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Robinson Crusoe for Children by  James Baldwin


 

 

I MAKE A NEW BOAT

[152] I MADE up my mind to begin the new boat at once.

So, the next day, I went with Friday to find a good tree.

There were trees enough on the island to build a fleet. But, I must find one that was close to the water, so that we could launch the boat when it was made.


[Illustration]

At last Friday found one. He knew, better than I, what kind of wood was best for making a boat.

It was an odd-looking tree, and to this day I do not know its name.

Friday chopped it down. He cut off a part of it for the boat.

He wished to build a fire on the top of it and thus burn out the hollow part of the boat.

But I showed him a better way, to chop it out with hatchets and chisels.

[153] In about a month it was finished. With our axes we cut and hewed the outside till it was in a very good shape.

Then we worked hard for two weeks to get the boat into the water.

But when she was in, how well she floated! She would have carried at least twenty men.

It was wonderful how well Friday could manage her. It was wonderful how fast he could paddle.

"Now, Friday," I said, "do you think she will carry us over the sea?"

"Yes, master," he said, "she will carry us even in the worst wind."

My next care was to make a mast and a sail, and to fit the boat with an anchor and a rudder.

It was easy enough to get the mast. I had Friday cut down a tall young cedar that grew near the place.

He shaped it and smoothed it, and made as pretty a mast as you would wish to see.

As for the sail, that was another thing. I had old sails, or pieces of old sails in plenty.

But they had been lying in this place and in that for six and twenty years. It would be a wonder if they were not all rotten.

[154] After a long search I found two pieces which I thought would do. I set to work, patching and stitching.

It was slow work without needles, you may be sure.

At last I had a three-cornered, ugly thing like a shoulder-of-mutton sail to be put up with a boom at its bottom part.

I had also a little short sprit to run up at the top of the mast.

It took two months to make the sails and the rigging as I wished.

Then I put in a rudder to steer the boat. I was a poor carpenter, and I made a pretty rough job of it.

Friday knew how to paddle a canoe as well as any man.

But he knew nothing about a sail. He had never seen a boat steered by a rudder.

We made several little voyages near the island and I taught him how to manage everything about the boat.

Much as I wished to go back to my own people, I could not make up my mind to try the long voyage across to the mainland.

[155] I had now been on the island twenty-seven years. My man Friday had been with me about two years, and these had been the happiest of my life. I had everything to make me comfortable and happy.

Why should I wish to go away?

I had a great longing to see my native land again, to talk with people of my own race, perhaps to visit my kindred once more. This longing I could not rid myself of, day or night.

But now new thoughts came into mind. I felt that in some way I would soon escape from the island. Indeed, I was quite sure that I would not stay there another year.

I cannot tell you what made me feel that way. But I seemed to know that some great change in my life was near at hand.

Yet I went on with my farming as before. I dug, I planted, I reaped, I gathered my grapes, I did everything just as though I had no such thoughts.

My man Friday was the truest of helpers. He did all the heavy labor. He would not let me lift my hand if he could help it.

The rainy season at last came upon us, and this put an end to most of our outdoor work.

[156] We took our new boat to a safe place some distance up the little river, above the point where I had landed my rafts from the ship.

We hauled her up to the shore at high-water mark, and there Friday dug a little dock for her.

This dock was just big enough to hold her and it was just deep enough to give her water to float in.

When the tide was out we made a strong dam across the end of it, to keep the water out. Thus she lay high and dry on the bank of the river.

To keep the rain off we laid a great many branches of trees upon her till she was covered thickly with them. A thatched roof could not have protected her better.

Little did I think that I should never see our boat floating upon the water again. For all that I know, she is still lying high and dry in her little waterproof dock.

We were now kept indoors a great part of the time, but we kept ourselves occupied pleasantly, and the hours passed swiftly.

My first duty every morning was to read several chapters from the Bible. Then I instructed Friday in some of the truths of religion.

[157] I was but an awkward teacher, but I did my best and was honest.

I began by asking him about the Creator.

I asked him who made the sea, the hills, the woods, the ground we walked on.

He told me it was one great being who lived beyond all.

I confess I could not have given a better answer.

He said that this great being was older than the sea or the land, the moon or the stars.

Then I said, "If this being has made all things, why do not all things worship him?"

He looked very grave, and with eyes full of innocence, answered, "All things say O to him."

Thus he taught me while I was trying to teach him.


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