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5

Learning to live alone

 

I still needed a lot of things. ‘Well,’I said,‘I'm going to have to make them. ’So,every day,I worked.

First of all,I wanted to make my cave bigger. I carried out stone from the cave,and after many days' hard work I had a large cave in the side of the hill. Then I needed a table and a chair,and that was my next job. I had to work on them for a long time. I also wanted to make places to put all my food,and all my tools and guns. But every time I wanted a piece of wood,I had to cut down a tree. It was long,slow,difficult work,and during the next months I learnt to be very clever with my tools. There was no hurry. I had all the time in the world.

I also went out every day,and I always had my gun with me. Sometimes I killed a wild animal,and then I had meat to eat.

But when it got dark,I had to go to bed because I had no light. I couldn't read or write because I couldn't see. For a long time,I didn't know what to do. But in the end,I learnt how to use the fat of dead animals to make a light.

The weather on my island was usually very hot,and there were often storms and heavy rain. The next June,it rained all the time,and I couldn't go out very often. I was also ill for some weeks,but slowly,I got better. When I was stronger,I began to go out again. The first time I killed a wild animal,and the second time I caught a big turtle.

I was on the island for ten months before I visited other parts of it. During those months I worked hard on my cave and my house and my fence. Now I was ready to find out more about the rest of the island.

First,I walked along the side of a little river. There,I found open ground without trees. Later,I came to more trees with many different fruits. I decided to take a lot of the fruit,and to put it to dry in the sun for a time. Then I could keep it for many months.

That night I went to sleep in a tree for the second time,and the next day I went on with my journey. Soon I came to an opening in the hills. In front of me,everything was green,and there were flowers everywhere. There were also a lot of differ-ent birds and animals. I saw that my house was on the worst side of the island. But I didn't want to move from there. It was my home now. I stayed away for three days,and then I came home. But I often went back to the other,greener side of the island.

And so my life went on. Every month I learnt to do or to make something new. But I had troubles and accidents too. Once there was a terrible storm with very heavy rain. The roof of my cave fell in,and nearly killed me!I had to build it up again with many pieces of wood.

I had a lot of food now. I cooked it over a fire or dried it in the sun. So I always had meat during the rainy months when I could not go out with a gun. I learnt to make pots to keep my food in. But I wanted very much to make a harder,stronger pot—a pot that would not break in a fire. I tried many times,but I could not do it. Then one day I was lucky. I made some new pots and put them in a very hot fire. They changed colour,but did not break. I left them there for many hours,and when they were cold again,I found that they were hard and strong. That night I was very happy. I had hot water for the first time on the island.

By then,I also had my own bread. That was luck,too. One day I found a little bag. We used it on the ship,to keep the chickens' food in. There was still some of the food in the bag,and I dropped some of it onto the ground. A month later I saw something bright green there,and after six months I had a very small field of corn. I was very excited. Perhaps now I could make my own bread!

It was easy to say,but not so easy to do. It is a lot of work to make bread from corn. Many people eat bread,but how many people can take corn from a field and make bread out of it without help?I had to learn and to make many new things,and it was a year before I cooked and ate my first bread.

During all this time I never stopped thinking about escape. When I travelled across to the other side of the island,I could see the other islands,and I said to myself,‘Perhaps I can get there with a boat. Perhaps I can get back to England one day. ’

So I decided to make myself a boat. I cut down a big tree,and then began to make a long hole in it. It was hard work,but about six months later,I had a very fine canoe. Next,I had to get it down to the sea. How stupid I was!Why didn't I think before I began work?Of course,the canoe was too heavy. I couldn't move it!I pulled and pushed and tried everything,but it didn't move. I was very unhappy for a long time after that.

That happened in my fourth year on the island. In my sixth year I did make myself a smaller canoe,but I did not try to es-cape in it. The boat was too small for a long journey,and I did not want to die at sea. The island was my home now,not my prison,and I was just happy to be alive. A year or two later,I made myself a second canoe on the other side of the island. I also built myself a second house there,and so I had two homes.

My life was still busy from morning to night. There were al-ways things to do or to make. I learnt to make new clothes for myself from the skins of dead animals. They looked very strange,it is true,but they kept me dry in the rain.

I kept food and tools at both my houses,and also wild goats. There were many goats on the island,and I made fields with high fences to keep them in. They learnt to take food from me,and soon I had goat's milk to drink every day. I also worked hard in my cornfields. And so many years went by.

 


 

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