The Project Gutenberg eBook of In Savage Africa

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: In Savage Africa

Author: Verney Lovett Cameron

Illustrator: Émile Antoine Bayard

Release date: August 1, 2018 [eBook #57624]
Most recently updated: January 24, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chuck Greif, deaurider and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


[Image of the book's cover unavailable.]


List of Illustrations
(In certain versions of this etext [in certain browsers] clicking on the image will bring up a larger version.)

(etext transcriber's note)



[Image unavailable:]

On the Look-Out.

Page 48.



Verney Lovett Cameron, C.B., D.C.L.,
Commander Royal Navy.

[Image unavailable:]

Surf-Boat Capsized.

Page 82.

Thomas Nelson and Sons,



In Savage Africa


The Adventure of Frank Baldwin
From the Gold Coast
To Zanzibar.



With Thirty-Two Illustrations.







List of Illustrations.

ON THE LOOK-OUT,Frontispiece





In the year of our Lord 18—, I was delighted one morning by receiving a letter from my father, who was captain and owner of the brig Petrel, telling me that he had arrived safely at Bristol with a valuable cargo, and that both he and my brother Willie, who was second mate of the Petrel, were well. The letter went on to say that my father had decided on taking me to sea with him, and had written to my schoolmaster, the Rev. Stephen Poynter of Clifton, to announce his intention. The letter also said that in two days’ time Willie would come to take me away from school, and that I was to have everything ready for starting when he came. According to the custom of the school, I had received my letter in the ten minutes which were given to us for a run in the playground before commencing our work after breakfast, and, as may be imagined, I lost no time{10} in announcing its contents to my school-fellows, considering myself a very fine and important fellow to have finished my school days. The bell stopped short a description of the Petrel in which I was indulging, and we all had to hurry in and take our places at prayers, and when they were finished, to commence our ordinary tasks. I took my place at my desk, and opened my books. I must own, however, I did not think much of what they contained, and, under their cover, I tried to read over again my father’s letter which had announced the coming change in my life. I could not help thinking that it was very wrong for the head-master to keep such an important personage, as I had now in my own estimation become, sitting on a hard bench at a black desk to con over rules of arithmetic, and I kept looking at the door of the class-room to see if old Abe the porter would not come to summon me to the head-master’s presence.

Indeed, my inattention became so marked that twice the usher of the room said, “Baldwin, if you don’t go on with your work I shall have to punish you.” He was just on the point of leaving his seat to come over to me, when at last the door opened, and old Abe appeared, calling out, “Master Baldwin, wanted in the head-master’s study.” Usually, such a summons was the reverse of pleasant, for it meant, as a rule, that the boy who was called out had to answer for some mischief, and he was loath to answer the call. I, however, having a free conscience, jumped up at once;{11} and the usher, who did not know of my approaching departure, said, “There, Baldwin, you’re wanted by the head-master. I suppose you have been up to some mischief, and that anticipation of your punishment has caused you to be inattentive.”

I smiled to those of my comrades to whom I had shown my letter, and went past the usher with a sort of swaggering show of independence; and he very rightly made me return to my seat and leave the room properly. As soon as I left, old Abe led the way to the double doors which separated Mr. Poynter’s private residence from the schoolrooms, and of which only he and the masters had the keys, and opened them, saying with a grin as he did so,—

“He hasn’t chosen the cane yet; what is it you have been up to?”

“Nothing, Abe. I’m going to leave.”

“Going to leave are you, and the holidays a month off yet! What is it for?”

I somewhat resented old Abe’s familiarity, with whom the boys were on the best of terms, and said in as dignified manner as I could, “I’m going to sea.”

“Going to sea, is it? Well, you’ll wish yourself back here before long. Going to sea! Salt beef and weevilly biscuit won’t suit as well as what you get to eat here.”

“I shan’t have salt beef and weevilly biscuit; I’m going in my father’s ship the Petrel.”

“Well, I never heard of a ship yet where there was{12}n’t salt beef. But now the master mustn’t be kept waiting; just you hurry on to his study.”

I went along a passage on which the doors opened, and crossing the hall, knocked at Mr. Poynter’s study door. As soon as I had knocked I heard Mr. Poynter say, “Come in;” and, opening the door, I found him sitting in his arm-chair, with my father’s letter in his hand. He motioned to me to sit down in a chair opposite to him, and said,—

“Frank, my boy, you know why I have sent for you, as your father tells me he has written to you that you are to leave us in a couple of days. Now, this will be a great change in your life; and although I think that most boys should stop at school till they are at least eighteen, you are now old enough to commence the life of a sailor. You are sixteen, are you not?”

“Yes, sir; I was sixteen two months ago.”

“I have little to say about the temptations to which you will be exposed, for as you will be under your father’s own eye, you will be shielded from many which usually assail the young; but remember always that, even if you are tempted to do what is wrong by the thought that your earthly father will know nothing about it, your heavenly Father’s eye is all-seeing, and that no thought or deed can escape him. For the five years you have been here you have given me satisfaction; but still, I have seen symptoms of self-will, and an inclination not always to obey with readiness. Remember that in a sailor instant and prompt obedience{13}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 12.



is absolutely necessary, as you will soon learn; and he who cannot obey will never be fit to command. As to your studies, your father will doubtless look after your navigation; and I will write to him and tell him what other subjects will, in my opinion, best repay your continued attention. Now I do not suppose you can pay much attention to your work, so you may tell Mr. Stone that as you are going to leave us so soon, I have excused you from further attendance in the school-room, and you may gather all your things together, in readiness for packing up.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said; and then, nerved to boldness by the kindness of Mr. Poynter’s manner, I begged that he would grant my comrades a holiday.

“That’s a big request, Baldwin. You must remember that they are not all going to sea, and have to fit themselves by study for their future callings; besides, in three weeks the examination takes place, and they want every moment to prepare themselves, so that they may do credit to the school before the examiners.”

“Yes, sir; but if I leave in two days I shall not be able to play in the cricket-match between the first eleven and the next fifteen, while if you gave us a holiday to-morrow we could play then.”

“That is, no doubt, a most important matter in your mind, but it is not so important to me. However, I will think about it. Now I have lots to do, so you must run away.{16}

I left the study rather slowly, and was almost about to urge my request again, when Mr. Poynter said, “Remember obedience;” and I at once saw that the ultimate granting of the holiday would depend on my being promptly obedient, and left without saying another word.

Old Abe was by the double doors to let me back into the school, and I said,—

“All right, old Abe; there are no more lessons for me.”

He looked at me and smiled, and answered,—

“No more lessons! why, my poor lad, you will find that all this life is one long lesson. You will have many a one to learn which will not be so easy as the tasks which they set you here. Now Mr. Stone won’t want you in the schoolroom, I’ll warrant; so if you go and tell him what the head has said, and then come back to me, I’ll just help you to get your box up, ready to pack your clothes and things in.”

I thought this was very good of old Abe, and did not think that all the boxes had to be got from the cellar, where they were kept by old Abe and his assistants. I went into the classroom, where I went up to Mr. Stone and said,—

“Please, sir, the head-master has told me I need do no more lessons, but that I may begin to get my things together, ready for going away.”

“Going away, are you! that is why you were so inattentive this morning, I suppose.{17}

“Yes, sir. My brother Willie is coming for me the day after to-morrow, and I am to go to sea with him and my father in the Petrel.”

“Very well, my lad; but you must not make a noise here, for there are boys who are not going to sea. So get away, and you can tell all about it when we come out of school at half-past twelve. Now don’t speak to any one, but go at once.”

I remembered “obedience,” and did as I was told. Leaving the room, I found old Abe waiting for me with the key of the cellar, and followed him down, and soon found my box, which with him I carried up into the dormitory which I shared with nine of my school-fellows. Here I found the matron and one of the maids busy getting my clothes ready for packing up.

When the matron, Mrs. Stevens, saw Abe and me carrying in my box, she said,—

“Now, Abe, don’t you know how particular Mr. Poynter is that none of the young gentlemen should carry their boxes about?”

“Why, ma’am,” he answered, “Master Baldwin’s going to sea, and he’ll have more hard work to do than help an old man to carry an empty box.”

“That will do, Abe. Mind, if I find you disobeying orders again, I shall tell Mr. Poynter.—Now, Master Baldwin, I do not think you can be any use here. I will leave out your best suit for you to go away in, and will have a place for your books. You had better go to the room and get all your belongings together in the{18} way of bats and balls, and pack them in your play-box.”

Old Abe and I left the room at once, and he said to me,—

“Now that’s done. She can’t abear an old man getting a bit of help. But, Master Baldwin, there are your rabbits and pigeons. Now, there’s not a boy among them all who takes care of their pets like you do. I wonder what will become of them!”

I certainly was flattered by what old Abe said, for I believed my white Himalayan rabbits, with their black noses and ears, and my pair of tumbler pigeons, to be the best of all the pets which were kept by the boys in the school playground; and I also prided myself that the rabbit-hutch and dove-cot, which I had made with my own hands, were superior to the various receptacles of the pets of my schoolfellows. I therefore fell into the trap which he had set for me.

“Why, Abe, I don’t know. There’s Jones Major, he has some pigeons, and looks well after them; and Brown too, he has lost his two carriers; and Smith, he has been wanting to buy my rabbits this long time.”

“Surely, sir, a gentleman like you, a-leaving school and going to sea, and all, can’t be thinking of selling his rabbits. Sailors are fine generous fellows, and they always give away things. I mind one I saw not a fortnight agone as gave an old man a ten-shilling bit. But don’t you be after giving them lovely rabbits to that young Smith; he don’t know how to feed or look{19} after them, and they’ll be dead in a week with him. And as for Master Brown, it’s my opinion he kept his carriers so dirty and half-starved, that when he let them out they made up their minds not to come back again. Now, sir, I could keep them nicely. I do love a good pigeon and a handsome rabbit; and I can warrant you that they’d be well taken care of.”

I had certainly had an idea of selling both pigeons and rabbits to pay some small schoolboy debts; but I felt my character as a generous sailor was at stake, and not to be outdone by the anonymous sailor who gave an old man a ten-shilling bit, I gave rabbits and pigeons to old Abe. He then asked me to come and look at my boots and shoes, and would soon have begged all from me if Mrs. Stevens had not arrived upon the scene and sent him about his work, grumbling sadly at being sent away from a young gentleman whom he always said “was the nicest lad he had ever set his eyes on.”

Mrs. Stevens told me I must learn not to be taken in; and when I said I had given my rabbits and pigeons to old Abe because he would look after them, she said, “Why, you must be foolish. Master Baldwin. He will sell them before you have left the place.”

By this time school-hours were over, and I was soon surrounded by all my class-fellows asking me for a description of the Petrel, and where she had been, and where she was going. As whenever my father had been at home I had passed my holidays with him, I{20} was fully able to say what the good brig Petrel was like. I believe that I was so proud of her that if all I said had been true she would have been as big as Nelson’s flagship the Victory, and that in her my father and brother had gone through as many adventures as Anson in the Centurion, or Drake and the brave hearts who, first of Englishmen, sailed round the world in the famous Pelican.

But these stories were all repetitions, for I had been wont to tell marvellous stories of the Petrel, her captain and crew, whenever I returned to school after having spent my holidays with my father. Far more interest was excited by the announcement that I had been bold enough to ask for a holiday for the next day, and that the governor, as we called Mr. Poynter, had shown some inclination to grant it.

As soon as the excitement had somewhat abated, Smith, Brown, and Jones Major, and other rabbit and pigeon fanciers, came about me to find out if there was any chance of their becoming the fortunate possessors of my Himalayan rabbits and tumbler pigeons; and great was their disappointment at finding that I had given them to old Abe, who, it was at once said, would sell them to the highest bidder.

I had to promise to bring home an army of monkeys and a whole brigade of parrots before I could appease the reproaches of those who, like me, were fond of pets; and then I had to give to my special chums such little schoolboy treasures as they might value for keepsakes.{21} In return many willing hands helped me to carry my books up to the dormitory to be packed up, and the bell rang for dinner whilst we were engaged about what we called helping (but which Mrs. Stevens called hindering) to pack my box.

After dinner I saw Mr. Poynter again, and from him obtained the promise of a holiday for the next day, the announcement of which was hailed with delight by the whole school; and great were the preparations for the cricket-match which was to take place.

I did not find as much pleasure as I had anticipated in being excused from school. It was very lonely work being about in the playground and fives-courts while they were untenanted, and, even with the prospect of having a stiff piece of construing to do, I would gladly have joined my class in their work. I was delighted when evening came, and with it the companionship of my fellows, to whom I might anew dilate on the Petrel and her crew. Indeed, long after we had gone to bed, my dormitory was the scene of acted feats of boarding pirates and other such-like deeds, until the noise made by one party, who with their bolsters represented the British sailors driving the pirates from their last retreat, brought Mr. Poynter on the scene. Then pirates and sailors, friends and foes, scuttled into bed and pretended to be most virtuously asleep; but a threat from the head-master, that if he heard any more noise the promised holiday should be withheld, caused our riotous antics to be discontinued for{22} the night, and our feigned slumbers soon became real ones.

Next morning dawned bright and sunny, and more pleasure was in store for us than I had anticipated; for my brother Willie arrived before the day commenced, and my father had told him to come to Clifton and see that I cleared out from school with all due éclat. When Willie found that Mr. Poynter had given us a holiday, he begged and obtained leave to add some fruit, cakes, and tarts to our dinner, which we were allowed to have in the cricket-field instead of returning to the schoolhouse for it, as was usually the custom.

I was in the eleven, and their most trusted bowler, and to-day it seemed as if I was bound to surpass myself, for wicket after wicket of the fifteen fell before my attack; and when our innings came. I, though I went in sixth, carried my bat out for thirty-five runs. In the second innings of the fifteen I was even more successful than in their first, taking no less than ten wickets for thirty-eight runs. In the end the eleven were victorious by an innings and seventeen runs.

My brother Willie, who had left the school about four years before, was known to several of the older boys, and his stories of what he had actually seen on the coast of Africa, where my father traded, quite eclipsed in interest all that I had told the day before. His sailor dress, bronzed face, and, above all, the tattooing with which his arms were ornamented, were the subjects of admiration of all my schoolfellows, those{23} who had been with him at school seeming to consider themselves as quite above those unfortunates who had joined the school since he had left.

Old Abe drew half a crown from him by saying that he was quite the finest young sailor whom he had ever seen. Indeed Willie, who was now nineteen, and fully five feet ten inches in height, was a picture of what the officer of a smart craft should be. His well-fitting blue clothes with brass anchor buttons suited his athletic figure admirably, while his dark curly hair, brown eyes, and open, smiling face were well calculated to win the affection of all who saw him.

I was delighted with the admiration he elicited, and though I was proud of my success that day in the cricket-field, I was still prouder of my handsome brother, and looked forward to the day when, on my return from some exciting voyage, I might, like him, have stirring tales of adventure to recite to my old chums. I little thought that before I again visited my old school I should pass through so many dangers and perils as fell to my lot.{24}



Next morning, my boxes having been sent down to the coach-office, Willie and I bade good-bye to my schoolfellows, Mrs. Stevens, and old Abe. I found, just before leaving, that Abe had sold my rabbits to Smith for seven shillings and my tumblers to Jones Major for five shillings; so that when I gave him the five shillings which was his allotted share of the money my father had sent me to make presents with, he had made nearly a pound out of me.

Our farewell from Mr. Poynter was last. He gave me much good advice and his blessing, and specially impressed on me what he had told me the day before about the necessity of obedience. “And now,” he said, “I will give you your sailing directions for life. Your brother can tell you that in all strange seas the captain consults his sailing directions in order to avoid shoals and dangers, and find out where there are safe anchorages. Life is a strange sea which has to be navigated by all of us, and the shoals and dangers are{25} sins and temptations. In this Bible you will find directions how you may steer clear of them, and in it also you will find refreshment for your soul when it is weary; and it contains directions how we may all at length attain to that haven for which we all long—the kingdom of heaven. God bless you, my boy; and tell your father that I have great cause to be satisfied with your conduct while under my care, and I trust he may find that his confidence in me has not been misplaced. Good-bye, Frank; and good-bye, Willie. Remember whenever either of you have time to come and see your old schoolmaster, you will be welcome. Remember me to your father. And now you must go, or you will be too late for your coach.”

We said good-bye to Mr. Poynter, and hurried away to the hotel from which the Bristol coach started. We found the horses being put to, and soon we were bowling along for Bristol.

I may now just tell in a few words the history of my family up to this time, so that my readers may understand any allusions that I may make in the course of this narrative of my adventures.

My father was the younger son of a Bristol merchant, and chose at an early age the sea for a profession; and as soon as possible my grandfather got him placed in command of one of the vessels trading between Liverpool and the West Coast of Africa. His only brother on my grandfather’s death left the business and settled down on a small estate in Somersetshire which he had{26} bought; and when my father was away from England it was at his house that my brother and I had usually spent our holidays.

My father had married shortly before the death of my grandfather, and having given up going to sea had taken up his position as a partner in the business. Two years after my birth my mother died, and my father, finding that his home was lonely without her, took command of one of the ships of the firm, his widowed sister Fanny, whose husband, Mr. Carter, had been unfortunate in trade, taking charge of his house and Willie and myself.

For some time my father’s ventures had prospered exceedingly; but there came a time when fire and shipwreck caused him heavy losses, and he found that he had not sufficient capital to employ more ships than the Petrel. At the time this story commences the Petrel had been launched about three years, and in it my father traded to the coast of Africa on his own account. He was already looking forward to the time when he could turn over her command to my brother, and, giving up the toil of a seafaring life, again settle down in his old house at Bristol on the quayside, where he would see the ships arriving and sailing, loading and discharging their cargo, and by his knowledge of trade find means to start me as well as my brother in a ship of my own.

My aunt Fanny was a second mother to Willie and myself, and, though a sailor’s sister, she had a horror{27} of the sea, and often begged my father to give up the Petrel, and earn a living as a merchant, finding some employment for us boys either in his own office or in that of some of his friends, who were numerous and influential. Her entreaties, however, were of little avail; and if my father did at times show signs of yielding to her arguments, Willie and myself were always in favour of a sailor’s life, and carried the day against her.

During the last voyage of the Petrel, my father, having visited Kinsimbo, where he had done a good trade with the natives, went as far south as St. Paul de Loanda, thinking that perchance at Loanda he might more quickly complete his cargo than he could elsewhere.

In this he had been greatly favoured; for a few days after he anchored, David Livingstone, a missionary from South Africa, arrived, having penetrated through countries which up to that time had been unknown, and was accompanied by some men belonging to a tribe called Makololo, who were seeking a market for their ivory. This ivory my father was able to purchase at a rate which returned him a fair profit.

Willie was full of what Livingstone, whom he regarded as a hero, had gone through, and he told me that even better and more exciting than the life of a sailor was that of a traveller and explorer in Africa.

“Only fancy, Frank, herds of elephants to be shot! adventures with lions and all sorts of strange people! Then Livingstone himself, he is loved by the natives,{28} and so doubtless would any man who treated them fairly. Livingstone could well have come home from Loanda, and every one at home would have run after him to hear what he had got to tell; but to all who urged him to return to England he replied that he had promised Sekeletu, the chief of the Makololo, to take his people back to their homes, and that he could not go back from his plighted word. He had an ox which he rode called Sindbad, and it was as good as any horse. I do wish father would let me try to travel in Africa. There are all sorts of people who come down to the coast with ivory and india-rubber to buy guns, brass rods, beads, and calico, and I am sure that a journey into the interior would bring more profit than a dozen voyages to the coast.”

I was quite infected with Willie’s African fever, and listened with a greedy ear to all the stories he told me of hunting and shooting which he had picked up from Livingstone’s men, and of the bravery and devotion Livingstone had shown.

These stories and descriptions of different places that the Petrel had visited in her last voyage made the time seem short, and I was almost sorry when the coach drew up in front of the Admiral Nelson.

“Welcome, Frank,” shouted my father, who was waiting for us. “Here’s Jack Adams,” pointing to a seaman who was standing by; “he will look after your traps, while we will go round by Harris the outfitter’s and give orders about your sea-going kit. And then, after{29} you’ve seen your aunt Fanny, you can go on board the Petrel, and Willie will show you where you’re to sling your hammock. Her stern is hauled to the quay just abreast of our door. There’s no place like Bristol quay for the house of a shipmaster and owner. Now, Will, what sort of report did Mr. Poynter give of the lad?”

“A good one, sir,” he answered. “And he wound up his school-days well by playing cricket as he had never played before yesterday.”

“That’s right, Frank; whatever you do, do it well. And though you won’t have much chance for cricket now, the same qualities which make a boy a good cricket-player are useful to the seaman.”

“O my dear father,” I said, “I am so glad to see you again, and to think that I am to go to sea with you, and not be long months without hearing anything of you or Willie.”

“All right; but I am taking you in my own ship to watch over you and not to pet you. I expect that you, as the captain’s son, will be an example to the other apprentices, and mind that the first thing that you’ve got to learn is to obey orders without any questioning. ‘Obey orders and break owners’ is a downright good maxim.”

“Why, Mr. Poynter told me the same in different words. He said obedience was the thing which was most necessary to me.”

“Yes, lad, and he’s right. Now I have never found you disobedient, and Aunt Fanny says that though you{30} do get into scrapes you are a biddable boy; but you will have many orders given you which are disagreeable to obey, and which seem foolish. Never question them, but obey at once. You will have to obey Willie, now he is second mate, as well as myself and the chief officer. But here is Harris’s shop. Come in and we will look after your kit.”

Mr. Harris, who had known my father for many years, was delighted to see him, and still more pleased when he found that he was to receive a liberal order for my outfit.

It was amusing to see the various things that he said were absolutely necessary for a young gentleman on going to sea, and which, as Willie said, would, if we had taken them all, have freighted the brig; but my father soon put much on one side. Among the chiefest of my delights in Mr. Harris’s shop, after the all-important orders had been given for my jackets of navy blue with brass buttons and my suit of oilskins and south-wester all complete, was the choosing of a telescope ornamented with flags of Marryat’s code and a quadrant, which my father said Willie would have to teach me to use as soon as we got to sea.

From Mr. Harris’s shop we made our way to the house on the quayside; and there Aunt Fanny was waiting to welcome us, and had dinner ready, for which I was well prepared by the drive on the top of the coach from Clifton. But my eagerness to see as much as possible of the Petrel kept me running to the{31} window of the room, which was on the first floor,—the ground floor being used as offices and sample-rooms,—to have a look at her.

My aunt said, “You will see enough of her, Frank; sit still now and eat your dinner. I daresay many a time while you are away you will wish yourself in this old house, and long to have as good a meal as you are now neglecting.”

“Perhaps so, aunt; but I do want to see the Petrel. There is all her cargo coming on shore; and oh, there are such a lot of tusks of ivory.—Father, mayn’t I go and look at them?”

“Directly, my boy. Willie, you must go and relieve Mr. Hammond [the chief officer]; and be careful how you check the things as they are landed. All the ivory is to go to Messrs. King, and I am going to see if they will advance their price on the oil and rubber. Let Jack Adams take charge of Frank, and teach him something of the masts and rigging.”

“O father, I know all the names of the masts, yards, and sails, and can tie lots of sailors’ knots.”

“Good, my boy, but you must learn the use of them; and you cannot go to work to-day as I intend you to, but to-morrow you will have a canvas suit, and then you will begin to really learn to be a sailor.”

Grace being said, I flew downstairs and across to the Petrel, Willie following me in a more leisurely manner suited to his dignity as second mate; and Mr. Hammond gave over to him the work of superintend{32}ing the discharging cargo; while Jack Adams, who was employed in serving a new set of tacks and sheets, was called from his work to give me my first lesson in practical seamanship.

“You see,” said Jack, “as how in all seamanship and rigging there is a reason; and though many a man is rated A.B. ’cause he can hand, reef, and steer, heave the lead, and sew a seam, he can get no further, ’cause why he don’t know the reason why the helm is put up or down, and only knows his work as Black Bill’s parrot knows how to talk without knowing the meanin’ o’ what he says,—though, maybe, I wrongs old Poll, for as soon as he sees the coppers a-boiling for dinner he sings, ‘Hot potatoes,’ which he never does afore breakfast or tea. But now I wants you to learn why things is; and we will go forward in the ship, and take a look at the bowsprit, for that’s the principal spar in the ship, and on it others depend.”

I went along with Jack Adams, and was soon deep in the mystery of inner and outer gammonings, bob-stays, bowsprit shrouds, and forestay collars. I thought when I had been once through them that I should remember; but Jack was a thorough seaman, and he said as far as an old tarpaulin’s teaching should go I should be one too.

After a time he was satisfied that I understood the names, uses, and places of the various fittings of the bowsprit, and said, “Now, you must larn how they are put in their place and secured. Our gammoning, you{33} see, is covered over with lead, for to presarve it from damage; and you can’t see how it is passed, nor perceive the merits of a thorough-put turn. But there’s the Mohican, belonging to Mr. King, got her bows into the quay, and they are gammoning her bowsprit. Now you can come and see with me the most important piece of work in fitting out a ship, and which must be done judgematically by a good seaman. Bobstays, fore-stays—all your rigging may be well fitted, but if the gammoning is wrong you’ll spring your bowsprit to a sartainty; and why then, you sees, your foremast must follow, and your main-topmast follows that. Gammoning, to my mind, is a sort of thing like the heart of the rigging: when it’s finished, it’s hidden from you; but if it goes, all goes. So your heart you can’t see; but if your heart’s wounded, the man dies. I’m not larned, but you understand what I means.”

“Certainly, Jack. Where is the Mohican? Oh, there—is that she—that ship with a great cask hanging from her bowsprit, and some men heaving at a capstan under her bows?”

“Right. Now we’ll go and have a squint at them, and then you will see how the gammoning’s passed and secured; and if you remembers that, why you’ll have made a good bit of headway.”

We were soon under the bows of the Mohican; and when her mate, who was superintending the work, heard from Jack Adams that I was a son of Captain Baldwin, he told me to come up on the knight-heads,{34} and explained everything to me; and when the men knocked off work, I considered that I thoroughly understood the mystery of gammoning a bowsprit.

My father seemed well pleased when I told him how my afternoon had been passed; and next day, in a canvas suit, I was again put under the charge of Jack, and passed the ball for him while he served the tacks and sheets. Afterwards for several days I worked with him in fitting different parts of the rigging; for my father said the only way to become a sailor was to begin at the beginning, and though I was a skipper’s son, I should put my arm in the tar-pot and slush-bucket as well as the other boys belonging to the Petrel.

At last the cargo which the Petrel had brought home was all discharged, and her hold clean swept; and I was put under the charge of Mr. Hammond, to learn how a hold should be stowed. In the evenings my father showed specimens of the various articles used in the African trade, and told me where each sort of cloth, bead, wire, or what not, was of value, and for what it should be exchanged.

The day came when the holds were stowed and the sails bent, and we were all ready for sea. My father arranged for the pilot to come on board for us to sail the next morning; but, unfortunately, that very same day Mr. Hammond broke his leg, and his berth as mate had to be filled up at a moment’s notice. His place was taken by one Simon Pentlea, a Cornish man, who{35} had capital papers from the master of the last ship he had sailed in, and who was evidently a thorough seaman. But he was as different in manner as possible from the open-hearted, sunny-tempered Mr. Hammond, being a silent, taciturn man, who never seemed to look one straight in the face, but at the same time managed to see all that was going on, and when speaking, one felt as if his shifty eyes were fathoming the very depths of one’s heart and spying out one’s inmost thoughts.

My father had not time to make further inquiries into the antecedents of Mr. Pentlea, who said all his other papers were at his home in an outlying village in Cornwall, where the post seldom went, and that it would be impossible for him to say how soon he would be able to get them; and as he had not sailed out of Bristol before, he could give no references in that town. However, as the papers he had from the master of the British Queen of Liverpool, which had been engaged in the West African trade, said he had given full satisfaction for two years, and fully understood the African trade, and was acquainted with the different anchorages in the Bight of Benin, my father thought himself lucky to be able at once to secure so good a substitute for Mr. Hammond.

Nothing worthy of note happened during our departure, and a fresh easterly wind carried us out of the Bristol Channel, past Lundy, and well out to sea beyond the Admiralty Bank. I was not at all sea{36}sick, and I was delighted to see the Petrel, with all her snowy canvas set, slipping through the water, and passing a number of colliers and coasting craft, and I felt very proud of being one of her crew.

The Petrel, indeed, was a vessel of which any one might be proud. For a brig, she was a very large craft, being three hundred and fifty tons burden, and a very handsome one into the bargain; and my father insisted on her being kept in such perfect order that she was often taken for a man-of-war, and as she carried four twelve-pound carronades on either side the mistake was a very natural one. The crew consisted of my father, the two mates, Simon Pentlea and my brother, and sixteen men before the mast, including Jack Adams, who was called the boatswain; Sam Peters, who was sailmaker; the cook, Black Bill, who had many years before been picked up on part of the wreck of a slaver by my father; Tom Sentall, the carpenter; besides myself and another apprentice, James Harris, whom we always called Jimmy Duds, and a steward, a black Sierra Leone man, named Augustus Warspite, the latter name being that of a man-of-war which had captured a Spanish slaver, of which he formed part of the cargo. My father, with Willie and Mr. Pentlea, had berths in the cabin, which was right aft; and forward of this was an open space bulkheaded off from the hold, which was called the trade-room, and here Adams, Peters, Sentall, Jimmy Duds, and I had our chests, and messed and slept. Black{37} Bill and Augustus had a berth each in the galley, which was on deck just forward of two large surf-boats which we carried on skids before the mainmast. The rest of the men had their berths below forward; but there was a fine roomy top-gallant forecastle, under which they could sleep in the tropics, whilst aft there was a small monkey-poop running ten feet from the taffrail, which was useful for the officers in hot weather. Besides the surf-boats, we carried two cutters and a gig; and as is the good custom in the Bristol trade, there was a library on board, which was kept in a cupboard in the trade-room, and which my father put under my charge. We were also provisioned differently from ordinary merchant-ships, many little extra luxuries being provided, to cheer the lot of the men during the monotonous days that must be spent off the African coast in waiting for trade.

All the men were regular Bristol men, and the work went easy enough, for every man pulled his pound; and though I had just the same work to do as Jimmy Duds, and had to stand my watch and take my turn at the look-out, and always in my watch to help in furling and loosing the upper sails, yet my father found time for me to learn how to use my quadrant and to teach me navigation.{38}



Our voyage to the West Coast was unchequered by any incident. We ran past Madeira and Teneriffe, and sighting Cape Verde and Sierra Leone, we first anchored off Solymah, a place on the African coast, where my father left some goods on trust, the country produce in payment for which was to be ready for us on our return. The chiefs with whom he traded, he said, could be thoroughly relied on, though they also had many dealings with slave-traders. The next place off which we anchored was Cape Mount, where Captain Caillaud, a notorious slave-trader, had his head-quarters, and where our appearance at first caused a scare on board two Spanish schooners which were lying there, and which, as soon as we hove in sight, made sail and got under way. But when they saw that we did not chase them, they lay-to in the offing; and signals being made to them from Caillaud’s barracoons that we were not to be feared, they returned to the anchorage and came-to alongside of us.{39}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 38.



I was very much excited at seeing real slavers, and examined them long and closely through my spy-glass. They were both most beautiful craft, long and low; and though their black hulls were unrelieved by any stripe or colour, they were most carefully kept, and their masts, spars, and sails were in perfect order. To look at them one would have thought that, instead of being devoted to that most detestable trade in human beings, they were the floating homes of some enthusiastic yachtsmen.

As I was watching them, I saw the one nearest to us lower a gig, which, when it was manned, came alongside of us. A man dressed in a striped shirt and white trousers, with a scarlet silk sash round his waist, in which were a brace of pistols and a long dagger, came up on deck, and in broken English asked to speak with our captain. My father asked what he might want, and he said he had been sent to inquire if we could supply them with any stores for their cabin, for which he would pay in Spanish doubloons. At first my father said that he did not wish to have any dealings with people engaged in the slave-trade; but the Spaniard told him that it was a question of must, for if he did not let them have what was wanted willingly, in which case he would be paid, and paid handsomely, the Santa Maria, as his vessel was called, and her consort the Santiago were quite strong enough to help themselves.

My father saw that there was nothing for it but to{42} make the best of a bad bargain; and while he was talking to his unwelcome visitor, Mr. Pentlea, who had been forward on the forecastle attending to some work, came aft, and we were all astonished to find that he was recognized by the Spaniard, who at once addressed him in Spanish, and to whom he replied in the same language.

“Hallo, Mr. Pentlea,” said my father. “Do you know this person; and can you talk Spanish?”

“Yes, sir. For some time I was on board an American schooner which traded between New Orleans and Mobile and Cuba, and Spanish was necessary to us; and Senhor Camacho here I often met at the Havana and Santiago de Cuba. But then he was in an honest craft, and had nothing to do with slaving.”

“Very well. I do not like to have anything to do with people in the slave-trade, but this is a case of necessity; so, as you understand his lingo, will you find out what he wants, and we will get through with the business as soon as may be.”

Camacho and Pentlea had a long conversation, and the latter took down a list of the articles which the slavers required; and as we could spare them without difficulty, orders were at once given for the hold to be opened and to get them on deck.

I went down with Jack Adams to assist in slinging some of the casks and bales that had to come up; and when he was down below, he said to me, so as not to be overheard by anybody,{43}

“I knows as how it ain’t my place to remark on an officer, but that Jack Spaniard talking to the mate ain’t after no good; and though I can’t manage to parleyvoo in Spanish, I haven’t been in the West Indies and South America for nothing, and I can manage to get the bearings of a word now and again, and I’m sartain sure that all that palaver that those two has been having was not all about these here stores. As far as I could fix it, he was asking how this craft of ours sails, and what ports we were bound for. In course these questions were no more than one friend might ask another; but there were no need for the Spaniard to write ’em down as he did, and I’m out of my reckonings altogether if Mr. Pentlea and the Spaniard don’t know more of each other than they says.”

“What do you suppose they want? Do you think the slavers will attack us? Why, our carronades would beat them off easy.”

“No; Caillaud here won’t allow no piracy near his head-quarters. He slaves surely, but in all other matters he is an honest gentleman. But, bless you, they schooners carries a long eighteen or maybe a thirty-two pounder, and they could keep to windward out of range of our guns, and just do what they like. I don’t suppose they want to put their necks in a noose; but trouble they may give us, and it’s my opinion they means to do it.”

“What can we do?”

“Why, nothing much; but just you tell your father{44} to keep his weather eye lifting, and not trust Mr. Pentlea too much.”

“Very well; I will do so.”

We soon had the required stores ready, and Camacho returned with a boat to take them away, and with the promised doubloons he paid the prices asked without any bargaining. At the same time messages came from the shore which decided my father not to have any trade at Cape Mount; and he gave orders to prepare to get under way to proceed to Cape Palmas. There he intended to ship the Kruboys who are always taken on board ships trading on the West Coast of Africa, to work the surf-boats and do all work which would expose the white men of the crew to the sun and night-dews, and thus risk their health and lives.

We hove short by sunset, and set the topsails. The land-breeze coming off soon after midnight, we weighed and steered eastward, keeping sufficiently far off the shore to avoid the dangers. When the sun rose we could see the tree-clad line of coast with the surf beating on it, diversified by the native villages and the more pretentious towns of the Liberian Republic. The land-breeze had now died away, and we were drifting along with the east-going current; but soon after ten o’clock the sea-breeze began to set in, and we were soon running along about seven knots, with all plain sail and the starboard fore-topmast studding-sail set.

When the sail was made and trimmed, my father called me to come under the monkey-poop for my{45}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 44.



daily lesson in navigation; and I was able to tell him what Jack Adams had said to me the day before about Mr. Pentlea and Camacho. At first he laughed, and said that Jack Adams was a suspicious old sea-dog; but just as he was saying this, Black Bill the cook came aft, under pretext of speaking to my father about killing a pig, but when he saw that there was no one within hearing distance he said,—

“Please, Capen Baldwin, me tink that Massa Pentlea bad man for true. What time me lib slave-ship, dat Camacho he be one ossifer, and he be bery bad; and now when me catch see him and Massa Pentlea make palaver, me tink one, two times, and den me remember dat Massa Pentlea he lib for come aboard slave-ship plenty time what time we lib in river where me bought.”

“Nonsense, man,” said my father; “you are dreaming. Do you mean Mr. Pentlea was a slaver?”

“Me no sabey for true; but when we lib Bristol, and Massa Pentlea come aboard, me tink me see dat man before; but though me tink plenty much no catch sabey where me see him, and so me no peak; but now me remember he plenty time come on board slaver.”

“Very well. Bill. Have you told any one about this?”

“No, sah; me tink only good tell capen. ’Spose tell all men, dey make plenty palaver; and quick one time Massa Pentlea catch sabey me sabey him.”

“That’s right. Bill; don’t you tell any one.—And,{48} Frank, mind not a word to any one about this, not even to Willie, for I will tell him myself.—Yes, Bill, you can kill the pig. I daresay we shall see some Bristol craft to-day, and they will be glad of a fresh bit of English pork.”

Bill went away, and soon we heard the screams of the pig having its throat cut; and my father told me that my lesson for the day was over, and that I was to tell Mr. Pentlea that he wanted him. I ran and did as I was told; and then, having put away my books, I climbed up to the fore-topmast cross-trees to look at the land as we were running past it, and at the fishing-canoes and small country sailing-boats, many of which were quite close to us. The native villages with their round thatched huts, and the people on the strip of yellow beach, I could easily make out through my telescope; and after a little I observed the masts and yards of some vessels at anchor, and hailed Willie, who was in charge of the deck, to tell him.

