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The Fugitives The Tyrant Queen of Madagascar   By: (1825-1894)

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The Fugitives, by R.M. Ballantyne.

A group of people from a British ship have gone ashore to stretch their legs, when enemies approach, the ship's boat retreats to the ship and they are left stranded ashore. The book deals with their efforts to find what they hope will be civilisation in the capital of the Island of Madagascar, which is something like the size of France. Unfortunately the reigning Queen has a hatred of Christianity which had been brought to the Island by missionaries some forty years before. Our heroes find themselves assisted by a Christian net work, but when they get to the capital they are appalled by the carnage and torture they find when the Queen has one of her rages against Christianity.

Based on fact, the story told here of the repression of Christianity in an emerging nation was all too true. The Queen died in 1867, and was succeeded by her son, an altogether different person, at which point our heroes take ship for England, and the story ends.

The story is full of action, the only quibble being the long and rather similar names the Malagasy people who appear in the story have. This makes it sometimes rather hard to make out what is happening.



It is almost allowable, I think, to say that this is a true story, for fiction has only been introduced for the purpose of piecing together and making a symmetrical whole of a number of most interesting facts in regard to Madagascar and the terrible persecutions that took place there in the early part and middle of the present century.

I have ventured to modify time and place somewhat, as well as to mix my characters and their deeds a little, in order to suit the conditions of my tale; but in doing so I have striven to avoid exaggeration and to produce a true picture of the state of affairs, at the period treated of, in what may be styled one of the most interesting and progressive islands of the world.

I take this opportunity of thanking the Rev George Cousins, of the London Missionary Society, and formerly of Madagascar, for kindly supplying me with much valuable information, and of acknowledging myself indebted, among others, to the works of Messrs. Sibree, Ellis, and Shaw.

R M Ballantyne.

Harrow on the Hill, 1887.



Intense action is at all times an interesting object of contemplation to mankind. We therefore make no apology to the reader for dragging him unceremoniously into the middle of a grand primeval forest, and presenting to his view the curious and stirring spectacle of two white men and a negro running at their utmost possible speed, with flashing eyes and labouring chests evidently running for their lives.

Though very different in aspect and condition, those men were pretty equally matched as runners, for there was no apparent difference in the vigour with which they maintained the pace.

The track or footpath along which they ran was so narrow as to compel them to advance in single file. He who led was a tall agile youth of nineteen or thereabouts, in knickerbocker shooting garb, with short curly black hair, pleasantly expressive features, and sinewy frame. The second was obviously a true blue tar a regular sea dog about thirty years of age, of Samsonian mould, and, albeit running for very life, with grand indignation gleaming in his eyes. He wore a blue shirt on his broad back, white ducks on his active legs, and a straw hat on his head, besides a mass of shaggy hair, which, apparently, not finding enough of room on his cranium, overflowed in two brown cataracts down his cheeks, and terminated in a voluminous beard.

The third fugitive was also a young man, and a negro, short, thickset, square, tough as india rubber, and black as the Emperor of Zahara. Good humour wrinkled the corners of his eyes, the milk of human kindness played on his thick lips and rippled his sable brow, and intense sincerity, like a sunbeam, suffused his entire visage... Continue reading book >>

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