« AnteriorContinuar »
creatures screamed at that, especially the women, as if they had just felt the knife at their throats; for they immediately concluded they were unbound on purpose to be killed, If they gave them any thing to eat, it was the same thing; thev then concluded, it was for fear they should sink in flesh, and so not be fat enough to kill. If they looked at one of them more particularly, the party presently concluded, it was to see whether he or she was fattest, and fittest to kill iirst; nay, after they had brought them quite over, and began to use them kindly, and treat them well, still they expected every day to make a dinner or supper for their new masters.
When the three wanderers had given this unaccountable history or journal of their voyage, the Spaniard asked them where their new family was; and being told that they had brought them on shore, and put them into one of their huts, and were come up to beg some victuals for them, they (the Spaniards) and the other two Englishmen, that, is to say, the whole colony, resolved to go all down to the place and see them ; and did so, and Friday's father with them.
When they came into the hut, there they sat all bound; for when they had brought them on shore, they bound their hands, that they might not take the boat and make their escape; there, I say, they sat, all of them stark naked. First, there were three men, lusty, comely fellows, well-shaped, straight and fair limbs, about thirty to thirty-five years of age; and five women, whereof two might be from thirty to forty; two more not above four or five and twenty; and the fifth, a tall, comely maiden, about sixteen or seventeen. The women were well-favored, agreeable persons, both in shape and features, only tawny; and two of them, had they been perfect white, would have passed for very handsome women, even in London itself, having pleasant, agreeable countenances, and of a very modest behavior; especially when they came afterwards to be clothed and dressed, as they called it, though that dress was very indifferent, it must be confessed ; of which hereafter.
The sight, you may be sure, was something uncouth to our Spaniards, who were, to give them a just character, men of the best behavior, of the most calm, sedate tempers, and perfect good-humor, that ever I met with; and, in particular, of the most modesty, as will presently appear: I say, the sight was very uncouth, to see three naked men and five naked women, all together bound, and in the most miserable circumstances that human nature could be supposed to be, viz. to be expecting every moment to be dragged out, and have their brains knocked out, and then to be eaten up like a calf that is killed for a dainty.
The first thing they did was to cause the old Indian, Friday'? father, to go in, and see, first, if he knew any of them, and then if he understood any of their speech. As soon as the old man came in, he looked seriously at them, but knew none of them: neither could any of them understand a word he said, or a sign he could make, except one of the women. However, this was enough to answer the end, which was to satisfy them that the men into whose hands they were fallen were Christians; that they abhorred eating men or women; and that they might be sure they would not be killed. As soon as they were assured of this, they discovered such a joy, and by such awkward gestures, several ways, as is hard to describe; for, it seems, they were of several nations.
The woman who was their interpreter was bid, in the next place, to ask them if they were willing to be servants, and to work for the men who had brought them away, to save their lives; at which they all fell a dancing; and presently one fell to taking up this, and another that, any thing that Jay next, to carry on their shoulders, to intimate that they were willing to work.
The governor, who found that the having women among them would presently be attended with some inconvenience, and might occasion some strife, and perhaps blood, asked the three men what they intended to do with these women, and how they intended to use them, whether as servants or as women. One of the Englishmen answered very boldly and readily, that they would use them as both; to which the governor said, "I am not going to restrain you from it; you are your own masters as to that; but this I think is but just, for avoiding disorders and quarrels among you, and I desire it of you for that reason only, viz. that you will all engage, that if any of you take any of these women, as a woman or wife, that he shall take but one; and that having taken one, none else shall touch her; for though we cannot marry any one of you, yet it is but reasonable that while you stay here, the woman any of you takes should be maintained by the man that takes her, and should be his wife ; I mean," says he, " while he continues here, and that none else shall have any thing to do with her." All this appeared so just, that every one agreed to it without any difficulty.
