I then sent the Balyuz and the three newly-arrived men round to the front of the camp, where Lieutenant Burton and the other two officers were sitting, to be interrogated as to the purpose of their visit. We all at first naturally suspected them of being spies sent to inspect our dispositions and resources; but after a long palaver with Lieutenant Burton, he concluded that their coming there was accidental, and not designed. True to their nature as Easterns, who from constant practice can forge lies with far greater facility to themselves than they can speak simple truths, bringing in with the readiest aptitude the application of immediate circumstances to harmonise appropriately in the development of their tale, these men at once made use of the circumstance of the arrival of the vessel that evening, saying they merely came down to ascertain if the ship was not full of building material, as it was currently reported amongst their clan, the Habr Owel, that their old enemy, Shermarkey, the chief of Zeylah, was lying with other vessels in the port of Siyareh, waiting an opportunity to land at Berbera and take occupation of the place by building forts, as he had done on previous occasions. This story seemed the more probable from the fact that everybody knew Shermarkey wished to have the place, and that he would at any time have taken it, had it lain within his power to do so.
The more to impose on our credulity, they further asked, with an air of indignation, "How could you suspect us of any treacherous intentions towards you, when you know us to be men of the same tribe as your Abbans?" The palaver over, these wolves in sheep's clothing were allowed to sup on dates with our men, and depart at their pleasure.
At the usual hour we all turned in to sleep, and silence reigned throughout the camp. A little after midnight, probably at one or two A.M., there suddenly arose a furious noise, as though the world were coming to end: there was a terrible rush and hurry, then came sticks and stones, flying as thick as hail, followed by a rapid discharge of firearms, and my tent shook as if it would come down. I bounced out of bed, with pistol and dirk in hand, and ran across to the central tent to know what was the matter, and if we were to have any shooting. Lieutenant Burton, who was occupied in trying to load his revolver, replied there was: "Be sharp, and arm to defend the camp." This I immediately did, stepping out in front of his tent; but though I saw many dusky forms before me, it was too dark to discern whether they were friend or foe.
Whilst standing, in hesitation how to act, stones kept whizzing over and around me, and I received a blow with one in the inside of my knee, which nearly knocked my leg from under me; it came from the left, where I had not been looking. I then ran under lee of the fly of the tent to take a better survey, and, by stooping low, could perceive the heads of some men peeping like monkeys over the boxes. Lieutenant Burton now said, "Don't step back, or they will think we are retiring." Chagrined by this rebuke at my management in fighting, and imagining by the remark I was expected to defend the camp, I stepped boldly to the front, and fired at close quarters into the first man before me. He was stooping to get a sight of my figure in relief against the sky; he fell back at the discharge, and I saw no more of him. Proceeding on, I saw some more men also stooping; I fired into the foremost, and he likewise fell back, but I do not know that I hit him. I then fired into a third man at close quarters, who also receded, possibly uninjured, though I cannot say. I was now close to the brink of the rising-ground, entirely surrounded by men, when I placed the muzzle of the Dean & Adams against the breast of the largest man before me, and pulled the trigger, but pulled in vain; the cylinder would not rotate; I imagine a cap had got jammed by the trigger-guard. In a fit of desperation, I was raising the revolver to hit the man in the face with it, when I suddenly found my legs powerless to support me, and I was falling, grasping for support, and gasping for breath, I did not then know why, though afterwards I discovered it was caused by the shock of a heavy blow on the lungs.
In another instant I was on the ground with a dozen Somali on the top of me. The man I had endeavoured to shoot wrenched the pistol out of my hand, and the way the scoundrel handled me sent a creeping shudder all over me. I felt as if my hair stood on end; and, not knowing who my opponents were, I feared that they belonged to a tribe called Eesa, who are notorious, not only for their ferocity in fighting, but for the unmanly mutilations they delight in. Indescribable was my relief when I found that my most dreadful fears were without foundation. The men were in reality feeling whether, after an Arab fashion, I was carrying a dagger between my legs, to rip up a foe after his victim was supposed to be powerless. Finding me naked, all but a few rags, they tied my hands behind my back, and began speaking to me in Arabic. Not knowing a word of that language, I spoke in broken Somali, and heard them say they had not killed any of the English, and would not kill me.
The man I had last endeavoured to kill was evidently the captain of the gang; he now made me rise, and, holding the other end of the rope to which my hands were attached, led me round to the rear of the camp, taking great precaution not to bring me in contact with many men at once, fearing lest they might take the law into their own hands, and despatch me against his will and authority. Arrived on the interior or rear side of the camp, men kept flocking round me, and showed a hasty anxiety to stab their spears into me; all, doubtless, were anxious for the honour of drawing the white man's blood, but none, in my captor's presence, dared do it.
I was now becoming very weak and faint, and almost unable to breathe; for the fact was, when I was knocked down, it was done with such violence by a shillelah on the lung breast, my whole frame was stunned by it, so that I could not feel; but now a swelling had set in, which, with the tightness of the skin drawn over the chest, by my hands being tied behind, nearly prevented respiration. I begged my captor to untie my hands and fasten them in front. He obligingly did so. I then asked for a little water and something to lie down upon; they were both supplied. Feeling myself somewhat revived, I began a rambling conversation with my captor, who sat by my side still holding the string, when several other men came and joined in the talk. They began a mocking tirade in their own language, of which I understood but little and could answer less; when an Aden donkey-boy (judging from his appearance) came with a jeering, sarcastic sneer, and asked me, in Hindustani, what business I had in their country, and where I had intended going, adding, were I a good Mohammedan like themselves, they would not touch me, but being a Christian I should be killed. This ridiculous farce excited my risible faculties, and provoked a laugh, when I replied, Our intentions were simply travelling; we wished to see the country of Ugahden, and pass on to Zanzibar. I was a Christian, and invited them, if it must be so, to despatch their work at once. On the donkey-boy's communicating this to the bystanders, they all broke into a rude boisterous laugh, spun upon their heels, and went off to open out the property. Nothing as yet had been taken away. Several wounded men were now brought and placed in a line before me; they groaned, and rolled, and stretched their limbs, as though they were in agonies of pain, and incessantly called for water, which was readily supplied them. In the rear I heard the sound of murmuring voices, the breaking of boxes, and ripping of bales of cloth, as though a band of robbers were stealthily dividing their unlawfully-gotten spoils in silence and fear of detection.
Just then the day began to dawn, and the light increased sufficiently to disclose what had been done. The tents were down, the property was lying in order on the ground, the camels and ponies were still picketed in their places, and all the robbers were standing looking on. At this juncture my captor and protector gave his end of my string over to the care of another man of very mean aspect, ordering him to look after me, and see that nobody came to injure me, whilst he retired in the direction of the property, and, selecting two fine stalwart men of equal proportions with himself, came again in front of me; then linking arms, and sloping spears over their shoulders, they commenced a slow martial march, keeping time by singing a solemn well-regulated tune, in deep, full, stentorian voices, until they completed the full circuit of the camp, and arrived again in front of me. This, I imagine, was their "Conquering hero comes," the song of victory. It was well sung, and had a very imposing effect, greatly increased by the dead silence which reigned in every other quarter. I felt quite sorry when this act was over, and would willingly have had it encored. From the orderly manner and regularity with which everything was done, I judge this to be a fair sample of the manner in which all plundering parties are conducted. The song and march were no sooner at an end than the whole ground became a scene of busy, active life. Every man, save the one who was holding my string, rushed in a regular scramble upon the property, and, like a legion of devils, began tearing and pulling at everything in promiscuous confusion, to see who could carry most away. Some darted at the camels and began pulling them along, others seized the ponies and began decamping; others, again, caught up the cloths, or dates, or rice, or anything they could lay hands on, and endeavoured to carry them off. But this was not so easy; there were too many men to be all satisfied, and those who had least began wrangling with their more fortunate competitors, who, on their part, not wishing to relinquish anything they had obtained, forcibly contested for their rights.
