Billeder på siden

nothing to drink. However, we put ourselves in the same order as we had done the day before, and went forward. The natives perceiving us in motion, moved too, but kept at a greater distance, and went into our camp after we had quitted it, to see what they could find. Their labour was not altogether lost, for many of our people left behind them half those India goods they had brought out of the town, that they might travel with less fatigue. We walked with more ease half this day than we di the day before, the weather being cloudy and cool. About noon, the general who had been with us before came with some roasted meat and a horn of water for the king and his son : as we did not loosen their hands, we were forced to 'feed them. The general ordered Sam to ask the captains if they would release the king for six guns. I perceived there was a debate between them and Mr Bembo ; some thinking the six guns would be of great service to us, especially as we should still have the king's son: others were of opinion that it would be more for our safety to keep the king : however, it was agreed at last that he should be dismissed. We informed the general, that if they would give us six very good guns, and promise on their honour not to follow us, but return with their king, we would let him go ; and that as soon as we came to the river Manderra, which divided his dominions from those of Port Dauphin, we would release the king's son, and leave all their arms behind us.

The general was startled at this unexpected condescension, and despatched one of his attendants to the king's other sons, who were not far off with their army, to acquaint them with our proposal; and in half an hour's time, returned to us with six of the best guns. They made the more haste, lest our minds should alter : we kept them no longer in suspense than while we took the guns to pieces, to see whether they were in good condition or not; and finding them better than we could reasonably have expected in such a country, we released their king, and sent him away with the general. He took his leave of the prince, and went directly to the army. We were so near as to see the ceremony of his meeting with his sons, who fell down and embraced his knees, and, with all the earnestness imaginable, shed tears for joy. After they had kissed and licked his knees and legs for about five or six minutes, they arose to give his head officers an opportunity of paying the like homage ; and after them, some others of an inferior station, who in general expressed a most sincere and passionate affection to his person, and shewed all the demonstrations of joy imaginable on account of his return. This ceremonial being over, they all hallooed and fired their guns, as a public testimony of their joy and satisfaction.

We now walked away on our toilsome march, still retaining the prince a prisoner as a hostage. In the course of the day, we were disconcerted to observe that a crowd still hung on our rear, and that this party caine to a pause when we encamped for the night. Our sufferings were at this point considerably increased. We could find neither victuals nor water, and were so parched with thirst, that we crawled on the ground to lick the dew; and this was all the refreshment we could then meet with.

On the third day of our march, we rose early, and went forward as well as we could. The negroes, who strictly observed our motions, were as ready as we; but we placed our armed men in the front, determined to ake a bold push for it, if they attempted to obstruct our passage. They divided, and let us proceed without molestation ; and though we travelled all the morning, yet we met with nothing remarkable, till we arrived at a little round hill, whereon there stood a prodigious large tub, about six feet high, which held near a hundred gallons, and was full of toake. Our people were going immediately to drain it dry; but Sam threw it down, and spilt all the liquor, asking us with some warmth if we were so blind as not to see the plot that was laid for our destruction ; for it was planted there to tempt us to drink, with no other intention than to poison us all, or at least to intoxicate us to that degree that they might rescue their prince without opposition, and murder us at their pleasure.

While we were reflecting on this extraordinary action, the general and two or three more came up to us, and asked Sam what reason he could offer for spilling the toake ; to which he made no regular reply, but bid him be gone about his business. The general desired to speak with the young prince; and after a little discourse with him, directed Sam to acquaint Captain Younge, that if he should think fit to release the prince, they would give him three of the head men of the country in exchange. Under the delusive idea that they followed us only on account of the prince, and that, if we should release him, they would all return back, our captain complied with the general's proposition, and in a short time three men were delivered in exchange for the prince.

All arrangements for securing the three new hostages being made, we proceeded on our journey as well as men could without provisions, and were too soon convinced of Captain Younge's mistake ; for the negroes, instead of retiring, approached nearer, and some marched before us, so that we expected every minute they would attack us. We had a young lad in our company who lost his leg in Bengal. Notwithstanding he was well recovered, and supplied with a wooden one well fitted, yet it cannot be imagined that he should be able to keep up with us; for, being now surprised by their surrounding us, we doubled our pace, and, in short, were obliged to leave this poor lad behind us. We saw the barbarians come up with him, take off his wooden leg, and first insult him ; then they thrust their lances into his body, and left him wallowing in his blood. Being eyewitnesses of this act of inhumanity, and apprehensive of the like treatment, we hurried on as fast as our feeble limbs would carry us till sunset, when we came to a large tamarind tree, the leaves whereof, as they were sour, we chewed, to moisten our mouths. The fruit itself was not then in season.

The three negroes whom we had taken as hostages, observing what had passed, and thinking their lives in danger, called to Sam and the captains, and told them they had a scheme to propose, which would be for the safety of us all; which was this, that as soon as it was dark, we should keep marching on as silently as possible all night. The captains approved of this proposal, and ordered none of us to sleep, but to be ready as soon as the watchword was given. This was very grievous, considering how tired we were the day before ; but we submitted cheerfully to anything that gave us hopes of escaping from the violent hands of those bloodthirsty barbarians. As soon as it was dark enough to conceal our fight, we assembled together, and took a considerable quantity of muslins and calicoes, and hung them upon the bushes, that the spies, who we knew watched us, might not anywise mistrust our sudden removal.

We walked off accordingly, undiscovered by them. Captain Drummond, however, being taken so ill that he could not walk at all, none of us being strong enough to carry him, we resolved to make the three negroes perform that office by turns. After we had thus travelled most part of the night, we came to a thicket among some cotton trees, where the man who had the charge of Captain Drummond threw him upon the ground, ran away into the wood, and we never saw him more. Upon this we had a more watchful eye over the other two, and led him whose turn it was to carry the captain with a rope about his neck.

