Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe
 

CHAPTER XI - FINDS PRINT OF MAN'S FOOT ON THE SAND


IT would have made a Stoic smile to have seen me and my little
family sit down to dinner. There was my majesty the prince and
lord of the whole island; I had the lives of all my subjects at my
absolute command; I could hang, draw, give liberty, and take it
away, and no rebels among all my subjects. Then, to see how like a
king I dined, too, all alone, attended by my servants! Poll, as if
he had been my favourite, was the only person permitted to talk to
me. My dog, who was now grown old and crazy, and had found no
species to multiply his kind upon, sat always at my right hand; and
two cats, one on one side of the table and one on the other,
expecting now and then a bit from my hand, as a mark of especial
favour.

But these were not the two cats which I brought on shore at first,
for they were both of them dead, and had been interred near my
habitation by my own hand; but one of them having multiplied by I
know not what kind of creature, these were two which I had
preserved tame; whereas the rest ran wild in the woods, and became
indeed troublesome to me at last, for they would often come into my
house, and plunder me too, till at last I was obliged to shoot
them, and did kill a great many; at length they left me. With this
attendance and in this plentiful manner I lived; neither could I be
said to want anything but society; and of that, some time after
this, I was likely to have too much.

I was something impatient, as I have observed, to have the use of
my boat, though very loath to run any more hazards; and therefore
sometimes I sat contriving ways to get her about the island, and at
other times I sat myself down contented enough without her. But I
had a strange uneasiness in my mind to go down to the point of the
island where, as I have said in my last ramble, I went up the hill
to see how the shore lay, and how the current set, that I might see
what I had to do: this inclination increased upon me every day, and
at length I resolved to travel thither by land, following the edge
of the shore. I did so; but had any one in England met such a man
as I was, it must either have frightened him, or raised a great
deal of laughter; and as I frequently stood still to look at
myself, I could not but smile at the notion of my travelling
through Yorkshire with such an equipage, and in such a dress. Be
pleased to take a sketch of my figure, as follows.

I had a great high shapeless cap, made of a goat's skin, with a
flap hanging down behind, as well to keep the sun from me as to
shoot the rain off from running into my neck, nothing being so
hurtful in these climates as the rain upon the flesh under the
clothes.

I had a short jacket of goat's skin, the skirts coming down to
about the middle of the thighs, and a pair of open-kneed breeches
of the same; the breeches were made of the skin of an old he-goat,
whose hair hung down such a length on either side that, like
pantaloons, it reached to the middle of my legs; stockings and
shoes I had none, but had made me a pair of somethings, I scarce
knew what to call them, like buskins, to flap over my legs, and
lace on either side like spatterdashes, but of a most barbarous
shape, as indeed were all the rest of my clothes..

I had on a broad belt of goat's skin dried, which I drew together
with two thongs of the same instead of buckles, and in a kind of a
frog on either side of this, instead of a sword and dagger, hung a
little saw and a hatchet, one on one side and one on the other. I
had another belt not so broad, and fastened in the same manner,
which hung over my shoulder, and at the end of it, under my left
arm, hung two pouches, both made of goat's skin too, in one of
which hung my powder, in the other my shot. At my back I carried
my basket, and on my shoulder my gun, and over my head a great
clumsy, ugly, goat's-skin umbrella, but which, after all, was the
most necessary thing I had about me next to my gun. As for my
face, the colour of it was really not so mulatto-like as one might
expect from a man not at all careful of it, and living within nine
or ten degrees of the equinox. My beard I had once suffered to
grow till it was about a quarter of a yard long; but as I had both
scissors and razors sufficient, I had cut it pretty short, except
what grew on my upper lip, which I had trimmed into a large pair of
Mahometan whiskers, such as I had seen worn by some Turks at
Sallee, for the Moors did not wear such, though the Turks did; of
these moustachios, or whiskers, I will not say they were long
enough to hang my hat upon them, but they were of a length and
shape monstrous enough, and such as in England would have passed
for frightful.

