[blocks in formation]

animals, laden with bales of goods for the interior. The drive was most interesting, every curve in the Simplon-like road unfolding fresh beauties. Treeferns, the papau, and air-plants of every colour, clothed the hill-sides. At dusk we reached Petropolis, a hill sanatorium, where we remained two or three days, enjoying its many natural beauties and the fine cool air.

Embarking again at Rio, the day after we left shore our attention was arrested by the cry of “ Man overboard !” The life-buoy was slipped and the cutter lowered. We saw the poor fellow struggling with the buoy, and then disappearing ; but he was picked up, and the ship stood on her course again, the whole taking place in less time than I have taken in mentioning the fact. Oddly enough, the hero of the scene got a fortnight's salt-water grog for having been in some forbidden place when the accident occurred. During the night of the 22d June, the tramping, rushing to and fro, and shouting of commands on deck, told there was a storm, and sleep was impossible. Sixteen hours afterwards, the sea still raging in striking magnificence, and the ship running along at eleven knots, the cry was again heard “Man overboard !” and every one sprang to his feet. Such was the discipline that, from the time I first heard the alarm till I saw the boat lowered in charge of two of the officers, Wilkinson and Gye, only two minutes elapsed. The man is seen clinging to the buoy; in the dusk of evening he is lost sight of; the boat also disappears ; the suspense is painful ; " burn a blue light;" the boat nears the ship; every one holds his breath, till at length the simple words, “ All right, sir !” convey joy and gladness to



all. The hardy English tar who had caused such excitement, actually assisted in rowing the boat back to the ship. We, of course, had our storm off the Cape

a midnight scene; and though we had four boats washed away, our mainyard sprung, and water rushing wildly through our cabins, the noble ship bore the strain most gallantly, anchoring the following day, 4th July, in Simon's Bay.

Sir George Grey, the Governor of the Cape, whom the Forte was conveying to his seat of

government, was a true friend to our expedition, and evinced the deepest interest in its progress. By his influence we obtained a grant of £300 from the Cape Parliament to supply us with a dozen baggage - mules. Two honourable members, who formed the minority, when the question was put, sagely remarked that “It was nothing to them where the source of the Nile was; every one knew it was south of the equator; not a bad guess! In the Governor's body-guard, when he called for volunteers to cross Africa, there was not even this minority-not a dissentient voice was heard ; all wished to go, and we selected ten—a corporal and nine privates of the Cape Mounted Rifles. When paraded for our inspection, they reminded me of the Goorkas of India. On the 16th July two teams of beautiful bays pulled up at the Admiral's house, Simon's Bay, where we then were, conveying these ten volunteers, who sat in the open four-wheeled vans looking very smart with their red caps, much to the envy of some Forte marines, who would have liked to go with us.

The embarking of the unmanageable mules was kindly effected by Mr Wilkinson of the Forte ; and hav

[blocks in formation]

ing bidden adieu to all her officers, we sailed that night for Zanzibar in H.M.'s steam-ship Brisk, 16 guns, Captain De Horsey. Sir Henry Keppel and Staff, on a tour of inspection, were also on board. The first night was one of intense discomfort. We were shut up within the walls of a screen-berth 10 feet by 10, the cots bumping against each other, a rolling sea, and half-a-dozen mules kicking and neighing in their misery all night long, and directly overhead. The officers, however, were extremely kind, and their wardroom so cheerful, that we soon forgot these midnight annoyances. Every morning a man named Long, a sailor, who said “he knew how to manage mules, as his mother kept a team,” would report that the mules were “all alive.” This was very superfluous news, for we had been hearing their music overhead all night. Often at dinnertime Long would take the favourable opportunity of exercising his mules about the deck, and giving the middies a chance of a ride. At roll-call of a Sunday, some of the names of the crew sounded very oddly. For instance, three Kroomen dignified themselves with the titles of “King John,” “Soda-water," and “ Prince of Wales;" while my servant answered to the name of “ April.” He was a jet-black man, and one of the “ Tots” (Hottentots), whose first essay as valet much amused us. I had never had pillow-slips on board, and he, thinking that I ought to possess them, found one for me the first night in the shape of my empty clothes-bag-a feat most creditable to his ingenuity and sense of cleanliness. On the 27th of July this same gentleman, while in Delagoa Bay, landed in green velvet shooting-coat, tight jockey-trousers, and neat regimental cap-quite a swell in compari

[blocks in formation]

son with his master ; but though he was considerably blacker than the natives there, and very probably came originally from the same stock, he told me that he did not understand a word of their language—a curious instance of negro affectation. These Delagoa men were the first genuine Africans I had made acquaintance with—bright-witted apparently, slim, and very ugly, with a wild avaricious look, eating and drinking anything you chose to offer them, and scrambling for the fag-ends of your cigars—all in strong contrast to the gentle Hindoo. What surprised me was, that near their conical grass huts they kept pigs, which are rarely seen near an Indian village. The breed was a very good short-nosed black kind. Two vessels in the harbour, manned by East Indians, were pronounced by the “Prince of Wales," and others who boarded them, to be fitted up for slaves; but the Portuguese governor assured us that no slaver had visited Delagoa since the last English man-of-war was there a year ago. This did not remove our suspicions, for the flat-roofed houses in the bazaar had every appearance of being receptacles for slaves.

On the night of the 1st August the Admiral indulged us all by landing on the uninhabited coral island of Europa. He was the first to “turn a turtle,” and in low water capsized and sat upon the animal all alone, while a jolly middie, named O’Rouke, ran for help. The beast was so strong that he was carrying the “light weight” out to sea by the use of his flappers, which acted to some purpose on the making tide, and on the Admiral's legs in particular. The doubtful struggle lasted an hour and a half, when some sailors came up and towed the vanquished turtle ashore



weight, 360 lb. The birds here were so tame and insensible to danger that the men were able to knock them over when on the ground with sticks and stones. Four living turtle were brought on board and placed on their backs, with a swab each as pillow. When the ship was at anchor they were lowered with a rope attached to them, and swam about playfully below the stern of the vessel, coming to the surface for air every thirty seconds. The butcher, while killing one by cutting its throat all round and opening holes in its groins, remarked that its thick blood felt “ cooler than a sheep’s,” and I observed it to be two degrees less than the atmosphere (78). He also entertained the common belief that turtle will only die at sunset.

On the 7th of August we lay off the wooden pier of the island of Mozambique, an extinct coral formation. Here Speke and I were able to converse, in their native tongue, with Indian traders living away from their wives and families, whom they had left behind in India. We saw an interesting sight at a ship-provisioner's : in his back premises we found a sewing-school of negro boys and girls, presided over by a black sempstress; the boys were on one side and the girls on the other, Quaker fashion, all very neat and orderly, and engaged in making shirts. Farther on, in a dirtier

quarter, women stood at a millstone grinding wheat, while others were alongside sifting it. One, a handsome gypsy-looking girl, had through her upper lip a large button of wood, which she sucked into her mouth most adeptly, in order to create a laugh and coquet for money. The cooks and henmen were of a lower grade; and two lads, who also begged hard, were in chains,

« ForrigeFortsett »