little listless
hand? Oh Lilly, Lilly, idle Lilly, here are you soundly sleeping, and
there is your parrot conceitedly thinking he can do the work of his lazy
little mistress, and in another minute it will be all destroyed. Wake
up, little sleeper, wake up, and collect those long curls floating like
a raven curtain about you. Think what Madame will say if she catches but
a glimpse of you. A little apart from all stands one tall figure, taller
than all the rest, her dark hair folded back from her forehead, her
dark eyes watching each beloved group, while she spins unceasingly.
Close at her feet sits her shadow, clothed in the same sort of long
white dress, with the open sleeves disclosing the prettiest ivory arms
in the world. Short curling hair of a rich dark colour hangs round the
white neck and broad forehead of the sitter, and what are those little
pink and white fingers doing? Must I tell? A faithful historian must
recite plain facts, and, therefore, provided the secret goes no further,
I will allow she was cleaning pistols! And, according to Smart's
opinion, "she did 'em a sight better than many a man he had had under
him."

Now and then those clear dark eyes look up, and she says, "Now, June,
stop that everlasting wheel or I shall have you fainting with fatigue."

_Mother._--"Take my place then."

_Schillie._--"Good lack, spinning is such dull work. Let me finish my
pistols first."

And of course dinner is announced ere the pistols are pronounced
complete. A solemn grace said by the dear captain, whose "God be
thanked" comes slowly from the lips as if the heart was with it. Then a
merry dinner, Smart, and the maidens waiting on us, for nothing will
persuade Smart to sit down with us, and Jenny keeps him company, and
Hargrave, with a little hauteur condescends to do the same. All sorts of
pranks go on between Smart and the boys during dinner. Felix trying to
upset his solemn gravity, while Oscar sends him with preserved ginger
to Schillie's duck, roasted potatoes to Madame's tapioca pudding,
whereby he gets very shamefaced, as Schillie, with blunt sincerity,
points out his mistake. Then behind us he shakes his fist at the boys,
while they invent fresh nonsense to tease him. In the meantime the
dispute runs hot and high between the little girls as to who is to sit
next to their beloved captain, Gatty and Serena making believe that they
will assert their rights as Signori Priori, and take the coveted seats.

However dinner is over, and we all adjourned to the lowest cavern while
the servants eat theirs. Then we sing songs and tell stories.

_Felix._--"Cousin Schillie, you promised to tell us the story of the
jack-daws if we behaved well and obeyed our general."

_Schillie._--"Pooh! pooh! you have heard it a hundred times, boy."

_Felix._--"But the captain has not."

"I should like to hear it very much," said he.

_Mother._--"Then, Schillie, you will have to tell it again for the
hundred and first time, and you, captain, must not think that you are to
hear a very wonderful story, but, as it is the only one she was ever
known to tell, we are obliged to make her repeat it again and again. If
she would kindly tell us a fresh one we should be obliged, but, as she
won't, we will prepare ourselves to listen once more to the tale of


THE JACK-DAWS.

Once upon a time (this is too bad of you June) there stood an old church
in the middle of a village (making me tell this old story), and this
church had a very fine old tower (I wish you up in it now), and in this
tower lived a fine pair of jack-daws (fine company for you). Well! you
must know these jack-daws had a large family of greedy young children
(just like you). Now there lived in the village, (besides many other
brats) two boys, a big boy and a little boy. The big boy was a great big
stout hulking fellow, with a snubby nose and green eyes; and the little
fellow was a nice active chap, about the size of Tom Thumb, quick and
sharp as a needle. So one day these two boys sat in the church-yard, and
watched the jack-daws as they flew hither and thither and everywhere.
Says the little fellow, 'Them jack-daws must have a nest up there.' Says
the big chap, 'No doubt, and I would like to have the young ones,' (mind
children it's a wicked thing taking birds from their nests; look at all
of you away from your nests; go on, cousin, go on, the captain is quite
impatient). Well! so they agreed they would climb up the old church
tower, and get the young ones, which accordingly they did. Now you must
know the old jack-daws, being very knowing, had built their nest so that
it was outside the tower, just out of their reach, and there they could
see almost within grasp seven little jack-daws, all with their mouths
wide open, waiting for their father to pop in a delicious fat worm!
('Oh, cousin, how nasty,' says Winny). So the two boys were much
puzzled, but at last the big one takes hold of a plank, and, putting it
out of the little window, 'Now,' says he, 'go you and sit at that end
and I will push the plank out of the window, and you will just be able
to reach the nest.' 'Very well,' says the little fellow, 'but mind you
sit at the other end, lest the plank tilts up with me, and I go down.'
'All right,' says the big fellow, and away goes the little boy. 'I have
got them all seven,' says he, 'and very fine ones they are.' 'Very
well', says the big boy, 'mind four are mine, and three are yours.' 'No
such thing,' says the little one, 'I underwent the danger, so I'll have
the four, and you shall have the three.' 'No you shall not,' says big
bully. 'Yes I will,' says the little sturdy fellow. 'I will let you down
if you don't give me the four,' says the big rascal. 'Let away,' says
the small boy, 'I won't give them up.' So the young villain let go the
plank, and away went the little fellow, holding stoutly on by his little
birds. Well the seven jack-daws spread their wings and fluttered, and
the wind being high, it filled a great stout pinafore that he had on, so
that between the two, he was borne safely to the ground, when, looking
up at the window, out of which the big bully was watching his flight, he
shouted out, 'Now you shall have none of them.'



CHAPTER XXXVII.


_Felix._--"Now, captain, if you had seen that big boy, would you not have
walloped him?"

"Most certainly," said the captain, "but now we must be thinking of more
important matters." And as the hot weather set in with more than
ordinary vigour, it was very clear that we should not be safe in our
caverns, subjected to the earthquakes that generally accompany the heat.

Besides we were getting restless and impatient. If all alone by
ourselves, we had meditated getting the better of the pirates--think
what wild schemes we now had, with Smart and the captain to help us.

But we must wait until some of them went away in the ships after their
usual avocations, as even the bravest amongst us did not hope to conquer
them all. They seemed however bent upon making their homes more
comfortable before they went, and it was somewhat late in the season
when they started in their own vessel, leaving La Luna and half their
men behind. These latter were employed in sowing seeds and preparing the
ground for fruits and vegetables. We saw but little of the women, as
they hardly ever left their side of the island. We now discussed the
possibility of dispatching those parties who were left behind, thinking
though there were many more than we expected, yet we might get rid of
them, and taking possession of La Luna, get off the island at once. A
mad scheme it certainly was and nothing but the ardent longing we had to
escape made us think of it so confidently.

In the meantime, Smart gained the captain's permission, to "settle" any
of the men he might catch in a convenient position, so as to shoot them,
without exposing himself or us to risk of discovery. So highly did he
appreciate this permission, that he never ceased day or night dodging
about and watching these people, and three times he came in with
ill-concealed triumph, though he respected our feelings too much to do
more than insinuate he had "settled" some one or more. We, in the
meanwhile, occupied ourselves in making sacks and putting food into
them, ready to start at a moment's warning should a favourable time
arrive.

The pirates, we suppose, now began to suspect, from the extraordinary
death of three of their men, that the two prisoners were concealed
somewhere in the island, and not being able to discover them, or to
account for deaths taking place in such different parts of the island,
they kept altogether, close to the plantation side, and left the bay
entirely to us.

This gave Smart an opportunity of getting to the ship and bringing off a
boat, which we concealed by day in a cleft of the rock, but nightly we
employed ourselves in running down to the shore with everything we had
collected, which Smart and the captain stowed in the ship. We had been
at this work about a week, in full confidence and in the highest
spirits, our hopes were great, the dangers of the voyage appeared as
nothing, all our plans seemed succeeding, when one night, just as we
were all creeping up, tired and worn out with our night's work, we heard
shriek upon shriek from one of our party.

The strong sonorous voice of the captain shouted to us to get to cover.
Smart followed, huddling us all in like sheep, but, dark as it was, we
could not see who was missing, and I could not trust my voice to ask. We
ran to the inner cavern, and there, by the light of the torch, we missed
the darling child, Zoë, and both the maids.

_Smart._--"Don't fret, Ma'am, don't fret, no harm is done. We'll have
'em back by the morn. The cap'in and I will just take a step out and
look about us, and you, Madam, will be ready to help us, no doubt,"
turning to Schillie.

_Schillie._--"Yes, yes, Smart, I am quite willing. As for you, June,
mind what Smart says, and don't fret. If we could rescue those two from
all of them, think how much more likely we are to succeed now. I am only
afraid that fool Hargrave will do us a mischief. I wish it had been any
other person than her in the scrape."

_Captain._--"Now then, Madam, send them all to rest, and don't fear
anything. Smart and I are not likely to sit still while our brave
deliverers are in danger. And as for my pretty flower, I'll cut through
a wall of pirates to get at her."

_Mother._--"Then, Madame, take them all away. I assure you I cannot
sleep. I am ready to help with Schillie. Let us settle at once what is
best to be done."

They all went off most unwillingly, while we arranged that getting up
through the big cavern by the rope still concealed there, Smart should
go to the pirates' village, in as secret a manner as he could, and find
out what was best to be done, and where the prisoners were placed. No
time was to be lost. He was guided immediately to the place, not only by
the glare of the torches, but by the screams of Hargrave, and following
them cautiously, he concealed himself close by one of the windows where
they were put, and heard all that took place.

Jenny was recognised immediately, and the innocent child was frightened
almost into a fainting fit by the rough and horrid manners of these
dreadful people. But, according to Smart's account, Mrs. Hargrave was in
a mort of tantrums. He got back in safety, though with much difficulty,
and then detailed to us the following facts:

They were, as before, questioned all about themselves, and Jenny, as
before, stoutly maintained all were dead. They pointed to the child, and
smiled in scorn, but Zoë, like a brave little girl, positively refused
to say more than Jenny did, making the tears run down Smart's face as he
described the little white lips, so firm and decided; and each time, by
way of puzzling her, they put the question in a different manner, each
time she pointed to the three as if they were all.

_Smart._--"I beant one bit afeard of them two, but I am of that Mrs.
Hargrave; and it crossed my mind, when I heerd her shrieking and
squalling for you all, if I had not better put a bullet in her head just
to silence her, only I did not for ould acquaintance sake, and I seed,
by the sniggling of them oudacious monsters, as they meant to get
some'at out of her. I gave Jenny to understand as I was near at hand,
and the brave little thing, I could see by her eye, knowed the sound,
but never a sign gave she."

