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I build a big canoe.
Start of Story
WHILE I was doing these things I was always trying to think of some way to escape from the island.
True, I was living there with much comfort. I was happier than I had ever been while sailing the seas.
But I longed to see other men. I longed for home and friends.
You will remember that when I was over at the farther side of the island I had seen land in the distance. Fifty or sixty miles of water lay between me and that land. Yet I was always wishing that I could reach it.
It was a foolish wish. For there was no telling what I might find on that distant shore.
Perhaps it was a far worse place than my little island. Perhaps there were savage beasts there. Perhaps wild men lived there who would kill me and eat me.
I thought of all these things; but I was willing to risk every kind of danger rather than stay where I was.
At last I made up my mind to build a boat. It should be large enough to carry me and all that belonged to me. It should be strong enough to stand a long voyage over stormy seas.
I had seen the great canoes which Indians sometimes make of the trunks of trees. I would make one of the same kind.
In the woods I found a cedar tree which I thought was just the right thing for my canoe.
It was a huge tree. Its trunk was more than five feet through at the bottom.
I chopped and hewed many days before it fell to the ground. It took two weeks to cut a log of the right length from it.
Then I went to work on the log. I chop and hewed and shaped the outside into the form of a canoe. With hatchet and chisel I hollowed out the inside.
For full three months I worked on that cedar log. I was both proud and glad when the canoe was finished. I had never seen so big a boat made from a single tree.
It was well shaped and handsome. More than twenty men might find room to sit in it.
But now the hardest question of all must answered.
How was I to get my canoe into the water?
It lay not more than three hundred feet from the little river where I had first landed with my raft.
But how was I to move it three hundred feet, or even one foot? It was so heavy that I could not even roll it over.
I thought of several plans. But when I came to reckon the time and the labor, I found that even by the easiest plan it would take twenty years to get the canoe into the water.
What could I do but leave it in the woods where it lay?
How foolish I had been! Why had I not thought of the weight of the canoe before going to the labor of making it?
The wise man will always look before he leaps. I certainly had not acted wisely.
I went back to my castle, feeling sad and thoughtful.
Why should I be discontented and unhappy?
I was the master of all that I saw. I might call myself the king of the island.
I had all the comforts of life.
I had food in plenty.
I might raise shiploads of grain, but there was no market for it.
I had thousands of trees for timber and fuel, but no one wished to buy.
I counted the money which I had brought from the ship. There were above a hundred pieces of gold and silver; but of what use were they?
I would have given all for a handful of peas or beans to plant. I would have given all for a bottle of ink.