174 THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
for the cow, the ass, the sheep, and goats, so that we had to give them our potatoes and sweet acorns. Fortunately we had laid in a sufficient stock of candles, and when darkness obliged us to light up, we sat round the table, where a large taper fixed on a gourd gave us a good light, so that my wife could sew while I wrote up my journal, and the boys amused themselves with the books we had taken from the Captain's chest; these proved a great resource, and taught them many things about the plants and birds they had lately seen.
Our diet was occasionally varied by a chicken, pigeon, or duck, from our poultry-yard, or some of the thrushes we had preserved in butter, and every four or five days we made fresh butter, and this, with honey spread on our manioc cakes, was a pleasant treat.
Our last job for the winter, undertaken at my wife's solicitation, was a machine called a beetle, for the flax, and some carding combs. These I made with some difficulty, but when finished the drying, peeling, and spinning of the flax became a source of pleasure to my wife.