Chapter 15


Although we have made the African negro hitherto talk in his own mixed jargon, yet, as we consider that, in a long narration, it will be tedious to the reader, we shall now translate the narrative part into good English, merely leaving the conversation with which it may be broken, in its peculiar dialect.

“The first thing I recollect,” said Mesty, “is that I was carried on the shoulders of a man with my legs hanging down before, and holding on by his head.

“Every one used to look at me, and get out of the way, as I rode through the town and market—place, so loaded with heavy gold ornaments that I could not bear them, and was glad when the women took them off; but, as I grew older, I became proud of them, because I knew that I was the son of a king—I lived happy, I did nothing but shoot my arrows, and I had a little sword which I was taught to handle, and the great captains who were about my father showed me how to kill my enemies. Sometimes I laid under the shady trees, sometimes I was with the women belonging to my father, sometimes I was with him and played with the skulls, and repeated the names of those to whom they had belonged, for in our country, when we kill our enemies. we keep their skulls as trophies.

“As I grew older, I did as I pleased; I beat the women and the slaves; I think I killed some of the latter—I know I did one, to try whether I could strike well with my two—handed sword made of hard and heavy wood— but that is nothing in our country. I longed to be a great captain, and I thought of nothing else but war and fighting, and how many skulls I should have in my possession when I had a house and wives of my own, and I was no longer a boy. I went out in the woods to hunt, and I stayed for weeks. And one day I saw a panther basking in the sun, waving his graceful tail. I crept up softly till I was behind a rock within three yards of it, and drawing my arrow to the head I pierced him through the body. The animal bounded up in the air, saw me, roared and made a spring, but I dropped behind the rock, and he passed over me. He turned again to me, but I had my knife ready, and, as he fixed his talons into my shoulder and breast, I pierced him to the heart. This was the happiest day of my life; I had killed a panther without assistance, and I had the wounds to show. Although I was severely hurt, I thought nothing of it. I took off the skin as my blood dropped down and mixed with that of the beast—but I rejoiced in it. Proudly did I go into the town dripping with gore and smarting with pain. Every one extolled the feat, called me a hero and a great captain. I filed my teeth, and I became a man.

“From that day I ranked among the warriors, and, as soon as my wounds were healed, I went out to battle. In three fights I had gained five skulls, and when I returned they weighed me out gold. I then had a house and wives, and my father appointed me a Caboceer. I wore the plume of eagle and ostrich feathers, my dress was covered with fetishes, I pulled on the boots with bells, and with my bow and arrows slung on my back, my spear and blunderbuss, my knives and my double— handed sword, I led the men to battle and brought was beaten back. I fired his house, wasted his provision ground, and taking away more slaves, I returned home with my men, intending soon to assault him again. The next day there came more messengers, who knelt in vain, so they went to my father, and many warriors begged him to interfere. My father sent for me, but I would not listen; the warriors spoke, and I turned my back: my father was wroth and threatened, the warriors brandished their two—handed swords—they dared to do it; I looked over my shoulder with contempt, and I returned to my house. I took down my skulls, and I planned. It was evening, and I was alone, when a woman covered up to the eyes approached; she fell down before me as she exposed her face.

“ ‘I am the girl who was promised to your relation, and I am now the wife of your enemy. I shall be a mother. I could not love your relation, for he was no warrior. It is not true that my husband asked for a fetish—it was I who bought it, for I would not wed him. Kill me and be satisfied.’

“She was very beautiful, and I wondered not that my enemy loved her—and she was with child—it was his child, and she had fetished my friend to death. I raised my sword to strike, and she did not shrink: it

  By PanEris using Melati.

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