TWT logo

Together We Teach
Reading Room

Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.

| Home | Reading Room Robinson Crusoe


Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe

< BACK    NEXT >





THAT evil influence which carried me first away from my father's
house - which hurried me into the wild and indigested notion of
raising my fortune, and that impressed those conceits so forcibly
upon me as to make me deaf to all good advice, and to the
entreaties and even the commands of my father - I say, the same
influence, whatever it was, presented the most unfortunate of all
enterprises to my view; and I went on board a vessel bound to the
coast of Africa; or, as our sailors vulgarly called it, a voyage to

It was my great misfortune that in all these adventures I did not
ship myself as a sailor; when, though I might indeed have worked a
little harder than ordinary, yet at the same time I should have
learnt the duty and office of a fore-mast man, and in time might
have qualified myself for a mate or lieutenant, if not for a
master. But as it was always my fate to choose for the worse, so I
did here; for having money in my pocket and good clothes upon my
back, I would always go on board in the habit of a gentleman; and
so I neither had any business in the ship, nor learned to do any.

It was my lot first of all to fall into pretty good company in
London, which does not always happen to such loose and misguided
young fellows as I then was; the devil generally not omitting to
lay some snare for them very early; but it was not so with me. I
first got acquainted with the master of a ship who had been on the
coast of Guinea; and who, having had very good success there, was
resolved to go again. This captain taking a fancy to my
conversation, which was not at all disagreeable at that time,
hearing me say I had a mind to see the world, told me if I would go
the voyage with him I should be at no expense; I should be his
messmate and his companion; and if I could carry anything with me,
I should have all the advantage of it that the trade would admit;
and perhaps I might meet with some encouragement.

I embraced the offer; and entering into a strict friendship with
this captain, who was an honest, plain-dealing man, I went the
voyage with him, and carried a small adventure with me, which, by
the disinterested honesty of my friend the captain, I increased
very considerably; for I carried about 40 pounds in such toys and
trifles as the captain directed me to buy. These 40 pounds I had
mustered together by the assistance of some of my relations whom I
corresponded with; and who, I believe, got my father, or at least
my mother, to contribute so much as that to my first adventure.

This was the only voyage which I may say was successful in all my
adventures, which I owe to the integrity and honesty of my friend
the captain; under whom also I got a competent knowledge of the
mathematics and the rules of navigation, learned how to keep an
account of the ship's course, take an observation, and, in short,
to understand some things that were needful to be understood by a
sailor; for, as he took delight to instruct me, I took delight to
learn; and, in a word, this voyage made me both a sailor and a
merchant; for I brought home five pounds nine ounces of gold-dust
for my adventure, which yielded me in London, at my return, almost
300 pounds; and this filled me with those aspiring thoughts which
have since so completed my ruin.

Yet even in this voyage I had my misfortunes too; particularly,
that I was continually sick, being thrown into a violent calenture
by the excessive heat of the climate; our principal trading being
upon the coast, from latitude of 15 degrees north even to the line

I was now set up for a Guinea trader; and my friend, to my great
misfortune, dying soon after his arrival, I resolved to go the same
voyage again, and I embarked in the same vessel with one who was
his mate in the former voyage, and had now got the command of the
ship. This was the unhappiest voyage that ever man made; for
though I did not carry quite 100 pounds of my new-gained wealth, so
that I had 200 pounds left, which I had lodged with my friend's
widow, who was very just to me, yet I fell into terrible
misfortunes. The first was this: our ship making her course
towards the Canary Islands, or rather between those islands and the
African shore, was surprised in the grey of the morning by a
Turkish rover of Sallee, who gave chase to us with all the sail she
could make. We crowded also as much canvas as our yards would
spread, or our masts carry, to get clear; but finding the pirate
gained upon us, and would certainly come up with us in a few hours,
we prepared to fight; our ship having twelve guns, and the rogue
eighteen. About three in the afternoon he came up with us, and
bringing to, by mistake, just athwart our quarter, instead of
athwart our stern, as he intended, we brought eight of our guns to
bear on that side, and poured in a broadside upon him, which made
him sheer off again, after returning our fire, and pouring in also
his small shot from near two hundred men which he had on board.
However, we had not a man touched, all our men keeping close. He
prepared to attack us again, and we to defend ourselves. But
laying us on board the next time upon our other quarter, he entered
sixty men upon our decks, who immediately fell to cutting and
hacking the sails and rigging. We plied them with small shot,
half-pikes, powder-chests, and such like, and cleared our deck of
them twice. However, to cut short this melancholy part of our
story, our ship being disabled, and three of our men killed, and
eight wounded, we were obliged to yield, and were carried all
prisoners into Sallee, a port belonging to the Moors.

