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The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont By Louis de Rougemont Characters: 33401

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


On the wreck-Efforts to kindle a fire-My flagstaff-Clothing impossible-Growing corn in turtles' blood-My house of pearl shells-How the pelicans fished for me-Stung by a "sting-rae"-My amusements-A peculiar clock-Threatened madness-I begin to build a boat-An appalling blunder-Riding on turtles-Preaching to Bruno-Canine sympathy-A sail-How I got fresh water-Sending messages by the pelicans-A wonderful almanac-A mysterious voice of hope-Human beings at last.

That morning I made my breakfast off raw sea-gulls' eggs, but was unable to get anything to drink. Between nine and ten o'clock, as the tide was then very low, I was delighted to find that it was possible to reach the wreck by walking along the rocks. So, scrambling aboard, I collected as many things as I could possibly transfer ashore. I had to take dangerous headers into the cabin, as the whole ship's interior was now full of water, but all I could manage to secure were a tomahawk and my bow and arrows, which had been given me by the Papuans. I had always taken a keen interest in archery, by the way, and had made quite a name for myself in this direction long before I left Switzerland. I also took out a cooking-kettle. All these seemingly unimportant finds were of vital importance in the most literal sense of the phrase, particularly the tomahawk and the bow, which were in after years my very salvation time after time.

I was very delighted when I secured my bow and arrows, for I knew that with them I could always be certain of killing sea-fowl for food. There was a stock of gunpowder on board and a number of rifles and shot-guns, but as the former was hopelessly spoiled, I did not trouble about either. With my tomahawk I cut away some of the ship's woodwork, which I threw overboard and let drift to land to serve as fuel. When I did eventually return to my little island, I unravelled a piece of rope, and then tried to produce fire by rubbing two pieces of wood smartly together amidst the inflammable material. It was a hopeless business, however; a full half-hour's friction only made the sticks hot, and rub as hard as I would I could not produce the faintest suspicion of a spark. I sat down helplessly, and wondered how the savages I had read of ever got fire in this way.

Up to this time I had not built myself a shelter of any kind. At night I simply slept in the open air on the sand, with only my blankets round me. One morning I was able to get out of the vessel some kegs of precious water, a small barrel of flour, and a quantity of tinned foods. All these, together with some sails, spars, and ropes, I got safely ashore, and in the afternoon I rigged myself up a sort of canvas awning as a sleeping-place, using only some sails and spars.

Among the things I brought from the ship on a subsequent visit were a stiletto that had originally been given to me by my mother. It was an old family relic with a black ebony handle and a finely tempered steel blade four or five inches in length. I also got a stone tomahawk-a mere curio, obtained from the Papuans; and a quantity of a special kind of wood, also taken on board at New Guinea. This wood possessed the peculiar property of smouldering for hours when once ignited, without actually bursting into flame. We took it on board because it made such good fuel.

As the most urgent matter was to kindle a fire, I began experiments with my two weapons, striking the steel tomahawk against the stone one over a heap of fluffy material made by unravelling and teasing out a piece of blanket. Success attended my patient efforts this time, and to my inexpressible relief and joy I soon had a cheerful fire blazing alongside my improvised shelter-and, what is more, I took good care never to let it go out during the whole lime I remained a prisoner on the island. The fire was always my first thought, and night and day it was kept at least smouldering by means of the New Guinea wood I have already mentioned, and of which I found a large stock on board. The ship itself, I should mention, provided me with all the fuel that was required in the ordinary way, and, moreover, I was constantly finding pieces of wreckage along the shore that had been gathered in by the restless waves. Often-oh! often-I reflected with a shudder what my fate would have been had the ship gone down in deep water, leaving me safe, but deprived of all the stores she contained. The long, lingering agony, the starvation, the madness of thirst, and finally a horrible death on that far-away strip of sand, and another skeleton added to that grisly pile!

The days passed slowly by. In what part of the world I was located I had not the remotest idea. I felt that I was altogether out of the beaten track of ships because of the reefs that studded these seas, and therefore the prospect of my being rescued was very remote indeed-a thought that often caused me a kind of dull agony, more terrible than any mere physical pain.

