Project Canterbury

The Captive Missionary
Being an Account of the Country and People of Abyssinia.

By the Rev. Henry A. Stern.

London: Cassell, Petter and Galpin, 1868.

Chapter IV

Summons from the King--Painful Journey--Compassion of the Guards--Sagacious Servant--Note from the Aboon--Kind Assurances--Interview with the King--Camp Prison--Numerous Guards--Keen Sufferings--Stupor--Prison Diet--Appointment of my Judges--Arrival of the Missionary Agents--Postponement of Verdict--My Baggage ransacked--Vague Hopes--Suspended Negotiation--Generous Exertions of the Metropolitan--Redeeming Love an unfailing Comfort--Joseph's Forebodings--Fidelity of Servants--Thrilling News--Bright Anticipation--Misplaced Confidence--Vain Conjectures--Seizure of my Property--Photographic Lore--Brutality of my Gaolers--Crippling Fetters--An ever-present Saviour--Frugal Diet.

At sunrise there was a clatter of hoofs, and then there appeared a number of horsemen at my prison-hut. They came from the camp of his Majesty with a message that I should accompany them. This behest descended like a blasting storm on my devoted head. I was, however, resigned to my unhappy fate. The servants did not share my feelings; on the contrary, they saw an uncomfortable indication of coming evil; and afraid to betray their latent surmises, they rushed out of the hut, and sought a lonely spot where to weep. I wanted a change of garments, as those around my shivering frame were saturated with blood, but this the guards [63/64] would not sanction. "Your property belongs to the king, and is no more your own; and nothing must be touched." To this unreasonable order I bowed in silent submission. All being ready, I was lifted on to the vacant saddle, and the sad cavalcade turned its back on a scene that will, so long as life lasts, form the darkest episode in my chequered career. It was a most painful trip, that short ride to Gondar. Every step, every move, every twist and shake of the mule caused a convulsive shiver to my bruised and bleeding frame. The guards, inured as they were to such exhibitions--perhaps because I was a stranger and friendless in a foreign land--manifested more sympathy towards me than I had reason to anticipate. "Fear not," they whispered in my ears; "the king will have mercy on you. It is your intimacy with the Aboon that brought you into trouble; but he is powerful, and will satisfactorily arrange the unfortunate misunderstanding." Upon inquiring whether I did wrong in calling on Janehoi late at noon, they smiled at the very suggestion. "Wrong!" Hassan Ali, in perfect amazement, rejoined; "why, if you had not called, we had orders to arrest you, and who knows whether the stick alone would have been the penalty you would have incurred!" [I mention this, because so many misrepresentations on the subject have appeared in public print.] Balambras Tesamma, subsequently one [64/65] of my friends--a man well known to Mr. Rassam and his companions--quite unsolicited, assured me that my visit would have averted from me all harsh treatment had his Majesty not been in a bad humour about the failure of his expedition against the rebel Taousie Gobazie. Even the wife of one of my escort, an Abyssinian lady of rank, displayed an interest in the unfortunate white man that did credit to her untutored female heart. Repeatedly she gave me birs (a mixture of honey and water something like sherbet), and whenever any of the common soldiers rudely approached me, her soft voice kindly interposed to spare the wounded man the gratuitous insult. Late at noon we neared Gondar, where my conductors ordered a brief halt whilst they tied a strong belt around my waist and arm--a precaution which they considerately omitted on the road, but did not dare to neglect on entering the camp. Silently and in measured steps we marched on, when one of the party noticed that a servant had absconded. Quick as lightning two of the chiefs galloped away towards Kudus Gabriel, where, as by instinct, they guessed I had dispatched him on an errand to the Aboon. They were not deceived in their conjecture, for the fugitive, as they told me themselves, was in earnest converse with the primate as they deferentially, and with many gesticulations, crossed his threshold. Not wishing [65/66] to offend the puissant church dignitary, they made no inquiry, but merely requested the honest fellow to accompany them. Quite delighted with his feat, the poor man approached my mule, which, like myself, was held by a soldier, and with a knowing twinkle in his eye, pressed into my hand a small paper. Shading my head with the shama, I glanced at the paper, and found that it contained two notes, one from Consul Cameron, and the other from the Aboon. Both expressed their deepest sympathy with my sufferings, and the Aboon added the solemn and emphatic assurance that no effort should be spared to effect my liberation. In passing through the wide-spreading camp, my wretched appearance elicited many ambiguous comments. To all such remarks, whether kind or unkind, rude or gentle, I had in a few days become wonderfully impervious, so that they produced no more impression on me than the breeze which played among the trees, or the declining sun that tinted the evening clouds. On, on we proceeded, till our steps were almost arrested by the royal fence. Here I was lifted out of my saddle, and placed in the centre of a circle of vigilant guards. The precaution was certainly a display of over-zeal, as I could not move a step unaided; but a cringing subserviency rendered such an exhibition indispensable. After sunset it was announced that the Negoos had [66/67] returned to his tent. All immediately girded them- selves, that is, they folded their capacious overgarment around the waist, and in this court attitude awaited the summons. With my aching head resting on a stone, I became oblivious of the terrific past, the gloomy present, and the portentous future. "Tenisu" (get up), and almost simultaneously with that imperative shout, I was raised up and hurried before the dreaded tyrant.

