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Robinson Crusoe for Children by  James Baldwin

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I AM CALLED GOVERNOR

[172] BY my orders, Friday and the captain's mate hurried through the woods to the little river where I had landed so long ago with my rafts.

When they had reached the place, they shouted as loudly as they could.


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The men who were just getting into the boat heard them. They answered, and ran along the shore toward the little river.

The three who had been left in the boat also rowed around toward the same place. Near the mouth of the river, however, they came to land again, and one of them ran along the bank of the stream to meet his fellows.

[173] At this moment I rushed forward with the captain, and seized the boat before the two fellows who were in it could save themselves.

It was now almost dark, and we had nothing to do but wait till the seamen came back to the shore to look for their boat.

Soon Friday and the captain's mate rejoined us, and I stood at the head of my little army, listening to the seamen as they made their way through the bushes.

We could hear them calling to one another. We could hear them telling how lame and tired they were. We could hear them saying that they were in an enchanted island where there were witches and other kinds of uncanny things. All this pleased us very much.

By and by they came to the shore, quite close to where we were standing.

One of the men whom they had left in the boat was standing with us. He was one of the honest men whom the captain had pointed out, and he had joined us very gladly.

By my orders he now cried out, "Tom Smith! Tom Smith!" For that was the name of the leader of the company.

[174] Tom Smith answered at once, "Is that you, Robinson?" for he knew the voice.

"Yes," the other answered, "and for God's sake, Tom Smith, throw down your arms and yield, or you will all be dead men the next minute."

"To whom must we yield?" cried Tom Smith. "Where are they?"

"Here they are," was the answer. "Here's our captain at the head of a whole army of fighting men. The boatswain is dead, and Bill Fry is dead, and all the rest of us are prisoners. If you don't yield, you are lost."

"If they'll give us quarters, we'll yield," said Smith.

Then the captain himself spoke up. "You, Smith," he said, "you know my voice. If you lay down your arms at once, you shall have your lives—all but Will Atkins."

Upon this, Will Atkins cried out: "For God's sake, Captain, give me quarter! What have I done? I have been no worse than the rest."

Now this was not true. For it was Will Atkins who had first laid hold of the captain, and it was he who had tied the captain's hands.

"Nay, Will Atkins," said the captain. "You [175] know what you have done, and I can promise you nothing. You must lay down your arms and trust to the governor's mercy."

By "the governor" he meant me, Robinson Crusoe—for they called me governor.

The upshot of the whole matter was that they all laid down their arms and begged for their lives.

Then I sent three of my men to bind them with strong cords, which they did, much to my joy.

After that I sent my great army of fifty  men—which, after all, were only five besides the three who already had them in charge—to lead them to prison.

I told the captain that it would be better to put some of our prisoners in one place and some in another, as then they would be less likely to try to escape.

He and Friday therefore took Atkins with two others who were the worst to my cave in the woods. It was a dismal place, but very safe. There the rough fellows were left with their hands and feet tied fast, and the door blocked up with a huge stone.

[176] Late as it was, I sent the rest of them to my bower. As they also were bound, and as the place was fenced in and was very strong, they were quite safe there.

They were all much frightened. For they believed that the island was inhabited by Englishmen, and that the governor had really a large army. They felt that the better they behaved the safer they would be.

The captain went out to talk with them.

"My men," he said, "you all know what a great crime you have committed. You are now in the power of the governor of this island. He will send you to England. There you will be tried, and you will be hanged in chains."

At these words they turned pale and groaned. For they were but young men and had been led into this by the four or five ruffians who were the ringleaders.

"Now, my men," the captain went on, "you know that I have always been kind to you."

"Certainly you have," said Tom Smith.

"Aye, aye!" cried all the rest.

"Well, then," said the captain, "it grieves my heart to see you in this hard case. The ship, as [177] you know, still lies at anchor off the shore. It is still held by some of the ruffians who brought this trouble upon us. If I should persuade the governor to set you free, what say you? Would you help me retake the ship?"

"Aye, aye!" they all cried. "We would stand by you to the end, for we should then owe our lives, to you."

"Well, then," said the captain, "I will see what I can do. I will go and talk with the governor."

The matter was soon arranged.

The captain was to choose five of those he thought would be most faithful. These were to help him retake the ship. But the rest were to stay in prison as hostages.

If the five behaved themselves well, then all were to be set free. If they did not behave, then all were to be put to death.

These were the governor's orders.

It was then agreed that the captain, with all the men he could trust, should go out to the ship. I and my man Friday were to stay on shore to watch the prisoners.

The hole in the bottom of the long boat was soon mended. Four men, with the passenger as their [178] leader, went out in this. The captain, with five men, went out in the other boat.

It was after midnight when they reached the ship.

The men on board were taken by surprise, for they thought that these were their friends who were but just then returning to the ship.

They even threw a rope to them and helped them on board, never suspecting that anything was wrong.

The whole business was managed well. The second mate and the carpenter, who were among the leaders in the plot, were soon overpowered.

The rebel captain, the worst of the crew, was asleep in his berth. He sprang up and showed fight. He shot three times at the captain's party, wounding the mate but touching no one else.

The mate, wounded as he was, raised his musket and fired. The rebel captain fell to the deck with a bullet through his head.

The rest, seeing that they were without leaders, fell upon their knees and begged for their lives.

Thus the captain became again the master of his own ship.


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