But all this is by-the-bye; for as to my figure, I had so few to
observe me that it was of no manner of consequence, so I say no
more of that. In this kind of dress I went my new journey, and was
out five or six days. I travelled first along the sea-shore,
directly to the place where I first brought my boat to an anchor to
get upon the rocks; and having no boat now to take care of, I went
over the land a nearer way to the same height that I was upon
before, when, looking forward to the points of the rocks which lay
out, and which I was obliged to double with my boat, as is said
above, I was surprised to see the sea all smooth and quiet - no
rippling, no motion, no current, any more there than in other
places. I was at a strange loss to understand this, and resolved
to spend some time in the observing it, to see if nothing from the
sets of the tide had occasioned it; but I was presently convinced
how it was - viz. that the tide of ebb setting from the west, and
joining with the current of waters from some great river on the
shore, must be the occasion of this current, and that, according as
the wind blew more forcibly from the west or from the north, this
current came nearer or went farther from the shore; for, waiting
thereabouts till evening, I went up to the rock again, and then the
tide of ebb being made, I plainly saw the current again as before,
only that it ran farther off, being near half a league from the
shore, whereas in my case it set close upon the shore, and hurried
me and my canoe along with it, which at another time it would not
have done.

This observation convinced me that I had nothing to do but to
observe the ebbing and the flowing of the tide, and I might very
easily bring my boat about the island again; but when I began to
think of putting it in practice, I had such terror upon my spirits
at the remembrance of the danger I had been in, that I could not
think of it again with any patience, but, on the contrary, I took
up another resolution, which was more safe, though more laborious -
and this was, that I would build, or rather make, me another
periagua or canoe, and so have one for one side of the island, and
one for the other..

You are to understand that now I had, as I may call it, two
plantations in the island - one my little fortification or tent,
with the wall about it, under the rock, with the cave behind me,
which by this time I had enlarged into several apartments or caves,
one within another. One of these, which was the driest and
largest, and had a door out beyond my wall or fortification - that
is to say, beyond where my wall joined to the rock - was all filled
up with the large earthen pots of which I have given an account,
and with fourteen or fifteen great baskets, which would hold five
or six bushels each, where I laid up my stores of provisions,
especially my corn, some in the ear, cut off short from the straw,
and the other rubbed out with my hand.

As for my wall, made, as before, with long stakes or piles, those
piles grew all like trees, and were by this time grown so big, and
spread so very much, that there was not the least appearance, to
any one's view, of any habitation behind them.

Near this dwelling of mine, but a little farther within the land,
and upon lower ground, lay my two pieces of corn land, which I kept
duly cultivated and sowed, and which duly yielded me their harvest
in its season; and whenever I had occasion for more corn, I had
more land adjoining as fit as that.

Besides this, I had my country seat, and I had now a tolerable
plantation there also; for, first, I had my little bower, as I
called it, which I kept in repair - that is to say, I kept the
hedge which encircled it in constantly fitted up to its usual
height, the ladder standing always in the inside. I kept the
trees, which at first were no more than stakes, but were now grown
very firm and tall, always cut, so that they might spread and grow
thick and wild, and make the more agreeable shade, which they did
effectually to my mind. In the middle of this I had my tent always
standing, being a piece of a sail spread over poles, set up for
that purpose, and which never wanted any repair or renewing; and
under this I had made me a squab or couch with the skins of the
creatures I had killed, and with other soft things, and a blanket
laid on them, such as belonged to our sea-bedding, which I had
saved; and a great watch-coat to cover me. And here, whenever I
had occasion to be absent from my chief seat, I took up my country
habitation.

Adjoining to this I had my enclosures for my cattle, that is to say
my goats, and I had taken an inconceivable deal of pains to fence
and enclose this ground. I was so anxious to see it kept entire,
lest the goats should break through, that I never left off till,
with infinite labour, I had stuck the outside of the hedge so full
of small stakes, and so near to one another, that it was rather a
pale than a hedge, and there was scarce room to put a hand through
between them; which afterwards, when those stakes grew, as they all
did in the next rainy season, made the enclosure strong like a
wall, indeed stronger than any wall.

This will testify for me that I was not idle, and that I spared no
pains to bring to pass whatever appeared necessary for my
comfortable support, for I considered the keeping up a breed of
tame creatures thus at my hand would be a living magazine of flesh,
milk, butter, and cheese for me as long as I lived in the place, if
it were to be forty years; and that keeping them in my reach
depended entirely upon my perfecting my enclosures to such a degree
that I might be sure of keeping them together; which by this
method, indeed, I so effectually secured, that when these little
stakes began to grow, I had planted them so very thick that I was
forced to pull some of them up again.

