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7

Man Friday

 

For two years I never went anywhere without my gun. I felt lonely and afraid,and had many sleepless nights. One night there was a very bad storm,and I thought I heard the sound of guns out at sea. The next morning I looked out,and saw a ship. It was lying on its side not far from the shore. Quickly,I put my little boat in the water and sailed out to it.

There were two dead men on the ship,but no one alive. The bodies of the other sailors were lost in the sea. I took some clothes and tools,and also a box of Spanish gold and silver money. I was a rich man now,but what use was money to me?I could not buy anything with it.

I wanted people,a friend,somebody to talk to…somebody who could help me escape from my island. One morning I woke up and made a plan. ‘I'll try to catch one of the prisoners of the wild men,’I said to myself. ‘He'll be happy to be alive and perhaps he'll help me to escape. ’I watched day and night,but for a year and a half there were no boats.

Then one day five boats came. There were about thirty men and they had two prisoners. They made their fire on the sand and danced round it. Then they killed one of the prisoners and began to cook their terrible meal. The second prisoner waited under the trees,with two men to watch him. Suddenly,the prisoner turned and ran. The two men ran after him,but the other wild men were busy round the fire and did not see what was happening.

The prisoner ran like a wild goat,and soon I saw that he was coming near the bottom of my hill. As fast as I could,I ran down the hill and jumped out of the trees between the prisoner and the two wild men. I hit the first man with the wooden end of my gun and he fell down,but I had to shoot the second man. The poor prisoner did not move. He was afraid of the noise of my gun.

I called to him and tried to show him that I was friendly. Slowly,he moved nearer to me,but just then the first wild man began to get up from the ground. Then the prisoner spoke and I understood that he wanted my sword. How happy I was to hear words again!I gave him my sword,and at once he cut off the head of his enemy.

Hurriedly,we hid the dead bodies under some leaves,and then left quickly. I took my prisoner to my secret cave on the other side of the island and gave him food and drink. After that,he went to sleep.

He was a fine young man,about twenty-five years old,tall and well-built,with a kind face and a nice smile. He had a brown skin,black hair,bright eyes and strong white teeth. I decided to give him the name of‘Man Friday’,because I first saw him on a Friday.

When he woke up in the morning,he ran out to me. I was milking my goats in the field,and he got down on the ground and put his head near my foot. I understood that he was thank-ing me,and I tried to show him that I was his friend.

I began to teach him to speak English,and soon he could say his name,‘Master’,and‘Yes’and‘No’. How good it was to hear a man's voice again!

Later that day we went back to my first house. We went carefully along the beach,but there were no boats and no wild men. Just blood and bones all over the sand. I felt ill,but Fri-day wanted to eat the pieces of men's bodies which were still on the ground. I showed him that this was terrible for me,and he understood.

When we got to my house,I gave Man Friday some trousers,and I made him a coat and a hat. He liked his new clothes very much. Then I made him a little tent to sleep in,but for a few weeks I always took my gun to bed with me. Per-haps Friday was still a wild man and would try to kill me in the night. At first,Friday was very afraid of my gun. Some-times he talked to it,and asked it not to kill him.

Friday was a quick learner and his English got better day by day. He helped me with the goats and with the work in the cornfields,and soon we were good friends. I enjoyed teaching him and,most of all,having a friend to talk to. This was the happiest of all my years on the island.

Friday and I lived together happily for three years. I told him the story of my adventures and about life in England,and he told me about his country and his people. One day we were at the top of the highest hill on the island,and we were looking out to sea. It was a very clear day and we could see a long way. Suddenly,Friday began to jump up and down,very excited.

What's the matter?’I said.

Look,Master,look!’Friday cried. ‘I can see my country. Look over there!’

I looked,and there to the north-west,between the sea and the sky,was a long thin piece of land. I learnt later that it was the island of Trinidad,and that my island was in the mouth of the River Orinoco on the north coast of South America.

I began to think again about escape. Perhaps Friday wanted to go home too. Perhaps together we could get to his country. But what then?Would Friday still be my friend,or would his people kill me and eat me?

I took Friday to the other side of the island and showed him my big canoe. It still lay under the trees. It was very old now,and there were holes in the wood.

Could a boat like this sail to your country,Friday?’I asked him.

Oh yes,’he answered. ‘A boat like this can carry a lot of food and drink. ’

Then we'll make another canoe like it,and you can go home in it,’I said.

But Friday looked very unhappy. ‘Why are you angry with me?’he asked. ‘What have I done?Why do you want to send me home?’

But I thought you wanted to go home,’I said.

Yes. But you must come with me. Kill me if you want,but don't send me away from you!’

Then I saw that Friday was a true friend,and so I agreed to go with him. We began work on the canoe at once. Friday chose the tree himself—he understood wood better than I did—and we cut it down. We worked hard and in a month the boat was finished. Two weeks later it was in the sea,and we began to get ready for our long journey.

 


 

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