It was more than fifteen months before they returned to the island. During all this time I was in a murderous state of mind. I did not think that, if I killed these savages, I would have to also kill the next ones who came, and the next, and the next. In the end I would be as much a murderer as they were, and perhaps much more so.
On the sixteenth of May in my twenty-fourth year on the island, there was a terrible storm. I was reading the Bible and thinking about my condition. Suddenly I heard the sound of a gun out at sea. I left my house and ran up to the top of the hill. There I saw a flash of fire on the sea and heard the sound of the gun again. ‘It must be a ship in distress,’ I thought, ‘firing her guns to call for help.’ I could not help them, but I thought that they might help me. Therefore I built a fire on the hilltop. I was sure that the people on the ship had seen my fire, because as soon as I lit it they fired the gun again.
The next morning, I saw that the ship was wrecked. Perhaps the people on board were all dead. Or perhaps they had escaped in a boat and been blown away from the island towards the open sea. If so, they would die of starvation. Even now, they might be thinking of eating one another.
I was thankful that God had chosen to save me alone out of all those who had been drowned in this sea. But I was also sad, so that I cried out, ‘Oh! If one person had been saved out of that ship and had escaped to this island, I would have had a companion, someone to talk to!’ In all my time on the island, I never had so strong a desire for human society.
I was in great distress. ‘Oh! If just one had been saved!’ I cried over and over again. But it was not to be. A few days later I saw the body of a drowned boy come on shore, which made me very sad.
I took my boat and went out to the wreck. There I found no living soul, but I brought back more goods, about eleven hundred pieces of eight, and some gold. I stored these goods in a cave on the island.
For the next two years, I lived quietly and cautiously on the island. Yet all that time I was imagining ways to escape. Thus once again I was an example of the common weakness of mankind: we are never satisfied with what God has given us, and this makes us miserable.
One night I dreamt I was going out in the morning from my house. On the shore I saw two canoes and eleven savages coming to land. They had with them another savage, and they were going to kill and eat him. Suddenly, their prisoner began to run as fast as he could. He ran to the thick woods in front of my house to hide himself. Seeing that he was alone, I showed myself to him. He knelt down before me and begged me to help him. I showed him the ladder and took him into my house. He became my servant. Then I thought I could go to the mainland with this man to guide me. I awoke full of joy, but when I found it was only a dream I felt very sad.
This dream gave me the idea that my only hope of escape was to get a savage, if possible I would rescue one of those they brought over to eat. This could only be done by killing all the other savages, and my heart trembled at the thought. However, my desire to escape was so strong that finally I decided to watch out for the savages again.
For about a year and a half I watched. No one came to the island in all that time. Then, one morning, I saw five canoes on the shore. I climbed the hill, hid myself in the grass, and watched them with my perspective glass. There were about thirty of them. They had built a fire and were dancing around it. As I watched, they brought two prisoners from the boats to be killed. One of the prisoners fell down, and the savages began cutting him up for their feast. At that moment, the other prisoner began to run. He ran with amazing speed along the shore towards my house.
I was terribly frightened when I saw him running towards me. I thought that all the others would follow him. My dream seemed to be coming true. When I saw that only three men were pursuing him, I felt less frightened. The prisoner came to the river, jumped in, and swam across. When his pursuers came to the river, one of them stopped and turned back, for clearly he could not swam. The others swam across the river, but not so quickly as the prisoner had done.
I thought that God was calling me to save this poor creature’s life. I thought that by saving his life I would get a servant, and perhaps a companion. I took my guns and ran down to the shore. I cried out to the prisoner. At first he was frightened of me. Slowly I walked towards the two who followed. I hit the first one with my gun. Having knocked this fellow down, I walked towards the other. I saw that he had a spear. He was ready to throw it at me. Therefore I had no choice but to shoot him.
Though he saw that both his enemies had fallen, the poor savage was frightened by the sound of my gun. I called to him and made encouraging signs. The poor creature was trembling. He walked towards me slowly. When he came close to me, he knelt on the ground and kissed the earth. He then put his head upon the ground. He took my foot and placed it upon his head. I helped him to his feet and encouraged him.