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her by the pet name of Datya, because she is dearer to me than
Thereupon Uwen and Teda took leave, and bent their steps towards the neck of land. They had not proceeded far, when Uwen turned round, and, pointing in the direction of the cottage, exclaimed:
* It's much nicer there than it is at the parsonage !
Teda nodded. “Yes,' she said ; 'it is more cheerful, and therefore the food tastes better. But what made you cry?'
Because I have neither father nor mother now. The girl remarked, 'But you ought to be very glad that they are in heaven. We only live to get there.'
The boy pondered a moment, then he said :
? Teda, too, required a little time to consider before she answered :
They are just like everybody else, and we ought to thank God when He takes His people to Himself. But I would ask Him not to do it just yet, for then I should have neither home nor food. What are you looking at now?'
Uwen had turned round once more. He replied : 'I think my mother must have been just like her.' Teda now took him by the hand.
'Come along; it will be dark before we get back. Do you think we had better say that we have been at Walmot's ? Perhaps they won't let us go again.' “We must always tell the truth.'
But if no one asks us? It is no untruth to say nothing.' After a moment's further consideration, the girl continued :
Perhaps it will be best to tell mother, and let her know that we have had something to eat; then she certainly won't prevent us from going again.'
Uwen, too, seemed to consider this the wisest course. They had by this time reached their float, and they soon pushed across to the other side. The boy seemed somewhat restless again when they reached the water; then Teda said to him :
It was a good thing you made Freda a raft; we can now put out both together like the ships Walmot has been telling us about, and we shall see which sinks.'
The summer inundation of the isthmus between the two parts of the island did not continue long, and to the children's great regret the rafts could no longer be used, but lay on the dry ground waiting for the arrival of winter, while Teda and Uwen once more strolled on foot across the neck of land to their place of meeting with Freda. The rain, however, often poured down in the afternoon, but it never troubled them, for often, even when it was fair, the children left their retreat of their own accord, and betook themselves to Walmot's little cottage. They always felt happy in her cheerful dwelling, which presented so strong a contrast to the dull parsonage. Deena had not the slightest objection to the visits which the children made; it gave her so much less trouble when they came back in the evening with their clothes mended, and needing no supper, while Pastor Remmert never for a moment thought of asking how the two occupied themselves out of lessonhours.
It was not, however, to gratify their appetite, or to get their clothes mended, that the children paid such frequent visits to the cottage; it was rather the loving disposition of Walmot, and her interesting stories, that attracted them thither. They never heard at home of such things, and their childish fancy had begun to long for them. Whenever they came, Walmot had always some new tale or legend to relate, some droll or serious adventure; her store seemed to be inexhaustible. In her young days she had met with a translation of the Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York,' by Daniel Defoe; she remembered a great deal of this wonderful book, and when memory was at fault her lively imagination filled
the gap. Nothing pleased the children more than to listen to this, and their minds fully realized all the doings of the lonely shipwrecked mariner.
Walmot always found some link of association between her story and the listeners ; no prosy moral nor painted application, but something that seemed to suggest itself naturally, and stamped the simple genuine emotions of the heart as man's best and noblest guide, for himself and others, through this life. Each one has only to ask himself whether a thing is honest, and just, and kind, and then he will surely know what he ought to do, for the right is written on every heart, so that all may read it who will. True, in all circumstances, everybody must do his best to help himself, just as Robinson Crusoe did; but unless cast, like him, on a desert island, no one should think of himself first, but rather think how he can help others, and by his efforts promote their happiness and welfare, and save them from trial and trouble. Walmot never made any pretence of preaching; she only threw out well-timed hints, and pointed out the happy consequences that resulted from gentleness, forbearance, and mutual love. In the daily behaviour of the children, she often noticed that such examples were more effectual in preventing quarrels than any actual reproof would have been ; and by her plain common-sense she managed, with equal judgment and kindness, to avert every little discord that self-will might have provoked. The results of this treatment soon became very evident; disputes and bad tempers became rarer every day. The characters of Teda and Freda were too directly opposed for them to have agreed in everything, but they both strove to avoid any serious quarrel, and to attach themselves more and more closely to each other. This was an effort only on Teda's side, for Freda was always naturally willing to give way; she had no personal, selfish desire when she perceived that what she wished was opposed to another's wish. Uwen did his best to follow this example ; not, indeed, so far as she was concerned, but in his relations with Teda. He gave way to her, as he had done from the first, in every wish and act; he treated them both as if they were his sisters; but Teda like the favourite one, and as if he were her junior. The seed silently sown by Walmot was evidently taking root in his heart also
On the two opposite sides of the island there were two equally opposite schools. The one bore the name of school. In it the children's minds were trained by Pastor Remmert to grasp his view of the vanity of earthly life. The other was carried on in the afternoon without any of the three suspecting that they were at a school, where they were being taught to understand the value, the beauty, and the joy of this fleeting existence. The teacher herself would never have dreamed that she was exercising so powerful an influence.