Then the Englishman asked the Spaniards if they designed to take any of them. But every one of them answered, "No :" some of them said they had wives in Spain, and the others did not like women that were not Christians; and all together declared that they would not touch one of them; which was an instance of such virtue as I have not met with in all my travels. On the other hand, to be short, the five Englishmen took them every one a wife, that is to say, a temporary wife; and so they set up a new form of living; for the Spaniards and Friday's father lived in my old habitation, which they had enlarged ex ceedingly within. The three servants which were taken in the late battle of the savages lived with them; and these carried on the main part of the colony, supplied all the rest with food, and assisted them in any thing as they could, or as they found necessity required.
But the wonder of this story was, how five such refractory ill-matched fellows should agree about these women, and that two of them should not pitch upon the same woman, especially seeing two or three of them were, without comparison, more agreeable than the others; but they took a good way enough to prevent quarrelling among themselves, for they set the five women by themselves in one of their huts, and they wTent all into the other hut, and drew lots among them wlio should choose first.
He that drew to choose first went away by himself to the hut where the poor naked creatures were, and fetched out her he chose; and it was worth observing, that he that chose first took her that was reckoned the homeliest and oldest of the live, which made mirth enough among the rest; and even the Span'surds laughed at it: but the Fellow considered better than any of them, that it was application and business they were to expect assistance in, as much as in any thing else; and she proved the best wife of all the parcel.
When the poor women saw themselves set in a row thus, and fetched out one by one, the terrors of their condition returned upon them again, and they firmly believed* they were now going to be 'devoured. Accordingly, when the English sailor came in and fetched out one of them, the rest set up a most lamentable cry, and hung about her, and took their leave of her with such agonies and affection, as would have grieved the hardest heart in the world; nor was it possible for the Englishmen to satisfy them that they were not to be immediately murdered, till they fetched the old man, Friday's father, who immediately let them know that the five men, who had fetched them out one by one, had chosen them for their wives.
When they Had done, and the fright the women were in was a little over, the men Went to work, and the Spaniards came and helped them.; and in a few hours they had built them every one a new hut or tent for their lodging apart; for those they had already were crowded with their tools, household stuff, and provisions. The three wicked ones had pitched farthest off, and the two honest ones nearer, but both on the north shore of the island, so that they continued separated as before; and thus my island was peopled in three places; and, as I might say, three towns were begun to be built.
And here it is very well worth oDserving, that? as it often happens in the world (what the wise ends of God's providence are in such a disposition of things I cannot say), the two honest fellows had the two worst wives; and the three reprobates, that were scarce worth hanging, that were fit for nothing, and neither seemed born to do themselves good, nor any one else, had three clever, diligent, careful, and ingenious wives; not that the first two were bad wives, as to their temper or humor, for all the five were most willing, quiet, passive, and subjected creatures, rather like slaves than wives; but my meaning is, they were not alike capable, ingenious, or industrious, or alike cleanly and neat.
Another observation I must make, to the honor of a diligent application on one hand, and to the disgrace of a slothful, negligent, idle temper on the other, that when I came to the place, and viewed the several improvements, plantings, and management of the several little colonies, the two men had so far outgone the three, that there was no comparison. The) had, indeed, both of them as much ground laid out for corn as they wanted, and the reason was, because, according to my rule, nature dictated that it was to no purpose to sow more corn than they wanted; but the difference of the cultivation, of the planting, of the fences, and, indeed, of every thing else, was easy to be seen at first view.
The two men had innumerable youn°; trees planted about their huts, so that when you came to the place, nothing was to be seen but a wood; and though they had twice had their plantation demolished, once by their own countrymen, and once by the enemy, as shall be shown in its place, yet they had restored all again, and every thing was thriving and flourishing about them: they had grapes planted in order, and managed like a vineyard, though they had themselves never seen any thing of that kind; and by their good ordering their vines, their grapes were as good again as an}r of the others. They had also found themselves out a retreat in the thickest part of the woods, where, though there was not a natural cave, as I had found, yet they made one with incessant labor of their hands, and where, when the mischief which followed happened, they secured their wives and children, so as they could never be found; they having, by sticking in* numerable stakes and poles of the wood which, as I said, grew so readily, made the grove impassable, except in some places, where they climbed up to get over the outside part and then went on by ways of their own leaving.