Tamatavé in July, 1837, and though he found the door shut against farther missionary effort, he was pleased to find that the native Christians still continued in the faith and purity of the Gospel, shining as lights in the midst of a perverse and benighted generation. Though repeatedly annoyed by the government, they were accustomed to read the Scriptures at the hour of midnight in their own houses, or other places of concealment, and to meet in small companies for singing and prayer. They were closely watched by the government, though no infringement of the edict of the Queen was discovered until about the first Sabbath of August, 1887, when a number of them were discovered on a mountain, not far from the capital, engaged in religious exercises. Among these was a woman by the name of Rafararavy, on whose premises some Bibles and other Christian publications were discovered. She was apprehended and imprisoned, her home given up to plunder, and her hands and feet manacled with irons. She was menaced in vain during a period of from eight to ten days, to induce her to impeach her companions. She remained firm and perfectly composed, and was put to death by spearing on the 14th of August, 1837, thus suffering a martyrdom as pure, simple, and unmixed with alloy as any that have characterized the earliest ages of the church.
Thus gloomily falls the curtain over the first act of protestant missionary labors in the Island of Madagascar. Nor was it to rise again until after the lapse of a dreary period of some eighteen years more, during which time the people were subject to a reign of idolatry, wretchedness, and blood.
Executions, poisonings, reduction to slavery, plunderings, and other punishments, bad as they were, did not complete the catalogue of the people's woes. In devising plans of cruelty and malignity, Queen Ranavalona seemed highly gifted. For instance, in the year 1845 it is known that she made a progress to the province of Mancrincrina, ostensibly, to enjoy the sport of buffalo-hunting, and that she was accompanied by more than 50,000 persons. All the officers and nobles, far and near, in and around Tananarivo, were invited to attend, and that the procession might appear as magnificent as possible, every one had to bring with him all his servants and slaves. Ten thousand soldiers accompanied
- Ranavalonamanjaka means Queen Ranavalona, manjaka signifying, like the Hebrew Melek, King, or Chief, and with the feminine termination, Queen.