The Wanderers - Adventures in the Wilds of Trinidad and Orinoco
by W.H.G. Kingston
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We waited till Uncle Paul awoke, to learn what to do, and he at once said that we must bury poor Jose. I sat with Marian in the stern of the boat, while Uncle Paul and Tim lifted Jose's body up to the side; and the latter fastened a piece of stone, which served as ballast, to his feet. Our uncle having uttered an earnest prayer that we might all be preserved, they then let the corpse drop gently into the water, where it quickly disappeared beneath the surface. It was a sad sight, and poor Marian looked on with horror in her countenance. I wished that she could have been spared the spectacle.

Our stock of provisions and water would now last us scarcely a couple of days, and no land was in sight. Uncle Paul calculated, however, that we must be some fifteen or twenty leagues to the south-east of Cape Galeota, the most southern point of Trinidad. The brown colour of the water also showed that we were off the mouth of the mighty Orinoco, though probably many leagues away from it. Had we possessed our full strength and four oars, we might in time have reached the shore; but, weak as we were, and with only a couple of oars, we could have but little hope of doing so. We still trusted to falling in with a vessel; but as we gazed round over the glittering surface of the ocean, not a sail appeared. While the calm lasted, none indeed could approach us; and too probably, before a breeze would spring up, our scanty stock of provisions might be exhausted.

"Cheer up, my friends; let us still trust in God," said Uncle Paul at length. "It is wrong to give way to despair. There's One above who watches over us, and orders all for the best."

"Let us pray to Him, then," exclaimed Marian, kneeling down; and following the example of the dear girl, we lifted up our voices together for safety and protection.

We all felt comforted, and even our poor father's countenance looked less downcast than before. That which weighed most on his spirits was, I suspect, the thought that he had been the cause of our being placed in our present position. No one, however, uttered a word of reproach, and we all did our utmost to console him. Arthur tried to speak cheerfully: Tim attempted to sing one of the melodies of his native land, which he had learned in his boyhood; but his voice broke down, and he was well-nigh bursting into tears.

The calm, though very trying, enabled us to obtain the rest we so much required; and the next morning, though suffering from hunger, Uncle Paul was quite himself again.

After we had offered up our prayers, we took our scanty breakfast of water and a small piece of dried meat, with such parts of the rotten fruit as we could eat. Uncle Paul then stood up and looked about him. "We shall have a breeze, I think, before long," he said, "and we must at once prepare the sail. I am sorry, Marian, to deprive you of the covering of your nest; but we have no other means of making the boat go along."

"I shall be thankful to give it up, if it will help on the boat," she answered, assisting to undo the lashing which secured the sail. It was old, and already torn, but with a strong breeze it would afford such canvas as the boat could carry. We had only an oar for a mast, and another for a yard. Uncle Paul stepped the first, and stayed it up carefully with such pieces of rope as could be found in the boat, while he joined two or three together to form a sheet.

"We are now all ready for the breeze when it comes," he observed, having finished his work. "I cannot say much for the appearance of our sail, but we may be thankful if it enables us to reach a port in safety." He went and sat down again in the sternsheets, resting his hand on the tiller, so that not a moment might be lost after the breeze should reach us.

"Here it comes!" he exclaimed at length. "But I wish it had been from any other quarter. We may, however, hope to beat up against it, if it proves light, as I expect." He pointed to the north-west, where a dark blue line was seen extending across the horizon, and rapidly approaching, every instant becoming broader and broader. Now some cat's-paws came blowing over the ocean, rippling it up into mimic waves; now they disappeared, now again came on, till the whole surface was crisped over by the breeze. Our small triangular sail bulged out, sending the boat along about a couple of miles an hour.

Uncle Paul was standing up, looking in the direction from which the wind came, when he exclaimed, "A sail! a sail! She is coming from the northward, and must be bound either up the Orinoco, or to some port in the northern part of the continent."

Arthur and I looked eagerly out, but we could just see a small patch of white rising above the horizon, which the eye of a sailor alone could have declared to be the topmost sails of a vessel. We stood on in the direction we were going, hoping to cut her off before she passed to the southward of us. How eagerly we watched her!—now gazing at her, now at Uncle Paul's countenance, which betrayed the anxiety he felt. By degrees her canvas rose above the horizon, and we saw that she was a schooner, under all sail, running rapidly through the water, and directly crossing our course. It soon became evident that we could not by any possibility cut her off, but we might be seen by those on board. At length she came almost ahead of us. Tim stood up and waved eagerly, and we all shouted at the top of our voices. We also attempted to fire our guns, but so wet were they that they would not go off.

"Oh, let us pray!" cried Marian; and she and I knelt down.

Still the schooner stood on. No eye on board was turned towards us. We must have presented, indeed, but a small speck on the wide ocean. Tim now waved violently, but all our shouting and waving was of no avail. Uncle Paul then kept the boat away, to obtain another chance of being seen; though, of course, there was no hope of overtaking the fast-sailing schooner.

"God's will be done!" at length cried Uncle Paul. "We are only running further and further out of our course. We must hope that another vessel will come by, and that we may be seen by those on board. If not, while the wind holds as it now does we must endeavour to reach the northern part of Guiana."

Though Uncle Paul said this, I could not help reflecting that our provisions would not hold out to keep us alive till then. For myself, I felt more hungry than I had ever before done in my life, and dreadfully thirsty; and I feared that Marian was suffering even more than I was, though she did not complain. I was careful, however, to say nothing to increase her alarm, though I mentioned my fears in a whisper to Arthur, as we were seated in the bows of the boat.

"I do not despair altogether," he answered. "We may very likely, before long, be visited by birds, which, as we have our guns, we may be able to shoot; or, should a calm come on, possibly some flying-fish may leap on board, or we may be able to catch some other fish. Perhaps we may even be able to manufacture a hook and line."

"What a fortunate idea!" I exclaimed. "I have got a file in my knife; and we may be able to find a nail, to which I can put a barb, and bend it into the proper shape."

We lost no time in putting the idea just started, into execution. We hunted about, and fortunately discovered a long thin nail of tough iron, which I thought we could bend into the shape of a hook. I told no one what I was about, however, but at once began filing away so as to form the barb, the most difficult part of my task. Arthur, meantime, recollected that he had on a pair of strong thread socks; so, undoing the upper part, he produced a long line, which when doubled was of sufficient strength to bear a pretty strong pull. By the time I had prepared my hook, greatly to my satisfaction, his line was ready. It was not so long as we should have liked, but still long enough to allow the bait to sink sufficiently below the surface to attract the unwary fish. Tim, in the meantime, had been cleaning our guns, the locks of which, not having been covered up, had prevented their use at the moment they were so much required. We reloaded them, and put in fresh priming.

Uncle Paul having noticed what we were about,—"That is right," he observed. "We are bound to make every effort to preserve our lives. While we put full trust in God, He will favour our efforts."

The wind was again dropping, and the time, we thought, was favourable to commence fishing. We had to sacrifice a small piece of manatee flesh, but we trusted that it would give us a satisfactory return. So, having baited our hook, and put some lead on the line, we dropped it into the water, letting it tow astern. Never did fisherman hold a line with more anxious wish for success than did Arthur. He had not long to wait.

"I have a bite!" he exclaimed in a tone of eagerness. "Hurrah! it's hooked!"

Carefully he drew in the line, while Tim and I leaned over the side, to lift up the expected prize, for fear that it might break away at the last moment. It was a fish nearly two feet long; and it fortunately struggled but little, or I believe that it would have carried away the hook. How eagerly we clutched it!—literally digging our fingers into its flesh—and then with a jerk brought it safely aboard. We none of us knew its name; but as it was of the ordinary fishlike shape, we hoped that it would prove to be of a species fit for human food.

"I wish we had a kitchen-fire at which to cook it," cried Marian.

"We must manage to do without that," observed Uncle Paul; "and we shall not be the first folks who have been thankful to obtain raw fish for dinner."

It is my belief that that fish saved our lives. Even Marian managed to eat a small portion, which was beaten up fine to enable her to swallow it. Strange to say, it was the only one we caught, though we had the line out for several hours afterwards. We were afraid of allowing it to remain unless one of us held it, lest some large fish, catching hold of it, should carry away the hook. We therefore hauled it in at night; and, it being calm, Arthur took the helm, while Uncle Paul lay down to sleep.