However, I fixed up a flagstaff on the highest point of the island-(poor "island,"-that was not many inches)-and floated an ensign upside down from it, in the hope that this signal of distress might be sighted by some stray vessel, and indicate the presence of a castaway to those on board. Every morning I made my way to the flagstaff, and scanned the horizon for a possible sail, but I always had to come away disappointed. This became a habit; yet, so eternal is hope, that day by day, week by week, and month by month the bitter disappointment was always a keen torture. By the way, the very reefs that made those seas so dangerous served completely to protect my little island in stormy weather. The fury of the billows lost itself upon them, so that even the surf very rarely reached me. I was usually astir about sunrise. I knew that the sun rose about 6 A.M. in those tropical seas and set at 6 P.M.; there was very little variation all the year round. A heavy dew descended at night, which made the air delightfully cool; but in the day it was so frightfully hot that I could not bear the weight of ordinary clothes upon my person, so I took to wearing a silk shawl instead, hung loosely round my waist.

Another reason why I abandoned clothes was because I found that when a rent appeared the sun blazed down through it and raised a painful blister. On the other hand, by merely wearing a waist-cloth, and taking constant sea baths, I suffered scarcely at all from the scorching tropical sun. I now devoted all my energies to the wreck of the Veielland, lest anything should happen to it, and worked with feverish energy to get everything I possibly could out of the ship. It took me some months to accomplish this, but eventually I had removed everything-even the greater part of the cargo of pearl shells. The work was rendered particularly arduous in consequence of the decks being so frequently under water; and I found it was only at the full and new moons that I could actually walk round on the rocks to the wreck. In course of time the ship began to break up, and I materially assisted the operation with an axe. I wanted her timbers to build a boat in which to escape.

The casks of flour I floated ashore were very little the worse for their immersion; in fact, the water had only soaked through to the depth of a couple of inches, forming a kind of protecting wet crust, and leaving the inner part perfectly dry and good. Much of this flour, however, was afterwards spoiled by weevils; nor did my spreading out the precious grain in the sunlight on tarpaulins and sails save it from at least partial destruction. I also brought ashore bags of beans, rice, and maize; cases of preserved milk and vegetables, and innumerable other articles of food, besides some small casks of oil and rum. In fact, I stripped the ship's interior of everything, and at the end of nine months very little remained of her on the rocks but the bare skeleton of the hull. I moved all the things out day by day according to the tides.

In a large chest that came ashore from the captain's cabin I found a stock of all kinds of seeds, and I resolved to see whether I could grow a little corn. Jensen himself had put the seeds aboard in order to plant them on some of the islands near which we might be compelled to anchor for some length of time. Another object was to grow plants on board for the amusement of the Malays. The seeds included vegetables, flowers, and Indian corn, the last named being in the cob. The Malays are very fond of flowers, and the captain told them that they might try and cultivate some in boxes on board; but when he saw that this would mean an additional drain upon his supply of fresh water he withdrew the permission. I knew that salt water would not nourish plants, and I was equally certain I could not spare fresh water from my own stock for this purpose.

Nevertheless, I set my wits to work, and at length decided upon an interesting experiment. I filled a large turtle shell with sand and a little clay, and thoroughly wetted the mixture with turtle's blood, then stirring the mass into a puddle and planting corn in it.

The grain quickly sprouted, and flourished so rapidly, that within a very short time I was able to transplant it-always, however, nourishing it with the blood of turtles. This most satisfactory result induced me to extend my operation, and I soon had quaint little crops of maize and wheat growing in huge turtle shells; the wheat-plants, however, did not reach maturity.

For a long time I was content with the simple awning I have described as a place of shelter, but when I began to recover the pearl shells from the ship, it occurred to me that I might use them as material with which to build some kind of a hut. Altogether there were about thirty tons of pearl shells on board, and at first I took to diving for them merely as a sort of pastime.

I spent many weeks getting enough shells ashore to build a couple of parallel walls, each about seven feet high, three feet thick, and ten feet in length. The breeze blew gratefully through them. I filled the interstices of these walls with a puddle of clayey sand and water, covered in the top with canvas, and made quite a comfortable living-place out of it. The walls at any rate had a high commercial value! When the wet season set in I built a third wall at one end, and erected a sort of double awning in front, under which I always kept my fire burning. I also put a straw thatch over the hut, proudly using my own straw which I had grown with blood.

In course of time I made myself crude articles of furniture, including a table, some chairs, a bed, &c. My bedding at first consisted of sails, but afterwards I was able to have a mattress filled with straw from my corn patch. The kettle I had saved from the wreck was for a long time my only cooking utensil, so when I had anything to prepare I generally made an oven in the sand, after the manner of the natives I had met on the New Guinea main. I could always catch plenty of fish-principally mullet; and as for sea-fowls, all that I had to do was walk over to that part of the island where they were feeding and breeding, and knock them over with a stick. I made dough-cakes from the flour whilst it lasted; and I had deputies to fish for me-I mean the hundreds of pelicans. The birds who had little ones to feed went out in the morning, and returned in the afternoon, with from three to ten pounds of delicious fresh fish in their curious pouches.

