Father (the narrator) and Mother with their four sons; Fritz, the eldest whom was fifteen, Ernest who was very intelligent and rather lazy, the second son, Jack who was adventurous and bold, the third son, and Franz, the youngest whom was eight, are caught in a storm. They have come from Switzerland and boarded a boat to leave for England to start a new life. The boat crashes into two rocks and gets stuck there and starts to leak so everyone on board scrambles to get on the small boats on the side of the ship. Father, Mother, and their sons are left behind. Father prays and they spend a restless night on board. In the morning, the sea is calm and Father instructed his boys to look for anything they can find that will be useful.
Mother discovers a cow, two goats, six sheep, a sow, a ram, and a donkey. Father discovered a canvas, some food, fishing rods, guns, and tools. Jack found two large dogs. Franz found fishing hooks.
Ernest found some tools and Fritz found some guns. Then Father contrived of a sort of boat made of casks. They loaded it with everything they had found. They also loaded it with some fouls and the Pigeons, ducks, and geese were released. Everyone climbed in and left for shore. When Turk and Juno, the mastiffs, saw they were leaving they jumped into the sea and swam after them. As they paddled to shore, they picked up some useful items that floated in the water from the wreck.
They headed to a small stream in which they paddled up into a small plain where they got out of their boat. Father and his family unloaded and set up a tent, using the canvas. After spending a while in the plain, Father and Fritz set out to search the island for anyone who might have landed there from the reck.
Although, they found nobody they discovered some coconuts and calabash trees, which they took the calabashes and turned them into useful plates and jars. They also stumbled upon some sugar canes. They gladly took loads of these and started back towards the tent. Turk ran away and devoured a monkey and almost ate the baby monkey when Fritz and Father put a stop to it.
Father allows Fritz to keep the little monkey for his own. When they reach home they unload their burdens and tell of their adventures. Everyone is overjoyed with the coconuts and sugarcanes. They are equally as excited with the little monkey they name Knips.
Fritz and Father go back to the shipwreck, which is still mostly intact. From the ship they recovered plates, silverware, seeds of many sorts, tools, guns, nails, and other items that were of use to them. They also discovered the animals they had to leave behind and made swimming belts for the sheep, cow, and ass.
Whilst Fritz and Father were gone Mother, Ernest, Jack, and Franz explore the country and come across a area with many huge trees with large roots that stick up out of the ground. When Fritz and Father get back with their cargo Mother and the boys tell them about their adventures. Mother tells father that it would be much safer in a tree than on the ground. Before they leave to make a home in the trees father must make a bridge across the stream.
This job took a few weeks to accomplish. Everyone then packed up all their things, and loaded them on the ass and cow. They arrived after some time, and unloaded their things. In the morning they picked a tree.
They then realize that many trees are bearing figs! They construct of a rope ladder to climb their tree, and brought up some wood and made a base. They put cloth on top to act as a roof and the limbs acted as walls on three sides. The next day they decided to name parts of the country they lived on; the bay the landed on is Safety Bay, their first home they called Tentholm, the islet in the bay they called Shark’s Island, the reedy swamp is called Flamingo Marsh, their tree house is called Falconhurst, the hill the first climbed called Prospect hill, Cape Disappointment being the rocky cliff in which they looked for any survivors, and Jackal River the stream at Tentholm. Soon everyone made a trip out to Tentholm to recover anything they had left behind.
While on their way they fell upon potatoes, karatas, pineapples, jasmin, and many other plants and spices, which they gathered as much as they could carry. Once they reached Tentholm they gathered up butter, ducks and geese, guns, and anything else they could find. After a good night’s rest they made their way back to Falconhurst. Once again Fritz and Father made a trip to the wreck. Once there, they created a raft to carrying the extra heavy articles. They loaded on furniture, doors, bolts, locks, window frames,carpentry materials, more silverware, and many young fruit trees.
They unloaded and brought everything to Falconhurst. Father and Fritz brought up the mattresses to the tree. While they were gone, Mother planted many things such as pumpkins, potatoes, melons, corn, and cucumbers. Father had brought back pans and graters from the reck, too.
With the manioc roots everyone grated, Father then added other ingredients, like milk, and put them in the pans and made delicious bread! Mother was immensely pleased with this. Father again returned to the wreck, this time with Fritz, Ernest, and Jack, while Mother and Franz stayed home. They gathered many valuables but mainly trying to recover the pinnace they had found. Father devised of a plan to blow up one of the sides of the wall in which the pinnace was trapped. Without telling the boys, they left and sailed for home. When they got their they unloaded what they had found.
