Stranded on the Island
I looked up and thanked God for saving my life. A short time before there had seemed to be no hope. It is impossible to describe the joy of someone who has just escaped death. I alone had survived; all my companions were dead. When I saw how far away the ship was, I was amazed that I had been able to get to shore.
I then began to look around me, to see what kind of a place I was in. My joy left me. I was wet, I had no other clothes, and I had nothing to eat or drink. Surely I would die of starvation or be eaten by wild animals. I had no gun with which to hunt for food or defend myself. For a while I ran around, trembling and crying. Night came. I walked around, looking for fresh water. When I found some, I drank, then I climbed up a tree to sleep.
When I awoke the sun was shining. The waves had moved the ship closer to the shore during the night. I realised that if we had stayed on board we would all have survived the storm. This thought made the tears run clown my face.
I took off my clothes and swam to the ship. I climbed aboard and looked around. The ship’s store of food was not wet. I needed a boat or raft to carry the goods back to the shore. There were several large pieces of wood on the ship. I threw them into the sea then jumped in myself and tied them all together with rope. In this way, after a lot of time and effort, I made a raft.
I then loaded the raft with food, clothes, tools, guns, and bullets, all packed in wooden boxes. I got onto the raft and returned to the shore.
A short distance from where I had landed the night before, I saw a river. I landed the raft a little way up the river and got all my goods on shore.
I did not yet know whether I was on the mainland or on an island. I took a gun and climbed a hill. From the top of the hill I saw that I was on an island. I saw many birds, but no animals or people. On my way back down the hill, I shot a bird. I believe it was the first gun fired there since the creation of the world. At the sound, thousands of birds rose screaming into the air.
That evening I set wooden boards and boxes around me to protect me as I slept.
The next day I returned to the ship. This time I got a hammock, blankets, hatchets, a perspective glass and sails.
Back on shore, I made a tent out of one of the sails. I brought everything into the tent that could be ruined by rain or sun. Then I made a bed and slept in it quietly all night, for I was very tired from the work of the day.
I had the largest store, I believe, that was ever laid up for one man. However, I was not satisfied. The ship had not yet broken to pieces, and I thought I should get everything I could out of her. Every day I went to the ship and brought back more goods. I brought bread, rum, sugar, and many other things back to my tent.
Finally there was nothing more to take out of the ship. I then began to take pieces of the ship itself. Iron, nails, rope — I carried away everything I could.
I had now been on the island for thirteen days and had been eleven times on board the ship. I think that if the weather had remained calm I would have brought the whole ship away piece by piece.
The last time I went to the ship I found money. I smiled and said, ‘Oh, drug! What are you good for? One knife is worth more to me than all this money. I will leave you here! You are a creature whose life is not worth saving!’ However, on second thoughts, I took it away.
Then clouds covered the sky and the wind began to blow. I went home to my tent, where I lay with all my wealth around me, very secure. There was a bad storm that night. In the morning the ship was gone.
I now began to think about protecting myself from savages and wild animals. I wanted to build my house in a place that was near a fresh water supply. It should be sheltered from the sun. It should be safe from attack. Finally, it should face the sea, so that I could see any ship that came near the island. (I still hoped to be rescued).
I found a little flat shelf on the side of a hill. There was a cliff behind it, so that nothing could attack me from behind. In front, the hill descended to the beach. It was on the north side of the hill, so that it was sheltered from the sun all day.
I built my tent against the cliff. Then I built a high, strong, wooden fence in a semicircle around the front of my tent. I made a ladder. When I was inside, I could bring the ladder in after me. In this way neither man nor beast could enter my house.
It took a lot of time and effort to carry all my goods inside.
Then I began to dig out a cave in the cliff behind my tent, because I needed a place to store my property. After a big storm, I was afraid that lightning might strike my great box of gunpowder. Therefore, I made many small boxes and put the gunpowder in them. These I hid in places secure from lightning.
Every day I went out hunting. There were goats on the island.
I shot a she-goat that had a little kid by her. This made me very sad. When I carried the dead she-goat to my house, the kid followed me, but it would not eat. I was therefore forced to kill it and eat it.