Infomotions, Inc.The Solitary of Juan Fernandez, or the Real Robinson Crusoe / Saintine, Joseph Xavier, 1798-1865

Author: Saintine, Joseph Xavier, 1798-1865
Title: The Solitary of Juan Fernandez, or the Real Robinson Crusoe
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): selkirk; marimonda; stradling; catherine; juan fernandez; captain stradling; william dampier; island; royal salmon; price cents; alexander selkirk
Contributor(s): Rittenhouse, Jessie Belle, 1869-1948 [Editor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 39,872 words (really short) Grade range: 11-13 (high school) Readability score: 56 (average)
Identifier: etext11441
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Title: The Solitary of Juan Fernandez, or The Real Robinson Crusoe

Author: Joseph Xavier Saintine

Release Date: March 4, 2004 [EBook #11441]

Language: English

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The Royal Salmon.--Pretty Kitty.--Captain Stradling.--William Dampier.
--Reveries and Caprices of Miss Catherine.


Alexander Selkirk.--The College.--First Love.--Eight Years of Absence.
--Maritime Combats.--Return and Departure.--The Swordfish.


The Tour of the World.--The Way to manufacture Negroes.--California.
--The Eldorado.--Revolt of Selkirk.--The Log-Book.--Degradation.
--A Free Shore.


Inspection of the Country.--Marimonda.--A City seen through the Fog.
--The Sea every where.--Dialogue with a Toucan.--The first Shot.
--Declaration of War.--Vengeance.--A Terrestrial Paradise.


Labors of the Colonist.--His Study.--Fishing.--Administration.
--Selkirk Island.--The New Prometheus.--What is wanting to Happiness.
--Encounter with Marimonda.--Monologue.


The Hammock.--Poison.--Success.--A Calm under the Tropics.--Invasion
of the Island.--War and Plunder.--The Oasis.--The Spy-Glass.


A Tete-a-tete.--The Monkey's Goblet.--The Palace.--A Removal.--Winter
under the Tropics--Plans for the Future.--Property.--A burst of
Laughter.--Misfortune not far off.


A New Invasion.--Selkirk joyfully meets an ancient Enemy.--Combat on
a Red Cedar.--A Mother and her Little Ones.--The Flock.--Fete in the
Island; Pacific Combats, Diversions and Swings.--A Sail.--The Burning
Wood.--Presentiments of Marimonda.


The Precipice.--A Dungeon in a Desert Island.--Resignation.--The passing
Bird.--The browsing Goat.--The bending Tree.--Attempts at Deliverance.
--Success.--Death of Marimonda.


Discouragement.--A Discovery.--A Retrospective Glance.--Project of
Suicide.--The Last Shot.--The Sea Serpent.--The _Porro_.
--A Message.--Another Solitary.


The Island of San Ambrosio.--Selkirk at last knows what Friendship is.
--The Raft.--Visits to the Tomb of Marimonda.--The Departure.--The two
Islands.--Shipwreck.--The Port of Safety.


The Island of Juan Fernandez.--Encounter in the Mountains.--Discussion.
--A New Captivity.--Cannon-shot.--Dampier and Selkirk.--_Mas a Fuera_.
--News of Stradling.--Confidences.--End of the History of the real
Robinson Crusoe.--Nebuchadnezzar.


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The Royal Salmon.--Pretty Kitty.--Captain Stradling.--William Dampier.
--Reveries and Caprices of Miss Catherine.

About the commencement of the last century, the little town of St.
Andrew, the capital of the county of Fife, in Scotland, celebrated
then for its University, was not less so for its Inn, the Royal
Salmon, which, built in 1681 by a certain Andrew Felton, had descended
as an inheritance to his only daughter, Catherine.

This young lady, known throughout the neighborhood under the name of
pretty Kitty, had contributed not a little, by her personal charms,
to the success and popularity of the inn. In her early youth, she had
been a lively and piquant brunette, with black, glossy hair, combed
over a smooth and prominent forehead, and dark, brilliant eyes, a
style of beauty much in vogue at that period. Though tall and slender
in stature, she was, as our ancestors would have said, sufficiently
_en bon point_. In fine, Kitty merited her surname, and more than one
laird in the neighborhood, more than one great nobleman even,--thanks
to the familiarity which reigned among the different classes in
Scotland,--had figured occasionally among her customers, caring as
little what people might say as did the brave Duke of Argyle, whom
Walter Scott has shown as conversing familiarly with his snuff

At present Catherine Felton is in her second youth. By a process
common enough, but which at first appears contradictory, her
attractions have diminished as they developed; her waist has grown
thicker, the roses on her cheek assumed a deeper vermilion, her voice
has acquired the rough and hoarse tone of her most faithful customers;
the slender young girl is transformed into a virago. Fortunately for
her, at the commencement of the eighteenth century, and especially
in Scotland, reputations did not vanish as readily as in our days.
Notwithstanding her increasing size and coarser voice, Catherine still
remained pretty Kitty, especially in the eyes of those to whom she
gave the largest credit.

Besides, if from year to year her beauty waned, a circumstance which
might tend to diminish the attractions of her establishment, like a
prudent woman she took care that her stock of ale and usquebaugh
should also from year to year improve in quality, to preserve the

Undoubtedly the visits of lairds and great noblemen at her bar were
less frequent than formerly, but all the trades-people in town, all
the sailors in port, from the Gulf of Tay to the Gulf of Forth, still
patronized the pretty landlady.

Meanwhile Catherine was not yet married. The gossips of the town were
surprised, because she was rich and suitors were plenty; they
fluttered around her constantly in great numbers, especially when
somewhat exhilarated with wine. When their gallantry became obtrusive,
Kitty was careful not to grow angry; she would smile, and lift up her
white hand, tolerably heavy, till the offenders came to order.
Catherine possessed in the highest degree the art of restraining
without discouraging them, and always so as to forward the interests
of her establishment.

To maintain the discipline of the tavern, nevertheless, the presence
of a man was desirable; she understood this. Besides, the condition of
an old maid did not seem to her at all inviting, and she did not care
to wait the epoch of a third youth, before making a choice. But what
would the unsuccessful candidates say? Would not this decision be at
the risk of kindling a civil war, of provoking perhaps a general
desertion? Then, too, accustomed as she was to command, the idea of
giving herself a master alarmed her.

She was vacillating amid all these perplexities, when a certain
sailor, with cold and reserved manners, whose face bore the mark of
a deep sabre cut, and who had for some time past, frequented her inn
with great assiduity, without ever having addressed to her a single
word, took her aside one fine morning and said:

'Listen to me, Kate, and do not reply hastily. I came here, not like
many others, attracted by your beautiful eyes, but because I wished
to obtain recruits for an approaching voyage which I expected to
undertake at my own risk and peril. I do not know how it has happened,
but I now think less about sailing; I seem to be stumbling over roots.
Right or wrong, I imagine that a good little wife, who will fill my
glass while I am tranquilly smoking my pipe before a blazing fire, may
have as many charms as the best brig in which one may sometimes perish
with hunger and thirst. Right or wrong, I imagine to myself again that
the prattle of two or three little monkeys around me, may be as
agreeable as the sound of the wind howling through the masts, or of
Spanish balls whistling about one's ears. All this, Kate, signifies
that I mean to marry; and who do you suppose has put this pretty whim
into my head? who, but yourself?'

Catherine uttered an exclamation of surprise, perfectly sincere, for
if she had expected a declaration, it was certainly not from this

'Do not reply to me yet,' hastily resumed the sailor; 'he who
pronounces his decree before he has heard the pleader and maturely
reflected on the case, is a poor judge. To continue then. You are no
longer a child, Kate, and I am no longer a young man; you are
approaching thirty----'

At these words the pretty Kitty made a gesture of surprise and of

'Do not reply to me!' repeated the pitiless sailor. 'You are thirty!
I have already passed another barrier, but not long since. We are
of suitable age for each other. The man should always have traversed
the road before his companion. You are active and genteel; that does
very well for women. You have always been an honest girl, that is
better still. As for me, my skin is not so white as yours, but it is
the fault of a tropic sun. It is possible that I may be a little
disfigured by the scar on my cheek; but of this scar I am proud; I had
the honor of receiving it, while boarding a vessel, from the hand of
the celebrated Jean Bart, who, after having on that occasion lost a
fine opportunity of being honorably killed, has just suffered himself
to die of a stupid pleurisy; but it is not of him but of myself that
we are now to speak. After having fought with Jean Bart, I have made a
voyage with our not less celebrated William Dampier, whom I may dare
call my friend. You may therefore understand, Kate, that if you have
the reputation of an honest girl, I have that of a good sailor. The
name of Captain Stradling is favorably known upon two oceans, and it
will be to your credit, if ever, with your arm linked in mine, we walk
as man and wife, through any port of England or Scotland. I have said.
Now, look, reflect; if my proposition suits you, I will settle for
life on _terra firma_, and bid adieu to the sea; if not, I resume my
projected expedition, and it will be to you, Kate, that I shall say

Catherine opened her mouth to thank him, as was suitable, for his good

'Do not reply to me!' interrupted he again; 'in three days I will come
to receive your decision.'

And he went out, leaving her amazed at having listened to so long a
speech from one, who until then, seated motionless in a distant corner
of the room, had always appeared to her the most rigid and silent of

That very day Catherine has come to a decision concerning the captain;
she thinks him ugly and disagreeable, coarse and ignorant; he has
dared to tell her that she is thirty years old, and she will hardly be
so at St. Valentine's Day, which is six weeks ahead, at least. Besides
the scar which he has received from the celebrated Jean Bart, his
countenance has no beauty to boast of: his face is long and pale, his
temples are furrowed with wrinkles, and his lips thick and heavy; his
eyebrows, at the top of his forehead, seem to be lost in his hair; his
eyes are not mates, his nose is one-sided; his form is perhaps still
worse; he walks after the fashion of a duck. Fie! can such a man be a
suitable match for the rich landlady of the Royal Salmon, for the
beautiful Kitty; for her who, among so many admirers and lovers, has
had but the difficulty of a choice?

The next day towards nightfall, Catherine, seated in her bar, in the
large leathern arm-chair which served as her throne, with dreamy and
downcast brow, and chin resting on her hand, was still thinking of
Captain Stradling, but her ideas had assumed a different aspect from
those of the evening before.

She was saying to herself: 'If he has thick and heavy lips, it is
because he is an Englishman; if he walks like a duck, it is because he
is a sailor; if he has taken me to be thirty years old, that proves
simply that he is a good physiognomist, and I shall have one painful
avowal the less to make after marriage. As for his scar, he has a
thousand reasons to be proud of it, and, upon close examination, it is
not unbecoming. It would be very difficult for me to choose a husband,
on account of the discontented suitors who will be left in the lurch;
but I will relinquish my business, and that will put an end to all
inconvenience. He is rich, so much for the profit; he is a captain, so
much for the honor. Come, come, Mistress Stradling will have no reason
to complain!'

At this moment, Catherine Felton could meditate quite at her ease,
without fear of being noticed; for the tobacco smoke, three times as
dense and abundant as usual, enveloped her in an almost opaque cloud.
There was this evening a grand _fete_ at the tavern of the Royal
Salmon. The concourse of customers was immense, and this time, it was
neither the beauty of the hostess, nor the quality of the liquors
which had attracted them thither.

The serving-men and lasses were going from table to table, multiplying
themselves to pour out, not only the golden waves of strong beer and
usquebaugh, but the purple waves of claret and port; all faces were
smiling, all eyes sparkling, and in the midst of the huzzas and
_vivas_, was heard, with triple applause, the name of William Dampier.

This celebrated man, now a corsair, now a skilful seaman, who had just
discovered so many unknown straits and shores, who had just made the
tour of the world twice, in an age when the tour of the world did not
pass, as at present, for a trifling matter; who had published, upon
his return, a narrative full of novel facts and observations; this
pitiless and intelligent pirate, who studied the coasts of Peru while
he pillaged the cities along its shores, and meditated, in the midst
of tempests, his learned theory of winds and tides, William Dampier,
had landed, this very day at the little port of St. Andrew.

At the intelligence of his arrival, the whole maritime population of
the coast was in commotion; the society of the _Old Pilots_, with
that of the _Sea Dogs_, had sent to him deputations, headed by the
principal ship-owners in the town. Captain Stradling had not failed
to be among them, happy at the opportunity of once more meeting and
embracing his former friend. Speeches were made, as if to welcome
an admiral, speeches in which were passed in review all his noble
qualities and the great services rendered by him to the marine
interest. To these Dampier replied with simplicity and conciseness,
saying to the orators:

'Gentlemen and dear comrades, you must be hoarse, let us drink!'

This first trait of eccentricity could not fail to enlist universal

Commissioned by him to lead the column, Stradling could not do
otherwise than to take the road to the Royal Salmon. It was on this
occasion that he appeared there before the expiration of the three
days: but he had not addressed a word to Catherine, scarcely turned
his eyes towards her. Nevertheless the circumstances were favorable to
his suit.

Then a millionaire, William Dampier had immediately declared his
intentions to treat at his own expense the whole company and even the
whole town, if the town would do him the honor to drink with him.
Catherine at once took him into favor. When she heard him praise his
friend and companion, the brave Captain Stradling, she felt for the
latter, not an emotion of tenderness, but a sentiment of respect and
even of good-will. Dampier, excited by his audience, did not fail,
like other conquerors by land and sea, to recount some of his great
deeds. Among others, he recapitulated a certain affair in which he and
his friend Stradling had captured a Spanish galleon, laden with
piastres. From this moment the beautiful Kitty became more thoughtful,
and began to see that the scar was becoming to the face of this good
captain. After drinking, when Dampier, still escorted by his _fidus
Achates_, came to settle his account with the hostess, he chucked her
familiarly under the chin, as was his custom with landladies in the
four quarters of the globe. From any one else, the proud Catherine
would not have suffered such a liberty; to this, she replied only by a
graceful reverence, and, while the hero and paymaster of the _fete_
shook a rouleau of gold upon her counter, she said, hastily bending
towards Stradling:

'To-morrow!' accompanying this word with an expressive look and her
most gracious smile.

The enamored Stradling, always impassible, contented himself with

'It is well!'

The day following, the third, the important day, that which Catherine
already regarded as her day of betrothal, early in the morning, she
dressed herself in her best attire, not doubting the impatience of the
captain. Before noon, the latter entered the inn and went directly up
to the landlady.

She received him carelessly and coldly; she was nervous, she had not
had time for reflection; she did not know what the captain wished; if
he would let her alone for the present, by and by she would consider.

'Boy! a new pipe and some ale!' exclaimed Stradling, addressing a

And, perfectly calm in appearance, he sauntered to his accustomed
place at the farther end of the bar-room. However, before leaving the
Royal Salmon, approaching Catherine, he said:

'Yesterday, by your voice and gesture you said, or almost said, yes;
we sailors know the signals; to-day it is no, or almost no. Very well,
I will wait; but reflect, my beauty, we are neither of us young enough
to lose our time in this foolish game.'

But what had thus unexpectedly changed, from white to black, the good
intentions of Catherine in the captain's behalf? The presence of a
young boy whom she had not seen for many years, and towards whom she
had, until then, felt only a kindly indifference.


Alexander Selkirk.--The College.--First Love.--Eight Years of Absence.
--Maritime Combats.--Return and Departure.--The Swordfish.

Alexander Selkirk,--the name of the principal personage in this
narrative,--was born at Largo, in the county of Fife, not far from St.
Andrew. Entered as a pupil in the university of the town, he at first
distinguished himself by his aptitude and his intelligence, until the
day when, hearing of the beauty of the landlady of the Royal Salmon,
he was seized with an irresistible desire to see her: he saw her, and
became violently enamored. It was one of those youthful passions,
springing rather from the effervescence of the age, than from the
merit of the object; one of those sudden ebullitions to which the
young recluses of science are sometimes subject, from a prolonged
compression of the natural and affectionate sentiments.

From this moment, all the words in the Greek and Latin dictionaries,
all the principles of natural philosophy, mathematics and history,
suddenly taken by storm, whirled confusedly and pell-mell in the head
of Selkirk, like the elements of the world in chaos, before the day of

His professors had predicted that at the annual exhibition he would
obtain six great prizes; he obtained not even a premium.

As a punishment, he was required to remain within the college grounds
during the vacation. But its gates were not strong enough, nor its
walls high enough to detain him.

Condemned, for the crime of desertion, to a classic imprisonment, he
was shut up in a cellar; he escaped through the window; in a garret;
he descended by the roof.

Then, pronounced incorrigible, he was expelled from the university.

He left it joyous and happy, escaped from the tutor commissioned to
conduct him to his father, and at last wholly free, his own master, he
took lodgings in a cabin, not far from the Royal Salmon, and thought
himself monarch of the universe.

As soon as the doors of the inn were opened, he penetrated there with
the earliest fogs of morning, with the first beams of day; in the
evening he was the last to cross the threshold, after the extinction
of the lights.

All day long, seated at a little table opposite the bar, between a
pipe and a pewter pot, he watched the movements of Kitty, and followed
her with admiring eyes.

Catherine was not slow to perceive this new passion; but she was
accustomed to admiring eyes, and therefore paid but little heed to
them. She was then at the age of twenty-two, in all the glory of her
transient royalty; he, scarcely sixteen, was in her eyes a boy, a raw
and awkward boy, like almost all the other students, and she contented
herself with now and then bestowing a slight smile upon him, in common
with her other customers.

But this mechanical smile, this half extinguished spark, did but
increase the flame, by kindling in the young man's soul a ray of hope.

At this age, passion has not yet an oral language; it is in the heart,
in the head especially, but not on the lips; one comprehends,
experiences, dreams, writes of love in prose and verse, but does not
talk of it. Selkirk had twenty times attempted to confess his
affection to Catherine; he had as yet succeeded only in a few simple
and hasty meteorological sentences, on the rain and fine weather. He
therefore wrote.

Unfortunately, Catherine could not easily read writing; she applied to
him to interpret his letter. This was a hard task for the poor boy,
who, with a tremulous and hesitating voice, saw himself forced to
stammer through all that burning phraseology which seemed to congeal
under the breath of the reader.

The result however was that Catherine became his friend; she
encouraged his confidence, and gave him good advice as an elder sister
might have done. She even called him by the familiar name of Sandy,
which was a good omen.

Meanwhile his scanty resources became exhausted; he had no longer
means to pay for the pot of ale which he consumed daily. The idea of
asking credit of his beloved, of opening with her an account, which he
might never have means to pay, was revolting to him. On the other
hand, the thought of returning home, and asking pardon of his father,
was not less repugnant to his feelings. He was endowed with one of
those haughty and imperious natures which recognize their faults, not
to repair them, but to make of them a starting point, or even a

He was rambling about the port, reflecting on his unfortunate
situation, when he heard mention made of a ship ready to set sail at
high tide, and which needed a reinforcement of cabin-boys and sailors.
This was for him an inspiration; he did not hesitate, he hastened to
engage. That very evening he had gained the open sea, beyond the Isle
of May, and, with his eyes turned towards the Bay of St. Andrew, was
attempting, in vain, to recognize among the lights which were yet
burning in the city, the fortunate lantern which decorated the sacred
door of the Royal Salmon.

At present, Alexander Selkirk is twenty-four years old. He has become
a genuine sailor, and he loves his profession; the sea is now his
beautiful Kitty. Besides, it is long since he has troubled himself
about his heart. It is empty, even of friendship, for, among his
numerous companions, the proud young man has not found one worthy of
him. After having served two years in the merchant marine, he has
entered the navy. Thanks to the war kindled in Europe for the Spanish
succession, he has for a long time cruised with the brave Admiral
Rooke along the coasts of France; with him, he has fought against the
Danish in the Baltic Sea, and in 1702, in the capacity of a master
pilot, figured honorably in the expedition against Cadiz, and in the
affair of Vigo. Finally, under the command of Admiral Dilkes, he has
just taken part in the destruction of a French fleet.

But all these expeditions, rather military than maritime, and
circumscribed in the narrow circle of the seas of Europe, have not
satisfied the vast desires of the ambitious sailor. He experiences an
invincible thirst to apply his knowledge, to exercise his intelligence
on a larger scale; he is impatient for a long voyage, a voyage of

The terrific hurricane of the twenty-seventh of November, 1703, which
drove the waves of the Thames even into Westminster, Hall, and covered
London almost entirely with the fragments of broken vessels, appeared
to Selkirk a favorable occasion for asking his dismissal. He easily
obtained it. So many sailors had just been thrown out of employment by
the hurricane.

Once more, the undisciplined scholar found himself free and his own
master! He profited by this to pay a visit to his birthplace in
Scotland. His father was dead, but he had some business to regulate

On reaching Largo he learned the arrival of William Dampier at St.
Andrew. He set sail for that port immediately.

'Ah!' said he on his way, 'if this brave captain should be about to
undertake a voyage to the New World, and will let me accompany him, no
matter in what capacity, all my wishes will be gratified. I thirst to
see tattooed faces, other trees besides beeches, oaks and firs; other
shores than those of the Baltic, Mediterranean and Atlantic. Who knows
whether I may not aid him in the discovery of some new continent, some
unknown island which shall bear my name!'

And, cradled by the wave in the frail canoe that bore him, he dreamed
of government, perhaps of royalty, in one of those archipelagoes which
he imagined to exist in the bosom of the distant Southern seas, long
afterwards explored by Cook, Bougainville and Vancouver.

Once in port, he hastened to inquire for the dwelling occupied by
Dampier. The latter was absent; he was in the harbor.

While awaiting his return, our young sailor thought of his old friend
Catherine, his pretty black-eyed Kitty, and directed his steps towards
the inn.

