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Robinson Crusoe for Children by  James Baldwin

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I WORK UNDER MANY DIFFICULTIES

[70] MY barley ripened and was ready to be harvested. I had neither scythe nor sickle to cut it down.

But you will member that I had two old swords which I had found in the ship.


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With one of the swords I cut off the heads of the barley and dropped them into a big basket I had made. I carried these heads into my cave and thrashed out the grain with my hands.

When all my harvesting was done, I measured the grain. I had two bushels of rice and two bushels and a half of barley.

This pleased me very much. I felt now that I should soon be able to raise grain enough for food.

[71] Have you ever thought how many things are necessary for the making of your bread?

You have nothing to do but eat the bread after others have made it. But I had to sow, to reap, to thrash, to grind, to sift, to mix, and to bake.

To do all these I needed many tools.

I had no plow to turn up the ground. I had no spade nor shovel with which to dig it. But with great labor I made me a wooden spade, which was better than nothing.

After the ground was turned up, I sowed the seed by scattering it with my hands. But it must be covered so it would grow, and I had no harrow. I cut down the branch of a tree, and dragged it over the field. This, I think, was the way that people in old times harrowed their ground.

The third thing to be done was to build a fence around my field. After that came the reaping, the curing, the carrying home, the thrashing, the parting of the grain from the chaff, the grinding.

I needed a mill to do the grinding. I needed a sieve to sift the flour. I needed yeast and salt to mix with the dough. I needed an oven to bake it.

I had to do without the most of these things. And this made my work very slow and hard.

[72] I was very lucky in having saved so many tools from the wreck, and for this I was indeed thankful. What a hard case I would have been in if I had saved nothing at all!

From time to time, as I felt the need of things I made a number of tools that served me very well. They were not such tools as you would buy at the store, but what did it matter?

I have already told you about the shovel which I made from a piece of hard wood. Next to the shovel I needed a pickax most of all.

Among the many things that I had saved from the wreck, I found an old crowbar. This I heated in the fire until it was almost white hot.

I then found that I could bend it quite easily. Little by little I shaped it until I had made quite a good pickax of it. Of course, it was heavy and not at all pretty. But who would look for beauty in a pickax?

I at first felt the need of some light baskets in which to carry my fruit and grain. So I began to study how baskets are made.

It was not until I had searched almost every nook on the island that I found some long slender twigs that would bend to make wicker ware. Then I [73] spent many an hour learning how to weave these twigs together and shape them into the form of a basket.

In the end, however, I was able to make as good baskets as were ever bought in the market.

I had quite a goodly number of edge tools. Among these there were three large axes and a great store of hatchets; for you will remember that we carried hatchets to trade with the savages. I had also many knives.

But all these became very dull with use. I had saved a grindstone from the wreck, but I could not turn it and grind my tools at the same time.

I studied hard to overcome this difficulty. At last, I managed to fasten a string to the crank of the grindstone in such a way that I could turn it with my foot.

My tools were soon sharp, and I kept them so.


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