A more complete and ferocious melee I never witnessed. The whole ground was a scene of pull devil, pull baker, and victory to the stronger. As one man, hurrying along, was trailing his cloth behind, another rushed at it and pulled him back; clubs were unsparingly used, and destruction threatened with spears; what would not easily succumb to pulling, was separated with stabs of the spears or cuts of their knives. The camels and ponies were not more easily disposed of; by snatching from one hand and snatching from another, they were constantly in different people's hands. It was a scene very like that of an Indian poultry-yard, when some entrails are thrown amongst the chickens, and every fowl tries to rob the other.
Whilst all were intent with deep earnestness in this scramble, an alarm was suddenly given that another party were coming down the hills to fight and rob them of their spoils. The disordered band were instantly panic-stricken; for a moment or two there was the deadest silence; and then everybody, save some forty or fifty men who were probably more experienced hands, burst across the plain, flying in long jumps, and hurrying with all their might towards the hills. I heard afterwards it was not an unusual practice in this land of robbers for one party to get up an attack upon a caravan, and then another one, getting wind of their design, to project a plan of despoiling them as soon as they shall be in such a disconcerted melee that they would not be able to act in concert to support one another.
Whilst they were away, three fine-looking men came, with some of our soldiers' sabres; and one, standing over me, threatened, with ferocious determination in his countenance, to cut me in two. Twice he lifted his sword above his head, and brought it down with violence to within an inch or two of my side, and each time withdrew it, as if suddenly repenting of his purpose. I stared him earnestly in the face, but neither flinched nor uttered any noise. They then left me, and went to join the other forty thieves. I conceive this demonstration was made with a view of testing my pluck, and had I cried or implored for mercy, I should inevitably have been killed upon the spot. The last and worst scene in this tragedy was now to be performed.
My jailer, who was still holding the string, stepped up close to me, and coolly stabbed me with his spear. I then raised my body a little in defence, when he knocked me down by jobbing his spear violently on my shoulder, almost cutting the jugular arteries. I rose again as he poised his spear, and caught the next prod, which was intended for my heart, on the back of one of my shackled hands; this gouged the flesh up to the bone. The cruel villain now stepped back a pace or two, to get me off my guard, and dashed his spear down to the bone of my left thigh. I seized it violently with both my hands, and would not relinquish the gripe until he drew a shillelah from his girdle, and gave me such a violent blow on my left arm, I thought the bone was broken, and the spear fell helplessly from my hands. Finding his spear too blunt for running me through by a simple job when standing still, he now dropped the rope-end, walked back a dozen paces, and, rushing on me with savage fury, plunged his spear through the thick part of my right thigh into the ground, passing it between the thigh-bone and large sinew below.
With the action of lightning, seeing that death was inevitable if I remained lying there a moment longer, I sprang upon my legs, and gave the miscreant such a sharp back-hander in the face with my double-bound fists that he lost his presence of mind, and gave me a moment's opportunity to run away; which, by the Lord, I lost no time in doing, taking very good care, by holding my hands on one side, not to allow the dangling rope to trip me up. I was almost naked, and quite bare upon the feet, but I ran over the shingly beach towards the sea like wildfire. The man followed me a little way, but, finding I had the foot of him, threw his spear like a javelin, but did not strike me, for I bobbed, and allowed it to pass safely over my head; he then gave up the chase. Still I had at least forty more men to pass through, who were scattered all about the place, looking for what property they could pick up, before I could get safe away. These men, seeing the chase, all tried to cut off my retreat.
However, I dodged them all by turns, running fast across them, and bobbing as they threw their spears after me, until I reached the shore, when I had the satisfaction of seeing the last man give up the pursuit and leave me to myself. I was now fast fainting from loss of blood, and sat gently on a mound of sand, picked the knots which bound my hands open with my teeth, and exposed my breast to the genial influences of the refreshing sea-breeze, which at sunrise, as this was, is indescribably pleasant. But what a gloomy prospect was now before me!! I was growing weaker every minute; my limbs were beginning to stiffen and the muscles to contract, and I thought there was no help probably nearer than Ain Tarad; what was to be done? I could not travel the distance, and I must perish miserably by slow degrees, from starvation and exhaustion, in the dreary desert; far better, thought I, had the spear done its worst, and no lingering would have followed. Whilst reflecting in this strain, my eyes, wistfully gazing on the few remaining huts of Berbera, lit upon some female figures beckoning to me, but I could not divine who they were, or what was their meaning.
I rose as a last hope, and hobbled towards them, for my right leg was nearly crooked up double, and was so weak it could not support the weight of my body but for an instant at a time. Drawing nearer, I discovered them to be the four women whom we the evening before permitted to join our camp. Just then I saw some men hurrying from the eastward along the shore, endeavouring to meet me.
These, I soon perceived, were the old Balyuz and several of our servants. As soon as they arrived, they told me all that had happened. Immediately on the outbreak, the soldiers fired their guns, and all but one or two at once departed. Stroyan, he supposed, was killed at the outset; Lieutenants Burton and Herne had run away with him immediately after I left the central tent to fight. The former had been speared in the face, the latter had been much bruised with war-clubs, and some of our men had received severe sword-cuts. After escaping from the fight, Herne took refuge in the empty huts of Berbera, and at daybreak sent a servant to detain the Ain Tarad vessel, which had so providentially come in the previous evening. My companions were then on board of her, and had sent the Balyuz with the men to search for me, and pick up anything they could find.
I was now carried to the vessel, and stretched upon the poop in safety, and felt more truly thankful for this miraculous escape than words can tell. It is only after a deliverance of this kind one fully values or can properly appreciate the gift of life. My companions seemed downcast and full of sorrow for the sad misfortune which had so disastrously terminated our long-cherished hopes, and had deprived us so prematurely of an old and valued friend, especially dear to me, as he was a thorough sportsman. For courage, daring, and enterprise, as well as good-fellowship, there never lived a man more worthy of esteem than poor Stroyan.
Lieutenant Burton had sent a boat's crew off to near the site of our camp, a distance of three miles, to fetch away anything that might remain there, and bring it to us. They found the place deserted, with only such things left as the Somali could make no use of, and were too cumbersome to carry away; such, for instance, as grain, boxes, books, and various scientific instruments, which, after being wantonly injured, were left scattered on the ground. It appeared, by accounts brought back, that many of the men who ran off at the first false alarm never ventured back again to help themselves from the spoils. They had now destroyed about L1500 worth of property, but had enriched themselves but very little, for, whilst fighting, they had destroyed in the scramble nearly everything of any worth to themselves. When the boat's crew returned with Stroyan's body, it was found to be too late to sail that evening.
During the time of waiting, a poor man, with no covering on his body, crawled up to the vessel, and implored the captain, in the name of Allah—the fakir's mode of begging—to give him a passage to Aden. His prayer was answered, and he came on board. He was a Mussulman, born in Cashmere, and had been wandering about the world in the capacity of a fakir; but was now, through hunger and starvation, reduced to a mere skeleton of skin and bones. His stomach was so completely doubled inwards, it was surprising the vital spark remained within him. On being asked to recite his history, he said, "I was born in the 'happy valley' of Cashmere; but reduced circumstances led me to leave my native land. When wandering alone in some woods one day, I had a visitation, which induced me to turn devotee, and wander about the world to visit all places of pilgrimage, carrying only a bottle and a bag, and ask charity in the name of God, who supplies the world with everything, and takes compassion on the destitute. At first I travelled in India, visiting its shrines and temples, and then determined on crossing the sea to see what other countries were like. Taking passage at Bombay, I first went to Muskat in Southern Arabia, and thence travelled overland to Aden, begging all the way, and receiving kind hospitality wherever I spent the night. In Aden I remained a while, and by constant begging accumulated sufficient property to purchase food for a considerable time, when I again set out, in the name of Allah, to see what the Somali Land was like. At first I went across to Kurrum, and lived there as long as my little stock held out, but I could get no assistance from the people of the place. The stock exhausted, I was spurned from every door. At last, despairing of obtaining anything on the coast, I ventured to see what the interior would produce, but I found the Somali everywhere the same; they were mere hywans (animals), with whom no human beings could live. A man might travel in Arabia or any other place in the world, but in the Somali Land no one could exist. Finding myself reduced to the last stages of life, for no one would give me food, I went to a pool of water in a ravine amongst the hills, and for the last fortnight have been living there on water and the gums of trees. Seeing I was about to die, as a forlorn hope I ventured in this direction, without knowing whither I was going, or where I should come to; but God, you see, has brought me safely out."
