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 VI

Gethsemane a Captive's Comfort--January 3rd--Consul Cameron chained--Prison Discipline--Samuel's Smiles--Brave Conduct of Mrs. Flad and Rosenthal--Seizure of a Doll--Cross-fire of Questions--A Warning Text--Death deprived of its Terrors--Sham Reconciliation--An Accession of Prisoners--Fortunate Incident--Royal Inquisitiveness--French Consul's Protest--Release of Six Prisoners--Perplexing Stipulation--Extensive Conversions--Religion and Cannon--Confident Anticipations of Release--M. Bardel's Imprisonment--Charges against him--Sad Disappointment.

Oppression and tyranny, hardships and sufferings, had already tested the powers of endurance to the utmost, and the mind almost involuntarily began to shrink from the idea of entering on a new, indefinite period of heart-rending and heart-wasting martyrdom. In this hapless situation the troubled soul would have sunk into utter despair, had not a still small voice whispered, "Think on Gethsemane and the cross, and you have an antidote against the bitter cup which it is your Heavenly Father's pleasure you should drink." Such thoughts--and they were not the suggestions of a morbid sentimentality--continually occupied my mind, and nerved me for every species of cruelty and death savage ferocity might inflict. Nearly three months of [120/121] unmitigated terror had already passed over me, and about seven weeks over my companion, Mr. Rosenthal. During this long and dismal Lent, the few faint and dim glimpses of a better time coming cheered and sustained us amidst the troubles and trials of a stormy existence. Thus day after day wore away in unvarying wretchedness and misery. Christmas had passed over us; the new year had been ushered in; yet the chains hung inexorably on our fettered wrists. On Sunday morning, January 3rd, 1864, some of our guards informed us that the Negoos was sending and receiving messages from the "Frendjoj," and that we should probably be liberated. Tossed about on a sea of trouble and care, any intelligence of this kind--even from the lips of an Abyssinian--did not fail to excite our depressed spirits to renewed courage and confidence. About mid-day, our truculent gaoler rushed in breathless hurry into our tent, and, after convincing himself that all was right, ordered, in the name of his Majesty, a detachment of troops to proceed on an important errand. I did not at the moment pay much attention to the command, though the promptitude with which all sallied forth convinced me that they were either charged to a prisoner or to seize some property. [Subsequently, we heard that they had been dispatched to to arrest the consul's people, and to seize his property.] Late [121/122] at noon our redoubtable Jaque Obey again made his appearance, and in an imperative tone commanded us to accompany him to the king. On leaving, Rosenthal said to me, "What do you think this summons signifies?" "On a Sunday," I rejoined, "both whip and stick are in abeyance: we have no cause to apprehend anything inauspicious." A group of curious idlers followed us within the fence that divided the royal camp from that of the troops. A second central enclosure, on the top of a small eminence, occupied by white and black tents, revealed the abode of his Majesty and the royal household. We thought that we were to be conducted up to that busy acclivity, where, a few weeks before, we had such a mournful interview; but, instead of this, our guards escorted us to a white tent on the left, that ominously faced an elevated bank, on which two four-pounders, mounted on rickety ship-carriages, ostentatiously displayed their unpolished brazen fronts. A profusion of ragged carpets covered the entire space between these pieces of ordnance and the pavilion--a parade of regal pomp quite unusual, except on grand gala days. Our excited imagination immediately ran riot with all sorts of pleasing conjectures, which even now, after the lapse of so many trying months, I recall with satisfaction, as they afforded me a passing relief from perpetual trouble and [122/123] care. The happy illusion in which I indulged was dispelled on a nearer approach. His Abyssinian Majesty had for some months felt disposed to quarrel, or, as he emphatically styled it, "to humble the pride of Europe;" [By Europe he meant England and France.] but the lingering expectation of a favourable reply to his letter to the British Government imposed a kind of temporary restraint on his towering pride. The consul's request to start for the coast confirmed his conviction that all friendly intercourse between Abyssinia and England was at an end; and to resent this insult, which, as he himself often enough confessed, deeply touched his honour and dignity, Consul Cameron, the missionaries, and every other European not in the royal service, was unceremoniously arrested. Ignorant of all that had occurred, and seeing every one sad and desponding, diffidently, as if I dreaded the inquiry, I said, "What is the meaning of all this?" With forced calmness they responded, "We are all prisoners, and about to be chained." The manacles were, indeed, soon brought, and, under the auspices of Basha Olash, hammered around the wrists of the culprits. The custom of attaching a soldier to each prisoner was, in the present instance, not strictly followed; one black to two white men the chief considered quite sufficient guarantee to ensure the safety of the culprits, [123/124] a precaution which was not even enforced in the case of the old malefactors, who were deemed harmless and inoffensive beings. The relaxation of the strict prison discipline during the day was, however, not sanctioned during the night. No sooner did the shades of night thicken around us than there appeared a numerous and well-armed guard, who took their stations in and around the tent. No movement was now unheeded, and no incident, however trifling, unobserved. We were watched like criminals, and that, too, like criminals who were suspected of a skill that could burst impassable barricades, and elude the vigilance of the most watchful guards.

