Sometime in November 1723, I descried a small canoe approaching with a single man; but the sight excited little emotion. I kept my seat on the beach, thinking I could not expect a friend, and knowing that I had no enemy to fear, nor [Pg 230] was I capable of resisting one. As the man approached, he betrayed many signs of surprise; he called me to him, and I told him he might safely venture ashore, for I was alone, and almost expiring. Coming close up, he knew not what to make of me; my garb and countenance seemed so singular, that he looked wild with astonishment. He started back a little, and surveyed me more thoroughly; but, recovering himself again, came forward, and, taking me by the hand, expressed his satisfaction at seeing me.
This stranger proved to be a native of North Britain; he was well advanced in years, of a grave and venerable aspect, and of a reserved temper. His name I never knew, he did not disclose it, and I had not inquired during the period of our acquaintance. But he informed me he had lived twenty-two years with the Spaniards who now threatened to burn him, though I know not for what crime; therefore he had fled hither as a sanctuary, bringing his dog, gun, and ammunition, as also a small quantity of pork, along with him. He designed spending the remainder of his days on the island, where he could support himself by hunting.
I experienced much kindness from the stranger; he was always ready to perform any civil offices, and assist me in whatever he could, though he spoke little: and he gave me a share of his pork.
On the third day after his arrival, he said he would make an excursion in his canoe among the neighboring islands, for the purpose of killing wild-hogs and deer, and wished me to accompany him. Though my spirits were somewhat recruited by his society, the benefit of the fire, which I now enjoyed, and dressed provisions, my weakness and the soreness of my feet, precluded me; therefore he set out alone, saying he would return in a few hours. The sky was serene, and there was no prospect of any danger during a short excursion, seeing he had come nearly twelve leagues in safety in his canoe. But, when he had been absent about an hour, a violent gust of wind and rain arose, in which he probably perished, as I never heard of him more.
Thus, after having the pleasure of a companion almost three days, I was as unexpectedly reduced to my former lonely state, as I had been relieved from it. Yet through the goodness of God, I was myself preserved from having been unable to accompany him; and I was left in better circumstances than those in which he had found me, for now I had about five pounds of pork, a knife, a bottle of gunpowder, [Pg 231] tobacco, tongs and flint, by which means my life could be rendered more comfortable. I was enabled to have fire, extremely requisite at this time, being the rainy months of winter. I could cut up a tortoise, and have a delicate broiled meal.—Thus, by the help of the fire, and dressed provisions, through the blessings of God, I began to recover strength, though the soreness of my feet remained. But I had, besides, the advantage of being able now and then to catch a dish of cray-fish, which, when roasted, proved good eating. To accomplish this I made up a small bundle of old broken sticks, nearly resembling pitch-pine, or candle-wood, and having lighted one end, waded with it in my hand, up to the waist in water. The cray-fish, attracted by the light, would crawl to my feet, and lie directly under it, when, by means of a forked stick, I could toss them ashore.