20th.—This morning we weighed anchor, and in two days more arrived in Aden.
Thus then ended my first expedition,—a signal failure from inexperience, and with a loss of L510 worth of my own private property, which I never recovered. I had nothing to show but eleven artificial holes in my body. Had we gone straight from Aden, without any nervous preliminary fuss, and joined the Ugahden caravan at Berbera just as it was starting, I feel convinced we should have succeeded; for that is the only way, without great force, or giving yourself up to the protection of a powerful chief, that any one could travel in Somali Land. Firearms are useful in the day, but the Somali despise them at night, and consequently always take advantage of darkness to attack. Small-shot and smooth-bore guns, on this account, would be of far greater advantage as a means of defence than rifles with balls; and nothing but shot well poured in would have saved us from this last attack. We have been often condemned for not putting on more sentries to watch; but had the whole camp been in a state of ordinary preparation for war, with such cowardly hearts as our men all had, we should have been as signally defeated. We now set sail from Berbera, all highly disgusted with our defeat; and at Lieutenant Burton's request, we said we would go with him again if the Government would allow it.
On arriving in Aden, I was a miserable-looking cripple, dreadfully emaciated from loss of blood, and with my arms and legs contracted into indescribable positions, to say nothing of various angry-looking wounds all over my body. Dansey now gave me a room in his house, and bestowed such tender care on me as I shall never forget. Colonel Coghlan also, full of feeling and sympathy for my misfortune, came over and sat at the feet of my bed, with tears in his eyes, and tried to condole with me. Fever, however, had excited my brain, so I laughed it all off as a joke, and succeeded in making him laugh too. The doctors next took compassion on me, formed into committee, and prescribed, as the only remedy likely to set me right again, a three years' leave to England, where, with the congenial effects of my native home, they hoped I should recover. Lieutenant Burton now sent in an estimate of all loss to the Government, and advised, as the best plan of taking an effectual revenge upon the Somali, in whose territories we were attacked (the Habr Owel), that a ship should be sent to blockade their coast, with a demand that they should produce for trial in Aden the living bodies of the two men who so cruelly killed our lamented friend, and so wantonly endeavoured to despatch me. Further, that a sum of money equivalent to all our aggregate losses should be paid in full ere the blockade would be raised. This was considered the wisest method by which, in future times, any recurrence of such disasters might probably be avoided. It is needless to observe, considering the importance of Berbera to the welfare of the Habr Owel, their subsistence and their existence as a nation depending on it, that anything might have been exacted from them that we wished to extort, or they could afford to give. The Government, unfortunately for our pockets, were of a different opinion; they would have nothing to do with money exactions when human blood had to be avenged. Moreover, they had been wishing to suppress the slave-trade, and found in this occurrence a favourable opportunity to indulge their hobby. They therefore established a blockade of all the coast-line between Siyareh and Jibal Elmas, demanding, as the only alternative by which it would be raised, the surrender of the principal instigators of the outrage on us for trial in Aden, of whom the first in consequence was Ou Ali, the murderer of Stroyan. When the season for the fair arrived, the only vessel present in the Berbera harbour was a British man-of-war, and the Habr Owel then believed we were in earnest. Until then, it appeared, they would not believe it, thinking our trade in Aden would suffer by this proceeding as much as their own. They were, however, mistaken; trade found an outlet at other places; and they, by its suppression on their grounds, were fast sinking into insignificance. Seeing this, they showed by urgent prayers a disposition to treat on any conditions we might like to impose on them, and even sent in for trial to Aden a man who showed the scar of a gun-shot wound on his back, and at the same time declared their intention of forwarding all others to us as soon as they could catch them.
To make the matter short, I shall give intact the articles of a treaty which was signed at Berbera on the 7th November 1856, between the Honourable East India Company on the one hand, and the Habr Owel tribe of Somali on the other, as it appears in an appendix (D), in a 'History of Arabia Felix or Yemen,' by Captain R. L. Playfair, Assistant Political Resident, Aden.
During my residence in Aden, which lasted three weeks, or until the second mail after my arrival took its departure for Suez, my wounds healed up in such a marvellously rapid manner, I was able to walk at large before I left there. They literally closed as wounds do in an India-rubber ball after prickings with a penknife. It would be difficult to account for the rapidity with which my wounds closed, knowing, as everybody who has lived in Aden must do, that that is the worst place in the world for effecting cures, had I not, in addition to a strong constitution which I fortunately possess, been living for many months previously in a very abstemious manner, principally, as appears in the body of the journal, on dates, rice, and sour curds.
I now left Aden on "sick certificate," and arrived in England in the early part of June 1855. The Crimean war was then at its height, and the military authorities were beating up for recruits in every corner of the land. This summons for war was irresistible. I was suffering a little from blindness, brought on probably by my late losses and impoverishment of blood. Still I lost no time in volunteering my services to take part in this great national object, thinking it was a duty, as a soldier, I owed my country, and delighting in the prospect of immediate and active employment, where, at any rate, I should be in Europe and enjoying the temperature I had come home to seek. The Turkish Contingent was then being incorporated, and I was, being an Indian officer, competent to serve in it. With an introduction from friends, I wrote a letter to Major Graham, an officer appointed by the Horse Guards to engage officers for General Vivian's contingent, giving him an account of my past services, and asking for an appointment with the army. He at once closed with me, declaring "I was just the sort of man he wanted," and, granting two weeks' leave to prepare an outfit, told me to be off. In a fortnight more I arrived in Constantinople, and was posted to a regiment of Turks, with the commission of Captain. The Turkish Contingent was now at Buyukdere, but was soon ordered to embark in vessels and proceed to Kertch in the Crimea. I went with them, and remained serving until the close of the Crimean war. My commandant, Major Greene, being otherwise employed, I, as second in command and Kaimakan of the 16th regiment of infantry, took its headquarters back, and disbanded them at Constantinople.
Whilst I was engaged in these parts, and thinking there would be no further chance of my being able to return to Africa, I had made up my mind, at the expiration of the war, to try my hand in collecting the fauna of the very interesting regions of the Caucasian Mountains, and had even gone so far as to purchase guns and equip myself for it. Captain Smyth, of the Bengal Army, an old and notorious Himalayan sportsman, had agreed to accompany me, and we wrote home to the Royal Geographical Society to exert their influence in obtaining passports, by which we could cross over the range into the Russian frontier; but this scheme was put a stop to by Dr Shaw, the Secretary of that Society, writing out to say there would be very little hope of our being able to obtain the passports we required, and that he thought the time ill-advised for working in those regions, adding, at the same time, that an expedition to explore Africa was again being organised under the command of Captain Burton, and advising me to join it. By the same mail I received a communication from Captain Burton himself, inviting me to join him once more in exploring Africa, saying there would be no expense attached to it, as the Home and Indian Governments had each promised to contribute L1000. This settled the matter. Without a second thought I disposed of my Caucasian equipments, and, taking a passage to England by the first mail, travelled night and day until I again reached home, deeming, as I did on the first expedition, that I might just as well nurse my furlough for a future occasion,—the fact being that I was more of a sportsman and traveller than a soldier, and I only liked my profession when I had the sport of fighting.
JOURNAL OF A CRUISE ON THE TANGANYIKA LAKE.
The Royal Geographical Society—The Strange Lake on the Map—Set Off—Arrive at Zanzibar—A Preliminary Excursion—A Sail along the Coast—The Pangani River—A Jemadar's Trick—Journey up Country—Adventures—Return to Zanzibar—Scenes there—Objects of the Expedition—Recruiting for Followers—The Cafila Bashi—The Start—Fevers—Discussions about the Mountains of the Moon and the Victoria N'yanza—The Tanganyika.
