Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

very difficult point to determine who was the aggressor in the present quarrel. But one day, as I and some others went about five or six miles to water our cattle, having two men armed with guns to guard us, according to custom, it happened, on our return home, that notwithstanding the greater number of them went on slowly, grazing as they passed along, some of the milch cows, wanting to be sucked by their calves, ran homewards before the rest. The man knowing me to be very active and nimble, desired me to run forwards and stop them, in order to keep them in a body; but they being got at a great distance, it was some time before I could turn them. When I wheeled about, I was surprised to see one of our men shooting amongst a body of men, who were driving the cattle another way, and running from them towards me; they soon espied us, and our cattle, and ran after us. Hereupon I quitted my post, and fled as fast as I could home to my master, and was the first messenger to relate our disaster. I puffed and blowed, being frightened, and out of breath, and in imperfect exclamations I told him, that an army had seized our cattle; and that one of our men, named Roynsowra, had fired and killed somebody; but I could not inform him who the enemy were, nor on what account they thus attacked us. While my master and some others were discoursing with me, in came two or three more, who informed them that deaan Chahary and his brother deaan Frukey, two of deaan Crindo's sons, were the parties concerned. Our master, it seems, had been found guilty of stealing three of deaan Frukey's cattle, and this they did by way of retaliation. All was in an uproar and confusion at once. Each man took up his arms in a hurry. Deaan Mevarrow ordered them to follow him, which they were as much inclined to do as he was to lead them, for the loss was general. All the milch cows and home-kept cattle were gone, and now away went all the men in pursuit of them, except such as were old and infirm. Amongst others, I was demolished, having lost my cow and my two heifers; my calf, indeed, was left at home, lowing for its dam, as did every body's else; between which vociferations and the outcries of the women and children, there was a most confused and hideous uproar.

Deaan Frukey, who then was, or at least pretended to be, the injured person, lived within two or three miles of our watering-place; but they drove our cattle more to the northward, to deaan Chahary's town, which was better fortified, and much more capable of sustaining the assault, which they justly imagined we should make against it. Though our peop were highly provoked, and very expeditious, yet they followed them with all the circumspection imaginable; having spies who ran softly before, by whom they found their enemies were entered the town with their booty. Our people, not being provided with strength sufficient, and having no time to call in their neighbours to their assistance, did not attempt to assault deaan Chahary's town, but turned off without being suspected, and went about five miles farther, where they kept their breeding cattle. As it was now late in the night, they took them all without any opposition, the few keepers they had being at a distance, and fast asleep; so that they drove away the beasts without any noise, and made their way homewards as fast as possible. We looked out all the morning, expecting every minute they would return; and, at length, we espied them with a vast drove of cattle, containing as many at least, if not more than our own, being above five hundred. All of us imagined they had recovered their own; and for my own part, I was thinking how I should kiss my cow for joy of seeing her again ; but too soon we perceived they were strangers, and as I was not with them, I had no share of the booty

My master, and several others, after they had divided them, killed some of the oxen; a jovial feast was made immediately, and our people sent me part of the banquet. The day following my master despatched me to look after the cattle as before, whilst he went to repair some breaches in his town walls, by putting in several poles, which were cut down for that purpose, and made

preparations for a war. He had not patience, however, to stay at home and see whether his enemies would come to create him any new disturbance, though he might be very well satisfied with the reprisals he had made on them, since he had taken away more than he had lost. However, in two or three days' time after, he was resolutely bent to surprise the enemy's town by night, though he left his own unguarded, and met with such success as so precipitate a conduct justly deserved; for the very next morning after their expedition, as I and others were watering our cattle, and looking carefully after them, lest they should run to their own home, which was considerably nearer to the wateringplace than our town, about twenty men rushed out of a thicket of bushes, and leaped upon us like so many tigers on their prey. However, I and three or four more boys had time to start out of their clutches and fly for it; but they soon overtook the rest, carrying them back, and all the cattle and the other slaves that were with them; while some followed me, holloaing out, and menacing to kill me if I did not stop and surrender myself their captive. Thereupon I turned about, and perceiving I had gained ground of them, I ran directly forwards for a mile and a half at least, before I came to any proper shelter. At length I came to a wood, with which I was well acquainted, where I soon lost them. They returned back to their companions, and went off with their prisoners and cattle. Perceiving them gone I hastened home ; when I entered the town the women immediately flocked round about me, for they saw by my countenance and the confusion I was in, that some misfortune had attended our party. I soon acquainted them with the loss we had sustained, and they as soon reflected on their husbands' ill conduct; who, to gratify the dictates of a blind passion, and to avenge themselves on their enemies, would leave all that was valuable to themselves unguarded to become their prey; for they might be very well assured that they had spies out to give notice of every opportunity which might tend to their advantage.

