Chapter 11 Summary
The father returns to the beach and collects driftwood, thinking it will be perfect to build a "sledge," a sled built on runners rather than wheels and used to transport materials. To help him, he awakens Ernest, whom the father considers prone to laziness. As they walk toward the beach, the father asks Ernest if he feels sorry for himself for having been roused. Ernest acknowledges his laziness but says he has been trying to break himself of it, so he is glad his father awoke him so early. The father commends his self reflection.
While collecting driftwood, the father finds a small chest. At the house, the other boys are excited until they open it; the chest is filled with clothes. The father reminds them that after the clothes they are wearing disintegrate, they will be very pleased to have new pants and tops.
After breakfast, the boys shoot dozens of small birds to consume later in the day. However, their father lectures them on conserving ammunition. Hearing that the gunpowder and shot are in limited supply, Franz suggests that instead of planting seed for food, should they be planting powder and shot.
The older brothers laugh at the young boy's innocence. Their father, who cannot help laughing himself, tells the older boys to explain why they cannot cultivate powder and shot as they do vegetables and fruit. The boys explain that gun powder is derived from a precise mixture of charcoal, sulphur, and saltpeter. Then the father tells the boys that to conserve their powder, they should build snares rather than always relying on guns.
When it is time to return to Tentholm to collect more supplies, the father again chooses Ernest to go with him. They use the new sledge, tying it behind the donkey. At Tentholm, they load it with supplies they left behind.
Busy, the father loses track of Ernest; later he finds the boy asleep and the cow and donkey heading for the river. The father wakes Ernest by shouting at him for being lazy and failing to keep the animals from wandering away. Ernest tells his father there is nothing to worry about. Before he slept, Ernest removed several wooden planks from the bridge so the animals could not cross it. The father cannot help but commend Ernest's ingenuity. Later, he praises Ernest again when he catches a fifteen-pound salmon, a great addition to their supper.