Satan Came to Eden

Dore Strauch

Bibliography Texts
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Information about text
Illustrations by Dr. Ritter, in 1936 edition only
Part I
Foreword
I The End of One Life
II The New Life Begins
III We Find Our Eden
IV Difficulties
V Hugo
VI Mary Pinchot (1935);
Marauders (1936)
VII Mizpah
VIIIMany Annoyances
Part II
IX The Would-Be's
X The End of Captain Bruuns
XI Burro, the New House …
XII The Tug of War
XIIIWe Gain a Friend …
XIV Shadows Before
XV The “Baroness”
XVI The Baroness Takes Possession
XVIIThe Baroness Wins Me Round
Part III
XVIIIA Suspicious Event and …
XIX The Baroness is Disappointed
XX The Stage is Set
XXI Hit and Miss
XXII Deposed
XXIIIDeath in Daylight
XXIV Clues
XXV All Is Over
  Allan Hancock Postscript

These pages compare the text in the 1935 and 1936 editions. A single column displays text common to both editions, with some minor variations in punctuation ignored. Two columns display text that varies between editions. If the differences are contained within short phrases, they are {enclosed in braces/and separated by a forward slash}. If there is no phrase on one side of the slash, there is no equivalent for the phrase on the opposite side of the slash. An empty column indicates text in the adjacent column appears only in that edition. A correction is inserted on first occurrence of a typographical error, but the error is left as is thoughout the text.

Multiple-paragraph text on a white background appears in the 1935 edition only; a grey background indicates 1936 edition only. Both are spread across the page to save space.

Dr. Ritter's first name is spelled “Frederick” in both editions, though “Friedrich” in his Atlantic Monthly features and elsewhere. The author's first name is spelled “Dore” in all accounts except the 1935 Jarrolds edition of her own book, where it is Dora.


Chapter IX: The Would-Be's

{One day loud/Loud} voices and a furious crashing through the thickets bordering Friedo announced the arrival of human beings. {/(}The animal invaders of our peace used only to come at night, for the spring had remained a favourite watering-place in spite of our presence in its immediate {neighbourhood/neighborhood)}. We had not frightened them away. It cost us hours' work every day repairing the nocturnal damage done to our fence, for it was only seldom that an animal hurdled it; usually they preferred to push their way through. Hearing therefore, this loud commotion in broad daylight, we knew that only human beings could be causing it, and Frederick left his work to see who had come. A party of Indios emerged into the clearing, bringing news that the long-awaited Captain Bruuns had finally arrived. They said that he was coming up to Friedo from Black Beach, and Frederick at once went down to meet him.

The Indios meanwhile, waiting for their master, proceeded to make a close inspection of our domain. It seemed to thrill them enormously, and they expressed incredulous wonderment at the amount of ground we had cleared with the labour of our own hands. They were full of admiration for the plants that we had set out and which were now grown to a goodly size. The house particularly fascinated them and they could not see enough of all the strange things we had brought with us. They were friendly and inquisitive like animals, and their interest amused me so much that I showed them many things we had made. I never expect to have a more appreciative audience. Their admiration flattered the great pride I took in some of our ingenious contraptions, and one or two of them were able to suggest a few improvements out of their native knowledge and experience of life in wild places. They kept returning to our architectural triumph, the stone foundation for our future house. They seemed wholly unable to credit the evidence of their eyes and believe that two people, one of them a very weak woman, had raised those huge, shiny rocks up to such a height and built them to such a solid base. One after another they tried the steps and were amazed to see how solidly they held, and I dare say myself that later visitors to Floreana will assume, unless they happen to read these pages, that the tall base was the work of many hands, intended perhaps as a look-out station or some such device.

After a while Frederick came back with Captain Bruuns. The latter was, as usual, extremely voluble, bluff and hearty, and full of apologies for having kept us waiting so long for his return. He had a very plausible story to account for the plundering of the Casa. It seemed that he had sent a boat to fetch the things there that had belonged to him, dismantle the derelict machinery and convey it to the mainland. He professed himself greatly upset at hearing that all our belongings had been removed as well, and spun a long yarn to the effect that his envoys had arrived, expecting to find us living in the house, and had been very much surprised and not a little alarmed at finding it deserted. He told us that they had considered the matter and decided it was useless to search for us upon the island, for probably we had fallen victim to some wild animal's attack. They had insisted, so he said, that there was no sign of us anywhere; if we were still alive, then we had surely gone away to {Isabela/Isabella [sic}, and would let ourselves be heard from of our own accord.

In any case, we had left all our stores unprotected, which they took as a clear sign that we were no longer on Floreana. This glib story did not convince me in the least. I said that it was all very well, but what about the little rowing-boat? That was as clear a sign as any that we had not gone to Isabella, and I should greatly like to know what he had done with it, and when he intended to return it to us. Hereupon Captain Bruuns lost a little of his assurance, but argued that the Mary Pinchot people could not possibly have meant it to be a gift to us; they had certainly intended it for himself. Frederick did not press the point, and when I saw that he was simply leaving the honours to the Captain without further struggle, I did so too. The Captain, thus having won hands down all around, began to make us lavish promises to bring all kinds of things the next time he came by; in fact he almost hinted that he would make a special voyage to bring us the “whole house” we had already had on order for a very long time. We had never known him so assiduous, and while I was wondering whether the ease with which he had got away with all the rest could alone be responsible for this sudden enthusiasm, it slipped out that he had heard about the visit of the Mizpah and the other yacht.

{And now/Now} we learned that the wildest stories were coursing up and down the island about the unheard-of largesse which had been showered on us by the rich Americans. Bruuns looked around, as though expecting to see the evidence of all this generosity. Then even Frederick's inexplicable tolerance towards this old villain began to give way to something like normal fury at the casual manner in which the robbery at the Casa had been accounted for; as he got the drift of the Captain's new approach, his anger turned to blank astonishment. At first it seemed as though Captain Bruuns was laying claim to a share of the costly presents we were supposed to have received, and this rather amused than angered us. Finally, however, he came out with something that upset us seriously.

“I have decided,” he said, “to give up this plying between the islands. This cruise is almost my last one in the Manuel y Cobos. I'm coming here to live.”

“What!” we both cried together, unable to believe our ears.

“Yes,” said the Captain, “I'm going to start a fishing station. I shall live at the Casa and make it my headquarters. We shall be able to help each other. There's a very good thing to be made out of fishing. I've got a partner in Guayaquil, a fellow named Arends. He's a smart young man and thinks very well of our prospects. No one's ever yet tried to fish these waters for what's in them, but I'm going to, and you'll see we'll bring some life onto this island soon.”

Neither Frederick nor I could find a suitable answer to all this. There was no use in our trying to dissuade him, but we both felt that there would be no room on Floreana for us and fishing enterprises together. We did not know which in the end would make way for the other.

I was always glad to see the back of Captain Bruuns, but never so glad as on that day, when after spending another hour enthusiastically outlining his plans, he called the Indios and left Friedo, telling us that we might now expect him back any day for good. When he was gone, Frederick and I looked at each other, unable for a moment to say a single word. Nothing could have more dismayed us than the prospect of having the Captain as a permanent {neighbour/neighbor}. I remembered the days when I had inwardly stormed at Frederick for choosing to settle so far away from the Casa with its obvious conveniences. Now I was infinitely grateful for the rough way that would in future separate us from these undesired fellow dwellers on the island. I decided inwardly that Post Office Bay would see us no more, and I was fairly certain that the lava fields would prove an effective barrier between Friedo and the fishing station. I thought with apprehension and pity of the now long unmolested cattle which the Captain's Indios, Hugo-like, would begin again to persecute, and of the poor horses which would now, no doubt, be brought back into captivity. However, it was no use worrying too greatly over things that couldn't be prevented, and we decided to try and put the Captain and his enterprises out of our minds as far as possible, at least forget them until they should actually arrive. I said to Frederick, “Until he comes, Floreana will still be ours. Let us enjoy it all the more, if our undisturbed possession is to be so short. …”

What an illusion! Floreana was already ours no longer. Hardly had the sinful hull of the Manuel y Cobos disappeared from sight than a new craft arrived, and after this another, and another, and still another. Settlers had come, lured by the stories which had now begun to circulate in all the world's newspapers. These had described the island as a paradise, as an idyllic tropical resort, where man and beast could live harmoniously together, and natural orchards dropped rich fruits into the lap, as in a dream of Caliban's. The romantic journalists had been at work, and this was the result.

The first batch of these extensively deceived young people included five quite youthful Germans. They arrived separately, but finding themselves together on the island, joined forces, and took possession of the caves for the time being. It was not long before the last of the five found the others incompatible, and built himself a hut under the spreading branches of a huge acacia some five minutes' distance from the caves. The other four remained together, and on Sundays would often visit us, as did the solitary one. We entertained them all, never attempting to take sides in their trivial differences—plenty of which arose—and giving them impartially such help and advice as we could. We also shared a number of our plants with them and gave them gardening hints which they badly needed, for they had all come as inadequately equipped with knowledge as with implements.

They seem to have thought that the whole thing was a light and simple adventure, but they had not been long on Floreana before they saw how gravely they had been mistaken in this idea. On the whole, however, they behaved with much tact and kept well out of sight, except when we invited them to call. They had a proper respect for our desire for isolation, which they had read about in the articles which had inspired them to come. Although the story of our experiment had now been published in the press of many countries, strangely enough the settlers who came were all from Germany. Perhaps one could not have a better proof than this of how the misery and hardships under which our vanquished country had laboured since the war had filled many Germans, including ourselves, with a sense of hopelessness and need for radical renewal. True, the aims of these people were different from ours, but the urge to free themselves from the material and spiritual prison that Germany had become was as intense in them as it had been in us.

The young settlers, in their earlier conversations with us, were less frank than they were afterwards. It gradually came out that they had not been attracted to Floreana solely, or even mainly, in search of individual freedom. On the contrary, they hoped to reap the reward that comes to those first on the spot. They told us that the United States government was about to purchase the Galapagos group of islands as a natural preserve for the sum of twenty-five million dollars. Another report said that the Japanese government was pressing the authorities of Ecuador for a rapid decision. This, however, was being postponed, for the neighbouring South American states were bringing pressure upon Ecuador not to sell. But our young settlers were full of optimism, being convinced that the triumph of the dollar was in every case a foregone conclusion.

One of the most curious would-be settlers we ever had on Floreana was a German woman from Berlin who had brought her husband down there, convinced that the Pacific air would cure him of his lung disease. We did not know how long she had been inhabiting the island when she turned up one day at Friedo, surely the oddest apparition that ever emerged from the dense thicket into our little clearing. She was accompanied by an Indio woman servant of very unusual appearance who, it turned out later, was subject to fits of unconsciousness due to a type of epilepsy, Frederick said. An Indio guide had shown them the way. The lady was most unsuitably attired in a silk gown and silk stockings, and her fingers were fairly corruscated with diamond rings.

She declared with almost embarrassing enthusiasm how passionate a nature-worshiper she was, and expressed herself ecstatically about the island. She told us that she had called upon the President of Ecuador, and that he took the greatest interest in her plans, and had offered her every assistance she might require. In very little time she had poured into our astonished ears the entire story of her life, and with no further invitation she proceeded to look into everything on Friedo. Everything she saw evoked loud exclamations, and she had a thousand questions for every answer. But when she caught sight of our greatest treasure, the spring, she outgushed its gushing, and no wonder, for Captain Bruuns had begun to do a lucrative trade in the sale of distilled water to the settlers. He had recently arrived and was busy at the Casa laying the foundations of his future fortune in the fish business.

The ecstatic lady was full of indignation at the chilly reception which she said she had received at the hands of the five cave-dwellers. She next informed us, to our intense consternation, that the sight of Friedo had quite consoled her, for she and her husband would be far more comfortable and happy in our “little paradise.” Before we could say that Friedo was not a hostel for visitors to Floreana, she had gone over to the ciruela tree and, ignoring us, was discussing with her maid where their tents were to be pitched. She then came back to us and began a long conversation about her love for animals. She was determined, she said, to enrich Floreana with the only thing it lacked to make it perfect. It should become a paradise for monkeys, parrots, dogs, and rabbits. The monkeys and the parrots she had actually brought along, it seemed. She then told Frederick all the details of her husband's disease and impressed upon him the great advantages which he would reap from having cured a difficult patient in this “coming health resort.” She appealed to his conscience and ambition as a medical man to do what he could for her husband, to whom, to do her justice, she seemed genuinely devoted. It took a long time before we could convince this lady that Friedo was ours and that she could not live underneath our ciruela tree. After many hours we got rid of her and she returned in great disappointment and considerable dudgeon to the Casa, where she was no doubt the heavily paying guest of Captain Bruuns.

Her monkeys came to a sad end. There was no food suitable for them on the island. The store of food she had brought for them was exhausted within three days, and one of the Indios was then sent out on a donkey to explore the island for other things that these delicate and fastidious creatures could eat. The oranges and aguacates were not yet even in bud, and these were perhaps the only things they might have been able to eat. The lady told us that she had brought the unfortunate little animals along not only to enrich the island wild life, but also, and in fact chiefly, in order to test the wholesomeness of the wild plants that grew there, before she would risk them as fit for human consumption. She was pathetic as she spoke of her terror at the thought that, after having brought her husband all that way to cure him of consumption, she might cause his death by poisoning.

The end of these all too cautious measures was that the unfortunate monkeys were simply turned loose to shift for themselves as best they might. The poor little things—there were three of them—had not a chance on Floreana. One roamed about the island, desperate with thirst, and died in torment within a stone's throw of the spring up at the caves. Either the monkey had not the strength to reach the spring, or had not yet found it. The second, mad with hunger, broke into another settler's kitchen and began flinging the pots and pans furiously about, behaving in such a threatening manner that the only thing to do was to put an end to it. The third of the pitiful little company was never seen again, and must have perished somewhere wretchedly. Perhaps he found himself among the wild animals upon the pampa who must have marveled at him, never having seen his like. Perhaps he sought his two companions everywhere, and died of exhaustion looking for them. I was sorry afterwards that I had not gone out to look for these waifs, and brought them back to Friedo {to take care of/}.

The diamond-studded lady with husband and Indio retinue held out one week, then left. She may have taken her patient and her nature worship to another of the islands, but we never heard of her again out there. I, however, was to meet her long afterwards in Europe.

Captain Bruuns, ten Indios, and his partner, Arends, from the mainland, lived at the Casa, which now became a proper fishing station. An atmosphere of great activity pervaded it. We went down there one day and made the acquaintance of the partner. We had expected some one like the Captain, middle-aged, weather-beaten, and experienced in guile. Instead we were greeted by a dark-haired young man of more than usual good looks, about as different from the Captain as one could well imagine. He looked hardly more than a youth, but must have been not less than twenty-five years old. He was Danish, and told us that they had borrowed the capital to float the fishing company and showed us the large motor-boat they had bought. The first catch, it appeared, had exceeded even their rosiest anticipations, and young Arends seemed convinced that they were going to make a very good thing of this unexploited industry. The Captain was a {very/} hard worker, and exacted hard work from others.

Post Office Bay was almost unrecognizable. Outside the Casa long benches had been set up, at which several Indios worked simultaneously. Here the fish were cleaned and cut up into slices, a work which had to be done immediately after the catch was brought in, because the tropic sun caused everything to spoil instantly that was not salted almost before the life was out of its body. I used not to go down to the Bay more often than I had to, for I liked the sight of all that gory activity as little as the smell of fish, which now became inseparable from the place. On first landing there, we had seen sharks close against the beach, and they had filled me then with fear and horror. The newly established fishery brought them now in shoals. The heads and entrails of the fish were dumped back into the sea as near the shore as possible to save unnecessary effort, and henceforth the dreadful sharks were never absent. One almost heard the impact of their great bodies as they collided, crowding ravenously round this new and inexhaustible feeding-place.

The fishery kept Captain Bruuns so busy that to my great relief he did not often visit us at Friedo, and when he did, he did not stay long, though he never missed an opportunity, while there, of telling us how much we had deliberately sacrificed in not going in with him in the fishery and cattle venture. He seemed genuinely to believe that he was destined to make a great fortune out of Floreana, but I, remembering the fate of all his predecessors, thought differently about this.{The event/Events} proved me right, though no one could {have possibly/possibly have} foreseen the end {that came/}.

Chapter X: The End of Captain Bruuns

There are certain people who not only have a genius treating trouble themselves, but in whose neighbourhood trouble inevitably arises, whether of their direct rating or not. Captain Bruuns was one of these misunderstandings, complications, and annoyances were inseparable from acquaintance and dealings with him, though sometimes he was certainly innocent of them. I confess here with shame that I often unjustly made him the scapegoat for others', and even for my own, mistakes. His pleasant and plausible manner made it impossible to be rough with him while he was about, yet the moment he was out of sight his shortcomings and iniquities stood forth in their true proportions, and made one furious with him. And the fury held until he reappeared, when it was impossible not to be nice to him.

The fishing station was now in full swing, and Captain Bruuns had become a fairly permanent inhabitant of Floreana. Post Office Bay saw me very seldom now in comparison with the times before industrial development reached the island. Still, now and then, I went down there with Frederick, though not exactly for reasons of sociability.

Captain Bruuns {/and Arends} had a visitor who stayed with them at the Casa for a long time. There was something most incongruous in the difference between the Captain and his friend, an aristocratic-looking Norwegian of about sixty years of age. We learned that he had been in his country's consular service, though we were not told where, and he was obviously a person who had once enjoyed high standing and was, in addition, an intellectual and learned man. What mystery overlay his past and what had brought him to these wilds in his later life we never found out. We learned that he was married and that his wife lived at Guayaquil. On my way back to Europe, I called on her and she was very kind to me. Frederick and I both liked this interesting man, and it raised the Captain greatly in my estimation as I saw that the two were really good friends and that Captain Bruuns seemed to be at great pains to help {his companion/this aristocrat}, who was so much his superior. The former consul often came to visit us at Friedo and we were always sorry when he went.

The spring brought Captain Bruuns a boon companion, far more to his natural taste.§ One day a small yacht sailed into Post Office Bay and anchored there. Its owner was an English doctor of middle age, and its crew had been reduced to a single African half-breed. The others had been dropped at various ports, where they had put in down the coast and among the other islands. The doctor told us that he had come from Panama with the express purpose of making the acquaintance of “Dr. Ritter and his wife.” He was interested in our ideas, he said, and wished to talk to us about them. He himself was on his way to the South Sea, where he intended to live, like us, a life of complete isolation from the world. His manner was extremely strange. He seemed a prey to uncontrollable nervousness, and smoked continuously, drawing one cigarette after another in an endless chain out of a large tin which bulged from the misshapen pocket of his coat. He seemed to be pursued by something, and gave me the impression that his mind had become enslaved to some power that his will had not the strength to vanquish. It gradually {transpired/came out} that he had been a medical officer in an insane asylum.

§ Dr. Temple Utley.

 

He talked a great deal of the patients he had had, and it was not difficult, in the light of this information, to see that his own mind had suffered in contact with these unfortunates.

He, too, was married, but told us that he found it impossible to get on with his wife, and that he had therefore decided to make an end of trying, and seek solution of his problems in escape from the world. He was alternately dully and violently miserable. He had obviously hoped in some vague way that we should be able to tell him what he wanted, and show him how to find the peace that he was looking for; but we were far too different from {him to be of much assistance/himself, and so could give him little help}.