_Captain._--"I am afraid, Smart, it is of no use trying to deceive them
any longer, as they must be now aware that there is some place of
concealment on the island unknown to them; and, from my knowledge of
their character, I know their cunning and devilry is so great they will
leave no stone unturned to find it out."

_Smart._--"Cap'n, you and I agree, and it's through that weak fool Mrs.
Hargrave as they'll sarcumvent us. I never thought she had much brains,
and now I reckon she has worse nor none. Jenny and Miss Zoë would ha'
got clear off, had it not been for her skriking and pulling at 'hem,
for I heerd Jenny a giving it her handsome, saying she must ha' had the
heart of a savage to keep such hold of Miss Zoë when the pirates took
her, instead of letting the little innocent lady escape as she could;
and, though she did not say so, I am partly sure Jenny might ha' got off
well, only she was a-trying to get Miss Zoë free from that weak woman,
a-holding on like grim death, and, finding she wasn't capable, she bided
with the child to be a help and comfort to her."

_Mother._--"Ah, how like that good Jenny."

_Schillie._--"She certainly is a little trump, and never thinks of
herself."

_Madame._--"If I fold my darling Zoë in my arms once more, I shall never
be able sufficiently to show my gratitude to Jane."

_Captain._--"She shall never want for bite nor sup, once we get her
free, as long as I live."

_Felix._--"She is not your Jenny, captain, she is mine, she is always to
live with me, and, when I am married, she is to be my children's nurse."

Sybil and Serena and Gatty all expressed their admiration, while Gatty
added, "I wish Smart had sent his bullet where he said, for if there is
an owl in the world it is that Hargrave."

The captain proceeded to state that there seemed no likelihood of the
prisoners being harmed at present. I had visions before my eyes of the
old stories where innocent children are brought forward with bloody
swords held over their heads, ready to be sacrificed if they did not
confess and capitulate, and while all agreed they would sacrifice
themselves for Zoë and Jenny, Smart and the captain declared we were not
allowed the choice, for our lives were in their keeping, and all must
not be sacrificed for two. We none of us seemed to have the least pity
or care for poor Hargrave.

"It was mighty lucky," said Smart, "she could speak nothing but her
mother tongue, and that but badly clipping and mincing it, for she was
letting out everything in such a way I could ha' shook her well; and
I'll be bound to do it when I next see her. I hopes as they did not
understand, but I ha' my doubts."

The captain now set them all to work watching at different posts, with
orders to run and tell him all that occurred every half hour. Turning to
Schillie and me he said, "Ladies I would advise you to prepare for the
worst. They will work on the fears of that silly woman I doubt. We must
be prepared, and while I can defend the entrance for a good hour, you
must make your retreat, and where that is to be the Lord only knows."

_Mother._--"If we could get to the top of that big rock standing out
this side the bay, we can keep them off for some time there."

_Captain._--"That rock is but changing one desperate hope for another.
However we must trust in God. I'll try and believe that poor woman will
not utterly forget herself and us."

_Schillie._--"Why! my good captain, this island is like a rabbit warren,
they can never unearth us if we choose to be moderately careful."

_Captain._--"I have no doubt we could hide here for some time, but, with
such a lot of young ones all the care in the world on our parts may be
upset in a moment by thoughtlessness on theirs. Besides, they won't
leave a corner unvisited I feel sure, partly out of revenge, for they
are a most spiteful race, and partly from feeling persuaded you are the
people so long lost, and for whose recovery such large rewards are
offered."

_Schillie._--"In that case I imagine they won't harm us."

_Captain._--"They might not perhaps have done so at first, but 'they
will cut off their nose to spite their face' I am certain; by which I
mean they will be so savage at losing their men, and so angered at
having been deceived all this time by such a helpless party, that they
might murder us all in cold blood on the spur of the moment."

_Schillie._--"And that will be very unpleasant as far as I can judge."

_Mother._--"I should think we could make some hiding places amongst the
caverns, captain."

_Captain._--"So we could, Madam, had we time, and if I live but an hour,
or for one hundred years, my regret at not having taken the precaution
will be the same."

_Schillie._--"Give me any orders you like, captain, and they shall be
done if possible."

_Captain._--"I know they will, I know for certain they will, so now I
will tell you all I think, and you shall decide for yourselves. In the
first place, have you any doubt but that if the pirates let Mrs.
Hargrave go as to where she will come?"

_Schillie._--"Like any wild bull she will of course rush to these
caverns and expose our hiding places."

_Captain._--"Then we agree, Madam, and without doubt the pirates will
watch her and discover all. Now are we to run the chance of finding safe
hiding places in these numerous caverns, or show ourselves at once and
give fair fight?"

_Mother_ (shaking and shivering).--"That I hold to be impossible, for
there must be twelve pirates left, besides all the women and children,
and look at us."

_Captain._--"We have but a poor chance indeed, Ma'am, but remember,
Madam, Smart and I have the hearts of a dozen strong men in our bosoms,
ready to sacrifice all for those we love so much, and who risked their
lives to save us. I feel, yes, I feel as if a wall of pirates must fall
before such a spirit as is within me fails."

_Mother._--"But in the fight, supposing any of the children should get
hurt, supposing one of the party were killed, I think, I really think I
would rather all went at one blow than that we should have to mourn the
loss of one."

_Captain._--"I can understand your feelings well, Madam, and----"

_Schillie._--"Come, captain, don't let her talk any more nonsense,
crying her eyes out, let you and I go and take as quick a view of the
caverns as we can, and leave her to watch, there is no danger for an
hour or so. And here is a pencil and a bit of paper for you to keep you
quiet until we come back. Write a page for that beautiful journal, for
you have got something rather more interesting to detail than
heretofore."

_Mother._--"Schillie, I shall really begin to think you quite
heartless."

_Schillie._--"Pray do. I only wish it was the case, for I doubt our
hearts will be sadly torn to bits the next few days."

They returned in less than an hour with rather less hope than they had
before of our being able to hide in the caverns. One thing was certain
we could not hide altogether, and the notion of being in different
places, and not knowing whether one set might not be discovered and the
others looking on, not daring to help for fear of discovering more,
quite upset me. I began to think any fate was better than playing
bo-peep in the caverns, and so I said, "We will take our chance on the
rock, for we have many things ready by the waterfall which were meant
for the ship, and we need but snatch up a bundle a-piece."

_Schillie._--"When up there, too, we can look down upon our enemies,
and take good aim. I shall not fire at random, but pick out my man."

_Mother._--"Don't be so bloody-minded. Hark! there is a scream!"

The captain looked out, applying an epithet to Mrs. Hargrave that only
the exigency of the case could excuse. He said, "Here she comes, and I
make no doubt the whole body of them after her. You'll find lots of
bottles and kegs on the right hand side within the waterfall. Whatever
you do think of water. Hang that woman she is coming straight away. I
see those rascals close behind her, she'll be here in five minutes.
Come, gang, oh gang yer ways, oh aye here she is, sailing like a mad
woman."

_Mother._--"Then you think we had better go at once to the rock."

_Captain._--"Yes, yes, without a doubt. Ye'll get up without a soul
seeing ye, and ye can kick in the brushwood weel. Now gang, gang yer
ways, and when aince up, keep close as mice."

_Schillie._--"I begin to think you have some _nous_ in your head, June,
thinking of that rock. It's so near the ship we may, perhaps, get off in
the night."

_Mother._--"Heaven grant it. How that woman screams."

_Schillie._--"I should like to give her something to scream about, but
you are loading yourself like a pack horse. Well done, Sybil; now,
girls, scuttle about, take what's useful; whoever carries up anything
not wanted will have to bring it back again in the teeth of the enemy."

_Gatty._--"If you please, little Mother, may I stop behind for one
minute, just to speak my mind to Hargrave."

_Schillie._--"She won't be let in this hour, you ape. Now is our only
time for getting up to the top of that rock; where we shall have a full
view of the enemy all round."

_Madame._--"Gracious heaven, preserve us all. What dangers have we not
to endure from the frightful weakness of one woman."

_Schillie._--"It's no use moralizing, Madame, pick up something useful,
and be off."

_Gatty._--"Here is the green parasol, Madame."

_Serena._--"And here is your warm shawl."

_Sybil._--"And here is my arm to help you along."

_Madame_ (murmuring).--"May God help us, may the Almighty look down upon
us in our hour of need, and preserve my beloved ones."

_Sybil._--"Come, Madame, come, see how active the little ones are. Think
how charming to be safe up there, think how lucky we are to have Smart
and the dear captain to help us. Look at Otty with all the guns running
like a hare, and all the little girls flying like lapwings. Come,
Madame, come quickly."

So we ran about in every direction, and, collecting everything that was
useful, we left our friendly shelter and took refuge on the isolated
rock before-mentioned.

There was some brushwood at the top, and two or three old weather-beaten
palm trees, these afforded us most welcome shelter.

It was weary work getting to the top, but when once there we hauled up
many of our things by ropes, and some of us had time to return to the
cavern and bring away a rope ladder, with several other valuable
acquisitions that, had we been hurried, we should not have recollected
them, also quantities of water.

To our surprise, we saw nothing of Smart after Hargrave's first scream;
he disappeared, and we were all upon the rock but Madame when we missed
him, requiring his strong arm to help her up.

Not all the assistance we could give her seemed likely to get her to the
top, she was in so nervous a state. In vain she implored us to leave her
to her fate. Nothing but seeing us all begin to scramble down again to
share it with her made her at last, in a fit of desperation, reach the
top. When there, she sunk on the ground helpless, and we laid her at the
foot of one of the palm trees, where she declared she would breathe her
last sigh. The three elder girls now collected all the precious drops of
water, putting them under bushes, covering them with sand, to prevent
the powerful sun from evaporating the smallest quantity of such precious
liquid.

Schillie and the boys prepared the guns and pistols, putting everything
"handy," as they called it, for a siege. We snatched a hasty meal, not
knowing when we might have another opportunity; then laying ourselves
down, we hid snugly in the brushwood, seeing everything, yet utterly
unseen ourselves.

_Gatty._--"It's jolly fun being perched up here seeing all the country
round. But what is the reason we have come up?"

_Schillie_ (shortly).--"You were ordered to, that's enough."

_Gatty_ (half whispering to the girls).--"The bear is out to-day. If I
don't mind I shall get a scratch from its claws."

_Schillie_ (overhearing).--"Bear or not, Miss Gatty, you will be so good
as to keep a silent tongue in your head."

