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whether he was ever sincere in his friendship for us, is doubtful; however, by our infatuated simplicity, we had been our own worst enemies.
REDUCED TO SLAVERY.
I was now the captive of a naked savage, and was led away like a calf to the shambles, galled with cords, and not knowing what should be my fate. Other two lads were treated in the same manner, and soon we were parted by our respective masters. My master, or proprietor as I may call him, was named Mevarrow; he was a chief of some consequence, or rather the king of a tribe, and his design was now to return home with his booty.
All the way we went, I was shocked at observing the mangled bodies of our men, which lay exposed under the broiling sun. When we reached the river we had crossed, I was so faint for want of victuals, having had no sustenance for three days, that I could scarcely stand on my legs. Though my master expressed some little concern for me, yet he would not bait till he was past the river; however, he ordered his people to stop at the first commodious place and make a fire ; and now I was in hopes of some agreeable refreshment, for some of his servants had carried beef on their backs for that purpose. Though they cut it into long pieces, with the hide, and dressed and ate it half-roasted, according to their custom, and gave it to me in the same manner, yet I thought this contemptible food-and what a beggar in England would not have touched-the most delicious entertainment I ever met with. We rested here about an hour, when he to whose care I was intrusted made signs to know if I could walk; and as I was a little refreshed, I got up, and travelled the remainder of the day with more ease than I expected, since they walked but slowly, as í perceived, on purpose to indulge
At night we came to a wood, the place appointed for our lodging, and there we met with three or four men whom my master had
sent out foraging, and they brought in with them two bullocks, one of which my master sent to his brother, for the use of him and his people, and the other was killed for us; for the army was now disbanded, and all were marching home with their respective chiefs to their own habitations. Here my master came to me and gave me a lance, intimating that I might cut out as much as I thought proper. I cut about a pound, without any part of the hide, which he perceiving, imputed it to my ignorance, and so cut a slice with the hide, and dressed it for me, which I ate with seeming thankfulness, not daring to refuse it. As soon as supper was over, each man pulled as much grass as was sufficient for himself to lie on : my guardian, however, provided enough for himself and me: I then reposed myself accordingly, and he lay by me; but his black skin
smelled so rank that I was forced to turn my back on him all night long. I had very little rest, for the ghastly spectacle of my massacred friends was ever before me, and made me start from sleep as soon as I closed my eyes.
At break of day we arose, and after a short repast, marched on till noon, when we baited among some shady trees near a pond of water. Whilst some employed themselves in kindling a fire, others were busy in digging up and down amongst the grass. I could not at first conceive what they were doing, but I soon observed one of them pulling out of the ground a long white root, which I found was a yam, having seen many of them at Bengal. They soon furnished themselves with a sufficient quantity. I perceived they grew wild, without any cultivation. Some of them were eighteen inches long at least, and about six or seven inches in circumference. They gave me some of them, which I roasted, and ate, with a great deal of pleasure, instead of bread, with my beef. They are very agreeable to the taste, as well as wholesome food.
We arrived that evening at a small town, which we no sooner entered, than the women and children flocked round about me, pinched me, struck me on the back with their fists, and shewed several other tokens of their derision and contempt, at which I could not forbear weeping, as it was not in my power to express my feelings any other way; but when my guardian observed it, he came to my assistance, and freed me from my persecutors. All the houses that were empty were taken up by my master, his brother, and other head men, so that my guardian and I lay exposed to the
The ill treatment I met with from the women and children put a thousand distracting thoughts into my head: sometimes I imagined that I might be preserved alive for no other purpose than to be carried to the king and his son, who would in all probability be fired with resentment at our late seizing of them, and making them prisoners ; then, again, I thought that, to gratify their pleasure and revenge, they would order me to be put to death before their faces, by slow degrees, and the most exquisite torments. Such melancholy reflections as these so disordered me, that when once, through weariness, I fell into a slumber, I had a dream which so terrified me, that I started upright, and trembled in every joint; in short, I could not get one wink of sleep all the night long.
When it was broad daylight, we marched homeward--for now I must call it so—and in three or four hours' time we arrived at a considerable town, with three or four tamarind trees before it. One of the negroes carried a large shell, which, when he blew, sounded like a postboy's horn. This brought the women to a spacious house in the middle of the town, about twelve feet high, which I soon perceived was my master's. No sooner had he seated himself at the door, than his wife came out, crawling on her hands and knees till she came to him, and then licked his feet; and when she had
thus testified her duty and respects, his mother paid him the like compliment; and all the women in the town saluted their husbands in the same manner; then each man went to his respective habitation, my master's brother only excepted, who, though he had a house, had no wife to receive him, and so he staid behind.
My mistress intimated by her motions that she would have me go in and sit down. Much serious discourse passed between my master and her; and though I knew nothing of what they said, yet, by her looking so earnestly at me whilst he was talking, I conjectured he was relating to her our tragical tale, and I perceived that the tears frequently stood in her eyes. This conference over, she ordered some carravances to be boiled for our dinner-a kind of pulse much like our gray pease : she gave me some, but as they had been boiled in dirty water, I could not eat them. She, perceiving I did not like them, strained them off the water, and put some milk to them, and after that I made a tolerable meal of them. She gave me not only a mat to lie down upon, but likewise a piece of calico, about two yards in length, to cover me. She intimated that she wanted to know my name, which I told her was Robin. Having received so much civility from my mistress, I began to be much better satisfied than I was at first, and then laid me down and slept, without any fear or concern, about four hours, as near as I could guess by the sun. When I waked, my mistress called me by my name, and gave me some milk tó drink. She talked for some considerable time to me, but I could not understand one word she said. My master was all this time with his brother at the door, regaling themselves with toake.