"Why did you come before me on the road?" demanded his Majesty in a stern tone. "I came," was the rejoinder, "to offer my salutations and respects to your Majesty." "Who gave you permission," continued my interrogator, evidently at a loss to palliate his cruelty, "to take my people to your country?" "Your Majesty is misinformed," I replied, "for I never intended to take a single Abyssinian to Europe. This my servants, who are all standing here (they had all been arrested), can testify." "Why did you insult me when I punished two of my subjects who did not conduct themselves with becoming propriety in my presence?" "Your Majesty," I solemnly replied, "there is a God above, and He knows that courtesy prompted me to approach your Majesty's tent." After a pause, during which he evidently tried to work himself into a rage, he abruptly and angrily said: "You white men hate me, and I hate you. I allow you [67/68] to come and stay in my country merely because I want to get some of your belhad (arts). England and France boast of power and riches; I defy them both." Then turning to the servants, he inquired why they accompanied me. The response, as might have been expected, was, "Because he pays us." "And where are you going?" Several at once replied, "To our home at Adowa." "And cannot I pay you more, vile peasants' sons, than that white slave?" grunted forth the artificially excited monarch. "Guards, seize them!" Instantly they were seized, stripped and buffeted; then turning in the direction where the chiefs of my escort stood, he said: "Watch him well, and do not allow any one without my sanction to approach him." I was immediately in the grasp of half-a-dozen officers, who led me to the tent which had been erected for my camp prison. The small canvas shelter was already crowded by a whole host of volunteers who, under the pretext of wishing to see their friends, had really come to have a good view of the unfortunate Cocab. Sick, feverish, and exhausted, I was not allowed to stretch my weary limbs in peace and quiet on the hard uneven ground. I was a prisoner, but without fetters, and until these were riveted around my swollen ankles and wrists the gaolers could not partake of the repast provided by the royal purveyor. Manacles, with which each [68/69] chief must be provided, whether on a march or in the camp, at home or abroad, were quickly enough brought into the prison. There was, as ever, some altercation about the weight of one and the length of the other. These preliminaries were, however, amicably arranged, and the passive victim of wanton cruelty had patiently to yield his aching limbs to the merciless infliction of a malefactor's manacles. Bread, broundo, and tedj were now in due proportion served to the faithful lieges of the great king. The smell of the reeking collops and fetid assembly did not improve my position. My eyes were swollen, my nerves unstrung, and my head was throbbing as if every pulsation would be the last, and yet the agony did not cease, nor my wretched existence terminate for ever. I moved from side to side; now my shama covered my quivering frame, then again I had madly thrust it over the soldier to whom I was tied; one moment I bit it in agony with my chattering teeth, the next I almost unconsciously applied it to a bleeding sore. I do not know how long this struggle between pain and restlessness, wakefulness and somnolency continued. A stupor akin to insensibility overwhelmed me, from which I could not rouse myself till daybreak next morning.

