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4-III

Part 4

CHAPTER. III.

How I lived after my Father’s Death.

And of the Condition of the rest of the English:

and how it fared with them. And of our Interview.

I still remained where I was before, having none but the black Boy, and my Ague to bear me Company. Never found I more pleasure in Reading, Meditating and Praying than now. For there was nothing else could administer to me any Comfort, neither had I any other Business to be occupied about. I had read my two Books so often over, that I had them almost by heart. For my custom was after Dinner to take a Book and go into the Fields and sit under a Tree, reading and meditating until Evening; excepting the Day when my Ague came, for then I could scarce hold up my head. Often have I prayed as Elijah under the Juniper Tree, that God would takeaway my life, for it was a burthen to me.

At length it pleased God my Ague began to be a little moderate; and so by degrees it wore away, after it had held me sixteen Months.

Provisions falling short with me, tho Rice I thank God, I never wanted, and Monies also growing low; as well to help out a Meal as for Recreation, sometimes I went with an Angle to catch small Fish in the Brooks, the aforesaid Boy being with me. It chanced as I was Fishing, an old Man passed by, and seeing me, asked of my Boy, If I could read in a Book. He answered, Yes. The reason I ask, said the old Man, is because I have one I got when the Portugueze left Columbo, and if your Master please to buy it, I will sell it him. Which when I heard of; I bad my Boy go to his House with him, which was not far off, and bring it to me to see it, making no great account of the matter, supposing it might be some Portugueze Book.

The Boy having formerly served the English, knew the Book, and as soon as he had got it in his hand came running with it, calling out to me, It is a Bible. It startled me to hear him mention the name of a Bible. For I neither had one, nor scarcely could ever think to see one. Upon which I flung down my Angle and went to meet him. The first place the Book opened in after I took it in my hand, was the Sixteenth Chapter of the Acts, and the first place my eye pitched on, was the Thirtieth and one and Thirtieth Verses, where the Jailor asked S. Paul, What must I do to be saved? And he answered saying, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thine house.

The sight of this Book so rejoiced me, and affrighted me together, that I cannot say, which Passion was greater, the joy, for that I had got sight of a Bible, or the fear, that I had not enough to buy it, having then but one Pagodain the World, which I willingly would have given for it, had it not been for my Boy, who dissuaded me from giving so much, alledging my Necessity for Money many other ways, and undertaking to procure the Book for a far meaner price, provided I would seem to slight it in the sight of the old Man. This counsel after I considered I approved of, my urgent Necessities earnestly craving, and my Ability being but very small to relieve the same: and however, I thought, I could give my piece of Gold at the last cast, if other means should fail.

I hope the Readers will excuse me, that I hold them so long upon this single passage, For it did so affect me then, that I cannot lightly pass it over as often as I think of it, or have occasion to mention it.

The sight indeed of this Bible so overjoyed me, as if an Angel had spoke to me from Heaven. To see that my most gracious God had prepared such an extraordinary Blessing for me; which I did, and ever shall look upon as miraculous, to bring unto me a Bible in my own Native Language, and that in such a remote part of the World, where his Name was not so much as known, and where any English Man was never known to have been before. I looked upon it, as somewhat of the same nature with the Ten Commandments he had given the Israelites out of Heaven; it being the thing for want whereof I had so often mourned, nay and shed tears too; and than the enjoyment whereof there could be no greater joy in the world to me.

Upon the sight of it I left off Fishing, God having brought a Fishto me, that my Soul had longed for; and now how to get it and enjoy the same, all the Powers of my Soul were employed. I gave God Page 128hearty thanks that he had brought it so near me, and most earnestly prayed that he would bestow it on me. Now, it being well towards Evening, and not having wherewithal to buy it about me, I departed home, telling the old Man, that in the Morning I would send my Boy to buy it of him.

All that Night I could take no rest for thinking on it, fearing lest I might be disappointed of it. In the Morning as soon as it was day, I sent the Boy with a knit Cap he had made for me to buy the Book, praying in my heart for good success, which it pleased God to grant: For that Cap purchased it, and the Boy brought it to me to my great joy, which did not a little comfort me over all my Afflictions.

Having said all this concerning my Father and my Self, it will be time now to think of the rest of our poor Countreymen, and to see what is become of them. They were carried into the County of Hotteracourly, Westward from the City of Cande, and placed singly according to the King’s Order aforesaid, some four, some six Miles distant one from the other. It was the King’s Command concerning them that the People should give them Victuals, and look after them. So they carried each man from house to house to eat, as their turns came to give them Victuals, and where they Supped there they Lodged that Night. Their Bedding was only a Mat upon the Ground.

They knew not they were so near to one another a great while; till at length Almighty God was pleased by their grief and heaviness to move those Heathen to Pity and take Compassion on them: So that they did bring some of them to one another. Which joy was but Abortive, for no sooner did they begin to feel the Comfort of one anothers Company, but immediately their Keepers called upon them to go from whence they came: fearing they might consult and run away, altho Columbo the nearest Port they could fly to was above two days Journey from them. But as it is with wild Beasts beginning to grow tame, their Liberty encreaseth: So it happened to our Men; so that at length they might go and see one another at their pleasures; and were less and less watched and regarded. And seeing they did not attempt to run away, they made no matter of it, if they stayed two or three days one with the other.