In the middle of dinner they heard a big explosion and Father knew his plan had worked. The next morning he returned with the same crew as before and recovered the pinnace. Meanwhile, Mother and Franz traveled to Tentholm to be closer to them when they arrived. The boys then figured out that the explosion was no accident. They sailed home in the splendid new boat. When Father, Fritz, Jack, and Ernest arrived at Tentholm they morred the tub boat and pinnace. When they were gone Mother had planted lettuce, cabbage, peas, and beans, which she showed off with pride.
She also planted potatoes, corn, and cassava roots. The next morning, everyone traveled back to Falconhurst with no less of an adventure than before. On their way they encountered iguanas, birds, crabs, and many others.
One particular and valuable discovery made by Fritz was that of caoutchouc, which could help with the making of boots and shoes. The next morning, Father and his family tried the manufacture of candles. After a few fails, they finally succeeded. That night they stayed up late by the light of their new candles. They soon acquired many new animals such as an eagle owned by Fritz, an onager (a wild horse), penguins, a buffalo, a flamingo, and a jackal owned by Jack.
The fruit trees were planted a little ways off of Falconhurst, and created a shady avenue. They were supported by bamboo, lest they fall over. Mother told Father that she wanted some other way to get up the tree than the precarious ladder. So Father decided to hollow out the tree and make a staircase inside. Father found the inside of the tree to already be hollow, so with the help of Jack, Ernest, and Fritz they made a hole the size of the door, and striped the inside of rotting bark. Then Father stuck a pole in the center and cut slits in the side of the tree at steady intervals.
He then wedged the food in the slits to make a spiral staircase. This work took over a month to complete. It was soon to be the rainy season in which everyone had to stock up on provisions. Lots of work was needed to be done. The stables for the animals needed to become prepared for winter, food needed to be stored up, and the tree house prepared for winter. The rainy season was upon the shipwrecked family. They could not stay up in the treehouse, so they had to retreat to the stairs below. It was very uncomfortable and crowded.
Long weeks passed and winter was over. Lots of work was to be done. Falconhurst needed lots of work until it could be hospitable. Tentholm was a disaster.
The tent was destroyed and provisions were completely ruined. The tub boat was broken to pieces, although the pinnace was safe. Everyone worked hard to right things.
Father decided that they needed a home for winter. Fritz suggested that they should hollow out a cave. Although Father figured they wouldn’t hollow out a room sufficient enough for them to live in, but they could make a storage space for valuable items. There was a large rocky wall close by Tentholm. After six days of chiseling, they barely made a dent. Then, Jack’s pole went all the way through! Shocked, everyone chiseled faster and soon they made an opening in the shape of the door. Father went to step in and choked on the poisonous air. The cave has had no access to fresh air, and after a while the air turned poisonous.
To purify the air, Father lit some burning hay and threw it in the cave. It immediately went out. After many attempts, still no success. So, Father lit the flares and set them off in the cave. After they had all died down, Father threw in some hay, this time burning brilliantly. It was safe to enter! Everyone, including Mother and Franz, marched in armed with candles. The discovered that the ceiling was covered with crystals! After further evaluation Father dubbed them to be salt crystals. Father fired a shot, and then another.
No crystals fell, the rock cave was safe! Father and his crew then went back to Falconhurst to retrieve doors and windows, in which they fitted to their cave. There was a lot of work to be done in the cave. The cave was divided into four parts; in front a large space for the door to open which is divided into sitting, eating, and sleeping rooms. On the right were the kitchen and workshop, on the left were the stables, and in the back, which was quit dark, was storage.
They also built a fireplace and chimney. One day, while at Tentholm Father discovered a herring-bank, a big swarm of herrings. With the help of everyone but Mother and Franz they caught a great many of herrings. This then attracted many birds, which were shot down.
These were then cleaned and salted, buttered, or smoked and stored in barrels for later use. They also caught a few seals that were attracted by the herring-bank. Peas, beans, wheat, cucumbers, barley, rye, corn, melons, and other vegetables all grew up from where mother had planted them near Rockburg, as the great cave was named. Some distance from Falconhurst, they brought fouls, pigs, sheep, goats, and hens to establish a farm, which they named Woodlands. The farm had trees that provides shelter, a stream to provide water, and hills of grass to provide food.
They soon made a house in case they ever had to stay there long. While at the farm they discovered rice in a nearby marsh. Ernest also discovered a platypus, which was stuffed and stored in the ‘museum’ at Rockburg (the museum consisting of a library with assortments of things on its shelves).
On the way home, they came across a large hill which permitted an amazing view. Here they made another house-like-cabin. This they called Prospect Hill. While there they are there Father constructed a canoe. Once home at Rockburg, there was much work to do for the rainy season. First minor details were to be carried out to improve Rockburg. They leveled off the floor with clay and spread gravel and melted gypsum in to make a smooth surface.