When we drew near, we made out that they were Bristol traders like ourselves. We took in the topmast studding-sail and royals, and hauling up the courses, hove-to just to windward of the first of them. Soon her captain was on board, and glad to get a budget of letters and a leg of the pig Black Bill had killed; and then, when he had in return told my father the news of the coast, we filled again and stood on to the next, and for the whole afternoon we were passing by and communicating with Bristol{49} traders, at that time entirely dependent for news of the world on the arrival of one of their own number from Europe, except when occasionally one of the squadron engaged in the suppression of the slave-trade had later news than they themselves.

To me it was intensely interesting to see all the brigs, barques, and ships lying at anchor, with their awnings spread, and the boats belonging to them manned by Kruboys, naked, except for a scanty cloth round their waists, and to hear them chattering in their Kru English, which every one speaks to them, and which, though it may not conform to the rules of Lindley Murray, has the advantage of being expressive, forcible, and easy of comprehension.

At last we had nearly finished our mail-distributing for the day, when we saw, about four miles ahead of us, a large ship flying a signal for us to speak with her.

We hove-to about a quarter of a mile to windward, and her boat came alongside of us just before we drifted down abreast; and in her there was no white man, but only Kruboys. One of them, scrambling up the side, came to my father and said,—

“Please, sah, bring book from capen ob Empress. All white man lib for be sick, and two, tree lib for die. No catch medicine plenty soon, all man die.”

My father tore open the letter, which was written by the master of the ship Empress of Liverpool, and which said that all the white men on board were down with fever, and that only the day before two{50} had died, and he begged for some medicine to be sent, so that those who survived might have a chance for their lives.

My father gave the word to fill and reach up close to the Empress, and shortening sail, anchored a short distance to windward of her. Then having selected such medicines as might be useful, he went on board the Empress to see what he could do for the fever-stricken crew.

He came back in an hour and said he had found that the captain and officers were new to the coast, and had neglected many precautions, but that, as there were enough Krumen on board to work the ship properly, he had advised the captain to get under way and beat slowly to windward, which would soon blow the fever out of the ship. The bark and quinine he had been able to leave with them would, he had no doubt, set most of her English crew on their feet again.

As soon as he came on board he gave orders to weigh and make sail; and then leaving Mr. Pentlea in charge of the deck, he told Willie and myself to come into the cabin, as he wished to speak with us about what he had seen on board the Empress.

As soon as we were in the cabin he said, “My boys, I wish now at once, while it is fresh in my mind, to tell you of the state of that ship, and how it could have been avoided. Her captain is a smart young fellow, but he has never been on this coast before, and{51} he thought that he could manage here as he had done in other parts of the world, and has not followed out the rules laid down for him by his owners. When his men got down and dispirited from the climate and fever, he thought he would pull them up by giving them more rum than the usual allowance, and the consequences have been fatal.”

Having said this, our father gave us a regular lecture on keeping the ship and men clean, avoiding chills and night-dews, and opened out to us all the knowledge he had gained during an experience of the West Coast of Africa of over thirty years. When he had finished this he said: “I have other and perhaps more immediately important matters to speak to you about. Frank knows something of it, for he told me what Jack Adams said to him on the subject, and was also here when Black Bill told me that he had seen the mate on board the ship in which he was taken from his native country. I am afraid that we shall have to watch Mr. Pentlea very carefully; for though I did not think much of what Jack Adams said, and even if Black Bill had seen him on board the slaver it might have happened without much loss of character to him—for I am sorry to say many of our traders do not mind having dealings with the Spaniards and Portuguese who form the crews of most of the slavers—still I am now afraid that he has actually been a slaver himself. For the captain of the Empress, who recognized him through his glass, said that the reason he{52} left Liverpool and did not get a ship there was that though he had done very well in the British Queen, there were stories afloat about him with regard to his having been a regular slaver before he sailed in her; indeed, even whilst he was in her he was supposed to have been in communication with some of his old companions, and to have furnished them with information as to the whereabouts of British men-of-war, and otherwise to have made himself useful to them. Now I cannot say that there is any truth in this, but as we shall visit some very little frequented places where usually the only vessels seen are slavers, he may play us some trick with them, and we must watch him very closely. I can’t get rid of him now—and even if I could, I have no one to take his place—so you must both help me to watch him carefully. Mind, you must neither of you say a word of this to any one—not even to Jack Adams or Black Bill.”

“All right, father,” we both answered at once; and then saying good-night, we went off to our berths to turn in for the night.{53}



Breezes and current both favouring us, we soon arrived off Cape Palmas, where we were to ship our Kruboys. The advent of the brig flying my father’s flag (black with a red diamond in the middle) was the signal for the whole sea to be covered with Kru canoes paddling off in the hopes that their occupants might be engaged on board. How the little narrow craft managed to come across the surf which we saw rolling in on the beach was a wonder to me. It was curious to see the way in which the black fellows managed their tiny canoes. If in their struggle to get alongside these were capsized, they managed instantly to right them and empty the water out of them; and all the time they kept on crying out that they were the right men, and those who had already managed to clamber on board were “bad mans, tiefs, and niggers,”—the last term being the most opprobrious of all the epithets comprised in their vocabulary.

At first they overran the whole upper deck, shouting{54} and bawling and finding out their old friends among the crew, and begging odds and ends from Black Bill in the galley. On my father recognizing one of the men who had sailed with him before, he called to him and asked where his old head-man Frying Pan was.

“Frying Pan, sah, lib for make country; yam time, sah.”

“What for he go country when Petrel come?”

“Oh, he no sabey Petrel lib for come; but one, two hour he catch.”

“Yes, one, two hour, and all men make plenty bobbery.”

“Me sabey you no like bobbery plenty much. S’pose you make sure Frying Pan head-man one time, me make bobbery plenty quiet.”

“What, you. Bottle of Beer! they won’t listen to you.”

“Plenty true, sah, Bottle of Beer picaninny no sabey stop bobbery; but Frying Pan brother, Flying Jib, him lib and be head-man for true: he make palaver plenty strong—bobbery stop one time.”

“Very well; call Flying Jib. Where is he?”

“He lib for canoe,” answered Bottle of Beer; and jumping overboard, he swam to a canoe in which a tall Kruman was sitting, being paddled by two others.

As soon as Bottle of Beer told this man, who was Flying Jib, that he was wanted, he put his canoe alongside, and springing into the main chains, clambered{55} over the nettings, and coming to where my father was standing, pulled off a very dilapidated tall hat, which was his only article of clothing besides a handkerchief round his waist, and said,—

“Marnin, capen; what you wish?”

“Why your brother no lib for come? You sabey I no like bobbery in my ship. Plenty boy make bobbery.”

“Frying Pan lib for him small country, catch yam. One time see capen flag, me send boy, run tell him Petrel libs.”

“All right; now tell those fellows to be quiet. Clear out all but your own and Frying Pan’s men.”

“All right, sah,” said Flying Jib; and with Bottle of Beer and some other men whom he called to him, they drove the majority of the Kruboys overboard, where they soon regained their canoes and paddled after the brig until she came to an anchor.

Flying Jib’s boys now furled sails, squared yards, and coiled down ropes; and just as they were finished Frying Pan himself came off. He had dressed himself somewhat for his appearance on board the Petrel, and had on a tall hat ornamented with peacock’s feathers, a sailor’s shirt and trousers, and round his neck a brass chain, from which hung a plate on which was engraved, “Frying Pan, Captain Baldwin’s head Kruman,” and of which he seemed very proud.

“How now, Frying Pan?” said my father; “why you no be here one time when ship come?{56}

“Sorry, sah, but lib for small country; now catch tree wive, and he make plant yam.”

“All right now; make your boys fall in and I will see whom we will take.”

“Bery good; see two surf-boat lib. He want ten men for each and one bosun—dat be two tens and two bosuns; now for work hold ten men—dat be tree ten; and want tree cook.”

“Yes, I want thirty men, and you can have two bosuns; but you must make the men cook for themselves.”

“Bery good.—Here, Fore-topsl, you catch ten men; Billy Barlow, you catch ten; and me catch ten myself.”

Soon Frying Pan, with his two “bosuns,” had the thirty men required ranged on the quarter-deck; and my father told me to write all their names down after he had inspected them and seen that none of them were suffering from guinea-worm or any other illness.

My list of names, as might be expected from those we have already heard, was a curious one. Among them there were Fore-topsail and Billy Barlow, the two “bosuns” as they were called, who were to be coxswains of the surf-boats, our old acquaintance Bottle of Beer, Two Glass, Billy Duff, Liverpool Jack, Bristol Tom, Sunday, Mexican Joe, and Little Billy, the last being over six feet in height. As soon as they were entered they turned to work at once; and Flying Jib, having received a “dash” or present and a glass of grog, left the ship.{57}

The two surf-boats were got out and hoisted up to davits which were shipped for them. On either side of the waist and awning ridge ropes were rove and awnings spread, and the Petrel assumed her regular African appearance, derricks being got up over the fore and main hatches for getting cargo in and out, while Frying Pan’s own canoe was lashed under the main-chains.

The Kruboys had a cooking place made for them out of a large shallow box full of sand, in which they could light a fire to boil their rations of rice, which formed their principal food, and which was supplemented by biscuits and small quantities of salt fish and salt pork which had been shipped specially for their use.

As soon as all had shaken down and the Kruboys had been told off into their watches, we got under way again for Whydah, which was the next port we were to call at, and where we arrived without any incident worthy of notice.

The English portion of the crew were now principally employed in overhauling sails and other light and easy work. The only work connected with sailing the ship which now fell to their lot was taking the weather helm and heaving the lead, and in this latter duty the leadsman was assisted by a Kruman, who hauled in the lead for him after it had been hove.

Off Whydah we found four or five ships at anchor, and one of the brigs of the West African squadron. Soon after we anchored, my father went on shore in{58} one of the surf-boats, steered by Fore-topsail, to see the agent in charge of the factory with which he was in the habit of doing business, while Willie and I were told to prepare the customs for the King of Dahomey, and the presents for the caboceers in charge of the beach at Whydah.

My father had not left the ship above half an hour before Mr. Pentlea ordered the other surf-boat to be manned, saying that he was going on shore too. This astonished Willie very much, as he knew that our father was very particular that the chief officer should not be on shore at the same time as himself; and he ventured to say as much to Mr. Pentlea, who told him that it was all right, and that he had something to do on shore for which he had received the captain’s permission.

Of course Willie could say nothing, and came back to me in the trade-room, where we had several bales open, selecting different kinds of cloth for the king and caboceers; and Jack Adams, who was busy with us, said,—

“I can’t fathom this nohow. I know Captain Baldwin would never give leave for the mate to be ashore, especially in a place like Whydah, when he is out of the ship himself.”

“Well, Jack,” said Willie, “what can I do? While the captain is out of the ship I must obey Mr. Pentlea’s orders.”

“That’s true; but you might send a note to the captain, sir.{59}

“Certainly, I can do that.”

Willie at once went to the cabin with the intention of writing a letter to our father; but Mr. Pentlea, seeing him going in, said, “What are you going into the cabin for? go and attend to your work;” and a few minutes afterwards he sent Willie and myself aloft to the fore and main topmast cross-trees to examine, as he said, the eyes of the topmast rigging.

While we were still aloft he got into the surf-boat, into which he had four bales of valuable cloth put, and shoved off; and from aloft both Willie and I could see that the boat was making for quite a different part of the beach from that where the factory to which our father had gone was situated.

As soon as he had left we both came down from aloft and went to the cabin, which we found locked. We sent for Warspite the steward, who said that on coming into the cabin to ask if Mr. Pentlea required anything before going on shore, he was told to go forward and mind his own business.

Willie and I were very much puzzled what to do, for evidently Mr. Pentlea had taken the key of the cabin with him, and wherever he was going he certainly was not going to see our father. In our dilemma, we called Jack Adams and Sam Peters to advise with us, and after some consideration we determined that I should go over the stern in a bowline, and through the stern-posts take a survey of the cabin. I could see, when I looked in, that all the doors{60} of the berths were fastened, but that evidently the lockers round the stern had been overhauled and ransacked.

I tried to get in through a stern-port, but found that I was too big to manage it, and called to Willie to have me hauled up again; and when I was on the poop, I reported the results of my examination. We now thought that the best thing to do would be to break open the cabin door; and Sentall the carpenter bringing his tools, we soon effected an entrance, and found a scene of confusion which far surpassed what I had expected from my glimpse through the port.

All the drawers and lockers had been opened, and their contents were strown in all directions, and a chest in which my father kept his money and the ship’s papers had been emptied of its contents.

“How can I send to my father?” said Willie. “The blackguard has robbed us, and with both surf-boats away we cannot send ashore.”

“Surely, sir,” said Sam Peters, “you have Frying Pan’s canoe; he can take a piece of paper ashore in that.”

“Certainly, I had not thought of it; pass the word for Frying Pan.”

Frying Pan soon came, and seeing the state of the cabin, said,—

“Dat mate be bad tief man; me always tink him bad.”

“That may be, Frying Pan,” answered Willie; “but now I want you take book one time to captain.{61}

Frying Pan ran up on deck at once, and by the time Willie had written the letter (or book as the Krumen called it) his canoe was in the water, and with Bottle of Beer as his companion, he was ready to start to tell our father of the desertion of Simon and his stealing the contents of his chest.

We had caused a watch to be kept on Pentlea from the mast-heads, and the sharp eyes of the Kruboys who were intrusted with this duty made out that on landing he went straight up to a large factory flying the Portuguese flag, and that the surf-boat was hauled up and there were no signs of her coming off again.

As soon as Frying Pan had started we began to try to put things in order, and soon found that Pentlea had been malicious as well as a thief, for the ship’s chronometer and barometer were both broken; and we found that Camacho’s doubloons, as well as a considerable sum in English gold which my father had in the chest, had been taken.

“I suppose we shall be able to catch him,” I said.

“No, sir,” said Sam Peters; “that factory he has gone to is a regular slaving-shop, and he will be away to Lagos or Porto Novo before the captain can get the caboceers to look for him.”

“Well, what must we do, Willie?” I said.

“We can do nothing except get things as straight as we can, and then go on with what we were doing before the blackguard bolted. Look here; he has even broken{62} open my desk and stolen my watch and what little money I had locked up!”

“He certainly made the most of his time; he can’t have had more than ten minutes to himself here.”

Warspite was told to get order restored in the cabin; and Willie and I returned to the trade-room, where we found that the four bales we had seen passed into the boat were composed of very costly silks which were intended specially for presents to big chiefs, and which had been brought there for us to select presents for the King of Dahomey and his caboceers.

Jack Adams and Sam Peters came down to us, and they said they thought we should have stopped Pentlea from leaving the ship. “But then,” they said, “he gave his orders, and no one could disobey him.”

“It’s no use crying over spilt milk,” said my brother. “I could not have gone against the mate’s orders, and none of us could know what he was doing in the cabin.”

While we were discussing the flight of Pentlea and sorting the cloths according to a list left for us by my father, Warspite came running into the trade-room, bringing with him a couple of small manuscript books which he said he had found in Pentlea’s berth, and which contained a number of entries about anchorages in the bights and oil rivers, and also about the Gaboon and Congo, with notes about the numbers of slaves shipped at different places.

“Why, the man is a regular slaver! See in this book{63} there are names of ships and their captains. Why, there are all the vessels of the squadron—which are steamers, and which can sail best off and on a wind; and, hallo! here is a full description of the Petrel and a list of the places we are going to.”

I looked over Willie’s shoulder as he turned the leaves of the books over, and saw that evidently these were memoranda of what Pentlea had considered the capabilities of our brig, and among them he had noted that she might easily carry two hundred and fifty slaves.

“What! does he intend to take her?” I said.

“Never mind,” said Sam Peters, “forewarned is forearmed; and I don’t think that any Jack Spaniards of the lot will be able to take a Bristol brig manned by Bristol men.”

“Just you two keep this quiet,” said Willie to Peters and Adams; “and you, Warspite, if you say a word about it you’ll be sent to work with the Kruboys.”

Just as he said this the look-out men hailed that the captain was coming off, and we were very glad to think that he would soon be among us and able to judge for himself what should be done.{64}



As soon as my father came on board he said, “Why, what is all this? where is Pentlea gone, and what does your letter mean?”

We soon told him of how Simon Pentlea had left, and the condition in which we had found the cabin when we broke into it. On looking round, he said that matters might have been much worse; for though the doubloons Camacho had given for the stores and some fifty pounds in English money had been stolen, the mate had not found out the place where he kept his greatest store of coin, nor yet where the corals and valuable beads worth five hundred pounds were kept. Altogether with the cloth and the money that had been taken the loss would amount to two hundred pounds. But the breaking of the chronometer and barometer was a serious matter, as he did not see how they could be replaced. As night was now coming on, we could not lodge a complaint with the caboceer of the beach before morning; and it was much to be feared Pentlea{65} would have cleared out before then. As for obtaining any satisfaction from his slave-dealing friends, that was not to be expected at all.

As it was there was nothing to do but to put the cabin straight and wait for the morning. My father then went on shore again, and this time took me with him, as he said I could be useful to him in writing down the goods he was selling and the produce he was to receive for them.

I was delighted with the idea of a run ashore, and dressed myself in clean white clothes, and was going into the boat, when Fore-topsail, who was boatswain of the one we were going to land in, said, “Why, massa, s’pose water come in boat where white kit be.” I ran down again for my waterproof, which I was going to put on, but I was stopped by Willie, who said I should only put it over my shoulders, so that if the boat should capsize I should be clear of it at once.

We shoved off from the ship, the Kruboys sitting at the sides of the boat looking forward, and as they dashed their paddles into the water, striking up a wild song to which they kept time, Fore-topsail stood up aft and steered with an oar, giving them occasional bits of solo—I was going to say melody, but to an Englishman the vocalism of these fellows did not possess melody.

The boat creaked with the strain of the paddling, and seemed to fly over the glassy surface of the swell which was rolling in toward the beach, and I thought{66} that in a minute or two more we should be on shore. Suddenly Fore-topsail ordered the men to be quiet, and my father said, “Now, my lad, sit as quiet as possible, and if the boat does capsize, mind the first thing you have to do is to get clear of her, and then trust yourself to the boys, and they will bring you safe on shore.”

This gave me the first real idea that I had had that crossing a surf was really dangerous. Though I had been told all sorts of yarns about boats capsizing and accidents in the surf, and had hoped, in the way that boys always do hope for adventures, that I might see something of the kind and be the hero of one, yet I had not thought that it was to come so soon. When I saw the huge rollers in front of us, and heard the roar of the surf as it dashed on the beach, I began then to wish that some one else might be the hero of a capsize instead of myself.

I sat quiet, as my father told me, and watched Fore-topsail, who carefully scanned the rollers coming in mountains high, and seeming as if they would swallow up our boat altogether. The men paddled gently along, and then suddenly began to back at a word from Fore-topsail, and when we were lifted up on the top of a great billow, they held their paddles out of the water, ready to paddle like mad at the right moment.

Before us was a great gulf, and we seemed to slide back on the shoulder of the wave that fell down in front of us with a surge and a crash. The men dashed{67} their paddles into the water, and we were hurried along at railway speed, with foaming water flying all around us, and Fore-topsail straining at his oar to keep us straight. Little by little the flying water left us astern, and another huge billow rose threatening behind. We again backed to let it pass us before it began to curl over before breaking. In this we were successful, and again came a plunge and a dash and a hurrying along like a whirlwind. I entirely lost all idea of fear. The motion of boat and water, and the voices of the men urging each other to strain their muscles to the utmost, were most exhilarating. I could have wished that the lines of breakers through which we had to pass had been five times as numerous as they were, and I was sorry when at last we touched ground.

The moment the bow of the boat touched the beach the Kruboys, throwing their paddles overboard, jumped into the water, and seizing hold of the gunwale, ran us up high and dry on the beach out of the reach of the waves.

My father, who had watched me carefully during our passage through the breakers, said, “You’ll do, my boy. What do you think of an African beach now?”

“Why, father, it is lovely. I don’t know anything more delightful than flying in on the back of a wave as we did.”

“Yes, it’s delightful, certainly, but it’s dangerous. But now we must make haste to see if we can find any{68}thing of that fellow Pentlea.—You, Fore-topsail, tell four men to carry those things,” pointing to some packages of samples, “to Mr. Macarthy’s factory; and send two men to Billy Barlow and tell him to let his men bring his boat along the beach to where yours is, and come himself to me at the factory.”

The beach at Whydah was a curious sight to me. There were boats belonging to the different ships in the roads loading and discharging cargo; pigs and turkey-buzzards revelling in filth and garbage of all descriptions; gangs of slaves working under the orders of the officials of the king; Dahoman soldiers with flint-lock muskets, and men, black and white, mounted on little spirited ponies; the large factories of the European traders with their stockaded yards, those of the slave-dealers being distinguished by large barracoons attached to them; and the native town, which was a regular jumble of huts of all sorts and kinds, the houses of the caboceers and other great men standing up among them like line-of-battle ships among a lot of cock-boats. All made a picture very different from anything I had ever seen or dreamed of.

We soon reached Mr. Macarthy’s factory, and went up a flight of stairs into a wide veranda, where we found him dressed in a cool white suit, and employed in giving orders to some of his clerks, whom he dismissed as soon as he saw us.

“Good morning, Captain Baldwin; is this one of your sons?{69}

My father answered his salutation, and then asked him if he had any news of Pentlea.

“Not yet,” he said. “I have sent men to try to find out if they could get any news of him up at Souza’s factory, where he has gone; but they are a regular set of bad ones there, and would say anything. Why, not long ago they attacked my factory, and I had some trouble in beating them off; the caboceers have condemned them to pay me five puncheons of palm-oil, but I shall never get any of it. I have sent to the caboceers, and one will come here in the course of the day. Have you reported the case to the man-of-war?”

“Why no; what can they do?”

“Certainly they can’t land men to hunt for the thief; but the captain and some of his officers might perhaps be present at the palaver between you and the caboceer. It would make them promise more and ask less, though whether they will do any more I can’t say.”

“Very well; I will write a letter and send it off. What is the name of the captain and his ship?”

“She’s the Rover, and her captain’s name is Howard.”

“Very well; let me have paper, pen, and ink, and I will write at once, and Frank here shall take it off.”

“Why not go yourself?”

“I don’t want to lose a chance, and perhaps the caboceer may come while I am away.”

“Very good; only mind to apologize for not coming in person.”

“Certainly I will, and say the reason.{70}

The letter was soon finished, and Fore-topsail was ordered to take me off with it to H.M. brig Rover, sixteen guns.

I found going off against a surf a very different matter from landing through one, and though it is much safer, it is a far harder piece of work. There was none of the pleasurable sensation of flying along on the back of a wave that I had enjoyed so much in going ashore.

We got through without anything worse occurring than shipping a little water, and we were soon alongside of the Rover.

A sentry at the gangway hailed to know what I wanted, and when I answered that I had a letter for the captain, he told me to be sharp and come up with it, while a couple of man-ropes were paid down the side for my use. Seizing hold of them I ran up the side, and not forgetting, as I had been told, to touch my cap, I came on the quarter-deck.

I was astonished to see the cleanliness and neatness of everything, but had not much time to indulge my wonder, for a midshipman came to me and asked me what I wanted. I answered that I had brought a letter for the captain.

“Give it to me then,” he said, and taking it from me, and going up to an officer, who was walking on the starboard side of the quarter-deck, he touched his cap and gave it to him.

I thought at first that this was the captain; but he{71} went down the after-ladder with it, and returned immediately, closely followed by Captain Howard, who was saluted by every one as he came on deck.

“Here, youngster,” Captain Howard called to me, “you come from the Petrel? Why didn’t your captain come on board himself?”

“Please, sir,” I answered, “I think my father wanted to find out all he could.”

“Oh, you’re the captain’s son, are you? Well, can you tell me what you know about this deserter—what’s his name—Pentlea?”

“Yes, sir. Mr. Hammond the mate broke his leg, and Mr. Pentlea was shipped the evening before we sailed; and we none of us liked him, and he talks Spanish.”

“Talks Spanish, does he? How do you know that?”

“Why, sir, a Spaniard called Camacho came on board from a slaver at Cape Mount, and he knew him and spoke to him.”

“Indeed; and now he has stolen money and some bales of goods and gone to Souza’s factory. Very well.—Quartermaster, tell the first lieutenant I want him.”

The first lieutenant came at once, and Captain Howard said, “Here, Stannard, there’s that fellow Camacho up at Cape Mount, and we’re looking for him down here.—What craft had he, youngster?”

“There were two schooners, sir—the Santa Maria and Santiago!{72}

“Two! And what did you have to do with them?”

“They made us sell them some stores, sir.”

“Were the schooners full of slaves?”

“I don’t know, sir; I couldn’t see any.”

“Were their sides clean or dirty?”

“Oh, beautifully clean, sir. I thought they looked like yachts.”

“That’ll do; they hadn’t shipped them.—Stannard, I’ll go on shore and see what I can do for Captain Baldwin, and you get everything ready for sea. Hoist the boats up and heave short. I’ll go on shore in this youngster’s boat. Send to my clerk, Mr. Smith, that he’s to come with me.—Quartermaster, get my sword and waterproof.”

In almost less time than I can write we were in the surf-boat and paddling ashore; while on board the Rover the men were busy putting on chafing-mats, uncovering sails, and reeving anchor gear.

“I hope we shall meet that fellow Camacho; he has played us one or two smart tricks—eh, Mr. Smith?” said Captain Howard.

“Yes, sir, indeed he has,” answered the clerk, who did not at all relish the passage through the surf.

We were soon safe on shore, and made our way at once to Mr. Macarthy’s factory. We found Mr. Macarthy and my father waiting for us with some anxiety, as a message had come that the caboceer in charge of the beach was coming at once to make a palaver about Pentlea’s desertion and theft.{73}

A large room on the ground floor of the factory was prepared at once, in which Captain Howard sat with my father and Mr. Macarthy on either hand, while Mr. Smith and myself sat behind them at a small table to take down any notes that it might be deemed advisable to make.

A sound of tom-toms, bells, and firing of guns announced the approach of the great man, who alighted from the litter in which he was carried, and coming into the room followed by his interpreter, umbrella-bearer, and some half-dozen men bearing swords of office, with hilts covered with gold, sat down opposite to Captain Howard.

The caboceer was dressed in an elaborately laced uniform coat, and had on his head a footman’s hat, with a gold band and cockade further adorned by a bunch of cock’s feathers. Round his waist was a handsome silk cloth, in which were stuck a couple of brace of silver-mounted pistols; and his legs were so covered with beads and bangles that he could hardly walk. Mr. Smith whispered to me that the most precious portion of all his dress or ornaments was a string of aggry beads which he wore round his neck.

Captain Howard, as soon as the ordinary and necessary compliments had passed, accompanied by the indispensable drinks of liquors and gin, without which no business can be transacted on the coast, opened the palaver, and told the caboceer that as his master, the King of Dahomey, was a friend of the Queen of England,{74} it was his duty to give up all criminals escaping into his country, and shortly demanded that the caboceer should send at once to Souza’s factory and bring Pentlea down to us.

The caboceer made many excuses, and said that Souza was the subject of a friend of the king’s also, and that he could not go into his factory.

Captain Howard insisted, and at last, after a somewhat stormy discussion, the caboceer promised that if Pentlea could be found he would be brought down to us.

Drinks were again handed round, and the caboceer took his departure.

When he had gone Captain Howard said, “Well, gentlemen, I do not know that I can do much more for you. I must go at once to look after those schooners you met at Cape Mount; but in a day or two the Dragon, a paddle-wheel steamer, will be here, and her captain will take up your case. I should very much like to see this fellow Pentlea, for I believe he must be a man who is pretty well known and more wanted; for if he be the man I think, he has been a pirate as well as a slaver, and deserves hanging if ever a man did.”

I here spoke of the manuscript books which the steward had found in Pentlea s berth, and my father handed them to Captain Howard, who, looking over them, said, “It is even as I thought. If I could see my way, I would land my men and get him out of Souza’s factory dead or alive; but my orders are so strict that{75} I dare not do it. Captain Baldwin, you will have to keep a good look-out, for he will not scruple to make himself master of your brig if he sees a chance. You can trust the remainder of your crew?”

“I believe so, Captain Howard; they are all Bristol men, and I have known them for a long time.”

“That’s all right; but mind you keep a good watch for any of those slavers, especially Senhor Camacho. He would do no harm to any one off Caillaud’s place, for the Frenchman, though a slaver, has his ideas of honour and honesty. If Camacho and this Pentlea, who is half a Spaniard, get together, there will be a couple of the greatest scoundrels unhung in company. Now I must be off; you will let your boat put me on board?”

“Certainly, sir. I’m much obliged to you for coming.”

“Well, I’m glad I’ve seen you. Mind when the Dragon comes in you go and see Captain Thompson. He will do what he can to make the caboceer move in this business.”

Captain Howard went off, and Mr. Macarthy and my father were soon busy about trade, while I was sent under the charge of a native clerk to have a look round the town.

I was much astonished at seeing some women walking about armed with muskets and great curved knives, and still more so when I was told that they were a part of the regular forces of the king of Dahomey, whose most trusted troops were women formed into regiments.{76}

Another curious thing which the clerk took me to see was the house where the sacred snakes were kept. Here, in a hut standing in the middle of a courtyard, I saw hundreds of snakes, nearly if not all being a species of python, which seemed quite tame, and allowed themselves to be handled by the attendant priests with impunity. The priests had to be given rum for allowing us to look at their charges, and we had to buy fowls to throw to the snakes.

As it chanced, one of these fowls was a white cock with red hackles and tail feathers, and it was seized upon by the biggest of the snakes.

As soon as one of the priests saw this he ran at me and smeared a great stripe of some noisome compound down my face. I was about to shove him away and wipe the nasty stuff off, when my guide begged me to be quiet, for if we did anything to offend the fetichmen our lives would be forfeited. I remained as quiet as I could. Two more of the priests caught hold of my hands and began examining them; while the first pulled open my shirt, and seeing a mole on my breast pointed to it, and began chattering away in a most excited manner to his companions.

I asked the clerk what all this meant, and he said he could not tell, but that it was evidently nothing bad for me. After a time my tormentors, for so I deemed them, became quiet, and my companion managed to make out from them that I was a great fetichman, and that I would go far and see many things, and that{77}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 75.



though I might pass through many dangers I would come safe out of them all at last. For this prophecy they demanded more rum, which we had to give them; and then I made the best of my way to the factory to wash myself and get clean after their handling me and pulling me about.

Even when I had washed my face I found that the stain of the stuff that had been rubbed on it remained. My father said I had best go on board at once and remain there until I could appear on shore like a Christian, and as it was growing late he came off with me.{80}



Next day my father went on shore again, and I was kept to work on board, where I much chafed in consequence of the stripe down my face, which was of a deep reddish brown, and which all the scrubbing I could manage seemed not to have the slightest effect in removing. Jack Adams comforted me by saying that it would not come off for six weeks or more, scrub and scrape as I liked.

Towards the evening there were signs of a tornado; and Willie, who was fully alive to the responsibilities of his new position as first mate, sent the upper yards on deck, and told one of the Kruboys to go up to the mast-head to look out for our father coming off.

Two Glass, who was intrusted with this duty, soon reported that he could see the boat being got ready, and then that she was launched and coming off. Suddenly he gave a great yell and sung out, “Boat capsize; all men lib for water.” I instantly ran up aloft, and Willie sent me my spy-glass up by the signal halyards, and{81} I could make out the boat rolling over and over in the surf, and the heads of men swimming. After a little the boat washed up on the beach, and then we could see the crew crawling out of the water one by one. I anxiously watched to see if my father was safe, and at last made him out being helped up the beach by the Kruboys. “Hurrah, Willie! he’s safe,” I shouted, “and not hurt,” as I made out that he was walking about giving directions about the boat, which I could see had had a large hole knocked in her bottom.

I came down on deck, where Willie was giving orders for the other surf-boat to be manned and to go ashore, as he was sure that if possible my father would come on board, as the weather was now very threatening.

I begged and prayed to be allowed to go; but Willie said no, I was to stay on board. I did not feel inclined to obey, and just as the boat was going to shove off I jumped into her, and as time was pressing, the wind and sea both rising rapidly, Willie did not insist on my coming back.

Before we had got half-way ashore it was blowing very hard indeed, and Fore-topsail two or three times wished to put back to the brig; but I taunted him with being afraid, and he said, “Me no fraid, lilly massa, but surf make plenty bad. S’pose boat capsize and massa drown, what capen say?”

“Never mind; the captain wants to get on board. Give way, give way!”

“Bery good.—Pull, boys, pull,” he answered, and the{82} boat’s crew bent to their paddles with renewed energy. But do all that they could, they could not make the place for entering the surf abreast of Mr. Macarthy’s factory, but were driven up to where Pentlea had landed the night before. We had taken so long to reach this spot that the sun had already set before we headed direct for the beach.

The first line of breakers was passed in safety. We were about to cross the second when a squall came down, accompanied by heavy rain; and notwithstanding all Fore-topsails struggles at the steer oar, we were broadside on, and in another instant we were all struggling in the water.

I have an idea of struggling and of the sound as of thousands of tons of water being dashed over me, but I very soon lost all consciousness. When I came to myself I found I was in a small room lighted only by a small hole about six inches square, through which the rays of the moon were pouring, and I could see by them that the place was perfectly empty. My clothes were wet, and I was cold and shivering, and had a racking headache. At first I lay quite still, feeling too bad to have any interest in where I was or what had happened to me; but soon I began to think, and then I remembered leaving the brig, and the capsizing of the surf-boat.

Where was I? and what had happened since the capsize? became now pressing problems to be solved. I was not drowned, nor, as far as I could make out,{83} injured; but who could have put me in this wretched cell without anything to lie on, and without even changing my wet clothes? I must have been saved by some one from drowning; but whoever that some one was, he did not seem to care much about my comfort.

I got up from the corner where I was lying and began to examine my prison—for such I supposed the place I was in must be—and could only feel the rough planks of which the walls and door were composed, and quantities of dust, of cockroaches as big as young sparrows, and of other loathsome insects.

The little hole through which the moon shone was high up, and it was with great difficulty that I managed to jump up so as to hook my fingers on the lower edge and draw myself up and look out. Outside was a deep veranda, and I could see the beach, and the surf thundering in, and beyond the ships lying at anchor, rolling about, their black spars showing distinctly against the bright moonlight. I puzzled to make out which was the Petrel, but at last I did so, and then I knew by her position with regard to the others that I must be in Souza’s factory. I hung on as long as I could, and counting the vessels at anchor in a mechanical way, I made out that two topsail schooners had come in since I left the Petrel. I could not remain long at the window, and I slid down, and soon found that combating the cockroaches, which were flying about, hitting me in the face and sticking in my hair, gave me a considerable amount of employment; and{84} notwithstanding that my clothes were still wet, I soon was bathed in perspiration.

After a time I smelt tobacco smoke, and then I heard footsteps on the veranda outside and chairs being pulled about. Presently I heard Pentlea’s voice calling for a boy to bring some brandy and a cooler of water. I now remained as quiet as I possibly could, and tried to listen for any conversation.

Evidently there were three or four men present, and I heard the names of Camacho and Souza frequently mentioned; and though I could understand nothing, as the conversation was carried on in Spanish, I gathered that both of these worthies as well as Pentlea were present, and that after a time other persons joined them who were either English or American, to judge from the oaths which studded their conversation plentifully.

Their conversation lasted a long time, and at last I made out that Camacho, Souza, and Pentlea went away and left the others to smoke and drink by themselves.

Soon they commenced to speak, and their voices sounded like music in my ears, for they spoke in English, and I hoped from their conversation to learn something of what had happened. At first all they said was, “Pass the bottle,” “Give me a light,” and such-like phrases; but at last one said, “Strike me silly but Simon’s a cute one.”

“How so, Bill? He’s robbed his skipper, and h{85}e’s safe here. The caboceers ain’t such fools as to give up a gentleman as deals in black ivory.”

“No, it ain’t that; but to watch the brig so close as to know that the skipper’s cub left in the boat, and to have the beach watched to pick him up.”

“How so? what good is he to us?”

“Lots. Simon hates his skipper, and now he can play him with his son. But there’s news that one of those abominable English steamers is coming here. The Rover sailed as soon as her captain heard we were at Cape Mount, and we got the news it was not safe here sharp. We must get away as soon as we can. Camacho has about fifty slaves, and they will be sent aboard; and the boy we’ll take with us too, and he’ll be useful to Simon.”

A boy now came and summoned these two worthies away, and almost directly after the door of my den was opened, and Pentlea, carrying a lantern, appeared, followed by three or four negroes, who stripped me of my clothes and rubbed me all over with some stuff which made me quite black.

Pentlea looked on approvingly, and said, “Now, Master Frank, you are a nice little nigger, and the people searching the beach for you won’t know you.”

As he said this a ray of hope darted into my mind, for I thought that surely I might call out who I was, and then some one would notice that a slave spoke English, which could not be a common thing on the Whydah beach.{86}

As soon as I was well blacked over, and my hair cut close off, so as not to betray my European blood, I was taken down to a courtyard where there were a number of slaves, and was roped into the middle of a string of five. Pentlea, as soon as this was done, struck me and said, “Now, you whelp, you will have a chance of learning about niggers; you’ll soon know as much as your Livingstone you’re always prating about.”

“O Mr. Pentlea,” I answered, “what do you want to do to me? Only let me go, and I’m sure my father will never do anything against you.”

“No, he would not, I daresay; but I’ve old scores against your father, though he don’t know it, and I intend to square yards with him before I’ve done.”

“Why, my father was always kind to you.”

“Kind? ha, ha! D’ye suppose I mean in the Petrel? No, boy; my debt is of old standing. I should have been a rich man but for your father sending two cruisers after me. I lost my ship and my cargo and nearly my life. Now I have you—that counts for one slave—and I’ll have the Petrel too before very long.”

“Let me go, do let me go. I’m sure my father will pay you to let me go.”

