Thither he transports all the brands preserved under the ashes of his hearth; he makes a pile of them; throws upon it armfuls of chips, bark and leaves. The flame soon runs along the bushes which encircle the thicket; and, when the sun goes down, an immense column of fire illuminates all this part of the island, and throws its light far over the ocean.
Standing on the shore, Selkirk passes the night with his eyes fixed on the sea, his ear listening attentively to catch the distant sound of a vessel; but nothing presents itself to his glance upon the luminous and sparkling waves, and amid their dashing he hears no other sound but that of the trees and vines crackling in the flames.
At morning all has disappeared. The fire has exhausted itself without going beyond its bounds, and the sea, calm and tranquil, shows nothing upon its surface but a few flocks of gulls.
A week passes away, during which Selkirk remains thoughtful and taciturn; he rarely leaves the shore; he still beholds the sports of his cats and his kids, but no longer smiles at them; Marimonda, by way of amusing him, renews in his presence her surprising feats, but the attention of the master is elsewhere.
Nevertheless, he cannot allow himself time to dream long with impunity; his reserve of smoked beef is nearly exhausted; to save it, he has again resorted to the shell-fish, which his stomach loathes; to the sea-crabs, of which he is tired; he needs other nourishment to restore his strength. He shakes off his lethargy, takes his lasso, his game-bag. His plan now is, not to hunt the kids, but the goats themselves.
As he is about to set out, Marimonda approaches, preparing to accompany him. In his present frame of mind, Selkirk wishes to be alone, and makes her comprehend, by signs, that she must remain at home and watch the flock; but this time, contrary to her custom, she does not seem disposed to obey. Notwithstanding his orders, she follows him, stops when he turns, recommences to follow him, and, by her supplicating looks and expressive gestures, seeks to obtain the permission which he persists in refusing. At last Selkirk speaks severely, and she submits, still protesting against it by her air of sadness and depression. Was this, on her part, caprice or foresight? No one has the secret of these inexplicable instincts, which sometimes reveal to animals the presence of an invisible enemy, or the approach of a disaster.
At evening, Selkirk had not returned! Marimonda passed the night in awaiting him, uttering plaintive cries.
On the morrow the morning rolled away, then the day, then the night, and the cabin remained deserted, and Marimonda in vain scaled the trees and hills in the neighborhood to recover traces of her master.
What had become of him?
The Precipice.—A Dungeon in a Desert Island.—Resignation.—The passing Bird.—The browsing Goat.—The bending Tree.—Attempts at Deliverance. —Success.—Death of Marimonda.