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As to the three reprobates, as I justly call them, though they were much civilized by their settlement compared to what they were before, and were not so quarrelsomé, having not the same opportunity, yet one of the certain companions of a profligate mind never left them, and that was their idleness. It is true, they planted corn, and made fences; but Solomon's words were never better verified than in them,--" I went by the vineyard of the slothful, and it was all overgrown with thorns; ” for when the Spaniards came to view their crop, they could not see it in some places for weeds; the hedge had several gaps in it, where the wild goats had got in and eaten up the corn; perhaps here and there a dead bush was crammed in, to stop them out for the present, but it was only shutting the stable-door after the steed was stolen ; whereas, when they looked on the colony of the other two, there was the very face of industry and success upon all they did ; there was not a weed to be seen in all their corn, or a gap in any of their hedges; and they, on the other hand, verificq Solomon's words in another place—“that the diligent hand maketh rich; ” for every thing grew and thrived, and they had plenty within and without; they had more tame cattle than the others, more utensils and necessaries within doors, and yet more pleasure and diversion too.
It is true, the wives of the three were very handy and cleanly within doors; and having learned the English ways of dressing and cooking from one of the other Englishmen, who, as I said, was a .. mate on board the ship, they dressed their husbands' victuals very nicely and well; whereas the others could not be brought to understand it; but then the husband, who, as I say, had been cook's mate, did it himself. But as for the husbands of the three wives, they loitered about, fetched turtles' eggs, and caught fish and birds; in a word, anything but labor, and they fared accordingly. The diligent lived well and comfortably, and the slothful lived hard and beggarly ; and so, I believe, generally speaking, it is all over the world.
But I now come to a scene different from all that had happened before, either to them or to me; and the original of the story was this: Early one morning, there came on shore five or six canoes of Indians or savages, call them which you please, and there is no room to doubt they came upon the old errand of seeding upon their slaves; but that part was now so familiar to the Spaniards, and to our men too, that they did not concern themselves about it, as I did ; but having been made sensible, by their experience, that their only business was to lie concealed, and that if they were not seen by any of the savages, they would go off again quietly, when their business was done, having, as yet, not the least notion of there being any inhabitants in the island; I say, having been made sensible of this, they had nothing to do but give notice to all the three plantations to keep within doors, and not show them. selves, is: placing a scout in a proper place, to give notice when the boats went to sea again. This was, without doubt, very right; but a disaster spoiled all these measures, and made it known among the savages that there were inhabitants there; which was, in the end, the desolation of almost the whole colony. After the canoes with the savages were gone off, the Spaniards peeped abroad again; and some of them had the curiosity to go to the place where they had been, to see what they had been doing. Here, to their great surprise, they found three savages left behind, and lying fast asleep upon the ground. It was supposed they had either been so gorged with their inhuman feast, that, like beasts, they were fallen asleep, and would not stir when the others went, or they had wandered into the woods, and did not come back in time to be taken in. The Spaniards were greatly surprised at this sight, and |. at a loss what to do. The Spanish governor, as it happened, was with them, and his advice was asked, but he professed he knew not what to do. As for slaves, they had enough already ; and as to killing them, they were none of them inclined to that ; the Spaniard governor told me, they could not think of Shedding innocent blood; for as to them,
the poor creatures had done them no wrong, invaded none of their property, and they thought they had no just quarre against them, to take away their lives. And here I must, in justice to these Spaniards, observe, that let the accounts of Spanish cruelty in Mexico and Peru be what they will, I never met with seventeen men of any nation whatsoever, in any foreign country, who were so universally modest, temperate, virtuous, so very good-humored, and so courteous, as these Spaniards; and as to cruelty, they had nothing of it in their very nature; no inhumanity, no barbarity, no outrageous passions, and yet all of them men of great courage and spirit. Their temper and calmness had appeared in their bearing the insufferable usage of the three Englishmen; and their justice and humanity appeared now in the case of the savages, as above. After some consultation, they resolved upon this; that they would lie still a while longer, till, if possible, these three men might be gone. But then the governor Spaniard recollected, that the three savages had no boat; and if they were left to, rove about the island, they would certainly discover that there were inhabitants in it; and so they should be undone that way. Upon this they went back again, and there
lay the fellows fast asleep still, and so they resolved to awaken
them, and take them prisoners; and they did so. The poor fellows were strangely frightened when they were seized upon and bound; and afraid, like the women, that they should be
murdered and eaten; for it seems, those o think all the
world does as they do, eating men's flesh ; but they were soon
guarding them, or that they thought the fellows could not mend themselves, I know not, but one of them ran away, and taking to the woods, they could never hear of him any more. They had good reason to believe he got home again soon after, in some other boats or canoes of savages who came on shore three or four weeks afterwards, and who, carrying on their revels as usual, went off in two days’ time. This thought terrified them exceedingly ; for they concluded, and that not without good cause indeed, that if this fellow came home safe among his comrades, he would certainly give them an account that there were people in the island, and also how few and weak they were ; for this savage, as I observed before, had never been told—and it was very happy he had not—how many there were, or where they lived; nor had he ever seen or heard the fire of any of their guns, much less had they shown him any of their other retired places; such as the cave in the valley, or the-new retreat which the two Englishmen had made, and the like. The first testimony they had that this fellow had given intelligence of them was, that about two months after this, six canoes of Savages, with about seven, eight, or ten men in a canoe, came rowing along the north side of the island, where they never used to come before, and landed, about an hour after sunrise, at a convenient place, about a mile from the habitation of the two Englishmen, where this escaped man had been kept. As the Spaniard governor said, had they been all there, the damage would not have been so much, for not a man of them would have escaped; but the case differed now very much, for two men to fifty was too much odds. The two men had the happiness to discover them about a league off, so that it was above an hour before they landed; and as they landed a mile from their huts, it was some time before they could come at them. Now, having great reason to believe that they were betrayed, the first thing they did was to bind the two slaves which were left, and cause two of the three men whom they brought with the women (who, it seems, proved very faithful So them) to lead them, with their two wives, and whatever they could carry away with them, to their retired places in the woods, which I have spoken of above, and there to bind the two fellows hand and foot, till they heard further. In the next place, seeing the savages were all come on shore, and that they had bent their course directly that way, they opened the fences where the milch-goats were kept, and drove them all out; leaving their goats to straggle in the woods, whither they pleased, that the savages might think they were all bred wild; but the rogue who came with them was too cunning for that, and gave them an account of it all, for they went directly to the place. When the two poor frightened men had secured their wives and goods, they sent the other slave they had of the three who came with the women, and who was at their place by accident, away to the Spaniards with all speed, to give them the alarm, and desire speedy help ; and, in the mean time, they took their arms, and what ammunition they had, and retreated towards the place in the wood where their wives were sent; keeping at a distance, yet so that they might see, if possible, which way the savages took. They had not gone far, but that from a rising ground they could see the little army of their enemies come on directly to their habitation, and, in a moment more, could see all their huts and household stuff flaming up together, to their great grief and mortification ; for they had a very great loss, to them irretrievable, at least for some time. They kept their station for a while, till they found the savages, like wild beasts, spread themselves all over the place, rummaging every way, and every place they could think of, in search of prey; and in particular for the people, of whom, now, it plainly appeared they had intelligence. The two Englishmen, seeing this, thinking themselves not secure where they stood, because it was likely some of the wild people might come that way, and they might come too many together, thought it proper to make another retreat about half a mile farther ; believing, as it afterwards happened, that the farther they strolled, the fewer would be together.