If we {/ourselves} disappointed him, Floreana apparently did not. He did not move on towards the South Sea, but lived out in the bay and spent his days, and many of his nights, with Bruuns ashore. We saw less and less of him, but he and the Captain became inseparable. Night after night they sat together drinking guarapo, a potent distillation of the sugar cane, and no doubt both of them exchanged many a dark reminiscence in their hours of drunken confidences. We heard about them from the Indios, and I fear that I looked upon them at that time with far less sympathy and understanding than I have for them now, when it is too late. They seemed to me then worthless and weak-willed. I knew too little of life to realize what a poor end it can make of fine and admirable beginnings. Looking back afterwards, I was grateful to the doctor for having come to Floreana when he did, for the days of Captain Bruuns were numbered, though nobody suspected it, and the doctor's companionship was the last that he was to enjoy on this earth. I had the impression, too, that Captain Bruuns became more intimate with this new friend and found him more understanding than any of the other people I had seen him with, and I have often thought since that the fates must have sent the strange wanderer to him as a slight compensation for all the trouble that he suffered in his life, and for the tragic end that they had designed for him.

The Captain, however, apparently had no presentiments. He was full of plans for the expansion of his fishing interests and the promising beginning had filled him with the rosiest hopes. He was never tired of entertaining his new friend with details of his projects, to which the other listened with untiring sympathy and interest. There was something touching in the attitude of this derelict physician towards the Captain, whose story he may or may not have known but in whom he seemed to sense a man who had, like himself, lost his way in life, and needed help and encouragement. This was a little interlude of peace, soon to lead into the final act of Captain Bruuns' tragedy. As I have said, now that the Captain {had/} made Floreana his residence, {/a number of} visitors were always at the Casa. The governor of the Galapagos was staying there at {this time/the time of which I speak}.

One day, finding that his supplies of food and salt for curing were running low, Captain Bruuns decided to go on a replenishing expedition to Isabella. His motorboat, the Norge, was large enough to carry a good-sized party and so he set out with

the English alienist,

his guest the governor, the English alienist, one of the young German colonists,

now about to leave the island for good, and eight peons.

It so happened that that day I found myself at a point near Friedo which afforded a wide view over Black Beach and out to sea, and suddenly I turned my head and saw the expedition putting out into the still {waters/water}. Our little rowing-boat was trailing like a dove-gray captive behind the Norge, and I remember the anger that shook me every time I saw it in the Captain's possession. It was the only piece of property {of which/that} I have ever really minded being deprived {/of}. The day was so quiet that I could almost hear the chugging of the motor. Then suddenly the swift Antarctic current caught the boat and swept it on with great rapidity towards Isabella. This stream is so powerful that it takes but five hours to make the sixty miles to the other island, {but/though it takes} twelve and more to get back. It can actually be seen within the bosom of the ocean; it is like a streak of ebony in the midst of the blue calm. On that particular day it looked {clearer/more clear} than ever, somehow menacing in its fierce strength, though speeding the travelers on their way and seeming to {favour/favor} their purposes. I remember that I turned away, feeling somehow overwhelmed and grateful for the peace and safety of our Friedo. That was the last I ever saw of Captain Bruuns.

Later we pieced his story together from the horrified accounts of the survivors. The party arrived safe and sound, and in the best of spirits, at Isabella, where the required provisions were duly brought aboard. They then set out again, hoping to reach Floreana by nightfall, since the Casa was left practically unprotected in the Captain's absence. Arends was seldom there, but spent most of his time at Guayaquil, attending to the mercantile end of the fishing business. For some time past, the profits had been less than in the beginning, which was another reason why the Captain had now set to work with redoubled energy to make the venture a success. Indeed, Frederick and I often marveled at the prodigies of work this man, long past his youth and completely unused to manual labour, showed himself able to perform.

The Norge was well away from Isabella when the skipper discovered that there was not gasoline enough in the tank to bring them to Floreana against the driving current of the Antarctic stream. He turned back towards the port of Isabella, but the current bore the motorboat out of its course, and forced it off to St. Pedro's Bay, where there was nothing for it but to anchor, the gasoline having been used down to the last drop. There is no settlement at St. Pedro's Bay, which lies at the southwestern tip of Isabella Island; the nearest help was to be found at Villamil, a good fifty miles farther down the coast as the crow flies, and terribly difficult to come at overland. The stranded party held a council, and it was decided that the governor and Schmidt, the German settler, together with a few of the Indios, should start out immediately to try and reach Villamil by way of an Indio settlement which lay some distance inland. Meanwhile Captain Bruuns had improvised a sail which he now raised in our little gray rowing-boat, and prepared to put off with some Indios for Floreana. {Meanwhile the/The} English doctor with the remaining natives was to stay on the Norge{ until called for/}.

Our narrators did not need to tell us what it meant to get from St. Pedro's Bay to Villamil. We knew that one Galapagos shore was the same as another, the most inhospitable ground that human feet could tread upon. It did not surprise us in the least to hear that of the overland party some had taken four, some twelve, days to reach the settlement of Villamil, after a parched and painful journey. Their feet were in a fearful state, their shoes having been torn to shreds by the sharp lava. For food they had eaten leguana [iguana] and edible cacti, which had somewhat helped to ease their thirst. The English doctor on the motorboat waited in the midst of plenty, but suffered, as he told us afterwards, many terrors, for he was not used to wild and desolate surroundings, and feared that he might never be fetched away by the returning party, but be left either to the mercy of the two Indios on board, or else be driven, after a long time of fruitless waiting, to leave the boat and find his way to Villamil alone. He wished that he had gone along with Captain Brunns, who had seemed to think that he would have no difficulty in reaching safety in the little boat.

He would have {changed his tune had he/wished this less if he had} known how near at hand disaster lay for the {optimistic/all-too-hopeful} Bruuns. Our little rowing-boat was by no means a success in its transformed condition. The sail was immediately blown to ribbons, and Captain Bruuns saw that he had not a chance in the world of getting near Floreana, with a current like that against his fragile craft. This was a disappointment, for he had meant to fetch a second motorboat which he had lying in Post Office Bay and tow the Norge back with it. Now, however, he decided that the most reasonable thing to do was to put in at Villamil, and this he did. It took him exactly as long to get there rowing as it took the fastest and luckiest of the overland party to reach their destination on foot. At the settlement they were told that the Cobos was due and hourly expected. This was good news and cheered the others considerably. But Captain Bruuns, possessed by a demon, still insisted that he would sail in his rowing-boat if it was the last thing he did, and set about constructing a firmer mast and a more durable and larger sail. Before his work was done the Cobos had arrived. No one was surprised to see her except Bruuns, her own ex-skipper, who seemingly could not get used to the new punctuality she had acquired under his successor. Some of the rest of the {over-land/overland} party had now come in, and they all went on board, in order to join the Norge with renewed supplies of {petrol/gasoline}. They set off and came within sight of the Norge.

San Pedro's Bay is hardly more than a cove, and the Cobos could not put in close enough for gasoline to be reached down to the motorboat over her side. The skipper of the Cobos wanted to send some one off in our row-boat with fuel to tank up the Norge, which could then accompany the schooner to Floreana. Captain Bruuns would not hear of this. He was extremely proud of his Norge, and in a spirit of wild and misguided sportsmanship he wagered the skipper of the Cobos that he and his people would land at Post Office Bay before the ancient pirate ship came within sight of the island's tallest volcano.

The Governor of the islands had no intention of risking any further adventures, and so remained aboard the Cobos, which was to take him later on to other islands. The skipper of the Cobos took the bet.

The skipper took the bet. The governor of the islands had no intention of risking any further adventures, and so remained aboard the Cobos, which was to take him later on to other islands.

The little rowing-boat now received its load of fuel for the Norge, together with the German settler, the bold Captain and his men. Even at the best of times and on the smoothest and most innocent sea, this would have been too much to crowd into the little craft. It put off, however, jauntily, and the last the Cobos saw of it it looked promising enough. But it was not long before the current drew the little boat more and more powerfully towards the dangerous edge of the coast, where breakers dashed in white surf against the hidden lava rocks, a trap for every mariner. The heavy swell became more ominous with every stroke, and it seemed each moment that the next breaking wave must engulf the boat.

Then came misfortune. The current wrenched one oar out of an Indio's hand. He leaned over the side to catch it as it sprang out of reach, and the oncoming breaker overwhelmed them. Still the boat had not capsized, and did not do so even as another and another breaker followed, burying it beneath them. In the feverish intervals between breakers, they tried to bail out the water by every means at their disposal. But there could be only one issue to the unequal combat. The little boat went down. The German and one of the Indios actually succeeded in swimming ashore, and landed safely.

The Captain and two others tried to achieve the impossible and bring the as yet not capsized boat to shore, though it was now far beneath the water,

The Captain and two others tried to achieve the impossible and bring the boat to shore; it had not yet capsized, though it was now far beneath the water,

and the waves did not allow it to rise again to the surface. The Indios had no desire for a watery grave and foolhardy wagers meant as little to them as an old mariner's stubborn pride in his capacity to beat the worst sea under heaven. Seeing their fellows gone, the Captain's two remaining rowers left the boat and made a dash for safety. Captain Bruuns was now alone. So long as the little boat {had not turned/did not turn} turtle he would stand by, though now the water reached {up to his chin, with/to his chin;} the boat {/was} literally sinking under him.

At last he saw that it was hopeless and he too gave up the struggle. The beach was so near that he could almost touch it with his hands. The others had landed, and stood in dire suspense watching him in his lonely struggle against the furious sea. They saw him swim a few strokes towards them, then suddenly turn back. A wave engulfed him, and when it had receded they saw him once more bravely striking out for a small patch of beach, trying to avoid the vicious rocks between. He was so close that they could almost see the stubborn desperation in his face, and it seemed for a moment as though his powerful strokes would bring him to safety after all. Then a last wave came, lifting him on its curve like a spar of flotsam. They saw him rise, now struggling no longer but as though he had at last surrendered. They did not see him fall, but knew that he would not be seen alive again.

They hastened to the spot among the rocks, sure that they would find him there, and there he lay, not drowned, but dashed to death against the reef. His doctor friend, in a forlorn hope that he might {only/} be unconscious, tried to bring life back, but {/it was} in vain. He had been smashed by the impact of sea and land, perhaps the right death for one who in his life had served and sinned against them both.

They buried him close to where they found him, raising a pile of black lava stones to mark the place. A rough cross with his name upon it was set up, and that was the end of Captain Bruuns.

The loss of the rowing-boat meant the loss of all the fuel it had cost so much to bring, and now the party found itself in no better plight than when the {petrol/gasoline} had first given out. The Norge was no light craft, but twelve tons weight, and there was nothing to be done now but for these seven stranded men with six oars among them to row it all the way to Villamil. The harrowing experiences of the past hours had not increased their confidence. The swift Antarctic current and the wild breakers were full of too familiar terrors for them all. But they were forced to take the risk, for to attempt another twelve days' journey overland in their exhausted state was worse than braving the most treacherous waters. They chose the lesser evil, therefore, and actually succeeded in preventing the fast-running stream from drawing them out into the open reaches of the ocean. With superhuman strength they kept close to the shore{. They/ and} brought the Norge into another bay and tied her up. The way by water was no longer feasible, so once again they set out overland for Villamil, repeating the experiences of the first {time/trip}, suffering agonies of thirst and hunger and torn feet lacerated by the cruel stones. They all arrived to tell their story to the wondering inhabitants.

The Cobos, victor in the tragic wager, waited a few days in Post Office Bay for the arrival of the Norge, and as she did not come, departed, overdue, for Chatham, taking along the German's fellow settlers, the last of the party of five to leave the island.

Captain Bruuns' young partner, Arends, had been in a hospital at Guayaquil, and had now returned to Floreana. He waited twelve days for the Captain to come back and with him waited Bruuns' old friend, the ex-consul. The skipper of the Cobos had told them that the Norge had been freshly provisioned with food and fuel, but counting the days and the number of men aboard her, the {watchers/waiters} at Floreana gradually realized that she must now be either out at sea and running dangerously short again, or else held up at Isabella by some mysterious accident. Young Arends became seriously alarmed, and one day decided to go in search of his partner and friend. He took the African half-breed and two peons, and put off in the last remaining boat with a motor attached. In this inadequate craft they set out. They came to San Pedro's Bay, and the story of the little rowing-boat, once ours, repeated itself.

The breakers literally smashed their boat to smithereens. What happened to the Indios remained, for the time being, unknown, but Arends and the black managed to swim ashore. One of the Indios turned up later on in Villamil—the other must have perished on the way of hunger and thirst, if indeed he ever reached the coast.

Young Arends, cast up on the shore so near to where the Captain had met his fate, began to look around him.

He found no sign of any living ship or living person. Whilst debating in his mind the best thing to do,

His hope of finding the Norge where the Cobos people told him they had left her disappeared. There was no sign of ship or living person. While debating in his mind what would be best to do,

his feet brought him to the spot where Captain Bruuns was buried. To his dismay and horror he suddenly caught sight of the mound of black stones, surmounted by the rude cross, and going over to it read the Captain's name inscribed in a rough hand. All evil {omen/omens} seemed to the young rescuer concentrated in that sinister discovery. At first he stood quite paralysed with sick surprise, then, as he told us afterwards, he fell down on the stony ground beside the grave, and wept there for a long time.

Chapter XI: Burro, the New House and Certain Intrusions

To begin with the last thing first: It sounds discourteous to put our visitors down here as intruders, yet pleasant as they were as human beings, most of them, we did at times resent their coming. It might be said that had we wished to seriously, we could easily have refused to talk to anybody or entertain a single stranger in our Friedo seclusion. Sometimes, indeed, we were almost tempted to do this, but when we thought of the sheer physical effort it cost to clamber up the rough hillside to us, we felt that to turn our backs on these well-meaning callers would be too churlish. So we never did. We had longed to free ourselves from contact with the world, and it was a bitter shock when the world found us out and pursued us into our retreat. But once discovered, it was our wish to appear uneccentric. We could not help it that publicity had fastened on us, we could only do our best to take it lightly and give professional and amateur reporters of our doings at least as natural a story as possible to take home with them.

With Arends disappeared—for no one on the island knew exactly where he had gone—and the Captain dead and buried, Post Office Bay was no longer a scene of commercial enterprise, but had returned to normal. The former consul still lived at the Casa, coming occasionally to Friedo, where he was always welcome. It is in all such places an unwritten law that no questions shall be asked, and so we never forced the confidence of this strange man, nor asked him whether he expected to spend the rest of his days down in that dreary harbour with a wife at Guayaquil, waiting, as I heard later from herself, month after month for his return. He never talked about himself, and there was a kind of dignity about him that made one feel it almost an indiscretion even to speculate in silence as to the circumstances of his life.

It was at Friedo only that one could completely lose the feeling of uncanniness which pervaded the entire island. The ghosts of human beings and their deeds roamed over all of Floreana except there. The tragedies and mishaps which had occurred, even in our own short time, seemed to tell all too clearly of malignant influences at work, and I feared the island gods with all the more reason, now that we had actually witnessed their hostility. But Friedo seemed, in some inexplicable way, to stand under their protection. No untoward thing had happened there, and lulled in the false security of happiness in an earthly dream fulfilled, I believed that we were tolerated. Friedo was to us a world within a world, complete in itself, and our only true reality. We felt that what went on outside it concerned us very little. Yet this island which, so short a while ago, had been to us not even a name upon a map was now closely identified with our immediate experience; we belonged to it and it to us, and could not quite dissociate ourselves from anything that concerned it.

I have sometimes wondered how things would have been had we really come to a place of utter solitude, but perhaps there is no such spot left now on the habitable globe. As it was, the people and doings of the outside world were continually forcing themselves upon our notice, and involving us with themselves. We had had five months only of the isolation we had sought, for the presence of Hugo had not really counted. When that short half year was over, there began an intermittent stream of contacts, some merely passing like the yachting parties, some of longer duration like the would-be settlers, some quasi-permanent like Captain Bruuns and the former Norwegian consul. Not that we saw our neighbours daily or even weekly—sometimes several weeks went by without our even catching sight of anybody. Nonetheless, we were aware of them, and it is not surprising that a curious undercurrent of apprehension in our minds made itself felt whenever their existence occurred to us afresh.

And now the journalists began to come. This was a heavy trial for us at first and called for all our self-restraint. We thought it truly horrible to be questioned and photographed, and exposed to the merciless gaping of the world that we had left. I suffered doubly and trebly on these occasions, for although I had broken with the old life, I had not grown callous towards those who had once been dear to me. And most of all I was tormented by a sense of dreadful guilt towards my husband, who, I knew, would suffer tortures at this publicity connected with his name. I reproached myself a thousand times for not having protected him better and forced him into giving me a divorce. With a divorce I could legally have regained my maiden name, as I have done since. But he had always refused, and this was the result. I felt that I had done him an unpardonable injustice in placing him even unwittingly in a position from which he could not escape. When the German newspaper accounts told how the reporters had even invaded the privacy of his home to question him about me, my distress was boundless. As unendurable as this was the information which told how reporters had visited Frederick's landlady in the Kalkreuthstrasse and found out from her the name of the doctor's anonymous companion. Even Frederick, though inwardly and outwardly more aloof from all these worldly things than I, showed some dismay at this, for he had so passionate a sense of justice that he too was deeply pained at our having inflicted suffering on Dr. Koerwin and my parents, as well as on his own wife and family, thus forcing them to help to pay for our experiment.

Some of the American visitors had taken the kindliest interest not only in ourselves but in our whole idea, and so we could not resent it if, on returning home, they spoke of us to certain publishers, who in turn stormed us with requests for articles. Some of these requests came from magazines which we knew to be most highly regarded and very influential, and after thinking the matter over from every angle, we felt that it would not be right to refuse what they were asking of us. Accordingly we set ourselves to write a few articles, hoping thereby to correct some of the garbled accounts we had seen. Some of these had truly filled us with dismay, and I remember one which I can still not think of without shame. It described us as promenading through the island in full view of everybody, and particularly of our young Indio lad, completely in the nude, except for “tall boots to protect us from the thorny undergrowth.” Not only was this grotesque and highly unasthetic picture false in fact, but absurd on the face of it, for the thorns at Friedo and elsewhere on the island are by no means undergrowth but at least as high as any man, and to plunge through them unprotected by clothing would be a mad and suicidal proceeding. If we did sometimes play Eve and Adam in our little Eden, then it was only when we knew ourselves completely alone. In any case nudism was never one of our cults or theories, least of all in Germany at a time when it was coming greatly into vogue.

Our articles, then, were written in the hope of righting the exaggerated ideas of our Friedo existence which had begun to circulate in the world, and to explain to intelligent and sympathetic readers what the true nature of our mission was. For though a mission is usually associated with bringing light to others, we thought, and I still think, that enlightenment, like charity, begins at home. Therefore, for the time being at least, we were both teachers and disciples of a doctrine which we hoped might show us the way to a better life. Having attained it ourselves, we might then have told others about it. Perhaps we should never have got so far as teaching, but come to our natural end still looking for the truth ourselves. Had things gone as we dreamed and hoped when we set out, I truly believe we would have lived on Floreana happily and died in peaceful old age, forgotten by everybody. But we made the all too human error of failing to reckon with the superhuman. The word about us innocently sent out by a passing visitor, the unrecognized warning given us in the tragedy that overtook others, the quick succession of events that started with the arrival of the Baroness and led through strife to death and dark mystery—these were all pieces in a game of fate played by invisible players. Yet, strangely, I believe that, even had we known, we should have waited to see the game out.

When the tide of journalistic interest in us ebbed at last, we hoped that we should now be left in peace, that the inquisitive world would turn to other themes for its amusement. We did not know that in a little while the Baroness would come, providing new sensations for the world's {Press/press}.