_Gatty._--"If you please, little Mother, why?"

_Mother._--"Why, Gatty, don't you perceive that if we continue to hide
ourselves as we do now the enemy will never guess where we are. But if
you chatter like any magpie, of course they will find us out."

_Gatty._--"Well, I am ready to do anything reasonable and now that I
have had a good reason given me, I'll be as mute as any mole."

_Schillie._--"Who deems a mole like you worth a reason."

_Sybil._--"Oh, little Mother, Gatty has a capital head when she is
trusted."

_Schillie._--"Filled with your notions, I suppose, Miss Sybil."

_Gatty._--"If you please, little Mother, cannot we get off to the ship
to-night; it's quite close, and no sharks to speak of."

_Schillie._--"When your advice is asked, then you may give us your sage
opinions."

_Mother._--"Come, Schillie, don't be so cross to the poor girls. You
know Gatty has given your own advice in almost your own words."

_Schillie._--"Why don't you and those two magpies follow the example of
that good child Serena, and hold your tongues, as she does."

_Mother._--"We shall not be disturbed yet awhile. But what makes you so
cross?"

_Schillie._--"I wonder you don't see what a predicament we are in; and
it is no very pleasant prospect being sea-sick for the next month, let
alone going to sea in this mad way, with only the captain for crew."

_Mother._--"Indeed it is very hazardous. I almost think we had better
not trust ourselves to the sea, but run our chance with the pirates."

"Oh, no, no," said all the girls and boys.

"Now if you make such a noise again, children, down you shall all go
into the mouths of those sharks," said Schillie.

"Then promise not to give up," said they in return.

"I promise nothing," said she.

"Then the king of the pirates will come and take you away, cousin," said
Felix.

Schillie uttered something between a sigh and a groan, and then said,
"You are an impudent boy, Master Felix, and I always tell your Mother
you'll come to no good. But whether she will live to see you hanged or
not I cannot say, for our fate is horrible every way. Just too as we
were getting so comfortable, and having everything so nice and snug
about us. I do not think there is a plant on the island of which I have
not discovered the name and property, and everything grows so
beautifully, and such bathing, besides, such delicious fish, and I am so
fond of fish, really it is too bad. I am just beginning to think the
island a very nice sort of little place, and here we are sent to the
right about in this horrid fashion."

_Gatty._--"Cannot we somehow contrive to kill all the pirates, and get
rid of them altogether."

_Sybil._--"Yes, we could shoot them from here, taking good aim."

_Gatty._--"Ha! ha! just listen to Sybil. Could any one ever have thought
she would have been so bloody-minded."

_Serena._--"I wish Zoë and Jenny were safely with us, then we should be
quite happy, having only the captain and Smart to wait for."

_Sybil._--"I dare say that is the reason Smart left us in such a hurry."

_Gatty._--"I hope it is as you say, old Syb, and I hope still more that
they will join us soon, and I hope most of all that they will leave
Hargrave behind."

_Sybil._--"Poor thing, but what will they do with her?"

_Gatty._--"Eat her, I dare say, and very tough----"

_Lilly._--"Oh, Mother, look there! Oh, look! look! Here is Zoë coming,
and Smart, and Jenny."

Up we all jumped, and saw the three stealing round the rocks, not two
hundred yards from the shore. Run, we all shouted, waving everything we
could lay our hands on. They saw us in a moment, and quitting the
shelter of the rocks, ran down towards us.

At this moment a noise of yelling and screaming was heard, and the whole
body of pirates, men, women, and children, came rushing out from
underneath the waterfall.

Smart heard them first, and catching up Zoë in his arms, giving Jenny
some directions, he plunged into the sea, while Jenny kept running to
that point of the rock where was the only accessible point for
scrambling up. The tide was half flow, which favoured Smart but would
impede Jenny, unless she dashed through the waves without regarding a
wetting. By the care that Smart took of his little charge, and by
Jenny's deliberate proceedings, we saw the servants both meant to
sacrifice themselves for the sake of the child.

We, on our parts, were bewildered for a moment with the coming strife,
but the thoughtful boys, rolling stones down to startle away the sharks
before their dear Smart's way, recalled us to our senses. We let down
the rope ladder, and the ready Smart swam to it. Placing his precious
charge on it, he watched her run nimbly up it and we receive her with
rapture in safety, when he wiped his streaming brow, and plunged into
the sea again.

Leaving the little ones all to kiss and embrace the lost and found, we
ran to the other side to watch Jenny, and help her if we could. She is
flying now, and dashes through the water, heedless of the coming waves.
She does not intend to be taken prisoner again without a struggle. But
there is one horrid pirate outstripping all the others. "Oh, Jenny,
Jenny, run, he is gaining on you." What shall we do to help her? How
shall we bear to see her taken before our eyes? She touches the rock. "A
few more steps, Jenny, and you can seize the rope we have let down to
assist you. Oh, horrid fellow, did ever any one run so fast. Ah, it is
of no use, dear, dear Jenny; one more effort." "Mother, Mother," said
Oscar, "cannot I shoot him?" "No, dear boy," said Schillie, "you cannot
without hurting Jenny." "But let me try, do let me try. Oh dear, oh
dear, it is too late, he has hold of her." Throwing away his gun, the
boy swung down by the rope before we could prevent him. In vain Jenny
called on him not to come, he was down in a moment, and attacked the
pirate, who had both arms round Jenny, with his cutlass. She struggled,
and turning round aided his efforts by buffeting the pirate in the face
with her hands and nails. At this moment Smart appeared, emerging from
the sea, having swam round the rock. One blow from his powerful fist
settled the matter. The pirate fell down stunned upon the rocks. Oscar
gave him a parting kick, and then all three assisting each other,
scrambled up the rock in no time, where we most joyfully received them,
and where they did not arrive a minute too soon, for the whole body of
pirates were close at hand.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


And now how silly we looked, all exposed to the wondering gaze of the
pirates. I heard Schillie muttering, "What a pack of fools we have
been," while Oscar said, "Cousin, we have gone and done it now. We shall
have to fight for it, and we shall have a good rowing from the captain.
I had better go and see after the guns." This he did, shaking them one
by one at the pirates as he examined them, while he and Felix kept
appearing and disappearing from behind the trees, sometimes with hats
and sometimes without, as if to make believe there were half a dozen
boys. Smart lay his full length on the ground, endeavouring to recover
his breath, after his late exertions.

It was of no use disguising the fact, we had discovered ourselves and
our hiding place, and though no one certainly could get to us without
leave, our helplessness would be fully apparent, and our identity with
the lost party well known. All the advantages we had gained from our
concealment were now over. We had nothing to do but wait in patience for
what fate had yet in store for us.

All this time, while these thoughts were rapidly running through our
heads, the whole colony of pirates were staring in undisguised amazement
at us.

_Sybil._--"What a frightful set of wretches."

_Gatty._--"Horrid. We will never capitulate to them."

_Serena._--"The women look as fierce as the men. How they do stare, just
as if they never saw human beings before."

_Oscar._--"I could pick off a fellow or two from this distance, Mother,
if you like."

_Smart_ (from his lair in the bushes).--"Ha' done, if you please, Sir,
with any such notion. Let me get a breath or two afore we come to a
fight; and anyways let them strike the first blow."

_Oscar and Felix_ (together).--"Then do make haste, Smart, and get your
breath. If the captain was but here, we could easily fight those
wretches."

_Smart._--"Breath or no breath, I ben't agoing to fight them devildoms
with no better helps than you two, young masters. Bide quiet like brave
boys, and do as the Duke of Wellington does."

_Felix._--"How is that, Tommy?"

_Smart._--"Why he waits until the enemy gives him a reason to get his
blood up, and when that's done it's all up with them."

_Felix._--"But my blood is up, Tom."

_Smart._--"Then let it cool a bit, Sir; any way the tide is rising, and
them rascals is sufficiently knowledgeable to see that the sharks is a
guarding of us now. When it gets dark it will be ebbing and I'll be off
to see after cap'n, and you'll have enew to do, Sir, to keep watch until
we get back."

_Gatty._--"Don't bring Hargrave back if you can help it, Smart."

_Smart._--"I ben't much inclined that way myself, Miss, but I have heerd
we are bound to be merciful."

_Gatty._--"She has not been merciful to us, I am sure."

_Smart._--"I do partly think as she ben't quite answerable for her ways.
Any how I shanna put myself out of the way to look after her."

_Mother._--"Oh yes, Smart, you must try your best."

_Smart._--"To be sure, Ma'am, if so be you wishes it. But I be thinking
there is a power of mischief in her yet."

_Mother._--"I think it must all have been frightened out of her by this
time. Did you see anything of her when you went in search of the
others?"

_Smart._--"No, Madam, I went straight away for Miss Zoë and Jenny, the
cap'n having given me my orders so to do, let alone me ordering myself
that way also. I had to knock over a couple of women-kind, which went
agin my conscience: not knowing how people might act towards my poor
dear woman, and my two pretty boys, all these years that I have been
from them."

Here Smart showed symptoms of a pathetic nature, for which Felix tried
to comfort him saying, "I am sure they are doing very well, for Mrs.
Smart will have taken in some washing, and Jem is I dare say a
gamekeeper by now, and perhaps little Tom too."

From Jenny we further learnt that they had come round the way they did
to avoid the pirates. As they passed the upper caverns they heard what
Jenny called a great "scremmage," but saw nothing of Hargrave or the
captain. Had they been ten minutes sooner round the rock they might have
reached us in safety, and without discovery.

The pirates having given full scope to their curiosity regarding us, now
separated, and, while some remained as watchers, the others went off to
examine the waterfall and caverns, and look, as we supposed, for our two
companions.

"Ha, ha," said Smart, as he saw them emerging in and out from beneath
the waterfall, "if it had not been for that demented woman you would
never have speered that place, I'll go bail. Mighty pretty it is too as
well as uncommon convanient."

_Oscar._--"Is it not like the waterfall at Cil Hepste in
Glamorganshire."

_Smart._--"Just such another, Sir, and if I have the luck to see that
ere waterfall again, it's a pity if I don't look o' the inside of it."

_Felix._--"What, do you think we shall find caverns and pirates in it,
like this one, Tommy?"

_Smart._--"No, Sir, I'se warrant there is neer a pirate there, but it's
an uncommon curious place, and like this 'un as one pea to another. The
ould lady seems but baddish I consate."

