Chapter Four: 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.
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 came 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 lid s 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 swim. 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.
The savage I had knocked down now began to move. I pointed to him, to
show my savage that his enemy was not dead. My savage spoke some words
to me. I did not understand them, but I enjoyed listening to them. They were
the first words spoken to me by any human being for over twenty-five years.
I pointed my gun at the savage on the ground. My savage touched the sword
at my side, as if asking to use it. I gave it to him, and he ran to his enemy
and cut off his head with one blow. When he had done this, he came back
to me, laughing, and gave me my sword. Then he buried the bodies in the
Afterwards, I took my savage to my cave and gave him food and water. I
made signs to him that he should sleep, and pointed to the blanket where I
often slept myself.
He was a strong handsome fellow, about twenty-six years old. He had a
pleasant face, with all the sweetness and softness of a European, especially
when he smiled. When he awoke he made many signs of thankfulness to me
for saving his life. I showed him that I was pleased with him. Then I began
to speak to him and teach him how to speak to me. First I told him that his
name would be Friday, which was the name of the day on which I saved his
life. I taught him to call me Master.
I stayed with him in the cave all that night. The next morning we went out.
We came to the place where we had buried the two men. Friday made signs
to me that we should dig them up and eat them. I made signs of vomiting
and let him know how much I hated the idea. I then led him to the top of the
hill, to see if his enemies were still on the island.
The savages and their canoes were gone. We went down to the place
where they had been. I was horrified at the sight, but Friday did not seem
disturbed by it. The place was covered with human bones and blood. I saw
three skulls, five hands, and the bones of three or four legs and feet. I made
Friday put the skulls and bones into a pile and burn them. I could see that he
still wished to eat some of the flesh.
When we had done this we went back to our house. I made clothes for
Friday. Then I built a tent for him between the first fence and the second.
Thus, Friday could not attack me during the night. But there was no need.
Friday was the most faithful, loving, and sincere servant. He loved me as a
child loves his father. He would have given his life to save mine.
God did not give all his creatures the knowledge of how best to use their
capacities. However, He gave all mankind the same reason, sentiments,
and passions. It made me sad to think that God had hidden the saving
knowledge from so many millions of souls. Someone like Friday would use
that knowledge better than many white men.