Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Some of our principal men soon after procured leave to go into the country to get honey, and hunt such wild catile as they could find, of which there were many on this side the river Oneghaloyhe. We looked on ourselves to be perfectly safe at this time, it being between November and April, when the river was swelled very large and there were no canoes except here and there one, but it was impassable for an army. With my master's consent I accompanied them; we walked half a day very briskly before we came to a proper place to bait at, and where we could find ove (that is wild yams) or susers, which we found here in plenty ; but we had still a hard day's journey to go to the place proposed for our country habitation, and when we came there we had our house to build. After our first arrival, which was in the evening, we took care to get a good supper; two of us, who well knew the place, went to look out for honey among the rocks, in the fissures or openings whereof bees make their combs ; the other two (for we were four in all) dug ove and

Our companions succeeded and brought some honey, and we regaled ourselves in an elegant manner. The next day by noon we finished our house, which we thatched with palmetto leaves. The day following we employed ourselves in getting some araffer, which is a pleasant liquor that I had not tasted before; the tree from whence it flows is something like a cocoa-nut tree but not quite so large, and rather a kind of palmetto, called in their language satter. The long leaves or branches are burnt off, and the trunk is left bare; then we cut off part of the top of the tree, and with our lances or hatchets make a hole in the middle, which in a short time fills with a liquid which issues as from a spring. This may be sucked out with a reed till it is dry, yet it will fill again the same day, and so continue for six or seven days before the juice is totally exhausted. It is not like a sirup, but very sweet and pleasant, and I never knew it give any one the flux, as some may imagine, nor did any one of us meet with the least inconvenience from drinki"g it. We

susers.

wanted, however, some roast meat ; so roving about the next day, we espied a herd of about twenty of Hattoy's cattle, and with a little difficulty made ourselves masters of a bull. Now we lived luxuriously; we made drinking cups of the bull's horns; for by thrusting thein into the fire, and giving them a knock or two, the pith came all out, and we were as well contented as some folks with fine glasses. It is indeed surprising, though delightful, 'to see how plentifully Providence has furnished this country with every thing, not only with all the necessaries of life, but even with a delicious variety. If ever any country flowed with milk and honey it is this; and with so much ease are they to be had, that as the natives have no knowledge of the curse of Adam and his posterity, so one would be tempted to think, as well for this reason as from their colour, that they are not of his race, or that the curse ever reached them, for they can get their living without the sweat of their brows, or the least hard labour. Notwithstanding all this, the follies and passions of men will too often lead them into misery, though they have happiness in their power; in this fine country their frequent quar'rels with one another and open wars reduce them to the greatest necessity in the midst of the greatest plenty. But they are confined sometimes by so powerful an enemy, that they are afraid to stir out of their houses to fetch what the land naturally produces ; and this was the then hard fortune of Feraingher, and the substance of our conversation after supper; my companions having entertained me with an account of the great power and strength of their country but a little before, in the days of Rer Vovvern; and how deplorable its case was at present, how they were obliged to confine themselves and get close together, that they might be ready at a call to repulse an enemy, and by that means abandon the finest and most plentiful part of the country:

We lived now, however, very happily, and in affluence, during our continuance at our country-house; we made just such an oven as I have before described, and baked our beef in it; then we went in quest of some honey to carry home with us. In which, as I was better acquainted with the nature of bees than they, I had better fortune, and got as much as I could carry off. When our beef grew so far touched that we could not eat it, we looked out for more; it was my good fortune in particular to meet with a young heifer, which I drove into a thicket, and having killed her, I ballooed to my companions. This we agreed to dress, and carry as much of it home as conveniently we could; in the first place, however, we baked the marrow bones, boiled the liver, and spread the marrow on it, as a dainty morsel ; and then we made up our enters, and marched homewards as well satisfied as we were heavily laden, but not being in haste, we travelled very softly.

