AN AMERICAN ROBINSON CRUSOE FOR AMERICAN BOYS AND GIRLS
THE ADAPTATION, WITH ADDITIONAL INCIDENTS
SAMUEL B. ALLISON, Ph.D.
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, CHICAGO, ILL.
EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING COMPANY BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO SAN FRANCISCO
EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
I Robinson with His Parents 7
II Robinson as an Apprentice 10
III Robinson's Departure 13
IV Robinson Far from Home 17
V The Shipwreck 19
VI Robinson Saved 21
VII The First Night on Land 23
VIII Robinson on an Island 28
IX Robinson's Shelter 30
X Robinson Makes a Hat 34
XI Robinson's Calendar 38
XII Robinson Makes a Hunting Bag 41
XIII Robinson Explores the Island 44
XIV Robinson as a Hunter 48
XV Robinson's Shoes and Parasol 51
XVI Getting Fire 53
XVII Robinson Makes Some Furniture 55
XVIII Robinson Becomes a Shepherd 57
XIX Robinson Builds a Home for His Goats 60
XX Robinson Gets Ready for Winter 64
XXI How Robinson Lays up a Store of Food 67
XXII Robinson's Diary 70
XXIII Robinson is Sick 74
XXIV Robinson's Bower 77
XXV Robinson Again Explores His Island 81
XXVI Robinson and His Birds 84
XXVII Robinson Gets Fire 89
XXVIII Robinson Makes Baskets 93
XXIX Robinson Becomes a Farmer 98
XXX Robinson as Potter 104
XXXI Robinson as Baker 108
XXXII Robinson as Fisherman 112
XXXIII Robinson Builds a Boat 116
XXXIV Robinson as a Sailor 120
XXXV A Discovery 127
XXXVI The Landing of the Savages 133
XXXVII Robinson as Teacher 139
XXXVIII Another Shipwreck 144
XXXIX Saving Things from the Ship 149
XL The Return of the Savages 155
XLI Deliverance at Last 162
XLII Robinson at Home 167
"An American Robinson Crusoe" is the outcome of many years of experience with the story in the early grades of elementary schools. It was written to be used as a content in giving a knowledge of the beginning and development of human progress. The aim is not just to furnish an interesting narrative, but one that is true to the course of human development and the scientific and geographical facts of the island on which Robinson is supposed to have lived.
The excuse for departing so widely from the original story is to be found in the use which was desired to be made of it. The story here presented is simply the free adaptation of the original narrative to the demand for a specific kind of content in a form which would be interesting to the children.
The teacher is and should be justified in using with entire freedom any material accessible for the ends of instruction.
The text as here given has been published with an introduction and suggestive treatments as a Teacher's Manual for Primary Grades—"The Teacher's Robinson Crusoe." Explicit directions and ample suggestions are made for the use of the story as material for instruction in all the language arts, drawing, social history, and the manual arts.
Published by the Educational Publishing Company.
AN AMERICAN ROBINSON CRUSOE
ROBINSON WITH HIS PARENTS
There once lived in the city of New York, a boy by the name of Robinson Crusoe. He had a pleasant home. His father and mother were kind to him and sent him to school. They hoped that he would study hard and grow up to be a wise and useful man, but he loved rather to run idle about the street than to go to school. He was fond of playing along the River Hudson, for he there saw the great ships come and go. They were as big as houses. He watched them load and unload their cargoes and hundreds of people get off and on. His father had told him that the ships came from far distant lands, where lived many large animals and black men. His father told him too, that in these faraway countries the nuts on the trees grew to be as large as one's head and that the tree were as high as church steeples.
When Robinson saw the ships put out to sea he would watch them till they would disappear below the horizon far out in the ocean, and think, "Oh, if I could only go with them far away to see those strange countries!" Thus he would linger along the great river and wish he might find an opportunity of making a voyage. Often it would be dark before he would get home. When he came into the house his mother would meet him and say in a gentle voice, "Why, Robinson, how late you are in getting home! You have been to the river again."
Then Robinson would hang his head and feel deeply ashamed, and when his father, who was a merchant, came home from the store, his mother would tell him that Robinson had again been truant.
This would grieve his father deeply and he would go to the boy's bedside and talk earnestly with him. "Why do you do so?" he would say. "How often have I told you to go to school every day?" This would for a time win Robinson back to school, but by the next week it had been forgotten and he would again be loitering along the river in spite of his father's remonstrances.
ROBINSON AS AN APPRENTICE
In this way one year after another slipped by. Robinson was not more diligent. He was now almost sixteen years old and had not learned anything. Then came his birthday. In the afternoon his father called him into his room. Robinson opened the door softly. There sat his father with a sad face. He looked up and said, "Well, Robinson, all your schoolmates have long been busy trying to learn something, so that they may be able to earn their own living. Paul will be a baker, Robert a butcher, Martin is learning to be a carpenter, Herman a tailor, Otto a blacksmith, Fritz is going to high school, because he is going to be a teacher. Now, you are still doing nothing. This will not do. From this time on I wish you to think of becoming a merchant. In the morning you will go with me to the store and begin work. If you are attentive and skillful, when the time comes you can take up my business and carry it on. But if you remain careless and continue to idle about, no one will ever want you and you must starve because you will never be able to earn a living."
So the next morning Robinson went to the store and began work. He wrapped up sugar and coffee, he weighed out rice and beans. He sold meal and salt, and when the dray wagon pulled up at the store, loaded with new goods, he sprang out quickly and helped to unload it. He carried in sacks of flour and chests of tea, and rolled in barrels of coffee and molasses. He also worked some at the desk. He looked into the account books and saw in neat writing, "Goods received" and "Goods sold." He noticed how his father wrote letters and reckoned up his accounts. He even took his pen in hand and put the addresses on the letters and packages as well as he could.
But soon he was back in his careless habits. He was no longer attentive to business. He wrapped up salt instead of sugar. He put false weights on the scales. He gave some too much and others too little. His hands, only, were in the business, his mind was far away on the ocean with the ships. When he helped unload the wagons, he would often let the chests and casks drop, so that they were broken and their contents would run out on the ground. For he was always thinking, "Where have these casks come from and how beautiful it must be there!" And many times packages came back because Robinson had written the name of the place or the country wrong. For when he was writing the address, he was always thinking, "You will be laid upon a wagon and will then go into the ship." One day he had to write a letter to a man far over the sea. He could stand it no longer. His father had gone out. He threw down the pen, picked up his hat and ran out to the Hudson to see the ships, and from that time on he spent more time loitering along the river than he did in the store.
Robinson's father soon noticed that his son was no longer attending to his work, and one morning sent for him to come to his office. When Robinson came in his father arose from his chair and looked him long and earnestly in the face. Then he said, "I am very sorry, Robinson, that you seem determined to continue your evil ways. If you do not do better you will grow up to be a beggar or worse." Robinson cast his eyes down and said, "I do not want to be a merchant, I would rather sail in a ship around the world." His father answered, "If you do not know anything you cannot be of use on a ship, and no one will want you. In a strange land you cannot live without working. If you run away from your parents you will come to be sorry for it." Robinson wept, for he saw that his father was right, and he promised to obey.
After two or three weeks, Robinson went to his mother and said, "Mother, won't you go to father and tell him that if he will only let me take one voyage and it proves to be unpleasant, I will come back to the store and work hard?" But the mother cried. With tears in her eyes, she said: "Robinson, your brothers are both dead. You are the only child left to us and if you go away, we shall be entirely alone. How easy it would be to be drowned in the sea, or torn to pieces by wild animals away there in a foreign country. Both your father and myself are getting along in years and who will take care of us when we are sick? Do not cause us the grief we must suffer if you go away so far amid so many dangers. I cannot bear to have you speak of it again."
Robinson did not speak of it again, but he did not forget it. He was nineteen years old. It was one day in August that Robinson stood at the wharf looking longingly after the departing ships. As he stood there, someone touched him on the shoulder. It was a ship captain's son. He pointed to a long ship and said, "My father sails to-day in that ship for Africa and takes me with him."
"Oh, if I could only go with you!" cried Robinson.
"Do come along," cried his comrade.
"But I have no money," said Robinson.
"That doesn't make any difference," returned the captain's son. "We will take you anyway."
Robinson, without thinking for a moment, gave his friend his hand and promised to go with him.
So without saying "Good-bye" to his parents, Robinson went immediately on board the ship with his friend. This happened on the 10th of August.
