Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/13

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MADAGASCAR.

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ran directly back. He pursued me until I got into very shallow water, and then he turned back into the deep, for they will never attack a man near the shore. It nettled me to be stopped by a river that was scarcely a hundred yards over. At length I recollected that in the neighborhood of Bengal, where there are the largest alligators in the world, fires are often made at the head and stern of the boat, so that they pass the rivers in safety. Distress puts a man's invention upon the rack; something like this, thought I, must be done; for it was to no purpose to stay there, neither could I go back. So making choice of a stick for a fire-brand, I cut it into long splinters, and waited till it grew dark; then, after I had bound my two firesticks to the top of one of my lances, I went into the water, and, recommending myself to the care of Providence, turned upon my back and swam over, with my two lances and hatchet in one hand, and my fire-brand burning in the other, my lamba being twisted and tied fast about my loins."

At last the welcome sight of St. Augustine's Bay, with its road, where ships were wont to touch, presented itself to the weary and solitary traveler as he stood on the summit of a hill of considerable elevation. It does not appear, however, that any means of escape from the country were available at that time; for he was obliged to place himself under the protection of a chieftain who had formerly shown him kindness, and who required his service in the wars in which he was then engaged.

It is worthy of remark, that although the pirates are considered to be the originators of the slave-trade in Madagascar, yet more than one account occurs in Drury's narrative where the barter of men for foreign goods is spoken of as the customary trade of the country, even at that time. Drury was informed by a person who had lived considerable time in the country, that to a place called Masseelege (probably the Methelege of the pirates) to the northward, there came, once a year, a Moorish ship, that brought silk lambas and many other things to trade for slaves. And again, towards the conclusion of the term of his captivity, he speaks of two ships staying at Youngoule, where slaves were sent to be sold in exchange for firearms and other goods. It seems probable, however, that these were but occasional visits, made chiefly by marauding vessels, and that it was not until after the vessels of the pirates had been destroyed, that this commerce in human beings became