FOR AMERICAN BOYS
THE ADAPTATION, WITH ADDITIONAL INCIDENTS
SAMUEL B. ALLISON, Ph.D.
I Robinson with His Parents
II Robinson as an Apprentice
III Robinson's Departure
IV Robinson Far from Home
V The Shipwreck
VI Robinson Saved
VII The First Night on Land
VIII Robinson on an Island
IX Robinson's Shelter
X Robinson Makes a Hat
XI Robinson's Calendar
XII Robinson Makes a Hunting Bag
XIII Robinson Explores the Island
XIV Robinson as a Hunter
XV Robinson's Shoes and Parasol
XVI Getting Fire
XVII Robinson Makes Some Furniture
XVIII Robinson Becomes a Shepherd
XIX Robinson Builds a Home for His Goats
XX Robinson Gets Ready for Winter
XXI How Robinson Lays up a Store of Food
XXII Robinson's Diary
XXIII Robinson is Sick
XXIV Robinson's Bower
XXV Robinson Again Explores His Island
XXVI Robinson and His Birds
XXVII Robinson Gets Fire
XXVIII Robinson Makes Baskets
XXIX Robinson Becomes a Farmer
XXX Robinson as Potter
XXXI Robinson as Baker
XXXII Robinson as Fisherman
XXXIII Robinson Builds a Boat
XXXIV Robinson as a Sailor
XXXV A Discovery
XXXVI The Landing of the Savages
XXXVII Robinson as Teacher
XXXVIII Another Shipwreck
XXXIX Saving Things from the Ship
XL The Return of the Savages
XLI Deliverance at Last
XLII Robinson at Home
"An American Robinson Crusoe" is the outcome of many years of
experience with the story in the early grades of elementary schools.
It was written to be used as a content in giving a knowledge of the
beginning and development of human progress. The aim is not just to
furnish an interesting narrative, but one that is true to the course
of human development and the scientific and geographical facts of the
island on which Robinson is supposed to have lived.
The excuse for departing so widely from the original story is to be
found in the use which was desired to be made of it. The story here
presented is simply the free adaptation of the original narrative to
the demand for a specific kind of content in a form which would be
interesting to the children.
The teacher is and should be justified in using with entire freedom
any material accessible for the ends of instruction.
The text as here given has been published with an introduction and
suggestive treatments as a Teacher's Manual for Primary Grades--"The
Teacher's Robinson Crusoe." Explicit directions and ample suggestions
are made for the use of the story as material for instruction in all
the language arts, drawing, social history, and the manual arts.
Published by the Educational Publishing Company.
ROBINSON WITH HIS PARENTS
There once lived in the city of New York, a boy by the name of
Robinson Crusoe. He had a pleasant home. His father and mother were
kind to him and sent him to school. They hoped that he would study
hard and grow up to be a wise and useful man, but he loved rather to
run idle about the street than to go to school. He was fond of playing
along the River Hudson, for he there saw the great ships come and go.
They were as big as houses. He watched them load and unload their
cargoes and hundreds of people get off and on. His father had told
him that the ships came from far distant lands, where lived many large
animals and black men. His father told him too, that in these faraway
countries the nuts on the trees grew to be as large as one's head and
that the trees were as high as church steeples.
When Robinson saw the ships put out to sea, he would watch them till
they would disappear below the horizon far out in the ocean, and
think, "Oh, if I could only go with them far away to see those strange
countries!" Thus he would linger along the great river and wish he
might find an opportunity of making a voyage. Often it would be dark
before he would get home. When he came into the house his mother would
meet him and say in a gentle voice, "Why, Robinson, how late you are
in getting home! You have been to the river again."
[Illustration: ROBINSON WATCHING THE SHIPS]
Then Robinson would hang his head and feel deeply ashamed, and when
his father, who was a merchant, came home from the store, his mother
would tell him that Robinson had again been truant.
This would grieve his father deeply and he would go to the boy's
bedside and talk earnestly with him. "Why do you do so?" he would say.
"How often have I told you to go to school every day?" This would for
a time win Robinson back to school, but by the next week it had been
forgotten and he would again be loitering along the river in spite
of his father's remonstrances.
ROBINSON AS AN APPRENTICE
In this way one year after another slipped by. Robinson was not more
diligent. He was now almost sixteen years old and had not learned
anything. Then came his birthday. In the afternoon his father called
him into his room. Robinson opened the door softly. There sat his
father with a sad face. He looked up and said, "Well, Robinson, all
your schoolmates have long been busy trying to learn something, so
that they may be able to earn their own living. Paul will be a baker,
Robert a butcher, Martin is learning to be a carpenter, Herman a
tailor, Otto a blacksmith, Fritz is going to high school, because he
is going to be a teacher. Now, you are still doing nothing. This will
not do. From this time on I wish you to think of becoming a merchant.
In the morning you will go with me to the store and begin work. If
you are attentive and skillful, when the time comes you can take up
my business and carry it on. But if you remain careless and continue
to idle about, no one will ever want you and you must starve because
you will never be able to earn a living."
So the next morning Robinson went to the store and began work. He
wrapped up sugar and coffee, he weighed out rice and beans. He sold
meal and salt, and when the dray wagon pulled up at the store, loaded
with new goods, he sprang out quickly and helped to unload it. He
carried in sacks of flour and chests of tea, and rolled in barrels
of coffee and molasses. He also worked some at the desk. He looked
into the account books and saw in neat writing, "Goods received" and
"Goods sold." He noticed how his father wrote letters and reckoned
up his accounts. He even took his pen in hand and put the addresses
on the letters and packages as well as he could.
But soon he was back in his careless habits. He was no longer
attentive to business. He wrapped up salt instead of sugar. He put
false weights on the scales. He gave some too much and others too
little. His hands, only, were in the business, his mind was far away
on the ocean with the ships. When he helped unload the wagons, he
would often let the chests and casks drop, so that they were broken
and their contents would run out on the ground. For he was always
thinking, "Where have these casks come from and how beautiful it must
be there!" And many times packages came back because Robinson had
written the name of the place or the country wrong. For when he was
writing the address, he was always thinking, "You will be laid upon
a wagon and will then go into the ship." One day he had to write a
letter to a man far over the sea. He could stand it no longer. His
father had gone out. He threw down the pen, picked up his hat and ran
out to the Hudson to see the ships, and from that time on he spent
more time loitering along the river than he did in the store.
Robinson's father soon noticed that his son was no longer attending
to his work, and one morning sent for him to come to his office. When
Robinson came in his father arose from his chair and looked him long
and earnestly in the face. Then he said, "I am very sorry, Robinson,
that you seem determined to continue your evil ways. If you do not
do better you will grow up to be a beggar or worse." Robinson cast
his eyes down and said, "I do not want to be a merchant, I would rather
sail in a ship around the world." His father answered, "If you do not
know anything you cannot be of use on a ship, and no one will want
you. In a strange land you cannot live without working. If you run
away from your parents you will come to be sorry for it." Robinson
wept, for he saw that his father was right, and he promised to obey.
After two or three weeks, Robinson went to his mother and said,
"Mother, won't you go to father and tell him that if he will only let
me take one voyage and it proves to be unpleasant, I will come back
to the store and work hard?" But the mother cried. With tears in her
eyes, she said: "Robinson, your brothers are both dead. You are the
only child left to us and if you go away, we shall be entirely alone.
How easy it would be to be drowned in the sea, or torn to pieces by
wild animals away there in a foreign country. Both your father and
myself are getting along in years and who will take care of us when
we are sick? Do not cause us the grief we must suffer if you go away
so far amid so many dangers. I cannot bear to have you speak of it
Robinson did not speak of it again, but he did not forget it. He was
nineteen years old. It was one day in August that Robinson stood at
the wharf looking longingly after the departing ships. As he stood
there, someone touched him on the shoulder. It was a ship captain's
son. He pointed to a long ship and said, "My father sails to-day in
that ship for Africa and takes me with him."
"Oh, if I could only go with you!" cried Robinson.
"Do come along," cried his comrade.
"But I have no money," said Robinson.
"That doesn't make any difference," returned the captain's son. "We
will take you anyway."
Robinson, without thinking for a moment, gave his friend his hand and
promised to go with him.
So without saying "Good-bye" to his parents, Robinson went immediately
on board the ship with his friend. This happened on the 10th of
[Illustration: ROBINSON AND THE CAPTAIN'S SON]
ROBINSON FAR FROM HOME
Once on board, Robinson watched the preparations for departure. At
command the sailors clambered up into the rigging and loosened the
sails. Then the captain from his bridge called out, "Hoist the
anchor!" Then the great iron hooks that held the ship fast were lifted
up, a cannon sounded a final farewell. Robinson stood on the deck.
He saw the great city shimmer in the sunshine before him. Very fast
now the land was being left behind. It was not long until all that
could be seen of his native city was the tops of the highest towers.
Then all faded from sight. Behind, in front, right and left, he saw
nothing but waters.
He became a little afraid. At noon there arose a strong wind and the
ship rocked to and fro. He became dizzy and had to hold fast to
something. The masts and rigging began to dance. It seemed to him as
if all was turning around. Suddenly he fell full length on the deck
and it was impossible for him to get up. He was seasick. He wailed
and cried, but no one heard him, no one helped him. Then he thought
of his home, his parents whom he had so ungratefully left.
He had been on the water about two weeks when one day as he lay in
his room, Robinson heard people over his head running about and crying,
"A storm is coming!" The ship's sides trembled and creaked. The ship
was tossed like a nutshell. Now it rolled to the right, now to the
left. And Robinson was thrown from one side to the other. Every moment
he expected the ship to sink. He turned pale and trembled with fear.
"Ah, if I were only at home with my parents, safe on the land," he
said. "If I ever get safe out of this, I will go home as quickly as
I can and stay with my dear parents!" The storm raged the whole day
and the whole night. But on the next morning the wind went down and
the sea was calm. By evening the sky was clear and Robinson was again
cheerful. He ran about the ship. He looked at the glittering stars
and was contented and happy.
Several weeks went by. Robinson had long ago forgotten his resolutions
to return home. It was very hot. The glowing sun beat down upon the
ship. The wide surface of the sea glistened. No breeze stirred. The
sails hung loose on the top of the mast. But far away on the shore
could be seen a black bank of clouds.
All at once the ship was thrown violently to one side by a fierce gust
of wind. Robinson threw himself on the deck. The sea began to rise
and fall. The waves were as high as mountains. Now the ship was borne
aloft to the skies, and now it would seem that it must be overwhelmed
in the sea. When it sank down between the great waves of water,
Robinson thought it would never again rise. The waves beat violently
on the ship's side. Robinson went down the steps into his little room,
but he came back full of anxiety. He believed every minute he would
meet death in the waves. The night at last came on. The lightning
flashed. The storm howled. The ship trembled. The water roared. So
the night wore on. The storm raged for six days. Then on the seventh
day it was somewhat abated. But the hope was soon dashed. The storm
had abated but to get new strength. Suddenly it bore down with frightful
power on the doomed vessel, struck it, and shot it like an arrow
through the water. Then Robinson felt a fearful crash. The ship
groaned as if it would fall into a thousand pieces. It had struck a
rock and there held fast. At the same moment the sailors raised the
cry, "The ship has sprung a leak!" The water surged into the ship.
All called for help. Each one thought only of himself. There was only
one boat. The others had all been torn away. It was soon let down into
the sea. All sprang in. For a moment the sailors forgot the waves,
but all at once a wave, mountains high, struck the boat and swallowed
it up. Robinson shut his eyes. The water roared in his ears. He sank
into the sea.
Robinson was borne down far, far into the ocean. He attempted to work
himself up, so that he could see light and breathe the air. But again
and again the waves carried him down. Finally a wave threw him up and
he saw, for a moment, the light of day and got a breath of air, but
the next instant he was deep under the water. Then another wave bore
him on its crest. He breathed a deep breath and at the same time saw
land not far away. He bent all his strength toward reaching the land.
He got almost to it, when a wave caught him and hurled him on a
jutting rock. With all his strength he seized the rock with both hands
and held on.
Presently he worked himself up a little and at last got a foothold.
But, scarcely had he done so, when his strength left him and he fell
on the ground as one dead. But he soon revived. He opened his eyes
and looked around. He saw above him the blue sky, and under him the
solid brown earth, and before him the gray angry sea. He felt to see
if he still breathed. The storm had destroyed the ship. The waves had
overwhelmed the boat. The water wished to draw him into the deep. The
rocks seemed to want to hurl him back, but storm and wave and rock
had accomplished nothing. There was One who was stronger than they.
Then Robinson sank on his knees and folded his hands. Tears came to
his eyes. He breathed hard. At last he said, "Dear Father in Heaven,
I live. Thou hast saved me. I thank Thee."
THE FIRST NIGHT ON LAND
"Where are my companions?" That was his first thought. He began to
call and halloo: "Where are you?" "Come here!" But no one answered.
Then he wished to see if anyone lived on the land, and he cried, "Is
there no one here? Hello!" but all remained still.
All at once he drew himself together and shrank back. He heard a bush
rustle and the thought came like a flash, "That is a wild animal that
will pounce upon me and tear my flesh with his teeth and claws. How
shall I save myself? Where shall I fly for safety? Where shall I turn?
I have nothing but my clothes and my life saved from the water. All
that I had the waves have swallowed up."
And then hunger and thirst began to trouble him. He had eaten nothing
the whole day and the salt water had made him sick.
In the meantime the night had come on. Robinson was very tired.
Everything was new and strange. He did not know which way to move.
He was in the greatest terror.
He expected to hear the roar of wild beasts from every secluded spot.
Lions and tigers and dreadful serpents filled his thoughts. He must
find shelter from them. But where should he pass the night? Not a
house, a hut or a cave was to be seen. He stood a long time hesitating
and did not know what to do. Finally he thought, "I will do as the
birds do and get into a tree." He very soon found a tree which had
such thick branches that it would hold him up.
Robinson climbed up into the tree, made himself as comfortable as
possible, said his prayers, and as he was thoroughly exhausted, he
soon fell asleep. When he awoke the sun was high in the sky. At first
he could not remember where he was. Then the truth burst upon him.
He tried to move. He was stiff and sore. His flesh was bruised from
being thrown against the rocks and beaten by the waves.
He was dreadfully thirsty. His mouth and throat were dry and parched
from the salt water. His tongue was thick and swollen. He said, "I
must find some water to drink or I shall die!"
It was hard work to get down from the tree. His limbs and back ached
from sitting in the tree all night At last he slipped down and fell
on the ground. He clasped his hands in prayer and thanked God for keeping
him through the night.
Then he got up and tried to walk. He was so weak he could not stand.
He threw himself down on the ground and began to sob and cry, "O Lord,
do not let me die! Do not let me die!" As he lay there he heard a
queer sound. He listened. It sounded like water running over rocks.
He tried to get to the place from which the sound came. He tried to
walk. When he fell he crawled on his hands and knees. At last the sound
was close by. He dragged himself up on the rocks. Yes, there was a
spring of clear, cool, sparkling water bubbling up and trickling over
the stones. Robinson was so thirsty he put his face into the water
and drank and drank.
Then he sat down, and after a while he drank again and again.
After Robinson had satisfied his thirst and rested awhile, he felt
much better. He said, "I must try to walk and see whether I can find
something to eat." He found many kinds of fruits and berries all
around him, but he was afraid to eat them, as they were strange to
him and he feared they might be poisonous.
As he was walking along, all at once he spied a tall plant in the
distance which had a familiar look. It looked like corn. He said to
himself, "I wonder if it can be corn." At last he came near enough
to recognize it. Yes, it was corn. It did not look exactly like the
corn that he saw at home, but still he knew it would be safe to eat
it. He broke off an ear and eagerly ate the kernels raw. Oh, how good
it was! Robinson could not remember anything that tasted half so good.