It was late, and most of the prisoners had already composed themselves to rest, when Samuel entered the prison tent, and in kind accents, which were contradicted by the smiles of satisfaction that lit up his sharp features, inquired whether Consul Cameron had his bed and wonted comforts. He also benignantly favoured me with an oblique glance, and, en passant, remarked, "I hope you are happier now, in the company of friends, than in your former isolated position." He relieved us of some of the guards, who most inconveniently thronged the tent, and then, bidding us an "egziabeher asfatachou" (may God deliver you), slunk quietly away. The next day the servants of our [124/125] fellow-prisoners, who at the first alarm had sought the bush, on obtaining better tidings, came again straggling into Gondar, from whence some found their way to their incarcerated masters.

Chains and imprisonment one might have thought were penalty severe enough to atone for the real or imaginary grievances of the sensitive successor of Solomon; but no, he had been insulted by France and slighted by England, and for these offences a few defenceless strangers must, in addition to durance vile, part also with their little property. The order was promptly given, and the greedy royal banditti hurried away to enrich themselves with the spoils of the Frendjoj. In the tents of the consul and the missionaries they seized unopposed every article that was of value or use--an exploit they could not so easily achieve in the house of Mrs. Rosenthal and Mrs. Flad at Gondar. These ladies, roused to a pitch of frenzy, defied heroically the cowardly attempts of the ruffians to rob them and their helpless babes of their necessary food and clothing. Mrs. Flad particularly distinguished herself in the encounter with the undisciplined savages. "Go, tell your king," she said, energetically, to the leader of the band, "that we are weak, oppressed women; yet, if he wishes to kill us, we, together with our infants, shall deem it a mercy to be dispatched at once, rather than be subject to a slow and lingering torture. [125/126] This message was delivered verbatim to his Majesty, and he swallowed the smarting rebuke, by merely observing, "these white women compared to ours are perfect d--s." Even Mrs. Rosenthal, with her limited knowledge of the language, boldly faced some of the depredators; and one bravo, who had forcibly wrested from her a few pieces of sugar she had carefully husbanded for her sick babe, she pursued courageously through the compound, and would not give up the chase till the fellow restored the stolen and valued article. Another ruffian, amidst coarse ribaldry, wanted to test the comfort of an iron-folding chair, which his huge frame would have smashed at the very first touch. Mrs. Rosenthal immediately hastened to close it, but Mrs. Flad had already laid hold of the leg, and the ponderous savage, before he had tasted the luxury of a civilised seat, to the amusement of his companions, tumbled heavily on the stony ground. Poor little Anne, Flad's eldest girl, about four years old, had her temper also ruffled during the pillage. Her rag doll, which she had carefully concealed in a particular nook, was accidentally discovered, and confiscated by the unfeeling robbers. With tears, and "by the King's death," she protested against this illegal seizure; but the ruthless heroes were deaf to her entreaties, and for more than half an hour capered madly around it, ere they yielded it up to the sobbing child.

