IN WORDS OF ONE SYLLABLE.
BY MARY GODOLPHIN
The production of a book which is adapted to the use of the
youngest readers needs but few words of excuse or apology. The
nature of the work seems to be sufficiently explained by the
title itself, and the author's task has been chiefly to reduce
the ordinary language into words of one syllable. But although,
as far as the subject matter is concerned, the book can lay no
claims to originality, it is believed that the idea and scope of
its construction are entirely novel, for the One Syllable
literature of the present day furnishes little more than a few
short, unconnected sentences, and those chiefly in spelling
The deep interest which De Foe's story has never failed to arouse
in the minds of the young, induces the author to hope that it may
be acceptable in its present form.
It should be stated that exceptions to the rule of using words of
one syllable exclusively have been made in the case of the proper
names of the boy Xury and of the man Friday, and in the titles of
the illustrations that accompany this work.
IN WORDS OF ONE SYLLABLE.
I was born at York on the first of March in the sixth year of the
reign of King Charles the First. From the time when I was quite a
young child, I had felt a great wish to spend my life at sea, and
as I grew, so did this taste grow more and more strong; till at
last I broke loose from my school and home, and found my way on
foot to Hull, where I soon got a place on board a ship.
When we had set sail but a few days, a squall of wind came on,
and on the fifth night we sprang a leak. All hands were sent to
the pumps, but we felt the ship groan in all her planks, and her
beams quake from stem to stern; so that it was soon quite clear
there was no hope for her, and that all we could do was to save
The first thing was to fire off guns, to show that we were in
need of help, and at length a ship, which lay not far from us,
sent a boat to our aid. But the sea was too rough for it to lie
near our ship's side, so we threw out a rope, which the men in
the boat caught, and made fast, and by this means we all got in.
Still in so wild a sea it was in vain to try to get on board the
ship which had sent out the men, or to use our oars in the boat,
and all we could do was to let it drive to shore.
In the space of half an hour our own ship struck on a rock and
went down, and we saw her no more. We made but slow way to the
land, which we caught sight of now and then when the boat rose
to the top of some high wave, and there we saw men who ran in
crowds, to and fro, all bent on one thing, and that was to save
At last to our great joy we got on shore, where we had the luck
to meet with friends who gave us the means to get back to Hull;
and if I had now had the good sense to go home, it would have
been well for me.
The man whose ship had gone down said with a grave look, "Young
lad, you ought to go to sea no more, it is not the kind, of life
for you." "Why Sir, will you go to sea no more then?" "That is
not the same kind of thing; I was bred to the sea, but you were
not, and came on board my ship just to find out what a life at
sea was like, and you may guess what you will come to if you do
not go back to your home. God will not bless you, and it may be
that you have brought all this woe on us."
I spoke not a word more to him; which way he went I knew not, nor
did I care to know, for I was hurt at this rude speech. Shall I
go home thought I, or shall I go to sea? Shame kept me from home,
and I could not make up my mind what course of life to take.
As it has been my fate through life to choose for the worst, so I
did now. I had gold in my purse, and good clothes on my back, and
to sea I went once more.
But I had worse luck this time than the last, for when we were
far out at sea, some Turks in a small ship came on our track in
full chase. We set as much sail as our yards would bear, so as to
get clear from them. But in spite of this, we saw our foes gain
on us, and we felt sure that they would come up with our ship in
a few hours' time.
At last they caught us, but we brought our guns to bear on them,
which made them shear off for a time, yet they kept up a fire at
us as long as they were in range. The next time the Turks came
up, some of their men got on board our ship, and set to work to
cut the sails, and do us all kinds of harm. So, as ten of our men
lay dead, and most of the rest had wounds, we gave in.
The chief of the Turks took me as his prize to a port which was
held by the Moors. He did not use me so ill as at first I thought
he would have done, but he set me to work with the rest of his
slaves. This was a change in my life which I did not think had
been in store for me. How my heart sank with grief at the thought
of those whom I had left at home, nay, to whom I had not had the
grace so much as to say "Good bye" when I went to sea, nor to
give a hint of what I meant to do!
Yet all that I went through at this time was but a taste of the
toils and cares which it has since been my lot to bear.
I thought at first that the Turk might take me with him when next
he went to sea, and so I should find some way to get free; but
the hope did not last long, for at such times he left me on shore
to see to his crops. This kind of life I led for two years, and
as the Turk knew and saw more of me, he made me more and more
free. He went out in his boat once or twice a week to catch a
kind of flat fish, and now and then he took me and a boy with
him, for we were quick at this kind of sport, and he grew quite
fond of me.
One day the Turk sent me in the boat to catch some fish, with no
one else but a man and a boy. While we were out so thick a fog
came on that though we were out not half a mile from the shore,
we quite lost sight of it for twelve hours; and when the sun rose
the next day, our boat was at least ten miles out at sea. The
wind blew fresh, and we were all much in want of food, but at
last, with the help of our oars and sail, we got back safe to
When the Turk heard how we had lost our way, he said that the
next time he went out, he would take a boat that would hold all
we could want if we were kept out at sea. So he had quite a state
room built in the long boat of his ship, as well as a room for us
slaves. One day he sent me to trim the boat, as he had two
friends who would go in it to fish with him. But when the time
came they did not go, so he sent me with the man and the
boy--whose name was Xury--to catch some fish for the guests that
were to sup with him.
Now the thought struck me all at once that this would be a good
chance to set off with the boat, and get free. So in the first
place, I took all the food that I could lay my hands on, and I
told the man that it would be too bold of us to eat of the bread
that had been put in the boat for the Turk. He said he thought so
too, and he brought down a small sack of rice and some rusks.
While the man was on shore I put up some wine, a large lump of
wax, a saw, an axe, a spade, some rope, and all sorts of things
that might be of use to us. I knew where the Turk's case of wine
was, and I put that in the boat while the man was on shore. By
one more trick I got all that I had need of. I said to the boy,
"the Turk's guns are in the boat, but there is no shot. Do you
think you could get some? You know where it is kept, and we may
want to shoot a fowl or two." So he brought a case and a pouch
which held all that we could want for the guns. These I put in
the boat, and then set sail out of the port to fish.
The wind blew, from the North, or North West, which was a bad
wind for me; for had it been South I could have made for the
coast of Spain. But, blow which way it might, my mind was made up
to get off, and to leave the rest to fate. I then let down my
lines to fish, but I took care to have bad sport; and when the
fish bit, I would not pull them up, for the Moor was not to see
them. I said to him, "This will not do, we shall catch no fish
here, we ought to sail on a bit." Well, the Moor thought there
was no harm in this. He set the sails, and, as the helm was in my
hands, I ran the boat out a mile or more, and then brought her
to, as if I meant to fish.
Now, thought I, the time has come for me to get free! I gave the
helm to the boy, and then took the Moor round the waist, and
threw him out of the boat.
Down he went! but soon rose up, for he swam like a duck. He said
he would go all round the world with me, if I would but take him
I had some fear lest he should climb up the boat's side, and
force his way back; so I brought my gun to point at him, and
said, "You can swim to land with ease if you choose, make haste
then to get there; but if you come near the boat you shall have a
shot through the head, for I mean to be a free man from this
He then swam for the shore, and no doubt got safe there, as the
sea was so calm.
At first I thought I would take the Moor with me, and let Xury
swim to land; but the Moor was not a man that I could trust. When
he was gone I said to Xury, "If you will swear to be true to me,
you shall be a great man in time; if not, I must throw you out of
the boat too."
The poor boy gave me such a sweet smile as he swore to be true to
me, that I could not find it in my heart to doubt him.
While the man was still in view (for he was on his way to the
land), we stood out to sea with the boat, so that he and those
that saw us from the shore might think we had gone to the
straits' mouth, for no one went to the South coast, as a tribe of
men dwelt there who were known to kill and eat their foes.
We then bent our course to the East, so as to keep in with the
shore; and as we had a fair wind and a smooth sea, by the next
day at noon, we were not less than 150 miles out of the reach of
I had still some fear lest I should be caught by the Moors, so I
would not go on shore in the day time. But when it grew dark we
made our way to the coast, and came to the mouth of a stream,
from which we thought we could swim to land, and then look round
us. But as soon as it was quite dark we heard strange sounds--
barks, roars, grunts, and howls. The poor lad said he could
not go on shore till dawn. "Well," said I, "then we must give
it up, but it may be that in the day time we shall be seen
by men, who for all we know would do us more harm than wild
beasts." "Then we give them the shoot gun," said Xury with a
laugh, "and make them run away." I was glad to see so much mirth
in the boy, and gave him some bread and rice.
We lay still at night, but did not sleep long, for in a few
hours' time some huge beasts came down to the sea to bathe. The
poor boy shook from head to foot at the sight. One of these
beasts came near our boat, and though it was too dark to see him
well, we heard him puff and blow, and knew that he must be a
large one by the noise he made. At last the brute came as near to
the boat as two oars' length, so I shot at him, and he swam to
The roar and cries set up by beasts and birds at the noise of my
gun would seem to show that we had made a bad choice of a place
to land on; but be that as it would, to shore we had to go to
find some fresh spring, so that we might fill our casks. Xury
said if I would let him go with one of the jars, he would find
out if the springs were fit to drink; and, if they were sweet, he
would bring the jar back full. "Why should you go?" said I; "Why
should not I go, and you stay in the boat?" At this Xury said,
"if wild mans come they eat me, you go way." I could not but love
the lad for this kind speech. "Well," said I, "we will both go,
and if the wild men come we must kill them, they shall not eat
you or me."
I gave Xury some rum from the Turk's case to cheer him up, and we
went on shore. The boy went off with his gun, full a mile from
the spot where we stood, and came back with a hare that he had
shot, which we were glad to cook and eat; but the good news which
he brought was that he had found a spring, and had seen no wild
I made a guess that the Cape de Verd Isles were not far off, for
I saw the top of the Great Peak, which I knew was near them. My
one hope was that if I kept near the coast, I should find some
ship that would take us on board; and then, and not till then,
should I feel a free man. In a word, I put the whole of my fate
on this chance, that I must meet with some ship, or die.
On the coast we saw some men who stood to look at us. They were
black, and wore no clothes. I would have gone on shore to them,
but Xury--who knew best--said, "Not you go! Not you go!" So I
brought the boat as near the land as I could, that I might talk
to them, and they kept up with me a long way. I saw that one of
them had a lance in his hand.
I made signs that they should bring me some food, and they on
their part made signs for me to stop my boat. So I let down the
top of my sail, and lay by, while two of them ran off; and in
less than half an hour they came back with some dry meat and a
sort of corn which is grown in this part of the world. This we
should have been glad to get, but knew not how to do so; for we
durst not go on shore to them, nor did they dare to come to us.
At last they took a safe way for us all, for they brought the food
to the shore, where they set it, down, and then went a long way
off while we took it in. We made signs to show our thanks, for we
had not a thing that we could spare to give them.
But as good luck would have it, we were at hand to take a great
prize for them; for two wild beasts, of the same kind as the
first I spoke of, came in, full chase from the hills down to the
They swam as if they had come for sport. The men flew from them
in fear, all but the one who held the lance. One of these beasts
came near our boat; so I lay in wait for him with my gun; and as
soon as the brute was in range, I shot him through the head.
Twice he sank down in the sea, and twice he came up; and then
just swam to the land, where he fell down dead. The men were in
as much fear at the sound of my gun, as they had been at the
sight of the beasts. But when I made signs for them to come to
the shore, they took heart, and came.
They at once made for their prize; and by the help of a rope,
which they slung round him, they brought him safe on the beach.
We now left our wild men, and went on and on, for twelve days
more. The land in front of us ran out four or five miles, like a
bill; and we had to keep some way from the coast, to make this
point, so that we lost sight of the shore.
I gave the helm to Xury and sat down to think what would be my
best course to take: when all at once I heard the lad cry out "A
ship with a sail! A ship with a sail!" He did not show much joy
at the sight, for he thought that this ship had been sent out to
take him back: but I knew well, from the look of her, that she
was not one of the Turk's.
I made all the sail I could to come in the ship's way, and told
Xury to fire a gun, in the hope that if those on deck could not
hear the sound, they might see the smoke. This they did see, and
then let down their sails so that we might come up to them, and
in three hours time we were at the ship's side. The men spoke to
us in French, but I could not make out what they meant. At last a
Scot on board said in my own tongue, "Who are you? Whence do you
come?" I told him in a few words how I had got free from the
Then the man who had charge of the ship bade me come on board,
and took me in with Xury and all my goods. I told him that he
might take all I had, but he said "You shall have your goods back
when we come to land, for I have but done for you what you would
have done for me, had I been in the same plight."