Soon after sunrise the number of my guards was diminished by the dismissal of Ali Woobeshat's [69/70] myrmidons, and I had the melancholy satisfaction of a foot or two more space. Trifling as this may appear, it was an advantage and boon I highly appreciated. I could now, at least, by stretching out my fettered right hand, turn from side to side without coming in unpleasant contact with my new unwashed, uncombed, and unclean companion, to whom I was tied by a heavy massive chain. Food I neither got nor wanted. I had flour and smoked meat in abundance, but a biscuit dipped in water was all I could or cared to swallow. There was a report that the king had ordered liberal rations for his prisoner. Whether the rumour was well founded or not was, and will remain, a matter of insignificance to me. From well-ascertained facts I know that some persons, for the sake of the dollars they got, tried most strenuously to palliate the king's conduct towards me. "He had a kind heart, deep religious impressions, and was sadly misunderstood!" This, however, was to be expected. Base flatterers abound in Europe as in Africa, and the most revolting deeds, if perpetrated in high circles, find hosts of unprincipled apologists.

I was conducted to Gondar on Thursday. On the following Saturday, I believe at the request of Consul Cameron, Mr. Mad came to Gondar. He and M. Bardel immediately sought an [70/71] interview with the king. His Majesty was in church. On coming out it was evident that his devotions had not improved his temper. He was angry and out of humour. On seeing the two white men, he halted, and in conformity with his habit when in a passion, he launched forth in a tone of keen severity against all Franks. Having exhausted his own peculiar vituperative vocabulary, he sharply adverted to me, and the sins I had committed, and then concluded with the challenge, "You, the Genda and Darna Frendjoj, shall judge who is the transgressor, I or Cocab."

A messenger was promptly dispatched to the two- missionary stations, and on Monday the missionary agents, four in number, exclusive of Mr. Mad, who was at Gondar, reached the capital. In conformity with the summons, they expected an immediate audience; but after waiting for some time near the royal fence, they were informed through Samuel that his Majesty was engaged and could not see them that day. On Tuesday the anticipated interview, under various pretexts, was again postponed. He was evidently embarrassed. This the guards themselves noticed, for they repeatedly told me, and that without any reserve, that the king was conscious he had done me wrong, and that probably he would condone the injury by ft large sum of money, and dispatch me to my [71/72] country. I cherished similar hopes, and in my illusion I not unfrequently worried my mind with all sorts of conjectures about the application of the money the tyrant might give me, of which, as it was extorted from his subjects by the torturing rope and mutilating knife, I would not retain a farthing in my possession. I played with shadows, and was beguiled by idle fancies. It was about noon on that very day which I thought would bring me freedom and liberty, that Messrs. Flad and Bardel, Aboona Matti (a Copt), the king's Arabic clerk, Aliga Engeda, the royal scribe, and Aito Samuel, were dispatched to examine my luggage and to seize any letters that I might have in my possession from Consul Cameron or the Metropolitan, Aboona Salama. The three natives ransacked and threw everything into confusion, not with the object of finding dangerous documents, but merely to satisfy their own curiosity. My photographic sketches, and a well-assorted collection of insects, particularly attracted their attention, and in their admiration of some beetle or butterfly, a mountain scene or a village group, they entirely forgot their commission, and reduced the search to a perfect farce. Feverish, excited, and almost demented, my mind was perpetually dilating on the king and the guards; the tented prison and cruel fetters. Every coloured man who wore a sword [72/73] or carried a lance I dreaded as an enemy, and every white man I loved as a friend. I had still to learn, that a kind, sympathetic look does not always indicate a generous and true heart.