ROBINSON FAR FROM HOME
Once on board, Robinson watched the preparations for departure. At command the sailors clambered up into the rigging and loosened the sails. Then the captain from his bridge called out, "Hoist the anchor!" Then the great iron hooks that held the ship fast were lifted up, a cannon sounded a final farewell. Robinson stood on the deck. He saw the great city shimmer in the sunshine before him. Very fast now the land was being left behind. It was not long until all that could be seen of his native city was the tops of the highest towers. Then all faded from sight. Behind, in front, right and left, he saw nothing but waters.
He became a little afraid. At noon there arose a strong wind and the ship rocked to and fro. He became dizzy and had to hold fast to something. The masts and rigging began to dance. It seemed to him as if all was turning around. Suddenly he fell full length on the deck and it was impossible for him to get up. He was seasick. He wailed and cried, but no one heard him, no one helped him. Then he thought of his home, his parents whom he had so ungratefully left.
He had been on the water about two weeks when one day as he lay in his room, Robinson heard people over his head running about and crying, "A storm is coming!" The ship's sides trembled and creaked. The ship was tossed like a nutshell. Now it rolled to the right, now to the left. And Robinson was thrown from one side to the other. Every moment he expected the ship to sink. He turned pale and trembled with fear. "Ah, if I were only at home with my parents, safe on the land," he said. "If I ever get safe out of this, I will go home as quickly as I can and stay with my dear parents!" The storm raged the whole day and the whole night. But on the next morning the wind went down and the sea was calm. By evening the sky was clear and Robinson was again cheerful. He ran about the ship. He looked at the glittering stars and was contented and happy.
Several weeks went by. Robinson had long ago forgotten his resolutions to return home. It was very hot. The glowing sun beat down upon the ship. The wide surface of the sea glistened. No breeze stirred. The sails hung loose on the top of the mast. But far away on the shore could be seen a black bank of clouds.
All at once the ship was thrown violently to one side by a fierce gust of wind. Robinson threw himself on the deck. The sea began to rise and fall. The waves were as high as mountains. Now the ship was borne aloft to the skies, and now it would seem that it must be overwhelmed in the sea. When it sank down between the great waves of water, Robinson thought it would never again rise. The waves beat violently on the ship's side. Robinson went down the steps into his little room, but he came back full of anxiety. He believed every minute he would meet death in the waves. The night at last came on. The lightning flashed. The storm howled. The ship trembled. The water roared. So the night wore on. The storm raged for six days. Then on the seventh day it was somewhat abated. But the hope was soon dashed. The storm had abated but to get new strength. Suddenly it bore down with frightful power on the doomed vessel, struck it, and shot it like an arrow through the water. Then Robinson felt a fearful crash. The ship groaned as if it would fall into a thousand pieces. It had struck a rock and there held fast. At the same moment the sailors raised the cry, "The ship has sprung a leak!" The water surged into the ship. All called for help. Each one thought only of himself. There was only one boat. The others had all been torn away. It was soon let down into the sea. All sprang in. For a moment the sailors forgot the waves, but all at once a wave, mountains high, struck the boat and swallowed it up. Robinson shut his eyes. The water roared in his ears. He sank into the sea.
Robinson was borne down far, far into the ocean. He attempted to work himself up, so that he could see light and breathe the air. But again and again the waves carried him down. Finally a wave threw him up and he saw, for a moment, the light of day and got a breath of air, but the next instant he was deep under the water. Then another wave bore him on its crest. He breathed a deep breath and at the same time saw land not far away. He bent all his strength toward reaching the land. He got almost to it, when a wave caught him and hurled him on a jutting rock. With all his strength he seized the rock with both hands and held on.
Presently he worked himself up a little and at last got a foothold. But, scarcely had he done so, when his strength left him and he fell on the ground as one dead. But he soon revived. He opened his eyes and looked around. He saw above him the blue sky, and under him the solid brown earth, and before him the gray angry sea. He felt to see if he still breathed. The storm had destroyed the ship. The waves had overwhelmed the boat. The water wished to draw him into the deep. The rocks seemed to want to hurl him back, but storm and wave and rock had accomplished nothing. There was One who was stronger than they.
Then Robinson sank on his knees and folded his hands. Tears came to his eyes. He breathed hard. At last he said, "Dear Father in Heaven, I live. Thou hast saved me. I thank Thee."
THE FIRST NIGHT ON LAND
"Where are my companions?" That was his first thought. He began to call and halloo: "Where are you? Come here!" But no one answered. Then he wished to see if anyone lived on the land, and he cried, "Is there no one here? Hello!" but all remained still.
All at once he drew himself together and shrank back. He heard a bush rustle and the thought came like a flash, "That is a wild animal that will pounce upon me and tear my flesh with his teeth and claws. How shall I save myself? Where shall I fly for safety? Where shall I turn? I have nothing but my clothes and my life saved from the water. All that I had the waves have swallowed up."
And then hunger and thirst began to trouble him. He had eaten nothing the whole day and the salt water had made him sick.
In the meantime the night had come on. Robinson was very tired. Everything was new and strange. He did not know which way to move. He was in the greatest terror.
He expected to hear the roar of wild beasts from every secluded spot. Lions and tigers and dreadful serpents filled his thoughts. He must find shelter from them. But where should he pass the night? Not a house, a hut or a cave was to be seen. He stood a long time hesitating and did not know what to do. Finally he thought, "I will do as the birds do and get into a tree." He very soon found a tree which had such thick branches that it would hold him up.
Robinson climbed up into the tree, made himself as comfortable as possible, said his prayers, and as he was thoroughly exhausted, he soon fell asleep. When he awoke the sun was high in the sky. At first he could not remember where he was. Then the truth burst upon him. He tried to move. He was stiff and sore. His flesh was bruised from being thrown against the rocks and beaten by the waves.
He was dreadfully thirsty. His mouth and throat were dry and parched from the salt water. His tongue was thick and swollen. He said, "I must find some water to drink or I shall die!"
It was hard work to get down from the tree. His limbs and back ached from sitting in the tree all night. At last he slipped down and fell on the ground. He clasped his hands in prayer and thanked God for keeping him through the night.
Then he got up and tried to walk. He was so weak he could not stand.
He threw himself down on the ground and began to sob and cry, "O Lord, do not let me die! Do not let me die!" As he lay there he heard a queer sound. He listened. It sounded like water running over rocks. He tried to get to the place from which the sound came. He tried to walk. When he fell he crawled on his hands and knees. At last the sound was close by. He dragged himself up on the rocks. Yes, there was a spring of clear, cool, sparkling water bubbling up and trickling over the stones. Robinson was so thirsty he put his face into the water and drank and drank.
Then he sat down, and after a while he drank again and again.
After Robinson had satisfied his thirst and rested awhile, he felt much better. He said, "I must try to walk and see whether I can find something to eat." He found many kinds of fruits and berries all around him, but he was afraid to eat them, as they were strange to him and he feared they might be poisonous.
As he was walking along, all at once he spied a tall plant in the distance which had a familiar look. It looked like corn. He said to himself, "I wonder if it can be corn." At last he came near enough to recognize it. Yes, it was corn. It did not look exactly like the corn that he saw at home, but still he knew it would be safe to eat it. He broke off an ear and eagerly ate the kernels raw. Oh, how good it was! Robinson could not remember anything that tasted half so good.
He ate as much as he wanted and then filled his pockets with ears of corn for his supper. Then he went back to the spring to get another drink.
ROBINSON ON AN ISLAND
After his hunger and thirst were satisfied, Robinson thought he would try to find another dwelling place. "My legs are stiff and sore from sitting so uncomfortably last night, and there is so much danger of falling," he said. "I will climb yonder hill and look around and see on which side the houses are. I will find me a stick to help me on my way."
He broke a stick from a dry bush and climbed up the steep sides of the hill. After a half hour's climb he was on top. What a sight met his eyes! There were no houses, no huts to be seen, no smoke arose from the forest, no field could be seen. Nothing but trees and bush, sand and rock.
"I am then upon an island alone, without food, without shelter, without weapons! What will become of me?" he cried. "I am a prisoner. The island is my prison, the waves are the guards which will not allow me to get away. Will no ship ever come to set me free?"
He stretched his gaze out to the sea till his eyes ached, but he saw no ship.
Robinson came down and seated himself on a stone and considered what he should do. It was not yet noon, yet he feared greatly the next night. "I must find me a better bed," was his first clear thought.
Robinson saw at a little distance what seemed to be a cleft or an opening in a huge rock. "If I could only get inside and find room to stay over night. The rock would protect me from rain, from the wind and wild animals better than a tree."
He long sought in vain for a place wide enough to allow him to get into the opening in the rock. He was about to give up, when he seized hold of a branch of a thorn tree growing on the side of the rock. He looked closer and saw that it grew out of the cleft in the rock. He saw, too, that at this point the opening was wider and that he had only to remove the tree in order to get in. "The hole shall be my dwelling," he said. "I must get the thorn tree out so that I can have room."
