Page images

7. Thus poorly equipped, these four sailors reached the island, little thinking what they were to endure while they remained on it. After exploring some small part of the country, they discovered the hut they were in pursuit of, at the distance of about an English mile and a half from the shore.

8. Its length was thirty-six feet, and its height and breadth eighteen. It consisted of a small anti-chamber about twelve feet broad, having two doors, the one to exclude the outer air, and the other to form a communication with the inner room. This contributed not a little to keep the larger room warm when it was once heated.

9. They found in the large room an earthen stove, constructed in the Russian manner. They rejoiced exceedingly at this discovery, though they found the hut had suffered very much from the severity of the weather, it having been built a considerable time. However, they contrived to make it supportable for that night.

10. The next morning early, they repaired to the shore, in order to acquaint their comrades* with their success, and also to get from the vessel such provisions, ammunition and other necessaries, as might, in some measure, enable them to struggle with the approaching winter.

11. But what pen can properly describe the terrible situation of their minds, when, coming to the place at which they landed, they discovered nothing but an open sea, clear of all ice, though, but a day before, it had covered the ocean! During the night, a violent storm had arisen, which had been the cause of this change of appearance in the


12. Whether the ice, which had before surrounded the vessel, being put in motion by the violence of the winds and waves, had crushed the ship to pieces, or whether she had been carried by the current into the main ocean, it was impossible for them to determine.

13. However, they saw the ship no more; and, as she was never afterwards heard of, it is most likely that she went to the bottom with every soul on board. This dreadful event deprived the poor, unhappy wretches of all hopes of ever again seeing their native country.

* Pronounced kŭm'rădz.

14. They returned to their hut, and there bewailed their deplorable lot, more, perhaps, to be pitied, than those who were buried in the bosom of the deep. Their thoughts were, of course, first directed to procure subsistence, and to repair their hut.

15. Their twelve charges of powder and shot soon procured them as many raindeer, of which there fortunately happened to be many on the island. They then set about repairing their hut, and filled up all the crevices, through which the air found its way, with the moss that grew there in plenty.

16. As it was impossible to live in that climate without fire, and as no wood grew upon the island, they were much alarmed on that account. However, in their wanderings over the beach, they met with plenty of wood, which had been driven on shore by the waves.

17. This principally consisted of the wrecks of ships; but sometimes whole trees with their roots came on shore, the undoubted produce of some more hospitable clime, which were washed from their native soil by the overflowing of rivers, or some other accident.

18. As soon as their powder and shot were exhausted, they began to be in dread of perishing with hunger; but good fortune, and their own ingenuity, to which necessity always gives a spur, removed these dreadful apprehensions. In the course of their traversing the beach, they one day discovered some boards, in which were large hooks and nails in abundance.

19. By the assistance of these, they made spears and arrows; and, from a yew tree, which had been thrown on shore by the waves, they formed plenty of bows. With these weapons, during the time of their continuance on the island, they killed upwards of two hundred and fifty raindeer, besides a great number of blue and white foxes.

20. The flesh of these animals served them for food, and their skins were equally useful in supplying them with warm clothing. The number of white bears they killed was only ten; for these animals, being very strong, defended themselves with great vigour and fury, and even ventured to make their appearance frequently at the door of their

hut, from whence they were driven with some difficulty and danger.

21. Thus these three different sorts of animals were the only food of these miserable mariners during their long and dreary abode on this island.

22. The intenseness of the cold, and the want of proper conveniences, rendered it impossible for them to cook their victuals properly, so that they were obliged to eat their provisions almost raw, and without bread or salt.

23. There was but one stove in the hut, and that, being in the Russian manner, was not proper for boiling. However, to remedy this inconvenience as much as possible, they dried some of their provisions, during the summer, in the open air, and then hung them up in the upper part of the hut, which being continually filled with smoke, they thus became thoroughly dried.

