Chapter 31


I was uneasy and wanted to go to that part of the island where the dangerous water currents ran. One day I set out to reach that part of the island. On the way there I thought to myself how ridiculous I must have appeared in the eyes of an Englishman. I had a big hat, a short jacket and knee-length trousers all made out of goatskin. I did not have socks or shoes but had used some laces and tied some goatskin around my feet. I had two belts – one for the sword and knife, and one for the gunpowder. On my back I had a basket. I also carried a gun on my shoulder and an umbrella made out of goatskin above my head. My beard and moustaches were pretty long. I realized I was looking very unusual from what I used to wear years ago.

One day, about lunchtime, I was walking on the beach going to check on my boat when I came across something surprising. I saw the mark of a human footstep on the sand. I looked around but I could not see anyone. I was terrified. I hurried back to my fortification and fastened the door. I was so scared I could not sleep that night. Why was there no boat? Why were there no more footprints? I was horrified and started thinking that perhaps I had imagined it all. After a while I decided that it must be the step of one of the savages who probably inhabited the islands around. I began to worry whether they had seen my boat and were now preparing to attack me.

Then I convinced myself that maybe I had seen the mark of my own foot and I had been a fool to get scared by it. This realization made me feel more confident and after 3 days of hiding I finally left my fortification. I milked the goats and then, once I had gathered courage, I went to see the footstep again. When I approached I saw that it was very unlikely that I had passed that way when going to my boat. Moreover, the step was much bigger than the size of my foot. It was impossible that the step was mine.

I got scared again. That night I considered letting all my animals into the wild, destroying my crops and my summer house so that no trace of human habitation is left on the island. I was so afraid that I could not fall asleep the whole night. On the morning I finally dozed off and when I woke up my head was clear. Now it did not seem that strange that there should be people on the islands around. Perhaps they come to the shore of my island occasionally or now the wind carried them this way for the first time. I remembered that for the fifteen years I had been on the island I had never seen another human being or discovered any signs of a settlement here. This calmed me down.