‘What,’ said Selkirk to himself, ’in an island where this frightful monkey has never before been, she has succeeded in finding without difficulty the herba sacra, that which has restored her to health and strength! and I, Selkirk, who have studied at one of the principal universities of Scotland, I am vainly sighing for the plant which would suffice to render me completely happy! Is instinct then superior to reason? To believe this, would be ingratitude to Providence. Instinct is necessary, indispensable to animals, because they cannot benefit by the traditions of their ancestors. The monkey has consulted her instinct, and it has inspired her; if I consult reason, what will be her counsel? She will advise me to do like the monkey; to seek the herb of which I feel so great a want, or at least to endeavor to substitute for it something analogous; to choose, try, and taste, in short, to follow the example of Marimonda! I will not fail to do so; but it is nature reversed, and, for a man, it is too humiliating to see himself reduced to imitate a monkey!’
The Hammock.—Poison.—Success.—A Calm under the Tropics.—Invasion of the Island.—War and Plunder.—The Oasis.—The Spy-Glass. —Reconciliation.
Do you see, upon a carpet of fresh verdure, the sandy margin of which is bathed by a caressing wave, that hammock suspended to the branches of those fine trees? What happy mortal, during the heat of the day, is there gently rocked, gently refreshed, by a light sea breeze? It is Selkirk; and this hammock is his sail, attached to his tall myrtles by strips of goat-skin. Perhaps he is resting after the fatigues of the day? No, it is the day of the Lord, and Selkirk now can consecrate the Sabbath to repose. With his eyes half closed, he is inhaling, undoubtedly, the perfume of his myrtles, the soft fragrance of his heliotropes? No, something sweeter still pre-occupies him. Is he dreaming of his friends in Scotland, of his first love? He has never known friendship, and the beautiful Catherine is far from his memory. What is he then doing in his hammock? He is smoking his pipe.
His pipe! Has he a pipe? He has them of all forms, all sizes—made of spiral shells of various kinds, of maripa-nuts, of large reeds; all set in handles of myrtle, stalks of coarse grain, or the hollow bones of birds. In these he is luxurious; he has become a connoisseur; but this has not been the difficulty. Before every thing else, tobacco was wanting.
In consequence of his encounter with Marimonda, he ransacked the woods and meadows, seeking among all plants those which approximated nearest to the nature of the nicotiana. As it was necessary to judge by their taste, he bit their leaves—chewed them, still in imitation of the monkey: but, to his new and profound humiliation, less skilful or less fortunate than the latter, he obtained at first no other result than a sort of poisoning: one of these plants being poisonous.