The Escapes Of Rafaravy

IN a preceding number, I told you something about the persecutions of the Christians at Madagascar, and about a good woman who was twice very nearly put to death because she was a Christian. Though she was not killed when every one expected she would  be, her house was pulled down, and everything taken from her, and she herself sold as a slave. But her trials were not yet over. Five soldiers guarded her night and  day.  For five long months she was always expecting to be put to death.  One day, one of the five men ran away for a little while. Presently he came running back, out of breath, to say that  people were  boiling  water  to  put somebody to death. "Whom do you, think it is for?" asked Rafaravy" I do not know," said the soldier, " but I suppose it is for yourself. "Soon four executioners came up, and then the  guards  were  sure  that  the water was for  Rafaravy, and they began to take off her irons.  She commended her soul to her Redeemer; she thought of that sweet text, " Fear not, for I am with thee," and she felt no fear even of this dreadful death. In a little while, she found that it was some one else who was to be put to death, and that it was by accident that the executioners had come that way Rafaravy's  father  and  her  relatives  did not come near her.  This was a trial; for she loved them, though they had forsaken her.  She was of use to others even  while she was a  prisoner.  Her Christian friends used to come and see her, and when they saw her so patient and cheerful, it encouraged them.  Other people came to see her, and to them she spoke of the Saviour.  She talked to her guards; and one  of them was so  impressed by her words, that it is hoped he became a Christian.  At the end of five months, there came an order from the  queen to sell Rafaravy as  a slave, never to  be set free.

This was hard for one who had had a house  and  servants  of  her  own,  but  she could joyfully bear the loss of all things for the sake of Jesus.  Her master (whose wife was a relative of hers), treated her kindly, and allowed her to go where she pleased when she had done her work.  Her husband, who was  an officer  in  the  army,  also  came from a distance to see her.  Thus she had a little season of rest. One day, after she had done her work, she  went  to  see  two  friends  who  lived  a little way from the town.  While they were talking, some  one  came  and told  them that the  queen  had  sent  to have  her  taken  up again,  and  her two friends  also.  This was because  they would  not  leave  off  praying to  God.  Rafaravy got  up  to  go  back  to her  master's  house,  and  her  two  friends went  with  her  part  of the  way.  As  they went, they talked of their Saviour,  and the joy they should feel  on seeing  him, for  the first  time,  in  Heaven.  They  came  to  the place  of  execution,  and  there  they  knelt down  and  commended  each  other to  God's care,  and  then  parted.  Rafaravy's friends went  another  way,  and  she  went  to  her master's  house,  praying,  as  she  went, that God would  give  her strength to suffer  and die. When  she  reached  her  master's,  she found that he was out, and that the soldiers had  not come for  her.  Then she went out to  ask  more  questions,  and  called  on  two Christians named  Simeon  and David.  She found that they were in  the  same  danger, and  more of the Christians besides.  It had not before come into her mind to run  away, just now she  and her friends began to think of  the words of Jesus:  "If they persecute you in  one city, flee to  another."  From this they found  that  it would  not  be wrong  to run  away to save their lives.  They did not go, however,  for some hours.  They had nothing of their own to pack up, for  they were only poor slaves.  Why, then, did they not go at once?  Would not you have run away directly, without  stopping a minute? It was because they had money and goods which their  masters had trusted in their hands, and they would not go until they had made up their accounts, and  left everything that belonged to him in a parcel by  itself.  They  even  put  up  a  sixpence that one of them had spent in going a journey for  him.  When the  money  was  all made  right,  they  knelt  down  and  prayed, and  then, in  the dark  night, Rafaravy  and her friends  set off  together.  They walked all  the  rest of the night,  and the next day, till they reached the  house  of some friends who  lived  fifty  miles  off.  The names of these friends were Rafabalay, Andrimibaina, and  Sarah his wife. Rafaravy lived for some time with  these friends.  By day she used to  hide  in  the crags of a mountain close by.  Sarah kindly kept her company.  