He gave me a good round sum for my boat, and said that I should
have the same sum for Xury, if I would part with him. But I told
him that as it was by the boy's help that I had got free, I was
loath to sell him. He said it was just and right in me to feel
thus, but at the same time, if I could make up my mind to part
with him, he should be set free in two years' time. So, as the
poor slave had a wish to go with him, I did not say "no." I got
to All Saints' Bay in three weeks, and was now a free man.
I had made a good sum by all my store, and with this I went on
land. But I did not at all know what to do next. At length I met
with a man whose case was much the same as my own, and we both
took some land to farm. My stock, like his, was low, but we made
our farms serve to keep us in food, though not more than that. We
both stood in need of help, and I saw now that I had done wrong
to part with my boy.
I did not at all like this kind of life. What! thought I, have I
come all this way to do that which I could have done as well at
home with my friends round me! And to add to my grief, the kind
friend, who had brought me here in his ship, now meant to leave
On my first start to sea when a boy, I had put a small sum in the
hands of an aunt, and this my friend said I should do well to
spend on my farm. So when he got home he sent some of it in cash,
and laid out the rest in cloth, stuffs, baize, and such like
goods. My aunt had put a few pounds in my friend's hands as a
gift to him, to show her thanks for all that he had done for me,
and with this sum he was so kind as to buy me a slave. In the
mean time I had bought a slave, so now I had two, and all went on
well for the next year.
But soon my plans grew too large for my means. One day some men
came to ask me to take charge of a slave ship to be sent out by
them. They said they would give me a share in the slaves, and pay
the cost of the stock. This would have been a good thing for me
if I had not had farms and land; but it was wild and rash to
think of it now, for I had made a large sum, and ought to have
gone on in the same way for three or four years more. Well, I
told these men that I would go with all my heart, if they would
look to my farm in the mean time, which they said they would do.
So I made my will, and went on board this ship on the same day on
which, eight years since, I had left Hull. She had six guns,
twelve men, and a boy. We took with us saws, chains, toys, beads,
bits of glass, and such like ware, to suit the taste of those
with whom we had to trade.
We were not more than twelve days from the Line, when a high wind
took us off we knew not where. All at once there was a cry of
"Land!" and the ship struck on a bank of sand, in which she sank
so deep that we could not get her off. At last we found that we
must make up our minds to leave her, and get to shore as well as
we could. There had been a boat at her stern, but we found it
had been torn off by the force of the waves. One small boat was
still left on the ship's side, so we got in it.
There we were all of us on the wild sea. The heart of each now
grew faint, our cheeks were pale, and our eyes were dim, for
there was but one hope, and that was to find some bay, and so get
in the lee of the land. We now gave up our whole souls to God.
The sea grew more and more rough, and its white foam would curl
and boil. At last the waves, in their wild sport, burst on the
boat's side, and we were all thrown out.
I could swim well, but the force of the waves made me lose my
breath too much to do so. At length one large wave took me to the
shore, and left me high and dry, though half dead with fear. I
got on my feet and made the best of my way for the land; but just
then the curve of a huge wave rose up as high as a hill, and this
I had no strength to keep from, so it took me back to the sea. I
did my best to float on the top, and held my breath to do so. The
next wave was quite as high, and shut me up in its bulk. I held
my hands down tight to my side, and then my head shot out at the
top of the waves. This gave me heart and breath too, and soon my
feet felt the ground.
I stood quite still for a short time, to let the sea run back
from me, and then I set off with all my might to the shore, but
yet the waves caught me, and twice more did they take me back,
and twice more land me on the shore. I thought the last wave
would have been the death of me, for it drove me on a piece of
rock, and with such force, as to leave me in a kind of swoon,
which, thank God, did not last long. At length, to my great joy,
I got up to the cliffs close to the shore, where I found some
grass, out of the reach of the sea. There, I sat down, safe on
land at last.
I could but cry out in the words of the Psalm, "They that go down
to the sea in ships, these men see the works of the Lord in the
deep. For at His word the storms rise, the winds blow, and lift
up the waves; then do they mount to the sky, and from thence go
down to the deep. My soul faints, I reel to and fro, and am at my
wit's end: then the Lord brings me out of all my fears."
I felt so wrapt in joy, that all I could do was to walk up and
down the coast, now lift up my hands, now fold them on my breast,
and thank God for all that He had done for me, when the rest of
the men were lost. All lost but I, and I was safe! I now cast my
eyes round me, to find out what kind of a place it was that I had
been thus thrown in, like a bird in a storm. Then all the glee I
felt at first left me; for I was wet and cold, and had no dry
clothes to put on, no food to eat and not a friend to help me.
There were wild beasts here, but I had no gun to shoot them with,
or to keep me from their jaws. I had but a knife and a pipe. It
now grew dark; and where was I to go for the night? I thought the
top of some high tree would be a good place to keep me out of
harm's way; and that there I might sit and think of death, for,
as yet, I had no hopes of life. Well, I went to my tree, and made
a kind of nest to sleep in. Then I cut a stick to keep off the
beasts of prey, in case they should come, and fell to sleep just
as if the branch I lay on had been a bed of down.
When I woke up it was broad day; the sky too was clear and the
sea calm. But I saw from the top of the tree that in the night
the ship had left the bank of sand, and lay but a mile from me;
while the boat was on the beach, two miles on my right. I went
some way down by the shore, to get to the boat; but an arm of the
sea, half a mile broad, kept me from it. At noon, the tide went a
long way out, so that I could get near the ship; and here I found
that if we had but made up our minds to stay on board, we should
all have been safe.
I shed tears at the thought, for I could not help it; yet, as
there was no use in that, it struck me that the best thing for me
to do was to swim to the ship. I soon threw off my clothes, took
to the sea, and swam up to the wreck. But how was I to get on
deck? I had swam twice round the ship, when a piece of rope,
caught my eye, which hung down from her side so low, that at
first the waves hid it. By the help of this rope I got on board.
I found that there was a bulge in the ship, and that she had
sprung a leak. You may be sure that my first thought was to look
round for some food, and I soon made my way to the bin, where the
bread was kept, and ate some of it as I went to and fro, for
there was no time to lose. There was, too, some rum, of which I
took a good draught, and this gave me heart. What I stood most in
need of, was a boat to take the goods to shore. But it was vain
to wish for that which could not be had; and as there were some
spare yards in the ship, two or three large planks of wood, and a
spare mast or two, I fell to work with these, to make a raft.
I put four spars side by side, and laid short bits of plank on
them, cross ways, to make my raft strong. Though these planks
would bear my own weight, they were too slight to bear much of my
freight. So I took a saw which was on board, and cut a mast in
three lengths, and these gave great strength to the raft. I found
some bread and rice, a Dutch cheese, and some dry goat's flesh.
There had been some wheat, but the rats had got at it, and it was
My next task was to screen my goods from the spray of the sea;
and it did not take me long to do this, for there were three
large chests on board which held all, and these I put on the
raft. When the high tide came up it took off my coat and shirt,
which I had left on the shore; but there were some fresh clothes
in the ship.
"See here is a prize!" said I, out loud, (though there were none
to hear me), "now I shall not starve." For I found four large
guns. But how was my raft to be got to land? I had no sail, no
oars; and a gust of wind would make all my store slide off. Yet
there were three things which I was glad of; a calm sea, a tide
which set in to the shore, and a slight breeze to blow me there.
I had the good luck to find some oars in a part of the ship, in
which I had made no search till now. With these I put to sea, and
for half a mile my raft went well; but soon I found it drove to
one side. At length I saw a creek, to which, with some toil, I
took my raft; and now the beach was so near, that I felt my oar
touch the ground.
Here I had well nigh lost my freight, for the shore lay on a
slope, so that there was no place to land on, save where one end
of the raft would lie so high, and one end so low, that all my
goods would fall off. To wait till the tide came up was all that
could be done. So when the sea was a foot deep, I thrust the raft
on a flat piece of ground, to moor her there, and stuck my two
oars in the sand, one on each side of the raft. Thus I let her
lie till the ebb of the tide, and when it went down, she was left
safe on land with all her freight.
I saw that there were birds on the isle, and I shot one of them.
Mine must have been the first gun that had been heard there since
the world was made; for at the sound of it, whole flocks of birds
flew up, with loud cries, from all parts of the wood. The shape
of the beak of the one I shot was like that of a hawk, but the
claws were not so large.
I now went back to my raft to land my stores, and this took up
the rest of the day. What to do at night I knew not, nor where to
find a safe place to land my stores on. I did not like to lie
down on the ground, for fear of beasts of prey, as well as
snakes, but there was no cause for these fears, as I have since
found. I put the chests and boards round me as well as I could,
and made a kind of hut for the night.
As there was still a great store of things left in the ship,
which would be of use to me, I thought that I ought to bring them
to land at once; for I knew that the first storm would break up
the ship. So I went on board, and took good care this time not to
load my raft too much.
The first thing, I sought for was the tool chest; and in it were
some bags of nails, spikes, saws, knives, and such things: but
best of all I found a stone to grind my tools on. There were two
or three flasks, some large bags of shot, and a roll of lead; but
this last I had not the strength to hoist up to the ship's side,
so as to get it on my raft. There were some spare sails too which
I brought to shore.
I had some fear lest my stores might be run off with by beasts of
prey, if not by men; but I found all safe and sound when I went
back, and no one had come there but a wild cat, which sat on one
of the chests. When I came up I held my gun at her, but as she
did not know what a gun was, this did not rouse her. She ate a
piece of dry goat's flesh, and then took her leave.
Now that I had two freights of goods at hand, I made a tent with
the ship's sails, to stow them in, and cut the poles for it from
the wood. I now took all the things out of the casks and chests,
and put the casks in piles round the tent, to give it strength;
and when this was done, I shut up the door with the boards,
spread one of the beds (which I had brought from the ship) on the
ground, laid two guns close to my head, and went to bed for the
first time. I slept all night, for I was much in need of rest.
The next day I was sad and sick at heart, for I felt how dull it
was to be thus cut off from all the rest of the world. I had no
great wish for work: but there was too much to be done for me to
dwell long on my sad lot. Each day as it came, I went off to the
wreck to fetch more things; and I brought back as much as the
raft would hold. One day I had put too great a load on the raft,
which made it sink down on one side, so that the goods were lost
in the sea; but at this I did not fret, as the chief part of the
freight was some rope, which would not have been of much use to
The twelve days that I had been in the isle were spent in this
way, and I had brought to land all that one pair of hands could
lift; though if the sea had been still calm, I might have brought
the whole ship, piece by piece.
The last time I swam to the wreck, the wind blew so hard, that I
made up my mind to go on board next time at low tide. I found
some tea and some gold coin; but as to the gold, it made me laugh
to look at it. "O drug!" said I, "Thou art of no use to me! I
care not to save thee. Stay where thou art, till the ship go
down, then go thou with it!"
Still, I thought I might as well just take it; so I put it in a
piece of the sail, and threw it on deck that I might place it on
the raft. Bye-and-bye, the wind blew from the shore, so I had to
swim back with all speed; for I knew that at the turn of the
tide, I should find it hard work to get to land at all. But in
spite of the high wind, I came to my home all safe. At dawn of
day I put my head out, and cast my eyes on the sea. When lo! no
ship was there!
This change in the face of things, and the loss of such a friend,
quite struck me down. Yet I was glad to think that I had brought
to shore all that could be of use to me. I had now to look out
for some spot where I could make my home. Half way up a hill
there was a small plain, four or five score feet long, and twice
as broad; and as it had a full view of the sea, I thought that
it would be a good place for my house.
I first dug a trench round a space which took in twelve yards;
and in this I drove two rows of stakes, till they stood firm like
piles, five and a half feet from the ground. I made the stakes
close and tight with bits of rope; and put small sticks on the
top of them in the shape of spikes. This made so strong a fence
that no man or beast could get in.
The door of my house was on the top, and I had to climb up to it
by steps, which I took in with me, so that no one else might come
up by the same way. Close to the back of the house stood a high
rock, in which I made a cave, and laid all the earth that I had
dug out of it round my house, to the height of a foot and a half.