This was but too true. Whether from the fright or the heat, or the
unusual exertions, Madame was anything but well, and fell from one fit
of hysterics to another. We could do but little to mend her, for even
supposing we had had smelling salts on the island we should not have
deemed it one of the necessaries to bring upon the rock. We put Zoë
beside her with orders to talk to her, and tell her as many of her
adventures as she could to amuse and divert her mind.

And then Jenny told us how good and brave Miss Zoë had been, and how
neither of them would have been taken prisoners had it not been for that
"squawking" Hargrave. Upon which Gatty and the boys declared they wished
her no worse fate than to be married to one of the pirates.

_Schillie_ (with gravity).--"I will make over to her my interest with
the King."

_Gatty._--"We might actually have been on board sailing away at this
moment instead of frying up here, with these frightful pirates blinking
and grinning at us, as if they never saw Christians before."

_Sybil._--"Perhaps they never did, Gatty."

_Serena._--"Jenny, did you know that we were discovered in the caverns
through Hargrave? They made her a trap to catch us."

_Jenny._--"Miss Zoë told me, Miss, she was afraid from what she could
make out that they were going to make something out of Mrs. Hargrave.
But I could not understand them at all. Nevertheless we both cautioned
her as much as possible, though she was in such a sad way I doubt if she
heard us. After awhile she was taken away from us, and, though I told
her the last thing to be sure to be careful, and do her duty by her
mistress, she screamed so I don't think she minded me one bit. The women
were pretty civil, but very wild and bad looking, and I would not bear
them to touch Miss Zoë, which they were trying to do all the while. And,
oh, Miss Zoë was so brave, and, whenever I said you were all dead she
said so too."

_Gatty._--"How could you tell such fibs, Zoë? Madame will give you that
odious Theresa Tidy's Nineteen Maxims of Neatness and Order, to do into
German, for being so naughty."

"Angel child, never, never could I punish her after her agonizing
sufferings," murmured the good kind Madame.

The strict watch kept over us began to be so wearisome we were glad when
night veiled us in her dark mantle.

It was astonishing with what composure we laid down to rest, secure in
the sharks' guard for some few hours yet, while the morrow, with all its
probable horrors, seemed not to present itself to any mind. "We trusted
in God that he would deliver us."



CHAPTER XXXIX.


The morning's light brought us no change either for worse or better,
excepting that under cover of the night Smart had gone to search for our
other companions. He gave us orders what to do, in case of an attack,
and departed with these comforting words "Let a score on 'em attack ye,
and I'll be bound the young gentlemen, if they be but steady, can keep
'em off. Any ways Mrs. E. can, and if we hear shots cap'in and I will
just come in the rear in nick o' time."

We sat composedly down to such breakfast as we had, which led to an
examination as to what had been brought up. We had plenty of water,
bread, yams, and potatoes. No little girl had forgotten her parrot, or
the boys their monkeys; in fact Felix declared his had been very useful,
as he made him carry two great potatoes. "But," said Lilly, "you had to
carry him, so it made no great difference."

"Moreover," says Felix, "I brought my two hens, because they lay eggs,
and Tommy is so fond of eggs."

_Lilly._--"I do think you love Smart more than any of us, more than your
Mother."

_Felix._--"Oh! any body may have the other egg, but I must keep one for
my Tommy. He has never been quite well since he was with those brutes.
And I am his doctor he says, so I order him eggs. And if I bid him do
it, I know he would eat twenty, one after another."

_Mother._--"How odd it seems to Schillie, our laughing at all this
nonsense of the children, when we certainly are in a very uncomfortable
position. We seem to think we are in no danger, now we have got the
captain and Smart to help us, and I doubt if we were ever in a worse
predicament than now."

_Schillie._--"Predicament or not, it's extremely nasty not being allowed
any water to wash with, and I shall owe Hargrave a grudge all my life.
Here we have been accustomed to bathe two or three times a-day, now
stewed to death we are only allowed sufficient water to send bread down
our throats, that would otherwise stick there."

_Mother._--"I wish that may be our greatest inconvenience; it's all very
well for Smart to say that we are in no danger, but if these people keep
staring at us and watching us all day as they did yesterday what are we
to do? They'll stare us out, let alone the chance of our being broiled
to death. I feel quite sure Madame will have a brain fever if we don't
take care."

_Schillie._--"Well don't fuss. We can last out a week of this work,
perhaps, and then we shall at all events be less fat for the fishes. I
intend to try the depths of those caverns before I put myself in the
power of that pirate captain."

I shuddered as she pointed down to the blue waters, through whose depths
we could see endless caverns of fantastically shaped coral.

"Oh! Ma'am, Ma'am," cried Jenny, "they are coming up." We ran for our
weapons, concealing them as well as we could, and then stood on the
defensive, Schillie on one side of the path and I on the other, the rest
all ready to hand us the guns. "Shoot, Schillie, shoot," I said, "hit
the foremost man, and he'll tumble over the others."

"I am trying, I am indeed, but don't you know I cannot even kill a wasp!
Hang me if I can do it," said Schillie, turning white as a sheet, and
letting her gun drop. Steadily Otty raises his gun, fires, and the
foremost man falls, knocking over two others, and causing great
confusion. Felix, by way of calming it, fires his gun right into the
middle of them.

Their imprecations were loud and deep, and their rage seemed boundless
as they looked up at their two little antagonists. One man dead, two
hurt. "Very good boys," say we. But the pirates were not to be driven
back in this manner. It was too humiliating to be repulsed by two boys.
They seemed speculating as to what had become of Smart, he was evidently
not with us. So once more they essayed the ascent, sheltering themselves
as well as they could from the guns, by creeping under cover of the
ledges of rock. "Now let's all be firm this time," we whispered, "for
shoot them we must." Schillie took a great gulp of water, seized her
gun, and once more we all stood ready. "Let them come quite close," said
Oscar.

But a fresh person appeared on the scene of action, whose shrill screams
told her name better than anything. Not that anybody seemed hurting or
molesting her, but attracted, I suppose, by the sound of the guns, she
had ventured forth from her hiding place, and discovered us all roosting
at the top of the rock. Not being able to entertain more than one idea
at a time, and that idea being since her separation from us solely how
she could rejoin, it was not a matter of wonder, that to see us, was to
make her rush down towards us. It never entered her limited capacity to
think that the pirates might object to the re-union. However they showed
themselves most civil and polite towards Mrs. Hargrave, though we on the
rock did not give them credit for acting entirely from disinterested
motives.

_Schillie._--"Upon my life! if they are not going to let that mad woman
come up here. You may be sure, June, they have some motive for this
gratuitous kindness. I dare say they think such an ass of a woman will
be more likely to do us harm than good by her presence. Well! any body
may help her up that likes, I won't."

"Nor I, nor I," sounded on all sides.

But there was no need for us to offer, for the amiable pirates were
kindly assisting her up themselves. Little did Mrs. Hargrave dream that
they were making a convenient shield of her most precious self and that
if we hoped to execute our former manœuvre we should have to send our
bullets through her first. She thought of nothing but being again
amongst us, and scrambled and struggled towards us, screaming the whole
time.

_Oscar._--"Mother, I must shoot her, there is no help for it. If one of
those fellows gets footing on here, we may as well give ourselves up.
You see he is close behind her."

_Mother._--"We will just make one effort. Wait till she is so near that
I can grasp hold of her, and then shoot; she must take her chance."

With the greatest coolness the brave boy did as he was bid; and I had no
sooner grasped the woman than he fired. With a squall that no one could
think proceeded out of human lips, she lost her footing and held on by
me, and if Schillie had not had firm hold of me, Serena and Sybil of
her, I must have gone over with Hargrave and the pirate. As it was, he
fell dead, and we dragged her up, and, pulling her to some distance, we
never stayed to enquire if she was wounded or not, but ran back to our
posts. They were swarming up, just under a ledge, ready to make a bolt
out upon us if we looked off one moment. "Get stones, little ones,"
whispered Serena, "they will help us, perhaps." Now they bolt. We all
fire simultaneously. They retreat again, some wounded, but none dead.
We took up the second relay of guns, Schillie carrying off the others to
reload.

"In the name of all that's horrible," we heard her say, in a loud angry
voice, "what are you doing here?"

_Hargrave._--"I am not going to be shot at and killed by those dreadful
guns any more, and, besides, the pirates gave me to understand down
there as the sun would soon set the powder in a blaze, and we should all
be blown up. Look at me, bleeding like a pig, and half my ear and one of
my best ear-rings gone. No, no, though I was dead, as I thought, I was
determined to throw the powder and shot over the rock, that you might be
safe, if I died the next minute."

"Bring me that rope, Lilly," said Schillie, in a voice of concentrated
rage. Gatty sprung to help her, and in two minutes the foolish woman was
tied, with her hands behind her back, to one of the palm trees, and they
returned to help us, as best we could be helped. We trusted that Smart
would hear the firing, and come to our assistance before all hope was
gone. But the pirates themselves ceased their warfare against us,
finding the stones quite as destructive as the guns; besides, they
seemed to be in a great state of uncertainty and trouble among
themselves, and had so many consultations, and talked at such a rate,
that we lost ourselves in conjectures as to what it could be all about.
"They are in a mighty rage against us, I think, for killing the two
men," said Oscar. "They don't want to hurt us, apparently," said
Serena, "as they never fixed their guns at us." "Why, my dear child,
don't you see that is against their interests to hurt any of us," said
Schillie, "they want to sell us, or some such blessed thing."

_Gatty_ (demurely).--"I don't think the king will sell you, little
Mother."

_Schillie._--"None of your nonsense. Miss. I'll marry you to him if you
don't mind, and a regular dun duckity mud-coloured spouse you will
have."

_Gatty._--"If you please, little Mother, you are and have been so cross
to me since we came up here."

_Schillie._--"And no wonder, you young noodle, talking such nonsense,
and behaving like a young ape when we are in such danger; and June is
just as bad, encouraging you in all this stuff."

_Mother._--"Come, don't let us quarrel, night is coming on. Go to bed,
children. You and I must watch, Schillie."

_Schillie._--"And I, feeling like a dead dog, wanting a week's sleep at
least."

_Mother._--"Then Hargrave shall help me."

_Schillie._--"Help the pirates you mean; but who has looked after that
female lately?"

We went to see her, and luckily she was unable to have her feelings
wounded by any remark that might have been bottling up against her, for
through her nose she gave audible demonstrations that she considered her
troubles and sorrows over, and that any remonstrances on our parts
would only be regarded as an unpleasant dream of the night.