The usage I had there was not so dreadful as at first I
apprehended; nor was I carried up the country to the emperor's
court, as the rest of our men were, but was kept by the captain of
the rover as his proper prize, and made his slave, being young and
nimble, and fit for his business. At this surprising change of my
circumstances, from a merchant to a miserable slave, I was
perfectly overwhelmed; and now I looked back upon my father's
prophetic discourse to me, that I should be miserable and have none
to relieve me, which I thought was now so effectually brought to
pass that I could not be worse; for now the hand of Heaven had
overtaken me, and I was undone without redemption; but, alas! this
was but a taste of the misery I was to go through, as will appear
in the sequel of this story.

As my new patron, or master, had taken me home to his house, so I
was in hopes that he would take me with him when he went to sea
again, believing that it would some time or other be his fate to be
taken by a Spanish or Portugal man-of-war; and that then I should
be set at liberty. But this hope of mine was soon taken away; for
when he went to sea, he left me on shore to look after his little
garden, and do the common drudgery of slaves about his house; and
when he came home again from his cruise, he ordered me to lie in
the cabin to look after the ship.

Here I meditated nothing but my escape, and what method I might
take to effect it, but found no way that had the least probability
in it; nothing presented to make the supposition of it rational;
for I had nobody to communicate it to that would embark with me -
no fellow-slave, no Englishman, Irishman, or Scotchman there but
myself; so that for two years, though I often pleased myself with
the imagination, yet I never had the least encouraging prospect of
putting it in practice.

After about two years, an odd circumstance presented itself, which
put the old thought of making some attempt for my liberty again in
my head. My patron lying at home longer than usual without fitting
out his ship, which, as I heard, was for want of money, he used
constantly, once or twice a week, sometimes oftener if the weather
was fair, to take the ship's pinnace and go out into the road a-
fishing; and as he always took me and young Maresco with him to row
the boat, we made him very merry, and I proved very dexterous in
catching fish; insomuch that sometimes he would send me with a
Moor, one of his kinsmen, and the youth - the Maresco, as they
called him - to catch a dish of fish for him.

It happened one time, that going a-fishing in a calm morning, a fog
rose so thick that, though we were not half a league from the
shore, we lost sight of it; and rowing we knew not whither or which
way, we laboured all day, and all the next night; and when the
morning came we found we had pulled off to sea instead of pulling
in for the shore; and that we were at least two leagues from the
shore. However, we got well in again, though with a great deal of
labour and some danger; for the wind began to blow pretty fresh in
the morning; but we were all very hungry.

But our patron, warned by this disaster, resolved to take more care
of himself for the future; and having lying by him the longboat of
our English ship that he had taken, he resolved he would not go a-
fishing any more without a compass and some provision; so he
ordered the carpenter of his ship, who also was an English slave,
to build a little state-room, or cabin, in the middle of the long-
boat, like that of a barge, with a place to stand behind it to
steer, and haul home the main-sheet; the room before for a hand or
two to stand and work the sails. She sailed with what we call a
shoulder-of-mutton sail; and the boom jibed over the top of the
cabin, which lay very snug and low, and had in it room for him to
lie, with a slave or two, and a table to eat on, with some small
lockers to put in some bottles of such liquor as he thought fit to
drink; and his bread, rice, and coffee.

We went frequently out with this boat a-fishing; and as I was most
dexterous to catch fish for him, he never went without me. It
happened that he had appointed to go out in this boat, either for
pleasure or for fish, with two or three Moors of some distinction
in that place, and for whom he had provided extraordinarily, and
had, therefore, sent on board the boat overnight a larger store of
provisions than ordinary; and had ordered me to get ready three
fusees with powder and shot, which were on board his ship, for that
they designed some sport of fowling as well as fishing.

I got all things ready as he had directed, and waited the next
morning with the boat washed clean, her ancient and pendants out,
and everything to accommodate his guests; when by-and-by my patron
came on board alone, and told me his guests had put off going from
some business that fell out, and ordered me, with the man and boy,
as usual, to go out with the boat and catch them some fish, for
that his friends were to sup at his house, and commanded that as
soon as I got some fish I should bring it home to his house; all
which I prepared to do.

This moment my former notions of deliverance darted into my
thoughts, for now I found I was likely to have a little ship at my
command; and my master being gone, I prepared to furnish myself,
not for fishing business, but for a voyage; though I knew not,
neither did I so much as consider, whither I should steer -
anywhere to get out of that place was my desire.

