Chapter Six: Coming Back Home
I had now been on the island for twenty-seven years. One day I sent Friday
to get a turtle. He came running back from the shore, crying, 'Oh, Master,
Master! There are three canoes!' The poor fellow was terribly frightened.
'Will you help me to fight them, Friday?' said I.
'Oh yes,' said he.
'And will you do everything I tell you to do?'
'Yes, yes. I will,' said he.
'Then I will defend you, Friday,' said I, giving him a loaded gun and a
He said, 'Master, I will die when you tell me to die.'
I took the pistols and my sword. We went up the hill to see what was
happening. There were twenty-one savages, three prisoners, and three
canoes. They had landed closer to my house than ever before. This filled me
with anger, but then I thought, 'What right have I to kill men who have done
me no harm? It is a national sin, and God alone can punish the nations.'
Friday could attack them, because they were the enemies of his nation. They
had tried to kill and eat him. But, since they had done me no harm, I had no
right to kill them. Therefore I decided not to attack them. Instead, I would
hide myself and watch their cannibal feast. I would wait for a sign from God
before I acted.
I sent Friday closer to look at the savages. He came back and told me that
they were around the fire, eating the flesh of one of their prisoners. Another
prisoner was lying upon the sand with his hands and feet bound! Friday
said that they would kill him next. This made me very angry. Then Friday
told me that this other prisoner was not of his nation. He was one of the
white men who had come to Friday's nation in a boat. I was horrified at the
thought of this white man waiting to be killed and eaten. I went closer and
looked through my perspective glass. I saw a white man tied up on the beach.
He wore clothes and was clearly a European.
I moved closer to the beach, keeping myself hidden behind the bushes.
Two savages were approaching the poor Christian. They were going to kill
him and bring him piece by piece to the fire. I told Friday to do as I did. I
took one of my guns and aimed at the savages. Friday did the same. We both
fired our guns at the same moment.
Friday was a better shot than I. He killed two of them and wounded three
more. All those who were not hurt jumped up and looked around in fear and
amazement. I threw down that gun and took up another. Friday did the same.
'Are you ready, Friday?' said I.
'Then fire, in the name of God!'
Again we both fired our guns at the same moment. Only two were killed,
but many were wounded and ran about screaming and covered in blood.
'Come, Friday,' said I. 'Follow me'. I ran out of the bushes and showed
myself to the savages. Friday followed me without question. I ran towards
the poor victim. Some of the savages ran away and jumped into a canoe. I
told Friday to shoot them. He killed two of them and wounded another.
I pulled out my knife and cut the ropes that bound the poor victim. I asked
him in Portuguese what he was. He said, 'Espagniole'. I gave him a gun and
a sword. The savages that remained had been very frightened by the sound
of my gun. The poor creatures lay on the ground unable to move. The
Spaniard took the sword and the gun very thankfully. They seemed to give
him new strength. He attacked his murderers and cut two of them to pieces.
I told Friday to get the other guns. Then I sat down and began to load them.
Friday and the Spaniard fought the savages. They came to me when they
wanted a loaded gun.
Friday pursued the savages who were running away. He killed four of
them with his hatchet. At the end of the battle, most of the savages were
dead: 3 killed at our first shot from the tree. 2 killed at the next shot. 2
killed by Friday in the boat. 2 killed by Friday of those at first wounded. 1
killed by Friday in the wood. 3 killed by the Spaniard. 4 killed by Friday
while they were running away. 4 escaped in the boat, of which one was
wounded or dead. 21 in all.
I ran towards a canoe, because I wanted to pursue the savages who had
escaped to sea. However, when I got to the canoe, I found another poor
creature tied up in it. I cut the ropes that bound him and gave him rum to
drink. Then I told Friday to explain to him that he was saved. But when
Friday saw him, he kissed him. He cried, then he laughed, then he danced. I
looked at him in amazement. 'Friday! What does this mean?' said I.
'Oh, Master!' said Friday, with tears in his eyes, 'that prisoner is my father!'
I was sincerely moved to see how much Friday loved his father. He got
into the boat and took his father in his arms. There he stayed for half an hour,
holding his father close.
Friday took good care of his father and the Spaniard. He ran back to the
house to bring them bread and fresh water.They were both very weak, and
their feet hurt from being tied, so they could not walk. Friday put the
Spaniard into the canoe beside his father. He pushed the canoe around the
shore to our river. We carried them from the river to the house, but there we
met a great difficulty. How could we get them over the fence? It was
impossible, so Friday and I set to work. In about two hours we built a
handsome tent for them, covered with sails, just outside the second fence.