I am not so misanthropic that I am not conscious of saying something harsh and cruel when I record that the many kindnesses we met with were more than outweighed by their reverse. It may be that Frederick and I were not very skillful in our dealings with human beings, perhaps the great sincerity which was in us both revolted against that pandering to empty forms by means of which human beings conceal their actual ill-will towards each other. But it may also be that in a wild place like Floreana, the primitive character in each person comes out more strongly than elsewhere, so that everybody shows his own true face—a rare sight in this world, and rather disconcerting.

I was shocked and outraged at the way the five young colonists treated the animals they had brought with them. Cruelty to animals is a thing I cannot tolerate. I think I mind it far more than any form of cruelty to human beings, whom I consider more than sufficiently equipped to take care of themselves. These five young men had brought along six donkeys for their use. Their stay upon the island was short, yet only one of these poor beasts survived their sojourn, and I think I never saw a creature in more pitiable condition when they left. One of these unhappy victims of human mercilessness and stupidity was a she-ass with a new-born foal. They tied her up with a slip-noose, and one morning found her strangled to death, with the tether stretched so tight that it could only have been done by her deliberately, in a frantic effort to get free. She must have been caught suddenly by the panic terror which often besets animals that have never known captivity when they feel themselves hopelessly tied up. Her baby died a day or two later, for there was no mother left to feed it, and the settlers did not try. Another of these unfortunates they literally flogged to death. They overworked it without pity and overtaxed even its sturdy strength. When it failed they kicked and beat it savagely to drive it on, until at last it died of internal injuries. Only the last of these maltreated slaves seems to have used the cunning and sagacity which are characteristic of its race, and refused to go another step. Its owners did their best, but it held out and at last they saw that it was no use kicking or flogging it any longer, so they simply abandoned it where it lay.

Soon afterwards they left, and one day Frederick met this last survivor by the wayside. It was wandering desolately about, with its bones sticking through its pretty grey coat, all but starved to death. He brought it back, and we built a small enclosure for it near the chicken-coop. We called the donkey by his Spanish name of “Burro,” not being able to find a more personal title for him at the moment, but he seemed to like it well enough and answered to it willingly. Like all good donkeys, he had broad-minded ideas as to what was good to eat, so that it was easy to keep him fed. He enjoyed all kinds of weeds, banana leaves, fruit and vegetable peel, beans, corn-stalks; but what he loved was sugar cane, corncobs and papayas. He was a perfect glutton and it was not long before he developed an almost elderly-looking paunch. He lost his scragginess and became a very handsome donkey. This was a source of great pleasure and satisfaction to me, and even to Frederick, though he had looked on Burro, as on all animals, chiefly as a useful addition to our practical equipment. I will tell later about Frederick's attitude towards animals, for it played a most important part in our story. {But/For my part}, I loved Burro for what he was, and was extremely proud of him.

It was not altogether an advantage to have made him so attractive. The donkey belles of Floreana found him entirely too agreeable, and they now began to come in crowds at night to Friedo, adding their frenzied love-calls to the usual nocturnal racket. Sometimes this became more than we could stand; then Frederick would have to get up and chase them all away.

I used to take {him/Burro} out for half an hour's riding exercise each day, a form of entertainment with which we were both equally unfamiliar. The result was that on one unfortunate occasion he thought the promenade had begun before I did, and started off in a most dashing manner, with me scarcely hoisted and quite unprepared. Before I knew what had happened, I was thrown, and found myself, after a few moments of unconsciousness, on the ground, badly stunned from a collision with the overhanging branch of an acacia. This incident decided Frederick that it was time to take Burro's training in hand, and he spent a good hour teaching him the difference between whoa and giddap. Having been trained by necessity to preserve his life by his wits, Burro was not slow to learn anything, and this single hour's instruction was all he ever needed.

Burro had an excellent memory, and apart from Friedo, Floreana was filled for him with bitter recollections. The farther away from home we rode, the less amenable he was. He would pull back and stop, and do everything but beg me in so many words please not to take him back to see again the places where he had been so unhappy. Sometimes I thought it good for him to have me severe; besides, it saved me hours of painful trudging to ride him to the orange grove and back. But whenever we went along the road towards and past the caves, my Burro would try every trick he knew to soften my heart or cheat me into submission. Once, to my great dismay, he suddenly went lame a hundred yards or so before the caves. I got down to find out what the trouble was, but my veterinary knowledge was not sufficient to discover it. I thought that I had better take him back at once to Friedo and let Frederick look at him, and meanwhile I tried to comfort him with all the pretty words that I could think of. He turned his soft, brown eyes upon me and seemed to thank me for my sympathy. I knew that I was not a heavy load for him to carry and so got on his back again and turned him around. No sooner had we started down the path than off he flew in high fettle, with no more trace of a limp than he had ever had. Then I knew that he had only fooled me; that the lameness was nothing but a piece of play-acting and guile. I lectured him long and seriously on his moral deficiencies and turned him around again. This time he had the grace to make less fuss ; no doubt he realized that he had made a tactical error in showing his triumph too soon.

Then came the rainy season with its accompanying plague of blood-sucking insects which descended with impartial savagery upon man and beast. In his frenzied attempts to rid himself of their attacks, our Burro stamped so madly about in his enclosure that we soon saw it was impossible to keep him there. To our chagrin, at least to mine, we realized that the only thing would be to turn him loose, and I hoped profoundly that I would not lose him as a consequence. The diligent courtship of the lady donkeys on the island had clearly begun to have an effect upon him, and this contributed to our decision; we felt that we ought not be an impediment to any donkey romance. So we let him go off to his wild brethren. I shall never forget how heart-broken I was at the thought of losing my favourite pet. I stood a long time outside his enclosure before I could bring myself to undo the gate that would never shut him in again.

I did not want to see him leave so I simply left the gate wide open and went away, but after a moment I could not help turning round to see if he was gone. I saw him standing in his corral with an incredulous expression. Then he walked slowly out. Just beyond Friedo he caught sight of the wild herd, and the next moment was galloping away with them.

I went about my work that day and succeeding days with a heavy heart. Everywhere I missed my Burro. I had not been able to sleep for several nights before because of the moonlight serenades and his stamping, but now I could not sleep for sadness at the thought that he was there no longer. I resolved to brave Frederick's disapproval and ask him to take down the enclosure which reminded me too much of my lost one. But something kept me from this, perhaps a hope that one day, like a prodigal child, he might come back to us, though actually I did not believe he ever would.

I have never been able to imagine any living creature, human being or animal, not preferring freedom if he could get it. I thought the only reason Burro had starved on the island where the wild asses flourished must have been that they had not accepted him in their midst, but had regarded him as a domesticated alien. Now, however, they had come for him, taken him away. Knowing how untamable and shy the wild asses were, I realized that our chances of seeing him again were {but/} remote.

One day about a week later, coming out of the house very early one morning, my first glance went, as usual, towards the empty corral. What was my astonishment at finding it empty no longer. Burro had returned. He looked extremely dejected and a little shamefaced, I thought. Overjoyed, I went in to him, and saw that his neck and ears bore traces of the fray. He had obviously been in conflict with a very powerful opponent, probably a rival in love. Whether he had won or lost, he had clearly been given a bad time. His wounds were full of horrid black insects, and maggots had settled in the gashes. I had to extract them with some pincers of Frederick's. I cleaned and salved the wounds, and kept the patient home for eight days, at the end of which time he was completely recovered.

Then he went off again, but he came back almost regularly. One never knew quite when to expect him, so I always kept a good supply of green things ready for him in his stall, in case he should come while we were away. It was most touching to see his joy in meeting us when he came home. As if to convince us that it was not only the good food he came for, he let us hitch him up for transport service eagerly, and never minded how many days we kept him working. He never showed the slightest restiveness or any desire to return to his playmates so long as {he seemed to know/} we needed him.

One day we met our Burro far from home. He was not alone, but had a lady donkey with him from the wild herd. Beside them walked a baby Burro, very solemn and awkward. There was something in our Burro's proud possessive manner and a new air of mature importance that told us plainly he had become a father. I am sure that we were no less pleased and proud than he. His new status by no means prevented his coming to Friedo as regularly as before, but he always came alone.

Once I was struck by his intelligence. One morning, Frederick started with the donkey to fetch some fruit from the aguacate trees, in order to bring shome fruit back to Friedo. When I reached the appointed place no living being was to be seen and calls remained unanswered. I then started off to the aguacate trees. Half-way I met a strange caravan. A man and a donkey were carrying the meat of a bull which had been killed by the Norwegians from Santa Cruz. The waste of useful material always made us angry and caused us to pick up what had been wasted and thrown away. This time Frederick had rescued in time the remains of a bull from the attacks of flies and wild dogs. He staggered with the meat, which we could use to feed the chickens. At the orange grove we put the whole burden on the donkey, because now the path sloped gently towards the sea and within half an hour we should reach our home.

Frederick wanted to gather some oranges, and remained behind. So I started alone with the donkey. Suddenly I was amazed to see that the tail-strap was torn; this was the strap designed to prevent the load from sliding off. In spite of the gentle slope, I could not prevent the pack-saddle sliding forward and soon the load was getting stuck on the donkey's neck. There would be difficulty in unloading. The pieces of meat were much too large to be hoisted across the back of the donkey. Should I wait until Frederick returned? The donkey would have to wait for more than half an hour, loaded and bridled. I was in great trouble. The nearer we came to our garden, the more the donkey hurried. I tried to calm him down, but my soothing words were vain and my excitement made me stumble.

At last we reached our goal. I tried to loosen the straps, but my hands trembled. At first, Burro stood patiently still, but, growing impatient, he bent his head and the load, which was near his neck, glided gently across his head and neck to the ground. I was amazed! I should never have thought of this simple solution! It seemed to me that the donkey was very clever and I expressed my appreciation by giving him not only banana peel, but also some fine, large fruit. After drinking a bucket of water, he slowly trotted to his feeding-place as if he were not a bit tired.

Before Frederick came back, I cut the meat into thin strips to hang up to be dried.

On {September 23rd/the 23d of September}, 1931, we began the building of a new house, far more spacious than the old one. We realized that the circular glass house on the high stone foundation would be the labour of years, but a truly roomy dwelling was an immediately feasible ambition, and was no sooner decided upon than put into action. The spot we selected for the original house had proved itself the one most suitable for a dwelling on the ground level, {and/} so the new one rose immediately beside the old.

The latter dwindled rapidly into a mere shack next to its broad imposing neighbour, which impressed the builders with a sense of opulence.

This dwindled rapidly into a mere shack as its broad, imposing neighbour took form. The builders were impressed daily with its sense of opulence.

It too was wall-less but had a spread of roof six yards square.

We had acquired the departing settlers' stock of corrugated iron, and this, together with our own, amply enabled us to cover the large area. The new roof was slightly tilted, to let off the rain; to offset the rare gales, against which the natural shelter of the surrounding thickets were not adequate protection, we had awnings of sail-cloth easily let down for walls. Many acacias and heartwood trees went into the making of the new roof-frame and props. I could not help much with the felling, but did my share in all the rest. The floor was of stamped clay, into which we laid halved bamboo rods{, a smooth, if corrugated surface, and/. It made a good corrugated surface,} very pretty to look at. Eight posts firmly embedded in the ground supported the roof. These were from the stubby acacia native to the island, and it took us incredibly long to find trees even relatively straight and tall enough for this purpose. The wood was hard and resistant as iron; it was slave's work driving holes into its unyielding surface, and each nail had to be thickly greased before it could be hammered home. But the finished house was well worth all the effort.

 

The roof was so solid that it could safely support the weight of any number of people; and we made use of it as a roof-garden very often.

I don't know which feature of our new home swelled our pride the most—the large screen-cage of insect-proof wire netting where our beds stood, my kitchen with the hanging shelves against the ants, our library with two most comfortable easy-chairs, or our other handmade furniture of beautiful curved sticks. The roof, extending beyond the house, formed a wide veranda, and this we gradually furnished with a large rectangular table and two round ones, five chairs and seven small racks for holding odds and ends. All these things, big and small, were made with our own hands, and without assistance or advice from anyone. We looked upon them as a triumph for two confirmed townsfolk.

But the chief glory of the place, to Frederick's mind, was his device for running water. Using an old pipe salvaged from the scrap-heap outside the Casa, he made a conduit from the natural reservoir in the rock, which I have already described, to a corner near the kitchen. A cartridge-case became a tap; one end was fitted round the pipe, the other, with a finger-wide hole bored in it, emitted a sufficient stream of water controlled by a slide. This piece of plumbing was the admiration of all beholders, and an incalculable boon to me.

Our new house took three months of unremitting toil to build, and when it was finished it was as free, and bright, and open to the air of heaven as I wished our souls to be. We looked at it and found it very good.

But it demanded an appropriate setting, and the next three months were spent, accordingly, in applying a landscaping hand to too luxuriant and formless nature. To achieve our purpose we had to clear a strip of jungle at the end of our garden. The view repaid its cost a thousand, thousand times with sunsets and sunrises of surpassing beauty, and with the ever-changing picture of the ocean which is the same from eon to eon, and never the same from hour to hour. The far blue coast of Isabella reminded us, according to the mood of the moment, how near we were to our fellow-men, and how far we were from them. Sometimes a trail of smoke on the horizon told of an unseen ship; sometimes we saw a distant sail. But often for as long as half a year the sea stretched away on every side as empty as though it had never been traversed by man. Then we forgot the other dwellers on the island, and gave ourselves up to the joy of utter solitude.

Unfortunately, the strip of land which we had cleared to free the view towards the sea could not be put to any use on account of the impossibility of irrigating it. But the six hundred fence-posts it yielded enabled us to extend Friedo towards the west. This fencing took another six months to complete, working at it intermittently whenever we had a few hours to spare. The posts were a motley collection, some thick as telephone-poles, others, in comparison, as slim as wands. One immense one we set up at the entrance to Friedo and duly christened it “Elephant's Gate” in honour of this mighty pillar.

One morning—I had just hung out the washing—and Frederick was grinding the machete—we suddenly heard, close at hand, the bars of the song “Das Wandern ist del Müllers Lust.” We looked at each other in amazement. It seemed that the song came to us from another world. Tears came into my eyes when I heard the sweet German air. When the song died away, we went to meet the guests who had introduced themselves in such a graceful manner. They were German teachers from Guayaquil who wanted to pay us a visit during their holidays. Soon we were sitting together eating fresh fruits and comparing notes.

As our house was just ready, I could not refrain from showing them all my prized possessions. The find quality of the “Nirosta vessels” was obvious. Bowls and plates were shining like gold on the table. The guests partook with much pleasure of the fruits where were served on shining plates, and in that very moment, our guests decided to use only “Nirosta” in future.

But what astonished the visitors most of all was my water-supply in th kitchen. Frederick never liked being praised, but I could not help pointing to his work with pride, and the water-supply was very useful to me.

The water-tap was also very peculiar. Everybody wanted to try this simple “Patent” !

Though Frederick moved away when I praised his work, I nevertheless showed our guests the “window-shutters” which he had consructed for our sleeping room. Sometimes the wind, which was always blowing from south-west, was rather troublesome, expecially when we were writing. Frederick had made a wooden frame which he covered with canvas and fastened on top with hinges. This shutter was pulled upwards from within by means of a covered wire. It closed again by its own weight, by loosening the wire.

Like comets darting across the sky, American yachts cruised about our peaceful island, and always left us a bright memory. When the lovely yacht Nourmahal had departed, we started work in order to obtain an uninterrupted view of the sea, so that we might no more be surprised by visitors coming up [from] the Black Beach.

It was a hard task. Within three months we had cut down the trees and bushes which hindered the view. At dawn Frederick would start work. His legs were protected from the thorny acacias by shoes and gaiters, and his back was covered by a patch of linen cloth. A head-band stopped beads of perspiration running into his eyes.

As soon as I finished my necessary housework I, too, started clearing the soil. I had to put on gloves because the continual cutting with the machete had made my skin sore. When my right arm was tired, I had to take our “sword” into both hands, because I had much less strength than Frederick.

When I reached the place at nine o'clock, the trees were already cut and their roots fired. Frederick had cut off the thick branches for hedge-posts. It was my task to cut the branches in strips. The brushwood, too, had to be cut in this manner. During the first clearance, fire destroyed the best plants, so we made no further use of this method for removing branches.

Sometimes the machete struck a stone, in spite of my care. Then it became notched, and work had to be suspended. Unfortunately, this happened very often, as the ground was very stony, and I had to take with me the hammer, anvil and grinding-stone.

A long scar on my right leg testifies to missing the mark with the machete, and Frederick was twice hit in the eyes by rebounding branches.

But when the work was done, I was delighted. We were now able to enjoy a wonderful look-out to the sea. Our settlement was situated 500 feet above the sea-level, which gave us a glorious view.

The fence originally put up was no longer sufficient to prevent the wild donkeys and cows from entering our garden. Ther were often large holes in the fence. Consequently we had to plant new posts, but before starting work the points must be marked. We wanted to fence a larger area of about five acres.

Now we had to use our machetes again, for weeks on end, in order to clear a path two yards wide, in the midst of which the future fence was to be set. Frederick had chosen 640 stems of bent branches which he had already put aside when clearing. He carried them on his shoulders to the place of work, and had to traverse very uneven, extremely uncomfortable paths.

The branches were of peculiar shape and gnarled and twisted. Some were as thick as the feet of elephants, others as thin as hop-poles, but they were all of the indestructible wood of the white acacia, which is seldom attacked by wood-worms. We laughed at the grotesque shapes of our fence-posts, which showed themselves as real Galapagos fences by their twists.

As the old barbed wire could still be used, we had to unwind it. The old clamps, too, had to be used again, and Frederick worked every minute and was hammering away even in the bright moonlight nights, in order to straighten the clamps again.

when the old fence was broken down, the wild beasts had free access to our garden, but they did not make use of this opportunity. They had been used to the barrier of the fence for so long as to be unable to break the habit.

Once once, when Frederick was away, did a big black bull enter our garden. He trotted peacefully towards our house. What could I do? I called out: “Hallo.” The bull was startled only for a moment, then he went off. I took our large Nirosta basin and beat it with a wooden club. A rumbling noise could be heard at a distance. The bull planted his feet firmly on the ground as if expecting a fierce enemy. But he remained in this position only for a moment. As this ear-splitting noise continued, he was seized by fright; he turned and rushed away. For a long time I heard the wild flight as the bull rushed across the thick shrubbery.

As Frederick told me later on, he had heard this drum throbbing from a far distance. Thence forth I often beat the drum at night when it was necessary to drive away the wild beasts from the rear of our garden, where they were howling with sexual desire.

Chapter XII: The Tug of War

I do not wish to add my words of wisdom about marriage to all that has been said and written on this engrossing subject during the past many thousand years, but I should like to declare my opinion that if Adam and Eve made a success of the first marriage, it must have been because the human species at that early stage had not yet learned what mental conflict meant. I know that there are women whose natural submissiveness is so extreme that they offer no resistance whatever when coerced by someone else's will.

I am not going to add my words of wisdom about marriage to what has been already said and written on this entertaining subject during thousands of years past, but I should like to place on record my opinion that if Adam and Eve were as successful as they are reputed to have been, it was because the human species at that early stage had not yet learned the meaning of mental conflict. I know that there are types of women whose natural submissiveness is so extreme that they put up no resistance of any kind when coerced by somesome else's will.

They submit to the domination of their husbands as to a {natural/} force {/of circumstance} which there is no gainsaying. There is much practical wisdom in this attitude, I know, and perhaps it is the one in which the secret of the perfect marriage lies. But I myself was insufficiently endowed with passivity at birth and have never since acquired it. Compulsion of any kind has always offended my sense of freedom, and in conflict with a stronger will than mine I do not yield but fight on, whether I know I have a losing cause or not. This stronger will I found in Frederick. He was so intensely masculine that his whole conception of married life was based upon the principle of woman's subjugation in the earthly scheme.