I had to go out once a day in search of food. The first time, I
saw some goats, but they were too shy and swift of foot, to let
me get near them.
At last I lay in wait for them close to their own haunts. If they
saw me in the vale, though they might be on high ground, they
would run off, wild with fear; but if they were in the vale, and
I on high ground, they took no heed of me. The first goat I shot
had a kid by her side, and when the old one fell, the kid stood
near her, till I took her off on my back, and then the young one
ran by my side. I put down the goat, and brought the kid home to
tame it; but as it was too young to feed, I had to kill it.
At first I thought that, for the lack of pen and ink, I should
lose all note of time; so I made a large post, in the shape of a
cross, on which I cut these words, "I came on these shores on the
8th day of June, in the year 1659" On the side of this post I
made a notch each day as it came, and this I kept up till the
I have not yet said a word of my four pets, which were two cats,
a dog, and a bird. You may guess how fond I was of them, for they
were all the friends left to me. I brought the dog and two cats
from the ship. The dog would fetch things for me at all times,
and by his bark, his whine, his growl, and his tricks, he would
all but talk to me; yet he could not give me thought for thought.
If I could but have had some one near me to find fault with, or
to find fault with me, what a treat it would have been! Now that
I had brought ink from the ship, I wrote down a sketch of each
day as it came; not so much to leave to those who might read it,
when I was dead and gone, as to get rid of my own thoughts, and
draw me from the fears which all day long dwelt on my mind, till
my head would ache with the weight of them.
I was a long way out of the course of ships: and oh, how dull it
was to be cast on this lone spot with no one to love, no one to
make me laugh, no one to make me weep, no one to make me think.
It was dull to roam, day by day, from the wood to the shore; and
from the shore back to the wood, and feed on my own thoughts all
So much for the sad view of my case; but like most things it had
a bright side as well as a dark one. For here was I safe on land,
while all the rest of the ship's crew were lost. Well, thought I,
God who shapes our ways, and led me by the hand then, can save me
from this state now, or send some one to be with me; true, I am
cast on a rough and rude part of the globe, but there are no
beasts of prey on it to kill or hurt me. God has sent the ship so
near to me, that I have got from it all things to meet my wants
for the rest of my days. Let life be what it may, there is sure
to be much to thank God for; and I soon gave up all dull
thoughts, and did not so much as look out for a sail.
My goods from the wreck had been in the cave for more than ten
months; and it was time now to put them right, as they took up
all the space, and left me no room to turn in: so I made my small
cave a large one, and dug it out a long way back in the sand
rock. Then I brought the mouth of it up to the fence, and so made
a back way to my house. This done, I put shelves on each side, to
hold my goods, which made my cave look like a shop full of
stores. To make these shelves I cut down a tree, and with the
help of a saw, an axe, a plane, and some more tools, I made
A chair, and a desk to write on, came next. I rose in good time,
and set to work till noon, then I ate my meal, then I went out
with my gun, and to work once more till the sun had set; and then
to bed. It took me more than a week to change the shape and size
of my cave, but I had made it far too large; for in course of
time the earth fell in from the roof; and had I been in it, when
this took place, I should have lost my life. I had now to set up
posts in my cave, with planks on the top of them, so as to make a
roof of wood.
One day, when out with my gun, I shot a wild cat, the skin of
which made me a cap; and I found some birds of the dove tribe,
which built their nests in the holes of rocks.
I had to go to bed at dusk, till I made a lamp of goat's fat,
which I put in a clay dish; and this, with a piece of hemp for a
wick, made a good light. As I had found a use for the bag which
had held the fowl's food on board ship, I shook out from it the
husks of corn. This was just at the time when the great rains
fell, and in the course of a month, blades of rice, corn, and
rye, sprang up. As time went by, and the grain was ripe, I kept
it, and took care to sow it each year; but I could not boast of a
crop of wheat, as will be shown bye-and-bye, for three years.
A thing now took place on the isle, which no one could have
dreamt of, and which struck me down with fear. It was this--the
ground shook with great force, which threw down earth from the
rock with a loud crash--once more there was a shock--and now the
earth fell from the roof of my cave. The sea did not look the
same as it had done, for the shocks were just as strong there as
on land. The sway of the earth made me feel sick; and there was a
noise and a roar all around me. The same kind of shock came a
third time; and when it had gone off, I sat quite still on the
ground, for I knew not what to do. Then the clouds grew dark, the
wind rose, trees were torn up by the roots, the sea was a mass of
foam and froth, and a great part of the isle was laid waste with
the storm. I thought that the world had come to an end. In three
hours' time all was calm; but rain fell all that night, and a
great part of the next day. Now, though quite worn out, I had to
move my goods which were in the cave, to some safe place.
I knew that tools would be my first want, and that I should have
to grind mine on the stone, as they were blunt and worn with use.
But as it took both hands to hold the tool, I could not turn the
stone; so I made a wheel by which I could move it with my foot.
This was no small task, but I took great pains with it, and at
length it was done.
The rain fell for some days and a cold chill came on me; in short
I was ill. I had pains in my head, and could get no sleep at
night, and my thoughts were wild and strange. At one time I shook
with cold, and then a hot fit came on, with faint sweats, which
would last six hours at a time. Ill as I was, I had to go out
with my gun to get food. I shot a goat, but it was a great toil
to bring it home, and still more to cook it.
I spent the next day in bed, and felt half dead from thirst, yet
too weak to stand up to get some drink. I lay and wept like a
child. "Lord look on me! Lord look on me!" would I cry for hours.
At last the fit left me, and I slept, and did not wake till dawn.
I dreamt that I lay on the ground, and saw a man come down from a
great black cloud in a flame of light. When he stood on the
earth, it shook as it had done a few days since; and all the
world to me was full of fire. He came up and said "As I see that
all these things have not brought thee to pray, now thou shalt
die." Then I woke, and found it was a dream. Weak and faint, I
was in dread all day lest my fit should come on.
Too ill to get out with my gun, I sat on the shore to think, and
thus ran my thoughts: "What is this sea which is all round me?
and whence is it? There can be no doubt that the hand that made
it, made the air, the earth, the sky. And who is that? It is God
who hath made all things. Well then, if God hath made all things,
it must be He who guides them; and if so, no one thing in the
whole range of His works can take place, and He not know it. Then
God must know how sick and sad I am, and He wills me to be here.
O, why hath God done this to me!"
Then some voice would seem to say, "Dost thou ask why God hath
done this to thee? Ask why thou wert not shot by the Moors, who
came on board the ship, and took the lives of thy mates. Ask why
thou wert not torn by the beasts of prey on the coasts. Ask why
thou didst not go down in the deep sea with the rest of the crew,
but didst come to this isle, and art safe."
A sound sleep then fell on me, and when I woke it must have been
three o'clock the next day, by the rays of the sun: nay, it may
have been more than that; for I think that this must have been
the day that I did not mark on my post, as I have since found
that there was one notch too few.
I now took from my store the Book of God's Word, which I had
brought from the wreck, not one page, of which I had yet read. My
eyes fell on five words, that would seem to have been put there
for my good at this time; so well did they cheer my faint hopes,
and touch the true source of my fears. They were these: "I will
not leave thee." And they have dwelt in my heart to this day. I
laid down the book, to pray. My cry was "O, Lord, help me to love
and learn thy ways."
This was the first time in all my life that I had felt a sense
that God was near, and heard me. As for my dull life here, it was
not worth a thought; for now a new strength had come to me; and
there was a change in my griefs, as well as in my joys.
I had now been in the isle twelve months, and I thought it was
time to go all round it, in search of its woods, springs, and
creeks. So I set off, and brought back with me limes and grapes
in their prime, large and ripe. I had hung the grapes in the sun
to dry, and in a few days' time went to fetch them, that I might
lay up a store. The vale, on the banks of which they grew, was
fresh and green, and a clear, bright stream ran through it, which
gave so great a charm to the spot, as to make me wish to live
But there was no view of the sea from this vale, while from my
house, no ships could come on my side of the isle, and not be
seen by me; yet the cool, soft banks were so sweet and new to me
that much of my time was spent there.
In the first of the three years in which I had grown corn, I had
sown it too late; in the next, it was spoilt by the drought; but
the third years' crop had sprung up well.
I found that the hares would lie in it night and day, for which
there was no cure but to plant a thick hedge all round it; and
this took me more than three weeks to do. I shot the hares in the
day time; and when it grew dark, I made fast the dog's chain to
the gate, and there he stood to bark all night.
In a short time the corn grew strong, and at last ripe but, just
as the hares had hurt it in the blade, so now the birds ate it in
the ear. At the noise of my gun, whole flocks of them would fly
up; and at this rate I saw that there would be no corn left; so I
made up my mind to keep a look out night and day. I hid by the
side of a hedge, and could see the birds sit on the trees and
watch, and then come down, one by one, at first. Now each grain
of wheat was, as it were, a small loaf of bread to me. So the
great thing was to get rid of these birds. My plan was this, I
shot three, and hung them up, like thieves, to scare all that
came to the corn; and from this time, as long as the dead ones
hung there, not a bird came near. When the corn was ripe, I made
a scythe out of the swords from the ship, and got in my crop.
Few of us think of the cost at which a loaf of bread is made. Of
course, there was no plough here to turn up the earth, and no
spade to dig it with, so I made one with wood; but this was soon
worn out, and for want of a rake, I made use of the bough of a
tree. When I had got the corn home, I had to thrash it, part the
grain from the chaff, and store it up. Then came the want of a
mill to grind it, of sieves to clean it, and of yeast to make
bread of it.
Still, my bread was made, though I had no tools; and no one could
say that I did not earn it, by the sweat of my brow. When the
rain kept me in doors, it was good fun to teach my pet bird Poll
to talk; but so mute were all things round me, that the sound of
my own voice made me start.
My chief wants now were jars, pots, cups, and plates, but I knew
not how I could make them. At last I went in search of some clay,
and found some a mile from my house; but it was quite a joke to
see the queer shapes and forms that I made out of it. For some of
my pots and jars were too weak to bear their own weight; and they
would fall out here, and in there, in all sorts of ways; while
some, when they were put in the sun to bake, would crack with the
heat of its rays. You may guess what my joy was when at last a
pot was made which would stand the heat of the fire, so that I
could boil the meat for broth.
The next thing to be made was a sieve, to part the grain from the
husks. Goat's hair was of no use to me, as I could not weave or
spin; so I made a shift for two years with a thin kind of stuff,
which I had brought from the ship. But to grind the corn with the
stones was the worst of all, such hard work did I find it. To
bake the bread I burnt some wood down to an ash, which I threw on
the hearth to heat it, and then set my loaves on the hearth, and
in this way my bread was made.
The next thing to turn my thoughts to was the ship's boat, which
lay on the high ridge of sand, where it had been thrust by the
storm which had cast me on these shores. But it lay with the keel
to the sky, so I had to dig the sand from it, and turn it up with
the help of a pole. When I had done this I found it was all in
vain, for I had not the strength to launch it. So all I could do
now, was to make a boat of less size out of a tree; and I found
one that was just fit for it, which grew not far from the shore,
but I could no more stir this than I could the ship's boat. What
was to be done? I first dug the ground flat and smooth all the
way from the boat to the sea, so as to let it slide down; but
this plan did not turn out well, so I thought I would try a new
way, which was to make a trench, so as to bring the sea up to the
boat, as the boat could not be brought to the sea. But to do
this, I must have dug down to a great depth, which would take one
man some years to do. And when too late, I found it was not wise
to work out a scheme, till I had first thought of the cost and
"Well," thought I, "I must give up the boat, and with it all my
hopes to leave the isle. But I have this to think of: I am lord
of the whole isle; in fact, a king. I have wood with which I
might build a fleet, and grapes, if not corn, to freight it with,
though all my wealth is but a few gold coins." For these I had no
sort of use, and could have found it in my heart to give them all
for a peck of peas and some ink, which last I stood much in need
of. But it was best to dwell more on what I had, than on what I
I now must needs try once more to build a boat, but this time it
was to have a mast, for which the ship's sails would be of great
use. I made a deck at each end, to keep out the spray of the sea,
a bin for my food, and a rest for my gun, with a flap to screen
it from the wet. More than all, the boat was one of such a size
that I could launch it.