[127] While such and similar scenes were enacted at Gondar, a cross-fire of questions and answers was lustily kept up between his Majesty and the Frendjoj. The vexatious topic of the unfortunate letter, and certain personal favours bestowed on England's representative, formed the staple of the queries put to Consul Cameron. From the tenor of the questions, one could perceive that his Majesty began to be conscious that, in his conduct towards all, he had exceeded the bounds of a ruler and a professing Christian; but, strange as it may seem, the very knowledge that he had done wrong inflamed his vindictive rage, and, in the haughty language of an irresponsible tyrant, he informed Consul Cameron that he knew her Britannic Majesty would send some great man to inquire into his proceedings towards her representative and the other Frendjoj, and that his answer would be: "I can do in my country what I please." Consul Cameron's business being dismissed, Samuel, the royal delegate, turned his vulture eyes upon me, and demanded to know what I meant by the statements contained in my papers, that, "if the Negoos provoked the hostility of the French, or the aggression of the Turks, the conflict would probably break the enthralling bonds of intolerance, and confer the boon of religious liberty on Abyssinia." "His Majesty," I responded, "is already acquainted with the views of the Emperor Napoleon on this subject, [127/128] as they were embodied in the letter conveyed to the king through Monsieur Bardel, and it would, consequently, be a superfluous task for me to give a comment on language that was plain enough." "And what will England do if such a contingency should arise?" rejoined my interlocutor. "The British Government," I returned, "has always cherished the most friendly feelings towards Abyssinia, and it might be, if they thought religious toleration would enhance the moral and material welfare of the country, that they would support, without insisting on, such a concession." Samuel carried these answers back to the king, and then returned again, and, in a stern tone, said, "The JSTegoos has heard your replies, and, did he deem it expedient, he could tell you a secret about England; but what does it matter, time will reveal it." I was anxious to discover the meaning1 of this mystery, which evidently was some mischievous intelligence communicated by the lying tongue of an unprincipled royal parasite. Samuel saw the drift, and as he had perhaps ample reason to evade an explanation, he promptly slided the interrogations into a new groove, and, in the name of his Majesty, proudly insisted that I should mention the name or names of the parties who had furnished me the particulars about the royal ancestry. Here a war of words ensued. Samuel dexterously tried to extort the names, and I adroitly eluded his request. [128/129] Baffled and thwarted, the indignant courtier arrogantly demanded that I should tell him the title I had bestowed in my book on the parent of the Negoos. ["Wanderings among the Falashas."] Too much candour here betrayed me into a serious mistake, for, instead of saying that I had stated his Majesty's father was the Duke of Quara (sic), I lowered him to the grade of a mere "bellada" nobleman, a dignity arrogated by many a despised peasant.

This day of intense misery tardily at length drew to a close, and, freed from our tormentor, each one, according to his inclination, was once more allowed to chew the bitter cud of his own ill-boding imagination. In the evening, our tyrannical gaoler, Jaque Obey, on resuming his night-watch, brought the Amharic New Testament, and, pointing to the last verse of the first chapter in the Epistle to the Romans, which stands on the top of the page, commanded me and Rosenthal to give the Negoos an explanation of the passage the next day. The awful import of the text, and the frightful verdict it denounces on the guilty, made me at first doubt whether I was among sane or mad savages; but when I recollected the dire emphasis Samuel had laid on the words which, in the course of the interrogations, had escaped my lips, "If it please God to bring me back to England, I shall know how to [128/129] correct the pedigree of his Majesty," all misgivings vanished, and I anticipated without dread or terror my approaching doom. For weeks and weeks I had, indeed, been weary of this lingering torture and incessant misery; and now, when the ominous warning came, the knell of parting life was to me merely an emancipation from the cruel and bitter tyranny of earth to the glory, peace, and rest of heaven. Our heartless gaoler, who, I believe, never felt any other emotion in his petrified bosom than that caused by the love of rapine and plunder, on hearing from Mr. Flad the contents of the verse--for he was quite guiltless of the knowledge of letters--compassionately remarked: "They are not bad men, but this is a bad business."