On my arrival in England, the first thing I did was to visit Captain Burton, and obtain an introduction to the Royal Geographical Society, under whose auspices I was about to travel. I next visited the Society, and here was revealed to me, for the first time, the great objects designed for the expedition in question. On the walls of the Society's rooms there hung a large diagram, comprising a section of Eastern Africa, extending from the equator to the fourteenth degree of south latitude, and from Zanzibar sixteen degrees inland, which had been constructed by two reverend gentlemen, Messrs Erhardt and Rebmann, missionaries of the Church Mission Society of London, a short time previously, when carrying on their duties at Zanzibar. In this section-map, swallowing up about half of the whole area of the ground included in it, there figured a lake of such portentous size and such unseemly shape, representing a gigantic slug, or, perhaps, even closer still, the ugly salamander, that everybody who looked at it incredulously laughed and shook his head. It was, indeed, phenomenon enough in these days to excite anybody's curiosity! A single sheet of sweet water, upwards of eight hundred miles long by three hundred broad, quite equal in size to, if not larger than, the great salt Caspian.
Now, to the honour of Admiral Sir George Back be it said, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and an old explorer himself in the Arctic regions, that he had determined in his mind that this great mystery should be solved, and that an insight should be gained into those interesting regions, concerning which conjectures and speculations had been rife, and which had caused so many hot debates for so many ages past amongst all the first geographers of the day; debates which, hitherto, nobody had been found energetic enough to set at rest by actual inspection of the country.
Casting about for a man fitted to carry out his plans, the Admiral hit upon Captain Burton, who had recently returned from Constantinople, where he had been engaged with the Bashi-Bazuks; and it was thus, through Sir George's influence in the Royal Geographical Society, that Captain Burton had now been appointed to the command of this expedition.
A difference now arose about the Government L2000 in aid of the expedition. The Foreign Office had paid their L1000, but the India House thought Captain Burton's pay ought to be considered their share. Finding this was the case I objected to go, as I did not wish, for one reason, to put myself under any money obligations to Captain Burton; and, for another reason, I thought I had paid enough for a public cause in the Somali country, without having gained any advantage to myself. Captain Burton, however, knew nothing of astronomical surveying, of physical geography, or of collecting specimens of natural history, so he pressed me again to go with him, and even induced the President of the Royal Geographical Society to say there need be no fear of money if we only succeeded. I then consented to go, determining in my own mind, somehow or other, to have my old plans, formed in India, of completing my museum, carried into effect, even if, after all, the funds of the expedition did not suffice. Captain Burton now gave me a cheque for my passage out of the public funds; but my incorporation with the expedition was not quite so easy as had been expected; for the Government in India at this time were using every endeavour in their power to increase their Indo-European forces, and had written home to Leadenhall Street an urgent desire that no officers should have their leave extended, or be placed on duty out of India; and for this reason, the India House authorities, although privately evincing a strong disposition to permit my going, felt it necessary to withhold their sanction to it. I was now between two fires. I had sacrificed my Caucasian expedition, and could not speak with the authorities in India. So, to cut the matter short, with a kind hint from my friend Sir Henry Rawlinson, as I had still nearly three years' furlough at my disposal, I ventured over with Captain Burton by the overland route to Bombay, and tried my luck again.
This time, fortunately, it turned up trumps; for I need only say that the Governor of Bombay at this time was Lord Elphinstone, a man whose large and comprehensive mind was not only able to discern the frown of a pending mutiny looming in the distance, but whose quick foresight, backed by a great and natural unremitting energy of body, was subsequently able to forestall and provide, as far as human powers extend, against its thundering outburst. He saw at a glance of how much importance to the improvement of the commercial objects of his presidency this exploring expedition was likely to be. The Secretary to Government, Mr Anderson, who was equally of this view, treated the matter as a great national object, and, at the request of Captain Burton, drew up an official application to incorporate me in the expedition, and sent it to the Government at Calcutta, with the recommendation of his lordship; whilst I, in anticipation of the sanction of the Governor-General, Lord Canning, was permitted to accompany Captain Burton to Zanzibar in the Hon. East India Company's sloop-of-war Elphinstone, commanded by Captain Frushard, I.N., and commence operations at once.
This vessel had been detached especially on this duty to meet Captain Burton's views, that a political importance should be given to the mission by our arriving in Government official state at the starting-point, in order to secure the influence and respect of the sultan reigning there.
After a residence of one week at Bombay, during which time I completed our outfit in scientific instruments and other minor points—for this charge was reposed in me, owing to my previous experience in those matters—we set sail on the 3d December 1856, taking two Goanese cook "boys," by name Valantine and Gaetano, with us as servants, and in eighteen days landed at our destination, Zanzibar. The kindness of Captain Frushard, who shared his cabin with us, as well as the constant attentions of his officers, combined with pleasant weather and a liberal fare, provided for us by the Bombay Government in the capacity of political envoys, made the time occupied on the voyage fly quickly and very agreeably.
Immediately on arrival at the island of Zanzibar, we were warmly received and welcomed by our consul, Colonel Hamerton, an Irish gentleman, and one characterised by the true merry hospitality of his race. He had been a great sufferer, by the effects of the climate operating on him from too long a residence in these enervating regions; but he was, nevertheless, vivacious in temperament and full of amusing anecdotes, which kept the whole town alive. He gave us a share of his house, and what was more, made that house our homes. His generosity was boundless, and his influence so great, that he virtually commanded all societies here. Our old and faithful ally, the Imaum of Muscat, who, unfortunately for us, had but recently died, was so completely ruled by him, that he listened to and obeyed him as a child would his father.
The present ruler of Zanzibar—that is, of the coastline, with all the islands which lie between the equator on the southern confines of the Somali country and the Portuguese possessions in Mozambique—is Sultan Majid, the second son of the old Imaum; for it must be remembered that the Imaum, at his death, divided his territories, then comprising Muscat in Arabia, and Zanzibar in Africa, into two separate states, giving the former, or Muscat, to his eldest son, Sayyid (Prince) Suweni, whilst the latter was bequeathed to his favourite, the second son, Sayyid Majid, now styled Sultan. Sultan Majid was born of a Circassian woman, and in consequence is very light in complexion; and, taking much after the inclinations of his father, is likely to become as great a favourite as was the old Imaum. Zanzibar island is the seat of government, and consequently the metropolis. The town contains about sixty thousand inhabitants of all nations, but principally coloured people, of which the Suahili, or coast people, living on the opposite main, predominate in number, though they are the least important. Of the merchants, there are several European houses, comprising French, Germans, and Americans; and numerous Asiatics, mostly from Arabia and Hindostan,—the Suahili ranking lowest of the whole. There are also three consuls, an English, French, and American, who look after the interests of the subjects of their respective governments.
We found, considering it would take more than a month to organise an expedition, that we had arrived here at the very worst season of the year for commencing a long inland journey—the height of the dry season in these regions, when water is so very scarce in the more desert tracts of the interior of the continent, that travelling, from want of that material element, is precarious; and it was just before the commencement of the vernal monsoon, or greater rainy season, when everything would be deluged.
Considering this, and giving due deference to the opinions of the travelling merchants of this place against our organising at once for the interior journey to the great lake, Captain Burton bethought himself of gaining a little elementary training in East African travelling, by spending the remainder of the dry season in inspecting various places on the coast; and, if a favourable opportunity presented itself, he felt desirous of having a peep at the snowy Kilimandjaro Mountain, of which the Rev. Mr Rebmann, who first discovered it, had sent home reports, and which had excited such angry and unseemly contests amongst our usually sedate though speculative carpet-geographers in England as rendered a further inspection highly necessary.
Now, as the Royal Geographical Society had desired us to place ourselves in communication with Mr Rebmann, who was then at his mission-station, Kisuludini, at Rabbai, on a high hill at the back of Mombas, and to try and solicit him to go with us into the interior, where it was thought his experience in the native languages would be useful to the expedition,—my companion hired a small beden, or half-decked Arab vessel, by the month, to take us about wherever we pleased; and on the 5th January 1857, having engaged a respectable half-caste Arab Sheikh, named Said, to be our guide and interpreter, we took leave of our host, set sail, and steered northwards, coasting along the shores of this beautiful clove island, until we left it, and shortly afterwards sighted the still more lovely island of Pemba, or "The Emerald Isle" of the Arabs—named, doubtless, from the surprising verdure of its trees and plants. Here we called in at Chak-chak, the principal place, where there is a rude little fort and small garrison of Beluch soldiers, and a Wali, or governor. Starting the following morning, we put to sea again, and in three days—sailing against a strong southerly current, aggravated by a stiff north-easterly breeze, almost too much for our cranky little vessel, and which frightened the crew and our little timid Sheikh so much that they all lost presence of mind, and with the greatest difficulty were repressed from "'bouting ship," and wrecking themselves, together with us, on the shores of the coast—we harboured in the Mombas creek.