"What a dirty draggle-tailed thing she looks," said Schillie, "in all
that worn-out old finery. Why cannot she dress like us and Jenny in
these serviceable dresses?"

"Oh, she made a particular request to me," I answered, "not to dress in
our island costume, and asked leave to use all our old things to make
herself, what she called, respectable. But are you really so tired you
cannot watch?"

_Schillie._--"To be sure not; you don't think I am going to let you
watch without me, only I am regularly done up, and think it would be
rather a good plan to get shot that I might have some rest."

_Mother._--"Fie, Schillie, you forget what you are saying."

_Schillie._--"I dare say I am very wicked, but don't bother me now; keep
your scolding until we get out of this mess, if we ever do."



CHAPTER XL.


Towards midnight, a sound in the water made our hearts beat. Either the
pirates meant to storm us at night, or Smart and the captain were
attempting to join us. Calling the girls, we set them to watch the rope
ladder, which we let down on the one side, while we watched the pathway
on the other.

The tide was ebbing, though our rock was still wholly surrounded by
water, yet not sufficient to make the sharks any protection to us. It
was this which made us so anxious, for there were such a few hours in
the day during which the pirates could attack us, and they had been so
unexpectedly repulsed, we had but little doubt they would attempt a
night assault if possible, and for this the tide now suited very well,
and we could not hope that they would be ignorant of the advantage.

The sounds advanced on one side, though still so faint and designedly
smothered we could distinguish nothing to lead us to know whether
friends or foes were coming. Now, whoever they were, they certainly had
landed at the foot of the rock. We instinctively each grasped a stone.

"The Lord be thankit, captain; I do consate as we have found the
pathway," in Smart's tones, rose up to our delighted ears, and we
grasped their hands with heartfelt pleasure as they severally reached
the top. We had, however, a drawback to our pleasure, for Smart had been
wounded looking for Mrs. Hargrave. The necessity of binding his wound
and restoring his exhausted strength, prevented us from thinking of
getting off to the ship then; besides, we had little more than an hour's
darkness left us, and it would have taken that time to move Madame
alone. So, after making Smart as comfortable as we could, Schillie and I
ran off to take some rest, in the full assurance that half our cares
were over, now that we had got our two able-bodied defenders among us
again. Besides, no further responsibility rested on our shoulders, and
that was so great a relief we were asleep almost before we laid down.



CHAPTER XLI.


The imperturbable Hargrave presented herself the next morning as
perfectly rested, and ready to dress her mistress, and put her hair (now
for so long neglected) into proper order. A piece of coolness and
effrontery that so surprised me I remained quite dumb.

Not so the young ones; but I am ashamed to repeat all that was said,
for, though they had right on their side, the unfortunate woman was set
upon by all, and if tongues could sting, she would not have been alive
now. At last she sat down in a remote corner of the rock, to weep and
bewail herself, thinking, I dare say, that she had escaped from one set
of savages into another. And, though she derived some consolation part
of the time in what she called "tidying herself," she shed many a tear
over her torn garments and battered appearance, declaring that she had
had her clothes ruined by the rough way in which the captain and Smart
had dragged her about. "Say that again," said Felix, "and I must spit at
you to show my contempt."

That the captain and Smart had joined us soon became known among the
pirates, and if they had been so severely repulsed before by two boys,
it was madness attempting another assault.

So they set about means of devising how they could dislodge us, without
endangering their own lives. Madame's increasing illness became our
great care now, she was becoming delirious, and there was no possibility
of subduing the fever upon this baking rock.

"A little cooling lime juice, Ma'am, I would venture to advise," said
Hargrave.

"And who has put a stop to our having that?" was uttered on various
sides, in various indignant tones.

Hargrave shrunk back into her corner again, while the captain said, "I
will draw up some sea water, with which you must bathe her head. Smart's
wound will fester I doubt; we have nothing here to ease that, I am
grieved to say."

Middle day came, when the heat was greatest. We lay gasping, half dead
with fatigue, heat, and fears as to what would be our fate. Suddenly we
were roused by Smart's voice, who could not rest for the pain of his
wound. "Be sharp, be sharp," he cried, "they are throwing lighted brands
up here, we shall be on fire in a minute, and roast meat in ten." We
flew in every direction, and threw them off as fast as they could throw
them on. It was hotter work for them than us and, seeing us so active,
they ceased for awhile. The captain then cut away great square plots of
brushwood as best he could, to prevent much harm accruing in case they
tried their brands again.

While thus occupied, Sybil came running to me, all in tears, and
wringing her hands. "Oh, I have killed him, I am afraid he is dead," she
cried.

"How? who?" we exclaimed.

"I only meant to frighten him, I would not hurt anybody. Oh, what shall
I do?"

We ran with her to the extreme end of the rock, and, looking down, we
saw on a ledge below, a large stone with a man beneath it.

"I was running here," continued the weeping Sybil, "to see if any brands
were thrown in this direction, and, peeping down, I saw a man scrambling
up, very near the top. He did not see me, but I had no time to lose, so
I just pushed that great stone with all my might. You know we had
remarked this stone before as being just in the position to roll down,
if it was only on the other side. I do not know how I managed, but over
it went, and fell directly on him; and, oh, I am afraid it has killed
him. What shall I do, I shall never be happy again."

_Gatty._--"Not happy again, Sib, I only wish I had done it."

_Sybil._--"But, sister, do you think he is really dead? Can we not go
down and save him, or take that great stone off him? Oh dear, oh dear,
how could I do such a cruel thing."

_Gatty._--"Oh, Sib, Sib, what a goose you are. You have done a glorious
thing. I only wish it had been me. Think, Serena, of Sib having killed a
pirate all by herself and we have not even cut off the little finger of
one. It is too provoking."

We were obliged to take the poor tender-hearted girl away from the spot,
and she shook and shivered with remorse all the rest of the day. We
comforted her as well as we could by saying he must have died
immediately (for dead he was without any doubt), and he had fallen on a
spot where the sea would carry away all remains of him before morning.

The little ones looked at poor trembling aunt Sib with the greatest
admiration, Gatty with envy and jealousy, while Serena, like a true
tender-hearted little sister, comforted and kissed her, telling her how
gentle, good, and kind she was to everybody, and what a good thing she
had done for us, and how, perhaps, this was the identical pirate who had
stolen her, and that she was not to be unhappy at what perhaps we might
all have to do ere long. And this set us talking upon our plans.

"Don't you think, captain," said Schillie, "we may get off to the ship
to-night?"

_Captain._--"We must try, Madam. If they should chance to go on board,
they will find out how busy we have been there, and they will then take
measures to prevent us executing any such plan. But I have lost my right
hand in Smart."

_Gatty and Oscar._--"Oh, captain, send me for the boat. I can swim like
a duck, and it's not a hundred yards from here."

_Mother._--"My dear children, the sharks."

_Oscar._--"I don't mind them, Mother."

_Gatty._--"They will have a good mouthful if they swallow me; and if I
am as troublesome inside a shark as you, little Mother, say I sometimes
am here, I shall not agree with him at all."

_Schillie._--"Now, Gatty, I won't have you running into any danger. I
don't mean to say you are not extremely troublesome, but still I have
got used to you, and I won't have you expose yourself to any danger."

_Captain._--"I think I can manage to make them both of use, and yet
without much danger, I trust. I would not have a hair of their precious
heads lost."

Gatty flushed up like the setting sun with pleasure; Oscar nodded in
approbation, while I said, "Then it is decided, at all events, we get
off to-night, if we can."

"Man proposes, and God disposes."

"Sister, look," said Serena, in a low sorrowful voice. Ah me, did I see
rightly? With every sail set, that ominous, black, hateful vessel, the
pirate ship, hove in sight, and ere we could collect our senses, or
believe our eyes, she was anchoring in the bay.



CHAPTER XLII.


We sat down on the carpet of desperation and the stools of despair.

The pirates on shore seemed as bewildered as we were. The pirates on
board seemed in a great state of confusion and uproar. A general
running, hurrying, and scurrying took place among them all.

While those of the ship pointed vehemently to the sea, they of the land
gesticulated violently towards the caverns, and both were equally
eccentric in their observations regarding us. At last regular parties
were organized, who began systematically, at the same time with the
utmost rapidity, to unload their vessel; while the pirate king, hoisting
a white flag, and attended by a few ferocious-looking followers,
advanced towards our rock. By the captain's advice we hoisted a white
rag of some sort, as a token of friendship, and in silence waited the
result.

In bad French the pirate captain offered us terms for capitulation. He
pointed out how useless it was for us now to think of repelling such
numbers. That if we would come down quietly, we should be received with
open arms ("and cut throats," murmured some one behind me); that they
would engage their most sacred word of honour they would do us no harm
("much honour in a pirate," murmured the same voice); that there was
plenty of room on the island for us all, and that we might choose which
side we pleased, and they would take the other. All they wanted was
peace and our friendship.

Our dear captain shook his head at all this civility, and fairly laughed
at the offer of friendship. But he turned, as in duty bound, being
spokesman, to take our opinion.

Simultaneously we all rose together, and letting the pirates have a full
and perfect view of our whole party (save the two invalids) for the
first time, with one voice we all exclaimed, "No! no!" Though evidently
surprised at seeing what a helpless party we were, it yet seemed to give
him but greater zest to persuade us to come down.

His offers became more generous, his civilities greater, his promises
most profuse and tempting, but, invariably and simultaneously, without
waiting for our captain's appeal, rose the decided "No! no!"

With subdued oaths and imprecations he left us, having been several
times interrupted by urgent entreaties from his companions. Leaving some
young boys to watch us, he repaired to his companions, and they now
seemed wholly occupied in emptying the ship and stowing everything away
in the caverns. The bay was one scene of activity and bustle.

We sat quiet, knowing that night was drawing on, when our last effort
for escape must be made.

_Oscar._--"Captain, you never told us what happened to you in the
caverns, and how Smart found you."

