Robinson Crusoe Told to the children by Daniel Defoe, chapter name HOW ROBINSON TRAINED FRIDAY


Whilst the man slept, Robinson went out to milk his goats, at which work the savage, having waked in about half an hour, found him, and running up, threw himself on the ground near Robinson’s feet, one of which he again raised as before, and placed on his head. At the same time he made every kind of sign of gratitude and submission.

In a little while Robinson began to speak to him, and to try to teach him things. First, he made him understand that his name was to be ‘Friday,’ (that being the day of the week when Robinson had saved him from a horrible death). Then he taught him the meaning of ‘Yes,’ and ‘No,’ and to call Robinson, ‘Master.’

Friday showed great quickness in learning. He seemed to be happy and contented, and free from trouble, except that the clothes which Robinson made him wear gave him at first great discomfort, for in those warm parts of the world the natives are not used to clothes, but always go about naked. And perhaps they are healthier so, for when rain comes, they can cover their skin with cocoa-nut oil, and the wet then runs off their bodies without chilling them, and they do not catch cold by wearing damp clothes. Sometimes they make drooping girdles of the broad leaves of the banana, which are two or three feet long, and wear these round their waists; and sometimes, for ornament, they stick crimson flowers behind their ears, or hang them round their necks. But other clothes they have none to wear.

And indeed such things would only be in the way, for the natives who live on the coasts often pass nearly whole days swimming in the warm sea. They are never afraid of sharks, for they swim so well and so fast that often they are able to kill the sharks, diving under them, and stabbing them in the belly with a knife.

Even the very little children swim almost before they can walk, and whole families go out for a day in the sea, as children and their parents in England might go for a picnic. One of their games, when a heavy swell is rolling in, toppling over in cataracts of foam as the waves reach the shallower water near the shore, is to swim out, diving through the broken water, and taking with them a light plank. On this, when they have got beyond where the seas break, they mount, and come rushing in on the crest of the great waves, shrieking with laughter when any one is upset. It is glorious fun, they think.

The day following that on which Robinson had saved Friday, they went out together to see if there were any signs of the cannibals still being on the island, but it was evident that they had gone away without troubling about the two men whom Robinson had killed. Round the place where their fire had been, were horrible remains of bodies, pieces of flesh half eaten, or charred by the fire, skulls, hands, and bones of legs and feet. Friday made Robinson understand that these were the remains of three prisoners who had been brought over along with him, to be feasted on.

Robinson’s blood ran cold as he looked, and the horror of the sight made him sick and faint. He ordered Friday to collect all the bodies and other remains, and to build a fire to burn them, which Friday very cheerfully did. To him it was no great matter, for, of course, all his life he himself had been a cannibal, and he was quite used to such scenes. Indeed, when they passed the spot where the two men had been buried in the sand, Friday pointed it out to Robinson, and gave him to understand that he meant to come back, and dig up and eat the bodies. This filled Robinson with disgust and rage, and he let Friday know that he would be severely punished, perhaps killed, if ever such a thing was done by him.

For some time Robinson did not trust Friday, and did not allow him to sleep in the same part of his castle with himself, but kept him at night in a little tent outside the fence. Every night he drew up the ladder, so that if Friday ever should attempt to get over, he would be sure to make noise enough to wake Robinson. Other precautions also he took, but soon he found that they were not needed. Friday was quite faithful. And he was never sulky nor lazy, but always merry, and ready to do anything that Robinson told him. And as time went on, Robinson did not doubt that if there should ever be need for it, Friday would risk his life to save his master.

At first when they went out in the woods together, Friday was terrified each time that Robinson’s gun was fired. He had never seen anything put into it, and it was more than he could understand how things could be killed merely by the noise and the flash of fire. It seemed to him that the gun was some sort of evil spirit that might do him harm, and it was long before he could be brought to touch one of them, though when he was alone Robinson often heard him talking to them. Afterwards, when he could speak English better, and knew more about guns, he told Robinson that he used to ask them not to kill him.

One thing that Robinson could never teach Friday was to eat salt with his food. Salt is a thing that the cannibals do not use, and some of them, to this day, go so far as to say that they do not care to eat a white man, because he is too salt. A native of their own race, they think, is much sweeter, though of course they eat only men of a different tribe whom they may capture during one of their wars. But the only form in which they take salt is as sea water, and that they use as medicine, drinking it in large quantities till it makes them sick.

Robinson asked Friday if his tribe ever came to this island, and Friday said that they did, and that he himself had often come over; and he told Robinson that on one visit he and his friends had eaten more than twenty men. His tribe, he said, was very strong, and fought well. Thus they took more prisoners, and used the island oftener than the other tribes, and it seemed that the far side of the island, where Robinson had seen so many remains of feasts, was the part that Friday’s tribe held as their own. Sometimes other tribes used another island for their feasts.

