Meeting the Enemy
Robinson convinces himself, however, that the cannibals do not come to his side of the island -- that this side is not on the route to or from wherever they travel. He cautiously moves beyond the perimeters of his fortifications once again. He is obsessed, however, with the idea of killing some of the cannibals himself and of rescuing their victims. He invents many imaginative schemes for demolishing them. He finds a suitable hiding place from which he may watch the cannibals land, and furnishes the spot with muskets. He begins touring the area every morning, searching for the cannibals. After two or three months of this routine, he has still seen nothing. With time and space, he begins to wonder if he should in fact be putting himself in the position to judge and execute the cannibals, if God has not seen to it to punish them already. He compares their killing of captives to his own killing of animals for eating. He begins to wonder if the cannibals are murderers after all. After all, he thinks, English armies kill other men in war; they just don't eat them. He also notes that the cannibals have never done anything to personally injure him. He thinks that perhaps killing the cannibals might be like the Spaniards' killing of indigenous Americans -- for no other reason than to usurp their land, and justified, they claimed, because of the seemingly barbaric rites that the native peoples practiced. Robinson regards such colonizing efforts with skepticism now, and so too does he revise his earlier opinions about the cannibals. He resolves to simply keep away from them and leave the rest up to God.
Robinson decides to try to make as little noise as possible so as not to attract cannibals, and feels that striking a nail or hammering on wood will alert them to his presence. He leaves off his inventions and embellishments of his accommodations. During this time he also finds a natural cave. Stepping into the cave he sees a pair of eyes. Briefly he worried, he pauses and then heads in. Inside he finds a huge old goat dying on the ground. He looks around the cave further and finds it not too large -- about twelve high at its highest point. The next day he returns with candles, and finds the place very pleasant -- not too damp, not filled with vermin. He feels more secure in the cave, certain that no-one would think to look for a man in there, even if they could find it. He has no lived on the island for 23 years.
That December, Robinson sees a fire about two miles away from his home, on his side of the island. He prepares himself with ammunition and firearms and sets out to observe who's made the fire. He sees nine non-European men with two canoes. They appear, he thinks, to have built the fire to eat human flesh. He sets his mind at ease, however, noticing that they must have come in with the tide, and will likely leave as soon as the tide is favorable again. Which they, in fact, do. Robinson notices, as they leave, that they are all naked, and that not all the members of the group may be men. He does not notice them visiting the island again for the next fifteen months. He is back to feeling murderous, however, and is preoccupied with thoughts of how to kill them. He sleeps very badly during this time.
One night he thinks he hears a gunshot coming from the sea. Thinking it is a distress call from a European ship, he makes a fire to attract them. In the morning, however, he sees that the ship has foundered and broken up on the rocks. Robinson feels thankful again that he's been spared such a death. He is miserable, as well, that not one person has survived to become his companion. Robinson also resolves to go out to the boat to see if there's anything of value to him on it. He finds a great stock of things including rice, rum, raisins, fresh water, a compass, bread, an umbrella, barley cakes, goat's milk and cheese. He brings the booty back to shore, but is unable to land near his home. He has to wait until the tides are favorable to launch his little boat again. As he makes his way around the island he finds another wreck, with a dog still living on board. He gives the dog some food and water and boards the boat. He finds muskets, a shovel and tongs to tend a fire, shirts, sweetmeats, linen, neckcloths, and a copper pot. He leaves behind bars upon bars of gold. They are not useful to him, he says, and of course, in his condition, they're not.
When he arrives back on land, Robinson dreams that he sees two cannibals landing their canoe with a victim in tow. The victim escapes, however, and Robinson rescues him, making him his servant and eventually guiding him off the island and to safety. On waking, Robinson decides that he must in fact save one of the cannibals' victims. He believes that this course of action will end in his salvation.
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