My first cruise was up and down the creek, but soon I got bold,
and made the whole round of my isle. I took with me bread, cakes,
and a pot full of rice, some rum, half a goat, two great coats,
one of which was to lie on, and one to put on at night. I set
sail in the sixth year of my reign. On the East side of the isle,
there was a large ridge of rocks, which lay two miles from the
shore; and a shoal of sand lay for half a mile from the rocks to
the beach. To get round to this point, I had to sail a great way
out to sea; and here I all but lost my life.
But I got back to my home at last. On my way there, quite worn
out with the toils of the boat, I lay down in the shade to rest
my limbs, and slept. But judge, if you can, what a start I gave,
when a voice woke me out of my sleep, and spoke my name three
times! A voice in this wild place! To call me by name, too! Then
the voice said, "Where are you? Where have you been? How came you
here?" But now I saw it all; for at the top of the hedge sat
Poll, who did but say the words she had been taught by me.
I now went in search of some goats, and laid snares for them,
with rice for a bait I had set the traps in the night, and found
they had all stood, though the bait was gone. So I thought of a
new way to take them, which was to make a pit and lay sticks and
grass on it, so as to hide it; and in this way I caught an old
goat and some kids. But the old goat was much too fierce for me,
so I let him go. I brought all the young ones home, and let them
fast a long time, till at last they fed from my hand, and were
quite tame. I kept them in a kind of park, in which there were
trees to screen them from the sun. At first my park was three
miles round; but it struck me that, in so great a space, the kids
would soon get as wild as if they had the range of the whole
vale, and that it would be as well to give them less room; so I
had to make a hedge which took me three months to plant. My park
held a flock of twelve goats, and in two years more there were
more than two score.
My dog sat at meals with me, and one cat on each side of me, on
stools, and we had Poll to talk to us. Now for a word or two as
to the dress in which I made a tour round the isle. I could but
think how droll it would look in the streets of the town in which
I was born. I wore a high cap of goat's skin, with a flap that
hung, down, to keep the sun and rain from my neck, a coat made
from the skin of a goat too, the skirts of which came down to my
hips, and the same on my legs, with no shoes, but flaps of the
fur round my shins. I had a broad belt of the same round my
waist, which drew on with two thongs; and from it, on my right
side, hung a saw and an axe; and on my left side a pouch for the
shot. My beard had not been cut since I came here. But no more
need be said of my looks, for there were few to see me. A strange
sight was now in store for me, which was to change the whole
course of my life in the isle.
One day at noon, while on a stroll down to a part of the shore
that was new to me, what should I see on the sand but the print
of a man's foot! I felt as if I was bound by a spell, and could
not stir from, the spot.
Bye-and-bye, I stole a look round me, but no one was in sight,
What could this mean? I went three or four times to look at it.
There it was--the print of a man's foot; toes, heel, and all the
parts of a foot. How could it have come there?
My head swam with fear; and as I left the spot, I made two or
three steps, and then took a look round me; then two steps more,
and did the same thing. I took fright at the stump of an old
tree, and ran to my house, as if for my life. How could aught in
the shape of a man come to that shore, and I not know it? Where
was the ship that brought him? Then a vague dread took hold of my
mind, that some man, or set of men, had found me out; and it
might be, that they meant to kill me, or rob me of all I had.
How strange a thing is the life of man! One day we love that
which the next day we hate. One day we seek what the next day we
shun. One day we long for the thing which the next day we fear;
and so we go on. Now, from the time that I was cast on this isle,
my great source of grief was that I should be thus cut off from
the rest of my race. Why, then, should the thought that a man
might be near give me all this pain? Nay, why should the mere
sight of the print of a man's foot, make me quake with fear? It
seems most strange; yet not more strange than true.
Once it struck me that it might be the print of my own foot, when
first the storm cast me on these shores. Could I have come this
way from the boat? Should it in truth turn out to be the print of
my own foot, I should be like a boy who tells of a ghost, and
feels more fright at his own tale, than those do whom he meant to
Fear kept me in-doors for three days, till the want of food drove
me out. At last I was so bold as to go down to the coast to look
once more at the print of the foot, to see if it was the same
shape as my own. I found it was not so large by a great deal; so
it was clear there were men in the isle. Just at this time my
good watch dog fell down dead at my feet. He was old and worn
out, and in him I lost my best guard and friend.
One day as I went from the hill to the coast, a scene lay in
front of me which made me sick at heart. The spot was spread with
the bones of men. There was a round place dug in the earth, where
a fire had been made, and here some men had come to feast. Now
that I had seen this sight, I knew not how to act; I kept close
to my home, and would scarce stir from it, save to milk my flock
To feel safe was now more to me than to be well fed; and I did
not care to drive a nail, or chop a stick of wood, lest the sound
of it should be heard, much less would I fire a gun. As to my
bread and meat, I had to bake it at night when the smoke could
not be seen. But I soon found the way to burn wood with turf at
the top of it, which made it like chark, or dry coal; and this I
could use by day, as it had no smoke.
I found in the wood where I went to get the sticks for my fire, a
cave so large that I could stand in it; but I made more haste to
get out, than in; for two large eyes, as bright as stars, shone
out from it with a fierce glare. I took a torch, and went to see
what they could be, and found that there was no cause for fear;
for the eyes were those of an old gray goat, which had gone there
to die of old age. I gave him a push, to try to get him out of
the cave, but he could not rise from the ground where he lay; so
I left him there to die, as I could not save his life.
I found the width of the cave was twelve feet; but part of it,
near the end, was so low that I had to creep on my hands and feet
to go in. What the length of it was I could not tell, for my
light went out, and I had to give up my search. The next day, I
went to the cave with large lights made of goat's fat; and when I
got to the end, I found that the roof rose to two score feet or
As my lights shone on the walls and roof of the cave, a sight
burst on my view, the charms of which no tongue could tell; for
the walls shone like stars. What was in the rock to cause this it
was hard to say; they might be gems, or bright stones, or gold.
But let them be what they may, this cave was a mine of wealth to
me; for at such time as I felt dull or sad, the bright scene
would flash on my mind's eye, and fill it with joy.
A score of years had gone by, with no new sight to rest my eyes
on, till this scene burst on them. I felt as if I should like to
spend the rest of my life here; and at its close, lie down to die
in this cave, like the old goat.
As I went home I was struck by the sight of some smoke, which
came from a fire no more than two miles off. From this time I
lost all my peace of mind. Day and night a dread would haunt me,
that the men who had made this fire would find me out. I went
home and drew up my steps, but first I made all things round me
look wild and rude. To load my gun was the next thing to do, and
I thought it would be best to stay at home and hide.
But this was not to be borne long. I had no spy to send out and
all I could do was to get to the top of the hill, and keep a good
look out. At last, through my glass, I could see a group of wild
men join in a dance round their fire. As soon a they had left, I
took two guns, and slung a sword on my side; then with all speed,
I set off to the top of the hill, once more to have a good view.
This time I made up my mind to go up to the men, but not with a
view to kill them, for I felt that it would be wrong to do so.
With such a load of arms, it took me two hours to reach the spot
where the fire was; and by the time I got there, the men had all
gone; but I saw them in four boats out at sea.
Down on the shore, there was a proof of what the work of these
men had been. The signs of their feast made me sick at heart, and
I shut my eyes. I durst not fire my gun when I went out for food
on that side the isle, lest there should be some of the men left,
who might hear it, and so find me out. This state of things went
on for a year and three months, and for all that time I saw no
On the twelfth of May, a great storm of wind blew all day and
night. As it was dark, I sat in my house; and in the midst of the
gale, I heard a gun fire! My guess was that it must have been
from some ship cast on shore by the storm. So I set a light to
some wood on top of the hill, that those in the ship, if ship it
should be, might know that some one was there to aid them. I then
heard two more guns fire. When it was light, I went to the South
side of the isle, and there lay the wreck of a ship, cast on the
rocks in the night by the storm. She was too far off for me to
see if there were men on board.
Words could not tell how much I did long to bring but one of the
ship's crew to the shore! So strong was my wish to save the life
of those on board, that I could have laid down my own life to do
so. There are some springs in the heart which, when hope stirs
them, drive the soul on with such a force, that to lose all
chance of the thing one hopes for, would seem to make one mad;
and thus was it with me.
Now, I thought, was the time to use my boat; so I set to work at
once to fit it out. I took on board some rum (of which I still
had a good deal left), some dry grapes, a bag of rice, some
goat's milk, and cheese, and then put out to sea. A dread came on
me at the thought of the risk I had run on the same rocks; but my
heart did not quite fail me, though I knew that, as my boat was
small, if a gale of wind should spring up, all would be lost.
Then I found that I must go back to the shore till the tide
should turn, and the ebb come on.
I made up my mind to go out the next day with the high tide, so I
slept that night in my boat. At dawn I set out to sea, and in
less than two hours I came up to the wreck. What a scene was
there! The ship had struck on two rocks. The stern was torn by
the force of the waves, the masts were swept off, ropes and
chains lay strewn on the deck, and all was wrapt in gloom. As I
came up to the wreck, a dog swam to me with a yelp and a whine.
I took him on board my boat, and when I gave him some bread he
ate it like a wolf, and as to drink, he would have burst, if I
had let him take his fill of it.
I went to the cook's room, where I found two men, but they were
both dead. The tongue was mute, the ear was deaf, the eye was
shut, and the lip was stiff; still the sad tale was told, for
each had his arm round his friend's neck, and so they must have
sat to wait for death. What a change had come on the scene, once
so wild with the lash of the waves and the roar of the wind! All
was calm now--death had done its work, and all had felt its
stroke, save the dog, and he was the one thing that still had
I thought the ship must have come from Spain, and there was much
gold on board. I took some of the chests and put them in my boat,
but did not wait to see what they held, and with this spoil, and
three casks of rum, I came back.
I found all things at home just as I had left them, my goats, my
cats, and my bird. The scene in the cook's room was in my mind
day and night, and to cheer me up I drank some of the rum. I then
set to work to bring my freight from the shore, where I had left
it. In the chests were two great bags of gold, and some bars of
the same, and near these lay three small flasks and three bags of
shot which were a great prize.
From this time, all went well with me for two years; but it was
not to last. One day, as I stood on the hill, I saw six boats on
the shore! What could this mean?
Where were the men who had brought them? And what had they come
for? I saw through my glass that there were a score and a half,
at least, on the east side of the isle. They had meat on the
fire, round which I could see them dance. They then took a man
from one of the boats, who was bound hand and foot; but when they
came to loose his bonds, he set off as fast as his feet would
take him, and in a straight line to my house.
To tell the truth, when I saw all the rest of the men run to
catch him, my hair stood on end with fright. In the creek, he
swam like a fish, and the plunge which he took brought him
through it in a few strokes. All the men now gave up the chase
but two, and they swam through the creek, but by no means so fast
as the slave had done. Now, I thought, was the time for me to
help the poor man, and my heart told me it would be right to do
so. I ran down my steps with my two guns, and went with all speed
up the hill, and then down by a short cut to meet them.
I gave a sign to the poor slave to come to me, and at the same
time went up to meet the two men, who were in chase of him. I
made a rush at the first of these, to knock him down with the
stock of my gun, and he fell. I saw the one who was left, aim at
me with his bow, so, to save my life, I shot him dead.
The smoke and noise from my gun, gave the poor slave who had been
bound, such a shock, that he stood still on the spot, as if he
had been in a trance. I gave a loud shout for him to come to me,
and I took care to show him that I was a friend, and made all the
signs I could think of to coax him up to me. At length he came,
knelt down to kiss the ground, and then took hold of my foot, and
set it on his head. All this meant that he was my slave; and I
bade him rise, and made much of him.
But there was more work to be done yet; for the man who had had
the blow from my gun was not dead. I made a sign for my slave (as
I shall now call him) to look at him. At this he spoke to me, and
though I could not make out what he said, yet it gave me a shock
of joy; for it was the first sound of a man's voice that I had
heard, for all the years I had been on the isle.
The man whom I had struck with the stock of my gun, sat up; and
my slave, who was in great fear of him, made signs for me to lend
him my sword, which hung in a belt at my side. With this he ran
up to the man, and with one stroke cut off his head. When he had
done this, he brought me back my sword with a laugh, and put it
down in front of me. I did not like to see the glee with which he
did it, and I did not feel that my own life was quite safe with
such a man.
He, in his turn, could but lift up his large brown hands with
awe, to think that I had put his foe to death, while I stood so
far from him. But as to the sword, he and the rest of his tribe
made use of swords of wood, and this was why he knew so well how
to wield mine. He made signs to me to let him go and see the man
who had been shot; and he gave him a turn round, first on this
side, then on that; and when he saw the wound made in his breast
by the shot, he stood quite, still once more, as if he had lost
his wits. I made signs for him to come back, for my fears told me
that the rest of the men might come in search of their friends.
