At last, after some weeks, when they had got south as far as the great cape that is called Cape Verde, they saw a Portuguese vessel, which took them on board. It was not easy for Robinson to tell who he was, because he could not talk Portuguese, but everybody was very kind to him, and they bought his boat and his guns and everything that he had. They even bought poor Xury, who, of course, was a black slave, and could be sold just like a horse or a dog.
So, when they got to Brazil, where the vessel was bound, Robinson had enough money to buy a plantation; and he grew sugar and tobacco there for four years, and was very happy and contented for a time, and made money.
But he could never be contented for very long. So when some of his neighbors asked him if he would go in a ship to the Guinea Coast to get slaves for them, he went, only making a bargain that he was to be paid for his trouble, and to get some of the slaves to work on his plantation when he came back.
Twelve days after the ship sailed, a terrible storm blew, and they were driven far from where they wanted to go. Great, angry, foaming seas broke over the deck, sweeping everything off that could be moved, and a man and a boy were carried overboard and drowned. No one on the ship expected to be saved.
This storm was followed by another, even worse. The wind howled and roared through the rigging, and the weather was thick with rain and flying spray.
Then early one morning land was dimly seen through the driving rain, but almost at once the vessel struck on a sand-bank. In an instant the sails were blown to bits, and flapped with such uproar that no one could hear the Captain’s orders. Waves poured over the decks, and the vessel bumped on the sand so terribly that the masts broke off near the deck, and fell over the side into the sea.
With great difficulty the only boat left on the ship was put in the water, and everybody got into her. They rowed for the shore, hoping to get perhaps into some bay, or to the mouth of a river, where the sea would be quiet.
But before they could reach the land, a huge gray wave, big like the side of a house, came foaming and thundering up behind them, and before any one could even cry out, it upset the boat, and they were all left struggling in the water.
Robinson was a very good swimmer, but no man could swim in such a sea, and it was only good fortune that brought him at last safely to land. Big wave after big wave washed him further and further up the beach, rolling him over and over, once leaving him helpless, and more than half drowned, beside a rock.
But before the next wave could come up, perhaps to drag him back with it into the sea, he was able to jump up and run for his life.
And so he got safely out of the reach of the water, and lay down upon the grass. But of all on board the ship, Robinson was the only one who was not drowned.