|C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the Worlds Best Literature.|
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
|Selections from Robinson Crusoe|
|By Daniel Defoe (1661?1731)|
NOTHING can describe the confusion of thought which I felt when I sunk into the water; for though I swam very well, yet I could not deliver myself from the waves so as to draw my breath; till that wave having driven me or rather carried me a vast way on towards the shore, and having spent itself, went back, and left me upon the land almost dry, but half dead with the water I took in. I had so much presence of mind as well as breath left, that seeing myself nearer the mainland than I expected, I got upon my feet, and endeavored to make on towards the land as fast as I could, before another wave should return and take me up again; but I soon found it was impossible to avoid it; for I saw the sea coming after me as high as a great hill, and as furious as an enemy which I had no means or strength to contend with: my business was to hold my breath, and raise myself upon the water, if I could; and so by swimming to preserve my breathing, and pilot myself towards the shore if possible; my greatest concern now being that the wave, as it would carry me a great way towards the shore when it came on, might not carry me back again with it when it gave back towards the sea.
| The wave that came upon me again, buried me at once twenty or thirty feet deep in its own body; and I could feel myself carried with a mighty force and swiftness towards the shore, a very great way; but I held my breath, and assisted myself to swim still forward with all my might. I was ready to burst with holding my breath, when, as I felt myself rising up, so to my immediate relief I found my head and hands shoot out above the surface of the water; and though it was not two seconds of time that I could keep myself so, yet it relieved me greatly, gave me breath and new courage. I was covered again with water a good while, but not so long but I held it out; and finding the water had spent itself, and began to return, I struck forward against the return of the waves, and felt ground again with my feet. I stood still a few moments to recover breath, and till the water went from me, and then took to my heels and ran with what strength I had farther towards the shore. But neither would this deliver me from the fury of the sea, which came pouring in after me again; and twice more I was lifted up by the waves and carried forward as before, the shore being very flat.|| 2|
| The last time of these two had well-nigh been fatal to me; for the sea having hurried me along as before, landed me, or rather dashed me, against a piece of rock, and that with such force that it left me senseless, and indeed helpless as to my own deliverance; for the blow taking my side and breast, beat the breath as it were quite out of my body, and had it returned again immediately I must have been strangled in the water; but I recovered a little before the return of the waves, and seeing I should again be covered with the water, I resolved to hold fast by a piece of the rock, and so to hold my breath if possible till the wave went back. Now, as the waves were not so high as the first, being nearer land, I held my hold till the wave abated, and then fetched another run, which brought me so near the shore, that the next wave, though it went over me, yet did not so swallow me up as to carry me away; and the next run I took, I got to the mainland, where to my great comfort I clambered up the cliffs of the shore, and sat me down upon the grass, free from danger and quite out of the reach of the water.|| 3|
| I was now landed, and safe on shore; and began to look up and thank God that my life was saved, in a case wherein there were, some minutes before, scarce any room to hope. I believe it is impossible to express, to the life, what the ecstasies and transports of the soul are when it is so saved, as I may say, out of the grave: and I did not wonder now at the custom, viz., that when a malefactor who has the halter about his neck is tied up, and just going to be turned off, and has a reprieve brought to him,I say I do not wonder that they bring a surgeon with it, to let him blood that very moment they tell him of it; that the surprise may not drive the animal spirits from the heart and overwhelm him.|
| ||For sudden joys, like griefs, confound at first.|| 4|
| I walked about the shore, lifting up my hands, and my whole being, as I may say, wrapped up in the contemplation of my deliverance; making a thousand gestures and motions which I cannot describe; reflecting upon my comrades that were drowned, and that there should not be one soul saved but myself; for as for them, I never saw them afterwards, or any sign of them, except three of the hats, one cap, and two shoes that were not fellows.|| 5|
| I cast my eyes to the stranded vesselwhen the breach and froth of the sea being so big I could hardly see it, it lay so far offand considered, Lord! how was it possible I could get on shore?|| 6|
Crusoe Makes a New Home
I soon found the place I was in was not for my settlement, particularly because it was upon a low moorish ground, near the sea, and I believed it would not be wholesome; and more particularly because there was no fresh water near it; so I resolved to find a more healthy and more convenient spot of ground.
| I consulted several things in my situation which I found would be proper for me: first, air and fresh water, I just now mentioned; secondly, shelter from the heat of the sun; thirdly, security from ravenous creatures, whether men or beasts; fourthly, a view to the sea, that if God sent any ship in sight, I might not lose any advantage for my deliverance, of which I was not willing to banish all my expectation yet.|| 8|
| I searched for a place proper for this. I found a little plain on the side of a rising hill, whose front towards this little plain was steep as a house-side, so that nothing could come down upon me from the top. On the side of this rock there was a hollow place, worn a little way in, like the entrance or door of a cave; but there was not really any cave, or way into the rock at all.|| 9|
| On the flat of the green, just before this hollow place, I resolved to pitch my tent. This plain was not above a hundred yards broad, and about twice as long, and lay like a green before my door; and at the end of it descended irregularly every way down into the low ground by the seaside. It was on the N. N. W. side of the hill, so that it was sheltered from the heat every day, till it came to a W. and by S. sun, or thereabouts, which in those countries is near the setting.|| 10|
| Before I set up my tent I drew a half-circle before the hollow place, which took in about ten yards in its semi-diameter from the rock, and twenty yards in its diameter from its beginning and ending.|| 11|
| In this half-circle I pitched two rows of long stakes, driving them into the ground till they stood very firm like piles, the biggest end being out of the ground about five feet and a half, and sharpened on the top. The two rows did not stand above six inches from one another.|| 12|
| Then I took the pieces of cable which I cut in the ship, and laid them in rows, one upon another, within the circle between these two rows of stakes, up to the top, placing other stakes in the inside, leaning against them, about two feet and a half high, like a spur to a post: and this fence was so strong that neither man nor beast could get into it or over it. This cost me a great deal of time and labor, especially to cut the piles in the woods, bring them to the place, and drive them into the earth.|| 13|
| The entrance into this place I made to be not by a door, but by a short ladder to go over the top; which ladder, when I was in, I lifted over after me; and so I was completely fenced in and fortified, as I thought, from all the world, and consequently slept secure in the night, which otherwise I could not have done; though as it appeared afterwards, there was no need of all this caution against the enemies that I apprehended danger from.|| 14|
It happened one day about noon, going toward my boat, I was exceedingly surprised with the print of a mans naked foot on the shore, which was very plain to be seen on the sand. I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition. I listened, I looked about me, but I could hear nothing or see anything; I went up to a rising ground to look farther; I went up the shore and down the shore, but it was all one: I could see no other impression but that one. I went to it again to see if there were any more, and to observe if it might not be my fancy; but there was no room for that, for there was exactly the print of a foottoes, heel, and every part of a foot. How it came hither I knew not, nor could I in the least imagine; but after innumerable fluttering thoughts, like a man perfectly confused and out of myself, I came home to my fortification, not feeling, as we say, the ground I went on, but terrified to the last degree, looking behind me at every two or three steps, mistaking every bush and tree, and fancying every stump at a distance to be a man. Nor is it possible to describe how many various shapes my affrighted imagination represented things to me in, how many wild ideas were found every moment in my fancy, and what strange unaccountable whimseys came into my thoughts by the way. When I came to my castle (for so I think I called it ever after this) I fled into it like one pursued. Whether I went over by the ladder, as first contrived, or went in at the hole in the rock, which I had called a door, I cannot remember; no, nor could I remember the next morning, for never frightened hare fled to cover or fox to earth with more terror of mind than I to this retreat.