Uncle Paul had charged Arthur and me to call him should there be the slightest change in the weather. The wind, however, continued very light, and the boat glided forward, as well as we could judge, steering by the stars, towards the point we desired to gain. I kept my eyes about me as long as they would consent to remain open, though it was often a difficult task.

Several times I was nodding, when Arthur aroused me with his voice. It must have been about midnight, when, looking astern, I saw a dark shadowy form gliding over the surface of the ocean. I rubbed my eyes, supposing it to be a thing of the imagination; but there it was, not many cable-lengths off, coming up towards us.

"See! see, Arthur! What can that be?" I cried out.

"A sloop or a small schooner!" he exclaimed.

We at once called up Uncle Paul.

"Can she be a vessel sent in chase of us?" I asked.

"No fear of that. It could never have been supposed that we had got so far south; and they would not know in which direction to look for us," he answered.

Still I could not help having some doubts on the subject.

"We will hail the stranger, and learn what she is," said Uncle Paul; so, uniting our voices, we shouted out, "Ship ahoy! ship ahoy!"

A voice replied, in Dutch; and my father, who understood the language, at once cried out,—"Heave to, for the love of Heaven, and receive us on board!"

"Ya, ya," was the answer; "we will be up with you presently."

In a few minutes we were alongside the stranger, a small Dutch trading-sloop. As soon as we were all on board our boat was dropped astern, and sail was made. Her skipper, Mynheer Jan van Dunk, gave us a kind reception, exhibiting the greatest sympathy when he heard of the sufferings we had endured, and seeming especially moved at hearing of those Marian had gone through.

"I have one little maid just like her," he said, taking her in his arms. "She must go into my berth and sleep while we get supper ready. Poor little dear, she has had no food for so many days."

"Thank you, I am not so very hungry," said Marian; "but I am very thirsty."

"Well, well, then, we will get you some tea ready," he answered. "Peter," he cried to his mate, "get a fire lighted in the caboose. Quick, quick, now; they all want food—I see it in their looks."

The skipper said this while we were seated round the table in his little cabin, pretty closely packed, as may be supposed.

"We want water more than anything else," said Uncle Paul.

"Ya, ya; but we will put some schiedam into it. Water is bad for starving people."

Peter quickly brought in a huge jug of water, but the skipper would not allow him to fill our tumblers till he himself had poured a portion of schiedam into each of them. "There now," he said, "there will no harm come to you."

Never had I taken so delicious a draught. It certainly had a very beneficial effect, and we set to with a will on some cold salt beef, sausages, and biscuits, which the kind skipper placed before us. By the time we had finished the viands we were quite ready for a fresh supply of liquid. Peter then brought in a large pot of hot tea, which perhaps really refreshed us more than anything else. Captain Jan had not forgotten Marian. All this time he had kept supplying her, till she assured him that she could eat and drink no more.

After we had taken all the food we required, the skipper and his mate arranged the cabin to enable us all to sleep with as much comfort as possible. My father was put into the mate's berth, Uncle Paul slept on the after-locker, Tim and Arthur on either side, and I on the table. I should have said that Captain Jan's crew consisted of his mate Peter, another Dutchman, a black, and two Indians. Worn-out with fatigue as we were, we all slept on for several hours, and when we awoke our first impulse was to ask for some food, which, thanks to the honest mate, was quickly supplied to us. As the cabin was on deck, and the door and scuppers were kept wide open, though small, it was tolerably cool; and we felt, after being so long cooped up in the boat, as if suddenly transported to a luxurious palace. Captain Jan looked in on us very frequently, and did not appear at all to mind being turned out of his cabin, but, on the contrary, exhibited a genuine pleasure in attending to our wants.

By the evening Marian was quite herself again, and wished to get up and go on deck; while our father was certainly very much better. He also wanted to get up, but the skipper insisted that he should remain quiet till his strength was perfectly restored. My father and Uncle Paul had been so prostrated mentally as well as physically, that it did not occur to them to ask where the vessel was bound to, nor had the captain asked us where we wished to go.

Captain Jan was exactly what I had pictured a Dutch skipper—short, fat, and fond of a drop of schnapps, and fonder still of his pipe. He was kind-hearted and good-natured in the extreme, and was evidently pleased with the thought that he had been the means of saving our lives. His mate Peter was in appearance very unlike him: tall and thin, with a melancholy expression of countenance; which, however, belied his natural disposition, for he was really as merry and kind-hearted as the skipper.

Arthur, Tim, and I went on deck for a short time, and found the sloop slipping pretty quickly through the water; but I cannot say that we took a "turn" on deck, for there was very little space to enjoy more than a fisherman's walk, which is three steps and overboard. We soon returned to the cabin to have supper, which Sambo the black, under Peter's supervision, had exerted all his skill to cook. It was not of a refined style of cookery, but we enjoyed it as much as if it had been the most magnificent banquet. We had not yet made up for our loss of sleep, so once more we all lay down in the little cabin, the kind skipper and his mate still refusing to occupy their own berths.

Next morning, when I went on deck, I found that it was a perfect calm. After breakfast the oars were got out; and as none of us wished to be idle, we offered to take our turn with the rest. I should have said that the vessel belonged to Stabroek, Guiana, then a Dutch settlement. After having visited Trinidad, she was on her way up the Orinoco to trade with the natives. Had my father and Uncle Paul known this, they would certainly have requested the skipper to carry us to Stabroek.

"I am afraid that we put you much out of your way, eat up your provisions, and keep you out of your cabin," said Uncle Paul to Captain Jan.

"Oh no, no, my friends," answered the honest skipper. "I am glad of your company, and that little girl has won my heart; so, if you are pleased to remain, we will just run up the river for a week or two, and when we have done some trading with the natives I will carry you to Stabroek, or wherever else you may wish to go. We shall have no difficulty in obtaining provisions and water, and I have still a good store of schiedam, so, my friends, you will not starve, you see."

Although my father and Uncle Paul would much rather have landed at once, they could not insist on the skipper going out of his course, and they accordingly agreed to his proposal.

We had been rowing on for some time, the calm still continuing, when I saw Peter the mate eagerly looking out ahead. Springing up on heel of the bowsprit, he cried out, "Land ho! We shall soon be within the mouth of the river."

"Faith, it's curious land now," exclaimed Tim. "My eyes can only make out a row of bushes floating on the top of the sea."

"We shall find that they are pretty tall trees, by the time we get near them," observed Peter.

All hands now took to the sweeps, and made the sloop walk through the water at the rate of three or four miles an hour. Still the current, which was running out pretty swiftly, would have prevented us from entering, had not a breeze sprung up. Sail was made immediately, and at length we found ourselves entering one of the many mouths of the mighty Orinoco, with mangrove-covered islands on either side. There was nothing either picturesque or imposing in the scenery, except the great width of the river. As we advanced, however, we caught faint glimpses of high mountains rising to the southward. Not a sail dotted the vast expanse, but now and then we saw native canoes paddling close to the wood-covered shore, though none of them came near us. The intention of our skipper was not to delay longer at the mouth of the river than to obtain provisions, but to proceed at once some hundred miles or so, to the district where the natives with whom he proposed trading resided. We had to keep the lead going, with a bright lookout ahead, to prevent the risk of running on any of the numerous shoals and sandbanks which impeded the navigation; and at length darkness compelled us to bring up and furl the sail, for it would have been dangerous to proceed on during the night without a pilot who was intimately acquainted with the channel.

I was awakened during the night by a loud rushing sound, and on going on deck I found the captain and mate anxiously watching the cable.

"What is the matter?" I asked.

"Nothing as yet," was the reply; "but we shall be fortunate if our anchor holds, and we are saved from being carried down the stream. The river has risen considerably since we entered, and a strong current is coming down from the interior."

Happily our anchor did hold. The skipper and his mate kept watching it the whole night through, and had a second one ready to let go should the first yield; so I felt no inclination to turn in again, though I would not awake the rest of our party.

Next morning there was a strong breeze, and we were able to weigh anchor and run up against the current. When passing an island some way up, a couple of canoes came off with provisions to sell, when we readily became purchasers. Among other articles we bought a number of land-tortoises, which, when cooked, we found delicious. We had also a supply of very fine ripe plums, which grow wild in the forest on the banks of the stream. Altogether we fared sumptuously, and soon recovering our spirits, began to look more hopefully at the future. My father even talked of being able to return to Trinidad some day, should the Inquisition be got rid of. The people in the country generally detested it, and so especially did the new settlers, who had been accustomed to live in countries blessed with freer institutions.

