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48

MOOSSAH, AN INDIAN TRADER.

and threes. The matting in the houses was full of bugs, or ticks, which pestered one while seated at night, causing considerable irritation.

It is not a country for ivory, the natives seldom if ever bringing any for sale. Grain was so scarce that slaves could be purchased for two fathoms of calico. One day a naked native passed us in charge of three Seedees armed with spears. They had found him stealing, and offered him for sale. No one would purchase him, and he was taken to the sultan, who would, as Moossah said, either spear him, keep him as a slave, or allow him to be sold. Slaves from the northern kingdoms of Uganda, &c., were considered the most valuable, just in the same way as many persons consider a country girl the best servant. They were held to be more trustworthy than men from the coast, made excellent servants, and were famous at killing or capturing wild animals. The most esteemed women were of the Wahumah tribe from Karague; they resembled the Abyssinians.

Let me give the reader some idea of our life here. Moossah, an Indian in whose house we resided, was a fine benevolent old man, with an establishment of 300 native men and women round him. His abode had, three years ago, taken two months to build, and it was surrounded by a circular wall which enclosed his houses, fruit and vegetable gardens, and his stock of cattle. The lady who presided over the whole was of most portly dimensions, and her word was law. Moossah sat from morn till night with his “foondee,” or chief manager, and other head servants within sight, receiving salutes and compliments from the rich and poor at the front or gentlemen's side of the house,

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MOOSSAH'S HOUSEHOLD AT KAZEH.

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while the lady presided over the domestic arrangements of the interior. We had full access to both, and no house could be conducted with greater regularity. At three o'clock in the morning, Moossah, who had led a hard life in his day, would call out for his little pill of opium, which he never missed for forty years. This would brighten him up till noon. He would then transact business, chat, and give you the gossip at any hour you might sit by him on his carpet. To us it seemed strange that he never stopped talking when prayers from the Koran were being read to him by a “Bookeen," or Madagascar man.

Perhaps he had little respect for the officiating priest, as the same reverend and learned gentleman was accustomed to make him his shirts! After a mid-day sleep, he would refresh himself with a second but larger pill, transact business, and so end the day. The harem department presented a more domestic scene. At dawn, women in robes of coloured chintz, their hair neatly plaited, gave fresh milk to the swarm of black cats, or churned butter in gourds by rocking it to and fro on their laps. By seven o'clock the whole place was swept clean. Some of the household fed the game-fowls, or looked after the ducks and pigeons; two women chained by the neck fetched firewood, or ground com at a stone; children would eat together without dispute, because a matron presided over them ;—all were quiet, industrious beings, never idle, and as happy as the day was long. When any of Moossah's wives gave birth to a child there was universal rejoicing; the infant was brought to show its sex: and when one died, the shrill laments of the women were heard all night long. When a child misbehaved, we white men were pointed

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MOOSSAH'S HEAD KEEPER.

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at to frighten it, as nurses at home too often do with ghost stories.

The most important functionary about this court was the head keeper or foondee, who had been a slave all his life, and now possessed a village with a farm and cattle. His daily duty was to sit within sight of his master. On Speke calling to see his collection of horns, and extract a bullet from the leg of one of his slaves, the foondee made us heartily wel

Stools were placed, and in gratitude for the operation he produced some ripe plantain, and showed us about his premises. He also took us to one of his favourite shooting-grounds, where he certainly knew how to make himself comfortable. His servants had constructed for him a most luxurious waterproof hut with broad stripes of freshly-cut bark, and a capital bedstead of boughs. At night five fires were kept burning round him to keep off the musquitoes. The grate was most original : three stout pegs of

green wood driven into the ground, forming an equilateral triangle, answered every purpose of an iron utensil, and on it a frying-pan, made of bark, frizzled mushrooms and meat to the chief's satisfaction. By his own account, he had shot many a lion from trees; and during the march to and from Zanzibar with his master's property, he, with a staff of under-keepers, used to supply the porters with rations from wild animals, which plan saved the expenditure of bead - money. He had many sporting stories. The lion, he said, seldom killed men; but, not long ago, one had jumped the wall of the building and killed five cows, two of which he dragged over the wall—the natives fearing to impede his course.

MOOSSAH'S WATUSI COWHERDS.

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Moossah's cowherds were a very interesting set of people—so well-featured, tall, and generally superior to the Africans, that I took great interest in them. They were Watusi from Karague. There were ten men and women, all with woolly hair—the men leaving a crescent of it unshaved.

Their gums were blackened with a preparation from the tamarind-seed, powdered, roasted, and mixed into a paste with blue vitriol, and afterwards heated until fit for use. Their ornaments were large solid rings of brass upon the wrists, and iron rings, in masses, on their ankles. In walking they carried a bow and arrow, a staff, and longstemmed pipe. The women were of a large stamp, with fine oval faces and erect figures, clad in welldressed cow-skin from above their waists to their small feet. Their huts were quite different from any we had seen, being shaped like the half of an orange, and only five feet high, made of boughs, and covered with grass very neatly. There was but one door; the hut had no chimney, the smoke finding its way through the light grass roof. I observed a portable Indian “choolah” or fireplace inside the hut, which was kept tidily floored with hay.

These Watusi are a curious and distinct race. Previous to milking the cows in the morning, they wash themselves, their teeth, and their wooden milk-vessels or gourds with the urine of the animal, as they consider there is some virtue in it, afterwards using fresh water for cleansing. They are allowed half the milk, and Moossah had his half milked into his own clean vessels in the morning at eight o'clock. It took the milk of two cows to fill one good-sized tin teapot. A cow's value was four or five dollars, though a first

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WATUSI MODE OF SALUTATION.

class one would cost double, or £2. Men milked them into a large crucible of wood or gourd in an open yard; the hind-legs were tied above the hocks with a thong of leather; one of their handsome women sat on the other side with a bough beating off the flies, and with a stick to keep away the calf which stood at its mother's head, a boy sometimes assisting. Should the calf die, its skin is stuffed and placed before the cow, otherwise she refuses her milk. The Wanyamuezi look with great respect on this people. When two of them meet, the Wezee puts both his palms together, these are gently clasped by the Watusi, a few inaudible words are repeated, and they pass on.

The form of salutation when a Watusi meets one of his women senior to himself is gentle and pleasing; he places his hands on her arms below her shoulders, while her hands hang by her side.

The way in which an African leads a goat or cow is different from the manner in this country. The fore-leg of the goat is held up by the man, who walks briskly along as if he led a child. An unruly cow is never tied by the head: a man walks behind it, having hold of a rope tied tightly round its hock; this plan seems to subdue or Rareyfy the animal most completely. For several days after our arrival, different Arab residents sent us presents of eggs, some coffee, a fatted cow, rice, or a goat-a very pleasing custom, which was intended as their call upon us.

We in return sent each a handsome cloth, which they valued very much. This friendly ceremony over, they freely asked our advice when necessary.

For two years, since the death of the chief of the country, the people of Kazeh had been fighting against

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