He ate as much as he wanted and then filled his pockets with ears of
corn for his supper. Then he went back to the spring to get another
ROBINSON ON AN ISLAND
After his hunger and thirst were satisfied, Robinson thought he would
try to find another dwelling place. "My legs are stiff and sore from
sitting so uncomfortably last night, and there is so much danger of
falling," he said. "I will climb yonder hill and look around and see
on which side the houses are. I will find me a stick to help me on
He broke a stick from a dry bush and climbed up the steep sides of
the hill. After a half hour's climb he was on top. What a sight met
his eyes! There were no houses, no huts to be seen, no smoke arose
from the forest, no field could be seen. Nothing but trees and bush,
sand and rock.
"I am then upon an island alone, without food, without shelter,
without weapons! What will become of me?" he cried. "I am a prisoner.
The island is my prison, the waves are the guards which will not allow
me to get away. Will no ship ever come to set me free?"
He stretched his gaze out to the sea till his eyes ached, but he saw
Robinson came down and seated himself on a stone and considered what
he should do. It was not yet noon, yet he feared greatly the next
night. "I must find me a better bed," was his first clear thought.
Robinson saw at a little distance what seemed to be a cleft or an
opening in a huge rock. "If I could only get inside and find room to
stay over night. The rock would protect me from rain, from the wind
and wild animals better than a tree."
He long sought in vain for a place wide enough to allow him to get
into the opening in the rock. He was about to give up, when he seized
hold of a branch of a thorn tree growing on the side of the rock. He
looked closer and saw that it grew out of the cleft in the rock. He
saw, too, that at this point the opening was wider and that he had
only to remove the tree in order to get in. "The hole shall be my
dwelling," he said. "I must get the thorn tree out so that I can have
That was easily said. He had neither axe nor saw, nor knife nor spade.
How could he do it? He had nothing but his hands. He tried to pull
it out by the roots, but in vain. He wasn't strong enough.
"I must dig it out," said Robinson.
He scratched with his nails, but the earth was too hard. What should
he do? He sought a stick with a fork in it and dug in the earth, but
it was slow work. Then he found a clamshell. He did better with it,
but it was hard work, and Robinson was not used to hard work. The
sweat ran down his face and he had often to stop and rest in the
shade. The sun burned so hot and the rock so reflected the heat that
he was all but overcome. But he worked on. When evening came, he would
sleep in the tree and next morning he would go at it again. On the
third day the roots were all laid bare.
But the roots were fast in the clefts of the rock and he could not
loosen it, try ever so hard. What would he not have given for an axe,
or at least a knife. And yet he had never thought of their value when
at home. He attempted to cut one root through with his clam-shell,
but the shell crumbled and would not cut the hard wood.
He stood for a long time thinking, not knowing what next to do. He
made up his mind that he must have something harder than the shell
to cut with. Then he tried a stone with a sharp edge, but soon found
he needed another one, however. He found one. Then he set the sharp
one on the wood and struck it with the heavy one. In this way he slowly
cut the roots in two.
On the fifth day there was yet left one big root, bigger than any of
the others. Robinson got up early in the morning. He worked the whole
day. Finally it gave a crack and it, too, was broken.
Robinson had only now to remove the loose earth inside the cleft. He
found the opening could be made large and roomy. It was choked up with
dirt. He dug out enough to allow him room enough to make a place to
lie down. "In the future," he thought, "I will take out all the dirt
and then I shall be comfortable."
It was then dark and the moon shone bright in the heavens. Robinson
gathered a heap of dry grass and made himself a safe bed. But as he
lay there he saw the moonbeams shining into his cave. He sprang up.
"How easy," he thought, "for wild animals to creep in here upon me."
He crawled out and looked around. Not far from the cave he saw a large
flat stone. With great trouble he rolled it to the opening of his
cave, but before this the morning began to dawn. He went inside the
shelter, seized the stone with both hands and rolled it into the
opening till it almost closed it. "I have now a closed home. I can
again stretch my legs. Wind and rain cannot get at me, nor wild
ROBINSON MAKES A HAT
Refreshed and with renewed strength, Robinson awoke late the next
morning, but he had a bad headache. The day before the hot tropic sun
had beat down on his bare head, as he worked at his cave. He was so
busy that he forgot to go into the shade from time to time in order
to shield himself from the scorching sunshine. He felt a new need.
"I must make me a hat," said Robinson to himself. "But how?" He had
no straw, no thread and no needle. He looked around for a long time,
but found nothing. The sun mounted even higher in the heavens, and
shone hotter and hotter. He went to seek shelter at last in the deep
shade of a nearby tall plant.
As he stood there he examined the plant more carefully. "Out of these
leaves," he said, "I might make a hat." He climbed up the short stem
of the plant and saw that it had not only leaves as long as himself,
but between the leaves were big bunches of long, thin fruit, as thick
as three fingers and similar in shape to a cucumber.
He plucked the leaves and fruit and was about to eat some of the fruit
when he heard near him a light stir as of some animal. He rolled the
leaves and fruit together and hastened back to the cave.
[Illustration: THE BANANA TREE]
The bananas, for that is what the fruit proved to be, were sweet and
refreshing. After he had eaten enough he set immediately about making
his hat. He broke off a couple of reeds. He bent one into a hoop. But
the hoop would not hold without thread. Sometimes it was too large
and sometimes too small. But it must fit his head. He pulled up grass
and bound its ends together, but the grass stalks were not strong enough.
He hunted until he found a tree whose inner bark was soft and came
out in long fibres. He bound his reed with this. This, too, made the
hoop soft so that it did not hurt his head.
When the hoop was ready and fitted to his head he found the banana
leaves could not be used. Their veins ran straight out from the
midrib. This made them easily torn, and besides, they were too large.
They were not the best shape. He saw that leaves about a foot long
with broad and tapering points would be best. He saw too, that if the
leaves had their veins running parallel with the midrib they would
be stronger. He made search and at length found leaves that seemed
made for his purpose. They were thick and leathery and tapered from
base to apex like a triangle.
He now proceeded with his hat-making. He would take a leaf and lay
it on the ground with the base toward him. Then he laid the hoop on
the base of the leaf, wrapped it around the hoop and fastened it with
thorns. He did the same with the other leaves. The thorns were his
pins. At last he pinned the tips of the leaves together at the top
and the hat was ready. It looked just like a big cone, but it kept
out the heat of the sun.
Robinson now had corn and bananas and when he was thirsty he drank
a handful of water from the spring. He had been now nine days on the
island. Every day he looked out on the sea until his eyes ached to
see if he might discover a ship.
He could not understand why no ship came his way. "Who knows how long
I must wait here?" said he sorrowfully. Then the thought came to him:
"You will not be able to keep track of the days unless you write it
The matter of keeping track of time puzzled Robinson very much. It
was getting more difficult every day to keep it in his memory. He must
write down the days as they slip by, but where and how? He had neither
pen, ink, nor paper. Should he mark every day with a colored stone
on the smooth side of the huge rock wall within whose clefts he had
dug out his cave? But the rain would wash off the record and then he
would lose all his bearings. Then he thought of the beach, but there
the wind and waves would soon also erase it.
He thought a long time. "I must find something," he said to himself
on which to keep a record. "I must also know when Sunday is. I must
rest one day in the week. Yes, I must find something," he said, "on
which to write." And finally he found it. He chose two trees standing
near each other and then sought for a small sharp stone, which he could
make still sharper by striking it on another. When he had got this
pen ready he cut into the bark of one tree:
_Shipwreck, Sunday, 10th of September, 1875._
He made seven cuts in a row for the seven days in the week. The first
cut was longer than the others. This was to represent the Sunday. At
sundown every day he made a new cut in the bark.
The other tree he called the month tree. On its stem he was to cut
a mark every time his week tree told him a month had passed. But he
must be careful, for the months were not of equal length. But he remembered
that his teacher had once said in school that the months could be
counted on the knuckles and hollows of the hand, in such a way that
the long and short months could be found easily and he could tell in
this way the number of days in each.
Robinson worked at enlarging his shelter a little every day. He was
sorely at loss to find something in which to carry the dirt away from
the entrance, or enough so that it would not choke up the opening.
A large clam shell was all he could think of at present. He would carry
the dirt to the entrance and some distance away, and then throw it.
Fortunately the ground sloped away rapidly, so that he needed a kind
of platform before his door.
He was careful to open the cleft at some distance above the large
opening. For the air was damp and impure in the shelter. But with the
opening made high above, fresh air was constantly passing into, and
impure air out of, his cave. Light, too, was admitted in this way.
ROBINSON MAKES A HUNTING BAG
Several days passed with Robinson's hat-making and his calendar-making
and his watching the sea. Every day his corn and bananas became more
distasteful to him. And he planned a longer journey about the island
to see if something new to eat could be found.
But he considered that if he went a distance from his cave and found
something it would really be of little use to him. "I could eat my
fill," he said, "but that is all. And by the time I get back to my
cave I will again be hungry. I must find something in which I can
gather and carry food." He found nothing.
"The people in New York," he said, "have baskets, or pockets, or bags
made of coarse cloth. Of them all, I could most easily make the net,
perhaps, of vines. But the little things would fall out of the net.
I will see whether I can make a net of small meshes."
But he soon saw that the vines did not give a smooth surface. He
thought for a long while. In his garden at home his father had
sometimes bound up the young trees with the soft inner bark of others.
He wondered if he could use this. He stripped away the outer bark from
the tree, which before had yielded him a fibre for his hat, and pulled
off the long, smooth pieces of the inner bark. He twisted them
together. Then he thought how he could weave the strands together.
He looked at his shirt. A piece was torn off and unravelled. He could
see the threads go up and down. He saw that some threads go from left
to right (woof), others lengthwise (the warp).
From his study of the woven cloth, Robinson saw he must have a firmer
thread than the strips of bark gave alone. He separated his bark into
long, thin strips. These he twisted into strands or yarn by rolling
between his hands, or on a smooth surface. As he twisted it he wound
it on a stick. It was slow, hard work. Of all his work, the making
of yarn or thread gave him the most trouble. He learned to twist it
by knotting the thread around the spindle or bobbin on which he wound
it and twirling this in the air. He remembered sadly the old spinning
wheel we had seen at his grandmother's house.
His next care was something to hold the threads while he wove them
in and out. He had never seen a loom.
After long study Robinson set two posts in the ground and these he
bound with seventy-two strands horizontally under each other. Then
he tied in the top at the left another thread and wove it in and out
through the seventy-two threads. So he tied seventy-two vertical
strands and wove them in and out. Thus he had a net three times as
long as his foot and as wide as long. He tied the four corners
together. He made a woven handle for it and put it on his shoulder
like a sack, saying gleefully, "This shall be my hunting bag."
[Illustration: ROBINSON'S LOOM]
ROBINSON EXPLORES THE ISLAND
After Robinson made his hunting bag he was anxious to set off on his
journey of exploring the island. So he arose very early next morning.
"Before it is hot," thought he, "I will be quite a distance on my
journey." He ate a couple of bananas, scooped up a few handfuls of
water from the spring, stuck a few ears of corn in his hunting bag,
took his stick in his hand and went forth. As he left his cave the
thought struck him: "What if I could not find my cave again? How can
I manage so that I can come back to it? I will go away in one direction
and return the same way; but suppose I were to lose the way?"
Then he noticed his shadow pointing like a great finger from the sea
toward the land. He could direct himself by that. He kept his shadow
in front of him. He had noticed, too, that the wind always blew north
of the point where the sun rose. This helped him. But sometimes the
wind died down.
He had to climb over many rocks and pierce many thickets. At each step
he saw a rich growth of plants, stems, leaves, flowers, but nothing
to eat, no fruits, or nuts. At length he came to a tree as high as
a small church steeple.
[Illustration: COCOANUT PALM TREE]
Then he thought of what his father had once said about the trees in
strange countries. "Many are as tall as a church steeple and the nuts
are as big as one's head." He looked again. Yes, there they hung among
the leaves, concealed high above in the crown! But _so_ high, it
was well that Robinson had learned to climb while on board the ship.
He quickly laid down his hunting bag and clambered up the smooth stem
of the high tree, a palm. He picked off a nut and threw it down and
then several more, and climbed down again.
But the nuts were very hard. How should he open them? He had brought
along his sharp stone with which he had stripped off the inner bark.
With this he forced off the thick outer shell. But now came the hard
nut within, and how hard it was! Striking it was of no use.
Then he threw a great stone on the nut. The shell was crushed and a
snow-white kernel lay before him. It tasted like almond. With
astonishment Robinson saw in the middle of the nut a large empty space
which must have been filled with fluid as the inside was wet. He
wished that he had the juice to drink, for he was very thirsty. With
this in view, he examined another and riper nut, and the outside came
off more easily. But how could he break it and at the same time save
the juice? He studied the hull of the cocoanut on all sides. At the
ends were three little hollows. He attempted first to bore in with
his fingers, but he could not. "Hold!" he cried. "Maybe I can cut them
there with the point of my stone knife." This was done without trouble
and out of the hole flowed the sweet, white juice.
Robinson put a couple of nuts in his hunting bag, and also the shells
from the broken nuts. "Now," he thought, "I shall no longer have to
drink from my hand." With this thought he went on his way.
As Robinson came to a rock in his path, out jumped what Robinson took
to be a rabbit. He ran after him to catch him, but the rabbit was much
the swifter. So Robinson hastened home, but before he reached it the
stars were shining with their lustrous light. Tired Robinson stretched
his limbs on his bed of grass and leaves and slept soundly.
ROBINSON AS A HUNTER
All the time Robinson was confined to the cave he kept thinking about
the rabbit he had seen and how he might catch one. Finally, he
determined to make a spear. He broke down a thin, young sapling,
stripped off its branches and in one end fastened a sharp stone. He
then went to bed, for he wanted to be up early for his first hunting
trip on the morrow.
With his hunting sack and spear, Robinson began to creep very, very
cautiously through the underbrush. But he did not go far before he
saw a lot of rabbits feeding peacefully on the soft leaves and grass.
He drew back and threw his spear with all his might. But the spear
did not reach the rabbits. It fell far short and the rabbits sprang
up and ran quickly away. He tried it several times with the same result.
Then Robinson, discouraged, turned back home and ate his corn, bananas,
and cocoanuts without meat. In the meantime he found a new kind of
food. He discovered a nest of eggs. How good they tasted to him!
But his longing for meat was still very great. "I will try to make
a bow and arrow," he said. No sooner said than done. He bent a long
piece of tough, young wood and stretched between the ends a cord
twisted out of the fiber taken from the cocoanut shell. He then sought
for a piece of wood for arrows. He split the ends with his flint knife
and fastened in splinters of stone. At the other end he fastened on
some feathers found on the ground. The arrows flew through the air
with great swiftness. "They will go far enough," thought Robinson,
"if I could only hit anything."
He practised shooting. He stuck his stone knife in a tree and shot
at it the whole day long. At first he could not hit it at all. The
arrows flew far from the mark. After a while he could hit the tree,
but not the knife. Then as he practised, his arm grew ever surer, until
at last he could hit the knife at almost every attempt. After a few
days he again went rabbit hunting. He thought that the rabbit did not
offer a mark so high as his knife, so he stuck a stone in the ground
and practised shooting at that. He gradually increased the distance
until he could hit the mark at twenty or thirty yards.
The next morning Robinson took his bow and arrows and went out to
hunt. He aimed at a rabbit, shot, and it fell, pierced by the arrow.
His very first shot was successful.