He found her already enthroned in her leathern arm-chair, her hair
neatly braided, with two small curls on her temples; in a toilette
which the early hour of the morning did not seem to authorize; but it
was the famous third day, and she was awaiting Stradling.

On seeing Selkirk enter, she exclaimed to the boy, pointing to the
newly-arrived: 'A pot of ale!'

'No,' cried the young man smiling; 'the ale which I once drank here
was for me a philter full of bitterness; a glass of whiskey, if you
please,----' and, pointing to the little table opposite the bar at
which he was formerly accustomed to place himself, he said:

'Serve me there; I will return to my old habits.'

Catherine looked at him with astonishment.

'Does not pretty Kate recognize me?' said he in a caressing tone,
approaching her.

'How! Is it possible! is it you, indeed, Sandy?'

'Yes, Alexander Selkirk, formerly a fugitive from the University of
St. Andrew; recently a master pilot in the royal marine; now, as ever,
your very humble servant.'

And they shook hands, and examined each other closely, but the
impression on both sides was far from being the same.

Catherine finds Selkirk much changed, but for the better; time and
navigation have been favorable to him. He is no longer the raw student
with embarrassed air, awkward manner, bony frame and dilapidated
costume; but a stout young man, with a broad chest, active and
graceful form; though his features are decidedly Scotch, they are
handsome; his eyes, less brilliant than formerly, are animated with a
more attractive thoughtfulness, and the naval uniform, which he still
wears, sets off his person to advantage.

On his part, Selkirk finds Catherine also much changed; the rosy
complexion, the soft voice, the youthful look, the twenty-two years,
all are gone. Her form has assumed a superabundant amplitude.

They drop each other's hands and utter a sigh; he, of regret; she, of

Both close their eyes, at the same time; she, with the fear of gazing
too earnestly; he, to recall the being of his imagination.

However this may be, she is not yet a woman to be despised by a
sailor. He therefore prolongs his visit: they come to interrogations,
to confidences.

Catherine acquaints him with the situation of her little business
affairs; her fortune is improving; she gives him an estimate of it in
round numbers, as well as of the suitors she has rejected; but she
does not mention Captain Stradling, whose arrival she yet fears every

Selkirk relates to her his campaigns, his combats against the French,
against the Danish, the victorious attack of the English ships against
the great boom of Vigo; but, when she asks him what motive has brought
him back to St. Andrew, he replies boldly that he came to see her and
no one else, and says not a word of Captain Dampier, whom he is even
now impatient to meet.

At last the old friends say adieu.

Then the gallant sailor, with an apparent effort, goes away, not
forgetting, however, to drink his glass of whiskey.

And this is the reason why, on the third day, Catherine has the
vapors; this is the reason why, notwithstanding her soft words of the
evening before and her grand morning toilette, she receives so coldly
the scarred adversary of the celebrated Jean Bart.

During the whole of the week following, Stradling, Dampier and
Selkirk, did not fail to meet at the Royal Salmon. Selkirk came to see
Dampier; Dampier came to see Stradling; Stradling came to see
Catherine Felton.

The latter thought the young man already knew the two others, that he
had sailed with them, and was not surprised at their intimacy.

Sometimes Selkirk, leaving his companions in the midst of their
bottles and glasses, would describe a tangent towards the counter, and
come to converse with the pretty hostess. He no longer felt love for
her, and notwithstanding this, perhaps for this very reason, he now
talked eloquently.

Kitty blushed, was embarrassed, and poor Captain Stradling, listening
with all his ears to the narratives of his illustrious friend William
Dampier, or pre-occupied with his pipe, lost in its cloud, saw
nothing,--or seemed to see nothing.

Nevertheless one evening, he went, in his turn, to lean on the

'Kate,' said he, 'when is our marriage to take place?'

'Are you thinking of that still?' replied she, with an air of levity
which would once have became her better; 'I hoped this fancy had
passed out of your head.'

'I may then set out on my voyage, Kate?'

'Why not? We will talk of our plans on your return.'

'But I am going to make the tour of the world, as well as my friend
Dampier. Kate, it is the affair of three years!'

'So much the better! it will give us both time for reflection.'

'It is well!' replied the phlegmatic Englishman, and nothing on his
polar face betokened an afterthought.

The doors closed, the lights extinguished, Catherine retired to rest
the happiest woman in the world. She said to herself: 'Alexander loves
me, and has loved me for eight years! he deserves to be rewarded. He
has less money than the other, it is a misfortune; but he has more
youth and grace, that balances it. As to rank, a master pilot of
twenty-four is as far advanced as a captain of forty. Between Selkirk
and myself, if the wealth is on my side, on his will be gratitude and
little attentions. At all events, I prefer a young husband who will
whisper words of love in my ear, to amusing myself by pouring out
drink for my lord and master, while he smokes his pipe, with his feet
on the brands. Was it not thus that icicle, dressed in blue, called
Stradling, talked to me of the pleasures of marriage? And what a name!
But Mistress Selkirk!--that sounds well. In our Scotland, there is the
county of Selkirk, the town of Selkirk; there is even a great nobleman
of this name, who is something like minister to our Queen Anne, I
believe. Who knows? we are perhaps of his family! As for walking about
the port arm-in-arm with a captain, I am sure my very dear friends and
neighbors would die with jealousy if I took, instead of this scarred
captain, a young and handsome man. It is settled. I will marry
Alexander; to-morrow I will myself announce it to him. I hope he will
not die of joy!'

On the morrow she attired herself as on the day of Selkirk's return,
in her beautiful dress of cloth and silk, with the two little curls
upon her temples. She thus waited a great part of the day. At last,
about four o'clock, Selkirk arrives in haste, his face beaming with
joy, and a gleam of triumph in his eye.

'Has he then,' thought Catherine, 'a presentiment of the happiness in
store for him?'

'Congratulate me, pretty Kitty,' said the young man, almost out of
breath; 'I am appointed mate of the brig Swordfish, which I am to join
at Dunbar.'

'How! you are going?'

'In an hour.'

'For a long time?'

'For three years at least. In a fortnight we set sail for the East
Indies. It will be a great commercial voyage and a voyage of
discovery. Unfortunately William Dampier does not accompany us; but he
furnishes funds to the brave Captain Stradling.'


'Yes, it is he who has just engaged me, and with whom I am to sail.
Our agreement is signed,--I am mate! I am going to explore the New
World! Ah! I would not exchange my fate for that of a king. But time
presses; adieu, Kitty, till I see you again!'

'Three years!' murmured Catherine.

And her curls grew straight beneath the cold perspiration that covered
her forehead.


The Tour of the World.--The Way to manufacture Negroes--California.
--The Eldorado.--Revolt of Selkirk.--The Log-Book.--Degradation.
--A Free Shore.

The Swordfish, well provisioned, even with guns and ammunition, left
Dunbar one morning with a fresh breeze, sailed down the North Sea,
passed Ireland, France and Spain, the Azores, Canaries, and Cape Verd
Islands on the coast of Africa, and, after having stopped for a short
time in the harbors of Guinea and Congo, doubled the Cape of Good
Hope, amid the traditional tempest.

Entering the Indian Ocean, and passing through the Straits of Sunda,
she touched at Borneo, and at Java, reached the Southern Sea by the
Gulf of Siam, passed the Philippine Isles, then, through the vast
regions of the Pacific Ocean, pursued the route which had been marked
out by the exploring ship of William Dampier in 1686. Like that, the
Swordfish remained a few days at the Island of St. Pierre, before
launching into that immensity where, during nearly two months, wave
only succeeded to wave; at last she reached the coasts of South
America, and cast anchor in the Gulf of California.

This gigantic voyage, which seemed as if it must have been attempted
under the inspiration of science and with the hope of the most
important discoveries, had been undertaken by Stradling with no object
but of traffic and even of rapine. These had been the great ends of
most of the bold enterprises which had preceded. The Spanish and
Portuguese, in their discoveries of new continents, had thought less
of glory than of riches; they had conquered the New World only to
pillage it; the vanquished who escaped extermination, were forced to
dig their native soil, not to render it more fruitful, but to procure
from it, for the profit of the vanquisher, the gold it might contain.
Among the European nations, those who had had no part in the conquest
now sought to share the spoils. For this the least pretext of war or
commerce sufficed.

Stradling availed himself of both these pretences; when he touched at
the coasts of Guinea and Congo, it was to obtain negroes whom he
expected to sell in America. At Borneo, the opportunity presented
itself for an advantageous disposal of the greater part of his black
merchandize; as he was a man of resources and not at all scrupulous,
he soon found means to replace them.

In the Straits of Sunda, several barques, manned by negroes and
Malays, had become entangled in the masses of seaweed which are every
where floating on the surface of the wave; Stradling encountered them,
made the rowers enter his ship, and obligingly took the barques in
tow, to extricate them from their difficulty. But those who ascended
the side of the Swordfish, descended only to be sold in their turn.

Although he had received an education superior to that of his
companions, Selkirk shared in the prejudices of his times; he had
therefore found nothing objectionable in seeing his captain exchange
at Congo little mirrors, a few glass beads, half a dozen useless guns,
and some gallons of brandy, for men still young and vigorous, torn
from their country and their families. Their skin was of another
color, their heads woolly; this was a profitable traffic, recognized
by governments; but when he saw Stradling seize the property of others
to refill his empty hold, he could not control his indignation and
boldly expressed it:

'It is for their salvation,' replied the captain, without emotion; 'we
will make Christians of them.'

On approaching the Vermilion Sea, a deep gulf which separates
California from the American continent, and makes it almost an island,
the Malays were rubbed with a mixture of tar and dragon's blood,
dissolved in a caustic oil, to give to their olive skins a deeper
shade, and their flat noses and silky hair making them pass for Yolof
negroes, they were exchanged at Cape St. Lucas, along with the rest,
for pearls and native productions.

The young mate thought this proceeding not less mean and dishonorable
than the first; he made new observations.

'Nothing now remains to be done, captain,' said he, 'but to shave and
besmear with tar the monkey you have just bought, and to include it
among your new race of negroes.'

This time, the captain looked at him askance, and shrugged his
shoulders without replying.

The storm was beginning to growl in the distance.

It was not without a secret object that, in his course through the
Southern Sea, Stradling had first of all aimed at California.

He devoted an entire month to cruising along both shores of this
almost island, and penetrating all the bays of the Vermilion Sea; he
hoped to find there a passage to an unknown land, then predicted and
coveted by all navigators. What was this land? The _Eldorado_!

Although I would hasten over these details of the voyage to arrive at
the more important events of this history; now that the recent
discovery of the immense mines of gold buried beneath the hills of
California has aroused the entire world, that the name alone of
_Sacramento_ seems to fill with gold the mouth which pronounces it,
there is a curious fact, perhaps entirely unknown, which I cannot pass
over in silence.

After the middle of the sixteenth century, and long before the
seventeenth, a vague rumor, a confused tradition, had located, in the
neighborhood of the Vermilion Sea, a famed land, whose rivers rolled
over gold, and whose mountains rested on golden foundations; the
treasures of Mexico and Peru were nothing in comparison with those
which were to be gathered there. An ingot of native gold was talked
of, of a _pepite_ or eighty pounds weight.

It was a grape from the promised land.

This marvellous country had been named, in advance, _Eldorado_.

Among the bold Argonauts of these two centuries, there was a contest
as to who should first raise his flag over this new Colchis, defended,
it was said, by the Apaches, a terrible, sanguinary and cannibal race,
whom Cortez himself could not subdue. This land of gold some had
located in New Biscay or New Mexico; others, in the pretended kingdoms
of Sonora and Quivira; then, after several ineffectual attempts, the
possibility of reaching it was denied; learned men, from the various
academies of Europe, proved that the _Eldorado_ was not a country, but
a dream; on this subject the Old World laughed at the New; the
Argonauts became discouraged, and during a century the subject was
named only to be ridiculed.

And yet, in spite of sceptics and scoffers, the _Eldorado_ existed. It
existed where tradition had placed it, on the shores of this Vermilion
Sea, now the Gulf of California. For once, popular opinion had the
advantage over scientific dissertations and philosophic denials;
there, where, according to the Dictionary of Alcedo, nothing had been
discovered but mines of pewter! where Jacques Baegert had indeed
acknowledged the presence of gold, but _in meagre veins_; where Raynal
had named as curiosities only fishes and pearls, declaring, in
California, _the sea richer than the land_; where in our own times M.
Humboldt discovered nothing but cylindrical cacti, on a sandy soil,
remained buried, as a deposit for future ages, this treasure of the
world, which seemed to be waiting in order to leave its native soil,
the moment of falling into the hands of a commercial and industrious
people, that of the United States.

This _Eldorado_, Stradling sought in vain; he therefore decided to
pursue his route along the coast of Mexico, now under the French flag,
when he found an opportunity for traffic with the natives, colonists
or savages; now under the English flag, when he wished to exercise his
trade of corsair, an easy profession, for since the disaster of Vigo,
the Spanish had abandoned their transatlantic possessions to

The Spanish soldiery of America then found themselves, in the presence
of European adventurers, in that state of pusillanimous inferiority in
which had been, at the period of the conquest, the subjects of the
Incas and Montezuma before the soldiers of Cortez and Pizarro. The
time was not already far passed, when a few bands of freebooters, from
France, England and Holland, had well nigh wrested from his Majesty,
the King of Spain and the Indies, the most extensive and wealthy of
his twenty-two hereditary kingdoms.

Stradling was following in the footsteps of these freebooters.

Recently, two little cities on the coast had been put under
contribution for the supplies of the Swordfish; there had been
resistance, a threatened attack, a parley, and capitulation; in this
affair, the young mate had nobly distinguished himself both as a
combatant and a negotiator, and yet the captain had not deigned to
give him a share in his distribution of compliments.

Selkirk felt an irritation the more lively that this shore life began
to be irksome. Not that his conscience disturbed him any more than in
the treatment of the blacks; he thought it as honorable to war with
the Spaniards in the New World, as to be beaten by them in the Old;
but he compared his present chief, Captain Stradling, with his former
commander, the noble and brave Admiral Rooke; the parallel extended in
his mind to his old companions in the royal navy, all so frank, so
gay, so loyal,--among whom he had yet never found a friend,--and his
new companions of to-day, recruited for the most part in the marshy
lowlands of the merchant marine of Scotland; his thoughts became
overshadowed, and his desires for independence, which dated from his
college life, returned in full force.

As much as his duties permitted, he loved to isolate himself from all;
when he could remain some time alone in his cabin, or gaze upon the
sea from a retired corner of the deck and watch the ploughing of the
vessel, then only he was happy.

As if to increase his uneasiness, Stradling became daily more severe
and more exacting towards his chief officer; he imposed upon him rude
labors foreign to his station. It seemed as if he were determined to
drive him to desperation.

He succeeded.

Selkirk protested against such treatment, and recapitulated his
subjects of complaint. The other paid no more attention than he would
have done to the buzzing of a fly.

Irritated by this outrageous impassibility, the young man declared
that there should no longer be any thing in common between them, and
that, whatever fate might await him, he demanded to be set on shore.

Stradling touched his forehead:

'That is a good idea,' said he, and he turned away.

The next day, they reached the Isthmus of Panama; the persevering
Selkirk returned to the charge: 'The moment is favorable for ridding
yourself of me, and me of you,' said he to the captain; 'let the boat
convey me to the shore; I will cross the Isthmus, reach the Gulf of
Darien, the North Sea, and return to Scotland, even before the

This time the honest corsair listened attentively, then shaking his
head and winking his eye, with the smile of a hungry vampire, replied:

'You are then in great haste to be married, comrade.'

It was the first word he had addressed to him relative to Catherine
during this long voyage, and this word Selkirk had not even

They were about passing Panama: the vessel continuing her voyage,
Selkirk interposed his authority, ordered the men to put about, take
in sail and approach the shore.

This Stradling prohibited, uttered a formidable oath, and commanded
the young man to bring the log-book. When it was brought, he made the
following entry:

'To-day, Sept. 24th, 1704, Alexander Selkirk, mate of this vessel,
having mutinied and attempted to desert to the enemy, we have deprived
him of his title and his office; in case of obstinacy we shall hang
him to the yard-arm.'

And he read the sentence to the offender.

From this day, the rebel saw himself compelled to serve in the
Swordfish as a simple sailor, and his subordinates of yesterday,
to-day his equals, indemnified themselves for the authority he had
exercised over them, which did not cure him of that native contempt he
had always felt for mankind.

A month passed away thus, during which the Swordfish several times
touched the shores of Peru, now to renew her supplies of provisions
and water, now to exchange with the Indians, nails, hatchets, knives,
and necklaces of beads, for gold dust, furs, and garments trimmed with
colored feathers.

During one of these pauses, Selkirk, left on the ship, accosted the
captain once more. He knew that the remains of some bands of
freebooters were colonized there, leading a peaceful and agricultural
life; this fact was known to all. At Coquimbo in Chili, some English
and Dutch pirates had formed a settlement of this kind, now in the
full tide of prosperity. Selkirk, who, during an entire month, had not
spoken to the captain, now demanded, in a voice which he attempted to
render calm and almost supplicating, to be landed at Coquimbo, from
which they were only a few days sail.

'You will not this time accuse me of wishing to desert to the enemy;
they are the English, Scotch, Dutch, our countrymen and allies whom I
wish to join! Do you still suspect me? Well, do not content yourself
with setting me on shore; place me in the hands of the chief men of
the settlement. Will that suit you?'

Stradling winked significantly; but this was all.

'Ah!' resumed the young man with increasing emotion, 'do not think to
detain me longer on board, to crush me beneath this humiliation! I
consented to serve under your orders as mate, and you have made me the
lowest of your sailors; this you had no right to do.'

Stradling took his glass and directed it towards the shore, where his
people were engaged in trafficking their beads and hardware.

Raising his head and folding his arms:

'Captain,' pursued Selkirk with vehemence, 'some day or other we shall
return to England, where the laws protect all; there, I shall have the
right of complaint, and Queen Anne loves to render justice; beware!'

Stradling, still spying, began to whistle _God save the Queen_; then
he called his monkey and made it gambol before him.

'I will depart, I will free myself from your presence, and that of
your worthy companions; I will do so at all events, do you
understand!' exclaimed Selkirk exasperated, 'I will not endure your
infamous treatment another week! If you refuse to consent to my
demand, I will leave without your permission; were the vessel twenty
miles from the land, and were I to perish twenty times on the way, I
will attempt to swim ashore. Will you land me at Coquimbo, yes or no?

By way of reply, Stradling ordered him to be confined in the hold.

Poor Selkirk! Ah! if pretty Kitty, if the beautiful landlady of the
Royal Salmon could know all thou hast endured for her sake, how many
tears would her fine eyes shed over thy fate! But who knows whether
she will ever hear of thee? Who can tell whether any human being will
learn the sufferings in reserve for thee?

Poor Selkirk! you who painted to yourself so smiling a picture of this
grand voyage to America; who hoped to leave, like Dampier, your name
to some strait, some newly discovered island; you who dreamed of
scientific walks in vast prairies and under the arches of virgin
forests, you have shared only in the career of a trafficker and a
pirate; of this New World, full of marvellous sights, you have seen
only the shore, the fringe of the mantle, the margin of this last work
of God!

Poor Selkirk, must you then return to your cold and foggy Scotland,
without having contemplated at your ease, beneath the brilliant sun of
the tropics, one of those Edens overshadowed by the luxuriant verdure
of palm-trees, bananas, mimosas and gigantic ferns? In your country,
the bark of the trees is clad with lichens and mosses, and the
parasite mistletoe suspends itself to the branches, more as a burden
than as an ornament; here, numerous families of the orchis, with their
singular forms, showy and variegated blossoms, climb along the knotty
stems of the tall monarchs of the forests; from their feet spring up,
as if to enlace them with a magic network, the brilliant passiflora,
the vanilla with its intoxicating perfume, the banisteria whose roots
seem to have dived into mines of gold and borrowed from thence the
color of its petals! Hither the birds of Paradise and Brazilian
parrots come to build their nests; here the bluebird and the
purple-necked wood-pigeon coo and sing; here, like swarms of bees,
thousands of humming-birds of mingled emerald and sapphire, warble and
glitter as they suck the nectar from the flowers. This was what you
hoped to contemplate, poor Selkirk! and this joy, like many others, is
henceforth forbidden.

In his floating prison, in his submarine cell, his only employment is
to listen to the dashing of the waves against the ship, or now and
then to catch a glimpse of the blue sky through the hatchways.

What cares he? He does not complain; he has learned to abhor mankind,
and he loves to be alone, in company with himself and his own

Several days passed in this manner.

One morning he felt the brig slacken its speed; the dashing of the
wave against the prow diminished, and the Swordfish, suddenly furling
its sails, after having slightly rocked hither and thither, stopped.
They had just cast anchor. Where? he knows not.

Soon he hears the rattling of the rope-ladder which serves as a
stairway to those above who would communicate with his prison. They
come, on the part of the captain, to seek him.

He finds the latter seated on the deck, surrounded by his principal

'Young man,' said Stradling, 'I have been obliged to be severe for the
sake of an example; but you have been sufficiently punished by the
time you have passed below there,'--and he pointed to the ship's hold.
'Now, your wish shall be granted. You shall be allowed to land.'

And the rare smile which sometimes hovered on his lips, stole over his
rigid face.

'So much the better,' replied Selkirk, laconically.

The boat was let down; he entered it, and ten minutes afterwards
disembarked on a green shore, where the waves, as they broke upon it,
seemed to murmur softly in his ear the word, _liberty_!

The boat immediately rejoined the ship, which set sail, coasted along
Chili and Patagonia, and re-entered the Northern Sea by the Straits of


Inspection of the Country.--Marimonda.--A City seen through the Fog.
--The Sea every where.--Dialogue with a Toucan.--The first Shot.
--Declaration of War.--Vengeance.--A Terrestrial Paradise.

