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four hours successively, with great warmth on both sides, till deaan Crindo perceiving he could not enter the town, recalled his forces and withdrew to his camp. Deaan Mephontey and deaan Mevarrow were for sallying out; but deaan Mephontey's son, Batoengha, with much difficulty persuaded them to desist, suspecting an ambuscade. Several were killed on both sides, and some wounded, whom we conveyed out of the town. when the engagement was over, to their wives. We buried our dead under the fortification, and sent out spies to observe the motions of the enemy, who brought us intelligence that they were very quiet, and that their whole time was spent in killing cattle, and fetching wood to dress provisions. When this news was confirmed, and we were well assured that they would give us no more trouble for that day, our people killed and dressed beef likewise, but we were parched up with thirst. You might here have seen men with their tongues lolling out of their mouths through excessive heat. This want of water is the most intolerable of all calamities, and a misery too great for words to express. I have before observed, that when I first came into this country, I felt the anguish of it for almost four days ; and found by woful experience, that there was no comparison between hunger and thirst. I had relief, however, sooner than my neighbours ; for my master sent me and two slaves with provisions for our mistress, and those who accompanied her, where, by the way, we found a little water.
I had some difficulty, notwithstanding all my precaution, to find the place where I left her the night before; however, I got there at last. She seemed in great concern for our welfare, and drowned in tears ; for hearing the guns firing, and, at length, ceasing all at once,
she imagined the town was taken and her husband killed ; but the sight of me dispelled all those melancholy clouds. I cut down several boughs with large leaves upon them, which served very well for dishes and plates; and cutting the roast meat I brought with me into pieces, I served it up to my mistress ,
and though she had not, as some may probably remark, so much delicacy as some of our fine ladies of her birth and distinction in Europe, yet she enjoyed as grateful a repast, and I may venture to say was as well satisfied as they would have been in her then circumstances. When she was served, I divided the remainder amongst my fellow-servants, her women, who were her attendants. My orders being to stay with her, I sent the two men away who had brought a very considerable quantity of raw meat ; and in the night I made a fire to dress it, which could not be discerned through so thick a wood; whereas, in the day-time, the smoke might have discovered us. I went at some distance and dug up several wild yams; these were very agreeable on account of their moisture, this place being destitute of water ; but none of them, how much soever they might long for them, would venture to dig for themselves till I came, lest the noise might betray them to the enemy.
At night we sat very sociably round the fire, whilst I entertained them with the story of the engagement, and the dangers I had escaped. I also roasted the meat, and hung part of it up in one tree and part in another, out of the reach of the wild dogs and foxes, with which this country abounds. When it grew late, I told them I had no bed to lie on, having forgot my mat in the hurry. They laughed at this, and my mistress said, “Sure, Robin, you do not think but we will make room for one man amongst us ?” and then bid me make choice of my place. Now I could be free and jocose enough with the young women slaves, though not with herself; yet I laid myself down close by them all night, and I can assure my reader we were very innocent.
I must here confess, I could not but wonder at first, why my master trusted me so readily with his wife, contrary to his care of her in regard to other men, and to the custom of the country ; but when I began to reflect how dangerous it was for any woman, who was liable to be called to an account for all her actions, to carry on an amour with a white man, the wonder ceased; for, should a woman prove with child, the
colour of the offspring would betray its mother, if not point out the father. But I must not let this pass with any thing which may be misconstrued to this lady's prejudice ; for I solemnly declare, I never once discovered in her the least criminal inclination; notwithstanding what may be said here or elsewhere, of some such freedoms as would appear too condescending, and be censured as too forward in our European
We arose by daybreak, and listened very attentively to hear, if we could, the noise of guns, but none were discharged; and in a short time the two men came again to us, and brought us more provisions. They informed us that deaan Crindo had sent a menacing message to deaan Mephontey, to let him know, that unless he obliged deaan Mevarrow to come to him, and submit to his determination of the quarrel between him and deaan Frukey, that he would humble their pride, and remain there with his army till he starved them; and moreover, he would guard the watering place so strongly, that they should not dare to approach it. Deaan Mephontey, on the other hand, returned as resolute an answer ; that he was under no apprehensions of starving, having provisions enough of all kinds ; a great number of cattle, and other conveniences for them to live on for three months ; but besides, he had strength sufficient to force his way out of the town whenever he thought proper; and advised deaan Crindo, for that reason, not to put it to the hazard of a trial, but to move off, and rest contented with the repulse he had already met with.
