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At night we came to another of these little villages, where we killed a bullock, and got a few earthen pots to cook our meat in; the water was very thick and nasty, they having none but what they fetched at a great distance out of holes and pits in the woods, and kept in calabashes, or long tubs, which hold about four or five gallons each; however it served our purpose, for at that time we were not very curious.
We reposed ourselves on the ground in the best manner we could, and rose the next morning by daylight. We had beef for our breakfast without any bread or roots in the room of it, and our meat was full of sand; however, eating and drinking was the least of our concern at that time. We passed this day much after the same manner as the day before, with this difference only, tnat those who wanted shoes were sadly harassed in the woods.
On the third day of our march we came to our journey's end; we were obliged to walk much faster than either of the two former, having more ground to traverse and less time to do it in, for we were ordered to be at the king's town before sunset.
I missed one of my purses in this day's journey, but the loss of it was not of any great importance to me at that time, for it would have been of little service to me had I kept it; but the loss of a medal afterwards which my dear mother had presented me as a testimony of her love, and a token to remember her, was no small addition to my other misfortunes.
The residence of this king is about fifty miles from the seaside, for I reckon we might travel sixteen or seventeen miles a day. It stands in a wood secured with trees all round it, which seem to have been planted there when very young; they grow very regular and tall, and so close together, that a small dog cannot pass between them. They are likewise armed with Îarge strong thorns, so that there is no breaking through or climbing over them. There are but two passages or gates, which are so narrow that two only can go abreast; one of these is to the northward, and the other to the southward; the whole is about a mile in circumference.
When we came near our journey's end we halted, whilst Sam went to inform the king of our arrival. We were ordered to wait till he was ready for our reception; our captain too put us into the best form he could, ordering all our baggage and such things as our people brought with them, to be lodged under a tamarind tree, and three or four Lascars to look after them. He soon sent for us, and we marched in order by fours. The king was sitting on a mat, cross-legged, in the open air, just before the door of his palace, with a gun leaning on his shoulder, and a brace of pistols lying by his side; his sons and kinsmen sat in the same manner on the ground on each hand of him; armed with guns and lances; the natives joined them on both sides, and formed together a semicircle; most of these were likewise furnished with guns and lances. There were mats spread from one end of the people to the other for us to sit on, so that when we had joined them, the assembly was almost a circular form. We were somewhat concerned to see them all thus in arms, till Sam informed us, that they never go from one house to another without them.
As soon as we were seated, the king (by Sam) assured the captain he was welcome, and sent for ten calabashes of toake, six he gave to our people, three to his own, and one he reserved for our captain and himself. He also sent for Captain Drummond, Captain Steward, and the rest of their company. Captain Younge arose to salute them, and after the usual compliments were passed, the captains sat down together. The king ordered a servant to pour out some toake into a clean earthen cup which he kept for his own use, and drank it up without drinking to any body, but ordered some more to be poured out for our captain in another cup, but as it was dirty he refused it. The king asked Sam the reason of it, who told him the truth, so the king sent a man immediately to wash it,
The captain, indeed, expected to be served out of the king's cup, but Sam informed him, that neither black nor white, nor even his wives or children, ever drank out of his cup; and this is the general custom of the country.
When I saw the servant returning with the cup our captain had refused, I took out my silver one, and presented it to him; after we had all drank out of it, the king desired to see it, and was so wonderfully pleased with it that he desired to keep it. But the captain informed him that it was none of his, but belonged to a lad that was behind him. I called to Sam and desired him to acquaint the king, that since so many people had drank out of it, I humbly conceived it could not be fit for his use. At this he and the people round him laughed heartily. He ordered me to stand up that he might see me; however I saved my cup this time. Night drawing on he withdrew, ordering us a bullock for our supper. Notwithstanding his courteous reception of us, he would not trust us all to lie within the gates of the town; our captain, Mr. Prat, our chief mate, Mr. Bembo, our second mate, and myself, were the only persons that were so far indulged. We had a hutch ordered us next to Captain Drummond and his companions, but the rest of the people lay without the gates under the trees.