Weak as we were, we travelled a great many miles that night, and were glad when the day broke upon us; for the negroes had told us before, that if we walked hard all night, we should be at Manderra river betimes in the morning : and their information was correct; for as soon as we came to a little hill, the sun then just rising, we had a prospect of the river, though at a considerable distance; however, the hopes we had of coming to it in a short time, and of getting water to quench our thirst, gave us no small pleasure, and our spirits began to revive at the very sight of it. It was some comfort, likewise, to think that the king's dominions extended no further, notwithstanding there were no inhabitants to protect us within several miles on the other side. Some of our people who were more tired than the rest, took liberty to sit down to refresh themselves, as taking it for granted that the negro army would never come in sight of us again.

But this vain notion of being safe and secure too quickly vanished; for as soon as they missed us in the morning, they pursued us like so many beagles, and before we got within a mile of Manderra river, overtook us. Thereupon, they began to butcher our men then resting under the trees, striking their lances into their sides and throats.


Though I was one of those who could not travel well, yet there were twenty behind me : the woman whose life was preserved in our ship was next to me. I, seeing them kill our people in this barbarous manner, threw off my coat and waistcoat, and trusted to my heels; for the foremost of our people having passed the river, and I not being far off, took courage; but hearing the report of a gun, I looked back, and saw the poor woman fall, and the negroes sticking their lances in her sides." My turn was next, for the same negroes pursued me, and before I reached the brink of the river, they fired a gun at me, but I jumped in. Our men who had got safe over made a stand, in order to defend those who were behind; and notwithstanding the negroes followed me so close, I could not refrain from drinking two or three times.

Those who had got over now marched forward, and I kept up with them as well as I could. We had a wood to pass through, and the negroes, as soon as they saw us quit the banks, immediately crossed and pursued us. They got into the woods, and, firing behind the trees every now and then, they killed three or four of our

We had not travelled above two miles in this wood, before we came to a large sandy plain, to which we could see no end; and here they determined to stop our progress, since, if we went much farther, we should be within hearing of King Samuel's subjects, who were their mortal enemies, and would readily assist us. They divided themselves, therefore, into several bodies, in order to break in upon us on all sides; and we being apprised of their designs, were resolved to sell our lives and liberties as dear as possible. Hereupon, our captains put us in as good a posture of defence as they could, and divided the men who bore arms into four classes ; one under the command of each of our three captains, and the other under Mr John Bembo : such as had no arms, or were disabled, were covered in a little valley, and with them were the two negro hostages.

We had not above thirty-six firearms amongst us all, and not many more persons fit to fight, so that we were a poor handful to withstand an army of two or three thousand. When they found we made a stand, they did so too, and according to their wonted manner, where it could be done, three or four of them in a place threw up the sand before them, and being also beneath us, we could see only their heads. Their shot flew very fast over us, and we kept them in play from noon till six in the evening, by which time all our ammunition was spent. Those of us who had money made slugs of it; our next shift was to take the middle screws out of our guns, and charge our pieces with them. When we had used all these means, we knew not what to do further : now we began to reflect on those who advised us to deliver up first the king, and afterwards his son, since the keeping of them would have been our principal safeguard. The two negroes in our custody expected, no doubt, every minute to be killed, as very justly they might ; but as their death would be of no service to us, we did them no injury.

At length it was unanimously agreed that Dudey and her husband should be sent to the enemy with a flag of truce, not only to prolong the time, but to know what they further wanted; so we tied a piece of red silk to a lance, and sent them away. They kept firing at us all this time, not knowing what we meant by not returning it. They shot at those who carried the flag ; but perceiving that they were not armed, the prince ordered them to cease. Dudey was interpreter, and told them that our captain was inclined to make peace with them, and to deliver up the two hostages, with the guns and ammunition we took with us, as soon as we were advanced a little farther into the country. They said they would suffer us to go in the morning, in case we would deliver up our arms and the men, but not that evening, because it was dark. Their true reason was this : they knew, if we got away that night, we should send some of King Samuel's people, who were their bitter enemies, to be revenged on them for the ill treatment we had met with.

With the vain idea of appeasing them, it was resolved that next morning we should give up our arms, Captain Drummond and some of his friends, however, protesting against the folly which the party were about to commit. Morning dawned, after a dismal night, bringing with it a day of sorrow. As soon as we could see, we missed Captain Drummond, Captain Steward, Mr Bembo, Dudey and her husband, and four or five more, who deserted in the night, without communicating their intentions to us. Now we plainly saw destruction before us, and the end of this miserable journey, which, after so bold an attempt, we undertook for the preservation of our lives and liberty; and a tragical one it was; for no sooner was it broad daylight than the negroes came up to us, and the prince had a short conference with Sam. Captain Younge asked him the purport of their discourse; he answered, they wanted to know what was become of Captain Drummond and the rest. The words were no sooner out of his mouth than one of the princes took hold of me, and delivered me to one of his attendants. There were three or four lads like myself, and much about my age, who were seized at the same time, and delivered to their people in the same manner, who bound our hands with cords.

There now ensued a scene of horrid butchery, every one of our unfortunate company, including Captain Younge, being killed on the spot. The bodies were next stripped of their

clothing, and every article carried off as spoil. Little time was consumed in this tragical affair ; for the savages expected that the subjects of King Samuel, roused by Captain Drummond, would soon be down upon them; and I afterwards learned that such a friendly force actually came soon after our departure. In the attack which had been made on us, Sam contrived to escape, and returned with the negroes;

« ForrigeFortsæt »