Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe
 

CHAPTER XX - FIGHT BETWEEN FRIDAY AND A BEAR


BUT never was a fight managed so hardily, and in such a surprising
manner as that which followed between Friday and the bear, which
gave us all, though at first we were surprised and afraid for him,
the greatest diversion imaginable. As the bear is a heavy, clumsy
creature, and does not gallop as the wolf does, who is swift and
light, so he has two particular qualities, which generally are the
rule of his actions; first, as to men, who are not his proper prey
(he does not usually attempt them, except they first attack him,
unless he be excessively hungry, which it is probable might now be
the case, the ground being covered with snow), if you do not meddle
with him, he will not meddle with you; but then you must take care
to be very civil to him, and give him the road, for he is a very
nice gentleman; he will not go a step out of his way for a prince;
nay, if you are really afraid, your best way is to look another way
and keep going on; for sometimes if you stop, and stand still, and
look steadfastly at him, he takes it for an affront; but if you
throw or toss anything at him, though it were but a bit of stick as
big as your finger, he thinks himself abused, and sets all other
business aside to pursue his revenge, and will have satisfaction in
point of honour - that is his first quality: the next is, if he be
once affronted, he will never leave you, night or day, till he has
his revenge, but follows at a good round rate till he overtakes
you.

My man Friday had delivered our guide, and when we came up to him
he was helping him off his horse, for the man was both hurt and
frightened, when on a sudden we espied the bear come out of the
wood; and a monstrous one it was, the biggest by far that ever I
saw. We were all a little surprised when we saw him; but when
Friday saw him, it was easy to see joy and courage in the fellow's
countenance. "O! O! O!" says Friday, three times, pointing to him;
"O master, you give me te leave, me shakee te hand with him; me
makee you good laugh."

I was surprised to see the fellow so well pleased. "You fool,"
says I, "he will eat you up." - "Eatee me up! eatee me up!" says
Friday, twice over again; "me eatee him up; me makee you good
laugh; you all stay here, me show you good laugh." So down he
sits, and gets off his boots in a moment, and puts on a pair of
pumps (as we call the flat shoes they wear, and which he had in his
pocket), gives my other servant his horse, and with his gun away he
flew, swift like the wind.

The bear was walking softly on, and offered to meddle with nobody,
till Friday coming pretty near, calls to him, as if the bear could
understand him. "Hark ye, hark ye," says Friday, "me speakee with
you." We followed at a distance, for now being down on the Gascony
side of the mountains, we were entered a vast forest, where the
country was plain and pretty open, though it had many trees in it
scattered here and there. Friday, who had, as we say, the heels of
the bear, came up with him quickly, and took up a great stone, and
threw it at him, and hit him just on the head, but did him no more
harm than if he had thrown it against a wall; but it answered
Friday's end, for the rogue was so void of fear that he did it
purely to make the bear follow him, and show us some laugh as he
called it. As soon as the bear felt the blow, and saw him, he
turns about and comes after him, taking very long strides, and
shuffling on at a strange rate, so as would have put a horse to a
middling gallop; away reins Friday, and takes his course as if he
ran towards us for help; so we all resolved to fire at once upon
the bear, and deliver my man; though I was angry at him for
bringing the bear back upon us, when he was going about his own
business another way; and especially I was angry that he had turned
the bear upon us, and then ran away; and I called out, "You dog! is
this your making us laugh? Come away, and take your horse, that we
may shoot the creature." He heard me, and cried out, "No shoot, no
shoot; stand still, and you get much laugh:" and as the nimble
creature ran two feet for the bear's one, he turned on a sudden on
one side of us, and seeing a great oak-tree fit for his purpose, he
beckoned to us to follow; and doubling his pace, he got nimbly up
the tree, laying his gun down upon the ground, at about five or six
yards from the bottom of the tree. The bear soon came to the tree,
and we followed at a distance: the first thing he did he stopped at
the gun, smelt at it, but let it lie, and up he scrambles into the
tree, climbing like a cat, though so monstrous heavy. I was amazed
at the folly, as I thought it, of my man, and could not for my life
see anything to laugh at, till seeing the bear get up the tree, we
all rode near to him.

