« AnteriorContinuar »
them; and if they untied her, they should see which way sh« went; if she went back they had nothing to say to her; but if she went forward, they would follow her; so they cut the cord, which was made of twisted flags, and the cow went ou before them, directly to the town; which, as they reported, consisted of above two hundred houses or huts, and in some of these they found several families living together.
Here they found all in silence, as profoundly secure as sleep could make them; and, lirst, they called another council, to consider what they had to do; and, in a word, they resolved to divide themselves into three bodies, and so set three houses on fire in three parts of the town; and as the men came out, to seize them and bind them (if any resisted, they need not be asked what to do then), and so to search the rest of the houses for plunder; but they resolved to march silently first through the town, and see what dimensions it was of, and if they might venture upon it or no.
They did so, and desperately resolved that they would venture upon them; but while they were animating one another to the work, three of them, who were a little before the rest, called out aloud to them, and told them that they had found Tom Jeffry; they all ran up to the place, where they found the poor fellow hanging up naked by one arm, and his throat cut. There was an Indian house just by the tree, where they found sixteen or seventeen of the principal Indians, who had been concerned in the fray with us before, and two or three of them wounded with our shot; and our men found they were awake, and talking one to another in that house, but knew no* their number.
The sight of their poor mangled comrade so enraged them, as before, that they swore to one another they*would be revenged, and that not an Indian that came into their hands should have any quarter; and to work they went immediately, and yet not so madly as might be expected from the rage and fury they were in. Their first care was to get something that would soon take fire, but, after a little search, they found that would be to no purpose; for most of the houses were low, and thatched with flags and rushes, of which the country is full; so they presently made some wild-fire, as we call it, by wetting a little powder in the palm of their hands; and in a quarter of an hour they set the town on fire m four or live places, and particularly that house where the Indians were not gone to bed.
As soon as the fire began to blaze, the poor frightened creatures began to rush out to save their lives, but met with their fate in the attempt; and especially at the door, where they drove them back, the boatswain himself killing one or two with his pole-axe; the house being large, and many in it, he did not care to go in, but called for a hand-grenado, and threw it among them, which at first frightened them, but, when it burst, made such havoc among them, that they cried out in a hideous manner. In short, most of the Indians who were in the open part of the house were killed or hurt with the grenado, except two or three more who pressed to the door, which the boatswain and two more kept, with their bayonets on the muzzles of their pieces, and despatched all that came in their way: but there was another apartment in the house, where the prince or king, or whatever he was, and several others, were; and these were kept in till the house, which was by this time all in a light flame, fell in upon them, and they were smothered together.
AH this while they fired not a gun, because they would not waken the people faster than they could master them; but the fire began to waken them fast enough, and our fellows were glad to keep a little together in bodies; for the fire grew so raging, all the houses being made of light, combustible stiilE ♦ hat they could hardly bear the street between them; and their business was to follow the fire, for the surer execution: as fast as the fire either forced the people out of those houses which were burning, or frightened them out of others, our people were ready at their doors to knock them on the head, still calling and hallooing one to another to remember Tom Jeffry.
While this was doing, I must confess I was very uneasy, and especially when I saw the flames of the town, which, it being night, seemed to be just by me. My nephew, the cap* tain, who was roused by his men, seeing such a fire, was very uneasy, not knowing what the matter was, or what danger 1 was in, especially hearing the guns too, for by this time they began to use their fire-arms; a thousand thoughts oppressed his mind concerning me and the supercargo, what would become of us; and, at last, though he could ill spare any more men, yet not knowing what exigence we might be in, he takes another boat, and with thirteen men and himself comes on shore to me.
He was surprised to see me and the supercargo in the boat with no more than two men; and though he was glad that we were well, yet he was in the same impatience with us to know what was doing; for the noise continued, and the flame increased: in short, it was next to an impossibility for any man in the world to restrain their curiosity to know what had happened, or their concern for the safety of the men; in a word, the captain told me he would go and help his men, let what would come. I argued with him, as I did before with the men, the safety of the ship, the danger of the voyage, the interest of the owners and merchants, &c, and told him 1 and the two men would go, and only see if we could at a distance learn what was like to be the event, and come back and tell him. It was all one to talk to my nephew, as it was to talk to the rest before; he would go, he said; and he only wished he had left but ten men in the ship, for he could not think of having his men lost for want of help; he had rather lose the ship, the voyage, and his life and all; and away he went.
I was no more able to stay behind now than I was to persuade them not to go; so, in short, the captain ordered two men to row back the pinnace, and fetch twelve men more, leaving the long-boat at an anchor; and that when they came back six men should keep the two boats, and six more come aftej us; so that he left only sixteen men in the ship; for the whole ship's company consisted of sixty-five men, whereof two were lost in the late quarrel which brought this mischief on.
Being now on the march, you may be sure we felt little of the ground we trod on; and being guided by the fire, we kept no path, but went directly to the place of the flame. If the noise of the guns was surprising to us before, the cries of the poor people were now quite of another nature, and filled us with horror. I must confess I was never at the sacking a city, or at the taking a town by storm. I had heard-of Oliver Cromwell taking Drogheda, in Ireland, and killing man, woman, and child; and I had read of Count Tilly sacking the city of Magdebourg, and cutting the throats of twenty-two thousand ol all sexes; but I never had an idea of the thing itself before, nor is it possible to describe it, or the horror that was upon our minds at hearing it. However, we went on, and at length came to the town, though there was no entering the streets of it for the fire. The first object we met with was the ruins of a hut or house, or rather the ashes of it, for the house was consumed; and just before it, plain now to be seen by the light of the fire, lay four men and three women killed, and, as we thought, one or two more lay in the heap among the fire; in short, there were such instances of rage altogether barbarous, and of a fury something beyond what was human, that we thought it impossible our men could be guilty of it; or if they were the authors of it, we thought they ought to be every one of them put to the worst of deaths. But this was not all; we saw the fire increased forward, and the cry went on just as the fire went on; so that we were in the utmost confusion. We advanced a little way farther; and, behold, to our astonishment, three naked women, and crying in a most dreadful manner, came flying as if they had wings, and after them sixteen or seventeen men, natives, in the same terror and consternation, with three of our English butchers in the rear; who, when they could not overtake them, fired in among them, and one that was killed by their shot fell down in our sight. When the rest saw us, believing us to be their enemies, and that we would murder them as well as those that pursued them, they set up a most dreadful shriek,especially the women, and two of them fell down, as if already dead, with the fright. My very soul shrunk within me, and my blood ran chill Mi my veius when I saw this; and I believe, had the three