Robinson Crusoe Written Anew for Children - James Baldwin

I Build a Big Canoe

While I was doing these things I was always trying to think of some way to escape from the island.

[Illustration] from Robinson Crusoe  by James Baldwin

True, I was living there with much comfort. I was happier than I had ever been while sailing the seas.

But I longed to see other men. I longed for home and friends.

You will remember that when I was over at the farther side of the island I had seen land in the distance. Fifty or sixty miles of water lay between me and that land. Yet I was always wishing that I could reach it.

It was a foolish wish. For there was no telling what I might find on that distant shore.

Perhaps it was a far worse place than my little island. Perhaps there were savage beasts there. Perhaps wild men lived there who would kill me and eat me.

I thought of all these things; but I was willing to risk every kind of danger rather than stay where I was.

At last I made up my mind to build a boat. It should be large enough to carry me and all that belonged to me. It should be strong enough to stand a long voyage over stormy seas.

I had seen the great canoes which Indians sometimes make of the trunks of trees. I would make one of the same kind.

In the woods I found a cedar tree which I thought was just the right thing for my canoe.

It was a huge tree. Its trunk was more than five feet through at the bottom.

I chopped and hewed many days before it fell to the ground. It took two weeks to cut a log of the right length from it.

Then I went to work on the log. I chop and hewed and shaped the outside into the form of a canoe. With hatchet and chisel I hollowed out the inside.

For full three months I worked on that cedar log. I was both proud and glad when the canoe was finished. I had never seen so big a boat made from a single tree.

It was well shaped and handsome. More than twenty men might find room to sit in it.

But now the hardest question of all must answered.

How was I to get my canoe into the water?

It lay not more than three hundred feet from the little river where I had first landed with my raft.

But how was I to move it three hundred feet, or even one foot? It was so heavy that I could not even roll it over.

I thought of several plans. But when I came to reckon the time and the labor, I found that even by the easiest plan it would take twenty years to get the canoe into the water.

What could I do but leave it in the woods where it lay?

How foolish I had been! Why had I not thought of the weight of the canoe before going to the labor of making it?

The wise man will always look before he leaps. I certainly had not acted wisely.

I went back to my castle, feeling sad and thoughtful.

Why should I be discontented and unhappy?

I was the master of all that I saw. I might call myself the king of the island.

I had all the comforts of life.

I had food in plenty.

I might raise shiploads of grain, but there was no market for it.

I had thousands of trees for timber and fuel, but no one wished to buy.

I counted the money which I had brought from the ship. There were above a hundred pieces of gold and silver; but of what use were they?

I would have given all for a handful of peas or beans to plant. I would have given all for a bottle of ink.