Barnum Institute of Science and Horror
led to a clearing, where I saw 2 score negro men waiting – standing in what I had learned to be traditional battle garb. The tallest wore a fantastic necklace of colorful feathers. There was no breeze, and it was hot – so hot that the large fire in the center seemed to give off nothing but light. Our translator explained that the man was the tribe leader, Zhaxa Quiata, and he would agree to our proposition under the condition that I accept “the woman” as my property and responsibility. He motioned towards a frail, crumpled figure just outside the light of the fire.
It seemed strange for them to insist on giving us a slave woman as additional merchandise, but the translator explained that she was likely sickly or depraved. “It is their custom to care for all members of the tribe, so she must be a very troublesome woman.”
Knowing I could simply sell or otherwise dispose of her, I agreed to this condition, and we sealed the deal in the traditional Xhosa fashion: grabbing each other’s shoulders and pressing our foreheads together.
It was then that Zhaxa Quiata burst into laughter, and issued the following warning: "It was only with great effort and sacrifice that we were able to poison and subdue her. And even still, she is able to use her evil voodu to curse us. Now that she is your property, her evil is contained by you, and she can no longer harm others before first
disposing of you. I am a man of honor, so I must warn you. You must watch over and maintain dominion over her. Only then, is her majic nullified. Sell her, as soon are you are able, for even in death her powers will be great, and she always seek vengeance upon you and your family."
I thanked Zhaxa for his honesty, and ordered one of my men to carry the woman back to our camp. She was almost catatonic, and quivered as those who have suffered from heart ailments. But her eyes were clear and piercing. She stared at me as she passed, and I felt very disturbed by her gaze.
Perhaps it was coincidence, or perhaps it was as Zhaxa had warned, but that very night several of our tents caught fire killing several men. The men were all charred nearly beyond recognition, but the man that had carried her back to camp was almost completely turned to ash. I do not believe in voodu or other such nonsense. But, nevertheless, I will keep the woman in my personal quarters during the sale back, and when we make land I will sell her to someone else as soon as possible.
November 3, 1834
The seas are quite stormier than usual. The ship’s Captain is very concerned that we may need to harbor until the weather settles, which could make the journey