The Storm | Robinson Crusoe | Daniel Defoe

The Storm

For nearly four years I lived like this, growing sugar and tobacco. But as my wealth increased, became restless. When some other planters asked me to go with them to Guinea to collect Africans to work on our land, I agreed. They offered to provide the ship, and share the prisoners with me. I should have refused, but my excitement led me on. And in 1659 we set sail.

At first all went well; then a violent storm blew up, and for twelve days we expected each minute to be our last. When the wind died down a little, we found we were thousands of miles off our direction. As the ship was taking in water, we decided to sail for Barbados. But a second storm came upon us, and drove us further off our direction.

For nearly four years I lived like this, growing sugar and tobacco. But as my wealth increased, became restless.

With the wind still blowing hard, one of our seamen called out, “Land!”

As we looked out, the ship hit a sand-bank. We were terrified. We did not know where we were. The wind was still blowing hard and we could not even hope that the ship would hold together unless the wind changed. So we sat looking at one another, expecting death at any moment and preparing, each in his own way, to meet his God.

We were in a terrible situation. Our ship was struck. We had a small boat on the ship, but doubted whether we could get her into the sea. However, there was no time to argue, for we expected the ship to break in at any moment. So we lifted the boat over the ship’s side, and put ourselves at the mercy of God and of the wild sea.

The waves were terribly high. We saw that they must soon cover our boat, and kill us all. We had no sail; and if we had, it would have torn in such a wind. So we rowed towards the land, like men going to their death. We all knew that when the boat came nearer the shore, the sea would break it into a thousand pieces.

Whether the shore was rock or sand, we could not tell. Our only hope was to reach a river mouth, with smooth water. But nothing like this appeared. As we drew nearer the shore, the land seemed more terrifying than the sea.

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After we had rowed about three miles, a huge wave, mountain-high, came tolling upon us from behind. It hit us with such a force that it overturned the boat. It separated us from the boat, and from each other.

The wave seized me and threw me down near dry land. As I fought to get out of the water, another wave caught me, and buried me twenty feet inside its body. I held my breath and tried to swim forward as hard as I could. I felt firm ground and stood up to get my breath. But then another wave threw me a rock, and knocked the breath from me. against It nearly broke every bone in my body. I held on to the rock as the wave went back, and then I ran through the water to dry land. Here I sat on the grass out of reach of the terrible waves.

Safe and on dry land, I looked up and thanked God. He had saved my life. I walked along the shore, thinking how He had saved me alone of all our company; for I never saw my companions again, nor any sign of them, except three of their hats, and two shoes.

I looked towards the ship, far away. Lord! I thought. How did I ever reach land, through such waves? Then I looked to see what kind of a place I was in, and what I should do next. My heart sank.

I was wet, with no dry clothes, nothing to eat or drink, nor any chance of anything. If I did not die of hunger first, I expected to be killed by wild animals.

I had no weapons either to hunt for food, or to defend myself. I had nothing except a knife, a pipe, and a little tobacco.

As night fell, I became afraid. I decided to climb up a tree, and consider about next day, which form of death to choose, for death seemed certain. But first I walked a few hundred yards to see if I could find any fresh water. At last I was delighted to find a stream, and when I had drunk, I climbed a tree. I cut a short stick for my defense, and arranged myself as comfortably as I could. I was tired, and so slept, and felt much better after it.

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