On alighting on the island they emptied their pouches on the sand-too often, I must confess, solely for my benefit. Selfish bachelor birds on returning with full pouches jerked their catch into the air, and so swallowed it. It used to amuse me, however, to watch a robber gull, perched on their back, cleverly and neatly intercepting the fish as it ascended. These fish, with broiled turtle meat and tinned fruits, made quite a sumptuous repast.

After breakfast I would have a swim when the tide was low and there was no likelihood of sharks being about. A run along the beach in the sun until I was dry followed, and then I returned to my awning and read aloud to myself in English, from my medical books and my English-French Testament, simply for the pleasure of hearing my own voice. I was a very good linguist in those days, and spoke English particularly well long before I left Switzerland. After breakfast, my dog and I would go out to catch a peculiar sort of fish called the "sting-rae." These curious creatures have a sharp bony spike about two inches in length near the tail and this I found admirably adapted for arrow-heads. The body of the fish resembled a huge flounder, but the tail was long and tapering. They would come close in-shore, and I would spear them from the rocks with a Papuan fishing-spear. The smallest I ever caught weighed fifteen pounds, and I could never carry home more than a couple of average weight. They have the power of stinging, I believe, electrically, hence their name. At all events, I was once stung by one of these fish, and it was an experience I shall never forget. It fortunately happened at a time when some friendly blacks were at hand, otherwise I question very much whether I should be alive to-day.

I was wading slowly along the beach in rather deep water, when I suddenly felt a most excruciating pain in my left ankle. It seemed as though I had just received a paralysing shock from a powerful battery, and down I fell in a state of absolute collapse, unable to stir a finger to save myself, although I knew I was rapidly drowning. Fortunately the blacks who were with me came and pulled me ashore, where I slowly recovered. There was only a slight scratch on my ankle, but for a long time my whole body was racked with pain, and when the natives got to know of the symptoms they told me that I had been attacked by a "sting-rae." The spike or sting measures from two to six inches in length according to the size of the fish.

But to return to my solitary life on the island. The flesh of the sting-rae was not pleasant to eat, being rather tough and tasteless, so I used it as a bait for sharks. Turtles visited the island in great numbers, and deposited their eggs in holes made in the sand above high-water mark. They only came on land during the night, at high tide; and whenever I wanted a special delicacy, I turned one over on its back till morning, when I despatched it leisurely with my tomahawk. The creatures' shells I always devoted to the extension of my garden, which became very large, and eventually covered fully two-thirds of the island. The maize and cob-corn flourished remarkably well, and I generally managed to get three crops in the course of a year. The straw came in useful for bedding purposes, but as I found the sand-flies and other insects becoming more and more troublesome whilst I lay on the ground, I decided to try a hammock. I made one out of shark's hide, and slung it in my hut, when I found that it answered my purpose splendidly.

The great thing was to ward off the dull agony, the killing depression, and manias generally. Fortunately I was of a very active disposition, and as a pastime I took to gymnastics, even as I had at Montreux. I became a most proficient tumbler and acrobat, and could turn two or three somersaults on dashing down from the sloping roof of my pearl-shell hut; besides, I became a splendid high jumper, with and without the pole. Another thing I interested myself in was the construction of a sun-dial.

Indeed, I spent many hours devising some means whereby I could fashion a reliable "clock," and at last I worked out the principle of the sun-dial on the sand. I fixed a long stick perfectly upright in the ground, and then marked off certain spaces round it by means of pegs and pearl shells. I calculated the hours according to the length of the shadows cast by the sun.

But, in spite of all that I could do to interest or amuse myself, I was frequently overwhelmed with fits of depression and despair, and more than once I feared I should lose my mental balance and become a maniac. A religious craze took possession of me, and, strive as I might, I could not keep my mind from dwelling upon certain apparent discrepancies in the various apostles' versions of the Gospel!

I found myself constantly brooding over statements made in one form by St. Matthew, and in another by St. Luke; and I conjured up endless theological arguments and theories, until I was driven nearly frantic. Much as I regretted it, I was compelled at last to give up reading my New Testament, and by the exercise of a strong will I forced myself to think about something tot

ally different.