Mombas on the north, like Kilua on the south, are the two largest garrison towns belonging to the Sultan on the main shores. They each have a Wali or governor, custom officers, and a Beluch guard; and have certain attractions to the antiquarian in the shape of Portuguese ruins. We left our traps here to be housed by a Banyan called Lakshmidos, the collector of customs, and started on the 17th January to visit Mr Rebmann, beyond the hills overlooking this place. It was a good day's work, and was commenced by rowing about ten miles up the Rabbai branch of the creek we were in, until we arrived at the foot of the hills bearing the same name, beyond which his house stands. This inlet was fringed with such dense masses of the mangrove shrub, on which clung countless numbers of small tree-oysters,—adhering to their branches in clusters, and looking as though they subsisted thereon after the manner of orchidaceous plants,—that we could obtain no view whatever, save of the hills towering to the height of some ten hundred or twelve hundred feet above us. The water-journey over, we commenced the ascent of Rabbai, and, soon crowning it by a steep slope, passed into the country of the Wanyika, the first true negro tribe of my acquaintance, and by a gentle decline passing through quiet little villages, we entered, after a walk of five miles, the Kisuludini mission-house, and there found Mr Rebmann, with his amiable English wife, living in their peaceful retreat. They gave us a free and cordial welcome and comfortable lodging, and supplied us with all the delicacies of a dry Wanyika season, for there was now a drought in the land, and consequently a famine. So hard were the times for the unfortunate negroes, that they were forced against their wills to support the bulk of their families by the sale of some of its junior members to keep themselves alive.
And now, according to Mr Rebmann, to aggravate their predicament, they were on the eve of a more dreadful enemy still than famine,—that of the attacks of a marauding party of the barbarous pastoral Masai, a neighbouring tribe, who were now out engaged in pillaging some of the Wanyika villages, not far from this, of the few heads of cattle which they keep as a "safety-valve" against the scourge of droughts. The oddest thing to me was to see the placid equanimity with which Mr Rebmann and his wife coolly delayed a day or two, notwithstanding the near proximity of this savage band of thieves, to pack up their kit comfortably before leaving the place; but we were assured by the reverend gentleman that the Masai cared but little for anything save beef, and they therefore did not apprehend rough usage at their hands. The air of this high land is cool and pleasant, and the scenery from the station overlooking the sea was very picturesque and serenely beautiful. The Rabbai hills are an outlying range running parallel to the coast, or more properly, I should say, an abattis, which supports a high but slightly depressed flattish interior, gently declining westwards.
After a good night's rest we returned to Mombas, housed ourselves in the dwelling appointed for our use by Lakshmidos, and had many civilities paid us by the Wali (governor) and coloured merchants of the place, who brought us fruits and paid us other delicate little attentions by way of showing their regard. The Wanyika having by this time sent to the Mombas fort for aid to support them against the attacks of their enemies, we felt some alarm at the position of Mr and Mrs Rebmann, and again returned to Kisuludini, to see if we could be of any use to them: but not so; they were as fearless as before, and would not leave their house until everything had been well packed up and sent away. We now bade them adieu a second time, and returned to our house at Mombas. Here we heard that several of the Beluch troops had been despatched against the Masai, and that some skirmishes had taken place, but they were nothing of any material consequence.
Seeing that there was this little excitement on the direct road to Kadiaro and the Kilimandjaro, Captain Burton thought it unadvisable to venture on that line, the more especially so as he judged the Mombas people were not over-well disposed to our travelling into the interior. Further, he had heard of fresh attractions on the coast, in the shape of ruins, both Portuguese and Persian;—those places from which, in former ages, the Portuguese—who had been led there by the adventurous Vasco de Gama, and were the first European occupants of these dark lands—were driven southwards by the Arabs. Moreover, he heard that the mountain of Kilimandjaro was just as accessible to us from Tanga or Pangani, a little farther down the coast, where there would probably be no war-parties standing in our way, as the case was here.
I, on the other hand, did not see any cause of alarm, for I thought we could easily have walked round the Masai party; but I saw various reasons for abandoning the projected plan of looking at the Kilimandjaro. In the first place, it had been already discovered by Mr Rebmann; it was, moreover, rather distant for our limited time; it would require more money than our limited funds could admit of; and last, though not least, as we had some time to spare, I thought it would be much more agreeable to spend it in hippopotamus-shooting on the coast, and on what game we might find on the hills of Usumbara, if we perforce were to go through that kingdom on our way towards the Kilimandjaro, an idea that had struck us; for though Usumbara had been traversed formerly by the Church missionaries, it was still a maiden country for the sportsman. Considering Mombas as a starting-point for an excursion into the interior, I can conceive no direction more interesting or advantageous for any one to embark upon. Dr Krapf has already been as far as Kitui, in the country of Ukambani, fourteen marches distant only from Mombas, and there he heard of a snowy mountain called Kenia, lying probably to the northward of and on the same hill-range as Mount Kilimandjaro, which most likely separates the river-systems of the east from those which flow to the westward into the Nile. In confirmation of this impression, I would mention the fact that a merchant caravan of about two hundred men, whilst we were stopping here, arrived from Kitui laden with elephant ivories, which they had bartered for American sheeting, Venetian beads, and brass wire, &c. &c., in the district of Ukambani; and they described the country in the most glowing terms, as possessing a healthy climate, pleasant temperature, wholesome water, and an abundance of provisions, both flesh and grain: they had, moreover, camels and donkeys as beasts of burden, which alone denotes a great facility for travelling in Eastern Africa, where usually men take the place of beasts. The Wakambani porters belonging to this caravan, as many as there were, were boisterous, humorous savages, who, as they danced and paraded about the town, all armed in savage fashion with bows and spears and sharp knives, in fact anything but clothes, looked as wild as animals just driven from a jungle. Noise and dancing seemed their principal delight, and they indulged in it, blowing horns and firing muskets with a boisterous glee, which showed the strangest contrast to the tame Hindus and other merchant residents of the place.
Captain Burton now decided on quitting Mombas; and on the 24th January, after embarking in our little beden, we set sail southwards. Following the coastline, we touched at the villages of Gasi, Wasin, Tanga—where I had my first flirtations with the hippopotami, of which more hereafter—and Tangata, to inspect ruins and make inquiries about the interior condition of the country.
The coast-line was one continuous undeviating scene of tropical beauty, with green aquatic mangroves growing everywhere out into the tidal waves, with the beetal, palmyra, and other palms overtopping this fringe; and in the background a heterogeneous admixture, an impervious jungle, of every tree, shrub, and grass, that characterise the richest grounds on the central shores of this peculiar continent. The little islands we passed amongst, and all the reefs that make these shores so dangerous to the navigator, whether large or small, were the produce of the industrious little coral insect. The lime with which their cellular beds are composed being favourable to vegetable growth, leaves it no wonder that the higher grounds and dryer lands are thus so densely clothed. The few villages there are, bordering on the coast, are poor and meagre-looking, but their inhabitants were very hospitable, especially where there were any Banyans. Nothing could exceed the mingled pride and yearning pleasure these exotic Indians seemed to derive from having us as their guests. Being Indian officers, they looked upon us as their guardians, and did everything they could to show they felt it so. Our conversing in their own language, and talking freely of their native land, must, as indeed they said it did, have felt to them as if after a long banishment they were suddenly thrown amongst their old and long-lost friends. To us how strange did these things appear! that men so full of life, good-breeding, intelligence, and affections—so meaning and calculating in their conversation, so gentlemanly in their behaviour—should live this life of utter banishment, amidst these savages, devoid of all sympathetic affections, and knowing not even what things constitute the commonest business of life. And why? To make a little money for their latter days, when life's enjoyment has passed away. Their wretched case would not be so bad, only that, from being Hindus, they cannot marry or even bring their wives from India with them. It is a position even worse than that of hermits. Tanga was the most considerable of all the places we visited, being the grand terminus of those caravans, which, passing immediately to the south of the Kilimandjaro, traverse the Masai country to Burgenei, near the south-east corner of the Victoria N'yanza (Lake). Here Captain Burton again commenced making inquiries about the route to Kilimandjaro, and how, if that could not be managed, considering the means at our disposal, we could march into Usumbara, see the capital Fuga, and pay the king, Kimueri, a cursory visit; but being more or less dissuaded from this, evidently, as it afterwards appeared, by the timorous inclinations rather than from any real difficulties which presented themselves to the mind of our Sheikh, Captain Burton thought it better to see first what could be done at Pangani.
