How the Author began his Escape;
and got onward of his Way about an Hundred miles.
Having often gone this Way to seek for Liberty, but could not yet find it; we again set forth to try what Success God Almighty would now give us, in the Year MDCLXXIX, on the Two and twentieth of September, furnished with such Arms as we could well carry with safety and secrecy, which were Knives and small Axes; we carried also several sorts of Ware to sell as formerly: the Moon being seven and twenty dayes old. Which we had so contrived, that we might have a light Moon, to see the better to run away by: having left an Old Man at home, whom I had hired to live with me, to look after my House and Goats.
We went down at the Hill Bocawl, where there was now no Watch, and but seldom any. From thence down to the Town of Bonder Cooswat, where my Father dyed; and by the Town of Nicavar, which is the last Town belonging to Hotcurly in that Road. From thence forward the Towns stand thin. For it was sixteen miles to the next Town called Parroah, which lay in the Country of Neure Cawlava, and all the way thro a Wilderness called Parroah Mocolane, full of wild Elephants, Tigres and Bears.
Now we set our design for Anarodgburro, which is the lowest place inhabited belonging to the King of Cande: where there is a Watch alwayes kept: and nearer than twelve or fourteen miles of this Town as yet we never had been.
When we came into the midst of this Countrey, we heard that the Governor thereof had sent Officers from the Court to dispatch away the Kings Revenues and Duties to the City, and that they were now come into the Country. Which put us into no small fear, lest if they saw us they should send us back again. Wherefore we edged away into the Westernmost Parts of Ecpoulpot, being a remote part of that Countrey wherein we now were. And there we sate to knitting until we heard they were gone. But this caused us to overshoot our time, the Moon spending so fast. But as soon as we heard they were departed out of the Countrey, we went onwards of our Journey, having kept most of our Ware for a pretence to have an occasion to go further. And having bought a good parcel of Cotton Tarn to knit Caps withal, the rest of our Ware we gave out, was to buy dryed flesh with, which only in those lower Parts is to be sold.
Our way now lay necessarily thro the chief Governors Yard at Colliwilla. Who dwells there purposely to see and examine all that go and come. This greatly distressed us. First, because he was a stranger to us, and one whom we had never seen. And secondly, because there was no other way to escape him: and plain reason would tell him, that we being prisoners were without our bounds. Whereupon we concluded, that our best way would be to go boldly and resolutely to his house, and not to seem daunted in the least, or to look as if we did distrust him to disallow of our Journey, but to shew such a behaviour, as if we had authority to travail where we would.
So we went forward, and were forced to enquire and ask the way to his house, having never been so far this way before. I brought from home with me Knives with fine carved handles, and a red Tunis Cap purposely to sell or give him, if occasion required, knowing before, that we must pass by him. And all along as we went, that we might be the less suspected, we sold Caps and other Ware, to be paid for at our return homewards. There were many cross Paths to and fro to his house, yet by Gods Providence we happened in the right Road. And having reached his house, according to the Countrey manner we went and sate down in the open house; which kind of Houses are built on purpose for the reception of Strangers. Whither not long after the Great Man himself came and sate down by us. To whom we presented a small parcel of Tobacco, and some Betel. And before he asked us the cause of our coming, we shewed him the Ware we brought for him, and the Cotton Yarn which we had trucked about the Country; telling him withall how the case stood with us: viz. That we had a Charge greater than the Kings allowance would maintain; and that because dryed Flesh was the chief Commodity of that Part, we told him, That missing of the Lading which we used to carry back, we were glad to come thither to see, if we could make it up with dryed Flesh. And therefore if he would please to supply us either for such Ware as we had brought, or else for our Money, it would he a great favour, the which would oblige us for the future to bring him any necessaries that he should name unto us, when we should come again unto those Parts, as we used to do very often: and that we could furnish him, having dealings and being acquainted with the best Artificers inCande.
At which he replyed, That he was sorry we were come at such a dry time, wherein they could not catch Deer, but if some Rain fell, he would soon dispatch us with our Ladings of Flesh. But however, he bade us go about the Towns, and see whether there might be any or no, tho he thought there was none. This answer of his pleased us wondrous well, both because by this we saw he suspected us not, and because he told us there was no dryed Flesh to be got. For it was one of our greatest fears that we should get our Lading too soon: for then, we could not have had an excuse to go further. And as yet we could not possibly fly: having still six miles further to the Northward to go before we could attempt it, that is, to Anarodgburro.
From Anarodgburro it is two dayes Journey further thro a desolate Wilderness before there is any more Inhabitants. And these Inhabitants are neither under this King nor the Dutch, but are Malabars, and are under a Prince of their own. This People we were sorely afraid of, lest they might seize us and send us back, there being a correspondence between this Prince and the King of Cande; wherefore it was our endeavour by all means to shun them; lest according to the old Proverb, We might leap out of the Frying pan into the Fire.
