Robinson Crusoe Told to the children by Daniel Defoe, chapter name ROBINSON AND FRIDAY BUILD A LARGE BOAT; THEY RESCUE TWO PRISONERS FROM THE CANNIBALS


But still the wish to leave the island was as strong as ever, and together he and Friday went to work to fell a tree from which to build a boat good enough for their voyage to the mainland. Friday soon showed that he knew far better than Robinson the kind of tree best suited for boat-making, though he knew less about hollowing it out; for he had never seen tools suitable for such work. Friday proposed to burn out the inside, but Robinson showed him how to use the tools, and soon he was very handy with them.

It took the two of them little more than a month to finish the boat. And very handsome she looked, and very proud of her they were. But it cost them quite a fortnight of very hard work to get her into the water. Below her they had to put large wooden rollers, and then with strong sticks, inch by inch, they levered and pushed her into the sea, where she floated, very trim and ship-shape, big enough to carry a dozen men.

Robinson was astonished at Friday’s skill in paddling so large a canoe. She seemed to fly through the water, and he could turn her with great ease.

‘Will she do to go over in?’ he asked, and Friday, grinning, said, ‘Yes, even if big wind blow.’

But Robinson did not mean to depend only on paddling. He made Friday cut down a straight young pine-tree for a mast, and amongst the old ship’s sails that he had kept so long he found at last two pieces that were not rotten. From these he made what is called a shoulder-of-mutton sail, and a small foresail. It took him nearly two months to cut and fit them, but when they were finished and hoisted they acted very well, and when a clumsy rudder had been fixed to the boat, he found that she steered nicely, and was quite safe and stiff in a fresh breeze.

Friday knew nothing of sailing, and was astonished to see the boat go so fast, but he quickly learned to handle her quite as well as Robinson could do. The only thing he could not learn was how to steer by compass.

Six-and-twenty years had passed since Robinson came to the island, and though his hope of getting away was now great, he still went on digging and sowing and fencing as usual, and picking and curing his raisins, in case by any chance he should still have to stop where he was.

As the rainy season was nearly due, he made Friday dig near the creek a kind of dock in the sand for the new boat, just deep enough for her to float in; and when the tide was low, they made a dam across the end of the dock to keep the water out. Then they covered the boat over very thickly with boughs of trees; and there she lay, quite dry and snug, till the end of the wet weather, when it was Robinson’s plan to start for the mainland.

A week or two before the dry season again came, Robinson meant to open the dock and get the boat afloat once more. And to be ready in plenty of time he began to lay by a lot of food and other stores for use on the voyage.

One morning, when he was very busy over his work, he told Friday to go down to the beach to see if he could find a turtle. Off went Friday, but before he had been gone many minutes, back he came running in a great hurry, crying out ‘Master! Master! O sorrow! O bad!’

‘What’s the matter, Friday?’ asked Robinson.

‘Over yonder,’ said Friday, pointing to the west, and very much scared; ‘over yonder, one, two, three canoe.’

Robinson cheered him as well as he could.

‘Well, Friday,’ said he, ‘we must fight them. Will you fight?’

‘Yes, Friday shoot,’ he answered, ‘but too much great many come.’

‘No matter,’ said Robinson, ‘our guns will frighten those we don’t kill.’

Friday promised to stand by him to the end, and to do just as he was bid.

Then Robinson loaded two guns with large swan shot, and gave them to Friday, and himself took four muskets, which he loaded carefully with five small bullets and two slugs each, and in each of his pistols he put two bullets. Then he hung his cutlass by his side, and gave Friday a hatchet.

When all was ready, he went up the hill with his telescope, and saw that there were in all twenty-one savages, with three prisoners. They had landed not far beyond the creek, near a spot where thick bushes grew almost down to the sea.

Giving Friday one of the pistols to stick in his belt, and one of the muskets to carry, they set off, each of them now armed with a pistol and three guns, besides Robinson’s cutlass and Friday’s hatchet. Robinson put in his pocket a small bottle of rum, and gave Friday a bag with more powder and bullets to carry, and told him to keep very quiet, and to be sure not to fire till Robinson gave the word.

To get at the savages without being seen, they had to go nearly a mile out of their way, and being heavily laden, they could not go very fast. During this walk, Robinson began to argue with himself again, and to think that perhaps after all it was no business of his to go killing savages who had never done him any harm, and who were only doing what they and their people had done for hundreds of years. They knew no better, he said to himself, and why should he kill them? His mind was so filled with doubts, that he did not know what to do. Finally, he decided that he would only go near enough to see plainly what the savages were doing, but that, unless there should be some special cause for it, he would not attack them.

When he and Friday got near the place where the savages had lit their fire, Robinson sent Friday forward, to see what was going on, and to come back and tell him.

Friday crept on, and returned very quickly, saying that the cannibals had already killed one of their prisoners, and were eating him, and that very soon they would kill the second prisoner, who was lying near to them. The second prisoner, Friday said, was a white man.