They all wondered much to see themselves in this Condition, to be kept only to eat, and the People of the Countrey giving it unto them, daily expecting when they would put them to work, which they never did, nor dared to do. For the King’s order was to feed them well only, and to look after them until he pleased to send for them. This after some time made them to change their minds, and not to think themselves Slavesany more, but the Inhabitants of the Land to be their Servants, in that they laboured to sustain them.

Which made them to begin to Domineer, and would not be content unless they had such Victuals as pleased them, and oftentimes used to throw the Pots, Victuals and all at their heads that brought them, which they patiently would bear.

And as they lived here longer, they knew better what Privileges they had in belonging unto the King, and being maintained by virtue of his Command. And their Privileges they made use of to no purpose, as I shall relate an instance or two by and by; and showed their English Metal.

Victuals was the only thing allowed them, but no Cloths. By this time the Cloths they had were almost worn out. This put them to a study what course to take to procure more, when those on their backs were gone. The readiest way that they could devise was this, that whereas they used to take their Victuals brought to them ready dressed, they should now take them raw; and so to pinch somewhat out of their Bellies, to save to buy Cloths for their Backs. And so accordingly they concluded to do: and by the favour that God gave them in the sight of the People, by alledging the Innocency of their Cause, and the Extremity of their present Condition, having not the least ability to help or relieve themselves, they consented to give them two Measures of Rice a day each man. One of which is as much as any man can eat in a day, so that the other was to serve for advance towards Cloths. For besides Rice, they gave them to eat with it Salt, Pepper, Limes, Herbs, Pumpkins, Coker Nuts, Flesh a little. These and such like things were their constant fare.

And thus they made a shift to live for some years, until some of them had an insight in knitting Caps, by whom all afterwards learned, and it proved to be the chief means and help we all had to relieve our wants. The ordinary price we sold these Caps for, was Nine pence a piece in value English Money, the Thread standing us in about three pence. But at length, we plying hard our new Learned Trade, Caps began to abound, and Trading grew dead, so that we could not sell them at the former price: which brought several of our Nation to great want.

The English began now to pluck up their hearts, and tho they were entred into a new Condition, they kept their old Spirits, especially considering they were the King’s Men, and quartered by his special order upon the People. When they had obtained to have their Allowance raw, if any brought them not their full due, they would go in and Plunder their Houses of such Goods as they found there, and keep them until they came and brought them their compleat allowance to redeem their Goods back again.

Some of our English men have proceeded further yet. One for example went to buy Pots of a Potter. Who because he would not let him have them at his own price fell to quarrel, in which the English man met with some blows. Which he complained of to the Magistrate as being a Person that belonged unto the King, and therefore claimed better usage. And the Magistrate condemned the Potter as guilty in lifting up his hand against him, and sent some of his Soldiers to bind him, and then bad the English man go and content himself by paying him in the same Coin again, as he had served our Countreyman; which he did until he was satisfied, and moreover, ordered him to take the Pots he came to buy and pay nothing. But the Law was not so satisfied neither, for the Soldiers laid on many blows besides.

Another time at a certain Feast, as they were drinking and wanting Wine, they sent Money to buy more; but the Seller refused to give it them for their Money. Which they took so hainously, that they unanimously concluded to go and take it by force. Away they went each man with his Staff in his hand, and entred the House and began to Drink; which the People not liking of, gathered their Forces together, Page 130and by blows began to resist them. But the English men bravely behaved themselves, and broke several of their Pates. Who with the Blood about their Ears went to the City to complain to the great Men. They demanded of them, If they had ever sold them Wine before. They answered, Yes. They asked them again, Why then did they refuse to sell them now? And that they were well served by the English for denying them drink for their Money: and so sent them away laughing at them. Our Men got two or three black and blew Blows, but they came home with their Bellies full of Drink for their pains.

But to return unto my self. It was a full year after my Father died, before I had sight of any of my Countreymen and Fellow Prisoners. Then John Gregory with much ado obtained leave to come and see me: which did exceedingly rejoyce me. For a great Satisfaction it was, both to see a Countreyman, and also to hear of the welfare of the rest. But he could not be permitted to stay with me above one day. Until then, I knew not punctually where the rest of my Countreymen were, but having heard that they were within a days Journey of me, I never ceased importuning the People of the Town where I dwelt, to let me go and see them. Which tho very loath, yet at last they granted. Being arrived at the nearest English man’s House, I was joyfully received, and the next day he went and called some of the rest of our Countreymen that were near. So that there were some seven or eight of us met together.

We gave God thanks for his great Mercies towards us, being then, as we did confess, in a far better Condition than we could have expected. They were now no more like the Prisoners I left them, but were become House keepers, and Knitters of Caps and had changed their Habit from Breeches to Clouts like the Chingulays. They entertained me with very good chear in their Houses beyond what I did expect.

