« PoprzedniaDalej »
sent most of my cattle four miles off, agreeing with a man to give him the tithe calf of such as he should rear for me, keeping three cows only at home for milk. So that now I lived as happily as the country could afford me; nay, so much to my satisfaction, that had I not а desire to see my parents once again, I question whether I should ever have taken any pains to get to England; and even when I wished for it, I was perfectly easy; since I was assured that Will. Thornbury would inform my friends where I was, and how the world went with
Some months after this, Rer Vove sent word that he purposed to pay his uncle a visit; upon which I went directly to Rer Moume, and told him, I was going for three or four days to pay my respects to his son Rer Chemunghoher. “I know (said Rer Moume) what you mean, but you have no occasion to fear Rer Vove ; for he shall never have you against your will.” And at the same time he persuaded me to stay and see him, which i did. After some previous discourse about business, and they had drunk a cup or two of toake together, he cast his eyes on me, and told his uncle he was surprised that he should use him in so uncivil a manner, as to detain his slave. Rer Moume replied, he was not conscious of keeping any slave of his from him, and if he would nominate the person, he should be instantly restored. “Why there he stands," says Rer Vove. “ I hope (says the uncle) you don't mean Robin, the white man. Is he a slave of yours? I am ashamed of your imprudence to say so.
Is it not to the white men, but more especially to his countrymen, the English, that we are indebted for the riches we enjoy? We, who formerly were insulted by the Amboerlambo people, and other nations around us, are by these Englishmen's guns made too powerful for them; and by the beads, lookingglasses, &c., which they bring in plenty, our late enemies are fond of our friendship and traffic. And don't you think it a fine story for Will. to tell, that one of his countrymen, who happened to be shipwrecked in this country, was made a slave of by a black lord of Moran
davo? But to satisfy you that I don't treat him like a slave, he is at his liberty to go this moment where he pleases; and take his wife, his slave, and his cattle with him; nay, back with you, if you can prevail on him so to do; and give me your word and honour that you will make him a freeman.” After this manner he argued with his nephew, and reproached him with indiscretion as well as inhumanity, by treating a man in distress with too much severity, till he convinced him of his mistake; insomuch that he desired I would come and see him in the evening, which I did. At my entrance into the house I licked his knee as a testimony of my respect; but not his feet, to let him see that I knew 1 was a freeman. He used many arguments to induce me to live with him, and made me very large promises ; which, probably, he might have performed : for he was no vile person, but only too rash and inconsiderate. He also set Guy to influence me, if possible, who made use of one engaging argument; namely, that Rer Vove intended to travel into the dominions of other princes, out of curiosity to see their various manners and customs. I told Guy the true reason why I would not consent to it; which was that I was much nearer the sea now than when with them; and that I did not question but Rer Moume would send me home by the first ship that came. After this I sat and drank toake with them, then took my leave, and was returning homeward, but Rer Vove followed me and desired I would never mention his amour with his kinsman's wife; which I assured him I never would whilst I lived in the country; and so we parted good friends. It will not be improper, I presume, to make one cursory remark here, which is, that this gay young gentleman was highly to be commended so readily conceding to his uncle's arguments, attending to what he said with reverence, and being convinced by reason.
Thus I lived with Rer Moume as easy and happy as he could possibly make me; and the only misfortune that now attended me, was my residence in a foreigo country. But my hard destiny had still one melan
choly scene or danger more to affright me with before I left this island ; and it was as horrible and shocking to human nature, as any I had hitherto undergone; and the more so, because altogether unexpected, not only by myself, but by every one else; which was thus introduced. There lived at Moherbo, one Francisco, an inoffensive man, born in the East Indies, of Portuguese parents; but as black as most of them. He had lived here many years to his satisfaction, never proposing to remove from off the island; he had been taken by pirates, who, at his request, set him ashore. This man. though a surgeon (as he said) by profession, had a mechanical head, especially to carpenters' and joiners' business, and had furnished himself with tools for his purpose ; and used frequently to oblige the princes and lords with making them chests, &c. Rer Moume sent and desired him to get leave of Rer Trimmonongarevo to come and make him one; which he did. As this artificer spoke the Madagascar language freely, we were agreeable companions. He told me, as part of his secret history, that he was violently in love with a young woman, whose parents, though they were not inclined to the match, did not positively give him a denial. After he had stayed here nearly two months, and finished what Rer Moume had to do, he was dismissed with a generous reward.
