Robinson Crusoe Written Anew for Children  by James Baldwin

I Work under Many Difficulties

MY barley ripened and was ready to be harvested. I had neither scythe nor sickle to cut it down.

But you will member that I had two old swords which I had found in the ship.

With one of the swords I cut off the heads of the barley and dropped them into a big basket I had made. I carried these heads into my cave and thrashed out the grain with my hands.

When all my harvesting was done, I measured the grain. I had two bushels of rice and two bushels and a half of barley.

This pleased me very much. I felt now that I should soon be able to raise grain enough for food.

Have you ever thought how many things are necessary for the making of your bread?

You have nothing to do but eat the bread after others have made it. But I had to sow, to reap, to thrash, to grind, to sift, to mix, and to bake.

To do all these I needed many tools.

I had no plow to turn up the ground. I had no spade nor shovel with which to dig it. But with great labor I made me a wooden spade, which was better than nothing.

After the ground was turned up, I sowed the seed by scattering it with my hands. But it must be covered so it would grow, and I had no harrow. I cut down the branch of a tree, and dragged it over the field. This, I think, was the way that people in old times harrowed their ground.


The third thing to be done was to build a fence around my field. After that came the reaping, the curing, the carrying home, the thrashing, the parting of the grain from the chaff, the grinding.

I needed a mill to do the grinding. I needed a sieve to sift the flour. I needed yeast and salt to mix with the dough. I needed an oven to bake it.

I had to do without the most of these things. And this made my work very slow and hard.

I was very lucky in having saved so many tools from the wreck, and for this I was indeed thankful. What a hard case I would have been in if I had saved nothing at all!

From time to time, as I felt the need of things I made a number of tools that served me very well. They were not such tools as you would buy at the store, but what did it matter?

I have already told you about the shovel which I made from a piece of hard wood. Next to the shovel I needed a pickax most of all.

Among the many things that I had saved from the wreck, I found an old crowbar. This I heated in the fire until it was almost white hot.

I then found that I could bend it quite easily. Little by little I shaped it until I had made quite a good pickax of it. Of course, it was heavy and not at all pretty. But who would look for beauty in a pickax?

I at first felt the need of some light baskets in which to carry my fruit and grain. So I began to study how baskets are made.

It was not until I had searched almost every nook on the island that I found some long slender twigs that would bend to make wicker ware. Then I spent many an hour learning how to weave these twigs together and shape them into the form of a basket.

In the end, however, I was able to make as good baskets as were ever bought in the market.

I had quite a goodly number of edge tools. Among these there were three large axes and a great store of hatchets; for you will remember that we carried hatchets to trade with the savages. I had also many knives.

But all these became very dull with use. I had saved a grindstone from the wreck, but I could not turn it and grind my tools at the same time.

I studied hard to overcome this difficulty. At last, I managed to fasten a string to the crank of the grindstone in such a way that I could turn it with my foot.

My tools were soon sharp, and I kept them so.