_Captain._--"I found him, Sir, instead of his finding me. I kept the
entrance blocked up as long as I could, but I could not get a good shot
at any of the enemy on account of that demented woman, who was always in
the way. It was enough that as fast as they took out one stone I piled
up another, until, finding that they were getting too many for me, and
knowing that you had had ample time to place yourselves in safety, I
swung myself up by the rope to the top of the cavern, and, drawing it
up, I lay there concealed, watching their movements. Such a pandemonium
scene I never beheld. Luckily their eagerness, curiosity, and excitement
made them forget Mrs. Hargrave, who sat down and howled like a hungry
cat, not, however, before she had discovered to them every secret
corner, by running madly to look for you. I suppose, for her sake, we
must allow, poor woman, she is a little touched in the brain, for I
found her, after everything was quiet, and the pirates had gone down to
look for you, looking over some musty old caps and bonnets, and fitting
up for herself a bundle of clothes. I suggested a little food and water
would be more useful, but she stopped my mouth by saying it was her duty
to appear decent and tidy for her mistress's sake. And such trouble I
had with her besides. I am persuaded that woman would never be guided by
mortal tongue. Many times I thought to leave her to her fate and to go
and see after you, but she was so unfit to be left, I had not the heart
to do so. Nevertheless, after getting her out of the caverns up on the
top, in a well-concealed place, where we could see nicely all round, she
escaped me, for what reason neither she or any one else could tell I
think, and I lay quiet until night, when, venturing down to see if I
could join you all, after a while I heard a noise just nigh me, and,
hiding behind a tree, I looked out, and presently spied a great big
fellow, standing six feet two, before me. I knew Smart in a moment, dark
as it was, but, having a mind to startle him, I took hold of his leg.
Laws me, Sirs, you should have seen how he jumped. I am sure the good
old lady could not have been more alarmed. The rest you know."

_Felix._--"Poor Smart, I dare say you took hold of that very leg that's
now wounded. Do you know, Smart, Otty and I had our right and left
shots."

_Smart._--"Had you so, Sir. Well, I hopes you both killed your birds."

_Felix._--"No, for unluckily we both shot at the same fellow, but we
knocked him over clean. We frightened them in an awful way, but cousin
Schillie would not shoot."

_Smart._--"How cumed that about I wonder. I reckoned her a prime one."

_Felix._--"She was frightened, Smart."

_Smart._--"Oh no, Sir, I'll never believe that."

_Felix._--"Oh, but she was. I saw her shut her eyes when we all had to
shoot together, and she did not open them for a good minute after."

_Schillie._--"Good lack, captain, what is going to happen now?"

Boats were approaching La Luna. The pirates boarded her, and, after half
an hour's work, her anchors were taken up, and she was towed to the
other side of the bay, and there made secure.

Night set not in more darkly than the gloom that fell upon our hearts.
We could but leave our fates in the hand of a good and merciful
Providence.



CHAPTER XLIII.


The whole night long the pirates worked hard, doing what we could not
see, neither could our captain at all understand their conduct. "If it
was not too good to be true, they have been chased," said he, "and have
come into harbour to hide. Did anyone look over the sea?" he continued.
No, we had all been too much engaged.

_Captain._--"Then the first thing I shall do on the dawn will be to scan
the sea. Something unusual must have occurred to put the pirates to all
this pother."

With the first streak of day came the pirate captain with his flag of
truce, and again made his offers of peace, friendship, and civility, and
again met with a vehement negative, though most forlorn were now our
hopes and fortunes. To our surprise we now only saw La Luna. There was
not a vestige of the pirate ship.

The pirate king had now recourse to threats, which we heard in
disdainful silence. After spending half an hour in oaths and threats, he
waved his hand, and, stamping with anger, pointed to La Luna. "I give
you one hour," he cried, "if by that time you do not come down
voluntarily, I intend sweeping the top of your rock with those two
guns." We looked towards the vessel; she had been brought within gun
shot, and her brass cannons were placed directly before us. "I know,"
continued the pirate, "who you all are, and I have no wish to harm you,
but rather to gain the rewards offered for your recovery. Be persuaded
and be reasonable."

_Mother._--"Captain, what do you think, what shall we do, he speaks
fair?"

_Captain._--"Madam, we must not trust him. I feel sure they have some
reason for this bustle and activity all night, and I feel persuaded they
have scuttled their ship and sunk her. Look round, and you will see that
when they retire into the caverns, there is not a trace of human beings
about save our own vessel, and that looks weather-beaten and old enough
to have been riding at anchor there for ages. No doubt they have
concealed all traces of themselves in her. If they get us down they will
use us as hostages for their own safety, or they may murder us at once,
and thus leave no one to tell the tale of the caverns. As long as we are
alive that secret cannot be kept, and, having made a settlement here, I
think there is every probability that they will commit any crime sooner
than suffer such a convenient and suitable stronghold for them to be
discovered. I trust them not, let us trust in God."

_Mother._--"And you, Schillie, tell me what do you advise?"

Schillie rose up, and drawing me to the highest part of the rock, turned
her broad white forehead to the ship, while her clear eyes, darkened in
their beauty by the emotions of the hour, looked steadily down into the
mouths of the guns.

_Schillie._--"June, do you believe that the spirits of the departed know
what occurs on earth, and with unseen forms can visit those they love?"

_June._--"I hold some such doctrine, my Schillie, but whether there is
truth in it or not, the departed alone can tell."

_Schillie._--"I'll put faith in your doctrine, my mistress, and think
that in an hour I may behold my children, though unseen by them."

_June._--"And is it this feeling that makes you gaze so boldly into the
jaws that are so shortly to breathe forth death to us?"

_Schillie._--"It may be so, or it may be the strength given from on high
for such emergencies as these. In this awful hour I feel no fear; a
sacred calm is filling my heart. My God, I feel Thou art near; Thou
knowest this is not presumption that I bow me in humility before Thy
throne, that I approach it under the shadow of my Saviour's wing."

I gazed in her face, flushed with ardour, refulgent with her inspired
feelings, and thought her half way to heaven already.

_June._--"My Schillie, ere you go, take my thanks take my heartfelt
gratitude with you for all you have been to me."

_Schillie._--"We go together, June, we shall not be separated in the
happy pasture fields of our immortal shepherd. You will come with me to
gaze on my children, and whisper holy dreams of goodness and truth into
their childish ears to prepare them for the burdens of life, such as we
have gone through. Our fates in life were thrown together, and the last
act of mercy received from our gracious Father is this, that we die
together."

_June._--"But with my mortal lips and mortal heart receive my thanks,
for, without you, what should I have done? Without your brave heart and
good spirit to help me I must have given way. Without your hopeful,
strong, and Godly mind I, guilty of ungrateful murmurs, should have
forfeited the right of comfort from on high. Ah! my Schillie, take my
thanks, for next to my Father, Saviour, God in heaven, what do I not owe
to you?"

_Schillie._--"Enough, enough, we give and take in this world. Our
obligations to each other are mutual. We have an eternity before us to
settle the debt between us. Our time on earth draws to a close. It is
fit we prepare the young and weak for the fate they seem hardly to
realize."

_June._--"I shrink from them. Oh, my Schillie, do me a last act of
kindness, and keep them from my sight."

_Schillie._--"Nay, rouse yourself, and remember you take all you love
with you."

_June._--"But such a death! and they so young, so beloved, so lovely and
gifted, to die in so horrible a manner."

_Schillie._--"Then think of the fate you would have them live for. But
one hour of mental agony, and they are safe in their Saviour's arms."

_June._--"And, oh, Schillie, one more horrible fear I have. Suppose
those dreadful guns do not fully complete their dreadful work. Think if
some are left, wounded and maimed, yet more wounded in heart at the
death of those they loved."

_Schillie._--"Call them, and give each their choice."

They came, but it was only to group themselves in one close embrace
about us. They replied not to the words we uttered, but looking as
fearlessly as Schillie did down on the brazen mouths of death, they
turned their loving eyes in unutterable affection towards us. The
beaming light of Schillie's countenance seemed reflected on each young
face, until we thought an halo of glory already surrounded them.

The two men tenderly lifted up Madame, and laid her moaning and
unconscious at our feet, and then placed themselves on each side of the
group.

"See," said Schillie, half smiling and waving her hand, "your last fear
is groundless, it will take but one of those cannon to deliver us all at
the same moment from this mortal coil. Let us lift up our hearts to
God."



CHAPTER XLIV.


The minutes fled. Ever and anon a group of pirates would advance, and,
as they gazed, pity, remorse, and even admiration seemed to blend in
their swarthy countenances, as they looked at the motionless helpless
group. Evidently reluctant to give the fatal signal for death, the
pirate captain restlessly paced to and fro, only taking his eyes from us
to look hurriedly on the sea. The hour was gone. The boat shot from the
shore, bearing the fatal messengers of death. The pirate captain
clenched his hands, and hurried up and down, like one in despair.
Sometimes he looked as if he would speak to us, then turned more quickly
away.

Our hearts beat audibly to each other. "May God take us into His safe
keeping this hour," murmured the low earnest voice of our dear captain.
"Amen," was fervently uttered by all that could speak.

Still the pirate captain wavered and hesitated; but what made our
captain start? A body of pirates came forward, and drawing their chief
away, began expostulating with him, and we heard a sound behind us.
"For the love of God move not," said the captain; but every ear
listened.

As the sun gilds one cloud after another in rapid succession, rising
higher and higher, so did one face after another illumine with hope and
deliverance as the sound became more audible. We had heard it before,
but, oh, so long ago, could it have been in our dreams? It seemed so
familiar, yet we had never heard it on the island. It sounded so
homelike, though our own home was far inland. But to British ears and
British hearts could such a sound be unknown? The long, measured, steady
stroke of the oars of a man-of-war's boat broke upon our happy senses;
and yet we were silent, as if turned to stone. The conviction of our
safety and deliverance sent the once-burthened hearts in silent
thankfulness to the foot of God.

"Avast there! keep under the shelter of this rock," said a man's deep
voice, in a subdued tone, "it won't do to run right into the mouths of
these blackguards without a little reconnoitering." Our captain crept
silently to the side from whence the voice proceeded and hailed them.
"Hollo! here's a fellow up here, we had better settle him at once, lest
he gives the alarm," said the deep voice.

