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6

A footprint

 

Then,one year,something strange and terrible happened. I often walked along the shore,and one day I saw something in the sand. I went over to look at it more care-fully,and stopped in sudden surprise.

It was a footprint—the footprint of a man!

Who could this be?Afraid,I looked around me. I listened. I waited. Nothing. I was more and more afraid. Perhaps this man was one of those wild people who killed and ate other men!I looked everywhere,but there was nobody,and no other foot-print. I turned and hurried home. ‘There's someone on my is-land,’I said to myself. ‘Perhaps he knows about me…Per-haps he's watching me now from behind a tree…Perhaps he wants to kill me. ’

That night I couldn't sleep. The next day I got all my guns ready and I put more wood and young trees around my house. Nobody could see me now. But,after fifteen years alone on the island,I was afraid,and I did not leave my cave for three days.

In the end,I had to go out to milk my goats. But for two years I was afraid. I stayed near my home and I never used my guns because I didn't want to make a noise. I could not forget the footprint,but I saw and heard nothing more,and slowly I began to feel happier.

One day,a year later,I was over on the west side of the is-land. From there I could see the other islands,and I could also see a boat,far out to sea. ‘If you have a boat,’I thought,‘it's easy to sail across to this island. Perhaps that explains the foot-print—it was a visitor from one of the other islands. ’

I began to move more freely around the island again,and built myself a third house. It was a very secret place in a cave. ‘No wild man will ever find that,’I said to myself.

Then one year something happened which I can never forget. I was again on the west side of the island and was walk-ing along the shore. Suddenly,I saw something which made me feel ill. There were heads,arms,feet,and other pieces of men's bodies everywhere. For a minute,I couldn't think,and then I understood. Sometimes there were fights between the wild men on the other islands. Then they came here to my island with their prisoners,to kill them,cook them,and eat them. Slowly,I went home,but I was very angry. How could men do this?

For many months I watched carefully for the smoke from fires,but I didn't see anything. Somehow the wild men came and went,and I never saw them. I was angry and afraid. I wanted to shoot them all,but there were many of them and on-ly one of me. ‘Perhaps I can shoot two or three,’I said to my-self,‘but then they will kill and eat me. ’

Then,one morning in my twenty-third year on the island,I was out in my fields and I saw the smoke from a fire. Quickly,I went up the hill to watch.

There were nine men around the fire,and they were cooking their terrible food. Then these wild men danced round the fire,singing and shouting. This went on for about two hours,and then they got into their boats and sailed away. I went down to the shore and saw the blood of the dead men on the sand. ‘The next time they come,I'm going to kill them,’I said angrily.

 


 

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