He hastened up and took the dead rabbit on his shoulder, carried it
to his cave and skinned it. Then he cut off a nice, large piece of
meat and was going to roast it, but alas, he had no fire!
ROBINSON'S SHOES AND PARASOL
The next morning Robinson could not get up. His feet were swollen and
sore in consequence of walking without shoes over thorns and stones.
He must remain the whole day in his cave.
Before him, in the sun, his walking stick stuck in the ground. He
thought how he had been troubled yesterday to find his way and about
the shadow. He had now time to study it. He watched it the whole day
through. In the morning it pointed toward the land. In the evening
toward the sea. This comes from the daily movement of the sun. He
determined to study the matter more carefully.
Robinson got up and with great effort walked to the spring. There he
cooled his burning feet, and gathered some large leaves, which he
bound on them. He decided to remain in his cave a few days, for he
had enough food stored up to last him some length of time. He planned
how he might make himself a pair of shoes. As soon as his feet were
well, he sought out some thick bark and put fastenings of tough, strong
fiber on it. These served very well to protect his feet.
But he must have some further protection from the sun. It beamed so
hot that his hat was not enough. He made a parasol out of leaves like
his hat. He took a straight stick for a handle. He tied some reeds
together and bent them into a hoop. He then fastened the upper end
of the stick in the center of the hoop by means of six reeds which
formed the ribs of the parasol. To keep out the sun he covered this
framework with large, broad leaves. With a cord he tied the stem ends
of the leaves to the stick just above where the reeds were tied.
Spread out, these broad leaves completely covered the ribs. Their tips
reached over the hoop. They were fastened together by means of small,
needle-like fish-bones Robinson had found on the beach.
Now Robinson had heard that savages take two dry pieces of wood and
rub them so long on each other that they at length begin to burn.
He tried it. The sweat ran down his cheeks, but every time the wood
was about to catch fire his strength would give out, and he was
obliged to rest, and when he began again the wood was cold.
"How will it be in winter," he cried, "when it is cold, and I have
no fire?" He must try other ways of preparing meat for his table. He
must think of some other way of getting fire. He remembered that once,
when a boy at home, he had in playing with a stick made it hot by twirling
it on end on a piece of wood. "I will try this," he thought. He
searched for a good hard stick and a piece of wood upon which to turn
or twirl it with his hands. Having found the best materials at hand,
he began to twirl the stick. He made a little hollow in the block of
wood in which to turn his upright stick. There was heat but no fire.
He twirled and twirled, but he could not get the wood hot enough to
blaze up or ignite. He had not skill. Besides his hands were not used
to such rough treatment. Soon they blistered and this method had to
be given up.
"I must have fire," he still thought, and recalled the sparks that
flew from the stone pavements of the streets when the iron shoes of
the horses struck them as they slipped and strained at their cruel
loads. Why may I not get fire by striking together two stones? He
sought out two hard stones and with great diligence kept striking them
together until his strength gave out, and he was obliged again to
He remembered that sometimes travelers put the meat underneath the
saddle and ride on it until it is soft. He tried it with pounding.
He laid some of the meat on a flat stone and pounded it. It became
quite soft and tasted very well. He then tried hanging it in the sun
and finally wrapped it in leaves and buried it for a few hours in the
ROBINSON MAKES SOME FURNITURE
One thing troubled Robinson very much. He could not sit comfortably
while eating. He had neither chair nor table. He wished to make them,
but that was a big job. He had no saw, no hammer, no auger and no
nails. Robinson could not, therefore, make a table of wood.
Not far from his cave he had seen a smooth, flat stone. "Ay," thought
he, "perhaps I can make me a table out of stone." He picked out the
best stone and built up four columns as high as a table and on these
he laid his large, flat stone. It looked like a table, sure enough,
but there were rough places and hollows in it. He wanted it smooth.
He took clay and filled up the holes and smoothed it off. When the
clay dried, the surface was smooth and hard. Robinson covered it with
leaves and decked it with flowers till it was quite beautiful.
When the table was done, Robinson began on a chair, He made it also
of stone. It had no back. It looked like a bench. It was uncomfortable
to sit on. Robinson covered it with moss. Then it was an easy seat.
Table and chair were now ready. Robinson could not move them from one
corner to another, nor when he sat on the chair could he put his feet
under the table, and yet he thought them excellent pieces of
Every day Robinson went hunting and shot a rabbit, but the meat would
not keep. At home they would have put it in the cellar. If only he
had a cellar! He saw near his cave a hole in the rock. He dug it out
a little with his mussel shell and found that it led back under a rock.
From much bending over in digging, Robinson's back, unused to severe
toil, ached wretchedly. He decided to make a spade. With his flint
he bored four holes in a great, round mussel shell. They formed a
rectangle as long as a little finger and as wide. Through these holes
he drew cocoanut fibre and bound the shell to a handle fast and
With his spade he dug a hole so deep that he could stand in it
upright. Then he put in a couple of shelves made of flat stones. In
this cellar he put his rabbit meat and his eggs. Then he laid branches
over it and finally covered the whole with leaves.
ROBINSON BECOMES A SHEPHERD
With his bow and arrow, Robinson went hunting every day. The rabbits
soon learned to know him and let themselves be seldom seen. As soon
as they saw him, they took alarm. They became timid and shy. One day
Robinson went out as usual to shoot rabbits. He found none. But as
he came to a great rock he heard from behind a new sound, one he had
not heard before in the island. Ba-a-a, it sounded.
"A kid," thought Robinson, "like that with which I have so often
played at home."
He slipped noiselessly around the rock and behold, really there stood
a kid. He tried to call it, but the kid sought safety in flight. He
hastened after it. Then he noticed that it was lame in one fore foot.
It ran into some brush, where Robinson seized it by the horns and held
How Robinson rejoiced! He stroked it and fondled it. Then he thought,
how could it come into this wilderness on this lonesome island? "Has
your ship been cast upon the rocks too, and been broken to pieces?
You dear thing, you shall be my comrade." He seized the goat by the
legs, and no matter how it kicked, carried it to his cave.
Then he fetched quickly a cocoanut shell full of water and washed and
bathed the goat's wounded leg. A stone had rolled down from the hill
and had inflicted a severe wound on its left fore leg, or perhaps it
had stepped into a crack in the rocks. Robinson tore off a piece of
linen from his shirt, dipped it in water and bound it with shreds of
the cocoanut upon the wound. Then he pulled some grass and moss and
made a soft bed near the door of the cave. After he had given it
water, it looked at him with thankful eyes and licked his hand.
Robinson could not sleep that night. He thought continually of his
goat and got up time and again to see if it was safe. The moon shone
clear in the heavens. As Robinson sat before the goat's bed he looked
down on his new possession as lovingly as a mother on her child.
The next morning Robinson's first thought was, "I am no longer alone.
I have a companion, my goat." He sprang up and looked for it. There
she lay on her side, still sleeping.
As he stood and considered, the thought came to him that perhaps the
goat had escaped from its keeper. There must then be some one living
on the land. He quickly put on his shoes and his hat, took his
parasol, and ran to the rock where he had found the goat.
He called, he sought, he peered about to see if some shepherd were
there somewhere. He found nothing. He found no trace of man. There
was no road, no bridge, no field, no logs, not even a chip or shaving
to show that the hand of man had been there.
But what was that? In the distance ran a herd of goats over the rocks.
But no dog followed them and no shepherd. They ran wild on the island.
They had perhaps been left there by some ship. As he came home he
noticed the goat sorrowfully. The bandage had become dry. The goat
might be suffering pain. Robinson loosened the bandage, washed the
wound again and bound it up anew. It was so trustful. It ran after
him and he decided always to protect it.
"I will always be your shepherd and take care of you," he said.
ROBINSON BUILDS A HOME FOR HIS GOAT
But the goat was a new care. Wild animals could come and kill and
carry Robinson's goat away while he slept, and if the goat got
frightened while he was hunting it would run away.
"I will have to make me a little yard in front of my cave," he said,
"for my goat to live in." But from whence must come the tools? He had
neither hatchet nor saw. Where then were the stakes to come from? He
went in search of something. After hunting for a long time he came
upon a kind of thistle about two feet higher than himself, having at
its top a red torch-like blossom. There were a great many of them.
"Good!" thought Robinson. "If I could only dig up enough of them and
plant them thick around the door of my cave, I would have just the
thing. No one could get at me, nor at the goat, either, The thorns
would keep anything from creeping through, peeping in or getting
So he took his mussel-shell spade and went to work. It was pretty
hard, but at length he succeeded in laying bare the roots of quite
a number. But he could not drag them to his cave on account of the
thorns sticking in him. He thought a long time. Finally, he sought
out two strong poles or branches which were turned up a little at one
end and like a sled runner. To these he tied twelve cross-pieces with
bark. To the foremost he tied a strong rope made from cocoa fiber.
He then had something that looked much like a sled on which to draw
his thistle-like brush to his cave. But for one day he had done enough.
The transplanting of the thistles was hard work. His spade broke and
he had to make a new one. In the afternoon he broke his spade again.
And as he made his third one, he made up his mind that it was no use
trying to dig with such a weak tool in the hard ground. It would only
"If I only had a pick." But he had none. He found a thick, hard, sharp
stone. With it he picked up the hard earth, but had to bend almost
double in using it. "At home," he thought, "they have handles to
picks." The handle was put through a hole in the iron. He turned the
matter over and over in his mind, how he might put a hole through the
stone. But he found no means. He searched out a branch with a crotch
at one end. He tied the stone to this with strong cocoa fiber and
[Illustration: ROBINSON'S TOOLS]
How his eye glistened as he looked at the new tool! Now he began to
work. He first loosened up the earth with his pick, then he dug it
out with his spade and planted in a high thistle. Many days he had
to work, but finally one evening the hedge was ready. He had a row
in a semicircle in front of his cave. He counted the marks on his calendar
tree. The day on which he had begun to make his hedge he had
especially marked out. He had worked fourteen days.
He had completed his hedge with the exception of a small hole that
must serve for a door. But the door must not be seen from without.
As Robinson thought, it came to him that there was still place for
two thistles on the outside. He could easily get in, but the entrance
was difficult to find from the outside.
Robinson looked on his hedge from without. It was not yet thick
enough. For this reason he planted small thistles between the larger
ones. With the digging them out and transplanting them he was a whole
Finally, the hedge and the yard were ready. Now Robinson could rest
without fear and sleep in his cave, and could have his goat near him
all the time. It delighted him greatly. It ran after him continually
like a dog. When he came back from an absence, it bleated for joy and
ran to meet him as soon as he got inside the hedge. Robinson felt that
he was not entirely alone. He had now a living being near him.
ROBINSON GETS READY FOR WINTER
There was one thing that troubled Robinson greatly. "What will become
of me when the winter comes? I will have no fire to warm me. I have
no clothing to protect me from the cold, and where shall I find food
when snow and ice cover all the ground and when the trees are bare
and the spring is frozen? It will be cold then in my cave; what shall
I do? It is cold and rainy already. I believe this is harvest time
and winter will soon be here. Winter and no stove, no winter clothing,
no winter store of food and no winter dwelling. What shall I do?"
He considered again the project of making fire. He again sought out
two pieces of wood and sat down and rubbed them together. The sweat
rolled down his face. When the wood began to get warm, his hand would
become tired, and he would have to stop. When he began again the wood
was cold. He worked for an hour or two, then he laid the wood aside
and said, "I don't believe I can do it I must do the next best thing.
I can at least get warm clothing to protect me from the rain and
snow." He looked down at his worn, thin clothing, his trousers, his
shirt, his jacket; they had become so thin and worn that they were
"I will take the skins of the hares which I have shot and will make
me something," he thought. He washed and cleaned them, but he needed
a knife and he set about making one. He split one end of a tough piece
of wood, thrust his stone blade in it and wound it with cocoa fibre.
His stone knife now had a handle. He could now cut the skins quite
well. But what should he do for needle and thread? Maybe the vines
would do. "But they are hardly strong enough," he thought. He pulled
the sinews from the bones of the rabbit and found them hard. Maybe
he could use them. He found fish skeletons on the seashore and bored
a hole in the end of the small, sharp rib bones. Then he threaded his
bone needle with the rabbit sinews and attempted to sew, but it would
not go. His needle broke. The skin was too hard. He bored holes in
the edge of the pieces of skin and sewed through the holes. This went
He sewed the skins together with the hair side inward, made himself
a jacket, a pair of trousers, a hat, and finally covered his parasol
with rabbit skin, for the rain had already dripped through the leaves
of it. All went well, only the trousers did not fit. He loosened them
and puckered them to no purpose. "Anyway," he thought, "I am now well
protected from the cold, when it does come."
[Illustration: ROBINSON IN HIS NEW SUIT]
HOW ROBINSON LAYS UP A STORE OF FOOD
Now for the food. Could Robinson preserve the meat? He had often heard
his mother tell about preserving meat in salt. He had even eaten salt
meat, pickled meat. But where could he get salt?
One day when the wind blew hard the water was driven upon the shore
and filled a little hollow. After a few days the ground glistened
white as snow where the water had been. Was it snow? Robinson took
it in his hands and put it in his mouth. It was salt. The sun had
evaporated the water in the hollow--had vaporized it--and the air had
drunk it up. What was left behind? Salt. Now he could get salt as long
as he needed it.
He took cocoanut shells and strewed salt in them. Then he cut the
rabbit meat in thin strips, rubbed them with salt, and laid them one
on the other in the salt in the shells. He covered it over with a
layer of salt. He put over each shell the half of a larger one and
weighted it down with stones. After a period of fourteen days he found
the meat quite red. It had pickled.
But he did not stop here. He gathered and stored in his cellar
cocoanuts and corn in such quantities that he would be supplied for
a whole winter. It seemed best to catch a number of rabbits, build
a house for them and keep them. Then he could kill one occasionally
and have fresh meat. Then it came to him that goats would be much better,
for they would give milk. He determined immediately to have a herd
of goats. He made a string or lasso out of cocoa fibre.
Then he went out, slipped up quietly to a herd of goats and threw the
lasso over one. But the lasso slipped from the horns and the goat ran
away. The next day he had better luck. He threw the lasso, drew it
tight and the goat was captured. He brought it home. He rejoiced when
he saw that it gave milk. He was happy when he got his first cocoanut
shell full of sweet rich milk. His goat herd grew. He soon had five
goats. He had no more room in his yard. He could not provide food
enough. He must let them out. He must make another hedge around his
yard so that the goats could get food and yet be kept from going away.
He got stakes from the woods and gathered them before his cave. He
sharpened them and began to drive them in the earth. But it rained
more and more each day. He was wet through as he worked. He had
finally to stop work, for the rain was too heavy.
Robinson was much disturbed because he had no means of keeping a
record of things as they happened from day to day. He had his
calendar, it is true. He would not lose track of the time. But he
wished for some way to write down his thoughts and what happened. So
he kept up keen search for anything that would serve him for this
Every time he journeyed about the island he kept careful watch for
something that he might write upon. He thought of the leaves of the
palm tree, the white under surface of the shelf fungus. But these he
found would not do. He tried many kinds of bark and leaves. There was
a kind of tall reed or grass growing in the marshes whose rind seemed
good when dried. He examined the inner bark of many trees. He at last
found that the inner bark of a tree which resembled our elm tree
worked best. He would cut through the bark with his stone knife around
the tree. At about one foot from this he would cut another ring. He
then would cut through the bark lengthwise from one circular cut to
the other. He could then peel off the section easily. While it was
yet full of sap he would separate the soft, tough, thin inner layer
of the bark. This usually came off in sheets without a break. When
these sheets of bark were stretched and dried they could be used very
nicely instead of paper.
