Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

mere old age. 1 stirred him a little, to see if I could get him out, and he essayed to get up, bat was not able to raise himself; and I thought with myself he might even lie there; for if he had frightened me, so he would certainly fright any of the savages, if any one of them should be so hardy as to come in there while he had an)7 life in him.

I was now recovered from my surprise, and began to look round me, when I found the cave was but very small, that is to say, it might be about twelve feet over, but in no manner of shape, neither round nor square, no hands having ever been employed in making it but those of mere Nature. I observed also that there was a place at the farther side of it that went in further, but was so low that it required me to creep upon my hands and knees to go into it, and whither it went I knew not: so, having no candle, I gave it over for that time , but resolved to come again the next day, provided with candles and a tinder-box, which I had made of the lock of one of the muskets, with some wild-fire in the pan.

Accordingly, the next day I came provided with six large candles of my own making (for I made very good candles now of goats' tallow, but was hard set for candle-wick, using sometimes rags or rope-yarn, and sometimes the dried rind of a weed like nettles^; and going into this low place, I was obliged to creep upon all fours, as I have said, almost ten yarfls; which, by the way, I thought was a venture bold enough, considering that I knew not how far it might go, nor what was beyond it. When I had got through the strait, I found the roof rose higher up, I believe near twenty feet; but never was such a glorious si^ht seen in the island, 1 dare say, as it was, to look round the sides and roof of this vault or cave: the wall reflected a hundred thousand lights to me from my two candles. What it was in the rock, whether diamonds, or any other precious stones, or gold, which I rather supposed it to be, I knew not. The place I was in was a most delightful cavity or grotto of its kind, as could be expected, though perfectly dark; the floor was dry and level, and had a sort of a small loose gravel upon it, so that there was no nauseous or venomOjs creature to be seen, neither was there any damp or wet on the sides or roof: the only difficulty in it was the entrance, which, however, as it was a place of security, and such a retreat as I wanted, I thought that was a convenience; so that I was really rejoiced at the discovery, and resolved, without any delay, to bring some of those things which I was most anxious about to this place; particularly, I resolved to bring hither my magazine of powder, and all my spare arms, viz. two fowling-pieces (for I had three in all), and three muskets (for of them I had eight in all); so I kept at my castle only live, which stood ready mounted, like pieces of cannon, on my out most fence, and were ready also to take out upon any expedition. Upon this occasion of removing my ammunition, 1 happened to open the barrel of powder, which 1 took up out of the sea, and which had been wet; and I found that the water had penetrated about three or four inches into the powder on every side, which, caking, and crowing hard, had preserved the inside like a kernel in the shell; so that I had near sixty pounds of very good*powder in the centre of the cask: this was a very agreeable discovery to me at that time; so I carried all away thither, never keeping above two or three pounds of powder with me in my castle, for fear of a surprise of any kind: I also carried thither all the lead I had left for bullets.

I fancied myself now like one of the ancient giants, which were said to live in caves and holes in the rocks, where none could come at them; for I persuaded myself, while I was here, that if five hundred savages were to hunt me, they could never find me out; or, if they did, they would not venture to attack me here. The old goat, whom I found expiring, died in the mouth of the cave the next day after I made this discovery: and I found it much easier to dig a great hole there, and throw him in and cover him with earth, than to drag him out; so I interred him there, to prevent offence to my nose.