Gradually the night rolled away, and daylight, with its cheering sun and bustling hum, broke upon the sad and lonely prisoners. [Subsequently, Consul Cameron, Flad, and Cornelius told me that during those anxious hours they had frequently cast secret glances on the vacant paddock near our tent, to see if the gallows, on which the victims of tyranny were to suffer, was in course of erection.] There was no conversation, and no interchange of thought; every one had sorrow engraven on his brow, and gloomy misgivings concealed in his heart. Anticipating every moment the fatal summons, faith, invigorated by Divine grace, triumphed over the throes of impending death; and, without one of those [130/131] ever-shifting fluctuations of hope and fear which, under such circumstances, naturally agitate the human breast, I watched calmly and composedly the flying hours of time. Mid-day passed, noon declined, evening approached, and still no royal messenger made his appearance. Another night of earthly cares slowly waned away, and a new day of troubles stole quietly in upon us. At length, about noon, Samuel, that messenger of evil, appeared in our prison. After a condescending salutation, which, even in the moment of the basest intrigue, he never omitted, M. Rosenthal and myself were requested to rise, and, in the best Arabic of his rejected Koran, he ordered me, at the behest of his royal master, to expound the pointed-out passage of Sacred Writ. Instantly I seized the New Testament, and, commenting on the whole chapter, told the messenger that the terrible indictment of the Apostle against an unbelieving world had not the remotest connection with the offences charged against us; but, if his Majesty thought the reverse, we both deplored to have incurred his displeasure, and craved his clemency. Samuel now read the chapter himself, and, as he came to the revolting catalogue of crimes alleged against the fallen posterity of Adam, he unwittingly vented his astonishment at the unhappy selection in the ejaculation, "O Janehoi! Janehoi!" "Oh, King! [131/132] King!" His Majesty himself, rather ashamed of his quotation, or satisfied that he had inflicted sufficient sufferings, on the return of the messenger, informed us that the unlettered Jaque Obey had stupidly placed his fingers on the last verse of the first chapter, instead of the beginning of the second. The reproof he now designed to administer was obvious, and so, without expatiating on the propounded passage, I sought to mollify the hard heart of our oppressor, by soliciting Samuel to inform him that both Rosenthal and myself lamented to have involuntarily offended him, and, in imitation of the compassionate Saviour to repentant sinners, recorded in the first Epistle of St. John, chapter i., verses 8 and 9, we implored him to accept our apology. Samuel soon returned with the message that his Majesty had read the passage, and, as he hoped to obtain forgiveness of his sin, he also extended pardon and entire oblivion of the past to us, "and henceforth," added the servile courtier, "you will pray for the Negoos, as the Negoos charges me to tell you he will pray for you." The shadows of death, in which we had been enshrouded for twice twenty-four hours, were now dispelled, and, relieved from the spectral vision of a cruel, torturing martyrdom, we once more speculated on liberty and freedom. Pardoned, but in chains, restored to royal favour, but in prison, may appear puzzling paradoxes; but it must be remembered that the great Negoos was still [132/133] smarting beneath the insult he imagined he had received from the British Government, and, in the swing of his towering ambition, he revenged on those near the mistakes of those far away.

On the same day that the Negoos manifested a faint inclination to generosity and mercy, the rest of the white prisoners, consisting of Mrs. Flad, Mrs. Rosenthal, Joseph and Schiller, two German ornithologists, Kerans, McKelvy, and Makerer, two Englishmen and one Frenchman in the service of the consul, were conducted from Gondar down into the camp. The two ladies, who were not treated like regular prisoners, were taken by Samuel to that part of the camp occupied by his establishment; and the rest, after receiving their chains, were located in a tent opposite to our own.

Moved by caprice, or, perhaps, satisfied revenge, the king ordered a few of the most worthless articles among the pillage to be restored to the prisoners. Here an incident occurred which strikingly illustrated the guardian care of our Heavenly Father, and inspired the depressed soul with unwavering faith and trust. About the middle of November, 1863, Mr. Kerans arrived at Gondar with a packet for the consul. Amongst the letters there were several for me; but, as I was a closely-guarded malefactor, and unapproachable, Mrs. Rosenthal took charge of them. On the day that her property was a second time [133/134] entirely confiscated, these longed-for epistles from distant friends were safely concealed in a secret drawer in her work-box. Anxious to destroy everything that might compromise me afresh, she tried hard to abstract them, but the keen eye of the guard rendered the attempt abortive. In the evening, to her delight, the box was restored; and, though forced open, the clumsy depredators did not discover the hidden recess. Mrs. Rosenthal immediately communicated to me this fortunate recovery, and, at my request, she and Mrs. Flad perused the letters, ere they were consigned to the flames. I was afterwards informed that they had all been harmless, except one, which contained questions about the Negoos that might have roused his suspicion and ire.

