Coming back home
I had now been on the island for twenty-seven years. One day I sent Friday to get a turtle. He came running back from the shore, crying, ‘Oh, Master, Master! There are three canoes!’ The poor fellow was terribly frightened.
‘Will you help me to fight them, Friday?’ said I.
‘Oh yes,’ said he.
‘And will you do everything I tell you to do?’
‘Yes, yes. I will,’ said he.
‘Then I will defend you, Friday,’ said I, giving him a loaded gun and a hatchet.
He said, ‘Master, I will die when you tell me to die.’ I took the pistols and my sword. We went up the hill to see what was happening. There were twenty-one savages, three prisoners, and three canoes. They had landed closer to my house than ever before. This filled me with anger, but then I thought, What right have I to kill men who have done me no harm? It is a national sin, and God alone can punish the nations. Friday could attack them, because they were the enemies of his nation. They had tried to kill and eat him. But, since they had done me no harm. I had no right to kill them. Therefore I decided not to attack them. Instead, I would hide myself and watch their cannibal feast. I would wait for a sign from God before I acted.
I sent Friday closer to look at the savages. He came back and told me that they were around the fire, eating the flesh of one of their prisoners. Another prisoner was lying upon the sand with his hands and feet bound. Friday said that they would kill him next. This made me very angry. Then Friday told me that this other prisoner was not of his nation. He was one of the white men who had come to Friday’s nation in a boat. I was horrified at the thought of this white man waiting to be killed and eaten. I went closer and looked through my perspective glass. I saw a white man tied up on the beach. He wore clothes and was clearly a European.
I moved closer to the beach, keeping myself hidden behind the bushes. Two savages were approaching the poor Christian. They were going to kill him and bring him piece by piece to the fire. I told Friday to do as I did. I took one of my guns and aimed at the savages. Friday did the same. We both fired our guns at the same moment.
Friday was a better shot than. He killed two of them and wounded three more. All those who were not hurt jumped up and looked around in fear and amazement. I threw down that gun and took up another. Friday did the same. ‘Are you ready, Friday?’ said I.
‘Then fire, in the name of God!’
Again we both fired our guns at the same moment. Only two were killed, but many were wounded and ran about screaming and covered in blood. ‘Come, Friday,’ said I. ‘Follow me’. I ran out of the bushes and showed myself to the savages. Friday followed me without question. I ran towards the poor victim. Some of the savages ran away and jumped into a canoe. I told Friday to shoot them. He killed two of them and wounded another.
I pulled out my knife and cut the ropes that bound the poor victim. I asked him in Portuguese what he was. He said, ‘Espagniole’. I gave him a gun and a sword. The savages that remained had been very frightened by the sound of my gun. The poor creatures lay on the ground unable to move. The Spaniard took the sword and the gun very thankfully. They seemed to give him new strength. He attacked his murderers and cut two of them to pieces.
I told Friday to get the other guns. Then I sat down and began to load them. Friday and the Spaniard fought the savages. They came to me when they wanted a loaded gun.
Friday pursued the savages who were running away. He killed four of them with his hatchet. At the end of the battle, most of the savages were dead: 3 killed at our first shot from the tree. 2 killed at the next shot. 2 killed by Friday in the boat. 2 killed by Friday of those at first wounded. 1 killed by Friday in the wood. 3 killed by the Spaniard. 4 killed by Friday while they were running away. 4 escaped in the boat, of which one was wounded or dead. 21 in all.
I ran towards a canoe, because I wanted to pursue the savages who had escaped to sea. However, when I got to the canoe, I found another poor creature tied up in it. I cut the ropes that bound him and gave him rum to drink. Then I told Friday to explain to him that he was saved. But when Friday saw him, he kissed him. He cried, then he laughed, then he danced. I looked at him in amazement. ‘Friday! What does this mean?’ said I.
‘Oh, Master!’ said Friday, with tears in his eyes, ‘that prisoner is my father!’
I was sincerely moved to see how much Friday loved his father. He got into the boat and took his father in his arms. There he stayed for half an hour, holding his father close.
Friday took good care of his father and the Spaniard. He ran back to the house to bring them bread and fresh water. They were both very weak, and their feet hurt from being tied, so they could not walk. Friday put the Spaniard into the canoe beside his father. He pushed the canoe around the shore to our river. We carried them from the river to the house, but there we met a great difficulty. How could we get them over the fence? It was impossible, so Friday and I set to work. In about two hours we built a handsome tent for them, covered with sails, just outside the second fence.