I think that no one ever loved a man more wholly than I this man. He was for me perhaps more than a man, and nearer to a god. The wide range of his learning, his profundity of thought, the extreme courage with which, unlike almost every other thinker, he dared to carry each idea to its logical end—all made him stand out as a person of more than ordinary stature in a world where there is much thinking and little thought, and too much cowardice in the face of uncomfortable conclusions.

I have said already, but must here repeat, that I felt it to be the greatest privilege and honour of my life that this man chose me among all the many men and women he had known for his single true disciple. It filled me with an endless pride to know that my fundamental likeness to himself was so profound, and I must make it clear that this aspect of our union was largely independent of and unaffected by our love on the human plane.

 

I mean that we should probably have been lovers even had we not shared the same view of life and gone out looking for the same truths; and we should have been companions in that search even had we never been lovers.

I should not dwell on matters as purely personal as these if it were not that the evolution of our relationship is a main element in the story of our life on Floreana. {But on/On} that island, cut off equally from the disadvantages and the advantages of other human contacts, our marriage problem was a difficult one, though instructive, I dare say, because there was {nobody and/nothing outside ourselves} to help us solve it{ but ourselves/}. Even in Germany, our two strong wills had met in many a fierce encounter, but it is one thing to cope with such situations by appearing before one's neighbours and friends as if nothing had happened, or else by going off defiantly to see a moving picture, or even by submerging the annoyance of the moment in the observation of the anonymous and varied life about one in the town; and another, to be without such refuges, alone with your opponent and your fury on a deserted island in the middle of an ocean. Then it is yield or break, or compromise or win, but all without assistance from the outside.

In my tussles with Frederick, I yielded sometimes, and broke once; I won once or twice. But nothing could ever bring me to a compromise; it is not in my nature, and was not in Frederick's, either. The clever and the worldly might laugh at us and call us childish extremists, but we knew that only the absolute is right and worth while in the long run.

Life in the wilderness is rich in lessons most of us never have a chance to learn. It was a source of continual amazement to me to realize how civilization falsifies the lives of men and women, making it forever impossible, even for those who know each other best, to see each other as they really are. On Floreana I saw myself and Frederick for the first time. Here again, on the spiritual and intellectual plane, our lives were as nearly perfect in harmony as could well be imagined, but how great was the disharmony in the sphere of practical and human things!

 

It is a romantic error to suppose that in the building of our house and the creation of the garden we translated drudgery into terms of spiritual significance. Nothing could be farther from the truth. On the contrary, the ceaseless and excessive manual toil dulled the edge of our whole spiritual life for me, and spoiled all its freshness. Sometimes at night, reviewing the day that we had just completed, I used to notice in hurt amazement how stupid, petty trifles and meaningless activities had swallowed up precious time, leaving us the gainers by nothing. My lack of skill at manual drudgery was just one of many things leading to Frederick's seemingly eternal dissatisfaction with everything I was and did. Sometimes when I could endure this no longer, and blazed out at him in uncontrollable anger, he would answer that it was only his high ambition for me that made him so.

He wanted to see me as something more than other women, and knew that he could make me more if he did not let softness come in and relax the sternness of his education. I had to accept this explanation, knowing it was true, but it did not console me.

It did not even console me to see and hear his pride in me before the visitors who came. When he sang my praises into strangers' ears, I used chiefly to remember with bitterness that none of my achievements, which he suddenly admired so much, had inspired him at the time of performance with a single word of commendation. I will not dwell here again upon what I have already mentioned, namely that every trace of tenderness departed from Frederick's attitude towards me the moment we left home. Not having yet become the kind of super-woman he was striving for, I felt cheated and disappointed at being treated as though I were a man friend. This was the cause of bitter quarrels between us, but my resistance shipwrecked on the rock of his apparent inability to understand my situation or my point of view. After a long time I gave up the struggle and became as indifferent, at least outwardly, as he. In many things I went my own way, and his criticisms and reproaches failed to perturb me any longer. Yet I could not say that I was disappointed in myself for being too ordinary a person, too subject to worldly joys and sorrows, to be the perfect companion of such a man. What moved me most, I think, in all the time of our companionship, was the change that came over Frederick about half a year before he died. No outward circumstance and no advances on my side provoked this, but it was as though certain values he had ignored or underestimated until then came to take their rightful place in his view of life. And this so happy change was helped by the greater understanding I had gained of him during the long time, when it seemed as though we were almost estranged. Only between two people bound by such bonds as we were, the word {estrangement/“estrangement”} had no meaning.

I was tormented by many queer discrepancies in Frederick's unique character.

 

I have already told about the desperate fit of jealousy that seized him one day when we were out with Hugo, and there were many others.

For instance, the fierce battles that we fought about my flower garden. There were few flowers on Friedo, and none particularly decorative. I longed to see such favourites of my youth as roses and carnations, dahlias and others, shining against the somber jungle background. I spoke of this to Frederick when we were planting our plantation, and said that I should order seeds from Guayaquil. To my sheer amazement he forbade this utterly. Then I learned that he disliked all things that had no use or purpose in nature, that to introduce such irrelevancies into this place of his ideal would be to flout its whole significance. This objection did not hinder me from gratefully accepting the offer of a kind American visitor to send me some carnation seeds when he got back. When these came, I did not plant them secretly, but Frederick showed me very clearly that he resented, and disapproved on principle, of my defiance.

{But/} I was charmed when the first flowers came up. I took the greatest care of them, determined that they should not share the fate of many seeds that we had brought from home, {/such as} radishes {/and} lettuce {and suchlike/}, which had done wonderfully for a short while and then refused to grow {any/} more. I dreamed of a lovely flower garden which would fill my eyes with colour and my heart with joy. Then I {fell/felt [sic] ill, and had to stay in the house for a long time. Between the bouts of fever, I begged Frederick to keep my flowers watered, and the first day I could creep out of doors, my first visit was to the carnation bed. I found it empty. The ragged earth showed where the plants had been torn roughly out of it. Trails of the graceful gray stalks lay forlornly here and there. There was no reason to suspect marauding animals. I knew quite well who had committed this act of destruction. I said nothing, but planted another crop. A similar end befell it. I then put in a third, and this he left alone. But not in silence. He tried to show me how valueless were flowers, which served no purpose other than foolish decoration, alien to the plan, since nature had not put them there. If I desired flowers, he said, then I should learn to see the beauty in the yellow blossoms of the cotton, and be satisfied with these. I admitted that they too were charming in their brilliant yellow, but insisted that I have my flowers as well. I realized later that Frederick had not meant to deprive me of a pleasure but to help me free myself from the domination of mere wishes and irrational desires. It conflicted with his theory of the conservation of energy to have me spend time, thought and care upon quite outward, unimportant things.

More serious than our quarrel over the flowers was Frederick's invincible objection to my living pets. His jealousy of Burro was extreme. I call it jealousy because there was, in his disapproval, more of this complex emotion than he was willing to admit. Not for his person, but for his teachings, Frederick claimed the absolute monopoly of my intellect and feelings, and grudged the squandering of them on any other thing. And I confess that I spent a great deal of time with my beloved and charming four-footed companions.

I had a family of cats. The mother was that touching pussy we had found wandering disconsolately about the deserted Casa, apparently not able to unlearn domesticity and join the wild cats upon the island. We took her with us, and were very glad to have her, because of the plague of rats at Friedo. It is not every cat that will tackle rats, but Mietzi was a heroine in her way, and kept the fierce intruders at a distance. Though unable to go over to the island cats, Mietzi did not despise a wild lover. Her favourite among her many suitors was a handsome black tom who became the father of a large and lusty family. I adored these kittens, who were much different from the tame variety and far more handsome. I do confess that I spent a great deal of time with them, doing my best to ignore Frederick's disapproval, but this increased to such an extent that I at last had to train the whole family except Mietzi herself to keep away from Friedo and out of sight. Afterwards I kept two of Mietzi's children, partly on account of their usefulness. But my friendship had to be carried on with them half in secret, so as not to arouse Frederick to fresh anger.

In a certain way he was justified in resenting the attention I gave at all times to my pets, and in feeling that they had robbed him of that singleness of interest on my part which had been all his before. For example, in the morning hours which he always spent working at his philosophy, he would often call me to discuss a thought, and I would hasten into the house—for he worked only in the “cage,” never out-of-doors—leaving whatever I was doing instantly. It is certain that I did not grow less interested in his work, or feel each new thought and idea which came to him any less urgent than before, and I am sure I listened with at least as much eagerness and attention as at any other time. But it would often happen that he called me just as I was in the midst of feeding my animals, and suddenly I would hear one calling sadly for its food. Then I would have a pang of conscience, especially when it was the baby donkey whose mother we had shot. Frederick would notice my divided attention, and resent it bitterly, for to him, with his unswerving faithfulness to the great purpose with which we both had come to Floreana, my apparently incurable attachment to worldly things was a source of grief and disappointment. In his heart he knew that the things of his world were more real and important to me than all else; he could not understand the seeming contradiction in my behaviour. I have often reproached myself since then for the justifiable anger I provoked him to at such times. Then there was the never-ending tug-of-war between his self-will and my own, for I could not bear the thought of being coerced, and the drastic system by which Frederick tried to educate me reminded me sometimes all too keenly of my husband, and aroused my most violent resistance.

At such times as these, and they were frequent, the conflict between us would burst out into something most horribly resembling a domestic row with mutual recrimination and fault-finding, just, I am ashamed to say, as in the most bourgeois household in the world. Frederick's not undeserved rebukes on the subject of my domestic inefficiency would burst forth then with pent-up violence, but my life among the {Hausfraus/Hausfraus} of Germany had given me a hatred of domestic efficiency. I had a horror of the {Hausfrau/Hausfrau} in myself and others, and neither in Berlin nor upon Floreana did I intend to become one. I conceived the plan of having Frederick's wife come out to us. If he thought that my animals took up too much of my time and his, and that for their sake I neglected house and garden, then let her come and attend to these and welcome. I was not jealous. I was perfectly willing to take all the consequences of her presence in one home. But Frederick would have none of it, and in this rejection I felt to a certain extent forgiven and consoled. Nevertheless, I wished and hoped that she would come, and even wrote to her to take the plunge, assuring her she would not be unhappy, and that I, at least, would be glad to have her there.

Meanwhile our mail brought us news that the publicity about us in the German press had proved my worst fears justified. My husband had started proceedings for divorce against me; this showed that the arrangement we had made on leaving

, that Frederick's wife remain to take my place beside my husband,

(to have Frederick's wife take my place beside my husband)

had not worked out and had had to be given up. I could therefore see no reason why Frau Ritter should not come to Floreana, since she had no children to consider, and since I was sure she still loved her husband. But she did not come, and we were, and remained, alone to fight our fight to the end.

But in spite of all our differences, deep-rooted and important as some of them were, we never doubted but that we had been intended for each other, and both of us knew that we could never be parted and live. This deep conviction lent a certain superficiality to even our wildest quarrels, and that is why, although our Eden was no peaceful one, it was an Eden just the same.

Chapter XIII: We Gain a Friend and Fail to Defeat an Enemy

The year 1932 was the beginning of the end, but no year could have opened more deceptively. The 3rd of January brought us a friend whom I shall remember all my life with gratitude. The American yacht Velero III came to Floreana, commanded by its owner, Captain Hancock, the explorer, who invited us aboard. Unlike most of the visitors to the island, there came to us at Friedo immediately upon their arrival—usually interest in us was incidental, which we sometimes preferred, for it was not to everybody we felt inclined to show our place. Except {/for} Commander McDonald, no one who came cruising to the island showed such sympathetic or intelligent interest in our purpose and ideas as Captain Hancock. In him we found that openness of mind and freedom from prejudice and preconceived ideas, as well as that respect for other people's sincerities, which are among the most likable traits of the Americans. These men, we felt, of all the kind and interested men and women we met, we felt that we could really talk of our ideas, with the perfect assurance that we were speaking a language they could understand.

When Captain Hancock asked us to the yacht, he did not mention the treat he had in store for us, but I shall never forget the extraordinary and moving impression of that evening—for there was music. Captain Hancock turned out to be an accomplished 'cellist. He played on an instrument whose tone had the most extraordinary beauty I had ever heard. {Someone/Some one} told us afterwards that it was a Gagliano, a priceless example of its kind.

Another young member of the group of scientists played the solo accompaniments and the piano part with the Captain and a young Russian violin virtuoso. §

There was a young Russian violin virtuoso, and another member of the group of scientists on board played the piano accompaniments. §

§ The violin virtuoso was probably field collector/assistant photographer/violinist Herman Marsh. There is no known source for Dore's “young Russian” remark. John Garth was the pianist.

It is very difficult for dwellers in the civilized world {to-day/today}, with the phonograph and radio bringing music continuously into their very houses, to realize what years without music can mean. I myself had not been conscious of how much I missed it until I heard again the works of those composeres with whom all Germans grow up from childhood and whose genius plays so large a part in every German's cultural life. As we sat listening to Haydn and Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, I lost all consciousness of my surroundings, and hardly came back to earth when the rich sounds themeselves had died away. It was not that the music made me feel homesick—that is, not for Europe or for the scenes and people with whom it was associated in my mind—but it was as though it led me back into a landscape that was home to me, where I knew everything, and met again many a joy that I had greatly cherished{./, and was profoundly happy to have met again.}

Captain Hancock's chief interest in the Galapagos seemed, like Beebe's, to be the fauna of that strange region. We were shown fascinating pictures of giant turtles, dwarf penguins, leguana [iguana], and many other creatures native to islands of the archipelago.The Velero III differed considerably from the pleasure yachts. It seemed to be equipped for work rather than for mere enjoyment; it had a serious atmosphere. Captain Hancock had heard of us long before he came, and to our astonishment we found that he must have questioned some of our former visitors about us closely, for he was well informed as to certain household deficiencies at Friedo, and had actually brought along a cook-stove of light case-iron, a gift for which I have blessed him a thousand times. He also brought a rifle for {defence/defense} agains dangerous animals, a much more powerful weapon than the gun we already had. He pressed us to tell him when we needed, and at the moment the only thing that I could think of was flour. Until that time, having no means of making bread, we had substituted bananas for this staple article of food, but variety in eating is acknowledged to be necessary, and an unvaried diet of bananas is apt to be extremely jading after a long time. Now, thanks to Captain Hancock's kindness, we were able to have bread four times a month. When the Velero sailed away, I thought with wistfulness of the lovely music that we should probably not hear again. We did not know then that Captain Hancock would come back several times, nor that he had left us the richer for a deep and enduring friendship.

About a month later we suddenly became aware, one day, that visitors had descended upon us. They found us immersed in the day's {labour/labor}, and seemed astonished, and even a little amused, at the great earnestness with which we toiled. This time the leader of the party was Vincent Astor. It was his first visit to Friedo, though not to Floreana. We had met him on the occasion of his former call on the island about two years before, but a stupid misunderstanding had marred the pleasure of that first acquaintance. Now that small cloud had quite dispersed, and we met again with mutual cordiality. Mr. Astor was most solicitous for our comfort on the island. He too made us show him everything and tell him what we lacked, but by this time Friedo was astonishinlgy well-equipped, and actually we have very little to ask for. The time passed charmingly and we enjoyed our return visit to his yacht, the Nourmahal. It was a very handsome craft, most lavishly appointed, but I would not have exchanged our Friedo for it for all the world.

Other casual cruisers came and went.

It was about this time that we entered the decisive stage in the fiercest battle of our Floreana career. Our antagonist was no ordinary one. In wits and courage he was at least our equal, and he seemed to bear a charmed life. Of all the visible and invisible forces on the island which set their power against us, this was the one with which we came into the most obstinate open conflict To every ruse of ours, he had a counter-trick. It was a long duel, and I often wondered afterwards whether we really did come out of it victorious, or whether the things that happened afterwards to our undoing were not of his contriving, notwithstanding the fact that he had by then ceased to exist in the tangible form in which he appeared to us, that of a wild pig of immense size. We called him the “devil boar.” I am not sure now that he was a boar, but I am very sure he was a devil—one of the Floreana evil spirits, or perhaps one of those guardians of the island, which seemed to us fiendish only because they resented our intrusion.

The struggle had started as long ago as 1930, when our garden began to flourish with yucca and potatoes, yams and other sweet products, far more palatable to beast and man than the bitter fruit of the acacia. For a surprising time we remained undisturbed by nightly marauders, until suddenly each morning we came out to find our vegetable plots devastated, obviously by some large animal We began to lie awake at night in ambush for it, but it never revealed itself. Its black coat was invisible against the blackness of the tropical night.

New problems arose when our sugar-cane was ripe and ready for use. From Chatham we had brought back some cuttings of sugar-cane, and had planted them in moist soil. From each knot, roots grew downwards and a reed-like cane upwards, with long, broad leaves. After one year, the silky panicles appearing at the top of the cane showed us that the plant had fructified. But how could we, without any technical means, obtain the sweet juice out of the woody cane? First we tried to smash the cane on stones, and to extract the juice by hand. However, this troublesome work hurt our hands and, besides this is was not yielding much. Next we tried a process of lixiviation. The sticks, after having been peeled, were cut into thin portions and water was poured over them. After some time, the sweetened water was poured on to new chips and the first were covered again with fresh water. After repeating this wearisome process ten times, the liquid became as sweet as sugar. However, it was not possible, owing to the climate, to protect the liquid from fermentation—in spite of parboiling—and consequently the troublesome process was abandoned.

Frederick then constructed a lever-press, which I worked by sitting on the end of the lever and rocking or swinging gently. We called this device “the sugar swing,” and it was quite effective.

By this means we obtained 600 litres of sugar juice in the course of one month. We boiled it down to a jelly. Just as with ordinary preserves, we had to scum it carefully. When ready we poured the thick syrup into our Nirosta milk-cans, which were then hermetically closed. In time, hard, brown sugar crystals were formed at the sides of the can, and they were like sugar candy.

In this way, the problem of the sugar-cane had been thoroughly solved. There was no danger whatever that we would even have a lack of sugar as long as the sugar-cane was growing. Beisdes the highly valuable crystal sugar, we had also a syrup of pleasant taste, which the Ecuadorians called “miel,” i.e. honey. And I found it a most pleasant thing to be able to prepare at any time a most excellent lemonade. The freshly extracted sugar juice was thinned out with some water and made sour with lemon or Cirmela juice. This lemonade was intended mainly for our guests, as we rarely suffered from thirst because of the fact that we had always plenty of fruit. And when the midday heat and perspiration had deprived our body of moisture, as a consequence of very hard work, then we could quench or thirst only by pure, unsweetened water.

I was delighted, too, to find that the pressed-out sugar-cane fibre could be used also; our donkey was extremely fond of it! After this discovery, I did not try to press out the sugar-cane thoroughly, and “Burro” always found something sweet in the fibre.

Sometimes, but most unwillingly, we left our small property. This occurred for instance on that day when we expected the Ecuadorian Government vessel Patria.

In the morning, Frederick started off to Post Office Bay. I remained in the garden attending to my numerous boarders. As soon as darkness fell, I was to meet him with the lantern.

At sunset, the hens were roosting and their diminishing clucking showed that they were going to sleep. The cows were lowing in their byres and the snorting bulls were to be heard from time to time. I took the lantern and began the lonely walk. A calf crossed my path, stopped and stared at me, but fled away when I called.

Heavy clouds hung low in the sky and obscured the stars, the sparkling of which would have otherwise shown me the path. I became anxious when I thought of Frederick, who could only feel his way very slowly through the night and had perhaps a heavy load. From time to time I called a loud “Halloa” and listened; but only my echo came back and the sound of the cracking of dry branches and the trampling of cows and donkeys on their flight.

