VOYAGES IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

Poor Selkirk provided for his wants as best he could, but during the first few months he had great difficulty in conquering the sadness and mastering the horror consequent upon his terrible loneliness. He built two huts of willow, which he covered with a sort of rush, and lined with the skins of the goats he killed to satisfy his hunger, so long as his ammunition lasted. When it was likely to fail, he managed to strike a light by rubbing two pieces of pimento wood together. When he had quite exhausted his ammunition, he caught the goats as they ran, his agility had become so great by dint of constant exercise, that he scoured the woods, rocks, and hills, with a perfectly incredible speed. We had sufficient proof of his skill, when he went hunting with us. He outran and exhausted our best hunters, and an excellent dog which we had on board; he easily caught the goats, and brought them to us on his back. He himself related to us, that one day he chased his prey so eagerly to the edge of a precipice, which was concealed by bushes, that they rolled over and over together, until they reached the bottom. He lost consciousness through that fall, and upon discovering that the goat lay under him quite dead, after remaining where he was for twenty-four hours, he with the utmost difficulty succeeded in crawling to his cabin, which was about a mile distant; and he was unable to walk again for six days.

Selkirk falling over the precipice with his prey
Selkirk falling over the precipice with his prey.

This deserted wretch managed to season his food with the turnips sown by the crew of a ship, with cabbages, capsicums, and all-spice. When his clothes and shoes were worn out, a process which occupied but a short time, he ingeniously constructed new ones of goatskin, sewing them together with a nail, which served him as a needle. When his knife was useless, he constructed a new one from the cask-hoops he found on the shore. He had so far lost the use of speech, that he could only make himself understood by an effort. Rogers took him on board, and appointed him boatswain's mate.

Selkirk was not the first sailor abandoned upon the island of Juan Fernandez. It may be remembered that Dampier had already rescued an unfortunate Mosquito man, who was abandoned from 1681 to 1684. Sharp and other buccaneers have related that the sole survivor of a crew of a vessel wrecked on this coast, lived there for five years, until he was rescued by another ship. Saintine, in his recent novel, "Alone," has detailed Selkirk's adventures.

Upon the 14th of February, the Duke and Duchess left Juan Fernandez, and commenced their operations against the Spaniards. Rogers seized Guayaquil, for which he obtained a large ransom, and captured several vessels, which, however, provided him with more prisoners than money.

This part of his voyage concerns us but little, and a few particulars only are interesting, as, for instance, his mention of a monkey in the Gorgus Island, who was so lazy, that he was nicknamed the Sluggard, and of the inhabitants of Tecamez, who repulsed the new-comers with poisoned arrows, and guns. He also speaks of the Galapagos Island, situated two degrees of northern latitude. According to Rogers, this cluster of islands was numerous, but out of them all one only provided fresh water. Turtle-doves existed there in great quantities, and tortoises, and sea-turtles, of an extraordinary size abounded, thence the name given by the Spaniards to this group.

Sea-dogs also were common, one of them had the temerity to attack Rogers. "I was walking along the shore," he says, "when it left the water, his jaws gaping, as quickly and ferociously as a dog escaping from his chain. Three times he attacked me, I plunged my pike into his breast, and each time I inflicted such a wound that he fled howling horribly. Finally, turning towards me, he stopped to growl and show his fangs. Scarcely twenty-four hours earlier, one of my crew had narrowly escaped being devoured by a monster of the same family."

I plunged my pike into his breast
"I plunged my pike into his breast."

In December, Rogers repaired to Puerto Seguro, upon the Californian coast, with a Manilla galleon, which he had seized. Many of his men penetrated to the interior; he found large forest trees, but not the slightest appearance of culture, although smoke indicated the existence of inhabitants.

The inhabitants, according to Albey Presort's "History of Voyages," were straight built and powerful, blacker than any Indian tribe hitherto met with in the Pacific Ocean Seas. They had long black hair plaited, which reached below the waist. All the men went about naked, but the women wore a garment, either composed of leaves or of stuff made from them, and sometimes the skins of beasts and birds. Occasionally they wore necklaces and bracelets made of bits of wood or shells. Others adorned their necks with small red berries and pearls. Evidently they did not know how to pierce holes in them, for they notched them and joined them by a thread. They valued these ornaments so highly, that they refused to change them for English necklaces of glass. Their chief anxiety was to obtain knives and useful implements.