But we must take care of that as well as we could when we came among them, for as yet our care was to get to Anarodgburro. Where altho it was our desire to get, yet we would not seem to be too hasty, lest it might occasion suspition: but lay where we were two or three dayes: and one stay’d at the Governors House a knitting, whilst the other went about among the Towns to see for Flesh. The Ponds in the Country being now dry, there was Fish every where in abundance, which they dry like red Herrings over a fire. They offered to sell us store of them, but they, we told them, would not turn to so good profit as Flesh. The which, we said, we would have, tho we stayed ten dayes longer for it. For here we could live as cheap, and earn as much as if we were at home, by our knitting. So we seemed to them as if we were not in any hast.
In the mean time happened an Accident which put us to a great fright. For the King having newly clapped up several Persons of Quality, whereof my old Neighbour Ova Matteral, that sent for me to Court, was one, sent down Souldiers to this High Sheriff or Governor, at whose house we now were, to give him order to set a secure Guard at the Watches, that no suspitious persons might pass. This he did to prevent the Relations of these imprisoned persons from making an Escape, who thro fear of the King might attempt it. This always is the Kings custome to do. But it put us into an exceeding fear, lest it might beget an admiration in these Soldiers to see White men so low down: which indeed is not customary nor allowed of: and so they might send us up again. Which doubtless they would have done, had it not been of God by this means and after this manner to deliver us. Especially considering that the King’s Command came just at that time and so expresly to keep a secure Guard at the Watches, and that in that very Way that alwayes we purposed to go in: so that it seemed scarcely possible for us to pass afterwards, tho we should get off fairly at present with the Soldiers.
Which we did. For they having delivered their Message, departed, shewing themselves very kind and civil unto us. And we seemed to lament for our hard fortune, that we were not ready to go upwards with them in their good company: for we were Neighbours dwelling in one and the same County. However we bid them carry our commendations to our Countrymen the English, with whom they were acquainted at the City, and so bad them farewel. And glad we were when they were gone from us. And the next day in the morning we resolved, God willing, to set forward. But we thought not fit to tell our Host, the Governor, of it, till the very instant of our departing, that he might not have any time to deliberate concerning us.
That Night he being disposed to be merry, sent for people whose trade it is to dance and shew tricks, to come to his house to entertain him with their Sports. The beholding them spent most part of the Night. Which we merrily called our Old Host’s Civility to us at our last parting: as it proved indeed, tho he, honest man, then little dreamed of any such thing.
The morning being come, we first took care to fill our Bellies; then we packed up those things which were necessary for our Journey to carry with us, and the rest of our Goods, Cotton Yarn, and Cloth and other things; that we would not incumber our selves withall, we bound up in a Bundle, intending to leave them behind us. This being done, I went to the Governor, and carried him four or five charges of Gunpowder, a thing somewhat scarce with them, intreating him rather than we should be disappointed of Flesh, to make use of that and shoot some Deer; which he was very willing to accept of, and to us it could be no wayes profitable, not having a Gun. While we, we told him, would make a step to Anarodgburro to see what Flesh we could procure there. In the mean time, according as we had before layd the business, came Stephen with the Bundle of Goods, desiring to leave them in his house, till we came back. Which he was very ready to grant us leave to do. And seeing us leave such a parcel of Goods, tho, God knowes, but of little account in themselves, yet of considerable value in that Land, he could not suppose otherwise but that we were intended to return again. Thus we took our leaves, and immediately departed, not giving him time to consider with himself, or consult with others about us. And he like a good natured man bid us heartily farewel.
Altho we knew not the way to this Town, having never been there in all our lives, and durst not ask, lest it might breed suspition; yet we went on confidently thro a desolate Wood: and happened to go very right, and came out directly at the place.
But in our way before we arrived hither, we came up with a small River, which ran thro the Woods, called by the Chingulayes Malwat oyah: the which we viewed well, and judged it might be a probable guide to carry us down to the Sea, if a better did not present. Howbeit we thought good to try first the way we were taking, and to go onward towards Anarodgburro, that being the shortest and easiest way to get to the Coast: and this River being as under our Lee, ready to serve and assist us, if other means failed.