My first contrivance was to make a pretence to speak to this Moor,
to get something for our subsistence on board; for I told him we
must not presume to eat of our patron's bread. He said that was
true; so he brought a large basket of rusk or biscuit, and three
jars of fresh water, into the boat. I knew where my patron's case
of bottles stood, which it was evident, by the make, were taken out
of some English prize, and I conveyed them into the boat while the
Moor was on shore, as if they had been there before for our master.
I conveyed also a great lump of beeswax into the boat, which
weighed about half a hundred-weight, with a parcel of twine or
thread, a hatchet, a saw, and a hammer, all of which were of great
use to us afterwards, especially the wax, to make candles. Another
trick I tried upon him, which he innocently came into also: his
name was Ismael, which they call Muley, or Moely; so I called to
him - "Moely," said I, "our patron's guns are on board the boat;
can you not get a little powder and shot? It may be we may kill
some alcamies (a fowl like our curlews) for ourselves, for I know
he keeps the gunner's stores in the ship." "Yes," says he, "I'll
bring some;" and accordingly he brought a great leather pouch,
which held a pound and a half of powder, or rather more; and
another with shot, that had five or six pounds, with some bullets,
and put all into the boat. At the same time I had found some
powder of my master's in the great cabin, with which I filled one
of the large bottles in the case, which was almost empty, pouring
what was in it into another; and thus furnished with everything
needful, we sailed out of the port to fish. The castle, which is
at the entrance of the port, knew who we were, and took no notice
of us; and we were not above a mile out of the port before we
hauled in our sail and set us down to fish. The wind blew from the
N.N.E., which was contrary to my desire, for had it blown southerly
I had been sure to have made the coast of Spain, and at least
reached to the bay of Cadiz; but my resolutions were, blow which
way it would, I would be gone from that horrid place where I was,
and leave the rest to fate.

After we had fished some time and caught nothing - for when I had
fish on my hook I would not pull them up, that he might not see
them - I said to the Moor, "This will not do; our master will not
be thus served; we must stand farther off." He, thinking no harm,
agreed, and being in the head of the boat, set the sails; and, as I
had the helm, I ran the boat out near a league farther, and then
brought her to, as if I would fish; when, giving the boy the helm,
I stepped forward to where the Moor was, and making as if I stooped
for something behind him, I took him by surprise with my arm under
his waist, and tossed him clear overboard into the sea. He rose
immediately, for he swam like a cork, and called to me, begged to
be taken in, told me he would go all over the world with me. He
swam so strong after the boat that he would have reached me very
quickly, there being but little wind; upon which I stepped into the
cabin, and fetching one of the fowling-pieces, I presented it at
him, and told him I had done him no hurt, and if he would be quiet
I would do him none. "But," said I, "you swim well enough to reach
to the shore, and the sea is calm; make the best of your way to
shore, and I will do you no harm; but if you come near the boat
I'll shoot you through the head, for I am resolved to have my
liberty;" so he turned himself about, and swam for the shore, and I
make no doubt but he reached it with ease, for he was an excellent

I could have been content to have taken this Moor with me, and have
drowned the boy, but there was no venturing to trust him. When he
was gone, I turned to the boy, whom they called Xury, and said to
him, "Xury, if you will be faithful to me, I'll make you a great
man; but if you will not stroke your face to be true to me" - that
is, swear by Mahomet and his father's beard - "I must throw you
into the sea too." The boy smiled in my face, and spoke so
innocently that I could not distrust him, and swore to be faithful
to me, and go all over the world with me.

While I was in view of the Moor that was swimming, I stood out
directly to sea with the boat, rather stretching to windward, that
they might think me gone towards the Straits' mouth (as indeed any
one that had been in their wits must have been supposed to do): for
who would have supposed we were sailed on to the southward, to the
truly Barbarian coast, where whole nations of negroes were sure to
surround us with their canoes and destroy us; where we could not go
on shore but we should be devoured by savage beasts, or more
merciless savages of human kind.

But as soon as it grew dusk in the evening, I changed my course,
and steered directly south and by east, bending my course a little
towards the east, that I might keep in with the shore; and having a
fair, fresh gale of wind, and a smooth, quiet sea, I made such sail
that I believe by the next day, at three o'clock in the afternoon,
when I first made the land, I could not be less than one hundred
and fifty miles south of Sallee; quite beyond the Emperor of
Morocco's dominions, or indeed of any other king thereabouts, for
we saw no people.