When we came to the tree, there was Friday got out to the small end
of a large branch, and the bear got about half-way to him. As soon
as the bear got out to that part where the limb of the tree was
weaker, "Ha!" says he to us, "now you see me teachee the bear
dance:" so he began jumping and shaking the bough, at which the
bear began to totter, but stood still, and began to look behind
him, to see how he should get back; then, indeed, we did laugh
heartily. But Friday had not done with him by a great deal; when
seeing him stand still, he called out to him again, as if he had
supposed the bear could speak English, "What, you come no farther?
pray you come farther;" so he left jumping and shaking the tree;
and the bear, just as if he understood what he said, did come a
little farther; then he began jumping again, and the bear stopped
again. We thought now was a good time to knock him in the head,
and called to Friday to stand still and we should shoot the bear:
but he cried out earnestly, "Oh, pray! Oh, pray! no shoot, me
shoot by and then:" he would have said by-and-by. However, to
shorten the story, Friday danced so much, and the bear stood so
ticklish, that we had laughing enough, but still could not imagine
what the fellow would do: for first we thought he depended upon
shaking the bear off; and we found the bear was too cunning for
that too; for he would not go out far enough to be thrown down, but
clung fast with his great broad claws and feet, so that we could
not imagine what would be the end of it, and what the jest would be
at last. But Friday put us out of doubt quickly: for seeing the
bear cling fast to the bough, and that he would not be persuaded to
come any farther, "Well, well," says Friday, "you no come farther,
me go; you no come to me, me come to you;" and upon this he went
out to the smaller end, where it would bend with his weight, and
gently let himself down by it, sliding down the bough till he came
near enough to jump down on his feet, and away he ran to his gun,
took it up, and stood still. "Well," said I to him, "Friday, what
will you do now? Why don't you shoot him?" "No shoot," says
Friday, "no yet; me shoot now, me no kill; me stay, give you one
more laugh:" and, indeed, so he did; for when the bear saw his
enemy gone, he came back from the bough, where he stood, but did it
very cautiously, looking behind him every step, and coming backward
till he got into the body of the tree, then, with the same hinder
end foremost, he came down the tree, grasping it with his claws,
and moving one foot at a time, very leisurely. At this juncture,
and just before he could set his hind foot on the ground, Friday
stepped up close to him, clapped the muzzle of his piece into his
ear, and shot him dead. Then the rogue turned about to see if we
did not laugh; and when he saw we were pleased by our looks, he
began to laugh very loud. "So we kill bear in my country," says
Friday. "So you kill them?" says I; "why, you have no guns." -
"No," says he, "no gun, but shoot great much long arrow." This was
a good diversion to us; but we were still in a wild place, and our
guide very much hurt, and what to do we hardly knew; the howling of
wolves ran much in my head; and, indeed, except the noise I once
heard on the shore of Africa, of which I have said something
already, I never heard anything that filled me with so much horror.

These things, and the approach of night, called us off, or else, as
Friday would have had us, we should certainly have taken the skin
of this monstrous creature off, which was worth saving; but we had
near three leagues to go, and our guide hastened us; so we left
him, and went forward on our journey.