For fully a week more we ran on, the wind favouring us—otherwise we should have made no progress. By the appearance of the banks we saw that the river had risen very considerably, and in many places the whole forest appeared to be growing out of the water, which extended amid the trees as far as the eye could reach. We had thus an advantage, as we could make a straight course and pass over sandbanks and shallows; whereas in the original state of the river we should have had to steer now on one side, now on the other, to avoid them.

The weather had hitherto been very fine; but at length one night, some hours after we had brought up, the wind began to increase, dark clouds gathered in the sky, the thunder roared, and vivid lightning darted through the air.

A cry arose, "The anchor has parted!" Sail was instantly made, and we drove before the blast. The broad river, hitherto so calm, was lashed into fierce waves, amid which the little sloop tumbled and tossed as if she was in mid-ocean. To anchor was impossible, and no harbour appeared on either side into which we could run for shelter. The trees bent beneath the fierce blast which swept over them. Our only course was to keep on in the centre of the stream. Our brave skipper went to the helm, and did his best to keep up our spirits by assuring us that his sloop had weathered many a fiercer gale. The seas, however, continually broke aboard, and the straining mast and shrouds threatened every instant to yield to the fury of the tempest. If there was danger where we were, it was still greater near the submerged forest on either side; for the lofty trees, their roots loosened by the rushing water, were continually falling, and one of them coming down upon our vessel would quickly have crushed her, and sent her helplessly to the bottom.

Marian behaved like a true heroine, and terrific as was the scene, she endeavoured to keep up her own courage and that of all on board.

Hour after hour the little vessel struggled on amid the waves, till at length a blast more furious than any of its predecessors struck her, heeling her over, so that it appeared as if she would never rise again. Her sails were blown to ribbons, and the sea carried away her rudder. Now utterly helpless, she drove before the gale; which, shifting to the northward, blew directly across the stream, bearing us towards the submerged forest, where the waves as they rolled along dashed up amid the tall trees, sending the spray high over their branches.

On and on the vessel drove. A heavy sea rolling up filled our boat, towing astern, and, for our own safety, we were compelled to cut her adrift. Before us arose out of the water a large tree with widespreading branches; and in a few minutes the vessel drove violently against it. Her bowsprit was carried away, and a huge rent made in her bows, when she bounded off; but it was only to drive helplessly further on. Every moment we expected to see the trees which were bending above our heads come down and crush us. Again the wind shifted, and we found ourselves drifting along by the edge of the forest. We endeavoured to get a rope round the trunk of one of the trees, but the effort was vain. Peter and another of the crew, in attempting to do so, were dragged overboard. We heard their cries, but we were unable to assist them, and they were quickly lost to sight in the darkness.

On and on we drove. The water was now rushing into the vessel, and every instant we expected that she would go down. All chance of saving her was abandoned; and our only hope was that she might be driven against some tree, into the branches of which we might clamber for temporary safety. The roaring of the waves, the howling of the wind amid the branches, the dashing waters, and the crashing of the boughs torn off by the tempest, created a deafening uproar which almost drowned the sound of our voices. Uncle Paul, however, still tried to make himself heard. "Trust still in God. I will endeavour to save Marian," he said. "Be prepared, my friends, for whatever may occur; don't lose your presence of mind." Scarcely had he spoken when the sloop was dashed with great violence against the trunk of an enormous tree, which, with several others forming a group, stood out from the forest. The water rushed rapidly into her, and we felt that she was sinking.

Uncle Paul, taking Marian in his arms, now sprang to the bows, followed by Arthur, who grasped my hand. "Come along, Guy; I must do my best to save you," he exclaimed, dragging me along. I did not at the moment see my father, who was in the after part of the vessel; but I knew that Tim would do his utmost to save him. Uncle Paul, in a manner a sailor alone could have accomplished, leaped on to a mass of hanging creepers which the sloop was at the moment touching; while Arthur and I found ourselves—I scarcely knew how we had got there—on another part of the vast trunk, when we instinctively began to climb up the tree. I saw that two other persons had reached the tree, when loud cries arose; and, to my dismay, as I looked down from the secure position I had gained, I could nowhere discover the vessel: she had disappeared. In vain I called to my father: no reply came. I now perceived the black man Sambo clinging to the upper part of a bough; and lower down, Kallolo the native holding on to a part above the water, out of which he had scrambled.

Just then the cry arose from amid the surging water of "Help!—help! I shall be after being drowned entirely, if somebody doesn't pick me out of this!" I recognised Tim's voice; and Arthur and I were about to clamber down to help him, when Kallolo the native stretched out his hand, and catching Tim's as he floated by, dragged him out of the water. We went down to his assistance, and soon had him hauled up safe on the bough.

Tim had just expressed his gratitude to Kallolo, when he missed my father. "Ochone! what has become of the master?" he exclaimed. "Shure, he hasn't been drowned? Ochone!—ahone! what will become of us?" None of us could answer Tim's question. My father and the brave skipper had disappeared with the vessel, which, with too much reason, we feared had gone down. Tim only knew that he had found himself suddenly swept off the deck, and struggling in the water. Probably an overhanging bough, as the vessel swept by, had caught him. But, believing his master to be lost, he seemed scarcely to feel any satisfaction at having been saved himself.

With the fierce current rushing by the tree, and the heavy surges which dashed against it, we could not tell how long it might stand; indeed, every moment we expected to find it falling. Such must have been its fate, had not its roots been deeply planted in the ground.

We now turned our attention to Uncle Paul and Marian, who stood in a sort of network but a few feet above the waves, which threatened to reach them. Our object was to get them at once into a more secure position.

Day was just breaking, the light revealing a wild and fearful scene. On one side the broad river, lashed into fierce waves, foamed and leaped frantically; while on the other was the forest-region, the ground covered, as far as the eye could reach, with turbid waters, intermixed with fallen boughs and uprooted shrubs; while the trees sent down showers of leaves, fruit, and branches, rent off by the wind. But we had not much time to contemplate this scene. Arthur managed to reach a bough just above their heads, and then called to Uncle Paul, and begged him to climb up higher, so that he might get hold of Marian. It was no easy matter. But at last he succeeded; and with my help and her own exertions she was dragged up to the bough to which we clung. Uncle Paul soon followed; and we were now all able to rest and contemplate the future. Whether the waters would rise still higher, or how long they would cover the earth, we did not know. Of one thing we were certain, that they would not cover it altogether; but in other respects our position greatly resembled that of the inhabitants of the old world when the flood first began to rise, and they sought the hilltops and the highest branches of the trees for safety. With them the water continued to rise higher and higher, and they must have watched with horror and dismay their rapid progress. We knew, let the floodgates of heaven be opened ever so wide, that the waters must ere long be stayed.

"Where is papa?—oh! what has become of him?" exclaimed Marian, looking round and not seeing our father among us.

"I trust that he is still on board the sloop," answered Uncle Paul, wishing not to alarm her. "Had she gone down, we should have seen her masts above the water. Probably, lightened of so many people, she floated on, and may be even now at no great distance. We must not despair; though our position, I own, is very critical."

"Shure, I think the master must have escaped," observed Tim. "He was at the other end of the vessel when the big bough knocked me overboard, and he and the skipper may even now be better off than we are; for if they get the craft in among the trees, they may stop without any trouble of anchoring; and they will have plenty of grub aboard, which is more than we are likely to find among these big trees, though we are much obliged to them for giving us shelter just now."

Poor Marian seemed somewhat comforted by these assurances, and asked no further questions, but sat on the bough on which we had placed her, gazing down on the waters, which rolled in rapid eddies beneath us.

We were talking of what we should next try to do, when we heard a loud chattering above our heads; and looking up, we saw several monkeys, which had descended from the topmost boughs, gazing down on us,—some inspecting us with all the gravity of Turks, others swinging backwards and forwards on the pendent vines, as if they felt themselves at home, and were perfectly indifferent to our presence. While we remained quiet, they held their posts. One big fellow, especially, with a long tail and huge bushy whiskers, was unusually bold; and having crept along a bough, sat himself down not a dozen yards from the native Kallolo, of whom he appeared not to have the slightest dread. Kallolo began talking to him in his own language, and as soon as he ceased the monkey chattered a reply.