After the men had told their tale they returned home, and we all went to digging of yams ; even my mistress condescended to make one amongst us : so I sharpened sticks for them, and they pulled off their lambers to keep them clean ; notwithstanding some of them were such worthless things, that a rag-woman in England would scarce have picked them up. My mistress's, indeed, was a fine silk one of various colours, and very large, hanging almost down to her feet, with a handsome fringe at the bottom. They made more free with me than they would with some others; saying, with a smile, that they did not look upon me as a man, since I discovered no warm or amorous inclinations. My reader, perhaps, will scarcely believe me when I assure him, there were amongst them such beauties, as were not much inferior to our European ladies, except their colour ; but my behaviour and resolution were actually such at that time, and long after, that I told them, I resolved never to entertain any thoughts of women, till I returned to England, my native country. They replied, they were sure I should be mistaken. However, I lived very idly, indeed, but merrily enough, during the few days I continued here : there being about a dozen women besides my mistress. And for my part, I did not care how long the war lasted, for my provision was given me all the time, and I had no work to do. As to the dangers that attended war, I did not concern myself about them; I had nothing to lose but my life, which, considering the circumstances I was in, and the small hopes I had of ever getting home, was but a burthen to me; but we had not yet seen all the miseries of a civil war. Every morning we used to listen, to hear if possible the noise of guns ; when, at length, one of the slaves came to us alone, without any meat; and having seated himself (as slaves in particular always do before they speak), he told us, that deaan Crino was gone away, and that my master had sent for us home. This was very agreeable news ; so we sat down to breakfast together, sang, and were as jovial as so many beggars. My mistress was in a hurry to be gone ; for she was uneasy till she paid her respects to her husband. As soon as ever she saw him she fell upon her knees, and licked his feet ; and he returned her compliment, after the manner of the country, by touching her nose.
Now the reason of deaan Crindo's sudden departure was, an information that deaan Murnanzack had seized six hundred of his cattle ; he might have taken them all, indeed, if he would, but he did this only to begin the dispute. We stayed, however, a week longer at deaan Mephontey's town, till we were better informed . how the matter stood between them; and that there was nothing to fear on that side. Deaan Crindo, it seems, had sent to deaan Murnanzack, to know the reason why he seized those cattle, and whether he was determined to take deaan Mevarrow's part? The answer he received was, that he did it to show him his right of dominion ; notwithstanding, he doubted not, but that he would dispute his title with him, as unjustly as he had usurped it.
This was a mortifying stroke, and happened at a very unlucky juncture : deaan Murnanzack was always a formidable competitor, and was looked on as such, whenever he thought proper to maintain his right; and he, doubtless, embraced this opportunity on purpose, when deaan Crindo had weakened his interest, by affronting deaan Mevarrow, deaan Sambo, and their friend deaan Mephontey. Crindo was soon convinced of his error, and endeavoured to soften matters, by sending messengers to all of them, to tell them that what he did, was with no other view than to chastise his grandsons ; and what was highly requisite, to restore that peace and tranquillity which they and his son Frukey had disturbed ; though he began with the former, yet Frukey, had he proved refractory, should have felt the weight of his resentment as well as others : he hoped, therefore, that they would consider his good intention, and not break friendship with him.
Three or four days after this, we departed from deaan Mephontey's ; bnt first returned him many thanks for these generous testimonies of his friendship and hospitality. We went home, (or rather homeward only,) for though we found our way and the place of our late abode, yet not a house was left to put our heads in. Our plantations, too, were totally demolished, and the very barns and storehouses reduced to ashes ; so that we had nothing to live on but what the woods afforded.