Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/11

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MADAGASCAR.

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don in 1701. He was destined to learn that, according to his own account, wilful persons never want woe; for on his return from Bengal, the ship, the De Grave, was shipwrecked on the coast of Madagascar. A large part of the crew escaped, and reached the shore near the southernmost point of the island; but they afterwards became scattered, and little is known of their subsequent history. Drury became a domestic slave, and as such passed from the hands of one proprietor to another, experiencing every variety of treatment, which reminded him with bitter regrets of his reckless desertion of his own pleasant home. The first impressions made upon his mind after reaching the shore are given in the following extracts:

"The country began now to be alarmed, and we had already two or three hundred negroes flocking round us, picking up several pieces of silk and fine calicoes; the 'muslin they had little regard for. Our goods were driven ashore in whole bales; for, what with saltpeter and other things, we reckoned there might be three hundred tons left, after all that was thrown overboard at sundry times before.

"One of the negroes brought an ox to us, and intimated by sundry signs that we should kill him; but we made signs to them again to shoot him for us, we having no ammunition; when one of them perceived this, he lent us his gun, ready charged, and with it one of our men shot the bullock on the spot.

"It was extremely shocking to see the negroes cut the beast, skin and flesh together, and sometimes the entrails also, then toss them into the fire or ashes, as it happened, and eat them half roasted. I shuddered for fear they should devour us in like manner; for they seemed to me to be a kind of Cannibals, of whom I had heard very dreadful stories. Everything, in short, appeared horrible to nature, and excited in us the most dismal apprehensions."

The melancholy fate of that portion of the ship's crew with which Drury was associated more than confirmed his worst fears. The chief who ruled over that part of the island where they were wrecked, having most probably some supposed or real injury to revenge upon the white people, had them all bound and brought before him, when they were all butchered in the most barbarous manner; Drury alone being permitted to live, for the purpose of attending upon the grand-son of the chief in the capacity of a slave.

It was a custom in certain parts of the island that the