Yet such was the fright I had taken of the Moors, and the dreadful
apprehensions I had of falling into their hands, that I would not
stop, or go on shore, or come to an anchor; the wind continuing
fair till I had sailed in that manner five days; and then the wind
shifting to the southward, I concluded also that if any of our
vessels were in chase of me, they also would now give over; so I
ventured to make to the coast, and came to an anchor in the mouth
of a little river, I knew not what, nor where, neither what
latitude, what country, what nation, or what river. I neither saw,
nor desired to see any people; the principal thing I wanted was
fresh water. We came into this creek in the evening, resolving to
swim on shore as soon as it was dark, and discover the country; but
as soon as it was quite dark, we heard such dreadful noises of the
barking, roaring, and howling of wild creatures, of we knew not
what kinds, that the poor boy was ready to die with fear, and
begged of me not to go on shore till day. "Well, Xury," said I,
"then I won't; but it may be that we may see men by day, who will
be as bad to us as those lions." "Then we give them the shoot
gun," says Xury, laughing, "make them run wey." Such English Xury
spoke by conversing among us slaves. However, I was glad to see
the boy so cheerful, and I gave him a dram (out of our patron's
case of bottles) to cheer him up. After all, Xury's advice was
good, and I took it; we dropped our little anchor, and lay still
all night; I say still, for we slept none; for in two or three
hours we saw vast great creatures (we knew not what to call them)
of many sorts, come down to the sea-shore and run into the water,
wallowing and washing themselves for the pleasure of cooling
themselves; and they made such hideous howlings and yellings, that
I never indeed heard the like.

Xury was dreadfully frighted, and indeed so was I too; but we were
both more frighted when we heard one of these mighty creatures come
swimming towards our boat; we could not see him, but we might hear
him by his blowing to be a monstrous huge and furious beast. Xury
said it was a lion, and it might be so for aught I know; but poor
Xury cried to me to weigh the anchor and row away; "No," says I,
"Xury; we can slip our cable, with the buoy to it, and go off to
sea; they cannot follow us far." I had no sooner said so, but I
perceived the creature (whatever it was) within two oars' length,
which something surprised me; however, I immediately stepped to the
cabin door, and taking up my gun, fired at him; upon which he
immediately turned about and swam towards the shore again.

But it is impossible to describe the horrid noises, and hideous
cries and howlings that were raised, as well upon the edge of the
shore as higher within the country, upon the noise or report of the
gun, a thing I have some reason to believe those creatures had
never heard before: this convinced me that there was no going on
shore for us in the night on that coast, and how to venture on
shore in the day was another question too; for to have fallen into
the hands of any of the savages had been as bad as to have fallen
into the hands of the lions and tigers; at least we were equally
apprehensive of the danger of it.

Be that as it would, we were obliged to go on shore somewhere or
other for water, for we had not a pint left in the boat; when and
where to get to it was the point. Xury said, if I would let him go
on shore with one of the jars, he would find if there was any
water, and bring some to me. I asked him why he would go? why I
should not go, and he stay in the boat? The boy answered with so
much affection as made me love him ever after. Says he, "If wild
mans come, they eat me, you go wey." "Well, Xury," said I, "we
will both go and if the wild mans come, we will kill them, they
shall eat neither of us." So I gave Xury a piece of rusk bread to
eat, and a dram out of our patron's case of bottles which I
mentioned before; and we hauled the boat in as near the shore as we
thought was proper, and so waded on shore, carrying nothing but our
arms and two jars for water.

I did not care to go out of sight of the boat, fearing the coming
of canoes with savages down the river; but the boy seeing a low
place about a mile up the country, rambled to it, and by-and-by I
saw him come running towards me. I thought he was pursued by some
savage, or frighted with some wild beast, and I ran forward towards
him to help him; but when I came nearer to him I saw something
hanging over his shoulders, which was a creature that he had shot,
like a hare, but different in colour, and longer legs; however, we
were very glad of it, and it was very good meat; but the great joy
that poor Xury came with, was to tell me he had found good water
and seen no wild mans.

But we found afterwards that we need not take such pains for water,
for a little higher up the creek where we were we found the water
fresh when the tide was out, which flowed but a little way up; so
we filled our jars, and feasted on the hare he had killed, and
prepared to go on our way, having seen no footsteps of any human
creature in that part of the country.

As I had been one voyage to this coast before, I knew very well
that the islands of the Canaries, and the Cape de Verde Islands
also, lay not far off from the coast. But as I had no instruments
to take an observation to know what latitude we were in, and not
exactly knowing, or at least remembering, what latitude they were
in, I knew not where to look for them, or when to stand off to sea
towards them; otherwise I might now easily have found some of these
islands. But my hope was, that if I stood along this coast till I
came to that part where the English traded, I should find some of
their vessels upon their usual design of trade, that would relieve
and take us in.