In this place also I had my grapes growing, which I principally
depended on for my winter store of raisins, and which I never
failed to preserve very carefully, as the best and most agreeable
dainty of my whole diet; and indeed they were not only agreeable,
but medicinal, wholesome, nourishing, and refreshing to the last
degree.

As this was also about half-way between my other habitation and the
place where I had laid up my boat, I generally stayed and lay here
in my way thither, for I used frequently to visit my boat; and I
kept all things about or belonging to her in very good order.
Sometimes I went out in her to divert myself, but no more hazardous
voyages would I go, scarcely ever above a stone's cast or two from
the shore, I was so apprehensive of being hurried out of my
knowledge again by the currents or winds, or any other accident.
But now I come to a new scene of my life. It happened one day,
about noon, going towards my boat, I was exceedingly surprised with
the print of a man's 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 round me, but I could
hear nothing, nor 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 foot - toes, heel, and every part of a foot.
How it came thither 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 whimsies 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.

I slept none that night; the farther I was from the occasion of my
fright, the greater my apprehensions were, which is something
contrary to the nature of such things, and especially to the usual
practice of all creatures in fear; but I was so embarrassed with my
own frightful ideas of the thing, that I formed nothing but dismal
imaginations to myself, even though I was now a great way off.
Sometimes I fancied it must be the devil, and reason joined in with
me in this supposition, for how should any other thing in human
shape come into the place? Where was the vessel that brought them?
What marks were there of any other footstep? And how was it
possible a man should come there? But then, to think that Satan
should take human shape upon him in such a place, where there could
be no manner of occasion for it, but to leave the print of his foot
behind him, and that even for no purpose too, for he could not be
sure I should see it - this was an amusement the other way. I
considered that the devil might have found out abundance of other
ways to have terrified me than this of the single print of a foot;
that as I lived quite on the other side of the island, he would
never have been so simple as to leave a mark in a place where it
was ten thousand to one whether I should ever see it or not, and in
the sand too, which the first surge of the sea, upon a high wind,
would have defaced entirely. All this seemed inconsistent with the
thing itself and with all the notions we usually entertain of the
subtlety of the devil.

Abundance of such things as these assisted to argue me out of all
apprehensions of its being the devil; and I presently concluded
then that it must be some more dangerous creature - viz. that it
must be some of the savages of the mainland opposite who had
wandered out to sea in their canoes, and either driven by the
currents or by contrary winds, had made the island, and had been on
shore, but were gone away again to sea; being as loath, perhaps, to
have stayed in this desolate island as I would have been to have
had them.

While these reflections were rolling in my mind, I was very
thankful in my thoughts that I was so happy as not to be
thereabouts at that time, or that they did not see my boat, by
which they would have concluded that some inhabitants had been in
the place, and perhaps have searched farther for me. Then terrible
thoughts racked my imagination about their having found out my
boat, and that there were people here; and that, if so, I should
certainly have them come again in greater numbers and devour me;
that if it should happen that they should not find me, yet they
would find my enclosure, destroy all my corn, and carry away all my
flock of tame goats, and I should perish at last for mere want.

Thus my fear banished all my religious hope, all that former
confidence in God, which was founded upon such wonderful experience
as I had had of His goodness; as if He that had fed me by miracle
hitherto could not preserve, by His power, the provision which He
had made for me by His goodness. I reproached myself with my
laziness, that would not sow any more corn one year than would just
serve me till the next season, as if no accident could intervene to
prevent my enjoying the crop that was upon the ground; and this I
thought so just a reproof, that I resolved for the future to have
two or three years' corn beforehand; so that, whatever might come,
I might not perish for want of bread.

How strange a chequer-work of Providence is the life of man! and by
what secret different springs are the affections hurried about, as
different circumstances present! To-day we love what to-morrow we
hate; to-day we seek what to-morrow we shun; to-day we desire what
to-morrow we fear, nay, even tremble at the apprehensions of. This
was exemplified in me, at this time, in the most lively manner
imaginable; for I, whose only affliction was that I seemed banished
from human society, that I was alone, circumscribed by the
boundless ocean, cut off from mankind, and condemned to what I call
silent life; that I was as one whom Heaven thought not worthy to be
numbered among the living, or to appear among the rest of His
creatures; that to have seen one of my own species would have
seemed to me a raising me from death to life, and the greatest
blessing that Heaven itself, next to the supreme blessing of
salvation, could bestow; I say, that I should now tremble at the
very apprehensions of seeing a man, and was ready to sink into the
ground at but the shadow or silent appearance of a man having set
his foot in the island.

