Robinson Crusoe Told to the Children - John Lang

Arrival of an English Ship;
Robinson Sails for Home

Soon after this Robinson had a long talk with the Spaniard, who told him how he and his comrades had been wrecked four years since, on that part of the coast where Friday's tribe lived. He said that they were well treated by the natives, but that they were put to very great straits now for want of clothes, that their powder was all finished, and that they had lost all hope of ever getting back to their own country. He himself, he said, had been captured in one of the many small wars that are always taking place among the various tribes.

It struck Robinson that it might be possible for him to get these men over to his island, provided that he could be sure of their good faith, and that when they came, they did not take the island from him by treachery. It was a risk, he thought, but then, if he got so many men, it would not be difficult to build a small ship that could carry them all to England.

So he asked the Spaniard if he would promise, and if he thought he could get his comrades to take an oath that, if Robinson helped them, they would look on him as their captain, and would swear to obey him in all things. The Spaniard readily promised for himself, and said that he was sure his comrades would keep faith.

It was arranged, therefore, that in about six months, when the next harvest was reaped, and there would be plenty of food for so many extra men, the Spaniard and Friday's father should go over to the mainland in one of the canoes which had been taken from the savages.

Meantime, all hands set about the curing of very large quantities of raisins, and much other work was done to be in readiness for the coming of these men.

When the harvest was reaped, Robinson gave the Spaniard and Friday's father each a musket and a supply of powder and bullets, and loaded the canoe with food, enough to last them and the others about a fortnight, and the two men set off for the mainland in fine weather, and with a fair wind.

It was about eight days after this, and when Robinson had begun to look out for their return, that one morning very early, when Robinson was asleep, Friday came running in, shouting, "Master! master! They come." Up jumped Robinson, and hurrying on his clothes, ran out.

Looking towards the sea, he soon made out a sailing-boat making for the shore, coming from the south end of the island, but still some miles away. This was not the direction from which the Spaniard and his comrades would come, nor were they likely to be in a sailing-boat. So Robinson took his telescope, and went to the top of the hill to see if he could make out who were on board, before they landed.



Hardly had he got on to the hill when he noticed a ship at anchor some distance from the shore. She looked like an English vessel, he thought, and the boat like an English long-boat.

This was a wonderful sight to Robinson, but yet he was not easy in his mind. It was not a part of the world where an English ship was likely to come, because in those days they were nearly all Spanish vessels that traded in these seas, and the English and Spaniards were bitter enemies. What could an English ship be doing here? There had been no storm to drive her out of her course.

Robinson feared that if she was English there must be something wrong about her. Perhaps, he thought, she was a Pirate. So he was careful not to show himself or Friday.

Presently, as he watched, he saw the men in the boat run her ashore and draw her up on the beach, about half a mile from his castle. When they had landed, he could easily see through his glass that they were Englishmen.

There were eleven men, but three of them had their hands tied behind their backs, and were evidently prisoners. When the first four or five men had jumped ashore, they brought out these three, all the while ill-treating them, and behaving as if they meant to kill their prisoners. Friday was sure that they meant to eat them.

Soon, without further harming the three men, the others scattered about amongst the trees near the shore, leaving the three sitting on the ground, very sad-looking, but with their hands now untied.

At the time the boat was run aground, it was just high-water, and the two sailors who had been left in charge of her, and who had evidently been drinking too much rum, went to sleep, and never noticed that the tide was going out. When they woke, the boat was high and dry, and with all the strength of the whole crew they could not move her, because the sand at that part of the beach was very soft. This did not seem to trouble any of them very much, for Robinson heard one of the sailors shout, "Let her alone, jack, can't ye? She'll float next tide."

All forenoon Robinson watched, and when the hottest time of the day had come, he noticed the sailors throw themselves down under the trees, and go to sleep, some distance away from the three prisoners.

Then Robinson and Friday, taking their muskets and pistols, stole down cautiously behind the three men, to try to speak to them without the others knowing.

Robinson had put on his goat-skin coat and the great hairy hat that he had made for himself; and with his cutlass and pistols in his belt, and a gun over each shoulder, he looked very fierce.

The men did not see him till he spoke, and they were so startled by his wild look, and by the sight of two men armed to the teeth, that they nearly ran away. But Robinson told them not to be alarmed; he was an Englishman, and a friend, and would help them if they would show him how it could be done.

Then they explained to him what had happened. One of the three was Captain of the ship that lay at anchor off the island. Of the others, one was mate of the ship, and the third man was a passenger. The crew had mutinied, the Captain told Robinson, and had put him and the other two in irons, and the ring-leaders in the mutiny had proposed to kill them. Now they meant to leave them on the island to perish.

The Captain was so astonished at finding anybody there who proposed to help him, that he said in his wonder: "Am I talking to a man, or to an angel from heaven?"

"If the Lord had sent an angel, sir," said Robinson, "he would probably have come better clothed."

Then he asked if the crew had any firearms, and was told that they had only two muskets, one of which was left in the boat. "The rest should be easy, then," Robinson said; "we can either kill them all, or take them prisoners, as we please."

The Captain was unwilling to see the men killed, for he said if two of the worst of them were got rid of, he believed the rest would return to their duty.

Robinson made a bargain that if he saved the Captain from the mutineers, and re-covered the ship, he and Friday were to be taken home to England in her, free of cost; and to this the Captain and the others agreed.