I not only increased my pace, but unfortunately I gave way to my imagination, which painted alarming pictures. And then a drizzling rain set in so that not only myself, but also my matches were soon drenched. My excitement increased and I was more and more anxious to get an answer to my calls—but nothing was to be heard—only a threefold echo. I had been walking one hour already and now broke into a run. Very often I fell down; my dress was torn by the thorns and my feet were sore because I had only light sandals. When crossing a field of rolling stones, I fell down on my knee so heavily that a sharp lava-stone penetrated deeply below my knee-cap. But I hastened ahead and the blood stained the hem of my torn dress—I did not feel any pain.

I could no longer think. Up till now I had been able to keep the lantern alight, but again I fell down and this time the jar extinguished the light and darkness surrounded me. I estimated I had been already two hours on the way, because the two white acacias which marked the half of our journey were behind me. I groped ahead in the dark. Why did Frederick not come? Has he had an accident?

Here must be the junction where the well-known donkey-path diverged. Had I missed my way? I became uncertain, ran back to a well-known tree and forced myself to continue on the way I thought wrong—and I went on. Then suddenly far away appeared many lights which could only belong to a ship which was moored in the Bay. Well then, the government ship we expected, had arrived after all! But where was Frederick? Considerably heartened, I hastened on towards the beach. I was sure to learn there where Frederick had gone. There was still one hour's journey ahead and I had again to climb across steep, rocky ground: I missed my way several times, but very quickly became aware of my mistake and found the right way again. But my legs would not carry me any farther and when I had to pass the last bad bit where I had to cross rocks and stones, I fell down full length. I felt that my whole body was covered with sore gashes and bruises, and on my chin, elbows, wrists and both knees I felt dripping blood. I got up in a most depressed and wretched condition and sat down again on one of the big stones. I again sent a dull “Hallo” into the black night. But what was this? Nor far from me I heard the voice of Frederick: “I'll come!” At this sound the anguich of the last hours melted into tears and thus they found me.

The strangers who were coming with Frederick went ahead most tactfully and Frederick bound up my deepest wound at the knee with a pocket handkerchief. Supported and freshly animate by the happy welcome, I was able to walk back to Friedo. It even seemed that the night was somewhat lighter by the contrast of sorrow and joy, and in fact, when nearly home, the moon, the faithless fellow, began to shed his dull light on the horizon.

Before the break of day the “hunting party” started for the heart of the island. But we had had enough, for a long time, of all kind of social intercourse, and I became more than concerned when Frederick told me of his adventure, which had unexpectedly run him into great danger. He had had to wait for the expected vessel until the afternoon, and so long had he been delayed that there was no hope of his reaching Black Beach before nightfall, when some of the crew said they wanted to accompany him, as they were anxious for a hunting excursion into the heart of the island. But they did not leave the ship until sunset. Consequently when they reached Black Beach they were not able to see in the dark night the landing-stage of only six yards width. To see better, they approached the coast, but got into the breakers, and there is nothing more dangerous than that. The force of the precipitating waves might easily throw them against the steep rock and the boat would have been smashed! Fortunately, instead, the boat had been lifted on the crest of a high wave and, just as if it were shot by a catapult, dropped with it. Whipped by the force of the water, the boat cracked with a thundering noise and it seemed that it must be engulfed in the tremendous walls of water. They were all seized with dreadful panic, and turned the boat again in a hurry towards the open ocean, and the steersman, with great ability, succeeded in steering it out of the breakers.

On the trip to Post Office Bay, Frederick saw from the shining lantern that I was on my way to meet him. When they at last landed there, they started immediately on the stony path to reach the heart of the island overland and they met me.

For a long time we remembered this day full of exciting experiences. We resolved to stay “at home.” Here we were happy. The correspondence which told us of what was happening in the world, brought variety, it is true, into our peaceful life, but also much disappointment. Strangers wrote to us. Sometimes they were adventurers, sometimes standed individuals who wanted to make a last refuge in solitude. It was unpleasant for us to read their questions and to answer them. Sometimes we sounded a note of warning, because a lonely life abroad is hard and full of privation and it may sometimes be even dangerous.

One evening as I was working in the garden, I looked round and saw what I thought was a black calf. It had just broken through the fence, and I called Frederick to go over and deal with it. As we came nearer, we saw that it was not a calf at all, but a huge boar, and by its evil, deprecating eye we knew that this was the thief and ravager of our garden. At that time our most powerful weapon was the rifle given us by Commander {Macdonald [sic]/McDonald}, an excellent one, but not of the caliber required for overcoming devils. Frederick shot at the boar, but, so far as we could tell, with no effect. From so near he could not very well have missed, so we concluded that the bullet had glanced off the creature's body without doing any harm. For the moment, however, we had banished it, and heard it going off through the bush, muttering and grunting, but not in

the kind of voice it must have had had it been hurt.

a voice to indicate it had been hurt.

The next morning, our garden presented an indescribable picture of destruction. It seemed impossible that only one brigand had been at work. The wild boar must have come with his whole family. Ordinarily our principles stood inflexible against all forms of killing, but in this case we saw that our fight with the wild boar could only be a fight to the finish, and that the best man must win. Having found our gun useless, Frederick now resorted to more subtle weapons, and poisoned bananas with cyankali. This devilish dessert should ruin the devil's appetite for good, he thought, as he pasted a generous portion of the fatal stuff on the so-pleasant fruit.

We went outside the following morning with a sense of guilt, feeling that we had used not quite fair methods in the fight against a helpless member of the brute creation, and fully expecting to find either the wicked old monster's corpse where the bananas had lain, or else his tracks leading off into the thicket, where he might have staggered to die. We might have spared ourselves these moral qualms, for there lay the bananas, spurned. The enemy had not taken the bait but had apparently nibbled carefully at it and discovered that everything was not entirely in order. The portion of poison he had consumed might have been enough to kill an ordinary pig, but something told us that it would have no effect on this one. And we were right, for shortly afterwards he showed himself to us again, looking the picture of robust, well-nourished health. I could not resist teasing Frederick about the virtue of his tonics, and rearranged a little nursery rhyme to suit the case, which I sang mockingly now and then. This spurred him on to further effort, and his next idea was to lay a trap.

It was a very ingenious affair. He dug a hole large enough to hold an elephant, covering it with leafy branches strewn with gravel, to look like the rest of the surrounding ground. In the middle of this treacherous platform he spread an appetizing meal of yucca. I greatly praised and admired this inspired piece of handwork, and we slept optimistically through that night. I was so sure that we had caught the wily creature that next morning I went with some wariness with Frederick to the hole, afraid that he might leap out at us. We found the covering of our pit sloped in a gentle incline towards the bottom of the pit, forming a soft and grateful gangplank for the free entrance and exit of any number of prisoners. Not only were the yuccas all gone but the sight of my ruined garden filled me again with fury and despair.

{And now/Now} I was convinced that the devil-boar was no ordinary animal, but a fiend in beast's shape. I almost heard it chuckling with sinister triumph from among the thickets. Failure drove poor Frederick to a perfect frenzy. He neglected everything else, in order to think out and construct a device which would rid us of this satanic foe. The accompanying sketch is too crude to give an idea of how difficult his guillotine was, both to build and to set up with the means at our disposal. It was really a complex machine, combining a strangulation device with the ax. After innumerable trials, in which it more than came up to its inventor's expectations, we were at last convinced that victory was ours. The block of wood, our dummy, placed against the bait, was duly and inevitably hanged and beheaded the moment the release-mechanism was touched.

This time Frederick was taking no chances. Night after night we sacrificed luscious fruits of our garden to lure the monster to the spot where his fate was to overtake him, but at first harmlessly, so that he would grow accustomed to finding good things there, and get into the habit of trusting in his safety. At last we raised the guillotine, and, from our beds, kept an ear alert for the result. But it seemed that the victim had been warned or had an engagement elsewhere that night, for he did not come at the usual time. Then I went to sleep. The next morning Frederick met me with such an expression of bafflement on his face that I knew immediately we had failed again. He told me how he had heard the boar come, and had gone out with his lantern after hearing, as he thought, the fall of the ax. The ax had fallen but not upon the enemy's neck, and the boar had once again got off scot free—taking the bait with him.

I hardly recognized Frederick in the savage berserker the wild boar had aroused. All the primitive male was aroused in him, and he swore that if he died in the attempt, he would get the best of this devilish adversary. He tried no more traps, for these were obviously useless. The weak gun had proved ineffectual. What could be done? Suddenly he remembered the dynamite! That night, tastefully concealed amidst a pile of delicacies, lay two cartridges of dynamite ready to be set off by Frederick lying in wait at a circumspect distance, pretending to be asleep. The giant came. It did not take him long to discover the feast, and soon we heard him chewing and grunting in highest satisfaction. Now that we knew that his moments were numbered, we did not begrudge the wise old fellow, the subtle demon and destroyer of our work, his farewell spread. We even felt rather ashamed to be disposing of him in this truly ghastly fashion, and almost feared to set off the charge of dynamite.

The night was shrill with the nocturnal cries of all the island herds. The wild cats screamed and fought at intervals, but nothing disturbed the boar in the leisurely enjoyment of his party. At last the time seemed to Frederick to have come, and he set off the fatal spark. The roar that followed sounded as though all the volcanoes on the island had suddenly erupted in concert, and when the reverberations subsided and the smoke and dust cleared somewhat, I went timorously forward, trying to keep my bare feet well out of the way of fragments of wild boar which must be lying about the place.

{But then/Then} there came another roar—this time from Frederick. The boar was nowhere to be seen, but that he got away intact was fully proved by the absence of remains. Among the litter left by the explosion, we found some dynamite cartridges. Our guest had taken them for part of the supper we had offered him, had chewed them thoroughly, but evidently found them little to his liking, so had not swallowed them but left them on the ground. The connecting wires of the fuse had been masticated into a tangle round the cartridges.

After this, for a time, both sides called an armistice.

The Wild Cat

Our male cat Möhrich was the prime cause of the cats' tragedy. He was big and strong and did not belie his parentage. His father had been a vigorous wild cat. Matrimony with my Gräulinisi, with her delicate limbs, was no sufficient for him: but he found it too troublesome to look for fresh conquets far from our garden, the safe feeding-place. So he persuaded his females to come to him. Whereas formerly he would be absent for days and I sometimes worried about him, he now disappeared only for hours. But the elusive females did not always surrender easily; there were sometimes wild struggles. Or maybe the husbands did battle for their wives. Very often he returned home covered with scratches and wounds. Once his lower lip was split and once again there was a front tooth lacking. But in spite of these wounds he did not mend his ways, but continued philandering. But Gräulich, his wife, always remained with us, apparently indifferent to her husband's infidelities. This went on for some time, but then came the tragedy.

The dry period set in. The wild cats found neither enough food nor enough water in our neighborhood. They did not dare enter our garden in the day time. Some of them tried at night, but Gräulinisi was a good guardian; she would not tolerate other cats in her Friedo paradise. More particularly the concubines of her wicked husband! And thus the cats had no choice but to emigrate. Back again into the territory of the pampas, where food was abundant. But there were the kittens. They could not take them along. So they left them behind, as the impetus of self-preservation is stronger that all else, and so saved their own lives. The kittens certainly mewed themselves hoarse for the suckling mother, before they dared to go thieving at their own risk. Unfortunately, their instinct led them to Friedo—unfortunately! They perished. Our cats kept their territory and none other could make a claim. Generally, they came at night. But Möhrchen and Gräuli were too good guardians. They lay in wait for the kittens. They attacked them from behind and bit their necks so cruelly that they died. Often I heard a cry and flew to their rescue, but I was always too late. I could have cried when I saw the small twitching body. As soon as the evil-does heard me coming, they fled. Within a short time they had killed eight kittens.

As the dry period lengthened the kittens came in the day time. They sneaked round the house, shy and hungry. Our cats slept by day. I devised means and ways of saving the hungry animals and at a certain spot I kept some food ready. But our cats soon found out that their rights of possession were in jeopardy. They themselves sneaked to the feeding-place and emptied the plate. I then tried to throw food to any cat strolling around. Sometimes I succeeded, but sometimes I frightened away the alarmed animal by the movement of throwing. One evening I saw a small grey kitten near the poultry yard. Ther ewas such a woeful, imploring expression in the small face that tears came into my eyes. I must save this one, I thought. I went back into the house to fetch a piece of dried meat which I had soaked for the hens, and returned cautiously. The small kitten cowered down in the deepest bush. I softly called: “Mietzi.” It did not move but only riveted its eyes upon me. I was glad that it did not run away. I wanted to accustom it to my voice and again I called “Mietzi.” At last I threw it a piece of meat. It jumped immediately to catch it. It was certainly very hungry. I was so sorry for it that I fetched some more meat. When I returned, I saw Gräulich riveting her eyes upon me. She did not feel sure of things, slowly slinking forward. I was afraid for my little new friend. I quickly went back to into the house and baited Gräulich to come with me. She followed me. I was certain that the wild kitten would not go thieving this night, because its hunger was appeased.

When I was feeding the hens in the morning, I called: “Mietzi.” And in fact I saw the small expressive head peeping out of the bush. I threw something to it so that it might come nearer and it did so. I spread the food for the hens on stones, in such a manner that the kitten might see it. Then I went away, as I had urgent tasks to do in the garden. After filling two buckets with weeds, I went to the poultry yard to give the green stuff to the hens. And whom did I discover there? My kitten. It had eaten from the same bowl as the fowls, and now that its hunger was appeased it was lying on a stone in the sun. When it saw me, it ran away immediately. This was on October 29, 1933. This day is one of the most happy ones in my lonely life. I had saved the life of a living creature. It surprised me that the hens tolerated the cat in their territory, because as a rule hens are very jealous. Our cats did not dare to approach the hens. They carefully avoided them, even as I had so carefully trained them. Whilst they were kittens they would run after the chickens. So I brought them to the hen. It was Dora, the boldest of them. She rushed upon the cats and I had great difficulty in preventing an accident. Dora would have pecked the cats to death. For the cats it was a good lesson, and from that time they always kept out of the hens' way.

When the hens were running free in the afternoon, the cats would sneak along, and anxiously spit when a hen came near them. But with my wild kitten things were quite different. She found some friends among the hens. I had a black hen which was quite different from the others. She was a solitary. The kitten and the hen had a mutual sympathy. At first I could hardly believe my eyes, when I discovered that at night the hen took the kitten under her wing. Was that possible? Indeed it was so. My wild cat always slept with the hens, even when she grew older. In time it got accustomed to me also, it did not run away when I brought the hens' food, but waited for me because it knew that I would throw it a good tit-bit. Later on it became more audacious. It met me half-way. First I would look around cautiously to see whether or not there were any of my cats near.

Sometimes Gräulich would be on the watch. When she saw the strange cat she rushed upon her. I could hardly control her by my calls. The wild cat always ran into the poultry yard as sanctuary. There was always a great clamour on such an occasion. When the wild cat could not escape quickly enough, she had to give battle to the attacker. Then they would spit and snarl at each other. This was terrible. When I heard these ominous sounds, I ran for help. I had only to divert the attention of my own cats and the wild cat would rush away to find a safe shelter in the poultry yard. Frederick was always a little angry when I dropped everything to fly to the rescue of the wild cat. But I could not help doing this and I would not do otherwise. Perhaps my conception of religion may be found in my attitude to animals. I would get up at night when I heard these cries of distress. I called my cats and they obeyed me, though I had not trained them to do so specially. I lived very intimately with my animals.

We talked together and I believe that we understood each other. Though the kitten had become very familiar and came up to me immediately when I called, it was not very fond of my caresses. So much the better. I did not wish it to become too attached, when it would perhaps run after me into the house where it might have been killed by another cat. The kitten was, however, inclined to coax and caress the black hen, who though still tender and affording him the protection of her wing, did no respond. And the cat, in affection, sould for another friendship and chummed up with my donkey Fleck. It was really charming to see how both understood each other and got along so well. It seems that a donkey's mouth is very smooth and tender when passing over a cat's skin. For the cat prured contentedly with this movement and would lift his head in order to share in the caress.

And all thse pleasures which my animals brought me have been left behind me. And I long to go back again to live in this community of dumb creation which was so much closer to me than the community of human beings.

Chapter XIV: Shadows Before

I do not know why it is that certain events cast ominous shadows far before, that long before they come about the mind has sensed them and become depressed. So it was with me before the very possessive Wittmer-Family came. I could not account for the strange gloom that all at once fell over me, for the weather was perfect, the garden growing well, and Frederick and I were at peace. I sometimes wondered whether the dark presentiment boded ill to Frederick, and looked at him in concern as though to read in his face a sign of what it was that worried me so. But Frederick in those days seemed well and even tranquil, and this was reassurance in itself. And yet—something within me refused to be quieted. With an effort of will, however, I put these imaginings behind me, and determined to take what might come bravely, {and not to}/not} meet catastrophe halfway.

One morning very early, we were out on our veranda, enjoying the view across the ocean through our newly cut clearing before Frederick went indoors to work at his philosophy and I went out to look after my garden. Far out to sea we saw a schooner which seemed to be approaching Black Beach, though from that distance we could not be sure. The wind was not favouring its progress, and we could see that the swift Antarctic current was forcing it away. With difficulty, however, it held its course, and we waited and watched it coming slowly nearer. Our whole morning's work was behind us and we had finished our midday meal of egg-nog and bananas when the schooner finally put in safely at our small bay. We discerned a small row-boat which the ship had in tow, and watched this now detach itself and set off, apparently for shore. But to our surprise, hardly had it left than it returned to the ship. Then it put out again. We watched it curiously while it made three of these odd journeys. Frederick said that it was unloading supplies, but as we were too far away to recognize the schooner, we could not tell whether the cargo being landed was for us or not.

Then we suddenly remembered that the crew of another ship, the Esperanza, which had touched at Floreana three weeks before, had told us that a German family and I could have forgotten this shows how little interest we took in the prospect of permanent neighbours. {Since we/We} had by now seen so many come and go

, I think we had begun to think

that I think we had begun to believe

that nobody but ourselves could stand the island for very long.

{But now/Now} I remembered with a certain pleasure that the prospective newcomers were a married couple. I thought that it would be a pleasant change to have a woman to talk to, and though we might never become great friends (somehow I never became great friends with a woman), still I looked forward to her and hoped that we should manage to agree.

{As the/The} little rowing-boat made its busy trips to and from Black Beach, and finally returned and was tied up again to the schooner, {/and} we knew that the new settlers must have landed. Frederick went down towards the beach to meet them, thinking that they might need {a little/} help. We looked upon ourselves as the hosts of Floreana, and were ready to help whoever came there, gladly placing our knowledge of the island at their disposal. I did not go back to my work, knowing that it could not be very long before the newcomers arrived. Indeed, they came much sooner than even I expected. Frederick had met them already a good way up the path from Black Beach. He emerged from the thickets, and I went forward, expecting to greet my future woman friend. She had not come. With Frederick were the padrone of Chatham Island and a man whose appearance struck me as odd to the point of eccentricity. He was a person of middle age, bald and bespectacled. His rather gaunt legs stuck out of a pair of {shorts very brief indeed,/very brief shorts;} his bare feet were protected from the thorny undergrowth by nothing more appropriate than a pair of felt bedroom slippers. The charm of his appearance was not enhanced by a several days' growth of stubble on his face. And the finishing touch was a large and clumsy canvas bag which he had bound to his shoulders like a haversack. I confess that I was sadly disappointed at this first meeting with our neighbour Wittmer, and immediately gave up hope of finding his wife a person with whom a friendship would be possible, though I am also willing to admit that to judge a wife by her husband is premature and unjust. Frederick and I behaved as hospitably as we could to this curiously attired person, but it could not be helped if we showed him somewhat clearly that his get-up had not won our sympathy. He was not stupid, and so soon took his leave.

