Chapter 15 Summary

Taking a day off to celebrate Sunday, the father decides to engage his sons athletically. First he has them run, leap, wrestle, and climb, telling them they should practice daily to build strength. To encourage exercise, he also incorporates new skills, such as using a lasso like those he has seen Mexicans and South American tribes use. The lasso is a rope contraption with stones fastened to one end. The trick is to twirl the rope overhead and release it toward a target. The stone wraps the rope around the target, which comes in handy, he tells them, when aimed at a cow's legs or tiger's neck. The pressure causes the animal to stop running and sometimes makes them fall.

They create the lassos quickly. Fritz is first to become accomplished in the art, with the other boys in fast pursuit. When they tire of this exercise, the father suggests a hike into Calabash Wood in search of materials to make more vessels and utensils. The entire family rarely goes off together, so everyone is in great spirits. Along the way, they plant more trees. When they run out of daylight, the father suggests continuing early in the morning.

At sunrise, the father ties the sledge to the donkey and they set out. At a grove of coconut trees, Ernest sees no coconuts on the ground and says he wishes some would fall. Right away, two coconuts fall at his feet, a somewhat scary coincidence. The family looks high in the trees, but no one sees monkeys, who usually toss coconuts down. Then Fritz sees a "hideous creature," which his father identifies as a large land crab. He explains that the crabs climb the trees and use their claws to cut the coconuts free. In falling, many crack, giving the crabs access to the soft, sweet meat inside the nuts.

The next day, only the father and Fritz travel to the woods, exploring and finding such exotic plants as one with waxy fruit, from which candles can be made. Fritz discovers a tree exuding a rubbery sap, from which the father claims they can make boots. Inside a sago palm, the father finds some fat grubs gorging themselves on the pith of the tree. The father has heard that grubs are not only edible but also very tasty, so he roasts them. The large fried worms are so delicious that Fritz must also try them.