Images de page
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER X.

WHAT LAME Felix

SAID ABOUT

Books.

A blessing is a blessing in whatever guise it comes.

a

A good book, a good friend."

Knowledge is no burden."

He is a great necromancer, for he asks counsel of the dead, i.e., books."

6 Years know more than books."

The worst of a bad book is, it cannot repent.

CHAPTER X.

WHAT LAME FELIX SAID ABOUT BOOKS.

[ocr errors]

ALLO! there ; hallo! What are you doing

to that book ? I am sure that is not the

way in which a book should be treated. What harm has it done that you should kick it about? Books are great blessings, and he who ill-treats a blessing does not deserve to have one."

Such was the outcry from Lame Felix, as, leaning over his garden gate one eyening, he saw a group of boys busily engaged in, the not very laudable occupation, of kicking a volume about the road. Whether it was a Latin Delectus or a Euclid, over the contents of which the boys had been puzzling their brains, and which almost all boys look upon as their natural enemies-and were indulging in this mode of procedure as a kind of vent for their pent-up feelings of disgust, I know not; but certain it was, the book was

158

SHIPWRECKED SAILORS.

a very

being desecrated by dust and kicks, until it presented miserable appearance

ideed. “Come, come, lads ! I don't like to see a book illused; they are not written, and printed, and bound, or bought for that purpose.

Come inside a little while, and let us have a palaver, as the Indians say, about the matter. As I said before, books are great blessings, and should be treated as such ; but in this age there is such an abundance that they are not valued as they should be. Like a great many other things—such as light, sleep, and health, which come to us regularly—they are so common we cease to recognise them as valuable blessings; we require to lose them to find out their worth ; and had any of you lads been without books for months together, as I have, you would value them more, and never so far forget yourselves as to do them dishonour.

“I remember, many years ago now, being shipwrecked, and with half-a-dozen comrades cast up and left on a sand key in the West Indies. A few stunted bushes was all the vegetation the island, or key, afforded. No signs of animal life, save that of birds and tortoises, who resorted there to lay their eggs, could be seen ; while, to make matters worse, not a drop of water could be discovered anywhere; thus we had the prospect of death from one of the most cruel of its agencies—namely, starvation.

“Some miles from our key, on either side, we could see beautiful islands all covered with vegetation, but

DIGGING FOR WATER.

159

too far off for us to reach without a boat; we often cast longing looks in their direction, while imagination pictured to herself how - much more preferable our lot would have been had Providence seen fit to cast us up on either of those islands instead of the one on which we had found refuge.

“ You see, boys, although our lives had been mercifully preserved, we were not contented; we regarded the mercy as being incomplete, because we had not been thrown amidst plenty. Human nature is never satisfied. Still, our lot was not an enviable one; nevertheless, we set to work to make the best of it, and gathered together enough pieces of the wreck, which the sea threw up, to construct for ourselves a kind of hut as a protection from the blazing sun, while, by digging in the sand, we secured a sufficient number of tortoise eggs to last us, with care, for some little time, and once or twice we were so fortunate as to kill a tortoise; but water was what we most of all wanted ; for although we ate many of the eggs raw, they did not sufficiently alleviate our thirst as a good draught of water would have done; and I must say it was very tantalising to see water heaving and rolling all round us, and yet we dare not touch a drop.

“At last, one of my unfortunate comrades, who had been much among the West Indian Islands, proposed digging a kind of well. He had known such a thing done before with success. We set to work, and with our hands, and bits of wood, after considerable

a

« PrécédentContinuer »