While watching the departure of the Swordfish, Alexander Selkirk felt
the same sensation as on that day when he had seen the doors of the
college of St. Andrew thrown open for his exit; once more he was his
own master. Now, however, it is at some thousands of miles from his
country that he must reap the benefits of his independence, and this
idea embitters his emotions of joy.

But is he not about to find countrymen at Coquimbo? And if their
society should be unpleasing?--if their habits, their mode of life,
their persons, should become objects of antipathy to the misanthropic
Selkirk, as it is but natural to fear? Well! after all, no engagement
binds him to them; he will be always free to enter, in the capacity of
a sailor, the first vessel which may leave for Europe.

Determined to act as shall seem good to him,--to make some excursions
into the interior of the continent, if an opportunity presents itself,
and he will know how to make one,--he casts a first glance at the land
of his adoption.

Before him extends a vast shore, studded with groves of trees, covered
with fine turf and little flowers joyfully unfolding their petals to
the sun: two streams, having their source at the very base of the
opposite hills, after having meandered around this immense lawn, unite
almost at his feet.

He bends down to one of these streams, fills the hollow of his hand
with water, and tastes it, as a libation, and as a toast to the
generous land which has just received him; the water is excellent; he
plucks a flower, and continues his inspection.

On his left rise high mountains, terraced and verdant, excepting at
their summits, on one of which he perceives a goat, with long horns,
stationed there immovable like a sentinel, and whose delicate profile
is clearly defined on the azure of the sky. On the side towards the
sea, the mountains, bending their gray and naked heads, resemble stone
giants, watching the movements of the wave which dashes at their feet.

On his right, where the land declines, he sees little valleys linked
together with charming undulations; but on the mountains at his left,
in the valleys at his right, among the hills in the distance, his eye
vainly seeks the vestige of a human habitation.

He sets out in search of one. The boat from which he landed has
deposited on the shore his effects--his arms, his nautical
instruments, his charts, a Bible, and provisions of various kinds.
Notwithstanding his piratical sentiments, the captain of the Swordfish
has not designed to precede exile by confiscation. Selkirk takes his
gun, his gourd; but, unable to carry all his riches, he conceals them
behind a stony thicket, well defended by the darts of the cactus, and
the sword-like leaves of the aloe, not caring to have the first comer
seize them as his booty.

As he is occupied with this duty, he feels himself suddenly clasped by
two long hairy arms; he turns his head, it is Marimonda, the captain's
monkey, a female of the largest species.

How came she there? Selkirk does not know.

Disgusted with her sea-voyages, with the intelligence natural to her
race, Marimonda has undoubtedly profited by the moment of the boat's
leaving the ship to conceal herself in it and gain the shore along
with the prisoner, which she might easily have done, unseen by all,
during the transporting of the effects and provisions.

However this may be, Selkirk begins by freeing himself from her grasp,
repulses the monkey and sets out: but the latter perseveres in
following, and after having, by her most graceful grimaces, sought to
conciliate him, marches beside him. Not caring to arrive at Coquimbo
escorted by such a companion, which would give him in a city the
appearance of a mountebank and showman of monkeys, Selkirk, this time,
repulses her rudely, not with his hand, but with the butt of his gun.

Struck in the breast by this home thrust, the poor monkey stops, rolls
up her eyes, moves her lips, and growling confusedly her complaints
and reproaches, crouches beneath a tuft of the sapota, leaving the man
to pursue his way alone.

Selkirk has at first directed his steps toward the valleys; after
having traversed these, he arrives at the margin of a sandy plain, and
as far as the eye can reach, perceives neither city, village, house,
tent nor hut, nothing which can indicate the presence of inhabitants.

Nevertheless, a little grove which he has just traversed, seems to
have recently, in its principal path, passed under the shears of a
gardener; the foliage presents a certain symmetry; fragments of
branches are strewed, on the ground, which seem to have been freshly
cut; he even thinks he sees vestiges of the passage of a flock. On the
lawn of the shore, he has seen, and still sees around him, trees with
tufted heads, which must owe this form to art. He continues his

At last, in the distance, beneath a fog which is just beginning to
dissolve, he perceives a vast mass of white and red houses, some with
terraced roofs, others covered with thatch; through the humid veil
which envelopes them, he sees the glistening of the glass in the
windows; already he hears at his feet the confused noise of cities;
murmuring voices reply; the measured sound of hammers and of mills
even reaches his ear.

It is Coquimbo! he cannot doubt it, and shortening his route by a path
across the hill, he quickens his pace.

Meanwhile an east wind arises, the fog disappears; when he thinks he
has reached the suburbs of the city, Selkirk sees before him only an
irregular assemblage of calcareous stones, crowned with dry herbs, or
reddish, arid, angular rocks, flattened at their summits, tessellated
with fragments of silex and mica, on which the sun is just pouring his
rays; a company of goats, which the mist had condemned to a momentary
repose, are bounding here and there, startling flocks of clamorous
black-birds and plaintive sea-gulls; the fearless and yellow-crested
woodpeckers alone do not stir, but continue to hammer with their sharp
beaks at some old stunted trees.

The disenchantment is painful for our sailor; the fog has deceived him
with the semblance of a city, as it has more than once deluded us in
the midst of plains and woods, by the appearance of an ocean with its
white waves, its great capes, its bold shores, and its vessels at

Perhaps Coquimbo is still beyond. Fearing to lose himself if he
ventures farther in an unknown land, he resolves to explore it first
by a look. Returning to the shore upon which he had landed, he scales
the mountains on the north, reaches the first platform, and from
thence seeks to discover some indications of a city. Nothing! he still
ascends, the circle enlarges around him, but with no better result.
Summoning all his courage, through a thousand difficulties, climbing,
drawing himself up by the arid and abrupt rocks, piled one upon
another, he at last attains a culminating point of the mountain. He
can now embrace with his eye an immense horizon, but this immense
horizon is the sea! On his right, on his left, before him, behind him,
every where the sea!

He is not on the continent, but on an island.

This evening, exhausted with fatigue, he lies down in a grotto at the
foot of the mountain, where he passes a night full of agitation and

Rising with the sun, his first care, the next morning, is to examine
his riches and his provisions. He returns to the thicket of cactus and

Besides two guns, two hatchets, a knife, an iron pot, a Bible and
nautical instruments, all articles belonging to him, he finds there a
quantity of nails, a large fragment of a sail, several horns of powder
and shot; a bag of ship biscuit, a salted quarter of pork, a little
cask of pickled fish, and a dozen cocoa-nuts.

The night before, at sight of these articles, he had supposed a
sentiment of justice and humanity to exist in the soul of the corsair.
Just now, he had said to himself that Stradling, deceived by a false
reckoning of latitude, had landed him on an island, perhaps believing
it to be a projecting shore of the continent. Now, the abundance of
his supplies, this biscuit, these salt provisions, these fruits of the
cocoa, all valueless if he had really landed at Coquimbo, lead him to
suspect that the vindictive Englishman has designedly chosen the place
of his exile.

But this exile, is it complete isolation? Is the island inhabited or
deserted? If it is inhabited, as he still believes he has reason to
suppose, by whom is it so?

That he may obtain a reply to this double question, he resolves to
traverse the country in its whole extent. At the very commencement of
his journey, the immobility of a bird suffices to give to the doubt,
on which his thoughts vacillate, the appearance almost of a certainty.

This bird is a toucan, of brilliant plumage and monstrous beak.
Selkirk passes near it, with his eyes fixed on the branch which serves
as a perch, and the toucan, without stirring, looks at him with a
species of calm and placid astonishment.

Selkirk stops; he comprehends the mute language of the bird.

'You do not know then what a man is! He is the enemy of every creature
to whom God has given life, the enemy even of his kind! You have then
never been threatened by the arms that I bear!'

And with the palm of his hand, striking the butt of his gun, he made
the hammer click.

At the sound of his voice, as at the noise of the hammer, the bird
raised its head, manifesting new and redoubled surprise, but without
any other movement. It seemed to think that the man and the gun were
one, and that its strange interlocutor possessed two different voices.

At last, by way of reply, it uttered a few shrill and prolonged cries,
accompanied by the rattling of its two horny mandibles. After which,
acting the great nobleman, cutting short the audience he has deigned
to grant, the toucan is silent, turns its head, proudly raises one of
its wings and busies itself in smoothing, with the point of its large
beak, its beautiful greenish feathers, variegated with purple.

At some distance from this spot, still following the margin of a
wooded hill, Selkirk sees other birds, some in their nests, others
warbling in the shade; all manifesting no more alarm at his presence
than did the toucan. Crested orioles, hooded bullfinches, alight to
pick up little grains or insects almost at his feet; humming-birds,
variegated cotingas, red manaquins flutter before him in the sunbeams,
pursuing invisible flies; little wood-peckers, black or green, hop
around the trunks of the trees, stopping a moment to see him pass and
then resuming their spiral ascent.

The confidence which he inspires is not confined to these winged
people. Upon a hillock of turf he perceives an animal, with pointed
nose, brown fur enamelled with red spots, and of the size of a hare;
seated on its hind paws, longer than those in front, it uses these,
after the manner of squirrels, to carry to its mouth some nuts of the
maripa, which constitute its breakfast. It is an agouti,[1] a mother,
her little ones are near. At sight of the stranger they run to her,
but quickly re-assured, quietly finish their morning repast.

Farther on, coatis,[2] with short ears, and long tails; companies of
little Guinea pigs; armadillos, a species of hedge-hog without the
quills, but covered with an armor of scales, more compact and
impervious than that of the ancient knights of the Middle Ages,
arrange themselves along the line of his route, as if to pass him in

[Footnote 1: _Agouti_. An animal of the bigness of a rabbit, with
bright red hair, and a little tail without hair. He has but two teeth
in each jaw; holds his meat in his forepaws like a squirrel, and has a
very remarkable cry: when he is angry, his hair stands on end, and he
strikes the earth with his hind feet; and when chased, he flies to a
hollow tree, whence he is expelled by smoke.--_Trevoux_.]

[Footnote 2: The _coati_ is a native of Brazil, not unlike the racoon
in the general form of the body, and, like that animal, it frequently
sits up on the hinder legs, and in this position carries its food to
its mouth. If left at liberty in a state of tameness, it will pursue
poultry, and destroy every living thing that it has strength to
conquer. When it sleeps it rolls itself into a lump, and remains
immovable for fifteen hours together. His eyes are small, but full of
life; and when domesticated, this creature is very playful and
amusing. A great peculiarity belonging to this animal is the length of
his snout, which resembles in some particulars the trunk of the
elephant, as it is movable in every direction. The ears are round, and
like those of a rat; the forefeet have five toes each. The hair is
short and rough on the back, and of a blackish color; the tail is
marked with rings of black, like the wild cat; the rest of the animal
is a mixture of black and red.]

Alas! this general quiet does but deepen in the heart of Selkirk the
certainty of his isolation.

Nevertheless, yesterday, said he to himself, in this thick wood, did I
not see alleys trimmed with the shears, trees shaped by the

And the little grove which he visited the evening previous, at that
instant presents itself before him. He examines the trees; they are
myrtles of various heights; but among their glossy branches, he in
vain seeks traces of the pruning-knife or shears; nature alone has
thus disposed in spheroids or umbels the extremities of this rich

The same disappointment awaits him in the underwood. The only pruners
have been goats, or other animals, daintily cropping the green shoots.

Then only does the complete and terrible certainty of his disaster
fall on him and crush him. Behold him blotted from the number of men,
perhaps condemned to die of misery and of hunger! more securely
imprisoned, more entirely forgotten by the world than the most
hardened criminal plunged in the lowest depths of the Bastile! He at
least, has a jailor! Miserable Stradling!

At this moment he hears a noise above his head: it is the monkey.

Marimonda, on her side, has also inspected the island; she has already
tasted its productions. Whether she is satisfied with her discoveries,
or whether forgiveness and forgetfulness of injuries are natural to
her, on perceiving her old companion, wagging her head in token of
good-will, she descends towards him from the tree on which she is

But Marimonda is the captain's monkey; she has been his property, his
favorite, his flatterer! In the disposition of mind in which Selkirk
finds himself, he does not need these thoughts to make him pitiless.
Marimonda reminds him of Stradling; the monkey shall pay for the man!

He lowers his gun, and fires. The monkey has seen the movement and
divined his intentions; she has only time to retreat behind her tree,
which does not prevent her receiving in her side a part of the charge.

This detonation of fire-arms, the first perhaps which has resounded in
this corner of the earth since the creation of the world, as it is
prolonged from echo to echo, even to the highest mountains, awakens in
every part of the island as it were a groan of distress. Instinct,
that sublime prescience, has revealed to all that a great peril has
just been born.

To the cries of affright from birds of every species, to the uneasy
and distant bleating of the goats, succeeds a plaintive moaning, like
the voice of a wailing infant.

It is Marimonda lamenting over her wound.

At nightfall, after an entire day of walks and explorations, Selkirk
is returning to his grotto on the shore, when he sees a stone fall at
his feet, then another.

While he, astonished, is seeking to divine the direction from which
this invisible battery plays, a little date-stone hits him on the
cheek. He immediately hears as it were a joyous whistling in the
foliage, which is agitated at his right, and sees Marimonda leaping
from tree to tree, using for this movement her feet, her tail, and one
hand; for she holds the other to her side. It is a compress on her

War is already in the island! Selkirk has a declared enemy here! And
this island, is it deserted? He has just traversed it in every
direction without seeing any thing which betokens the existence of a
human being.

His disaster is then complete; henceforth not a doubt of it can exist.
And yet his forehead wears rather the character of hope and fortitude
than of discouragement; it is more than resignation, it is pride.

He has just visited his empire. The island, irregular in form, is from
four to five leagues in length; in breadth it is from one and a half
to two leagues. This abode to which he is condemned, is the most
enchanting retreat he could have chosen; a luxuriant park cradled upon
the waves.

If sometimes, in the mountainous parts, he has encountered sterile and
rugged rocks, even abysses and precipices, they seem to be placed
there only as a contrast to the fresh and green valleys which encircle
them. If he has seen some dark, dense, inaccessible forests, entangled
in the thousand arms of interwoven vines, he has not discovered a
single reptile.

Every where, springs of living water, little streams which are lost
under a thick verdure, or fall in cascades from the summits of the
hills; every where a luxuriant vegetation; esculent and refreshing
plants, celery, cresses, sorrel, spring in profusion beneath his feet;
over his head, and almost within reach of his hand, palm-cabbages, and
unknown fruits of succulent appearance: on the margin of the shores,
muscles, periwinkles, shell-fish of every species, crabs crawling in
the moist sand; beneath the transparent waters, innumerable shoals of
fishes of all colors, all forms. Will game be wanting here? After what
he has seen this morning, he will not even need his gun to obtain it.
Oh! his provision of powder will last him a long time.

What has he to desire more in this terrestrial Paradise? The society
of men? Why? That he may find a master, a chief, under whose will he
must bend? Men! but he despises, detests them! Is he not then
sufficient for himself? Yes! this shall be his glory, his happiness!
To live in entire liberty, to depend only upon himself, will not this
impart to his soul true dignity? Besides, this island cannot be so far
from the coast, but, from time to time, ships, or at least boats must
come in sight. This is then for him but a transient seclusion; but
were he even condemned to eternal isolation, this isolation has ceased
to terrify him, he accepts it! Has he not almost always lived alone,
in spirit at least? When he was in the depths of the hold, was he not
better satisfied with his fate than when surrounded by those coarse
sailors who composed the worthy crew of the Swordfish?

To-day he is no longer the prisoner of Stradling, he is the prisoner
of God! and this thought reassures him.

A sailor, he has never loved but the sea; well! the sea surrounds him,
guards him! He has then only thanks to render to God.

Arrived at his grotto, he takes his Bible, opens it; but the sun,
suddenly sinking below the horizon, permits him to read only this
passage on which his finger is placed: 'Thou shalt perish in thy


Labors of the Colonist.--His Study.--Fishing.--Administration.
--Selkirk Island.--The New Prometheus.--What is wanting to Happiness.
--Encounter with Marimonda.--Monologue.

Three months have passed away.

Thanks to Selkirk, the shore which received him at his disembarkation,
presents to-day an aspect not only picturesque, but animated. The hand
of man has made itself felt there.

The bushes and tufts of trees which hid the view of the hills in the
distance, have been uprooted and cut down; pretty paths, covered with
gravel, wind over the vast lawn; one in the direction of the valleys
at the right, another towards the mountains at the left; a third leads
to a tall mimosa, whose topmost boughs and dense foliage spread out
like a parasol. A wooden bench, composed of some round sticks, driven
into the earth, with branches interwoven and covered with bark,
surrounds it; a rustic table, constructed in the same manner, stands
at the foot of the tree. This is the study and place of meditation of
the exile; here also he comes to take his meals, in sight of the sea.

All three paths terminate in the grotto which Selkirk continues to
make his residence. This grotto he has enlarged, quarried out with his
hatchet, to make room for himself, his furniture, and provisions. He
has even attempted to decorate its exterior with a bank of turf, and
several species of creeping plants, trained to cover its calcareous
nudity. At the entrance of his habitation, rise two young palm-trees,
transplanted there by him, to serve as a portico. But nature is not
always obedient to man; the vines and palm-trees do not prosper in
their new location, and now the long flexible branches of the one, and
the broad leaves of the other, droop half withered above the grotto,
which they disfigure rather than decorate.

By constant care, and with the aid of his streams, Selkirk hopes to be
able to restore them to life and health. He has imposed on his two
streams another duty, that of supplying a bed of water-cresses and a
fish-pond, both provident establishments, the first of which has
succeeded perfectly. As for the second, his most arduous task has
been, not to dig the fish-pond, but to people it. For this purpose he
has been compelled to become a fisherman, to manufacture a net. He has
succeeded, with some threads from his fragment of a sail, the fibres
of his cocoa-nuts, and tough reeds, woven in close meshes;
unfortunately those fine fishes, breams, eels and angel-fish, which
show themselves so readily through the limpid wave, are not as easy to
catch as to see. Under the surface, almost at a level with the water,
there is a ledge of rocks, upon which the net cannot be managed. After
several fruitless attempts, he is obliged to content himself with the
insignificant employment of fishing with a line; a nail flattened,
sharpened and bent, performs the office of a hook. Success ensues, but
only with time and patience; fortunately the sea-crabs allow
themselves to be caught with the hand, and the fish-pond does not long
remain useless and deserted.

Besides, has not our fortunate Selkirk the resource of hunting? The
chase he had commenced generously, like a wise monarch, who wages war
only for the general interest. It is true, that as it happens with
most wise monarchs, his own private interest is also to be consulted,
at least he thinks so.

Wild cats existed in the island, destroying young broods, agoutis, and
other small game; he has almost entirely rid it of these pirates,
reserving to himself only the right of levying upon his subjects the
tribute of blood. He has already signalized his administration by acts
of an entirely different nature.

This king without a people, is ignorant in what part of the great
ocean, and at what distance from its shores, is situated his nameless

Armed with his spy-glass, by the aid of his nautical charts, he
attempts to ascertain, by the position of the stars, its longitude and
latitude. He at first believes himself to be in one of the islands
forming the group of Chiloe; his calculations rectified, he afterwards
thinks it the Island of Juan Fernandez, then San Ambrosio, or San
Felix. Unable to determine the location exactly, for want of correct
instruments, he persuades himself that the country he inhabits has
never been surveyed, that it is really a land without a name, and he
gives it his own; he calls it Selkirk Island.

Ambitious youth, thou hast thus realized one of thy brightest dreams!
Dost thou remember the day when, on the way from Largo to St. Andrew,
to join William Dampier, thou didst already see thyself the chief of a
new country, discovered and baptized by thee?

Well! has he not more than discovered this country? He inhabits it, he
governs it, he reigns in it! Not satisfied with giving his name to the
island, he soon creates a special nomenclature for its various
localities. To the shore upon which he landed, he gives the name of
_Swordfish Beach_; the pile of white and red rocks, which he saw
through the fog, is the _False Coquimbo_; he calls _Toucan Forest_,
the wood where he saw that bird for the first time; the _Defile of
Attack_, is that where Marimonda assaulted him with stones; upon these
arid rocks, furrowed by deep ravines and abounding in precipices, he
has imposed the odious name of _Stradling_! In his mountains he has
the _Oasis_; it is a little shady valley, enlivened by the murmur of a
streamlet, and with one extremity opening to the sea. There he often
goes to watch the game and the goats, which come to drink at the
brook. Above it rises the table-land, with difficulty scaled by him on
the day of his arrival, and from whence he became convinced that he
had landed on an island. This table-land, he has named _The

The two streams which meander over his lawn, and before his grotto,
have also received names. This, commissioned to feed the fish-pond,
and which gently warbles through the grass, he calls _The Linnet_; the
other, interrupted by little cascades, and whose course is more rapid
and impetuous, he calls _The Stammerer_.

He has now destroyed the noxious animals, administered government,
opened ways of communication, given a name to every part of his
island. How many great rulers have done no more!

But his labors have not been confined to his fish-pond, his bed of
water-cresses, his hunting, fishing, building, felling of trees; it
has become necessary to procure that essential element of
civilization, of comfort, fire.

What could the opulent proprietor of this enchanting abode do without
fire? Is it not necessary, if he would open a passage through the
dense woods? Is it not indispensable to his kitchen? Some of his
trees, it is true, afford fruits in abundance; but most of these
fruits are of a dry and woody nature; besides, young and vigorous,
easily acquiring an appetite by labor and exercise, can he content
himself with a dinner which is only a dessert? Surrounded with fishes
of all colors, with feathered and other game, must he then be reduced
to dispute with the agoutis, their maripa-nuts?

