THE PIGS AND PETERKIN
Strange peculiarity of the tides—Also of the twilight— Peterkin's remarkable conduct in
embracing a little pig and killing a big sow—Sage remarks on jesting—Also on love.
 IT was quite a relief to us to breathe the pure air and to enjoy the glad sunshine after our long
ramble in the Diamond Cave, as we named it; for although we did not stay more than half-an-hour
away, it seemed to us much longer. While we were dressing, and during our walk home, we did our best
to satisfy the curiosity of poor Peterkin, who seemed to regret, with lively sincerity, his
inability to dive.
There was no help for it, however, so we condoled with him as we best could. Had there been any
great rise or fall in the tide of these seas, we might perhaps have found it possible to take him
down with us at low water; but as the tide never rose as fell more than eighteen inches or two feet,
this was impossible.
This peculiarity of the tide—its slight rise and fall—had not attracted our observation
till some time after our residence on the island. Neither had we observed another curious
circumstance until we had been some time there. This was the fact that the tide rose and fell with
constant regularity, instead of being affected by the changes of the moon as in our own country, and
as it is in most other parts of the world—at least in all those parts with
 which I am acquainted. Every day and every night, at twelve o'clock precisely, the tide is at the
full; and at six o'clock every morning and evening it is ebb. I can speak with much confidence on
this singular circumstance, as we took particular note of it, and never found it to alter. Of
course, I must admit, we had to guess the hour of twelve midnight, and I think we could do this
pretty correctly; but in regard to twelve noon we are quite positive, because we easily found the
highest point that the sun reached in the sky by placing ourselves at a certain spot whence we
observed the sharp summit of a cliff resting against the sky, just where the sun passed.
Jack and I were surprised that we had not noticed this the first few days of our residence here, and
could only account for it by our being so much taken up with the more obvious wonders of our novel
situation. I have since learned, however, that this want of observation is a sad and very common
infirmity of human nature, there being hundreds of persons before whose eyes the most wonderful
things are passing every day, who nevertheless are totally ignorant of them. I therefore have to
record my sympathy with such persons, and to recommend to them a course of conduct which I have now
for a long time myself adopted—namely, the habit of forcing my attention upon all
things that go on around me, and of taking some degree of interest in them, whether I feel it
naturally or not. I suggest this the more earnestly, though humbly, because I have very frequently
come to know that my indifference to a thing has generally been caused by my ignorance in regard to
We had much serious conversation on this subject of the tides; and Jack told us, in his own quiet,
philosophical way, that these tides did great good to the
 world in many ways, particularly in the way of cleansing the shores of the land, and carrying off
the filth that was constantly poured into the sea therefrom; which, Peterkin suggested, was
remarkably tidy of it to do. Poor Peterkin could never let slip an opportunity to joke,
however inopportune it might be: which at first we found rather a disagreeable propensity, as it
often interrupted the flow of very agreeable conversation—and, indeed, I cannot too strongly
record my disapprobation of this tendency in general—but we became so used to it at last that
we found it no interruption whatever; indeed, strange to say, we came to feel that it was a
necessary part of our enjoyment (such is the force of habit), and found the sudden outbursts of
mirth, resulting from his humorous disposition, quite natural and refreshing to us in the midst of
our more serious conversations. But I must not misrepresent Peterkin. We often found, to our
surprise, that he knew many things which we did not; and I also observed that those things which he
learned from experience were never forgotten. From all these things I came at length to understand
that things very opposite and dissimilar in themselves, when united, do make an agreeable whole; as,
for example, we three on this our island, although most unlike in many things, when united, made a
trio so harmonious that I question if there ever met before such an agreeable triumvirate. There
was, indeed, no note of discord whatever in the symphony we played together on that sweet Coral
Island; and I am now persuaded that this was owing to our having been all tuned to the same key,
namely, that of love! Yes, we loved one another with much fervency while we lived on that
island; and, for the matter of that, we love each other still.
And while I am on this subject, or rather the subject
 that just preceded it—namely, the tides—I may here remark on another curious natural
phenomenon. We found that there was little or no twilight in this island. We had a distinct
remembrance of the charming long twilight at home, which some people think the most delightful part
of the day, though for my part I have always preferred sunrise; and when we first landed, we used to
sit down on some rocky point or eminence, at the close of our day's work, to enjoy the evening
breeze; but no sooner had the sun sunk below the horizon than all became suddenly dark. This
rendered it necessary that we should watch the sun when we happened to be out hunting; for to be
suddenly left in the dark while in the woods was very perplexing, as, although the stars shone with
great beauty and brilliancy, they could not pierce through the thick umbrageous boughs that
interlaced above our heads.