This made us all move quickly to the same place, and, as we caught sight
of the gallant sailors, who, though strangers to us, seemed each to
possess the features of dear and long-lost friends, our feelings could
scarcely be restrained. An intuitive feeling that we might, by some rash
movement, lose the heavenly chance just opening to our view, kept us in
iron bounds. As it was, a sort of hub-bub did ensue, they not
understanding who we were, and we caring for nothing on this near
approach of delivery. But our captain swung himself down by the rope
ladder into the boat, while we eagerly drank in every word of the
precious voices and language we had thought never to hear again, while
he explained our situation. "What, the missing family so long sought
for, so deeply mourned? Now God be praised. Up there four days, battling
it out. Well done! Those blackguards shall have it double-fold. What an
innocent boy with his big hat; who is the pretty child? Is that all her
own hair? I say, which is the Mother? She is tall enough for a
grenadier. Poor things, poor souls; what sufferings, what privations.
All by themselves. Hah! indeed, joined only the last year. Well, we are
heart and soul at their service. Are they all ladies, or some servants?
What rum dresses. They look very picturesque up there, and you,
boatswain, must make a sketch of them for us to take home when we have
settled these pirates. Is that a boy or a girl? she's a whopper if she
is a female. That short one looks cool enough to face any danger. But
don't let us waste more time, we are burning to be at them. How shall we
manage? Blown to pieces in five minutes; I'm blowed if you shall. D----n
those (ah, ladies, I beg pardon). No, no, we will attack them at once.
Too few, not a bit; as if a dozen English sailors could not knock over
two score of pirates, and eat them too. Well, just as you like, only be
quick; as for restraining my men, I shall not be able to do that long,
especially as I know I can't hold in much longer myself."

Such was the disjointed conversation that reached our ears, and which we
drank in with such delight. Our captain swung himself up again, and said
that another boat's crew were expected in a few minutes; and though the
sailors in this boat scouted the notion of not being able to settle the
pirates' business themselves, yet it would be as well to make assurance
doubly sure, on account of the savage nature of the pirates. They might
be driven to desperation when they saw what succour we had received.

_Schillie._--"Captain, you must make haste, they are on board the vessel
and loading the guns; in a few minutes we shall be scattered into a
thousand pieces."

_Captain._--"What I advise is, as there is no time to lose, hold out a
flag of truce, and capitulate."

"Oh no, captain," said many of us.

"You must, indeed you must; make haste. Come, begin to go down at once.
Those devildoms are only too rejoiced they have got their captain's
consent, and are going to lose no time. Come, don't lose your courage at
the last hour, you will be in their power but a few minutes. That's a
sweet brave girl, now she is down you will all go."

[Illustration]

This latter remark was addressed to Serena, whom I tried to grasp as she
lightly sprang down. We all followed, save Schillie and the two
invalids. The pirates shouted with great deafening shouts, and ran
towards us, rudely grasping hold of us as we each descended. We
shuddered and shrieked with horror. The pirate king ran and brought
Schillie down in spite of her struggles. The captain was instantly
seized, and would have been roughly treated, but the sailors, unable to
hear our cries and not help us, shot round the corner like a flash of
lightning, and, ere the pirates were aware of their presence, mixed in
the _mêlée_, cutlass in hand.

Though at first the sailors gained an instantaneous advantage, the
numbers against them were so great and the pirates so desperate, that
much blood must have been shed and a fierce battle fought, but another
boat appeared round the rock, most vigorously propelled, another, and
again another. Now we were saved, God be praised! No more doubts, no
more fears. We withdrew to a sheltered place on the cliffs, thankful,
oh, how thankful God alone can tell. The pirates fled in every
direction, but not before our captain, raising his gun, sent a shot
after the pirate king that put an end to his reign and his love for
ever.



CHAPTER XLV.


An officer was sent to take our wishes, while the other sailors, with
their captain and lieutenants, proceeded to pursue and exterminate the
pirates. The fresh boats' crews being so eager in the chase that they
knew nothing more about us than that some prisoners had been found. The
captain, therefore, politely sent an officer to attend to us, with a
message to say he was too busy to do so himself. We learnt from this
officer that our captain's conjecture was quite true about the pirate
vessel having been chased; and they knew well enough that, once seeing
them, Capt. Bute would scour the sea in search of them.

They made for "YR YNYS UNYG" as a last chance, knowing that few but
themselves were aware that the great Anaconda was dead, and they trusted
that the fear of it would prevent any one from landing on the island.

Their intentions were all frustrated by finding us all perched upon the
rock, and it became a matter of policy to get rid of us somehow. They
were unwilling to harm us at first, wishing to reap a golden harvest by
claiming the rewards for our recovery; but our obstinacy in refusing to
come down drove the pirate captain much beyond his own wishes. Had Capt.
Bute's boats been half an hour later there would have been but little of
our sad remains left. To his eagerness and skill in following the pirate
vessel, and anchoring the Turtle side of the island under cover of the
night, we, humanly speaking, owed our lives. May God be praised for all
his mercies.

Madame and Smart were first to be considered. It was agreed they must
both be taken on board the man-of-war for medical advice. I was to go
with them, and Felix was to accompany me to attend on Smart. The rest
were to be employed in making preparations for our final departure,
besides getting La Luna ready for our once more taking possession of
her.

But we had never been separated before for more than a few hours, and
the leave taking was quite a business. So I promised to return in the
evening, after seeing Madame and Smart comfortable and well cared for.
We must talk over our joys as well as sorrows, and, hearing that there
were some ladies and servants on board, I the more readily agreed to
return. Madame was let down from the rock with great difficulty, utterly
unconscious of anything but her own delicious thoughts.

In Turtle harbour, not a mile from our memorable bay, we found the
ship, and it was with indescribable emotion that I climbed on to her
deck. With the tenderness of women the kind sailors lifted up the
invalids, while I was shewn down into the cabin to beseech the good
offices of the ladies in it. There were two of them; one reclining on a
sofa, hearing a little girl read, whose golden hair hung round her fair
face, as the glory surrounds the cherubim; the other and oldest of the
two was sketching from the cabin window. The lovely fair face of the
recumbent one was raised as I entered.

Why did I start? Have I seen that face before, those calm clear blue
eyes, the delicately-formed nose, the beautiful expression? Be calm, my
heart, beat not so wildly. "Poor woman, she is ill, what is the matter
with her?" said the lady at the window. I knew her too, so well, so
perfectly, I wondered she could speak so calmly to me. I forgot my
strange appearance, my island dress, my grizzled hair, and brow burnt by
the ardent sun.

The younger lady gazed at me, but said nothing. "Pray be seated," said
the sweet soft voice of the sketcher, "you look so ill, I will bring you
some water." The other lady still gazed, was still silent, but she half
rose from her sofa. I could not withdraw my eyes from the well-known
face, but I grasped the kind hand that placed the chair for me, while my
breath laboured under the convulsive swellings of my heart. "She must
be one of the pirate women, and some of her people have been killed,"
said the elder lady. "Pray, Meta speak to her, and don't gaze at her so
fixedly."

I tried to speak, it was impossible. I clung to the one sister, and held
out my hand imploringly to the other. She sprang up, and rushed towards
me. She pushed my hair from my forehead; her colour came and went like
the evening clouds. "Oh, June, June, my sister, my beloved one, it must
be you. I cannot be mistaken. I should know that face through every
change. Speak to me, speak but one word, call me by my name, if only to
ease my heart. My long-lost, my own sister, relieve me, relieve my
bursting heart."

Faintly breathing the word "Meta," I remember no more. I sunk upon the
ground, but I felt loved arms round me, and the bliss of heaven seemed
to take possession of my senses. I awoke to the blessed reality my
loving sisters were near me, they soothed me with sweet words, kissed me
with sisters' kisses, asked nothing, said nothing but endearing
sentences, and suffered my overburdened heart to relieve itself to the
full.

The anxieties and cares of the past years, the fear and anguish of the
last few days, rolled away like a dark cloud from my troubled brain,
while peace, happiness, and rest flooded my heart to overflowing. The
transition from utter misery to perfect bliss seemed too much for me at
first; I had not felt until then the forlorn and hopeless state to which
we had been reduced, and how death in its most dreadful form had nearly
severed all I lived for from the earth they were so formed to enjoy and
ornament. But, it is idle thus to write, joy does not often kill, so
having seen our invalids well cared for, and introduced my lovely little
savage boy to his aunts, my beloved sisters accompanied me back to my
companions. We found the whole of the pirate gang secured, and going on
board La Luna, ah! what joy. The surprise, the ecstasy, the happy
welcome, the boundless joy, the innumerable questions. It is impossible
to describe it.

We found we owed the meeting with our beloved relatives to the following
circumstance:--After my brother's leave was up, and his ship's
commission expired, instead of spending his time at home, he, with Sir
Walter Mayton, chartered a vessel and determined between them to spend
all the time his services were not required by his Queen in searching
for us. My two sisters had begged to accompany them, one with her
husband and children, and my eldest sister to be her companion. The
Esperanza, their vessel, was something similar to La Luna, only larger
and carrying six guns. They had been out six months, when, owing to the
Esperanza requiring some little repairs, the party, consisting of my two
sisters, Mr. J., and the children, accepted Capt. Bute's invitation to
take a little cruise with him. He was in command of her Majesty's S.
H., which had superseded my brother's ship on the piratical coast.

Accidentally coming across the pirates' vessel, Capt. Bute had given
chase, and pursued her so sharply, that, under cover of the night, he
had got the H. into safe anchorage on the lea side of the island without
the pirates' knowledge. The rest of the tale has been told.



CHAPTER XLVI.


And now we were all on board La Luna, Capt. Bute spared us a crew; he
remains behind to settle everything about the island, and to go
afterwards to the other rendezvous of the pirates, there to rescue the
remainder of our crew should they yet survive. Our captain gave him all
particulars where to find it.

But we were not to be separated from our newly found relatives. Oh no!
they came with us. We collected everything we wished to take from the
island; the children's endless parrots, monkeys, shells, and pet things.
Schillie took nothing, but her last act was to stoop down, and take a
lengthened draught from the lovely stream. Florence, my eldest sister,
made sketches of every place interesting to us, and, finally, we bade
adieu to "YR YNYS UNYG." Seated on the deck we saw the lovely island
fade from our sight, with mixed feelings certainly but no regret. We had
none for it, because we could only think of the happiness opening before
us. The lost were found, the deeply-mourned restored, the mother given
back to her little ones, the fondly-loved children to their sorrowing
parents. There was rapture in these thoughts. No wonder that our little
home, our little haven of so many conflicting emotions, faded from our
sight for ever without a tear from any eye.

We were to shape our course so as to fall in with the Esperanza, which
we did in about ten days. During those days fancy alone can paint the
innumerable questions asked, the pang and half fear ere they were
answered. We lived a life time, it seemed, in those ten days.

We had had no opportunity of restoring our pretty La Luna to her
original beauty, therefore we did not wonder (my brother being on board,
and we looking so practical) that the Esperanza bore down upon us in a
menacing and warlike manner.