That was easily said. He had neither axe nor saw, nor knife nor spade. How could he do it? He had nothing but his hands. He tried to pull it out by the roots, but in vain. He wasn't strong enough.
"I must dig it out," said Robinson.
He scratched with his nails, but the earth was too hard. What should he do? He sought a stick with a fork in it and dug in the earth, but it was slow work. Then he found a clam-shell. He did better with it, but it was hard work, and Robinson was not used to hard work. The sweat ran down his face and he had often to stop and rest in the shade. The sun burned so hot and the rock so reflected the heat that he was all but overcome. But he worked on. When evening came, he would sleep in the tree and next morning he would go at it again. On the third day the roots were all laid bare.
But the roots were fast in the clefts of the rock and he could not loosen it, try ever so hard. What would he not have given for an axe, or at least a knife. And yet he had never thought of their value when at home. He attempted to cut one root through with his clam-shell, but the shell crumbled and would not cut the hard wood.
He stood for a long time thinking, not knowing what next to do. He made up his mind that he must have something harder than the shell to cut with. Then he tried a stone with a sharp edge, but soon found he needed another one, however. He found one. Then he set the sharp one on the wood and struck it with the heavy one. In this way he slowly cut the roots in two.
On the fifth day there was yet left one big root, bigger than any of the others. Robinson got up early in the morning. He worked the whole day. Finally it gave a crack and it, too, was broken.
Robinson had only now to remove the loose earth inside the cleft. He found the opening could be made large and roomy. It was choked up with dirt. He dug out enough to allow him room enough to make a place to lie down. "In the future," he thought, "I will take out all the dirt and then I shall be comfortable."
It was then dark and the moon shone bright in the heavens. Robinson gathered a heap of dry grass and made himself a safe bed. But as he lay there he saw the moonbeams shining into his cave. He sprang up. "How easy," he thought, "for wild animals to creep in here upon me."
He crawled out and looked around. Not far from the cave he saw a large flat stone. With great trouble he rolled it to the opening of his cave, but before this the morning began to dawn. He went inside the shelter, seized the stone with both hands and rolled it into the opening till it almost closed it. "I have now a closed home. I can again stretch my legs. Wind and rain cannot get at me, nor wild animals."
ROBINSON MAKES A HAT
Refreshed and with renewed strength, Robinson awoke late the next morning, but he had a bad headache. The day before the hot tropic sun had beat down on his bare head, as he worked at his cave. He was so busy that he forgot to go into the shade from time to time in order to shield himself from the scorching sunshine. He felt a new need.
"I must make me a hat," said Robinson to himself. "But how?" He had no straw, no thread and no needle. He looked around for a long time, but found nothing. The sun mounted even higher in the heavens, and shone hotter and hotter. He went to seek shelter at last in the deep shade of a nearby tall plant.
As he stood there he examined the plant more carefully. "Out of these leaves," he said, "I might make a hat." He climbed up the short stem of the plant and saw that it had not only leaves as long as himself, but between the leaves were big bunches of long, thin fruit, as thick as three fingers and similar in shape to a cucumber.
He plucked the leaves and fruit and was about to eat some of the fruit when he heard near him a light stir as of some animal. He rolled the leaves and fruit together and hastened back to the cave.
The bananas, for that is what the fruit proved to be, were sweet and refreshing. After he had eaten enough he set immediately about making his hat. He broke off a couple of reeds. He bent one into a hoop. But the hoop would not hold without thread. Sometimes it was too large and sometimes too small. But it must fit his head. He pulled up grass and bound its ends together, but the grass stalks were not strong enough. He hunted until he found a tree whose inner bark was soft and came out in long fibres. He bound his reed with this. This, too, made the hoop soft so that it did not hurt his head.
When the hoop was ready and fitted to his head he found the banana leaves could not be used. Their veins ran straight out from the midrib. This made them easily torn, and besides, they were too large. They were not the best shape. He saw that leaves about a foot long with broad and tapering points would be best. He saw too, that if the leaves had their veins running parallel with the midrib they would be stronger. He made search and at length found leaves that seemed made for his purpose. They were thick and leathery and tapered from base to apex like a triangle.
He now proceeded with his hat-making. He would take a leaf and lay it on the ground with the base toward him. Then he laid the hoop on the base of the leaf, wrapped it around the hoop and fastened it with thorns. He did the same with the other leaves. The thorns were his pins. At last he pinned the tips of the leaves together at the top and the hat was ready. It looked just like a big cone, but it kept out the heat of the sun.
Robinson now had corn and bananas and when he was thirsty he drank a handful of water from the spring. He had been now nine days on the island. Every day he looked out on the sea until his eyes ached to see if he might discover a ship.
He could not understand why no ship came his way. "Who knows how long I must wait here?" said he sorrowfully. Then the thought came to him: "You will not be able to keep track of the days unless you write it down."
The matter of keeping track of time puzzled Robinson very much. It was getting more difficult every day to keep it in his memory. He must write down the days as they slip by, but where and how? He had neither pen, ink, nor paper. Should he mark every day with a colored stone on the smooth side of the huge rock wall within whose clefts he had dug out his cave? But the rain would wash off the record and then he would lose all his bearings. Then he thought of the beach, but there the wind and waves would soon also erase it.
He thought a long time. "I must find something," he said to himself on which to keep a record. "I must also know when Sunday is. I must rest one day in the week. Yes, I must find something," he said, "on which to write." And finally he found it. He chose two trees standing near each other and then sought for a small sharp stone, which he could make still sharper by striking it on another. When he had got this pen ready he cut into the bark of one tree:
Shipwreck, Sunday, 10th of September, 1875.
He made seven cuts in a row for the seven days in the week. The first cut was longer than the others. This was to represent the Sunday. At sundown every day he made a new cut in the bark.
The other tree he called the month tree. On its stem he was to cut a mark every time his week tree told him a month had passed. But he must be careful, for the months were not of equal length. But he remembered that his teacher had once said in school that the months could be counted on the knuckles and hollows of the hand, in such a way that the long and short months could be found easily and he could tell in this way the number of days in each.
Robinson worked at enlarging his shelter a little every day. He was sorely at loss to find something in which to carry the dirt away from the entrance, or enough so that it would not choke up the opening. A large clam shell was all he could think of at present. He would carry the dirt to the entrance and some distance away, and then throw it. Fortunately the ground sloped away rapidly, so that he needed a kind of platform before his door.
He was careful to open the cleft at some distance above the large opening. For the air was damp and impure in the shelter. But with the opening made high above, fresh air was constantly passing into, and impure air out of, his cave. Light, too, was admitted in this way.
ROBINSON MAKES A HUNTING BAG
Several days passed with Robinson's hat-making and his calendar-making and his watching the sea. Every day his corn and bananas became more distasteful to him. And he planned a longer journey about the island to see if something new to eat could be found.
But he considered that if he went a distance from his cave and found something it would really be of little use to him. "I could eat my fill," he said, "but that is all. And by the time I get back to my cave I will again be hungry. I must find something in which I can gather and carry food." He found nothing.
"The people in New York," he said, "have baskets, or pockets, or bags made of coarse cloth. Of them all, I could most easily make the net, perhaps, of vines. But the little things would fall out of the net. I will see whether I can make a net of small meshes."
But he soon saw that the vines did not give a smooth surface. He thought for a long while. In his garden at home his father had sometimes bound up the young trees with the soft inner bark of others. He wondered if he could use this. He stripped away the outer bark from the tree, which before had yielded him a fibre for his hat, and pulled off the long, smooth pieces of the inner bark. He twisted them together. Then he thought how he could weave the strands together. He looked at his shirt. A piece was torn off and unravelled. He could see the threads go up and down. He saw that some threads go from left to right (woof), others lengthwise (the warp).
From his study of the woven cloth, Robinson saw he must have a firmer thread than the strips of bark gave alone. He separated his bark into long, thin strips. These he twisted into strands of yarn by rolling between his hands, or on a smooth surface. As he twisted it he wound it on a stick. It was slow, hard work. Of all his work, the making of yarn of thread gave him the most trouble. He learned to twist it by knotting the thread around the spindle or bobbin on which he wound it and twirling this in the air. He remembered sadly the old spinning wheel he had seen at his grandmother's house.
His next care was something to hold the threads while he wove them in and out. He had never seen a loom.
After long study Robinson set two posts in the ground and these he bound with seventy-two strands horizontally under each other. Then he tied in the top at the left another thread and wove it in and out through the seventy-two threads. So he tied seventy-two vertical strands and wove them in and out. Thus he had a net three times as long as his foot and as wide as long. He tied the four corners together. He made a woven handle for it and put it on his shoulder like a sack, saying gleefully, "This shall be my hunting bag."