"He know me," said Kallolo. "We soon be great friends. Quacko!— Quacko! Dat your name, I know. Come here, good Quacko. Tell me where you been since you ran away from your old master," he continued.

"Quacko!—Quacko!" answered the monkey, imitating the Indian's tone of voice.

Kallolo then began to work his way along the bough. The monkey, instead of retreating, came nearer and nearer; when Kallolo stopped, still speaking in the same soothing tone. Once more he moved on. It seemed as if the monkey were fascinated; for I could not suppose that the creature really understood the native, or that the native understood the meaning of the monkey's chattering. At length Kallolo got within reach of Quacko, when, gently stretching out his hand, he began to tickle the monkey's nose. Then he got a little nearer, till he could scratch its head and back. All this time the monkey sat perfectly still, although its companions were climbing here and there, some swinging backwards and forwards on the vines, others making all sorts of grimaces at us. At length, to our surprise, we saw Kallolo take Quacko in his arms, and quickly return with him into our midst. Quacko looked a little alarmed at us, but was speedily soothed, and in a few minutes he appeared quite at home.

"He has been among white men before this," observed Kallolo, showing the monkey's ears, which had small gold earrings in them. "I thought so when him first come to look at us. He and I great friends before long."

Thus was the extraordinary way in which Kallolo had apparently fascinated the monkey accounted for. As the native had predicted, the creature was soon as much at home with us as if we had been friends all our lives. Strange as it may seem, under the perilous circumstances in which we were placed this incident afforded us much amusement and considerable relief. Our thoughts, however, were soon turned to a more important subject,—the means of finding support. We agreed that the monkeys could not live in the trees without food; and what assisted to sustain them would help to keep us alive, though too probably we should soon produce a scarcity.

Kallolo overheard us speaking on the subject. "We have plenty to eat, never fear," he observed.

"I wish you could show us that same," said Tim.

"Why, we catch the other monkeys, and eat them," said Kallolo. "You take care of Quacko, while I go and look for food."

As Kallolo spoke, he began to ascend the tree, and was soon lost to sight amid the dense foliage. As we looked up we could not see anywhere near the summits of the trees. We might, as far as we could judge, be at the foot of "Jack's beanstalk." Taking Kallolo's hint, Tim tried to catch one of the other monkeys; but though Quacko remained quietly with us, they were far too cautious and nimble to allow him to get up with them, and I feared that in his eagerness he would tumble off into the foaming waters and be swept away. Uncle Paul at last called to him, and told him to give up the chase as utterly hopeless. Uncle Paul, however, advised us to search more carefully, in the hope that we might find either nuts or fruit of some sort or other, or bird's eggs, or young birds, which might serve us as food, while he remained to take care of Marian.

I had not gone far when I heard a sound, coming from no great distance, of "Wow! wow! wow!" and looking along the bough, I caught sight of a bird rather smaller than the common pigeon, but of beautiful plumage. Its head and breast were blue, the neck and belly of a bright yellow; and, from the shortness of its legs, it appeared as if sitting, like a hen on her nest. It saw me, but made no attempt to move. I had little hope, however, of catching it with my hands, and suspected that it would fly away should I attempt to approach it nearer. I therefore retreated, and considered what was best to be done. Then, I bethought me that by cutting a long stiff sepo to serve as a wand, I might form a noose at the end of it, and thus catch not only the bird before me, but any others which might be in the trees. I immediately put my plan into execution; and a sepo suitable for the purpose being within my reach, I cut it. Fortunately I had a piece of string in my pocket, with which I manufactured a noose; and returning along the branch, I held my wand at an angle above me, so as to let the end drop down on the bird. I was more successful than I expected. Not till it actually felt the noose round its neck, did it attempt to fly; but it was then too late. As I jerked it towards me, a quantity of feathers fell from it. I got it speedily in my hands, and, influenced by feeling how acceptable it would be, immediately wrung its neck, and brought it down in triumph. Looking round, I saw several other birds of the same species, and was successful in catching three more; for they made not the slightest attempt to fly away till I was close upon them.

I at length returned with my game to the large branch where I had left Uncle Paul and Marian. Arthur and Tim came back about the same time; the one with some eggs, and the latter with a couple of tree-frogs of huge size.

"Faith, when a man's hungry he mustn't be particular," observed Tim; "and it seemed to me that though these beasts are not over pretty to look at, they might serve to keep body and soul together till better times come round."

"Very right," said Uncle Paul. "I trust that these few trees will supply us with sufficient food if we search for it, and I am not very squeamish as to its character."

Sambo brought in a very ugly-looking lizard; but he declared that it would prove as good to eat as anything else. We now somewhat anxiously awaited the return of Kallolo.

The only articles which could be eaten with satisfaction, unless cooked, were the eggs which Arthur had brought, and these he and Uncle Paul insisted should be given to Marian. It required some persuasion to induce her to take them, as she was unwilling to deprive us of them; and it was only by assuring her that when our appetites were a little sharper we should eat the frogs and lizards with satisfaction, that we could induce her to consume the eggs.

We now discussed the possibility of making a fire to cook our provisions. There was room enough in the fork of a large branch; but the danger was that we might set the whole tree alight, and burn it and ourselves. Still, we did not as yet feel inclined to eat the frogs and lizards, or even the birds, raw, though we knew that we might in the end be compelled to do so.

At length we heard Kallolo's voice above us; and looking up, we saw him descending the tree. "Here, friends. See!" he exclaimed, "I have not made my trip up to the sky for nothing;" and he produced from a grass-formed pocket, which he always carried by his side, a supply of ripe figs. He parted them among us, offering Marian the largest share.

How delicious those figs tasted! They were both meat and drink to us; and we felt that while a bountiful Providence supplied us with such food, we need have no fear of starving.

I showed Kallolo the birds which I had caught. He called them bocloras, and observed that they were pretty good food, and he hoped that we might catch some others which would come to feed on the ripe figs.



We had no fear of starving, even though we might not be able to quit our present abode for many days to come, but we were surrounded by dangers to which we could not shut our eyes. The trees, vast as they were, might be uprooted and hurled prostrate into the flood, should another storm come on; or the lightning might strike them, and every one of us be destroyed. Besides, many weeks might pass before we could descend and travel over the dry ground; and even then, in what direction should we go? Very probably we should fall into the hands of savages, who would keep us in slavery; at all events, we should have to encounter several wild beasts and venomous serpents,—the mighty boa, or anaconda, or the still more terrible bush-master, or labarri, so dreaded in this region.

What had become of our father and the brave skipper, Jan van Dunk, we could not tell. Uncle Paul did his utmost to keep up our spirits, setting us the example by his cheerfulness, and by showing his perfect confidence in Providence.

We had, as I have said, a supply of food; but how to cook it? was the question. Kallolo declared there would be no danger in lighting a fire in the fork of the tree, provided we did not allow it to burn longer than was necessary, and kept a watch to prevent its extending up the bark on either side. Uncle Paul always carried a small tinder-box and matches, so that we could at once obtain a light. We accordingly collected a supply of dry branches, of which there was an abundance attached to the various parts of the trees. Kallolo again set off, taking my wand and noose; and by the time the fire had been lighted and had burned up sufficiently, he returned with several birds, adding considerably to our stock of provisions. They were all quickly plucked and spitted, and we were soon busily engaged in cooking them. Tim insisted on dressing his frogs, and Sambo the lizard he had caught, both declaring that they would prove more tender than the birds. How they might have appeared had they been put into a pot and boiled, I cannot say; as it was, they certainly presented an unattractive appearance. Some large leaves served us as plates, and we had to use our fingers instead of knives and forks; but notwithstanding, we made a very hearty meal. I tasted part of the hind leg of one of the frogs, and I certainly should not have known it from a tender young chicken cooked in the same way. Kallolo in his last trip had brought down a few more figs, one of which he presented to each of us as a dessert. Tim declared that the banquet would have been perfect if we could have had a little of the "cratur," or, in the absence of it, a cup of hot coffee. We had to quench our thirst with some of the very turbid water surrounding us, which we brought up in our hats.