“No, you hound; I’ve made up my mind. And you shan’t have a chance to make a noise on the beach.” He proceeded to give orders to have me gagged, which was immediately done by a big negro who seemed to be a sort of driver.{87}

The gates of the courtyard were now opened, and the slaves were driven out on the beach and packed into the bottom of two big surf-boats, which were launched and paddled through the surf and alongside one of the schooners, which turned out to be our old acquaintance the Santa Maria. As soon as we were on deck I was unfastened from the slaves to whom I had been bound, and the gag was removed. The slaves were at once sent down to the hold, and a man whom I recognized as being one of those who had been drinking outside in the veranda said to me, “Here, you younker, I guess you’d better lay aft and keep quiet.”

I did as I was told, and in a few minutes I heard the anchor weighed, and the Santa Maria and her consort were slipping out to sea before the land breeze.

For several days nothing particular happened. I was made to do all sorts of work about the decks, and wait in the cabin on Camacho, Pentlea, and the Yankee who had spoken to me when I came on board; and though I was not well treated, still I could not complain of any absolute cruelty. We had the usual alternations of wind and calm, sunshine and rain. Once or twice the appearance of smoke on the horizon, or the heaving in sight of some ship whose spars were more than usually lofty, gave a fright to my captors, who dreaded that the stranger might turn out to be a man-of-war come in chase of us. But at last we arrived at{88} the mouth of a large river, up which Pentlea, who seemed thoroughly acquainted with the place, piloted the Santa Maria, taking her into a small creek, where, when her topmasts were sent on deck, she was perfectly invisible from the main stream, and where the Santiago was soon moored alongside of her.

The two schooners were anchored so that their guns should command the entrance. Some of the guns were landed and put in small forts on either side which had evidently been constructed for a long time. The schooners had not long been in this hiding-place before canoes began to flock round them, and as far as I could make out arrangements were being made for the captains of the slavers to pay a visit to the chief of a big town close by, to enter into negotiations for filling their holds with slaves.

I looked at the trees on shore—cocoa-nut and oil palms growing in groves close to where we were lying, and plantations of bananas giving sign of the proximity of villages. Though I was but a captive, I could not help wishing for a trip ashore; and as I knew it was useless to ask Pentlea, I waited until he had quitted the schooner, and then went to the American mate, who had been kinder to me than any other person on board, and made my request to him, saying, “Please, Mr. Silas, may I go ashore?”

He looked at me in astonishment, rolling his quid in his mouth, and said, “Etarnal thunder, what does the boy want? I guess, young feller, you’d best not let{89} Pentlea see you going ashore. Jest you polish that brass work on the binnacle.”

I saw that there was no chance of getting ashore, and slowly obeyed his orders. Soon a boat came from the Santiago, in which was a man who, as soon as he came on deck, said, “Mornin’, Silas. I guess, now the bosses are ashore, we may as well have a talk together as stop one in each schooner.”

“Reckon that’s so,” said Silas. “What d’ye think, Reuben?—there’s that lad Pentlea carried off from the Britisher wants to go ashore.”

“Waal, I kinder think that wouldn’t suit friend Simon; it’s the last place in the hull coast whar that lad should land.”

“How so? I guess thar’s nought but alligators, snakes, and niggers about,—nare a Britisher to be seen or smelt.”

“Guess Simon and Camacho keep their tongues quiet. It’s jest the bisness I wished to overhaul along of you—why we come here.”

“Sartain sure we comed here for nigs, you bet your hide.”

“We’ve come for nigs—true, sir, for you—but we’ve come for more.”

“How now, mate? Don’t keep backin’ and fillin’, but jest out with what you have to say plain.”

“Waal, that Simon’s a deep one, and he’s jest made Camacho fall in with him. The brig the lad came from comes here to trade. Her old man has made a{90} book with the fellow they calls King Okopa here; and Okopa has oil, ivory, and rubber ready, so when the brig comes she can load quick.”

“Why, how does that go? I guess Simon ain’t too cute; for if the Britisher guesses we’re here, he’ll off and set some of their bull-dogs after us.”

“I reckon Pentlea and Camacho won’t let him.”

“How, mate, can he stop it?”

“Not so difficult. Simon, he’s real bad and bitter; for the skipper of the brig laid a cruiser on him some four years back, and he lost his ship. And now he says to Camacho we can get the brig, and her cargo’ll pay for slaves to fill her and both schooners.”

“But, mate, I say that’s piracy.”

“Waal, ain’t slaving piracy?”

“Not so. It stands to reason as nigs was made for slaves; but to rob white men, that’s a different guess sort of thing.”

“I don’t care much for the job myself, but the fellows we have here will do for Camacho what he says; and though when we meets a man-of-war we hoists the gridiron and oysters, and we’s American captains, and has papers all c’rect, still we ain’t nought but the two mates when all’s said and done.”

“That’s so. So long as no murder goes on I don’t care much. Let Camacho and Pentlea manage their own business. Let’s go down and liquor.”

As soon as I heard this conversation commencing I had left off cleaning the binnacle and slipped out into{91} the main-chains, where I could hear every word they said; and when they went below I slipped forward and made them wait a long time before I answered their call to bring them brandy and water and fire for their pipes.

Evidently neither had thought anything of me, and they were now engaged in a game of euchre, and were so absorbed in it that they thought of nothing else save their brandy and pipes. As soon as I had supplied their wants I went to the main chains again, as being the place where I was least likely to be disturbed by any of the crew, and tried to consider what had best be done. It was evident that this place was one where my father traded, which was not much frequented by ordinary traders, and where he therefore could get quicker and larger profits than elsewhere; and that Pentlea was going to take the opportunity of the Petrel calling here to try to make himself master of her.{92}



For some days the work of shipping slaves went on. They were brought off in driblets of some half-dozen at a time, and stowed away under the superintendence of the two Yankee mates, the Spaniard and Pentlea being rarely seen on board. At last one evening I heard the two mates talking together and saying the Petrel was in another mouth of the river about ten miles distant, and Pentlea and Camacho had persuaded Okopa to send messengers to my father to say that he had lots of cargo for him, and that he had better bring his brig round and anchor off his town, which was about a mile farther up the stream than the creek where the two schooners were concealed.

I heard the one called Silas say, “It’s a black murdering shame, so I say, to steal the man’s brig and put him ashore here where he’s just sartain to die.”

“How so?” answered the other. “Can’t he live the same as Camacho and Pentlea live ashore?”

“That’s another guess kind of matter. Camacho has{93} a good house, and I reckon he can live well; but that black fellow Okopa, when a white man hasn’t got trade, he’ll see him further afore he’d let him sleep in a hut or give him bite or sup.”

“Waal, Silas, you don’t seem to care for this hyar job; no more do I. But what can we do?”

“Do, Rube?—nought. If we says a word again Pentlea or Camacho they’ve their bowies and pistols ready, and our answer from them wouldn’t be long a-coming.”

“Say, Silas, I’ve a plan. We can hinder the job, I reckon, and nary one be the wiser.”

“How so? Tell me at once.”

“Why, that boy, he ain’t no fool, for all he’s so tarnal quiet. Now, what time the brig comes up we’ll jest let him hook it.”

“How now? he can’t swim ashore. There’s as many alligators here as are in a bayou in Florida; and when he gets to land he can’t pass the village, and through the swamps no mortal man could pass.”

“Sure, man, I ain’t quite a fool. But s’pose the brig comes up on the flood to-morrow about six bells in the forenoon watch. Camacho can do nothin’ that day, and the lad may make tracks in a canoe, say at two bells in the first watch; and I guess we can manage that.”

“So, p’raps; but I guess we must be spry, or that fellow Sour Simon and his pal Camacho, if they only has the leastest thought we has done ought in the matter, I guess they’ll give us a passage overboard.{94}

“Maybe; but I don’t care to be pirate, mate. If you ain’t got grit to go through with it, I’ll do it myself; for my dander’s riz, and I’ll get the lad aboard the Petrel.”

“I’m with you. Don’t say I ain’t got grit; but jest keep a close luff, and don’t let nary a man know.”

“All right, mate. Let’s go down and have a hand at euchre.”

I was overjoyed to have heard the above conversation, and could scarcely believe that it was true. Could they have been talking in order to test me? But no; what was the use of their doing that? and how could I be more thoroughly in the power of Camacho and Pentlea than I was now? I walked up and down the deck of the schooner as happy as if I were already free; and when a shout from the cabin told me that I was wanted, I ran there as readily as when at school I had run to get my bat and ball for a game at cricket.

Just as I was going down the ladder, however, I heard the sound of oars, and a boat with Camacho and Pentlea in it came alongside, and I had to run and attend the side for them, while Silas and Reuben came up on deck to receive them. All four went down into the cabin together, and as soon as I thought it would be safe I crept aft and lay down alongside of the skylight to try to overhear what they were talking about. I had, however, only just got into my place when a mulatto servant of Camacho called Pedro noticed{95} me, and kicking me in the ribs told me to get forward.

I obeyed, and though I waited for hours I could get no chance to approach either of the American mates, for Camacho and Pentlea remained on board all night, and did not leave until after nine in the morning. Before they left, though the topmasts and upper yards were not sent up, the schooners were got ready for getting under way with their lower sails, and branches of trees were lashed to the lower mast-heads so as to prevent all chance of their being seen from the upper yards of any vessel passing up the river.

When they had gone ashore I had to take breakfast into the cabin for Silas and Reuben, and as I brought it down I looked anxiously at them in the hope that they would speak to me. But not one word did they say, and I at last summoned up courage to say, “Is there a ship coming to-day?”

They both started and said, “What business is that of yours, younker? Don’t bother yourself about what don’t concern you.”

Just after this Camacho’s mulatto servant came down the ladder, having evidently been left on board to keep a watch on their actions. As soon as he entered the cabin he told me to go on deck, and that he would attend to the wants of the senhors. I went and sat down under the lee of the forecastle bulwarks, and soon I noticed that the schooners were swinging to the flood-tide; and looking up overhead I could see that the sea-{96}breeze was playing among the tree-tops, and I thought I would go up to the mast-head and see if I could notice any signs of the Petrel coming up the river.

I clambered up the fore side of the foremast so as to keep out of the sight of the mulatto, and managed to seat myself on the collar of the forestay, partially sheltered by the branches which had been lashed to the mast-head. After some time I saw the white royals and top-gallant sails of a large brig above the trees. Was it the Petrel? I looked long and earnestly, trying to make out the flag which flew at the main-royal mast-head, to see if it was my father’s; but the royal interfered. It was not until she was nearly abreast of us that, the royals being taken in, I made out the black with a red diamond; and as she was not more than five hundred yards away, I could recognize the men on the royal-yards furling the sails.

A sudden impulse seized me, and I pulled out my knife and began cutting the lashings of the branches, so that the men might see the mast-head of the schooner; and ripping away, the branches fell sideways, so that it stood out clear, and I climbed up and stood on the lower cap, waving my arms to attract attention. The royals were furled, and the men laid in and commenced to go down from aloft without noticing me. I began to fear that I had committed a foolhardy action without reaping any benefit from it, when, to my joy, the flag at the main-royal mast-head of the brig got caught in an eddy wind and fouled the signal halyards, and I{97} saw Jimmy Duds going up to clear it. Just as he reached the truck he looked in my direction, and I redoubled my antics, and was rejoiced to see that I attracted his attention. Another man came up on the royal-yard, and standing on it was evidently speaking to those on deck about me.

Just as this was occurring I heard Silas on deck shouting out, “Come down out o’ that, you young rascal. What in thunder are you doing there?”

I kneeled down on the cap and commenced to descend, giving a last wave of my hand as I did so, and getting on the peak halyards was sliding down as fast as I could, when a bullet whizzed past my head and struck the mast about a foot above me. I did not look round to see to whom I was indebted for this compliment, but almost let go the rope, and reached the deck quicker than I had thought possible, and rolled on my back at the foot of the foremast.

When I got on my feet I was seized by Silas, who administered to me a sound rope’s-ending, during the administration of which I saw the mulatto steward standing aft with a smoking musket in his hand, so that to him evidently I owed my thanks for the attempt on my life which had been so nearly successful. He now came forward and said something to Silas, of which I could not understand the meaning; but its purport was soon explained to me when a set of slave-irons was brought up and I was fastened to a ring-bolt in the deck.{98}

Silas put them on me himself, and took the occasion to whisper in my ear, “Ye doddered young fool, you’ll spile all. Jest keep quiet now. The irons ain’t locked; and to-night at three bells in the first watch there’ll be a canoe under the starboard fore-chains. You’ll hear me and Rube having a bit of a fight over our cards, and then you fly at once.” And giving me a smack on the side of the head, and saying, “Yer won’t be in a hurry to go to the mast-head again, I reckon, you young skunk,” left me to my meditations.

Though I was sore and bruised I had hopes of escape, and I also felt sure that my friends on board the brig knew where I was; and I was happier than I had been for many a long day, and looked forward eagerly for the time when I might make my dash for liberty.

The mulatto brought me some biscuit and a gourd of water. As I was about to put the latter to my lips I caught sight of Silas frowning at me, and dropped it on the deck; and Silas sung out, “If the young whelp is careless, let him go thirsty.{99}



The day dragged slowly and wearily away, and when at last sunset came I began to count the hours with feverish anxiety. After a little, when it was pitch-dark, and a tornado was evidently threatening, I felt a hand laid on my mouth, and heard Silas say, “Hush, the mulatto’s below. Well you didn’t drink that water; it was poisoned. I can tell you what to do. The tide’s ebbing still; the moment the rain comes, slip into the canoe, and let her drift out of the creek, and then paddle up-stream. After you get aboard, say Simon and Okopa mean to take the brig. Tell your father to clear out, and say nothing about our being here. Here’s some rum and a piece of beef;” and before I could say a word or thank him this strange friend left me.

Soon I heard the soughing of the wind in the treetops, and then it became dead calm and everything was still, the only sound to be heard being the voices of the mates in the cabin and a few of the crew who were on board in the forecastle. Suddenly there was a vivid{100} flash of lightning which seemed to last for minutes, followed by a crashing peal of thunder, and then the rain came down, as I have since heard it described, “like marline-spikes and fixed bayonets.”

I instantly freed myself from my fetters, and crawling across the deck got through a port into the forechains, and fast to the foremost lower dead-eye I found the painter of a canoe, into which I lowered myself carefully; and then cutting myself away from the Santa Maria I let the canoe drift, lying down in her bottom so as not to be seen in any of the flashes of lightning, which were now nearly continuous.

I soon found that I could not remain still, for the rain was rapidly filling the canoe, and I had to sit up and bale with might and main to prevent her sinking. I could see, by the flashes of lightning, that I was rapidly leaving the neighbourhood of the schooners, and trusted that I might get out of the creek without being noticed; but unfortunately a man was sitting in one of the port-holes of the forts or blockhouses as I was passing between them, and saw me as the lightning shone on me. He instantly gave the alarm, and seizing his musket began firing at me. I got hold of my paddle and plied it for dear life to the best of my ability, and though I could see that the alarm was taken up on board, I managed to get out into the main stream without being hit.

Whilst in the creek I had not felt the force of the tornado; but the moment I was in the main stream{101} the canoe, which I could but imperfectly manage, was twisted round by the force of the wind, and I found myself drifting rapidly towards the mouth of the river. From time to time the flashes of lightning showed me that I was passing near the shore, and that the mangrove bushes ran far out into the water. I managed in some manner, how I hardly know, to get the canoe in towards a clump of mangroves which projected somewhat, and caught hold of the suckers hanging from the branches and gradually hauled myself into the trees. I had just got my hands on the roots of one, when an extra squall of wind and rain came sweeping down, and the canoe being dragged from under my feet, I was left hanging to the tree, into which I scrambled. Having found a fairly commodious fork, I wedged myself in it, and tried to collect my scattered thoughts.

First I wondered if Jimmy Duds and the other man had recognized me or not. Then as I remembered that the colouring of the fetichman at Whydah and the black which had been smeared over me by Pentlea had not yet worn off, it was very improbable that I should have been recognized. At all events I could be certain that my father knew of the presence of the slavers in the river, and would be on his guard. But what was to become of me I did not know. There was small chance of my being able to get through the mangrove swamp to the dry ground beyond; and even if I did, I was sure to be caught either by men from the slavers or by some of Okopa’s people and made a{102} prisoner again; while to escape from my prison by swimming was almost impossible, besides the risks I should run from the alligators with which the stream swarmed.

Fortunately the squall which drove my canoe from under my feet was the last of the tornado. The rain soon ceased, the clouds cleared away, and all the stars came out with that peculiar brilliancy which is only observable after a storm in the tropics. I was miserably cold and wet, and did not feel in a mood for admiring the marvellous beauty of the scene, but rather racked my brains for some means of extricating myself from the dangerous position in which I was.

Suddenly I heard the sound of heavy guns and musketry, and some way up the river I could see the reflection of the flashes of guns and rifles, and masses of smoke rising in the air. Could the brig be attacked already? and had those on board been taken at a disadvantage, or had they been warned by my attempts to attract their attention? The sounds seemed after a time to be drawing closer, and then to be becoming less; and presently I saw the lofty sails of the brig above the mangroves, as, aided by the first of the land breeze, she was stemming the young flood which was now making up the river. Almost immediately after I had seen her I heard heavy firing again, and judged, and rightly too, that she was passing the creek where the slavers were hidden, and that the blockhouses had opened fire on her.{103}

My determination as to what I should do was now taken; for looking at the river abreast of me I did not think that the Petrel could pass more than ninety or a hundred yards from where I was, so I stripped off all my clothes and made up my mind, as soon as she came near, to risk all on the attempt to swim off to her.

I watched anxiously for her hull to appear round a point a short way above me, and when I saw her flying-jib coming past the trees, I got down close to the water, ready to make my plunge the moment I judged her within the proper distance. Behind the brig I now saw the sails of one of the schooners, and soon both vessels were in sight, exchanging a heavy fire of musketry, for the schooner being right astern of the Petrel none of the guns of either vessel could bear.

The moment came when I should try for my swim, and slipping into the water I struck out for the brig. I swam my strongest, and rapidly closed on her, and thought that in another two or three minutes I should be alongside of her and be hauled up on her deck and find myself in the arms of my father and Willie, when suddenly I felt myself being swept so fast up the stream that there would be no chance of my reaching her. I had just reached the strong stream of the tide, which I had not allowed for. The schooner seemed to be now my best chance of safety, as evidently she was gaining on the brig, and intended to run her on board; but though I got within six or seven yards of her, I was unable to reach her, and was left out in the middle of{104} the river, with the tide running up so fast that I could not possibly struggle against it.

For a time, in my despair, I swam after the vessels, but soon found that they were rapidly leaving me astern, and that if I were not to be drowned I must endeavour to make my way back to the shore again. As a last and a forlorn hope I shouted and yelled to try to attract the attention of some on board the schooner; but I might as well have attempted to wake the dead. And so, sadly and despondently after my desperate try for freedom, I turned again toward the shore, which I almost despaired of ever reaching.

I now swam without energy, and more from an instinct of self-preservation than from any hope that I would reach the shore; and even when I got there, if I ever did, there seemed to be no hope for me. As I was doggedly striking out I saw before me on the surface of the water something that looked long and black; and remembering what Silas had said about crocodiles, and fearing that it was one of these monsters, I ceased swimming, and only floated, for fear of making any noise by which I would attract the brute’s attention.

The time which I remained still with this dreaded object close to me seemed hours, though it could have been only a few moments, when the moon rising over the trees, her rays fell on what I supposed to be an alligator and showed it to be an empty canoe.

Hope came back to me, and I struck out lustily for it, and managed with some difficulty to get on board.{105} I now had time to look round, and I saw that the Petrel and the schooner were crossing the bar alongside of each other, and that evidently from the noise of firing a hand-to-hand struggle was going on on board.

I watched them anxiously, and suddenly I saw both vessels give a sort of plunge, while their masts shook as if they would have gone out of them. Then I saw the Petrel draw away and the schooner falling broadside on to the surf, which made a clean sweep over her. She had evidently struck on the bar, and the Petrel was safe. What would I not have given to have been on her deck and been sure that my father and Willie were alive! But I was drifting rapidly up the stream, and had to think about what I should do for my own safety.

The canoe was apparently the one in which I had escaped from the Santa Maria, but the paddle had been washed out of her, and I had no means of directing her course, and had to let her drift as she would. I reflected how all my troubles had come on me by being disobedient to Willie, and bitterly bewailed my not having listened to him when he told me to remain on board and not leave her in the surf-boat at Whydah; and I did what was the best thing under the circumstances—namely, prayed earnestly to Almighty God for his protection and care.

I could see lights in the blockhouses as I passed them, and soon afterwards could see large villages on the banks of the river. Then the stream began to narrow{106} rapidly, and after about two hours’ drifting my canoe grounded on the southern bank of the river, the creek in which I had left the schooner being on the northern side. I was bitterly cold, and being without clothes or the means of making a fire, I did what was perhaps the wisest thing—scraped a hole in a bank of dry sand which lay above high-water mark and covered myself up in it. The sand was soft and warm, and soon I fell asleep, and slept soundly and dreamlessly.{107}



When I awoke the sun was shining, and I heard voices near me. Looking up cautiously I saw that a number of young women and girls had come to the river-side to fill their water-pots, and were playing and laughing as they did so. I, without thinking, arose and called out, when they instantly dropped their pots, and giving a cry of alarm, scuttled off into the bushes.

I looked round and saw that along the way they had gone there was a small foot-track. I followed it up, and soon some of the fugitives turned round, and, seeing that I was alone and unarmed, began to come towards me. Presently one bolder than the rest came and touched me and called out something to her companions which was received with a shriek of laughter. They all came crowding round me, showing signs of astonishment at my hair and at my skin, which, after my prolonged immersion, was now almost restored to its natural colour.

They chattered away, and evidently asked me many{108} questions, which, as I did not understand a word of their language, I was unable to answer. Finding they could learn nothing from me, two of them ran up the path, while the rest sat down round me and signed to me to do the same.

After we had been waiting ten minutes the two girls who had gone away returned, accompanied by four men, two of whom were armed with ancient flint-lock muskets and two with long spears, who made me get up, and tying a rope round my neck led me up into the centre of a large village.

The village was surrounded with a heavy stockade of tree trunks, inside of which were numerous enclosures of canes surrounding groups of huts, while in the centre, under the shade of a splendid silk-cotton tree, was a shed where four big drums surrounded a large and roughly carved image. To this shed I was led by my guards; and being made to sit on the ground with my legs on either side of one of the posts that supported the roof, my ankles were lashed together, and my hands being tied behind my back, I was secured so that there was no possibility of escape.

The whole population of the village turned out to look at me, and some of the children, little fat black imps, who at first were much afraid of the white man, losing their fear when they saw I was not able to move, came up and poked their fingers into my eyes and pulled my hair, at which they were much amused, and rubbed my skin to see if white was my real colour{109}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 108.


or not, while their elders laughed at them and at my ineffectual attempts to avoid their familiarities.

I may have been sitting like this for about an hour, when the drums round the image were beaten, and a very old white-haired negro came and sat down on a stool close by me, attended by other old men, who were evidently regarded with much veneration by the people.

When he had seated himself the drums ceased, and the girls who had found me by the river-side were called up and evidently examined about me, and then the four men who had brought me to the village had in their turn to be interrogated as to their share in the transaction. After this was completed the old man, whose face was most marvellously wrinkled, consulted for some time with the other elders, and gave some orders, which resulted in the appearance on the scene of a man whose face was masked. This individual bore in one hand a huge knife, and was followed by a woman carrying a large wooden bowl, who squatted down on the ground in front of me, while the man went through an expressive pantomime, intended to intimate that he was about to cut off my head.

I felt even more lost than when I was swimming in the river and thought the canoe was an alligator. I determined, however, not to show any sign of fear, but if I were to be killed, to die in a manner worthy of my English blood. The old man now commenced a long speech, in which I several times heard the name of Okopa mentioned; and when he had finished he turned{112} toward me and said something in broken Spanish, in which all that I could make out were the words “Okopa,” “capitano,” and “esclavos.”

I broke out at last and said, “I’m no Spaniard, and can’t understand a word you’re saying. I’m English.”

Instantly there was a change among the people, and the man who was about to be my executioner cut the lashings which secured me, and the old man said, “Inglish bery good, Spagnole bery bad. You be Inglish?”

“Yes,” I said, “I’m English, and have been prisoner to the Spaniards.”

“Bery long time,” said the old man, “Hararu make war with Okopa father, and Hararu wife he kill, he picaninny kill. Okopa make slave and sell to Spagnole. Got long time in one Spagnole canoe. Inglish catch Spagnole, and Hararu come back to he country. All Inglish good for Hararu.”

I was now led away into an enclosure in which Hararu and his family lived, and taken into a hut, where a large chest was opened, and Hararu said, “Plenty clothes lib dere; Inglishman take what he want.” I wanted to thank him, but he said, “No good, for Inglishman go all same black man. One time catch clothes, make chop; s’pose chop finished, den make palaver.”

I looked in the chest, which was full of all kinds of clothes and pieces of silk and calico, and after some searching found a shirt, jacket, and trousers which fitted me fairly well, and I put them on. Then {113}Hararu said, “Want hat; hat lib,” and going to another box brought out an old naval officer’s cap, which he gave to me.

When I was dressed he took me into another hut, where I was provided with a dish of some sort of stew (which was very good, except that it was made so hot with peppers that I could hardly eat), some bananas, and a large gourd full of palm wine.

I ate and drank, old Hararu keeping on pressing me to eat more; but I was so anxious to know what the happy change in my treatment was due to that I soon finished, and said to Hararu, who had refused to answer any questions until I was satisfied, that I could eat no more.

Hararu then said: “See, massa, me one time slave for Spagnole. He plenty bad—he flog, he burn, he be all same one bad tief. One time one Englishman he catch Spagnole and take Hararu Sa Leone, where Hararu him call Jack Sprat. Bery good name Jack Sprat—he be English name. Den one English trader come here dis river Ogowai, and me come too. One time here me sabey my fader, my broder, my sister—dey all lib—and den Englishman he gibs me gun, cloth, rum, plenty ting, and me stop here, be one big man. Okopa he be one big tief, but him plenty strong, plenty gun, plenty ting he catch from Spagnole. He sell plenty nigger.”

I explained to Hararu, or Jack Sprat, as he wished me to call him, all that had happened to me since I{114} was capsized in the surf at Whydah, and how I had escaped from the Santa Maria, and seen my father’s brig leave the river.

The old man said, “Dat be so: him Spagnole bad man, Okopa bad man; dey try tief fader ship. Now dey be mad, and s’pose dey hear you lib here dey send catch you and cut troat one time. Big blaggard Okopa.”

I did not remind my new friend that while he thought I was a Spaniard he had been ready enough to cut my throat, but said, “You will not give me to them?”

“No, me no gib you to Okopa; but s’pose Okopa come, Spagnole come plenty gun, what can do, s’pose you lib in town? No plenty people talk say white man lib for my town, and den people come look and say Hararu white man he be Inglish all same Hararu, and den Okopa come and dat man you call Camacho, and dat oder bad man Pentlea, and catch you one time. S’pose now one time you go in bush to big fetichman and lib dere. My son, me call him Tom, and he peak English, no all proper same me; he take you away to oder country, and den dey send you where English ship he come, and den you go see your fader and broder.”

The whole of this conversation had taken place inside Jack Sprat’s own hut, and no one had been present but some of his womankind, and these he now sent away. His boy Tom, as he called him, who proved to be a grizzled negro of about fifty years of age, was sent for,{115} and his father gave him a long series of instructions in the native language, to which Tom answered, “Bery good, bery good.”

When these were finished the old man said, “Now you go one time along with Tom, and me tell all people big fetich come take you away what time you sleep.”

I thanked old Jack Sprat for his kindness, and asked him if he could not manage to get me a pair of shoes, as I was afraid my feet would get hurt walking about on shore without them. He told me he would do what he could, but I must now get away at once.

Tom opened a sort of secret door in the side of the hut, and beckoning me to follow him, led the way along a very narrow passage between two lines of cane fence to the outer stockade of the village. Here removing a great log, which taxed all his strength, he was able to swing two of the trunks that formed the palisade on one side. We then scrambled down in the ditch and struck at once into a small and little frequented path, which we followed for about an hour and a half, till at last it seemed to lose itself in the thick and dense jungle.

From time to time Tom said to me, “Bery good, bery good,” as if to encourage me, and to all my questions he only answered, “Bery good,” so that I thought that these two words formed his whole stock of English. When he said “Bery good” once more, I thought that it was anything but “bery good,” for it seemed to me as if we had entirely lost our way. Tom now{116} lifted up his voice and gave a series of most appalling yells, which after a little were answered by similar ones proceeding from what seemed to me the thickest part of the surrounding jungle. After a few minutes a mass of creepers hanging from one of the trees was pulled on one side, and a man appeared.

Tom went down on his knees before the new-comer, and picking up dust from the ground rubbed his arms and forehead with it; then getting up he spoke long and quickly, occasionally pointing to me. I could distinguish the words “Ingliz,” “Spagnole,” “Okopa,” and “Hararu” constantly repeated. The man answered him in a similar manner, and then signing to Tom and me to follow him, pulled the screen of creepers on one side and led the way along a very narrow and winding path, which every here and there had logs laid ready for blocking it.

After following our guide for ten minutes, Tom keeping on saying “Bery good,” we arrived at a strong sort of gate in a fence of tree trunks, which we passed through. We then found ourselves in a clear space, where there were about a dozen idols like the one I had seen in the village, each under its own little shed, and some half-dozen huts, in which the fetichmen (of whom our guide was one) who attended on them lived. In the centre was another stockade, inside which was a very large hut, and Tom, pointing to it, said, “Big fetich,” thus showing that he did know more English than “bery good.{117}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 115.



One of the huts was at once made over to Tom and me. He made signs we were to remain there till night came, which he intimated by lying down and pretending to go to sleep, and he said, “Fader come.” I found the hut very clean and comfortable, and there being a bed-place made of canes, I, thoroughly tired and worn out, threw myself on it, and was soon sound asleep.{120}



When I awoke I found Tom had a meal ready for me of a sort of soup, with a pudding in it which was very sticky and satisfying, but by no means bad, which he called foofoo, and which I afterwards found was made by boiling unripe plantains and pounding them. To wash this down he produced a bottle of “square face,” or trade gin, which he said was “bery good;” and when I would not drink any he expressed much astonishment, and shared it with the fetichmen, who evidently had no scruples about spirit-drinking. I was now refreshed, and felt inclined to walk about, and seeing a gun in the hut, I asked Tom if I could take it out and try to shoot something.

He and the fetichmen had an eager discussion, and at last Tom said, “Bery good—can go;” and leading me to a door in the stockade opposite to that by which we had entered, we went out down a path towards an open marshy plain through which a stream ran, where we found great quantities of ducks and other water-fowl.{121} I was lucky enough, though the gun was but an old flint-lock single barrel, to knock over several, and Tom ran hither and thither to pick them up like a delighted school-boy. At last he pointed out to me a cluster of a dozen ducks on the stream all swimming together, and made signs that I should fire into the middle of them, which I did, killing three and wounding four more. Tom instantly dashed off to secure them. I was with great interest watching him hunting after one of the wounded birds, when suddenly I heard some ducks rising with a loud whirr close behind me. Looking round I saw a huge python, over twenty feet in length, rearing itself up within three feet of me.

I had not reloaded the gun, and, seizing it by the barrel with both hands, I was about to club the snake on the head with it, when suddenly it lowered its head and began to creep away. I called out to Tom, who came running with the ducks, and seeing the snake, said, “Dat be big fetich,” and he signed to me to return to the fetichmen’s village at once.

As we were retracing our steps the snake followed us. Dreadfully scared by the neighbourhood of the huge reptile, we dashed into the enclosure, and it followed us in. When the fetichmen saw the snake, instead of being alarmed, they seemed very much pleased, and while some of them commenced to beat drums and play upon pipes, others opened the entrance into the inner enclosure. The snake made its way{122} right in. Looking in I saw that the whole space inside was full of huge snakes, though none was so large as the monster which had so frightened me.

As soon as it was inside the fetichmen closed the opening again, and surrounded Tom, and began asking him a number of questions. His answers seemed to give them great pleasure, and all the ducks which I had shot were thrown into the snakes for them to feed on. For the new-comer a goat was provided, which, despite its desperate struggles, was forced inside, where instantly the python seized on it, and after reducing it to an almost shapeless mass by coiling itself around it, commenced to swallow it.

I was sitting on the top of the stockade watching this operation, which Tom kept on saying was “bery good,” when we heard yells similar to those by which he had heralded our arrival, and he jumped down from where he was sitting beside me and said, “Dat fader come.”

With Tom and one of the fetichmen we went out to meet Hararu, alias Jack Sprat, who said it was lucky indeed that I had got away from his village when I did, for messengers had come over from Okopa to ask where the white man was who had arrived that morning.

“How can they know anything about it?” I asked.

“How dey sabey? dey sabey plenty quick; one man tell man, him tell noder, so him sabey one time.”

“What am I to do? But are you afraid of Okopa?{123}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 121.



“Okopa no care one lilly bit, but slaver man say him ship come fire s’pose no gib massa up; so me say what time white man come, me gib um chop and gib um coat, and me tell him sleep. What time me come see he run away, he be tief.”

All this seemed very curious to me, for certainly Hararu, when he thought I was a Spaniard, was about to have me killed, and as that did not say much for his fear of the Spaniards, I ventured to suggest this to him.

“Dat palaver true, but what time me carey kill Spagnole me no sabey dat oder Spagnole ship lib for riber. One me sabey break for bar; me tink dat all.”

“But now,” I said, “the Spaniards, if they care about catching me, will know that I can’t go about in the jungle by myself, and will soon find out where I am.”

“Dat be so,” said Jack Sprat, “so what time chicken cry my boy take you long way, and s’pose men come look, no catch Inglishman.”

I was fain to be satisfied with this, and when we all got into the fetichmen’s village Hararu was at once taken to see the big snake, which had now gorged the goat and was lying torpid. He came to me and said I must be a very big fetich, or otherwise the snake would have attacked me.

I wondered at this, as the priest at the snakes’ house at Whydah had said the very same thing. I was very glad to hear it, but I did not think, notwithstanding Jack Sprat’s kindness to me, that his gratitude would{126} go so far as resisting the Spaniards if they came up to search his village for me. I was sure that Pentlea and Camacho, if they had not been lost in the schooner on the bar, would not believe in any fetich story, or that Jack Sprat and his people could not find me.

I was told I must get what rest I could, as the next day we should have to travel far, and we should start very early. So I went to the hut which had been assigned to me and lay down; but I could not sleep, and wondered what possibly could be my future. Evidently I had not been recognized by those on board the Petrel, or my father would never have left the river without an attempt to rescue me. Now I was apparently going to be sent away into the interior, and how I should ever reach the coast again, or get back to England, seemed a mystery. I remembered, however, what I had heard about Livingstone, and thought that, like him, I should keep up a brave heart, and by God’s mercy I might ultimately return home in safety. As I thought of this I remembered I had been neglecting my prayers very much, and so getting off the couch on which I was lying, I knelt and prayed long and heartily for protection, not forgetting to return thanks for the many mercies which had been vouchsafed to me.

When I had finished I heard a noise outside, and trying to open the door of my hut, I found it fastened on the outside. I looked through some chinks in the wall, and I saw that the principal fetichman was alone{127}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 129.



in the middle of the village, close to the entrance to the inner enclosure, and was going through some mysterious performances. All the huts were closed, and the only light was that afforded by a small fire.

I watched him for some time whilst he poured from a goat’s horn some fluid into his left hand, and carefully watching the drops as they fell, chanted all the time in a curious kind of a monotone. Evidently he was much puzzled, for sometimes he seemed displeased, and at others he smiled. At last he jumped up and gave a great shout, and running round unfastened the doors of the huts, calling to the inmates to come out.

Fresh fuel was heaped on the fire, and all danced round the place in a weird and uncanny way, only old Jack Sprat refraining from joining. All at once they stopped, and Jack Sprat calling to me to come out, said, “Fetich say you be good; man make good for you; he catch good. Now two tree hour Tom he take you. Canoe lib for riber; four day catch good man he send you one bery big riber where plenty ship come. You catch go your country.”

I thanked the old man for all he was doing, and asked what I could do for him if ever I got back to England.

“Dat be long time,” he said, “and me old. P’raps me die, but tell good men come and make trade for Tom, make book, and no trade with Okopa.{130}



I now returned to my hut, and waited anxiously for the time when I was to start, for I could not feel safe so long as I was anywhere in the neighbourhood of Pentlea, Camacho, and the other slavers. Though the two Americans might be inclined to befriend me, they were only two, and evidently did not possess much influence.

At last I heard the cocks crowing, and Jack Sprat came and said, “Now, massa, Tom him be ready.” I jumped up at once from my bed, and found Tom with a torch of palm branches ready to start. Jack Sprat gave me the gun I had used the day before. Both he and the fetichman whom I had seen performing in the night rubbed some stuff on my forehead, and the latter bound round my wrist a piece of knotted string on which were two little sticks, of which my old friend said to me, “Him be bery trong fetich for true.”

I tried to thank the old man for all his kindness; but he would not listen to me, and putting his two hands{131} on my shoulders he gently forced me out of the village, barring the gate behind Tom and me.

I followed Tom along the path which led to where I had been frightened by the snake, and on the stream we found a small canoe made of bark, about eighteen inches wide and twenty feet long, in which a man was waiting for us. Tom made me get into this frail and rickety specimen of naval architecture, and though I had to kneel down in the middle and grip either gunwale with my hands to prevent capsizing the craft, I was astonished to see that Tom and the other man were both able to stand up and paddle.

We were soon flying down the stream, the little canoe trembling under their powerful strokes. In less than a quarter of an hour I saw that in front of us was open water. Immediately afterwards we ran alongside of a canoe manned by a dozen men, into which Tom and I got, and we then commenced the ascent of the Ogowai.