We arrived in the mouth of the Pangani river on the 3d February; and, immediately on landing, were met by all the grandees of the place, who welcomed us as big men, and escorted us to a large stone house in the town overlooking the river. On the way to this domicile, a number of black singers were formed in line to serenade us, and they danced and sang in real negro peculiarity, with such earnest constancy that, although a novel sight, we were glad to be rid of them long before they were tired of performing. All inquisitive about other people's concerns, the Panganyites at once eagerly busied themselves to find out what our intentions were in coming there, and accordingly began to speculate on what they could make out of us. First the Diwans (head-men) wanted us to pay our footing in the town; but that only provoking a sharp rebuff, they began a system of "making difficulties." To go to the Kilimandjaro we must have a large and expensive escort, or nobody would go with us. But this we were not persistent in, for two reasons: in the first place, having frittered away so much time at Mombas, and in inspecting ruins on the way from it, we had no time left ere the kuzi, or little rains precursory to the great monsoon, which would shortly set in on the high lands near the Great Mountain, would fall and impede our progress; and, in the second, we were short of cash. Next we contemplated a flying trip to Fuga, for which alternative Sultan Majid had provided us with introductions to the king, Kimueri, living there; and this, of course, being known to the people through the medium of Sheikh Said, they at once beset our doors to meet our proposals and make fresh difficulties.
King Kimueri's son, who happened to be here on his way to Zanzibar, presuming we had presents for the king, mildly begged us to give them up to him at once, he securing us a passage to his father,—a cool request, which, of course, was just as coolly rejected. And now everybody, evidently actuated by him, stood in our way at every turn. We must not go the straight road, as the Wazegura living on the right bank of the Pangani river were "out," and in open hostilities with the Wasumbara, and would intercept our passage; and, instead, they proposed our going via Tangata, a much longer route, but open to us if we only took a sufficient number of men, and paid handsomely for the convenience. Considering that the value attachable to the undertaking would be magnified in our minds in proportion to the amount of obstacles which had to be surmounted, difficulty upon difficulty was now conjured up and produced as fast as they thought they were working upon our inclinations. Sometimes our advisers would go, and then the opposite. They were verily as coy in their advancements and retractions as a woman who, in love, gives and takes with a wavering man on whom she has set her heart at a time when he is fearful of giving way to her little seductive artifices.
At this perplexing juncture, quite unforeseen by us, the jemadar of a small Beluch garrison (Chogue), about seven miles up the river, came to pay his respects, and by a clever artifice—purely an Oriental dodge, as anybody who has lived in India will readily admit—at once perceiving an advantage to be gained by which he might profitably fill his own pocket at the same time that he would save ours, and give a job to his own Beluches to the prejudice of those avaricious Panganyites, offered us an inducement which was too good not to be at once accepted. The plan was simply this: He was to leave at once and return to Chogue, and make arrangements with his guard for our reception there, whilst we, feigning abandonment of all our plans, were to prepare for a shooting excursion up the river, with only one servant and our sporting gear with us. This trick succeeded admirably, without provoking the slightest suspicion on anybody's part. Leaving our Sheikh and one "boy" behind to take care of our property, we now set sail in a small canoe, on the 6th February, and made for Chogue. The river was extremely tortuous and filled with hippopotami, who, as the vessel advanced up the tidal stream, snorted and grunted as if they felt disposed to dispute our passage; but this never happened. Inquisitive in the extreme about the foreign intruders, they could not resist continually popping up their heads and apparently inviting us to take a shot, which, as may readily be imagined, I lost no opportunity in complying with. Whether I killed any or not is difficult to say, for as the guns were fired their heads immediately disappeared, to rise no more, or, if not struck, to peep above again some way distant at our stern. To shoot hippopotami properly, one must have time to wait for the receding of the tide, when, if killed, their bodies would be left exposed on the sandy bottom; or, if in deep water, to wait until, being filled with gases, they would float by the buoyancy of their bodies.
There was little to be seen in this voyage of any interest, for the curtains of mangroves, with palms and other trees growing in almost impenetrable denseness, veiled in our view to the limits of the stream's breadth. As the tide was running out at sunset, we halted for its return at Pombui, a small village on the left bank, and resumed the journey after midnight. In two hours we reached the mooring-place opposite the station, Chogue, fastened the canoe, and lay down to sleep. Early after dawn, the jemadar, with his guard, advanced to meet us, welcomed us with sundry complimentary discharges of their matchlocks, and escorted us to their post. The jemadar's guard was composed of twenty-five men, most of whom were here, whilst the other few held another fort on the top of a hill called Tongue. Volunteers were now called for to accompany us, who would carry each his arms, a little food, and such baggage as might be necessary—just enough to march up rapidly to Fuga, to have a little shooting in some favourable jungles near there, and return again as soon as possible. There was no difficulty, as the jemadar foresaw. The Beluches receive so little pay from their sultan that any windfall like this was naturally welcome; and out of the little garrison five men were readily enlisted; besides these, they supplied four slave-servants, and two men as guides.
With one day's delay in preparing, we left Chogue in the evening, and commenced a scrambling journey; all the men fully loaded, and ourselves much the same.
On the morning of the following day, after travelling by a footpath over undulating country, we mounted the hill of Tongue, and put up in the fort.
Mount Tongue is itself an outlying hill, detached from the massive clusters of Usumbara by a deep rolling valley of broken ground of desert forest, which as we afterwards saw by their numerous tracks, must contain, during the rainy season, vast herds of the elephant and buffalo, as well as antelopes and lions, though but few animals of any kind appeared to be here now. Looking south by west from this height over the broad valley of the Pangani, I was able to take compass bearings on some cones in the Uzegura country, belonging to the Nguru hills. The whole country below appeared to be covered with the richest vegetation, and in the river we could hear the murmuring sound of a waterfall, said by the Beluches to be a barrier to the navigation of the river any farther inland.
10th February.—Early in the morning we bid Tongue Fort adieu, and, descending by its northern slopes, threaded our way, arching round by north to westward, through the forests below, until late in the evening we arrived within a short distance of a hill called Khombora; and here, as the darkness of night was closing in, the party by accident divided: some, taking a more northerly track—the proper one—soon came across a nullah containing water,—the thing we were then in search of; whilst we, following on the heels of the guide, lost the way, and, coming upon the same watercourse lower down the stream, bivouacked for the night alongside some green, fetid, stagnant pools, in which a host of young frogs were keeping up a merry concert. We fired guns, but without avail, the distance we were separated by being too great for the reports to be heard.
Next morning, after following up the nullah for some considerable distance, we lit upon the rest of the party, sitting by a chain of pools, where they had bivouacked like ourselves; and, mingling together, commenced the march. At this time it was discovered that the surveying compass had been left behind, and I wished to return at once; but as Captain Burton was knocked up, and would not wait for me, the instrument was abandoned. Then, with the party complete, we passed to the northward of Khombora, by an indenture of the ground lying between it and a much larger hill, called Sagama, which hill forms the south-eastern buttress of the Usumbara masses; and opening into the valley of Pangani again, we put up at a Wazegura village on its right bank, called Kohode, crossing the river by a ferry. Here my companion, with all the party—save one exceptional Seedi soldier, Mabarak Bombay who knew a little Hindustani, and acted as my interpreter—stopped a day, to recover from the fatigues of the late harassing march, for they appeared thoroughly knocked up, and to revel on a feast of milk and flesh which, with great cordiality, was supplied them by Sultan Momba, a Wazegura chief. We were now fifteen miles distant from the compass, and I called on volunteers to forsake these festivities and follow me back to get it. It was a great trial, and Bombay of all the party was the only man who could be induced to go; but he, as will be seen in many subsequent parts of this book, was ever ready to do anything for anybody, and cheerfully started off with me. The first thing which we saw after crossing by the ferry was a dead hippopotamus, lying on the greensward of the alluvial plain, encircled by a number of savages (Washenzi), all armed with bow and arrows, looking wistfully at their prostrate game. The animal was scarcely cold, and lay on the ground like a large shapeless hog bristling with arrows. It appeared from their statements that these savage hunters had been waiting on the plain for several hours before daybreak, expecting the animal on his retreat from his nocturnal excursions under the lee of the Sagama hill, in quest of rank grasses and forest-trees growing there, which compose his ordinary food, to make for a certain deep place in the river, by which means he would have to cross the plain exactly where they posted themselves: they were not mistaken. The beast advanced at the usual time for going to his watery abode, and the savages at once surrounded him on the plain; by firing arrows from all sides at once in rapid succession, the huge awkward beast knew not which man to set on first, and in its constant, fruitless, angry endeavours to reach the last assailant, he soon became exhausted, and was eventually overpowered.
