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bows, quite significant of mutual respect at meeting each other in such unusual finery.
Short as the time was that we had been together, enough had passed to establish perfect confidence; so that my gentle Eliza did not hesitate to remain with Diego and the women, while I took Xavier to the ship, to help himself to a saw, an axe, and an adze, and such other things as he might require. He was highly amused with the construction of the plank house, which I showed him in our way; and he viewed it over and over again, inside and out, to my no small entertainment too. After getting our carpenter tools, we made quick march back to the plantation, and in less than an hour I had the satisfaction to see both Diego and Xavier engaged in their respective employments. "I am happy to see this," said my dear wife; "it has pleased God, my Edward, to relieve you from a toil, that, in such a climate, could not have been pursued without ultimate destruction to your health." I indeed gratefully acknowledged the signal providence; and my sweet angel (whose soul was always full of heavenly thoughts) soon after left us, taking with her Mira, and her mother Rota, with a view to prepare food for us and them. As Diego was not using the spade, Xavier borrowed it, and commenced digging holes for the uprights of his hut; but the ground proved rocky, being a red sandstone, hard within a few inches of the surface soil, so that he could not accomplish his purpose with it. I therefore took him to the plank house, and gave him the crow-bar I had used in removing the stones of the cavern; and at the same time I made him
take with him another hoe and spade, and signed to him to find his way back to Diego. I remained with my wife, who, with her women, I found very busy boiling salt beef and pork, and making flour cakes.
Not needing my help, I left them, and returned on board to get up some bags of nails of various sizes; and, with a view of expediting Xavier's work in completing the huts, I brought some pieces of torn sails on shore, of which there was an abundance. On rejoining Eliza after this my task, I found dinner on the table, and Rota departing with our largest basket, well replenished with beef and pork, and flour cakes, for her friends at the plantation my dear wife had also furnished her with four knives, two tin cups, and two wooden platters, to eat off. The good negress had proved herself handy in the culinary art; so that, to my great satisfaction, the object of my anxious care had not been under the least necessity, as heretofore, of broiling herself over the fire. As we sat down to dinner, she was sensible of this relief; and although she never had murmured, she now smilingly acknowledged her obligation to the assistance she had received. It were, perhaps, difficult to ascertain whether we or the negroes rejoiced most in the providential connexion, which our similar misfortune had brought about. No doubt their change was very great: escaped from shipwreck, and most likely from slavery, hitherto strangers to Christian kindness, they must feel sensibly the comfort of their lot. We, on our part, valued their services, and hoped, by kind and wise measures, to
secure their attachment, and consequent happiness. I knew there was nothing pressing at the plantation for Diego to do; I therefore sent Mira for him, in about an hour after we had dined, which message was conveyed by my merely pronouncing the name of "Diego," and pointing for her to go. They soon returned together, when I took him to the ship's side, and gave him the bags of nails to carry, and then showed him the canvass which I had also deposited there; by which he understood me, that he was to come back for it, and take all safe to the silk cotton tree, whither I and my household, that is, my wife, Mira, and Fidele, leisurely preceded him. I easily made Xavier understand, that the canvass was to be nailed to the sides of his structures, instead of boards; and also, for the present, to be used as a covering to the roofs. He had not been idle during my absence, having excavated several places for the uprights of one hut, which, he explained to me, were to be made by sawing a plank lengthways into three-a very good idea. He saw I comprehended him, and expressed my satisfaction. While I stood by, Diego took the crow-bar, and went on with the hole-digging; while Xavier commenced with the saw, no doubt proud to show me how well he could handle it; and, indeed, I was highly gratified in seeing him quite at home in his work. In the midst of this, we were agreeably surprised by seeing the two women take a hoe each, and go over among the Indian corn, and commence hoeing the ground well up round all the stems. No doubt Diego had sent them; but it was a heartfelt delight to us, to
observe such a spirit of industry manifested by the whole party.
While they were at work, my dear wife and myself walked arm in arm about the plantation: we visited our shaddock and orange plants at the north-east corner, and marked with pleasure the rapid growth of the latter. Strange as it may appear, we felt ourselves exalted in rank, by the situation in which we then stood; and, without being tainted by pride, we experienced a sentiment within, which, affecting our external demeanour almost unconsciously, was likely the more to maintain our dignity with our people, without lessening our real kindness and sympathy towards them. As we walked along, my dear Eliza often exclaimed, "How gracious is God, my Edward! How, in a day, has he taken off all our burdens, and made us the protectors and supporters of those he has sent to serve us !" On coming round again where the melons grew, she requested me to cut two that were ripe, one of which she sent by Mira to her father, and the other she cut in pieces, and gave it to Rota, and the other woman, whom they called "Hachinta,” a name that puzzled us a good deal, but which, I have since learned, the Spaniards write "Jacinta."
As the sun was now sinking towards his setting, and there was plenty of provisions left from the people's dinner, for their after-meals, we took our leave of them for the day. When returning to our little land home, my wife and her 'damsel engaged themselves a few minutes in housing the broods of ducks, which we found still loitering about the spring;
from whence we walked leisurely up to the plank house, followed by the goats: they and their kids here received some slices of pumpkin from their mistress's caressing hand. The poor armadillo, too, was soliciting food at the bars of his enclosure, which was bestowed by the same kind donor. Mira had never seen one of these creatures, so it excited her wonder, and elicited some ejaculatory remarks, to us not quite intelligible.
Coffee was soon in preparation; on handing which, the negro girl raised a smile in my wife and myself, by calling her Eliza, when she addressed her, in presenting it. This was very natural, having heard me so address my wife; but I thought it right to show her the proper distinction; and although I was ignorant of the Spanish language, yet I knew it called ladies, Donna and Señora: I therefore said, "No: Señora." Mira instantly corrected herself, repeating "Señora" with an inclination of the body. When the girl went over to the fire, my dear Eliza laughed, saying, "I shall fancy myself a heroine in Gil Blas; but you are right, Edward." After coffee I regaled myself with a cigar: at the sight of it Mira was delighted, and, without losing a moment, had brought me a firestick to light it; after which she stood near, to enjoy the fragrant smoke as it issued from my mouth. We did not, however, stay long enough to encounter the sand flies, but moved to our vessel in good time, preceded by Fidele, and followed by our maid, who now showed no fear.
Wednesday, 17th.—I arose, as usual, with the dawn; and leaving my wife and her damsel to get