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228

THE KING'S LOVE FOR SPORT.

The boy, through Speke’s intercession, was pardoned, and it was thought he would never again be punished; but on Bombay asking this high functionary “how the son was ; had anything more been said of it?” the father replied, “My boy was killed yesterday for another offence.” A child-page whom we took an interest in, and whom Speke had dressed up very gaily, named Loogohie (or cloth), got into a dreadful scrape one day for coughing while the king was at dinner. It was thought his little ears would have been cut off, and he laughed very much when he found he had escaped, but he did not expect to live long, as he was always getting into hot water. On my asking what the king had killed when out shooting, Loogohie's reply was that, “ As his highness could not get any game to shoot at, he shot down many people.”

The king had become so fond of the gun, that, like a young sportsman, he seemed to dream of it. In the early morning his gun or the rattle of the diminutive drums which always accompanied his movements was heard. Interviews were difficult; his whole time was occupied. He had received so many presents from us, he had made so many promises to open the road, and his pages had stolen for him so much of our ammunition, that he at last was ashamed of himself, and suddenly permitted us to leave. For several days neither of us could visit him, being unwell, but Bombay, by showing some pictures to his servants, conveyed such accounts of us that communication was sometimes obtained. In a book he had received from Rumanika, ‘Kaffir Laws,' his highness wished all the birds he had shot to be painted in imitation of our sketch-books. His pages pestered us, and became

NO COINAGE IN THE COUNTRY.

229

bold and insolent, walking into our hut, taking up anything they saw to examine it, or coming with the king's orders that our very beds, chairs, guns, shoes, &c., were wanted by the king, and saying there must be no delay about sending them. The union - jack which we had got from Admiral Keppel was also demanded. All these indignities, added to the brutal treatment of the women, made us feel that Uganda was not the “ garden of pleasure” we had heard it called, and that the conduct of the king was a worse form of plundering than we had experienced in the Ugogo and southern territories. Here, by robbing us of our ammunition, they had placed us in a defenceless position ; and though we did not want their offered hundreds of women and hundreds of cattle, it induced our Seedees to become mutinous, saying, “Although you don't take them, we will, for as yet we have received nothing but broken bones for the 2000 dollars' worth of property given to M’tessa.” They refused to march with us until they obtained sufficient ball-cartridge. This occurred just previous to our departure, up to which time our men had been gathering a precarious existence from what could be plundered from the gardens.

No beads were allowed to be taken here by the natives, although privately they would always purchase sufficient provision for ourselves and men. Cowries were a more current coin, one hundred of these shells making one string

= a bunch of a hundred plantain=the skin of a goat; and a single large gourdful of wine cost a sheet of bark-cloth. We fortunately received goats now and then from the king, and sweet potatoes from one of the gardeners in exchange for

230

THE PUBLIC EXECUTIONERS.

beads. There was no flour nor milk used in the country, the natives living entirely upon plantain boiled, or made into wine, which they called “m'wengé.” There was very little drunkenness visible. Cattle were rarely seen : the hills all round were such a mass of tall reeds and grasses that they could not penetrate them ; even a dog would have had difficulty in hunting through these thickets. Pleasant walks were cut through them, and kept from being grown over by the constant transit of slave parties. Katoonzee returned from one of these during my stay at Uganda. He had captured 130 women, chiefly old, and only fit for weeding the fields. Some few, fitted for wives, stood apart, to be given away to men thought deserving, or whose services were to be rewarded. Each woman of this class was worth three cows. An instance occurred of the king having given a single slave to one of his officers for some service performed, and the man being bold enough to ask for another, was cut to pieces with the usual reed knife. His limbs were carried away openly, while the trunk was wrapped in a cloth. There were several executioners, men of rank, who were the privy councillors of the king. These men had numbers of followers, distinguished by wearing their mark of office-a short turban of cord-and sometimes carrying a peculiarlyshaped bludgeon. Konzah has been mentioned; another, named Oozoongoo, was always carried to court in a litter, being an invalid. On meeting him, he would stop to speak, and in expression had nothing repulsive; but when seen with a wreath of black fringe encircling his head, hiding his eyes,

and hanging down to near his mouth, his appearance was com

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pletely changed, and he reminded one of a black Highland bull looking fiercely through his forelock. Both these executioners were really polite men, always frank when met at the palace-much more so than the kamaraviona (commander-in-chief), who was a proud, haughty young fellow. One day I had the curiosity to follow a poor woman who was led by a boy to be killed. She carried a small hoe, balanced upon her head. No one told me she was under sentence, but the cord on the wrist was sufficient; and after travelling for half a mile, I followed her down to the executioner's gardens. Waiting outside for some time, not a sound was heard, nor a person seen. A lazy, yellow-beaked vulture, the cannibal of Uganda, sat perched on the stump of a broken tree; others hovered high overhead, looking on the scene below. This circumstantial evidence was enough for me, and I returned.

One of the sights at the capital of Uganda was to watch the crowds of men on the highroad leading to the palace; all were under officers, perhaps a hundred in one party. If wood is carried into the palace up the hill, it must be done as neatly as a regiment performs a manoeuvre on parade, and with the same precision. After the logs are carried a certain distance, the men charge up hill, with walking-sticks at the “slope,” to the sound of the drum, shouting and chorussing. On reaching their officer, they drop on their knees to salute, by saying repeatedly in one voice the word “n'yans” (thanks). Then they go back, charging down hill, stooping simultaneously to pick up the wood, till, step by step—it taking several hours—the neatly-cut logs are regularly stacked in the palace

232

YOUNG GIRLS PRESENTED TO THE KING.

yards. Each officer of a district would seem to have a different mode of drill. The Wazeewah, with long sticks, were remarkably well disciplined, shouting and marching all in regular time, every club going through the same movement, the most attractive part of the drill being when all crouched simultaneously, and then advanced in open ranks, swinging their bodies to the roll of their drums.

At every new moon M'tessa went through an examination of his idol horns; but I should not suppose him to be much of an augur: he was too light-headed and fond of field-sports, of boating, swimming, and music, to give much attention to making rain, &c. He left all these things to the Witchwezee race who were about him, and seldom denied himself to visitors at the time of new moon. On the very day that four of his women were going to execution, at an audience given to ourselves and in our presence, some maidens were offered for his harem. He had detained us in an outer court for a long time, and probably brought us in to enjoy our surprise at the poor naked offerings. Each held by the upper corners an open napkin in front of her, and all were smeared with grease and decorated with girdles and necklaces of beads. After being reviewed without a smile, they were told to face to the right, and march to the “zenana.” As was customary, the king then sat on the knees of the matron-like woman who had presented the maidens, and, having ordered all away but ourselves, the interpreters, and some young lads, a conversation began about men and women in general. It is, however, worthy of remark, that M'tessa never behaved indecently by word or deed while women were present;

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