I did not like to take my slave to my house, nor to my cave; so I
threw down some straw from the rice plant for him to sleep on,
and gave him some bread and a bunch of dry grapes to eat. He was
a fine man, with straight strong limbs, tall, and young. His hair
was thick, like wool, and black. His head was large and high; and
he had bright black eyes. He was of a dark brown hue; his face
was round, and his nose small, but not flat; he had a good mouth
with thin lips, with which he could give a soft smile; and his
teeth were as white as snow.
I had been to milk my goats in the field close by, and when he
saw me, he ran to me, and lay down on the ground to show me his
thanks. He then put his head on the ground, and set my foot on
his head, as he had done at first. He took all the means he could
think of, to let me know that he would serve me all his life; and
I gave a sign to show that I thought well of him. The next thing
was to think of some name to call him by. I chose that of the
sixth day of the week (Friday), as he came to me on that day. I
took care not to lose sight of him all that night, and when the
sun rose, I made signs for him to come to me, that I might give
him some clothes, for he wore none. We then went up to the top of
the hill, to look out for the men; but as we could not see them,
or their boats, it was clear that they had left the isle.
My slave has since told me that they had had a great fight with
the tribe that dwelt next to them; and that all those men whom
each side took in war were their own by right. My slave's foes
had four who fell to their share, of whom he was one.
I now set to work to make my man a cap of hare's skin, and gave
him a goat's skin to wear round his waist. It was a great source
of pride to him, to find that his clothes were as good as my own.
At night, I kept my guns, sword, and bow close to my side; but
there was no need for this, as my slave was, in sooth, most true
to me. He did all that he was set to do, with his whole heart in
the work; and I knew that he would lay down his life to save
mine. What could a man do more than that? And oh, the joy to have
him here to cheer me in this lone isle!
I did my best to teach him, so like a child as he was, to do and
feel all that was right, I found him apt, and full of fun; and he
took great pains to learn all that I could tell him. Our lives
ran on in a calm, smooth way; and, but for the vile feasts which
were held on the shores, I felt no wish to leave the isle.
As my slave had by no means lost his zest for these meals, it
struck me that the best way to cure him, was to let him taste the
flesh of beasts; so I took him with me one day to the wood for
some sport. I saw a she-goat, in the shade, with her two kids. I
caught Friday by the arm, and made signs to him not to stir, and
then shot one of the kids; but the noise of the gun gave the poor
man a great shock. He did not see the kid, nor did he know that
it was dead. He tore his dress off his breast to feel if there
was a wound there; then he knelt down to me, and took hold of my
knees to pray of me not to kill him.
To show poor Friday that his life was quite safe, I led him by
the hand, and told him to fetch the kid. By and by, I saw a hawk
in a tree, so I bade him look at the gun, the hawk, and the
ground; and then I shot the bird. But my poor slave gave still
more signs of fear this time, than he did at first: for he shook
from head to foot. He must have thought that some fiend of death
dwelt in the gun, and I think that he would have knelt down to
it, as well as to me; but he would not so much as touch the gun
for some time, though he would speak to it when he thought I was
not near. Once he told me that what he said to it was to ask it
not to kill him.
I brought home the bird, and made broth of it. Friday was much
struck to see me eat salt with it, and made a wry face; but I, in
my turn, took some that had no salt with it, and I made a wry
face at that. The next day I gave him a piece of kid's flesh,
which I had hung by a string in front of the fire to roast. My
plan was to put two poles, one on each side of the fire, and a
stick, on the top of them to hold the string. When my slave came
to taste the flesh, he took the best means to let me know how
good he thought it.
The next day I set him to beat out and sift some corn. I let him
see me make the bread, and he soon did all the work. I felt quite
a love for his true, warm heart, and he soon learnt to talk to
me. One day I said, "Do the men of your tribe win in fight?" He
told me, with a smile, that they did. "Well, then," said I, "How
came they to let their foes take you?"
"They run one, two, three, and make go in the boat that time."
"Well, and what do the men do with those they take?"
"Eat them all up."
This was not good news for me, but I went on, and said, "Where do
they take them?"
"Go to next place where they think."
"Do they come here?"
"Yes, yes, they come here, come else place too."
"Have you been here with them twice?"
"Yes, come there."
He meant the North West side of the isle, so to this spot I took
him the next day. He knew the place, and told me he was there
once with a score of men. To let me know this, he put a score of
stones all of a row, and made me count them.
"Are not the boats lost on your shore now and then?" He said that
there was no fear, and that no boats were lost. He told me that
up a great way by the moon--that is where the moon then came
up--there dwelt a tribe of white men like me, with beards. I felt
sure that they must have come from Spain, to work the gold mines.
I put this to him: "Could I go from this isle and join those
"Yes, yes, you may go in two boats."
It was hard to see how one man could go in two boats, but what he
meant was, a boat twice as large as my own.
One day I said to my slave, "Do you know who made you?"
But he could not tell at all what these words meant. So I said,
"Do you know who made the sea, the ground we tread on, the hills,
and woods?" He said it was Beek, whose home was a great way off,
and that he was so old that the sea and the land were not so old
"If this old man has made all things, why do not all things bow
down to him?"
My slave gave a grave look, and said, "All things say 'O' to
"Where do the men in your land go when they die?"
"All go to Beek."
I then held my hand up to the sky to point to it, and said, "God
dwells there. He made the world, and all things in it. The moon
and the stars are the work of his hand. God sends the wind and
the rain on the earth, and the streams that flow: He hides the
face of the sky with clouds, makes the grass to grow for the
beasts of the field, and herbs for the use of man. God's love
knows no end. When we pray, He draws near to us and hears us."
It was a real joy to my poor slave to hear me talk of these
things. He sat still for a long time, then gave a sigh, and told
me that he would say "O" to Beek no more, for he was but a short
way off, and yet could not hear, till men went up the hill to
speak to him.
"Did you go up the hill to speak to him?" said I.
"No, Okes go up to Beek, not young mans."
"What do Okes say to him?"
"They say 'O.'"
Now that I brought my man Friday to know that Beek was not the
true God, such was the sense he had of my worth, that I had fears
lest I should stand in the place of Beek. I did my best to call
forth his faith in Christ, and make it strong and clear, till at
last--thanks be to the Lord--I brought him to the love of Him,
with the whole grasp of his soul.
To please my poor slave, I gave him a sketch of my whole life; I
told him where I was born, and where I spent my days when a
child. He was glad to hear tales of the land of my birth, and of
the trade which we keep up, in ships, with all parts of the known
world. I gave him a knife and a belt, which made him dance with
One day as we stood on the top of the hill at the east side of
the isle, I saw him fix his eyes on the main land, and stand for
a long time to, gaze at it; then jump and sing, and call out to
"What do you see?" said I.
"Oh joy!" said he, with a fierce glee in his eyes, "Oh glad! There
see my land!"
Why did he strain his eyes to stare at this land, as if he had a
wish to be there? It put fears in my mind which made me feel far,
less at my ease with him. Thought I, if he should go back to his
home, he will think no more of what I have taught him, and done
for him. He will be sure to tell the rest of his tribe all my
ways, and come back with, it may be, scores of them, and kill me,
and then dance round me, as they did round the men, the last time
they came on my isle.
But these were all false fears, though they found a place in my
mind a long while; and I was not so kind to him now as I had
been. From this time I made it a rule, day by day, to find out if
there were grounds for my fears or not. I said, "Do you not wish
to be once more in your own land?"
"Yes! I be much O glad to be at my own land."
"What would you do there? Would you turn wild, and be as you
"No, no, I would tell them to be good, tell them eat bread, corn,
milk, no eat man more!"
"Why, they would kill you!"
"No, no, they no kill; they love learn."
He then told me that some white men, who had come on their shores
in a boat, had taught them a great deal.
"Then will you go back to your land with me?"
He said he could not swim so far, so I told him he should help me
to build a boat to go in. Then he said, "If you go, I go."
"I go? why they would eat me!"
"No, me make them much love you."
Then he told me as well as he could, how kind they had been to
some white men. I brought out the large boat to hear what he
thought of it, but he said it was too small. We then went to look
at the old ship's boat, which, as it had been in the sun for
years, was not at all in a sound state. The poor man made sure
that it would do. But how were we to know this? I told him we
should build a boat as large as that, and that he should go home
in it. He spoke not a word, but was grave and sad.
"What ails you?" said I.
"Why, you grieve mad with your man?"
"What do you mean? I am not cross with you."
"No cross? no cross with me? Why send your man home to his own
"Did you not tell me you would like to go back?"
"Yes, yes, we both there; no wish self there, if you not there!"
"And what should I do there?"
"You do great deal much good! you teach wild men be good men; you
tell them know God, pray God, and lead new life."
We soon set to work to make a boat that would take us both. The
first thing was to look out for some large trees that grew near
the shore, so that we could launch our boat when it was made. My
slave's plan was to burn the wood to make it the right shape; but
as mine was to hew it, I set him to work with my tools; and in
two months' time we had made a good strong boat; but it took a
long while to get her down to the shore.
Friday had the whole charge of her; and, large as she was, he
made her move with ease, and said, "he thought she go there well,
though great blow wind!" He did not know that I meant to make a
mast and sail. I cut down a young fir tree for the mast, and then
I set to work at the sail. It made me laugh to see my man stand
and stare, when he came to watch me sail the boat. But he soon
gave a jump, a laugh, and a clap of the hands when he saw the
sail jibe and fall, first on this side, then on that.
The next thing to do was to stow our boat up in the creek, where
we dug a small dock; and when the tide was low, we made a dam, to
keep out the sea. The time of year had now come for us to set
sail, so we got out all our stores, to put them in the boat.
One day I sent Friday to the shore, to get a sort of herb that
grew there. I soon heard him cry out to me, "O grief! O bad! O
bad! O out there boats, one, two, three!" "Keep a stout heart,"
said I, to cheer him. The poor man shook with fear; for he
thought that the men who brought him here, had now come back to
"Can you fight?" said I.
"Me shoot; but me saw three boats; one, two, three!"
"Have no fear; those that we do not kill, will be sure to take
fright at the sound of our guns. Now will you stand by me, and do
just as you are bid?"
"Me die when you bid die."
I gave him a good draught of rum; and when he had drunk this, he
took up an axe and two guns, each of which had a charge of swan
shot. I took two guns as well, and put large shot in them, and
then hung my great sword by my side. From the top of the bill, I
saw with the help of my glass, that the boats had each brought
eight men, and one slave. They had come on shore near the creek,
where a grove of young trees grew close down to the sea.
They had with them three slaves, bound hand and foot, and you who
read this, may guess what they were brought here for. I felt that
I must try and save them from so hard a fate, and that to do
this, I should have to put some of their foes to death. So we set
forth on our way. I gave Friday strict charge to keep close to
me, and not to fire till I told him to do so.
We went full a mile out of our way, that we might get round to
the wood to bide there. But we had not gone far, when my old
qualms came back to me, and I thought, "Is it for me to dip my
hands in man's blood? Why should I kill those who have done me no
harm, and mean not to hurt me? Nay, who do not so much as know
that they are in the wrong, when they hold these feasts. Are not
their ways a sign that God has left them (with the rest of their
tribe) to their own dull hearts? God did not call me to be a
judge for Him. He who said, 'Thou shalt not kill,' said it for
me, as well as the rest of the world."
A throng of thoughts like these would rush on my mind, as if to
warn me to pause, till I felt sure that there was more to call me
to the work than I then knew of. I took my stand in the wood, to
watch the men at their feast, and then crept on, with Friday
close at my heels. Thus we went till we came to the skirts of
the wood. Then I said to. Friday, "Go up to the top of that tree,
and bring me word if you can see the men."
He went, and quick as thought, came back to say that they were
all round the fire, and that the man who was bound on the sand
would be the next they would kill. But when he told me that it
was a white man, one of my own race, I felt the blood boil in my
veins. Two of the gang had gone to loose the white man from his
bonds; so now was the time to fire.
At the sound of our guns, we saw all the men jump up from the
ground where they sat. It must have been the first gun the I had
heard in their lives. They knew not which way to look. I now
threw down my piece, and took up a small gun; Friday did the
same; and I gave him the word to fire! The men ran right and
left, with yells and screams.