[ocr errors]

24. This they used instead of bread, which made them relish their half-boiled meat the better. They procured their water in summer from the rivulets that fell from the rocks; and, in the winter, from snow and ice thawed. This was their only drink; and their small kettle was the only convenience they had to make use of for this and many other purposes.

25. As it was necessary to keep up a continual fire, they were particularly cautious not to let the light be extinguished; for, though they had both steel and flints, yet they had no tinder; and it would have been a terrible thing to be without light in a climate where darkness reigns so many months during the winter.

26. They therefore fashioned a kind of lamp, which they filled with raindeer fat, and stuck into it some twisted linen, shaped in the form of a wick. After many trials, they at last brought their lamp to complete perfection, and kept it burning, without intermission, from the day they first made it, till they embarked for their native country.

27. They also found themselves in want of shoes, boots, and other necessary articles of dress, for all which they found wonderful resources in that genius to which necessity gives birth.

28. Having lived more than six years upon this dreary.

and inhospitable island, a ship happened to arrive there, which took three of them on board, and carried them back to their native country. The fourth man was seized with the scurvy, and being naturally indolent, and not using proper exercise, he died, after lingering for some time, when his companions buried him in the snow.


Mary. AUNT BETTY, why are you always mending that old picture?

Aunt Betty. Old picture! miss, and pray who told you to call it an old picture?

Mary. Pray, aunt, is it not an old picture? I am sure it looks ragged enough.

Aunt B. And pray, niece, is it not ten times more valuable on that account? I wish I could ever make you entertain a proper respect for your family.

Mary. Do I not respect the few that remain of them, and yourself among the rest? But what has that old-what shall I call it, to do with our family?

Aunt B. It is our family coat-of-arms; the only document which remains to establish the nobility and purity of our blood.

Mary. What is purity of blood, aunt? I am sure I have heard Mrs. Pimpleton say your complexion was almost orange, and she believed it arose from some impurity of the blood.

Aunt B. Tut, tut! you hussy, I am sure my complexion will not suffer by a comparison with any of the Pimpleton race. But that is neither here nor there it matters not what the complexion is, or the present state of the blood, provided the source is pure. Do people drink the less water because it filtrates through clay?

Mary. But what is pure and noble blood, aunt?

Aunt B. Blood, my dear, which has proceeded from some

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

great and celebrated man through the veins of many generations, without any mixture with vulgar blood.

Mary. Then whom did we proceed from, aunt Betty?

Aunt B. From Sir Gregory Mc Grincell, who lived in the time of Elizabeth, and left sons a dozen, from the youngest of whom, James Mc Grincell, gentleman, we are descended.

Mary. What does a gentleman mean, aunt?

Aunt B. It means one who has too high a sense of his ancestry to engage in any of what are vulgarly called the useful employments.

Mary. It must mean a lazy man, then, I should think. Was he not extremely poor, aunt?

Aunt B. Poor! What is poverty in the scale of nobility? It is the glory of our house that they have always preferred honourable poverty to disgraceful industry.

Mary. Why, aunt, every body does not think as you do. I heard the parson's wife say you would be a better Christian, and serve your Maker more faithfully, by doing something profitable, than by spending your time in idleness, and depending upon the church for support.

Aunt B. She had better mind her own business, and not slander her parishioners. Mighty well, indeed, if the descendant of Sir Gregory Mc Grincell is to be taught her duty to her ancestors by the daughter of a ploughman, and the wife of a country parson.

Mary. I am sure she is a very good woman, and my mother considers her a pattern of humility.

Aunt B. Did she display her hun.ility in walking before me at the deacon's funeral? Answer me that.

Mary. She had not the arrangement of the procession,


Aunt B. She ought to have known her place, however. I shall take care how I go to any more vulgar funerals to be insulted, I promise you.

Mary. I cannot see what should make us better than our neighbours, for my mother once told me that your grandfather was only an hostler.

Aunt B. Your mother takes a great deal of pains to expose the dark spots in our escutcheon. But did she ever tell you that when my grandfather was engaged in that

« EelmineJätka »