Such is the uneven state of human life; and it afforded me a great
many curious speculations afterwards, when I had a little recovered
my first surprise. I considered that this was the station of life
the infinitely wise and good providence of God had determined for
me; that as I could not foresee what the ends of Divine wisdom
might be in all this, so I was not to dispute His sovereignty; who,
as I was His creature, had an undoubted right, by creation, to
govern and dispose of me absolutely as He thought fit; and who, as
I was a creature that had offended Him, had likewise a judicial
right to condemn me to what punishment He thought fit; and that it
was my part to submit to bear His indignation, because I had sinned
against Him. I then reflected, that as God, who was not only
righteous but omnipotent, had thought fit thus to punish and
afflict me, so He was able to deliver me: that if He did not think
fit to do so, it was my unquestioned duty to resign myself
absolutely and entirely to His will; and, on the other hand, it was
my duty also to hope in Him, pray to Him, and quietly to attend to
the dictates and directions of His daily providence,

These thoughts took me up many hours, days, nay, I may say weeks
and months: and one particular effect of my cogitations on this
occasion I cannot omit. One morning early, lying in my bed, and
filled with thoughts about my danger from the appearances of
savages, I found it discomposed me very much; upon which these
words of the Scripture came into my thoughts, "Call upon Me in the
day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify
Me." Upon this, rising cheerfully out of my bed, my heart was not
only comforted, but I was guided and encouraged to pray earnestly
to God for deliverance: when I had done praying I took up my Bible,
and opening it to read, the first words that presented to me were,
"Wait on the Lord, and be of good cheer, and He shall strengthen
thy heart; wait, I say, on the Lord." It is impossible to express
the comfort this gave me. In answer, I thankfully laid down the
book, and was no more sad, at least on that occasion.

In the middle of these cogitations, apprehensions, and reflections,
it came into my thoughts one day that all this might be a mere
chimera of my own, and that this foot might be the print of my own
foot, when I came on shore from my boat: this cheered me up a
little, too, and I began to persuade myself it was all a delusion;
that it was nothing else but my own foot; and why might I not come
that way from the boat, as well as I was going that way to the
boat? Again, I considered also that I could by no means tell for
certain where I had trod, and where I had not; and that if, at
last, this was only the print of my own foot, I had played the part
of those fools who try to make stories of spectres and apparitions,
and then are frightened at them more than anybody.

Now I began to take courage, and to peep abroad again, for I had
not stirred out of my castle for three days and nights, so that I
began to starve for provisions; for I had little or nothing within
doors but some barley-cakes and water; then I knew that my goats
wanted to be milked too, which usually was my evening diversion:
and the poor creatures were in great pain and inconvenience for
want of it; and, indeed, it almost spoiled some of them, and almost
dried up their milk. Encouraging myself, therefore, with the
belief that this was nothing but the print of one of my own feet,
and that I might be truly said to start at my own shadow, I began
to go abroad again, and went to my country house to milk my flock:
but to see with what fear I went forward, how often I looked behind
me, how I was ready every now and then to lay down my basket and
run for my life, it would have made any one have thought I was
haunted with an evil conscience, or that I had been lately most
terribly frightened; and so, indeed, I had. However, I went down
thus two or three days, and having seen nothing, I began to be a
little bolder, and to think there was really nothing in it but my
own imagination; but I could not persuade myself fully of this till
I should go down to the shore again, and see this print of a foot,
and measure it by my own, and see if there was any similitude or
fitness, that I might be assured it was my own foot: but when I
came to the place, first, it appeared evidently to me, that when I
laid up my boat I could not possibly be on shore anywhere
thereabouts; secondly, when I came to measure the mark with my own
foot, I found my foot not so large by a great deal. Both these
things filled my head with new imaginations, and gave me the
vapours again to the highest degree, so that I shook with cold like
one in an ague; and I went home again, filled with the belief that
some man or men had been on shore there; or, in short, that the
island was inhabited, and I might be surprised before I was aware;
and what course to take for my security I knew not.

Oh, what ridiculous resolutions men take when possessed with fear!
It deprives them of the use of those means which reason offers for
their relief. The first thing I proposed to myself was, to throw
down my enclosures, and turn all my tame cattle wild into the
woods, lest the enemy should find them, and then frequent the
island in prospect of the same or the like booty: then the simple
thing of digging up my two corn-fields, lest they should find such
a grain there, and still be prompted to frequent the island: then
to demolish my bower and tent, that they might not see any vestiges
of habitation, and be prompted to look farther, in order to find
out the persons inhabiting.