Though we were some way up the river beyond Okopa’s and Hararu’s villages, Tom insisted on perfect silence, as on the other bank all the villages acknowledged Okopa’s authority. We paddled up close under the bushes on Hararu’s side, to avoid the current, and also to be seen as little as possible. The middle of the canoe had a thatch of palm leaves over it, which had been prepared for me by the orders of Jack Sprat, and underneath I found some packages of beads and cloth and other things likely to be useful to me, arranged so that I could either sit or lie down comfortably.{132}

For some time we paddled along in silence. A thick mist which was rising from the river was illumined by the rays of the moon, and we could see the dim forms of the trees as we passed by them. At last I began to hear the sounds of insects and the movements of birds succeeding to the deadly stillness which characterizes the last two hours of the tropical night, and then suddenly it became light. The mist began to roll away down the middle of the river, leaving the part where we were paddling up close to the trees quite clear.

The loveliness of the trees covered with creepers, some of them having flowers and fruit which rose from the water like a sea of foliage, was marvellous to me. The long feathery spikes of the calamus palm (the ratan cane so dearly loved by schoolboys—or by schoolmasters, should I say?) shot out for fifteen or twenty feet above the general surface. Flocks of hornbills and other birds were disturbed as we passed along. As the mist kept getting less and less, we could see spur-wing plovers and other strange birds on the banks, and sitting on the snags which here and there jutted from the water were kingfishers watching for their prey, some being large and of a sober gray, while others were scarcely larger than humming-birds, and rivalled them in the beauty of their plumage.

Tom now began to scan the banks curiously and closely, and urged the men to paddle their strongest and best. Just as the sun showed above the tree-tops he ordered the canoe to stop, and some of the men,{133}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 132.



getting into the water, began to remove a portion of a screen of canes which hid the mouth of a creek, into which we ran the canoe and then replaced the canes.

The canoe was now unloaded and sunk, and we all waded a long way up the creek until we came to a small footpath, which we followed. After a time we came to a small clearing where were a couple of huts, and here we prepared to camp for the day, Tom saying, “Bery good, bery good.”

I could not understand what we were doing this for, and asked Tom. After much trouble I made him know what I wanted, when he said, “Okopa man catch nigger lib for riber.” I managed also to get out of him that a large party of Okopa’s people had gone up the river to get slaves for the Spaniards, and might at any moment be met coming down, when they would not let our canoe pass without a fight.

Some of our men slept, some smoked, and some ate; but all the time men were stationed to keep a vigilant outlook in case any of Okopa’s people might find where our canoe was hidden. As the cane screen was similar to hundreds of others made at the mouths of the small streams falling into the Ogowai to catch fish, there was not much chance of its being discovered.

I was now able to overhaul the goods which the kindness of Jack Sprat had provided for me, and every moment found more cause for thankfulness to Providence for having guided me to his village instead of{136} to one belonging to Okopa or any of his allies. Not only did I find a supply of cloth and beads for buying food and paying my way, but I also found another jacket and pair of trousers, and four good white shirts, for my own wear. What I really wanted now was something to protect my head from the sun, for the cap which had been given me was not sufficient, and some kind of shoes to guard my feet from thorns and stones, from which they had already suffered severely.

I explained this to Tom, and he produced a needle, and unravelled a piece of cloth for thread. I cut some pieces of white stuff, which I made into a cover for the cap, with a flap to hang down on my neck behind. Whilst I was doing this Tom had twisted up some fibrous bark into coarse cords, and made me understand that I should sew this together so as to make a kind of sandal. After much trouble I managed to make this cord into two pieces the shape of the soles of my feet. I then fastened into them broad strips of strong cotton cloth, by which I was able to tie them on.

This, and eating the food which Tom brought me at mid-day, kept me pretty well occupied. Late in the afternoon we heard the noise of drums and the song of paddlers, which I soon found proceeded from Okopa’s slaving-party, who were going down the river with their cargo of slaves. Our look-outs kept us informed as to what went on, and reported that five large canoes passed loaded with slaves. As at sunset no{137} more were in sight or hearing, we returned to our canoe, which we baled out and reloaded, and then started again on our voyage up-stream.

We paddled on for some hours in silence. We saw and heard nothing until about eleven o’clock, when we saw on the bank opposite to that by which we were ascending the light of a fire, and heard the screams of people as if in pain, followed almost immediately by a bullet splashing in the water in front of our canoe.

We stopped paddling, and letting the canoe drift back till we were sheltered by a wooded point, began to consult what should be done. We heard fresh screams, and though I could not understand what Tom and the men were saying, they were evidently very excited. Guns were loaded, primings looked to, and knives and axes were brandished. The screams continued, and among them there seemed to be articulate sounds. We pushed out from behind the trees where we had taken shelter, and as we paddled at full speed toward the fire, Tom said, “Okopa man bad; tief wife for dat man,” pointing to one who was standing in the bow of the canoe brandishing his musket and dancing about as if he were possessed.

One or two more shots were fired at us as we drew near; but as the bow of the canoe touched the bank and we all jumped ashore, most of the men who were in charge of the captives fled, only two or three waiting our onslaught. In less time than it takes to{138} write these three were killed, but not before they had inflicted severe wounds on their assailants.

Close to the bank we found some men and women held captive by long logs lashed together, between which one of their feet was secured, so that it was impossible for them to move. In a few moments they were freed, and we were all back into the canoe and paddling for dear life towards the other side of the stream, some of the slaves whom we had freed having taken the paddles of the men who had been wounded.

After some time I made out from Tom that the people we had freed belonged to a village some way up the river, and that while they were on their way to one of the local markets, they had been surprised and made prisoners by a large party of men belonging to Okopa and his allies. The man who had thought that his wife was among them proved to be right—he having many wives in different parts of the country in order to give him influence when he went on any trading expedition. Their captors had fallen behind the main body of Okopa’s men, having stopped to drink with some friends near where we had found them.

The wounded men were brought under my shelter in the middle of the canoe, and I aided Tom in binding up their wounds as we best could. Whilst we were engaged in this task we heard behind us the splashing of paddles and the voices of men, and it soon became evident that we were pursued.

Our men, who up to this had paddled in silence, now{139}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 138.



broke into a loud song, and redoubled their efforts to make the canoe travel. For the whole night we kept on paddling, the only rest being that one of the men was relieved from his paddle for a time, even the women taking their share in the arduous work.

The night at length passed away. When it became light we could see that we were pursued by two canoes, which were each about as large as the one we were in, and manned by the same number of men. On seeing us our pursuers gave a chorus of yells, and one man in each canoe coming to the bows commenced firing at us; but fortunately their bullets fell short.

Our people were now getting tired. It was evident to me that if we did not soon reach a place of safety, or manage to cripple our pursuers, we would soon fall into their hands, and from them we could certainly expect no mercy. Tom now signed to me to take my gun, and with him I went to the stern of our canoe. The bullets of our pursuers falling nearer and nearer, we at last commenced to return their fire.

I found firing from the canoe a very difficult thing, and as reloading my gun was a matter requiring considerable management, our fire was very slow and uncertain. Fortunately our pursuers laboured under the same disadvantages, and did us no damage. After we had been firing for half-an-hour or so, without any casualty on either side, I heard a bullet whiz close by my head, a thud as it struck some one behind me, and then a splash.{142}

The man at the after-paddle had been struck in the head and had fallen overboard. He never rose again. The lurch the canoe gave as he went overboard, and a momentary cessation of paddling on the part of the men, let our enemies draw up a bit, and they were now no more than fifty yards astern of us. I felt more determined than ever, and taking a very careful aim I fired, and the man who was firing from the nearer of the two canoes threw his arms in the air and fell backwards. This caused some confusion on board his canoe, and Tom, at the same moment, being fortunate enough to hit one of the paddlers in the other, we regained the distance that we had lost. Soon after two of our paddles were broken by a bullet, and another of our men was wounded. I thought that in another few minutes they must be alongside, and we should be involved in a hand-to-hand conflict.

I said so to Tom; but in response he showed all his teeth, and said, “Bery good, bery good.” At the same instant I heard the beat of a big drum, and looking round saw that we were just coming in sight of a large village, where people were launching canoes. Tom, as he saw me look, said, “Dem be good;” and our pursuers, who evidently had followed us further than they intended, turned round and began to paddle downstream.

In a few minutes half-a-dozen big canoes from the village were in full chase after them, in which we joined. In less than half-an-hour our whilom pur{143}suers were made prisoners, and we were all landed in the village, where Tom was evidently made much of, and where his white man was regarded with much curiosity—no specimen of that strange race having ever before been seen so far up the Ogowai.

The prisoners we had released had come from this place, and all was rejoicing and festivity in honour of their release from captivity, the best of everything that the village afforded being placed at our disposal. Our wounded men were now handed over to the native doctors, and Tom, after seeing them attended to, came and informed me they soon would be “bery good.”

I was very anxious to know what was to become of me, and where I was going. All this time I had been coming away from the coast, and it seemed to me that though I might be getting safer from pursuit by Camacho, Pentlea, and Okopa, the chances of my ever rejoining the Petrel were becoming smaller and smaller.

All my questions only elicited from Tom the answer of “Bery good,” and I soon found that he, with all the other men of our party, were so much under the influence of the palm wine, gin, and other liquors which were provided in honour of our victory, that I could hope to get no sensible answer until the feasting and festivity were over.{144}



Tom was not so forgetful as not to provide me with food and a place to sleep in; so I contented myself with watching the rejoicings over the people who had been released from slavery. They were now, instead of being prisoners and expecting to be sent away for ever from their friends and country, free and happy; while those who had stolen them and their companions were now confined with logs on their legs and ropes round their necks, being jeered and hooted by all the children and women of the village.

After a time the chief, who Tom told me was called Karema, ordered his head-men, wives, drummers, and musicians to assemble. They formed in a semicircle round him, whilst the rest of the people drew away a little distance and left them alone in an open space. For some twenty minutes drums and horns had their own way; and though I could not discern much harmony in their notes, they seemed to give intense satisfaction to the hearers as well as to the performers.{145}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 144.



All at once Karema held up his hand and the music ceased, and springing to his feet, he began an impassioned harangue, striding up and down and gesticulating wildly. Every now and again, as he paused, the drummers smote their drums fiercely, and the men with horns blew a long shrill note, while all the people cried out, “Eh-a-a-a-a-n! Karema! Eh-a-a-a-a-n!” in token of their approval of what he was saying.

At last Karema ceased, and sank back on his seat exhausted with his vehemence. Tom and the men who had formed the crew of our canoe then rushed forward, brandishing their arms, and went through a lively representation of a fight, in which they were soon joined by the warriors of Karema’s village. The antics of the men, their yells, and the noise of drums and horns, all combined to form a regular pandemonium; and I was astonished to see that my friend Tom, whom I had come to consider as partly civilized, was as wild in his antics and gestures as any of the other performers.

This went on for over an hour, and two or three times I was seized upon by the excited dancers and hurried round with them or carried on their shoulders, while Tom shouted out, “English bery good.” I was glad when this was over, and the men dropped off one by one as they became too tired to caper about any more.

Tom having apparently danced all his drink and excitement out of him, took me to Karema’s hut to have a conference together as to getting me out of the country.{148}

Karema’s hut stood in the centre of a separate enclosure, around the sides of which were rows of smaller huts belonging to his wives. It was well built, with clay walls and a thatched roof. Inside I found some chairs of the familiar Windsor pattern, evidently regarded as most precious, on one of which I, as a white man and visitor, was given a seat. Karema himself lounged on a cane bed-place in one corner, smoking a water-pipe made out of a cocoa-nut shell with a piece of reed, and Tom squatted down on an elaborately carved native stool.

Tom spoke long and, I could see, earnestly. Karema, lying back on his couch, puffed steadily at his pipe, sending forth huge volumes of smoke, and occasionally, as Tom made an extra point, giving a grunt of approval or disapproval.

At length, when Tom had finished, Karema made an equally long-winded reply, which from Tom I made out to be to the following effect:—Karema was very proud that a white man had come to see him, as it would give him importance in the eyes of neighbouring chiefs; but he would not permit me to go beyond his country, for then his rivals would be able to boast they had also seen a white man, and he steadily refused to fall in with the proposals of Tom that I should be sent across the country to a big river where white men were said to trade, and which I supposed, as we were on the Ogowai, would be either the Gaboon or the Congo.{149}

I asked him to again urge Karema to let me go on; for I did not want to stop for ever in Africa, but wished to get back to my own country and my own people.

Tom again spoke to Karema; but he refused to let me go beyond his country. He said that as long as I chose to stop with him he would look after me as if I were his own son, and that surely some day an English ship would visit the river, and then I would be able to get away without encountering the dangers inseparable from a long land journey in Africa.

On reflection this seemed to me the best thing that could be done. Perhaps my father might meet with a man-of-war and get her to come and punish Okopa for his attack on the Petrel, when I would at once be able to get away.

Tom said that was a good idea, and that though I could not live in his father’s village without danger of troubles with the Spaniards and Okopa, I should be perfectly safe with Karema, and I had better therefore accept his offer.

When Karema heard that we agreed to his proposals he gave a grunt of delight and approval, and said that next day he would, before all his people, exchange blood with me, and I would be accepted as one of his tribe. He also would give me a hut to live in, and wives and slaves to cultivate ground for me and to cook for me.

This question having been settled, Karema got up from his bed and led Tom and me to a small enclosure{150} in the village just finished, in which was a new hut which had never been used, and the materials for building others. This he said should now be mine; and then, saying he would send food and drink to the hut in which I had passed the previous night, he retired to his own quarters.

When Tom and I were again alone in our hut all was quiet, the whole population of the village apparently being engaged in sleeping off the effects of the day’s rejoicings. Tom said, “All bery good, massa. One time English ship come you catch; now s’pose lib here very good.”

“That’s all right, Tom; but suppose no English ship comes, how then?”

“No good s’pose bad ting,” said Tom, who was rapidly remembering his English, and who now told me that he had been for a short time on board an English ship as a pledge for goods with which his father had been trusted, and had there learned to speak it “all proper.”

With much difficulty he also explained to me what the ceremony of exchanging blood would be; and when I said I did not want a black wife, he said, “How be dat? S’pose no wife lib, who make chop? who make fire, bring water—who do all ting for hut?”

“Yes, Tom; but a woman can do all that without being my wife. Your father has given me plenty of cloth and beads; cannot I give some to people to do those things for me?{151}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 154.



“No, massa; s’pose pay ebery time, bead soon go. Best take wife.”

“But, Tom, if I go back to my own country how shall I do with a black wife, and what can she do in England?”

“Oh, s’pose you no care take wife own country, gib her me. Me like plenty wife; dat be good—bery good have plenty wife.”

I tried in vain to explain to him my ideas on the subject of marriage; but at last he said, “S’pose you no want wife, me tell Karema dat be your fetich. No have wife, but plenty slave must have.”

I tried to make him understand also that Englishmen would have nothing to do with slaves; but that he resolutely refused to agree to. At last, as the lesser of two evils, I consented to become nominally the owner of such slaves as Karema might assign to me; and I made up my mind to see that when I left the country they were made actually free and well rewarded for any services which they might render me.

By the time this long discussion was over it was time for sleep. Tom leaving me to myself, I said my prayers, and throwing myself on a bed which was covered with skins and mats, I was soon dreaming of all sorts of things. Sometimes I thought myself again on board the Petrel; and sometimes I was in the clutches of Pentlea and Camacho.

I slept long and soundly. When Tom came in and woke me the sun was already high in the heavens, and{154} everything was prepared for the ceremony of my exchanging blood with Karema.

I washed my face and hands in a calabash of water which Tom brought me; and coming out of the hut with him I found all the people of the village squatted round a clear space, in which a couple of stools had been placed for Karema and me to sit on during the ceremony. As soon as the villagers saw me they sent up a great shout, and made way for Tom to lead me to the stool, where I sat down, he standing by me to act as my sponsor.

As soon as we were in our places Karema came out of the enclosure where his huts were, accompanied by his wives and drummers. All his followers remained outside the circle, except one man, who was to promise for him; and a fetichman, who was to perform the operation of exchanging our blood. The body, face, and arms of the fetichman were painted white, and he wore round his neck and waist great quantities of birds’ skulls, antelopes’ horns, bones, shells, and other things in which great virtue was supposed to reside.

Karema sat down on the other stool facing me, and took hold of my right hand with his left and my left with his right. Tom and Karema’s sponsor stood each behind the one he was to answer for; and the fetichman, after drawing a circle round us, stood with his arms upraised and chanted a long monotonous song, to which the people, who were sitting round, occasionally joined in chorus.{155}

When he had finished this, a woman came into the circle and placed a large covered gourd on the ground close by us, and then withdrew. The fetichman opened the gourd, and out of it he took two large buffalo horns and some grease, leaves, and earth, which he mixed up into a sort of paste; then putting some into each horn, he stuck them in the ground between Karema’s legs and mine.

He now took a goat’s horn, into which he put a lot of small pebbles, beads, and some carved bits of wood; then shaking them up together, he let them fall on the ground and eagerly scrutinized the forms in which they fell. This he repeated several times; and as Tom kept on saying, “Bery good, bery good,” I supposed that the auguries he drew from them were favourable to me.

He next took out of the gourd a square black gin bottle full of oil, which he poured over the heads of Karema and myself. Karema seemed to enjoy this; but as the oil was rancid and highly-flavoured, I cannot say that I found this anointing very agreeable.

Next he produced a small piece of a broken plate and a little packet of gunpowder, which he mixed into a paste with some oil; then turning back my shirt and laying bare my breast, with a very sharp knife he made a smart cut over my left breast and squeezed out a few drops of blood, which Tom caught in a leaf given him for the purpose.

Karema had to suffer a similar wound, and his{156} sponsor caught his blood on another leaf. When this had been done, the fetichman made a long speech, which was repeated by Tom and his colleague. Tom afterwards translated it to me, and it proved to be a most elaborate series of curses on Karema and myself, and all our relations and friends, if we ever did any harm to each other, or if we, being in need or danger, did not at once hasten to each other’s assistance. Indeed we should have been as well cursed as the jackdaw of Rheims if in any way we either of us failed of our mutual duties; and as I am now well and hearty, I must have always fulfilled my share.

This having been completed, the two sponsors exchanged the leaves with the blood in them, and the fetichman putting his forefinger in the leaf containing my blood, rubbed it into the cut on Karema’s chest, and then rubbed his blood into mine. He next took some of the gunpowder and oil and rubbed it over the wounds. He then put the leaves and the remainder of the blood and gunpowder into the two buffalo horns.

As soon as this was done the people gave a mighty yell, and all who were possessed of drums, horns, bells, or other instruments of noise, made the most of their powers. The din lasted for about five minutes, and on a sign from the fetichman it ceased as suddenly as it had commenced.

I supposed that now the ceremony was over, but soon found I was mistaken, as two old and wrinkled women came into the circle, one of whom carried a{157} cocoa-nut shell and a gourd of water, and the other a square bottle of gin. From the large gourd, which seemed inexhaustible, the fetichman now drew out some roots and pieces of bark, which he cut into several small pieces and put into the cocoa-nut. Then pouring a little water on them, he stirred it up vigorously with an antelope’s horn, and filling it up with gin handed it to Karema, who took a large draught and gave it back to the fetichman. He placed it in my hands and signed that I should follow Karema’s example. I took a moderate sip, and found that it tasted very bitter, the gin burning my throat and almost taking away my breath.

The shell was now passed to Tom and Karema’s sponsor, who each took a drink, and the fetichman then finished off the remainder. The two buffalo horns were now taken up from the ground and filled up with mud. The one that had been between my legs was given to Karema, and his was given to me. We were led to the entrance to our enclosures, where the horns were hung up in order to keep all evil spirits and wicked men from injuring us; then returning once more to the middle of the village, the fetichman proclaimed in a stentorian voice that Franki was brother of Karema. This he did four times, first facing north, then south, then east, and lastly west.

Each time as he called out the people shouted, “Eh-a-a-a-n, Eh-a-a-a-n! Franki Karema, Karema{158} Franki!” and drums, bells, horns, and whistles were brought into requisition to increase the noise.

The ceremony was now finished, and I was one of the Adiana, as Karema’s people were called. From all in the village came presents, mostly small, such as a leaf of tobacco or an egg, a fowl or something of that sort; but from Karema came three women and three men carrying earthen pots, mats, hoes, stools, calabashes, and driving half-a-dozen goats. These people, as well as what they brought me, Tom told me, were now my property, and would have to cultivate my farm for me and do all the work that I required. One of the women, who was young and good-looking, he advised me to take for a wife.

I again told him that it was impossible, and at last he ceased to urge me to marry, saying, “Bery good. Me no sabey white man palaver; black man s’pose he get slave what be good he marry him one time.”

My new hut soon began to look habitable, and by Karema’s orders all the people of the village brought in poles and thatch and strips of bark to tie the frames together. Before evening huts were nearly finished to shelter my servants—for I would not call them slaves—and my live stock.

Next day these were finished, and with Karema I went out of the village and chose a piece of ground which was to be cultivated for me, and for which he gave me seed. Tom stopped this day with me, and advised me to make presents, out of the goods his{159} father had supplied me with, to all the principal men among my new countrymen, not forgetting the fetichman who had performed the ceremony of exchanging blood between Karema and me. Next day he left to go back to Jack Sprat’s village, and after bidding me good-bye most warmly, he got into the canoe which had brought us up and paddled away down-stream.

As he left, a sense of great loneliness came over me, for though I and Karema were brothers, I could not exchange a word with him, and how long it would be necessary for me to remain where I was I did not know. However, I consoled myself by thinking that I might have been in a much worse plight, and set myself to make the best of my present situation.

I soon found that I was able to pick up sufficient of the native language to make myself understood. I found employment to fill up my days in looking after my servants and farm, in hunting and shooting, and in learning the use of spear and bow, and how to manage a canoe, in all of which I became very expert. I found that the natives, after their first superstitious reverence for a white man had worn off, began to treat me as if I was not so good as themselves. When, however, they saw that I could surpass them at their own callings; that I was always to the front in hunting the wild cattle which abounded in the neighbouring woods, or in the more exciting and dangerous pastime of spearing hippopotami from our canoes; that no man’s spear was hurled further or with{160} truer aim; and that my arrows pierced deeper in the bodies of our prey than those of any of my companions—they looked upon me as one of their leading warriors, and openly spoke of me as the successor of Karema.

Among the whole tribe I could count only a few enemies, and these were a younger brother of Karema, named Dala—who before I came had expected to be his heir—and his special friends. I often tried to explain to Dala that it was impossible I should become the chief of the Adiana, as my intention was, as soon as ever I heard of the arrival of an English ship in the river, to make my way on board and return to my own country. Though Dala was forced to own the truth of what I said, he was so blinded with jealousy that he continued to try to do me harm. My plantations were often damaged, my fowls stolen, and my goats killed.

Karema loyally fulfilled all the obligations of brotherhood to me, and always made good my losses. The only actual annoyance they caused me was in proving that, notwithstanding anything I might do, Dala was my persistent enemy.

From time to time Tom came to visit me, but, alas! he never brought me news of the appearance of an English ship. Instead, he imparted the unpleasant intelligence that Pentlea and Camacho had made a large barracoon on the creek where the two schooners had been hidden, and that Okopa, having thrown in his{161} lot with them, was daily becoming possessed of more muskets and ammunition. Okopa was now more hostile than ever to all the people on Hararu’s side of the river, having even dared to destroy one or two small villages and carry off their inhabitants, besides constantly kidnapping fishermen and women.

Seed-time and harvest, dry and rainy seasons, passed by. I had been nearly two years with the Adiana, and was thinking I must at all risks try to get away, and I had sought to get Karema to allow me to try to make my way towards the big river of which he had told me when I first came to his country, when a circumstance occurred which had an important influence on my future.{162}



With a party of young men from the village, I had been for some days on a hunting expedition, in which we had varied luck. We had sent most of the meat and skins which we had obtained back to our village for distribution among the people, when suddenly one of the three men given to me on the day that the ceremony of my exchanging blood with Karema had been performed, who had become very much attached to me, and accompanied me wherever I went, said to me, “Franki, a long time we have hunted, and both buffalo and antelope are scarce; why do we not go further into the forest and far from the villages? We shall find more meat.”

“True, Fumo,” I replied; “but we have been many days in the jungle, and the men with us wish to go back to their wives.”

“No, Franki,” said Fumo; “there are seven here who wish to go far. The others who want to go back are women and not men.{163}

I soon made inquiries among our party, and found that some of the men said Karema had always said to return in eight days from the time of leaving the village, and not to go beyond a certain distance; and that now, if we were to obey his orders, we ought to set about returning at once.

I was looked upon by all the men as leader of the party, and I knew that I should have done right in complying with the wishes of Karema, from whom I had received nothing but kindness. Fumo’s words, however, excited in me a desire to see more of the country, and a hope that I might find some way of escape. I had no intention of being so base as to go away without telling Karema; but I thought the more I became acquainted with the country, the better I should be able to make my way to where I could find some traces of Englishmen.

After a long argument we decided that the men who wished to return to the village should do so, and Fumo and the other seven men who were willing to follow me should send word that we were going to remain out for another week, in the hope of finding game more plentiful. We were under the guidance of one of our number to make our way to a place where not only buffaloes and antelopes were known to be plentiful, but where elephants often came.

I knew, if we could get any ivory, Karema would willingly overlook our remaining away beyond the time he had fixed; but it was because I could not be{164} sure of his consenting to my going so far from the village that I determined on going to this place without returning to the village and telling him of my intention.

Fumo and I with our companions exchanged broken spears for sound ones with those who were returning, and took all the spare bowstrings and arrows we could muster. I was the only one of our number who possessed a gun, and my stock of ammunition was so scanty that I hoarded it with most jealous care, and had for some time made up my mind never to fire a shot except in a case of urgent necessity.

As soon as our companions had left us to go back to the village, we started off under the leadership of a man called Wanda, who said he knew the road. For the whole of that day we forced our way through almost impenetrable jungle, and camped for the night on the bank of a small stream.

Next morning we came into rather more open forest, and we were able to spread out in search of sport. Soon after we had started, I heard a great crashing among some undergrowth near us, and immediately afterwards a large antelope dashed out across our path with a leopard clinging to his shoulders. As quick as thought I brought my gun to my shoulder and fired, and the bullet struck the leopard full in the flank.

At once it quitted its prey and commenced to come towards us. My gun being unloaded, I threw it on the ground, and essayed to pick up my spear, which I{165} had dropped when in the act of firing; but I could not find it. Hearing Fumo, whose attention had been attracted by my firing, calling out, “Run, Franki, run!” I took to my heels, closely followed by the leopard.

I was running towards two of my companions, from whom I might get a spear, and with whose assistance I might have a chance of turning the tables on the leopard, when I heard a roar and a yell behind me. Looking round I saw that the faithful Fumo had attacked the leopard with a spear, but from some cause or other his blow had not been successful; and the infuriated beast, turning on him as he attempted to get away, had seized him by the back with claws and teeth.

I seized on a spear from the man nearest to me, and hurled it at the leopard and transfixed it through the loins. It at once let go its hold of Fumo, who fell forward on his face bleeding from his wounds, and turned towards its new assailants. We met its onslaught resolutely. Finding my own and Fumo’s spears, we all three kept stabbing at the beast as it attempted to tear us down to the ground. Fortunately the wounds which I had inflicted with bullet and spear had crippled the leopard’s movements, or we should have fared badly in the encounter. Except the one or two comparatively slight wounds which I received on my fore arms while driving my spear into its breast, we did not have any damage done to us. The rest of our companions, hearing{166} our shouts, came rushing up, and with their assistance we soon despatched our antagonist.

As soon as we were done with the leopard, I turned my attention to poor Fumo, who was in a terrible condition, the brute having torn the flesh off his back so that the bones were visible. I scarce knew what I should do to dress his wounds, and the only thing possible was to cut great slices of flesh from the leopard and tie them over the wounds; then, as he could not bear to be moved, we set to work and built a small hut over him. As my arms prevented my being of any use, I sat by his side to attend to his wants. The rest made a camp, cut firewood, and went to hunt for game to supply our larder.

Poor Fumo! I do not know what might have been done for him if we had had any knowledge of surgery or any proper appliances for dressing his wounds. For days he lingered on, not getting either any better or apparently any worse, and I thought it best to send word to Karema of what had occurred, and how we might be still delayed by Fumo being unable to travel. When I mentioned this, I was astonished to find that some of our companions wished to abandon Fumo to his fate, as it was impossible for him to recover, and to make our way back with all speed, for evidently there was some fetich against us.

I was indignant at this proposal, and said all could go if they chose, but when I returned I would tell Karema that they were not men but women, and they{167}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 165.



would be hooted by the women and jeered at by the boys, and never again would a man trust them as a companion in a fight or a hunt.

When I had finished speaking, the youngest of all, Chaka, a lad of my own age, rose up and said, “Listen! The words of Franki are good words. All may return, but Chaka will remain with Franki,” and then he sat down again.

For some moments there was silence, and then Wanda said, “I have been waiting to hear the words of those who want to leave Fumo to die. Franki will stop, and Chaka will stop, and I Wanda, I, too, am a man, and will stop with my friends when they are in trouble. Go back, and Karema will take your spears from you, and put hoes in your hands, and you shall work in the fields with the women.”

No answer was given to this appeal, and soon we saw our recreant companions packing up their little belongings and preparing to leave us. This was a most curious phase of the negro character. Here were men who only a few hours before had been ready to risk their lives to help the man whom now they proposed to leave to die alone and untended, and this simply because they had some idea that he was unlucky, or, in other words, that his fetich was bad. It was indeed fortunate that the two brave fellows, Wanda and Chaka, had consented to remain with me and their wounded companion.

Those who had made up their minds to return did{170} not linger over their preparations; and though they could only make a short distance on their journey that night, they started off at once, refusing even to help Chaka and Wanda to make a fence round our huts as a protection against wild beasts.

When they left, Chaka and Wanda set about this necessary work, and, as the deserters had collected a considerable quantity of wood and branches before I had unfortunately proposed sending to tell Karema of Fumo’s mischance, we were able by sunset to make ourselves tolerably secure, and have big fires lighted to scare away wild beasts. My arms, which the leopard had torn, had by this time become so painful that I was unable in any way to assist in this most necessary work. Poor Fumo was in great pain, and groaned pitifully. During the whole night I could not sleep at all, and in the morning I was seized by an attack of fever. For days I was ill, and conscious only at intervals, during one of which my faithful friends told me that Fumo was dead.

I was slowly recovering from the fever, and was greatly rejoiced in finding that my arms were nearly healed, when one day, Chaka and Wanda having gone out to try to kill some game for our larder, I was sitting in the door of our hut, and I suddenly heard shouts of “Franki, Franki!” Thinking that perhaps Karema, hearing of our having remained with Fumo, had sent men to our relief, I got on my feet to go in the direction whence the sound came. Walking slowly{171} thither I saw Chaka and Wanda burst from the jungle, and spears and arrows flying after them.

Evidently they had fallen in with a party belonging to some hostile tribe. They shouted out, “Franki, get in the camp, or we’ll be killed!” and poor Wanda, before he could reach that haven of comparative safety, fell down dead with a couple of spears right through him.

As soon as he reached our little camp, Chaka closed up the entrance, and then said, “O Franki, Wanda and I had just killed an antelope, and were busy skinning and cutting it up, when we were startled by some arrows flying past us, and looking up we saw many men among the trees, and we ran, and as we ran we called to you.”

The party who had attacked my two friends and killed poor Wanda now showed themselves all round the open space in which our little camp was situated. By their arms, shields, and the manner in which they were decorated with beads and feathers (which was different from anything I had yet seen), I could see that they were members of a tribe who were entire strangers to me.

They shouted out to us to come out of our camp or they would kill us all; their language, though different from that of the Adiana, in which I was now a proficient, being sufficiently allied to it for us to understand.

Chaka was evidently in a dreadful state of fright.{172} He begged me not to resist, but to speak to the strangers and endeavour to make terms with them, for he said they were a very fierce people and ate the bodies of those killed in battle. “How dreadful it is to be eaten!” said Chaka.

I shouted that if our lives would be spared we would come out, but if they would not promise not to injure us we would resist to the utmost. At first they laughed at us, but when they saw that I was a white man and had a gun they said they would not kill us. Chaka and I, as soon as the promise was given, ran to where Wanda was lying, but could render him no assistance. The spear which had pierced him having gone clean through his heart, death must have been instantaneous.

We were not allowed much time to mourn over the death of our companion, for the strangers surrounded us at once, and after seizing our weapons, bound our arms behind our backs, and then put a cord round our necks. Having rifled our camp of all that was of value in their eyes, they cut up Wanda’s body into pieces, which they distributed among themselves, and then commenced their return to their own camp, which was situated about five miles away.

Here we found a large body of men on a hunting and plundering expedition, who had made several captives from neighbouring tribes. Among these unfortunates Chaka and I were made to take our place, and large logs of wood were fitted round our ankles, so that it was impossible for us to do more than hobble along very slowly.{173}

We soon had unwelcome proof that our captors were indeed cannibals, for before our eyes they ate the body of poor Wanda; and Chaka, becoming terror-stricken, said constantly to me, “Then you see if we had resisted we should have been eaten.” I own I did not feel philosophical enough to argue, and felt quite as much horror at the idea as he did.

Next morning at daylight our captors broke up their camp. We gathered from their conversation they intended to make the best of their way back to their own villages, which lay a long way up the Ogowai, on the banks of which we were to find some canoes they had hidden, and in which we were to travel up-stream. This was very good news to me; for it was weary and painful work to hobble along with my leg in a log, which I had with both hands to lift at every step by a loop of rope made fast to it. Indeed, in my weak state I was only urged on by fear of being left fettered and helpless to be the prey of jackals and hyenas, or, if I escaped from them, to die of thirst and hunger.

My sufferings were intense. My leg, from my ankle to my knee, was soon a mass of sores; and if ever I halted for a moment, our captors forced me on with blows and jeers. Poor Chaka, who was tied to me by a rope round our necks, though faring even worse than I did, kept on trying to cheer me up by saying that when we got to the river we should be sure to find means of escaping, or that the people whom Karema{174} would be sure to send to look for us would manage to release us.

No hope of either entered into my mind. As we wearily dragged along, I could not help thinking how all this fresh trouble had come on me from not complying with Karema’s desires, whose slightest wish should have been law to me, when I considered how great and consistent had been his kindness to me during the whole time I had lived with him.

I did not think it was possible that Karema could send enough men to attack our enemies with any prospect of success, for it seemed unlikely for him to have any knowledge of the fresh misfortunes which had befallen us. In this I was mistaken, as the event shortly proved.{175}



On the evening before we expected to reach the banks of the Ogowai, I and Chaka were lying, tired and weary, under a large tree, while our captors were busily employed in building the camp. Suddenly some of the men who were away cutting branches and grass to make huts came rushing in, saying that a large party of Adiana were upon us. Instantly a panic seized all the party, and hastily snatching up their weapons they rushed away into the jungle, leaving Chaka and myself behind.

The idea that we were about to be released gave Chaka and myself new life. Getting on our feet we cried out at the top of our voices, to let the new-comers know that we were still alive.

Soon we saw them advancing towards us, and heard their shouts and cries. We thought that in another two or three minutes we should be released from the torture which the logs were causing us. Soon we could recognize their faces, and I was astonished to see that they{176} were headed by Dala. I augured ill from this, more especially as I could soon see that he was accompanied by his own friends, and by a party from a village near Karema’s which was considered as his special property.

Instead of releasing me, Dala stood over me and said, “Franki, you will never see your people, nor will you ever go back to pour poison into the ears of Karema.”

I protested I had never done him any harm, and that all my wish was to get home to my own country as soon as possible. He would not listen to me, but gave orders for a call to be beaten on his drums which would tell the runaways that his intentions were peaceful and not warlike.

We soon heard their shouts, and a parley was carried on for some time between Dala and their leaders at the top of their voices. Soon they all came back into camp, laughing, singing, and talking, on the best of terms with the Adiana, whom Chaka and I had fondly hoped had come to rescue us.

After a time a man came and, striking me across the face with a strip of hippopotamus hide, so as to bring blood, told me to accompany him to where the chief of our captors and Dala were sitting on a log near a fire. I got up and followed, and when I got near, Dala, with much coarse language, told me to listen to what he had to say. First he summed up a number of imaginary injuries which he said I had done him, and accused me of having always poisoned Karema’s mind{177}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 175.



against him—which was totally untrue—and next of not having obeyed Karema’s orders in returning at the proper time, and thereby having caused the death of Fumo and Wanda.

I tried to speak and defend myself, but he said I had the tongue of a serpent and should never again poison the ears of Karema. Raising his spear, I thought he was about to strike me dead, when his companion, whose name I learned was Kifura, prevented him. Dala said, “It is well; let him live; but I will do worse than kill him;” and then addressing me said, “Franki, the English are in the river and waiting for you. Hararu has sent canoes to take you to your own people.”

A rush of thankfulness went through my whole being, and I cared not for pains nor logs nor any discomforts, and said, “O Dala, take me, take me quickly, that I may go to my own people; and when I reach them I will give you many things—guns, powder, beads, cloth—all that you wish shall be yours.”

“Listen to his words,” said Dala. “A slave, a dog promises me guns; he promises me cloth. Know that if all that white men make in their country were given me I would not take you to the English ship, for I hate you.”

I fell on my knees and, weeping and crying, implored this hard-hearted savage to have pity on me. I pointed out how Karema could not possibly make me his heir if I left the country, and I promised that not one word{180} would I say of his present behaviour; but all without effect, and again he raised his spear as if to kill me, but again Kifura stopped him.

“Listen, Dala of the Adiana,” said Kifura. “Why should you kill this white man? Mine he is, and mine he will continue; if you kill him, my words will go to Karema, and you will never be chief in his place. Take counsel with me and be wise. The men who are with you, will their words be as your words?”

“Truly, what I say they say. They are my own, and their lives are in my hands.”