One day it was so very cold  that they thought  they would venture to stay at home.  There was some rice laid before the door to dry.  Sarah heard some crows making a noise; she  thought  they were  eating  the  rice,  and  jumped  up  to drive them away.  As soon as she got outside  the  door, she  saw  two  men  coming with  spears  in  their  hands.  She had  just time to turn around  and tell Rafaravy.  She was obliged  to  speak  softly,  the  men were so  near.  Rafaravy  had  only  time  to  get under a bedstead, and to cover herself with a piece of matting.


Lightly the maddened rage of man must fall 

On hearts that in the Saviour's peace can rest.

With God, our father, helper, friend, not all 

That men  may  do, can  agitate the breast.

In  my  next  I  shall give  an  account  of 

many  more  of  the  narrow  escapes of this 

good  woman.  I will close for this time, 

hoping  that  both  reader  and  writer  may 

endure affliction  unto the end.

Whitehall, N.  Y.


KIND words and kind deeds are more 

precious than diamonds.  Diamonds only 

please  the  eye;  but  kind  words  and  acts 

charm the hearts of those who utter, and of 

those  also who hear and see, them.


SARAH and her husband sat down by the fireside, that there might not seem to be any bustle. The men came in, and said they had come to search for Rafaravy. Sarah kept from answering their questions as well as she could without telling a lie. The soldiers stood talking for about an hour. All this while Rafaravy could see and hear them through, the matting. At first, her heart beat hard, and she breathed so loud that she was afraid that the soldiers would hear her; but soon she thought of the sweet promises in God's holy word, and she felt that she could trust in him. Sarah gave up all hope, and she got up and went out. This was fortunate; for it made the soldiers think that Rafaravy was in the mountains, and that Sarah was going to warn her; so they went out after her. Then Rafaravy crept from under the bed stead, and made haste out another way. Sarah was soon obliged to escape too, or she would have been taken up for helping to hide her friend; so from that day they wandered about together. First, they went to a friend of Sarah's. This friend told Sarah that soldiers had been there seeking for " some woman who had run away. "Sarah did not tell her that Rafaravy was the woman. Next day, they went to another friend, and then to another, and another, and stayed a little while with each, just as long as they thought it was safe. They had many escapes. One day they passed a house where many people were talking. These people were the officers and soldiers who were hunting for them. Afterward, a good woman hid them in a pit, and covered the top with thorns and briers, so that though the soldiers searched every house, they did not find them. One day they were lying hid in some coarse grass, when the soldiers passed quite near them. Another time, as they were going to a friend's, twenty soldiers came in sight. Sarah ran, and soon got out of the way; but poor Rafaravy was so frightened that she could hardly move.

However, she managed to get into a bog close by, and the soldiers did not see her. She sank into the mud, and could not get out till Sarah came to help her. Another time four men ran after them, but they hid themselves in the long grass, and escaped. One good man made a little tent for them in his manioc plantations. Themanioc grew So high as to quite hide the tent. They stayed there three months. While they were there, some of his servants became Christians, and learned to read the Bible. Just then the news was brought that Mr. Johns, one of the missionaries, was waiting at the port of Tamatave. Rafaravy and some of her friends wished to go and see him. It was a long and dangerous journey. Tamatave was two hundred and fifty miles off. They must walk all the way. There was no smooth, straight road, such as we have in this country indeed, there was no road at all there were no lamps to light their way; no inn at which to stop. There were thick forests to go through, and deep rivers to cross, and high hills to climb; and some parts of the way were so steep and slippery that they would be obliged to slide down, rather than walk. Yes, and this was not all the danger. They must go right through the capital where the cruel queen lived, and where Rafaravy had three times been condemned to die. But they so dearly loved this missionary, that they were ready to run all risks for him. They took all the care they could to prevent being caught, and asking help of God, they setout on the journey. Sarah and her husband dressed themselves up well, and went first, as if they were master and mistress. Rafaravy put on a coarse dress, and went behind them with a bundle on her head, as if she were their servant. It was fifty miles to the capital. When they got near it, a slave saw Rafaravy, and knew her, and went and told her old master. He did not believe it. Perhaps he thought Rafaravy could not be so bold. What though her earthly house be over thrown, And not a roof to shelter her be left! The secret place of God her soul has known, And of that home, she cannot be bereft. Dear reader, great trials await us in the time of trouble that is so near us; are we prepared ? Oh! let us try to improve every moment as it passes, in getting an experience that shall fit us to stand the test which will be passed upon each of us. We, too, must be persecuted. Some are now. I mean those who stand alone in the truth, and do not have friends who favor it. There are many of this class, and my sympathy is with them, yet this is, perhaps, the way God is refining them, and if they are patient, they will come forth brighter than silver seven times purified of its dross, and gold that has been tried by fire.