Father also made rugs in a few rooms. The next day Father realizes that it is the anniversary of when they escaped from the wreck. So Father tells everyone that it is ‘Thanksgiving day’ as he calls it.So, they have a large meal and have races and contests to display everyone’s athletic ability. Mother and Father will be the judges of the contest. The first contest was shooting, which Fritz, Ernest, and Jack shot at a wooden board shaped like a kangaroo. Fritz came victor. There was archery, in which Fritz won.
Next came running, which Fritz, Jack, and Ernest are to run to Falconhurst. Ernest wins. Then followed climbing, in which Jack came victor. Then followed riding and even Franz participated, where Jack was champion. Lastly came swimming, and Fritz came out victorious.As prizes Fritz was presented with a gun and a hunting knife. Ernest received a gold watch.
Jack was awarded spurs and a riding whip. Franz, for his efforts, received stirrups and a driving whip.Father, seeing that the birds had come after the fruit in the trees near Falconhurst, concocted a bird lime. They collected a great many pigeons, some they kept alive and some they killed and stored for later.
With the live pigeons, Father was to make a pigeon house in the cliff near Tentholm. Father put many holes for entry and exiting. On them he spread the oil of aniseed to attract other birds, and his plan worked.
Soon, a new animal was added to the stock; a son of the donkey and onager named Swift.Before the rainy season hit, Rockburg needed much work. Ernest and Franz prepared the library, unloading more books and fixing shelves.
Jack and Father made lights from ship lanterns to illuminate dimly lit crevices. A large porch was also made from bamboo in the front of Rockburg. Many minor fixes to Rockburg also occurred.In the many books unloaded and added to the library, many were of new languages. Father decided they all should learn different languages in case they were rescued and at least one of them would be able to communicate with them.
Everyone was to improve their German and French, and Fritz, Ernest, and Mother were to work on English and Dutch. Ernest also was to continue learning Latin, and Jack to learn Spanish. Father was to take up the Malay language.
The rainy season was then upon the family, this time much more enjoyable than the last. The season passed just as it came and everyone was glad to be outside.When walking around, Fritz saw a large mound on an island and went to investigate.
It was a beached whale that had been carried in by the violent sea during the rainy season. Everyone helped in the unpleasant work to obtain oil from the fats, securing a few barrels full.After a while they went back to the island to take some of the bones picked clean by birds and other animals. Father then dedicated the island to tanning and tending to skins of beasts, for it reeked horribly.While on the front porch back at Rockburg, Fritz spotted a large serpent. Father observed this to be a boa constrictor. Everyone went inside Rockburg, and upstairs while below was barricaded.The snake soon passed into the swamp.
Everyone was to not leave the house with the serpent on the loose. Soon, there provisions were failing them, so Fritz was sent out on his horse and while the door was open, Grizzle, one of the donkeys, ran out to the swamp. There was nothing anyone could do.The snake devoured Grizzle and sat there, not moving as it digested its prey. It was the perfect time for Father and Fritz to attack.
The soon were upon the snake. The serpent was then carefully preserved to keep in the museum.Father, Ernest, Fritz, and Jack all went to explore the part of the country they had not yet explored.
After awhile the ground became sand-like. After stopping to rest at a nearby glen later called Glen Verdant, Jack spotted a group of ostriches! All the while trying to hold back the dogs, but they broke free and attacked an ostrich, and brought it down. Father and Fritz collected the feathers, but would have preferred to keep the bird alive.
While continuing to trek across the unmarked land,Ernest came across two bears! Father and Fritz shot at the bears as Ernest recovered, but only able to wound the beasts. The dogs were then upon the bears, and a shot could not be fired in risk of hitting the dogs. Father and Fritz came up to the bears with loaded pistols and shot them dead.The bears were hidden in their den near Falconhurst to recover later. Then everyone journeyed back to Tentholm to rest for the night, telling Mother and Franz about their adventures.The next day the cart was harnessed and everyone set off to the bears den. When they arrived, the skin was cut from the bodies and the meat smoked, salted, or preserved in some other way.
The skulls were cleaned and kept in the museum.On the way back they discovered the pepper plant and took a large supply back to Rockburg.The next day Fritz and Jack were allowed to explore the desert by themselves. When they came back Fritz had caught two rabbits, they had acquired honey, and Jack had caught a kid (baby goat).
They had hearded a large group of antelopes into New Switzerland, as they called their country they had built on.The rabbits were to inhabit shark island. The kids were eaten for dinner, and the honey was stored for later.Then as Fritz and Jack were still talking at the edge of the bears den, they saw a group of ostriches. Jack lassoed one male ostrich and took it down. The rest ran off.