The ground was still covered with snow, though not so deep and
dangerous as on the mountains; and the ravenous creatures, as we
heard afterwards, were come down into the forest and plain country,
pressed by hunger, to seek for food, and had done a great deal of
mischief in the villages, where they surprised the country people,
killed a great many of their sheep and horses, and some people too.
We had one dangerous place to pass, and our guide told us if there
were more wolves in the country we should find them there; and this
was a small plain, surrounded with woods on every side, and a long,
narrow defile, or lane, which we were to pass to get through the
wood, and then we should come to the village where we were to
lodge. It was within half-an-hour of sunset when we entered the
wood, and a little after sunset when we came into the plain: we met
with nothing in the first wood, except that in a little plain
within the wood, which was not above two furlongs over, we saw five
great wolves cross the road, full speed, one after another, as if
they had been in chase of some prey, and had it in view; they took
no notice of us, and were gone out of sight in a few moments. Upon
this, our guide, who, by the way, was but a fainthearted fellow,
bid us keep in a ready posture, for he believed there were more
wolves a-coming. We kept our arms ready, and our eyes about us;
but we saw no more wolves till we came through that wood, which was
near half a league, and entered the plain. As soon as we came into
the plain, we had occasion enough to look about us. The first
object we met with was a dead horse; that is to say, a poor horse
which the wolves had killed, and at least a dozen of them at work,
we could not say eating him, but picking his bones rather; for they
had eaten up all the flesh before. We did not think fit to disturb
them at their feast, neither did they take much notice of us.
Friday would have let fly at them, but I would not suffer him by
any means; for I found we were like to have more business upon our
hands than we were aware of. We had not gone half over the plain
when we began to hear the wolves howl in the wood on our left in a
frightful manner, and presently after we saw about a hundred coming
on directly towards us, all in a body, and most of them in a line,
as regularly as an army drawn up by experienced officers. I scarce
knew in what manner to receive them, but found to draw ourselves in
a close line was the only way; so we formed in a moment; but that
we might not have too much interval, I ordered that only every
other man should fire, and that the others, who had not fired,
should stand ready to give them a second volley immediately, if
they continued to advance upon us; and then that those that had
fired at first should not pretend to load their fusees again, but
stand ready, every one with a pistol, for we were all armed with a
fusee and a pair of pistols each man; so we were, by this method,
able to fire six volleys, half of us at a time; however, at present
we had no necessity; for upon firing the first volley, the enemy
made a full stop, being terrified as well with the noise as with
the fire. Four of them being shot in the head, dropped; several
others were wounded, and went bleeding off, as we could see by the
snow. I found they stopped, but did not immediately retreat;
whereupon, remembering that I had been told that the fiercest
creatures were terrified at the voice of a man, I caused all the
company to halloo as loud as they could; and I found the notion not
altogether mistaken; for upon our shout they began to retire and
turn about. I then ordered a second volley to be fired in their
rear, which put them to the gallop, and away they went to the
woods. This gave us leisure to charge our pieces again; and that
we might lose no time, we kept going; but we had but little more
than loaded our fusees, and put ourselves in readiness, when we
heard a terrible noise in the same wood on our left, only that it
was farther onward, the same way we were to go.

The night was coming on, and the light began to be dusky, which
made it worse on our side; but the noise increasing, we could
easily perceive that it was the howling and yelling of those
hellish creatures; and on a sudden we perceived three troops of
wolves, one on our left, one behind us, and one in our front, so
that we seemed to be surrounded with them: however, as they did not
fall upon us, we kept our way forward, as fast as we could make our
horses go, which, the way being very rough, was only a good hard
trot. In this manner, we came in view of the entrance of a wood,
through which we were to pass, at the farther side of the plain;
but we were greatly surprised, when coming nearer the lane or pass,
we saw a confused number of wolves standing just at the entrance.
On a sudden, at another opening of the wood, we heard the noise of
a gun, and looking that way, out rushed a horse, with a saddle and
a bridle on him, flying like the wind, and sixteen or seventeen
wolves after him, full speed: the horse had the advantage of them;
but as we supposed that he could not hold it at that rate, we
doubted not but they would get up with him at last: no question but
they did.

But here we had a most horrible sight; for riding up to the
entrance where the horse came out, we found the carcasses of
another horse and of two men, devoured by the ravenous creatures;
and one of the men was no doubt the same whom we heard fire the
gun, for there lay a gun just by him fired off; but as to the man,
his head and the upper part of his body was eaten up. This filled
us with horror, and we knew not what course to take; but the
creatures resolved us soon, for they gathered about us presently,
in hopes of prey; and I verily believe there were three hundred of
them. It happened, very much to our advantage, that at the
entrance into the wood, but a little way from it, there lay some
large timber-trees, which had been cut down the summer before, and
I suppose lay there for carriage. I drew my little troop in among
those trees, and placing ourselves in a line behind one long tree,
I advised them all to alight, and keeping that tree before us for a
breastwork, to stand in a triangle, or three fronts, enclosing our
horses in the centre. We did so, and it was well we did; for never
was a more furious charge than the creatures made upon us in this
place. They came on with a growling kind of noise, and mounted the
piece of timber, which, as I said, was our breastwork, as if they
were only rushing upon their prey; and this fury of theirs, it
seems, was principally occasioned by their seeing our horses behind
us. I ordered our men to fire as before, every other man; and they
took their aim so sure that they killed several of the wolves at
the first volley; but there was a necessity to keep a continual
firing, for they came on like devils, those behind pushing on those
before.

