And thus they were enjoying their pandemonium when my father, the skipper, and I left them in the “wee sma’ hours” and retired to rest.
How long they kept it up I know not, but when I awoke and dressed at daylight all was quiet. At six all hands were called, and a sorry sight they presented. Ross had mounted a jury-leg, while among the other men no less than three black eyes appeared, beside bruised cheeks, and red swollen noses. However, all were friendly again, and agreed that they had hardly ever before spent such a jolly night. Such was a sailor’s idea of a jolly time or “high old spree!”
Breakfast over, my goods were hauled from the beach and placed in the different rooms and sheds according to their kind, while by noon the “Cormorant,” with her Blue Peter flying, was ready for a start northward to dear old England. The Guernseaise had departed amid give and take cheering directly after breakfast, so that only the crew of the vessel remained. My father bade me an affectionate farewell on the deck of the vessel, but at the last embrace I felt too full of emotion to speak, for a lump was in my throat, and a tear started from my father’s eye and rolled down his bronzed cheek, so that I knew that he, too, was greatly moved at losing me for such a long period. A firm grip of the hand told without words how we, father and son, loved each other, and to hide my emotion I tumbled over the bulwarks into the dingy, and was pulled ashore by a couple of hands, amid the hearty cheers of the men who stood on deck. They gave me a salute of twelve guns (fired from two revolvers).
I stood on the rocky shore and waved a tablecloth tied to a boat-hook till the vessel was hull down on the horizon, and then turned my face to my island home, not feeling nearly so happy as I had anticipated a month before. Alone! I felt as if the whole world had departed from me, and that I was the sole survivor of the human race.
[Illustration: Decorative chapter heading]
FIRST THOUGHTS AND IMPRESSIONS—A TOUR OF THE ISLAND AND DESCRIPTION.
As I walked up the rocky path leading to the house, I must confess I felt anything but sprightly. I felt that Crusoe life, after all, was not all caviare. I was very depressed, and must admit a few tears, as the whole force of what I had undertaken presented itself vividly to my mind. What if I met with an accident? What if I were taken ill? Suppose someone put in at night and cut my throat for the sake of plunder? Who would help me? Who would know of my position? Might I not die any one of a hundred deaths without the fact being known for weeks, perhaps months? What did this idiotic idea of mine amount to after all? Where was the pleasure? Would it not be better to be home in dear old Barton with my skiff and pretty Priscilla?
Such were some of my thoughts, but my depression I cannot so readily sprinkle on paper, and will not try to describe it. Let it suffice that I was depressed, and deeply too.