The Indios, who had accompanied him and the padrone, returned to the ship and Herr Wittmer went down with them to the beach. After a while he returned with his family, and presented a far more agreeable appearance, for he had changed his absurd costume, and came back dressed like a sane human being. He had even shaved. Seeing our astonished looks, he told us that he had really been at great pains to compose a costume that might be likely to appeal to the kind of people he imagined us to be from various newspaper reports he had read. He had calculated that since we were to be close neighbours, it would be wise for him to make a good impression on us in the beginning, so that we might be well disposed towards him and his family. We listened with patience to this explanation, which I report in such detail because it throws a certain light upon these people's character and attitude. Neither the explanation nor the reason for it improved our opinion of Herr Wittmer, though as time went on other things about him did improve it considerably.

His wife, however, impressed me very pleasantly. She looked much younger than she actually was, and had especially attractive eyes. I thought her very touching in her obviously enceinte condition, and wondered what on earth had made her come to such a wild place for a confinement. When I considered the immense and arduous effort which even the simplest housekeeping on this island must entail, I did not know whether to think her a heroine, a victim, or an idiot. At any rate, I hoped that her husband would be as considerate of her as possible. I found myself, strangely enough, full of concern for this woman whom I had known but half an hour, and there was something very pleasant in the feeling. I think I must have been lonelier on Floreana than I guessed, or would have dared acknowledge, even to myself. The Wittmers had come there attracted by the newspaper accounts of us. They too had had reasons—very different from our own—which made it seem desirable to leave the civilized world for four years, they said. They did not tell us why four years, neither did we ask.

It did not take us long to learn that what had influenced their choice of a retreat was not alone Floreana's romantic appeal; the fact that Frederick was a physician, and they would be needing one soon, had been perhaps the chief factor in their decision. They made no secret of this, but Frederick was anything but pleased. He thought it both inconsiderate and impertinent of these utter strangers to saddle us with the moral responsibility for their having come so far, and then to bank so casually upon the conscience of a medical man, and place him in a position where he could not refuse his services. As all these things came out, we were highly resentful of the Wittmers, and would gladly have put them on the next boat bound for Guayaquil. But they had obviously come to stay, and so there was nothing for it but to put as good a face upon the unavoidable situation as possible. They had brought Herr Wittmer's son with them, a lad of thirteen. I thought it a most extraordinary thing for a father to have done, to bring a young boy to a desert island. This circumstance seemed to me by far the strangest in the whole affair, and as time went on I understood it even less.

The Wittmers spent their first night in a tent down at Black Beach, and the following day Frederick showed them the caves at the oasis. We gave them everything we thought would help them to start their lives most favourably on the island, both good advice and many plants and seeds. They seemed to appreciate our good intentions towards them, and Herr Wittmer set to work with extreme energy, wanting to do everything at once. The severest strain put upon my hospitality was when I had to lend them our Burro for their transport. I could not forget that the predecessors of these people had been the authors of all his woes until we found him, and I had often vowed a vow that he should never under any circumstances fall into other hands than ours, as long as he lived. It was therefore with sad reluctance that I lent him, and the way he raced back home that night after his hated journey to the caves of evil memory told an eloquent tale.

The Wittmers did not trouble us as I had feared they might. When the evening came, and the night, one might have forgotten that there was anyone on Floreana but Frederick and me. The momentary pleasure I felt in the presence of another woman on the island did not last. My feeling had nothing to do with our neighbours personally, but when the unwanted animation of neighbourliness once subsided, the strange depression which had weighed upon me just before their arrival returned. It overwhelmed me now so powerfully that I knew they had been in some way connected with it, even when I had not known of their actual existence. I cannot explain this{, but it is so/thing, but it was true}.

I did not think the Wittmers would stay on Floreana so long as they thought they would. In fact their five young predecessors had seemed more permanent than they. And yet I had never experienced, in connection with those others, a feeling similar to the one which came over me whenever I remembered the Wittmers, and that was almost every moment of the day. I felt that they would never belong, as we did, to Floreana. The reasons for their coming were all wrong. Nor did I have the feeling that these two people belonged together so profoundly that they were independent of their fellows, and needed no one but each other. It seemed quite likely that they might soon depart or even separate, and yet something far down within me spoke a warning. It was as though I heard a voice telling me that through these people, directly or indirectly, some harm would come to us and Friedo. It was as though they would in some way force us off the island. But why and how, I could not even guess. If it was a warning, it had come too late, and we could only abide our destiny.

We had been three years on Floreana, with its volcanoes that suggested violent upheavals of nature and strange doings on earth and in the skies, but nothing of this kind had happened. The climate was so temperate and the seasons changed so evenly that not even the high flood-tides of spring interrupted the general calm. Even the stormwinds and the rains were mild, and if in past ages this island had been the scene of furious outbursts of elemental rage, it must have long since subsided into the tranquillity in which we found it. And yet the sight of the volcanoes and the imaginings their extinct craters awoke in the mind somehow belied the outward peace and made one feel a little unsure. One felt on Floreana that one trod upon an unaccountable earth, which might some day rebel and turn against one.

One evening—it was the 18th of September, I recall—I watched the sun go down recall—I watched the sun go down into the still ocean and waited, as I often did, for the swift fall of night. It had been a clear, blue day. When the sunset was especially splendid, I often used to call to Frederick to come and watch it with me, and I did so on this day. We stood together contemplating, with a fascination that never diminished, the play of light and colour over the sea. The spectacle was always very short, and when the darkness fell we would go indoors, and read or write and talk together. But we always waited until the very end before we turned our backs upon the wide Pacific seascape.

On this spring evening, darkness did not come. The sun was gone, but all the sky was lit with an extraordinary reddish-yellow glow. The source of the unaccountable radiance seemed to be in the direction of Narborough Island, which lay behind Isabella and was not visible from Floreana. Against the ever-deepening sky, the reflection of great flames upon a densely swarming mass of cloud changed almost every moment, passing through a range of colour such as we had never seen before. What was most strange, {was that/the} glow moved from north to south, so that deep shadows succeeded outbursts of rich fire. Gradually the yellow cloudbank seemed to spread over the whole sky, and a weird light enveloped everything. With that, the entire world of land and sea and sky with which we had grown so familiar suddenly turned into something terrifying and unnatural. We felt as primitive man must have felt, beholding for the first time the sun in full eclipse at noon. One island had burst into eruption—at any moment ours might follow. The strange light now possessed the world. We looked across at Isabella, expecting that another burst of flame and rush of saffron vapours would bring the approaching catastrophe a stage nearer to ourselves. The broad sea lay as calm as ever between us and it, but soon its floor might heave and burst asunder, and turn it to a waste of seething surf. We waited for a tremor of the ground beneath our feet, expecting it at every moment, for we had read that earthquakes usually accompanied eruptions, and we imagined that the wave would pass through all this chain of islands. We thought the sea might rise up and engulf the island, or sweep the nearer edges of it down into the depths.

We had no doubt whatever but that Friedo would be swept away, for it was but a short half-hour from the coast, and we thought of all the dreams and all the labour which would be destroyed with it. It did not once occur to us, however, to save ourselves by moving off towards the center of the island or to the wide pampa, which would surely be the last to be swallowed under. We stayed quite calmly where we were, and though in awe of what might come, we were not frightened, feeling ourselves one with each other, and with the place that we had made. If fate willed that we go down thus in the midst of our experiment, then we were willing and ready to do so, and to bow to a greater wisdom than our own. Except for the day of Frederick's death, I believe that we never felt so bound to one another as at that moment, nor so safely and indivisibly of one mind.

After we had watched and waited almost all night long for what we thought would surely be our end, we lay down to sleep as calmly, as quietly, as on any other night, quite undismayed and undaunted by the thought, almost the conviction, that we should never see another day.

The next morning the sulphurous clouds still overspread the sky towards Narborough, and after sundown the glow came out again. And so it went on for three days. On the 22nd, it seemed to {have abated/abate}, and for the first time I felt that it was possible to draw a breath in clear air again. But all was not yet well.

The sun had lost its shine and had gone pale and sickly-looking. While the eruption had lasted, my depression had given way to a kind of strange calm that had something almost of exhilaration in it. But now this dead sun, hanging over the land, too weak to cast a shadow, filled me with bleakness. All the presentiments of coming evil rushed back upon me overwhelmingly and could no more be banished. There had been no earthquake and, as it turned out, no eruption, either, for we heard later that the great fire had been caused by the combustion of a field of sulphur deep in one of the volcano's craters. We were safe apparently, and Friedo was unharmed. But something told me that nothing would ever be the same again.

Chapter XV: The “Baroness”

Herr Wittmer was not an excitable man, nor was he imaginative. The volcanic eruption had left him quite unmoved. When, therefore, on a bright November afternoon, he came rushing into Friedo in a state of high excitement, we knew that something serious must have happened. His hands were full of mail for us, which he thrust towards us, blurting out an agitated tale about a new batch of settlers who had just arrived. They were on their way to Friedo, he told us, and might be expected to appear at any moment.

We were more interested in what he had brought than in what he said. Every letter had been opened, and looked so much handled that it was clear to see they had been thoroughly read. Some of them lacked envelopes; even my mother's letters to me had been tampered with. Before we could express our indignation at this or even ask how it had happened, Wittmer plunged into a story about a certain Baroness who had come to Floreana with a retinue of men. Two of these were Germans, old acquaintances of ours, and another member of the party was a ship's captain whom we also knew. The lady had a special cavalier, likewise a German, a young man of the name of Lorenz. Wittmer seemed well informed as to the newcomers' plans, and said they had undoubtedly come to stay.

The Baroness, with a detachment of her following, had landed that day at Post Office Bay, and was in temporary possession of the Casa. Immediately on arriving, she had set out for the caves, taking with her letters for the Wittmers and us which had been entrusted to her at Guayaquil. This would account then, I thought, for the state in which ours had arrived, and I decided to send word to Guayaquil immediately, saying that some more reliable courier should be found to bring our post in future. Before we had time to ask for a description of this energetic-sounding person, she had come into sight.

We had seen many people come and go at Friedo, and it had often struck me how the manner of their coming, their appearance, and the way they behaved in the very first moments, were an unfailing index to their characters. So I had come to judge all of our visitors by this initial impression, which I never yet had had to revise. That was one reason why I always liked to be at hand when people first arrived, even though my work might take me away from them a good deal during the rest of their stay.

The Baroness differed from all the others in that she did not come on foot, but riding on a donkey, with her retinue on foot beside her. She was of rather less than medium height, and platinum blond. Her very wide red mouth, with the rather prominent protruding teeth, was her most conspicuous feature. Her eyes were hidden behind dark spectacles. She wore a kind of workman's overall with sandals on her bare feet, and a béret sat jauntily upon her head. It was all obviously composed for effect, but was not without a certain artificial charm. If this was a mere Baroness, she certainly behaved as though she were at least a queen. The most assiduous of her courtiers was the young German Wittmer had referred to. He now carefully helped her to dismount, and without waiting for an invitation pulled over one of our deck chairs and settled her solicitously in it. This done, the Baroness “received” me.

I bade her welcome, though somewhat with the feeling that she regarded Friedo more or less as hers already. I pointedly ignored the hand-kiss she evidently expected, by simply shaking hands with her in the ordinary manner. By the slight shade of annoyance which crossed her face, I realized that a duel between us had begun and that the first point had gone to me. This gave me no satisfaction, for I have never had a taste for the type of conflict this implied, a conflict utterly inappropriate on Floreana. The Baroness' manner said, so clearly as to make the words unnecessary, that she meant to fight us for the conquest of the island. Frederick and I were now bound to Floreana by a thousand ties. We felt it ours, but not in the sense of possession. Now, in a flash, this stranger had descended on it, determined to make it hers and subjugate all that she found there to her rule.

With men her means would be seduction, with women the imposing of a personality more sophisticated and imperious than theirs. One's instinct does not deceive one in such cases, but although I am a despiser of hypocrisy, I did not openly pick up the gauntlet the Baroness had thrown down to me but behaved to her with friendliness, as though I had noticed nothing. At least she was no little bourgeois Hausfrau nor yet a foolish romanticist nor an imitation “seeker of the light.” Whatever hidden elements in her nature would come to light in the course of her sojourn on Floreana, I felt that at last, even as an enemy, as she undoubtedly was destined to become, she was a person worthy of one's steel. But there my feeling deceived me badly, as later experience was to show.

The manner of the Baroness, when she had sufficiently recovered from the fatigues of the ride to take an interest in her surroundings, was somewhat that of a distinguished visitor at the Zulu section of a world's fair. She smiled graciously at all our “cunning contraptions,” at our romantic house and “marvelous” plantation, and expressed herself enchanted by this idyll in the wilderness, which she had read about and found so interesting. Three years of toil and arduous struggle in this same wilderness had made me hard and honest. The assumed ecstasies, the condescensions and the general artificiality of this caller from the Boulevards could neither impress nor intimidate me. It gave me an added assurance to see that Frederick's impression of her was much the same as mine, though I greatly disapproved of his showing so pointedly that the lady did not interest him. He almost turned his back on her, and gave an embarrassingly deaf ear to the gush she addressed to him. On the other hand, he seemed to enjoy renewing his acquaintance with some of the men. He took the male visitors round the place, all except young Lorenz, who for his part paid small attention to anything or anybody but the Baroness.

She kept him on a short string, never allowing him to wander more than a few yards away from her, and always calling him back with the imperiousness of a spoiled child to render her this and that ridiculous small service. It was “Rudi, take off my glasses for me!” “Oh, Rudi darling, there's a stone in my sandal—get it out for me!” “Oh, Rudi, come and show me how this thing works”—and so forth, all the time that she was there. Each time, with apparently undiminished eagerness and pleasure, he obeyed these foolish demands.

But as I looked at him I could not quite rhyme with all this gigolo behaviour some other quality that seemed to be in him. He looked a mere youth, and until he told us his real age, which was thirty, I took him for not more than twenty-one. He was tall and very graceful, with a slender, well-built figure. His complexion had a youthful freshness, and his very bright blue eyes had something so nice and candid in their expression that he inspired a certain sympathy and confidence, despite the touch of obsequiousness in his manner. Towards us he was pleasant and entirely unaffected. He seemed to come of rather simple people, and his speech betrayed an only moderate education. This seemed inconsistent with his rather over-pretty ways, and made me think that the Baroness must have caught him early, drawn to him perhaps by his good looks, and trained him for the drawing-room.

As I have said before, we never sought the confidence of any of our visitors, and never questioned anyone who came to the island to settle, as to the circumstances of their former lives. Most of them had been reticent in this respect. Not so the Baroness. Before she had been an hour at Friedo she had told us the story of her life—at any rate the version of it which she intended us to know. This was by no means unentertaining, and she had a way of talking which was very attractive. Her voice was particularly pleasant, and she had a most musical laugh. The over-developed dramatic instinct which was to cause so much disaster in the future showed itself now in her all too colourful account of the brilliance of her Parisian life. She was not French except by marriage, but came, she told us, of an illustrious Austrian family. It enhanced the charm of her story to hear it told in the light and graceful Austrian German. As we went round the garden, the Baroness was loud in her complaints of the ship's food which they had had to endure on the voyage over, and Lorenz added with a tragic air, “Yes, it was terrible—Madame could eat nothing!” She had lost over a stone in weight! I told her that we did very well on Floreana fare, but she protested that this would be impossible for her, and she would have to import everything from the mainland.

My Burro broke into the conversation with noisy demands for a meal, and I went to fetch his dinner. Lorenz politely accompanied me, and it struck me with what extreme caution he replied to my few very natural questions about the Baroness. It could not escape me, as we returned, that she looked at him in sharp and menacing inquiry, but an almost imperceptible shaking of his head seemed to reassure her. This little scene was played in one short second, but it was eloquent.

Meanwhile the sun had been nearing the horizon, and daylight would not last much longer. The party could not hope to return to Post Office Bay before dark, and at night the way was dangerous and by no means to be attempted by newcomers. We therefore offered the party our hospitality for the night and this they gladly accepted. Our handmade mattresses, stuffed with banana leaves, and a blanket or two would solve the sleeping problem for the men, but I was at a loss to know how our primitive dwelling could furnish worthy sleeping accommodation for so fastidious a guest as the lady. We hung a hammock for her, and made it comfortable with a mattress covered with a length of muslin still remaining from the stock I had brought with me from Europe. Our household was not arranged for entertaining on so large a scale, and it took some managing to provide them all with bedding. Fortunately we could place our own at their disposal, for Frederick and I were not going to sleep at all that night. The ship was returning to Guayaquil and some of the party would take back letters for us, so we meant to spend the night writing to our friends and family, and answering the mail we had just received.

Our guests retired very early,

tired like all newcomers, for whom the first days on the island were always

worn out, for like all newcomers, they found the first days on the island

something of a strain. Frederick and I addressed ourselves to our correspondence, glad of the quiet after so much chatter.

{But we/We} had rejoiced too soon. In the small hours of the morning the Baroness began to turn restlessly in her hammock. A slight cough troubled her. It seemed quite unimportant, and we thought it called for no special attention. But I wondered silently whether the devoted Lorenz would be roused by so slight a symptom of his lady's discomfort, and hasten to her side. However, he slept a wholesome sleep, and did not stir.

Very soon the slight cough grew rapidly worse. The Baroness began to bark in a most alarming way. But it was no cough, only an hysterical imitation of one. Through Frederick's practice I had gained some close acquaintance with hysteria, so that when I saw him writing on so imperturbably I knew that he was doing exactly the right thing, and that, inhospitable as it seemed, I too should take no notice. I had remarked earlier in the evening that the Baroness was extremely put out at finding herself displaced as the center of attention, for the men showed the greatest interest in Frederick's conversation, and had eyes and ears for little else—certainly not for the lady's presence. The cause and intention of this present outbreak were clear to see, and we decided to let it rage itself out. But it was not {very/} long before Lorenz awoke and went to her. The five years he had spent with her had trained him thoroughly, and he had neither the strength of will nor the independence to withstand her caprices. We heard them whispering, and were not surprised that the cough suddenly ceased, except

when it seemed expedient to allow it to be heard again from time to time.

for an occasional expedient outbreak.

Just as I was wondering how the comedy would continue, Lorenz came hesitantly to the door of the “cage” and asked, clearly embarrassed at disturbing us at that time of night, whether we could make Madame a cup of tea, because she was absolutely frozen. I said that I was very sorry but this could not be done, for the fire was out and could not easily be lit again in the middle of the night. When this message was conveyed to the pseudo-patient, she gave a most convincing imitation of a person in the worst throes of ague. By this time she had succeeded in waking everybody. It was undoubtedly cold, but coldest of all for Frederick and me in our thin clothes and without a blanket between us. I left my writing and fetched all our sacking as added covering for the Baroness. When she saw that this was all the medical treatment she was going to receive, that the remaining audience was quite too tired to be interested and she had exhausted the moment's possibilities, she went to sleep again and gave us no more trouble. But I could write no more. The performance I had just witnessed and the whole personality of the Baroness showed me with terrifying clearness that trouble had come with her to Floreana, and would not cease while she remained. I had a hope, and even a belief, that the rigours of existence in the wilderness would frighten her away. But no second sight showed me the tragedy that lay in store.

My dark forebodings for our future occupied me till the dawn, and as soon as the sky began to show the first signs of day, I went outside to prepare a warm breakfast for our guests. This was not easy, for there were more of them than my kitchen could possibly cope with. I tried, however, to concoct them an agreeable meal. The others ate with relish everything I set before them, but the Baroness hardly touched a thing, but put my labouriously prepared dishes away from her with an expression of distaste. Immediately after breakfast the whole party set out for Post Office Bay.