Robinson next searched for something that would serve him as ink, and
this was much easier to find than paper. He had noticed many kinds
of galls of many different colors growing on trees. He did not know
what they were, or how they grew, but he had learned in his father's
store that ink was often made from galls gathered from trees. "Anyway,"
he thought, "I can get ink from the cuttle-fish." He had watched this
animal get away from its enemies by sending out a cloud of purplish
fluid, in which to hide as it darted away. He had learned also that
indigo is made from the leaves of a plant. He had noticed a plant
growing in the open places in the forest whose leaves turned black
Robinson gathered a quantity of gall-nuts and soaked them in water.
To the black fluid thus obtained he added a little rice water to make
it flow well, and this served very well as an ink. He kept his ink
in a cup made from a cocoanut shell.
He was not long in getting a pen, though the lack of a good sharp
knife made it hard to make a good one. In going about he had gathered
a quantity of large feathers. He saved these for the time when he
should have his paper and ink ready. Now, he cut away a quill to a
point and split it up a little way. He was now supplied with writing
materials. "Is it not wonderful," he thought, "how all our wants are
filled? We have only to want a thing badly enough and it comes."
Robinson began at once to write down the date for each day and the
main thing he did or that happened on it. He called this his diary.
He had now a better way of keeping time than on his tree calendar.
He did not need it any more.
You have no doubt wondered how Robinson could work in his cave,
especially at night without a light. The truth is, it was a great
source of discomfort to him. At sunset he was in total darkness in
his cave. During the day light enough streamed in from the open doorway.
To be alone in total darkness is not pleasant. "If I only had fire!"
he said again and again.
He watched the many large beetles and fireflies flash their light in
the dark of the evening as he sat in front of his shelter. The thought
came to him that if he only had some way of keeping together a number
of them, they would serve very well for a candle in his cave at night.
How he longed for a glass bottle such as he had so often wantonly
broken when at home! Back of his shelter there was a hill where the
rock layers jutted out. He had noticed here several times the thin
transparent rock that he had seen in his father's store. It is called
"I will make a living lantern," he said aloud in his eagerness.
He soon had a suitable piece pried loose. He cut a part of a cocoanut
shell away and in its place he put a sheet of isinglass. That evening
at dark he gathered several handfuls of the great fire beetles and
put them in his lantern. What joy their glow gave him in his cave at
night. It was almost as much comfort as a companion. But while it
lighted up the deep dark of the cave and enabled him to move about,
he was unable after all to write in his diary at night. Every morning
he set his captives free. In the evening he would go out and capture
ROBINSON IS SICK
One evening Robinson went to bed sound and well. The next morning he
was sick. Before he had only the heat of the day to complain of.
To-day he was freezing. He wanted to go to work to get warm, but even
this did not break his chill. It increased till his teeth chattered
with the cold.
"Perhaps," thought he, "if I can sleep a little I will get better."
But he could not sleep. He was burning with fever and then shaking
with cold by turns. He felt a strong thirst, but he was so weak that
he could scarcely get the goat's milk. He had no sooner drunk the milk
than his tongue was as dry as before. He felt better after a night
of sleep, but the next day his fever and chills were worse than before.
Then he bethought him of his parents. How kindly his mother had taken
care of him! Now no one was near that could assist him.
"Ah," he sighed, "must I die here? Who would bury me? There is no one
to miss me." At this the tears came to his eyes.
His sickness increased with each day. Occasionally the fever would
go down sufficiently to allow him to get something to eat. Then it
would be worse than before. In his dire need he wanted to pray, but
he was so weak that he could only stammer, "Dear God, help me, or I
One night he had a strange dream. He thought he saw his good old
father standing before him calling to him. He spread out his arms and
cried aloud, "Here I am, here I am!" He tried to get up, but he was
so weak that he fell back fainting.
He lay there a long time, but finally came to. He felt a burning
thirst, but no one reached him a drop of water. He prepared to die.
He folded his hands and prayed to God that he would be merciful to
him. He prayed forgiveness from his parents. Once more he raised his
head and gazed wildly around, then he sank back and knew no more.
When he again awoke he felt better. His hot fever had gone. He
attempted to walk. He had just enough strength to crawl to the table
and fetch a shell of water. When he tried to walk he had to sit down
at every two or three steps.
From this he recovered gradually, growing better and better, and he
thanked God inwardly for his recovery. His sickness had continued from
June 18 to July 3.
Robinson's sickness set him thinking about his home. He had been so
afraid of animals when he came to the island that he thought of
nothing but protection from them. He had been now a year on the island
and had seen nothing more dangerous than a goat. The fear of animals
had practically faded away. In thinking over his sickness he made up
his mind that it was caused by sleeping in his cave where the sun
never shone. The ventilation seemed good, but the walls were damp,
especially in the rainy season. Then the water would trickle down
through the cleft in spite of all he could do.
He resolved to build, if possible, a little cottage, or, as he called
it, a bower, in the yard in front of his shelter. The hedge of
thistles was growing and formed a fence that an animal could not get
through. His screen of willows on the outside of this would soon hide
him from view from the sea. He had the wall of rock and the hill
He planned out his way of building it very carefully. "It must be
done," he said (Robinson formed the habit of talking to himself, so
that he would not forget how to talk), "without hammer, nails, or
He first sought out four posts, as large as he could well handle.
There were always broken trees and branches in the forest. If he
searched long enough he could find posts just suited to his need. He
wanted four of the same thickness and height and with a fork at the
end. After long searching he found what he wanted. He was careful to
get those that he could drag to his shelter.
He placed these in the ground, forming the corners of a square about
ten feet long. In the forks he placed poles running around about eight
feet from the ground. At about every three feet he fastened others,
running in the same way, with heavy cords made of fibre. He found his
greatest trouble with the roof. It must be sloped to shed rain. He
had to find two more forked posts, three or four feet longer than the
others. These he placed opposite each other in the centers of two
sides. Upon these he placed a ridge pole. He then laid other poles
lengthwise from ridge pole to the edge of the frames.
His frame was now done. His plan was now to cover this frame with
straw or grasses tied in bundles. He had seen the barns in the country
thatched in this way by the Dutch farmers in New York State. He
gathered the straw of the wild rice. It was long, straight and tough.
[Illustration: ROBINSON'S BOWER]
It was easily tied into flat bundles. These he bound securely on to
the frame work with cords. He began at the bottom so that the ends
of the row would lap over the tops of the last one put on.
In this way he built a very comfortable and rainproof bower. It was
easy to make a bed of poles covered with straw. A table and bench were
added and shelves of poles.
Robinson felt great joy over this new home. "I will not now be sick
any more," he said. "In case of danger I can get into my cave. But
at all other times I will live in my bower." He had use still for his
cave. He could use it to store some things in. But he had to be
careful about the dampness in wet weather.
Robinson was getting to feel at home. He was no longer so sad. He did
not grieve so much for home. He looked upon his home with great
delight It was secure. He had his herd of goats always in his sight.
At evening he would do his milking. He found he could keep the milk
for some time in the cave. He was tempted to try making some butter
from the good, rich cream. "But," said Robinson, "I have neither
vessels to make it in nor bread to eat it on."
He planned many things to do. "I will make a hammock some day for my
bower and some vessels to use in my work," he thought.
ROBINSON AGAIN EXPLORES HIS ISLAND
When Robinson recovered his strength he had a strong desire to see
more of the island. At first he had been in constant fear of wild
animals, but now he thought he would like to see all there was to see
in the island. On the 15th of July he started out. First he went to
a brook which ran into the sea near his cave. Its water was clear and
pure; along its shore lay beautiful meadows. As he came to the upper
course of the brook the meadow gave way to forest. On the border of
the forest he found melons and grapes.
The night came on and he slept again in a tree. The next morning he
went farther and came to a clear rivulet. Here the region was
wonderfully beautiful. The flowers bloomed as in a garden, and near
the flowers stood splendid apple and orange trees. He took as much
of the fruit as he could carry and went on his way. This journey
continued three days. The grapes which he had carried he dried in the
sun and made raisins.
The 10th of September came, one year had passed on the island. He was
many hundred miles from home, alone on an island. With tears he cried
out, "Ah! what are my dear parents saying? They have no doubt long
given me up as dead. If I could only send them a message to comfort
them and let them know how much I love them!"
The day was celebrated as a holiday. He thanked God that He had given
him so many good things. Often he had lived the whole day in care and
anxiety. Now he tried to be more cheerful and to meet the troubles
of each day with courage.
But Robinson was not yet satisfied. He longed to know more of the
island and prepared himself for a greater journey. He slung his
hunting pouch over his shoulder, filled it full of food, took his bow
and arrows, stuck his stone hatchet in his belt and started on his
way. He traveled over meadows, through beautiful forests in which were
hundreds of birds. He was delighted as they sang and fluttered about.
The journey was beautiful and pleasant to Robinson. In the forests
he often saw small wild creatures, but he shot nothing. After the first
night he slept under a tree in the soft grass, for he had now no fear
of wild animals.
Along the shore he saw great groves of palms with their large nuts.
He saw, too, many goats in all parts of the island.
Now he was ready to take the shortest way home. He had not gone far
before he came into a dark forest. He became confused and wandered
about for several days. On the fourth day he came to a little pile
of stones, which he had made to mark the way as he was going out. From
this place the way was easy to find. On this trip he was gone already
ROBINSON AND HIS BIRDS
Of all the things he saw on his journey Robinson was most delighted
with the birds. They were of the most beautiful colors. The forest
was full of them. They gleamed like jewels in the deep masses of foliage.
In the morning their singing filled the air with sound.
Robinson had never taken much notice of the birds at home. But now
every living thing attracted him. He loved to see them happy. He would
watch often by the hour and learn the habits of nesting and getting
food of nearly every bird on the island.
Robinson did not know the names of many of the birds he saw on the
island. He had to make names for them. The strangest thing he saw on
his journey was the nest of what he called the yellow-tail. This bird
lives in colonies and makes its nest at the ends of the long leaves
of the mountain palm. When he first saw these queer looking sacks hanging
from the leaves he was amazed. He had never seen so strange a sight.
From the end of each great leaf hung a long, closely woven nest.
Robinson could not make out at first what they were. Soon, however,
he saw the birds come out of the mouths of the nests. Here, one hundred
feet from the ground, they hung their nests. But they were perfectly
He had not gone far from the tree in which the yellow tails had their
nests when he was suddenly startled by a voice crying, "Who, who are
you?" Robinson was greatly frightened and hid beneath the drooping
branches of a cedar tree. He feared every moment that the owner of
the voice would make his appearance. But it kept at a distance. Every
few minutes from the depths of the forest would come the doleful cry,
"Who, who are you?" Robinson did not dare to stir from his hiding
place. He remained there over night. After the night came on he heard
the strange voice no more.
The next day he renewed his journey. He saw many birds that were
wholly strange to him. There was a kind of wild pigeon that built its
home in a hole in the rock. It was a most beautiful bird with long,
slender, graceful feathers in its tail. He saw the frigate bird
soaring high above the island. The number and beauty of the
humming-birds amazed Robinson. They were of all colors. One had a bill
in the shape of a sickle. The most brilliant of them all was the
Near noon, while Robinson was shielding himself from the scorching
heat of the sun in a deep, shaded glen, he was startled again by the
strange voice crying, "Who, who, who are you?" He lay quite still,
determined if possible to allow the voice to come, if it would, within
sight. He heard it slowly coming up the glen. Each time it repeated
the cry it sounded nearer. At last he saw spying at him through the
boughs of the tree under which he was lying a large bird with soft,
silky feathers of green and chestnut. "Who, who, who are you?" said
the bird. Robinson could not help but laugh. He had been frightened
at the cry of a bird.
But the bird that interested Robinson most was the parrot. There were
several kinds of them. They flew among the trees with great noise and
clatter and shrieking. Robinson determined if possible to secure one
for a pet. "I can teach it to talk," he said, "and I will have
something to talk to."' As soon as he returned home he set about
catching one. He noticed that a number were in the habit of visiting
an old tree near the shelter every morning. He planned to snare one
and tried several mornings, but he could not get one into the snare.
He tried to hit one with his bow and arrow. He at last succeeded in
hitting one and stunning it so that it fell to the ground. He ran
rapidly to pick it up, but before he could get to where it lay in the
bushes it had disappeared.
After thinking the matter over he concluded that it would be much
better to get a pair of young birds and raise them. The old ones would
be hard to tame and difficult to teach. It was easy enough to find
a nest in a hollow tree. He secured from the nest two birds just ready
to fly. He made a cage for them out of willow rods. He placed the cage
at the entrance of his cave and studied how he would feed them. Much
to his surprise the parent birds discovered their young ones and
brought them food and fed them through the open work of the cage.
When the birds were grown they rapidly learned to talk. Robinson took
great delight in teaching them. He taught them to call his name and
when he came near they would call out, "Poor old Robinson Crusoe!"
These birds remained for many years with Robinson. In fact, he was
never afterward without a parrot. They helped him to pass away very
pleasantly many hours that without them would have been sad.
Another bird that Robinson loved was the little house wren. This bird
was exceedingly tame and friendly. It was a very sweet and strong
singer. It loved to make its nest in or near his shelter. There it
would build and rear its young, within reach of his hands, while its
throat was always bursting with melody.
The mocking bird, too, always nested near and awakened him in the
morning with its wonderful song.
Robinson became a great friend and favorite of the bird inhabitants
of the island. They seemed to know him and showed no fear when near
him. This pleased him very much.
ROBINSON GETS FIRE
Robinson was now pretty comfortable. He had his bower with its chair
and table. He had his cave in case of danger. He had his cellar in
which to keep his meat. He would sit in the shade near the door of
his bower and think of the many things he should be thankful for. But
there was one hardship that Robinson could not get used to and that
was the eating of raw food. "How fine it would be if only I could
parch a few grains of corn in the fire! I could like live a prince,"
thought he, "if I had fire. I would grind some of my corn into flour
and make some corn bread or cakes and cook rice." He did so long for
roasted meat and determined again to make the attempt to get fire.
Robinson was fast losing his idle, thoughtless ways of doing things.
He had become a thoughtful and diligent man in the short time that
he had been on the island. Trouble and hardship had made a man of him.
"I must carefully think over the whole matter of getting fire," he
said. He had failed twice and was now resolved to succeed. "If the
lightning would only strike a tree," he thought, "and set it on fire."
But he could not wait for such a thing to happen, and how could he
keep it when once thus obtained? It was clear he must have some way
of producing fire when he wanted it, just as they did at home? He thought
over the ways he had tried and the one most likely to be successful.
He resolved to make a further trial of the method by twirling a stick
in his hands. He selected new wood that was hard and dry. He carefully
sharpened a stick about eighteen inches long and, standing it upright
in a hollow in the block of wood, began to roll it between his hands.
By the time Robinson's hands were well hardened, it seemed that he
was going to succeed at last. But he lacked the skill to be obtained
only by long practice.
"If I could only make it go faster," he said. "There must be some way
of doing this. I believe I can do it. I used to make my top spin round
with a cord; I wonder if I can use the cord here." The only cord he
had was attached to his bow. He was going to take it off when a
thought struck him. He loosened the string a bit and twisted it once
about his spindle. Then he drew the bow back and forth. The spindle
was turned at a great rate. He saw he must hold one end with his left
hand while the other rested in the hollow in the block. With his
right, he drew the bow back and forth. How eagerly he worked! He had
twirled but a few minutes when the dust in the hollow burst into fire
from the heat produced by the rapidly twirling spindle.