He reflects; armed with a bit of iron, he strikes the flinty rocks of
the mountains, to elicit from them useless sparks. He then remembers
that savages obtain fire without flint and matches, by the friction of
two pieces of dry wood; he tries, but in vain; he exhausts the
strength of his arms, without being discouraged; he tries each tree,
wishing even that a thunderbolt might strike the island, if it would
leave there a trace of burning. At last, almost discouraged, he
attacks the pimento-myrtle;[1] he recommences his customary efforts of
rubbing. The twigs grow warm with the friction; a little white smoke
appears, fluttering to and fro between his hands, rapid and trembling
with emotion. The flame bursts forth! He utters a cry of triumph, and,
hastily collecting other twigs and dry reeds, he leaps for joy around
his fire, which, like another Prometheus, he has just stolen, not from
heaven, but from earth!

[Footnote 1: _Myrtus aromatica_; its berries are known under the name
of Jamaica pepper.]

Afterwards, in his gratitude, he runs to the myrtle, embraces it,
kisses it. An act of folly, perhaps; perhaps an act of gratitude,
which ascended higher than the topmost branches of the trees, higher
than the culminating summits of the mountains of the island.

But this fire, must he, each time he may need it, go through the same
tedious process? Not far from his grotto, in a cavity which a
projecting rock protects from the sea breeze, he piles up wood and
brush, sets fire to it, keeps it alive from time to time, by the
addition of combustibles, and comprehends why, among primitive
nations, the earliest worship should have been that of fire; why, from
Zoroaster to the Vestals, the care of preserving it should have been
held sacred.

At a later period, in the ordinary course of things, he simplified his
means of preservation. With some threads and the fat of his game, he
contrived a lamp; still later, he had oil, and reeds served him for

Dating from this moment, the entire island paid tribute to him; the
crabs, the eels, the flesh of the agouti, savory like that of the
rabbit, by turns figured on his table. When he seasoned them with some
morsels of pork, substituting ship biscuit for bread, his repasts were
fit for an admiral.

Although the goats had become wild, like the other inhabitants of the
island, since all had learned the nature of man, and of the thunder,
which he directed at his will, Selkirk still surprised them within
gun-shot. Not only was their flesh profitable for food; their horns,
long and hollow, served to contain powder and other small articles
necessary to his house-keeping; of their skins he made carpets,
coverings, and bags to protect his provisions from dampness. He even
manufactured a game-pouch, which he constantly carried when hunting.

His salt fish, his biscuit, some well smoked quarters of goat's flesh,
and the productions of his fish-pond, at present constitute a store on
which he can live for a long time, without any care, but to ameliorate
his condition.

He is now in possession of all the enjoyments he has coveted,
abundance, leisure, absolute freedom.

And yet, his brow is sometimes clouded, and an unaccountable
uneasiness torments him; something seems wanting; his appetite fails,
his courage grows feeble, his reveries are painfully prolonged. But,
by mature reflection, he has discovered the cause of the evil.

What is it that is so essential to his happiness? Tobacco.

Our factitious wants often exercise over us a more tyrannical empire,
than our real ones; it seems as if we clung with more force and
tenacity to this second nature, because we have ourselves created it;
it originates in us; the other originates with God, and is common to

Selkirk now persuades himself that tobacco alone is wanting to his
comfort; it is this privation which throws him into these sorrowful
fits of languor. If Stradling had only given him a good stock of
tobacco, he would have pardoned all; he no longer feels courage to
hate him. What to him imports the plenty which surrounds him, if he
has no tobacco? of what use is his leisure, if he cannot spend it in
smoking? what avails even this fire, which he has just conquered, if
he is prevented from lighting his pipe at it?

Careworn and dissatisfied, he was wandering one morning through his
domains, with his gun on his shoulder, his hatchet at his belt, when
he perceived something dancing on a point of land, shadowed by tall

It was Marimonda.

At sight of her enemy, she darted lightly and rapidly behind a woody
hillock. An instant afterwards, he saw her tranquilly seated on the
topmost branch of a tree, holding in each of her hands fruits which
she was alternately striking against the branch, and against each
other, to break their tough envelope.

The sight of Marimonda has always awakened in Selkirk a sentiment of
repulsion; she not only reminds him of Stradling, but with her
withered cheeks, projecting jaw, and especially her dancing motion, he
now imagines that she resembles him; and yet, pausing before her, he
contemplates her not without a lively emotion of surprise and

He had already encountered her within gun-shot, when engaged in the
destruction of the wild cats, and had asked himself whether he should
not reckon her among noxious animals. But then Marimonda, with her
hand constantly pressed against her side, was with the other seizing
various herbs, which she tasted, bruised between her teeth, and
applied to her wound; useless remedies, doubtless, for, grown meagre,
her hair dull and bristling, she seemed to have but a few days to
live, and Selkirk thought her not worth a charge of powder and shot.

And here he finds her alert and healthy, holding in the same hand
which had served as a compress, no longer the plant necessary for her
cure, but the fruit desirable for her sustenance.

'What,' said Selkirk to himself, 'in an island where this frightful
monkey has never before been, she has succeeded in finding without
difficulty the _herba sacra_, that which has restored her to health
and strength! and I, Selkirk, who have studied at one of the principal
universities of Scotland, I am vainly sighing for the plant which
would suffice to render me completely happy! Is instinct then superior
to reason? To believe this, would be ingratitude to Providence.
Instinct is necessary, indispensable to animals, because they cannot
benefit by the traditions of their ancestors. The monkey has consulted
her instinct, and it has inspired her; if I consult reason, what will
be her counsel? She will advise me to do like the monkey; to seek the
herb of which I feel so great a want, or at least to endeavor to
substitute for it something analogous; to choose, try, and taste, in
short, to follow the example of Marimonda! I will not fail to do so;
but it is nature reversed, and, for a man, it is too humiliating to
see himself reduced to imitate a monkey!'


The Hammock.--Poison.--Success.--A Calm under the Tropics.--Invasion
of the Island.--War and Plunder.--The Oasis.--The Spy-Glass.

Do you see, upon a carpet of fresh verdure, the sandy margin of which
is bathed by a caressing wave, that hammock suspended to the branches
of those fine trees? What happy mortal, during the heat of the day, is
there gently rocked, gently refreshed, by a light sea breeze? It is
Selkirk; and this hammock is his sail, attached to his tall myrtles by
strips of goat-skin. Perhaps he is resting after the fatigues of the
day? No, it is the day of the Lord, and Selkirk now can consecrate the
Sabbath to repose. With his eyes half closed, he is inhaling,
undoubtedly, the perfume of his myrtles, the soft fragrance of his
heliotropes? No, something sweeter still pre-occupies him. Is he
dreaming of his friends in Scotland, of his first love? He has never
known friendship, and the beautiful Catherine is far from his memory.
What is he then doing in his hammock? He is smoking his pipe.

His pipe! Has he a pipe? He has them of all forms, all sizes--made of
spiral shells of various kinds, of maripa-nuts, of large reeds; all
set in handles of myrtle, stalks of coarse grain, or the hollow bones
of birds. In these he is luxurious; he has become a connoisseur; but
this has not been the difficulty. Before every thing else, tobacco was

In consequence of his encounter with Marimonda, he ransacked the woods
and meadows, seeking among all plants those which approximated nearest
to the nature of the nicotiana. As it was necessary to judge by their
taste, he bit their leaves--chewed them, still in imitation of the
monkey: but, to his new and profound humiliation, less skilful or less
fortunate than the latter, he obtained at first no other result than a
sort of poisoning: one of these plants being poisonous.

For several days he saw himself condemned to absolute repose and a
spare diet. His mouth, swollen, excoriated, refused all nourishment;
his throat was burning; his body was covered with an eruption, and his
languid and trembling limbs scarcely permitted him to drag himself to
the stream to quench there the thirst by which he was devoured.

He believed himself about to die; and grief then imposing silence on
pride, with his eyes turned towards the sea, he allowed a
long-repressed sigh to escape his heart. It was a regret for his
absent country.

Very soon these alarming symptoms disappeared; his strength returned;
his water-cresses and wild sorrel completed the cure. Would he have
dared to ask it of the other productions of his island? He had become
suspicious of nature; these, at least, he had long known.

Scarcely had he recovered, when the want of tobacco made itself felt
anew with more force than ever. What to him imports experiment, what
imports danger? Is it not to procure this precious, indispensable
herb,--which the world had easily done without for thousands of years?

This time, nevertheless, become more prudent, he no longer addresses
himself to the sense of taste; but to odor, to that of smell. He has
resolved to dry the different plants which appear to him most proper
for the use to which he destines them, and to submit them afterwards
to a trial by fire. Will not the smoke which escapes from them easily
enable him to discover the qualities which he requires, since it is in
smoke that they are to evaporate, if he succeeds in his researches?

Of this grand collection of aromatics, two plants, at last, come off
victorious. One is the petunia, that charming flower which at present
decorates all our gardens, whence the enemies of tobacco may one day
banish it; so it is only with trembling that I here announce its
relationship to the nicotiana; the other, which, like the petunia,
grows in profusion in the islands as well as on the continent of
Southern America, is the herb _coca_, improperly so called, for its
precious leaves, which are to the natives of Peru and Chili, what the
_betel_ is for the Indians of Malabar, grow on an elegant shrub.[1]

[Footnote 1: The _erythroxylum coca_.]

These two plants, separately or together, composed, thanks to a slight
amalgam of chalk, sea-water, and bruised pepper-corns, the most
delicious tobacco.

Now, half awake, Selkirk smokes, as he busies himself with
constructing some necessary article, such as a ladder, a stool, a
basket of rushes, with which he is completing the furniture of his
house; he smokes while fishing, and while hunting; on his return to
his dwelling, he lies down at the entrance of his grotto, on his bank
of turf, re-lights his pipe at his fire, and smokes; at the hour of
breakfast or of dinner, seated beneath the shade of his mimosa, his
elbow on the table, his Bible open before him, he smokes still.

Well! notwithstanding these pleasures so long desired, notwithstanding
this addition to his comfort, notwithstanding his pipe, this vague
uneasiness sometimes assails him anew.

He ascribes it to enfeebled health; and yet he remains active and
vigorous; he ascribes it to the powerful odors of certain trees which
affect his brain. These trees he destroys around him, but his
uneasiness continues; he ascribes it to his food, the insipidity of
the fish which he has eaten without salt, since his quarter of pork is
consumed, and his stores of pickled fish exhausted. In fact, the flesh
of fish has for some time given him a nausea, occasioned frequent
indigestions; he renounces it; his stomach recovers its tone; but his
fits of torpor and melancholy continue.

This state of suffering is most painful at those moments of profound
calm, common between the tropics, when the birds are silent, when from
the thickets and burrows issue no murmurs, when the insect seems to
sleep within the closed corollas of the flowers; when the leaves of
the mimosa fold themselves; when the tree-tops are not swayed by the
slightest breath of air, and the sea, motionless, ceases to dash
against the shore. What an inexpressible weight such a silence adds to
isolation! And yet it is not an unbroken silence, for then a shrill
and harsh sound seems to grate upon the ear. It is as if in this
muteness of nature, one could hear the motion of the earth on its
axis; then, above his head, in the depths of immensity, the whirling
of the celestial spheres and myriads of worlds which gravitate in
space. Thought becomes troubled and exhausted before this overwhelming
and terrible immobility, and the man who, at such a moment, cannot
have recourse to his kind, to distract or re-assure him, is
overpowered with his own insignificance.

Sometimes the solitary calls on himself to break this oppressive and
painful silence; he articulates a few words aloud, and his voice
inspires him with fear; it seems formidable and unnatural.

During one of these sinister calms, in which every thing in creation
seemed to pause, even the heart of man, seated on the shore, not
having even strength to smoke, Selkirk was vainly awaiting the evening
breeze; nothing came, but the obscurity of night. The moon, delaying
her appearance, submitting in her turn to the sluggishness of all
things, seemed detained below the circle of the horizon by some fatal
power; the sea was dull, gloomy, and as it were congealed.

Suddenly, though there was not a breath of air, Selkirk saw at his
right, on a vast but limited tract of ocean, the waves violently
agitated and foaming. He thought he distinguished a multitude of
barques and canoes furrowing the surface of the waters; not far from
Swordfish Beach, the flotilla enters a little cove running up into the

He no longer sees any thing; but he hears a frightful tumult of
discordant cries.

There is no room for doubt! some Indian tribes, pursued perhaps by new
conquerors from Europe, have just disembarked on the shore. Wo to him!
he can hope from them neither pity nor mercy. A cold sweat bathes his
forehead; he runs to his grotto, takes his gun, puts in his goatskin
pouch some horns of powder and shot, a piece of smoked meat, not
forgetting his Bible! and passes the night wandering in the woods, in
the mountains, a prey to a thousand terrors; hearing without cessation
the steps of pursuers behind him, and seeing fiery eyes glaring at him
through the thickets.

At day-break, with a thousand precautions, he returns to his grotto.
He finds the beach covered with seals.

These were the enemies whose invasion had so alarmed him.

It is now the middle of the month of February, the period of the
greatest tropical heats, and these amphibia, having left the shores of
Chili or Peru, are accomplishing one of their periodical migrations.
They have just taken possession of the island, one of their accustomed
stations. But the island has now a master.

Where he expected to encounter a peril, Selkirk finds amusement, a
subject of study, perhaps a resource.

A long time ago he has read, in the narratives of voyagers, singular
stories concerning these marine animals, these _lions_, these
_sea-elephants_, flocks of old Neptune, who have their chiefs, their
pacha; who are acquainted with and practise the discipline of war;
stationing vigilant sentinels in the spots they occupy, communicating
to each other a pass-word, and attentive to the _Qui vive_?

He spies them, he watches them, he takes pleasure in examining their
grotesque forms,--half quadruped, half fish; their feet encased in a
sort of web, and terminated by crooked claws, with which they creep on
the earth; their skins, covered with short and glossy hair; their
round heads and eyes.

He is a witness of their sports, their combats; but very soon their
frightful roaring and bellowing annoys him, and makes him regret the
silence of his solitude. Another cause of complaint against them soon

One morning, Selkirk finds his fish-pond and bed of water-cresses

Exasperated, he declares war against the invaders: during three days
he tracks them, pursues them; ten of them fall beneath his balls,
leaving the shore bathed in their blood. The rest at last take flight,
and the army of seals, regaining the sea with despairing cries, goes
to establish itself at the other extremity of the island.

This war has been profitable to the conqueror. With the skin of the
vanquished he makes himself a new hammock, which permits him to employ
his sail for other uses; he also makes leather bottles, in which he
preserves the oil which he extracts in abundance from their fat. Now
he can have a lamp constantly burning, even by night. He has all the
comforts of life. Of the hairy skin of the seals, he manufactures a
broad-brimmed hat, which shields him from the burning rays of the sun.
He tastes their flesh; it appears to him insipid and nauseous, like
that of the fish; but the tongue, the heart, seasoned with pepper, are
for him quite a luxury.

Days, weeks, months roll away in the same toils, the same recreations.
Whatever he may do to drive it away, this apathetic sadness, this
sinking of soul, which has already tormented him at different periods,
becomes with Selkirk more and more frequent; he cannot conquer it as
he did the seals. His seals, he now regrets. When they were encamped
on the shore, they at least gave him something to look at, an
amusement; something lived, moved, near him.

When he finds himself a prey to these fits, which, in his pride, he
persists in attributing to transient indisposition, he goes to walk in
the mountains, taking with him only his pipe, his Bible, and his

He often pursues his journey as far as the oasis; there, he seats
himself at the extremity of the little valley, opposite the sea, from
which his eye can traverse its immense extent. He opens the holy book,
and closes it immediately; then, his brow reddening, he seizes his
spy-glass, levels it, and remains entire hours measuring the ocean,
wave by wave.

What is he looking for there? He seeks a sail, a sail which shall come
to his island and bear him from his desert, from his _ennui_. His
_ennui_ he can no longer dissimulate; this is the evil of his

One day, while he was at this spot, the setting sun suddenly
illuminated a black point, against which the waves seemed to break in
foam, as against the prow of a ship; his eyes become dim, a tremor
seizes him. He looks again--keeps his glass for a long time fixed on
the same object, but the black point does not stir.

'Another illusion!' said he to himself; 'it is a reef, a rock which
the tide has left bare.'

He wipes the glasses of his spy-glass, he examines again; he seems to
see the waves whiten and whirl for a large space around this rock.

'Can it be an island? If an island, is it inhabited? I will construct
a barque, and if God has pity on me I will reach it.'

At this moment he hears footsteps resound on the dry leaves which the
wind has swept into the little valley. He turns hastily.

It is Marimonda.

Marimonda has no longer her lively and dancing motions; she also seems
languid, sad. At sight of Selkirk, she makes a movement as if to flee;
but almost immediately advances a little, and, sorrowful, with bent
brow, sits down on a bank not far from him.

Has she then remarked that he is without arms?

On his side, Selkirk who had not met her for a long time, seemed to
have forgotten his former aversion.

At all events, is she not the most intelligent being chance has placed
near him? He remembers that, in the ship, she obeyed the voice, the
gesture of the captain, and that her tricks amused the whole crew.
This resemblance to the human form, which he at first disliked, now
awakens in him ideas of indulgence and peace. He reproaches himself
with having treated her so brutally, when the poor animal, who alone
had accompanied him into exile, at first accosted him with a caress.
And now she returns, laying aside all ill-will, forgetting even the
wound which she received from him in an impulse of irritation and
hatred, of which she was not the object, for which she ought not to be

He therefore makes to her a little sign with the head.

Marimonda replies by winks of the eye and motions of the shoulders,
which Selkirk thinks not wholly destitute of grace.

He rises and approaches her, saluting her with an amicable gesture.

She awaits him, chattering with her teeth and lips with an expression
of joy.

Selkirk gently passes his hand over her forehead and neck, calling her
by name; then he starts for his habitation, and Marimonda follows him.
The man and the monkey have just been reconciled. Both were tired of
their isolation.


A Tete-a-tete.--The Monkey's Goblet.--The Palace.--A Removal.--Winter
under the Tropics--Plans for the Future.--Property.--A burst of
Laughter.--Misfortune not far off.

Tranquility of mind has returned to our solitary; now, his reveries
are more pleasant and less prolonged; his walks through the woods, his
moments of repose during the heat of the day seem more endurable since
_something_, besides his shadow, keeps him company; he has resumed his
taste for labor since there is _somebody_ to look at him; speech has
returned to him since _somebody_ replies to his voice. This
_somebody_, this _something_, is Marimonda.

Marimonda is now the companion of Selkirk, his friend, his slave; she
seems to comprehend his slightest gestures and even his _ennui_. To
amuse him, she resorts to a thousand expedients, a thousand tricks of
the agility peculiar to her race; she goes, she comes, she runs, she
leaps, she bounds, she chatters at his side; she tries to people his
solitude, to make a rustling around him; she brings him his pipes,
rocks him in his hammock, and, for all these cares, all this
attention, demands only a caress, which is no longer refused.

She is often a spectator of her master's repasts; sometimes even
shares them. This was at first a favor, afterwards a habit, as in the
case of honest countrymen, who, secluded from the world, by degrees
admit their servants into their intimacy. Selkirk had not to fear the
importunate, unexpected visit of a neighbor or a curious stranger.

So it is in the open air, on the latticed table, in the shade of his
great mimosa, that these repasts in common take place; the master
occupies the bench, the servant humbly seats herself on the stool,
ready, at the first signal, to leave her place and assist in serving.
Have we not seen in India, ourang-outangs trained to perform the
office of domestics? and Marimonda was in nothing inferior in
intelligence and activity.

She is now fond of the flesh of the goat, of that of the coatis and
agoutis, for monkeys easily become carnivorous; but the table is also
sometimes covered with the products of her hunting. If the dessert
fails, she hastily interrupts her repast, leaves the master to
continue his alone, buries herself in the surrounding woods, reaches
in three bounds the tops of the trees, and quickly returns with a
supply of fruits which he can fearlessly taste, for she knows them.

Selkirk was one day a witness of the singular facility with which she
could supply her wants.

At the morning repast, seeing him use one of his cocoa-nuts which he
had fashioned in the form of a cup to drink from; in her instinct of
imitation, she had attempted to seize the cup in her turn; a look of
reprimand stopped her short in her attempt. Whether she felt a species
of humiliation at being forced to quench her thirst in the presence of
her master, by going to the banks of the stream and lapping there,
like a vulgar animal; or whether the reprimand had painfully affected
her, she abstained from drinking and remained for some time quiet and
dreamy; but at the following repast, with lifted head and sparkling
eye she resumed her place on the stool, provided with a goblet, a
goblet belonging to her, lawfully obtained by her, and, with an air of
triumph presented it to Selkirk, who, wondering, did not hesitate an
instant to share with the monkey the water contained in his gourd.

This goblet was the ligneous and impermeable capsule, the fruit,
naturally and deeply hollowed out, of a tree called _quatela_.[1] It
was thus that the intelligent Marimonda, after having borrowed from
the numerous vegetables of the island their leaves, to ameliorate her
sufferings, to heal her wounds; their fruits for her nourishment and
even for her sports, also found means to obtain the divers utensils
for house-keeping of which she stood in need.

[Footnote 1: The _lecythis quatela_, of the family of the
_lecythidees_, created by Professor Richard, and whose singular fruits
bear, in Peru as well as in Chili, the denomination of _monkey's

Charmed with her gentleness, her docility, the affection she seemed to
bear him, Selkirk grew more and more attached to her. Winter, that is,
the rainy season which usually lasts in these regions during the
months of June and July, was approaching; he suffered in anticipation,
from the idea that during this time his gentle companion would not be
able to retain her habitual shelter, beneath the foliage of the trees;
he conceived the project of giving up to her his grotto, and
constructing for himself a new habitation, spacious and commodious. It
is thus that our most generous resolutions, whatever we may design to
do, encountering in their way personal interest, often turn to the
increase of our own private welfare.