The ostrich kicked fearfully, so Father threw his jacket over him and he stopped. He was then tied to the ass and bull. After a while he relaxed after trying to run.When arriving back at Rockburg, the ostrich was tied to two bamboo posts and left to become tame. It seemed like he never would, so Father smoked tobacco on the bird and instantly it was subdued. Then Father made a saddle and a bridle with a hood that had eye flaps that could be closed or opened to steer.Then Father tried to make pottery.
He built a fireplace to fire them in. He then mixed talc and clay. Then it was spread over moulds in thin layers, and glass beads were sprinkled over it to add color. Many failed attempts later Father succeeded in making two cups, a cream jar, many small plates, and a large bowl.The rainy season came again, but the house was much improved and provided much comfort. During this time a canoe was built and made perfectly waterproof, for easier travel across the water.When the rainy season was over the canoe was tested and it worked perfectly.
With the canoe Fritz went out to sea and killed a walrus, which was used for its skin and blubber.Fritz, Jack, and Franz needed to get some bamboo and clay , so they set out. Jack, who had brought a pigeon, sent a letter attached to the bird. Then, Father sent one back, and they were finally able to communicate!Ten Years LaterFritz was 24, Ernest was 22, Jack at 20, and Franz was 17. Fritz was then allowed to journey where he pleases without need of permission.
Fritz, when bored of the lack of adventure, went off to a journey in his canoe. When he came back he told everyone about all his adventures. He had seen elephants and hyenas.
Fritz had also found many pearls to bring back. He had even shot a large albatross out of the sky.Later he pulled Father aside and told him that on the buzzard he had shot, but not killed, had a note attached to its leg. It read “save an unfortunate Englishwoman from the smoking rock.” He said that he then took the bird and wrote on the cloth “Don’t despair, help is coming” and released the bird.Father was glad Fritz had told only him, for the person could have died and the note could have been from a long time ago.
Fritz was then going to take a journey to look for the woman, and everyone else was going with him in their yacht to gather supplies. When they passed the rocky arch the entered to collect some oysters that contained pearls. They took a stop here to fish and gather more oysters.Ernest and Jack went off to hunt and Jack came across a wild boa and had been attacked by it, although he escaped only with severe bruises.
They later went after the boar and shot it, which provided much meat.They again slept on the new land, and heard a large roar. Fritz and Father discovered it to be a lion, while everyone stayed on the yacht. Fritz shot the lion dead in the heart.
Then came a lioness, who found her dead mate and howled, Father then shot the lioness in the paw. The four dogs then jumped on the lioness and started attacking.Alas, Father could not shoot in fear of hitting one of the dogs. Juno lept at throat of the lioness, and with a strike of her paw Juno was dead.
Father then went up to the lioness and finished her off.Juno’s body was then washed off in the bay and wrapped in cloth to be buried at Rockburg. Everyone traveled back to Rockburg, and Fritz left half way there to return the search of the woman. Juno was buried and Ernest wrote an epitaph for the faithful dog.Fritz was gone for five days when Father started to worry, so everyone was to search for Fritz on their yacht. When they were at the entrance of the rock archway, they discovered a whale. With difficulty, the whale was shot dead. Then, a man in a canoe was spotted around the rock, it was Fritz!As Fritz led them to where he had found the woman, Father told Mother about what Fritz had found, although he witheld the information from the boys.
The woman introduces herself as Jenny Montrose. Fritz then explained to the boys how he had found her. Jenny enjoyed a supper with the swiss family, and was welcomed aboard the yacht. Jenny told them that she was a daughter of a British officer, and her mother had died when she was young. Her father, Edward was then called to join the troops. Jenny then sailed to England, but her boat crashed and she stayed on the island.In the yacht, everyone sailed back to Rockburg, showing Jenny their houses and animals along the way.
When they arrived a feast was to be had. Then preparations were to be had for the rainy season. As the rainy season came it never felt shorter with Jenny.When the season was over, the cleaning and keeping of the other homes was to be done.
When cleaning out the telescopes in Falconhurst, Fritz spotted an English vessel. Fritz the allerted the rest of his family.Everyone started towards the large ship, bringing with them many valuables to impress them with. Fritz and Father met with the captain and told him all about themselves. The captain then explained that he was looking for survivors of the Dorcas, the ship Jenny sailed on. The captain explained, Mr.
Wolston, his wife, and their three daughters were on board and with the storm Mr. Wolston was unwell. So, the Unicorn stopped on shore to repair the boat and tend to Mr. Wolston.
The captain offered to take them home. Franz, Fritz, and Jenny all declared they wanted to leave, and Father obliged. Mr. Wolston and his family decided to stay and live with the shipwrecked family. Father left Jenny, Fritz, and Franz with many of their valuables, like the pearls.Fritz then asked Father to give his blessing to marry Jenny, and Father did.
Father then gave Fritz his journal of the days spent on New Switzerland, so there stories may be told. Everyone then said goodbye and they were off!