FOR a year and a half I kept close watch upon the farther shore of the island as well as upon that nearest to my castle. But not a single savage came near.
One morning in June, however, I had a great surprise.
I was just starting out from my castle when I saw five canoes lying high and dry on the beach not a mile away. There was not man near them. The people who had come in them were perhaps asleep among the trees.
The number of canoes was greater than I had ever counted upon seeing. For there were always four or six savages in each canoe, and there must now be between twenty and thirty men somewhere on the shore.
I did not know what to think of it. I did not feel brave enough to attack so many.
So I stayed in my castle and made ready to defend myself.
"There is little hope of getting a savage this time," I thought to myself.
I waited a long while, but heard no unusual sound. I grew tired of waiting, and made up my mind to see what was going on.
So, with the help of my ladder, I climbed up to my lookout on the top of the rock. I put my spyglass to my eyes and looked down upon the beach.
Surely enough! there they were. I saw no fewer than thirty naked savages dancing around a fire. I saw that they were broiling meat upon the coals, but I could not tell what kind of meat it was.
As I watched I saw some of the dancers run to a boat and drag two miserable prisoners from it. They must have been in the boat all the time, but as they were lying down I did not see them.
All the dancers now crowded around the poor prisoners. They knocked one of them down with a club, and then fell upon him with their knives. I supposed they were going to cut him up for their horrid feast.
For a few moments they seemed to forget the other prisoner, for they left him standing alone at one side.
All at once he made a break for liberty. You never saw a hound run so fast. He ran along the sandy beach, right toward my castle. I was dreadfully frightened. I thought that now my dream was coming true, and that he would surely hide in my grove.
But would the other part of the dream come true? Would the other savages lose sight of him, and running another way, not come near the castle? I feared not.
However, I stayed in my lookout and watched to see what would happen.
I saw, to my joy, that only three of the savage followed him. He ran so fast that he gained ground on them. If he could hold out for ten or fifteen minutes, he would get away from them all.
Between the savages and my castle there was the little river where I had first landed with my raft. If the poor fellow could not swim across this stream, he would surely be taken. I watched to see what he would do.
To my surprise the river did not hinder him at all. The tide was up, but he plunged in and with twenty or thirty strokes was across. I had never seen a finer swimmer.
When his pursuers reached the stream, he was already far away. Two of them jumped in and swam across. The other one stood still a minute and then turned softly back. It was lucky for him that he could not swim.
"Now," thought I to myself, "now is the time to get me a savage!"
In another moment I was down in my castle. I picked up my two guns. I was over the wall in less time than it takes me to tell about it. Never once did I think of fear.
I ran swiftly down the hill toward the sea. In another minute I was between the poor captive and his pursuers.
"Hello, there! Come back! I will help you," I cried.
Of course he did not understand a word. But he heard me and looked back. I beckoned to him with my hand, and this he understood better.
There was no time for waiting, however. The two savages that followed were close upon me.
I rushed upon the foremost one and knocked him down with my gun. I did not want to shoot, lest the other savages would hear the noise and come to his rescue.
The second pursuer came, running and panting, only a little way behind. When he saw me, he stopped as if he were frightened. I ran toward him, with my gun to my shoulder.
As I came nearer, I saw that he had a bow and arrow and was taking aim at me. What could I do but shoot? He fell to the ground and never moved again.
I now looked around to see what had become of the poor captive. I saw him standing still and gazing at me. The noise of my gun had frightened him so that he did not know what to do.
I called to him: "Come here, my good fellow I will not hurt you."
But of course he did not understand. Then I motioned to him with signs. He came a little way and then stopped. He came a little farther and stopped again. He was trembling like a leaf.
No doubt he was afraid that he would be killed as his two pursuers had been.
I spoke kindly to him and made signs that I would not hurt him. He came nearer and nearer, trembling, and kneeling down at almost every step.
I smiled; I looked as pleasant as I could; I made still other signs.
He came quite close to me. He laid his head upon the ground. He took hold of my foot and set it on his neck. This was his way of saying that he would be my slave forever.
I took hold of his hand and lifted him up. I spoke kindly to him.
Thus I at last got hold of a savage, as I had so long desired.