[Illustration: ROBINSON'S TOOLS FOR MAKING FIRE]
Robinson was too overjoyed to make any use of it. He danced and
capered about like one gone mad until the fire had gone out. But that
was of no matter now, since he could get fire when he wanted it.
He hastened to make him a rude fireplace and oven of stones. He
hollowed out a place in the ground and lined and covered it with large
flat stones. On one side he built up a chimney to draw up the smoke
and make the fire burn brightly. He brought wood and some dry fungus
or mushroom. This he powdered and soon had fire caught in it. He
kindled in this way the wood in his stove and soon had a hot fire.
The first thing he did in the way of cooking was to roast some rabbit
meat on a spit or forked stick held in his hand over the fire. Nothing
Robinson had ever eaten was to be compared to this.
"I can do many things now," thought Robinson. "My work will not be
nearly so hard. My fire will be my servant and help me make my tools
as well as cook my food. I can now cook my corn and rice."
ROBINSON MAKES BASKETS
Robinson still continued anxious about his food supply when he could
no longer gather it fresh from the fields and forest. Corn had again
become ripe. He had found in a wet, marshy place some wild rice-plants
loaded with ripened grain. As he now had fire he only had to have some
way of storing up grains and he would not lack for food. He knew that
grain stored away must be kept dry and that he must especially provide
against dampness in his cave or in his bower.
If he only had some baskets. These would be just the thing. But how
was he to get them? Robinson had never given a thought to either
material or the method of making them. He, however, was gradually
acquiring skill and confidence in himself. So far he had managed to
meet all his wants. He had invented tools and made his own clothes
and shelter, and, "Now," said he to himself, "I will solve the new
problem. I must first study the materials that I have at hand." He
remembered the splint market baskets in which his father took
vegetables home from the store. He recalled how the thin splints were
"They went over and under," he said. "That is simple enough if I had
the splints." He set himself diligently to work to find a plant whose
bark or split branches could be used for splints. He tried to peel
off the rough outer bark of several trees in order to examine the inner
layers of soft fibrous material. He found several trees that gave
promise of furnishing abundance of long, thin strips, but the labor
of removing the bark with his rude imperfect tools was so great that
he resolved that he would have to find some other kind of material.
"Why need the strips be flat?" he thought. "I believe I could weave
them in the same way if I used the long, thin, tough willow rods I
saw growing by the brookside, when I was returning from my journey."
He found on trial that the weaving went very well, but that he must
have strong, thick rods or ribs running up and down to give strength
and form to his basket. He worked hard, but it was slow work. It was
three days before his first basket was done. He made many mistakes
and was obliged many times to undo what he had accomplished in order
to correct some error. And at last when he had woven the basket as
large as he thought was suitable for his purpose, he did not know how
to stop or finish the top so as to keep the basket from unraveling.
At last he hit upon the plan of fastening two stout rods, one outside,
the other inside, the basket. These he sewed firmly, over and over,
to the basket with a kind of fibre from a plant he had discovered that
looked almost to be what he had heard called the century plant in the
parks at home.
On attempting his next basket, he thought long how he might improve
and save time. He must hasten, or the now almost daily rains would
destroy his ripened wild corn and rice.
"If I could use coils of that long grass I saw growing in the marsh
beside the rice," he thought, "I could make twice the progress." He
gathered an armful, twisted it into cables about an inch thick and
wove it into his frame of upright rods instead of the horizontal layer
of willow canes. This answered his purpose just as well and rendered
the making of large baskets the work of a few hours. He found,
however, that the willow rods or osiers were not pliant enough to work
well in fastening his coils of grass cables together. He tried several
things and at last succeeded best when he used the long thread-like
fibre of the century-like plant. He had, however, to make a stout
framework of rods. He would first coil his grass rope into this frame
and then sew it together with twine or thread made from this fibre.
[Illustration: ROBINSON'S BASKETS]
He afterwards tried making smaller and finer baskets out of the fibre
that he had discovered, which could be easily had from the
thick-leaved plant he thought he had seen at home. He first used long,
tough, fine roots he had seen when digging up the tree at the mouth
of his cave. Afterwards he discovered some tall, tough reeds growing
near by. He laid in a supply of these. He found that when he wanted
to use them, a good soaking in water made them as pliable and tough
as when first cut.
The making of the baskets and storing up grains made it possible for
Robinson to become a farmer and thus make himself independent. This
thought was a great relief to him.
ROBINSON BECOMES A FARMER
Robinson had now been on the island long enough to know how the
seasons changed. He found that there were two kinds of weather there,
wet weather and dry weather. There were two wet seasons in each year
and two dry ones. During the wet seasons, which lasted nearly three
months, Robinson had to remain pretty closely at home, and could not
gather grain, for the plants were then starting from the seeds. It
ripened in the dry seasons. Robinson soon found that he must have a
store of corn and wild rice for food during the rainy seasons. He,
however, knew nothing about planting and harvesting, nor preparing
the ground for seed.
He had it all to learn with no teacher or books to instruct him. He
found a little space near his dwelling free from trees and thought
he would plant some corn seed here. He did not know the proper time
for planting. He thought because it was warm, seed would grow at any
time. It happened his first seed was put in at the beginning of the
dry season. He watched and waited to rejoice his eyes with the bright
green of sprouting corn, but the seed did not grow. There was no rain
and the sun's heat parched the land till it was dry and hard on the
upland where his corn was planted.
"Very well," thought Robinson, "I will plant it at the beginning of
the wet season, either in March or September." He did so; the seed
quickly sprouted up. But the weeds, shrubs, and vines sprouted as
quickly, and before Robinson was aware, his corn was overgrown and
choked out by a rank growth of weeds and vines.
"I see," said Robinson, "that I must thoroughly prepare the soil
before planting my seed." But he had no spade and no other tool that
would stand the strain of digging among tough matted roots. But he
must succeed. He put a new handle in the stone hoe or pick he had
already made. His mussel shell spade was worn out. He must set himself
to fashion out another. He decided to make one from the tough heavy
wood of a tree that grew plentifully in the forest.
He was lucky enough to find a tree of this kind whose bole had been
split lengthwise by the falling of an old rotten tree near it. With
his stone tools and the help of fire he managed after several days'
work to make a wide sharpened tool out of one of the large pieces
split off. It was a little over three feet long. He had trimmed one
end small and cut notches in the sides about one foot from the flat
end. He could place his foot in the notch and thrust his wooden spade
into the earth. With his rude tool he dug up and turned the soil of
a small space of ground several times to kill the vines and weeds.
His corn quickly sprouted after this attempt and outstripped the weeds
and vines which Robinson constantly had to hold in check by pulling
and hoeing. He was rejoiced at his growing crop and went each morning
to feast his eyes on the rapidly expanding leaves and ears.
One morning as he came in sight of the little clearing he thought he
saw something disappearing in the low brush on the other side as he
approached. Alas, his labor had been in vain! A herd of wild goats
had found out the place and had utterly destroyed his crop. Robinson
sat down nearby and surveyed the ruin of his little field. "It is plain,"
thought he, "I will have to fence in the field or I will never be able
to harvest my crop. I cannot watch it all the time."
He had already learned from his experience in making the fence around
the goat pasture that the branches of many kinds of shrubs and trees,
when broken off and thrust into the ground, will send out roots and
leaves and at length if planted close together in a line, will form
a thick hedge which no kind of beast can get through or over. He found
out some willow trees whose branches broke easily, and soon had enough
to thrust into the ground about six inches apart around the entire
edge of his little field, which contained about one eighth of an acre.
After this hedge had grown so as to be a fair protection to his crop
he tried planting again at the proper season. He spaded up the ground
and pulled out the matted roots as best he could and with great pains
and care planted his corn in straight even rows. To make them straight
and each hill of corn the same distance from its neighbors, he first
marked off the ground in squares whose sides were about three and one
half feet long.
"Now," thought he, "I will reap the reward of my labor." The corn grew
rapidly, and toward the end of the first dry season was filling out
and ripening its ears. But to Robinson's dismay a new danger
threatened his crop against which he could not fence. He was in
despair. The birds were fast eating and destroying his partially
ripened corn. He could not husk it yet. It was not ripe enough. He
thought how easy it would be to protect his field if he had a gun.
But he had learned that it is useless to give time to idle dreaming.
He must do something and that quick.
"If I could catch some of these rascals," he thought, "I would hang
them up on poles, dead, as a warning to the rest." It seemed almost
a hopeless task, but he went about it. It was in vain he tried to kill
some of them by throwing rocks and sticks. He could not get near
enough to them. At length he laid snares and succeeded in snaring
three birds. He had learned to weave a pliable, strong thong out of
cocoa and other fibre that he was now acquainted with. The birds thus
caught he fastened on broken branches of trees which he stuck into
the earth in different parts of his field. The birds heeded the warning
and visited his corn field no more that season.
At the end of the season he gathered or husked his corn and after it
was thoroughly dry he shelled it from the cob with his hands. He used
his baskets in which to carry his husked ears from the field to his
cave and in which to store it when shelled. He found that the ears
were larger and better filled and plumper than when the plants grew
wild. He selected the largest and best filled ears for his seed the
next time. In this way his new crop of corn was always better in kind
and yielded more than the old one.
At first he grew two crops a year, but by experimenting he found out
about how much he needed for his own use and planted once a year
enough to give him a liberal supply.
He observed that the wild rice grew in swampy lands, so that he did
not make the mistake of trying to raise it upon the upland where the
corn grew best. He saw at once that the planting of rice on low,
marshy or wet land was beyond his present strength and tools. "Some
time in the future," he thought, "I may try it."
Robinson also found wild grapes in abundance. These he dried by
hanging them on the branches of trees. He thus had a store of raisins
for each rainy season.
ROBINSON AS POTTER
Robinson was now anxious to cook his food, to boil his rice and
vegetables and bake bread, but he could do nothing without cooking
vessels. He had tried to use cocoanut shells, but these were too small
and there was no way to keep them from falling over and spilling the
contents. He determined to try to make some clay vessels. He knew
where he could get a kind of clay that had the appearance of making
good ware. It was fine grained and without lumps or pebbles. He was
much perplexed to mould the clay into right shapes. He tried taking
a lump and shaping it into a vessel with his hands. He tried many times,
but each time the clay broke and he was forced to try some other way.
He recalled how he had made his basket out of strands of twisted grass
and wondered whether he could not make his pots in the same way.
He spun the clay out into a long rope and began to coil it around a
small basket forming the layers together with his hands. This was
easy, but he did not see clearly how he was going to get the basket
out from the inside of the pot. He found he could copy in this way
any form he wished, but he finally hit upon the plan of making a form
of wicker work and coiling the clay rope inside it, for he saw that
whether he succeeded or not in getting the clay free from the basket
he could use the pot, and besides if the pot would stand the fire the
basket would burn off. To dry the pots Robinson stood them in the sun
a few days. When they were dry he tried to cook some soup in one of
them. He filled it with water and put it on his stove or oven, but
how sadly had he deceived himself. In a short time the water soaked
into the clay and soon the pot had fallen to pieces.
"How foolish I am!" said Robinson to himself; "the pots have to be
fired before they can be used." He set about this at once. He found
two stones of equal size, placed them near each other and laid a third
across these. He then placed three large pots upon them and made a
hot fire under them. No sooner had the flame shot up than one of the
pots cracked in two. "I probably made the fire too hot at first," thought
He drew out some of the coals and wood, but afterwards gradually
increased the fire again. He could not, however, get the pots hot
enough to turn red He brought the dryest and hardest wood, but could
not succeed in getting them hot enough to turn red. At length he was
tired out and was compelled to give it up. When the pots were cool
he tried to boil water in one. It was no better than the sun dried
one. He saw that he must provide some way to get the pots much hotter
than he could in the open air He resolved to make an oven of stones
large enough to take in the wood as well as the pots. It must be above
ground so that there might be plenty of draught for the fire. With
great labor, he pried up and carried together flat stones enough to
make an oven about four feet high with a chimney at one side. He had
put in the center a stone table on which he could place three quite
large pots. He left an opening in one side that could be partially
closed by a large, flat stone.
He worked eagerly and at the end of the second day he was ready to
fire his oven. He first carried together a good quantity of dry wood,
then he put in his pots and laid the wood around them. In a short time
he had a very hot fire. He kept this up all day and until late at
The next morning he went to his oven and found his pots were a
beautiful red. He drew out the fire and allowed them to cool slowly.
Then he filled one with water and set it over the fire to heat it.
Before many minutes the water was boiling and Robinson had another
reason to be thankful. He wept for joy. His patient labors had brought
their rewards. No prince could feel as happy as Robinson now. He had
overcome all difficulties. Starting with nothing but his hands, he
was now able to supply all his wants. "If I only had a companion now,"
he thought, "I would have nothing further to wish as long as I stay
on the island."
[Illustration: SOME OF ROBINSON'S DISHES]
ROBINSON AS BAKER
Now that Robinson had fire, he determined to try to make bread. He
had seen the servants at home make bread many times, but he had not
observed closely and knew next to nothing about the way bread is made.
He knew he must in some way grind the corn into flour, but how could
he do this? He had no mill nor any tools with which to crush the corn.
He first tried to find a stone large and hard enough out of which he
might hollow a vessel or kind of mortar. He thought he could put the
corn into this mortar and grind it by means of another stone or
pestle. It was with great difficulty that he could get a stone of
suitable size and form. After several days' trial he at last got one
cut out from some layers of rock near the shore. He made a hollow
place in it. Then he took a smaller oblong shaped rock for his pestle.
He took great pride in these new tools. "I shall soon be a
stone-cutter," he said to himself, "as well as a farmer and potter."
But his stone mortar was a failure. The rock was too soft. Every time
he thrust the pestle down, it loosened small pieces of the stone
vessel. These mixed with the ground corn or flour and made it unfit
to eat. There was no way to separate the sand from the crushed grain.
He resolved then to try to make a mortar and pestle of hard wood. Now
that he had fire, he could do this, though it cost him many a hard
day's work. He found not far away a log of very hard wood. By building
a fire at the right distance from one end he was able to separate a
piece of the log. He rolled this to his cave and made a good-sized
hollow in it by burning. This pestle was not so difficult to make.
He took a limb or branch of an ironwood tree, burned it in two at the
place to make it the right length. By burning also he rounded one end
and then he was ready for the grinding. After cleaning his mortar and
pestle carefully he placed some corn in the hollow and soon had some
fine yellow meal or flour without any grit or sand in it.
His next care was to separate the coarse outer husk or covering of
the kernel from the finer parts that make the meal. He had no sieve.
His net was too coarse. It let both bran and meal go through. "I must
make a net or cloth fine enough to sift or bolt my flour," said he.
Such was now his skill in spinning and weaving that this was not hard
to do. He had soon woven in his loom a piece of fine netting which
allowed the meal to shake through, but held back the coarse bran or
outer husk of the kernel. Out of the dry corn that he had stored up
he now made quite a quantity of flour. This he kept tightly covered
in a large earthen pot or jar that he had made for this purpose. "I
must keep all my food clean and protect it from the ants and other
insects as well as dust and damp," he thought.
His preparations were now nearly made. He had already his stove of
flat stones. On this he could set his pots to boil water, cook rice,
and meat, but it would not do for baking a loaf of bread of any
thickness. He must have an oven or enclosed place into which he could
put the loaf to bake it. By the use of flat stones he soon rebuilt
his stove so as to have an oven that did fine service. Now it was mixing
the dough that claimed his attention. He had of course no yeast to
make raised or light bread. He poured goats' milk on the flour and
kneaded it into a thick dough. He did not forget to add salt. He
placed his loaf in a shallow earthen pan he had made for this purpose.
After the fire had heated the stones of his oven through, he put in
his loaf and soon was enjoying a meal of corn bread and meat stew.