“Take wisdom in your hands, and return to Karema and say unto him, ‘I have found the place where Franki was, but he was dead when we came; and I followed after other people, for I found the traces of many men, and I found that one other of our people—he who is even now a prisoner—was with them, and I came and found him in their hands, and they released him.’ Go your way with this man, and the English will give you guns for having gone after this white man.”

“But, Kifura, this slave, this Chaka, is a friend of Franki’s, and he will say unto Karema that Franki lives. I will kill him, and his tongue will be silent.”

“Stay your hand, Dala. While the man lives he may work, and I can use him. Let him remain, and say that he also is dead.”

“Surely, Kifura, the life of this slave is nothing to me; but he may come back and make me a liar before Karema.{181}

“No, Dala, he shall never come back. They who fall into the hands of Kifura never escape.”

“Then let him live; but this Franki, let me slay him, for while he lives I shall not have peace.”

“No, he may not be slain; for never before has Kifura had a white man in his hands. And when I go to my own people they will say Kifura is indeed a warrior; the women will dance, and they shall sing that there is no man among the Balaba like unto him, for never before has a man of the Balaba brought a white man as a slave.”

There was a further discussion between these two worthies as to the question of my being killed. At last it was settled that Chaka and I were to remain in the hands of the Balaba, and that Dala was to return to Karema and say we both were dead. In consideration of Dala foregoing his wish to murder me he was to be given a canoe to return down the river in, which he could say he had captured from the Balaba in fight.

I was ordered to return to where Chaka was lying, and I told him of the conversation between Dala and Kifura.

“Oh that I were free,” said he, “that I might kill him and die. He is a dog, and the son of a dog. But, Franki, while Chaka is with you he will be your slave, and what service he can render you he will render.”

It was long ere I could close my eyes in sleep, for I was tortured by despair at my evil fortune and the{182} thought that if I had not disregarded Karema’s desires I might even now have been among my own people and probably with my own father and brother. At last I was exhausted by the very violence of my emotions, and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep, from which I was awakened by a great noise and shouting.

I raised myself up to see what was the cause, and I found the whole camp in commotion. On looking for Chaka I found that he was no longer by my side. After a bit I heard a piercing shriek, as if some one was killed. I tried to drag myself towards the noise, for I feared that my faithful companion was the victim; but I was soon seized upon by two men and dragged before Kifura. By his side lay the dead body of Dala, with a knife in its breast; and close by the corpse of Chaka, riddled with spears.

Kifura gave orders for me to have, in addition to the log on my ankle, a slave-fork put round my neck and my hands lashed behind my back.

While his orders were being carried out I gathered what had occurred. I found that Chaka, notwithstanding the encumbrance of the log on his leg, had managed to creep close to where Dala was sleeping, and drawing the latter’s knife from his girdle had driven it into his heart. As he rose to do so the light of a neighbouring fire fell on him, and one of the Balaba seeing what he was doing, raised an alarm. Before Chaka could get a dozen feet from the body of his victim he was speared to death.{183}

The men who had followed Dala were now furious for my death, but Kifura would not give me up to them. The day breaking shortly after, the Balaba and Adiana separated—the latter returning to their own village, and the Balaba making their way to the Ogowai.

I dragged my weary steps along as best I could, every symptom of flagging being rewarded with a lash from a hippopotamus-hide whip; but at last I stumbled and fell, and was powerless to rise again. Flogging and burning with hot coals were resorted to by my savage captors in order to force me on my feet again; but I was so thoroughly weary and sick of life that nothing could induce me to stir. At last Kifura, fearing that I would die, gave orders to have the log and slave-fork taken off me, and then he and his followers tried again to force me on my feet. But hoping that they might kill me, I stubbornly refused to move. At last a pole about eight or nine feet long was cut from a neighbouring tree, and having lashed me tightly to it with strips of bark and hide, four men were told off to carry me.

They had no more mercy than if I had been totally destitute of feeling. They bumped me against trees, dragged me through thorns, and hauled me over fallen trunks, bruising me all over and tearing nearly all the skin off my body. At the same time flies, stinging ants, and other noisome insects, attracted by my sores, fattened on my blood and clustered so thickly round my{184} eyes that I thought I should have been blinded. When I felt myself thrown down like a log in the bottom of a leaky canoe I thought I had undergone the extremity of torture, and that though I was trampled on by the people crowding on board, and had all sorts of things flung on me, I might now have comparative rest and peace. I was fated to find that I had still more exquisite agony to endure; for though the water in the bottom of the canoe was cool, and the abominable insect pests had left, my lashings became tightened by the wet and cut into me like lines of fire; my limbs and body swelled; one lashing round my neck almost throttled me, so that every breath I drew was torture, and another across my forehead seemed to be eating in to my very brain.

I felt that it was impossible to endure such intensity of pain and still to exist, and I begged and prayed to be released. For some time my entreaties were unheeded; but at last Kifura, fearing that I should die, and that he would be deprived of the triumph of bringing a live white man as a prisoner into his country, gave orders for my lashings to be cut. I felt instant relief, even though I was so stiff and helpless that I was unable to sit up, and had to continue lying in the bottom of the canoe, kicked, trampled, and spat upon by its other occupants.

All day long we paddled up the river, and at night camped on its bank, the canoes being hauled up on shore. Rejoicing in being close to their own homes,{185} the Balaba, notwithstanding the fatigues of the day, sang and danced round huge fires nearly the livelong night. To my fevered imagination they seemed like a company of demons rejoicing over the pains of some condemned soul.

In the morning we were early under way again. About eight o’clock, judging by the height of the sun, I heard the sound of rushing water, and presently the canoes put into the bank. All the men went ashore and began stripping the bark from trees and twisting it into ropes. From their conversation I gathered that we were at the foot of some rapids up which it was necessary to haul the canoes.

Unable to walk, I managed to sit up and look about me, and I could see that our numbers had been largely increased. There were many women whom I had not previously seen among the party, so I supposed that we could not be far from the end of the journey.

At first I did not attract much attention, but some of the women coming down to the canoes with bundles of rope noticed me, and cried out that there was a white man. I was soon surrounded by a crowd, who pulled my hair, looked into my eyes, examined my toes and fingers, and shouted and screamed with wonder at the whiteness of my skin, or rather at such portions of it as remained light-coloured. I was so grimed with dirt and tanned with the sun and weather that I doubt if any Englishman would from my appearance have owned me as a fellow-countryman.{186}

I tried to appeal to them to do something to relieve my sufferings; but they only laughed at my speaking, as if I were a strange species of ape, until one old woman came down bending under a heavy load of twisted bark.

When this good old woman saw me she rebuked the crowd of gapers who were standing around, saying—

“Is he not a man, and suffers pain like us? Go, get leaves and get drink for him.”

Getting into the canoe, she seated herself by my side, and began to bind up the worst of my wounds with plantain leaves, which she arranged as deftly as any member of the College of Surgeons would have done a bandage.

I felt instant relief from her services, and when she gave me a bowl of fresh plantain wine which one of the other women brought her, I began to have hope once more. Whilst she was busied about me Kifura came to see what she was doing, and rebuked her for wasting her time about a slave and a prisoner.

She answered: “O Kifura! he is a slave and a prisoner, it is true; but even slaves and prisoners have feelings, and die like other men; and this man is a white man. Now when Kifura comes to-night to his home, people at the dance will say there is no chief like Kifura, who has brought a white man to Kitaka; and words will go to all that Kifura has a white man at Kitaka, and people will come from all places to see him, and say that Kifura is indeed a big chief. But if{187} he die, it is finished, and people will say that the words of Kifura are emptiness, and that he is no better than another.”

Kifura was somewhat convinced by her arguments, and told her she might continue her care of me; but that, if I escaped, her life would be the forfeit. Having obtained permission to attend on me, the old woman, whose name she told me was Teta, managed to rig up a place so that I could sit up in the canoe. Having done all she could for my comfort, she said that I would have to remain in it while it was hauled up the rapids, for it would be impossible for me to climb the hills, and that in the evening when we arrived at Kitaka she would take me to her own hut and tend me as if I were a son.

The canoes were now cleared of their contents, and only three men left in each canoe to manage them and fend them off rocks and snags while they were hauled up the rapids by the ropes which all hands had been busy preparing.

Shoving off from the shore we pushed round a small point and came full in sight of the rapids. I confess as I saw what was before us I did not care about making the ascent in the helpless condition in which I was; for the waters were rushing down at an angle of sixty degrees with the horizon, and huge and ugly rocks showed their heads above the surface, the foam flying wildly round them.

One by one the canoes were brought out of the still{188} water, where they had been made fast to long ropes which were manned by men on shore and on the rocks above. Even before they commenced the actual ascent they were knocked about in the Witches’ Caldron into which the waters fell, as if they were certain to be swamped or capsized. The canoe in which I was a helpless passenger was the last to make the journey, so I had lots of time to contemplate the risks that we were about to undergo. The first canoe went safely through the boiling and seething water at the foot of the rapids, and was dragged to the ascent. At the commencement she dipped her bow and shipped a huge quantity of water; but recovering herself it went flying out over her stern, washing out a quantity of small articles which their owners had been too lazy or careless to remove. I at once saw that if the same thing happened to ours I myself should be washed out and drowned to a certainty.

My kind old woman Teta was standing on the bank near me. I called to her and told her of my fears. She laughed, and comforted me like a wayward child, and tried to persuade me that it was impossible; but at last she yielded to my persuasions, and taking off a cloth she wore she passed it behind my back and under my armpits, and knotted it securely to a piece of wood running across the canoe.

By the time she had finished a great shout announced the safe arrival of the first canoe at the summit of the rapids; and the ropes were brought down{189}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 188.



again and made fast to the second canoe. I could see, as the ascent commenced, that she made a dip like her predecessor, and was very glad that Teta had consented to lash me. Having nothing else to attend to, I now watched the ascent most carefully, and could see that it was with the utmost difficulty the men inside kept her from being smashed on the rocks, and that she often came perilously near capsizing; but she too was got up in safety, so was the third canoe, and then it came to our turn to make the ascent.

I did not feel very comfortable as we were dragged through the broken water, which flew into the canoe until she was half full. As we made the dip and drive into the rapids at their foot, the water struck me with such force as to knock all the breath out of my body; but the send we gave as the canoe recovered herself sent all flying out over the stern and left her nearly free.

I watched as we made our slow and perilous ascent, sometimes not going ahead an inch, and sometimes even receding and coming dangerously close to the rocks,—the men in the canoe with me exerting their utmost strength and skill to prevent her being stove in.

After a bit I saw we were getting more to the middle of the rapids than the other canoes had done, and that the rope from the shore was singing like a harpstring as the water struck against us. I do not know why it was, but one knot about a couple of fathoms from the{192} canoe seemed to have a peculiar fascination for me, and I soon saw that it was giving. The men in the canoe saw this too, and shouted with all their strength for their friends on shore and on the rocks to ease us down again so as to secure it afresh; but the noise of the rapids drowned their voices, and their cries being understood to be cries of encouragement, the men manning the ropes hauled away all the more vigorously.

The spare ends of the knot grew shorter and shorter, and it became a question whether the knot would hold out or slip before we arrived at the top of the rapids. Slowly we made our way, and were almost in safety, when a log coming down the river struck against the bow of the canoe. This extra strain was too much for the knot, and it slipped.

Instantly the canoe swung out against the rocks and hung below one of them, with the water rushing over her, half capsized, and then the three men who formed her crew were thrown out into the rapids. I was in a most perilous position, half suffocated by the water tearing over me, and expecting every moment that the other rope would be cut through by the rocks against which it was grinding, and that I and the canoe would be dashed to pieces. I could do nothing to help myself; and there I hung in the canoe for a time which seemed to me an eternity, only waiting for the end.

I had entirely given myself up for lost, and was trying to frame a prayer imploring forgiveness for my sins, when I felt that the grating of the rope over the{193} rocks, which was causing the whole canoe to vibrate, had ceased. Then I felt myself being again hauled through the water, sometimes under and sometimes above water, the canoe rolling over and over as we were hauled over the edge of the rapids.

Just at the last moment I received a blow on my head which stunned me, whether from a piece of wood or a rock I know not. When I recovered consciousness I found myself lying on a rock with old Teta bending over me and bathing my forehead. As I opened my eyes she bade me be of good cheer, as I had a strong fetich and the river could not kill me. I do not know that I felt much comfort from her assurance, for I thought if the future had as much suffering in store for me as the past, death would be a merciful release to me. She told me the three men who had been in the canoe with me were all drowned, and I could not help feeling how fate seemed to be against all those who were in any danger with me. First Fumo, then Wanda, then Chaka and Dala, and now these three Balaba, all dead, but I, who had undergone more perils than all of them, was still alive.

As I was thinking of this a feeling of thankfulness to God for my preservation took the place of despondency, and aided by Teta I sat up and looked round. I saw that the rapids up which we had been dragged were only a portion of the ascent which had to be made; for on the other side of a pool of still water were a series of vertical falls about twenty feet high, and{194} men were busy hauling the canoes over the rocks that divided them.

I was now put in another canoe and paddled across the pool, with my head resting in Teta’s lap, who had now removed the cloth with which she had tied me into the canoe, and which had formed the principal portion of her dress. Under her direction I was carefully carried up the rocks, and put into another canoe, in which we soon reached Kifura’s village, the principal village among the Balaba.

Here Teta carried me to her own hut, where she nursed and tended me carefully. Though my recovery was slow and tedious, I was at length restored to health and strength. As soon as I was able to go about I turned all my attention to get away and, if possible, descend the river and again get in communication with my friends Karema, Tom, and Jack Sprat. I found, however, that my every movement was so jealously watched that it was impossible to think of getting away; and when I confided my intentions to Teta she said it would be no good trying to escape, but I had much better sit down quietly where I was and trust that in time Kifura would let me go.

I asked if there was any chance of people coming up to the Balaba to trade. She said they never allowed people living below the rapids to come above them, and by that means they managed to keep the whole trade of the river in their own hands.

I saw several parties sent away down the river with{195}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 193.



slaves and ivory, and endeavoured by most lavish promises of reward to induce the men forming them to convey the news to Karema that I was still alive; but my doing so only resulted in a closer guard being kept on my actions, and my being removed from Teta’s guardianship and put to lodge in a hut close by Kifura’s, where I was never left alone for a moment. During the period of my stay with the Balaba I was never ill-treated, being regarded as a sort of sacred being. I was amply supplied with food and cloth. With the cloth I managed to make myself clothes after the European fashion, which were so much admired that I was constantly employed as tailor for Kifura and his principal men.

Having a sufficiency of food and drink, I gradually sank into an apathetic condition, and did not care for more than the occurrences of the day, and I quite lost my reckoning of the lapse of time. From this state I was at last aroused by the following incidents.

Kifura and the Balaba were constantly engaged in war with some of the neighbouring tribes in search of ivory and slaves; and in one of these many of the Balaba were slain, and Kifura himself was taken prisoner. The news of his defeat and capture was brought in by a fetichman, who was instructed to ask for a large quantity of cloth, beads, and other goods for his ransom.

A council of the elders was summoned to discuss the matter, and, attracted by the noise, I went and listened{198} to the discussion. As soon as the fetichman saw me he asked from whence I had come, and what a white man was doing in Kifura’s village. When he was told I was Kifura’s white man, he said it could not be endured that Kifura should have a white man while those who had conquered him had none; but if I were given over to him, Kifura and his fellow-prisoners would be liberated without any further payment.

Now that the novelty of my presence had worn off, the elders did not attach any great importance to my possession, and gladly accepted the offer. Next day a party of men set off, taking me with them to the place where the exchange was to be made. Before leaving I was permitted to say farewell to my kind protectress Teta, who wept at losing me, and said that her husband and children being dead I had been to her in the place of a son. Opening a bark box which contained her choicest treasures, she took from it a string of beads to which hung the polished base of a sea-shell, and this she said had come into her husband’s hands from a man who travelled almost to the world’s end, and would protect me from many dangers.

I myself felt greatly at parting from my benefactress, and I think it no shame to my manhood to own that I shed many and bitter tears when my escort dragged me from her and forced me to commence my march.

My new masters lived beyond the sources of the Ogowai, and our march to their country was long and{199} wearisome. I was not unkindly treated, but only carefully watched to prevent my escaping. When we arrived I found the village of the chief was situated on a river called the Alima, which, I heard, after many days’ journey fell into a great river where the people traded with the white man.{200}



About six months after I had been exchanged for Kifura, and the rainy season being finished, I was awakened from a state of apathy by preparations being made for a journey down the Alima with a quantity of slaves and elephants’ teeth. This was considered of such importance that the chief himself was to go in command; and I heard it debated among the gray heads of the tribe whether I should be taken or not.

Some argued that if other tribes, through whose country we were to pass, saw me they would be so desirous of possessing themselves of me that they would attack my masters, and therefore my presence would add immensely to the risks of the journey. Others held that many tribes had only heard of white men, and knowing that from their country came the beads, brass rods, napkins, and cloths, so highly prized by the natives of Africa, attribute the production to the possession of some powerful and wonder-working magic by white men. When these tribes saw that one of{201} that strange and supernatural race was a slave to the passers through their territories, they would consider their fetich was even stronger than that of the white men, and therefore immensely superior to that of any other tribe of blacks. Accordingly, they would abstain from interfering with or molesting us in any way.

The pros and cons were eagerly urged on both sides, and, as may be imagined, I listened with great interest. I hoped, when we reached the great river at the end of the journey, to find among the people there buying the slaves and ivory, if not a white man, at all events some in constant communication with the coast, whom I might induce to ransom me, and send me to where white men came. I thought that, even if I fell into the hands of slave-dealers, the story of my sufferings and adventures might induce the hardest-hearted of them all to assist me to return to my own country.

For days the argument went on. At last it seemed as if those who were for my being left behind would prevail, when one morning the wife of the chief announced that during the night she had had a dream in which she had been told that the white man’s presence would bring good fortune to the travellers. As she was generally credited with having a more than ordinary intimacy with the spirits of evil, her words were listened to; and when, three days later, the party set out, I was among those composing it, though placed under the special guard of four men, with strict orders{202} to kill me if I attempted to escape or communicate in any way with strangers.

Precautions were taken in order that I might not elude the vigilance of my guard. At all times, except when liberated to feed myself, my hands were tied behind my back, and a line from my wrists was made fast to the waist of one of the guards, while a sort of bag or hood was put over my head, so that I might not see the way we were going.

Fettered and blindfolded in this manner I was placed in a canoe. I soon felt that the crew were paddling vigorously. They sang of all the wonderful things they were to obtain in exchange for their ivory and slaves; and how, when they returned, they would be able to enjoy themselves in perfect idleness, and do nothing but sing, dance, and drink from morn to eve and from eve to morn.

I could, of course, see nothing of the country we passed through; but as we were going down a river, I thought we must be getting nearer and nearer to the sea. I cared little for the discomforts of my situation, as I hoped that every day was bringing me closer to liberty and the companionship of white and, I trusted, civilized men.

At night, when we camped on the river bank, or when we halted at one of the numerous villages which we passed by, I was brought out and unhooded to show my pale face to the people whose countries we were passing through. Loud boasts were made by{203} my owners of the great powers of their fetich, which enabled them to become the fortunate proprietors of a white man, and many and strange were the powers which were also attributed to me.

Fortunately, when I was shown, the people who came to gaze at me seemed to be desirous of propitiating me, and of getting me to exercise these powers on their behalf. Presents of fowls, eggs, yams, plantains, and ground-nuts were often laid at my feet, and sometimes even their desire for good fortune so far overcame their innate avarice that a goat or a pig was brought as a present. I always smiled and tried to look pleased, as I found that the more that was brought the better my masters treated me. Though but a small portion of these gifts and offerings fell ultimately to my lot, still I hoped my masters would get more and more free in showing me, and that the hood, which in that hot climate was almost an intolerable nuisance, would in time be removed, as often as I could hear people on the banks crying out to have the white man shown to them, and offering gifts for even a glimpse of his face.

At last this was done, and a few days after we came into what seemed to me a lake with islands bounded in part by steep hills of white sand. I afterwards found it was only a widening of the great river into which the Alima fell, and which was no other than the mighty Congo.

The Bateke, as the people living on the northern side{204} of this river-lake were called, were keen and eager traders. A few days after our arrival among them, I was most strangely affected by a very simple occurrence, which seemed to me an omen of approaching deliverance from my unhappy lot.

This happened when a village chief, who was desirous of buying the slaves and ivory which we had brought with us for sale, came to bargain with my masters. He brought several large vessels filled with native beer, and instead of the usual gourd or basket as a drinking vessel, he used a common white earthenware mug, on which was a view of Clifton, with “A present for a good boy from Clifton” printed below it.

All European manufactures, save beads and a few pieces of cloth, had long been strangers to my sight, and now to see this mug, of which I had seen hundreds of counterparts for sale in the shop windows during the days of my happy school life, brought a flood of memories into my heart, and seemed like a message to me that I should not despair. Doubtless that cup, leaving England in some Bristol ship, perchance the Petrel herself, had penetrated into that strange and unknown country by a road by which I might find my way to the sea-coast.

I thought of good Dr. Poynter, old Abe, and my schoolfellows, and this cup seemed a direct message to me from them not to lose heart. As I looked at it I became so powerfully and strangely affected that I burst into tears, and my hands at the time not being{205} fastened, I seized upon the senseless piece of clay and covered it with kisses.

My owners, when they saw how the sight of this cup had worked upon me, instantly became possessed with the belief that it was some mighty fetich, and that if I was allowed to handle it I would be able to work them some evil and obtain my freedom. The Bateke chief also thought it was a fetich, and it was instantly torn from my hands lest by its aid I should render all around subservient to my wishes. My hands were again tied behind my back, and I was taken away and lashed to a post at a little distance, where I could see all that went on.

My owners were so desirous of possessing the mug that they offered its owner tusks of ivory and slaves. As he saw their desire to possess it was very keen, he refused all their offers; and at last, by their gestures and the looks which were constantly directed towards me, I made out that it was being discussed whether I should not be exchanged for the mug.

The Bateke chief had seen many mugs and cups like the one in question now, but he had never before seen a white man; and my owners, though they were very proud of possessing a white slave, were still more eager to possess this mug, which they thought, from the emotion it had caused in me, must be a most powerful fetich. As I afterwards found out, they argued that it might be dangerous for them to have both it and me, lest in some unguarded moment the precious{206} object might fall into my possession, and I might, with its aid, revenge upon them all the miseries and insults they had lavished on me. At last they consented to exchange me for this mug, which possibly might have been worth fourpence.

No sooner was the bargain concluded than I was untied from the post and turned over to my new master. He put me in his canoe and took me to his village, which was about four miles below the place where my late owners had camped, and there he gave me in charge of his mother, an old and wrinkled woman of at least seventy, who ruled over his numerous wives and slaves with an iron hand.

I soon found that this old dame had not much superstitious reverence for me as a white man. I had to go and work on her plantations and collect firewood like any ordinary slave—the only difference between me and others being that I was more jealously guarded, though, as being more valuable, having slightly better food and shelter.

My old masters left for their own country soon after I had passed from their hands. Before long I found there seemed to be little chance of my getting away from the Bateke and making my way to the sea-coast. Nevertheless, after some time the guard over me became less severe. The old hag who had charge of me becoming more blind and feeble, and not being able to keep so strict a watch over her son’s belongings as she had hitherto done, I found opportunities of convers{207}ing with some of my fellow-slaves, and struck up a kind of friendship with one called Duma, a fellow a year or two older than myself.

Duma told me he belonged to a tribe that lived some distance down the river, below some vast and fearful cataracts; and if it were not that he was afraid of passing these he would long ago have stolen a canoe and made his way by the river to his own people and his own home.

I asked why he had not tried to make his way past the cataracts on foot. He replied the way was very long and difficult. So many and great were the dangers to be encountered from wild beasts and wilder men that he had been loath to make the attempt by himself. Among all our fellow-slaves there was not one whom he could trust to go with him. Indeed, he was afraid even to speak to them about escaping, for fear of being betrayed to our master. But if I would share the hazard of the undertaking with him he would make an attempt to steal a canoe and to escape about the time of the next new moon, when the nights would be long and dark.

About a fortnight had to elapse before the proper time for our start would arrive. Duma and I employed it in secreting a store of provisions to serve us on our journey, and in getting together a few spears, a bow and arrows, a small fishing-net, and other little things, such as a stick for making fire, an earthen pot, and a small hatchet. All these things we hid in a hole{208} in the bank of the river not far from where the canoes of the village were usually kept. To prevent suspicion from attaching to us for being much in the neighbourhood of the canoes, we employed ourselves in fishing, and were most careful to bring all our prey to our old mistress, who was exceedingly fond of fish for food, and who was thus kept in good humour.

About three days before that fixed upon for starting, Duma came to me in a state of great excitement. He told me that one of the women slaves, who was a countrywoman of his, had found out our intention of absconding, and insisted on joining us in our flight. If we did not consent, she threatened to inform the chief that we were going to run away.

I was nothing loath to have a third person to join us in our attempt. I own I had rather it had been a man. Still the spirit she showed was evidence she would not stick at anything, and of this she soon gave us further proof.

At Duma’s request I went with him to see his countrywoman, who proved to be a tall powerful lass of eighteen or nineteen years of age. She asserted she was as good a hand at paddling a canoe as any man, and that she could carry heavy loads and march far and fast. As soon as she saw me she asked me if I could use one of the white man’s iron sticks out of which fire came.

I, of course, knew she meant a gun, and said that I could certainly use it. She then told me that the{209} chief had one in his hut, and she would try to steal it for me. I told her the gun would be of no use without the black powder which it ate and the firestones belonging to it, and that if she got the gun she would have to find ammunition also. This she said would not be quite so easy a matter; but if I would give her the shell and beads my old friend Teta had hung round my neck on parting from me, she would try to bribe one of the chief’s wives under whose charge the pouches and belts of the gun were, and bring them to us at the canoe.

She also said we must be ready to start any night, and must get leave for fishing at night, so that our absence from the slaves’ quarters need occasion no surprise. Indeed, now that she had become one of our party, she showed more spirit and energy than Duma and myself put together. Agreeably to her instructions, we got leave, and a little before sunset put out from the shore as if we were going a fishing; but when it was well dark we came back again, took our provisions out of their hiding-place, and stowing them in the canoe, waited the coming of Pipa, as our confederate was called.

Presently, while we were anxiously expecting her arrival, we could see dimly a number of canoes floating down the stream. Fearing that she had betrayed us, we were about to restore our goods to their hiding-place, when we were pleasantly surprised by her calling to us she had got the gun and the things belonging to{210} it, and had set adrift the canoes that we had seen and which had caused us so much fright, and now she wanted our assistance to launch some which were too heavy for her to move by herself.

I confess I was both astonished and delighted by the courage and address of Pipa. With Duma I hurried at once to her assistance. We soon had all the canoes belonging to the village in the water and drifting away down-stream, save three or four which were too big for our united efforts to move. In order that when our escape was discovered they should be of no use to the Bateke if they desired to pursue after us, we damaged these, so as to render them useless. As soon as this most wise and necessary precaution had been taken, we got on board our own craft. Duma and Pipa taking the paddles, I had an opportunity of examining the weapon brought us, which was the only fire-arm owned at that time by the Bateke.

It was a curious-looking affair, and in England would have been deemed fitter for a place in a museum or a curiosity shop than to be fired off. The barrel was immensely long, and bound to the stock by a number of little brass bands, while close to the breech a piece of the skin of an elephant’s tail had been shrunk on to it to guard against bursting. The butt, which was ornamented with cowries and a fly-flapper made of a zebra’s tail, was very straight and awkward. However, though it was but a clumsy, unwieldy piece, I found that the lock was in fair working order. In the{211} pouches obtained with good old Teta’s parting gift there were half-a-dozen flints, besides powder and some iron bullets. I fitted in a flint, and proceeded to load and prime the piece. Then I laid it down carefully, ready for use if occasion should arise. Seizing a paddle, I added my efforts to those of Duma and Pipa in putting as much distance as possible between us and our quondam masters before our flight should be discovered.

Favoured by the current, we must have been some seven miles away before the lighting of fires told us that the village was alarmed. Soon we found that not only behind us but also in front danger was to be feared. The alarm rapidly spread, and not only astern and abreast of us, but also ahead, we saw fires burning. It became a question whether we should run the risk of putting out into the middle of the stream, and possibly missing the passage out of its lake-like widening, or whether by keeping near the bank we should make sure of striking it.

Pipa was for the latter course and Duma for the former. I had so much faith in our female companion’s address and bravery that I sided with her, and we kept along about five or six hundred yards from the shore. Though we had sometimes to cease paddling and keep silence in order to avoid attracting the attention of the crews of canoes which put out from villages we passed by, we managed to elude all pursuit and without being stopped to get where the river nar{212}rowed again to its ordinary width of about half a mile or so. The current was now so strong that we hoped before daylight to be beyond the last village of the Bateke, and among a people who would be willing to aid Duma and Pipa in their escape.

Soon after daylight we found ourselves near a village where Pipa said she remembered to have been when on a trading expedition with one of her brothers, and she counselled our putting in there boldly and claiming protection before any of our pursuers arrived. We agreed, as Duma and I were both spent and weary with our night of toil. Running into the landing-place, Pipa boldly asked for the chief by name, who soon came down to see what had happened.

When Pipa had told her tale, the chief said that he was unable to resist any attack that the Bateke might make on him. If, however, we gave him my ancient piece of artillery he would hide us and our boat, and when the Bateke came he would tell them that we had been seen going down the river but had not stopped. Afterwards he would give us guides to the nearest way by land to Pipa’s own village, which he averred might be reached in four or five days of hard marching.

Evidently this was our best course to pursue. We immediately landed, and our canoe was hauled into a neighbouring creek and there sunk. Under the chief’s guidance, we went away with him to a place where he said we would safe from our pursuers, and{213} where we could lie hid until they gave up the search after us. To avoid attention being attracted by my white face, I had smeared myself all over with the river mud, and keeping myself in the background, and allowing Pipa and Duma to do all the talking, I fortunately managed to pass unobserved. Though our new friends might deceive the Bateke about so small a matter as the flight of three slaves, it was not to be expected that they would not betray us if they knew me to be a white man.

The hiding-place the chief led us to was the hollow trunk of a great tree, which we got into by climbing up some creepers and going through a hole in its side some fourteen or fifteen feet from the ground. Inside we found a pretty commodious place where there was ample room for us all three to lie down. The bottom of the cavity being covered with decayed wood and dead leaves, it made pretty soft lying for us. As soon as we were safely stowed away the chief left us, saying he would send some one to bring us food and drink when the sun went down, but that in the meantime we were not to quit our place of refuge.

As soon as we were left alone, we fell asleep, being very tired after our night’s work. We must have slept soundly for some hours, when we were awakened by some people talking loudly near the bottom of our tree. I thought that these would be the people whom the chief had promised to send with food, and would have at once gone to the hole to see who the people were; but Pipa{214} caught hold of me and prevented me from doing so, and made signs for us to be silent and listen.

We soon made out that the speakers were some Bateke in chase of us, and that our landing had been found out through the vanity of the chief. Proud of the brass-bound, antique weapon obtained from us, he had not been able to refrain from firing it. The unaccustomed sound had brought a number of the Bateke to the spot; for it was known that no one in the neighbourhood possessed a gun besides that which we had stolen.

Pipa listened eagerly to make out if the chief had betrayed us. He had made an excuse that he supposed we were people in pursuit of fugitives, and the gun had been given him as a pledge of amity and a token that we were sent out by our master. The Bateke were consulting as to what course they should take in pursuit, and as far as we could make out the river was the only avenue to safety left open.

After some time the Bateke who had aroused us started off again. Soon after a messenger arrived from our friendly chief to say how sorry he was his indiscretion had betrayed that we had landed, and to lead us to a place where a canoe and provisions were in readiness.

We did not wait long before following the messenger. He led us by wild-beast tracks and hippopotamus paths to a creek where the canoe was. We immediately put out and recommenced our voyage{215} down-stream; and drifting and paddling during the night, we halted for the day on a small uninhabited island.

Nothing occurred to frighten or disturb us. At sunset we again launched our frail vessel; but we soon found that the stream was increasing in rapidity, and hearing the sound of falling water ahead, both Duma and Pipa said we must now abandon the canoe and take to the shore.

We accordingly put into the southern bank, just missing, owing to the force of the current, a little creek that we had been aiming for; but catching hold of some branches, we began to land our scanty belongings. I was carrying away the paddles, which we intended to take with us as weapons, or in case we might be fortunate enough to find another canoe below the rapids, when I heard a splash and a cry. Rushing to the bank, I saw that one of my companions had fallen overboard and that the other had let go the tree which he or she had been holding on to, and that both were rapidly drifting with the canoe down-stream.

I was powerless to assist. Forgetting my own safety, I made my way as well as I could along the bank, only to arrive, long after the catastrophe had occurred, at the head of the falls, over which they must have been swept.

Though it did not seem probable, I imagined there might possibly be a chance of their surviving, and with great difficulty made my way down the rocks by the{216} side of the river, and at the foot of the falls I cried long and loudly, “Duma! Pipa!” No answer came in response to my shouts save the scream of some night birds which I scared and the howl of a prowling hyena. When the rising sun put an end to a long night of agonizing suspense, I found that the bruised and battered bodies of my two friends and the broken remains of the canoe had been cast ashore almost at my feet.

I think now my brain and mind must have given way for a time, for I have only an indistinct memory of being recaptured and bound and taken back to the care of the old hag, my master’s mother, who was a perfect mistress of the art of ingenious torture. I often fancied that I must have fallen into the hands of friends. It is still a wonder to me how I survived what I must have undergone at this time, as several large and ugly scars prove it was not a dream but an absolute reality.{217}



With the Bateke I believe I stopped about a year more; then I was traded to some other chief who was desirous of being the proud possessor of a white man. In this manner, passing from hand to hand and tribe to tribe, I gradually got further and further into the interior of Africa, and my hopes of ever again seeing my native country, or my father and brother, grew less and less.

I lost all interest in life, and mechanically ate and drank what was given me, but scarcely noticed what occurred around. Of this part of my life it would be very hard for me to give a connected description. I have vague memories of many journeys, of fevers, of fights, of times of starvation and times of plenty, but perhaps least vague of all of a party I was with being attacked from trees and bushes by dwarfs with tiny poisoned arrows, the wounds from which proved fatal almost immediately. That this is a true memory I know, because I have even now a basket-work quiver,{218} covered over with a substance like pitch, full of these arrows. This was the only thing I had with me when found wandering in the woods, some two hundred miles west of Lake Tanganyika, by Hatibu, one of the slaves of Hamees ibu Sayf, an Arab merchant.

The way I fell in with him was on this wise. My companions had, I suppose, all been killed by the poisoned arrows of the dwarfs, or had made good their escape from them without caring to wait to see whether I was among the slain or not. I had been wandering alone in the jungle for some days, subsisting on berries and lichens gathered from the trees. I had to devour these raw, having no means of making a fire to cook them or to warm myself. Nearly starved and quite weary I laid me down, as I thought, to die, and was in a sort of semi-torpid state. I was roused up by yells and shrieks. Lifting my head, I saw that some men were attacking a troop of sokos or gorillas, and that one of the sokos had seized a man by the hand with his teeth.

Evidently these men were only a portion of those engaged in the chase of the gorillas, for I heard the sound of guns. I soon saw a man coming up with a white skull-cap on his head. Besides a cloth round his loins, he wore a kind of sleeveless waistcoat, and bore in his hand a gun which had been recently discharged.

The sight of a gun brought a flood of memories rushing into my head, and raised hopes that people who{219}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 218.



had guns must be in communication with white men. The remaining gorillas were soon despatched. I tried to attract the attention of the hunters; but as I attempted to rise to my feet I found I was too weak to do so, and all the sounds that I could utter were faint and inarticulate.

At last I attracted the attention of some of the men, and one was about to hurl a spear at me, when the man with the gun prevented him, and came running to where I was lying. I was a curious object to look at, being clothed only in some scanty shreds of native grass-cloth, and my hair hanging in matted and dishevelled masses on my shoulders. My skin was burnt and discoloured by exposure to sun, wind, and weather, and changed to almost the colour of mahogany, except just round my neck and on my forehead, where my hair had sheltered it; and my beard, which had commenced to grow, hid nearly all my face.

He was followed by some of his men, and they began to examine me curiously, and seemed much astonished, especially when, lifting up my hair and removing the remains of my clothing, they saw the natural colour of my skin. “Mzungu, mzungu!” I heard them cry, while they held up their hands in astonishment. The man with the gun said, “Portugoo, Francèse, Ingleez?” as if asking me what countryman I was, so I replied, “English.”

He immediately placed his two forefingers side by side, and said, “Arab Ingleez sawa sawa” (all the{222} same). By his orders the men cut some branches and grass, and with these and their spears they made a litter, on which I was carried to their camp, about an hour distant. Here I was carefully tended, fed, and washed. My head was shaved, which was a great comfort to me. I was then dressed in a long white shirt, while a bale of cloth was opened to provide me with a waist-cloth and a piece of calico to tie over my head.

After all that I had gone through it seemed as if I were in paradise. A comfortable place having been arranged for me in one of the huts I slept soundly and, for the first time for many days, I believe I may say months, peacefully.

Next morning, the chief of the men who had rescued me came and sat by me. Pointing to himself he said, “Hatibu, Hatibu;” then he pointed to me as if to say that his name was Hatibu and that he wished to know what mine was.

I replied, “Franki.” I had become so accustomed to be called nothing else by my various savage proprietors that I had quite or almost forgotten that I had a surname. Hatibu laughed, showing all his teeth. Patting me on the head he made signs for me to go to sleep again, saying, “Lala, Franki, lala.” Then he left me, closing the door of the hut with a kind of hurdle made of grass, so as to prevent the light coming in and disturbing me.

I could not sleep, but lay in lazy comfort, wondering where I was, and if, after all, I was going to get out of{223} Africa. Who could these men be who treated me so kindly? By their possessing European cloth, and guns, and powder, they were evidently in communication with the coast, and hope replaced the apathetic despair which I had felt so long.

