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218

THE AMAZON SIMILAR TO UGANDA.

Nile went to Misr (Egypt). The men and women killed daily by a blow on the back of the head are cut in pieces by knives made from the common reed; the pieces are then put into a cloth, and thrown to the birds ; Masoongo, the head executioner, reserving for himself all their hearts! Speke had saved the lives of four or five people. If a man is seen being led away with his hands tied in front, he is marked for execution—if they are tied behind, he is under sentence of a fine."

We shall by-and-by see whether this gossip, brought me by the Seedees, had any truth in it. And it may not be uninteresting to mention here, that at a private audience given me by his Holiness the Pope in 1864, when I submitted to him a map of our route, explaining the general configuration of the country upon the equator, he remarked with animation, that my description tallied with what he had observed in the country of the Amazon, where he had passed many years of his life as a missionary,-a fact I had not known before. The Amazon is in the same parallel of latitude as Uganda.

CHAPTER X.

UGANDA, MAY 27 TO JULY 7, 1862— MEETING WITH CAPTAIN

SPEKE - AUDIENCE WITH THE KING OF UGANDA — THE QUEEN'S DRAWING-ROOM—THE DETECTIVE SYSTEM- -THE EXECUTIONERS-STICK DRILL-INGENIOUS WORKMEN IN UGANDA-A STORM.

The day of my arrival at the Uganda capital, the 27th of May 1862, was one not only of intense joy, but deep thankfulness. I felt that my prayers for our safety had been heard. Speke and I had been separated for upwards of four months, and on being led by some of his men to the small hut he occupied, we were so happy to be together again, and had so much to say, that when the pages of the king burst in with the royal mandate that his Highness must see me “to-morrow,” we were indignant at the intrusion. The morrow, however, came, and with it the same sharp, intelligent boys, to say that my stool might be brought to sit upon in the presence of the king.

of the king. Accordingly, the present of a gun and some ammunition having been graciously received by him, at three o'clock, dressed in my best suit-i. e., white trousers, blue flannel coat, shepherd's-plaid shirt, a helmet, and a red turban—I

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MY FIRST INTERVIEW WITH M'TESSA.

sallied forth with Speke and some Seedees to make the call. It may be mentioned, as a curious custom of the court at Uganda, that when I told Speke that I meant to wear knickerbockers at the levee, he warned me that I should not be considered “dressed” if any portion of my bare leg was left exposed. This costume, because my stockings were not long enough, had therefore to be abandoned for white trousers. In proceeding to the palace we had to make one short descent, cross a bog, with grass thrown over it to keep the feet from being soiled, and rise on a broad road to the top of a hill, on which several hundred houses were built, each surrounded with a screen of tall reeds. The outer gate, having iron bells behind it, was slid aside, and we entered under a cord strung with charms. Here was a wide oblong space, screened all round; one steep-roofed house, beautifully thatched, was the only dwelling visible. Inside its wide threshold sat a single figure; and on the open space in front a mob of bare-headed, well-dressed Africans sat, forming a crescent, and facing “His Majesty M’tessa." Our approach was abruptly stopped, and we were directed to halt. Some minutes elapsed, the court broke up, and the mass of people ran quickly through a wicket that had been opened. We followed, but the doorkeeper closed the gate, and ten minutes elapsed ere we were admitted. We next entered a similar place, but smaller, and stood in the sun, uncomfortable enough, till permitted to be seated on our stools, with our hats off and umbrellas

up. M'tessa sat upon a bench of grass, with a dog behind him. His kamaraviona (commander-in-chief) was the only man allowed to sit at his feet; a sister and

MY FIRST INTERVIEW WITH MÖTESSA.

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several women were on his left, also seated on the ground under the shade of the lofty cane-and-grass building. His quick eye detected that part of my hand had been cut of. “How did this happen?” He no doubt fancied that some offence had been committed by me, as it was the custom of his court to maim people by cutting off fingers, feet, or ears for even slight offences. He spoke in whispers to his pages, when Mariboo, the officer who had charge of me from Karague, informed him that I had received the wound in my hand in action; he also told him of the difficulties he had in bringing me to his majesty. The people listened with the most perfect decorum, only once interrupted by a sudden arrest. Maulah, the chief“ detective,” observing some breach of etiquette -probably a man speaking above his breath-suddenly seized the offender, and dragged him away. The look of anguish of the miserable creature thus apprehended was most painful. No one ventured to show sympathy; and Maulah soon returned alone, looking pleased and satisfied.

Conversation is never interrupted by these scenes ; music from drums and other instruments drown any noise made by a poor prisoner, or it is continued to please the ears of those attending the levee. The mode of testifying allegiance was curious; the mob suddenly stood up en masse, with their long sticks balanced in the air, and charged towards the threshold several times, with shouts of praise for their king, who made no acknowledgment. The court broke up, after an hour, by the king walking away on tiptoe, with the most ludicrous swagger, through a screen leading into another enclosure.

The doors were

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M'TESSA, THE KING OF UGANDA.

for us.

opened and shut by men, who watched every movement of the king, for fear they should be discovered off the alert, and punished according to his caprice. A short time afterwards, a third scene was prepared

On entering the courtyard, M'tessa leant in a studied, affected attitude against the portico; about two hundred women sat on the ground on one side, and we were told to bring our chairs to within twenty yards of him, facing the women. No men except our Seedee interpreters were present. The remarks of the great potentate, who regarded us with a kindly surprised air, were confined to his favourite women, and seemed to be concerning our appearance.

After a time, the thought seemed to strike him that we all ought to remove to some more shaded place. This was the only sensible thing he had done. Making us draw our stools close to the iron chair on which he sat, the conversation turned upon sport, our expedition, &c. A woman ran to fetch the gun he had that day been presented with; two others held spears beautifully polished. He signalled that I was to show

my head uncovered to the ladies ; a titter followed, and all of us laughed heartily. Another signal, and I was told to place my hat on; this made us all feel less restraint; and the women were not afraid to return our smiles at the ridiculous formality of the

As the sun was approaching the horizon, this “ drawing-room” was ended by M'tessa walking away, leaving us to reflect on the strange events of the day. He was a tall, well-built young fellow, sprightly in manner, very vain, his woolly hair dressed with the greatest care; small head, remarkably prominent clever-looking clear eyes, good teeth, and long

scene.

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