It took me a long time to overcome this religious melancholia, but I mastered it in the long run, and was greatly delighted when I found I could once more read without being hypercritical and doubtful of everything. Had I been cast on a luxuriant island, growing fruits and flowers, and inhabited at least by animals-how different would it have been! But here there was nothing to save the mind from madness-merely a tiny strip of sand, invisible a few hundred yards out at sea.

When the fits of depression came upon me I invariably concluded that life was unbearable, and would actually rush into the sea, with the deliberate object of putting an end to myself. At these times my agony of mind was far more dreadful that any degree of physical suffering could have been, and death seemed to have a fascination for me that I could not resist. Yet when I found myself up to my neck in water, a sudden revulsion of feeling would come over me, and instead of drowning myself I would indulge in a swim or a ride on a turtle's back by way of diverting my thoughts into different channels.

Bruno always seemed to understand when I had an attack of melancholia, and he would watch my every movement. When he saw me rushing into the water, he would follow at my side barking and yelling like a mad thing, until he actually made me forget the dreadful object I had in view. And we would perhaps conclude by having a swimming race. These fits of depression always came upon me towards evening, and generally about the same hour.

In spite of the apparent hopelessness of my position, I never relinquished the idea of escaping from the island some day, and accordingly I started building a boat within a month of my shipwreck.

Not that I knew anything whatever about boat-building; but I was convinced that I could at least make a craft of some sort that would float. I set to work with a light heart, but later on paid dearly for my ignorance in bitter, bitter disappointment and impotent regrets. For one thing, I made the keel too heavy; then, again, I used planks that were absurdly thick for the shell, though, of course, I was not aware of these things at the time. The wreck, of course, provided me with all the woodwork I required. In order to make the staves pliable, I soaked them in water for a week, and then heated them over a fire, afterwards bending them to the required shape. At the end of nine months of unremitting labour, to which, latterly, considerable anxiety-glorious hopes and sickening fears-was added, I had built what I considered a substantial and sea-worthy sailing boat, fully fifteen feet long by four feet wide. It was a heavy ungainly looking object when finished, and it required much ingenuity on my part to launch it. This I eventually managed, however, by means of rollers and levers; but the boat was frightfully low in the water at the stern. It was quite watertight though, having an outer covering of sharks' green hide, well smeared with Stockholm tar, and an inside lining of stout canvas. I also rigged up a mast, and made a sail. When my boat floated I fairly screamed aloud with wild delight, and sympathetic Bruno jumped and yelped in unison.

But when all my preparations were complete, and I had rowed out a little way, I made a discovery that nearly drove me crazy. I found I had launched the boat in a sort of lagoon several miles in extent, barred by a crescent of coral rocks, over which I could not possibly drag my craft into the open sea. Although the water covered the reefs at high tide it was never of sufficient depth to allow me to sail the boat over them. I tried every possible opening, but was always arrested at some point or other. After the first acute paroxysm of despair-beating my head with my clenched fists-I consoled myself with the thought that when the high tides came, they would perhaps lift the boat over that terrible barrier. I waited, and waited, and waited, but alas! only to be disappointed. My nine weary months of arduous travail and half-frantic anticipation were cruelly wasted. At no time could I get the boat out into the open sea in consequence of the rocks, and it was equally impossible for me unaided to drag her back up the steep slope again and across the island, where she could be launched opposite an opening in the encircling reefs. So there my darling boat lay idly in the lagoon-a useless thing, whose sight filled me with heartache and despair. And yet, in this very lagoon I soon found amusement and pleasure. When I had in some measure got over the disappointment about the boat, I took to sailing her about in the lagoon. I also played the part of Neptune in the very extraordinary way I have already indicated. I used to wade out to where the turtles were, and on catching a big six-hundred-pounder, I would calmly sit astride on his back.

Away would swim the startled creature, mostly a foot or so below the surface. When he dived deeper I simply sat far back on the shell, and then he was forced to come up. I steered my queer steeds in a curious way. When I wanted my turtle to turn to the left, I simply thrust my foot into his right eye, and vice versa for the contrary direction. My two big toes placed simultaneously over both his optics caused a halt so abrupt as almost to unseat me. Sometimes I would go fully a mile out to sea on one of these strange steeds. It always frightened them to have me astride, and in their terror they swam at a tremendous pace until compelled to desist through sheer exhaustion.