I now made a rush out of the wood, that they might see me, with
my man Friday at my heels, of course. We gave a loud shout, and
ran up to the white man as fast as we could. There he lay on the
hot sand. I cut the flag, or rush, by which he was bound, but he
was too weak to stand or speak, so I gave him some rum. He let me
know by all the signs that he could think of, how much he stood
in my debt for all that I had done for him.
I said, "We will talk of that bye and bye; but now we must do
what we can to save our lives." Friday, who was free to go where
he chose, flew here and there, and put all the men to the rout.
They fled in full haste to their boats, and were soon out at sea;
and so we got rid of our foes at last.
The man whom we had found on the sand told us that his name was
Carl, and that he came from Spain. But there was one more man to
claim our care; for the black men had left a small boat on the
sands, and in this I saw a poor wretch who lay half dead. He
could not so much as look up, so tight was he bound, neck and
heels. When I cut the bonds from him he gave a deep groan, for he
thought that all this was but to lead him out to die.
Friday then came up, and I bade him speak to the old man in his
own tongue, and tell him that he was free. This good news gave
him strength, and he sat up in the boat. But when Friday came to
hear him talk, and to look him in the face, it brought the tears
to my eyes to see him kiss and hug the poor old man, and dance
round him with joy, then weep, wring his hands, and beat his own
face and head, and then laugh once more, sing, and leap. For a
long time he could not speak to me, so as to, let me know what
all this meant. But at length he told me that he was the son of
this poor old man, and that his name was Jaf.
It would be a hard task for me to tell of all the quaint, signs
Friday made to show his joy. He went in and out of the boat five
or six times, sat down by old Jaf, and held the poor old man's
head close to his breast to warm it; then he set to work to rub
his arms and feet, which were cold and stiff from the bonds. I
told Friday to give him some rum and bread; but he said, "None!
Bad dog eat all up self." He then ran off straight to the house,
and took no heed of my calls, but went as swift as a deer.
In an hour's time, he came back with a jug in his hand. The good
soul had gone all the way to the house, that Jaf might have a
fresh draught from my well; and with it he brought two cakes,
one of which I bade him take to Carl, who lay in the shade of a
tree. His limbs were stiff and cold, and he was too weak to say a
I set my man to rub his feet with rum, and while he did so, I saw
Friday turn his head round from time to time, to steal a look at
the old man. Then we brought Carl and Jaf home from the boat on
our backs, as they could not walk. The door of my house was at
the top, and the poor sick men could not climb the steps by which
I got in, so we made for them a tent of old sails.
I was now a king of these three men, as well as Lord of the isle;
and I felt proud to say, "They all owe their lives to their king,
and would lay them down for him if he bade them do so." But I did
not think that my reign was so soon to come to an end. The next
thing for us to do was to give Carl and Jaf some food, and to
kill and roast a kid, to which we all four sat down, and I did my
best to cheer them.
Carl in a few days grew quite strong, and I set him to work to
dig some land for seed; for it was clear we should want more corn
now that we had two more mouths to fill. So we put in the ground
all the stock of grain I had, and thus we all four had as much
work as we could do for some time. When the crop grew, and was
ripe, we found we had a good store of grain.
We made a plan that Carl and Jaf should go back to the main land,
to try if they could get some of the white men who had been cast
on shore there, to come and live with us; so they got out the
boat, and took with them two guns and food for eight days. They
were to come back in a week's time, and I bade them hang out a
sign when they came in sight, so that we might know who they
One day, Friday ran up to me in great glee, and said, "They are
back! They are back!" A mile from shore, there was a boat with a
sail, which stood in for the land; but I knew it could not be the
one which our two friends had gone out in, for it was on the
wrong side of the isle for that. I saw too, through my glass, a
ship out at sea. There were twelve men in the boat, three of whom
were bound in chains, and four had fire arms.
Bye and bye, I saw one of the men raise his sword to those who
were in chains, and I felt sure that all was not right. Then I
saw that the three men who had been bound were set free; and when
they had come on shore they lay on the ground, in the shade of a
tree. I was soon at their side, for their looks, so sad and worn,
brought to my mind the first few hours I had spent in this wild
spot, where all to me was wrapt in gloom.
I went up to these men, and said:
"Who are you, Sirs?"
They gave a start at my voice and at my strange dress, and made a
move as if they would fly from me. I said, "Do not fear me, for
it may be that you have a friend at hand, though you do not think
it." "He must be sent from the sky then," said one of them with a
grave look; and he took off his hat to me at the same time. "All
help is from thence, Sir," I said; "but what can I do to aid you?
You look as if you had some load of grief on your breast. I saw
one of the men lift his sword as if to kill you."
The tears ran down the poor man's face, as he said,
"Is this a god, or is it but a man?" "Have no doubt on that
score, Sir," said I, "for a god would not have come with a dress
like this. No, do not fear--nor raise your hopes too high; for
you see but a man, yet one who will do all he can to help you.
Your speech shows me that you come from the same land as I do. I
will do all I can to serve you. Tell me your case." "Our case,
Sir, is too long to you while they who would kill us are so near.
My name is Paul. To be short, Sir, my crew have thrust me out of
my ship, which you see out there, and have left me here to die.
It was as much as I could do to make them sheath their swords,
which you saw were drawn to slay me. They have set me down in
this isle with these two men, my friend here, and the ship's
"Where have they gone?" said I.
"There, in the wood, close by. I fear they may have seen and
heard us. If they have, they will be sure to kill us all."
"Have they fire-arms?"
"They have four guns, one of which is in the boat."
"Well then, leave all to me!"
"There are two of the men," said he, "who are worse than the
rest. All but these I feel sure would go back to work the ship."
I thought it was best to speak out to Paul at once, and I said,
"Now if I save your life, there are two things which you must
do." But he read my thoughts, and said, "If you save my life, you
shall do as you like with me and my ship, and take her where you
I saw that the two men, in whose charge the boat had been left,
had come on shore; so the first thing I did was to send Friday to
fetch from it the oars, the sail, and the gun. And now the ship
might be said to be in our hands. When the time came for the men
to go back to the ship, they were in a great rage; for, as the
boat had now no sail nor oars, they knew not how to get out to
We heard them say that it was a strange sort of isle, for that
sprites had come to the boat, to take off the sails and oars. We
could see them run to and fro, with great rage; then go and sit
in the boat to rest, and then come on shore once more. When they
drew near to us, Paul and Friday would fain have had me fall on
them at once. But my wish was to spare them, and kill as few as I
could. I told two of my men to creep on their hands and feet
close to the ground, so that they might not be seen, and when
they got up to the men, not to fire till I gave the word.
They had not stood thus long, when three of the crew came up to
us. Till now, we had but heard their voice, but when they came so
near as to be seen, Paul and Friday stood up and shot at them.
Two of the men fell dead, and they were the worst of the crew,
and the third ran off. At the sound of the guns I came up, but it
was so dark that the men could not tell if there were three of us
or three score.
It fell out just as I could wish, for I heard the men ask, "To
whom must we yield, and where are they?" Friday told them that
Paul was there with the king of the isle, who had brought with
him a crowd of men! At this one of the crew said, "If Paul will
spare our lives, we will yield." "Then," said Friday, "you shall
know the king's will." Then Paul said to them, "You know my
voice; if you lay down your arms the king will spare your lives!"
They fell on their knees to beg the same of me. I took good care
that they did not see me, but I gave them my word that they
should all live, that I should take four of them to work the
ship, and that the rest would be bound hand and foot, for the
good faith of the four. This was to show them what a stern king I
Of course I soon set them free, and I put them in a way to take
my place on the isle. I told them of all my ways, taught them how
to mind the goats, how to work the farm, and make the bread. I
gave them a house to live in, fire arms, tools, and my two tame
cats, in fact, all but Poll and my gold.
As I sat on the top of the hill, Paul came up to me. He held out
his hand to point to the ship, and with much warmth took me to
his arms, and said, "My dear friend, there is your ship! For she
is all yours, and so are we, and all that is in her."
I cast my eyes to the ship, which rode half a mile off the shore,
at the mouth of the creek, and near the place where I had brought
my rafts to the land. Yes, there she stood, the ship that was to
set me free, and to take me where I might choose to go. She set
her sails to the wind, and her flags threw out their gay stripes
in the breeze. Such a sight was too much for me, and I fell down
faint with joy. Paul then took out a flask which he had brought
for me, and gave me a dram, which I drank, but for a good while I
could not speak to him.
Friday and Paul then went on board the ship, and Paul took charge
of her once more. We did not start that night, but at noon the
next day I left the isle!
That lone isle, where I had spent so great a part of my life--not
much less than thrice ten long years.
When I came back to the dear land of my birth, all was strange
and new to me. I went to my old home at York, but none of my
friends were there, and to my great grief I saw, on the stone at
their grave, the sad tale of their death.
As they had thought, of course, that I was dead, they had not
left me their wealth and lands, so that I stood much in want of
means, for it was but a small sum that I had brought with me from
the isle. But in this time of need, I had the luck to find my
good friend who once took me up at sea. He was now grown too old
for work, and had put his son in the ship in his place. He did
not know me at first, but I was soon brought to his mind when I
told him who I was. I found from him that the land which I had
bought on my way to the isle was now worth much.
As it was a long way off, I felt no wish to go and live there so
I made up my mind to sell it, and in the course of a few months,
I got for it a sum so large as to make me a rich man all at once.
Weeks, months, and years went by; I had a farm, a wife, and two
sons, and was by no means young; but still I could not get rid of
a strong wish which dwelt in my thoughts by day and my dreams by
night, and that was to set foot once more in my old isle.
I had now no need to work for food, or for means of life; all I
had to do was to teach my boys to be wise and good, to live at my
ease, and see my wealth grow day by day. Yet the wish to go back
to my wild haunts clung round me like a cloud, and I could in no
way drive it from me, so true is it that "what is bred in the
bone will not come out of the flesh."
At length I lost my wife, which was a great blow to me, and my
home was now so sad, that I made up my mind to launch out once
more on the broad sea, and go with my man Friday to that lone
isle where dwelt all my hopes.
I took with me as large a store of tools, clothes, and such like
goods as I had room for, and men of skill in all kinds of trades,
to live in the isle. When we set sail, we had a fair wind for
some time, but one night the mate, who was at the watch, told me
he saw a flash of fire, and heard a gun go off. At this we all
ran on deck, from whence we saw a great light, and as there was
no land that way, we knew that it must be some ship on fire at
sea, which could not be far off, for we heard the sound of the
The wind was still fair, so we made our way for the point where
we saw the light, and in half an hour, it was but too plain that
a large ship was on fire in the midst of the broad sea. I gave
the word to fire off five guns, and we then lay by, to wait till
break of day. But in the dead of the night, the ship blew up in
the air, the flames shot forth, and what there was left of the
ship sank. We hung out lights, and our guns kept up a fire all
night long, to let the crew know that there was help at hand.
At eight o'clock the next day we found, by the aid of the glass,
that two of the ship's boats were out at sea, quite full of men.
They had seen us, and had done their best to make us see them,
and in half an hour we came up with them.
It would be a hard task for me to set forth in words the scene
which took place in my ship, when the poor French folk (for such
they were) came on board. As to grief and fear, these are soon
told--sighs, tears, and groans make up the sum of them--but such
a cause of joy as this was, in sooth, too much for them to bear,
weak and all but dead as they were.
Some would send up shouts of joy that rent the sky; some would
cry and wring their hands as if in the depths of grief; some
would dance, laugh, and sing; not a few were dumb, sick, faint,
in a swoon, or half mad; and two or three were seen to give
thanks to God.
In this strange group, there was a young French priest who did
his best to soothe those round him, and I saw him go up to some
of the crew, and say to them, "Why do you scream, and tear your
hair, and wring your hands, my men? Let your joy be free and
full, give it full range and scope, but leave off this trick of
the hands, and lift them up in praise; let your voice swell out,
not in screams, but in hymns of thanks to God, who has brought
you out of so great a strait, for this will add peace to your
The next day, they were all in a right frame of mind, so I gave
them what stores I could spare, and put them on board a ship that
we met with on her way to France, all save five who, with the
priest, had a wish to join me.
But we had not set sail long, when we fell in with a ship that
had been blown out to sea by a storm, and had lost her masts;
and, worse than all, her crew had not had an ounce of meat or
bread for ten days. I gave them all some food, which they ate
like wolves in the snow, but I thought it best to check them, as
I had fears that so much all at once would cause the death of
some of them.