The day passed far more rapidly than I could have supposed possible. The storm had completely subsided, but the waters in no way lessened; indeed, they were slightly higher than on the previous night. Uncle Paul advised that we should all look out for sleeping-places, where we might rest without the danger of tumbling off. Our first care was to find one for Marian. A mass of sepos hung down and formed a regular hammock close under a bough, and by carefully arranging a few more sepos, Uncle Paul and Arthur made it so secure that it was impossible for her to fall out. They told me to take a berth of a similar character close to her, while Uncle Paul formed one for himself on a bough, a little on one side. The rest of the party arranged themselves as they thought fit; Kallolo, with his new friend, climbing up to one of the higher boughs, on which he stretched himself, with the monkey crouching down close to him. The way in which he kept close to the native showed that he had long been accustomed to human society, and was delighted to find himself in it again.

Our first night in our tree-home was passed in perfect tranquillity. Scarcely a breath of air moved the leaves. The sky was clear, and the crescent moon overhead afforded just sufficient light to enable us to get into our respective berths. We were all weary with the exertions and anxiety we had gone through, and the want of sleep during the previous night, and scarcely had we got into our nests when the eyes of most of us, I suspect, were closed. I just kept awake long enough to see that Marian had gone off into a quiet slumber, and then quickly dropped into the land of dreams; and I don't think I ever slept more soundly than I did in my strange resting-place.

I might possibly have slumbered on till the sun was high in the sky, but I was awakened, ere the light of early dawn had penetrated amid the thick foliage which surrounded us, by a strange concert of sounds. Monkeys were jabbering overhead; tree-frogs were quacking; parrots were chattering and macaws were screeching more loudly than all, as they flew over the topmost boughs. For some time I was too much confused to remember where I was, or what was producing the strange din in my ears. In vain I tried to go to sleep again, and at length I was completely aroused. My first impulse was to look out for Marian. She was still sleeping calmly, while the rest of the party, as far as I could discern by the uncertain light, were resting in the positions in which I had seen them at night. Gradually the dawn drew on, and on sitting up I caught sight of half a dozen ugly-looking faces peering down on us. I knew that they were those of monkeys which had descended from the topmost boughs, whither they had retreated when we took possession of their abode. Two or three of them then approached Quacko, and tried to induce him to rejoin them. He answered their invitations by indignant gestures, which seemed to say that he had no intention, after finding himself again in civilised society, of returning to savage life. The noise he made awoke his new friend Kallolo, however, who began to talk to him in the language which he seemed to understand, and presently the monkey came down from his perch and nestled in his arms.

The rays of the rising sun streaming amid the boughs awoke the rest of the party, who, getting out of their respective nests, scrambled on to the main bough. Uncle Paul suggested that we should set to work immediately to procure food for breakfast. My plan for noosing birds being generally adopted, Arthur, as well as Kallolo and Sambo, at once cut some wands and fitted them in a manner similar to mine.

We agreed to let Marian sleep on till breakfast was ready. Before the food could be eaten, however, it had to be hunted for and cooked, and as we were all hungry, we set off among the branches in search of whatever we could find. I climbed higher than I had before done, and reached a small fig-tree growing in the fork of a large branch. A number of birds were perched on it, some with black and red plumage, others with heads and necks of a bright red, while the wings and tails were of a dark green and black. They were employed in eating the ripe fruit. I determined to catch as many as I could before securing some of the latter. Carefully climbing on, I set to work, and succeeded in noosing four of each species. Having filled my pockets and cap with as many of the ripe figs as I could carry, after I had driven the birds away with loud shouts, hoping they would not return till I had made a second visit to the fig-tree, I began to descend, though not without difficulty; for, as every one knows, it is easier to climb up than to get down a tree, and a fall from a branch would have been a serious matter.

I reached our resting-place in safety, and found Marian seated by the side of Uncle Paul. The rest of the party came in soon after, all having had some success. Tim, however, had got only one bird, but he boasted of having collected half a dozen frogs; while Sambo had caught the same number of lizards. Arthur had secured a couple of good-sized parrots; and Kallolo had discovered a macaw's nest, the young of which he had taken, with a good supply of figs. Altogether, we had reason to be satisfied with our morning's hunt, as we had food enough to last us for the day. The birds I had caught were found to be manakins and tiger-birds. The latter were small, and though their bodies were ill-shaped, their flesh was tender and well-tasted.

Though our position was full of anxiety, we should not have been unhappy could we have known that our father had escaped. Uncle Paul told us that he had been to the end of a bough from which he could obtain a view both up and down the stream, but that he had failed to get a sight of the sloop; neither could he see anything of the mate and the Indian, who had been carried overboard when attempting to secure the vessel to the trunk of a tree.

We collected some more dried branches and withered leaves, sufficient to make a fire for cooking our provisions.

"I wish we had a pot for boiling water," I remarked.

"It would be a mighty good thing, Mr Guy, if we had any tay to make in it, and some sugar to sweeten it," observed Tim.

"In the meantime, we should be thankful that we have got so much wholesome food, and cold water to quench our thirst; though, for Marian's sake, I should be glad to have had some tea," said Uncle Paul.

"Oh, don't think about me," exclaimed Marian. "I am perfectly content to drink cold water, and do not wish for anything which it is impossible to obtain."

"You are a sensible girl," said Uncle Paul, patting her cheek. "The uncomplaining spirit you possess will greatly aid you in going through the dangers and hardships we may have to encounter."

I must confess that we made a very hearty meal, though it would have been more palatable had we possessed some salt. That I knew, however, it would be impossible to obtain, situated where we were. Having partly roasted the remainder of the birds, as well as the frogs and lizards, to assist in preserving them we hung them up in a shady place which we called our larder, under a thick branch, where we hoped they would keep sweet till they were required for food. Marian felt her position more irksome than did any one else, as she was unable to climb about, though Arthur and I helped her to walk up and down the thick bough; but it was very much like a fisherman's walk,—three steps and overboard. However, it was preferable to sitting still, and prevented her limbs from becoming cramped. She then went and sat down again, when Uncle Paul, Arthur, and I started off on an exploring expedition through our grove. There were not, altogether, more than seven main trunks; but numberless sepos interlaced the boughs, and striking downwards, where they had apparently taken root, had again sprung upwards, forming spiral stems, some considerably thicker than a man's body, others as thin as the smallest ropes of a ship's rigging. We had no great difficulty in making our way, but caution was necessary to save ourselves from tumbling down into the water. Among the trees was a beautiful cedar, three palm-trees of different species, and a cotton-tree of prodigious height, with widespreading top. Another was called the mulatto-tree; which had a tall, slim trunk, and leaves of a dark green, with branches spreading amid those of its neighbours, and covered with clusters of small white flowers. But I cannot attempt to describe either the trees or the numerous parasitic plants, some worthy to be called trees from their size, which formed this curious grove. Several besides the fig-trees bore fruit and nuts, affording food to monkeys and other animals, and to various species of birds.

One end of the grove was less closely united than the main portion, but still two projecting boughs interlaced, and were joined likewise by chains of sepos, forming an easy communication between the two parts. Arthur and I, wishing to explore the whole of this somewhat confined region of which we were for a time the inhabitants, made our way across this natural bridge I have described. When we got to the further end we heard a concert of gentle "caws," far less sonorous than those made by the parrots we had seen passing near the grove on the previous day, the sounds now rising, now falling. Stopping to ascertain from what direction in the grove the noises proceeded, we soon discovered that they came from a tree which shot out several branches about a dozen or twenty feet from the surface of the water.

"Those noises must come from parrots, I am sure," said Arthur, after we had listened a little time. "We shall be able to get a fine collection of young birds, which will be far more tender than the old ones. We will just take a few for supper to-night, and we can return when we want more."

Accordingly, we climbed along among the branches.

"I see some old birds there too," observed Arthur. "If they are parrots, they are very large ones. I suspect that they are macaws. We shall soon find out, however."

We had stopped to rest, for that sort of climbing was somewhat fatiguing work; but again we went on, Arthur leading the way. He had a large sheath-knife, which Sambo the black had lent him, secured to his waist.