We now passed on to the nullah, followed it down to the place of bivouac, found the compass, and returned. In the bed of the nullah there were numerous pools, both large and small, but all were rapidly drying up, and destroying the numerous fish they contained; for as this desiccation increased, and the pools became smaller, the fervid sun heated the little remaining water to such an overpowering extent, that the fish, half suffocated, turned on their backs and became an easy prey to the numerous green-and-brown-striped iguanas that eagerly thronged their brinks for food. As we approached, these horrid-looking reptiles hurried off like frightened cats to their hiding-places, some bearing fish away in their mouths, whilst others, less composed, dropped what they had half devoured, to evade us all the more readily. This intense fear of man is caused by their being the negro's game, who eat them with the same kind of pleasure and relish which a Frenchman has for frogs. Cheerily did we trip along, for Bombay—astonished at my oddities or peculiarities, as he thought them, when I picked up a river shell, or dilated much on the antelopes and birds we sometimes saw—broke into a series of yarns about his former life, and of the wild animals with which he was familiar in his fatherland. He seemed to me a surprisingly indefatigable walker, for he joked and talked and walked as briskly at the end of thirty miles as he did at starting. As the sun was setting we repassed the place where the hippopotamus had been slain, but not a vestige of his flesh or a bone remained to mark the place—every morsel had been carried off for food. Ferrying across the river, we were heartily met by the boisterous, mirthful Sultan Momba, who instantly on our landing shook us heartily by the hand, commented on our walking powers with enthusiastic pride, invited us to his palace (grass hut), and gave us a royal repast.
13th February.—We started early in the morning, and after crossing the Pangani, took to the beaten track and followed up the valley. Nearly at the outset we passed over the Luangera river, close to its junction with the Pangani, by a tree thrown across it. The stream, though not broad, is deep and sullen, and, by native report, is infested with crocodiles. This may easily be imagined, for the Pangani, a much rougher, and therefore a less favourable river for them, undoubtedly is so. Here, near the junction of these two rivers, their united valleys cause a much greater expanse of alluvial ground; and had we turned northwards, we might have reached Fuga in two short marches, by crossing over a mountain spur called Vugiri; but in consideration of our men, who had to carry unusually heavy burdens, we determined to follow on our course up the valley by a lower and more easy road, passing round instead of over this spur. With the Vugiri hills overhanging us on the right, like a bluff high wall, prettily decked with bush and tree, and the boisterous Pangani murmuring on the left hand, which now in many places was divided by little inhabited islands, we tracked along the valley until we reached Pasunga, when we left the river still coming from the north-west, and then, turning sharply round the extreme western point of the Vugiri spur, we entered on a cultivated plain in a direct line facing Fuga. Here, on the second day, being overtaken by a fierce storm, we put up in some sheds outside a village. There were three small cones, called Mbara, close to us west by north; but besides these, to the northward, there was nothing save an uninterrupted plain of the densest jungle leading up to the Makumbara mountains, about ten miles distant. The village itself was enshrouded in a dense thicket, which was entered by the narrowest of passages, cut through branches for security's sake, and was further protected by piles and stakes against the attacks of enemies. Everybody here feels an insecurity to life and property, which makes people wonder how they ever can be happy. Prosperous they are not, and never will be, until such time as enlightened men may happen to come amongst them to teach their chiefs the art of governing. Of all villages the most secure from attack seem those that are situated on the river islands, where the division of the stream affords a natural moat, which no African art can overcome.
15th February.—After waiting for a few hours this morning for the rain to subside, we got under way and made straight for Fuga. The first half of the journey led us by well-beaten footpaths through flat cultivated fields of sugar-cane and bananas, tamarind-trees, papaws, and various jungle shrubs, filling up the non-arable surface; and then began a steep ascent by rudely-beaten zigzags, to ease the abruptness of the hill, on which the capital is situated. The whole face of this hill was clothed with large timber trees, around which, here and there, entwining their trunks, clung the delicate sarsaparilla vine; and beneath them flourished, as by spontaneous growth, the universal plantain, a vegetable grown in this country as we do corn, and, like it also, regarded as the staff of life. At length, after a little hard toiling, we emerged from this prodigious wooding, and found ourselves on a naked, bold, prominent point overlooking the whole plain we had left behind, and from which we could clearly see its entire dimensions. To the northward, as already said, was the Makumbara range, a dense compact mass of solid-looking hills, much higher than the spur we stood upon, but joining it to the north-eastward; whilst its other extremity shot out to the north-westward, until it seemed as though it were suddenly cut off by the Pangani river.
Beyond the river, again, looking across the western extremity, but farther back than it, other large hills, bedimmed by distance, could be seen tending in a south-westerly direction, which in all probability are a link of the longitudinal chain, which, as our maps will show, fringe the whole of the southern continent of Africa. The country directly beyond the river valley rose into gentle undulations, but on this side all was flat and densely wooded, save in one little spot to the north-west of the Mbara cones, where a sheet of water or small lake made a bald conspicuous place—and here it was, by native report, that elephants and other large game abounded.
Having now completed the survey, we proceeded along the shoulder of the hill just ascended, and passing by a ferruginous spring, soon arrived unexpectedly to its inhabitants at Fuga, the capital of Usumbara, and presented ourselves to the astonished Fugaites, who naturally began to question what could possibly be the meaning of this stolen march on them; for, contrary to the laws of the land, no permission to enter their citadel had been asked, and consequently no one was prepared to see or receive us. Access to the village was strictly forbidden to us strangers, until at least the king, whose palace is situated some distance from it, had been consulted with in a certain form of ridiculous ceremony, which, for politeness' sake, we felt ourselves bound to assent to, but in the meanwhile we took possession of some huts close to it, where Mr Krapf, our Church missionary, had some years previously, when visiting this place, taken up his abode.
A deputation was now sent with our compliments to the king, Kimueri, soliciting an audience; and just before sunset they returned to say we must remain where we were for the present, as the king was in doubt about our intentions, regarding us with suspicion, as we had come through the territories of his enemies, the Wazegura, which was tantamount to a hostile declaration; and, moreover, he required leisure for his mganga or magic-man to divine what time would be propitious for an interview. The old man was in the wane of life, being upwards, it was said, of one hundred years of age, and his people thought he must die. Hearing this, Captain Burton, playing with his superstitious credulity, devised a plan by which he at once gained access to him. The king was lying on a cartel in a small round hut, encompassed on his near side by swarthy-looking counsellors, who smoked small pipes and sat on low three-legged stools. Sultan Majid's introductory letter was now read, and all seemed satisfied as to who we were. We then returned to our lodgings, and found a bullock and some meal of Indian corn and plantains sent as a honorarium after us. Next morning, agreeably to promise, at the king's direction, a guide came to show us about the place, in order that Captain Burton might be able to pick some leaves or herbs to make a certain decoction which would insure longevity; but as none such could be found, and the old king had seen through the trick, entrance to the "town" was still forbidden.
