When the stone is first turned over, the fish is
almost out of its home, and the bright colour of the shell is hidden by a
fleshy integument, but a few seconds suffice for it to withdraw within
doors, and then the mottled pattern is seen in its full beauty. The best
way to get the shell without injury to its gloss, is to keep the fish alive
in a bucket of salt water, until you reach home, and then to dig a hole a
couple of feet deep, and bury them. In a month or so, they may be taken
up, and will be found quite clean, free from smell, and as bright in hue as
during life. I have tried boiling them, heaping them in the sun, and
various other methods, but this is undoubtedly the best.
[Illustration - SATIN BOWER-BIRDS]
Should it ever fall to the lot of any of my readers to have to cook
periwinkles - and there are many worse things, when you are certain of
their freshness - let them remember that they should be boiled in 'salt
water'. This is to give them toughness; if fresh water is used, however
expert the operator may be with his pin, he will fail to extract more than
a moiety of the curly delicacy. These little facts, though extraneous to
our subject, are always worth knowing.
At one end of Garden Island, and distant from it about 200 yards, stands a
very singular rock, of a whitish hue, and when struck at a certain angle by
the sun, so much resembling the canvas of a vessel, that it was named the
"Sail Rock." At low tide this could be reached by wading, the water being
little more than knee-deep. Its base was literally covered with oysters of
the finest quality. The mere task of getting there was one of considerable
difficulty, for the rock was as slippery as glass, and whenever you got a
fall - which happened on an average every five minutes - bleeding hands
and jagged knees bore testimony to a couch of growing bivalves being
anything but as soft as a feather bed; also the oysters cling so fast that
they might be taken for component parts of the rock, and only a cold chisel
and mallet will induce them to relinquish their firm embrace. Three or
four of the party had ventured out, and we had secured a large sackful,
after which we all retired to the tent, except one of our number, who,
having a lady-love in Cardwell with an inordinate affection for shell-fish,
lingered to fill a haversack for his 'inamorata'. We were comfortably
smoking our pipes and watching with satisfaction the tide rising higher and
higher, when a faint "coo-eh" from the direction of the rock reached us,
followed by another and another and another, each one more shrill than the
"By Jove, Wordsworth's in some trouble!" exclaimed one of our party, and,
snatching up our carbines, we hurried to the end of the island at which
stood the Sail Rock. The tide had now risen considerably, and the water
between the rock and ourselves was over four feet deep, and increasing in
depth each moment. We saw poor Wordsworth clinging on to the slippery
wall, as high up as the smooth mass afforded hand-hold.
"Come along, old fellow!" we shouted; "it's not up to your neck yet."
"He turned his head over his shoulder - even at the distance we were, its
pallor was quite visible - and slowly and cautiously releasing one hand,
he pointed to the water between himself and the island.
"By Jove!" cried the pilot, "he's bailed up by a shark, look at his
sprit-sail!" and following his finger we saw an enormous black fin sailing
gently to and fro, as regularly and methodically as a veteran sentry paces
the limits of his post.
"Stick tight, old man! we'll bring the boat," and leaving the pilot to
keep up a fusillade at the monster with the carbines, we darted back. I
shall never forget the efforts we made to launch the boat, but she was
immovable, and every moment the tide was rising, the little ripples
expending themselves in bubbly foam against the thirsty sand. We strained,
we tugged, we prised with levers, but unavailingly, the boat seemed as if
she had taken root there and would not budge an inch. A happy thought
struck me all of a sudden, as a reminiscence of a similar case that I had
seen in years gone by came back in full vigour.
"Give me a tomahawk," I said.
One was produced in a minute from under the stern-sheets. Meanwhile I had
got out a couple of the oars.
"Now, Jim, you're the best axeman, off with them here!"
Half a dozen strokes to each, and the blades were severed from the looms.
"Now boys, lay aft and lift her stern."
It was done, and one of the oars placed under as a roller.
"Now, launch together."
"Heave with a will."
"Again so. Keep her going."
"Hurrah!" and a loud cheer broke forth, as, through the medium of the
friendly rollers, the heavy boat trundled into the water.
The pull was long, at least it seemed to us long, for we had to round the
sandy spit before we could head towards the rock, and nearly got on shore
in trying to make too close a shave. We could hear the crack of the
pilot's carbine every few minutes, borne down to us by the freshening
breeze, and the agonising "coo-ehs" of poor Wordsworth, whose ankles were
already hidden by the advancing waters; added to this, we had only two
oars, and the wind, now pretty strong, was dead in our teeth.