At a little distance from the grotto, but farther inland, on the banks
of the stream called the _Linnet_, there was a thicket of verdure
shaded by five myrtles of from fifteen to twenty feet in height, and
whose stems presented a diameter more than sufficient to insure the
solidity of the edifice. Four of these myrtles formed an irregular
square; the fifth arose in the midst, or nearly so; but our architect
is not very particular. He already sees the principal part of his
frame; the myrtles will remain in their places, their roots serving as
a foundation. He removes the shrubs, the plants, the brushwood from
the thicket, leaving only a heliotrope which, at a later period, may
twine around his house and at evening shed its perfumes. He has become
reconciled to its fragrance. He trims the trees, cuts off their tops
eight feet above the ground, leaving the middle one, which is to
sustain the roof, a foot higher; for this roof reeds and palm-leaves
furnish all the materials. The walls, made of a solid network of young
branches interwoven, and plastered with a mixture of sand, clay, and
chopped rushes, he takes care not to build quite to the top, but to
leave between them and the roof a little space, where the air can
circulate freely through a light trellis formed of branches of the
blue willow.

Then, having finished his work in less than a fortnight, he
contemplates it and admires it; Marimonda herself seems to share in
his admiration, and in her joy climbing up the new building, she
begins to leap, to dance on the roof of foliage, which bears her, and
thus gives to Selkirk an additional triumph.

He now proceeds to furnish his palace; he transports thither his bed
of reeds and his goatskin coverings. How much better will he be
sheltered here than under the gloomy vault of his grotto! How has he
been able to content himself so long with such an abode, more suitable
for a troglodyte or a monkey! He will no longer be obliged to lift up
his curtain of vines, and to peep through the fans of his palm-trees,
in order to behold the beneficent rays of the new-born day; they will
come of themselves to find him and rejoice him at his awakening, as
the sea-breezes will at evening breathe on him, to refresh him in his

Already has the interior of his cabin, of his palace, assumed an
aspect which charms him; his guns, his hatchets, his spy-glass, his
instruments of labor, well polished and shining, suspended in racks,
upon wooden pegs, decorate the walls; upon another partition, his
assortment of pipes are arranged on a shelf according to their size;
on his central pillar, he suspends his game-bag, his gourd, his
tobacco-pouch, and various articles of daily use. As for his iron pot,
his smoked meat, his stock of skins, and bottles of seal-oil, he
leaves them under the guardianship of Marimonda in the grotto which he
will now make his store-house, his kitchen: he will not encumber with
them his new dwelling.

He now sets himself to prepare new furniture; he will construct a
small portable table, two wooden seats, one for himself, the other for
Marimonda, when she comes from her grotto to visit his cabin; for he
has now a neighborhood. Besides, during the rainy season, they will be
forced to dine under cover.

The first rains have commenced, gentle, fertilizing rains, falling at
intervals and lovingly drank in by the earth; Selkirk no longer thinks
of his table and seats; another project has just taken the place of
these, and seems to deserve the precedence.

Marimonda has just returned from a tour in the woods, bringing fruits
of all sorts, among them some which Selkirk has never before seen. He
tastes them with more care and attention than usual; then, becoming
thoughtful, with his chin resting on his hand says to himself: 'Why
should I not make these fruits grow at my door, not far from my
habitation? Why should I not attempt to improve them by cultivation?
This is a very simple and very prudent idea which should have occurred
to me long since; but I was alone, absolutely alone; and one loses
courage when thinking of self only. A garden, at once an orchard and a
vegetable garden, will be at least as useful to me as my fish-pond and
bed of water-cresses; I will make one around my cabin; it will set it
off and give it a more home-like appearance! Is not the stream placed
here expressly to traverse it and water it? Afterwards, if God assist
me, I will raise little kids which will become goats and give me milk,
butter, cheese! Why have I not thought of this before? It would have
been too much to have undertaken at once. I shall then have tame
goats; I will also have Guinea-pigs, agoutis, and coatis. My house
shall be enlarged, I will have a farm, a dairy! But the time has not
yet come; let us first prepare the garden. Why has it not been already
prepared? I am impatient to render the earth productive, fruitful by
my cares, to walk in the shade of the trees I may plant; it seems to
me that I shall be at home there, more than any where else!'

You are right, Selkirk; to possess the entire island, is to possess
nothing; it is simply to have permission to hunt, a right of promenade
and pasture, which the other inhabitants of the island, quadrupeds or
birds, can claim as well as yourself. What is property, without the
power of improvement? Can the earth become the domain of a single
person, when the true limits of his possessions must always be those
of the field which affords him subsistence? Envy not then the
happiness of the rich; they are but the transient holders and
distributors of the public fortune; we possess, in reality, only that
which we can ourselves enjoy; the rest escapes us, and contributes to
the well-being of others.

Selkirk comprehends that his streams, his bank of turf, his fish-pond,
his bed of water-cresses, his grotto, his cabin, belong to him far
otherwise than the twelve or fifteen square leagues of his island; to
his private domain he now intends to add a garden, and this garden,
this orchard, will be to him an increase of his wealth, since it will
aid in the satisfaction of his wants.

The humidity with which the earth begins to be penetrated, facilitates
his labors; he sets himself to the work.

Behold him then, now armed with his hatchet, now with a wooden shovel,
which he has just manufactured, clearing the ground, digging,
transplanting young fruit-trees, or sowing the seeds which he is soon
to see spring up and prosper. Every thing grows rapidly in these

When the garden-spot is marked out, dug, sown, planted, not forgetting
the kitchen vegetables, and especially the _coca_ and
_petunia-nicotiana_, Selkirk, with his arms folded on his spade,
thanks God with all his heart,--God who has given him strength to
finish his work.

He has never felt so happy as when, with his hands behind his back, he
walks smoking, among his beds, in which nothing has as yet appeared;
but he already sees, in a dream, his trees covered with blossoms;
around these blossoms are buzzing numerous swarms of bees; he reflects
upon the means of compelling them to yield the honey of which they
have just stolen from him the essence. It is a settled thing, on his
farm he will have hives! After his bees, still in his dream, come
flocks of humming-birds to plunder in their turn. The happy possessor
of the garden will exact no tribute from them, but the pleasure of
seeing them suspend, by a silken thread, to the leaves of his shrubs,
the elegant little boat in which they cradle their fragile brood.
Nothing seems to him more beautiful than his embryo garden; here, he
is more than the monarch of the island; he is a proprietor!

Thanks to the garden, Selkirk sees with resignation the two long
months of the rainy season pass away. When the heavy torrents render
the paths impassable, he consoles himself by thinking that they aid in
the germination of his seeds, in the rooting of his young plants.
Sometimes, between two deluges, he can scarcely find time to procure
himself sufficient game; what matters it! he lives on his provisions:
he is forcibly detained within; but has he not now good cheer, good
company, and occupation, during his leisure hours?

It is now that he completes his furniture. His table and his seats
finished, he undertakes to provide for another want, equally

Worn out by the weather, and by service, his garments are becoming
ragged. He must shield himself from the humidity of the air; where
shall he procure materials? Has he not the choice between seal-skins
and goat-skins? He gives the preference to the latter, as more
pliable, and behold him a tailor, cutting with the point of his knife;
as for thread, it is furnished by the fragment of the sail; and two
days afterwards, he finds himself flaming in a new suit.

To describe the delirious stupefaction of Marimonda, when she
perceives her master under this strange costume, would be a thing
impossible. She finds him almost like herself, clad like her, in a
hairy suit. Never tired of looking at him, of examining him curiously,
she leaps, she gambols around him, now rolling at his feet, and
uttering little cries of joy, now suspended over his head, at the top
of the central pillar, and turning her wild and restless eyes. When
she has thus inspected him from head to foot, she runs and crouches in
a corner, with her face towards the wall, as if to reflect; then,
whirling about, returns towards him, picks up on the way the garment
he has just laid aside, looking alternately at this and at the other,
very anxious to know which of the two really made a part of the

After having enjoyed for a few moments the surprise and transports of
his companion, Selkirk takes his Bible and his pipe, and, placing the
book on the table, bends over it, preparing to read and to meditate.
But, whether in consequence of her joyous excitement, or whether she
is emboldened by the species of fraternity which costume establishes
between them, Marimonda, without hesitation, directs herself to the
little shelf, chooses from it a pipe in her turn, places it gravely
between her lips, astonished at not seeing the smoke issue from it in
a spiral column; and, with an important air, still imitating her
master, comes to sit opposite him, with her brow inclined, and her
elbow resting on the table.

Willingly humoring her whim, Selkirk takes the pipe from her hands,
fills it with his most spicy tobacco, lights it, and restores it to

Hardly has Marimonda respired the first breath, when suddenly letting
fall the pipe, overturning the table, emitting the smoke through her
mouth and nostrils, she disappears, uttering plaintive cries, as if
she had just tasted burning lava.

At sight of the poor monkey, thus thrown into confusion, Selkirk, for
the first time since his residence in the island, laughs so loudly,
that the echo follows the fugitive to the grotto, where she had taken
refuge, and is prolonged from the grotto to the _Oasis_, from the
Oasis to the summit of the _Discovery_.

The exile has at last laughed, laughed aloud, and, at the same moment,
a terrible disaster is taking place without his knowledge; a new war
is preparing for him, in which his arms will be useless.


A New Invasion.--Selkirk joyfully meets an ancient Enemy.--Combat on
a Red Cedar.--A Mother and her Little Ones.--The Flock.--Fete in the
Island; Pacific Combats, Diversions and Swings.--A Sail.--The Burning
Wood.--Presentiments of Marimonda.

The next morning the sun has scarcely touched the horizon, Selkirk is
still asleep, when he is awakened by a sort of tickling at his feet.
Thinking it some caress or trick of Marimonda, risen earlier than
usual, he half opens his eyes, sees nothing, and places himself again
in a posture to continue his nap. The same tickling is renewed, but
with more perseverance, and very soon something sharp and keen
penetrates to the quick the hard envelope of his heel. The tickling
has become a bite.

This time wide awake, he raises his head. His cabin is full of rats!

Near him, a company of them are tranquilly engaged in breakfasting on
his coverings and the rushes of his couch; they are on his table, his
seats, along his pillow and his walls; they are playing before his
door, running hither and thither through the crevices of his roof,
multiplying themselves on his rack and shelf; all biting, gnawing,
nibbling--some his seal-skin hat, his tobacco-pouch, the bark
ornaments of his furniture; others the handles of his tools, his
pipes, his Bible, and even his powder-horn.

Selkirk utters a cry, springs from his couch, and immediately crushes
two under his heels. The rest take flight.

As he is pursuing these new invaders with the shovel and musket, he
perceives at a few paces' distance Marimonda, sorrowful and drooping,
perched on the strong branch of a sapota-tree. By her piteous and
chilly appearance, her tangled and wet hair, he doubts not but she has
passed the whole night exposed to the inclemency of the weather. But
he at first attributes this whim only to her ill-humor the evening

On perceiving him, Marimonda descends, from her tree, sad, but still
gentle and caressing, and with gestures of terror, points to the
grotto. He runs thither.

Here another spectacle of disorder and destruction awaits him; the
rats are collected in it by thousands; his furs, his provisions of
fruit and game, his bottles formerly filled with oil, every thing is
sacked, torn in pieces, afloat; for the water has at last made its way
through the crevices of the mountain. To put the climax to his
misfortune, his reserve of powder, notwithstanding its double envelope
of leather and horn, attacked by the voracious teeth of his
aggressors, is swimming in the midst of an oily slime.

The solitary now possesses, for the purpose of hunting, for the
renewal of these provisions so necessary to his life, only the few
charges contained in his portable powder-horn, and in the barrels of
his guns. The blow which has just struck him is his ruin! and still
the hardest trial appointed for him is yet to come.

In penetrating the ground, the rains of winter have driven the rats
from their holes; hence their invasion of the cabin and the grotto.

Against so many enemies, what can Selkirk do, reduced to his single

He succeeds, nevertheless, in killing some; Marimonda herself, armed
with the branch of a tree, serves as an ally, and aids him in putting
them to flight; but their combined efforts are ineffectual. An hour
after, the accursed race are multiplying round him, more numerous and
more ravenous than ever.

He comprehends then what an error he has committed in the complete
destruction of the wild cats which peopled the island. With the most
generous intentions, how often is man mistaken in the object he
pursues! We think we are ridding us of an enemy, and we are depriving
ourselves of a protector. God only knows what he does, and he has
admitted apparent evil, as a principle, into the admirable composition
of his universe; he suffers the wicked to live. Selkirk had been more
severe than God, and he repents it. If his poor cats had only been
exiled, he would hasten to proclaim a general amnesty. Alas! there is
no amnesty with death. But has he indeed destroyed all? Perhaps some
still exist in those distant regions which have already served as a
refuge for that other banished race, the seals.

The rains have ceased; the storms of winter, always accompanied by
overpowering heat and dense fogs, no longer sadden the island by
anticipated darkness, or the gloomy mutterings of continual thunder.
The sun, though _garue_[1] absorbs the remainder of the inundation.
Followed by Marimonda, Selkirk, for the first time, has ventured to
the woods and thickets between the hills beyond the shore and the
False Coquimbo, when a sound, sweeter to his ear than would have been
the songs of a siren, makes him pause suddenly in ecstasy: it is the
mewing of a cat.

[Footnote 1: In Peru and Chili, they call _garua_ that mist which
sometimes, and especially after the rainy season, floats around the
disk of the sun.]

This cat, strongly built, with a spotted and glossy coat, white nose,
and brown whiskers, is stationed at a little distance, on a red cedar,
where she is undoubtedly watching her prey.

She is an old settler escaped from the general massacre; the last of
the vanquished; perhaps!

Without hesitation, Selkirk clasps the trunk of the tree, climbs it,
reaches the first branches; Marimonda follows him and quickly goes
beyond. At the aspect of these two aggressors, like herself clad in
skin, the cat recoils, ascending; the monkey follows, pursues her from
branch to branch, quite to the top of the cedar. Struck on the
shoulder with a blow of the claw, she also recoils, but descending,
and declaring herself vanquished in the first skirmish, immediately
gives over the combat, or rather the sport, for she has seen only
sport in the affair.

Selkirk is not so easily discouraged; this cat he must have, he must
have her alive; he wishes to make her the guardian of his cabin, his
protector against the rats. Three times he succeeds in seizing her;
three times the furious animal, struggling, tears his arms or face. It
is a terrible, bloody conflict, mingled with exclamations, growlings,
and frightful mewings. At last Selkirk, forgetting perhaps in the
ardor of combat the object of victory, seizes her vigorously by the
skin of the neck, at the risk of strangling her; with the other hand
he grasps her around the body. The difficulty is now to carry her.
Fortunately he has his game-bag. With one hand he holds her pressed
against the fork of the tree; with the other arm he reaches his
game-bag, opens it; the conquered animal, half dead, has not made,
during this manoeuvre, a single movement of resistance. But when the
hunter is about to close it, suddenly rousing herself with a leap,
distending by a last effort all her muscles at once, she escapes from
his grasp, and precipitates herself from the top of the cedar, to the
great terror of Marimonda, then peaceably crouched under the tree,
whom the cat brushes against in falling, and to the great
disappointment of Selkirk, who thinks he has the captive in his pouch.

Sliding along the trunk, Selkirk descends quickly to the ground; but
the enemy has already disappeared, and left no trace. In vain his eyes
are turned on all sides; he sees nothing, neither his adversary nor
Marimonda, who has undoubtedly fled under the impression of this last

As he is in despair, a whistling familiar to his ear is heard, and at
two hundred paces distant he perceives, on an eminence of the False
Coquimbo, his monkey, bent double, in an attitude of contemplation,
appearing very attentive to what is passing beneath her, and changing
her posture only to send a repeated summons to her master.

At all hazards he directs himself to this quarter.

What a spectacle awaits him! In a cavity at the foot of the eminence
where Marimonda is, he finds, crouching, still out of breath with her
struggle and her race, his fugitive. She is a mother! and six kittens,
already active, are rolling in the sun around her.

Selkirk, seizing his knife, kills the mother, and carries off the
little ones.

A short time after, the rats have deserted the shore. But their
departure, though it prevents the evil they might yet have done, does
not remedy that already accomplished.

The provisions of the solitary are almost entirely destroyed, and the
little powder which remains is scarcely sufficient for a reserve which
he no longer knows where to renew.

The moment at last comes when he possesses no other ammunition than
the only charge in his gun. This last charge, his last resource, oh!
how preciously he preserves it to-day. While it is there, he can still
believe himself armed, still powerful; he has not entirely exhausted
his resources; it is his last hope. Who knows?--perhaps he may yet
need it to protect his life in circumstances which he cannot foresee.

But since his gun must remain suspended, inactive, to the walls of his
cabin, it is time to think of supplying the place of the services it
has rendered; it is time to realize his dream, and, according to the
usual course of civilization, to substitute the life of a farmer and
shepherd for that of a hunter.

Already is his colony augmented by six new guests, domesticated in his
house; already, on every side, his seeds are peeping out of the ground
under the most favorable auspices; his young trees, firmly rooted, are
growing rapidly beneath the double influence of heat and moisture; at
the axil of some of their leaves, he sees a bud, an earnest of the
harvest. He must now occupy himself with the means of surprising,
seizing and retaining the ancestors of his future flock.

Here, patience, address or stratagem can alone avail.

Notwithstanding his natural agility, he does not dream of reaching
them by pursuit. Since his last hunts, goats and kids keep themselves
usually in the steep and mountainous parts of the island. To leap from
rock to rock, to attempt to vie with them in celerity and lightness
appears to him, with reason, a foolish and impracticable enterprise.
Later, perhaps,... Who knows?

He manufactures snares, traps; but suspicion is now the order of the
day around him; each holds himself on the _qui vive_. After long
waiting without any result, he finds in his snares a coati, some
little Guinea pigs; here is one resource, undoubtedly, but he aims at
higher game, and the kids will not allow themselves to be taken by his

He remembers then, that in certain parts of America, the hunters, in
order to seize their prey living, have recourse to the lasso, a long
cord terminated by a slip-noose, which they know how to throw at great
distances, and almost always with certainty.

With a thread which he obtains from the fibres of the aloe, with
narrow strips of skin, closely woven, he composes a lasso more than
fifty feet long; he tries it; he exercises it now against a tuft of
leaves detached from a bush, now against some projecting rock;
afterwards he tries it upon Marimonda, who often enough, by her
agility and swiftness, puts her master at fault.

In the interval of these preparatory exercises, Selkirk occupies
himself with the construction of a latticed inclosure, destined to
contain the flock which he hopes to possess; he makes it large and
spacious, that his young cattle may bound and sport at their ease;
high, that they may respect the limits he assigns them. In one corner,
supported by solid posts, he builds a shed, simply covered with
branches; that his flock may there be sheltered from the heat of the
day. The inclosure and the shed, together with his garden, form a new
addition to his great settlement.

When, his kids shall have become goats, when the epoch of domesticity
shall have arrived for them, when they shall have contracted habits of
tameness, when they have learned to recognize his voice, then, and
then only, will he permit them to wander and browse on the neighboring
hills, under the direction of a vigilant guardian. This guardian,
where shall he find? Why may it not be Marimonda? Marimonda, to whose
intelligence he knows not where to affix bounds!

Dreams, dreams, perhaps! and yet but for dreams, but for those gentle
phantoms which he creates, and by which he surrounds himself, what
would sustain the courage of the solitary?

When Selkirk thinks he has acquired skill in the use of the lasso, he
buries himself among the high mountains situated towards the central
part of his island. Several days pass amid fruitless attempts, and
when the delicately-carved foliage of the mimosa announces, by its
folding, that night is approaching, he regains his cabin, gloomy,
care-worn, and despairing of the future.

Meanwhile, by his very failures, he has acquired experience. One
evening, he returns to his dwelling, bringing with him two young kids,
with scarcely perceptible horns, and reddish skin, varied with large
brown spots. Marimonda welcomes her new guests, and this evening all
in the habitation breathes joy and tranquillity.

The week has not rolled away, when the number of Selkirk's goats
exceeds that of his cats; and he takes pleasure in seeing them leap
and play together in his inclosure; his mind has recovered its

'Yes,' said he, with pride, 'man can suffice for himself, can depend
on himself only for subsistence and welfare! Am I not a striking
proof? Did not all seem lost for me, when an unforeseen catastrophe
destroyed the remnant of the provision of powder which I owed to the
pity of that miserable captain? Ah! undoubtedly according to his
hateful calculations, he had limited the term of my life to the last
charge which my gun should contain; this last charge is still there!
Of what use will it be to me? Why do I need it? Are not my resources
for subsistence more certain and numerous to-day than before? What
then is wanting? The society of a Stradling and his fellows? God keep
me from them! The best member of the crew of the brig Swordfish came
away when I did. I have received from Marimonda more proofs of
devotion than from all the companions I have had on land and on sea.
What have I to regret? I am well off here; may God keep me in repose
and health!'

After this sally, he thought of his hives, which were still wanting,
and of the methods to be employed to seize a swarm of bees.

A month after, Selkirk, who religiously kept his reckoning on the
margin of his Bible, resolved to celebrate the New Year. It was now
the first of January, 1706.

On this day he dined, not in his cabin, nor under his tree, but in the
middle of the inclosure, surrounded by his family; fruits and good
cheer were more abundant than usual; Marimonda, as was her custom,
dined at the same table with himself: the cats shared in the feast;
the goats roved around, stretching up to gaze with their blue eyes on
the baskets of fruits, and returning to browse on the grass beneath
the feet of the guests. Selkirk, as the master of the house, and chief
of the family, generously distributed the provisions to his young and
frolicksome republic, and Marimonda assisted him as well as she could,
in doing the honors.

