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RELEASE OF A SLAVE.
and cleaning corn, they were not much worked. The sole object of the owner was to keep them alive, and prevent their running away till sold at the coast. Ten men and five women had lately deserted, chains and all, from Sirboko, so that he did not approve of taking off their irons; "the birds would soon fly if he did.” They looked generally sullen and full of despair; but might be seen dancing, and even riotous at times, till a word from the earless imp of a boy restored order. One amongst them was of a cannibal race to the N.W. of the Tanganyika. In appearance he did not differ from the rest, but he was laughed at for his cannibal propensities, which were not entertained by them. Another who had been five years in chains was heard by Speke to say that “life was a burden to him ; he could stand it no longer.” We had observed him to be a good fellow, the leader and conductor of his
gang and we released him from bondage ; his chains were struck off with a hammer while he lay calmly with his head on a block. Once on his feet, a freed man, he did not seem to believe the fact ; but when attired in a clean sheet of calico by Baraka, he strutted about, the pet of our Seedees, and came to make us his best bow. His life had been hazardous, as proved by the spear-wounds in his body; he had been captured by the Watuta, who cut off several of his toes, and also some of his toe-nails. This man never deserted us the whole journey. It was his good fortune to reach Cairo, with the character of a faithful servant; and if any of his companions attempted to assault his benefactor Baraka, he would instantly fly to defend him.
The curiosity of the people was sometimes trying to our tempers; but it was excusable, as they had never
seen white men before. There was not the slightest privacy even inside our tent; they were certain to peer in. Sitting in the open air under a tree was tried, and succeeded best, for they saw you till they became tired of looking, or at your laughing at or mimicking them. Every one, except an old woman, was easy to manage. She would pester you with questions you didn't understand, didn't mind being laughed at, and would not leave till led away by some villager who took compassion on us. Another woman was most anxious to see my feet. “What had I under my shoes and socks? She had never seen such coverings.” I told her she could not be gratified till the evening, when I would take them off. The men were generally fawning, very inquisitive, and fond of putting their arms round Bombay's neck to try and get him to give them some present. Little satisfied them; and though we had all our kit without lock or key, we never suffered loss by theft in a Wezee village. At Sirboko's, thieves came one night, were caught, beaten, and dismissed. Exactly one month afterwards they again came, carrying away a tin case with clothes and writing materials, seven ivories of Sirboko's, &c. &c. Our Seedees were as active as policemen, flying about the whole night with torches, looking for the stolen goods, and at break of day they found the tin case, minus some things, including four tusks. To recover the rest a quack doctor or Mganga was sent for, an elderly-looking man, and he found the whole, except an ivory and a flannel shirt, in a couple of days. The thieves, in fear, had placed the articles at the doorway of the village. Our men were most excitable creatures.
If a cow attempted to break out of the village by jumping fences
SEEDEES AS SERVANTS.
and defied capture, they never thought of calming her, but all would arm with guns, spears, swords, and sticks, and chase her down till stupefied with fear. If they had been behaving badly, it did not prevent them from asking to have a cow given them; and on being refused, they never sulked, but took it out of you some other way by studying their own wishes, comforts, and wants in marching, halting, eating, drinking, or stealing whatever they pleased, and at night giving us the benefit of their laughter, shouting, and riots or howling, in imitation of a Wezee who has smoked bhang. Our cooks (Seedee boys) were most difficult to teach, though they had learned a little from the Cape men, who had always done this duty. The only idea these black roughs had of cooking for themselves was to stick a wooden skewer into a piece of meat and scorch it over the ashes, or make stirabout. No great cuisine could therefore be expected. Being anxious on one occasion to get some soup after a fever, and knowing the larder to contain only a wild duck, I asked Rehan, “ Could you get me some soup for breakfast? I cannot eat meat.” “Yes.” “What !” said I,“out of a duck?"
O yes.” Thinking him a clever fellow, I gladly consented; but his soup was only a thin watery stew, placed before me with the most perfect complaisance. Again, at 7 P.M., he came up asking would I like some dinner? He had not thought of preparing even a boiled potato. Such were the men we had as cooks for our entire journey. On the march a party of them tried, by holding out for three days in not accepting their rations, to extort double allowances, on account of the price of provisions; but finding it of no use, they quietly submitted. Again, they told us our donkeys
SEEDEES AS SOLDIERS.
would not live long if they were made to carry beef; and this I believe was only a device to get the meat themselves.
When detained for want of porters at Mineenga, we taught our men the sword exercise for an hour every afternoon. They were apt at learning, did remarkably well, and enjoyed it very much, though kept strictly to it for the time they were out. Not understanding discipline, if a shower of rain fell, they thought themselves at liberty to run off our parade-ground; and when I brought a cane in my hand, they could not resist a titter, thinking I had brought it to enforce orders, and not merely to show the sword positions. On the coast we had taught them the platoon exercise and target practice, but they never would take care of their ammunition, ramrods, or stoppers—always firing them away. On the arrival of a detachment, salutes of welcome must be fired, and always, on new moon being visible, each one would try to be the first to fire his gun. But with six months' drill and strict discipline, we saw that a negro could be made into a good light-infantry soldier; and if he only becomes attached to his officer, there is no more devoted follower in the world.
On arrival outside a Wezee village, generally a set of armed men would meet us, bounding on the grass, running in circles, making feints at our caravan, either in delight, or in attempts to frighten us. A shot in the air would cool their courage, though our porters on hearing it would sometimes drop their loads and fly in fear, but speedily returning when reassured. Men were in abundance in the country, and if a solitary one ran away, he could always be replaced. For
instance, a father saw his son carrying a load in our caravan; he led him angrily away, and we soon got another. But to collect one or two hundred we found a most difficult task: they are as fickle as the wind. A wave of a flag will attract them, while one misplaced expression will send them away discontented. They higgle pertinaciously about their hire; and after they have been induced to accept double wages, they suddenly change their minds, think you've got the best of it, and ask for more, or more commonly disappear.
One of the most pleasing sensations in going through an immense forest is suddenly to come upon the traces of man. The Wezee experience this, for, in their forest south of Kazeh, they erect triumphal arches with poles, over or by the side of the path. These they ornament with antelope-skulls, having the horns, or with elephant-dung, bones, bows, or broken gourds. It cheers the traveller, and gives fresh vigour to his wearied limbs, for he knows that camp and water are never far distant, and that the trumpet of the caravan leader must soon sound the welcome “halt." In travelling through these forests, the Unyamuezi rarely loses his way, as he is accustomed to range in woods, and to mark his route either by breaking boughs or noting the position of the sun.
During my fifty-five days' detention at Mineenga, Speke had been away for sixteen days at Kazeh trying to procure porters by means of the Arabs. The third day after his return, the 18th of May 1861, I marched northward with a detachment of forty loads, making for Ukuni. He picked me up on the 21st, and I again went on alone, and reached it on the