Chapter Five: Friday's Story
Friday learned to speak quickly. He was very pleased when he understood
me or could make me understand him. It was good to talk to him. Now my
life was easy. I took Friday out with me to shoot a goat. When I fired my
gun, Friday trembled and tore open his jacket to see if he was wounded.
He knelt on the ground and said many things I did not understand. I think he
was begging me not to kill him.
I took him by the hand and laughed at him, then pointed to the goat I had
shot. He was amazed. I believe that, if I had let him, he would have
worshipped me and my gun. For days afterwards he would not touch the
gun, but he often spoke to it, begging it not to kill him.
That night I roasted some meat and gave it to Friday. He enjoyed it so
much that he told me he would never again eat man's flesh. I was very glad
to hear that.
The next day I taught Friday how to make bread. After a little time, he was
able to do these things as well as I could do them myself. This was the best
year of my life on the island. Now I had someone to talk to, and he was a
pleasant fellow. He was honest and simple. I began really to love him, and
I believed he loved me more than he had ever loved anything before.
One day I talked to Friday about his nation. I asked him what his nation
did with the prisoners they took in battle.
'Do they carry them away and eat them, as these did?' I asked.
'Yes,' said Friday. 'My nation eat men too.'
'Do they ever carry prisoners to this island?'
'Have you been here with them, Friday?'
'Yes. I have been here.' He pointed to the western side of the island.
So Friday had been one of the cannibals who used to come to the other
side of the island. He told me that one time they had eaten twenty men, two
women and a child.
Friday told me many things about the people of his nation and the nations
nearby. Then he told me that at a great distance from his nation there lived
white men like me, and that they had killed many people. I understood that
these were Spaniards, whose cruelty was well-known.
I asked him if he thought I could go from this island to the place where the
other white men lived. He said I could, but I would need a large boat. I
began to hope that I could escape from the island, with Friday's help.
I taught Friday all I could about religion. One time I asked him who made
him. He did not understand me at all. He thought I had asked who his father
was. Then I asked him who made the sea, the earth, the hills, and the woods.
He told me Benamuckee made them. Benamuckee was very old, much older
than the sea or the land, Friday said.
'If his old person has made all things,' said I, 'why do all things not
Friday looked very serious and said, 'All things say O to him'.
I asked what happened to the people who died in his country. He said they
went to Benamuckee. Then I asked whether those they ate went to
Benamuckee too, and he said yes.
I then began to teach him about the true God. I told him that the great
Creator of all things lived up there (pointing towards heaven). I said he was
omnipotent. He could give everything to us and take everything away from
us. Friday listened very attentively. He liked the idea that Jesus Christ was
sent to save us and that God could hear our prayers. He said that if God
could hear us in heaven, He must be a greater god than Benamuckee.
Benamuckee only heard when people went to the mountains to speak to him,
Friday said. He told me that only the old men were allowed to go to speak to
Benamuckee. 'Well,' I thought, 'there are cunning priests even among
I told Friday that the old men were not telling the truth when they said
they had spoken to Benamuckee. I said perhaps they had spoken to the devil.
I then had to explain to Friday who the devil was.
Some days later, I spoke to Friday about God again.
Friday said, 'If God is so strong, why does he not destroy the devil?'
I was surprised at this question. I was a very old man, but I was a very
young teacher of religion. I asked him to repeat what he had said. This gave
me the time to think of an answer.
'God will punish the devil in the end,' said I .
That did not satisfy Friday. 'But why does God not kill him now? Why did
God not kill him long ago?'
I said, 'Why does God not kill you and I when we are wicked? He gives us
time to repent and be forgiven.'
Friday thought about this. Then he said, 'Well, well. I understand. You, I,
and the devil are all wicked, but God lets us all live so that we can repent
and be forgiven.'
Here I was in difficulty again, and I thought how true it was that reason
alone cannot lead us to salvation. I told Friday that I needed something and
sent him to get it. This gave me time alone to pray to God that he would help
me to teach Friday.
As a teacher, I had more sincerity than knowledge. In trying to teach
him, I taught myself many things that I did not know before and many I did
not really understand. I wanted to understand more than ever before. I do not
know whether I helped Friday, but I am sure that Friday helped me. I was
more contented than before, and I enjoyed my home very much. I thanked
God for allowing me to save the life and perhaps the soul of this poor savage.
When I thought about these things I felt a secret joy, and I thanked God for
bringing me to the island.
Friday and I lived happily together on the island for three years. The
savage was now a good Christian, better indeed than I was myself. One day I
showed him the wreck of the boat in which my companions and I had left
our ship. Friday looked at it a long time then said, 'Once a boat like that
came to my nation.'
'Were there any white men in the boat?' I asked.
'Yes,' said Friday, 'there were seventeen'.
'And what happened to them?'
'They live in my nation,' he said.
Perhaps these white men were from the ship that I had seen wrecked near
my island, I thought.
'But Friday,' said I, 'why do the people of your nation not kill and eat the
'We only eat the flesh of prisoners we catch in battle,' said he. Some time
after this, when we were on the hilltop looking out to sea, we saw the coast
of America. 'Oh joy!' cried Friday. 'There is my country! There is my
His eyes shone and his face was eager. I began to worry. If Friday could
return to his own nation, I thought, he would forget about me and his new
religion. Perhaps he would even tell his people about me and return with
hundreds of them to eat me. I worried about this for several weeks. Then one
day I asked him, 'Friday, would you like to return to your own nation?'
'Oh yes,' said Friday, 'that would make me very happy.'
'What would you do there?' I asked. 'Would you eat men's flesh and
become a savage again?'
Friday shook his head and said, 'No. I would teach them how to live well
and how to pray to God. I would teach them to eat bread and the flesh of
goats and never to eat men.'
'But then,' I said, 'they would kill you.'
'No. They would not kill me. They would be willing to learn.'
I told him that I would make a canoe for him to go back to his nation.
Then Friday said that he would go if I would go with him.
'I go!' said. 'But they would eat me!'
'No, no,' he said. 'I would tell them not to eat you. I would make them love
you very much.'
I told him again that I would make him a canoe so that he could return to
his nation. Friday looked very sad. 'Why are you angry with me?' he asked. I
said I was not angry with him at all. 'Then why do you want to send me
'But Friday,' said I, 'did you not say that you want to go home?'
'Yes, yes,' said Friday. 'I wish we were both there. I do not wish to return
'But what would I do there, Friday?' I asked.
'You could do a lot of good there. You could teach my people to be good.
You could tell them about God.'
'No, no, Friday,' I said. 'You go without me and leave me here to live alone,
as I did before.'
He looked very distressed at my words, and taking up a hatchet, he gave it
to me and said, 'Kill me!'
'Why must I kill you?' I asked in amazement.
'Why do you want to send me away? Do not send me away. It is better to
kill me.' He spoke very sincerely, and his eyes were full of tears.
I saw clearly that he loved me and would never leave me. I told him that I
would never send him away from me, if he was willing to stay.
We started building a boat large enough for the two of us and all our
goods. The rainy season came before we finished the boat. Therefore, we
brought it into the river to keep it safe until the weather was calm.