Whilst wandering about, however, we chanced to see a number of negroes turn out and chase down an antelope. It was a very small rufous-brown animal, much about the size and shape of the Kakur deer of the Himalayas; but what struck me most was, the peculiarity of its having, unlike all hitherto known African species, four points of horns. In consequence of this great novelty, I tried to purchase its head, but the greedy savages who caught it, coveting the flesh, would not, for any consideration, let me have it, and I never saw another killed. Rain poured down in torrents at night, and the days remained so cloudy, that we felt the kuzi or little monsoon had now fairly set in, and the sooner we could get away from the high lands so much the better for us. In the evening (15th February), therefore, we sent our return presents to the king, and asked permission to be allowed to go. A very civil reply was given, with certain additions, for which I could not help admiring him; but he would not accept the present, and we might go whenever we pleased.
Thinking to obviate to the best of my ability any differences with these benighted but cunning people, and to leave as favourable an impression of our visit as I could, I advised Captain Burton to distribute amongst the ministers those things which had been brought for the king, and this accordingly was done, but not without considerable debate, and the finally reluctant sanction of the king. The next morning (16th February) saw us descending the heights of Fuga, and in a few hours' walk we left the cool congenial air incidental to 4000 or 5000 feet, for the hot, damp, morbid, close atmosphere of the jungle plains below, in which, as Miss Nightingale would say, you could palpably smell a fever. Then following the old route, we came down to the Pangani; and in three days' travelling along it, as Captain Burton, being no sportsman, would not stop for shooting, we put up once more at Kohode, with Sultan Momba.
19th February.—To vary the way and gain a better knowledge of the river, we now determined to follow it all the way down to Chogue, which we made on the third day, spending the two intervening nights at the Wazegura villages of Kiranga and Kizungu. The valley, though much varied, was generally contracted by the closing in of the rolling terminal abutments of the Tongue hill, on the one side—with rising land, and little conical hills almost joining, which overhung the river on the right bank in Uzegura, on the other side. We seldom met any people on the line of march; and the land being totally uncultivated, excepting in the immediate vicinity of these villages, we felt as though we were travelling through a desert wild of dreary jungle—which, indeed, it was. No animals, and scarcely any birds, moved about to cheer and keep the road alive; and all was silent, save the constant gurgling, rumbling sound of the river's waters as they rushed rapidly over boulders and often plunged down many little falls in the bed of the stream. On passing the point opposite to Tongue Fort, we saw the cause which produced the sound like a cataract, which formerly we had heard when standing on its summit. It was, indeed, a cascade of considerable dimensions, and would, doubtless, be a sight of pleasing grandeur when the river is full.
In the afternoon of the 22d, as we approached Chogue, the little Beluch jemadar, with the rest of the guard, turned out to welcome us, and gloat over the successful termination of an artful trick he felt himself the father of. He spread mats for us to sit upon, and brought the universal coffee-pot and some sweetmeats as a relish to refresh us and increase the triumph; for the little man, no doubt, thought he had gained his prize.
The next three days were spent in making different excursions, shooting hippopotami in the vicinity of the outpost; and on the 26th February we returned to Pangani, Captain Burton dropping down the river in a canoe, whilst I, to complete the survey of the country and to check my former work on the river, walked with Bombay to Pombui, ferried across the stream there, and came by the right bank down to Bueni, on the shore of the Pangani Bay. Here I recrossed the river again, and found Sheikh Said and my "boy" Gaetano, with all the traps arranged, ready at the old house for our reception. Our vessel had been discharged at the expiration of the first month's engagement, and we were now expecting a second one from Zanzibar, to continue the cruise southward along the shore, and gain a fuller knowledge of the various entrepots of caravans. I had by this time become much attached to Bombay, for I must say I never saw any black man so thoroughly honest and conscientious as he was, added to which, his generosity was unbounded; and I thought (as we shall see afterwards proved to be the case) he would turn out a most valuable servant for the future journey—a regular "Friday." The only difficulty now was how to obtain his discharge from the service he was in; but this the jemadar, who followed us down to Pangani to receive the wages for the men who accompanied us to Fuga, said he would arrange, if Bombay felt willing, and would leave a substitute to act for him whilst he was away. A compact was accordingly concluded, by which Bombay became my servant for the time being, at five dollars per mensem, with board and lodging on the journey found him. The jemadar now left us, with a present for himself and the hire of his men, and we were all alone.
On the 1st March a violent bilious fever attacked me, and also floored Captain Burton and Valantine. It appeared in the form of the yellow jack of Jamaica, and made us all as yellow as guineas; and had we been able to perspire, I have no doubt we should have sweated out a sort of yellow ochre which a painter might have coveted. In this state we lay physicking ourselves until the 5th, when a vessel chartered by the Consul, and stored with delicacies of all kinds by our generous, thoughtful old host for the journey southwards, arrived, and took us off. Captain Burton being still under the influences of this terrible scourge, and very ill, even to absolute prostration, and occasionally wandering in his mind, he gave up his projected plans, and we returned at once to Zanzibar, reaching it on the 6th March.
The Masika, or great vernal rainy season which follows up the sun as it passes to the north, broke over the island of Zanzibar this year early in April, and was expected to last for its normal period of forty days. For this to subside we had now to wait here as patiently as we could, occupying the spare time so forced on us in purchasing an outfit and in preparing for the journey. It was highly interesting to see here at this season of the year, as we well could do, so near the equator, the regular systematic procession of the wind and rain following up the sun in its northward passage. The atmosphere, at this time and place, was heated and rarefied by the vertical rays of the sun; that produced a vacuum, which the cold airs of the south taking advantage of, rush up to fill, and with their coldness condense the heated vapours drawn up daily from the ocean and precipitate them back again on the earth below. This occurring and continually repeating day by day, for a certain time, nearly in the same place, fills the air with electric excitement, which causes thunder and lightning to accompany nearly every storm. The atmospheric air's being so surcharged with electricity was palpably felt by the nervous system; at any rate, judging from myself, I can only say I experienced a nervous sensibility I never knew before, of being startled at any sudden accident. A pen dropping from the table even would make me jump. Whilst stopping here, the Colonel's house was one continuous scene of pleasure and festivities. The British Consulate was the common rendezvous of all men: Arab, Hindi, German, French, or American, were all alike received without distinction or any forced restraint. Indeed, the old Consul literally studied the mode of making people happy; and Zanzibar, instead of being an outlandish place, such as to make one wonder how men could exile themselves by coming here, was really a place of great enjoyment. The merchants, on the other hand, were not less hospitably inclined, and constantly entertained and gave very handsome dinners.
Besides our Consulate, there is a French and an American one, and the European merchants were composed of French, Germans, and Americans,—the dark-coloured ones being principally confined to Arabs, Hindis, and the Wasuahili, or coast people. Taking advantage of the time, especially the evenings, I spent most of them in rating the chronometers and getting all the surveying instruments into working order; whilst Captain Burton, besides book-making, busied himself in making all the other arrangements for the journey, such as purchasing Venetian beads, brass wire, and American sheetings, &c., which come here in shiploads round the Cape of Good Hope, or in buying donkeys for our riding and their transport. Then in the cool of the mornings we took social walks or rides through the clove plantations, or amongst the palms, mango-trees, and orange gardens, treating pine-apples, which grew like common weeds on the roadsides, as if they were nothing better than ordinary turnips, though when placed upon the table they are certainly as delicious as any living fruit. The only fine houses are those occupied by the Europeans and the Sultan, and they front the harbour, which is considered a very good one, and is very constantly filled with shipping, the Sultan's men-of-war, foreign square-rigged vessels, and a host of buggaloes from Aden, Muscat, Catch, and Bombay. The back of the town is very much like a common Indian bazaar, but there is a hollow square in its centre, which nowadays is peculiar to this place—it is the slave-market. Immediately after every fresh importation, you can see in the early morning unhappy-looking men and women, all hideously black and ugly, tethered to one another like horses in a fair, and calculating men, knowing judges of flesh and limb, walking up and down, feeling their joints and looking out to make a bargain. Women, of course, sell better than the men, being fitted to more general purposes. For a good wife any sum might be given. But the saddest sight which came under my observation was the way in which some licentious-looking men began a cool, deliberate inspection of a certain divorced culprit who had been sent back to the market for inconstancy to her husband. She had learnt a sense of decency during her conjugal life, and the blushes on her face now clearly showed how her heart was mortified at this unseemly exposure, made worse because she could not help it.