After the repasts, there were races and combats; the remains of the
baskets were thrown to the most skilful and the most adroit; then
came, diversions and swings.

Lying in his hammock, where he smoked his most excellent tobacco in
his best pipe, Selkirk smilingly contemplated the capricious bounds,
the riotous sports of his cats and kids, their graceful postures,
their fraternal combats, in which sheathed claws and the inoffensive
horn were the only weapons used on either side.

To give more variety to the fete, Marimonda developes all the
resources of her daring suppleness; she leaps from right to left,
clearing large spaces with inconceivable dexterity. Attaining the
summit of a tree, she whistles to attract her master's attention,
then, with her two fore-paws clasped in her hind ones, she rolls
herself up like a ball and drops on the ground; the foliage crackles
beneath her fall, which seems as if it must be mortal; for her, this
is only sport. Without altering the position of her limbs, she
suddenly stops in her rapid descent, by means of her prehensile tail,
that fifth hand, so powerful, with which nature has endowed the
monkeys of America. Then, suspended by this organ alone, she
accelerates her motions to and fro with incredible rapidity, quickly
unwinds her tail from the branch by which she is suspended, and with a
dart, traversing the air as if winged, alights at a hundred paces
distance on a vine, which she instantly uses as a swing.

Selkirk is astonished; he applauds the tricks of Marimonda, the sports
and combats of his other subjects. Meanwhile, his eyes having turned
towards the sea, his brow is suddenly overclouded. At the expiration
of a few moments of an uneasy and agitated observation, he utters an
exclamation, springs from his hammock, runs to his cabin, then to the
shore, where he prostrates himself with his hands clasped and raised
towards heaven.

He has just perceived a sail.

Provided with his glass, he seeks the sail upon the waves, he finds
it. 'It is without doubt a barque,' said he to himself; 'a barque from
the neighboring island, or some point of the continent!' And looking
again through his copper tube, he clearly distinguishes three masts
well rigged, decorated with white sails, which are swelling in the
east wind, and gilded by the oblique rays of the declining sun.

'It is a brig! The Swordfish, perhaps! Yes, Stradling has prolonged
his voyage in these regions. The time which he had fixed for my exile
has rolled away! He is coming to seek me. May he be blessed!'

The movement which the brig made to double the island, had increased
more and more the hopes of Selkirk, when the Spanish flag, hoisted at
the stern, suddenly unfolded itself to his eyes.

'The enemy!' exclaimed he; 'woe is me! If they land on this coast,
whither shall I fly, where conceal myself? In the mountains! Yes, I
can there succeed in escaping them! But, the wretches! they will
destroy my cabin, my inclosure, my garden! the fruit of so much
anxiety and labor!'

And, with palpitating heart, he again watches the manoeuvres of the
brig. The latter, having tacked several times, as if to get before the
wind, hastily changed her course and stood out to sea.

Selkirk remains stupefied, overwhelmed. 'These are Spaniards,'
murmured he, after a moment's hesitation; 'what matters it! Am I now
their enemy? I am only a colonist, an exile, a deserter from the
English navy. They owe me protection, assistance, as a Christian. If
they required it, I would serve on board their vessel! But they have
gone; what method shall I employ to recall them, to signalize my

There was but one; it was to kindle a large fire on the shore or on
the hill. He needs hewn wood, and his supplies are exhausted; what is
to be done?

For an instant, in his disturbed mind, the idea arises to tear the
lattice-work from his inclosure, the pillars and the roof from his
shed, to pile them around his cabin, and set fire to the whole.

This idea he quickly repulses, but it suffices to show what passed in
the inner folds of the heart of this man, who had just now forced
himself to believe that happiness was yet possible for him.

On farther reflection, he remembers that behind his grotto, on one of
the first terraces of the mountain, there is a dense thicket, where
the trees, embarrassed with vines and dry briers, closely interwoven,
calcined by the burning reflections of the sun on the rock which
surrounds them, present a collection of dead branches and mouldy
trunks, scarcely masked by the semblance of vegetation.

Thither he transports all the brands preserved under the ashes of his
hearth; he makes a pile of them; throws upon it armfuls of chips, bark
and leaves. The flame soon runs along the bushes which encircle the
thicket; and, when the sun goes down, an immense column of fire
illuminates all this part of the island, and throws its light far over
the ocean.

Standing on the shore, Selkirk passes the night with his eyes fixed on
the sea, his ear listening attentively to catch the distant sound of a
vessel; but nothing presents itself to his glance upon the luminous
and sparkling waves, and amid their dashing he hears no other sound
but that of the trees and vines crackling in the flames.

At morning all has disappeared. The fire has exhausted itself without
going beyond its bounds, and the sea, calm and tranquil, shows nothing
upon its surface but a few flocks of gulls.

A week passes away, during which Selkirk remains thoughtful and
taciturn; he rarely leaves the shore; he still beholds the sports of
his cats and his kids, but no longer smiles at them; Marimonda, by way
of amusing him, renews in his presence her surprising feats, but the
attention of the master is elsewhere.

Nevertheless, he cannot allow himself time to dream long with
impunity; his reserve of smoked beef is nearly exhausted; to save it,
he has again resorted to the shell-fish, which his stomach loathes; to
the sea-crabs, of which he is tired; he needs other nourishment to
restore his strength. He shakes off his lethargy, takes his lasso, his
game-bag. His plan now is, not to hunt the kids, but the goats

As he is about to set out, Marimonda approaches, preparing to
accompany him. In his present frame of mind, Selkirk wishes to be
alone, and makes her comprehend, by signs, that she must remain at
home and watch the flock; but this time, contrary to her custom, she
does not seem disposed to obey. Notwithstanding his orders, she
follows him, stops when he turns, recommences to follow him, and, by
her supplicating looks and expressive gestures, seeks to obtain the
permission which he persists in refusing. At last Selkirk speaks
severely, and she submits, still protesting against it by her air of
sadness and depression. Was this, on her part, caprice or foresight?
No one has the secret of these inexplicable instincts, which sometimes
reveal to animals the presence of an invisible enemy, or the approach
of a disaster.

At evening, Selkirk had not returned! Marimonda passed the night in
awaiting him, uttering plaintive cries.

On the morrow the morning rolled away, then the day, then the night,
and the cabin remained deserted, and Marimonda in vain scaled the
trees and hills in the neighborhood to recover traces of her master.

What had become of him?


The Precipice.--A Dungeon in a Desert Island.--Resignation.--The passing
Bird.--The browsing Goat.--The bending Tree.--Attempts at Deliverance.
--Success.--Death of Marimonda.

In that sterile and mountainous quarter of the island to which he has
given the name of Stradling,--that name, importing to him
misfortune,--Selkirk, venturing in pursuit of a goat, has fallen from
a precipice.

Fortunately the cavity is not deep. After a transient swoon,
recovering his footing, experiencing only a general numbness, and some
pain caused by the contusions resulting from his fall, he bethinks
himself of the means of escape.

But a circle of sharp rocks, contracting from the base to the summit,
forms a tunnel over his head; no crevice, no precipitous ledge,
interrupts their fatal uniformity. Only around him some platforms of
sandy earth appear; he digs them with his knife, to form steps. Some
fragments of roots project here and there through the interstices of
the stones; he hopes to find a point of support by which to scale
these abrupt walls. The little solidity of the roots, which give way
in his grasp; his sufferings, which become more intense at every
effort; these thousand rocky heads bending at once over him; all tell
him plainly that it will be impossible for him to emerge from this
hole--that it is destined to be his tomb.

Poor young sailor, already condemned to isolation, separated from the
rest of mankind, could he have foreseen that one day his captivity was
to be still closer! that his steps would be chained, that the sight
even of his island would be interdicted! and that in this desert,
where he had neither persecutor nor jailer to fear, he would find a
prison, a dungeon!

After three days of anguish and tortures, after new and ineffectual
attempts,--exhausted by fatigue, by thirst, by hunger,--consumed by
fever, supervened in consequence of all his sufferings of body and
soul, he resigns himself to his fate; with his foot, he prepares his
last couch, composed of sand and dried leaves shaken from above by the
neighboring trees; he lies down, folds his arms, closes his eyes, and
prepares to die, thinking of his eternal salvation.

Although he tries not to allow himself to be distracted by other
thoughts, from time to time sounds from the outer world disturb his
pious meditations. First it is the joyous song of a bird. To these
vibrating notes another song replies from afar, on a more simple and
almost plaintive key. It is doubtless the female, who, with a sort of
modest and repressed tenderness, thus announces her retreat to him who
calls; then a rapid rustling is heard above the head of the prisoner.
It is the songster, hastening to rejoin his companion.

Selkirk has never known love. Once perhaps,--in a fit of youth and
delirium; and it was this false love which tore him from his studies,
from his country!

Ah! why did he not remain at Largo, with his father? To-day he also
would have had a companion! In that smiling country where coolness
dwells, where labor is so easy, life so sweet and calm, the paternal
roof would have sheltered his happiness! Oh! the joys of his infancy!
his green and sunny Scotland.

The regrets which arise in his heart he quickly banishes; his dear
remembrances he sacrifices to God; he weaves them into a fervent

Very soon an approaching bleating rouses him again from his
abstractions. A goat, with restless eye, has just stretched her head
over the edge of the precipice, and for an instant fixes on him her
astonished glance. Then, as if re-assured, defying his powerlessness,
with a disdainful lip she quietly crops some tufts of grass growing on
the verge of the tunnel.

On seeing her, Selkirk instinctively lays his hand on the lasso which
is beside him.

'If I succeed in reaching her, in catching her,' said he, 'her blood
will quench the thirst which devours me, her flesh will appease my
hunger. But of what use would it be? Whence can I expect aid and
succor for my deliverance? This would then only prolong my

And, throwing aside the end of the lasso which he has just seized, he
again folds his arms on his breast, and closes his eyes once more.

I know not what stoical philosopher--Atticus, I believe, a prey to a
malady which he thought incurable,--had resolved to die of inanition.
At the expiration of a certain number of days, abstinence had cured
him, and when his friends, in the number of whom he reckoned Cicero,
exhorted him to take nourishment, persisting in his first resolution,
'Of what use is it!' said he also, 'Must I not die sooner or later?
Why should I then retrace my steps, when I have already travelled more
than half the road?'

Selkirk had more reason than Atticus to decide thus; besides, his
friends, where are they, to exhort him to live? Friends!--has he ever
had any?

Night comes, and with the night a terrific hurricane arises. By the
glare of the lightning he sees a tree, situated not far from the
tunnel, bend towards him, almost broken by the violence of the wind.

'Perhaps Providence will send me a method of saving myself!' murmured
Selkirk; 'should the tree fall on this side, if its branches do not
crush me, they will serve as steps to aid me to leave this pit! I am

But the tree resists the storm, which passes away, carrying with it
the last hope of the captive.

Towards the morning of the fourth day his fever has ceased; the
tortures of hunger and thirst are no longer felt; the complete
annihilation of his strength is to him a kind of relief; sleep seizes
him, and with sleep he thinks death must come.

Soon, in his dream, in a hallucination springing undoubtedly from the
weakness of his brain, plaints, confused and distant groans, reach him
from different points of the island. These sorrowful cries, almost
uninterrupted, afterwards approach, and are repeated with increasing
strength. He awakes, he listens; the bushes around him crackle and
rustle; even the earth emits a dull sound, as beneath the bounding of
a goat; the cries are renewed and become more and more distinct, like
the sobs of a child. Selkirk puts his hand to his forehead. These
plaints, these sobs, he thinks he recognizes, and, suddenly raising
himself with a convulsive effort, he exclaims:


And Marimonda runs at her master's voice, changes, on seeing him, her
cries of distress for cries of joy, leaps and gambols on the edge of
the cavity, and, quickly finding a way to join him, suspends herself
by her tail to one of the branches on the verge, and springs to his

Then contortions, caresses, winks of the eyes, motions of the head,
whining, whistling, succeed each other; she rolls before him, embraces
him closely, seeking by every method to supply the place of that
speech which alone is wanting, and which she almost seems to have.
Good Marimonda! her humid and shivering skin, her bruised and bleeding
feet, her in-flamed eyes, plainly tell Selkirk how long she has been
in search of him, how she has watched, run, to find him, and, not
finding him, what she has suffered at his absence.

Her first transports over, by his pale complexion, by his dim eye, she
quickly divines that it is want of food which has reduced him to this
condition. Swift as a bird she climbs the sides of the tunnel; she
repeatedly goes and returns, bringing each time fruits and canes full
of savory and refreshing liquid. It is precisely the usual hour for
their first repast, and once more they can partake of it together.

Revived by this repast, by the sight of his companion in exile,
Selkirk recovers his ideas of life and liberty. This abyss, from which
she ascends with so much facility, who knows but with her aid he may
be able in his turn to leave it? He remembers his lasso; he puts one
end of it into Marimonda's hand. It is now necessary that she should
fix it to some projection of the rock, some strong shrub, which may
serve as a point of support.

It was perhaps presuming too much on the intelligence which nature has
bestowed on the race of monkeys. At her master's orders, Marimonda
would seize the end of the cord, then immediately abandon it, as she
needed entire freedom of motion to enable her to scale the walls of
the tunnel.

After several ineffectual attempts, Selkirk, as a last resort, decided
to encircle Marimonda with the noose of the lasso, and, by a gesture,
to send her towards those heights where he was so impatient to join

She departs, dragging after her the chain, of which he holds the other
extremity: this chain, the only bridge thrown for him between the
abyss and the port of safety, between life and death!

With what anxiety he observes, studies its oscillations! Several times
he draws it towards him, and each time, as if in reply to his summons,
Marimonda suddenly re-appears at the brow of the precipice, preparing
to re-descend; but he repulses her with his voice and gestures, and
when these methods are insufficient,--when Marimonda, exhausted with
lassitude, seated on the verge of the tunnel, persists in remaining
motionless, he has recourse to projectiles. To compel her to second
him in his work, the possible realization of which he himself scarcely
comprehends, he throws at her some fragments of stone detached from
his rocky wall, and even the remains of that repast for which he is
indebted to her. Even when she is at a distance, informed by the
movements of the lasso of the direction she has taken, he pursues her

Suddenly the cord tightens in his hand. He pulls again, he pulls with
force; the cord resists! Fire mounts to his brain; his sluggish blood
is quickened; his heart and temples beat violently; his fever returns,
but only to restore to him, at this decisive moment, his former vigor.
He hastily digs new steps in the interstices of the rock; with his
hands suspending himself to the lasso, assisted by his feet, by his
knees, sometimes turning, grasping the projecting roots, the angles of
his wall, he at last reaches the top of the cliff.

Suddenly he feels the lasso stretch, as if about to break; a mist
passes over his eyes: his head becomes dizzy, the cord escapes his
grasp. But, by a mechanical movement, he has seized one of the highest
projections of the tunnel, he holds it, he climbs,--he is saved.

And during this perilous ascension, absorbed in the difficulties of
the undertaking, attentive to himself alone, staggering, with a
buzzing sound in his ears, he has not heard a sorrowful, lamentable
moaning, not far from him.

Dragging hither and thither after her the rope of leather and fibre of
aloes, Marimonda, rather, doubtless, by chance than by calculation,
had enlaced it around the trunk of the same tree which the night
before, during the storm, had agitated its dishevelled branches above
the deep couch of the dying man. This trunk had served as a point of
resistance; but, during the tension, the unfortunate monkey, with her
breast against the tree, had herself been caught in the folds of the

When Selkirk arrives, he finds her extended on the ground, blood and
foam issuing from her mouth, and her eyes starting from their sockets.
Kneeling beside her, he loosens the bonds which still detain her.
Excited by his presence, Marimonda makes an effort to rise, but
immediately falls back, uttering a new cry of pain.

With his heart full of anguish, taking her in his arms, Selkirk, not
without a painful effort, not without being obliged to pause on the
way to recover his strength, carries her to the dwelling on the shore.

This shore he finds deserted and in confusion.

Deprived of their daily nourishment during the prolonged absence of
their master, the goats have made a passage through the inclosure, by
gnawing the still green foliage which imprisoned them; the hurricane
of the night has overthrown the rest. Before leaving, they had ravaged
the garden, destroyed the promises of the approaching harvest, and
devoured even the bark of the young trees. The cats have followed the
goats. Selkirk has before his eyes a spectacle of desolation; his
props, his trellises, the remains of his orchard, of his inclosure, of
his shed, a part even of the roof of his cabin, strew the earth in
confusion around him.

But it is not this which occupies him now. He has prepared for
Marimonda a bed beside his own; he takes care of her, he watches over
her, he leaves her only to seek in the woods, or on the mountains, the
herb which may heal her; he brings all sorts, and by armfuls, that she
may choose;--does she not know them better than himself?

As she turns away her head, or repulses with the hand those which he
presents, he thinks he has not yet discovered the one she requires,
and though still suffering, though himself exhausted by so many
varying emotions, he re-commences his search, to summon the entire
island to the assistance of Marimonda. From each of his trees he
borrows a branch; from his bushes, his rocks, his streams--a plant, a
fruit, a leaf, a root! For the first time he ventures across the
_pajonals_--spongy marshes formed by the sea along the cliffs, and
where, beneath the shade of the mangroves, grow those singular
vegetables, those gelatinous plants, endowed with vitality and motion.
At sight of all these remedies, Marimonda closes her eyes, and reopens
them only to address to her friend a look of gratitude.

The only thing she accepts is the water he offers her, the water which
he himself holds to her lips in his cocoa-nut cup.

During a whole week, Selkirk remains constantly absorbed in these
cares, useless cares!--Marimonda cannot be healed! In her breast,
bruised by the folds of the lasso, exists an important lesion of the
organs essential to life, and from time to time a gush of blood
reddens her white teeth.

'What!' said Selkirk to himself, 'she has then accompanied me on this
corner of earth only to be my victim! To her first caress I replied
only by brutality; the first shot I fired in this island was directed
against her. I pursued for a long time, with my thoughtless and stupid
hatred, the only being who has ever loved me, and who to-day is dying
for having saved me from that precipice from which I drove her with
blows of stones! Marimonda, my companion, my friend,--no! thou shalt
not die! He who sent thee to me as a consolation will not take thee
away so soon, to leave me a thousand times more alone, more unhappy,
than ever! God, in clothing thee with a form almost human, has
undoubtedly given thee a soul almost like ours; the gleam of
tenderness and intelligence which shines in thine eyes, where could it
have been lighted, but at that divine fire whence all affection and
devotion emanate? Well! I will implore Him for thee; and if He refuse
to hear me, it will be because He has forgotten me, because He has
entirely forsaken me, and I shall have nothing more to expect from His

Falling then upon his knees, with his forehead upon the ground, he
prays God for Marimonda.

Meanwhile, from day to day the poor invalid grows weaker; her eyes
become dim and glassy; her limbs frightfully emaciated, and her hair
comes off in large masses.

One evening, exhausted with fatigue, after having wrapped in a
covering of goat-skin Marimonda, who was in a violent fever, Selkirk
was preparing to retire to rest; she detained him, and, taking his
hand in both of hers, cast upon him a gentle and prolonged look, which
resembled an adieu.

He seated himself beside her on the ground.

Then, without letting go his hand, she leaned her head on her master's
knee, and fell asleep in this position. Selkirk dares not stir, for
fear of disturbing her repose. Insensibly sleep seizes him also.

In the morning when he awakes, the sun is illuminating the interior of
his cabin; Marimonda remains in the same attitude as the evening
before, but her hands are cold, and a swarm of flies and mosquitoes
are thrusting their sharp trunks into her eyes and ears.

She is a corpse.

Selkirk raises her, uttering a cry, and, after having cast an angry
look towards heaven, wipes away two tears that trickle down his

Thou thoughtest thyself insensible, Selkirk, and behold, thou art
weeping!--thou, who hast more than once seen, with unmoistened eye,
men, thy companions, in war or at sea, fall beneath a furious sword,
or under the fire of batteries! Among the sentiments which honor
humanity, which elevate it notwithstanding its defects, thou hadst
preserved at least thy confidence in God and in his mercy, Selkirk,
and to-day thou doubtest both!

Why dost thou weep? why dost thou distrust God?

Because thy monkey is dead!


Discouragement.--A Discovery.--A Retrospective Glance.--Project of
Suicide.--The Last Shot.--The Sea Serpent.--The _Porro_.--A Message.
--Another Solitary.

His provisions are exhausted, and Selkirk thinks not of renewing them;
his settlement on the shore is destroyed, and he thinks not of
rebuilding it; the fish-pond, the bed of water-cresses are encroached
upon by sand and weeds, and he thinks not of repairing them. His mind,
completely discouraged, recoils before such labors; he has scarcely
troubled himself to replace the roof of his cabin.

In the midst of his dreams, Selkirk had not counted enough on two
terrific guests, which must sooner or later come: despair and _ennui_.

Nevertheless, he had read in his Bible this passage: 'As the worm
gnaweth the garment and rottenness the wood, so doth the weariness of
solitude gnaw the heart of man.'

One day, as he was descending from the Oasis, where he had dug a tomb
for Marimonda, he bethought himself of visiting the site of his
burning wood.

Around him, the earth, blackened by the ravages of the fire, presented
only a naked, gloomy and desolate picture. To his great surprise,
beneath the ruins, under coal dust and half-calcined trunks of trees,
he discovered, elevated several feet above the soil, the partition of
a wall, some stones quarried out and placed one upon another; in fine,
the remains of a building, evidently constructed by the hand of man.

