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1 staid by it to load my gun, and then coming away, I could easily see the thieves sitting upon all the trees about me, as if they only waited till I was gone away; and the event proved it .to be so; for as I walked off, as if gone, I was no sooner out of their sight, than they dropped down, one by one, into the corn again. I was so provoked, that I could not have patience to stay till more came on, knowing that every grain they ate now was, as it might be said, a peck-loaf to me in the consequence; so, coming up to the hedge, I fired again, and killed three of them. This was what I wished for; so T took them up, and served them as we serve notorious thieves in England, viz. hanged them in chains, for a terror to others. It is impossible to imagine that this should have such an effect as it had; for the fowls not only never came to the corn, but, in short, they forsook all that part of the island, and I could never see a bird near the place as long as my scarecrows hung there. This 1 was very glad of, you may be sure; and about the latter end of December, which was our second harvest of the year, I reaped my corn.
I was sadly put to it for a scythe or sickle to cut it down: and all I could do was to make one as well as I could, out oi one of the broad-swords, or cutlasses, which I saved among the arms out of the ship. However, as my first crop was but small, I had no great difficulty to cut it down: in short, I reaped it my way, for I cut nothing off but the ears, and carried it away in a great basket which i had made, and so rubbed it out with my hands; and at the end of all my harvesting, I found that out of my half peck of seed 1 had near two bushels of rice, and above two bushels and a half of barley; that is to say, by my guess, for I had no measure.
However, this was great encouragement to me; and I foresaw that, in time, it would please God to supply me with bread; and yet here I was perplexed again; tor I neither knew how to grind, or make meal of my corn, or indeed how to cl.(Mn it and part it; nor, if made into meal, how to make bread of it: and if how to make it, yet 1 knew not how to bake it: these things bein°j added to my desire of having a good quantity for store, and to secure a constant supply, 1 resolved not to taste any of this crop, but to preserve it all for seed against the next season; ana, in the mean time, to employ ail my study and hours of working to accomplish this great work of providing myself with corn and bread.
It might oe truly said, that now I worked for my bread. It is a little wonderful, and what I believe few people have thought much upon, viz. the strange multitude of little things necessary in the providing, producing, curing, dressing, making, and finishing this one article of bread.
I, that was reduced to a mere state of nature, found this to my daily discouragement, and was made more sensible of it every hour, even after I had got the first handful of seedcorn, which, as I have said, came up unexpectedly, and indeed to a surprise.
First, I had no plough to turn up the earth; no spade or shovel to dig it: well, this I conquered by making a wooden spade, as I observed before; but this did my work but in a wooden manner; and though it cost me a great many days to make it, yet, for want of iron, it not only wore out the sooner, but made my work the harder, and performed it much worse. However, this I bore with, and was content to work it out with patience, and bear with the badness of the performance. When the corn was sown, I had no harrow, but was forced to go over it myself, and drag a great heavy bough of a tree over it, to scratch it, as it may be called, rather than rake or harrow it. When it was growing and grown, I have observed already how many things I wanted to fence it, secure it, mow or reap it, cure and carry it home, thrash, part it from the chaff, and save it: then I wanted a mill to grind it, sieves to dress it, yeast and salt to make it into bread, and an oven to bake it; and yet all these things I did without, as shall be observed; and the corn was an inestimable comfort and advantage to me: all this as I said, made every thing laborious and tedious to me, but that there was no help for; neither was my time so much loss to me, because, as 1 had divided it, a certain part of it was every day appointed to these works; and as I resolved to use none of the corn for bread till I had a greater quantity by me, I had the next six months to apply myself wholly, by labor and invention, to furnish myself with utensils proper for the performing all the operations necessary for making corn fit tor my use.
But now I was to prepare more land; for I had seed enough to sow above an acre of ground. Before I did this, I had a week's work, at least, to make me a spade; which, when it was done, was but a sorry one indeed, ana very heavy, and required double labor to work with it: however, I went through that, and sowed my seed in two large, flat pieces of ground, as near my house as I could find them to my mind, and fenced them in with a good hedge; the stakes of which were all cut off that wood which I had set before, and knew it would grow; so that, in one year's time, I knew I should have a quick or living hedge, that would wa»t but little repair. This work took me up lull three months; because a great part of the time was in the wet season, when I could not go abroad. Within doors, that is, when it rained, and I could not go out? I found employment on the following occasions; always observing, that while I was at work, I diverted myself with talking to my parrot, and teaching him to speak; and I quickly learned him to know his own name, and at last to speak it out pretty loud, Pol; which was the first word I ever heard spoken in the island by any mouth but my own. This, therefore, was not my work, but an assistant to my work; for now, as I said, I had a great employment upon my hands, as follows: I had long studied, by some means or other, to make myself some earthen vessels, which indeed I wanted much, but knew not where to come at them: however, considering the heat of the climate, 1 did not doubt but if I could find out any clay, I might botch up some such pot as might, being dried in the sun, be hard and strong enough to bear handling, and to hold any thing that wis dry, and required to be kept so; and as this was necessary in the preparing corn, meal, &c, which was the thing I was upon, 1 resolved to make some as large as I could, and fit only to stand like jars, to hold what should be put into them.
It would make the reader pity me, or rather laugh at me, to tell how many awkward ways I took to raise this pastil; what odd, misshapen, ugly things I made; how many of them fei'. in, and how many fell out, the clay not being stiff enough to bear its own weight; how many cracked by the over-violent heat of the sun, being set out too hastily; and how many fell in pieces with only removing, as well before as after they were dried; and, in a word, how, after having labored hard to find the clay, to diff it, to temper it, to bring it home, and work it, I could not maTce above two large earthen ugly things (1 cannot call them jars) in about two months* labor.
However, as the sun baked these two very dry and hard, I lifted them very gently up, and set them down again in two great wicker baskets, which I had made on purpose for them, that they might not break; and as between the pot and the basket there was a little room to spare, I stuffed it full of the rice and barley-straw; and these two pots, being to stand always dry, I thought would hold my dry corn, and perhaps the meal, when the corn was bruised.
Though I miscarried so much in my design for large pots, yet I made several smaller things with better success; such as little round pots, flat dishes, pitchers, and pipkins, and any thing my hand turned to; and the heat of the sun baked them very hard.
But all this would not answer my end, which was to get an earthen pot to hold liquids, and bear the fire, which none of these could do. It happened, some time after, making a pretty large fire for cooking my meat, when I went to put it out, aftet ] had done with it, 1 found a broken piece of one of my earth* en-ware vessels in the fire, burnt as hard as a stone, and red as a tile. I was agreeably surprised to see it; and said to myself, that certainly thev might be made to burn whole, if thej would bum broken.