Then Robinson gave each of them a musket, with powder and ball, after which the Captain and the mate and the passenger marched towards the spot where the mutinous sailors lay asleep. One of the men heard them advance, and turning round, saw them, and cried out to his companions. But it was too late, the mate and the passenger fired, and one of the ring-leaders fell dead. A second man also fell, but jumped up immediately and called to the others to help him. But the Captain knocked him down with the butt of his musket, and the rest of the men, seeing Robinson and Friday coming, and knowing that they had no chance against five armed men, begged for mercy. Three others who had been straying about among the trees came back on hearing the shots, and were also taken, and thus the whole crew of the boat was captured.

The Captain and Robinson now began to think how they might recover the ship. There were on board, the Captain said, several men on whom he thought he could depend, and who had been forced by the others into the mutiny against their wills. But it would be no easy thing to retake the ship, for there were still twenty-six men on board, and as they were guilty of mutiny, all of them, if taken back to England, would most likely be hanged. Thus they were certain to make a fight for it.

The first thing that Robinson and the others now did was to take everything out of the boat,—oars, and mast, and sail, and rudder; then they knocked a hole in her bottom, so that she could not float. Whilst they were doing this, and drawing her still further up on the beach, they heard first one gun and then another fired by the ship as signals to the boat to return.

As she of course did not move, Robinson saw through his glass another boat with ten men on board, armed with muskets, leave the ship, coming to bring the others back.

This was serious enough, for now Robinson and his party had to make plans whereby they might capture also this fresh boat's crew.

Accordingly, they tied the hands of all the men they had first taken, and sent the worst of them to the cave under the charge of Friday and of one of the men that the Captain said was to be trusted, with orders to shoot any who tried to give an alarm or to escape. Then Robinson took his party and the rest of the prisoners into the castle, where, from the rock, they watched for the landing of the second boat.

The Captain and mate were very nervous, and despaired of taking this fresh body of men, but Robinson was quite confident of success, and put heart into them by his cheerfulness.

Of the prisoners in his castle, there were two whom the Captain believed to be honest men, and on their promising solemnly to keep faith, and to fight for him, Robinson released them.

The crew of the second boat, when they landed, were terribly surprised to find the first boat empty and stove in, and they were seen anxiously consulting what to do. Then they hallooed and fired volleys. Getting no reply, they were evidently alarmed, for they all jumped into their boat and began to pull off to the ship. In a few minutes, however, they seemed to change their minds, for again they landed, this time leaving three men in charge of the boat, and keeping her in the water.

The other seven came ashore, and started in a body across the island to look for their lost comrades. But they did not care to go far, and soon stopped, again firing volleys and hallooing. Getting again no reply, they began to march back to the sea. Whereupon Robinson ordered Friday and the mate to go over the creek to the west and halloo loudly, and wait till the sailors answered. Then Friday and the mate were to go further away and again halloo, thus gradually getting the men to follow them away from the shore.

This plan succeeded very well, for when the sailors, thinking they heard their missing friends hail, ran to find them, their way was stopped by the creek, over which they had to get the boat to carry them. They took with them, then, one of the three men whom they had left in the boat, and ordered the others to moor the boat to a tree, and remain there.

This was just what Robinson wanted. And, moreover, one of the men played still further into his hands, for he left the boat and lay down under a tree to sleep. On him the Captain rushed, and knocked him down as he tried to rise to his feet, whereupon the sailor left in the boat yielded, the more readily that he had joined the mutineers very unwillingly, and was now glad of the chance to rejoin his Captain.

Meantime Friday and the mate, by hallooing and answering, drew the rest of the boat's crew from hill to hill through the woods, till at last they had got them so far astray that it was not possible for them to find their way back before dark. When they did get back to where the boat had been left, and found the men whom they had left in her gone, they were in a terrible fright.

It was not difficult for Robinson and his men to surround them, and it chanced that the boatswain of the ship, who was the greatest villain of the lot, and the chief cause of all the trouble, walked in the darkness close to the Captain, who jumped up and shot him dead. The others then surrendered, believing what they were told, that they were surrounded by fifty armed men. All begged hard for their lives, and a few whom the Captain said he could trust were set at liberty on promising to help to retake the ship. The others were bound and put in the cave.

Robinson and Friday remained on shore to look after the prisoners, whilst the Captain and the mate and the passenger, with those of the crew who were trustworthy, having patched up the damaged boat, pulled off in her and the other to the ship, which they reached about midnight. When they were a short distance off, the Captain made one of the crew bail the ship and say that they had brought off the boat and the men they had gone in search of. Then both boats ran alongside at once, one on each side of the vessel, and before the mutineers knew what was happening they were overpowered, one or two of them being killed. Only one of the Captain's party was hurt, the mate, whose arm was broken by a musket-ball.

As soon as the ship was secured, the captain ordered seven guns to be fired, that being the signal he had agreed to make to let Robinson know if he succeeded in taking the ship.

Robinson's stay in the island had now come to an end, after more than twenty-eight years, for in a few days he and Friday sailed for England in the ship. Some of the mutineers were left on the island, and were afterwards joined by the Spaniard and his comrades, for whom Robinson left a letter.

Robinson did not forget, when he left, to take with him the money and gold bars he had got from the wreck of the Spanish ship, and he took also, as a memento, the goat-skin coat and the great hairy hat. But the Captain was able before the ship sailed to give him proper clothing, the wearing of which at first put him to dreadful discomfort.

The voyage was a long one, but they sighted the English coast at last.

It was thirty-five years since Robinson had set foot in England. And that morning, when at last, after the weary years of exile, he again saw his native land, he laid his head down on his arms and cried like a child.

And, may be, you too someday may know the joy of coming home, out of the land of bondage.