Out of the Frying Pan

I found this post on the Ludicrous Scenes blog here. The original source was The Liverpool Echo, July 8, 1893.

It reads:

"Orchid-hunting leads to strange adventures. M. Hamelin, the collector who has sent home all the specimens of the Eulophiella Elizabethæ that have hitherto reached these shores, narrates in a letter how he won a bride and moreover secured his preserves of the famous plant from all poaching on the part of brother depradators – or, more euphemistically, plant-collectors.

"While searching the woods of Madagascar he had for guide and hunter the brother of the chief, Mayambosa. This unhappy guide had the misfortune to be so severely mauled by a Madagascar lion that he died, and M. Hamelin returned alone to tell the tale.

"After the recital, the irate chief gave the survivor the option of marrying the widow or being greased and burnt. He chose the lesser of two evils, but coupled with the marriage contract an undertaking on the part of his brother-in-law to close those lands to all other orchid-seekers."

At some point I'm going to do a post about Madagascan queen Ranavalona I. She had been dead several decades by this point, but if the book Flashman's Lady has taught me anything, it's that Madagascar during the Victorian era was frickin' scary. A lot of scholarship, albeit much older scholarship, depicts her as an insane tyrant whose forced labor and inventive torture of her people is on the same level as practices in the Holocaust. I know more recent academic work has declared these stories mere rumors and is trying to recast her as a pragmatic monarch trying to do the best by her people. I don't know enough about her, either way, to make a judgment call.

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