Before the wet season commenced I put a straw thatch on the roof of my hut, as before stated, and made my quarters as snug as possible. And it was a very necessary precaution, too, for sometimes it rained for days at a stretch. The rain never kept me indoors, however, and I took exercise just the same, as I didn't bother about clothes, and rather enjoyed the shower bath. I was always devising means of making life more tolerable, and amongst other things I made a sort of swing, which I found extremely useful in beguiling time. I would also practise jumping with long poles. One day I captured a young pelican, and trained him to accompany me in my walks and assist me in my fishing operations. He also acted as a decoy. Frequently I would hide myself in some grass, whilst my pet bird walked a few yards away to attract his fellows. Presently he would be joined by a whole flock, many of which I lassoed, or shot with my bow and arrows.

But for my dog-my almost human Bruno-I think I must have died. I used to talk to him precisely as though he were a human being. We were absolutely inseparable. I preached long sermons to him from Gospel texts. I told him in a loud voice all about my early life and school-days at Montreux; I recounted to him all my adventures, from the fatal meeting with poor Peter Jensen in Singapore, right up to the present; I sang little chansons to him, and among these he had his favourites as well as those he disliked cordially. If he did not care for a song, he would set up a pitiful howl. I feel convinced that this constant communing aloud with my dog saved my reason. Bruno seemed always to be in such good spirits that I never dreamed of anything happening to him; and his quiet, sympathetic companionship was one of the greatest blessings I knew throughout many weird and terrible years. As I talked to him he would sit at my feet, looking so intelligently at me that I fancied he understood every word of what I was saying.

When the religious mania was upon me, I talked over all sorts of theological subjects with my Bruno, and it seemed to relieve me, even though I never received any enlightenment from him upon the knotty point that would be puzzling me at that particular time. What delighted him most of all was for me to tell him that I loved him very dearly, and that he was even more valuable to me than the famous dogs of St. Bernard were to benighted travellers in the snow.

I knew very little about musical instruments, but as I had often longed for something to make a noise with, if only to drown the maddening crash of the eternal surf, I fashioned a drum out of a small barrel, with sharks' skin stretched tightly over the open ends. This I beat with a couple of sticks as an accompaniment to my singing, and as Bruno occasionally joined in with a howl of disapproval or a yell of joy, the effect must have been picturesque if not musical. I was ready to do almost anything to drown that ceaseless cr-ash, cr-ash of the breakers on the beach, from whose melancholy and monotonous roar I could never escape for a single moment throughout the whole of the long day. However, I escaped its sound when I lay down to sleep at night by a very simple plan. As I was stone-deaf in the right ear I always slept on the left side.

Seven weary months had passed away, when one morning, on scanning the horizon, I suddenly leaped into the air and screamed: "My God! A sail! A sail!" I nearly became delirious with excitement, but, alas! the ship was too far out to sea to notice my frantic signals. My island lay very low, and all that I could make out of the vessel in the distance was her sails. She must have been fully five miles away, yet, in my excitement, I ran up and down the miserable beach, shouting in a frenzy and waving my arms in the hope of attracting the attention of some one on board; but it was all in vain. The ship, which I concluded was a pearler, kept steadily on her way, and eventually disappeared below the horizon.

Never can I hope to describe the gnawing pain at my heart as, hoarse and half mad, I sank exhausted on the sand, watching the last vestige of the ship disappearing. Altogether, I saw five ships pass in this way during my sojourn on the island, but they were always too far out at sea to notice my signals. One of these vessels I knew to be a man-o'-war flying the British ensign. I tried to rig up a longer flag-staff, as I thought the original one not high enough for its purpose. Accordingly I spliced a couple of long poles together, but to my disappointment found them too heavy to raise in the air. Bruno always joined in my enthusiasm when a sail was in sight; in fact, he was generally the first to detect it, and he would bark and drag at me until he had drawn my attention to the new hope. And I loved him for his tender sympathy in my paroxysms of regret and disappointment. The hairy head would rub coaxingly against my arm, the warm tongue licking my hand, and the faithful brown eyes gazing at me with a knowledge and sympathy that were more than human-these I feel sure saved me again and again. I might mention that, although my boat was absolutely useless for the purpose of escape, I did not neglect her altogether, but sailed her about the enclosed lagoon by way of practice in the handling of her sails. This was also a welcome recreation.