My Money at the same time almost gone, and Cloaths in the same condition, it was high time for me now to take some course in hand to get more. Therefore I took some advice with them about Knitting, my Boy having Skill therein. Likewise they advised me to take my Victuals raw, wherein they found great Profit. For all this while here being no signs of releasing us, it concerned me now to bethink my self how I should live for the future. For neither had I, any more than my Countreymen, any allowance for Cloths, but Victuals only.

Having stayed here some two or three days, we did take leave of one another, hoping to see one another oftner, since we knew each others Habitations: and I departed to my House, having a Keeper with me.

By this time I began to speak the Language of the Countrey. Whereby I was inabled the better to speak my mind unto the People that brought me my Victuals. Which Was henceforward not to boil my Rice, but to bring it raw according to the quantity that the other English men had. This occasioned a great deal of disputing and reasoning between us. They alledged, That I was not as they, being the Captain’s Son, and they but his Servants, and therefore that it was ordered Page 131by the great Men at Court, that my Victuals should be daily brought unto me, whereas they went always from house to house for theirs: Neither was it fitting for me, they said, to imploy my self in such an Inferior Office as to dress my own Meat, being a Man that the King had notice of by Name, and very suddenly before I should be aware of it, would send for me into the Presence, where I should be highly promoted to some Place of Honour. In the mean time, they told me, as pretending to give me good counsel, That it was more for my credit and repute to have my Provisions brought unto me ready Dressed as they were before.

Altho I was yet but a Novice in the Countrey, and knew not much of the People, yet plain reason told me, that it was not so much for my good and credit that they pleaded, as for their own benefit. Wherefore I returned them this answer, That if as they said I was greater in quality than the rest, and so held in their Estimation, it would be but reason to demand a greater allowance, whereas I desired no more than the other English men had. And as for the toyl and trouble in dressing of it, that would be none to me, for my Boy had nothing else to do. And then I alledged several inconveniencies in bringing my Victuals ready boiled; as first, that it was not dressed according to my Diet; and many times not brought in due Season, so that I could not eat when I was an hungry. And the last and chief reason of all was, that I might save a little to serve my Necessity of Clothing: and rather than want Cloths for my Back, I must pinch a little out of my Belly, and so both go share and share like. And so at length, thanks be to God, I obtained, tho with much ado, to get two Measures of Rice per day for my self, and one for my Boy; also Coker-nuts, Pumpkins, Herbs, Limes, and such like enough, besides Pepper and Salt; and sometimes Hens, Eggs, or Flesh: Rice being the main thing they stand upon, for other things they refuse not to give what they have.

Now having settled all Business about my allowance, my next concern was to look after an House more convenient, for my present one was too small to dress my Victuals in, and to sleep in too. Thereabouts was a Garden of Coker-nut Trees, belonging unto the King, a pleasant situation; this place I made choice of to build me a House in. And discovering my desire to the People, they consented, and came and built it for me: but before it was finished, their occasions called them away, but my Boy and I made an end of it, and whitened the Walls with Lime, according to my own Countrey fashion. But in doing this I committed a Capital Offence: for none may white their Houses with Lime, that being peculiar to Royal Houses and Temples. But being a Stranger nothing was made of it, because I did it in ignorance: had it been a Native that had so done, it is most probable it would have cost him his Head, or at the least a great Fine.

Being settled in my new House, I began to keep Hogs and Hens; which by God’s Blessing thrived very well with me, and were a great help unto me. I had also a great benefit by living in this Garden. For all the Coker-nuts that fell down they gave me, which afforded me Oyl to burn in the Lamp, and also to fry my meat in. Which Oyl being new is but little inferior to this Countrey Butter. Now I learned to knit Caps, which Skill I quickly attained unto, and by God’s Blessing upon the same, I obtained great help and relief thereby.

In this manner we all lived, seeing but very little sign that we might build upon, to look for Liberty. The chief of our hopes of it was that in process of time when we were better acquainted we might run away. Which some of our People attempted to do too soon, before they knew well which way to go, and were taken by the Inhabitants. For it is the custom of the Chingulays to suspect all white People, they meet travailing in the Countrey, to be Runaways; and to examine them: and if they cannot give satisfactory answers, they will lay hold of them and carry them back unto the City. Where they will keep them Prisoners under a guard of Soldiers in an open House like a Barn with a little Victuals sometimes, and sometimes with none at all. Where they have no other remedy to help themselves but Begging. And in this Condition they may lye perhaps for their Lifetime, being so kept for a Spectacle unto the People.

Tho the common way whereby the King gratifies such as catch Runawayes and bring them up, is not over acceptable. For they are appointed to feed and watch them until he calls for them to be brought before him. At which time his promise is bountifully to reward them. But these Promises I never knew performed. Neither doth he perhaps ever think of it after. For when the King is made acquainted with the matter, the men that have brought up the Prisoner are in a manner as bad Prisoners themselves, not daring to go home to their Houses without his leave, but there they must remain. After some years stay, the common manner is, for them to give a Fee unto the Governor of the Countrey, and he will licence them to go home, which they must be contented with instead of the promised reward.

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