{But the/The} departure was not a peaceful scene. One of the men, on leaving, turned to Frederick and said how glad he was to have seen and talked with him again. He had wanted above all things to do this, for, he said, “To come to Floreana without seeing Dr. Ritter would be like going to Rome without seeing the Pope.” This cordiality and admiration seemed to incense the Baroness, and the fury she displayed made me really wonder for the first time, though by no means for the last, whether she bore her title by right, so little trace was there in her behaviour of her having been even moderately well brought up. This doubt so bothered me that I even mentioned it to one of the men. He laughed and answered, “Oh, none of us believe the title's genuine.”

It did not soften my impression of these people to see the way in which they treated their donkey. Its back was very sore, but this did not prevent their saddling it again. In addition to this, they tied a rope around its nose like a muzzle, so that it might not waste time by cropping food along the way. Frederick went with them down to the Bay, and I was left behind alone. I watched the Baroness go away as I had watched Frau Wittmer, sadly convinced that now no woman friend for me would come to Floreana. It was a long and melancholy day, and I waited with impatience for Frederick to return. He came back very grave. He too had felt that no good would come of this new thing. The new arrivals' equipment had proved to him that they expected, and were, in fact, determined, to make a long stay.

We talked about them far more earnestly than we had ever done about our other {neighbours/neighbors}. The advent of these people seemed strangely full of menace, and my own presentiments were confirmed by Frederick's most unusual depression. At Post Office Bay he had met the rest of the Baroness's party, and the encounter had not been reassuring. One was a very young man named Philippson, who seemed to be the temporary husband of the Baroness. The other was an {Ecuadorian/Ecuadorean}, also very young, who had come on contract to the island, having hired himself out to them in Paris in order to get home again. There was something about all this that disturbed us painfully. It was in one way so trivial and theatrical and frivolous, and in another way so sinister. I felt a misgiving, and a revulsion that was close to fear. Frederick, almost to my surprise, this time showed sympathy and understanding for my human weakness, and heartened me. “In any case,” he said, “we can only wait and see.”

Chapter XVI: The Baroness Takes Possession

It was two days later, and we had seen no more of the newcomers. We were pleased at this and hoped that they would remain the most distant of neighbours. On this morning, as I was working in my garden, young Lorenz appeared. He looked very hot and tired. He stopped at the edge of the plantation and called to me, and I left my work to ask him what he wanted. I found that he had with him two cows and a calf and several donkeys, badly overloaded with heavy packing-cases. He was taking them up to the caves, he told me, which was where the Baroness had elected to have her house built. These animals were only part of the livestock she had brought over from the mainland; there was besides a perfect flock of ducks and hens, turkeys, rabbits, and pigeons. The agreeable young man told me all about this while he rested awhile, and refreshed himself and the thirsty animals with water from our spring. He was all apologies for intruding on my time, but he had only lost his way; having come to an impossible stretch of thicket which he could get neither round nor through, he had come over to ask us to put him on the right path. I told him the way to go, and he took leave with many pleasant words of thanks. We had not mentioned the Baroness.

Another few days went by with our peace undisturbed, and then it was Herr Wittmer who burst in on us, in a fury. Since his announcement of the Baroness's arrival we had not seen him, and so had no idea whether the two households had struck up a friendship or not. He had seemed so agreeably excited at the others' coming that I expected them to form a close alliance. Therefore it had not surprised me when Lorenz said that the oasis at the caves was to be the site of the Baroness's future residence.

To judge by Wittmer's present mood, the mutual friendliness had suffered a slight hitch. Indeed, the poor man was brimful of indignation, for the Baroness's henchmen had calmly come and pitched a tent close up against his spring. If they had asked permission, it might have been granted them, at least for the time being, until they found a suitable place to settle, but the brazen insolence with which they had camped on Wittmer's claim enraged the man. True, no one acquired land on Floreana by purchase, sale being contrary to the practice of the {Ecuadorian/Ecuadorean} government, but it was understood that the spot where one settled and cleared the jungle was one's own, an assumption which had always been respected, even before our time upon the island. This is indeed the immemorial custom with all new land. But laws, written or unwritten, meant nothing to the Baroness. She had not attended the pitching of the tent, but had sent Lorenz and the Ecuadorean, whose name was Felipe Valdivieso. Wittmer spoke with greater contempt of Lorenz than of the other, whom he seemed to regard more as the hired man of the party, whereas Lorenz and Philippson were both undoubtedly, so he assured us, the woman's lovers.

He had ordered them to remove themselves from his property and find another spring to settle near, but Lorenz had merely laughed and referred him to the Baroness. For reasons of his own which we did not inquire into, Wittmer had not accepted this challenge, but decided it would be much wiser to do nothing. He did not for a moment believe that Floreana would harbour these people long. He regarded the whole excursion as the whim of a spoiled and foolish woman, which would soon pass, and then we should be rid of them.

He told us that, besides the farmyard, they were transporting no less than seventy hundredweight of cement to the caves, which certainly indicated an intention to build a solid house, but even this Wittmer made light of, never believing the house would be built. He even had plans for using the cement when they had gone and left it behind. He had long envied Frederick's clever irrigation system, where the water ran through clay channels, and wanted to copy it himself. Frederick and I by no means shared Wittmer's optimism, but we said little at the time. I remarked that I was very sorry for the unfortunate animals and fowls the woman had brought with her, for it would be practically an impossibility to bring them through the long dry season, then about due. In a drought it was even difficult for me to keep one donkey and a few fowls adequately fed, and then I could do so only by drawing on stores laid up especially against emergency. Wittmer asked us if he could count on our support as older settlers on Floreana, in case the Baroness should take too high a hand upon the island, but we, though assuring him of our neighbourly sentiments towards him, said that we would on no account allow ourselves to be drawn into any dispute or conflict whatsoever. We made it clear to him that we had come to Floreana to escape those very things and that the only “right” we would put up any fight for would be that of our own seclusion. I felt that Wittmer was somewhat disappointed at this, for he left immediately. If he had any further difficulties with the usurpers, he did not trouble us with them. At any rate, not for some time.

As the dry season reached its height and the water of the spring receded, our plantation claimed constant labour and attention. The fertility of the soil had not maintained itself into a third year, and all our fruit and vegetables were coming up either very poorly or not at all. We had to start over again with the toilsome carting of good ground from far away. Once transported, it had to be sifted and fertilized. This meant much gathering of leaves, which we then allowed to molder, and Frederick had to take his wheelbarrow every day to gather cattle-dung from the watering-place outside our boundary. The garden at Friedo could never be left to take care of itself, especially in a season like this. We had to be so economical with the water that we could use it only for the plants that were hardest to raise. These we watered daily with a hand-pail. With all the other work, this was almost more than I could manage, and Frederick very often helped me, putting his own work aside to be done later. This might seem a trivial and obvious service for Frederick to render me, but in reality it meant a great sacrifice, for it must not be forgotten that his own share of our common toil occupied him almost all day, and whatever extra time he gave to helping me he had to steal from his studies and his writing.

So long as it was not thrust upon him, Frederick simply remained oblivious to the Baroness's presence on the island. But I did not. I could not rid myself of the feeling that our struggle for existence, a struggle which we had for the most part won in fair, if arduous, fight against the harshness of the island, was now about to become a battle of another kind. For even if she were to remain but one short year—that had been Wittmer's guess—I knew that she was certainly not the type of person who would ever let herself be either forgotten or overlooked. She loomed enormously over the place, and in whatever direction one's thoughts roamed, they fetched up, somehow or other, at the newest settlement and its domineering spirit.

One night we were aroused from sleep by voices calling loudly. We got out of our beds in some alarm, and lit the lamp, for there was no moon to show us who our nocturnal visitors were, and we did not recognize their voices. Two Indios stood outside, courteously refraining from entering our unwalled house unless we should invite them. I recognized them at once as employees of one Christian Stampa, a Norwegian fisherman of Santa Cruz. Their master was a good acquaintance of ours, an amiable and obliging man, who often came to Floreana on hunting expeditions. He never left without calling on us to ask if there was anything he could do for us, and inquire how we and Friedo were flourishing. We knew enough of superstitious Indios to guess that only something very disturbing and unusual could have induced these two men to go anywhere upon the island after dark. Hugo was not the only one who had known the place was haunted; this was the firm belief of all the Indios up and down the coast of Ecuador. It was difficult to get them to go ten steps inland on our island after dark, even with a white man to protect them, and as for making the whole trip to Friedo by themselves, this was something altogether unheard of.

Wherever they had come from, they must have made for us as though fiends were after them, for they were still so breathless that they could hardly speak. We asked them in, and made them sit down and tell us what the matter was. Instead, they instantly began to bombard us with the wildest questions, helter-skelter, hardly waiting for an answer. Needless to say, the questions all concerned the Baroness and her men. But we could give them little information. At last we got the story out of them. Stampa had arrived in Post Office Bay that evening, intending, as usual, to spend the whole of the day on the pampa. To their surprise, the party found strangers gathered on the beach, a woman with three men, and before Stampa and his friend knew what was happening these people had called out and forbidden them to land. They paid no attention, but beached the boat and stepped ashore. The woman then detached herself from the group and came over to them. She asked them what they wanted, and how they dared to land when she had forbidden it. Stampa, who had had experience with some of the other ephemeral settlers on Floreana, thought that this was one like the rest, only a little madder. He answered politely that he was in the habit of coming over now and then for a day's hunting of the wild cattle on the pampa. At this the woman burst into a terrific fury and commanded Stampa and his men to return instantly to their ship.

Stampa {had/} laughed, and this sent the lady into a paroxysm of rage such as the Indios had never beheld in all their lives. With violent and dramatic gestures she yelled at them that the island was now hers with everything upon it. This seemed to interest their master, the Indios told us, and he asked whether we were still at Friedo, and what had become of the other couple at the caves. The mistress of Floreana informed him that we were still there, since she had given us permission to remain, at least for the time being. She had also so far tolerated the Wittmers. She did not mind the people who were there already, but had no intention of allowing anybody else to come, except with her express permission. Stampa did not quite know what to think of all this, and was moreover much annoyed to find this stranger quartered with her men at the Casa, where the hunting party was in the habit of spending the night before their expeditions. But the woman behaved so wildly, the Indios reported, that their master thought it best not to argue with her further, and so went back to the ship to sleep. The Indios were frightened and wanted to go back with him and his friend, but he sent them up to Friedo to find out from us what it all meant. The Baroness and her men tried to prevent this too, but the Indios got away and, in spite of their terror, arrived safely with their message. There was not much left of the night, but we gladly put them up, and they gratefully accepted our hospitality.

Frederick was inclined to make light of the matter, but I was horrified. As I have said before, we neither felt that we possessed the island or any part of it, nor did we desire to do so. We had been happy in the thought that property, in the ordinary sense, was no element at all in this better life which we had found, and if anyone had asked us whether we felt that Friedo was “ours,” we would certainly have answered both “yes” and “no.” Now, however, as we heard that we were there only by the grace of a person suddenly appeared from nowhere, who had neither bought the island nor established claim to any spot upon it by virtue of decent, honest work, I was filled with indignation. I knew that it would be contrary to Frederick's principles actively to defend even Friedo against encroachment, but that night I became conscious for the first time of the meaning of patriotism, and would have held our place to the death against invaders.

Early next morning I gave the Indios {some/} breakfast, and they set off for the pampa/pampa}. They had instructions to wait for Stampa and his friend at the fork of the path, one branch of which led to Friedo and the other to the caves and the pampa plain. The night's rest and our reassurances seemed to have cured them of their fear of the wild strangers, and they went off quite cheerily. But I watched them go with gravest apprehension, which Frederick did not share. I told him I believed that he was being unduly optimistic, for the Baroness was revealing herself as a person whose love of sensation would stop at nothing. Frederick answered that she was undoubtedly a far-gone case of hysteria, and I wondered whether he was not a little more alarmed than he admitted, especially when the late afternoon came without the customary visit from the hunters. We waited supper until late, but still they did not come. We told each other that very likely they had hunted longer than usual, and then had had so much to do getting the carcasses down to the shore that there was no time left to call at Friedo. But neither of us believed that this was really so.

Next morning we were awakened by frantic shouts. We strained our ears to catch the direction from which they came and found, to our surprise, that this was not from the path, but from the pathless south side of the garden. Something was certainly very wrong. We threw on some clothes and ran outside. To my speechless horror I saw Stampa reeling and staggering towards the house. His clothes were torn to ribbons, there was not a vestige of sleeve left in his shirt, and his arms were scratched and bleeding. By the deep, bleeding gashes in his hands I knew he must have fallen often on the sharp lava stones. Innumerable scratches crisscrossed on his back. His face was set like iron, and white and drawn as though from superhuman exertion; his breath came in sobbing gasps. He was completely at the end of his strength, and literally fell into our arms. We helped him in, and while Frederick was attending to his many injuries, I brewed him some hot tea. When he had regained his breath, and had rested and refreshed himself a little, he told us the following tale.

They had shot two calves at the pampa's edge close to the caves, and this small bag sufficed them. They skinned them on the spot, and leaving the hides behind, the Indios got the carcasses down to Post Office Bay in good order, and were about to put them into the rowing-boat, when the woman of the night before appeared upon the scene. With her were an Ecuadorean and a man who seemed to be her husband. They all had guns. They demanded to know where Stampa had shot the calves, and insisted upon being shown the hides. He said that they were free to go and look at them themselves, if it interested them, but that it was none of their business. Before the two Norwegians knew what was happening, the Baroness and her companions had seized the Indios' guns. She then said that they could either show the hides or pay for shooting cattle which belonged to her. She had brought so-and-so many head over from the mainland and they were up near the caves.

If Stampa and his friends had been amused the night before, the repetition of the comedy distinctly palled upon them. Moreover, they began to think that these people were really mad, and might be dangerous. Stampa told them, he said, that they could go to hell, and bade the Indios continue with their work. The next thing he knew was that the Baroness had trained her rifle on him, whereupon he thought it best to humor her, and said that he would go and fetch the skins. It was his intention to do no such thing but to come to Friedo and consult with us as to the most advisable method of procedure. But he had not reached the first lava field before he saw the Ecuadorean sneaking up behind him at a distance with his rifle. It was by no means a pleasant situation for Stampa, who regretted a thousand times having put his own gun in the boat before the performance with the Baroness began, so that he was now unarmed. Fortunately, the time of day was in his favour, for the rapid dusk had fallen and it would soon be too dark for the Ecuadorean to shoot to any purpose. By keeping carefully to the edge of the lava field where the bush was very dense, Stampa, who knew the island well, managed to seize an opportunity to slip into the thicket and evade his pursuer.

It had taken him all night to get to Friedo. We asked him why he did not wait till daybreak, instead of risking that murderous way alone and in the dark, and he answered that there was no knowing but that this woman had a perfect army on the island, planted at various points, and he had therefore preferred to avoid all the paths. He had lost his bearings and had only reached his destination by a miracle, he said.

This story shattered even Frederick's calm, and as for me, I could hardly grasp it. Sadness and revulsion overwhelmed me, and sorry though I was for poor Stampa, I wished that he would go. I felt that at that moment I could not bear the sight of any stranger's face at Friedo. Frederick suggested that Stampa should return without delay, because his friend would be in great anxiety on his account. But he so flatly refused to go another step unarmed and alone that it was plain to us he had not exaggerated his account of what had happened, for we knew him as a man of considerable courage, by no means easily intimidated. He would certainly have taken up the issue with any normal adversary, but he was firmly convinced that the people at the Bay were a party of homicidal maniacs, more in Frederick's line, he said, than his, as doctors no doubt knew how such folk could be dealt with. Frederick was quite willing to go along with him—I think I never knew so fear—less a man as Frederick Ritter—and they went off, taking our two guns which, though only light caliber, were better than nothing. Frederick also took a first-aid outfit, since there was no knowing what might have happened to Stampa's companions in the meantime.

Frederick by no means thought the Baroness was mad. He was angry at having his quietude disturbed by her theatricals, and expressed the opinion that if she had a single proper man with her, instead of a lot of servile gigolos, she could be kept in order without trouble. I too did not think that she was mad, but that she was a violent and treacherous person, who would end by doing us all great harm.

Frederick and Stampa were just about to set out when the latter's friend arrived, unharmed and bearing reassuring news. The Baroness's men had been up at the caves and found her own calves alive and well, whereat she graciously agreed to make no further trouble for the huntsmen. But Stampa had had enough. Knowing that there was now no danger for the other man, he asked him to go back and bring the ship round to Black Beach. There was no landing-place there, however, so his friend said that he would pass by the Wittmers' and borrow the skiff which Wittmer kept down at Black Beach. Herr Wittmer came to Friedo to fetch Stampa and they went together to the beach. When they were gone, I scanned the ocean anxiously for a sight of the Norwegians' boat coming round to the beach.

Frederick and I had a piece of heavy work to do that afternoon; we had to move a boulder of more than usual size. But my attention was only half on what I was doing, and I became more and more alarmed as no sign of either Wittmer's or the fishermen's ship appeared. Was there some fresh trouble? After a long time I saw the gleam of paddles far out to sea, making slow headway against the current, and at last Wittmer landed at the beach. He came back by way of Friedo, and told us that he had had to go all the way to Post Office Bay instead of meeting Stampa's ship on the way because there was no breeze. Down at the Bay he had talked to the Baroness, who had not mentioned a single word about the whole affair. He had with him the Guayaquil newspaper. Its front page carried a sensational interview with the Baroness, filled with all manner of alluring details about herself and her plans, the whole topped with enormous headlines. By the way Wittmer delivered it to us, we could see that he had been commissioned by her to do so, and to see that nothing of the story escaped us. If I had seen an article like this while I was still in Europe, I should not have remembered it longer than a day, but I think that I shall never forget that account of the extravagant and fan tastic woman's dreams and intentions, so tragic and ironical in the light of what they brought her to.

We learned that she was going to build a handsome hotel on Floreana, turning our island into a sort of Miami. American millionaires would be her guests, Ecuadorean trade would prosper by the boom. Towards the Wittmers and all the other people who had come to Floreana, attracted in various ways by the newspaper accounts of Friedo, we had always felt a certain responsibility, however indirect. But in this case we had no such sentiment. We were in fact disgusted at this profit-making plan; the presence of this business-woman and her fellows cast a kind of blight upon our whole idea. My only hope was that the plan would never reach fulfillment, but that its impracticability would frighten the Baroness away before she had time to distort the whole of life on Floreana. I prayed that things might turn out so, for the day the world and its sordidness reached our island would be the day when we must leave it.

Chapter XVII: The Baroness Wins Me Round

Encouraged by Frederick's imperturbability, I too resolved to put the Baroness and her doings out of my mind. Just as I should have defended Friedo from her attack, so I began to muster all my inner forces to barricade my peace of mind against her. But after a short while I had to realize that my defense could not take the form of absolute aloofness. Incidents too slight to tell of here kept recalling her to us, forcing her upon our notice in a hundred ways. The weekly visit from Herr Wittmer was in itself a means—whether she knew it or not—of dangling her perpetually before us. I fought many a losing fight against my interest in this woman, which kept reviving whenever I most sincerely thought that I had killed it. She came to be almost the chief object of my thoughts, and my imagination enlarged her to a figure almost as formidable and sinister as the notorious Watkins, who, like herself, had once claimed ownership of Floreana, enslaving all the men upon the island. I sometimes wondered whether this Baroness was not a kind of reincarnation of that awful man, in league with the inhospitable spirits of the island, and brought there by what mysterious ways I know not, for the purpose of our undoing.