Settled down into regular prison habits, our days were wiled away in listless inactivity or anxious care; our evenings were generally a little varied by a quarrel with the guards, who, reckless about space, thronged in groups into our tents, and filled the already stifling atmosphere with the putresccnt odours of their fetid garments and buttered heads. The Negoos, too, occasionally relieved the dulness of our existence by an ambiguous message, the gift of a cow, or a few sheep. Sometimes, also, he sent and requested to know the meaning of a pirated sketch of the Illustrated London News, sometimes of a Bible picture, sometimes of an [134/135] illustrated advertisement torn out of an unfortunate monthly; but most of all was the inquisitive descendant of Solomon interested in the caricatures of Punch which lay scattered among the plundered archives of the British Consulate. These friendly communications rendered the dreaded presence of Samuel quite amusing, and his visits, which were neither few nor far between, became quite diverting and agreeable. One day he walked into our tent scowling like a fiend, and handed to the consul a large, full-written sheet of paper. As I was standing close to him, curiosity made me look on the formidable document that had ruffled Samuel's temper. It was a protest of M. Lejean, the French Consul, on the subject of the treatment he had experienced during his stay at the court of Abyssinia. The articles, I believe eighteen in number, were couched in energetic and peppery language. Consul Cameron, after glancing over the foolscap, exclaimed, "Samuel, Samuel! this is a sad business!" but the stern delegate, without attending to his words, urged him to read it. Having complied with the request, he handed the precious document to me, and commanded that I should give him the contents of it in Arabic. Uncharitable as it may seem, I confess it afforded me some satisfaction to obey the order, and heedless about the wrinkles which each fresh [135/136] sentence wreathed on his frowning brow, I translated every word, not omitting even the brutal conduct of his Majesty in chaining the representative of a potent foreign sovereign in full uniform. The outraged envoy restrained his boiling passion till I had concluded, and then he gave vent to his impotent rage in a profusion of ridiculous epithets: "Dog, liar, donkey! why did you not tell all this when you were in the king's country?" The diplomatic note, which mercilessly exposed the vanity, weakness, and barbarism of the monarch, in perusing it, rankled like a barbed arrow in his ambitious breast. In the absence of any other white men on whom to retaliate, we expected that our treatment would be more ruthless and severe; but whether guided by gentler emotions, or actuated by a presentiment that the day of retribution was approaching, matters continued in statu quo, and Punch, Illustrated London News, advertisements of razor and chandelier makers, and even an occasional full-dressed, rosy-coloured beauty in Le Follet, though no one pretended to know how she had crossed the African Alps, continued to pour into our prison tent. About the end of January reports reached us that M. Bardel, who had gone on the service of the Negoos to Cassala, the capital of Soudan, to espy what the Egyptians intended to do, was on his way back, and that on his arrival the European [136/137] workmen at Gaffat would also come to the camp, whither they had been summoned to attend a special council. The rumour proved true, for on the 3rd of February M. Bardel returned from his secret mission, and on the 5th the Europeans arrived from Debra-Tabor. Immediately on their advent they repaired to the royal tent, from whence, after a lengthened conference, they were dispatched to our prison.

Messrs. Flad, Steiger, Brandeis, Josephson (since gone to his rest), Joseph, and Schiller, were instantly liberated--a clemency not extended to the rest, who were considered more exalted, or more dangerous characters.

The delegates, it is true, did not deprive us of all hope of release; on the contrary, they assured the consul that if he pledged himself that the British Government would not insist on satisfaction for all that had passed, they could, without endangering their own lives, effect our liberty, and perhaps gain permission to quit the country; if, however, this stipulation exceeded his authority, they promised to use their influence to secure us an unchained asylum, either at Gaffat or some village in the neighbourhood.

They had certainly many interviews with his Majesty, and that, too, sometimes of long duration. The questions discussed were, however, entirely [137/138] confined to their private affairs and the casting of cannon.

His Majesty, to compound for his numerous sins, in a fit of remorse unexpectedly assumed the character of a missionary. The forcible conversion of the Falashas, which he had attempted in the beginning of October, and intended to carry into effect a month later, at my urgent representation, to the Aboon, who was then on tolerable terms with the despot, was suspended for three years. That of the Mahomedan Gallas, who had no powerful intercessor, met with less opposition, and on October 15th, after a public discussion, the sword and spears of Theodore, and not the inspired writings of the prophets and apostles, induced them to throw off the leathern cord around the neck--the badge of Islamism--and to suspend in its stead one of silk, the mark of Christianity. The laurels he had already gained on the difficult field of missionary enterprise might, perhaps, have led him to seek still greater fame and renown on more distant scenes, had not the factious and insurrectionary disposition of his insubordinate subjects, who most unreasonably refused to be despoiled and then butchered, forced him to throw off the garb of the evangelist for the sterner garb of the warrior.