Men had then inhabited this island before him! What had become of
them? This wood, impenetrably choked, stifled with thorny bushes,
briars and vines, and which he had delivered over to the flames, was
undoubtedly a garden planted by them, on a sheltered declivity of the
mountain; the garden which surrounded their habitation, as he had
himself designed his own to do.

Ah! if he could have but found them in the island, how different would
have been his fate! But to live alone! to have no companions but his
own thoughts! amid the dash of waves, the cry of birds, the bleating
of goats, incessantly to imagine the sound of a human voice, and
incessantly to experience the torture of being undeceived! What
elements of happiness has he ever met in this miserable island? When
he dreamed of creating resources for a long and peaceful future, he
lied to himself. A life favored by leisure would but crush him the
oftener beneath the weight of thought, and it is thought which is
killing him, the thought of isolation!

What import to him the beautiful sights spread out before his eyes?
The vast extent of sky and earth has repeated to him each day that he
is lost, forgotten on an obscure point of the globe. The sunrises and
sunsets, with their magic aspects, this luxuriant tropical vegetation,
the magnificent and picturesque scenery of his island, awaken in him
only a feeling of restraint, an uneasiness which he cannot define.
Perhaps the emotions, so sweet to all, are painful to him only because
he cannot communicate them, share them with another. It is not the
noisy life of cities which he asks, not even that of the shore. But,
at least, a companion, a being to reply to his voice, to be associated
with his joys, his sorrows. Marimonda! No, he recognizes it now!
Marimonda could amuse him, but was not sufficient; she inhabited with
him only the exterior world, she communicated with him only by things
visible and palpable; her affection for her master, her gentleness,
her admirable instinct, sometimes succeeded in lessening the distance
which separated their two natures, but did not wholly fill up the

He had exaggerated the intelligence which, besides, increased at the
expense of her strength, as with all monkeys; for God has not willed
that an animal should approximate too closely to man; he had overrated
the sense of her acts, because he needed near him a thinking and
acting being; but with her, confidences, plans, hopes, communication,
the exchange of all those intimate and mysterious thoughts which are
the life of the soul, were they possible? Even her eyes did not see
like his own; admiration was forbidden to her; admiration, that
precious faculty, which exists only for man,--and which becomes
extinct by isolation.

How many others become extinct also!

Self-love, a just self-esteem, that powerful lever which sustains us,
which elevates us, which compels us to respect in ourselves that
nobility of race which we derive from God, what becomes of it in
solitude? For Selkirk, vanity itself has lost its power to stimulate.
Formerly, when in the presence of his comrades at St. Andrew or of the
royal fleet, he had signalized himself by feats of address or courage,
a sentiment of pride or triumph had inspired him. Since his arrival in
the island, his courage and address have had but too frequent
opportunities of exercising themselves, but he has been excited only
by want, by necessity, by a purely personal interest. Besides, can one
utter an exclamation of triumph, where there is not even an echo to
repeat it?

After having thus painfully passed in review all of which his exile
from the world had deprived him, he exclaimed:

'To live alone, what a martyrdom! to live useless to all, what a
disgrace! What! does no one need me? What! are generosity, devotion,
even pity, all those noble instincts by which the soul reveals itself,
for ever interdicted to me? This is death, death premature and
shameful! Ah! why did I not remain at the foot of that precipice?'

With downcast head, he remained some time overwhelmed with the weight
of his discouragement; then, suddenly, his brow cleared up, a sinister
thought crossed his mind; he ran to his cabin, seized his gun. This
last shot, this last charge of powder and lead, which he has preserved
so preciously as a final resource, it will serve to put an end to his
days! Well, is not this the most valuable service he can expect from
it? He examines the gun; the priming is yet undisturbed; he passes his
nail over the flint, leans the butt against the ground, takes off the
thick leather which covers his foot, that he may be able to fire with
more certainty. But during all these preparations his resolution grows
weaker; he trembles as he rests the gun against his temples; that
sentiment of self-preservation, so profoundly implanted in the heart
of man, re-awakens in him. He hesitates--thrice returning to his first
resolution, he brings the gun to his forehead; thrice he removes it.
At last, to drive away this demon of suicide, he fires it in the air.

Scarcely has he thus uselessly thrown away this precious shot before
he repents. He approaches the shore; it is at the moment when the tide
is at its lowest ebb; the sun touches the horizon. Selkirk lies down
on the damp beach:--'When the wave returns,' said he, 'if it be God's
will, let it take me!'

Slumber comes first. Exhausted with emotion, yielding to the lassitude
of his mind, he falls asleep. In the middle of the night, suddenly
awakened by the sound of the advancing wave, he again flees before the
threat of death; he no longer wishes to die. Once in safety, he turns
to contemplate that immense sea which, for an instant, he had wished
might be his tomb.

By the moonlight, he perceives as it were a long and slender chain,
which, gliding upon the crest of the waves, directs itself towards the
shore. By its form, by its copper color, by the multiplicity of its
rings, unfolding in the distance, Selkirk recognizes the sea-serpent,
that terror of navigators, as he has often heard it described.

The mind of the solitary is a perpetual mirage.

Filled with terror, he flies again; he conceals himself, trembling, in
the caverns of his mountains; he has become a coward; why should he
affect a courage he does not feel? No one is looking at him!

The next day, instead of the sea-serpent, he finds on the beach an
immense cryptogamia, a gigantic alga, of a single piece, divided into
a thousand cylindrical branches, and much superior to all those he has
observed in the Straits of Sunda. The rising tide had thrown it on the

While he examines it, he sees with surprise all sorts of birds come to
peck at it; coatis, agoutis, and even rats, come out of their holes,
boldly carrying away before his eyes fragments, whence issues a thick
and brown sap. Emboldened by their example, and especially by the
balsamic odor of the plant, he tastes it. It is sweet and succulent.

This plant is no other than that providential vegetable called by the
Spaniards _porro_, and which forms so large a part of the nourishment
of the poor inhabitants of Chili.[1]

[Footnote 1: It is the _Durvilloea utilis_, dedicated to Dumont
d'Urville, by Bory de St. Vincent, and classed by him in the
laminariees, an important and valuable family of marine cryptogamia.]

The sea, which had already sent Selkirk seals to furnish him with oil
and furs in a moment of distress, had just come to his assistance by
giving him an easily procured aliment for a long time.

Another surprise awaits him.

Between the interlaced branches of his alga, he discovers a little
bottle, strongly secured with a cork and wax. It contains a fragment
of parchment, on which are traced some lines in the Spanish language.

Although he is but imperfectly acquainted with this language, though
the characters are partially effaced or scarcely legible, Selkirk, by
dint of patience and study, soon deciphers the following words:

'In the name of the Holy Trinity, to you who may read'--(here some
words were wanting,)--'greeting. My name is Jean Gons--(Gonzalve or
Gonsales; the rest of the name was illegible.) After having seen my
two sons, and almost all my fortune, swallowed up in the sea with the
vessel _Fernand Cortes_, in which I was a passenger, thrown by
shipwreck on the coasts of the Island of San Ambrosio, near Chili, I
live here alone and desolate. May God and men come to my aid!'

At the bottom of the parchment, some other characters were
perceptible, but without form, without connection, and almost entirely
destroyed by a slight mould which had collected at the bottom of the


The Island San Ambrosio.--Selkirk at last knows what Friendship is.--The
Raft.--Visits to the Tomb of Marimonda.--The Departure.--The two
Islands.--Shipwreck.--The Port of Safety.

As he read this, Selkirk was seized with intense pity for the
unfortunate shipwrecked. What! on this same ocean, undoubtedly on
these same shores, lives another unhappy being, like himself exiled
from the world, enduring the same sufferings, subject to the same
wants, experiencing the same _ennui_, the same anguish as himself!
this man has confided to the sea his cry of distress, his complaint,
and the sea, a faithful messenger, has just deposited it at the feet
of Selkirk!

Suddenly he remembers that rock, that island, discerned by him, on the
day when at the Oasis, he was reconciled to Marimonda.

That is the island of San Ambrosio; it is there, he does not doubt it
for an instant, that his new friend lives; yes, his friend! for, from
this moment he experiences for him an emotion of sympathetic
affection. He loves him, he is so much to be pitied! Poor father, he
has lost his sons, he has lost his fortune and the hope of returning
to his country; and yet there reigns in his letter a tone of dignified
calmness, of religious resignation which can come only from a noble
heart. He is a Spaniard and a Roman Catholic; Selkirk is a Scotchman
and a Presbyterian; what matters it?

To-day his friend demands assistance, and he has resolved to dare all,
to undertake all to respond to his appeal. Like a lamp deprived of
air, his mind has revived at this idea, that he can at last be useful
to others than himself. The inhabitant of San Ambrosio shall be
indebted to him for an alleviation of his sorrows; for companionship
in them. What is there visionary about this hope? Had he not already
conceived the project of preparing a barque to explore that unknown
coast? God seems to encourage his design, by sending him at once this
double manna for the body and soul, the _porro_, which will suffice
for his nourishment, and this writing, which the wave has just
brought, to impose on him a duty.

He immediately sets himself to the work, and obstacles are powerless
to chill his generous excitement. Of the vegetable productions of the
island, the red cedar and myrtle are those which grow of the largest
size;[1] but yet their trunks are not large enough to serve when
hollowed out for a barque. Well! he will construct a raft.

[Footnote 1: The _myrtus maximus_ attains 13 metres (a little more
than 42 feet) in height.]

He fells young trees, cuts off their branches, rolls them to the
shore, on a platform of sand, which the waves reach at certain
periods; he fastens them solidly together with a triple net-work of
plaited leather, cords woven of the fibre of the aloe, supple and
tough vines; he chooses another with diverging and horizontal roots,
the habitual direction taken by all the large vegetables of this
island, the sand of which is covered only by two feet of earth. This
shall be the mast. He plants it in the middle of the raft, where it is
kept upright by its roots, knotted and interwoven with the various
pieces which compose the floor. For a sail, has he not that which was
left him by the Swordfish? and will not his seal-skin hammock serve as
a spare sail?

He afterwards constructs a helm, then two strong oars, that he may
neglect no chance of success. He fastens his structure still more
firmly by all that remains to him of his nails and bolts, and awaits
the high tide to launch his skiff upon the sea.

He has never felt calmer, happier, than during the long time occupied
in these labors; their object has doubled his strength. The moments of
indispensable repose, he has passed at the Oasis, beside the tomb of
Marimonda, of that Marimonda, who by her example, opened to him the
life of devotedness in which he has just engaged. Thence, with his eye
turned upon that island where dwells the unknown friend from whom he
has received a summons, he talks to him, encourages him, consoles him;
he imparts to him his resolution to join him soon, and it seems as if
the same waves which had brought the message will also undertake to
transmit the reply.

At present, Selkirk finds some sweetness in pitying evils which are
not his own; he no longer dreams of wrapping himself in a cloak of
selfishness; that disdainful heart, hitherto invincibly closed, at
last experiences friendship, or at least aspires to do so.

At last, the day arrives when the sea, inundating the marshes, bending
the mangroves, reaches, on the sandy platform, one of the corners of
his raft.

Selkirk hastens to transport thither his hatchets, his guns, his
seal-skins and goat-skins, his Bible, his spy-glass, his pipes, his
ladder, his stools, even his traps; all his riches! it is a complete

On taking possession of the island, he had engraved on the bark of
several trees the date of his arrival; he now inscribes upon them the
day of his departure. For many months his reckoning has been
interrupted; to determine the date is impossible; he knows only the
day of the week.

When the wave had entirely raised his barque, aiding himself with one
of the long oars to propel it over the rocky bottom, he gained the
sea. Then, after having adjusted his sail, with his hand on the helm,
he turned towards his island to address to it an adieu, laden with
maledictions rather than regrets.

Swelled by a south-east wind, the sail pursues its course towards that
other land, the object of his new desires. At the expiration of some
hours, by the aid of his glass, what from the summit of his mountains
had appeared to him only a dark point, a rock beaten by the waves,
seems already enlarged, allowing him to see high hills covered with
verdure. He has not then deceived himself! There exists a habitable
land,--habitable for two! It has served as a refuge to the shipwrecked
man, to his friend! Ah! how impatient he is to reach this shore where
he is to meet him!

Several hours more of a slow but peaceful navigation roll away. He has
arrived at a distance almost midway between the point of departure and
that of arrival. Looking alternately at the islands Selkirk and San
Ambrosio, both illuminated by the sunset, with their indefinite forms,
their bases buried in the waves, their terraced summits, veiled with a
light fog, they appear like the reflection of each other. But for the
discovery which he had previously made of the second, he would have
believed this was his own island, or rather its image, represented in
the waters of the sea.

But in proportion as he advances towards his new conquest, it
increases to his eyes, as if to testify the reality of its existence,
now by a mountain peak, now by a cape. He had seen only the profile,
it now presents its face, ready to develope all its graces, all its
fascinations; while its rival, disdained, abandoned, becomes by
degrees effaced, and seems to wish to conceal its humiliation beneath
the wave of the great ocean.

Suddenly, without any apparent jar, without any flaw of wind, on a
calm sea, the stem of the tree serving as a mast vacillates, bends
forward, then on one side; the roots, which fasten it to the floor of
the raft, are wrenched from their hold; the sail, diverging in the
same direction, still extended, drags it entirely down, and it is
borne away by the wave.

Struck with astonishment, Selkirk puts his foot on the helm, and
seizes his oars; but oars are powerless to move so heavy a machine.
What is to be done?

He who has not been able to endure isolation in the midst of a
terrestrial paradise, from which he has just voluntarily exiled
himself, must he then he reduced to have for an asylum, on the
immensity of the ocean, only a few trunks of trees scarcely lashed

The situation is frightful, terrific; Selkirk dares not contemplate
it, lest his reason should give way. He must have a sail; a mast! He
has his spare sail; for the mast, his only resource is to detach one
of the timbers which compose the frame-work of his raft. Perhaps this
will destroy its solidity; but he has no choice.

He takes the best of his hatchets, chooses among the straight stems of
which his floating dwelling is composed, that which seems most
suitable; he cuts away with a thousand precautions, the bonds which
fasten it; he frees it, not without difficulty, from the contact of
other logs to which it has been attached. But while he devotes himself
to this task, the raft, obedient to a mysterious motion of the sea,
has slowly drifted on; the surface is covered with foam, as if
sub-marine waves are lashing it. Selkirk springs to the helm; the
tiller breaks in his hands; he seizes the oars, they also break. An
unknown force hurries him on. He has just fallen into one of those
rapid currents which, from north to south, traverse the waters of the
Pacific Ocean.

Borne away in a contrary direction from that which he has hitherto
pursued, the land of which he had come in search seems to fly before
him. Whither is he going? Into what regions, into what solitudes of
the sea is he to be carried, far from islands and continents?

To add to his terror, in these latitudes, where day suddenly succeeds
to night and night to day, where twilight is unknown, the sun, just
now shining brightly, suddenly sinks below the horizon.

In the midst of profound darkness, the unhappy man pursues this fatal
race, leading to inevitable destruction. During a part of this
terrible night, he hears the frail frame-work which supports him
cracking beneath his feet. How long must his sufferings last? He knows
not. At last, jostled by adverse waves, shaken to its centre, the raft
begins to whirl around, and something heavier than the shock of the
wave comes repeatedly to give it new and rude blows. The first rays of
the rising moon, far from calming the terrors of the unhappy mariner,
increase them. In his dizzy brain, these wan rays which silver the
surface of the sea, seem so many phantoms coming to be present at his
last moments. Pale, bent double, with his hair standing upright,
clinging to some projection of his barque, he in vain attempts to fix
his glance on certain strange objects which he sees ascending,
descending, and rolling around him.

They are the trunks of the trees which formed a part of his raft,
limbs detached from its body, and which, now drawn into the same
whirlpool, are by their repeated shocks, aiding in his complete

In face of this imminent, implacable death, Selkirk ceases to struggle
against it. He has now but one resource; the belief in another life.
The religious instinct, which has already come to his assistance,
revives with force. Clinging with his hands and feet to these wavering
timbers, which are almost disjoined, half inundated by the wave, which
is encroaching more and more upon his last asylum, he directs his
steps towards the spot where he had deposited his arms and furs; he
takes from among them his Bible, not to read it, but to clasp it to
his heart, whose agitation and terror seem to grow calm beneath its
sacred contact.

He then attempts to absorb his thoughts in God; he blames himself for
not having been contented with the gifts he had received from Him; he
might have lived happily in Scotland, or in the royal navy. It is this
perpetual desire for change, these aspirations after the unknown,
which have occasioned his ruin.

At this moment, raising his eyes towards heaven, he sees, beneath the
pale rays of the moon, a mass of rocks rising at a little distance,
which he immediately recognizes. There is the bay of the Seals, the
peak of the Discovery. That hollow, lying in the shadow, is the valley
of the Oasis! As on the first day of his arrival, on one of the
steepest summits of the mountain, he perceives stationed there,
immovable, like a sentinel, a goat, between whose delicate limbs
shines a group of stars, celestial eyes, whose golden lids seem to
vibrate as if in appeal. It is his island! He does not hesitate;
suddenly recovering all his energies, he springs from the raft,
struggles with vigor, with perseverance against the current, triumphs
over it, and, after prolonged efforts, at last reaches this haven of
deliverance, this port of safety; he lands, fatigued, exhausted, but
overcome with joy and gratitude. Profoundly thanking God from his
heart, he prostrates himself, and kisses with transport the hospitable
soil of this island,--which, on the morning of the same day, he had

Alas! does not reflection quickly diminish this lively joy at his
return and safety? From this shipwreck, poor sailor, thou hast saved
only thyself: thy tools, thy instruments of labor, even thy Bible, are
a prey to the sea!

It is now, Selkirk, that thou must suffice for thyself! It is the last
trial to which thou canst be subjected!


The Island of Juan Fernandez.--Encounter in the Mountains.--Discussion.
--A New Captivity.--A Cannon-shot.--Dampier and Selkirk.--_Mas a Fuera_.
--News of Stradling.--Confidences.--End of the History of the real
Robinson Crusoe.--Nebuchadnezzar.

On the 1st of February, 1709, an English vessel, equipped and sent to
sea by the merchants of Bristol, after having sailed around Cape Horn,
in company with another vessel belonging to the same expedition,
touched alone, about the 33d degree of south latitude, at the Island
of Juan Fernandez, from a hundred and ten to a hundred and twenty
leagues distant from the coast of Chili.

The second ship was to join her without delay. Symptoms of the scurvy
had appeared on board, and it was intended to remain here for some
time, to give the crew opportunity of recovering their health.

Their tents pitched, towards evening several sailors, having ventured
upon the island, were not a little surprised to see, through the
obscurity, a strange being, bearing some resemblance to the human
form, who, at their approach, scaling the mountains, leaping from rock
to rock, fled with the rapidity of a deer, the lightness of a chamois.

Some doubted whether it was a man, and prepared to fire at him. They
were prevented by an officer named Dower, who accompanied them.

On their return to their companions, the sailors related what they had
seen; Dower did not fail to do the same among the officers; and this
evening, at the encampment on the shore, in the forecastle as well as
on the quarter-deck, there were narratives and suppositions that would
'amuse an assembly of Puritans through the whole of Lent,' says the
account from which we borrow a part of our information.

At this period, tales of the marvellous gained great credence among
sailors. Not long before, the Spaniards had discovered giants in
Patagonia; the Portuguese, sirens in the seas of Brazil; the French,
tritons and satyrs at Martinique; the Dutch, black men, with feet like
lobsters, beyond Paramaribo.

The strange individual under discussion was unquestionably a satyr, or
at least one of those four-footed, hairy men, such as the authentic
James Carter declared he had met with in the northern part of America.

Some, thinking this conclusion too simple, adroitly insinuated that no
one among the sailors who had met this monster, had noticed in him so
great a number of paws. Why four paws?--why should he not be a
monopedous man, a man whose body, terminated by a single leg, cleared,
with this support alone, considerable distances? Was not the existence
of the monopedous man attested by modern travellers, and even in
antiquity and the middle ages, by Pliny and St. Augustine?

Others preferred to imagine in this singular personage the acephalous
man, the man without a head, named by the grave Baumgarthen as
existing on the new continent. They had not discovered many legs, but
neither had they discovered a head; why should he have one?

And the discussion continued, and not a voice was raised to risk this
judicious observation; if neither head nor limbs have been
distinguished, it may perhaps be because he has been seen only in the

The next day, each wished to be satisfied; a regular hunt was
organized against this phenomenon; they set out, invaded his retreat,
pursued him, surrounded him, at last seized him, and the brave sailors
of Great Britain discovered with stupefaction, in this monopedous,
acephalous man, in this satyr, this cercopithecus, what? A countryman,
a Scotchman, a subject of Queen Anne!

It was Selkirk; Selkirk, his hair long and in disorder, his limbs
encased in fragments of skins, and half deprived of his reason.

His island was Juan Fernandez, so called by the first navigator who
discovered it; this was Selkirk Island.

When he was conducted before Captain Woodes Rogers, commander of the
expedition, to the interrogations of the latter, the unfortunate man,
with downcast look, and agitated with a nervous trembling, replied
only by repeating mechanically the last syllables of the phrases which
were addressed to him by the captain.

A little recovered from his agitation, discovering that he had
Englishmen to deal with, he attempted to pronounce some words; he
could only mutter a few incoherent and disconnected sentences.

'Solitude and the care of providing for his subsistence,' says Paw,
'had so occupied his mind, that all rational ideas were effaced from
it. As savage as the animals, and perhaps more so, he had almost
entirely forgotten the secret of articulating intelligible sounds.'