The tree we had reached was of great age, and was full of holes and numerous hollow stumps of boughs broken off by tempests or lightning. In each of these hollows was a large nest with a couple of fledgelings; but no sooner did Arthur and I stretch out our hands to seize some of the young birds, intending to transfer them to the bags which we carried at our backs, than the old birds sitting on the branches above us set up a deafening screaming and screeching, while others appeared from all quarters. Some flew across, as it seemed, from the opposite forest; others came forth from various parts of the surrounding foliage, by which they had been concealed, with the evident intention of doing battle for their young. Down they flew, screaming loudly, with open beaks and fierce eyes, and surrounded us on all sides; some assailing our heads, and some our bare legs and feet, while others got hold of our shirts and pulled lustily at them. It was only with the greatest difficulty that we could defend our eyes, which they seemed resolved to tear out.

"Leap, Guy—leap into the water; that is the only chance we have of saving ourselves!" exclaimed Arthur, drawing his knife and attempting to keep the savage birds at bay. I had no weapon to defend myself with, so, following his advice, I leaped down to a part of the tree whence I could spring into the water, and putting my hands above my head, plunged into the turbid flood, diving down some feet, regardless of the risk I ran of striking any concealed boughs beneath the surface. Escaping injury, I quickly rose again, in time to hear Arthur's plunge as he followed me. The macaws darted down upon us; but as we again dived, they flew up—to ascertain, we supposed, whether we had plundered their nests. Happily, the current not being very strong, we were able to stem it, and make good way, till we reached the main part of the grove, where, getting hold of some sepos which hung down into the water, we clambered up again to a branch, on which we were glad to rest after our exertions, having escaped a danger which might have been of a very serious nature. We agreed, however, that should we be pressed for food, we would, notwithstanding, make another attack on the "macawery," to coin a word, and carry off some of the young birds. We found that we had not escaped altogether free. I had received two or three ugly pecks from the birds' beaks, which had torn my flesh, the wounds now smarting considerably; while Arthur had fared even worse, two of them having made rents in his shirt, and pecked out three or four pieces of his flesh.

Having rested, we now began to make our way back to our friends; but I had not gone far when I caught sight of a large hairy creature hanging on to a bough at no great distance, apparently watching us as we made our way amid the branches.

"O Arthur!" I exclaimed, "there's a bear. He will be down upon us, and treat us much worse than the macaws have done."

Arthur looked in the direction I pointed. "Don't be afraid," he answered. "It will not attack us. The animal is a sloth, as harmless as any living creature. We may consider him among the other beasts in our domain destined if necessary for our use. He cannot get away, so we will not attempt to interfere with him at present. He will not venture into the water; and even had we ground below us, he would not descend, as he would be sure to be caught if he did. We will climb nearer, so as to get a better view of him, for he seems to have no dread of us, and will not try to escape."

We did as Arthur proposed, and found the creature had a short head, with a small round face, and was covered with coarse, shaggy hair, looking very much like withered grass. It had powerful claws and long arms, with which it clung to the branch; while its hinder legs, which were half the length of the others, had feet of peculiar formation, which enabled it to hold on to the bough. In truth, we discerned what we had before heard, that the sloth is especially formed to live in trees— though not on the branches, like the squirrel, but under them; indeed, it generally moves suspended from the branch, and at night, when sleeping, rests in the same attitude, under the branch, hanging on by its powerful arms and legs. Its arms being very long and powerful, with strong claws instead of fingers, it is enabled to defend itself against the large snakes which frequently attack it. We could only hope that it was not alone, and that should we require sloth-steaks we might be able to have an ample supply. We had no fears, indeed, about obtaining as much animal food as we might require, though it was possible that we might, before we could escape, eat up all the food to be found in our domain.

At length we got back to where we had left Uncle Paul and Marian. We recounted our adventures to them, when Marian was not a little agitated at hearing of our encounter with the macaws, and at our having been compelled to leap into the river.

"Oh, how dreadful it would have been had you been drowned," she exclaimed; "or had a shark or alligator, or an anaconda, snapped you up!"

"There was very little danger of that," answered Arthur. "We had not very far to swim before we got hold of a branch and drew ourselves out of the water."

"I am not quite so certain about that as you are, Arthur," observed Uncle Paul. "We all have reason to be thankful that you escaped the danger in which you were placed."

When Kallolo returned, after another exploring expedition, and heard of our adventures, he said that he would go at night and capture the young macaws, when the parents would not attempt to defend them; and that he should probably, at the same time, be able to catch some of the older birds. He had brought with him an ara parrot, as he called it, which, young as it was, had already grown to a considerable size. Though it had not yet obtained its full plumage, its colours were very beautiful. Its body was of a flaming scarlet, while the wings were red, yellow, blue, and green; its tail, which was of great length, being scarlet and blue. He had caught the bird with a noose, just as it was about to leave the nest, and he said that he had hopes of being able to tame it. The creature seemed but little disconcerted, and finding that it was treated kindly, at once fed willingly out of his hand. He secured it by a piece of string to a small branch near us, where it could perch at its ease. Quacko the monkey looked at it with a somewhat jealous eye, but Kallolo made him understand that he must not interfere with the new favourite, and Ara and Quacko soon became friends.

The day passed away in our truly sylvan abode much faster than I could have expected; and could we but have been assured that my father was safe, we should, considering the circumstances, have been tolerably happy and contented. At night we all went to sleep in the positions we had before occupied.



Two days passed by, spent much as those I have before described. The calm continued; not a breath of air stirred the mud-tinted expanse of water stretching out to the northward. Up to this time the flood had not in the slightest degree decreased; indeed, the mark Uncle Paul had made on the first day showed that it had rather increased an inch or two. At all events, there was no present prospect, as far as we could see, of our getting away from our present abode. Arthur proposed that we should form a raft. This would not have been difficult, as we had several large knives among us, and with some labour we might have cut off branches from the trees and bound them together with sepos. But then the question arose, In what direction should we go, even supposing that we could form a raft to hold the whole party? We might have to paddle, for aught we knew to the contrary, for days and days together before we could reach dry land; and when there, were we likely to be better off than where we were at present? Taking all things into consideration, Uncle Paul decided, when his advice was asked, that it would be better to let well alone, and to remain in the grove. Vessels went occasionally up and down the river, and when the water subsided we might be seen by one of them, and be taken off. We should thus, however, run the risk of again falling into the hands of the Spaniards, and Uncle Paul especially was very unwilling to trust to their tender mercies.

"My opinion is that we should remain here till we are compelled to move, and then make our way up one of the many streams to the south, which rise in the Dutch territories, where we are sure to meet with a friendly reception," he observed. Arthur agreed with him, and the rest of the party were willing to be guided by their decision.

It was proposed, as there was a probability of our spending some weeks in our present abode, that we should endeavour to render it more habitable than at present. Kallolo described to us how a tribe of natives in the neighbourhood make platforms, resting on the trunks of the palm-trees, where they and their families live in comparative comfort during the whole period of the inundation. The idea, being started, was highly approved of, and we all immediately set to work to get long poles for the purpose. A spot was selected, higher up the tree, where a number of branches ran out horizontally, almost level with each other. As soon as a pole was cut it was secured with sepos, Uncle Paul and Sambo exercising their nautical knowledge for the purpose. It required no small number of poles, but the little forest afforded an abundant supply. Before the end of the day the platform was completed. We then built a hut on it, devoted to Marian's use. The only thing wanting was a quantity of clay to form a hearth; but clay, while the waters covered the earth, it was impossible to obtain. We had therefore to light our fire, as before, on the thick branch, on which it had as yet made no impression, beyond burning off the bark and blackening it. As soon as our platform was finished we moved on to it, though Kallolo and Sambo preferred sleeping among the boughs. I was very glad to get so comparatively comfortable a place for poor Marian; whose health, however, notwithstanding the hardships she had endured, remained unimpaired.

Our first work being finished, we erected a lookout place at the end of a long bough, clearing away the branches which intercepted our view up and down the stream. Here one of us took post during daylight, that we might watch for any craft navigating the river. Should a Spanish vessel appear, we agreed that we would let her pass without making a signal; but should a Dutch or English one come in sight, though it was not likely that any of our own countrymen would visit the river, we determined to do our best to attract the attention of those on board.