When we had fired a second volley of our fusees, we thought they
stopped a little, and I hoped they would have gone off, but it was
but a moment, for others came forward again; so we fired two
volleys of our pistols; and I believe in these four firings we had
killed seventeen or eighteen of them, and lamed twice as many, yet
they came on again. I was loth to spend our shot too hastily; so I
called my servant, not my man Friday, for he was better employed,
for, with the greatest dexterity imaginable, he had charged my
fusee and his own while we were engaged - but, as I said, I called
my other man, and giving him a horn of powder, I had him lay a
train all along the piece of timber, and let it be a large train.
He did so, and had but just time to get away, when the wolves came
up to it, and some got upon it, when I, snapping an unchanged
pistol close to the powder, set it on fire; those that were upon
the timber were scorched with it, and six or seven of them fell; or
rather jumped in among us with the force and fright of the fire; we
despatched these in an instant, and the rest were so frightened
with the light, which the night - for it was now very near dark -
made more terrible that they drew back a little; upon which I
ordered our last pistols to be fired off in one volley, and after
that we gave a shout; upon this the wolves turned tail, and we
sallied immediately upon near twenty lame ones that we found
struggling on the ground, and fell to cutting them with our swords,
which answered our expectation, for the crying and howling they
made was better understood by their fellows; so that they all fled
and left us.

We had, first and last, killed about threescore of them, and had it
been daylight we had killed many more. The field of battle being
thus cleared, we made forward again, for we had still near a league
to go. We heard the ravenous creatures howl and yell in the woods
as we went several times, and sometimes we fancied we saw some of
them; but the snow dazzling our eyes, we were not certain. In
about an hour more we came to the town where we were to lodge,
which we found in a terrible fright and all in arms; for, it seems,
the night before the wolves and some bears had broken into the
village, and put them in such terror that they were obliged to keep
guard night and day, but especially in the night, to preserve their
cattle, and indeed their people.

The next morning our guide was so ill, and his limbs swelled so
much with the rankling of his two wounds, that he could go no
farther; so we were obliged to take a new guide here, and go to
Toulouse, where we found a warm climate, a fruitful, pleasant
country, and no snow, no wolves, nor anything like them; but when
we told our story at Toulouse, they told us it was nothing but what
was ordinary in the great forest at the foot of the mountains,
especially when the snow lay on the ground; but they inquired much
what kind of guide we had got who would venture to bring us that
way in such a severe season, and told us it was surprising we were
not all devoured. When we told them how we placed ourselves and
the horses in the middle, they blamed us exceedingly, and told us
it was fifty to one but we had been all destroyed, for it was the
sight of the horses which made the wolves so furious, seeing their
prey, and that at other times they are really afraid of a gun; but
being excessively hungry, and raging on that account, the eagerness
to come at the horses had made them senseless of danger, and that
if we had not by the continual fire, and at last by the stratagem
of the train of powder, mastered them, it had been great odds but
that we had been torn to pieces; whereas, had we been content to
have sat still on horseback, and fired as horsemen, they would not
have taken the horses so much for their own, when men were on their
backs, as otherwise; and withal, they told us that at last, if we
had stood altogether, and left our horses, they would have been so
eager to have devoured them, that we might have come off safe,
especially having our firearms in our hands, being so many in
number. For my part, I was never so sensible of danger in my
life; for, seeing above three hundred devils come roaring and open-
mouthed to devour us, and having nothing to shelter us or retreat
to, I gave myself over for lost; and, as it was, I believe I shall
never care to cross those mountains again: I think I would much
rather go a thousand leagues by sea, though I was sure to meet with
a storm once a-week.

I have nothing uncommon to take notice of in my passage through
France - nothing but what other travellers have given an account of
with much more advantage than I can. I travelled from Toulouse to
Paris, and without any considerable stay came to Calais, and landed
safe at Dover the 14th of January, after having had a severe cold
season to travel in.

I was now come to the centre of my travels, and had in a little
time all my new-discovered estate safe about me, the bills of
exchange which I brought with me having been currently paid.

My principal guide and privy-counsellor was my good ancient widow,
who, in gratitude for the money I had sent her, thought no pains
too much nor care too great to employ for me; and I trusted her so
entirely that I was perfectly easy as to the security of my
effects; and, indeed, I was very happy from the beginning, and now
to the end, in the unspotted integrity of this good gentlewoman.

