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we could easily devise a lie together and declare that the job was done. But, alas! I know that the chief of the eunuchs, old Abdalla, is so careful, that he will be waiting for us at the ducking place, to see with his own eyes that she is thrown in."
The slaves, knowing this to be the most likely case, began to shed tears again, and howled in a low tone very dismally, for they felt that their heads were only fastened by a pack-thread to their shoulders. At last, Mezrou, who was the eldest, spoke as follows:—
"Our case," said he, "is indeed critical—so that my neck smarts already to think of the result. On the one hand, if we tell any lie, there is that accursed old chief of the eunuchs to detect us; and on the other, if we confess the simple truth, our heads will still fly off', because we did not fight with those sea-devils to the last extremity. I see therefore but one way to escape out of this scrape, which is, by putting some trick upon Abdalla. And now I think of it, there is a certain Frank lives hereabouts, who keeps a great sow pig in his back-yard; and at the next house there is a baker, where we may obtain a sack. Now, if the swine were tied up fitly, and her head well muffled in my sash, so as to keep her from either grunting or squealing, I think the deception might pass; but it must be dispatched very quickly.'"
The other slaves thinking favourably of this scheme, they ran off together to the house of the baker, who was in bed; but they obliged him to get up and give them an empty flour sack; after which, going to the pigsty of the Frank, they secured his sow in the sack, with a little difficulty. Then taking up the burthen between them, which was full as lively as the other had been, .they trotted gaily down to the water-side, where they soon perceived some person pacing to and fro, whom they took at the first glance for Abdalla. Going straight up to him therefore, without any mistrust, they all called out together, that they had brought the lady to be drowned, which was agreeable news enough to the man, for in truth it was no other than Benetto, who had been wandering up and down the shore, in the greatest uncertainty and despair.
The words, then, had no sooner got clear of the thick foolish lips of the blacks, than the musician began to deal about him so roundly, that the foremost was laid sprawling in a twinkling upon the earth. The other two, at this sight, foreseeing that they should have use for all the hands they had, immediately pitched down the sack with very little ceremony; and any one may conceive how this action increased the fury of Benetto.
The battered swine resenting the outrage as much, and feeling herself more at liberty, began at the same moment to struggle vehemently within the sack, so that she partly released her nostrils from the sash, and began to call out with all her brutal breath for liberty.
Thus the rage of Benetto, whenever he began to faint, was roused up again by these half-stifled cries; which, struggling partly through the canvass and the linen, were equivocal enough to be mistaken for the voice of Angelina, even by the ear of a musician. These excitements lending him treble courage and vigour, he was quite a match for the three slaves together, notwithstanding they fought lustily; and doubtless something tragical would have ensued but for the thriftiness of the baker.
This careful man, grudging to lend a new sack to strangers, had picked out an old one, the canvass of which was very rotten and full of patches; so that as Benetto glanced his eyes every now and then towards the sack, to give himself fresh encouragement, on a sudden the cloth ripped up with a smart report, and the huge sow, jumping briskly out, went cantering off homewards, with the sash round her head, and grunting all the way to denote her satisfaction.
The blacks, through this accident, having nothing to contend for, gave over the contest; and after a little grinning scampered away after the pig, to make up what story they could to the chief of the eunuchs.
As for Benetto, he stood as if rooted to the spot, and stared on the remains of the sack like one who had just witnessed some great stroke of enchantment. No sight, in truth, could have caused him such an astonishment, unless, indeed, the spectacle of a sow turning before his eyes into a lady, for he had made certain of Angelina being within the sack, even to the seeing of her, in fancy, through her veil of canvass. At last, coming to his senses, and catching sight of the English vessel, his thoughts began to turn upon his own safety; and stripping off his jacket and turban, he began to swim towards the ship, though with great difficulty, on account of his bruises.
It would not be easy to describe his transports, when he came on board and discovered