Unasked and undesired, Lorenz became our frequent visitor. The first of these calls he paid not long after their arrival, and remembering what I had noticed on the first day, since when I had not seen the Baroness again, I was greatly astonished that he dared to come alone. We had heard from Wittmer that strange doings were afoot up at the Baroness's. He seemed alternately indignant and contemptuous at the way in which the woman ordered the three men about, and their extreme docility infuriated him. The only one of them who seemed to be showing a certain restiveness was the young man Lorenz, he told us, but since it was with Lorenz that he had had his first brush with the Baroness's party, he was very glad that that young man came off worst.

{Then Lorenz himself came down one day,/The day that Lorenz came he was} all out of sorts, and angry and dejected. He threw himself into one of our deck chairs, and remained quiet for a long time as though relishing the peace and silence. I wondered whether he was ill, but he said that there was nothing the matter with his health. My other questions he answered with a curious distraction, as though his mind was busily engaged with something else. His pleasant, graceful manner was the same as on the first day, but his smile was gone. I did not care to force him to talk, so left him to his very unblissful meditation and went off to make otoy cakes. I remembered that on his first visit he had said he liked them so much. After we had eaten, he thanked me most profusely for this really insignificant kindness, then all at once burst out into a bitter protest against his life upon the island.

He would do anything, he said, if he could only get away, but this was quite impossible. If the Baroness were a slave-driver, she could not be more ruthless and inhuman than she was to him. She was working him to death and treating him worse than an Indio. Her despotism had become absolutely intolerable, and the least hesitation in carrying out her slightest order led to scenes of unimaginable fury. It was not as though she gave one a piece of work to do, and kept one at it until it was finished. On the contrary, no sooner had she thought out one task than another occurred to her, and now this must be done and the first one left lying. Then she would suddenly remember the first one, and fly into a passion because it was not finished. It was wearing his nerves to shreds and he could stand it no longer.

“You don't know what I have to endure,” he said. “I have no great pretensions, but no man with an ounce of decency would put up with what she expects of me. She knows that I'm beginning to rebel, and so she's put that fellow Valdivieso to watch me whenever we work up at the caves. He's terrified of her, and carries on as if I were a convict. He never lets me out of his sight, and he's sharper than a lynx. He bosses me around, so that it's all I can do not to take whatever tool I'm working with and brain him. She's got him doing something else now, and that's how I could slip off, but there'd be all hell loose if she found out where I'd been.”

I thought I had never seen a person so humiliated, and sympathized with his truly abject distress as keenly as I condemned the weakness which placed him in so abominable a situation. I had the impression that this unfortunate young man had never spoken of his woes before to anybody, for now they came out of him almost involuntarily, as though a pent-up flood had at last been given vent. He spoke of Philippson. This man had apparently replaced him for the time being in the Baroness's affections, but still she had no thought of letting him, Lorenz, go. For she had had him too long at her beck and call, and knew that he was still her slave. This lover, Lorenz told us, enjoyed every consideration, and was hardly ever put to work. He might choose his tasks and drop them in the middle if he chose, for the others to finish. If he appeared to work as hard as they, it was only in short spurts, in order that the Baroness might hold him up to Lorenz mockingly, as an example.

“I want to go. I don't care where to—anywhere will do,” he said. “But what is there for me elsewhere? I've not learned any trade and I've no money.” He said this all so plaintively, and looked so young, that one was sorry for him, as though he had been a child. His hands were cut and bruised. They were well-kept hands, and had certainly never known manual work before; altogether one could not associate this boy with rough and primitive existence. I thought of the frightful stretch of ground from Post Office Bay to the caves, remembering what suffering it had been to us, and I was filled with pity for him. The thought of his being put to start a plantation seemed to me positively brutal. I did not press my sympathy upon him with many words, but was glad to see that he felt it.

There could be no doubt that all was not quite open and aboveboard with the Baroness's patent of nobility, nor was her past history without mystery, for, often as Lorenz came down after this first time, he never let himself be drawn into revelations touching these topics. Nevertheless, I felt positively that he knew all about her and could have betrayed her secrets if he had chosen. Whatever was the reason for his discretion, I respected him for it, for one thing was very clear to me, and that was that this woman could sooner have endured to be branded as a criminal than as the fraud she probably was. I thought it very loyal of this young man, who certainly had a justifiable and bitter grievance, that he never, by a look or the vaguest insinuation, gave her away.

But much was to be learned from what he left unsaid, and certain remarks made at different times through inadvertence, when pieced together, made a definite enough story.

What he did tell us during those visits was almost the whole story of their association. I asked him once-making no bones about letting him know I did not for a moment believe she was a Baroness by birth-where she had learned her superficial good manners. He told us that she studied them at movies, which she attended very often. Then, at the night clubs where they went afterwards, she reproduced the roles that had most pleased her. She was an admirable actress, he told us, and it was a thousand pities she had not gone on the stage. The theater would have been her perfect vocation, but he did not tell us why she had not embraced it. I asked what her husband said to all this, and he replied quite simply that that patient man had stood it as long as he could, but at last had had enough of seeing his wife go out every night with a different escort, and, for a consideration, had induced her to agree to a separation. I supposed that Lorenz had been taken up by the Baroness like any other of the innumerable young lounge lizards to be found at the dancing clubs in every European city. But I was mistaken. He had had a business, quite a good one, he told us, one of those typical Parisian bazaars where knickknacks are sold for disproportionate prices. It had been the Baroness's suggestion that they become partners, and he was charmed at the arrangement, being as blindly and hopelessly bewitched by her as many a youth of his age is bewitched by that type of older woman. The Baroness had taken over the bookkeeping, and he discovered after a while that she entered in the ledger only the expenditures, never the income. At first he had tried to get her to keep the shop's accounts in a more orthodox manner, but she had somehow always found means of postponing this reform, and he was far too bound to her to insist. The upshot was the inevitable one, that his business was wrecked and all his money lost.

It was then that the ill-starred publicity about our life on Friedo fell into the Baroness's hands. Immediately she seized upon the plan which we had read of in the Guayaquil newspaper, and painted such a brilliant picture of a future for herself, Lorenz, and Philippson on Floreana, that she fired them with her own enthusiasm, and they fell in with all her proposals. Lorenz himself had had no choice, for she had completely ruined him financially. Not that his shop had been enough to provide her with the unlimited amount of money she required for her pleasures, but the open-handedness of her other lovers was variable, so that she needed his business to fall back upon. He had known quite well that she was ruining him, but had never once had the strength of will or, as he put it, the cruelty, to refuse his signature to a check when she demanded it.

There was real pathos in his remark that until the Baroness came into his life, though he was very young, he had enjoyed a good reputation, and it had really grieved him very much when she deprived him of this{ also/}.

I asked him what he thought of the newspaper article in the Guayaquil daily, and heard to my amazement that he had no idea whatever what it contained, for he knew no word of Spanish. I was still more surprised to learn that the Baroness knew as little as he about its contents, not having shown it to the Ecuadorean, the only one who could have translated it for her. I gave Lorenz the German translation to read, which we had made for our own records, and thought that I had never seen such blank astonishment on anybody's face as on his while he devoured the story line for line.

It {seemed to rouse/roused} him to a fury more intense than I had thought him capable of. He did not burst out in abuse, but his rather weak young face seemed set in stone as he read; he turned white and his hands clasped and unclasped fiercely. This was an aspect of Lorenz which the Baroness herself, I thought, had probably never seen, and I wondered for the first time, but not for the last, whether there might conceivably be a limit beyond which even this captive could not be driven. The Ecuadorean interviewer had a skillful hand. While faithfully reporting, as though verbatim, the fantastic and adventurous projects of the Baroness, he had managed to do so in such a way that, to a reader capable of reading between the lines, the whole thing was a subtly ironic commentary on the lady, giving more than a hint of unexpressed intentions. None of this escaped young Lorenz, and when he had finished he laid the sheets aside, got up without a word, bowed his farewell and left.

The New Year of 1933 brought something most unique to Floreana—its first native. One day Herr Wittmer came rushing into Friedo, all beaming and excited, and told us that his wife had given him a son, and would the doctor have the kindness to come and look at him. I have seldom seen such spontaneous pleasure light up Frederick's face as when this news was brought. It touched me, but caused me a pang as well, for I should dearly have loved to have a child too, Frederick's child. But I knew that, for himself, he deliberately and consistently rejected fatherhood. He hastened off with Wittmer, and I was left behind to fight alone against the wave of envy that overcame me. It was not envy of the happy woman up at the caves, whose joy I sincerely shared, but rather sorrow for all whose joy I sincerely shared, but rather sorrow for all women who were like me, condemned to childlessness. I went round the garden looking for the nicest present I could offer the first Floreanan, and then went about my work. By the time Frederick came home I had come to perfect peace within myself again, and could ask him not only about the baby, but about its mother too, with a true sisterliness unshadowed by a bitter thought. The baby's name was to be Rolf, Frederick told me, and although it and the mother were doing splendidly, his services had by no means been superfluous.

The coming of the baby created an atmosphere almost like Christmas. All differences and quarrels were momentarily lost in a general warmth and good-will, so that when Frederick told me he had met the Baroness as he passed her place, and had had a long and pleasant chat with her, I was quite ready to think her pleasant and agreeable too; and when he pulled out a gift that she had given him for me—flower-seeds, of all things the one I most longed for—I felt like running up to thank her on the spot. So soft and gentle was Frederick these days, that he not only made no objection to my cultivating these flowers, but even praised the basket of banana leaves I made to plant the seeds in, in the absence of pots. If I had suspected the Borgia nature of this gift, I should have burned those seeds rather than see them sprout in Floreana earth. But I suspected nothing, nor did I guess that as each flower came up I was to pay its price a thousandfold in sorrow.

My old resolve to keep relentlessly aloof from the Baroness melted away before this act of kindness, which I felt it would be too churlish to ignore. I therefore fell in readily with Frederick's suggestion that we accept her invitation to call on the following Sunday, when we were to pay our first social visit to the baby Wittmer. I felt that there could be no more appropriate occasion on which to patch up differences with neighbours, and I wanted very much that we should all, from now on, live in harmony and avoid future conflicts. As I said before, there was something about the Baroness that pleased and attracted me, so that I was all the readier to admit the possibility that I might have done her an injustice in thinking so badly of her. Deep down inside me the still, small voice of instinct whispered a warning. But I preferred to ignore it.

We chose the baby's present—a two-year-old date palm, two other palms, vegetables and fruits. For the Baroness we took kitchen herbs, ciruela, and otoy, which is prepared like cabbage, and is delicious. I thought that she would welcome these things for the sake of variety in her cuisine, knowing that she had not yet had time to raise much in her garden.

We were not far from our first destination when we met the Baroness and her three men. They were coming towards us; Lorenz bound for Post Office Bay, the other three for Friedo. Nothing could have been more friendly and delightful than the Baroness's manner towards me, and I think that at that moment I was conscious of a sentiment of honest cordiality for this inexplicable creature, at that moment so youthful, harmless, and naive that it was quite impossible to believe that she and the evil genius of Lorenz were one and the same.

She looked charming in a black-and-white-checked silk frock very cunningly and simply cut, which set off her figure to perfection. She flourished a pig-skin riding stock, and was bareheaded. When we told them that we were on our way to the Wittmers', she, Philippson, and the Ecuadorean turned back with us, while Lorenz went on alone. They said they would go home and await our coming.

I had not seen the Wittmer's ménage, and was enthusiastic over the house they had built. It looked most picturesque with its well-laid thatch of banana leaves and its neat joinery. The talent of the born housewife was certainly Frau Wittmer's in a large measure. Her interior was as immaculate and orderly as that of any German housewife's I had ever seen, and I wondered with a certain amusement whether my Frederick had drawn a German man's comparison. It could not have disturbed him much if he had; perhaps he remembered a remark we often heard from our visitors: “The Wittmers' house is very nice, but at Ritter's you can talk!”

The week-old baby, looking a very promising specimen of new-born human being, lay sleeping peacefully in a pretty cradle which its father had constructed of lemonwood. It was decorated with some skillful carving, and was quite fit for its important occupant. Margret Wittmer, looking young and happy, received us with warmth, but I am afraid she forfeited all my sympathy with her one remark that she was resolved not to nurse the baby but to bring it up by hand, so that she should not lose her girlish figure. This on Floreana!

Inevitably, the central topic of our conversation was the lively Baroness. We had gathered from Wittmer on his weekly visits that there was no love lost between his household and the newcomers, but I was surprised to see how intense their dislike of the Baroness had become, and shuddered to think what open hatred might lead to in a place like this island, if it were allowed to grow. It was then that I decided it was my duty to try and make peace if I could; I offered myself as a mediator. At this the Wittmers felt impelled to unfold the whole story of their grievances, and we were bound to admit that their sentiments were not unnatural in the circumstances.

It must not be forgotten that circumstances in themselves very trivial can assume immense proportions in the wilderness. This is particularly true where tampering with supplies is concerned. Not only did the Ecuadorean merchants see in us islanders excellent objects of exploitation and make us pay excessive prices for everything we ordered, because they knew we had to have the things and could not get them anywhere else, but there was no telling how many weeks or months might elapse between the calls of ships. Frederick and I, on account of our vegetarian regimen and our longer stay upon the island, had made ourselves moderately independent of the continent, and were in a far different position from the others. Still the difficulties connected with obtaining our modest requirements and those of our animals were so considerable that we could not possibly be a source of supply to others. In such an arid place as Floreana, each one must fend for himself.

The Wittmers told us how they had ordered a consignment of rice, which they needed badly. On the day the ship which was to bring this came to the island it was difficult for Heinz Wittmer to get away, and so he gladly accepted the Baroness's offer to receive it and have one of her people bring it up to the caves. It never came. Having miscalculated their stores from the beginning, and not yet having much in their garden, the Wittmers were gravely embarrassed by the absence of this rice, especially as the young expectant mother needed proper food. A day later the Baroness sent the Ecuadorean with a message to say that the differences between them should not be regarded in the face of famine, and offering to sell them rice for their immediate requirements from her own sufficient store. She was sure, she said, that their consignment would soon arrive, and would be glad to help them out until it did. There was nothing for it but to accept, though Wittmer said he did so very much against the grain. Moreover, she asked him a mighty price for it. He did not say how it was that he found out soon afterwards that the rice he had bought was his own. He knew this to be a fact, yet his position, considering the Baroness's bodyguard and the condition of his wife, was too weak for him to deal with this piece of trickery as he should rightfully have done. In view of this incident I realized that the Wittmers would be more reluctant than ever to take the olive branch I tendered, but nevertheless I used all my powers of persuasion—and they were not insignificant—to get their permission to let me try and bring the factions to an outward truce at least. With the ceremony of the planting of the date-palm our visit to the Wittmers ended.

The Baroness had waited luncheon for us. Before we sat down to table she showed us round her garden. Its arrangement was most excellent, and filled me with surprise, for it was quite the sort of thing one sees in illustrated garden books, and certainly bore witness to the unremitting toil of several hands.

In comparison with the garden, the corrugated-iron house struck me from the outside as disappointing. As we went towards it, the Baroness told me that it had been built by the Ecuadorean, who was the only one of the men who understood manual labour. I expected to find the interior far less inviting than Frau Wittmer's, but what was my astonishment when we crossed the threshold. The walls were hung with carpets, which might not have been very costly but were extremely picturesque. There were two broad divans on which one sat by day and slept by night, as wide as double beds, with covers of bright silk, and heaped with cushions. The fireplace was framed in an artistic drapery, which caught the light of the flames in shimmering colours, and would make a comfortable and charming effect at night. There was nothing overdone in this decoration; everything was arranged in admirable taste. The house consisted of this one room with its two couches which served as beds, which told a great deal of the intimacies of the Baroness's household. Lorenz, the Baroness and Phillipson slept together in only one bed. I couldn't believe that. It was such a disgusting idea. At one end a rough door separated the main apartment from a small store-room where the Ecuadorean slept, so we were told.

Particularly noticeable to me was the phonograph, which Lorenz had told us the Baroness was accustomed to playing while they worked. It had often driven him almost insane, he said. My eyes turned often towards it as though it had been a horrid instrument of torture. Our hostess evidently thought this indicated interest of a more agreeable kind, because she put a record on, a dance tune. While it was playing she informed us with much pride that the Ecuadorean had had to divest the Casa of many planks in order to enable her to have a dance floor in her house.

We did not stay long indoors as lunch was served outside. The Baroness was an amiable and expert hostess. It is true that she monopolized the conversation, but this so entertainingly, and with such apparent confidence that her tales were as amusing to her guests as to herself, that one could only take it in good part, as with an animated and precocious child. She had a most attractive way of bragging, and if one had believed her, one must have thought her an absolute phenomenon, for she told us that she was highly trained in arts and crafts, in medicine, painting, gardening, and even teaching. According to her own account she had decided literary talent, which she now and then displayed to great advantage. She addressed her conversation almost entirely to Frederick, though at the same time cleverly including me. For the first time in my rather retiring life, I watched the woman's game played at close quarters, and though I found it somewhat despicable, I could not deny that, well played, it was full of charm.

The table appointments were uncommonly dainty ; the cutlery particularly was very different from our own at Friedo. I noticed that this was stamped with a seven-pointed coronet with the initial under it, and this surprised me greatly, for it indicated the rank of counts, not barons. The Baroness should by rights then have called herself by the higher title of Countess Wagner. Playing, as one does, with my fork, I happened to turn it over, and found to my further surprise the tell-tale trademark “Cristoffel,” the name of a ware rather less good than nickel-plate. These two clues, taken together, cast suspicion upon the Baroness's genuineness, and confirmed me in my certainty that she had no more right to a title than I myself. However, I said nothing, though an imp of meanness chuckled inside me, and I determined that I would draw her out when the next chance offered.

After lunch Philippson and Lorenz showed Frederick round the place and the Baroness devoted herself to me. She was all friendliness, and I was more than ready to meet her halfway. After all, it mattered nothing to me whether she was an impostor or not. Titles or no titles, silver or nickel, real or faked coats-of-arms made very little difference on Floreana, and if it amused this should-have-been actress to turn her life into a comedy, I saw no good reason why she should not do so.

Suddenly, to my embarrassment, the Baroness plunged into the sort of conversation which I had heard about, but never actually experienced before. It did not take me long to discover that this woman was completely sex-mad, and I had as little desire to hear her confidences in this respect as to satisfy her burning curiosity as to my conjugal arrangements with my own man.

“The man isn't born,” she said, “who can resist me, and I'm free to confess that I find variety the spice of life. I don't know how long I'll manage with Philippson alone, and I'm pretty tired of Lorenz; still something else will probably turn up.”

“I suppose you think I'm very Parisian in my point of view,” she went on engagingly, “but I happen to believe in making the most of the things you can do best. Of course in Paris, a lot of men fall for one's title, you know, but if that is what lures them at first, it's something else that keeps them.”

I looked at her during this speech and wondered whether she really thought that it was making the desired impression on me. In the sharp light of the afternoon she looked the forty years and more that Lorenz, in an unguarded moment, had loaded her with. But she was excellently well preserved and could have passed, when made up, for no more than thirty. There was a curious hint of challenge in all this talk, as though she meant to say, “Better look out! Dr. Ritter also is just a man.” But this did not affect me in the least, and I believe the Baroness realized that I was not alarmed, which seemed at once to pique and to amuse her.

When the time came for us to take our leave, I felt that I had had more than my fill of worldliness for one day. On our way back to Friedo, Frederick and I agreed that the visit had been precisely like attending a theater, only the performers had been almost more like marionettes than living actors. The three men were certainly little else than puppets, shoe strings the Baroness manipulated. But whose puppet she was we had not yet discovered.