Chapter 27

 

The year had passed so quickly and soon it was September again. I have been on the island two years now. I was no longer as sad and desperate as I was immediately after the shipwreck. I had grown to accept my destiny and was thankful for being well and alive.

I still kept my daily schedule. I was hunting in the morning, cooking at lunchtime, relaxing in the afternoon when it was the hottest, and working in the evening. My work was still difficult and time-consuming. For example, it took me 42 days to make a shelf out of a big board.

In the months of November and December I was occupied with my crop of rice and barley. The goats and the wild hares were eating the stalks of both as soon as they came up. I risked losing all of it, so I quickly made an enclosure around the place where I had sown the rice and barley. I would also tie my dog there to guard my crops at night.
Soon the stalks were tall, but then another danger appeared. Birds of all kinds started eating the grains. I shot some and kept an eye on my crops until the rest of the birds were gone. At the end of December I reaped my first crop. I did not have any tools to cut it properly, clean or grind the grains, so I decided to leave it all for seed.

Meanwhile I began preparing the tools I would need in a year’s time. I spent the next rainy season doing this and I also taught the parrot to say its name, Poll.

I realized I needed earthen pots to keep the grain. I looked for clay around the island. I found some and after two months of experiments I succeeded in making two large jars. To protect them better I put them in wicker baskets and placed rice and barley straws between the basket and the clay pot. This way I furnished myself with pots for the grains.

Now that I knew how, I continued making myself small pots, plates, pitchers. One day, quite by accident, I found a broken piece of one of my pots in the fire. The heat had turned it as hard as stone and as red as a tile.

I used this observation and placed several pots one upon the other. Then I set fire around them. After a few hours they were all very hard and the bottom one was even glazed, because the sand under it had melted and turned into glass.