Through the kindness of my mistress, who had herself been taken captive, and brought as a slave to my master's camp, I was less harshly treated than any of the other slaves in the establishment, of whom there were upwards of 200. Perhaps also I was indebted to my want of bodily strength for not being put to excessive labour. Nevertheless, my fate was most distressing and hopeless. At night, I slept in a hut without any furniture, and my clothes being taken from me, the only covering which I wore was a piece of cloth round the middle, like that worn by all the people in the country. Thus stripped of my apparel, and almost entirely naked, I was a miserable-looking object; but I suffered less from cold than heat. The sun beat on my body, blistering the skin, and covering it with freckles, while I was exposed at the same time to the bites and stings of insects, of which there is a vast variety in Madagascar.
I was first tried by my master as a labourer to hoe the weeds in the fields of carravances; but being awkward at that kind of work, I was made to attend on the cattle, drive them to water, and see that they did not break into any of the plantations. Besides this, I was obliged to drag home every night à tub of water for the use of the family, there being no water near my master's house. In my employment as a neat-herd, I had the society of other boys, also attendants on their masters' cattle, and from these companions, who were natives of the country, as well as from others, I picked up a knowledge of the language, and was soon able to speak it so as to be understood.
After being some months in this kind of service, my master departed with a numerous band of followers on a warlike expedition. He was absent for more than a fortnight, and at his return, made a triumphant entry into the town, amidst the firing of guns and blowing of horns. After Mevarrow, came his brother Sambo and the attendants, followed by the cattle which had been taken from the enemy; the prisoners of war, now become slaves, brought up the rear.
The great man, my master, having halted and seated himself in front of his house, his consort, attended by the women of the neighbourhood, came as usual and licked his feet.
During this ceremonial, my master, casting his eyes around, saw me at a distance, and called me to him. I approached him in a manner considered respectful, with my hands lifted up, as in a praying posture ; but did not kneel down, as all the others did, having a conscientious reluctance to perform such an act: whereupon my brutal owner flew into a rage, and reproached me for not paying him the same respect as his wife, mother, and others about him. However, I peremptorily refused, and told him I would obey all his lawful commands, and do whatever work he thought proper to employ me in, but this act of divine homage I could never comply with.
On this he fell into a violent passion, upbraided me with being ungrateful, and insensible of his saving me from being killed among my countrymen, and urged, moreover, that I was his slave, &c.; but notwithstanding all this, I still continued resolute and firm to my purpose. Whereupon he arose from his seat, and with his lance made a stroke at me with all his might; but his brother, by a sudden push on one side, prevented the mischief he intended. He was going to repeat his blow, but his brother interposed, and entreated him to excuse me; but he absolutely, and in the warmest terms, refused to forgive me, unless I would lick his feet. His brother begged he would give him a little time to talk with me in private, which he did; and after he had told me the danger of not doing it, and that, in submitting to it, I did no more than what many great princes were obliged to do when taken prisoners, I found at length it was prudence to comply; so I went in, asked pardon, and performed the ceremony as others had done before me. He told me he readily forgave me, but would make me sensible I was a slave. I did not much regard his menaces ; for, as I had no prospect of ever returning to England, I set but little value on my life. The next day, I incurred his displeasure again, and never expected to escape from feeling the weight of his resentment.
My master then performed the ceremony of thanksgiving to God
for his happy deliverance from all the hazards of war, and for the success of his arms; which is done by some silly adoration before a kind of household altar, accompanied with ridiculous ceremonies. Having performed these devotions, my master would have me do the same; but this I also firmly refused, and he was now more savage than ever. Taking hold of me by one hand, and with his lance in the other, he threatened instantly to sacrifice me. I expected nothing but death, and waited every moment in an agony for the mortal blow. Sambo, at this crisis, again humanely interfered, along with many others, all using their utmost endeavours to persuade him against so rash an action ; but to no purpose ; till his brother at last very warmly told him he would that minute depart, and see his face no more, if he offered to be guilty of such an act of inhumanity; and rose up to be gone accordingly. When my master saw his brother was going in good earnest, he called him back, and promised to spare my life, but assured him he would punish me very severely for my contempt of his orders. Sambo told him he should submit that to his own discretion ; all he begged of him
to kill me. Upon this, by a secret sign, he advised me to kneel down and lick his feet, which I readily complied with, and asked his pardon. When I got up, I kneeled down to Dean Sambo of my own accord, and licked his feet, as a testimony of my gratitude and respect for thus saving my life a second time.
As soon as this storm was blown over, I was remanded to my former post of cow-keeper. I had a great deal of trouble sometimes with these cattle, for they are very unruly; and notwithstanding they are larger beasts than any I ever saw elsewhere of the kind, they are so nimble that they will leap over high fences like a greyhound. They have an excrescence between their shoulders, somewhat like that of camels, all fat and flesh, some of which will weigh about three or four score pounds. They are also beautifully coloured : some are streaked like a tiger, others, like a leopard, are marked with various spots. Here are likewise some sheep with large heavy tails, like Turkish sheep-not woolly as ours, but more like a goat; and also a small number of goats, resembling those of other countries. There are, besides, plenty of hogs in the country, and immense swarms of bees. These bees produce a vast abundance of honey, from which the natives make their drink called toake.
ESCAPE. [What with cow-herding, gathering honey, helping to build huts with wood and clay, and going sometimes, greatly against his will, on warlike or cattle-stealing expeditions, besides doing much thankless drudgery of a miscellaneous kind, Drury informs us that twelve years were consumed. Often in his hut, in the silence of night,