I lay like this for a long time, thinking that perhaps it was all a dream, and that I should wake up to my old life of hardship and privation. The door was opened, and Hatibu came in with an earthen bowl full of stewed meat and boiled rice, and made signs for me to get up and eat. This I did with right good will, and I soon found myself so much invigorated that I felt inclined to get up and go outside to have a look round.

As soon as Hatibu saw my intention, he went and opened a bundle in the corner, and brought from it a pair of high wooden clogs, with a peg on the upper side. I took them up and examined them, but could not make out what they were intended for. At this Hatibu smiled, and taking them from me placed them on the ground. Then standing on them he grasped the pegs between his great and second toes and walked across the hut with them; then coming back he signed that they were for me to wear.

I tried to follow his example, but could not manage it, and, much to the good fellow’s disappointment, I had to go out with bare feet. When I got outside the hut I found myself in the middle of a small but neat camp of about forty huts built in a circle. In the centre was an open shed, under which were stowed a few bales{224} and some five-and-twenty large tusks of ivory. Men were sitting about, some cooking, some smoking, and others gossiping, while in one corner some people who seemed quite different from my new friends were squatting down with a couple of large tusks.

I went to look at them, thinking that perhaps some might belong to the tribes with whom I had passed so many weary days. I spoke to them, but they did not understand a word I said. Hatibu came up and listened with interest to my ineffectual attempts at conversation, and then spoke to me in what were evidently different languages. I could not understand a word he said, so after a bit he stopped trying to speak to me, and commenced bargaining with these people for their ivory.

I was astonished to see that they sold these two tusks, each of which may have weighed about seventy pounds, for four or five copper bracelets and a handful of cowries, and seemed much delighted with their bargain. As soon as he had finished the purchase, Hatibu pointed to the tusks, and holding up one hand made me to understand that when he had ten more tusks he would leave this place. By pointing to the sun and holding up his hands he explained that in twelve days’ time we should arrive at a place called Nyangwe, where there would be many Arabs, and where one named Hamees ibu Sayf would take care of me.

I was glad to hear this, and looked anxiously for the arrival of ivory. Days passed without any more being{225} brought in, and as well as I could I urged Hatibu, whom I was gradually commencing to understand, to start at once. His orders were to bring so much ivory, and not come back without it unless his stores were exhausted, and he would not on any account disobey his master. At last some natives came into camp, bringing with them two more tusks; also they brought news that in a village a few days distant there was a large quantity, which, if Hatibu sent men for, he might obtain.

Hatibu instantly decided on going himself with twenty men, while he left the rest to take care of the camp and the ivory he had already collected. As I was now able to travel, at his request I went with him. The baggage which we took with us was not extensive. It consisted simply of the men’s sleeping-mats and cooking-pots, one load of copper bracelets and another of cowries. Hatibu himself carried a piece of coarse red woollen cloth to give as a present to the chief of the village to which we were going.

Our road lay through a pleasant open country, large stretches of grassy land being diversified by clumps of trees, while along the banks of numerous small streams there was always a strip of jungle. Here and there plantations of maize and ground-nuts with the broad-leaved plantain gave signs that men were in the neighbourhood, and occasionally we saw the villages in which they lived embowered in groves of the oil palm.

After travelling about three hours we came to the{226} bank of a large stream, far too deep and wide for us to wade, where there were no canoes. Hatibu turned to the natives acting as our guides, and evidently was scolding them for having brought him to such a place. They only smiled, and pointing to the path, which here turned and followed the stream, they made him understand that a crossing-place would soon be found.

After walking for about a mile by the side of the river we came in sight of a huge fishing-weir formed of poles thirty or forty feet long. We found also that the stream was not very deep at this spot, and could be easily forded; and soon, some scrambling over the fishing-weir, others wading across, our party reached the other side in safety.

Not long after crossing we came to a place where a number of women were busily employed in making pottery. As soon as they saw us coming they set up a loud yell and began to run away into the bushes; then we heard the booming of a big drum close by, answered by others at various distances.

We at once halted and prepared for whatever might happen, and soon saw men with their bows strung and their quivers full of arrows moving about among the trees. I was afraid that we were in for a fight. On our guides going forward to enter into a parley with the strangers, a volley of arrows was shot at them, and I was convinced that nothing could avert a collision. Our guides held up their hands and shouted out that we came in peace and not for war. After some time{227}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 226.



men came from the other side, and our guides went and met them, and after a long talk we were conducted along a path into a strong stockaded village.

As chief of the party, Hatibu was given a hut, which he shared with me. The news having got about that there was a white man among the strangers, the people all flocked round to stare at the wonderful being. The inquisitiveness of the women, who would examine my hands and feet, and seemed desirous of pursuing their inquiries, threatened to become so unpleasant, that Hatibu went to the chief, to give orders for me to be left alone, and only stared at but not handled.

I was very grateful for his interference, but the chief being a much married man was so worried by his wives that he had to ask Hatibu to take me to the part of the village where they lived, so that they could have a look at me without being incommoded by the crowd of their sisters of low degree.

We found that the chief had a large space fenced off for him and his harem, in the centre of which was a large hut which was his special quarters. Along either side were a dozen smaller ones, in each of which two wives with their children and attendants lived. His mother, who had, I fear, the difficult task of keeping the wives in order, had her hut close to the entrance.

Hatibu and I were given stools to sit on. The chief himself sat on a carved wooden stool which represented a man squatting on his haunches with the elbows resting on the knees, the seat being supported by the head{230} and upturned palms of the hands. One of his wives placed herself on the ground at his feet and supported them in her lap; another stood on his right holding his shield, made of cane worked into patterns and fringed with the skins of long-haired black monkeys; while a third stood on his left with a copper spear, the haft of which was elaborately carved, and ornamented with the tails of zebras and buffaloes.

He spoke for a long time to Hatibu, while the remainder of his wives stared at me. After a quarter of an hour of minute examination I began to get wearied, and Hatibu asked the chief to call his wives off, and gave them a few beads and cowries, with which they were very much delighted. After this the chief took us into his hut. It was beautifully clean and neat, and lined with mats and grass-cloth worked in patterns; the floor was of red clay beaten hard and rubbed up to a bright polish. Spears, bows, and shields were hung round the walls and disposed with a certain amount of taste. The furniture was very simple, consisting of a few stools, a fire-place made of three eighteen-inch cones of clay standing about a foot apart, a bed-place of canes covered with mats, and some raised benches of clay, polished like the floor, on which skins of wild beasts were spread.

Some baskets and boxes made of bark were near the fire-place, where a few logs were smouldering. Standing near by were a couple of elaborately carved idols, male and female, round whose necks were heavy strings{231} of beads and cowries, while their arms and legs were adorned with copper bracelets. The only opening was the doorway, and smoke had turned the inside of the roof to a shiny black. It was some time before we could see clearly. During this time the chief and some of his wives were busy removing the bed-place and placing something in the middle of the floor. After a bit we saw uncovered three very large tusks of ivory for Hatibu to buy, which after some bargaining were secured for seven copper bracelets and a hundred and fifty cowries.

This business having been completed, and night coming on, Hatibu and I went back to our hut to sleep. In the morning carriers were found for the ivory to take it back to our own camp, under the escort of two of Hatibu’s men. The rest of us pursued our way to the village we had intended to visit when we started, and reached it without any incident worthy of note.

Our guides were natives of this place. The inhabitants, evidently expecting our arrival, were on the look-out for us, and welcomed us with every sign of friendship; but when we got to the village we could see no signs of the chief Mona Mkulla, who, we had been told, had invited us to come there.

We were first taken to a large shed, where the chief of the village, Russuna, welcomed us. He brought out a large supply of native beer, which was passed round to our people, Russuna drinking some out of each vessel to prove that the beer was not poisoned. Until all{232} that he had provided had been consumed he would not enter upon any discussion of the business which had brought us.

All things must have an end, and so at last had Russuna’s beer. He then said Mona Mkulla was a great chief, and no strangers were permitted to visit his village, but that next day, when the sun came over the tops of the trees, he would come to the village we were then in, and Hatibu would be able to speak of many things with him.

I could see that Hatibu was very vexed at this, for he had thought that the buying of ivory was the only thing that was to be done. Now he was afraid that Mona Mkulla would bring up questions about some of the Arab traders living at free quarters and driving people off as slaves. This had been indulged in to an alarming extent by some of the parties sent out to collect ivory, and had caused so much ill-feeling and bad blood that Hamees ibu Sayf had prohibited it altogether.

Notwithstanding this prohibition some small traders who had attached themselves, as is often the case, to Hamees ibu Sayf’s caravan for protection, and adding to the number of guns under his control had been allowed to travel with him, were still guilty of these practices. Having expended all their goods in the purchase of ivory, and being unwilling to sell the ivory they had collected to Hamees ibu Sayf at the price he offered for it, they had left nothing to pay for{233} rations for their men. All this I learned afterwards; but I could then see that Hatibu was evidently in anxiety about having an interview with Mona Mkulla on the morrow.

During the evening Hatibu was talking long and seriously to his followers, and all overhauled their arms. Ten were armed with old Tower flint-locks, which were reloaded and new flints put in. All the party too, instead of dispersing themselves about the village, as was their usual custom, remained together, and lighting big fires slept close to the hut in which Hatibu and I had our quarters.{234}



Next morning we were roused at an early hour by the beating of drums. When we came out we found that all the men of the village, with their spears and shields, were assembled on one side of the hut where we had drunk beer with Russuna on our arrival, while the women and children were all away on the outskirts of the village, evidently ready to take flight on the first symptom of trouble.

I watched Hatibu very anxiously, for I knew that this looked very much as if the natives had an intention of attacking us. To show any signs of fear would only have precipitated a conflict, so all he did was to arrange our men that, if we were attacked, those with muskets would be able to use them without being hampered by their companions. Before moving, he waited for a message from Russuna.

Presently an old man came, accompanied by a couple of dwarfs with enormous rattles in their hands, and through our guides he signified to Hatibu to go to the{235} large shed where his interview with Mona Mkulla was to take place. Thither Russuna, followed by spear and shield bearer, and men beating drums and playing upon instruments called marimba,[A] was even then making his way.

We at once went to the place, and were most ceremoniously greeted by Russuna. Pointing to a couple of stools which had been placed for Hatibu and me, he wished the rest of our men to be drawn up where his own people were standing. To this Hatibu would not agree, nor would he be separated from his men. A dispute, which at one time threatened to be serious, took place. Hatibu would not give way, and at last it was conceded that his followers should stand or squat close behind him.

No sooner had this been settled than we heard drums and marimba outside the village, which were answered by Russuna’s band. Then the spear and shield bearers of the chief of a neighbouring village came in followed by his band, the chief himself and his jester carrying a rattle. After him came his fighting-men, numbering about forty, all armed with spears and shields, many carrying bows as well, with six strips of cane for bow-strings knotted over their left shoulders, and a large quiver full of arrows on their backs. Hatibu, when he saw this, gripped me by the arm, and point{236}ing to them, signed that all this looked like preparation for fighting; otherwise he did not show any signs of fear.

As soon as the procession reached the middle of the village it halted. The old man who had summoned us, and acted as herald and master of the ceremonies, went out, followed by his two dwarfs, and asked some questions in a loud sing-song voice, which were replied to by the jester of the new-comer proclaiming his master’s state and titles. After this the bands struck up, and the warriors wheeled off and drew up near Russuna’s; the chief then came in front of the hut and performed a curious sort of dance, his jester all the time shaking his rattle and proclaiming his master’s strong names. Afterwards he took his place under the shed in a place pointed out by the master of the ceremonies, his jester squatting at his feet and his band standing behind him.

As soon as this chief was installed in his place, another one arrived and was received with the same ceremony; then another and another, until at last there must have been, including Russuna, twenty chiefs present, and at least eight hundred armed men, who were formed into a hollow square round the shed, facing inwards. For some time we sat in silence, not a man saying a word, and waited anxiously for the coming of the great man Mona Mkulla himself. For him and his people five stools had been reserved at the end of the hut opposite to where Hatibu and I were sitting. I{237}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 235.



looked anxiously at my companions to see what they thought of the warlike array by which we were surrounded, and though they showed no signs of fear I could see that all were anxious. From time to time a man felt the flint of his musket to see that it was in good order and properly fixed. Hatibu sat still and immovable, and did not permit a sign of fear to escape him, though I could feel from time to time his hand seize mine and give it a convulsive squeeze. For my own part I felt intensely excited. The silence was so oppressive that I longed to give a yell and rush at some one; but knowing the gravity of the situation I restrained myself, and remained mute and motionless.

At last we heard more drums and music, and all the assembled bands struck up in reply; then the warriors on one side of the square drew aside, and a messenger decked in all the savage finery that he could muster came to announce the arrival of Mona Mkulla. The master of the ceremonies went out to meet this man, who recited the names and titles of Mona Mkulla, the other answering by enumerating those of all the chiefs who in obedience to his orders had assembled to meet him.

This being done, the head of Mona Mkulla’s procession came in sight. First came five men bearing spears, one of which was of copper, of great size, and elaborately ornamented; the bearer of this one walked in advance of the other four.

Then came two women carrying a shield, having the{240} centre covered with elaborate patterns. Behind came four others, each carrying shields decked in the same manner, though not so profusely, and followed by a band of about thirty performers playing upon drums, marimba, and gourds with holes pierced in them, from which some bugle-like sounds were produced by the possessors blowing into them.

After the band came the great man himself, a young fellow of some four or five and twenty, who alone of all the natives present was dressed in cloth of European manufacture. He wore a kilt of gaudy red woollen cloth trimmed with yellow, and a sort of tunic of the same material, the front and back being of different colours, and the sleeves yet again differing from them. As apparently the material had run short, it was eked out by pieces of grass-cloth, and the whole was trimmed with the skins of the rare and beautiful tippet monkey, the effect being bizarre in the extreme. Round his neck, arms, and legs were masses of beads; while his kilt was secured by three strings of opal-coloured glass beads as large as pigeon’s eggs.

On his head most attention had been lavished. He had a very small beard twisted together, and, I believe, artificially lengthened; on it were strung three large beads like those round his waist, and the end was knotted to a cowry. From each ear hung the polished base of a shell, which is one of the most valued possessions of the inhabitants of the interior. Round his temples was bound a fillet some two inches wide, bor{241}dered with cowries and embroidered with beads, into which were stuck the scarlet feathers of a bird called the kuru-kuru, which only great chiefs are allowed to wear. His hair was divided into four parts, and crossed over a cushion of bark which was painted bright red. So far the effect was striking and handsome; but to be different from his neighbours he had a cap, made of the same stuff as his kilt, perched on the top of the other adornments, and looking most ridiculous and inappropriate.

He was followed by four dwarfs, two of whom were deformed and misshapen, and the other two were covered with huge wenlike blotches—whether natural or artificial I did not know. All carried huge rattles, and cried out shrilly the names of their masters.

Behind the dwarfs came a man carrying an idol about two feet high in his arms, and he was followed by three other men carrying gourds and baskets. Next came four women, and then a large body of armed men.

I thought this looked all very serious, and was astonished to see that Hatibu and his men had lost all appearance of anxiety; but I soon found that the presence of women in Mona Mkulla’s train meant that peace was decided on, and there was no danger of our being attacked.

Mona Mkulla and his train walked three times round the hut, into which he then came, and with one of his women danced seriously and gravely for over a quarter of an hour. He then seated himself on the stool which{242} had been prepared for him, with two of his women on either side. The idol was placed on a lion’s skin which was spread in front of him, and on it was also heaped a quantity of charms and fetiches, produced out of the baskets and gourds carried by the companions of the bearer of the idol.

These men sat at the four corners of the skin, and the dwarfs squatted at their master’s feet. Each of the assembled chiefs now did homage to Mona Mkulla, and placed some small offering—a handful of cowries, a few shells, the feathers of the kuru-kuru, or something of the kind—on the lion-skin as an offering and symbol of their subjection to him.

Last of all Hatibu came and placed his present among the others, and then talking commenced. I was amused to see the vehemence of the orators as different chiefs urged what they thought should be the proper course to pursue with regard to what should be done to the strangers; for I saw before long that the ivory which had brought us here was a mere pretext, and that Mona Mkulla was more desirous of impressing upon us the extent and greatness of his power than of selling any quantity of ivory.

I watched Hatibu as he listened to the speakers, and from the variations of his countenance I could see when the debate was going for or against us. I afterwards found out that many of the chiefs had wished to kill us then and there, and bid defiance to the Arab traders, whom even then they were beginning to{243} fear; but others were in favour of trading with them, and among the number was Mona Mkulla himself, who being desirous of more cloth and beads, was willing to be friendly.

Hatibu at last spoke, and both in manner and gesture did remarkably well. He urged upon Mona Mkulla that it was only by trading with the Arabs he could possibly obtain the things he longed for; and that though he might kill fifty, a hundred, or a thousand Arabs and their followers, others would still come, undeterred by danger. Instead of coming as friends, however, they would come as enemies, and the arms of the natives could not prevail against them.

I could see that even as he spoke the faces of those who seemed most bitterly opposed to us changed, and when he finished speaking and sat down there was a general murmur of approval from all the chiefs. I thought all was now finished; but it was not so. The men round the idol had now to consult it. This they did with many fantastic capers, and much shuffling and changing of the positions of the charms which surrounded it, preparing, as I could see well enough, to give a verdict hostile to us.

The men who had been won over by Hatibu’s arguments again became sullen and gloomy, and looking at the masses of armed men who surrounded us I saw that they only wanted a word to throw themselves on us and spear us to death before we could raise a hand in self-defence.{244}

At this supreme moment Hatibu rose to the occasion, and getting up from his seat he from a small bag he had concealed under his clothes produced some shell ornaments like those in the king’s ears, and gave one to each of the soothsayers, while the remainder he threw down before the idol. I was afraid such barefaced bribery would fail; but Hatibu knew his men better than I did. The charms and fetiches were soon rearranged, and it was pronounced as the sentence of the wooden image that Mona Mkulla and the new-comers could be friends.

This verdict was not received with universal satisfaction, for some of the chiefs sprang to their feet and protested loudly against it. As they found themselves disregarded, they called to their followers and left the assembly in high dudgeon. Their departure called forth no remark, but soon after twenty slaves loaded with ivory were marched into the centre of the village and presented to Hatibu as a token of Mona Mkulla’s friendship and goodwill.{245}



Altogether Hatibu was not so pleased with his present as I had expected him to be, and it was not long before I found out the reasons. He had enough ivory and stores to form loads for nearly all his party; but if to carrying this was added the work of watching these slaves, and possibly defending ourselves against the attacks of their friends, he did not see how we could manage to get in safety to Hamees ibu Sayf’s camp. Soon his anxiety was increased by a message from Mona Mkulla, which was nothing more nor less than a demand for an adequate present in return for his gift; failing this, he was to remain until his master could send to free him.

Hatibu consulted long and eagerly with his followers, and decided that the best thing he could do would be to send messengers to Hamees ibu Sayf to inform him of our position. He resolved also to get all the men he had left at our old camp to this place, so that, in the event of any difficulty arising with the natives, the{246} whole party should be united, and not attacked and defeated in detail.

Mona Mkulla came several times to see Hatibu, attended only by a few spearmen and his dwarfs, by whom we never saw him unattended. He begged Hatibu very hard to give up the guns of the party, saying that these would be an ample return for the present he had made. To this request, which was simply one to render ourselves defenceless against the overwhelming numbers of the natives, Hatibu very naturally returned a refusal. As soon as the messengers had been sent away he employed the remainder of his men and the slaves Mona Mkulla had given him in constructing a camp at a short distance from the village. There we would be better able to defend ourselves from attack than if we remained scattered about in the village and mixed up with the people, and able to prevent being surprised and overpowered separately.

The place chosen was a small open bit of grass in the forest, where a small spring afforded a supply of water, and where, when the position and shape of our camp was decided upon, we should have a clear distance of at least a hundred and fifty yards between its boundary and the nearest trees.

The grass, which was over ten feet high and nearly dry, was burned down, and all hands laboured hard at forming the camp. I had often during my life in Africa admired the way in which the negro runs up a shelter from sun and storm and a defence against human{247} enemies and wild beasts; but never had I seen such wonderful work as was done by these men from Zanzibar, all experienced travellers, to whom the building of huts and making a boma or fence round them was a portion of their every-day work.

At first they contented themselves with building a simple lean-to circle of branches open towards the interior, but by constant additions of large branches and small trees it soon became a most formidable fence. When this was completed, small platforms for the watchers were built at intervals, and protected with logs, so that those occupying them would be secure from spears and arrows, and command with their muskets all the approaches to the camp.

As soon as these necessary works had been completed, we set to work to collect corn, sweet potatoes, ground-nuts, and other provisions. These we buried as soon as we had got them, together with our ivory and other things which we did not want the people to be constantly seeing; for they were most persevering beggars, and even at times, when refused anything on which they had set their fancy, became very threatening in their manner.

Mona Mkulla often came to beg for muskets and ammunition, and also to ask if Hatibu had any more shell ornaments. Some of these latter Hatibu parted with, receiving in return fowls and goats and quantities of unripe plantains. Some days passed in this way, and we were becoming very anxious for the safety of the{248} men we had sent away and those left behind in our old camp. Every day we saw armed men passing about, who several times seemed as if they desired to surprise our camp. Some came into it in twos and threes, gradually raising their numbers. Sometimes these unwelcome visitors were most overbearing in their manners, evidently seeking a pretext for a quarrel; but Hatibu kept his men under perfect control, and avoided all collision with them, though at the same time he let it be seen that he was prepared to resist to the utmost any overt acts of hostility.

Still no news of our companions, and we feared that they must have been surprised and killed. Hatibu, seeing that we were virtually prisoners, and might expect to be attacked at any moment, summoned his men to a consultation one night after the camp was closed. I was by this time beginning to understand what they said, and soon found that there were two parties. One said we had best remain where we were, and, if attacked, defend ourselves to the best of our ability; for sooner or later Hamees ibu Sayf would be sure to hear of the position we were in and come to our rescue. Others urged that it would be best to leave the camp at night, and, taking with us as much food as we could carry, hiding in the jungle in the day-time, and avoiding villages as much as possible, make our way towards Hamees ibu Sayf’s position.

This latter proposition did not commend itself to Hatibu. He said by doing so we should have not{249} only to abandon the ivory we had, but the men we had left at the other camp would certainly be set upon as soon as it was known that we had left without Mona Mkulla’s leave. News would be sent by drums to all the surrounding country much quicker than we could travel, and all the paths would be beset.

The justice of his arguments was after some discussion acknowledged by all; but it was pointed out that when our companions from the old camp reached us there would be more mouths to feed, and that the slaves Mona Mkulla had given us would only eat food and be useless in assisting in the defence of our camp.

Hatibu was much struck by this, and sat silently thinking some moments; then he broke out, saying, “Shauri nduguye, brothers, the words are good: to-morrow the slaves shall find food, and they will say that we want it for them. When night comes, and all men sleep, and only beasts are awake, we will send them into the jungle and into the wilderness. We will put words into their mouths, and they will go unto Hamees ibu Sayf, the great master, and unto their own people, and their brothers and fathers will join with Hamees ibu Sayf. Then they will come all together and eat up Mona Mkulla and his men, his spears and his shields, and the master will find much ivory. Say, my brothers, men of the island, men of Unguja,[B] are not my words words of counsel and of truth?{250}

Hatibu’s words were taken by all as being wise. He immediately called up the slaves, who were lying roped together near a fire in the middle of the camp, and spoke to them. Some said they did not know anything about Hamees ibu Sayf’s camp. These, five in number, Hatibu said he would keep until the last moment, as we could easily turn them out of the camp when we found supplies were refused to us, and in the meantime they could be usefully employed in adding to our stores of food and firewood. Some of the others said that they knew where Ibu Sayf’s camp was, and that Tipolo, as the natives called him, was a good man, and when he had once passed his word he kept it. Others said that they had heard of him, and that their people would join their forces to his to come and attack Mona Mkulla, and revenge themselves for the many wars he had made against them.

From the slaves themselves, now they had prospects of regaining their freedom, we had many valuable suggestions. One of the most important was that, instead of sending them all off at once, they should go away by twos and threes, and so no notice would be taken of their absence. As they very truly said, the escape of a slave or two was far too ordinary an occurrence to occasion any surprise; and small parties of men would be able to travel through the country with less fear of discovery than larger ones.

This was all agreed to, and three of them were allowed to go at once, bearing with them tokens from{251} Hatibu, and a few words scratched on a banana leaf—for paper we had none—acquainting Tipolo with our position, and begging him to come to our assistance without delay.

This having been done, it was wonderful to see how the spirits of all of us, which had been much depressed, seemed to revive. Instead of the conversation round the camp-fires turning, as it usually had done, upon when we might expect to be attacked, and how long we might hold out, it was now principally of how much ivory and how many slaves might fall to the share of each of us in the war with Mona Mkulla. Some indeed went so far as to speak of the way in which they would set up as independent traders, and how, after making much money, they would build a stone house in their much-loved Unguja.

For the next few days nothing of importance occurred. The slaves whom we liberated got away without any apparent notice being taken by our enemies; but we found that the collecting and storing of provisions became more and more difficult, and that we were constantly subjected to insults by the natives. At last one day one of our men was struck by one of the smaller chiefs who had been most hostile to us at the great meeting where we had first seen Mona Mkulla. Our man retaliated, and he and four others who were with him were set on by the people, and escaped only by showing a firm front and by using their muskets. When they came into camp they reported that they{252} had killed some of the natives, among them the principal aggressor, and had themselves been wounded by spears and arrows.

Fortunately none of the wounds was serious, and they would not prevent the men from assisting to repel the attack on our camp, which had now become imminent. On the same evening we heard the drums of all the neighbouring villages beating, and just before sunset we heard the sound of musketry. This could only proceed from people who would be our friends, and most probably from the men we had left at the other camp, so, though our ammunition was very precious, we fired two shots, and two more about five minutes after. This Hatibu said was a signal that any of Tipolo’s men would understand if they heard it.

Our little party now manned the platforms which we had built, and looked out anxiously for any signs of friends; for we could not tell whether the firing came from those we had left in the old camp, or from a party of Hamees ibu Sayf’s men coming to our assistance.

The firing was kept up, and evidently was drawing nearer to us, but so straggling and ill-sustained that it was soon evident it could proceed from but few men. Even at dark it was still kept up.

We waited for some time, hoping that the darkness would enable our men to get away from their enemies and make towards us. Though for some time they came nearer, and we were in momentary expectation of their coming into the open space where our camp was,{253} we heard them pass by at one end of it; and as evidently they had missed it, Hatibu gave orders for signal shots to be again fired.

In a few moments we could hear the people drawing closer as well as firing—could make out the shouts and yells of men fighting, and soon we saw the flashes of muskets. Hatibu now ordered to set on fire some large piles of dry grass which he had caused to be prepared for this purpose. When our friends saw the light they rushed for it, and came running across the open closely pursued by their enemies. By the flare of the fires we could fortunately distinguish friend from foe, and opening a place in our fence we were able to admit eleven men and save them from their pursuers, who were close upon them. Not caring to come within the circle of light, the natives contented themselves with shooting arrows from the limits of the darkness.

As soon as the fence was closed we extinguished the fires, for they now only served to show us to the natives. Some still remained on guard, others crowded round the new-comers to learn what their news was. They proved to be all that remained of the men we had left behind at our old camp. They said that for some time after we left all went well, but at last men came bringing a knife which they knew belonged to Hatibu. They said he had given it as a token to show that the message came from him, and that he said they were to come to him at once, as he had got a great store of slaves and ivory, and intended going direct to Ny{254}angwe without returning to them. They fell at once into the trap, packed up all their things, and with the slaves and ivory set out to join us.

At first all went well with them, and the people who had brought the knife showed them the road, and acted so as to disarm all suspicion. Suddenly, however, that very afternoon, while passing through a thick and marshy piece of jungle, their guides darted into the trees, and they found themselves surrounded and attacked by a large body of men. In the first moments of their surprise they could do little to defend themselves, and their foes being sheltered by the trees, they could not get a sight at them so as to fire with any effect.

Any idea of saving ivory or goods was never entertained for a moment, and they all pressed forward towards a part where the trees seemed less thick and the ground was firmer. There, forming themselves into a circle, they prepared to sell their lives as dearly as possible. According to their account, of Zanzibar men there were then twenty-three. Among these fortunately were the fourteen who alone of the whole number were armed with muskets, the remainder having been struck down by the first volleys of spears and arrows which had been showered on them.

They were able to make a stand, and, soon after, they heard the muskets we had fired for the first signal; and knowing that some of Hamees ibu Sayf’s men must have fired them, they endeavoured to make their way{255} in our direction. While in comparatively open ground they were able to make good headway; but in the thicker jungle their enemies closed in on them, and one after another fell beneath the spears and arrows of their assailants. Once a man was down he was abandoned; to have waited to assist him would have been only to share his fate. Once or twice they came to grassy patches; but in these they fared even worse than in the thick jungle, for grass to the height of ten or twelve feet was so thick and strong that it would support the weight of a man leaning against it. They were forced to follow the narrow tracks by which the natives made their way from village to village. As they were hurrying across the first of these, thinking that they could only be met by men in single file like themselves, they were suddenly attacked by men ambushed in spaces cut out of the grass, and separated and hidden from the path by a screen about two feet thick of grass which had been left standing. Nothing but the energy of despair enabled them to break through the men who here opposed them. Here alone they lost six of their number.

After this the jungle was fortunately more open, and as they were able to use their muskets they kept off their assailants. Coming to another grassy patch they determined to try to go round it to avoid the risk of another ambush, and found they were quite right in this, for when they got to the other side a large body of men came out of the grass and hurried after them.{256}

Fighting and firing they kept on their way. When darkness began to set in, and they did not find our camp, their hearts sank within them; but the sound of our second signal fell upon their ears like news from heaven, and, pursued by their relentless foes, they made a rush for our camp. How they got there they could scarcely say. All were wounded. Those seriously hurt having fallen into the hands of the enemy, their fate could not be doubtful; but those who had escaped had only what we considered wounds of little consequence.{257}



Our position was now critical. When we came to look at our stores and take stock of our resources, we found we had food for some days, and water, owing to Hatibu’s foresight in choosing the position of our camp. But though we only numbered, including Hatibu, myself, and the new-comers, thirty-three men, of whom only seventeen had muskets, we could not muster more than four rounds for each gun. Many of us were wounded, and though the wounded were all able to get about in camp, still in a hand-to-hand fight, which might be expected at any instant, they would not be so useful as if they were unhurt. Worst of all, six of the men lost that day had their muskets with them, and ammunition in their pouches; also, a small barrel of powder had been among the stores abandoned when the first surprise took place.

We no longer possessed the advantage of our enemies being without fire-arms. That they knew how to use them we soon had proof, for several times during the{258} night muskets were fired in the woods around us. The slugs or whatever they used fell short, and though they kept us on the alert they did us no actual harm.

All night long we also worked hard at improving our fortifications. As the platforms erected, though protected against spears and arrows, were not safe from musketry fire, on my suggestion we dug pits at different points round the inside of our boma, and a ditch to connect them, so that we could run to the most threatened points without danger from bullets.

At daybreak, though we could see the natives swarming in the woods, and evidently prepared to swoop down on us if we left our cover, we were able to snatch a little rest, only leaving a few of our number to keep a look-out on their movements. Up till the middle of the afternoon they did not attempt to annoy us; but then we saw bodies of men come out from the jungle, headed by men who carried our lost muskets, while the barrel of powder was borne behind them in triumph. We tried one or two shots in the hope of drawing their fire, but it had only the effect of making them keep out of range; and as we could afford no ammunition for fancy firing and long shots, we let them go on as they chose without interference.

After a time we saw men bringing trees and branches and building a sort of boma round the clearing in which our camp was situated. Soon we saw their intention was to enclose us, so that if we attempted to force our way out they would have the advantage of the posi{259}tion, and that we were now caught like rats in a trap.

Some of the men now began to despond, and said if one of the parties of slaves had been intercepted all might have been. There was no chance of Tipolo coming to our relief, and we had best surrender, for the worst that would happen to us was to be made slaves, and as well be the slaves of Mona Mkulla as be killed.

Hatibu’s look of anger and indignation when he heard this craven counsel was a sight worthy of a painter. He rated the men who made it as cowards and dogs, and said the idea that men from “the island” should become slaves to these heathen was not to be entertained for one instant. Those who wished to be slaves could go at once, and there would be more food and more powder for those who remained behind. The effect of his fiery indignation was to put a stop to all mention of surrender, and all we could do was now to wait patiently for assistance, or for the deliverance from our sufferings by death.

Two or three times the natives seemed to make up their mind to take us by assault, but each time when they came within range of our fire they faltered and fell back, and never pushed their attack home. Soon they confined their annoyance to insults and gibes, and in the darkness of night sending men armed with our muskets to keep us on the alert by a dropping fire. As we were well sheltered in our pits, we did not care for this last form of offence at all; in fact we were{260} rather glad of it, as we knew that they were expending their powder uselessly.

On the third day of our blockade we were destined to a fresh and more painful experience than we had yet encountered. One of the men who had been very slightly wounded with an arrow on the fore arm came to Hatibu and complained that he felt shooting pains in his arm. We did all we could by bathing it with cold water; but his pains increased, and soon he fell into most frightful convulsions. He begged for water, being consumed by thirst, but was utterly unable to swallow owing to the convulsive action of his throat, and soon his jaw became locked. He now endured the most frightful agony, his body becoming at times as rigid as a bar of steel, while pieces of wood which he gripped in his hands were crumbled into splinters. Sometimes the action of his muscles was so powerful as to bend him like a bow backwards, and then there were spasmodic relaxations and twitchings which seemed to tear him in pieces.

For four or five hours he endured this agony, and before he died three more of our wounded men were seized in the same manner. We could do nothing whatever to relieve them, but could only remain passive spectators of their horrible and intense agony. All four had been wounded with arrows; and five others, who had also received arrow wounds, became so powerfully affected by seeing the sufferings of their fellows, that they too fell victims to the fell demon of lockjaw.{261} I cannot describe a tithe of the extraordinary things they suffered, and if I did I do not think that I should be believed; but one of them in his agony seized a hardwood spear-shaft in his teeth and bedded them so deeply that after death it could not be taken out of his mouth.

Curiously enough the remainder of the wounded men, whose wounds being from spears were much larger and apparently more serious than those from the arrows, did not suffer from lockjaw, and all their wounds healed up kindly. The sufferers themselves ascribed their torments to the arrows being poisoned; but I afterwards found that it was not the case that our enemies used poisoned arrows in war, but reserved them for hunting. Their fighting arrows were tipped with pieces of excessively hard wood made as sharp as needles; and I believe that the truth is, that a punctured wound is likely to cause lockjaw, while a cut or a gash will not.

All these nine poor fellows died, thus reducing our number to twenty-four. We had hard work to make shift to bury the dead; but this, however, after much toil we managed to do, scraping and digging their graves to a depth of about four feet, and arranging over their bodies a screen of grass and branches so that no clods of earth should fall directly on them. Hatibu, who had been brought up in the house of Hamees ibu Sayf’s father at Zanzibar, recited some verses of the Koran over them. All was done by the survivors that lay in their power to render the poor fellows’ funeral decent according to their ideas.{262}

This dreadful visitation seemed to depress the spirits of our people very much, and whispers as to the advisability of our surrendering began again to be heard. At last I hit upon an idea to inspirit my companions, which, when I mentioned it to Hatibu, he approved of immensely. Our besiegers, in order to shelter themselves from the weather, had built thatched sheds close against their boma, and, time hanging heavy on their hands, they had amused themselves with making screens and divisions of grass, which now through the action of the sun were as dry as tinder.

My proposal was that about four in the morning, when all would be sound asleep, I should creep out with a fire-brand and set all these grass erections on fire. Hatibu did not wish me to run the risk alone. I pointed out that one man would have a better chance of success than many, and that as through his kindness to me I owed my life to him, I begged to be allowed to undertake the task by myself. After much discussion he consented. As he saw we ran the same risk as our enemies if our camp was set on fire, and unlike them had no place of retreat, he gave orders for all our thatch and screens to be pulled down and burned, care being taken to prevent a general conflagration.

The natives outside seemed to take this as a sign that we were about to surrender, and in the evening we could hear drums and marimba and signs of rejoicing. They kept up singing, dancing, and drumming till nearly two in the morning. At this I was{263} very glad, for I knew they would sleep extra sound for the rest of the night. At last, all being quiet and still, I crept out and made my way to a hut as big as a haystack where Mona Mkulla had his head-quarters, and arriving at the boma of the natives I hurled my fire-brand over it into the hut. I thought I had been the only one to quit our camp, but as this big hut burst into flames I saw three other places had been fired likewise, and on regaining our camp I found that Hatibu and two other men had gone out the moment after me on a like errand.

The natives’ huts blazed up merrily, and we could see them working hard to try to save their belongings. About five minutes after Hatibu and the others had returned to the camp, the large hut that I had fired fell in, and immediately after there was a great explosion. Evidently the keg of powder which had been abandoned by our men had been placed there and had now blown up. For a few moments after the explosion there was a deep silence; but soon there arose shouts and yells and sounds of mourning, and it was evident that some great person or persons had been killed by the gunpowder.

When day broke we could see that not only all the huts had been burned, but there were also great gaps in the boma of the natives. Men were busy in repairing these, and drums were signalling to all the villages in the neighbourhood. Some of our men who understood the drum-beats said that they were spread{264}ing the news that Mona Mkulla was dead, and calling on all their warriors to come and avenge him.

Hatibu said if that were the case we might expect to be attacked in our camp, for now they would consider it necessary to kill us all as a sacrifice to his spirit. Men would be selected for the task who would be given a choice between being killed at his grave and attacking us. As for us, no terms of surrender would be entertained, but all that we could do when the attack was delivered was to die fighting. Now that there was no prospect of escape, unless by some unheard of good fortune relief should come in time from Hamees ibu Sayf, one and all rose to the occasion, and determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible.