Robinson soon tried to make cocoa from the beans of the cocoa palm
that grew in the island. This with good rich goats' milk in it he
thought the best drink in the world. He often thought of making sugar
from the sugar cane plant he had discovered in the island. But the
labor of squeezing out the juice was too great. He could think of no
way to do this without the help of horses or oxen.
ROBINSON AS FISHERMAN
Robinson was now eager to use his fire and cooking vessels. He had
noticed with hungry eyes fine large fish in the creek near his cave.
But he had never taken the trouble to catch any. "What is the use?"
he thought. "I cannot eat them raw." It was different now and he began
to devise ways of making a catch. How he longed for a fish-hook, such
as he had so often used when loitering along the Hudson River! "But
a fish-hook is not to be thought of," he said to himself, "unless I
can make one of bone." He went down to the brook and searched long
for a fish-bone that he might make use of for this purpose. He found
"I must try something else," he thought. He remembered the nets he
used to see along the Hudson and wondered if he could not make a small
one to pull through the water and thus catch the fish.
He had now a better source of fibre for weaving and for spinning into
lines and ropes. He had discovered this when he was trying to find
a good strong thread or yarn with which to bind the coils of his
grass-made baskets together. He obtained fibre in great abundance from
the century-like plant. He found if he broke off the long leaves of
this plant and allowed them to decay there remained a long, tough
fibrous substance out of which strong cords could be twisted or yarn
made for weaving a coarse cloth or netting.
Out of this he spun yarn thread to make a net about three or four feet
by two feet. He fastened cords to four corners of this, tied them to
a long pole, and was now prepared to test his plan for catching fish.
The brook he found was too shallow for him to catch fish in this way.
At the sight of him and his net, they scurried away to deep water.
Neither could he succeed in the shallow water along the shore. "I must
wade out as far as I can," he said to himself, "and draw the net
through the water."
As he did this he was surprised at the many forms of sea life, new
to him, that he saw. He, however, was careful and watchful. He walked
along near the shore to a point where some, rocks showed above the
surface. As he looked ahead he saw the single eye of a giant
cuttle-fish glaring at him from among the rocks. It was thrusting out
its long arms towards him. He drew back quickly, but as he did so he
was terrified to hear the snap of some huge creature's jaws near him.
A great shark had seen him and had thrown himself on his back to seize
him in his rows of sharp teeth, but was prevented reaching him by the
shallowness of the water.
Robinson was too much terrified to continue longer his attempt at
fishing. He went back to his cave with only a few small ones, not
worth the trouble of dressing for his dinner.
The next day undismayed he tried again. He succeeded in drawing in
some very beautiful large fish. Their sides shone as burnished gold
and silver. "Now," he thought, "I will have a feast." He carried them
home, carefully cleaned and dressed them, seasoned them with his salt,
and broiled them over his fire. Imagine his disappointment when they
proved unfit to eat. Their flesh was coarse and tough and ill-tasting.
He saw that the catching of fish for his table was a more difficult
thing than he thought it. He must not only catch fish, but catch ones
that could be eaten. He could only tell the good from the bad by
He was more fortunate in his next venture. He was going along the
shore at the mouth of the creek which ran near his cave when he
noticed a group of fishes, dark bluish above with silvery sides. The
largest of them were about two feet long. They were feeding on the
bottom in the brackish water at the mouth of the creek, which at its
mouth opened out into quite a little bay or inlet. They would take
up a mouthful of earth from the bottom and let it wash through their
mouths, keeping all the bits of food that happened to be in it. When
one fish got a good place to feed the others swam around it and tried
to get some of the food.
Robinson watched his chance and slipped his net under a group, while
each one was busy trying to get the best mouthful of mud. He drew up
three quite large fish, but just as he was about to lift them from
the water, one of the cords which bound the net to the poles broke
and he saw his catch fall back into the creek and dart away in the
deepest water. But Robinson was not to be discouraged. He soon mended
his net and at last was successful. In a short time he drew out another
catch of two fish.
These proved excellent food and were so abundant as to furnish
Robinson with all the fish he wanted as long as he stayed on the
ROBINSON BUILDS A BOAT
Robinson had wished for a boat many times. He wished to explore the
shore of his island. He wanted to go clear around it so that he might
see it on every side. But he knew the work of making a boat would be
great, if not wholly impossible.
The shaping of boards to build a boat with his rude tools was not to
be thought of. He knew how the Indians made boats out of bark of
trees. But he saw that for his purpose so light a boat would not do.
He finally remembered a second Indian way of making a boat by
hollowing out a large log. The forest was full of the boles of trees
that had been blown down. But they were far away from the shore. At
first he did not think of this very much. He had overcome so many
difficulties that he thought, "Never mind, I will get my boat to
water, no matter where I make it, in some way." So he selected a tree
trunk some distance from the bank of the little creek near his cave
and began work.
He had first to burn out his log the proper length and hack it into
boat shape with his stone tools. This was very slow and tedious work.
He had to handle the fire with great care for there was always the
danger of spoiling the shape of the slowly forming boat. Both ends
must be sharpened, but one more than the other to form the prow or
forward going end. After he had shaped his boat, he began hollowing
it out. This he did also by burning for the most part. He used the
branches of pitch bearing trees for this purpose. But it was so slow.
He worked at his boat all the time he could spare from his regular
duties in attending to his goats, his garden and his cave. He was
always making his cave larger. Every time he made a piece of furniture
or stored away grain he must make more room in his cave by digging
away the earth and carrying it out. He had made a large strong wicker
basket for this purpose.
He had had a vague idea that when he got his boat done he would dig
a trench back from the bank of the creek and thus float his boat. But
he had not thought it out clearly. "Or anyway," he thought, "I can
in some way manage to roll it to the water." He must now actually plan
to put some of these ideas into effect. He first went over the ground
and found that to dig a trench from the water to the boat, so that
the water would come to the boat, he would have to dig it twenty feet
deep. "I can never do this," he said, "with my poor tools."
He next tried his rolling plan. But he had been so anxious to have
a large boat that he had overlooked everything else. Try as hard as
he might he could not stir his boat from the spot. After many trials
with the longest levers he could handle, the boat still stuck fast.
It would not budge an inch. He at last gave it up. "It will lie here,"
he thought, "to remind me how foolish it is to attempt to do anything
without first having thought it out carefully."
There was nothing to do but to choose another tree trunk. This time
he selected a much smaller one, and one that lay at the top of the
little slope or incline from the bank of the creek. After another weary
six months of work he had his second boat ready for launching. With
a good stout lever he gave it a start, when it rolled quickly down
into the water. Robinson again wept for joy. Of all his projects this
had cost him the most work and pains and at last to see his plans
successful filled him with delight.
The next problem was how to make it go. He had no certain knowledge
how far it was around the island, but he knew it was farther than he
wanted to row or paddle his boat. Yet he knew from the way the wind
blew that he could not always depend upon a sail to help him. He must
become skillful in paddling his boat. A sail too would be very helpful
at times. He imagined how pleasant it would be sitting in the boat
sailing along with a gentle wind. "When the wind is favorable," he
thought, "I will only have to steer with my paddle."
So he set about weaving a sail of his sisal fibre. To do this he had
to make a much larger loom than he had yet used. His sail must be at
least four feet square. He was now so skilled in weaving that this
was soon finished. He then made plenty of string, cord, and rope, put
in a mast and was ready to sail. But he did not venture far away until
he had spent weeks and weeks in learning to steer, sail, and paddle
ROBINSON AS A SAILOR
Ever since Robinson had finished his boat he had been eager to make
a tour of his island. He had indeed made a journey by land. But the
deep forests and tangled vines made it very difficult to travel. His
journeys had shown him but a small part of the land. He wished to know
all about the land of which he, so far as he knew, was the sole
His first care was to fit up his boat with provisions. He made some
large baskets in which to carry food and a large covered jar for
water. These he stored in the bow and the stern of his boat. He
fastened his parasol on the stern for a shelter from the sun. He baked
up a quantity of cakes or loaves of bread and packed them in his
baskets. He had woven these so carefully that they would almost hold
At last all was ready. It was on the sixth day of November in the
sixth year of his life on the island that Robinson hoisted his sail
and set out upon this voyage of discovery. He had waited until the
wind was gentle and blowing as far easterly as it does at that place.
He scudded along bravely, running with the land toward the East and
North. All went well until
he came to a low reef or ledge of rocks running far out to sea in a
When Robinson observed this he went on shore and climbed to a high
point to see if it was safe to venture. He was afraid of hidden
currents, or streams of water. These might carry him away from the
shore and prevent him from getting around the point.
He did indeed observe that there was a current running out to sea past
the ledge, but he thought he could by careful paddling keep his boat
from striking the rock. If he could once get beyond the ledge, the
wind would help him double or get around the point. Indeed the danger
was that the wind would blow him on to the rocks.
He waited for two days for a gentle wind. At last without sail he
pushed his boat into the current and was born swiftly seaward. He
found the current much stronger than he thought it would be. It rushed
his frail boat on past the point of the rocks and out into the sea.
Try as best he might he could not change its course. He was steadily
going out to sea. He gave himself up for lost. He reproached himself
for being so rash and foolhardy as to trust his fortunes in so frail
a craft. How dear at this time seemed the island to him! The wind which
he had depended on to help him at this point had died down so that
it was at the mercy of the current. He kept urging his boat to the
westward as much as possible, with all his strength, hoping that a
breeze would finally spring up.
He struggled on bravely until about noon. He had been carried out a
great distance into the sea, but not so far as to lose sight of the
land. All at once he felt the breeze freshening up. It caught his sail
and soon his boat was cutting across the current. He did not have to
go far before he was free from it and making headway for the island,
which he reached about four o'clock in the afternoon.
He found himself on the northern shore of the island, but before long
the shore ran away to the southward again. He ran briskly along the
west side until he found a little bay or cove. He determined to enter
this, draw up his boat on shore and make his way back home across the
island on foot. He was almost exhausted with his great labor and was
worn out with anxiety.
In the centre of the arms of the cove he found a little creek entering
the sea. He paddled into this and found a good place to hide his boat.
As soon as Robinson was again on land he fell on his knees and with
tears in his eyes thanked God for his deliverance. The island which
had seemed to him a prison now seemed the fairest and dearest place
in the world.
Having made his boat safe he started back toward his shelter. But he
was too tired to go far. He soon came to a little grove of trees
beneath which he laid himself down and soon was fast asleep.
You can imagine with what surprise Robinson was awakened out of his
sleep by a voice calling his name. "Robinson, Robinson Crusoe," it
said, "poor Robinson Crusoe! Where are you Robinson, where have you
He was so fast asleep that he did not at first rouse up entirely and
thought he was dreaming. But the voice kept calling, "Robinson,
Robinson, poor Robinson Crusoe!" He was greatly frightened and started
up. But no sooner were his eyes opened than he saw his parrot sitting
on a branch of a tree. He knew at once the source of the voice.
Polly had missed her master and was also exploring the island. It was
a pleasant surprise. She immediately flew to him and lit on his
shoulder. She showed in many ways how glad she was to see him and kept
saying, "Poor Robinson, poor Robinson Crusoe!"
Robinson remained here over night and the next morning made his way
back to the shelter. Up to this time Robinson had never seen any
dangerous animals on the island. He had grown used to life there and
went about without fear of animals. But as he was returning across
a little opening, he saw a clump of palms in the centre of the opening,
swaying about. He did not at first see what caused this, but soon
there was thrust out the head of a great serpent. Its jaws were open
and its eyes were fixed on a poor terrified little rabbit. The rabbit
seemed rooted to the spot. It could not stir a muscle and was soon
caught in the folds of the great snake.
This sight made Robinson greatly afraid. He wanted to rush to the
rescue of the rabbit, but what could he do against such a foe? He
resolved in the future to keep a more careful watch and always to
sleep in his bower.
Robinson had enough of exploring for some time. He was contented to
remain at home. He made many things he needed. He had saved all the
skins of the goats he had killed for meat and all that had died from
any cause. These he made into rugs for his bed. He kept at his loom
too, for he was anxious to weave enough of his coarse cloth to make
him a suit of clothes. He learned how to braid mats and rugs out of
his fibre, and finally replaced his awkward hat and parasol with
others braided very skillfully from the long grasses that grew so
abundantly in the marshy places.
Another thing that Robinson was now able to make or weave out of his
fibre was a hammock. He had slept all this time on a bed made of poles
laid lengthwise and thickly covered with the skins of goats and
Now he could have a comfortable place to sleep. He did not stop until
he had made two. One was for the bower and the other was for use
out-of-doors. When his work was done in the evening or in the heat
of the midday he would lie in it at full length under the shade of
Robinson could not forget his boat. It seemed a companion. "It may
be the means of my escape from this place," he thought. He took frequent
journeys across the island to where his little boat lay in the cove.
He would start out in the morning and walk over to the west side of
the island, take his boat and have a pleasant little sail. He always
returned home before dark, for to tell the truth, Robinson was a
coward. He was as timid as a hare. He was afraid of everything and
spent many nights without sleep because of fear.
It was while on one of his visits to his boat that Robinson made a
discovery that changed his whole life. It happened one day, about
noon, when he was going toward his boat that he, with great surprise,
saw the print of a man's naked foot on the shore in the sand. He stood
like one rooted to the ground. He could not move, so great was his
surprise and fear. He listened, looked around, but could hear and see
nothing. He went up to a little hill to look further, but nothing was
in sight. There was but the one footprint. There was no doubt about
it, there it was, foot, toes, heel and every part of a foot. Robinson
tried to think how it might have gotten there, but he could not. It
was a mystery. He was greatly afraid and started at once for his
shelter. He ran like one pursued. At every little way he would look
behind to see if anyone was following him.
Never a frightened rabbit ran to his hiding place with more terror
than Robinson ran to his cave. He did not sleep that night for fear
and remained in his shelter for three days, never venturing out. But
his food was growing short and his goats needed to be milked. He
finally with a thousand wild fancies forced himself to go about his
But he could not get the footprint out of his mind. He spent many sad
and fearful days thinking about it. "How could it have gotten there?
Whose was it? Was the owner savage or not? What did he want on the
island?" were some of the questions that haunted him.
"Perhaps," he thought one day, "I just imagined I saw a footprint,
or perhaps it was one of my own that I have made when going to sail
my boat." He took courage at this and began to go about the island
again. But he went in great fear, always looking behind him. He was
always ready to run at the first sign of danger. He had made himself
a large, strong, new bow and plenty of arrows. He carried these in
a quiver he had made from his cloth. He fashioned too a sharp-pointed,
lance-like weapon which he hurled with a kind of sling. In his belt
he carried some new sharpened stone knives. He had found a better kind
of rock out of which to make his knives. It resembled glass and could
be brought to a fine, keen edge.
Armed thus, he began to have more confidence. He had a strong desire
to see the footprint again and make up his mind about it. He wished
to measure it. In this way he could tell certainly whether it was a
chance print of his own foot or not. So, after a few days, he again
ventured across the island. Alas, on measuring the print it was much
larger than his own! There could no longer be any doubt that it
belonged to someone else.
Again great fear fell on poor Robinson. He shook with cold and fright.
He resolved to make himself more secure against attack.
He cut and carried willow stakes and set them in a thick hedge around
in front of his shelter. This was outside the first and enclosed it.
In a season or two these had grown to such a height as to shut out
all view of his home from sight to one coming to it from the front.
His flock of goats gave him many troubled thoughts. His goats were
his greatest treasure. From them he obtained without trouble his meat,
his milk and butter.