We would not enter the town till midnight, lest we might be observed; and now once more I wished for my wife to have been at home to receive me. The next morning I waited on the chief lady with a horn of honey and a piece of beef, who was highly delighted, but thought I had brought too much ; from her I went to the other where deaan Trongha was, and paid my compliments to her. The deaan was very glad to see me eat a plentiful breakfast, and was extremely pleased to hear me tell the various circumstances of our sport; the others by this time, according to custom, were come to present their lord with some part of what they had got, by way of acknowledgment. As I was going home one met me who wanted to buy some honey, it being rumoured about, that I had brought home a large cargo; he gave me a fine silk lamber for a calabash of honey that contained about two gallons. I thought myself very fine in it, and sure I am, I was the first of the family who was ever dressed so much like a Madagascar lord. Deaan Trongha told me, I had bought it cheaply enough in conscience; for if honey had not been scarce it was worth four times as much; silk is very plentiful in this country, if they would také the pains to gather it.

Here, through ignorance, I committed an egregiour error, for as deaan Trongha was saying, the man bought the honey dear. I answered a little too smartly. “If this war continue but three or four years longer, a man will be glad to sell a child for such a calabash of honey.” The prince' took me up with some warmth, and said, “ Then I presume you will leave us, and go to some inland prince for a belly full of victuals." I assured him, however, that I would stay with him till he could send me home in some ship or another; and that no other motive should ever part us. Though he said no more, I found he was uneasy, and could not find out the reason till after we returned from the plantation, at which time, as we were walking homewards alone, “Robin,” says he,“ you are not aware, perhaps, that our people imagine you can conjure; and as you know the torratos, that is, writing and reading, you can foretell things to come. Now by your talking of worse times in our country than the present before these illiterate people, they will take it for granted that it will certainly be so, and you will so discourage them, that they will all run away; for they would pay as superstitious a regard to you as to an umossee, if you thought it proper to act such a part; since necessity (for the reason I have told you) seems to require it at this juncture." I replied that, though I was conscious of my error, yet I could never think they would take me for a conjuror, or one who knew things before they happened; for if I had been possessed of that talent, I would never have taken this last unfortunate voyage, in which I was cast ashore on this island. say is true,” says he; “ but these people are too ignorant to be instructed, and it is not in your power or mine to convince them : and to make the attempt is but to give them an ill opinion of us; they must be indulged in their superstitious notions, be humoured, and talked to like peevish sickly children. As this is the case" said I, “I beg pardon, and faithfully promise you to be very careful of my words, lest they should prove any means of discouragement to them for the future.”

In three or four days at most, our fine provision was

6 What you

gone; for I distributed what I had, as is customary, among our neighbours; and then we had little else but tamarinds and ashes. About three weeks after, Eglasse and his man Toby came to pay me a visit, and brought some beef and potatoes with them; for they knew our poverty. We had an odd sort of conversation between Eglasse's broken Madagascar, and my broken English; but Toby, who spoke both languages, helped us out. He stayed with me all night, and went the next day to deaan Trongha, and begged for me to live with him five or six weeks, which was readily granted ; so I shut up my house, and in five or six hours arrived at Eglas. se's, where Efflep and his two sons, Ja uues and John, gave me a hearty welcome.

I used to walk about to t.e :djacent towns with Eglasse, and met with several o' ne natives, who could speak English tolerably; bv. here was one of them, who, when a boy, used to go of errands, and transact business for the English pirates, who frequented this place; so that he spoke Ènglish as well as his native tongue. He was very rich, had three wives, many slaves and cattle; he had also wearing clothes which belonged to such persons as died there ; for when any one was sent sick ashore, he used to take care of them, and if they died, he had what they left. His true name was William Purser, though the natives called him William Poser. He always treated me in a very handsome manner, when I went to see him; but he never offered me any clothes, nor did I desire any. For there I should have behaved but awkwardly in an English dress;

and as I had now a fine lamber to wear after their manner, I was very well contented.

I had been here above a month, before old Efflep died, and his son James made a grand burial for him, after the manner of the country; which is the same as in Anterndroea. He killed four or five beeves, to entertain his friends who attended the funeral. The princes and lords do not kill the beasts here; but a prince will eat any thing, even swine's flesh, though a slave should kill it.

« PoprzedniaDalej »