At Prospect Hill they found the outhouses and plantations in much the same position as at Waldeck. Here the crimson flowers of the caper plant, the white flowers of the tea plant, and the rich blossoms of the clove tree, perfumed the air and promised a fragrant harvest. This was a charming caravansary, all ready with its smiles to welcome the illustrious colonists as soon as they presented themselves.
These points being settled to the satisfaction of the three pioneers, a sheep was taken on board the pinnace at the request of Willis—who seemed to have taken a violent fancy for mutton chops—and they set sail towards the east.
In the first instance they made for a projecting head-land that seemed to bar their progress in that direction, and, much to the astonishment of the Pilot, they entered a cavern that formed the entrance to a natural tunnel. This, besides being an interesting feature in the coast scenery, was one of the treasures of the colony, for it contained vast quantities of edible birds’ nests, so much prized by the Chinese. The voyagers did not, however, tarry here; these were not the objects they were now in search of. Nautilus Bay and the Bay of Pearls were likewise traversed unheeded, nor could the attractive banks of the St. John, fringed with verdant foliage, divert them from the project they had in contemplation.
Wise men, when they indulge in folly, are often more foolish than real fools; so it was with Willis: now that he had joined in the scheme, he evinced more ardor in its execution than the young men themselves. He said that it would not be enough to capture skins for Mr. and Mrs. Wolston, they must also capture one a-piece for Mary and Sophia likewise, and talked as if the adventure of Sir Marmaduke and his seventeen tigers had been a bagatelle.
Some hours before dark they landed at a spot well known to both Fritz and Jack; it was a place where Becker and his sons had some time before been engaged in deadly conflict with a herd of lions, and where one of their dogs had fallen a victim to the enraged monarchs of the forest.
“My plan,” said Willis, “is to kill the sheep and place the quarters on the shore, just as bait is thrown into the water to bring the fish within the net.”
“A reminiscence of Sir Marmaduke,” said Jack.
“Then,” continued Willis, “we shall light a fire to take the place of the sun, who is about to retire for the night. This done, I propose that we should return to the pinnace, keep the mutton within rifle range, and riddle the skins that come to feast upon it.”
After some opposition on the part of Fritz and Jack, who preferred to encounter their antagonists on more equal terms, the proposal of Willis was ultimately agreed to.
ON THE WATCH—FECUNDITY OF PLANTS AND ANIMALS—LATEST NEWS FROM THE MOON—A DEATH-KNELL EVERY SECOND—THE INCONVENIENCES OF BEING TOO NEAR THE SUN—NARCOTICS—WILLIS CONTRALTO—HUNTING TURNED UPSIDE DOWN—ELECTRIC CLOUDS—PARTIALITIES OF LIGHTNING—BELLS AND BELL-RINGERS—CONDUCTING RODS—THE RETURN—THE TWO SISTERS—TOBY BECOMES A DRAGOMAN.