Some weeks before, the three playfellows had marked out for themselves a certain portion of the downs as a sort of Robinson Crusoe's island, and over this they rambled in search of curiosities. But it became at last impossible, even for a child's fancy, to make anything really new and wonderful out of the uniform features of the well-known and oft-seen hills and hollows of the sandy downs. They vainly longed for some untrodden spot of ground which their imaginations could transform into an uninhabited desert.
It happened that one bright August afternoon a cloudless sky stretched above them ; not a breath of wind stirred the blades of coarse grass growing on the shore; the tide had gone out much further than usual, and the shallows seemed to extend before them without limit. The children waded through the watery plain on and on, until all at once something stood up before them glittering in the sunshine; now it disappeared, and now it shone out again. It was one of the little uninhabited islets of the East Frisian archipelago. Instantly Uwen shouted, “That's it; that's Crusoe's island. I believe we can easily reach it; the tide is lower than it has ever been.'
His companions now recognised the object too. They shrieked with delight, like the sea-gulls overhead, and rushed joyously forward.
The goal was at some distance, but gradually the white strand of the little island glistened bright before them, as they drew nearer and nearer. In half an hour they had reached it. And now, indeed, a strange, mysterious world lay before them. The ground, like their own island home, was only of sand and coarse grass, but above it hovered swarms of living creatures, their wings glistening in the sun. This quiet, lonely islet had been chosen by the sea-gull as a fit spot for hatching its eggs. The female birds sat motionless on their sand-nests, while hundreds of the male birds, with their downy plumes of dazzling white, wheeled round and round in the air, making it resound with their shrill cries. This noisy throng in the midst of the desert waste worked powerfully on the imagination of the children. “Oh ! shouted Uwen, 'we can live on the gulls' eggs like Robinson Crusoe !
All at once, however, the soft sand came to an end ; a channel of water encircled the island, so that the little explorers were brought to a sudden standstill. What was to be done now ? Each face expressed a desire to get across at any risk. The lad looked carefully about him ; then he cried :
'It isn't deep; there is no danger! We can easily wade through; we have only to carry our clothes in our hands overhead.'
No sooner said than done ; he quickly pulled off his own clothes. For the girls it was still easier. With their eyes eagerly fixed on the islet before them, they hurriedly drew off their few garments, and, holding them overhead as high as they could, dashed boldly into the water. They never thought of danger. Uwen had said it was not deep ; and even if it had been, he could swim, and would help them safely over.
Uwen, however, was quite right; the channel, though somewhat broad, was shallow, for it did not reach higher than the elbows of the girls. They reached the shore in great triumph, with the garments they had kept so carefully dry. They seated themselves or the sand as they were about to draw on their clothes; but at that moment they were startled by the whole swarm of brooding gulls rising suddenly, as with one impulse, from their nests, wildly screeching in the air. The noise was deafening; thousands upon thousands swarmed above their heads, covering the heavens, and hiding the sun like a sudden snow-storm. All around, as far as the eye could reach, lay the forsaken nests, and there in the sand-holes could be seen the dark-speckled eggs, lying on a very scanty bed composed of a few dry blades of grass.
From above them rained showers of down and feathers.
The children stood for a moment bewildered; then they burst forth with a shout of joy. They forgot everything, their clothes as well ; or, rather, Uwen cried :
'Leave them there ; we shall have to wade back again. Come quick, that we may find Robinson Crusoe's cave !
So they rushed over the sand-hills, shouting as they went towards the centre of the desolate island. It was the first time they had run about in such a guise; but in the hot sunshine they felt it far pleasanter and less cumbersome than with their garments on, and they said to one another how stupid they had been never to have tried it before, like the fisher-boys and girls were wont to do in summer-time when the first waves rolled in with the rising tide. Except the nests, the children found nothing but what they were daily accustomed to see; but fancy enabled them to people the spot, and paint it in the most vivid colours, and so they had a glorious time of it on the soft warm sands.