A ravaging disease and numerous executions quelled the threatening tempest of rebellion, and [138/139] once more revived the dormant zeal of the royal apostle. The Gallas were converted; the Falashas wavering, but inquiring. Where now was the enthusiastic preacher to find objects on which to display the exuberance of his flaming zeal? In this perplexity his ever wakeful eyes lighted on Bishop Grobat's missionaries and their white companions in the cannon foundry. Zander, a native of Anhalt-Dessau, and Protestant by name, had already transferred his allegiance to the Abyssinian Church. Mr. Schimpcr, the next in rank, and a very old sinner, was well worthy of every attention, but as he had unfortunately already changed more than half a dozen times from Protestantism to .Romanism, and from Romanism to Abyssinianism, his faith was rather suspected of being too marketable and cheap an article for a great king. M. and Madame Bourgeaud and family, devout Catholics, at the suggestion of their great teacher, found no difficulty in acknowledging the successor of St. Mark at Alexandria as good and holy as the successor of St. Peter at Home. This was not the case with the avowed adherents to the Helvetian confession. St. George and Tecla Hamanot, Abo, Claudius, and a host more, might be very good men, but then it would not do to allow them to supplant Zwingle or Calvin without certain inconveniences and troubles.

But to oppose a liberal king and forfeit bags [139/140] of Maria Theresa dollars is imprudent. "Well, they have made cannon, cast mortars, and manufactured gunpowder, and if this wisdom and skill does not smack of inspiration and proclaim the veracity of their creed, there is no true religion in the world. The devout king heard these arguments, and whether more anxious for the cannon his workmen produced than the weal of the souls they possessed, remained an open question. Probably he thought them impenitent and hardened sinners, and as he wanted mortars and powder, he abandoned their conversion, and stimulated their diligence by presents that were intended for the Queen of England. [The king was so sure of a favourable reply from England that' he had already prepared the presents that were to be conveyed to her Majesty by the ambassador.] The general opinion in the camp confirmed the expectation of our release. On the very day that the manacles were struck off the wrists of our companions, several chiefs who had some business near our prison, in reply to our interrogations, averred most solemnly that the king had sworn by "Confou yemout" (by the death of Confou), his most solemn oath, that we should not many days more sigh in captivity. Zodee, the chief spy and purveyor of the Europeans at Graffat, and who was continually near the king, gave us the same hopeful intelligence. Even the [140/141] Etcheque, the father confessor of his Majesty, sent us tidings of a similar import, accompanied by a significant hint that we should not forget him in more prosperous circumstances. These reports kept us in a state of eager expectation and feverish excitement.

Early on the morning of February 4th, intelligence reached us that the king was angry with M. Bardel, and that he accused him of being the author of our misfortunes and sufferings: The young lad in the service of Mr. Flad, to whom I have already adverted, confirmed the intelligence, .with the addition, that our freedom would lead to the imprisonment of M. Bardel. About noon the report received its verification, and M. Bardel, conducted by a detachment of troops, was actually led into our tent, there to await his royal master's pleasure. Discussion and inquiries were at their height, when a most formidable and imposing deputation from the king made their appearance. On former occasions, Jaque Obey, Samuel, or an officer of the household formed the medium of communication between the king and his white prisoners; but in the present instance, to give ├ęclat to the message, greater etiquette was observed. Among the crowd which constituted the delegates, was our old acquaintance Zodee, Jaque Obey, Madrigal (formerly a pupil in the Malta Protestant [141/142] College), and a host of high functionaries and attendants. Jaque Obey, after making a scrutinising survey to see that all the prisoners, in deference to royalty, had girded their shamas round their waists, in a calm and deliberate tone said: "M. Bardel, Janehoi is angry with you, because you have misrepresented the prisoners and caused him to chain them. You have also spoken ill of the Negoos himself, and you have further, by unfounded assertions, tried to sow distrust and suspicion in his heart against your countrymen at Graffat." Madrigal, for the benefit of all, translated every word into English, and the accused, without denying or admitting the charges, simply replied, "How! how!" This indirect apology for unmerited sufferings gave birth to fresh hopes of home and dear friends. Every hour now sped on heavily, and every messenger from the Europeans created a thrill of excitement. Day after day, however, was swallowed up in the relentless womb of time, and still the chains hung degradingly on our wrists. At last--I believe it was the 14th of February--Mad sent us word that all the king's European workmen, and the liberated prisoners, were to set out for Gaffat. This was a severe blow to our expectations, though the excess of the disappointment only stimulated the moral and physical energies of the soul to renewed courage and patience.


Project Canterbury