ROBINSON EXPLORES THE ISLAND
After Robinson made his hunting bag he was anxious to set off on his journey of exploring the island. So he arose very early next morning. "Before it is hot," thought he, "I will be quite a distance on my journey." He ate a couple of bananas, scooped up a few handfuls of water from the spring, stuck a few ears of corn in his hunting bag, took his stick in his hand and went forth. As he left his cave the thought struck him: "What if I could not find my cave again? How can I manage so that I can come back to it? I will go away in one direction and return the same way; but suppose I were to lose the way?"
Then he noticed his shadow pointing like a great finger from the sea toward the land. He could direct himself by that. He kept his shadow in front of him. He had noticed, too, that the wind always blew north of the point where the sun rose. This helped him. But sometimes the wind died down.
He had to climb over many rocks and pierce many thickets. At each step he saw a rich growth of plants, stems, leaves, flowers, but nothing to eat, no fruits, or nuts. At length he came to a tree as high as a small church steeple. Then he thought of what his father had once said about the trees in strange countries. "Many are as tall as a church steeple and the nuts are as big as one's head." He looked again. Yes, there they hung among the leaves, concealed high above in the crown! But so high, it was well that Robinson had learned to climb while on board the ship. He quickly laid down his hunting bag and clambered up the smooth stem of the high tree, a palm. He picked off a nut and threw it down and then several more, and climbed down again.
But the nuts were very hard. How should he open them? He had brought along his sharp stone with which he had stripped off the inner bark. With this he forced off the thick outer shell. But now came the hard nut within, and how hard it was! Striking it was of no use.
Then he threw a great stone on the nut. The shell was crushed and a snow-white kernel lay before him. It tasted like almond. With astonishment Robinson saw in the middle of the nut a large empty space which must have been filled with fluid as the inside was wet. He wished that he had the juice to drink, for he was very thirsty. With this in view, he examined another and riper nut, and the outside came off more easily. But how could he break it and at the same time save the juice? He studied the hull of the cocoanut on all sides. At the ends were three little hollows. He attempted first to bore in with his fingers, but he could not. "Hold!" he cried. "Maybe I can cut them there with the point of my stone knife." This was done without trouble and out of the hole flowed the sweet, white juice.
Robinson put a couple of nuts in his hunting bag, and also the shells from the broken nuts. "Now," he thought, "I shall no longer have to drink from my hand." With this thought he went on his way.
As Robinson came to a rock in his path, out jumped what Robinson took to be a rabbit. He ran after him to catch him, but the rabbit was much the swifter. So Robinson hastened home, but before he reached it the stars were shining with their lustrous light. Tired Robinson stretched his limbs on his bed of grass and leaves and slept soundly.
ROBINSON AS A HUNTER
All the time Robinson was confined to the cave he kept thinking about the rabbit he had seen and how he might catch one. Finally, he determined to make a spear. He broke down a thin, young sapling, stripped off its branches and in one end fastened a sharp stone. He then went to bed, for he wanted to be up early for his first hunting trip on the morrow.
With his hunting sack and spear, Robinson began to creep very, very cautiously through the underbrush. But he did not go far before he saw a lot of rabbits feeding peacefully on the soft leaves and grass. He drew back and threw his spear with all his might. But the spear did not reach the rabbits. It fell far short and the rabbits sprang up and ran quickly away. He tried it several times with the same result. Then Robinson, discouraged, turned back home and ate his corn, bananas, and cocoanuts without meat. In the meantime he found a new kind of food. He discovered a nest of eggs. How good they tasted to him!
But his longing for meat was still very great. "I will try to make a bow and arrow," he said. No sooner said than done. He bent a long piece of tough, young wood and stretched between the ends a cord twisted out of the fiber taken from the cocoanut shell. He then sought for a piece of wood for arrows. He split the ends with his flint knife and fastened in splinters of stone. At the other end he fastened on some feathers found on the ground. The arrows flew through the air with great swiftness. "They will go far enough," thought Robinson, "if I could only hit anything."
He practised shooting. He stuck his stone knife in a tree and shot at it the whole day long. At first he could not hit it at all. The arrows flew far from the mark. After a while he could hit the tree, but not the knife. Then as he practised, his arm grew ever surer, until at last he could hit the knife at almost every attempt. After a few days he again went rabbit hunting. He thought that the rabbit did not offer a mark so high as his knife, so he stuck a stone in the ground and practised shooting at that. He gradually increased the distance until he could hit the mark at twenty or thirty yards.
The next morning Robinson took his bow and arrows and went out to hunt. He aimed at a rabbit, shot, and it fell, pierced by the arrow. His very first shot was successful.
He hastened up and took the dead rabbit on his shoulder, carried it to his cave and skinned it. Then he cut off a nice, large piece of meat and was going to roast it, but alas, he had no fire!
ROBINSON'S SHOES AND PARASOL
The next morning Robinson could not get up. His feet were swollen and sore in consequence of walking without shoes over thorns and stones. He must remain the whole day in his cave.
Before him, in the sun, his walking stick stuck in the ground. He thought how he had been troubled yesterday to find his way and about the shadow. He had now time to study it. He watched it the whole day through. In the morning it pointed toward the land. In the evening toward the sea. This comes from the daily movement of the sun. He determined to study the matter more carefully.
Robinson got up and with great effort walked to the spring. There he cooled his burning feet, and gathered some large leaves, which he bound on them. He decided to remain in his cave a few days, for he had enough food stored up to last him some length of time. He planned how he might make himself a pair of shoes. As soon as his feet were well, he sought out some thick bark and put fastenings of tough, strong fiber on it. These served very well to protect his feet.
But he must have some further protection from the sun. It beamed so hot that his hat was not enough. He made a parasol out of leaves like his hat. He took a straight stick for a handle. He tied some reeds together and bent them into a hoop. He then fastened the upper end of the stick in the center of the hoop by means of six reeds which formed the ribs of the parasol. To keep out the sun he covered this framework with large, broad leaves. With a cord he tied the stem ends of the leaves to the stick just above where the reeds were tied.
Spread out, these broad leaves completely covered the ribs. Their tips reached over the hoop. They were fastened together by means of small, needle-like fish-bones Robinson had found on the beach.
Now Robinson had heard that savages take two dry pieces of wood and rub them so long on each other that they at length begin to burn.
He tried it. The sweat ran down his cheeks, but every time the wood was about to catch fire his strength would give out, and he was obliged to rest, and when he began again the wood was cold.
"How will it be in winter," he cried, "when it is cold, and I have no fire?" He must try other ways of preparing meat for his table. He must think of some other way of getting fire. He remembered that once, when a boy at home, he had in playing with a stick made it hot by twirling it on end on a piece of wood. "I will try this," he thought. He searched for a good hard stick and a piece of wood upon which to turn or twirl it with his hands. Having found the best materials at hand, he began to twirl the stick. He made a little hollow in the block of wood in which to turn his upright stick. There was heat but no fire. He twirled and twirled, but he could not get the wood hot enough to blaze up or ignite. He had not skill. Besides his hands were not used to such rough treatment. Soon they blistered and this method had to be given up.
"I must have fire," he still thought, and recalled the sparks that flew from the stone pavements of the streets when the iron shoes of the horses struck them as they slipped and strained at their cruel loads. Why may I not get fire by striking together two stones? He sought out two hard stones and with great diligence kept striking them together until his strength gave out, and he was obliged again to acknowledge failure.
He remembered that sometimes travelers put the meat underneath the saddle and ride on it until it is soft. He tried it with pounding. He laid some of the meat on a flat stone and pounded it. It became quite soft and tasted very well. He then tried hanging it in the sun and finally wrapped it in leaves and buried it for a few hours in the hot sand.
ROBINSON MAKES SOME FURNITURE
One thing troubled Robinson very much. He could not sit comfortably while eating. He had neither chair nor table. He wished to make them, but that was a big job. He had no saw, no hammer, no auger and no nails. Robinson could not, therefore, make a table of wood.
Not far from his cave he had seen a smooth, flat stone. "Ay," thought he, "perhaps I can make me a table out of stone." He picked out the best stone and built up four columns as high as a table and on these he laid his large, flat stone. It looked like a table, sure enough, but there were rough places and hollows in it. He wanted it smooth. He took clay and filled up the holes and smoothed it off. When the clay dried, the surface was smooth and hard. Robinson covered it with leaves and decked it with flowers till it was quite beautiful.
When the table was done, Robinson began on a chair. He made it also of stone. It had no back. It looked like a bench. It was uncomfortable to sit on. Robinson covered it with moss. Then it was an easy seat.