My island was now peopled. I was the king, and all my subjects owed
their lives to me, because I had saved them all from certain death. Although
I had only three subjects, they were all of different religions. My man Friday
was a Protestant, his father was a pagan and a cannibal, and the Spaniard
was a Catholic. However, I allowed freedom of religion throughout my
I said to the Spaniard, 'Do you think that the other white men who live in
Friday's nation would like to escape to a Christian country?'
'Yes, they would,' said he.
'And would they swear loyalty to me and accept me as their leader?' I
'They will be so glad to escape,' said he, 'that I am sure they will be
faithful to you'.
I decided to send the Spaniard and Friday's father back to the mainland to
speak to the other white men there. The Spaniard said that we should wait
until we had enough food for them all. My grain and my goats were enough
for four, but they would not be enough for sixteen others.
We planted more barley and rice. I ordered Friday and his father to build a
boat big enough for all of us. I told the Spaniard to supervise their work.
We went out to catch wild goats each day. I made Friday and the Spaniard
go out one day, and Friday and myself the next, for we took our turns. In this
way we got twenty young kids to breed up with the rest.
When everything was ready, Friday's father and the Spaniard took a canoe
and two guns and set off for the mainland.
'If you bring others back with you,' said I, 'they must first swear loyalty to
Eight days later, Friday awoke me crying, 'They are here! They are here!'
When I got to the shore, I saw the boat approaching us was not the one we
expected. I told Friday to hide, because we did not know whether these
people were friends or enemies. Then I went to get my perspective glass. I
climbed to the top of the hill and looked out to sea. There I saw an English
At first I thought an English ship must surely be friendly, then I had
doubts. What was an English ship doing here, far from the English trading
routes? I decided to be cautious. Now I am sure that those doubts were
messages sent from God. If I had not been cautious, I would have been
I saw the boat land on the beach. There were eleven men. Three of them
were bound with ropes. The three prisoners were crying out to the others,
begging for mercy. Friday, who was by my side, said to me, 'Oh, Master!
You see? Englishmen eat prisoners too.'
'No, Friday,' said I. 'They might murder them, but they will not eat them.'
At about two o'clock in the afternoon, the prisoners were left alone under a
tree. The other men had gone into the woods to sleep. Friday and I took our
guns and went down to show ourselves to the prisoners.
When I was very near to them but still hidden by the bushes, I cried out,
'Who are you, gentlemen?'
They were frightened by my voice, but they were even more frightened
when I stepped out into the open. I was wearing my goatskin jacket and my
hat. A naked sword hung by my side. I carried two guns and two pistols. I
thought they were going to run away from me, so I said, 'Do not be afraid. I
am your friend. How can I help you?'
One of them replied, 'You must be sent from heaven.'
'All help is from heaven, sir' I said. 'Now tell me what has happened.'
The poor man, with tears running down his face, said, 'I was the captain of
that ship, but my men have rebelled against me. They wanted to kill me, but
I persuaded them to leave me on this island, with my two friends here.'
'Do your enemies have guns?' I asked.
He said they had only one gun with them and another in the boat.
'Well,' said I, 'it will be easy to kill them, because they are all asleep. But
should we take them prisoner instead?'
He said that two of them were so evil that they must be killed, and then the
others would probably obey.
'If I save you, sir,' said I, 'you must promise to accept me as your leader
and be faithful to me.'
He promised, and the other two did the same. Then I gave them each a
loaded gun. They went into the woods towards the sleeping men. One awoke
and cried out to the others. The captain's two companions fired their guns.
They killed the two rebel leaders and took two prisoners. The others then
begged for mercy.
With these repentant men, the captain went in the boat to the ship. Since
the rebel leaders were now dead, the men on the ship decided to obey him
once more. He then returned to the island and said to me, 'My good friend,
there is your ship!'
These words affected me greatly, and I sat down upon the ground with
tears in my eyes. I did not forget to give thanks to God for delivering me.
We asked the two rebel prisoners if they wished to be left on the island or to
return to England, where they would be punished. They said they wished to
stay on the island. Therefore, I showed them my house, my goats, my grain
plantation, and my goods. I gave them guns and powder and wished them
And thus I left the island on the nineteenth of December 1686, having
lived there for twenty-eight years, two months, and nineteen days. I was
delivered on the same day of the same month that I escaped from slavery in
I took with me my goatskin hat, my umbrella, and a parrot. I also took the
money that had been so useless to me. After a long voyage, I arrived in
England on the eleventh of June 1687, having been away for thirty-five
We had many adventures afterwards, my man Friday and I. I married and
had three children, but then my wife died. A friend came home from a
successful voyage, and he persuaded me to go in his ship to the East Indies.
Our adventures on this later voyage may perhaps be the subject of another