Wearily the days of misery passed away in the canvas tent of the isolated captive. I expected every morning a visit from Aito Samuel and the Genda Frendjoj, whose united efforts I vainly imagined would, perhaps, appease the pretended royal anger, and restore me again to liberty. Wednesday and Thursday came and went without bringing me either joy or grief, gladness or sorrow. I was in the power of a lawless tyrant, and had to submit to his capricious whims. On Friday, the long-expected Genda Frendjoj received an order to visit me. The instructions communicated to them were very brief: "Go and ask Aito Cocab why he insulted me." My friends faithfully delivered their message, and then took back the apology, in which I reiterated the assurance that I had always felt regard and esteem for his Majesty, and if, by an unconscious movement of my hand or any other outward expression, I had unwittingly offended him, I would, with a stone on my neck, crave his forgiveness. The delegates immediately took back my apology to the king; but, as he pretended to be busy, they were ordered to come again the next morning, and to bring with them at the same time a letter from Consul Cameron, [73/74] embodying the views and feelings entertained by the British Government towards Abyssinia and its monarch. The consul was immediately informed of the request of the king, with which, I believe, he promptly complied. The following morning the small band of intercessors repaired again to the royal camp, where they expected to meet, according to previous arrangement, a messenger with Consul Cameron's despatch. Aito Samuel, in his blandest tones, welcomed the deputies; and if gracious smiles and low bows conveyed any meaning, I was a free and happy man. The affable courtier hastened to present to his Majesty the salutations of his visitors, to whom, after a brief pause, he returned with a most condescending response. "Have you brought Consul Cameron's letter, as his Majesty requested?" now inquired the worthy mouthpiece of royalty. Almost spontaneously, every one turned round to see whether the expected messenger, with that important document, had arrived; but, alas! though they shouted, inquired, and searched, he could not be found. Angry, black, scowling, the excited courtier disappeared within the folds of the royal pavilion. Tremulously the little group awaited the issue of this exciting and shifting scene. Their patience was not long tried, for the folds of the tent were once more lifted, and Samuel, not radiant with benignity, but frowning like a fiend, stood before them, and, in [74/75] an assumed tone of offended dignity, blended with the coarse bombast of low vulgarity, ordered them, in the name of the king, to return to their homes. My expected liberation was thus postponed from day to day and week to week. There were many natives, and some Europeans, who were anxious to have the manacles knocked off my limbs; but they had no influence, or were too timid to put it to the test. Aboona Salama, the Metropolitan, alone, was most indefatigable in his exertions. He threatened and implored, gave rich presents, and made glowing promises; spared neither time, letters, or money; in fact, he did everything in his power, and beyond his power, to move the pity of the tyrant towards the victim of his ferocity. At one time he seemed inclined to relent, and the next I was again more closely watched. Perhaps, I thought, the malicious monarch finds a satisfaction in the agonising suspense of his captive; or he seeks some plea to gloss over the infamy of his base conduct; or, what appeared not improbable, he intends in the dying throes of the white man to demonstrate before obsequious serfs the greatness of his power. Such were the dismal phantoms with which my diseased imagination beguiled the present, and sought to foreshadow the future.

A fortnight thus elapsed, a fortnight that appeared a century, for who can compute the length of those weary hours that hang immovable on the dial-plate of [75/76] Time, offering neither hope to despair, rest to trouble, or comfort to misery. At such a period--I say it solemnly--the punctured head, the riven side, the pierced feet, and the heavy cross of redeeming love, is a sight that nerves and supports the drooping and desponding spirit. In my distress and sorrow, I threw myself on the bosom of a sympathising Saviour, and if I was not happy I was at least resigned.