Table and chair were now ready. Robinson could not move them from one corner to another, nor when he sat on the chair could he put his feet under the table, and yet he thought them excellent pieces of furniture.
Every day Robinson went hunting and shot a rabbit, but the meat would not keep. At home they would have put it in the cellar. If only he had a cellar! He saw near his cave a hole in the rock. He dug it out a little with his mussel shell and found that it led back under a rock.
From much bending over in digging, Robinson's back, unused to severe toil, ached wretchedly. He decided to make a spade. With his flint he bored four holes in a great, round mussel shell. They formed a rectangle as long as a little finger and as wide. Through these holes he drew cocoanut fibre and bound the shell to a handle fast and strong.
With his spade he dug a hole so deep that he could stand in it upright. Then he put in a couple of shelves made of flat stones. In this cellar he put his rabbit meat and his eggs. Then he laid branches over it and finally covered the whole with leaves.
ROBINSON BECOMES A SHEPHERD
With his bow and arrow, Robinson went hunting every day. The rabbits soon learned to know him and let themselves be seldom seen. As soon as they saw him, they took alarm. They became timid and shy. One day Robinson went out as usual to shoot rabbits. He found none. But as he came to a great rock he heard from behind a new sound, one he had not heard before in the island. Ba-a-a, it sounded.
"A kid," thought Robinson, "like that with which I have so often played at home."
He slipped noiselessly around the rock and behold, really there stood a kid. He tried to call it, but the kid sought safety in flight. He hastened after it. Then he noticed that it was lame in one fore foot. It ran into some brush, where Robinson seized it by the horns and held it fast.
How Robinson rejoiced! He stroked it and fondled it. Then he thought, how could it come into this wilderness on this lonesome island? "Has your ship been cast upon the rocks too, and been broken to pieces? You dear thing, you shall be my comrade." He seized the goat by the legs, and no matter how it kicked, carried it to his cave.
Then he fetched quickly a cocoanut shell full of water and washed and bathed the goat's wounded leg. A stone had rolled down from the hill and had inflicted a severe wound on its left fore leg, or perhaps it had stepped into a crack in the rocks. Robinson tore off a piece of linen from his shirt, dipped it in water and bound it with shreds of the cocoanut upon the wound. Then he pulled some grass and moss and made a soft bed near the door of the cave. After he had given it water, it looked at him with thankful eyes and licked his hand.
Robinson could not sleep that night. He thought continually of his goat and got up time and again to see if it was safe. The moon shone clear in the heavens. As Robinson sat before the goat's bed he looked down on his new possession as lovingly as a mother on her child.
The next morning Robinson's first thought was, "I am no longer alone. I have a companion, my goat." He sprang up and looked for it. There she lay on her side, still sleeping.
As he stood and considered, the thought came to him that perhaps the goat had escaped from its keeper. There must then be some one living on the land. He quickly put on his shoes and his hat, took his parasol, and ran to the rock where he had found the goat.
He called, he sought, he peered about to see if some shepherd were there somewhere. He found nothing. He found no trace of man. There was no road, no bridge, no field, no logs, not even a chip or shaving to show that the hand of man had been there.
But what was that? In the distance ran a herd of goats over the rocks. But no dog followed them and no shepherd. They ran wild on the island. They had perhaps been left there by some ship. As he came home he noticed the goat sorrowfully. The bandage had become dry. The goat might be suffering pain. Robinson loosened the bandage, washed the wound again and bound it up anew. It was so trustful. It ran after him and he decided always to protect it.
"I will always be your shepherd and take care of you," he said.
ROBINSON BUILDS A HOME FOR HIS GOAT
But the goat was a new care. Wild animals could come and kill and carry Robinson's goat away while he slept, and if the goat got frightened while he was hunting it would run away.
"I will have to make me a little yard in front of my cave," he said, "for my goat to live in." But from whence must come the tools? He had neither hatchet nor saw. Where then were the stakes to come from? He went in search of something. After hunting for a long time he came upon a kind of thistle about two feet higher than himself, having at its top a red torch-like blossom. There were a great many of them.
"Good!" thought Robinson. "If I could only dig up enough of them and plant them thick around the door of my cave, I would have just the thing. No one could get at me, nor at the goat, either. The thorns would keep anything from creeping through, peeping in or getting over."
So he took his mussel-shell spade and went to work. It was pretty hard, but at length he succeeded in laying bare the roots of quite a number. But he could not drag them to his cave on account of the thorns sticking in him. He thought a long time. Finally, he sought out two strong poles or branches which were turned up a little at one end and like a sled runner. To these he tied twelve cross-pieces with bark. To the foremost he tied a strong rope made from cocoa fiber. He then had something that looked much like a sled on which to draw his thistle-like brush to his cave. But for one day he had done enough. The transplanting of the thistles was hard work. His spade broke and he had to make a new one. In the afternoon he broke his spade again. And as he made his third one, he made up his mind that it was no use trying to dig with such a weak tool in the hard ground. It would only break again.
"If I only had a pick." But he had none. He found a thick, hard, sharp stone. With it he picked up the hard earth, but had to bend almost double in using it. "At home," he thought, "they have handles to picks." The handle was put through a hole in the iron. He turned the matter over and over in his mind, how he might put a hole through the stone. But he found no means. He searched out a branch with a crotch at one end. He tied the stone to this with strong cocoa fiber and bark. How his eye glistened as he looked at the new tool! Now he began to work. He first loosened up the earth with his pick, then he dug it out with his spade and planted in a high thistle. Many days he had to work, but finally one evening the hedge was ready. He had a row in a semi-circle in front of his cave. He counted the marks on his calendar tree. The day on which he had begun to make his hedge he had especially marked out. He had worked fourteen days.
He had completed his hedge with the exception of a small hole that must serve for a door. But the door must not be seen from without.
As Robinson thought, it came to him that there was still place for two thistles on the outside. He could easily get in, but the entrance was difficult to find from the outside.
Robinson looked on his hedge from without. It was not yet thick enough. For this reason he planted small thistles between the larger ones. With the digging them out and transplanting them he was a whole week longer.
Finally, the hedge and the yard were ready. Now Robinson could rest without fear and sleep in his cave, and could have his goat near him all the time. It delighted him greatly. It ran after him continually like a dog. When he came back from an absence, it bleated for joy and ran to meet him as soon as he got inside the hedge. Robinson felt that he was not entirely alone. He had now a living being near him.
ROBINSON GETS READY FOR WINTER
There was one thing that troubled Robinson greatly. "What will become of me when the winter comes? I will have no fire to warm me. I have no clothing to protect me from the cold, and where shall I find food when snow and ice cover all the ground and when the trees are bare and the spring is frozen? It will be cold then in my cave; what shall I do? It is cold and rainy already. I believe this is harvest time and winter will soon be here. Winter and no stove, no winter clothing, no winter store of food and no winter dwelling. What shall I do?"
He considered again the project of making fire. He again sought out two pieces of wood and sat down and rubbed them together. The sweat rolled down his face. When the wood began to get warm, his hand would become tired, and he would have to stop. When he began again the wood was cold. He worked for an hour or two, then he laid the wood aside and said, "I don't believe I can do it. I must do the next best thing. I can at least get warm clothing to protect me from the rain and snow." He looked down at his worn, thin clothing, his trousers, his shirt, his jacket; they had become so thin and worn that they were threadbare.
"I will take the skins of the hares which I have shot and will make me something," he thought. He washed and cleaned them, but he needed a knife and he set about making one. He split one end of a tough piece of wood, thrust his stone blade in it and wound it with cocoa fibre. His stone knife now had a handle. He could now cut the skins quite well. But what should he do for needle and thread? Maybe the vines would do. "But they are hardly strong enough," he thought. He pulled the sinews from the bones of the rabbit and found them hard. Maybe he could use them. He found fish skeletons on the seashore and bored a hole in the end of the small, sharp rib bones. Then he threaded his bone needle with the rabbit sinews and attempted to sew, but it would not go. His needle broke. The skin was too hard. He bored holes in the edge of the pieces of skin and sewed through the holes. This went very well.
He sewed the skins together with the hair side inward, made himself a jacket, a pair of trousers, a hat, and finally covered his parasol with rabbit skin, for the rain had already dripped through the leaves of it. All went well, only the trousers did not fit. He loosened them and puckered them to no purpose. "Anyway," he thought, "I am now well protected from the cold, when it does come."
HOW ROBINSON LAYS UP A STORE OF FOOD
Now for the food. Could Robinson preserve the meat? He had often heard his mother tell about preserving meat in salt. He had even eaten salt meat, pickled meat. But where could he get salt?
