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2

Down the coast of Africa

 

For two long years I lived the life of a slave. I worked in escape,but it was never possible. I thought about it day and night. My master liked to go fishing in a little boat,and he al-ways took me with him. A man called Moely,and a young boy also went with us.

One day my master said to us,‘Some of my friends want to go fishing tomorrow. Get the boat ready. ’

So we put a lot of food and drink on the boat,and the next morning,we waited for my master and his friends. But when my master arrived,he was alone.

My friends don't want to go fishing today,’he said to me. ‘But you go with Moely and the boy,and catch some fish for our supper tonight. ’

Yes,master,’I answered quietly,but inside I was excited. ‘Perhaps now I can escape,’I said to myself.

My master went back to his friends and we took the boat out to sea. For a time we fished quietly,and then I moved carefully behind Moely and knocked him into the water. ‘Swim!’I cried. ‘Swim to the shore!’

My master liked to shoot seabirds and so there were guns on the boat. Quickly,I took one of these guns. Moely was swim-ming after the boat and I shouted to him:

Go back to the shore!You can swim there—it's not too far. I won't hurt you,but if you come near the boat,I'll shoot you through the head!’So Moely turned,and swam back to the shore as quickly as he could.

Then I said to the boy,‘Xury,if you help me,I'll be a good friend to you. If you don't help me,I'll push you into the sea too. ’

But Xury was happy to help me. ‘I'll go all over the world with you,’he cried.

I wanted to sail to the Canary Islands,but I was afraid to go too far from the shore. It was only a small boat. And so we sailed on south for some days. We had very little water,and it was dangerous country here,with many wild animals. We were afraid,but we often had to go on shore to get more water. Once I used a gun to shoot a wild animal. I don't know what animal it was,but it made a good meal.

For about ten or twelve days we sailed on south,down the coast of Africa. Then one day we saw some people on the shore—strange,wild people,who did not look friendly. By now we had very little food,and We really needed help. we were afraid,but we had to go on shore.

At first,they were afraid of us,too. Perhaps white people never visited this coast. We did not speak their language,of course,so we used our hands and faces to show that we were hungry. They came with food for us,but then they moved away quickly. We carried the food to our boat,and they watched us. I tried to thank them,but I had nothing to give them.

Just then two big wild cats came down to the shore from the mountains. I think they were leopards. The people were afraid of these wild cats,and the women cried out. Quickly,I took a gun,and shot one of the animals. The second wild cat ran back up into the mountains.

Guns were new to these African people,and they were afraid of the loud noise and the smoke. But they were happy about the dead wild cat. I gave them the meat of the dead animal,and they gave us more food and water.

We now had a lot of food and water,and we sailed on. Eleven days later we came near the Cape Verde Islands. We could see them,but we couldn't get near because there was no wind. We waited.

Suddenly Xury called to me,‘Look,a ship!’

He was right!We called and shouted and sailed our little boat as fast as we could. But the ship did not see us. Then I re-membered the guns which made a lot of smoke. A few minutes later the ship saw us and turned.

When we were on the ship,the Portuguese captain listened to my story. He was going to Brazil and agreed to help me,but he wanted nothing for his help. ‘No,’he said,when I tried to pay him. ‘Perhaps,one day,someone will help me when I need it. ’

But he gave me money for my boat,and for Xury,too. At first,I did not want to sell Xury as a slave,after all our danger-ous adventures together. But Xury was happy to go to the cap-tain,and the captain was a good man. ‘In ten years’time,’he said,‘Xury can go free. ’

When we arrived in Brazil three weeks later,I said goodbye to the captain and Xury,left the ship,and went to begin a new life.

 


 

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