252 THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
colt, now almost as good a mount as its parent, I set off the same morning, leaving Ernest and his mother to follow later. When I arrived I found that the message had given me but a faint idea of the reality. The sugar-canes were irretrievably lost; they had been trampled down, and the leaves torn off, by some animal that I was sure must have been an elephant. All our trouble in erecting the palisade had been wasted ; the stakes had been torn up, the trees near by deprived of their bark, the bamboos had been treated no better than the sugar-canes, and every young shrub I had planted had been trampled.
Ernest and his mother arrived several hours after, bringing with them the waggon, drawn by the buffalo, the cow, and all necessary utensils for our encampment, which was likely to last a good while.
We immediately began the construction of a solid fortification across the defile, one that would effectually keep out all intruders. And this tiresome work occupied us constantly for more than a month.
When at last it was complete, our next labour was to build some sort of a fort to shelter us whenever we might visit the defile.