There were a youth and a young girl in the ship who the mate said
he thought must be dead, but he had not had the heart to go near
them, for the food was all gone. I found that they were faint for
the want of it, and as it were in the jaws of death; but in a
short time they both got well, and as they had no wish to go back
to their ship, I took them with me. So now I had eight more on
board my ship, than I had when I first set out.
In three months from the time when I left home, I came in sight
of my isle, and I brought the ship safe up, by the side of the
creek, which was near my old house.
I went up to Friday, to ask if he knew where he was. He took a
look round him, and soon, with a clap of the hands, said "O yes!
O there! O yes! O there!" Bye and bye, he set up a dance with
such wild glee, that it was as much as I could do to keep him on
deck. "Well, what think you, Friday?" said I; "shall we find
those whom we left still here?--Shall we see poor old Jaf?" He
stood quite mute for a while, but when I spoke of old Jaf (whose
son Friday was), the tears ran down his face, and the poor soul
was as sad as could be. "No, no," said he, "no more, no, no
As we caught sight of some men at the top of the hill, I gave
word to fire three guns, to show that we were friends, and soon
we saw smoke rise from the side of the creek. I then went on
shore in a boat, with the priest and Friday, and hung out a white
flag of peace. The first man I cast my eyes on at the creek, was
my old friend Carl, who, when I was last on the isle, had been
brought here in bonds.
I gave strict charge to the men in the boat not to go on shore,
but Friday could not be kept back, for with his quick eye he had
caught sight of old Jaf. It brought the tears to our eyes to see
his joy when he met the old man. He gave him a kiss, took him up
in his arms, set him down in the shade, then stood a short way
off to look at him, as one would look at a work of art, then felt
him with his hand, and all this time he was in full talk, and
told him, one by one, all the strange tales of what he had seen
since they had last met.
As to my friend Carl, he came up to me, and with much warmth
shook my hands, and then took me to my old house, which he now
gave up to me. I could no more have found the place, than if I
had not been there at all. The rows of trees stood so thick and
close, that the house could not be got at, save by such blind
ways as none but those who made them could find out. "Why have
you built all these forts?" said I. Carl told me that he felt
sure I should say there was much need of them, when I heard how
they had spent their time since they had come to the isle.
He brought twelve men to the spot where I stood, and said, "Sir,
all these men owe their lives to you." Then, one by one, they
came up to me, not as if they had been the mere crew of a ship,
but like men of rank who had come to kiss the hand of their king.
The first thing was to bear all that had been done in the isle
since I had left it. But I must first state that, when we were on
the point to set sail from the isle, a feud sprang up on board
our ship, which we could not put down, till we had laid two of
the men in chains. The next day, these two men stole each of them
a gun and some small arms, and took the ship's boat, and ran off
with it to join the three bad men on shore.
As soon as I found this out, I sent the long-boat on shore, with
twelve men and the mate, and off they went to seek the two who
had left the ship. But their search was in vain, nor could they
find one of the rest, for they had all fled to the woods when
they saw the boat. We had now lost five of the crew, but the
three first were so much worse than the last two, that in a few
days they sent them out of doors, and would have no more to do
with them, nor would they for a long while give them food to eat.
So the two poor men had to live as well as they could by hard
work, and they set up their tents on the north shore of the isle,
to be out of the way of the wild men, who were wont to land on
the east side. Here they built them two huts, one to lodge in,
and one to lay up their stores in; and the men from Spain gave
them some corn for seed, as well as some peas which I had left
them. They soon learned to dig, and plant, and hedge in their
land, in the mode which I had set for them, and in short, to lead
good lives, so that I shall now call them the "two good men."
But when the three bad men saw, this, they were full of spite,
and came one day to tease and vex them. They told them that the
isle was their own, and that no one else had a right to build on
it, if they did not pay rent. The two good men thought at first
that they were in jest, and told them to come and sit down, and
see what fine homes they had built, and say what rent they would
But one of the three said they should soon see that they were not
in jest, and took a torch in his hand, and put it to the roof of
the but, and would have set it on fire, had not one of the two
good men trod the fire out with his feet. The bad man was in such
a rage at this, that he ran at him with a pole he had in his
hand, and this brought on a fight, the end of which was that the
three men had to stand off. But in a short time they came back,
and trod down the corn, and shot the goats and young kids, which
the poor men had got to bring up tame for their store.
One day when the two men were out, they came to their home, and
said, "Ha! there's the nest, but the birds are flown." They then
set to work to pull down both the huts, and left not a stick, nor
scarce a sign on the ground to show where the tents had stood.
They tore up, too, all the goods and stock that they could find,
and when they had done this, they told it all to the men of
Spain, and said, "You, sirs, shall have the same sauce, if you do
not mend your ways."
They then fell to blows and hard words, but Carl had them bound
in cords, and took their arms from them. The men of Spain then
said they would do them no harm, and if they would live at peace
they would help them, and that they should live with them as they
had done till that time, but they could not give them back their
arms for three or four months.
One night Carl--whom I shall call "the chief," as he took the
lead of all the rest--felt a great weight on his mind, and could
get no sleep, though he was quite well in health. He lay still
for some time, but as he, did not feel at case, he got up, and
took a look out. But as it was too dark to see far, and he heard
no noise, he went back to his bed. Still it was all one, he could
not sleep; and though he knew not why, his thoughts would give
him no rest.
He then woke up one of his friends, and told him how it had been
with him. "Say you so?" said he "What if there should be some bad
plot at work near us!" They then set off to the top of the hill,
where I was wont to go, and from thence they saw the light of a
fire, quite a short way from them, and heard the sounds of men,
not of one or two, but of a great crowd. We need not doubt that
the chief and the man with him now ran back at once, to tell all
the rest what they had seen; and when they heard the news, they
could not be kept close where they were, but must all run out to
see how things stood.
At last they thought that the best thing to do would be, while it
was dark, to send old Jaf out as a spy, to learn who they were,
and what they meant to do. When the old man had been gone an hour
or two, he brought word back that he had been in the midst of the
foes, though they had not seen him, and that they were in two
sets or tribes who were at war, and had come there to fight. And
so it was, for in a short time they heard the noise of the fight,
which went on for two hours, and at the end, with three loud
shouts or screams, they left the isle in their boats. Thus my
friends were set free from all their fears, and saw no more of
their wild foes for some time.
One day a whim took the three bad men that they would go to the
main land, from whence the wild men came, and try if they could
not seize some of them, and bring them home as slaves, so as to
make them do the hard part of their work for them. The chief gave
them all the arms and stores that they could want, and a large
boat to go in, but when they bade them "God speed," no one
thought that they would find their way back to the isle. But lo!
in three weeks and a day, they did in truth come back. One of the
two good men was the first to catch sight of them, and tell the
news to his friends.
The men said that they had found the land in two days, and that
the wild men gave them roots and fish to eat, and were so kind as
to bring down eight slaves to take back with them, three of whom
were men and five were girls. So they gave their good hosts an
axe, an old key, and a knife, and brought off the slaves in their
boat to the isle. As the chief and his friends did not care to
wed the young girls, the five men who had been the crew of Paul's
ship drew lots for choice, so that each had a wife, and the three
men slaves were set to work for the two good men, though there
was not much for them to do.
But one of them ran off to the woods, and they could not hear of
him more. They had good cause to think that he found his way
home, as in three or four weeks some wild men came to the isle,
and when they had had their feast and dance, they went off in two
days' time. So my friends might well fear that if this slave got
safe home, he would be sure to tell the wild men that they were
in the isle, and in what part of it they might be found. And so
it came to pass, for in less than two months, six boats of wild
men, with eight or ten men in each boat, came to the north side
of the isle, where they had not been known to come up to that
The foe had brought their boats to land, not more than a mile
from the tent of the two good men, and it was there that the
slave who had run off had been kept. These men had the good luck
to see the boats when they were a long way off, so that it took
them quite an hour from that time to reach the shore.
My friends now had to think how that hour was to be spent. The
first thing they did was to bind the two slaves that were left,
and to take their wives, and as much of their stores as they
could, to some dark place in the woods. They then sent a third
slave to the chief and his men, to tell them the news, and to ask
They had not gone far in the woods, when they saw, to their great
grief and rage, that their huts were in flames, and that the wild
men ran to and fro, like beasts in search of prey. But still our
men went on, and did not halt, till they came to a thick part of
the wood, where the large trunk of an old tree stood, and in this
tree they both took their post. But they had not been there long,
when two of the wild men ran that way, and they saw three more,
and then five more, who all ran the same way, as if they knew
where they were.
Our two poor men made up their minds to let the first two pass,
and then take the three and the five in line, as they came up,
but to fire at one at a time, as the first shot might chance to
hit all three.
So the man who was to fire put three or four balls in his gun,
and from a hole in the tree, took a sure aim, and stood still
till the three wild men came so near that he could not miss them.
They soon saw that one of these three was the slave that had fled
from them, as they both knew him well, and they made up their
minds that they would kill him, though they should both fire.
At the first shot two of the wild men fell dead, and the third
had a graze on his arm, and though not much hurt, sat down on the
ground with loud screams and yells. When the five men who came
next, heard the sound of the gun and the slave's cries, they
stood still at first, as if they were struck dumb with fright. So
our two men both shot off their guns in the midst of them, and
then ran up and bound them safe with cords.
They then went to the thick part of the wood, where they had put
their wives and slaves, to see if all were safe there, and to
their joy they found that though the wild men had been quite near
them, they had not found them out. While they were here, the
chief and his men came up, and told them that the rest had gone
to take care of my old house and grove, in case the troop of wild
men should spread so far that way.
They then went back to the burnt huts, and when they came in
sight of the shore, they found that their foes had all gone out
to sea. So they set to work to build up their huts, and as all
the men in the isle lent them their aid, they were soon in a way
to thrive once more. For five or six months they saw no more of
the wild men. But one day a large fleet of more than a score of
boats came in sight, full of men who had bows, darts, clubs,
swords, and such like arms of war, and our friends were all in
As they came at dusk, and at the East side of the isle, our men
had the whole night to think of what they should do. And as they
knew that the most safe way was to hide and lie in wait, they
first of all took down the huts which were built for the two good
men, and drove their goats to the cave, for they thought the wild
men would go straight there as soon as it was day, and play the
The next day they took up their post with all their force at the
wood, near the home of the two men, to wait for the foe. They
gave no guns to the slaves, but each of them had a long staff
with a spike at the end of it, and by his side an axe. There were
two of the wives who could not be kept back, but would go out and
fight with bows and darts.
The wild men came on with a bold and fierce mien, not in a line,
but all in crowds here and there, to the point were our men lay
in wait for them. When they were so near as to be in range of the
guns, our men shot at them right and left with five or six balls
in each charge. As the foe came up in close crowds, they fell
dead on all sides, and most of those that they did not kill were
much hurt, so that great fear and dread came on them all.
Our men then fell on them from three points with the butt end of
their guns, swords, and staves, and did their work so well that
the wild men set up a loud shriek, and flew for their lives to
the woods and hills, with all the speed that fear and swift feet
could help them to do. As our men did not care to chase them,
they got to the shore where they had come to land and where the
But their rout was not yet at an end, for it blew a great storm
that day from the sea, so that they could not put off. And as the
storm went on all that night, when the tide came up, the surge of
the sea drove most of their boats so high on the shore, that they
could not be got off save with great toil, and the force of the
waves on the beach broke some of them to bits.
At break of day, our men went forth to find them, and when they
saw the state of things, they got some dry wood from a dead tree,
and set their boats on fire. When the foe saw this, they ran all
through the isle with loud cries, as if they were mad, so that
our men did not know at first what to do with them, for they trod
all the corn down with their feet, and tore up the vines just as
the grapes were ripe, and did a great deal of harm.
At last they brought old Jaf to them, to tell them how kind they
would be to them, that they would save their lives, and give them
part of the isle to live in, if they would keep in their own
bounds, and that they should have corn to plant, and should make
it grow for their bread. They were but too glad to have such good
terms of peace, and they soon learnt to make all kinds of work
with canes, wood, and sticks, such as chairs, stools, and beds,
and this they did with great skill when they were once taught.
