scholars and rogues

When I walked it was broad day…

by Dawn Farmer

I discovered a wonderful treasure at the beach yesterday – an imaginary shipwreck. I walked around the shipwreck and thought of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

When I wak’d it was broad Day, the Weather clear, and the Storm abated, so that the Sea did not rage and swell as before: But that which surpris’d me most, was, that the Ship was lifted off in the Night from the Sand where she lay, by the Swelling of the Tyde, and was driven up almost as far as the Rock which I first mention’d, where I had been so bruis’d by the dashing me against it; this being within about a Mile from the Shore where I was, and the Ship seeming to stand upright still, I wish’d my self on board, that, at least, I might save some necessary things for my use.

When I came down from my Appartment in the Tree, I look’d about me again, and the first thing I found was the Boat, which lay as the Wind and the Sea had toss’d her up upon the Land, about two Miles on my right Hand. I walk’d as far as I could upon the Shore to have got to her, but found a Neck or Inlet of Water between me and the Boat, which was about half a Mile broad, so I came back for the present, being more intent upon getting at the Ship, where I hop’d to find something for my present Subsistence.

It was in vain to sit still and wish for what was not to be had, and this Extremity rouz’d my Application; we had several spare Yards, and two or three large sparrs of Wood, and a spare Top-mast or two in the Ship; I resolv’d to fall to work with these, and I flung as many of them over board as I could manage for their Weight, tying every one with a Rope that they might not drive away; when this was done I went down the Ship’s Side, and pulling them to me, I ty’d four of them fast together at both Ends as well as I could, in the Form of a Raft, and laying two or three short Pieces of Plank upon them cross-ways, I found I could walk upon it very well, but that it was not able to bear any great Weight, the Pieces being too light; so I went to work, and with the Carpenter’s Saw I cut a spare Top-mast into three Lengths, and added them to my Raft, with a great deal of Labour and Pains, but hope of furnishing my self with Necessaries, encourag’d me to go beyond what I should have been able to have done upon another Occasion.

Before I set up my Tent, I drew a half Circle before the hollow Place, which took in about Ten Yards in its Semi-diameter from the Rock, and Twenty Yards in its Diameter, from its Beginning and Ending.

In this half Circle I pitch’d two Rows of strong Stakes, driving them into the Ground till they stood very firm like Piles, the biggest End being out of the Ground about Five Foot and a Half, and sharpen’d on the Top: The two Rows did not stand above Six Inches from one another.

Then I took the Pieces of Cable which I had cut in the Ship, and I laid them in Rows one upon another, within the Circle, between these two Rows of Stakes, up to the Top, placing other Stakes in the In-side, leaning against them, about two Foot and a half high, like a Spurr to a Post, and this Fence was so strong, that neither Man or Beast could get into it or over it: This cost me a great deal of Time and Labour, especially to cut the Piles in the Woods, bring them to the Place, and drive them into the Earth.
The Entrance into this Place I made to be not by a Door, but by a short Ladder to go over the Top, which Ladder, when I was in, I lifted over after me, and so I was compleatly fenc’d in, and fortify’d, as I thought, from all the World, and consequently slept secure in the Night, which otherwise I could not have done, tho’, as it appear’d afterward, there was no need of all this Caution from the Enemies that I apprehended Danger from.

Text from Chapter Five of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – entire story on-line here.

Categories: scholars and rogues