This news at once changed Robinson’s plans, and he had no longer any doubt what to do.

Creeping forward, he saw plainly through his glass the white man lying bound hand and foot on the sand. There was another tree, Robinson noticed, with a clump of bushes round it, some distance nearer to the savages, and within very easy shot of them. To that he and Friday now crawled.

There was no time to lose, for when they reached the tree, two of the savages had gone to the white man, and were untying his ankles. The other cannibals were all sitting close together.

Turning to Friday, Robinson said in a low voice, ‘Now do exactly as I tell you.’ They both took aim at the crowd of savages.

‘Are you ready, Friday?’ whispered Robinson.

‘Ready,’ said Friday.

‘Then fire!’

Robinson’s first shot killed one and wounded two, but Friday’s dropped two dead, and three wounded. Snatching up fresh guns, both fired again before the savages who were not hurt could get on their feet, for they were so taken by surprise and frightened by the noise, that the poor wretches hardly knew what was happening. This time only two dropped, but many more were wounded by the swan shot, and ran about yelling till they fell from loss of blood.

‘Now, Friday,’ said Robinson, taking up one of the remaining loaded muskets, ‘follow me.’ And he rushed out of the wood, with Friday close behind, and charged down on the cannibals as fast as he could run.

The two men who had gone to kill the white prisoner no sooner saw this than they fled to the canoes, and three of the others followed, and jumped into the same canoe.

Robinson bade Friday shoot at them, and Friday, running forward, fired. All the men in the canoe fell, two of them dead and one wounded. The others seemed to fall from fear, for they soon jumped up and paddled away with all their might.

Robinson ran to the white prisoner and cut his bonds

Whilst Friday kept on firing, Robinson ran to the white prisoner and cut his bonds, helping him on to his feet, and giving him some rum from the bottle he had brought. The man, on being asked what countryman he was, answered that he was a Spaniard, and he began to thank Robinson for what he had done. But Robinson, who could speak a little Spanish, stopped him, saying, ‘Señor, we will talk afterwards. At present we must fight.’ And he gave the Spaniard the cutlass from his belt and a pistol, telling him, if he had strength left, to go and do what he could against the savages.

As soon as the man got the weapons in his hands, he ran with fury at the cannibals and cut two down, then turned, and with equal fury attacked the rest.

Robinson now sent Friday for the muskets which had been left under the tree, and began quickly to reload them, giving Friday the musket which he himself had been carrying, but which he had not fired.

Meantime the Spaniard had attacked a very big, powerful savage who was armed with a club, and though with his cutlass he had twice wounded the cannibal in the head, yet from being bound so long the white man was weak, and now looked like getting the worst of it. For the savage, making a rush, closed with him and threw him, and in the struggle had nearly wrenched the cutlass out of his hand, when the Spaniard suddenly quitting his hold, drew his pistol and shot the man through the body, killing him on the spot.

The other natives were now scattered in every direction, and Friday, running after them with his hatchet, killed all of them except one who had been wounded by the Spaniard, and who, in spite of his wounds, jumped into the sea and swam out to the canoe in which were the two others who had got away.

Friday advised Robinson to take another of the canoes and go after them; and Robinson agreed, for he thought that if any escaped they would be certain to come back, bringing hundreds of others to avenge the death of their friends. So the two ran to the beach and began to shove off a canoe. But to their surprise, on the bottom of the canoe lay another prisoner, an old man, tied so hard, neck and heels, that even when his bonds were cut he could not move. He groaned and lay still, perhaps thinking that he was only being untied to be killed.

Robinson handed the rum to Friday and told him to pour some down the poor man’s throat, which seemed to revive him, for he sat up.

No sooner did Friday look at him and hear him speak, than he began to dance and shout and laugh, and then kneeling down, rubbed noses with the savage (which is what these folks do instead of kissing each other), and he was so excited that for some time he could not explain what was the matter. As soon as he could speak, he told Robinson that the man whom they had found was his father. The poor creature’s wrists and ankles were chafed and stiff from being so long bound, and he was parched with thirst.

Friday ran and fetched water for him, and then with rum rubbed his father’s wrists and ankles. Those of the Spaniard also were so dreadfully cut and swollen, and he was so worn out with fighting, that Friday had to carry him on his back to the canoe. Then he paddled the two men along to the creek, whilst Robinson walked. But both men had to be carried up to the castle, and Robinson was forced to rig up a tent for them outside, because it was not possible for him and Friday to lift them over the fence.

The next day Robinson sent Friday to bury the bodies of the savages who had been killed, and to bring in the muskets.

When that was done, he made Friday ask his father if he thought the savages were likely to come back. The man said that he thought they were so frightened by the way they had been attacked, and by the noise of the guns and the fire and smoke coming from them, that they would probably never return. He said he had heard them call out that two evil spirits were attacking them. And it turned out that the old man was right, for no cannibals were ever again known to visit this island.