One day when the wind blew hard the water was driven upon the shore and filled a little hollow. After a few days the ground glistened white as snow where the water had been. Was it snow? Robinson took it in his hands and put it in his mouth. It was salt. The sun had evaporated the water in the hollow—had vaporized it—and the air had drunk it up. What was left behind? Salt. Now he could get salt as long as he needed it.
He took cocoanut shells and strewed salt in them. Then he cut the rabbit meat in thin strips, rubbed them with salt, and laid them one on the other in the salt in the shells. He covered it over with a layer of salt. He put over each shell the half of a larger one and weighted it down with stones. After a period of fourteen days he found the meat quite red. It had pickled.
But he did not stop here. He gathered and stored in his cellar cocoanuts and corn in such quantities that he would be supplied for a whole winter. It seemed best to catch a number of rabbits, build a house for them and keep them. Then he could kill one occasionally and have fresh meat. Then it came to him that goats would be much better, for they would give milk. He determined immediately to have a herd of goats. He made a string or lasso out of cocoa fibre.
Then he went out, slipped up quietly to a herd of goats and threw the lasso over one. But the lasso slipped from the horns and the goat ran away. The next day he had better luck. He threw the lasso, drew it tight and the goat was captured. He brought it home. He rejoiced when he saw that it gave milk. He was happy when he got his first cocoanut shell full of sweet rich milk. His goat herd grew. He soon had five goats. He had no more room in his yard. He could not provide food enough. He must let them out. He must make another hedge around his yard so that the goats could get food and yet be kept from going away. He got stakes from the woods and gathered them before his cave. He sharpened them and began to drive them in the earth. But it rained more and more each day. He was wet through as he worked. He had finally to stop work, for the rain was too heavy.
Robinson was much disturbed because he had no means of keeping a record of things as they happened from day to day. He had his calendar, it is true. He would not lose track of the time. But he wished for some way to write down his thoughts and what happened. So he kept up keen search for anything that would serve him for this purpose.
Every time he journeyed about the island he kept careful watch for something that he might write upon. He thought of the leaves of the palm tree, the white under surface of the shelf fungus. But these he found would not do. He tried many kinds of bark and leaves. There was a kind of tall reed or grass growing in the marshes whose rind seemed good when dried. He examined the inner bark of many trees. He at last found that the inner bark of a tree which resembled our elm tree worked best. He would cut through the bark with his stone knife around the tree. At about one foot from this he would cut another ring. He then would cut through the bark lengthwise from one circular cut to the other. He could then peel off the section easily. While it was yet full of sap he would separate the soft, tough, thin inner layer of the bark. This usually came off in sheets without a break. When these sheets of bark were stretched and dried they could be used very nicely instead of paper.
Robinson next searched for something that would serve him as ink, and this was much easier to find than paper. He had noticed many kinds of galls of many different colors growing on trees. He did not know what they were, or how they grew, but he had learned in his father's store that ink was often made from galls gathered from trees. "Anyway," he thought, "I can get ink from the cuttle-fish." He had watched this animal get away from its enemies by sending out a cloud of purplish fluid, in which to hide as it darted away. He had learned also that indigo is made from the leaves of a plant. He had noticed a plant growing in the open places in the forest whose leaves turned black when dried.
Robinson gathered a quantity of gall-nuts and soaked them in water. To the black fluid thus obtained he added a little rice water to make it flow well, and this served very well as an ink. He kept his ink in a cup made from a cocoanut shell.
He was not long in getting a pen, though the lack of a good sharp knife made it hard to make a good one. In going about he had gathered a quantity of large feathers. He saved these for the time when he should have his paper and ink ready. Now, he cut away a quill to a point and split it up a little way. He was now supplied with writing materials. "Is it not wonderful," he thought, "how all our wants are filled? We have only to want a thing badly enough and it comes."
Robinson began at once to write down the date for each day and the main thing he did or that happened on it. He called this his diary. He had now a better way of keeping time than on his tree calendar. He did not need it any more.
You have no doubt wondered how Robinson could work in his cave, especially at night without a light. The truth is, it was a great source of discomfort to him. At sunset he was in total darkness in his cave. During the day light enough streamed in from the open doorway. To be alone in total darkness is not pleasant. "If I only had fire!" he said again and again.
He watched the many large beetles and fire-flies flash their light in the dark of the evening as he sat in front of his shelter. The thought came to him that if he only had some way of keeping together a number of them, they would serve very well for a candle in his cave at night. How he longed for a glass bottle such as he had so often wantonly broken when at home! Back of his shelter there was a hill where the rock layers jutted out. He had noticed here several times the thin transparent rock that he had seen in his father's store. It is called isinglass.
"I will make a living lantern," he said aloud in his eagerness.
He soon had a suitable piece pried loose. He cut a part of a cocoanut shell away and in its place he put a sheet of isinglass. That evening at dark he gathered several handfuls of the great fire beetles and put them in his lantern. What joy their glow gave him in his cave at night. It was almost as much comfort as a companion. But while it lighted up the deep dark of the cave and enabled him to move about, he was unable after all to write in his diary at night. Every morning he set his captives free. In the evening he would go out and capture his light.
ROBINSON IS SICK
One evening Robinson went to bed sound and well. The next morning he was sick. Before he had only the heat of the day to complain of. To-day he was freezing. He wanted to go to work to get warm, but even this did not break his chill. It increased till his teeth chattered with the cold.
"Perhaps," thought he, "if I can sleep a little I will get better." But he could not sleep. He was burning with fever and then shaking with cold by turns. He felt a strong thirst, but he was so weak that he could scarcely get the goat's milk. He had no sooner drunk the milk than his tongue was as dry as before. He felt better after a night of sleep, but the next day his fever and chills were worse than before. Then he bethought him of his parents. How kindly his mother had taken care of him! Now no one was near that could assist him.
"Ah," he sighed, "must I die here? Who would bury me? There is no one to miss me." At this the tears came to his eyes.
His sickness increased with each day. Occasionally the fever would go down sufficiently to allow him to get something to eat. Then it would be worse than before. In his dire need he wanted to pray, but he was so weak that he could only stammer, "Dear God, help me, or I shall die!"
One night he had a strange dream. He thought he saw his good old father standing before him calling to him. He spread out his arms and cried aloud, "Here I am, here I am!" He tried to get up, but he was so weak that he fell back fainting.
He lay there a long time, but finally came to. He felt a burning thirst, but no one reached him a drop of water. He prepared to die. He folded his hands and prayed to God that he would be merciful to him. He prayed forgiveness from his parents. Once more he raised his head and gazed wildly around, then he sank back and knew no more.
When he again awoke he felt better. His hot fever had gone. He attempted to walk. He had just enough strength to crawl to the table and fetch a shell of water. When he tried to walk he had to sit down at every two or three steps.
From this he recovered gradually, growing better and better, and he thanked God inwardly for his recovery. His sickness had continued from June 18 to July 3.
Robinson's sickness set him thinking about his home. He had been so afraid of animals when he came to the island that he thought of nothing but protection from them. He had been now a year on the island and had seen nothing more dangerous than a goat. The fear of animals had practically faded away. In thinking over his sickness he made up his mind that it was caused by sleeping in his cave where the sun never shone. The ventilation seemed good, but the walls were damp, especially in the rainy season. Then the water would trickle down through the cleft in spite of all he could do.
He resolved to build, if possible, a little cottage, or, as he called it, a bower, in the yard in front of his shelter. The hedge of thistles was growing and formed a fence that an animal could not get through. His screen of willows on the outside of this would soon hide him from view from the sea. He had the wall of rock and the hill behind him.
He planned out his way of building it very carefully. "It must be done," he said (Robinson formed the habit of talking to himself, so that he would not forget how to talk), "without hammer, nails, or saw."
He first sought out four posts, as large as he could well handle. There were always broken trees and branches in the forest. If he searched long enough he could find posts just suited to his need. He wanted four of the same thickness and height and with a fork at the end. After long searching he found what he wanted. He was careful to get those that he could drag to his shelter.
He placed these in the ground, forming the corners of a square about ten feet long. In the forks he placed poles running around about eight feet from the ground. At about every three feet he fastened others, running in the same way, with heavy cords made of fibre. He found his greatest trouble with the roof. It must be sloped to shed rain. He had to find two more forked posts, three or four feet longer than the others. These he placed opposite each other in the centers of two sides. Upon these he placed a ridge pole. He then laid other poles lengthwise from ridge pole to the edge of the frames.
His frame was now done. His plan was now to cover this frame with straw or grasses tied in bundles. He had seen the barns in the country thatched in this way by the Dutch farmers in New York State. He gathered the straw of the wild rice. It was long, straight and tough. It was easily tied into flat bundles. These he bound securely on to the frame work with cords. He began at the bottom so that the ends of the row would lap over the tops of the last one put on.
