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in the record: “ August 27th.-Alexander Sel . craig called out; did not appear, having gone to sea." Resolved, however, that he should not escape the rebuke which he had merited, they add, “ Continued until his return."
The return which the kirk-session thus looked forward to did not take place for six years, during which time we have no account of Selkirk's adventures, although the probability is, that he served with the buccaneers, who then scoured the South Seas. To have persisted in calling the young sailor to account for a fault committed six years before, would have been too great severity. The kirk-session, accordingly, do not seem to have made any allusion to the circumstance which had driven him to sea; but it was not long before a still more disgraceful piece of misconduct than the former brought him under their censure. The young sailor, coming home, no doubt, with his character rendered still more reckless and boisterous than before by the wild life to which he had been accustomed at sea, was hardly a fit inmate for a sedate and orderly household, and quarrels and disturbances became frequent in the honest shoemaker's cottage. One of these domestic uproars brought the whole family before the session: the peace and good order of families being one of the things which were then taken
cognizance of by the ecclesiastical authorities in every parish. The circumstances are thus detailed in the session records : “ November, 1701.—The same day, John Guthrie delated John Selcraig, elder, and his wife, Euphan Mackie, and his son, Alexander Selcraig, for disagreement together; and also, John Selcraig, Alexander's eldest brother, and his wife, Margaret Bell. All of them are ordered to be cited against next session, which is to be on the 25th instant."
Agreeably to this citation the parties appeared-the father, the mother, the eldest son and his wife, and our hero.' On this occasion, John Selcraig, the elder, “ being examined what was the cause of the tumult that was in his house, said he knew not; unless that Andrew Selcraig-another of the old man's sons who lived in the house, and who was but half-wittedhaving brought in a can full of salt-water, of which his brother Alexander did take a drink through mistake, and he, Andrew, laughing at him for it, his brother Alexander came and beat him, upon which he ran out of the house, and called his brother John-John and his wife, Margaret Bell, would appear to have lived in a neighboring house; and Andrew had run into it to call his brother. Being again questioned what made him-Selkirk, the father-sit upon
the floor with his back at the door, he said it was to keep down his son Alexander, who was seeking to go up to get down his pistol. And being inquired what he was going to do with it, said he could not tell.” Such was the tenor of the old man's evidence. On the same day the culprit Alexander was called; but he had contrived to go to Cupar, to be out of the way. Directing a second citation to be issued against him for next session, the court proceeded to examine the other witnesses. The younger John Selkirk gave his evidence as follows: “On the 7th of November last, he being called by his brother Andrew, came to his father's house ; and when he entered it, his mother went out; and he, seeing his father sitting upon the floor, with his brother at the door, was much troubled, and offered to help him up; at which time he did see his brother Alexander in the other end of the house casting off his coat, and coming toward him ; whereupon his father did get up, and did get betwixt them-Alexander and Johnbut he did not know what he did besides, his-John's—head being borne down by his brother Alexander; but afterward, being liberated by his wife, he made his escape.” Margaret Bell, John's wife, who thus courageously rescued her husband from the clutches of Alexander, was next examined. She declared that
her husband being called out by his brother Andrew to go to his father's house, she followed him, “and coming into the house, she found the said Alexander gripping both his father and her husband, and she, laboring to loose his hands from her husband's head and breast, her husband fled out of doors, and she followed him, but called back, You false loon, will you murder your father and my husband both ?' whereupon he-Alexander—followed her to the door; but whether he beat her or not, she was in so great confusion she can not distinctly say, but ever since she hath had a sore pain in her head.” The last witness examined was Andrew Selkirk, whose laughter at his brother's mistake had been the original cause of the quarrel. Andrew, however, was able to say “nothing to purpose in the business," and the further investigation of the matter was adjourned till the next meeting.
The session met again on the 29th of November; and this time the culprit was present. The following is the entry regarding the interview between the future Robinson Crusoe and his ecclesiastical judges : “ Alexander Selcraig, scandalous for conterition and disagreeing with his brothers, compeared, and being questioned concerning the tumult that was in his house, whereof he was said to be the occasion, con
fessed that he, having taken a drink of salt water out of a can, his brother Andrew laughing at him for it, he did beat him twice with a staff. He confessed also that he had spoken very ill words concerning his brother; and particularly that he had challenged his elder brother John to a combat of dry nieves, [dry fists,] as he called it, else then, he said, he would not care even to do it now, which afterward he did refuse. [The meaning seems to be, that at first he told the session to their face that he would not care even then to challenge his brother, but afterward retracted the expression.] Moreover he said several things; whereupon the session appointed him to compea before the face of the congregation for his scandalous carriage.” This punishment, the greatest disgrace which could be inflicted on a Scotchman of that day, the young sailor actually underwent; for on the next day, Sunday, November 30, 1701, “ Alexander Selcraig, according to the session's appointment, compeared before the pulpit, and made acknowledgment of his sin in disagreeing with his brothers, and was rebuked in the face of the congregation for it, and promised amendment in the strength of the Lord, and so was dismissed."
Probably Selkirk would not have staid to undergo the punishment inflicted on him by the