As our present enclosure was too large for us to defend if attacked on all sides at once, we set about making a smaller one inside, into which we could retreat when our assailants came close to the outer one, and from which we could harass them considerably whilst they were making their way through the remains of the old one. This kept us employed all day. At night we divided ourselves into two parties, one to keep watch while the other slept, for we did not know at what moment the attack might be delivered, and we could make out that our besiegers were receiving reinforcements every hour.

The night passed away without our being assailed. About an hour after sunrise four bodies of about a hundred men each rushed at each side of our camp.{265} As soon as they came within effective range we fired our muskets loaded with stones above the bullets. This discharge was most effective, and staggered our assailants, some of whom broke and fled; but on reaching the woods they were speared down without mercy by the people there. Seeing that the only chance of life lay in killing us, the remainder pressed on again; but we had time to reload and give them another volley before they reached our outer defences, and to retreat into our inner citadel.

Whilst the storming party were making their way through our outer defences we were able to knock over many of them. Our ammunition soon gave out. We could have still further decreased their numbers by hurling our spears at them; but this would have left us destitute of weapons for the hand-to-hand fight now imminent, save a few knives and hatchets, and we had to look on passively while they tore away the tree trunks and branches which we had piled up with so much care and toil.

At last this was done, and for a few moments they paused before delivering their final onslaught. The position of affairs now was this:—Inside a small circle, formed by a rude abattis which might be twenty yards or rather more in diameter, was our party of twenty-four grasping their weapons, and every man prepared to sell his life as dearly as he could. Outside were assembled about two hundred and fifty men, animated like us by the courage of despair, who were{266} gathering up their energies for the supreme moment. The masses of people who had kept within the shelter of the woods while firing had been going on, were pressing forward, now that our ammunition had given out, and doubtless in a few moments they would be so carried away by their lust for slaying that they would rush in upon us.

For some minutes there was a lull and silence, which was broken by the beating of the big drums of the natives. Then with a yell the storming party rushed at us, hurling their spears before them and holding their shields above their heads to cover themselves. The first flight of spears knocked over four of our men; but now we were able to return them, and in the short distance which the enemy had to cover I suppose each of our number killed at least two of our assailants. It became sheer hand-to-hand fighting, and gradually they made their way through and over our last shelter. We were at last driven to the centre, where four or five of us, all that were now left alive, stood back to back and resisted fiercely. The spear which I was using I thrust so deeply into the body of a man that was opposed to me that I could not withdraw it, and had to draw a hatchet from my belt for my last means of offence and defence. The man whom I had just killed had his place filled by another, who thrust fiercely at me. I managed to guide his spear to one side, and buried my hatchet in his brain. My companions, too, bore themselves like men, and a rampart of bodies was gradually{267} being formed around us. We were all wounded, and two were beaten down on their knees.

I thought my last moment had come as a huge fellow, tearing away the corpses that sheltered us to some extent, raised his spear to thrust me through. I threw my hatchet at him, and fortunately struck its edge full in his face. He fell backwards, but his place was immediately filled. I was able to seize the spear of my fresh foe, and a struggle for its possession began between us. I knew my chance of life was hopeless, but the warlike spirit of our Norse and Saxon forefathers was on me, and I felt that if only I could kill this one man I should die happy.

Suddenly we heard the sound of guns, and in a few seconds the shouts of men. Hatibu, who was by me, shouted, “Allah il Allah! Wanguana, Wanyamwesi, Tipolo! Fight, men, fight! we are saved!”

Our assailants now broke and fled, and we could see some four or five hundred men, armed with guns, driving our enemies before them like sheep.{268}



We were saved, but, alas! on looking round we found that two of the last five who had stood back to back were mortally wounded. Only Hatibu, myself, and another man named Bilal could hope to recover from our wounds, and even we would have been considered serious cases in the surgical wards of any hospital.

Soon we were surrounded by eager questioners, and our hurts were attended to. Some of our rescuers pursued the routed enemy; others cleared the ground of the tokens of the fray, reserving the bodies of our dead companions for decent burial, while those of the Washenzi, or heathen, as the natives were called, were thrown into the jungle, where they would afford a repast to birds of prey, jackals, and hyenas.

Huts and shelters were soon built. After a time the men who had been engaged in pursuit of the enemy came back, driving before them strings of prisoners whom they had captured. Soon after another body of men came in, among whom were several of{269}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 268.



light complexion, attired in long white shirts, and with white cloths round their heads.

Chief among these was a man rather over the ordinary height, with a black beard and moustache in which the gray hairs were beginning to appear. He was quite white, though of a sallow complexion, with a high-hooked nose and deep black eyes of a most kindly expression, though it was evident that if roused they could be stern and flashing. In his left hand he carried a sheathed two-handed sword, innocent of guard. He was closely followed by a boy about twelve years old carrying a double-barrelled percussion rifle.

This was the famed Hamees ibu Sayf, otherwise known as Tipolo, the principal among all the Arabs who in search of ivory and slaves had crossed the Tanganyika. He exercised an authority among his fellows which few cared to dispute. Upwards of two hundred freemen and slaves from “the island,” and six hundred natives of Unyamwesi, all armed with muskets, served him well and faithfully in the dual capacity of porters and irregular troops.

Besides Hamees ibu Sayf, who alone was of the pure Arab blood of Muscat, there were Wasuahili from “the island,” and Wamerima from the coast, Muinyi Dugumbi, Habib wadi Nassur, Juma wadi Hamed, Muinyi Heri and Hamad ibu Ghasib, all traders, but none of whom were able to muster more than sixty or seventy guns individually. There were also several men either free or the confidential slaves of men resident at Zanzibar,{272} who had followed the caravans of the larger traders with bodies of ten or a dozen men each.

All these men may be dismissed without remark, save only Tipolo, who was an extraordinary man, and who, if he had lived, might now be filling the place occupied by Tipo-Tipo (Hamed ibu Hamed), who now exercises what is practically supreme power from the Tanganyika to Stanley Falls on the Congo. Tipolo was, I regret to say, a slave-trader. His followers were often guilty of great cruelties, for he could not always be with them to restrain them. He himself was a man of kindly disposition; and though brave as a lion, and nothing loath to engage in war when he considered it necessary or advantageous, was equally willing to make treaties with the native chiefs, and was never known to depart from his plighted word. Indeed, many times when other traders were engaged in hostilities with chiefs whom he had promised to assist, if his words and remonstrances were not heeded, he threw the weight of his armed men into the scale on the side of the natives; and, contrary to the custom of many of the Zanzibar travelling merchants, issued beads and other things to his men to buy food, and would not permit them to live at free quarters among the natives.

He now came and sat down where Hatibu, Bilal, and I were lying, and said, gravely and courteously, “Good morning.” It was so long since I had heard a word of my mother tongue, that it awoke many emotions in my breast, and unbidden tears forced themselves to my{273} eyes as I eagerly answered. The sound of English even from my own mouth seemed strange to me. But great was my disappointment when I found he could not understand me, and that his whole stock of English consisted only of the two words “Good morning.”

He now questioned Hatibu about the recent occurrences. Some of the slaves we had liberated proved faithful to their trust, and had brought him news of our desperate plight. No time had been lost in coming to our relief. He said that now he would utterly destroy the power of Mona Mkulla’s successor, and give such a lesson to the natives that never again would they dare to attack a follower of Tipolo.

For some days we remained in this place, and I am sorry to say that Tipolo’s intentions were ruthlessly carried out. Every day strings of captives laden with ivory and whatever else had value in the eyes of their captors were brought into camp. News of villages burned, plantations destroyed, and men killed fighting in defence of their liberty, their families, and their homes, formed the sole topic of conversation.

I tried hard to cause Tipolo to give orders for the work of revenge and extermination to cease; but he said his word was plighted to the other traders that they would carry out the work of plunder to the utmost, and having an opportunity such as rarely, if ever, had occurred before, they were loath to desist. His Wanyamwesi also, unless they were permitted to make slaves, would probably prove unruly, and might{274} perhaps even desert en masse, and leave him without the means of transporting the ivory he had collected to the coast.

By degrees I won over Muinyi Heri, Habib wadi Nassur, and others to the side of mercy; but Muinyi Dugumbi would not listen to my pleadings. At last Tipolo said that for one man’s lust of wealth the war should no longer be carried on, and gave the word for the march to Nyangwe. He told Muinyi Dugumbi that if he did not tell his followers to cease from plunder he would turn his Wanyamwesi against them; and Muinyi sullenly consented.

The wounds of Hatibu, Bilal, and myself, which we had received in our desperate defence of our lives, did not permit us to walk, and litters were constructed on which we were carried. It was with feelings of joy and thankfulness that we commenced our journey towards Nyangwe, the first step towards the coast and of my return to my own people. I need hardly say that my opinion about the delights of African travel had been considerably modified since I and my brother Willie used to talk, on board the Petrel, of the wonderful journeys of Livingstone.

Among Tipolo’s domestic slaves were some who understood the noble art of cookery in a more extended sense than any persons I had hitherto met with in the Dark Continent, and with good food, careful nursing, and revived hope, my wounds recovered so quickly that before half the journey to Nyangwe was{275}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 277.



completed, I was able for a good portion of each day’s march to quit my litter and walk. When I did I always kept near Tipolo, and saw plenty of proof that he carried out his orders about the proper treatment of natives. In one village which we passed through some women came and complained of some men, just gone before, who had gone into a hut and stolen a quantity of plantains. He at once had the men recalled and made them restore their plunder. He took from them some beads and gave them to the women, and then dismissed the culprits with some sound blows from his walking-stick.

At last we sighted the large river on which Nyangwe is situated, and I was astonished to see such a flow of water so far away from the sea. On the side on which we approached there was a wide strip of low country, flooded in the rainy season; whilst on the other, or right side, the banks of the river rose in small cliffs about twenty or twenty-five feet high.

Close to the river on the left bank were villages which are deserted in the rains, but which were now inhabited by people called the Wagenya. These seemed one and all to be engaged in making pots of various shapes and sizes out of the clay obtained from pools left by the river when falling. While in the woods, we had come across men cutting down trees and fashioning them into canoes.

We struck the river some little distance above Nyangwe, and from the natives Tipolo managed to{278} hire some canoes, in which he and his immediate followers, together with Hatibu, Bilal, and myself, embarked, and with the aid of a current which must have run from four to five knots an hour we reached Nyangwe about nine o’clock in the morning, having left those who were to follow by land about six. The river was full of islands. On the larger were villages inhabited by a tribe quite different in their habits and pursuits from the Wagenya, who lived on the left bank. On the numerous sand-banks were quantities of duck and other wild-fowl, while the water abounded with fish, hippopotami, and crocodiles. We passed many canoes between the islands and the shore, some with their occupants engaged in fishing. Their numbers kept on increasing as we drew nearer to Nyangwe, which I quite expected to find a very large place from the number of people I saw going there.

I tried to find out from my companions what was the cause of such a concourse of people, but the only answer I could get was, “Soko leo”—that is, Soko to-day. As I had seen the monkeys that had acted as masters of the ceremonies on the occasion of my first introduction to Hatibu, the words puzzled me exceedingly. What could “Monkeys to-day” mean? Was there going to be a great hunt of these monster apes, and were all those people going to take part in it? Thicker and thicker grew the canoes; and when a bluff crowned with some large houses with high thatched roofs came in sight, I was told it was Nyangwe, and{279}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 281.



I saw that at the landing-place were literally hundreds of empty canoes.

Among these we made our way. We found that the other canoes which were arriving at the same time were loaded with people bringing things for sale, carried in large baskets upon the backs of women, the greater portion of the weight being supported by a band over the forehead, similar to the manner in which a fish-wife carries her creel.

On arriving at the houses we found a large open space close by crowded with people buying and selling. On Tipolo saying to me, “There’s the soko,” I learned that soko, besides being the name of an ape, also meant a market.

There must have been at least two thousand people present—the representatives of many tribes, who, though hostile to each other in all other places, met in this and other markets without fighting or strife. The Wagenya were there with their pottery. Others brought fish, both dried and fresh. Pigs, fowls, eggs, grain, ground-nuts, bananas, palm oil, goats, were bartered for such things as their possessors wanted, while for a few beads and cowries the Arab traders were able to obtain provisions for their numerous followers. The noise and confusion were indescribable. Buyers and sellers were so crowded together that it was almost impossible to make way through them, though apparently there was space enough for the market people to have spread themselves about and carried on their{282} business in comfort, instead of jostling against each other and damaging many of their wares.

When we got through this mass of humanity we found ourselves before a large house with a large veranda, the floor of which was raised about two feet above the ground. Here mats and cushions were spread, and soon traders and their men crowded round, longing to learn what our news was. Hatibu and Bilal were welcomed by their wives with loud expressions of joy. The wives of the poor fellows who had been killed were most noisy and demonstrative in their grief, daubing themselves with white, and going round to all the houses of the settlement, wailing and clapping their hands in a measured cadence.

The news of the success of Tipolo in his expedition, was received with much applause, while admiration was lavished on Hatibu, Bilal, and the Mzungu (European) for the bravery they had displayed. We were likened to simba (lions), mwamba (crocodiles), tembe (elephants), and mboys (or buffaloes); and much wonder was expressed that I, a white man, had come from the farther sea, of the existence and position of which the people assembled had only a dim and distant knowledge. They were astonished that I had passed years among the Washenzi, or heathen, as the people of “the island” call all the pagan tribes of Central Africa, without being killed and eaten. But their astonishment rose to its greatest height when they heard that I had escaped from the dwarfs, whose quiver of poisoned{283}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 281.



arrows I had preserved, for they were indeed watu wabaya (bad men), and mkali kama moto (hot as fire).

As soon as our budget was exhausted Tipolo inquired what had occurred during his absence. Two men were brought to him who had arrived only the evening before with the news that his brother Hamed ibu Sayf would arrive in a few days from Ujiji, where he had been to bring up goods left behind when Tipolo quitted that place; and that the road between it and Unyanyembe, which had for some time been closed by the Watuta (a robber tribe), was again open. As soon as he heard this, Tipolo said that when his brother arrived he would at once despatch a caravan to the coast with part of the ivory he had collected. He told me also that I should go with it, and that its command would be given to Hatibu. To Hatibu and Bilal he now gave their freedom, as a reward for their bravery, presenting Hatibu with twelve slaves and six tusks of ivory, and to Bilal he gave eight slaves and four tusks.

By this time the market was over. Though the only traces of there having been such an enormous assemblage of people gathered together were the trampled condition of the ground and the litter left behind, on walking to the bluff overhanging the river I could see the canoes dispersing in all directions.

A comfortable room in Tipolo’s house was now placed at my disposal. Clothes were given me to dress myself in, coffee with sugar in it, and bread made of wheaten flour, were given to me—luxuries to which I had been{286} a stranger for many a long day. Though I knew that a long, toilsome, and perhaps dangerous journey still lay before me, I had no forebodings. When I retired to rest that night I thanked God truly and earnestly for having preserved me from all the dangers through which I had passed in my years of African travel, for the good treatment I had received at the hands of Tipolo and Hatibu, and for having brought me at last to a place of safety.{287}



Tipolo and his immediate friends treated me with every kindness; but many of the smaller traders, who would fain have been robbers and not traders at all, and who chafed under the restrictions which Tipolo enforced in their intercourse with the natives, did not regard me with any favour. They said openly it was a mistake to let an Englishman who knew all about their doings in Central Africa leave the country, as he would be sure to tell his government that they traded in slaves; and that already the Beni har (sons of fire), as they called our naval officers, interfered with the transport of slaves from “the island” to Munculla and Muscat. To this Tipolo answered, that here among the heathen it was for all civilized persons to assist one another; that by all the laws of hospitality, by the traditions of the Arab race, and by the teaching of Mohammed, the prophet of God, whom God bless,[C] they were bound to{288} assist me to the utmost, and should do so without any hope of reward or fear of evil.

Though Tipolo was so kind to me, I longed for the day when we should leave Nyangwe. In his presence I was free from insult, but many of the baser sort among the traders did not scruple to insult me, calling me a dog of a Nazarene, a hog, and unclean, and would doubtless, unless deterred by fear, have ill-treated me in other ways. These people too, I found, lived a life of debauchery. Such slaves as they had they treated in a very cruel manner, quite different from that in which Tipolo treated those of his household; but I am obliged to say that the captives he had made in his recent campaign, though fairly fed, were but poorly lodged, and kept chained in gangs of from ten to fifteen to prevent their escape.

One evening, as I was drinking coffee with him in his barazah, or veranda, the only other person present being Hatibu, to whom he had been giving orders about his journey to the coast, I ventured to speak to him about slavery and the condition of those unfortunate people dragged away from their wives and families.

I was somewhat afraid he would resent my interference, but I was much pleased to find that he did not. He only seemed to think that I and all Englishmen were mad on the question of slavery, which he argued had always been and always would be, adding that Daood, and Suliman ibu Daood (David and his son Solomon), and the prophet Ayoub (Job), had all{289} possessed slaves, and that the Koran permitted slavery. To this I said that surely the Koran did not permit wars for the purpose of making slaves; and though I had never heard he had sent out slave-raids, still Muinyi Dugumbi and other traders did, and it could not be right to keep numbers of men in chains.

He answered, that with the doings of Muinyi Dugumbi and others like him he had nothing to do; that he often used his influence to prevent them from attacking the natives without provocation, and to induce them to treat their captives kindly. As for himself and all true Arabs, he said the slaves of their household were treated as members of the family, and had nothing to complain of; indeed, they were better off than they would be as freemen, and could always, if they desired it, become free. The captives he had made, he confessed, were not so well treated; “but,” he said, “what can I do? I have here ivory which I have collected at great cost and risk, and here it is valueless to me. I must send it to the sea to sell it; and how am I to carry it? If I send my own men, my people from ‘the island,’ and my Wanyamwesi with it, I shall be left here without defence. The people of the country will not travel far for hire. Slaves cost more than freemen. From Unyanyembe to Kilwa and Bagamoyo the Wanyamwesi go as porters, and we pay and feed them; that is better than employing slaves. Ten slaves are chained together,—one man stops, all stop. Ten slaves cannot carry as much as five men who are free. If I could{290} carry my ivory without slaves I would, as it would be better and cheaper for me. A freeman wants to end his journey and get his payment; a slave does not care—one day is the same as another to him: so that the freeman travels faster and further. No; if I could get pagazi (porters) to carry my ivory, I would never use slaves. But if we did not have slaves, what would become of the people the heathen make prisoners in war? They would be killed and eaten. Surely it is better for them to be slaves.”

I was unable to reply; but he did not convince me at all that slavery was right, or even excusable. I daily became more and more a hater of slavery, from what I saw of the way the captives he had taken in the late fights were treated, though their lot was far better than that of those who had fallen into the hands of other traders. I had, however, not much time to argue with Tipolo on the subject, for his brother arrived; and he was busy all day long with him arranging about pushing their trading-parties further afield, and about the despatch of ivory to the coast.

I was delighted to find that Hatibu, my first acquaintance among the Arabs and their retainers, was selected for the charge of the down-caravan, and that Bilal was to accompany him, as with them I felt myself safe. If any of the many people who did not care about my freely expressed opinions about slavery had been put in charge, they would not have treated me so kindly as did Hatibu, with whom I had struck up a{291}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 293.



very warm friendship, increased by the memory of the perils we had gone through together. I had the feeling that, under Providence, it was to him I was indebted for my life and the prospect of returning to my own people and my own country.

Our preparations were not very great. Besides Hatibu and Bilal and their wives, Tipolo sent twenty men from Zanzibar, and thirty Wanyamwesi. A hundred loads of ivory were loaded on as many slaves, and fifty more were sent to be used in case the others broke down, or to be sold and bartered on the road. In the meantime they carried the personal belongings of their escort, and a small stock of beads and cowries with which to pay for food. Muinyi Dugumbi and others also took the opportunity of this party leaving for the coast to send away slaves and ivory, and gave the charge of their ventures to some of their own adherents.

Before leaving Nyangwe, Tipolo told me to speak for him to the consul of the English at Zanzibar, and say that he had done all that lay in his power for me. He said that his agent there would provide me with means to return home. His kindness quite overpowered me, and I did not know how I could thank this generous and good-hearted man for all his kindness to me. It is my duty to represent him as he appeared to me, and to mourn that such a man should be almost compelled to be a trafficker in human flesh.

He accompanied us for a couple of hours on our first{294} day’s march. When we parted he said he had given into Hatibu’s charge, for my special use, a bag of rice, some curry stuff, and a small quantity of coffee, to enable me to live more comfortably than if I were to depend entirely on the products of the country for food.

For the first three or four days our road led through a comparatively open country, where there were but few inhabitants, and where the villages lay far apart. Hatibu, in obedience to the orders of Tipolo, paid the people of these villages for any supplies he got from them; but the other chiefs of parties allowed their men to plunder and rob, and it was easy to see that if it had not been for the fear entertained of our fire-arms, the sufferers would have attacked us. As it was, the women and children all fled on our approach, and only the men remained in the villages. Armed with heavy spears and huge wooden shields, they seemed formidable fellows; and every night a warning was given in camp that no one should straggle from the caravan, as we were entering Manyuema, where the people were fierce, and would kill and eat all strangers whom they found alone. Nor was this warning unnecessary; for as I conversed with Hatibu and Bilal around our campfire at night, they told me many instances of stragglers having been cut off; and often in the day-time we could see bodies of men watching the progress of our party, evidently ready to attack us if any favourable opportunity offered itself.

As we advanced the country became more thickly{295} populated; and in the course of each day’s march we passed many large villages, which were different in their arrangements from any I had seen in my wanderings in Africa. They were all composed of long, parallel rows of huts, built of red mud, with thatched roofs. The huts, instead of being as usual round or square, were oblong, and the roofs had gable ends. In the smaller of the villages there were only two rows of these huts, facing each other across a wide open space. Along the centre of this was usually planted a row of oil palms, between which were the village granaries and floors of hardened clay, with trunks of trees sunk to half their diameter, and having holes cut in them for the women and slaves to pound the corn required for food.

In the larger villages there were two, three, and even four of these double rows, sometimes disposed abreast, and sometimes radiating from a large open space. In every village were one or more large sheds, under which were foundries where iron was smelted, the blast necessary to get up the heat being produced by men working a curious kind of bellows, there being sometimes ten or a dozen men squatting round the furnace, each working away at his own pair of bellows. The iron was made into blooms weighing about three or four pounds, shaped like a double cone, with a projection about as big as a skewer, and four inches long at each end. These were used by the producers to barter for all sorts of necessaries of life, and even luxuries, as{296} they are understood in Central Africa. Hatibu, who said they would be of great use on our road for procuring provisions, laid in a stock of them, as did all our followers.

The ironworkers did not confine themselves to making this iron currency, for they were most skilful smiths. The blades of the knives, spears, and axes which they made were often elaborately ornamented with patterns chiselled on them, and in some cases were perforated. The most valuable of all were inlaid with copper, the patterns being very good and tasteful. Indeed, the arms of the chiefs were often such masses of ornament that they became almost useless for purposes of offence.

The villages of these ironworkers were passed in about seven days; and soon after we came to a river called the Luama, which we had to cross in canoes. Here, while crossing, we were somewhat frightened by a herd of hippopotami coming down the stream and blowing close to the canoes. One, indeed, came so close to the canoe in which Hatibu and I were that I could have touched its back with my hand, and I was in a great fright lest we should be capsized.

As it was too late for us to continue our march when we were all across, we had to form our camp on the bank of the river; and in the evening we began speaking of the hippopotami. Some natives in the camp told us how they were in the habit of waiting at night for the brutes to land, and spearing them as they came{297} out of the water. I was desirous to be quit with them for the fear and annoyance they had caused us, and I proposed to Hatibu that we should try our hand at this sport if we could find a place where they were in the habit of coming ashore.

When the natives heard this, they said they would take us to a place where there would be hippopotami in plenty, but as it would be too late for us to go that night, they proposed that we should halt the next day to let the people rest and get food. This suited us very well; for we found that corn was cheap and plentiful, and Hatibu had intended to have made a stay two days further on for the purpose of provisioning the caravan. By what he now heard he found that the village where he had intended to halt had been burned by the inhabitants of another some little distance away, so that we should have been disappointed had we tried to get food there.{298}



Next day, soon after noon, Hatibu and I left Bilal in charge of the camp. With four men armed with muskets we went in a canoe with two natives about three miles down the river, where we landed, and there found one of the most extraordinary sights that one ever saw. The river was about ten feet below its highest level in flood-time, and the water, falling, had left a huge, swampy lagoon, separated from it by five or six hundred yards of muddy ground. On the shores of this lagoon were the most extraordinary flocks of storks and other birds, which, according to our guides, came there only at certain times of the year, and then stopped for a few days. We could see numbers of hippopotami wallowing about in the water, it in many places not being deep enough to cover them. Lying on its banks were a lot of dark objects, looking something like decayed trunks of trees. As we drew near they began to move, and then I saw that they were crocodiles.{299}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 298.



Certainly we had been brought where there were plenty of hippopotami, but it was a question how we could get at them. There was great danger, especially if we waded into the water, of being attacked by the crocodiles. I at first proposed that we should haul the canoe across the muddy strip separating the river from the lagoon; but we soon found that we had not men enough to do it. Hatibu began to scold the guides, telling them they had brought us on a fool’s errand; but they begged of us not to be angry, saying we should, by following a path which they pointed out, reach in half an hour a village where we could rest till sunset, and close to this village was a place where the hippopotami constantly came out to feed on the growing crops, and where a proper ambuscade had been made to spear them from.

At first Hatibu did not care about going to this village, as he feared some treachery; and, even without treachery, the people belonging to the parties with us might bring about a row with the natives, and we might be cut off from our companions, and be unable to defend ourselves. I overruled his scruples. Following the path, we struck through some tall cane grass, and found the whole ground covered with tracks of hippopotami and crocodiles, while occasionally we came across fresh tracks of elephants. As soon as we saw these, Hatibu became eager to go on, the hope of adding to his stock of ivory overweighing any feeling of caution.{302}

We had not gone above five hundred yards along this path before we heard screams and yells, and soon made out that they proceeded from some Zanzibar people. Fearing that they might have got into some trouble, we made our way with all haste in their direction, and breaking through the grass we came upon a most exciting scene. A large portion of the grass was trampled down. A number of the men who had gone out early in the morning were brandishing their weapons, and some in the middle were thrusting at some object which we could not very clearly discern. As we drew closer we made out that this was an enormous crocodile, and we heard that he had seized upon one of the party who had incautiously strayed from the path.

His companions had been attracted by the poor fellow’s yells. They had rushed to his rescue, and had managed to drive the brute away from him; but after a bit the crocodile had turned to bay, and they were now all round him trying to find a spot where they could penetrate his scaly armour, and springing from side to side in order to avoid the sweeping blows which he was dealing with his powerful tail. Just as we came up one fellow more adroit and daring than his companions managed to plunge a spear into the animal’s eye. It at once rolled over in agony, exposing its belly, where the skin is softer, and instantly it was riddled with spears. Though wounded to the death, it was tenacious of life, knocked several fellows over, and{303}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 302.


Page 302.



seized one poor fellow by the arm, dragging the flesh and tendons from the bone.

At this moment we, and the men with us who had muskets, fired point-blank into its head, shattering it to pieces. We did not care to remain in the neighbourhood, for the natives said that we might very likely find more of these dangerous reptiles lurking in the canes, so we picked up the two wounded men, and, regaining the path, made the best of our way to the village.

On arriving we found that the poor fellow who had been first seized was past caring for, and the wound of the second was such that I did not see how we could do anything for him. Our guides said if we would leave him to a fetichman in the village he would save his life, though he would have to resign himself to the loss of his hand. I was very much astonished at this, for I did not see how these savages could pretend to amputate a limb; and the unfortunate fellow had the bone between his wrist and elbow all bared of the flesh, which was hanging in ribbons. Fortunately there was no great flow of blood, or else he would have been dead before then.

Hatibu at once said that if the fetichman could do anything for him he would pay him well; and the surgeon soon appeared. He ordered a fire to be lit and a pot placed on it and filled with porridge, and as soon as this was boiling fast he, with a very sharp knife, dissected the elbow-joint of the wounded man, who was{306} held by four strong men to prevent struggling. The fore arm was removed, and then the bleeding stump plunged into the boiling porridge.

When the porridge had cooled down the stump was withdrawn, and it was encased in a great clot of the porridge, over which the surgeon tied a piece of oiled grass-cloth. He then said that all the care now necessary would be to keep the stump safe from blows until the cake of porridge came off naturally and easily. This would be in about three weeks, when we would find the wound healed up, and the man, save for the lack of his arm, as well as ever he was in his life.

The operator was told that if he would return with us to our camp in the morning he should be amply rewarded for his skill and care. Then we began to make further inquiries about our projected hippopotami-spearing, and we were told that the fetichman himself would take us to their track. All that he asked was that we would implicitly obey his directions, and that unless in imminent danger we would not fire off a gun, for the report of a musket at night would alarm the whole country. To all this we agreed.

An hour before sunset we left the village, and following a narrow path through fields of Indian corn we came to a place where the bank of the lagoon was some four feet above the surface, and where the hippopotami, in their nightly searches for food, had broken down a passage five or six feet wide. On either side we ensconced ourselves so as to wait for the brutes landing.{307}

Before the sun went down we were interested and astonished by remarking the extraordinary number of birds that came from the lagoon and flew away to their resting-places in the surrounding woods, and the noise of ducks and other water-fowl that were calling to their companions previous to seeking their night’s lodgings in the reeds. As soon as it was dark all was quiet, except for the croaking of innumerable frogs, that seemed, now that they were relieved from the fear of attacks by storks and other feathered enemies, to be resolved to enjoy themselves by making night hideous with their tuneless notes. As I listened to them I could almost imagine that I was close to some huge ship-building yards, and that innumerable calkers and smiths were busy plying their noisy trades.

We waited for some time, keeping quite still and quiet. I began to think that the hippopotami must have chosen some other place for their night’s grazing-ground, when Hatibu gripped me by the arm and said—

“Listen, Franki, listen!”

I listened most intently, and soon I heard the sound of blowing and snorting, which gradually grew nearer; then I heard splashing and sounds of the huge beasts we were waiting for wallowing in the mud and water as they made their way to the landing-place. Presently a great dark mass came up from the lagoon and passed close by. I seized my spear, ready to plunge it into the flank of the beast as he passed. The fetichman whispered to us to wait, for if we wounded this{308} one he would turn back into the lagoon, and all our hopes of a night’s sport would be destroyed. Slowly and cautiously the great animal made his way past us, and when about twenty yards from the bank he gave a great roar, which was answered by others that were still in the lagoon. This was evidently a signal that the way was clear, for he was immediately followed by no less than twenty hippopotami of all sizes, the last being a half-grown one.

The fetichman now gave the signal for the attack to commence. I plunged my spear, a heavy iron-hafted weapon, into the side of the last one, and felt Hatibu and others striking it at the same time. At the same moment one of the natives set fire to a great pile of dry grass and reeds which had been collected, and the flames blazing up threw a light on the scene. Other fires were instantly lighted, and the hippopotami, evidently confused by the light of the flames, did not seem to know which way to turn. The one we had first stabbed was killed on the spot; and now we all, natives and our own people, rushed in among the herd and stabbed indiscriminately at any one of the beasts we could reach. This was not unaccompanied by risk and danger; for the animals, though confused and surprised, kept making rushes and charges at their assailants, and it was only by exercising the utmost caution and agility that we could avoid being knocked over and trampled under their feet, which would have been certain death.{309}

The scene was an impressive one. The lurid light of the flames shone on the shiny hides of the animals. The figures of the hunters, dealing wounds on every side, looked like wild men; and their yells and cries as they made a successful thrust were mingled with the roars and cries of the wounded animals, which tried in vain to break away. Being met on every side by fresh opponents thrusting at them with their spears and brandishing masses of burning reeds torn from the fires, they headed back again.

At last the fires began to burn low, and half-a-dozen of the animals, which had been driven together in the middle of our circle of attack, made a determined rush to the lagoon, and though one fell under repeated wounds just before reaching the water, the rest made their escape. We now looked to the results of our ambush, and found that fifteen hippopotami had fallen victims to our spears; but although every one of us had tales to tell of hairbreadth escapes, not one of our party had received any injury.

The fetichman and other natives were delighted with the results of the night’s work, for they said the carcasses would afford a plentiful supply of meat both for them and us, and the hippopotami would now avoid that side of the lagoon for many months, and their crops would be safe from their depredations. Hatibu, who had agreed that the tusks should fall to our share, was pleased with such an addition to the value of what we were conveying to the coast.{310}

These tusks we cut out at once, and it now being midnight we returned to the village to rest, leaving the work of skinning and dividing the bodies till the morning. A hut was given to me and Hatibu to sleep in, and, fatigued by our long day and the work of slaughter in which we had been engaged, we were soon slumbering soundly. I dreamed of our onslaught, and I thought that the animals commenced beating drums, and had muskets and were using them against us. At last I awoke thinking that the biggest of all the animals was pointing at me a musket as large as a thirty-two pounder, and soon I found that drums certainly were beating in all directions, and that there was a sound of distant musketry fire.{311}



I instantly roused Hatibu, and together we rushed into the middle of the village, calling for our followers to rally round us; for it was only too evident that a conflict was taking place between some of our fellow-travellers from Nyangwe and some of the natives.

They came round us at once, and without waiting to try to learn anything of the cause of the trouble, they proposed at once to set fire to the village where we were and then make the best of our way to the camp. They were all in such a state of mingled fright and anger that there was no knowing to what lengths they would have proceeded; but fortunately Hatibu kept his head and restrained them, pointing out that the people of the village where we were could have had no hand in causing the conflict, as our camp was on the other side of the river, and that none of them were absent.

The fetichman and all his people had also turned out, and any foolish word or action might have brought on a conflict the results or termination of which no one{312} could have foreseen. Hatibu called out and said that we were Tipolo’s people, and he asked if Tipolo had not always paid for all he had received, and if he was not friends with the whole country when they did not molest him. “But,” said he, “remember Tipolo is strong and has many guns, and if his people are hurt he will eat up his enemies.”

The fetichman said this was true, but the drums were saying that the strangers had been robbing the villages, and had made people prisoners; and even now, as some had attempted to escape, two had been shot, and others that got away had told their friends; and there was war between the people on the other side of the river and those travelling with us.

I had often heard of news being conveyed by drums, but never so detailed and elaborate as this; but Hatibu said he could believe it all, and now proposed to have a talk with the fetichman and settle what should be done.

When I had first awoke dawn was just breaking, and now it was daylight, and we would be able to make our way to camp quickly unless hindered by the natives on this side of the Luama throwing in their lot with those on the other bank. To prevent this Hatibu put forth all his powers of argument and persuasion, and at last the fetichman consented to accompany us to camp, and with Hatibu to endeavour to arrange terms of peace.

No sooner had he consented than we set off and{313} made our way to the river. While some made their way along the banks others paddled up in canoes. By nine o’clock we reached our camp, where we found Bilal anxiously awaiting our arrival. He said that the day before, soon after we were gone, two chiefs and their followers had come into the part of the camp occupied by the people, and had taken advantage of Tipolo sending a caravan to the coast to protest against the thieving of provisions, and also to ask for the release of two women caught while fishing near the river by these ruffians and made slaves.

The demands of the native chiefs were moderate enough. They offered to give a tusk of ivory for the freedom of the two women, and asked for a promise that all the corn, plantains, goats, and other things required by the men in the caravan should be paid for. But the men with us, being over-confident in the possession of guns, refused to do anything, took the ivory, and seized upon the two chiefs and some of their followers. The rest, seeing this, made off, and all got away clear, except two who were shot down.

The men who got away roused the whole country and just before daybreak the drums were beaten in the villages. The prisoners, who were somewhat carelessly guarded, then attempted to escape, and all had done so except one of the two chiefs and another man, who were killed while trying to get away. This had occasioned the firing we had heard in the morning, and large bodies of armed men assembled{314} all round our camp with their spears and wooden shields.

These people were now taunting their enemies and daring them to come out and fight. Both sides were afraid of one another—the natives fearing to come within range, and our troublesome fellow-travellers not daring to go out into the woods for fear of losing the advantage which the possession of guns gave them in an open place. When we arrived Hatibu at once sent for the leaders of the men who had occasioned all this trouble. He spoke his mind very plainly to them, saying that they were endangering not only their own lives and belongings, which he did not value overmuch, but also all Tipolo’s ivory and property. He would tell all the big traders of their conduct, and they would never again be able to come into Manyuema by attaching themselves to the parties of men who wished to deal honourably and honestly.

After much talk and a great deal of abuse, Hatibu said he would try to patch up a peace through the people who had come with us from the village where we had passed the night. Unless, however, the aggressors agreed to terms, he and all Tipolo’s men would make common cause with the natives; for he had no wish to be delayed or to have to make his way through a country hostile to us, as there were many places we should have to pass where we would be cut off to a man.

At last his proposals were agreed to. Our friends{315} went out in front of the camp and beat a drum, and then some men from among those in the woods came and spoke. After a little a messenger came to Hatibu to say that the natives would listen to what any of Tipolo’s men had to say. I went out with them, and found that though they looked very fierce and formidable they had such a fear of our guns that they were very willing to come to terms. They only asked now that the two women should be released, and that some cloth and beads should be given to bury with the men who had been killed, so that these should not appear in the next world bare and naked.