From this time till I came back to the isle my friends saw no
more wild men. I now told the chief that I had not come to take
off his men, but to bring more, and to give them all such things
as they would want to guard their homes from foes, and cheer up
The next day I made a grand feast for them all, and the ship's
cook and mate came on shore to dress it. We brought out our
rounds of salt beef and pork, a bowl of punch, some beer, and
French wines; and Carl gave the cooks five whole kids to roast,
three of which were sent to the crew on board ship, that they, on
their part, might feast on fresh meat from shore.
I gave each of the men a shirt, a coat, a hat, and a pair of
shoes, and I need not say how glad they were to meet with gifts
so new to them. Then I brought out the tools, of which each man
had a spade, a rake, an axe, a crow, a saw, a knife and such like
things as well as arms, and all that they could want for the use
As I saw there was a kind will on all sides, I now took on shore
the youth and the maid whom we had brought from the ship that we
met on her way to France. The girl had been well brought up, and
all the crew had a good word for her. As they both had a wish to
be left on the isle, I gave them each a plot of ground, on which
they had tents and barns built.
I had brought out with me five men to live here, one of whom
could turn his hand to all sorts of things, so I gave him the
name of "Jack of all Trades."
One day the French priest came to ask if I would leave my man
Friday here, for through him, he said, he could talk to the black
men in their own tongue, and teach them the things of God. "Need
I add," said he, "that it was for this cause that I came here?" I
felt that I could not part with my man Friday for the whole
world, so I told the priest that if I could have made up my mind
to leave him here, I was quite sure that Friday would not part
When I had seen that all things were in a good state on the isle,
I set to work to put my ship to rights, to go home once more. One
day, as I was on my way to it, the youth whom I had brought from
the ship that was burnt, came up to me, and said, "Sir, you have
brought a priest with you, and while you are here, we want him to
wed two of us."
I made a guess that one of these must be the maid that I had
brought to the isle, and that it was the wish of the young man to
make her his wife. I spoke to him with some warmth in my tone,
and bade him turn it well in his mind first, as the girl was not
in the same rank of life as he had been brought up in. But he
said, with a smile, that I had made a wrong guess, for it was
"Jack of all Trades" that he had come to plead for. It gave me
great joy to hear this, as the maid was as good a girl as could
be, and I thought well of Jack; so on that day I gave her to him.
They were to have a large piece of ground to grow their crops on,
with a house to live in, and sheds for their goats.
The isle was now set out in this way: all the west end was left
waste, so that if the wild men should land on it, they might come
and go, and hurt no one. My old house I gave to the chief, with
all its woods, which now spread out as far as the creek, and the
south end was for the white men and their wives.
It struck me that there was one gift which I had not thought of,
and that was the book of God's Word, which I knew would give to
those who could feel the words in it, fresh strength for their
work, and grace to bear the ills of life.
Now that I had been in the isle quite a month, I once more set
sail on the fifth day of May; and all my friends told me that
they should stay there till I came to fetch them.
When we had been out three days, though the sea was smooth and
calm, we saw that it was quite black on the land side; and as we
knew not what to make of it, I sent the chief mate up the main
mast to find out with his glass what it could be. He said it was
a fleet of scores and scores of small boats, full of wild men who
came fast at us with fierce looks.
As soon as we got near them, I gave word to furl all sails and
stop the ship, and as there was nought to fear from them but
fire, to get the boats out and man them both well, and so wait
for them to come up.
In this way we lay by for them, and in a short time they came up
with us; but as I thought they would try to row round and so
close us in, I told the men in the boats not to let them come too
near. This, though we did not mean it, brought us to a fight with
them, and they shot a cloud of darts at our boats. We did not
fire at them, yet in half an hour they went back out to sea, and
then came straight to us, till we were so near that they could
hear us speak.
I bade my men keep close, so as to be safe from their darts if
they should shoot, and get out the guns. I then sent Friday on
deck, to call out to them in their own tongue and ask what they
meant. It may be that they did not know what he said, but as soon
as he spoke to them I heard him cry out that they would shoot.
This was too true, for they let fly a thick cloud of darts, and
to my great grief poor Friday fell dead, for there was no one
else in their sight. He was shot with three darts, and three more
fell quite near him, so good was their aim.
I was so mad with rage at the loss of my dear Friday, that I bade
the men load five guns with small shot, and four with large, and
we gave them such a fierce fire that in all their lives they
could not have seen one like it. Then a rare scene met our eyes:
dread and fear came on them all, for their boats, which were
small, were split and sunk--three or four by one shot. The men
who were not dead had to swim, and those who had wounds were left
to sink, for all the rest got off as fast as they could. Our boat
took up one poor man who had to swim for his life, when the rest
had fled for the space of half an hour. In three hours' time, we
could not see more than three or four of their boats, and as a
breeze sprang up we set sail.
At first the man whom we took on board would not eat or speak,
and we all had fears lest he should pine to death. But when we
had taught him to say a few words, he told us that his friends--
the wild men-had come out with their kin to have a great fight,
and that all they meant was to make us look at the grand sight.
So it was for this that poor Friday fell! He who had been as
good and true to me as man could be! And now in deep grief I
must take my leave of him.
We went on with a fair wind to All Saints' Bay, and here I found
a sloop that I had brought with me from home, that I might send
men and stores for the use of my friends in the isle. I taught
the mate how to find the place, and when he came back, I found
that he had done so with ease.
One of our crew had a great wish to go with the sloop, and live
on the isle, if the chief would give him land to plant. So I told
him he should go by all means, and gave him the wild man for his
slave. I found, too, that a man who had come with his wife and
child and three slaves, to hide from the king of Spain, would
like to go, if he could have some land there, though he had but a
small stock to take with him; so I put them all on board the
sloop, and saw them safe out of the bay, on their way to the
isle. With them I sent three milch cows, five calves, a horse and
a colt, all of which, as I heard, went safe and sound.
I have now no more to say of my isle, as I had left it for the
last time, but my life in lands no less far from home was not yet
at an end. From the Bay of All Saints we went straight to the
Cape of Good Hope. Here I made up my mind to part from the ship
in which I had come from the Isle, and with two of the crew to
stay on land, and leave the rest to go on their way. I soon made
friends with some men from France, as well as from my own land,
and two Jews, who had come out to the Cape to trade.
As I found that some goods which I had brought with me from home
were worth a great deal, I made a large sum by the sale of them.
When we had been at the Cape of Good Hope for nine months, we
thought that the best thing we could do would be to hire a ship,
and sail to the Spice Isles, to buy cloves, so we got a ship, and
men to work her, and set out. When we had bought and sold our
goods in the course of trade, we came back, and then set out once
more; so that, in short, as we went from port to port, to and
fro, I spent, from first to last, six years in this part of the
At length we thought we would go and seek new scenes where we
could get fresh gains. And a strange set of men we at last fell
in with, as you who read this tale will say when you look at the
print in front of this page.
When we had put on shore, we made friends with a man who got us a
large house, built with canes, and a small kind of hut of the
same near it. It had a high fence of canes round it to keep out
thieves, of whom, it seems, there are not a few in that land. The
name of the town was Ching, and we found that the fair or mart
which was kept there would not be held for three or four months.
So we sent our ship back to the Cape, as we meant to stay in this
part of the world for some time, and go from place to place to
see what sort of a land it was, and then come back to the fair at
We first went to a town which it was well worth our while to see,
and which must have been, as near as I can guess, quite in the
heart of this land. It was built with straight streets which ran
in cross lines.
But I must own, when I came home to the place of my birth, I was
much struck to hear my friends say such fine things of the wealth
and trade of these parts of the world, for I saw and knew that
the men were a mere herd or crowd of mean slaves. What is their
trade to ours, or to that of France and Spain? What are their
ports, with a few junks and barks, to our grand fleets? One of
our large ships of war would sink all their ships, one line of
French troops would beat all their horse, and the same may be
said of their ports, which would not stand for one month such a
siege as we could bring to bear on them.
In three weeks more we came to their chief town. When we had laid
in a large stock of tea, shawls, fans, raw silks, and such like
goods, we set out for the north. As we knew we should run all
kinds of risks on our way, we took with us a strong force to act
as a guard, and to keep us from the wild hordes who rove from
place to place all through the land. Some of our men were Scots,
who had come out to trade here, and had great wealth, and I was
glad to join them, as it was by no means the first time that they
had been here.
We took five guides with us, and we all put our coin in one
purse, to buy food on the way, and to pay the men who took charge
of us. One of us we chose out for our chief, to take the lead in
case we should have to fight for our lives; and when the time
came, we had no small need of him. On the sides of all the roads,
we saw men who made pots, cups, pans, and such like ware, out of
a kind of earth, which is, in fact, the chief trade in this part
of the world.
One thing, the guide said he would show me, that was not to be
seen in all the world else (and this, in good sooth, I could not
sneer at, as I had done at most of the things I had seen here),
and this was a house that was built of a kind of ware, such as
most plates and cups are made of. "How big is it?" said I, "can
we take it on the back of a horse?" "On a horse!" said the guide,
"why, two score of men live in it." He then took us to it, and I
found that it was in truth a large house, built with lath and the
best ware that can be made out of earth. The sun shone hot on the
walls, which were quite white, hard, and smooth as glass, with
forms on them in blue paint. On the walls of the rooms were small
square tiles of the best ware, with red, blue, and green paint of
all shades and hues, in rare forms, done in good taste; and as
they use the same kind of earth to join the tiles with, you could
not see where the tiles met. The floors of the rooms were made of
the same ware, and as strong as those we have at home; and the
same may be said of the roofs, but they were of a dark shade. If
we had had more time to spare, I should have been glad to have
seen more of this house, for there were the ponds for the fish,
the walks, the yards, and courts, which were all made in the same
way. This odd sight kept me from my friends for two hours, and
when I had come up to them, I had to pay a fine to our chief, as
they had to wait so long.
In two days more we came to the Great Wall, which was made as a
fort to keep the whole land safe,--and a great work it is. It
goes in a long track for miles and miles, where the rocks are so
high and steep that no foe could climb them; or, if they did, no
wall could stop them. The Great Wall is as thick as it is high,
and it turns and winds in all sorts of ways.
We now saw, for the first time, some troops of the hordes I spoke
of, who rove from place to place, to rob and kill all whom they
meet with. They know no real mode of war, or skill in fight. Each
has a poor lean horse, which is not fit to do good work. Our
chief gave some of us leave to go out and hunt as they call it,
and what was it but to hunt sheep! These sheep are wild and swift
of foot, but they will not run far, and you are sure of sport
when you start in the chase. They go in flocks of a score, or
two, and like true sheep, keep close when they fly. In this sort
of chase it was our hap to meet with some two score of the wild
hordes, but what sort of prey they had come to hunt I know not.
As soon as they saw us, one of them blew some loud notes on a
kind of horn, with a sound that was quite new to me. We all
thought this was to call their friends round them, and so it was,
for in a short time a fresh troop of the same size came to join
them; and they were all, as far as we could judge, a mile off.
One of the Scots was with us, and as soon as he heard the horn,
he told us that we must lose no time, but draw up in line, and
charge them at once. We told him we would, if he would take the
They stood still, and cast a wild gaze at us, like a mere crowd,
drawn up in no line; but as soon as they saw us come at them,
they let fly their darts, which did not hit us, for though their
aim was true, they fell short of us. We now came to a halt to
fire at them, and then went at full speed to fall on them sword
in hand, for so the bold Scot that led us, told us to do.
As soon as we came up to them, they fled right and left. The sole
stand made was by three of them, who had a kind of short sword in
their hands, and bows on their backs, and who did all they could
to call all the rest back to them. The brave Scot rode close up
to them, and with his gun threw one off his horse, shot the next,
and the third ran off, and this was the end of our fight. All the
bad luck we met with, was that the sheep that we had in chase got
off. We had not a man hurt, but as for the foe, five of them were
dead, and not a few had wounds, while the rest fled at the mere
noise of our guns.
Thus we went on our way from town to town, and now and then met
some of these wild hordes, whom we had to fight and I need not
add that each time we had the best of the fray. At last we made
our way to the chief town of the North Seas at the end of a year,
five months and three days, from the time when we left Ching.
When I had been there six weeks, and had bought some more goods;
I took ship and set sail for the land of my birth, which I had
left, this time, for ten years, nine months and three days.
And now I must bring this tale of my life to a close, while at
the age of three score years and twelve, I feel that the day is
at hand, when I shall go forth on that sea of peace and love,
which has no waves or shores but those of bliss that knows no