The king, whether impelled by a whimsical fit of charity or a secret intelligence that the long-expected letter from the British Government had reached Massowah, relented in his severity. My sequestrated keys were given back, my confiscated luggage was restored, and I was treated with indifference, if not consideration. All, indeed, seemed to augur well for the captive exile. There were secret inquiries from his Majesty after his prisoner's health, the progress of his wounds, the food he ate, the water he drank, the words he uttered, the sentiments he cherished, nay, even the prospects he entertained. I tried to interpret this sudden transition from anger to pity, but the task exceeded my impaired faculties. Joseph, my nurse and companion in affliction, and who had imbibed an intense hatred to the king and his rabble hosts, tried to solve the enigma, but even to him the mystery was shrouded in impenetrable darkness. "I have got it, I have got it," he shouted, after a night's [76/77] profound reflection. "And what is it, Joseph?" curiosity made me inquire. "Ah, master, don't ask me. A. Habashee (Abyssinian) is what the Arabs call a hanash (serpent), and you will discover when I am buried"--he added, in a melancholy, funereal tone, as if he already felt the approach of the shades of death, which a month later were glazing and fixing his vision--"that you have fallen, like the man who went to Jericho, into the hands of a cruel, treacherous, heartless ruffian." "Suppose, Joseph, this is true--and I believe it is--cannot God save us, as He saved the ill-fated pilgrim?" "Yes, He can, if He had a Samaritan to send you." And then, after a pause, he added, "You have faith, I only malice, rancour, and gnawing animosity against our oppressor and his crew." "I see, Joseph, that you are sad, and, to dissipate the vapours of a restless night, I advise you to go up to Gondar, and get from Mackerer, or the consul, some tidings that will cheer us both." The permission of the head gaoler, who knew he would get a bottle of arackee, was immediately obtained, and gladly enough he hurried out of the detested camp. He might now have decamped, and, being of a dark complexion, the chances of his escape were almost beyond doubt. Such a thought, however, never entered his mind. Once, on the way from Woggera to Gondar, I suggested it to him and native followers; but, notwithstanding the [77/78] dreadful fate of their two companions, they all said, in their own metaphorical style, "We have been with you in sunshine, we will not desert you in the storm." This faithful attachment to an unfortunate master was, perhaps, as regarded poor Joseph, the natural result of his lonely position, in a foreign land, and among a strange people; but this was not the case with the rest. They were in their native land, and within easy reach of friends and kindred, so that their continuance in my employ could only be attributed to an affection, most creditable to their kind and tender hearts. In about two hours Joseph returned. His red face and flashing eye indicated something significant. I waited patiently for the intelligence he had to communicate. "Master," he at length commenced, "don't mind this black (hada el aswad) to whom you are shackled, for the days of our captivity are numbered." After this epigrammatic sentence he became more calm, and, without indulging in his usual rhetorical flourishes about abeed (slaves) and their bad hearts, he told me that he had heard news in Consul Cameron's house that made his heart and soul thrill with joy. On perceiving my curiosity, he remembered that, in the excess of his delight, he had forgotten to communicate to me the intelligence that I was most anxious to know. This checked the wild raptures of his exuberant nature, and, in a voice almost stifled [78/79] with emotion, he told me that he had heard in the consul's house, that a steamer had reached Massowah with letters and presents for the king, and that, on their arrival in the camp, we should, together with an embassy to the English court, start for the coast. The heated fancy of the Oriental had evidently exaggerated the report, till it tallied with his own wishes; still, after every proper deduction being made, it conveyed facts that operated like an opiate on my chafed and perturbed spirit.

Meekly I now wore my galling chains, submissively I bowed to my adverse fate, and cheerfully I sustained the most glaring wrong which unprovoked malice and conscious guilt could inflict. I had a support in the brightening future, and a solace in the prospect of a speedy release from that wasting confinement which rendered the present so sickening. My frame, inured to fatigue, and steeled against hardships, unimpaired by potent hydromel, and still more potent arackee (alcohol), which only on special occasions, and in the presence of royalty, polluted my lips, began to recover from the shock it had experienced. The wounds and scars which only a week before, even under the most favourable changes, threatened to cost me my right hand, and perhaps arm, began to heal, the swelling subsided, and I could, without great effort or support, stand erect. AH looked serene and cheerful. That my papers and [79/80] diaries, in a foreign language, containing facts, incidents, and observations on the occurrences of each passing day, which no traveller or missionary could, or ought to, entrust to memory, should ever offer a pretext for renewed severity, never for a moment presented itself to my mind. Besides this, who would suggest to the king the perusal of a stranger's letters and notes? M. Bardel, who hated missionaries, might do so, but he pretended to cherish a special regard for me; and then his apparent efforts to effect my release, strengthened the confidence I reposed in him. Aito Samuel, the ex-baldaraba of Consul Cameron, I knew, was capable of any vile action, if it tended to injure the white man, whom he hated, or enhanced the royal favour which he laboured to secure. He had, however, been most injudiciously bribed to conceal what he ought never to have known. [Flad gave him, on account of the Jews' Society, a hundred dollars, and the other four missionaries, from their private resources, ten, and Bardel cancelled a claim on him of a hundred dollars. This sum I repaid to Bardel at Zeghee, through his countryman and friend, Bourgeaud, although Samuel protested that Bardel owed him money, and not he Bardel.] Had I possessed less candour and some duplicity, not a written line in my possession would ever have gratified the sight of the king or his unscrupulous minions. It is true I ought to have remembered Richelieu's aphorism: "Give me two lines from any man, and his head shall roll on the [80/81] scaffold." I was deceived. Several times I intended to give a few dollars to my native companion, and, in the absence of the guard, try to destroy every scrap of paper in my possession; but then, again, it appeared to me quite a superfluous precaution to remove notes and memoranda that were useful and intelligible to me, but almost valueless and incoherent to a stranger. My book, of which I had a copy--the only one in Abyssinia--I would never have concealed, for the history of the king's life which it embodied I imagined could not fail to be nattering and grateful to the despot's pride. The well-founded statement that his mother sold kosso, I felt sure the most cursory reader of the volume could perceive, was not written to depreciate, but to do justice to the humble chieftain who, by his own skill, dexterity, and valour, had, through the lines of hostile nobles and cringing serfs, made his way to a sceptre and throne. Such were the conjectures that sometimes flashed across my mind, without leaving a real or abiding impression. The possibility of an interview with the king, the probability of a reconciliation, the removal from prison, the mode of travelling, and the joyous restoration to friends and home; these, and not the dismal anticipation of a protracted captivity, and more rigorous treatment, were the pictures that danced before my eyes and exhilarated my spirits.