All this time there had been scarcely a breath of wind, and though our lookout place had been occupied, we knew that no vessel could pass up, and it was very unlikely that any would venture down the stream at the mercy of the current. Two days after the lookout post had been established, as I took my watch at daybreak, the bright sun rising above the distant horizon, I felt the breeze fan my cheeks. Every instant it increased, rippling the hitherto calm surface of the broad river into mimic waves. As I watched, now turning my eyes up, now down the stream, I saw, emerging from behind a projecting point of the forest, a white sail. From the progress it made towards me, it appeared to be that of a large boat, and was certainly not such as was likely to be used by Indians. At first I had hoped that it might be the sloop, but I soon saw, from the cut of the sail, and its size, that it was not such as she would carry. If the people on board were Spaniards, I was not to make a signal to them. How tantalising it would be to see her pass by, and yet I had no doubt that Uncle Paul was right in not wishing again to fall into their hands. I would not call to my friends till I had some more certain information to communicate, so I sat eagerly watching the sail. At length I saw that it was positively coming nearer. From its height out of the water, I again began to hope that it might after all be that of the sloop, which might have rigged a jury-mast. Nearer and nearer it came, and at length I saw that it was certainly not the sloop, but the oddest build of vessel I had ever set eyes on. As I gazed, I at last discovered that it was not a vessel at all, but part of the trunk of a huge tree, with a mast, to which a sail was spread, stepped on it. No wonder that it approached slowly!

I now began to hope that my father and the skipper had escaped, and that it might be bringing them to us, so I could no longer resist shouting out to Uncle Paul, who quickly joined me. After examining it narrowly, he exclaimed: "I have no doubt about it; I am nearly certain that I can make out your father and Captain van Dunk, as well as the mate and the native. Most thankful am I that they have all been preserved, for I confess I did not expect to see them again."

The breeze increasing, the log approached somewhat faster than at first, and all our doubts were soon set at rest. Uncle Paul and I, standing up, waved our handkerchiefs and shouted, to draw their attention. We were at length seen, and the course of the log, which was impelled by paddles as well as a sail, was directed towards us. Having communicated the joyful intelligence to the rest of the party, we all descended to the lowest branch, the only accessible part of the tree from the water. I need scarcely picture our delight when at length the log glided up, and we were able to welcome my poor father. He looked thin and careworn, as if he had gone through great hardships; and even the honest skipper was considerably pulled down. Having secured the log, which was of a peculiarly light and buoyant character, we invited my father and his companions up to our platform, where breakfast had just been prepared. They were greatly surprised to find that we had cooked food; and they were ready to do ample justice to it, as they had been living all the time on raw provisions. As soon as my father and the rest of us had satisfied our hunger, he described what had occurred to them.

After we had escaped from the sloop, she had been driven down the stream for some miles along the forest; but at length, striking against a projecting point of a log, she had gone down in shallow water, my father and the skipper being providentially able to make their way to a large tree, a branch of which projected from the stem only a few feet above the surface. Here they rested till daylight. The skipper then managed to reach the vessel, which had sunk close below them, and got hold of some spars and one of the sails; which they hoisted up to their resting-place. The second trip he made he managed to get hold of a small cask of biscuits and a bottle of schiedam. This nourishment greatly revived them, and they began to consider how they could come to our assistance; for of course, not being aware that we should be able to obtain an abundant supply of provisions, they feared that we should perish from hunger. In vain, however, the skipper endeavoured to recover a sufficient number of spars to form a raft. On the third trip he made to the vessel he was nearly washed away, so my father entreated him not again to venture. He did so, however, and getting hold of a coil of rope, fastened one end of it to the branch and the other round his waist. He made several more trips, and recovered a cask of herrings, another of biscuits, and three more bottles of schiedam. The current, however, driving against the vessel, already fearfully damaged by the blows she had received, began to break her up; and although the brave skipper made several attempts to recover more articles, they were mostly unsuccessful. He had, however, got hold of Marian's small box of clothing, which had been saved when so many things were washed out of the boat. He had also saved a saucepan, some hooks and lines, an axe, a saw, a small auger, a few nails, and some other articles, which had been thrown into an empty cask. They had now no longer any dread of immediate starvation for themselves, but their anxiety about us was by no means lessened; and having sufficient provisions to last them for several days, they felt more eager than ever to reach us.

They had seen several logs floating down the stream at a distance. At length it struck them that if they could obtain one of these, they might, with the aid of the sail and the spars they had saved, accomplish their object. It would have been madness to get upon one of them unless they could manage to secure it to their branch. At length an enormous log came floating by, evidently of very light wood, as it rose high out of the water, with a branch projecting from one end. Their anxiety was intense lest an eddy might turn it off and drift it from them. The gallant skipper stood, rope in hand, anxiously watching it. At length it came directly under them; so he leapt upon it, and with a sailor's dexterity immediately fastened the end of the rope round the branch. It was brought up, and they thus obtained what they so much desired.

The wind, however, was contrary, and still blowing so strong that it might have been dangerous even had it been favourable for them to commence their voyage. The time, however, was spent by the skipper, aided by my father, in cutting a step in the log for the mast, which was at length fixed securely with wedges driven down on either side, and stayed up with a portion of the rope which could be spared. They had now a vessel of sufficient size not only to carry them, but to convey the whole of the party, should they find us. Still they had several days to wait before they could commence their voyage. They also formed a rudder with one of the spars; and out of a piece of plank which had been secured, along with two other spars, they constructed two oars to assist in impelling their unwieldy craft. At last a light breeze sprang up. There was no little difficulty in getting clear of the branch; but after all their stores had been placed on it, the skipper, by his good management, at last succeeded. The sail was hoisted, and to their great satisfaction the log went ahead. They had, of course, to keep close in by the forest, to avoid the strength of the current; but although a back eddy helped them now and then, their progress was very slow. Still they did go ahead. They had almost abandoned all hopes of finding the mate and the Indian, as the skipper fancied they had both been drowned.

They had been coasting along for some hours, sometimes scarcely going ahead, at others not making more than half a knot or so an hour, when a voice, which seemed to come out of the forest, reached them; and, looking in the direction from which the sound came, they saw two men sitting on a projecting branch of a high tree, whom the skipper recognised as his mate Peter, and Maco the Indian. They being alive proved that they must have obtained food, and this raised their hopes that we also had not died of starvation. How the two men could get down and reach the log was now the question. Captain van Dunk and my father stood in as close as they could venture. Their fear was that the mast might be caught by some of the overhanging branches, or that some submerged bough might strike the log and upset it. Both dangers had to be guarded against. The log was moving very slowly. The skipper therefore hailed the men, telling them to come down and that he would pick them up. The Indian, Maco, was the first to follow his advice. Descending to the lowest branch, which was nearly thirty feet above the surface, he plunged headlong in; and though he disappeared for nearly a minute, he rose again, and soon reached the log. The skipper then told him to take the remaining piece of the rope, and, if possible, carry it up to the branch, so that Peter might have the means of descending. He willingly undertook the task, but expressed his fear that he would not succeed. Suddenly his eye fell on the axe.

"I will do it now," he said, "without fear." Taking the implement in his hand, and the rope, which he fastened round his waist, he swam back to the tree. He was soon seen cutting notches in the trunk, one above the other, and clinging to them with his toes and one hand. He quickly ascended, dragging the rope up with him. Peter had, meantime, descended to the lowest branch, and by stooping down helped him up the last few feet. The rope was secured; then the Indian, giving the axe to Peter, told him to swim off with it to the log. Peter quickly descended, having only a few feet to drop into the water; and as he was a fair swimmer, though not a diver, he soon reached the log, and my father and the skipper hauled him up. The gallant Indian then casting off the rope plunged with it into the stream, towing it off to the log. He was not a minute behind Peter, and was hauled up somewhat exhausted by his exertions.

The two men told my father and the skipper that, on being left behind, they had swum to a branch at some distance from where they had been left, and having climbed the tree to which it belonged, had wandered, by means of the sepos interlacing the boughs, some way through the forest, till they reached the tree on which my father and the skipper saw them. They had obtained an abundance of food; but having no means of lighting a fire, they had been compelled to eat it raw. Their animal food consisted chiefly of young birds, lizards, tree-frogs, and grubs; and their vegetable food, of some plums and other fruits, and the inside leaves of the assai palm, and various nuts.

The sail, which had been lowered, was again hoisted, and the voyage was continued. Darkness came on, but the crew of the log was now sufficiently strong to be divided into two watches, and the skipper and my father were able to lie down and rest, while Peter took the helm, and Maco, the Indian, kept a lookout ahead, and stood ready to lower the sail if necessary. Thus all night long they continued gliding on, but very slowly. This, however, enabled them to keep a bright lookout in the forest. Great was their satisfaction when, the next morning, they caught sight of me,—their anxiety about us was relieved.