In this way he built a very comfortable and rainproof bower. It was easy to make a bed of poles covered with straw. A table and bench were added and shelves of poles.
Robinson felt great joy over this new home. "I will not now be sick any more," he said. "In case of danger I can get into my cave. But at all other times I will live in my bower." He had use still for his cave. He could use it to store some things in. But he had to be careful about the dampness in wet weather.
Robinson was getting to feel at home. He was no longer so sad. He did not grieve so much for home. He looked upon his home with great delight. It was secure. He had his herd of goats always in his sight. At evening he would do his milking. He found he could keep the milk for some time in the cave. He was tempted to try making some butter from the good, rich cream. "But," said Robinson, "I have neither vessels to make it in nor bread to eat it on."
He planned many things to do. "I will make a hammock some day for my bower and some vessels to use in my work," he thought.
ROBINSON AGAIN EXPLORES HIS ISLAND
When Robinson recovered his strength he had a strong desire to see more of the island. At first he had been in constant fear of wild animals, but now he thought he would like to see all there was to see in the island. On the 15th of July he started out. First he went to a brook which ran into the sea near his cave. Its water was clear and pure; along its shore lay beautiful meadows. As he came to the upper course of the brook the meadow gave way to forest. On the border of the forest he found melons and grapes.
The night came on and he slept again in a tree. The next morning he went farther and came to a clear rivulet. Here the region was wonderfully beautiful. The flowers bloomed as in a garden, and near the flowers stood splendid apple and orange trees. He took as much of the fruit as he could carry and went on his way. This journey continued three days. The grapes which he had carried he dried in the sun and made raisins.
The 10th of September came, one year had passed on the island. He was many hundred miles from home, alone on an island. With tears he cried out, "Ah! what are my dear parents saying? They have no doubt long given me up as dead. If I could only send them a message to comfort them and let them know how much I love them!"
The day was celebrated as a holiday. He thanked God that He had given him so many good things. Often he had lived the whole day in care and anxiety. Now he tried to be more cheerful and to meet the troubles of each day with courage.
But Robinson was not yet satisfied. He longed to know more of the island and prepared himself for a greater journey. He slung his hunting pouch over his shoulder, filled it full of food, took his bow and arrows, stuck his stone hatchet in his belt and started on his way. He traveled over meadows, through beautiful forests in which were hundreds of birds. He was delighted as they sang and fluttered about.
The journey was beautiful and pleasant to Robinson. In the forests he often saw small wild creatures, but he shot nothing. After the first night he slept under a tree in the soft grass, for he had now no fear of wild animals.
Along the shore he saw great groves of palms with their large nuts. He saw, too, many goats in all parts of the island.
Now he was ready to take the shortest way home. He had not gone far before he came into a dark forest. He became confused and wandered about for several days. On the fourth day he came to a little pile of stones, which he had made to mark the way as he was going out. From this place the way was easy to find. On this trip he was gone already two weeks.
ROBINSON AND HIS BIRDS
Of all the things he saw on his journey Robinson was most delighted with the birds. They were of the most beautiful colors. The forest was full of them. They gleamed like jewels in the deep masses of foliage. In the morning their singing filled the air with sound.
Robinson had never taken much notice of the birds at home. But now every living thing attracted him. He loved to see them happy. He would watch often by the hour and learn the habits of nesting and getting food of nearly every bird on the island.
Robinson did not know the names of many of the birds he saw on the island. He had to make names for them. The strangest thing he saw on his journey was the nest of what he called the yellow-tail. This bird lives in colonies and makes its nest at the ends of the long leaves of the mountain palm. When he first saw these queer looking sacks hanging from the leaves he was amazed. He had never seen so strange a sight. From the end of each great leaf hung a long, closely woven nest. Robinson could not make out at first what they were. Soon, however, he saw the birds come out of the mouths of the nests. Here, one hundred feet from the ground, they hung their nests. But they were perfectly safe.
He had not gone far from the tree in which the yellow tails had their nests when he was suddenly startled by a voice crying, "Who, who are you?" Robinson was greatly frightened and hid beneath the drooping branches of a cedar tree. He feared every moment that the owner of the voice would make his appearance. But it kept at a distance. Every few minutes from the depths of the forest would come the doleful cry, "Who, who are you?" Robinson did not dare to stir from his hiding place. He remained there over night. After the night came on he heard the strange voice no more.
The next day he renewed his journey. He saw many birds that were wholly strange to him. There was a kind of wild pigeon that built its home in a hole in the rock. It was a most beautiful bird with long, slender, graceful feathers in its tail. He saw the frigate bird soaring high above the island. The number and beauty of the humming-birds amazed Robinson. They were of all colors. One had a bill in the shape of a sickle. The most brilliant of them all was the ruby-crested humming-bird.
Near noon, while Robinson was shielding himself from the scorching heat of the sun in a deep, shaded glen, he was startled again by the strange voice crying, "Who, who, who are you?" He lay quite still, determined if possible to allow the voice to come, if it would, within sight. He heard it slowly coming up the glen. Each time it repeated the cry it sounded nearer. At last he saw spying at him through the boughs of the tree under which he was lying a large bird with soft, silky feathers of green and chestnut. "Who, who, who are you?" said the bird. Robinson could not help but laugh. He had been frightened at the cry of a bird.
But the bird that interested Robinson most was the parrot. There were several kinds of them. They flew among the trees with great noise and clatter and shrieking. Robinson determined if possible to secure one for a pet. "I can teach it to talk," he said, "and I will have something to talk to." As soon as he returned home he set about catching one. He noticed that a number were in the habit of visiting an old tree near the shelter every morning. He planned to snare one and tried several mornings, but he could not get one into the snare. He tried to hit one with his bow and arrow. He at last succeeded in hitting one and stunning it so that it fell to the ground. He ran rapidly to pick it up, but before he could get to where it lay in the bushes it had disappeared.
After thinking the matter over he concluded that it would be much better to get a pair of young birds and raise them. The old ones would be hard to tame and difficult to teach. It was easy enough to find a nest in a hollow tree. He secured from the nest two birds just ready to fly. He made a cage for them out of willow rods. He placed the cage at the entrance of his cave and studied how he would feed them. Much to his surprise the parent birds discovered their young ones and brought them food and fed them through the open work of the cage.
When the birds were grown they rapidly learned to talk. Robinson took great delight in teaching them. He taught them to call his name and when he came near they would call out, "Poor old Robinson Crusoe!"
These birds remained for many years with Robinson. In fact, he was never afterward without a parrot. They helped him to pass away very pleasantly many hours that without them would have been sad.
Another bird that Robinson loved was the little house wren. This bird was exceedingly tame and friendly. It was a very sweet and strong singer. It loved to make its nest in or near his shelter. There it would build and rear its young, within reach of his hands, while its throat was always bursting with melody.
The mocking bird, too, always nested near and awakened him in the morning with its wonderful song.
Robinson became a great friend and favorite of the bird inhabitants of the island. They seemed to know him and showed no fear when near him. This pleased him very much.
ROBINSON GETS FIRE
Robinson was now pretty comfortable. He had his bower with its chair and table. He had his cave in case of danger. He had his cellar in which to keep his meat. He would sit in the shade near the door of his bower and think of the many things he should be thankful for. But there was one hardship that Robinson could not get used to and that was the eating of raw food. "How fine it would be if only I could parch a few grains of corn in the fire! I could like live a prince," thought he, "if I had fire. I would grind some of my corn into flour and make some corn bread or cakes and cook rice." He did so long for roasted meat and determined again to make the attempt to get fire.
Robinson was fast losing his idle, thoughtless ways of doing things. He had become a thoughtful and diligent man in the short time that he had been on the island. Trouble and hardship had made a man of him. "I must carefully think over the whole matter of getting fire," he said. He had failed twice and was now resolved to succeed. "If the lightning would only strike a tree," he thought, "and set it on fire."
But he could not wait for such a thing to happen, and how could he keep it when once thus obtained? It was clear he must have some way of producing fire when he wanted it, just as they did at home. He thought over the ways he had tried and the one most likely to be successful. He resolved to make a further trial of the method by twirling a stick in his hands. He selected new wood that was hard and dry. He carefully sharpened a stick about eighteen inches long and, standing it upright in a hollow in the block of wood, began to roll it between his hands. By the time Robinson's hands were well hardened, it seemed that he was going to succeed at last. But he lacked the skill to be obtained only by long practice.
