Chapter 1 - I Go To Sea
I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York in England. I was the youngest of three brothers. My eldest brother, who was a soldier, was killed in the war against the Spaniards, and I don't know what happened to my other brother. My father was a very wise man, and he taught me a lot about his business. He wanted me to work for him when I was older, but I always wanted to go to sea.
My father often asked me why I wanted to leave home and England to become a sailor. He said if I stayed at home, I would have a very good life. My parents were old now, and I was the only son left to inherit his business. If I decided to go to sea, neither God nor my parents could help me. My father said that only very rich and very poor people went to sea looking for adventure. People in the middle like ourselves stayed at home and took care of their business.
When I turned eighteen, I told my parents that now the time had come for me to become a sailor. I didn't want to work for my father, and I begged my parents to let me go to sea instead. I promised them that if I didn't like the life of a sailor, I would come home and never talk about the sea again. My mother cried when she heard this, and my father said, "That boy could be happy if he stayed at home. If he leaves England, he will be the unhappiest man in the world! I can't let him do this!"
Nearly a year later, I went to Hull to visit a friend who was a sailor. He told me many exciting stories about life at sea. On September 1st, 1651, I decided to go on board his ship without telling my parents. Soon after we had sailed from Hull, the wind began to blow and the waves looked bigger than mountains. I felt terribly sick and was afraid that I was going to die. The ship rolled back and forth, and I thought it was going to break in half. Every time a big wave hit the ship, I was sure God was punishing me for leaving my parents. I promised God that if he let me live, I would go straight back to my parents' house and never set foot on a ship again.
In the evening the wind dropped, and the sea was completely calm. I sat on deck and watched the sun set and rise again the next morning. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. I looked down at the sea. How could this be the same water as the night before?
"Well, Robinson," said my friend, putting his hand on my shoulder. "How are you feeling today? You were frightened by that bit of wind yesterday, weren't you?"
"That bit of wind, you say?" I replied. "That was a storm!"
"A storm?" he said, laughing. "You call that a storm, you fool! Why, that was just a breeze!"
When we arrived in London, I forgot about the promise I had made to God. Instead, I walked around the streets of London, trying to decide where to go next. I met the captain of a ship that was leaving for Africa the next day. When he heard I was looking for adventure, he said I could come along on his ship, not as a sailor, but as his guest. I happily agreed, and we sailed for Africa the next morning.
Chapter 2 - Pirates!
As we sailed past the Canary Islands in the early morning fog, our ship was attacked by Turkish pirates. We set our sails as high as we could, but the pirate ship was much faster than ours. Our men began to prepare for a battle against the pirates.
We had only twelve cannons aboard our ship, while the pirates had eighteen. We could see over two hundred men standing on the deck of the pirate ship, waiting for us with their guns and swords. At first about sixty pirates boarded us. They shot at us and cut down our sails with their swords. We returned their fire and killed most of them before the next wave of pirates boarded us. After a long battle in which we lost several men, we were forced to surrender to the pirates.
They took us to the port of Sallee, which belonged to the Moors of Morocco. I was very lucky, because I was not taken to the king of Morocco's prison together with the other men. Instead, I was made the slave of the Turkish pirate captain. A few weeks earlier, I had been a carefree young man in York, and now I was a miserable slave in Sallee. I remembered my father and what he had said to me.
My new master ordered me to work in his house with his other slaves. I hoped he would take me with him the next time he went to sea. Perhaps his pirate ship would be attacked by a Spanish warship, and I could escape from him. Every night I dreamed about going home to England.
For two years I looked after the pirate captain's house and garden, waiting for my chance to escape. Sometimes the captain took me and one of the other slaves fishing in a small boat. One calm morning while we were fishing out at sea, a fog came down on us so fast that we were completely lost. For a day and a night we sailed towards what we thought was land. When the fog finally lifted, we realized we had been sailing out to sea the whole time.
The pirate captain was very worried by this. As soon as we got back to Sallee, he ordered that the little fishing boat should always have a compass, several guns, some food and plenty of water aboard, in case we should ever get lost again.
Chapter 3 - I Escape From Sallee
Some days later the pirate captain ordered me to go fishing with two Moors who also worked for him. The captain was too busy with some Turkish guests to come with us himself. I knew that now I finally had my chance to escape!
"We must bring our own food on the boat," I said to the two Moors. "We can't eat our master's food."
They agreed and went to get some more bread and meat.