[82] It was exactly twenty-eight days after my fatal encounter with the king on the Woggera highlands, that, about noon, friend Samuel, with a flushed countenance and averted look, strutted into the prison-tent. The guards, of whom a good number were accidentally with me, as well as myself, received his most courteous salutation. I requested him to sit down, but, without heeding my invitation, he entreated, in the sweetest tone that he could adopt, that I should resign to him the keys of my luggage. "Samuel," I said, in a voice which neither betrayed anger nor grief--"Samuel, I know what this request signifies, only take care that you do not bring new troubles on an innocent man; for if you do I may die, and if your own acts, and those of your abettors, escape with impunity here, they will not remain unvisited hereafter." "Don't think ill of me, I am your friend," and then, turning to the guards, he shouted, "Seize this luggage, and carry it up to his Majesty." Joseph, who sat petrified and stunned, the courtier how touched by the arm, and, in a cajoling strain, said, "Joseph, ibn Arab, you must come with me." The bewildered man gave him a glance that would have pierced his very soul, had it not been encased in a triple brass covering, and then, without uttering a word, obeyed mechanically the injunction, and marched off

Adversity had again blighted my prospects, and [82/83] marred my best hopes. I was not sad. I was not in despair. I was callous, reckless, and indifferent. My senses were blunted, and my mind unhinged. Bobbed of liberty, and chained like a wild beast, I did not, at that moment, dread the knife, nor fear the gallows. The cup of misery was full, and I was sick--sick to loathing of that wretched existence. My agitation keenly affected my nervous system, and I sank, worn out with all kinds of horrible ideas, on the hard pallet. Samuel, who, with the lens of my photographic camera, came back to the tent, was, as he subsequently told me, quite frightened to gaze at me. My whole appearance had undergone a change. My face was red, my eyes fiery, my lips compressed, and I stood before him--to use his own words--more like an enraged Bedlamite than a humble manacled captive. I adjusted the glass, gave the requisite explanation, and then stretched myself again on the comfortless couch. An hour, at least, had elapsed ere I became fully aware of my position, and the dangers by which I was encompassed. I roused myself from this painful lethargy, and, entering into conversation with my inseparable companion, whiled away another hour. About sundown Joseph, pale and haggard, followed by the bearers of the luggage, returned to his master's prison. Sobs and sighs for some minutes sealed his lips. "Oh, master!" he at length ejaculated, "you [83/84] are in the clutches of wicked men, and they will kill you," he added, with sad solemn emphasis. My books, papers, manuscripts, and a good number of valuable presents, in the shape of skins and silver ornaments, which I had received from the Aboona, were all sequestrated. Mr. Samuel, and his coadjutor, M. Bardel, according to Joseph, manifested the most eager desire to find obnoxious and compromising papers. The king several times got tired of the business, and ordered the various articles to be put back into their places, but the zealous examiners were so intent on their agreeable task that they scarcely heeded the .royal command. The sketches in my book, and my brush and comb, particularly elicited his Majesty's admiration. He made a variety of inquiries about me, the illustrations in the book, and the mode and method of taking photographs; Joseph, who was supposed to be initiated in all the mysteries of his master's lens and collodion, gave the most elaborate, and, no doubt, most lucid explanation of the process. Samuel tried to assist him; but it was quite evident, from his own words, that he did not feel disposed to share the honours of his profound photographic lore with an ignorant, self-conceited African. "I allowed him," he said, contemptuously, "to make his own comments on the comb, which his savage master, the king, stuck in his mop, for I would not argue [84/85] with him on such a topic. Photography is, however, quite a different thing, and I was determined to oppose, if I could not humble, his arrogant pretensions." This conversation cheered us up a little, and we were both thinking of composing ourselves to rest, when a whole troop of ruffians, headed