"If I could only make it go faster," he said. "There must be some way of doing this. I believe I can do it. I used to make my top spin round with a cord; I wonder if I can use the cord here." The only cord he had was attached to his bow. He was going to take it off when a thought struck him. He loosened the string a bit and twisted it once about his spindle. Then he drew the bow back and forth. The spindle was turned at a great rate. He saw he must hold one end with his left hand while the other rested in the hollow in the block. With his right, he drew the bow back and forth. How eagerly he worked! He had twirled but a few minutes when the dust in the hollow burst into fire from the heat produced by the rapidly twirling spindle.
Robinson was too overjoyed to make any use of it. He danced and capered about like one gone mad until the fire had gone out. But that was of no matter now, since he could get fire when he wanted it.
He hastened to make him a rude fireplace and oven of stones. He hollowed out a place in the ground and lined and covered it with large flat stones. On one side he built up a chimney to draw up the smoke and make the fire burn brightly. He brought wood and some dry fungus or mushroom. This he powdered and soon had fire caught in it. He kindled in this way the wood in his stove and soon had a hot fire.
The first thing he did in the way of cooking was to roast some rabbit meat on a spit or forked stick held in his hand over the fire. Nothing Robinson had ever eaten was to be compared to this.
"I can do many things now," thought Robinson. "My work will not be nearly so hard. My fire will be my servant and help me make my tools as well as cook my food. I can now cook my corn and rice."
ROBINSON MAKES BASKETS
Robinson still continued anxious about his food supply when he could no longer gather it fresh from the fields and forest. Corn had again become ripe. He had found in a wet, marshy place some wild rice-plants loaded with ripened grain. As he now had fire he only had to have some way of storing up grains and he would not lack for food. He knew that grain stored away must be kept dry and that he must especially provide against dampness in his cave or in his bower.
If he only had some baskets. These would be just the thing. But how was he to get them? Robinson had never given a thought to either material or the method of making them. He, however, was gradually acquiring skill and confidence in himself. So far he had managed to meet all his wants. He had invented tools and made his own clothes and shelter, and, "Now," said he to himself, "I will solve the new problem. I must first study the materials that I have at hand." He remembered the splint market baskets in which his father took vegetables home from the store. He recalled how the thin splints were woven.
"They went over and under," he said. "That is simple enough if I had the splints." He set himself diligently to work to find a plant whose bark or split branches could be used for splints. He tried to peel off the rough outer bark of several trees in order to examine the inner layers of soft fibrous material. He found several trees that gave promise of furnishing abundance of long, thin strips, but the labor of removing the bark with his rude imperfect tools was so great that he resolved that he would have to find some other kind of material.
"Why need the strips be flat?" he thought. "I believe I could weave them in the same way if I used the long, thin, tough willow rods I saw growing by the brookside, when I was returning from my journey."
He found on trial that the weaving went very well, but that he must have strong, thick rods or ribs running up and down to give strength and form to his basket. He worked hard, but it was slow work. It was three days before his first basket was done. He made many mistakes and was obliged many times to undo what he had accomplished in order to correct some error. And at last when he had woven the basket as large as he thought was suitable for his purpose, he did not know how to stop or finish the top so as to keep the basket from unraveling. At last he hit upon the plan of fastening two stout rods, one outside, the other inside, the basket. These he sewed firmly, over and over, to the basket with a kind of fibre from a plant he had discovered that looked almost to be what he had heard called the century plant in the parks at home.
On attempting his next basket, he thought long how he might improve and save time. He must hasten, or the now almost daily rains would destroy his ripened wild corn and rice.
"If I could use coils of that long grass I saw growing in the marsh beside the rice," he thought, "I could make twice the progress." He gathered an armful, twisted it into cables about an inch thick and wove it into his frame of upright rods instead of the horizontal layer of willow canes. This answered his purpose just as well and rendered the making of large baskets the work of a few hours. He found, however, that the willow rods or osiers were not pliant enough to work well in fastening his coils of grass cables together. He tried several things and at last succeeded best when he used the long thread-like fibre of the century-like plant. He had, however, to make a stout framework of rods. He would first coil his grass rope into this frame and then sew it together with twine or thread made from this fibre.
He afterwards tried making smaller and finer baskets out of the fibre that he had discovered, which could be easily had from the thick-leaved plant he thought he had seen at home. He first used long, tough, fine roots he had seen when digging up the tree at the mouth of his cave. Afterwards he discovered some tall, tough reeds growing near by. He laid in a supply of these. He found that when he wanted to use them, a good soaking in water made them as pliable and tough as when first cut.
The making of the baskets and storing up grains made it possible for Robinson to become a farmer and thus make himself independent. This thought was a great relief to him.
ROBINSON BECOMES A FARMER
Robinson had now been on the island long enough to know how the seasons changed. He found that there were two kinds of weather there, wet weather and dry weather. There were two wet seasons in each year and two dry ones. During the wet seasons, which lasted nearly three months, Robinson had to remain pretty closely at home, and could not gather grain, for the plants were then starting from the seeds. It ripened in the dry seasons. Robinson soon found that he must have a store of corn and wild rice for food during the rainy seasons. He, however, knew nothing about planting and harvesting, nor preparing the ground for seed.
He had it all to learn with no teacher or books to instruct him. He found a little space near his dwelling free from trees and thought he would plant some corn seed here. He did not know the proper time for planting. He thought because it was warm, seed would grow at any time. It happened his first seed was put in at the beginning of the dry season. He watched and waited to rejoice his eyes with the bright green of sprouting corn, but the seed did not grow. There was no rain and the sun's heat parched the land till it was dry and hard on the upland where his corn was planted.
"Very well," thought Robinson, "I will plant it at the beginning of the wet season, either in March or September." He did so; the seed quickly sprouted up. But the weeds, shrubs, and vines sprouted as quickly, and before Robinson was aware, his corn was overgrown and choked out by a rank growth of weeds and vines.
"I see," said Robinson, "that I must thoroughly prepare the soil before planting my seed." But he had no spade and no other tool that would stand the strain of digging among tough matted roots. But he must succeed. He put a new handle in the stone hoe or pick he had already made. His mussel shell spade was worn out. He must set himself to fashion out another. He decided to make one from the tough heavy wood of a tree that grew plentifully in the forest.
He was lucky enough to find a tree of this kind whose bole had been split lengthwise by the falling of an old rotten tree near it. With his stone tools and the help of fire he managed after several days' work to make a wide sharpened tool out of one of the large pieces split off. It was a little over three feet long. He had trimmed one end small and cut notches in the sides about one foot from the flat end. He could place his foot in the notch and thrust his wooden spade into the earth. With his rude tool he dug up and turned the soil of a small space of ground several times to kill the vines and weeds. His corn quickly sprouted after this attempt and outstripped the weeds and vines which Robinson constantly had to hold in check by pulling and hoeing. He was rejoiced at his growing crop and went each morning to feast his eyes on the rapidly expanding leaves and ears.
One morning as he came in sight of the little clearing he thought he saw something disappearing in the low brush on the other side as he approached. Alas, his labor had been in vain! A herd of wild goats had found out the place and had utterly destroyed his crop. Robinson sat down nearby and surveyed the ruin of his little field. "It is plain," thought he, "I will have to fence in the field or I will never be able to harvest my crop. I cannot watch it all the time."
He had already learned from his experience in making the fence around the goat pasture that the branches of many kinds of shrubs and trees, when broken off and thrust into the ground, will send out roots and leaves and at length if planted close together in a line, will form a thick hedge which no kind of beast can get through or over. He found out some willow trees whose branches broke easily, and soon had enough to thrust into the ground about six inches apart around the entire edge of his little field, which contained about one eighth of an acre.
After this hedge had grown so as to be a fair protection to his crop he tried planting again at the proper season. He spaded up the ground and pulled out the matted roots as best he could and with great pains and care planted his corn in straight even rows. To make them straight and each hill of corn the same distance from its neighbors, he first marked off the ground in squares whose sides were about three and one half feet long.
"Now," thought he, "I will reap the reward of my labor." The corn grew rapidly, and toward the end of the first dry season was filling out and ripening its ears. But to Robinson's dismay a new danger threatened his crop against which he could not fence. He was in despair. The birds were fast eating and destroying his partially ripened corn. He could not husk it yet. It was not ripe enough. He thought how easy it would be to protect his field if he had a gun. But he had learned that it is useless to give time to idle dreaming. He must do something and that quick.
"If I could catch some of these rascals," he thought, "I would hang them up on poles, dead, as a warning to the rest." It seemed almost a hopeless task, but he went about it. It was in vain he tried to kill some of them by throwing rocks and sticks. He could not get near enough to them. At length he laid snares and succeeded in snaring three birds. He had learned to weave a pliable, strong thong out of cocoa and other fibre that he was now acquainted with. The birds thus caught he fastened on broken branches of trees which he stuck into the earth in different parts of his field. The birds heeded the warning and visited his corn field no more that season.