And now, having resolved to dispose of my plantation in the
Brazils, I wrote to my old friend at Lisbon, who, having offered it
to the two merchants, the survivors of my trustees, who lived in
the Brazils, they accepted the offer, and remitted thirty-three
thousand pieces of eight to a correspondent of theirs at Lisbon to
pay for it.

In return, I signed the instrument of sale in the form which they
sent from Lisbon, and sent it to my old man, who sent me the bills
of exchange for thirty-two thousand eight hundred pieces of eight
for the estate, reserving the payment of one hundred moidores a
year to him (the old man) during his life, and fifty moidores
afterwards to his son for his life, which I had promised them, and
which the plantation was to make good as a rent-charge. And thus I
have given the first part of a life of fortune and adventure - a
life of Providence's chequer-work, and of a variety which the world
will seldom be able to show the like of; beginning foolishly, but
closing much more happily than any part of it ever gave me leave so
much as to hope for.

Any one would think that in this state of complicated good fortune
I was past running any more hazards - and so, indeed, I had been,
if other circumstances had concurred; but I was inured to a
wandering life, had no family, nor many relations; nor, however
rich, had I contracted fresh acquaintance; and though I had sold my
estate in the Brazils, yet I could not keep that country out of my
head, and had a great mind to be upon the wing again; especially I
could not resist the strong inclination I had to see my island, and
to know if the poor Spaniards were in being there. My true friend,
the widow, earnestly dissuaded me from it, and so far prevailed
with me, that for almost seven years she prevented my running
abroad, during which time I took my two nephews, the children of
one of my brothers, into my care; the eldest, having something of
his own, I bred up as a gentleman, and gave him a settlement of
some addition to his estate after my decease. The other I placed
with the captain of a ship; and after five years, finding him a
sensible, bold, enterprising young fellow, I put him into a good
ship, and sent him to sea; and this young fellow afterwards drew me
in, as old as I was, to further adventures myself.

In the meantime, I in part settled myself here; for, first of all,
I married, and that not either to my disadvantage or
dissatisfaction, and had three children, two sons and one daughter;
but my wife dying, and my nephew coming home with good success from
a voyage to Spain, my inclination to go abroad, and his
importunity, prevailed, and engaged me to go in his ship as a
private trader to the East Indies; this was in the year 1694.

In this voyage I visited my new colony in the island, saw my
successors the Spaniards, had the old story of their lives and of
the villains I left there; how at first they insulted the poor
Spaniards, how they afterwards agreed, disagreed, united,
separated, and how at last the Spaniards were obliged to use
violence with them; how they were subjected to the Spaniards, how
honestly the Spaniards used them - a history, if it were entered
into, as full of variety and wonderful accidents as my own part -
particularly, also, as to their battles with the Caribbeans, who
landed several times upon the island, and as to the improvement
they made upon the island itself, and how five of them made an
attempt upon the mainland, and brought away eleven men and five
women prisoners, by which, at my coming, I found about twenty young
children on the island.

Here I stayed about twenty days, left them supplies of all
necessary things, and particularly of arms, powder, shot, clothes,
tools, and two workmen, which I had brought from England with me,
viz. a carpenter and a smith.

Besides this, I shared the lands into parts with them, reserved to
myself the property of the whole, but gave them such parts
respectively as they agreed on; and having settled all things with
them, and engaged them not to leave the place, I left them there.

From thence I touched at the Brazils, from whence I sent a bark,
which I bought there, with more people to the island; and in it,
besides other supplies, I sent seven women, being such as I found
proper for service, or for wives to such as would take them. As to
the Englishmen, I promised to send them some women from England,
with a good cargo of necessaries, if they would apply themselves to
planting - which I afterwards could not perform. The fellows
proved very honest and diligent after they were mastered and had
their properties set apart for them. I sent them, also, from the
Brazils, five cows, three of them being big with calf, some sheep,
and some hogs, which when I came again were considerably increased.

But all these things, with an account how three hundred Caribbees
came and invaded them, and ruined their plantations, and how they
fought with that whole number twice, and were at first defeated,
and one of them killed; but at last, a storm destroying their
enemies' canoes, they famished or destroyed almost all the rest,
and renewed and recovered the possession of their plantation, and
still lived upon the island.

All these things, with some very surprising incidents in some new
adventures of my own, for ten years more, I shall give a farther
account of in the Second Part of my Story.


End of The Project Gutenberg e-text of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe


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