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The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe Of York, Mariner, Vol. 1 by Daniel Defoe

Part 6 out of 6

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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 two or 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; indeed the horse had the heels 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 were 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 loath 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 bade 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 uncharged 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 dispatched 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 a 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 broke 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 Thoulouse, where we
found a warm climate, a fruitful pleasant country, and no snow, no
wolves, nor any thing like them: but when we told our story at
Thoulouse, 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 a 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 excessive 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 continued 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 all
together, and left our horses, they would have been so eager to have
devoured them, that we might have come off safe, especially having our
fire-arms in our hands, and 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 Thoulouse to Paris, and
without any considerable stay came to Calais, and landed safe at Dover,
the 14th of Jan. after having 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 very 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 with
every thing, 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 32,800 pieces-of-eight for the estate; reserving the
payment of 100 moidores a year to him (the old man) during his life, and
50 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 much
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
put out to a 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 farther adventures myself.

In the mean time, 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 whole 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; an
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 main land, 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 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 them 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 another volume.


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