These were the subject of the first night's cogitations after I was
come home again, while the apprehensions which had so overrun my
mind were fresh upon me, and my head was full of vapours. Thus,
fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger
itself, when apparent to the eyes; and we find the burden of
anxiety greater, by much, than the evil which we are anxious about:
and what was worse than all this, I had not that relief in this
trouble that from the resignation I used to practise I hoped to
have. I looked, I thought, like Saul, who complained not only that
the Philistines were upon him, but that God had forsaken him; for I
did not now take due ways to compose my mind, by crying to God in
my distress, and resting upon His providence, as I had done before,
for my defence and deliverance; which, if I had done, I had at
least been more cheerfully supported under this new surprise, and
perhaps carried through it with more resolution.

This confusion of my thoughts kept me awake all night; but in the
morning I fell asleep; and having, by the amusement of my mind,
been as it were tired, and my spirits exhausted, I slept very
soundly, and waked much better composed than I had ever been
before. And now I began to think sedately; and, upon debate with
myself, I concluded that this island (which was so exceedingly
pleasant, fruitful, and no farther from the mainland than as I had
seen) was not so entirely abandoned as I might imagine; that
although there were no stated inhabitants who lived on the spot,
yet that there might sometimes come boats off from the shore, who,
either with design, or perhaps never but when they were driven by
cross winds, might come to this place; that I had lived there
fifteen years now and had not met with the least shadow or figure
of any people yet; and that, if at any time they should be driven
here, it was probable they went away again as soon as ever they
could, seeing they had never thought fit to fix here upon any
occasion; that the most I could suggest any danger from was from
any casual accidental landing of straggling people from the main,
who, as it was likely, if they were driven hither, were here
against their wills, so they made no stay here, but went off again
with all possible speed; seldom staying one night on shore, lest
they should not have the help of the tides and daylight back again;
and that, therefore, I had nothing to do but to consider of some
safe retreat, in case I should see any savages land upon the spot.

Now, I began sorely to repent that I had dug my cave so large as to
bring a door through again, which door, as I said, came out beyond
where my fortification joined to the rock: upon maturely
considering this, therefore, I resolved to draw me a second
fortification, in the manner of a semicircle, at a distance from my
wall, just where I had planted a double row of trees about twelve
years before, of which I made mention: these trees having been
planted so thick before, they wanted but few piles to be driven
between them, that they might be thicker and stronger, and my wall
would be soon finished. So that I had now a double wall; and my
outer wall was thickened with pieces of timber, old cables, and
everything I could think of, to make it strong; having in it seven
little holes, about as big as I might put my arm out at. In the
inside of this I thickened my wall to about ten feet thick with
continually bringing earth out of my cave, and laying it at the
foot of the wall, and walking upon it; and through the seven holes
I contrived to plant the muskets, of which I took notice that I had
got seven on shore out of the ship; these I planted like my cannon,
and fitted them into frames, that held them like a carriage, so
that I could fire all the seven guns in two minutes' time; this
wall I was many a weary month in finishing, and yet never thought
myself safe till it was done.

When this was done I stuck all the ground without my wall, for a
great length every way, as full with stakes or sticks of the osier-
like wood, which I found so apt to grow, as they could well stand;
insomuch that I believe I might set in near twenty thousand of
them, leaving a pretty large space between them and my wall, that I
might have room to see an enemy, and they might have no shelter
from the young trees, if they attempted to approach my outer wall.

Thus in two years' time I had a thick grove; and in five or six
years' time I had a wood before my dwelling, growing so monstrously
thick and strong that it was indeed perfectly impassable: and no
men, of what kind soever, could ever imagine that there was
anything beyond it, much less a habitation. As for the way which I
proposed to myself to go in and out (for I left no avenue), it was
by setting two ladders, one to a part of the rock which was low,
and then broke in, and left room to place another ladder upon that;
so when the two ladders were taken down no man living could come
down to me without doing himself mischief; and if they had come
down, they were still on the outside of my outer wall.

Thus I took all the measures human prudence could suggest for my
own preservation; and it will be seen at length that they were not
altogether without just reason; though I foresaw nothing at that
time more than my mere fear suggested to me.


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