I HAD grown very tired of being a sailor. I was so tired of it that I made up my mind to try something else.
It happened that I was then in Brazil. I bought some land there and began to open a plantation. The ground was rich, and it would be easy to raise tobacco and sugar cane.
But I needed many things. I must have plows and hoes and a sugar mill. Above all I must have men to do the work on the plantation.
But neither men nor tools could I get in Brazil.
I sent to London for the tools. I tried to buy some slaves of the planters near me, but they had not enough for themselves.
"We will tell you what to do," they said. "We will fit out a trading vessel for Africa. We will put aboard of it everything that you need. As for your part, you shall be the manager of the business; and you shall do the trading for us. You need not put in a penny of your own."
"But how is that going to help me?" I asked.
"Listen, and we will tell you," they said. "With the goods which we send, you will buy as man black slaves as the ship will hold. You will bring them here, and we will divide them equally. You shall share with us, just as though you had paid the money."
The plan pleased me very much. I figured that each one of us would have thirty or forty slaves.
It was very foolish of me to go to sea again; but the offer was so good that I could not say No.
The ship was soon fitted out for the voyage. Her load was not very heavy. But there were plenty of goods such as were most fit for trade.
There were boxes of red and blue beads, of bits of glass, and of other trinkets. There were also knives and hatchets and little looking-glasses. We reckoned that each one of these would buy a slave.
The ship was to carry fourteen men besides the captain and myself. She was as fine a little vessel as ever sailed from the coast of Brazil.