Being in the Malabar Territories,
how they encountred two Men,
and what passed between them.
And of their getting safe unto the Dutch Fort.
And their Reception there, and at the
Island Manaar, until their Embarking for Columbo.
Thus we went on till about three of the Clock afternoon. At which time coming about a Point, we came up with two Bramins on a sudden, who were sitting under a Tree boyling Rice. We were within forty paces of them; when they saw us they were amazed at us, and as much afraid of us as we were of them. Now we thought it better Policy to treat with them than to flee from them; fearing they might have Bows and Arrows, whereas we were armed only with Axes in our hands, and Knives by our sides; or else that they might raise the Countrey and pursue us. So we made a stand, and in the Chingulay Language asked their leave to come near to treat with them, but they did not understand it. But being risen up spake to us in the Malabar Tongue, which we could not understand. Then still standing at a distance we intimated our minds to them by signs, beckoning with our hand: which they answered in the same Language. Then offering to go towards them, and seeing them to be naked men and no Arms near them, we laid our Axes upon the ground with our Bags, lest we might scare them, if we had come up to them with those weapons in our hands, and so went towards them with only our Knives by our sides: by signs with our hands shewing them our bloody Backs we made them understand whence we came, and whither we were going. Which when they perceived they seemed to commiserate our condition, and greatly to admire at such a Miracle which God had brought to pass: and as they talked one to another they lifted up their hands and faces towards Heaven, often repeating Tombrane which is God in the Malabar Tongue.
And by their signs we understood they would have us bring our Bags and Axes nearer; which we had no sooner done, but they brought the Rice and Herbs which they had boiled for themselves to us, and bad us eat; which we were not fitted to do, having not long before eaten a hearty Dinner of better fare; yet could not but thankfully accept of their compassion and kindness, and eat as much as we could; and in requital of their courtesie, we gave them some of our Tobacco. Which after much entreating they did receive, and it pleased them exceedingly.
After these civilities passed on either side, we began by signs to desire them to go with us and shew us the way to the Dutch Fort: which they were very unwilling to do, saying, as by signs and some few words which we could understand, that our greatest danger was past, and that by Night we might get into the Hollanders Dominions. Yet we being weary with our tedious journey, and desirous to have a guide, shewed them Money to the value of five Shillings, being all I had; and offered it them to go with us. Which together with our great importunity so prevailed, that one of them took it; and leaving his fellow to carry their Baggage he went with us about one Mile, and then began to take his leave of us and to return. Which we supposed was to get more from us. Having therefore no more Money, we gave him a red Tunis Cap and a Knife, for which he went a Mile farther, and then as before would leave us, signifying to us, that we were cut of danger, and he could go no further.
Now we had no more left to give him, but began to perceive, that what we had parted withall to him, was but flung away; and altho we might have taken all from him again being alone in the Wood, yet we feared to do it, left thereby we might exasperate him, and so he might give notice of us to the People, but bad him farewel, after he had conducted us about four or five Miles. And we kept on our journey down the River as before, until it was Night, and lodged upon a Bank under a Tree: but were in the way of the Elephants; for in the Night they came and had like to have disturbed us, so that for our preservation we were forced to fling Fire brands at them to scare them away.
The next Morning being Saturday as soon as it was light, having eaten to strengthen us, as Horses do Oats before they Travail, we set forth going still down the River; the Sand was dry and loose, and so very tedious to go upon: by the side we could not go, being all overgrown with Bushes. The Land hereabouts was as smooth as a bowling-green, but the Grass clean burt up for want of Rain.
Having Travailed about two hours, we saw a Man walking in the River before, whom we would gladly have shunned, but well could not, for he walked down the River as we did, but at a very slow rate, which much hindred us. But we considering upon the distance we had come, since we left the Bramin, and comparing with what he told us, we concluded we were in the Hollanders jurisdiction: and so amended our pace to overtake the Man before us. Whom we perceiving to he free from timerousness at the sight of us, concluded he had used to see White-men. Whereupon we asked him, to whom he belonged. He speaking the Chingulay Language answered, To the Dutch; and also that all the Country was under their Command, and that we were out of all danger, and that the Fort of Arrepa was but some six miles off. Which did not a little rejoyce us, we told him, we were of that Nation, and had made our escape from Cande, where we had been many years kept in Captivity; and having nothing to give him our selves, we told him, that it was not to be doubted, but the Chief Commander at the Fort would bountifully reward him, if he would go with us and direct us thither. But whether he doubted of that, or no, or whether he expected something in hand, he excused himself pretending earnest and urgent occasions that he could not defer: but advised us to leave the River, because it winds so much about, and turn up without fear to the Towns, where the People would direct us the way to the Fort
Upon his advice we struck up a Path that came down to the River, intending to go to a Town, but could find none; and there were so many cross Paths that we could not tell which way to go: and the Land here so exceedingly low and level, that we could see no other thing but Trees. For altho I got up a Tree to look if I could see the Dutch Fort, or discern any Houses, yet I could not; and the Sun being right over our heads neither could that direct us: insomuch that we wished our selves again in our old friend, the River. So after so much wandring up and down we sat down under a Tree waiting until the Sun was fallen, or some People came by. Which not long after three or four Malabars did. One of which could speak a little Portugueze. We told these Men, we were Hollanders, supposing they would be the more willing to go with us, but they proved of the same temper with the rest before mentioned. For until I gave one of them a small Knife to cut Betel-nuts, he would not go with us: but for the lucre of that he conducted us to a Town. From whence they sent a Man with us to the next, and so we were passed from Town to Town, until we arrived at the Fort called Arrepa: it being about four of the Clock on Saturday afternoon. October the eighteenth MDCLXXIX. Which day God grant us grace that we may never forget, when he was pleased to give us so great a deliverance from such a long Captivity, of nineteen years, and six Months, and odd days, being taken Prisoner when I was nineteen years old, and continued upon the Mountains among the Heathen till I attained to Eight and Thirty.
