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The Boy Slaves   By: (1818-1883)

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The Boy Slaves, by Captain Mayne Reid.

This is an excellent book, telling of the adventures of three midshipmen and a much older sailor from a British warship that goes aground off the coast of Africa, well offshore, and sinks with all hands. However these four find themselves afloat on a spar, which they paddle with their hands for several days until they reach the shore of Africa. Shortly after this they are taken prisoner by some Arabs, who intend to take them north to a town where they can be sold as slaves.

The book deals with their adventures as they are driven north to be sold. In those days Arab pirate ships, known as Barbary pirates, and also Algerine pirates, used to capture European vessels and make their white crews and passengers into slaves, demanding ransoms from their families. Even if the ransom was received, the captors usually pretended it hadn't been. The practice had been going on for centuries, and was terminated in 1816 when Admiral Lord Exmouth attacked Algiers, and obtained the release of 1300 white slaves. Following this the French were charged with the responsibility of keeping the Arabs of North Africa in order. The date of 1816 is wrongly given as 1856 on page xi of Guy Pocock's introduction to the Everyman Edition of the book.

The audiobook takes about ten hours to play. THE BOY SLAVES, BY CAPTAIN MAYNE REID.

CHAPTER ONE.

THE LAND OF THE SLAVE.

Land of Ethiope! whose burning centre seems unapproachable as the frozen Pole!

Land of the unicorn and the lion, of the crouching panther and the stately elephant, of the camel, the camel leopard, and the camel bird! Land of the antelopes, of the wild gemsbok, and the gentle gazelle, land of the gigantic crocodile and huge river horse, land teeming with animal life, and, last in the list of my apostrophic appellations last, and that which must grieve the heart to pronounce it, land of the slave!

Ah; little do men think, while thus hailing thee, how near may be the dread doom to their own hearths and homes! Little dream they, while expressing their sympathy alas! too often, as of late shown in England, a hypocritical utterance little do they suspect, while glibly commiserating the lot of thy sable skinned children, that hundreds, ay thousands, of their own colour and kindred are held within thy confines, subject to a lot even lowlier than these a fate far more fearful.

Alas! it is even so. While I write, the proud Caucasian, despite his boasted superiority of intellect, despite the whiteness of his skin, may be found by hundreds in the unknown interior, wretchedly toiling, the slave not only of thy oppressors, but the slave of thy slaves!

Let us lift that curtain which shrouds thy great Saara, and look upon some pictures that should teach the son of Shem, while despising his brothers Ham and Japhet, that he is not master of the world.

Dread is that shore between Susa and Senegal, on the western edge of Africa by mariners most dreaded of any other in the world. The very thought of it causes the sailor to shiver with affright. And no wonder; on that inhospitable seaboard thousands of his fellows have found a watery grave; and thousands of others a doom far more deplorable than death!

There are two great deserts: one of land, the other of water the Saara and the Atlantic their contiguity extending through ten degrees of the earth's latitude an enormous distance. Nothing separates them, save a line existing only in the imagination. The dreary and dangerous wilderness of water kisses the wilderness of sand not less dreary or dangerous to those whose misfortune it may be to become castaways on this dreaded shore.

Alas! it has been the misfortune of many not hundreds, but thousands... Continue reading book >>




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