But his father wanted him to be a lawyer, and he often talked to Robinson, and told him of the terrible things that might happen to him if he went away, and how people who stopped at home were always the happiest. He told him, too, how Robinson’s brother had gone away, and had been killed in the wars.
So Robinson promised at last that he would give up wanting to be a sailor. But in a few days the longing came back as bad as ever, and he asked his mother to try to coax his father to let him go just one voyage. But his mother was very angry, and his father said, “If he goes abroad he will be the most miserable wretch that ever was born. I can give no consent to it.”
Robinson stopped at home for another year, till he was nineteen years old, all the time thinking and thinking of the sea. But one day when he had gone on a visit to Hull, a big town by the sea, to say good-by to one of his friends who was going to London, he could not resist the chance. Without even sending a message to his father and mother, he went on board his friend’s ship, and sailed away.
But as soon as the wind began to blow and the waves to rise, poor Robinson was very frightened and seasick, and he said to himself that if ever he got on shore he would go straight home and never again leave it.
He was very solemn till the wind stopped blowing. His friend and the sailors laughed at him, and called him a fool, and he very soon forgot, when the weather was fine and the sun shining, all he had thought about going back to his father and mother.
But in a few days, when the ship had sailed as far as Yarmouth Roads on her way to London, they had to anchor, and wait for a fair wind. In those days there were no steamers, and vessels had only their sails to help them along; so if it was calm, or the wind blew the wrong way, they had just to wait where they were till a fair wind blew.
While they lay at Yarmouth the weather became very bad, and there was a great storm. The sea was so heavy and Robinson’s ship was in such danger, that at last they had to cut away the masts in order to ease her and to stop her from rolling so terribly. The Captain fired guns to show that his ship wanted help. So a boat from another ship was lowered, and came with much difficulty and took off Robinson and all the crew, just before their vessel sank; and they got ashore at last, very wet and miserable, having lost all their clothes except what they had on.
But Robinson had some money in his pocket, and he went on to London by land, thinking that if he returned home now, people would laugh at him.
In London he made friends with a ship’s captain, who had not long before come home from a voyage to the Guinea Coast, as that part of Africa was then called; and the Captain was so pleased with the money he had made there, that he easily persuaded Robinson to go with him on his next voyage.
So Robinson took with him toys, and beads, and other things, to sell to the natives in Africa, and he got there, in exchange for these things, so much gold-dust that he thought he was soon going in that way to make his fortune.