I never feared a lack of fresh water, for when, in the dry season, the ship's stock and my reserve from the wet season were exhausted, I busied myself with the condensing of sea water in my kettle, adding to my store literally drop by drop. Water was the only liquid I drank, all the tea and coffee carried on board having been rendered utterly useless.

The powerful winged birds that abounded on the island one day gave me an idea: Why not hang a message around their necks and send them forth into the unknown? Possibly they might bring help-who knows? And with me to conceive was to act. I got a number of empty condensed-milk tins, and, by means of fire, separated from the cylinder the tin disc that formed the bottom. On this disc I scratched a message with a sharp nail. In a few words I conveyed information about the wreck and my deplorable condition. I also gave the approximate bearings-latitude fifteen to thirteen degrees, not far from the Australian main.

These discs-I prepared several in English, French, bad Dutch, German, and Italian-I then fastened round the necks of the pelicans, by means of fish-gut, and away across the ocean sped the affrighted birds, so scared by the mysterious encumbrance that they never returned to the island.

I may say here that more than twenty years later, when I returned to civilisation, I chanced to mention the story about my messenger-birds to some old inhabitants at Fremantle, Western Australia, when, to my amazement, they told me that a pelican carrying a tin disc round its neck, bearing a message in French from a castaway, had been found many years previously by an old boatman on the beach near the mouth of the Swan River. But it was not mine.

So appalling was the monotony, and so limited my resources, that I welcomed with childish glee any trifling little incident that happened. For example, one lovely night in June I was amazed to hear a tremendous commotion outside, and on getting up to see what was the matter, I beheld dimly countless thousands of birds-Java sparrows I believe them to be. I went back to bed again, and in the morning was a little dismayed to find that my pretty visitors had eaten up nearly all my green corn. And the birds were still there when I went forth in the morning. They made the air ring with their lively chatter, but the uproar they made was as music to me. The majority of them had greyish-yellow bodies, with yellow beaks and pink ruffs, and they were not at all afraid of me. I moved about freely among them, and did not attempt to drive them out of my corn patch, being only too grateful to see so much life about me. They rose, however, in great clouds the next day, much to my regret, and as they soared heavenwards I could not help envying them their blessed freedom.

I kept count of the long days by means of pearl shells, for I had not used up the whole cargo in the walls of my hut. I put shells side by side in a row, one for each day, until the number reached seven, and then I transferred one shell to another place, representing the weeks. Another pile of shells represented the months; and as for the years, I kept count of those by making notches on my bow. My peculiar calendar was always checked by the moon.

Now, I am not a superstitious man, so I relate the following extraordinary occurrence merely as it happened, and without advancing any theory of my own to account for it. I had been many, many months-perhaps more than a year-on that terrible little sand-spit, and on the night I am describing I went to bed as usual, feeling very despondent. As I lay asleep in my hammock, I dreamed a beautiful dream. Some spiritual being seemed to come and bend over me, smiling pityingly. So extraordinarily vivid was the apparition, that I suddenly woke, tumbled out of my hammock, and went outside on a vague search. In a few minutes, however, I laughed at my own folly and turned in again.

I lay there for some little time longer, thinking about the past-for I dared not dwell on the future-when suddenly the intense stillness of the night was broken by a strangely familiar voice, which said, distinctly and encouragingly, "Je suis avec toi. Soit sans peur. Tu reviendras." I can never hope to describe my feelings at that moment.

It was not the voice of my father nor of my mother, yet it was certainly the voice of some one I knew and loved, yet was unable to identify. The night was strangely calm, and so startling was this mysterious message that instinctively I leaped out of my hammock again, went outside and called out several times, but, of course, nothing happened. From that night, however, I never absolutely despaired, even when things looked their very worst.

Two interminable years had passed away, when one day the weather suddenly changed, and a terrible gale commenced to blow, which threatened almost to wreck my little hut. One morning, a few days later, when the storm had abated somewhat, I heard Bruno barking wildly on the beach. A few seconds afterwards he came rushing into the hut, and would not rest until I prepared to follow him outside. Before doing so, however, I picked up an oar-I knew not why. I then followed my dog down to the beach, wondering what could possibly have caused him to make such a fuss. The sea was somewhat agitated, and as it was not yet very light, I could not clearly distinguish things in the distance.

On peering seawards for the third or fourth time, however, I fancied I could make out a long, black object, which I concluded must be some kind of a boat, tossing up and down on the billows. Then I must confess I began to share Bruno's excitement,-particularly when a few minutes later I discerned a well-made catamaran, with several human figures lying prostrate upon it!

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