Chapter 34

 

Twenty-three years had passed since I first set foot on this island. I was living comfortably now and I had many animals to keep me company. Poll was repeating my name very nicely. I had two more parrots and I taught all of them to say my name.

My dog died in the 16th year of our stay on the island, but the cats multiplied. I always kept three cats around me, as well as a few young goats. I caught and tamed some seabirds. They were also living in my fortification.

It was the last month of my 23rd year on the island when, as I was walking to my fields early one morning, I saw fire on the shore. It was on my side of the island – away from the place where I had found signs of people before.
I immediately returned to my fortification and loaded all my guns. But I couldn’t wait to see what would happen, so I took my telescope and went close to the beach. I hid myself and observed them. I saw 9 naked people. They were not civilised and they came in 2 canoes. It seemed that they were waiting for the tide to leave the island.

As soon as they left, I went to the shore and found signs of 3 more canoes. The beach was littered with flesh and bones again. This made me sick and angry and I decided to kill as many of them as I could the next time I saw them. They didn’t return for another 15 months. I saw them again the following year, and it was a good occasion to take action and fight them.

Meanwhile, something else happened that disturbed my routine. I heard the sound of a gunshot at sea one evening. I got out of my house and I saw a flash coming from the sea. A second gunshot followed. It crossed my mind that this must all be coming from a ship in danger which is asking for help. I took all the dry wood I could find and I ran to the beach where I made a big fire. They must have seen the fire because they fired again. I kept the fire until the morning but there was no sign of them.

As the day broke, I saw something far away at sea. I thought that they stopped there, but when I looked again from the top of a hill I saw that there was only a wreck.