"You know," I said to them when they came back, "we may have a chance to shoot some seabirds. Wouldn't that make our master happy! We should take some more gunpowder, just in case, don't you think?"
The Moors went back and got some more gunpowder from the pirate captain's house.
With everything on board, we sailed out of Sallee past the Moors' castle. The guards didn't even look at us, because we had sailed by them so many times before. When we were about a mile out, we lowered the sail and started to fish. I had hoped for a south wind, so I could escape towards Spain, but the wind blew from the north. I decided that I didn't care where the wind took me, so long as it took me away from Sallee.
We fished for a while but didn't catch anything.
"Our master won't be happy if we don't catch any fish!" I said angrily. "I think we should go farther out to sea."
The Moors said that this was a good idea, and we sailed out another mile. When we had taken the sail down again, I went up behind the older Moor, who was standing in the front of the boat. I bent down as if I was going to pick something up from the deck. Instead I grabbed the Moor's legs and threw him overboard. He swam back up to the boat, begging me to take him back.
I got one of the guns and pointed it at him. "If you do as I say, I won't shoot you," I told him. "You're a very good swimmer, so swim back to Sallee. But if you come near the boat, I'll shoot you through the head, I'm not going back to Sallee!"
The man turned around and started to swim back towards the shore. I knew he would reach Sallee safely. When he was gone, I turned to the other Moor, who was called Xury. He was just a boy and looked very frightened.
"Xury," I said to him, "if you are loyal to me, I'll let you come with me. But if you aren't, I'll have to throw you into the sea as well."
The boy smiled and promised to be loyal to me. He said that he would go anywhere in the world with me, and I believed him.
Chapter 4 - We Sail South
At first I sailed the boat north, in case the other Moor looked back while he was swimming to Sallee. I knew that the best thing to do was to go north towards Europe. To go south might mean meeting the wild animals and natives of that part of Africa. Towards evening, however, I turned the boat around and sailed south. I was too afraid that the pirate captain would come after us and catch us if we continued north. If we sailed south towards the Cape Verde Islands, we might meet a European slave ship.
The wind was so strong that by the next day we were already about 150 miles south of Sallee and well beyond the kingdom of Morocco. We sailed straight south for another five days before I finally dared to sail closer to the coast. On the evening of the fifth day, we stopped near a little river. I wanted to swim ashore and get some fresh water.
When it got dark, we heard the terrible howling of wild animals. Xury almost died of fright and begged me not to swim ashore until the next morning.
"Well, Xury," I said, "then I'll wait. But it's just as dangerous for us to be seen by natives during the day as by wild animals at night."
"Then we'll shoot them with our guns," said Xury.
We slept very little that night. In the moonlight, we saw a lot of strange animals come down to the river to drink. I had never heard such terrible noises before in my life. Suddenly we heard a splash and saw that one of the animals was swimming towards our boat. Xury shouted that it was a lion, and I fired my gun at it. The animal howled and swam back to the shore.
By the next morning the animals had gone, and I got ready to swim across to the river. When he heard me, Xury jumped up and said he wanted to go instead of me.
"But why should you go?" I asked him.
Xury looked at me. "That way, if the wild men come, they will eat me, and you can get away!"
"Well, Xury," I said, smiling, "we'll both go, and if the wild men come, we'll kill them like you said, and nobody will get eaten!"
We swam to the river carrying our guns and two empty water bottles. When we had filled the bottles, I stayed by the river where I could see the boat. Xury, however, was so excited that he ran down along the shore until he was gone. After a little while, I saw him come running towards me as if he were being chased by wild animals or natives. With my gun in my hand, I started to run towards him, but then I saw something hanging over his shoulder. It was a small animal that he had shot, and he proudly held it out to me. It looked a bit like a hare, but it was a different colour and had longer legs. We made a fire next to the river, and the meat tasted very good.
The following day we sailed south again, looking out for a European ship to take me home.
sailor, person who lives and works on a ship
to inherit, to receive something when someone dies
to beg, to ask with deep feeling
to punish, to hurt someone for doing something wrong
breeze, light wind
to surrender, to give oneself up
Moor, (in old days) Muslim in northwest Africa
slave, someone who is forced to work for no money
gunpowder, black powder that makes a gun shoot
loyal, can be trusted
native, person whi lives in a country
to dare, to be brave enough to do something
to howl, to make a long, loud sound like a dog or wolf
hare, an animal like a rabbit, but bigger
Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe. Easy Classics - After 4 years of English; Aschehoug A/S, Egmont, Denmark, 1996