To this we readily assented, and as those who caused the disturbance had nothing, Hatibu, out of Tipolo’s stores, gave what was required, and took a writing from them that the amount they had to pay should be settled when we arrived at Kawele on Lake Tanganyika, which from the way it was spoken of I expected to find quite a civilized place. To cement the treaty a great fetich had to be made, which the fetichman who had conducted the negotiations superintended. First of all a fowl was brought and killed, and the guns of our people and the spears and shields of some of the natives were sprinkled with its blood. It was said that if they broke the treaty their weapons would do damage to themselves, and not to those against whom they were directed. After this an earthen pot full of water was brought, into which sundry bits of stick and dirt were put, and, to render it a still more powerful charm,{316} there were added a charge of gunpowder and a small scrap of paper on which Hatibu had made some marks. Every one took a sip, and then we all parted, apparently the best friends in the world.

Next morning, however, we found that the women had not been given up as agreed, and Hatibu had to go in person and insist upon their release. This obstinacy on the part of those who had caused us all this trouble led to a delay of another day; and next morning, when we at last started, Hatibu told me he would push on with all speed with Tipolo’s people and let the others keep up with him or not as they liked. Hatibu wanted us to get away from Kawele before the rainy season commenced, or we should be much troubled by the streams we should have to pass before we got to Unyanyembe, where he said there were many Arabs, and whence communication with the coast was constant and easy.

Following this determination we made very long marches—as long indeed as the poor wretches of slaves carrying the ivory could possibly make—and in four or five days more we came to a range of steep and mountainous hills. According to Hatibu, these formed the termination of the country called Manyuema by the Arabs, and, until Tipolo had managed to make friends with some of the chiefs, they had been considered by many as a barrier to any advance westwards or northwards.

Climbing these mountains took us a whole day.{317} In ravines on their sides I saw some of the tallest trees I ever remember having seen; indeed I do not think that the tallest among them could have been under three hundred feet in height. This climb was very severe on the unfortunate slaves who were carrying the ivory. Besides the physical labour which they had to endure, they seemed to lose all heart at passing what to them seemed the limit of their native land. Hitherto they had hoped that by some fortunate chance they might regain their freedom; but from this day many of them seemed to droop and die without any apparent illness—doubtless simply from lack of wish to live now that they despaired of ever again seeing their own country.

Notwithstanding this, Hatibu forced on our march, the Wanyamwesi and Zanzibar men all carrying ivory when necessary, and in an extraordinarily short time we reached the shores of Lake Tanganyika. I remember some of the names of the countries we hurried through—Uhiya, Ubudjwa, and Uguhba. Some of the people had most extravagant head-dresses, something resembling a huge chignon, made of bark, and with a piece like a tongue hanging out of the middle of it. Others disfigured themselves by perforating their upper lips and inserting in the hole a piece of circular wood or stone, which caused it to project like a duck’s bill, and which, while certainly no ornament, could have been of no manner of use. The women, apparently to make up for their lack of clothing, were most elab{318}orately tattooed in patterns which were by no means unpleasing all over the fronts of their bodies. I remember the day that I came upon streams running eastward, and I was glad at the sign that we were really making our way now towards that bourn of my hopes, the east coast of Africa. I have also a remembrance of some hot springs where all our travel-worn company enjoyed a most refreshing bath. But though I had thought myself equal to my companions in endurance, I found myself so tired at the end of each day’s march that I was glad to eat what food was provided me, and then to rest till the word was given to resume our toilsome way.

The day before we reached the Tanganyika we saw its blue waters gleaming in the sun as we crossed the summit of a range of hills. As I saw this great inland sea sparkling, as it seemed, at our feet, I could not believe that it was still many weary hours’ march from us; but so it proved, the hills which we had crossed being much higher than I had supposed. On reaching the lake we went to a village called, I think, Ruanda, where the head-man had been put in charge of some huge canoes belonging to Tipolo which had been hauled up on shore, sheds being built over to protect them from the weather.

One of these canoes was over seventy feet long, all hewed out of one enormous log, and so large that I could only just manage to look over her side when standing on the ground by her, and I could not stretch{319} across her. Two others had their bottoms all of one piece, with topsides made of planks nailed to rough ribs, and small poops and forecastles. The trees out of which these canoes were made had grown in the mountains of Uyoma. They were pointed out to me on the west of the lake, lying to the north of where we had struck it.

With much ado and trouble we got the canoes launched, and then found that the two built-up ones wanted calking, and had to be hauled ashore again. I was astonished now to see Hatibu, Bilal, and other Zanzibar men at this work. They did it well, using raw cotton, which, when water gets to it, swells exceedingly and makes the seams stanch and tight. All having been prepared, we embarked all our ivory and the greater portion of our slaves, who were dreadfully frightened at going on such an expanse of water as Tanganyika, though they were by no manner of means bad hands in the smaller canoes they were accustomed to on their own rivers. We gave the remainder to the chief who had been in charge of the canoes for the care he had taken of them, and also to pay for men to assist in pulling the canoes across the lake.

Our fellow-travellers who had been lagging behind for part of the way, had been making extraordinary exertions to overtake us, but could not possibly get their loaded men up before we left. However, a messenger arrived from them just as we were going to leave, and begged us to wait and give them a passage{320} across to Kawele with as. “There,” said Hatibu, “it is always the same. Tipolo has boats, and these men want them; Tipolo has guns, and these men shelter themselves behind them. They always cry to Tipolo to help them, and then they do things which are against Tipolo’s words. They find trouble, and cry to Tipolo.” As there was only room for our party, Hatibu refused to wait, but said he would send the canoes back, and they could have the use of them to get to Kawele. Even this was more than I thought they deserved, for they had been nothing but a hindrance and a danger to us from the time we left Nyangwe.{321}



Our first day’s voyage was to some islands about four miles north of where we embarked. Here we stopped till night-time, so as not to have to pull in the heat of the sun when we started for the long voyage to the opposite shore. The point which we were to make on the opposite side was a bold headland, which Hatibu told me was called Kungwe. It was the southernmost point of land on that side visible from Kawele, and seemed to be about forty miles distant.

As soon as the sun had gone down we manned the canoes. The one in which Hatibu and I took our passage was partly manned by Zanzibar people, who pulled rude oars made of a large round piece of wood nailed on to the end of a short pole. The other two, which had crews hired to us by the chief who had taken care of this squadron of Tipolo’s, were propelled by paddles, having very small blades shaped like the ace of clubs. All our people, except the unfortunate slaves, were very merry at the prospect of reaching a{322} place where they would meet their countrymen, and have an opportunity of learning the news from and gossiping about their beloved island and Unyanyembe, and where they could strut and swagger and brag of having been in Manyuema, and lord it over those who had never been to the west of the lake. As they laboured at the oars they sang songs which seemed destitute of tune, but contained allusions to good times they were going to have, and praised themselves as brave and fine fellows who had done so much; and when the man who sang the solo parts made a special hit all joined in the chorus with zest and pulled their hardest, making their clumsy craft fairly dance over the water.

The scenery on the lake on this beautiful night was inexpressibly lovely. The moon, which was a little past her first quarter, threw a gentle silvery light over the water, and allowed us to distinguish the outlines of the mountains by which it was surrounded. Till the moon set I sat on the poop close by Hatibu, who was steering. I was simply enjoying myself, the cool night air on the lake and the luxury of moving without labour being great. When the moon sank behind the western mountains, and the men, though they still pulled lustily, gave up singing, I lay down, and covering myself with some mats, I watched the glorious stars of the tropics, like golden lamps hanging in the blue-black heavens, till I fell asleep to dream of my father and the Petrel.

I was dreaming that I was on board the Petrel when{323} she was struck by a squall, and losing my footing had rolled down into the lee-scuppers; and I woke to find that the canoe was pitching about in an angry and confused sea, and that I had been rolled from where I was sleeping to the other side of the poop. I at once got hold of the rail and, raising myself up, looked round. Not a star was visible now, and a heavy breeze blowing had caused a nasty cross-sea to rise. Of the other two canoes I could see nothing; and our own was shipping a good deal of water, keeping four or five men constantly at work baling, while the slaves were lying about moaning and bewailing their unhappy lot, and suffering from all the miseries of sea-sickness.

The wind had come up from the southward and eastward, and we had been driven so considerably to the northward of Kungwe, that instead of making the point we would have to put in under the shelter of another called Kabogo. As this would have the effect of considerably shortening our voyage to Kawele, it may be imagined that I did not at all mind, and in about a couple of hours we reached a small inlet where we were sheltered from wind and sea. Here was an old camp, and we soon had fires lighted to dry our belongings and cook our food, and even the poor slaves seemed to be happy to have escaped from what to them had appeared the dangers of the lake.

As soon as the canoe was cleared out, and some men set to work to calk the leaks which had been caused by the knocking about we had received, Hatibu proposed{324} to me to walk up to the top of the cape and look out for the other canoes.

When we arrived there we could see one of our consorts still battling with the waves, and evidently attempting to get into a large bay which lay between us and Kungwe, so as to pull up to that headland in smooth water. Of the other, which was the large one made of a single tree, we could not see any sign, and Hatibu said he was much afraid that in such a sea as we had encountered she might have capsized and, together with her occupants and valuable cargo, been lost. He ordered a big fire to be made as a signal to the canoe we saw that we had arrived. When it blazed up we saw her alter her course, and soon after she came into the inlet where we had found shelter.

As soon as she arrived we made anxious inquiries if her crew had any news of the missing craft; but they had seen nothing of her since leaving the islands. As the hours passed on and nothing could be seen by the look-outs we had stationed to watch, we were all of us obliged to agree with Hatibu that she had probably been capsized.

I pointed out that though she might upset and roll her cargo out she could not possibly sink, and proposed that we should go in search of her on the chance of finding some of her crew clinging to her. This proposal was not welcomed with enthusiasm, the crews of both canoes saying they were too tired to put to sea again, and before we could get any distance away from{325} land it would be night. I persisted that we should search for our comrades, and at last my arguments prevailed so far that Hatibu decided at daylight the next morning to look for her.

We all felt gloomy and depressed owing to the non-arrival of the canoe, and at night round the camp-fires there were none of the songs and jokes which had been common the night before. At sunset Hatibu was going to recall the look-outs and let the fire die out, but I persuaded him to keep it burning, for there might be some chance of the absent ones being still afloat and safe, and if they saw the fire they would naturally come to it and not go to Kungwe.

To this he agreed, and it was well he did so, for in the middle of the night, after the moon had set, we heard the songs of the paddlers, and the missing canoe glided into the inlet. The story of her crew was a very short and simple one. About an hour after starting they found they had left two of their number behind, and had to put back for them; then when the wind had sprung up they had thought it best not to start until it lulled again, which was not until the afternoon. They then shaped their course for Kungwe, but soon after sunset they saw our fire on Kabogo and made for that place.

All was now life and spirit, and notwithstanding the time of night the men began dancing and singing, heedless of the hard day’s work which lay before them. Long before daylight the canoes were loaded, and we{326} pushed out into the lake and commenced coasting northwards towards Kawele. A fresh southerly breeze soon came up. We landed to cut down some bamboos, on which we spread mats and cloths; and so we extemporized some sails, which helped us on our way merrily. About two in the afternoon we passed the long red promontory formed by the mud brought down by the swift and turbulent Malagarazi, and could see the point behind which Kawele was situated. Though the breeze died away with the sun the men kept stoutly to their work, and when they at last ceased from pulling we were only half an hour from our goal. The only reason for not going on was the unseemliness in a caravan from dreaded Manyuema with wealth of ivory and slaves coming in with as little ceremony as a fishing-canoe. It was necessary that there should be firing of guns and beating of drums and waving of flags, and that the ivory should be carried up before all beholders to show the wealth Tipolo had gained by pushing his journeys so far afield.

As soon as the first signs of dawn appeared behind the eastern hills all were on the alert, and finery, of the existence of which I had never dreamed, was donned by all. Spears and shields from Manyuema, and trophies of our fight beyond Nyangwe, were displayed, drums were placed on poop and forecastle, and from the stem of our ship Hatibu displayed a white and red flag, on which were written quotations from the Koran. Our men wore head-dresses of zebras’ manes and buf{327}faloes’ tails, bracelets of beads and copper were put on hands and wrists, and a liberal allowance of powder was served out to all who had the good fortune to possess muskets.

As soon as all these preparations were made we shoved off, and the whole of the men in the three canoes struck up a song of rejoicing, the only mournful faces being those of the unfortunate slaves, whose numbers by death and sale had greatly dwindled since the time we had left Nyangwe. People on shore soon heard the sound of our songs, and little knots of gazers clustered on the dwarf red cliffs, eagerly pointing out to each other the boats of Tipolo returning from Manyuema. Some rushed off to convey the news to the Arabs and the freemen, the men from “the island” and the sea, that news had come, and good news, of those who had crossed the lake and ventured into strange and distant lands.

Soon drums and horns were heard, and on coming close to shore and rounding a point we came in sight of the settlement of Kawele, with its Arab houses, and its busy market in full swing. Among the market people we could see Arabs in their white dresses making their way to the landing-place, their followers shouting and dancing, beating drums, and blowing horns. To this we answered right royally; for never did I think that such a volume of sound could be emitted from human throats as the shouts and yells to which our men gave vent as we paddled and pulled past the landing, firing{328} our guns, beating our drums, and blowing our horns. I caught the infection and shouted with the best of them, and like a madman blazed away with a gun Hatibu had given me.

Three times did we pass up and down before the landing. We then stopped and drew up in line abreast, with our bows pointing towards the beach, and after a short pause dashed forward to it, redoubling if possible the rapidity of our fire and the noise we were making.

No sooner did the canoes touch the shore than they were seized by hundreds of willing hands and dragged up high and dry. In an instant Hatibu and his men were in the arms of their friends, who seized upon the ivory and loads to convey them to Tipolo’s house, even the women and children joining, tiny urchins of four and five begging to be allowed to carry something, no matter what, belonging to the men who had come from Manyuema.

The scene was one which it was impossible to describe. There were first of all the market-people from all parts of the shores of the lake, who in the daily market held at Kawele find a sale for their goods—fish (fresh and dried), meat, ghee, fowls, eggs, hemp from Ubwari, pottery and iron from Uvira, salt from Uvinza, ivory, and slaves—each of the tribes being distinguished by varieties in tattooing, manner of hair-dressing, and shape of their weapons. Then there were the Arabs and their followers from Zanzibar, and their Wanyamwesi porters, on this occasion suspending their buying{329} and selling to welcome their friends who had indeed returned alive from Manyuema.

It was some hours before the ferment and turmoil caused by our arrival had calmed down, and I was feeling sad at there being no one special friend to welcome me, as even the meanest of my companions found chums and admirers to listen to the wonderful tales he had to relate; but soon I found that good fellow Hatibu had not forgotten me, for a room was cleared for me, and such a meal as even in Tipolo’s house at Nyangwe I had never dreamed of was provided for me—curry, rice, fish, beef, wheaten cakes, sweetmeats, butter, milk, coffee. If, like Jack the Giant Killer, I had been provided with a leathern wallet, or had possessed the appetites of Gargantua or Dando the oyster-eater, I could not have done justice to the meal which was spread for me. Hatibu kept on urging me to eat, saying that Kawele in Ujiji was indeed a land of plenty, and the Arabs would not be pleased unless I ate all that was sent me.

After a time Hatibu was convinced this was an impossibility, and he led me away to where the principal Arabs were assembled under the veranda of a big house to learn news of Tipolo and Manyuema, and in return to tell us what had happened since Tipolo’s brother had quitted Kawele. Every man who had gone to Manyuema was asked after by name. When told that one was dead, the response was, “It is God’s will,” and when told that one was alive, “How many{330} slaves and how much ivory has he got?” Stories of the fight in which alone of all our party Hatibu, Bilal, and I had escaped were listened to with attention, and great was the astonishment manifested that I, a mzungu (a white man), should have survived all the difficulties and hardships I had encountered.

Hatibu and his companions had as many questions to ask about the fate of those they had left behind, and how the road was in front. The road, we heard, was good, and the people peaceful, the only trouble that had lately occurred being an attack made on a caravan by the Watuta (a predatory nomad tribe), who had been beaten off with severe loss, and would not likely give trouble again for a long time.

All indeed seemed couleur de rose, and when I slept at night I looked upon the time as being close at hand when I again should see my countrymen and hear my native tongue.{331}



Although Hatibu professed himself as desirous of pressing on as I did, I found he managed to have so much business to do at Kawele that we were detained there for weeks instead of days, as I had at first supposed. Though I was well lodged and well fed, and by the kindness of the Arabs well clothed, I was always longing for the time when we should again be on the march.

Hatibu here disposed of all his slaves, and to take their places in carrying the ivory, he hired Wanyamwesi who wished to return to their own country. I must say I was heartily glad to be freed from daily witnessing the hopeless toil of the poor wretches.

Loyal comrades as Hatibu and Bilal had proved themselves to me, I could not put up with the apathy with which they regarded the sufferings of these wretched creatures, and thought no more, if so much, of their life or death than if they were brute beasts. To my many remonstrances they would only say,{332} “What does it matter? they are only heathens and slaves;” and though they did not interfere with my doing what I could to alleviate their sufferings, they regarded my efforts with contemptuous indifference, and I verily believe in my own heart they thought I was an idiot for troubling myself about them.

Now we were clear of this. Instead of half-starved, chained wretches, our ivory was to be carried by stalwart Wanyamwesi, who from their very childhood had been in the habit of travelling and carrying heavy loads, supplying the Arabs with the best pagazi or porters that they find in Eastern Africa. A tusk weighing over fifty or sixty pounds, or even below these weights, had to be carried by two slaves; while the brawny fellows who now were to act as our carriers looked upon seventy or eighty pounds as a normal load. One fellow by himself actually carried a monster tusk weighing a hundred and twenty-five pounds, and seemed to find a recompense for his extra toil in the pride he took in carrying the largest piece of ivory we had.

With these fellows, however, we had to give in to their customs of the road; and the road to be taken and the places at which we were to halt were all laid down by the kirangosi, or leader. He marched at the head of the caravan, carrying his load like the rest, and decked in a fantastic manner with beads and feathers, and wearing when coming near a village a robe of scarlet baize, which was his right, in addition to the{333} wages of an ordinary porter. Besides this he was entitled to the head of every animal killed in the caravan, and the heads of fowls, goats, and of any game we shot were all scrupulously demanded by him, and after some process of cookery devoured by him and his companions.

Our departure took place early one morning. We went by water in boats and canoes to a place about four miles south of Kawele, so as to avoid crossing a river which fell into the lake; then after a short piece of flat ground, we commenced to ascend the lofty hills which lay behind. The difference between the Wanyamwesi and slaves as carriers of ivory was nowhere more marked than in this ascent. While the latter would have had to make innumerable halts, and have taken hours to reach the summit, the Wanyamwesi, without any delay, and to show off their manhood and strength, faced the steep ascent as if they were storming a fortress. In little more than fifty minutes we halted on the crest to take our last look at the Tanganyika.

The scene was one of marvellous beauty. The sides of the hills were clothed with forest, the sombre green of the larger forest trees being varied by flowering acacias, which stood out in patches of vivid colouring. At our feet lay a deep inlet of blue water; beyond lay the vast expanse of Tanganyika, shining beneath the rays of the sun like a surface of polished brass, on which the canoes of the fishermen and the floating islands{334} brought down by the numerous streams which feed this vast reservoir of the mighty Congo seemed like the merest specks; while in the far distance the mountains of Ugoma lay like clouds deep in shadow. Looking inland was one sea of forest, from which arose cloud-capped hills, and the only sign that human beings had any existence were dim wreaths of smoke, which betrayed the presence of the people of Ukaranga.

Our first camp lay near one of their villages, and a grinning human skull over its gateway, through which none of us were allowed to pass, showed how little the semi-civilization of Kawele had done to leaven the savagery of the surrounding peoples. Though this grinning remnant of mortality had a gruesome and forbidding appearance, we found the people ready enough to come to our camp to dispose of fowls, eggs, bananas, and other articles of food, for dried fish from the lake, with a goodly stock of which we had provided ourselves.

At night I spoke to Hatibu of all that lay before us. He said of one thing I might be sure—that as far as Unyanyembe we should travel fast, for the carriers were paid by the job irrespective of time, and were homeward bound. Sure enough I found they did not intend to loiter, for long before sunrise the horn of the kirangosi roused the sleeping camp, and as soon as the first glimmer of dawn enabled us to see how to avoid the difficulties of the road, loads were shouldered, and{335}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 334.



we commenced our march. We pressed on without a stoppage save for one day in order to buy salt, which would prove valuable on the road. For this we exchanged all the fish we had brought from Kawele, and the exchange certainly rendered the odour of our camp more pleasant than it had hitherto been.

It was curious to see how the people made the salt by simply boiling the soil in earthen pots, and then straining the water off the mud through rough sieves made of leaves and grass, and evaporating the brine. Usually the first filtration was not sufficient, and the process had often to be repeated four or five times before a coarse brown salt which looked like dirty sand was obtained. I was much astonished to find that though the whole country was impregnated with salt, the streams and rivers did not taste of it, but were perfectly fresh and sweet.

Six days after leaving Ujiji we arrived at the Malagarazi, whose red-brown waters we had seen discolouring the Tanganyika on our way northward to Kawele. Here we had to bargain with the lord of the ferry and his numerous subordinates for our passage across its swift and swirling waters. It was quite unfordable, and, as no trees grew on its banks, we had no means of bridging it, and had to cross in canoes.

The bargaining for permission to cross required both time and patience; and when it was all concluded I thought that certainly we should find some decent sort of craft provided to transport us and our belongings{338} to the farther bank. It was about an hour after sunrise when we arrived at the banks of the river, which were covered with dense masses of canes, and not a sign was there of the men or the canoes which had been promised and paid for. We waited while Hatibu sent messengers to press the chief to hurry his men, and sat waiting patiently for them to return on a small rise just outside the cane-swamp. Presently we saw one or two heads of men gliding down through the canes, and Hatibu shouted, “Pack up, pack up! see the canoes.”

All hands answered to his shout, and seizing their loads forced their way through the canes and mud to the edge of the river. There we found two things which might be called canoes, but were simply strips of bark eighteen or twenty feet long, with the ends pinched and sewn together, so that they formed troughs some fifteen inches wide and twelve deep. In one end (bow or stern one could not name it) stood a black fellow, who propelled his crazy craft with a long pole, punting in the shallows and paddling when he could not reach the bottom. In all my experiences I had never seen such frail and rickety craft as those now provided, and I wondered how we should get across without disaster, more especially as I was told that the river swarmed with crocodiles, and if one was capsized the chances were two to one in favour of being seized and carried off by these monsters.

A man with his load, and the ferryman, loaded the{339} frail craft far beyond the Board of Trade regulations. I watched with anxiety the passage of some twenty men and their loads. Seeing no disaster, I summoned up courage and stepped carefully and gingerly into one; then kneeling down and leaning forward I held on to the sticks which formed an apology for a gunwale, and gave the word to shove off. The water washed against my knuckles, and even trickled over the side, and I thought nothing could have saved me from an upset; but my dusky Charon was as deft in managing the balance of his swaying vessel as a rope-dancer, and I arrived at the farther bank, thankful to be across the Malagarazi safe and sound.

As soon as I was across Hatibu told me to go on with Bilal and the men already over to a neighbouring village, where we should stay for the night. Hatibu said that now no danger or difficulty lay between us and Unyanyembe. I at once pushed on, and soon came to a large stockaded village, where huts were cleared for our reception. When I looked at the elaborate nature of its defences I felt that they betokened an unsettled country, and thought Hatibu had spoken more hopefully than he was warranted in doing.

The mutwale, or chief of the village, came to gossip and stare at the mzungu (white man). Bilal found from him that the Watuta, whom we had heard of at Ujiji, were still about, had destroyed many villages, and would doubtless have attacked this one if it had not been for the memory of having been beaten off{340} with heavy loss some years previously. This was bad news indeed. Its truth was proved by the arrival during the afternoon and evening of fugitives from villages that had been attacked by these robbers. When night fell we could see the reflection of flames against the skies, which showed where the villages they had taken had been set on fire after their lust for murder and plunder had been satisfied. I was told that the Watuta if opposed never spare man, woman, or child, and that safety from their attacks is only to be found in flight or a successful resistance.

Hatibu and Bilal were much disturbed by this news, and though they did not doubt that the mutwale spoke the truth when he boasted of being able to resist any attack that the Watuta might make against his village fortress, they did not care to become involved in any struggle with them and lose much valuable time, and they began to consider what they should do to avoid them. The kirangosi was called into council, and he said, “The Watuta are very bad; they are wicked and hot as fire.”

“Well,” replied Hatibu, “we know that. We ask not from you what is known to all men. We want words of understanding, not words of foolishness.”

“Truly,” answered the man, “the way to Unyanyembe is short; but of what avail is it that the road is short? for the Watuta are there.”

I thought there was not much use in consulting a man who only answered in this manner, and said as{341} much to Hatibu. He said there was another and longer road, and this man knew it; and if he made the proposal to travel by it, all would go well, but that he himself did not want to propose it, as probably he would then refuse.

After sitting for some time in silence, Hatibu said it would be no use remaining where we were, and it would be best to return to Ujiji.

At this the kirangosi looked annoyed, and said, “Turn back upon our steps! No. The ivory may remain here, and you may go, but I and my men are going to the country of our brothers. We will not turn back.”

Another long silence followed, and then the kirangosi said: “Listen, masters. There is a road where the Watuta do not come, but it is long, and for many days we shall be in the forest and in the wild, and see no villages; but if my masters say the word, I and my men will take that road, and we will arrive in Unyanyembe in safety.”

This was what Hatibu had been waiting for, but he would not appear too eager to assent, and made it appear as if he were persuaded by the kirangosi to follow this other road. At last he said he would do as the kirangosi wished, and the latter springing to his feet said, “Let us be going. It is now night, and the Watuta sleep. By the morning we shall be far from them, and to-morrow night we shall be in the mountains of Kawendi, where they cannot follow us.”

In a moment all was bustle and preparation. Sleep{342}ing men were roused, loads were lashed up and shouldered, and the mutwale being persuaded by a handsome present to open the entrance of his village, we set forth on our march.

All night long we made our way along a narrow path, and in the morning found ourselves on the summit of a range of hills. To the north we could see wide plains mostly covered by forest, but with numerous villages and clearings scattered about, from some of which the rising of columns of smoke told us the Watuta were even then pursuing their work of destruction. To the south rose ranges of mountains, table-topped, with precipitous sides rising out of a sea of jungle. These were the mountains of Kawendi, and through them our path lay.

After a short halt for the purpose of cooking some food and resting, the iron-muscled Wanyamwesi shouted out that it was time to be on the march again, and though I know I felt tired and weary, there was no lagging. Soon we were rapidly descending the hillslopes towards a largish river which we saw lying below us. I asked how we were to cross this, as it seemed too broad to bridge; and as there were no signs of habitations near, we could not hope to find canoes like those in which we had been ferried across the Malagarazi.

Hatibu said, “That’s all right; the kirangosi says we shall cross on sindi.”

“Sindi! what is that?” I asked.{343}

“Wait, Franki, and you will see,” answered Hatibu.

I followed the long line of men, wondering what this sindi could be. Before reaching the river-bank I saw to my astonishment that some of the men were already across, and that others apparently, as far as I could see through trees and grass, were walking on the surface of the river. When I came to the bank I found that though there was open water to the right and left of us, the surface of the stream was covered with a matted growth of papyrus and other water-plants, sufficiently thick and buoyant to support our weight in crossing, and that all our men were without hesitation trusting themselves to its seemingly treacherous surface.

“Do you see and understand sindi now, Franki?” said Hatibu. “Follow close to me and step where I step, as there are holes sometimes, and if you fall through you will die.”

No warning was requisite to make me exercise caution, for the yielding, swaying surface caused a curious sense of insecurity. We got across to the other side without misadventure, and before nightfall we were among the mountains of Kawendi, and safe from any pursuit of the Watuta.

But though we had nothing to apprehend from human foes, we found that we had to struggle with other dangers, hardships, and difficulties.

First of all, the few inhabitants of the mountains were all separated into little village communities, perched on almost inaccessible crags. The people were{344} separated into a number of little independent communities, sometimes not numbering more than twenty or thirty of both sexes and all ages, and each little hamlet was at war with its neighbours. When we attempted to approach, to try to find provisions, the villagers closed the approaches, and in some instances rolled down stones upon the men who would have spoken to them, and when we were permitted to have any intercourse they could spare but little from their scanty stocks to satisfy our necessities.

Want of food did not diminish the difficulty in toiling up the steep hillsides and forcing our way through the tangled undergrowth in the ravines. When after five days of much and hard toil we reached the limit of this mountainous country, and saw a large village near us, we gave way to rejoicings, for now we thought we should be able to buy food, and to provide for the long stretch of uninhabited jungle which lay between the mountains of Kawendi and the first villages of Ugara, the westernmost of the countries comprised in the general name of Unyamwesi, or Country of the Moon.

But our rejoicings were premature, for as we drew near we heard drums beating and we saw that the people were prepared for war. The only response to men sent to call to the inhabitants that we came in peace and would pay for all we wanted was a volley of arrows. Our messengers came back and reported their reception. We were fain to resume our weary way hungry and dissatisfied. Hatibu would, I have no{345} doubt, if there had been any prospect of success, have willingly attacked these inhospitable niggards. He said that behind their village, which lay at the foot of a precipitous rocky hill, there were many caves, in which they would take refuge, and where they stored all their supplies. He bitterly complained of the bad policy of some of the traders in making slave-raids into these countries, and rendering all the people hostile to strangers.

As we turned our faces towards the forests which we had now to pass through we came upon some large patches of Indian corn nearly ripe. From these we managed to get a supply of food which would last some days; and I could not object, for without it there can be little doubt that we should have been starved.

Our kirangosi, who said he was well acquainted with this road, was soon obliged to confess himself at fault, and we had to trust to the general idea of the direction in which we wished to travel, and often came upon rivers, hills, and swamps, which greatly interfered with our progress. Fortunately we soon found game was plentiful, and we managed to shoot a few antelopes, one of which I believe must have been an eland. We shot also some buffaloes, which afforded a welcome supply of meat, our stock of Indian corn having become exhausted. Our men, when there was no game for the pot, had to resort to mushrooms of giant size and gorgeous colour, lichens off the trees, and even leaves and grass, to stay the cravings of their stomachs.{346}

Abundance of game was not without its drawbacks, as two incidents which occurred and which come vividly to my memory may prove. One day while we were all marching along slowly and sadly, no one having any heart for the songs or shouts with which the African usually enlivens his day’s march, I was astonished by seeing a sudden panic seize the carriers, who pitched their loads on the ground and scampering off to the handiest trees commenced to climb them. Hatibu shouted to me to follow him, as with the agility of a monkey he swung himself on to the lower branches of an acacia tree, regardless of the thorns, and I, hardly knowing what I was doing, hastened to place myself beside him.

Hardly was I in the branches when I heard a rushing sound below me of the trampling of hoofs, and a buffalo bull, with head down and tail up, charged along the path we were following, tossing and goring the abandoned loads, and was soon away again. Fortunately no damage was done, and we were soon all reassembled, laughing at the figures we had made in our hasty flight. Those who had guns lamented that no use had been made of them, and the buffalo turned into account by shooting him.

The other was also an adventure with a buffalo, and was another instance of the blind rage with which these animals at times seem to be possessed; but unfortunately it did not pass off in such a ludicrous and harmless manner.{347}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 346.



One evening, while searching round our camp for something which might serve for food, I came upon a small pond surrounded by reeds growing to a height of ten or twelve feet, and some men who were with me told me that the roots of these reeds and the fruit of a water-lily which grew in the pond were good to eat, and we set to work to collect some.

I was up to my waist in mud and water, picking the pods off the water-lilies, when I heard a scream and a crash, or more properly a crash and a scream, and I heard the voice of a man crying out, “Franki, Franki! mbogo, mbogo!” (buffalo, buffalo). Pushing through the reeds I saw one poor fellow on the ground gored by a buffalo, while another, though only armed with a shoka, or hatchet, was preparing to attack the infuriated animal.

I had nothing in my hands. For a moment I thought I could do nothing; but suddenly the idea entered my head to seize the buffalo by the tail, which I did. The brute was evidently surprised and astonished at this strange attack, and turned and twisted about trying to disencumber himself of me. Though dragged off my feet, fortunately I was able to keep my grip, and the man with the hatchet dealt him several blows on the head and neck, actually succeeding in hacking off one of his horns.

The beast rolled over in agony, dragging me with him, and I was in momentary fear of being crushed under his body. But aid was at hand, for Hatibu and{350} Bilal came rushing up with their guns, accompanied by men armed with spears, and in less time than it takes to write about it the animal had received the contents of both muskets and was riddled with spears. His death was almost instantaneous, and I was saved from my perilous position; but the poor fellow who had been first attacked received mortal injuries, and breathed his last before we could carry him into our camp.

The flesh of the buffalo formed a welcome addition to our lichens and roots; but two days afterwards we arrived in the first villages of Ugara, where we found food in plenty. Passing through Ugara and Uganda we reached the Arab settlement of Kazeh in Unyanyembe, where I found a number of Arab traders of various degrees, who were most kind to me, and did all they could to supply my wants.{351}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 349.





We remained in Kazeh for about a fortnight while Hatibu was engaging men to carry his ivory down to the coast; then, amid the farewells of the whole settlement, who were much excited by the news of the plenty and cheapness of ivory in Manyuema, we left for Bagamoyo, I being mounted on a donkey given me by Musa Mzuri (handsome Moses), an Indian merchant, who had been one of the first to settle in this place for trade.

Of my further journey to the coast there is little to tell. We experienced the usual difficulties with the churlish Wagogo, and had to endure hunger, thirst, and fatigue; but the countries through which we passed have been so well and often described by travellers such as Burton, Speke, and Stanley, that the history of our journey to Bagamoyo would possess but little interest.

It was with feelings of joy and gratitude that I again saw the briny waters of the ocean. Still more thankful was I when a few days afterwards I landed{354} at Zanzibar and heard again the English language, to which I had so long been a stranger. Her Majesty’s consul, Colonel Hamerton, congratulated me on being still alive and in good health after so many and so strange adventures and experiences.

Fortunately, a few days after my arrival, the German house of Witt and Company had a small brig which they were going to send home, and which was to touch at various places on the West Coast of Africa to exchange cowries collected on the shores and reefs near Zanzibar for palm oil. With great generosity they gave me a free passage in her, either to Hamburg, whither she was ultimately bound, or, if I preferred it, till such time as I might fall in with an English vessel which would take me to my own country.

We had a favourable voyage to the Bights, and I found that I had not altogether forgotten to be a sailor; but judge of my happiness and delight when just before entering the Old Calabar river we met a brig coming out at whose main-royal masthead flew the familiar black flag with a red diamond, which showed that she was the property of my father.

Captain Schmidt at once hove-to his vessel and lowered a boat, and soon I was again standing on the quarter-deck of the Petrel. My brother was now in command, with Jimmy Duds as his first mate, and their astonishment and joy were great when they at last understood that one they had mourned as dead was alive and again on board the old craft.{355}

[Image unavailable:]


Page 353.



My brother went back with me to the German brig to thank Captain Schmidt for his kindness and care of me, and wished him to accept payment for my passage from Zanzibar; but the worthy fellow refused any recompense, and it was with much difficulty that my brother induced him to accept a silver mug, which he chanced to have on board, as a remembrance of me.

When we were again on board the Petrel my brother gave me news of my father and aunt, who were both well and hearty. The former had now given up going down to the sea in ships, having settled down at Bristol, and put Willie, who had obtained his masters certificate, in command of the brig.

Pentlea, I heard, had been killed in resisting the capture of a slaver on board which he was, and his friend Camacho had shared his fate.

At the time I had seen the Petrel in the river they had been put on their guard by my cutting the branches from the schooner’s masthead, and they had fortunately been able to beat off the attack made by Okopa’s people and the schooner. The latter they had jammed on the bar, where she must have become a complete wreck. As they had not recognized me, they had no idea of my being in their neighbourhood. Indeed they had all supposed that I was either drowned or carried off by sharks when the boat capsized at Whydah.

My father had reported the attack on the Petrel, but having been seized with a bad fever he had gone home{358} without revisiting the river. It was not till on a subsequent voyage that he again visited the Ogowai, and this time in company with an English man-of-war. They had punished Okopa; and from Hararu, or Jack Sprat, they had learned of my being with Karema, and had sent messengers up to bring me down, but they had returned with the story that I was dead.

Willie said that now, if I wished, as he was free to go where he liked, he would go to the Ogowai, and there we accordingly sailed. On entering the river we were boarded by a canoe in which was my old friend Tom, who had succeeded to his father, and now ruled over both his village and that of Okopa.

Great were the rejoicings when it was known that I was alive, and these were not lessened by the gifts that we made to all who had befriended me.

I wished much to go up and visit Karema, but he, alas! was dead, and had been succeeded by one of his sons, to whom I sent a present of cloth, beads, guns, and powder, which would prove I was not ungrateful for the kindness I had received at his father’s hands.

Tom had plenty of ivory, india-rubber, logwood, and other produce, and before we left the Ogowai our holds were full, and we could shape our course for England, where in due time we arrived, and my father welcomed me as one from the dead.

Since then I have been to sea, and now command the Petrel, my brother having the charge of a fine barque{359} called the Ocean Queen, which my father was able to buy a couple of years ago; and now, lying off Whydah, I have employed my leisure time in writing down my experiences of Africa.

One thing I have learned, and that is to commiserate the lot of the slave. I trust that in a short time the inland traffic in human flesh will utterly cease, and that the labours of Livingstone and those who have followed in his footsteps will result in the opening up of Africa to the blessings of Christianity and civilization.



[A] Marimba are instruments formed of a number of keys of very hard wood, arranged on a frame under which are secured a number of gourds of various sizes. They are played on with two small sticks, and are much more pleasant to hear than most of the instruments of savages.

[B] The people of Zanzibar when in the interior always speak of the island we erroneously call by that name as “the island.” Unguja is the native name of the town known as Zanzibar by Europeans.

[C] When devout Moslems mention the name of the founder of their religion, they always add the words “whom God bless.”