by Jaque Obey, a notorious, merciless poltroon, rushed into the tent, and ordered me to follow him. "Short shrift," I ejaculated. The soldier to whom I was linked guessed my surmises, and, drawing the fetters by which we were fastened to each other a little tighter, he said, in bated breath, "The king is angry, and has given you in charge of more rigorous guards." "Mashanyies" (leather thongs), bawled out the head gaoler, as we approached the lines under his control. "Are these ruffians going to tie me with ropes?" I remarked to my servant. The good man, in the bitterness of his heart, curtly rejoined, "Master, these blacks are fiends." In the twinkle of an eye the ropes were brought, not, as I suspected, to inflict on me the torture of the quad, but to wrench off the old easy chain around the wrist, which allowed me to stand upright, and to give me in its stead a double chain, to bend and cripple the whole frame. The operation of fastening on these cruel fetters confirmed my previous bad opinion of that atrocious villain, Jaque Obey, and his bullies. Held by about a dozen of these wretches, [85/86] which rendered me quite helpless and passive, my right leg was violently seized, and an iron bar put on the ankle. To tighten this long, broad, and lockless piece of iron, so that the foot might not slip through, and afford the prisoners facilities to escape, a heavy hammer, or large stone, is plied till the oblong bar forms a hoop around the leg, which no giant arm, unaided, can burst. In the present instance, probably to augment the agony of the captive, many a stroke, as it descended, fell, not on the insensible iron, but on the white man's unresisting limb. One or two of the executioner's satellites manifested some compunction, and addressed a few words of encouragement to me. "Beat on," vociferated the infamous leader of the band, "and, if he moves, let his white skin feel a black hand's strength." [The dastardly ruffian, unable to return to his own country, where the enraged peasants would have torn him to pieces, remained with the king to the last. He assisted in digging Ms late master's grave. Mr. Kerans, who superintended the ceremony, told me that he felt his hand itch to imprint on the murderer's face the stamp of a strong Irish fist. The moment was, however, as he justly observed, inopportune.] Several volunteers, among whom were some servants of the Negad Ras, a protege of Consul Plowden, and formerly in his employ, perhaps to resent an old grudge against their master, took a particular delight in battering the shrinking limbs of the defenceless Frendjoj. The operation on the right leg being completed, the left, and then [86/87] the right arm, had to submit to the same merciless treatment. No criminal of the deepest dye, no outlaw with the brand of infamy on his brow, no fugitive from the just sentence of the law, could possibly have met with a harsher treatment than was accorded to me on that dreadful night by Jaque Obey and his crime-stained crew. I was indeed sick--oh! sick to loathing--of a life fraught with ever-increasing troubles and trials. The warbling and bleeding words of Job found an echo in my bosom, and, like him, I also wished to be "where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest." Alone, and in an African prison, amidst beings who, though they had a human form, were dead to every human sentiment, I sought then, as ever afterwards, refuge and protection beneath the shadow and shelter of the cross. The Saviour was indeed with me, and His presence diffused peace and comfort around the captive home of the crushed missionary. Another week had been added to the never-ending period of affliction and sorrow, without bringing me release or lighter fetters. Food I had none, nor did I much care for it. A flat teff cake, baked by a servant of the gaoler, and a little pepper flour mixed with water, constituted my breakfast and dinner. Consul Cameron sent me every day a most liberal repast, but the soldier, who charitably proffered to convey it from his house to my canvas [87/88] gaol, unscrupulously appropriated all to his own and his brother's table. Unhappy man! little did he dream that in a few months more that very brother whom he fed with provisions robbed from a white captive's scanty supplies--that the same brother would arrest his step, and with his own hand and spear transfix the deserter's faithless heart.

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