When he had been some months at home, with Rer Moume's leave I went to visit him at Moherbo, and found him very ill and melancholy, his mistress in his absence having married another person, which he took to heart. He had made her several presents during his courtship, and received her promise of marriage, which, on his ill treatment, he demanded of her parents again, and on their refusal complained to the king; he being in esteem and always near his person. His request was rejected, the king saying, he would never compel parents to dispose of their children against their inclinations. Upon which, Francisco said indiscreetly in the king's hearing, that as soon as he was recovered of his illness, he would leave Moherbo, and
live under Rer Moume. I had been here but a few days before he began to gather strength, and then he and I went to the king's court. As I was standing by him the king cast an angry eye upon me, and asked, who that white man was with his gun upon his shoulder ? Francisco answered, “ It is Rer Moume's white man, who came to give me a visit." “ Is it so,” said he, “then I know what he wants. Come hither. What is your business here, pray?" I, being conscious of his barbarous disposition, answered in a faint and trembling voice, “Only to visit my sick friend.” “Yes,” replied the king, “ your friend there, in my hearing, said he would go to your master Rer Moume, as soon as he was recovered, and I suppose you are come to conduct him thithér ; but I will spoil your project. Here, Mesoro," calling to the officer, “ take this white slave to the place of execution, despatch him presently and bring his gun to me.” The people were struck with surprise as well as myself; however, I was led out for execution, and multitudes followed me, some of whom desired to shake hands with me, and take their leave of me, which the executioner permitted. I shocked with the tiger-like leap which this savage brute made at my life, that I became stupid, not knowing whether I was in a dream, till I came to the place of execution, where I saw the bones of several wretches lie unburied. Rousing from my lethargy, I began to weep piteously, and to pray to God to receive my soul. What a shocking turn of fortune was this ! that one who but some few minutes before was surrounded by his friends, one whose mind was innocent and free from evil, whose actions were inoffensive, and of whom no man could justly complain, should, in a moment, be doomed to die an ignominious death by the hands of a common executio..er, like a vile malefactor, on no other account, than to gratify the resentment of an old, doating, choleric savage. While I was thus bemoaning my hard fate, and the people pitying my deplorable case, instead of falling on the monster, and freeing themselves and me from his tyr: any, a voice was heard at a distance, “ Stay, stay, don't kill Robin." The words were soon repeated, and the messenger came forward with orders to bring me back; at which the people gave a general shout for joy. When I came before the king, not only his principal wife, but the rest of them were on their knees, with tears in their eyes; nay, some men too were expostulating with him, telling him he would bring irretrievable ruin and desolation on his country; the fatal effects of which his great grandchildren 'would certainly feel, when the white men should hear of his barbarity to one of their countrymen, who had done nothing to deserve it. This, at length, assuaged the heat of his fury; telling me I might thank my friends, or I had been dog's meat by this time. However,” says he, “ I will mortify your pride still.”
“Here,” says he to three men, “take him fettered as he is, and carry him and his gun to Rer Moume, and pray tell my son I expect he should treat him like a a slave as he is, and not let him strut about like a lord, with his gun upon his shoulder.” Hereupon, I fell prostrate on the ground and licked his feet, the people making signs to me so to do. Upon this he bid me thank his women; I then paid my respects to Ry Chemotoea and two or three more, and did so with all sincerity, for it was to their entreaties I owed
We went directly on our journey, and every town we passed through, the people asked with astonishment, what crime the white man had been guilty of, that he should be thus bound? To whom my guard without palliating the case in the king's favour told the truth, for which every one seemed to pity me, and resent the king's ill usage of me. At night when we came to lie down to rest, they asked me whether I would have my hands untied or not? I asked them what were their orders; they said,“ their orders were to keep me bound.” “Then,” said I,“ though it is somewhat painful to me, yet you shall not hazard your lives for my ease." So I lay as well as I could all night, and the next day travelled in the same manner every now and then looking be