I was now in the twenty-third year of my residence in this island; and was so naturalized to the place, and the manner of living, that could 1 have but enjoyed the certainty that no savages would come to the place to disturb me, I could have been content to have capitulated for spending the rest of my time there, even to the last moment, till I had laid me down and died, like the old goat in the cave. I had also arrived to some little diversions and amusements, which made the time pass a great deal more pleasantly with me than it did before: as, first, I had taught my Pol, as I noted before, to speak; and he did it so familiarly, and talked so articulately and plain, that it was very pleasant to me; for 1 believe no bird ever spoke plainer: and he lived with me no less than six-andtwenty years: how long he might have lived afterwards I know not, though I know they have a notion in the Brazils that they live a hundred years. My dog was a very pleasant and loving companion to me for no less than sixteen years of my time, and then died of mere old age. As for my cats, they multiplied, as I have observed, to that degree, that I was obliged to shoot several of them at first, to keep them from devouring me and all I had; but, at length, when the two old ones I brought with me were gone, and after some time continually driving them from me, and letting them have no provision with me, they all ran wild into the woods, except two or three favorites, which I kept tame, and whose young, when they had any, I always drowned; and these were part of my family. Besides these, I always kept two or three household kids about me, whom I taught to feed out of my hand; and I had two more parrots, which talked pretty well, and would all call Robin Crusoe, but none like my first; nor, indeed, did I take the pains with any of them that I had done with him. I had also several tame seafowls, whose names I knew not, that I caught upon the shore, and cut their wings; and the little stakes which I had planted before my castle wall being now grown up to a good thick grove, these fowls all lived among these low trees, and bred there, which was very agreeable to me: so that, as I said above, I began to be very well contentea with the life 1 led, if I could have been secured from the dread of the savages. But it was otherwise directed; and it may not be amiss for all people who shall meet with my story, to make this just observation from it, viz. How frequently, in the course of our lives. the evil which in itself we seek most to shun, and which, when we are fallen into, is the most dreadful to us, is oftentimes the very means or door of our deliverance, by which alone we can be raised again from the affliction we are fallen into. ) could give many examples of this in the course of my unaccountable life; but in nothing was it more particularly remarkable than in the circumstances of my last years of solitary residence in this island.

It was now the month of December,! as I said above, in my twenty-third year; and this, being the southern solstice (for winter I cannot call it), was the particular time of my harvest, and required my being pretty much abroad in the fields; when going out pretty early in the morning, even before it was thorough daylight, I was surprised with seeing a light of some fire upon the shore, at a distance from me of about two miles, towards the end of the island where I had observed some savages had been, as before, and not on the other side; but to my great affliction, it was on my side of the island.

I was indeed terribly surprised at the sight, and stopped short within my grove, not daring to go out, lest I might be surprised, and yet I had no more peace within, from the apprehensions I had that if these savages, in rambling over the island, should find my corn standing or cut, or any of my works and improvements, they would immediately conclude that there were people in the place, and would then never give over till they had found me out. In this extremity, I went back directly to my castle, pulled up the ladder after me, and made all things without look as wild and natural as I could.

Then I prepared myself within, putting myself in a posture of defence: I loaded all my cannon, as 1 called them, that is to say, my muskets, which were mounted upon my new fortification, and all my pistols, and resolved to defend myself to the last gasp; not forgetting seriously to commend myself to the divine protection, and earnestly to pray to God to deliver me out of the hands of the barbarians. I continued in this posture about two hours; and began to be mighty impatient For intelligence abroad, for I had no spies to send out. Aftei sitting awhile longer, and musing what I should do in this, 1 was not able to bear sitting in ignorance any longer; so setting up my ladder to the side of the hill, where there was a flat place, as I observed before, and then pulling the 1-idder up after me, I set it up again, and mounted to the top of the hili; and pulling out my perspective-glass, which I had taken on purpose, I laid me down fiat on my belly on the ground, and began to look for the place. 1 presently found there were no less than nine naked savages, sitting round a small tire they had made, not to warm them, for they had no need of that, the weather being extremely hot, but, as I supposed, to dress some of their barbarous diet of human flesh, which they had brought with them, whether alive or dead, I could not tell.

They had two canoes with them, which they had hauled up upon the shore; and as it was then tide of ebb, they seemed to me to wait for the return of the flood to go away again. It is not easy to imagine what confusion this sight put me into, especially seeing them come on my side of the island, and so near me too; but when I considered their coming must be always with the current of the ebb, 1 began, afterwards, to be more sedate in my mind, being satisfied tliat I might go abroad with safety all the time of the tide of flood, if thev were not on shore before; and having made this observation, I went abroad about my harvest-work with the more composure.

As I expected, so it proved; for as soon as the tide made to the westward, I saw them all take boat, and row (or paddle, as we call it] away. I should have observed, that for an hour or more before they went off, they went a dancing; and I could easily discern their postures and gestures by my glass. I could not perceive, by my nicest observation, but that they were stark naked, and had not the least covering upon them; but whether they were men or women, I could not distinguish.

As soon as I saw them shipped and gone, I took two guns upon my shoulders, and two pistols in my girdle, and my great sword by my side, without a scabbard, and with all the speed I was able to make, went away to the hill where I had discovered the first appearance of all; and as soon as I got thither

« AnteriorContinuar »