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WOMEN SENT TO EXECUTION.
nails to his hands and feet; the instep of the latter was, as in most of the Waganda, highly arched, indicating a well-moulded sinewy leg. His barkcloth“ toga” had not a speck upon it, and was neatly knotted over the right shoulder, concealing his whole body. His ornaments of beads were made with great taste in the choice of colours; the most minute beads of white, blue, and brown were made into rings and rosettes, which he wore round his neck and arms. Each finger had upon it a ring of brass; on the third finger of the left hand he wore a gold ring, given him by Speke; with these he played while sitting at his levees, occasionally receiving a golden-coloured gourdcup of wine from a maid of honour sitting by his side ; after each sip, a napkin of bark-cloth was used by him to wipe his mouth. The only unseemly vulgarity he was guilty of while on his throne was to use his napkin to rub away the perspiration from his per
On leaving the court, and getting outside the last gate of the palace, a woman's screams made us look back; a cord was tied round her wrist, and a man dragged her, almost naked, down the hill to be executed; she screamed “N’yawoh! n'yawoh !' (Mother! mother!) in the most bitter anguish. A second, similarly tied, followed slowly, but not uttering a sound. A shudder of horror crept over me. Had we been the cause of this calamity ? and could the young prince with whom we had conversed so pleasantly have had the heart to order the poor women to be put to death?
The road to our hut was crowded by files of men dressed as “ Neptunes,” in tattered leaves of plantain, their limbs coloured with ashes and vermilion, and
KING'S BROTHERS IN CHAINS.
girdles of long-haired goatskin (from Usoga) hanging from their backs and waists. Daily these wild-looking creatures shouted and rushed with all their might along the roads, spears and shields being held high in the air; they were M'tessa's men preparing and drilling for a slave-hunting campaign. The day after my first visit to the king, he came to return the call without giving us any warning. We heard a noisy crowd passing outside our enclosure, and immediately, through the fence, came the young king in a tremendous hurry. He was not the puppet of yesterday, but dressed, like a negro sailor, in an open coat of bed-curtain chintz, loose white trousers or “ pyjamas," having a broad stripe of scarlet ; his feet and head were naked. He was shown into an iron chair, and seeing some books he turned over their pages as a monkey would; asked to see the picture of Rumanika, and said he would like to know when his own portrait was to be done. His brothers, a mob of little ragamuffins, several in handcuffs, sat behind him chattering very familiarly, and tearing all the while at sugar-cane. I was told to show them my hair by taking off my hat. We were asked if we did not admire the leather wideawake made by one of the brothers ?—and the vulture, the dove, and the horn-bill his highness had just shot? This scene over, the king rose, ordered Speke to follow him, and, led by the mob of brothers, all rushed madly away. On following them, the chained lads, escorted by two servants, were very much in the rear, and hobbled along, poor little fellows, in perfect good-humour, looking as strong, healthy, and contented as any of the others. It was said that the king, before coming to the throne,
INTERVIEW WITH THE MOTHER OF THE KING.
always went about in irons, as his small brothers now do. Where could they have got this custom ? Wishing to know what had become of Speke, I went in search of him, and found on the way a flight of pages —there is no other name for it, as they always go at full speed, their robes flying, when serving the king. They were going with torches to light his highness home; but they knew not what route he had taken. It afterwards appeared that he had entered a house to dine upon boiled beef and wine, a share of which he offered to Speke; then, taking a suit of clothes out of the tin box he had got from us, and which was carried to this picnic, he cast aside his torn and dirty suit for another, and went home by torchlight and drums.
My introduction to the king's mother took place on the 1st of June. Captain Speke and myself went with five or six Seedees carrying pads of grass (stools not being permitted), with our gourds of pombé, our sucking-reeds, and umbrellas. The dowager lady had been informed of our intention, but took her time as to seeing us. Walking over one hill to the top of another, in three-quarters of an hour we were at her royal highness's gate. On getting as far as the second courtyard, we were told to wait, with the other visitors, in the drum or ante-house. Here for an hour we were left to smoke, drink, and doze. A musical instrument in the place was new to me-a harmonicon of twelve blocks of wood, which, on being struck, gave out notes as glasses do when played. They rested upon the trunks of plantain, and were isolated from each other by thin reeds. We took our hats off on approaching the old lady, who laughed
CONDESCENSION OF HER MAJESTY.
most heartily, and welcomed us with great cordiality, telling us to sit in front of and near her. She seemed to me like a Tartar woman, being fair-skinned, stout, and short. Her head was shaved, and had a cord tied round it. Conversation was kept up briskly for an hour or so, during which she fondled in her lap a plaything the size and shape of a hedgehog, studded with cowries and beads. She sipped at wine, looked at herself in a small mirror, smoked, and, like any housewife at home, gave orders to her domestics. Quantities of plantain neatly tied up and arranged in line, several basketfuls of boiled beef also tied round with leaves, were laid out as a present for Mariboo and myself. Each basket of beef was tasted by one of her officers tearing a bit away with his teeth, and we took our leave, very much pleased with her good-humour and homeliness. Many other calls were made upon her by invitation; but although we sat waiting the dowager for hours amongst steaming natives, she did not always give us an interview, saying she was too busy or too tired. Her brother, Katoonzee, an officer of high rank, and with a most distingué Uganda air, pointing his toes and showing off his high instep as he walked, was treated with as much ceremony as ourselves, generally being obliged to sit so far distant from her that he had to bawl out to make himself heard. However, the dowager would allow him to whisper jokes into her ear, and be familiar enough when few were present. Any wine intended for us her majesty always tasted before it was presented. This was a condescension on her part not shown to every one.
The people of Uganda require to have the permis
SPEKE'S INFLUENCE AT COURT.
sion of an officer before the barber can use his razor. The women seen about the queen’s residence had no hair, neither had she; all were shaved, and only a few in M’tessa's court were allowed to dress their hair in the same aristocratic fashion as the king. One of these women, in the bloom of youth, we one day saw led to execution. She was the fourth female victim that had passed that day. Her back was covered with scars, and blood appeared on her neck. She wept bitterly. Notwithstanding this circumstance, when we went and had an interview with the king, we found him as gay and cheerful as ever. His detective Maulah lived next hut to ours, and the shrieks of poor people, night and day, were quite heartrending. Not only were their cries heard, but each lash of the stick was distinct; and being in such close proximity to the place of torture was a severe trial. When Maulah captures women, they are asked, “Will you live with so and so ?” if they object, the rod is applied, and consent in this way is forced upon them. He and other chief officers were very jealous of Speke's influence with the king, for they knew he could at times obtain an interview, while they had to wait for days. On seeing us return from the palace, Maulah would inquire, “ Have you seen the king ?” and when we wished for an interview, and asked how it could be brought about, he would coarsely reply, “ Are you kings, that you always expect to be received ?" Certainly our influence had a most beneficial effect. Not only did Speke save the lives of many, but men about court got him to intercede with the king on several occasions. The executioner Konzah had a favourite son, who was under sentence.