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STEDMAN'S which had been fixed upon by Colonel Fourgeoud as a principal station for the rendezvous of the troops. No place could be more dismal or solitary than this: nothing was to be seen but water, wood, and clouds. A shed was constructed on the shore for the men to cook their food in; and, a few days afterwards, another was built, for the same purpose, about thirty miles further down the river, at a place called Barbacoeba. For some time Captain Stedman continued to cruise in the river betwixt these two places. One night, after it was dark, the sentinel called out, that he saw a negro, with a lighted tobacco-pipe, cross the cormoetibo Creek in a canoe. Instant preparations were made for attack; but this suspected foe proved to be only a luminous insect, called a lantern-fly, which had flown across the river.
The men in both vessels now became very sickly; and, to add to this misfortune, accounts were received that a strong detachment of rebels was not far distant. The rain also poured like a deluge, and set almost every thing afloat in the vessels : and the air was filled with myriads of musquitoes. These, from sun-set to sun-rise, annoyed the crews of the vessels; they prevented them from sleeping, and left them besmeared with blood. The banks of the rivers were so thickly covered with wood, down to the water's edge, that not a footstep of land could be seen.
By the advice of an old negro, whom he had on board his barge, Captain Stedman was induced to swim in the river twice or thrice every day. From this practice he derived great benefit, though he was ex.. posed by it to no small danger of attack from alligators, and, from a large and voracious kind of fish, which are very numerous here. The same negro advised him to exercise himself constantly in walking bare-footed and thinly dressed on board the barge. The intention of
this was to harden his feet, and enable him to bear · exposure to the atmosphere: and to a perseverance in
these practices Captain Stedman believed, that he was subsequently indebted for the preservation of his life.
At a military post, called Devil's Harwar, which had been previously established to defend the upper parts of the Cottica, Captain Stedman formed a kind of hos. pital for his sick men. The weather continued in every respect unfavourable. The men's clothes and hammocks, from constant exposure to wet, were rotting from day to day; and the men themselves began to be much in want of refreshment. Their beated and crowded state, on board the Cerberus, became so injurious, that Captain Stedman says they could be compared to nothing more appropriately than to the unfortunate persons who were confined in the Black Hole at Calcutta. For fresh provisions they were obliged to have recourse to the flesh of monkeys, and of such other wild animals as they could kill.
In the midst of their hardships, however, they were one day gratified by discovering a small tree, which bore a delicious fruit, somewhat larger than a hen's egg, and of a golden yellow colour. This, when broken, as one would break an egg, was found to inclose a kind of jelly, which was sweet, mixed with acid, of exquisite flavour, and so cool that it might be considered like iced marmalade. In the part of the river where this tree was found, Captain Stedman observed a great number of beautiful butterflies, particularly some which were exceedingly large, and of an azure blue colour. Between the showers they skimmed about, and hovered among the green boughs, to which their ultramarine hue, brightened by the beams of the sun, exhibited a most enchanting contrast.
In the evening of the 8th of August, the sound of a drum was heard. This Captain Stedman believed to proceed from the rebels, and he kept his men attentively on guard, to prevent the possibility of a surprise. He had written to Colonel Fourgeoud, to inform him of his forlorn and almost hopeless situation; and, on the ensuing day, he received from that officer a letter, which conveyed to him the mortifying intelligence that no relief could be afforded him. The letter was accompanied only by a few fish-hooks and some fishing tackle ; but a friend of Captain Stedman sent him, from Paramaribo, an acceptable present of tamarinds, oranges, lemons, and Madeira wine. These he distributed among his drooping soldiers, and thereby afforded them some relief.
At length the Captain was himself attacked by a fever, and was in a truly deplorable condition. He had been deprived, by sickness, of his only two officers: his men had been reduced in number to about fifteen; he had no surgeon nor refreshments; was surrounded by a black forest, and was exposed to the attack of a merci. less and relentless enemy. In the midst of his distress, however, he received an order to conduct the barges down the river to Devil's Harwar, and there to station himself on shore. Consequently, on the 26th of August, he bade farewell to the place where he and his companions had experienced so much misery.
