‘Young man,’ said Stradling, ’I have been obliged to be severe for the sake of an example; but you have been sufficiently punished by the time you have passed below there,’—and he pointed to the ship’s hold. ‘Now, your wish shall be granted. You shall be allowed to land.’
And the rare smile which sometimes hovered on his lips, stole over his rigid face.
‘So much the better,’ replied Selkirk, laconically.
The boat was let down; he entered it, and ten minutes afterwards disembarked on a green shore, where the waves, as they broke upon it, seemed to murmur softly in his ear the word, liberty!
The boat immediately rejoined the ship, which set sail, coasted along Chili and Patagonia, and re-entered the Northern Sea by the Straits of Magellan.
Inspection of the Country.—Marimonda.—A City seen through the Fog. —The Sea every where.—Dialogue with a Toucan.—The first Shot. —Declaration of War.—Vengeance.—A Terrestrial Paradise.
While watching the departure of the Swordfish, Alexander Selkirk felt the same sensation as on that day when he had seen the doors of the college of St. Andrew thrown open for his exit; once more he was his own master. Now, however, it is at some thousands of miles from his country that he must reap the benefits of his independence, and this idea embitters his emotions of joy.
But is he not about to find countrymen at Coquimbo? And if their society should be unpleasing?—if their habits, their mode of life, their persons, should become objects of antipathy to the misanthropic Selkirk, as it is but natural to fear? Well! after all, no engagement binds him to them; he will be always free to enter, in the capacity of a sailor, the first vessel which may leave for Europe.
Determined to act as shall seem good to him,—to make some excursions into the interior of the continent, if an opportunity presents itself, and he will know how to make one,—he casts a first glance at the land of his adoption.
Before him extends a vast shore, studded with groves of trees, covered with fine turf and little flowers joyfully unfolding their petals to the sun: two streams, having their source at the very base of the opposite hills, after having meandered around this immense lawn, unite almost at his feet.
He bends down to one of these streams, fills the hollow of his hand with water, and tastes it, as a libation, and as a toast to the generous land which has just received him; the water is excellent; he plucks a flower, and continues his inspection.
On his left rise high mountains, terraced and verdant, excepting at their summits, on one of which he perceives a goat, with long horns, stationed there immovable like a sentinel, and whose delicate profile is clearly defined on the azure of the sky. On the side towards the sea, the mountains, bending their gray and naked heads, resemble stone giants, watching the movements of the wave which dashes at their feet.