Whitehall, N.. Y.

 [THE conclusion of this narrative has been long delayed; but we trust our readers have not lost their interest in the remarkable experiences of this devoted woman. ED.] It will be remembered that Rafaravy was on her way to the port of Tamatave, where she expected to meet Mr. Johns, the missionary. She was accompanied by her friends, Sarah and her husband, and had got safely on her way as far as the capital. Here, she and Sarah remained concealed in the house of a friend, while Sarah's husband went on to Tamatave to ask advice of Mr. Johns.  While she was thus waiting for some word of counsel from the good missionary, fifteen or twenty men came one day to the house where she was staying, for the purpose of searching it. They were not searching for Rafaravy, but for something else which they suspected might be" concealed in the house. They tried to push open the door of her room; but she held it firmly in its place, and the men soon went away. Slipping from her place of confinement, she immediately escaped from the house, climbed over a wall, and succeeded in reaching the house of a friend in safety. The men who had been searching the house, soon returned, and went into the very room where Rafaravy had been concealed ; but she had gone. The God that she worshiped and trusted, had delivered her out of their hands.  At the end of a fortnight from the time that Sarah's husband set out for Tamatave, there came a messenger from Mr. Johns. He sent them money to buy food, and directions for their journey. He told them to take courage and come to him, for he hoped to find them a passage on a ship that would take them away from the land of such fierce persecutions. So, with many prayers and tears, they parted with their kind Christian friends in the capital, and set out in the night, on their journey to Tamatave, which was two hundred miles distant. Day after day they traveled on, till their feet became so swollen that they could scarcely move. One dark night the rain poured down in torrents; but these poor women could find no shelter, and so lay upon the cold ground all night. Sometimes they got lost in the night, and had to lie down and wait till morning. Before they reached the end of their journey,their little stock of food was all gone; and as they had no money to buy any more, they were nearly starved. Yet they sweetly comforted each other as they talked of the dear Saviour and of Heaven. They remembered that he. too, had not where to lay his head. When they went up the hill, they thought of Christian climbing the "Hill of Difficulty," as described in "Pilgrim's Progress." Once they came to a deep river and could find no way to cross over, but upon a narrow plank. This made them think of Christian and Hopeful when they asked the "shining ones" if there was no way to the " Celestial City " but through the river. Again they came to a large river in which there were a great many crocodiles. It was not safe to swim across this river, and so there was a little boat kept there to take people over. Now Kafaravy and her friend did not like to ask the boatman to take them a cross the stream, because the queen had made a law that every one who crossed this stream should be closely questioned; and they would not have told a lie even to save themselves from being taken back and put to death. Yet there was no other way to get across, and so they ventured to ask a passage in the boat .It so happened that the boatman had just taken over some soldiers, and, thinking that these two women belonged to the same party, they asked them no questions. And thus the Lord delivered them again from their enemies. At length, after eight weary days and nights of fear, anxiety, pain, and suffering, they reached Tamatave. Here they met Mr. Johns at the house of a friend who secreted them. There they read, and prayed, and rejoiced, together. They had some narrow escapes from their enemies even here; but Mr. Johns finally got them on board a ship, in which they sailed to England, where they could enjoy their religion unmolested.