Captain Rogers having asked him how long he had been secluded in this
island, Selkirk remained silent; he nevertheless understood the
question, for his eyes immediately opened with terror, as if he had
just measured the long space of time which his exile had lasted. He
was far from having an exact idea of it; he appreciated it only by the
sufferings he had endured there, and, looking fixedly at his hands, he
opened and shut them several times.

Reckoning by the number of his fingers, it was twenty or thirty years,
and every one at first believed in the accuracy of his calculation, so
completely did his forehead, furrowed with wrinkles, his skin
blackened, withered by the sun, his hair whitened at the roots, his
gray beard, give him the aspect of an old man.

Selkirk was born in 1680; he was then only twenty-nine.

After having replied thus, he turned his head, cast a troubled look on
the objects which surrounded him; a remembrance seemed to awaken, and,
uttering a cry, stepping forward, he pointed with his finger to a
cedar on his left. It was the tree on which, when he left the
Swordfish, he had inscribed the date of his arrival in the island. The
officer Dower approached, and, notwithstanding the crumbling of the
decayed bark, could still read there this inscription:

'Alexander Selkirk--from Largo, Scotland, Oct. 27, 1704.'

His exile from the world had therefore lasted four years and three

Notwithstanding the interest excited by his misfortunes, by his name,
his accent, more than by his language, Captain Rogers, an honorable
and humane man, but of extreme severity on all that appertained to
discipline, recognized him as a British subject, suspected him to be a
deserter from the English navy, and gave orders that he should be put
under guard, pending a definitive decision.

The sailors commissioned to this office did not find it an easy thing
to guard a prisoner who could climb the trees like a squirrel, and
outstrip them all in a race. As a precaution, they commenced by
binding him firmly to the same cedar on which his name was engraved.
There the unfortunate Selkirk figured as a curious animal, ornamented
with a label.

Afterwards, more for pastime than through mischief, they tormented him
with questions, to obtain from him hesitating or almost senseless
replies, which bewildered him much; then they began to examine, with
childish surprise, the length of his beard, of his hair and nails; the
prodigious development of his muscles; his bare feet, so hardened by
travel, that they seemed to be covered with horn moccasins. Having
found beneath his goat-skin rags, a knife, whose blade, by dint of use
and sharpening, was almost reduced to the proportions of that of a
penknife, they took it away to examine it; but on seeing himself
deprived of this single weapon, the only relic of his shipwreck, the
prisoner struggled, uttering wild howls; they restored it to him.

At the hour of repast, Selkirk had, like the rest, his portion of meat
and biscuit. He ate the biscuit, manifesting great satisfaction; but
he, who had at first suffered so much from being deprived of salt,
found in the meat a degree of saltness insupportable. He pointed to
the stream; one of his guards courteously offered him his gourd,
containing a mixture of rum and water; he approached it to his lips,
and immediately threw it away with violence, as if it had burned him.

At evening, he was transported on board.

A few days after he began to acquire a taste for common food; his
ideas became more definite; speech returned to his lips more freely
and clearly; but liberty of motion was not yet restored to him, a new
captivity opened before him, and his irritation at this was presenting
an obstacle to the complete restoration of his faculties, when God,
who had so deeply tried him, came to his assistance.

One morning, as the crew of the ship were occupied, some in caulking
and tarring it, others in gathering edible plants on the island, a
cannon-shot resounded along the waves. The caulkers climbed up the
rigging, the provision-hunters ran to the shore, the officers seized
their spy-glasses, and all together quickly uttered a _huzza_! The
vessel which had sailed in company with that of Captain Rogers, the
Duchess, of Bristol, had arrived. This vessel, commanded by William
Cook, had, for a master-pilot, a man more celebrated in maritime
annals than the commanders of the expedition themselves;--this was
Dampier, the indefatigable William Dampier, who, a short time since a
millionaire, now completely ruined in consequence of foolish
speculations and prodigalities, had just undertaken a third voyage
around the world.

Scarcely had he disembarked, when he heard of the great event of the
day--of the wild man. His name was mentioned, he remembered having
known an Alexander Selkirk at St. Andrew, at the inn of the Royal
Salmon. He went to him, interrogated him, recognized him, and, without
loss of time, after having had his hair and beard cut, and procured
suitable clothing for him, presented him to Capt. Rogers; he
introduced him as one of his old comrades, formerly an intrepid and
distinguished officer in the navy, one of the conquerors of Vigo, who
had been induced by himself to embark in the Swordfish, partly at his

Restored to liberty, supported, revived, by the kind cares of Dampier,
his old hero, Selkirk felt rejuvenated. His first thought then is for
that other unfortunate man, still an exile perhaps in his desert
island. After having informed the old sailor that he had found a
little bottle, containing a written parchment, he said: 'Dear Captain,
it would be a meritorious act, and one worthy of you, to co-operate in
the deliverance of this unhappy man. A boat will suffice for the
voyage, since the Island of San Ambrosio is so near this. Oh! how
joyfully would I accompany you in this excursion!'

'My brave hermit,' replied Dampier, shaking his head, 'the neighboring
island of which you speak is no other than the second in this group,
named _Mas a Fuera_. As for the other, that San Ambrosio which you
think so near, if it has not become a floating island since my last
voyage, if it is still where I left it, under the Tropic of Capricorn,
to reach it will not be so trifling a matter; besides, your little
bottle must be a bottle of ink. There is here confusion of place and
confusion of time; not only is _Mas a Fuera_ not _San Ambrosio_ but
this latter island, far from being a desert, as your correspondent has
said, has been inhabited more than twenty years by a multitude of
madmen, fishermen and pirates, potato-eaters and old sailors, who,
when I visited them, in 1702, politely received me with gun-shots, and
whose politeness I returned with cannon-shots. Therefore, my boy, he
who wrote to you must have been dead when you received his letter.
What date did it bear?'

'None,' said Selkirk; 'the last lines were effaced;' and he trembled
at the idea of all the dangers he had run in pursuit of this friend,
who no longer existed, and of a land which he had never inhabited.

After having satisfied a duty of humanity, that which he had regarded
as a debt contracted towards a friend, Selkirk, among other inquiries,
let fall the name of Stradling. This time, it was hatred which asked

His hatred was destined to be gratified.

In pursuing his voyage, after having coasted along the shores of the
Straits of Magellan, Stradling, surprised by a frightful hurricane,
had seen his vessel entirely disabled. Repulsed at five different
times, now by the tempest, now by the Spaniards, from the ports where
he attempted to take refuge, he was thrown, near La Plata, on an
inhospitable shore. Attacked, pillaged by the natives, half of his
crew having perished, with the remains of his ship he constructed
another, to which he gave the name of the Cinque Ports, instead of
that of the Swordfish, which it was no longer worthy to bear. This was
a large pinnace, on which he had secretly returned to England. For
several years past, Dampier had not heard of him.

Selkirk thought himself sufficiently avenged; his present happiness
silenced his past ill-will. He even became reconciled to his island.

Each day he traversed its divers parts, with emotions various as the
remembrances it awakened. But he was now no longer alone! Arm and arm
with Dampier, he revisited these places where he had suffered so much,
and which often resumed for him their enchanting aspects.

His companion was soon informed of his history. When he had related
what we already know, from his landing to the construction of his
raft, and to his frightful shipwreck, he at last commenced, not
without some mortification, the recital of his final miseries, which
alone could explain the deplorable state in which the English sailors
had found him.

By the loss of his hatchets, his ladder, his other instruments of
labor, condemned to inaction, to powerlessness, he had nothing to
occupy himself with but to provide sustenance. But the sea had taken
his snares along with the rest. He at first subsisted on herbs, fruits
and roots; afterwards his stomach rejected these crudities, as it had
repulsed the fish. Armed with a stick, he had chased the agoutis; for
want of agoutis, he had eaten rats.

By night, he silently climbed the trees to surprise the female of the
toucan or blackbird, which he pitilessly stifled over their young
brood. Meanwhile, at the noise he made among the branches, this winged
prey almost always escaped him.

He tried to construct a ladder; by the aid of his knife alone, he
attempted to cut down two tall trees. During this operation his knife
broke--only a fragment remained. This was for him a great trial.

He thought of making, with reeds and the fibres of the aloe, a net to
catch birds; but all patient occupation, all continuous labor, had
become insupportable to him.

That he might escape the gloomy ideas which assailed him more and
more, it became necessary to avoid repose, to court bodily fatigue.

By continual exercise, his powers of locomotion had developed in
incredible proportions. His feet had become so hardened that he no
longer felt the briers or sharp stones. When he grew weary, he slept,
in whatever place he found himself, and these were his only quiet

To chase the agoutis had ceased to be an object worthy of his efforts;
the kids took their turn, afterwards the goats. He had acquired such
dexterity of movement, and such strength of muscle, such certainty of
eye, that to leap from one projection of rock to another, to spring at
one bound over ravines and deep cavities, was to him but a childish
sport. In these feats he took pleasure and pride.

Sometimes, in the midst of his flights through space, he would seize a
bird on the wing.

The goats themselves soon lost their power to struggle against such a
combatant. Notwithstanding their number, had Selkirk wished it, he
might have depopulated the island. He was careful not to do this.

If he wished to procure a supply of provisions, he directed his steps
towards the most elevated peaks of the mountain, marked his game,
pursued it, caught it by the horns, or felled it by a blow from his
stick; after which his knife-blade did its office. The goat killed, he
threw it on his shoulders, and, almost as swiftly as before, regained
the cavernous grotto or leafy tree, in the shelter of which he could
this day eat and sleep. He had for a long time forsaken his cabin,
which was too far distant from his hunting-grounds.

If he had a stock of provision on hand, he still pursued the goats as
usual, but only for his personal gratification. If he caught one, he
contented himself with slitting its ear; this was his seal, the mark
by which he recognized his free flock. During the last years of his
abode in the island, he had killed or marked thus nearly five

[Footnote 1: Long after his departure from Juan Fernandez, the ship's
crews, who came there for supplies, or the pirates who took refuge
there, found goats whose ears had been slit by Selkirk's knife.]

In the natural course of things, as his physical powers increased, his
intelligence became enfeebled.

Necessity had at first aroused his industry, for all industry awakes
at the voice of want; but his own had been due rather to his
recollections than to his ingenuity. He thought himself a creator, he
was only an imitator.

Whatever may have been said by those who, in the pride of a deceitful
philosophy, have wished to glorify the power of the solitary man--if
the latter, supported by certain fortunate circumstances, can remain
some time in a state hardly endurable, it is not by his own strength,
but by means which society itself has furnished. This is the
incontestable truth, from which, in his pride, Selkirk had turned

Deprived of exercise and of aliment, his thoughts, no longer sustained
by reading the Holy Book, were day by day lost in a chaos of dreams
and reveries.

A prey to terrors which he could not explain, he feared darkness, he
trembled at the slightest sound of the wind among the branches; if it
blew violently, he thought the trees would be uprooted and crush him;
if the sea roared, he trembled at the idea of the submersion of his
entire island.

When he traversed the woods, especially if the heat was great, he
often heard, distinctly, voices which called him or replied. He caught
entire phrases; others remained unfinished. These phrases, connected
neither with his thoughts nor his situation, were strange to him.
Sometimes he even recognized the voice.

Now it was that of Catherine, scolding her servants; now that of
Stradling, of Dampier, or one of his college tutors. Once he heard
thus the voice of one of his classmates whom he least remembered; at
another time it was that of his old admiral, Rourke, uttering the
words of command.

If he attempted to raise his own to impose silence on these choruses
of demons who tormented him, it was only with painful efforts that he
could succeed in articulating some confused syllables.

He no longer talked, but he still sang; he sang the monotonous and
mournful airs of his psalms, the words of which he had totally
forgotten. His memory by degrees became extinct. Sometimes even, he
lost the sentiment of his identity; then, at least, his state of
isolation, and the memory of his misfortunes ceased to weigh upon him.

He nevertheless remembered, that about this time, having approached
Swordfish Beach, attracted by an unusual noise there, he had seen it
covered with soldiers and sailors, doubtless Spaniards. The idea of
finding himself among men, had suddenly made his heart beat; but when
he descended the declivity of the hills in order to join them, several
shots were fired; the balls whistled about his ears, and, filled with
terror, he had fled.

Once more he had found himself there, but without intending it, for
then he could no longer find his way, by the points of the compass,
through the woods and valleys leading to the shore. Ah! how had his
ancient abode changed its aspect! How many years had rolled away since
he lived there! The little gravelled paths, which conducted to the
grotto and the mimosa, were effaced; the mimosa, its principal
branches broken, seemed buried beneath its own ruins; of his
fish-pond, his bed of water-cresses, not a vestige remained; his
grotto, veiled, hid beneath the thick curtains of vines and
heliotropes, was no longer visible; his cabin had ceased to
exist,--overthrown, swept away doubtless, by a hurricane, as his
inclosure had been. He could discover the spot only by the five
myrtles, which, disembarrassed of their roof of reeds and their
plaster walls, had resumed their natural decorations, green and
glossy, as if the hatchet had never touched them. At their feet tufts
of briers and other underbrush had grown up, as formerly. The two
streams, the _Linnet_ and the _Stammerer_, alone had suffered no
change. The one with its gentle murmur, the other with its silvery
cascades, after having embraced the lawn, still continued to flow
towards the sea, where they seemed to have buried, with their waves,
the memory of all that had passed on their borders.

At sight of his shore, which seemed to have retained no vestige of
himself, Selkirk remained a few moments, mournful and lost in his
incoherent thoughts, in the midst of which this was most
prominent:--Yet alive, already forgotten by the world, I have seen my
traces disappear, even from this island which I have so long

A rustling was heard in the foliage; he raised his eyes, expecting to
see Marimonda swinging on the branch of a tree. Perceiving nothing, he
remembered that Marimonda reposed at the Oasis; he took the road from
the mountain which led thither, but when he arrived there, when he was
before her tomb, covered with tall grass, he had forgotten why he

One of those unaccountable fits of terror, which were now more
frequent than formerly, seized him, and he precipitately descended the
mountain, springing from peak to peak along the rocks.

The religious sentiment, which formerly sustained Selkirk in his
trials, was not entirely extinct; but it was obscured beneath his
darkened reason. His religion was only that of fear. When the sea was
violently agitated, when the storm howled, he prostrated himself with
clasped hands; but it was no longer God whom he implored; it was the
angry ocean, the thunder. He sought to disarm the genius of evil. The
lightning having one day struck, not far from him, a date-palm, he
worshipped the tree. His perverted faith had at last terminated in

This was, in substance, what Alexander Selkirk related to William
Dampier; what solitude had done for this man, still so young, and
formerly so intelligent; this was what had become of the despiser of
men, when left to his own reason.

Dampier listened with the most profound attention, interrupting him in
his narrative only by exclamations of interest or of pity. When he
ceased to speak, holding out his hand to him, he said:

'My boy, the lesson is a rude one, but let it be profitable to you;
let it teach you that _ennui_ on board a vessel, even with a
Stradling, is better than _ennui_ in a desert. Undoubtedly there are
among us troublesome, wicked people, but fewer wicked than
crack-brained. Believe, then, in friendship, especially in mine; from
this day it is yours, on the faith of William Dampier.'

And he opened his arms to the young man, who threw himself into them.

On their return to the vessel, Dampier presented to Selkirk his own
Bible. The latter seized it with avidity, and, after having turned
over its leaves as if to find a text which presented itself to his
mind, read aloud the following passage:

'He was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the
beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses; they fed him with
grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven.'--DANIEL
v. 21.


Capt. Rogers, in his turn, learned the misfortunes of Selkirk and
became attached to him; from this moment, the sailors themselves
showed him great deference; he was known among them by the name of
_the governor_, and this title clung to him.

To do the honors of his island, the governor one day gave to the crews
of the two vessels, the spectacle of one of his former hunts. Resuming
his ancient costume, he returned to the high mountains, where, before
their eyes, he started a goat, and darting in pursuit of it, over a
thousand cliffs, sometimes clearing frightful abysses, by means of a
vine which he seized on his passage,--this method he owed to
Marimonda,--he succeeded in forcing his game to the hills of the
shore. Arrived there, exhausted, panting, drawing itself up like a
stag at bay, the goat stopped short. Selkirk took it living on his
shoulders, and presented it to Capt. Rogers. Its ear was already slit.

By way of thanks, the captain announced that he might henceforth be
connected with the expedition, with his old rank of mate, which was
restored to him. For this favor Selkirk was indebted to the
solicitations of Dampier.

In the same vessel with Dampier, he made another three years' voyage,
visited Mexico, California, and the greater part of North America;
after which, still in company with Dampier, and possessor of a pretty
fortune, he returned to England, where the recital of his adventures,
already made public, secured him the most honorable patronage and
friendship. Among his friends, may be reckoned Steele, the co-laborer,
the rival of Addison, who consecrated a long chapter to him in his
publication of the Tatler.

Selkirk did not fail to visit Scotland. Passing through St. Andrew,
could he help experiencing anew the desire to see his old friend
pretty Kitty? Once more he appeared before the bar of the Royal
Salmon. This time, on meeting, Selkirk and Catherine both experienced
a sentiment of painful surprise. The latter, stouter and fuller than
ever, fat and red-faced, touched the extreme limit of her fourth and
last youth; the solitary of Juan Fernandez, with his gray hair, his
copper complexion, could scarcely recall to the respectable hostess of
the tavern the elegant pilot of the royal navy, still less the pale
and blond student, of whom she had been, eighteen years before, the
first and only love.

'Is it indeed you, my poor Sandy,' said she, with an accent of pity;
'I thought you were dead.'

'I have been nearly so, indeed, and a long time ago, Kitty. But who
has told you of me?'

'Alas! It was my husband himself.'

'You are married then, Catherine. So much the better.'

'So much the worse rather, my friend; for, would you believe it, the
old monster, bent double as he is with age and rheumatism, was bright
enough to dupe me finely; to dupe me twice. In the first place, by
making me believe you were dead when you were not. But he well knew,
the cheat, that if I refused him once, it was because my views were
turned in your direction.'

Selkirk made a movement which escaped Catherine; she continued:

'His second deception was to arrive here in triumph, in the midst of
the cries of joy and embraces of the _Sea-Dogs_ and _Old Pilots_. One
would have thought he had in his pockets all the mines of Guinea and
Peru. He did not say so, but I thought it could not be otherwise; and
I married him, since I believed you no longer living. His trick having
succeeded, he then told me of his shipwreck, his complete ruin. Ah!
with what a good heart would I have sent him packing! But it was too
late, and it became necessary that the Royal Salmon, founded by the
honorable Andrew Felton, should furnish subsistence for two; and this
is the reason why, Mr. Selkirk, you find me still here, a prisoner in
my bar, and cursing all the captains who make the tour of the world
only to come afterwards and impose upon poor and inexperienced young

Selkirk had not at first understood the lamentations of Catherine; but
a twilight commenced to dawn in his ideas; he divined that his name
had been used for an act of baseness; and, without being able to
account for it, he felt the return of an old leaven of spite, an old
hatred revived.

'Who is your husband? What is his name?' asked he, in a loud voice and
with a tone of authority.

'Do not grow angry, Sandy? Do not seek a quarrel with him now. What is
done, is done; I am his wife, do you understand? It is of no use to
recall the past.'

'And who thinks of recalling it? I simply asked you who he was?'

'You will be prudent; you promise me? Well! do you see him yonder, in
the second stall, at the same place he formerly occupied? He has just
poured out some gin to those sailors, and is drinking with them. It is
he who is standing up with an apron on.'

'Stradling!' exclaimed Selkirk, with sparkling eyes. But at the sight
of this apron, finding his old captain become a waiter, his hatred and
projects of vengeance were suddenly extinguished.

Alexander Selkirk returned to England in 1712. The history of his
captivity in the Island of Juan Fernandez had appeared in the papers;
several apocryphal relations had been already published, when in 1717,
Daniel De Foe published his _Robinson Crusoe_.

He is really the same personage; but in this latter version, the
Island of Juan Fernandez, in spite of distance and geographical
impossibilities, is peopled with savage Caribs; Marimonda is
transformed into the simple Friday; history is turned into romance,
but this romance is elevated to all the dignity of a philosophical

Rendering full justice to the merit of the writer, we must
nevertheless acknowledge that he has completely altered, in a mental
view, the physiognomy of his model. Robinson is not a man suffering
entire isolation; he has a companion, and the savages are incessantly
making inroads around him. It is the European developing the resources
of his industry, to contend at once with an unproductive land and the
dangers created by his enemies.

Selkirk has no enemies to repulse, and he inhabits a fruitful country.
He needs, before every thing else, the presence of man, one of those
fraternal affections in which he refuses to believe. His sufferings
originate in his very solitude. In solitude, Robinson improves and
perfects himself; Selkirk, at first as full of resources as he, ends
by becoming discouraged and brutified.

Which of the two is most true to nature?

The first is an ideal being, for in no quarter of the globe has there
ever been found one analogous to the Robinson of De Foe; the other, on
the contrary, is to be met with every where, denying the dependence of
an isolated individual; but this dependence, even in the midst of a
prodigal nature, if it is not to the honor of man, is to the honor of
society at large.

Notwithstanding all that has been said, the solitary is a man
imbruted, vegetating, deprived of his crown. 'Solitude is sweet only
in the vicinity of great cities.'[1] By an admirable decree of
Providence, the isolated being is an imperfect being; man is completed
by man.

[Footnote 1: Bernardin de St. Pierre. Seneca had said: _Miscenda et
alternanda sunt solitudo et frequentia_.]

Notwithstanding the false maxims of a deceitful philosophy, it is to
the social state that we owe, from the greatest to the least, the
courage which animates and sustains us; God has created us to live
there and to love one another; it is for this reason that selfishness
is a shameful vice, a crime! It is, so to speak, an infringement of
one of the great laws of Nature.




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