It troubled Robinson’s mind greatly to hear what Friday had to say about this custom, but by little and little, as the weeks went past, he got him to see how horrible a thing it was to eat human flesh. From this beginning, Friday gradually came to be in his habits more like a white man, and teaching him was a great joy to Robinson, who found the years after Friday’s arrival the happiest of all that he had lived on the island. Not only had he now help in his work, but he had some one to talk to, for want of which, during the weary years when he was alone, he had almost forgotten his own tongue.

When they began easily to understand each other, Robinson asked Friday how far it was from the island to his country, and if the canoes were not often lost whilst crossing. Friday said there was no danger, and that no canoes were ever wrecked; that always in the morning the wind and the current set one way, and the other in the afternoon. This Robinson thought must have something to do with the tides, but afterwards he learned that the change of wind was only the difference between the sea breeze and the land breeze, which blow time about, morning and evening, in those parts. The change in the current was due to the in-draft and out-draft of a great river, off whose mouth the island lay.

Friday told Robinson much about his country, and about his people, who he said were Caribs. And a great way ‘beyond the moon,’ by which he meant to the west, he said that white men lived who had beards such as Robinson wore. These white men, he said, had killed very many natives, from which Robinson fancied that they must be Spaniards, who about that time were very cruel to the people whose countries they had taken.

Robinson asked if Friday could tell him how he might get over to where the white men lived, and Friday said it would be very easy, if they had a big canoe. And again Robinson began to make plans and to hope to escape from the island. He showed Friday the boat in which he and the crew had tried to land from the wreck, the remains of which still lay high up on the shore, out of reach of the waves of any but a very high tide, or of a storm worse than common. Friday looked long at it without speaking, till Robinson asked what he was thinking of.

Then he said that he had once before seen such a boat, but for some time he could not make Robinson understand where, or when, he had seen it. Robinson thought he meant that a ship had been driven ashore on the coast, and that the boat, perhaps, had come from her. But presently Friday spoke of the men who had been in the boat, and whom he and his people had pulled out of the sea. He counted on his fingers to make Robinson understand that there had been seventeen of them.

‘Where are they now?’ Robinson asked; and Friday said they still lived with his tribe.

This put new ideas into Robinson’s head, for he thought that probably these men might have belonged to the ship whose guns he had heard, and to which he had afterwards gone out in his boat as she lay on the reef.

Friday said that his people had given the men food, and had not hurt them.

‘Why did they not kill and eat them?’ asked Robinson; and again Friday assured him that they ate men only whom they took in war.

It was some time after this that Robinson and Friday chanced to be on the high hill at the east end of the island. The day was cloudless and very clear, with a light breeze rippling the water, just such a day as that on which, years ago, Robinson had seen land, far over the sea. Friday gazed long in that direction, and then began to jump and dance, pointing to the dim blue coast. ‘There my country! See! There my people live!’ he said, his eyes sparkling with joy, and an eager light on his face.

After this, for a time Robinson was not easy in his mind about Friday. He had little doubt that if he could get back to his tribe, he would soon forget all he had been taught, all that Robinson had done for him, might even return, perhaps, with a hundred or two of his friends, and kill and eat his master. But in this Robinson was very unjust to Friday, who had no such thoughts in his mind as those of which he was suspected.

And this Robinson soon found out. One day, as they walked up the same hill, he asked if Friday would not be glad to be once more in his own land.

‘Yes,’ said Friday; ‘very glad.’

‘Would you eat men’s flesh again?’

‘No, never,’ said Friday, shaking his head very much.

Then Robinson asked why he did not go back. It was too far to swim, said Friday. Robinson said he would give him a boat, and Friday said, very well, he would go if Robinson came too.

‘But your people will eat me,’ said Robinson.

‘No, no,’ Friday answered; ‘you good to me. They good to you.’

Robinson had then more than half a mind to go, for if he could join the other white men, he thought there would be a better chance to build a boat big enough to sail in to England.

So he took Friday to the place where he kept the small canoe he had made, and quickly he found that he was a very much better boatman than Robinson himself, and could make her go through the water nearly twice as fast as Robinson was able to do.

But when Robinson asked if they might try to go over in that boat, Friday’s face fell. She was too small, he said. Robinson then showed him the first boat he had built, and which had been lying on the sand now for more than twenty-two years. That, Friday said, was big enough. But the heat of the sun by this time had so warped and cracked her that, even if they could have got her into the sea, she would not have floated.

Then Robinson told Friday that he would build him a bigger boat, and send him home in it, but that he himself would remain on the island alone, as he had been before.

The poor lad’s feelings were hurt at this, and he asked, ‘Why you angry mad with Friday? Suppose master go, Friday go! Suppose master no go, Friday no go!’ And he brought a hatchet, and said, ‘You kill Friday; not send him away.’ Robinson was much touched by this devotion, and afterwards always had perfect faith in him.