By the best of my calculation, that place where I now was must be
that country which, lying between the Emperor of Morocco's
dominions and the negroes, lies waste and uninhabited, except by
wild beasts; the negroes having abandoned it and gone farther south
for fear of the Moors, and the Moors not thinking it worth
inhabiting by reason of its barrenness; and indeed, both forsaking
it because of the prodigious number of tigers, lions, leopards, and
other furious creatures which harbour there; so that the Moors use
it for their hunting only, where they go like an army, two or three
thousand men at a time; and indeed for near a hundred miles
together upon this coast we saw nothing but a waste, uninhabited
country by day, and heard nothing but howlings and roaring of wild
beasts by night.

Once or twice in the daytime I thought I saw the Pico of Teneriffe,
being the high top of the Mountain Teneriffe in the Canaries, and
had a great mind to venture out, in hopes of reaching thither; but
having tried twice, I was forced in again by contrary winds, the
sea also going too high for my little vessel; so, I resolved to
pursue my first design, and keep along the shore.

Several times I was obliged to land for fresh water, after we had
left this place; and once in particular, being early in morning, we
came to an anchor under a little point of land, which was pretty
high; and the tide beginning to flow, we lay still to go farther
in. Xury, whose eyes were more about him than it seems mine were,
calls softly to me, and tells me that we had best go farther off
the shore; "For," says he, "look, yonder lies a dreadful monster on
the side of that hillock, fast asleep." I looked where he pointed,
and saw a dreadful monster indeed, for it was a terrible, great
lion that lay on the side of the shore, under the shade of a piece
of the hill that hung as it were a little over him. "Xury," says
I, "you shall on shore and kill him." Xury, looked frighted, and
said, "Me kill! he eat me at one mouth!" - one mouthful he meant.
However, I said no more to the boy, but bade him lie still, and I
took our biggest gun, which was almost musket-bore, and loaded it
with a good charge of powder, and with two slugs, and laid it down;
then I loaded another gun with two bullets; and the third (for we
had three pieces) I loaded with five smaller bullets. I took the
best aim I could with the first piece to have shot him in the head,
but he lay so with his leg raised a little above his nose, that the
slugs hit his leg about the knee and broke the bone. He started
up, growling at first, but finding his leg broken, fell down again;
and then got upon three legs, and gave the most hideous roar that
ever I heard. I was a little surprised that I had not hit him on
the head; however, I took up the second piece immediately, and
though he began to move off, fired again, and shot him in the head,
and had the pleasure to see him drop and make but little noise, but
lie struggling for life. Then Xury took heart, and would have me
let him go on shore. "Well, go," said I: so the boy jumped into
the water and taking a little gun in one hand, swam to shore with
the other hand, and coming close to the creature, put the muzzle of
the piece to his ear, and shot him in the head again, which
despatched him quite.

This was game indeed to us, but this was no food; and I was very
sorry to lose three charges of powder and shot upon a creature that
was good for nothing to us. However, Xury said he would have some
of him; so he comes on board, and asked me to give him the hatchet.
"For what, Xury?" said I. "Me cut off his head," said he.
However, Xury could not cut off his head, but he cut off a foot,
and brought it with him, and it was a monstrous great one.

I bethought myself, however, that, perhaps the skin of him might,
one way or other, be of some value to us; and I resolved to take
off his skin if I could. So Xury and I went to work with him; but
Xury was much the better workman at it, for I knew very ill how to
do it. Indeed, it took us both up the whole day, but at last we
got off the hide of him, and spreading it on the top of our cabin,
the sun effectually dried it in two days' time, and it afterwards
served me to lie upon.



Top of Page

< BACK    NEXT >

| Home | Reading Room Robinson Crusoe




Why not spread the word about Together We Teach?
Simply copy & paste our home page link below into your emails... 

Want the Together We Teach link to place on your website?
Copy & paste either home page link on your webpage...
Together We Teach 




Use these free website tools below for a more powerful experience at Together We Teach!

****Google™ search****

For a more specific search, try using quotation marks around phrases (ex. "You are what you read")


*** Google Translate™ translation service ***

 Translate text:


  Translate a web page:

****What's the Definition?****
(Simply insert the word you want to lookup)

 Search:   for   

S D Glass Enterprises

Privacy Policy

Warner Robins, GA, USA