Deaan Mevarrow returned about evening, when, for his welcome home, the news of this morning's expedition was related to him. I also understood the project they went upon had proved fruitless and ineffectual ; for though they arrived at the enemy's town an hour before daylight, yet so cautious and vigilant were they in sending out their spies all ways both night and day, that they discovered our people, and alarmed the townfolks, who came out and met them. And all that was done, as I could hear, was only a tonguebattle, and vollies of opprobrious language. Deaan Mevarrow, indeed, fired at them at a distance, which they returned, but no execution was done on either side. A kinsman coming soon after daylight to deaan Frukey's assistance, deaan Mevarrow thought it most advisable to withdraw; but not without telling them, if his kinsman and his people had not come in to his assistance, he would have had all his cattle again in a few hours. To this they replied, that they would not only keep the cattle they had of his, but that their own, which had been lately carried away by surprise, were by this time in their own hands again, as he would find at his return. And what they asserted, indeed, proved too true: at this he was heartily nettled. We had killed, however, a considerable number of them first, and stocked ourselves with provisions. He vowed to be revenged on his uncles, and accordingly made preparations for another enterprise, which was entered upon in three days after. He asked me if I was willing to make one of the party? I very readily embraced his offer, for there was safety nowhere now; and being at home was as dangerous as being with them. So he furnished me with a gun, cartouch-box, and powder-horn, and thus accoutred, I commenced soldier.

We sallied out of our town as soon as it was dark, for we had a great way to go. Deaan Frukey, with all his people, having abandoned his own town, not thinking it sufficiently fortified, and moved to his brother's which was many miles farther to the northward, we

K

marched very briskly, but as silently as possible, never speaking to each other, but in whispers. As my skin appeared white, they imagined it must be discerned at a distance in the dark, and expose us by that means to our enemy's spies; they therefore made me besmear myself all over with mud.

We came near the town about two hours before daylight, and sent two men who were perfectly acquainted with every part of it, in order to search for breaches, or at least some weak places in the fortifications. They succeeded as they could wish, and returned, having discovered not only two breaches, but the private way too, which is always prepared for the women and chil. dren, by which to make their escape into the woods in case of a surprise. Near this place we laid an ambuscade of thirty men, who were ordered not to fire, or make the least noise, and to seize the women only in their flight. Our army was divided into three parts : deaan Mevarrow, with his people, attacked the more difficult breach of the two; a chief man of his the other; and deaan Sambo the gate, in whose party I was; for my master would not take me with him, thinking I could not well bear to tread upon the thorns in the fortification.

There were three gates, one within another. The signal for our attack was the firing the first gun, which was not to be till the deaan Mevarrow and the

other chief had secured the outside of the breaches, and it was a quarter of an hour before we had accomplished it. The townsmen were by that time all in arms, and almost as well prepared as we, for they secured the inner gate, at the same time we entered the outer one, and came furiously towards us with warmth and resolution; however, we drove them back. They maintained the other, indeed, a long time, till deaan Mevarrow, had, with much difficulty, gained a passage through the breach; one of his principal men was shot in the belly just before him, which so provoked him that he leaped down, and the rest followed.

About the same time we pushed vigorously towards,

« PoprzedniaDalej »