So great was our joy on finding our poor father, that all the dangers in prospect were overlooked; and had we not still been mourning the loss of our dear mother, we should have been, I believe, perfectly happy.

Our father was astonished at the comfortable abode we had erected, and at the ample supply of provisions we had obtained. The skipper and Peter were, however, anxious to continue the voyage; and Uncle Paul also wished to go with them, in the hope that the mouth of some stream might be found near at hand, up which they might proceed till they could get on dry land. The grand idea of the skipper was to reach firm ground, and then to build a vessel in which to return to Guiana. He felt confident that it could be accomplished.

"Where there is a will there is a way. It can be done, and it shall be done, if health and strength be allowed us!" he exclaimed, with Dutch determination, which an enemy would have called obstinacy. My father, however, was unwilling to allow Marian to undertake the fatigue to which she would have been subjected. It was necessary, therefore, even though the log could have carried us all, that some should remain with her. He naturally resolved to do so. Tim, having found his master, was not willing to leave him; and Arthur decided also to stop and help my father in taking care of Marian. The skipper consented to leave Sambo to assist in hunting for food. I was eager for the adventure, and my father, after some little hesitation, allowed me to go.

Kallolo had consented to leave the monkey for the amusement of Marian; but no sooner did Quacko see his master on the log, than he sprang off and took up his post on the further end, showing very clearly that he had no intention of being left behind. "Pray let him go," said Marian. "I would on no account detain him, for he probably would be very unhappy if separated from Kallolo." Quacko, therefore, became one of our crew, or rather a passenger, for it was not to be expected that he would do much towards the navigation of the log.

The day was spent in making some preparations for the voyage and in exchanging provisions, the skipper generously offering to leave the cask of biscuits, some herrings, and a couple of bottles of his beloved schiedam with my father. "If we find the mouth of a river, and believe that we can easily sail up it, we will return for you, as it might take us some weeks to complete our craft, and you would not wish to live up the tree all that time," he said.

At daybreak the next morning we commenced our voyage. A strong breeze filled our sail, and we glided on with greater speed than the log had before moved through the water. Among other articles which had been put on board were a number of large nuts from the cuja-tree, with which Uncle Paul proposed forming floats or lifebuoys for each of the party. "We might," he observed, "have to swim on shore, or they might help on some other occasion to save our lives." Kallolo had manufactured a quantity of line from the fibres of a tree of the palm species in our grove, so that we had an abundance of cordage. After we were afloat and on our voyage, I could not help thinking that we might have built a canoe, which would certainly have been more manageable than the unwieldy log; but Mynheer van Dunk preferred the more stable conveyance.

As the wind continued fresh and favourable, we made pretty fair way, and were in good spirits. As we went along we kept a watchful eye for any indications of an opening on our larboard side; but mile after mile was accomplished, and only a long line of forest met our sight. We sailed on by night as well as by day, to take advantage of the favourable breeze; and by keeping close in, sometimes even between islands of trees, if I may so describe them, we escaped the strength of the current.

The natives, I should have said, had brought a number of thin straight branches, with which to manufacture bows, and arrows, and lances, that we might have the means of killing game when our provisions should be expended. Kallolo, indeed, understood how to make the celebrated zabatana, or blowpipe, though he had not been able to obtain the wood he required. How could he, indeed, he observed, find the materials for concocting the woorali poison into which to dip the point of his darts? He hoped, however, when we reached the shore, to obtain the necessary ingredients, and to form a blowpipe, with which he promised to kill as much game as we should require.

We had sailed on four days, when we reached a point, on rounding which we saw a wide expanse of water before us, with another point in the far distance. We knew therefore that we were at the mouth of a considerable river. It was what we were looking for, and the wind, which had changed to the northward, would enable us to sail up it. The current, however, was setting down the river, and just as we had eased off the sheet, intending to run up it, the wind failed and we were speedily drifted out again. We could not reach a tree to which to make fast, and there we lay, floating helplessly on the calm surface. After drifting for half a mile along the edge of the forest, we found ourselves in slack water, in which we lay, neither advancing nor receding. Our food was running somewhat short, but, fortunately, we had our hooks and lines, and taking some dried herrings as bait, we set to work to fish. We had not long to wait before we caught several somewhat curiously shaped creatures, which we should from their appearance have hesitated to eat; had not Kallolo, who knew most of them, told us which were wholesome and which poisonous. Some he immediately knocked on the head and threw overboard. As we were unwilling to light a fire on the raft, we cut them up and dried them in the sun. Though not very palatable, they enabled us to economise the rest of our provisions; and the natives, and even Peter, had no objection to eat them raw.

For three days we lay totally becalmed. Fortunately we most of us had some occupation. Uncle Paul, the skipper, and I were engaged in making floats from the large nuts I spoke of. Having bored a hole, we scraped out the kernel, and then stopped up the orifice again with some resinous substance which Uncle Paul had brought for the purpose. The natives, assisted by the mate, were manufacturing spears and bows and arrows. When not thus occupied, we were engaged in fishing. Most of our hooks were small, and we could only venture to haul up moderately-sized fish with them. We had, however, one big hook with a strong line, and we hoped with it to catch a proportionately large fish. We were not disappointed. I had the line in my hand. Before long I felt a strong pull. I gave a jerk, and when I fancied that the unwary creature was firmly hooked, I began to haul away. I had, however, to call to my friends for assistance; for I thought it far more likely that the fish would pull me in, than that I should succeed in pulling him out. Uncle Paul and the skipper then took hold of the line. Our fear was that the fish would break away, for there was not line enough to play him, and our only way of securing him was by main force. At length we got his head out of the water, when the Indians exclaimed, "Periecu! periecu!" and stooping down, and putting their fingers in the fish's gills, they hauled it up. He was upwards of three feet in length, and covered with beautiful scales—indeed, I have never seen a finer fish. Some blows on the head finally secured him. The Indians said that his flesh might be preserved by drying, but thought some days would be required for the operation. We preferred eating some of it fresh, but not raw; so we began to think of lighting a fire.

For some time we had been drifting much closer in with the forest, and we agreed that by a little exertion in rowing we might get up to some of the trees, from which we could obtain a supply of fuel. This we accomplished, and lowering our sail, and unstepping our mast, we got close in under the trees. With our axe and knives we soon got a supply of dry branches. As no place presented itself on any of the lower branches where we could light a fire, we resolved to do so on the log. Having piled up our fuel, we paddled out again into the open water. Uncle Paul had his tinder-box, and a few cherished matches—not that we were entirely dependent on them, as the natives could always, by a little exertion, kindle a flame. We did not step our mast, which, with the sail and yard, lay alongside. Our fire was soon lighted, and a portion of our periecu was spitted and placed over it to roast. The fish appeared to be cooking famously, as we sat on the log, some at one end and some at the other. Suddenly a light wind got up, and in an instant what was our dismay to see the whole centre part of the log on fire! Up it blazed, spreading so rapidly that we had scarcely time, some seizing one article and some another, to spring overboard with our floats round our waists. Quacko in a great fright clung to Kallolo's back, where he sat chattering away, loudly expressing his annoyance at what had occurred. Maco made a dash on the half-roasted periecu, which would otherwise have run a great risk of being overdone, and leaped after us. Happily nothing of value was left behind, while our mast and sail, being in the water, were also safe. There we were, floating about round the log, which, from the fierce way the flames blazed up, would, we feared, be soon burned to the water's edge. "This must not be!" cried the skipper and Uncle Paul almost at the same time. "Pipe all hands to extinguish the fire!" Suiting the action to the word, they setting the example, we all, as we floated about on our lifebuoys, began to throw water on the flames with our hands.

"Heave away, my lads! heave away, and put out the flames!" cried Uncle Paul. Fortunately the fire had not got any real hold on the log, having fed chiefly on the dry mass of parasitic plants which thickly covered it, so that, by throwing water over it merely with the palms of our hands, we managed in a short time to put it out. Maco, who was the first to climb on to the deck, uttering a loud cry jumped off again still more rapidly, it being as yet far too hot to make a comfortable resting-place. We therefore continued for some time longer to throw up the water to cool it.

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