Imágenes de páginas

any other footsteps ? 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 amazement 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 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 an high wind would have defaced entirely. All this seemed inconsistent with the thing itself, and with all 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


of the mainland over against me, 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 staid in this desolate island, as I would have been to have had them.

While these reflections were rolling upon my mind, I was very thankful in my thought, 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 further for me. Then terrible thoughts racked my imaginations about their having found 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 so that they should not find me, yet they would find my inclosure, destroy all my corn, carry away all my stock 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, now vanished; as if he that had fed me by a miracle hitherto, could not preserve by his power the provision which he had made for me by his goodness. I reproached myself with my easiness, that would not sow any more corn one year than would just serve me until 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 differing springs are the affections hurried about, as differing circumstances present! To-day we love what to-morrow we hate ; to-day we seek what tomorrow we shun; to-day we desire what tomorrow 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 a 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 apprehension of seeing a man, and was ready to sink into the ground at but the shadow or silent appearance of a man's having set his foot on the island.


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 not I 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 ccrtain 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 strive to make stories of spectres and apparitions, and then are themselves frighted at them more than anybody else.

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 provision; 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.

Heartening myself therefore with the belief that this

should go

was nothing but the print of one of my own feet (and so 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. Bat 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 frighted; and so indeed I had.

However, as 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

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 iny 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 any where thereabouts; secondly, when I came to measure the mark with my own foot, I found my foot not so long 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 a 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.

About a year and a half after I had entertained these notions, and by long musing had, as it were, resolved them all into nothing, I was surprised one morning early with seeing no less than five canoes all on shore together, on my side the island, and the people who belonged to them all

landed and out of my sight. The number of them broke all my measures; for seeing so many, and knowing that they always came four or six or sometimes more in a boat, I could not tell what to think of it, or how to take my measures, to attack twenty or thirty men single-handed; so I lay still in my castle, perplexed and discomforted; hewever, I put myself into all the same postures for an attack that I had formerly provided, and was just ready for action, if anything had presented itself, having waited a good while listening to hear if they made any noise. At length, being very impatient, I set my guns at the foot of my ladder, and clambered up to the top of the hill by my two stages as usual; standing so, however, that my head did not appear above the hill: so that they could not perceive me by any means. Here I observed, by the help of my perspective glass, that there were no less than thirty in number, that they had a fire kindled, and that they had meat dressed; how they cooked it, that I knew not, or what it was; but they were all dancing in I know not how many barbarous gestures and figures, their own way, round the fire.

When I was thus looking on them, I perceived by my perspective two miserable wretches dragged from the boats, where it seems they were laid by, and were now brought out for the slaughter. I perceived one of them immediately fall, being knocked down, I suppose, with a club or wooden sword, for that was their way; and two or three others were at work immediately, cutting him open for their cookery, while the other victim was left standing by himself till they should be ready for him. In that very moment, this poor wretch seeing himself a little at liberty, nature inspired him with hopes of life, and he started away from them, and ran along the sands with incredible swift

« AnteriorContinuar »