To Anarodgburro therefore we came, called also Neur Waug. Which is not so much a particular single Town, as a Territory. It is a vast great Plain, the like I never saw in all that Island: in the midst whereof is a Lake, which may be a mile over, not natural, but made by art, as other Ponds in the Country, to serve them to water their Corn Grounds. This Plain is encompassed round with Woods, and small Towns among them on every side, inhabited by Malabars, a distinct People from the Chingulayes. But these Towns we could not see till we came in among them. Being come out thro the Woods into this Plain, we stood looking and staring round about us, but knew not where nor which way to go. At length we heard a Cock crow, which was a sure sign to us that there was a Town hard by; into which we were resolved to enter. For standing thus amazed, was the ready way to be taken up for suspitious persons; especially because White men never come down so low.
Being entred into this Town, we sate our selves under a Tree, and proclaimed our Wares, for we feared to rush into their Yards, as we used to do in other places, lest we should scare them. The People stood amazed as soon as they saw us, being originally Malabars, tho Subjects of Cande. Nor could they understand the Chingulay Language in which we spake to them. And we stood looking one upon another until there came one that could speak the Chingulay Tongue: Who asked us, from whence we came? We told him, From Cande Uda. But they believed us not, supposing that we came up from the Dutch from Manaar. So they brought us before their Governor.He not speaking Chingulais, spake to us by an Interpreter. And to know the truth, whether we came from the place we pretended, he inquired about News at Court; demanded, Who were Governors of such and such Countreys? and what was become of some certain Noble-men, whom the King had lately cut off? and also What the common people were employed about at Court, for it is seldom that they are idle. To all which we gave satisfactory answers. Then he enquired of us, Who gave us leave to come down so low? We told him That priviledg was given to us by the King himself full Fifteen Years since at his Palace at Nellemby, when he caused it to be declared unto us, that we were no longer prisoners, and (which indeed was our own addition) that we were free to enjoy the benefit of Trade in all his Dominions.
To prove and confirm the truth of which, we alledged the distance of the Way that we were now come from home, being near an hundred miles, passing thro several Counties, where we met with several Governors and Officers in their respective Jurisdictions; who had they not been well sensible of these Priviledges granted us, would not have allowed us to pass thro their Countries. All which Officers we described to him by name; and also that now we came from the High Sheriff’s House at Colliwilla, where we had been these three dayes, and there heard of the Order that was come to secure the Watches; which was not for fear of the running away of White men, but of the Chingulayes. These Reasons gave him full satisfaction, that we were innocent Traders, seeing also the Commodities that we had brought with us: this further confirmed his opinion concerning us.
The People were very glad of our coming, and gave us an end of an open house to ly in: but at present they had no dryed Flesh, but desired us to stay two or three days and we should not fail: which we were very ready to consent to, hoping by that time to come to the knowledg of the way, and to learn where about the watch was placed. To Prevent the least surmise that we were Plotting to run away, we agreed, that Stephen should stay in the house by the things, while I with some few went abroad; pretending to enquire for dryed Flesh to carry back with us to Cande, but intending to make discoveries of the way, and provide necessaries for our Flight, as Rice, a Brass Pot to boil our Rice in, a little dryed Flesh to eat and a Deers-skin to make us Shooes of. And by the Providence of my gracious God, all these things I happened upon and bought. But as our good hap was, Deers-Flesh we could meet with none. So that we had time enough to fit our selves; all People thinking that we stayed only to buy Flesh.
Here we stayed three days; during which we had found the great Road that runs down towards Jafnapatan, one of the Northern Ports belonging to the Dutch, which Road we judged led also towards Manaar a DutchNorthern Port also, which was the Place that we endeavoured to get to, lying above two or three days Journey distant from us. But in this Road there was a Watch lay, which must be passed. Where this Watch was placed, it was necessary for us punctually to know, and to endeavour to get a sight of it. And if we could do this, our intent was to go unseen by Night, the people being then afraid to travayl, and being come up to the Watch, to slip aside into the Woods and so go on untill we were past it; and then strike into the Road again. But this Project came to nothing, because I could not without suspition and danger go and view this Watch; which layd some four or five miles below this Plain; and so far I could not frame any business to go. Page 161
But several inconveniences we saw here, insomuch that we found it would not be safe for us to go down in this Road. For if we should have slipt away from them by Night, in the Morning we should be missed, and then most surely they would go that way to chace us, and ten to one overtake us, being but one Night before them. Also we knew not whether or no, it might lead us into the Countrey of the Malabar Prince, of whom we were much afraid.
Then resolving to let the great Road alone, we thought of going right down thro the Woods, and steer our course by the Sun and Moon: but the Ground being so dry we feared we should not meet with Water. So we declined that Counsel also. Thus being in doubt, we prayed God to direct us, and to put it into our hearts which way to take. Then after a Consultation between our selves, all things considered, we concluded it the best course to go back to Malwat oyah, the River we had well viewed that lay in our way as we came hither. And back thither we resolved to repair.