Robinson Crusoe Written Anew for Children - James Baldwin

I See a Strange Sail

I pass over some wonderful things that happened during my last year on the island. For I must not make this story too long.

I was fast asleep in my castle one morning when Friday came running in.

[Illustration] from Robinson Crusoe  by James Baldwin

"O master, master!" he cried, "a boat, a boat!"

I jumped up and went out as quickly as could. I was in such haste that I forgot to carry my gun with me.

I looked toward the sea. About three miles from the shore I saw a strange boat coming to the island. It carried a leg-of-mutton sail and was coming swiftly with the wind. "Surely," I thought, "this is not the kind of boat that savages sail in."

Then I saw that it was coming not from the open sea on my side of the island, but from around a point on the south shore.

I ran back to my castle and told Friday to stay inside and keep quiet till we could learn whether the people in the boat were friends or foes.

Then I climbed up to my lookout on the top of the great rock.

I looked out toward the south shore, and there I saw a ship lying at anchor. As nearly as I could guess, it was about five miles from my castle and at least three miles from the shore.

It looked just like an English ship, and the boat was surely an English longboat.

I cannot tell you how glad I was at the thought that some of my own countrymen were so near. Yet I felt strange fears, and so made up my mind to be very cautious.

In the first place, what business could an English ship have in these seas? The English had no lands in this part of the world. They would not come here to trade. There had been no storms to drive the vessel to this place.

The more I thought of the matter, the more I doubted. If these people were indeed English, they must be here for no good purpose.

By this time the boat was quite near the shore. I could see the men in it quite plainly. They looked like Englishmen.

As they came in the tide was at its highest, and so they ran the boat far up on the beach about half a mile from me.

I now counted eleven men, and all but three were armed with swords. As soon as the boat touched the land, the most of them jumped out.

Then I saw that the three unarmed men were prisoners. Their hands were tied behind them and they were closely guarded.

As they were led on shore, they seemed in great distress as though begging for their lives.

When Friday saw all this, he cried out to me, "O master! the white mans do just like savage mans with their prisoners."

"Why, Friday," I said, "do you think they are going to eat them?"

"Yes, yes," he answered, " they are going to eat them."

The prisoners were led far up on the beach, and I expected every moment to see them killed.

But soon their guards seemed to change their minds. They talked together for a little while. Then they untied the prisoners' hands and let them go where they pleased.

The seamen scattered, some going this way, some that, as though they wished to see the country. But the men who had been prisoners sat down on the ground and seemed very sad and full of despair.

I thought then of the time when I had first landed on that shore—how I had no hope, and how I gave myself up for lost.

As I have said, the tide was at its highest when the men came on shore. They rambled around till it had flowed out and left their boat high and dry on the sand.

They had left two men with the boat to guard it. But the weather being very warm, these men had fallen asleep.

When one of them awoke and found the water far out from the boat, he began to hello for help. All the men came running and tried to drag the boat out to the water.

But it was so heavy they could not move it. They tugged and pulled for a long time. Then I heard one of them shout: "Let her alone, boys! She'll float all right when the next tide comes up.

With that they gave it up and all strolled out into the country again.