As the Charon was floating down the river, the sentinel called out that he saw something, which, by its size, he imagined to be a rebel, moving among the underwood, near the bank of the river. The captain inimediately landed his men, convinced that it must have been either a spy, or some straggler detached from the enemy. One of the slaves, however, declared that it was no negro, but a large snake. He pointed it out, and begged of the captain to shoot it. This, after two ineffectual attempts, accompanied with much difficulty, he did. A rope was then put round the animal's neck, and he was dragged to the boat. But this was not an easy operation, for the creature, which was more than twenty-two feet in length, and thicker than the body of a boy twelve years old, though mortally wounded, still continued to writhe and twist about, in such a manner as rendered it dangerous for any person to approach him. When he was in the water, fastened to the boat, he was still alive, and kept swimming like an eel. In the skinning of this animal, it was requisite to draw him up by a rope to the branch of a tree. One of the negroes having ascended by the trunk, left the tree, and clung fast upon the monster, which was still twisting; and he performed the operation by stripping off the skin as he descended by the serpent’s body to the ground. They obtained from the animal several gallons of oil : and the negroes were desirous of cutting the body into slices, to feast upon it, but this the captain would not permit.
On the 27th of August he took the command of Devil's Harwar, after having been on board the Charon fifty-six days, in the most wretched condition that can be imagined. All the men who had accompanied him from Paramaribo were either dead or sick, except one serjeant, two corporals, and fifteen privates. At length, however, he was reinforced, and obtained from Paramaribo a supply of ammunition, provisions, and medicines. At the same time he received an order to ascertain, if possible, the haunts of the rebels.
Accordingly, on the 6th of September, when somewhat recovered from his illness, he proceeded through the woods. Here the track was so narrow, that the men could not march in two ranks, but each man, after the first, was obliged to follow his leader. The ammunition and provisions were carried by negroes. Footsteps of the rebels were soon discovered in the mud, but not a single rebel could be found. The fatigue of this march was almost indescribable. In some places the party had to wade through water and mire above their hips; and in others to climb over, or creep under, fallen trees. Their flesh was lacerated by thorns; and they were sadly stung by ants, wild bees, and other insects. But the worst of their sufferings were occasioned by marching in a burning sun during the day; and, for the last two hours at night, in total darkness, holding each other by the hand.
On the '9th Captain Stedman returned to Devil's .
Harwar, where, being superseded in the command by another officer, he obtained permission to return to Paramaribo for the recovery of his health. He arrived there on the 14th, and, under the superintendance of a skilful physician, and the care of his wife, he gradually recovered.
One day, while he was at Paramaribo, he was walking along the water-side, when his attention was excited by a group of human beings, about sixty in number, just landed from a Guinea ship. They were a drove of newly imported negroes, men and women, with a few children, who were about to be sold for slaves. The whole party were excessively thin and emaciated.· Captain Stedman says, he could give no better description of them than by comparing them to living skeletons, covered with tanned leather. Before them walked a sailor, and behind them another, who carried in his hand a cane. Instead, however, of woe-worn and dejected countenances, as might have been expected, they seemed cheerful and animated ; and not a single downcast look was to be perceived among them.
Captain Stedman says that it was customary, as soon. as a Guinea-ship arrived in Surinam, to lead all the slaves upon the deck. Here they were refreshed with pure air, plantains, oranges, &c. and were properly cleaned and washed. After this some of them shaved each other's hair, in different figures, such as stars, half-moons, &c. an operation which was generally performed with a piece of broken bottle, and without soap. Part of them were then sent on shore to be disposed of; while the others passed the day in dancing, hallooing, and clapping their hands. At the sale of the negroes, before the bargain was concluded, they were, one after another, compelled to mount on a hogshead or table. Here they were examined by a surgeon, who obliged them to make various gestures with their arms and legs, to prove their soundness or unsoundness. Good negroes were, at this time, generally valued at the rate of from fifty to a hundred pounds each. Such as were