Alas! does not reflection quickly diminish this lively joy at his return and safety? From this shipwreck, poor sailor, thou hast saved only thyself: thy tools, thy instruments of labor, even thy Bible, are a prey to the sea!
It is now, Selkirk, that thou must suffice for thyself! It is the last trial to which thou canst be subjected!
The Island of Juan Fernandez.—Encounter in the Mountains.—Discussion. —A New Captivity.—A Cannon-shot.—Dampier and Selkirk.—Mas a Fuera. —News of Stradling.—Confidences.—End of the History of the real Robinson Crusoe.—Nebuchadnezzar.
On the 1st of February, 1709, an English vessel, equipped and sent to sea by the merchants of Bristol, after having sailed around Cape Horn, in company with another vessel belonging to the same expedition, touched alone, about the 33d degree of south latitude, at the Island of Juan Fernandez, from a hundred and ten to a hundred and twenty leagues distant from the coast of Chili.
The second ship was to join her without delay. Symptoms of the scurvy had appeared on board, and it was intended to remain here for some time, to give the crew opportunity of recovering their health.
Their tents pitched, towards evening several sailors, having ventured upon the island, were not a little surprised to see, through the obscurity, a strange being, bearing some resemblance to the human form, who, at their approach, scaling the mountains, leaping from rock to rock, fled with the rapidity of a deer, the lightness of a chamois.
Some doubted whether it was a man, and prepared to fire at him. They were prevented by an officer named Dower, who accompanied them.
On their return to their companions, the sailors related what they had seen; Dower did not fail to do the same among the officers; and this evening, at the encampment on the shore, in the forecastle as well as on the quarter-deck, there were narratives and suppositions that would ‘amuse an assembly of Puritans through the whole of Lent,’ says the account from which we borrow a part of our information.
At this period, tales of the marvellous gained great credence among sailors. Not long before, the Spaniards had discovered giants in Patagonia; the Portuguese, sirens in the seas of Brazil; the French, tritons and satyrs at Martinique; the Dutch, black men, with feet like lobsters, beyond Paramaribo.
The strange individual under discussion was unquestionably a satyr, or at least one of those four-footed, hairy men, such as the authentic James Carter declared he had met with in the northern part of America.
Some, thinking this conclusion too simple, adroitly insinuated that no one among the sailors who had met this monster, had noticed in him so great a number of paws. Why four paws?—why should he not be a monopedous man, a man whose body, terminated by a single leg, cleared, with this support alone, considerable distances? Was not the existence of the monopedous man attested by modern travellers, and even in antiquity and the middle ages, by Pliny and St. Augustine?