"What if they were discovered and killed or carried away?" He resolved
to divide his herd into three parts and secrete these in separate
fenced pastures in different parts of the island. His herd of goats
now numbered twenty-five. He made thorough search about the island
for the most secluded and best hidden spots where he could fence in
One day as he was exploring on the west side of the island to find
another open space for a goat field, he thought he spied away out to
sea a boat. He looked long and anxiously and yet he was not sure that
it was a boat he saw. But how easy, thought Robinson, for the people
of the mainland, which must be at no great distance to the westward,
to come across to this side of the island in fair weather. He thought
too, how fortunate he was to have been cast on the east side of the
island. For there he had his shelter in the very safest part.
As he was coming down from a hill where he had gone to get a better
view of the sea he made another discovery. About him everywhere at
the foot of the hill were bones of all kinds. Near by too, were charcoal
and ashes. There could be no mistake, the place was visited by human
beings. These were very likely savages. Everything showed that they
came for the purpose of feasting and not for plundering. It was very
likely that they neither sought anything on the island nor expected
[Illustration: WATCHING FOR SAVAGES]
This thought greatly relieved Robinson. He returned home in a very
thankful and composed state of mind. He had now been on the island
almost eighteen years and had not been discovered. Yet, no doubt, the
island had been visited many times by the savages since he had been
In a short time his fear of discovery wore off and he began to live
just as he did before his discovery.
He took, however, greater precaution against surprise. He always
carried his bow and arrows, his lance and knives. He was also very
careful about making a great smoke from his fire. He burned a great
quantity of wood in a pit and made charcoal. With this material he
had a fine fire with a very little smoke. Every day also he went to
the top of the hill back of his shelter in order to discover if possible
the approach of savages.
THE LANDING OF THE SAVAGES
Another year passed by, Robinson longed more and more to get away from
the island. Year after year he had hoped and watched in vain for a
passing ship. Every day he would scan the waters that held him
prisoner for the welcome sight of a sail. He had been disappointed.
Now his only hope was to escape to the mainland in some way. He feared
the savages. He had heard stories of their being cannibals. But if
they could come to his island in their canoes against the prevailing
wind, why could he not get to the mainland with it in his favor?
Strange as it may be, Robinson began to wish for the return of the
savages. He hoped to watch them at a distance and find out something
about their customs. More especially he wished that he might capture
one of them. He had two reasons for this. In the first place he would
have a companion. He pictured fondly how he would teach him gentle
manners and the English speech. And, too, the companion would be able
to help him. Besides this he longed above all to know more of the
mainland and whether it would be safe to go there. He wanted to find
out in what kind of boat they made the voyage. He thought that if he
had such a person he would have someone to show him the way to reach
The more he thought, the more anxious he became to see the savages
on the island. He thought so much about it by day that he dreamed about
it at night. One night he dreamed that the savages came, drew their
boats upon the shore and began to prepare their feast. As he watched
them one of their number broke away from his fellows and came straight
toward his hiding-place. Robinson thought he rushed out, drove away
those that followed the fleeing man and rescued him. This dream made
a deep impression upon him and made him await the coming of the savages
with great hopes and eagerness.
It was more than eighteen months after he had formed this plan of
capturing one of the savages before the savages made their appearance.
Robinson was surprised one morning to see no less than five canoes
drawn up on the shore at a point on his side of the island about two
miles below his shelter, to the south. The people that had come in
them were on shore and out of sight. Robinson went back to his shelter
to make his plans. He made up his mind that he would be foolish to
attack them. There must be twenty-five or thirty of them. He finally
went to a point where he could see farther inland and soon caught
sight of a crowd of about thirty savages. They were naked and dancing
around and around in a circle. All the while they were singing and
making hideous noises. There was a fire in the center of the ring of
savages. "They are cooking their feast," thought Robinson. "Maybe I
can surprise them while they eat and rush in and seize one." But this
seemed too great a risk to run. He had no weapons but his bow and
arrows, his lance and knife. What could he do against so great a
But fortune favored his plans. As he gazed at them from his safe
distance he saw one of their number break away from the rest and run
with utmost speed directly toward his hiding-place. At once two other
savages pursued him. They had no weapons but clubs. They ran with
great swiftness, but the man in front was steadily gaining ground.
Robinson now to tell the truth was dreadfully frightened to see the
savage run directly toward him and his shelter. He kept his place,
however, and watched the race. The man running away ran along the
shore and would soon come to the little creek that emptied into the
sea below his home. Robinson saw that the savage would have to swim
this to escape. He ran down thither and concealed himself behind a
tree and waited for the fugitive to come up. As he did so, the fleeing
savage plunged in and swam across with a few strong strokes. When he
was well on the bank, Robinson presented himself and made signs to
him to come to him and he would help him. The savage was at first almost
overcome with astonishment and fright, for Robinson presented a very
unusual sight. The savage at once ran to him and fell down at his
feet. Indeed so great was his fright and distress that he placed one
of Robinson's feet upon his neck in sign that he yielded up his life
into his hands. Robinson raised him up and motioned for him to take
the lance and help in defence against the men, now coming up. They
hid behind trees and waited for them to swim across the stream. But
this they did not do. When they reached the creek, they could see nothing
of their runaway. They very slowly turned and went back to their
Robinson was well content not to let them know that there was any one
on the island. He feared they might return and destroy his shelter
Robinson took the savage to his shelter and gave him bread and raisins
to eat, and a cup of water to drink. He was very hungry and ate
greedily. After he had eaten, Robinson made signs for him to lie down
and sleep, for the Indian was nearly tired out with his long and swift
He was a handsome fellow of his race. His limbs were large, straight
and strong. He had a good face. His hair was long and black, his
forehead high, and his eyes bright. His skin was not black, but of
an olive color. His teeth were fine set and as white as ivory.
He slept about an hour; when he awoke he came running to Robinson and
again made signs to him that he was his slave. "You saved my life,"
he seemed to say, "and now I will serve you." Robinson named him Friday
at once, for that was the day on which the great event of his escape
had taken place.
Robinson's next care was to fit him out with some clothing. He had
by this time several suits made of his coarse cloth. He soon had Friday
dressed in one of the old ones, with a straw or braided hat on his
head. He did not think it safe to allow Friday to sleep with him in
the bower. He made a little tent for him inside the enclosure. This
was covered with goatskins and made a very good protection from both
heat and rain.
Robinson took care to keep all his knives and weapons near him in the
bower. But his fears that Friday might harm him were unfounded. Friday
from the first was faithful to his master. He was sweet and obedient
in all things. He seemed to look upon Robinson with the love of a
child for its father and never tired of serving him.
ROBINSON AS A TEACHER
(From Robinson's Diary)
"I began to consider that having now two mouths to feed instead of
one, I must provide more ground for my harvest and plant a larger
quantity of corn than I used to plant. So I marked out a larger piece
of land and began to fence it in. Friday worked not only very
willingly but very hard. I told him that it was for corn to make more
bread because he was now with me. He let me know that he was grateful
for my kindness and would work much harder if I would tell him what
"This was the pleasantest year of all the life I led in this place.
Friday began to talk pretty well and understood the names of almost
all the things that I called for and of all the places which I wished
to send him. I was careful to teach him all the things I knew. I
showed him how to plant and harvest corn, how to gather fibre, spin
yarn and to weave it into cloth. He learned these things quickly and
became very skillful in making pots. He knew something about this
because at home he had seen the women make them. He ornamented them
with figures of birds and flowers. I taught him about the true God.
But as for writing he could never do much with this. I had no books
and could not make him understand the importance of writing. He began
to talk a great deal to me. This delighted me very much. I began to
love him exceedingly. He was so very honest and faithful.
"After I had taught him English I tried one day to find out whether
he had any wish to return to his own country and as I talked to him
about it I saw his face light up with joy and his eye sparkle. From
this I had no doubt but that Friday would like to be in his own country
again. This for a time made me sad, to think how eagerly he would
leave me to be among his savage friends. 'Do you not wish you were
back in your own country, Friday?' I said to him one day. 'Yes,' he
said, 'I be much O glad to be back in my country.' 'What would you
do there,' said I? 'Would you turn wild again and do as the savages
do?' He shook his head and said very gravely, 'No, no, Friday tell
them to live good. He tell them to plant corn and live like white mans.'
"One day when we were on the top of a hill on the west side of the
island, Friday suddenly began to jump and dance about in great glee.
I asked him what the matter was. 'O, joy, O glad,' he said; 'there
my country!' The air was so clear that from this place, as I had before
discovered, land could be distinctly seen looking westward.
"I asked him how far it was from our island to his country and whether
their canoes were ever lost in coming and going. He said that there
was no danger. No canoes were ever wrecked and that it was easy to
get back and forth. I asked him many things about his people and country.
He told me that away to the west of his country there lived 'white
mans like you.' I thought these must be the people of Central America,
and asked him how I might come from this island and get among these
white men. He made me understand that I must have a large boat as big
as two canoes.
"I resolved at once to begin to make a boat large enough for us to
pass over to the land we could see lying to the west and if possible
to go on to the white man's country Friday told me about. It took us
nearly two months to make our boat and rig her out with sails, masts,
rudder, and anchor. We had to weave our sails and twist our rope. We
burned out the canoe from a large fallen log. We used a great stone
tied securely to the end of a strong rope for an anchor.
"When we had the boat in the water, Friday showed great skill in
rowing or paddling it.
[Illustration: ROBINSON AND FRIDAY SAILING THE BOAT]
"He had managed boats ever since he was old enough, but he did not
know how to handle a sail or rudder. He learned very quickly, however,
to sail and steer the boat and soon was perfectly at home in it.
"We made our boat safe by keeping it in the little cove at the mouth
of the creek. I had Friday to fetch rocks and build a dock or place
for landing. But the rainy season was now coming on and we must wait
for fair weather. In the meantime I planned to lay by such quantities
of food as we would need to take along."
One evening Robinson sat in his shelter thinking of his plans to
escape to Friday's country. He was sad. For, after all, this place
was very dear to him. It was the only home he had. Had he not made
everything with his own hands? It was doubly dear to him on this
account. He thought how it would grieve him to leave his goats, his
fields, and the many comforts he had here.
He had been telling Friday of his home in New York. He told him of
the great city, and of its many wonderful sights. He told him of his
country and people, of his flag and its history. All these things
brought back memories of his boyhood and he wondered what changes had
come in his long absence. Friday, with wonderful intelligence,
listened to all Robinson told him. He was delighted in hearing
Robinson tell of the wonders of the great world, for he had never
known anything about it. As they talked Robinson noticed the approach
of a storm. The sky was getting black with clouds. The winds were
blowing a hurricane. The waves were coming in mountain high. It
reminded him of the eventful night now twenty-five years ago when his
ship was tossed up on the shore like an egg shell and broken to
Suddenly there was a sound that made Robinson start from his seat with
the wildest alarm. Was it the sound of a cannon from the ocean or the
terrible crash and roar of the water on the rocks of the coast? There
it is again; it is a cannon! Some ship is in distress! This is its
signal! Robinson ran out and down to the shore with Friday at his
"O master!" said Friday, "can we not help? If they only knew the
island was here and how to steer into the harbor beyond the point of
land on the south."
Robinson was so excited that he scarcely knew what he was doing. He
ran up and down the shore calling wildly, but the awful roar of the
sea and wind drowned his cries. Suddenly his thoughts came to him.
"Quick, Friday, get some fire in a pot. We will run to the point,
gather grass and wood, and make a fire there. Maybe we can guide them
into the harbor."
They soon had a great beacon light sending its welcome greeting far
over the sea. The pilot of the ship saw it and steered his ship nearer
and nearer. Robinson was ready to shout for joy as the ship seemed
about to make the harbor. The ship had her sails torn in shreds and
her rudder broken. It was hard to steer her in such a gale. On
rounding the point, she was blown on the rocks. With a frightful crash
which could be heard above the din of the storm she struck and held
fast. Robinson could hear the cries of the men and the orders of the
officers. They were trying to get boats ready to put off, but such
was the confusion of the storm and the enormous waves breaking over
the deck that it could not be done quickly. Before the men could get
a boat into the sea, and get into it, the ship gave a lurch to one
side as though about to sink. All the men jumped for one boat. It was
overburdened. The wind tossed it about. The sea soon filled it and
it went down and all were lost.
Robinson and Friday remained on the shore all night. They watched to
see if they could not help some poor sailor that might cling to a
plank and be blown on shore. They saw no one.
At last they lay down, but they could not sleep. Many times they
sprang up and ran about for fear that some poor fellow would need
their help. At last morning came. The storm ceased. Robinson and
Friday searched everywhere for the bodies of the sailors, but could
find none. But the wind had blown the ship in plain view, and into
shallow waters. It was lying on the bottom with more than half its
bulk out of the water. The masts were gone. It was a sad sight. No
human being could be seen on it.
They were now rejoiced that they had their boat ready. "Let us take
it," said Robinson "and go out to the ship. It may be some person is
still on the unfortunate ship." They were soon by the ship's side.
They rowed around it until they saw a rope hanging down from the deck.
Robinson seized this and clambered up. Friday tied the boat fast, and
followed. Robinson opened the door leading from the deck into the ship
and went down. He searched in all the cabins, and knocked at all the
doors. He called, but all was still. When he was satisfied that every
person on board had been drowned he wept bitterly.
Friday stood there with open and staring eyes. He looked and looked.
He was astonished at the large ship and at the wonderful things before
him. They were in the cabin where the passengers had been. There stood
trunks under the benches and clothes hung on the hooks on the wall.
One trunk was open. In it were telescopes through which the travelers
had looked at the land. Robinson saw also paper, pens, pen-holders
and ink. Books were also near by. Robinson first took a thick book.
It was the Bible, out of which his mother had so often taught him.
Then they came to the sailors' cabin. There hung muskets and swords
and bags of shot and cartridges. Then they went to the work-room. There
were saws, hammers, spades, shovels, chisels, nails, bottles, and pails,
knives and forks. And something more, over which Robinson was most
glad, matches. At last they came into the store-room. There lay bags
of flour and barley, teas, lentils, beans and sugar. Then Robinson
embraced Friday in his great joy and said to him, "How rich we are!"
SAVING THINGS FROM THE SHIP
After Robinson had looked through the ship he began to plan the way
to get the tools and things he most wanted on shore. He and Friday
first carried everything together that he wanted to take on shore.
When they had done this, he found he had the following things. Robinson
stood everything together that he needed most.
1. A case of nails and screws.
2. Two iron axes and several hatchets.
3. A saw.
4. A small case of planes, tongs, augers,
files, chisels, etc.
5. A third case with iron brackets, hooks,
6. A case of matches.
7. A barrel of gunpowder.
8. Two muskets and a pistol.
9. Several swords.
10. A bag of cartridges.
11. A large sail cloth and some rope.
12. A telescope.
By means of the ship's ropes, Robinson let everything down into his
boat. He himself took the Bible and then they rowed to the shore, and
unloaded the boat. Everything was put into the bower where rain could
not harm it. By the time they had this done, night was coming on and
they decided to do no more that day, but wait until the next day.
"We must work fast," said Robinson. "The first storm is likely to
break the ship in pieces and destroy everything in it."
The next morning early they ate a hastily prepared breakfast and were
off to the boat. Neither Robinson nor Friday stopped for their noonday
lunch. "A storm is brewing," said Robinson, "the air is calm, the sky
is overcast with clouds, the heat is oppressive. We must hurry." With
the utmost diligence they rowed back and forth all day. They made nine
trips. They had now on shore a surprising quantity of all kinds of
tools, goods and weapons. They had all kinds of ware to use in the
kitchen, clothes, and food. Robinson prized a little four-wheeled
wagon and a whetstone.