But to return: after having told all we could to Peterkin about the Diamond Cave under Spouting
Cliff, as we named the locality, we were wending our way rapidly homewards, when a grunt and a
squeal were borne down by the land breeze to our ears.
"That's the ticket!" was Peterkin's remarkable exclamation, as he started convulsively and levelled
"Hist!" cried Jack; "these are your friends, Peterkin. They must have come over expressly to pay you
a friendly visit, for it is the first time we have seen them on this side the island."
"Come along!" cried Peterkin, hurrying towards the wood, while Jack and I followed, smiling at his
Another grunt and half-a-dozen squeals, much louder than before, came down the valley. At this time
 were just opposite the small vale which lay between the Valley of the Wreck and Spouting Cliff.
"I say, Peterkin," cried Jack in a hoarse whisper.
"Well, what is't?"
"Stay a bit, man. These grunters are just up there on the hillside. If you go and stand with Ralph
in the lee of yon cliff, I'll cut round behind and drive them through the gorge, so that you'll have
a better chance of picking out a good one. Now, mind you pitch into a fat young pig, Peterkin,"
added Jack, as he sprang into the bushes.
"Won't I, just!" said Peterkin, licking his lips, as we took our station beside the cliff. "I feel
quite a tender affection for young pigs in my heart. Perhaps it would be more correct to say in my
"There they come!" cried I, as a terrific yell from Jack sent the whole herd screaming down the
hill. Now Peterkin, being unable to hold back, crept a short way up a very steep, grassy mound, in
order to get a better view of the hogs before they came up; and just as he raised his head above its
summit, two little pigs, which had outrun their companions, rushed over the top with the utmost
precipitation. One of these brushed close past Peterkin's ear; the other, unable to arrest its
headlong flight, went, as Peterkin himself afterwards expressed it, "bash" into his arms with a
sudden squeal, which was caused more by the force of the blow than the will of the animal, and both
of them rolled violently down to the foot of the mound. No sooner was this reached than the little
pig recovered its feet, tossed up its tail, and fled shrieking from the spot. But I slung a large
stone after it, which, being fortunately well aimed, hit it behind the ear, and felled it to the
"Capital, Ralph! that's your sort!" cried Peterkin,
 who, to my surprise, and great relief, had risen to his feet apparently unhurt, though much
dishevelled. He rushed franticly towards the gorge, which the yells of the hogs told us they were
now approaching. I had made up my mind that I would abstain from killing another, as, if Peterkin
should be successful, two were more than sufficient for our wants at the present time. Suddenly they
all burst forth—two or three little round ones in advance, and an enormous old sow with a
drove of hogs at her heels.
"Now, Peterkin," said I, "there's a nice little fat one; just spear it."
But Peterkin did not move; he allowed it to pass unharmed. I looked at him in surprise, and saw that
his lips were compressed and his eyebrows knitted, as if he were about to fight with some awful
"What is it?" I inquired, with some trepidation.
Suddenly he levelled his spear, darted forward, and, with a yell that nearly froze the blood in my
veins, stabbed the old sow to the heart. Nay, so vigorously was it done that the spear went in at
one side and came out at the other!
"O Peterkin," said I, going up to him, "what have you done"?
Done? "I've killed their great-great-grandmother, that's all," said he, looking with a
somewhat awe-struck expression at the transfixed animal.
"Hallo! what's this?" said Jack, as he came up. "Why, Peterkin, you must be fond of a tough chop. If
you mean to eat this old hog, she'll try your jaws, I warrant. What possessed you to stick
"Why, the fact is, I want a pair of shoes."
"What have your shoes to do with the old hog?" said I, smiling.
 "My present shoes have certainly nothing to do with her," replied Peterkin; "nevertheless, she will
have a good deal to do with my future shoes. The fact is, when I saw you floor that pig so neatly,
Ralph, it struck me that there was little use in killing another. Then I remembered all at once that
I had long wanted some leather or tough substance to make shoes of, and this old grandmother seemed
so tough that I just made up my mind to stick her, and you see I've done it!"
"That you certainly have, Peterkin," said Jack, as he was examining the transfixed animal.
We now considered how we were to carry our game home, for, although the distance was short, the hog
was very heavy. At length we hit on the plan of tying its four feet together, and passing the spear
handle between them. Jack took one end on his shoulder, I took the other on mine, and Peterkin
carried the small pig.
Thus we returned in triumph to our bower, laden, as Peterkin remarked, with the glorious spoils of a
noble hunt. As he afterwards spoke in similarly glowing terms in reference to the supper that
followed, there is every reason to believe that we retired that night to our leafy beds in a high
state of satisfaction.
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