In this my Flight thro the Woods, I cannot but take notice with some wonder and great thankfulness, that this Travelling by Night in a desolate Wilderness was little or nothing dreadful to me, whereas formerly the very thoughts of it would seem to dread me, and in the Night when I laid down to rest with wild Beasts round me, I slept as soundly and securely, as ever I did at home in my own House. Which courage and peace I look upon to be the immediate gift of God to me upon my earnest Prayers, which at that time he poured into my heart in great measure and fervency. After which I found my self freed from those frights and fears, which usually possessed my heart at other times.
In short, I look upon the whole Business as a miraculous Providence, and that the hand of God did eminently appear to me, as it did of old to his People Israel in the like circumstances, in leading and conducting me thro this dreadful Wilderness, and not to suffer any evil to approach nigh unto me.
The Hollanders much wondered at our Arrival, it being so strange that any should escape from Cande; and entertained us very kindly that Night: and the next Morning being Sunday, sent a Corporal with us to Manaar, and a Black Man to carry our few things.
At Manaar we were brought before the Captain of the Castle, the Cheif Governor being absent. Who when we came in was just risen from Dinner; he received us with a great deal of kindness and bad us set down to eat. It seemed not a little strange to us, who had dwelt so long in Straw Cottages among the Black Heathen, and used to sit on the Ground and eat our Meat on Leaves, now to sit on Chairs and eat out of China Dishes at a Table. Where were great Varieties, and a fair and sumptuous House inhabited by White and Christian People; we being then in such Habit and Guize, our Natural colour excepted, that we seemed not fit to eat with his Servants, no nor his Slaves.
After Dinner the Captain inquired concerning the Affairs of the King and Countrey, and the condition of their Ambassadors and People there. To all which we gave them true and satisfactory Answers. Then he told us, That to Morrow there was a Sloop to sail to Jafnapatan, in which he would send us to the Commander or Governor, from whence we might have passage to Fort St. George, or any other place on that Coast, according to our desire. After this, he gave us some Money, bidding us go to the Castle, to drink and be merry with our Country-men there. For all which kindness giving him many thanks in the Portuguese Language, we took our leaves of him.
When we came to the Court of Guard at the Castle, we asked the Soldiers if there were no English men among them. Immediatly there came forth two men to us, the one a Scotchman named Andrew Brown; the other an Irishman whose name was Francis Hodges. Who after very kind salutes carried us unto their Lodgings in the Castle, and entertained us very nobly, according to their Ability, with Rack and Tobacco.
The News of our Arrival being spread in the Town, the People came flocking to see us, a strange and wonderful sight! and to enquire about their Husbands, Sons, and Relations, which were Prisoners in Cande. In the Evening a Gentleman of the Town sent to invite us to his House, were we were gallantly entertained both with Victuals and Lodging.
The next day being Munday, ready to Embark for Jafnapatan, came Order from the Captain and Council, that we must stay until the Commander of Jafnapatan who was daily expected, came thither. Which we could not deny to do: and order was given to the Victualers of the Soldiers, to provide for us. The Scotch and Irish man were very glad of this Order, that they might have our company longer; and would not suffer us to spend the Captains benevolence in their company, but spent freely upon us at their own charges. Thanks be to God we both continued in health all the time of our Escape: but within three days after we came to Manaar, my Companion fell very Sick, that I thought I should have lost him.
Thus we remained some ten days; at which time the expected Commander arrived, and was received with great ceremonies of State. The next day we went before him to receive his orders concerning us. Which were, to be ready to go with him on the morrow to Columbo, there being a Ship that had long waited in that Road to carry him, In which we embarked with him for Columbo. At our coming on board to go to Sea, we could not expect but to be Sea-sick, being now as Fresh men, having so long disused the Sea, but it proved otherwise, and we were not in the least stirred.