But in looking over his stores, Robinson suddenly discovered that he
had no needles or thread. They went at once to procure these important
articles. In looking for needles and thread, Robinson found a small
trunk full of money and valuable stones. There were diamonds, rubies,
pearls, and much gold. Robinson pushed it to one side. "What can I
do with riches on this island? I would give them all for some needles
and thread," he said to Friday. But on second thought he took the trunk
and its contents along with him to his cave. For in the trunk were
also letters and writings. "Perhaps," he said, "these tell to whom
the valuables belong and I can return them some time."
Robinson at last found a case containing everything one could need
with which to cut and sew cloth. There were scissors, thread, needles,
thimbles, tapes, and buttons. But now the wind was rising and they
must hurry. They were nearly ready for departure. They were passing
through a part of the ship not before visited. They were surprised
to hear a sound coming from a room whose door was kept shut by a heap
of stuff that had been thrown against it by the violent pitching of
the ship in the storm. Robinson and Friday cleared away the rubbish
and were surprised to find a dog almost drowned. He was so weak from
want of food that his cries could be heard a short distance only. Robinson
took him tenderly in his arms and carried him to the boat, while
Friday carried the sewing case and the trunk.
The wind was now blowing a gale. A few yards from the ship they were
in great danger. Robinson grasped the rudder and made Friday stand
ready to cut away the mast in case they found the wind too strong.
With the greatest difficulty they finally made the little cove at the
mouth of the creek and were soon landed with their precious cargo.
The next morning they eagerly searched the waters for the ship. Not
even their field glasses could reveal anything of it. Some planks,
a mast, and parts of a small boat were blown on shore. All else had
Robinson set to work at once to make a door for his bower out of the
pine wood cast up by the waves. How easy the work proceeded with saws,
hammers, augers, squares, planes, nails, hinges, and screws! With the
wagon too, Friday could now gather his corn quickly and easily, or
haul in a great quantity of grapes to dry for raisins.
Friday had never seen a gun. He did not know the use of firearms. The
muskets that Robinson had brought from the ship were a great mystery
to him. Robinson showed him their use. He showed how they could defend
themselves. He told Friday that these weapons would kill at a
distance. He took some powder and touched a match to it. Friday was
Robinson then proceeded to load the gun. He
[Illustration: ROBINSON SHOWING FRIDAY HOW TO SHOOT]
put in some powder, a ball of lead or bullet. Then at the hammer he
placed a little cap which gave a flash when struck. This ignited the
powder. When all was in readiness Robinson bade Friday follow him.
They went slowly out into the forest along the stream. Soon Robinson
espied a rabbit sitting under a clump of grass. Robinson raised his
gun, took careful aim, pressed the trigger. There was a flash and loud
report and there lay the rabbit dead. But Friday, too, was lying on
the ground. He had fainted from astonishment and fright. Robinson
dropped his gun and raised the poor fellow up to a sitting position.
He quickly recovered. He ran to get the rabbit. He examined it
carefully. Robinson at last pointed out the hole the bullet had made
and the mystery of the way the rabbit was killed was solved.
Robinson had lived alone so long that he had learned to love every
living creature on the island. He never harmed anything except when
he needed food. He had lived so quietly that the birds and animals
did not fear him. They lived near his shelter and seemed to know him.
Robinson was delighted with his new tools and weapons. But they
reminded him of home. Nothing that he had seen in all the time he had
been on the island so turned his thoughts toward home and friends.
Robinson would sit for hours thinking of the past and making plans
for the future. He was homesick.
THE RETURN OF THE SAVAGES
Robinson now renewed his plans for escaping from the island to
Friday's country. They first rebuilt their boat with their new tools.
They hollowed out the center till the sides were thin toward the top.
They shaped her sides and keel. They made her prow sharp so that she
would cut the water easily. They made a new mast, strong and tall and
shapely. They made larger and stronger sails and ropes. They made two
pairs of extra oars. They made boxes and cupboards in the prow and
stern for keeping their fresh water and provisions. Friday's eyes
sparkled with joy when it was done. He hoped he would now be able to
return to his own island and parents. Robinson noticed his joy and
asked him, "Do you want to return to your own people?"
"Yes," said Friday, "very much."
"Would you trust yourself in this boat?"
"Yes," said Friday.
"Very well," said his master, "you may have it and start home when
you please.". "Yes, Master, but you come too, my people will not hurt
you." Robinson resolved to venture over to Friday's land with him.
But before their preparations were complete the rainy season of our
fall set in. They resolved to wait until the weather was settled and
as soon as the rainy season was over to set out. They ran their boat
well up into the creek and covered it over with a large tarpaulin made
of sail-cloth obtained from the ship.
Robinson had now been on the island twenty-seven years. For the last
three years he had lived happily with his companion Friday. Every year
in September, Robinson celebrated the day his life was saved and he
was thrown up on the island. Robinson celebrated it this year with
more than the usual thankfulness. He thought that it would be his last
anniversary on the island.
One morning, Friday had gone to the beach to find a turtle. Soon he
came running back out of breath. "O Master," he cried, "they are
coming, they are coming to take me prisoner!" He was trembling with
"We must take our guns and defend ourselves," said Robinson. "But we
will not kill anyone unless they attack us." This quieted Friday. They
loaded four muskets and three pistols. Robinson put the pistols in
his belt, where he also fastened a sword. He gave Friday a pistol and
a musket, for Friday had learned to shoot well. Besides Friday carried
a bag of powder and bullets. Robinson took his field glasses and saw
twenty-one savages with two prisoners. The prisoners were bound and
lying on the ground. This was a war party celebrating a victory with
a feast. They probably intended to kill their prisoners. "We must save
the lives of those men," said Robinson.
The savages this time had landed quite near Robinson's shelter, not
more than a half mile below the creek's mouth. Soon he and Friday
started off. Robinson commanded Friday to follow quietly and not to
speak or shoot.
"We will surprise them and give them a good scare," said Robinson.
When yet a considerable distance away they could hear the savages
yelling and screaming. Some of them were dancing their war dance.
Their faces and bodies were painted to make them look terrible to
their enemies. They were dancing around their prisoners with hideous
cries and gestures. They could now see the prisoners plainly. One had
a beard and was plainly a white man. Robinson was surprised and
determined to save him at all risks.
"Get your gun ready to fire," he said to Friday, "and when I say the
word let us run forward yelling and firing our guns over their heads.
This will fill them with such fright that they will take to their
heels and boats and get away as soon as possible. In the scramble and
confusion we will rush in and rescue the prisoners."
This plan did not please Friday at all. His savage blood was up and
he wanted to kill all he could. "Let's fire on them," he said. "Let's
kill all but the prisoners."
"No, no," said Robinson, "it's always wrong to take life unless it
cannot be avoided to save one's own. Let's try my plan first."
With great reluctance Friday consented. At a signal from Robinson they
rushed forward, and when in plain sight they fired off their muskets
in the air. If the ground had suddenly exploded beneath their feet
there could have been no more confusion, astonishment, and fright.
A few took to their heels. Others lay as if dead. They had swooned
from fright. But as Robinson came up they jumped to their feet and
pushed into the boats, leaving the prisoners behind. Robinson and Friday
still rushed forward and fired their remaining loaded guns and pistols
in the air. The savages made all haste to get into their boats and
push off. Soon they were well out to sea, paddling rapidly for the
west. Robinson reloaded his arms and gave them a farewell volley, but
not a soul was killed or even wounded. This gave Robinson great
pleasure. He had accomplished his purpose without bloodshed.
They could now turn to the prisoners. Robinson ran back to them and
quickly cut their ropes. Robinson asked the white man who he was, but
the man was too weak to answer. Robinson gave him a piece of bread.
The fear of death being removed, the white man soon grew stronger.
When Friday came running back from watching the boats and saw the
savage that had been a prisoner he gave a loud yell. He threw his arms
around the man, kissed him and laughed and cried for joy. He put his
head on his breast and hugged him again and again. Robinson was
greatly surprised and puzzled. He asked Friday what his actions meant.
But so intent was Friday that he got no answer.
At last Friday recovered far enough from his great joy to say with
face beaming with delight, "O, Master, this man is my dear father."
They at once began a long conversation, each one told his story.
Suddenly Friday jumped up and said, "How foolish I am, I have not
thought to give my father anything to eat and drink. He must be nearly
starved." And away he ran toward the shelter and was soon back with
food and water to drink.
[Illustration: FRIDAY AND HIS FATHER]
Robinson learned through Friday from his father that the white man
was a Spaniard, that he had been captured by the tribe that had a battle
with Friday's people. The Spaniard was one of sixteen men that had
been saved by Friday's people from a wrecked ship. So weak were the
prisoners that they could not walk to the shelter. Robinson and Friday
made a litter and carried them one after the other. When once there,
Friday prepared some rich rice soup. The prisoners ate heartily and
in a few days were strong enough to go about the island.
DELIVERANCE AT LAST
Friday had not forgotten the plan for going to his home. He would
often mention it and spent hours talking about it during the long
rainy season. But now that the Spaniard and Friday's father had come
into the family, Robinson felt he must change his plans a little. He
felt very sorry for the Spaniards left in Friday's country. They did
not have enough to eat and were sick and sad besides. He talked the
matter over with the Spaniard many times. They at last planned to send
for them. The Spaniard and Friday's father were to go. Robinson was
for doing it at once. But the Spaniard advised delay. "How can we get
food for ourselves and fifteen others? Your small store will soon be
used up," he argued. Robinson at last saw that this difficulty must
be overcome. There was just one thing to do, and this, to delay their
departure until a new crop of corn could be raised. This would take
But at it they went. The four men could do much and work fast. They
cleared more ground and planted all the seed corn they could spare
from their store. Besides this they sowed about twelve bushels of
barley they had gotten in the ship.
The care for so much crop, its harvesting and storing away, kept them
very busy for the season. Robinson not only did this, but also
increased his flock of goats by catching kids and putting them in his
pasture. He gathered, too, all the grapes he could and dried them on
the branches of trees.
At the end of the harvesting season, they made ready their boat. They
filled it with all the bread it could well carry. They put in raisins
and fresh water. Robinson gave the Spaniard and Friday's father each
a musket and plenty of powder and bullets. Now, all was ready. Friday
gave his father a loving farewell. He stretched out his arms towards
him as the boat moved away. The Spaniard and Robinson waved their hats
and they were off.
They promised to be back in eight or nine days. Robinson and Friday
made every preparation to receive the guests. They were to have a home
not far from Robinson's built of poles, and thatched with the long
marsh grasses, like Robinson's bower. There was no need of hiding or
defending it. It did not take long to fix it up.
Eight days had now passed since the boat had left. Friday could hardly
restrain himself longer. He watched the ocean all the time. He would
go to the top of the hill with the field
[Illustration: ROBINSON AND FRIDAY SEE A SHIP]
glasses every hour during the day to catch a first glimpse of them.
On the ninth day, as Friday put up his glasses to search the waters
he dropped them with a yell of surprise. He tore down the hill with
the utmost speed and rushed up to Robinson as one gone mad. "Look,
look, O Master!" he cried, "a big ship; a big ship way out on the sea!"
Robinson took the glasses, and sure enough, there within hailing
distance was a large ocean going vessel. Robinson was overcome with
For twenty-eight years his aching eyes had scanned the waters for this
welcome sight. His joy was boundless. The ship looked like an
American. Yes, there floated the American flag! How welcome a sight
to Robinson. He could not utter a word. Tears filled his eyes and
streamed down his cheeks. He would soon have news from home. He ran
to the shore and shot off a gun to attract the attention of those on
board. He heard answering shots at once.
Soon a boat was lowered and in it three men rowed toward the shore.
It was the captain himself and two sailors. The captain was astonished
to find a man in the lonely island. Robinson told how it all had happened
and how he would like to return home. To his unspeakable delight the
captain told him that the ship was bound for New York and would take
him along free of charge, but he must leave that day. The ship could
not be delayed any longer. Of course Robinson would go. Friday was
beside himself with grief. He did not want to be left behind alone.
He did not know that the Spaniards would ever return. Something might
happen to them on the sea. But before the eventful day the Spaniards
landed. They brought word that Friday's father had died after his
return home. Friday was thrown into a fit of grief at the news. He
wept and repeated over and over his praise of the good man.
ROBINSON AT HOME
It was with a sad heart that Robinson made ready to leave. Every
familiar place seemed now doubly dear to him. He went from one to
another with tears in his eyes. Here lay his home. Here were his
fields, his crops and his goats. Everything was the work of his own
hands. He had made them all. Which should he take? He hesitated long.
He must take home some of his belongings to show the people at home.
And there were his parrot and the dog which had won a place in
Robinson's heart. He decided to take them along. At length he got
together his diary, his parasol, his Bible, his treasures, a suit of
clothes, his dog, and a hat. He had saved, too, his bow and arrows.
These he decided to take along. Everything else he gave to his good
man Friday and the Spaniard who wished to be allowed to remain on the
Robinson kissed Friday tenderly. He with great effort finally tore
himself away and ran to the shore where the ship's boat awaited him.
But Robinson had not counted on the strength of Friday's love for him.
Robinson's boat had
[Illustration: ROBINSON LEAVING THE ISLAND]
not yet reached the ship when Friday sprang into the water and swam
after him shouting, "Master, take me with you, I would rather die than
stay here without you." Robinson was touched at the devotion showed
by the faithful Friday, and gave orders to turn the boat back, and
take him on board. The anchor was raised. The ship started on her way
to the home Robinson had left so long ago.
The wind was favorable and in seven weeks the spires and buildings
of his native city were in sight. His vessel came slowly up to the
wharf where he had taken ship so many years ago. Here, too, he had
played and idled his time away. He remembered it all. His idleness
and playing truant came back in sad memories. Before Robinson and Friday
landed, their good friend the captain gave them each a new suit of
Everything had changed. He scarcely knew the place. He was astonished
and confused by the din, hurry and bustle of a great city. Friday
seemed dazed by it all and clung to Robinson's side. The buildings
were so tall, the street cars, the carriages were different.
Everywhere there were iron machines, casting out smoke, puffing and
running about on iron rails. Robinson had never seen these.
Robinson, however, did not stop to admire; he pushed on to a certain
street and house where lived his parents at the time of his departure.
It was with difficulty that he found the place. It was now in the
heart of the city. Upon inquiry he found, after much searching, that
his father had removed his store and home to another part of the city,
his mother had died of grief for her disobedient son. Robinson was
sorely grieved at this. He had hoped to see her and tell her how sorry
he was that he had caused her so much anxiety and sorrow.
When he had found the place where his father lived he stole quietly
up to the house and opened the door. His father, now a gray-haired
man, bent with age and sorrow, was sitting in his armchair reading.
Robinson came forward, but his father did not recognize him. "Who are
you?" he said. "I am Robinson, your long-lost son." He knelt by his
father's side and asked forgiveness for all the trouble he had caused.
His father was overcome. He could not speak. He drew Robinson with
feeble hands to his breast. "My son, I forgive you," he said.
Robinson's boyhood friends heard of his strange return. They had
thought him dead long ago. They never tired of hearing him tell his
strange story. They pitied him in his misfortune. But Robinson told
them that it all happened to him because he was idle and disobedient
in his youth.
Robinson at once relieved his father at the store. The business
thrived. His father died. He soon had a home of his own with a happy
family. Friday, the dog, and the parrot lived in it, dearly beloved
and cared for by their master the rest of their days. In the home
there is a young Robinson who loves to hear his father read from his
diary of the wonderful things that happened on the island.
Robinson tried many times to find the rightful owner of the gold and
jewels, but never succeeded. At last he gave them to a school where
boys with idle habits were taught to lead useful and industrious