Danger Signals

Danger Signals

Then something very strange happened. One day I was going along the shore toward my boat when I saw a man’s footprint in the sand. I stood there too surprised to move. I listened; I looked all around me, but could not hear or see anything.

I went up a hill to look farther; I went up and down the shore, but there was no one and no other footprint. I went to the printer again to make sure I had not imagined it. There it was, very clear indeed. I turned and ran home, looking behind me every few steps. I thought every bush or tree I saw was a man, and my mind was full of wild imaginations.

Then something very strange happened. One day I was going along the shore toward my boat when I saw a man's footprint in the sand.

I went up my ladder and pulled it after me; my heart was racing and my mouth was dry. I did not sleep that night. Sometimes I thought the footprint was the devil; for how could any human being reach my island? Where was the ship that brought him, and where was the print of any other feet? Then I realized how foolish I was. Would the devil take human shape simply to leave a footprint to frighten me? Surely he could have left his footprint nearer my home, rather than on the sand where the tide would wash it away.

Then I wondered if the footprint came from one of the Indians on the mainland. Perhaps they had been driven to my island by winds and currents in their boats, then gone away again. Then I wondered if they had found my boat, and so realized that someone was living on the island. If so, perhaps they would come again, in greater number, and kill and eat me. And, even if they did not find me, they might find my fields, carry away my corn and goats, and leave me to die of hunger.

All my confidence in God seemed to leave me. It is strange; at one time I wanted, more than anything else, to see another wall, to give me room to see the enemy if they came over this fence.

In two years I had fine young trees. No one could imagine there was a house behind those trees. I got in and out with ladders, as before. When the two ladders were down, no man could follow me without hurting himself; and if they had managed it, there was still my outer wall, with its guns.

While I was doing this, I was worried about my goats. The plentiful meat supply saved me a lot of bullets and also the trouble of hunting. However, I was afraid of losing them and having to start the whole job all over again. After much thought, I found two possible answers. I could dig a cave for them and drive them into it every night or keep a few goats in a separate field. If anything happened to my big herd, I would still have a few goats left. This was the most sensible idea, though it meant a lot of hard work.

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So I found a small piece of ground with thick wood all around. In about a month I fenced it around and put ten young she-goats and two he-goats there. All You will remember is all this cause of one footprint in the sand! These two years of great uneasiness and anxiety affected my whole life, including my confidence in God. I was not often in the right state of mind for praying.

One day, while looking for another safe place to put a few goats, I thought I saw a boat on the sea. Unable to see clearly, I gave up. I began to feel that it was not so strange to see a footprint after all. I thanked God for landing me on the other side of the island. On this side, near the mainland, I felt, Indians often came either to land their boats in bad weather or after a fight, to cut their poor prisoners.

For now, I saw on the sand many bones, the bones of men; and I saw a place where a fire had been. I was surprised and at first, had no sense of danger. Feeling sick, and unable to stay there another moment, turned and ran towards home. Some way from that terrible place, I stood and thanked God with tears in my eyes. Though I was very unhappy, I had a lot to thank Him for.

I was sure that Indians did not expect anyone to live on the island, so I was not in danger.

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