robinson crusoe chapter 8


Footprints in the sand

I had now been living on the island for fifteen years. During all that time I had never seen another human being. However, savages from the mainland had clearly come to the island, and they might come again. I decided to build a second fence around my house and plant trees outside it, so that no one could enter. In six years, I had a thick wood around my house.

About two years after I saw the footprint. I thought I saw a boat in the distance off the western part of the island. Perhaps the savages from the mainland often came to that side of the island. Perhaps God had guided me to the eastern side, where the savages never came.

When I came down the hill to the shore, I was amazed and horrified to see human skulls, hands, and feet lying on the sand. There was a pit in the earth where a fire had been made. There the savages had made their inhuman feast, eating the bodies of their fellow-men.

I turned away from this terrible sight. I felt sick and vomited, then I ran back to my house.

My eyes were full of tears. I thanked God that I had been born a civilized man, quite different from these savages. I thanked Him for the comforts He had sent me in my distress.

I thought I was probably safe from the savages. I had been on the island for eighteen years, and I had never met them. I could live there safely eighteen more years, if I did not choose to show myself to them.

For two years after this, I stayed close to my house. Then I began to go about the island as before, but more cautiously. I did not fire my gun, for fear that the savages should hear the shot. Fortunately, I had my tame goats, and could kill them for meat without using my gun.

I began to think night and day of killing some of these savages. Perhaps I could rescue their victim. I was horrified by their inhuman feasting. I was full of anger towards them. Sometimes I thought of burying five or six pounds of gunpowder under the place where they made their fire. When they lit the fire, the gunpowder would explode and kill them. But I did not want to use so much gunpowder, since I had very little left.

Then I thought of waiting for them, hidden from sight, with my guns loaded. In the middle of their bloody feast, I would shoot at them, and I would be sure to kill many. Then I would run at them with my pistols and sword. Even if there were twenty of them, I was sure I could kill them all. This idea pleased me very much. I thought about it so much that I began to dream about it.

Every day for two or three months I walked to the western side of the island and looked out to sea. All this time I was willing and eager to do an outrageous act: I was ready to kill twenty or thirty naked savages. I had not given any thought to this sin. I had never asked myself if it was right or wrong. I was fired by my hatred of their unnatural customs.

When I became tired of watching out for them every day, I began to question my plan. God had let them live unpunished for ages, and what had these people ever done to me? They did not think it was a sin to kill a prisoner and eat his flesh.

Then I thought that, though this custom was inhuman, it was really nothing to me. These people had done me no harm. If they attacked me, then I might have the right to kill them. At present I was at no risk, and therefore I had no right to kill them. If I did so, I would be no better than the Spaniards, who had destroyed millions of savages in America. The savages had done the Spaniards no harm. All the Christian nations of Europe said that the Spaniards had been cruel and unnatural to kill those people.

These thoughts made me abandon my bloody plan. Besides, I thought that attacking them would put me at greater risk. If I did not kill all of them, the survivors would go home and return with others to kill me. Therefore, I decided, it was neither just nor wise to attack the savages.

I gave thanks to God that I had been saved from committing a great sin. For a year afterwards, I never went to the western shore except once, to get my boat and hide it on the eastern side of the island.

I had now been living on the island for twenty-three years, and I had found some pleasant ways to pass the time. I taught my parrot to speak. I taught him to say ‘Poor Robinson Crusoe!’ He lived with me for twenty-six years. Perhaps he is still living on the island, calling out ‘Poor Robinson Crusoe!’

‘I might have lived this way until I died contented in old age, but God had other plans for me. How often in our lives the thing we fear most becomes the means of our deliverance! I could give many examples of this in my strange life. However, the best example is that of my last years on the island.

It was December of my twenty-third year. I went out early one morning, when it was still dark. Suddenly I saw a fire on the shore about two miles away. I went back to my house and pulled the ladder up after me. I loaded all my guns and prayed to God to protect me.

After about two hours, I wanted to know what was happening outside. I climbed the hill behind my house, lay down in the grass, and looked towards the shore with my perspective glass. There I saw nine naked savages sitting around a small fire. They had two canoes with them. Some hours later, they got into their canoes and left the island. As soon as they were gone, I took my guns and went to the western shore. I saw that there had been three more canoes at that place. Looking out to sea, I saw them all rowing back to the mainland. Going down to the shore, I saw the remains of their unnatural feast: the blood, the bones, the parts of human bodies. I was so filled with anger at this sight that I began again to think about destroying the next savages who came there.


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