In this manner we lived for some few days; what particular amusements some of our people found out to pass away their tedious hours I know not, but there occurred to me an affair of a most agreeable and surprising nature, which some would have improved, and made use of to advantage.
This king had a daughter about thirteen or fourteen years of age who would talk to me sometimes an hour or two together, though I did not comprehend one word she said. Though she seemed to be very desirous I should know her meaning, yet she was very modest, and used no indecent gestures to intimate any vicious inclinations, neither did I entertain any idea of an intrigue, so that our conversation on my side aimed at nothing; this she at length perceived, and sent Sam to
me one day to desire I would come to her nurse's house, where she was educated; and partake of a small entertainment. I went along with him, and as soon as we entered, I found a mat spread on one side of the house, on which she desired us to seat ourselves, and ordered one of her attendants to boil some guinea corn and milk, and roast some beef. She sat down over against me, and though I had no notion of love, yet I could not help observing a particular softness in the tone of her voice; and when she inquired of Sam about our misfortunes, she showed abundance of concern for
and looked at me with a more than common pleasure, as people of taste do at pictures which please them; and, in short, stared me almost out of countenance. I imagined she was resolved to know me again, by her narrow observance of every motion. She was extremely courteous and obliging, and often sighed with pity at the sense she seemed to have of our deplorable condition. I looked upon her as a goodnatured creature, and that curiosity, more than love, had made her fond of conversing with a white man, which is a novelty in their country.
We were just entering into the best part of the conversation, and our interpreter had begun, at her request, to acquaint me with the reason of her extraordinary complaisance and observance of me, when her mother came to the door, and desired her to take a walk with her without the gates, to see the white men.
I was a little nettled at this interruption, and she seemed much more concerned at it herself; however, it would have been an act of the highest disobedience in her to have refused her mother's request, so she complied with a seeming readiness, and we returned.
Sam told me he had private orders from her to inform me, that she was in love with me; but laid her commands upon him to say nothing ofit to any person whomsoever, either white or black. I was strangely startled at this open declaration, and that this was the private motive that induced her to be fond of my company and conversation. Since I came to be a man, I
have stood astonished at my own stupidity, in putting a modest young lady of her birth and character, to the mortification of acquainting me with her love, and exposing herself to the censures of another man. I have nothing to plead in my excuse, but that being a lad, scarce sixteen years of age, the discovery of so important a secret created in me more fear than affection; lest the consequences of so dangerous an affair might prove fatal to me. She sent again for me that very night, and I attended her accordingly; and behaved myself with all the decency and good manners, as common prudence, and gratitude for her civilities obliged me to. I knew she was the king's darling, and therefore dreaded to disoblige her, lest she might tell her father what story she thought proper, and destroy me in a moment. At length I perceived she was equally afraid of her father's knowledge of her passion, so that I looked upon myself in danger on both sides; for which reason, when Sam informed me that she desired my company again the next night, I pretended to be very sick, and unable to go abroad; so that this affair, which might have proved highly agreeable to some warmer persons, proved to me, in the circumstances I was then, a matter of vexation and fatigue; but two days after, our amour, if I may call it so, was totally disconcerted.
Every morning we went, as was expected, in a body, to visit the king; but one morning he ordered Sam to inform us, that he had an inveterate enemy to the westward, who had hitherto proved too powerful for him; but since his gods had been so indulgent as to send some white men into his dominions, he would embrace so favourable an opportunity once more to try his strength with our assistance; but in the mean time he should be obliged to distribute us among his sons, who lived at distant towns, not only for the convenience of providing for such a number of us, (there not being room enough in this town,) but to ease himself of a charge which was too great and burthensome for him to support alone. He also sent to me this night to beg the silver cup before mentioned, with which request (know