We submissively struck our colours, and ere long were boarded by my
brother and Sir Walter Mayton. At the request of my sisters we all
remained below, that they might have a little amusement. But it was
hardly possible for us to wait. However, my brother quickly put an end
to the suspense himself; for, in his quick decisive manner, down he came
into the cabin, requesting to see the ship's papers. And, what papers
did he see? The whole party in the cabin! He gave but one look, he
comprehended it all, and, ere I thought it could be him, he had wrapt me
in his arms; he wept with joy and thankfulness, and he could not cease
to gaze at us all with unutterable emotions of pleasure. We forgot Sir
Walter Mayton until we heard his well-known firm tread stamping above,
as if impatient at the Captain's delay. We determined to have a little
amusement with him, and yet not keep him long in suspense. We sent the
two boys up, and watched the effect. He started, and looked keenly at
them, he threw his cigar away, and then we heard his loud cheery voice
say, "Whose boys are you?" They said nothing, but each took hold of a
kind hand, and smiled up in his face.

"Boys, I bid you tell me, who you are," and his voice husky, while we
could see he trembled.

"It is us uncle, dear uncle, here we are all safe," and throwing their
arms round his neck, they half smothered him with kisses, Lilly joining
her brothers.

"But your Mother, my children, are you all safe? have I none to answer
for?" "All safe, quite safe," said I, appearing immediately.

"Ready to thank you for all you have done for us, the weary years we
have been away. For your kind thoughts, your indefatigable exertions, we
are here to thank you, and prove our gratitude by acts as well as
thanks." "Thank God, Thank God," he said. "This hour repays me for all
my care."

And now what happiness, nothing to mar it, but a few gales of wind,
which only blew us nearer to the homes our hearts longed for. Madame was
nearly well, Smart only limped a little, and was in high spirits at
hearing that not only was Mrs. Smart alive and well, but that Jem had
become a young gamekeeper, and they had wanted for nothing during his
absence.

"So you were right Master Felix, about the washing, she has done well at
that," said Smart, "and a mighty good washer she be, sending me out with
shirts as white as any Lord's."

We sailed in company, and it was hard to say which ship contained the
merriest party, La Luna or the Esperanza.

We touched at St. Helena, and there picked up another brother to our
great delight and pleasure.

The ships were gazetted there as the Esperanza and her consort, that the
news of it getting to England before we did might prepare the beloved
family in some degree for what was in store.



THE LAST CHAPTER.


Once more we will return to that pretty drawing-room, and visit the kind
sisters, the grey-headed father, the loving mother.

Her sweet calm face had lost its painful expression; years have gone by;
time has come with its healing wings; she is nearer the hour when a
meeting with the lost ones may be promised her in heaven. One sister is
married and gone. The dark-haired sister is as usual employed in making
brilliant flowers grow beneath her skilful fingers, like the magic work
of the fairies. The pretty face of the other beams with content and
sweetness. The door opens, and the grey-headed Father appears with the
newspapers.

"My dear," says he, "what can this mean? Here is the Esperanza mentioned
on her way home to England with her consort."

_The Mother._--"Oh no, that must be a mistake. She has no consort;
besides we do not expect our Esperanza home for six months at least."

_The Father._--"But you see it is in the ships' news. 'The brig
Esperanza, Capt. C., touched at St. Helena with her consort, and brings
home Capt. C. of the Royal Engineers.'"

_The Mother._--"There really seems no mistake indeed, especially
Bertrand's having joined his brother. I suppose Richard must have
captured some pirate or slaver's vessel. You know he took out a license
to do so."

_The Father._--"Very likely; but still I think we should have seen some
account of the exploit in the papers if he had done so."

_Emily._--"Especially the Esperanza being a private vessel. I really
think, Mama, it must be a mistake."

The door opens, and the best and kindest aunt in the world appears, who,
having no children of her own, opens her large heart, and takes in those
of her only sister's.

_The Aunt._--"Don't be surprised to see me, but my husband has seen in
to-day's paper that the Esperanza is coming home. I thought, sister,
they were to have been absent a year?"

_The Mother._--"So I expected, and we are quite puzzled about it, having
seen the news as well as yourself. I am almost inclined to agree with
Emily that it is a mistake."

_The dear Aunt._--"Then I am miserably disappointed. When I heard it I
was in the greatest hope you would have some news to tell me, so I
ordered Osman and the brougham, and came here so fast that I am quite
in fear for the dear fellow. Cecy, pray let me ask you for a little
bread to give him, and do come down and look at him, he is in such
beauty that Robert is quite proud of him."

So they all went down to look at the beloved horse, and Robert the groom
heard him praised to his heart's content.

_The dear Aunt._--"Well, now then, sister, I will say farewell, but we
will do what you so kindly wish us, and come to-morrow for the whole
week; by this means we shall be on the spot to hear the earliest news if
you get any, for I must own I cannot bear suspense, and my Florence
being in the Esperanza doubles my anxieties."

_The Mother._--"We shall be charmed to see you, dear sister, so, until
then, farewell."

On the morrow, the kind aunt and uncle were not the only visitors.
Little Winny's father and mother, uncle Parry, the "next heir," all came
pouring in, as well as innumerable letters from kind and anxious
friends; but still no news by the post.

They had all seen the report of the Esperanza, and all had flocked to
B----, as head quarters, to learn what had brought her home so much
sooner than was expected. However, they were invited to remain the week
out at that ever open most hospitable mansion.

In the middle of the week came Gatty's beloved parents. Zoë's father and
mother lived so near that they could have daily intercourse; so daily
everybody met, daily everybody talked, and daily everybody agreed that
it was all a mistake, and that this Esperanza was not their Esperanza.

The summer is coming on rapidly. It is the 2nd of June, the golden
laburnums hang their rich pendant clusters over the fragrant lilacs, all
nature seemed rejoicing, and every tree had its living chorus, for no
noisy gun or treacherous snare was ever heard or seen in that pretty
garden.

"I don't mean to stay in the house this lovely evening," said Gatty's
father. "Come Emily, come Julie, let us sit out on the lawn, and smell
the fresh wholesome scent of the earth, and hear this delightful evening
hymn of the birds. But do you expect company? Here is a carriage, and
surely another behind it. No! it stops. But do my eyes deceive me? Who
is in this first carriage? The dear crew of the Esperanza! Welcome,
welcome. Bertrand too. My dear girls how well you look. Ah, Sir Walter,
welcome, welcome home."

They are clasped in the arms of everybody, and welcomed home, as those
who go to B---- are generally welcomed. The new brother also, after six
years' absence in New Zealand. Everybody seems overwhelmed with delight
and pleasure. Whatever curiosity, whatever wonder, whatever fear might
have run through the heart of each at seeing the beloved crew of the
Esperanza so much sooner than was expected, all was now swallowed up in
the joy of seeing them.

The old and valued servants crowded to meet them, and congratulate them
on their safe return. "My goodness me," said Anne, the housekeeper,
after she had made her courtesies and said her say, "if the great gates
are not open and the beggars coming in. Oh, Thomas, (turning to the dear
aunt's servant) whatever must we do, what a queer set. Be off, good
people. I must see for some men to turn them out. I don't think really
that they can be anything respectable. None of our people would peep and
look in like that. I cannot make them out at all, Thomas. They have a
look about them anyways but respectable."

_Thomas._--"To be sure, Anne, they look Furrineers, and they never is so
neat and trim as our people."

_Anne._--"Furrineers, then, Thomas, help me to turn them out, we wants
nothing but English here. Be off, good people, be off, we harbours no
vermin here. Eh, but they're a strange set."

My brother ran to her. "Don't disturb those people, Anne, they are very
good people," said he.

_Anne._--"But so unmannerly, Mr. Bertrand, coming in at such a
particklar time."

_Mr. Bertrand._--"Never mind, Anne, they are friends of mine."

_Anne._--"Friends of yours, oh, indeed, Sir; well we did not know that,
Thomas, did we? and how could we guess, so queer as they look. Surely
now Mr. Bernard, you have never been and gone and brought home some New
Zealand savages?"

_Mr. Bertrand._--"Yes, Anne, I have, and that tall woman in the hat is
to be my wife."

_Anne._--"Oh my goodness me, Mr. Bertrand, none of your jokes to me if
you please, Sir. I don't believe a word you say, Sir, and the more I
look at them people the more I am sure they are no friends of yours,
Sir. Such outlandish folk, in them big hats and those long bed-gownish
things, they are not respectable. I must----"

_Mr. Bertrand._--"Hush, hush, Anne, they are dear friends of mine; wait,
wait just a few minutes; hearken now to what my brother says to your
master."

With trembling voice the dear brother was making the aged Father
understand; Meta threw herself sobbing with delight into the arms of the
long-mourning Mother, trying to tell her of the joy that yet remained to
be told; Florence, with sweet touching voice, was preparing the dear
enthusiastic aunt. Everybody was beginning to feel and know that there
was something still to tell, some event yet to occur, something much
beyond what they had yet felt or experienced. But who could look in the
agitated faces of the travellers and not see that it was joy which so
overcame them? Who could see the radiant smiles shining through the
irrepressible tears and not feel a thrill of happiness shoot through
them?

And the poor beggars at the great gate, why were they in tears? why so
agitated? Oh, make haste, they cannot wait much longer, their impatience
is boundless. Think how many years they have been deprived of the sight
of those sweet faces, the hearing those dear voices, the feeling those
soft kisses. Gatty, Gatty, startle not your Father so, restrain your
impatience; he wonders now. Who calls, that wild and passionate "Papa,
Papa." Just a few short moments to wait. See, see, my Mother's eyes; she
must know now, she is prepared. Almost before the signal is given,
before the arms are open, Zoë rushes to her Mother. Winny, Schillie,
Gatty (the first of all, with a bound like an antelope) all fly to their
own people, and we three, Sybil, Serena, and I, into whose arms we fell
I know not; I remember nothing, I can tell nothing but that I heard my
grey-headed Father, in a low, distinct, and solemn manner, say--

"Now, Lord, lettest Thou Thy servant depart this life in peace."


FINIS.



Transcriber's Endnotes:

    The original publication contained many typographical errors. Minor
    misprints have been corrected without note, however the following
    amendments deserve further note:

    Chapter Titles

        The original sequence skipped the numbers 10, 26, 31, 37, 38
        whilst using 39 twice. With no discrepancy in the page numbers,
        the chapters have been renumbered to avoid confusion.

    Hargrave/Havord

        The character initially introduced as Hargrave is referred to
        as Havord from Chapter XXIX to part-way through Chapter XXXVI.
        In light of the poor typography throughout the book, all
        instances of Havord have been changed to Hargrave.





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